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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.


 

MOVIE REVIEWS

KICK ASS

Mark Millar's violent comic tale of wannabe superheroes is adapted by writer-director Matthew Vaughn with this Marv Films production. Aaron Johnson stars as a teen who steps out of his house one day with a mask and a painted baseball bat and starts to fight crime even though he has no superpowers. Lyndsy Fonseca co-stars as the character's object of desire, with Nicolas Cage also appearing as an ex-cop whose hatred of a drug lord forces him to train his daughter to be a lethal vigilante. His precocious daughter is portrayed by Chloe Moretz, who is the cle

r star and motor that keeps this film running throughout the presentation.
There isn't a theatergoer that I have met that has seen this film that isn't charged up about it. Kids defying common sense to become charged up, low octane super heroes? Are you serious? Yes, they actually are indeed. The best, or worst of it depending upon your perspective, is the eleven year old Hit Girl (Moretz) who stabs, machetes and shoots bullets into her prey with the same gusto in which she sprays profanity at her opposition. The language and violence is sure to surprise everyone, but not nearly as much as the realization of just how outstanding this film is from beginning to end. The writing, acting and direction all show the cohesiveness of a sure fire cult favorite. It becomes clear, midway through the film, this presentation is somewhat of a juxtaposition of a Spaghetti Western and Kill Bill performed by secondary school kids. The film packs a punch, will keep your interest keen and will have you laughing and shocked at the same time. No moral compass? No problem here. This is the perfect popcorn flick for your enjoyment as is the best film of 2010 so far.

Kick Ass
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Aaron Johnson & Chloe Moretz
Director: Matthew Vaughan
Company: Lions Gate
Now Showing: in Theaters
MPAA Rating: R
Grade: A


WorldFest Houston

It's that time, Houston!  Our very own original film festival is here again for all fans of cinema to enjoy!  The WorldFest events begin on Friday, April 9 and continue through Saturday, April 17.  WorldFest, founded in 1961, is the third oldest International film festival in the United States and the oldest Independent Film Festival in the world. This annual event has evolved into a competitive Independent International film festival showcasing the rising stars of tomorrow! WorldFest is managed by Hunter Todd and Kathleen Haney.  The festival has a number of world premiere films as well as a number of other categories of motion pictures for everyone to enjoy.  All films within the WorldFest festival will be shown at the AMC Studio 30 on Dunvale in Houston.  Ticket information as well as the schedule of films is available online at www.worldfest.org.

Here are some snippets of some of the tremendous films available at Worldfest this year that you simply don't want to miss:

What does a man experience when he's reaching his last breath when he's between heaven and hell? Houstonian Corey Seymour's film tells a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat with impressive performances, audacious action and a story that will keep you guessing until the end. Point of Death will screen on Wednesday, April 14th at 9:00 pm.

The tale of a down on his luck freeze dried pet salesman and his journey to become the first ever cyber evangelist. The film is absolutely hilarious! Somewhat in the vein of Napoleon Dynamite, the performances click with one another in perfect synchronization. Worth a second viewing and a must see! There is only one shot for you to catch this screening and that will be on Friday, April 16 at 7:00 pm.

When a newly divorced Dad (Paul Wolff) suddenly moves in with his son (Josh Dean) and joins him in the singles scene, comedic complications soon begin to occur. The performances in this film are nearly impeccable. The story is original, believable and it the pacing is outstanding. Have watched it twice already and like it both times. This is a keeper! The screening will take place on Saturday, April 17th at 5:00 pm.

An ensemble crew of 11 New Yorkers who are coming to terms with the aftermath of 9/11 find their strength in their musical talents and create this poignant musical.  Catchy musical numbers pepper this film.  A strong presentation that is sure to please all who see the film.  The screening will be on Saturday, April 17th at 9:00 pm.

A Tribute to Dennis Hopper, this is a newly restored 35mm print of the great American Classic Film starring Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. If you have a brain in your head and any interest in film whatsoever, you won't miss this epic showing. There are two screenings of this restored American classic! Sunday, April 18th at 5:00 and 9:00 pm.


