Anonymous – A fun piece of historical fiction. Shakespeare nuts will eat this up, as will fans of The Tudors. Excellent acting and costumes help buoy a convoluted story that contends William Shakespeare was simply the front for a ghostwriter, nobleman Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans), who was forbidden by social customs to express himself artistically. Vanessa Redgrave leaves an impression as Queen Elizabeth, and Rafe Spall plays the actual Shakespeare, portrayed as a bumbling, barely literate half-wit. Director Roland Emmerich delivers a commentary track, and a featurette explores the historical question of who really wrote Shakespeare's plays.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – Grave Danger Blu-ray – I haven't watched CSI since its first years on the air and didn't realize Quentin Tarantino had guest-directed a two-episode arc in 2005. Since the wildly entertaining director can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes, I was excited to see his twisted take on a TV detective procedural. The disappointing result is just a better-than-average set of episodes that shows little of Tarantino's distinct cleverness or storytelling verve. The show, presented seamlessly as an 82-minute movie on the disc, is about the team's efforts to find one of their own, who has been trapped by a madman and buried alive with a webcam that provides live video. A featurette ironically talks up Tarantino's style, precious little of which shows up in the finished product.
Lady and the Tramp Blu-ray – The 1955 Disney classic glows on Blu-ray. The story is a heart-melting romance between a sheltered cocker spaniel and a streetwise mutt. The iconic scene in which the characters share a plate of spaghetti is what most remember about the movie, but it's also a solid love story with many funny moments that nearly vaults the film into Disney's top tier. The Blu-ray/DVD combo includes a making-of featurette, storyboards, commentary, deleted scenes and a look at the making of the somewhat racist Siamese cat song.
Love Story Blu-ray – The 1970 tearjerker has aged so badly that it's just about transformed into a campy comedy that mocks itself. Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw play a married couple whose sometimes tempestuous relationship gets even rockier when McGraw is diagnosed with a fatal illness. The film is the prototype for every heavy-handed romance you've seen or read since, and even though the movie lacks much artistic quality, its influence is undeniable. As far as extras go, there's a making-of featurette and director commentary.
The Sunset Limited – A My Dinner With Andre-like film-long discussion pits Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson in 90 minutes of intense conversation about life, spirituality and morality in tense back-and-forth. Utterly believable dialogue and effortless performances by the actors make the film mesmerizing. Extras include commentary from Jones, Jackson and writer Cormac McCarthy, as well as a making-of documentary.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 – Due out Friday, the fourth film in the series of Stephenie Meyer adaptations finally sees downbeat lovers Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) get married and get it on in the sack. They also play a bunch of chess, which isn't a double entendre. They just sort of get bored and play board games. The film is a dry, slow letdown that serves only as a setup for this year's series finale, but completists who adore the series will want to add this to their collections. Director Bill Condon's commentary and a six-part making-of doc highlight the extras. If you're going to buy the DVD or Blu-ray, you might want to hit Walmart at 11 p.m. Thursday night, where you'll be able to bond with fanatics in a midnight launch party. You also can buy an exclusive edition with a wedding poster and a disc with a couple bonus music videos.
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas – A great comedy that surpassed all my expectations, this zany Christmas-themed lark reunites the pothead duo as they unintentionally destroy Christmas trees, get a baby high and shoot Santa Claus in the face. John Cho and Kal Penn are at the top of their games, Neil Patrick Harris remains good for a brilliant, self-mocking cameo, and an animated robot provides an admirable supporting turn. Extras include the making of the film's claymation segment and deleted scenes.