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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.
 
Hamlet 2

“The hit, the very palpable hit” of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, this irreverent comedy centers on one teacher’s overzealous quest to mount a high school musical. Steve Coogan portrays Dana Marschz; the last name is pronounced...oh, any attempt is close enough, really. Dana is a failed actor-turned-high-school drama teacher. Shortchanged in the talent department, Dana still harbors ambitions and passions. At work, that is; his personal life, with his dissatisfied wife Brie (Catherine Keener) and their boarder Gary (David Arquette), leaves much to be desired. At Tucson, AZ’s West Mesa High School, Dana sees himself as an inspirational teacher. But his adaptations of popular films, as performed by his top students Rand and Epiphany (Skylar Astin and Phoebe Strole), are not resonating. When his latest – re-creating “Erin Brockovich” – is dismissed by the 9th grade drama critic and his department is targeted for closure, Dana must reach deep into himself for creativity. After much perspiration, he conceives a sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet – a musical-theater extravaganza that will disdain both political correctness and dramatic credibility. Rallying and rousing his class, Dana casts a wider net by recruiting transfer students like Ivonne (Melonie Diaz) for key roles. With rehearsals underway, objections from school officials and the community are soon raised, but Dana will not be denied his freedom of artistic expression. After all, “to thine own self be true.” Dana gets unexpected support from ACLU attorney Cricket Feldstein (Amy Poehler) and his favorite actress, Elisabeth Shue (portraying herself). Above all else, he fervently believes that his opus must be staged, and nothing can break his optimistic spirit.

Simply put, when the lunatics run the asylum, you wind up with a picture like this one. But who really cares? When you see a title such as Hamlet 2, you have to ask yourself, “are they serious?” When all the television commercials, radio spots and internet sites tout the films most popular song, “Rock Me, Sexy Jesus” as the next “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” you really have to gather yourself and see what all the hubub is about. This film was practically written for Steve Coogan’s overly dramatic performance style. The cameos are central to the story. Amy Poehler and Elisabeth Shue are hilarious. This film will leave you chuckling from the start and is worth seeing, provided you don’t take yourself, or this picture, too seriously.

Hamlet 2

Starring: Steve Coogan & Catherine Keener

Director: Andrew Fleming

Company: Focus

Now Showing: In area Theatres

MPAA Rating: R

Grade: B


THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN - Lionsgate

The Iron Man’s origins are explored in this film examining the unleashing of an ancient prophecy. When billionaire inventor Tony Stark raises the ruins of a buried Chinese kingdom, the emperor of China’s most horrific dynasty is unearthed. In order to protect himself in this ultimate battle, Tony designs a suit of armor which becomes known as the Iron Man.

BABY MAMA - Universal

Tina Fey stars as Kate, a 37-year-old vice president at an organic foods company whose womb starts a-kickin’ every time she sees a baby. Though her career has kept her from marriage and children, she has decided that it’s time for her to get pregnant. But multiple tries with in vitro fertilization leave her disappointed, and Kate turns to a surrogate mother. Enter Angie (Poehler), a high-school dropout desperate for the large check that comes with carrying someone’s child. Though she agrees to be Kate’s surrogate, it’s clear that the women disagree on everything from music to the type of food Angie should be eating. When Angie leaves her apartment after a fight with her obnoxious common-law husband (Dax Shepard), she moves into Kate’s posh Philadelphia apartment, and the women spend the rest of Baby Mama alternately battling and bonding.

WATER LILIES - Koch

In this French film, a group of teenage girls reveal that it’s not just adults who scheme and plot. Water Lilies is set in the seemingly innocent world of synchronized swimming, where Floriane (Adele Haenel) seduces everyone around her, including late bloomer Marie (Pauline Acquart). Writer-director Celine Sciamma makes her debut with this compelling drama that played at Cannes.

GHOST WHISPERER: Season Three - Paramount

Like a small-screen version of The Sixth Sense, CBS’s popular television series The Ghost Whisperer is a supernatural drama of the paranormal. Executive produced by real-life medium and author James Van Praagh, the series centers around a small-town antiques-store owner, Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt), who realizes she has the ability to communicate with ghosts. Melinda puts her unique skills to work by helping the dead find emotional closure while depending on her paramedic husband, Jim Clancy (David Conrad), and new business partner, Delia Banks (Camryn Manheim), for moral support. This collection presents every episode of the series’ third season.

WINGS: Season Seven - Paramount

The sometimes touching and always funny 1990s sitcom Wings starred Timothy Daly and Steven Weber as Joe and Brian Hackett, two brothers trying to run a small airline on Nantucket while dealing with a lovable, eccentric group of employees and friends that included lunch-counter waitress Helen Chapel (Crystal Bernard), immigrant cab driver Antonio Scarpacio (Tony Shaloub), and oddball mechanic Lowell Mather (Thomas Hayden Church). Created by the team behind Cheers and Frasier, Wings shared those shows’ taste for zany situational comedy that was also intelligent, emotional, and decidedly mature. This collection presents the beloved series’ seventh season.

