A secret from our nation's past is at the core
of this exciting action-adventure. Nicolas Cage stars as Benjamin Franklin
Gates, a third generation treasure hunter. All his life, Gates has been
searching for a treasure no one believed existed: amassed through the ages,
moved across continents, to become the greatest treasure the world has ever
known. Hidden by our Founding Fathers, they left clues to the Treasure's
location right before our eyes -- from our nation's birthplace to the nation's
capitol, to clues buried within the symbols on the dollar bill. Gates' life-long
journey leads him to the last place anyone thought to look: a map hidden on the
back of the Declaration of Independence. But what he thought was the final clue
is only the beginning. As word of the invisible map spreads among the enemies of
freedom, Gates realizes that in order to protect the world's greatest treasure,
he must now do the unthinkable: steal the most revered, best guarded document in
American history before it falls into the wrong hands. In a race against time,
Gates teams up with a beautiful government official (Diane Kruger) as he tries
to elude his ruthless adversary (Sean Bean) as well as the FBI and Agent Sadusky
(Harvey Keitel). With even his ex-treasurehunter father (Jon Voight) skeptical
of him, Gates must decipher the remaining clues and unlock the 2000 year-old
mystery behind our greatest national treasure.
Director: Jon Turteltaub. Stars: Nicolas Cage, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, Diane
Kruger, Sean Bean, Justin Bartha, Christopher Plummer. 2004, CC, MPAA
rating: PG, 131 min., Adventure, Box office gross: $166.525 million, Disney,
$29.99 VHS SRP.
The year's runaway smash hit in France, "The
Chorus (Les Choristes)" is an emotional, music-filled tale about how a very
humble man's simple dreams changed the future for a forgotten group of children.
Shot inside a castle in the French countryside that lends a rich fairy-tale
atmosphere, the film marks the debut of writer, director and composer Christophe
Barratier. 1949, post-War France -- In a dark, doom-filled school for troubled
boys where hope itself is in short supply, a mild-mannered new teacher has just
arrived, only to find himself surrounded by prepubescent thieves, inveterate
liars, unapologetic rebels and lost souls beyond reach. Or are they? When
Clement Mathieu (Gerard Jugnot) introduces these supposedly hard-core
delinquents to something they've never experienced before -- the freedom and joy
of music when he forms a choir -- he discovers there is far more to these
children than anyone dared to believe.
Director: Christophe Barratier. Stars: Gerard Jugnot, Francois Berleeand, Kad
Merad, Jean-Paul Bonnaire, Marie Bunel. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 96
min., Drama, Box office gross: $3.126 million, Miramax.
Three all too familiar elements from life in
today's mercurial world are at the center of drama: A sudden, life-changing
catastrophe, a loving relationship in crisis, and the threat of obsession. Joe
Rose (Daniel Craig) experiences all three of these, sparked by one
extraordinary, fateful moment -- and is dropped into the vortex of a powerful
question: What becomes of love and logic in the wake of a tragedy? Joe has
planned an intimate picnic in the English countryside with his girlfriend Claire
(Samantha Morton). The afternoon is meant to be special; he has brought wine and
a ring -- he is about to propose. The afternoon is suddenly interrupted when a
hot-air balloon plunges from the sky -- a young boy trapped within its basket.
Joe and three other men instinctually run to the rescue. Yet in their attempt to
save the child and pull the sky-bound balloon to the ground, one of the men
meets a spectacular and totally unpredictable death. Determined to understand
what happened to cause this tragedy, Joe returns to his life as a rational,
scientific-minded professor. Yet he cannot escape constant thoughts of the
balloon incident. Unexpectedly, he receives a call from one of the other
rescuers, Jed Parry (Rhys Ifans), who expresses an urgent need to meet with him.
An intense and brooding soul, Jed insists that he and Joe have shared a powerful
moment together and that, as he puts it, "something has passed between them."
Joe is perplexed by the suggestion and he simply dismisses it as the ramblings
of a man trying to cope with the emotional stress of what happened. Yet Jed will
not be dismissed. Instead, he insinuates himself deeper and deeper into Joe's
life, bit by bit, showing up at odd moments and then shadowing him with a
persistent desperation Joe can't understand or escape. Soon, the neatly ordered
life that Joe has so carefully created for himself begins to rupture at the
Director: Roger Michell. Stars: Daniel Craig, Samantha Morton, Rhys Ifans,
Alexandra Aitken, Susan Lynch, Bill. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min.,
Drama, Box office gross: $0.358 million, Paramount.
