OnVideo FEBRUARY Video Reviews
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
A love story set in the 1960s, against the turbulent backdrop of anti-war protests, mind exploration and rock 'n roll, Julie Taymor's "Across the Universe" moves from the dockyards of Liverpool to the creative psychedelia of Greenwich Village, from the riot-torn streets of Detroit to the killing fields of Vietnam. The star-crossed lovers, Jude (Jim Sturgess) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) along with a small group of friends and musicians are swept up in the emerging anti-war and counterculture movements, with "Dr. Robert" (Bono) and "Mr. Kite" (Eddie Izzard) as their guides. As forces beyond their control tear the young lovers apart, Jude and Lucy ultimately strive against all odds to find their own way back to each other. Also features cameos by Salma Hayek and Joe Cocker. The film is set against a backdrop of 33 Beatles' songs.
Director: Julie Taymor. Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther, T.V. Carpio, Eddie Izzard, Bono. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 133 min., Musical, Box office gross: $23.317 million, Sony. Available: 2/5.
Armed with ruthless, streetwise tactics and a paradoxically strict sense of honor, crime boss Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) rules Harlem's chaotic drug underworld. When cop Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) sets out to bring down Lucas's multimillion-dollar empire, both men are plunged into a legendary confrontation. Nobody used to notice Lucas, the quiet driver to one of the inner city's leading black crime bosses. But when his boss suddenly dies, Frank exploits the opening in the power structure to build his own empire and create his own version of the American Dream. Through ingenuity and a strict business ethic, he comes to rule the inner-city drug trade, flooding the streets with a purer product at a better price. Lucas outplays all of the leading crime syndicates and becomes not only one of the city's mainline corrupters, but part of its circle of legit civic superstars. Roberts is an outcast cop close enough to the streets to feel a shift of control in the drug underworld. Roberts believes someone is climbing the rungs above the known Mafia families and starts to suspect that a black power player has come from nowhere to dominate the scene. Both Lucas and Roberts share a rigorous ethical code that sets them apart from their own colleagues, making them lone figures on opposite sides of the law. The destinies of these two men will become intertwined as they approach a confrontation where only one of them can come out on top.
Director: Ridley Scott. Stars: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Josh Brolin, Ted Levine, Armand Assante, John Ortiz, John Hawkes, RZA, Lymari Nadal, Yul Vasquez, Ruby Dee, Idris Elba, Carla Gugino, Joe Morton, Common, Tip "T.I." Harris. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 158 min., Crime Drama, Box office gross: $43.565 million, Universal. Available: 2/19.
ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES, THE
Jesse James (Brad Pitt) was one of the country's first bona fide celebrities. There have been countless books written and tales told about America's most famous outlaw -- all of them colorful and fascinating, all focused on his larger-than-life public persona and daring exploits, and most of them bearing only incidental reference to the truth. To those he robbed and terrorized, and to the families of those he admittedly killed, he may have been just a criminal, but in the sensational newspaper articles and dime novels chronicling the James Gang throughout the 1870s, Jesse was the object of awe and admiration. He was a Robin Hood, they suggested, targeting railroad owners and banks that exploited poor farmers. He was a man with a tragic cause, a wronged and wounded Confederate soldier striking back against the Union that had ruined his life. Most importantly, to an increasingly buttoned-down and citified population leading ordinary lives, he was the last frontiersman -- a symbol of freedom and the American spirit, a charismatic rebel who flouted the law and lived by his own rules. Foremost among his admirers was Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), an idealistic and ambitious young man who had devoted his life to the hope of one day riding alongside his idol. He could never have imagined that history would ultimately mark him as the "the dirty little coward" who shot Jesse in the back. But who was Jesse James, really -- behind the folklore and the selling of newspapers? And who was Robert Ford, just 19 and a member of Jesse's inner circle, who was able to bring down such a formidable figure when lawmen across 10 states had tried and failed? How did they come to be friends and what happened between them in the days and hours leading up to the gunshot that would end one man's life and become the definition and sum total of another's? Based on the novel by Ron Hansen, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" attempts to delve into the private lives of America's most notorious outlaw and his unlikely assassin to offer a new perspective on a legend and address the question of what really may have transpired in the months before that infamous shooting in 1881, when Jesse was just 34 years old.
