OnVideo SEPTEMBER Video Reviews
AWAY FROM HER
Lyrical adaptation of celebrated author Alice Munro's short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain." A beautifully moving love story that deals with memory and the circuitous, unnamable paths of a long marriage. Married for almost 50 years, Grant (Gordon Pinsent) and Fiona's (Julie Christie) commitment to each other appears unwavering, and their everyday life is full of tenderness and humor. This serenity is broken only by the occasional, carefully restrained reference to the past, giving a sense that this marriage may not always have been such a fairy tale. This tendency of Fiona's to make such references, along with her increasingly evident memory loss, creates a tension that is usually brushed off casually by both of them. As the lapses become more obvious and dramatic, it is no longer possible for either of them to ignore the fact that Fiona is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Director: Sarah Polley. Stars: Julie Christie, Olympia Dukakis, Gordon Pinsent, Wendy Crewson, Michael Murphy, Kristen Thomson, Alberta Watson. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 110 min., Drama, Box office gross: $4.43 million, Lionsgate. Available: 9/11.
Psychological thriller in which nothing is quite as it seems. A lonely waitress with a tragic past, Agnes (Ashley Judd) rooms in a run-down motel, living in fear of her abusive, recently paroled ex-husband. But when Agnes begins a tentative romance with Peter, an eccentric, nervous drifter, she starts to feel hopeful again -- until the first bugs arrive and the relationship quickly spirals out of control.
Director: William Friedkin. Stars: Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr., Lynn Collins, Brian F. O'Byrne, Michael Shannon. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 102 min., Psychological thriller, Box office gross: $7.006 million, Lionsgate. Available: 9/25.
Steve Austin stars as Jack Conrad, a death-row prisoner in a corrupt Central American prison who is "purchased" by a wealthy television producer and taken to a desolate island to participate in an illegal reality game show. Conrad must fight to the death against nine other condemned killers from all corners of the world, with freedom going to the sole survivor. With no possible escape -- and millions of viewers watching the uncensored violence online -- Conrad must use all of his strength to remain the last man standing.
A vehicular slasher film fused with ultra-intense car chases and action. Kurt Russell stars as a deranged stuntman-turned-psycho serial killer who stalks his victims from behind the wheel of a roving, revving, racing death machine. The car is tricked out to be "death proof" for the driver only; it's a machine of death for passengers and the female victims he crashes into head on. But when Stuntman Mike picks on the wrong group of women, all bets are off in an adrenaline-pumping, high speed duel of epic proportions. Unfortunately when you take out the chase and mayhem scenes, Tarantino's homage to hot rod grindhouse films of the 1950s and 60s falls apart faster than you can say "talking heads." A much touted lap dance scene is tame and lame. One-half of the April release "Grindhouse." The second half, Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror," is scheduled for an October release.
Director: Quentin Tarantino. Stars: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zoe Bell, Michael Parks, James Parks, Quentin Tarantino. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 113 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $25.031 million, Weinstein Co./Genius Products. Available: 9/18.
Down on his luck after losing his job and his girlfriend on the same day, Larry the Cable Guy decides to join his neighbor, Bill (Bill Engvall), and his combat-happy buddy, Everett (DJ Qualls), for a relaxing weekend of drinking and target practice. But when the three hapless guys are mistaken for Army Reservists by the hard-nosed Sergeant Kilgrove (Keith David), they're loaded onto an army plane headed for Fallujah, Iraq -- and mistakenly ejected in a Humvee somewhere over Mexico. Convinced they're actually in the Middle East, the clueless wannabe soldiers save a rural village from a siege of bandits and become local heroes. But when Carlos Santana (Danny Trejo), a ruthless, karaoke-loving warlord, strikes back, Larry, Bill and Everett have to lay down their beers and take up their arms -- and prove they just might be real soldiers after all.
Director: C.B. Harding. Stars: Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall, D.J. Qualls, Keith David, Danny Trejo, Danielle Hartnett. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 90 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $8.074 million, Lionsgate. Available: 9/4.
Deeply emotional film that illuminates the timeless love which binds mother and daughter -- seen through the prism of one mother's life as it crests with optimism, navigates a turning point, and ebbs to its close. Two pairs of real-life mothers and daughters -- Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson, and Meryl Streep and Mamie Gummer -- portray, respectively, a mother and her daughter and the mother's best friend at different stages in life. Overcome by the power of memory, Ann Lord (Redgrave) reveals a long-held secret to her concerned daughters; Constance (Richardson), a content wife and mother, and Nina (Toni Collette), a restless single woman. Both are bedside when Ann calls out for the man she loved more than any other. But who is this "Harris," wonder her daughters, and what is he to our mother? While Constance and Nina try to take stock of Ann's life and their own lives, their mother is tended to by a night nurse (Eileen Atkins) as she journeys in her mind back to a summer weekend some fifty years ago, when she was Ann Grant (Claire Danes), a young woman who has come from New York City to be maid of honor at the high-society Newport wedding of her dearest friend from college, Lila Wittenborn (Gummer). The bride-to-be is jittery, and turns to her maid of honor rather than her own mother (Glenn Close) for support. Ann stays close to her friend, yet is even closer to Lila's irrepressible brother Buddy (Hugh Dancy). Unexpected feelings surge forth once Ann meets wedding guest Harris Arden (Patrick Wilson), a lifelong friend and intimate of the Wittenborn family. Ann's love for Harris will change her life, and those of her daughters, forever.
