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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.


Movie Review

Well it is often said that when you have been out of the public eye for a bit, you better come back with a bang. Quentin Tarantino’s latest picture, Inglourious Basterds at least accomplishes that feat - and loudly, I might add. This most recent addition to Tarantino’s film library is done with ferocity and some momentum in each of the chapters of the film. These individuals chapters begin separately from one another, yet end in a perfect knot with all subplots coming together like the shoelaces you can never loosen.

The film opens in the first year of the German occupation of France. A young woman, Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema. Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish American soldiers to perform swift, shocking acts of retribution. Later known to their enemy as “the basterds,” Raine’s squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of the Third Reich. Fates converge under a cinema marquis, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own.

There is no question that Quentin Tarantino follows a system when it comes to his successful films. His pictures are often told in the old pulp style, segmented and seemingly unrelated, yet a common thread is always discovered. Inglourious is quite long at over two and one half hours, yet it is quite entertaining, is completely unpredictable, and provides a rather humorous revisionists view of how the war in Europe should have ended. Tarantino has done a tremendous job with the cast and, in this writers opinion, the choice of Christoph Waltz as Colonel Landa is a sure fire Oscar contender. Keep the young kids away, but get out and see this one as quickly as you can. Just one other word of advice; stay away from the large size drinks. You don’t want to miss any of this!

Inglourious Basterds
Starring: Brad Pitt & Eli Roth
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Company: Weinstein/Universal
Now Showing: In area Theatres
MPAA Rating: R
Grade: B+

DVD Reviews

Robert Stack stars as the unflappable Eliot Ness in this well done series. The Untouchables chronicles the campaign of Eliot Ness (Robert Stack) the young U.S. Prohibition Bureau agent to smash the beer and booze empire of Al Capone in 1920s Chicago. Drama at it’s best. Pick you copy up today!

NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) is more than just an action drama. With liberal doses of humor, it’s a show that focuses on the sometimes complex and always amusing dynamics of a team forced to work together in high-stress situations. NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), a former Marine gunnery sergeant, whose skills as an investigator are unmatched, formerly led this troupe of colorful personalities. Gibbs, a man of few words, only needs a look to explain it all. The team includes NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), an ex-homicide detective who may come off as the world’s oldest frat boy, but whose instincts in the field are unparalleled; forensic specialist Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette), a talented scientist whose dark wit matches her Goth style and eclectic tastes, NCIS Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray), an MIT graduate whose brilliance with computers far overshadows his insecurities in the field and Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), a former Moussad agent who shares a bond with Gibbs over the death of his arch nemesis, Ari, the terrorist who killed former NCIS Special Agent Kate Todd. Assisting the team is medical examiner Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard (David McCallum), who knows it all because he’s seen it all, and he’s not afraid to let you know. Rounding out the team is NCIS director Jennifer Shepard (Lauren Holly) who has a romantic history with Gibbs. From murder and espionage to terrorism and stolen submarines, these special agents travel the globe to investigate all crimes with Navy or Marine Corps ties.

Wow! This film is powerful from the beginning to the end! It is 1940. After Germany’s invasion of Poland, Joseph Stalin ordered the liquidation of the Polish officer corps, slaughtering nearly 22,000 men in Katyn Forest. Based on this horrific, historical event, Katyn tells the story of four fictional officers and their families as they struggle to uncover the truth. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and directed by Academy Award Winner Andrzej Wajda.

Hugh Laurie returns to his Golden Globe®-winning and Primetime Emmy® Award-nominated role as Dr. Gregory House in House: Season Five! House pushes new boundaries in medicine while dealing with emotional chaos as personal and professional boundaries blur in all 24 episodes from the compelling fifth season. Who wouldn’t want a doctor like House? His bedside manner may leave a bit to be desired, but his knowledge is unsurpassed. Check it out!

It’s the ultimate voyage our world has to offer: a journey from the temperate surface of our world to the fiery core of the Earth. With the aid of stunning visual effects, the unexplored interior of the Earth is split wide open, giving us an unbelievable view. From glowing seams of pure iron ore to sparkling diamond caverns to the magnetic field that keeps us safe from the lethal radiation of space... for now, this is the fantastical world we live in. From the heights of Mount Everest to the molten lava fields of Hawaii to the very core of our planet, the geologic forces that have changed the planet’s face over the past 4.6 billion years are revealed. With state-of-the-art effects and the latest scientific information, this is the story of striking meteorites, gigantic eruptions, the movement of continents and other geologic events that have shaped our Amazing Earth.

Mark Brady (Donal Logue) is a washed-up television director who’s given a second chance when he’s handed the opportunity to shoot a low-budget fishing show in Scotland. Forced to work sober alongside his ex-wife under the worst possible conditions, Mark finds love and redemption in the most unlikely of places. A compelling situation with real reactions, this DVD kept my interest. Very interesting and worth watching.

