Masthead created by Good & Associates
February Release Calendar
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
October 2006 Releases
- February 6
Flags of Our Fathers
It is the most memorable photograph of World War II, among the greatest pictures ever taken. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for photography and one of the most-reproduced images in the history of photography, the
picture has inspired postage stamps, posters, the covers of countless magazines and newspapers, and even the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima," a picture taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal on
February 23, 1945 depicts five Marines and one Navy Corpsman raising the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi. The image served as a counterpoint for one of the most vicious battles of the war: the fight to take Iwo Jima, a desolate island of black sand barely eight square
miles that would prove a tipping point in the Pacific campaign. Lasting more than a month, the fight was a bloody, drawn-out conflict that might have turned the American public against the war entirely, had it not been for the photo, which was taken and published five
days into the battle. The photograph made heroes of the men in the picture as the three surviving flag-raisers were returned to the U.S. and made into props in the government's Seventh War Bond Tour. Uncomfortable with their new celebrity, the flag-raisers considered
the real heroes to be the men who died on Iwo Jima; still, the American public held them up as the best America had to offer, the supermen who conquered the Japanese ... and then, just as quickly as it had arrived, the glory faded. For two of the surviving flag-raisers,
life became a series of compromises and disappointments; for the third, happiness came only by shutting off his war experiences and rarely speaking of them ever again.
"Flags of Our Fathers" is a human drama of friendship and love, sacrifice and manipulation, set against the violent conflict of the battle of Iwo Jima. Two-time Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood focuses equally on the war and home, crosscutting between
the viciousness of the battle and the manufactured propaganda campaign and careful manipulation of the image that followed -- issues that remain prevalent today. As "Flags of Our Fathers" shows how the photograph became the very beginning of celebrity worship, the
film questions our need to create and celebrate heroes, sometimes at a cost.
Vitals: Director: Clint Eastwood. Stars: Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach, Paul Walker, Jamie Bell, Barry Pepper, John Benjamin Hickey. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 132 min., War
Drama, Box office gross: $33.574 million, Paramount/DreamWorks.
Grudge 2, The
Sequel explores the dark secrets of the grudge when a curse that was once trapped in an abandoned, burned-down house escapes and quickly spreads to anyone who encounters it. Aubrey Davis (Amber Tamblyn) discovers from
her bedridden mother that her sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is in a hospital in Japan and under investigation for the death of her boyfriend. Her mother is too ill to make the trip to Tokyo and asks Aubrey to bring her sister home. Shortly after Aubrey arrives in
Tokyo, reporter and photographer Eason (Edison Chen), seeks her out and warns her that Karen is in the thrall of an unseen and dangerous curse. Aubrey joins forces with Eason to discover the truth and ultimately becomes exposed to the same curse that afflicted her
sister. In a parallel plotline, student Allison (Arielle Kebbel), is attending an international school in Tokyo and is desperately trying to fit in with the school's popular crowd. She's willing to do anything they ask -- even if it means exploring a mysterious burned-down
house, which is the site of several unexplained murders and strange disappearances, including that of Karen's boyfriend. Upon entering the house, Allison is unknowingly exposed to the curse. She carries it back to the states and into her apartment building where her
neighbors, including Trish (Jennifer Beals), are one by one infected by the malevolent curse known as "The Grudge."
Vitals: Director: Takashi Shimizu. Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Joanna Cassidy, Edison Chen, Jennifer Beals. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 102 min., Horror,
Box office gross: $39.143 million, Sony.
Critically acclaimed account of the strange demise of actor George Reeves, known to a generation of Americans as television's Superman. The price of celebrity is viewed in a stark light in this compelling retelling of Tinsel
Town's most infamous real-life mystery -- set against the glamour and corruption of 1950s Hollywood. Low-rent private detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) is hired to investigate the death of Hollywood striver George Reeves (Ben Affleck). Haunted by his own success
and unable to shed the superhero image created by his popular television show, Reeves is found dead, apparently by his own hand. As Simo probes the circumstances surrounding the actor's death, he finds tantalizing suggestions of foul play involving Reeves' fiancee,
his wealthy lover and her movie mogul husband -- and puts himself at risk.
