OnVideo MARCH Video Reviews
Collegiate thriller that investigates the mysterious disappearance of a student. Katie (Katie Holmes) is in her senior year of college, swamped with essays, a final thesis paper, job interviews and exams. Compounding her stress is the arrival of Detective Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt) to investigate the 2-year-old disappearance of Katie's last boyfriend, Embry. Haunted by the memory of the missing boyfriend and plagued by a fear of abandonment as a result of being left behind by her father at the age of three, Katie is forced to choose between past passions and new possibilities as Wade uncovers the truth behind Embry's final days.
Director: Stephen Gaghan. Stars: Katie Holmes, Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Hunnam, Zooey Deschanel, Gabriel Union. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min.), Thriller, 2002, Box office gross: $10.719 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/18, DVD: Day & Date.
Fascinating study of radio and TV personality Bob Crane, who rose from obscurity -- by hard work -- in the late 1950s on drive-time L.A. radio to the pinnacle of stardom as the lead in primetime's "Hogan's Heroes." But success brings -- or unleashes -- demons, and Crane (played by Greg Kinnear) gets involved with the seedy side of Hollywood -- wild sex, strip clubs, pornography -- especially when he falls under the spell of a pioneer in videography, John Carpenter (Willem Dafoe), who shows Crane the fine art of recording one's own sexual escapades. Eventually, so the story goes, Crane tried to pull himself away from Carpenter's spell -- his career and marriage were beginning to slip -- but Crane turned up dead -- murdered in a motel room in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Director: Paul Schrader. Stars: Greg Kinnear, Willem Dafoe, Rita Wilson, Maria Bello, Rob Leibman. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 107 min.), Drama, 2002, Box office gross: $2.008 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/18, DVD: Day & Date.
Haunted submarine saga set during the height of WWII as the USS Tiger Shark patrols the mid-Atlantic, fending off the Germans above and ghosts below. After a trio of survivors of a sunken hospital ship are fished out of the ocean, strange things begin to happen on the U.S. sub. Is there a ghostly presence on board -- or a saboteur? Though this thriller -- directed by David Twohy ("Pitch Black") and written by Darren Aronofsky ("Requiem for a Dream") -- tanked at the box office, it's actually quite good. The effects and chills are top-notch and the claustrophobia all-encompassing. A good evening's viewing.
Director: David Twohy. Stars: Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Davis, Olivia Williams, Scott Foley, Zach Galifianakis, Holt McCallany. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 104 min.), Thriller, 2002, Box office gross: $0.589 million, (Dimension), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/11, DVD: Day & Date.
For Jimmy Smith Jr. (Eminem), life is a daily fight just to keep hope alive. Feeding his dreams in the city's vibrant movie scene, Jimmy wages an extraordinary personal struggle to find his own voice -- and earn a place in the world where rhymes rule, legends are born and every moment ... is another chance. A terrific outing for director Curtis ("L.A. Confidential") Hanson and rap star Eminem. It's an underdog movie about the struggles of a young rapper to rise above his desolate life on the wrong side of 8 Mile Road, a street that separates the inner city from the suburbs in 1995 Detroit. Eminem turns in a robust performance in one crucial week of the life of Jimmy, known as Rabbit, as he juggles the conflicting needs of his girl friends, his crew, his job and his dysfunctional family. Its modern day existential angst for the hip-hop generation. Or, if you're familiar with the call-and-bait of rap battles, this might be billed as the new millennium's "Rebel Without a Pause."
Director: Curtis Hanson. Stars: Eminem, Kim Basinger, Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy, Evan Jones, Omar Benson Miller, De'Angelo Wilson, Eugene Byrd, Taryn Manning. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 111 min.), Drama, 2002, Box office gross: $117.000 million, (Universal), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/18, DVD: Day & Date.
