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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.


 

PUBLIC ENEMIES

Public Enemies is the story of legendary Depression era outlaw John Dillinger (Johnny Depp). Dillinger was the charismatic bank robber whose lightning raids made him the number one target of J. Edgar Hoover’s fledgling FBI and its top agent, Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), and a folk hero to much of the public. No one could stop Dillinger and his gang. No jail could hold him. His charm and audacious jailbreaks endeared him to almost everyone -- from his girlfriend Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) to an American public who had no sympathy for the banks that had plunged the country into the Depression.

But while the adventures of Dillinger’s gang, which later including the sociopathic Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi), thrilled many, Hoover (Billy Crudup) hit on the idea of exploiting the outlaw’s capture as a way to elevate his Bureau of Investigation into the national police force that became the FBI. He made Dillinger America’s first Public Enemy Number One and sent in Purvis, the dashing “Clark Gable of the FBI.” However, Dillinger and his gang outwitted and outgunned Purvis’ men in wild chases and shootouts. Only after importing a crew of lawmen from the Dallas bureau and orchestrating epic betrayals, from the infamous “Lady in Red” to the Chicago crime boss Frank Nitti, were Purvis, the FBI and their new crew of gunfighters able to close in on Dillinger.

There are a number of things wrong with this film, not the least of which is the cameraman that nobody seemed to care for. You know, the dude holding the camera that kept experiencing the grand Moll seizures. Yep, that’s the one! With all of the technology spent developing movie cameras with image stabilizers, why on earth would you want to subject your audience to this? Two, yes, two people literally lost their dinner during the press screening and had to be escorted out of the theatre. This picture conjures images of the Blair Witch Project all over again.

And what is the director’s problem with so many close ups? I don’t mean your run of the mill let’s see somebody’s face, close up. I mean the close ups that are so close, you see every blemish and blackhead in the actors face, type close ups. Enough! This makes me think that Michael Mann, the director, has lost his ever loving mind.

Aside from these two obvious shortcomings, Public Enemies has a great deal more wrong with it than injecting queasiness into the audience. This picture follows the typical cops and robbers aspect, but without the absolutely necessary character background and development. The viewer learns absolutely nothing about John Dillinger as a man, let alone Christian Bales performance as Melvin Purvis. Unfortunately Bales performance is absolutely waisted, which is a shame when you have an actor of his calibre performing in your film. This picture contains about as much depth as a piece of paper. Fortunately, you can use that paper to assist in cleaning up the mess you are sure to leave once you witness this camera work.

Public Enemies

Starring: Johnny Depp & Christian Bale

Director: Michael Mann

Company: Universal

Now Showing: In area theatres

MPAA Rating: R

Grade: D+

DVD Reviews

GRUMPY OLD MEN: Blu-ray - Warner

The long-running battle between neighbors John and Max escalates when zesty widow Ariel moves into their wintery Minnesota community. While the grouchy old rivals verbally spar over the new arrival, Max’s son Jacob pines for Melanie, John’s daughter. The pair’s pranks and insults hide a growing friendship for one another, even as Ariel teaches the quarrelling duo how to escape their snowbound existence and embrace change. The brilliant clarity of the picture and sound is taken to new heights on Blu-ray which will double the enjoyment of the film!

PRINCESS PROTECTION PROGRAM - Disney

The worlds of royalty and roughing-it collide when the lovely Rosalinda, Lovato enters the Princess Protection Program and moves in with her new cousin Carter, Gomez, a total tomboy. In an unexpected role reversal, Rosie learns how to act like an everyday girl and Carter finds her own inner princess. Once they discover what they have in common, they prove that best friends really are forever. Bonus Features include an exclusive music video, Royal and Loyal BFFs Selena and Demi reveal their secrets, A Royal Reality, and real life princesses share their realities.

BLEACH: Volume 17 - VIZ Media

A powerful new enemy has appeared in Karakura Town. Known as Bounts, these creatures suck the souls from humans. Rukia, Yoruichi and Soi Fon are sent from the Soul Society to investigate, and Urahara enlists the help of three mod souls to assist Ichigo and friends in preventing the deadly attacks. This is another powerful addition to the Bleach dynasty. If you are a fan of great anime, this program is for you!

