Nick’s Picks 03/21/12
FEATURE FILM REVIEW
The Hunger Games
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains.
Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
The Hunger Games
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence & Woody Harrelson
Director: Gary Ross
Now Showing: In Local Area Theatres
MPAA Rating: PG-13
FREE DVD GIVEAWAY
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of Mister Rogers and Me, Finders Keepers, MI-5: Season Ten, Strawberry Shortcake Bloomin’ Berry Garden, Doctor Who: The Face of Evil, Doctor Who: The Robots of Death, Doctor Who: The Three Doctors, Doctor Who: The Tomb of the Cybermen, Tooth Fairy 2, Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Brick Road, Elmo’s Learning Adventure: Triple Feature, Splintered, Blade of Kings, Transformers Prime: Season One, Mission Impossible: 1989 Season or Immortals, 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!
TALE OF THE MUMMY – Echo Bridge
When an archaeological expedition opens an ancient Egyptian tomb, the unimaginable evil of a cursed pharaoh—Talos—is unleashed! But before all are lost, team leader Sir Richard Turkel (Christopher Lee) heroically sacrifices his own life to destroy the tomb and contain Talos once more. Then, years later, Sir Richard’s granddaughter (Louise Lombard) sets out with her own team to finish her grandfather’s work…not knowing that she herself is about to reawaken the supernatural terror of the mummified Talos. Also starring action star Jason Scott Lee, the heart-pounder Russell Mulcahy s Tale of the Mummy tells us that this time, there may be nothing that can stop the mummy’s murderous quest for immortality.
GHOST ENCOUNTERS THE QUEEN MARY – Echo Bridge
The famously haunted Queen Mary ocean liner is said to be home to 600 active ghosts. Determined to explore this eerie environment to its fullest, renowned psychic and paranormal investigator Peter James summons spirits and explores the various supernatural experiences described on the ship. Co-hosted by modern witchcraft expert and best-selling author Fiona Horne with guest appearances by Debra Wilson and radio host, Frank Sontag.
JEREMY FINK & THE MEANING OF LIFE – Phase 4
A month before his 13th birthday, Jeremy Fink receives a mysterious wooden box in the mail with the words The Meaning of Life – for Jeremy Fink to open on his 13th birthday. It has four locks, but the keys are lost. In order to find out what secrets lie within the box it is up to Jeremy and his best friend Lizzy to use their imaginations to search high and low throughout Manhattan for clues. Their adventure takes them from flea markets to science museums meeting wacky and interesting characters along the way. Each encounter unlocks a clue to bring them closer to finding out the contents of the box and ultimately discovering the greatest secret of them all. Based on the beloved book by Wendy Mass.
MI-5: Volume 10 – BBC
The final season of the hugely successful, long-running drama introduces a host of new characters. There’s Beth Bailey, a brilliant ex-mercenary who was posing as an Eastern European prostitute when she runs into the team. Dimitri, an ex officer in British Special Forces has been recruited for his skills in fighting terrorism on the front line. Funny and warm, his approach to being a spy is much more relaxed than Lucas. And finally, data analyst Tariq has been fast-tracked through the system. Young, bright and keen, he’s a true computer whizz and what he lacks in experience, he makes up for with natural brilliance. Meanwhile the usually calm, confident Harry is caught in a difficult position when he is forced to work closely with the Russians. Relations between the CIA and MI5 reach breaking point over mysterious hackers. And a horrific truth about Lucas’ past is uncovered by Harry when they come face to face in a compelling interrogation. Friendships are tested to the limit, Harry and Ruth’s bond intensifies and the depth of deceit leads to the ultimate game of cat and mouse.
BELLISSIMA – E1 Entertainment
Anna Magnani stars as a screen-struck mother, convinced that her daughter’s star potential is her ticket to a better life, in a performance that Hollywood legend Bette Davis called “brilliant, uninhibited and full of volcanic, earthy power.” Risking everything in pursuit of her dream, Maddalena (Magnani) finally arranges a screen test for her child, only to realize the cruel reality beneath the shimmering veneer of the filmmaking industry.
