October 2006

New On DVD

by Ian T. McFarland on October 31, 2006

in Home Video/DVD News 

Sorry girls and ghouls, this Tuesday’s release of new DVDs is a week one, but if you were thinking “Gee, I could sure go for more of that Tom Cruise fella,” then you are in luck.


I guess Halloween must not be an enticing day to release new discs.  All we’ve got is slim pickings this week.


Mission: Impossible III At last, it’s Tom Cruise the Movie!  After jumping on sofas and glibbing Matt Lauer, Tom Cruise has become too big for his own good.  This writer has no problem with him as an actor, what he does have a problem with is that he couldn’t watch M:i:III without being reminded of Katie Holmes or Scientology every few minutes.  Thanks to all the attention the press has paid him, it’s too difficult to forget about the man our media loves to hate so much and believe that he’s a secret agent for a couple of hours.  Having said that, J.J. Abrams does a successful job of making this one exciting and escaping the doldrums of a dull action movie, and how could any movie where Philip Seymour Hoffman is the nemesis be bad?  Let’s just hope that if there’s ever an M:i:IV, it doesn’t come around until Cruise’s tidal wave of poor popularity washes over.

Those who are planning to make the buy should know that there are two editions of the DVD – coming in single and double-disc packages.  You can hear Abrams and Cruise himself as they discuss the film in their commentary on both editions, other than that none of the special features on either of the discs sound all that enticing.  The one possible exception is a feature called “Tribute Montage: Generation: Cruise” on the two disc set.  I have no idea what that vignette contains, but a montage including Tom Cruise must be worth a couple of laughs.

Special Edition:

It’s a Wonderful Life (60th Anniversary Edition) Frank CapraJimmy Stewart.  It doesn’t take too much to convince anyone that It’s a Wonderful Life is a wonderful movie, but do you really need to own it?  It’s aired every year on NBC, and with the only special features being a making-of feature, a trailer and a short on Capra, it hardly seems worth spending money on.  You’d be better off putting it in the bank – just don’t let Mr. Potter take it.  What an asshole.


Party at the PalmsOkay, there is not much to say for the first season of this show, a late night E! network series, hosted by Jenny McCarthy, that showcases crazy parties and the even crazier girls that occupy them.  Yawn.  But something worth mentioning is that at the Amazon page for Party at the Palms, there’s an incredibly odd bundle offer of this two disc set alongside the seventh season of The West Wing together for $61.48.  Okay, that’s not much to talk about; but come on guys, it really is a slow day.

This Week

by December Lambeth on October 30, 2006

in Uncategorized

So what’s out there this week?  Well today we’ll take a look at the films scheduled to be released which include family style main stream films accompanied by a few kick butt limited release. This week’s films include Flushed Away, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, En Soap and Umrao Jaan.

C’mon in and let us get you ready for the week!


Here’s what’s scheduled to hit theaters this week.  Want to know more?  Just click on the title for film info including a full cast list.  Want a closer look?  Just click on the poster to watch the trailer.

Opening Friday:

Flushed Away

Do you think that DreamWorks Animation my actually “Flush Away” this year’s Oscar chances with their new state-of-the-art computer animated comedy? From the folks that brought us Shrek and Wallace & Gromit: The Cures of the Were-Rabbit, it’s Flushed Away a story about a royalty pampered pet mouse, Roddy St. James (Hugh Jackman), who finds himself flushed down the toilet and out to survive in the sewers of London. Underground, Roddy finds a new life, rather a new way of life; he meets up with Rita (Kate Winslet), a girl with a mission who knows her way around the back alleys of the sewer. Roddy stumbles over a bit of danger with a nasty old Toad (Sir Ian McKellen), who hates all rodents and sends Le Frog (Jean Reno) to wack Roddy and Rita both. Does Roddy and Rita escape, will they fall in love and have hundreds of baby rodents, you will have to go and see for yourself. Flushed Away promises some serious toilet humor, wicked awesome animation, brilliant and colorful characters and top-notch voice talents. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m going to say that Flushed Away could be the Oscar’s animation contender of the year; then again, there is very little competition for that spot. Rated PG for crude humor and some language and opening wide this Friday November 3rd, all ages should get a few laughs out of various levels of humor; go ahead take the family. I forecast a rating of 3.5 razors for Flushed Away.

