OnVideo JUNE Video Reviews
ALONG CAME POLLY
Opposites-attract comedy with a tinge of dumb slapstick. Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) has made a fine life -- and a good career -- out of playing it safe. The star risk assessor for a leading insurance firm, Reuben is an expert on minimizing danger -- nothing ventured, nothing lost. Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston) plays her life like a game of chance, taking joy from the serendipity that a rolling stone existence brings her. There's always another opportunity -- a new job, yet another apartment in another city -- should this one not work out. So when a chance meeting puts Reuben and Polly at the same party, the recently (and extremely) jilted Reuben decides that for once, chance may just be on his side. But he doesn't count on indigestible food, scary children's stories, and a near-blind ferret Polly picked up in Italy.
Director: John Hamburg. Stars: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Debra Messing, Alec Baldwin, Hank Azaria, Bryan Brown, Michele Lee, Jsu Garcia. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 90 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $87.062 million, (Universal), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 6/8, DVD: Day & Date.
He's naughty, not nice, and he's coming to town. Billy Bob Thornton is Willie T. Stokes, a washed-up, wise-cracking department store Santa who can't help but be more naughty than nice. Underneath his ill-fitting red suit, Willie is actually a safecracker who makes one big score every Christmas Eve. As shoppers head home from the mall, this Santa and his ingenious Elf -- Willie's smaller partner-in-crime Marcus (Tony Cox) -- crack the store safe and make off with their holiday stash. But then comes Phoenix. Here Santa and his Elf find their annual heist endangered by a pesky store manager (John Ritter), a savvy mall detective (Bernie Mac), a sexy Santa fan (Lauren Graham) and an innocent but beleaguered 8 year-old misfit (Brett Kelly) who decides to believe that Willie -- as intoxicated, acid-tongued and felonious as he seems to be -- is the real Santa he's seeking.
Director: Terry Zwigoff. Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Brett Kelly, Lauren Tom, John Ritter, Bernie Mac. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 93 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $59.371 million, (Dimension), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 6/22, DVD: Day & Date.
BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS
In this sequel to the highly successful "Barbershop," Calvin (Ice Cube) has gotten over his money troubles and is no longer in danger of losing his shop -- but his neighborhood is in danger of losing its identity. Intent on "regentrifying" the South Side, a money-hungry corporation is moving into the community with coffee bars, video stores, and a big-name haircut chain, and the area's "mom and pop" establishments are in danger of losing their hometown advantage. While juggling changing situations, new loves, and looking for ways to better their lives, Calvin and his crew have to take a stand to keep the South Side and its businesses in the family. And of course, the crew still has time for its signature Barbershop discussions -- outrageous, explosive, and hilarious. The world changes and so do hairdos, but some things never go out of style -- you can still say anything at the barbershop.
Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan. Stars: Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Troy Garity, Michael Ealy, Leonard Earl Howze, Kenan Thompson, Harry Lennix, Queen Latifah. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 100 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $62.580 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/29, DVD: Day & Date.
CATCH THAT KID
Teen adventure film about a 12-year old girl who, with the help of two friends, robs the state-of-the-art bank, in order to acquire the cash needed for a costly operation to save her ailing father. The three close friends have special talents: a champion rock climber, a computer genius and a mechanical whiz specializing in go-carts. During the heist, the kids overcome high-tech security systems, guard dogs, and a nasty security chief to get to a bank vault suspended 100-feet above ground. Their plan is foolproof, their methods ingenius -- and they're not even old enough to drive.
Director: Bart Freundlich. Stars: Kristen Stewart, Corbin Bleu, Max Theiriot, Jennifer Beals, Sam Robards. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 92 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $16.625 million, (Fox), $19.98 VHS SRP, Available: 6/1, DVD: Day & Date.
CITY OF GOD
Hard-hitting story of crime and punishment inside the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Cidade de Deus is a poor Brazilian housing project born in the 1960s that -- as organized crime and drugs gained a foothold in the area -- became one of the most dangerous places in Rio. For its impoverished residents, laws are made not by the government but by the teenage drug barons and gang leaders who rule using fear and the very real threat of death. The film counts almost exclusively on the acting abilities of youngsters coming from the favelas, neighborhoods, around Rio. The narrator, Rocket, is a poor kid and scared to become an outlaw but also too smart to contend with an underpaid job. He discovers that he can see his surroundings with a different eye -- the eye of an artist. Then there is Lil Dice, a kid the same age who already dreams of being Rio's most dangerous criminal. There are dozens of intertwined stories here, of love, humor, and struggle, that reveal the people inside the favelas. In Portuguese with English subtitles. Nominated for an Academy Award.
