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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.
 
APPALOOSA

Actor Ed Harris takes only his second stab at directing, following the Oscar-winning feature Pollock with this spirited western. Harris draws on a strong cast, many of whom have acted with him in previous films, to tell the story of two gunfighters attempting to bring peace to the small town of Appaloosa in the late 1800s. Virgil Cole (Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) ride into the windswept New Mexico town and are hired to bring vigilante entrepreneur Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) to justice. Bragg has imposed a reign of terror over Appaloosa, but his murderous actions are tempered when Cole and Hitch take control. Matters get complicated when widower Allison French (Renee Zellweger) flounces into town and variously woos Cole, Hitch, and Bragg, allowing Harris to throw in a few neat twists as his two principal characters attempt to bring the miscreant entrepreneur to justice.

Appaloosa is a slow-moving and beautifully shot feature that perfectly translates the dusky New Mexico landscape to celluloid. The film stands shoulder to shoulder with 21st-century westerns such as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and The Proposition, and much like those films Harris’s feature draws heavily on deeply affecting performances from his leads. Irons is particularly affecting as the baleful Bragg, who brings a real air of menace to the screen any time he appears on camera. The nuanced turns by Harris and Mortensen play like a master class in subtlety, with the two seasoned actors perfectly delivering two stoic characters who are masking a lifetime of pain and suffering. Harris’s feature is a welcome addition to the fold of introspective westerns, effortlessly standing alongside similar efforts such as Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven or James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma.

There are many out in the moviegoing public that view the western as an artform that should be dead and buried. Personally, I am not one of those closed minded individuals. The bottom line is that westerns are beautiful cinematic masterpieces. While watching films from the western genre, it’s necessary to look beyond five feet in front of the camera. One must take in the landscape in order to truly appreciate the film. Appaloosa is a wonderful film, but its beauty will likely not be rivaled this year. Cinematography aside, it may be rewarded with other Oscar nominations, too! Get out to see this one. It is worth every penny.

Appaloosa

Starring: Ed Harris

& Viggo Mortensen

Director: Ed Harris

Company: Warner

Now Showing:

In area Theatres

MPAA Rating: R - Grade: A


DOCTOR WHO: The Five Doctors - BBC

A fan’s fantasy come true. This legendary special is a grand one-time-only reunion of the first five Doctors, as well as a reunion of all their most famous friends, foes and monsters. Peter Davidson’s more humanistic doctor is the lead in this incredible assembly of characters from the classic science fiction series.

DOCTOR WHO: Time Meddler - BBC

An immensely popular British science-fiction show, Doctor Who has enthralled viewers for decades with innovative plots, great acting, and some slightly dated effects which lend the program an endearing period-charm. Although aired sporadically on US television, many of the episodes have not seen the light of day here.

HORATIO HORNBLOWER COLLECTORS EDITION - A&E

Eight tales featuring the legendary Horatio Hornblower are collected here. The titles included are: The Duel, The Fire Ships, The Duchess and the Devil, The Wrong War, The Mutiny, Retribution, Loyalty and Duty.

GREY’S ANATOMY: Season Four: Blu-ray - BVHE

Grey’s Anatomy is a quick-witted, warmhearted medical drama that explores the personal and professional relationships of the doctors at a Seattle hospital. After winning the 2007 Golden Globe for Best Drama, the hit series returned for a fourth season that saw the long-suffering interns--Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), Cristina (Sandra Oh), Izzie (Katherine Heigl), and Alex (Justin Chambers)--begin their first grueling year as residents. As they navigate new life-and-death situations, they must also mentor new underlings, including Meredith’s half sister, Lexie (Chyler Leigh), and ex-colleague George (T.R. Knight), who remains an intern after failing his exams. Upper management has also seen a few shake-ups, as the hot-tempered Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) lost the Chief Resident spot to Dr. Torres (Sara Ramirez), and now must struggle to accept her lower place on the food chain. Meanwhile, Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) tries to work despite the emotional wounds caused by the ends of his relationships with both Meredith and his ex-wife. Every episode from the 2007-08 season is included in this volume, along with deleted scenes, and a bonus “on the set” featurette with stars Dempsey and Eric Dane.

