Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the
After almost 30
years, George Lucas ties it all together in what is certainly the most exciting
of the three episodes of the "new" trilogy. After three long years of relentless
fighting, the Clone Wars are nearly at an end. The Jedi Council dispatches Obi-
Wan Kenobi to bring General Grievous, the deadly leader of the Separatist droid
army, to justice. Meanwhile, back on Coruscant, Chancellor Palpatine has grown
in power. His sweeping political changes transform the war-weary Republic into
the mighty Galactic Empire. To his closest ally, Anakin Skywalker, he reveals
the true nature of power and the promised secrets of the Force in an attempt to
lure him to the dark side. "As Revenge of the Sith" opens, the final
catastrophic battles of the Clone Wars are taking place galaxy wide -- including
one in the skies above the city-planet Coruscant, seat of the crumbling Republic
and also home to the Jedi Knights. Chancellor Palpatine has been taken hostage
by the nefarious General Grievous, leader of the droid army -- the mechanized
battle troops of the Separatist Alliance. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and
Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) take on a desperate rescue effort, facing
long odds to free Palpatine and destroy Grievous. The opening battle sets in
motion a series of events that lead up to the moment of truth for Anakin --
whose secret always threatens to catch up with him: He is leading a dual life as
a Jedi Knight while covertly married to the beautiful Senator Padme Amidala
(Natalie Portman). Preying on Anakin's fears of losing Padme, Palpatine reveals
to Anakin another side of the Force, one that is forbidden to him, but one that
promises to teach him powers he never imagined possible. Obi-Wan recognizes
Anakin's inner conflict, and ultimately must face off against his once-promising
Padawan learner in a lightsaber battle on the volcanic planet of Mustafar -- a
battle that basically takes viewers to the beginning of the first "Star Wars" in
Director: George Lucas. Stars: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden
Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Frank Oz, Anthony
Daniels, Christopher Lee, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Silas Carson, Kenny Baker.
2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 140 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross:
$380.262 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Perfect Man, The
Teenager Holly Hamilton (Hilary Duff) is tired of moving every time her single mom Jean (Heather Locklear) has another personal meltdown involving yet another second-rate guy. To distract her mother from her latest bad
choice, Holly conceives the perfect plan for the perfect man ... an imaginary secret admirer who will romance Jean and boost her shaky self-esteem. When the virtual relationship takes off, Holly finds herself having to produce the suitor, borrowing her friend's charming
and handsome Uncle Ben (Chris Noth) as the face behind the e-mails, notes and gifts. Holly must resort to increasingly desperate measures to keep the ruse alive and protect her mom's newfound happiness. But Holly's so diverted by the ever increasing, runaway
deception that she almost misses her own perfect man when he comes along.
Director: Mark Rosman. Stars: Hilary Duff, Heather Locklear, Chris Noth. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 100 min., Romantic comedy, Box office gross: $16.037 million, Universal, $29.98 VHS SRP.
Director Danny Boyle ("28 Days Later," "Trainspotting")
brings to the big screen a heartwarming story of two little boys, faith,
miracles ... and lots of money. Starting anew after the death of their mother,
9-year-old Anthony is ever
practical, while his 7- year-old brother Damian uses imagination, fantasy, and
faith to make sense of his confusing world. When a suitcase full of money falls
out of the sky at Damian's feet, it sets the boys on the adventure of a lifetime
that leads them to realize that true
wealth has nothing to do with money.
Director: Danny Boyle. Stars: Alexander Nathan Etel, Lewis Owen McGibbon, James
Nesbitt, Daisy Donovan, Christopher Fulford, Pearce Quigley, Jane Hogarth.
2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 98 min., Comedy drama, Box office gross: $6.555
No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Aliens of the Deep
Academy Award-winning director James Cameron
combines his talents as a filmmaker with his passion for exploration in all
forms in "Aliens of the Deep." Inspired by concepts from the field of
astrobiology -- the study of
life on other worlds -- Cameron explores the idea that the bizarre creatures
living in the extreme environments found on the ocean
floor might provide a blueprint for what life is like elsewhere in the universe.
