When Theresa (Zoe Saldana) brings fiance Simon Green (Ashton Kutcher) home for her parents' 25th wedding anniversary, she's neglected to mention one tiny detail -- he's white. Determined to break his daughter's
engagement, Percy Jones (Bernie Mac) does everything he can to make Simon feel "apart" of the family, from running his credit report to locking him in the basement at night. But when Percy gleefully exposes Simon's most embarrassing secret, it leads to an outrageous
series of comic complications that only goes to prove that with a dad like Percy Jones, father doesn't always know best.
Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan. Stars: Bernie Mac, Ashton Kutcher, Zoe Saldana,
Judith Scott, Hal Williams, Kellee Stewart, Robert Curtis-Brown. 2005, CC,
MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $67.671 million, Sony,
No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Oliver Stone's historical saga charts the life and legend of one of the greatest figures in world history: Alexander the Great, a relentless conqueror who by the age of 32 had amassed the greatest empire the world had ever seen. Past
and present collide to form the puzzle of the protagonist, a tapestry of triumphs and tragedies in which childhood memories and Alexander's rise to power unfold side by side with the later day expansion of his empire, and its ultimate downfall. From his youth, fueled by
dreams of glory and adventure, to his lonely and mysterious death as a ruler of a vast state, from the tumultuous relationship with his parents -- a powerful king and a queen determined to put her child on the throne at any cost -- to the rousing brotherly bonds with his
closest companions and vast army, as they fought from the sun-scorched battlefields of the Persian Empire across the snow-peaked mountains of India, the film chronicles Alexander's journey to become a living legend, a man who embraced the ideal that power has a
destiny. His extraordinary journey begins when Alexander launches his invasion from Macedonia, first leading his armies to wrest Western Asia from Persian control, then driving his enormously outnumbered troops to an impossible victory over the mighty Persian army
itself. Alexander expands his empire into the unknown lands of modern day Central Asia before venturing across the Hindu Kush, further than any Westerner had ever gone, continuing his conquests into the exotic world of India. Incredibly, and possibly unique in the
annals of military history, Alexander was never defeated in battle. He relentlessly pushes his army across the sands, mountains and jungles of strange and mysterious lands, conquering every enemy who dares oppose him and weathering near-mutiny by his own men.
Director: Oliver Stone. Stars: Colin Farrell, Anthony Hopkins, David Bedella, Jessie Kamm, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Christopher Plummer, Rosario Dawson. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 175 min., Adventure, Box office gross: $13.687 million, Warner, No
VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
An exciting, fast-moving, innovative tale that ranks
right up there with the best of Philip K. Dick. Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Northam)
is an out of work accountant who is stuck in an unhappy life in the suburbs -- with a miserable marriage -- and dreams of one day sailing away to a life of freedom and excitement. Seeking an escape from his lackluster existence, he decides to join the multinational
corporation Digicorp to become a company spy. Adopting a new identity, he is sent to spy on various trade conventions where he secretly records the proceedings and transmits the information to his ruthless,
intimidating boss, Ed Finster (Nigel Bennett). While carrying out his assignments Morgan encounters an elusive and beautiful woman, Rita (Lucy Liu), who tells him that his Digicorp activities have been a ruse to brainwash him and others like him. Morgan accepts her
anti-brainwashing drugs and ultimately is forced to work for Frank Calloway (Timothy Webber), a seemingly friendly agent from rival company Sunways. As a double agent, Morgan's survival lies deep in his mind and actions, but he begins to have difficulty
distinguishing reality from the visions that plague him. Morgan's world becomes a quagmire where the lines are blurred, where characters and dreams become truths -- or fictions. Morgan knows he must escape this nightmare situation and his only hope is Rita, who
works for an enigmatic deep cover operative named Sebastian Rooks. To be saved by Rooks, Morgan must complete a final assignment: stealing a data file from a secured underground network. Only then can he discover the truth behind the brainwashing, his mission,
who he really is, Rita's motives and Rook's identity. The film -- never released theatrically, though it should have been -- is a paranoid look at control and subjective reality, spinning the viewer from one realm to another. A winner.
