OnVideo Guide to Home Video Releases: February Calendar of Releases

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Guide to Home Video Releases:
February Release Calendar

DVD Releases

Movies are rated on a scale of one to five, with five denoting a classic. For more information on how we rate, check out our
Rentability Index.

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February 1
  • Grudge, The In this powerful horror-thriller, based on the Japanese blockbuster "Ju-on: The Grudge," the normal facade of a modest house in Tokyo belies the hidden terror within. It is possessed by a violent plague that destroys the lives of everyone who enters. Known as "The Grudge," this curse causes its victims to die in the grip of a powerful rage. After those who are fatally afflicted die, new curse is born -- passed like a virus to all those who enter the house in an endless, growing chain of horror. Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is an exchange student studying social work in Japan who innocently agrees to cover for a nurse who didn't show up for work. When she enters the assigned home, she discovers an elderly American woman, Emma (Grace Zabriskie), who is lost in a catatonic state while the rest of the house appears deserted and disheveled. As she is tending to the stricken old woman, Karen hears scratching sounds from upstairs. When she investigates, she is faced with a supernatural horror more frightening than she could ever imagine. Within this house, a chain of terror has been set in motion resulting from a terrifying evil that was born years before. As more people die, Karen is pulled into the cycle of horror and learns the secret of the vengeful curse that has taken root in the house. Now she must stop it before it's too late. Chilling. Director: Takashi Shimizu. Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, William Mapother, Clea DuVall, KaDee Strickland, Grace Zabriskie, Bill Pullman. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 91 min., Horror, Box office gross: $104.411 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 4 stars

  • Ray "Ray" is the never-before-told, musical biodrama of American legend Ray Charles. Born in a poor town in Georgia, Charles went blind at the age of seven shortly after witnessing his younger brother's accidental death. Inspired by a fiercely independent mother who insisted he make his own in the world, Charles found his calling and his gift behind a piano keyboard. Touring across the Southern music circuit, the soulful singer gained a reputation and then exploded with worldwide fame when he pioneered music that incorporated gospel, country, jazz and orchestral influences into an inimitable style. As he revolutionized the way people appreciated music, he simultaneously fought segregation in the very clubs that launched him and championed artists' rights within the corporate music business. "Ray" provides an unflinching portrait of Charles' musical genius as he overcomes drug addiction while he transformed himself into one of this country's greatest performers. Director: Taylor Hackford. Stars: Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King, Clifton Powell, Harry J. Lennix, Bokeem Woodbine. 2994, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 152 min., Biodrama, Box office gross: $67.792 million, Universal, $23.98 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Night and the City Two-bit hustler Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) aches for a life of ease and plenty. Trailed by an inglorious history of go-nowhere schemes, he stumbles upon the chance of a lifetime in the form of legendary wrestler Gregorius the Great. But there is no easy money in this underworld of shifting alliances, bottomless graft, and pummeled flesh -- and soon Fabian learns the horrible price of his ambition. Luminously shot in the streets of London, Jules Dassin's "Night and the City" is film noir of the first order and one of the director's crowning achievements. Director: Jules Dassin. Stars: Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Hugh Marlowe, Francis L. Sullivan, Herbert Lom. 1950, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 96 min., Film Noir, The Criterion Collection. DVD: Only. 4 stars

  • Thieves' Highway Set in the world of "long-haul boys," who drive by night to bring their goods to the markets of America's cities. Ex-G.I. Nick Garcos (Richard Conte) is a tyro trucker bent on satisfaction from the man responsible for crippling his father -- ruthless market operator Mike Figlia (Lee J. Cobb). Along the way, he is seduced by siren Rica (Valentina Cortese) and drawn into the San Francisco produce racket -- landing him in a web of treachery and heartbreak. A Jules Dassin masterpiece, the last film he completed in America before he was blacklisted. Director: Jules Dassin. Stars: Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb, Valentina Cortese, Barbara Lawrence, Jack Oakie. 1949, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 94 min., Film Noir, The Criterion Collection. DVD: Only. 3 stars