Vitals: Director: Allen Coulter. Stars: Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Lois Smith, Robin Tunney. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 126 min., Drama, Box office gross: $14.417
Running With Scissors
At once a blistering comedy and a deeply moving human drama, "Running With Scissors" is the mesmerizing tale of how a young man survived a nightmare childhood -- while keeping his sense of humor and his sense of
forgiveness intact. The film is writer-director Ryan Murphy's interpretation of Augusten Burrough's personal memoir of a warped, out-of-control, 70s-era coming of age. It's a wild story about the strange power of families, the wonderment of childhood, the madness of
adulthood and the revelation of finding your way in spite of it all. The movie begins in 1971 as the neatness-obsessed but sharply observant 6 year-old Augusten (Joseph Cross) finds himself trapped between his troubled parents: his mother Deirdre (Annette Bening), an
unpublished, not to mention unstable, confessional poet with delusions of being hugely famous, and his father Norman (Alec Baldwin), an alcoholic math professor who long ago gave up trying to solve the riddle of his wife's problems or his son's precocious behavior.
When the Burroughs' marriage goes to pieces, Deirdre signs up for therapy with the eccentric Dr. Finch (Brian Cox), a highly unconventional shrink who takes the family under his wing. From the beginning, Augusten is suspicious of Dr. Finch's peculiarities -- his
office includes, among other oddities, a Masturbatorium where the good doctor goes to relax in the middle of tedious sessions. But when Dr. Finch fails to save the Burroughs' marriage, Augusten's life takes an even more wrenching turn. While Deirdre is packed off to
a motel to continue her Valium-aided therapy, Augusten is sent to live in the Finch family home -- a kind of Brady-Bunch-gone-bad world where dog kibble is a snack, rules are unheard of, the Christmas tree stays up all year round, Valium is consumed like candy, and
if things get dull, an electroshock-therapy machine provides entertainment. As Augusten unwittingly becomes part of the family -- which also includes the shellshocked Mrs. Finch (Jill Clayburgh), "Bible-dipping" daughter Hope (Gwyneth Paltrow), disco-rebel daughter
Natalie (Evan Rachel Wood) and Neil Bookman (Joseph Fiennes), Finch's disturbed, 35 year-old "adopted" son who lives in a shed at the back of the house -- he will descend into a kind of surreal childhood hell. Yet, he also finds optimism among the horror, hilarity in
the insanity and even love amid the dilapidated ruins as he never loses his spirit or his resilience. Vitals: Director: Ryan Murphy. Stars: Annete Bening, Joseph Cross, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jill Clayburgh, Brian
Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Evan Rachel Wood, Alec Baldwin, Gabrielle Union, Vanessa Redgrave, Kristin Chenoweth, Patrick Wilson. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 121 min., Black Comedy-Drama, Box office gross: $6.754 million, Sony.
In this contemporary adaptation of Mary O'Hara's novel "My Friend Flicka," 16-year-old Katy McLaughlin (Alison Lohman) dreams of fulfilling her family legacy by working on her father's ranch in modern-day Wyoming. But Katy's father wants more for her,
insisting that she go to college. Katy finds a wild mustang, which she names Flicka, and sets out to make her a riding horse. But Flicka and Katy are more alike than she could have imagined. Like Katy, Flicka has a disdain for authority and is not about to give up her
freedom without a fight.
Vitals: Director: Michael Mayer. Stars: Tim McGraw, Maria Bello, Alison Lohman, Ryan Kwanten, Daniel Pino. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 94 min., Family Drama, Box office gross: $20.780
Trust the Man
A romantic comedy that explores modern relationships -- in all their humor, tragedies, imperfections and triumphs. Follows the romantic escapades of two New York couples: successful actress Rebecca (Julianne Moore) and her
Mr. Mom husband, Tom (David Duchovny); and her slacker younger brother Tobey (Billy Crudup) and his aspiring novelist girlfriend, Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Tom and Rebecca have two kids, a virtually nonexistent sex life, and a marriage counselor (Garry
Shandling) who is too baffled by the pair to offer any real help. Tobey has been dating the exasperated Elaine for eight years but can't seem to commit to getting married and having a family. The status quo is given a serious jolt; however, when Tom is drawn into an
affair with a mother at his son's school and Elaine finally gives Tobey an ultimatum, sending him into a fling with a sexy (and married) former college flame (Eva Mendes). When the fates of both couples culminate in an uproarious and very public finale on the stage at
Lincoln Center, both Rebecca and Elaine will have to decide -- do they trust the man? Vitals: Director: Bart Freundlich. Stars: Julianne Moore, David Duchovny, Billy Crudup, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eva
Mendes, Ellen Barkin, James LeGros, Garry Shandling. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 99 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $1.530 million, Fox.
