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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


Set in Harlem in 1987, Precious is the story of Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe). Precious is a sixteen year old African American girl born into a life no one would want. She is bullied at school, tormented by her mother and repeatedly violated by her stepfather. We find Precious pregnant for the second and at home, she must wait hand and foot on her mother (Mo’Nique), who is a poisonously angry woman who abuses her emotionally and physically. School is a place of chaos, and Precious has reached the ninth grade with good marks and an awful secret: she can neither read nor write.

Precious may sometimes be down, but she is never out. Beneath her impassive expression is a watchful, curious young woman with an inchoate but unshakable sense that other possibilities exist for her. Threatened with expulsion, Precious is offered the chance to transfer to an alternative school, Each One/Teach One. Precious doesn’t know the meaning of “alternative,” but her instincts tell her this is the chance she has been waiting for. In the literacy workshop taught by the patient yet firm Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), Precious begins a journey that will lead her from darkness, pain and powerlessness to light, love and self-determination.

Frankly, this film should be added to any film fans ‘not to be missed’ list of pictures. Precious is based on Sapphire’s novel, Push and the transfer has been very well done. The treatment of the film could easily be misinterpreted as a violent presentation, however this picture presents a very raw view of overcoming lives obstacles and reaching for ones dreams. There is no question this film and its performances will be talked about in Oscar conversations at the end of the year. This film can be seen at the Angelika Film Center tonight, Wednesday November 11, at the Angelika Film Center as part of the Cinema Arts Festival.

Starring: Gabourey Sidibe
& Mo’Nique
Director: Lee Daniels
Company: Lionsgate
Now Showing: In area
MPAA Rating: R
Grade: A


In this quirky dark comedy inspired by a real life story you will hardly believe is actually true, astonishing revelations about a top-secret wing of the U.S. military come to light when a reporter encounters an enigmatic Special Forces operator on a mind-boggling mission.

Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) is in search of his next big story when he encounters Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a shadowy figure who claims to be part of an experimental U.S. military unit. According to Cassady, the New Earth Army is changing the way wars are fought. A legion of “Warrior Monks” with unparalleled psychic powers can read the enemy’s thoughts, pass through solid walls, and even kill a goat simply by staring at it. Now, the program’s founder, Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), has gone missing and Cassady’s mission is to find him.

Intrigued by his new acquaintance’s far-fetched stories, Bob impulsively decides to accompany him on the search. When the pair tracks Django to a clandestine training camp run by renegade psychic Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey), the reporter is trapped in the middle of a grudge match between the forces of Django’s New Earth Army and Hooper’s personal militia of super soldiers. In order to survive this wild adventure, Bob will have to outwit an enemy he never thought possible.

The Men Who Stare at Goats was inspired by Jon Ronson’s non-fiction bestseller of the same name, an eye-opening and often hilarious exploration of the government’s attempts to harness paranormal abilities to combat its enemies. This film is quirky, entertaining, and sure to cause chuckles throughout the film.

The Men Who Stare at Goats
Starring: George Clooney
& Jeff Bridges
Director: Grant Heslov
Company: Overture
Now Showing: In area
MPAA Rating: R
Grade: B

DVD Reviews

We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy The Hunger: Season Two or Wubbzy Christmas Adventure on DVD, 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!

Presented by Sherman Alexie and Charles Burnett, The Exiles chronicles one night in the lives of young Native American men and women living in the Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles. A formally wealthy neighborhood of decayed Victorian mansions and skid-row apartment buildings. Gritty, realistic and far ahead of its time made in a period when Hollywood films featured Native Americans as noble savages. Using a script created exclusively from recorded interviews with the participants and their friends, the film follows a group of exiles transplants from Southwest reservations as they flirt, drink, party, fight, and dance. Originally completed in 1961 but never released theatrically, The Exiles is a rediscovered masterpiece that lay dormant in the archives for over 45 years. Milestone Cinematheque is pleased to announce the deluxe DVD release of this stunning film, gorgeously restored, and painstakingly re-mastered.

GET SMART: Complete Series - HBO

Maxwell Smart is back... And loving it! And so is Agent 99, The Chief, Fang and the rest of the fearless Get Smart gang. Here is the legendary, Emmy Award-winning spy-spoof series inspired by the comic genius of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, digitally restored, remastered and brought to you for the first time on DVD. Now it's easier than ever to out-smart the world's least secret...secret agent, in this cunningly funny 25-DVD collection, featuring all 138 original episodes of Get Smart! This Get Smart Gift set is a must-have collector's item!

March of the Penguins instantly qualifies as a wildlife classic, taking its place among other extraordinary films like Microcosmos and Winged Migration. French filmmaker Luc Jacquet and his devoted crew endured a full year of extreme conditions in Antarctica to capture the life cycle of Emperor penguins on film, and their diligence is evident in every striking frame of this 80-minute documentary. Narrated in soothing tones by Morgan Freeman, the film focuses on a colony of hundreds of Emperors as they return, in a single-file march of 70 miles or more, to their frozen breeding ground, far inland from the oceans where they thrive. At times dramatic, suspenseful, mischievous and just plain funny, the film conveys the intensity of the penguins' breeding cycle, and their treacherous task of protecting eggs and hatchlings in temperatures as low as 128 degrees below zero.

