Nick’s Picks 03/07/12
FEATURE FILM REVIEW
FRIENDS WITH KIDS
Jason and Julie (Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt) are single thirty-something Manhattanites. They’ve been best friends since college, they live in the same building, trust each other implicitly -and aren’t remotely attracted to each other. As the film opens, they meet at a chic downtown restaurant for a dinner with their closest friends, two married couples: Leslie and Alex (Maya Rudolph and Chris O’ Dowd), funny and frank — and Ben and Missy (Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig), such a sexy pair that they are in fact having a quickie in the restaurant bathroom when Julie and Jason arrive. Jason notices the behavior of some unruly children being seated at the table next to them – and he and Julie riff on how inappropriate it is to bring kids to such a sophisticated place. But their comic rant is cut short when Leslie suddenly blurts out that she’s pregnant. Mortified, Julie and Jason turn on a dime and congratulate their friends wholeheartedly – and earnestly: it’s the first of their close friends to take the plunge. Leslie and Alex reassure them that they would never bring their kids to a fancy restaurant – they’re gonna be cool parents, and nothing is going to change.
Fast forward to four years later, and everything has changed. Leslie and Alex have two kids, Missy and Ben have a newborn – and Jason and Julie, still single and childless, find themselves taking a long expensive cab ride to Alex and Leslie’s apartment in Brooklyn – on Jason’s birthday. They have brought the wine, the food, the cake, Julie has brought the only birthday gift for Jason – and when they arrive, the mood is not remotely festive. Their friends are sniping at each other, harried and utterly consumed by the demands of parenting. On their way home from what proves to be a funny, entirely chaotic and thoroughly unsatisfying birthday celebration, Julie and Jason end up in a bar, wondering what’s happened to their friends – who now seem overwhelmed, exhausted, angry, humorless – altogether unfamiliar. Is this what happens when you have kids? Julie and Jason riff on whether you can maintain true romance in your life – and also have children. Is it possible? Jason offhandedly suggests that maybe they should have a kid together and beat the system – be with their kid half the time, and pursue unfettered, uncomplicated romance the other half. It’s a funny joke… or is it?
Julie and Jason have their baby, Joe and all is well. They are the most competent, functional, loving pair of unmarried, unattached parents one could hope to see (much to their friends’ chagrin), and they both start to date. Jason meets Maryjane (Megan Fox), a lithe Broadway dancer who is Jason’s physical ideal and Leslie introduces Julie to Kurt (Edward Burns), dashing, tall, impossibly kind – and recently divorced, with two kids of his own. Have Julie and Jason beat the system? Nothing proves as simple as they’d hoped. Their friends – who can’t help feeling they are part of the system Julie and Jason have set out to “beat” – are threatened by their friends’ choice and how well it seems to be working. And Julie, even as she gets more and more deeply involved with Kurt, finds herself falling hard for Jason – despite the fact that she’s thought of him as a brother for nearly two decades. Having kids proves to be the crucible through which all of these friends’ lives are forever changed – in sweeping and surprising ways. There is great comedy and enormous feeling in this story about discovering the love of your life in the way you were least expecting.
Friends with Kids
Starring: Adam Scott, Jennifer
Westfeldt and Kristen Wiig
Director: Jennifer Westfeldt
Now Showing: In Local Area Theatres
MPAA Rating: NR
Houston-based Lazy Gal Productions has released “June,” a short film adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Daemon Lover.” The film was directed by Gretchen Almoughraby, with Sound Engineer and Composer Brian Dean Hoff co-producing, and Michael Allmon as the Director of Photography and Video Editor. Houston Actress Sarah Wyckoff plays the lead role of “The Woman,” with Dave Maldonado, Suzanne Tyrell, Aleeah Rogers, Roger Palomino, Patrick Sane, Bryan Williams, Andre Richards, Alan Berkowitz, Angelo Dylen, and Patrick James rounding out the cast. “The Daemon Lover” was adapted with permission from New York-based Literal Media. June tells the story of a woman by the same name, whose fiance fails to show up on their wedding day. His disappearance sends her on a journey that ends in tragedy. Director Almoughraby states that this film “is my attempt at telling a story with an ambiguous ending. I was fascinated by Shirley Jackson’s original short story, and envisioned the film version as having a Twilight-Zone-esque feel to it.” The director goes on to state that “Sarah Wyckoff’s acting, along with Michael Allmon’s cinematography and Brian Dean Hoff’s spooky soundtrack all contributed to that very nicely. In the end, when people watch the film, I want them to come up with their own interpretations of what happened. I have my own interpretation, but I want to know what other people think happened.”
