OnVideo Guide to Home Video Releases: September Calendar of Releases

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Guide to Home Video Releases:
September Release Calendar

DVD Releases

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

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September 7
  • Ladykillers, The Tom Hanks returns to his comedic roots and teams up for the first time with Academy Award-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen for his first comedy in more than a decade. Unfortunately, this is a disappointing remake of 1955's great "The Ladykillers," starring Alec Guinness. Hanks stars as Goldthwait Higginson Dorr, Ph.D., a charlatan professor who's assembled a gang of so-called "experts" for the heist of the century. The thieves: experts in explosions, tunneling, and muscle, and the critical "inside man." The base of operations: the root cellar of an unsuspecting, church-going little old lady named Mrs. Munson (Irma P. Hall). The ruse: the five need a place to practice their church music. The problem: it quickly becomes evident that Dorr's thieves lack the mental capacity to do the job. The bigger problem: they have all seriously underestimated their upstairs host. When Mrs. Munson stumbles onto their plot and threatens to notify the authorities, the felonious five decide to do her in. After all, how hard can it be to knock off one old lady? Director: Joel and Ethan Coen. Stars: Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons, Tzi Ma, Ryan Hurst. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $38.894 million, Buena Vista, $24.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Kaena: The Prophecy French CG-animated 3-D adventure, direct-to-DVD. On a distant planet, a gigantic coiling plant called Axis, stretches high above the clouds. At its center is a village whose people are in mortal danger because their "tree world" is withering ... its sap is drying up. The people beg their gods for help, but to no avail. Compelled by a mysterious force, Kaena (Kirsten Dunst), a rebellious, high-spirited teenage girl will defy the Grand Priest's supreme authority and her people's ancestral beliefs to take the perilous journey through Axis's deepest roots to discover what dark secrets lie beyond the clouds. Along the path she meets the Selenites, a race led by a cruel Queen (Anjelica Huston) that is also trying to keep the tree from dying, although by enslaving another race. Helped by a mysterious creature from another world, the frightening truth that Kaena will discover at the end of her quest will profoundly change her forever. Director: Chris Delaporte. Voices of Kirsten Dunst, Richard Harris, Anjelica Huston. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 91 min., Animated, Columbia TriStar. DVD: Only.

  • Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... And Spring A critically-acclaimed and exquisitely beautiful film capturing the emotional essence of each season. Divided into five segments with each season representing a stage in a man's life, the film is an understated yet prolific and philosophical work of art that was honored as an Official Selection at numerous international film festivals including Venice, Toronto, Pusan and Sundance. With the extraordinary attention to visual detail, such as using a different animal (dog, rooster, cat, snake) as a motif for each season, writer-director Ki-duk Kim has crafted a totally original yet universal story about the human spirit, moving from Innocence, through Love and Evil, to Enlightenment and finally to Rebirth. Under the vigilant eyes of Old Monk, Child Monk learns a hard lesson about the nature of sorrow when some of his childish games turn cruel. In the intensity and lushness of summer, the monk, now a young man, experiences the power of lust, a desire that will ultimately lead him, as an adult, to dark deeds. With winter, strikingly set on the ice and snow-covered lake, the man atones for his past actions, and spring stars the cycle anew. In Korean with English subtitles. Director: Ki-duk Kim. Stars: Yeong-su Oh, Ki-duk Kim, Young-min Kim, Jae-kyeong Seo. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 102 min., Drama, Box office gross: $2.053 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Brothers in Arms: The Story of the Crew of Patrol Craft Fast 94 A new film by Paul Alexander, the author of "Man of the People: The Life of John McCain." In 2003, before John Kerry was the Democratic presidential candidate, acclaimed author and first-time filmmaker Paul Alexander began filming "Brothers in Arms," which would tell the story of the unique relationship that was formed between six men who endured the horrors of Vietnam together. In the early months of 1969, six men met on a swift boat on the Mekong Delta during some of the worst fighting of the Vietnam War. Five of the men were crewmates -- Tommy, Mike, Gene, David, Del -- and they came from across America, from Boston to Northern California, from South Carolina to Iowa. Their commander was a young Yale graduate named John Kerry. The experiences they shared would change their lives forever. The six men have remained close for the last 35 years. Interviews, photographs and archival footage of the war not only captures the dramatic and true story of what happened to these six brave men in the Mekong Delta, but also recounts what happened after the war and delves into the way each of these honorable men dealt with the experience of fighting in, as David puts it, "a war I discovered we didn't intend to win." In 2002, when Paul Alexander published "Man of the People," he interviewed some of the men with whom McCain had been imprisoned in the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War. Alexander discovered that McCain and the other POWs shared a bond that was as palpable now as it was more than three decades ago. At the same time he was working on an article about John Kerry in Rolling Stone. While researching the piece, he came across the story of Kerry and the crew of PCF 94 and realized they shared the same sort of bond that existed among McCain and his fellow inmates. Kerry has called it "a special, unbreakable bond," formed by men who lived through life-and-death situations on a daily basis, each looking out for the welfare of the other. They are, as they themselves say, "brothers in arms." Director: Paul Alexander. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 68 min., Documentary, First Run Features. DVD: Only.