The director is joined in the journey by a team of young marine biologists and
NASA researchers who share his interests and excitement as they consider the
correlation between life under
water and the life we may one day find in outer space. "Aliens of the Deep"
presents the dramatic and visually-stunning highlights of a series of
expeditions to deep-ocean hydrothermal vents, where super-heated,
mineral-charged water gives life to some of the strangest
animals on earth -- six-foot tall worms with blood-red plumes, blind white
and an astonishing biomass of white shrimp, all competing to find just
the right location in the flow of near-boiling water. This adventure
brings the audience face to face with what it might be like to travel
far into space and encounter life on other worlds. Originally released in the
Director: James Cameron, Steven Quale. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: G, 47
min., Documentary, Box office gross: $6.350 million, Buena Vista. DVD only.
"Heights" follows five characters who must make life-altering decisions over 24 hours on a fall day in New York City. Isabel (Elizabeth Banks), a photographer, is having second thoughts about her upcoming marriage to Jonathan
(James Marsden), a lawyer. On the same day, Isabel's mother Diana (Glenn Close) learns that her husband has a new lover, and begins to re-think her life choices and her open marriage. Diana and Isabel's paths cross with Alec (Jesse Bradford), a young actor, and with
Peter (John Light), a journalist. As the interrelated stories proceed, the connections between the lives of the five characters begin to reveal themselves and their stories unravel so that Isabel, Jonathan, Diana, Alec, and Peter must choose what kind of lives they will lead
before the sun comes up on the next day.
Director: Chris Terrio. Stars: Chandler Williams, Bess Wohl, Glenn Close, Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Jesse Bradford, Isabella Rossellini, John Light. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 93 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.098 million, Sony, No VHS SRP,
Priced for rental.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Acclaimed director Tim Burton brings his vividly imaginative style to the beloved Roald Dahl classic "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," about eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) and Charlie,
a good-hearted boy from a poor family who lives in the shadow of Wonka's extraordinary factory. Long isolated from his own family, Wonka launches a worldwide contest to select an heir to his candy empire. Five lucky children, including Charlie, draw golden tickets
from Wonka chocolate bars and win a guided tour of the legendary candy-making facility that no outsider has seen in 15 years. Once inside, Charlie is dazzled by one amazing sight after another. Wondrous gleaming contraptions of Wonka's own invention churn, pop
and whistle, producing ever new and different edible delights. Crews of merry Oompa-Loompas mine mountains of fudge beside a frothy chocolate waterfall or ride a translucent, spun-sugar, dragon-headed boat down a chocolate river past crops of twisted candy cane
trees and edible mint-sugar grass. Marshmallow cherry creams grow on shrubs, ripe and sweet. Elsewhere, a hundred trained squirrels on a hundred tiny stools shell nuts for chocolate bars faster than any machine and Wonka himself pilots an impossible glass elevator that
rockets sideways, slantways and every which way you can think of through the vast and fantastic factory. Meanwhile, the other children prove to be a rotten bunch, so consumed with themselves that they scarcely appreciate the wonder of Wonka's creations. One by one,
their greedy, spoiled, mean-spirited or know-it-all personalities lead them into all kinds of trouble that force them off the tour before it's even finished. Only Charlie is truly drawn into Wonka's fantastic world in this astonishing and enduring story.
Director: Tim Burton. Stars: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox, Deep Roy, Christopher Lee, Adam Godley, Franziska Troegner, Annasophia Robb, Julia Winter, Jordan Fry, Philip Wiegratz.
2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 115 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $200.000 million, Warner, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Christmas With the Kranks
Based on the best-selling novel
"Skipping Christmas" by prolific author John Grisham ("The Firm") with a
screenplay by Chris Columbus ("Harry Potter"), "Christmas with the Kranks"
features Tim Allen as Luther Krank, who convinces his wife Nora (Jamie Lee
Curtis) that with their daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) away at college, they
should skip Christmas altogether and bask in the tropical sun on a Caribbean
cruise -- much to the chagrin of their Christmas-crazy neighbors, led by the
dour doyen Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd). When Blair decides at the last minute to
come home for the holidays, Luther and Nora realize -- with their neighbors
"help" that Christmas cheer can always be renewed.
Director: Joe Roth. Stars: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, M. Emmet Walsh,
Elizabeth Franz, Erik Per Sullivan, Cheech Marin, Jake Busey, Tom Poston, Julie
Gonzalo, Rene Lavan, Caroline Rhea, Felicity Huffman. 2004, CC, MPAA rating:
PG, 98 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $73.077 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced
DVD: Day & Date.
