Set up, double-crossed and left for dead, Machete (Danny Trejo) is an ass-kicking ex-Federale who lays waste to anything that gets in his path. As he takes on hit men, vigilantes and a ruthless drug cartel, bullets fly, blades clash and the body count rises. Based on the fake trailer in Robert Rodriguez's 2007 "Grindhouse," featuring Danny Trejo and Jeff Fahey reprising their original roles. Machete is a renegade former Mexican Federale, roaming the streets of Texas after a shakedown from drug lord Torrez (Steven Seagal). Reluctantly, Machete takes an offer from spin doctor Benz (Fahey) to assassinate McLaughlin (Robert De Niro), a corrupt Senator. Double crossed and on the run, Machete braves the odds with the help of Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), a saucy taco slinger, Padre (Cheech Marin), his holy brother, and April (Lindsay Lohan), a socialite with a penchant for guns. All while being tracked by Sartana (Jessica Alba), a sexy ICE agent with a special interest in the blade slinger.
Vitals: Director: Robert Rodriguez. Stars: Danny Trejo, Jeff Fahey, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Seagal, Cheech Marin, Michelle Rodriguez.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min., Action, Box office gross: $25.090 million, Fox.
Dinner for Schmucks
Tim is a guy on the verge of having it all. The only thing standing between him and total career success is finding the perfect guest to bring to his boss' annual Dinner for Extraordinary People, an event where the winner of the evening brings the most eccentric character (read: buffoon) as his guest. Tim's fiancee, Julie, finds it distasteful and Tim agrees to skip the dinner, until he bumps into Barry -- an IRS employee who devotes his spare time to building elaborate taxidermy mouse dioramas -- and quickly realizes he's struck idiot gold. Tim can't resist, and invites Barry, whose blundering good intentions soon sends Tim's life into a frenzied downward spiral and a series of comic misadventures, threatening a major business deal, bringing crazy stalker ex-girlfriend, Darla, back into Tim's life and driving Julie (or so Tim thinks) into the arms of another man. Vitals: Director: Jay Roach. Stars: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Stephanie Szostak, Bruce Greenwood, Ron Livingston, Zach Galifianakis, Jemaine Clement, Jeff Dunham, David Walliams, Lucy Punch, Chris O'Dowd, Patrick Fischler.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 114 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $65.8 million, Paramount.
The Last Exorcism
When he arrives on the rural Louisiana farm of Louis Sweetzer, the Reverend Cotton Marcus expects to perform just another routine "exorcism" on a disturbed religious fanatic. An earnest fundamentalist, Sweetzer has contacted the charismatic preacher as a last resort, certain his teenage daughter Nell is possessed by a demon who must be exorcised before their terrifying ordeal ends in unimaginable tragedy. Buckling under the weight of his conscience after years of parting desperate believers with their money, Cotton and his crew plan to film a confessionary documentary of this, his last exorcism. But upon arriving at the already blood drenched family farm, it is soon clear that nothing could have prepared him for the true evil he encounters there. Now, too late to turn back, Reverend Marcus' own beliefs are shaken to the core when he and his crew must find a way to save Nell -- and themselves -- before it is too late.
Vitals: Director: Daniel Stamm. Stars: Patrick Fabian, Iris Bahr, Ashley Bell, Louis Herthum, Jamie Alyson Caudle, Shanna Forrestall, Allen Bourdreaux, Tony Bentley, Caleb Landry Jones.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 87 min., Horror, Box office gross: $40.1 million, Lionsgate.
Devoted family services specialist Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger)has seen it all -- lies, neglect, abuse -- domestic horrors of every type. That is, until she takes on Case 39: the case of 10-year-old Lillith Sullivan, whose eerie, secretive family leaves Emily shaken and disturbed. When Lillith's parents attempt to harm their only child in a late-night ritual, Emily intervenes. Heartbroken by Lillith's loneliness and innocence, Emily decides to do something she has never allowed herself to do in the past: get personally involved. Hoping to do the right thing for the withdrawn girl, Emily offers Lillith a caring, happy home until she can find an adoptive family. That's when the real terror begins. Shot in 2006, this dud sat on the shelf for more than three years before Paramount released it this fall.
Vitals: Director: Christian Alvart. Stars: Renee Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper, Callum Keith Rennie, Adrian Lester, Kerry O'Malley.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 109 min., Horror, Box office gross: $13.248 million, Paramount.
Is-it-or-is-it-not-documentary about the world of online social relationship. Nev, a 24-year-old New York-based photographer, has no idea what he's in for when Abby, an 8-year-old girl from rural Michigan, contacts him on MySpace in 2007, seeking permission to paint one of his photographs. When he receives her remarkable painting, Nev begins a friendship and correspondence with Abby's family. But things really get interesting when he develops a cyber-romance with Abby's attractive older sister, Megan, a musician and model. Prompted by some startling revelations about Megan, Nev and filmmakers Ariel Schulman (Nev's brother) and Henry Joost embark on a road trip in search of the truth.