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS: Blu-ray - Sony

Based on William Hayes’s autobiography, Midnight Express tells the harrowing story of a young American tourist arrested and sentenced to 30 years in prison by Turkish authorities for trying to smuggle two kilos of hashish out of the country. Billy (Brad Davis), suffering through the harsh realities of the Turkish penal system, sees a glimmer of hope when his father (Billy Kellin) arrives from the States with the intention of securing his son’s release. But when that effort fails and the prison’s savage environment becomes too much to bear, Billy opts for the only possible solution: breaking out of jail and riding the “midnight express”--prison slang for escape--to freedom. We are proud to announce we are doing a free giveaway on this title! If you are interested in entering for a free copy, please email me!

DEATH NOTE RELIGHT: Visions of God - Viz Media

Light and L have battled to the bitter end over the Death Note, but what does the story look like from Ryuk’s point of view? When rogue shinigami Ryuk deliberately drops his Death Note in the human world out of boredom, he has no idea how far the human who picks it up will take his new found power. With the Death Note in hand, brilliant high school student Light Yagami vows to rid the world of evil, and when criminals begin dropping dead one by one, genius detective L steps in to track down the elusive killer known as Kira. An epic battle of wits pitting one brilliant mind against another unfolds—with the very future of humanity at stake! Ryuk’s not bored anymore... Go back to where it all began and watch the epic battle from a new perspective—through the eyes of the one who started it all!

ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES - Universal

Prepare to be dazzled as all the wonder, excitement, triumph, and treachery of the Arabian Nights come vibrantly to life in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves! Orphaned as a young child and adopted by a band of notorious thieves, now-grown Ali Baba (Jon Hall) sets out to avenge his father’s murder, reclaim the royal throne, and rescue his beloved Amara (Maria Montez) from the iron fist of his treacherous enemy. Lushly shot in glorious TechnicolorÆ and featuring a cast of thousands, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is a cinematic feast for the senses to be enjoyed time and again.

DOCTOR WHO: Attack of the Cybermen - BBC

The Tardis lands on Earth in 1985 after an urgent call. The doctor (Colin Baker, the sixth doctor) finds himself having to transport a group of Cybermen back to their own planet. During this trek, he discovers that the Cybermen are preparing to crash Halley’s Comet into Earth to obliterate the planet. This memorable Doctor Who episode features a shape shifting Tardis, which turns into a pipe organ, among other objects.

DOCTOR WHO: The Rescue & The Romans - BBC

The Tardis lands on the planet Dido in the twenty-fifth century. This planet is somewhere where the Doctor (William Hartnell) has previously visited, but things have changed. The native species are extinct, and inside a crashed spacecraft are two survivors: a crippled man, Bennett (Ray Barrett) and a teenage girl, Vicki. Hoping for rescue, they are terrified of the mysterious monster Koquillion (Sydney Wilson). The Rescue is a pleasant diversion, no more and no less. Its two episodes were, for budget and logistic reasons, treated as one production block with the four of the next story, The Romans, sharing the same director and designer. The Rescue ended with a literal cliffhanger, as the Tardis materialized on the edge of one before falling off it. But this is a rare Who cliffhanger which is resolved offscreen, as the next scene takes place a month later. In between whiles, the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki have been enjoying some well-earned R&R in a Roman villa. When the Doctor and Vicki visit the City, Ian and Barbara are abducted by slave traders. This is one of the better William Harnell features in the Doctor Who genre.

SAVING GRACE: Season Two - Fox

For a functioning alcoholic, detective Grace Hanadarko (Holly Hunter) is an unusually effective asset to the Oklahoma City police department. Spending her time off the job sleeping around with married men, flashing her elderly neighbor, and binge-drinking herself into oblivion, the brilliant and loving Grace has a completely different passion and set of ethics when it’s time for work, investigating major crimes with the kind of gusto usually reserved for someone who remembers what she did last night. Ever since the night she accidently and drunkenly killed a pedestrian with her car, cried out for God’s help, and was confronted with the scruffy, divinely winged Earl (Leon Rippy), the tenuously stable Grace has been regularly visited by her guardian angel, and she’s not the only one.

