Nick's Pics Nick
Nicholson Film & Home Entertainment Critic
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127 Hours is based on the remarkable true story of Aron Ralston (James Franco), a canyon climber and outdoorsman, who constantly sought the next big rush or thrill in his life. It wasn't uncommon for Ralston to travel out to some remote location to climb, explore and simply enjoy nature. During one of his treks, he slipped on a loose rock, fell into a crevice and had a rock pin him down. This picture traces the 127 hours he was involved in this predicament. Franco is often alone at the bottom of the canyon, dealing with his situation. (Think back to Tom Hank's performance in Castaway and how moving that was. Franco's performance is just as impressive and he is all but ensured of an Oscar nomination.) Much of the success of this picture stems not just from Franco's moving performance, but the direction of the film by Danny Boyle. Mr. Boyle's brilliance is represented by his ability to create and increase tension through visual nuances. The ability of the film to draw you in and feel the pain and insecurity that Aron experienced leaves the viewer with a feeling of exhaustion by the end of the film.
James Franco, simply put, has never been better in anything I have ever seen. His ability to project his emotional spectrum and personal vulnerabilities all the while trying to survive provides a stunning look into a man's mortality. The additional supporting cast members are perfect in their nuances and interactive memories Aron recalls while trapped. Treat Williams, Kate Burton, Lizzy Caplan, Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn are all spot on in their early scenes and flashbacks. Although the performances of the supporting cast are indeed minimal, it isn't really something you will notice because of the strength of Franco's performance. One might think that a film such as this would be trite and drag on forever. Boyle keeps things fresh and ratchets up the tension as necessary to keep everything moving forward and the audience engaged. This film about Aron's story will provide you with an emotional experience that you won't soon forget.
Starring: James Franco, Kate Mara & Lizzy Caplain
Director: Danny Boyle
Company: Fox Searchlight
Now Showing: Local Area 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 The Pacific or The Alien Anthology, 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!
THE PACIFIC - HBO
For anyone interested in the Pacific theatre- this is an epic story of 3 marines, their comrades and their sacrifice against a fearless enemy. The level of detail and battle sequences are amazing. The amphibious landings and the hell thats thrown at these guys is unthinkable. The fact that the Pacific war isn't covered enough, makes this educational for some and intriguing to everyone. Thanks to Clint Eastwoods great movies(Letters From Iwo Jima, Flags Of Our Fathers) and Speilberg/Hanks The Pacific, we are starting to get some great coverage in this area. Of more importance, the men who gave so much are getting the recognition they deserve. One of many aspects I enjoy about The Pacific is the time the soldiers spend away from the battlefield. I think they do a great job showing whats on these guys minds, what they have to fight for and how their fate on the battlefield effects so many. There is an episode where they are stationed in Australia and you can see how some Aussies can't wait for them to leave. While others fall in love with the soldiers or welcome them into their lives. Its a dynamic of war that is easier to cover in a series this long.
PREHISTORIC PARK - BBC
What if extinction didn't have to be forever? That's the premise of this BCI Eclipse docu-drama by the animatronics and computer graphics teams of Walking With Dinosaurs in which naturalist Nigel Marven rescues now-extinct creatures from the past 300-million years and brings them via time portal to a present-day wildlife sanctuary known as Prehistoric Park to be studied, preserved, and bred. Like a Jurassic Park with much more scientific information and minus the high level of sheer terror, Prehistoric Park deals with the housing of prehistoric creatures in the modern world. Nigel travels through the last 300-million years collecting specimens of everything from the heavily researched tyrannosaurus rex, wooly mammoth, and saber tooth cat to the newly discovered four-winged microraptor and the centipede-like arthropleura. Each episode skillfully blends scientific fact with scientific inference and Nigel's demonstrated knowledge of modern day animals and his ability to extrapolate that knowledge to understand prehistoric animal behavior and their needs is impressive. At Prehistoric Park, the very knowledgeable veterinarian Suzanne is similarly adept at adapting current medical knowledge and practice to help the prehistoric animals under her care and park caretaker Bob is a master improviser, building containment pens and modifying environments, and sometimes animal behavior, to ensure a healthy and safe captivity.
