OnVideo: MAY's Top Movies
BIUTIFULA love story between a father and his children. This is the journey of Uxbal, a conflicted man who struggles to reconcile fatherhood, love, spirituality, crime, guilt and mortality amidst the dangerous underworld of modern Barcelona. His livelihood is earned out of bounds: either by helping smugglers and illegal aliens, by selling knock-off goods, or as a spiritual advisor to his neighbors. He lives for his children and navigates the shoals of the Spanish underclass, an unfaithful wife (who's having an affair with his brother) and impending death. But through it all a spark of humanity glows, handed down from father to children. An incredible performance by Javier Bardem. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Stars: Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib, Guillermo Estrella, Eduard Fernandez. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 148 min., Drama, Box office gross: $3.772 million, Lionsgate. Available: 5/31.
BLUE VALENTINERyan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this honest, moving, and uninhibited love story. A complex portrait of a contemporary American marriage, "Blue Valentine" tells the story of David and Cindy, a couple who have been together for several years but who are at an impasse in their relationship. While Cindy has blossomed into a woman with opportunities and options, David is still the same person he was when they met, and is unable to accept either Cindy's growth or his lack of it. The narrative unfolds in two distinct time frames, juxtaposing scenes of first love and youthful sexuality, with those of disenchantment and discord as they spend a night away from their daughter in an attempt to save the failing marriage. Director Derek Cianfrance creates a raw, naturalistic portrayal of the relationship, while simultaneously depicting two young people making that first, intoxicating romantic connection through music, dance and silly jokes. As it traces the arc of Dean and Cindy's relationship, the film poses questions that touch us all: How do you sustain love? Is it even possible to do so? What do you when your dreams don't come true, or your life doesn't go as planned? What do you do when your partner doesn't deliver on the promise of his or her potential? Highlighted by uncompromising scenes of sexual intimacy and emotional intensity.
Director: Derek Cianfrance. Stars: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Faith Wladyka, John Doman, Mike Vogel. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Drama, Box office gross: $8.829 million, The Weinstein Co./Anchor Bay. Available: 5/10.
THE DILEMMASince college, confirmed bachelor Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and happily married Nick (Kevin James) have been through thick and thin. Now partners in an auto design firm, the two pals are vying to land a dream project that would really launch their company. With Ronny's girlfriend, Beth, and Nick's wife, Geneva, by their sides, they're unbeatable. But Ronny's world is turned upside down when he inadvertently sees Geneva out with another man and makes it his mission to get answers. As the amateur investigation dissolves his world into comic mayhem, he learns that Nick has a few secrets of his own. Now, with the clock ticking and pressure mounting on the biggest presentation of their careers, Ronny must decide how and when he will reveal the truth to his best friend.
Director: Ron Howard. Stars: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum, Queen Latifah. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 118 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $48.221 million, Universal. Available: 5/3.
DRIVE ANGRYMilton (Nicolas Cage) is a hardened felon who has broken out of Hell intent on finding the vicious cult that brutally murdered his daughter and kidnapped her baby: he has three days to stop them before they sacrifice his infant granddaughter beneath a full moon. He joins forces with Piper (Amber Heard) -- a sexy, tough-as-nails waitress with a '69 Charger, who's also seeking redemption of her own. The two of them are hot on the trail of the charismatic Jonah King and his murderous followers. King will throw every one of his faithful under the wheels of Milton's car to fulfill hist destiny and unleash hell on earth. But the bloodthirsty cult is the least of Milton's problems. The police are after him, too. And worse. An enigmatic killer known only as "The Accountant." The Accountant -- who has been sent by the Devil to retrieve Milton and deliver him back to Hell -- knows what Milton is trying to and simply doesn't care. With wicked cunning and hypnotic savagery, the Accountant will relentlessly pursue Milton at high speed across the forgotten back roads of the American south. Fueled by high octane and pure rage, Milton and Piper must battle the onslaught of King's disciples, avenge his murdered daughter, and save his granddaughter before his last chance at redemption is revoked. A true guilty pleasure for exploitation and grindhouse freaks.
