VIDEO ROOM

Video Room has been serving the Piedmont Avenue neighborhood since 1988. We carry a large selection of movies on DVD and have an ever growing Blu-ray library. We specialize in hard-to-find and obscure cult classics, TV shows, foreign cinema, and film noir, in addition to the latest new releases. Check out our large Directors section and offbeat categories that make us unique. Kids and dogs are welcome. Senior discounts available. We do same day reservations. Free parking.

New Winter Hours:

Sunday-Thurday, 12pm-8pm
Friday, 12pm-9pm

Saturday, 10am-9pm

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info @ videoroomoakland.com

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Monday, April 21, 2014

New Releases - April 22, 2014

DVDs:

Address, The [A Ken Burns Film] [In this PBS documentary, Burns follows a group of boys 11 to 17 with various learning disabilities in Putney, Vermont who have to learn to memorize the Gettysburg Address over a 3 month period. 2014. Unrated. 90 minutes.]

Big Bad Wolves [Chilling Jewish film noir serial killer thriller with 3 men on a collision course: the vengeful father of the most recent victim, a rogue cop trying to catch the killer outside the law, and the religious studies teacher suspect who was let loose on a technicality. Directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushadu. Starring Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tzai Grad, and Ami Weinberg. 2013. Unrated. 110 minutes.]

Farewell to Fools, A [Dark war comedy Belgian-German-Romanian co-production about a small Nazi occupied village in Romania where a boy finds the body of a soldier. When the Nazis threaten to kill the town leaders if the killer is not found in a day, the leaders decide to convince the town fool (Gerard Depardieu) to confess and save their lives. Things do not go as planned. Harvey Keitel, Laura Morante, Bogdan Iancu, Adina Cartianu, Daniella Nane, and Gabriella Baluta also star.  Directed by Bogdan Dryer. 2013. Rated PG-13. 85 minutes.]

La Maison de la Radio [Nicolas Philibert (In the Land of the deaf) directed this vibrant documentary about Radio France, their equivalent of NPR and the BBC. Hosts, producers, and journalists are interviwed. 2013. Unrated. 99 minues.]

Trials of Muhammad Ali, The [This engrossing documentary not only covers the legal battle to overturn the famous boxer's 5 year prison sentence for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, it also explores his controversial life outside sports as he becomes a Muslim, changes his name, and becomes a vocal advocate for equality and against the war.  Bill Siegel (Hoop Dreams, The Weather Underground) directed. Footage of Eamonn Andrews, David Susskind, George W. Bush, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, Gordon B. Davidson, Alberta Jones and many others is included along with new interviews.  2013. Unrated. 86 minutes.]

Notes by manager Steven Y. Mori.

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Releases - April 15, 2014

Blu-rays:

Invisible Woman, The [2013] [Actor Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, The Grand Budapest Hotel) followed up his impressive feature film directing debut Coriolanus with this equally excellent drama playing writer Charles Dickens at the height of his career. Dickens, the demanding and difficult but brilliant author of such classics as Great Expectations and Oliver Twist, meets a young beauty (played by Felicity Jones) and falls in love with her, propelling him into a passionate but covert affair that would last until his death. Although it was only nominated for one Oscar (Best Costume Design), this sumptuous true period romance landed on many top ten lists and was nominated for several other prestigious awards. Both Fiennes and Jones give sterling performances. Kristin Scott Thomas and Tom Hollander also star. 2013. Rated R. 111 minutes. Box Office: $2 million.]

Philomena [Heartwarming true story with a great performance by Judi Dench (Skyfall, Notes on a Scandal) as a woman who had a child as a young woman and had to give him up for adoption when she was forced to live in a convent. Fifty-nine years later, she goes on a difficult hunt for her with a cynical ex-BBC journalist played by Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge, Tropic Thunder), who also co-wrote and produced the acclaimed dramedy. Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity) directed this hit, which is one of his most accessible films. The film was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Actress and Adapted Screenplay. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 98 minutes. Box Office: $38 million.]

Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The [2013] [Ben Stiller (Zoolander, Tropic Thunder) directed this underrated big budget epic remake of the classic Danny Kaye comedy. Stiller also plays the title character, a meek man who spends most of his routine life daydreaming about being the star in his own exciting adventurous and romantic personal movie. However, when he finds out that his job and his co-worker's job are threatened, he goes on a real-life globe-trotting adventure that fulfills his destiny. Stiller is at his best in this funny and clever re-working of the famous James Thurber story. In a clever touch, Stiller/Mitty works for "Life" magazine. As a director, he does a terrific job of turning the fanciful but difficult to adapt tale (the film has been in the works for years with Jim Carrey and Mike Myers previously attached to do the lead at various times) into a stunning big screen reality.  The fine supporting cast is also stellar: Kristin Wiig, Sean Penn, Shirley Maclaine, Adam Scott, and Kathryn Hahn. If you enjoy your romantic comedies with a touch of fantasy, you should check this out. Highly Recommended! Rated PG. 114 minutes. Box Office: $59 million.] 

DVDs:

Better Living Through Chemistry [Bay Area native Sam Rockwell (Moon, Iron Man 2) stars in this hilariously dark romantic comedy as a boring pharmacist with a harpy wife (played by True Detective's Michelle Monaghan) whose life is turned upside down when he meets a sexy trophy wife customer (super hot Olivia Wilde) and begins an affair fueled by sex, drugs and danger. Ray Liotta and Jane Fonda also star. Directed by Geoff Moore and David Posamentier. 2014. Unrated. 91 minutes.]

Black Nativity [A fine ensemble cast propels this inspirational drama starring Jennifer Hudson as a struggling single mom who send her son off temporarily to live with his strict grandparents and the change it makes in all of their lives. Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jacob Latimore, and Mary J. Blige star. Directed by actress turned director Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou, Talk to Me). 2013. Rated PG. 93 minutes. Box Office: $8 million.]

Bletchley Circle, The: Season 2 [The WWII code breaking heroines return for Season 2 to solve more complex post war crimes. Starring Anna Maxwell Martin, Rachael Stirling, Hattie Morahan, Sophie Rundle, and Julie Graham. 2014. Unrated. 2 separate rentals.]

Confession of Murder [Chilling Korean film noir in which a young man confesses to a series of murders after the statute of limitations expire. He writes a tell-all book and becomes a notorious celebrity and a target of many at the same time. Jung Jae-Young and Park Si-Hoo star. Directed by Byeong gil Jeong. 2012. Unrated. 119 minutes.]

Flowers in the Attic [2014] [This TV movie remake of the classic gothic horror story received very good reviews when it was shown on Lifetime and is considered an improvement over the original feature version.  The chilling story has a sexy mother (played by Heather Graham in one of her better recent roles) abandoning her four children after the death of her husband, forcing them to live with their nasty grandmother (Ellen Burstyn in a memorable villain role) who makes them live like prisoners in her attic. As they grow older, they create their own family unit but they remain haunted by a dark secret. Kiernan Shipka (who is famous for playing Don Draper's daughter Sally on Mad Men), Mason Dye, Ava Telek, Maxwell Kovach, Dylan Bruce, and Chad Willett also star.  Directed by Deborah Chow. Unrated. 86 minutes.]

Great Expectations [2013] [Well-acted new take on the classic Charles Dickens tale about a young orphan who inherits a fortune as a young man but can never have his true love because of her bitter guardian/heiress. Starring Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Holliday Crainger, Jason Flemyng, and Robbie Coltrane, Mike Newell, of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire fame, directed. Rated PG-13. 128 minutes.]

Interior. Leather Bar. [Bay Area actor-director James Franco continues to do fascinating and daring things with his multi-faceted career. Franco and co-director Travis Matthews (who also wrote the script) made this short unrated feature that was inspired by the explicit 40 minutes of gay hook-ups and sexual encounters that was edited from the controversial Al Pacino cop film Cruising that had Pacino going undercover to find a gay serial killer. This new twist reimagines what the edited footage was like via a film crew filming one wild night in gay leather bar and improvising while trying to find a balance between art and reality. Franco and Matthews also star along with Val Lauren, Brenden Gregory, Samantha Barrows, and Christian Patrick. IMDB amusingly lists its alternate title as "James Franco's Cruising." 2013. Unrated. 60 minutes plus a short by Franco.]  

Invisible Woman, The [2013] [Actor Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, The Grand Budapest Hotel) followed up his impressive feature film directing debut Coriolanus with this equally excellent drama playing writer Charles Dickens at the height of his career. Dickens, the demanding and difficult but brilliant author of such classics as Great Expectations and Oliver Twist, meets a young beauty (played by Felicity Jones) and falls in love with her, propelling him into a passionate but covert affair that would last until his death. Although it was only nominated for one Oscar (Best Costume Design), this sumptuous true period romance landed on many top ten lists and was nominated for several other prestigious awards. Both Fiennes and Jones give sterling performances. Kristin Scott Thomas and Tom Hollander also star. 2013. Rated R. 111 minutes. Box Office: $2 million.]

Mobius [Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist, OSS 117-Cairo, a Nest of Spies) continues to choose interesting post-Oscar films like The Wolf of Wall Street and this exciting spy thriller. He plays a Russian operative who is obsessed with taking down a money laundering crime machine with the help of sexy banker Cecile De France. The problem is she has become a target, so he must use her as bait while protecting her until he can catch the criminal masterminds. Tim Roth, John Lynch, Emilie Dequenne, Aleksei Gorbunov, Brana Katic, and Wendell Pierce also star. Directed by Eric Rochant (Love Without Pity). 2013. Rated R. 103 minutes.]

Nut Job, The [Amusing animated family comedy about a squirrel who thinks he has gone to heaven when he discovers a nut store. He plans to rob it for his winter stash but soon discovers that its a front for a bunch of bank robbers, so he and his pals ironically plan to thwart the bank robbers from pulling off their heist. The fun celebrity voices include Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fraser, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Iglesias, Liam Neeson, Maya Rudolph, Stephen Lang, and Sarah Gadon. Worth a look for animation fans. The film was so successful that they are working on The Nut Job 2 as you read this. Directed by Peter Lepeniotis. 2014. Rated PG. 85 minutes. Box Office: $64 million.]

Philomena [Heartwarming true story with a great performance by Judi Dench (Skyfall, Notes on a Scandal) as a woman who had a child as a young woman and had to give him up for adoption when she was forced to live in a convent. Fifty-nine years later, she goes on a difficult hunt for her with a cynical ex-BBC journalist played by Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge, Tropic Thunder), who also co-wrote and produced the acclaimed dramedy. Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity) directed this hit, which is one of his most accessible films. The film was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Actress and Adapted Screenplay. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 98 minutes. Box Office: $38 million.]

Ride Along [Probably the biggest surprise box office success of 2014 so far, this wacky farce stars comic turned actor Kevin Hart as an overly earnest cop trainee who finally gets his wish to go on a ride along with detective Ice Cube, who happens to be his girlfriend's brother. Of course, Cube wants to show Hart that he's not cut out for the job, but they inadvertently find a notorious crime boss leading to lots of fireworks. Hart is white hot right now thanks to this huge hit and his scene-stealing role in Grudge Match. John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Tike Sumpter, and Laurence Fishburne also star. Of course, the film was so successful that they are working on Ride Along 2.  Tim Story (Barbershop, the Fantastic 4 films) directed. 2013. Rated PG-13. 99 minutes. Box Office: $134 million.]

Ripper Street: Season 2 [In this hit BBC TV crime series' sophomore season, Inspector Reid continues his difficult task of cleaning the nasty streets of Whitechapel even after Jack the Ripper has gone. Starring Matthew Macfadyen, Jerime Flynn, Adam Rothernberg, MyAnna Buring, and David Wilmot. 2014. Unrated. 3 separate rentals.]

Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The [2013] [Ben Stiller (Zoolander, Tropic Thunder) directed this underrated big budget epic remake of the classic Danny Kaye comedy. Stiller also plays the title character, a meek man who spends most of his routine life daydreaming about being the star in his own exciting adventurous and romantic personal movie. However, when he finds out that his job and his co-worker's job are threatened, he goes on a real-life globe-trotting adventure that fulfills his destiny. Stiller is at his best in this funny and clever re-working of the famous James Thurber story. In a clever touch, Stiller/Mitty works for "Life" magazine. As a director, he does a terrific job of turning the fanciful but difficult to adapt tale (the film has been in the works for years with Jim Carrey and Mike Myers previously attached to do the lead at various times) into a stunning big screen reality.  The fine supporting cast is also stellar: Kristin Wiig, Sean Penn, Shirley Maclaine, Adam Scott, and Kathryn Hahn. If you enjoy your romantic comedies with a touch of fantasy, you should check this out. Highly Recommended! Rated PG. 114 minutes. Box Office: $59 million.] 

Notes by manager Steven Y. Mori.

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Releases - April 8, 2014

3D BLU-RAYS:

Hobbit, The: The Desolation of Smaug [Peter Jackson's Chapter 2 in The Hobbit Trilogy is even better than the first and filled with non-stop action and less filler as the epic journey of Bilbo Baggins and friends to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor continues. In this outing, they are confronted by a plethora of exotic and weird new creatures and obstacles. The fascinating cast features Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, and Orlando Bloom. The film definitely whets fans appetite for the third and final chapter due this Christmas holiday. The 3D effects are spectacular, and the film was nominated for 3 Academy Awards. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 161 minutes. Box Office: $259 million.]

Nurse [2013] [Wild cult horror film starring hot Paz de la Huerta (Choke, Boardwalk Empire) as a dedicated nurse by day and a dangerous party girl by night who doles out bloody and lethal justice to cheating men. A sexy new nurse begins to suspect her agenda, leading her to unleash her fury at work. Katrina Bowden, Corbin Bleu, and Judd Nelson co-star. Directed by Doug Aarniokoski (Highlander: Endgame). Rated R. 84 minutes. Note that this Blu-ray contains both the 2D and 3D versions of the film so you can choose which to play.]
 
BLU-RAYS:

August: Osage County [An amazing cast powers this cathartic dramedy about a dysfunctional family brought together by a crisis and having to deal with out of control, addicted and acid-tongued matriarch Meryl Streep. Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard, and Misty Upham also star in this moving and darkly funny adaptation of Tracy Letts' award-winning play. Directed by John Wells (The Company Men). Streep and Roberts were both Oscar nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. 2013. Rated R. 121 minutes. Box Office: $38 million.]

Grudge Match [Did you ever wonder who would win in a boxing match if "Raging Bull"'s Jake LaMotta and "Rocky" Balboa squared off?  This well-acted comedy sort of answers that question as offscreen pals Robert De Niro (who played LaMotta in Raging Bull) and Sylvester Stallone (who played Rocky in a series of hit films) star as old boxing rivals who come out of retirement for one big match. For fans of Seventies films, this will certainly be a nostalgic trip to the past with two of the decade's biggest stars having lots of fun playing off each other and making fun of their own iconic images. Giving the leads lots of competition for laughs are scene-stealing co-stars Alan Arkin and Kevin Hart, still hot Kim Basinger, and Jon Bernthal
(of The Walking Dead fame). 2013. Rated PG-13. 113 minutes. Box Office: $30 million.]

Hobbit, The: The Desolation of Smaug [Peter Jackson's Chapter 2 in The Hobbit Trilogy is even better than the first and filled with non-stop action and less filler as the epic journey of Bilbo Baggins and friends to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor continues. In this outing, they are confronted by a plethora of exotic and weird new creatures and obstacles. The fascinating cast features Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, and Orlando Bloom. The film definitely whets fans appetite for the third and final chapter due this Christmas holiday. The 3D effects are spectacular, and the film was nominated for 3 Academy Awards. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 161 minutes. Box Office: $259 million.]

Nurse [2013] [Wild cult horror film starring hot Paz de la Huerta (Choke, Boardwalk Empire) as a dedicated nurse by day and a dangerous party girl by night who doles out bloody and lethal justice to cheating men. A sexy new nurse begins to suspect her agenda, leading her to unleash her fury at work. Katrina Bowden, Corbin Bleu, and Judd Nelson co-star. Directed by Doug Aarniokoski (Highlander: Endgame). Rated R. 84 minutes. Note that this Blu-ray contains both the 2D and 3D versions of the film so you can choose which to play.]

Past, The [This acclaimed French drama was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Holden Globe and stars Ali Mosaffa as a man who returns to Paris to finalize his divorce from wife Berenice Bejo because she is going to remarry. However, he discovers that her relationship with their is strained, leading to secrets from their past coming to light. Tahar Rahim also stars. Directed by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation). 2013. Rated PG-13. 130 minutes. Box Office: $2 million.]

Touch of Sin, A [Inspired by shocking true events, four unrelated characters are driven to violence as China ironically grows into a major world power of innovation and economic success. Zhangke Jia (Still Life, The World) directed this well-reviewed drama starring Zhao Tao, Jiang Wu, Wang Brodiang, Luo Lanshan, Zhang Ziyai, and Li Meng. 2013. Unrated. 133 minutes.]

DVDs:

At Middleton [This charming, moving and funny dramedy stars Andy Garcia (of The Godfather Part III and City Island fame)  and Vera Farmiga (so terrific in TV's Bates Motel) as two parents who fall in love in one day while meeting at a college where both of their children are taking a college tour. Taissa Farmiga, Tom Skerritt, Nicholas Braun, and Peter Riegert also star. Directed by first time director Adam Rodgers. 2013. Rated R. 99 minutes.]

August: Osage County [An amazing cast powers this cathartic dramedy about a dysfunctional family brought together by a crisis and having to deal with out of control, addicted and acid-tongued matriarch Meryl Streep. Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard, and Misty Upham also star in this moving and darkly funny adaptation of Tracy Letts' award-winning play. Directed by John Wells (The Company Men). Streep and Roberts were both Oscar nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. 2013. Rated R. 121 minutes. Box Office: $38 million.]

Bag Man, The [Action-packed thriller with John Cusack acting as a bag man for boss Robert De Niro as crooked cops and mobsters go gunning for him. Co-starring Rebecca Da Costa, Crispin Glover, Dominic Purcell and Sticky Fingaz. Feature directing debut of actor David Grovic. 2014. Rated R. 108 minutes.]

Bastards [Claire Denis (Beau Travail, 35 Shots of Rum) serves up her darkest film yet in this dark film noir starring Vincent Lindon as a sea captain who tries to rescue his estranged sister and her daughter from the influence of a rich businessman whose wife happens to be his lover. Chiara Mastroianni, Julie Bataille, Lola Creton, Michel Subor, and Laurent Grevil also star. 2013. Unrated. 100 minutes.]

Black Coffee [Cute African-American romcom starring Darrin Dewitt Henson as a guy who loses his job but finds the girl of his dreams in Gabrielle Dennis but things start to go awry when her ex-hubby and his ex-girlfriend both want them back. Co-starring Christian Keyes, Lamman Rucker, and Eric Hubbard. Mark Harris directed. 2014. Rated PG.]

Everyday [Director Michael Winterbottom (The Killer Inside Me, 24 Hour Party People) made this daring British drama over a 5 year period to reflect the story he was shooting. In it, John Simms (star of the British TV version of Life on Mars) plays a family man who is sent to prison for five years and we see the gradual change in relationships between he and his wife and kids as they visit him over the years until he is released. Shirley Henderson plays his wife who has to care for 4 kids on her own. Shaun Kirk, Robert Kirk, Stephanie Kirk, Katrina Kirk, and Darren Tighe co-star. 2013. Unrated. 106 minutes.]

Falcon [In this gripping British TV crime series, Martin Csokas (The Lord of the Rings) gives a charismatic performance as a clever, intuitive inspector who exposes hard truths and corruption in beautiful Seville even when it personally costs him dearly. Co-starring Charlie Creed-Miles and Kerry Fox. 2012. Unrated. 2 separate rentals.

Field in England, A [This British cult thriller is set in 1648 AD UK during a civil war when some deserters are captured by two men and forced to hunt for questionable treasure in a huge field. Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers) directed this intriguing thriller with horror elements. Starring Julian Barratt, Peter Ferdinando, Richard Glover, Ryan Pope, Reece Shearsmith, and Michael Smiley. 2013. Unrated. 90 minutes.]

Grudge Match [Did you ever wonder who would win in a boxing match if "Raging Bull"'s Jake LaMotta and "Rocky" Balboa squared off?  This well-acted comedy sort of answers that question as offscreen pals Robert De Niro (who played LaMotta in Raging Bull) and Sylvester Stallone (who played Rocky in a series of hit films) star as old boxing rivals who come out of retirement for one big match. For fans of Seventies films, this will certainly be a nostalgic trip to the past with two of the decade's biggest stars having lots of fun playing off each other and making fun of their own iconic images. Giving the leads lots of competition for laughs are scene-stealing co-stars Alan Arkin and Kevin Hart, still hot Kim Basinger, and Jon Bernthal
(of The Walking Dead fame). 2013. Rated PG-13. 113 minutes. Box Office: $30 million.]