MIRRORS 2 - Fox
While not a direct follow-up to the 2008 shocker Mirrors, Mirrors 2 does indeed boast its share of evil, murderous mirrors. The kind that, when you stare into them, show you an image of yourself doing bloody deeds like chewing broken glass or committing a ritual disemboweling. Not pleasant, especially when the damage manifests itself for real. Said mirrors also add to the misery of an already wretched security guard, Max (Nick Stahl), who finds himself cursed with the ability to foresee these deadly encounters, which happen to his fellow employees at a new department store complex. Max is already having a tough time because his memories of a fatal car accident are a constant nightmare; that might explain why he looks so awful, and why the best he can do is a security guard job when his father (William Katt) actually owns the whole new development. Horror fans will not find much beyond this setup, as Max occasionally visits his shrink and sort of becomes a suspect in the rash of killings.
PREDATORS - Fox
Executive producer Robert Rodriguez is the driving force behind this energetic reboot of the popular Predator films, which pits the dreadlocked alien hunters against a rogues' gallery of human antiheroes, led by a bulked-up Adrien Brody. The Oscar winner acquits himself nicely in the role of a gritty mercenary who finds himself stranded on a jungle planet with a host of criminals and professional killers (among them such scene-stealers as Walton Goggins and Danny Trejo), as well as a seemingly innocent doctor, well played by Topher Grace. They've been deposited there to serve as living targets for a horde of Predators--whose looks, designed by Gregory Nicotero and Howard Berger, are impressively varied and sleek--that use the planet as their private hunting grounds. Laurence Fishburne is also on hand as a soldier who has managed to survive for years in the jungle; he, Brody, and Grace do much to make the pulpy dialogue by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch palatable. Likewise, Hungarian director Nimrod Antal lends a great deal of atmosphere and Rodriguez-style momentum to the picture--perhaps more than necessary, since the end result is, like the 1987 original with Arnold Schwarzenegger, a fun B-movie and nothing more, designed entirely to give moviegoers a slick, unchallenging roller-coaster ride.
SLINGS AND ARROWS: Complete Collection - Acorn
Paul Gross (Due South) stars as Geoffrey Tennant, the passionate but unstable artistic director of the New Burbage Theatre Festival. Haunted by the ghost of his predecessor (Stephen Ouimette), he struggles to realize his creative vision while handling touchy actors, a jittery general manager (Mark McKinney), a pretentious guest director (Don McKellar) and his own tempestuous romance with the festival's leading lady (Martha Burns). The backstage bedlam mirrors the onstage angst as Geoffrey directs three of Shakespeare's masterpieces -- Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear -- one in each season. Guest stars include Rachel McAdams, Colm Feore, Sarah Polley, and renowned Stratford Festival actor William Hutt in one of his last performances.
SESAME STREET: Elmo & Friends The Letter Quest - Warner
The Knights of Sesame Street are on a quest! Sir Elmo, Sir Abby, and Sir Telly discover a Yogurt-Eating Yodeling Yak when they go on a quest to find things that start with the letter Y. The magical adventures continue when the Shoe Fairy (Neil Patrick Harris) appears and shows Abby and Telly that there are shoes for everyone and everything. But can he find the perfect pair of shoes for Telly? Plus, join Cookie Monster as he discovers the perils of having the "cookie touch!" Perfect for little kids who want to learn in a fun and entertaining environment!
AGATHA CHRISTIE'S POIROT: Murder on the Orient Express - Acorn
At long last, David Suchet, the best onscreen Poirot of all time, gets a chance with the famous "Murder On the Orient Express" but.. what is this? The screenplay writer and the director have decided that this cracking mystery ought to be treated like the darkest, heaviest thing ever written. Sigh. Oh dear oh dear. (Something similar was done to the great Jeremy Brett in his later years Sherlock Holmes films.) Thus we have Poirot, made up to look much older and with dark circles under his eyes, ranting and raving even more than Albert Finney and praying like a medieval pilgrim and suffering torturedly over moral dilemmas in the eyes of God (none of which is really in the book.) Um... hmm. Interesting attempt at doing something different, I guess, but then again we don't really need something different in this case.
