Flight of the Phoenix
Remake of the 1965 Robert Aldrich film
with James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, Hardy Kruger and Ernest
Borgnine. A retelling that keeps all the excitement of the original with extra
added dollops of suspense, intrigue, realism and special effects. When cargo
plane pilot Frank Towns (Dennis Quaid) and co-pilot AJ are sent to the Tansag
Basin in Mongolia to evacuate the staff of an oil exploration operation that has
been shut down, they have no idea that this routine operation will result in a
life-and-death struggle. Shortly after take-off, while flying across the Gobi
Desert, the plane encounters a massive sandstorm and they're forced to crash
land in the middle of the world's most foreboding desert -- in the middle of
July. The plane is damaged beyond repair, and the surviving 11 passengers and
crew are stranded with little food and water. An eccentric, mysterious man named
Elliott (Giovanni Ribisi) -- a last-minute addition to the passenger list who
claims to be a flight engineer -- offers hope by suggesting that they build a
new plane, to be named the Phoenix, from the undamaged components of the wrecked
C-119 cargo plane. Towns and the others dismiss Elliott's plan as being
impractical, if not absurd. But as their numbers dwindle and all chance of being
rescued fades, and facing the brutal environment, dwindling resources, and an
attack by desert smugglers, they realize that Elliott's plan is their only
chance. The survivors put aside their differences and, under Elliott's guidance,
begin construction of the Phoenix.
Director: John Moore. Stars: Dennis Quaid, Tyrese, Giovanni Ribisi, Miranda
Otto, Tony Curran, Sticky Fingaz, Jacob Vargas, Hugh Laurie. 2004, CC, MPAA
rating: PG-13, 105 min., Action-adventure, Box office gross: $20.479 million,
Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
Ah, the simple, quiet life of
Bikini Bottom, where home is a pineapple and a Krabby Patty is always served hot
and fresh just around the corner at the Krusty Krab. But things get wild in the
underwater paradise that SpongeBob SquarePants calls home. When he and his
dimwitted best friend Patrick set out on an epic quest, SpongeBob finds himself
driving a sandwich on a road trip where he'll discover new worlds, dangerous
monsters, and that being a kid isn't such a bad thing after all.
Director: Stephen Hillenburg. Voices of Tom Kenny, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass,
Bill Fagerbakke, Carolyn Lawrence, Alec Baldwin, Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey
Tambor. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 90 min., Animated, Box office gross:
$81.900 million, Paramount, $14.99 VHS SRP.
DVD: Day & Date.
Exorcist, The: The Beginning
Prequel to William Friedkin's "The
Exorcist." Father Lankester Merrin thinks that he has glimpsed the face of Evil.
In the years following World War II, Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard) is relentlessly
haunted by memories of the unspeakable brutality perpetrated against the
innocent people of his parish. In the wake of all he has seen, both his faith in
his fellow man and his faith in the Almighty have deserted him. He can no longer
honestly call himself a man of God. Merrin has traveled far from his native
Holland in a desperate attempt to escape the horrors that he witnessed there.
While drifting through Cairo, he is approached by a collector of rare
antiquities to join a British archeological excavation in the remote Turkana
region of Kenya. They have unearthed a Christian Byzantine church in
inexplicably pristine condition -- as if it had been buried on the day it was
completed. The collector wants Merrin, an Oxford-educated archeologist, to find
an ancient relic hidden within the church before the British discover it. But
beneath the church, something much older sleeps, waiting to be awakened. Madness
descends upon the local villagers and the contingent of British soldiers sent to
guard the excavation. Merrin watches helplessly as the atrocities of war are
repeated against another innocent village -- atrocities he had prayed never to
see again. The blood of innocents flows freely on the East African plain, and
the horror has only just begun. In the place where Evil was born, Merrin will
finally see its true face.
Director: Renny Harlin. Stars: Stellan Skarsgard, Izabella Scorupco, James
D'Arcy, Remy Sweeney, Julian Wadham, Andrew French, Ralph Brown, Ben Cross.
