(directed by Billy Ray)
Small, character-driven thrillers are practically tailor made for the home viewing experience, especially the kind made by director Billy Ray. His last movie, the excellent real-life journalism scandal movie Shattered Glass with Hayden Christensen and Peter Sarsgaard really ripened the second time around on a smaller screen. TV is good medium for seeing the real gradations of creepy in Ray's complex characters.
His second film also tackles understanding a morally-suspect real person, the FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who the government suspected of selling American secrets to the Russians, and the inexperienced agent they assigned to be his assistant and investigate him, Eric O'Neill. Oscar-winning actor Chris Cooper sinks his considerable acting chops into Hanssen—a highly intelligent, decorated agent who's a devout Catholic but also has a perverted side—with zeal. Stephanie Zacharek on Salon aptly described the facial expressions in his "fascinating" performance as "a distrustful lizard with slippery-looking lips, and there are moments when it's hard to even look at him." Ryan Phillipe plays O'Neill with that wide-eyed, farm-fed innocence he does well and the always strong Laura Linney rounds out the cast as a zealous agent orchestrating Hanssen's take down. If you missed this movie when it came out to solid reviews this past winter, this week could be your chance to remedy that.
Other items new to DVD this week include the first season of the famously unfamous Kathy Griffin's show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, Tyler Perry's girl-been-done-wrong story Daddy's Little Girls, a new Jimmy Stewart box set and Nic Cage on (CGI'd) fire in Ghost Rider.