Director: Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund. Stars: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Phellipe Haagensen, Douglas Silva, Jonathan Haagensen. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 130 min.), Drama, 2002, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/8, DVD: Day & Date.
Based on the best-selling book by Charles Frazier. Cold Mountain, a small North Carolina town, is torn apart as young men head off to join the Confederate army during the Civil War. The women left behind fight for survival, enduring rough winters, ruthless lawmen and emotional turmoil as they wait to hear word form their loved ones. Inman (Jude Law) is one of these young men who joins the army, at first out of loyalty to his country. He soon realizes the ravages of war no longer represent his values. Once injured, he takes the opportunity to flee the army and begins his long journey home on foot. Back at Cold Mountain is the beautiful Ada (Nicole Kidman), who vowed to wait for Inman but hasn't heard if he is still alive. Her letters go unanswered and she struggles to keep faith that he will return. As the war drags on, Ada takes in Ruby (Renee Zellweger), a lively neighbor who teaches her how to keep the farm going. By the end of the war, hearts will be dashed, dreams fulfilled and the strength of the human spirit tested but not broken. Zellweger won an Academy Award for her role.
Director: Anthony Minghella. Stars: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi, Donald Sutherland, Ray Winstone, Kathy Baker, James Gammon, Jk White. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 154 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $92.685 million, (Miramax), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 6/29, DVD: Day & Date.
Robert Altman takes a breathtaking look at the world of ballet as only Altman could envision it, bringing his fluid camera work to the world of dance. The authenticity and richness of "The Company" is rooted in the unprecedented way in which Altman shot the film: with the complete cooperation of the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. Joffrey dancers constitute the core of Altman's ensemble and screenwriter Barbara Turner spent over two years on and off with the Joffrey, observing and writing. Altman's vision for the film was an extremely intimate one: to show the difficult daily work, the intense pressures of performance, the richly textured behaviors of the dancers -- whose professional and personal lives grow impossibly close -- and of course the sheer beauty of dance: exhilarating, kinetic and thrillingly observed. Neve Campbell -- the only actor who worked as part of the Joffrey corps -- stars as a gifted company member on the verge of becoming the principal dancer at a fictional Chicago troupe. Campbell, an accomplished dancer, does all of her own dancing in the film and worked intensively with the Joffrey to prepare for her role.
Director: Robert Altman. Stars: Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell, James Franco. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 112 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $1.920 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/1, DVD: Day & Date.
Scotty Thomas (Scott Mechlowicz) and his Berlin-based computer pen pal Mieke (Jessica Boehrs) have been writing each other for years, sharing every detail of their lives. When Mieke makes a cyber pass at Scotty, he completely freaks out, thinking that this guy he's known for years is coming on to him ... in German no less. Too bad the one detail Scotty doesn't seem to know is that, in Germany, Mieke is a girl's name. By the time Scotty figures out that Mieke is a girl, and a hot one at that, Mieke has cut off her e-mail account and all contact with him. Thinking that this might be his one chance at true love -- even though he's never actually met the girl -- Scotty and his best friends, Cooper (Jacob Pitts) and the twins Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg) and Jamie (Travis Wester), embark on a raucous trip across Europe headed for Berlin. Along the way they must deal with British soccer hooligans, annoying French human robots, a merciless Dutch dominatrix (Lucy Lawless) and a creepy, lascivious Italian guy on the train. Their trek takes them from London to Paris to Amsterdam and Eastern Europe, exposing them "literally" to every lascivious, larcenous and lecherous indulgence Europe has to offer. A mildly agreeable comedy that does little to improve international relation(ships).
Director: Jeff Schaffer. Stars: Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts, Kristin Kreuk. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 96 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $16.944 million, (DreamWorks), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/1, DVD: Day & Date.
