Nick's Pics Nick
Nicholson Film & Home Entertainment Critic
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Based on the cult D.C. Comics graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, RED is an explosive action-comedy that focuses on Frank (Bruce Willis), Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren). They used to be the CIA's top agents - but the secrets they know just made them the Agency's top targets. Now framed for assassination, they must use all of their collective cunning, experience and teamwork to stay one step ahead of their deadly pursuers and stay alive. To stop the operation, the team embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in government history.
The group of targets are amicably portrayed by this award winning cast. Helen Mirren continues to show her abilities to metamorphosize herself into whatever character she can. Whether serious or comedic, Mirren is clearly at the top of her craft. The chemistry between all of the leads is impeccable and it doesn't hurt that the script was penned by the enigmatic team of Jon and Erich Hoeber. The film is clearly full of one liners and comedic slaps that are sure to make the audience chuckle. Red is an adventure of the highest sort, with characters you simply have to root for, regardless of their quirky behavior.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren & Morgan Freeman
Director: Robert Schwentke
Now Showing: in area theaters
MPAA Rating: PG-13
The synopsis of the film says it all. Supernatural forces hover over the small Texas town of Backroad in this devilishly intriguing thriller. While his mother and the town’s church pay tribute to his recently deceased father, Jasper Hawkins (Matthew Carter) recovers from the previous night in a sleazy motel room. The long walk back home along desolate country roads gives him time to reflect on the disturbing last memory of his dying father and the previous night’s events. A likeable yet unnerving traveling salesman (Greg Dean) offers Jasper a ride leading him on a bloody road trip culminating in the revelation of a dark family secret.
It isn't often that a diamond in the rough is discovered. Wayne Slaten, the chef behind Backroad, has mixed together a masterpiece that represents the best in independent film I have seen in years. The performances are strong from all corners of the film, particularly that of Greg Dean who portrays Joseph Iblis, the traveling salesman who provides the fulcrum to the story. When Joseph utters the catchphrase that defines this film, "Are you ready to go, Jasper Hawkins," it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Matthew Carter's performance as the earily guarded Jasper Hawkins leaves the viewer unnerved and feeling somewhat confused - which is actually perfect for this role. The chemistry and interaction between both Dean and Carter took this film to the next level with their brilliant timing and performance cadence. The soul-wrenching scenes with Jasper's mother (Julia P. Oliver-Touchstone) dealing with her internal issues, provides the soul to the film - literally. Of course these performances would not have come together so well without the watchful eye and vision of the director, Wayne Slaten, who also served numerous positions throughout the project. His direction of the film aside, it's my opinion the cinematography of the film (also Slaten) was some of the most impressive behind the scenes work. This film is anything but predictable and is without question worth checking out. You can catch Backroad at the West Oaks Alamo Drafthouse Cinema's Houston Horrorfest this Thursday, October 14 at 7:30 pm. Don't be a stiff - get out and see this film!
Starring: Matthew Carter, Greg
Dean & Elizabeth McCain
Director: Wayne Slaten
Now Showing: Houston Horror Fest - Alamo Drafthouse West Oaks Mall
MPAA Rating: NR
THE DEVIL WITHIN
The Devil Within takes place in the Hollywood hills, where Serina is celebrating her eighteen birthday. Before the party, she and her friends are spooked when a street preacher tells them that doom is coming to them. They ignore these warnings and decide to have a night of sex, drugs, and alcohol with all their high school friends. Soon Serina’s party is going to come to a crashing end, as she finds out that the high school principal has a sick fixation over her and someone is killing all the guest as her birthday party is becoming one big bloodbath.