Phantom of the Opera, The
Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of
the Opera" finally makes its way to the big screen -- but too many years after
the stage production to make much of an impact with American audiences.
"Phantom" tells the story of a disfigured musical genius (Gerard Butler) who
haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, waging a reign of terror over its
occupants. When he falls fatally in love with the lovely Christine (Emmy
Rossum), the Phantom devotes himself to creating a new star for the Opera,
exerting a strange sense of control over the young soprano as he nurtures her
extraordinary talents. But she has another admirer, her childhood sweetheart
Raoul, the dashing young Vicompte de Chagny. The Phantom's fury at her betrayal
becomes murderous. He hatches a plot to win her back and in a dramatic and tense
climax Christine is forced to choose between Raoul and the Phantom -- her Angel
Director: Joel Schumacher. Stars: Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson,
Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Ciarcan Hinds, Simon Callow. 2004, CC,
MPAA rating: PG-13, 141 min., Musical drama, Box office gross: $49.963 million,
Warner, $22.95 VHS SRP.
Actor/activist Woody Harrelson and his band of "Merry
Hempsters" embark on a 1,300 mile goofy road trip to promote "Simple Organic
Living," and pop and counter-culture documentarian Ron Mann ("Grass," "Comic
Book Confidential") chronicles every leg of the journey, from college campus
appearances and encounters with curious onlookers, to a visit with 1960s icon
Ken Kesey. With his fellow travelers, including one confessed junk food addict,
Harrelson is determined to change hearts and minds, one hemp burger and sweet
avocado chocolate mousse pie at a time. Featuring the music of Natalie Merchant,
Bob Weir, Anthony Kiedis and Dave Matthews.
Director: Ron Mann. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 90 min., Documentary, Home
The Life Aquatic With Steve
In his fourth and most
ambitious film to date, director Wes Anderson sets out on a high-seas adventure
comedy, spinning the tale of a washed-up oceanographer (Bill Murray) in search
of love, revenge and a drop of redemption in his ultimate aquatic quest. Plying
the waters as only Anderson could, "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" embarks
on a journey into a realm of pirates, islands and deadly jaguar sharks -- and
into a maelstrom of human yearning set adrift. Zissou is a legendary underwater
explorer, notorious blow-hard, and a man known around the globe for his
documentaries about the teeming life beneath the deep blue sea. These days,
however, life on land isn't going so smoothly for him. His best friend and
long-time partner, Esteban, was recently consumed by a ravenous jaguar shark.
Rumors are starting to spread that he's lost his touch. And now, out of the
blue, comes a genuine Southern gentleman and Air Kentucky co-pilot named Ned
Plimpton (Owen Wilson) who claims he might, or might not, be the long-lost son
Steve never got to know. Imperious, egotistical and endearingly off-course,
Zissou is now ready to make his most epic film to date -- the one in which he
will wage vengeance on the jaguar shark, become the father he never thought he
could be, and regain some fleeting sense of his own nobility. Setting sail on
his boat, The Belafonte, Zissou assembles a crew that also includes: Jane
Winslett-Richardson (Cate Blanchett), a mysteriously pregnant journalist
covering the story of the expedition; Eleanor Zissou (Anjelica Huston), Zissou's
brilliant wife and vice president of The Zissou Society; adoring German
engineer, Klaus Daimler (Willem Dafoe); Zissou's arch nemesis and rival
oceanographer, Alistair Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum); Zissou's septuagenarian
producer, Oseary Drakoulias (Michael Gambon); physicist and original score
composer, Vladimir Wolodarsky (Noah Taylor); the bond company stooge, Bill Ubell
(Bud Cort); and Pele dos Santos (Seu Jorge), the Brazilian safety expert who
regularly serenades the team with haunting Portuguese renditions of David Bowie
songs. Weird and wonderful.
Director: Wes Anderson. Stars: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett,
Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Noah Taylor, Bud
Cort, Seu Jorge. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 118 min., Comedy, Box office
gross: $23.965 million, Buena Vista, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
In Good Company
Filmmaker and Academy Award-nominated
screenwriter Paul Weitz ("About a Boy") turns his complex sense of humor on
synergy: an insightful comedy about the relationship between a 50-year-old
businessman and his new, 26-year-old boss. Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) is headed
for a shakeup. He's demoted from head of ad sales for a major magazine when the
company he works for is acquired in a corporate takeover. His new boss, Tom
(Topher Grace) is half his age -- a business school prodigy who preaches
corporate synergy. While Dan develops clients through handshake deals and
relationships, Tom cross-promotes the magazine with the cell phone division and
"Krispity Krunch," an indeterminate snack food under the same corporate
umbrella. Both men are going through turmoil at home. Dan has two daughters --
Alex, age 18, and Jana, age 16 -- and is shocked when his wife tells him she's
pregnant with a new child. Between college tuition, the mortgage and a new baby,
Dan can't afford to lose his job in the wave of corporate layoffs. Tom, in the
meanwhile, is dumped by his wife of seven months just as he gets his promotion.