Director: Vincenzo Natali. Stars: Jeremy Northam, Lucy Liu, Nigel Bennett,
Webber. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: R, 96 min., Science Fiction, Miramax. DVD
Kung Fu Hustle
Wonderful kung fu comedy shows off the directing and acting talents of Stephen Chow as well as some spectacular martial arts chops. Set amid the chaos of pre-revolutionary China, small time thief Sing aspires to be one of the
sophisticated and ruthless Axe Gang whose underworld activities overshadow the city. Stumbling across a crowded apartment complex aptly known as "Pig Sty Alley," Sing attempts to extort money from one of the ordinary locals, but the neighbors are not what they
appear. Sing's comical attempts at intimidation inadvertently attract the Axe Gang into the fray, setting off a chain of events that brings the two disparate worlds face-to-face. As the inhabitants of the Pig Sty fight for their lives, the ensuing clash of kung fu titans unearths
some legendary martial arts Masters. Sing, despite his futile attempts, lacks the soul of a killer, and must face his own mortality in order to discover the true nature of the kung fu master. Other characters include an obnoxious landlady and her apparently frail husband
who exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf, a gay tailor with fists of iron, a "coolie" with the moves of Bruce Lee, and a baker who knows how to use bamboo. Great spoof of flying-martial arts epic "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" as well as "The
Godfather." And can that Axe Gang dance. In Cantonese with English subtitles.
Director: Stephen Chow. Stars: Stephen Chow, Wah Yuen, Qiu Yuen, Kwok Kuen Chan, Siu Lung Leung. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Martial arts comedy, Box office gross: $16.173 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Because of Winn-Dixie
Based on the perennial best seller, "Because of Winn-Dixie" tells the story of a lonely young girl (Opal) who adopts an orphaned dog she names Winn-Dixie (for the supermarket where she found him). The bond between
the girl and her special companion brings together the people in a small Florida town and heals her own troubled relationship with her father. Sleepy Naomi, Florida is a place where people have forgotten how to share their sadness and their joy. But Opal (AnnaSophia
Robb) and Winn-Dixie might have something to say about that. Winn-Dixie guides Opal into places where magic dozes under a coat of dusty disappointment and awakens the people hiding there. Things begin to change day by day under the summer sun -- in a funky pet
store, a musty library, a drab mobile home, a ramshackle house and a convenience store-turned temple of worship. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets an eclectic group of townspeople and rekindles an almost lost relationship with her father.
Director: Wayne Wang. Stars: Jeff Daniels, Cicely Tyson, Dave Matthews, Eva Marie Saint, Annasophia Robb. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 106 min., Family, Box office gross: $32.556 million, Fox, $15.95 VHS SRP.
Memories of Murder
Based on a true story, "Memories of Murder" is a Korean suspense thriller offering an unusual fusion of death and laughter, while recollecting truly nightmarish events. This is a true story, set in 1986. In a small town
outside Seoul, over the course of six years, 10 women were raped and murdered in a 2km radius. Korean society's first serial killer took the lives of 10 victims, ranging from a 71 year-old grandmother to a 13 year old schoolgirl. As time went on, the methods of the
killer grew more bold and well-planned. Other than the victims, the killer left not a single shred of evidence. Over 3,000 suspects were interrogated. At least 300,000 police took part in the massive investigation. But not a single person was indicted for the crimes. This is
a story about the detectives. At a time in Korea when a murder investigation only meant grilling those who knew the victim, for these officers everything was a new experience. There was no profiling mechanism, nor any idea of preserving the crime scene for forensic
investigation. Only search and interrogation based on the detectives' sense of duty and persistence. Two detectives at the bottom of an ill-supported police force have only themselves to rely on to face this horrific series of events. The two detectives must mesh the ways of
new and old to try to solve a mystery in a time of innocence when people were unable to comprehend such heinous acts. In Korean with English subtitles.
Director: Joon-ho Bong. Stars: Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, Roe-ha Kim, Jae-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 132 min., Suspense, Palm Pictures. DVD only.
Based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller, "Sin City"
is infested with criminals, crooked cops and sexy dames, some searching for
vengeance, some for redemption. Visually stunning, the film has been translated from page to screen by remaining absolutely faithful to the look, feel
and dialogue of the books. Sin City beckons to the tough, the corrupt, the brokenhearted. Some call it dark. Hard-boiled. Then there are those who call it home. A universe of unlikely and reluctant heroes still trying to do the right thing in a city that refuses to care.
