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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.


 

UP!

From the Academy Award nominated team of director Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson comes “Up,” a comedic adventure taking off (and lifting spirits) on May 29th. Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) spent his entire life with his wife dreaming of exploring the globe and experiencing life to its fullest. But at age 78 and after the loss of his wife, life seems to have passed him by, until a twist of fate and an incredibly lovable and persistent 8-year old Wilderness Explorer named Russell gives him a new lease on life. “Up” takes audiences on a thrilling journey where the unlikely pair encounter wild terrain, unexpected villains and jungle creatures. Without a doubt Carl and Russell’s teaming up reminds us of the Odd Couple. Clearly, Carl is modeled after Walter Matthau with all mannerisms and wit intact, while Russell is the character with the purist of hearts you just can’t stop rooting for at every turn.

Of particular note in this picture is that all of the characters are believable without pushing the envelope too much and forcing themselves on the viewers. Ed Asner and newcomer Jordan Nagal (Russell) hit the nail on the head and pull our heartstrings in every direction imaginable, but every film also needs an antagonist. Christopher Plummer gives a brilliant performance as down and out faded hero who is obsessed with finding one of the worlds most unique creatures alive or sworn never to return back to civilization. I cannot recommend this picture more highly. “Up” is by no means a trite film. This picture is very funny, romantic, serious and sad. Contained within it’s 90 minute running time is a perfectly balanced montage of emotion that is sure to grab a hold of both the young and old and take you on the ride of your life. And why not? We all need a little trip every now and then, don’t we?

Up!
Starring: Ed Asner & Christopher Plummer
Director: Pete Docter
Company: Disney Pixar
Now Showing: In area Theatres
MPAA Rating: PG
Grade: A+


DVD REVIEWS



Sister, Sister is a half-hour comedy series which chronicles the adventures of a reunited set of identical twins, Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell (played by real-life identical twins Tia and Tamera Mowry). The teens live with their adoptive parents, conservative businessman Ray Campbell (Tim Reid) and brassy, outspoken Lisa Landry (Jackee Harry) in the suburbs of Detroit. Together, this unconventional blended family is learning lessons in life, laughter and love.


For as long as humans have gazed at the night sky, they’ve seen things that cannot be explained. UFO HUNTERS examines some of the most intriguing sightings, from as long ago as nineteenth-century Texas to today. Bill Birnes and Pat Uskert, both from UFO Magazine, and Dr. Ted Acworth, who has worked for NASA and MIT, have unparalleled access to UFO evidence and can quickly identify bogus claims. Together they analyze eyewitness accounts, scientific experiments, declassified documents, and new television footage to separate fact from fallacy. Their goal: neither to prove nor disprove the existence of UFOs, but to accurately and methodically evaluate the evidence. This is a fascinating show that will definitely garner your interest in the unknown.


This set has the final episodes of Naruto and team Gai’s mission in the Land Of Birds supposedly to take care of the angry spirit of the previous feudal lord who died, but they soon find out what really happened and what the true agenda of their client really is. After that you’ll have another humorous episode of Naruto trying to help his friends from the Ramen restaurant after the owners daughter is kidnapped by rogue ninja trying to perfect their own ninja art of the perfect ninja food. Than you see the start of Naruto’s mission with a mixed team of Shino, Ino and the ninja Jonin Anko as they try and solve the mystery of attacks on ships near a land that also holds a mysterious past with Anko during her apprenticeship with Orichimaru before his defection from the Leaf Village.


One of the strangest, most intriguing, and yet almost unknown episodes in American history unfolded in 1876, eleven years after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. A band of Chicago counterfeiters hatched a plot to steal the President’s body from its tomb outside Springfield, Illinois, and hold it for a ransom of $200,000. A paid informant told the newly formed Secret Service. When both the police and the criminals showed up at the cemetery on the appointed night, the scheme was foiled. This feature-length special from History explores the peculiar confluence of historical trends and cultural movements that prompted the crime: the birth of counterfeiting, the growth of embalming, and the influence of secret societies in American life, among others. But above all, the story shows how important this beloved President remained to a public so unprepared for his violent death in 1865.