Supple super hero Plastic Man bends criminals to justice in these 35 exciting animated adventures from the vintage TV series. Jetsetting around the world in the Plastijet with girlfriend Penny and sidekick Hula Hula, the cool, confident Plas wraps up evil villains like Solex, Weed, Half-Ape, The Clam, Computerhead, and Disco Mummy. With the power to conform to any shape or size, Plas can grow, shrink, or flex his way out of any situation--except Penny's jealous grip. Never yielding under pressure, the only cracks in his super hero style are the quips he throws at his nemeses while turning the tables on them. When danger calls, this is the only four-disc collector's set--including elastically exciting extras--with enough twists to showcase Plastic Man! Features: retrospective featurette and Plastic Man animated series unaired pilot episode.

In mind-blowing IMAX detail, unravel the enshrouded human time capsules that have become the most fascinating mystery of our time Egypt's mummies. Probe ancient tombs to uncover these carefully hidden phenomena, and follow top scientists as they embark on a modern-day forensic investigation of the mummies that could have huge implications in the study of modern diseases. Film scanned at 8K for superior video quality.

The Claudette Colbert Collection celebrates the career of one of the most popular and versatile actresses of all time. Equally charming in screwball comedies (It Happened One Night), epics (Cleopatra) and dramas (Imitation of Life), Claudette's striking beauty and captivating talent dazzled audiences around the world. This stunning collection of 6 rare films includes Three-Cornered Moon, Maid of Salem, I Met Him in Paris, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, No Time for Love and The Egg and I. Co-starring Hollywood favorites Fred MacMurray and Gary Cooper, The Claudette Colbert Collection is a much-needed spotlight on one of Hollywood’s true cinematic greats. Three-Cornered Moon (1933) Laughter is the best medicine in tough times, and that is certainly the case for Elizabeth (Claudette Colbert) and her three brothers who are forced to find work after their eccentric family’s fortune is lost.

Love Actually is the ultimate romantic comedy from the makers of Bridget Jones’s Diary and Notting Hill. Funny, irresistible and heartwarming, an all-star cast (Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth and Emma Thompson) will take you on a breathtaking tour of love’s delightful twists and turns. Fall under the spell of Love Actually and share the laughs and charm again and again.

Four armed men seize a New York City subway train, isolate one car, and threaten to start killing passengers if a ransom isn't paid within the hour. The ransom was a million dollars in the book and also in Joseph Sargent's solid 1974 movie, in which Robert Shaw played the mercenary leading the hostage takers and Walter Matthau was the growling transit cop trying to outsmart him. In 2009, the title has gone digital--The Taking of Pelham 123--and inflation has jumped the asking price to $10 million. Where Shaw's menace was steely, John Travolta opts for manic, and shamelessly has a blast in the master villain role. His adversary, cagily underplayed by Denzel Washington, has been upgraded in civil-service rank but also demoted on suspicion of taking a bribe. This colors the dynamics of the dialogue between Washington at his control-center console and Travolta on the motorman's microphone aboard the stalled train.

SpongeBob SquarePants has gotten himself into quite a predicament. After being entrusted by Mr. Krabs to keep the Krabby Patty formula safe, SpongeBob is overcome with grief for losing the recipe. He then relies on the help of the most unlikely companion, Plankton, who wants the secret Krabby Patty recipe for himself. With the help of his friends, SpongeBob must use Plankton’s memory machine to retrace the happiest moments of his life to find the Krabby Patty formula in time for the Krusty Krab’s Eleventy Seventh anniversary.

The documentary Enlighten Up! takes a whimsical, skeptical, and ultimately thoughtful look at the mysteries of yoga. Taking an approach similar to Supersize Me, filmmaker (and student of yoga) Kate Churchill wants to see what happens when someone is first exposed to this physical and spiritual discipline. She chooses Nick Rosen, a former journalist with a skeptical attitude towards religion. Their investigation--which gradually turns combative, forcing Churchill to re-examine her own assumptions--takes them from the commercial yoga studios of New York (where one student says, with a beatific smile, that yoga gives you better sleep, better sex, and will inspire new ways to make money) to a former pro wrestler's "t & a" yoga in Los Angeles and on to India where they discover as many perspectives on yoga as there are yogis. Rosen, with his open but down-to-earth attitude, proves an excellent lens to view a subject all too often treated with blissful and vapid reverence.