THE MAFIA - History

Dive deep into the dark heart of the mob with this definitive 4-disc set from the History Channel. A sweeping saga of bloodshed, betrayal and big business, The Mafia offers a cold-blooded examination of organized crime in the 20th century, from prohibition to WWII and the Cold War, to JFK s presidency and John Gotti. Get the real story behind the Kennedy connection, see how organized crime infiltrated organized labor, learn how the Mob helped win WWII, and trace the exploits of legendary figures through rare photos, footage and period accounts. From bootlegging to racketeering to murder, from Al Capone and Lucky Luciano to Benjamin Bugsy Siegel, this comprehensive collector s set is a groundbreaking investigation into the origins of the ethnic gangs that turned criminal activities into family enterprises, and a detailed look at some of the mob s most notorious members.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN: Blu-ray - Anchor Bay

Young lovers on a cross-country trip stop in a small Nebraska community and make a shocking discovery. One day, three years prior to the couples’ arrival, the town’s children killed all of the grown-ups at the apparent behest of a demon simply dubbed “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.” Based on a short story from horror scribe Stephen King’s “Night Shift” collection, this film spawned a slew of bloody sequels. This film is the best of the series by far. Buy this one!

ANCIENT ALIENS - History

Is it possible that intelligent life forms visited Earth thousands of years ago, bringing with them technology that drastically affected the course of history and man s own development? Presented in the 1968 bestselling book Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Daniken, the theory of ancient aliens rocked people s beliefs in mankind s progress. Ancient cave drawings of strange creatures, remains of landing strips in Peru, and Indian texts that describe the flying machines of the gods were just a few of the odd archaeological artifacts cited by von Daniken as proof that ancient astronauts were well known to our ancestors. Produced with the exclusive cooperation of von Daniken himself, Ancient Aliens launches all-new expeditions to seek out and evaluate this evidence, with a concentration on the latest discoveries of the last 30 years, including unusual DNA findings on man s evolution and newly decoded artifacts from Egypt to Syria to South America. It is a balanced investigation into a theory some believe cannot be true, but many agree cannot be ignored. If you are a fan of the UFO genre, this dvd is definitely for you!

MATLOCK: Season Three - Paramount

There are TV lawyers and then there’s Matlock: folksy yet aggressive, Harvard-educated but still down to earth. Andy Griffith’s portrayal of the clever Southern attorney is one of the all-time classic icons of television legal dramas. From his simple gray Ford to his predilection for hot dogs, Matlock comes across as a personable and humorous character whose $100,000 fee is always worth the dough. The cases no one could solve, the clients no one could help, and the scandals no one could uncover are all deftly handled by Matlock and his team, including private investigator Tyler Hudson (Kene Holliday) and legal assistant Michelle Thomas (Nancy Stafford). This collection presents every episode of the show’s third season.

KNOWING: Blu-ray - Summitt

In 1958, as part of the dedication ceremony for a new elementary school, a group of students is asked to draw pictures to be stored in a time capsule. But one mysterious girl fills her sheet of paper with rows of apparently random numbers instead. Fifty years later, a new generation of students examines the capsule’s contents and the girl’s cryptic message ends up in the hands of young Caleb Koestler. But it is Caleb’s father, professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage), who makes the startling discovery that the encoded message predicts with pinpoint accuracy the dates, death tolls and coordinates of every major disaster of the past 50 years. As John further unravels the document’s chilling secrets, he realizes the document foretells three additional events—the last of which hints at destruction on a global scale and seems to somehow involve John and his son. When John’s attempts to alert the authorities fall on deaf ears, he takes it upon himself to try to prevent more destruction from taking place.

PEANUTS 1960 CARTOON COLLECTION - Warner

Are you a Peanuts connoisseur? Then this set is, without a doubt, for you! Every Peanuts episode from the 1960’s is presented in this hilarious collection featuring the irrepressible exploits of Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Lucy, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang. This set includes the programs A Charlie Brown Christmas; Charlie Brown’s All Stars; It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; You’re in Love, Charlie Brown; He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown; and It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown.

LIFE ON MARS: Series One - Acorn

A thoroughly engrossing and unpredictable police drama with a fantastic twist, Life on Mars concerns Manchester, U.K. police detective Sam Tyler (John Simm), who is hit by a car while investigating the disappearance of a colleague. When Tyler comes around, he’s still in the street where he was knocked down--but the year is 1973, 23 years before the accident. Certain he’s dreaming or in a post-accident delusion, Tyler drifts through the streets in shock and skepticism about everything he sees--especially the dark, smoky, thuggish atmosphere of his police precinct, nothing like the clean, high-tech office with which he’s more familiar. After a brutal introduction to his boss, Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), Tyler tries to reconcile his apparent responsibilities as a 1973 cop with disturbing suggestions he is trapped inside his own mind, suffering a coma in the 21st century.