2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 114 min., Horror thriller, Box office gross:
$41.814 million, Warner, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Incident at Loch Ness
In the Summer of 2003, acclaimed filmmaker
Werner Herzog set out to make a documentary about Scotland's infamous Loch Ness,
purported home of a prehistoric creature known as "Nessie." Herzog's stated
intent was "to explore the origin and the necessity of the monster" rather than
to look for the creature itself. The film was to be called "Enigma of Loch
Ness." At the time Herzog began production, noted cinematographer and filmmaker
John Bailey was already directing a documentary about him, tentatively called
"Herzog in Wonderland." This would not be the first time that Herzog would be
profiled while making a film, but it would perhaps be the last. What neither
Bailey nor Herzog could have predicted is that "Enigma of Loch Ness" would never
be completed. The chaos that had followed Herzog on his other epic quests would
follow him to Loch Ness. The production ground to a halt after a boating
accident just weeks into shooting. Charges of mismanagement, and even criminally
negligent behavior, were leveled in multiple directions. For the first time in
his career, Herzog would shut a film down for good. In the fall of 2003, the
unfinished "Enigma of Loch Ness" was combined with the footage John Bailey had
shot for "Herzog in Wonderland." The resulting film, "Incident at Loch Ness,"
was completed by editors Howard Smith and Abby Shwarzwalder, but due to numerous
pending lawsuits, the credits for that film remain undecided. In the ensuing
legal fracas, a series of startling film clips made their way onto the internet.
The footage was purported to be the clearest ever taken of the elusive monster,
but it was accompanied by claims of a hoax. The answer as to the origin and
validity of these clips remain unclear. "Incident at Loch Ness" chronicles the
story of the making (and unmaking) of Herzog's film, as well as the aftermath of
that fateful effort. Shocking, controversial, and strangely humorous, the film
raises many questions about where reality ends and fiction begins. It is also
the portrait of a great adventurer on his most bizarre and tragic quest.
Director: Zak Penn. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 95 min., Documentary, Box
office gross: $0.036 million, Fox.
The Seagull's Laughter
It's 1953, and Freya, who had gone to
America as an officer's bride, has returned home to begin a new life. She moves
into a small house of distant relatives in a quiet fishing village in Iceland.
But unlike the drab, plump girl who went abroad, Freya, now in her twenties, is
a stunningly beautiful woman. With her long chestnut brown hair, slender figure,
and chic American fashions, she is somewhat of a mystery to the women of the
household, including the inquisitive 11-year-old Agga, and especially to the men
of the community. But as Agga soon notices, strange things have been happening
since Freya's arrival. Women are asserting their independence and men are
mysteriously keeling over. Is Freya a murderess? A goddess of love? These are
questions young Agga would very much like to have answered. In Icelandic with
optional English subtitles.
Director: Agust Gudmundsson. Stars: Margret Vilhjaalmsdottir, Dilja Mist, Heino
Ferch, Ugla Egilsdottir, Hilmir Snaer Gudnason, Kristbjorg Kjeld. 2001, CC,
MPAA rating: NR, 104 min., Drama, Home Vision Entertainment.
Action drama that celebrates the ordinary men who put
everything on the line to become heroes. Baltimore firefighter Jack Morrison
(Joaquin Phoenix) grows from inexperienced rookie to seasoned veteran as he
copes with a risky, dangerous job that often shortchanges his wife (Jacinda
Barrett) and kids. He relies on the support of his second family -- Captain Mike
Kennedy (John Travolta) and the men of the firehouse. When Jack becomes trapped
in the worst blaze of his career, the firefighters of Ladder 49 learn that the
greatest fight they face will be saving one of their own.
Director: Jay Russell. Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, Robert Patrick,
Morris Chestnut, Jacinda Barrett. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min.,
Action, Box office gross: $72.039 million, Buena Vista, $24.99 VHS SRP.
DVD: Day & Date.
Harry Caine (John Turturro) is a security guard whose
wife Claire (Jacqueline Ramel) was shot and killed outside the shopping mall
where he works. Intent on finding the perpetrator of the crime, Harry carries
out a tireless search for the murderer. Footage garnered from the mall security
cameras offer little in the way of explanation, and after exhausting all
rational avenues, Harry becomes plagued by hallucinations and an obsession with
the house across the street, which he believes may offer a clue to the killer's
identity. Breaking into the depleted house, he finds a picture of a woman, Kate
(Deborah Unger), and traces her approximate whereabouts to a vague location in
Montana. Convinced Kate has something to do with his deceased wife, Harry
continues on his quest by taking up residence in a peculiar Montana hotel which
is bathed in rich red colors, and appointed with antiquated wooden furnishings.
Drawing on strange encounters with mysterious figures who may or may not know
the whereabouts of Kate, while offering spooky visualizations of the thoughts
pulsing through Harry's mind as he loses his grip on the sane world, director
Nicolas Winding Refn violently drags his characters to the close of the movie.
An evocative score from musician Brian Eno and a sometimes bewildering but
thought-provoking script from Refn and co-writer Hubert Selby Jr.