LA TERRA TREMA – E1 Entertainment
In the poor Sicilian village of Aci Trezza the fisherman have been exploited for generations. Tired of the endless cycle of poverty, a young soldier returns home from war and convinces his family to strike out on their own. Tragically, his plan to change the system is met with a cruel blow that pushes them even further under water. Shot on location with non-professionalactors, Luchino Visconti’s haunting second film remains a masterpiece of Italian cinema as well as a ‘landmark Neorealist work’.
ABSENTIA – Phase 4
Tricia’s husband has been missing for seven years. Her younger sister Callie comes to live with her as the pressure mounts to finally declare him ‘dead in absentia.’ As Tricia sifts through the wreckage and tries to move on with her life, Callie finds herself drawn to an ominous tunnel near the house. As she begins to link it to other mysterious disappearances, she comes to the realization that his presumed death might be anything but ‘natural.’ Soon it becomes clear that the ghostly force at work in the tunnel might have set its sights on Callie and Tricia too.
TRIAD TRILOGY – Palisades Tartan
Jimmy (Louis Koo) decides he’d rather go straight than follow mob boss Lok (Simon Yam) as the head of a notorious Triad gang. With the most qualified candidate out of the race, Lok attempts to hold onto power by pitting his would-be successors against one another in a “Triad Election” (2006), but the government has a plan to blackmail Jimmy and make him return to the brutal campaign. Hong Kong crime thriller co-stars Nick Cheung, Ka Tung Lam. Also includes “Triad Underworld” and “Election” (2005).
DOCTOR WHO: The Robots of Death – BBC
Trapped aboard an orbiting “factory ship,” the Doctor (Tom Baker) and companion Leela are accused of murder and uncover the plans for a rebellion of robots. Tom Baker stars in one of the more fascinating of the fourth Doctor’s series.
DOCTOR WHO: The Face of Evil – BBC
Doctor Who: The Face of Evil introduced one of the most unusual of the time traveler’s companions: Leela (Louise Jameson), an intelligent but savage woman from a jungle planet, a fierce fighter who looked good in a skimpy leather outfit. The Doctor (Tom Baker) finds himself caught between two tribes, one primitive and physical, the other effete and possessed of mental powers. Leela, who’s been cast out of the primitive tribe for heresy, teams up with the Doctor as he discovers his face carved in stone on a mountainside–and realizes that the root of the problem may be his own past actions. Though the sets, special effects, and a few plot turns of The Face of Evil require some suspension of disbelief, this story has fantastic elements: the roaring invisible monsters (which may have inspired the similar monster on Lost), the rituals of the two tribes, the Doctor’s confrontation with a computer with a split personality, and Leela herself. But above all is Baker, one of the all-time greatest Doctors.
DOCTOR WHO: The Three Doctors – BBC
When the renegade Time Lord known as Omega attempts to escape from theanti-matter universe he resides in, it requires the combined efforts of Doctors Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton, and William Hartnell to save the day in the show’s 10th anniversary saga.
DOCTOR WHO: The Tomb of the Cybermen – BBC
Aided by his two assistants Jamie and Victoria, the Doctor lands the TARDIS on Telos, last resting place of the infamous Cybermen. There he discovers a band of archaeologists on a secret expedition to unearth the reason for his old enemies’ extinction. In the underground shadowy depths, they find the icy tomb. A whole army in hibernation. A threat to no one, if the temperature remains low. But if the traitor in their midst gets his way, things could really heat up. Originally broadcast in 1967 and then lost, this unique four part adventure starring Patrick Troughton – the Doctor’s 2nd incarnation – was only recently discovered. It is now available for the first time on this special BBC Video which includes an exclusive interview with director Morris Barry.
