When a gifted ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) is hired to write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), he quickly finds himself trapped in a web of political and sexual intrigue. Lang is implicated in a scandal over his administration's harsh tactics, and as the ghostwriter digs into the politician's past, he discovers secrets that threaten to jeopardize international relations -- as well as his life. A taut and shocking thriller. Vitals: Director: Roman Polanski. Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Jim Belushi, Eli Wallach, Timothy Hutton.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 128 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $15.5 million, Summit Entertainment
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is an ordinary teenager who goes unnoticed in high school until he takes a chance to "do something" and dons a mask and becomes "Kick-Ass" to fight real-life crime. There's only one problem standing in his way: Kick-Ass has absolutely no superpowers. Bruised and beaten, he is saved by a father-daughter duo (Nicolas Cage as "Big Daddy", Chloe Moretz as 11-year-old sword-wielding "Hit-Girl") who know all the right moves and have a vendetta against a vicious crime-lord, D'Amico (Mark Strong). After a fiery internet storm of publicity for Kick-Ass, D'Amico wants to meet the masked man, and his son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) dons a costume of his own and becomes "Red Mist" to befriend him and get in his father's good graces. The story comes to a head when D'Amico succeeds in luring the crime-fighters to his home and ass-kicking destruction ensues.
Vitals: Director: Matthew Vaughn. Stars: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Garrett M. Brown, Clark Duke, Evan Peters, Deborah Twiss, Lyndsy Fonseca, Sophie Wu, Elizabeth McGovern.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 118 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $48.043 million, Lionsgate.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Based on the best-selling illustrated novel by Jeff Kinney (which began as a series of online cartoons). The film chronicles the adventures of wisecracking pre-teen Greg Heffley, who must somehow survive the scariest time of anyone's life ... middle school. Convinced it's the "dumbest idea ever invented," Heffley considers junior high school a place rigged with hundreds of social land mines, not the least of which are wedgies, swirlies, bullies, lunchtime banishment off the cafeteria floor and a festering piece of cheese with nuclear cooties that he must overcome to become popular. His diary -- or "journal" -- chronicles his thoughts, tales of family trials and tribulations, and (would be) schoolyard triumphs.
Thor Freudenthal. Stars: Zachary Gordon, Robert Capro, Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn.
2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 92 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $62.344 million, Fox.
An impressionable and vulnerable Arabic man gets thrust into a hellish prison, and ironically discovers greater opportunities for success than he ever possessed outside of the bars. Tahar Rahim stars as Malik El Djebena, a petty criminal incarcerated for six years. Once inside and subjected to all of the standard brutalities that most prisoners endure (including a rough strip search), he is quickly educated in the "ways" of the prison, an institution torn violently between gangs of Corsicans and Arabs. The head Corsican thug, Cesar Luciani (Niels Arestrup), offers Malik an ultimatum: either he rubs out an Arab inmate named Reyeb (Hichem Yacoubi), or he himself dies. Not only does Malik succeed with the hit, he earns the begrudging respect of the other prisoners, and -- after securing several days' release for good behavior -- uses off-time to forge a deeper and more multi-layered network of criminal ties than he ever dreamed possible. But as his own power and confidence grow, they threaten to outstrip Cesar's own insistence on submission and obedience at all costs. Vitals: Director: Jacques Audiard. Stars: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Hichem Yacoubi.
2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 155 min., Drama, Box office gross: $2.063 million, Sony.
Steve Carell and Tina Fey star as a sensible, loving couple with two kids and a house in suburban New Jersey. Their typical date nights include a run-of-the-mill evening with little to no romance, but one night they decide to reignite the spark by going to Manhattan's hottest new restaurant ... without a reservation. They get more than they bargained for when a case of mistaken identity hurtles them into an incredible adventure involving corrupt cops, a mob boss and a crazed cab driver.
Vitals: Director: Shawn Levy. Stars: Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Common, Taraji Henson, Leighton Meeste.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 88 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $95.334 million, Fox.