  • Graveyard of Honor Action director Kinji Fukasaku (co-director of "Tora! Tora! Tora!") created one of his most unusual yakuza films with this highly stylized account of the life of Rikio Ishikawa, a strong-arm man who works for one of Japan's biggest crime families. In one brutal scene after another, Fukasaku documents the downward spiral of a sociopathic thug who will do anything to survive in Japan's decadent underworld of drugs, murder for hire, and prostitution. Graveyard of Honor is a brutal and unsparing look at the modern Japanese yakuza -- men who live without a code of honor. Based on a true story. In Japanese with optional English subtitles. Director: Kinji Fukasaku. Stars: Tetsuya Watari, Tatsuo Umemiya, Yumi Takigawa. 1976, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 93 min., Action-adventure, Home Vision Entertainment. DVD: Only.

  • Street Mobster In the tradition of Takeshi Kitano, Sergio Leone, and George Romero, Japanese action director Kinji Fukasaku (co-director of "Tora! Tora! Tora!") brings to life the story of a violent killer who will stop at nothing to satisfy his lust for blood. Released from prison, gangster Isamu Okita plans to start his own gang and begins a reign of terror using beatings, prostitution, stabbings, and murders to fight his way to the top of the gangland world. "Street Mobster" is a look into the dark realm of Japan's criminal underworld, where anything can be had for a price. In Japanese with optional English subtitles. Director: Kinji Fukasaku. Stars: Noburo Ando, Bunta Sugawara. 1972, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 87 min., Action-adventure, Home Vision Entertainment. DVD: Only.

