Nick’s Picks 03/13/13
FEATURE FILM REVIEW
Starring: James Franco
and Michelle Williams
Directed by Sam Raimi
When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking-that is until he meets three witches who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late.
This Oz doesn’t have much heart or wonder, but with appealing characters, terrific actors and colorful action, it’s an entertaining fantasy for the moment. The wizard may not be wonderful enough to warrant a film of his own but the sidekicks and special effects make Disney’s much-anticipated prequel a solidly entertaining, if not quite magical, family adventure.
FREE DVD GIVEAWAY
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of Black Eagle, Doctor Who: The Ark in Space, Doctor Who: The Aztecs, Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead, My Worst Nightmare, Female Teacher: In Front of the Students, Fairy in a Cage, The Wages of Sin are Deadly, The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp: Season Two or Pressed: There is No Such Thing as Easy Money, 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!
BLACK EAGLE – CJ Entertainment
After pulling a dangerous, daredevil stunt at an air show, hotshot elite Air Force pilot Tae-hun (Jung Ji-hoon, aka Rain, Ninja Assassin, Speed Racer) is kicked off the military s top-notch Black Eagle air team and demoted into combat. Arriving at his new unit, the talented but reckless fighter is quickly popular with the majority of the squad, even sparking a heated romance with the lovely Se-yeong, the wing s best technician, whose faulty hearing is the only thing keeping her out of the air. But Tae-hun s brash ways soon cause tension with the unit s own ace top gun, the strait-laced Cheol-hui (Yu Jun-sang, In Another Country, The Day He Arrives). When a North Korean MIG fighter enters their air space, a reconnaissance mission erupts into a fierce dogfight, leaving one team member dead and another missing. Now, with just minutes to pull off the biggest airborne mission in history, they must set aside their differences and lead the way to rescue their comrade and prevent war.
DOCTOR WHO: The Arc in Space – BBC
The TARDIS lands on a space station orbiting the earth in the distant future. It’s seemingly deserted, but the Doctor, Sarah and Harry soon discover that they are not alone. Thousands of humans – the only survivors of the human race – are in cryogenic sleep, and while they’ve slept their Ark has been invaded. A parasitic insect race – the Wirrn – have taken control and threaten the very future of mankind.
DOCTOR WHO: The Aztecs – BBC
The Aztecs is the first Doctor Who DVD devoted to the long-running British science fiction television series’ initial season (1963-64), so it should be a valuable addition to any fan’s collection. It’s also a very enjoyable historical drama that pits the Doctor against flesh-and-blood antagonists rather than aliens or robots. In the four-part serial, the Doctor (William Hartnell), his granddaughter Susan, and her teachers Barbara and Ian find themselves in Mexico during the height of the Aztec civilization. There, Barbara is mistaken for the reincarnation of a dead priestess, and she decides to use the ruse to put an end to the Aztecs’ human sacrifices.
MIMESIS: NIght of the Living Dead – Anchor Bay
A group of horror fans find themselves unwilling participants in a nightmarish role playing game that pays homage to a classic horror film. Seven complete strangers whose only common link is a love for classic era horror films are invited to attend an exclusive ‘horror fan’ party at a remote farm. But as the sun sets, these strangers soon find themselves living a real life version of the cult horror classic, Night of the Living Dead. The strangers all bare a striking resemblance to the cast members from the Romero classic and waiting just outside the boarded up farmhouses, a group of demented sociopaths eager to ‘mimic’ the flesh eating zombies. Why watch a horror film when you can live one?
MY WORST NIGHTMARE – Strand Releasing
Agathe (Isabelle Huppert) is an uptight, impatient art dealer who lives in an expensive Parisian apartment with her wealthy publisher husband (Andre Dussollier). Patrick (Benoit Poelvoorde) is a skirt-chasing, unemployed single father who lives in his van with his son. Their lives would never intersect except that their two sons are best of friends and her husband has hired Patrick to remodel their apartment. Hilarity ensues as this odd couple relationship turns into Agathe s worst nightmare. Huppert shines in an absolutely brilliant performance!