Boynton Beach Club, The
A comic celebration of love in the sunset years, based on the experiences of director Susan Seidelman's mother, Florence (who co-wrote the script), at an "active adult community." Recently widowed Marilyn (Brenda
Vaccaro), still reeling over the sudden death of her husband, finds an unexpected new circle of friends when she accepts an invitation to join The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club. While not ready to embark on a relationship herself, she is amused to realize that many of
her contemporaries are actively looking for love. Lois (Dyan Cannon) is being courted by a younger man (Michael Nouri), while Harry (Joseph Bologna) tries Internet dating and encourages his friend Jack (Len Cariou) to pursue a romance with the mysterious Sandy
(Sally Kellerman). The Boynton Beach Club proves that 60 IS the new 40 and you're never too old to fall in love!
Vitals: Director: Susan Seidelman. Stars: Joseph Bologna, Dyan Cannon , Len Cariou, Sally Kellerman, Michael Nouri, Brenda Vaccaro, Renee Taylor. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min.,
Romantic Comedy, Box office gross: $3.053 million, Sony.
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles
Takada, a Japanese fisherman, has been estranged from his son for many years, but when the son is diagnosed with terminal cancer his daughter-in-law, Rie, summons him to the hospital. When his son
refuses to see him, Rie gives him a video tape about the work his son was doing on a documentary film in a remote region of China's Yunnan province. Still troubled by the relationship, Takada decided to complete his son's work in part to develop an understanding of
his son, and in part to do something for him. Once in China, a series of obstacles and relationships bring him unexpectedly closer to both an understanding of himself and of his son. In Chinese and Japanese with English subtitles.
Vitals: Director: Zhang Yimou. Stars: Ken Takakura, Shinobu Terajima, Kiichi Nakai. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 107 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.216 million, Sony.
- February 13
Based on the 2002 Chinese-language Hong Kong gangster film "Infernal Affairs" ("Wu jian dao"), "The Departed" is set in South Boston where the Massachusetts State Police Department is waging an all-out war to take down the city's top organized crime ring. The key
is to end the reign of powerful mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) from the inside. A young rookie, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), who grew up in South Boston, is assigned to infiltrate the mob run by Costello. While Billy is working to gain Costello's
trust, another young cop who came up from the streets of "Southie," Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), is quickly rising through the ranks of the state police. Earning a spot in the Special Investigations Unit, Colin is among a handful of elite officers whose mission is to
bring Costello down. But what his superiors don't know is that Colin is working for Costello, keeping the crime boss one step ahead of the police. Each man becomes deeply consumed by his double life, gathering information about the plans and counter-plans of the
operation he has penetrated. But when it becomes clear to both the gangsters and the police that they have a mole in their midst, Billy and Colin find themselves in constant danger of being caught and exposed to the enemy -- and each must race to uncover the identity of
the other man in time to save himself.
Vitals: Director: Martin Scorsese. Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Corrigan.
2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 151 min., Crime Thriller, Box office gross: $121.732 million, Warner.
Often maligned, passionately debated and ultimately a misunderstood young woman, Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst), through director Sofia Coppola's vision, emerges neither as staid historical villain nor divine idol -- but as
a confused and lonely teenage outsider thrust against her will into a decadent and scandal-plagued world on the eve of disaster.
Coppola brings to the screen a fresh interpretation of the life of France's legendary teenage queen. Betrothed to King Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman), the naive Marie Antoinette, at the age of 14, is thrown into an opulent French court steeped in conspiracy and scandal.
Alone, without guidance, and adrift in a dangerous world, the young Marie Antoinette rebels against the isolated atmosphere at Versailles and, in the process, becomes France's most misunderstood monarch. She's merely a pawn in an arranged marriage meant to solidify
the harmony between two nations. Her teenage husband, the Dauphin Louis, is heir to the French throne. But Marie Antoinette is ill prepared to be the kind of ruler for whom the French populace yearns. Beneath her finery, she's a sheltered, frightened and confused
young woman, surrounded by vicious detractors, insincere flatterers, puppet masters and gossips. Trapped by the conventions of her station in life, Marie Antoinette must find a way to fit into the complex and treacherous world of Versailles. Adding to her woes is the
indifference of Louis. Their marriage goes unconsummated for an astonishing seven years. The awkward future king proves to be a disaster as a lover, sparking grave concerns (and relentless gossip) that Marie Antoinette will never produce an heir. Overwhelmed and
distraught, Marie Antoinette seeks refuge in the decadence of the French aristocracy and in a secret love affair with the alluring Swedish Count Fersen (Jamie Dornan). Her indiscretions are soon the talk of France. Whether she is being idealized for her impeccable style
or vilified for being unforgivably out of touch with her subjects, reaction to Marie Antoinette is always extreme. Yet, slowly, as she matures, she begins to find her way as a wife, mother and Queen -- only to be tragically swept up in a bloody revolution that alters
France forever. A dreamy, modernist take, backed with a pop music soundtrack.