FALLEN - Image
The Vampire Diaries' Paul Wesley is top-billed in Fallen, a surprisingly entertaining action-fantasy miniseries about a teen who discovers that he possesses unearthly powers. That's a hackneyed premise on which to hang four hours of TV (Fallen aired on ABC Family in 2006), but thankfully, the film's writers and producers have found a novel wrinkle on which to hang their story. Wesley's Aaron Corbett is one of the Nephilim, a race of mysterious beings mentioned in the Book of Genesis and other religious works; for the purposes of Fallen, the Nephilim are the sons of the angels cast out of Paradise with Lucifer, and Aaron is the Redeemer, who can send these outcasts back to Heaven. This new found status gives Aaron powers ranging from mastery of languages to the ability to speak with his dog, but also makes him the target of the Powers, rogue angels assigned to eliminate his kind.
NICE GUY JOHNNY - MPI
Nice Guy Johnny is the story of one Johnny Rizzo (Matt Bush), a 24 year old that is engaged to Claire (Anna Wood). Claire is threatened by Johnny's position as the all night sports radio DJ, so she demands that he quit. In turn, she wants him to take a job working for her father. He relents but only under the caveat that he does it if he isn't making $50,000 by his 25th birthday. After meeting with Anna's father, Johnny meets up with his Uncle Terry (Ed Burns) and thus the problems begin. Uncle Terry encourages his nephew to experience free, unattached sex, in order to talk him out of getting married at such a young age. The program is very well done and will leave you thinking about the decisions we make and how they impact others.
CAR BOMB - Disinformation
Unbelievably fascinating, Car Bomb provides a very informative - and yet educational - perspective in regards to this world wide weapon of choice. Forget about nuclear missiles, the decisive weapon of the 21st century is the car bomb. We now know you can defeat a Superpower, start a civil war or just blow up your own government with a trunk-load of homemade explosives and a battered old car. From the Middle East to Oklahoma, Afghanistan and most recently New York’s Times Square, the car bomb has shaped human conflict. Even today it remains the number one terrorist threat across the world. In this startling film, ex-CIA agent Robert Baer, whose life was depicted by George Clooney in the Oscar-winning movie Syriana, uncovers the history of this extraordinary weapon for the first time. This is, by far, one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.
YOU DON'T KNOW JACK - HBO
Made for HBO, Barry Levinson's sympathetic telefilm casts an affable eye on a serious subject: the mission of Jack Kevorkian (Al Pacino). In the opening sequence, Kevorkian tells his long-suffering sister, Margo (Brenda Vaccaro), how hard he found it to watch their mother die a long and agonizing death. Convinced that the terminally ill deserve the right to die with dignity, he shares his beliefs with Jack (James Urbaniak), a Detroit journalist; Janet (Susan Sarandon), a Hemlock Society leader; and Neal (John Goodman), a medical supply salesman. Before he's assisted a single patient, Kevorkian makes the national news, prompting Neal to quip, "You're not a local quack anymore. You're America's quack." Writer Adam Mazer profiles several of the 130 patients to take advantage of his "mercy machine," starting with Janet Adkins, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. For protection, Jack acquires the services of attorney Geoffrey Fieger (Danny Huston), who supports him through evictions, lawsuits, jail time, and hunger strikes--until Kevorkian engineers his own downfall by defending himself.
VAMPIRE KNIGHT: Volume Two - VIZ Media
At prestigious Cross Academy, there are two sessions of classes, the Day Class and the Night Class. As the school's Disciplinary Committee, Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu keep watch over the Day Class students, who are all infatuated with the beautiful, elite Night Class students. As Guardians, Yuki and Zero must also protect the secret of the Night Class--they are all vampires! A new teacher arrives at Cross Academy with a hidden identity and possibly deadly connection to Zero, whose suffering is driving him to desperation. Yuki's feelings are torn between Zero and Kaname, and her determination to help Zero may lead her to betray the one she loves most.
BLEACH UNCUT: Box Set Six - VIZ Media
The set shows the first set of episodes of the Bount Arc Saga as the bounts have entered the spirit world and now begin the assault on the soul society for their past transgressions against the bounts, as the soul reapers fight the bounts their in for more of a struggle than they think as the bounts have not only increased their powers but the spirit world itself is an energy source for the bounts to use. Ichigo an his friends also have come to fight the bounts but also find the answer through an unlikely source of the bounts history and their reasons for hating the soul society as well as the soul societies own dark sin against the bounts as well. Keep in mind that this set has been split in half and is not complete.