  • Soul Plane After a humiliating and horrific experience on a commercial flight, Nashawn Wade (Kevin Hart) sues and is awarded a $100 million settlement. Determined to make good with his newfound wealth he decides to create the airline of his dreams. With the help of his cousin Muggsy (Method Man), Nashawn creates NWA Airlines, the first full-service carrier designed to cater to the urban traveler. A one-of-a-kind airliner, NWA's metallic purple and chrome-colored plane comes complete with a hot onboard dance club, live DJs and funky music, its own sassy security crew (including Mo'Nique), sexy flight attendants, a bathroom attendant named Johnny (D.L. Hughley), and a first class section where the Cristal flows like the flightpath -- "non-stop." Departing on its maiden voyage out of Los Angeles, NWA flight #O-69 leaves the ground en route to New York City with a full passenger roster and Captain Mack (Snoop Dogg) behind the controls in the tricked-out cockpit. As the onboard party gets more outrageous, the customers get wilder, and chaos reigns throughout the aircraft, Nashawn is forced to land the plane himself and save his airline. With the help of Muggsy and his crew, Nashawn brings the plane down in a climax that gives "flying the friendly skies" a whole new meaning. In R-rated and unrated editions. Director: Jessy Terrero. Stars: Tom Arnold, Kevin Hart, Mo'Nique, D.L. Hughley, Snoop Dogg, Method Man. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R: 86 min., unrated: 92 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $13.922 million, MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Punisher, The Run-of-the-mill revenge flick based on the best-selling Marvel Comics' title. Tom Jane stars as FBI undercover agent Frank Castle, an agent on the edge who always has beat considerable odds. A former Special Forces operative, he is finally moving out of the field and into a desk job -- and a normal life with his wife and son. But when the son of nasty crime lord Howard Saint (John Travolta) is killed during his last undercover assignment, all hell breaks loose for Castle: his entire family is executed in retribution. Left for dead, Castle recuperates and goes on a mission to punish the murderers and destroy Saint's world. Along the way he meets a new, surrogate family, and finds the one thing he least expected: redemption. There's plenty of comic book violence and lapses in reason and continuity here. Stiff performances by all as most of the cast simply "walk" through their roles. By way of background, Marvel's "The Punisher" made his first appearance more than 25 years ago as a supporting character, but proved so popular with readers that he by the 1990's he was starring in as many as three titles a month. In 2000, "The Punisher" reemerged as one of Marvel's highest selling solo books and remains a top seller for the company. Director: Jonathan Hensleigh. Stars: Tom Jane, John Travolta, Will Patton, Roy Scheider, Laura Harring, Ben Foster, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 124 min., Action thriller, Box office gross: $33.682 million, Lions Gate, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • United States of Leland, The After committing a chilling crime that shocks the community, 15-year-old Leland Fitzgerald (Ryan Gosling) is sent to juvenile hall where he meets Pearl Madison (Don Cheadle), a teacher and aspiring writer who dreams of making Leland's compelling story into a book. As Pearl digs deeper into Leland's life and the people caught up in it -- his mother (Lena Olin), his famous writer-father (Kevin Spacey), and his troubled girlfriend (Jena Malone) -- he uncovers Leland's disturbing motive. Then the tables turn when Leland forces Pearl to examine his own morally questionable behavior. Director: Matthew Ryan Hoge. Stars: Don Cheadle, Ryan Gosling, Chris Klein, Jena Malone, Lena Olin, Kevin Spacey, Michelle Williams. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Suspense, Box office gross: $0.343 million, Paramount, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

