OnVideo JUNE Video Reviews
BEAUTIFUL MIND, A
Academy Award-winning, stirring bio-drama of the life of mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr., a genius diagnosed as a paranoid-schizophrenic at the peak of his career. In order to tell this intriguing story -- Nash eventually overcame his mental illness and went on to win a Nobel Prize -- Oscar-winning director Ron Howard creates whole scenes and story lines that appear to be part of the biography but turn out to be Nash's delusions. It's a nice touch but at times a tad disconcerting, and it drove some critics nuts (so to speak) for what they felt was cheating. Nevertheless, audiences loved this tale, which is part mystery (what caused the man to go over the edge?), part romance (Nash's wife -- played by Jennifer Connelly -- was central in nurturing him through his tough times), part sentimental tear-jerker. Towering over it all is Russell Crowe as Nash -- the film is, really, all about Nash, and it all comes together in Crowe's dominating performance. And despite the fake delusional sequences, this film is a text-book model of fine-tuned acting, music, cinematography, and directing.
Director: Ron Howard. Stars: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Paul Bettany, Adam Goldberg, Josh Lucas. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 135 min.), Drama, 2001, Box office gross: $170.000 million, (Universal), $14.95 VHS SRP, Available: 6/25, DVD: Day & Date.
BLACK HAWK DOWN
Harrowing true story of a group of elite American soldiers sent into Mogadishu, Somalia, in October, 1993, to abduct several top lieutenants of a Somalian warlord as part of a strategy to quell the civil war that was tearing the country apart (the U.N. peacekeeping effort was having a difficult time bringing order to the country). But two out of the four Black Hawk helicopters -- sent to provide cover for the assault force -- are shot down and what began as a "quickie" strike turned into a prolonged rescue mission. Before it was over, 18 Americans were dead and 73 were wounded. Young Rangers and veteran Delta Force soldiers fought side-by-side against overwhelming odds in one of the most fearsome firefights since Vietnam. While the film is true to the horrors of war, the lack of characterization and individualism in the story line makes it difficult to truly emphasize with any of the soldiers. Although for some, the gritty fighting and an amorphous us (as in U.S.) vs. them emotionalism will suffice to carry the film, particularly in this post-Sept. 11 world. On the spectacular DVD, helicopters swoop overhead and around the viewer, adding more verisimilitude to a soundtrack and image that is already frighteningly real. You can't help but be sucked into the action -- and though there's times when the viewer is totally disoriented as to the course of action (it's hard to tell exactly which group of soldiers are stranded and where, and who is rescuing whom), the fear of uncertainty and the pain of defeat are palpable. It's a stunning technical tour-de-force for Scott and crew.
Director: Ridley Scott. Stars: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, William Fichtner, Sam Shepard, Gabriel Casseus, Ron Eldard, Jeremy Piven. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 144 min.), War drama, 2001, Box office gross: $110.000 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/11, DVD: Day & Date.
Robert Altman's distinctively American take on British manners and society circa 1932 owes as much to his "Nashville" and "The Player" as to "Upstairs Downstairs," which has become the standard for the new breed of British comedy of manners. Here Altman and his gigantic ensemble cast (he would have it no other way) take on both the upper- and lower-crust in a bucolic country setting as Sir William McCordle and his wife host a weekend shooting party. Invited are a melange of guests ranging from family and friends to a matinee idol and a Hollywood producer. There's all sorts of deceits, power struggles and affairs, both among and between the denizens of the upstairs and downstairs (maids, foot men and all), culminating in a murder. There's so many subplots and overlapping events that you need a scorecard to keep track, but that's the beauty of Altman's work and this delightful and involving (and wonderfully well-acted) outing.
Director: Robert Altman. Stars: Michael Gambon, Kristen Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Charles Dance, Jeremy Northam, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Helen Mirren, Stephen Fry, Derek Jacobi, Emily Watson, Richard E. Grant, Ryan Phillippe. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 137 min.), Comedy, 2001, Box office gross: $41.000 million, (USA/Universal), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/25, DVD: Day & Date.
