OnVideo APRIL Video Reviews
Based on the MTV animated series created by Peter Chung, Aeon Flux is set 400 years in the future, when disease has wiped out the majority of the earth's population except for one walled, protected city-state, Bregna, ruled by a congress of scientists. The story centers on Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron), the top operative in the underground 'Monican' rebellion -- led by The Handler (Frances McDormand). A highly trained soldier on the front lines of a war against the perfect society, Aeon is one of the few to suspect that this perfect life is hiding a perfect lie. When Aeon is sent on a mission to kill a government leader, she uncovers a world of secrets.
Director: Karyn Kusama. Stars: Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, Sophie Okonedo, Frances McDormand, Pete Postlethwaite. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 92 min.), Science Fiction, 2005, Box office gross: $25.857 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/25.
From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ang Lee comes an unusual American love story, based on the short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx and adapted for the screen by the team of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. Set against the sweeping vistas of Wyoming and Texas, the film tells the story of two young men -- a ranch-hand and a rodeo cowboy -- who meet in the summer of 1963, and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection, one whose complications, joys and tragedies provide a testament to the endurance and power of love. Early one morning in Signal, Wyoming, Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) meet while lining up for employment with local rancher Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid). The world which Ennis and Jack have been born into is at once changing rapidly and yet scarcely evolving. Both young men seem certain of their set places in the heartland -- obtaining steady work, marrying and raising a family -- and yet hunger for something beyond what they can articulate. When Aguirre dispatches them to work as sheepherders up on the majestic Brokeback Mountain, they gravitate towards camaraderie and then a deeper intimacy. At summer's end, the two must come down from Brokeback and part ways. Remaining in Wyoming, Ennis weds his sweetheart Alma (Michelle Williams), with whom he will have two daughters as he ekes out a living. Jack, in Texas, catches the eye of rodeo queen Lureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway). Their courtship and marriage result in a son, as well as jobs in her father's business. Four years pass. One day, Alma brings Ennis a postcard from Jack, who is en route to visit Wyoming. Ennis waits expectantly for his friend, and when Jack at last arrives, in just one moment it is clear that the passage of time has only strengthened the men's attachment. In the years that follow, Ennis and Jack struggle to keep their secret bond alive. They meet up several times annually. Even when they are apart, they face the eternal questions of fidelity, commitment and trust. Despite all the hoopla over the film, an ultimately boring exercise in unrequited love, with characters one never learns to care for.
Director: Ang Lee. Stars: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, Randy Quaid. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 135 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $80.983 million, (Universal), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/4.
Heath Ledger stars as the legendary lover Casanova. Renowned for his sharp intellect and devastating wit, Casanova was also a doctor of law, a soldier, a magician, a writer, a philosopher and a gifted athlete, among other things -- and it was said that no woman could resist him. Casanova meets his match, however, in the alluring Venetian beauty, Francesca (Sienna Miller). When she refuses him, Casanova launches a series of ruses to win her hand. But Casanova plays a dangerous game when Bishop Pucci (Jeremy Irons) arrives to arrest the sly Casanova and gain power for himself. Mix in Casanova's beautiful potential mother-in-law (Lena Olin) and the hilarious lard king Paprizzio (Oliver Platt), and the result is a rousing adventure.
Director: Lasse Hallstrom. Stars: Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Oliver Platt, Lena Olin. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 112 min.), Comedy drama, 2005, Box office gross: $11.239 million, (Buena Vista), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/25.
CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
Spectacular live-action/CGI motion picture adaptation of C.S. Lewis' beloved literary classic. Lewis' timeless adventure follows the exploits of the four Pevensie siblings -- Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter -- in World War II England who enter the parallel universe world of Narnia through a magical wardrobe while playing a game of 'hide-and-seek' in the rural country home of an elderly professor. Once there, the children discover a charming, peaceful land inhabited by talking beasts, dwarfs, fauns, centaurs and giants that has become a world cursed to eternal winter by the evil White Witch, Jadis. Under the guidance of a nobel and mystical ruler, the lion Aslan, the children fight to overcome the White Witch's powerful hold over Narnia in a spectacular, climactic battle that will free Narnia from Jadis' icy spell forever.
Director: Andrew Adamson. Stars: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Kiran Shah. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 140 min.), Fantasy, 2005, Box office gross: $277.867 million, (Buena Vista), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/4.
