OnVideo: FEBRUARY's Top Movies
ALEX CROSSBased on the novel "Cross" by James Patterson and popularized by Morgan Freeman in "Kiss the Girls" and "Along Came a Spider," Tyler Perry takes over as Dr. Alex Cross, a homicide detective/psychologist with the Detroit Police Department. Cross meets his match in a dangerous serial killer (Matthew Fox). The two face off in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, but when the mission gets personal, Cross is pushed to the edge of his moral and psychological limits.
Director: Rob Cohen. Stars: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Rachel Nichols, Jean Reno, Giancarlo Esposito, Cicely Tyson. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 101 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $25.194 million, Lionsgate. Available: 02/05.
ANNA KARENINAAdapted from Leo Tolstoy's classic novel by Academy Award-winner Tom Stoppard, set in late-19th-century Russia high-society, about the aristocrat Anna Karenina who questions her life and enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. The time is 1874. Vibrant and beautiful, Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) has what any of her contemporaries would aspire to; she is the wife of Karenin (Jude Law), a high-ranking government official to whom she has borne a son, and her social standing in St. Petersburg could scarcely be higher. She journeys to Moscow after a letter from her philandering brother Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen) arrives, asking for Anna to come and help save his marriage to Dolly (Kelly Macdonald). En route, Anna makes the acquaintance of Countess Vronsky (Olivia Williams), who is then met at the train station by her son, the dashing cavalry officer Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). When Anna is introduced to Vronsky, there is a mutual spark of instant attraction that cannot -- and will not -- be ignored. The Moscow household is also visited by Oblonsky's best friend, Levin (Domhnall Gleeson), an overly sensitive and compassionate landowner. Levin is in love with Dolly's younger sister Kitty (Alicia Vikander). Inopportunely, he proposes to Kitty but she is infatuated with Vronsky. Devastated, Levin returns to his Pokrovskoe estate and throws himself into farm work. Kitty herself is heartbroken when, at a grand ball, Vronsky only has eyes for Anna and the married woman reciprocates the younger man's interest. Anna struggles to regain her equilibrium by rushing home to St. Petersburg, where Vronsky follows her. She attempts to resume her familial routine, but is consumed by thoughts of Vronsky. A passionate affair ensues, which scandalizes St. Petersburg society. Karenin is placed in an untenable position and is forced to give his wife an ultimatum. In attempting to attain happiness, the decisions Anna makes pierce the veneer of an image-obsessed society, reverberating with romantic and tragic consequences that dramatically change her and the lives of all around her.
Director: Joe Wright. Stars: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Kelly Macdonald, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Matthew MacFadyen, Olivia Williams, Emily Watson, Domhnall Gleeson). 2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 129 min., Drama, Box office gross: $8.830 million, Universal. Available: 02/19.
ARGOBased on true events, "Argo" chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans that unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis -- the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reached its boiling point, militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans managed to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it was only a matter of time before the six were found out and likely killed, a CIA "exfiltration" specialist named Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) came up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. The incredible plan: create a fake Hollywood movie shooting in Iran and claim that the six Americans were actually working on the film, scouting locations. This by-the-book action thriller hits all the right notes, with suspenseful just-in-the-nick-of-time escape scenes. "Argo" nabbed a Golden Globe for Best Film -- Drama and best Director, and has been nominated for seven Academy Awards.
Director: Ben Affleck. Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler, Scoot McNairy, Clea DuVall, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishe, Michael Parks, Tate Donovan. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Drama, Box office gross: $110.106 million, Warner. Available: 02/19.
ATLAS SHRUGGED II: THE STRIKEPart Two of Ayn Rand's groundbreaking novel comes to the screen. The global economy is on the brink of collapse. Brilliant creators, from artists to industrialists, continue to mysteriously disappear. Dagny Taggart, Vice President in Charge of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental, has discovered what may very well be the answer to a mounting energy crisis -- a revolutionary motor that could seemingly power the World. But, the motor is dead ... there is no one left to decipher its secret ... and, someone is watching. It's a race against the clock to find the inventor before the motor of the World is stopped for good.
Director: John Putch. Stars: Samantha Mathis, Jason Beghe, Esai Morales, Richard T. Jones, Kim Rhodes, Patrick Fabian, D.B. Sweeney, Paul McCrane, Arye Gross. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 112 min., Drama, Box office gross: $3.333 million, Fox. Available: 02/19.
