OnVideo: DECEMBER's Top Movies
THE AMERICANGeorge Clooney stars as Jack, an assassin who is constantly on the move and always alone. After a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected, Jack retreats to the Italian countryside. He relishes being away from death for a while as he holes up in a small medieval town. While there, Jack takes an assignment to construct a weapon for a mysterious contact, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten). Savoring the peaceful quiet he finds in the mountains of Abruzzo, Jack accepts the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and pursues a torrid liaison with a beautiful woman, Clara (Violante Placido). Jack and Clara's time together evolves into a romance, one seemingly free of danger. But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.
Director: Anton Corbijn. Stars: George Clooney, Irina Bjorklund, Thekla Reuten, Violante Placido, Paolo Bonacelli. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $35,562, million, Universal. Available: 12/28.
THE A-TEAMRemake -- or rather redo -- of TV's "The A-Team," about an unofficial team of Vietnam vets who stopped at nothing to get the bad guys. Sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit, the four commandos escaped from a maximum-security stockade and survived in the Los Angeles underground as soldiers of fortune. The original series, which ran from 1983-87, starred George Peppard, Mr. T, Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz. In this version, the four are Iraq War veterans.
Director: Joe Carnahan. Stars: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 117 min., Action, Box office gross: $77.213 million, Fox. Available: 12/14.
CYRUSUsing the innovative improvisational techniques that have earned them critical accolades and a devoted following, Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass enter the mainstream with a touching, original story that blends humor and heartbreak, much like life itself. Still single seven years after the breakup of his marriage, John (John C. Reilly) has all but given up on romance. But at the urging of his ex-wife and best friend Jamie (Catherine Keener), John grudgingly agrees to join her and her fiance Tim (Matt Walsh) at a party. To his and everyone else's surprise, he actually manages to meet someone: the gorgeous and spirited Molly (Marisa Tomei). Their chemistry is immediate. The relationship takes off quickly but Molly is oddly reluctant to take the relationship beyond John's house. Perplexed, he follows her home and discovers the other man in Molly's life: her son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill). A 21-year-old new age musician, Cyrus is his mom's best friend and shares an unconventional relationship with her. Cyrus will go to any lengths to protect Molly and is definitely not ready to share her with anyone, especially John. Before long, the two are locked in a battle of wits for the woman they both love -- and it appears only one man can be left standing when it's over. Vitals: Director: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass. Stars: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener, Matt Walsh. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 91 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $7.445 million, Fox. Available: 12/14.
DESPICABLE MEIn a happy suburban neighborhood surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, hidden deep beneath this home, is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by an army of tireless, little yellow Minions, we discover Gru (Steve Carell), planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon. Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad. One of the world's greatest super-villains has just met his greatest challenge: three little girls named Margo, Edith and Agnes.
Director: Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin. Stars: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Miranda Cosgrove, Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Danny McBride, Jack McBrayer, Jemaine Clement. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 95 min., Animated, Box office gross: $244.701 million, Universal. Available: 12/14.
DEVILTrapped in an elevator high above Philadelphia, five people discover that the Devil is among them -- and no one can escape their fate. Based on an original story by M. Night Shyamalan.
Director: John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle. Stars: Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O'Hara, Jacob Vargas, Matt Craven, Bokeem Woodbine. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 80 min., Horror, Box office gross: $33.1 million, Universal. Available: 12/21.
EASY AAfter a little white lie about losing her virginity gets out, a clean cut high school girl (Emma Stone) sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne's in "The Scarlet Letter," which she is currently studying in school -- until she decides to use the rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing. This comedy of teen morals is smart, sassy and inventive, and showcases a bright new comedy star in the person of Emma Stone. Stone is cute as a button and is imminently watchable; she pretty much holds the film together with her wit and acting chops. She's in good company, too, with fine but all-too-brief supporting roles by Stanley Tucci, Lisa Kudrow, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson and Malcolm McDowell. That said, though, one really has to suspend disbelief to put up with the conceit at the core of the story line -- that a high school girl would continue to dig herself deeper into a hole despite the fact that she knows better. But somehow, director Will Gluck manages to pull it off.
Director: Will Gluck. Stars: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Lisa Kudrow, Alyson Machalka, Thomas Haden Church, Stanley Tucci, Cam Gigandet, Penn Badgley, Patricia Clarkson, Malcolm McDowell, Dan Byrd, Chyna. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 92 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $42.176 million, Sony. Available: 12/21.
INCEPTIONDirector Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight") took a common sci-fi story premise -- people invading the dreams of others -- and wove it into a fantastic, mesmerizing sci-fi mystery thriller that takes viewers through layers and layers of real, surreal, and unreal worlds. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of Extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back -- but only if he can accomplish the impossible: Inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: Their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.
Director: Christopher Nolan. Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 148 min., Science Fiction Thriller, Box office gross: $288.405 million, Warner. Available: 12/7.
LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANSDirector Zack Snyder makes his animation debut with the fantasy family adventure based on the beloved books by Kathryn Lasky. The film follows Soren, a young owl enthralled by his father's epic stories of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, a mythic band of winged warriors who had fought a great battle to save all of owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. While Soren dreams of someday joining his heroes, his older brother, Kludd, scoffs at the notion, and yearns to hunt, fly and steal his father's favor from his younger sibling. But Kludd's jealousy has terrible consequences -- causing both owlets to fall from their treetop home and right into the talons of the Pure Ones. Now it is up to Soren to make a daring escape with the help of other brave young owls. Together they soar across the sea and through the mist to find the Great Tree, home of the legendary Guardians of Ga'Hoole -- Soren's only hope of defeating the Pure Ones and saving the owl kingdoms.
MICMACSFrom the director of "The City of Lost Children," "Delicatessen," "Alien: Resurrection," "Amelie" and "A Very Long Engagement" comes this delightful comedy with vengeance. First it was a mine that exploded in the middle of the Moroccan desert. Years later, it was a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting that lodged in his brain ... Bazil doesn't have much luck with weapons. The first made him an orphan, the second holds him on the brink of sudden, instant death. Released from the hospital after his accident, Bazil is homeless. Luckily, the inspired and gentle-natured dreamer is quickly taken in by a motley crew of junkyard dealers living in a veritable Ali Baba's cave of society's materialistic rejects and cast-offs. The group's talents and inspirations are as surprising as they are diverse: Remington, Calculator, Buster, Slammer, Elastic Girl, Tiny Pete and Mama Chow. Then, one day, walking by two huge buildings, Bazil recognizes the logos of the weapons manufacturers that caused all of his misfortune. He sets out to take revenge, with the help of his faithful gang of wacky friends. Underdogs battling heartless industrial giants, the gang relives the battle of David and Goliath, with all the imagination and fantasy of Buster Keaton. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet says "'Micmacs' is a little like 'Delicatessen' meets 'Amelie'..." In French with English subtitles.
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Stars: Dany Boon, Andre Dussollier, Omar Sy, Dominique Pinon, Julie Ferrier, Nicolas Marie, Marie-Julie Baup. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $1.248 million, Sony. Available: 12/14.
MOTHER AND CHILDChronicles the compelling stories of three women -- a 50 year-old woman (Annette Bening), haunted by the thoughts of the daughter she gave up for adoption 35 years earlier. Elizabeth (Naomi Watts), who grew up as an adopted child; she's a bright and ambitious lawyer, but a flinty loner in her personal life. And Lucy, an African American (Kerry Washington), just embarking with her husband on the adoption odyssey, hoping for the opportunity to become parents. Their lives become fatefully intertwined by the unbreakable bond between mother and child.
Director: Rodrigo Garcia. Stars: Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, Kerry Washington, Jimmy Smits, Samuel L. Jackson, David Morse, Elpidia Carrillo. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R 127 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.108 million, Sony. Available: 12/14.
NANNY MCPHEE RETURNSEmma Thompson returns to the role of the magical nanny who appears when she's needed the most and wanted the least in the next chapter of the family fable. In the latest installment, Nanny McPhee appears at the door of a harried young mother, Mrs. Isabel Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away at war. But once she's arrived, Nanny McPhee discovers that Mrs. Green's children are fighting a war of their own against two spoiled city cousins who have just moved in and refuse to leave. Relying on everything from a flying motorcycle and a statue that comes to life to a tree-climbing piglet and a baby elephant who turns up in the oddest places, Nanny McPhee uses her magic to teach her mischievous charges five new lessons.
Director: Susanna White. Stars: Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Maggie Smith, Rhys Ifans, Daniel Mays. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 109 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $28.725 million, Universal. Available: 12/14.
THE OTHER GUYSNYPD Detectives Christopher Danson (Dwayne Johnson) and P.K. (Samuel L. Jackson) are the baddest and most beloved cops in New York City. They don't get tattoos -- other men get tattoos of them. Two desks over and one back, sit Detectives Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg). You've seen them in the background of photos of Danson and Highsmith, out of focus and eyes closed. They're not heroes --they're "the Other Guys." But every cop has his or her day and soon Gamble and Hoitz stumble into a seemingly innocuous case, one no other detective wants to touch but one that could turn into New York City's biggest crime. It's the opportunity of their lives, but do these guys have the right stuff?
Director: Adam McKay. Stars: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Daman Wayans Jr., Rob Riggle, Bobby Cannavale, Steve Coogan, Anne Heche, Lindsay Sloane. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $117.697 million, Sony. Available: 12/14.
RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFEIn a world ravaged by the T-virus infection, Alice (Milla Jovovich) continues on her lonely and dangerous hunt for survivors in a decimated world crawling with the Undead -- while continuing her deadly battle with the Umbrella Corporation. Searching for the alleged safe-haven "Arcadia," she finds survivors Claire (Ali Larter) and Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller). A new lead that promises a safe haven from the Undead takes them to Los Angeles, but when they arrive the city is overrun by thousands of the Undead -- and Alice and her comrades are about to step into a deadly trap. The third sequel in the series ups the ante with hotter special effects and zombie-killing action -- this time in 3-D.
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson. Stars: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller, Shawn Roberts, Kim Coates, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Spencer Locke, Boris Kodjoe, Sienna Guillory. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 90 min., Science Fiction-Action-Horror, Box office gross: $56.615 million, Sony. Available: 12/28.
SALTAngelina Jolie is terrific as CIA officer Evelyn Salt, who swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty is tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy, and she goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Salt's efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues, with twists, turns, betrayals and plenty of stunts, chases and action sequences. There's nary a dull moment here as director Phillip Noyce keeps the action -- and camera -- moving straight ahead to the spectacular ending.
Director: Phillip Noyce. Stars: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Zoe Lister Jones, Yara Shahidi, Cassidy Hinkle, Gaius Charles, Corey Stoll, Kevin O'Donnell, Hunt Block, James Cronin, Gary Wilmes. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 100 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $117.562 million, Sony. Available: 12/21.
SHREK FOREVER AFTERAfter challenging an evil dragon, rescuing a beautiful princess and saving your in-laws' kingdom, what's an ogre to do? Well, if you're Shrek, you suddenly wind up a domesticated family man. Instead of scaring villagers away like he used to, a reluctant Shrek now agrees to autograph pitch forks. What's happened to this ogre's roar? Longing for the days when he felt like a "real ogre," Shrek is duped into signing a pact with the smooth-talking dealmaker, Rumpelstiltskin. Shrek suddenly finds himself in a twisted, alternate version of Far Far Away, where ogres are hunted, Rumpelstiltskin is king and Shrek and Fiona have never met. Now, it's up to Shrek to undo all he's done in the hopes of saving his friends, restoring his world and reclaiming his one True Love.
Director: Mike Mitchell. Stars: Voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Jon Hamm, John Cleese, Craig Robinson, Walt Dohrn, Jane Lynch, Lake Bell, Kathy Griffin, Mary Kay Place, Kristen Schaal, Meredith Vieira. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 93 min., Animated, Box office gross: $238.371 million, DreamWorks. Available: 12/7.
THE TOWNThere are over 300 bank robberies in Boston every year. And most of the professionals live in a one-square-mile neighborhood called Charlestown. One of them is Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), but he is not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. Unlike them, Doug had a chance at success, a chance to escape following in his father's criminal footsteps. Instead, he became the leader of a crew of ruthless bank robbers who pride themselves on taking what they want and getting out clean. The only family Doug has are his partners in crime, especially Jem, who, despite his dangerous, hair-trigger temper, is the closest thing Doug ever had to a brother. However, everything changed on the gang's last job when Jem briefly took a hostage: bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). When they discover Claire lives in Charlestown, Jem gets nervous and wants to check out what she might have seen. Knowing what Jem is capable of, Doug takes charge. He seeks out Claire, who has no idea that their encounter is not by chance or that this charming stranger is one of the men who terrorized her only days before. As his relationship with Claire deepens into a passionate romance, Doug wants out of this life and the town. But with the Feds closing in and Jem questioning his loyalty, Doug realizes that getting out will not be easy and, worse, may put Claire in the line of fire. Any choices he once had have boiled down to one: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves. "The Town" is a dramatic thriller about robbers and cops, friendship and betrayal, love and hope, and escaping a past that has no future.
Director: Ben Affleck. Stars: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renne, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 125 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $87.843 million, Warner. Available: 12/17.
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSEIn the third chapter in the Twilight franchise, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of it all, Bella is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob -- knowing that her decision has the potential to re-ignite the ageless battle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella is confronted with the most important decision of her life.
Director: David Slade. Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Billy Burke, Elizabeth Reaser, Peter Facinelli, Gil Birgmingham, Christian Serratos. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 124 min., Fantasy-Drama, Box office gross: $295.9 million, Summit Entertainment. Available: 12/4.
WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPSIn this sequel to 1987's "Wall Street," ruthless financial wizard Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) returns from a lengthy prison stint and finds himself on the outside of a world he once dominated. Looking to repair his damaged relationship with his daughter (Carey Mulligan), Gekko forms an alliance with her fiance Jacob (Shia LaBeouf), and Jacob begins to see him as a father figure. But Jacob learns the hard way that Gekko -- still a master manipulator and player -- is after something very different from redemption.
Director: Oliver Stone. Stars: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Eli Wallach, Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: R, 136 min., Drama, Box office gross: $52.147 million, Fox. Available: 12/21.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.
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December 1, 2010