All the Pretty Horses/A Love Song for Bobby Long/The Squid and Whale/Off the Map [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

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Synopsis

The Squid and the Whale
Two boys learn the hard way about how a marriage falls apart in this independent comedy drama. Bernard (Jeff Daniels) is a novelist whose career has gone into a slow decline as he spends more time teaching and less time writing. His wife, Joan (Laura Linney), meanwhile, has recently begun publishing her own work to widespread acclaim, which only increases the growing tension between them. One day, Bernard and Joan's two sons -- 16-year-old Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and 12-year-old Frank (Owen Kline) -- are told that their parents are separating, with Bernard renting a house on the other side of their Park Slope, Brooklyn, neighborhood. As the parents set up a schedule for spending time with their children, Walt and Jesse can hardly imagine that things could get more combative between their folks, but they do, as Joan begins dating Ivan (William Baldwin), Frank's tennis instructor, and Bernard starts sharing the house with Lili (Anna Paquin), one of his students. Meanwhile, the two boys begin taking sides in the battle between their parents, with Walt taking after his father and Frank siding with his mom. Based on writer/director Noah Baumbach's own childhood experiences with his parents' divorce, The Squid and the Whale won prizes for writing and direction at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

All the Pretty Horses
Director Billy Bob Thornton explores coming of age in this Western based on Cormac McCarthy's prize-winning novel of the same name. John Grady Cole (Matt Damon) and Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) are young Texan men who seek a more fulfilling life as cowboys in the slowly fading Old West, circa 1949. One night, the duo head for Mexico in hope of finding some adventure and employment, and along the way run into Blevins (Lucas Black), an even younger drifter who has supposedly stolen a horse from private property. Begrudgingly, Cole and Rawlins take him under their wing before they eventually find themselves in Mexico, working for a wealthy landowner (Ruben Blades). His stalwart and beautiful daughter Alejandra (Penelope Cruz) develops a romantic interest in Cole, which threatens the friendship between him and Rawlins, not to mention their living quarters, where Alejandra's watchful aunt (Miriam Colon) warns Cole that she has professed allegiance to her. Cole and Rawlins' thrill-seeking adventures with Blevins and the stolen horse catch up to them, however, and they are held prisoners in a brutal penitentiary, where their cowboy instincts are put to the ultimate test. Cole, meanwhile, wants nothing more than to get back to Alejandra and resume their love affair. The film also features Bruce Dern in a small role as a judge who eventually gives much-desired guidance to Cole. ~ Jason Clark, Rovi

A Love Song For Bobby Long
Bobby Long (John Travolta) is a washed up former literature professor with a voracious drinking habit. He lives in a rundown house in New Orleans with Lawson Pines (Gabriel Macht of The Recruit), his former star pupil, also an alcoholic. Lawson is allegedly writing a novel about Bobby. Their depressive little corner of the world is disrupted when Lorraine, the beloved eccentric singer who owns their house, dies. Her teenage daughter, Pursy (Scarlett Johansson), who hasn't seen her mother in years, arrives in town too late for the funeral, and crashes at the house. Afraid of being thrown out on the street, Bobby convinces Lawson to tell Pursy that the house has been left to all three of them. Pursy, having little else to do, decides to move in, and starts cleaning up the place, making it her own. Lawson is involved with Georgianna (Deborah Kara Unger), who works at the local bar, but he quickly develops a crush on the comely Pursy. The cantankerous Bobby seems determined to drive the girl away. As Pursy settles into the diverse little community, all of Lorraine's old friends tell her how much she looks like her mother, and she begins to uncover some startling truths about her family history. A Love Song for Bobby Long is based on the novel Off Magazine Street, by Ronald Everett Capps. It was adapted for the screen and directed by Shainee Gabel, who co-directed the documentary Anthem. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi

Off the Map
Campbell Scott directed this offbeat comedy drama about a free-thinking family who find themselves confronted by the more regimented outside world. Bo Groden (Valentina d'Angelis) is an 11-year-old girl growing up as part of a decidedly eccentric family in a small town in New Mexico. Bo's father, Charley (Sam Elliott), has fallen into a deep depression for reasons no one can understand, while her mother, Arlene (Joan Allen), holds the household together, raising most of their food in her vegetable garden, which she prefers to tend in the nude. Bo, meanwhile, satisfies her sweet tooth by writing candy companies claiming to have had problems with their products, which usually results in a box of fresh goodies. While the Grodens get by through living within simple means, one day an Internal Revenue Agent appears at their door, wanting to know why the family hasn't paid income tax for several years -- and not believing there has been no appreciable income for so many years. Off the Map was screened in competition at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Jeff Daniels
    Jeff Daniels - Bernard Berkman
  • Laura Linney
    Laura Linney - Joan Berkman
  • Jesse Eisenberg
    Jesse Eisenberg - Walt Berkman
  • Owen Kline
    Owen Kline - Frank Berkman
  • William Baldwin
    William Baldwin - Ivan

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