Vitals: Director: Sofia Coppola. Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn, Molly Shannon, Judy Davis, Steve Coogan, Asia Argento, Marianne Faithful, Aurore Clement, Shirley Henderson.
2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 123 min., Drama, Box office gross: $15.962 million, Sony.
School for Scoundrels
In this film loosely based on the 1960 British comedy, a shy young meter reader (Jon Heder) enrolls in a class to help build his confidence so he can win over his dream girl (Jacinda Barrett), only to find out that the
teacher of the class (Billy Bob Thornton) also has his eyes on her. Jon Heder plays Roger, a beleaguered New York City meter person who is plagued by anxiety and low self-esteem. In order to overcome his feelings of inadequacy, Roger enrolls in a top-secret
confidence-building class taught by the suavely underhanded Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton). Aided by his assistant, Lesher (Michael Clarke Duncan), Dr. P uses unorthodox, often dangerous methods, but he guarantees results: Employ his techniques and you will unleash
your inner lion. Surrounded by a band of misfit classmates -- Walsh (Matt Walsh), who's dying to move out of mother's basement; Diego (Horatio Sanz), a punching bag for his hen-pecker of a wife; and Eli (Todd Louiso), a shy guy just looking for female
companionship -- Roger's confidence grows and he makes his way to the head of the class, even finding the courage to ask out his longtime crush, Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). But Roger quickly discovers that star students have a way of catapulting Dr. P's competitive side
into high gear. Soon enough, the teacher sets out to infiltrate and destroy Roger's personal and professional life. Nothing is off limits for Dr. P, not even the object of Roger's affection. In order to show Amanda Dr. P's true colors, Roger must rally his new friends and
find a way to beat the master at his own game.
Vitals: Director: Todd Phillips. Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Heder, Jacinda Barrett, Michael Clarke Duncan, Sarah Silverman, David Cross, Horatio Sanz, Matt Walsh. 2006, CC, MPAA rating:
PG-13, 101 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $17.803 million, Dimension/Genius Products.
Erotic and suspenseful tale of sex, lies and betrayal stars Elisha Cuthbert as Nina Deer, a pretty cheerleader whose quiet Connecticut town life is turned upside-down by the arrival of her parents' godchild Dot (Camilla Belle), a deaf
and mute girl recently orphaned by her father's death. Although Nina looks upon Dot's deafness with disdain, her family and friends develop a strange attraction to her, and Dot soon becomes a sounding board for everyone's heaviest burdens. But when Nina becomes
convinced that Dot is hiding a few secrets of her own, she decides to confess a family secret so disturbing it can't be ignored.
Vitals: Director: Jamie Babbit. Stars: Elisha Cuthbert, Camilla Belle, Martin Donovan, Edie Falco. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 96 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.381 million, Sony.
Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) struggles every day to reach the middle-school students he teaches in a rough section of Brooklyn. His unconventional methods seem to work, but they also draw the ire of his principal. Outside the
classroom, Dunne's alcoholism and drug use continue to escalate, and the walls between his two lives crumble when one of his students, Drey (Shareeka Epps), discovers his secret. As the two develop an unlikely friendship, Dan warily dates a fellow teacher and Drey
navigates life with a deadbeat father, a jailed brother, and Frank (Anthony Mackie), a drug dealer with a troubling connection to her family.
Vitals: Director: Ryan Fleck. Stars: Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie, Monique Curnen. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 106 min., Drama, Box office gross: $2.687 million, Sony.
