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Hoop Dreams Come True 

Wednesday, Mar 15 2006
Through the Fire (Disney)

He's averaging just nine points in his second season for the Portland Trail Blazers, but considering where he came from and what he's overcome, Sebastian Telfair is doing just fine, thank you. Jonathan Hock's fascinating documentary takes us back to the young New York basketball legend's pivotal senior year in Brooklyn -- the year he committed to playing at the University of Louisville, when he led his team to a third straight all-city championship, when the lure of wealth and the pressures of a family on the ropes compelled him to skip college. Not just for 17-year-olds, this dramatic study of dream and ambition raises disturbing questions about sport and society. The DVD's numerous extras include deleted scenes and interviews with Telfair and coach Rick Pitino. -- Bill Gallo

A History of Violence (New Line)

Contrary to what critics insisted, A History of Violence is not a meditation on identity or an exploration of America's violent subconscious. Like all of David Cronenberg's films, a thin eggshell of ideas covers a yummy yolk of kinky sex, violence, and gore -- not the other way around. If it makes you feel better to think you're learning something, fine. But leave the rest of us to enjoy Viggo Mortensen's small-town fella who suddenly displays a knack for ass-kicking, as well as, yes, the violence and kinky sex. (Only Cronenberg would represent idyllic small-town life with a cheerleader 69.) Among the docs and commentaries, two features stand out: A deleted scene is accompanied by an insightful explanation of why it was cut, and a piece on the differences between the American and European versions includes split-screen replays of the grossest moments. -- Jordan Harper

Good Night, and Good Luck (Warner Bros.)

Good Night, and Good Luck is so puffed up -- such an Oscar film -- that it ought to be bad. It's so self-righteous, so heavy-handed in its allegory of Bush's America that it should be a bore. But, like director George Clooney, the Edward R. Murrow biopic escapes banality through good-natured charm. Portraying a beloved journalist standing up to the Red Scare means you don't have to work that hard to win over your audience, and the movie rolls along like a slick history lesson. It's a hagiography, but sometimes it's better to leave moral ambiguity to the historians and let art be art. Unfortunately, the DVD leaves nothing to the historians; instead of the Murrow documentary you'll crave, you're given a mundane making-of doc. Clooney's commentary is both self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing, and as charming as anything else the man touches. -- Harper

Spring Break Shark Attack (Paramount)

Let's be frank: If you're going to make a movie about wild college students on spring break getting eaten by tiger sharks, you really ought to throw in some bare breasts and maybe some well-gnawed stumps. Anyone noticing the "not rated" label and hoping for the good stuff, beware: This sucker debuted last March on CBS, and it's clean as Pavarotti's plate. There's hardly even any sharks; we spend more time with The O.C. 's Shannon Lucio, as a good girl contemplating being deflowered by a townie. There's some heavy-handed metaphor about roofie-toting date-rape "sharks"; then, finally, someone gets eaten. By the time the gang is trapped overnight on a fishing boat, surrounded by circling fins, you'll be rooting for the fish. Best just to make a drinking game of it. Try sipping every time you see water. -- Harper

About The Authors

Bill Gallo


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