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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 Reviews  
A ROOM WITH A VIEW: HD - BBC

Helena Bonham Carter stars as a young Englishwoman, Lucy Honeychurch. When Lucy and her spinster chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith), travel to Florence, they meet an unconventional Englishman, Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott), and his romantically unhappy son, George (Julian Sands). After George makes the grievous mistake of kissing Lucy during a picnic in the Florentine hills, Charlotte rushes her back to England. Safely home, Lucy becomes engaged to the stiff, very proper Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis), but after finding out the Emersons have moved close by, Lucy has a hard time ignoring her attraction to the unsuitable George.

MEET THE ROBINSONS: Blu-Ray - Disney

Based on William Joyce’s beautifully illustrated children’s book A Day With Wilbur Robinson, this lively computer-animated Disney film follows the adventures of Lewis (voiced by Jordan Fry and Daniel Hansen), a young orphaned inventor who is determined to find his birth mother by using a “memory scanner,” a device of his own creation. When Lewis meets a boy from the year 2037 named Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman), they begin a charmingly strange time-traveling journey that involves Wilbur’s eccentric family, bowler hats bent on world domination, song-and-dance frogs, and a frustrated Tyrannosaurus Rex.

SCARY MOVIE: Blu-Ray - Dimension

In the tradition of such genre parodies as Airplane, The Naked Gun, and Spaceballs, Keenen Ivory Wayans takes on the teen horror flick with Scary Movie, a campy, riotous send-up of everything from the Scream and Halloween franchises to I Know What You Did Last Summer, Carrie, and The Blair Witch Project. In a small town, a copycat is reenacting the Scream murders, and local reporter Gail Hailstorm will do just about anything to get the story. The six high school students who ran over a man on a sharp curve the year before think the killer is out for revenge, but sweet and innocent Cindy Campbell believes that the madman might just lurk a lot closer to home.

THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK - Docurama

Marine Captain Brian Steidle is an unlikely hero. Not because he isn’t brave; he has shown courage under fire. But Steidle’s accomplishment is entirely unexpected; he is a soldier who is learning to change the world through peaceful means. The subject is Darfur. The journey takes place over the course of 18 months. Steidle went to Sudan as an unarmed military observer working for the African Union. He left as a witness to what many believe is genocide in the western Darfur region, a conflict that has claimed 400,000 lives and displaced 2.5 million people. In the transformation from soldier to observer to witness and activist, we see a man at first confounded by his naivetÈ and then confronted by the urgency of a humanitarian catastrophe that he sees unfolding firsthand.

ROSEANNE: Season Nine - Starz

Season nine of Roseanne continues the legendary series with equal dashes of hilarity and the bizarre. Along the way the loose meat saga continues, Darlene gets married, and Dan has a heart attack. In some ways a foreshadowing of the complete turnaround of the final season, these episodes bring closure to a ground breaking series.

THE BLUE PLANET: The Seas of Life - BBC

This collection comprises the first four installments of the underwater series The Blue Planet. Also included is a fifth, additional program containing plenty of previously unseen material. Please see these individual volumes for further details: “Ocean World/Frozen Seas,” “Open Ocean/The Deep,” “Seasonal Seas/Coral Seas,” and “Tidal Seas/Coasts.”

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS: Blu-Ray - Fox

In Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, a suburban fairy tale with incredibly imaginative sets, an Avon lady, Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest), discovers the half-finished experiment--a man/monster named Edward (Johnny Depp)--of a mad scientist (played magically by Vincent Price) living in the neighborhood’s old abandoned castle. The scientist died before replacing the shy man’s large shears with real hands. When Peg attempts to bring Edward into her suburban world, to live among her skeptical family (husband Alan Arkin and daughter Winona Ryder) and gossipy neighbors, his hands--dangerous yet capable of creating things of great beauty--make for some awkward, funny, and poignant situations: Edward as a topiary gardener, Edward as a cutting-edge hair stylist. Edward Scissorhands is a story about tolerance, difference, and creativity as much as it is a story of a young man’s coming of age (the young man in question is, of course, a monster). In the ironically surreal world of Edward’s suburban community, he must try to find his place in it, and in the world at large.