Zoom: Academy for Superheroes
Jack Shepard a.k.a. "Captain Zoom" (Tim Allen) is an out-of-shape auto shop owner, far removed from the man who once protected the world's freedom. Reluctantly called back into action by the government,
Jack is charged with turning a rag-tag group of kids with special powers into superheroes to save the world from certain destruction. Tucker (Spencer Breslin), Cindy (Ryan Newman), Summer (Kate Mara) and Dylan (Michael Cassidy) each possess a unique and special
power that sets them apart from everybody else their age. They also share something else -- a yearning to be normal. Will they learn to control and harness their powers in time to save the world ... and be home for dinner? Based on Jason Lethcoe's popular graphic novel
"Amazing Adventures From Zoom's Academy."
Vitals: Director: Peter Hewitt. Stars: Tim Allen, Courteney Cox, Chevy Chase, Spencer Breslin, Kevin Zegers, Kate Mara, Michael Cassidy, Ryan Newman, Rip Torn. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG,
83 min., Family, Box office gross: $11.631 million, Sony.
- February 20
Shot on three continents and in four languages, "Babel" is a suspense-filled drama that explores with shattering realism the nature of the barriers that seem to separate humankind. The film evokes the ancient concept of Babel and questions
its modern day implications: the mistaken identities, misunderstandings and missed chances for communication that, though often unseen, drive our contemporary lives. A tragic incident involving an American couple in Morocco sparks a chain of events for four families
in different countries throughout the world. Tied by circumstance but separated by continent, culture and language, each character discovers that it is family that ultimately provides solace. In the remote sands of the Moroccan desert, Armed with a Winchester rifle, two
boys set out to look after their family's herd of goats. In the silent echoes of the desert, they decide to test the rifle ... but the bullet goes farther than they thought it would, detonating a chain of events that will link them, an American tourist couple's frantic struggle to
survive, a nanny illegally crossing into Mexico with two American children and a deaf Japanese teen rebel whose father is sought by the police in Tokyo. Separated by clashing cultures and sprawling distances, each of these four disparate groups of people are nevertheless
hurtling towards a shared destiny of isolation and grief. In the course of just a few days, they will each face the dizzying sensation of becoming profoundly lost -- lost in the desert, lost to the world, lost to themselves -- as they are pushed to the farthest edges of
confusion and fear as well as to the very depths of connection and love.
Vitals: Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Elle Fanning. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 142 min., Drama, Box office gross:
$20.004 million, Paramount.
Set on and beneath the streets of London, "Flushed Away" is the story of Roddy, an upper-crust mouse who is rather rudely evicted from his Kensington flat when he is flushed down into the bustling world found under
London's streets. There he meets Rita, an enterprising scavenger who works the sewers in her faithful boat, the Jammy Dodger. Together they must navigate their way through a busy city filled with dangers for any mouse including terrifying rapids, treacherous
whirlpools and, most of all, the villainous Toad and his hench-rats Spike and Whitey. Though completely out of his element at first, the privileged Roddy finds himself an unlikely hero when he learns that this underground metropolis is in danger from the world above.
Vitals: Director: David Bowers and Sam Fell. Stars: Voices of Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, Shane Richie, Kathy Burke, David Suchet. 2006, CC,
MPAA rating: PG, 90 min., Animated, Box office gross: $61.607 million, DreamWorks.
From acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan ("Memento," "Batman Begins") comes an innovative thriller woven out of the stuff of illusions. In this twisting, turning tale of mystery, two Victorian-era magicians spark a powerful
rivalry that builds into an escalating battle of tricks and an unquenchable thirst to uncover the other's trade secrets. At a time when magicians are idols and celebrities of the highest order, two young magicians set out to carve their own paths to fame. The flashy,
sophisticated Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) is a consummate entertainer, while the rough-edged purist Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) is a creative genius who lacks the panache to showcase his magical ideas. They start out as admiring friends and partners. But when
their biggest trick goes terribly awry, they become enemies for life -- each intent on outdoing and upending the other. Trick by trick, show by show, their ferocious competition builds until it knows no bounds, even using the fantastical new powers of electricity and the
scientific brilliance of Nikola Tesla -- while the lives of everyone around them hang in the balance. Rife with sleight-of-hand shocks and revelations, the film delves into a riveting world where the farthest, darkest edges of faith, trust and the possible are probed.
Vitals: Director: Christopher Nolan. Stars: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Andy Serkis. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13,
128 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $53.002 million, Buena Vista.
