Nick's Pics Nick
Nicholson Film & Home Entertainment Critic
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THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST
Stieg Larsson began thinking about writing detective novels back in the early 90's, according to co-worker Anna-Lena Lodenius in an interview with the Swedish newspaper Veckans Affärer. He had always been interested in particularly Anglo-Saxon literature and knew the works of Elizabeth George, Minette Walters and Sara Paretsky very well. He knew what ingredients a good detective story should have, and he even reluctantly decided to spice it up with a bit in many ways. What Stieg Larsson did was create the Millennium Trilogy - a series of three books that focus on a not so everyday heroin who should never be underestimated. All three books have been made into films that have been released this calendar year. The first, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; the second, The Girl who Played with Fire; and the final installment, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. This series of books and films are arguably the finest trio of films since Star Wars hit the big screen. Without question, Larsson saved the best for last in this final edition to the series that defines dark film and picks up immediately after the second film concludes. The star of the film, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), is in the process of being transported to the hospital with a brain injury. Her best friend and co-worker, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), is under the gun to clear Lisbeth of the charges against her - as well as work to help keep her safe and alive. A their combined enemies work to destroy them and the evidence in the case, all hell seems to break loose from all directions with multiple plot lines and story arcs converging together into one of the most fascinating endings to a film I have seen in years.
The performance of Rapace as Lisbeth is clearly a defining role that should be recognized with an Oscar. Her ability to exude the multitude of emotions, even while confined to a hospital bed without speech, is simply unequaled. As she works to regain her trademark paranoia and screw the world mentality, her transformation is mesmerizing. The performance of Blomkvist is also inspiring, but clearly Rapace steals the film and every scene in which she so much as sniffs. The film's director, Daniel Alfredson, brilliantly pieces the film together keeping the pacing of the film moving forward with the interest of the viewers completely intact. Pay attention at the end as the film will be over before you know it and you won't realize just how special the ending of this film actually is until the credits role. This is arguably the best film series of all time.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Starring: Noomi Rapace & Michael Nyqvist
Director: Daniel Alfredson
Company: Music Box Films
Now Showing: in Local Theaters
MPAA Rating: R
FREE DVD GIVEAWAY
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of Earth and Space, Mirrors 2, SGU: Season One, or Barney: Best Fairy Tales, 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!
HENRY MILLER'S TROPIC OF CANCER - Olive
Tropic of Cancer is the groundbreaking book by Henry Miller. Banned as obscene in all English speaking nations for nearly 30 years, it has come to be a literary classic. At century's end it was placed on many Top 100 Books of the Century lists. It is always a daunting task to bring such an important novel to the screen, and often the results are a bit of a let-down. Tropic of Cancer does not so much seem like a movie in its own right, but a type of tribute to the book, perhaps even a concept film. The key elements of the novel, the palpable sexuality, Henry's poverty, the beauty of Paris, the poetic quality of Miller's writing (Rip Torn does some wonderful reading from the text, juxtaposed with scenic views of Paris), are strongly evoked, but they are not developed to the point of giving the movie its own life as an independent entity. This is why I recommend Tropic of Cancer to fans of Miller and the book upon which it's based, and no one else.
FINAL 24: Jim Morrison and His Final Hours - MVD
This compelling documentary series unlocks the hidden secrets, psychological flaws and events that result in the tragic deaths of famed notorious and the iconic. Every episode maps out the final 24 hours of a different famous person's life. The series weaves the star's back-story with events from their last day, which lays bare the threads of fate that led inextricably from childhood to the moment of death. These are no ordinary biographies. They're psychological detective stories attempting to uncover the mystery of why the celebrity died. July 2, 1971. Jim Morrison is one of the most famous rock singers in the world. He's also the ultimate sex symbol, but Morrison is at war with his own dark demons. In 24 hours his darkness will consume him and he'll be dead. Using archive footage, dramatic reenactment and interviews with his closest companions, we detail the last hours of Morrison's life and the gripping events that led to his tragic death in Paris.