Immerse yourself in more spectacular space exploration with The Universe: Season Three of this epic series from the History Channel. A virtual collision of astronomy and history, each enlightening episode utilizes strikingly realistic computer recreations and animations to provide unprecedented insight into the mysteries of our universe, and beyond. From bizarre clouds to the hypothetical Planet X, from space disasters to space sex and the possibility of terrifying cosmic collisions, experience space in a whole new way - not through a telescope or textbook, but firsthand. With The Universe, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled to the edge of the unknown.


While I’m not necessarily a huge fan of Anime in general, I am a huge fan of this series. The seventh season set gives the Band of Seven storyline a run for its money for storytelling and character evolution (strong points of the entire series), and in terms of writing, pacing, and production values possibly surpasses it. It is clear to me that everyone who put so much loving and painstaking detail into the production of “Inuyasha” went out at the top of their respective games. And judging by the comments of both the Japanese and Canadian voice actors regarding fan response and the enjoyment they got out of working on the series, there’s good reason to expect that the rest of the manga will eventually be rendered in anime. Here’s one fan who’s hoping to see that day when it comes. This is a must own for any fan of this genre.


It s an entirely new way to look at warfare. From ferocious battles waged by USS Enterprise, the most decorated aircraft carrier of World War II, to death-defying dogfights involving hero pilots and lethal planes, this 14-disc set from HISTORY uses cutting-edge CGI to plunge you into the actual missions, reproduced with historical accuracy andstartling realism. Battle 360 tracks the Enterprise and its men as they fight off the enemy from the air, sea and underwater. This is an incredible set that will be of interest to anyone that is into the war genre and it’s historical auspices.


This has always been recognized as one of Charles Dickens’s literary masterworks, but this Bleak House is now fast moving, daring, gripping television. Here is the murder mystery, the love story, the comic genius and the tantalizing scandal of the novel but, stripped of its sentimentality, we find ourselves swept along by a pulsating and edgy drama. Out of an interminable court case spin three young people, each searching for their place in the world. The story moves fast - swirling through a incredible array of characters from passionate young lovers, from an ice-cold aristocratic beauty to a shrewd, relentless detective - until the final thrilling climax. With a screenplay by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice), Bleak House features a galaxy of major stars from feature film, television and comedy.

Based on Dickens classic novel The Old Curiosity Shop tells the tale of Little Nell Trent (Sophie Vavasseur) who lives with her doting grandfather (Jacobi) in his London shop. It is a magical place, filled from wall to wall with dust-laden treasures, known as The Old Curiosity Shop. Grandfather keeps his nocturnal gambling activities a secret, borrowing heavily from evil, profiteering loan shark Daniel Quilp (Jones). When he gambles away what little money they possess, Quilp seizes the opportunity to take possession of their beloved shop. It seems Nell and Grandfather are left with only one option - to escape. The pair fall in with a number of colourful characters, some villainous and some affectionate, on the run from Quilp and his band of misguided money seekers, including Nells own wastrel brother Freddie (Dick) and his gullible friend Dick Swiveller (Breton).

Death Note follows The story of A high school student (Light) who discovers a supernatural notebook, the “Death Note”, dropped on Earth by a Shinigami (death god) named Ryuk. The Death Note grants its user the ability to kill anyone whose face they have seen, by writing the victim’s name in the notebook. Light’s attempt to create and rule a world cleansed of evil using the notebook. Death Note returns with this Second Set containing the final remaining 17 Episodes, D.N. has such great animation and amazing suspenseful music that make the scenes feel truly epic. Packed with twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end. It’s Anime at It’s finest, A must have Even if your not a fan of anime, this series is definitely worth a try.

Joseph Stalin - the supreme leader of the Soviet Union - was a tyrant responsible for the death of millions. Yet he also had some unlikely relationships during the Second World War. Not just with leaders of the great democracies like Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, but also with Hitler and the Nazis. For the first time on television, this ambitious series from award-winning filmmaker Laurence Rees uses exclusive evidence gained from the actual conversations and secret meetings Stalin conducted with Roosevelt, Churchill and Hitler, to dramatically reveal the true natures of the three leaders and how the meetings they had - and the decisions they made - shaped the world today.


