OnVideo JUNE Video Reviews
John Travolta is back as Chili Palmer in this sequel to the comedy smash "Get Shorty" (1995). This time, Chili becomes a different kind of "hit" man when he abandons the movie industry to bring his wiseguy skills and negotiation tactics to the music business. When a friend is offed while at lunch, Chili takes the opportunity to visit the man's wife, Edie (Uma Thurman), and pitch himself as her new business partner at an independent record label. With a promising young pop-star-in-training as his protege (Christina Milian), Chili has to juggle her faux-urban manager (Vince Vaughn), his gay, wannabe-actor bodyguard (The Rock), Russian mobsters, and an eloquent gangsta music producer (Cedric the Entertainer) to save the label and land a hit -- and keep from getting popped himself.
Director: F. Gary Gray. Stars: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, The Rock, Vince Vaughn, Andre 3000, Cedric the Entertainer, Danny DeVito, James Gandolfini, Harvey Keitel, Debi Mazar, Christina Milian. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $54.501 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/7.
BEYOND THE SEA
Kevin Spacey's loving bio of singer Bobby Darin. For Darin (Spacey), performing was his life. It kept his heart beating. He came alive onstage, even when he was near collapse offstage. With a heart damaged by rheumatic fever, Walden Robert Cassotto -- Little Bobby -- isn't supposed to live to see age 15. But when his mother Polly (Brenda Blethyn) shows him the happiness that comes with music, Bobby finds the inspiration he needs to stay alive. Making music opens a world beyond sickness, where prodigious talent, drive and imagination can overcome a faulty heart. With the help and support of his devoted family -- Polly, his older sister Nina (Caroline Aaron) and Nina's husband Charlie (Bob Hoskins) -- Bobby will become a star. And so he does. Working with his best friend and manager, Steve Blauner (John Goodman), Bobby charts his own stubbornly eclectic musical path, writing original songs and performing in a range of genres. Turning his sights beyond music, Bobby launches a movie career and marries America's favorite young star, Sandra Dee (Kate Bosworth). But Bobby's relentless professional ambition has begun to poison his private life, and the late 1960s find him isolated, confused and directionless. In the end, with his childhood illness finally catching up with him, Bobby must look to his friends, family and extraordinary talent to quell his demons and accept who he is and what his life has meant.
Director: Debi Mazar, Christina Milian. Stars: Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman, Bob Hoskins, Brenda Blethyn, Greta Scacchi, Caroline Aaron. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 118 min.), Biodrama, 2004, Box office gross: $6.144 million, (Lions Gate), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/7.
The inspiring true story of controversial high school basketball coach Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson), who made headlines for his emphasis on the importance of academics over athletics. Carter requested that all the members of his team sign contracts, promising to maintain a certain grade point average. When the players failed to live up to the agreement, Carter benched the entire team, locking the gym and forfeiting games to prove his point. This infuriated the community, who saw this as a hindrance to the future professional athletic careers of the players. Through hard work and dedication, Carter eventually got his point across to his team and the community, going above and beyond to ensure a solid academic future for the team.
Director: Thomas Carter. Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Rob Brown, Robert Ri'chard, Rick Gonzalez, Nana Gbewonyo, Antwon Tanner, Channing Tatum, Ashanti. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 136 min.), Biodrama, 2005, Box office gross: $67.083 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/21.
In this chilling Wes Craven scarer, a girl (Christina Ricci) and her brother get into a car accident off of Los Angeles's Mulholland drive. When they attempt to help the other car's driver, they're attacked by a wolf-like creature. Over the next few weeks, the siblings begin to show supernatural strength and abilities, while a large, mysterious animal launches bloodthirsty attacks in Los Angeles. Together, the siblings must solve the mystery of their attacker and destroy the werewolf responsible before they turn into nightmare creatures themselves.
Director: Wes Craven. Stars: Portia de Rossi, Mya, Shannon Elizabeth, Daniel Edward Mora, Kristina Anapau, Jesse Eisenberg, Milo Ventimiglia, Jonny Acker, Eric Ladin, Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min.), Horror thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $19.116 million, (Dimension), $19.95 VHS SRP, Available: 6/21.
