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Critic-proof `Ghost' will ride again

June 10, 2007|Susan King

The Life After: Reviews were generally nasty -- in fact, Sony didn't screen the film for critics until opening day -- but that didn't stop Marvel Comics fans and action junkies from turning out in droves to see "Ghost Rider," which revs onto DVD Tuesday. Nicolas Cage -- having a very bad hair day -- plays the leather-clad, flaming skeleton on a motorcycle named Johnny Blaze. As a young man, Johnny had sold his soul to Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) for his father (Brett Cullen) to be cured of cancer. Wes Bentley plays the devil's obnoxious son, whom the Ghost Rider must send back to hell.

Eva Mendes plays his childhood flame -- no pun intended -- with whom he reunites. Writer-director Mark Steven Johnson, who made the significantly stronger "Daredevil," helmed "Ghost Rider," which took two years after production began to hit theaters.

'Breach' is back

The Life After 2: Released the same weekend as "Ghost Rider," the taut spy thriller "Breach," arriving Tuesday on DVD, got lost in the shuffle. Reviews were almost uniformly positive, but it managed to make only $33 million in the U.S.

Perhaps "Breach" was released too close to another spy movie, "The Good Shepherd," starring Matt Damon and directed by Robert De Niro, which had come out two months earlier.

"Breach" may find its audience on DVD, especially those viewers who love to watch actors at the peak of their powers. And performances don't get much better than Oscar winner Chris Cooper's as veteran FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who stole secrets for Moscow for 22 years. Over the decades, he gave the Russians some 6,000 pages of classified documents as well as 26 diskettes. His actions also caused the deaths of several agents.

The underrated Ryan Phillippe plays young, ambitious FBI agent Eric O'Neill, who is assigned to not only work with Hanssen but to be a watchdog for the agency. Laura Linney plays the special agent to whom O'Neill reports. "Breach" was co-written and directed by Billy Ray, who had previously helmed "Shattered Glass," the 2003 film that also dealt with hidden lives, lies and deception -- at the New Republic magazine.

Five films from Yasujiro Ozu

The Master: Earlier this year, Criterion's no-frills Eclipse line released rarely seen Ingmar Bergman films as well as the personal documentaries of French filmmaker Louis Malle.

Now Eclipse offers "Late Ozu," five films from the legendary Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu: "Early Spring," his first film after the international success of "Tokyo Story," which explores postwar Japan through the eyes of a young salaryman; "Tokyo Twilight," a drama about two sisters, considered one of his most incisive examinations of family strife; "Equinox Flower," his first color film, about an old-fashioned father and his modern daughter; "Late Autumn," starring Ozu regular Setsuko Hara as a mother trying to persuade her daughter to marry; and "The End of Summer," a tragedy with comedic overtones about a family coping with their childlike father being picked up with an old mistress.

Ozu, who died in 1963 at age 60, made 53 films during his long career. The DVD set arrives Tuesday.

-- Susan King

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