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.
JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never is the inspiring true story and rare inside look at the rise of Justin from street performer in the small town of Stratford, Ontario to internet phenomenon to global super star culminating with a dream sold out show at the famed Madison Square Garden in 3-D.
What you have in Never Say Never is a gratuitous love letter to the Bieber fandom that focuses an inside glimpse into a week in the life of the 16 year old tween heart throb. Watching this film and seeing the tweeners through their words of love and adoration to the Bieber, frankly gets a bit old. However, I am sure I am in the minority of those folks who dropped $15 to see the film in 3D. Hearing the screams of the jackals throughout the auditorium every time a well placed shirtless shot of the envious teen hit the screen made my stomach churn even more. I haven't seen this level of exhibitionism since Showgirls, and I don't like it. This film is a perfect example as to why child labor laws should be more strictly enforced. More on that later.
Director Jon Chu has served up this massive picture that flip flops between a documentary and a concert/video that details it's Canadian subject and provides glimpses into his child hood. The film climaxes with a sold out Madison Square Garden concert. The problem with the film is that it really doesn't know it's own identity, which has a tendency to grind to a halt in terms of momentum. Chu masterfully throws in shirtless shot of the boy wonder at times such as this - or even a close up of the kid as he flips his hair. Yes, that's right. Anyone have a trash can handy?
One cannot argue the success or talent of the Boy Bieber. He is talented and it's obvious the tweeners absolutely love him. It really is a shame, however, that he has no childhood - which is something he yearns for in front of his vocal coach. It's obvious how much he yearns for a childhood when he is with his boyhood friends in Canada. The biggest shame of this film is that Bieber rarely ever speaks in the film. Others are constantly speaking for him. I don't particularly care for Justin Bieber's music or his performances, however, the masses disagree. From a film standpoint, folks will attend in droves. Just goes to show you how far society has diluted it's own expectations.
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
Starring: Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus & Sean Kingston
Director: Jon M. Chu
Now Showing: in Local Theaters
MPAA Rating: G
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of Beauty and the Briefcase or Fun on the Farm, 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!
LOVE AT FIRST KILL - Anchor Bay
Love At First Kill is a provocative thriller about seduction, deception, madness and murder. Harry is a young artist who lives with his overprotective widowed mother, Beth. But when a sexy divorcee moves next-door, Beth's paranoia triggers a chain of events that will shatter their worlds forever. This film has it all and you're gonna love it!
THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE: Blu-ray - Criterion
One of Krzysztof Kieslowski's finest films is "The Double Life of Veronique" ("La Double vie de Véronique"). It's not just a philosophical, arty film, but a subtle and unique tale full of Kieslowski's directorial magic, and gives Irène Jacob a chance to shine in her most challenging role. There are two women, the Polish Weronika and the French Veronique (both played by Irène Jacob). They have never met, never spoken, and do not know that the other exists. They share the same losses and the same health. Weronika is a singer, and Veronique is taking singing lessons. But their lives and souls are bound together, and their personalities are yin-yang opposites, one practical and one a stargazer. What is more, each has the strange feeling that she is, somehow, not alone in the world. One night, Weronika dies onstage while singing. Suddenly in France, Veronique is stricken with a strange feeling, and stops taking her lessons. Weronika has died, but she still lives. Soon she begins to explore, searching for the truth about her double life, and a strange puppeteer who somehow is a link between both girls.
GLORIOUS 39 - E1 Entertainment
I expected this to be a historical movie about the British movement to appease Germany just before World War 2, with a murder mystery thrown in. However, its purpose is to be a horror movie, which is a bit confusing. Viewers are forced to continually watch a sensitive, beautiful and likeable young woman increasingly betrayed by almost everyone she loves. She's lied to, humiliated, imprisoned, starved, terrorized, and is forced to watch her friends brutally murdered or discover their corpses. If you empathize with her, and it's hard not to, it feels like being psychologically tortured yourself. There are a number of qualities this film has that are positive and it is ultimately worth checking out.
I AM ALIVE: Surviving the Andes Plane Crash - History
In 1972 a chartered plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby squad and various family members crashed in the Andes. The real-life against-all-odds odyssey made worldwide headlines when it became known that the survivors ate their own dead to survive. What could have easily become sensationalistic exploitation is treated with compassion and dignity by those that were there as they explore their moral and spiritual struggles as well as their physical ordeal. As team captain and base-camp cheerleader to the young adult that lost his family, the survivors work to taking charge of saving themselves. The film is clearly a portrait in leadership, hope, and emotional courage.
