OnVideo OCTOBER Video Reviews
BATTLE OF ALGIERS, THE
One of the most influential films in the history of political cinema, Gillo Pontecorvo's "The Battle of Algiers" focuses on the harrowing events of 1957, a key year in Algeria's struggle for independence from France. Shot in the streets of Algiers in documentary style, the film vividly recreates the tumultuous Algerian uprising against the occupying French in the 1950s. As violence escalates on both sides, the French torture prisoners for information and the Algerians resort to terrorism in their quest for independence. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range, women plant bombs in cafes. The French win the battle, but ultimately lose the war. The three-disc set features a new high-definition digital transfer. In French with English subtitles.
BREAKIN' ALL THE RULES
Breaking up is never easy. For Quincy Watson (Jamie Foxx) it's just another misfortune added on to his list of problems. After getting fired from his job and dumped by his girlfriend, Quincy has motivation to do nothing else but sit at home and write anguished letters to his ex telling her how bad he feels over how tactlessly she ended their relationship. His cousin Evan (Morris Chestnut) is the publisher of a popular men's magazine and persuades Quincy into transforming his letters into an instructional book about how to successfully break up with your girlfriend. Quincy becomes an instant expert on the subject and his book tops the best-seller charts. The problems start to arise when Quincy starts doing the dirty work for his friends -- he goes as far as showing up in the place of Evan to break up with his girlfriend Nicky (Gabrielle Union). What unravels after this is a whirlwind of mistaken identities and romantic confusions, but when Nicky finds out what Quincy is up to, the tables are turned and a heated battle of the sexes is underway.
Director: Daniel Taplitz. Stars: Jamie Foxx, Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnut, Jennifer Esposito. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 85 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $11.827 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/12, DVD: Day & Date.
CINDERELLA STORY, A
Substitute a cell phone for a glass slipper, a convertible for a pumpkin, and an L.A. suburb for a kingdom far, far away and what do you get? A pre-teen twist on the Cinderella tale! High school student Sam (Hilary Duff) scrubs floors at a diner, copes with her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, and all the while dreams of Princeton (the perfect spot for a would-be princess to find a prince). But maybe she has a Prince Charming already: her anonymous e-mail buddy (Chad Michael Murray) who arranges to meet her at the Halloween dance. Sam panics when Mr. Anonymous turns out to be the coolest guy on campus. Can he love a girl who isn't part of the in crowd? Can fairy tales come true?
Director: Mark Rosman. Stars: Hilary Duff, Chad Michael Murray, Jennifer Coolidge, Regina King, Dan Byrd. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 95 min.), Teen romance, 2004, Box office gross: $51.140 million, (Warner), $22.99 VHS SRP, Available: 10/19, DVD: Day & Date.
DAWN OF THE DEAD
A re-envisioning of George A. Romero's apocalyptic zombie horror classic 25 years later. Why it started -- where it started -- NOT KNOWN. Whatever happened, however it started, overnight, the world has become a living nightmare of surreal proportions, with the planet's population hit by an inexplicable, unfathomable and lethal plague -- and the dead aren't staying dead. Corpses yearning for their next meal are now stalking the few remaining survivors, driven by their insatiable hunger to feed upon the flesh of the living. After a terrifying escape from her suburban Wisconsin home on the morning after, Ana Clark (Sarah Polley) runs into a small group of the still-living, including: a stoic police officer, Kenneth (Ving Rhames); Michael, an unassuming electronics salesman (Jake Weber); a street- rough Andre (Mekhi Phifer) and his pregnant wife. This ragtag group seeks refuge in a fortress of the late 20th Century -- an abandoned, upscale suburban mall. As the world outside grows more hellish, as the ever-increasing army of decomposing zombies tirelessly strive to infiltrate the mall, the survivors battle the undead, each other and their own fears and suspicions. Sealed off from the rest of what used to be the world, the mall's inhabitants -- now one of the last bastions of humanity -- must learn to co-exist with each other and use every available resource in their fight to remain alive, and more importantly, human. When there is no room in hell, the dead will walk the earth. Available in the R-rated theatrical version and a never-before-seen unrated director's cut deemed too scary for theaters.
Director: Zack Snyder. Stars: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 100 min.), Horror, 2004, Box office gross: $58.885 million, (Universal), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 10/5, DVD: Day & Date.
