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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.


 

AWAY WE GO

Longtime couple Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are going to have a baby. The pregnancy progresses smoothly but six months in, the pair is put off and put out by the cavalierly delivered news from Burt’s parents Jerry and Gloria (Jeff Daniels and Catherine O’Hara) that the eccentric elder Farlanders are moving out of Colorado – thereby eliminating the expectant couple’s main reason for living there.

So, where, and among whom of those closest to them, might Burt and Verona best put down roots to raise their impending bundle of joy? The couple embarks on an ambitious itinerary to visit friends and family, and to evaluate cities. The first stop on the grand tour is Phoenix, where the duo spends a day at the (dog) races with Verona’s irrepressible (and frequently inappropriate) former colleague Lily (Allison Janney) and her repressible family, including husband Lowell (Jim Gaffigan); then it’s Tucson, and a visit to the lovely Grace (Carmen Ejogo), Verona’s sister.

An intimate conversation with her sister, who is her lone living relative, gives Verona a refreshed perspective – which she will sorely need in Wisconsin, where Burt’s childhood cousin Ellen, now known as LN (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and her partner Roderick (Josh Hamilton) have Burt and Verona over to their home. After LN and Roderick elaborate on their intractable ideas for raising children and running a household, Burt and Verona bolt for Montreal and a warmer welcome from their former college classmates Tom (Chris Messina) and Munch (Melanie Lynskey).

Away We Go captured my attention, but not without some concerns. The film was a bit chatty for me and I found certain segments to drag a bit. The acting was tremendously well done - almost as though the script was written specifically for the talents of Krasinski and Rudolph. Their chemistry saved the film from average drearydom.

Away We Go
Starring: John Krasinski & Maya Rudolph
Director: Sam Mendes
Company: Focus
Now Showing: In area Theatres
MPAA Rating: R
Grade: B-


DVD PICKS

STRIKE - Anchor Bay

Out of favor with destiny and living moribund lives in Los Angeles, Ross (Ross Patterson), his girlfriend, Lindsay (Tara Reid), and his roommate, Mike (Clayne Crawford), decide to hit the road to make their fortune the old-fashioned way: through bowling. As their stars rise, so do the pressures of fame in this bawdy sports comedy. A popcorn flick at itís finest - and just in time for the Summer, too!

FANBOYS - Genius

Star Wars zealots, rejoice, for thy movie is at hand: an odyssey across America with a van full of hardcore science-fiction-loving geeks that drop Star Wars quotes at the drop of a vintage collectorís item Darth Vader helmet. Their mission: to infiltrate Skywalker ranch, or die trying, and heist a pre-release print of The Phantom Menace. With stops along the way for bad internet dates and general misbehavior (as well as some drama concerning one of the fanboys dying of cancer), their mission becomes a whole Star Wars style adventure in itself, their van doubling for the Millennium Falcon plunging through the outer space of the Midwest. Thereís sci-fi-convention-collectible eye candy, surreal car chases, and moments from the Star Wars films recreated with loving detail. Dan Fogler supplies the hairy guy momentum and Kristen Bell is surprisingly funny as the requisite way-out-of-their-league hot chick, who just happens to love Star Wars too.

TABLE FOR THREE - Anchor Bay

Scott (Brandon Routh) is on the rebound and looking for a roommate in this wacky romantic comedy. When he meets Ryan (Jesse Bradford) and Mary (Sophia Bush), he finds a seemingly perfect couple to share his apartment and mend his wounded ego. Unfortunately for him, the well-meaning couple turns out to want to control his life just as he meets the girl of his dreams. A loving story that should not be missed. Table for Three will become available for rent and/or purchase on June 23rd.

THE FOX AND THE CHILD - Warner

What would it be like to have a fox for a friend? A 10-year-old girl who wants to know sets out to befriend a beautiful wild fox she names Lily. Bit by bit, in woods and fields blanketed by snow and carpeted by wildflowers, the girl and Lily build an extraordinary friendship as the fox leads her human companion on adventures bold, funny and even sometimes scary. Filmmaker Luc Jacquet follows his Academy Award-winning March of the Penguins with another enduring tale of nature. A life-affirming story, astonishing vistas and warm narration by Kate Winslet make The Fox and the Child a share-and-share-again family event.

SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS: 1960ís - Warner

Ah, how this set makes me miss my childhood! Itís Saturday morning and itís TV time! The smooth-talking Top Cat opens this 33-cartoon, 1960ís compilation with the classic episode in which Top Cat becomes the beneficiary of a one million dollar donation, but unknowingly tears up the check. Fred Flintstone goes through the roof when Wilma takes a job outside the home in The Flintstones: The Happy Household. The Porky Pig Show showcases episodes ďOften an OrphanĒ with Charlie the dog, ďMice Follies,Ē and private eye Daffy Duck in ďSuper Snooper.Ē The clueless hero Quick Draw McGraw, his alter-ego El Kabong, and his Mexican burro sidekick Baba Looey save the West from an assortment of villains despite a multitude of gunshots to the face and there are also episodes featuring their friends Snooper and Blabber, and Augie Doggie. The futuristic Jetsons acquire a new robot maid named Rosey, Marine Boy saves the world, and much, much more! This is a tremendous set and Warner has hit another home run with this must own package!

SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS: 1970ís - Warner

Saturday mornings in the 1970ís found most kids eagerly traveling around the world and solving mysteries from the comfort of their very

own couches. In stark contrast to the often violent and sometimes morally questionable cartoons of the 1960ís, the 1970ís brought significant network restrictions regarding violence and appropriate cartoon character behavior. Hanna-Barberaís response to the restrictions was the development of a new formula for cartoons, one which often featured a group of kids who belonged to a rock band and traveled around the world playing gigs and solving mysteries. Scooby-Doo, Josie and the Pussycats, Goober and the Ghost Chasers, and Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan are all successful examples of this basic cartoon formula. While an overwhelming sense of sameness makes one marathon viewing undesirable, viewing a handful of episodes is bound to bring back fond memories of a time when Saturdays were simpler.

LAND OF THE LOST: Complete Series - Universal

Just in time for the new feature film release! Marshall, Will and Holly on a routine expedition met the greatest earthquake ever known. High on the rapids it struck their raft and plunged them down a thousand feet below to the Land Of The Lost. Take a journey back in time with the Marshall family through this incredible world of breathtaking wonder, pulse-pounding danger and mind-boggling special effects. Only in the Land Of The Lost will you battle dinosaurs one day and encounter beings from other dimensions the next. The Pylons, the Pakuni, evil energy storms...they are all part of the awesome adventures created by legendary Sid and Marty Krofft. Relive all your favorite Saturday morning thrills as you rediscover all 43 action-packed original episodes in the Land Of The Lost Complete Series.

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD: Blu-ray - Paramount

Frank and April Wheeler (DiCaprio and Winslet) always thought of themselves as special, but they settled in a conventional Connecticut suburb when they had children. Hungry for a less constricted life, April persuades Frank to move to Paris--but slowly their plans unravel and their marriage unravels along with it. While Revolutionary Road may be a bit too glib about suburban emptiness--the lives Frank and April lead donít seem so stifled--the portrait of a mismatched marriage is vivid and devastating. The ways that Frank and April misinterpret each other, and the subtle yet unbearable dissatisfaction they feel, is rendered with remarkable and unsettling acuteness. Winslet and DiCaprioís natural chemistry tells us what drew these two together, making the way they tear each other apart all the more shocking.

THE DEVILíS TOMB - Sony

Cuba Gooding Jr. battles for mankindís survival in this action-packed, apocalyptic horror thriller. When the scientist (Ron Perlman) leading a top-secret Middle Eastern archaeological site goes missing, an elite military unit is sent on a search and rescue mission. Descending deep below civilization, Captain Mack (Gooding Jr.) and his team soon find themselves face-to-face with an ancient evil. An evil that may not be of this world. This dvd will keep you interested to the end. Check it out!

BOSTON LEGAL: Season Five - Fox

Boston Legal is a wry courtroom television show that walks the line between drama and comedy, is the creation of perennial hit-maker David E. Kelly. The series revolves around the Boston litigation law firm of Crane, Poole, & Schmidt, and in particular, two eccentric and flawed attorneys, Alan Shore and Denny Crane. Shore, an unscrupulous and wily ambulance-chaser and womanizer (James Spader), finds an uneasy alliance with Crane, a bombastic, self-aggrandizing, and occasionally batty elder lawyer (William Shatner). Despite their ethical and emotional deficiencies, Shore and Crane usually find themselves fighting on the right side, as they take up cases that no one else is willing to touch. Candice Bergen also stars as Shirley Schmidt, a lawyer who joined the firm despite having some past history with both Crane and Shore. Comely partner Denise Bauer-Chase (Julie Bowen) returns from maternity leave for this exceptional fifth and final season of the show.

EDEN LOG - Magnet

In this French scary film, a man (Clovis Cornillac) wakes up to find himself at the bottom of a cavern. But this is no ordinary cave; it appears to be the abandoned labs of a company called Eden Log. However, the underground labyrinth isnít entirely empty. A creature prowls the halls, and the man must do all he can to escape its clutches. A gripping film from beginning to end, Eden Log is sure to capture your imagination and keep you on the edge of your seat!

