“The Da Vinci Code”
In case you’re one of the four people who never read or saw The Da Vinci Code, it begins with Harvard professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), in Paris for a lecture on feminine symbolism when its disrupted when he's implicated in a murder at the Louvre. He joins forces with the cryptographer granddaughter (Audrey Tautou) of the murdered curator, and they go on the lam to clear his name and discover they’re really set up to solve the mystery of the Holy Grail.
While it doesn’t live up to the book of the same title, author Dan Brown’s previous novel, “Angels and Demons” with the same character Langdon on another mission to unravel the ancient secret society of Masons, is really the more sophisticated story. The Da Vinci Code is a watered down version that exceptional book. That aside, The Da Vinci Code was really entertaining, in spite of its lack of ingenuity. Hanks and Tautou, along with director Ron Howard, hold our interest from start to finish with lavish locations from Paris to London.
The extras on the DVD set consist of 11 featurettes that collectively are the equivalent of a making-of documentary having a total running time of an hour and a half. For the most part, the featurettes are fairly pedestrian, but “Magical Places” is about the fantastic locations. The Louvre and London's Temple Church, in front of Westminster Abbey, are all amazing settings, but Lincoln Cathedral stood in for the Abbey's interior. —Dina Losito
“Leonard Cohen, I’m Your Man”
Lions Gate Entertainment
Leonard Cohen manages to garner fans from the unlikeliest of places despite his distinctly un-rock-&-roll appearance and a set of songs that veer closer to poetry than to Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back.” But I digress. If you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of the man behind some of the most deeply pensive music ever recorded should look elsewhere. Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man contains precious little insight from Cohen himself.
Instead, director Lian Lunson has pieced together a tender homage to the Canadian singer, combed from his many celebrity fans while also sharing footage from a Cohen tribute concert in 2005. The concert was filmed in Australia and the bulk of the celebrity testimonials coming from performers at the show.
The eclectic array of artists taking part include Nick Cave, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, Martha and Rufus Wainwright, and folk legend Linda Thompson, all of whom perform unique interpretations of Cohen-penned classics such as “I'm Your Man” (Cave) and “Chelsea Hotel #2” (Rufus Wainwright). Lunson intersperses the concert footage with interviews from the stars, the most vocal and effusive praise coming from the Edge and Bono from U2, who are seen backing Cohen on a moving rendition of “Tower of Song” to close the documentary.
Cohen himself is also given some screen time in which he muses on a number of interesting topics, but Lunson's piece is mostly designed as a straight tribute to a man who has never sat easily in the contemporary music world, much to the delight of his fans.—Dina Losito