OnVideo OCTOBER Video Reviews
THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
On November 14, 1974, police received a frantic phone call that led them to a grisly crime scene at the Defeo residence in Amityville, Long Island -- an entire family had been slaughtered in their beds. In the days that followed, Ronald Defeo confessed to methodically shooting his parents and four siblings while they slept. He claimed "voices" in the house drove him to commit the murders. One year later, George (Ryan Reynolds) and Kathy Lutz (Melissa George) and their children moved into the house, thinking it would be their dream home. But shortly after settling in, bizarre and unexplainable events began to occur -- nightmarish visions and haunting voices from an evil presence still lurking within the house. Confused and frightened by her daughter Chelsea's cryptic interaction with an imaginary friend named Jodie, Kathy struggles to hold her family together as George's increasingly strange behavior finds him spending days and nights in the basement of the house, where he soon discovers a passageway to a mysterious and gruesome "Red Room." With lucid visions and evil voices swirling through George's head, the house comes alive in a terrifying climax that finds him carrying out the spine-chilling events that would become forever known as The Amityville Horror. Twenty-eight days after moving in, the Lutzes abandoned the home, lucky to escape with their lives. Now, 30 years after the shocking real-life events that inspired one of the most popular horror stories of all time, director Andrew Douglas attempts this remake. A good try that pushes all the right buttons ... but not all the right scary doors open.
Director: Andrew Douglas. Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett, Chloe Moretz, Rachel Nichols, Philip Baker Hall. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 90 min.), Horror, 2005, Box office gross: $64.255 million, (MGM/Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/4.
Great new envisioning of the story of the Caped Crusader. How does one man change the world? It's a question that haunts Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) like the specter of his parents, gunned down before his eyes in the streets of Gotham on a night that changed his life forever. Tormented by guilt and anger, battling the demons that feed his desire for revenge and his need to honor his parentsO altruistic legacy, the disillusioned industrial heir vanishes from Gotham and secretly travels the world, seeking the means to fight injustice and turn fear against those who prey on the fearful. In his quest to educate himself in the ways of the criminal mind, Bruce is mentored by a mysterious man called Ducard (Liam Neeson) in the mastery of the physical and mental disciplines that will empower him to fight the evil he has vowed to destroy. He soon finds himself the target of recruiting efforts by the League of Shadows, a powerful, subversive vigilante group headed by enigmatic leader Ras al Ghul (Ken Watanabe). Bruce returns to Gotham to find the city devoured by rampant crime and corruption. Wayne Enterprises, his family's former bastion of philanthropic business ideals, now rests in the hands of CEO Richard Earle (Rutger Hauer), a man more concerned with taking the company public than serving the public good. Meanwhile, Bruce's close childhood friend Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), now an Assistant District Attorney, can't secure a conviction of the city's most notorious criminals because the justice system has been so deeply polluted by scum like crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson). It doesn't help that prominent Gotham psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy) bolsters insanity defenses for Falcone's thugs in exchange for nefarious favors that serve his own devious agenda. With the help of his trusted butler Alfred (Michael Caine), detective Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) -- one of the few good cops on the Gotham police force -- and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), his ally at the Wayne Enterprises' Applied Sciences division, Bruce Wayne unleashes his awe-inspiring alter-ego: Batman, a masked crusader who uses strength, intellect and an array of high tech weaponry to fight the sinister forces that threaten to destroy the city.
Director: Christopher Nolan. Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 141 min.), Action, 2005, Box office gross: $195.875 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/18.
Movie version of one of TV's most memorable and beloved shows. Out in California's San Fernando Valley, Isabel (Nicole Kidman) is trying to reinvent herself. A naive, good-natured witch, she is determined to disavow her supernatural powers and lead a "normal" life. At the same time, across town, Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell), a tall, charming actor, is trying to get his career back on track. He sets his sights on an updated version of the 1960s situation comedy "Bewitched," reconceived as a starring vehicle for himself in the role of the mere-mortal Darrin. Fate steps in when Jack accidentally runs into Isabel. He is immediately attracted to her and her nose, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the nose of Elizabeth Montgomery, who played Samantha in the original TV version of "Bewitched." He becomes convinced she could play the witch Samantha in his new series. Isabel is also taken with Jack, seeing him as the quintessential mortal man with whom she can settle down and lead the normal life she so desires. It turns out they're both right -- but in ways neither of them ever imagined.