50 FIRST DATES
Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore star together for the first time since "The Wedding Singer" in this sloppy romantic comedy. Henry (Sandler) lives an enviable life in a Hawaiian paradise, spending every night with a beautiful tourist in search of an island fling. It's a sweet life with no strings attached ... until he meets Lucy (Barrymore). He and Lucy hit it off from the get-go, but the next day she acts like she doesn't know him. It turns out that Lucy has short-term memory loss so every night all memory of her day is erased. But a man in love will go to any lengths to win over the girl of his dreams, and if that means having to find imaginative ways of doing it over again every day, then Henry's up for the challenge. Good idea marred by some very silly slapstick schticks.
Director: Peter Segal. Stars: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider, Sean Astin, Dan Aykroyd. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 99 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $116.748 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/15, DVD: Day & Date.
In a revelatory performance, Charlize Theron stars in the shocking true-life story of Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute executed last year in Florida after being convicted of murdering six men. While Wuornos confessed to the six murders, including a policeman, she claimed to have killed only in self-defense, resisting violent assaults while working as a prostitute. Bravely burrowing beneath the tabloid headlines about America's first female serial killer -- and the media's sordid designation of Wuornos as an unrepentant monster -- in the midst of the horrors and pathologies, first-time writer-director Patty Jenkins unearths an unlikely love story between two misfits. Nearing suicidal despair, Wuornos wanders into a Florida bar, where she meets Selby Wall (Christina Ricci), a young woman sent by her parents to live with an aunt in order to "cure her homosexuality." Wuornos -- victim of a tragic, abusive upbringing -- quickly falls in love, and clings to Selby like a life preserver. Unable to find a legitimate job but desperate to sustain her relationship with Selby, Wuornos continues working as a prostitute. When one of her johns turns violent, Wuornos shoots the man in self-defense; the first in her tragic string of killings. Shot in many of the actual locations where Wuornos committed her crimes between 1989-90, "Monster" is at once a social commentary, road movie, and love story.
Director: Patty Jenkins. Stars: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern, Lee Tergesen, Pruitt Taylor Vince. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 109 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $34.000 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/1, DVD: Day & Date.
Director: Cheryl Dunye. Stars: Eddie Griffin, Anthony Anderson, Michael Imperioli, Paula Jai Parker, Joanna Bacalso, Bai Ling. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 99 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $17.321 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/1, DVD: Day & Date.
Clint Eastwood has crafted a gripping mystery punctuated by great performances and a wonderful jazz-inflected soundtrack. When they were kids growing up together in a rough section of Boston, Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) and Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon) spent their days playing stickball on the street, the way most boys did in their blue-collar neighborhood of East Buckingham. Nothing much ever happened in their neighborhood. That is, until Dave was forced to take the ride that would change all of their lives forever. Twenty-five years later, the three find themselves thrust back together by another life altering event -- the murder of Jimmy's 19-year-old daughter. Now a cop, Sean is assigned to the case and he and his partner (Laurence Fishburne) are charged with unraveling the seemingly senseless crime. They must also stay one step ahead of Jimmy, a man driven by an all consuming rage to find his daughter's killer. Connected to the crime by a series of circumstances, Dave is forced to confront the demons of his own past. Demons that threaten to destroy his marriage and any hope he may have for a future. As the investigation tightens around these three friends, an ominous story unfolds that revolves around friendship, family and innocence lost too soon. Penn won the Best Actor Oscar and Robbins won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for their riveting performances. On DVD, the film will be available as a single-disc sans frills and a three-disc set with extras, including the entire soundtrack album.
Director: Clint Eastwood. Stars: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gaye Harden, Laura Linney. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 137 min.), Mystery, 2003, Box office gross: $87.163 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/8, DVD: Day & Date.
PERFECT SCORE, THE
Six high school seniors begin to realize that the elaborate futures they had imagined for themselves lie in the hands of one test -- the dreaded SATs. Kyle (Chris Evans) and Matt (Bryan Greenberg) believe that the only way they will do well on the exam and secure their futures is to steal the answers. Like most high school rumors, word spreads quickly about the guys'plan and soon Desmond, the high school's star basketball player (Darius Miles) along with Francesca (Scarlett Johansson) and Anna (Erika Christensen) decide that they want in on the test key heist. They soon realize that the answer to their problems and the key to their happiness doesn't lie in achieving a perfect score.
