Home movies

Home movies

V For Vendetta

David Lloyd and Alan Moore’s subversive graphic novel explodes onto the screen under the auspices of Matrix creators the Wachowski Brothers. Natalie Portman delivers a strong heroine in Evey, a working class girl living in a futuristic, totalitarian London. When Evey is rescued by the mysterious V (Hugo Weaving), she finds herself torn between civil obedience and freedom. Director James McTeigue, working from a punchy script by the Wachowskis, draws on current events to make a statement, occasionally standing on a soap box to deliver the message. When the film isn’t making a statement, it’s actually a hot-button thriller mixing elements of 1984 and Equilibrium, with strong performances by Portman, Stephen Rea as a government agent trying to stop the revolution, and John Hurt as Big Brother. Two-disc DVD includes numerous production featurettes, historical references, montages and more. (Warner Home Entertainment)

Clean

Maggie Cheung’s powerful performance fuels this harrowing drama about a woman looking for redemption in order to reclaim her son. Struggling with her own demons and drug addiction, Emily Wang is lost when her rock-singer husband, Lee, overdoses. When Lee’s parents (a sympathetic Nick Nolte and Martha Henry) take custody of her son, Jay, Emily is forced to get clean and pull herself together. Her journey is filled with personal wins and losses, perfectly captured by writer-director Oliver Assayas. DVD includes interviews, trailer, Web links. (Palm Pictures)

I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer

The franchise chugs along with a new cast of characters and plenty of mayhem. When a Fourth of July prank goes wrong, a group of teens find themselves being stalked by a mysterious figure intent on killing them. Even though the characters and location have changed, the set-up and payoff are pretty much the same, with the filmmakers borrowing mythology from the first two films to slice and dice pretty young people. Not bad for its type, the film manages to drag the viewers along without insulting them at every turn. Check out the featurettes to see how much of the makeup effects didn’t make it into the final cut. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

The Cavern (WIthIN)

A group of cave explorers descend into the black depths of a Central Asia system only to find themselves trapped underground with a carnivorous creature. Shot on a low budget with limited sets, this horror thriller mixes elements of The Cave and Blair Witch Project to good effect, using hand-held cameras and abstract lighting to create tension. The cast tackles the script with conviction, never wandering into camp, while writer-director Olatunde Osunsanmi moves things along at a brisk clip. Tidy thriller surfaces on DVD with optional commentary, video journal and cave insights. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Edison Force

Oscar winners and rock/hip-hop stars mix it up in this crime thriller making its premiere on DVD. Justin Timberlake proves he’s a much better singer playing a rookie reporter try-ing to expose crooked cops and politicians. LL Cool J is the cop trying to rise to the top of the cesspool. Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey co-star in this so-so retread of familiar themes and thinly drawn, morally ambiguous characters. Still, it’s always fun watching this much star power explode into a black hole. DVD includes featurette. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Home Movies

Home Movies

Ask the Dust

Combining the beauty of Chinatown with the sexual intensity of Body Heat, writer-director Robert Towne’s adaptation of John Fantine’s novel stars Colin Farrell as Arturo Bandini, a writer who moves to Los Angeles in the 1930s looking to pen a great novel and fall in love with a blond, blue-eyed woman. Instead, Arturo encounters Camilla (Salma Hayek), a strong-willed Mexican barmaid who challenges his dream of the ideal woman. Featuring exquisite, detailed production values, beautiful cinematography, colorful characters and intelligent, thoughtful dialogue, Ask The Dust effortlessly transports us into Arturo’s world. The sex between the two is hot and sticky, while the love story is both hopeful and heartbreaking. Outstanding film deserves your attention. Watch DVD featurette to see how they accomplished this amazing film. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Fatwa

Well-intentioned but clumsily made thriller stars Lauren Holly as a junior senator targeted for assassination by a terrorist sleeper cell that plans to kill her in a dirty bomb attack on the National Mall. While billed as a terrorist thriller, most of the characters just sit around and talk. Thinly written, pedestrian direction and shallow plotting do little to make this thriller explode. DVD includes production commentary, historical archive. (Ventura Distribution)

She’s the Man

William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night gets a refreshing update in this enjoyable romp starring the likable Amanda Bynes as Viola, who disguises herself as her twin brother, Sebastian (James Kirk), in order to play on the boys’ soccer team. Director Andy Fick-man and three writers transform the Bard’s work into a frothy little exercise in romantic deception. Bynes is especially engaging as she tries to butch up, while Channing Tatum is sweet as her hunky roommate. The comic complications come fast and furious, with the cast scoring goal after goal. Lots of fun. DVD includes director and cast commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes (very funny), music video and featurettes. (DreamWorks Home Entertainment)