If you’re a redneck, then you’ll love Jeff Foxworthy in his first TV show! The second season is even funnier and features new cast members. Jeff Foxworthy stars as a Southern boy who moves his family back to his hometown in Georgia. His new job has him working at the loading docks with some macho, no-nonsense boys from the South, providing perfect fodder for Foxworthy’s insightful musings. Hilarity to the hilt! Check it out!

In the early days of the 20th Century, an expedition led by Dr. Samuel Jordon traveled deep into the Grand Canyon in search of a long-rumored hidden city. The entire team disappeared. But when Jordon’s archaeologist daughter Susan (Shannen Doherty) leads a rescue party into the uncharted valley, she will discover an ancient civilization ruled by savage warriors, human sacrifice and a mythological monster that feeds on carnage. Even if the explorers can survive the deadly trials of the Aztecs, will they find a way to escape the ultimate ritual of evil?


An offbeat personality, a tough-as-nails approach and a track record as one of the country’s leading investigators: These are just a few of the traits exhibited by Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson. For the Atlanta transplant heading up the Priority Homicide Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, her position on this elite detective squad, which handles high-profile cases of a sensitive nature, is a tenuous balancing act. She faces antagonistic roadblocks, even from her own peers within the department, and must manage a team that remains wary of her unconventional style.


Dan Brown’s international bestseller comes alive in the film The Da Vinci Code, directed by Ron Howard with a screenplay by Akiva Goldsman. Join symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) in their heart-racing quest to solve a bizarre murder mystery that will take them from France to England – and behind the veil of a mysterious ancient society, where they discover a secret protected since the time of Christ. With first-rate performances by Sir Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina and Jean Reno, critics are calling The Da Vinci Code involving and intriguing, and a first rate thriller. Beautifully mastered on this Blu-ray release, this film will make an excellent edition to your personal library.

From the creators of The King and I, The Fox and the Hound, and the Swan Princess comes the first animated feature length film about Islam’s Prophet. This groundbreaking film is set around 1400 years ago during the early ages of Islam. The film relates the events that unfolded and led to the rise of a renewed religion in the Arabian Desert, eventually spanning 7 continents and counting 1.6 billion adherents around the world. This movie aims to introduce the story of Islam and its Prophet to new generations in the appealing and accessible medium of animation. Though the Prophet is not personified, sound and cinematography are employed in the telling of his story. The film is capped off with a stunning soundtrack by Emmy-award winning composer William Kidd. Perfect for the family and for encouraging interfaith dialogue, this film is a definite must-see!


In this acclaimed adaptation of the first novel by legendary Southern writer Flannery O’Connor, John Huston brings to life a world of vivid, poetic American eccentricity. Brad Dourif, in an impassioned performance, is Hazel Motes, who, fresh out of the army, attempts to open the first Church Without Christ in the small town of Taulkinham. Populated with inspired performances that seem to spring right from O’Connor’s pages, Huston’s Wise Blood is an incisive portrait of spirituality and evangelicalism, as well as a faithful, loving evocation of one writer’s vision. This DVD will make an excellent addition to any film fan’s library!


Have you ever dreamed of being more than your circumstances? Sidhu (Askay Kumar) longs to escape his dreary existence cutting vegetables at a road-side food stand in Chandni Chowk, one of the oldest and busiest markets in Delhi, India. When two strangers from China proclaim he is the reincarnation of a Chinese war hero, Sidhu envisions fame, fortune and adventure. Journeying with them back to China, Sidhu meets the alluring Sakhi (Deepika Padukone) and love blossoms. But can it survive the vicious smuggler, Hojo (Gordon Liu) and his cadre of kung-fu assassins? Megalomaniacal villains, crazy inventors, Chinese mystics and outlandish kung-fu assassins all get thrown together in this joyful, uplifting adventure full of beautiful landscapes, attention-grabbing songs, and high energy dancing. Featuring top Bollywood actors Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone and produced by acclaimed father and son duo, Ramesh and Rohan Sippy, Chandni Chowk to China promises to excite.