Miller and Rodriguez plucked the stories of Sin City right off the comic book page. Then, using cutting-edge digital filmmaking, they pasted these ultimate urban tales of louts, lugs, heroes and hussies to the screen without losing any of the comic's silhouetted look and
staccato rhythms. The central story follows Marv (Mickey Rourke), a tougher-than-nails street-fighter who has always played it his way. When Marv takes home a Goddess-like beauty named Goldie (Jaime King), only to have her wind up dead in his bed -- he scours the
city to avenge the loss of the only drop of love his heart has ever known. Then there's the tale of Dwight (Clive Owen), a private investigator perpetually trying to leave trouble behind, even though it won't quit chasing after him. After a cop is killed in Old Town,
Dwight will stop at nothing to protect his friends among the ladies of the night. Finally, there's the tale of John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) -- the last honest cop in Sin City. With just one ticking hour left to his career, he's going out with a bang as he makes a final bid to
save an 11 year-old girl from the sadistic son of a Senator ... with unexpected results.
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez. Stars: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke,
Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, Nick Stahl, Powers Boothe, Rutger Hauer, Elijah Wood,
Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Jaime King, Devon Aoki, Brittany Murphy,
Michael Clarke Duncan, Carla Gugino. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 124 min.,
Thriller, Box office gross: $72.212 million, Dimension, $29.99 VHS SRP.
Wedding Date, The
Meager and predictable romantic comedy. Kat Ellis (Debra Messing) is determined to attend her younger half-sister's wedding with a date. Kat wouldn't be so urgently in need were it not for her spoiled,
gets-everything-she-wants sister's wedding where the best man happens to be Kat's handsome ex-boyfriend. What's worse, the currently single Kat has to schlep all the way from New York -- where she's made her life -- to London, where her wildly dysfunctional family
lives. That's one long, thankless trip to take solo. Rather than face the ridicule of her family and in order to show up her ex-fiance, she resorts to the Yellow Pages to find a last-minute escort, Nick (Dermot Mulroney). True to form -- and to Kat's delight -- his dashing
good looks and quick-witted charm wins over her family. But for Kat, what begins as merely a face-saving ruse with a dashing guy-for-hire -- strictly a business arrangement -- quickly starts to become more than she ever expected. Love doesn't come cheap.
Director: Clare Kilner. Stars: Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney, Amy Adams, Jack Davenport, Sarah Parish, Jeremy Sheffield, Peter Egan, Holland Taylor. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 90 min., Romantic comedy, Box office gross: $31.585 million,
Universal, $29.98 VHS SRP.
Ballad of Jack and Rose, The
Jack (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his 16-year-old daughter Rose (Camilla Belle) live in relative isolation on a beautiful island off the East Coast. When he invites his mainland girlfriend (Catherine Keener) and her two
teenage sons to come live with them, it is Rose's first exposure to society -- and sexuality. As worlds collide, the consequences will threaten not only Jack and Rose's way of life but also their unusually close bond.
Director: Rebecca Miller. Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Camilla Belle, Catherine
Keener, Paul Dano, Ryan McDonald, Jena Malone, Beau Bridges, Jason Lee.
2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 112 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.687 million,
MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
The Brown Bunny
Boring work of self-indulgence by director-writer-star Vincent Gallo. The film was a bomb at the Festival de Cannes two years ago, but Gallo supposedly reworked it for its theatrical release. You know you're in for trouble
when the movie begins with a bird's-eye-view of a motorcycle race that goes on interminably, followed by a meandering road trip in which -- basically -- nothing happens. After finishing a motorcycle race in New Hampshire, Bud Clay (Vincent Gallo) loads his racing
bike into the back of his van and begins a cross-country odyssey to Los Angeles, where he is to compete in another race. During his trip, he meets three very different women: Violet, a wholesome all-American gas station attendant; Lilly (Cheryl Tiegs), a fellow lost soul
he connects with at a highway rest stop; and Rose, a Las Vegas prostitute. Throughout his journey, Bud can never escape his intense feelings for the love of his life, Daisy (Chloe Sevigny), so he plans to reconcile with her when he reaches Los Angeles. Arriving in Los
Angeles, Bud checks into a motel before visiting the abandoned home he once shared with Daisy. He leaves a note, hoping she will turn up at his motel room. When she does, the film builds to a notorious climax that one would normally see in an X-rated outing. There
is a twist ending -- but by the time it comes, who cares.
Director: Vincent Gallo. Stars: Vincent Gallo, Chloe Sevigny, Cheryl Tiegs.