Paris, the city of light and love, plays host to this romantic comedy of unexpected complexity and a pervading humanity, which examines the damage that too much kindness can sometimes cause. Daniel Auteuil stars as Antoine, a
maitre d' at an upscale brasserie where he quietly runs the show. His altruism doesn't end at work, however, and on his way through the park to meet his girlfriend, Antoine encounters a man about to take his life. Poised at the end of a rope and perched on a suitcase,
Louis (Jose Garcia) is suicidal over the loss of his girlfriend Blanche (Sandrine Kiberlain). Antoine steps in and saves the man's life, and both will live to regret it, as Antoine is unexpectedly guilty for preventing this tortured man's demise. Antoine is determined to make
his charge happy again, but finding him a place to live, a job, and friendship is not enough to put the life back into Louis, so Antoine seeks out the one woman -- Blanche -- who could end Louis's heartache. Things get complicated as an attraction grows between Blanche
and Antoine, and Louis comes to see Antoine as his rival. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Pierre Salvadori. Stars: Daniel Auteuil, Jose Garcia, Sandrine Kiberlain, Marilyne Canto, Michele Moretti, Garance Clavel, Fabio Zenoni. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 110 min., Romantic comedy, Box office gross: $0.768 million, Paramount, No
VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Matt, a young glaciologist, soars across the vast, silent, icebound immensities of the South Pole as he recalls his love affair with Lisa. They meet at a mobbed rock concert in a vast music hall -- London's Brixton Academy. They are in
bed at night's end. Together, over a period of several months, they pursue a mutual sexual passion whose inevitable stages (familiar to anyone who's ever been in love) unfold in counterpoint to the nine live-concert songs of the story's title, charting the relationship
between sexuality and music and how they are forever intertwined. Features live performances by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Von Bondies, Elbow, Primal Scream, The Dandy Warhols, Super Furry Animals, Franz Ferdinand and Michael Nyman.
Director: Michael Winterbottom. Stars: Kieran O'Brien, Margot Stilley. 2005,
CC, MPAA rating: NR, 69 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.013 million, Tartan Video.
Thriller takes place in the hot and humid village of Babahoyo, Ecuador, where a Miami-based tabloid television reporter and his crew have just arrived to cover the story of the elusive serial killer, dubbed "Monster of Babahoyo." The
police have no clues and the mystery has become an obsession for Manolo Bonilla (John Leguizamo), who's convinced that solving the case and breaking the story will make him a star. Bonilla, with his producer, Marisa (Leonor Watling) and his cameraman, Ivan (Jose
Maria Yazpik) are covering the story for their nightly broadcast, "One Hour With the Truth" -- a show known for carrying the most extreme and sensationalistic stories it can find. Tensions come to a pinnacle when Vinicio Cepeda (Damian Alcazar), a poor traveling
salesman, accidentally runs over a child and an angry mob attacks him. Manolo intervenes and saves Vinicio's life. Vinicio offers Manolo exclusive information about the killer, in exchange for a broadcast news story about his wrongful imprisonment. Manolo accepts the
bargain and finds himself drawn to the dark side he senses in Vinicio, even believing that Vinicio may be the killer himself. How far will Bonilla go to get the story? Where is the line between a journalist revealing the truth and inventing it? The film was an Official
Selection at Sundance Film Festival 2005, Cannes International Film Festival 2004, Toronto International Film Festival 2004 and San Sebastian International Film Festival 2004. In Spanish and English.
Director: Sebastian Cordero. Stars: John Leguizamo, Leonor Watling, Damian Alcazar, Jose Maria Yazpik, Camilo Luzuriaga. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 108 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $0.289 million, Palm Pictures, No VHS SRP, Priced for
A film about love and dysfunction that deftly
weaves together multiple stories to create a sharp, witty look at romance,
family and the sheer unpredictability of life itself. A feast of buried secrets,
missed opportunities and welcome second chances, with a wonderful cast and director (Don Roos, of "The Opposite of Sex").
