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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.


 

THE FUGITIVE: Season Two, Volume Two - Paramount

This classic 1960s television series features David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, a man falsely convicted of murdering his wife. While he’s being transported to death row, his train derails, setting him loose and granting him the opportunity to clear his name. As Kimble scours the country for his wife’s murderer--the famed “one-armed man”--he must also keep one step ahead of the lawman, Lt. Gerard (Barry Morse), who is pursuing him. A groundbreaking series with an engaging storyline and excellent direction, The Fugitive was such a pop-culture phenomenon that its finale was the highest-rated television episode of its time. The hunt is on in this second batch of episodes from the series’ second season.

DANTON - Criterion

A dramatic metaphor for the revolutionary events unfolding in his native Poland, Andrzej Wajda’s adaptation of Stanislawa Przybyszewska’s play is a brilliant account of the struggle of the two leaders of the French Revolution to control the country’s future. GÈrard Depardieu stars as Danton, who has retired to his country estate after having been supplanted as head of the Committee for Public Safety by Robespierre (Wojciech Psoniak). But with the commencement of the Reign of Terror, Danton returns to Paris in November 1793 in the hope that he can stem the tide of bloodshed unleashed by his former ally. Confident that his rhetorical skills and the high esteem in which he is held by the French people will cause them to rise up against the brutal ruling regime, Danton is stunned to find them pauperized by the recent war with Austria and cowed by the ubiquity of Robespierre’s minions. Behind closed doors, Danton’s attempts to act as a mediator between warring factions are met with cold indifference by the rigidly obsessive Robespierre. Anchored by exceptional performances by Depardieu and Psoniak and featuring exceptional photography and art direction, Wajda’s coruscating epic is a masterpiece of reimagined history.

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT - MGM

Masters of horror Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham revisit their landmark film that launched Craven’s directing career and influenced decades of horror films to follow: The Last House on the Left. The night she arrives at the remote Collingwood lakehouse, Mari (Sara Paxton) and her friend are kidnapped by a prison escapee and his crew. Terrified and left for dead, Mari’s only hope is to make it back to parents John and Emma (Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter). Unfortunately, her attackers unknowingly seek shelter at the one place she could be safe. And when her family learns the horrifying story, they will make three strangers curse the day they came to The Last House on the Left.

TELL NO ONE: Blu-ray - MPI

Francois Cluzet stars in this French thriller from director Guillaume Canet. Eight years after the heinous murder of his wife, doctor Alex Beck receives an ominous email from an unknown source. The message contains a video image of Alex’s thought-to-be dead wife in real time. A stunning film that will captivate you to the very end and should not be missed!

DYNASTY: Season Four, Volume One - Paramount

Epitomizing the glamour and decadence of 1980s Reagan-era America, Dynasty was essentially a primetime soap opera characterized by campy, melodramatic plotlines, as well as by Joan Collins’s magnetic performance as the conniving Alexis Colby. She is divorced from Blake Carrington (John Forsythe), a fabulously wealthy oil magnate who marries his secretary, Krystle Jennings (Linda Evans), at the show’s inception--while the jealous Alexis schemes to do everything she can to destroy their union. The rest of the cast includes Blake and Alexis’s children, the promiscuous amnesiac Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) and the sexually ambivalent Steven (Jack Coleman), as well as resident geologist Matthew Blaisdel (Bo Hopkins) and his psychotic wife, Claudia (Pamela Bellwood). This collection presents the first batch of episodes from the show’s fourth season, featuring former president Gerald Ford and his wife, Betty Ford, as guest stars.

THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX - Universal

Once upon a time, in the faraway kingdom of Dor, there was magic in the air, raucous laughter aplenty and gallons of mouth-watering soup. But a terrible accident left the king broken-hearted, the princess filled with longing and the townsfolk despondent. All hope was lost in a land where sunlight disappeared and the world became dreary gray. Until Despereaux Tilling was born... A brave and virtuous mouse, Despereaux is simply too big for his small world. Though tiny, wheezy and saddled with comically oversized ears, Despereaux refuses to live a life of weakness and fear...believing he was destined to be celebrated in the tales of chivalry he so adores. When he’s banished from his home for not following the rules that society expects of a mouse, Despereaux befriends fellow outcast Roscuro, a good-hearted rat who can’t bear to look in the mirror and hopes to live far from the grim underground of his kind. While Despereaux begins his noble quest to rescue Pea--a princess who can’t see beyond her distorted view of the world--his pal Roscuro receives a painful rejection from her highness that sets him on a course of self-destruction. Along their parallel adventures, the two encounter colorful characters from a serving girl who wishes to be a princess to the evil leader of the sewer rats, who plots revenge on humans from his fiefdom in the subterranean shadows he relishes but Roscuro can’t abide.

BOLT: Blu-ray - Disney

For super-dog Bolt (John Travolta), every day is filled with adventure, danger and intrigue, at least until the cameras stop rolling. When the star of a hit TV show is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New York City, he begins his biggest adventure yet; a cross-country journey through the real world to get back to his owner and co-star, Penny (Miley Cyrus). Armed only with the delusions that all his amazing feats and powers are real, and the help of two unlikely traveling companions—a jaded, abandoned housecat named Mittens (Susie Essman) and a TV-obsessed hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton). Bolt discovers he doesn’t need superpowers to be a hero.