  • She Hate Me Wharton-educated biotech executive John Henry "Jack" Armstrong (Anthony Mackie) gets fired when he informs on his bosses, launching an investigation into their business dealings by the Securities & Exchange Commission. Branded a whistle-blower and therefore unemployable, Jack desperately needs to make a living. When his former girlfriend Fatima (Kerry Washington), a high powered businesswoman and now a lesbian, offers him cash to impregnate her and her new girlfriend Alex (Dania Ramirez), Jack is persuaded by the chance to make "easy" money. Word spreads and soon Jack is in the baby-making business at $10,000 a try. Lesbians with a desire for motherhood and the cash to spare are lining up to seek his services. But, between the attempts by his former employers to frame him for security fraud and his dubious fathering activities, Jack finds his life, all at once, becoming very complicated. Director: Spike Lee. Stars: Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Ellen Barkin, Monica Bellucci, Jim Brown, Ossie Davis, Jamel Debbouze, Brian Dennehy, Woody Harrelson, Ling Bai, Lonette McKee, Paula Jai Parker, Dania Ramirez, Q-Tip, John Turturro. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 138 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $0.363 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Shall We Dance? Chicago lawyer John Clark (Richard Gere) knows his life is almost perfect. He loves his beautiful wife (Susan Sarandon), he's built a successful career and raised two wonderful kids. And yet ... the workday is always the same routine, the commute is a grind and the family is usually too busy to spend time together. Sometimes John wonders if this is all there is. But one night he catches a glimpse of a beautiful dance instructor (Jennifer Lopez) in the window of a shabby ball room dancing school. Without telling a soul, he secretly begins taking dance lessons at the studio, but he's assigned to an eccentric group class taught by an older woman. Nevertheless, the seemingly predictable man sticks with his new hobby hoping to catch the attention of the young beauty, while avoiding the ridicule of his co-workers and family. Suddenly, John is thrust into a whole new world -- of motion, music, camaraderie and passion. As this very serious man becomes literally light on his feet, his whole life, and marriage, transforms. Drab U.S. remake of the runaway Japanese hit, which Miramax is also releasing this week on DVD. Director: Peter Chelsom. Stars: Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 106 min., Romance, Box office gross: $42.144 million, Miramax, $24.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Mr. 3000 A mediocre comedy about a retired baseball player who tries to regain his former big-league swing and make it into the hall of fame. Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) has been trading on his 3000 major league hits for years, parlaying the title Mr. 3000 into a sports bar and a larger-than-life ego. But on the eve of Stan's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, his world comes crashing down when a fact check reveals that he's still a few hits short -- he's merely Mr. 2,997. In order to score his remaining three hits, the 47-year-old Stan has to get back in shape and back to the big leagues. Stan's trip back to the baseball diamond, however, turns out to be anything but easy. Director: Charles Stone III. Stars: Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett, Chris Noth, Paul Sorvino, Michael Rispoli. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 103 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $21.572 million, Buena Vista, $24.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • La commare secca The brutalized corpse of a Roman prostitute is found along the banks of the Tiber River. The police round up and interrogate a handful of possible suspects. In this, his stunning debut feature -- based on a story by Pier Paolo Pasolini -- Bernardo Bertolucci utilizes a series of interconnected flashbacks to explore the nature of truth and the reliability of narrative. In Italian with English subtitles. Director: Bernardo Bertolucci. Stars: Carlotta Barilli, Lorenza Benedetti, Clorinda Celani. 1962, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 88 min., Drama, The Criterion Collection. DVD: Only. 3 stars

  • Fall Guy Winner of five awards from the Japanese Academy, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress, internationally acclaimed director Kinji Fukasaku's "The Fall Guy" is a moving love story and a heartfelt valentine to the movies. Morio Kazama stars as Ginshiro, a vain and selfish actor whose stardom is threatened by rising star Tachibana (Daijiro Harada). In a desperate bid to burnish his image, Ginshiro compels a devoted member of his entourage, Yasu (Mitsuro Hirata), to marry Ginshiro's pregnant mistress, Konatsu (Keiko Matsuzaka). To support his new wife, the devoted Yasu becomes a stunt man, performing increasingly dangerous stunts. Konatsu is torn between Yasu and Ginshiro, who compels his loyal disciple to perform a death-defying stunt that could save the film and Ginshiro's career. In Japanese with optional English subtitles. Director: Kinji Fukasaku. Stars: Keiko Matsuzaka, Morio Kazama, Keizo Kanie, Mitsuru Hirata. 1982, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 109 min., Drama, Home Vision Entertainment. DVD: Only.

