OnVideo SEPTEMBER Video Reviews
THE ADVENTURES OF SHARKBOY AND LAVAGIRL IN 3D
Based on the intergalactic journeys and superhero stories created by Director Robert Rodriguez's seven year-old son Racer Max. Sometimes the most amazing superheroes are the ones inside your dreams. So discovers 10-year-old Max (Cayden Boyd), an outcast little boy who has become lost in his own fantasy world in an attempt to escape the everyday worries of dealing with parents (David Arquette and Kristin Davis), school bullies and no-fun summer vacations. But when Max realizes the cool characters, high-flying adventures and incredible secret powers that dwell in his imagination might be far more real than anyone is willing to believe, his whole world changes. Now, Max is blasting off on a mission to Planet Drool where Shark Boy (Taylor Lautner) -- a kid once lost at sea and raised under the watchful fins of sharks only to become half-shark -- and Lava Girl (Taylor Dooley) -- a volcanic beauty who emits leaping flames and red-hot rocks -- live in a realm of astonishing wonders, one in which the Train of Thought can whisk you off to the mouth-watering Land of Milk and Cookies. Teeming with mountainous roller coasters and violet skies, Planet Drool looks like the perfect kid paradise until Max meets up with the shocking Mr. Electric (George Lopez) and his sidekick Minus (Jacob Davich) who are trying to do away with all dreams forever. With Shark Boy and Lava Girl in trouble, only Max can guide them -- by imagining every clever move of their wily escape from Mr. Electric's Lair. Speedily conjuring up an incredible array of gadgets, gizmos, contraptions and cool ideas, Max learns the power of turning his dreams into reality.
Director: Robert Rodriguez. Stars: Taylor Lautner, Taylor Dooley, Cayden Boyd, George Lopez, David Arquette, Kristin Davis, Jacob Davich. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 93 min.), Family, 2005, Box office gross: $30.539 million, (Dimension), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 9/27.
BORN INTO BROTHELS
A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, "Born into Brothels" is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta where their mothers are prostitutes. Zana Briski, a New York-based photojournalist who travelled to India to document the lives of women in the brothels, gives these youngsters cameras and teaches them how to take pictures, leading them to look at their world with new eyes. Together with co-director Ross Kauffman, Briski captures the magical way in which beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places and how a promising future becomes a possibility for children who previously had no future at all. Touching and heartfelt, yet devoid of sentimentality, "Born into Brothels" defies the tear- stained tourist snapshot of the global underbelly. Zana Briski spent years with these children and became a part of their lives. Their photographs are prisms into their souls, rather than anthropological curiosities, and a true testimony to the power of the indelible creative spirit. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary, the Audience Award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and more than 20 other major film festival prizes.
A Brentwood housewife and her DA husband. A Persian store owner. Two police detectives who are also lovers. An African-American television director and his wife. A Mexican locksmith. Two car-jackers. A rookie cop. A middle-aged Korean couple. They all live in Los Angeles. And during the next 36 hours, they will all collide. Challenging and thought-provoking, "Crash" takes a provocative, unflinching look at the complexities of racial tolerance in contemporary America. Diving headlong into the diverse melting pot of post-9/11 Los Angeles, this compelling urban drama tracks the volatile intersections of a multi-ethnic cast of characters' struggles to overcome their fears as they careen in and out of one another's lives. In the gray area between black and white, victim and aggressor, there are no easy answers. Funny, powerful, and always unpredictable, the film reminds us of the importance of tolerance as it ventures beyond color lines ... and uncovers the truth of our shared humanity. "Crash" is the directing debut of award-winning writer-producer Paul Haggis ("Million Dollar Baby") from a story by Paul Haggis and a screenplay by Haggis and Bobby Moresco.
A contemporary romantic comedy about a high school teacher who meets and falls in love with a successful businesswoman. Although their lives are vastly different, the relationship seems perfect until the baseball season begins and she has to compete with his first true love: the Boston Red Sox. High-school teacher Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon) is a good catch. He's charming, funny and great with kids. When he meets Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore), an ambitious business consultant whose spirit is as luminous as her beauty, their attraction is immediate. Sure, they have their differences. She's a workaholic; he loves his summers off. He lives and breathes the Red Sox; she doesn't know Carl Yastrzemski from Johnny Damon. But true love overcomes all ... at least until Red Sox spring training rolls around. As Ben's beloved Bosox launch one of the most incredible seasons in baseball history, Ben and Lindsey must decide if they, as a couple, will strike out or fight to keep love alive through extra innings. Based on Nick Hornby's ("High Fidelity") autobiographical book "Fever Pitch," which recounted the author's obsession with English football (better known to Americans as soccer). Screenwriters Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel took his premise of an obsessive sports fan, and fashioned a contemporary romantic comedy in the classic tradition.
Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly. Stars: Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, Jason Spevack, Jack Kehler, Ione Skye. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 103 min.), Romantic comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $41.705 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 9/13.
THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
Twenty years in the making, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" brings the story that became beloved by millions -- and a part of the world's pop cultural zeitgeist -- to the big screen. Mix-mastering science fiction, comedy, adventure and philosophy into one original entertainment experience, acclaimed author and Renaissance man Douglas Adams' novel was always considered ahead of its time. The story, which originally started as a radio series, went on to become a five- part trilogy of novels, a BBC TV series, a groundbreaking computer game, the subject of college courses and more, begins with Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), a typical guy having a very bad day. Arthur's house is about to be bulldozed, his best friend turns out to be an alien and, to top things off, it appears that Earth will be demolished in mere seconds to make way for a hyperspace freeway. Arthur's only chance for survival: hitch a quick ride on a passing spacecraft, with the help of best friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def). Jetting off into the complete unknown, Arthur makes some major, mostly harmless, discoveries about the true nature of the universe. He finds that a towel is the most massively useful thing a person can carry. He uncovers the precise meaning of life. And he learns that the answers to everything anyone ever wanted to know -- and plenty that no one in his right mind could possibly have expected -- are all to be found in one fantastically entertaining electronic book: "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
Director: Garth Jennings. Stars: Martin Freeman, Bill Bailey, Anna Chancellor, Warwick Davis, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Stephen Fry. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 109 min.), Science Fiction, 2005, Box office gross: $50.000 million, (Buena Vista), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 9/13.
INSIDE DEEP Throat
Examines the unanticipated lasting cultural impact generated by "Deep Throat," a sexually explicit film (starring Linda Lovelace) first shown in a midtown Manhattan adult theater in June 1972 that quickly became the flashpoint for an unprecedented social and political firestorm. Features a parade of larger-than- life personalities that includes not only some of the filmmakers and stars of Deep Throat -- director Gerard Damiano (a.k.a. Jerry Gerard), production manager Ron Wertheim and assistant cameraman turned leading man Harry Reems -- but also an array of esteemed authors, filmmakers, opinion-makers and idealogues representing virtually every side of the sexual revolution and battle for First Amendment rights -- among them Alan Dershowitz, Gore Vidal, John Waters, Norman Mailer, Erica Jong, Camille Paglia, Hugh Hefner ... and many more. In R and NC- 17 editions.
Director: Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. Stars: Narrated by Dennis Hopper. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 92 min.), Documentary, 2005, Box office gross: $0.653 million, (Universal), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 9/20.
LONGEST YARD, THE
Adam Sandler and Chris Rock star in the comic story of a former pro quarterback trying to make good in the toughest possible situation. When former NFL player Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler) is sent to prison, the warden forces him to transform a diverse group of inmates into a football team. Unlikely teammates, the convicts unite when they find out who they are playing: the guards. With the help of fellow inmates Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds) and Caretaker (Chris Rock), Crewe promises the cons a chance to exact revenge in a bone-crushing showdown where anything goes. The Mean Machine returns to the gridiron in this update of the 1974 classic -- but be sure to rent the original first.
Director: Peter Segal. Stars: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds, James Cromwell, Walter Williamson, Michael Irvin, Nelly, Nicholas Turturro. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $140.000 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 9/20.
LORDS OF DOGTOWN
The tough, gritty streets of "Dogtown" in Venice, California didn't look like much to outsiders, but to a handful of teenage surfers (Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva and Jay Adams) in the 1970s they were the hard, winding, sloping inspiration for a revolutionary style of skateboarding. Transferring the aggressive wave-riding moves to concrete from their death-defying surfing skills at the Pacific Ocean Park pier, the Z-Boys -- mostly kids with rough home lives and rougher attitudes -- became sensations, local legends. They were freestyle wizards on urethane wheels, turning empty pools into arenas of wild, beautiful athleticism, the genesis of today's "extreme sports." Skating competitions didn't know what to make of them, girls threw themselves at them, and suddenly marketers and promoters wanted to grab a piece of them and what was fast becoming a worldwide counterculture phenomenon. But would the friendships of this tightly knit group last as a teenage pastime turned into big business, and energetic personalities became out-of-control celebrities? In the spirit of the award-winning documentary, "Dogtown and Z-Boys," "Lords of Dogtown" showcases the style of skateboarding made famous by the Z-Boys. The film was shot on location throughout Southern California. From the dangerous waves off a long-forgotten pier to the concrete wasteland of a city slum, the film brings to cinematic life the rebel beginnings of some unforgettable sports culture stars.
Director: Catherine Hardwicke. Stars: John Robinson, Emile Hirsch, Rebecca De Mornay, William Mapother, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Victor Rasuk, Nikki Reed, Heath Ledger. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $11.008 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 9/27.