2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 92 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.365 million,
Sony. DVD only.
Masterpiece of the New Chinese Cinema that criticizes old-style Maoism and its replacement -- Western commercialism -- in modern China. The film spans the 1980s by following four performers in the state-run Fenyang Peasant
Culture Group. As China begins to move toward Western-influenced consumer capitalism, the group starts to sport spandex and play electric guitars. Rich in detail -- shot in long, fixed camera tableaux -- the film conveys a sense of time passing and ineluctable change. In
Chinese with English subtitles.
Director: Zhang Ke Jia. Stars: Hong Wei Wang, Tao Zhao, Jing Dong Liang, Tian Yi Yang, Bo Wang. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 150 min., Drama, New Yorker, $24.95 VHS SRP.
Ring 2, The
Naomi Watts reprises the role of investigative reporter Rachel Keller in this sequel to the 2002 horror hit "The Ring." Hideo Nakata, the director of the original Japanese blockbuster "Ringu," upon which "The Ring" was based,
directed this version, which marks his American film debut. The story picks up six months after the horrifying events that terrorized Rachel Keller and her son Aidan (David Dorfman) in Seattle. To escape her haunting memories, Rachel takes Aidan and moves to the
small coastal community of Astoria, Oregon, to start fresh. However, Rachel's resolve quickly turns to dread when evidence at a local crime scene -- including an unmarked videotape -- seems eerily familiar. Rachel realizes that the vengeful Samara is back and more
determined than ever to continue her relentless cycle of terror and death: this time by taking over her son's life.
Director: Hideo Nakata. Stars: Naomi Watts, Simon Baker, David Dorfman,
Elizabeth Perkins, Gary Cole, Sissy Spacek. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13,
110 min., Horror thriller, Box office gross: $75.888 million, DreamWorks, $19.95
Japanese sequel to the international phenomenon "Ringu." The mystery of the cursed videotape continues in this bone-chilling sequel. While investigating the horrifying death of her boyfriend, Mai Takano (Miki Nakatani) learns about
a videotape haunted by the spirit of a disturbing girl named Sadako, which kills anyone who watches it exactly one week later. When her boyfriend's son, Yoichi (Rikiya Otaka), starts to develop the same psychic abilities as Sadako, Takano must find a way to keep the
boy and herself from becoming the next victims. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Director: Hideo Nakata. Stars: Miki Nakatani, Hitomi Sato, Kyoko Fukada, Fumiyo
Kohinata, Kenjiro Ishimaru, Rikiya Otaka, Yoichi Numata. 1999, CC, MPAA
rating: NR, 95 min., Horror Thriller, DreamWorks, DVD only.
A Lot Like Love
A romantic comedy about romantic obstacles is moderately romantic. Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet star as a pair of dynamic, diametrically opposed twentysomethings -- Oliver and Emily -- whose initial fateful meeting sets
off sparks -- then seems to go nowhere. Over the next seven years, they continue to meet. But is their relationship simply a good friendship? Is it destined to be yet another romantic disaster? It all begins as a young man and woman meet on a cross-country flight. Oliver
(Kutcher) is a brand new college graduate with an airtight timeline for attaining his dreams of both business success and finding true love. Emily (Peet) is a bold, free spirit drawn to spontaneity and wild extremes. Two different choices, two incompatible views on life.
They may have hooked up for a brief moment, but Oliver and Emily clearly don't belong together. Or do they? Though they both move on, Oliver and Emily nevertheless can't quite seem to completely let go. As the two bump into each other, year after year, in city
after city, through changing careers and different relationships, there always seems to be plenty keeping them apart. So what keeps getting in the way of what could be romantic destiny -- the lack of an engaging plotline and characterization -- nothing ever really happens
to or engages these people, or develops them as characters. But the kids seem to love it.
Director: Nigel Cole. Stars: Amanda Peet, Ashton Kutcher, Taryn Manning, Aimee Garcia. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min., Romantic-comedy, Box office gross: $21.317 million, Buena Vista, $29.99 VHS SRP.
