OnVideo Guide to Home Video Releases: October Calendar of Releases

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Guide to Home Video Releases:
October 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.

calendar page Back to Calendar Index.

October 7
  • Down With Love Contemporary riff on the Doris Day/Rock Hudson 1950s/1960s "bedroom" comedies has best-selling feminist author Barbara Novak (Renee Zellweger) becoming the target of dashing playboy Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor). Novak moves to Manhattan and reaps the success of her female- liberating book "Down With Love," garnering the attention of magazine writer Block, who schemes to hook Novak both to expose her "hypocrisy" and to get even with her since her book is wreaking havoc with his love life. He poses as a sexually repressed Texas astronaut and sets out to make her fall in love with him. Loaded with double entendres but weak on comedic punch. Director: Peyton Reed. Stars: Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Sarah Paulson, David Hyde Pierce, Rachel Dratch, Jack Plotnick, Tony Randall. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 102 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $21.000 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • In-Laws, The Remake of the 1979 comedy that starred Peter Falk and Alan Arkin as mismatched future in-laws. Michael Douglas is Steve, who says he's a copier salesman but whose splashy lifestyle, not to mention the agents on his trail and the vial of nuclear material in his pocket, says otherwise -- he's really a CIA agent. Albert Brooks is Jerry, a nerdy podiatrist plunged feet first in Steve's world when Jerry's daughter is set to marry Steve's son. Steve drags Jerry into a host of wild and crazy misadventures involving illegal arms shipments, a stolen sub and Steve's karate-practicing partner Angela (Robin Tunney). It's a crackpot comedy that, surprisingly, doesn't fall behind the shadow of the original. Director: Andrew Fleming. Stars: Michael Douglas, Albert Brooks, Robin Tunney, Ryan Reynolds, Candice Bergen, David Suchet, Lindsay Sloane, Maria Ricossa. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $21.000 million, Warner, $22.98 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Hollywood Homicide In Hollywood, no one is really who they want to be. Veteran cop Joe Galivan (Harrison Ford) and his rookie partner K.C. Calden (Josh Hartnett) are no exception. Between Joe's struggling real estate business and K.C.'s fledgling acting career and yoga instruction, they've got a major murder case to solve. With both Internal Affairs and their main suspect on their tails, Joe and K.C. have to infiltrate the dangerous world of the hip-hop recording industry. Juggling two careers proves to be a comical adventure with Joe and K.C. desperate to stay alive long enough to catch their big break. Director: Ron Shelton. Stars: Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett, Lena Olin, Bruce Greenwood, Isaiah Washington, Lolita Davidovich, Keith David, Dwight Yoakam, Martin Landau, Gladys Knight, Lou Diamond Phillips, Kurupt, Master P. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 116 min., Comedy-Action, Box office gross: $30.000 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Italian Job, The Exciting thriller about a team of crack robbers who rip off a safe in Venice, Italy, are betrayed by one of their own crew, and then seek revenge a year later in Los Angeles. The film starts out with a spectacular heist of $35 million in gold bullion, engineered by Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) and John Bridger (Donald Sutherland), the latter an elder statesman of bank heists, and a crack crew of robbers. Following a great chase sequence through the canals of Venice, the men meet on a road in the Alps to celebrate, only to be double-crossed and gunned down by accomplice Steve (Edward Norton); all escape but Bridger. Fast forward one year to Los Angeles, where Steve is hiding out and slowly but surely selling off the bullion. Croker wants revenge, and reunites his team, along with Stella Bridger, the daughter of the slain John Bridger, to recover their spoils and get even with Steve. An elaborate plan is hatched involving three Mini Coopers and the commandeering of Los Angeles' traffic control system to create one of the biggest traffic jams in history as their cover. Spectacular action and revenge. And oh those Minis. Director: F. Gary Gray. Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Seth Green, Jason Statham, Mos Def, Franky G., Donald Sutherland, Boris Krutonog, Olek Krupa. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 110 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $106.000 million, Paramount, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Willard Remake of the 1971 horror film. With a boss from hell, a dead-end job, an overbearing, ill mother, and no friends, life is one big trap for Willard (Crispin Glover). Things start looking up when he tries to dispose of some rats at his home but instead discovers that he begins to share a powerful bond with them. Co-worker Cathryn (Laura Elena Harring) lends an understanding hand to Willard but she eventually takes a back seat to Socrates, Ben and the rest of the legion of rats that begin to infest the basement of Willard's house. When Willard's world is turned upside-down by tragedy, he turns to the aid of his only friends -- the rapidly growing pack of ravenous, fearsome rats. Director: Glen Morgan. Stars: Crispin Glover, Laura Elena Harring, R. Lee Ermey. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 100 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $6.852 million, New Line, $19.96 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Man Without a Past, The Nominated for an Academy Award (2003 Best Foreign Language Film), this second installment of acclaimed Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's Finland Trilogy is a comic drama that's both totally unique and completely irresistible. When a laborer (Markku Peltola) arrives in Helsinki in search of a job, he gets a brutal surprise beating in a local park by a group of thugs instead. He miraculously survives, but amnesia prevents him from remembering anything, including his name. Soon, a Salvation Army worker (Kati Outinen) develops a shy interest in him, and a sweet, natural romance begins between the two. But just as the man's life begins to make sense again, his past suddenly returns to haunt him. Director: Aki Kaurismaki. Stars: Markku Peltola, Kati Outinen, Annikki Tahti. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 96 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $0.919 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Unconditional Love Offbeat comedy about a Chicago housewife (Kathy Bates) who heads to the United Kingdom for the funeral of her pop star idol after being dumped by her husband (Dan Aykroyd). There she meets the murdered singer's lover (Rupert Everett) and persuades him to return to the States with her to hunt down the killer. Director: P.J. Hogan. Stars: Kathy Bates, Rupert Everett, Lynn Redgrave, Dan Aykroyd, Jonathon Price, Stephanie Beacham, Meredith Eaton. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 122 min., Comedy, New Line, $22.96 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Hard Word, The Meet the Twentyman brothers. Three prisoners about to be released on bail -- Dale (Guy Pearce), Mal (Damien Richardson) and Shane (Joel Edgerton). Hard experience and an unspoken bond of family have made them masters of their craft -- armed robbery. Keeping the wheels of crime turning is their long-time criminal lawyer, Frank Malone (Robert Taylor), who combines flashy arrogance with a complete disregard for the proper process of the law. But success has clearly gone to his head when he begins an affair with Dale's wife, Carol (Rachel Griffiths). Dazzled by her physical attractiveness, Frank has severely underestimated the brain underneath the blonde. The brothers are out on bail, only long enough to do one job before they are back behind bars because of a problem with the "paperwork." Frank gets them out but there's a catch. They must do a really big job if it is to be their last. Dale's festering suspicion about Frank's motives, and a bout with food poisoning, create an impossible situation leading up to a multi-million dollar heist. Up against the wall and with no way out, the boys proceed with the ambitious robbery, despite some dark misgivings. When it all goes wrong, the brothers discover the full extent of Frank's and Carol's treachery as they make a desperate escape from the surrounding havoc. Director: Scott Roberts. Stars: Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Damien Richardson, Joel Edgerton, Robert Taylor. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 102 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $0.422 million, Lions Gate, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Sweet Sixteen Liam's mum, Jean, is in prison but is due to be released in time for his 16th birthday. This time Liam is determined that things will be different. He dreams of a family life he's never had, which means creating a safe haven beyond the reach of lowlife like Jean's boyfriend Stan and his own mean-spirited grandfather. But first he's got to raise the cash -- no mean feat for a skint teenager. It's not long before Liam and his pals' crazy schemes lead them into all sorts of trouble. Finding himself dangerously out of his depth, Liam knows he should walk away. Only this time, he just can't let go. Director: Ken Loach. Stars: Martha Compston, Annmarie Fulton, William Ruane. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 106 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.304 million, Lions Gate, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

October 14
