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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.
 
DVD Picks  
THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY - IFC Films

Set in 1916 in Ireland, THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY is the story of Damien (Cillain Murphy), a young Irishman about to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. When his friend is brutally murdered for standing up to a band of British soldiers, Damien abandons his medical career and joins his brother Teddy (Padraic Delany) in the fight for freedom. Small guerrilla groups of Irish farmers begin to wage bloody attacks, forcing the government to negotiate a ceasefire. The Anglo-Irish Peace Treaty is offered, but it puts Teddy and Damien at odds. Teddy believes they should accept the treaty and try to work within the system to avoid further bloodshed, while Damien thinks they should continue to fight until they are completely free of British rule. Whereas the two brothers used to fight side by side, they now find themselves divided, and forced to choose between their familial bond and their ardent beliefs.

Murphy and Delany both give standout performances as the battling brothers. Murphy flashes his otherworldly blue eyes and conveys his character’s fierce intellect, as well as the deep sadness of his struggle. Delany, for his part, tries to come off as all brawn and bravery, but cannot conceal his sensitive heart--his face glows with rage one minute, then crumples into sorrow the next. Director Ken Loach, who won the Palme d’Or for the film, has created a deeply personal war story, with an attention to detail that is heartbreaking in its realism. The sight of the young men training for battle with hurley bats instead of rifles will make the viewer gasp at the disparity between the warring sides. While some might flinch at the graphic violence depicted, the film stands strong as a raw, human portrait of a deeply troubled moment in history.

FRAGGLE ROCK: Season Three - HIT

This show surrounds the wild and crazy adventures of creatures that live below the ground. If you like the Muppet Show, this show is for you. The same quality of the Muppet Show and Sesame Street are contained here in Fraggle rock. Jim Henson’s magic is evident with this clever show surrounding the life of Fraggles as they go from one adventure to another living every moment of life to its fullest. The puppetry is great, the voices are entertaining and the songs are cute. They just don’t make shows like this anymore. I highly recommend this for younger viewers. Long live Fraggle rock.

BOB THE BUILDER: Scrambler to the Rescue - HIT

This is an educational show featuring Bob, the builder who helps kids make the right choices in life. As far as this show goes, younger kids will enjoy the program. Bob is funny and says just the right thing to make you laugh. The animation and color schemes are great for young eyes with lots of campy music and funny stories. Watching this program is like seeing your Fischer Price toys come to life. The overall premise of the show helps kids make the right choices and learn things while having fun. I highly recommend this show for families with very small children. You can’t go wrong with this one. The DVD is presented in Full Screen format with crisp picture and sound.

DEATH PROOF - Dimension

Master director Quentin Tarantino indulges his inner fanboy by paying homage to his favorite B-movies in DEATH PROOF. Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) stalks beautiful women with his deadly vintage car, but when he picks a trio of tough girls (Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, and Zoe Bell), he learns they aren’t such easy prey. As with any Tarantino film, there are plenty of nods to pop culture. Most of the scenes are deliberately short on plot development, the dialogue comes thick and fast throughout, and the film stock is often cleverly manipulated to perfectly replicate the B-movie aesthetic.

CAROLINA MOON - Sony

Claire Forlaini, Oliver Hudson and Jacqueline Bisset star in this exciting thriller about a woman returning to her hometown to make peace with her unsettling past. Tory (Forlani) knew coming home wouldn’t be easy, even if she didn’t have a gift for psychic visions. A trip down memory lane means reliving horrific images that flashed through her mind many years before, the night her childhood friend Hope was brutally killed. As though that weren’t twisted enough, Tory soon discovers that Hope’s death was only the first in a string of murders that have continued every year since that terrible day. And the worst part? This sociopath has been waiting patiently for Tory’s return. So now she’s got two choices: use her supernatural powers to catch this killer or end up his next victim!