Director: Don Roos. Stars: Lisa Kudrow, Steve Coogan, Jesse Bradford, Bobby
Cannavale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Ritter, Tom Arnold, David Sutcliffe, Sarah
Clarke, Laura Dern. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 128 min., Romantic comedy, Box
office gross: $1.284 million, Lions Gate, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Devil's Rejects, The
From the mind of musician Rob Zombie comes
the gritty, violent follow-up to Zombie's bizarre cult horror hit "House of 1000
Corpses." The film introduced audiences to the eccentric Firefly family, a group
of viciously brutal, red-neck psychopaths who deal in wholesale murder and
mayhem. Ambushed at their isolated home by Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe) and
a squad of armed men, the Firefly family wakes up one morning with guns blazing
-- yet only Otis (Bill Moseley) and his sister Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) manage
to escape the barrage of bullets unharmed. Hiding out in a backwater motel, the
wanted siblings wait to rendezvous with their errant father, Captain Spaulding
(Sid Haig), killing whomever happens to stand in their way. But as the body
count mounts higher, Sheriff Wydell decides to take the law into his own hands,
paving the way for a depraved and terrifying showdown.
Director: Rob Zombie. Stars: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon, William
Forsythe, Ken Foree, Matthew McGrory, Leslie Easterbrook, Geoffrey Lewis,
Priscilla Barnes. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 101 min., Horror, Box office
gross: $16.901 million, Lions Gate, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Story of a passionate love affair between an American woman (Joan Allen) and a Middle-Eastern man (Simon Abkarian) in which they confront some of the greatest conflicts of our generation -- religious, political and sexual. Sam Neill
plays the betrayed and betraying politician husband and Shirley Henderson a philosophical cleaner who witnesses the trail of dirt and heartbreak the lovers leave behind them, as they embark on a journey that takes them from London and Belfast to Beirut and Havana.
Director: Sally Potter. Stars: Joan Allen, Simon Abkarian, Sam Neill, Shirley Henderson, Sheila Hancock, Samantha Bond. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.353 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) is the king of the urban jungle, the main attraction at New York's Central Park Zoo. He and his best friends Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the Hippo
(Jada Pinkett Smith) have lived their entire lives in blissful captivity, with regular meals provided and an admiring public to adore them. Not content to leave well enough alone, Marty allows his curiosity to get the better of him and, with the help of some prodigious
penguins, makes his escape to explore the world he's been missing. Alex, Melman and Gloria go after him, but before they can go wild in the streets, they are captured, crated and put on a ship to Africa -- to be ultimately set free. When those plotting penguins sabotage
the ship, Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria find themselves washed ashore on the exotic island of Madagascar. Now, these native New Yorkers have to figure out how to survive in the wild and discover the true meaning of the phrase -- It's a jungle out there.
Director: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath. Voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 86 min., Animated, Box office gross: $188.238 million,
DreamWorks, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Skeleton Key, The
Set largely in the dark atmospheric backwoods
just outside of New Orleans, Kate Hudson stars as Caroline, a live-in nurse
hired to care for an elderly woman's (Gene Rowlands) ailing husband (John Hurt)
in their home ... a foreboding and decrepit Gothic mansion in the Louisiana
delta. Intrigued by the enigmatic couple, their mysterious and secretive ways
and their rambling house, Caroline begins to explore the old mansion. Armed with
a skeleton key that unlocks every door, she discovers a hidden attic room that
holds a deadly and terrifying secret. Seemingly forgotten, the room holds an
intriguing mix of antiques, mirrors oddly banished from the rooms below and
artifacts apparently connected to the practice of a strange kind of magic -- a
folk magic that conflicts directly with Caroline's common sense and pragmatic
way of thinking. And yet, small instances of the unexplainable begin to occur.
The mansion -- and the strange couple who inhabit it -- are rife with secrets.
The more Caroline explores, the deeper she is drawn into a darkening mystery in
the attic room at the very heart of the house ... towards a terrifying and
sinister legacy that threatens to take vengeance on anyone who comes to believe
in its power.
Director: Iain Softley. Stars: Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter
Sarsgaard. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 104 min., Horror thriller, Box
office gross: $45.821 million, Universal, $29.99 VHS SRP.