Guardian of the Highlands [Sir Sean Connery reinforces his love for Scotland by providing the lead voice in this wacky animated family comedy starring as Sir Bill, an elder Scot who tries to save the last beaver (!) in Scotland with help from his animal pals. This cute comedy is a must for Connery fans, who haven't seen or heard from him onscreen since The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen! Alan Cumming, Larry Sullivan, Alex Norton, Miriam Margolyes, Ruby Wax, and Valentina Hartmann are the other featured voice actors. 2014. Unrated.]

Hobbit, The: The Desolation of Smaug [Peter Jackson's Chapter 2 in The Hobbit Trilogy is even better than the first and filled with non-stop action and less filler as the epic journey of Bilbo Baggins and friends to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor continues. In this outing, they are confronted by a plethora of exotic and weird new creatures and obstacles. The fascinating cast features Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, and Orlando Bloom. The film definitely whets fans appetite for the third and final chapter due this Christmas holiday. The 3D effects are spectacular, and the film was nominated for 3 Academy Awards. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 161 minutes. Box Office: $259 million.]

I Am Divine [Affectionate documentary about the legendary crossdressing camp actor Divine (aka Harris Glenn Milstead) who earned immediate cult superstar status by eating real dog shit in John Waters' Pink Flamingos. He then became a Waters favorite and went on to do several of his best films. In addition to Waters, interviewees include Ricki Lake, Tab Hunter and Mink Stole. Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, who has directed many short film documentaries including many dealing with cult director William Castle). 2013. Unrated. 90 minutes.]

Jack Taylor: Set 1 [In this Irish TV crime series, Iain Glen is great as a boozing, hard-driving ex-cop turned p.i. tackling lurid cases in western Ireland. Directed by Stuart Orme and also starring Nora-Jane Noone and Killian Scott. 2010. Unrated. 3 separate rentals.]

Murph: The Protector [Acclaimed documentary about Lt. Michael P. Murphy, who was killed by the Taliban in 2005 while trying to protect his Navy SEAL team. Directed by Scott Mactavish (God and Country: Untold Stories of the American Military).  2013. Unrated. 79 minutes.]

Norman [Moving indie dramedy starring Dan Byrd as a high schooler in the middle of a dealing with tragedy who gets caught up in a lie that send his life spiraling out of control. Emily VanCamp (TV's Revenge and Everwood), Adam Goldberg, and Richard Jenkins also star. Directed by Jonathan Segal (The Last Run). 2011. Rated R. 99 minutes.]

Nurse [2013] [Wild cult horror film starring hot Paz de la Huerta (Choke, Boardwalk Empire) as a dedicated nurse by day and a dangerous party girl by night who doles out bloody and lethal justice to cheating men. A sexy new nurse begins to suspect her agenda, leading her to unleash her fury at work. Katrina Bowden, Corbin Bleu, and Judd Nelson co-star. Directed by Doug Aarniokoski (Highlander: Endgame). Rated R. 84 minutes. Note that this Blu-ray contains both the 2D and 3D versions of the film so you can choose which to play.]

Past, The [This acclaimed French drama was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Holden Globe and stars Ali Mosaffa as a man who returns to Paris to finalize his divorce from wife Berenice Bejo because she is going to remarry. However, he discovers that her relationship with their is strained, leading to secrets from their past coming to light. Tahar Rahim also stars. Directed by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation). 2013. Rated PG-13. 130 minutes. Box Office: $2 million.]

Rake: Season 2 [Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge, Mission:Impossible II) has one of his best roles in this hit Australian TV comedy starring in the title role of a totally outrageous Aussie criminal barrister who is good at getting his clients off but is even better at getting in trouble with the law, women, and just in general. Matt Day, Adrienne Pickering, Russell Dykstra, Danielle Cormack, Caroline Brazier, Damien Garvey, Keegan Joyce, and Kate Box also star. This series, co-created by Roxburgh, is the basis for Fox's darkly hilarious US remake with Greg Kinnear, which Roxburgh also co-produces. Highly Recommended! 2012. Unrated. 3 separate rentals.]

Touch of Sin, A [Inspired by shocking true events, four unrelated characters are driven to violence as China ironically grows into a major world power of innovation and economic success. Zhangke Jia (Still Life, The World) directed this well-reviewed drama starring Zhao Tao, Jiang Wu, Wang Brodiang, Luo Lanshan, Zhang Ziyai, and Li Meng. 2013. Unrated. 133 minutes.]

Zero Charisma [Acclaimed cult comedy starring Sam Eidson as the nerdy ruler of a fantasy role playing game until a cool rival shows up and dethrones him, sending him to all-out war. Brock England, Garrett Graham, Anne Gee Byrd, and Cyndi Williams co-star. Directed by Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews. 2013. Unrated. 86 minutes.]

Notes by manager Steven Y. Mori.

Monday, March 31, 2014

New Release - April 1, 2014

HAPPY APRIL FOOL'S DAY!  However, all of the following listings are real, no fooling.

3D Blu-ray:

47 Ronin [Keanu Reeves finally headlines a big movie in this exciting period samurai epic starring as a legendary half-breed slave who is recruited by 47 leaderless samurai to help them win their honor back after an evil warlord kills their master. Carl Rinsch makes his feature directing debut with this action-packed film homage to Japanese samurai classics. Also starring Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Ko Shibaskai. 2013. Rated PG-13.  Box Office: $39 million.]

Blu-rays:

47 Ronin [Keanu Reeves finally headlines a big movie in this exciting period samurai epic starring as a legendary half-breed slave who is recruited by 47 leaderless samurai to help them win their honor back after an evil warlord kills their master. Carl Rinsch makes his feature directing debut with this action-packed film homage to Japanese samurai classics. Also starring Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Ko Shibaskai. 2013. Rated PG-13.  Box Office: $39 million.]

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues [Will Ferrell is back as hilarious TV anchor Ron Burgundy. This time he reassembles his news team for an upstart 24 hour cable news network and squares off against a new, slick rival played by James Marsden. The hysterical returning co-stars include Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Dylan Baker, Greg Kinnear, and Harrison Ford. If you are in need of a good laugh, you should definitely check out this non-stop laughfest and the first film if you haven't seen it.  IMPORTANT NOTE: The Blu-ray continues three (!) different versions of the film: the theatrical PG-13 rated version, the R rated version, and the Super-sized R rated version with 763 more laughs.  The DVD only has the PG-13 version. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. Box Office: $130 million.]

Pirate Fairy, The [Advance word on this latest Disney Tinkerbell animated adventure has been very positive, and it features Mad Men's Christina Hendricks as the voice of the lead dust fairy, who finds herself in trouble, leaves Pixie Hollow, and finds herself leading a band of pirates. That sends resourceful Tink on a rescue mission. Mae Whitman does the voice of Tinkerbell while Thor's Tom Hiddleston, Elementary's Lucy Liu, Anjelica Huston, Jane Horrocks, Megan Hilty, and Jesse McCartney also provide voices. Peggy Holmes directed. Rated G. 78 minutes.]

DVDs:

47 Ronin [Keanu Reeves finally headlines a big movie in this exciting period samurai epic starring as a legendary half-breed slave who is recruited by 47 leaderless samurai to help them win their honor back after an evil warlord kills their master. Carl Rinsch makes his feature directing debut with this action-packed film homage to Japanese samurai classics. Also starring Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Ko Shibaskai. 2013. Rated PG-13.  Box Office: $39 million.]

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues [Will Ferrell is back as hilarious TV anchor Ron Burgundy. This time he reassembles his news team for an upstart 24 hour cable news network and squares off against a new, slick rival played by James Marsden. The hysterical returning co-stars include Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Dylan Baker, Greg Kinnear, and Harrison Ford. If you are in need of a good laugh, you should definitely check out this non-stop laughfest and the first film if you haven't seen it. IMPORTANT NOTE: The Blu-ray continues three (!) different versions of the film: the theatrical PG-13 rated version, the R rated version, and the Super-sized R rated version with 763 more laughs.  The DVD only has the PG-13 version. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. Box Office: $130 million.]

Broadchurch: Season 1 [Acclaimed British TV crime thriller starring Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady, Hot Fuzz) and David Tennant (of Doctor Who fame) as detectives who are assigned to investigate the shocking murder of a boy washed up on a beach in Broadchurch. The lurid media frenzy and the nature of the crime threaten to tear the small town apart. Co-starring Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Pauline Quirke, David Bradley, Arthur Darvill, Jonathan Bailey, Carolyn Pickles, Will Mellor and Vicky McClure. 2013. Unrated. 3 separate rentals.]

Girl Rising [Richard Robbins (Oscar nominated for Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience) directed this uplifting documentary about 9 women from around the world who have overcome political and personal obstacles (like child slavery, arranged marriages and other injustices) to achieve their dreams. Celebrity voices include Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez, Alicia Keys, Freida Pinto, Cate Blanchett, Chloe Grace Moretz, Priyanka Chopra, Salma Hayek, Kerry Washington, and Liam Neeson. 2013. Rated PG-13. 101 minutes.]

Little Chenier: A Cajun Story [Moving indie drama about a young man who lives quietly on the Louisiana bayou with his mentally handicapped brother until one of them is accused on a crime. Johnathan Schaech, Fred Koehler, Tamara Braun, Jeremy Davidson, Clifton Collins, Jr., and Chris Mulkey star. Feature film directing debut by actress-writer Bethany Ashton Wolf. 2008. Rated R. 120 minutes.]

Pirate Fairy, The [Advance word on this latest Disney Tinkerbell animated adventure has been very positive, and it features Mad Men's Christina Hendricks as the voice of the lead dust fairy, who finds herself in trouble, leaves Pixie Hollow, and finds herself leading a band of pirates. That sends resourceful Tink on a rescue mission. Mae Whitman does the voice of Tinkerbell while Thor's Tom Hiddleston, Elementary's Lucy Liu, Anjelica Huston, Jane Horrocks, Megan Hilty, and Jesse McCartney also provide voices. Peggy Holmes directed. Rated G. 78 minutes.]

Terraferma [Italian-French co-production set on a tourist island near Sicily about two families whose lives tragically intertwine when an illegal rescue of boat people occurs. Starring Filippo Pucillo, Donatella Finnochiaro, Mimmo Citticchio, Giuseppe Fiorello, Timnit T., and Martina Codecasa. 2011. Rated R. 88 minutes.]

