~ HOME MOVIES ~

~ HOME MOVIES ~

Babel

This film, oscar-nominated Best Picture, interweaves numerous plot threads into a tapestry of life. Enforcing the belief that the human experience is universal, writer-director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (21 Grams) explores the impact that a single bullet can have. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett head up a strong cast as an American couple trying to heal their wounded marriage while on vacation in Morocco. Filled with characters making bad decisions and paying the price, the film makes a powerful statement about the ties that bind us. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

The Prestige

Dueling magicians Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale allow their feud to materialize into a deadly game of one-upmanship. Director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Returns) incorporates cinematic sleight of hand to keep us on our toes. Jackman and Bale are intense, willing to sacrifice everything for the perfect trick. Michael Caine plays the voice of reason, a designer of magic. Scarlett Johansson is the woman who comes between the two men, and David Bowie is a mysterious stranger capable of real magic. Exquisite period detail, gripping drama and taut direction conjure up a winner. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

For Your Consideration

Actors making a low-budget Jewish holiday film find themselves in the middle of a publicity firestorm when Oscar rumors surface. The latest mockumentary from director Christopher Guest (Waiting for Guffman) features a winning performance by Catherine O’Hara as a seasoned actress looking for a shred of dignity in an unforgiving business. Working with the usual suspects, Guest pokes gentle fun at the hand that feeds him, finding humor in the characters’ humanity. (Warner Home Entertainment)

Stranger Than Fiction

Will Ferrell is terrific as Harold Crick, an IRS auditor who learns he is the lead character in a new book written by an author intent on killing him. Director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball) deftly balances comedy and pathos, keeping the film and characters grounded. Emma Thompson is fun as the wigged-out author, Dustin Hoffman enjoyable as a literary professor looking for answers, Queen Latifah strong as the writer’s assistant, and Maggie Gyllenhaal engaging as a rebellious baker who catches Crick’s eye. DVD bonus features continue the fun with deleted scenes, outtakes and featurettes. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Man of the Year

Real life and fantasy blur in this comedy about a television pundit who runs for president as a joke and wins. Wag The Dog writer-director Barry Levinson rarely takes chances. His targets are easy, with Robin Williams walking the middle of the road as he takes shots at the current state of the union. A subplot involving fraudulent voting machines is necessary, but only serves as a distraction. Laura Linney, Christopher Walken and Lewis Black add to the fun and mayhem. Williams lets loose on the DVD extras. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Zoom

When an old nemesis returns to destroy Earth, a former superhero (Tim Allen) is recruited to train a new class. Based on the popular novel, Zoom never takes itself seriously, making the hybrid easy to swallow. Allen is appropriately gruff and out of shape as the former superhero. Incentive arrives in the form of klutzy scientist Courteney Cox, and news that the threat is an old nemesis with a score to settle. Great, goofy fun, perfect for kids and adults. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Also New:

Buenos Aires revival theater owner Colin Firth suspects his new, mysterious and enigmatic boarder, Hart Bochner, might be a state-sanctioned killer in Apartment Zero (Anchor Bay).

High school friends on a vacation cruise find themselves fighting for survival in Open Water 2: Adrift (Lionsgate). In order to attend a wedding, four best friends are forced to find appropriate dates in Samoan Wedding (Magnolia). Mr. Moto: Volume 2 features Peter Lorre in four more mysteries (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment). The Alice Faye Collection offers the girl next door in Lillian Russell, On the Avenue, That Night in Rio and The Gang’s All Here (Fox). Michael J. Fox shot to stardom as everyone’s favorite Republican in Family Ties: Season 1, (Paramount Home Entertainment). Boy Scouts, abstinence, ground zero and people who loves their pets too much are targets in Penn & Teller Bullshit: Season 4 (Showtime). The feisty Golden Girls return on DVD for season 7 (Buena Vista Home Entertainment).

Just Announced:

Rocky Balboa (3/20), The Queen (4/24), Deja Vu (4/24), Notes on a Scandal (4/17), The Last King of Scotland (4/24), Night at the Museum (4/24), The Pursuit of Happyness (3/27), Charlotte’s Web (4/3), Children of Men (3/27), The Good Shepherd (4/3).