Director: Brian Robbins. Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Erika Christensen, Chris Evans, Bryan Greenberg, Darius Miles. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 92T min.), Teen drama, 2004, Box office gross: $10.387 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/29, DVD: Day & Date.
Based on the best-selling suspense-filled novel "Secret Window, Secret Garden" by Stephen King. Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp), an eccentric writer just coming off of a troublesome divorce with his ex-wife, Amy (Marla Bello), finds himself stalked at his remote lake house by a psychotic stranger named John Shooter (John Turturro) who claims Mort stole his best story idea, changing just the ending for his version. As his wife pushes Mort to finalize their divorce and Shooter systematically destroys his life, he struggles to restore order to an increasingly insane situation. Mort discovers that this story holds a deadly secret that comes to life, a secret that even he can't imagine, that will force his life to spiral out of control, ultimately leading to a shocking twist ending.
Director: David Koepp. Stars: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Charles Dutton, Timothy Hutton. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 96 min.), Psychological thril4, 2004, Box office gross: $46.214 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/22, DVD: Day & Date.
FBI. CIA. Secret Service. Black Ops. Robert Scott is all of these. And none of these. His newest assignment: find the possibly kidnapped daughter of a high government official before the story leaks. Robert Scott (Val Kilmer) is a career military officer working for a highly secretive special operations force. A man hardened by years of brutal service, he is respected by his peers and elders in the world of espionage. When Scott is recruited to find Laura Newton (Kristen Bell), the President's college-age daughter, he is paired with novice Curtis (Derek Luke), who becomes his protege. Working with a special task force comprised of Presidential Advisors, the Secret Service, FBI and CIA, Scott and Curtis stumble upon a white slavery ring, which may have some connection to Laura's disappearance. As the story unfolds, the straightforward search-and-rescue mission becomes complicated by Curtis' naivete and the political ambitions of those in high places -- like Burch (Ed O'Neill) and Stoddard (William H. Macy), political operatives who may know more than they're telling about the circumstances surrounding Laura's abduction. Scott and Curtis are on the brink of tracking Laura's whereabouts when their clandestine mission comes to an abrupt conclusion as the media issues reports of the girl's death. Scott returns to the quiet life as a rural landowner and awaits his next assignment in relative peace. But Curtis can't rest. He seeks out Scott to confide his belief that Laura is alive. If she is, their continued unofficial investigation will put them -- as well as Laura -- at the center of a dangerous conspiracy that reaches the highest levels.
Director: David Mamet. Stars: Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, William H. Macy, Johnny Messner, Alexandra Kerry, Tia Texada, Kristen Bell. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 106 min.), Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $4.357 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/15, DVD: Day & Date.
STATION AGENT, THE
Funny, original and surprisingly touching award-winning film about finding friendship in unexpected places. Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) is a dwarf who has always been a loner and has shut out people except for a select few who share his passion for trains. One day his life is changed drastically when his co-worker dies and leaves Finbar with an abandoned train depot in an out of-the way area. Finbar moves into the depot and further isolation, but he can't stop neighbors like the pretty Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), the chatty Joe (Bobby Cannavale), the troubled Emily (Michelle Williams) and the curious Cleo (Raven Goodwin) from dropping by. The harder Finbar tries to keep to himself, the more he finds friendships that he never expected. Winner of 2003 Sundance Film Festival awards for director-writer Tom McCarthy and a special jury prize for actress Patricia Clarkson.
Director: Thomas McCarthy. Stars: Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Williams. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 88 min.), Comedy-Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $5.691 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/15, DVD: Day & Date.
The definitive film about one of the best-selling rap artists of all time, exploring Shakur's life viscerally and dramatically through his own words and music, as well as through vivid images of the world as he experienced it. Shakur takes viewers with him through the hard-knock journey of his childhood, the ups and downs of his professional career, romances, life-altering mistakes. An intimate portrait of a young man who rose from a life of adversity into being a global icon who touched millions of lives. The film was made in collaboration with Shakur's mother, former Black Panther Afeni Shakur. Features never-before-seen concert footage, private home movies and excerpts from Tupac's poetry and journals, all of which serve to create a very personal portrayal of a sensitive, passionate and often provocative artist who died before his time. In addition, the film features a soundtrack of Shakur's best-selling music, as well as new music by Biggie Smalls, Eminem, 50 Cent and Shakur himself.
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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June 1, 2004