I AM SAM
Stirring melodrama about the trials and tribulations of a mentally retarded single father fighting to regain custody of his seven-year-old daughter. Sean Penn plays Sam, who has raised his daughter Lucy single-handedly despite his handicap. But one day -- through a set of implausible circumstances -- he's arrested on false charges and a social worker is called in to evaluate the situation. Naturally the child is whisked away, and it's up to the court to evaluate Sam on his ability to continue to raise Lucy. Sam, encouraged by his friends, seeks a lawyer to represent him and he comes across Rita Harrison (Michelle Pfeiffer), a high-powered attorney whose personal life is a shambles (she cares more about her work than her unloved, resentful son). Initially resistant, Rita takes the case pro bono. Now Sam and Rita must struggle to convince the system that Sam deserves to get his daughter back. Along the way Rita is transformed, of course, learning, from Sam and Lucy, the power of unconditional love.
Director: Jessie Nelson. Stars: Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dakota Fanning, Dianne Wiest, Loretta Devine, Richard Schiff, Laura Dern. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 134 min.), Drama, 2001, Box office gross: $40.000 million, (New Line), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/18, DVD: Day & Date.
KATE & LEOPOLD
Fluffy time travel romance about a 19th century English nobleman in New York whisked into the 21st century. Beginning in 1876, the film maps the predicament of Leopold (Hugh Jackman), an inventor with dwindling resources who has come to N.Y.C. to wed into money. At a grand ball Leopold sees a man in odd clothes with a small camera, gives chase and the two fall into a time portal into modern Manhattan. The odd-clothed man is Stuart, Leopold's great-great-grandson, who has discovered the means of time travel. Into this mix comes Kate (Meg Ryan), a high powered ad agency exec who lives directly below Stuart's apartment. Soured on modern men, Kate wants nothing to do with the visitor -- until his mannered ways and old-fashioned ideas about romance start to win her over. Much of the fun of the film derives from the juxtaposition of a 19th century man in the 21st century: Not only does Leopold have to adapt to his new surroundings, but the modern world has to make way for Leopold. This one's an innocuous way to while away an evening.
Director: James Mangold. Stars: Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Breckin Meyer, Natasha Lyonne, Bradley Whitford, Paxton Whitehead. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 123 min.), Romantic comedy, 2001, Box office gross: $46.849 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/4, DVD: Day & Date.
From the director of "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile" comes predictably sentimental and pat drama that stands out only for delivering a toned-down Jim Carrey. The year is 1951 and ambitious Hollywood screenwriter Peter Appleton (Carrey) is suddenly targeted as a suspected Communist. He loses his job and his girl in quick succession and then in a serious car accident, he's left with amnesia and loses his identity altogether. Stumbling into a charming small California town where he's mistaken for Luke Trimble, one of their many long lost World War II heroes, Peter meets Luke's beautiful girlfriend Adele (Laurie Holden). His "father" Harry (Martin Landau) reintroduces Peter to the life he led before the war, and they work together as father and son to restore and reopen The Majestic, the town's long abandoned movie palace. Though his true memory eventually returns, Peter falls in love with Adele, and he discovers the courage and the conviction to become the hero of his own life.
Director: Frank Darabont. Stars: Jim Carrey, Laurie Holden, Martin Landau, Bob Balaban, Alan Garfield. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 152 min.), Drama, 2001, Box office gross: $27.796 million, (Warner), $14.98 VHS SRP, Available: 6/18, DVD: Day & Date.
