OnVideo MAY Video Reviews
Terry (Colin Farrell) is a chronic gambler in debt over his head; his brother Ian (Ewan McGregor) is a young man in love with a beautiful actress he has recently met (Hayley Atwell). When their Uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson) arrives in London under mysterious circumstances, the brothers' lives gradually become entangled in sinister situations with intense and unfortunate results.
Director: Woody Allen. Stars: Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell, Tom Wilkinson, Hayley Atwell, Sally Hawkins. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 109 min., Crime Thriller, Box office gross: $.971 million, The Weinstein Co.. Available: 5/27
Durell (Ice Cube) and LeeJohn (Tracy Morgan) are best friends and bumbling petty criminals. When told they have one week to pay a $17,000 debt or Durell will lose his son, they come up with a desperate scheme to rob their neighborhood church. Instead, they end up spending the night in the presence of the Lord and are forced to deal with much more than they bargained for.
Director: David E. Talbert. Stars: Ice Cube, Katt Williams, Tracy Morgan, Loretta Devine, Michael Beach, Keith David, Regina Hall, Malinda Williams, Clifton Powell, Nick Turturro, Chi McBride. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $37.931 million, Sony. Available: 5/6.
GRACE IS GONE
John Cusack gives a powerful and poignant performance as Stanley, an ordinary man struggling to comprehend his wife's sudden death in the Iraq war. Choosing not to confront her death, he takes his two girls on a spontaneous road trip, buying him much needed time as he soul searches for a way to tell them the tragic news he knows will change their lives forever.
GREAT DEBATERS, THE
Professor Melvin Tolson (Denzel Washington), a controversial figure who challenged the social mores of the time, used unconventional and ferocious teaching methods to shape a debate team at Wiley College, a small African American university in Texas during the 1930s. Fighting against all odds and paving their way to success, the team reaches a pivotal moment when they are faced with one of their greatest challenges yet ... going up against Harvard University's critically acclaimed national championship debate team.
Director: Denzel Washington. Stars: Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise, Jumee Smollett, Nate Parker. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 124 min., Bio-Drama, Box office gross: $30.219 million, Weinstein Company. Available: 5/13.
I'M NOT THERE
Unconventional portrait of the greatest singer-songwriter of the 20th century. Exploring the multidimensional nature and shifting personae of Bob Dylan -- from the public to the private to the fantastical - Todd Haynes' ("Far From heaven," "Velvet Goldmine") "I'm Not There" weaves together a daring and complex narrative of an ever-elusive American icon, dramatizing the complexities of this gifted artist's protean existence and work while giving imaginative shape to the various aspects of both his life and work. The film features an all-star cast with six actors each portraying a different aspect of Dylan, including Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, the late Heath Ledger as well as Ben Whishaw and Marcus Carl Franklin. " I'm Not There" skillfully combines a biographical tale with ponderous metaphors and legendary myths. Presenting a versatile and creative use of Dylan's music, only Franklin performs his song with his own voice; the rest of the soundtrack mixes original Dylan recordings with existing covers, including new versions by a variety of musicians including Ritchie Havens, Iggy Pop, John Doe and Sonic Youth, among others. This is the first biographical feature project to secure the approval of the music legend.
Director: Todd Haynes. Stars: Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Ben Whishaw, Marcus Carl Franklin, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 135 min., BioDrama, Box office gross: $4.001 million, The Weinstein Co. Available: 5/6
Bridget Cardigan (Diane Keaton) is shocked to learn that she is on the verge of losing her home and comfortable upper middle class lifestyle when her husband Don (Ted Danson) is downsized from his job. Armed only with a decades old English degree and years as a dedicated mother and corporate wife, Bridget is forced into the unfamiliar labor market with no job skills. Finally, she accepts the only position she can find -- janitor at the Federal Reserve Bank. The one-time suburban mom soon discovers she has more in common with her new co-workers than she thought. Bridget forges an unexpected bond with Nina (Queen Latifah), a hard-working single mom with two kids to raise, and Jackie (Katie Holmes), an exuberant free spirit with nothing to lose. Caught up in a system that underestimates their talents and keeps their dreams just out of reach, Bridget, Nina and Jackie set out to even the score. After a lifetime of playing by the rules, the three devise a plan to smuggle soon-to-be destroyed currency out of the supposedly airtight Reserve. As the unlikely crime syndicate amasses piles of cash, it looks like they have pulled off the perfect crime -- until a minor misstep alerts the authorities. With more money than they know what to do with, the women are pushed to the limits of their ingenuity to stay one step ahead of the law.
Director: Callie Khouri. Stars: Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes, Ted Danson, Roger Cross, Adam Rothenberg, Finesse Mitchell. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 103 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $20.536 million, Anchor Bay. Available: 5/13.
NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS
In this follow up to the boxoffice hit "National Treasure," treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) once again sets out on an exhilarating, action-packed global quest to unearth hidden history and treasures. When a missing page from the diary of John Wilkes Booth surfaces, Ben's great-great grandfather is suddenly implicated as a key conspirator in Abraham Lincoln's death. Determined to prove his ancestor's innocence, Ben follows an international chain of clues that takes him on a chase from Paris to London and ultimately back to America. This journey leads Ben and his crew not only to surprising revelations -- but to the trail of the world's most treasured secrets.
