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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  

THERE WILL BE BLOOD - Paramount

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is a masterly, unflinching examination of a consummately evil man. Daniel Plainview (via a transcendent performance by the great Daniel Day-Lewis) is, as he likes to remind those around him, an oil man: he finds it, he drills for it, and he makes money from it. Following a tip from a visitor named Paul Sunday, whose family sits atop a veritable ocean of oil, Plainview travels to the town of New Boston, California, with his young son. Sunday’s preacher brother Eli (both roles are played by the excellent Paul Dano) grudgingly accepts Plainview’s ambitions under the condition that he help fund the town church. As Plainview’s plans come to fruition, a series of events begin to fracture the insular world he has constructed for himself, pitting Plainview against Sunday and forcing him to become even more vindictive and ruthless.

A PASSAGE TO INDIA - Sony

David Lean returned to filmmaking after a 14-year absence to direct this award-winning adaptation of E.M. Forster’s novel. Adela Quested (Judy Davis), a young and spirited Englishwoman, travels to India alongside the somewhat older Mrs. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft). Mrs. Moore’s hope is that her son, an administrator in the British Raj, and Adela will wed. Once in India, the two women pay scant heed to the customs followed by English society. They even agree to accompany a “native”--the charming and educated Dr. Aziz (Victor Banerjee)--on a tour of the mystical, ancient Marabar Caves. But their innocent outing turns ugly when Adela emerges from the cave’s darkness accusing Aziz of rape. British authorities eagerly pursue--even pressure--Adela to go to court. The truth, however, is not as clear as the bigoted colonial government believes it is.

THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN - Columbia

With The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Gilliam tells the legend of an old man who has lived a fairy-tale life. In the late 18th century, the Age of Reason has no room for fantasy. In a town besieged by murderous enemies, a traveling company is putting on a stage show about the apocryphal Baron Munchausen, who, with his motley crew of servants, supposedly circled the globe and the universe, following each bizarre adventure with one even more strange and ludicrous. But then a man appears at the theater claiming to be the real Baron, and to prove it, he goes off on one final journey to save the town, chased all along the way by the winged specter of death. Gilliam never met an epic spectacle he didn’t like. MUNCHAUSEN is loaded with brilliant set pieces, including spinning heads on the moon and a giant Botticelli clamshell in the bottom of a hellish volcano. Gilliam has assembled a stellar cast, including John Neville as the Baron, Oliver Reed as Vulcan, Jonathan Pryce, Jack Purvis, Robin Williams, Eric Idle, Charles McKeown, a cameo by Sting, and early appearances by Sarah Polley and Uma Thurman. Gilliam’s special effects bonanza is a modern retelling of The Wizard of Oz, a fabulous adventure filled with daring feats, preposterous nonsense, danger galore, and the overall belief that a world without fantasy is a sad world indeed.

DOCTOR WHO: The Time Warrior - BBC

Jon Pertwee stars as the Doctor in this timeless 1973 classic episode. The mysterious disappearance of several top scientists sends Doctor Who back in time to the Middle Ages where a stranded Sontaran fleet commander is preparing to wage a high tech war. If you are fan of the Doctor Who series, this is an episode that is not to be missed.

MY BOY JACK - BBC

The year is 1913. War with Germany is imminent. Rudyard Kipling(David Haig), the British Empire’s greatest apologist, is at the peak of his literary fame. This movie explores the nature of a man who loses his balance when devotion to family and country clash. World War I breaks out, and Kipling’s son, Jack (Daniel Radcliffe), is determined to fight, but the Army and the Navy both reject him because of his extremely poor eyesight. Undaunted, Kipling uses his influence to land Jack a commission in the Irish Guards, sparking off a bitter family conflict. Jack goes to war and is reported missing, believed wounded, in his first action. The Kipling family live in vain hope for two years, before finally learning of Jack’s death. The effect on Kipling is profound and irrevocable, as he struggles to confront his appalling sense of guilt and loss.