YONKERS JOE - Magnolia

Yonkers Joe is an exciting, high-stakes con film and moving family drama written and directed by Robert Celestino, and starring Chazz Palminteri and Christine Lahti. An ode to old time gamblers, now outdated in an age of powerful upscale casinos, Yonkers Joe tells the story of a dice hustler (Palminteri) whose determination to make one last grab for a big score in Vegas is complicated by the reappearance of his estranged, mentally challenged son into his life. This dvd brings back memories of yesteryear in Vegas.

TWO AND A HALF MEN: Season Five - Warner

Charlie Sheen takes a starring role in Two and a Half Men, a genial CBS comedy about a dysfunctional family. Sheen plays Charlie Harper, who enjoys the bachelor life in his Malibu beach house. His existence consists of an endless stream of partying and dating until his brother, Alan (Jon Cryer), moves in with him. Alanís life has fallen apart after a separation from his wife, but he still has custody of his young son, Jake (Angus T. Jones), who also moves into Charlieís home. Supporting characters include Alanís crazy ex-wife, Charlie and Alanís overbearing mother, and their sharp-tongued housekeeper, Berta. The makeshift family formed by Charlie, Alan, and Jake provides plenty of laughs and a few poignant moments. In this complete fifth season of episodes, Charlie finds an unlikely career as a crooner of childrenís songs, and Alan continues his obstacle-laden search for love.

MURDOCH MYSTERIES: Season One - Acorn Media

Inspired by a series of television movies based on the mystery novels of Maureen Jennings, the enjoyable Murdoch Mysteries: Series One follows the investigations of Toronto police detective William Murdoch at the close of the 19th century. A man of scientific progress as well as devout Catholicism, Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) approaches mysteries with such new, state-of-the-art techniques as fingerprinting, blood-testing, and trace evidence, collaborating closely with his departmentís pathologist, Dr. Julia Ogden (H»lňne Joy). Working under the skeptical Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig), an old-school copper who respects his lead investigatorís results but has little patience for his complex methods, Murdoch often encounters new-fangled technology that, in time, will pave the way for such 20th-century staples as radio, television and the electronic grid. This is a show that perhaps you havenít heard much of, but it is truly outstanding. Check this out right away!

DEFIANCE: Blu-ray - Paramount

On the run from the Germans and the local police, the three Russian Bielski brothers, Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber), and Asael (Jamie Bell), hide out deep in the forest. Their numbers swell as more and more refugees join them, coming together to form a community while also patrolling with guns and shooting the enemy to stay alive. But Tuvia and Zus have a falling-out over what future direction to take: Tuvia thinks it best to remain in the forest despite the coming vicious winter, but Zus wants to join the Russian resistance, which is aggressively attacking the Nazis. Complicating the situation are the women in their lives, known as forest wives--Lilka (Alexa Davalos) shows interest in Tuvia, Bella (Iben Hjelje) grows close to Zus, and young Chaya (Mia Wasikowska) and Asael flirt with the tingles of first love. As food grows scarce, diseases increase, and the Nazis become determined to find and kill them, the Bielski Otriad struggles to survive, battling back when necessary, including taking up arms.

INTELLIGENCE: Season Two - Acorn Media

Winner of the Gemini for best drama and many other awards, this pulse-pounding series explores espionage in the international drug trade and beyond. The story centers around Jimmy Reardon (Ian Tracey), a Vancouver drug lord trying to go legit, and Mary Spalding (Klea Scott), the head of the Canadian intelligence service for the Pacific region. Although they work on opposite sides of the law, Reardon and Spalding form an uneasy undercover alliance to protect their turf from rivals inside and outside their organizations. All loyalties are negotiable in this high-stakes game, and the players use money, sex, drugs, and murder to secure the most powerful commodity of all--information. Combining the crime family drama of The Sopranos with the sophisticated intrigue of The Wire, this critically acclaimed series spins a dark, daringly complex narrative web that ranks it among televisionís best.

RAMSEYíS KITCHEN NIGHTMARES: Season One - Acorn Media

Ramsayís Kitchen Nightmares shares the same sense of tension as cooking contest shows, Iron Chef or Top Chef, but somehow this series beats them all, if youíre looking for something more than a straight view of the chopping block. Whereas the aforementioned programs portray a chefís extreme duress from the chefís point of view, Gordon Ramsay offers the best of both worlds by offering an outsiderís business perspective while tying his apron on a few minutes per episode to teach his audience how to cook. The premise of the show is simple: a master chef studded with Michelin stars visits struggling restaurants to business consult and jump start their menus. Scenes alternate between his meetings with the restaurant owners, Ramsay teaching the kitchen members how to cook decent food, and Ramsay in his hotel, venting about his clientsí low competency levels. Started in Britain in 2004 and picked up by Fox television in 2007, this first season of Ramsayís Kitchen Nightmares takes place in small town England and Wales.

