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.
THE COMPANY MEN
Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is living the American dream: great job, beautiful family, shiny Porsche in the garage. When corporate downsizing leaves him and co-workers Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) and Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) jobless, the three men sare forced to re-define their lives as men, husbands, and fathers. After 12 years on the job at the company, the men are blindsided, though, and struggle greatly dealing with their mental recession. After some time spent with his family, Bobby soon finds himself enduring enthusiastic life coaching, a job building houses for his brother-in-law (Kevin Costner) which does not play to his executive skill set, and perhaps the realization that there is more to life than chasing the bigger, better deal. With humor, pathos, and keen observation, writer-director John Wells (the creator of "ER") introduces us to the new realities of American life.
For Gene (Jones), who was the company co founder with James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson) the transition has become someone confrontational and angry. Gene feels that his co-founder has made poor decisions with the company that essentially led to its less that positive financial situation. He goes off the proverbial deep end while leaving his materialistic wife and examines what he really loved about the job - and work - in the first place. Over time, all three men discover what is most important to each of them, their families and their individual existence.
Wow! If more films could take on this perspective! One of the best aspects of this film is that it cut out the fat. There isn't any droll B-roll, nor is there any problematic exposition. Just the facts ma'am, from one point to the next. This is unbelievably admirable in the film and most bladders will thank you for it. This picture provides a deep look into the lives of all echelons of society during these trying economic times. How the different classes of society deal with the stress of financial woes, the lack of self worth, and the triumph of the human spirit will no doubt make the viewer think about their own lives and the decisions we make to define us. Just out of the 2011 movie gate, we have an award contender right here.
The Company Men
Starring: Ben Affleck, Tommy
Lee Jones, Maria Bello &
Director: John Wells
Company: The Weinstein
Now Showing: in Local Theaters
MPAA Rating: R
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of The Dog who Saved Christmas Vacation or Between Heaven and Hell, it is really easy! All you have to do is send me an email at HoustonMovieGuy@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 DVD or Blu-ray you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing. Best of luck!
KING OF PAPER CHASIN' - E1 Entertainment
The film is about a dude named Carter Blanche, a sometimes rapper/thug/hooligan who styles himself as a businessman. Carter’s alter-ego, the up-and-coming rapper Carte Blanche, is struggling with the past, his own morals, and the relationships around him. This leads to a whole lot of unnecessary conversations, soul-searching, and eventual violence. The story is one of ruthless Machiavellian survival, punctuated by all too brief glimpses of realism. The film attempts to straddle the line between heartfelt exposé and clichéd profile of gangster rap ethos. The combination is an uneven one at best.
SECRETS OF STONEHENGE - PBS
Every year, a million visitors are drawn to the Salisbury Plain, in southern England, to gaze upon a mysterious circle of stones. Stonehenge may be the best-known and most mysterious relic of prehistory. During the 20th century, excavations revealed that the structure was built in stages, and that it dates back some 5,000 years, to the late Stone Age. The meaning of the monument, however, was anyones guess until recently. Now investigations inside and around Stonehenge have kicked off a dramatic new era of discovery and debate. Who built Stonehenge? What was its purpose? How did prehistoric people quarry, transport, sculpt and erect the giant stones? A new generation of researchers is tackling these questions, finding important clues in the landscape surrounding Stonehenge one of the densest concentrations of prehistoric structures in the world. The story of Stonehenge is being rewritten.
BEN 10: Ultimate Alien Volume One - Cartoon Network
Now that Ben's hit the big time, his fame brings him new challenges. His old enemies track him down and threaten his family. He lands a starring role in a video game and has to deal with his celebrity status. And speaking of celebrities, he crushes on a young movie actress at the same time that his childhood hero makes a comeback. I guess when you go Ultimate, so do your problems! Contains 10 episodes of the hit animated series.