  • La Cienaga Mecha (Graciela Borges) is a middle-aged woman with several accident-prone teenagers, a husband who dyes his hair, and the tedious problem of sullen servants. Nothing that a few drinks can't cure. To avoid the uncomfortably hot and humid weather, they spend their summers at a country estate whose glory has long faded, where the swimming pool is filthy, but still offers some relief. Mecha's cousin, Tali (Mercedes Moran), lives in the nearby city La Cienaga ("The Swamp") and has a crew of small, noisy children and a husband who loves his home, his kids, and hunting. Before long, the crowded, rough-and-tumble domestic situation strains both families' nerves, exposing repressed family mysteries, and tensions that threaten to erupt into violence. Like Luis Bunuel before her, award-winning filmmaker Lucrecia Martel offers an unapologetic peek into the world of the 's decadent bourgeoisie. In Spanish with optional English subtitles. Director: Lucrecia Martel. Stars: Mercedes Moran, Graciela Borges, Martin Adjemian, Leonora Balcarce, Silvia Bayle, Fabio Villafane. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 100 min., Drama, Home Vision Entertainment. DVD: Only.

  • Sympathy for the Underdog From Kinji Fukasaku ("Battles Without Honor & Humanity") comes this pivotal early crime drama in the celebrated career of the director who changed the face of Japanese action cinema. Stylish and hard-boiled, "Sympathy for the Underdog" stars Koji Tsuruta, one of Japan's seminal figures in the Yakuza genre, as Gunji, an aging Yakuza who is released from prison after 10 years. Gunji lives by a code of honor that has no place among Tokyo's modern corporate gangs. He gets a new lease on life by reforming his former gang and taking over the whiskey trade on the island of Okinawa. But he is forced to make a final, fateful, bloody stand against the mainland gang that sent him to prison. In Japanese with optional English subtitles. Director: Kinji Fukasaku. Stars: Noboru Ando, Koji Tsuruta, Ken Takakura, Tomisaburo Wakayama. 1971, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 102 min., Crime Drama, Home Vision Entertainment. DVD: Only.

  • Vanity Fair Director Mira Nair brings to the screen one of the greatest female characters ever created, Rebecca (Becky) Sharp, in a new film version of the classic novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. The daughter of a starving English artist and a French chorus girl, Becky (Reese Witherspoon) is orphaned at a young age. Even as a child, she yearns for a more glamorous life than her birthright promises. As she leaves Miss Pinkerton's Academy at Chiswick, Becky resolves to conquer English society by any means possible. She deploys all of her wit, guile, and sexuality as she makes her way up into high society during the first quarter of the 19th century. Becky's ascension to the heights of society commences when she gains employment as governess to the daughters of eccentric Sir Pitt Crawley (Bob Hoskins). Becky wins over the children, and the Crawley family's rich spinster aunt Matilda (Eileen Atkins) as well. The rural Hampshire household comes to find her indispensable, and Matilda comes to confide in the bright young woman. But Becky knows that she cannot be a true part of English society until she moves to the city. When Matilda invites her to come live in London, Becky eagerly accepts. There, Becky is reunited with her best friend Amelia Sedley (Romola Garai), who -- having grown up comfortably -- does not share Becky's more brazen ambitions. Hewing close to the family she already knows so well, Becky secretly marries dashing heir Rawdon Crawley (James Purefoy) -- but when Matilda discovers their union, she casts the newlyweds out. When Napoleon invades Europe, Rawdon bravely reports to the front lines. Pregnant Becky stands by distraught newlywed Amelia, whose own husband George Osborne (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is also called to fight. When George does not survive the Battle of Waterloo, Becky's friendship with Amelia is strained beyond repair. Becky is reunited with Rawdon and gives birth to a boy, but post-war money and comforts are sparse for the trio. More intent than ever on gaining acceptance into London society and living well, Becky finds a patron in the powerful Marquess of Steyne (Gabriel Byrne). Steyne's whims enable Becky to realize her dreams, but the ultimate cost may be too high for her. Director: Mira Nair. Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Gabriel Byrne, Angelica Mandy, Romola Garai, Rhys Ifans, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Bob Hoskins, Eileen Atkins, James Purefoy. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 137 min., Drama, Box office gross: $16.088 million, Universal, $23.98 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