MAX KEEBLE'S BIG MOVE
Nerdy movie about a nerdy 12-year-old facing the rites of passage of his first year in junior high school. Alex D. Linz stars as Max Keeble, who faces several obstacles in his efforts to be cool on campus: his nerdy friends, the school bully, the principal (Larry Miller) out to get him and an evil ice cream man (Jamie Kennedy). When Max's parents tell him they're going to move, Max seizes the opportunity to turn the tables on his foes and with his friends begins a week-long all-out retaliation. But just when things are looking up for the reinvigorated Max, his parents inform him that they're not going to move after all, and Max must now face the consequences of his actions. Mean-spirited humor that works as a kiddie revenge opus.
Director: Tim Hill. Stars: Alex D. Linz, Zena Grey, Josh Peck, Larry Miller, Jamie Kennedy, Orlando Brown, Amber Valletta, Robert Carradine, Nora Dunn, Noel Fisher. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 86 min.), Comedy, 2001, Box office gross: $17.268 million, (Buena Vista), $29.99 VHS SRP, Available: 6/18, DVD: Day & Date.
Hard-hitting Southern drama tempered by the redemptive story of a life-changing love. Billy Bob Thornton plays Hank Grotowski, an embittered second generation prison guard who works on Death Row at a Georgia penitentiary. By a twist of fate, he ends up having an affair with the widow (Halle Berry) of a condemned man who spent his last hours in the company of Hank and his son, Sonny (Heath Ledger), who also works on death row. There's plenty of coupling and soul-baring and adroit acting by all involved (and, of course, Berry won a best actress Oscar for her role). Boyle is right on as the bigoted, hateful family patriarch whose venom has poisoned his family, and Ledger is fine as the son hell-bent on getting out. A fine outing for Swiss filmmaker Marc Forster.
Director: Marc Forster. Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Peter Boyle, Heath Ledger, Sean Combs, Mos Def, Coronji Calhoun. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 108 min.), Drama, 2001, Box office gross: $30.000 million, (Lions Gate), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/11, DVD: Day & Date.
MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, THE
Lackluster supernatural thriller has Richard Gere starring as a journalist for the Washington Post whose wife is killed in a car accident just after "seeing" a man-sized moth-like entity fluttering nearby. Distraught by her death, Gere finds himself mysteriously drawn to a small West Virginia town where his car inexplicably strands him. Rescued by the sympathetic but skeptical local police sergeant (Laura Linney), Gere soon learns that many of the town's residents have been beset by bizarre events, including sightings of the eerie mothman. After further investigation and terrifying encounters with the creature, Gere becomes obsessed with the idea that this supernatural being can predict impending doom and is trying to warn the town. Is it a psychic delusion brought on by grief or can he convince Linney that there's a tragedy that can be averted? Based on a 1975 book based on the real collapse of the Ohio River Bridge in December 1967.
Director: Mark Pellington. Stars: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Will Patton, Devra Messing, Lucinda Jenney, Alan Bates. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 119 min.), Horror, 2002, Box office gross: $36.000 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/4, DVD: Day & Date.
Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks) is an Orange County, Calif., high-school teen who suddenly decides he wants to reassess his life after a friend's freak surfing accident. He trades in his hours at the beach for hours of studying and replaces surfing with classes. With a stellar GPA, excellent SAT scores and a long line of extracurricular activities, he's convinced he's a shoe-in for Stanford University. But when the letter finally arrives, he's not accepted. The reason: his high school counselor (Lily Tomlin) sent Stanford the wrong transcripts. With only 24 hours to set the record straight, and with no real help from his dysfunctional parents (Catherine O'Hara and John Lithgow), Shaun sets out on a comedic mission -- with some help from his girlfriend (Schuyler Fisk) and brother (Jack Black) -- to get his rightful acceptance into school. Innocuous teen comedy.
Director: Jake Kasdan. Stars: Colin Hanks, Jack Black, Schuyler Fisk, Lily Tomlin, Catherine O'Hara, John Lithgow. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 90 min.), Comedy, 2002, Box office gross: $41.000 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/18, DVD: Day & Date.