DIRTY SHAME, A
From the wondrously fertile mind of writer-director John Waters comes America's first carnal concussion comedy. Set in the Harford Road area of Waters' native Baltimore, "A Dirty Shame" tells what happens when a horde of "sex addicts" invade a blue-collar neighborhood, to the shock and dismay of the "neuter" neighbors. Lust is in the air on Harford Road and Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman), a grumpy, repressed middle-aged Baltimorean, doesn't like it. Though Sylvia's handsome husband Vaughn (Chris Isaak) still has marital urges, Sylvia couldn't be less interested -- she has work to do. She has to run the family's "Pinewood Park and Pay" conveniencestore, and prepare proper meals for their exhibitionist daughter Caprice (Selma Blair), a go-go dancer known to her adoring fans as Ursula Udders. Caprice and her stupendously enlarged breasts have been sentenced to home detention after several "nude and disorderly" violations. But Sylvia's world is turned upside down one day after suffering a concussion in a freak accident. Sexy tow-truck driver Ray-Ray Perkins (Johnny Knoxville) rushes to her aid and Sylvia realizes he's no ordinary service man; he's a sexual healer who brings her flaming cauldron of hidden lust to the boiling point. Vaughn is happily surprised by his wife's resurgent libido, but when he sees her do a raunchy "hootchie-cootchie" dance during a routine visit to a nursing home, he realizes something isn't right. Sylvia's mother, Big Ethel (Suzanne Shepherd), already up in arms about the libertines in their midst, decides it is time to fight back. Supported by her sex-hating neighbors like Marge the Neuter (Mink Stole), Big Ethel leads the battle for "Neuter normality" against Ray-Ray and his "sex addict" disciples. Sylvia, torn between her responsibilities as a wife and mother and her suddenly unbridled thirst for all things carnal, finds herself at the center of an overheated battle for a throbbing Harford Road. What follows is rude, joyous and full of sexual anarchy. A movie with a generous heart and a dirty mind.
Director: John Waters. Stars: Tracey Ullman, Johnny Knoxville, Selma Blair, Chris Isaak, Suzanne Shepherd, Mink Stole, Patricia Hearst. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 89 min.), Black comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $1.339 million, (New Line), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/14.
Director Michael Tucker's intimate portrait of the lives of American soldiers in Iraq. Tucker spent two months living with soldiers in one of Uday Hussein's former "pleasure palaces." The unprecedented footage he obtained takes viewers beyond the evening news reports and reveals what life is like in a war that rages on even after the conflict is declared officially over. Gunner Palace is a unique portrait of the fragmented, chaotic and stress-filled existence of American soldiers at war in Iraq. Tucker captured the lives of the members of the 213 Field Artillery, AKA the "Gunners", whose living headquarters are housed in Uday Hussein's Azimiya Palace, situated in the middle of Adhamiya, the most volatile area in Baghdad. Four months after President Bush declared the end of "major combat operations," this troop of U.S. soldiers continues to live and die through what they jokingly call "minor combat." Their residence, a bombed out palace complete with swimming pool and putting green, provides a surreal backdrop to their stories. Tucker filmed the troops over two one-month periods, slowly gaining their trust while he lived with them in the once royal residence now fondly known as "Gunner Palace." With total access to all unit operations and activities, captured in his own distinct verite style, filmmaker Tucker provides a rare series of intimate "snapshots" that reveal the complex realities of a war that has to be seen to be understood. Portion of proceeds from each "Gunner Palace" DVD sold goes directly to help military families through the Fisher House Foundation.
Romantic comedy stars Will Smith as Alex "Hitch" Hitchens, a legendary -- and deliberately anonymous -- New York City "date doctor" who, for a fee, has helped countless men woo the women of their dreams. As a tactical adviser who specializes in first impressions -- he customizes and orchestrates a client's first three dates -- Hitch has been secretly responsible for hundreds of New York City weddings. While coaching Albert (Kevin James), a meek accountant who is smitten with a glamorous celebrity, Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta), Hitch finally meets his match in the person of the gorgeous, whip-smart Sara Melas (Eva Mendes), a gossip columnist who follows Allegra's every move. The ultimate professional bachelor, Hitch suddenly finds himself falling deliriously in love with Sara, whose biggest scoop could very well be the unmasking of Manhattan's most famous date doctor.
Director: Andy Tennant. Stars: Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valletta, Julie Ann Emery, Robinne Lee, Nathan Lee Graham, Adam Arkin, Michael Rapaport. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $173.678 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/14.
Devastated by an unspeakable tragedy while on the job as a hostage negotiator for the Los Angeles Police Department, Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) resigns and accepts a low-profile job as the Chief of Police in sleepy, rural Bristo Camino. On a slow Monday morning Jeff Talley's job becomes anything but quiet and sets him on a course that could change not only his professional but personal life forever. When three delinquent teenagers follow a family home intending to steal a car, they get more than they bargained for. The trio finds themselves trapped in a multi-million dollar compound on the outskirts of town with no way to escape. Panicked, they take the family hostage, placing Talley in a situation that he never wanted to face again. The stakes quickly evolve into a hostage situation far more volatile and terrifying than anything Talley could imagine.