February 8
  • Shark Tale Oscar is a fast-talking tongue-scrubber at the local whale wash whose big dreams have a habit of landing him in hot water. Lenny is a great white shark with a sensitive side and a secret -- he's a vegetarian. When a great white lie turns Oscar into an improbable hero and the truth about Lenny makes him an outcast, these two become the most unlikely of friends. "Shark Tale" stars the voices of Will Smith as Oscar, a hustler who has always been able to fin-agle his way out of trouble, until now; Robert De Niro as Don Lino, a great white shark at the top of the Reef's food chain; Renee Zellweger as Angie, the beautiful angelfish who harbors a secret crush on Oscar; Angelina Jolie as the femme fatale, Lola, a cross between a lion fish and a dragonfish, who uses her feminine wiles to get what she wants; Jack Black as Don Lino's son Lenny, a great white shark who is a closet vegetarian; and Martin Scorsese as Sykes, a puffer fish who is full of hot air and never misses an opportunity to make a few extra clams. Rounding out the main cast are: Doug E. Doug and Ziggy Marley as Bernie and Ernie, two Rastafarian jellyfish with a stinging sense of humor; Michael Imperioli as Don Lino's oldest son, Frankie, a chip off the old shark; Vincent Pastore as Luca, an oily octopus, which makes him the perfect right-hand, left-hand, right-hand, left-hand man; Peter Falk as Don Ira Feinberg, a shark who is long in the tooth, but still has plenty of bite left; and Katie Couric as the Reef's top anchorfish, Katie Current. Director: Bibo Bergeron, Vicky Jenson. Voices: Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Renee Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, Martin Scorsese, Ziggy Marley, Doug E. Doug, Michael Imperioli, Vincent Pastore, Peter Falk, Katie Couric, David Soren. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 90 min., Animated, Box office gross: $160.000 million, DreamWorks, $15.95 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 4 stars

  • Notebook, The Based on the best-selling romance by Nicholas Sparks, a tale of true love and destiny. As teenagers, Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) begin a whirlwind courtship that soon blossoms into tender intimacy. The young couple is quickly separated by Allie's upper-class parents who insist that Noah isn't right for her. Several years pass, and, when they meet again, their passion is rekindled, forcing Allie to choose between her soulmate and class order. This beautiful tale has a particularly special meaning to an older gentleman (James Garner) who regularly reads the timeless love story to his aging companion (Gena Rowlands). Director: Nick Cassavetes. Stars: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Sam Shepherd, Joan Allen. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 124 min., Romantic drama, Box office gross: $80.313 million, New Line, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Bright Young Things An adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel "Vile Bodies," director Stephen Fry's drama is a look into the lives of a young novelist, his would-be lover, and a host of young people who beautified London in the 1930s. Adam (Stephen Campbell Moore) needs to get enough money to marry the beautiful Nina (Emily Mortimer). His friends -- eccentric, wild, loud and entirely shocking to the older generation, seem one by one to self-destruct, to crash and burn in their endless search for newer and faster sensations. Their world is that of the very young, wild, party-loving creatures new to gramophone records and the telephone -- a self-consciously modern generation that cannot keep still for a second. They are known to the press, who follow their every move, as the Bright Young Things. Director: Stephen Fry. Stars: Emily Mortimer, Stephen Campbell Moore, James McAvoy, Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Fenella Woolgar, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Broadbent, Simon Callow, Jim Carter, Stockard Channing, Richard E. Grant. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 106 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.915 million, New Line, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • P.S. Louise Harrington (Laura Linney), a divorced, thirtysomething admission's officer at Columbia University's School of Fine Arts, is intelligent, pretty, successful, and ... unfulfilled. That is, until a graduate school application crosses her desk and she arranges to interview the young painter. When Scott Feinstadt (Topher Grace) appears, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Louise's high school boyfriend and one true love, an artist who died in a car accident 20 years earlier. Within hours of the interview, Louise and Scott have embarked on a passionately uninhibited older woman/younger man affair. But is Scott just a reminder of Louise's lost love? And is Scott just trying to wheedle his way into the Ivy League? Adding to the romantic complications is competition from Louise's best friend from high school, Missy (Marcia Gay Harden), who shows up to claim the affections of the boy; Louise's co-dependent ex-husband Peter (Gabriel Byrne); her cynical mother (Lois Smith) and fresh-out-of-rehab brother (Paul Rudd). Director: Dylan Kidd. Stars: Laura Linney, Topher Grace, Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Paul Rudd, Lois Smith. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 97 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.175 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Fade to Black Documentary look at rapper Jay-Z's career, filmed during his "Black Album" tour. Provides a backstage glimpse during his concert and shows how his album was conceived. Narrated by Jay-Z. Features guest appearances by Beyonce, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, others. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 110 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $0.725 million, Paramount, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