Most first time directors fall into a trap as they put their films together, but refreshingly Tom Hardy doesn't fall into that trap. Hardy keeps the interest of the audience by creating waves of tension throughout the film. Many think they know what is waiting around the corner, yet as the film progresses, you find your more wrong than right. The performances were admirable, particularly those of Bill Oberst (Principal Edwards) and Elizabeth Bell (Karen). Oberst portrayal as the principal was beyond creepy and was perfect in every way. Elizabeth Bell exuded the perfect amount of evil skank to make you cheer when she bites it, however her performance was extremely well done. Hardy did an admirable job keeping control and conducting the performances of the cast through peaks and valleys - not allowing too much or too little tension at any time. Matt Dean's screenplay is very well done and isn't of the usual slasher film fodder. Dean has written a story with character development and plot lines that aren't simply predictable (big surprise, I know). This film has a point and a twist to it that you won't see coming. Check this film out today. With Halloween coming soon, it's the perfect time!
The Devil Within
Starring: Elizabeth Di Prinzio, Sarah Harrison & Grey Damon
Director: Tom Hardy
Company: Seminal Films
Now Showing: DVD
MPAA Rating: NR
FREE DVD GIVEAWAY
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of Bloody Reunion, Tetsuo the Iron Man, Lady Vengeance, Princess, Eric Sardinas and Big Motor Live, Two and a Half Men: Season Seven or Outsourced, 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 DVD or Blu-ray you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing. Best of luck!
LEAVES OF GRASS - First Look
Leaves of Grass isn't a movie that you can easily categorize. While it doesn't offer up laughs every few minutes, it's still a clever comedy in the vein of a Coen Brothers film. But you also can't quite call it a black comedy completely in the spirit of Burn After Reading or Fargo. It's equal parts crime drama, humor, romance and philosophy. The film revolves around the intertwining lives of two identical twins, played by the incredibly talented Edward Norton. Ivy League philosophy professor Bill Kincaid is lured back to his Oklahoma hometown as part of a scheme cooked up by Mary Jane growing brother Brady. The first half hour of the film moves slowly but quickly gains momentum when the two siblings eventually cross paths.
LOCK N LOAD - CBS
Every gun has a story and those stories are just down right interesting. Josh T. Ryan is the star of the show and he points out that, "In America, a new gun is manufactured every 10 seconds. And all sorts of people are buying them." As that works out to 3,153,600 new guns a year -- about three-quarters the number of new people who are manufactured in America over the same period -- one would think that, yes, there will have to be some variety. That number doesn't seem out of whack to Ryan, who works at his families gun shop outside of Denver. This is the magic of the show where he, with all the subtleness of used car salesman, puts guns in the hands of his customers based on their wildest desires. Using hidden cameras and constant conversation, Josh is the consummate salesman who is just brilliant. The Shootist is his gun store and he delivers a bullseye every time.
MAGIC & BIRD: A Courtship of Rivals - HBO
Of all the videos about Bird and Magic that have come out through the years, this is by far the best. This is about how they are forever linked in so many ways. They are linked in a lot of ways by being polar opposites from each other on some things. Black and white, East and West, charismatic and awkwardly quiet, Boston and LA, among about a million other comparisons. Their story is pretty much storybook type material. No two players in NBA history have ever been forever linked as Larry Bird and Earvin Johnson. Only a few rivalries in sports history compare. As I said before, this is not a highlight reel. This is as in depth life and career overview that has been made about these two men. Being too that it is made by HBO, it gives it much more credibility than any other previous biographies about them.
THE MAGICIAN: Blu-ray - Criterion
An underrated film by the master Ingmar Bergman. Part horror, part comedy, part erotic, part symbolic, but it is a movie that should generate a lot of thinking when it is over. Ostensibly it is a movie about the continuing conflict between faith and science...or reason and art but there are no quick answers. The character of Dr. Vogler may have been influenced by the myth and fact of Rasputin. Even the look is similar; Max Von Sydow is the perfect choice of actor in portraying this hypnotist, con-artist, or real magician. I never had the sense that the "magic" was real, but persons behave as if the illusions were true. After a cynical medical officer humiliates Dr. Vogler, attempts to prove Vogler is nothing but a charlatan, the magician challenges him for a private performance. And in that performance Dr. Vogler dies and comes back to life again...the metaphor of Christ. The nature of God requires us to keep on questioning. This was a theme in The Seventh Seal and it reappears in this film. The Magician isn't one of Bergman's best films, but it is worth adding to the library.