The NFL and Warner Home Video have done something incredible! This 10-disc DVD set which contains the ten greatest games played by the New York Giants between 1987 and 2008 is sure to put a smile on every Giants fans face! The games are presented complete and in their entirety. This set is a must own for any fan of this franchise. Don’t miss it!

Princess Odette, Prince Derek and their faithful animal friends Puffin, Speed and Jean-Bob are back for an all-new, musical Swan Princess adventure! When Prince Derek attempts to rescue his mother Queen Uberta from the clutches of the evil Clavius, he discovers Clavius’ plan to steal the magic Orb hidden deep in the Prince’s castle. To stop him, Odette must use the Orb’s magical powers and once again transform into the beautiful Swan Princess. It will take all her power plus the help of her friends to save their kingdom. If they fail, Clavius will rule the enchanted land and Odette will remain a swan forever.

The NFL and Warner Home Video have done something else incredible! This DVD set which contains the five greatest games in San Franciso 49er history is a must own for any fan of this franchise. The super bowl victories included here are both dramatic and compelling in their presentation. Get your copy today!

Kelly, a desperate prostitute, is bullied by her pimp into finding an underage girl for a sadistic mobster. She discovers Joanne, an 11-year-old runaway, who naively complies. But when the pedophile turns violent, Kelly intervenes and everything goes horribly wrong. This program is very well done and will keep you interested throughout. The presentation is very well done and the acting is as well. Pick it up!

Bob the Builder: Call in the Crew features five never-before-seen episodes of the kids’ series on a DVD. Bob and his Can-Do Crew of Muck, Scoop and Roley — a talking, hard-working bulldozer, backhoe and steamroller, respectively — work together and overcome obstacles to build a house, open a diner, repair a run-down gate and rescue a duck family in the episodes, which have a total running time of 46 minutes.

Mama Cass Elliot had just left the Mama’s and Papa’s in 1968, and she had just begun her solo career, when ABC asked her in 1969 if she would like to make a pilot for her own musical variety series. The pilot show was filmed, but never picked up by the network. This episode has never been seen since, until now. On this 40th Anniversary of “The Mama Cass Television Program”, Infinity Entertainment and The Falcon Picture Group have put this rare pilot on DVD! A must own for any fan of Mama Cass!

Three real-life buddies (John Cassavetes, Peter Falk, and Ben Gazzara) team up to play three pals whose lives suffer a shock wave when a fourth friend drops dead. After the funeral, the three friends, feeling death’s hot breath on their own necks, take off on a weekend-long debauch, with way too much drinking and loose women. But, in the process, they have lengthy heart-to-hearts about the nature of friendship, manhood, and marriage, among other things.

Talk about an all star cast, check this out! Based on the best-selling novel by Judith Krantz, Mistal’s Daughter tells the story of three generations of red-haired beauties, all bound to Julien Mistral, the painter and genius whose passions seared them all. From the ‘20s Paris of Chanel and Matisse to New York’s sizzling modeling agencies of the 50’s to the model wars of the ‘70s, this epic mini-series captures the scandal, passion and explosive glamour of life in the worlds of art and high fashion. The tremendous cast includes Stacy Keach, Stefanie Powers, Lee Remick, Timothy Dalton, Robert Urich and Joanna Lumley.

One Tree Hill takes an unorthodox approach to advancing the popular television series by skipping over four years in the lives of the show’s characters. The Scott brothers and their sundry friends from the small town of Tree Hill, North Carolina, were last seen in The Complete Fourth Season vowing to keep in touch after high-school graduation and remain the same people, even while some went off to college and others made different plans. The fifth season leaps over that transitional period, and we find everyone now in their early 20s, dealing with adult relationships, career moves, disasters, disappointments, and all the rest. For the first time in One Tree Hill, the actors actually look close to the age of their characters, and that makes for an even more sophisticated show.

This DVD set consists of eight half-hour shows of the Super Friends from what would have been their 1983-1984 season on ABC Saturday mornings. Each half-hour show is composed of three episodic shorts running about seven minutes each. A total of 24 shorts are on this DVD set. These eight half-hour shows are complete with both their original opening and closing credits. Unfortunately, ABC never aired any of these half-hour shows during their network 1983-1984 Saturday morning season. A must own for any fan of comic cartoons, these have never been seen before.

A broken heart, a battle ax, a demon and a lesbian ex-fiancee... Jason Parks’ life goes from bad to worse as a series of supernatural events turn his dream of reconciling with his ex Jasmine into a portal seeking, demon hunting nightmare. Featuring Jason “Christian Cage” Reso of the WWE and TNA Wrestling. Also starring Landy Cannon, Brigitte Kingsley and Julia Schneider. This picture never won any awards, it is silly and completely ridiculous, but it is one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. Check it out for side-splitting laughter.