DELTA FARCE (Blu-Ray) - Lions Gate

Blue Collar Comedy Tour veterans Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall team up in DELTA FARCE, a military-spoof comedy featuring their southern red-neck stand-up schtick. Bill and Larry, along with their scrawny friend Everett (played by DJ Qualls), are weekend warriors in the Army reserves. Not only have they not trained, but they see the weekend as a getaway from the pressures of their daily lives. But with the military’s forces depleted by the no-end-in-sight Iraq War, they turn to their reservists. Bill, Larry, and Everett are thrown into whirlwind boot-camp sessions, led by the commanding powerhouse Sgt. Kilgore (Keith David), to prepare for their upcoming deployment to Iraq. On their overnight flight to the Middle East, a thunderstorm threatens the cargo carrier, and equipment fitted with parachutes is dumped to lighten the load. Unfortunately, this includes the three bumbling friends, who sought refuge in an all-terrain vehicle to catch up on some sleep. They wake up in the desert, confused and disoriented, and assume they’ve reached the mission destination. But it turns out they aren’t anywhere near Iraq--they’ve landed in Mexico, where they stumble upon a small village that has been overrun and terrorized by gun-wielding gangsters.

TROY: Special Edition - Warner

Throughout time, men have waged war. Some for power, some for glory, some for honor - and some for love. In ancient Greece, the passion of two of literature’s most notorious lovers, Paris, Prince of Troy (ORLANDO BLOOM) and Helen (DIANE KRUGER), Queen of Sparta, ignites a war that will devastate a civilization. When Paris spirits Helen away from her husband, King Menelaus (BRENDAN GLEESON), it is an insult that cannot be suffered. Familial pride dictates that an affront to Menelaus is an affront to his brother Agamemnon (BRIAN COX), powerful King of the Mycenaeans, who soon unites all the massive tribes of Greece to steal Helen back from Troy in defense of his brother’s honor. In truth, Agamemnon’s pursuit of honor is corrupted by his overwhelming greed - he needs to conquer Troy to seize control of the Aegean, thus ensuring the supremacy of his already vast empire. The walled city, under the leadership of King Priam (PETER O’TOOLE) and defended by mighty Prince Hector (ERIC BANA), is a citadel that no army has ever been able to breach. One man alone stands as the key to victory or defeat over Troy - Achilles (BRAD PITT), believed to be the greatest warrior alive. Arrogant, rebellious and seemingly invincible, Achilles has allegiance to nothing and no one, save his own glory. It is his insatiable hunger for eternal renown that leads him to attack the gates of Troy under Agamemnon’s banner - but it will be love that ultimately decides his fate. Two worlds will go to war for honor and power. Thousands will fall in pursuit of glory. And for love, a nation will burn to the ground.

BEYOND THE GATES - Fox

Joe Connor has come to teach in Rwanda because he believes he can make a difference. When the school becomes a haven for thousands of Rwandans fleeing the genocide, Joe promises his brightest pupil, Marie, that the UN soldiers will protect her from the hordes of extremist militia baying for blood outside the school. But when the UN abandon the refugees, Joe and the school’s headmaster, Father Christopher, face an agonising dilemma: should they leave or should they stand firm with the Rwandans. As the UN trucks force their way through the terrified refugees, Joe stares at the tear-stained face of Marie: what should he do? What would you do? Based on real events and filmed at the actual location where this story took place, Beyond the Gates is directed by Michael Caton-Jones and stars John Hurt and Hugh Dancy. It is an emotionally gripping, authentic and powerful recreation of a tragic real life story that took place during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT: Season One - Sony

His mid-season replacement earned a loyal fanship when it premiered in 2007. The comedy revolves around two couples and their lone single friend, played by David Spade. As a newlywed couple (Oliver Hudson and Bianca Kajlich) navigates the tough terrain of marriage, old pros Patrick Warburton and Megyn Price share the wisdom they’ve gathered after many years of marriage. Meanwhile, Russell (Spade) is all on his own. The whole first season is included here.

TWO AND A HALF MEN: Season One - Warner

Charlie Harper is a bachelor in paradise, complete with a Malibu beach house, overpaid job and a very active dating life. Then his uptight brother Alan, in the throes of divorce, moves in and brings his 10 year old son Jake with him. Sorry, Charlie. It looks like paradise lost! This four disc set includes all 24 season one episodes of the breezy comedy that stars Charlie Sheen and Job Cryer. As the brothers reestablish a sense of family, Charlie also bonds with Jake (Angus T. Jones). Meet the Harper men - two adults, one kid, and no grown ups!

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  September 27, 2007