BLEACH: Volume 32 - VIZ Media
Captain Hitsugaya’s advance troops get involved in some unexpected sidelines during their stay in the World of the Living. When Karin Kurosaki agrees to go up against a tough group of middle school students in a game of soccer, Hitsugaya himself steps in to lend a hand. Then all the top members of Karakura First High School’s kendo team are injured, and Ikkaku is brought in to put the remaining team members through a training regimen from hell!
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Box Set Four - VIZ Media
I personally enjoy this arc of Naruto Shippuden very much. Mostly because I like to watch Nartuto go absolutely insane and demolish Orochimaru. Anyway, I love this series and I love the three disc sets because they take up less space (however, with the 16 other box sets from the original Naruto and now 4 of Shippuden, I think I need a bigger bedroom--and it looks like there will be just as many, if not more of Shippuden!).
WINTER'S BONE - Lionsgate
Family loyalty and self-reliance take on whole new meanings in this dark story of one family's desperate struggle to survive in the Ozark woods of southern Missouri. Day-to-day life is tough in the economically depressed, unforgiving harsh rural landscape that's home to the extended Dolly clan, but it's made much tougher thanks to their history of cooking crank and deep involvement in the local drug culture. For Jessup Dolly and the other men of the family, looking out for oneself has become the first priority. Seventeen-year-old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) has been caring for her mentally ill mother and her two younger siblings while her father runs from the law. Ree has been managing OK, but when the sheriff shows up with news that her father has put the house up as bond collateral and is unlikely to show for his court date, things get desperate. Ree is well aware of the family code of silence, but desperation forces her to confront her relatives in search of her father, regardless of the personal consequences. One by one, Ree's relatives refuse to help, protecting themselves even at the cost of one of their own.
SEX AND THE CITY 2 - Warner
The four glitziest ladies ever to hit Manhattan as a single force--Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte--are back, fabulous as ever, in Sex and the City 2. They may be older, and even a little wiser, but the pulls of love, lust, careers, and a pair of well-turned stilettos are still the focus of this Fab Four. As the women gamely face the prospect of aging--children, menopause, glass ceilings, and, in Carrie's opinion a fate worse than death--domesticity--they still manage to sparkle with the banter and great outfits that made the HBO series and the first film such hits. Sex and the City 2 opens with Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) at the wedding of two of the foursome's favorite gay male friends, Stanford (Willie Garson) and Anthony (Mario Cantone). The wedding itself pulls out all the stops--in the true spirit of Sex and the City--and is one of the highlights of the film. From the no-holds-barred décor, including live swans, to the gay men's chorus singing show tunes while the guests arrive, the event is on the far side of over the top.
SGU: Season One - Fox
Stargate Universe is a different kind of Stargate. Depending on who you are, the differences may be good or bad. This Stargate missed the entire point on why I love the series. It is no longer about fighting aliens, or getting out of life threatening situations, it is about boring soap dramas - oh, and the relationships! We don't see humans using their wits and abilities to save themselves anymore. We just wait until this seemingly conscious space ship goes Deus Ex Machina and saves them.
BARNEY: Best Fairy Tales - Lionsgate
Barney freakin' rocks and is back at it teaching kids the right way to do things! Once upon a time in a land of friendship and fun, a fairy-tale celebration had just begun! In this collection of enchanted stories, Barney, BJ™, and Baby Bop™ share their favorite tales about Goldilocks, Elves, Tortoises and Hares. Let your imagination unfold as you delight in new dances and plays, and learn that no one is too big or too small, but that everyone is perfect just the way they are! With your beloved dino friends by your side, you'll be sure to live happily ever after!
CSI NEW YORK: Season Six - Paramount
CSI: NY, the third incarnation of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise and the spin-off of CSI: Miami, is a crime drama about forensic investigators who use high-tech science to follow the evidence and solve crimes in The Big Apple. Killers using avatars to lure people to their doom. A runner shows up at a firesale on wedding dresses and ends up dead from a simple push. A Nazi selling family heirlooms from the Holocaust. The sixth season of CSI:NY continued to have fascinating, challenging stories and changes that would effect the characters personally. This remains my favorite of the "CSI" shows. We have a crew of great guest stars including Ed Asner in an uncharacteristic role.
