On DVD: Viewers ‘Obsessed’ with on-screen catfight

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 12:00am

Ali Larter plays a temporary secretary determined to break up the marriage of her executive boss, Idris Elba, and his wife, Beyonce Knowles, in 'Obsessed.'

When Steve Shill's Obsessed made its theatrical debut a few months ago, almost every film critic who sat through it ripped it for everything from inept acting to its threadbare and imitative plot (there was no attempt to mask its thematic similarity to Fatal Attraction, though they certainly didn't spend as much time on casting).

But one factor that quickly turned it into an underground sensation was the information that the film contained a fight sequence between female leads Beyonce Knowles and Ali Larter. That footage was making its way through cyberspace almost as soon as the film debuted, and that news alone kept plenty of young males parading into theaters for weeks and made Obsessed a mild commercial hit.

Tuesday Obsessed comes to DVD legally (Sony), though bootleg copies have been on the streets for weeks. Idris Elba is the one actor whose skills were positively utilized in the film. He plays an executive whose temporary secretary (Larter) decides she's going to end his marriage, but sorely underestimates the toughness and resolve (as well as anger and capacity for revenge) of his wife (Knowles).

She starts out skeptical once her husband won't directly answer her questions about the other women's looks, and things quickly escalate on both sides, building up to a major confrontation.

This is hardly a good film, but it is definitely an entertaining, though often silly one. It's available in Blu-ray and both full and widescreen, and we'll see whether the Knowles/Larter face-off spikes DVD sales the way it did theatrical attendance.

Robert Downey Jr. continued his hot streak of top roles with his performance in The Soloist, which comes to DVD Tuesday (Dreamworks). Downey plays Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, whose beat focuses on the city's neglected and forgotten souls, people whose lives and/or problems often take them off society's radar screens.

One day while coming to work Lopez encounters a street musician (Jamie Foxx) playing beautifully on a beat-up old cello that's missing some strings.

It turns out the musician's name is Nathaniel Ayers, and he has some classical training. He's also a schizophrenic who doesn't always take his medication. The on-again, off-again friendship between Lopez and Ayers forms the storyline for The Soloist. The real tale of the Lopez/Ayers relationship has also been told in a 60 Minutes profile and was the subject of a book by Lopez.

Though the film basically presents real events, neither the movie nor the book offer a pat, optimistic portrait with a nice tidy ending. Ayers' rants and rages are very real and quite scary, while Lopez discovers that when you stick your nose into other people's affairs, you sometimes get it bruised and even broken.

But The Soloist spotlights two real, appealing and flawed people trying to find common ground. It's a strong story, just not one with a particularly satisfying set of circumstances.

There aren't many unscripted programs that get critical respect, and even fewer win a prestigious Peabody award. But Project Runway has done so well for Bravo that it became the subject of a cable battle that had to be resolved in court. Ultimately Lifetime won out in a protracted dispute that resulted in a limited number of shows airing on Bravo in what became the fifth and final year for the program on that network.

Tuesday Project Runway: Season 5 (Weinstein), a five-disc boxed set, comes out on DVD. It's a good time filler until Aug. 20, when the sixth season of the show shifts to Lifetime at 9 p.m. with Heidi Klum once more serving as host.