THE WAGES OF SIN ARE DEADLY – Green Apple
David begins experiencing cloudy memories of a long-lost life, a murderous existence before he moved to America, where an accident took his memory and his sight. Under the wing of Don Michele, he was a chosen son of the violent, Sicilian Cortello family – a family he ultimately betrayed. Now fleeing his ruthless New York City mafiosa existence as part of the family overseen by the irrational and explosive Don Federico, his half-brother who is unbeknownst to him, David embarks on a journey back to his Italian origins. Enroute on a train, he encounters a mysterious woman, as well as Father Leonard (Danny Glover), who senses that they all have a connection and that David has a past that weighs heavily on his mind. But the priest has secrets of his own, having long-ago murdered the notorious Williams (Steven Bauer). As Don Federico also sets out for Sicily, each of their paths are destined to cross in bloody confrontation, an atonement of long-ago sins.
THE LIFE & LEGEND OF WYATT EARP: Season Two – Inception
The most celebrated lawman of the Old West rides again in season two of one of TV s most popular and iconic series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-1961). Hugh O Brian stars as the famed marshal whose exploits with Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson and the Clanton Gang are boldly brought to life in episodes based on actual historical events. With his signature Buntline Special in hand, Wyatt Earp ruled a series of increasingly lawless towns, battling dangerous men in an effort to keep the peace. Through Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City and Tombstone, Earp s reputation grows as a just and formidable marshal, culminating in a gunfight that seals his legend.
PRESSED – Inception
Brian is desperately trying to seek a “quick fix” business deal that will put him back on top financially after being let go from his executive position at one of the top investment firms. Brian decides to go “all in”, investing the rest of his savings into a short-term drug deal that would allow him to preserve his high-end life style. When two recluse teenagers unknowingly intercept the illicit drug money hidden in the back seat of a car, Brian s deal is botched. He soon finds himself in a desperate situation as he owes a merciless drug lord the missing money. At the same time the teenagers learn that they’ve stolen from the wrong people. What follows is a twisted tale of greed, deceit, murder and wealth. In this Crime-thriller, three relationships collide in a fantastic saga where only one will get out alive.
CURIOUS GEORGE SWINGS INTO SPRING – Universal
You know it must be springtime if a curious monkey named George is dancing on the balcony at sunrise! George is so excited about Spring that he wants Hundley to have Spring Fever too. But even blooming flowers, baby animals and canoe rides cannot make Hundley love Spring. Even worse, Hundley gets lost in the country. Searching for his lost friend, George accidentally launches the hot air balloon rally and sails over the countryside. Luckily he manages to grab Hundley from a hilltop along the way. Together they return triumphantly to the city. The Man with the Yellow Hat, the Doorman and Lydia stage a daring rooftop balloon rescue. Not only are George and Hundley saved, but they manage to win the coveted Spring Building Prize! Finally, to George’s delight, now Hundley has Spring Fever too!
SHAMAN HEALER SAGE – True Mind
Shaman Healer Sage tells the story of Alberto Villoldo Ph.D. an extraordinary man who transitioned from a career in modern medical science to one that uses a deep knowledge and understanding of the ancient energy medicine of the legendary Inka and Q’ero shamans of South America. The film is an exploration into the mysteries of life culminating with the deepest mystery of all – death – in which Villoldo shows us how to deal with our own mortality and that of our loved ones.
MAX & RUBY: A Bunny for Every Season – Nickelodeon
Follow these bunny siblings and their take on popular fairy tales in Max & Ruby: A Bunny for Every Season. Join Max, Ruby and their buddies as they welcome the Spring in four spirited episodes that are perfect for the entire family!
ZOMBIE UNDEAD – MVD
A terrorist detonates a dirty bomb in the heart of a densely-populated city, unleashing a gruesome zombie plague that spreads like wildfire. Sarah’s father was bleeding out, and she knew he would die if she didn’t get him to a hospital fast. The scene that greets them on arrival is one of chaos. The floor, awash with blood, is covered with the bodies of the dying and injured, doctors dart back and forth, clearly overwhelmed. Sarah stumbles back and her world fades to black. Upon regaining consciousness she is greeted by the uneasy silence of a seemingly deserted building. THE CARETAKER – MVD As a wave of vampirism sweeps across the world, a small but discordant group hole up in a rural house. There, they discover a vampire has also taken refuge. He offers them a deal: if they protect him during the day, he”ll protect them from other vampires at night. So begins an uneasy alliance which soon threatens to tear apart.