Director: Nora Ephron. Stars: Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 102 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $60.717 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/25.
DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST
Paul Schrader was originally brought in to direct the prequel to "The Exorcist," "Exorcist: The Beginning," but was pulled and the reins given to Renny Harlin when the producers were unhappy with Schrader's version -- Harlin reshot the film entirely. The movie took in about $41 million at the boxoffice (a bomb when one takes its budget -- $30,000,000 for the Paul Schrader version and $50,000,000 for the Renny Harlin version -- into consideration). In 1944, Father Lankester Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard), a parish priest in Holland, was forced by retreating Nazi soldiers to pass life-and-death judgment upon his parishioners. The experience left him with a broken spirit, his faith destroyed. It is three years later, and Merrin has since abandoned the priesthood. Now working as an archeologist, he has unearthed a startling discovery in the Turkana district of British East Africa: an ancient Byzantine church, preserved in pristine condition -- as if it had been buried on the day it was completed. This remarkable discovery attracts the attention of the archdiocese in Nairobi, who dispatches a young priest, Father Francis (Gabriel Mann), to Derati to watch over Merrin's work and make sure that the religious aspects of the dig are given the proper consideration. Although he is shocked and troubled by Merrin's lack of faith, Francis quickly devotes himself to setting up a church school for the children of the village. As the dig continues, Merrin discovers that the imposing statues within the church are guarding a secret. Buried beneath the church is an ancient crypt that contains the remnants of Satanic ritual and brutal sacrifice. The church was never meant to be used for worship -- it was built atop the crypt to contain the evil within it, then immediately buried. The Derati natives are convinced that uncovering the church has unleashed a demon, and begin to violently clash with the hostile British military troops that have been sent by the government to guard the site. And all hell is set loose.
Director: Paul Schrader. Stars: Stellan Skarsgard, Gabriel Mann, Clara Bellar, Billy Crawford, Ralph Brown. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 117 min.), Thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $0.138 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/25.
GUS VAN SANT'S LAST DAYS
"Last Days" is filmmaker Gus Van Sant's meditation on the inner turmoil that engulfs a brilliant, but troubled, musician in the final hours of his life. Michael Pitt stars as Blake, an introspective artist who is buckling under the weight of fame, professional obligations, and a mounting feeling of isolation. The film follows Blake through a handful of the last hours he spends in and near his wooded home, a fugitive from his own life. It is a period of random moments and fractured consciousness, fused by spontaneous bursts of rock & roll. Expanding on the elliptical style forged in his two previous films, "Gerry" and the Palme d'Or-winning "Elephant," Van Sant layers images and sounds to articulate an emotional landscape, creating a dynamic work about a soul in transition. Inspired by the last days of Kurt Cobain.
Director: Gus Van Sant. Stars: Michael Pitt, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, Scott Green, Nicole Vicius, Ricky Jay. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 97 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $0.184 million, (HBO Video), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/25.
HERBIE: FULLY LOADED
In 1969, the Walt Disney classic "Herbie the Love Bug" introduced the world to the whimsical wonders of #53, the little white VW Beetle with a mind and feelings all his own -- not to mention an exuberant spirit that seemed to redefine the word "free-wheeling." Herbie went on to become the star of numerous movies and television films in the '70s, '80s and '90s. But since then, Herbie has been missing in action, awaiting demolition in a downtrodden junkyard. Now, just when it looks like his number is up, Herbie is rescued and has a chance to win over a whole new generation of fans. Herbie's rescuer is Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan), a third-generation member of a legendary NASCAR family. Racing is deep in Maggie's blood, but she has been forbidden from pursuing her dreams by her overprotective father and NASCAR champ Ray Peyton Sr. (Michael Keaton) and, instead, is about to begin a career at ESPN. Ray does offer to buy Maggie a car for college graduation, and takes her to the junkyard to pick out her gift. Maggie has her eye on something sporty, yet a certain rusty, banged-up, '60s-era white Volkswagen Beetle keeps vying for her attention, revealing that whatever he lacks in the engine compartment, he makes up for with personality. Much to her surprise, Maggie leaves the lot with a smoke-spewing Herbie -- who she soon discovers is no ordinary auto, but a charmed car who will literally help her shift the course of her life. Soon, with a little help from his new friends, Herbie is stronger, faster and Herbie-er than ever, as he and Maggie become partners in a hilarious quest to make the world believe in them.