Director: Patrick Lussier. Stars: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, David Morse, William Fichtner, Christa Campbell, Katy Mixon, Billy Burke. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Action, Box office gross: $10.510 million, Summit Entertainment. Available: 5/31.
FROM PRADA TO NADAA contemporary, Latina version of Jane Austen's classic novel "Sense and Sensibility." Two sisters, one a young beauty who chooses passion over logic, the other a law student whose fixed moral compass keeps her from following her desires, are uprooted from their luxurious home when their father suddenly passes away. Out of money and out of options, the women move into their Great Aunt Aurelia's modest, but lively home in the Latino-centric Boyle Heights neighborhood of East L.A., where they find themselves thrown into a world that, despite their heritage, seems completely foreign. Over time, they discover the beauty of the culture they once fought so desperately to hide. And in the process they find the one thing that had eluded them: love.
Director: Angel Gracia. Stars: Camilla Belle, Alexa Vega, Wilmer Valderrama, April Bowlby, Nicholas D'Agosto. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $3.016 million, Lionsgate. Available: 5/3.
GNOMEO & JULIETShakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" is recast in this modern animated update with garden gnomes as the star-crossed lovers. Caught up in a feud between neighbors, Gnomeo and Juliet must overcome as many obstacles as their namesakes. But with flamboyant pink flamingos and epic lawn mower races, can this young couple find lasting happiness? Features music by Elton John. In 3D.
Director: Kelly Asbury. Stars: Voices of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Jason Statham, Ashley Jensen, Patrick Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Maggie Smith. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: G, 84 min., Animated, Box office gross: $96.866 million, Disney. Available: 5/24.
THE GREEN HORNETBritt Reid (Seth Rogen) is the son of L.A.'s most prominent and respected media magnate and perfectly happy to maintain a directionless existence on the party scene -- until his father (Tom Wilkinson) mysteriously dies, leaving Britt his vast media empire. Striking an unlikely friendship with one of his father's more industrious and inventive employees, Kato (Jay Chou), they see their chance to do something meaningful for the first time in their lives: fight crime. But in order to do this, they decide to become criminals themselves -- protecting the law by breaking it, Britt becomes the vigilante The Green Hornet as he and Kato hit the streets. Using all his ingenuity and skill, Kato builds the ultimate in advanced retro weaponry, The Black Beauty, an indestructible car equal parts firepower and horsepower. Rolling in a mobile fortress on wheels and striking the bad guys with Kato's clever gadgets, The Green Hornet and Kato quickly start making a name for themselves, and with the help of Britt's new secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), they begin hunting down the man who controls L.A.'s gritty underworld: Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz). But Chudnofsky has plans of his own: to swat down The Green Hornet once and for all.
Director: Michel Gondry. Stars: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Tom Wilkinson, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 108 min., Action, Box office gross: $96.637 million, Sony. Available: 5/3.
I AM NUMBER FOURThree are dead. Who is Number Four? Extraordinary teen John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. Changing his identity, moving from town to town with his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John is always the new kid with no ties to his past. In the small Ohio town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected, life-changing events -- his first love (Dianna Agron), powerful new abilities and a connection to the others who share his incredible destiny. Based on the young adult novel by Pittacus Lore.
Director: D.J. Caruso. Stars: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer, Callan McAuliffe. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 104 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $53.868 million, DreamWorks. Available: 5/24.