HOODWINKED - Vivendi
Hoodwinked fuses the classic fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood with the crisscrossing story lines of film noir--pretty ambitious stuff for a computer-animated cartoon. The police cordon off Grandma's cottage and an amphibious version of William Powell named Nicky Flippers (voiced by David Ogden Stiers) begins interrogating the suspects: A Little Red in bell-bottoms (Anne Hathaway), a Wolf turned investigative journalist (Patrick Warburton), a snow-boarding Granny (Glenn Close, 101 Dalmatians), and a dimwitted would-be Woodsman (Jim Belushi), each of whom have very different reasons for ending up in that cottage living room. The visual style of Hoodwinked mixes a clunky, video-game look with an homage to the stop-motion puppetry of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and other Rankin-Bass holiday specials.
WHAT EVER HAPPENED T PINK FLOYD? - Sexy Intellectual
One of the most popular rock groups of the 1970s, Pink Floyd achieved superstar status despite being routinely experimental and often downright bizarre. Indeed the group have proven an enormous influence on numerous contemporary bands - stand up Muse, Radiohead, Linkin Park and 100 others - and remain a wholly credible name to drop more than 30 years since Punk Rock was supposed to have killed off their kind of 'progressive nonsense'. This film traces the path Floyd took after the recording of the Animals album - an era when cracks in the band first started to show - and brings the strange story of the group and the intense relationship between Waters and Gilmour right up to date with the unexpected collaboration of these two maverick musicians at a 2010 charity event. Featuring numerous interviews with Waters, Gilmour, Wright & Mason, liberally interspersed with classic and rare performance footage, plus contributions from friends, colleagues and the finest rock journalists.
PUPPETS WHO KILL: Best of Season Three & Four
The Best of Season 3 & 4 feature some of the best episodes in the series. Joyride has one of the greatest one liners ever from Rocko that alone makes this worth getting. I'm convinced that it's one of the greatest comedy series of any genre on broadcast television. Top notch writing, acting and directing. Just to give you a sense of my comedic sensibilities I would also put Strangers with Candy and The League of Gentlemen in this realm as well. If you like dark dark comedy - you can't go wrong with this series.
GLEE: Season Two, Volume One - Fox
Glee unexpectedly took the TV and music scene by storm following its debut in 2009, and by the end of the first season it was a multimedia juggernaut (and is poised to expand further). Anticipation for its return reached a fever pitch over the summer, with people wondering where it would go, and whether it would become a victim of its own success - the answer is, a little bit. The first ten episodes of the season have plenty of strengths compared to the first season, but also many of the same weaknesses, and others that the first season (particularly the first half) didn't have. As an aside, one can debate the merits of whether you want to buy the season in volumes or as a whole, but it's fairly upfront about the choice, so I don't see the reason to base a review around that. You can decide for yourself whether you want the set now or want to wait until summer of next year for the whole thing.
HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE: Season Two - History
How the Earth Was Made is the History channel's detailed look at specific areas of the planet and how they came to be shaped the way they are. The title of the series sounds like they would explain how Earth came into being with the Big Bang theory in one episode and boom! be done, but this is the second season so they've really stretched out individual landmarks. This series starts off with places like The Grand Canyon and its carving by the Colorado river among other things, Mt. Vesuvius and its ability to possibly kill 3 million people in Naples if it erupts, and then in the third episode finally gets into the actual planet formation or "Birth of the Earth". Does this mean it wasn't covered in the first season?? Other great episodes include Sahara where you find out it was once covered in ice and grew lots of plant life, and much more in the way of mountains, valleys, volcanoes in general, ice ages, and fascinatingly enough, the concentration of gold around the world.
THE GUARDIAN: The Final Season - Paramount
Nick Fallin is a hotshot lawyer working at his father's ultra successful Pittsburgh law firm. Unfortunately, the high life has gotten the best of Nick. Arrested for drug use, he's sentenced to do 1,500 hours of community service, somehow to be squeezed into his 24/7 cutthroat world of mergers, acquisitions and board meetings. Reluctantly, he's now The Guardian - a part-time child advocate at Legal Aid Services, where one case after another is an eye-opening instance of kids caught up in difficult circumstances.