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn. Stars: John Turturro, Deborah Unger, Stephen
McIntyre, William Allen Young, Gene Davis, Mark Houghton, Jacqueline Ramel,
James Remar. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 91 min., Thriller, Lions Gate, No
VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
From the director of the cult hit "Inner Senses," Lo Chi-Leung, comes this intricately woven, jaw-clenching urban legend psychological thriller. During a wedding reception, a young woman discovers the most recent victim of a kidney
thief terrorizing Hong Kong. She suspects a mysterious woman who holds a bitter grudge against her and her boyfriend, with whom she shares a secret past. Almost unavoidably, these two women, polar opposites, begin an uneasy friendship as their fates become
irrevocably intertwined. In Cantonese with English subtitles.
Director: Lo Chi-leung. Stars: Angelica Lee, Karena Lam. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 88 min., Psychological Thriller, Tartan Video Asia Extreme.
WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception
Danny Schechter's award-winning
documentary paints a meticulous portrait of the United States media's lopsided
coverage of the Iraq war. A four-time Emmy Award winner and former network
producer with ABC News' "20/20" program and CNN, Schechter challenges the
media's role in the war. He examines how the government's manipulation of the
fourth estate failed to keep the airwaves "fair and balanced" -- the
government's spin was picked up by the media to sell the war to the American
people -- and details how the rest of the world saw a very different story than
American audiences. "WMD taps into mounting public dissatisfaction with the
war," says Schechter. "It's the only film in release that deals with Iraq at a
time when 56% of public say they are 'against the war.'"
Director: Danny Schechter. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, Documentary,
New Cinema Libre.
Mamoru (Tadanobu Asano) and Yuji (Jo Odagiri) are two twentysomething men working in the same factory, at jobs that leave them unsatisfied, apathetic and disillusioned with the world. The one thing that Mamoru is passionate
about is his pet, a Dactylometra pacifica -- a poisonous jellyfish found in the Pacific Ocean that may be up to 10 inches wide -- and his goal of acclimating it to fresh water. When Mamoru unexpectedly kills his boss, he charges Yuji with the care of his precious jellyfish
and finishing his work. Yuji, becoming attached to the hauntingly beautiful pet, befriends Mamoru's estranged father and the two form a bond. This bond isn't enough to match the jellyfish's power over Yuji, and when it accidentally escapes into the canals of Tokyo,
Yuji can feel its presence and problems continue to escalate. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Stars: Jo Odagiri, Tadanobu Asano, Tatsuya Fuji, Takashi Sasano, Marumi Shiraishi. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 113 min., Drama, Palm Pictures.
Through three intertwined and visually arresting narratives, "Dolls" tells the age-old story of true love denied for short-lived pleasures including money, power and fame. The film opens with a story about a joyful couple that is destined
for marriage. Sadly, the pressures of family and promises of success tear them apart and the man is forced into an arranged marriage. A tragic choice by his true love sends him dashing from the altar and to her side as caretaker. For protection, he binds himself to her by
a red rope and the two journey through Japan's beautiful four seasons, known to all as the Bound Beggars -- aimless vagabonds to the outside world, but desperate to find something forgotten. The second narrative tells the story of a love lost for material pursuits. Thirty
years before, when he was a poor factory worker his lover would meet him in their favorite park every Saturday with a homemade lunch. He then made the fateful decision to leave his faithful lover, with a promise to return to her once he had achieved fame and fortune.
Now decades later, possessing everything he thought he wanted -- power, respect and money -- he is alone with failing health and in search of his lost love. The final story is of a pop singer who lived in a world of glamour and had the love of millions, yet lived in a
lonely world. After a horrific accident, she leaves this world behind, ashamed to show her disfigured face to her once adoring fans. She lives on an isolated beach and spends her days staring out at the sea. Her most devoted fan makes the ultimate sacrifice to prove his
undying devotion to her -- blinding himself so as not to dishonor the shamed pop star. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Director: Takeshi Kitano. Stars: Miho Kanno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tatsuya Mihashi, Chieko Matsubara, Kyoko Fukada, Tsutomu Takeshige, Kayoko Kishimoto. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 113 min., Drama, Palm Pictures.
The incredible "The Incredibles" follows the adventures of a family of former superheroes rediscovering the true source of their powers -- one another. Once one of the world's top masked crime fighters, Bob Parr (AKA Mr.
