OnVideo MARCH Video Reviews
From the award-winning director of "Pride and Prejudice" comes a stunning, critically acclaimed story of love, betrayal, and all its consequences. When a young girl catches her sister in a passionate embrace with a childhood friend, her jealousy drives her to tell a lie that will irrevocably change the course of all their lives forever. Adaptation of Ian McEwan's best-selling 2002 novel. Shot on location in the U.K., the film's story spans several decades. In 1935, 13-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) and her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous mansion. On the warmest day of the year, the country estate takes on an unsettling hothouse atmosphere, stoking Briony's vivid imagination. Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), the educated son of the family's housekeeper, carries a torch for Briony's headstrong older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley). Cecilia, he hopes, has comparable feelings; all it will take is one spark for this relationship to combust. When it does, Briony -- who has a crush on Robbie -- is compelled to interfere, going so far as accusing Robbie of a crime he did not commit. Cecilia and Robbie declare their love for each other, but he is arrested -- and with Briony bearing false witness, the course of three lives is changed forever. Briony continues to seek forgiveness for her childhood misdeed. Through a terrible and courageous act of imagination, she finds the path to her uncertain atonement, and to an understanding of the power of enduring love.
Director: Joe Wright. Stars: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Romola Garai, Saoirse Ronan, Brenda Blethyn, Vanessa Redgrave, Juno Temple. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 123 min., Drama, Box office gross: $45.209 million, Universal. Available: 3/18.
Clay (Hayden Christensen) suffers "Anesthetic Awareness," leaving him fully conscious during open heart surgery, but unable to alert the surgical team surrounding him. As various obstacles present themselves, his wife Sam (Jessica Alba) must make life-altering decisions while he faces a far greater pain.
Director: Joby Harold. Stars: Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba, Lena Olin, Terrence Howard, Steven Hinkle, Jennifer Pedersen, Sam Robards, Poorna Jagannathan, Court Young. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 84 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $14.230 million, Weinstein Co.. Available: 3/4.
The story of a charismatic young Irish guitarist (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and a sheltered young cellist (Keri Russell) who have a chance encounter one magical night above New York's Washington Square, but are soon torn apart, leaving in their wake an infant, August Rush, orphaned by circumstance. Now performing on the streets of New York and cared for by a mysterious stranger (Robin Williams), August (Freddie Highmore) uses his remarkable musical talent to seek the parents from whom he was separated at birth.
Director: Kirsten Sheridan. Stars: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Terrence Howard, Robin Williams, Mykelti Williamson. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 100 min., Drama, Box office gross: $30.439 million, Warner. Available: 3/11.
Having just graduated from college, a bee by the name of Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld) finds himself disillusioned with the prospect of having only one career choice -- honey. As he ventures outside of the hive for the first time, he breaks one of the cardinal rules of the bee world and talks to a human, a New York City florist named Vanessa (Renee Zellweger). He is shocked to discover that the humans have been stealing and eating the bees' honey for centuries, and ultimately realizes that his true calling in life is to set the world right by suing the human race for stealing their precious honey.
Director: Simon J. Smith, Steve Hickner. Voices: Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, Alan Arkin, Kathy Bates, Robert Duvall, Eric Idle, Larry King, William H. Macy, Tim Blake Nelson, Uma Thurman, Patrick Warburton, Oprah Winfrey, Matthew Broderick. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 90 min., Animated, Box office gross: $ 125.993 million, DreamWorks. Available: 3/11.
DAN IN REAL LIFE
The story of a successful advice columnist and single parent whose life gets complicated when he falls for a woman who turns out to is be his brother's new girlfriend. Advice columnist Dan Burns (Steve Carell) is an expert on relationships, but somehow struggles to succeed as a brother, a son and a single parent. Widowed father Burns, who is still reeling from the heartache of loss, takes refuge by trying to maintain order with his three rebellious young girls while dodging anything unexpected or outside the box. But when Dan heads to Rhode Island, his miffed daughters in tow, for the annual fall weekend thrown by the large and boisterous Burns family, everything changes. Soon after his arrival, he runs into an alluring woman named Marie (Juliette Binoche) in a bookshop. For the first time in a very, very long time, Dan experiences real, live sparks -- only to have to douse them liberally when he discovers Marie is, in fact, the brand new girlfriend his brother Mitch (Dane Cook) is about to proudly introduce to the family. As the weekend gets underway in the close quarters of a crowded house filled with quirky, prying relatives, Dan and Marie try to squelch and cover up their growing mutual attraction at every turn, leading to one comical situation after another. Yet, no matter how hard they try to do the very opposite, Dan and Marie can't help but fall in love. Now Dan is about to realize, that no matter how wise safety might seem, when it comes to real life, he's going to have to break all the rules.
