OnVideo SEPTEMBER Video Reviews
The animated fun begins when museum guide Ted (Will Ferrell) journeys to the African jungle to find an artifact that will save his museum from closing. There he meets Curious George, a pint-sized chimp with insatiable curiosity and a nose for adventure. It's monkey see, monkey do when Ted returns home by ship and the adorable simian stows away to be with him. Back home, George manages to throw a monkey wrench into Ted's life when his outrageous antics get his friend fired. In the end, George and Ted work together to save the museum and win the heart of a lovely elementary school teacher (Drew Barrymore).
Director: Matthew O'Callaghan. Stars: Voices of Will Ferrell, Frank Welker, Drew Barrymore, David Cross, Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright. Dick Van Dyke. CC, (MPAA rating: G, 88 min.), Family Animated, 2006, Box office gross: $58.336 million, (Universal), Available: 9/26.
DISTRICT B13 (BANLIEUE 13)
Paris, 2010. An isolation wall surrounds the ghetto cities. Without rules or laws, gangs reign as absolute masters. Damien (Cyril Raffailli) is a member of the police elite task force. A special intervention unit officer and expert in martial arts, he is a master in the field of infiltration, and well versed in completing his operations through rapid, precise strong-arm actions. This time, the government has assigned him the most extreme expedition of his entire career: a weapon of mass destruction -- a neutron bomb -- has been stolen by the most powerful gang of District B13. Assigned to infiltrate the sector to defuse the bomb, Damien recruits the help of an ex-criminal named Leito (David Belle) -- whose only goal is to save his sister from the clutches of the same gang. Sophisticated, well-executed martial arts actioner with incredible athletic feats but little in the way of plot. But who cares with fast and furious fighting. In French with English subtitles.
FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT, THE
After an arrest for illegal street racing, teen outsider Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) moves to Japan to avoid jail time. Living with his father in a cramped apartment in a low-rent section of Tokyo, Sean discovers the sexy, clandestine world of Japanese drift racing, in which brash young drivers compete in a deadly combination of brutal speed and terrifying hairpin turns: Tricked out cars careen through the gritty and stylish streets of Tokyo in the ultimate gravity-defying automotive experience. When he loses a race to the "Drift King," Sean's foray into this daredevil underground sport puts him in dangerous proximity of Tokyo's notorious criminal underworld, raising the stakes to life and death.
Director: Justin Lin. Stars: Lucas Black, Bow Wow, Nathalie Kelley, JJ Sonny Chiba, Sung Kang. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min.), Action, 2006, Box office gross: $61.360 million, (Universal), Available: 9/26.
GOAL! THE DREAM BEGINS
Inspiring underdog story of a young immigrant in Los Angeles, Santiago, who dreams of playing professional soccer. His stern father thinks Santiago should give up his dream and make his way in the real world, but Santiago travels to England, where he tries out for one of the world's top professional soccer teams. Santiago must prove that he has the determination, skill and passion for the game to triumph against all odds.
Director: Danny Cannon. Stars: Kuno Becker, Alessandro Nivola, Miriam Colon, Marcel Iure, Stephen Dillane, Anna Friel. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 118 min.), Family, 2006, Box office gross: $4.053 million, (Buena Vista), Available: 9/12.
Weird thriller about a smart, charming teenage girl who goes to the local coffee shop to meet Jeff, a 30-something fashion photographer she met on the Internet. Before long, she's mixing drinks at Jeff's place and stripping for an impromptu photo shoot. It's Jeff's lucky night. But Hayley isn't as innocent as she looks, and the night takes a bad turn when she begins to impose a hard-hitting investigation on Jeff in an attempt to reveal his possibly scandalous past. When she drugs him for an impromptu surgical procedure, things go from bad to worse.
KILL ZONE (SAAT PO LONG)
Known as SPL worldwide, "Kill Zone" in the States. A fast-moving martial arts tour-de-force that practically reinvents the Hong Kong cop thriller martial arts genre, building on the work of such classics as John Woo's "Hard Boiled" and Jet Lee's "Kiss of the Dragon." Detective Chan (Simon Yam) relentlessly pursues vicious crime boss Po (Sammo Hung) for the death of a witness and his family. Unable to tie him to the murder, Yam eventually resolves himself to the fact that Po will never pay for his crimes and prepares to retire from the force. His replacement, Ma (Donnie Yen) is a principled, committed cop who is a deadly martial arts expert and has no problem using his skills to bring down the bad guys. At some point, however, the cops turn to the dark side and compromise their morals in an effort to bring down the bad guys by any means possible. Ultimately, the cops manage to grab Po in what turns out to be one of the bloodiest confrontations ever filmed. Breathtaking action sequences and cinematography reinvigorates the Hong Kong action film genre. Don't be fooled by hefty Sammo Hung -- he's one mean fighter. And JackyWu is one mean, nasty villain. Highly recommended. In Chinese with English subtitles.
