OnVideo: JANUARY's Top Movies
ADAMRomantic comedy about a charming, handsome autistic guy who falls in love with a brainy, beautiful teacher. In this romantic comedy, Hugh Dancy stars as Adam, a handsome but intriguing young man who has all his life led a sheltered existence -- until he meets his new neighbor, Beth, a beautiful, cosmopolitan young woman who pulls him into the outside world, with funny, touching and entirely unexpected results. Their implausible and enigmatic relationship reveals just how far two people from different realities can stretch in search of an extraordinary connection.
Director: Max Mayer. Stars: Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher, Amy Irving, Frankie Faison. Four-week rental window before sell-through. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 99 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $2.277 million, Fox.Available: 1/5.
BOYS ARE BACK, THEThe death of his wife leaves wisecracking sportswriter Joe Warr (Clive Owen) with a curious six year-old (Nicholas McAnulty) and a rebellious teen from a previous marriage (George MacKay) to bring up in a household devoid of feminine influence. So Joe takes on parenting the only way he knows how: full throttle. With an exuberance born of necessity, he teaches his boys to meet the joy and fragility of life head on.
Director: Scott Hicks Stars: Clive Owen, Laura Fraser,, Emma Booth, George MacKay, Nicholas McAnulty. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 104 min., Melodrama, Box office gross: $.809 million, Miramax. Available: 1/26.
BRIGHT STARSet during the heart of the British Romantic movement in the 19th century and based on the true life love story of the three-year romance between wistful poet John Keats and the clever Fanny Brawne. In London in 1818 a secret love affair begins between 23-year-old English poet John Keats and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne, an outspoken student of fashion. This unlikely duo started at odds: he thought her a stylish minx, she was unimpressed by literature in general. But when Keats's younger brother falls ill, John and Fanny are drawn together. Keats, touched by Fanny's efforts to help care for his brother, agrees to teach her poetry. By the time Fanny's alarmed mother and Keats's best friend Charles Armitage Brown realized the lovers' attachment, the relationship had an unstoppable momentum. Intensely and helplessly absorbed in each other, they were swept into powerful new sensations: "I have the feeling as if I were dissolving," Keats wrote to her. Together they rode a wave of romantic obsession that deepened as their troubles mounted. And only Keats's own fatal illness proved insurmountable.
Director: Jane Campion. Stars: Ben Whishaw, Abbie Cornish, Thomas Sangster, Paul Schneider, Samuel Barnett, Kerry Fox, Roger Ashton-Griffiths. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 119 min., Romance, Box office gross: $4.341 million, Fox. Available: 1/26.
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLSWhen Flint Lockwood's latest contraption accidentally destroys the town square and rockets up into the clouds, he thinks his inventing career is over. Then, something amazing happens as delicious cheeseburgers start raining from the sky. His machine actually works! But when people greedily ask for more and more food, the machine starts to run amok, unleashing spaghetti tornadoes and giant meatballs that threaten the world. Now it's up to Flint with the help of weather girl Sam Sparks and Steve, his talking monkey assistant, to find some way to shut down the machine before the world is covered in super-sized meatballs.
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller. Stars: Voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Mr.T, Neil Patrick Harris. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 90 min., Animated, Box office gross: $118.604 million, Sony. Available: 1/5.
DEPARTURESDaigo Kobayashi -- a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved -- decides to move back to his hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled "Departures" thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a "Nokanshi" or "encoffineer," a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of "Nokanshi," acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living. In Japanese with English subtitles. Won the 2009 Oscar for Best Foreign-Language film.
Director: Yojiro Takita. Stars: Masahiro Motoki, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ryoko Hirosue, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Kimiko Yo, Takashi Sasano. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 130 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.490 million, E1 Entertainment. Available: 1/12.
FAMEContemporary remake of the 1980 fan-favorite. Follows a crew of dancers, singers, actors and artists over four years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts. A diverse, creative powerhouse, the school offers students from all walks of life a chance to live out their dreams and achieve real and lasting fame ... the kind that comes only from talent, dedication, and hard work. In an incredibly competitive atmosphere, students, mentored by the best and toughest teachers, strive for their moment in the spotlight and find out who amongst them has what is takes to succeed.
Director: Kevin Tancharoen. Stars: Naturi Naughton, Asher Book, Kristy Flores, Paul Iacono, Paul McGill, Kay Panabaker, Kherington Payne, Collins Pennie, Walter Perez, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Debbie Allen, Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Gramme, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 107 min., Drama-Musical, Box office gross: $22.452 million, MGM. Available: 1/12.