Director: Andrew Dominik. Stars: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Renner, Paul Schneider, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 160 min., Western, Box office gross: $3.708 million, Warner. Available: 2/5.
Imaginative tale in the spirit of Jane Austen that places young Jane herself at the center of a witty, enchanting romance not unlike those that would later captivate millions in her celebrated works of literature. The film spins the few known facts surrounding Austen's real-life flirtation with the Irish lawyer Tom Lefroy into a tale about the kind of personal passion and social complications that could have inspired Austen to become the ingenious and utterly timeless observer of human relationships and romance that she soon did. The story playfully references the characters and themes that wend their way through her six novels.The film boldly imagines what might have happened if a youthful Jane Austen fell in love.
In a time of heroes, the mighty warrior Beowulf slays the demon Grendel and incurs the wrath of its monstrous yet seductive mother, in a conflict that transforms a king into a legend. Neil Gaiman ("MirrorMask," the graphic novel Sandman) and Roger Avary ("Pulp Fiction") adapted the legend for the screen. Lots of computer-generated effects and characters. Not a ox office bomb but played well below expectations. A low for director Robert Zemeckis.
Director: Robert Zemeckis. Stars: Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, John Malkovich, Brendan Gleeson, Dominic Keating, Alison Lohman, Robin Wright Penn, Ray Winstone. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $81.512 million, Company. Available: 2/19.
BRAVE ONE, THE
For Erica Bain (Jodie Foster), the streets of New York are both her home and her livelihood. She shares the sounds and the stories of her beloved city with her radio audience as the host of the show "Street Walk." At night, she goes home to the love of her life, her fiance David Kirmani (Naveen Andrews). But everything Erica knows and loves is ripped from her on one terrible night when she and David are ambushed in a random, vicious attack that leaves David dead and Erica close to it. Though Erica's broken body heals, deeper wounds remain -- the devastation of losing David and, even more overwhelming, a suffocating fear that haunts her every step. The city streets she had once loved to roam, even places that had been warm and familiar, now feel strange and threatening. When the fear finally becomes too much to bear, Erica makes a fateful decision to arm herself against it. The gun in her hand becomes a tangible way to protect herself from an intangible enemy ... or so she thinks. The first time she shoots someone, it is kill or be killed. The second time is also in self-defense ... or did she make a choice not to take herself out of harm's way? The fear that had once paralyzed her has been replaced by something else ... something that drives her to reclaim the life that was taken from her that night ... something that Erica does not even recognize in herself. Stories of an anonymous vigilante grip the city, and NYPD detective Sean Mercer (Terrence Howard) becomes increasingly determined to track down the killer. As he pieces together the clues, the evidence begins to point not to a guy with a gun ... but a woman with a grudge.
Director: Neil Jordan. Stars: Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Nicky Katt, Naveen Andrews, Mary Steenburgen. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 122 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $36.566 million, Warner. Available: 2/5.
DARJEELING LIMITED, THE
Three American brothers who have not spoken to each other in a year set off on a train voyage across India with a plan to find themselves and bond with each other -- to become brothers again like they used to be. Their "spiritual quest", however, veers rapidly off-course (due to events involving over-the-counter pain killers, Indian cough syrup, and pepper spray), and they eventually find themselves stranded alone in the middle of the desert with eleven suitcases, a printer, and a laminating machine. At this moment, a new, unplanned journey suddenly begins. Another delightful personal dramedy from the director of "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," "The Royal Tenenbaums," "Rushmore" and "Bottle Rocket."
Director: Wes Anderson. Stars: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Amara Karan, Wallace Wolodarsky, Waris Ahluwalia, Barbet Schroeder, Camilla Rutherford, Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 91 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $11.175 million, Fox. Available: 2/26.