BULLYThe critically-acclaimed documentary that sparked a national movement that rallied people to stand up to bullying, hate, and intolerance. Here are the facts: Thirteen million kids will be bullied in the U.S. this year, making bullying the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation. Three million students will be absent each month because they feel unsafe at school. Thirty percent of children who reported being bullied said they sometimes brought weapons to school. School personnel are reported to notice or intervene in only one out of every twenty-five incidents. Fifty percent of the time, when an someone intervenes in bullying, the bullying stops within ten seconds. Bullying is a serious problem, and the solutions belong to us all. Directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, "Bully" is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. The documentary follows five kids and families over the course of a school year. Stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With an intimate glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals' offices, the film offers insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children. As teachers, administrators, kids and parents struggle to find answers, The Bully Project examines the dire consequences of bullying through the testimony of strong and courageous youth. Through the power of their stories, the film aims to be a catalyst for change in the way we deal with bullying as parents, teachers, children and society as a whole.
CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVERCeleste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) met in high school, married young and are growing apart. Now 30, Celeste is the driven owner of her own media consulting firm, Jesse is once again unemployed and in no particular rush to do anything with his life. Celeste is convinced that divorcing Jesse is the right thing to do -- she is on her way up, he is on his way nowhere, and if they do it now instead of later, they can remain supportive friends. Jesse passively accepts this transition into friendship, even though he's still in love with her. As the reality of their separation sets in, Celeste slowly and painfully realizes she has been cavalier about their relationship, and her decision, which once seemed mature and progressive, now seems impulsive and selfish. The two come to learn that in order to truly love someone, you may have to let them go.
Director: Lee Toland Krieger. Stars: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts, Chris Messina, Ari Graynor, Eric Christian Olsen, Will McCormack, Rebecca Dayan. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 92 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $3.093 million, Sony. Available: 02/05.
CHASING MAVERICKSThe inspirational true story of real life surfing phenom Jay Moriarity (newcomer Jonny Weston). When 15-year-old Moriarity discovers that the mythic Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, is not only real, but exists just miles from his Santa Cruz home, he enlists the help of local legend Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) to train him to survive it. As Jay and Frosty embark on their quest to accomplish the impossible, they form a unique friendship that transforms both their lives, and their quest to tame Mavericks becomes about far more than surfing. "Chasing Mavericks" was made with the help of some of the biggest names in the surfing world, and features some of the most mind-blowing real wave footage ever captured on film.
Director: Michael Apted, Curtis Hanson. Stars: Gerard Butler, Jonny Weston, Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 116 min., Drama, Box office gross: $5.904 million, Fox. Available: 02/26.
FLIGHTWhip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every person on board. After the crash, Whitaker is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on that plane. In particular, an investigation brings into question Whitaker's behavior the night before the doomed flight, beginning what may be an even more harrowing personal descent for the pilot.
Director: Robert Zemeckis. Stars: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, James Badge Dale, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 138 min., Drama, Box office gross: $89.418 million, Paramount. Available: 02/05.
FUN SIZETeen comedy centered on high school senior Wren (Victoria Justice), who is eager to distance herself from her dysfunctional family. On Halloween night, Wren's mother Joy insists that she watch her little brother Albert so Joy can go to a rager with her much younger boyfriend. When Wren gets distracted by an invitation to the party of the year, Albert disappears into a sea of trick-or-treaters. Frantic to locate him, Wren enlists the help of her sarcastic best friend April as well as Peng, an aspiring ladies man and co-captain of the debate team, and Peng's best friend, Roosevelt, a sweet nerd whose crush on Wren clouds his better judgment. This unlikely foursome embarks on a high-stakes, all-night adventure to find Albert, crossing paths with outrageous characters every step of the way.
Director: Josh Schwartz. Stars: Victoria Justice, Jane Levy, Chelsea Handler, Jackson Nicoll, Thomas Mann, Osric Chau, Thomas McDonell, Johnny Knoxville, Riki Lindholme, Josh Pence, Kerri Kenney, Ana Gasteyer. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13 86 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $9.402 million, Nickelodeon/Paramount. Available: 02/19.
HERE COMES THE BOOMFormer collegiate wrester Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a 42-year-old apathetic biology teacher in a failing high school. When cutbacks threaten to cancel the music program and lay off its teacher (Henry Winkler,) Scott begins to raise money by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter. Everyone thinks Scott is crazy -- most of all the school nurse, Bella (Salma Hayek) -- but in his quest, Scott gains something he never expected as he becomes a sensation that rallies the entire school.