VENGEANCE TRILOGY - Palisades Tartan
For better or worse, Korean director Park Chan-Wook's three films with vengeance as the motif are going to be his legacy for cinematic audiences. They have been a benefit on several levels; they've introduced audiences to Korean cinema and specifically to Park's style of storytelling. And what began as a novel idea has grown into a massive fan following for the director, and it's great to see all three films. So why not take a stroll down memory lane? Without a doubt, the Vengeance Trilogy from Park Chan-Wook is one of the better such trilogies out there, and deserves experiencing. Tartan has packed each disc to the proverbial gills with supplements, and while I'd give this the Collector's Series label, the dropping of the loss less track on Oldboy is the only blemish on an otherwise stellar set. Run, do not walk, to get your copy of this set today. Purchase your copy on Amazon today!
RED ROAD - Palisades Tartan
This is a first film by the director, Andrea Arnold, and the lead, Kate Dickie, and the first of an intended series by a group of Scottish film makers to be set around the same group of characters. I have no idea where it will go from here, but this film presents a complete picture, a circle of tragedy that closes. This is the type of film where a story starts in the middle and progresses without any setup exposition, you have to figure out on your own where it's going. Sometimes films like this drive me crazy, but it works in spades here, particularly during a stunning sexual encounter where all you can think is, what the heck is this woman doing? Why is she letting this happen? There could be more than one answer, it could just be lonely lust, that possibility exists, and then . . . well, the answer is revealed, and while it was hinted at, there is no way to anticipate what happens, nor how it all turns out. Purchase your copy on Amazon today!
THE RED SHOES - Palisades Tartan
The Red Shoes is not a bad film; and for those who are new to the Korean horror, suspense, or thriller genre you may like this film. For me however, the film is very unoriginal. I have seen this type of stylistic suspense film already in too many Korean films. Throw in beautiful cinematography, some classical music: maybe Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart and perhaps Beethoven, and weave a psychological twist in the film and there you have it! The film will appeal to many. Check it out! Purchase your copy on Amazon today!
THE CAVE OF THE YELLOW DOG - Palisades Tartan
The film chronicles the daily activities of a solitary nomadic family trying to survive the elements, packs of wolves and vultures while trying to raise three small children. The story centers on the oldest child, Nansal. Nansal is approximately eight or nine years and lives with relatives in the city most of the year so she can attend school. Now that summer has arrived she has returned to her family where she resumes her old way of life. She helps with the sheep, collects dung and watches over her younger siblings. On one dung collecting expedition she finds a dog and forms an immediate bond with the animal. She names her new playmate Konchar and brings him home. Her parents reaction to their new guest is mixed and the question arises; is the dog a hindrance that will attract wolves into their camp, or was it sent by fate for some undisclosed purpose. It is here that the concept of reincarnation delicately weaves its thread through the storyline. Will stubborn little Nansal be able to convince her parents that the arrival of the dog is a good thing or will she have to abandon her new friend when it's time to move on? Purchase your copy on Amazon today!
FACE - Palisades Tartan
The main theme of the story is intriguing enough: A forensic facial reconstructionist, distraught over the death of his wife and additionally burdened with caring for his deathly ill little daughter, submits his resignation from police work even as he is being begged to stay on due to the sheer volume of work still needed to be done which requires his expertise. He is "involuntarily" coaxed back into service by a young new protege and by a number of "unexplained phenomena" surrounding a new skull he has been asked to offer his help with. Complicating matters is the repeatedly unstable condition of his sickly daughter -- who had undergone a very dangerous & difficult heart transplant surgery that required a very rare type of "organ donor match" in order for the surgical procedure to have even the slightest chances of success. During this process he gradually becomes convinced that his daughter had become the recipient of the heart of the skull/ghost in question and that the circumstances under which it was acquired may be highly (and frighteningly) suspect. Purchase your copy on Amazon today!