Dan and Tom form an uneasy friendship, but that friendship is thrown into
jeopardy when Tom falls for, and begins an affair with, Alex (Scarlett
Johansson). Weitz's examination of life's surprises, ironies and coincidences
makes this a thoroughly enjoyable comedy -- with a life lesson thrown in with
Director: Paul Weitz. Stars: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson,
Marg Helgenberger, David Paymer, Philip Baker Hall, Selma Blair, Frankie Faison.
2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 109 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $45.489
million, Universal, $29.98 VHS SRP.
Alone in the Dark
Edward Carnby (Christian Slater), detective of
the paranormal, unexplained and supernatural, investigates a mystery that brings
him face to face with bizarre horrors that prove both psychologically disturbing
and lethal, as he discovers that evil demons worshiped by an ancient culture
called the Abskani are planning on coming back to life in the 21st century to
once again take over the world ... and only he and a young genius with an
incredible memory (and his ex-girlfriend), Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), stand in
Director: Uwe Boll. Stars: Christian Slater, Tara Reid, Stephen Dorff , Frank
C. Turner, Mathew Walker. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 96 min., Horror
thriller, Box office gross: $5.132 million, Lions Gate, No VHS SRP, Priced for
Assault on Precinct 13
Remake and update of the 1976 action
thriller of the same name. With only a few hours left in the calendar year,
Precinct 13, one of Detroit's oldest precinct houses, is closing. Amid heavy
snowfall and unsafe road conditions, only a few lawmen remain on duty for New
Year's Eve. They're headed by Sergeant Jake Roenick (Ethan Hawke); he and
Precinct 13 have both seen better days. Early on December 31st, deep in the
city, formidable crime lord Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne) captured by the
Organized Crime and Racketeering squad that Marcus Duvall (Gabriel Byrne) runs.
Bishop is handcuffed and herded onto a prison bus with several criminals: junkie
Beck (John Leguizamo), hustler Smiley (Jeffrey "Ja Rule" Atkins), and gang
member Anna (Aisha Hinds). But the battering snowstorm stops the bus short of
its high-security destination and strands it at the remote Precinct 13 -- where,
as night falls, the prisoners are temporarily incarcerated. This influx of
prisoners irks Roenick, but Precinct 13's provocative secretary Iris Ferry (Drea
de Matteo) and salty veteran cop Jasper "Old School" O'Shea (Brian Dennehy)
won't let the increasing workload deter them from celebrating ... until two
masked gunmen break in. The gunmen are just barely beaten back, and everyone
inside Precinct 13 realizes that more will come -- to extract crime lord Bishop,
but also armed and ready to shoot anyone and everyone else. Facing an all-out
assault, the cops and the cons must join forces to live.
Director: Jean-Francois Richet. Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Ethan Hawke, Ja Rule,
Maria Bello, Peter Bryant, Gabriel Byrne, Drea de Matteo, Brian Dennehy.
2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 109 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $19.976
million, Universal, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Two teenage girls, Yeo-jin (Ji-min Kwak) and Jae-Young (Min-jeong Seo), desperate to fulfill their dreams of traveling to Europe, set out to raise money by starting a prostitution business. Yeo-jin handles the business side, while
Jae-Young satisfies the clients. When things go terribly wrong during a police raid, Jae-Young is killed. Yeo-jin, wrought with guilt over her loss, begins sleeping with their clients in a misguided act of penance. Things go from bad to worse when Yeo-jin's father, a
police detective, stumbles upon her secret and launches a vengeful crusade against her lovers. At a difficult crossroads, father and daughter must embark on a desperate journey in the hope of attaining absolution and redemption.
Director: Ki-duk Kim. Stars: Ji-min Kwak, Min-jeong Seo, Eol Lee, Kwon Hyun-Min.
2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 97 min., Drama, Tartan Video. DVD only.
