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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 REVIEW  
1408

The only demons in room 1408 are those within you. Renowned horror novelist Mike Enslin (Cusack) only believes what he can see with his own two eyes. After a string of bestsellers discrediting paranormal events in the most infamous haunted houses and graveyards around the world, he scoffs at the concept of an afterlife. Enslin’s phantom-free run of long and lonely nights is about to change forever when he checks into suite 1408 of the notorious Dolphin Hotel for his latest project, “Ten Nights in Haunted Hotel Rooms.” Defying the warnings of the hotel manager (Jackson), the author is the first person in years to stay in the reputedly haunted room. Another bestseller may be imminent, but like all Stephen King heroes, Enslin must go from skeptic to true believer -- and ultimately survive the night. Relying on psychological tension rather than overt violence and gore, 1408 is a genuinely creepy thriller with a strong lead performance by John Cusack. This is a well done film, until the false ending. From that point on, I couldn’t care less about the film other than it end.

Starring: John Cusack & Samuel L. Jackson

Director: Mikael HÂfstrˆm

Company: Dimension

Now Showing: In area Theatres

MPAA Rating - PG-13

Grade: B-


MONK: Season Five - Universal

Shalhoub’s performance as the mentally unstable title character contains just the right mix of pathos and perfect comic timing, earning him an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the role. Adrian Monk (Shalhoub) is San Francisco’s most brilliant detective, but is unable to serve on the police force because of his crippling neuroses and obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, he continues his investigations independently, often solving cases before the actual police are able to do so, and always seeking out clues to the unsolved murder of his wife. The combination of comedy, mystery, and a distinctively eccentric character have led many to dub MONK the successor to COLUMBO. This release includes the entire fifth season of the show, with episodes featuring guest stars such as Stanley Tucci, Sean Astin, Chi McBride, and Sharon Lawrence. This set also features both black-and-white and color versions of neo-noir episode “Mr. Monk and the Leper.”

DRIVING LESSONS - Sony

With his orange-colored bowl haircut and freckled cheeks, actor Rupert Grint is perfectly cast as Ben, an awkward teenage boy whose reticence almost trespasses into total muteness. After a lifetime of being reined in by his overbearing, deeply religious mother (Laura Linney), Ben enters into the social world via his job as assistant to one spitfire of a diva, the washed-up actress Eve Walton (Julie Walters). Walton, unable to accept the disintegration of her once-lauded career, chews up the scenery with her theatrics, culled from both plays of her past and creations of her imagination. Yet it is exactly this overdramatic flair for life that awakens something in the actress’s repressed assistant, and, for the first time, Ben begins to assert himself and his ideas. Of course, this is much to the chagrin of his pious, controlling mother, who struggles in her stern way to keep Ben on the leash she has worked so hard to tighten around him.

TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH - Fox

Dashing Gregory Peck stars as General Frank Savage, commander of the 8th Air Force during World War II. Loosely based on the true story of Major General Frank A. Armstrong, TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH begins with Savage appearing to be a fearless fighter with almost no compassion for his men. Told in flashback from the perspective of Major Harvey Stovall (Dean Jagger), the story unfolds as Savage takes over Stovall’s Bomb Group in 1942. The company has suffered numerous losses, morale is at an all-time low, and the tired pilots and their crews are immediately antagonized by Savage’s obsession with discipline, leaving Savage and Stovall with the onerous task of rebuilding the pride of a fighting force that despises its leader. Jagger received an Oscar for his efforts, but the real star is Peck, exhibiting a vast repertoire to portray a complicated character. Using actual combat footage from both American and German cameras, director Henry King creates an environment in which bravery and heroism count but war itself is anything but romantic.

THE SAND PEBBLES - Fox

One of the most exciting and heart-wrenching epics ever made, The Sand Pebbles is a masterpiece of storytelling, with exceptional

performances by a stellar cast. The complex tale begins simply enough in 1926 China, where a group of American soldiers are patrolling the Yangtze River on a gunboat called the San Pablo. The crew members, who call themselves Sand Pebbles, includes Jake Holman (Steve McQueen), a dispassionate but capable navy machinist, and his only friend, Frenchy (Richard Attenborough), a sailor in love with an English-educated Chinese girl, Maily (Marayat Andriane), who has been sold into prostitution. Strong feelings of nationalism have been sweeping through China, however, and when Chiang Kai-shek moves against the feudal warlords, the United States decides to treat the upheaval as a civil war, and the San Pablo is ordered to confine its function to protection of American civilians in the area. Included among them are Mr. Jameson (Larry Gates), a missionary, and Shirley Eckert (Candice Bergen), a schoolteacher with whom Jake falls in love. Soon Jake finds himself in the middle of an international military crisis when his native assistant, Po-han (Mako), is brutally tortured in an attempt to draw the San Pablo’s fire, and the boat’s inexperienced and prideful captain (Richard Crenna) wants to give his humiliated ship and disgraced crew a chance for glory.

DIE HARD COLLECTION - Fox

“Die Hard”: A New York City policeman, John McClane, visiting his estranged wife and two daughters on Christmas Eve, joins her at a holiday party in the headquarters of the Japanese-owned business she works for. But the festivities are interrupted by a group of terrorists who take over the exclusive high-rise, and everyone in it. Very soon the cop realizes that there’s no one to save the hostages -- but him. “Die Hard 2: Die Harder”: An action-packed sequel to the 1989 film “Die Hard.” While former New York City cop John McClane, now a member of the Los Angeles Police Department, waits to pick up his wife in DC’s Dulles Airport, gunmen suddenly commandeer the building. They’re intent on rescuing a drug-dealing foreign despot who’s being brought to the US to stand trial. And once again McClane finds himself enmeshed in a terrorist plot that only he can prevent...

RENO 911: MIAMI - Fox

This isn’t Police Academy. There once was a franchise that took the humor of police antics and despite poor acting and weird voices and countless sequels it was still funny. Where have those days gone? If there were ever a few hours of my life that I want back it was watching this. A few times it was mildly funny, however, most of it I would rather have driven toothpicks into my cuticles while being water tortured by a CIA operative. The premise of the movie is based on Comedy Central’s Reno 911 characters that go to a police conference in Miami. From then on the characters participate in countless illegal acts that give the sensationalist seeking audience a minor buzz. Once the nudity and senseless humor die down the cast is sober enough to actually save the day. Ultimately a poor attempt at a sequel and a terrible knockoff from the Police Academy franchise. I’ll grant it a few laughs but nothing more. Review by Nathan Herrington.

THE MANHATTAN PROJECT - Fox

What Paul Stevens (Collett) proves is that high school students can blow up the world. A slow moving drama, the film details the life of a high school kid that loves science. Lucky for him, his mom falls in love with a physicist and well, the Big Bang Theory is at your fingertips. A little far fetched, the director allows this supergeek and girlfriend to break into a secret plutonium producing factory and steal a bit of daddy’s secret sauce. When he enters the science fair he really has issues on his hands when the government decides that high school kids are not allowed to build atomic bombs. I guess they’ll have to find other things to do now. All in all, the film is interesting despite a few slow moving parts and being a bit dated even for a quality 80’s flick. John Lithgow in the early days is amusing. That alone makes it worth seeing on a Saturday afternoon. Review by Nathan Herrington.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  July 18, 2007