U.S. Navy pilots Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas), Kara Wade (Jessica Biel) and Henry Purcell (Jamie Foxx) are part of a close-knit elite division of test pilots flying highly classified stealth fighter jets, referred to only as Talons. They're the
best of the best and they know it. Then their commanding officer Cpt. George Cummings (Sam Shepard) introduces the team to their new wingman -- an artificial intelligence-based UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), nicknamed EDI. Although Ben is hesitant
about taking the human pilot out of the equation of war, Cummings orders the team to execute their first real mission alongside EDI. To their amazement, EDI proves to be a cracker-jack wingman and they successfully eliminate their target. But on the return trip to their
base aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson, EDI is struck by lightning. The drone's brain expands in ways its creators could never have predicted. Despite Ben and Henry's reservations, Cummings declares EDI ready to rejoin the team in the air. On their next
mission against a nuclear-armed warlord in a remote Chinese province, EDI's seriously compromised circuitry problems only get worse. Ben decides that the risks of the attack far outweigh the benefits to himself, Henry and Kara, (for whom he has developed a romantic
attraction). When he aborts the mission, EDI goes against orders and executes the hit anyway. The danger escalates when EDI decides to execute a top-secret mission that, if successful, could spiral into worldwide nuclear Armageddon. And only Ben can prevent it.
Director: Rob Cohen. Stars: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard, Richard Roxburgh, Joe Morton, Ian Bliss. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 121 min., Action, Box office gross: $31.576 million, Sony, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Jan, Peter and Jule are living out their
rebellious youth. They are united by their passion to change the state of the
world. Jan and Peter become "The Edukators," mysterious perpetrators who
non-violently warn the local rich their "days of plenty are numbered."
Complications follow when vulnerable Jule ends up falling for both young men.
Reckless choices result in danger. An operation gone wrong and what was never
intended to be -- a kidnapping -- brings the three young idealists face-to-face
with the values of the generation in power. In German with English subtitles.
Director: Hans Weingartner. Stars: Daniel Bruhl, Julia Jentsch, Stipe Erceg,
Burghart Klausner, Peer Martiny, Petra Zieser, Laura Schmidt. 2005, CC, MPAA
rating: R, 127 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.145 million, Sony, No VHS SRP,
Priced for rental.
Beat That My Heart Skipped, The
In this follow-up to his
critical smash "Read My Lips", French filmmaker Jacques Audiard has adapted and
updated James Toback's 1978 cult classic, "Fingers," to come up with a moody,
memorable study of a young man torn between a life of crime and classical music.
Romain Duris portrays 28-year-old Tom, who seems destined to follow in his
father's footsteps as a Parisian property shark, a sleazy and sometimes brutal
milieu. But a chance encounter with his late mother's music agent leads him to
believe that he can become, like his mother, a concert pianist. In earnest, he
starts preparing for the audition with a beautiful, young virtuoso pianist who
has just arrived from China. She doesn't speak a word of French; music is their
only exchange. But pressures from the ugly world of his day job soon become more
than he can handle. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Jacques Audiard. Stars: Romain Duris, Niels Arestrup, Jonathan Zaccai,
Gilles Cohen, Linh Dan Pham, Aure Atika, Emmanuelle Devos. 2005, CC, MPAA
rating: NR, 107 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.921 million, Wellspring, No
VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low
Everyone has seen Wal-Mart's lavish television commercials, but have you ever wondered why Wal-Mart spends so much money trying to convince you it cares about your family, your community, and
even its own employees? What is it hiding? "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" takes you behind the glitz and into the real lives of workers and their families, business owners and their communities, in an extraordinary journey that will challenge the way you
think, feel ... and shop.
Director: Robert Greenwald. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 97 min.,
Documentary, The Disinformation Company.
Based on the real-life love affair between celebrated French Author Marguerite Duras -- whose works included novels, plays, screenplays ("Hiroshima Mon Amour"), and experimental films -- and a young man less than half her
age. French director Josee Dayan's third feature is based on the novel by Yann Andrea -- "Cet Amour-La" -- the true story of the passionate love affair between the celebrated French author and Andrea, her much younger muse and apprentice. The legendary Jeanne
Moreau gives a stellar performance as the aging literary lioness, offering special insight into the heart and mind of one of the world's major literary figures. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Josee Dayan. Stars: Jeanne Moreau, Aymeric Demarigny. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 95 min., Drama, New Yorker, $24.95 VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
War of the Worlds
Contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells's seminal classic. Tom Cruise stars as Ray Ferrier, a divorced dockworker and less-than-perfect father. Soon after his ex-wife (Miranda Otto) and her new husband drop off his teenage
son Robbie (Justin Chatwin) and young daughter Rachel (Dakota Fanning) for a rare weekend visit, a strange and powerful lightning storm touches down. Moments later, at an intersection near his house, Ray witnesses an extraordinary event that will change all their
lives forever. A towering three-legged war machine emerges from deep beneath the earth and, before anyone can react, incinerates everything in sight. An ordinary day has suddenly become the most extraordinary event of their lifetimes -- the first strike in a catastrophic
alien attack on Earth. Ray scrambles to get his children away from this merciless new enemy, embarking on a journey that will take them across the ravaged countryside, where they become caught in the desperate tide of refugees fleeing from an extraterrestrial army of
tripods. But no matter where they run, there is no safety, no refuge -- only Ray's unconquerable will to protect the ones he loves. Brutally intense version of Wells' story pulls no punches with its emphasis on death and destruction; the human aspect of the film (Cruise's
acting, for example) leaves much to be desired.
