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New on DVD: 'Kick-Ass,' 'The Ghost Writer' and 'A Prophet'

Posted 1:34pm on Thursday, Aug. 05, 2010

Kick-Ass

Mindy Macready (Chloe Moretz) is a pint-sized, foulmouthed preteen, schooled in the art of weaponry by her vengeance-obsessed father, Damon (Nicolas Cage). Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a scrawny, hapless high-schooler. The joke is that these two pipsqueaks will eventually become "Hit-Girl" and "Kick-Ass," the salvation of a drug- and violence-plagued New York City. Based on a comic-book series by Mark Millar, the movie simultaneously mocks and exults in the earnest premise of most superhero pictures. It's called getting your cake and eating it, too, and for the most part Kick-Ass is able to pull it off. Director Matthew Vaughn fills the movie with as many gunfights, kung-fu battles and fiery explosions as he can muster.

The Ghost Writer is an absorbing thriller about a ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) hired to rewrite the political memoirs of a controversial former British prime minister (a nicely shifty Pierce Brosnan). After taking such a somber turn with The Pianist (2002), it's wonderful to see director Roman Polanski display some of the brazen, merciless wit of his early thrillers, like Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby.

A Prophet is a Scorsese-flavored epic set mostly within the confines of a large prison, about a young Arab man who rises through the ranks of the prison's Corsican gang. Director Jacques Audiard tackles grand questions about national identity, the shifting nature of political power and racial divisions in modern France. Not unlike The Godfather pictures, this is pulp fiction with extraordinary depth of feeling and purpose.

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