SUMMER AND SMOKE - Olive
There are a lot of things you can say about this film, but foremost must be the performance of Geraldine Page, perhaps the finest female performance ever captured on film. Her use of her hands, a glance...every nuance imaginable has not been matched (a close second: Giulietta Massina). Alma is a lot more complicated than most realize, a repressed rage, hopeless love, culminating in a dependance on drugs (not brought out so much in the film); "those little white tablets...ever so merciful..." After an Oscar nomination in 1953 for "Hondo", Page was subjected to ugliness by the McCarthy nonsense, and "S&S" was only her second film. English director Peter Glenville, famous for attention to detail ("Becket"), worked with fellow Brit, Laurence Harvey (a southerner by association since he played Travis in "The Alamo"), and it was actually a fine group of talent.
PATHS OF GLORY - Criterion
It has been almost 50 years since this anti-war film appeared, one which was banned in France until 1970. It is based on Humphrey Cobb's novel. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas who also produced it, the film examines a fictional (but nonetheless wholly believable) situation during World War One when French troops are ordered to achieve an impossible military objective: Climb and secure the "Ant Hill," a heavily-fortified German position. Of course the troops are decimated. Whom to blame? General Broulard (Adolph Menjou) who gave the order? The troops' general, General Mireau (George MacReady), whose career ambitions overcame his doubts about the order? The officer (Colonel Dax) who led the attack? General Broulard gives a second order: Select three of the survivors, charge them with cowardice, give them a perfunctory military trial, and then execute them. Their commanding officer is Colonel Dax (Douglas) who had been an attorney in civilian life. He is ordered to be the defense counsel. After the inevitable verdict, the three representatives are executed by a firing squad. Kubrick presents all this on film as if it were a documentary of actual events. Appropriately, he filmed it in black-and-white, in part to dramatize the obvious juxtapositions of right and wrong, good and evil, justice and injustice, etc. The battlefield carnage is extensive but not gratuitous. For me, the insensitivity, indeed inhumanity of the two generals -- far removed from combat in luxurious comfort -- is far more upsetting than the assault on the "Ant Hill." The men who followed orders and lost their lives or their limbs may have died in vain but at least died with honor, if not glory. Kubrick leaves absolutely no doubt about the generals who sent them into battle.
G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero - Mill Creek
GI Joe was so great for 2 reasons: 1) It had a certain kind of credibility despite how over the top it always was, and 2) The Characters and their intertwining relationships. The stories were often silly, and over the top but always a lot of fun. It was a unique cartoon because despite that it always created an atmosphere of danger for the heroes. There were even times when the bad guys and the good guys had to work together to get through situations at times, and that was cool. Even the bad guys had deep relationships.
BIRTH OF FLIGHT: A History of Civil Aviation - Mill Creek
When the Wright brothers successfully took to the sky in 1903, the world paid attention. Civil aviation has since developed into a multi-billion dollar industry capable of transporting passengers from anywhere, every hour of every day. We look at the incredible history and development of civil aviation in this series. From Lindburgh through to modern marvels such as the Boeing 787, this 8-part series explores the amazing world of aviation!
FINAL 24: Tupac Shakur and His Final Hours - MVD
This compelling documentary series unlocks the hidden secrets, psychological flaws and events that result in the tragic deaths of famed notorious and the iconic. Every episode maps out the final 24 hours of a different famous person's life. The series weaves the star's back-story with events from their last day, which lays bare the threads of fate that led inextricably from childhood to the moment of death. These are no ordinary biographies. They're psychological detective stories attempting to uncover the mystery of why the celebrity died. September 6, 1996: The most successful hip-hop artist of all time, Tupac Shakur has just finished shooting his latest video in Los Angeles. The ultimate gangster-rapper, Tupac says he will one day go out in a blaze of glory. In 24 hours, his prophecy will come true.
WATER LIFE: The Big Blue - Questar
Water Life is a brilliant documentary and the best I've seen in a long time. Visually, this documentary is stunning (especially in blu-ray). It covers aquatic environments on land and in water, showcasing the diversity and range of ecosystems. This isn't simply another version of Blue Planet: Seas of Life. In fact, Water Life features relatively few of the large, charismatic aquatic animals such as whales and sharks. Rather, this series spends a good deal of time with the smaller creatures. It does this well, with great closeups of insects and baby fish. Many of these animals, while not new to science, are certainly new to TV viewers. In fact, it's almost more like Microcosmos in that sense.