~ HOME MOVIES ~

~ HOME MOVIES ~

The Departed

Martin Scorsese’s remake of Infernal Affairs ignites the screen with incendiary performances, blazing action and a sizzling screenplay. Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio play opposite ends of a lit fuse. One is a mob informant, the other a mob enforcer, both currying favor with mob boss Jack Nicholson. Scor-sese creates a grand opera as the cat-and-mouse game escalates into a pulse-pounding finale that leaves you ducking for cover. Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg are terrific as the good guys, hoping their mole can flush out the ferret before the tables turn. Feature-packed two-DVD set includes fascinating documentaries, additional scenes, and a look at the director’s influences. (Warner Home Entertainment)

Flags of Our Fathers

The story of the men who fought at Iwo Jima and helped raise the American Flag in what became an inspirational turning point of World War II is heroically brought to vivid life in director Clint Eastwood’s stirring war drama. Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford and Adam Beach are front and center as soldiers who survive the bloody battle and are then chosen to spearhead the war bonds campaign back home. Thoughtfully dealing with the horrors of war and its mental baggage, the film gets us up close and personal with the men who put their lives on the line. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Open Season

Laugh your antlers off watching this computer-animated comedy about Boog (voice of Martin Lawrence), a domesticated, spoiled bear who reluctantly helps Elliot (Ashton Kutcher), a mule deer with a knack for getting into trouble. When Elliot gets Boog banished to the forest, the bear takes a crash course in survival skills in order to survive the elements. Plenty of visual and verbal gags keep this colorful adventure on track, while the DVD continues the fun with a forest filled with extras like a Wheel of Fortune game, featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary and music videos. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Hollywoodland

Mixing speculation with fact, director Allen Coulter and writer Paul Bernbaum examine the mysterious death of actor George Reeves, television’s Superman. The filmmakers perfectly capture the time and place, transporting us back to a period when power and secrets could get you killed. Into this seedy world steps private detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), hired to unlock those secrets and bring down the powerful. Ben Affleck is strong as the disillusioned Reeves, Bob Hoskins frightening as a studio boss, and Diane Lane alluring as his femme fatale wife. DVD serves up featurettes, commentary, deleted scenes and comparisons. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Trust the Man

This is a hilarious comedy about constipated couples looking to unload. Writer-director Bart Freundlich offers sly, human observations about love and marriage, examining what happens when two couples find themselves at a crossroads in their relationships. David Duchovny and Julianne Moore are Tom and Rebecca, a stay-at-home father and a film actress returning to the stage. Billy Crudup co-stars as Tobey, Rebecca’s brother, unwilling to commit to a job or his novelist girlfriend Elaine (Maggie Gyl-lenhaal). It’s fun watching these two couples dance around their issues. DVD includes featurette, deleted scenes, and a lively conversation with Freundlich and Duchovny. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Flicka

Alison Lohman stars as Katy, a woman home from school and anxious to become part of her family’s Wyoming horse ranch. Afraid to tell her parents she has flunked out, Katy stumbles across a wild mustang that saves her life. Named Flicka, the horse drives a wedge between Katy and her father (Tim McGraw). When Katy is forced to enter a race to reclaim Flicka, her courage and determination force the family to reexamine their priorities. Outstanding family entertainment leaves a tear in your eye. DVD includes commentary, deleted scenes, bloopers, gag reel and music video. (Fox)

School for Scoundrels

Perpetual loser Roger (Jon Heder) seeks help by attending a confidence building class, unaware that his teacher (Billy Bob Thornton) is crazy and in competition for the girl of his dreams (Jacinda Barrett). Director/co-writer Todd Phillips (Old School) has a lot of fun with the premise, unleashing a maniacal Thornton on an unsuspecting Heder. What begins as tough love turns into a test of manhood. Funny, but could have been vicious. DVD offers alternate ending, gag reel, funny featurette, commentary. (Weinstein/Genius)

Home Movies

Home Movies

Horror by the numbers. Three new horror films, a prequel and two sequels, are guaranteed to send chills down your spine (like it’s not cold enough).

