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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  
MICHAEL CLAYTON - Warner

Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is what is known in the legal world as a “fixer,” or in the character’s own pejorative version, a “janitor” who cleans up legal messes for VIPs and corporations on behalf of a prestigious New York City law firm. A former litigator, Clayton has found a niche that capitalizes on his legal acumen and shrewd people skills, and yet, after 13 years on the job, finds himself increasingly disgusted with his clientele. The film covers four pivotal days of his life, in which a midlife crisis and a crisis of conscience neatly converge when he is called in to “fix” a situation unfolding in one of his firm’s hottest cases. Brilliant lawyer Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), representing a huge agro-chemical corporation being hit by a class action suit, has a bipolar breakdown, compounded by guilt over his defense of a company that is probably in the wrong, but is wealthy enough to buy its innocence either way. The company’s CEO (Tilda Swinton) will stop at nothing to keep Edens from sinking the case. Clayton must decide how much of Edens’s mad rebellion against the company is sheer mental illness, how much is true, and how much it will cost him to do the right thing. Clooney delivers a rich performance as a hangdog and haunted man who wants to stay on the side of good, but is a little too skilled at moral margin-walking to make that an easy choice in every situation. Swinton glows as a secretly frail Amazon who somehow won’t let a tortured conscience prevent her from getting ahead. The final third of the film is as suspenseful as any courtroom drama, without ever resorting to legal-thriller cliches.

NO RESERVATIONS - Warner

A master chef, Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones) lives her life like she runs the kitchen at upscale 22 Bleecker Restaurant in Manhattan--with a no-nonsense intensity that both captivates and intimidates everyone around her. With breathtaking precision, she powers through each hectic shift, coordinating hundreds of meals, preparing delicate sauces, seasoning and simmering each dish to absolute perfection. More at ease behind the scenes, she only leaves the sanctuary of her kitchen to accept compliments for one of her signature dishes, or, on rare occasions, to tangle with a customer who dares question her expertise. After work, most nights find her in bed before midnight, set to rise at dawn to beat her competition to the fish market for the next day’s freshest selections. Kate’s perfectionist nature is put to the test when a brash new sous-chef joins her staff, the high-spirited and freewheeling Nick (Aaron Eckhart). A rising culinary star himself, Nick favors opera while working and loves to make everyone around him laugh. His casual approach to both life and cuisine couldn’t be more different from Kate’s, yet the chemistry between them is undeniable...as is the discord, like forks clanging off a granite countertop. It might be easier to deal with this turbulence at work if Kate wasn’t already off-balance at home, struggling to connect with her nine-year-old niece, Zoe (Abigail Breslin), who has recently--and very unexpectedly--come to live with her.

MARGOT AT THE WEDDING - Paramount

Margot (Nicole Kidman) and her adolescent son Claude (Zane Pais) take a train from New York City to Long Island, where Margot’s sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is about to get married to Malcolm (Jack Black). Even though Margot is a successful writer with a compassionate husband (John Turturro), she is repressed, bitter, insecure, and angry, and she takes out her frustrations on anyone and everyone around her. Pauline is initially happy that her sister has decided to come to the wedding, but she quickly realizes that Margot is still her terrible old self. Over the course of a few days, past conflicts erupt and present conflicts explode, threatening not only to put a damper on the wedding, but to ruin it completely. Baumbach’s gift for dialogue is unmatched. His seemingly effortless ability to blend humor with seriousness makes it difficult to categorize Margot at the Wedding as a drama or a comedy, for it is both. Kidman proves that her Academy Award wasn’t a fluke, delivering a fearless performance that is at times difficult to watch in its virulence.

TOOTSIE: 25th Anniversary Edition - Sony

When theatrical mastermind Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) finds himself blacklisted by just about every producer in the acting business, he decides to thwart the entertainment industry by disguising himself as an older woman and auditioning for a daytime soap opera. Dorsey arrives for the audition in a dress and makeup. Calling himself Dorothy Michaels, he/she gives an astonishing screen test and is hired on the spot by the show’s executive (Dabney Coleman). Dorsey is an overnight sensation with the show’s fans, but as his secret career escalates, his relationship with his girlfriend (Teri Garr) suffers. Soon Dorsey finds a new romantic interest at work with his co-star, Julie. The only problem is, Julie thinks Dorsey is a woman and it’s not long before she’s trying to fix up Dorothy with her single father.

THIRD WATCH: Season One - Warner

Standing vigil over New York on the 3 to 11 P.M. shift is the city’s “third watch” of emergency personnel. Stationed in a firehouse at the intersection of King and Arthur streets (nicknamed “Camelot”) these paramedics and firefighters often join forces with the police at the nearby precinct house in their mission to keep the city safe. Among them are rookie cop Tyrone Davis (Coby Bell), complicated paramedic Kim Zambrano (Kim Raver), and vain firefighter Jimmy Doherty (Eddie Cibrian). As the team responds to gang shootings, tenement fires, and medical traumas, the show’s rich cast of characters displays all the comradery, tension, and fledgling romance that comes from battling high-pressure situations in close quarters. It’s all in a day’s work for this team of courageous, flawed, and dedicated individuals. This collection presents all 22 episodes of the series’ action-packed first season.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  March 12, 2008