February 15
  • Motorcycle Diaries, The Based on the inspiring real-life story of a brave trip across a continent on a motorcycle, the film follows the thrilling and life-changing journey of two young men, Ernesto Guevara de la Serna and Alberto Granado, all across the rich and complex human and social topography of Latin America, tracing the youthful origins of a revolutionary heart. The continent is unveiled in all its glory as two friends experience life at its fullest. The film was adapted by Jose Rivera from the journals of two real-life young Argentines, Alberto Granado and Ernesto Guevara de la Serna -- the latter of whom would become "El Che." In January 1952, Ernesto (Gael Garcia Bernal) is a 23-year-old medical student specializing in leprology. Alberto (Rodrigo de la Serna), age 29, is a biochemist. The two men bid goodbye to their families and to Ernesto's girlfriend Chichina Ferreyra (Mia Maestro). Flush with a romantic sense of adventure, they pile onto Alberto's 1939 Norton 500 motorcycle (nicknamed "La Poderosa" ["The Mighty One"]). The aging bike carries them farther and farther away from familiar and comfortable Buenos Aires surroundings, to surprising and exciting destinations. The two friends become as close as brothers. Over the course of eight months and 8,000 miles, what starts out as a lark becomes a profound journey of discovery, not only of themselves but of a continent filled with infinite sorrow -- and infinite hope. From homeless miners to riverboat prostitutes, from lepers to prosperous gentry, Ernesto and Alberto discover an affinity for humanity within themselves, and a determination to change the world. Director: Walter Salles. Stars: Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna, Mia Maestro. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 127 min., Bio-drama, Box office gross: $14.730 million, Universal, $23.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Saw Creepy low-budget ($2 million) horror-thriller. How far would you go to save your own life? Prepare yourself for a gut-wrenching trip into the heart of terror with in this gripping psychological thriller starring Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Monica Potter and Leigh Whannell. Obsessed with teaching his victims the value of life, a deranged, sadistic serial killer is abducting morally wayward people and forcing them to play horrific games for their own survival. Faced with impossible choices, each victim must struggle to win back his/her life, or else die trying. A young man named Adam (Leigh Whannell) wakes to find himself chained to a rusty pipe inside a decrepit subterranean chamber. Chained to the opposite side of the room is another bewildered captive, Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes). Between them is a dead man lying in a pool of blood, holding a .38 in his hand. Neither man knows why he has been abducted; but instructions left on a microcassette order Dr. Gordon to kill Adam within eight hours. If he fails to do so, then both men will die, and Dr. Gordon's wife, Alison (Monica Potter), and his daughter will be killed. Recalling a recent murder investigation by a police detective named Tapp (Danny Glover), Dr. Gordon realizes he and Adam are the next victims of a psychopathic genius known only as "Jigsaw." With only a few hours left to spare, they must unravel the elaborate puzzle of their fate in the midst of mounting terror. The killer has provided them with only a few clues and two handsaws -- too weak to break their steel shackles, but strong enough to cut through flesh and bone. And we'll leave it at that. Director: James Wan. Stars: Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Dina Meyer, Shawnee Smith, Monica Potter. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min., Horror thriller, Box office gross: $50.355 million, Lions Gate, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Tout va bien In 1972, newly radicalized Hollywood star Jane Fonda joined forces with cinematic innovator Jean-Luc Godard and collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin in an unholy revolutionary artistic alliance. "Tout va bien" tells the story of a wildcat strike at a sausage factory, as witnessed by an American reporter (Fonda) and her has-been New Wave film director husband (Yves Montand), culminating in a free-ranging assault on consumer capitalism and ineffective leftists. A masterpiece of radical cinema, a caustic critique of society, marriage, and revolution in post-1968 France. In French with English subtitles. Director: Jean-Luc Godard. Stars: Jane Fonda, Yves Montand. 1972, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 95 min., Drama, The Criterion Collection. DVD: Only. 4 stars

  • Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War No. 1 boxoffice film of all time in Korea. Sweeping historical war epic that vividly portrays the horrors of the Korean War from the perspective of two devoted brothers whose loyalties to their country and each other are divided by the civil conflict. After independence, Korea is full of hope for the future. Jin-tae, a shoemaker, has worked tirelessly to provide money for his younger brother Jin-seok to go to college. But each of their hopes and dreams are shattered when both are forced to join the army against their will. Torn away from home and family, Jin-tae vows to protect Jin-seok despite the dangers -- and the cost. In the searing crucible of battle, fate intervenes, forcing their bonds of faith, love and trust to be tested time and again in this suspense-filled, action-packed war drama. In Korean with English subtitles. Director: Kang Je-Gyu. Stars: Jang Dong-Gun, Won Bin, Lee Eun-Joo. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 140 min., War drama, Box office gross: $1.107 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • All About Lily Chou-Chou Yuichi is in the 8th grade and worships Lily Chou-Chou, a Bjork-like chanteuse whose music is lush and transcendent -- the perfect tool to escape the pain and anxiety that fills his brutal life in Japan. At home, Yuichi rarely leaves his room, spending all his time in the chat room of Lily Chou-Chou's fan website, but little by little, the reality of Yuichi's offline life becomes unbearable when he is ensnared in a nightmare of teenage prostitution, petty theft, and possible murder. Disturbing look at the terror and isolation that characterizes today's youth. In Japanese with optional English subtitles. Director: Shunji Iwai. Stars: Hayato Ichihara, Izumi Inamori, Shugo Oshinari, Takao Osawa, Ayumi Ito, Yu Aoi, Miwako Ichikawa. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 146 min., Drama, Home Vision Entertainment. DVD: Only.