English comedy about a conservative shoe factory that turns to an over-the-top way to stay in business -- by manufacturing the most sexy, provocative leather boots on the market. For generations, the Price Family has made very sensible, expertly made shoes for men. When the business is threatened by cut-price shoddy imports and changing times, young factory head Charlie Price turns to an unlikely business partner. His new creative consultant is Lola, a cross-dressing cabaret singer whose outrageous style at first doesn't go over well at the conservative factory. But Lola's red-hot new boot designs revive the factory's fortunes, and her larger-than-life personality breathes fresh air into the lives of Charlie and his factory workers as well.
LAKE HOUSE, THE
A lonely doctor (Sandra Bullock) who once occupied an unusual lakeside home begins exchanging love letters with its newest resident, a frustrated architect (Keanu Reeves). When they discover that they're actually living two years apart, they must try to unravel the mystery behind their extraordinary romance before it's too late. Feeling that it's time for a change in her life, Dr. Kate Forster leaves the suburban Illinois locale and takes a job at a busy Chicago hospital. One thing she is reluctant to leave behind is the uniquely beautiful house she's been renting -- a spacious and artfully designed refuge with large windows that overlook a placid lake. On her way to the city, Kate leaves a note in the mailbox for the house's next tenant, asking him to forward her mail and noting that the inexplicable painted paw prints he might notice by the front door were there when she moved in. But when the next tenant arrives, he sees a much different picture. Alex Wyler, a talented but frustrated architect working at a nearby construction site, finds the lake house badly neglected: dusty, dirty and overgrown with weeds. And no sign of paw prints anywhere. He disregards Kate's note until, days later, while painting the weather-beaten jetty he sees a stray dog run across the fresh paint and then towards the entrance of the house, leaving paw prints exactly where she said they'd be. Baffled, Alex writes back, saying that the house had no occupant before him and wondering how she could have known about the dog; while Kate, who just left it a week ago, imagines he is playing some kind of joke on her and fires back a reply. Just for argument's sake, what day is it there? April 14, 2004. No, she says. It's April 14, 2006. The same day, two years apart. As Kate and Alex continue to correspond through the lake house's mailbox they confirm that they are, incredibly, impossibly, living two years apart. Sharing this unusual bond, they reveal more of themselves to one another with each passing week - their secrets, their doubts and dreams, until they find themselves falling in love.
Director: Alejandro Agresti. Stars: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Christopher Plummer. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 98 min.), Fantasy Drama, 2006, Box office gross: $51.010 million, (Warner), Available: 9/26.
LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN
Actioner that twists and turns its way through an underworld of crime and revenge where nothing is as it seems. Set in New York City, a case of mistaken identity lands Slevin (Josh Hartnett) into the middle of a war being plotted by two of the city's most notorious rival crime bosses: The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) and The Boss (Morgan Freeman). Slevin is under constant surveillance by relentless Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci) as well as the infamous assassin Goodkat (Bruce Willis) and finds himself having to hatch his own ingenious plot to escape the maze alive.
Director: Paul McGuigan. Stars: Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Michael Rubenfeld, Peter Outerbridge, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Chamberlin, Dorian Missick, Mykelti Williamson. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 110 min.), Action, 2006, Box office gross: $22.461 million, (The Weinstein Co.), Available: 9/12.
NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE, THE
From Mary Harron ("I Shot Andy Warhol," "American Psycho") comes this provocative exploration of sexuality, religion and pop culture, taking viewers back to the 1950s and the fascinating world of famous pin-up girl Bettie Page. Gretchen Mol stars as Page, who grew up in a conservative religious family in Tennessee and became a photo model sensation in 1950s New York. She was the ultimate girl-next-door, and one of the most popular Playboy centerfolds. The quiet, good-natured Southern beauty found her calling in front of the camera and radiated vitality and joy in every pose, every costume, every milieu. Her legendary fetish poses made her the target of a Senate investigation into pornography, and transformed her into an erotic icon who continues to enthrall fans to this day. At the height of her popularity, Bettie disappeared from the art world scene.
Director: Mary Harron. Stars: Gretchen Mol, Chris Bauer, Jared Harris, Sarah Paulson, Cara Seymour, David Strathairn, Lili Taylor. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 90 min.), Biodrama, 2006, Box office gross: $1.248 million, (HBO Video), Available: 9/26.
In this uncompromising Australian period drama, conscience competes with loyalty and love spurs revenge. Three brothers fight for their place in a beautiful, brutal landscape, but one must be forsaken to save another. Set in the 1880s, the film opens in the middle of a frenzied gunfight between the police and a gang of outlaws. Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his brother Mikey are captured by Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone). Together with their formidable brother Arthur (Danny Huston), they are wanted for a brutal crime. Stanley makes Charlie a seemingly impossible proposition in an attempt to bring an end to the cycle of turmoil: 14-year old Mikey will hang on Christmas Day unless Charlie hunts down and kills his psychotic older brother Arthur, who Stanley believes to be the ringleader and the true perpetrator of the violence. If Charlie succeeds, Stanley will pardon both Charlie and Mikey.
