Writer-director Alexander Payne's fourth feature film
(following "Citizen Ruth," "Election" and "About Schmidt") starts with two old
friends setting off on a wine-tasting road trip ... only to veer dizzily into a
wry exploration of the vicissitudes of love and friendship, the damnable
persistence of loneliness and dreams and the enduring war between Pinot and
Cabernet. The misadventures begin when Miles (Paul Giamatti), an un-recovered
divorce and would-be novelist with a wine fixation, decides to gift old college
buddy and washed-up actor Jack (Thomas Haden Church) with a celebratory trip to
the vineyards of the Santa Ynez Valley the week before Jack's wedding. The two
couldn't be an odder couple. Jack is an over-sexed charmer; Miles is a sad-sack
worrier. Jack is looking for his "last taste of freedom"; Miles just wants to
taste perfection in a bottle. Jack is fine with cheap Merlot; Miles pines for
the elusive, perfect Pinot. Indeed, the only thing they seem to share in common
is the same heady mix of failed ambitions and fading youth. And yet, as they
make their way up the coast, Miles and Jack soon find themselves drowning in
wine and women. Jack falls head-over-heels for a local wine pourer (Sandra Oh)
and threatens to call off his nuptials. Miles begins his own romantic encounter
with a wine-savvy waitress (Virginia Madsen). Both men careen dangerously and
comically toward mid-life crises. A lusty, poignant adventure into the deepest
realms of human yearning, guaranteed to exhilarate you.
Director: Alexander Payne. Stars: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia
Madsen, Sandra Oh, Marylouise Burke, Jessica Hecht. 2004, CC, MPAA rating:
R, 123 min., Dramedy, Box office gross: $63.165 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced
DVD: Day & Date.
A look at cultures colliding as a beautiful native
Mexican woman Flor (Paz Vega), the mother of an equally stunning 12-year-old
girl, a golden child, becomes the housekeeper for an affluent Los Angeles family
(Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni and Cloris Leachman). Of all the horrifying pitfalls
she worried about in this new culture, Flor had never fathomed the peril of
being truly embraced by an upscale American family. Fails as a comedy but
becomes a bleak indictment on privilege and status (as Sandler's husband falls
for Flor in response to the "sterility" of his controlling wife (Leoni).
Director: James L. Brooks. Stars: Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni, Paz Vega, Cloris
Leachman, Shelbie Bruce, Sarah Steele, Ian Hyland, Victoria Luna, Cecilia
Suarez. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: Pg-13, 130 min., Comedy, Box office gross:
$41.655 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Exploring the inner workings of big business, this documentary looks at how, since its inception in the mid-1800s, the corporation has risen from a relatively insignificant entity to an over-protected behemoth wielding power
that challenges that of governments and institutions worldwide. Based on Joel Bakan's book "The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power," the film -- via interviews with both leading corporate gurus and prominent social critics like Noam Chomsky,
Michael Moore and Milton Friedman -- spins a disturbing tale of the ways big business influences everything from the economy and the environment to the smallest facets of our everyday lives.
Director: Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 145 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $1.879 million, Zeitgeist Video.
Another comic book hero making the transition to the big screen -- from the pages of Marvel Comics, creator of "X-Men" and "Spider-Man." Jennifer Garner stars in the title role as a strong, mysterious and sexy action heroine -- a
lethal synthesis of grace and power. Not long after recovering from seemingly mortal wounds, Elektra has severed all ties with the world, living only for her next assignment. But in an unexpected turn of events, she is forced to make a decision that can take her life in a
new direction -- or destroy her. Key players in Elektra's journey are Stick, a blind martial arts master responsible for Elektra's "resurrection," and Mark and Abby Miller, a father and daughter on the run from The Hand, a powerful syndicate whose members practice the
dark martial art of ninjitsu. Unlike most comic book heroes, Elektra possesses no super-human physical powers. Instead, she makes maximum use of her incredible physical prowess and martial arts skills. In addition, she has the ability to see into the future, a skill known
as Kimagure, which she has honed through countless hours of deep meditation.