Incredible) fought evil and saved lives on a daily basis. But 15 years later, he and his wife Helen (the former Elastigirl) have been forced to take on civilian identities and retreat to the suburbs. Today they, and all superheroes, live as mere mortals. Bob and Helen lead
all-too-ordinary lives with their children, Violet and Dashiell "Dash" Parr, who go out of their way to appear "normal." As a clock-punching insurance man, the only thing Bob fights these days is boredom and a bulging waistline. Itching for action, the sidelined
superhero gets his chance when a mysterious communication summons him to a remote island for a top-secret assignment. Now, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, the family must come together and once again find the fantastic in their family life. The
most complex computer-animated entertainment ever created, "The Incredibles" nevertheless relies on the same traditional elements as all compelling motion picture stories -- character development, production design, cinematography, costumes, effects, music and overall
vision -- pushing each of these to new levels within the genre.
Director: Brad Bird. Voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Dominique Louis, Teddy Newton, Jean Sincere, Eli Fucile, Maeve Andrews, Wallace Shawn, Spencer Fox, Lou Romano, Wayne Canney, Sarah Vowell, Elizabeth Pena.
2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 115 min., Animated, Box office gross: $256.739 million, Disney, $24.99 VHS SRP.
DVD: Day & Date.
Alfie Elkins (Jude Law) works as a limousine driver,
chauffeuring the wealthy through the streets of Manhattan, and occasionally
making love to his lonely female clients in the backseat. He's a philosophical
womanizer who is forced to question his seemingly carefree existence. Though he
has his ambitions, he wants only enough to get by, his primary focus being the
pleasures of life -- without any of the responsibilities. Ultimately, his
freewheeling lifestyle begins to slowly unravel. The original "Alfie" captured a
blend of romp and reality that was shocking and innovative in its time, and
introduced a young Michael Caine to the world. In this contemporary
re-invention, Alfie is now an irresistible Londoner who has taken up residence
in Manhattan, where he hopes to make his fortune -- and make love to as many
beautiful women as possible. Check out the original first.
Director: Charles Shyer. Stars: Jude Law, Jane Krakowski, Marisa Tomei, Omar
Epps, Susan Sarandon, Sienna Miller, Nia Long, Gedde Watanabe. 2004, CC,
MPAA rating: R, 103 min., Comedy drama, Box office gross: $13.386 million,
Paramount, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
What the 'Bleep' Do We Know?
Part documentary, part story, and
part elaborate and inspiring visual effects and animations. The drama part
involves Amanda, played by Marlee Matlin, who finds herself in a fantastic Alice
in Wonderland experience when her daily, uninspired life literally begins to
unravel, revealing the uncertain world of the quantum field hidden behind what
we consider to be our normal, waking reality. Amanda is literally plunged into a
swirl of chaotic occurrences, while the characters she encounters on this
odyssey reveal the deeper, hidden knowledge she doesn't even realize she has
asked for. Like every hero, Amanda is thrown into crisis, questioning the
fundamental premises of her life -- that the reality she has believed in about
how men are, how relationships with others should be, and how her emotions are
affecting her work isn't reality at all. As Amanda learns to relax into the
experience, she conquers her fears, gains wisdom, and wins the keys to the great
secrets of the ages, all in the most entertaining way. She is then no longer the
victim of circumstances, but she is on the way to being the creative force in
her life. Her life will never be the same. The 14 top scientists and mystics
interviewed in documentary style serve as a modern day Greek Chorus. In an
artful filmic dance, their ideas are woven together as a tapestry of truth. The
thoughts and words of one member of the chorus blend into those of the next,
adding further emphasis to the film's underlying concept of the
interconnectedness of all things. The chorus members act as hosts who live
outside of the story, and from this Olympian view, comment on the actions of the
characters below. They are also there to introduce the Great Questions framed by
both science and religion, which divides the film into a series of acts. Through
the course of the film, the distinction between science and religion becomes
increasingly blurred, since we realize that, in essence, both science and
religion describe the same phenomena. The film employs animation to realize the
radical knowledge that modern science has unearthed in recent years. Powerful
cinematic sequences explore the inner-workings of the human brain. Quirky
animation introduces us to the smallest form of consciousness in the body -- the
cell. An astounding outing.
Director: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse. Stars: Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix,
Barry Newman, Robert Bailey Jr., John Ross Bowie, Armin Shimerman, Robert
Blanche. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 90 min., Mockumentary, Box office gross:
$10.478 million, Fox, $24.98 VHS SRP.
DVD: Day & Date.