In the middle of a raging thunderstorm, a
traveling circus accidentally leaves behind some very precious cargo -- a baby
zebra (voiced by Frankie Muniz). The gangly little foal is rescued by horse
farmer Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood), who takes him home to his young daughter
Channing (Hayden Panettiere). Once a champion thoroughbred trainer, Walsh has
given up horse training for a quiet life with Channing on their modest Kentucky
farm. The little zebra, or "Stripes," as Channing calls him, is soon introduced
to the farm's misfit troupe of barnyard residents. The Walsh farm borders the
Dalrymple Estate, where highly skilled thoroughbreds train to compete for horse
racing's top honor, the ultra-prestigious Kentucky Open. From the first moment
Stripes lays eyes on the track, he's hooked -- he knows that if he could just
get the chance, he could leave all those other horses in the dust. What he
doesn't know is ... he's not exactly a horse. Channing has a similar ambition --
she longs to train as a jockey, but her protective father refuses to let her
compete in the potentially dangerous sport. But her father can't ignore her
enthusiasm (or her stubbornness) for long, and she convinces him to come out of
retirement to train her and Stripes for the Kentucky Open. As he thrusts himself
into a world of elite athletes, intense competition and enormous stakes, Stripes
must prove he's fast enough and tough enough to run with the big horses if he
wants to land in the winner's circle.
Director: Frederik Du Chau. Stars: Bruce Greenwood, Hayden Panettiere, Caspar
Poyck, Gary Bullock, Wendie Malick, M. Emmet Walsh. 2005, CC, MPAA rating:
PG, 84 min., Family, Box office gross: $47.850 million, Warner, $19.96 VHS SRP.
William Shakespeare's The Merchant of
Set in the lavish
era of 16th century Venice, one of English literature's most powerful -- and
controversial -- plays comes to opulent life in Michael Radford's gripping film
adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," which follows the
interlocking lives of a captivating assortment of classic Shakespearean
characters bound by love, stung by betrayal and tragically set on a collision
course with destiny. Antonio (Jeremy Irons), a successful but cash-poor
merchant, approaches Shylock (Al Pacino), a wealthy moneylender, for a loan to
help his young friend Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) woo the fair Portia. Despite
being longtime enemies, Shylock grants the request, but demands one pound of
Antonio's flesh if the debt is not repaid on time. When Antonio defaults on the
loan, Shylock seeks what is legally owed to him but soon learns that those to
whom evil is done, do evil in return.
Director: Michael Radford. Stars: Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, Lynn
Collins, Zuleika Robinson. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 131 min., Drama, Box
office gross: $1.932 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Last Shot, The
Hollywood meets the mob. Based on a true story about an FBI agent who cooks up an elaborate scheme to take down a mob gang with criminal ties to Hollywood. Assuming the role of Hollywood producer, Agent Joe Devine
(Alec Baldwin) enlists unsuspecting, wannabe director Steven Schatz (Matthew Broderick) in a sham movie project. Everything goes according to plan, until the suits at the Bureau start enjoying their lives as Hollywood players a little too much.
Director: Jeff Nathanson. Stars: Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Toni Collette, Calista Flockhart, Ray Liotta, Tim Blake Nelson, James Rebhorn, Tony Shalhoub. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 93 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $0.463 million, Buena Vista.
Peaches (Mo'Nique), a hair stylist from Baltimore, and her estranged sister, Angela (Kellita Smith), the owner of an upscale salon in Beverly Hills, get reacquainted when Peaches decides to attend a celebration for Angela in L.A. The
reunion is bittersweet and worsens when Angela finds out that Peaches is on the run from the IRS and has only a few days to pay $50,000 in back taxes. The two sisters join forces to fight off a pesky rival salon owner, Marcella (Gina Torres), and save Peaches from her
troubles by competing for a lucrative cash prize and bragging rights at the city's annual hair show.
Director: Leslie Small. Stars: Mo'Nique, Kellita Smith, Gina Torres, David Ramsey, Taraji P. Henson, Keiko Agena, Cee Cee Michaela. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 108 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $0.302 million, New Line. DVD only.
One of the most important films of this year -- or any year; all the more important because of the current "decency" witch hunt going on in this country. Well-paced, well-acted, well-directed -- a totally absorbing bio drama and peek
back at American history and culture. Academy Award-winner Bill Condon ("Gods and Monsters," "Chicago") explores the life of the pioneer of human sexuality research, Alfred Kinsey. Spanning six decades from his childhood in the early 1900s to his death in 1956,
the film turns the microscope on the man whose landmark studies on the sexual behaviors of the common man rocked a nation. The interviewer of tens of thousands, Kinsey subjected his own life and that of his researchers to the same type of analysis. But while the
Kinsey team's focus was predominantly outward, perhaps what they learned about themselves was as great as that which they taught their country.