  • Matrix Reloaded, The In the powerful second chapter of the Matrix trilogy, Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) lead the revolt against the Machine Army as it attacks Zion, the last human city on earth, unleashing their arsenal of extraordinary skills and weaponry against the systematic forces of repression and exploitation. In their quest to save the human race from extinction, they gain greater insight into the construct of The Matrix and Neo's pivotal role in the fate of mankind. What is The Matrix? The question is not yet fully answered. And it leads to another: Who created The Matrix? The answers lead to more worlds of bold possibility -- and to a destiny that passes from revelations to Revolutions. Director: The Wachowski Brothers. Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett Smith, Monica Bellucci. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 138 min., Sci Fi, Box office gross: $281.000 million, Warner, $22.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Wrong Turn A throwback to 1970s horror flicks like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "The Hills Have Eyes," this horror film follows a group of six kids who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. After a car accident, the sextet have to venture out in the Appalachians of West Virginia to find help but instead face a family of cannibalistic mountainmen who have become horribly disfigured through generations of in-breeding. Kind of reminds me of the directors of these films. Director: Rob Schmidt. Stars: Jeremy Sisto, Eliza Dushku. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 85 min., Horror, Box office gross: $15.312 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Owning Mahowny Based on Gary Ross' best-selling novel "Stung," "Owning Mahowny" follows the true story of polite, quiet Dan Mahowny, an assistant bank manager with a head for numbers, a knack for making decisions and a devastating appetite for gambling. An unlikely hero who takes on two of the financial institutions everyone loves to hate, the bank and the casino, and, for a brief period, he wins. The most remarkable thing this phenomenal story of $10.2 million of siphoned bank funds, staggering levels of embezzlement, and millions upon millions of dollars funneled through the gambling networks, is that its central character is completely unsuspecting -- he doesn't gamble for material wealth; he isn't interested in the glamorous perks; it never occurs to him to save any of his winnings. He lives for the thrill of the bet, which drives him to incredible lengths of ingenuity and stamina. An Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival and Seattle Film Festival. Director: Richard Kwietniowski. Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver, John Hurt. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $0.726 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental.x DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Anatomy When brilliant, ambitious medical student Paula (Franka Potente of "Run, Lola, Run") is accepted into a prestigious anatomy class taught by a legendary professor she uncovers a chilling conspiracy: a secret medical society that has exited since the Middle Ages-- the Anti-Hippocratics -- thrives on campus and its members perform grisly autopsies on human subjects -- while they're still alive. With her fellow classmates turning up dead, Paula's sleauthing puts her life in jeopardy -- she's scheduled for one of the society's gruesome experiments. A thrilling and frightening cat-and-mouse chase through the bowels of the hospital ratchet up the fear factor. A first-rate thriller that unfortunately didn't get a proper send off by distributor Sony Pictures Classics when it was first released. Winner of the Audience Award for German Film of the Year at the 2000 German Film Festival. In German with English subtitles. Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky. Stars: Franka Potente, Benno Furmann. 2000, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $0.005 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD Special Edition. 3 stars

  • Anatomy 2 Chilling sequel to 2002's equally chilling, acclaimed "Anatomy," with director Stefan Ruzowitzky and star Franka Potente (albeit in a bit part) returning for more horrors set in a Berlin hospital. In the original, a young medical student uncovered a horrible secret medical society that for centuries had experimented on live human subjects. Now everyone's back for more of the same. In the research department of the hospital, the Anti-Hippocratics society is once again operating outside the rules of medical science -- and the laws of nature. This time they're led by a renowned neurosurgeon bent on developing the first synthetic body parts -- at all costs. Assisted by a handpicked team of ambitious medical students, the doctor is close to achieving his ruthless dream -- until an inquisitive young intern discovers the deadly truth about the team's experiments. Potente, who played an intern in the original, returns as a cop going after the Anti-Hippocratics. If you haven't seen the original, Columbia TriStar is releasing it for the first time on DVD day and date with the sequel. Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky. Stars: Franka Potente, Herbert Knaup, Heike Maktsch, August Diehl. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 101 min., Thriller, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Safety of Objects, The IFC low-budget indie with a fine cast takes a look behind the white-washed veneer of four middle class families linked only by their suburban angst. There's Esther (Glenn Close), who has a son in a coma and who becomes obsessed with winning a car in a mall shopping contest; lawyer Jim (Dermot Mulroney), who's sure that his wife (Moira Kelly) is cheating on him and goes off the deep end when he doesn't get a promotion; single mom Annette (Patricia Clarkson) toughing out her divorce; and stuck-at-home but trying to grow mom Helen (Mary Kay Place). Though the families fall apart in their own separate ways, there are some nice linkages in this non-linearally assembled film, but for the most part we've been here before. Director: Rose Troche. Stars: Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney, Patricia Clarkson, Timothy Olyphant, Moira Kelly, Mary Kay Place, Jessica Campbell, Robert Klein, Alex House. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 121 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.319 million, MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Home Room Six students lie dead at the hands of a fellow classmate. In the aftermath of a high school shooting, an unlikely bond is about to form. Alicia (Busy Philips) is a Goth misfit who hates the world and everyone in it, and may know more about the shooting than she's telling. Det. Martin Van Zandt (Victor Garber) is assigned the unenviable task of investigating the crime and finding someone to hold responsible. His attention settles on Alicia, both as the key witness and a possible suspect. Deanna (Erika Christensen), one of the injured, is a classic overachiever, confined to a hospital bed. Brought together by fate, united by secrets, the two girls couldn't be less alike or need each other more. Director: Paul F. Ryan. Stars: Erika Christensen, Victor Garber, Busy Philips, Raphael Sbarge, Holland Taylor. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 127 min., Drama, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Naqoyqatsi Final installment in a brilliant trilogy of cinematic visual concerts -- "Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance" and "Powwaqatsi: Life in Transformation" -- that features everyday images transformed into a new reality. "Naqoyqatsi" focuses its distinctive and haunting musical and visual images on exploring the technical spaces in modern life. With the aid of high-end computer technology, the film expresses how technology has altered our perception of our own society: how we have shifted from a world organized by the principles of nature to one dominated by technology, the synthetic and the virtual. Music by Philip Glass featuring cellist Yo Yo Ma. Director: Godfrey Reggio. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 89 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $0.132 million, Miramax, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Blue Car In a story rife with the ambiguities of love, first-time writer-director Karen Moncrieff presents a starkly haunting and intimate portrait of a young woman whose hunger for true affection leads to a shattering encounter. Eighteen year-old Meg (Agnes Bruckner) has been set adrift ever since her father left their family, driving away in a blue car. Now, in her final year of high school, Meg has finally found a life-line: Her poetry teacher, Mr. Auster (David Strathairn), a man who exposes her raw talent, drives her to succeed, introduces her to the wonders of her imagination, and seems to genuinely care about her in a way that no one else in her life does. At home, Meg must balance her defiant anger at her over-worked, inattentive mother (Margaret Colin) with her valiant struggle to help her troubled younger sister (Regan Arnold). But at school, with Mr. Auster, she enters a whole other world where her deepest feelings come to the surface, where she is safe to tell the truth, where she has a future -- which seems even more exciting when she wins a school poetry contest and the opportunity to compete in the national finals across the country in Florida. But as Meg prepares for the contest, things begin to disintegrate at home, the bottom falls out, and Meg has only one place to turn: Mr. Auster. Director: Karen Moncrieff. Stars: David Strathairn, Margaret Colin, Agnes Bruckner, Frances Fisher, Regan Arnold. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 88 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.464 million, Miramax, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

October 21
  • Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle Available in rated and unrated VHS and DVD editions. The "Angels", three investigative agents (Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu) who work for the Charles Townsend Detective Agency, return for another high-octane series of adventures as they investigate the theft of a database of witness protection profiles, after five of the people on the list are murdered. They're aided by a new Bosley (Bernie Mac), in an adventure which pits them against a "fallen angel" (Demi Moore), their old nemesis, the Thin Man (Glover), and others. The story line is weak, but there's no reason for a story here -- the action is just a backdrop for the jiggle moves of the three main leads. And who can deny that. Director: Joseph McGinty Nichol. Stars: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, Demi Moore, Bernie Mac, Luke Wilson, John Forsythe, Crispin Glover, Justin Theroux, Robert Patrick, John Cleese, Matt Leblanc. Cameos by Bruce Willis, Pink, Jaclyn Smith, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Carrie Fisher, Eve and many others. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 106 min., Action, Box office gross: $100.000 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • 28 Days Later Chilling thriller about ape experiment that goes awry, infecting the population of England with a virus that instantly turns humans into bloodspurting, murderous zombies. When Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma 28 days after a bicycle accident, he finds himself in a deserted London. He wanders the empty streets but soon encounters a church full of zombies intent on making him their next meal. Jim is saved by a pair of zombie hunters who have learned to stay alive, and they eventually join up with others in the struggle to stay alive -- unaware that the worst is yet to come. A thoughtful thriller, slow at times, but great on the special effects. The VHS has an alternate ending while the DVD features two alternate endings. Director: Danny Boyle. Stars: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, Stuart McQuarrie. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 113 min., Horror, Box office gross: $44.000 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • It Runs in the Family The Douglas clan -- Kirk and Michael in their first film together, Kirk's ex-wife Diana, and Michael's son, Cameron, in his acting debut -- come together for this weak comedy about three generations of a dysfunctional family. Patriarch Mitchell (Kirk Douglas) is a retired law firm partner fighting the effects of a stroke and battling with his lawyer son, Alex (Michael Douglas), who is going through a mid-life crisis with his psychologist wife Rebecca (Bernadette Peters) by having a tryst with a married woman (Sarita Choudhury). Meanwhile Alex and Rebecca's oldest son causes the family problems because of his drug-dealing, slacker ways and their youngest son, Eli (Rory Culkin), is a strange youth old beyond his years. They all come together for a family vacation in the hopes of patching together their errant feelings and hostilities, punctuated by fussin,' feudin,' funerals and drug busts. Director: Fred Schepisi. Stars: Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas, Rory Culkin, Cameron Douglas, Diana Douglas, Bernadette Peters, Michelle Monaghen, Sarita Choudhury. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 109 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $7.375 million, MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Respiro Lampedusa is a mediterranean island paradise as mysterious as it is beautiful, a tropical heaven where ocean waves pound deep mysterious caverns into the rocky seaside cliffs and the emerald-blue sky is rivaled only by the crystal-clear water below. Valeria Golino is Grazia, a carefree mother of three who soon becomes the focus of her neighbors' gossip. While her fellow Lampedusians work and live hard -- oblivious to their native paradise -- Grazia alone is courageous enough to blissfully embrace life's treasures. Her wild, sensual and free-spirited behavior reflects the unrivaled beauty of her heavenly seaside village. Will she drive her friends and neighbors crazy or draw them into her topsy-turvy, wonderful world? In Italian with English subtitles. Director: Emanuele Crialese. Stars: Vicenzo Amato, Valeria Golino, Francesco Casisa, Veronica D'Agostino, Filippo Pucillo, Emma Loffredo. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 95 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.958 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • George of the Jungle 2 Direct-to-video sequel. Picks up where the original left off, with George and Ursula living happily ever after ... until George's scheming mother-in-law Beatrice Stanhope decides she's not about to let her daughter and grandson hang around the klutzy King of the Jungle forever. She schemes with Ursula's ex-fiance Lyle to hypnotize Ursula into leaving George -- so they can turn the jungle to mulch. All vines lead to Las Vegas, where George and his animal pals Ape, Shep, Tookie and their brand-new jungle buddy, Rocky the Kangaroo rescue Ursula before swinging back to save the jungle from Lyle's bulldozing baddies. Director: Jordan Kerner. Stars: Christopher Showerman, Julie Benz, Angus T. Jones, Thomas Haden Church, John Cleese. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 91 min., Comedy, Disney, $22.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Amandla Critically acclaimed film tells the incredible story of black South African music and the central role t played in the long battle against apartheid. Unlike any other film made on the subject of apartheid, this film is the first to specifically consider the music that sustained and galvanized black South Africans for more than 40 years. The film focuses on the spiritual dimension of the struggle to break free of apartheid as articulated and embodied in song. Director: Lee Hirsch. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 103 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $0.398 million, Artisan, $19.98 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date.