September 14
  • Man on Fire A wave of kidnappings has swept through Mexico, feeding a growing sense of panic among its wealthier citizens, especially parents. In one six-day period, there are 24 abductions, leading many to hire bodyguards for their children. Into this world enters John Creasy (Denzel Washington), a burned-out ex-CIA operative/assassin who has given up on life. Creasy's friend Rayburn (Christopher Walken) brings him to Mexico City to be a bodyguard to nine-year-old Pita Ramos (Dakota Fanning), daughter of industrialist Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) and his wife Lisa (Radha Mitchell). Creasy is not interested in being a bodyguard, especially to a youngster, but for lack of something better to do, he accepts the assignment. Creasy barely tolerates the precocious child and her pestering questions about him and his life. But slowly, she chips away at his seemingly impenetrable exterior, his defenses drop, and he opens up to her. Creasy's new-found purpose in life is shattered when Pita is kidnapped. Despite being mortally wounded during the kidnapping, Creasy is "a man on fire," as he vows to kill anyone involved in or profiting from the kidnapping. And no one can stop him. A straight-ahead actioner that grabs you by the throat and sucks you into its revenge scenario, then twists and turns you around with a variety of plot surprises. Washington plays his avenging-angel role with a thankfully heroic stoicism (no smirking retribution here). The gorgeously hued images of Mexico combined with hyper-realistic editing and jerky camera movements convincingly convey a once beautiful and exotic world horribly contaminated by the evil of money. A visual tour-de-force for Scott. Director: Tony Scott. Stars: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Marc Anthony, Radha Mitchell, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Giannini, Rachel Ticotin, Mickey Rourke. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 146 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $77.001 million, Fox, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed Scooby and the gang lose their cool -- and their stellar reputation -- when an anonymous masked villain wreaks mayhem on the city of Coolsville with a monster machine that re-creates classic Mystery Inc. foes like The Pterodactyl Ghost, The Black Knight Ghost, Captain Cutler's Ghost and The 10,000 Volt Ghost. Under pressure from relentless reporter Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone) and the terrified citizens of Coolsville, the gang launches an investigation into the mysterious monster outbreak that leaves Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby questioning their roles in Mystery Inc. The ever-ravenous duo, determined to prove they're great detectives, don a series of far-out disguises in their search for clues. All signs point to Jeremiah "Old Man" Wickles (Peter Boyle), the former Black Knight Ghost who was once unmasked by the gang and thrown in jail. Did the creepy wannabe launch the monstrous attack on Coolsville in a diabolical quest for revenge? Meanwhile, brainy Velma (Linda Cardellini) becomes smitten with another key suspect, Coolsonian Criminology Museum curator Patrick Wisely (Seth Green), as macho leader Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and image-conscious Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) attempt to determine the identity of the Evil Masked Figure whose monster army is wreaking havoc on Coolsville. Director: Raja Gosnell. Stars: Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Seth Green, Peter Boyle, Tim Blake Nelson, Alicia Silverstone. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 88 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $82.247 million, Warner, $22.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Home on the Range Delightful animated adventure follows the exploits of three cows, a karate-kicking stallion and a colorful corral of critters as they try to save their "Patch of Heaven" dairy farm from the meanest, no-good rascal in the wild west. This rootin-tootin adventure features all-new songs from eight-time Academy Award-winner Alan Menken, who's penned the songs from "The Little Mermaid," "Pocahontas" and "Beauty and the Beast." Also features songs by Tim McGraw, k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt and the Beu Sisters. Greedy outlaw Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid), schemes to take possession of the "Patch of Heaven" dairy farm. Three lovable cows -- Grace (Jennifer Tilly), Mrs. Caloway (Judi Dench) and wisecracking Maggie (Rosanne Barr) -- join forces with a karate kicking stallion named Buck (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and a colorful corral of critters to save the farm. Braving bad men and the rugged Western landscape, the bovine beauties and their wacky team of fellow animals risk their hides and match wits with a mysterious bounty hunter named Rico in a high stakes race to capture Slim and collect the reward money, saving the farm. Great fun for kids of all ages -- and it uses old-fashioned cell animation, too. Director: Will Finn and John Sanford. Stars: Voices of Randy Quaid, Jennifer Tilly, Judi Dench, Rosanne Barr, Cuba Gooding Jr., Steve Buscemi, Estelle Harris. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 76 min., Animated, Box office gross: $48.884 million, Disney, $24.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Baadasssss! How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass The year was 1971 and the hot ticket at the box office was "The French Connection." Little did audiences and the film industry know that in the same year the birth of a new era was about to explode --Independent Black Cinema. The city was Detroit, and a weathered Melvin Van Peebles sat alone in the Grand Circus theatre watching only a few ticket buyers enter where his new film, "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song," -- his follow up to the successful comedy "Watermelon Man" -- was about to play. After months of clawing, scheming and fighting to finish the film he wanted to make, the moment had arrived, and in a virtually empty theatre, Melvin sat with just a few curious onlookers. By the end of the screening, Melvin was alone. No one could have predicted what happened after that momentous end would be the beginning of history. More than 30 years later, history is being fashioned again. Mario Van Peebles, Melvin's son, directs an honest and revealing portrait of his pioneering father. Following in his dad's footsteps, and documenting his exceptional journey towards political defiance through cinema, Mario directs and stars as Melvin, based on the book "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song," written by his father right after making "Sweetback." Mario sharply observes Melvin's struggles to raise money to fund "Sweetback" under the guise of creating a black porno film. Melvin ducked creditors, the unions and had to bail out his camera crew after they were arrested because a white cop decided "a bunch of Negroes and hippies couldn't have come by that camera equipment honestly." Despite death threats and temporarily losing sight in one eye, Melvin managed to whip into shape a rag-tag, multi-racial crew and finish the film. The film had a winning formula -- a hip, empowered black lead and a driving, energetic soundtrack with music from the then up-and-coming band Earth Wind and Fire. Despite the fact that initially only two theatres in the whole United States would play his film, "Sweetback" became the top grossing independent hit of 1971 spawning a decade of similar studio fair -- "Shaft," "Superfly" and "Foxy Brown." Melvin had brought the hood to Hollywood. Director: Mario Van Peebles. Stars: Mario Van Peebles, Joy Bryant, T.K. Carter, Terry Crews, Ossie Davis, David Alan Grier, Nia Long, Paul Rodriguez, Saul Rubinek. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 109 min., Biopic, Box office gross: $0.315 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Jersey Girl A change of pace for director Kevin Smith, who revels in weird, outrageous comedies about social outcasts: "Jersey Girl" is a mild-mannered and at times amusing dramatic comedy about learning to accept the at-times horrific changes that life throws at you -- and making the best of what may seem to be a bad situation. Ollie Trinke (Ben Affleck) is a smooth and successful Manhattan music publicist who seems to have it all. When his perfect life is suddenly, tragically upended -- his wife (Jennifer Lopez in a thankfully brief role) dies during child birth -- Trinke is left as a single father totally unqualified for the role. Trinke snaps during a press conference and insults members of the press as well as up-and-coming star Will Smith and finds his big city life a memory. Out of a job and out of luck, he reluctantly moves in with his father (George Carlin) back home to the New Jersey suburb where he was raised. It is the lowest point in his life. The years pass and with them Ollie's plans for his future. Stuck in a run-of-the-mill job as a city public works employee, he sees no way out and no way back to the life he used to love. But he adores his young daughter Gertie (Raquel Castro), and she loves their life in the 'burbs. To her, Jersey is paradise. While renting Gertie's favorite movie for the zillionth time one day, Ollie meets Maya (Liv Tyler), who challenges his priorities and perspective. He regains some confidence and attempts to re-enter publicity in Manhattan, but realizes he has to choose between the old and the new, and learn that sometimes you have to forget about who you thought you were, accept who you are and acknowledge what makes you happy. There's some nifty explorations of human feelings and yearnings here, but for the most part the pat -- and predictable -- story line had us pushing the fast-forward on the remote. A disappointment for true Smith fans. Director: Kevin Smith. Stars: Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Jason Biggs, George Carlin, Jennifer Lopez, Raquel Castro. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: Pg-13, 102 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $25.083 million, Miramax, $24.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Young Adam Crime thriller about a young drifter, Joe (Ewan McGregor), who finds work on a barge owned by the down-to-earth Les (Peter Mullan) and his enigmatic wife Ella (Tilda Swinton). One afternoon Joe and Les happen upon the corpse of a young woman floating in the water and the questions begin. Accident? Suicide? Murder? As the police investigate the case and a suspect is arrested, it becomes evident that Joe knows more about the drowned woman, Cathie (Emily Mortimer), than he will admit. Meanwhile, against the backdrop of the investigation, an unspoken attraction has developed between Joe and Ella, and claustrophobic tensions evolve between the three of them in the confined space of the barge. Sensual crime thriller inspired by the classic film noirs of the 40s and 50s that takes place post-WWII on the canals between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Director: David Mackenzie. Stars: Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan, Emily Mortimer. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 97 min., Crime thriller, Box office gross: $0.745 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