Director: Rob Bowman. Stars: Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Kirsten Prout, Will Yun Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Terence Stamp. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 96 min., Action, Box office gross: $24.326 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Fade to Black
Documentary takes a look at the rapper Jay-Z's
career, providing a backstage glimpse during his farewell performance as a solo
artist and showing how his last album was conceived. Narrated by Jay-Z, the film
features guest performances by Beyonce, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly,
Pharrell Williams, Foxy Brown and appearances by P. Diddy and 2004 Grammy-winner
Director: Patrick Paulson, Michael John Warren. 2004, CC, MPAA
rating: R, 110 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $0.728 million, Paramount,
No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
"We are the Army of Two!" So begins the video diary of
Andre (Andre Keuck) and Cal (Calvin Robertson), two best friends and alienated
high school students who have meticulously planned a "big-ass mission" that will
shock and terrify their community and school. They have officially declared war,
stockpiled their weapons, and set the day now, "let the countdown begin." With
his uncanny unprofessional cast and unflinching intimacy, director Ben Coccio's
award-winning first feature is a disturbingly authentic and harrowing look at a
tragedy as unthinkable as today's headlines.
Director: Ben Coccio. Stars: Calvin Robertson, Andre Keuck, Rachel Benichak,
Gerhard Keuck, David Futernick, Pam Robertson, Steve Robertson, David Futernick,
Andre Keuck. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 92 min., Drama, Home Vision
It's been three years since Danny Ocean (George
Clooney) and his crew -- fronted by detail man Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt),
up-and-coming pickpocket Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), explosives expert Basher
Tarr (Don Cheadle) and safecracker Frank Catton (Bernie Mac) -- pulled off one
of the most audacious and lucrative heists in history, robbing ruthless
entrepreneur Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) of every dime stored in his
impenetrable Las Vegas vault. After splitting the $160 million take, each of the
infamous Ocean's crew have tried to go straight, lay low and live a legit life
... but that's proven to be a challenge, much to the chagrin of Danny's wife
Tess (Julia Roberts). When someone breaks Rule Number One and rats the gang out
to Benedict, going straight is no longer an option. Benedict wants his $160
million back -- with interest -- or else. And, as the gang quickly discovers,
Benedict isn't the only powerful person in the world looking for Ocean's Eleven.
So now it's time to pull off another stunner of a plan-or plans -- in Amsterdam,
Paris and Rome.
Director: Steven Soderbergh. Stars: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts,
Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Don
Tiffany, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Jared Harris, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould,
Eddie Izzard. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 125 min., Thriller, Box office
gross: $122.389 million, Warner, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Ten years ago, some of the worst atrocities of the
20th century took place in the central African nation of Rwanda -- yet in an era
of high-speed communication and round-the-clock news, the events went almost
unnoticed by the rest of the world. Over 100 days, almost 1 million Tutsis were
brutally murdered by their own countrymen -- the Hutu militia. In the midst of
this genocide, one ordinary man, a hotel manager named Paul Rusesabagina (Don
Cheadle ) -- inspired by his love for his family and his humanity -- summoned
extraordinary courage and saved the lives of 1,268 Tutsis refugees by hiding
them inside the Milles Collines hotel in Kigali. Hotel Rwanda is Paul's
Director: Terry George. Stars: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Nick Nolte, Joaquin
Phoenix, Desmond Dube, David O'Hara. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 121 min.,
MGM, Box office gross: $17.085 million, MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Schoolgirl Min-Ah discovers a shared diary and is
fascinated to learn that two schoolmates she thought to be close friends have,
in fact, begun a forbidden romance. Unable to tear her eyes away, the secret
allure of the diary begins to consume her. When one of the diary writers is
found dead -- an apparent suicide -- rumors spread and Min-Ah begins to sense a
strange presence. The once tranquil school is transformed into a morbid place of
terror, as if the journal's words, "memento mori" (remember the dead), have
taken on a life of their own. Sequel to chilling "Whispering Corridors," one of
films that help start the Asian horror boom. In Korean with English subtitles.