Director: Steven Spielberg. Stars: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto, Tim Robbins, Rick Gonzalez, Yul Vazquez, Lenny Venito, Ann Robinson, Gene Barry. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 116 min., Science Fiction, Box office
gross: $231.806 million, DreamWorks, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Polar Express, The
Kids adventure based on the beloved Caldecott
Medal children's book by Chris Van Allsburg. "The Polar Express" tells the story
of a boy who maintains his belief in Santa Claus despite the teasing of his more
cynical friends. The boy's conviction is rewarded one Christmas Eve when a steam train
appears in front of his house and carries him and his disbelieving friends off
to the North Pole. It's a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the
wonder of life never fades for those
who believe. Combining classic storytelling with cutting-edge filmmaking, "The
Polar Express" debuts a highly advanced version of motion capture technology
developed and tailored to meet Zemeckis' vision and is the first feature ever to
be shot entirely in this format.
Director: Robert Zemeckis. Stars: Tom Hanks, Chris Coppola, Peter Scolari, Eddie
Deezen, Michael Jeter, Steven Tyler, Leslie Harter Zemeckis, Nona Gaye.
2004, CC, MPAA rating: G, 99 min., Animated, Box office gross: $162.753
million, Warner, No
VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
An urban version of the classic TV series with Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps toplining in the Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton roles, respectively. Ralph Kramden is a man of vision, taste, and refinement. Now, if he
can just get the rest of the world to see it. By day, Ralph's an ordinary New York City bus driver. But in his off-hours, he's an innovator, an inventor, an entrepreneur who's just one great idea away from instant wealth. (Unfortunately for Ralph, none of those ideas has
yet panned out.) His best friend (and neighbor) is Ed Norton, who's always up for the latest plan. Wherever Ralph goes, no matter how harebrained the idea, Ed's ready to run down the fire escape and lend a hand. These two dreamers believe they're taking their families
to the next level, but Ralph's wife, Alice (Gabrielle Union), has set her sights on a more practical goal: buying a duplex fixer-upper with Ed and his wife, Trixie (Regina Hall). When Ralph loses their down payment on yet another of his half-baked projects, Alice is at
the end of her rope, giving Ralph just one day to come up with the cash and save their marriage.
Director: John Schultz. Stars: Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Eric Stoltz, Jon Polito, John Leguizamo. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 85 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $12.615 million, Paramount, No VHS SRP, Priced
Peter Watkins' controversial pseudo-documentary
about the Vietnam War, dissent and repression in 1970s America. The film has
virtually been banned since its release in 1971. The year is 1970. The war in
Vietnam is escalating. President Nixon has decided on a secret bombing campaign
in Cambodia. There is massive public protest in the United States and elsewhere.
Nixon declares a state of national emergency, and activates the 1950 Internal
Security Act (the McCarran Act), which authorizes Federal authorities, without
reference to Congress, to detain persons judged to be "a risk to internal
security." In a desert zone in southwestern California, not far from the tents
where a civilian tribunal are passing sentence on Group 638, Group 637 (mostly
university students) find themselves in the Bear Mountain National Punishment
Park, and discover the rules of the "game" they are forced to undergo as part of
the alternative they have chosen in lieu of confinement in a penitentiary. Group
637 has been promised liberty if they evade pursuing law enforcement officers
and reach the American flag posted 53 miles away across the mountains, within
three days. Meanwhile, in the tribunal tent, Group 638 -- assumed guilty before
being tried -- endeavor in vain to argue their case for resisting the war in
Vietnam. While they argue, amidst harassment by the members of the tribunal, the
exhausted Group 637 -- dehydrated by exposure to temperatures of 110 degrees
Fahrenheit -- have voted to split into three subgroups: those for a forced
escape out of the Park, those who have given up, and those who are determined to
reach the flag. "Peter Watkins' (1971) film is a cinema verite masterpiece of
technique. Utilizing non-professional actors, only one camera, and an almost
totally improvised script, he's come up with one of the finest films about
dissension in America that's been made in a long time. It's not perfect, though.