GREAT LEADERS OF THE BIBLE – VCI
From the book of Judges come the inspiring stories of two heroes, Gideon and Samson, banded together to bridge the centuries of Biblical history. Beginning with the story of Gideon, a man is instructed by God to go forth and save Israel from the hands of the Midianites. The Lord instructs Gideon to pull down the altar of the idol god Baal. But in order to know the prefect will of God, Gideon places a fleece of wool before the Lord. Full of faith, he takes 300 men and rises against the Midianites, bringing peace and rest to the land of Israel for forty years. Samson, from birth, was a Nazarite of God. Gifting him with the strength of an army, strength derived from his hair, God uses both the strength and weaknesses of Samson to deliver Israel from the Philistines. Temptation to the fruits of the beautiful Philistine girls results in Samson’s destruction of the Philistines crops, and the slaughter of one thousand Philistine soldiers. Terrorized by the strength of Samson, the Philistines hire a girl, Delilah, to seduce him and discover the source of his strength. She finally succeeds and Samson’s hair is sheared. He is turned over to the Philistines. In time his hair begins to grow and the strength of the Lord returns to him.
JACOB THE MAN WHO FOUGHT WITH GOD – VCI
This moving film shows Jacob’s struggle to receive his father’s blessing. Esau and Jacob were born to Isaac and Rebekah. As firstborn son, Esau was destined to become head of the family and inherit a double share of the estate. Before his death, Isaac was to place his blessings upon each son, when Rebekah heard that Isaac was going to bless Esau, she took matters into her own hands and devised a plan to trick Isaac, who was blind, into blessing Jacob instead. Jacob obeys his mother and receives the blessings but is forced to flee for his life when an enraged Esau vows to kill him. Jacob seeks refuge in the homeland of his mother’s brother Leban. He marries Leban’s daughters, rears a family and works for his father-in-law tending sheep. Soon, Jacob loses favor with his father-in-law and God tells him to return to the land of his father. Fearing a confrontation with his brother Esau, he nervously prepares for the reunion with his brother.
BESTIAIRE – Zeitgeist
Fascinating and beguiling, Bestiaire is filmmaker Denis Cote’s mesmerizing meditation on the relationships between animals and people through the seasons at a Quebec safari park. This strikingly gorgeous work about the act of looking slyly blurs the line between observer and observed (the film opens with art students sketching taxidermied creatures). And despite lack of a traditional narrative, there is dramatic tension in each exquisitely framed shot: a cage door under attack from a growling lion; the scurrying striped legs of zebras in a pen; the long stare of a bull, straight into camera. Contemplative and enthralling, Bestiaire is cinema at its purest.
RISE OF THE GUARDIANS – Dreamworks
Rise of the Guardians is a gorgeously animated film about Boogeyman Pitch Black’s attempts to spread darkness and fear throughout the world and the guardians’ attempts to foil him. Charged with the duty of watching over the children of the world, guardians Sandman, North, Tooth, and E. Aster Bunnymund are loved by children everywhere. When the Man in the Moon appoints Jack Frost to be the newest guardian, the other guardians doubt that Jack can be of much help against Pitch, especially considering that the children don’t even believe in Jack Frost’s existence. But when Pitch prevents Tooth from collecting the children’s teeth, keeps E. Aster Bunnymund from hiding eggs on Easter, and turns the children’s happy dreams into nightmares, the guardians realize that they’re going to need all the help they can get.
RED DAWN – Fox
Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, and Isabel Lucas deliver a full arsenal of pulse-pounding excitement in this explosive action-adventure! The unsuspecting citizens of Spokane, Washington, wake up one morning to the shocking sight of foreign paratroopers dropping from the sky in a surprise attack on the United States. Soon the entire city is under enemy control, but a group of courageous teenagers has decided to fight back, by waging an all-out war against the invaders, to take back their town – and their freedom!
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET COLLECTION – Warner
In the trinity of modern horror films, there’s the father (Michael Myers of Halloween), the son (Jason of Friday the13th fame, a knockoff), and the unholy spirit, Freddy Krueger of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. The spectral man who haunted the nightmares of unsuspecting teenagers with deadly consequences, Freddy (as played by Robert Englund) was a truly frightening bogeyman and icon for the ’80s. Unlike the hockey-masked Jason, who dispatched horny teenagers with mechanical and monotonous ease (he never talked, never took off his mask), Freddy was a truly creative and diabolical villain, with a sadistic and blackly funny personality. The hallmarks of the Nightmare on Elm Street series were imaginatively gruesome suspense pieces, set in the overactive imaginations of the teen victims. The first film of the series, Wes Craven’s truly intelligent and scary film, was so hugely successful it begat not one, not two, but six more sequels, each pretty much diluting the originality and horror of its predecesor.