End of the Century
This portrait of the seminal New York punk
rock band the Ramones is both a celebration of their music and a mesmerizing
document of the group's road to near success, pitted with emotional power
struggles and substance abuse. New York City was caught off guard in 1974 by the
angry scream of punk. Raw and unrestrained, it was a sharp contrast to the
banality of soft rock and disco. At the forefront of the scene were the Ramones,
headed by Joey, who was often accused of geekiness but later went on to redeem
countless others from that agony; troubled bassist Dee Dee, burdened by the
weight of his own genius; guitarist and master drill sergeant Johnny; and
drummer Tommy (who was followed by a parade of other drummers, including Marky
and Richie Ramone). Looking like extras from "The Wild One," with their black
leather jackets, bowl haircuts and Converse sneakers, they ripped through
three-chord songs about sniffing glue, the neighborhood, teenage sex and angst.
They were a gang of misfits from Forest Hills, Queens, united in the belief in
salvation and deliverance through the power of rock 'n' roll. It was a rocky
road for the pseudo-brothers: the success that always seemed around the corner
continually faded in the distance, as British bands they inspired were crowned
the "originators of punk" by the mainstream music press. The film's title refers
to their 1980 album of the same name, produced by the infamous hit song guru
Phil Spector, an endeavor that strained the already tenuous relation between
band members. Poor record sales turned dreams of rock glory into gigging as a
means of employment. All the frustration they felt against an industry that gave
up on them and abandoned their cause divided them further as they seemingly
turned their anger against each other. The film moves from the band's CBGB and
London heydays, the decade-long silence between Joey and Johnny caused by a
dispute over a girl, to the deaths of Joey and Dee Dee Ramone and their
induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 2002.
Director: Jim Fields, Michael Gramaglia. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 150
min., Documentary, Box office gross: $0.391 million, Rhino.
NASCAR: The IMAX Experience
Home video version of the successful
IMAX film "NASCAR: The IMAX Experience." Narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, "The
IMAX Experience" was shot at NASCAR races throughout the 2003 season and
captures the thrilling excitement of NASCAR and puts the viewer in the driver's
seat point-of-view for the bumper-to-bumper, up to 200 mph thrills of America's
#1 spectator sport. Highlights include a race car being built from the frame up,
pit crews running through their split-second routines, and roaring
steel-and-piston wolf packs of cars drafting off each other for greater speed.
Director: Simon Wincer. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 49 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $19.947 million,
Tom, Sandra, Randy, and Curt have all staked a
month's salary on a bet to see who can stay indoors the longest. It helps that
they live and work in a downtown area where virtually all of the buildings are
connected by a maze of glassed-in bridges. Why, with all the office towers,
shopping malls, and apartment buildings joined, they could stay inside until
they retire! That is, if it wasn't driving them all slightly crazy. Come
lunchtime, things start getting really strange, but, by the time it's over,
everyone's looking at life a little differently. Black comedy.
Director: Gary Burns. Stars: Fab Filippo, Don McKellar, Marya Delver, Gordon
Currie, Tammy Isbell, Jennifer Clement, Tobias Godson. 2000, CC, MPAA
rating: NR, 83 min., Black comedy, Home Vision Entertainment.
Based on the true story of the "Lonely Hearts
Murders," renowned director Arturo Ripstein's Deep Crimson is an emotionally
charged and profoundly original take on serial killing. Nicolas Estrella has
made a meager living seducing and then stealing from lonely, often widowed,
women he meets through the personal ads in local newspapers. While trying to
victimize Coral, a hefty, half-mad nurse obsessed with Estrella's movie star
looks, Nicolas can't help falling in love with her merciless enthusiasm for his
seedy lifestyle. Together, the pair roam the back roads of Mexico looking for
lonely women who Nicolas seduces and the insanely jealous Coral then murders.
These lovers turned assassins feed on the misery of others with each murder
binding them together all the more closely until a pitiful confession from
Nicolas prompts the pair's fitting demise.
Director: Arturo Ripstein. Stars: Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Regina Orozco, Marisa
Paredes, Veruonica Merchant. 1996, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 114 min., Crime
drama, Home Vision Entertainment.
The Gospel of John
The best-loved but least understood of the gospels, John offers a uniquely human portrait of the life and times of Jesus Christ. The film presents an epic dramatization of Jesus' ministry and the final years of his life. Every
aspect of the film's production, from costume design to ancient architecture and historic music, has been meticulously thought out and brought to the screen. The DVD contains the theatrical 310 minute version as well as a special 129-minute version; the VHS contains
the 129-minute version.