Director: Jon Turteltaub. Stars: Nicolas Cage, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, Ed Harris, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Bruce Greenwood, Helen Mirren. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 124 min., Drama, Box office gross: $218.701 million, Disney. Available: 5/20
OVER HER DEAD BODY
Devastated when his fiancee Kate (Eva Longoria Parker) is killed on their wedding day, Henry (Paul Rudd) reluctantly agrees to consult a psychic named Ashley (Lake Bell) at the urging of his sister Chloe (Lindsay Sloane). Despite his skepticism over her psychic abilities, Henry finds himself falling hard for Ashley, and vice versa. But there is a big snag. Ashley is being haunted by Kate's ghost, who considers it her heavenly duty to break up Henry and Ashley's fledgling romance, if it is the last thing she does on this earthly plane.
P.S. I LOVE YOU
An adaptation of the best-selling Cecelia Ahern novel about a grieving young widow who discovers her late husband has left her a list of tasks revealed in 10 monthly messages that are intended to ease her out of grief and transition her to a new life. Holly Kennedy (Hilary Swank) is beautiful, smart, and married to the love of her life-a passionate, funny and impetuous Irishman named Gerry (Gerard Butler). So when Gerry's life is taken by an illness, it takes the life out of Holly. The only one who can help her is the person who is no longer there. Nobody knows Holly better than Gerry. So it's a good thing he planned ahead. Before he died, Gerry wrote Holly a series of letters that will guide her, not only through her grief but in rediscovering herself. The first message arrives on Holly's 30th birthday in the form of a cake and, to her utter shock, a tape recording from Gerry, who proceeds to order her to get out and "celebrate herself." In the weeks and months that follow, more letters from Gerry are delivered in surprising ways, each sending her on a new adventure and each signing off in the same way: P.S. I Love You. Holly's mother (Kathy Bates) and best friends, Sharon (Gina Gershon) and Denise (Lisa Kudrow), begin to worry that Gerry's letters are keeping Holly tied to the past, but, in fact, each letter is pushing her further into a new future. With Gerry's words as her guide, Holly embarks on a journey of rediscovery.
Director: Richard LaGravenese. Stars: Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, James Marsters, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jr., Dean Winters. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 126 min., Romantic Drama, Box office gross: $53.535 million, Warner. Available: 5/6
He's back. Twenty years after the last film in the series, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) has retreated to northern Thailand, where he's running a longboat on the Salween River. On the nearby Thai-Burma (Myanmar) border, the world's longest-running civil war, the Burmese-Karen conflict, rages into its 60th year. But Rambo, who lives a solitary, simple life in the mountains and jungles fishing and catching poisonous snakes to sell, has long given up fighting, even as medics, mercenaries, rebels and peace workers pass by on their way to the war-torn region. That all changes when a group of human rights missionaries search out the "American river guide" John Rambo. When Sarah (Julie Benz) and Michael Bennett (Paul Schulze) approach him, they explain that since last year's trek to the refugee camps, the Burmese military has laid landmines along the road, making it too dangerous for overland travel. They ask Rambo to guide them up the Salween and drop them off, so they can deliver medical supplies and food to the Karen tribe. After initially refusing to cross into Burma, Rambo takes them, dropping off Sarah, Michael and the aid workers. Two weeks later, pastor Arthur Marsh (Ken Howard) finds Rambo and tells him the aid workers haven't returned. He's mortgaged his home and raised money from his congregation to hire mercenaries to get the missionaries, who are being held captive by the Burmese army. Although the United States military trained him to be a lethal super soldier in Vietnam, decades later Rambo's reluctance for violence and conflict are palpable, his scars faded, yet visible. However, the lone warrior knows what he must do.
Director: Sylvester Stallone. Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Paul Schulze, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Rey Gallegos, Tim Kang, Jake LaBotz, Maung Maung Khin, Ken Howard. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 91 min., Action, Box office gross: $42.724 million, Lionsgate. Available: 5/27.
Animal enthusiast Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn) and his sidekick Fred Wolf (Allen Covert) host an ailing wildlife TV show "Strange Wilderness, which is in a steep ratings decline. Desperate to save the show, Peter hatches a scheme to find the one animal that could truly turn the show around and change the nature-show landscape forever -- Bigfoot.
Director: Fred Wolf. Stars: Steve Zahn, Allen Covert, Jonah Hill, Ashley Scott, Peter Dante, Harry Hamlin, Robert Patrick, Joe Don Baker, Justin Long, Jeff Garlin, Ernest Borgnine. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: R, 87 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $6.563 million, Paramount. Available: 5/20
Secret service cyber criminal division agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) gets caught in a very personal and deadly cat-and-mouse game with a serial killer who knows that people (being what they are -- both curious and drawn to the dark side of things) will log onto an "untraceable" Web site where he conducts violent and painful murders live on the net. The more people log on, the quicker and more violently the victim dies. It's up to March and her team - who in the past have not met a criminal they couldn't catch - to track down what turns out to be an untraceable murderer.
Director: Gregory Hoblit. Stars: Diane Lane, Colin Hanks, Erin Carufel, Billy Burke, Joseph Cross, Mary Beth Hurt. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $28.687 million, Sony. Available: 5/13.
YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH
A film about growing young. Lightning strikes a professor (Tim Roth) so close to death that he ages backwards, from 70 to 40 in a week, attracting the interest of the world - and the Nazi - in the dark days prior to World War II. On the run with a new love for life - but with no hope of knowing his phenomenal fate - he's pursued through far-flung locations including Romania, Switzerland, Malta and India. The screenplay was adapted from a novella by legendary Romanian author Mircea Eliade. This is director Francis Ford Coppola's first film in a decade.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola. Stars: Tim Roth, Matt Damon, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, Andre Hennicke. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 124 min., Fantasy Drama, Box office gross: $.239 million, Sony. Available: 5/13
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, 2008