OnVideo MARCH Video Reviews
Angelina Jolie stars as Sarah Jordan, an American living in London in 1984. Married to the son of a wealthy British industrialist, Sarah encounters Nick Callahan (Clive Owen), a rebellious doctor whose plea for her help to support his relief efforts in war-torn nations moves her deeply. As a result, Sarah embarks upon a journey of discovery that leads to danger, heartbreak and romance in the far corners of the world.
Director: Martin Campbell. Stars: Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen, Teri Polo, Linus Roache, Noah Emmerich, Yorick Van Wageningen, Timothy West, Kate Trotter. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 126 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $4.500 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/23, DVD: Day & Date.
Animated film follows the incredible adventures of a young man named Kenai (Joaquin Phoenix) who is transformed into a bear. From his new perspective, Kenai discovers the world through the eyes of another as he is befriended by a bear cub named Koda (Jeremy Suarez), encounters a pair of misguided moose (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas), and finds himself pursued by his own human sibling. D.B. Sweeney is Sitka, Kenai's oldest brother and the guardian of his two younger siblings. Jason Raize gives voice to the middle brother Denahi, Michael Clarke Duncan lends his deep distinctive voice to a grizzly bear named Tug, and Broadway veteran Joan Copeland provides wisdom and guidance as the voice of Tanana, the spiritual leader of the tribe. Estelle Harris, Greg Proops, Daniel Mastrogiorgio and Paul Christie round out a the cast of assorted animals that Kenai meets along the way. Features five songs from Academy Award-winner Phil Collins.
Director: Aaron Blaise and Robert Walker. Stars: Voices of Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Michael Clarke Duncan, D.B. Sweeney, Estelle Harris, Greg Proops, Daniel Mastrogiorgio, Paul Christie. CC, (MPAA rating: G, 85 min.), Animated, 2003, Box office gross: $82.100 million, (Disney), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 3/30, DVD: Day & Date.
COLD CREEK MANOR
Upscale city-dwellers Cooper Tilson (Dennis Quaid) and his wife, Leah (Sharon Stone), end their days as slaves to the hustle-and-bustle of city life when they pack up the kids and move to a recently repossessed mansion in the sticks of New York state. Once a grand and elegant manor, the house at Cold Creek is now a shambles, but Cooper and Leah have plenty of time to renovate. All's well until a series of terrifying incidents at the house lead the Tilsons to wonder who used to live in their new home -- and to discover what dark secrets are hidden inside. Director Mike Figgis pulls out all the stops to scare you -- and populates the film with a creepy and truly evil ex-con (who turns out to be the manor's former owner), played by Stephen Dorff, a horde of snakes, a hidden cache of pornography, and a bedridden patriarch (Christopher Plummer) who harbors a host of dirty secrets. Adept psychological thriller.
Director: Mike Figgis. Stars: Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis, Kristen Stewart, Christopher Plummer. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 119 min.), Thriller, 2003, Box office gross: $21.384 million, (Buena Vista), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/2, DVD: Day & Date.
DIRTY PRETTY THINGS
Black comedy-thriller delves into the underworld of illegal London immigrants, exposing a secret so dangerous, it threatens the life of anyone who dares expose it. Audrey Tautou stars as Senay, an illegal immigrant seeking asylum in Britain while working as a chambermaid at a London hotel. Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a medically trained doctor who also seeks asylum and who works days as a cab driver and nights as a porter at the same hotel. The two make a gruesome discovery which leads them to suspect the hotel manager is involved in gruesome activities: someone is trading fast cash and phony passports for freshly donated human organs. Senay and Okwe try to stay one step ahead of the city's immigration detectives while they pursue the dark mystery behind the hotel's seedy clientele.
Director: Stephen Frears. Stars: Audrey Tautou, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sergi Lopez, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Wong, Ziatko Buric. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 107 min.), Thriller, 2003, Box office gross: $8.050 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/23, DVD: Day & Date.
DR. SEUSS' THE CAT IN THE HAT
Based on Dr. Seuss' children's classic, this overblown production loosely follows the story of a little boy and girl who sit around bored on a rainy day while their mother is out, until a Cat in a Hat shows up, along with Thing One and Thing Two, and proceeds to trash the house. But just in the nick of time he cleans up his fun and tips his hat and runs. Will the kids confess about the Cat in the Hat who made a mess? This live- action family film features Kelly Preston as the real-estate agent mom who leaves her house with the instructions to not make a mess, with Dakota Fanning and Spencer Breslin as the two kids who fall under the influence of Mike Myers' furry Cat in the Hat. Wonderful set and costume design and production values can't overcome a storyline that dumbs down Dr. Seuss' classic tale.