FUN WITH DICK AND JANE
Dick Harpers' (Jim Carrey) years of hard work finally pay off when he is promoted to vice president of Globodyne, a worldwide business leader. After exactly one day at his new job, Globodyne is destroyed, leaving him and his loving wife, Jane (Tea Leoni) without financial security. The sudden reversal of fortune has left them both unprepared to give up their comfortable lifestyle and Dick comes up with the brilliant idea of turning to robbery to pay the bills. Using newfound skills, Dick and Jane exact hilarious revenge while teaching big business a lesson. Remake of the 1977 film starring George Segal and Jane Fonda.
Director: Dean Parisot. Stars: Jim Carrey, Tea Leoni, Richard Jenkins, Angie Harmon. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 90 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $106.218 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/11.
GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED, THE
Based on the true story of golf champ Francis Ouimet. A young amateur player from a working class family, Francis -- played by Shia LaBeouf -- is caught between a world of hardship and a beckoning life of privilege. Francis needs to prove his unfailing will and ability to make it as a golfer, and he beats the odds and rises in the ranks of golf, finally facing off with his greatest idol and competitor, defending British champion Harry Vardon, in the 1913 U.S. Open. The 20-year-old Ouimet shocks the golf world when, flanked by his 10-year-old caddie, he defeats his idol in the unlikely match-up -- "the ingenue versus the seasoned champ." Theirs was the greatest match the sport had ever known.
Director: Bill Paxton. Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Stephen Dillane, Elias Koteas, Peyton List, Josh Flitter. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 121 min.), Family biodrama, 2005, Box office gross: $14.986 million, (Disney), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/11.
Two American college thrill-seekers (Jay Hernandez and Derek Richardson) find themselves victims of a murder-for-profit business while backpacking in Eastern Europe. Lured to a hostel in an out-of-the-way Slovakian town boasting a bevy of beauties, the two quickly pair off with exotic locals Natalya and Svetlana. After awakening from a hedonistic night of sin, they find themselves plunged into an unimaginable hell, trapped in a torturous netherworld as wide and deep as the darkest, sickest recess of human nature itself.
Director: Eli Roth. Stars: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson, Barbara Nedeljakova. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 94 min.), Horror, 2006, Box office gross: $45.802 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/18.
Chris (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a young tennis instructor, is being torn apart by his desire for two very different women. Marrying Chloe (Emily Mortimer) will bring him a life of wealth and success, but his true passion lies with his brother-in-law's fiancee, the stunningly sensuous but unpredictable Nola (Scarlett Johansson). A clandestine affair follows, leading him into an ever-deepening quagmire until the only way out for him is to contemplate doing away with one of the women. "Match Point" is a drama about ambition, the seduction of wealth, love, and sexual passion. Perhaps most importantly, however, the story reveals the huge part luck plays in events, refuting the comforting misconception that more of life is under our control than really is.
Director: Woody Allen. Stars: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Alexander Armstrong, Paul Kaye, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton, Emily Mortimer, Janis Kelly. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 124 min.), Mystery, 2005, Box office gross: $18.416 million, (DreamWorks), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/25.
MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS
Judi Dench plays Lauran Henderson, a woman who buys an old London theater during World War II's blitzkrieg to turn it into a performance hall that becomes famous for its all-nude reviews. Mrs. Henderson may be a widow but she is by no means going to spend the rest her days playing bridge. The Windmill Theater becomes her game and the infamous showman Vivian Van Dam (Bob Hoskins) becomes her partner. The Germans may be bombing London but the roar of the Windmill is all that can be heard as Laura convinces Lord Cromer (Christopher Guest) to allow her actresses to be the one thing no one could ever imagine: Nude.
Director: Stephen Frears. Stars: Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Will Young, Kelly Reilly, Thelma Barlow. Christopher Guest. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 103 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $8.472 million, (The Weinstein Co.), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/18.
A sweet but as yet unspectacular young woman named Mirabelle (Claire Danes) works at the gloves counter at the upscale Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Newly arrived to Los Angeles, Mirabelle is an artist struggling to keep up with even the minimum payment on her credit card and student loans. She lives an uneventful and lonely life until two men cross her path simultaneously. Young and fumbling Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) is a sweet-natured but down-on-his-luck young font-maker and band roadie who falls for Mirabelle. But Mirabelle is swept off her feet when rich, handsome Ray Porter (Steve Martin) meets her at her shop counter. Ray is older than Mirabelle, but shows her a seductive world of privilege that she can't resist. As Ray and Mirabelle's relationship deepens, both must decide what each really wants from the other. Based on Steve Martin's bestselling novella.