ELECTION - Palisades Tartan
Election is the first film in this gangster series (Triad Election is the sequel) from the greatest filmmaker currently working in Hong Kong, Johnnie To. If you aren't familiar with Mr. To's work, imagine John Woo with less action (at least in this film - watch Exiled, another top notch film, for more action oriented To fare) but a much better handle on story and storytelling than Woo ever had. This is less action/thrills oriented than Infernal Affairs (which it is sometimes compared to), but I think Election is a much better film. The simple synopsis - two mob bosses, one all business and one all bluster, compete for leadership of their gang. When the election doesn't go the way some want, all hell breaks loose, threatening the stability of the already teetering Hong Kong underworld. Purchase your copy on Amazon today!
ARN: The Knight Templar: Blu-ray - E1 Entertainment
This Scandinavian epic war adventure, based on the fictional Knight Templar Arn Magnusson (Joakim Nätterqvist), is the most expensive Swedish film of all time. The film loosely follows the plot of the first two novels in Jan Guillou's Arn trilogy. Arn, the son of a high-ranking Swedish nobleman is educated in a monastery and sent to the Holy Land as a knight templar to do penance for a forbidden love. He is pulled into a struggle between powerful families, all fighting for the crown of the young nation that is to become the Kingdom of Sweden.
THE RIG - Anchor Bay
When a tropical storm forces an offshore drilling company to evacuate non-essential personnel from the "Charlie" oil rig, the small but experienced crew left behind settles in to ride out the storm. Isolated on the rig, their routine night is interrupted when a crew member goes missing and an extensive search proves futile. Slowly, they discover that a deadly creature is stalking the crew, eliminating them one by one. Surrounded by nothing but raging ocean with no hope of escape, the roughnecks must survive the stormy night with an unrelenting force of death hunting them down.
BONES: Season Five - Fox
At the beginning of the fifth season of the wildly popular forensic drama "Bones," many viewers tuned in trepidatiously after the spectacularly strange fourth season finale. Thankfully, all fears were allayed and relieved when the fifth season kicked into high gear in the very first episode and maintained that pace throughout the season; "Bones"' fifth season is perhaps its greatest yet. The one thing that has always set "Bones" apart from the countless other procedurals on the airwaves right now is the focus on the characters solving the crimes rather than the crimes themselves, and the strength of this approach shines through brilliantly in every episode of this season. David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel return to the roles of Booth and Bones and deliver their strongest performances yet as each character is shaken to their core. As Booth struggles to regain his sense of self, he has to confront the knowledge of his feelings for his partner, while Bones herself goes through a whirlwind of emotion as the emotional barriers she has erected around her heart begin to crumble down, leaving her questioning not only herself but her relationship with Booth as well as her work at the Jeffersonian itself. The tension between the two has never been more delicious or more addictive, and both lead actors knock their roles absolutely out of the park.
MERRY CHRISTMAS OLIVIA - Nickelodeon
Olivia spreads Christmas cheer at Francine’s July beach party! Then, with her favorite doll, Matilda, missing, Olivia dreams of being a Santa who returns lost toys. Merry Christmas Olivia!
BEST OF TRAVEL: Beautiful Mexico - Questar
Rudy Maxa is the best when it comes to travel programs. His DVD isn't full of useless chatter, as he gives the watcher the opportunity to take in the art and history on their own. He etches a vivid portrait of Guadalajara with its rich history, vibrant culture and passionate artists. Next, it is an easy hop to the coast to bask in the traditional charms of Puerto Vallarta. Rudy visits Mexico City, the world's largest metropolis, and explores its ancient roots at pre-Aztec Teotihuacan. For contemporary excitement, Rudy hangs at the Zocalo, the world's second largest square, and heads for the beaches of Mexican Riviera. In addition to the Blu-ray disc, this combo pack also includes: 1. DVD version of the program(s) that you can play in your DVD player, vehicle or computer. 2. Digital copy of the program that you can download to your computer and/or transfer to your mobile devices.