  • Rendez-vous In her first major screen role, Juliette Binoche ("The English Patient") gives a raw and electrifying performance as sexual free-spirit Nina, who moves to Paris to become an actress. She has a profound impact on three men. Paulot (Wadeck Stanczak) is a timid real estate clerk infatuated with her. His roommate, Quentin (Lambert Wilson), is an emotionally scarred actor who performs in live sex shows. Scrutzler (screen legend Jean-Louis Trintignant) is a stage director who casts Nina in his production of "Romeo and Juliet." Co-written by Olivier Assayas ("Irma Vep"), "Rendez-vous" is a mesmerizing study of love, loss, and redemption that earned director Andre Techine ("Wild Reeds") Best Director honors at the Cannes Film Festival. In French with optional English subtitles. Director: Andre Techine. Stars: Juliette Binoche, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Wadeck Stanczak, Lambert Wilson. 1985, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 83 min., Drama, Home Vision Entertainment. DVD: Only.

  • Taxi Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon team up in the buddy comedy, based on the 1998 international smash "Taxi," written and directed by Luc Besson, which became the largest grossing film in the history of French cinema and has since spawned two sequels. Belle Williams (Latifah) is a speed demon. Flying through the streets of New York in her tricked-out taxi, she's earned a rep as New York's fastest cabbie. But driving a hack is only a pit stop for her real dream: Belle wants to be a race car champion. And she's well on her way -- until she's derailed by overeager cop Andy Washburn (Fallon), whose undercover skills are matched only by his total ineptitude behind the wheel. Washburn, whose lack of vehicular skills has landed him in the precinct doghouse, is hot on the heels of a gang of beautiful Brazilian bank robbers, led by Vanessa (Gisele Bundchen), their cold, calculating -- and leggy -- leader. To nab the evasive crooks, drivers license-less Washburn convinces Belle to team up with him to pursue Vanessa and crew. Belle has carte blanche to drive at any speed and break any law. The car-less cop and speed-demon cabbie -- New York's unlikeliest partners -- begin a high-speed game of cat and mouse with the robbers. That is, if Belle and Washburn don't end up killing each other first. Director: Tim Story. Stars: Queen Latifah, Jimmy Fallon, Henry Simmons, Jennifer Esposito, Ann-Margret, Gisele Bundchen. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $35.678 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • My Architect: A Son's Journey Riveting tale of love, art, betrayal and forgiveness. Louis I. Kahn is widely considered to have been one of the most important architects of the second half of the 20th century. While Kahn's artistic legacy was a search for truth and clarity, his personal life was secretive and chaotic. His mysterious death in a train station men's room left behind three families -- one with his wife and two with women with whom he had long-term affairs. The child of one of these relationships, Kahn's only son Nathaniel, sets out on a journey to reconcile the life and work of this mysterious, brilliant man. Director: Nathaniel Kahn. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 116 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $2.748 million, New Yorker, $24.95 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Yes Men, The Revelatory comic documentary directed by Chris Smith and Sarah Price (the filmmaking team behind acclaimed Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner "American Movie") and Dan Ollman. The film follows The Yes Men, a small group of prankster-activists, as they gain worldwide notoriety for impersonating the World Trade Organization on television and at business conferences around the world. The Yes Men begins when Andy and Mike, two activists with thrift-store suits and no economics training, set up a website that mimics the World Trade Organization's. When their parody website is mistaken for the real thing, Mike and Andy play along with the ruse and find themselves invited to important functions as WTO representatives. Delighted to appear on behalf of the organization they politically oppose, Andy and Mike set out to shock unwitting audiences with some very dark comedy about the brutality of corporate globalization. Director: Dan Ollman, Chris Smith, Sarah Price. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 82 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $0.198 million, MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Raise Your Voice Terri Fletcher (Hilary Duff) is a small town girl with big time dreams. Blessed with a naturally joyful singing voice, Terri has her sights set on attending the Bristol-Hillman Conservatory in Los Angeles -- the most celebrated summer music program in the country. Although she has plenty of raw talent, her lofty aspirations are quickly dashed by her overbearing father, Simon (David Keith), and the tragic loss of her beloved brother, who had secretly submitted a demo video of Terri that ultimately results in an acceptance letter to join the prestigious program. A despondent Terri resigns herself to staying home for the summer when her mother Frances (Rita Wilson) and Aunt Nina (Rebecca De Mornay) intervene and covertly devise a plan to keep her from missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime. Upon her arrival in Los Angeles, Terri is quickly introduced to the ultra-competitive, high-stakes environment of the big city. Lacking any formal training, she struggles to make friends and to find her voice amongst the highly-gifted group of musical students. Terri pushes herself to master the intricate musical arrangements, and partners with a fellow student, Jay (Oliver James), resulting in a romantic bond with the rough-and-tumble musician. Leaving her fears and anxiety behind, Terri must learn to step into the spotlight and rediscover the artistic musical passion that burns inside of her. Director: Sean McNamara. Stars: Hilary Duff, Oliver James, David Keith, Dana Davis, Rita Wilson, Rebecca De Mornay, John Corbett. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 103 min., Romantic drama, Box office gross: $10.363 million, New Line, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

