OnVideo: NOVEMBER's Top Movies
ANOTHER EARTHThe worlds of two people collide after a tragic accident: Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling), a bright young woman accepted into MIT's astrophysics program, aspires to explore the cosmos. A brilliant composer, John Burroughs (William Mapother), has just reached the pinnacle of his profession and is about to have a second child. Their intimate drama plays out against the astounding discovery of Earth 2, a parallel world in the solar system that poses provocative and fascinating possibilities. Does a new Earth mean a chance at another life? Another destiny? Another self?
ATLAS SHRUGGED -- PART 1Based Ayn Rand's influential 1957 novel about a dystopian future. The book was optioned in 1992 by John Aglialoro, who paid $1 million for complete rights to a film version. Since then, a number of false starts have plagued the project, including former plans to develop the story as a television miniseries. This was planned as the first of a four-part series. Set in 2016, the country is on the verge of economic collapse marked by collectivism and groupthink. Young executive Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling) -- who runs one of the largest remaining railroads despite her inept CEO brother, James (Matthew Marsden) -- begins to notice the mysterious disappearance of the world's leading artists, businessmen and thinkers. To save the railroad from financial ruin, Dagny seeks out entrepreneurial industrialist Henry Rearden (Grant Bowler), whose super-strength metal alloy holds the promise of the future. As government interference continues and the country's most competent and productive minds keep disappearing, Dagny refuses to give up and begins to track down the mysterious force -- the mysterious someone -- behind the destruction of the world economy.
Director: Paul Johansson. Stars: Taylor Schilling, Matthew Marsden, Grant Bowler, Edi Gathegi, Graham Beckel, Jsu Garcia, Michael Lerner, Paul Johansson. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 148 min., Drama, Box office gross: $4.563 million, Fox. Available: 11/8.
BEGINNERSFrom writer-director Mike Mills comes a comedy-drama about how deeply funny and transformative life can be, even at its most serious moments. Oliver (Ewan McGregor) meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna (Melanie Laurent) only months after his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) has passed away. This new love floods Oliver with memories of his father who -- following 44 years of marriage -- came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life. The upheavals of Hal's new honesty, by turns funny and moving, brought father and son closer than they'd ever been able to be. Now Oliver endeavors to love Anna with all the bravery, humor, and hope that his father taught him. "Beginners" imaginatively explores the hilarity, confusion, and surprises of love through the evolving Oliver's consciousness.
Director: Mike Mills. Stars: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Mary Page Keller, Jodi Long. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $5.776 million, Universal. Available: 11/15.
CARS 2Star racecar Lightning McQueen and the incomparable tow truck Mater take their friendship to exciting new places when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world's fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Mater finds himself torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret mission orchestrated by master British super spy Finn McMissile and the stunning rookie field spy Holley Shiftwell. Mater's action-packed journey leads him on an explosive chase through the streets of Japan and Europe, trailed by his friends and watched by the whole world.
Director: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis. Stars: Voices of Larry the Cable Guy, Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro, Brent Musburger, Joe Mantegna, Thomas Kretschmann, Bonnie Hunt, Franco Nero. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: G, 106 min., Animated Family, Box office gross: $186.196 million, Pixar/Disney. Available: 11/1.
CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMSThis breathtaking 3D documentary from the incomparable Werner Herzog follows an exclusive expedition into the nearly inaccessible Chauvet Cave in France, home to the most ancient visual art known to have been created by man. A hit at this year's Toronto Film Festival, "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" is an unforgettable cinematic experience that provides a unique glimpse of the pristine artwork dating back over 30,000 years ago -- almost twice as old as any previous discovery.
THE CHANGE-UPGrowing up together, Mitch and Dave were inseparable best friends, but as the years have passed they've slowly drifted apart. While Dave is an overworked lawyer, husband and father of three, Mitch has remained a single, quasi-employed man-child who has never met a responsibility he liked. To Mitch, Dave has it all: beautiful wife Jamie, kids who adore him and a high-paying job at a prestigious law firm. To Dave, living Mitch's stress free life without obligation or consequence would be a dream come true. Following a drunken night out together, Mitch and Dave's worlds are turned upside down when they wake up in each other's bodies and proceed to freak out. Despite the freedom from their normal routines and habits, the guys soon discover that each other's lives are nowhere near as rosy as they once seemed. Further complicating matters are Dave's sexy legal associate, Sabrina and Mitch's estranged father. With time not on their side, Mitch and Dave comically struggle to avoid completely destroying each other's lives before they can find a way to get their old ones back.
