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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  

IN THE LINE OF FIRE: Blu-ray - Sony

Aging secret service agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood), on duty the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, is still unable to forget his failure on that fateful day, even as he nears retirement in 1993. When Mitch Leary (John Malkovich), a psychotic man calling himself Booth, threatens to kill the current president, Horrigan is the only one who takes the threat seriously. Over time, a cat-and-mouse game develops between the potential assassin and the agent; Horrigan sees the game as a chance to redeem his earlier failure and escape a life that has fallen into alcoholism and self-pity. With his only allies his partner (Dylan McDermott), who realizes he can’t handle being a secret service agent and wants to resign, and a female agent (Rene Russo) whom he alternately annoys and attracts, Horrigan takes on Leary one-on-one in a fight to save the president, his job, and his self-respect.

10,000 BC - Warner

As the Ice Age is ending, the Yagahl people are struggling to survive. When Evolet (Camilla Belle), a young, blue-eyed girl is found and brought back to the tribe, their esteemed elder, Old Mother (Mona Hammond), realizes that the child is fulfilling a prophecy and will be instrumental in saving the Yagahl. D’Leh (Steven Strait) swore his heart to Evolet when she first came to the tribe, and after many years claims her as his own. But no sooner are the young lovers together, than they are torn apart by mysterious men arriving on horseback who kidnap many of the Yagahl, including Evolet, for slave trade. Determined to save his love and their people, D’Leh embarks on a rescue mission with his father figure Tic’Tic (Cliff Curtis). Along the way, they encounter different lands, new people, and strange creatures including giant birds akin to a killer ostrich. Mixing history and fantasy, there is little (if anything) that is historically accurate in this film.

JOURNEY TO 10,000 BC - A&E

Journey to 10,000 B.C. recreates the terrific trials of prehistoric man, from harrowing wooly mammoth hunts to the struggles for survival amidst massive land-roaming animals and cataclysmic climate shifts. This History Channel special on the dawn of the human species endeavors to both display and dispel the mysteries of the magnificent “lost world.”

PERSEPOLIS: Blu-ray - Sony

Persepolis presents a deeply personal coming-of-age tale about finding one’s place in the world. Based on her bestselling graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi teamed up with underground comic book artist Vincent Paronnaud to co-direct this animated big screen adaptation. The result is an electrifying, heartfelt, and original portrait of a spunky girl who surmounts countless obstacles to grow into a wise young adult. Marjane (voiced by Chiara Mastroianni) is an innocent nine-year-old living in Iran, surrounded by a loving but incredibly protective mother (Catherine Deneuve) and father (Simon Abkarian). She finds comfort in the carefree spirit of her loving grandmother (Danielle Darrieux), as well as music by artists as diverse as ABBA and Iron Maiden. When Marjane’s uncle is killed in the Iran/Iraq war, her parents send her to school in Austria, where she can study in safety. The only trouble is that her Middle Eastern appearance frightens people, giving her a harsh lesson in racial prejudice.

SOAP: Complete Series - Sony

Billy Crystal got his start as one of the first homosexual characters to appear on prime-time television in this once controversial series. As TV entertainment, SOAP was ahead of its time both creatively--functioning as a parody of the soap opera within the trappings of a prime-time sitcom--and topically--dealing with such issues as interracial marriage, gay parenting, marital infidelity and impotence. Robert Urich, Richard Mulligan, Katherine Helmond, Robert Guillaume, and a host others round out the impressive ensemble cast of all four seasons and 85 episodes of this must-own for any enthusiast of progressive television.

MAD MEN: Season One - Lionsgate

Mad Men begins in 1960 on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue at the fictional ad agency of Sterling Cooper. Creative director Don Draper (Jon Hamm) rules the halls of his company and the hearts of every woman he meets, while his wife, Betty (January Jones), struggles to be the perfect mate and mother back in Connecticut. But just as in the world of advertising, Don may not be all that he appears. In Mad Men, the glass ceiling is dangerously low, and sexism reigns in a way that may shock modern viewers.

BE KIND REWIND: Blu-ray - New Line

Set in dreary Passaic, New Jersey, the comedy centers on two of the town’s residents: trouble-making Jerry (Jack Black) and well-meaning Mike (Mos Def). Mike works in a video store in an age where the VHS is long dead, but the store’s owner, Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover), doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to change. When Mr. Fletcher leaves town for a trip, he entrusts his store to Mike with one piece of advice: don’t let Jerry in the store. But after some mischief, Jerry returns to the store in a strange state. Not only is he weirder than usual, but he’s also magnetized, which causes the entire store’s stock to be erased. In order to keep the struggling business afloat, Mike and Jerry begin remaking the films in the store one by one.

SUPERHERO MOVIE - Genius

In this spoof of Hollywood blockbusters, director and screenwriter Craig Mazin tackles the age-old story of a regular guy who suddenly finds that he possesses super powers. Ricky Riker (Drake Bell) is a typical teenager, except that his luck is worse then most. Basically, he’s a loser. He’s been in love with beautiful Jill (Sara Paxton) for years, but is sure she doesn’t know he exists. Even his techie best friend, Trey (Kevin Hart), is willing to throw him over for another clique. But Rick’s life changes dramatically when a genetically enhanced dragonfly bites him during a school field trip. In a flash, he becomes the Dragonfly. He can scale buildings, and has immense strength--though he’s still a klutz.

GANGS OF NEW YORK: Blu-ray - Miramax

A throwback to the epics of yesteryear, Gangs of New York is set in the mid-1800s, when the streets of lower Manhattan were teeming with tension and violence. Leonardo DiCaprio is Amsterdam Vallon, the son of a revered gang leader (Liam Neeson). As a youth, Amsterdam witnessed the death of his father at the hands of William “The Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), the maniacally driven ruler of the city’s most powerful gang. Sixteen years later, Amsterdam is finally released from the orphanage that raised him. Determined to avenge his father’s death, Amsterdam makes his way back to the volatile Five Points to track down Cutting and exact revenge. As he gradually infiltrates Bill the Butcher’s camp and earns the crazed gangster’s respect, he must also contend with the tumultuous, but beautiful, Jenny Everdean (Cameron Diaz).

VANTAGE POINT - Columbia

A presidential assassination attempt is told from multiple points of view in Pete Travis’s directorial debut, Vantage Point. U.S. president Ashton (William Hurt) is in Salamanca, Spain (though much of the film was actually shot in Mexico), to announce plans for a major global summit on terrorism. But as he stands behind the podium in front of an adoring crowd (with protesters blocked off from the stage), he is shot twice, followed shortly by a small explosion and then a massive blast. Secret Service Agents Barnes (Dennis Quaid), Taylor (Matthew Fox), and Holden (Richard T. Jones) immediately jump into action, trying to find the terrorists responsible amid all the chaos.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  August 06, 2008