THE GARFIELD SHOW: All You Need is Love - Vivendi
Hearts, flowers and fur balls are in the air with The Garfield Show: All You Need Is Love (and Pasta). You'll have enough fun and laughter to last through nine lives and nine dishes of lasagna as everyone's favorite droll kitty meanders from one hilarious situation to the next. Whether he's fostering orphan birds, enduring John's quest for the perfect family portrait, or putting up a good front for Liz's parents, Garfield really does love his friends... maybe even more than lasagna.
BASEBALL'S GREATEST GAMES: 1960 World Series Game 7 - A&E
If you're reading this there's a good chance you already know that the 1960 World Series ended abruptly with one of the two most dramatic home runs in baseball history (Bobby Thomson's 1951 N.L. Pennant-winning "Shot Heard `Round the World" being the other). Thought to be lost--or nonexistent in the first place--a kinescope of the historic and deciding seventh game was discovered several months ago in the basement of one of the Pittsburgh Pirates' former owners, the late entertainer Bing Crosby, by the Crosby family's archivist, Robert Bader. Unlike another historic recent discovery, Don Larsen's perfect pitching performance in game 5 of the '56 Series, the complete "Mazeroski game" was found in its entirety. The family made the kinescope available to MLB, and it is now, in the 50th anniversary year of the 1960 Series, available on DVD. The long-available highlight film (included as an extra) naturally fell short in capturing the excitement and drama of this epic Game 7 clash between the underdog Pirates and the overpowering Yankees, who were arguably at the peak of their long and storied dynasty. In fact, the Bombers outscored the Pirates 55-27 in the Series, and Game 7 was a high scoring back-and-forth battle royal that alternately seemed hopeless for both teams at various points, something which has become overshadowed by Mazeroski's home run. The formidable outfield arms of Roberto Clemente and Roger Maris figured prominently in this game, as did the base running agility of Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel's predilection for changing pitchers, and a less than perfectly manicured Forbes infield, which famously victimized Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek.
BLEACH SEVEN - VIZ Media
The arrancar are threatening the world of the living, and Ichigo's only chance of defeating them lies with the visoreds. And "Bleach Uncut Box Set 7" kicks off around round of shonen-action training -- this time focused on whipping the teenage protagonists into some kind of fighting shape. Ichigo finally comes to the visoreds for help controlling his inner hollow, and soon discovers that it's not his choice but theirs whether he'll learn from them. Before long, he's been thrown into a pitched battle with his inner hollow -- and as his monstrous body fights with the various visoreds, he goes through a terrifying ordeal inside his own head, with his life and soul in the balance.
MAMA FLORA'S FAMILY - Vivendi
This is a great movie about a strong lady who has survived so many upheavals in her life as a poor black woman who never loses her sense of self worth or the importance of integrity. Cicely Tyson is wonderful as always, and Erika Alexander has the ability to act well without saying a word as the young Flora. It takes a great actress to speak with her eyes the way Alexander did! A wonderful mixture of heartbreak, warmth, and hope fuel this story along, and Queen Latifah also proves herself to be one heck of an actress. I dare you to sit down and watch this wonderful movie that approaches individual accountability the right way without crying and smiling a lot. It's a rich story anybody can learn a lot from about making mistakes and taking steps to correct them.
ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS - Criterion
For those who love the older science fiction films with their wide eyed view of the future of science and space, or those who just love a good solo adventure into the wild, this is one of the more well made films from the Sci Fi 60s (the film also has an appearance from the soon-to-be TV Batman, Adam West). This 1964 space epic is in fact an adaptation of the classic Daniel Defoe novel, and it plays fair by logic and science. After his spaceship crash-lands on Mars, astronaut Paul Mantee must figure out how to survive on the hostile planet (shot mostly in Death Valley), aided only by a monkey from his ship. With a wonderful imagining of Mars and some War Of The Worlds like space ships (no wonder as Worlds Byron Haskin helmed this as well) this film is a great addition to any movie buffs library. If you like Forbidden Planet, this will be right up your alley.