Director: Anand Tucker. Stars: Steve Martin, Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman, Bridgette Wilson, Sam Bottoms, Frances Conroy, Rebecca Pidgeon. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 106 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $10.215 million, (Buena Vista), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/25.
TRISTAN & ISOLDE
After the fall of Rome, the warlords of England are brutally kept in line by the forces of Irish King Donnchadh. One of these leaders, Lord Marke (Rufus Sewell) seeks to unite the English tribes to form one strong nation to rule itself. His greatest knight is Tristan (James Franco), whom Marke raised since he was orphaned in an Irish attack that also took Marke's family. With Tristan by his side, Marke believes he can unify his people and rid England of Irish rule. But Tristan harbors a terrible secret. Wounded and left for dead after battle, he is nursed back to health by Isolde (Sophia Myles), a mysterious Irish beauty who hides him from her father, King Donnchadh's, forces and brings him back to life. But their passionate affair is cut short when Tristan must return to England, not knowing if he will see Isolde again. Still seeking to throw the English tribes back into chaos, King Donnchadh gives away his daughter as the prize in a tournament between all the champions of England. Tristan wins the princess' hand for Lord Marke, whose vision of a united England may finally be realized. Tristan is horrified to see that the woman he has won for his Lord, the woman whom Marke will marry, is his Irish savior Isolde. Worse, Marke is a good and worthy future king, whose belief in Tristan has made the young knight who he is. First separated by countries at war, and now by loyalty to King and country, Tristan and Isolde must suppress their emotions for the sake of peace and the future of England. But the more they deny their passion, the more fiercely it burns. Despite their efforts to stay apart, Tristan and Isolde are driven inexorably together, risking everything for one last moment in each other's arms.
Director: Kevin Reynolds. Stars: James Franco, Sophia Myles, Rufus Sewell, David O'Hara, Henry Cavill, JB Blanc, Jamie King. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 125 min.), Drama, 2006, Box office gross: $14.629 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/25.
UNFINISHED LIFE, AN
Still in shock from his only son's death a decade ago, Einar (Robert Redford) has let his ranch fall into ruin along with his marriage. Now, Einar spends his days caring only for his hired handy man and last trusted friend, Mitch (Morgan Freeman). Einar intends to live out his days in solitude, until the person he blames for his son's accident arrives: his daughter-in-law Jean (Jennifer Lopez). Jean shows up broke, with a girl named Griff (Becca Gardner) who may be the granddaughter that Einar never knew. Suddenly Einar's life is turned upside down as anger and accusations resurface. But slowly, Griff's curiosity about Western life and longing for a family begin to chip away at Einar's heart.
Director: Lasse Hallstrom. Stars: Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Lopez, Josh Lucas, Camryn Manheim, Becca Gardner. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 108 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $8.535 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/11.
Liz and Kristy are twenty-something British backpackers in Broome, Western Australia, on a road trip with their Australian friend, Ben. Their journey begins full of energy, jokes, and a little urban myth-swapping about UFO sightings. After reaching the 'Wolf Creek' National Park, the trio spends the day at a meteor impact site that is the attraction of many road-tripping tourists. Ready to leave at dusk, they find their watches stopped, a peculiarity compounded by the fact that their car is not working either. Enter Mick, an affable brute of a man equipped with a warm grin, infectious laugh, and the means to tow their broken down vehicle back to his camp, where he promises to get it up and running. Back at his compound, Mick paints a bloody, vague portrait of his life as Liz, Kristy, and Ben settle in around a fire. Once a former vermin shooter, his position was considered archaic by his superiors and he now lives in solitude surrounded by the husks of corroding vehicles and mining equipment. With the hour growing late, Mick continues his work on the car as Liz, Kristy, and Ben doze off, unaware that the morning will give rise to a feral struggle for survival: The charming Mick Taylor persona they placed their confidence in is merely an unassuming shell for an unrelenting killer within.
Director: Greg McLean. Stars: Peter Alchin, John Jarratt, Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath, Andy McPhee, Kestie Morassi. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 99 min.), Horror, 2005, Box office gross: $16.044 million, (Weinstein Co.), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 4/11.
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.
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March 31, 2006