Director: Bo Welch. Stars: Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Sean Hayes, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin, Amy Hill, Sean Hayes, Danielle Chuchran, Taylor Rice, Brittany Oaks, Talia-Lynn Prairie. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 78 min.), Family, 2003, Box office gross: $100.400 million, (Universal), $24.98 VHS SRP, Available: 3/16, DVD: Day & Date.
Darkly humorous tale of a New York yuppie couple's whose dream of owning their own house is shattered by a little old lady. Alex and Nancy live in Manhattan but need more room, and find their salvation in their dream house -- a duplex in Brooklyn. But there's one small problem -- the top floor's a rent-controlled apartment inhabited by an 80-something tenant who blasts her TV late at night and pesters the pair for errands and repairs during the day. What's a landlord to do? Hope that the old lady kicks off? Hire a hit man? A broadly physical comedy that Stiller excels at (if you like the sort of crass toilet humor he partakes in movie after movie) and one that Barrymore might want to knock off her resume.
Director: Danny DeVito. Stars: Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Eileen Essel, Harvey Fierstein, Justin Theroux, James Remar, Robert Wisdom. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $9.610 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/2, DVD: Day & Date.
Twelve-year-old Owen Baker has been working as a dog- walker all summer long, and his hard work has finally paid off -- he gets to adopt a dog of his own. But Owen gets more than puppy love when he discovers his new dog, Hubble, is really Canid 3942, an interplanetary scout from the "Dog Star" Sirius. Thousands of years ago, dogs from Sirius came to colonize and dominate the Earth, but rumors have spread across the galaxy that Earth dogs have strayed from their original mission and have become -- gulp -- pets. Hubble has come to investigate and takes Owen into his confidence, giving him the ability to hear dogs talk. Now Owen must help Hubble train a group of undisciplined neighborhood dogs to shape up for a visit from their leader, the powerful Greater Dane. The fate of all Earth dogs hangs in the balance. The film combines CGI and well-trained dogs to make the action and talking realistic, and, of course, there's wonderful jokes at the expense of adults.
Director: John Hoffman. Stars: Liam Aikin, Molly Shannon, Kevin Nealon, Brittany Moldowan. Voices of Matthew Broderick, Brittany Murphy, Delta Burke, Cheech Marin, Vanessa Redgrave, Carl Reiner, Donald Faison. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 88 min.), Family, 2003, Box office gross: $38.000 million, (MGM), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 3/2, DVD: Day & Date.
A brilliant and respected criminal psychologist, Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) is an expert at knowing what is rational. Under the direction of her husband (Charles S. Dutton), Miranda treats dangerously disturbed patients at the Woodward Penitentiary for Women. But Miranda's life is thrust into terrifying jeopardy after a cryptic encounter with a mysterious young girl leads to a nightmare beyond her wildest imagination.
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz. Stars: Penelope Cruz, Charles S. Dutton, Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr.. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 98 min.), Horror thriller, 2003, Box office gross: $58.880 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/23, DVD: Day & Date.
HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG
This tragic film, based on the best seller by Andre Dubus III, is a gripping exploration of the American dream gone awry. Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley star as two people driven to desperate measures to claim ownership of a house. It's only a small bungalow in Northern California, but to Kathy Nicolo (Connelly), it's the last vestige of hope for reclaiming a life that was nearly lost to addiction. When a bureaucratic error forces her eviction, Kathy is left homeless and helpless to stop the house from being sold at a fraction of its worth. The new owner is Massoud Amir Behrani (Kingsley), a former Colonel from Iran, who sees the house as the fulfillment of his American dream. Having worked at menial jobs to maintain a pretense of affluence, he pours the last of his life savings into the venture. As Kathy and Behrani's fight for the house escalates, Kathy finds an unlikely ally in the officer sent to evict her, Deputy Sheriff Lester Burdon (Ron Eldard), who becomes dangerously devoted to her cause. What begins as a conflict over a small rundown bungalow spirals into a clash of cultures that propels everyone involved towards an inescapable and heartbreaking climax. A fantastic supporting actress role by Oscar-nominated Shohreh Aghdashloo as Behrani's wife, caught in the middle of the conflict.