Director: Lajos Koltai. Stars: Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Natasha Richardson, Eileen Atkins, Mamie Gummer, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 117 min., Drama, Box office gross: $8.340 million, Universal. Available: 9/25.
Three generations of women deal with the power of redemption, freedom in forgiveness and the unbreakable bonds of motherhood. Rebellious teenager Rachel (Lindsay Lohan) screams, swears, drinks, says whatever is on her mind and is just generally uncontrollable. With her latest car crash, Rachel has broken the final rule in mom Lilly's (Felicity Huffman) San Francisco home. With nowhere else to take the impulsive and rambunctious girl, Lilly hauls her daughter to the one place she swore she'd never return ... her own mother's Idaho home. Matriarch Georgia (Jane Fonda) is not your typical sweet and doting grandmother. She lives her life by a number of unbreakable rules, demanding that anyone she invites into her home do the same -- God comes first and hard work a very close second. Now saddled with raising the young woman, it will require each patient breath she takes to understand the reasons behind Rachel's fury. But as Rachel succumbs to her summer of misery and starts to shake up the tiny town, Georgia notices something is changing within her granddaughter. Given structure and responsibilities, she is letting her guard down and learning compassion ... especially for her own mother. Her journey will lead all three women to revelations of buried secrets and an understanding that, no matter what happens, the family ties that bind them will never be broken.
Director: Garry Marshall. Stars: Jane Fonda, Lindsay Lohan, Felicity Huffman, Dermot Mulroney, Cary Elwes, Hector Elizondo, Dylan McLaughlin, Zachary Gordon, Laurie Metcalf. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: R, 113 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $18.882 million, Universal. Available: 9/4.
Set in 1978, "Gracie" is an inspirational film about a teenage girl who overcomes the loss of her brother and fights the odds to achieve her dream of playing competitive soccer at a time when girls' soccer did not exist. Based on true events from the lives of the Shue family (producer and co-star Andrew Shue, actress Elisabeth Shue), the film is directed by Davis Guggenheim, who happens to be part of the family as well, being married to Elisabeth Shue. Living in South Orange, New Jersey, 15-year-old Gracie Bowen (Carly Schroeder) is the only girl in a family of three brothers. Their family life revolves almost entirely around soccer: her father (Dermot Mulroney) and brothers are obsessed with the sport, practicing in the backyard's makeshift field every day from morning 'til night. Tragedy unexpectedly strikes when Gracie's older brother Johnny, star of the high school varsity soccer team and Gracie's only protector, is killed in a car accident. Struggling with grief over her family's loss, Gracie decides to fill the void left on her brother's team by petitioning the school board to allow her to play on the boy's high school varsity soccer team in his place. Her father, a former soccer star himself, tries to prove to Gracie that she is not tough enough or talented enough to play with boys. Her mother, Lindsey Bowen (Elisabeth Shue), already an outsider in the sports-obsessed family, is no help either. Undeterred, Gracie finds reserves of strength she never knew existed, and persists in changing everyone's beliefs in what she is capable of, including her own. Gracie not only forces her father to wake up from his grief and see her as the beautiful and strong person that she has always been but she also brings her family together in the face of their tragedy.
Director: Davis Guggenheim. Stars: Elisabeth Shue, Dermot Mulroney, Carly Schroeder, Andrew Shue. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 95 min., Drama, Box office gross: $2.906 million, New Line Cinema. Available: 9/18.
Comedy about a one-night stand with unexpected consequences: parenthood. Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is an up-and-coming entertainment journalist whose 24-year-old life is on the fast track. But it gets seriously derailed when a drunken one-nighter with slacker Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) results in an unwanted pregnancy. Faced with the prospect of going it alone or getting to know the baby's father, Allison decides to give the lovable doof a chance. An overgrown kid who has no desire to settle down, Ben learns that he has a big decision to make with his kid's mom-to-be: will he hit the road or stay in the picture? Courting a woman you've just "Knocked Up," however, proves to be a little difficult when the two try their hands at dating. As they discover more about one another, it becomes painfully obvious that they're not the soul mates they'd hoped they might be. With Allison's harried sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) and hen-pecked brother-in-law Pete (Paul Rudd) the only parenting role models the young lovers have, things get even more confusing. Should they raise the baby together? What makes a happy lifetime partnership after all? A couple of drinks and one wild night later, they've got nine confusing months to figure it out.