SINS OF MY FATHER - Maya Entertainment
Incredible story of Pablo Escobar, the infamous boss of Columbia'a Medelllin drug cartel, told for the very first time by his son Sebastian and widow Maria Isabel Santos. In Nicolas Entel's film, Sebastian tells of his extraordinary childhood, growing up with a father he loved but whom he knew to be Columbia's number one enemy. This is also the story of two of Escobar's most prominent victims. The film follows Sebastian as he tries to break the cycle of revenge and assassination by seeking reconciliation with the sons of his fathers' victims.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: Season Four - Universal
All will be revealed as the thrilling final season of Battlestar Galactica lands on Blu-ray Hi-Def. From their initial action-packed battles against the Cylons to their desperate attempts to find the fabled 13th colony, Earth, a determined band of human survivors has captivated audiences everywhere with their desperate quest to find a new home for their dwindling numbers. Join them now as the fleet journeys into the farthest reaches of unexplored space and faces a crucial decision that will change all of their lives irrevocably. Containing all 20 Season Four episodes, this epic 6-disc set is loaded with hours of riveting bonus features and includes the unrated, extended version of Battlestar Galactica: Razor that never aired on television. Relive the anticipation, the action and the excitement of this groundbreaking series that is destined to live on as one of the best dramas on TV.
ADVENTURES OF POWER - Phase 4 Films
Adventures of Power is an epic comedy about a mine-worker named Power whose love of drums and lack of musical skill has turned him into the ridiculed air drummer; of his small town. But when Power's union-leader father calls a strike at the mine, Power discovers an underground subculture of air-drummers who just might hold the key to changing the world. Power's journey across America brings him face-to-face with his town's greatest enemy, and allows him to discover the beat within his own heart. Over 60 Minutes of Bonus Material including: Exclusive interview & drum-off with Rush Drummer Neil Peart Music video starring Adrian Grenier -Entourage- as Dallas! Deleted scenes featuring Jane Lynch Glee - Tim Heidecker & Eric Wareheim - Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Nick Kroll - The League - and more! Postcards from the set. Award winning short films by Ari Gold.
THE HESSEN CONSPIRACY - Anchor Bay
Frankfurt, Germany, 1945: The war is over, and a group of victorious U.S. Army officers take over a castle that formerly belonged to the German royal family. But when two of them uncover a massive cache of priceless gems, the lovers hatch a plan to loot the treasure. Now, all they'll have to do is smuggle the German Crown Jewels into New York City, dodge military investigators, con a murderous mob boss and steal back their stolen fortune...all without double-crossing each other first.
LEBANON: Blu-ray - Sony
Israeli-born director and writer Samuel Maoz brings his own experience as a bewildered young soldier in the war in Lebanon in 1982 front and center in his unforgettable drama Lebanon. Maoz's visceral, deeply personal view of war is limited to the inside of a single tank, sent by Israel as part of the offensive against Lebanon. The entire view of the battle and the war experience is seen through the eyes of four young soldiers--superbly acted by Yoav Donat, Itay Tiran, Oshri Cohen, and Michael Moshonov--who are confined to the tank's tiny interior. Their vision of war is limited to what they can see through the tank's small periscope--which means that at times, their "battlefield" might be a yard of chickens, or a group of young children playing with laundry flapping in the background, or, suddenly and randomly, an ambush of Lebanese soldiers. The tension is palpable in Lebanon, and its intensity, and raw honesty, help it deliver an extremely personal view of war in its chaotic brutality.
UFC 120: Bisping vs Akiyama - Anchor Bay
The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to London, England on Saturday, October 16, and the UK's best mixed martial artists will be on hand at the O2 Arena to defend their shores from a host of international stars. In the main event, former Ultimate Fighter winner Michael 'The Count' Bisping takes on Japan's Yoshihiro Akiyama in a pivotal middleweight clash. Plus, welterweight contenders Dan 'The Outlaw' Hardy and Carlos 'The Natural Born Killer' Condit collide in a highly anticipated battle, and British phenom John 'Hitman' Hathaway gets tested by veteran Mike 'Quicksand' Pyle.