THE FINAL DESTINATION 3DFourth outing in the popular series -- this time in 3-D. On what should have been a fun-filled day at the races, Nick O'Bannon has a horrific premonition in which a bizarre sequence of events causes multiple race cars to crash, sending flaming debris into the stands, brutally killing his friends and causing the upper deck of the stands to collapse on him. When he comes out of this grisly nightmare, Nick panics, persuading his girlfriend, Lori, and their friends, Janet and Hunt, to leave ... escaping seconds before Nick's frightening vision becomes a terrible reality. Thinking they've cheated death, the group has a new lease on life, but unfortunately for Nick and Lori, it is only the beginning. As his premonitions continue and the crash survivors begin to die one-by-one -- in increasingly gruesome ways -- Nick must figure out how to cheat death once and for all before he, too, reaches his final destination.
Director: David Ellis. Stars: Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Krista Allen, Mykelti Williamson, Haley Webb, Nick Zano, Andrew Fiscella, Richard T. Jones. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 82 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $66.372 million, Warner. Available: 1/5.
GAMERSci-fi thriller set in a near future when gaming and entertainment have evolved into a terrifying new hybrid. Humans control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online games: people play people ... for keeps. Mind-control technology is widespread, and at the heart of the controversial games is its creator, reclusive billionaire Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall). His latest brainchild -- the first-person shooter game "Slayers" -- allows millions to act out their most savage fantasies online in front of a global audience, using real prisoners as avatars with whom they fight to the death. Kable (Gerard Butler) is the superstar and cult hero of the ultraviolent game. Kable is controlled by Simon, a young gamer with rock star status who continues to defy all odds by guiding Kable to victory each week. Taken from his family, imprisoned and forced to fight against his will, the modern day gladiator must survive long enough to escape the game to free his family, regain his identity and to save mankind from Castle's ruthless technology.
Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor. Stars: Gerard Butler, Kyra Sedgwick, Michael C. Hall, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, John Leguizamo, Amber Valletta, Terry Crews, Logan Lerman, Johnny Whitworth, Zoe Bell. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $20.534 million, Lionsgate. Available: 1/19.
HALLOWEEN IIPicks up at the exact moment that 2007's "Halloween" remake stopped and follows the aftermath of Michael Myers's (Tyler Mane) murderous rampage through the eyes of heroine Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor Compton). It's that time of year again, and Michael Myers has returned home to sleepy Haddonfield, Illinois to take care of some unfinished family business. Unleashing a trail of terror, Myers will stop at nothing to bring closure to the secrets of his twisted past. But the town's got an unlikely new hero, if they can only stay alive long enough to stop the unstoppable.
Director: Rob Zombie. Stars: Scout Taylor Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Danielle Harris, Sheri Moon Zombie, Tyler Mane. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 101 min., Horror, Box office gross: $33.268 million, Sony. Available: 1/12.
THE HURT LOCKER"The Hurt Locker," winner of the 2008 Venice Film Festival SIGNIS Grand Prize and a favorite among the many film critic groups as the best film of the year, is a riveting, suspenseful portrait of the courage under fire of the military's unrecognized heroes: the technicians of a bomb squad who volunteer to challenge the odds and save lives in one of the world's most dangerous places. Three members of the Army's elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal(EOD) squad battle insurgents and each other as they search for and disarm a wave of roadside bombs on the streets of Baghdad -- in order to try and make the city a safer place for Iraqis and Americans alike. Their mission is clear -- protect and save -- but it's anything but easy, as the margin of error when defusing a war-zone bomb is zero.
In the summer of 2004, Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) of Bravo Company are at the volatile center of the war, part of a small counterforce specifically trained to handle the homemade bombs, or Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), that account for more than half of American deaths and have killed thousands of Iraqis. The job, a high-pressure, high-stakes assignment, which soldiers volunteer for, requires a calm intelligence that leaves no room for mistakes, as they learn when they lose their team leader on a routine mission. When Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) cheerfully takes over the team, Sanborn and Eldridge are shocked by what seems like his reckless disregard for military protocol and basic safety measures. And yet, in the fog of war, appearances are never reliable for long. Is James really a swaggering cowboy who lives for peak experiences and the moments when the margin of error is zero -- or is he a consummate professional who has honed his esoteric craft to high-wire precision? As the fiery chaos of Baghdad threatens to engulf them, the men struggle to understand and contain their mercurial new leader long enough for them to make it home. They have only 38 days left in their tour, but with each new mission comes another deadly encounter, and as James blurs the line between bravery and bravado, it seems only a matter of time before disaster strikes.