Director: Frank Coraci. Stars: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Joe Rogan, Greg Germann, Reggie Lee, Charice. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 105 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $42.556 million, Sony. Available: 02/05.
HOLY MOTORSOver the course of a single day, Monsieur Oscar travels by limousine around Paris to a series of nine "appointments," transforming into new characters or incarnations at each stop. Fetched in the morning by Celine, his trusty chauffeur on this surreal journey, Oscar begins the day as a captain of industry. Then he becomes a gypsy crone, begging for spare change on a bridge over the Seine. Inside a digital production facility, he's a ninja warrior transformed by cutting-edge technology into a reptilian sex god. Next he's a gibberish-spewing troglodyte who kidnaps a fashion model from a photo shoot in Pere-Lachaise cemetery, ferrying her to his underground lair in the sewers. Then he's the melancholy father of a teenage daughter, followed by a shadowy assassin sent to kill his own doppelganger, a dying old man, and finally a thwarted lover revisiting a flame from his past atop a decaying Right Bank department store next to the Pont-Neuf. The film is a monster movie, film noir, romantic drama, musical, crime thriller, futuristic sex fantasia ... and, then again, none of these. It is a ravishing, shape-shifting, fever dream of becoming, unraveling and starting all over again. From celluloid magic to the digital data stream, Monsieur Oscar's epic journey of the soul is all of our dreams. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Leos Carax. Stars: Denis Lavant, Eva Mendes, Edit Scob, Kylie Minogue, Elise Lhomeau, Michel Piccoli. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 115 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.600 million, Indomina Films. Available: 02/26.
A LATE QUARTETOn the eve of a world renowned string quartet's 25th anniversary season, their beloved cellist, Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken), is diagnosed with the early symptoms of Parkinson's Disease. When Peter announces he wishes to make the upcoming season his last, his three colleagues find themselves at a crossroad. Competing egos and uncontrollable passions threaten to derail years of friendship and collaboration. Robert Gelbart (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the quartet's second violinist, announces his desire to alternate chairs with first violinist Daniel Lerner (Mark Ivanir), after years of sacrifice and peacemaking for the benefit of the group. Robert's wife, violist Juliette Gelbart (Catherine Keener), has a particularly difficult time grappling with the tragic diagnosis, as Peter has served not only as a colleague, but as a dear father figure since childhood. When Juliette is unable to support her husband, their marriage is strained with a palpable tension that they can no longer ignore. Tossed into the maelstrom is their daughter Alexandra (Imogen Poots), a talented violinist in her own right. Like her father, she too decides to act on her desires. As the string quartet prepares to play Beethoven's Opus 131 for what might be the members' last concert together, the seven movements of the piece echo their own tumultuous journey.
Director: Yaron Zilberman. Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Imogen Poots, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Wallace Shawn, Mark Ivanir. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.995 million, Fox. Available: 02/05.
THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTSQuentin Tarantino presents this action-adventure inspired by kung-fu classics as interpreted by his longtime collaborators RZA and Eli Roth, with RZA making his debut as a big-screen director. Tells the story of warriors, assassins and a lone outsider hero in 19th century China who must unite to destroy the clan traitor who would destroy them all. Since his arrival in China's Jungle Village, the town's blacksmith has been forced by radical tribal factions to create elaborate tools of destruction. When the clans' brewing war boils over, the stranger channels an ancient energy to transform himself into a human weapon. As he fights alongside iconic heroes and against soul-less villains, he must harness this power to become savior of his adopted people.
Director: RZA. Stars: RZA, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Cung Le, Byron Mann, Rick Yune, Jamie Chung, David Bautista, Osric Chau, Zhu Zhu, Celina Jade, Dennis Chan. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Action, Box office gross: $15.522 million, Universal. Available: 02/12.