THE INVISIBLES: Series One - Acorn Media

Former crooks and fast friends Maurice Riley (Anthony Head) and Syd Woolsey (Warren Clarke) are back in dear old Britain after 15 years of living off their ill gotten gains in Spainís Costa del Crime. Now theyíre ready to start a quiet new life in a quiet new seaside town. And Mauriceís wife, Barbara (Jenny Agutter), is determined to make sure thatís exactly what happens. But the local pub manager (Dean Lennox Kelly) proves more persuasive than Barbara, and The Invisibles are soon back in business. After years of retirement and, well, just years, do Maurice and Syd still have what it takes for a life of crime? Find out as a much-loved cast delivers six action-packed episodes filled with heists and hijinks. As the criminal competes with the comical, The Invisibles hurtles between drama and laughter, with entertainment the winner every time.

VALKYRIE: Blu-ray - MGM

It is 1943, and though he has come to be disgusted by Hitlerís campaign of evil, Count Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) has risen to the level of lieutenant colonel in the German army. Convinced that Hitler must die, Von Stauffenberg requests a transfer to Tunisia, where he loses his left eye and right hand during an Allied air raid. Falling in with a group of similarly disillusioned officers including Major General Henning von Tresckow (Kenneth Branagh), General Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy), General Friedrich Fromm (Tom Wilkinson), and Colonel General Ludwig Beck (Terence Stamp), Stauffenberg is at the center of several attempts on Der Fuhrerís life, culminating in a bombing that kills a handful of his officers and leaves Hitler only slightly injured.

POWDER BLUE: Blu-ray - Image

On the gritty streets of LA, the destinies of four people desperate for connection and redemption are about to collide. Jessica Biel, Ray Liotta, Forest Whitaker and Eddie Redmayne lead a top-notch cast in this powerful thriller about an overwhelmed erotic dancer, a grieving husband who has lost his will to live, a terminally ill ex-con and a pathologically shy mortician. With Kris Kristofferson, Lisa Kudrow and Patrick Swayze in unforgettable supporting roles, this film movingly chronicles the imperfect lives of people teetering on the edge of despair and the miracles that bring them back. This film is direct to DVD, as for some reason, it bypassed the theaters completely. A solid story and performances that are very solid, this is a film that you should definitely check out.

THE INTERNATIONAL: Blu-ray - Sony

Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and his partner, New York Assistant D.A. Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts), are consistently stonewalled by local law enforcement in their attempt to close in on the bankís insiders. The conflict deepens two-fold as Salinger discovers not only how wide the bankís nefarious influence spreads, but how loosely he will act within legal boundaries to get his man. Owen elevates the at-times standard espionage plot devices with his now trademark, but always gripping me-against-the-worldisms: his hard-edged focus and steely moral clarity. A fantastic film that will keep you interested through to the end.

THE SKYCRAWLERS: Blu-ray - Sony

From Mamoru Oshii, the world-acclaimed director of Ghost in the Shell comes an award-winning story of an exciting but endless war with heroes too young to understand the meaning of their battles. A group of eternally young fighter pilots known as Kildren experience the sudden loss of innocence as they battle the enemy in astonishing dogfights above the clouds. With his only childhood memory consisting of intense flight training, the fearless teenage pilot Yuichiís dogfights coexist with his struggle to find his missing past. When his beautiful, young female commander Suito is reluctant to discuss the fate of the pilot that Yuichi is replacing - or the strangely perfect condition of that pilotís former aircraft - Yuichiís curiosity becomes heightened.

THE HUNGER: Season One - E1 Entertainment

Presented by legendary directors Tony and Ridley Scott, Terence Stamp hosts the complete first season of this incredibly groundbreaking horror anthology series. This program features a wonderful cast of familiar faces as you have never seen them before. Brian Lumley and Robert Block are just two of the many industry leading writers to work on this show. Every every episode will draw you into a mesmerizing world of horrific characters and erotic encounters in which demons feed on the weaknesses of men. This program is must see and own for any fan of the vampire and underworld genre. This is a cult phenomenon in the making. Do not miss this show!

THE BIELSKI BROTHERS - History Channel

Three of World War IIís unsung heroes - the Russian brothers Asael, Tuvia, and Zus Bielski - get their due in this amazing History Channel special. As the Nazis closed in on their home town, the Bielski brothers took to the woods, where they quickly created a haven for escaped and rescued Jews. The hidden forest refuge offered amazing amenities, including a theater company, a synagogue, and a bath house, all created by the Bielskiís to provide comfort and joy to their fellow fugitives. Bielski Brothers features interviews with Holocaust survivors who knew the men, and recreates their courageous endeavor to salvage their community. This is a wonderful story that should have been told long ago. A part of World War II that everyone should be amiliar with.

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