Liam Neeson stars as Kinsey, who in 1948 irrevocably changed American culture with his book "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male." Interviewing thousands of people about the most intimate aspects of their lives, Kinsey lifted the weight
of secrecy and shame from a society in which sexual practices were mostly hidden. His work sparked one of the most intense cultural debates of the past century -- a debate that rages on today. Using the technique of his own famous sex interviews, the film recounts the
scientist's extraordinary journey from obscurity to global fame.
Alfred Kinsey grows up the son of an engineering teacher and occasional Sunday school preacher (John Lithgow). Rebelling against the rigid piety of his home life, and drawn to the world of the senses, Kinsey becomes a Harvard-educated
zoologist specializing in the study of gall wasps. After being hired to teach biology at Indiana University, Kinsey meets and marries a witty, free-thinking female student, Clara McMillen (Laura Linney). In the course of his teaching he discovers an astonishing dearth of
scientific data on sexual behavior. When students seek him out for advice about sexual concerns and problems, he realizes that no one has done the clinical research that would yield reliable answers to their questions. Inspired to explore the emotionally charged subject of
sex from a strictly scientific point of view, Kinsey recruits a team of researchers and, over time, they refine an interviewing technique which helps people to break through shame, fear, and guilt and speak freely about their sexual histories. Kinsey also attempts to create
an open sexual environment among the team and their wives, encouraging them to "swing" -- years before the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
When Kinsey publishes his male study in 1948, the press compares the impact to that of the atom bomb. Soon Kinsey graces the cover of every major publication; he becomes the subject of songs and cartoons, editorials and sermons. But
as the country enters the more paranoid Cold War era of the 1950s, Kinsey's follow-up study on women is seen as an attack on basic American values. The ensuing outrage and scorn causes Kinsey's benefactors to abandon him, just as his health begins to deteriorate. At
the same time, the jealousies and acrimony caused by Kinsey's attempt to create a private sexual utopia threaten to tear apart the research team and expose them to unwelcome scrutiny.
Director: Bill Condon. Stars: Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, Oliver Platt, Dylan Baker, Julianne Nicholson, William Sadler, John McMartin, Veronica Cartwright. 2004, CC, MPAA
rating: R, 118 min., Biodrama, Box office gross: $9.701 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Sea Inside, The
The real-life story of Spaniard Ramon Sampedro, who fought a 30 year campaign in favor of euthanasia and his own right to die. Based on the profoundly moving true story that captured the world's attention, the film is about
Sampedro (Javier Bardem), a former ship's mechanic who has been paralyzed in bed for 30 years, tenderly cared for on a farm by four members of his family. The story revolves around Ramon's relationships with two women: Julia (Belen Rueda) a lawyer who
supports his cause, and Rosa (Lola Duenas), a local woman who wants to convince him that life is worth living. Through the gift of his love, these two women are inspired to accomplish things they never previously thought possible. Despite his wish to die, Ramon
taught everyone he encountered the meaning, value and preciousness of life. Though he could not move himself, he had an uncanny ability to move others. A truly joyous experience, "The Sea Inside" celebrates the nature of freedom and love, and the mystery and beauty
Director: Alejandro Amenabar. Stars: Javier Bardem, Belen Rueda, Lola Duenas, Mabel Rivera, Celso Bugallo, Clara Segura, Joan Dalmau. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 125 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.967 million, New Line, No VHS SRP, Priced
Electronic Voice Phenomenon -- EVP -- is the process
by which the dead, through sound and image, communicate with the living through
the static and white noise of modern electronic devices. By modest estimates,
there are nearly 7 billion audio and video recording devices in homes around the
world -- and every one of them is a portal. For two decades now, a quiet
worldwide movement has gained momentum among the growing number of people who
believe in EVP and who themselves have captured extraordinary recordings of
communications from the dead. These transmissions, recorded with simple
household electronic devices, force us to question our basic notions about life
and death and seem to confirm what many of us have dared to believe: It is
possible for the dead to communicate with us. Until the sudden and mysterious
death of his beloved wife, architect Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) considered
himself a decent, rational man, one who would not ordinarily subscribe to any
theories about communicating with the dead. But now, a stranger, Raymond Price
(Ian McNeice), has entered his life, claiming to have heard Jonathan's wife,
Anna (Chandra West), through EVP. Fueled by his grief as much as curiosity,
Jonathan soon finds himself swayed by Raymond's claims, validated by the
recordings of Anna as well as the testimonial of Sarah Tate (Deborah Kara
Unger), who herself has found closure with her deceased fiancee through EVP.