THE MASTERA striking portrait of drifters and seekers in post World War II America, the film follows the journey of Naval veteran Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) who arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future -- until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). As the faith-based organization begins to catch on in America, Quell becomes Dodd's lieutenant. As the faith begins to gain a fervent following, Freddie finds himself questioning the belief system he has embraced, and his mentor. Stunning performances by Phoenix, Hoffman and Amy Adams as Dodd's wife.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson. Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jesse Plemons, Laura Dern, Barlow Jacobs, Ambyr Childers, Madisen Beaty, Lena Endre, Patty McCormack, Mimi Cozzens, Jillian Bell. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 138 min., Drama, Box office gross: $16.008 million, The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay. Available: 02/26.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWERAdaptation of Stephen Chbosky's acclaimed best-selling coming-of-age novel. Centers around a freshman named Charlie (Logan Lerman) who is always watching from the sidelines until a pair of charismatic seniors takes him under their wing. Beautiful, free-spirited Sam (Emma Watson) and her fearless stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) shepherd Charlie through new friendships, first love, burgeoning sexuality, wild parties, midnight screenings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and the quest for the perfect song.
Director: Stephen Chbosky. Stars: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Paul Rudd, Nina Dobrev, Dylan McDermott, Johnny Simmons, Nicholas Braun, Mae Whitman. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 103 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $13.059 million, Summut/Lionsgate. Available: 02/12.
ROBOT & FRANKSet in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They're tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank's son chooses a different option: against the old man's wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health. But soon the two companions try their luck as a heist team. What follows is an often hilarious and somewhat heartbreaking story about finding friends and family in the most unexpected places.
Director: Jake Schreier. Stars: Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard, Jeremy Strong. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 89 min., Comedy Drama, Box office gross: $3.298 million, Samuel Goldwyn Films/Sony. Available: 02/12.
THE SESSIONSBased on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet Mark O'Brien, "The Sessions" tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined -- at age 38 -- to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality.
Director: Ben Lewin. Stars: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, Rhea Perlman. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 96 min., Drama, Box office gross: $4.951 million, Warner. Available: 02/12.
SILENT HILL: REVELATIONHeather Mason and her father have been on the run, always one step ahead of dangerous forces that she doesn't fully understand. On the eve of her 18th birthday, plagued by horrific nightmares and the disappearance of her father, Heather discovers she's not who she thinks she is. The revelation leads her deeper into a demonic world that threatens to trap her forever. Based on the ground-breaking video game franchise.
Director: Michael J. Bassett. Stars: Sean Bean, Deborah Kara Unger, Radha Mitchell, Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Malcolm McDowell. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 94 min., Horror, Box office gross: $17.507 million, Universal. Available: 02/12.
SINISTERA true crime novelist struggling to find his next big story discovers a box of home videos showing other families being brutally murdered; his investigation soon leads him to a supernatural entity that may be placing his own family in harm's way.
Director: Scott Derrickson. Stars: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, James Ransome, Fred Dalton Thompson, Michael Hall D'Addario, Clare Foley (voice). 2012, CC, MPAA rating: R, 110 min., Horror, Box office gross: $47.705 million, Summit Entertainment. Available: 02/19.
SKYFALLDaniel Craig is back as James Bond -- 007 -- in this 23rd adventure in the longest-running film franchise of all time. Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. With MI6 now compromised from both inside and out, M is left with one ally she can trust: Bond. 007 takes to the shadows -- aided only by field agent, Eve (Naomie Harris) -- following a trail to the mysterious Silva (Javier Bardem), whose lethal and hidden motives have yet to reveal themselves. There's a lot to like in this Bond, the highest grossing of the entire series: Virtually non-stop action, Bardem as one of the nastiest Bond villains in recent memory, and the return of the august Aston Martin DB5. Rosebud!!!
Director: Sam Mendes. Stars: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Helen McCrory, Rory Kinnear. 2012, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 143min., Comedy, Box office gross: $299.349 million, MGM. Available: 02/12.
UNDEFEATEDDocumentary follows the Manassas Tigers -- a severely underfunded and underprivileged high school football team -- as they endeavor to reverse their fortunes with the help of a volunteer coach, Bill Courtney. It's a rousing and inspirational film about an underdog football team and the coach who helped them realize their dreams. Set in the inner-city of Memphis, Undefeated chronicles the Manassas Tigers 2009 football season, on and off-the-field, as they strive to win the first playoff game in the high schools 110-year history. A perennial whipping boy, in recent decades Manassas had gone so far as to sell their home games to the highest bidder, but that all changed in the spring of 2004 when Courtney, a former high school football coach turned lumber salesman, volunteered to lend a hand. When he arrived, the team consisted of 17 players, some timeworn equipment and a patch of grass masquerading as a practice field. Focusing more on winning young men than football games, the football program nevertheless began resurrecting itself and, in 2009, featured the most talented team Manassas has ever fielded. Won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
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, 2013