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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.
 
AMERICAN TEEN

Hannah Bailey is smart and beautiful, but a misfit in her high school. She is a liberal, atheist living in a traditional, Christian, conservative town and dreams of moving to California after graduation. Colin Clemens is the star of the high school basketball team - and in Indiana, basketball is everything. Colin is under enormous pressure this year playing not only to make his town, his school, and his father proud, but for a college scholarship. Jake Tusing is considered to be a nerd in high school. Though quite funny and charming one-on-one, he is painfully shy in group situations and crushed with self-doubt. In his senior year he vows that nothing will stand in the way of him finding a girlfriend. Megan Krizmanich is the student council Vice President and the youngest daughter of a prominent local surgeon, anxiously awaiting word from Notre Dame University admissions. Wealthy, pretty, smart and popular, she rules her high school - just don’t get on her bad side. When Megan’s peers challenge her authority, she can’t help but take action, even if it means risking her future. Mitch Reinholdt is an attractive and charming Varsity basketball jock with a soft side. When he puts his social status on the line, avoiding his popular friends for dates with artsy Hannah Bailey, he strains to maintain his reputation while discovering a new side of himself.

American Teen is the touching and hilarious Sundance hit that follows the lives of four teenagers - a jock, the popular girl, the artsy girl and the geek – in one small town in Indiana through their senior year of high school. We see the insecurities, the cliques, the jealousies, the first loves and heartbreaks, and the struggle to make profound decisions about the future.

Filming daily for ten months, filmmaker Nanette Burstein developed a deep understanding of her subjects. The result is a film that goes beyond the enduring stereotypes of high school to render complex young people trying to find their way into adulthood. With extraordinary intimacy and a great deal of humor, American Teen captures the pressures of growing up – pressures that come from one’s peers, one’s parents, and not least, oneself.

I must admit that when I heard about this film, I was a bit reticent to screen it. I don’t really care for ‘mockumentaries’ of any kind. As I watched this film, I found myself totally immersed in what was real versus staged. I found the story to be quite compelling and the acting was very well done. What Nanette has done here is create a reality show type film that doesn’t leave you with a desire to kick the screen of your television in. This film was well balanced between the four primary characters. I found myself rooting for them to succeed as the film moved along. Although I cannot recommend this film for young kids, I do encourage everyone else to see it as soon as possible. I am sure you will enjoy it.

American Teen

Starring: Hannah Bailey & Colin Clemens

Director: Nanette Burstein

Company: Paramount Vantage

Now Showing: In area Theatres

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Grade: A-


MASTERS OF HORROR: Season Two - Anchor Bay

The second season of any TV show is pivotal. A hit first season, with plenty of preparation time and little initial pressure, is one thing, but can the show perform under the spotlight after presumably throwing all the tricks of the trade into the mix in the first go-round? In the case of the series Masters of Horror, the answer is a resounding “yes.” The initial season of MOH succeeded in creating a cinematic horror experience, but season two was arguably even better. Some of the first season’s episodes lacked in entertainment value (“Dance of the Dead,” “Haeckel’s Tale”) but skated by on the spectacle of seeing legendary filmmakers’ works on TV. The second time around, the show couldn’t rely on the novelty factor, so the material had to shine - and it does!

HOUSE: Season Four - Universal

House is a medical mystery television show that’s appealing due to its creative camerawork, interesting characters, and twisting plotlines. Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) is a brilliant medical professional, but often alienates his patients and co-workers because of his abrasive manner and bitterness. In each episode House is faced with a person exhibiting a number of unusual symptoms, and along with his team of dedicated doctors and nurses, must discover what strange illness is afflicting the patient before it’s too late. The show moves at a rapid pace, spurred by its turning and suspenseful plotlines and the lively interaction between the characters, played by a strong supporting cast that includes Robert Sean Leonard, Omar Epps, and Sela Ward.

DEXTER: Season Two - Showtime

After playing a mild-mannered funeral home director in Six Feet Under, Michael C. Hall makes a smooth transition to a serial killer in this Showtime original series. But the twist in this smart show is that Dexter chooses to prey only on other serial killers. As a child, Dexter was adopted by a cop (James Remar) who quickly realizes that his new son is no ordinary boy. Since Dexter is compelled to kill, his law-abiding father pushes him to choose his quarry in a way that will best benefit society. As Dexter grows older, he works as a blood splatter expert in Miami, giving him a close view of other murderers and their handiwork.

REDBELT - Sony

Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Mike Terry, a man who runs his own Jiu-jitsu studio in Los Angeles. Terry’s business is failing, causing tension between him and his wife, Sondra (Alice Braga). But their lives change drastically when Terry is compelled to come to the aid of an actor, Chet Frank (Tim Allen), during a bar fight. Frank befriends Terry and invites him to come and work as a consultant on a movie he is shooting. Just as Terry’s fortunes seem to be changing, he finds himself caught up in a deceitful plan that has been carefully hatched by Frank’s devious agent (who is played by Mamet regular Joe Mantegna). With his debts piling up, Terry decides to go against all his instincts and enter the competitive fighting world, where he stands to win a huge cash prize. But the good-natured fighter is in for a shock when he gets a close-up glimpse of the corruption that runs rife throughout the sport.