Jonathan comes to believe when Raymond says of the dead, "I can hear them, I can
see them and I can record them." Then, the unthinkable -- Jonathan himself
captures Anna's voice and image through recordings he has made; she has
established direct contact. Anna's message: for Jonathan to save the future
victims of the brutal psychopath who took her life. But his dead wife's
communications are often fuzzy, challenging to decipher. And Jonathan, in his
growing obsession with reaching Anna, fails to notice signs of impending danger,
summed up by Raymond's assessment of the souls who cross the divide from the
other side: "They can't all be nice." The film has a great premise but s spoiled
by a weak screenplay and highly un-frightful execution.
Director: Geoffrey Sax. Stars: Michael Keaton, Chandra West, Deborah Kara Unger,
Ian McNeice, Sarah Strange. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 101 min.,
Thriller, Box office gross: $55.865 million, Universal, $29.98 VHS SRP.
Team America: World Police
A group of marionette puppets form
Team America, an international police force dedicated to maintaining global
stability. Discovering that a power hungry dictator, Kim Jong II, plans to
destroy the world and is brokering weapons of mass destruction to terrorists,
the team enlists the undercover help of Broadway star and embarks on a harrowing
mission to save the world. Opposed to this is the Film Actors' Guild, or F.A.G.,
whose members include puppets representing actors Alec Baldwin, Tim Robbins,
Matt Damon, Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. In spite of the lack of support they
receive, the Team sticks to their plan of saving the world and putting an end to
Director: Trey Parker. Voices of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Miller,
Masasa, Daran Norris, Phil Hendrie. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 98 min.,
Adventure, Box office gross: $32.774 million, Paramount, $20 VHS SRP.
Son of the Mask
A decade after the legendary Mask of Loki wreaked havoc on the life of an unsuspecting adult (Jim Carrey in 1994's "The Mask"), the magical mask finds its way into the possession of a child in this fairly lame sequel. When
cartoonist Tim Avery's (Jamie Kennedy) new son is born with the Mask's spectacular powers -- to the dismay of the family's jealous dog -- it turns the household upside down and launches a kid versus canine battle for control of the Mask. But unbeknownst to them all,
Loki has come looking for his mask and is willing to do whatever it takes to get it back.
Director: Lawrence Guterman. Stars: Jamie Kennedy, Alan Cumming, Ryan Falconer, Bob Hoskins, Traylor Howard, Ben Stein. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 86 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $16.004 million, New Line, No VHS SRP, Priced for
Kiyoshi ("Cure") Kurosawa's international award-winning
thriller Seance materializes on DVD May 17, 2005. In the spirit of "The Sixth
Sense," "The Gift" and "The Ring," "Seance (Korei)" stars Koji Yakusho ("Shall
We Dance") as Koji Sato, a sound effects engineer, and Jun Fubuki ("Pulse") as
his psychic wife. When a missing young girl escapes her kidnappers and hides in
Koji's equipment case while he is recording sounds in the woods, the stage is
set for a scheme to promote her psychic abilities. But the couple's hoax goes
terrifyingly awry in this unsettling and atmospheric shocker from one of Japan's
new masters of horror. Based on Mark McShane's novel "Seance on a Wet
Afternoon." In Japanese with English subtitles.
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Stars: Koji Yakusho, Jun Fubuki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi,
Hikari Ishida, Kitarou, Ittoku Kishibe. 2000, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 118 min.,
Thriller, Home Vision Entertainment.
From the director of such horror/ghost films as "Cure"
and Seance," comes Kiyoshi Kurosawa's eco-thriller "Charisma." "What is it with
this forest?" That is the question for disgraced Tokyo detective Goro Yabuike
(Koji Yakusho), who finds himself embroiled in a tense struggle revolving around
a gnarled, forbidding tree. Goro has fled Tokyo after a hostage crisis escalates
into tragic violence. He finds himself in a remote forest where the surrounding
vegetation is diseased, the streams are polluted, and other trees are dying or
dead. Is the solitary tree rare, or a mutation? An eccentric caretaker fiercely
protects the tree from a group of forest rangers who want to profit from it and
a botanist who insists that the toxic tree must be destroyed. Can Goro redeem
himself, and "restore the rules of the world?" In Japanese with English
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Stars: Koji Yakusho, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Ren Osugi,
Yoriko Douguchi, Jun Fubuki. 1999, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 104 min., Thriller,
Home Vision Entertainment.
