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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  
SICKO

The most dangerous aspect of ‘hidden information’ is really who hid it, and why? America’s most incendiary filmmaker, Michael Moore, returned in 2007 with this health-care-industry exposÈ. Sicko tackles material as controversial as the topics explored in Moore’s other films, yet does so in a way that places the focus on ordinary Americans affected by the nation’s health-care crisis. After providing some historical background on how our nation’s medical care system became so ravaged and unfair, Moore interviews a series of individuals and families who have had their lives all but destroyed by the denial of care in the service of profit. While there are two sides to the gun-control debate and even a legitimate discourse for how to best wage the war on terror, it’s simply impossible to justify how a baby girl can wind up dead because her mother’s health insurance wasn’t accepted at a nearby hospital. Moore smartly allows this and other stories to be told with little or no interference, conjuring strong feelings of empathy, rage, and deep sadness. We have been accustomed in the United States to simply being told about everything that is good or bad for you and we simply were supposed to accept it, much in the same way we did when we were children. “Because I said so,” would bellow my mother. That was always the mantra in my house - the only explanation I would ever receive. Michael Moore, like him or not simply won’t accept that. He pushes and pushes until he gets what he wants, and that is the potential problem here. What kind of a spin exists here, behind the hidden information. Aye, there’s the rub. Of course, Sicko isn’t a PBS documentary, it’s a Michael Moore movie, and his fingerprints are all over it. Moore visits countries that have universal health care--spectacularly so when he takes several World Trade Center workers to Guantanamo Bay (and then to Cuba) to receive health care that they were denied in the United States--and presents a compelling argument for adopting a similar system in the States.

Moore’s ultimate purpose here is to compel Americans to care for one another, and it’s a simple request that shockingly must be made via a major motion picture, making Sicko essential viewing.

Sicko

Starring: Michael Moore

Director: Michael Moore

Company: Weinstein

Now Showing: In area Theatres

MPAA Rating - PG-13

Grade: B


DVD Picks

BENSON: Season One - Sony

Following his breakout success on the legendary sitcom Soap, star Robert Guillaume reprises his popular role as beloved butler Benson DuBois in the fabulous first season of this hit spin off. Though a longtime fixture of Soap’s cracy Tate family, Benson is sent by his employer, Jessica, to help run the disorganized household of her widowed cousin, Governor Eugen Gatling (James Noble). Once there, the fast thinking, quick witted servant soon finds himself not only managing the Governor’s mansion staff and helping to raise the Governor’s daughter, Katie (Missy Gold), but even advising the Governor himself. The Governor may be the boss, but it’s Benson who’s in charge in this riotous series that is a must own for any classic TV comedy fan. All 24 season one episodes are included along with a few special features.

PERFUME - Dreamworks

Author Patrick Suskind enjoys a career shrouded in Salinger-esque mystery. Suskind’s best-selling novel PERFUME was coveted by Hollywood for many years, and finally makes it to the screen in this production helmed by Tom Tykwer. The film stays remarkably faithful to the author’s vision, perfectly summoning up the brooding ominousness of small-town life in 18th-century France, and getting the casting of its central character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw), exactly right. Grenouille is an orphan whose sense of smell is extraordinarily acute. He impresses master perfumer Baldini (Dustin Hoffman) enough to work for him, and this sets Grenouille off on an epic quest to find the perfect scent. When he discovers that killing young women and bottling their essence is the only way he can achieve his dream, Grenouille is soon a wanted man with multiple murders to his name.

However, when it comes to making one last kill--namely the attractive redhead Laura (Rachel Hurd-Wood)--the young perfumer may have met his match in her overprotective father, Richis (Alan Rickman). Perfume is what you’d expect from a Tom Twyker-directed movie glamorizing a serial killer: a kinetic visual feast, with a dark antihero that’s impossible to feel sympathy for.

FACTORY GIRL - Weinstein

In Factory Girl, Sienna Miller is the enchanting, enigmatic Edie, offering a moving characterization of the extremely troubled model/actress. The film kicks off as Edie, the daughter of a well-to-do horse rancher, leaves art school and moves to Manhattan in the mid-’60s. Her friend Chuck Wein (Jimmy Fallon) introduces her to Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce), and Andy is immediately taken with the waifish, wealthy Edie. He welcomes her into his Factory, the silver aluminum-foil covered loft where an assortment of artists and oddballs assisted him with his projects. Edie quickly falls into the hard partying, drug-addled scene, starring in Andy’s experimental films and becoming his constant companion. She becomes well-known for her unique style, and the fashion industry taps her as its very first “It” girl.

Edie is flying high on Andy, speed, and stardom, when she happens to meet the Bob Dylan-esque “Folksinger” (Hayden Christenson). She falls in love with him, and in doing so, falls out of Andy’s favor. Her drug addiction spirals out of control, her parents cut off her cash flow, and her very bright star seems to burn out almost as quickly as it rose. There are numerous extras included in this sexy, uncut, and unrated version of Factory Girl.

BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA (BluRay) - Disney

Based on the popular Newbery Award-winning novel, Bridge to Terabithia is a fantasy/adventure story of friendship, family and the power of imagination from the producers of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) is an outsider at school and even in his own family. Jess has trained all summer to become the fastest kid in his middle school class but his goal is unexpectedly thwarted by the new girl in school, Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb) who competes in the “boys only” race and wins.

This Blu-ray edition sounds much better than the Standard Edition DVD.

The picture is slightly better, with less edge enhancement.

THE UNTOUCHABLES (BluRay) - Paramount

In 1930’s Chicago, with the prohibition of alcohol in full effect, mobsters like Al Capone (Robert DeNiro) are thriving through violence, intimidation, and greed. Enter Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and his untouchables, a group of idealistic treasury officers out to shut down Capone at all costs. When these two groups meet, the results are explosive, as a confrontation between justice and infamy ignites. As

I watched this DVD, I was reminded what a wonderfully incredible film the untouchables is. Paramount has once again hit a home run with an admirable special features package that include the script, Featurette, and the theatrical trailer. Amazing action sequences, high caliber acting, poignant moments of emotion, a pre Waterworld Kevin Costner - this film has it all. I consider it a must-have for any true movie aficionado’s collection. This Blu-Ray edition is stunning. It is incredibly film-like and the colors are near perfect. The DTS 6.1 sound is amazingly clear and detailed. This is a must for your DVD collection.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  August 02, 2007