Director: David Dobkin. Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Mircea Monroe, Alan Arkin, Dax Griffin, Sydney Rouviere, Jeanine Jackson, Ed Ackerman, TJ Hassan. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 112 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $36.485 million, Universal. Available: 11/8.
CONAN THE BARBARIANThe legendary Barbarian is back. Having thrived and evolved for eight consecutive decades in the public imagination -- in prose and graphics, on the big screen and small, in games and properties of all kinds -- Conan's exploits in the Hyborian Age come alive again for a new generation. A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters and impossible odds, as Conan realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.
Director: Marcus Nispel. Stars: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 113 min., Fantasy Action, Box office gross: $21.270 million, Lionsgate. Available: 11/22.
CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.At fortysomething, straight-laced Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is living the dream -- good job, nice house, great kids and married to his high school sweetheart. But when Cal learns that his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), has cheated on him and wants a divorce, his "perfect" life quickly unravels. Worse, in today's single world, Cal, who hasn't dated in decades, stands out as the epitome of un-smooth. Now spending his free evenings sulking alone at a local bar, the hapless Cal is taken on as wingman and protege to handsome, thirtysomething player Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). In an effort to help Cal get over his wife and start living his life, Jacob opens Cal's eyes to the many options before him: flirty women, manly drinks and a sense of style that can't be found at Supercuts or The Gap. Cal and Emily aren't the only ones looking for love in what might be all the wrong places: Cal's 13-year-old son, Robbie, is crazy about his 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica, who harbors a crush on Cal. And despite Cal's makeover and his many new conquests, the one thing that can't be made over is his heart, which seems to keep leading him back to where he began.
Director: John Requa, Glenn Ficarra. Stars: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei, John Carroll Lynch, Josh Groban, Analeigh Tipton, Jonah Bobo, Joey King, Beth Littleford. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 118 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $78.510 million, Warner. Available: 11/1.
THE DEVIL'S DOUBLEBased on a true story. Summoned from the frontline to Saddam Hussein's palace in Bagdad in 1987, Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) is thrust into the highest echelons of the "royal family" when he's ordered to become the 'fiday' -- or body double -- to Saddam's son, the notorious "Black Prince" Uday Hussein (also Dominic Cooper), a reckless, sadistic party-boy with a rabid hunger for sex and brutality. With his and his family's lives at stake, Latif must surrender his former self forever as he learns to walk, talk and act like Uday. But nothing could have prepared him for the horror of the Black Prince's psychotic, drug-addled life of fast cars, easy women and impulsive violence. With one wrong move costing him his life, Latif forges an intimate bond with Sarrab (Ludivine Sangier), Uday's seductive mistress who's haunted by her own secrets. But as war looms with Kuwait and Uday's depraved gangster regime threatens to destroy them all, Latif realizes that escape from the devil's den will only come at the highest possible cost.
Director: Lee Tamahori. Stars: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Philip Quast, Mem Ferda, Raad Rawi, Jamie Harding, Nasser Memarzia. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 108 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.2 million, Lionsgate. Available: 11/22.
THE FUTUREWhen a thirtysomething couple (Miranda July and Hamish Linklater) decides to adopt a stray cat, their entire perspective on life changes dramatically, with the decision literally altering the course of time while testing their faith in themselves and each other. Sophie and Jason live in a small L.A. apartment, have jobs they hate, and adopt a sick cat who needs around-the-clock care. Terrified of their looming loss of freedom, they quit their jobs, disconnect their Internet, and set out to pursue their modest dreams. But as the month slips away, the two find themselves living in two starkly different realities. Sophie and Jason must reunite with time, space and their own souls in order to reconnect. Using elements of magical realism -- a talking cat who narrates his own sad tale, a living T-shirt, and a strangely familiar Moon -- the film bravely creates its own universe. With pathos and humor, it invites us to recognize the bitter sweetness of this very moment.