Gina Norris (Queen Latifah) is a long way from the Chicago barbershop (in the film "Barbershop") where she got her start -- she now lives in Atlanta and is making a name for herself and her cutting-edge hairstyles at a posh
Southern salon. But when her flamboyant, egotistical boss, Jorge (Kevin Bacon), takes it one criticism too far, she storms out of his salon to open a shop of her own, taking the shampoo girl (Alicia Silverstone) and a few key clients (Andie MacDowell, Mena Suvari) with
her. Gina risks it all to buy a rundown beauty shop and gets to work making it her own, inheriting an opinionated group of headstrong stylists (including Alfre Woodard, Golden Brooks, and Sherri Shepherd), a colorful clientele, and a sexy upstairs electrician (Djimon
Hounsou). It's a rocky road to fulfilling her dreams -- and Jorge does his best to ruin her plans -- but you can't keep a good woman down. Slight comedy that pushes urban humor to the R-rated edge -- with predictable, pat ending.
Director: Bille Woodruff. Stars: Queen Latifah, Alicia Silverstone, Andie
MacDowell, Alfre Woodard, Mena Suvari, Della Reese, Kevin Bacon, Djimon Hounsou,
Golden Brooks, Sherri Shepherd. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min.,
Comedy, Box office gross: $36.310 million, MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for
Based on the comic of the same name.
Oh Dae-su is an ordinary Seoul businessman with a wife and little daughter who, after a drunken night on the town, is locked up in a strange, private "prison" for 15 years. No one will tell him why he's there and who his jailer is, but he is kept in reasonably
comfortable quarters and has a TV to keep him company. On the TV, though, he discovers that he has been framed for his wife's murder and realizes that, during one of the occasions in which he's knocked out by gas, someone has drawn blood from him and left it at
the scene of the crime. The imprisonment lasts for 15 years until one day when Dae-su finds himself unexpectedly deposited on a grass-covered high-rise roof. He's determined to discover the mysterious enemy who had him locked up. While he's eating in a Japanese
restaurant, his cell phone rings and a voice dares him to figure out why he was imprisoned -- in just five days. Winner of the Grand Prize of the Jury at the 2004 Festival de Cannes, "Best Asian Film, South Korea" at the 2005 Hong Kong Film Awards, as well as other
awards. Scheduled for a U.S. remake in 2006 by Universal. In Korean with English subtitles.
Director: Chan-wook Park. Stars: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang, Dae-han Ji, Dal-su Oh, Byeong-ok Kim, Su-hyeon Kim, Seung-jin Lee, Su-kyeong Yun, Myeong-shin Park. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Thriller, Tartan Asia
Extreme. DVD only.
Based upon JJ Connelly's London crime novel, "Layer Cake" is about a successful cocaine dealer (Daniel Craig) who has earned a respected place among England's Mafia elite and plans an early retirement. However, big boss Jimmy
Price hands down a tough assignment: find Charlotte Ryder, the missing rich princess daughter of Jimmy's old pal Edward, a powerful construction business player and gossip papers socialite. Complicating matters are two million pounds' worth of Grade A ecstasy, a
brutal neo-Nazi sect and a whole series of double crossings. The title "Layer Cake" refers to the layers or levels the dealer has to go through as he painstakingly plots his own escape. What is revealed is a modern underworld where the rules have changed. There are no
"codes" or "families," and respect lasts as long as a line. Not knowing who he can trust, he has to use all his "savvy," "telling" and skills which make him one of the best, to escape his own. The ultimate last job, a love interest called Tammy and an international drugs
ring, threaten to draw him back into the "cake mix."
Director: Matthew Vaughn. Stars: Daniel Craig, Tom Hardy, Jamie Foreman, Sally
Hawkins, Burn Gorman, George Harris. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min.,
Thriller, Box office gross: $0.243 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for
Home of the Brave
Viola Liuzzo, a 39-year-old Detroit Teamster's wife and mother of five, was the only white woman killed during the civil rights movement. Narrated by Stockard Channing, Paola di Florio's powerful and poignant
documentary rescues from obscurity Liuzzo's tragic untold story. Dramatic archival footage recaptures this turbulent era, and compelling interviews with her children etch a vivid portrait of a shattered family determined to uncover the truth about their mother's murder
and the government's campaign to smear her name.
Director: Paola di Florio. Stars: Narrated by Stockard Channing, Gloria Steinem.
2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 75 min., Documentary, Home Vision Entertainment, DVD only.