FREE DVD GIVEAWAY
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of 3D Spies of WWII, Mars Red Planet, Pioneers of TV: Season 2, Dora the Explorer Grab Bag, ICarly Grab Bag, Spongebob Grab Bag, The Backyardigans: Grab Bag, Mr Popper’s Penguins, Dream House, The Thing, Rebecca, What’s Your Number?, Clinton, Kangaroo Mob or The Interrupters, it is really easy! All you have to do is send me an email at HoustonMovieGuy@gmail.com. The subject line of the email should read DVD GIVEAWAY. In the body of the email, be sure to put your name, full mailing address and which DVD or Blu-ray you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing. Best of luck!
CLINTON – PBS
In the tradition of American Experience s acclaimed Presidents series, Clinton provides an intimate, honest, balanced look at the 42nd president s life, career, and legacy. This definitive biography will track William Jefferson Clinton from his difficult childhood in Hope, Arkansas, through his meteoric rise in state politics, to the highs and lows of his tumultuous presidency.
KANGAROO MOB – PBS
Meet the mob of street smart kangaroos moving into Australia’s capital city and the ecologists following their every move. Over the course of one drought-stricken year we follow mob leader, Black Spot, and kangaroo mother, Madge, with her two young joeys – Sonny and Alice. Here is a look at what happens when human development encroaches on wildlife habitat and two very different species are forced to co-exist.
THE INTERRUPTERS – PBS
The Interrupters follows three individuals who with bravado, humility, and even humor, work to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. From acclaimed director Steve James and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz, this is an intimate journey into the stubborn persistence of violence in our cities.
MR POPPERS PENGUINS – Fox
Chill out with the funniest family comedy of the year! Jim Carrey stars as Tom Popper, a successful businessman who’s clueless when it comes to the really important things in life…until he inherits six “adorable” penguins, each with its own unique personality. Soon Tom’s rambunctious roommates turn his swank New York apartment into a snowy winter wonderland — and the rest of his world upside-down. Adapted from the award-winning classic children’s book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a cool blast of fun for all ages!
DREAM HOUSE – Universal
Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) quit a high-profile job in Manhattan to relocate his wife, Libby (Oscar®-winner Rachel Weisz), and their two daughters to a quaint New England town. But as they settle into their new life, they discover their perfect home was once the murder scene of a mother and her children. When Will investigates, he’s not sure if he’s seeing ghosts or if the tragic events are somehow related to his past. The only clues come from his mysterious neighbor, Ann (Oscar®-nominee Naomi Watts), who helps him piece together this haunting puzzle. Full of twists and suspense, this psychological thriller will have you on the edge of your seat.
THE THING – Universal
It’s not human. Yet. From the producers of Dawn of the Dead comes the chilling prelude to John Carpenter’s cult classic film. When paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) travels to an isolated outpost in Antarctica for the expedition of a lifetime, she joins an international team that unearths a remarkable discovery. Their elation quickly turns to fear as they realize that their experiment has freed a mysterious being from its frozen prison. Paranoia spreads like an epidemic as a creature that can mimic anything it touches will pit human against human as it tries to survive and flourish in this spine-tingling thriller.
FOOTLOOSE – Paramount
The struggle between innocence and rigid morality is revisited when city-boy Ren finds himself in an uptight town where dancing has been banned. Filled with contemporary music and iconic classics from the original, this fresh look on youth culture is sure to win fans of young and old. The saga follows a big city teen (Kenny Wormald) who takes the outsider role in his new home, where the lcoal minister (Dennis Quaid) and the town council have decreed a strict curfew at night and prohibition on the evils of rock and roll. Kids will be kids, right? With the preacher’s daughter (Julianne Hough) leading the way, you know kids are gonna be dancing up and down the aisles.
REBECCA – MGM
Maxim de Winter, who is in Monte Carlo to forget the drowning death of his wife Rebecca, meets the demure paid companion of matronly socialite Edythe Van Hopper and begins to court her. The girl falls in love with Maxim and happily accepts when he asks her to be his wife. The bride’s happiness comes to an abrupt end when Maxim takes her to his grand seaside estate, Manderley. There she is tormented by the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who continually reminds the young bride of the great beauty and elegance of the first Mrs. de Winter and undermines her attempts to assert herself in the household. One night shortly after her arrival, a boat is wrecked off shore, and during the rescue attempt, another submerged boat is found in which the body of Rebecca is trapped. Maxim then confesses to his insecure wife the true story of his miserable marriage to Rebecca: After only four days of marriage, Rebecca began flaunting her infidelities. For the family’s honor, Maxim continued his marriage, with Rebecca playing the great lady, until she informed her husband that she was to become a mother and he was not the father.
WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER – Fox
Few actresses can play frothy and ditzy as well as Anna Faris, star of the fizzy What’s Your Number?. Faris’s easy ability to fly along on the wispiest of plot threads, staying likable all the way, is harder than it looks, and Faris’s talent makes What’s Your Number? a fun, saucy date-night trifle. Faris plays Ally Darling, a woman who’s had 20 boyfriends, and makes the mistake of reading a women’s magazine article that says that a woman who has had more than 20 lovers has a harder time ultimately marrying. Ally then wonders if one of her “magic 20″ might have been The One, and sets about to track them all down. What’s Your Number? has a talented cast surrounding Faris, including Blythe Danner as her wedding-obsessed mom, Joel McHale as a former boss (and possible new “number”), and the gorgeous Chris Evans as Colin, Ally’s neighbor. Ally and Colin strike up a friendship while she tries to track down her exes, and of course the viewer can see they are perfect for each other long before the script allows them to.
REDAKAI: The Journey Begins – Cartoon Network
From the makers of the global phenomenon Bakugan Battle Brawlers and based on Spin Master Ltd.’s innovative trading card game, Redakai follows three teenage friends who are on a quest to find a mystical energy called Kairu. Redakai: Conquer the Kairu is a treasure hunt pitting teen Kairu fighters against each other – on a journey that crisscrosses the planet, with fantastic locales and untold dangers waiting around every corner. Redakai “The Journey Begins” includes an exclusive trading card and 13 action packed episodes on 2 discs.
PIANOMANIA – First Run Features
Pianomania takes you into the secret world of sounds – a place where passion and the pursuit of perfection collide with artistic obsession and a little bit of madness. As Steinway & Sons’ chief technician and Master Tuner in Vienna, Stefan Knüpfer is dedicated to the unusual task of pairing world-class instruments with world-famous pianists. Juggling the demands of the pianist, the piano, and the piece to find the perfect match requires boundless enthusiasm, but also endless patience and nerves of steel. No detail is too small or too inconsequential for Knüpfer, not even the tiniest speck of dust on a piano string. Pianomania is a humorous and surprisingly suspenseful peek into the heated clash of wills between a genius craftsman and the renowned pianists who rely on his talent – including Lang Lang, Alfred Brendel, Rudolf Buchbinder and Pierre-Laurent Aimand – as they search together for that elusive perfect tone.
ABOVE SUSPICION: Set One – Acorn
Tense, graphic, thrilling and just about the most talked about cop show on British TV since Prime Suspect. Above Suspicion features Rome star Ciaran Hinds as a veteran detective who is forced to work alongside a much younger female detective named Anna Travis (Kelly Reilly). Hinds’ character DCI Langton is a sort of humorless Gene Hunt. He has seen it all before and he doesn’t have a lot of time for naive newcomers especially when they get squeamish as the site of a rotting corpse. Eventually, Travis proves herself to be a decent police officer and her and Langton need their wits about them as they investigate two chilling mysteries over the course of this 254 minute DVD set. Above Suspicion never aired in the US so unless you have seen it on Acorn Media’s streaming service then this DVD release represents your first chance to see this critically acclaimed show.
GAME OF THRONES – HBO
Summers span decades. Winters can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plots, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; and all the way to the frozen north, where an 800-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords, and honest men, all will play the Game of Thrones. Sean Bean leads the massive cast as the warrior-noble Eddard Stark, who reluctantly assumes the role as the Hand of the King after the mysterious death of his predecessor. The King, Robert Baratheon, has leadership of the lands of Westeros, a mythical country plagued by severe, decade-long shifts in weather. His rule is challenged by the exiled Prince Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd), who trades his own sister (Emilia Clarke) for the allegiance of the Dothraki, a savage nomadic tribe led by Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa). A shocking secret kept hidden by Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) leads to an upset in the balance of power and, ultimately, a challenge to the House of Stark to bring control to the bloodshed that threatens to overtake Westeros.
TRANSFORMERS PRIME: Season One – Shout Factory
For centuries across the universe, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and the Autobots have battled their greatest foes, Megatron (Frank Welker) and his army of Decepticons. But on Earth they face a new threat: discovery by the human race. By using their unique ability to disguise themselves as common Earth vehicles, the Autobots have managed to avoid detection and the risk of escalating their war to disastrous proportions. But now they require the assistance of three young human allies (Jack, Miko and Raf ) along with Special Agent Bill Fowler (Ernie Hudson, Ghostbusters) not only to help keep their secret but also to defeat the sinister Decepticons once and for all! From Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the writing team behind the megablockbuster Transformers feature films, and executive producer Jeff Kline comes an all-new series of sophisticated adventures for the Autobots, Decepticons and their human allies that boasts stellar computer animation and an impressive voice cast.
