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.

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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.

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