Vitals: Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman. Stars: Megan Faccio, Melody C. Roscher, Ariel Schulman, Yaniv Schulman.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 94 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $3.151 million, Universal.
James Franco stars as Allen Ginsberg in the story of how the young poet's seminal work broke down societal barriers in the face of an infamous public obscenity trial. In his famously confessional style, Ginsberg -- poet, counter-culture icon, and chronicler of the Beat Generation -- recounts the road trips, love affairs and search for personal liberation that led to "Howl," the most timeless work of his career. The film interweaves three stories: the unfolding of the landmark 1957 obscenity trial; an imaginative animated ride through the prophetic masterpiece; and a unique portrait of a man who found new ways to express himself and, in doing so, changed his own life and galvanized a generation.
Vitals: Director: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Stars: James Franco, Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels, David Strathairn, Alessandro Nivola, Treat Williams, Bob Balaban.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 84 min., BioDrama, Box office gross: $.540 million, Oscilloscope Laboratories.
The Social Network
On a fall night in 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg sits down at his computer and heatedly begins working on a new idea. In a fury of blogging and programming, what begins in his dorm room soon becomes a global social network and a revolution in communication. A mere six years and 500 million friends later, Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history ... but for this entrepreneur, success leads to both personal and legal complications. David Fincher's loose interpretation of this story explores the moment at which Facebook, the most revolutionary social phenomena of the new century, was invented -- through the warring perspectives of the super-smart young men who each claimed to be there at its inception. The result is a drama rife with both creation and destruction; one that audaciously avoids a singular POV, but instead, by tracking dueling narratives, mirrors the clashing truths and constantly morphing social relationships that define our time. Drawn from multiple sources, the film captures the visceral thrill of the heady early days of a culture-changing phenomenon in the making -- and the way it both pulled a group of young revolutionaries together and then split them apart.
Vitals: Director: David Fincher. Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Joseph Mazzello, Rooney Mara, Liam Ferguson, Brenda Song, Rashida Jones, Max Minghella, Armie Hammer, Douglas Urbanski.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 120 min., Drama, Box office gross: $91.0 million, Sony.
Every year the population of sleepy Lake Victoria explodes from 5,000 to 50,000 for Spring Break; a riot of sun and drunken fun. But this year, there's something more to worry about than hangovers and complaints from local old timers; A new type of terror is about to be cut loose on Lake Victoria. After a sudden underwater tremor sets free scores of the prehistoric man-eating fish, an unlikely group of strangers must band together to stop themselves from becoming fish food for the area's new razor-toothed residents.
Vitals: Director: Alexandre Aja. Stars: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O'Connell, Ving Rhames, Steven R. McQueen, Jessica Szohr, Kelly Brock with cameos by Eli Roth, Richard Dreyfuss and Christopher Lloyd. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 89 min., Horror, Box office gross: $24.736 million, Sony.
Alpha and Omega
What makes for the ultimate road trip? Hitchhiking, truck stops, angry bears, prickly porcupines and a golfing goose with a duck caddy. Just ask Kate and Humphrey, two wolves who are trying to get home after being taken by park rangers and shipped halfway across the country. Humphrey is an Omega wolf, whose days are about quick wit, snappy one-liners and hanging with his motley crew of fun-loving wolves and video-gaming squirrels. Kate is an Alpha: duty, discipline and sleek Lara Croft eye-popping moves fuel her fire. Humphrey's motto -- make 'em laugh. Kate's motto -- I'm the boss. And they have a thousand miles to go. Back home rival wolf packs are on the march and conflict is brewing. Only Kate and Humphrey can restore the peace. But first, they have to survive each other.
Vitals: Director: Anthony Bell and Ben Gluck. Stars: Voices of Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci, Danny Glover, Dennis Hopper, Larry Miller, Vicki Lewis, Kevin Sussman, Eric Price, Chris Carmack, Brian Donovan.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 78 min., Animated Fanily Adventure, Box office gross: $23.5 million, Lionsgate.
A notorious group of criminals (Elba, Walker, Harris, Brown, Christensen and Ealy) continue to baffle police by pulling off perfectly executed bank robberies. They are in and out like clockwork, leaving no evidence behind and laying low in between heists. But when they attempt to pull off one last job with more money at stake than ever before, the crew finds their plans interrupted by a hardened detective (Dillon) who is hell-bent on solving the case.
Vitals: Director: John Luessenhop. Stars: Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Chris Brown, Michael Ealy, Tip "T.I." Harris, Hayden Christensen, Jay Hernandez.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $57.744 million, Sony.
