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Jane Eyre pleases, Beaver surprises, Prom plods along predictably

Jane Eyre

Its a daunting task, bringing a story as beloved as Jane Eyre to the screen, especially when its been done oodles of times before. Charlotte Brontes gothic novel is tailor-made for the screen, what with rambles in creepy moor country, devilish fireside chats, and that strange business up in the attic. Its a love story, a horror story and a coming-of-age tale all rolled into one delicious package, if done right.

Director Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre) gets it right. Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) stars as our teenage heroine, who has endured a childhood full of abuse, only to be hired as a nanny and made to endure more from her employer, the bitter Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender). But Jane is not to be intimidated, whether its by Rochester, by St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell) or by those laments and groans coming from upstairs. A bright combination of reverence to the original text and extra tweaking of the gothic elements makes Fukunagas film a winner.

Relatively brief special features on the standard disc include director commentary, deleted scenes, a short piece on Dario Marianellis score, and The Mysterious Light of Jane Eyre: getting that candlelit creepiness just right.

The Beaver

The Beaver will make you uncomfortable for several reasons. First, our protagonist sports a beaver puppet while showering, jogging, and during sex (the puppet is even seen panting after coitus). Second, the man sporting the puppet is actor Mel Gibson, whose apparent mental instability of late has made him a pariah in the industry.

Gibsons Walter has suffered crippling depression for years. Once a loving husband and father, Walter barely functions at work, almost never speaks, and sleeps most of the time. Then Walter puts on the beaver puppet, who starts communicatingin broad Cockney accenteverything Walter is thinking and feeling. The Beaver inspires a best-selling idea at Walters toy company, and Walters wife (Jodie Foster) is still wary, but lets him move back into the family home. Hes backor, at least, the puppet Walter is.

The euphoric high cant last forever, of course, and a parallel story between Walters elder son (a very good Anton Yelchin) shows the shame and fear of living with mental illness in the family. We dont quite buy the love story between Walter and Meredith, but Gibsons performance is mesmerizing enough to distract us from it.

Special features include deleted scenes, commentary with director/actor Jodie Foster, and a making-of extra featuring interviews with the entire cast.

Prom

Everything is bigger and brasher these days, isnt it? When I went to prom, Im pretty sure the guy who asked me mumbled something about his friends thinking it was a good idea we go together. According to Disneys Prom, todays teens demand grand gestures. Thus the guys hoist banners over freeways, put a zillion stickie notes on cars, stage elaborate productions in the schools theatre. (And yes, its the guys who ask the girls here; no Sadie Hawkins for Disney.)

There is nothing earth-shattering about Prom, which has echoes of every John Hughes movie in the book, but somehow there are enough stories and momentum in the narrative to keep things interesting. Nova (Aimee Teegarden) is the prom committee doyenne, whos taken care of every detail except securing herself a prom date. After disaster strikes three weeks before the big night and she has to start the planning from scratch, the school rebel (think Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club) is commanded to help. Jesses (Thomas McDonell) attitude toward prom, unsurprisingly, leans toward the who-gives-a-crap variety, but being thrown together in close confines brings about feelings that no oneexcept all of us in the audiencesaw coming. Side plots involve unrequited love, separation anxiety, and a sexy Greek girl from Canada. Refreshingly, there are no mean-girl cheerleaders nor football hazing: everyone seems to have a decent head on her shoulders and most kids are college-bound.

Special features on the blu-ray include a whole extra devoted to the lovable Lloyd (Nicholas Braun), kid-appropriate bloopers, deleted scenes, a whole bunch of music videos and a making-of feature entitled Putting on Prom.

In brief:

Morgan Spurlock, the man who put his health on the line with Supersize Me, is back with a look at advertising as it pertains to the movie industry, In POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. The quest to get the documentary funded entirely by sponsors IS the movie. Rejected by many of the biggies, Spurlock signs on Ban deodorant, and things roll on from there, with POM Wonderful beverage paying $1 million for the above-the-title spot. Along the way Spurlock talks to industry players (producer Brett Ratner) and advertising watchdogs (Noam Chomsky) conscious of the razor-fine line between selling out and buying in. Special features include a behind-the-scenes look at the POM commercial spot, trailer, deleted scenes, and all the films mini commercials.

Trigger, from Canadian director Bruce McDonald and writer Daniel McIvor, shines a light on Vic and Kat (Tracy Wright and Molly Parker) 10 years after booze and drugs claimed their successful rock and roll partnership. Over the course of one night in Toronto, the two women chat, fight, and dissect what went wrong in their relationship. A benefit concert honouring women in Canadian rock is the impetus to reunite and bury the hatchet, but its clear that old wounds are still raw. The interminably talky movie is best when its focusing on Vic and Kats struggles to overcome their addictions, but is less effective in summing up their fractured friendship.

jcrawfordfilm@gmail.com