MACHETE - Fox
As a tribute to both the hyperbolic excesses of 1970s drive-in cinema and the fearsome screen persona of veteran character actor Danny Trejo, producer-writer-codirector Robert Rodriguez's Machete is, in grindhouse parlance, one mean mother. A full-length version of Rodriguez's faux "Mexsploitation" trailer in Grindhouse, Machete sketches, in the boldest strokes possible, the adventures of its titular hero (Trejo), a former federal agent turned day laborer after losing his wife and child to a katana-wielding drug lord (Steven Seagal, of all people). Recruited by shady businessman Jeff Fahey (Lost) to assassinate a rabble-rousing senator (Robert De Niro) with a particular hate vibe for immigrants, Machete soon finds himself the target of government agents, border vigilantes (led by Don Johnson!), and about half the state of Texas. Unfortunately, none seem to realize the film's central thesis: Machete's business is killing, and business is booming.
PAPER MAN - MPI
Paper Man is quite simply a fantastic movie. I haven't been this emotionally affected by a film since Gran Torino. Emma Stone and Jeff Daniels' characters compliment each other perfectly. One has seemingly never grown up, while the other has been deprived of their childhood. The way that they form such a truly unique friendship and help each other to find out what's missing inside of them, keeping them from moving on with their respective lives, is amazing to watch unfold. These two characters seem very different at first, but you eventually come to find that they rely on the same type of crutch to help them function, albeit not all that well, in normal society. The movie also certainly doesn't take it self too seriously, with just enough moments of levity to keep the story grounded. The movie is a winner from beginning to end and I can attest to the fact that Paper Man stays great through multiple viewings; with it's top-notch acting and unbelievably gripping ending. The ending is one of the most poignant and moving cinematic experiences I've ever had.
THE NARNIA CODE - E1 Entertainment
The Narnia Code was an interesting movie to watch. I loved getting the back history of C.S. Lewis, from what happened in his childhood to how he became a Christian and his writing. It was also interesting to see his relationship with J R Tolkien and how they fed off each other in the early years and what Tolkien thought about the Narnia books. Michael Ward theory really makes sense and would explain the "crazy" meaning behind some of the Narnia books. I don't know much about the old ways of astronomy but Mr Ward gives a great explanation behind it all. I even respect the fact there are many scholars of C. S. Lewis' books/life that agree with Ward's theory. If you are a C. S. Lewis fan or just a Narnia fan this is a great film to watch. You will get some great insight and history on one of history's best authors and debaters and find the hidden meaning of the Narnia books. It's a short film but interesting film at just under an hour.
ALPHA AND OMEGA - Lionsgate
Love is blind to the rules of tradition, opposites attract, and both clichés apply quite nicely to the wolves in Alpha and Omega. In the wolf world, the pack values the omega wolves' skill of defusing tense situations with humor just as much as they value the keen leadership skills of the alpha wolves, but tradition dictates that alpha wolves don't mate with omega wolves. So, when the all-business alpha wolf Kate (Hayden Panettiere) and the fun-seeking omega wolf Humphrey (Justin Long) find themselves attracted to one another, the pair resign themselves to a life apart, and Kate agrees to a match with alpha male Garth (Chris Carmack) from a rival pack in order to peacefully merge the two packs into one. But when Humphrey and Kate are tranquilized in their home in Jasper National Forest, Canada, and relocated to Sawtooth Forest far away in Idaho, the two discover that not only can opposites work very well together, but that neither of them can continue to ignore their attraction for the other. The question is, will working together, combined with a little help from a golf-playing goose and his duck caddy, be enough to get the pair all the way back to Jasper National Park before the rival wolf packs tear one another apart at the next full moon?