DEATH AT A FUNERAL
A dignified send-off for a loved one erupts into chaos when romance, jealousy, in-laws, hallucinogens, dark secrets, life-long yearnings and a spot of bold blackmail all collide in this irreverent British comedy. On the morning of their father's funeral, the family and friends of the deceased each arrive with his or her own roiling anxieties. Son Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen) knows he will have to face his flirty, blow-hard, famous-novelist brother Robert (Rupert Graves) who's just flown in from New York, not to mention the promises of a new life he's made to his wife Jane (Keely Hawes). Meanwhile, Daniel's cousin Martha (Daisy Donovan) and her dependable new fiance Simon (Alan Tudyk) are desperate to make a good impression on Martha's uptight father -- a plan that literally goes out the window when Simon accidentally ingests a designer drug en route to the service, leaving him prone to uncontrollable bouts of delirium and nudity in front of his potential in-laws. Then comes the real shocker: a mysterious guest (Peter Dinklage) who threatens to unveil an earth-shattering family secret. As riotous mayhem and unfortunate mishaps ensue on every front, it is now up to the two brothers to hide the truth from their family and friends and figure out how to not only bury their dearly beloved, but the secret he's been keeping.
Director: Frank Oz. Stars: Matthew Macfayden, Rupert Graves, Peter Dinklage, Alan Tudyk, Daisy Donovan, Kris Marshall, Andy Nyman, Jane Asher. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 91 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $8.545 million, MGM. Available: 2/21.
ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE
Reprising the roles they originated in "Elizabeth," Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush return for a gripping historical thriller laced with treachery and romance. Joining them is Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh, a dashing seafarer and newfound temptation for Elizabeth. "The Golden Age" finds Queen Elizabeth I (Blanchett) facing bloodlust for her throne and familial betrayal. Growing keenly aware of the changing religious and political tides of late-16th century Europe, Elizabeth finds her rule openly challenged by the Spanish King Philip II (Jordi Molla) -- with his powerful army and sea-dominating armada -- determined to restore England to Catholicism. Preparing to go to war to defend her empire, Elizabeth struggles to balance ancient royal duties with an unexpected vulnerability in her love for Raleigh. But he remains forbidden for a queen who has sworn body and soul to her country. Unable and unwilling to pursue her love, Elizabeth encourages her favorite lady-in-waiting, Bess (Abbie Cornish), to befriend Raleigh to keep him near. But this strategy forces Elizabeth to observe their growing intimacy. As she charts her course abroad, her trusted advisor, Sir Francis Walsingham (Rush), continues his masterful puppetry of Elizabeth's court at home -- and her campaign to solidify absolute power. Through an intricate spy network, Walsingham uncovers an assassination plot that could topple the throne. But as he unmasks traitors that may include Elizabeth's own cousin Mary Stuart (Samantha Morton), he unknowingly sets England up for destruction.
Director: Shekhar Kapur. Stars: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Samantha Morton, Abbie Cornish. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 114 min., Historical Drama, Box office gross: $16.264 million, Universal. Available: 2/5.
FEAST OF LOVE
In a coffee shop in a tight-knit Oregon community, a local professor and writer, Harry Stevenson (Morgan Freeman), witnesses love and attraction as he whips up mischief among the town's residents. Among young and old, among both parents and lovers, among the sweet and the savage, among humans and even animals, Harry watches in awe as love mystifies, wounds, devastates, inspires, makes unreasonable demands and profoundly shapes the lives of everyone around him -- including himself. From the die-hard romantic coffee shop owner Bradley (Greg Kinnear) who has a serial habit of looking for love in all the wrong places, including with his current wife Kathyrn (Selma Blair); to the edgy real estate agent Diana (Radha Mitchell) who is caught up in an affair with a married man (Billy Burke) with whom she shares an ineffable connection; to the beautiful young newcomer Chloe (Alexa Davalos) who defies fate in romancing the troubled Oscar (Toby Hemingway); to Harry himself, whose adoring wife (Jane Alexander) is looking to break through his wall of grief after the wrenching loss of a loved one. All of these strands intertwine into one love story in which no one can escape being bent, befuddled, delighted and ultimately redeemed by love's inescapable spell.
Director: Robert Benton. Stars: Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Radha Mitchell, Jane Alexander, Alexa Davalos, Toby Hemingway, Selma Blair, Stana Katic, Billy Burke, Fred Ward, Erika Marozsan. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 102 min., Romantic Drama, Box office gross: $3.497 million, MGM. Available: 2/5.