Director: Angela Robinson. Stars: Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, Matt Dillon, Breckin Meyer, Justin Long, Cheryl. CC, (MPAA rating: G, 101 min.), Family comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $62.658 million, (Buena Vista), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/25.
Marie and Alexia are schoolmates and best friends. Hoping to prepare for their college exams in peace and quiet, they decide to spend a weekend in the country at Alexia's parents' secluded farmhouse. But in the dead of night, a stranger knocks on the front door. And with the first swing of his knife, the girls' idyllic weekend turns into an endless night of terror. It's a white-knuckle journey into the heart of fear as the two girls battle for survival at the hands of a sadistic psychopath, culminating in a truly shocking climax. Rated and unrated versions.
Director: Alexandre Aja. Stars: Cecile De France, Maiwenn Le Besco, Philippe Nahon, Franck Khalfoun. CC, (MPAA rating: NC-17, 89 min.), Horror, 2005, Box office gross: $3.645 million, (Lions Gate), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/11.
HOUSE OF WAX
What begins as a weekend getaway for six friends becomes a terrifying fight for their lives in this re-imagining of the 1953 horror classic. A road trip to one of the biggest college football games of the year takes a turn for the worse for Carly (Elisha Cuthbert), Paige (Paris Hilton) and their friends when they decide to camp out for the night before heading to the game. A confrontation with a mysterious trucker at the camp site leaves everyone unsettled, and Carly has her hands full trying to keep the peace between her boyfriend Wade (Jared Padalecki) and her hot-headed brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray). They wake up the next morning to find that their car has been deliberately tampered with. At the risk of being stranded, they accept a local's invitation for a ride into Ambrose, the only town for miles. Once there, they are drawn to Ambrose's main attraction -- Trudy's House of Wax, which is filled with remarkably life-like wax sculptures. But as they soon discover, there is a shocking reason the exhibits look so real. As the friends uncover the town's dark secrets, they are stalked by a demented killer and find themselves in a bloody battle for survival. The group must find a way out of Ambrose -- or become permanent additions to the House of Wax.
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra. Stars: Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki, Jon Abrahams. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 113 min.), Horror thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $32.000 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/25.
Shot on location in Manhattan and Southern Africa, "The Interpreter" is the first motion picture in history to receive inside access to the United Nations headquarters (which is officially international territory) in New York. The escalating events in this dramatic thriller begin when African-born U.N. translator Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) alleges that she has overheard a death threat against an African head of state, spoken in a rare dialect few people other than Silvia can understand. With the words "The Teacher will never leave this room alive," in an instant, Silvia's life is turned upside down as she becomes a hunted target of the killers. Placed under the protection of federal agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn), Silvia's world only grows more nightmarish. As Keller digs deeper into his eyewitness' past and her secretive world of global connections, the more suspicious he becomes that she herself might be involved in the conspiracy. With every step of the way, he finds more reasons to mistrust her. Is Sylvia a victim? A suspect? Or something else entirely? And can Tobin, coping with his own personal heartache, keep her safe? Though they must depend on one another, Silvia and Tobin couldn't be more different. Silvia's strengths are words, diplomacy and the subtleties of meaning, while Tobin is all about instinct, action and reading into the most primal human behaviors. Now, as the danger of a major assassination on U.S. soil grows and Silvia's life hangs in the balance, Silvia and Tobin play out a gripping dance of evasion and revelation that keeps them both guessing as they race to stop a terrifying international crisis before it's too late.
Director: Sydney Pollack. Stars: Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Jesper Christensen, Yvan Attal, Earl Cameron, George Harris. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 128 min.), Thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $73.000 million, (Universal), $29.98 VHS SRP, Available: 10/4.