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS: Blu-ray - MGM

Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins will likely be forever associated with their roles in this bone-chilling masterpiece, based on the novel by Thomas Harris and directed by Jonathan Demme. FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Foster) is sent by her supervisor (Scott Glenn) to interview ferociously intelligent serial killer Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lechter (Hopkins) at his cell in a Maryland mental hospital. The FBI hopes Lechter can provide insight into the mind of killer-at-large, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), whose current abductee happens to be the daughter of a senator. Intrigued by Clairice, Lechter demands information about her personal life and in exchange for clues, and the two begin to form a strangely intimate connection, with a girl’s life hanging in the balance. Starling is gradually revealed as a woman struggling out of her own darkness, bound to aid the dysfunctional males around her on their own paths of transformation, liberation, and destruction. This is a film of brilliant and disturbing beauty that transcends its B-movie origins (though it does honor them with a cameo appearance by Roger Corman).

IN THE ELECTRIC MIST - Image

Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones leads an all-star cast in this psychological thriller based on the bestselling novel by James Lee Burke. While on an investigation into a series of grisly. While on an investigation into a series of grisly murders, veteran detective Dave Robicheaux (Jones) navigates his way through the Louisiana bayou and the dark, sultry world of New Orleans mobster “Baby Feet” Balboni (John Goodman). Layers of corruption and long-dead secrets reawaken grudges and a lethal alliance A tangled web of killings, past and present, converges in a shocking showdown with stakes that become deeply personal to Robicheaux and his family.

GIRLS NEXT DOOR: Season Four - Fox

Get an uncensored look at Hugh Hefner’s buxom blondes in this reality series. After the White House, the Playboy Mansion is America’s most famous home, and this show gives a glimpse at the lives of beautiful residents Holly, Bridget, and Kendra. This release includes every episode of the series’ fourth season, plus commentary from the three gorgeous girls.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN - Magnolia

Oskar (KÂre Hedebrant) is a 12-year-old outcast who is frequently picked on by his classmates. He dreams of getting his revenge, but he never stands up to the boys. With the arrival of his new next-door neighbor, 12-year-old Eli (Lina Leandersson), Oskar may finally have found a friend, ally, and first love. But Eli is no ordinary girl: she must keep her pale skin out of the sunlight, she can perform inhuman physical feats, and she has thirst for blood. The bodies begin to pile up, but Oskar can’t stay away from the girl who has finally given him courage.

IN PLAIN SIGHT: Season One - Universal

U.S. Marshal Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) is sworn to protect the innocent (and the not-so-innocent) participants in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Quick-witted and wary of authority, Shannon forms strong bonds with the men and women she safeguards, and often bends the rules to keep them from harm. In its first season, In Plain Sight follows Shannon and her cerebral partner, Marshall Mann (Fred Weller), as they watch over a man waiting to testify against his murderous father, a young girl who witnessed a gruesome crime, and a con-woman who rats out her diamond-smuggling spouse. This collection includes every episode from the show’s debut season on the USA Network.

THE LAST METRO - Criterion

FranÁois Truffaut, whose “Day for Night” explored the world of filmmaking, now turns to the stage in this story of a small theater company during the German occupation of France. Marion Steiner, the theater’s owner, is desperately trying to keep both the troupe and Lucas, her Jewish husband, alive. To do this, she’s staging a new play, which must be successful if she is to maintain the theater. Not only is this an artistic imperative -- the building also serves as a refuge for Lucas, who’s hiding from the Nazis. But just as the actors begin their rehearsals, an anti-semitic journalist ensconces himself in the theater, creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. Will he discover Lucas’s hideaway... or the truth about the political affiliations of the group’s lead actor? One of the most brilliant films in the Criterion collection, this is a must own for any film fan.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN: Blu-ray - Universal

Set against the sweeping vistas of Wyoming and Texas, the film tells the story of two young men – a ranch-hand and a rodeo cowboy – who meet in the summer of 1963, and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection, one whose complications, joys and tragedies provide a testament to the endurance and power of love. Early one morning in Signal, Wyoming, Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) meet while lining up for employment with local rancher Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid). The world which Ennis and Jack have been born into is at once changing rapidly and yet scarcely evolving. Both young men seem certain of their set places in the heartland – obtaining steady work, marrying and raising a family – and yet hunger for something beyond what they can articulate. When Aguirre dispatches them to work as sheepherders up on the majestic Brokeback Mountain, they gravitate towards camaraderie and then a deeper intimacy.

AUSTRALIA: Blu-ray - Fox

In Australia, Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman) is a prim and proper Englishwoman who journeys to Australia in the years before World War II reached the country’s shores. She is determined to have her estranged husband sell his cattle ranch to a monopoly-craving businessman named King Carney (Bryan Brown), but when she arrives, Lord Ashley is dead, and her plan to sell the ranch changes when she sees an employee named Fletcher (David Wenham) cheating her husband’s business and mistreating a young boy named Nullah (Brandon Walters) because he is of mixed race. Urged on by both pride and a sense of justice, Lady Ashley wants to drive her herd of cattle to Darwin so she can sell them to the troops, but she’ll require the help of an independent cowboy (fellow Aussie Hugh Jackman) to get them there.

DENNIS MILLER: The HBO Specials - SRO

Without fail, Dennis Miller is the defacto leader of the HBO comedy specials. Beginning with Robert Klein in the mid 1970’s and as recently as Chris Rock with last year’s Kill the Messenger, Dennis Miller sets the tone and format for everyone regarding these special programs. How can you not think of Dennis Miller? Most connoisseurs of comedy will! On March 31, Standing Room Only Entertainment will release all seven of Mr Miller’s specials in one package with Dennis Miller: The HBO Specials. Over the span of those seven hours, you can track the king of the obscure reference as his politics changed, from a few early swipes at Ronald Reagan to his lean a bit more right after 9/11. All fans of Dennis Miller should own this set!

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:
April 30, 2009