Director: Vadim Perelman. Stars: Jennifer Connelly, Ben Kingsley, Ron Eldard, Frances Fisher, Kim Dickens, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Jonathan Ahdout, Navi Rawat. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 126 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $10.241 million, (DreamWorks), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/30, DVD: Day & Date.
LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION
Yikes! The fate of the human race is in the hands of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, teaming to wreak comic mayhem in this family adventure combining live action (starring Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin and others) with animation (a cavalcade of Looney Tunes greats including Tweety, Taz and Yosemite Sam). The Tunesters try to obtain the powerful Blue Monkey gem and stop an attempt by the evil Acme Corp. to grab weirdwide worldwide domination.
Director: Joe Dante. Stars: Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin, Heather Locklear, Timothy Dalton, Joan Cusack, voices of Billy West and Joe Alaskey. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 90 min.), Live action/animated, 2003, Box office gross: $21.000 million, (Warner), $19.96 VHS SRP, Available: 3/2, DVD: Day & Date.
MAGDALENE SISTERS, THE
Emotional and ultimately inspiring story of women who were forced into manual labor at the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland while ostensibly being sent to the Irish Catholic Magdalene Convent, run by the Sisters of Mercy. Sent by the Church to cleanse their mortal sins, such as having a child out of wedlock, being raped or simply flirting, the woman were detained for indefinite sentences and often abused. The practices of the laundries occurred through much of the 20th century -- and involved some 30,000 women -- and finally came to light in the 1970s, and the last of these institutions was shut down in 1996. The film follows three women sent to the Convent on the same day in 1964 and details their oppression at the hands of sadistic nuns. The film won the prestigious Gold Lion Best Picture Award at the Venice Film Festival, the Discovery Award at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival and a Best Film nominee at the 2003 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards (BAFTA). And, of course, has been condemned by the Catholic Church.
Director: Peter Mullen. Stars: Nora-Jane Noone, Anne-Marie Duff, Dorothy Duffy, Geraldine McEwan, Eileen Walsh. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 119 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $4.890 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/23, DVD: Day & Date.
MONA LISA SMILE
In 1953, when women's roles were rigidly defined, novice art history professor Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) begins teaching at the prestigious all-female college Wellesley. Despite its academic reputation for educating the best and the brightest, it's still an environment where success is measured by how well its students marry. Encouraging these women to strive for a more enlightened and self-fulfilled future, Watson challenges the administration and inspires her students to look beyond the image of what is, and consider the possibilities of what might be.
Director: Mike Newell. Stars: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dominic West, Juliet Stevenson, Marcia Gay Harden, Marian Seldes, Ginnifer Goodwin. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 119 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $65.226 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/9, DVD: Day & Date.
PREY FOR ROCK AND ROLL
Fabulous rock drama about a struggling all-female rock group has a knock-out performance by Gina Gershon. The Clam Dandys are four struggling L.A. rockers who have been playing dives and low-life rock venues for far too long. The group's leader -- Jacki (Gershon) -- is pushing 40 and having difficulty reconciling approaching middle age with her rock and roll lifestyle of sex and drugs. She's tired of waiting for her big break and on the verge of quitting, though her younger bandmates want to continue forging ahead. To complicate matters, a sleazy record agent dangles an elusive recording contract in front of them, creating more turmoil and anxiety for the band. Gershon is alternately naive and wise, but always sexy and charismatic. And, darn it, the original numbers (written by Cheri Lovedog and Robin Whitehouse) rock the soundtrack. An outstanding effort that wowed audiences at several film festivals but, unfortunately, never got a decent theatrical release.
Director: Alex Steyermark. Stars: Gina Gershon, Drea de Matteo, Shelly Cole, Lori Petty, Marc Blucas, Ivan Martin, Eddie Driscoll. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 103 min.), Rock drama, 2003, (Lions Gate), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/9, DVD: Day & Date.