GONE BABY GONE
Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane ("Mystic River"), tells the story of two private investigators hunting for an abducted 4-year-old girl in the seamiest side of Boston's underworld. An auspicious and well-done feature-film directorial start for Ben Affleck.
Director: Ben Affleck. Stars: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, John Ashton. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 114 min., Mystery Thriller, Box office gross: $19.964 million, Miramax. Available: 2/12.
IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH
On his first weekend back after serving in Iraq, Mike Deerfield (Jonathan Tucker) goes missing and is reported AWOL. When Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones), a former military MP and his wife Joan (Susan Sarandon) get the phone call with the disturbing news, Hank sets out to search for their son. Emily Sanders (Charlize Theron), a police detective in the jurisdiction where Mike was last seen, reluctantly helps him in his search. As the evidence grows, her missing person's case begins to look more and more like foul play, and soon Sanders finds herself in a fight with the military brass as she and Hank struggle to keep control of the investigation. But when the truth about Mike's time in Iraq finally begins to emerge, Hank's entire world is challenged and he's forced to reevaluate long-held beliefs to solve the mystery behind his son's disappearance.
Director: Paul Haggis. Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon, James Franco, Frances Fisher, Tim McGraw, Jason Patric, Mehcad Brooks, Wes Chatham. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 129 min., Drama, Box office gross: $6.757 million, Warner. Available: 2/19.
JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB, THE
As five women and one enigmatic man meet to discuss the works of Jane Austen, they find their love lives playing out in a 21st century version of her novels. Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) is shocked when her husband Daniel (Jimmy Smits) leaves her after 20 plus years and three children. Jocelyn (Maria Bello), her unmarried best friend, distracts herself from her unacknowledged loneliness by breeding dogs. Prudie (Emily Blunt) is a young French teacher, in possession of a worthy husband yet distracted by persistent fantasies about sex with another man. The many-times married Bernadette (Kathy Baker) develops a yearning for one more chance at happiness. Beautiful, risk-taking Allegra (Maggie Grace), Sylvia and Daniel's lesbian daughter, has quit talking to her lover. And Grigg (Hugh Dancy), a young science fiction fan and computer whiz, seems both horribly out of place and obliviously at ease as the only man to be invited into the book circle.
Director: Robin Swicord. Stars: Kathy Baker, Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace, Hugh Dancy, Jimmy Smits. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 106 min., Romantic Drama, Box office gross: $3.546 million, Sony. Available: 2/5.
Based on a short story by famed Chinese writer Eileen Chang, about a group of patriotic students who plot to assassinate the intelligence chief in the Japanese-backed Chinese government just before World War II. The story begins in Shanghai, in 1942. The World War II Japanese occupation of this Chinese city continues in force. Mrs. Mak, a woman of sophistication and means, walks into a cafe, places a phone call, and then sits and waits. She remembers how her story began several years earlier, in 1938 China. She is not in fact Mrs. Mak, but shy Wong Chia Chi (Tang Wei). With WWII almost underway, Wong has been left behind by her father, who has escaped to England. As a freshman at the university, she meets fellow student Kuang Yu Min (Wang Leehom). Kuang has started a drama society to shore up patriotism. As the theater troupe's new leading lady, Wong realizes that she has found her calling, able to move and inspire audiences -- and Kuang. He convenes a core group of students to carry out a radical and ambitious plan to assassinate a top Japanese collaborator, Mr. Yee (Tony Leung). Each student has a part to play; Wong will be Mrs. Mak, who will gain Yee's trust by befriending his wife (Joan Chen) and then draw the man into an affair. Wong transforms herself utterly inside and out, and the scenario proceeds as scripted -- until an unexpectedly fatal twist spurs her to flee. Flash forward to Shanghai, 1941. With no end in sight for the occupation, Wong -- having emigrated from Hong Kong -- goes through the motions of her existence. Much to her surprise, Kuang re-enters her life. Now part of the organized resistance, he enlists her to again become Mrs. Mak in a revival of the plot to kill Yee, who as head of the collaborationist secret service has become even more a key part of the puppet government. As Wong reprises her earlier role, and is drawn ever closer to her dangerous prey, she finds her very identity being pushed to the limit. From the man who brought you "Brokeback Mountain."