THE ILLUSIONISTBased on the script by French comic legend Jacques Tati and directed by two-time Oscar-nominee Sylvain Chomet ("The Triplets of Belleville"). A rich and touching animated feature about the father-daughter relationship between an aging magician whose art is slowly becoming obsolete and a young orphan girl just at the start of life's journey. The script -- originally penned by the late Jaques Tati ("Mr. Hulot's Holiday," "Mon Oncle") as a love letter to his daughter -- serendipitously found its way into the hands of Chomet by way of his sole surviving daughter, Sophie Tatischeff, who thought his hand-drawn animation style would perfectly suit the film. An outdated, aging magician, forced to wander from country to country, city to city and station to station in search of a stage to perform his act, meets a young girl at the start of her life's journey. Alice is a teenage girl with all her capacity for childish wonder still intact. She plays at being a woman without realizing the day to stop pretending is fast approaching. She doesn't know yet that she loves The Illusionist like she would a father; he already knows that he loves her as he would a daughter. Their destinies will collide, but nothing -- not even the magic or the power of illusion -- can stop the voyage of discovery.
Director: Sylvain Chomet. Stars: Voices of Jean-Claude Donda, Eilidh Rankin. In French with English subtitles. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 80 min., Animated, Box office gross: $1.974 million, Sony. Available: 5/10.
JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVERInside look at the rise of Justin Bieber from street performer in the small town of Stratford, Ontario to internet phenomenon to global super star culminating with a dream sold out show at New York's famed Madison Square Garden. In 3D no less.
MAO'S LAST DANCERBased on Li Cunxin's bestselling autobiography of the same name, "Mao's Last Dancer" is the fascinating and epic tale of Li Cunxin, a peasant boy from rural China who beats impossible odds to become a world-renowned ballet dancer. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao's cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In 1979, during a cultural exchange to Texas, he fell in love with an American woman. Two years later, he managed to defect and went on to perform as a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet.
Director: Bruce Beresford. Stars: Chi Cao, Bruce Greenwood, Kyle MacLachlan, Joan Chen, Amanda Schull. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 117 min., Drama, Box office gross: $4,664 million, Fox. Available: 5/3.
THE MECHANICArthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a "mechanic" -- an elite assassin with a strict code and unique talent for cleanly eliminating targets. It's a job that requires professional perfection and total detachment, and Bishop is the best in the business. But when his mentor and close friend Harry (Donald Sutherland) is murdered, Bishop is anything but detached. His next assignment is self-imposed -- he wants those responsible dead. His mission grows complicated when Harry's son (Ben Foster) approaches him with the same vengeful goal and a determination to learn Bishop's trade. Though Bishop has always acted alone, he can't turn his back on Harry's son, and he takes the impulsive student deep into his world -- and a deadly partnership is born. But while in pursuit of their ultimate mark, deceptions threaten to surface and those hired to fix problems become problems themselves.
NO STRINGS ATTACHEDEmma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) are life-long friends who almost ruin everything by having sex one morning. In order to protect their friendship, they make a pact to keep their relationship strictly "no strings attached." "No strings" means no jealousy, no expectations, no fighting, no flowers, no baby voices. It means they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, in whatever public place they want, as long as they don't fall in love. The question becomes -- who's going to fall first? And can their friendship survive?
Director: Ivan Reitman. Stars: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Olivia Thirlby, Mindy Kaling, Cary Elwes, Greta Gerwig, Kevin Kline, Lake Bell. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 108 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $70.257 million, Paramount. Available: 5/10.
THE RITEFollows skeptical seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue), who reluctantly attends exorcism school at the Vatican. While in Rome, he meets an unorthodox priest, Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), who introduces him to the darker side of his faith.
Director: Mikael Hafström. Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Rutger Hauer, Marta Gastini. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 112 min., Horror, Box office gross: $32.310 million, Warner. Available: 5/17.
THE ROOMMATEShe's cute. She's loyal. She's psychotic. And, unfortunately for college freshman Sara , she's her new roommate. When Sara arrives at school, she finds new romance with Stephen and forms a fast friendship with her roommate Rebecca. What begins as camaraderie soon turns creepy, and Sara comes face-to-face with the terrifying realization that her new best friend is obsessive, unbalanced ... and maybe even a killer.
Director: Christian E. Christiansen. Stars: Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet, Aly Michalka. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 91 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $37.300 million, Sony. Available: 5/17.
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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May 1, 2011