Saw III

The deadly booby traps are more elaborate and splashy in this third chapter of the popular horror franchise. Dying from a frontal-lobe tumor and relegated to his death bed, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) now relies on his assistant, Amanda (Shawnee Smith), to carry on his dirty work. Her first assignment is Jeff (Angus Macfadyen), an embittered and angry father whose son was killed by a drunk driver. As Jeff makes his way through a series of grisly mazes designed to bring him face to face with those responsible for his son’s death, an emergency room doctor (Bahar Soomekh) is forced to keep Jigsaw alive or risk losing her head. Unrated edition pours on the gore, while Jeff’s journey forces him to make some tough decisions. Numerous featurettes and commentaries cut through the filmmaking process. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

Gritty prequel answers a lot of questions, like how Leatherface was born, where he got his trademark mask, and how grandpa lost his legs. You’ll need a strong stomach to appreciate the on-screen carnage, which brings two brothers and their respective girlfriends face to face with the most dysfunctional Texas family on the map. Anyone familiar with the series will appreciate the effort, which answers as many questions as it asks. The unrated DVD slices deep, with extreme moments of horror and gore, while the direction and acting are unerringly intense. The first cut may be the deepest, but it’s the chainsaw to the torso that will lea

ve you with a broken heart. Deleted and extended scenes, extensive documentary and commentary flesh out the experience. (New Line Home Entertainment)

The Grudge 2

Creepy dead children inhabit this sequel to the popular Amer-ican version of the Japanese thriller. When Aubrey (Am-ber Tamblyn) seeks out her estranged sister, Karen (Sarah Michelle Geller), in Tokyo, she learns that Karen was the victim of a specter who spreads rage through its victims. Unleash-ed, the evil begins to grow, claiming victims both within the walls of the house and across the globe, affecting a Chicago woman (Jennifer Beals) and her nuclear family. Filled with unsettling imagery and a constant sense of dread, #The Grudge 2# is more of the same on a larger scale. The revolving storylines keep the action moving, forcing us to abandon logic. What remains is a film that should provide fans with the prerequisite thrills. DVD scares up numerous featurettes, unrated footage, deleted scenes and more. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Male pattern boldness. Testosterone runs high in three new films currently flexing their muscle.

The Guardian

There’s enough testosterone on display in The Guardian to fuel a women’s golf tournament, a flag-waving tale of heroism and heroes. The film unabashedly wears its clichÈs like medals, but it is not difficult to find yourself rooting for the crew members of the United States Coast Guard and the people they rescue. The Guardian is at its best dealing with heroes, people forced to play God and make life-and-death decisions. It’s these moments, pitting mortal man against an unforgiving sea, that demand our attention. Suffering from flashback-induced stress, Coast Guard rescuer Randall (Kevin Costner) is reassigned to a training school in Louisiana, where he encounters Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher), a cocky championship swimmer. Although Fisher is wet behind the ears and acts before he thinks, Randall sees potential in his new student. DVD serves up alternate ending, deleted scenes, documentaries and commentary. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

The Marine

Professional wrestler John Cena goes to the mat in this supercharged, yet pedestrian action film that finds Cena playing former Marine John Triton, discharged from the service because of his attitude. On vacation with his wife, John encounters a group of jewel thieves who knock him out, kill some cops and take his wife as hostage. Hot on their trail, John is forced to use his military training in order to bring down the gang and their ruthless leader (Robert Patrick). Lots of chases, flying bullets, broken bones and explosions. Unrated DVD recruits even more action, plus featurettes, profiles and wrestling spots. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Flyboys

Before America enters World War I against the Germans, a group of American flyers cross the Atlantic to join France’s flying aces. Led by a Texas rancher, Blaine (James Franco), the recruits quickly learn the return investment on their service is usually zero — most flyers never making it past six weeks. With fighting ace Reed Cassidy (Martin Henderson) as their leader, the pilots learn the skies and head off to battle, hoping their training and courage is enough to see them home. Fortunately, the clichÈs are overpowered by the film’s amazing flying sequences and spectacular digital effects. Good cast takes flight in this engaging period piece. (MGM Home Entertainment)

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