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY - MGM

The film adaptation of Jay McInerney’s best-selling novel stars Michael J. Fox as yuppie New Yorker Jamie Conway, an aspiring writer whose life has fallen apart: His mother (Dianne Wiest) has died, and his model wife (Phoebe Cates) has just left him. Nightly, Jamie seeks solace in cocaine, alcohol, and the glittery nightclub scene, becoming completely immersed in the decadence and debauchery of 1980s upwardly mobile Manhattan. With the help of his hard-partying debutante friend, Tad (Kiefer Sutherland), Jamie can barely see straight, making it increasingly difficult to make his way to his unfulfilling job as a fact checker at a downtown lifestyle magazine. As Jamie becomes more and more consumed with his nightly routine and his own severe depression, he is fired from his job and forced to make a choice: either continue his downward spiral or examine his life--and change it for the better.

BEFORE THE RAINS - Lionsgate

Forbidden romance, empire, and culture clash all lie at the heart of this drama. In 1930s India, Britain’s reign is beginning to lose its hold on the region. In the midst of this turmoil, a British man (Linus Roache) embarks on an affair with an Indian woman (Nandita Das), while one of the men in the village (Rahul Bose) tries to quell his inner struggle. Santosh Sivan directs this film that is presented by Merchant Ivory.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE - Scholastic

Maurice Sendak’s classic book comes to the big screen in an adventure tale for every generation. “Where the Wild Things Are” follows the adventure of Max (Max Records), a mischievous young boy who is sent to his room after rebelling against his mother (Catherine Keener). Max’s imagination is free to roam, and it soon transports him to a thriving forest bordering a vast sea. Delighted, he sets sail for the land of the Wild Things, where mischief reigns and Max rules. In bringing this imaginative fantasy to life, Jonze leads a team of filmmakers incorporating the most dynamic elements of voice performance, live-action puppetry and computer animation.

TOM OSBORNE’S NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS - A&E

As head coach of the Cornhuskers from 1973 to 1997, Coach Tom Osborne guided, inspired, and elevated his Nebraska teams to 255 wins, 13 conference championships, and 3 national titles to cap perfect seasons. A moving tribute to a college football icon, this original film follows Osborne’s early coaching seasons under Bob Devaney through his ascension to head coach and beyond, honoring and celebrating the attributes of a champion on and off the field. Quiet and gracious, Doctor Osborne formulated the most prolific machine in College history while insisting that student quality run side-by-side with student-athlete quality. Spanning the decades at Memorial Stadium, stories are told by Coach Osborne himself, family, colleagues, and players including Cornhuskers Johnny Rodgers, Turner Gill, Jason Peter, Jerry Tagge, and Aaron Taylor.

WOODY HAYES’ OHIO STATE BUCKEYES - A&E

Across his three decades at Ohio State, Woody Hayes dominated the football landscape and spread the virtues and tradition of the Buckeyes from coast to coast. This new film is a tribute to the man who embodied the spirit of the Scarlet and Gray through hard work, intellect, leadership, inspiration, and character. 205 wins at Ohio State, three national championships, and 13 Big Ten titles only begin to measure Hayes’ accomplishments, his lasting legacy, and the remarkable impact of his core beliefs on Ohio State, are celebrated and honored here. Hayes’ creation of a national football powerhouse helped fill Buckeye Grove with All-Americans, but on and off the field Coach Hayes built champions. From his start at OU, to the “Ten Year War” between the Buckeyes and Wolverines for top-rank bragging rights, through to his retirement, the stories of Coach Hayes are told by players, colleagues, and friends including Archie Griffin, Rex Kern, Dick Schafrath, Jack Tatum, John Hicks and other Buckeye greats.

BO SCHEMBECHLER’S MICHIGAN WOLVERINES - A&E

Across 21 Michigan Football seasons Bo Schembechler was the embodiment of integrity. From his running of theWolverine football program, to his relationships with players and peers, to the 194 Michigan wins and .796 wining percentage, Bo believed in core values for the man and the mind. But most of all, he knew how to win football games. This new tribute film celebrates a true college football legend and captures why Bo was beloved by legions of fans and the massive alumni base. In many ways, Schembechler defined the modern Michigan man while elevating Wolverine football to a national powerhouse. This new tribute film is straight to DVD with exclusive interviews featuring legendary players and coaches, classic game action and riveting stories. Tales of triumph and stories include insightful interviews with Wolverines legends Dan Dierdorf, Bump Elliott, Jamie Morris, Jim Brandstetter, John Falk, Lloyd Carr, and others in the Michigan family.

 

Nick be reached at Filmlords@gmail.com

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   Last Update:  September 03, 2008