‘Silence of the Lambs,' ‘Chihuahua' lead new Blu-ray releases

Doug Nye
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)

Two vastly different films - the disturbing Oscar-winning "The Silence of the Lambs" (MGM, 1991, $34.99) and the family-friendly "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" (Walt Disney, 2008, $34.99) - lead a short list of this week's Blu-ray titles.

Anthony Hopkins plays Dr. Hannibal Lecter, one of the most terrifying characters ever seen on the screen, in "The Silence of the Lambs." Not only is he responsible for a string of brutal murders but he also enjoys eating his victims, which has earned him the nickname "Hannibal the Cannibal."

Now in prison, Lecter is called upon for help by the FBI in a case involving a serial killer called Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), who has been kidnapping and killing young women. Assigned to work with Lecter is young FBI cadet Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), who finds that one of her biggest task is to survive the prisoner's mind games.

Her hope is to win Lecter's confidence in time to save another girl from becoming the next victim. It is a gripping, tense movie experience.

Hopkins and Foster both won Oscars for their performances. The film took the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Screenplay adaptation and Jonathan Demme won for Best Director. Highly recommended.

"Beverly Hills Chihuahua" is simply a fun piece of entertainment. Chloe (voice of Drew Barrymore) is a spoiled and pampered Chihuahua who lives with her doting master (Jamie Lee Curtis) in Beverly Hills. While on vacation in Mexico Chloe becomes lost and needs the help of many animal friends to find her way back home.

Also coming to her rescue is Papi (voice of George Lopez) who has a crush on her. During her journey she makes friends with a German shepherd (Andy Garcia) and has to flee from a fierce Doberman (Edward James Olmos). She also is introduced to a hidden, beautiful Mexican city inhabited only by Chihuahuas.

The party sequence with all the Chihuahuas singing and dancing is a tribute to the special effects department. Walt Disney may be gone but his magic lives on. Highly recommended.

Other Blu-ray releases:

"Australia" (20th Century Fox, 2008, $39.99): This sweeping romantic epic is a joy to behold in the Blu-ray high definition format. Nicole Kidman plays Lady Sarah Ashley, who inherits an Australian cattle station after he husband is murdered in 1939. A cattle drover (Hugh Jackman) attempts to help her when cattle barons try to take over her land and animals. Meanwhile, there are others things to worry about. World War II has begun and Australia has become ther target of Japanese bombers. Recommended.

"I've Loved You So Long" (Sony, 2008, $39.95): Kristin Scott Thomas is outstanding as Juliette Fontaine, a woman who has spent 15 years in prison for a horrendous crime. When she is finally released, Juliette moves in with her sister Lea (Elsa Zylberstein). The two gradually get to know each other again while Juliette continues to be haunted by her past. The film is presented in its original French language with English subtitles. There also is a version dubbed in English with the bilingual Thomas providing her own voice. Recommended.

"Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic" (Warner, 2008, $34.99): Inspired by a popular graphic novel, this "film" brings the novel to life with limited animation in a story that unfolds in a dozen 30-minute episodes. It should certainly appeal to the fans of the book. It is being issued on Blu-ray to coincide with the release of the "Watchmen" motion picture.

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