DVDs: Martin Scorsese crafts an eloquent portrait of George Harrison - LA Daily News

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DVDs: Martin Scorsese crafts an eloquent portrait of George Harrison - LA Daily News

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Updated: April 28, 2012 11:54:12 PM PDT

Updated: April 28, 2012 11:54:12 PM PDT

DVDs: Martin Scorsese crafts an eloquent portrait of George Harrison

April 29, 2012 1:0 AM GMTUpdated:   04/28/2012 06:00:31 PM PDT

The documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World reveals new facets of the late musician.

The documentary "George Harrison: Living in the Material World," directed by Martin Scorsese, is an entertaining and even surprising look at the former Beatle, who died of cancer in 2001.

Surprising only because longtime fans may think there isn't anything new to learn.

And while there are no great revelations in the film, Scorsese's loving portrait of the pop star who wrote "Here Comes the Sun" is revealing of the man.

Using previously unseen footage and new interviews with pals like Eric Clapton and Tom Petty as well as Harrison's widow, Olivia, and their son, Dhani, the documentary shows the many sides of the so-called quiet Beatle.

As someone who didn't care about his legacy, he was fond of keeping mementos

The documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World reveals new facets of the late musician.

from his career. And while he was a believer in an afterlife, he didn't have a problem enjoying himself.

Perhaps one of the most emotionally dramatic moments of the documentary is when Olivia Harrison discusses a 1999 event when a man broke into the couple's home and stabbed her husband a number of times. George Harrison - known for his pacifism - and his wife eventually subdued the intruder. Rather than be completely shaken by the incident, it seemed to simply create another opportunity for the thoughtful Harrison to examine his life.

Madonna directs

A sometimes controversial figure herself, Madonna chose controversial figures for the focus of her film "W.E." It tells the story of the romance between Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough), a divorced American, and Britain's King Edward VIII (James D'Arcy), who famously - or infamously - abdicated the throne for her in 1936.

It's partly told through the eyes of an unhappily married Manhattan woman named Wally (Abbie Cornish) - fascinated by the couple - who is attracted to a security guard, a handsome Russian emigre (Oscar Isaac) during the 1990s when effects from the couple's estate are being auctioned

Andrea Riseborough and James D'Arcy star in W.E. (ANTHONY SOUZA)


Riseborough has an appealing screen presence. Watching her as Simpson, it's easy to believe how Edward could fall in her thrall. Cornish is equally as lovely on screen, but Wally's story is not as compelling.

"W.E." is something of a fantasia rather than a straight biopic. Madonna surrounds the facts with incongruous dance numbers and flights of fancy. But as odd as some of these choices are, they are strangely watchable, and Madonna's unique sensibility - something that has fascinated the public for nearly three decades - comes through.

Fighting back

As part of a rush to retirement, Steven Soderbergh has delivered the hyperkinetic "Haywire." Hopefully,

In this film image released by Relativity Media, Gina Carano and Ewan McGregor are shown in a scene from "Haywire." (AP Photo/Relativity Media, Claudette Barius)

the filmmaker won't make good on hints that he's ready to trade his camera for a paintbrush and has a couple more films on the way, including one this summer.

"Haywire" stars mixed martial arts fighter and "American Gladiators" cast member Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, who is some kind of black-ops super badass.

We learn quickly that Carano can fight; whether she can act would require her slowing down to figure that out. The victim of a double-cross, Mallory is either on the run or out to get even.

Soderbergh, who filmed some of the best action sequences in "The Hunger Games," uses extended tracking shots to build up the tension. Originally an indie filmmaker, the director always seems to be willing to experiment, and "Haywire" feels like one.

It's not bad, though, and a good cast of Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum and Bill Paxton are dropped in to make things interesting.

Rob Lowman

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