Director: Florent Emilio Siri. Stars: Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollak, Jimmy Bennett, Michelle Horn, Ben Foster. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 108 min.), Thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $32.234 million, (Dimension), $19.95 VHS SRP, Available: 6/21.
"Imaginary Heroes" is a look at one long year in the lives of an ostensibly typical, upper-middle-class suburban family. It tells a tale of a family in crisis with wit, warmth and a very contemporary sardonic spin. Following a sobering family tragedy -- the death by suicide of one of their two sons -- the Travises go to pieces. Teenaged son Tim (Emile Hirsch) views his life as a bad dream. His father, Ben (Jeff Daniels), tunes out and treats his wife and children like strangers. His mother, Sandy (Sigourney Weaver) sharpens her tongue with sarcasm and dulls her senses with pot while struggling hard to conceal a secret that threatens to ruin them all. With elements of pathos, salty humor and self-discovery, the Travises learn to accept one another as a family.
Director: Dan Harris. Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Emile Hirsch, Jeff Daniels, Michelle Williams, Kip Pardue. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 112 min.), Drama, 2004, Box office gross: $0.197 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/7.
A psychological thriller about a military veteran who returns to his native Vermont suffering from bouts of amnesia. When he is accused of murder and lands in an asylum, a well-meaning doctor puts him on a heavy course of experimental drugs, restrains him in a jacket-like device, and locks him away in a body drawer of the basement morgue. The process sends him on a journey into the future, where he can foresee his death (but not who did it or how) in four day's time. Now the only question that matters is: can the woman he meets in the future save him? Jack Starks (Adrien Brody), a U.S. Marine serving in the Persian Gulf War, receives a near-fatal gunshot wound to the head. Although he recovers, the incident leaves him with shock-related amnesia. After his release, he returns to his native Vermont. Nine months later, hitchhiking along a snowbound Vermont highway, Starks encounters a broken down pick-up truck. The driver, a drunken, disoriented mother named Jean, and her eight-year-old daughter, Jackie, are stranded at the roadside. Starks offers his help and gets the truck started. He continues hitchhiking, and is picked up by a station wagon driven by a young man headed for the Canadian border. Shortly afterward, the car is pulled over by the police and Starks blacks out. When he awakens, he finds himself on trial for murder in a small town court. Found not guilty by reason of insanity, Starks is committed to Alpine Grove, a state institution for the criminally insane. There a staff physician, Dr. Becker, subjects Starks to a jarring experimental treatment involving mind-altering drugs and claustrophobic physical restraint. Once medicated, Starks is wrapped in jacket-like restraints and left alone for hours at a time in a corpse drawer located in the hospital's basement morgue. And in the drawer, in the dark and under the influence, Starks initially experiences flickers of memory from the war and the shooting of the police officer. The past gives way to the future when he is suddenly transported to a diner in Vermont where he meets Jackie, a waitress who takes pity on him and tries to help him find a place to sleep for the night. Starks begins to realize that the drawer he's been confined to is the secret to his recovery and that his future and well-being lie in the hands of the girl he's just met.
Director: John Maybury. Stars: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Daniel Craig, Kelly Lynch, Brad Renfro. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 102 min.), Thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $6.233 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/21.
Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale), a machinist, has lost the ability to sleep. But this is no ordinary insomnia. Trevor has not slept in a year. Fatigue has led to a shocking deterioration of his physical and mental health. Suspicious of his appearance, Trevor's co-workers first shy away from him, then turn against him after he's involved in a shop accident that costs a man his arm. They blame Trevor for the accident. He has become a liability to himself and others, and now they want him out. Plagued with guilt, Trevor's shame becomes suspicion, then paranoia, when it appears his workmates are conspiring to have him fired -- or worse. First he finds cryptic notes left in his apartment. Next he's told that a mysterious co-worker involved in the accident doesn't exist. Are these mysteries part of a plot to drive Trevor mad? Or is it fatigue that's robbing him of his reason? No one is exempt from Trevor's suspicion. The only two people Trevor trusts are a gritty call-girl (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who has fallen in love with him, and an alluring waitress and single mom (Spanish actress Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) with whom he carries on an almost fairy-tale romance, even as his life disintegrates. Determined to find an answer, Trevor investigates the strange occurrences that are turning his world into a sleepless nightmare. Yet the more he learns, the less he wants to know.
Director: Brad Anderson. Stars: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sanchez-Gij—on, John Sharian, Michael Ironside. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 101 min.), Thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $1.082 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/7.