Feed

Challenging crime thriller borders on repulsive, requiring viewers to dismiss their own prejudices in order to appreciate the overall effort. Shot in Australia by director Brett Leonard (Lawn-mower Man), Feed stars brooding Patrick Thompson as Philipp Jackson, a cop investigating Internet sex crimes. Jackson is chasing down a man (Alex O’Loughlin, extremely brave performance) who runs a site for men who appreciate extremely obese women. The twist comes when the man begins taking odds on how long it will take him to feed his victims to death. Gabby Millgate, a small actress buried under tons of make-up, is extremely disturbing as the latest victim, who mistakes obsession for love. Not rated, the film features moments which will test you, challenge you, force you to pick up the phone and order a case of Slim Fast. Intense, gripping, and only for those with the stomach to appreciate it. Check out the featurettes to see how they transformed Millgate, plus enjoy deleted scenes, infomercial, interviews and more. (TLA Releasing)

ATL

You won’t find these boys in the ‘hood but at the local roller rink as they bust some new moves and contemplate their present and future lives. I appreciate writer Tina Gordon Chism and director Chris Robinson (working from a story by Antwone Fisher) avoiding the obvious in this somewhat nostalgic comedy-drama which deals more with people than posturing. Unfortunately, the writing isn’t strong enough to support all of the hopes and dreams of the various characters, often leaving them stranded. Still, it’s refreshing to sit through an urban film which doesn’t feel the need to walk the same narrow road. DVD rolls out plenty of extras, including additional scenes, music videos, featurettes and more. (Warner Home Video)

Blackballed

Mockumentary about a disgraced paint ball champion (Rob Corddry) hits the target more often than not. The wry Corddry (The Daily Show) remains in the moment, spending 10 years trying to redeem his name and title, dragging along a group of rag-tag players into his scheme. Funny. DVD unleashes outtakes, deleted scenes, commentary. (Shout! Factory)

home movies

home movies

Tsotsi

Gavin Hood’s Oscar-winning Best Foreign Language Film is a powerful, hard-hitting study of a young Johannesburg gang leader whose conscience gets the best of him. Presley Chweneyagae delivers a devastating, soulful performance as Tsotsi, who survives the mean streets of Africa by taking what he needs. When Tsotsi steals a car with an infant in the backseat, his moral compass points him in a new direction — one filled with hope and a future. His journey of self-discovery is filled with intense and, at times, brutal encounters, captured with unflinching realism by Hood. If this film doesn’t affect you, then you’re dead. Deleted scenes, alternate endings and featurettes add to the experience. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

Grilled

Ray Romano and Kevin James co-star as meat salesmen given 12 hours to make a sale or lose their jobs. A hot lead involves them with desperate housewives, transvestites, hit men and the head of the Jewish Mafia, all potential customers in this off-beat and unexpected comedy. Romano and James play off each other with precision, turning simple exchanges into moments of hilarity. The comics examine their friendship on two DVD featurettes. (New Line Home Entertainment)

Annapolis

In what can only be described as An Officer and Annapolis, James Franco stars as a determined military academy recruit desperate to make the cut. The only thing standing in his way is pride and tough-as-nails Marine drill sergeant Cole (Tyrese Gibson). The filmmakers pretend we haven’t seen all of this before, but they’re only kidding themselves. DVD includes deleted scenes, featurettes and commentary. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

Ultraviolet

Stylish but familiar futuristic thriller stars Milla Jovovich as Violet, proficient in survival skills and resigned to making the military pay for turning innocent civilians into vampire-like mutants. When military leader Daxus (Nick Chinlund) announces the introduction of a secret weapon aimed at eradicating the mutants, Violet steals the weapon, only to discover it’s a young boy. Having lost her unborn child to the virus, Violet vows to protect the boy and save her race. More style than substance, Unrated DVD packs more punch, and offers commentary and featurette. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Protocols of Zion

Documentary filmmaker Marc Levin exposes the outrageous belief that Jews, using The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, were to blame for 9/11. The film is more than just a documentary; it is an examination of hate and bigotry, of fear and resentment. Levin covers a lot of territory, presenting both sides of the argument, allowing the participants and documentary footage to make his statement. What Levin uncovers is an honest portrait of America, and how Anti-Semitism rose from the rubble of the World Trade Center. By not standing on a soapbox, Levin’s message becomes more universal. The DVD offers extensive historical and theatrical extras. (ThinkFilm)