Director: Peter Hedges. Stars: Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Norbert Leo Butz, John Mahoney, Dianne Wiest, Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson, Marlene Lawston, Emily Blunt. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $45.903 million, Disney. Available: 3/11.
Disney animated fairy tale meets a modern, live-action romantic comedy in a family fantasy about the beautiful princess Giselle (Amy Adams) who is banished by an evil queen (Susan Sarandon) from her magical, musical animated land and finds herself in the gritty reality of the streets of modern-day Manhattan. Shocked by this strange new environment that doesn't operate on a "happily ever after" basis, Giselle is now adrift in a chaotic world badly in need of enchantment. But when Giselle begins to fall in love with a charmingly flawed divorce lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) who has come to her aid -- even though she is already promised to a perfect fairy tale prince (James Marsden) back home -- she has to wonder: can a storybook view of romance survive in the real world?
Director: Kevin Lima. Stars: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, Rachel Covey, Susan Sarandon. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 107 min., Family Fantasy, Box office gross: $122.392 million, Disney. Available: 3/18.
Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) has been educated to become a professional assassin for hire, whose most powerful weapons are his nerve and a resolute pride in his work. 47 is both the last two digits of the barcode tattooed on the nape of his neck, and his only name. The hunter becomes the hunted when 47 gets caught up in a political takeover. Both Interpol and the Russian military chase the Hitman across Eastern Europe as he tries to find out who set him up and why they're trying to take him out of the game. But the greatest threat to 47's survival may be the stirrings of his conscience and the unfamiliar emotions aroused in him by a beautiful, damaged girl.
Director: Xavier Gens. Stars: Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Olga Kurylenko, Robert Knepper, Ulrich Thomsen, Michael Offei. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 93 min., Action Thriller, Box office gross: $39.381 million, Fox. Available: 3/11.
I AM LEGEND
Robert Neville is a brilliant scientist, but even he could not contain the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable, and man-made. Somehow immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City and maybe the world. For three years, Neville has faithfully sent out daily radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. But he is not alone. Mutant victims of the plague -- The Infected -- lurk in the shadows... watching Neville's every move... waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind's last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But he knows he is outnumbered... and quickly running out of time. Based on the chilling novel by Richard Matheson.
Director: Francis Lawrence. Stars: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Willow Smith, Charlie Tahan. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 101 min., Horror, Box office gross: $77.211 million, Warner. Available: 3/18.
INTO THE WILD
Freshly graduated from college with a promising future ahead, 22 year-old Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) instead walked out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people. Was Christopher McCandless a heroic adventurer or a naive idealist, a rebellious 1990s Thoreau or another lost American son, a fearless risk-taker or a tragic figure who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature? Each strand of his journey is woven into Sean Penn's screen adaptation of Jon Krakauer's acclaimed bestseller, which is as much about the insatiable yearning for family, home and connection as it is the search for truth and happiness. McCandless' quest took him from the wheat fields of South Dakota to a renegade trip down the Colorado River to the non-conformists' refuge of Slab City, California, and beyond. Along the way, he encountered a series of colorful characters at the very edges of American society who shaped his understanding of life and whose lives he, in turn, changed. In the end, he tested himself by heading alone into the wilds of the great North, where everything he had seen and learned and felt came to a head in ways he never could have expected.
Director: Sean Penn. Stars: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Catherine Keener, Kristen Stewart, Zach Galifianakis. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 148 min., Adventure Drama, Box office gross: $16.168 million, Paramount. Available: 3/4.
KITE RUNNER, THE
Spanning several decades and set against the backdrop of first the Soviet invasion and then the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, "The Kite Runner" tells the story of Amir and Hassan, two boys who form an unlikely friendship in Kabul. But Amir's failure to defend Hassan against a brutal attack leads to crushing guilt and the boys' ultimate separation. Forced to flee Kabul ahead of Soviet troops, Amir and his father escape to the United States to pursue a new life, but years later the adult Amir is presented with an opportunity to "be good again" and come to the aid of his long lost friend's son. A life-affirming story of courage and forgiveness. Based on Khaled Hosseini's best-selling novel
Director: Marc Forster. Stars: Khalid Abdalla, Atossa Leoni, Shaun Toub, Sayed Jafar Masihullah Gharibzada, Zekeria Ebrahimi, Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 127 min., Drama, Box office gross: $14.422 million, Paramount. Available: 3/25.