September 21
  • Coffee and Cigarettes A comic series of 11 short vignettes -- created and directed by Jim Jarmusch beginning in 1986 and continuing through the present -- that build on one another to create a cumulative effect as the characters discuss things as diverse as caffeine popsicles, Paris in the '20s, and the use of nicotine as an insecticide -- all the while sitting around sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes. As Jarmusch delves into the normal pace of our world from an extraordinary angle, he shows just how absorbing the obsessions, joys and addictions of life can be. Filmed in black and white. Director: Jim Jarmusch. Stars: Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Steve Buscemi, Roberto Benigni, Alfred Molina, Steven Wright, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Meg and Jack White of the White Stripes, RZA and GZA of Wu-Tang Clan. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 96 min., Comic vignettes, Box office gross: $1.711 million, MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Mean Girls Fifteen-year-old Cady's (Lindsay Lohan) life changes as she goes from being home-schooled in Africa by her zoologist parents to entering public high school in the States. The law of the jungle takes on a whole new meaning as she falls prey to the psychological warfare and unwritten social rules of teenagers. Forming a friendship with two outcasts, Cady soon finds herself invited to join the "in-crowd," which consists of three girls called the "Plastics." Once Cady discovers that the Plastics are out to get her, she decides to turn the entire school against them, only to find that she has become a mean girl herself. It's an at-times mean and nasty film that may gives young girls some bad ideas. Director: Mark Waters. Stars: Lindsay Lohan, Tina Fey, Rachel McAdams, Tim Meadows. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 96 min., Teen comedy, Box office gross: $83.820 million, Paramount, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • John Cassavetes: Five Films John Cassavetes has been called a genius, a visionary, and the father of independent film. But all this rhetoric threatens to obscure the humanism and generosity of his art. The five films included here represent his self-financed works made outside the studio system of Hollywood, on which he was afforded complete control. While about beatniks, hippies, businessmen, actors, housewives, strippers, club owners, gangsters, and children, all of them are beautiful, emotional testaments to compassion. Cassavetes has often been called an actor's director, but this body of work -- even greater than the sum of its extraordinarily significant parts -- reveals him to be an audience's director. Criterion here provides stunning new transfers of "Shadows," "Faces," A Woman Under the Influence," The Killing of a Chinese Bookie," and "Opening Night," in an eight-disc box set for $124.95. Director: John Cassavetes. The Criterion Collection. DVD: Only. 4 stars

