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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.


 
TAKEN

Liam Neeson is an unstoppable force in this adrenaline-fueled thriller from director Pierre Morel. Bryan (Neeson) has taken early retirement from the CIA in order to live closer to his teenage daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). Bryan’s government work kept him away from Kim for much of her childhood, and he’s now trying to make up for lost time. When Kim announces that she’s taking a trip to Paris with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy), Bryan is apprehensive about her traveling on her own. His worst fear is soon realized, as Kim and Amanda are abducted upon their arrival in France. Bryan immediately springs into action, using his well-honed CIA skills to piece together clues from a single, frantic phone call he received from Kim. He hops a plane to Paris, determined to rescue his daughter before she falls off the grid completely. With some help from his old CIA buddies, he tracks down the kidnappers--an Albanian crime ring known for selling young girls into the sex trade. He quickly takes matters into his own hands, plowing his way through Paris’s underworld as the clock ticks down and the bullets fly. His search propels him into the upper echelons of a massive crime ring, putting him closer and closer to his beloved daughter. Neeson is known for tackling extremely cerebral roles, so it is interesting to see him in full-on action-hero mode. In Taken, he is no less than a crime-fighting machine--a Bourne/Bond hybrid with a deathly serious baritone. And while he spends most of the film firing Uzis and snapping necks, he still manages to deliver a moving performance as an estranged father fighting for what he loves most in the world. The film undeniably owes a lot to Neeson’s acting chops. He manages to raise this rather thinly plotted, deeply violent film a bar above your typical action fare. A perfect popcorn piece to keep you from going crazy until better films hit the screen in two months.

Taken

Starring: Liam Neeson & Maggie Grace

Director: Pierre Morel

Company: Fox

Now Showing: In area Theatres

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Grade: B


DEEP WINTER - Sony

Tyler Crowe and Mark Rider have been friends since childhood, bonded by a common love for snowboarding. When they finally get a chance to reunite after what seems like ages, it doesn’t take long for the duo to find their next thrill-seeking quest. With the help of an experienced guide, they attempt a potentially deadly descent down a nearly impossible Alaskan trail.

RENT: Filmed Live on Broadway: Blu-ray - Sony

A group of East Village bohemians struggle to live their lives and pay the rent on time in this filmed performance of Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer and Tony award-winning Broadway musical. With success and acceptance always just out of reach, these starving artists must do their best to remain optimistic about the future while contending with such formidable obstacles as poverty and the growing AIDS epidemic. This is a brilliant work with a tremendously well done performance. A must own!

BLOOD + Volume Four - Sony

Saya Otonashi, a seemingly normal high school student, suffers from amnesia and can’t remember the past year of her life. One day, after a man appears and gives her a katana sword, her destiny changes forever. Soon Saya finds herself fighting the latest threat to humanity Chiropterans, ravenous immortal creatures that can change form and disguise themselves as human beings. An organization known as the Red Shield has been waging a private war to wipe them out. Saya travels to Ekaterinburg during the continued struggle, but no one’s safe.

COMING TO AMERICA - Paramount

This fantastical fairy tale stars Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem, a pampered African prince who is yearning to be self-sufficient in his extremely opulent society, where his every whim is catered to. When Akeem turns 21 he defies the wishes of his kingdom and refuses to marry the beautiful bride who has been chosen for him. Instead, he sets out for America to find true love with his trusty sidekick, Semmi (Arsenio Hall). Determined to appear common, the pair arrive in Queens, New York, and quickly have to adapt to a world where they are no longer royalty and can’t seem to find a modern woman who suits the prince’s tastes--until he meets Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley), the lovely daughter of Cleo McDowell (John Amos), who owns McDowell’s restaurant, a fast-food restaurant suspiciously like McDonald’s. Akeem and Semmi get jobs at McDowell’s and set about charming the unsuspecting Lisa. As the romance blossoms, Akeem has an increasingly difficult time hiding his true identity, especially when his royal parents (James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair) and their entourage arrive in New York, eager to return their only heir to Africa.

