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Nick's Pics
Nick Nicholson
Film & Home Entertainment Critic

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.



We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of the Moon - the gripping science fiction film starring Sam Rockwell, it is really easy. All you have to do is send me an email at Filmlords@gmail.com. The subject line of the email should read DVD GIVEAWAY. In the body of the email, be sure to put your name, full mailing address and which format (DVD or Blu-ray) you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing. Best of luck!

When this four-part adventure first appeared in 1984, it was the only thing fans had to go on as their first impression of the new sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) until another season could be produced the next year. Baker gave it his all, drawing on his years as a character actor and frequent villain on British TV to play a manic, possibly schizophrenic, Time Lord immediately after regenerating, quoting Longfellow and nearly strangling his American assistant Peri (Nicola Bryant) at one point. The question was, would he ever settle down? Even by the last frame of this story, viewers couldn’t be sure. See the new Doctor, Colin Baker, in action in his first full episode.

Science fiction can encompass many genres--suspense, horror, action-adventure, romance, even comedy--but director Duncan Jones’s Moon doesn’t fit neatly into any of them. This smart, provocative film has no aliens or cool spaceships, and the effects (mostly consisting of model vehicles lumbering across the lunar surface) aren’t all that special; instead, the material is character- and story-driven, centering on an excellent, multi layered performance by Sam Rockwell. The scene is some undetermined point in the future. Rockwell plays Sam Bell, an employee of Lunar Industries, the company responsible for mining a fusion energy source called Helium-3, which is vital to Earth’s efforts to reverse a serious energy crisis and can only be found on the far side of the Moon.

In the long war of nerves between East and West, British agent David Callan has distinguished himself as a valuable asset: a competent killer who understands all the political and psychological angles. But after a stint in Soviet prison, Callan wants out of the game. His coldly calculating superiors, Hunter (William Squire) and Bishop (Geoffrey Chater), have other ideas. Callan soon learns that leaving his profession might be more dangerous than staying in--and that men like him have as much to fear from friends as from enemies. In these final 13 episodes, this taut series elevates the spy thriller to emotionally charged drama.

Chef/cop Crabbe (Richard Griffiths) still wants retirement from police investigation in favor of the Pie in the Sky restaurant. But blackmailing Police Chief Fisher (Malcolm Sinclair) needs his sometimes odd ways of getting at the facts. Wife, Margaret (Maggie Steed) is still doing her numbers thing with the restaurant and occasionally assisting with undercover cop work while understanding little about her husband’s cuisine. Beautiful & promoted Det. Sgt. Sophia Cambridge is Crabbe’s assigned aide in crime fighting. More cast is familiar, and the stories are great. British mystery plus laughs; so what’s the down side? All those in-your-face looks at Chef Crabbe’s delicious Steak & Kidney Pies without getting even one taste. It is maddening.

Like The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity is an impressive and harrowing indie chiller that derives much of its terror--and there is quite a bit of that in its brief running time--by playing on the most basic of human fears: that which cannot be seen. Though one might assume that the point-of-view aesthetic had been worn out thanks to Cloverfield and Quarantine, Paranormal makes excellent use of the single-camera technique, which helps to not only preserve the film’s central conceit--a new-minted couple records the increasingly threatening supernatural phenomena that have invaded their home on a camcorder--but underscore the realism needed to drive home the low-fi special effects.

This is a howling good movie right up there with “Zombieland”! A fresh whole new take on the vampire genre that makes one ask, “When is the sequel coming out?” There definitely should be a tv series! So wake up America! The British are coming... and they are kicking Hollywood’s butt in the horror genre! Instead of mindless gore or insipid teenage angst, this movie actually has quite a decent plot. With the incredible performances and the whole look and feel of this movie, it’s bound to be a classic horror hit!

Three seasons in, the popular HBO series Big Love remains a highly entertaining and rewarding viewing experience. The cast is enormous and the story lines are numerous, with each of these ten 60-minute episodes adding new wrinkles to the plot lines already being pursued. This is business as usual for those who’ve been on board from the start, but while newcomers may need a couple of episodes to get up to speed, viewers of all stripes will be inexorably pulled in by the show’s tangled combination of drama and black humor, personal peccadilloes and internecine strife, and big time social and religious issues. There really is nothing else like this on the television landscape, and that’s entirely a good thing. As usual, the series centers on the anything-but-normal life of Salt Lake City businessman Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton). Bill’s a study in contrasts: while he has plenty of objections to modern Mormon mores (he and his family are no longer active members of the church), he’s committed to the practice of polygamy, which remains the single most controversial aspect of Mormonism despite having been officially banned. Bill, his three wives, Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicki (Chloë Sevigny), and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin), and their various children find themselves waging constant skirmishes on several fronts: with their nosy, judgmental neighbors, with the splinter Mormon clan headed by the evil, self-proclaimed holy man Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton), and with the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

At first glance, Across the Hall has the look of one of those “stylish thrillers” with little substance below its glossy veneer - but there’s more to this story. Danny Pino costars as Terry, an insecure, short-fused guy who’s convinced that his girlfriend, June (Brittany Murphy), is cheating on him--so convinced, in fact, that he has followed her to a funky hotel and booked the room across the hall from hers, where he stares through the peephole, armed with a gun and very bad intent. Jesse calls his best bud Julian (Mike Vogel) and confesses what he’s up to, which sets in motion a series of plot twists, some fairly predictable and some not at all. The action jumps around in terms of both time frame and point of view. Be sure to pay attention, or you will definitely miss something!

Film makers Lexy Lovell and Michael Uys do an incredible job with this documentary, so much so that it doesn’t feel like a documentary. The Good Soldier examines five different servicemen who spent time fighting in four different wars. Their individual testimonies take the viewer through a wide array of emotions, all the while exploring their individual backgrounds and the demons that come with them. The 60 years this program covers gives a very unique perspective to the horrors of war that are inevitable in any conflict. The Good Soldier should not be missed.

Join the Adventures of teenage prodigy Tony Stark, and his alter ego Iron Man, as he uses his technological inventions to battle villains and save the world! When new villains like Living Laser and Madame Masque bring their own brand of chaos, it’s up to Iron Man to answer the call! Suit up and get back in action with Tony and his best friends, Rhodey and Pepper, as they risk it all to defeat evil and save the day using the latest technology and a little teamwork. There are six new episodes filled with bigger challenges, more secrets and more high-tech showdowns.

This is it! Superman! Wonder Woman! Aquaman! Batman & Robin! The very first Super Friends incarnation, with Wendy, Marvin & Wonderdog is finally coming to DVD! Fans have been waiting years for this and now it’s here! The show was comprised of 16 hour long episodes (about 45 minutes without commercials) and included some rare guest appearances such as Green Arrow & Plastic Man among others. Warner Brothers is releasing the 1973 Season in Two 8 episode Volumes, which are both 2 discs each. This is a must own for any fan of classic cartoon television!

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Contact Filmlords@gmail.com if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:
December 30 , 2009