  • Epidemic From controversial director Lars von Trier ("Breaking the Waves," "Dogville," "Dancer in the Dark") comes the bizarre story of a director (played by von Trier himself) and a writer who create a script about a mysterious plague that engulfs Europe, only to find their horrific scenario coming true in real life. Featuring Udo Kier ("Andy Warhol's Frankenstein," "Suspiria," "Armageddon"), "Epidemic" is a dark and original horror film with a twist: Is the epidemic real, or is it only a dark figment of von Trier's imagination? In Danish with optional English subtitles. Director: Lars von Trier. Stars: Lars von Trier, Udo Kier. 1988, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 106 min., Sci Fi Horror, Home Vision Entertainment. DVD: Only.

  • Demon, The Famed director Nomura Yoshitaro ("Castle of Sand," "The Incident") and bestselling Japanese mystery author Seicho Matsumoto combine forces on "The Demon" (Kichiku), a chilling and complex tale of betrayal and murder. A strange relationship develops between a man, his wife, and his mistress, and a young boy becomes the pawn in a dangerous game of passion and intrigue that ends in a shocking climax. Photographed in sumptuous color, "The Demon" will keep the most avid mystery buff guessing as it weaves an unforgettable tale of greed, lust, and obsession. In Japanese with optional English subtitles. Director: Yoshitaro Nomura. Stars: Ken Ogata. 1977, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 110 min., Thriller, Home Vision Entertainment. DVD: Only.

  • Zero Focus From Yoshitaro Nomura, the director of "The Incident" and "Castle of Sand," comes this compelling mystery in which a young woman hides a dark secret from those around her with devastating consequences. Photographed in moody black and white in near documentary style and based on a best-selling novel by Seicho Matsumoto, one of Japan's most famous mystery writers, the film is a brooding tale of intrigue and suspense that will keep you spellbound until the final shocking minutes. Director: Yoshitaro Nomura. Stars: Yoshiko Kuga, Koji Nambara, Hizuru Takachiho. 1961, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 95 min., Thriller, Home Vision Entertainment. DVD: Only.