NICK & NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST: Blu-ray - Sony

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a comedy about two people thrust together for one hilarious, sleepless night of adventure in a world of mix tapes, late-night living, and, live, loud music. Nick (Michael Cera) frequents New York’s indie rock scene nursing a broken heart and a vague ability to play the bass. Norah (Kat Dennings) is questioning pretty much all of her assumptions about the world. Though they have nothing in common except for their taste in music, their chance encounter leads to an all-night quest to find a legendary band’s secret show and ends up becoming the first date in a romance that could change both their lives.

LAW & ORDER: SVU Season Eight - Universal

This award-winning show is a spin-off of NBC’s incredibly popular and long-running crime drama, Law & Order. Starring Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay (who won an Emmy for her work on the show) as Detectives Stabler and Benson, SVU focuses on the often shocking world of sex crimes. Rather than spending half the program’s hour with the cops and the other half with the lawyers, the series stays with the police and the criminals they pursue for most of the show.

PICTURING THE PRESIDENTS - Smithsonian Networks

An image is everything! Some presidents were great, some were not. All of them were important. American presidents shape the course of history. But their portraits shape the way they are remembered. Painstakingly coaxed from oil on canvas or captured through the lens of a camera, every portrait shapes a president’s legacy. Everyone expects a lot from a presidential portrait--the artist, the public, even the presidents themselves. And, as always, both the presidents and their portraits elicit strong and varied opinions. These historical portraits, housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., keep alive our memories of not only the U.S. presidents themselves but our idea of the American story.

KENNEDY: The Complete Series - MPI

Martin Sheen stars in the title role in this mini-series which centres on the momentous presidential years and the loves, lives, triumphs and tragedies of one of the most controversial families of this century. John F. Kennedy was America’s 35th President, its first Roman Catholic President, its richest, the youngest to die in office and, arguably, it’s most celebrated and beloved. Sheen shines in the title role and is a must own for any historian.

UNFAITHFUL: Blu-ray - Fox

Connie Sumner (Diane Lane) travels to New York City from the suburban home she shares with her husband Edward (Richard Gere) and young son Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan). It is a very windy day and, caught by a particularly savage gust, Connie falls and bumps into bookseller Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez) in the process. She scrapes her knees, and Paul invites her into his apartment. She stays only briefly, leaving after attending to her knees. She passes the accident off as trivial to Edward. But, she is drawn to the younger man and soon returns to his apartment with eventually disastrous results.

NIGHTS IN RODANTHE - Warner

Diane Lane and Richard Gere team up for the third time for this three-hankie romance based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. Adrienne Willis (Lane) feels her life falling apart around her: her unfaithful husband (Christopher Meloni) is begging to come home, and her teenage daughter (Mae Whitman) can’t stand to be around her. When her friend (Viola Davis) asks her to watch her bed and breakfast in the picturesque town of Rodanthe, Adrienne leaps at the chance to get away. But since it’s late in the season, there’s only one guest: the handsome Dr. Paul Flanner (Gere), who is quiet about his reason for coming to the town. Driven together by a powerful hurricane, Adrienne and Paul find love and comfort in each other’s arms.

LUCY & DESI: A Home Movie - MPI

Lucy Arnaz, daughter of comedy duo Desi and Lucie Arnaz, hosts this intimate retrospective of her legendary parents’ lives. Featuring never-before-seen color family movies, as well as a variety of interviews with family, friends, and business associates, this documentary sheds a sometimes painful light on the joyous ups and bitter downs enjoyed and suffered by this couple.

I SERVED THE KING OF ENGLAND - Sony Pictures Classic

I Served the King of England is another welcome invitation to witness Jiri Menzel’s singular vision, which is liberally sprinkled with homage to silent features, vaudeville, and slapstick. The film tells the story of Jan Dite, an ordinary Czech citizen who reflects on life after being released from jail. Much of the film is told in flashback, with Menzel transporting his audience back to Dite’s younger days in Prague, both before and during World War II, where the young restaurant worker does whatever it takes to fulfill his dreams of becoming a millionaire. His reckless and frequently hilarious path to achieving his goal becomes the backbone of the movie, and Menzel deftly edits back and forth between the older and younger versions of Dite as his history is revealed.

 

Contact Filmlords@gmail.com if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:January 30, 2009