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA
Based on the bestselling novel by Nobel Prize winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, this is an epic love story that spans a lifetime, set against the breathtaking backdrop of South America during the turn of the century. Traces the Job-like vigil of Florentino Ariza who loses Fermina, the girl of his dreams, to a wealthier suitor and spends the next 50 years building his life and reputation so that one day he might have her.
Director: Mike Newell. Stars: Liev Schreiber, Laura Harring, Javier Bardem, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Angie Cepeda, Ana Claudia Talancon, Rubria Negrao. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 138 min., Drama, Box office gross: $4.474 million, New Line. Available: 3/18.
MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM
243-year-old Edward Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) owns the most amazing store in the world -- a tantalizing toy haven in which everything inside literally comes to life. But when the boss decides to retire, the shop throws a tantrum and all its wonders begin to cease. Now his reluctant manager (Natalie Portman), skeptical accountant (Jason Bateman) and most loyal customer (Zach Mills) must work together to save the emporium ... by finding a little magic within themselves.
For generations of fans worldwide, the name Nancy Drew is synonymous with adventure. This young amateur detective has a mind of her own, a passion for solving mysteries and a reputation for getting into -- and out of -- some very tricky situations. Emma Roberts stars as the resourceful teen detective, who leaves her friendly hometown of River Heights for the West Coast and enrolls at Hollywood High School. There, her unique personal style immediately sets her apart from her self-absorbed, fast-living peers, especially reigning fashionistas Inga and Trish, who can't quite figure her out but know that everything about her is different -- from her super-smarts and retro manners to her perfect picnic lunches and penny loafers. Their less-than-warm reception might bother the average new girl in town, but not Nancy. She has more important things to think about -- namely, a brand new mystery. Even though she promised her worried Dad (Tate Donovan) that she'd quit the "sleuthing" business, it isn't long before Nancy gets a lead on one of the greatest unsolved cases of all time: the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of famous actress Dehlia Draycott.
Director: Andrew Fleming. Stars: Emma Roberts, Josh Flitter, Max Thieriot, Rachael Leigh Cook, Tate Donovan. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 99 min., Family Mystery, Box office gross: $25.584 million, Warner. Available: 3/11.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Violence and mayhem erupt in the parched scrubland and panoramic skies of West Texas after Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles on a suitcase containing $2 million dollars at the site of drug deal gone bad. Fleeing with the money, he is stalked relentlessly by hired gun Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), an unstoppable sociopathic killer unafraid to leave a bloody trail in the wake of his cold-blooded search to recover the cash. As Moss scrambles to hang on to the money and his life, small-town sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) closes in on both men in a tautly plotted cat-and-mouse game. The film simultaneously strips down the American crime drama and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning's headlines. Won the Academy Award for best film of the year, but in our mind it's the second-best film of 2007, behind "There Will Be Blood."
irector: Joel and Ethan Coen. Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Woody Harrelson, Tess Harper, Kelly Macdonald, Garret Dillahunt. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 122 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $50.000 million, Miramax. Available: 3/11.
"Sleuth" was originally filmed in 1972 with Michael Caine as the young Milo Tindal and Laurence Olivier as aging novelist Andrew Wyke. When Wyke discovers that Tindal is having an affair with his wife, he invites him to his country estate where they engage in a increasingly dangerous game of cat and mouse. With a completely re-imagined script by Harold Pinter, Jude Law convinced Caine to take on the role of Wyke in this version, with Law as the younger man.
Ensemble piece set in the futuristic landscape of Los Angeles on July 4, 2008, as it stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental disaster. Boxer Santaros (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is an action star who's stricken with amnesia. His life intertwines with Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar), an adult film star developing her own reality television project, and Roland Taverner (Seann William Scott), an L.A. police officer who holds the key to a vast conspiracy. Directed by Richard Kelly of "Donnie Darko" fame.
Director: Richard Kelly. Stars: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Jill Ritchie, Miranda Richardson, John Larroquette, Jon Lovitz, Will Sasso, Wood Harris, Bai Ling, Joe Campana, Wallace Shawn. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 144 min., Sci Fi Comedy Drama, Box office gross: $.267 million, Sony. Available: 3/18.
THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE
Story of survival, family and friendship. The powerful film follows Audrey Burke (Halle Berry) after she is left reeling by the sudden death of her husband (David Duchovny) in a random act of violence. Adrift in her grief, Audrey invites her husband's close friend Jerry (Del Toro) to move into her home, hoping he can help her and her children cope with their loss. But Jerry is facing a daily battle to stay off drugs and struggles to find his inner resilience just to save himself. Audrey and Jerry's fragile bond is tested as they discover the strength to move forward and the courage to hope.
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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March 1, 2008