Paul Conroy is not ready to die. But when he wakes up 6 feet underground with no idea of who put him there or why, life for the truck driver and family man instantly becomes a hellish struggle for survival. Buried with only a cell phone and a lighter, his contact with the outside world and ability to piece together clues that could help him discover his location are maddeningly limited. Poor reception, a rapidly draining battery, and a dwindling oxygen supply become his worst enemies in a tightly confined race against time -- fighting panic, despair and delirium, Paul has only 90 minutes to be rescued before his worst nightmare comes true.
Vitals: Director: Rodrigo Cortes. Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Samantha Mathis, Robert Paterson, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jose Luis Garcia Perez, Erik Palladino, Ivana Mino.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $1.028 million, Lionsgate.
Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro), a parole officer days away from retirement, is asked to review the case of Gerald "Stone" Creeson (Edward Norton), who's in prison for arson. Now eligible for early release, Stone needs to convince Jack he has reformed, but his attempts to use his wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) to influence the older man's decision have profound and unexpected effects on them both. This tale of passion, betrayal and corruption skillfully weaves together the parallel journeys of two men grappling with dark impulses, as the line between lawman and lawbreaker becomes precariously thin.
Vitals: Director: John Curran. Stars: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Milla Jovovich.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.7 million, Anchor Bay Entertainment.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
The third film to be adapted from Stieg Larsson's acclaimed series of crime novels (which has sold over 11 million books in the U.S., 45 millions books worldwide), "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" is the final chapter in the story of Larsson's fiery heroine Lisbeth Salander, a pierced and punked-out, computer-hacking beauty. Swedish author Larsson's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest" -- his Millennium Trilogy -- were all published after his death in 2004. Their popularity has since made him the world's second best-selling author of 2008 and 2009. In this last installment, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She's fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she'll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge -- against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life. In Swedish with English subtitles.
Vitals: Director: Daniel Alfredson. Stars: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Annika Hallin, Jacob Ericksson, Sofia Ledarp, Anders Ahlbom. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 148 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $1.0 million, Music Box Films.
In 1955, future international rock sensation John Lennon was a mischievous teenage boy living with his Aunt Mimi in Liverpool, England and trying to reconnect with his free-spirited mother Julia. The tensions of his early life would drive young John to escape from the world around him through music, and catapult him to join Paul McCartney in the formation of one of the most influential rock 'n' roll bands of all time. Lennon is an ordinary 15-year-old boy on the streets of Liverpool. Funny, smart, naughty, a real edge to him. But life is not simple for John -- he grew up in a family of secrets and was raised by his Aunt Mimi from the age of five. When he is suddenly reacquainted with his mother, Julia, they form an unbreakable bond. A bitter war rages between the two sisters for John's love. Faced with bringing it to an end, he learns the secret heartbreak of his past. But his mother gives him one great gift -- music. A wayward boy finds his voice, and walks into The Beatles.
Vitals: Director: Sam Taylor Wood. Stars: Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Anne Marie Duff, Thomas Brodie Sangster.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 98 min., Biodrama, Box office gross: $1.394 million, The Weinstein Co.
Based on the story of Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown-winning racehorse and its owner, Penny Chenery (Diane Lane). Chenery was a mother and housewife who knew little about horses when she was pressed to take over her ailing father's horse farm in Virginia. Though Secretariat came along and began to take shape as a potential champion, Chenery was pressured to sell the farm after her father died and she was hit with a multimillion-dollar inheritance tax. She saved both the farm and the horse, and watched as Secretariat became the first thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown in 25 years, taking the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in dominating fashion. Chenery became known as the "first lady of racing."
Vitals: Director: Randall Wallace. Stars: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Dylan Walsh, James Cromwell, Kevin Connolly, Nelsan Ellis, Margo Martindale, Fred Thompson, AJ Michalka.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 116 min., Family biodrama, Box office gross: $57.946 million, Disney.
Frank (Bruce Willis), Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) used to be the CIA's top agents -- but the secrets they know just made them the Agency's top targets. Framed and targeted for assassination, they must use all of their collective cunning, experience and teamwork to stay one step ahead of their deadly pursuers and stay alive. To stop the operation, the team embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in government history. Based on the DC Comics graphic novel.
Vitals: Director: Robert Schwentke. Stars: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Pidgeon.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 111 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $88.430 million, Summit Entertainment.
Saw 3D: The Final Chapter
A deadly battle rages over Jigsaw's brutal legacy, and a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror.
Vitals: Director: Kevin Greutert. Stars: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Cary Elwes, Sean Patrick Flanery.
2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 91 min., Horror, Box office gross: $45.261 million, Lionsgate.
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.