DAY AFTER TOMORROW, THE
What if we are on the brink of a new Ice Age? This is the question that haunts climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid). Hall's research indicates that global warming could trigger an abrupt and catastrophic shift in the planet's climate. The ice cores that he's drilled in Antarctica show that it happened before, 10,000 years ago. And now he's warning officials that it could happen again if they don't act soon. But his warning comes too late. It all begins when Hall witnesses a piece of ice the size of Rhode Island break off the Antarctic Ice Shelf. Then a series of increasingly severe weather events start to unfold around the globe: hail the size of grapefruit batters Tokyo, record-breaking hurricane winds pound Hawaii, snow falls in New Delhi, and then a devastating series of tornadoes whips through Los Angeles. A phone call from a colleague in Scotland, Professor Rapson (Ian Holm), confirms Jack's worst fears: these intense weather events are symptoms of a massive global change. Melting polar caps has poured too much fresh water into the oceans and disrupted the currents that stabilize our climate system. Global warming has pushed the planet over the edge and into a new Ice Age. And it all will happen during one global super storm. While Jack warns the White House of the impending climate shift, his 17 year-old son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) finds himself trapped in New York City where he and some friends have been competing in a high school academic competition. As full-scale, massive evacuations to the south begin, Jack heads north to New York City to save Sam. But not even Jack is prepared for what is about to happen -- to him, to his son, and to his planet.
Director: Roland Emmerich. Stars: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Dash Mihok, Jay O. Sanders, Sela Ward, Ian Holm. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 124 min.), Science fiction, 2004, Box office gross: $180.215 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/12, DVD: Day & Date.
One of the most controversial and provocative films of the year, Fahrenheit 9/11 is Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore's searing examination of the Bush administration's actions in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11. With his characteristic humor and dogged commitment to uncovering the facts, Moore considers the presidency of George W. Bush and where it has led us. He looks at how -- and why -- Bush and his inner circle avoided pursuing the Saudi connection to 9/11, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis and Saudi money had funded Al Qaeda. "Fahrenheit 9/11" shows us a nation kept in constant fear by FBI alerts and lulled into accepting a piece of legislation, the USA Patriot Act, that infringes on basic civil rights. It is in this atmosphere of confusion, suspicion and dread that the Bush Administration makes its headlong rush towards war in Iraq -- and "Fahrenheit 9/11" takes us inside that war to tell the stories we haven't heard, illustrating the awful human cost to U.S. soldiers and their families. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, as Moore exposes all the foibles and follies of the president and his administration. You'll be dumbfounded as the president sits dumbfounded after aides interrupt his reading of a children's book to an elementary school class to inform him of the attacks of 9/11. Admittedly, Moore here is preaching to the Gospel -- but it's a gospel that's growing larger and larger every day, as witnessed by the astonishing boxoffice take of the film. If you're a Bush supporter, or straddling the fence, see this film. It may just change your mind. (And please note: polemics and manipulation of images aside, Moore had all the facts he presents in this film verified by neutral sources).
Director: Michael Moore. Stars: . CC, (MPAA rating: R, 122 min.), Documentary, 2004, Box office gross: $113.229 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/5, DVD: Day & Date.
GARFIELD THE MOVIE
The long-running, popular comic strip about the fat and lazy cat named Garfield comes to life with this live-action Hollywood comedy. Based on characters created by Jim Davis, the film tells the story of this supremely spoiled pet, who wants the affection of everyone around him, only he wants it on his own terms. Trouble arises one day when, under the influence of the beautiful veterinarian Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt), Garfield's owner Jon (Breckin Meyer) stuns him by bringing home a cuddly dog, Odie. Jealous at the attention Odie is receiving, Garfield locks Odie out of the house. Odie runs away and when he's kidnapped by the evil television personality Happy Chapman (Stephen Tobolowsky), Garfield realizes his mistake, and embarks on a brave mission to rescue his new housemate. A real snoozer.
Director: Peter Hewitt. Stars: Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Stephen Tobolowsky, Bill Murray (Voice of Garfield). CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 82 min.), Animated, 2004, Box office gross: $71.926 million, (Fox), $19.98 VHS SRP, Available: 10/19, DVD: Day & Date.
Fluffy comedy. Twenty-something Helen Harris (Kate Hudson) is living the life she always dreamed of. Her career at a top Manhattan modeling agency is on the rise, and she enjoys the city's non-stop nightlife. But her carefree lifestyle comes to a halt when one phone call changes everything. Helen soon finds herself responsible for her sister's children (Hayden Panettiere, Spencer Breslin, Abigail Breslin). The fun begins as Helen goes through the transformation from super hip to super mom. Along the way, Helen finds love in the most unusual place -- with Dan Parker (John Corbett), the handsome young pastor of the kids' new school. Helen realizes she has to make a choice between the life she's always loved and the new loves of her life.