Very weak remake of the 1975 cult-classic that stared James Caan and was directed by Norman Jewison. Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein) is the newest recruit in the most extreme sport of all time -- Rollerball, a death-defying game that melds rollerskaters and motorcyclists in a no-holds-barred tourney of destruction on an enclosed track, with the goal being to capture a rolling steel ball and score a goal with it. Jonathan's fast moves and good looks make him an instant superstar on the Rollerball circuit, which takes place (unlike the original) in the present day, set in the rugged former Soviet republics. But his life in the fast lane collides with reality when he learns that the league's owner (Jean Reno in a nasty outing) is orchestrating serious on-court "accidents" to boost ratings. Now Jonathan and teammates Marcus (LL Cool J) and Aurora (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) plan to take down the owner and his ruthless sport before the game puts an end to them. Action-director John McTiernan has really dropped the ball, so to speak, on this one: there's zero character development, the action sequences are muddled, and the suspense non- existent. In a word, a boring, shell of a film. Expanded R-rated version.
Director: John McTiernan. Stars: Chris Klein, LL Cool J, Rebecca Romlin-Stamos, Jean Reno. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 99 min.), Science Fiction, 2002, Box office gross: $18.894 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/18, DVD: Day & Date.
The Farrelly brothers desert their gross out bathroom humor of previous outings ("There's Something About Mary") and here go for some humor based a bit higher up in the anatomy -- the heart. Well, almost. Jack Black plays a superficial skirt chaser interested in "supermodel babes" only. Stuck in an elevator one day with self-help guru Tony Robbins, Hal is "hypnotized" into seeing only the inner beauty in women and starts going after women who are gentle, friendly and sincere -- but not his typical centerfold prey. He finally meets the girl of his dreams -- Rosemary, who appears to Hal as a sinuous, gorgeous blonde (Gwyneth Paltrow) who is, in fact, a 300-pound woman. But Hal doesn't see that -- he only sees her inner beauty which, of course, gets him into all sorts of jams. Jason Alexander plays Hal's smarmy buddy Mauricio, who eggs him on to chase after babes and attempts to get Robbins to break the spell, resulting in the film's sentimental conclusion. There's plenty of fat jokes which, for the Farrellys, is an improvement -- well, sort of.
Director: Bobby and Peter Farrelly. Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jack Black, Jason Alexander, Joe Viterelli, Rene Kirby, Tony Robbins. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min.), Comedy, 2001, Box office gross: $98.467 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/4, DVD: Day & Date.
SHIPPING NEWS, THE
Story of one man's redemption, directed by Lasse ("The Cider House Rules") Hallstrom from E. Annie Proulx's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Kevin Spacey plays Quoyle, a newspaper worker in New York who has a self-esteem problem: not only does his parents abuse him but he's the butt of derision by his unfaithful wife (Cate Blanchett). An abrupt twist of fate allows Quoyle, along with his young daughter (played by the Gainer triplets), to move to his ancestral home in a small shipping community in New Foundland. There he takes a job as a reporter at the local newspaper and, with each article he writes, his sense of himself slowly returns. Along the way he begins to get a handle on the quirky community as well as learning to come to terms with his dark family history. And he even builds a tenuous relationship with another damaged soul, Wavey Prowse (Julianne Moore). As his new life unfolds in this Northern place of magic, beauty and hardship, his past melds with his present and Quoyle is transformed.
Director: Lasse Hallstrom. Stars: Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench, Scott Glenn, Rhys Ifans, Jason Behr, Gorodn Pinsent, Pete Postlethwaite, Cate Blanchett, Alyssa, Kaitlyn and Lauren Gainer. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 111 min.), Drama, 2001, Box office gross: $11.405 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/18, DVD: Day & Date.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Rotel RDV-1080 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.
| Contents/Site Map | Home | Resources | Calendar | Sell-Through | DVD | Reviews |
© 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 OnVideo. All rights reserved
May 15, 2002