BEST OF TRAVEL: China - Questar
Shanghai dazzles with fantastic skyscrapers, non-stop shopping and delicious dining. From traditional Tai Chi in the parks and teahouses to tumbling acrobats and teeming markets, Rudy explores how tradition and modernity co-exist in the burgeoning city. In ever-changing Hong Kong, Rudy savors one of the most majestic skylines on Earth aboard the famous Star Ferry. In addition to the Blu-ray disc, this combo pack also includes: 1. DVD version of the program(s) that you can play in your DVD player, vehicle or computer. 2. Digital copy of the program that you can download to your computer and/or transfer to your mobile devices. Questar is pleased to offer you the ability to watch our award-winning programs whenever and wherever you want!
BEN 10 ALIEN FORCE: Volume Nine - Cartoon Network
It's the ninth and final volume of "Ben 10 Alien Force." This DVD has seven episodes including the two-part series finale where Ben takes one final stand against Vilgax only this time, he has no Omnitrix to his disposal. But even though the "Alien Force" series has come to a close, the adventures of Ben Tennyson have just begun ! As a bonus, look for the premiere episode of "Ben 10 Ultimate Alien" as well as one more "Alien Database" on this DVD.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: Blu-ray - Dreamworks
How to Train Your Dragon is the story of Hiccup, a Viking who feels out of place since he's not a fan of killing the dragons the Viking's world so revolves around in. But, when Hiccup captures the rare Night Fury Dragon and inadvertently injures it, the two become fast friends and attempt to bridge the gap of understanding between the Dragons & the Vikings. How to Train your Dragon is simply brilliant on every level, particularly those of the cast, the visual effects, and the degree and success to which the emotion of the film is conveyed through animation. The flying sequences alone make this home entertainment product worth price of purchase.
THE OXFORD MURDERS - Magnolia
Martin (Elijah Wood) arrives at Oxford form his trailer house home in Arizona to study with the brilliant mathematics professor Arthur Seldom (John Hurt). He brings little with him as he settles in with roommate Yuri Podorov (Burn Gorman) who clearly has a loathing for Seldom and for all of the great minds that have apparently stolen his solution for a theory. His elderly and physically impaired landlady Mrs. Eagleton (Anna Massey), who worked on the infamous Enigma Code that saved England in WW II, warmly accepts Martin into her home, introduces him to her daughter Beth (Julie Cox) who makes it clear that the old lady is preventing Beth from having the life of a free person, a cellist who wants more from life than confinement as a caregiver. Martin discovers that Seldom is not available to take on new postgrad students, and Martin challenges Seldom in a large classroom as Seldom is declaring Ludwig Wittgenstein's theory that there is no real truth. That challenge begins a bond between the two and when they individually meet at Mrs. Eagleton's home and find her murdered, Seldom shares a strange note left in his mailbox indicating the murder is the first of a series linked by a mysterious pattern.
THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS - Warner
Have you heard? Christmas has been cancelled! Santa Claus (voice of Mickey Rooney) believes that there is no Christmas spirit left in the world. Why deliver presents to children who don't even care? So old Saint Nicholas declares a sick day and decides to stay in bed. His elves Jingle Bells and Jangle Bells can't believe it. Mrs. Claus (voice of Shirley Booth), however, is determined to keep her husband's gift-giving tradition alive (whether he likes it or not!). She sends Jingle and Jangle out into the world to find an example of good will so that Santa will change his mind. The elves, along with Vixen the reindeer, head for Southtown, USA...and head right into trouble! First Vixen is snatched by the town dog catcher. When Jingle and Jangle appeal to the mayor to let her go, he laughs at them. The mayor won't release their reindeer unless they use "elf magic" to make it snow in Southtown (where it hasn't snowed in 100 years). There's only way to get it to snow, so Jingle and Jangle, Mrs. Claus, and a local boy named Iggy (who thinks believing in Santa is for "little kids") pay a visit to the Snow Miser. Sorry, Santa, I've got to cheer for the "Bad Guys" here because the scenes with the tall, cool Snow Miser fighting with his short, hot-tempered step-brother Heat Miser are the best part of the show!
THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE: Blu-ray - Warner
Ranked at No. 30 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 all-time greatest American films, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a genuine masterpiece that was, ironically, a box-office failure when released in 1948. At that time audiences didn't accept Humphrey Bogart in a role that was intentionally unappealing, but time has proven this to be one of Bogart's very best performances. It's a grand adventure and a superior character study built around the timeless themes of greed and moral corruption. As adapted by writer-director John Huston it became a definitive treatment of fate and futility in the obsessive pursuit of wealth. Bogart plays Fred C. Dobbs, a down-and-out wage-worker in Mexico who stakes his meager earnings on a gold-prospecting expedition to the Sierra mountains. He's joined by a grizzled old prospector (Walter Huston) and a young, no-nonsense partner (Tim Holt), and when they strike a rich vein of gold, the movie becomes an observant study of wretched human behavior. Bogart is fiercely intense as his character grows increasingly paranoid and violent; Huston offers a compelling contrast as a weathered miner who's seen how gold can turn men into monsters.
THE MALTESE FALCON: Blu-ray - Warner
Still the tightest, sharpest, and most cynical of Hollywood's official deathless classics, bracingly tough even by post-Tarantino standards. Humphrey Bogart is Dashiell Hammett's definitive private eye, Sam Spade, struggling to keep his hard-boiled cool as the double-crosses pile up around his ankles. The plot, which dances all around the stolen Middle Eastern statuette of the title, is too baroque to try to follow, and it doesn't make a bit of difference. The dialogue, much of it lifted straight from Hammett, is delivered with whip-crack speed and sneering ferocity, as Bogie faces off against Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, fends off the duplicitous advances of Mary Astor, and roughs up a cringing "gunsel" played by Elisha Cook Jr. It's an action movie of sorts, at least by implication: the characters always seem keyed up, right on the verge of erupting into violence. This is a turning-point picture in several respects: John Huston (The African Queen) made his directorial debut here in 1941, and Bogart, who had mostly played bad guys, was a last-minute substitution for George Raft, who must have been kicking himself for years afterward.
GREAT DETECTIVES ANTHOLOGY - A&E
The Great Detectives Anthology teams the worlds greatest detective minds together to save the day! The bad guys don't stand a chance against the likes of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple. They are an unstoppable force against the wrongs of man! Literatures greatest sleuths are brought to life by the actors born to play the roles. As portrayed by Peter Cushing, the definitive Sherlock Holmes exercises his legendary deductive skills in five classic BBC productions, including The Hound of the Baskervilles, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four. Meanwhile, Dame Agathas diminutive detective, Hercule Poirot, portrayed with fastidious elegance by the inimitable David Suchet, applies his little grey cells to ferret out the cause of a Death on the Nile and solve the Mystery of the Blue Train, among other Christie classics. Rounding out the trio, Joan Hickson received an Order of the British Empire for her portrayal of the brilliant spinster Miss Jane Marple, who is here to untangle the riddles of the Murder at the Vicarage, The Mirror Crackd from Side to Side and many more.
SHALOM SESAME: Welcome to Israel - SISU Entertainment
Shalom Sesame is a brand new series of 12 episodes starring the loveable Sesame Street cast of furry pals, new friends from Israel and celebrities. Each episode introduces Jewish holidays, traditions and culture to viewers of all ages. Join Grover as he explores Israel, its people and places,and learns new things. Get ready to laugh and sing along in the next generation of the popular classic, Shalom Sesame! Grover and Anneliese go to Israel! Join your favorite blue monster and his new pal as they begin to explore this beautiful land. It's an adventure they'll never forget - full of fun, friends and flying falafel!
SHALOM SESAME: Chanukah:
The Missing Menorah - SISU Entertainment
Shalom Sesame is a brand new series of 12 episodes starring the loveable Sesame Street cast of furry pals, new friends from Israel and celebrities. Each episode introduces Jewish holidays, traditions and culture to viewers of all ages. It’s time to celebrate Chanukah in Israel! Grover’s bringing the latkes and all is well until Anneliese gets caught in a game of tag with a chicken and loses her special menorah! Can her Muppet friends find the missing menorah in time to celebrate Chanukah? Special guest appearance by Debi Mazar.