JIMINY GLICK IN LALAWOOD
Jiminy Glick (Martin Short), an entertainment critic for a television station in Butte, Montana, arrives at the Toronto Film Festival, a complete unknown, intent on finding fame among the rich, famous and fabulous. His dreams of becoming the most celebrated and renowned star interviewer are realized when he is granted an exclusive with elusive young megastar Ben DiCarlo (Corey Pearson). This catapults Jiminy from obscurity to being the most talked about guy in town. Filmmakers and studio executives want to schmooze him and every actor wants to be interviewed by him, including fading Hollywood star Miranda Coolidge (Elizabeth Perkins). When Miranda is later found dead in Jiminy's bed, he thinks he is to blame and suddenly gets embroiled in a murder mystery whodunit complete with sex, scandal, rappers and glamorous celebrities. Incredible flop.
Director: Vadim Jean. Stars: Martin Short, Jan Hooks, Linda Cardellini, Janeane Garofalo, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Perkins. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 90 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $0.025 million, (MGM/Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/4.
KICKING AND SCREAMING
Will Ferrell and Robert Duvall star in a lively comedy about the cutthroat, hyper-competitive world of little league soccer. Ferrell stars as Phil Weston, an average Joe who's had to put up all his life with his overly competitive father, Buck (Duvall). When Phil decides to coach his 10-year-old son's soccer team the Tigers, he goes head-to-head for the league championship against Buck, who coaches his own young son on the preeminent team of the league. Phil truly believes it's not whether you win or lose but if your soul gets nurtured, but a lifetime of putting up with Buck's overbearing ways finally takes its toll. Eventually, as Phil and Buck go head-to-head for the soccer league championship, the pair's past and constant rivalry spins wildly out of control, forcing each to stop at nothing to ensure a winning season. This includes a now-maniacal Phil recruiting the world's best assistant coach, the legendary Mike Ditka (played by none other than Mike Ditka), as well as two young Italian soccer prodigies who become the Tigers' secret weapons. Can father and son put their rocky past behind, do what's best for their own children (and grandchild!) and realize that soccer is just a game? Not a chance! Funny outing will please the whole family.
Director: Jesse Dylan. Stars: Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall, Mike Ditka, Kate Walsh, Musetta Vander, Dylan McLaughlin, Josh Hutcherson. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 95 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $52.114 million, (Universal), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/11.
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Director Ridley Scott turns to the Crusades -- that world-shaping 200-year collision between Europe and the East -- to frame the tale of a young Frenchman who discovers his destiny as a knight, then lives out what that glorious title really means. Orlando Bloom stars as Balian, a blacksmith who has lost his family and nearly lost his faith. The religious wars raging in the far-off Holy Land seem remote to him, yet he is pulled into that immense drama. Amid the pageantry and intrigues of medieval Jerusalem he falls in love, grows into a leader, and ultimately uses all his courage and skill to defend the city against staggering odds. Destiny comes seeking Balian in the form of a great knight, Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson), a Crusader briefly home to France from fighting in the East. Revealing himself as Balian's father, Godfrey shows him the true meaning of knighthood and takes him on a journey across continents to the fabled Holy City. In Jerusalem at that moment -- between the Second and Third Crusades -- a fragile peace prevails, through the efforts of its enlightened Christian king, Baldwin IV, aided by his advisor Tiberias (Jeremy Irons), and the military restraint of the legendary Muslim leader Saladin (Ghassan Massoud). But Baldwin's days are numbered, and strains of fanaticism, greed, and jealousy among the Crusaders threaten to shatter the truce. King Baldwin's vision of peace -- a "kingdom of heaven" -- is shared by a handful of knights, including Godfrey of Ibelin, who swear to uphold it with their lives and honor. As Godfrey passes his sword to his son, he also passes on that sacred oath: to protect the helpless, safeguard the peace, and work toward harmony between religions and cultures, so that a kingdom of heaven can flourish on earth. Balian takes the sword and steps into history.