For Your Consideration
Christopher Guest's latest satire -- with his by-now-famous ensemble cast -- revolves around three actors shooting a small independent film whose lives are turned upside down when buzz starts that their performances are
awards-worthy. Debut feature director Jay Berman (Guest), steers cast and crew through a typically tumultuous independent film "Home for Purim," an intimate period drama about a Jewish family's turbulent reunion on the occasion of the dying matriarch's favorite
holiday. When Internet-generated rumors begin circulating that three of Purim's stars -- faded luminary Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara), journeyman actor and former hot dog pitchman Victor Allan Miller (Harry Shearer), and ingenue Callie Webb (Parker Posey) --
may be perpetrating Award-worthy performances, a rumble of excitement rattles the cast. Once "Hollywood Now" anchors Chuck Porter (Fred Willard) and Cindy Martin (Jane Lynch) pick up the buzz, Award fever infects the entire production.
Unit publicist Corey Taft (John Michael Higgins), talent agent Morley Orfkin (Eugene Levy), and producer Whitney Taylor Brown (Jennifer Coolidge) all smell the sudden potential for a sleeper hit. As does Sunfish Classics president Martin Gibb (Ricky Gervais), who
suggests some last-minute changes to the film that he feels will broaden its appeal. Meanwhile, "Purim's" screenwriters, Lane Iverson (Michael McKean) and Philip Koontz (Bob Balaban) grow steadily more horrified as they watch the first film adaptation of their work
diverge from their original story. As the hopeful "Purim" team careens toward the end of production and the upcoming Award season, tenuous relationships and brittle dreams play out in unexpected ways.
Vitals: Director: Christopher Guest. Stars: Carrie Aizley, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley, Jr., Jennifer Coolidge, Paul Dooley, Ricky Gervais, Christopher Guest, Rachael Harris, John Michael Higgins, Michael
Hitchcock, Don Lake, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Larry Miller, Christopher Moynihan, Catherine O'Hara, Jim Piddock, Parker Posey, Harry Shearer, Deborah Theaker, Fred Willard, Scott Williamson. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 86
min., Comedy, Box office gross: $5.490million, Warner.
Shut Up & Sing
Chronicles the personal and professional lives of the Dixie Chicks, the best-selling female group in history, from all-American girls and darlings of country music fans to unintentional rebels, vilified for daring to speak out
against a president at the summit of his popularity and on the eve of a much-hyped -- and in retrospect, hyped-up -- war against Iraq. Beginning in early 2003 when the band was singing the national anthem at Super Bowl XXXVII and preparing to launch their
aptly-named "Top of the World" tour, to lead-singer Natalie Maines' infamous comment, and on through to their defiant comeback album, "Taking the Long Way" and the supporting "Accidents and Accusations" tour, the film offers a nakedly honest and emotionally
sincere look at Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, whose passion for their families, their fans, their beliefs and one another never wavers; in spite of death threats, protests, insults, and a chillingly-orchestrated attack on their livelihood. At a time when the
United States is fighting for democracy and freedom in another country, it raises questions about our own right to freedom of speech and the negative consequences it sometimes has.
Vitals: Director: Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 93 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $1.207 million, Weinstein Co./Genius Products.
Man of the Year
What would happen if a popular late-night talk-show host ran for President of the United States -- and won? Acerbic performer Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) has made his career out of skewering politicians and speaking the
mind of an exasperated nation on his talk show. He cracked scathing jokes at a fractured system night after night ... until he came up with a really funny idea: why not run for president? After a flip comment, Dobbs ignites a grassroots movement that puts him on the
ballot. Hot on the campaign trail, he debates elected drones and says exactly what frustrated voters have often thought. Nov. 2nd later, the muckraker wins -- only to learn that a computer voting error gave him the victory. With time ticking on the inaugural clock,
Dobbs has a big decision to make: Should he go back behind the mike or stay in the Oval Office?
Vitals: Director: Barry Levinson. Stars: Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Jeff Goldblum, Lewis Black. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min., Comedy, Box office gross:
$37.442 million, Universal.
The sleepy English hamlet of Little Wallop is about to receive a rude awakening, as the absent-minded Reverend Walter Goodman (Rowan Atkinson), his dissatisfied wife Gloria (Kristin Scott Thomas), and their two children,
Holly and Petey, await the arrival of their new housekeeper, Grace Hawkins (Maggie Smith). Gloria is a woman struggling to cope. Her teenage daughter's a nymphomaniac, her young son's the perennial target for the local bullies, and her marriage to Walter has
long-since dwindled into monotony. It's no wonder she's failing to resist the advances of her handsome, American, lothario of a golf pro, Lance (Patrick Swayze). Enter the charming new housekeeper, the answer to the family's prayers: a sweet, grey-haired old lady with
her own distinctive definition of cleaning house. One by one, the family members find that Grace is able to solve their problems, but they don't realize that her means are leading to a lot of ends and the population of their sleepy hamlet is rapidly diminishing.
