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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  

CRISS ANGEL MINDFREAK: Season Three - A&E

Providing a refreshing twist on the conventions of reality TV, Criss Angel Mindfreak is an A&E show full of jaw-dropping surprises. Cameras follow Angel as he trains and then executes a series of amazing tricks, most of which leave bystanders and viewers at home scratching their heads in bemused wonder. Whether floating high above the Luxor casino’s pyramid or escaping from jail in the nude, Criss seems to defy human logic--and he makes it clear that no camera trickery is involved in these feats. In the 20 episodes contained on this collection Criss demonstrates how the body and the mind are a lot more flexible than we might think, and provides some highly entertaining moments that easily achieve his goal of dragging magic out of the Dark Ages and into the 21st century. This third season features guest appearances by comedian Jamie Kennedy, magician Jeff McBride, and Public Enemy’s Flavor Fav.

CHARM SCHOOL - Sony

When a teenage girl scares her father with her arrests, tattoos, and rebellious behavior, he enrolls her in a charm school in hopes of making her a lady before he’s up for office as the governor of Mexico City.

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Season Six - HBO

Life continues to befuddle hapless millionaire Larry David in this sixth season of shows. As usual, Larry is joined by his faithful, beleaguered wife, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), and his manager, Jeff (Jeff Garlin), while regular guests such as Ted Danson, Wanda Sykes, and Richard Lewis are on hand to add to the mayhem. While season six will present comfortable and familiar viewing for those already familiar with Larry’s antics, there are a few surprises in store, especially as the final episode careers towards an unexpected ending.

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE - Sony

The Beatles’ songs may have provided the soundtrack for the lives of those coming of age in the 1960s, but their extensive catalogue acts as the literal soundtrack in this romantic musical from visionary director Julie Taymor. Newcomer Jim Sturgess stars as Jude, a young man working on the docks in Liverpool. Eager to escape, he travels to Princeton where he meets Max (Joe Anderson). But it’s his meeting with Max’s younger sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) that changes him. They quickly fall in love, but their relationship is tested by the chaos of the late 1960s and Max’s unwilling tour in Vietnam. Throughout the film, characters burst into classics from the Beatles in this whimsical musical.

THE AMATEURS - First Look

Sex sells in America and these guys know it. When Andy (Jeff Bridges) discovers that his ex-wife has married an extremely wealthy man who is now his son’s “cool” stepfather, he becomes motivated to make a change in his life. With the help of his friends (Ted Danson, Joe Pantoliano) a small town group of loveable losers, they hit upon an idea to make their dreams come true. The grand plan that will lead to a life of riches and fame is to make the world’s most innocent adult film. Everyman’s fantasy turns into a hilarious misadventure when they find that they’re way in over their heads.

MARTIAN CHILD - New Line

In Martian Child, David Gordon (Cusack) is a successful science fiction author, plagued by both the death of his wife and writer’s block. When a group home worker (Sophie Okonedo) tries to pair him with a young boy named Dennis (Bobby Coleman), David initially resists. But once David spends time with Dennis, he realizes how special the boy is. The outsider (and sci-fi fan) in David thinks he might just understand Dennis best since the child believes that he’s from Mars and he’ll return there soon. David and Dennis struggle to create the most unconventional of families, as Dennis strives to learn more about being human. This is a moving drama that works because of the genuine performances of everyone involved, but it rides on both the experienced shoulders of Cusack and those of his young costar, Coleman. Both excel at communicating their characters’ isolation and eventual connection, but it’s Coleman’s work in his first major role that is such a pleasant surprise. Supporting turns from Cusack’s sister Joan and Amanda Peet add emotional depth to the sweet story.

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS: 30th Anniversary Edition - Columbia

Based on William Hayes’s autobiography, MIDNIGHT EXPRESS tells the harrowing story of a young American tourist arrested and sentenced to 30 years in prison by Turkish authorities for trying to smuggle two kilos of hashish out of the country. Billy (Brad Davis), suffering through the harsh realities of the Turkish penal system, sees a glimmer of hope when his father (Billy Kellin) arrives from the States with the intention of securing his son’s release. But when that effort fails and the prison’s savage environment becomes too much to bear, Billy opts for the only possible solution: breaking out of jail and riding the “midnight express”--prison slang for escape--to freedom. Director Alan Parker, aided by Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning script, fastens an unflinching gaze into the darkest recesses of physical and emotional cruelty.

ROMANCE & CIGARETTES - Sony

Part comedy, part romance, part drama, part musical, John Turturro’s Romance & Cigarettes teeters on the brink of collapse at every single moment, just like the fragile characters that inhibit the film’s frantic, manic world. The result is an unsettling, exhilarating, and thrillingly alive spectacle of a motion picture.

YOU’VE GOT MAIL - Warner

Based on the classic film The Shop Around the Corner, this tale of pen-pal romance has been updated for the internet age. Tom Hanks plays a book mega-store owner who falls in love over e-mail with the owner of a struggling children’s bookstore, played by Meg Ryan.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  February 13, 2008