Basic Instinct 2

Crime novelist Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) resurfaces in London, where she is implicated in a new murder. David Morrissey co-stars as criminal psychologist Dr. Michael Glass, assigned to evaluate Tramell’s state of mind. What he discovers in her web of lies and deceit is a deadly black widow looking for kicks, and he’s next on her list of victims. Long after the fact, the sequel fails to set the screen on fire, piling on now-familiar kink with little effect. Stone looks tired and bored, giving Morrissey little to work with. Unrated DVD tries to heat up the affair with deleted scenes and an alternate ending. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Evil

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 2003, director Mikael Hafstrom’s tale of a rebellious youth sent to boarding school hits hard, taking the viewer behind the walls of a society built on tradition and brutality. Andreas Wilson is superb as Erik, who transfers his stepfather’s abuse to his schoolmates. Out of desperation, Erik is sent to a private boarding school, where the older students routinely abuse the younger students. When Erik refuses to participate in the ritualistic hazing, he faces unexpected re-actions from those around him. Haunting, riveting and powerful, Evil will slap you silly. (Magnolia Entertainment)

Home Movies

Home Movies

Syriana

Political intrigue engages various participants in the war over Middle East oil in writer-director Stephen Gaghan’s riveting drama. George Clooney won an Oscar for his portrayal of CIA loose cannon Bob Barnes, caught in the middle of a powerful struggle between local warring factions, a political analyst (Matt Damon) with a grudge to settle, and American oil interests looking for a quick fix. Gaghan punches numerous hot topic buttons, igniting a two-hour show of emotional and physical fireworks. Taut, timely and incendiary. DVD uncovers additional scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette and conversation with Clooney. (Warner Home Video) Entertainment)

Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School

Sweet romantic comedy-drama stars Robert Carlyle as Frank Keane, baker and recent widower, who agrees to fulfill a dying man’s last wish. While waiting for an ambulance, Frank listens as accident victim Steve Mills (John Goodman) tells him about returning to a ballroom dance class to reunite with the one woman he truly loved. After Mills dies, Frank sets out to find the mystery woman and becomes involved with the various students in the class. Writer-director Randall Miller has picked a winning cast to turn cliché into gold, including Marisa Tomei as a battered student and Mary Steenburgen as the teacher. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

The Matador

Pierce Brosnan delivers a funny, touching, always interesting performance as hit man Julian Noble, whose chance encounter with desperate and struggling salesman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear, at the top of his game) in a Mexican bar sets the stage for a grand opera about life, death and loneliness. What begins with a friendly drink turns into an awkward friendship filled with constant tests of will, especially after Julian loses his nerve and turns to Danny and his wife (Hope Davis) for help. Writer-director Richard Shepard finds plenty to laugh and lament over in this well-executed Assassination Tango. Deleted scenes, commentaries, featurettes add to the fun. (Genius Products)

The Libertine

Johnny Depp adds to his repertoire of scoundrels with his performance as 17th century court poet John Wilmont, who returns from exile after the ascension of King Charles II (John Malko-vich). Banished for his debauchery, Wilmont returns to true form, penning a play about the king while pursuing young actress Elizabeth Barry (Samantha Morton). Director Laurence Dunmore perfectly captures the time and place, while Depp is at his seedy best as the sexual animal who knows no boundaries. Deleted scenes, featurette and commentary complete the DVD experience. (Genius Products)

Imagine Me and You

A seemingly perfect wedding is turned on its heel when lovely bride Rachel (Piper Perabo) catches the eye of a guest and has second thoughts. And that’s not the shocker! The guest is a woman, who forces Rachel to explore her desires and needs while avoiding her nagging family and friends. Unexpected romantic comedy features a winning cast, insightful dialogue and strong direction. Writer-director Ol Parker is featured on the DVD’s commentary and Q&A session. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Date Movie

Scattershot spoof takes every teen date movie, puts it into a blender, and creates a mixture of hilarious jokes, halfhearted sight gags, and just plain stupid silliness. Which means it’s perfect for teens who will appreciate the Unrated DVD’s bawdy sense of humor, which pushes the boundaries of good taste (the cat-taking-a-dump scene goes on and on). Alyson Hannigan is a good sport, playing along as former fatty Julia Jones, who becomes a fox and ends up looking for love in all the wrong places. The jokes come fast and furious, while the DVD piles on the extras, including featurettes, additional spoofs, promotional spots and more. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Stoned

The quick life and times of Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones are presented in this speculative musical drama lined in nostalgia. Leo Gregory paints a dark portrait of the tortured artist, a rock guitarist who lived the lifestyle to its fullest, creating fans and foes along the way. The film by director Stephen Woolley examines the mysterious death of Jones, who was found at the bottom of his pool after being released from the band. Unrated DVD adds more edge to the story. (Screen Media Films)

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