Beck (The Rock) doesn't look for or try to make trouble for anyone. But trouble is what he's hired to clean up -- he's a muscle- for-hire "retrieval" expert who wants to retire and open a small restaurant -- and there's one final mess he's got to get out of before he can leave it all behind. And this one just keeps getting more and more tangled, like the Amazon jungle he's been sent to. At the center of his current trouble is a wise-ass named Travis (Seann William Scott), a fast-talking double dealer whose dad has commissioned Beck to retrieve him from an adventure in Brazil seeking a legendary gold object. Travis proves to be more of a handful than Beck expected, not only because of his mouth and his heels-dug-in reluctance to leave, but because of a couple of other complications he brings with him: Mariana (Rosario Dawson), a Brazilian rebel who seeks the gold object as a way to free the locals from the grips of an unhinged despot, Hatcher (Christopher Walken), who has turned the jungle and its inhabitants into his own empire. Beck doesn't like to fight. But he's going to have to unleash everything he's got to keep on top of his smack-talking quarry, the rebellious woman, the crazy tyrant, the weird monkeys, the hallucinogenic fruit, the backs-to-the-wall rebels, the perilous terrain, the hidden traps and every other obstacle that this jungle throws at him. Great martial arts jungle action sequences choreographed by Jackie Chan stunt-double Andy Cheng.
Director: Peter Berg. Stars: The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner, John Gries, William Lucking, Ernie Reyes Jr.. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min.), Action, 2003, Box office gross: $47.600 million, (Universal), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 3/23, DVD: Day & Date.
SCHOOL OF ROCK
Dewey Finn (Jack Black) is down-and-out, in need of rent money. Picking up a phone call intended for his roommate Ned (Mike White), Dewey impulsively accepts a job as a substitute teacher at the prestigious Horace Green Elementary School. But while Dewey might not have a clue how to teach, he does know how to inspire confidence in his young fifth graders. And when he accidentally overhears them performing in an orchestra class, he decides to mold these young musical prodigies into a high voltage rock band, which will change their lives forever. Delightful comedy for the entire family.
Director: Richard Linklater. Stars: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman, Kevin Alexander Clark, Miranda Cosgrove, Joey Gaydes Jr., Caitlin Hale, Maryam Hassan, Rebecca Brown, Robert Tsai. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 109 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $80.000 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/2, DVD: Day & Date.
SEARCHING FOR DEBRA WINGER
Thought-provoking documentary in which Rosanna Arquette talks to the film industry's most talented and award-winning actresses about their pressures they face as women working in show business -- the trials and tribulations of being a woman, a mother and a wife while working in an industry that expects its leading ladies to be young and supermodel gorgeous.
Director: Rosanna Arquette. Stars: Rosanna Arquette, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Salna Hayek, Gwyneth Paltrow, Diane Lane, Tracey Ullman, Vanessa Redgrave, Debra Winger, Patricia Arquette, Meg Ryan, Alfre Woodard, Sharon Stone. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 99 min.), Documentary, 2002, (Lions Gate), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/2, DVD: Day & Date.
Hayden Christensen stars as Stephen Glass, a staff writer for the respected current events and policy magazine The New Republic and a freelance feature writer for publications such as Rolling Stone, Harper's and George. By the mid-90s, Glass' articles had turned him into one of the most sought-after young journalists in Washington, but a bizarre chain of events -- chronicled in Buzz Bissinger's September, 1998 Vanity Fair article upon which "Shattered Glass" is based -- suddenly stopped his career in its tracks. "Shattered Glass" is a study of a very talented -- and at the same time very flawed -- character. It is also a look inside our culture's noblest profession, one that protects our most precious freedoms by revealing the truth, and what happens when our trust in that profession is called into question.
Director: Billy Ray. Stars: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Chloe Sevigny, Melanie Lynskey, Steve Zahn, Rosario Dawson. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 90 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $2.053 million, (Lions Gate), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/23, DVD: Day & Date.
SINGING DETECTIVE, THE
Weird and way-off-beat big-screen version of the Dennis Potter/BBC TV series. Robert Downey Jr. stars as Dan Dark, a penny-ante crime-thriller writer stuck in a hospital bed, suffering from a horrible skin ailment that prevents him from moving. Heavily medicated, the border between reality and fiction starts to blur in Dark's mind as he goes over the plot of one of his books that Hollywood wants to turn into a movie. The story -- the murder investigation of a prostitute in 1950's Los Angeles by a detective who sings in a band -- becomes woven together with his own painful childhood memories. Dark is living in a fevered film-noir hell constructed by his own twisted psyche, where everyone is his enemy and no one can be trusted. The bizarre scenario has Dark not only crooning in front of a band as his detective's alter ego, but also includes risque musical numbers by the hospital staff. A strange outing.