Director: Philip Saville. Stars: Christopher Plummer (narrator), Henry Ian Cusick, Stuart Bunce, Daniel Kash, Stephen Russell, Diana Berriman, Alan Van Sprang, Scott Handy, Lynsey Baxter. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 310 min., Religious, Box office
gross: $4.068 million, Buena Vista, $29.99 VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Bridget Jones: The Edge of
Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) -- the 30-something, self-doubting, self-analyzing, career-minded,
calorie-counting London singleton of "Bridget Jones's Diary -- has found
romantic bliss. For six glorious weeks she has been the girlfriend of the
exquisitely flawless human rights lawyer Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and nothing
could be better. Or --- could it? Despite Darcy's apparent devotion, Bridget
still finds herself asking questions about life, love and the proper way to put
away underwear. Having finally found her man, Bridget is faced with the equally
flummoxing challenge of keeping him. She can't help but wonder: what exactly is
it that comes after the happily ever after? And just as she's starting to figure
it all out, enter the competition: Darcy's drop-dead, legs-up-to-there,
never-says-the-wrong-thing new colleague. Suddenly jealousy, uncertainty and
temptation -- in the form of Bridget's former boss and womanizing heart-throb
Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) -- threaten to upend Bridget's dream in a comic maze
of bad advice, silly mix-ups and total disasters that could only happen to her.
Director: Beeban Kidron. Stars: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Gemma
Jones, Jim Broadbent, James Faulkner, Celia Imrie, Dominic McHale, Donald
Douglas, Shirley Dixon. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 108 min., Comedy, Box
office gross: $39.877 million, Universal, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Annette Bening plays a beautiful and beguiling
actress who finds herself bored with her role as the toast of the town in 1930s
London. Julia Lambert (Bening) is a true diva: beautiful, talented, wealthy and
famous. She has it all -- including a devoted husband (Jeremy Irons) who has
masterminded her brilliant career -- but after years of shining in the spotlight
she begins to suffer from a severe case of boredom and longs for something new
and exciting to put the twinkle back in her eye. Julia finds exactly what she's
looking for in a handsome young American fan, but it isn't long before the
novelty fling adds a few more sparks than she was hoping for. Fortunately for
her, this surprise twist in the plot will thrust her back into the greatest role
of her life -- being Julia.
Director: Istvan Szabo. Stars: Annette Bening, Jeremy Irons, Bruce Greenwood,
Miriam Margolyes, Juliet Stevenson, Shaun Evans, Lucy Punch, Maury Chaykin,
Sheila McCarthy, Michael Gambon. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 103 min., Drama,
Box office gross: $3.555 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
The magical true story of J.M. Barrie, the
author of "Peter Pan." Johnny Depp stars as Barrie, a respected playwright who
finds both his career and his marriage crumbling around him. After writing a
complete flop, Barrie struggles with his producer (Dustin Hoffman) to create a
hit. Upon meeting the beautiful widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet) and
her four boys, Barrie discovers inspiration and a happiness he has not
previously known. Barrie bonds with the family, especially young Peter (Freddie
Highmore), and through their adventures together he forms the magical stories
that would become his world-famous play "Peter Pan." Barrie's friendship with
the Davies family, however, is endangered by Sylvia's jealous mother (Julie
Christie) and Barrie's own complicated marriage to his wife Mary (Radha
Director: Marc Forster. Stars: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Radha
Mitchell, Dustin Hoffman, Freddie Highmore, Joe Prospero, Nick Roud, Luke Spill,
Ian Hart. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 106 min., Family, Box office gross:
$24.676 million, Miramax, $24.99 VHS SRP.
DVD: Day & Date.
A generation grew up watching "Fat Albert and the
Cosby Kids," the Saturday morning cartoon series that enjoyed one of the longest
runs in cartoon history, airing from 1972-79. It was later reprised as "The New
Fat Albert Show" that ran from 1979-84. Bill Cosby's beloved characters finally
made their way to the big screen just after Christmas in an all-new, live-action
motion picture. The movie, like the famed series, was based on Cosby's stand-up
comedy monologues about his growing up with his friends in a Philadelphia
neighborhood, but the transition from the little screen to movie theaters was a
disappointment. As the story opens, Fat Albert and friends are playing their
favorite game, buck-buck, on their home turf: a North Philly junkyard. At the
same time, in the real world, a teenager named Doris is watching "Fat Albert and
the Cosby Kids" reruns on television. The unhappy, lonely teen begins to cry,
and as her tears fall onto the remote control, Fat Albert hears Doris. The big
guy with the big heart stops what he is doing and dives headlong through the
television screen -- and into the real world -- to help her. His friends, Rudy,
Mushmouth, Bill, Bucky, Old Weird Harold and Dumb Donald, follow shortly
thereafter. Fat Albert is determined to help Doris, but as he slowly brings
Doris out of her shell, he begins to undergo some big changes of his own. Fat
Albert has discovered love, courtesy of Doris' foster sister, a lovely high
school student named Lauri. But worse, he and his friends are fading, and he
must race to complete his mission and return to his world before he ceases to
exist. In the end, the film ceases to exist on any cinematic level, lacking any
momentum and depth -- it just plods ahead to its finale.