La Petite Lili
Modern day retelling of Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull." Ludivine Sagnier stars as Lili, the love and muse of an idealistic young filmmaker named Julien. At odds with the serenity of the breathtaking French countryside, Julien
rebels against his mother and her guests, while multiple intrigues of lust and power play out behind the scenes. When the young and overly sensitive filmmaker Julien screens his new DV art-film starring his girlfriend Lili -- a sexy young local girl -- to his famous actress
mother Mado, and her lover Brice, an accomplished film director, an unraveling of the delicate peace in their house begins. The graceful beauty Lili, who dreams of becoming a famous actress like Mado, is immediately fascinated by Brice, who gladly falls prey to her
charms. Lili's ambitions will stop at nothing and she soon seduces Brice into leaving Mado to take her to Paris so she can become a movie actress. Mado and Julien are left to pick up the pieces of their disrupted lives, and for Julien the loss is almost fatal. Five years
later, Julien, now a more established filmmaker, remakes a fictionalized account of this disastrous love quadrangle which nearly destroyed him. He reunites the characters -- based on Mado, Brica and Lili -- in his first, highly autobiographical, feature film. Lili is no
longer with Brice, but she has become a famous actress. When she learns of Julien's film, and that it's about that tempestuous summer of five years past, she tries to reconnect with him. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Claude Miller. Stars: Nicole Garcia, Bernard Giraudeau, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Ludivine Sagnier, Robinson Stevenin, Julie Depardieu. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 99 min., Drama, First Run Features. DVD only.
The DEFA Sci-Fi Collection
Newly re-mastered, "The DEFA Sci-Fi Collection" features three seminal works from the legendary DEFA film studio: "The Silent Star," "Eolomea" and "In the Dust of the Stars." Always provocative, hugely influential and highly entertaining, these mind-bending
stories of space exploration, alien races and utopian dreams (or nightmares) are finally available, unaltered and unedited, in all their space-age glory. DEFA (Deutsche Filmaktiengesellschaft) was made up of the state-run studios of the former German Democratic Republic
or East Germany. DEFA was headquartered in the legendary UFA Studios of the "film city" of Babelsberg near Berlin and was famous for the work of such artists as Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder and Marlene Dietrich. Spanning from 1946 to the 1990s, this body of films
represents Europe's largest cohesive national cinema collection. "The DEFA Sci-Fi Collection" runs a total of 270 minutes and has a suggested retail price of $59.95 or $24.95 for each film. (First Run Features).
"The Silent Star" is a film by Kurt Maetzig, based on Stanislaw Lem's novel "The Astronauts." In this celebrated sci-fi classic, a mysterious object from outer space is found in the Gobi desert. An international
expedition, dispatched to Venus to decipher the message it contains, discovers it is a declaration of war -- on Earth. The first sci-fi film made in East Germany by the DEFA film studio, "The Silent Star" is a masterpiece in story, art and set design, and technology, made
during the U.S./U.S.S.R. space race set off by the Sputnik launch. 95 minutes, 1960, German with English subtitles.
"In the Dust of the Stars" is a film by Gottfried Kolditz. After a six year voyage from Earth provoked by an urgent message for help, the spaceship Cyrno and her crew arrive on the planet TEM 4 ready for action.
But the "Temers" deny having sent the message. Before departing, one of the crewman discovers something mysterious going on under the surface of TEM 4. This groovy 70's sci-fi classic, replete with space age costumes, liberal social mores, and a socialist utopian
undercurrent, is an enjoyable gem. 95 minutes, color, 1976, German with English subtitles.
"Eolomea" is a film by Hermann Zschoche. A mysterious message -- "Eolomea" -- is received on Earth from a sector of space. Within three days, eight cargo ships disappear from the sector, and a space station goes
silent. What is Eolomea -- and who on Earth knows about it? With shades of Tarkovsky, Kubrick, and even Jess Franco, this striking sci-fi classic features a spectacular space exploration plot grounded in realism -- the scientists drink and swear, the bureaucrats get in the
way, and the space stations are reminiscent of MIR. 80 minutes, color, 1972, German with English subtitles.
Dust to Glory
Documentary about the longest non-stop, point-to-point race in the world -- The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 -- first held in 1967. Pulse-pounding, front-seat view of the world's most dangerous and exciting multi-vehicle race
through Baja, California. Packed with awesome helicopter footage, cameo appearances in archival footage by Steve McQueen and James Garner as well as celebrity driver Mario Andretti as the Grand Marshall, "Dust to Glory" follows a wild assortment of motorcycles,
dune buggies, ATV quads and tricked-out trucks in a 32-hour dash across 1,000 miles of unforgiving terrain.