Director: Kathryn Bigelow. Stars: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Ralph Finnes, Guy Pearce. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min., War Action, Box office gross: $11.595 million, Summit Entertainment. Available: 1/12.
IN THE LOOPThe run-up to war makes for curious rivalries and uneasy alliances in this political satire. Simon Foster is a minor minister of international development with the British government who, in the midst of a radio interview, casually tells a reporter "war is unforeseeable." However, the prime minister is being pressured to commit British troops to support American forces in the Middle East, and communications director Malcolm Tucker goes into a tirade when the press turns Foster's passing comment into a major news story. Foster becomes an unwitting media figure, and he and his personal communications director, Judy, are joined by political damage control expert Toby as they're sent to Washington to meet with American political and military leaders. Despite Judy's and Toby's help, Foster displays a stubborn inability to say what he's supposed to, and he finds himself caught in the middle between pro-war factions -- including diplomat Karen Clarke and State Department official Linton Barwick -- and those who oppose the conflict, including Pentagon attache General Miller and activist Liza. As if matters weren't already complicated enough, Liza used to date Toby when they were college students, and Gen. Miller was once involved with Clarke, adding bitter romantic history to an already rocky playing field.
Director: Armando Iannucci. Stars: Peter Capaldi, James Gandolfini, Tom Hollander, David Rasche, Gina McKee, Anna Chlumsky, Chris Addison. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 106 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $2.384 million, IFC Films. Available: 1/12.
INVENTION OF LYING, THEFrom Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator and star of the original BBC series "The Office" and HBO's "Extras." Romantic comedy takes place in an alternate reality where lying --even the concept of a lie -- does not exist. Everyone -- from politicians to advertisers to the man and woman on the street -- speaks the truth and nothing but the truth with no thought of the consequences. But when a down-on-his-luck loser named Mark suddenly develops the ability to lie, he finds that dishonesty has its rewards. In a world where every word is assumed to be the absolute truth, Mark easily lies his way to fame and fortune. But lies have a way of spreading, and Mark begins to realize that things are getting a little out of control when some of his tallest tales are being taken as, well, gospel. With the entire world now hanging on his every word, there is only one thing Mark has not been able to lie his way into: the heart of the woman he loves.
Director: Ricky Gervais, Matt Robinson. Stars: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., John Hodgman, Tina Fey, Christopher Guest, Jeffrey Tambor, Nate Corddry, Patrick Stewart, Jason Bateman. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 99 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $18.339 million, Warner. Available: 1/19.
MICHAEL JACKSON'S THIS IS ITOffers Jackson fans and music lovers worldwide a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts that would have taken place beginning this summer in London's O2 Arena. Chronicling the months from April through June, 2009, the film is drawn from more than 100 hours of behind-the-scenes footage, featuring Jackson rehearsing a number of his songs for the show. Viewers are given a privileged and private look at the singer, dancer, filmmaker, architect, and genius as he creates and perfects his final show. Both the standard DVD and Blu-ray Disc are loaded with bonus features.
MOONSam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is nearing the completion of his three-year-long contract with Lunar Industries, mining Earth's primary source of energy on the dark side of the Moon. Alone with only the base's vigilant computer, Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey), as his sole companion, Bell's extended isolation has taken its toll. The only link to the outside world comes from satellite messages from his wife and young daughter. He longs to return home but a terrible accident on the lunar surface leads to a disturbing discovery that contributes to his growing sense of paranoia and dislocation so many miles away from home.
Director: Duncan Jones. Stars: Sam Rockwell, Kaya Scodelario, Benedict Wong, Matt Berry, Malcolm Stewart, Dominique McElligott, voice of Kevin Spacey. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 97 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $4.984 million, Sony. Available: 1/12.
PANDORUMTwo astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. It's pitch black, they're disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the ship. They can?t remember anything: Who are they? What is their mission? With Lt. Payton (Dennis Quaid) staying behind to guide him via radio transmitter, Cpl. Bower (Ben Foster) ventures deep into the ship and begins to uncover a terrifying reality. Slowly the spacecraft's shocking, deadly secrets are revealed?and the astronauts find their own survival is more precarious than they could ever have imagined.