Master manipulator Laure Ash (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) plays a crucial role in an involved and seductive diamond heist at the Cannes Film Festival. After succeeding in the theft, Ash assumes the identity of a high-profile, respected politico's wife, but her true identity is revealed when Nicholas (Antonio Banderas), a paparazzo, snaps her picture. Ash must now reinvent herself and she uses Nicholas as part of her meticulous plot of deceit. A wild twisting and turning thriller with all manner of double- crosses, deceits and fake identities. What's real and what's not?
Director: Brian De Palma. Stars: Antonio Banderas, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Peter Coyote, Eriq Ebouaney, Edouard Montoute. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 118 min.), Thriller, 2002, Box office gross: $6.592 million, (Warner), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 3/25, DVD: Day & Date.
FRIDAY AFTER NEXT
Third installment in the hit "Friday" series finds Craig (Ice Cube) and Day-Day (Mike Epps) back in the old neighborhood and ready for Christmas. Although they've left behind the security of living with their parents, the rundown Shady Palms apartment they share is decked out in the spirit of the holiday season. It's a time for giving -- until Craig wakes up in the middle of the night to find a ghetto Santa Claus stealing their presents and their rent money. With the rent due, Craig and Day-Day are forced to score some quick cash at the local strip mall where their fathers have opened Bros. Bar-B-Q restaurant and landed them jobs as unarmed security guards. As the clock ticks down on another unforgettable Friday, Craig and Day-Day learn some comic lessons about the true meaning of the holiday season.
Director: Marcus Raboy. Stars: Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Katt Williams, Anna Maria Horsford, Terry Crews, K.D. Aubert. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 85 min.), Comedy, 2002, Box office gross: $32.220 million, (New Line), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 3/25, DVD: Day & Date.
When an expert salvage team is called upon to investigate a mysterious vessel adrift off the coast of Alaska, they discover the remains of the fabled "Antonia Graza," thought lost at sea for more than 40 years. The crew, under the direction of their tough team leader (Julianna Margulies), claims the decrepit ship and begins to excavate its cavernous interior. As soon as they set foot on the eerie abandoned ship, however, they are shocked to discover that the decaying vessel is anything but deserted, and are forced to face the most horrifying thing ever encountered on the open sea. "Ghost Ship" puts an interesting twist on the conventional haunted house narrative. Chilling horror and gore scenes that will freak you out. Marred by a hokey ending.
Director: Steve Beck. Stars: Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies, Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington, Isaiah Washington. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 91 min.), Horror, 2002, Box office gross: $29.320 million, (Warner), $22.98 VHS SRP, Available: 3/25, DVD: Day & Date.
No, not a remake of the remarkable 1960s TV spy series starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. This modern-day spy thriller uses the "I Spy" moniker to team up a Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy in a comedy simulcra of the classic existential spy adventures that put Culp and Cosby on the map. A super-powerful experimental spy plane is stolen by an evil arms dealer and is about to be handed over to an international terrorist. The U.S. Government drafts an egotistical boxing champion (Murphy) to join a very earnest special agent (Wilson) on a dangerous top-secret mission to get the plane back. Armed with the latest high tech gadgets and a whole lot of attitude, this odd couple has to learn to get along together to save the world. Famke Janssen also stars as an ultra-sexy secret agent who captivates the two men. The twists and turns -- involving double and triple agents -- and the spy gags spring less from the espionage tale than from Hollywood gloss screenwriting. Acting and directing is passable, but on the whole the event is misfired and wearisome to watch. Sheldon Leonard -- creator of "I Spy" -- must be turning in his grave.
Director: Betty Thomas. Stars: Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Famke Janssen, Malcolm McDowell, Gary Cole. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min.), Comedy Thriller, 2002, Box office gross: $33.105 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/11, DVD: Day & Date.