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

No, not another, listen The Santa Clause 1 was cute and funny, but 2 sucked on every level, 3 has got to be either really bad or really really bad. Now that I’ve said that, I’ll go see it, just because it’s tradition, I’ve experienced every level to the Clause films and have to see it through. Tim’s got to be running out of steam and Martin Short has to be completely desperate for a part in a film, think about it, how long has it been since we have seen either one of them in a movie? In round 3 Scott Calvin/Santa Clause (Tim Allen) and wife Carol/Mrs. Clause (Elizabeth Mitchell) invite up the whole family for the holidays, including the in-laws. Santa, on top of dealing with the in-laws and a new baby on the way, must keep Jack Frost (Martin Short) under control. Jack Frost spends his time trying to figure out how to take over Santa’s kingdom and holiday. With the help of the family and elves Santa beats Jack Frost at his little scheme and keeps him in his place. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause should be humorous and innocent for the whole family; the past Clause films have proven to be good wholesome family holiday entertainment. I forecast a rating of razor bombs for The Santa Clause 3.

Opening Friday, in Limited Release:

En Soap

Charlotte (Trine Dryholm) leaves her abusive boyfriend and moves out on her own, becoming an upstairs neighbor to a transsexual. Veronica (David Dencik) is the transsexual who lives down stairs from a 32-year-old Charlotte, Veronica sells herself to raise money for her operation and is pretty much a loner who stays in her apartment all day hooked on an American soap opera. The two have a chance meeting after an assault and become close friends in their own little soap opera. It’s hard to find much on En Soap, except it’s a Danish film, not Hollywood at all, the two lead characters are rich and well portrayed by the talent and the film has a bit of humor with a twist of drama. I must admit, that I am quite curious about En Soap, but bet it will be a hard one to find for viewing purposes. This is a very hard forecast, but from what I can tell I’m going with 3.5 razors for En Soap.

Umrao Jaan

Umrao Jaan is a Bollywood style film based on 1982 classic, with the same name, and an adaptation of the Urdu novel “Umrao Jan Ada” by Mirza Haadi Ruswa from 1905.  O.P. Dutta, both the director and screenplay writer, has a great deal to live up to in this historic tale of love and strength about an intelligent and poetic courtesan. A little girl found her father imprisoned and she herself sold to Khannum Sahib (Shabana Azmi), owner of a ‘kotha’ in Lucknow. (kotha was a place of cultural activities such as dancing, literature, music and poetry) The little girl was given her name, Umrao (Aishwarya Rai), and was raised within the confines of the ‘kotha’, brought up with an education and in style.  As she became a young lady her writing abilities flourished along with her great beauty, every man wanted to watch her sing and dance. Every man wanted her, but only the elite were allowed to be in her company. Her true love, a young man who is seen as an outlaw, Faiz Ali (Suneil Shetty), is the only man for her, but she must deceive all she knows to be with him. Umrao Jaan is a true Bollywood romance, it’s beautifully shot and lavishly costumed with a raw mix of very talented actors that work together with every respect to the story. I forecast 4.5 razors for Umrao Jaan.

A Nation Mourns

by Alan Rapp on October 27, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Queen
  • IMDB: link

the-queen-posterAfter the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, a country mourns.  Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) struggles with dealing with the personal loss of her family with the grieving country that wants solace and comfort from their sovereign.

The new Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), tries to counsel the Queen to fight her nature and stoic resolve and allow the country to take part in the mourning of Diana’s death.

Stephen Frears gives us a behind the scenes looks at a power struggle between a modern man and a woman who’s refinement seems to be preventing her from what her country needs.  The film is shot in a way to allow real footage to be mixed into the film, including images and interviews with Diana herself.

Frears understands the delicacy of the issue involved and at no point does he try to trivialise or sensationalize the events.  He shows both a nation and family dealing with death in their own way.

[click to continue…]

Dysfunction Junction

by Alan Rapp on October 27, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

If you enjoyed Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums here’s a film for you.  From the memoir of Augusten Burroughs comes his experiences surrounded by an insanity.  With a great cast including Annette Benning, Brian Cox, Evan Rachel Wood, Joseph Fiennes, Gwynth Paltrow (who was also in Tenenbaums) and Alec Baldwin we’ve got something worth enjoying.  It’s not a great film, but it is an enjoyable and bizarre comedy that should make you laugh.