  • How to Draw a Bunny Ninety-minute documentary on the fascinating life of artist Ray Johnson. The film looks deep into the comical, eye-catching and mysterious world of underground idol Ray Johnson and centers around his puzzling suicide on Friday, January 13, 1995. To many enthusiasts of his works, as well as the general public, his suicide was thought to be Johnson's "last performance." Though Johnson is known by some as "the most famous unknown artist," he has contributed to the art community for almost 50 years and has had his collages displayed worldwide in major museums including the Museum des Geldes, the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art. "How to Draw a Bunny" itself was filmed like a collage and includes art work, home movies and videos, photographs, letters and interviews that create a complete masterpiece when combined. Director: John W. Walter. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 90 min., Documentary, Palm Pictures, under $30 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Carandiru Based on a gripping true story, this is a harrowing and humanistic tale of hope and survival in the notorious, overcrowded prison in the heart of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The film follows the point of view of a doctor who worked in Latin America's largest jail, Sao Paulo's infamous Casa de Detentio, better known as Carandiru. Over 12 years during his social work visits, he hears hundreds of prisoners' stories about love, passion, crime, revenge and friendship that portray a sweeping and varied tapestry full of humor and pathos. The prisoners included Ebony, an honorable thief and respected leader; Highness, a smooth operator with two families to support; Ezequiel, an ex-surfer turned crack addict; Dagger, a brutal killer with God on his side. They were among the prison's elite, the select few who ruled Carandiru by their own codes and laws. A rule that would end in bloodshed and shock the world, culminating in the fateful and tragic massacre in October 1992 when police stormed the facility and brutally murdered 111 unarmed inmates. In Portuguese with English subtitles. Director: Hector Babenco. Stars: Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos, Milton Goncalves, Ivan de Almeida, Ailton Graia. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 145 min., Drama, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

September 28
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Wild comedy in which a man, Joel (Jim Carrey), discovers that his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had her memories of their tumultuous relationship erased by a new psycho-technological process. Out of desperation, he contacts the inventor of the process, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson), to have Clementine removed from his own memory. But as Joel's memories progressively disappear, he begins to rediscover his love for Clementine. From deep within the recesses of his brain, Joel attempts to escape the procedure. As Dr. Mierzwiak and his crew (Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood) chase him through the maze of his memories, it's clear that Joel just can't get Clementine out of his head. Wonderfully disjointed screenplay has the relationship between Joel and Clementine unfold backwards, as his memories slowly are eliminated. But can the destruction of our memories of experiences change what those experiences have made us become? Change-of-pace performances for both Carrey -- who here is quiet and withdrawn -- and Winslet -- who plays a wild, outrageous, impulsive American. All the memory sequences -- with bits and pieces of Joel's past disappearing on the screen -- were done sans special effects. A delightful outing for all involved. Director: Michael Gondry. Stars: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Gerry Robert Byrne, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Adams, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: R, 108 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $34.126 million, Universal, $22.98 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Envy Ben Stiller and Jack Black star as Tim and Nick, best friends, neighbors and co-workers, whose equal footing is suddenly tripped up when one of Nick's harebrained get-rich-quick schemes actually succeeds: Vapoorizer, a spray that literally makes dog poop evaporate into thin air -- to where exactly is anyone's guess. Tim, who had scoffed at Nick's idea and passed on an opportunity to get in on the deal, can only watch as Nick's fortune -- and Tim's own envy -- grow to equally outrageous proportions. When the flames of jealousy are fanned by an oddball drifter (Christopher Walken) who imposes himself into the situation, Tim's life careens wildly out of control ... taking Nick's with it. Director: Barry Levinson. Stars: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Rachel Weisz, Amy Poehler, Christopher Walken. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 99 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $12.181 million, DreamWorks, $15.95 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Alamo, The Action-packed but ultimately boring film that tells the dramatic true story of one of the most momentous battles in American history. A handful of men stand up for what they passionately believed in, and fought for their country against overwhelming odds. In the spring of 1836, in the face of insurmountable odds, fewer than 200 ordinary men who believed in the future of Texas held the fort for 13 days against thousands of Mexican soldiers led by dictator General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, ruler of Mexico. Commanded by three men -- the young, brash Lt. Col. William Travis (Patrick Wilson); the zealous, passionate James Bowie (Jason Patric); and the living legend David Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton) -- the Texans would die for their beliefs, but their deeds at the Alamo would make history as General Sam Houston's (Dennis Quaid) emotional rallying call for Texas independence. Director: John Lee Hancock. Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Dennis Quaid, Jason Patric, Patrick Wilson, Emilio Echevarria. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 136 min., Western, Box office gross: $22.172 million, Buena Vista, $24.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Walking Tall Retired U.S. Special Forces soldier Chris Vaughn (The Rock) has come home to renew old relationships and make a new life for himself. But while Chris was away, his boyhood town wasted away to a dilapidated, crime-ridden shell of itself. His wealthy high school rival, Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough), has closed the once-prosperous lumber mill and has turned the town's resources towards criminal gains. The place Chris grew up is now overrun with crime, drugs, and violence. Enlisting the help of his old pal Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville), Chris gets elected sheriff and vows to shut down Hamilton's operations. His actions endanger his family and threaten his own life, but Chris refuses to back down until his hometown once again feels like home. With Ray as his deputy, Chris sets out to clean up the mess Hamilton has made: he wields a huge stick fashioned from lumber mill pine. The first big screen version of "Walking Tall," starring Joe Don Baker as real-life Tennessee Sheriff Buford Pusser, debuted in 1973 and was a huge grassroots hit. Its two sequels, "Walking Tall Part II" (1975) and "Final Chapter: Walking Tall" (1977), starred Bo Svenson as Sheriff Pusser and were also popular, memorable versions of the lawman's heroic stand against crime in his small, rural Southern town. The Rock here ably fills the shoes of his predecessors and cleans up on the bad guys. Vengeance is sweet ... at least on the big screen. Director: Kevin Bray. Stars: The Rock, Neal McDonough, Johnny Knoxville, Ashley Scott. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 86 min., Action, Box office gross: $45.138 million, MGM, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Hunting of the President, The There can be no doubt that we live in one of the most tumultuous political climates of the nation's history, a climate where politicians can be toppled on a whim, election results disputed in the country's highest courts, and governors unceremoniously recalled. It's enough to leave even the most cynical voter asking, how did this happen? Harry Thomason and Nickolas Perry's incendiary documentary, based on the best-selling book by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason, offers a glimpse at the genesis of these partisan vendettas and explores the myths and truths behind the nearly 10-year campaign to systematically destroy the political legacy of the Clintons. Using previously unreleased materials, interviews, and shocking revelations from both sides of the beltway, this probing work focuses on the smear campaign against Clinton from his gubernatorial days in Arkansas leading up to and including his impeachment trial. Kenneth Starr fans, beware. Less of an advocacy film and more of an alarming treatise on the political power of the media and personal interests, "The Hunting of the President" offers us a gallery of defeated politicians, disappointed office seekers, right-wing pamphleteers, wealthy eccentrics, zany private detectives, religious fanatics, and die-hard segregationists, all chiming in discord from the tops of their soapboxes. Director: Nickolas Perry, Harry Thomason. Stars: Narrator: Morgan Freeman. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 90 min., Documentary, Fox. DVD: Only. 4 stars