JONAH: A VEGGIETALES MOVIE
The very popular VeggieTales characters from the direct-to-video kids series makes its way to the big screen in this wholesome animated adventure. Stars Larry the Cucumber (as Pirate Larry), Bob the Tomato (as himself) and Archibald the Asparagus as the monocle-sporting prophet Jonah. Larry, Bob, Archibald and the rest of the Veggie gang set sail on a whale of an adventure. Filled with music, laughs, and the strangest adventurers ever to be swallowed whole, this is the story of Jonah and the whale as you've never seen it before -- a story where everyone learns that one of the best gifts you can give, or get, is a second chance.
Director: Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki. Stars: Voices of Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Tim Hodge, Lisa Vischer, Dan Anderson, Kristin Blegen. CC, (MPAA rating: G, 83 min.), Animated, 2002, Box office gross: $24.938 million, (Artisan), $19.98 VHS SRP, Available: 3/4, DVD: Day & Date.
MAID IN MANHATTAN
Charming romantic comedy that harkens back to social class comedies of the 1930s. Marisa Ventura (Jennifer Lopez) is a single mother born and bred in the boroughs of New York City who works as a maid in a premiere, luxury hotel in Manhattan. A street smart, beautiful young woman, Marisa is not initially motivated to rise to greater things until she is given the chance for a management position. But the future has some obstacles in store for her. By a twist of fate and mistaken identity, she meets Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes), a handsome heir to a political dynasty who believes that she is a wealthy guest at the hotel. Fate steps in and throws the unlikely pair together for a series of comical mix-ups and romantic interludes. But when Marisa's true identity is revealed, the two find that they are worlds apart -- even though the distance separating them is just a subway ride between Manhattan and the Bronx.
Director: Wayne Wang. Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Bob Hoskins, Frances Conroy, Chris Eigeman, Amy Sedaris, Priscilla Lopez, Tyler Garcia Posey, Marissa Matrone. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min.), Romantic comedy, 2002, Box office gross: $95.000 million, (Columbia TriStar), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/25, DVD: Day & Date.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Joe Nast, a young man whose plans for marriage and a happy life are dashed when his fiancee is killed in an accident. Now he wants to be the man he believes everyone wants him to be: dutifully bereaved husband-to-be and perfect would-be son-in-law to Ben (Dustin Hoffman) and Jojo (Susan Sarandon). But when another woman unexpectedly enters his life, Joe is torn between fulfilling his role with his former girlfriend's family -- and entering into business with Ben and a lecherous real estate agent (Dabney Coleman) -- and following his heart toward a new romantic soul mate.
Director: Brad Silberling. Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Holly Hunter, Jake Gyllenhaal, Dabney Coleman, Ellen Pompeo. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 117 min.), Drama, 2002, Box office gross: $6.785 million, (Touchstone), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/11, DVD: Day & Date.
Based on writer-director Rebecca Miller's book of short stories. Three stories on three very different women: Delia (Kyra Sedgwick) escapes from an abusive husband. Greta (Parker Posey) risks everything on a new career. Paula (Fairuza Balk) takes flight after a tragic accident. The three women must overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles that confine them. But are they really on their way to new lives -- or are they just making new versions of old mistakes. Succinct, tight, expressive writing and wonderful performances by the three lead women makes for an impressive debut by Miller. Winner of the Grand Jury prize at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.
Director: Rebecca Miller. Stars: Kyra Sedgwick, David Warshofsky, Parker Posey, Tim Guinee, Wallace Shawn, Ron Liebman, Fairuza Balk, Taylor Pucci, Patti D'Arbanville. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 85 min.), Drama, 2002, Box office gross: $0.703 million, (MGM), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/18, DVD: Day & Date.
This nightmarish thriller is about a legendary videocassette that causes anyone who watches it to die seven days later. When four teenagers all meet with mysterious deaths exactly one week after watching just such a tape, investigative reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) tracks down the video, watches it and has just seven days to unravel the mystery. Both the VHS and DVD will feature an all-new 15-minute experimental short film created by director Gore Verbinski exclusively for the video release. It reveals more secrets that bring viewers closer to understanding the mystery of "The Ring." The whole affair is an incredibly delightful thrill-fest that will keep you on the edge of your seat -- with you hand suitably poised to hit the remote's "stop" button.