THE GHOST WHISPERER: Final Season - CBS Paramount
Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) has a gift - she can communicate with earthbound spirits or ghosts who cling to the living because they have unfinished business in our world preventing them from "crossing over" or going into the light. Inspired in part by the work of famed medium James Van Praagh and of Mary Ann Winkowski, a real-life communicator with earth bound spirits, Ghost Whisperer explores the spiritual side of life and death. Melinda navigates between the dead and the living with her sometimes chilling, sometimes heart-rending and sometimes amusing actions as an intermediary between the ghosts and those they haunt. Although she is very good at being an intermediary she never publicizes this gift instead is known around town as a newlywed and the owner of the successful antiques store, Same As it Never Was. Firefighter Jim Clancy (David Conrad), Melinda's husband, knows that being an intermediary between the living and dead can take an emotional toll on his wife and worries that he might not be able to protect her as well as he would like. Melinda has also recently revealed her gift to new friend and employee, Delia Banks (Camryn Manheim), a single mom of teenager Ned Banks (Christoph Sanders). Melinda fears what the consequences might be of drawing Delia into this unconventional world, as Delia, unlike her son Ned, is a bit skeptical of Melinda's gift - although she loves Melinda unconditionally as a friend.
THE SCHOLASTIC TREASURY OF
Volume Two - Scholastic
Most of us just happen to be parents, and I think it's safe to say that while my fellow writers and I have widely varying tastes in movies and television shows, as a whole we'll sometimes snap up children's DVDs not so much out of aesthetic curiosity but rather nothing more or less than as a source of something to watch with the kids. I think it's fair to say most of the children's videos tossed onto our screener pile are utter rubbish, but on rare occasions something like the second volume of Scholastic's Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics comes along. While it's no substitute for actually reading real books to your child, this is a pretty fair alternative, the kind of massive collection of short film and direct-to-video adaptations of classic children's stories one can either watch with your child in small doses (versus long stretches with them glued to the tube) or as a worthwhile distraction for them as you struggle to prepare dinner while shuffling loads of laundry. There are 17 discs included in this set and it is simply brilliant.
HUSH LITTLE BABY - New Video
Jamie Ashford lost her first child Amanda a year ago. Now she's surprised to find herself pregnant despite taking precautions. A series of events convinces Jamie that Caitlin may be evil, but is it just Jamie's mind playing tricks on her because of the grief she hasn't dealt with? When the truth is revealed, it seems Jamie was right all along.
THE HAUNTING OF SORORITY ROW - New Video
Samantha Willows 'Leighton Meester, Gossip Girl' is a bright-eyed college freshman ready to endure the often humiliating traditions of pledge week if it means being accepted into Delta Phi Theta, one of the most prestigious sororities in the country. But her enthusiasm turns to dread when she begins to sense something sinister about the sorority house and some of its sisters, who appear to be sharing a closely guarded secret. After the death of a Delta Phi Theta member, Samantha considers the unimaginable could an evil, murderous force reside within the walls of the sorority house?
ALTITUDE - Anchor Bay
After a mysterious malfunction sends their small plane climbing out of control, a rookie pilot and her four teenage friends find themselves trapped in a deadly showdown with a supernatural force. Sure to keep your interest, this film is not to be judged by it's cover.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: 35th Anniversary - Fox
If a musical sci-fi satire about an alien transvestite named Frank-n-Furter, who is building the perfect man while playing sexual games with his virginal visitors, sounds like an intriguing premise for a movie, then you're in for a treat. Not only is The Rocky Horror Picture all this and more, but it stars the surprising cast of Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick (as the demure Janet and uptight Brad, who get lost in a storm and find themselves stranded at Frank-n-Furter's mansion), Meat Loaf (as the rebel Eddie), Charles Gray (as our criminologist and narrator), and, of course, the inimitable Tim Curry as our "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania." Upon its release in 1975, the film was an astounding flop. But a few devotees persuaded a New York theater to show it at midnight, and thus was born one of the ultimate cult films of all time. The songs are addictive (just try getting "The Time Warp" or "Toucha Toucha Touch Me" out of your head), the raunchiness amusing, and the plot line utterly ridiculous--in other words, this film is simply tremendous good fun. The downfall, however, is that much of the amusement is found in the audience participation that is obviously missing from a video version. Watched alone as a straight movie, Rocky Horror loses a tremendous amount of its charm.
