Lost in an emotional funk one year after his brother's death, Jack (Mark Duplass) takes his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt) up on her offer for a reflective week of solitude at her family's remote island retreat. Upon arriving at the house, Jack discovers that Iris' sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) had the same idea, and the two spend an awkward evening together. Iris shows up the next morning unannounced, setting in motion an emotionally twisted tale of sisters, brothers, and best friends. Director Lynn Shelton once again honestly explores the complexities of interpersonal relationships while gently poking fun at her characters' predicaments.
Vitals: Director: Lynn Shelton. Stars: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass, Mike Birbiglia.
2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 90 min., Comedy Drama, Box office gross: $1.546 million, IFC Films.
Aardman Animations movie reveals the answer to the age old question of children everywhere, just how all those millions of presents get delivered in one night. The answer: with a lot of high-tech logistics and gadgetry and absolute military precision coordinated by Santa's son Steve. While Santa's other bumbling son Arthur deals with the stacks of letters from children, Steve and his tech-savvy crew coordinate virtually everything else to ensure the successful mission of delivering presents around the globe on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, soon-to-be-retiring Santa simply does as he's told, and centenarian Grand-Santa watches the whole procedure on TV from the comfort of his easy chair. But when one little girl's present doesn't get delivered on Christmas Eve, it raises the question of just what is an acceptable margin of error when you're talking about children and Santa Claus -- something that Steve, Arthur, Santa and Grand-Santa don't quite agree on. Thus begins a very unusual, highly comical last-ditch effort by Arthur, Grand-Santa, and a wrapping elf named Bryony to deliver the forgotten present. Vitals: Director: Sarah Smith, Barry Cook. Stars: Voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen.
2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 97 min., Family, Box office gross: $12.700 million, Sony.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Reboot of the film series based on the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, about Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. When Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents' disappearance -- leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors' alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.
Vitals: Director: Marc Webb. Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, C. Thomas Howell, Chris Zylka, Embeth Davidtz, Stan Lee.
2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 136 min., Action, Box office gross: $259.811 million, Sony.
Animated feature follows the heroic journey of the headstrong, young adventurer Merida. She's a skilled archer and the impetuous daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin, surly Lord Macintosh and cantankerous Lord Dingwall. Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it's too late.
Vitals: Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell. Stars: Voices of Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson.
2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 93 min., Animated, Box office gross: $227.245 million, Disney.
Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) raise and sell some of the best marijuana ever developed, while sharing a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia (Blake Lively). Their idyllic life is shattered when the Mexican Baja Cartel demands that the trio partner with them. But the cartel's merciless boss, Elena (Salma Hayek), and her brutal enforcer, Lado (Benicio Del Toro), underestimate the unbreakable bonds among the three friends. Ben and Chon -- with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent (John Travolta) -- launch a seemingly unwinnable war against the drug lords that escalates into a savage, high-stakes battle of wills. Based on Don Winslow's bestselling crime novel.
Vitals: Director: Oliver Stone. Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, Emile Hirsch, Demian Bichir, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro.
2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 131 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $47.307 million, Universal.
There's trouble brewing in peaceful Glenview, Ohio. That's why four civic-minded citizens, armed with flashlights, walkie-talkies and spiffy new jackets, have teamed up to safeguard their community (in reality, they've banded together to get away from their humdrum family life for one night). But the guys find more than they bargained for when they uncover an alien plot to destroy Earth, and now these bumbling heroes are Glenview's only chance to save the neighborhood -- and the world -- from annihilation.
Vitals: Director: Akiva Schaffer. Stars: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Billy Crudup, Rosemarie DeWitt, Doug Jones, Will Forte.
2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 102 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $12.750 million, Fox.
The Queen of Versailles
Directed by lauded filmmaker and photographer Lauren Greenfield, who won the U.S. Directing Award for Documentary Film at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for this film, "The Queen of Versailles" is a character-driven documentary about a billionaire family and their financial challenges in the wake of the economic crisis. With epic proportions of Shakespearean tragedy, the film follows two unique characters, whose rags-to-riches success stories reveal the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream. The film begins with the family triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America, a 90,000 sq. ft. palace. Over the next two years, their sprawling empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis. Major changes in lifestyle and character ensue within the cross-cultural household of family members and domestic staff.
Vitals: Director: Lauren Greenfield.
2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 100 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $2.358 million, Magnolia Home Entertainment.
2 Days in New York
Hip talk-radio host and journalist Mingus (Chris Rock) and his French photographer girlfriend, Marion (Julie Delpy), live cozily in a New York apartment with their cat and two young children from previous relationships. But when Marion's jolly father, her oversexed sister, and her sister's outrageous boyfriend unceremoniously descend upon them for an overseas visit, it initiates two unforgettable days of family mayhem.