When two Italian-American boys from New York are falsely accused of murder in a small Alabama town, they call for a lawyer--but the only lawyer they know is their cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci), who made six attempts before he passed his bar exam. My Cousin Vinny is a classic fish-out-of-water comedy; the flimsy plot about clearing the two boys and solving the murder is just a hook to support a lot of culture-clash humor. Thanks to the strong cast of character actors like Fred Gwynne, Austin Pendleton, and Lane Smith, it’s pretty funny--even old-hat jokes about Brooklyn versus Southern accents come to life. Pesci has played a few too many schticky characters, but this time it works. There’s just enough humanity in his caricature to make Vinny likable and entertaining.

He’s a warrior, a mystic, a martyr, capturing the heart and soul of a generation. Embodying all these and more, Billy Jack quickly became one of the most unorthodox and magnetic movie heroes of all time. Tom Laughlin charismatically plays the title character, a half-breed Native American and ex-Green Beret returning to live in solitude on an Arizona reservation. He is drawn to the progressive Freedom School – and the idealistic woman (Delores Taylor) who runs it. But when tensions flare between the students and narrow-minded local bigots, Billy Jack becomes the school’s protector. Once again, violence finds him. First released with little fanfare and dismissed by most critics, the film’s gut honesty struck a chord with audiences, who later made it a box-office giant – and a landmark film of its era.

Firefighting adventures from the best...Fireman Sam! His adventures are legendary as his pals Norman, Mandy, and Radar as they make courageous rescues throughout the town of Pontypandy. Fireman Sam saves the supermarket on Fire Prevention Day, helps the rescue dogs find missing people, shares important safety tips, and makes a daring helicopter rescue in the midst of a forest fire. Fireman Sam is here to help you learn about fire safety, teamwork, and having fun with your friends.

Patrick Swayze is back and gunning for justice as Charles Barker, an unorthodox but effective FBI veteran in The Beast. Though considered by many, including rookie partner agent Ellis Dove (Travis Fimmel), to be the best in the business, FBI undercover operative Barker has a style that is nothing if not unconventional. In pushing Dove to immerse himself more deeply into the characters they create, Barker makes it clear how the stresses and dangers of working undercover make normal relationships impossible. As he and his mentor are tested by cases that pit them against ruthless drug lords, dangerous arms dealers, corrupt cops and deadly killers-for-hire, Dove also struggles with his own secret: he’s being asked to cooperate with an FBI investigation of Barker, who’s suspected of going rogue. And as Dove is pressured to become an informant, Barker launches his own investigation into a conspiracy within the Bureau that’s protecting a secret cadre of agents operating outside the law.

Stardom and popularity are a 13-year-old’s dream, so what could be better than hosting your own Web show while you’re still in high school? Carly and her friends Sam and Freddie create and produce iCarly, a weekly Internet series featuring everything from comedy bits to virtual art shows, kid bands, and dating advice. Carly lives with her older brother Spencer, a rather flaky artist and a more-than-a-little-unconventional guardian, and the gang spends most of their time there recording the show, raiding the fridge, and marveling at whatever crazy creation Spencer is currently working on.

Who said misfits can’t be successful on television? Not me! The Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! is a fast paced, absurd collection of short films, parodies, animations, emotions, phone calls, pranks and musical numbers featuring comedians, celebrities, bad actors and pets. This show is hilarious and ridiculous at the same time!

Smallville follows the trials and tribulations of a young Clark Kent, Lana Lang, Lex Luthor and others as they grow up in high school. Any fan of Smallville will still want to keep their collection complete, and even if you had issues with some parts of the season, I think there are still many gems within Season 8. Part of the fun of a DVD set like this is being able to look at the episodes again in retrospect and finding those good moments. I also appreciate that there are extras to make it an even more immersive experience. The DVD set comes out on August 25, which gives people exactly a month to catch up on the entire season before Season 9 begins in September.

This is an incredible collection for any fan of television drama. These four films (High Noon, Midnight Bayou, Northern Lights and Tribute) were made for television and broadcast originally on the Lifetime network. Adapted from the brilliant books by Nora Roberts, this set will captivate you and push you through all ranges of emotions. All four films are in and of themselves self contained with tremendous scripts and wonderfully skilled acting. Get this set today!

Simply put, this modern day Brady Bunch is funny, hokey and real. Life with Derek is about teenage angst, conflict, and reluctance toward change. Blending two families is never easy and when two self-absorbed teenagers and three younger siblings from two very different families are involved, major conflict is guaranteed. The Venturis have long been accustomed to a lax, unorganized way of life in which the three children invariably get their way and the MacDonalds thrive on a more orderly life where politeness is key. When George Venturi (John Ralston) and Nora MacDonald (Joy Tanner) marry, the two families must somehow merge into one. So, ultra-organized 15-year old Casey (Ashley Leggat) and her younger sister Lizzie (Jordan Todosey) move in with selfish and demanding Derek (Michael Seater), his younger brother Edwin (Daniel Magder), and their tantrum prone youngest sister Marti (Ariel Waller), and space, privacy, and dealing with change quickly become serious challenges.

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