Meet George Jetson and his quirky family: wife Jane, son Elroy and daughter Judy. Living in the automated, push-button world of the future hasn’t made life any easier for the harried husband and father, who gets into one comical misadventure after another! The Jetson’s rock and your kids are sure to love this series!


Brighter and more colorful than the other animated insect movie of 1998 (Antz), A Bug’s Life is the sweetly told story of Flik (voiced by David Foley), an ant searching for better ways to be a bug. His colony unfortunately revolves around feeding and fearing the local grasshoppers (lead by Hopper, voiced with gleeful menace by Kevin Spacey). When Flik accidentally destroys the seasonal food supply for the grasshoppers he decides to look for help (“We need bigger bugs!”). The ants, led by Princess Atta (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), are eager to dispose of the troublesome Flik. Yet he finds help--a hearty bunch of bug warriors--and brings them back to the colony. Unfortunately they are just traveling performers afraid of conflict.


The most beautiful girls in the world. Some are for loving and some are for killing! A reedy man wearing saddle shoes and an ill-fitting suit drags the nude body of a young woman her throat slit-- along an otherwise empty beach. Soon a number of other beautiful women turn up dead, their throats also cut open. Nurses, students, stewardesses... what s the common thread? All were centerfold models for a popular men s magazine, prey to a bloodthirsty psychotic with a straight razor!


The amazing journey comes to an exciting end in the final 22 episodes of McLeod’s Daughters. Over the past seven seasons audiences have fallen in love with the girls of Drovers Run. But before they ride off into the sunset, there’s still plenty of drama to go around. Hearts will be broken, love will be found and lives will be put in danger as the hit series comes to an unforgettable conclusion you won’t want to miss.


Bertie Wooster (Laurie) is in need of a valet, and after a wild night out, the low-key, brainy manservant Jeeves (Fry) is sent by an agency to deal with Bertie’s everyday needs. But Jeeves doesn’t just fold Bertie’s hankies and give him hangover tonics -- he keeps Bertie out of all kinds of trouble. Predatory young beauties, ditzy idiot pals of Bertie’s, and domineering aunts trying to marry him off, Bertie is always in hot water -- and Jeeves always is on hand, with a plot cooking in his impressive brain, to haul his hapless employer out.


Super hurricanes with winds close to 700 mph. A cataclysmic fight-to-the-finish between Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons. Cavemen fearlessly facing off against woolly mammoths. The prehistoric world comes alive as only History can recreate it in this 8-disc set filled with astonishing computer graphics and compelling scientific data tha places you on an Earth you never before imagined. See the forces, the creatures, the battles and the disasters that shaped these tumultuous times. Aided by cinematic recreations, state-of-the-art CGI and cutting-edge archaeological and anthropological research, discover a predatory world far more calculated - and complex - than once thought. Whether it’s a destructive tsunami, massive four-legged beasts, an epic brains vs. brawn battle of the cavemen, or a danger-filled hunt for food, join the struggle for survival in a long-lost time that paved the way for our world today.

All Ben Wilson (Joshua Dallas) wants is to be a better man. So when he hooks up with Joe Miller (Stacy Keach), a cantankerous old boxing trainer, he finally gets his chance. Preparing for a title-qualifying bout against The Butcher -- the sadistic bully who once nearly crippled him -- Ben hopes to win fame, fortune and the girl he loves. For in today’s world, there’s only one way to get what you really want: you’ve got to fight for it!


Head for the hills as the fur starts flying in these seven big Bigfoot classics, including the awesomely grotesque Shriek of the Mutilated; sci-fi’s first film Yeti, 1954’s The Snow Creature; and 1997’s Search for the Beast, starring Rick Montana, David F. Friedman and Kimberly Cole. Then it’s the monster bigger than Godzilla and badder than Gamera in Majin, Monster of Terror and Rerturn of the Giant Manjin, two high-quality epics about a giant stone idol that comes to life to defeat evil warlords who terrorize innocent villagers. Combining samurai swordplay with fantastic special effects, this double-feature is a must-see for fans of ’60s Japanese cinema. Detailing the ravages of an alien invasion of Earth (with varying degrees of success), these films are the crème de la crème of sci-fi insanity!


