OnVideo: FEBRUARY's Top Movies
ANONYMOUSA political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford who penned Shakespeare's plays; set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her. "Anonymous" speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds ranging from Mark Twain and Charles Dickens to Henry James and Sigmund Freud, namely: who was the author of the plays credited to William Shakespeare? Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories surrounding the authorship of the most renowned works in English literature. Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when cloak-and-dagger political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of greedy nobles hungry for the power of the throne were exposed in the most unlikely of places: the London stage.
Director: Roland Emmerich. Stars: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Sebastian Armesto, Rafe Spall, David Thewlis, Edward Hogg. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 130 min., Drama, Box office gross: $4.463 million, Sony. Available: 2/7.
HUGOScorsese's first foray into children's material (and 3D),. Based on Brian Selznick's magic-themed children's novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," which centers on an 12-year-old orphaned boy who secretly lives in the walls of a busy train station in 1930s Paris, where he looks after the clocks. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric girl, the owner of a small toy booth in the train station, and a mechanical man, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy.
Director: Martin Scorsese. Stars: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Lee, Jude Law, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 126 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $55.887 million, Paramount. Available: 2/28.
J. EDGARAs the face of law enforcement in America for almost 50 years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life. Under the direction of Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the title role of this drama that explores the public and private life of one of the most powerful, controversial and enigmatic figures of the 20th century.
Director: Clint Eastwood. Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Judi Dench, Naomi Watts, Josh Hamilton, Josh Lucas, Dermot Mulroney, Lea Thomspon, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Lucas, Ken Howard. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 137 min., Bio-Drama, Box office gross: $36.650 million, Warner. Available: 2/21.
JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORNRowan Atkinson returns to the role of the improbable, hapless secret agent who doesn't know fear or danger in this long-after-the-2003-original sequel spy-thriller spoof. In this adventure, the most unlikely intelligence officer in Her Majesty's Secret Service must stop a group of international assassins before they eliminate a world leader and cause global chaos.
Director: Oliver Parker. Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Gillian Anderson, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West, Richard Schiff, Ben Miller. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 101 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $8.269 million, Universal. Available: 2/28.
MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENEAfter escaping from a dangerous cult and the watchful eye of its charismatic leader, a young woman named Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) tries to reclaim a normal life with her family. But the haunting memories from her past trigger a chilling paranoia and nowhere seems safe as the fragile line between her reality and delusions begin to blur.
Director: Sean Durkin. Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, Maria Dizzia, Julia Garner, John Hawkes. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 102 min., Drama, Box office gross: $2.870 million, Fox. Available: 2/21.
PUSS IN BOOTSWay before Puss ever met Shrek, our suave and furry feline hero goes on a swashbuckling ride, as he teams with mastermind Humpty Dumpty and the street-savvy Kitty to steal the famed Goose that lays the Golden Eggs
Director: Chris Miller. Stars: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Constance Marie, Guillermo del Toro. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 90 min., Animated Comedy, Box office gross: $142.775 million, DreamWorks. Available: 2/24.
THE RUM DIARYBased on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary follows New York journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) on an alcohol fueled journey across the island of Puerto Rico where he finds himself caught between a shady American businessman, a beautiful woman, and several bottles of booze. Tiring of the noise and madness of New York and the crushing conventions of late Eisenhower-era America, Paul Kemp travels to the pristine island of Puerto Rico to write for a local newspaper, The San Juan Star, run by downtrodden editor Lotterman. Adopting the rum-soaked life of the island, Paul soon becomes obsessed with Chenault, the wildly attractive Connecticut-born fiancee of Sanderson. When Kemp is recruited by Sanderson to write favorably about his latest unsavory scheme, the journalist is presented with a choice: to use his words for the corrupt businessmen's financial benefit, or use them to take the bastards down.
Director: Bruce Robinson. Stars: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribisi. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 119 min., Comedy Drama, Box office gross: $13.100 million, Sony. Available: 2/14.
TAKE SHELTERA disturbing tale for our times that will creep under your skin and expose your darkest fears. Curtis LaForche lives in a small town in Ohio with his wife, Samantha, and daughter, Hannah, a six year old deaf girl. When Curtis begins to have terrifying dreams, he keeps the visions to himself, channeling his anxiety into obsessively building a backyard storm shelter. His seemingly inexplicable behavior concerns and confounds those closest to him, but the resulting strain on his marriage and tension within his community can’t compare with Curtis’s privately held fear of what his dreams may truly signify.
Director: Jeff Nichols. Stars: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Kathy Baker, Katy Mixon, Shea Whigham, Tova Stewart. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 121 min., Psychological Thriller, Box office gross: $1.627 million, Sony. Available: 2/14.
TOWER HEISTWhen the staff of New York City's most expensive and luxurious condominium discovers that the billionaire investment advisor living in the penthouse has plundered their retirement fund, they take matters into their own hands. Convinced that light-fingered Wall Street Titan Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) has stashed his ill-gotten millions in his apartment, building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) rallies his troops and enlists the help of small-time thief Slide (Eddie Murphy) to make sure they get back what's rightfully theirs. These rookie thieves -- including high-strung concierge Charlie (Casey Affleck), broke ex-Wall Streeter Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), new bellhop Dev'Reaux (Michael Pena) and feisty maid Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe)-- know the building better than anyone. It turns out they've been casing the place for years ... they just didn't know it.
Director: Brett Ratner. Stars: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Henderson, Judd Hirsch, Tea Leoni, Michael Pena, Gabourey Sidibe. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $76.802 million, Universal. Available: 2/21.
TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN -- PART 1In "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1," based on Stephenie Meyer's bestselling book series, human Bella (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson), plus those they love, must deal with the chain of consequences brought on by their ornate nuptials, a romantic honeymoon, and the tumultuous birth of their child ... which brings an unforeseen and shocking development for werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner).
Director: Bill Condon. Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Nikki Reed, Anna Kendrick, Kellan Lutz, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Billy Burke, Lee Pace. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 108 min., Fantasy Melodrama, Box office gross: $276.125 million, Summit. Available: 2/11.
A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMASSix years have elapsed since Guantanemo Bay, leaving Harold and Kumar estranged from one another with very different families, friends and lives. But when Kumar arrives on Harold's doorstep during the holiday season with a mysterious package in hand, he inadvertently burns down Harold's father-in-law's beloved Christmas tree. To fix the problem, Harold and Kumar embark on a mission through New York City to find the perfect Christmas tree, once again stumbling into trouble at every single turn.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray 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.
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February 1, 2012