A one-hour, dramatic series that follows the adventures of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) team as they investigate, defend and prosecute military-related cases from their home base near Washington, D.C. Commander Harmon “Harm” Rabb, Jr. (David James Elliott) is a daring Navy officer and lawyer who works together with partner Lt. Colonel Sarah “Mac” MacKenzie (Catherine Bell), commanding officer Admiral Chegwidden (John M. Jackson) and attorney Lieutenant Bud Roberts (Patrick Labyorteaux).

Director Eran Riklis makes his home in Tel Aviv, but his films tend to occupy the borders between nations. Co-written with Suha Arraf, Lemon Tree serves as a companion to their previous collaboration, The Syrian Bride. Hiam Abbass from The Visitor returns as Salma Zidane, a widow who tends the family lemon grove along the Green Line dividing Palestine from the West Bank (Arraf and Abbass are both of Palestinian-Israeli descent). When the Israeli defense minister, Israel Navon (Doron Tavory), and his wife, Mira (Rona Lipaz-Michael), move in next door, his security detail advices him to destroy it since terrorists could use the trees for cover. After Navon conveys his intentions, Salma springs into action, hiring a recently-divorced lawyer, Ziad Daud (Ali Suliman, who co-starred with Abbass in Paradise Now), to take her fight to the courts. Initially, Navon has all the power and Salma has none, but Mira, who also suffers from empty nest syndrome, feels for the lonely woman next door--and Ziad finds her compelling in ways that Salma's Palestinian neighbors finds inappropriate (he's younger and rumors link him to a politician's daughter). Then the media gets wind of the skirmish and paints it as a classic David versus Goliath story, but the Israeli Supreme Court will have the final say.

Fear and paranoia seep from every wall in this tense and creepy psychological thriller from the producers of The Ring and Dark Water. Jesse Bradford (W., Bring It On) is Bobby Walker, fresh out of prison and living in his dead mother's apartment as a condition of his parole. Plagued by eerie echoes of the dead trapped in the building, Bobby's terror mounts as he begins to suspect his neighbors had a sinister hand in his mother's death ... and could come for him next.

Brooklyn native Mike Manadoro (Kevin Zegers, Transamerica, Dawn of the Dead) has a dream-but he's got to risk his life to make it come true. To afford tuition at a prestigious Manhattan university, Mike takes a job with the local mob boss (Titus Welliver, Gone Baby Gone, TV's Deadwood). But as his assignments grow more dangerous, he learns the true meaning of loyalty when he gets some help from a very unlikely source. Featuring Vincent D'Onofrio (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) and Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill), The Narrows is a gritty, real-life portrait of a young man torn between his traditional Italian-American neighborhood and the elite Manhattan world just across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes the horseman known as Zorro. Debuting October 10, 1957, Walt Disney's thrilling series about the masked avenger was so successful, it made Zorro a household name -- and quashed every series that went up against it. Filled with action, adventure and suspense, this volume presents the first season's 39 episodes (all newly restored and remastered) in their original blakc-and-white format. To enrich your experience of Disney's unforgettable classic, this six-disc set also includes Zorro: El Bandido and Zorro: Adios El Chuchillo, the rarely seen two-part, one-hour specials shown on Disney's anthology series, Walt Disney Presents. Then discover the many faces of Zorro from his literary beginnings through the creation of the Disney TV series. Featuring exclusive introductions by film historian Leonard Maltin, this is a timeless collection from generations past for generations to come.

With his sword, whip and trusty steed Tornado, Zorro continued to fight the forces of evil in the second season of Walt Disney's legendary classic. The final 39 swashbuckling episodes saw even more children dressing up as the sly fox Zorro in Spanish and making the sign of the Z The second season aired from October 9, 1958, through July 2, 1959, and is presented here -- newly restored and remastered in its original black-and-white format. To add even more thrills to this six-disc set, we've included two rarely seen one-hour specials shown on Walt Disney's anthology series Walt Disney Presents -- Zorro: The postponed Wedding and Zorro: Auld Aquaintance. You'll meet Guy Williams in a profile of the actor who became an overnight star in the role he was born to play. And you'll meet his stunt double, Buddy Van Horn. Featuring exclusive introductions by film historian Leonard Maltin, this is a timeless collection from generations past for generations to come.

Set against the stunning vistas of the Rocky Mountains, Heartland follows fifteen-year-old horse whisperer Amy (Amber Marshall), her older sister Lou (Michelle Morgan) and her grandfather Jack (Shaun Johnston) through the highs and lows of life on a family-owned horse ranch. Includes 6 episodes based on the best-selling Scholastic book series by Lauren Brooke.

With a new book deal, a fabulous apartment and a stable relationship, psychologist turned sex expert Kate Langford (Rachael Crawford) is living her dream. That is, until her publisher pairs her up with the arrogant yet irresistible PhD, Benjamin Chase (Adam Harrington). Also starring Rachel Wilson, Jeff Seymour and Alberta Watson. As seen on Oxygen

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Contact Filmlords@gmail.com if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:
November 11 , 2009