The characters have a nasty habit of becoming caricatures of people we know.
Shadows of Judge Julius Hoffman, Bobby Seale, Pat Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Dick
Gregory -- all can be found in the film." (Rolling Stone, which voted
"Punishment Park" one of the 10 Best Films of 1971). "Punishment Park" was
filmed in August 1970, in the San Bernadino desert, about 100 kms from Los
Angeles. The cast was a mix of mainly non-professional and young professional
actors, mostly from Los Angeles and environs. The members of the tribunal were
all portrayed by citizens of Los Angeles -- a trade union officer, a dentist, a
housewife. Available for the first time in over 25 years in North America.
Director: Peter Watkins. 1971, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 88 min., Drama, New
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Ryu (Shin Ha-kyun), a young factory worker, has recently quit art school in order to look after his sister, who is dying a slow, agonizing death for want of a kidney. When a doctor tells Ryu that he is an
unsuitable donor and that the chances of finding one is slim, Ryu turns to the black market. But the old lady who runs an underground organ ring cheats him, taking both his life savings and his kidney and leaving him without the kidney she promised in exchange.
Ryu's girlfriend, a Raggedy-Ann leftist named Youngmi (Bae Doona), urges Ryu to kidnap the four-year-old daughter of industrialist owner Park Dong-jin (Song Kang-ho). Dong-jin's deep grief quickly turns to rage and he embarks on an implacable quest for
vengeance. At the same time, Ryu goes after the organ traders, knowing that if they had come through, none of the tragic occurrences would ever have happened.
Director: Park Chan-wook. Stars: Bae Doona, Shin Ha-kyun, Song Kang-ho. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: R, 121 min., Thriller, Tartan Asia Extreme.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
A sexy, action-packed thrill ride about a bored married couple who discover that they are enemy assassins. John and Jane Smith (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) are an ordinary suburban couple with an ordinary, lifeless
suburban marriage. But each of them has a secret -- they are actually both legendary assassins working for competing organizations. When the truth comes out, John and Jane end up in each other's cross-hairs: and they discover a new source of excitement in their
marriage when they're hired to assassinate each other ... and that's when the real fun starts. The result is the ultimate action spectacle, as Mr. and Mrs. Smith put their formidable skills to work and their marriage to the ultimate test.
Director: Doug Liman. Stars: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington, Keith. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 120 min., Action comedy, Box office gross: $178.540 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
March of the Penguins
Chronicles the amazing lives of the
emperor penguins and their remarkable journey to find a mate and protect their
offspring against the icy Antarctic blast. An amazing, awe-inspiring, all-age,
true-life tale touched with humor and alive with thrills. Breathtaking
photography captures the transcendent beauty and staggering you-are-there drama.
Every year, thousands of emperor penguins make an astonishing journey to breed
their young. They are birds, but they do not fly. They are aquatic animals, but
this time they will not swim. Instead, they walk -- marching day and night in
single file 70 miles into the darkest, driest and coldest continent on Earth.
These devoted parent penguins, in the face of the fierce polar winter, take
turns guarding their egg and trekking to the ocean in search of food.
Director: Luc Jacquet. Narrated by Morgan Freeman. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: G,
84 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $70.393 million, Warner, No VHS SRP, Priced
It's a secret school in the clouds like none on earth: Sky High, the first and only high school for kids with super-human powers going through crime-fighting puberty. At Sky High, the student body is divided into "Heroes" and
"Sidekicks" instead of jocks and geeks. It's an out-of-this-world yet completely recognizable place where cool gadgetry, rampant bravery and awe inspiring magical skills mix it up with parental battles, peer pressure and dating trouble -- with explosively fun results. This
year's class features some of the best, brightest and most powerfully gifted super-teens ever assembled. Among them is Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) -- the son of the world's most legendary super hero parents, The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream
(Kelly Preston). People expect him to live up to the family name, but the problem is that Will is starting with no superpowers of his own and, worst of all, instead of joining the ranks of the "Hero" class, he finds himself relegated to being a "Sidekick." Now he must
somehow survive his freshman year while dealing with a hilariously overbearing gym coach (Bruce Campbell), a bully with super speed, and a dangerous rebel with a grudge (and the ability to shoot fire from his hands) -- not to mention the usual angst, parental
expectations and girl problems that accompany teenage life. But as he discovers his true strengths, he also learns that it takes loyalty and teamwork to truly become a hero.