Director: Tae-Yong Kim, Kyu-Dong Min. Stars: Min-sun Kim, Yeh-jin Park,
Young-jin Lee. 1999, CC, MPAA rating: R, 98 min., Thriller, Tartan Asia
Rock-documentary chronicles the classic tale of art vs.
commerce and the do's and dont's of rock stardom. Filmed during seven years
(1996-2002) and culled from more than 1,500 hours of footage by director Ondi
Timoner, "DiG!"plunges into the underbelly of rock 'n' roll unearthing an
amazing true tale of success, self destruction, friendship, and the ultimate
rivalry between two up-and-coming bands: Brian Jonestown Massacre led by the
tormented, self-destructive genius of Anton Newcombe, and the Dandy Warhols led
by a more polished, but admittedly less visionary Courtney Taylor. "DiG!" is the
story of their loves and obsessions, gigs and recordings, arrests and death
threats, uppers and downers, and the delicate balance between art and commerce.
As the idealism and destructive tendencies of Jonestown lead to their repeated
undoing, the more "well-adjusted" Warhols navigate the corporate sea, trying to
maintain their creative edge while starring in mega-budget music videos and
playing huge arenas.
Director: Ondi Timoner. Stars: . 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 107 min.,
Documentary, Box office gross: $0.127 million, Palm Pictures.
Denmark's official Academy Awards entry and
winner of the Camera d'Or and Youth Prize at the Cannes Film Festival (2003).
Fate brought Alex (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and Aimee (Marie Bonnevie) to the same
train platform in Copenhagen. Aimee's husband August, a famed author, who is
neglectful yet needy of her love, has left her to wander the streets alone while
he writes in solitude. Alex and his girlfriend, Simone, are returning from a
dinner with his father. Alex glimpses Aimee by chance on the platform in
Copenhagen, and at that moment something indefinable happens between them.
Seeing her again once on the train, Alex impulsively goes after her, following
her to a bar without reason or explanation for Simone, who he leaves behind. In
the bar, the two destined strangers strike up a conversation as if already
acquainted and fall in love instantly. After a perfect night together in Aimee's
hotel, Alex and Aimee make plans to cut loose from the monotony of their
existing lives, unaware that August had come back to the hotel early and seen
his wife's transgression. Alex too feels the consequences of his decision to
spend the night with Aimee. Inexplicably, his flat is no longer where it was,
his friends, father and even Simone no longer recognize him. Alex's only chance
to re-connect with reality is to find Aimee and prove to himself that she is
real and this cosmic joke is just true love working its mysterious ways. Alex
and Aimee risked everything to be together, but at what price neither can
foretell as they leap into the unknown. In Danish and Swedish with English
Director: Christoffer Boe. Stars: Nikolaj Kaas, Maria Bonnevie. 2004, CC,
MPAA rating: PG-13, 90 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.072 million, Palm
A filmmaker gets a visit from an actor claiming to
be an old school friend, drawing him into a twisted web of desire, revenge and
murder. Filmmaker Enrique (Fele Martinez) gets a visit from an aspiring actor
claiming to be his old school friend Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal), who has
written a story about their traumatic childhood spent at Catholic school. In the
story, a drag performer known as Zahara (also played by Bernal) attempts to
blackmail a predatory priest by exposing their scandalous past. The tale
provides the inspiration for Enrique's next film. But when the villainous priest
from their school days arrives to tell his own version of the events, the truth
is wilder than anything anyone could have imagined. In Spanish with English
Director: Pedro Almodovar. Stars: Gael Garcia Bernal, Fele Martinez, Daniel
Gimenez Cacho, Lluis Homar, Francisco Boira, Javier Camara. 2004, CC, MPAA
rating: NC-17, 105 min., Drama, Box office gross: $3.078 million, Sony, No VHS
SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
FBI Agent Tom Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart) finds
himself caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a brutal serial killer, and all
clues point to a renegade agent "gone native." Trained by the government to use
his psychic abilities to track and capture other serial killers, the renegade is
killing other serial killers and claims to be in pursuit of the ultimate serial
killer, a man he calls Suspect Zero. As Mackelway becomes increasingly obsessed
with his suspect, he must decide what happens when pursuer and prey come face to
face -- and if rational justice or primal revenge will prevail.
Director: E. Elias Merhige. Stars: Aaron Eckhart, Ben Kingsley, Carrie-Ann Moss,
Nicole DeHuff. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 99 min., Thriller, Box office
gross: $8.712 million, Paramount, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
After 12 years in prison, Walter moves into a
small apartment across the street from an elementary school, gets a job at a
lumberyard, and mostly keeps to himself. He finds unexpected solace from Vicki
(Kyra Sedgwick), a tough-talking woman who promises not to judge him for his
history. But Walter cannot escape his past. Shunned by his sister and living in
fear of being discovered at work, Walter struggles with re-entry into society
and facing his demons.
