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DVD A MATURE TURN IN `SHERRYBABY'.

Byline: Rob Lowman Entertainment Editor

By now we'll know if Maggie Gyllenhaal received an Oscar nomination for ``Sherrybaby.'' If she hasn't, it will be a shame.

The young actress' moving performance is what lifts the film. She plays Sherry, a former junkie who, having gotten out of prison, is trying to reclaim her life and reconnect with her small daughter, Alexis (Ryan Simpkins). The young girl is now living with her brother, Bobby (Brad William Henke), and his wife, Lynette (Bridget Barkan).

Written and directed by Laurie Collyer, ``Sherrybaby'' looks at a woman who has never really grown up, despite her worldliness and sexuality, and now she's haltingly trying to find her way. Her vulnerability may come from her relationship with her father (Sam Bottoms), who still seems to treat her as a child. Or not. Collyer isn't placing blame on anyone. The film is a portrait of a woman caught between trying to make a new life for herself and impulses to return to her self-destructive ways.

We've seen films like this before, but Collyer's dialogue makes the character believable, and Gyllenhaal breathes life into it.

Water world

Old stud, young stud. That pretty much sums up ``The Guardian.'' Kevin Costner is the old stud; Ben Randall, a Coast Guard rescue diver whose marriage is washed up. He then moves from the water to the classroom and ``the School,'' where he becomes an instructor, turning young studs into rescue divers through a tough regimen.

One of those studs, Jake Fischer, is played by Ashton Kutcher. He is the now all-too-familiar alter-ego of Tom Cruise's role in ``Top Gun.''

Predictably, Jake and Ben will clash. Predictably, they'll be thrown into circumstances that will force them to work together. You've seen it before; only this time they've added more water.

Jigsaw is back in ``Saw III.'' There seems to be little point to this horror franchise except as a primer for deranged torturers.

Ratings wise

It's kind of interesting that the motion picture industry has announced that it is reforming its movie ratings system a few months after the documentary ``This Film Is Not Yet Rated'' was in theaters (and arrives on DVD today). The film itself chided the MPAA for secrecy in how it rates films. Under new rules, the top three movie raters will be named on the association's Web site, and there will be descriptive information about the other raters.

The openness is welcome, but ``This Film Is Not Yet Rated'' -- which was not rated -- often seems an excuse to put images on the screen that would choke the MPAA, rather than offer a thorough investigation. But the film, by Kirby Dick, is lively and engaging.

In the army now

``Jesus Camp'' is a documentary about a summer camp run by evangelical Christians that readies children to be soldiers in ``God's army.'' From the documentary team of Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, the film explores the molding of young minds. Depending on your beliefs, ``Jesus Camp'' may horrify you or thrill you, but it won't bore you.

Older films

The great Robert Mitchum was more than a macho guy. There was something of the scamp about him, which is why some of Hollywood's best directors liked working with him.

``Robert Mitchum -- The Signature Collection'' isn't necessarily the late actor's best. But it has six good to pretty good movies from some top directors, all of the films enhanced by Mitchum's bigger-than-life presence.

Included are Otto Preminger's 1952 L.A. noir ``Angel Face,'' Josef von Sternberg 1952 heist film ``Macao,'' Fred Zinnemann's 1960 story of an Australian homesteader ``The Sundowners,'' Vincente Minnelli's 1960 soaper ``Home From the Hill,'' Burt Kennedy' 1969 oater ``The Good Guys and the Bad Guys'' and Sidney Pollack's 1975 action picture with a Japanese flavor, ``The Yakuza.''

Speaking of Japan, for the first time ``Yojimbo & Sanjuro -- Two Films by Akira Kurosawa'' are being packaged together. ``Yojimbo'' (1961) -- about a lone samurai who plays two warring crime families against each other -- is one of the great Japanese director's most-influential films. It has been remade twice -- as ``A Fistful of Dollars'' (1964) and ``Last Man Standing (1996) -- but what sets the film apart is its wonderfully weird combination of lively action and its take on morality. ``Sanjuro'' (1962) is the sequel, not as good but enjoyable, starring the great Toshiro Mifune, who might have been Robert Mitchum in another life -- or vice versa. Criterion, of course, has remastered the gorgeous-looking films and added commentary by Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince.

The things that stand out in Norman Jewison's ``Fiddler on the Roof,'' his 1971 version of the Broadway musical, are its kinetic choreography and the sense of detail he brings to the setting of Jewish life in prerevolutionary Russia. While some of the performances are not what you'd hope for, its star, Topol as Tevye, is more than up to the task.

Rob Lowman (818) 713-3687

robert.lowman@dailynews.com

NEW FILMS

``Sherrybaby'' (Universal; $27.98)

``The Guardian'' (Buena Vista; $29.99)

``Saw III -- Unrated'' (Lionsgate; $29.95)

``Jesus Camp'' (Magnolia; $26.98)

``This Film Is Not Yet Rated'' (IFC; $24.95)

``The Puffy Chair'' (Netflix; $24.95)

``Cowboy Del Amor'' (Genius, $24.95)

OLDER FILMS

``Fiddler on the Roof -- Two-Disc Collector's Edition'' (MGM; $26.98)

``Yojimbo & Sanjuro -- Two Films by Akira Kurosawa'' (Criterion; $69.95)

``Robert Mitchum -- The Signature Collection'' (includes ``Angel Face,'' ``Macao,'' ``The Sundowners,'' ``Home From the Hill,'' ``The Good Guys and the Bad Guys,'' ``The Yakuza'') (Warner; $59.98)

``The Films of Kenneth Anger, Vol. 1'' (Famtoma; $24.98)

``Monsters and Madmen'' (``The Haunted Strangler,'' ``Corridors of Blood,'' ``The Atomic Submarine,'' ``First Man into Space'') -- (Criterion; $79.95)

TELEVISION

``The Waltons -- The Complete Fourth Season'' (Warner; $39.98)

``Avatar the Last Airbender -- Book 2 Earth, Vol. 1'' (Paramount; $16.99)

``Walker, Texas Ranger -- The Complete Second Season'' (Paramount; $49.99)

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Maggie Gyllenhaal is a single mom trying to re-establish a relationship with her young daughter in ``Sherrybaby.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 23, 2007
Words:997
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