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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.

In 88 Minutes Al Pacino stars as Dr. Jack Gramm, a college professor who moonlights as a forensic psychiatrist for the FBI. When Gramm receives a death threat claiming he has only 88 minutes to live, he must use all his skills and training to narrow down the possible suspects, who include a disgruntled student, a jilted former lover, and a serial killer who is already on death row, before his time runs out.

What can be said about 88 Minutes can pretty much be summed up in little more than 88 words. This film, while not predictable, is a jumbled mess too tangled for even an experienced director such as Avnet to straighten out. This picture has more twists and turns than a roller coaster and it comes with the queasy stomach as an added bonus. For the last decade, Al Pacino has done a tremendous job playing, well, Al Pacino. The entire cast leaves a great deal to be desired. Unfortunately, the elements and pieces of this film don’t fit together no matter how hard the writers, editors, and the director try to jam them together.

88 Minutes

Starring: Al Pacino & Alicia Witt

Director: Jon Avnet

Company: Sony

Now Showing: In area Theatres

MPAA Rating - R

Grade: D

DVD Picks


Sesame Street’s Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Telly Monster will show their interest in dinosaurs in an all new direct-to-DVD production. Prehistoric adventure abounds when a dinosaurs come to Sesame Street. “Sesame Street: Dinosaurs” shows the adventures of the Elmo, Abby and Telly as the power of imagination allows the trio to see what it would be like to be dinosaurs. The DVD will feature lots of brand-new content, including the animated song “If Elmo Had a Dinosaur”.


On the way to meet King Arthur, her future husband and ally, Lady Guenevere and her retinue are attacked by Arthur’s mortal enemy, the malicious Malagant. Prince Malagant wants possession of Guinevere’s land, which lies between Arthur’s kingdom and his own. However, the daring Lancelot intercedes and foils the attack. In return, this roaming-sword-for-hire asks for a kiss from the lovely Lady -- a request that Guinevere coldly refuses. They meet again when Lancelot turns up at one of Camelot’s public tournaments, and proves to Arthur that he deserves to become the King’s first knight. So when Malagant strikes again, kidnapping Queen Guinevere, Lancelot once more serves as her rescuer. But now, Guinevere’s reaction is no longer chilly -- and the two proceed to fall in love, betraying Arthur’s trust and friendship.


The 2007 feature film Charlie Wilson’s War is a dramatic retelling of the pivotal event that came to define the hard-living congressman’s life. This documentary from the History Channel takes another look at Wilson’s career, with a particular focus on his alliance with CIA Agent Gust Avrakotos. Wilson and Avrakotos covertly provided arms to the Afghan Mujahideen as the war with the Soviets tore Afghanistan apart during the early 1980s. The True Story of Charlie Wilson examines these incredible actions, and also takes a look at how Wilson’s activities inadvertently came back to haunt America as the very weapons he supplied were turned against the U.S. following the events of 9/11.


Benjamin Disraeli is an influential figure in UK politics who also enjoyed a duel career as an author of some repute. This retelling of Disraeli’s life stars Ian McShane (DEADWOOD) as the former Prime Minister who changed the British political landscape forever when he helped form the Conservative Party.

CHEERS: Season Nine - Paramount

One of the most beloved and critically acclaimed television series of all time, CHEERS ran for 10 seasons and centered on the colorful staff and patrons of the Boston bar “where everyone knows your name.” Run by former Red Sox pitcher and ladies’ man Sam Malone (Ted Danson), the establishment’s ever-present characters include neurotic bar manager Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley), salty barmaid Carla LeBec (Rhea Perlman), dimwitted bartender Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson), barflies Norm Peterson (George Wendt) and Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger), pompous psychiatrist Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), and his frosty love interest Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth). This collection presents all 26 episodes of CHEERS’ award-winning ninth season.


Penn State University’s Paranormal Research society is tested to its limits in this first season of episodes in the spooky Paranormal State series. The A&E show follows Ryan Buell and his team of detectives as they draw on some startlingly innovative technology while trying to assist people with their paranormal woes. Poltergeists, haunted houses, and the Mothman are no match for Buell and his team, who draw on help from a variety of sources (including priests and psychologists) in an attempt to get to the bottom of any paranormal outbreak that their clients may encounter. Every episode from the first season of the show is included on this presentation.


Celebrated painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel’s third feature finds him reaching new artistic heights with this audacious and personal biopic, based on the best-selling memoir of the same name. The film tells the remarkable tale of Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), the world-renowned editor of French ELLE magazine, who suffered a stroke and was paralyzed by the inexplicable “locked in” syndrome at the age of 43. Bauby’s only way of communicating with the outside world was by blinking with one eye, and after several dedicated helpers--a string of impossibly beautiful women (Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze, Olatz Lopez Garamendia, Anne Consigny)--helped him to speak through this seemingly irrelevant gesture, he began to produce the words that would form his memoir. Along the way, as he swam in and out of consciousness, memories from his past swelled into the present, resulting in a cinematic experience that is at once heartbreaking and hopeful. Schnabel somehow manages to convey Bauby’s internal life with remarkable clarity, employing first-person perspective, striking cinematography (by the always great Janusz Kaminski), and Amalric’s pained, life-affirming monologues. The result is a wholly original experience, a painful and tender portrait of a life that is made all the more exhilarating because of its close proximity to death.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  May 07, 2008