Director: Nicole Kassell. Stars: Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, David Alan Grier,
Eve, Mos Def, Benjamin Bratt. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 87 min., Drama, Box
office gross: $1.359 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Meet the Fockers
The makers and stars behind the runaway 2000
hit "Meet the Parents" are reunited -- and joined by some formidable future
in-laws -- in this follow-up comedy. Returning to the roles they originated in
Meet the Parents are Robert De Niro as Byrnes clan patriarch, Jack; Ben Stiller,
as the soon-to-be son-in-law, Greg Focker; Blythe Danner as Jack's wife, Dina;
and Teri Polo as Greg's intended, Pam Byrnes. It's been four years since Greg's
trial of initiation into the Byrnes family by ex-CIA operative Jack. Greg has
managed to earn his way inside the Circle of Trust and things are going great.
He and fiancee Pam are excitedly planning their wedding and there's only one
tiny, itsy-bitsy little thing left to smooth the way to the altar: the future
in-laws need to spend a weekend together. So, Greg and Pam climb aboard Jack's
new state-of-the-art RV (with Kevlar-reinforced hull and two-inch Plexiglas
windows) for a trip to Focker Isle, the Cocoanut Grove domicile of Bernie and
Roz Focker (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand). The next 48 hours will provide
the parents of the intended bride and groom a little time to get to know each
other, but more importantly, give Jack the opportunity to study Greg's parents.
Things start off well enough, but that's before Jack discovers that the lawyer
and doctor Greg presented are, in fact, a liberal stay-at-home dad and a senior
citizens' sex therapist. Then there's an RV toilet episode, an overly zealous
game of touch football, a saucy Cuban caterer, an incident with the toddler and
glue. Is this any way to start a family?
Director: Jay Roach. Stars: Robert De Niro. Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra
Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Tim Blake Nelson. 2004,
CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $276.573 million,
Universal, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Nicole Kidman stars as Anna, a delicate young widow who is
on the verge of a new life when a solemn little boy appears, claiming to be the
reincarnation of her dead husband. Ten years after the sudden death of her
beloved husband Sean, Anna is finally ready to emerge from the shadow of grief
and begin a new chapter in her life. She has agreed to marry Joseph (Danny
Huston), a good-humored, cultured man who has patiently courted the lovely young
widow for three years. Anna's decision pleases her mother Eleanor (Lauren
Bacall), an elegant and commanding woman who has welcomed Joseph into the
family's spacious apartment on New York's aristocratic Upper East Side. But at a
birthday celebration for Eleanor an uninvited guest appears as if out of
nowhere. It's a young boy, and he wants to speak privately with Anna: He
declares that he is her dead husband Sean and warns her not to marry Joseph. A
stunned and angry Anna takes the boy downstairs, and discovers that the doorman
knows the child: His name is Sean. Sean begins to write to Anna and regularly
visits her building with his father, a tutor who has clients there. Sean's
surreal intrusion on Anna's life is met with varying reactions in Anna's family.
At the boy's own suggestion, he's quizzed about details of the dead Sean's life,
and the child's knowledge is uncanny. More unnerving still is the intensity and
certainty of his love for Anna. Though she cannot deny the strangeness of it
all, Anna is increasingly drawn to the little boy and willing to flout the
wishes of her fiance and family to see him. Could this child truly be Anna's
husband, returned to her? How can she refuse the chance to experience again the
love she felt for him?
Director: Jonathan Glazer. Stars: Nicole Kidman, Cameron Bright, Danny Huston,
Lauren Bacall, Alison Elliott, Arliss Howard, Michael Desautels, Anne Heche,
Peter Stormare, Ted Levine. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min.,
Psychological thrill, Box office gross: $5.005 million, New Line, No VHS SRP,
Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
House of Flying Daggers
An exotic, beautiful blind dancer is
associated with a dangerous revolutionary gang, known as the House of Flying
Daggers. Captured by officers of the decadent Tang Dynasty, the woman finds
herself both threatened -- and attracted -- to the most unusual circumstances.