Vitals: Director: Julie Delpy. Stars: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon, Kate Burton, Dylan Baker.2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 96 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $.615 million, Magnolia Home Entertainment.
The Expendables 2
Barney Ross, Lee Christmas, Yin Yang, Gunnar Jensen, Toll Road and Hale Caesar -- with newest members Billy the Kid and Maggie aboard -- are reunited when Mr. Church enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But after Billy is brutally murdered, the comrades swear to avenge him. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time -- six pounds of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world. Stallone gathered together his old buddies from 2010's "The Expendables," added in Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme, gave the directing reins to the more experienced action-helmer Simon West ("Con Air") -- and came up with a slam-bang extravaganza of explosions, firefights, killing and wisecracks. Fire up the microwave popcorn!
Vitals: Director: Simon West. Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Yu Nan.
2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 102 min., Action, Box office gross: $84.025 million, Lionsgate.
From the makers of "Coraline" comes the story of Norman, a boy who must use his gift of seeing and speaking with the dead to save his town from a centuries-old curse about to come true. When his small town comes under siege by zombies, only misunderstood local boy Norman, who is able to speak with the dead, can save the day. In addition to the zombies, he'll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst of all, moronic grown-ups, to save his town from the curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.
Vitals: Director: Sam Fell, Chris Butler. Stars: Voices of Casey Affleck, Tempestt Bledsoe, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, Jodelle Ferland, Bernard Hill, Anna Kendrick, Leslie Mann, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Elaine Strit.
2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 92 min., Animated, Box office gross: $53.934 million, Universal.
Based on the novel "The Wettest County in the World" by Matt Bondurant, "Lawless" is inspired by the true story of the Bondurant boys, bootlegging siblings who take the law into their own hands in Prohibition-era Virginia. The three brothers make a run for the American Dream in this gangster tale set during the nation's most notorious crime wave. The three Bondurant boys (Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke), along with their sultry new hire (Jessica Chastain), command the most lucrative bootlegging operation in Franklin County, Virginia. The locals consider them "indestructible." But the law -- in the form of a corrupt special deputy (Guy Pearce) -- wants a cut of their action, at any cost. When youngest brother Jack (LaBeouf) gets a taste of power with a deadly gangster (Gary Oldman), the whole business blows sky high.
Vitals: Director: John Hillcoat. Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Jason Clarke.
2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 116 min., Crime Drama, Box office gross: $34.477 million, The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay.
When frightening events start to occur in their home, young couple Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan) discover they are being haunted by a presence that was accidentally conjured during a university parapsychology experiment. The horrifying apparition feeds on their fear and torments them no matter where they try to run. Their last hope is an expert in the supernatural (Tom Felton), but even with his help they may already be too late to save themselves from this terrifying force.
Vitals: Director: Todd Lincoln. Stars: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, Suzanne Ford, Julianna Guill, Rick Gomez, Luke Pasqualino, Anna Clark.
2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 82 min., Horror, Box office gross: $4.930 million, Warner.
Step Up Revolution
The next installment in the worldwide "Step Up" franchise, which sets the dancing against the vibrant backdrop of Miami. Emily (Kathryn McCormick) arrives in Miami with aspirations of becoming a professional dancer and soon falls in love with Sean (Ryan Guzman), a young man who leads a dance crew in elaborate, cutting-edge flash mobs, called "The Mob." When a wealthy business man threatens to develop The Mob's historic neighborhood and displace thousands of people, Emily must band together with Sean and The Mob to turn their performance art into protest art, and risk losing their dreams to fight for a greater cause.
Vitals: Director: Scott Speer. Stars: Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Stephen Boss, Chadd Smith, Megan Boone, Cleopatra Coleman, Misha Gabriel.
2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 99 min., Dance Drama, Box office gross: $11.731 million, Lionsgate.
Men In Black 3
Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back ... in time. Agent J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when Agent K's life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that Agent K never told him -- secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency and the future of humankind.
Vitals: Director: Barry Sonnenfeld. Stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Alice Eve, Jemaine Clement, Bill Hader, Rip Torn, Nicole Scherzinger, Mike Colter.
2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min., Sci-Fi Comedy, Box office gross: $179.020 million, Sony.
"American Idol's" Jordin Sparks stars as Sparkle, a young woman whose big dreams seem almost impossible. She's been warned against the pitfalls of the music industry by her protective mother (Whitney Houston), yet encouraged by the handsome and ambitious Stix (Derek Luke), Sparkle forms a trio with her sisters (Tika Sumpter and Carmen Ejogo). Together, they perform the soul-stirring songs that Sparkle pens. But as their fame grows as a Motown trio in the 1960s, so do the risks of jealousy, self-doubt and insidious temptation. Vitals: Director: Salim Akil. Stars: Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Omari Hardwick, CeeLo Green.
2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 120 min., Music Drama, Box office gross: $24.397, million, Sony.
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.