"Abouna (Our Father)" was an Official Selection of the
Festival de Cannes, Los Angeles Film Festival, and the Toronto Film Festival,
and is director Mahamat Saleh Haroun's follow-up to his international
award-winning "Bye Bye Africa." Fifteen-year-old Tahir and eight-year-old
Amine's world is shattered when they awake one morning to find that their father
is missing. The brothers wander through their small Chad town in search of him
and while at the local movie house, are stunned to see what they believe is
their father onscreen. They steal the film reel, but are soon caught by the
police, and their weary mother feels that she has no other choice than to send
them away to Koran school to learn discipline. All the while, Amine and Tahir
are determined to escape and continue their search. In French and Arabic.
Director: Mahamat Saleh Haroun. Stars: Ahidjo Mahamat Moussa, Hamza Moctar
Aguid, Zara Haroun, Mounira Khalil, Hassan Boulama. 2002, CC, MPAA rating:
NR, 84 min., Drama, Home Vision Entertainment.
One of the most compelling figures of the 20th
century, Howard Hughes was an influential innovator, savvy industrialist,
glamorous motion picture producer and quintessential American risk-taker -- but
he thought of himself first and foremost as an aviator. Director
Martin Scorsese focuses his storytelling lens on the most prolific period of
Hughes' life: the period from the mid-1920s through the 1940s, when Hughes'
daring-do and passion for flight drove his pioneering efforts in both aviation
and the movies. A time of rampant invention, turbulent love affairs and savage
corporate battles, this was also the time when Howard Hughes' high-flying
ambitions first met with the costs of fame, fortune and his own obsession with
perfection. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Hughes, who, just barely out his teens,
makes the maverick decision to use his inherited fortune from his father's drill
bit company to film a World War I dogfight-themed epic, "Hell's Angels." Bucking
the Hollywood system as an independent producer, Hughes sets out to make a movie
unlike any other, performing his own outrageous aerial stunts, designing special
aircraft and racking up what was, at the time, the largest feature film budget
in history. "Hell's Angels" plunges the still boyish Hughes beyond fortune into
celebrity. After founding Hughes Aircraft Company and boldly shattering several
speed records, Hughes becomes the most famous American flyer since Charles
Lindbergh, a mythic figure imbued with an aura of excitement, mystery and
glamour. In the 1930s, Hughes takes over the airliner TWA, and begins efforts to
usher America into the Jet Age -- while developing audacious plans to build the
largest plane in the world, the flying boat known as The Hercules. Yet the man
celebrated for his wealth, his daredevil brilliance, his romantic dalliances and
his spirited pursuit of the future cannot seem to escape the corrupting forces
of his personal compulsions no matter how fast or high he flies. The film
explores not only the achievements but the emotional life of Howard Hughes,
including his love affairs with two Hollywood legends: the elegant, Yankee-bred
leading lady Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and the luminous screen beauty
Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale); as well as Hughes' fierce competition with Pan
American's visionary head Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin); his life-long relationship
with his right-hand man Noah Dietrich (John C. Reilly); his public battles with
Senator Owen Brewster (Alan Alda); and the devastating airplane crash and
phobias that led him to ultimately withdraw from the world.
Director: Martin Scorsese. Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate
Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alan Alda, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Adam Scott, Kelli
Garner, Gwen Stefani, Danny Huston, Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe. 2004, CC, MPAA
rating: PG-13, 166 min., Biodrama, Box office gross: $99.061 million, Warner, No
VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Are We There Yet?
Nick (Ice Cube), a playboy bachelor, sports
memorabilia collector and a smooth operator, is trying to land a date with a
young, attractive divorcee Suzanne (Nia Long). Problem is Suzanne is stuck
working in Vancouver and miserable because she misses her kids. Seizing the
opportunity, Nick gallantly offers to make her wish come true -- and his own in
the process -- by bringing seven-year-old Kevin (Philip Daniel Bolden) and
eleven-year-old Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) up from Portland, Oregon to be reunited
with their mom. What Nick doesn't know is that Suzanne's children think that no
man is good enough for their mom and will do everything they can to make the
trip a nightmare for him.
Director: Brian Levant. Stars: Ice Cube, Nia Long, Jay Mohr, Tracey Morgan,
Nichelle Nichols, M.C. Gainey. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 95 min., Family
comedy, Box office gross: $79.535 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
16 Years of Alcohol
Winner best film, British Independent Film Awards 2004. Kevin McKidd plays Frankie, in a semi-autobiographical tale expressed mainly in flashbacks. As a child, Frankie's father is both his hero and a destructive
personality who influences impressionable young Frankie's perception of the world. In his teenage years he becomes embroiled in a violent gang culture, which he tries desperately to escape for the sake of a new love, which gives him just a glimpse of a better life.