Director: Ridley Scott. Stars: Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, Ghassan Massoud, Nathalie Cox, Eriq Ebouaney. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 145 min.), Historical drama, 2005, Box office gross: $47.000 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/11.
LAND OF THE DEAD
George A. Romero's "Land of the Dead" is the acclaimed director's long-awaited return to the genre he invented, beginning with the seminal "Night of the Living Dead" and continuing with "Dawn of the Dead" and "Day of the Dead." In Romero's harrowing newest vision, the world (as humankind has known it) is merely a memory. In its place is the never-ending nightmare existence of us -- the living -- versus them -- the "walkers." What's left of mankind is cordoned off behind the walls of a fortified city while the walking dead roam the vast wasteland beyond. The few wealthy and powerful try to maintain an illusion of life as it was, dwelling high above the city in the exclusive towers of Fiddler's Green, the last bastion of the ruling class. On the streets below, however, the remaining, less fortunate of the city's inhabitants -- the living dead -- eke out a hard-scrabble life, seeking what little solace they can in the vices available -- gambling, flesh trade, drugs -- anything that offers even a fleeting respite from the hell their lives have become. Both the lofty heights of Fiddler's Green and the demoralizing lows of the city below are lorded over by a handful of ruthless opportunists, led by Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), who keeps his hands in everything, from real estate to less above-board pursuits. To bring food and other essential supplies to the occupants of the city and to allow the Green's well-to-do to acquire the scarce luxury items to which they were once accustomed, a hardened group of mercenaries -- headed by Riley (Simon Baker) and his second-in-command, Cholo (John Leguizamo) -- run retrieval missions outside the city, protected by their massive armored vehicle, Dead Reckoning. Riley and Cholo, like Kaufman, are in it for the money, which they hope to use for their own escapes. While Kaufman and his employees concern themselves with commerce, life is changing both within and beyond the walls of the city. Unrest and anarchy are on the rise among the city's disenfranchised and outside, the army of the dead is changing, evolving, learning to organize and communicate. When Cholo commandeers Dead Reckoning, intent on extorting millions out of Kaufman and his cronies, Riley and his ragtag group -- including Slack (Asia Argento) and Charlie (Robert Joy) -- are called into action to stop Cholo and, in the process, protect the city and its population from the growing army of evolving zombies storming its weakening perimeter.
Director: George A. Romero. Stars: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy, Eugene Clark. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 93 min.), Horror, 2005, Box office gross: $20.433 million, (Universal), $29.98 VHS SRP, Available: 10/18.
MAD HOT BALLROOM
Eleven-year-old New York City public school kids journey into the world of ballroom dancing and reveal pieces of themselves and their world along the way. Told from their candid, sometimes hilarious perspectives, these kids are transformed, from reluctant participants to determined competitors, from typical urban kids to "ladies and gentlemen," on their way to try to compete in the final city-wide competition.
ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW
A poetic and penetrating look at how everyday people struggle to connect with one another in an isolating modern world. Christine Jesperson (writer-director Miranda July) is a struggling artist and cab driver who uses her talents and imagination to draw her dreams and objects of desire. One such object is Richard Swersey (John Hawkes), a newly-single father of two boys who is hoping for amazing things, yet panics upon meeting the captivating Christine. But in a world where the mundane is transcendent and people seek meaningful connections despite the risk, anything magical can -- and will -- happen.
Director: Miranda July. Stars: John Hawkes, Miranda July, Miles Thompson, Brandon Ratcliff, Carlie Westerman. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 90 min.), Comedy drama, 2005, Box office gross: $2.371 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/11.
MELINDA AND MELINDA
Woody Allen's latest combines romantic comedy and drama, dealing with the fragility of love, marital infidelity, sophisticated romance, the inability to communicate, personal struggles with morality, identity, intimacy, jealousy and the vagaries of romantic love. The twist in the film is introduced in the film's opening scene, in which four sophisticated New Yorkers enjoy a dinner out on a rainy night. An anecdote provokes a discussion between writers Max (Larry Pine) and Sy (Wallace Shawn) about the dual nature of human drama, symbolized by the comedy/tragedy mask of theater. Ultimately a comic tale unfolds, pitted against a more dramatic version of itself -- both centered around a somewhat enigmatic woman named Melinda (Radha Mitchell).
