DVD Releases for April 22nd.

Charlie Wilson’s War (2007) Dir: Mike Nichols, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Extras: The Making of Charlie Wilson’s War, Who Is Charlie Wilson $29.98 (Universal)
Charlie Wilson (Hanks) was a bachelor congressman from Texas whose “Good Time Charlie” exterior masked an extraordinary mind, a deep sense of patriotism and a passion for the underdog. In the early 1980s the underdog was Afghanistan—which had just been brutally invaded by the Russians. Charlie’s longtime friend, patron and sometime lover was Joanne Herring (Roberts), one of the wealthiest women in Texas and a virulent anti-communist. Believing the American response to the Russian invasion was anemic at best, she proded Charlie into doing more for the Mujahideen (Afghan freedom fighters).

Charlie’s partner in this uphill endeavor was CIA Agent Gust Avrakotos (Hoffman), a blue-collar operative in a company of Ivy League blue bloods. Together, the three of them—Charlie, Joanne and Gust—traveled the world to form unlikely alliances among the Pakistanis, Israelis, Egyptians, arms dealers, law makers and a belly dancer. Their success was remarkable. Funding for covert operations against the Soviets went from $5 million to $1 billion annually. The Red Army retreated out of Afghanistan. When asked how a group of peasants was able to deliver such a decisive blow to the army of a superpower, Pakistani President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq responded simply, “Charlie did it.”

Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The West Wing) delivers a snappy script loaded with delightful banter and Tom Hanks really seems to be having a ball here. Not a great film, but a fun one that should be seen by anyone that likes good dialogue.

Cloverfield (2007) Dir: Matt Reeves Extras: Commentary by Director Matt Reeves, The Making of Cloverfield, Cloverfield Visual Effects, I Saw It! It’s Alive! It’s Huge, Clover Fun, 4 Additional Scenes & 2 Alternate Endings (Paramount)

“Five young New Yorkers throw their friend a going-away party the night that a monster the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city. Told from the point of view of their video camera, the film is a document of their attempt to survive the most surreal, horrifying event of their lives.”

JJ Abrams produced this monster flick that is part special effects blockbuster, part low-budget monster flick. My review will be up later today.