Director: John Hillcoat. Stars: Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, John Hurt, David Wenham, Emily Watson. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 104 min.), Drama, 2006, Box office gross: $1.734 million, (First Look Home Entertainment), Available: 9/19.
After the mysterious death of a friend, a group of teenagers find themselves in possession of "Stay Alive," a next-generation horror survival video game based on the spine-chilling true story of a murderous 17th century noblewoman known as "The Blood Countess." The gamers don't know anything about the game other than they're not supposed to have it ... and they're dying to play it. Not able to resist temptation, the group begins to play the grisly game, and soon, they start getting murdered one-by-one in the same method as the characters from the game. As the line between the game world and the real world disappears, the group must find a way to defeat the vicious and merciless Blood Countess, and also try to just "stay alive."
Director: William Brent Bell. Stars: Jon Foster, Samaire Armstrong, Frankie Muniz, Jimmi Simpson, Wendell Pierce, Milo Ventimiglia, Sophia Bush. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 85 min.), Horror, 2006, Box office gross: $22.797 million, (Buena Vista), Available: 9/19.
Independent 17-year-old Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) has gotten very good at defying both authority and the laws of gravity. Haley's single dad finds it next to impossible to keep his teenage daughter in line. For her and her neighborhood-cruising, dirt-bike-riding pals, there is no jump or course around that's too intense for Haley to try. So when her latest joyride results in a short trip to juvenile court, the judge hands down her sentence: rebellious Haley has to do time at Vickerman Gymnastics Academy, an elite gymnastics academy run with military regimentation by legendary and hardnosed coach Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges). Unfortunately for Graham, it's a return to a world she knows all too well -- a former Junior Finals gymnastics champion, Haley inexplicably walked out in the middle of the prestigious championship competition, betraying her teammates, scrapping her own final championship aspirations and trashing her reputation in one afternoon. So it's back to rules, back to conformity, back to spandex. Haley's reputation precedes her at VGA, and her headstrong ways and quick-witted comebacks instantly score her both friends and enemies ... with the Academy's rising star, Joanne Charis (Vanessa Lengies), firmly in the latter category. But Coach Vickerman knows innate talent when he sees it, and he's committed to helping Haley come back to a world she could rule, whether she wants to or not. Haley has little choice but to play the game -- so what if it's played with her rulebook? Vickerman's response: "Don't hurt yourself. And don't get blood on the equipment."
Director: Jessica Bendinger. Stars: Jeff Bridges, Missy Peregrym, Vanessa Lengies, Nikki SooHoo, Maddy Curley. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 103 min.), Teen Comedy, 2006, Box office gross: $24.656 million, (Buena Vista), Available: 9/19.
Director Hou Hsiao Hsien's masterpiece. A delightful and radiant love story between May/Ah Mei/Jing (Shu Qi) and Chen/Mr. Chang/Zhen (Chang Chen) set in three different eras -- pool hall in 1966, a 1911 brothel and present day Taipei - with the same actors as the lovers in all three periods. This sentimental tale of three reincarnations of unfinished love is a cinematic masterpiece and was an official selection at the Cannes, Toronto, Telluride, New York and San Francisco International Film Festivals. Stylistic and true to the life of the times, Hsien brings to life the culture of each period as the tales unfold. Critically acclaimed for its wisdom, cinematic style and storytelling. In Taiwanese with English subtitles.
Honest and unflinching, the film tells the unforgettable story of the heroic passengers and crew members who prevented the terrorists from carrying out their plans for the fourth hijacked plane on September 11, 2001. As on-ground military and civilian teams scrambled to make sense of the unfolding events, 40 everyday people who sat down as strangers found the courage to stand up as one. A tribute to real-life heroes.
Director: Paul Greengrass. Stars: Christian Clemenson, Trish Gates, Polly Adams, Cheyenne Jackson, Opal Alladin, Gary Commock. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 91 min.), Drama, 2006, Box office gross: $31.269 million, (Universal), Available: 9/5.
Computer-animated comedy-adventure has an odd assortment of animals from the New York Zoo -- including a lion, a giraffe, an anaconda, a koala, and a squirrel -- discover what a jungle the city can be when one of their own is mistakenly shipped to the wilds of Africa and they embark on a dangerous mission to rescue him.
Director: Steve "Spaz" Williams. Stars: Voices of Kiefer Sutherland, James Belushi, Eddie Izzard, Janeane Garofalo, William Shatner, Patrick Warburton, Greg Cipes. CC, (MPAA rating: G, 81 min.), Family animation, 2006, Box office gross: $35.297 million, (Disney), Available: 9/12.
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 31, 2006