Here, her heart and loyalties battle each other, amid warriors in the treetops
and dazzling combat -- the likes of which have never before been seen. In
Mandarin with English subtitles.
Director: Yimou Zhang. Stars: Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau. 2004,
CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 124 min., Martial Arts, Box office gross: $10.159
million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
A Love Song for Bobby Long
An estranged teenage girl returns to
her family home only to discover she has an unexpected roommate: her late
mother's lover, a boozy academic who's slowly drinking himself to death. Upon
hearing of her mother's death, jaded teenage loner Purslane Hominy Will
(Scarlett Johansson) returns to New Orleans for the first time in years, ready
to reclaim her childhood home. Expecting to find her late mother's house
abandoned, Pursy is shocked to discover that it is inhabited by two of her
mother's friends: Bobby Long (John Travolta), a former literature professor, and
his young protege, Lawson Pines (Gabriel Macht). These broken men, whose lives
took a wrong turn years before, have been firmly rooted in the dilapidated house
for years, encouraged only by Lawson's faltering ambitions to write a novel
about Bobby Long's life. Having no intention of leaving, Pursy, Bobby Long and
Lawson are all forced to live together. Yet as time passes, their tenuous,
makeshift arrangement unearths a series of buried personal secrets that
challenges their bonds, and reveals just how inextricably their lives are
Director: Shainee Gabel. Stars: John Travolta, Scarlett Johansson, Gabriel Mach.
2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.143 million,
Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Devils on the Doorstep
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the
Cannes Film Festival, and banned in its native country, Wen Jiang's ravishingly
photographed anti-war epic is set in 1945 in a Japanese-occupied rural Chinese
village. Wen stars as Ma Dasan, a peasant, who, one night at gunpoint, is
compelled to shelter two prisoners. One is a captured Japanese soldier who wants
to be killed, the other his Chinese interpreter, who wants to stay alive. As the
days turn into months, Dasan and his fellow villagers keep their unwanted guests
hidden from the Japanese forces, while deciding whether or not to execute their
captives. A plan to exchange the men for grain leads to the film's harrowing and
devastating climax. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Director: Wen Jiang. Stars: Teruyuki Kagawa, Wen Jiang, Ding Yuan, Hongbo Jiang.
2000, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 139 min., War drama, Home Vision Entertainment.
Sci-fier set in the industrial park/suburban tract-home
fringes of an unnamed contemporary city where two young engineers, Abe and
Aaron, are members of a small group of men who work by day for a large
corporation while conducting extracurricular experiments on their own time in a
garage. While tweaking their current project, a device that reduces the apparent
mass of any object placed inside it by blocking gravitational pull, they
accidentally discover that it has some highly unexpected capabilities -- ones
that could enable them to do and to have seemingly anything they want: the
ability to travel through time. Convinced that the device could put their
company on the map, both men use themselves as guinea pigs to test the machine's
capabilities. Taking advantage of this unique opportunity is the first challenge
they face. Dealing with the consequences is the next.
Director: Shane Carruth. Stars: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Anand Upadhyaya,
Carrie Crawford, Jay Butler. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 78 min., Science
Fiction, Box office gross: $0.424 million, New Line, No VHS SRP, Priced for
DVD: Day & Date.
Riding the Bullit
Film version of one of the short stories in
Stephen King's "Everything's Eventual." October 1969. The Summer of Love is over
and a winter of hate is about to paint the ideals of the Flower Power Generation
black. Alan Parker (Jonathan Jackson) is a young, struggling artist studying at
the University of Maine whose work is haunted by images of death. Believing he
is losing his girlfriend Jessica (Erika Christensen), Alan's obsession with the
dark side pushed him to try to take his own life on his birthday. Some friends
thwart his desperate act, yet events go from bad to worse as Alan soon discovers
he has opened a door letting death literally enter his life. Recovering from his
self-inflicted wounds and about to embark on a road trip to a John Lennon
concert with his buddies, Alan receives crushing news -- his mother, Jean
(Barbara Hershey), has suffered a major stroke and is lying at death's door in
Lewiston Hospital, over 100 miles away. Rejecting his friends' offer to drive
him, Alan decides to hitchhike. But it is Halloween night and Alan is about to
discover that he has started down a nightmare road which will take him on both
an odyssey into black recesses of the human heart and a journey that will bring
him face to face with Death Incarnate. Trapped in a speeding car with the Grim
Reaper, manifesting itself in the guise of a recently killed redneck, Alan is
forced into a terrible dilemma -- the Reaper will not rest until it forces Alan
to make a life or death choice.