Director: Dana Brown. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 97 min.,
Documentary, Box office gross: $0.630 million, MGM, DVD only.
When master explorer Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) finds a fabled coin linked to a historical legend, he takes on the adventure of his life and embarks on a treasure hunt through some of the most dangerous regions of West Africa.
As Pitt and his wisecracking sidekick Al Giordino (Steve Zahn) search for what the locals call the "Ship of Death" -- a long-lost Civil War battleship that protects a secret cargo -- they also thwart the attempted assassination of a beautiful U.N. scientist, Dr. Eva Rojas
(Penelope Cruz), investigating a disease that is driving thousands of North Africans into madness and death. The suspected cause of the raging epidemic is a vast, unprecedented pollution that threatens to extinguish all life in the world's seas. Equipped with an
extraordinary, state-of-the-art yacht, Pitt runs a gauntlet between a billionaire industrialist and a bloodthirsty West African tyrant. In the scorching desert, he finds a gold mine manned by slaves and uncovers the truth behind two enduring mysteries -- the fate of the Civil
War ironclad and the last flight of a long-lost female pilot. Straight-ahead action-adventure with squeaky escapes, romance and fun. Though at times it bogs down under its own weight, still a worthwhile way to wile away an evening. Director: Breck Eisner. Stars:
Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz, Steve Zahn, William H. Macy. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 123 min., Action adventure,
Box office gross: $65.571 million, Paramount, No VHS SRP, Priced for
Unlucky in love, beautiful Charlotte "Charlie" Cantilini (Jennifer Lopez) has finally met the man of her dreams, Dr. Kevin Fields (Michael Vartan). There's just one problem -- his mother! Overbearing and controlling, not to
mention volatile, Viola Fields (Jane Fonda) has recently been canned from her job as a star news anchor. Fearing she will lose her son's affections as she has her career, Viola decides to break up the happy couple by becoming the world's worst mother-in-law. Helping
her with her crazy schemes is Viola's long-time assistant, Ruby (Wanda Sykes). The gloves come off when Charlie finally decides to fight back and it looks like Viola has finally met her match. Marks Fonda's return to the big screen after a 14-year absence.
Director: Robert Luketic. Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, Michael Vartan, Wanda Sykes, Adam Scott, Annie Parisse, Monet Mazur, Elaine Stritch. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 102 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $83.000 million, New Line, No VHS
SRP, Priced for rental.
Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Features martial arts newcomer Tony Jaa in an amazing set of hand-to-hand battles sans wires and special effects. A sacred Buddha statuette called "Ong Bak" is stolen from it's rural town and it soon becomes the task
of young man, named Boonting, to track the thief to Bangkok and reclaim the religious treasure. Along the way, Boonting must use his astounding athleticism and traditional Muay Thai skills to fight his adversaries. In Thai with English subtitles.
Director: Prachya Pinkaew. Stars: Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Pumwaree Yodkamol, Suchao Pongwilai, Wannakit Sirioput, Cumporn Teppita. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 101 min., Martial arts, Box office gross: $4.560 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced
Walk on Water
Critically acclaimed suspenseful drama dealing with the crisis of conscience surrounding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the holocaust and the relationships between heterosexuals and homosexuals. Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi) is an
undercover Israeli intelligence agent assigned to track down and terminate a former Nazi war criminal who was never brought to justice, Alfred Himmelman. In order to discover his whereabouts, Eyal must befriend Himmelman's grandchildren, Pia and Axel. Pia
(Carolina Peters) left Germany several years ago and now lives on an Israeli kibbutz. Her younger brother Axel (Knut Berger) comes to Israel for a visit, and Eyal poses as a tour guide assigned to show him around the country. At first unsociable toward the pair, Eyal
soon discovers that both Pia and Axel are good people. But when Eyal finds out that Axel is gay he is forced to continue his friendship with him -- despite his deep-rooted prejudice against homosexuals -- in order to complete the mission. Slowly, almost against his will,
he finds his assumptions about people -- be they Germans, gays or Palestinians -- being called into question. In English, German and Hebrew with English subtitles.
Director: Eytan Fox. Stars: Lior Ashkenazi, Knut Berger, Caroline Peters, Carola Regnier. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Drama, Box office gross: $2.113 million, Sony, VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a
Rotel RDV-1060 DVD Audio/Video 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.