DVD REVIEWS

Set in the chillingly possible future of 2054, Steven Spielberg's Minority Report is arguably the most intelligently provocative sci-fi thriller since Blade Runner. Like Ridley Scott's "future noir" classic, Spielberg's gritty vision was freely adapted from a story by Philip K. Dick, with its central premise of "Precrime" law enforcement, totally reliant on three isolated human "precogs" capable (due to drug-related mutation) of envisioning murders before they're committed. As Precrime's confident captain, Tom Cruise preempts these killings like a true action hero, only to run for his life when he is himself implicated in one of the precogs' visions.

Dave (Jason Lee) isn't exactly the typical father figure with an average family, but he cares deeply about his adoptive chipmunks Alvin (Justin Long), Theodore (Jesse McCartney), and Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler). While the performing life presents its own unique challenges, Dave always does his best to instill a sense of compassion and familial love into his young charges. When Alvin begins to get a little too caught up in his own stardom, Dave reminds him to share the spotlight with his fellow chipmunks, but Alvin gets carried away and ends up inadvertently injuring Dave on location in Paris. Aunt Jackie (Kathryn Joosten) steps in to look after the Chipmunks, but when her wheelchair rolls down a flight of stairs, only her irresponsible grandson Toby (Zachary Levi) is left to watch over the boys. An unemployed video gamer who lives with Jackie, Toby is completely unprepared for the responsibility of caring for the Chipmunks, but he agrees nonetheless. Starting school is not easy for the Chipmunks, and they are the target of bullying from their very first day. But Alvin eventually works his way in with the popular crowd, leaving Theodore and Simon to fend for themselves with little support from Toby.

Stoic is entirely set in a prison cell shared by four prisoners. An argument during a card game soon spiral into bullying, violence and death. This film is quite different from most of Uwe Boll's other movies is not light entertainment. It's a 90 minute study in human cruelty and violence. It's brutal and disturbing and certainly not for all tastes but it's fascinating in a way and the actors all do a good job.

John Skillpa, a quiet bank clerk living in tiny Peacock, Nebraska, prefers to live an invisible life. Then, in a moment, everything changes. A train caboose runs off its tracks and crashes into John’s backyard and destroys more than the weathered planks of his wood fence. When neighbors descend on the scene, they discover John’s other personality, Emma, for the first time and mistakenly believe her to be John’s wife. This launches John into the glare of the spotlight and eventually shatters the delicate balance of his sanity.

Director Peter Jackson takes a personal, risky leap in his direction of the film version of Alice Sebold's bestselling novel The Lovely Bones. Yet the leap pays off, in emotional depth and riveting visuals that transport the viewer to other worlds--even ones the viewer may not want to visit. The Lovely Bones is lofted by its star-making performance by the young Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), who plays Susie Salmon, the 14-year-old girl who is murdered early in the film, and who narrates the action from her "in-between place" after dying but before going to heaven. Ronan makes Susie as earthy and awkward as any young teen, yet her presence, and her gorgeous pale eyes, remind viewers that she's otherworldly too. The Lovely Bones takes some big departures from the book, as many critics have pointed out, but it works well on its own merits. The drama involves how (even whether) Susie's family will recover after her ghastly murder, and what happens to her killer and the futile-seeming search for justice and closure.

Perry Mason is an attorney who specializes in defending seemingly indefensible cases. With the aid of his secretary Della Street and investigator Paul Drake, he often finds that by digging deeply into the facts, startling facts can be revealed. Often relying on his outstanding courtroom skills, he often tricks or traps people into unwittingly admitting their guilt. Watch the perfectionist in action is this ground breaking television show!

The world's oldest sitcom drifts into the '80s with the further adventures of the intrepid trio, now with two complete UK seasons together in one action-packed set! Compo, Clegg, and Foggy are not slowing down the least bit--whether it involves a chance encounter with an unwilling and resentful dog, hunting for a serviceable pair of new jeans, volunteering for the Animal Church Concert Party, or Compo revealing an unnatural desire to have his photograph taken in that most forbidden territory: Nora Batty's bathroom!