Director: Mick Garris. Stars: Jonathan Jackson, David Arquette, Cliff Robertson,
Barbara Hershey, Erika Christensen. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 98 min.,
Horror, Box office gross: $0.101 million, Lions Gate, No VHS SRP, Priced for
DVD: Day & Date.
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate
Based on books by
Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate
Events" tells the story of the three young Baudelaire children who receive
terrible news that their parents have died in a fire and have left them an
enormous fortune not to be used until the eldest child is of age. Violet, Klaus,
and Sunny Baudelaire are placed in the care of their uncle, Count Olaf (Jim
Carrey), an evil fiend who is plotting to kill them and seize their fortune.
Once they escape his clutches, the orphans travel from guardian to guardian,
including herpetologist Montgomery Montgomery (Billy Connolly) and grammar-wise
Aunt Josephine Anwhistle (Streep). But the children can't escape the evil plans
of Olaf, who keeps disguising himself and keeps popping up in the strangest
places. Just when the Baudelaires think things are getting better, something
Director: Brad Silberling. Stars: Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep, Liam Aiken, Emily
Browning, Jude Law, Kara Hoffman, Shelby Hoffman, Timothy Spall, Billy Connolly,
Catherine O'Hara, Cedric the Entertainer, Luis Guzman, Jennifer Coolidge..
2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 107 min., Family, Box office gross: $116.956
million, Paramount, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Wesley Snipes returns as the day-walking vampire
hunter in the final film in the Blade franchise. For years, Blade has fought
against the vampires in the cover of night, with the world above unaware of the
brutal ongoing war. But now, after falling into the crosshairs of the FBI, he is
forced out into the daylight, where he is driven to join forces with a clan of
human vampire hunters he never knew existed -- The Nightstalkers. Together with
Abigail (Jessica Biel) and Hannibal (Ryan Reynolds), two deftly trained
Nightstalkers, Blade follows a trail of blood to the an ancient creature that is
also hunting him -- the original vampire, Dracula.
Director: David S. Goyer. Stars: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Dominic
Purcell, Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds, Parker Posey, Mark Berry, Paul Anthony,
James Remar, Natasha Lyonne. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 113 min., Horror
thriller, Box office gross: $52.397 million, New Line, No VHS SRP, Priced for
DVD: Day & Date.
Assassination of Richard Nixon,
In the winter of 1974, a
time of great political unrest, Samuel J. Bicke (Sean Penn) is a 44-year-old man
who wants to believe in something -- anything. But at every turn, his faith --
in himself and in the world around him -- is undermined. He is separated from
his wife, Marie (Naomi Watts), who refuses to consider the reconciliation he
wants so desperately. With his personal life in such disarray, he is also
struggling to hold onto yet another job for which he is fundamentally unfit. An
idealist who detests lying in any form, Bicke is miserable working as a salesman
in an office supply company. The only bright spot in Bicke's life is his dream
of opening a door-to-door tire repair service with his auto mechanic friend,
Bonny (Don Cheadle). Their business proposal requires a modest bank loan. Bicke
applies and nervously waits the requisite period for the loan application to be
processed. As his anxiety mounts, Bicke begins to fall apart, and in his
vulnerable state, sees injustice and hypocrisy everywhere. Bicke would like to
strike out at all the offenders, but there are too many dragons to slay.
However, there is one villain who looms large. For Bicke, Richard Nixon,
described by Bicke's boss (Jack Thompson) as the greatest salesman in history
because he swindled the American people twice, becomes the embodiment of
everything that is wrong with the world. When Bicke experiences a series of
ill-fated events -- his loan is rejected, his ex-wife and his brother abandon
him, and his dreams of starting his own business die unrealized -- he decides
the only way to reclaim his insignificant life is to carry out a grand, historic
gesture that will make his presence felt. At this point, dreams give way to
delusions. A new Samuel Bicke, uncharacteristically resolute and resourceful,
sets out on a chilling crusade to right the world's wrongs. He has an
appointment with history. A chilling drama that explores and exposes the dark
side of the American dream: the true story of the man who plotted an abortive
attempt on the life of the 37th President.