Director: Gore Verbinski. Stars: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox, David Dorfman, Daveigh Chase. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 114 min.), Horror, 2002, Box office gross: $129.000 million, (DreamWorks), $14.95 VHS SRP, Available: 3/4, DVD: Day & Date.
Coinciding with the release of "The Ring," DreamWorks will also debut the original, record-breaking international cult hit that started it all, "Ringu." Highly anticipated by fans of "The Ring," the "Ringu" DVD and VHS will feature a newly created digital film-to-video transfer of the movie, and the DVD will feature a new 5.1 Japanese Digital Surround mix. After record-breaking boxoffice attendance in Japan and critical acclaim, "Ringu" spawned a dedicated fan-base. It's based on a series of best-selling novels by Koji Suzuki -- considered the Stephen King of Japan. It was first brought to the Japanese public's attention by a TV feature that starred many of the actors who went on to appear in the theatrical version. The TV movie proved incredibly popular, and from there a screenplay was written by Hiroshi Takahashi directly from the original novel.
Director: Hideo Nakata. Stars: Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatami, Hiroyuki Sanada. CC, (MPAA rating: NR, 96 min.), Horror, 1998, (DreamWorks), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/4, DVD: Day & Date.
Well-done indie film explores the psyche of a single-minded, intelligent, witty modern-day Lothario, who's only goal in life is to snare women. Having just been dumped by his older boss (Isabella Rossellini), with whom he had been having an affair, Roger (Campbell Scott) takes the opportunity to vent his anger against the opposite sex by tutoring his 16-year-old nephew in the fine art of seduction. What follows is a scathing barrage of pickups, one-ups and wild encounters, from underground sex clubs to upper crust parties, as Roger and nephew meet and woo and destroy women, and get back as good as they give ... all in the course of one night. A finely written, acted and tuned production.
Director: Dylan Kidd. Stars: Campbell Scott, Isabella Rossellini, Jesse Eisenberg, Elizabeth Berkley, Jennifer Beals, Ben Shenkman, Mina Badie, Chris Stack. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 104 min.), Drama, 2002, Box office gross: $1.245 million, (Artisan), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/18, DVD: Day & Date.
Jesse Bradford plays local school swimming hero Ben and Erika Christensen plays the bad seed new-girl-in-town Madison who just has to have the boy all to herself -- or else. When Ben rejects Madison's advances, all hell breaks loose, and Madison causes Ben to lose his swim career, best friend, girl friend, job, and on and on (haven't we been here before so many times before?). Ben eventually decides to get even: it's a well-traveled -- and weak -- teen "Fatal Attraction."
Director: John Polson. Stars: Jesse Bradford, Erika Christensen, Shiri Appleby, Kate Burton, Clayne Crawford, Jason Ritter, Kia Joy Goodwin. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 85 min.), Thriller, 2002, Box office gross: $28.563 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 3/11, DVD: Day & Date.
After her mother Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) is sentenced to life in prison for murdering her boyfriend in a fit of passion, 15-year-old Astrid (Alison Lohman) must learn to survive in the Los Angeles foster care system. Forever changed by the loss of her mother, Astrid is forced to confront the harsh reality of growing up alone in a series of unstable foster homes. While Astrid struggles to forge an identity of her own in a cold, indifferent world, Ingrid is determined to maintain control over her daughter's life despite their separation. As a result, Ingrid's powerful force is the only constant in Astrid's life -- for better or for worse.
Director: Peter Kosminsky. Stars: Alison Lohman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amy Aquino, Billy Connolly. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 110 min.), Drama, 2002, Box office gross: $16.346 million, (Warner), $22.98 VHS SRP, 3/11, DVD: Day & Date.
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.
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February 15, 2003