The Broken Lizard gang is back with The Slammin' Salmon, a rowdy comedy that spends a night in a restaurant of the same name. Boxer Cleon Salmon (Michael Clarke Duncan, 1999 Academy Award nominee for The Green Mile) owns the swanky eatery and needs to raise fast cash to settle a gambling debt. He challenges his hapless crew to a contest to see who can up-sell the most in order to reach his goal of $20,000 before closing time. Director Kevin Heffernan sets a rapid-fire pace loaded with pratfalls, spit takes, food fights, and bathroom humor.

For J.R. Ewing, Season 13 is as unlucky as a steer at a Texas barbecue. He starts by lying and cheating Ewing Oil to the brink of destruction and ends by kicking and screaming in a psychiatric hospital. In between he tires of his pretty young wife, seethes while Cliff Barnes's political star rises and bumps into a past he didn’t know he had. Meanwhile, Clayton and Miss Ellie investigate a multiple-murder mystery, folks from seasons past unexpectedly return to stir up trouble and Bobby stays busy removing J.R.’s knives from his back, chasing after a Pam look-alike, and bringing a new Mrs. Ewing to Southfork. Y'all come ’round and meet the happy couple!

Known for her passionate performances, Barbara Stanwyck was one of the brightest stars to ever grace the silver screen. Equally captivating in heavy dramas (Sorry, Wrong Number), lighthearted comedies (The Lady Eve), and dark film noirs (Double Indemnity), she is considered one of the best among Hollywood’s leading ladies. This collection of 6 rare films includes Internes Can’t Take Money, The Great Man’s Lady, The Bride Wore Boots, The Lady Gambles, All I Desire and There’s Always Tomorrow. Featuring co-stars such as Joel McCrea, Fred MacMurray and Robert Preston, The Barbara Stanwyck Collection is a glimpse into the career of one of cinema’s most enduring screen legends. Internes Can't Take Money (1937) Bullets fly and tensions rise when a desperate woman (Barbara Stanwyck) must turn to Dr. Kildare (Joel McCrea) for help getting her child back from gangsters. The Great Man's Lady (1942) A reflective 100-year-old woman (Barbara Stanwyck) looks back on her life and how her extraordinary sacrifice helped her husband (Joel McCrea) become one of the nation’s greatest men. The Bride Wore Boots (1946) It’s a comedy of errors when a bookish husband (Robert Cummings) tries to win back the affections of his horse-breeding wife (Barbara Stanwyck). The Lady Gambles (1949) When novice gambler Joan Booth (Barbara Stanwyck) bets it all – and loses – she is thrust into a downward spiral from which only her devoted husband (Robert Preston) can save her. All I Desire (1953) New scandals erupt and old ones resurface when an aging stage actress (Barbara Stanwyck) returns to her small hometown and the family she abandoned ten years earlier. There's Always Tomorrow (1956) In this romantic tale of passion, an unlucky-in-love fashion designer (Barbara Stanwyck) must decide if she should succumb to her feelings for a married man (Fred MacMurray).

Hop aboard Trains to enjoy 25 captivating films and more than 30 hours of North America s most historic railroads and scenic train routes on a 24-DVD collector s set. The documentary films in this complete motion picture library showcase everything from backyard model trains to diesel-powered super liners. Revisit the glory days of steam engines, ride to work on contemporary commuter trains, travel famous routes on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, and take in all four seasons along North America s railroad system. Trains explores the rich history of North America s railroad system with more than 30 hours of footage, featuring informative commentary, and all the sights and sounds that accompany train travel. Reminisce about a time when life moved a little slower, catch up with one of the busiest commuter trains in the United States, learn something new or enjoy the scenery along the way. With 24 DVDs in Trains, there s sure to be something for everyone.

With more than 85 films from the United States National Archives, you can see America at war through the eyes of the people who were actually there in Century of War. This special 24-DVD set includes recently released and rarely seen films of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Nuremberg trials and more. Witness World War I and II, the Korean, Vietnam and the Cold wars as they really happened, from historical newsreel footage to documentaries, shot and narrated by top Hollywood enlistees, including John Huston, John Ford, Charlton Heston and Ronald Reagan.

 

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