Comic drama stars John Cusack as a recently widowed science fiction writer who adopts a young boy who claims to be from Mars. But the new father ignores some sage advice about the perils of parenthood from his sister and gets more than he bargained for when a series of strange occurrences lead him to believe the child's claim may be true. Based on an award-winning short story by sci-fi luminary David Gerrold.
Director: Menno Meyjes. Stars: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Bobby Coleman, Sophie Okonedo, Joan Cusack, Oliver Platt, Bobby Coleman. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 108 min., Family, Box office gross: $7.435 million, New Line. Available: 2/12.
MARGOT AT THE WEDDING
Quirky comedy about family dynamics and the odd ways we express love for each other. Honest and often humorous look at two sisters who are each other's best friend -- which may be their biggest problem. On the eve of her estranged sister Pauline's (Jennifer Jason Leigh) wedding to an unemployed musician-artist-depressive (Jack Black), Margot (Nicole Kidman) and her son Claude show up unexpectedly at the family seaside home to rekindle the sisterly bond and offer her own brand of "support." What ensues is a nakedly honest and subversively funny look at family neuroses, secrets and inescapable bonds. Directed by Noah Baumbach, whose previous outings "Kicking and Screaming" and "The Squid and the Whale" were critical successes.
Director: Noah Baumbach. Stars: Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Black, Zane Pais, Ciarán Hinds, Flora Cross. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 92 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.865 million, Paramount. Available: 2/21.
Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is an in-house "fixer" at one of the largest corporate law firms in New York. At the behest of the firm's co-founder Marty Bach (Sydney Pollack), Clayton, a former prosecutor from a family of cops, takes care of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen's dirtiest work. Clayton cleans up clients' messes, handling anything from hit-and-runs and damaging stories in the press to shoplifting wives and crooked politicians. Though burned out and hardly content with his job as a fixer, his divorce, a failed business venture and mounting debt have left Clayton inextricably tied to the firm. At the agrochemical company U/North, the career of in-house chief counsel Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) rests on the settlement of the suit that Kenner, Bach & Ledeen is leading to a seemingly successful conclusion. When the firm's top litigator, the brilliant Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), has an apparent breakdown and tries to sabotage the entire case, Marty Bach sends Michael Clayton to tackle this unprecedented disaster and, in doing so, Clayton comes face to face with the reality of who he has become -- and puts his own life in danger.
Director: Tony Gilroy. Stars: George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Sydney Pollack, Pamela Gray. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 119 min., Drama, Box office gross: $38.733 million, Warner. Available: 2/19.
Master chef Kate Armstrong (Catherine Zeta-Jones) lives her life like she runs her kitchen at trendy Manhattan eatery 22 Bleecker -- with a no-nonsense intensity that both captivates and intimidates everyone around her. Kate's perfectionist nature is put to the test when she "inherits" her 9-year-old niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin), while contending with a brash new sous-chef who joins her staff. High-spirited and freewheeling, Nick Palmer (Aaron Eckhart) couldn't be more different from Kate, yet the chemistry between them is undeniable. As the weeks progress, Kate is not sure what steams her more -- that Nick's talent scores big points with 22 Bleecker's owner, Paula (Patricia Clarkson) and its discriminating clientele, or that his easygoing charm quickly wins over the shy Zoe, who finds it easier to open up to him than to her aunt. Rivalry becomes romance, but Kate will have to learn to express herself beyond the realm of her kitchen if she wants to connect with Zoe and find true happiness with Nick.
Director: Scott Hicks. Stars: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, Jenny Wade, Bob Balaban. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 103 min., Romantic Comedy, Box office gross: $43.052 million, Warner. Available: 2/12.
A multi-layered story line interweaves the tale of an Egyptian-born chemical engineer whose family emigrated to the States in the mid 1980s and who is shipped off for interrogation after he is deemed a political prisoner in our post-9/11 world; the story of a CIA analyst based in Cairo who finds his world spinning out of control after he witnesses the man's interrogation by the Egyptian secret police; and the pregnant American wife of the kidnapped man whose attempts to get the U.S. government to help her falls on deaf ears.
Director: Gavin Hood. Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, Alan Arkin, Peter Sarsgaard, Christian Martin. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $9.283 million, New Line. Available: 2/19.