New Arrivals:

Viva Zapata! [Marlon Brando gives a brilliant performance as the fiery and passionate Mexican revolutionary Emilio Zapata who became famous leading a revolt against corrupt and cruel dictator president Porfirio Diaz. Elia Kazan reunited with his A Streetcar Named Desire star Brando, and Brando once again was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award. Co-star Anthony Quinn won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The interesting co-star cast features Jean Peters, Joseph Wiseman, Alan Reed, Frank Silvera, and Mildred Dunnock. The superb screenplay was written by famous author John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men). Highly Recommended! 1952. Unrated. 113 minutes.]

Notes by manager Steven Y. Mori.

Monday, March 24, 2014

New Release - March 25, 2014

Blu-rays:

Great Beauty, The: The Criterion Collection [This acclaimed Italian drama directed by Paolo Sorrentino won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. The story tells the tale of an aging playboy who has lived la dolce vita in real life, but when he gets a shock from the past on his 65th birthday, he starts reflecting on his life from a different point of view. Starring Toni Servillo, Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Buccirosso, and Iaia Forte. 2013. Unrated. 142 minutes. Box Office: $3 million.]

Walking with Dinosaurs The Movie [2013] [Enjoyable animated family adventure about a small dinosaur who tries to find his place in his prehistoric world.  Based loosely on the BBC documentary of the same name, this film featuring state of the art CGI effects purports to show audiences what it was really like to be a dinosaur, but it also has its cutesy side and is overall not as menacing as the BBC show was so it is family friendly. Justin Long, John Leguizamo, Tyra Sircar, and Karl Urban provide the voices. Directed by Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale. 2013. Rated PG. 87 minutes. Box Office: $36 million.]

Wolf of Wall Street, The [This is probably the most controversial Martin Scorsese film in years but also one of his all-time best. Leonardo DiCaprio, who has worked with Scorsese 4 times before this (Shutter Island, The Departed, The Aviator, and Gangs of New York), gives a career-defining performance as real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who did anything and everything to make money no matter who got hurt in a whirlwind of debauchery, crime, corruption, and government scandal that landed him a 3 year prison sentence. The equally terrific supporting cast includes Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Jon Bernthal, Christine Baranski, and Jean Dujardin. The film received 5 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and noms for DiCaprio and Hill despite raising the ire of more conservative voters who were outraged by the sexual depravity and the over-the-top bad behavior displayed in the film. Scorsese was ironically lambasted by some critics for exploiting the real-life events and perversion too much, but hey people, that's the entire point of the film! For those of you who were too scared to be caught in a theatre watching the bacchanal or were afraid of not surviving the three hour length, you can now view this great film in the comfort of your own home. You can also the appreciate the maturing of DiCaprio, who keeps on getting better and better with each film. Highly recommended! 2013. Rated R. 180 minutes. Box Office: $117 million.]

DVDs:

Chinese Zodiac [Martial Arts stunt legend Jackie Chan directed and stars in this amiable action adventure that is purportedly the last film in which he will perform all of his own stunts. He plays a modern day daring adventurer in the Indiana Jones mold who is hired by rich Oliver Platt to find rare Chinese bronze busts, but he is torn between making tons of money versus archiving the relics. Co-starring Kwone Sang Woo, Liao Fan, Yao Xingtong, Zhang Lanxin, Laura Weissbecker, Alaa Safi, Rosario Amedeo, and Caitlin Dechelle. 2013. Rated PG-13. 109 minutes.]

Conspiracy, The [2013] [Effective indie horror-thriller starring Aaron Poole and James Gilbert as documentarians who work on a conspiracy theory film and uncover a lethal secret society. Christopher MacBride directed this well-reviewed film. Unrated. 84 minutes.]

Delivery Man [Fun remake of the 2007 indie comedy Starbuck with Vince Vaughan as a slacker who discovers that he fathered 533 kids thanks to donating to a sperm bank. When 142 of them sue, he has to decide whether to take responsibility or not. Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) and Chris Pratt (Parks & Recreation) also star in this surprise hit film. Ken Scott directed this remake as well as the original. 2013. PG-13. 105 minutes. Box Office: $31 million.]

Girl on a Bicycle [Likable German-US comic farce about an Italian who drives a Paris tour bus, proposes to a German stewardess, and then falls in love with a French beauty leading to lots of wacky romantic troubles. Starring Vincenzo Amato, Nora Tschirner, Paddy Considine, Louise Monot, and Stephanie Debac. Directed by Jeremy Leven of The Notebook and Don Juan DeMarco fame. 2013. Rated R. 101 minutes.]

Great Beauty, The: The Criterion Collection [This acclaimed Italian drama directed by Paolo Sorrentino won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. The story tells the tale of an aging playboy who has lived la dolce vita in real life, but when he gets a shock from the past on his 65th birthday, he starts reflecting on his life from a different point of view. Starring Toni Servillo, Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Buccirosso, and Iaia Forte. 2013. Unrated. 142 minutes. Box Office: $3 million.]

Loves Her Gun [Intriguing indie drama starring Trieste Kelly Dunn as a young woman who from NYC to rural Texas to escape violence and ironically finds herself caught up in the local gun culture. Co-starring Francisco Barrerro, Ashley Rae Spillers, Melissa Hideko Bisagni, John Merriman, Heather Kafka, Chris Doubek, and Jennymarie Jemson.  Geoff Marslett (Mars) directed this acclaimed film.  2014. Unrated. 99 minutes.]

Odd Thomas [Stephen Sommers, who directed The Mummy series, directed this enjoyable horror-action satire about a short order cook who can talk to the dead and finds himself caught between the light and dark worlds as war brews. Starring Anton Yelchin, Willem Dafoe, Addison Timlin, Leonor Varela, Patton Oswalt, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Nico Tortorella. 2013. Unrated. 100 minutes.]

Veep: Season 2 [Julia-Louis Dreyfus is even better in her second term as an ex-senator turned first woman Vice President with a highly dysfunctional family and staff. Dreyfus has won the Best Actress in a Comedy Emmy for both seasons, and hilarious Tony Hale also won Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy for this season. The very funny cast also includes Anna Chlumsky, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh and Sufe Bradshaw. Highly Recommended! Two separate rentals. 2013. Unrated.]

Walking with Dinosaurs The Movie [2013] [Enjoyable animated family adventure about a small dinosaur who tries to find his place in his prehistoric world.  Based loosely on the BBC documentary of the same name, this film featuring state of the art CGI effects purports to show audiences what it was really like to be a dinosaur, but it also has its cutesy side and is overall not as menacing as the BBC show was so it is family friendly. Justin Long, John Leguizamo, Tyra Sircar, and Karl Urban provide the voices. Directed by Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale. 2013. Rated PG. 87 minutes. Box Office: $36 million.]

Wolf of Wall Street, The [This is probably the most controversial Martin Scorsese film in years but also one of his all-time best. Leonardo DiCaprio, who has worked with Scorsese 4 times before this (Shutter Island, The Departed, The Aviator, and Gangs of New York), gives a career-defining performance as real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who did anything and everything to make money no matter who got hurt in a whirlwind of debauchery, crime, corruption, and government scandal that landed him a 3 year prison sentence. The equally terrific supporting cast includes Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Jon Bernthal, Christine Baranski, and Jean Dujardin. The film received 5 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and noms for DiCaprio and Hill despite raising the ire of more conservative voters who were outraged by the sexual depravity and the over-the-top bad behavior displayed in the film. Scorsese was ironically lambasted by some critics for exploiting the real-life events and perversion too much, but hey people, that's the entire point of the film! For those of you who were too scared to be caught in a theatre watching the bacchanal or were afraid of not surviving the three hour length, you can now view this great film in the comfort of your own home. You can also the appreciate the maturing of DiCaprio, who keeps on getting better and better with each film. Highly recommended! 2013. Rated R. 180 minutes. Box Office: $117 million.]

Notes by manager Steven Y. Mori.

Monday, March 17, 2014

New Releases - March 18, 2014

Blu-rays:

American Hustle [One of the most acclaimed films of the year, this character driven comic thriller is loosely based on a true story and is an affectionate homage to the classic films of the Seventies. Christian Bale (The Fighter, The Dark Knight) gives one of the best performances of his career going against type as a slick 1970's con man with a bad comb over and a paunch whose life changes when he meets his sexy British match, played by Amy Adams.  As they pull assorted scams on business men and the art world, they are caught by an earnest young FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) and soon forced to pull a big sting on a good-hearted politician (Jeremy Renner) and a mob boss (Robert De Niro).  Unfortunately, Bale's volatile and beautiful wife (Jennifer Lawrence) throws a big monkey wrench in the plans as she plots revenge against her husband and his mistress. David O. Russell (The Fighter, The Silver Linings Playbook) brilliantly directed this wonderfully free-wheeling and much improvised comedy that deservedly landed on most Top Ten lists of 2013. The actors are all amazing, especially the four Academy Award nominated leads: Bale as the sympathetic and charismatic anti-hero; Adams as his glamorous and incredibly sexy lover; Cooper as the hyper and overly cocky agent; and Lawrence as the lovely but unfiltered Jersey wife. Adams and Lawrence are particular revelations in daring roles. The casting is flawless, including Renner's zealous politician, De Niro's cryptic Mafioso, Elisabeth Rohm as Renner's supportive wife, Louis C.K. as Cooper's hilariously flustered boss, and Jack Huston as De Niro's son. Although it was nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture and Director, it was unfortunately shut out, although it remains my favorite film of the year along with Gravity, which was also nominated for 10 (but won 7). However, Russell and company should not feel bad since the movie was a huge critical and box office hit and joins an illustrious list of films that were nominated for 10+ Oscars but won zero: The Turning Point, The Color Purple, and Gangs of New York. The film should at least have won Oscars for its spot-on recreation of Seventies kitsch and fashion and its intentionally memorable bad hairdressing for almost all of the men (Bale's hysterical do, Cooper's Jheri curl, Renner's pompadour, and De Niro's thin strand hairdo). It did win Golden Globes for Best Picture (comedy), Best Actress (Adams), and Best Supporting Actress (Lawrence) and the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Ensemble Cast. If you want a fun, breezy and unpredictable blast from the past with likeable characters, then you should definitely check this out. Highly recommended! 2013. Rated R. 138 minutes. Box Office: $149 million.]

Brief History of Time, A: The Criterion Collection [Amazingly, this is the official US Blu-ray and DVD debut of the superb 1991 documentary about genius astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who was born with a debilitating motor neuron disease that has left him voiceless and without use of his limbs. Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War) directed this fascinating film. Rated G. 90 minutes. Box Office: $3 million.]

Frozen [2013] [One of the best animated Disney (non-Pixar) films in years, this charming musical comedy romance should please adults as well as kids for a change. The engaging story (based on Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen) tells the tale of young princess Anna who goes on a frosty journey to find her sister Elsa, who has the power to create ice and snow but has accidentally frozen their entire world and cannot stop. Anna teams up with a young ice seller named Kristoff, his faithful reindeer Sven, and a wacky snowman named Olaf and races to find her sis and help reverse the eternal winter she has created. Of course, romance, hilarity and songs abound along the way. The crowd-pleasing film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Song for it's incredibly catchy "Let It Go," which is one of the most memorable Best Songs in decades and made even more famous thanks to John Travolta's tongue-twisted introduction of Oscar performer Idina Menzel as Adele Dazeem. The voice talent features Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, House of Lies), Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Alan Tudyk, and Ciaran Hinds. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Highly Recommended! Rated PG. 102 minutes. Box Office: $397 million.]

Homefront [2013] [Action star Jason Staham plays a widowed ex-DEA agent who moves to a small Southern town with his young daughter and is shocked to find it full of drugs and violence. He soon decides to lead a personal war against the town's drug kingpin, wonderfully played by Bay Area actor James Franco (This Is the End, Oz the Great and Powerful) going against type. Co-starring Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Clancy Brown, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and Rachelle Lefevre.  Directed by Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls, Runaway Jury). Rated R. 100 minutes.]

Kill Your Darlings [2013] [Fans of Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe will find him playing a very different role in this intriguing and somewhat shocking dramatic thriller based on famous poet Allen Ginsberg's early years at Columbia University. He plays a shy but free-thinking Ginsberg who immediately falls under the spell of Lucien Carr, an outgoing, sexy and revolutionary fellow student (seductively played by Dane DeHaan with charisma to spare). With Carr as a ringleader and instigator, Ginsberg finds inspiration with aspiring writer-friends William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster, 3:10 to Yuma, Contraband) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston, American Hustle) as they create a counter-culture movement that is the basis for their later "Beat Generation" and is fueled by liquor, drugs, sex and jazz. Despite Carr's self-destructiveness and his ironic lack of writing talent, Ginsberg falls in love with him until Carr's murky past comes back to haunt him in the form of his ex-lover and mentor (well-played by Dexter's Michael C. Hall). With this film and The Woman in Black, Radcliffe gets a welcome chance to show off his versatility, and he gives a fine, multi-shaded performance as his character comes of age. He is perfectly matched with DeHaan (Metallica Through the Never, The Place Beyond the Pines), whose edgy Carr is alluring and flashy enough to hide who he really is for awhile.  Huston is  quite good as Kerouac, but Foster, who is one of the best and most underrated actors working today, steals the film as the unflappably weird and quirky Burroughs. Hall is also brilliant as Carr's tragically lovesick ex, and it's great to see him out of Dexter's shadow. The co-stars are also excellent: Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Cross, Kyra Sedgwick, David Cross, John Cullum and David Rasche. Director-writer John Krokidas makes an impressive and moving directing debut. Recommended! 2013. Rated R (definitely not for kids!). 104 minutes. Box Office: $2 million.]

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom [Well-acted epic true story of Nelson Mandela from his childhood to adulthood as he becomes the main leader against apartheid in South Africa and eventually President after 27 years in prison. Idris Elba (TV's Luther, The Wire) gives a powerful performance in the title role. Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, and Lindiwe Matshikiza also star. 2013. Rated PG-13. 141 minutes. Box Office: $9 million.] 

Saving Mr. Banks [Emma Thompson gives an unforgettable performance as writer P.L.Travers in this true story about how difficult it was for film legend Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks) to convince Travers into making her Mary Poppins into a Disney musical. He lavishes the curmudgeon Travers with first class treatment and overly enthusiastic presentations of songs and scenes to show her the Disney razzle-dazzle, but it isn't until they find common ground about their childhoods that she finally grants him the rights to what would become the crown jewel of the Disney legacy. Hanks, although he doesn't look a lot like Disney (but then, who does except his brother Roy?), gives an earnest and likable performance that grows on you as the film progresses. The fun cast includes Annie Rose Buckley, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman, Kathy Baker and Rachel Griffiths. Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Snow White and the Huntsman) deserves kudos for making this film about a classic film so successful, inventive, and satisfying. Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 125 minutes. Box Office: $84 million.] 

DVDs:


American Hustle [One of the most acclaimed films of the year, this character driven comic thriller is loosely based on a true story and is an affectionate homage to the classic films of the Seventies. Christian Bale (The Fighter, The Dark Knight) gives one of the best performances of his career going against type as a slick 1970's con man with a bad comb over and a paunch whose life changes when he meets his sexy British match, played by Amy Adams.  As they pull assorted scams on business men and the art world, they are caught by an earnest young FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) and soon forced to pull a big sting on a good-hearted politician (Jeremy Renner) and a mob boss (Robert De Niro).  Unfortunately, Bale's volatile and beautiful wife (Jennifer Lawrence) throws a big monkey wrench in the plans as she plots revenge against her husband and his mistress. David O. Russell (The Fighter, The Silver Linings Playbook) brilliantly directed this wonderfully free-wheeling and much improvised comedy that deservedly landed on most Top Ten lists of 2013. The actors are all amazing, especially the four Academy Award nominated leads: Bale as the sympathetic and charismatic anti-hero; Adams as his glamorous and incredibly sexy lover; Cooper as the hyper and overly cocky agent; and Lawrence as the lovely but unfiltered Jersey wife. Adams and Lawrence are particular revelations in daring roles. The casting is flawless, including Renner's zealous politician, De Niro's cryptic Mafioso, Elisabeth Rohm as Renner's supportive wife, Louis C.K. as Cooper's hilariously flustered boss, and Jack Huston as De Niro's son. Although it was nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture and Director, it was unfortunately shut out, although it remains my favorite film of the year along with Gravity, which was also nominated for 10 (but won 7). However, Russell and company should not feel bad since the movie was a huge critical and box office hit and joins an illustrious list of films that were nominated for 10+ Oscars but won zero: The Turning Point, The Color Purple, and Gangs of New York. The film should at least have won Oscars for its spot-on recreation of Seventies kitsch and fashion and its intentionally memorable bad hairdressing for almost all of the men (Bale's hysterical do, Cooper's Jheri curl, Renner's pompadour, and De Niro's thin strand hairdo). It did win Golden Globes for Best Picture (comedy), Best Actress (Adams), and Best Supporting Actress (Lawrence) and the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Ensemble Cast. If you want a fun, breezy and unpredictable blast from the past with likeable characters, then you should definitely check this out. Highly recommended! 2013. Rated R. 138 minutes. Box Office: $149 million.]

Frozen [2013] [One of the best animated Disney (non-Pixar) films in years, this charming musical comedy romance should please adults as well as kids for a change. The engaging story (based on Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen) tells the tale of young princess Anna who goes on a frosty journey to find her sister Elsa, who has the power to create ice and snow but has accidentally frozen their entire world and cannot stop. Anna teams up with a young ice seller named Kristoff, his faithful reindeer Sven, and a wacky snowman named Olaf and races to find her sis and help reverse the eternal winter she has created. Of course, romance, hilarity and songs abound along the way. The crowd-pleasing film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Song for it's incredibly catchy "Let It Go," which is one of the most memorable Best Songs in decades and made even more famous thanks to John Travolta's tongue-twisted introduction of Oscar performer Idina Menzel as Adele Dazeem. The voice talent features Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, House of Lies), Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Alan Tudyk, and Ciaran Hinds. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Highly Recommended! Rated PG. 102 minutes. Box Office: $397 million.]

Happy Sad, The [Offbeat drama about two couples-one gay and one black, and the other white and heterosexual-whose lives intersect. Starring Leroy McClain, Sorel Carradine, Charlie Barnett, Cameron Scoggins, Maria Dizzia, Sue Jean Jim, Jamie Harrold and Michael Nathanson. Rodney Evans (Brother to Brother, Gummo) directed. 2013. Unrated. 87 minutes.]

Kill Your Darlings [2013] [Fans of Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe will find him playing a very different role in this intriguing and somewhat shocking dramatic thriller based on famous poet Allen Ginsberg's early years at Columbia University. He plays a shy but free-thinking Ginsberg who immediately falls under the spell of Lucien Carr, an outgoing, sexy and revolutionary fellow student (seductively played by Dane DeHaan with charisma to spare). With Carr as a ringleader and instigator, Ginsberg finds inspiration with aspiring writer-friends William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster, 3:10 to Yuma, Contraband) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston, American Hustle) as they create a counter-culture movement that is the basis for their later "Beat Generation" and is fueled by liquor, drugs, sex and jazz. Despite Carr's self-destructiveness and his ironic lack of writing talent, Ginsberg falls in love with him until Carr's murky past comes back to haunt him in the form of his ex-lover and mentor (well-played by Dexter's Michael C. Hall). With this film and The Woman in Black, Radcliffe gets a welcome chance to show off his versatility, and he gives a fine, multi-shaded performance as his character comes of age. He is perfectly matched with DeHaan (Metallica Through the Never, The Place Beyond the Pines), whose edgy Carr is alluring and flashy enough to hide who he really is for awhile.  Huston is  quite good as Kerouac, but Foster, who is one of the best and most underrated actors working today, steals the film as the unflappably weird and quirky Burroughs. Hall is also brilliant as Carr's tragically lovesick ex, and it's great to see him out of Dexter's shadow. The co-stars are also excellent: Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Cross, Kyra Sedgwick, David Cross, John Cullum and David Rasche. Director-writer John Krokidas makes an impressive and moving directing debut. Recommended! 2013. Rated R (definitely not for kids!). 104 minutes. Box Office: $2 million.]

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom [Well-acted epic true story of Nelson Mandela from his childhood to adulthood as he becomes the main leader against apartheid in South Africa and eventually President after 27 years in prison. Idris Elba (TV's Luther, The Wire) gives a powerful performance in the title role. Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, and Lindiwe Matshikiza also star. 2013. Rated PG-13. 141 minutes. Box Office: $9 million.]

Muscle Shoals [Rousing music documentary about how Rick Hall brought races together and made great music in a small town called Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Featuring Aretha Franklin, Bono, Alicia Keys, Steve Winwood, Gregg Allman, Clarence Carter, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Cliff, Percy Sledge, and Wilson Pickett. Directed by Gregg Calamlier. 2013. Rated PG. 111 minutes.]  

Saving Mr. Banks [Emma Thompson gives an unforgettable performance as writer P.L.Travers in this true story about how difficult it was for film legend Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks) to convince Travers into making her Mary Poppins into a Disney musical. He lavishes the curmudgeon Travers with first class treatment and overly enthusiastic presentations of songs and scenes to show her the Disney razzle-dazzle, but it isn't until they find common ground about their childhoods that she finally grants him the rights to what would become the crown jewel of the Disney legacy. Hanks, although he doesn't look a lot like Disney (but then, who does except his brother Roy?), gives an earnest and likable performance that grows on you as the film progresses. The fun cast includes Annie Rose Buckley, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman, Kathy Baker and Rachel Griffiths. Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Snow White and the Huntsman) deserves kudos for making this film about a classic film so successful, inventive and satisfying. Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 125 minutes. Box Office: $84 million.]

Spinning Plates [Sumptuous foodie documentary about three extraordinary restaurants and the incredible people behind their successes. Joseph Levy directed. 2013. Unrated. 93 minutes.]


New Arrivals:

Blood Feud [1978] [Excellent and rarely seen Lina Wertmuller drama starring Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni and Giancarlo Giannini in a romantic triangle set in pre-WWII Italy as facists rise to power. 1978. Rated R. 112 minutes.] 

Brief History of Time, A: The Criterion Collection [Amazingly, this is the official US Blu-ray and DVD debut of the superb 1991 documentary about genius astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who was born with a debilitating motor neuron disease that has left him voiceless and without use of his limbs. Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War) directed this fascinating film. Rated G. 90 minutes. Box Office: $3 million.]

Notes by manager Steven Y. Mori.

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Releases - March 11, 2014

Blu-rays:

Book Thief, The [Sure to be a big hit with mature children, young adults and teachers, this acclaimed adaptation of Marcus Zusak's bestselling book tells the moving story of an illiterate girl who is adopted by a German couple in WWII Germany and learns the joy of reading from a Jewish boarder hiding from the Nazis. She soon starts stealing books and shares them with others to keep hope alive during the war. Sophie Nelisse, Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, and Ben Scnetzer star. Composer John Williams (Schindler's List, Amistad) created the beautiful music score, which earned the film's only Academy Award nomination. 2013. Rated PG-13. 131 minutes. Box Office: $22 million.] 

Inside Llewyn Davis [The Coen Brothers (Fargo, True Grit) return to O Brother Where Art Thou territory in this affectionate musical dramedy that is an homage to the early Sixties' folkie pop scene of Greenwich Village. Oscar Isaac stars as the title character, an aspiring folk singer who is trying to make it in the big time despite personal problems and a quirky personality that is a hard sell. Nominated for 2 Oscars, this feel good movie is full of catchy tunes and a charming cast that includes Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake, and F. Murray Abraham. If you are a fan of the period or curious about how the folk movement began, this film is a must.  The poster art on the cover definitely evokes early Bob Dylan LP covers. One of the best of 2013.  Recommended! Rated R. 104 minutes. Box Office: $14 million.]

Out of the Furnace [Well-acted and underrated suspense drama starring Christian Bale (American Hustle, The Fighter) as a steel mill worker who tries to find his missing Iraq veteran brother Casey Affleck when he gets involved in a crime ring and the police won't help. In addition to fine work from Bale and Affleck, the film also contains superb performances by Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker and Sam Shepard. Directed by Scott Cooper of Crazy Heart fame. 2013. Rated R. 116 minutes. Box Office: $12 million.] 

DVDs:

Barbie: The Pearl Princess [The newest feature in the hugely popular animated series finds Barbie playing a mermaid who dreams of becoming a princess.  With the help of her friends, her dream may come true. The voice cast features Kelly Sheridan, Katie Crown, Mark Oliver, Rebecca Shoicet, and and Patricia Pattenden. Directed by Zeke Norton.  2014. Unrated. 74 minutes.]

Beyond Outrage ["Beat" Takeshi Kitano directed and stars in this sequel to his popular 2010 yakuza thriller Outrage.  This wild Japanese action flick has a great premise that recalls Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars: an anti-gang detective wants to use rumored dead yakuza boss Kitano as bait to start a gang war that will wipe both factions out of existence.  Toshiyuki Noshida, Tomokazu Miura, Ryo Kase, Hideo Kakano, and Yutaka Matsushige also star. 2012. Rated R. 112 minutes.]

Book Thief, The [Sure to be a big hit with mature children, young adults and teachers, this acclaimed adaptation of Marcus Zusak's bestselling book tells the moving story of an illiterate girl who is adopted by a German couple in WWII Germany and learns the joy of reading from a Jewish boarder hiding from the Nazis. She soon starts stealing books and shares them with others to keep hope alive during the war. Sophie Nelisse, Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, and Ben Scnetzer star. Composer John Williams (Schindler's List, Amistad) created the beautiful music score, which earned the film's only Academy Award nomination. 2013. Rated PG-13. 131 minutes. Box Office: $22 million.]

Broken Circle Breakdown, The [Acclaimed Belgian Netherlands Best Foreign Film Academy Award nominee starring Veerie Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh as a tattoo shop owner and a banjo player who fall in love at first despite being very different but sharing a love of American music. Unfortunately, their love is put to the test by unforeseen tragedy. Felix Van Groeningen (The Misfortunates, With Friends Like These) directed this moving musical love story. 2013. Unrated. 111 minutes.]

Homefront [2013] [Action star Jason Staham plays a widowed ex-DEA agent who moves to a small Southern town with his young daughter and is shocked to find it full of drugs and violence. He soon decides to lead a personal war against the town's drug kingpin, wonderfully played by Bay Area actor James Franco (This Is the End, Oz the Great and Powerful) going against type. Co-starring Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Clancy Brown, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and Rachelle Lefevre.  Directed by Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls, Runaway Jury). Rated R. 100 minutes.]

Inside Llewyn Davis [The Coen Brothers (Fargo, True Grit) return to O Brother Where Art Thou territory in this affectionate musical dramedy that is an homage to the early Sixties' folkie pop scene of Greenwich Village. Oscar Isaac stars as the title character, an aspiring folk singer who is trying to make it in the big time despite personal problems and a quirky personality that is a hard sell. Nominated for 2 Oscars, this feel good movie is full of catchy tunes and a charming cast that includes Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake, and F. Murray Abraham. If you are a fan of the period or curious about how the folk movement began, this film is a must.  The poster art on the cover definitely evokes early Bob Dylan LP covers. One of the best of 2013.  Recommended! Rated R. 104 minutes. Box Office: $14 million.] 

Lost in Thailand [Deliriously funny Chinese film about two very different rival businessmen who must track their boss down at a Buddhist temple to secure a valuable patent. During their wacky search, they discover that they may have some things in common after all. Xu Zheng directed this screwball farce that was China's biggest hit ever. Wang Baoqiang, Fan Bingbing, Huang Bo, and Xu Zheng star. 2012. Unrated. 105 minutes.]

Mademoiselle C [Absorbing and chic documentary about Carine Roitfeld as she moves from leader of French Vogue to starting a new magazine called CR Fashion Book. Tom Ford, Karl Langerfeld, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Upton, Donatella Versace, Diane Von Furstenberg, Linda Evangelista, Stephanie Seymour, Bruce Weber, and Jean Paul Gaultier appear. Directed by Fabien Constant. 2013. Rated R. 93 minutes.]

Monsters vs. Aliens: Supersonic Joyride [More adventures of the lovable monsters as they try to save the world from aliens in these fun TV episodes.] 

Noi [aka Noi the Albino] [Acclaimed Icelandic-German-UK-Denmark co-production about a teen slacker who lives in Iceland, meets a pretty girl and wants to move to a warmer clime but discovers lots of cold obstacles. Dagur Kari directed this offbeat coming of age comedy. Starring Tomas Lemarquis, Prostur Leo Gunnarsson, and Elin Hasdotte. 2003. Rated PG-13. 93 minutes.]

Out of the Furnace [Well-acted and underrated suspense drama starring Christian Bale (American Hustle, The Fighter) as a steel mill worker who tries to find his missing Iraq veteran brother Casey Affleck when he gets involved in a crime ring and the police won't help. In addition to fine work from Bale and Affleck, the film also contains superb performances by Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker and Sam Shepard. Directed by Scott Cooper of Crazy Heart fame. 2013. Rated R. 116 minutes. Box Office: $12 million.]

Patience Stone, The [Excellent Afghan-French-German-UK co-production featuring a fascinating story about a thirtysomething Persian Afghan woman who starts confessing her hopes and dreams to her comatose older husband, turning him into a Patience Stone, a mythological Persian stone that absorbs the confider's plight and shields them from pain and unhappiness. Hamidreza Javdan, Massi Mrowat and Hassina Burgan star. Atiq Rahimi (Earth and Ashes) directed. 2013. Rated R. 103 minutes.]

Notes by manager Steven Y. Mori.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New Releases - March 4 and 7, 2014

Tuesday, March 4:

Blu-rays:

12 Years a Slave [One of the most honored films of 2013, this tragic, brutally raw and moving drama tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a free and wealthy black man from New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in pre-Civil War Louisiana. Although we have seen this subject matter onscreen before (most notably on TV in the two Roots miniseries and on the big screen in blaxploitation films like Mandingo and Quentin Tarantino's hilariously dark comic homage Django Unchained), this is probably the most realistic and unrelentingly violent depiction of what slavery was really like in the United States.  It may be too strong and harsh for some, but the film's impact is undeniable thanks to the uncompromising, docudrama style of British director Steve McQueen (Shame, Hunger) and the superb performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor (Salt, American Gangster) as Northup and a terrific supporting cast that includes Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender, Michael K. Williams, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, and Alfre Woodard. Despite its grim story, the controversial film is a necessary reminder of one of America's saddest periods in its relatively short history. Nominated for 9 Academy Awards, it just won three major Oscars: Best Picture, Supporting Actress (Nyong'o), and Adapted Screenplay.  Recommended! Rated R. 134 minutes. Box Office: $50 million.]

Grandmaster, The [Excellent version of the true story of Ip Man, the legend who trained Bruce Lee in martial Arts. Wong Kar Wai (In the Mood for Love, My Blueberry Nights) directed this glossy Chinese production starring Tony Leung in the title role and a stellar cast including Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Song Hye-kyo, Cung Le, Chen Chang, Zhao Beshan, Xiao Shenyang, Yuen Wo Ping, and Lau Ka Yung. Nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Cinematography and Costume Design. 2013. Rated PG-13. 130 minutes. Box Office: $7 million.]

Oldboy [2013] [Spike Lee has continued making controversial directing choices over the last several years, and this ultra-violent remake of the brutal Korean classic is no exception. The story follow a man obsessed with getting bloody vengeance and finding out why he was mysteriously imprisoned in a solitary cell for 20 years. Thankfully, Lee has cast the film effectively with cult stars, including Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, W.) in the lead and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fictions, Unbreakable), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Silent House), Sharlto Copley (District 9, Elysium), and Michael Imperoli (The Sopranos). Rated R. 104 minutes.]

DVDs:


12 Years a Slave [One of the most honored films of 2013, this tragic, brutally raw and moving drama tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a free and wealthy black man from New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in pre-Civil War Louisiana. Although we have seen this subject matter onscreen before (most notably on TV in the two Roots miniseries and on the big screen in blaxploitation films like Mandingo and Quentin Tarantino's hilariously dark comic homage Django Unchained), this is probably the most realistic and unrelentingly violent depiction of what slavery was really like in the United States.  It may be too strong and harsh for some, but the film's impact is undeniable thanks to the uncompromising, docudrama style of British director Steve McQueen (Shame, Hunger) and the superb performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor (Salt, American Gangster) as Northup and a terrific supporting cast that includes Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender, Michael K. Williams, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, and Alfre Woodard. Despite its grim story, the controversial film is a necessary reminder of one of America's saddest periods in its relatively short history. Nominated for 9 Academy Awards, it just won three major Oscars: Best Picture, Supporting Actress (Nyong'o), and Adapted Screenplay.  Recommended! Rated R. 134 minutes. Box Office: $50 million.]

Beyond Outrage [Wild Japanese action flick with a great premise that recalls Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars: an anti-gang detective wants to use a rumored dead yakuza boss as bait to start a gang war that will wipe both factions out of existence.  Cult director-actor Beat Takeshi (Fireworks, Brother) directed and stars as the pivotal gangster in this sequel to 2010's Outrage. Co-starring Toshiyuki Noshida, Tomokazu Miura, Ryo Kase, Hideo Nakano, and Yutaka Matsushige. 2012. Rated R. 112 minutes.]

Free Fall [In this German drama, a young married policeman with a pregnant wife finds his life turned upside down when he falls in love with a fellow policeman. Starring Hanno Koffler, Katharina Schuttler, and Max Riemelt. Stephan Lacant directed. Some critics have called this the German Brokeback Mountain. 2013. Unrated. 100 minutes.]

Grandmaster, The [Excellent version of the true story of Ip Man, the legend who trained Bruce Lee in martial Arts. Wong Kar Wai (In the Mood for Love, My Blueberry Nights) directed this glossy Chinese production starring Tony Leung in the title role and a stellar cast including Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Song Hye-kyo, Cung Le, Chen Chang, Zhao Beshan, Xiao Shenyang, Yuen Wo Ping, and Lau Ka Yung. Nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Cinematography and Costume Design. 2013. Rated PG-13. 130 minutes. Box Office: $7 million.]

Hours [2013] [This disaster thriller/drama was one of the last films Paul Walker (The Fast and Furious, Running Scared) completed before his untimely death last year. He plays a father desperately trying to keep his newborn daughter alive during the Hurricane Katrina disaster in Louisiana.  Genesis Rodriguez, Nancy Nave, Shane Jacobson, and Lena Clark co-star. Eric Heisserer (The Thing, Final Destination 5) directed this underrated film that he also wrote.  Rated PG-13. 97 minutes.]

Oldboy [2013] [Spike Lee has continued making controversial directing choices over the last several years, and this ultra-violent remake of the brutal Korean classic is no exception. The story follow a man obsessed with getting bloody vengeance and finding out why he was mysteriously imprisoned in a solitary cell for 20 years. Thankfully, Lee has cast the film effectively with cult stars, including Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, W.) in the lead and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fictions, Unbreakable), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Silent House), Sharlto Copley (District 9, Elysium), and Michael Imperoli (The Sopranos). Rated R. 104 minutes.]

Rising from Ashes [Compelling sports documentary about cycling legend Jack Boyer as he moves to Rwanda to help the first Rwandan Cycling Team compete in the Olympics, and he and the participants find a renewed purpose in life. Directed by T.C. Johnstone. 2012. Unrated. 82 minutes.]

Somm [Fun and tart documentary about four sommeliers trying to pass the Master Sommelier test, one of the hardest in the world. Directed by Jason Wise. 2012. Unrated.]

Untold History of the United States, The [Excellent and surprising overview of the history of the US from WWII onward as only Oliver Stone (JFK, Nixon) can tell it...with plenty of twists and little known facts.  Even naysayers will be impressed with this stunning, well-researched and totally fascinating mini-series documentary that was shown on Showtime.  This expanded version even includes World War I. Highly Recommended! 2013. Unrated. Four separate rentals.]

Wicked Blood [Twisted thriller starring Abigail Breslin (The Call, Zombieland) and Alexa Vega (Spy Kids) as sisters who are mixed up in the Southern underworld thanks to their gangster uncle (Sean Bean). They try to get out of the life...with violent results. James Purefoy (The Following), Lew Temple, and Lindsay Duncan also star. Mark Young directed. 2014. Unrated. 90 minutes.]

Friday, March 7:

Blu-ray:

Hunger Games, The: Catching Fire [Get your crossbows and arrows ready! The second film in the exciting action series received even better reviews and was a bigger hit than the first film, The Hunger Games. White hot Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle)  and Josh Hutcherson (Journey to the Center of the Earth, Bridge to Terabithia) return as working class heroes Katniss and Peeta as they go on a victory tour that becomes an obstacle course when their victory encourages people to rebel against the government, making them targets of the Capitol. The shifting political climate forces the government to provide a lethal twist in the next games.   The fine supporting cast includes Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Jena Malone, Lenny Kravitz, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine, I Am Legend).  Of course, the special effects are stunning as always, but Lawrence and Hutcherson also add more depth to their characters and relationship, making one anxious to see the upcoming final two films. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 146 minutes.  Box Office: $424 million.]

DVD:

Hunger Games, The: Catching Fire [Get your crossbows and arrows ready! The second film in the exciting action series received even better reviews and was a bigger hit than the first film, The Hunger Games. White hot Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle)  and Josh Hutcherson (Journey to the Center of the Earth, Bridge to Terabithia) return as working class heroes Katniss and Peeta as they go on a victory tour that becomes an obstacle course when their victory encourages people to rebel against the government, making them targets of the Capitol. The shifting political climate forces the government to provide a lethal twist in the next games.   The fine supporting cast includes Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Jena Malone, Lenny Kravitz, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine, I Am Legend).  Of course, the special effects are stunning as always, but Lawrence and Hutcherson also add more depth to their characters and relationship, making one anxious to see the upcoming final two films. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 146 minutes.  Box Office: $424 million.]



Notes by manager Steven Y. Mori.

Monday, February 24, 2014

New Releases - February 25, 2014

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT TO VIDEO ROOM CUSTOMERS:

Beginning this week, I am pleased to announce that we will start carrying 3D Blu-rays of some of the bigger upcoming film releases. The first titles will be GRAVITY and THOR: THE DARK WORLD. To view these 3D films, you must own a 3D TV, special 3D glasses,  a 3D ready Blu-ray player and use a high speed HDMI cable. If you do not own a 3D system, you may want to check out a demo at your local Best Buy because the picture is amazing, brighter and much better than watching it in a theater, especially if the 3D theater experience bothers you because of lack of brightness or poor digital projection. Of course, at home, you can also always temporarily stop the movie if you get eye strain, which you obviously cannot do in a theater. If you already own a home 3D system  and like the idea of renting 3D movies, please let our staff know or email us. Of course, the best way to  vote  is with your dollars and/or rental blocks.  If the 3D films do well over the next few months, we will continue buying them for rental. Unfortunately, there are no major 3D titles coming in March, but in the next few months to come, huge hits like The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and other big titles are on the way!

3D Blu-rays:

Gravity [One of the best films of 2013 and one of the best sci-fi thrillers ever made, this instant classic is tied with American Hustle for the most Academy Award nominations (10 each) of the year. With only two main stars, state of the art special effects and a superb screenplay and no sight of any monsters or giant robots, director and co-screenwriter Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men) has created an unforgettable film experience that is akin to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey in its ground-breaking use of digital effects and the 3D format. On top of that, Sandra Bullock gives the performance of her career as a first-time astronaut/medical engineer who goes on a routine spacewalk when the space shuttle is destroyed leaving her and veteran astronaut George Clooney stranded in space. Although Clooney gives a solid performance, it is clearly Bullock who dominates the film with her extraordinary and emotionally moving performance. Cuaron, who has won the Directors Guild Award for Best Director among other honors, is a favorite to win the Oscar for keeping audiences on the edge of their seats. The film is also favored to win the most Academy Awards (mostly technical but probably at least one major one as well). Another reason to rejoice is the fact that the film runs an economical 91 minutes (in this day and age of most movie epics running 120-180 minutes) and not a frame is wasted. Highly recommended! 2013. PG-13. Box Office: $269 million.]

Thor: The Dark World [This second film in the Thor franchise is even better than the original. Charismatic Chris Hemsworth returns as the hunky superhero/god who has to reluctantly team with his evil brother Loki (again wonderfully played by rising star Tom Hiddleston) to battle an ancient enemy who threatens to destroy the cosmos: the Dark Elves. Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Stellan Skarsgard return as well, and the new guest cast is terrific: Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Christopher Eccelston (G.I. Joe, Rise of Cobra, Shallow Grave), Kat Dennings (TV's 2 Broke Girls),  Zachary Levi (TV's Chuck), and Rene Russo. Alan Taylor (TV's Game of Thrones) directed this Marvel film that was one of the biggest crowd-pleasing hits of 2013.  He is slated to direct the next Terminator film too. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 112 minutes. Box Office: $206 million.]

Blu-rays:

Blue Is the Warmest Color: The Criterion Collection [Controversial but acclaimed and moving French gay love story starring Adele Exarchopoulos as a high schooler who meets a sexy young woman with blue hair (hot Lea Seydoux from Mission:Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Farewell, My Queen) who changes her life and becomes her first love. From Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche (The Secret of the Grain). Although this ground-breaking film has won many awards, including one at the Cannes Film Festival, it is ironically not up for a Best Foreign Film Oscar because the distributors released it too late in France to qualify. Highly recommended but very graphic. 2013. Rated NC-17. 179 minutes. Box Office: $2 million.]

Gravity [One of the best films of 2013 and one of the best sci-fi thrillers ever made, this instant classic is tied with American Hustle for the most Academy Award nominations (10 each) of the year. With only two main stars, state of the art special effects and a superb screenplay and no sight of any monsters or giant robots, director and co-screenwriter Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men) has created an unforgettable film experience that is akin to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey in its ground-breaking use of digital effects and the 3D format. On top of that, Sandra Bullock gives the performance of her career as a first-time astronaut/medical engineer who goes on a routine spacewalk when the space shuttle is destroyed leaving her and veteran astronaut George Clooney stranded in space. Although Clooney gives a solid performance, it is clearly Bullock who dominates the film with her extraordinary and emotionally moving performance. Cuaron, who has won the Directors Guild Award for Best Director among other honors, is a favorite to win the Oscar for keeping audiences on the edge of their seats. The film is also favored to win the most Academy Awards (mostly technical but probably at least one major one as well). Another reason to rejoice is the fact that the film runs an economical 91 minutes (in this day and age of most movie epics running 120-180 minutes) and not a frame is wasted. Highly recommended! 2013. PG-13. Box Office: $269 million.]

Nebraska [Bruce Dern (The King of Marvin Gardens, Black Sunday) gives a career defining performance as a dad who goes on a wild goose chase road trip with son Will Forte for a million dollar prize. The trip itself turns out to be the true reward as the aging father and son reconcile past differences. Dern is great as always in an Oscar-nominated performance. The fine supporting cast includes June Squibb (nominated for Best Supporting Actress), Bob Odenkirk, and Stacy Keach.  Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt) did a great job directing this amiable and very moving dramedy, which he wisely chose to shoot in black and white, giving it a Seventies feel. Another one of the best films of the year and nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Highly recommended! 2013. Rated R. 115 minutes. Box Office: $16 million.]

Thor: The Dark World [This second film in the Thor franchise is even better than the original. Charismatic Chris Hemsworth returns as the hunky superhero/god who has to reluctantly team with his evil brother Loki (again wonderfully played by rising star Tom Hiddleston) to battle an ancient enemy who threatens to destroy the cosmos: the Dark Elves. Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Stellan Skarsgard return as well, and the new guest cast is terrific: Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Christopher Eccelston (G.I. Joe, Rise of Cobra, Shallow Grave), Kat Dennings (TV's 2 Broke Girls),  Zachary Levi (TV's Chuck), and Rene Russo. Alan Taylor (TV's Game of Thrones) directed this Marvel film that was one of the biggest crowd-pleasing hits of 2013.  He is slated to direct the next Terminator film too. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 112 minutes. Box Office: $206 million.]


DVDs:

Above Suspicion: Set 3 [In this popular British TV crime series, DI Kelly Reilly comes to terms with old boss Ciaran Hinds while they solve the murder of an actress. Shaun Dingwall, Michelle Holmes, Celyn Jones, and Amanda Lawrence also star. 2011. Unrated. 140 minutes.]

Barfi! [Ranbir Kapoor stars as a lovable deaf prankster whose life is thrown for a loop by two beautiful women in this irresistibly goofy Bollywood comedy. Also starring Priyanka Chopra, Ileana D. Cruz, and Rupa Ganguuly. Anurag Basu directed. 2012. Unrated. 151 minutes.]

Blue Is the Warmest Color: The Criterion Collection [Controversial but acclaimed and moving French gay love story starring Adele Exarchopoulos as a high schooler who meets a sexy young woman with blue hair (hot Lea Seydoux from Mission:Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Farewell, My Queen) who changes her life and becomes her first love. From Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche (The Secret of the Grain). Although this ground-breaking film has won many awards, including one at the Cannes Film Festival, it is ironically not up for a Best Foreign Film Oscar because the distributors released it too late in France to qualify. Highly recommended but very graphic. 2013. Rated NC-17. 179 minutes. Box Office: $2 million.]

Crash Reel, The [Exciting sports documentary timed for the Sochi Winter Olympics as it follows the rivalry between extreme snowboarders and pals Kevin Pearce and Shaun White. Mason Aguirre, Jake Burton, Danny Davis, Scotty Lago, and Jack & Luke Mitrani also appear. Directed by Lucy Walker. 2013. Unrated. 108 minutes.]

Gravity [One of the best films of 2013 and one of the best sci-fi thrillers ever made, this instant classic is tied with American Hustle for the most Academy Award nominations (10 each) of the year. With only two main stars, state of the art special effects and a superb screenplay and no sight of any monsters or giant robots, director and co-screenwriter Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men) has created an unforgettable film experience that is akin to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey in its ground-breaking use of digital effects and the 3D format. On top of that, Sandra Bullock gives the performance of her career as a first-time astronaut/medical engineer who goes on a routine spacewalk when the space shuttle is destroyed leaving her and veteran astronaut George Clooney stranded in space. Although Clooney gives a solid performance, it is clearly Bullock who dominates the film with her extraordinary and emotionally moving performance. Cuaron, who has won the Directors Guild Award for Best Director among other honors, is a favorite to win the Oscar for keeping audiences on the edge of their seats. The film is also favored to win the most Academy Awards (mostly technical but probably at least one major one as well). Another reason to rejoice is the fact that the film runs an economical 91 minutes (in this day and age of most movie epics running 120-180 minutes) and not a frame is wasted. Highly recommended! 2013. PG-13. Box Office: $269 million.]

Human Experience, The [Uplifting documentary about brothers who travel the world trying to find the answers to why we humans exist and what is the meaning of life. Jeffrey Azize, Clifford Azize, Michael Campo and Matthew Sanchez are featured. Directed by Charles Kinnane. 2008. Rated PG-13. 90 minutes.]

IT Crowd, The: Season 3 [The wackiness continues in this Britcom about quirky geeks who work in an IT department. Starring Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids), Richard Ovade, Katherine Parkinson and Matt Berry. 2009. Unrated.]

Mr. Nobody [2009] [Fascinating sci-fi drama starring Jared Leto (The Dallas Buyers Club) as the last mortal on future earth where everyone else now has quasi-immortality.  The 118 year old tells his unique story to a reporter. Sarah Polley, Rhys Ifans and Diane Kruger also star. Belgium director Jaco Van Dormel (The Eighth Day, Toto the Hero) helmed this unusual, character-oriented  fantasy which is a Belgium-German-Canadian-French co-production. 2009. Rated R. 141 minutes.]

Nebraska [Bruce Dern (The King of Marvin Gardens, Black Sunday) gives a career defining performance as a dad who goes on a wild goose chase road trip with son Will Forte for a million dollar prize. The trip itself turns out to be the true reward as the aging father and son reconcile past differences. Dern is great as always in an Oscar-nominated performance. The fine supporting cast includes June Squibb (nominated for Best Supporting Actress), Bob Odenkirk, and Stacy Keach.  Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt) did a great job directing this amiable and very moving dramedy, which he wisely chose to shoot in black and white, giving it a Seventies feel. Another one of the best films of the year and nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Highly recommended! 2013. Rated R. 115 minutes. Box Office: $16 million.]

Thor: The Dark World [This second film in the Thor franchise is even better than the original. Charismatic Chris Hemsworth returns as the hunky superhero/god who has to reluctantly team with his evil brother Loki (again wonderfully played by rising star Tom Hiddleston) to battle an ancient enemy who threatens to destroy the cosmos: the Dark Elves. Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Stellan Skarsgard return as well, and the new guest cast is terrific: Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Christopher Eccelston (G.I. Joe, Rise of Cobra, Shallow Grave), Kat Dennings (TV's 2 Broke Girls),  Zachary Levi (TV's Chuck), and Rene Russo. Alan Taylor (TV's Game of Thrones) directed this Marvel film that was one of the biggest crowd-pleasing hits of 2013.  He is slated to direct the next Terminator film too. Highly Recommended! 2013. Rated PG-13. 112 minutes. Box Office: $206 million.]

Tonight You're Mine [Cute UK rock musical romance comedy starring Luke Treadaway (Clash of the Titans, Attack the Block) as a headlining pop singer and Natalia Tena as the leader of a punk band that get handcuffed together by a security guard at a 48 hour rock festival. Also starring Matthew Baynton, Ruta Gadmintas, Kari Corbett, Alastair Mackenzie, Sophie Wu, and Al Green. Directed by David Mackenzie. 2011. Rated R. 80 minutes.]

Twice Born [Moving Italian-Spanish drama starring Penelope Cruz as a widow who takes her teen son to Sarajevo where his father died during the Bosnian conflict years ago. While they are there, memories of her lover come back to Cruz and reveal a secret. Emile Hirsch, Pietro Castellito, Adrian Haskovich, and Jane Birkin co-star. Directed by Sergio Castellito (Don't Move). 2012. Rated R. 127 minutes.]

You Will Be My Son [French drama about the patriarch of a family vineyard who bypasses his disappointing son as heir apparent in favor of the son of the estate manager, whom he chooses to take over the business. Starring Niels Arestrup, Lorant Deutsch, Patrick Chesnais, Anne Marivin, and Nicolas Bridet. Gilles Legrand directed. 2011. Rated R. 102 minutes.]    

New Arrivals:

Profumo Di Donna [aka Scent of a Woman][1974] [aka Scent of a Woman] [Long before Al Pacino won his Best Actor Oscar for Scent of a Woman, Vittorio Gassman played the same character of a blinded, embittered ex-army captain who is accompanied by a naive young army private on a trip from Turin to Naples in this generally superior original.  In addition to Gassman's deeper performance, there is excellent work from Alessandro Momo, Agostina Belli, Moira Orfei, and Franco Ricci. Directed by Dino Risi (The Priest's Wife, How Funny Can Sex Be?). Rated R. 103 minutes.] 

Vampire Collector's Set [4 vampire horror flicks for one rental: The Shadow Zone: Undead Express, a 1996 TV movie starring Chauncey Leopardi as a horror  film nut who befriends real vampire Ron Silver who leads him to a coven; Vampire Wars: Battle for the Universe aka Bloodsuckers, a 2005 TV movie about humans trying to save a world overrun by vampires with stars Joe Lando (TV's Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman), Natassia Malthe and A.J. Cook (from TV'S Criminal Minds); Nadja, a 1994 goth horror film about twin brother and sister vampires who battle each other in modern NYC starring Elina Lowensohn, Jared Harris and Peter Fonda; The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, a 2002 TV movie starring Matt Frewer (Max Headroom) and Kenneth Welsh as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as they try to solve murders that may have been caused by a vampire.]

Notes by manager Steven Y. Mori.