  • Super Size Me Why are Americans so fat? Find out in "Super Size Me," a tongue in-cheek -- and burger in hand -- look at the legal, financial and physical costs of America's hunger for fast food. Ominously, 37% of American children and adolescents are carrying too much fat and 2 out of every three adults are overweight or obese. Is it our fault for lacking self-control, or are the fast-food corporations to blame? Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock hit the road and interviewed experts in 20 U.S. cities, including Houston, the "Fattest City" in America. From Surgeon Generals to gym teachers, cooks to kids, lawmakers to legislators, these authorities shared their research, opinions and "gut feelings" on our ever-expanding girth. During the journey, Spurlock also put his own body on the line, living on nothing but McDonald's for an entire month with three simple rules: 1) No options: he could only eat what was available over the counter (water included!) 2) No supersizing unless offered 3) No excuses: he had to eat every item on the menu at least once. It all adds up to a fat food bill, harrowing visits to the doctor, and compelling viewing for anyone who's ever wondered if man could live on fast food alone. The film explores the horror of school lunch programs, declining health and physical education classes, food addictions and the extreme measures people take to lose weight and regain their health. "Super Size Me" is a satirical jab in the stomach, overstuffed with fat and facts about the billion-dollar industry besieged by doctors, lawyers and nutritionists alike. "Would you like fries with that?" will never sound the same! Director: Morgan Spurlock. 2004, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 96 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $10.042 million, Columbia TriStar, No VHS SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

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    All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Rotel RDV-1060 DVD Audio/Video Player, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.

June 2004 Releases
July 2004 Releases
August 2004 Releases
October 2004 Releases
November 2004 Releases
December 2004 Releases
January 2005 Releases


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September 1, 2004