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Best Actresses

Sandra Bullock's Oscar winning performance is out on DVD as are three compelling performances by
actresses in foreign films - all on tap for this edition of DVD Recommendations.
The Blind Side  (Warner Home Video)  Sandra Bullock, dolled up with blonde highlights, pink
lipstick, tailored suits, lots of jewelry and a no-nonsense Southern accent, is a caring Christian lady
who takes in a solemn giant - a shy, African-American high school student who turns out to have a
talent for football.  The movie, based on a true story, expertly pours the Bullock audiences love into
one of those high profile roles that sweeps away the competition and wins all the awards.  It worked
for Julia Roberts with
Erin Brockovich and Sally Field in Norma Rae and has worked for many, many
other actresses more popular with audiences than critics.  One reaches back as far as Joan Crawford
to find a superior example with her Oscar win for
Mildred Pierce.  None of this dilutes the pleasure of
watching Bullock take on all comers in this by the numbers sports film.  The stars aligned on this one
but knowing this doesn't make it any less entertaining.

Broken Embraces  (Sony)  Out director-writer, Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, has crafted
another winning role for his muse Penelope Cruz who delivers another sexy, fully faceted
performance in this romantic mystery noir ala the classic
Laura.  Though the movie's entertaining and
features nods to earlier Almodovar works like
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (and
includes a nice cameo from Rossy DePalma who I desperately miss in his movies), this one doesn't
resonate quite as deeply as
Volver, Bad Education or All About My Mother.  But Cruz's luscious
performance, along with her supporting cast, and enough twists and turns still make this light years
ahead of its American counterparts.  Hey, it's Almodovar and Cruz?  You're going to miss it?  Didn't
think so.

The Stoning of Soraya M  (Lionsgate)  Shorheh Aghdashloo, who became familiar to American
audiences with her wonderful work in
House of Sand & Fog, enlivens this based on a true drama of a
terrible secret that a reporter stumbles on in a remote Iranian village.  Talk about the antithesis of
women's lib!  An involving story about power, deception, and senseless brutality - all directed at the
poor, put upon women forced to cower under the veil in the name of ancient customs.  Mozhan Marnò
plays Soraya - the kind mother who just wants things to be fair when her horrid husband pushes her
toward a divorce - which sets off the horrific chain of events.

Lorna's Silence  (Sony)  Arta Dobrishi plays Lorna who is at the center of a story of a group of
desperately poor Eastern Europeans trying for a better life.  Lorna has married Claudy, a junkie, in
order to get citizenship in her new husband's country Belgium.  But then Fabio, who arranged the
marriage, wants Lorna to kill off Claudy and marry a Russian mobster who is also looking for Belgium
citizenship.  Everything's for sell in this bleak, darkly filmed, yet gripping character drama that hinges
on the performance of the leads which finds a new discovery in the work of Dobrishi.
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