Director: Keith Gordon. Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Robin Wright Penn, Mel Gibson, Katie Holmes, Adrien Brody, Jeremy Northam, Carla Gugino, Jon Polito. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 108 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $0.325 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/23, DVD: Day & Date.
SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE
Delightful story of Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), a perennial playboy with a libido much younger than his years. During what was to have been a romantic weekend with his latest infatuation, Marin (Amanda Peet), at her mother's Hamptons beach house, Harry develops chest pains. He winds up being nursed by Marin's reluctant mother, Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) -- a successful, divorced New York playwright. In the process, Harry develops more heart pangs -- the romantic kind -- for Erica, an age appropriate woman whom he finds beguiling. However, some habits die hard. When Harry hesitates, his charming thirtysomething doctor (Keanu Reeves) steps in and starts to pursue Erica. And Harry, who has always had the world on a string, finds his life unraveling. Great performances by all involved, particularly Frances McDormand as Erica's best friend. Diane Keaton won a Golden Globe Award and received an Oscar nomination for her role.
Director: Nancy Meyers. Stars: Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 128 min.), Comedy, 2003, Box office gross: $101.683 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/30, DVD: Day & Date.
Director: Marcus Nispel. Stars: Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, Erica Leerhsen, Jonathan Tucker, Mike Vogel, R. Lee Ermey. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 98 min.), Horror, 2003, Box office gross: $80.000 million, (New Line), $22.99 VHS SRP, Available: 3/30, DVD: Day & Date.
This deeply moving drama, written by Guillermo Arriaga ("Amores Perros"), explores the emotionally and physically charged existences of three people over a period of several months. An accident unexpectedly throws their lives and destinies together. Initially not even acquainted, the trio and their destinies become irrevocably intertwined in a fusion of love, redemption, and obsession. College professor Paul Rivers (Sean Penn) and his wife Mary (Charlotte Gainsbourg) find their union precariously balanced between life and death. He is mortally ill and awaiting a heart transplant, while she hopes to become pregnant with his child through artificial insemination. Cristina Peck (Naomi Watts), having matured since her reckless past, is a beloved older sister to Claudia (Clea DuVall), a good wife to Michael (Danny Huston) and loving mother to two little girls. Her family radiates hope and joy. Much farther down the socioeconomic scale, ex-con Jack Jordan (Benicio Del Toro) and his wife Marianne (Melissa Leo) struggle to provide for their two children while Jack reaffirms his commitment to religion. A tragic accident that claims several lives places these couples in each other's orbit. In the aftermath, Paul confronts his own mortality, Cristina takes action to come to terms with her present and perhaps her future, and Jack's faith is put to the test. If spiritual equilibrium is to be regained by any one of them, it could come at great cost to the others. Yet the will to live, and the instinct to reach out to another person for support, remains ever-present among them all. 21 Grams refers to the weight we lose when we die.
Director: Alejando Gonzalez Inarritu. Stars: Seann Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Melissa Leo, Clea Duvall, Danny Huston. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 125 min.), Drama, 2003, Box office gross: $14.500 million, (Universal), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/16, DVD: Day & Date.
True story of a persistent journalist who took on the world's most powerful and dangerous drug lords and risked everything to expose the truth. Set in 1990s Dublin, Ireland, a city that is nothing short of a war zone -- set against the backdrop of the Irish Conflict -- and with a few powerful drug lords battling for control. Their most fearsome opponent was not the police but the courageous journalist Veronica Guerin (Cate Blanchett), who covered the crime beat with unmatched intensity. As she investigated and exposed the "pushers," balancing her home and family against her responsibility to her readers and her country, she became a national folk heroine to the people of Ireland. The film follows the last two years of her life before her assassination in 1996.
Director: Joel Schumacher. Stars: Cate Blanchett, Gerald McSorley, Ciaran Hinds, Brenda Fricker. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 98 min.), Action-thriller, 2003, Box office gross: $1.569 million, (Buena Vista), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/16, 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.
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February 28, 2004