Director: Christian Alvart. Stars: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Norman Reedus, Cam Gigandet. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 108 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $10.306 million, Anchor Bay Entertainment. Available: 1/19.
POST GRADWhen her carefully constructed life begins to unravel, an aspiring book editor wonders if she'll ever live up to her own high expectations. Ryden Malby has a master plan: Graduate college, get a great job, hang out with her best friend and find the perfect guy. But her plan spins out of control when she's forced to move back home with her eccentric family. By the time she lands her dream job, she realizes it's meaningless without the man of her dreams ... and the people she loves.
Director: Vicky Jenson. Stars: Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Bobby Coleman, Carol Burnett. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 120 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $6.373 million, Fox. Available: 1/12.
ST. TRINIAN'SBased on the popular drawings of "The Girls of St. Trinian's" by Ronald Searle, and following the hit film series of the 1950's and 60's about an anarchic school for "young ladies" who are really a motley crew of ungovernable girls. Despite being an old flame of its headmistress , the new Education Minister is shaking things up and the school is facing financial ruin. But the students of St. Trinian's decide they're not going to give up without a fight: these girls excel at chaos and attitude, not chemistry and algebra, and that's exactly what it's going to take to beat the authorities before they close down the beloved school for good.
Director: Oliver Parker, Barnaby Thompson. Stars: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Lena Headey, Russell Brand, Mischa Barton. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $24.847 million, Sony. Available: 1/26.
SURROGATESFBI agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) lives in a world where robotic surrogates stand in for people, protecting them from violence, disease and the appearance of aging. These picture perfect, real-life avatars -- ?fit, good-looking, remotely controlled machines that assume their operator's life role -- ?enable the population to experience life vicariously from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Greer and his partner, Agent Peters (Radha Mitchell), are called in to probe the mysterious death of a college student, whose life ended when his surrogate was destroyed. When Greer's surrogate is damaged in the investigation, he ventures out of his apartment for the first time in decades. In a world of masks, Greer must decide who is real and who can be trusted. Based on the enormously popular graphic novel created by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele
Director: Jonathan Mostow. Stars: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Francis Ginty, Michael Cudlitz with James Cromwell, Ving Rhames. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 88 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $38.255 million, Disney. Available: 1/26.
TYLER PERRY'S I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELFWhen Madea, America's favorite pistol-packing grandma, catches 16-year-old Jennifer and her two younger brothers looting her home, she decides to take matters into her own hands and delivers the young delinquents to the only relative they have: their aunt April. Initially wanting nothing to do with the kids, April learns along the way that she can change her old ways and become a better person. But it takes a lot of work and the help of a handsome Mexican immigrant who moves in with April to push her to change.
Director: Tyler Perry. Stars: Tyler Perry, Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige, Brian White, Hope Olaide Wilson, Adam Rodriguez, Kwesi Nii-Lante Boakye, Frederick Siglar. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $51.697 million, Lionsgate. Available: 1/12.
WHIP ITBliss Cavendar is a blue-haired misfit stuck in a tiny Texas town. Tired of following in her family's footsteps -- especially her ex-beauty queen mother, who wants her to be in pageants -- Bliss discovers a way to put her life on the fast track: She lands a spot on a rough-and-tumble roller derby team. Her journey comes full-circle as she reconnects with her family and finds her own path in the world.
Director: Drew Barrymore. Stars: Drew Barrymore, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Zoe Bell, Ellen Page, Daniel Stern. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 120 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $12.994 million, Fox. Available: 1/26.
WHITEOUTAfter two years stationed at Antarctica's South Pole research base, lone U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) is as anxious as anyone to be going home. She's turned in her resignation and is counting the hours and minutes to the last plane out. But three days before departure, a body turns up on the ice and Carrie is immediately thrust into Antarctica's first murder investigation. As the death toll mounts, the mystery deepens with shifting loyalties, deadly whiteouts, and a relentless killer who will stop at nothing to protect a secret buried for over sixty years. Now with everyone around her packing up and getting out, Carrie must solve the crime before Antarctica is plunged into six months of darkness and she is stranded with the killer on a land where nothing comes in and no one gets out.
Director: Dominic Sena. Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O'Loughlin. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 96 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $10.183 million, (Warner). Available: 1/19.
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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January 1, 2010