Dr. Andrew “Andy” Brown (Treat Williams) led a comfortable existence in New York City with his family and a lucrative practice as a world-renowned neurosurgeon - until fate took his loving spouse from him and changed his life forever. After his wife’s death, Dr. Brown moved his young daughter and wayward teenage son to a small, out-of-the-way burg nestled deep in the Colorado mountains. It’s where old-fashioned healing counts more than surgical statistics...where folks are just as quirky as they please...where a grieving heart can breathe free and mend itself. And it’s the place where Dr. Brown can become the kind of doctor - and father - his wife would have wanted him to be. It all happens in a town called Everwood.


What could be a skillful but ordinary action flick gets a surprising emotional heft from the presence of Liam Neeson as the hero. Bryan Mills (Neeson) has given up his career as a spy to form a relationship with his estranged teenage daughter--but when, on a trip to Paris, she’s kidnapped by slavers, Mills uses all his connections and skills to turn the city of lights upside down and rescue her. Like most of the movies that writer/producer Luc Besson has a hand in, Taken drips with lurid violence, deranged sentimentality, and stereotypes of all kinds.

Poor Jerry Lundegaard. He’s deep in debt. His wealthy father-in-law has no respect for him. He cheats customers at the car dealership where he works. And now he’s hired a bumbling duo to kidnap his wife--a plan that goes horribly awry, leading to homicide. Enter Marge Gunderson, one of the most fabulous movie cops in film history. The very-pregnant Marge--played marvelously by Frances McDormand in an Oscar-winning and career-defining performance--just goes about her everyday business, eating (in nearly every scene), talking to the people in the community, and examining bloody corpses as if no day is different from the next. A multiple murder in the small town of Brainerd, Minnesota--home of Paul Bunyan, as the sign claims--seems to have little effect on her. Yet she has an innate cop sense--she is very, very good at her job and determined to solve the case in her offhanded manner.


Blondie (Clint Eastwood) and Tuco (Eli Wallach) are gunmen who admire each other professionally but dislike each other personally. Encountering a group of dying soldiers, Tuco learns the location of the graveyard where a Confederate treasure is buried, while Blondie learns the identity of the exact grave. Joined by mercenary drifter Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), they cross the desert, each of the desperadoes knowing half the secret and each focusing his squinty eyes on the $200,000 bounty.

Reginald Perrin (Rossiter) has a respectable career at Sunshine Desserts, a happy marriage and two less than satisfactory children. But the pressures of the rat race are beginning to push Reggie over the edge. The mere mention of his mother-in-law conjures the image of a hippopotamus, the word ‘earwig’ keeps creeping into his conversations, and his thoughts are repeatedly interrupted by outrageous fantasies involving his secretary – what’s an overstressed food firm executive to do? Adapted by David Nobbs from his darkly-comedic novel, and powered by the unique performance of Leonard Rossiter, this brilliant satire had the world “cracking up” over one man’s nervous breakdown.


Amelia Shankley shines as Sara Crewe in this faithful adaptation of the beloved children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Produced for London Weekend Television, this mini-series fully captures the spirit of the original novel and brings all of its extraordinary characters to life. Sara Crewe has always been the pampered darling of her doting father, a British Indian Army captain, and the exclusive boarding school she attends. But when her father dies and her fortune is lost, Sara becomes the victim of hardship and cruelty. Through friendship, imagination and her own resolute nature, the “little princess” finds her way back to happiness. Often compared to a euro version of Little House, this program is captivating in it’s presentation and development. Check it out today!


Premiering in the 1960s, Gigantor blazed a new trail in America for Japanese animation. The influential series was one of the first featuring a giant, heroic robot and was designed with a cinematic sensibility that thrilled and captivated audiences. The premise suggests that when terrorist groups, evil criminals and hostile aliens become too powerful for Earth’s armed forces, the virtually-indestructible robot is built to combat them. Commanded by Jimmy Sparks through a remote control, Gigantor must battle to save the world from a never-ending assault by ruthless villains. Gigantor is a cartoon figure that will not soon be forgotten by the kids. Pick up your copy today!

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:
June 26, 2009