Death at a Funeral
When the patriarch of a dysfunctional family dies, his funeral turns into a family circus. Misplaced bodies, blackmail, indecent exposure and a corpse that won't stay in the box get the party started, but when old family skeletons start tumbling out of the closet, all Hell breaks loose. Vitals: Director: Neil LaBute. Stars: Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, Zoe Saldana, Loretta Devine, Danny Glover, Regina Hall, James Marsden, Columbus Short, Luke Wilson, Ron Glass, Keith David, Peter Dinklage.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 92 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $42.192 million, Sony.
In this satirical social commentary, the flawless and fashionable Joneses are the envy of their posh, suburban neighborhood filled with all the trappings of the upper middle class. They are the ultimate trendsetters with an endless supply of high-tech toys, designer clothes, fast cars and the latest gadgets. But as the neighbors try to keep up with the Joneses, none are prepared for the truth about this all too perfect family: the reality is they are a commissioned fake family put together by a marketing company as a way to introduce new luxury-level products to neighborhoods around the world.
Vitals: Director: Derrick Borte. Stars: Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Gary Cole, Glenne Headly, Amber Heard. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 111 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $1.411 million, Fox.
After transplanting his family from Chicago to the Oregon woods for his new job overseeing the construction of a supposedly "eco-friendly" housing development, Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser) thinks his biggest problem will be helping his city-loving wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and nature-phobic teenaged son (Matt Prokop) adjust to their new surroundings while pleasing his demanding boss (Ken Jeong). But Dan's troubles have only begun once the local animals discover his leadership role in the destruction of their habitat. He soon lands atop their Most Wanted list, and realizes how much trouble a few feisty forest creatures can cause.
Vitals: Director: Roger Kumble. Stars: Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Matt Prokop, Ken Jeong, Angela Kinsey.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 92 min., Children's Comedy, Box office gross: $17.596 million, Summit Entertainment.
Last Song, The
Based on best-selling novelist Nicholas Sparks' ("A Walk to Remember," "The Notebook")novel, "The Last Song" is set in a small Southern beach town where an estranged father (Greg Kinnear) gets a chance to spend the summer with his reluctant teenaged daughter (Miley Cyrus), who'd rather be home in New York. He tries to reconnect with her through the only thing they have in common -- music -- in a story of family, friendship, secrets and salvation, along with first loves and second chances.
Vitals: Director: Julie Ann Robinson. Stars: Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Bobby Coleman, Liam Hemsworth, Hallock Beals, Kelly Preston, Stephanie Leigh, Nick Searcy.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 107 min., Drama, Box office gross: $62.933 million, Disney.
Set in a quaint fishing community on the outskirts of New York City, "City Island" -- an independent gem that has become a surprise hit that landed in the Top-20 theatrical releases by box office for more than 10 weeks -- is a funny and touching tale about a family whose comfortable co-existence is upended by surprising revelations of past secrets and present day lies. Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia) is a lifelong resident of the tiny, tradition-steeped Bronx enclave of City Island. A family man who makes his living as a corrections officer, Vince longs to become an actor. Ashamed to admit his aspirations to his family, Vince would rather let his fiery wife Joyce (Julianna Margulies) believe his weekly poker games are a cover for an extramarital affair than admit he's secretly taking acting classes in Manhattan. When Vince is asked to reveal his biggest secret in class, he inadvertently sets off a chaotic chain of events that turns his mundane suburban life upside down. Inspired by the exercise, he decides to bring his long-lost ex-con son Tony (Steven Strait) home to meet the family, and it soon becomes clear that everyone -- including his college student daughter (Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Garcia's real-life daughter), teenaged son Vinnie, Jr. (Ezra Miller), charismatic acting partner (Emily Mortimer) and drama coach (Alan Arkin) -- has something to hide. A perfect storm of deception, half truths and confusion makes Vince and his family members realize that the truth may not set them free, but it is easier to keep track of than all their well-intentioned white lies.