Vitals: Director: Niall Johnson. Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Patrick Swayze, Tamsin Egerton, Toby Parkes. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Comedy, Box
office gross: $1.615 million, ThinkFilm.
Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, A
Coming-of-age drama about a boy growing up in Astoria, N.Y., during the 1980s. As his friends end up dead, on drugs or in prison, he comes to believe he has been saved from their fate by various
so-called saints. Writer Dito Montiel's memoir of his childhood in Queens, New York, makes the leap to the big screen, with the author directing. The film moves back and forth between the adult Montiel's (Robert Downey Jr.) emotional return to the neighborhood after
a 15-year gap, and the childhood antics that led to his younger self (Shia LeBouf) fleeing to Los Angeles in 1986. Vitals: Director: Dito Montiel. Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Rosario Dawson, Shia LaBeouf,
Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, Channing Tatum, Eric Roberts. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 98 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.506 million, First Look Pictures.
Story of two young basketball hopefuls, Tech (Anthony Mackie) -- who wants to get his GED -- and Cruise (Wesley Jonathan) -- determined to become a doctor using his basketball scholarship to UCLA pre-med -- who must bring
every move they have to the floor to unseat the reigning underground streetball champions headed by Jewelz. They don't play for a school and they don't cheer for a pro team. They play for the street and for themselves. Their lives change drastically when they both fall
in love with two local girls, Vanessa Lilly and Eboni Jackson.
Vitals: Director: Preston A. Whitmore II. Stars: Anthony Mackie, Wesley Jonathon, Wayne Brady, Eva Pigford, Lil' JJ, Phillip "Hot Sauce" Champion. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min.,
Action, Box office gross: $7.009 million, Sony.
- February 27
Stranger Than Fiction
Wonderful oddball comedy that pushes the
envelope of movie storytelling has Will Ferrell star as Harold Crick, an IRS
Agent whose world is turned upside-down when he begins to hear his life being
chronicled by a narrator only he can hear. The Narrator, Kay Eiffel (Emma
Thompson), a nearly forgotten author of tragic novels, is struggling to complete
her latest book, unaware that her protagonist is alive and uncontrollably guided
by her words. Fiction and reality collide when the bewildered and hilariously
resistant Harold hears the Narrator say that events have been set in motion that
will lead to his imminent death.
One morning, a seemingly average and generally solitary IRS agent Crick begins
to hear a female voice narrating his every action, thought and feeling in
alarmingly precise detail. Harold's carefully controlled life is turned upside
down by this narration only he can hear, and when the voice declares that Harold
Crick is facing imminent death, he realizes he must find out who is writing his
story and persuade her to change the ending. The voice in Harold's head turns
out to be the once celebrated, but now nearly forgotten, novelist Karen "Kay"
Eiffel, who is struggling to find an ending for what might be her best book. Her
only remaining challenge is to figure out a way to kill her main character, but
little does she know that Harold Crick is alive and well and inexplicably aware
of her words and her plans for him. To make matters worse, Kay's publisher has
dispatched a hard-nosed "assistant," Penny Escher (Queen Latifah), to force Kay
to finish her novel and finish off Crick. Desperate to take control of his
destiny and avoid an untimely demise, Harold seeks help from literary professor
Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), who suggests that Harold might be able to change
his fate by turning his story from a tragedy into a comedy. Professor Hilbert
suggests that Harold try to follow one of comedy's most elemental formulas: a
love story between two people who hate each other. His suggestion leads Harold
to initiate an unlikely romance with a defiant audit subject, free-spirited
baker Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal). As Harold experiences true love and true
life for the first time, he becomes convinced that he has escaped his fate, as
his story seems to be taking on all the trappings of a comedy in which he will
not, and cannot, die. But Harold is unaware that in a Karen Eiffel tragedy, the
lead characters always die at exactly the moment when they have the most to live
for. Harold and Kay find themselves in unexplored territory as each must weigh
the value of a single human existence against what might just be an immortal
work of art: a novel about life and death -- and taxes.