BATTLE ROYALE: Complete Collection – Anchor Bay
In 2000, director Kinji Fukasaku unleashed Battle Royale, his violently poetic epic about an innocent group of Junior High students forced by the government to hunt and kill their classmates for sport. It was nominated for 10 Japanese Academy Awards, launched a global phenomenon, and banned from screens by frightened civic groups and distributors across America. Three years later, the equally disturbing sequel — featuring a new class, new rules, and a brutal terrorist plot by the first film’s young survivors — triggered its own tragic firestorm around the world. Now for the first time ever, you can see it all: Experience the entire Battle Royale saga on 4 discs — including more than 3 hours of definitive Special Features — that forever blasts open one of the most potent, shocking and savagely influential sagas in motion picture history.
TOOTH FAIRY 2 – Fox
In-name-only sequel stars Larry the Cable Guy as Larry Guthrie, a fun-loving dude eager to win back the heart of would-be love Brooke. After upsetting a child with a loose tooth at the afterschool program where his dream girl works, he is punished by having to become a real-life Tooth Fairy. Dressed in pink tights and ballet shoes, will Larry be able to carry out his tooth-collecting duties and reconcile with Brooke?
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE: Bloomin’ Berry Garden – Fox
The Spring Flower Festival is coming! In this colorful adventure, Strawberry Shortcake and her pals are shrunken by magic sparkles that make the Berrykins grow extra tall. Even with this surprising turn of events, everyone finds that there’s a bright side to life.
MONSENOR: The Last Journey of Oscar Romero – First Run Features
In El Salvador in the late Seventies, one man was the voice of the campesinos, the poor, the disenfranchised, and the Disappeared — all struggling under the corrupt Salvadoran government. Appointed Archbishop in early 1977, Monsenor Oscar Romero worked tirelessly and in constant personal peril until the day he was assassinated in March 1980. Inspired by his friend Monsenor Rutilio Grande, himself murdered for speaking out against the social injustice around him, Romero broke off ties with the military and aligned himself with the poor, delivering messages of hope in weekly sermons which became national events. Encouraging direct action against oppression from his unique position in the Catholic Church, Romero preached a gospel of Heaven on Earth and a powerful version of Liberation Theology that directly impacted political events in El Salvador that still have meaning to this day. With rare recordings and film footage from Romero’s own collection and a wide range of interviews from those whose lives were changed by Archbishop Romero, including church activists, human rights lawyers, former guerrilla fighters and politicians, Monsenor: The Last Journey of Oscar Romero is a timely portrait of one individual’s quest to speak truth to the rich and powerful forces which dominated his government.
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE: Berry Brick Road – Fox
There’s no place like home for the little ones to enjoy this adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” starring Strawberry Shortcake in the Dorothy role. Taken to Oz by a tornado, Strawberry meets a scarecrow, tin woodsgirl, and cowardly lion (who look a lot like Ginger Snap, Peppermint Fizz, and Orange Blossom!)…and a nasty witch.
SPLINTERED – Well Go USA
Somewhere prowling in the darkest corner of a desolate, abandoned building on the edge of a wilderness is a dangerous animal. It’s a human animal that lives by the rules of the wild, where survival is the only concern. This creature of the night uses cunning and instinct to hunt and kill for pleasure. He has no qualms about his actions; he lives by his desires and he’ll take what he wants. Sophie, a teenager with a troubled past, strays into the abandoned building on a dare. She discovers what it’s like to become the object of this animal’s obsessive desire when she’s locked in an isolated room, where no one can hear her screams. In the night, sitting in the pitch black, waiting for the inevitable, Sophie is terrified by the the obsessive stare through the skylight of the impromptu jail. Daylight brings Gavin. He keeps the animal at bay as best he can. A protector of sorts, but a protector who also keeps her locked away. What bizarre relationship does this self appointed jailer have with the elusive prowling creature beyond the door? Sophie’s attempts at escape repeatedly end in failure, but she clings to the hope that she will be rescued by her friends, despite her fears of what might happen to them, if they come too close to the vicious animal?