October 28
  • Hulk, The An artistic comic book outing by director Ang Lee. The film is faithful to the Stan Lee Hulk, following the transformations of Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) into a gigantic CGI Hulk after a dose of gamma radiation alters his genetic structure. Banner/Hulk must come to grips with the opposing forces inside his body, understand the nature of his transformation, outsmart an evil general (Sam Elliott) and a rival researcher (Josh Lucas), all the while trying to win the heart of his estranged girl friend, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly). The directing, acting and effects (especially the Hulk's rampage from the desert lab to San Francisco) are all top-notch. Director: Ang Lee. Stars: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas, Nick Nolte, Paul Kersey, Cara Buono. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 138 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $132.000 million, Universal, $22.98 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Whale Rider Winner of prestigious awards at the Sundance, Toronto, San Francisco, Rotterdam and Seattle film festivals, "Whale Rider" is the radiant story of an exceptional young girl's coming of age, and of a proud Maori (native people of New Zealand) community's struggle to embrace new ways of thinking. The modern-day fable tells the story of Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) -- named after Paikea, the legendary male ancestor who reached what is now New Zealand on the back of a whale -- a fearless 12-year-old girl who dares to challenge the ancient traditions of her people in order to fulfill her destiny despite tremendous opposition from Koro, her grandfather, who is chief of their village. "Whale Rider" reinterprets a 1,000-year-old scared legend belonging to the Maori culture. A pod of whales makes a dramatic third-act appearance in this graceful outing. Director: Niki Caro. Stars: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton, Cliff Curtis, Grant Ross, Mana Taumaunu, Rachel House. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 101 min., Family, Box office gross: $15.049 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Eye, The (Jian gui) Exciting Hong Kong horror-thriller that was a boxoffice smash in Asia. Twenty-year-old Wong Kar Mun (Angelica Lee Sum-Kit) has suffered from blindness for 18 years. After a corneal transplant that restores her eyesight, Mun begins to see eerie black-clad figures that seem to foreshadow sudden deaths. To Mun's disbelief, she discovers that she has inherited the vision of her donor -- the ability to read into the future and see ghosts. In addition, the reflection she sees in the mirror is not her's but that of the original owner of the corneas. In her attempt to come to grips with her new "power," Mun and her therapist travel to Thailand to learn more about the young woman who donated the eyes. The startling psychological/supernatural tale, directed superbly by the Pang Brothers, reminds one of "The Sixth Sense," but on steroids. The film's ending will haunt you for weeks. In Cantonese with English subtitles. Director: Oxide and Danny Pang. Stars: Angelica Lee Sum-Kit, Lawrence Chou, Candy Lo Hau-Yam. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 99 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $0.476 million, Palm Pictures, $24.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Tokyo X Erotica What lasts longer, the time before birth or the time after death? In the 1990s, Kenji dies in a terrorist gas attack. His girlfriend, Haruka, a street prostitute, is killed by a man she meets. In 2002, Kenji and Haruka, who should already be dead, meet again and a new story begins. Erotically tinged drama explores politics, rebirth, God, the essence of the human soul and 21st century angst with layer upon layer of delving visions. A bit obtuse for most tastes, with boring sex scenes meant more to titillate than enlighten. Only for fans of the Japanese erotic genre. Director: Zeze Takahisa. Stars: Ishikawa Yuichi, Sasaki Yumeka. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 80 min., Erotic drama, Eclectic DVD. DVD only.

  • House of Fools Story of a beautiful young Chechen woman named Janna who is one of several inmates living in a psychiatric hospital, insulated from the world and oblivious to the war that wages around them. Seeking solace in the sounds of her accordion and her dreams that bring visits from her "fiance" Bryan Adams, Janna uses these escapes to soothe the mischievous and sometimes violent behavior of her fellow patients. But when the patients awaken one morning to discover that the medical staff has vanished, the problems of the outside world begin to invade their refuge. In Russian with English subtitles. Director: Andrei Konchalovsky. Stars: Bryan Adams, Julia Vysotsky, Sultan Oslamov. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 108 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.057 million, Paramount, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • City of Ghosts Proficient thriller co-written and directed by and starring Matt Dillon. Dillon plays con-man Jimmy who writes bogus insurance policies and gets away with it until a hurricane hits the East Coast and claims come rolling in. Investigated by the FBI, Jimmy splits the country for Southeast Asia to track down his mentor -- who originally set up the scams -- Marvin (James Caan). He finally tracks him down in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, encountering along the way a host of shady characters, including rough European Emile (Gerard Depardieu), pretty archeologist Sophie (Natascha McElhone), friendly cyclo driver Sok (Sereyvuth Kem) and a thieving monkey. Eventually he runs down Marvin, who has duped his Russian mob backers and is in cahoots with an ex-general to open a casino. The dark streets of Phnom Penh provide a fabulous backdrop for beatings, fights and nefarious schemes and makes this noirish thriller worth watching despite its at-times lack of cohesion and character development, Director: Matt Dillon. Stars: Matt Dillon, James Caan, Natascha McElhone, Gerard Depardieu, Sereyvuth Kem, Stellen Skarsgard, Rose Byrne, Shawn Andrews. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 116 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $0.325 million, MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Alien Hunter For the NASA-funded research team stationed at the most desolate reaches of Antarctica, it's another routine day -- until the communications satellite picks up a mysterious signal coming from a strange object lodged several meters beneath the ice. Suspecting it may not be from Earth, the lead scientist immediately places a call to Julian Rome (James Spader), an old friend formerly employed as a cryptologist for the U.S. government's SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program. Catching the next flight to the South Pole, this former "alien hunter" is soon led to the unidentified object, which is still encased in a large block of ice. After constructing a makeshift decoder, Rome quickly cracks the complex mathematical code, only to discover the message is an alien warning. Now it's a terrifying race against time to prevent the total annihilation of the planet. Add in government conspiracy, deadly disease, human betrayal, and a rekindled romance for good measure. Director: Ron Krauss. Stars: James Spader, Leslie Stefanson, Aimee Graham, John Lynch, Carl Lewis. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: R, 92 min., Science Fiction, Box Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary The astonishing true story of Hitler's private secretary coming to terms with working alongside unspeakable evil after remaining silent for nearly 60 years. In 1942, Traudl Junge was an apolitical 22-year-old chosen from a clerical pool to work as one of Adolf Hitler's private secretaries. Working day-in, day-out for Hitler, Junge viewed him as a surrogate father figure, private and polite, nothing like the crazed rhetorician of his speeches. Shielded from the knowledge of Hitler's acts of atrocity and convinced she was in the center of information, she was actually in a blind spot. As the Nazi regime teetered on destruction and Hitler plunged further into madness, Junge witnessed everything up to the final chaotic days in the bunker. Completed just months before Junge's death, "Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary" is a riveting personal history. In German with English subtitles. Director: Andre Heller and Othmar Schmiderer. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 87 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $0.376 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • My Life With Morrissey A strange little movie from Eclectic DVD and Twelve Angry Films. "My Life With Morrissey" (2003), written and directed by Andrew Overtoom, follows the story of an off-kilter career girl whose life unravels after a chance meeting with her idol, British rock singer Morrissey -- the woman spends her off-hours talking to posters and photos of him and scouring places he's been spotted in L.A. The film is based on a true story: A SpongeBob SquarePants production assistant, a recovering Morrissey addict, bumped into her idol at Hollywood's Cat and the Fiddle restaurant one night and told her story over and over the next day at work. Overtoom (animation director of SpongeBob) thought it would make a good film; he eventually cast the PA in the part of the lead and the film uses most of the SpongeBob cast and crew as the actors, including Tom Kenney, the voice of SpongeBob. The movie was filmed on location at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in the SpongeBob offices. It's a great idea for a film but the execution falls far, far short of expectations. Director: Andrew Overtoom. Stars: Jackie Buscarino, Eduardo Costa, Lynn Hobson, Derek Drymon, Alan Smart, Helen Kalafatic, Art Bell, Don Newhouse. 2003, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 80 min., Comedy, Eclectic DVD/Twelve Angry Films. DVD: Only.

  • Christmas Wish, A (The Great Rupert) Live-action, animation Christmas family film originally released as The Great Rupert. A down-on-their luck New York family, lead by Jimmy Durante, move into a ground floor apartment in a building where Rupert the squirrel lives in the attic rafters. Just when it seems that the holiday will come and go without so much as a Christmas tree, Rupert acts as the family's beneficent guardian angel -- not only saving Christmas, but changing their lives forever. Fox has used a new colorization process on the film for VHS, while the DVD features a color version as well as the remastered original version. Director: Irving Pichel. Stars: Jimmy Durante, Terry Moore, Tom Drake. 1950, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 86 min., Family, Fox, $9.98 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date.

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    All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Rotel RDV-1080 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.

January 2004 Releases
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October 20, 2003