Vitals: Director: Raymond De Felitta. Stars: Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Steven Strait, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Ezra Miller, Alan Arkin, Emily Mortimer.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 104 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $6.000 million, Anchor Bay.
After years of dating, Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) has decided waiting for the right man is taking too long. Determined to become a mother, she commits to a plan, makes an appointment and decides to go it alone. On the day of her artificial insemination, Zoe meets Stan (Alex O'Loughlin) -- a man with real possibilities. Trying to nurture a budding relationship and hide the early signs of pregnancy becomes a comedy of errors for Zoe and creates confusing signals for Stan. When Zoe nervously reveals the reason for her unpredictable behavior, Stan commits fully and says he's in. Never before has love seen a courtship where a wild night of sex involves three in a bed -- Stan, Zoe and the ever-present massive pregnancy pillow. Or, where "date night" consists of being the "focal point" at a near-stranger's water birth which does for kiddie pools what "Jaws" did for swimming in the ocean. The real pregnancy test comes when both of them realize they really don't know each other outside of hormonal chaos and birth preparations. With the nine-month clock ticking, both begin to experience cold feet. Anyone can fall in love, get married and have a baby but doing it backwards in hyper-drive could be proof positive that they were made for each other.
Vitals: Director: Alan Poul. Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Alex O'Loughlin, Michaela Watkins, Eric Christian Olsen.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 106 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $36.917 million, Sony.
Revenge flick. Set in modern day Britain, "Harry Brown" follows one man's journey through a chaotic world where teenage violence runs rampant. In this desolate urban wasteland, the residents live in fear of the drug dealers who rule the streets ... and the police offer little protection. As a modest, law abiding citizen, Brown lives alone; his only companion is his best friend Leonard. When Leonard is killed -- and Inspector Alice Frampton ("Shutter Island") can't convict the thugs who killed Harry's best friend, he decides to take the law into his own hands. Using skills honed as a Royal Marine, Harry begins to serve his own brand of justice, and no one will stop him.
Vitals: Director: Daniel Barber. Stars: Michael Caine, Emily Mortiner, David Bradley, Iain Glen, Charlie Creed-Miles, Sean Harris, Ben Drew.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 103 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $1.604 million, Sony.
Gathered together in the Bahamas for their annual one-week reunion, four close couples eagerly reconnect, sharing news about their lives and relationships. But their intimate week in paradise is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of Sheila's ex-husband, Mike, who hopes to break up her new marriage with Troy and win her back. The others soon realize they too are not immune to the challenges of commitment and fidelity. Angela doesn't believe her husband, Marcus, can be faithful now that he's a celebrity television newscaster. Dianne and Terry's relationship is feeling the strain of raising children. And Patricia, a successful self-help psychologist, must finally reveal the deep flaws in her seemingly perfect marriage to Gavin. With their relationships hanging in the balance when they return home, each couple must choose between blame and forgiveness, doubt and faith, with life-altering consequences. Vitals: Director: Tyler Perry. Stars: Janet Jackson, Michael Jai White, Tyler Perry, Tasha Smmith, Richard T. Jones, Louis Gossett Jr., Sharon Leal, Jill Scott, Denise Boutte, Malik Yoba, Cicely Tyson, Keesha Sharp..
2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 121 min., Drama-Comedy, Box office gross: $60.1 million, Lionsgate.
For Phil and Debbie Winslow, moving their family from Kansas to the O.C. is a big deal. For their enormous Great Dane Marmaduke, however, the move means a whole new way of life. It's chaos at home and awkward at work as the Winslows struggle to control their angsty teenage canine.
Vitals: Director: Tom Dey. Stars: Lee Pace, Judy Greer, voices of Owen Wilson, George Lopez, Keifer Sutherland, Fergie.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 87 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $32.915 million, Fox.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a
Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a
Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center),
and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.