February 22
  • I Heart Huckabees The fourth film from writer-director David O. Russell ("Three Kings," "Flirting With Disaster," Spanking the Monkey") is a comedy that's all about what it's all about. Convinced that a series of coincidences involving a doorman hold some secret to life's largest riddles, Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) seeks the help of a detective agency unlike any other ... which leads him down a path that questions the essence of existence itself. In an attempt to ferret out the meaning of these flukes he has seen, he consults Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin), AKA the Existential Detectives, married metaphysicians who fearlessly investigate the mysteries at the core of their clients' secret innermost lives. When on a case, these two follow their clients around closely, observe their daily activities, query their friends and employers and intently examine the lives they lead. The difference is that the Existential Detectives seek the solutions to the most persistent mystery of all -- the one that lies at the core of reality and existence itself ... which means their investigations can get a little tricky. Bernard and Vivian kick off their existential exploration of Albert by probing his past and present reality. Along the way, they uncover his festering conflict with Brad Stand (Jude Law), a golden boy executive climbing the corporate ladder at Huckabees, a popular chain of retail superstores that wants to sponsor Albert's Open Spaces Coalition for the PR value. The Existential Detectives are convinced that Brad -- seemingly Albert's opposite -- is the key to cracking Albert's case, but then Brad turns the tables on their investigation, by hiring the detectives himself. As Bernard and Vivian begin to dig deeper into Brad's ambition and his relationship with Huckabees' hot blonde spokesmodel Dawn (Naomi Watts), Albert begins to lose faith and rebels against their conclusions. Pairing up with another of the duo's clients -- firefighter, tough guy and uncompromising soul searcher Tommy (Mark Wahlberg) -- he joins forces with the Jaffe's arch nemesis, the sexy French philosopher Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert), who valiantly battles for the contrasting point of view. Now, as Being chases Nothingness, Albert, Tommy, Brad, Dawn, Bernard, Vivian and Caterine chase one another in a wild romp through life's biggest questions to find the true answer to existence. Director: David O. Russell. Stars: Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle Huppert, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law, Mark Wahlberg, Naomi Watts. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 106 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $12.247 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 4 stars

  • Miyazaki Collection: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Hayao Miyazaki's epic masterpiece. One thousand years after a great war, a seaside kingdom known as the Valley of the Wind is one of the only areas that remains populated. Led by the courageous Princess Nausicaa, the people of the Valley are engaged in a constant struggle with powerful insects called ohmu, who guard a poisonous jungle that is spreading across the Earth. Nausicae and her brave companions, together with the people of the Valley, strive to restore the bond between humanity and the earth. Two-disc set with a brand-new, English language voice cast as well as the original Japanese language track. Director: Hayao Miyazaki. English language version voices: Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, Edward James Olmos. 1984, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 117 min., Animated, Buena Vista, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Only. 3 stars

  • Miyazaki Collection: Porco Rosso Take flight with "Porco Rosso," a valiant World War I flying ace! From tropical Adriatic settings to dazzling aerial maneuvers, this action-adventure from world-renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki is full of humor, courage and chivalry. When "Porco" -- whose face has been transformed into that of a pig by a mysterious spell -- infuriates a band of sky pirates with his aerial heroics, the pirates hire Curtis, a comical rival pilot, to get rid of him. On the ground, the two pilots compete over the affections of Gina, a beautiful cabaret singer. But it is in the air, with Fio, a young and talented airplane engineer/designer, where Porco's true battles are waged. Two-disc set with a brand-new, English language voice cast as well as the original Japanese language track. Director: Hayao Miyazaki. Stars: English language version voices: Michael Keaton, Brad Garrett, Susan Egan, Kimberly Williams, David Ogden Stiers. 1992, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 92 min., Animated, Buena Visa, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Only. 3 stars