"Madison" is a father-son action/drama based on the inspiring true story of the tiny river town of Madison, Indiana and its legendary efforts during the hydroplane racing season of 1971. In addition to the thrills of 180-mph flat- bottomed boat racing, the picture captures the spirit of a small American River town struggling to stay alive as water transportation has virtually disappeared. In 1971, Jim McCormick (Jim Caviezel) has left the dangers of hydroplane boat racing behind him in favor of a wife, a family and a job as the town's air- conditioner repairman. But deep inside, the dream of once again piloting the community-owned Miss Madison lives on. Sadly, like the town of Madison itself, the Miss Madison is a shadow of her former self. Several years old and in constant disrepair, the boat has become the laughing stock of hydroplane racing. And the make matters worse, Madison's competitors on the circuit, such as the Miss Budweiser, have rich corporate sponsorships, top-of-the-line equipment, round-the-clock maintenance and huge, well-paid crews. The Miss Madison struggles to even make an appearance in the distant cities of Seattle, Chicago and Miami where the boats must race.
Director: William Bindley. Stars: Jim Caviezel, Jake Lloyd, Mary McCormack, Bruce Dern. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 99 min.), Action, 2005, Box office gross: $0.508 million, (MGM/Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 9/13.
Writer-director Todd Solondz has made his reputation by creating a gallery of suburban icons of ostracism: think Dawn Wiener from "Welcome to the Dollhouse," Dr. Maplewood from "Happiness," and Consuelo from "Storytelling." In his latest film, "Palindromes," we find the work of a more mature artist who is clearly savoring the profound flavor of moral complexity. "Palindromes" is a fable of innocence: 13-year-old Aviva Victor wants to be a mom. She does all she can to make this happen, and comes very close to succeeding, but in the end her plan is thwarted by her sensible parents (Ellen Barkin and Richard Masur). So she runs away, still determined to get pregnant one way or another, but instead finds herself lost in another world, a less sensible one, perhaps, but one pregnant itself with all sorts of strange possibilities. Like so many trips, this one is round-trip, and it's hard to say in the end if she can ever be quite the same again, or if she can ever be anything but the same again. Seven different, risk- taking actors of different ages, races and sizes play the young heroine Aviva. An official selection at the 2004 Telluride, Toronto, Venice and New York Film Festivals, "Palindromes" may be Solondz' most political and philosophical film yet, but in many ways it is also his most tender.
Director: Todd Solondz. Stars: Ellen Barkin, Richard Masur, Matthew Faber, Angela Pietropinto, Bill Buell, Emani Sledge, Valerie Shusterov, Hannah Freiman, Will Denton, Rachel Corr, Sharon Wilkins, Shayna Levine, Jennifer J Leigh. CC, (MPAA rating: NR, 100 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $0.547 million, (Wellspring), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 9/13.
A wondrously clanky universe populated solely by mechanical beings that asks -- and answers -- the questions: What if there were a world inhabited entirely by robots? How would it run? What would it look like? How would the robots act? In this imaginative film, viewers meet memorable bots Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor), a young genius inventor who dreams of helping robots everywhere; Cappy (Halle Berry), a beautiful, dynamic and savvy bot with whom Rodney is instantly smitten; the nefarious corporate tyrant Ratchet (Greg Kinnear) who locks horns with Rodney; Bigweld (Mel Brooks), a master inventor who has lost his way; and a group of misfit bots known as the Rusties, led by Fender (Robin Williams) and Piper Pinwheeler (Amanda Bynes). Fender's head, arms, and legs routinely fall off at the most inopportune moments. As Rodney fulfills Fender's ongoing need for repairs, the two become fast friends. Piper is Fender's tomboy kid sister, who surprises everyone with her determination and strength.
Jim Winters (Anthony LaPaglia) is a widower raising two teenage sons in a modest New Jersey home where the unspoken presence of the boys' mother -- killed in a car accident five years earlier -- lingers with a quiet intensity. Gabe (Aaron Stanford), the oldest son, wants nothing more than to get out of the New Jersey suburbs and start a new life in Florida, even if it means leaving behind his girlfriend Stacey (Michelle Monaghan), his younger brother Pete (Mark Webber) and his father, who has tried to be strong for his boys, but still clearly misses his wife. Jim doesn't have a clue that Gabe wants to leave town. He's busy trying to run a small landscaping business and keep Pete on track to finish high school, something at which Pete's teacher Mr. Bricker (Ron Livingston) is working hard as well. The emotional impasse is about to be bridged when Molly Ripken (Allison Janney) moves into the quiet little community to housesit for a friend. Looking for help with her unpacking, Molly borrows a dolly from Jim, and when she returns it, she invites him and his boys to dinner as a gesture of thanks. With this subtle act of boldness, Molly ignites a spark in Jim that he'd long since let die. It's as though she empowers the man to let go of the emotional baggage that has long kept him from exploring intimacy and perhaps even life itself.
Director: Josh Sternfeld. Stars: Anthony LaPaglia, Aaron Stanford, Mark Webber, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, Michelle Monaghan. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 93 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $0.315 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 9/13.
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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August 30, 2005