Director: Joel Zwick. Stars: Kenan Thompson, Kyla Pratt, Jermaine Williams,
Keith Robinson, Alphonso McAuley, Aaron Frazier, Marques Houston, Dania Ramirez.
2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 90 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $47.870
million, Fox, $19.98 VHS SRP.
DVD: Day & Date.
Final Cut, The
Interesting sci-fi outing about a computer chip -
- the Zoe Implant -- placed in a child's brain at birth to record everything
that happens in his or her life. No longer do cherished moments have to fade and
disappear over time ... a certain type of immortality has been established: When
one dies, the footage from their life is pieced together ("cut") by an editor
into a "Rememory," a film that is shown at one's memorial. A toy for the
privileged, Zoe implants are changing the face of human interaction; however,
there are those who are against the technology and believe that memories are
meant to fade. Alan Hackman (Robin Williams) is the best "cutter" in the
business. His ability to grant absolution to his often corrupt clients has put
him in high demand. However, his talent for viewing life without emotion has
shaped him into a distant man unable to experience life in the first person. He
believes he is a "sin eater," and his work provides him with the ability to
forgive the sins of the dead. He hopes that if he exonerates others, he will
somehow forgive himself. While cutting a Rememory for a high-powered Zoe Tech
officer, Alan discovers an image from his childhood that has haunted him his
entire life. This discovery launches Alan on a high intensity search for truth
Director: Omar Naim. Stars: Robin Williams, Mira Sorvino, James Caviezel, Mimi
Kuzyk. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min., Science fiction, Box office
gross: $0.548 million, Lions Gate, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Day.
Slow, melancholy film about a disillusioned
photographer -- and his unemployed relative-friend -- who experiences varying
shades of despair in a largely snowbound Istanbul. The photographer -- haunted
by the feeling that the gap between his life and his ideals is growing out of
control -- finds himself obliged to share his apartment with a young relative
who has left behind his village to look for a job in Istanbul, with the hopes of
going abroad. The film chronicles the photographer's dark take on life and the
resulting disintegrating friendship between the two men. Winner of the Festival
de Cannes Grand Prix du Jury in 2003. In Turkish with English subtitles.
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Stars: Muzaffer Ozdemir, Mehmet Emin Toprak, Zuhal
Gencer Erkaya, Nazan Kirilmis. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 105 min., Drama,
Box office gross: $0.095 million, New Yorker, $24.95 VHS SRP.
DVD: Day & Date.
Remember Me, My Love
Director Gabriele Muccino's bittersweet drama delves into the lives and loves of
a modern Italian family whose individual aspirations pull at the seams of their
increasingly fragile unit. As their children come of age and begin to follow
their own dreams, Carlo (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) finds himself torn between a
passionate affair with Alessia (Monica Bellucci) and his wife Guilia (Laura
Morante), while Guilia must face her own buried desires. The film premiered at
the 2003 Toronto Film Festival and screened at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
It was nominated for 10 Donatello Awards (Italy's Oscar) and was one of Italy's
most successful films in 2003.
Director: Gabriele Muccino. Stars: Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Laura Morante, Nicoletta Romanoff, Monica Bellucci. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 125 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.214 million, First Look Home Entertainment, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
When widowed attorney Tripp Spence (Harry Connick Jr.) finds himself wanted by the IRS, he and his young pitching sensation son Derrick (Shawn Salinas) change their appearance, assume new identities and flee to Las Vegas. Here,
Derrick becomes "Mickey" and Tripp enrolls him in a second final year of Little League. But as the nation, the government and a nervous Tripp watch, "Mickey" leads his team from the city championship all the way to the controversial final game of the Little League
World Series. Can a 13-year-old fugitive with an 80 mph fastball now find a way to stay anonymous -- and honest -- as the most famous 12-year-old athlete in the world? Original screenplay by #1 best-selling author and proud Little League coach John Grisham.