FRESH FIELDS: Set One - Acorn
Funny mid-life couple who are actually in love, not badgering each other. They go about their day, he an accountant, she (40) on the constant search of new creative outlets. Viewers do not have to be beyond their 30s to enjoy these mated mates. Hester (Julia McKenzie-`Miss Marple' `Cranford') creates the plots with her newest activity adventure. William (Anton Rodgers-`Lillie' `Dirty rotten Scoundrels' `Affairs of the Heart' `Noah's Ark') saves her or plays along. Always a surprise laugh to end each episode. Neighbor Sonja (Ann Beach) and Hester's mom, Nancy (Fanny Rowe) who lives in the granny house out back, add spark, humor, and the odd situation. Very family oriented, the exception being 2 fast shots of bare upper chest, and a couple of nude paintings that Hester created in art class.
THE SHADOW OF THE TOWER - BBC
Having aired on BBC2 in 1972, The Shadow of the Tower appears so authentic historically that it feels much, much older. Focusing on the rise of King Henry VII and the Tudor Dynasty, this 13-episode miniseries sheds light on not only what it took for a man to have usurped the throne in the 15th century, but also his difficulties in keeping it. Any viewer who has interest in the politics of royalty, as well as viewers who admire the cultural aesthetic of the Middle Ages, will find this program both pleasing to the eyes and highly dramatic. The episodes, having had several different writers, vary in dramatic tone and subject matter, ranging from focus on royal celebrations and fanfare, to religious and cultural matters of the time, to the ways Henry Tudor maintained rule while staving off various threats to the crown. Simply brilliant and a must own for fans of the golden age of television.
THE FUGITIVE: Season Four, Volume Two - Paramount
These final 15 episodes from the 1966-67 season complete this outstanding series. The first half of the fourth season was this series' lowest point. Still, by the standards of most television series, that's pretty darn good. But by the standards of The Fugitive, there's no question the first half of this season took a marked dip in quality as compared to the previous three seasons. The drop in quality through the first half of the final season was likely due in part to the replacement of producer Alan Armer with Wilton Schiller. Armer had gone to work on another Quinn Martin production that year, the sci-fi series The Invaders. However, partway through the season writer George Eckstein was brought aboard and the quality of the episodes soon began to reach soaring heights once again. This collection of the second half of the fourth and final season is noticeably stronger than the first half of the season.
MEMENTO: 10th Anniversary - Lionsgate
Guy Pearce and Joe Pantoliano shine in this absolute stunner of a movie. Memento combines a bold, mind-bending script with compelling action and virtuoso performances. Pearce plays Leonard Shelby, hunting down the man who raped and murdered his wife. The problem is that "the incident" that robbed Leonard of his wife also stole his ability to make new memories. Unable to retain a location, a face, or a new clue on his own, Leonard continues his search with the help of notes, Polaroids, and even homemade tattoos for vital information. Because of his condition, Leonard essentially lives his life in short, present-tense segments, with no clear idea of what's just happened to him. That's where Memento gets really interesting; the story begins at the end, and the movie jumps backward in 10-minute segments. The suspense of the movie lies not in discovering what happens, but in finding out why it happened. Amazingly, the movie achieves edge-of-your-seat excitement even as it moves backward in time, and it keeps the mind hopping as cause and effect are pieced together.
MIDSOMER MURDERS: Set Seventeen - Acorn
Based on a set of only seven novels by Caroline Graham (beginning with The Killings at Badger's Drift), Midsomer Murders is a long-running and very popular series that debuted in the U.K. in 1997. The series features the likable Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) and is set in the fictional English county of Midsomer which consists of several villages each of which seems to rival Cabot Cove, Maine for their improbably high murder rates. Agatha Christie, the world's most successful mystery writer, considered plot to be of utmost importance when crafting her stories. Graham, on the other hand, has said that she prefers to start out with interesting characters and allow the plot to form around them. And it is certainly the characters that are the centerpiece of Midsomer Murders. Unusual, odd and memorable are all words that could be used to describe the show's colorful collection of villagers - including the murderers, the victims and the bystanders, very few of whom could be described as "innocent". Part police procedural, part quirky cozy, part traditional whodunit, Midsomer Murders should appeal to a variety of murder mystery fans. Even after seeing nearly 70 episodes, I find the show remains dependably entertaining with strong writing, intricate plots and uniformly first-rate acting. Episodes exist more or less independent of one another and need not be viewed in broadcast order. However, because of Barnaby's changing Detective Sergeants over the years, viewers might wish to do so.