Running with Scissors
3 & 1/2 Stars

It’s not Little Miss Sunshine, (read that review here), it doesn’t have its heart, but Running with Scissors does present wildly entertaining moments about a collection of some of the most screwed-up people you’re likely to view together in a film.  It’s a journey of one sane individual who finds himself trapped in an increasingly insane world. 

Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross) is surrounded by insanity.  His father (Alec Baldwin) lives at the bottom of a bottle distraught over his wife’s insanity, and his mother (Annete Bening) believes herself to be America’s next great poet – except she can’t seem to get published by even the smallest journals.

From this family Augusten is pawned off onto his mother’s psychiatrist Dr. Finch (Brian Cox), who’s office includes a “masturbatorium” – a room set aside for the doctor to, well you get the idea.  It’s just one of many eccentricities of Finch and his family.

Dr. Cox’s family makes Augesten’s seem strangely normal.  There’s his mousey wife (Jill Clayburgh), the oldest daughter Hope (Gwyneth Paltrow) who believes the cat can telepathically communicate to her, and the patient and adopted son Neil Bookman (Joseph Fiennes, in an almost completely unrecognizable performance) a 30-something schizophrenic who begins a physical relationship with young Augusten. 

The only normal person in the household is young Natalie (Evan Rachel Wood), though her idea of playing doctor will show you what passes for normalcy in the film.

The cast is terrific.  Cross does an amazing job presenting Augusten’s torment in every moment of his existence.  Benning proves she can play a great crazy lady and Cox provides some of the funniest moments of the film.  And Clayburgh and Evan Rachel Wood provide a few, precious few, moments of sanity and compassion.  The film also presents funny supporting performances from Kristin Chenoweth and Gabrielle Union who each have a unique relationship with Augusten’s mother.

The film’s real weakness is to always, without exception, to go for the absurd.  The results of this create amusing moments and some of the best individual lines of dialogue this year in film, but the overall effect creates a film of great highs and lows that becomes more and more of a caricature of memoir than memoir itself.  Based off the memoir of Augsten Burroughs you wonder how much reality was used to create these characters and situations, and if just a little more could have made this funny little film into something more.

As a whole the film never quite lives up to its potential; it’s more of a series of great moments stolen from a book than a fully realized film.  Like most novels made into movies the film feels unrestrained and over-condensed at the same time as too much is presented, but not enough explained.  Still with these performances and some great comic moments there’s enough here to enjoy.

Cocaine Cowboys

by Alan Rapp on October 27, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

The year of the documentary continues with this enaging film on the 1980’s drug trade in Miami.  In a film that is sure to enrage law enforcement officials, Cocaine Cowboys takes a look back at the mind-boggling business of the cocaine trade that began in the late 70’s, became the template for Miami Vice,  and ended in brutality and murder.

Cocaine Cowboys
4 Stars

Ronald Reagan won’t like this film.  It examines both sides of the drug war in Miami during the late 70’s and 80’s and, while amditing to the horrific consequences of the situation, doesn’t condemn drugs.  Instead the documentary simply follows the events and the people involved, and looks at the good and bad effects the cocaine business left as a legacy in Miami.

The documentary, presented by director Billy Corben (Raw Deal: A Question of Consent), looks back at the once sleepy retirement town of Miami, and how some seemingly harmless white powder would change everything overnight.  Miami became the happening hot spot and the center of an annual $20 billion dollar franchise – cocaine.

It’s a tale of astronomical numbers and mind-boggling profit.  The cocaine business changed Miami from top to bottom as the wealth came pouring in, but with it came the cocaine, and later violence that would shock a nation.  The film features interviews with drug dealers, trafficers, and law enforcement officers engaged in ending what would become a bloody snapshot of American history.

It didn’t start out that way of course.  The tale presented here is a tale of wealth, luxurity and fun, that except for the prescence of one insane drug lord whose paranoia and need for violence brought attention and an end to an largely unaware public.

The film works as a historical perspective and as a character study as it interviews the men and methods behind the drug trade in Miami.  What begins as amusing tale as the drug dealers discuss the ease at which they worked, becomes stark and menacing with the unchecked violence that ended the period in a bloody mess.

I was lucky enough to see the documentary at FilmFest KC this year and would recommend it to all who can stomach the subject matter.  The documentary does include violent scenes and footage as well as some material that would be unsuitable for young children.  As a film that presents the drug trade with a balanced eye, it’s very educational and will keep you in suspense throughout its near two-hour running time.