LARRY FLYNT: The Right to be Left Alone - LE

He was the subject of the feature film The People vs. Larry Flynt, and his life has been packed full of one extraordinary event after another. So it’s appropriate that this DVD should shine a light on the life and career of Hustler magazine mogul Larry Flint in this installment. Rare footage combines with interviews from Flynt and his associates to tell the remarkable tale.

AFFAIR IN TRINIDAD - Sony

The Gilda pairing of Hayworth and Ford reunite for a steamy tropical tale. When a sexy cafe dancer’s husband is murdered by an international spy, the local police ask her to snoop into the spy’s affairs. But temperatures really rise when her brother-in-law arrives and they are drawn into the mystery and to each other.

AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT - A&E

David Suchet returns as Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot in two A&E original movies based on Agatha Christie’s best-selling mystery novels. In “The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd,” Poirot’s country village retreat is suddenly riddled with suspicious blackmail when his neighbor is found inexplicably murdered. In “Lord Edgware Dies,” Poirot is smitten by charming actress Jane Wilkinson and decides to pursue her estranged husband in the hopes of inciting a divorce, but there is one problem: when he arrives at the Lord’s estate Poirot finds the man has been assassinated!

THE SIMPSONS: Season 11 - Fox

Devoted Simpsons fans need wait no further for Season 11 of the animated series, presented here in its entirety. In its landmark eleventh season, the show showed no signs of slowing down. The Simpsons--ineffectual (but lovable) patriarch Homer, voice-of-reason mother Marge, rebellious son Bart, brilliant daughter Lisa, and quiet baby Maggie--live in the town of Springfield, surrounded by both the regular cast of characters and the stellar guest stars fans have come to expect. Among the celebrity voices donated to this season are Mel Gibson, Lucy Lawless, Gary Coleman, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Britney Spears, Kid Rock, and Willie Nelson. Meanwhile, Homer bowls a perfect game, gets challenged to a pistol duel, starts a motorcycle gang, and becomes a food critic while Bart is put on behavior-correcting medication and gets a look into his future, Lisa takes tap dancing lessons, Marge thinks the new house guest wants to kill her, and Moe lands a soap opera gig after getting plastic surgery. In this season’s Treehouse of Horror episode, Homer accidentally kills Ned Flanders, Bart and Lisa gain superpowers and save Lucy Lawless, and Homer inadvertantly causes a Y2K apocalypse.

INDIANA JONES and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Paramount

When we last saw Indiana Jones on screen, it was 1938, and the world stood on the brink of war as Dr. Jones chased down evildoers to find the Holy Grail. Nineteen years later, he’s cracking his whip again, and many things have changed ... but some have remained the same. Again, the world is at a precipice, this time caused by the specter of nuclear annihilation, and Indy’s struggle is once again to ensure that a precious, mysterious object remains safe from those bent on destroying humanity.

CHAPLIN: 15th Anniversary Edition - Lions Gate

A dramatized biography of the highs and lows in the life of one of the foremost comic geniuses the screen has ever known. Presented as the reminiscences of an elderly Chaplin, the narrative opens with the comic’s impoverished East London childhood, and progresses through his vaudeville and Hollywood successes to his virtual banishment from the United States, and eventually his welcome back to accept a special Academy Award -- 20 years too late.

THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY: Season Three - Sony

The television family who defined a generation returns for a second season, stealing the hearts of American viewers young and old. Every kid wanted to be a part of the Partridge Family in the early 1970s, and the adventures of these pop sensations remain fresh, fun, and timeless. Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones) was a widowed mom struggling to make ends meet, so she put together a band with her exceptionally talented children, and the rest was history. Enjoying their success in the second season, the family also struggles with their fame, trying to retain a modicum of normalcy under their own rising star.

 

Nick be reached at Filmlords@gmail.com

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   Last Update:  December 03, 2008