WUBBZY: Fly Us to the Moon - Anchor Bay
Join Wubbzy as he blasts off on the ultimate outer space adventure! What happens when Wubbzy thinks aliens are coming to Wuzzleburg? Why is Widget building a huge television with 30 different screens? How far will friends go to wake up The Man In The Moon? It's an all-new collection of way-out Wubbzy favorites featuring spacemen, superheroes, rocket racers and even a visit from The Tooth Fairy! The bonus features include coloring and activity sheets, music videos and a bonus episode.
GROWN UPS - Sony
Adam Sandler and his frequent costars (Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, and Rob Schneider) grope blindly for maturity in the genial comedy Grown Ups. Five childhood pals are drawn back together after the death of their former basketball coach; over the course of a Fourth of July weekend, they--along with their wildly attractive wives (played by Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph) and precocious children--loosen up, try to introduce their kids to the simple pleasures of nature, air some dirty laundry, and rediscover their friendship. In other words, it's a fairly formulaic comedy that veers awkwardly from gags (ranging from slapstick to mean-spiritedness) to sentiment (ranging from sappy to not entirely sappy). Its appeal will depend entirely on your feelings about Sandler and the rest of the gang--if you like this bunch of lugs (in all their prolonged adolescent glory), then you'll like this movie. If you don't, you won't.
HUNT TO KILL - Anchor Bay
Faster than you can say "routine border patrol," a meth lab investigation turns into a blazing catastrophe for officer Jim Rhodes (Steve Austin). Four years later, Rhodes finds himself and his daughter in the lush Montana backwoods, forced by crazed bank robbers to track down a traitor who stole their loot. Hunt to Kill opens with a lot of momentum; even if the material isn't particularly original, the scenes move swiftly and establish the characters effectively. The movie loses steam once everyone's clambering around in the woods, doing dumb self-defeating things and growing more and more cartoonish--including Rhodes, who only seems to stay alive by virtue of being the star of the movie.
LOVE RANCH - NEM
Love Story is a peculiar movie that is based on the true story of the notorious Mustang Ranch just outside of Reno, Nevada, a brothel that was world famous run by a couple by the name of Joe and Sally Conforte who had chutzpah and an ongoing run-in with the IRS and the law in bringing in boxer Oscar Buenovena as an addendum to their game of wealth. The facts of the brothel's existence are true as are the characters portrayed in the film, but a considerable amount of artistic license as to dates and chronology of event were taken by writer Mark Jacobson. The result is a strange conglomeration of a story, boring as roadkill during the first half but awakening into a rather tender melodrama in the second half. And it is worth the wait. Taylor Hackford directs his wife Helen Mirren, and as we have come to expect, anytime Mirren is in a film there is at least a modicum of fine acting.
JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: The Radiant Child - New Video
In his short career, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a phenomenon. He became notorious for his graffiti art under the moniker Samo in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene, sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for $200 and became best friends with Andy Warhol. Appreciated by both the art cognoscenti and the public, Basquiat was launched into international stardom. However, soon his cult status began to override the art that had made him famous in the first place. Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in this definitive documentary, but also delves into Basquiat as an iconoclast. His dense, bebop-influenced neoexpressionist work emerged while minimalist, conceptual art was the fad; as a successful black artist, he was constantly confronted by racism and misconceptions. Much can be gleaned from insider interviews and archival footage, but it is Basquiat's own words and work that powerfully convey the mystique and allure of both the artist and the man.
ANGELINA BALLERINA: The Nutcracker Sweet - Lionsgate
Angelina Ballerina is adorable and she really sparkles in this DVD. Now even though I have boys, they actually enjoyed it and wouldn't let me turn it off. There are boys though in the show but I do think it is geared more towards girls. My boys loved though all the different dances and music. I liked the whole Nutcracker theme. In this DVD, Angelina shows how to share, practice, and not eat so many sweets! The animation is bright and colorful and definitely great to get in the holiday mood!