MOULIN ROUGE: Blu-ray - Fox
A dazzling and yet frequently maddening bid to bring the movie musical kicking and screaming into the 21st century, Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge bears no relation to the many previous films set in the famous Parisian nightclub. This may appear to be Paris in the 1890s, with can-can dancers, bohemian denizens like Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo), and ribaldry at every turn, but it's really Luhrmann's pop-cultural wonderland. Everyone and everything is encouraged to shatter boundaries of time and texture, colliding and careening in a fast-cutting frenzy that thinks nothing of casting Elton John's "Your Song" 80 years before its time. Nothing is original in this kaleidoscopic, absinthe-inspired love tragedy--the words, the music, it's all been heard before. But when filtered through Luhrmann's love for pop songs and timeless showmanship, you're reminded of the cinema's power to renew itself while paying homage to its past.
TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: Final Season - CBS Paramount
This 30-minute horror/fantasy anthology series follows in the vein of The Twilight Zone. Each week presents another standalone story of horror fantasy, and/or science fiction. Some episodes are gruesome, a few are of a lighter comedic style. Like many such shows, Tales... adapted the work of famous genre authors of the period such as Harlan Ellison, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. Many episodes also featured veteran actors of the 40's and 50's that saw very little work in their later years. This concludes the series excellent run of psychologically engaging horror tales. The show never claimed to offer the best production values but I think each episode did the best it could concerning the time period and the limited budget available. Episodes such as "Family Reunion" (included in this set) prove how lucky Darkside was to have special effects creator Tom Savini contributing.
NFL GREATEST RIVALRIES: Redskins Defeat the Cowboys - Warner
For Redskins fans, nothing is more fun than beating the Dallas Cowboys. Now, for the first time, the original network broadcasts of three classic Washington victories are yours to own in this exciting three-DVD set. Journey back to the 1982 NFC Championship as the Redskins take down “America’s Team” in a game that transformed this great rivalry forever. Relive the Redskins incredible comeback at Dallas in 2005, and hear the deafening crowd at FedEx stadium as the Redskins shocked the Cowboys with no time left on the clock in 2006. Enjoy these iconic Redskins moments once again with— NFL’s Greatest Rivalries – Redskins vs. Cowboys. It is the perfect DVD companion to one of the most heated feuds in professional sports.
DALZIEL AND PASCOE: Season Two - BBC
Detective Andy Dalziel is an idiosyncratic copper with a penetrating wit and questionable personal habits. Inspector Peter Pascoe is his cultured sidekick – a thoughtful “New Man” with a degree in Social Sciences, a caring attitude and a sharp brain. When they threw together these contrasting characters, few thought their talents would gel and that, sharing a commitment to justice, they would forge an impressive crime-solving partnership – and a tentative friendship. The four episodes of Series Two are: Ruling Passion, where Peter and his new wife, Ellie, go to visit a friend and find three corpses; A Killing Kindness, where a serial killer admires Hamlet; Deadheads, where a man with a passion for roses is accused of murder; and Exit Lines, where Peter finds himself investigating Andy.
CLATTERFORD: Season Three - BBC
The laughs and tears rolled for three wonderful seasons. Now the bright, funny, and sometimes dramatic TV series, Clatterford, comes to a screeching and saddening conclusion. The latest news: no fourth series. Just when the women and men of Clatterford drew you in with their humor and deadpan deliveries, does BBC television decide to pull the rug out from under our feet. Viewers will miss the characters and all their crazy foibles. It was the warmth of the characters' interactions with each other that heightened the show's success. Gossip and get together over cake and coffee. The direction of each quality episode had sustained its uniqueness each and every time. The writing and dialogue were sharp, as were the actors' performances. All caution was thrown to the wind when the show's storylines dealt head-on with issues like STDs, sexuality, and mental illness. But all in the name of comedy, as only Clatterford could do.