Hollywood learned a long time ago you can never tell the same story too many times -- but even Shakespeare and Homer knew that. It's all in the telling, after all.
So it's no surprise that a mere decade after Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" and five years since his "Spider-Man 3," we have a reboot of sorts of the enormously successful franchise.
"The Amazing Spider-Man" has a new lead in Andrew Garfield as Spidey/Peter Parker, a new girl in Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, and Martin Sheen and Sally Field as the dependable Uncle Ben and Aunt May. The villain is a green Lizard (Rhys Ifans as the unbalanced scientist Dr. Curt Connors) instead of the Green Goblin. And Peter's crazy newspaper editor who thought the superhero was a menace is gone, replaced by a police captain (Denis Leary) who believes Spidey is a menace despite his good deeds.
Other than that, it's like apples and apples, really. The new leads are cute and likable. Peter's change from geek to super-geek is interesting as he explores his new physical possibilities.
Smartly, director Marc Webb didn't go overboard on the computer-generated images; so there is more of an immediacy and less cartoonish feeling to the action sequences.
And the relationship between Peter and Gwen seems more filled out. Maybe that's because Webb made the bittersweet comedy "(500) Days of Summer" and didn't come on board with a Michael Bay over-the-top effects agenda.
There is nothing wrong with "The Amazing Spider-Man" and a lot of things right. But for whatever reasons (perhaps studio dictates), the filmmakers didn't try to do something more radical like Chris Nolan's reimagining of Batman in "The Dark Knight."
-- Keeping it in the family
Lynn Shelton's "Your Sister's Sister" is a three-character dramedy with both charm and pathos.
Mark Duplass plays thirtysomething Jack, who for years has been in love with his best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt). However, her ex-boyfriend was his dead brother; so he has not made a move.
At Iris' father's vacation home he meets her sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who is recovering after ending a seven-year lesbian relationship. And both are looking for solace.
The film is a talker, as you might expect, but it's engaging.
-- Pinto shines
Freida Pinto gives a compelling performance in Michael Winterbottom's "Trishna," a loose adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" set in India.
It's told in an improvised, somewhat documentary style, and Winterbottom has deftly telescoped and adapted the story to fit the Indian landscape.
-- Warmth amid heartbreak
Set in the late 1950s in the poor East End of London, the miniseries "Call the Midwife," which is airing on PBS, often deals with death, difficult births, incest, violence, lack of birth control and venereal disease.
As downbeat as that may sound, there is an unexpected warmth to the stories that are told through the eyes of Jennifer Lee (Jessica Raine) and narrated by Vanessa Redgrave.
In 1957, the real Lee worked as a midwife with a group of Anglican nuns in the slum-ridden area of the city.
-- And keep in mind
All eight seasons of the HBO comedy series about movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his posse are available in "Entourage: The Complete Series."
Over the years "Rashomon" has come to refer to a situation where people tell differing stories about a single event. The great 1950 film from Akira Kurosawa is out in a special Criterion edition.
On the holiday beat, for those who fondly remember those old variety show specials, there are "A Carol Burnett Christmas" and "The Dean Martin Christmas Show."
The Amazing Spider-Man $30.99/ Three-disc combo Blu-ray $40.99
Fire With Fire $19.98/ Blu-ray $24.99
Your Sister's Sister $24.98/ Blu-ray $29.98
Kiss Me $24.95
Maximum Conviction $26.98
Even the Rain $27.97
Call the Midwife: Season One $34.98/ Blu-ray $39.98
Entourage: The Complete Series $249.99/ Blu-ray $299.99
Vera: Set 2 $59.99
Law & Order: The Eleventh Year $36.98
Red vs. Blue: Season 10 $19.95
The Young Riders: Complete Season Three $16.95
Wolf Lake: The Complete Series $39.98
The Paradise Lost Trilogy: Collector's Edition $49.95
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams: Season One $29.93
Sea Hunt: Complete Season One $16.95
Sea Hunt: Complete Season Two $16.95
Sea Hunt: Complete Season Three $16.95
Sea Hunt: Complete Season Four $16.95
Arthur Christmas Blu-ray $40.99
Prep & Landing: Totally Tinsel Collection $19.99/ Blu-ray $20.99
The Muppet Christmas Carol: 20th Anniversary Edition $19.99/ Blu-ray $26.50
A Carol Burnett Christmas $19.98
Kung Fu Panda Holiday $15.99/ Blu-ray $19.98
The Dean Martin Christmas Show $12.98
It's a SpongeBob Christmas! $14.98
Chilly Christmas $19.98
Lifetime Presents: 12 Days of Christmas $39.95
They Live: Collector's Edition Blu-ray $29.93
Rashomon: The Criterion Collection $29.95 / Blu-ray $39.95
Sunset Boulevard Blu-ray $26.98
Planes, Trains and Automobiles Blu-ray $22.98
Sweet Home Alabama Blu-ray $20
Guys & Dolls Blu-ray $34.99
Von Ryan's Express Blu-ray $24.99
Beaches Blu-ray $20
The Client Blu-ray $19.98
Bonfire of the Vanities Blu-ray $19.98
The Rolling Stones: Charlie Is My Darling -- Ireland 1965 $22.99/ Blu-ray $22.99
Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live in Budapest Blu-ray $39.98
Sesame Street: Old School, Volume 3 $29.87
Looney Tunes Super Stars: Porky & Friends $19.98
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