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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.
 
No Country For Old Men  

With No Country for Old Men, the Coen Brothers have found a perfect match in Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy. Their adaptation of McCarthy’s praised novel is a staggering masterpiece. In this almost impossibly faithful adaptation, the film takes place in a small Texas border town in 1980.

Sheriff Bell (a never-been-better Tommy Lee Jones) has ruled the land for years without the use of a gun, but a new brand of reckless lawlessness has taken over his town. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is an innocent Everyman with a devoted wife, Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald), but when he stumbles across a drug deal gone deadly and finds two million dollars, he’s determined to keep it for himself.

There’s only one problem. He’s being pursued by one of the most amoral, evil psychopaths that the big screen has ever seen. Wearing an absurd haircut and brandishing a pressurized weapon that’s used to murder cattle, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) creeps forward on his mission to track Moss down and return the money to its rightful owners to save his own skin. As the tension mounts, the body count begins to rise, confirming Sheriff Bell’s inability to battle this new wave of modern brutality.

The most striking thing about the Coen Brothers’ thriller is their masterly use of silence to create an almost unbearable level of tension. Cinematographer Roger Deakins is once again at the top of his game, beautifully capturing this stark and lonely world.

The well-rounded cast is clearly excited to be a part of such a stellar production--particularly Bardem, whose Chigurh is a freakishly mysterious monster, and is certain to haunt viewers long after the final credit has rolled.

In a career filled with striking achievements, this might very well be the Coen Brothers’ finest. It is filmmaking at its best. Javier Bardem can expect an Oscar win out of this picture. Another triumph for the Coen Brothers, No Country has the perfect mixture of suspense, humor, and desperately compelling performances.

No Country for Old Men

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones

& Javier Bardem

Director: Joel & Ethan Coen

Company: Miramax

Now Showing:

In area Theatres

MPAA Rating - R

Grade: A+


DVD Reviews

PERRY MASON: Season Two, Volume Two - Paramount

Perry Mason is an attorney who specializes in defending seemingly indefensible cases. With the aid of his secretary Della Street and investigator Paul Drake, he often finds that by digging deeply into the facts, startling facts can be revealed. Perry Mason aired from 1957 to 1966 and stars Raymond Burr as an attorney that has never lost a case. This show is still a classic in today’s TV. Season 2, Volume 2 continues the courtroom drama of Perry Mason played by Raymond Burr.

The supporting roles played by William Talman, Barbara Hale and William Hopper add much to the plot and keep the episodes from running together. The scripts are well-written with imagination and semi-believable dialogue. Burr’s performances in and out of the courtroom were nothing short of sheer genius. No matter what the case might have been, Perry Mason will have you in the palm of his hand in no time leaving you with a sense of justice by the end of each episode. The DVD presents the remaining 15 episodes rounding out the second season. All the episodes are presented in Full Screen Format with Dolby Digital sound.

CHARLES IN CHARGE: Season Two - Universal

Charles, a college student, moves in with the Powell family as the housekeeper, baby-sitter, and friend to the children. Along with his best friend, Buddy, Charles attempts to manage his life, especially college and girls, as well as tend to the family. This was one of the silliest shows on TV. I think this series gets worse with age. As sitcoms go, this one wasn’t the worst, but ranks pretty low in the “stupid scale”. Scott Baio and Willie Aames team up each week managing to find trouble having an uncanny ability to screw up even the easiest of tasks. Willie Aames had a better role in “Eight is Enough”. This series brought him down as an actor. The same thing can be said for Scott Baio with his most popular role as Chachi in “Happy Days”. The stories got worse with each season leaving nothing for the cast to work with. The only major bonus was to see Jennifer Runyon and Nicole Eggert as the resident “eye candy” each week in addition to the many fine women that visited the show. It is sad that this was the only real redeeming quality of the show. Season two was better than season one when Charles switched to the Powell family. The DVD presents the entire second season on three discs. All episodes are presented in Full Screen format with digital surround.

ANGEL-A - Sony

Angel-A follows self-described liar and shady businessman Andre (Jamel Debbouze), who is down on his luck and owes Parisian gangsters money. In a desperate and weak state, Andre finds himself on the edge of one of the City of Light’s majestic bridges, ready to plunge into the river below. After one last look around him, he catches sight of a statuesque blonde woman, tears streaking down her gorgeous face, also standing on the ledge just a few feet away. She makes Andre forget about his problems for a moment, and he pleads with her not to jump. She does anyway, and he goes in after her, dragging her to safety. The damsel-in-distress, Angela (Rie Rasmussen), insists on hanging around Andre, doing whatever he tells her, as a way to pay him back for saving her life. Finding it hard to say no to her, and resisting her mesmerizing beauty, he recruits her, somewhat begrudgingly, to help him figure out how to settle his debts. What Andre soon discovers is that meeting Angela was no accident, and that they both need saving, not just from death, but also from themselves.

