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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.


 

TWELVE

Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, acclaimed director Nikita Mikhalkov’s 12 is an ambitious and enthralling dissection of the many personal and social quandaries facing modern-day Russia. Inspired by Sidney Lumet’s 1957 classic, 12 Angry Men, 12 opens with the closing arguments in the case of a Chechen teenager accused of murdering his adoptive Russian father. With the courthouse under construction, the 12 male jurors adjourn to a dilapidated school gym in order to deliberate the verdict. Certain of the teen’s guilt and eager to go back to their lives, the men launch a brief deliberation that leads to a unanimous show of hands. But when a soft-spoken Muscovite questions the haste of their judgment, the complexities of the case soon reveal themselves. So, too, do the complexities of each juror, from an anti-Semitic cab driver to a slick TV producer to a portly surgeon sympathetic to the teen’s war-torn upbringing. Many issues are explored on various levels: racism, greed, government bureaucracy, anti-Semitism and national identity in post-Soviet Russia, to name a few. As day turns to night, the jurors find their once-certain conclusions turning the other way. But when the jury foreman (Mikhalkov) explains the potential consequences of their new consensus, the 12 must decide if the right verdict could be its own death sentence for the teen. What adds to the tension and suspense of this picture is that we don’t know any of the characters names, outside of the defendant. The film doesn’t seem as long as it is (2.5 hours), due to the pacing and dialog. Having won a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for Burnt by the Sun, Mikhalkov once again displays his mastery of drama and humor in a style that is theatrically, uniquely Russian. Dramatically charged and brilliantly acted, 12 is as much a statement about the importance of justice as it is a loving meditation on a country and a people still struggling to find their way forward. I cannot recommend this film more highly. Get out and see it now!

Twelve

Starring: Nikita Mikhalkov & Sergey Makovetsky

Director: Nikita Mikhalkov

Company: Sony Pictures Classics

Now Showing: In area Theatres

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Grade: A

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DVD REVIEW

THE IT CROWD - MPI

Most know them only as the apparitions who materialize to work their elusive magic on cryptic error messages and computer meltdowns, before vanishing just as suddenly as they appeared. But in this British sitcom, the long-suffering workers known as the I.T. Department finally get their due. Fans of The Office will likely enjoy this bubbling workplace satire, which focuses on hot-tempered techno-toiler Roy (Chris O’Dowd), hapless nerd Moss (Richard Ayoade), and their pretty, computer-illiterate manager, Jen (Katherine Parkinson). From their dilapidated den in the basement of a London skyscraper, the team fight a daily battle against impaired office equipment, malfunctioning employees, and their delightfully deranged boss, Denholm Reynholm (Christopher Morris). This collection presents the first season of the series.

SESAME STREET: Follow that Bird - Warner

Big Bird leaves Sesame Street to live with an “adopted feathered family,” but gets homesick and decides to return to his old pals. As with all of the Sesame Street lessons for kids, this episode demonstrates family values incredibly well. All children will respond positively to this dvd.

TWILIGHT - Summit

Twilight is an action-packed, modern-day love story between a teenage girl and a vampire. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) has always been a little bit different, never caring about fitting in with the trendy girls at her Phoenix high school. When her mother re-marries and sends Bella to live with her father in the rainy little town of Forks, Washington, she doesn’t expect much of anything to change. Then she meets the mysterious and dazzlingly beautiful Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a boy unlike any she’s ever met. Edward is a vampire, but he doesn’t have fangs and his family is unique in that they choose not to drink human blood. Intelligent and witty, Edward sees straight into Bella’s soul. Soon, they are swept up in a passionate, thrilling and unorthodox romance. To Edward, Bella is what he has waited 90 years for – a soul mate. But the closer they get, the more Edward must struggle to resist the primal pull of her scent, which could send him into an uncontrollable frenzy.

CLEOPATRA 75th EDITION - Universal

Grandiose, epic, and vintage Hollywood. Claudette Colbert stars as the captivating and powerful Queen of Egypt in this classic Hollywood film. When Julius Caesar, the leader of the Roman Empire, succumbs to the charms of the sultry Cleopatra, he creates a scandal big enough to shake the marble pillars of Rome. The ruler pays dearly for his romance, for the outraged Roman Senate repudiates him and the fickle Cleopatra decides to protect her interests by bestowing her affections on her former lover’s rival, Marc Antony. A film of the same title was remade in 1963 with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

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. This is definitely a film to see that will keep you glued to the edge of your chair.

DEADLIEST CATCH: Season Four - IMAGE

A treacherous stretch of the Bering Sea provides some nail-biting entertainment in this show from the Discovery Channel. The Deadliest Catch follows eight fishing boats as they head out into the water to take advantage of prime fishing opportunities. The fierce nature of the Bering Sea brings much drama to the show as returning contestants Captain Sig Hansen of the Northwestern and Phil Harris of the Cornelia Marie go into battle with newcomer Blake Painter of the Maverick. The tension on board each boat rises to breaking point as the bold crews try to land the biggest haul, making for compelling viewing as this complete collection of episodes from the fourth season unfolds.

SEVEN POUNDS - Sony

Academy Award nominee Will Smith reunites with the directors and producers of The Pursuit of Happyness for the emotional drama Seven Pounds. In the film, Smith plays Ben Thomas, an IRS agent with a fateful secret who embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers. The best suggestion that can be rendered here is that you should see the film without knowing anything else about the synopsis. It will tug at your heart strings!

SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK: Earth! - Disney

Schoolhouse Rock is going green! Schoolhouse Rock Earth has all the heart and musical soul of the original Schoolhouse Rock, designed for a new generation of fans! Eleven all-new songs with all-new animation prove that caring about the environment can be rockin fun! The orignal Schoolhouse Rock masters have written all new songs sung by beloved voices from timeless classics like I’m Just A Bill and Conjunction Junction. There couldn’t be a better time to be educated and entertained about water conservation, recycling, biodiversity, solar power and the rainforest, the Schoolhouse Rock way!

IL GENERALE DELLA ROVERE - Criterion

A petty con man living in Italy during World War II, is forced by the Nazis into impersonating an executed Italian general, and is transformed into a true leader of the resistance. I highly recommend this DVD to anyone who enjoys films that capture your interest with deception. This picture also received Academy Award Nominations in the Best (Original) Story and Screenplay categories.

SOUTH PACIFIC: Blu-ray - MGM

Love blossoms on a paradisical South Seas island during World War II in this splashy screen production of the hit Broadway musical. A Navy nurse falls for a French planter, an American lieutenant woos a fetching native girl and an assortment of sailors lust after female military personnel. All this amorous activity, with the attendant problems of interracial romance, provide fodder for the some of Rodger & Hammerstein’s most famous and well-loved tunes.

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: Blu-ray - Miramax

With No Country for Old Men, the Coen Brothers have found a perfect match in Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy. Their adaptation of McCarthy’s praised novel is a staggering masterpiece. In this almost impossibly faithful adaptation, the film takes place in a small Texas border town in 1980. Sheriff Bell (a never-been-better Tommy Lee Jones) has ruled the land for years without the use of a gun, but a new brand of reckless lawlessness has taken over his town. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is an innocent Everyman with a devoted wife, Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald), but when he stumbles across a drug deal gone deadly and finds two million dollars, he’s determined to keep it for himself. There’s only one problem. He’s being pursued by one of the most amoral, evil psychopaths that the big screen has ever seen. Wearing an absurd haircut and brandishing a pressurized weapon that’s used to murder cattle, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) creeps forward on his mission to track Moss down and return the money to its rightful owners to save his own skin.

DONKEY PUNCH - Magnet

Kim (Jaime Winstone), Tammi (Nichola Burley) and Lisa (Sian Breckin) are best friends on a girl’s weekend in Mallorca, away from grey Leeds. Feisty Kim and carefree Lisa are determined to party. They hit it off instantly and, while sipping stolen champagne on the beach, the boys brag about the luxury yacht they are crewing on for the summer, and lure the girls back to the boat for sunset tunes and bubbly. Despite Tammi’s hesitation, Kim and Lisa are keen to party and Lisa finally coaxes Tammi onboard, but only after they’ve spotted the rather lovely Sean (Robert Boulter) who’d stayed behind on the boat while the boys were bar-hopping. Josh gives the girls the grand tour and they are suitably impressed. Bluey jumps on the DJ decks and Sean, who turns out to be Josh’s older brother, shows his sensible nature demanding Bluey turn the music down. Marcus decides they should head out to sea where noise won’t be a problem. The scene is idyllic. The sun is shining, the ocean is crystal blue and Bluey, (wannabe rude-boy, drug-dealer and DJ) can pump the music as loud as he wants, because there’s no one around for miles. Not for the faint of heart, this film is very adult in nature and should not be viewed by anyone under age.

LAID TO REST - Anchor Bay

A terrifying story of a young girl who wakes up in a casket with a traumatic head injury and no memory of her identity. She quickly realizes she was abducted by a deranged serial murder and must survive the night and outsmart the technologically inclined killer who is hell bent on finishing what he started. This film will surprise you in numerous ways. Not one to generally frighten easily, this film definitely left an impression with me.

TRUCK STOP - MVD

Penelope runs an inn for truckers. Crazy about her own body, she valiantly tries to keep horny truckers at bay while her man Ulysses travels abroad at the wheel of his own vehicle. Everybody wants to conquer Penelope as well as her servants, Sandra, Julie, Corinne and FranÁoise. With Truck Stop, Jean-Marie Pallardy signs his own homage to Homer’s Odyssey. Laced with bold erotica and a devastating sense of humor, this daring movie will bring out the secret trucker in you. This DVD is definitely for adults of appropriate age!

YES MAN: Blu-ray - Warner

Jim Carrey seems right at home playing Carl, a divorcÈ who starts out the film depressed and withdrawn, scared of taking a risk. Pressured by his best friend, Peter (Bradley Cooper), to get his act together or be stuck with a lonely life, Carl attends a New Age self-help seminar intended to change “no men” like Carl into “yes men” willing to meet life’s challenges with gusto. Carl is reluctant at first, but finds the seminar to be ultimately life-changing when he’s coerced into giving the “say yes” attitude a try. As the first opportunity to say yes presents itself, Carl hesitantly utters the three-letter word, setting the stage for a domino effect of good rewards, and giving Carrey a platform to show off his comic chops. But over time Carl realizes that saying yes to everything indiscriminately can reap results as complicated and messy as his life had become when saying “no” was his norm.

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