Finally, as a grown man, Frankie is faced with the choice of falling backwards into alcohol-soaked violence, or facing up to his dubious past. To do this, he has to explore what led him there and break the cycle in which he finds himself trapped, if he is to
achieve his dream of finding (and keeping) true love.
Director: Richard Jobson. Stars: Kevin McKidd, Stuart Sinclair Blyth, Ewen
Bremner, John Comerford, Lisa May Cooper, Colvin Cruickshank, Anne Downie, Laura
Fraser. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 102 min., Drama, Tartan Video. DVD only.
Shin Hyun (Seung-woo Cho) walks into the local police station toting the mutilated bodies of six missing women, confesses to the murders and accepts his fate. A psychopathic serial killer is caught and the case closed. Or is it? One year later,
the bodies of two high school girls and a pregnant woman are discovered, killed in the same manner. Believed to be a copy-cat crime, detectives Kim Mi Yun (Jung-ah Yum) and Kang Tae Hyun (Jin-hee Ji), polar opposites both professionally and personally, are assigned
to the case. As the investigation continues, new suspects are taken into custody, but the body count continues to rise. It soon seems that no one, not even the detectives themselves, are beyond suspicion.
Director: Jong-hyuk Lee. Stars: Jung-ah Yum, Jin-hee Ji, Ji-ru Sung, Seung-woo
Cho. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: R, 106 min., Thriller, Tartan Asia Extreme. DVD only.
Pooh's Heffalump Movie
The Hundred Acre Wood crew is together
again in this all-new animated "Pooh" feature -- this time learning an important
lesson about being accepting of others' differences and the value of true
friendship. Awakened by a rumbling that could only be made by the much-feared
Heffalump, the Hundred Acre Wood crew sets forth to catch the dreaded creature.
Disregarded as too young to partake in such a dangerous expedition, little Roo
opts to search on his own -- with far greater success than his friends. But in
meeting a young, playful Heffalump named Lumpy, Roo quickly discovers that
Heffalumps are nothing like the creatures of the ominous stories he's been told,
and that the creature is equally afraid of his silly pals. Roo and Lumpy strike
up a sweet friendship and work together to dispel the unfounded fears of their
respective friends and families.
Director: Frank Nissen. Voices of Jim Cummings, John Fiedler, Nikita Hopkins,
Kath Soucie, Ken Sansom, Peter Cullen, Brenda Blethyn. 2005, CC, MPAA
rating: G, 68 min., Family animated, Box office gross: $18.081 million, Disney,
$29.99 VHS SRP.
Every culture has one -- the horrible monster fueling
young children's nightmares. But for Tim (Barry Watson), the Boogeyman still
lives in his memories. When he was eight, something devastating happened. Each
night his dad would put him to sleep with a bedtime story. Many of these stories
teetered on the brink of horror, much to his mom's chagrin, but Tim and his
father made sure his bedroom was safe when the lights finally went out. Until
one fateful night: As Tim watched from his bed, paralyzed with fear, his father
was violently sucked into the closet, and was never seen or heard from again.
Tim is terrified that the Boogeyman will someday return and take him as he has
taken so many before. Until now he has coped by eliminating opportunities for
the Boogeyman to get to him. He has removed every dark corner in his apartment;
there are no closets, and his bed is on the floor so the evil force has nowhere
to hide. The thought of getting a jacket out of a closet sends him spiraling
into terror. When Tim is forced to move outside his comfort zone on a
Thanksgiving trip to girlfriend Jessica's (Tory Mussett) parents, he leaves this
protected world and things begin to fall apart. After a disturbing dream about
his estranged mother (Lucy Lawless), Tim awakens in a cold sweat, hunched over
on the floor of the guest room. His cell phone rings -- his mother has died.
Forced to return to his childhood home, a looming and run-down Victorian Gothic
house in the countryside, Tim must tie up family matters with his Uncle Mike
(Philip Gordon) and face the source of all his fears. Is the Boogeyman real? Or
did Tim make him up to explain why his father abandoned his family? The answer
lies hidden behind every dark corner and half-opened closet of his childhood
home as he faces the chilling unanswered question -- does the Boogeyman really
Director: Stephen T. Kay. Stars: Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Lucy Lawless,
Tory Mussett, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Philip Gordon. 2005, CC, MPAA rating:
PG-13, 89 min., Horror thriller, Box office gross: $46.212 million, Sony, No VHS
SRP, Priced for rental.
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.