MISS CONGENIALITY 2: ARMED AND FABULOUS
FBI Agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) has became an overnight media sensation after successfully disarming a threat against the Miss United States Pageant while working undercover as a contestant in "Miss Congeniality." Things haven't been going so well for her lately, though. Reeling from a broken romance and frustrated to find her newfound fame is jeopardizing the undercover work she loves, Gracie reluctantly lets her boss, Agent McDonald (Ernie Hudson), talk her into serving the Bureau in the only way now possible: coifed and styled for the talk show circuit as "the face of the FBI." Though resistant at first, Gracie soon warms to the attention and it's not long before she's getting into her new role a little too much. Her new partner Sam Fuller (Regina King), a tough, ambitious agent who is clearly not her biggest fan, is the first to point out that the pampered Bureau star is turning into FBI Barbie. But when Gracie's best friends, pageant winner Cheryl Frazier and emcee Stan Fields (Heather Burns and William Shatner), are kidnapped in Las Vegas, Gracie's crime-fighting instincts kick back in. Not wanting to risk losing their high-profile mascot, the FBI top brass sideline her to press conference duty in Las Vegas and send Sam along as her bodyguard, leaving local FBI supervisor Collins (Treat Williams) to spearhead the rescue effort while junior agent Jeff Foreman (Enrique Murciano) tries to keep Gracie and her entourage safely out of the way till its all over. But you can't keep a good agent down.
Director: John Pasquin. Stars: Sandra Bullock, Regina King, Enrique Murciano, William Shatner, Ernie Hudson, Heather Burns, Diedrich Bader, Treat Williams, Eileen Brennan, Elisabeth Rohm. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min.), Comedy-thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $47.121 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/21.
Vin Diesel stars as Navy SEAL Shane Wolfe who, as an elite member of the world's fiercest and most highly trained force, thought he was prepared to take on any duty no matter how perilous or impossible ... until he tried baby-sitting. Assigned to protect the five out-of-control children of an assassinated scientist working on vital government secrets, Shane is suddenly faced with juggling two outrageously incompatible jobs: fighting the bad guys while keeping house. Replacing his usual arsenal of wetsuits and weapons with diapers and juice boxes, Shane not only must battle a deceptive enemy but wrangle teen rebel Zoe (Brittany Snow), sullen 14 year-old Seth (Max Theriot), 8 year-old Ninja-wanna-be Lulu (Morgan York), as well as 3 year-old Peter and baby Tyler -- not to mention their off-beat Romanian Nanny (Carol Kane). But while drop zones, demolitions and destroying enemy targets come naturally to Shane, he has no idea what tough really is until he pits his courage against diapering, den-mothering and driver's education. He's truly a SEAL out of water, and now it's up to this one-time lone warrior to take on the most important mission of his life: keeping a family together.
Director: Adam Shankman. Stars: Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Faith Ford, Brittany Snow, Max Thieriot, Chris Potter, Carol Kane, Brad Garrett. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 95 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $100.566 million, (Disney), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/28.
SEED OF CHUCKY
The killer doll is back -- and his family must slay together in order to stay together in the fifth in the popular series of Chucky ("Child's Play") horror comedies. "Seed of Chucky" introduces Glen (voiced by Billy Boyd), the orphan doll offspring of the irrepressible Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) and his equally twisted bride Tiffany (voiced by Jennifer Tilly). When production starts on a movie detailing the urban legend of his parents' lethal exploits, Glen heads for Hollywood -- where he brings his bloodthirsty parents back from the dead. The family dynamics are far from perfect as Chucky and Tiffany go Hollywood and get rolling on a new spree of murderous mayhem, much to gentle Glen's horror. Chucky can't believe that his child doesn't want to walk in his murdering footsteps, and star-struck Tiffany can't believe that the movie will star her favorite actress, Jennifer Tilly (playing herself), who soon becomes an unwitting hostess to the family in more ways than one.
Director: Don Mancini. Stars: Jennifer Tilly, Billy Boyd, Brad Dourif, Hannah Spearritt, John Waters, Redman, Steve Lawton, Tony Gardner, Jason Flemyng. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 87 min.), Horror, 2004, Box office gross: $17.016 million, (Universal), $23.98 VHS SRP, Available: 6/7. Day & Date
One of the most popular Imax films ever, "Space Station" treats audiences like real astronauts from blast-off to life inside the International Space Station. Made with the cooperation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), "Space Station" is the story of the unique partnership of 16 nations building a laboratory in outer space -- a permanent facility for the study of the effects of long-duration exposure to zero gravity and the necessary first step towards the global co-operative effort needed if man is to someday set foot on Mars. The film is highlighted by the challenges, setbacks and triumphs of this groundbreaking engineering feat -- and ultimately, the shared international victory of men and women whose dreams exceed the limits of life on Earth. "Space Station" follows two separate space shuttles that leave from Florida's Kennedy Space Center and Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome to rendezvous with their new home in orbit 220 miles above Earth. A gorgeous, breathtaking and involving film.
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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May 30, 2005