BEYOND THE CLOUDS – Olive Films
Legendary directors Michelangelo Antonioni (L’avventura) and Wim Wenders teamed up to create this modern masterpiece. “Beyond the Clouds” Told from the dreamlike perspective of a wandering film director, the movie weaves four stories of love and lust, inspired by Antonioni’s book about enigmatic, unrequited or unresolved relationships. Set in several beautiful European locales such as Portofino and Paris, the film uses striking compositions, sensuous shots of lovely nudes and a moving musical score to create a radiant meditation on love and desire. The film features music from Van Morrison, U2, and Brian Eno and boasts an eclectic international cast including John Malkovich, Sophie Marceau, Irene Jacob, Jean Reno, Peter Weller, Vincent Perez, Fanny Ardant and special appearances by screen legends Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau.
HIPSTERS – Kino Lorber
While the Cold War heats up on the world stage, rebellious youth in 1955 Moscow wage a cultural battle against dismal Soviet conformity, donning brightly colored black-market clothing, adopting American nicknames and reveling in forbidden jazz. Straight-laced 20-year-old Communist Mels finds these brazen ‘hipsters’ shocking until he falls under the spell of one, namely Polly, and joins the new revolution. Soon he’s become one of them, cavorting in the latest flashy fashions, sporting an enormous pompadour and wailing on the saxophone.
REDEMPTION: Oasis of the Zombies – Kino Lorber
Robert, a student at an English university, receives word of his father’s unexpected death and returns home to Africa. While reading his father’s dairies, Robert learns of the obsession that led to his death: $6,000,000 in Nazi gold that remains buried at an oasis in the Sahara desert, protected by the restless, rotting souls who died protecting it. Using his inheritance, Robert bands together with three fellow students to wrest the unclaimed fortune from the dunes of the dead!
REDEMPTION: Zombie Lake – Kino Lorber
In a small lakeside town, young women are disappearing without a trace. The superstitious locals blame ”The Lake of Ghosts”, because of the lake’s haunting past, but the town’s mayor (Howard Vernon) seems reluctant, or powerless to take any action. When another woman is found dead near the lake, with her throat ripped out, a reporter comes to town and soon discovers that the lake harbors a terrible secret dating back to World War II. It is then a group of local Resistance fighters take action against a troop of Nazi zombie soldiers invading their town, as they have come back from the dead. And now, whenever the waters at Zombie Lake are disturbed, the dead will rise!
LADY FOR A NIGHT – Olive Films
The unlikely combination of John Wayne and Joan Blondell adds a bit of vinegar and spice to this wonderful costume comedy-drama. Jenny Blake (Blondell) is the beautiful owner of a riverboat casino, but she aspires to a life in high society. Jack Morgan (Wayne) is her business partner and influential political boss – the two are in love, but Jenny decides to leave him and the business so she could marry socialite Alan Alderson (Ray Middleton) for prestige and in return she forgives Alan’s gambling debts and pays off the back taxes of his family’s once-grand mansion and plantation. Her new in-laws are infuriated by this marriage of convenience, and do everything in their power to ruin Jenny in the eyes of society.
THE RED MENACE – Olive Films
Taken seriously by only a few, The Red Menace still caused a sensation with its anti-Communist propaganda. When a disgruntled ex-soldier (Robert Rockwell) gets no help from the Veteran’s Bureau, he is ripe for the influences of Communists who lead him down the party line. But he soon meets up with disillusioned party members who attempt to break out. “Are you now, or have you ever been?” Fear of Communism, ultimately brought to a peak by the McCarthy Hearings, swept post-war America. A divided Hollywood scurried to pledge their allegiance – and cash in on the furor.
YOU’VE BEEN TRUMPED – Docurama
In this David and Goliath tale, a group of proud Scottish homeowners take on Donald Trump as he gets set to destroy the crown jewels of Scotland s national heritage in order to build a luxury golf resort. The local residents make their last stand in the face of police harassment, constant legal threats and interruption of their water and electricity. Director Anthony Baxter himself becomes international news after being thrown in jail.
The film captures the cultural chasm between the glamorous, jet-setting and media savvy Donald Trump and a deeply rooted Scottish community. For the tycoon, the golf course is just another deal, with a possible billion-dollar payoff. For the residents, it represents the destruction of a globally unique landscape that has been the backdrop of their lives. At turns funny, inspiring and heartbreaking, You’ve Been Trumped is both an entertaining, can’t believe it’s true tale and an environmental parable for our celebrity-driven times.
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