30 DAYS OF NIGHT
Producer Sam Raimi ("Spider-Man") brings audiences the terrifying thriller "30 Days of Night," set in the isolated town of Barrow, Alaska, in the extreme northern hemisphere, which is plunged into complete darkness annually for an entire month. When most of the inhabitants head south for the winter, a mysterious group of strangers appear: bloodthirsty vampires, ready to take advantage of the uninterrupted darkness to feed on the town's residents. As the night wears on, Barrow's Sheriff Eben (Josh Hartnett), his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George), and an ever-shrinking group of survivors must do anything they can to last until daylight.
Director: David Slade. Stars: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Manu Bennett. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 113 min., Horror, Box office gross: $39.568 million, Sony. Available: 2/26.
2 DAYS IN PARIS
A Parisian getaway becomes anything but romantic for a high-strung New York couple: Marion (Julie Delpy) is a French photographer and Jack (Adam Goldberg) is an American interior designer who attempt to re-infuse their relationship with romance by taking a vacation in Europe. After a less than idyllic vacation in Italy, they stop off in Paris for two days. But in the City of Lights, Jack has to deal with a new language, a crazily unfamiliar culture, meeting Marion's sexually frank and permissive family, and a bevy of flirtatious ex-boyfriends. Jack and Marion begin to see each other in a different, less appealing light as the cultural divide between them grows. Will these two days in Paris be Jack and Marion's last days as a couple, or will they be the beginning of a new, richer life together?
WE OWN THE NIGHT
Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) is the popular manager of El Caribe, the legendary Russian-owned nightclub in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach. For Bobby, every night is a party as he greets friends and customers or dances with his beautiful Puerto Rican girlfriend, Amada Juarez (Eva Mendes), in a haze of cigarette smoke and disco music. But it's 1988, and New York City's drug trade is escalating. He has changed his last name and concealed his connection to a long line of prominent New York police officers. Bobby tries to keep his distance from a Russian gangster operating out of the nightclub -- a gangster also targeted by his brother, Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg), an up-and-coming NYPD officer, and his father, Burt Grusinsky (Robert Duvall), the legendary deputy chief of police.
Director: James Gray. Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Robert Duvall, Eva Mendes, Tony Musante. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 117 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $27.648 million, Sony. Available: 2/12.
WHY DID I GET MARRIED?
A big-screen adaptation of Tyler Perry's hit stage play, "Why Did I Get Married" is an intimate story about the difficulty of maintaining a solid love relationship in modern times by looking at four couples on vacation struggling with issues of commitment, betrayal, redemption and the road to forgiveness. When eight married college friends reunite for their annual retreat in the snowcapped mountains of Colorado, they come expecting fun and relaxation, but get a completely unexpected surprise. Career-drive Dianne (Sharon LeaL) and her supportive, but fed-up husband, Terry (Tyler Perry) are joined by popular psychologist and best-selling author Patricia (Janet Jackson) and her architect husband Gavin, (Malik Yoba), who share a secret tragedy that finally comes to light, while Angela (Tasha Smith) and Marcus (Michael Jai White) argue constantly, but remain in love. Also in attendance is their good friend Sheila, (Jill Scott) a sweet woman with a distorted self-image stemming from weight issues that are exacerbated by her emotionally abusive and philandering husband, Mike (Richard T. Jones). Unlike any other year, this trip changes the dynamic of the group with two new additions: Sheila's supposed girlfriend, Trina (Denise Boutte), who is secretly sleeping with her husband; and Troy (Lamman Rucker), an ex-Wall Street stockbroker who has put his career on hold to care for an ailing father. Nothing could create more drama then placing these 19 people in a secluded cabin for a long weekend with all of the dirty laundry waiting to come out. Everybody's asking "Why Did I Get Married?"
Director: Tyler Perry. Stars: Tyler Perry, Janet Jackson, Sharon Leal, Jill Scott, Tasha Smith, Malik Yoba, Richard T. Jones, Michael Jai White, Denise Boutte, Lamman Rucker. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min., Comedy Drama, Box office gross: $55.184 million, Lionsgate. Available: 2/12.
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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February 1, 2008