SMART PEOPLE - Miramax

Dennis Quaid stars as a bitter, washed out widower in Smart People, a film that tackles the lives of several seriously unhappy people in surprisingly funny and touching ways. A hated literature professor at Carnegie Mellon, Lawrence Wetherhold has been earning the scorn of his students, colleagues, and family since the death of his wife several years ago. The only person on his side is his teenage daughter Vanessa (Ellen Page), whose loyalty and similarities to her father belie her tender age. Between running the Young Republicans club and aiming for a perfect SAT score, the over-achieving high school student knows no life beyond the insular world of family. When the film begins, the family dynamics are well established, with Lawrence merely going through the motions of his life, unable to muster up any passion for parenting or even his literary expertise. It takes a seizure, an unexpected visit from his adopted brother (Thomas Haden Church), and a new romantic interest (Sarah Jessica Parker) to shake things up and stir Lawrence from his constant misery.

MARRIED LIFE - Sony

Set in 1949, the story opens into a picturesque, affluent suburb where Harry Allen (Chris Cooper) resides with his wife, Pat (Patricia Clarkson). But there’s trouble brewing beyond the perfect picket fences. Harry has fallen deeply in love with a blonde beauty named Kay (Rachel McAdams). He confesses his secret to his longtime bachelor friend, Richard (Pierce Brosnan), and even introduces Richard to the lovely Kay. Unfortunately for Harry, Richard is instantly smitten, and makes up his mind that he will do whatever it takes to win Kay for himself. Harry, meanwhile, continues to plot ways to escape his marriage, though he fears leaving Pat will destroy her. He soon decides the most humane thing would be to dispose of her the old-fashioned way, with the aid of a little poison. While he debates on when to make his move, we learn that Pat actually has a few secrets of her own.

THE SHIELD: Season Six - Sony

Transgressing the seemingly rock-solid boundaries of regular television programming, The Shield refuses the strictures of black-and-white depictions of clear-cut moral dilemmas in favor of an ambiguity that will challenge even the most jaded viewers. Detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) leads the elite Strike Team in the fictional L.A. district of Farmington, employing dubious but effective crime fighting methods as a tough, successful, but corrupt cop. The other detectives and cops on the force disapprove of the team’s methods, while the precinct head, Captain David Aceveda (Benito Martinez), is just as corrupt as Mackey. The stoic, upright Detective Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder), who understands both sides of the game, provides a much needed balance and rationality to the mix.

BOB THE BUILDER: On Site - Lions Gate

In this fresh set of adventures, everyone’s favorite builder gets to visit a real-world construction site. The Bob the Builder series is a wonderful show for the entire family. The setting and stories are great for kids to learn real-life lessons.

STREET KINGS: Blu-ray - Fox

In Street Kings, a police thriller directed by David Ayer, Keanu Reeves plays Tom Ludlow, a veteran LAPD Vice Detective. Ludlow sets out on a quest to discover the killers of his former partner, Detective Terrance Washington (Terry Crews). Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker plays Captain Wander, Ludlow’s supervisor, whose duties include keeping him within the confines of the law and out of the clutches of Internal Affairs Captain Biggs (Hugh Laurie). Ludlow teams up with a young Robbery Homicide Detective (Chris Evans) to track Washington’s killers through the diverse communities of Los Angeles. Their determination pays off when the two Detectives track down Washington’s murderers and confront them in an attempt to bring them to justice.

P.D. JAMES ESSENTIAL COLLECTION - Koch

This 12-disc collection contains seven thrilling Adam Dalgliesh mysteries by popular suspense writer P.D. James. The stories included are: Cover Her Face, Shroud for a Nightingale, The Black Tower, Death of an Expert Witness, Unnatural Causes, A Taste for Death, and Original Sin. These are all tremendous films and should be added to any film fan’s collection.

SON OF RAMBOW - Paramount

Son of Rambow stars Bill Milner as Will Proudfoot, a shy, reserved young boy who is different from the other kids because his family is part of the Brethren, a religion that shuns the outside world, not allowing him to have friends at school or to watch television. While in the hallway in school one day because he can’t watch an educational film in class, Will gets into a fight with Lee Carter (Will Poulter), a tough kid who gets into trouble all the time. Lee forces Will to help him make a homemade version of the Sylvester Stallone film First Blood, but after watching the original, Will is captivated by the movie and writes his own sequel, casting himself as the son of Rambo (he misspells the name of the character).

 

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  August 13, 2008