Director: Garry Marshall. Stars: Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Hayden Panettiere, Spencer Breslin, Abigail Breslin, Helen Mirren. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 119 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $36.221 million, (Buena Vista), $24.99 VHS SRP, Available: 10/12, DVD: Day & Date.
"Good girl" Mary (Jena Malone) and her domineering best friend, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), are starting their senior year at the top of the social food chain at American Eagle Christian High School -- that is until Mary's boyfriend tells her he thinks he might be gay. When Jesus appears to her in a vision, she heeds his message to "do everything she can to help him," and, to her horror, she ends up pregnant. Suddenly, Mary begins to question everything she's believed in, and Hilary Faye and her devoted "disciples" (including Heather Matarazzo) turn against her. As an outcast, Mary finds herself alone until she's befriended by the school's other pariahs: Hilary Faye's cynical, wheelchair-bound brother, Roland (Macaulay Culkin); the principal's skater heartthrob son, Patrick (Patrick Fugit); and the high school's lone Jew, an exuberant rebel named Cassandra (Eva Amurri).
Director: Brian Dannelly. Stars: Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin, Patrick Fugit, Heather Matarazzo, Eva Amurri, Martin Donovan, Mary-Louise Parker. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 92 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $8.479 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/5, DVD: Day & Date.
Deep in the mountains of Carpathia lies the mysterious and mythic land of Transylvania -- a world where evil is ever-present, where danger rises as the sun sets, and where the monsters that inhabit man's deepest nightmares take form. Set in 19th Century London, Rome, Paris and Transylvania -- where mankind is in constant danger from incarnate evil in a multitude of forms: monsters that outlive generations, defying repeated attacks from the doomed brave souls that challenge them in their never-ending war upon the human race -- the film follows the adventures of Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), the legendary monster hunter born in the pages of Bram Stoker's "Dracula." In his ongoing battle to rid the world of its fiendish creatures, Van Helsing, on order of a secret society, travels to Transylvania to bring down the lethally seductive, enigmatically powerful Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) and joins forces with the fearless Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale), out to rid her family of a generations-old curse by defeating the vampire. Also populating the film's dense canvas are Dr. Frankenstein's misunderstood monster, Anna's stalwart brother who transforms under the full moon into the Wolf Man, Dr. Frankenstein's loyal yet treacherous assistant, Igor; Carl, a friar entrusted with ensuring Van Helsing's safe return; and Dracula's three bloodthirsty brides who will stop at nothing to help their master in his plan to subvert human civilization and rule over a world of havoc, fear and darkness.
Director: Stephen Sommer. Stars: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Will Kemp, Shuler Hensley. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 132 min.), Horror thriller, 2004, Box office gross: $118.972 million, (Universal), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 10/19, DVD: Day & Date.
Two ambitious but unlucky FBI agents (Shawn and Marlon Wayans) go deep undercover as female, high society debutantes in the exclusive Hamptons resort to investigate a kidnapping ring. But as they strut their way into the biggest social event of the year they find that breaking into high society scene is a lot tougher than it looks. Despite their best efforts, agents Marcus and Kevin Copeland have worked their way down to the bottom of the FBI food chain. Their most recent bust was a failure and they are hanging on to their jobs by a thread. When a plot to kidnap spoiled socialite sisters Brittany and Tiffany Wilson is uncovered, the big case is given to Marcus and Kevin's rivals Vincent Gomez (Eddie Velez) and Jake Harper (Lochlyn Munro). To add to their humiliation, Kevin and Marcus are handed a thankless menial task -- to escort the Gucci-clad spoiled brats safely from the airport to their hotel in the Hamptons. Even they can't get that one wrong. Right? When Tiffany's pampered pooch, Baby, causes a traffic mishap, a fight ensues and the two women get bruised and refuse to show their less than perfect faces at the important society weekend. Faced with the prospect of unemployment, Kevin hatches a plan: He and Marcus will go undercover as the demanding divas and, in the process, try to snare the kidnappers and restore their reputations. With the real Wilson girls safely ensconced in a luxury New York hotel, Marcus and Kevin assume their identities and spring their most unlikely sister act on the unsuspecting creme de la creme of Hamptons society.
Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans. Stars: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Jaime King, Frankie Faison, Lochlyn Munro, John Heard. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 108 min.), Comedy, 2004, Box office gross: $68.880 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/26, DVD: Day & Date.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, 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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October 1, 2004