WAITING FOR SUPERMAN - Paramount
In a documentary sure to get parents and teachers talking--and arguing--An Inconvenient Truth director Davis Guggenheim offers an eye-opening overview of America's ailing educational system. Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, serves as his primary speaker. As a kid in the Bronx, Canada learned that Superman didn't exist, which broke his heart, but also inspired him to help other underprivileged children. Aside from Canada and Washington, DC, school chancellor Michelle Rhee, Guggenheim profiles Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, engaging young people without access to institutions adequate to their needs (Guggenheim concentrates on the inner city). Bianca's single mother, for instance, sends her daughter to a private facility in New York, but that ends when she can no longer afford the tuition. The five families choose the charter school option, but not every child will win the lottery, since applicants outnumber spaces (in Bianca's case, 767 apply for 35 slots). Guggenheim also questions teachers' unions, which sometimes act against the best interests of students. He's particularly concerned about under performing instructors who suffer no disciplinary measures due to tenure, but he credits the dedicated professionals who help at-risk kids beat the odds. The film ends with a potentially happy outcome for one subject, but updates on the others fail to materialize.
IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY - Universal
When 16-year-old Craig (Keir Gilchrist) gets admitted to a psychiatric ward, he's hoping for a quick fix for his suicidal impulses--but then he learns he can't leave for five days… which turn out to be the most transformative days of his life. It's Kind of a Funny Story takes a fairly thread-worn premise--that the mentally disturbed have life lessons to offer the supposedly sane--and breathes some fresh life into it with generous writing and solid performances. Craig's most important relationship is with Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), a troubled father who transfers some parental affection to Craig; the conversations between the two of them are above and away the heart of the movie--a genuine and nuanced portrait of two people grappling with depression and neurosis. Standup comedian Galifianakis is turning into one of those character actors who give every movie they're in a boost; his performance here is honest, sensitive, and without a shred of self-pity or pandering.
NEW TRICKS: Season Three - Acorn
In an ocean of police shows competing for screen space, New Tricks has one heck of a trump card. For while its plot lines aren’t particularly radical, and while the pace is perhaps gentler than you may expect, its cast greedily devour the material and lift a good show into something really quite special. The premise behind New Tricks is that three retired detectives are called in to work as a mismatched team of sorts to solve crimes. So far, so routine. But those three detectives are played by Dennis Waterman, James Bolam and Alun Armstrong, a trio who can not only act, but are also capable of maximising the comedy potential on offer. Then, there’s the juicy inclusion of Amanda Redman, who brought the three of them back together in the first place. Combined, these four are clearly having a terrific time with the show, and it’s fun we’re all invited to share in.
BARNEY: Jump Into Spring - Lionsgate
This is a great DVD and it actually reminds me of watching the Sprout kids channel. It features eight great episodes of eight different characters. The characters are all appropriate for both boys and girls too so it is nice for families with both genders or kids who like variety. The characters on this DVD also are great because not all of them have their own DVDs out that I've seen like Kipper and Roary The Racing Car. All the episodes includes fun activities and get kids thinking about Springtime! I just really love the variety and that I can please both boys with one DVD, it is also a decent length of 65 minutes. I haven't seen a DVD with so many characters on it and for the price it is a great deal! The entire DVD in general is great to watch because all the episodes focus on preschoolers and teach great lessons like team work, playing nice, and listening.
WISHBONE - Lionsgate
Let your imagination run wild with your favorite dog, Wishbone. The adventurous little terrier takes you on fantastic journeys inside your favorite storybook tales. Join the Merry Men and follow Robin Hood in the "Paw Prints of Thieves" as he robs from the rich to give to the poor. In "Hot Diggety Dawg" and "The Impawssible Dream," band together with Don Quixote and Jules Verne’s Professor Liedenbrock to vanquish giants and monsters. In "Hunchdog of Notre Dame," escape danger as Wishbone rescues maidens and defeats his evil master. This clever pup with a nose for adventure will delight and inspire the whole family.
HOW I MARRIED MY HIGH SCHOOL CRUSH - A&E
Oh the woes of a seventeen year old, right? Sara, portrayed by Katee Sackhoff, is in love with Brian. The big man on campus has been her focus ever since preschool but like most kids in love, the object of her affection doesn't even know she is there. A solar eclipse transports them from 1990 to their actual wedding day in 2007, Sara is elated that her dream actually came true. After a short period of time, they realize that although they are now in their mid 30's, they have the minds and bodies of the 17 year old kids, pre transport. This is a love story with out the corn! The pacing is good and the story is somewhat original. Worth a watch!