BEWITCHED: Season Eight - Sony

The role of Samantha Stephens’s (Elizabeth Montgomery) husband, Darrin, continues to be played by the smarmy Dick Sargent in this season after Dick York left the series due to an ongoing illness a year and a half prior. The show is based around the mismatched couple, who attempt to overcome the fact that Samantha is a witch and Darrin is a mere mortal. Samantha’s family, led by her mother, Endora (Agnes Moorehead), never approved of the marriage, and the overbearing mom regularly casts wicked spells on the beleaguered Darrin. Despite all these obstacles, Samantha and Darrin somehow manage to stay together, and this wickedly funny season continues in much the same vein as the preceding seven. Included here are of the final season’s episodes.

THE EDGE OF LOVE: Blu-ray - Image

Two feisty, free-spirited women are connected by a brilliant, charismatic poet who loves them both. The passion and pathos of legendary poet Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys) is told through the lives. The passion and pathos of legendary poet Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys) is told through the lives of two extraordinary women. Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley) and Dylan were each other’s first loves who feel the thunderbolt once more when they unexpectedly meet in London ten years later. Caitlin (Sienna Miller) is his adventurous wife, wily at using her beauty and always up for a bit of fun. Despite their love-rival status, the women form a surprising friendship -- and though bombs rain down on London, the trio indulge in the glory of being young, and alive. When Vera meets and marries handsome Officer William Killick (Cillian Murphy), Dylan resents his trio becoming a foursome -- and Caitlin notes it.

THE DEEP: Blu-ray - Sony

This visually stunning action-adventure film, based on the best-selling novel by Jaws author Peter Benchley, stars Nick Nolte and Jaqueline Bissett as a couple on a romantic holiday in Bermuda. New Yorkers, David Sanders (Nolte) and Gail Berke (Bissett) are enjoying a much-needed vacation; while diving one day they discover the sunken wreck of a WWII freighter and unearth a gold coin as well as a mysterious glass ampule. Excited, they believe their discovery could be a long lost treasure, but they soon learn that their most valuable discovery is actually an ampule of morphine, one of thousands left behind on the medical supply ship. This discovery leads them into the hands of Henry Cloche (Louis Gossett Jr.), an extremely dangerous and powerful Haitian drug dealer who will stop at nothing to unearth the dangerous treasure. With the help of Romer Treece (Robert Shaw), an old treasure hunter, David and Gail soon realize that they have made a much more important discovery than the morphine and set out to keep their actual treasure a secret.

RESOLVED - Image

Ideas speak louder than words in this highly entertaining inside look at the world of high school debate. Determined to win the National Tournament of Champions, two inner-city seniors defy convention by emphasizing relevance and personal experience over their opponents’ strategy of merely reciting the facts. Featuring insightful commentary from former debaters Jane Pauley, Karl Rove and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Resolved is memorable and poignant and deliveres surprises at every turn.

ER: Season Eleven - Warner

Set in the Emergency Room at Chicago’s County General Hospital, ER is a gritty, pulse-racing glimpse of how brisk action can save lives--and how one mistake can prove fatal. The show made George Clooney’s reputation and introduced a stellar cast that includes Julianna Margulies, Laura Innes, Anthony Edwards, Eriq La Salle, Noah Wyle, and Sherry Stringfield, among others. The combination of absorbing storylines, conflicted characters, top-notch performances, and realistic incidents in the emergency room attracted millions of fans. This 11th season features its share of heart-pounding medical incidents as well as significant personnel changes: the bedrock of the ER, Dr. Carter (Wyle), decides to leave County General, and a brash new doctor, Ray Barnett (Shane West), makes his entrance.

SHARK WEEK: Great Bites Collection - Image

Discovery Channel’s Shark Week has been a popular annual event ever since the channel first ran the weeklong paean to the ocean’s top predator in 1987. Capitalizing on the great fish’s ability to both terrify and fascinate, Discovery Channel sets aside an entire week every summer to explore the world of the shark. Shark Week: The Great Bites Collection is not really a cohesive compilation, but rather a collection of Discovery Channel series and specials dedicated to sharks. The great sharks interest many and if you are one of them, pick this set up 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:
September 10, 2009