Director: Woody Allen. Stars: Will Ferrell, Jonny Lee Miller, Radha Mitchell, Amanda Peet, Chloe Sevigny, Wallace Shawn, Larry Pine. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 100 min.), Comedy drama, 2005, Box office gross: $3.825 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/25.
MY SUMMER OF LOVE
Mona (Nathalie Press) has just got hold of a brilliant moped that only cost a "tenner." No engine but still dirt-cheap. She lives with her brother, Phil, (Paddy Considine) who used to run a pub before he found God and poured away all the booze. Tamsin (Emily Blunt) is rich, spoiled and trying to live a life of seductive decadence. They meet on the moors, above their quiet Yorkshire village and begin an intense, unlikely friendship. Tamsin is tragic and fantastical, Mona, rough and witty. Tamsin is charmed and Mona is hooked. Tamsin and Mona want to escape their lives but Phil wants to save them and save everybody else. Mona wants the old, dangerous, Phil back; the brother that she loved. Tamsin wants to see what it takes to break him.
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski. Stars: Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt, Paddy Considine, Dean Andrews, Michelle Byrne. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 86 min.), Comedy drama, 2005, Box office gross: $0.965 million, (Universal), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/4.
"Rize" reveals a groundbreaking dance phenomenon that's exploding on the streets of South Central Los Angeles. The aggressive and visually stunning dance modernizes moves indigenous to African tribal rituals and features mind-blowing, athletic movement sped up to impossible speeds. "Rize" tracks the fascinating evolution of the dance: we meet Tommy Johnson (Tommy the Clown), who first created the style as a response to the 1992 Rodney King riots and named it "Clowning," as well as the kids who developed the movement into what they now call Krumping. The kids use dance as an alternative to gangs and hustling: they form their own troupes and paint their faces like warriors, meeting to outperform rival gangs of dancers or just to hone their skills. For the dancers, Krumping becomes a way of life -- and, because it's authentic expression (in complete opposition to the bling-bling hip-hop culture), the dance becomes a vital part of who they are.
THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS
Based on Ann Brashares' best-selling novel, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" is about a special summer in the lives of four lifelong friends who are separated for the first time. On a shopping trip, the young women find a pair of thrift-shop jeans that fits each of them perfectly and decide to use these pants as a way of keeping in touch over the months ahead, each one wearing the jeans for a week to see what luck they bring her before sending them on to the next. Though miles apart, the four friends still experience life, love and loss together in a summer they'll never forget.
Director: Ken Kwapis. Stars: Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Jenna Boyd, Bradley Whitford, Nancy Travis, Rachel Ticot, Mike Vogel. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 119 min.), Warner, 2005, Box office gross: $37.476 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/11.
UNLEASHED (AKA DANNY THE DOG)
Written and produced by Luc Besson, the action drama headlines international martial arts superstar Jet Li. On and beneath the meanest streets of Glasgow, fiery gangster Bart (Bob Hoskins) is merciless with debtors, would-be rivals, and anyone else to whom he takes even a passing dislike. How does Bart maintain his chokehold? Through his unwitting enforcer Danny (Jet Li), who he has "raised" since boyhood. Danny has been kept as a near-prisoner by his "Uncle" Bart; trained to attack and, if necessary, kill. Danny knows little of life, except the brutal existence that Bart has so crudely and cruelly fashioned for him. But when Danny has a chance encounter with soft-spoken blind piano tuner Sam (Morgan Freeman), he senses true kindness and compassion for the first time and experiences the transforming power of music. When a sudden gangland coup separates Danny from Bart and his mob, Danny is at last away from the underworld. He takes refuge with Sam and his spunky teenaged stepdaughter Victoria (Kerry Condon). Sam and Victoria open their home and hearts to Danny, who begins to envision a new future for himself. However, the mob will not give up its prize pupil so easily, and Danny must soon fight again, and fight back, to protect his new family and bury his troubled past.
Director: Louis Leterrier. Stars: Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 102 min.), Action, 2005, Box office gross: $24.380 million, (Universal), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 10/11.
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