Director: Judd Apatow. Stars: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: R, 128 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $145.162 million, Universal. Available: 9/25.
Adaptation of Philip K. Dick's "The Golden Man." Nicolas Cage stars as Cris Johnson, a Las Vegas magician with a secret gift that is both a blessing and a curse: He has the uncanny ability to tell you what will happen next. Johnson can see a few minutes into the future, an extrasensory talent that comes in handy for his job as a magician and mentalist in a seedy Vegas club where he performs nightly. It also has its uses at the blackjack tables when Cris needs some extra cash. But his talent is no mere parlor trick, and his dexterity with the portals of time has not gone totally unnoticed. Vegas security guards are watching through their all-seeing casino floor cameras, eager to decipher his knack for consistently beating the odds. And FBI counter-terror agent Callie Ferris(Julianne Moore) is eager to tap his brain to help thwart a terrorist group's planned attack on Los Angeles with a weapon of mass destruction. With the nuclear time bomb ticking, Cris Johnson could be key in averting a nuclear holocaust. If he doesn't use his powers to back-channel through the right portals and change the present, his future -- and the future of hundreds of thousands -- could be a thing of the past.
VDirector: Lee Tamahori. Stars: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann, Peter Falk. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 96 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $17.993 million, Paramount. Available: 9/25.
THE VALET (LA DOUBLURE)
Francois (Gad Elmaleh), a parking valet at a posh Paris restaurant, is photographed by a paparazzo leaving the restaurant along with Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil), a wealthy tycoon, and his beautiful supermodel mistress Elena (Alice Taglioni). In a desperate attempt to avoid an ugly divorce with his wife Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas), Pierre's scheming lawyer (Richard Berry) concocts an outrageous plan. By paying the valet a large sum of money to live with Pierre's mistress, the two men hope to mislead the tabloids and, most importantly, hide the affair from Christine. Meanwhile, the ruthless Pierre must convince the stunning Elena to live with Fran¨ois in his crummy apartment until the dust settles. All the while, he continues to reassure his wife that Francois is really Elena's boyfriend.
Director: Francis Veber. Stars: Daniel Auteuil, Kristin Scott Thomas, Richard Berry, Gad Elmaleh, Alice Taglioni, Virginie Ledoyen. 2007, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 85 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $2.21 million, Sony. Available: 9/14.
WE ARE MARSHALL
Based on true events, "We Are Marshall" tells the inspiring story of how a small town in West Virginia struggled to cope with a devastating loss and restore their community after one of the worst disasters in the history of American sports. On the evening of Saturday, November 14, 1970, a chartered jet carrying Marshall University's football team, coaches and fans, was on its way home from a hard-fought game in North Carolina. Less than a minute before its scheduled landing at Tri-State Airport, the plane crashed in the Appalachian Mountains, killing everyone aboard: 37 players, eight coaches and university staff, the flight crew, and 25 prominent Huntington citizens who had made the trip as they always did to cheer their "Thundering Herd." In the aftermath of this stunning tragedy, university president Donald Dedmon (David Strathairn) prepared to suspend the school's football program for the season -- perhaps indefinitely. Assistant coach Red Dawson (Matthew Fox), who narrowly missed the ill-fated flight, couldn't face going back onto the field. After some initial setbacks, the teaml found hope and strength in the leadership of outsider Jack Lengyel (Matthew Mcconaughey), a young coach determined to rebuild Marshall's football program and, in the process, help to heal the community. Less than a year later, on September 18, 1971, Marshall University's brand new Thundering Herd was poised to stage one of the greatest comebacks in collegiate sports. A raw, youthful and inexperienced squad, patched together under the guidance of Lengyel and Dawson, they would defy overwhelming odds just to march onto the gridiron for the school's first game since the accident. That season, it didn't matter whether Marshall won or lost. It didn't even matter how they played the game. All that mattered was that they played.
Director: McG. Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, Anthony Mackie, David Strathairn, Ian McShane, Kate Mara, January Jones, Kimberly Williams. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 124 min., Drama, Box office gross: $ 43.532 million, Warner. Available: 9/18.
THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY
Set in Ireland in 1920, "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" chronicles the Irish fight for independence from Britain, when workers from Ireland's fields united to form volunteer guerrilla armies to face ruthless "Black and Tan" squads. Driven by a deep sense of duty and a love for his country, Damien (Cillian Murphy) abandons his burgeoning career as a doctor and joins his brother, Teddy, in a dangerous and violent fight against the British. As the Irish freedom fighters' bold tactics bring the British to a breaking point, both sides finally agree to a treaty to end the bloodshed. But, despite the apparent victory, civil war erupts and families who fought side by side, find themselves pitted against one another, putting their loyalties to the ultimate test.
Director: Ken Loach. Stars: Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham, Orla Fitzgerald, Mary O'Riordan, Mary Murphy. 2006, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 127 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.829 million, Genius Products.Available: 9/4.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, 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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August 31, 2007