DANCING DREAMS – FIrst Run Features
The style of dance known as ‘dream dance’ was created by famed German choreographer, Pina Bausch. Bausch was a pioneer in the field of expressionism in dance and is a true master of the art form. Although she studied both in Germany and the United States (at Julliard) and during her development, began working closely with filmmakers such as Fellini and Almodovar in order help faciliatate the accurate and proper use of dance in feature films. What Dancing Dreams does is chronicles a period of her life as a teacher as she takes on the task of teaching forty students and creates a brand new dance known as Contact Zone. Unfortunately, within days of it’s completion, Bausch was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. This film is an homage to her teaching, her life and her desire to make dance a true art form.
HEY, BOO: HARPER LEE & TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD – First Run Features
To Kill a Mockingbird was the first and only novel by a young woman from the South. It became one of the biggest best-sellers of all time and she became a mystery. Hey Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird explores the history and impact of the novel and offers an unprecedented look at the life of the novelist. Fifty years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird is required reading in most American classrooms and still sells nearly a million copies a year. Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird chronicles how this beloved novel came to be written, provides the context and history of the Deep South where it is set, and documents the many ways the novel has changed minds and shaped history. For teachers, students or fans of the classic, Hey, Boo enhances the experience of reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Hey, Boo features insightful interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Rick Bragg, Anna Quindlen, and Richard Russo, historians Jon Meacham and Diane McWhorter and civil rights leader Andrew Young addressing the novel’s impact on their lives, careers and country. Lee’s friends and family speak on the record, sharing intimate recollections, anecdotes, and biographical details for the first time, offering new insight into the life and mind of Harper Lee, who stopped speaking to the press in 1964.
DECISION – Image
A family in despair rediscovers its faith in this uplifting drama from the producers of WWJD: What Would Jesus Do? Natalie Grant stars as Ilene, who struggles to make ends meet after the tragic death of her firefighter husband (Billy Dean). When she begins to lose control of her heartbroken teenage son Jackson (Michael Rosenbaum), she reaches out to her estranged father Wyatt (Rusty Whitener), a farmer, to take in the troubled boy. Wyatt is a good man but set in his ways, and Jackson resists Wyatt’s attempts to instill in him the virtues of hard work and his Christian values. Gradually, they form a bond that will require Jackson to find an inner strength he never knew he had to avert yet another family tragedy.
LONDON BOULEVARD – Sony
The directorial debut of William Monahan, the Oscar®-winning screenwriter of The Departed, London Boulevard follows an ex-con trying to make a fresh start in a relationship with a reclusive actress. A sexy, stylish gangster thriller bristling with wit and brutal intrigue, London Boulevard stars Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley as star-crossed lovers who run afoul of one of London’s most vicious crime bosses.
FORT APACHE – Warner
After the American Civil War, highly-respected veteran Captain Kirby York (John Wayne) is expected to replace the outgoing commander at Fort Apache, an isolated U.S. cavalry post. York had commanded his own regiment during the Civil War and was well-qualified to assume permanent command. To the surprise and disappointment of the company, command of the regiment was given to Lieutenant Colonel Owen Thursday (Henry Fonda). Thursday, a West Point graduate, was a general during the Civil War. Despite his Civil War combat record, Lieutenant Colonel Thursday lacks experience with the Indians he is expected to oversee, and is an arrogant and egocentric officer. Accompanying widower Thursday is his daughter, Philadelphia (Shirley Temple). She becomes attracted to Second Lieutenant Michael Shannon O’Rourke (John Agar), the son of Sergeant Major Michael O’Rourke (Ward Bond). The elder O’Rourke was a recipient of the Medal of Honor as a major with the Irish Brigade during the Civil War, entitling his son to enter West Point and become an officer. However, the class-conscious Thursday forbids his daughter to see someone he does not consider a gentleman.
UNFORGIVEN – Warner
Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman play retired, down-on-their-luck outlaws who pick up their guns one last time to collect a bounty offered by the vengeful prostitutes of the remote Wyoming town of Big Whiskey. Richard Harris is an ill-fated interloper, a colorful killer-for-hire called English Bob. And Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Gene Hackman is the sly and brutal local sheriff whose brand of law enforcement ranges from unconventional to ruthless.
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