Vitals: Director: Marc Forster.
Stars: Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, Emma
Thompson. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 113 min., Comedy, Box office gross:
$40.137 million, Sony.
Joanna Mills (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is a tough young Midwesterner determined to learn the truth behind the increasingly terrifying supernatural visions that have been haunting her. Joanna has made a successful career for herself as
a sales representative for a trucking company. But her private life has been difficult; estranged from her father (Sam Shepard), stalked by an obsessed ex-boyfriend (Adam Scott), and with few friends, Joanna fears that she is losing control. She sees and feels the brutal
murder of a young woman she's never met, at the hands of a heartless killer -- a man who appears to be making Joanna his next target. Determined to fight back, Joanna is guided by her nightmares to the murdered woman's hometown of La Salle, Texas. Once there, she
is drawn to an outsider, Terry (Peter O'Brien), and discovers that some secrets can't be buried; some spirits never die; and that the murder she is trying to solve may be her own.
Vitals: Director: Asif Kapadia. Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kate Beahan, Peter O Brien, Adam Scott, Sam Shepard. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 85 min., Horror, Box office gross: $7.744
Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny
Comedians/musicians Jack Black and Kyle Gass bring their infamous rock duo Tenacious D to the big screen, telling the story of how "The D" became the self-proclaimed greatest band on Earth.
Vitals: Director: Liam Lynch. Stars: Jack Black, Kyle Gass, JR Reed, Roonie James Dio, Meatloaf, Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins, Amy Adams, Dave Grohl, Amy Poehler, Colin Hanks, Paul F. Tompkins, Troy
Gentile. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 93 min., Drama, Box office gross: $8.319 million, New Line.
"Tideland" celebrates the resiliency of childhood and the power of the imagination as only Terry Gilliam, one of our few truly visionary filmmakers working today, could conceive it. Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) is a young girl in a
very unusual situation -- both of her parents are junkies and she is left to her own devices for entertainment. When her mother dies, her father (Jeff Bridges), a rock 'n' roll musician well past his prime, takes her to a remote farm in the country, where she escapes the vast
loneliness of her new home by retreating into a world that exists only in her mind. Here, fireflies have names, bog-men awaken at dusk, and squirrels talk. And the heads of her four dolls -- Mystique, Baby Blonde, Glitter Gal, and Sateen Lips -- long since separated
from their bodies, keep her company. Optimistic and surreal, humorous and suspenseful, filled with extraordinary, hallucinatory images that defy description ... in other words, Terry Gilliam's mind laid bare on the screen.
Vitals: Director: Terry Gilliam. Stars: Jodelle Ferland, Brendan Fletcher, Janet McTeer, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Tilly. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 121 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $.061million,
Good Year, A
London-based investment expert Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) moves to Provence to sell a small vineyard he has inherited from his late uncle. Max reluctantly settles into what ultimately becomes an intoxicating new chapter in his
life, as he comes to realize that life is meant to be savored. Confident and cocky, headstrong and handsome, Max Skinner is a successful London banker who specializes in trading bonds. A financial barracuda on the banks of the Thames, Max devours the competition in
his efforts to conquer the European market. His latest conquest has netted a tidy seven-figure profit, much to the chagrin of his Saville Row-draped rivals. Max's triumph is in perfect keeping with his philosophy: winning isn't everything, it's the only thing! But then
Max receives word from France alerting him to sad news: his elderly Uncle Henry has passed away. Max, Henry's closest blood relative, is the sole beneficiary of his estate, which includes a Provencal chateau and vineyard, La Siroque, where Henry cultivated grapes for
more than 30 years. Max reluctantly begins settling into life at the chateau. He reunites with the chateau's longtime vigneron, Francis Duflot (still tending the vines after three decades), whom Max remembers from his boyhood visits. Max's memories and the passage of
time bring forth emotions and feelings he thought were long lost, and afford him a new appreciation of his late Uncle Henry's philosophy on life -- and on life in Provence: "There's nowhere else in the world where one can keep busy doing so little, yet enjoy it so
Vitals: Director: Ridley Scott. Stars: Albert Finney, Russell Crowe, Freddie Highmore, Rafe Spall, Archie Panjabi. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 114 min., Comedy Drama, Box office gross:
$7.392 million, Fox.
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.
November 2006 Releases
December 2006 Releases
January 2007 Releases
March 2007 Releases
April 2007 Releases
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February 5, 2007