MELROSE PLACE: Season Four - Paramount

Creator Darren Star and executive producer Aaron Spelling followed up on the massive success of their 1990s teen drama Beverly Hills 90210 with a spinoff series that went on to match its parent show’s popularity. A grownup, racier version of 90210, Melrose Place harked back to the days of classic nighttime soaps like Dynasty and Dallas while adding a decidedly younger, hipper edge with amped-up levels of sex, betrayal, murder, and a multiple personality or two. The backstabbing action centered on a group of fashionable, affluent 20-somethings living in a stylish apartment complex on the L.A. strip of the title: vulnerable ad exec Alison Parker (Courtney Thorne-Smith); her roommate/love interest, Billy Campbell (Andrew Shue); the increasingly conniving doctor, Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro); his sweetly innocent wife, Jane (Josie Bissett); her trashy stripper sister, Sydney (Laura Leighton); nice guy Jake Hanson (Grant Show); openly gay Matt Fielding (Doug Savant); tough New York transplant Jo Reynolds (Daphne Zuniga); the utterly psychotic Kimberly Shaw (Marcia Cross); and, of course, the memorable villainous vixen Amanda Woodward (Heather Locklear).

LIFE BEGINS - Image

Men Behaving Badly star Caroline Quentin stars as an out-of-work, newly single woman in British sitcom Life Begins. Quentin’s character is baffled by the new world she finds herself in after her husband leaves her, but plenty of laughs ensue as the talented actress stretches her comic range. This release includes the complete first series of the show.

OBAN STAR RACERS: Volume One - Shout!

An ambitious 15 year-old girl, (Eva Wei) feeling abandoned by her father, goes against his wishes and masquerades as someone else to become the pilot of a vehicle built by his company, Earth’s entry into an intergalactic race in the year 2082. According to the mystical entity heading the race, the Avatar, the winners will be granted any wish. However, it is unknown exactly what the limits of this wish are, as Eva wishes to revive her late mother. This prize also creates many intergalatic tensions-- Earth’s fate also depends on who wins the race. Eva will face many foes, most of them not friendly, to try to win the Great Race of Oban. How many challenges await her and her partner, Jordan?

COYOTE UGLY:

Blu-ray - Touchstone

In Coyote Ugly, an aspiring songwriter, Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo), leaves her small-town home and her supportive father (John Goodman) for New York City in hopes of starting a music career. But life in the big city is harder than she imagined. Feeling defeated, and unemployed, she hears about a job opening at a bar called Coyote Ugly, and persuades the bar owner, Lil (Mario Bello), to give her a chance among the bar’s beautiful brigade of bartenders. When Violet arrives for work the bouncer tells her it’s a quiet night, but when she goes inside the bar she is hit by a wall of throbbing music and howling men. Two women are atop the bar, pulling a customer back over it, pulling up his shirt, and pouring beer on his chest. Welcome to Coyote Ugly. How will Violet deal with the bar? How will it deal with her? What of her songwriting plans? Inside this raucous, raunchy movie, coproduced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, is a sweet romance between Violet and Kevin (Adam Garcia), a refreshing escape from the chaos of the bar.

FULL COUNT - Allumination

Four friends set out on a quest to protect and redeem the reputation of one of their own and soon uncover secrets in the fabric of their home town that challenge their perceptions and force them to make difficult choices. Starring Josh Stewart, Austin Nichols, and Jason Ritter, this is a wonderful film that is sure to have a place in your library.

MEERKAT MANOR: Season Two - Animal Planet

This nature series from Animal Planet follows the lives of a family of meerkats living in the Kalahari Desert. With complicated relationships and rivalries that would make Dynasty blush, the show captures these endearing, but often brutal, creatures as they battle over territory, struggle for power, and squabble with their mates. Included here is the complete second season.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  April 30, 2008