The Short Goodbye
Arrested Development: Season Three (Fox)
The final collection of Arrested Development discs feels sadly incomplete: only 13 episodes this time, the result of Fox's inability to attract viewers to one of TV's greatest comedies and the network's unwillingness to give it a full farewell. But none of that diminishes the quality of the show about the world's most dysfunctional family. And if the third season didn't have the consistency of the second, it had more extreme highs -- the Charlize Theron shot as the spy who wasn't exactly what she appeared to be, Justine Bateman as the hooker with a thing for Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman, her real-life bro), the Iraq adios, full of Saddam Hussein look-alikes. No show was more perfectly acted or perfectly pitched or, well, perfect. --Robert Wilonsky
Kissing on the Mouth (Heretic)
Let's just admit up front: This isn't a very good movie. In many ways it's just more white young adults complaining, and it's as visually ugly, formless, and flabby as a buffet line. But as an experiment in intimacy in video, it's worth watching. The technique is simple: The film's four stars are also its entire crew. You're invited to get uncomfortably close, and not just in the graphic sex scenes. Kissing isn't afraid to delve into sexless nudity, as when we see the actresses' mundane pubic-grooming. (Particularly good is one girl's defense of her theory that she would never fall in love with someone who didn't like The Simpsons.) And the conversations aren't so much improvised as they are documentary glimpses into the minds of the cast. But for all the thrill of being so close to the characters, Kissing falls for the fallacy that movies about bored and aimless young folks need to be boring and aimless. --Jordan Harper
Water (Fox Searchlight)
Deepa Mehta's film is about the triumph of love and the human spirit over those forces that would deaden our souls, if you like that sort of thing. Set in 1930s India, it explores the world of ashrams, where widows must go after their husbands' deaths to ensure their eternal fidelity. Wow, that's sexist. When an eight-year-old girl's arranged husband dies, confining this joyful child to a life sentence in the ashram, the more astute viewer may begin to suspect that this system just might be wrong. Okay, Water looks great, and in its native India, fundamentalists tried very hard to halt production (as you'll learn in the more interesting making-of doc). But the film just feels manipulative, from its life-affirming moppet to its hunky, bespectacled Gandhi fan who swoops in to save the day. It's as subtle as Rocky IV, but with fewer training montages. --J.H.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Limited Edition (New Line)
The cynic--and, really, is there one among the legion of Lord of the Rings fans?--will dismiss these three double-disc releases as a lousy cash-in; if you want the theatrical and/or extended versions of Peter Jackson's movies, you probably already own them, and offering them as a single package is no great shakes at this late date. Each comes with new making-of docs, which consist, more or less, of raw footage during which the movie's stars and extras can be seen and heard cracking up and killing time during breaks. New Line swears it couldn't release the docs separately, so you're forced to shell out the long green to watch Jackson and his crew look for lost film while Ian McKellen fiddles with his headgear. --R.W.
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