' Hyde Park on Hudson'
2 1/2 stars = Average
In addition to spinning romantic scenarios that seem far-fetched or fanciful, "Hyde Park on Hudson" revisits royals we met first (and in more robust fashion) in "The King's Speech." In fact, the movie assumes viewers will know the basics about King George VI, his stammer that turns public speaking into torment, and his wife, Queen Elizabeth.
This queen is far less patient than the one in the Oscar-winning movie starring Colin Firth as the man who inherited the throne after his brother's abdication. Here, she lectures her husband: "Your brother never would've stood for this," and then she snaps in a private exchange, "Please stop stuttering!"
"Hyde Park" suggests that Margaret "Daisy" Suckley (Laura Linney), a fifth or sixth cousin of FDR (Bill Murray), had more than a platonic relationship with him. The president's mother had asked Daisy to visit and help take his mind off his work.
The movie is set in Hyde Park, about 90 miles north of New York, in 1939, as England is on the cusp of war with Germany and needs American support. FDR, who improbably stages a picnic for the Brits, is depicted as a patient father figure, complimenting his famous visitor and predicting, "You're going to be a very fine king."
Directed by Roger Michell, it's a pleasant enough movie with lovely period detail, bucolic surroundings and an FDR who exudes charm, quiet power and intelligence salted with humor.
But "Hyde Park" doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. The story of a historic visit by British monarchy? A glimpse into the world of a demure woman who called herself "the little mud wren"? Or a discreet examination of the tangle of Roosevelt romances, Eleanor (Olivia Williams) included?
In the end, it feels incomplete. Unfortunately, Mr. Murray effortlessly does some of the finest work of his career in a movie that doesn't rise to the same elevated level.
' Into the Cold'
'Into the Cold'
Sebastian Copeland, an award-winning photographer, Arctic explorer and environmental activist, retraces and commemorates the centennial of Robert E. Peary's successful April 1909 expedition to the North Pole with guide Keith Heger.
Mr. Copeland documented the rigorous pre-trek training regimen and didn't flinch from the mistakes made (food shortage, a fall through ice) during the 400-mile hike to the North Pole. Some of the impressive footage included the Arctic "treadmill" of drift and the groaning and crunching of ice as shelves are formed. Facing harsh temperatures to minus 50 degrees, the film is a bone-chilling story of bravery, determination and Mr. Copeland's desire to raise awareness about global warming. As he points out, the same trip may be impossible in the next 10 to 20 years as the Arctic landscape changes, and disappears. Extra: "Antarctica: The Global Warning" book presentation.
-- Washington Post
TV ON DVD
' Howdy Kids: Saturday Afternoon Western Roundup'
3 1/2 stars = Very good
If you grew up in the 1950s, then this is a three-DVD set you have to own. It's a fun trip back to Saturdays when heroes -- who rode horses, flew planes and even got around in a jeep -- ruled the television airwaves.
There are 25 episodes of live-action programming originally designed to entertain children.
Included are episodes of "The Lone Ranger," "The Range Rider," "The Rifleman," "The Adventures of Rick O'Shay," "Fury," "The Roy Rogers Show," "Annie Oakley," "The Adventures of Kit Carson," "The Adventures of Champion," "The Cisco Kid," "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon," "Sky King," "Red Ryder" and "Buffalo Bill Jr."
Everyone will have their favorites, but two of the standouts are "Sky King," who battled bad guys using an airplane, and "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon," whose companion was King, a dog billed as a husky but was really an Alaskan Malamute.
Even if you didn't grow up in the '50s, these live-action shows are still fun to watch.
' Boss: Season 2'
3 stars = Good
The second season of this political and human drama featuring Kelsey Grammer as Chicago Mayor Tom Kane steps up the intensity of the first season.
Mr. Grammer's first year was good enough to earn him a Golden Globe. The second season comes with an even stronger performance from Mr. Grammer, who portrays a politician battling to hold his career together despite having a debilitating brain disease.
It helped that new actors added to this pot boiler, including Sanaa Lathan, Jonathan Groff and Tip "T.I." Harris, playing characters who replenish Kane's inner circle that was devastated in the first season.
-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers
ALSO THIS WEEK:
• "Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War": Richard Basehart narrates this four-DVD set that covers 1945-75.
• "Gabriel Iglesias: Aloha Fluffy": Gabriel Iglesias comedy special filmed in Hawaii.
• "Best of Latino Laugh Festival": Cheech Marin hosts the comedy special starring Greg Giraldo, Pablo Francisco, Jeff Valdez and others.
• "Planet Ocean": Josh Duhamel narrates this look at the ocean.
• "Love Free or Die": Documentary challenges the belief that homosexuality is in direct conflict with faith.
• "Family Ties: The Sixth Season": Family comedy starring Michael J. Fox.
• "Wow Wow Wubbzy: Best of Walden": Includes episodes "Mr. Cool" and "Walden on the Beach."
• "The Four": Film based on the novel "The Four Detective Guards."
• "Rainforest Rescue": Features two episodes of "Wild Kratts."
• "Deadball": Juvenile delinquent agrees to join the baseball team in a battle to the death against the psycho butcher girls.
• "LUV": Common stars in the coming-of-age story.
• "Oklahoma City Dolls": TV series about female factory workers who start their own semi-pro football team.
• "We Are Eqypt: The Story Behind the Revolution": Documentary follows key Eqyptian politicians during the time before the 2011 uprising.
• "Woochi: The Demon Slayer": Fantasy film based on a Korean folk tale that broke Korean box office records in 2009.
-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers