44 Inch Chest - In this brutal British crime thriller, Ray Winstone stars as a gangster who discovers his wife is leaving him for a younger man. His protective gangland pals kidnap the poor guy and offer him up to their friend for suitable punishment. Will Winstone kill the guy or merely torture him? Or do something more unexpected? The great cast also includes Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane, Joanne Whalley and Melvil Poupaud. With commentary, interview and featurette. Directed by Malcolm Venville. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 95 minutes. R.
Avatar [April 22nd release date] - Let's get the obvious out of the way first. This film has become the highest grossing film in box office history [of course, if you factor in inflation, the winner would actually be Gone with the Wind by several billion dollars]. Logic might seem to suggest that the highest grossing film would be the greatest film ever made. However, Avatar is NOT the greatest movie ever made by a long shot, in my opinion. There are literally hundreds of films that are greater than this film. That being said, it is still an excellent and highly enjoyable if slightly flawed science fiction/fantasy/action/romance/war epic and is a must see at least once. The futuristic story follows a paraplegic Marine named Jake (played by newcomer Sam Worthington) whose assignment is to convince the blue-skinned natives known as the Na'vi on a planet called Pandora to sell or give part of their land to the United States. [Apparently, the future Marine Corps is big on repeating the successes and failures of how the U.S. dealt with the American Indians and how George W. Bush dealt with the Middle East]. His mission is made possible by turning him into a macho nine foot tall blue avatar that will allow him to relate to the natives. As he bonds with the Na'vi (particularly a beautiful one, played by Zoe Saldana, who trains him), he finds himself torn between the scientists (led by Sigourney Weaver) who want to work with the Na'vi to preserve their culture & land and the gung ho general (Stephen Lang) who is bent on getting their precious land no matter what it takes. Predictably, Jake chooses to side with the scientists and the Marines unleash hell on the Na'vi unless Jake can stop them in time. The weakest part of the film is its script and storyline, which is an extremely familiar story set in a different world. As many critics have mentioned, it borrows liberally from Dances with Wolves, Aliens, Star Wars, Star Trek, The Emerald Forest, Ferngully-The Last Rainforest, A Man Called Horse, and many others. For me, it reminds me the most of Little Big Man transplanted into an alien world, with the more buffed Worthington stepping into the mocassins of the much more quirky and shorter Dustin Hoffman, who played a white man adopted by American Indians and eventually goes head to head with General Custer. The strongest part of the story is Cameron's obvious pro-ecological message, but that is nearly obliterated by the impressive but way too long climactic battle. Despite its weak story, the other aspects are overall excellent. The performances by Worthington (who has since gone on to do the hit redo of Clash of the Titans), Saldana, Lang (a standout as the snarling villain), Weaver (also great in a multi-layered role), Giovanni Ribisi, and Michelle Rodriguez are all fine although I must say the much talked about romance between Worthington and Saldana was good but somewhat overrated. Composer James Horner [Titanic and Star Trek II] contributes a superb musical score, mixing native themes and bold action cues deftly. But the real stars of the film are its astounding CGI special effects and art direction, which are truly groundbreaking. The Na'vi and the beautiful world they inhabit are about as real as CGI can get. On top of that, the 3D presentation in theatres is the best in film history, clearly accounting for much of its gross, and Cameron manages to make the best use ever of the extra dimension, making it jaw-dropping without seeming gimmicky or gratuitous. Unfortunately or fortunately, the DVD and Blu-ray are being released in 2-D only with no extras. The fortunate part is that we won't have to suffer through a so-so red and cyan glasses 3D version like we have with other 3D DVD releases. The unfortunate news is that we will probably have to wait until November for a 3D director's cut and that the best 3D version may be available only on one of the new 3D TV formats which will need special TVs and equipment. For now, we will have to settle for this 2D version of regular DVD and a hopefully far superior high def Blu-ray. It will be interesting to see if the home viewing experience can match the spectacular big screen theatrical presentation. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 162 minutes. PG-13.
Batman Brave and the Bold Volume 2 and Volume 3 - 9 more epis of the popular animated series continuing the adventures of Batman. 2 separate rentals. Volume 2 = 4 epis. Volume 3 = 5 epis. 16x9 Widescreen.
Beeswax - Tilly & Maggie Hatcher play twin sisters who are trying to save a vintage clothing store that one of them co-owns. When they call in an ex-boyfriend/law student (Alex Karpovsky) to help, things get even more complicated in this well-reviewed indie comedy. With featurette and alternate musical soundtrack. Directed by Andrew Bujalski [Funny Ha Ha]. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 92 minutes. Unrated.
Citizen Duane - In this feel-good Canadian comedy that people like to compare to Napoleon Dynamite, a schoolyard rivalry prompts a quirky young man to run for mayor. The supporting cast includes a lot of familiar faces. Starring Douglas Smith, Vivica A. Fox, Devon Bostick, Jane McGregor, Rosemary Dunsmore, Kevin Jubinville, Alberta Watson, and Donal Logue. Directed by Michael Mabbott. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen.
Cloud 9 - In this German dramedy, a middle-aged woman tries to decide whether to stay with her husband of many years or leave him for a new love. Starring Ursula Werner, Horst Rehberg, Horst Westphal, Steffi Kuhnert. In German with Englis subtitles. Directed by Andreas Dresen. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 98 minutes. Unrated.
Crazy Heart - Jeff Bridges won his first and well-deserved Best Actor Oscar for his moving portrait of Bad Blake, a hard-living country singer whose lifestyle is finally catching up with him and destroying his career until he meets a young and appealing journalist (well-played by Maggie Gyllenhaal). With her help and a little nudge from his protege and potential rival (Colin Farrell), Blake manages to turn his life around. Bridges gives the performance of his life as the troubled singer, which is remniscent of Robert Duvall's Oscar-winning turn in Tender Mercies. The comparison is a logical one since Robert Duvall has a featured part in the film and is also one of the co-producers. With deleted scenes. Directed by Scott Cooper. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 111 minutes. R.
Crimes of Fashion. Hot stars Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) and Megan Fox (Transformers) co-starred in this cute comedy TV film long before they became hot sex symbols. Cuoco plays a would-be fashion designer who has to take over her grandfather's position as the head of a mob when he dies unexpectedly. Well, you have to give the movie some points for having a unique plotline. Also starring Dominic Chianese (The Sopranos) and Pat Kelly. Directed by Stuart Gilliard. 2004. 16x9 Widescreen. 90 minutes.
Deadly Impact - A retired cop is forced back to the job when an elusive killer and old nemesis returns to his killing ways. Sean Patrick Flannery (Young Indiana Jones) plays the cop, Joe Pantoliano plays the nasty villain and Carmen Serano plays the FBI agent assisting Flannery. Directed by Robert Kurtzman. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 96 minutes. Unrated.
Dennis the Menace: Special Edition. The enjoyable big screen version of Hank Ketcham's beloved comic strip character has been remastered with new extras. The movie, which was written by John Hughes and bears some resemblance to his Home Alone series, is an amusing battle of wits between the well-meaning Dennis (extremely well-played by the earnest Mason Gamble) and his exasperated middle-aged neighbor Mr. Wilson (brilliantly embodied by Walter Matthau at his most erascible), and its safe to say that Dennis turns into an unwitting menace whenever he's around Mr. Wilson. The fine supporting cast includes Christopher Lloyd, Joan Plowright, Lea Thompson, and Paul Winfield. With several new featurettes and interviews. Directed by Nick Castle. 1993. 16x9m Widescreen. 96 minutes. PG.
Lovely Bones, The - Peter Jackson [The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and King Kong] returns to directing with an intriguing change of pace. In this ethereal noir thriller, a young girl who was murdered (Saorise Ronan from Atonement) tries to help her grieving parents find her killer so she can move on to the next world. The great cast includes Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, and Michael Imperoli. The always great Stanley Tucci was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as the creepy murderer. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 130 minutes. PG-13.
Madeline Movie, The: Lost in Paris - The 2001 animated feature has finally been released on DVD. Based on the popular children's book series, this film has Madeline, the littlest of 12 girls living in a boarding school, taken to a new home by her long lost uncle but she misses her old life, With guest voices Jason Alexander, Christopher Plummer and Lauren Bacall. 2001. Full Screen. 75 minutes. Unrated.
Mammoth - Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams star as a workaholic couple who leave their 8 year old daughter in the care of a Filipino nanny most of the time, but events in another part of the world threaten to change their family dynamic. The drama also stars Marife Necesito, Sophie Nyweide, Ron Shinkornchot, Tom McCarthy, and Jan Nichoad. Directed by Lukas Moodysson [Together]. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 126 minutes. Unrated.
Party Down: Season 1 - Adam Scott. Ken Marino, Jane Lynch [Glee], Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr, and Lizzy Caplan star as struggling actors who work for a catering company while waiting to be discovered in this witty and likeable Starz TV comedy series. Disc 1 = Epis 1-5. Disc 2 = Epis 6-9. With commentary, deleted scenes, and featurettes. 2 separate rentals. 2009. 16x9 widescreen. Unrated.
Peacock - This little-seen mystery has an interesting premise. Small town Peacock, Nebraska is shaken by a train derailment that almost destroys a house owned by a quiet bank clerk (Cillian Murphy), but even more shocking is the secret life that the clerk may be living. The fine cast features Susan Sarandon, Ellen Page, Keith Carradine, Josh Lucas, and Bill Pullman. With featurette and deleted scenes. Directed by Michael Lander. 2010. 16x9 Widescreen. 91 minutes. PG-13.
Sensation of Sight, The - David Strathairn stars as a middle-aged teacher who finds himself disconnected from the world around him when tragedy strikes. This downbeat character study also stars Jan Somerhalder, Daniel Gillies, Jane Adams, Ann Cusack, Elisabeth Waterston, Joe Mazzello, and Scott Wilson. With featurette. Directed by Aaron J. Wiederspahn. 2008. 16x9 Widescreen. 134 minutes. R.
Summer Hours - Charles Berlin, Juliette Binoche and Jeremie Renier star in this French drama about siblings who find out more about each other while trying to dispose of their late mother's belongings. Directed by Olivier Assayas. In French with English subtitles. 2 discs. With documentary and interview. 2008. 16x9 widescreen. 103 minutes. Unrated.
Taxidermia - This Hungarian/Austrian/French horror flick is an ultra-weird chiller about three generations of men who are damned from birth (including one who shoots flames out of his penis!). Don't say we didn't warn you. Starring Csaba Czene, Gergo Troscanyj, Marc Bischoff, Jstvan Gyuriczam and Proska Molnar. In Hungarian with English subtitles. With featurette. Directed by Gyorgyu Palfi. 2006. 16x9 Widescreen. 91 minutes. Unrated.
Tenure - Luke Wilson (Mr. AT & T) plays a teacher who freaks out when he has to face the challenge of getting tenure in this quirky indie comedy. . The appealing cast includes David Koechner, Gretchen Mol, Sasha Alexander, William Bogert, Rosemarie Dewitt, Andrew Daly and Bob Gunton. With deleted scenes. Directed by Mike Million. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 89 minutes. R.
Tulpan - In this Kazakh romantic comedy, a young Russian naval serviceman returns to his work as a nomadic shepherd but before he can settle down, he has to win the heart of an enticing neighbor named Tuplan. In Kazakh with English subtitles. With interview. Directed by Kazakh documentarian Sergey Dvortsevoy. 2008. 16x9 Widescreen. 100 minutes. Unrated.
Uncertainty - Two very different days (one good, one tragic) in the life of a couple (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lynn Collins) are explored in this offbeat dramatic thriller. Also starring Assumpta Serta. and Olivia Thirlby. With stills and auditions. Directed by Scott McGhee and David Siegel [Bee Season and The Deep End]. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 105 minutes. Unrated.
Vivre Sa Vie - Jean-Luc Godard directed this moving character study starring one of his favorite actresses, Anna Karina, as a would-be actress who becomes a prostitute to make ends meet. With commentary and interviews. 1962. Black & White. Full Screen. 83 minutes. Unrated.
Young Victoria - Emily Blunt gives a memorable performance as a very young Queen Victoria in this sumptuous period romance. Although the older Victoria has been featured in many films, this is one of the rare dramas to tackle her inexperienced early reign and her passionate love for a prince (Rupert Friend). Also starring several fine actors including Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Thomas Kretschmann, Mark Strong, Jesper Christensen and Harriet Walter. The costumes, art direction and photography are absolutely stunning. With deleted scenes and featurettes. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. 2009. 16x9 Widescreen. 105 minutes. PG.
Avatar - Still no extras but obviously a much better picture and sound and it also includes the regular DVD for comparison.
Crazy Heart - With deleted scenes and featurette.
Lovely Bones, The - Where the DVD has no extras, this Blu-ray has a nearly 3 hour immersive 15 week diary hosted by director Peter Jackson and co-writer Philippa Boyens.
Young Victoria - Has the same extras as the DVD but also adds movieIQ+synch and BD Live with real-time info about the film.
Descriptions written by manager Steven Y. Mori
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.
info @ videoroomoakland.com
info @ videoroomoakland.com