  • Miyazaki Collection: The Cat Returns Spectacular animated journey to a world of magic and adventure. Haru, a schoolgirl bored by her ordinary routine, saves the life of an unusual cat, and suddenly her world is transformed beyond anything she's ever imagined. Her good deed is rewarded with a flurry of presents, including gift-wrapped mice, and one very shocking proposal of marriage -- to the Cat's King's son! Haru embarks on an unexpected journey to the Kingdom of Cats where her eyes are opened to a whole other world and her destiny is uncertain. To change her fate she'll need to learn to believe in herself, and in the process she will learn to appreciate her everyday life. Two-disc set with a brand-new, English language voice cast as well as the original Japanese language track. Director: Hayao Miyazaki. Stars: English language version voices: Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Peter Boyle, Elliott Gould, Andy Richter, Rene Auberjonois, Tim Curry, Judy Greer, Andrew Bevis, Kristen Bell, Kristine Sutherland. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 75 min., Animated, Buena Vista, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Only. 3 stars

  • American Astronaut, The A wild, offbeat science fiction musical comedy set in an undeterminate future in which space travel has become a dirty way of life dominated by derelicts, grease monkeys and hard-boiled interplanetary traders. The story follows the Homeric intergalactic journey of space trader Samuel Curtis as he attempts to provide the all-female population of Venus with a suitable male to propagate their species. All the while he's followed by an enigmatic cold-blooded killer, Professor Hess. The film was written and directed by its star, Cory McAbee of the cult musical group The Billy Nayer Show on black & white stock using low-budget sets and props. The film is outrageously funny at times -- in the midst of a "wild-west" space outpost scraggly, hardened space junkies break out in wild song and dance routines and the Western-outer space-musical motif is carried throughout the film (though some of the numbers carry on a bit too long after the initial wonder and shock wear off). It's kind of "Eraserhead" meets "Lexx" on the set of Herbert Ross' "Pennies From Heaven." Director: Cory McAbee. Stars: Cory McAbee, Rocco Sisto, Gregory Russell Cook, Annie Golden, James Ransome. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 91 min., Sci Fi Western musical comedy, Facets Video. DVD: DVD only. 3 stars

  • Snake of June, A From cult cyber-flesh director Shinya Tsukamoto. In an anonymous Japanese metropolis, a dark erotic force infiltrates the lives of a reserved career woman in her 30s and her obsessively clean workaholic husband. Invading the most private aspects of the couple's lives, a mysterious stranger sends an anonymous envelope bearing the inscription, "Your husband's secrets." A deliriously perverse tale of buried sexual desires, this is a stylishly surreal journey to the dark side of obsession. Director: Shinya Tsukamoto. Stars: Asuka Kurosawa, Yuji Kohtari. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 77 min., Erotic thriller, Tartan Video Asia Extreme, $24.99 VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Sex Is Comedy A tongue-in-cheek look at the filming of sex scenes in the motion picture industry. For director Jeanne (Anne Parillaud), sex is no laughing matter. She doesn't find it funny that her two leading actors can't stand each other when she's about to shoot the most important moment in her film -- the sex scene. The actress objects to nudity, the actor won't take off his socks, and the prop department can't make the leading man's prosthetic "enhancement" stick. At her wits end, Jeanne must do everything in her power to seduce, intimidate and sweet-talk her reticent young lovers into performing the film's "happy ending." Based on director Catherine Breillat's experiences when filming the pivotal sex scene of the award-winning international hit "Fat Girl." Director: Catherine Breillat. Stars: Anne Parillaud, Roxane Mesquida, Gregoire Colin. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: R, 92 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $.036 million, MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Whispering Corridors Korean horror thriller. Set in a seemingly normal private all-girls school, life is what you'd expect for teenagers, until an alumni returns as a teacher and strikes up a friendship with two very different students. When another teacher is found dead, apparently having committed suicide, a horrific course of events unfolds, inextricably linking the past and the present. As the body count rises, memories of the deaths unleash the echoes of ghosts down the corridors. Director: Ki-Hyung Park. Stars: Kang-hie Choi, Gyu-ri Kim, Min-jeong Kim. 1998, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 105 min., Horror, Tartan Video Asia Extreme, $24.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date.

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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.

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January 15, 2005