ROBOCOP: Blu-Ray - Fox

Peter Weller stars in this urban sci-fi Western as Murphy, a good cop who literally gets shot to pieces while on duty and winds up reborn as a crime-fighting machine. An ambitious executive (Miguel Ferrer) at OCP, the corporation running the futuristic city of Detroit, fuses Murphy’s torso with bulletproof steel limbs and rewires his brain with computer chips so he will have no will of his own. Murphy’s former partner (Nancy Allen) tries to help RoboCop remember his human past, but his circuitry blocks whatever dim memories remain. Luckily, a chance encounter with one of his killers wakes up the human essence in RoboCop, causing him to rebel against his programming and commence on a one-cyborg mission of vengeance that leads all the way to the top of OCP. This second English-language film by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven is unremittingly brutal, darkly comic, and filled with bits of clever satire and pathos. A special highlight is the hilariously incompetent ED-209, RoboCop’s main rival in the department of automated law enforcement. Considered by many critics to be one of the best films of its genre, Robocop was followed by several sequels and a 1994 TV series.

THE FLY: Blu-Ray - Fox

David Cronenberg’s remake of the 1958 classic transcends its genre to become a moving portrait of a man and his lover attempting to come to terms with his physical disintegration. “The Fly” stars Jeff Goldblum as a spaced-out scientist who invents a genetic teleportation machine and accidentally transforms himself into a fly. In the horrifyingly graphic detail that is his trademark, Cronenberg depicts the scientist’s painful mutation from human into insect. What gives the film its tragic dimension is the emotional depth of the relationship between the scientist and his journalist girlfriend (Geena Davis) as she witnesses his slow, painful metamorphosis.

FROM HELL: Blu-Ray - Fox

From Hell is a gory detective film cloaked in Victorian-era mystique.

The movie shows how the serial killer Jack the Ripper stalked the dark streets of 1888 London, slaying prostitutes and crudely dissecting their bodies. Based on the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, this moody chiller is directed by twin brothers Albert and Allen Hughes. Johnny Depp stars as Inspector Frederick Abberline, who smokes heavy doses of opium and drowns himself in absinthe to evoke hallucinatory visions that are his clues to catching the Ripper. Heather Graham costars as the prettiest of the floozies, who wins the muted affections of the Inspector. With plenty of atmosphere and spooky effects, From Hell borrows scenery, filming tricks, and sequence construction from a host of popular movies, resulting in a visually interesting--if inconsistent--style. Haunting nighttime shots of the London skyline (actually Prague) bleed into shadowy Tim Burton-like prowls through the damp cobblestone streets; aerial camerawork contrasts with crowded ground-level focuses; and the camera peeks around corners and into foggy windows with stealthy curiosity.

What may stand out most in viewers minds after the carnage is through, is the exaggerated use of surround sound, which brings a dreadful sense of reality to the film’s gore, making From Hell all the juicier.

CSI MIAMI: Season Five - Paramount

The heat moves from Miami to Rio de Janeiro in this action-packed, sizzling fifth season of CSI: MIAMI. Horatio (David Caruso) and Delko (Adam Rodriguez) are out for revenge on the streets of Rio, but what they’re about to discover will both shock them and lead to tragedy. Of course, these guys are too tough and smart to back down even as two drug lords, Riaz and Diago Matos stand in their path towards avenging the death of Horatio’s wife. But putting these thugs away will also reveal Horatio’s nephew’s involvement in a conspiracy to ship heroin back to the U.S. Police work and family life cross over in the show that keeps viewers enthralled by blazing guns, hot scenery, and cool characters. This release includes every episode of the drama’s fifth season.

CHINATOWN: SE - Paramount

Many films from the 1970s allow even the most gripping narratives to flow with the consequences of real life. Chinatown is a classic film whose intrigues and adventures culminate in life-changing moments for its protagonist, Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson). Director Roman Polanski’s classic neo-noir detective story is set during a heat wave in 1930s Los Angeles, where residents suffer from a water shortage due to an ongoing drought. With stellar contributions from composer Jerry Goldsmith and screenwriter Robert Towne, whose script recalls the hard-boiled cynicism of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, Chinatown is a complex and superbly crafted period drama that has become Polanski’s most critically acclaimed film. Private investigator Gittes runs a sleazy detective agency. When a client (Diane Ladd) hires him to spy on her “husband,” who is rumored to be having an affair with a younger woman, Jake uncovers a plot against the man--but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Yet to emerge are a sex scandal implicating the real wife (Faye Dunaway), with whom Jake is destined to become more closely acquainted - and a real estate swindle of tremendous proportions devised by her tycoon father (John Huston), backed up by a vast network of corrupt city officials and landowners who make life hell for the private eye.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  November 28, 2007