GOLDEN BOY - Sony

In his debut performance, Holden scores as a violin prodigy who makes some extra dough on the side as a prizefighter. Not likely, but the performances make it work, particularly Stanwyck’s as a corrupting influence. Tragic consequences result when she lures the golden boy from practicing his scales.

HUDSON HAWKE: SE - Sony

Hudson Hawk (Bruce Willis) has done his time. The infamous cat burglar is released from prison and plans to pursue an honest life. Some of his cronies, however, feel differently and coerce him back into a life of crime. With his best friend, Tommy Five-Tune (Danny Aiello), in tow, Hawk finds himself immersed in a series of complex burglaries, culminating with the theft of a priceless Leonardo da Vinci treasure from the Vatican. Every time Hawk thinks he has the situation under control, a new villain is thrown into the mix. A plethora of quirky characters keeps Hawk hopping, including a misguided secret-agent nun (Andie MacDowell), a greedy, megatrendy couple determined to dominate the world (Sandra Bernhard and Richard E. Grant), a ruthless butler (Donald Burton), and a sinister CIA agent (James Coburn) who heads a team of agents nicknamed after candy bars.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY COMPLETE SERIES - MGM

This compilation of spooky ADDAMS FAMILY episodes is culled from the original 1960s television series. This mammoth collection includes nine volumes of episodes featuring the silly, spooky band of ghouls. The macabre Addams’s home on North Cemetery Ridge. The story of its eccentric residents, the Addams family. Morticia was the beautiful but somber lady of the house. Her husband Gomez had strange eyes and rather destructive instincts, as did Uncle Fester. Lurch, the butler, was a seven-foot-tall warmed-over Frankenstein monster whose dialogue usually consisted solely of the two words, “You rang?” The children, Pugsley and Wednesday, also had rather ghoulish qualities about them. Grandma, although a witch, was the most normal-looking one of the bunch. They all lived in a musty, castle-like home full of strange objects--such as a disembodied hand, called “Thing,” which kept popping out of a black box.

CARS: Blu-Ray - Disney Pixar

Talking cars rediscover the quirky originality of middle America in this inventive animated film from the folks at Pixar. Owen Wilson does the voice of arrogant rookie racecar Lightning McQueen, who winds up stranded in the small desert town of Radiator Springs on his way west to a big showdown. Sentenced to community service after literally tearing up the road in a high-speed chase, at first all Lightning can think of is getting back to the world of corporate sponsorship and merchandising tie-ins he loves so well. Eventually, however, the eccentric residents of Radiator Springs begin to grow on him, especially the attractive lady Porsche lawyer (Bonnie Hunt) and a rusty old tow-truck (Larry the Cable Guy). There’s also a hippie Volkswagen (George Carlin), a low-riding T-bird (Cheech Martin) and Paul Newman as the gruff, curmudgeonly Doc Hudson, the town judge who harbors his own checkered-flag past. The story may not be new, but Pixar’s precision-engineered animation brilliantly illuminates the town and its surrounding cactus-studded vistas down to the minutest detail, and director/writer John Lasseter keeps the film’s satiric wit and generous heart in perfect alignment.

SAW: Three - Lions Gate

In 2004, a low-budget horror film about a man who put people with moral failings into grisly, murderous situations became a huge hit. In 2005, the sequel scored again, upping the body count and the terror. In 2006, the franchise continued, with plenty of gore as well as an emotional story line that delved into the psychological makeup of the main characters. As SAW II concluded, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) was dying. But that doesn’t mean his penchant for playing games of torture and violence is ending. In SAW III, the murders start occurring again, and Kerry (Dina Meyer) is back on the case, although she thinks this time it might be the work of a copycat. She’s only partly right: Amanda (Shawnee Smith), the only victim to have survived both movies, has joined Jigsaw as his apprentice, leading the way through a terrifying game involving Lynn (Bahar Soomekh), a doctor in an unhappy marriage, and Jeff (Angus Macfadyen), a distraught man who is having trouble getting over the loss of his son (Stefan Georgiou) at the hands of a drunk driver. Amanda has captured Lynn and placed her in a neck brace that is linked to Jigsaw’s heart monitor; she must keep Jigsaw alive or else the brace will explode. Meanwhile, Jeff is sent on a dangerous journey on which he faces all the people involved in the light penalty his boy’s killer received--and it is up to him whether he will seek vengeance or offer forgiveness.

DECK THE HALLS - Fox

This is a family comedy about one-upsmanship, jealousy, clashing neighbors, home decoration...and the true spirit of the holidays. For Cloverdale, Massachusetts optometrist Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick), no time of the year can compare to the glory of the Christmas season. And, for many years now, he’s carried on a series of heartfelt but hokey Yuletide traditions that his family – wife Kelly (Kristin Davis), daughter Madison (Alia Shawcat), and son Carter (Dylan Blue) – at this point, can barely tolerate. Despite his family’s exhausted protests, super-organized Steve has the December calendar chock full with everything from shooting the Finch’s annual Christmas card photo, to their ritual tree harvesting and neighborhood caroling night.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  January 02, 2008