Director: Niels Mueller. Stars: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Don Cheadle, Mykelti
Williamson. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Drama, Box office gross:
$0.697 million, New Line.
Regina (Anna Paquin), her younger brother Paul, and
parents Mark (Iain Glen) and
Maria (Lena Olin), have just moved into a beautiful, old house in the country.
They came in search of quiet and tranquility, but instead they unearthed a
horrifying secret that has been deeply buried for many years. Their home quickly
becomes anything but welcoming and comfortable; it seems to have a life of its
own ... especially after dark. As Regina begins to investigate her mysterious
surroundings, she uncovers the truth about her family's new address. Decades
ago, it was the site of a ritual gone awry -- one that would have spread evil to
the ends of the world. Seven children were to be sacrificed, but one got away.
Now, the force that has been brewing for so many years is aiming for a final
sacrifice to complete its reckoning and travel beyond the walls of their home.
No one is safe, and every time the lights go out, something terrifying comes out
of the darkness. The family's only chance for survival is to stop something that
they can't even see.
Director: Jaume Balaguero. Stars: Anna Paquin, Lena Olin, Iain Glen, Giancarlo
Giannini, Fele Martinez. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 88 min., Horror, Box
office gross: $22.160 million, Dimension, $29.99 VHS SRP.
DVD: Day & Date.
Divorce Italian Style
Baron Ferdinando Cefalu (Marcello
Mastroianni) longs to marry his nubile cousin Angela, but one obstacle stands in
his way: his fatuous and fawning wife, Rosalia. His solution? Since divorce is
illegal, he will devise a scenario wherein he can catch his spouse in the
arms of another and murder her to save his honor -- a lesser offense. Pietro
Germi's hilarious and cutting satire of Italy's hypocritical judicial system and
male-dominated culture won the 1962 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
In Italian with English subtitles.
Director: Pietro Germi. Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Daniela Rocca, Stefania
Sandrelli. 1961, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 104 min., Comedy, The Criterion
Ian McKellen portrays a man consumed by guilt over abandoning his family when he was young. Now, at 65 Emile makes a last attempt to reconnect with his only living relatives. Much of the film's key events are examined through
flashbacks, with the real and imaginary intersecting throughout. Emile's fragile state of mind is reflected through this interweaving, suggesting that he may never escape the past enough to really be present in the current moment. Emile's niece (Deborah Kara Unger) and
her daughter Maria (Theo Crane) hold the key to Emile's tragic past and the guilt, which has taunted him his entire life. In the present, Emile struggles to connect with his estranged family. In the past he plays back the memories of leaving the farm where he grew up
with his two brothers. As the past weaves together with the present, the experience reveals a portrait of one man's redemption.
Director: Carl Bessai. Stars: Ian McKellen, Deborah Kara Unger, Theo Crane. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 93 min., Drama, Monarch Home Video, $24.95 VHS SRP.
A hard-boiled Hong Kong actioner-crime thriller.
Tough cop Ken Li (Ekin Cheng) is at the top of his game, but still needs some
help to solve a grisly crime that the offender, a respected police official,
doesn't even remember committing. Li seeks out Jack Lai (Leon Lai), a former
psychologist, now disgraced and behind bars, who possesses an uncanny ability to
bend people to his will. Forming an uneasy alliance, the unconventional duo sets
out to find the man responsible for the crime: a master hypnotist who will stop
at nothing to exact revenge on his enemies. In Cantonese with English subtitles.
Director: Benny Chan. Stars: Ekin Cheng, Leon Lai, Kar Yan Lam, Anson Leung,
Francis Ng. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min., Thriller, Tartan Asia
Dramatic thriller -- set in a contemporary South
untouched by time -- about two brothers who run away from home to guard a
secret following the death of their father and the arrival of their greedy,
Director: David Gordon Green. Stars: Jamie Bell, Josh Lucas, Devon Alan, Dermot
Mulroney, Shiri Appleby. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 107 min., Thriller, Box
office gross: $0.124 million, MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a
Rotel RDV-1060 DVD Audio/Video Player, a
Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center),
and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.