BLADE OF KINGS – Well Go USA
In the mythical land of Huadu, Charcoal Head, a humble boy born to rule an empire must undertake his journey to claim his throne. It is an epic action adventure combining romance, fantasy, comedy and cutting edge Hong Kong style martial artistry.
IN THE GARDEN OF SOUNDS – First Run Features
Deprived of his sight at an early age, Wolfgang Fasser turns to his ears for access to a world he once feared would be closed off forever. Awed by the restorative powers of sound, Fasser established a physical therapy retreat for disabled children where they use music and noise to communicate with others and gain control of their own bodies. As they embrace the physicality of sonic vibrations, the children’s bodies slowly begin to move in harmony with the world around them: waves of sound enliven the comatose and soothe the anguished. This film is a sensorial treat. Images of the remote Italian countryside and mesmerizing sound design offer something profound; In the Garden of Sounds is very nearly tactile, drawing us into an experience where sound, vision, and touch become one.
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) not only to help keep their secret but also to defeat the sinister Decepticons once and for all!
IMMORTALS – Fox
Immortals explodes off the screen with action-packed battles, mythological adventure and an all-star cast. In this epic tale of vengeance and destiny, power-mad King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) threatens to destroy all of humanity on his maniacal quest to obtain the ultimate weapon – the legendary Epirus Bow that gives the power to unleash war on both Heaven and Earth. But Theseus (Henry Cavill), a heroic young villager chosen by the gods, rises up to stop Hyperion’s brutal rampage. With supernatural help from the beautiful oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto), Theseus embraces his destiny and leads a fierce band of warriors in a desperate fight for the future of mankind.
GAINSBOURG – Music Box
Taking the best from La Vie En Rose and Amelie, renowned comic book artist Joann Sfar s Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is a completely original take on one of France s greatest mavericks, the illustrious and infamous Jewish singer-songwriter, Serge Gainsbourg (Eric Elmosnino). Born Lucien Ginsburg to Russian-Jewish parents, Sfar follows him from his precocious childhood in Nazi-occupied Paris, to his beginnings as small time jazz musician and finally pop superstar. Along the way he romances many of the era s most beautiful women, including Juliette Greco (Anna Mouglalis), Brigitte Bardot (Laetitia Casta) and Jane Birkin (Lucy Gordon). Employing a witty surrealistic style and a soundtrack that includes many of the musician s greatest hits, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is a quintessential time capsule to 60′s Paris.
THE WOMEN ON THE 6th FLOOR – Strand Releasing
Paris, 1960. Jean-Louis lives a bourgeois existence absorbed in his work, cohabitating peacefully with his neurotic socialite wife Suzanne while their children are away at boarding school. The couple s world is turned upside-down when they hire a Spanish maid María. Through María, Jean-Louis is introduced to an alternative reality just a few floors up on the building s sixth floor, the servants quarters. He befriends a group of sassy Spanish maids, refugees of the Franco regime, who teach him there s more to life than stocks and bonds, and whose influence on the house will ultimately transform everyone s life.
LITTLE GIRL – First Run Features
Bathed in the neorealist tradition of Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica, Little Girl (“La Pivellina”) is a captivating tale of people at the margins of society who open their hearts to a stranger. In a run-down park on the outskirts of Rome, a two year-old girl is discovered and taken in by a family of hard-luck circus performers. A note in the child’s pocket from a desperate mother reveals little about who she is or why she was left. As the bond grows between the girl and her surrogate family, this naturalistic drama becomes a revealing and soulful portrait of courage and discrimination, and of loss and togetherness.
TELSTAR – Inception
Set against the backdrop of hedonistic, swinging, early 60s London, Telstar shares the stranger-than-fiction true story of Joe Meek (Con O Neill, who originated the role on London stage). An enormously talented but quirky maverick, Meek revolutionized British pop, enjoying enormous success early on with the biggest selling record of its time, Telstar, the first U.K. album to hit #1 on American charts. But the flamboyant, tone-deaf songwriter was also a deeply troubled soul dabbling in the occult and addicted to amphetamines and his decline was as meteoric and spectacular as his rise.
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