Director: Miranda July. Stars: Miranda July, Hamish Linklater, David Warshofsky, Isabella Acres. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 91 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.551 million, Lionsgate. Available: 11/29.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2In the epic finale, the battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world escalates into an all-out war. The stakes have never been higher and no one is safe. But it is Harry Potter who may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice as he draws closer to the climactic showdown with Lord Voldemort. After 10 wonderful years (and seven movies), the cinematic saga of Harry Potter comes to a close with a stupendous, visceral, special-effects laden extravaganza. If you'll recall from "Part 1," the evil forces of Lord Voldemort have basically taken over Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic in preparation for enslaving their opponents and purifying the world. Harry, Ron and Hermione -- after what seemed like 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness in search of the "horcruxes" that give Voldemort his immortality -- amass enough wizardry strength to face off against the Dark Lord's minions while Harry himself battles the evil one in a battle that would make Raoul Walsh or Sam Fuller proud. This is a fitting end to the Harry Potter saga: a cinematic tour-de-force with strong acting and dazzling special effects. And in what must be the highest-grossing series in movie history -- and a series that has fattened the wallets of virtually half the British actors in the world -- the saga gave us the rare opportunity to watch a group of kids come of age (fictionally) on the big screen, witnessing their childhoods' end at the hands of duplicitous and evil adults (though for every bad adult there's also a positive role model). By the end of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," Ron and Hermione have matured and acknowledge their love for each other while Harry flexes his muscles and kills off the evil father figure. Freud would be proud.
Director: David Yates. Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Matthew Lewis, Jason Isaacs, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 130 min., Fantasy Adventure, Box office gross: $377.104 million, Warner. Available: 11/11.
LARRY CROWNETom Hanks and Julia Roberts come together for a romantic and optimistic comedy about how it's never too late to reinvent yourself. When he suddenly finds himself without his long-standing blue-collar job, Larry Crowne (Hanks) enrolls at his local college to start over. There, he becomes part of an eclectic community of students and develops a crush on his teacher (Roberts).
Director: Tom Hanks. Stars: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bryan Cranston, Wilmer Valderrama, Taraji P. Henson, Maria Canals-Barrera, Malcolm Barrett, George Takei, Nia Vardalos, Jon Seda. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min., Comedy Drama, Box office gross: $35.565 million, Universal. Available: 11/15.
ONE DAYTwenty years ... two people. After one day together -- July 15th, 1988, their college graduation -- Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) begin a friendship that will last a lifetime. She's a working-class girl of principle and ambition who dreams of making the world a better place. He's a wealthy charmer who dreams that the world will be his playground. For the next two decades, key moments of their relationship are experienced over several July 15ths in their lives. Together and apart, Dex and Em move through laughter and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. Somewhere along their journey, they realize that what they are searching and hoping for has been there all along: As the true meaning of that one day back in 1988 is revealed, they come to terms with the nature of love ... and life itself.
Director: Lone Scherfig. Stars: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Stott, Romola Garai, Jamie Sives, Rafe Spall, Jodie Whittaker. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min., Romantic Drama, Box office gross: $13.437 million, Universal. Available: 11/22.
OUR IDIOT BROTHEREvery family has one: The sibling who is always just a little bit behind the curve when it comes to getting his life together. For sisters Liz (Emily Mortimer), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), that person is their perennially upbeat brother Ned (Paul Rudd), an erstwhile organic farmer whose willingness to rely on the honesty of mankind is a less-than-optimum strategy for a tidy, trouble-free existence. Ned may be utterly lacking in common sense, but he is their brother and so, after his girlfriend dumps him and boots him off the farm, his sisters once again come to his rescue. As Liz, Miranda and Natalie each take a turn at housing Ned, their brother's unfailing commitment to honesty creates more than a few messes in their comfortable routines. But as each of their lives begins to unravel, Ned's family comes to realize that maybe, in believing and trusting the people around him, Ned isn't such an idiot after all.
Director: Jesse Peretz. Stars: Paul Rudd, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott, T.J. Miller, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Coogan, Shirley Knight, Hugh Dancy, Sterling Brown. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $24.603 million, Anchor Bay Available: 11/29.
SARAH'S KEYParis, July 1942: Sarah, a 10-year old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door-to-door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard -- their secret hiding place -- and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released. Sixty-seven years later, Sarah's story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas), an American journalist married to a Frenchman, who is commissioned to write an article about that notorious Vel d'Hiv round up. She stumbles upon a family secret that links her to Sarah: Julia learns that the apartment she and her husband Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers -- especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive -- the more she uncovers about Bertrand-s family, about France and, finally, herself. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner. Stars: Kristin Scott Thomas, Melusine Mayance, Niels Arestrup, Frederic Pierrot, Michel Duchaussoy, Dominique Frot, Gisele Casadesus, Aidan Quinn. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 111 min., Drama, Box office gross: $5.852 million, The Weinstein Co. Available: 11/22.
SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIAFamily drama follows the story of Luke Chisolm (Lucas Black), a talented young golfer set on making the pro tour. When his first big shot turns out to be a very public disaster, Luke escapes the pressures of the game and finds himself unexpectedly stranded in Utopia, Texas, home to eccentric rancher Johnny Crawford (Robert Duvall). But there's more to Crawford than meets the eye, and his profound ways of looking at life force Luke to question not only his past choices, but his direction for the future.
Director: Matt Russell. Stars: Robert Duvall, Deborah Ann Woll, Lucas Black, Melissa Leo. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: G, 100 min., Family Drama, Box office gross: $4.3 million, Arc Entertainment. Available: 11/29.
SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FANGrowing up in 19th century China, Lily (Bingbing Li) and Snow Flower (Gianna Jun) are brought together in a Laotong friendship -- a lifelong bond between two women who rely on each other for companionship and comfort. Amid the civil unrest and gender discrimination of the era, the pair deals with life's hardships together until they are separated by marriage and childbirth. As sworn sisters, however, the women continue to communicate through the secret Chinese language of nushu, hiding their stories and messages within the folds of delicate silk fans. In present day Shanghai, the Laotong's descendants Nina (also played by Li) and Sophia (also played by Jun) struggle to maintain the intimacy of their own childhood friendship in the face of demanding careers and complicated love lives. Drawing on lessons of the past, the two modern women must understand the story of their ancestral connection or risk losing one another forever. What unfolds are two stories, generations apart, but everlasting in the notion of love, hope and friendship.
SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLDOn the surface, Marissa Cortez Wilson (Jessica Alba) has it all ... married to a famous spy hunting television reporter, a new baby and intelligent twin step kids. But in reality, trying to mother Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook), who clearly don't want her around, is her toughest challenge yet. Also, her husband, Wilbur (Joel McHale), wouldn't know a spy if he lived with one -- which is exactly the case: Marissa's a retired secret agent. Marissa's world is turned upside down when the maniacal Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) threatens to take over the planet and she's called back into action. With Armageddon quickly approaching, Rebecca and Cecil join their stepmom as Spy Kids and, with a little help from a couple of very familiar Spy Kids, Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara), and some mind-blowing gadgets, they just may be able to save the world and possibly bring their family together while they're at it.
Director: Robert Rodriguez. Stars: Jessica Alba, Mason Cook, Rowan Blanchard, Joel McHale, Jeremy Piven, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Danny Trejo, Ricky Gervais (voice). 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 89 min., Family, Box office gross: $34.223 million, Dimension. Available: 11/22.
SUPER 8In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth -- something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined.
Director: J.J. Abrams. Stars: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Ron Eldard, Noah Emmerich, Gabriel Basso, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, A.J. Michalka, Riley Griffiths, Jessica Tuck, Joel McKinnon Miller. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 112 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $126.728 million, Paramount. Available: 11/22.
30 MINUTES OR LESSNick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a small town pizza delivery guy whose mundane life collides with the big plans of two wanna-be criminal masterminds (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson). The volatile duo kidnap Nick, strap a bomb to his chest, and force him to rob a bank. With mere hours to pull off the impossible task, Nick enlists the help of his ex-best friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari). As the clock ticks, the two must deal with the police, hired assassins, flamethrowers, and their own tumultuous relationship.
Director: Ruben Fleischer. Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Dilshad Vadsaria, Michael Pena, Fred Ward. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 83 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $37.053 million, Sony. Available: 11/29.
WATER FOR ELEPHANTSDevastated by the sudden death of his parents at the height of The Depression, a young dreamer from the wrong side of the tracks, Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson), abandons his veterinary studies at Cornell University. With no other family, no house, and no money, Jacob stows away on a train carrying the circus performers of The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Hired as a veterinarian to care for the troupe's animals, Jacob is temporarily filled with the promise of an exciting life that comes with a traveling circus troupe. However, as he builds a rapport and falls in love with the star of the show, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), they become prey to the circus's owner, Marlena's violent and abusive husband August (Christoph Waltz). As the circus begins to crumble from within and against all odds, Jacob and Marlena come together and fall in love through their compassion for a special elephant. With their love on the line, Jacob and Marlena come to a crossroads that will forever change their destiny.
Director: Francis Lawrence. Stars: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, Paul Schneider, Jim Norton, Mark Povinelli, Richard Brake, Hal Holbrook. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 120 min., Drama, Box office gross: $58.700 million, Fox. Available: 11/1.
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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November 1, 2011