Director: Hugh Wilson. Stars: Harry Connick Jr., Shawn Salinas, Michelle Johnson, Sherri Richmond, Mark Joy, Mike Starr. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 104 min., Family drama, Box office gross: $0.293 million, Anchor Bay.
After the Sunset
This high-stakes action comedy begins where most heist movies end -- with a pair of master thieves escaping to a tropical paradise to enjoy the spoils of their labor. But when an FBI agent, who has pursued them for seven
years, becomes convinced that they are actually plotting to pull off a million-dollar theft from a nearby "diamond cruise," a riveting game of cat and mouse begins. Max "The King of Alibis" Burdett (Pierce Brosnan) and his beautiful accomplice Lola (Salma Hayek) have
come to Paradise Island in the Bahamas, fresh off their final big score in which they lifted the second of the three famous Napoleon diamonds. With their financial future set, the couple is ready to relax and enjoy their hard-earned riches. But Stan (Woody Harrelson), the
FBI agent who has spent years in dogged but failed pursuit of Max, refuses to believe that his nemesis is actually calling it quits. He thinks that Max and Lola are actually plotting to steal the third Napoleon diamond -- one of the three largest non-flawed diamonds in the
world -- which is coincidentally scheduled to arrive on Paradise Island as part of a touring cruise ship exhibition. Since he has no jurisdiction in the Caribbean country, Stan teams with a local cop (Naomie Harris) and sets out to catch the sly Max and Lola in the act,
while at the same time a local gangster (Don Cheadle) has his own plans for the diamond. When the longtime adversaries meet up in paradise, Max quickly turns the tables and befriends the frustrated detective, showing him that Paradise Island has no shortage of
pleasures to offer. But in order for Stan to figure out exactly what Max and Lola are up to, he will have to navigate all the twists and double-crosses of friendship, suspicion and thievery.
Director: Brett Ratner. Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, Don Cheadle, Naomie Harris, Chris Penn, Mykelti Williamson, Obba Babatunde. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min., Caper comedy, Box office gross: $28.287 million, New
Line, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) is a beloved wife and mother who is completely devoted to, and loved by, her working class family. Vera spends her days cleaning houses for money and caring for her sick neighbor and elderly
mother. But Vera also performs another duty that her family doesn't know about -- she secretly visits women and helps them induce miscarriages for unwanted pregnancies. While the practice itself was illegal in 1950s England, Vera sees herself as simply helping women
in need and always does so with a smile and kind words of encouragement. When tragedy befalls a young client of Vera's, the truth comes out, and Vera's world and family life rapidly unravel.
Director: Mike Leigh. Stars: Imelda Staunton, Phil Davis, Peter Wight, Adrian Scarborough, Heather Craney, Richard Graham, Eddie Marsan. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 125 min., Drama, Box office gross: $2.842 million, New Line.
A witty, romantic, and very dangerous love story about chance meetings, instant attractions, and casual betrayals. "Closer" is director Mike Nichols' critically acclaimed look at four strangers -- Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman
and Clive Owen -- with one thing in common: each other. Two couples meet, cheat and deceive each other in this adaptation of Patrick Marber's award-winning stage production.
Director: Mike Nichols. Stars: Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Drama, Box office gross: $33.987 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
DVD: Day & Date.
Tale of Two Sisters, A
Once upon a time, two little girls were sent to live with their wicked stepmother in the country. Su-Mi and Su-Yeon have had to go away for a little while because they've been sick, but now they're back in the family
home, deep in the countryside and at the mercy of their seriously nutty stepmom, Eun-Joo. Director Kim Jee-Woon spends the first half of his movie building up the quiet, stately rhythms of family life, but if you listen carefully you can hear something rotten and dead
scrabbling away beneath the floorboards. Lulled into a state of semi-hypnosis, the audience is barely prepared for the series of narrative depth charges director Kim begins to detonate, starting with one of the most surreal and uncomfortable dinner parties ever put
onscreen. The screen pulses with radioactive earth tones as floral wallpaper creeps across every available surface. As the ghosts begin to crawl out of the closet, and as the house itself seems to shimmer with malevolence we learn that nothing is what it seems, that
appearances can be lethally deceiving, and that the ghosts of our past sins will haunt us forever. Based on a famous Korean folktale. Kim's psychological horror movie is the highest grossing Korean horror movie ever made and it's the first Korean horror flick to be
given a full theatrical release in the United States. In Korean with English subtitles.
Director: Kim Jee-woon. Stars: Soo-jung Im, Geun-young Moon. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 115 min., Horror, Tartan Video Asia Extreme.
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.