Director: Mike Mitchell. Stars: Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston, Michael Angarano, Danielle Panabaker, Steven Strait, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lynda Carter, Bruce Campbell, Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Cloris Leachman. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 100
min., Family, Box office gross: $62.279 million, Walt Disney, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Featuring fierce rivalry, stopwatch suspense, and larger-than-life personalities, this winner of the Documentary Audience Award and a Special Jury Prize for Editing at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival is a film about tough, highly
competitive rugby players. Quadriplegic rugby players. Whether by car wreck, fist fight, gun shot, or rogue bacteria, these men were forced to live life sitting down. In their own version of the full-contact sport, they smash the hell out of each other in custom-made
gladiator-like wheelchairs. And no, they don't wear helmets. From the gyms of middle America to the Olympic arena in Athens, Greece, the film tells the story of a group of world-class athletes unlike any ever shown on screen. In addition to smashing chairs, it will
smash every stereotype you ever had about the disabled. It is a film about family, revenge, honor, sex, and the triumph of love over loss. But most of all, it is a film about standing up, even after your spirit -- and your spine - has been crushed.
Director: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro. 2005, CC, MPAA
rating: R, 86 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $1.473 million, ThinkFilm, No
VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Edgy look at a group of rich teens who, so bored with their privileged existences, they adopt an urban street lifestyle that ultimately results in harrowing tragedy. Two affluent girls (Anne Hathaway and Bijou Phillips) from Los Angeles'
Pacific Palisades suburb, fascinated with hip-hop culture and bored with their everyday lives, are inspired to imitate the "gangsta lifestyle." They quickly run into trouble when they befriend an East L.A. gang, spiraling their lives of luxury into a dark storm of violence
Director: Barbara Kopple. Stars: Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bijou Phillips, Mike Vogel, Freddy Rodriguez, Michael Biehn, Laura San Giacomo, Shiri Appleby, Matt O'Leary, Channing Tatum. 2005, CC, MPAA rating: R, Drama, New Line, No
VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
A critically acclaimed comedy mixing the cubicle comedics of "Office Space" with the terror of the "Twilight Zone." Gregg's first day at his new job starts off strangely, as he discovers his cubicle is covered in a sea of Post-Its left
behind by his predecessor, who he soon discovers did not leave on amicable terms. His co-workers don't seem quite normal either, standing aimlessly or endlessly chatting nonsense on the phone or gossiping by the coffee machine. Grown men cry in this office and as
Gregg tries to stay on top of his new job, fighting a toy car that runs around the office, arguing with a janitor, and trying, repeatedly, to send out an all important fax; things gradually go from bad to worse in this corporate wasteland. As day turns into night, Gregg
begins to realize this is no ordinary workplace. It can be very lethal.
Director: Bilge Ebiri. Stars: Kelly Miller, Scott Janes, Jonathan Uffelman, Tobi-Lyn Byers, Johnny Ray, Hank Prehodka. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 85 min., Black comedy, Vanguard, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Naive, good-hearted fish tank
cleaner, Deuce Bigalow (Rob Schneider) thought his career as a gigolo was over.
But Deuce is seduced back to his unlikely pleasure-for-pay profession when T.J.
Hicks (Eddie Griffin), his former pimp, is implicated in the murders of Europe's
greatest gigolos. Now Deuce must go back "undercover" in order to clear the name
of his good friend. Along the way, he must compete against the powerful European
Union of prosti-dudes (The Man-Whore Society) and court yet another bevy of
unusual female clients. Disgusting film and disgusting ad campaign.
Director: Mike Bigelow. Stars: Rob Schneider, Eddie Griffin, Jeroen Krabbe, Til
Schweiger, Douglas Sills, Carlos Ponce, Charles Keating. 2005, CC, MPAA
rating: R, 83 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $21.877 million, Sony, No 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.