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|V for Vendetta (Widescreen Edition)
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Set against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, V For Vendetta tells the story of a mild-mannered young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by a masked man (Hugo Weaving) known only as "V." Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he urges his fellow citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression. As Evey uncovers the truth about V's mysterious background, she also discovers the truth about herself - and emerges as his unlikely ally in the culmination of his plan to bring freedom and justice back to a society fraught with cruelty and corruption.
"Remember, remember the fifth of November," for on this day, in 2020, the minds of the masses shall be set free. So says code-name V (Hugo Weaving), a man on a mission to shake society out of its blank complacent stares in the film V for Vendetta. His tactics, however, are a bit revolutionary, to say the least. The world in which V lives is very similar to Orwell's totalitarian dystopia in 1984: after years of various wars, England is now under "big brother" Chancellor Adam Sutler (played by John Hurt, who played Winston Smith in the movie 1984), whose party uses force and fear to run the nation. After they gained power, minorities and political dissenters were rounded up and removed; artistic and unacceptable religious works were confiscated. Cameras and microphones are littered throughout the land, and the people are perpetually sedated through the governmentally controlled media. Taking inspiration from Guy Fawkes, the 17th century co-conspirator of a failed attempt to blow up Parliament on November 5, 1605, V dons a Fawkes mask and costume and sets off to wake the masses by destroying the symbols of their oppressors, literally and figuratively. At the beginning of his vendetta, V rescues Evey (Natalie Portman) from a group of police officers and has her live with him in his underworld lair. It is through their relationship where we learn how V became V, the extremities of the party's corruption, the problems of an oppressive government, V's revenge plot, and his philosophy on how to induce change.
Based on the popular graphic novel by Alan Moore, V for Vendetta's screenplay was written by the Wachowski brothers (of The Matrix fame) and directed by their protégé, James McTeigue. Controversy and criticism followed the film since its inception, from the hyper-stylized use of anarchistic terrorism to overthrow a corrupt government and the blatant jabs at the current U.S. political arena, to graphic novel fans complaining about the reconstruction of Alan Moore's original vision (Moore himself has dismissed the film). Many are valid critiques and opinions, but there's no hiding the message the film is trying to express: Radical and drastic events often need to occur in order to shake people out of their state of indifference in order to bring about real change. Unfortunately, the movie only offers a means with no ends, and those looking for answers may find the film stylish, but a bit empty. --Rob Bracco
The graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
More by Alan Moore
From Graphic Novel to Big Screen
More by Natalie Portman
More by Hugo Weaving
More by the Wachowski Brothers
- Set against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, V For Vendetta tells the story of a mild-mannered young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by a masked man (Hugo Weaving) known only as "V." Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he urges his fellow citizens to rise
|The Lives of Others
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This critically-acclaimed, Oscar®-winning film (Best Foreign Language Film, 2006) is the erotic, emotionally-charged experience Lisa Schwarzbaum (Entertainment Weekly) calls "a nail-biter of a thriller!" Before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, East Germany’s population was closely monitored by the State Secret Police (Stasi). Only a few citizens above suspicion, like renowned pro-Socialist playwright Georg Dreyman, were permitted to lead private lives. But when a corrupt government official falls for Georg’s stunning actress-girlfriend, Christa, an ambitious Stasi policeman is ordered to bug the writer’s apartment to gain incriminating evidence against the rival. Now, what the officer discovers is about to dramatically change their lives - as well as his - in this seductive political thriller Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) proclaims is "the best kind of movie: one you can’t get out of your head."
Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, this is a first-rate thriller that, like Bertolucci's The Conformist and Coppola's The Conversation, opts for character development over car chases. The place is East Berlin, the year is 1984, and it all begins with a simple surveillance assignment: Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe in a restrained, yet deeply felt performance), a Stasi officer and a specialist in this kind of thing, has been assigned to keep an eye on Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch, Black Book), a respected playwright, and his actress girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck, Mostly Martha). Though Dreyman is known to associate with the occasional dissident, like blacklisted director Albert Jerska (Volkmar Kleinert), his record is spotless. Everything changes when Wiesler discovers that Minister Hempf (Thomas Thieme) has an ulterior motive in spying on this seemingly upright citizen. In other words, it's personal, and Wiesler's sympathies shift from the government to its people--or at least to this one particular person. That would be risky enough, but then Wiesler uses his privileged position to affect a change in Dreyman's life. The God-like move he makes may be minor and untraceable, but it will have major consequences for all concerned, including Wiesler himself. Writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck starts with a simple premise that becomes more complicated and emotionally involving as his assured debut unfolds. Though three epilogues is, arguably, two too many, The Lives of Others is always elegant, never confusing. It's class with feeling. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Beyond The Lives of Others
Stills from The Lives of Others (click for larger image)
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|The Neverending Story
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Brand: Warner Brothers
Enter a fantastic world where the strongest power is the power of the imagination. When he comes across a book that can project the reader into its story, a young boy becomes part of a wondrous adventure in a land of flying dragons, evil wolves, gnomes, and a warrior-child who must fight to save it from destruction. Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach, Gerald McRaney star. 92 min. Standard and Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital Surround stereo, French Dolby Digital Surround stereo; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; theatrical trailer.
Wolfgang Petersen (In the Line of Fire) made his first English-language film with this 1984 fantasy about a boy (Barret Oliver) visualizing the stories of a book he's reading. The imagined tale involves another boy, a warrior (Noah Hathaway), and his efforts to save the empire of Fantasia from a nemesis called the Nothing. Whether or not the scenario sticks in the memory, what does linger are the unique effects, which are not quite like anything else. Plenty of good fairy-tale characters and memorable scenes, and the film even encourages kids to read. --Tom Keogh
|Imagine Me & You
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Piper Perabo lights up the screen as Rachel, a blushing bride whose perfect nuptials take a surprising turn at the altar. An innocent glance between Rachel and an unexpected wedding guest is all it takes to spark a 'love at first sight' romance with a surprising twist -- the object of Rachel's affection is a smart and sensuous... woman! Their shocking romance causes quite a stir amongst her family and friends as Rachel is forced to choose between her husband and the girl of her dreams. Say 'I do' to the wonderfully witty film that Cosmopolitan calls "a refreshing romantic comedy."
Writer/director Ol Parker's debut takes its title from "Happy Together" by the Turtles ("Imagine me and you / and you and me") and its inspiration from the romantic comedies of Richard Curtis (Love Actually). There's a twist. Flower shop owner Luce (Lena Headey, The Brothers Grimm) is gay. Newlywed Rachel (a convincingly UK-accented Piper Perabo, Lost and Delirious) is straight. The two meet at Rachel's wedding--Luce designed the floral arrangements--and feel an instant connection. Rachel brushes it off. After all, the charming Heck (Matthew Goode, Match Point) was her best friend long before he became her husband. Shortly after the ceremony, however, she begins to feel as if something is missing. She starts making excuses to see Luce. First it's to thank her for the flowers, then it's to invite her to dinner with Heck and their on-the-make pal Cooper (a hilarious Darren Boyd)...who's crushed when he discovers that Luce prefers women. Rachel, meanwhile, finds married life pleasant enough, but only really feels alive when she's with Luce. It's tricky, because she loves Heck and doesn't want to hurt his feelings, so she and Luce decide to stop seeing each other. But the bond between the two is too powerful for either to resist. What it may lack in originality, Imagine Me & You makes up for in an enchanting soundtrack and sensitive performances from its three likable leads. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Nominated for 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and winner of 3, The Pianist stars Oscar winner Adrien Brody in the true-life story of brilliant pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, the most acclaimed young musician of his time until his promising career was interrupted by the onset of World War II. This powerful, ultimately triumphant film follows Szpilman’s heroic and inspirational journey of survival with the unlikely help from a sympathetic German officer (Thomas Kretschmann). A truly unforgettable epic, testifying to both the power of hope and the resiliency of the human spirit, The Pianist is a miraculous tale of survival masterfully brought to life by visionary filmmaker Roman Polanski in his most personal movie ever.
Winner of the prestigious Golden Palm award at the 2002 Cannes film festival, The Pianist is the film that Roman Polanski was born to direct. A childhood survivor of Nazi-occupied Poland, Polanski was uniquely suited to tell the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew and concert pianist (played by Adrien Brody) who witnessed the Nazi invasion of Warsaw, miraculously eluded the Nazi death camps, and survived throughout World War II by hiding among the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto. Unlike any previous dramatization of the Nazi holocaust, The Pianist steadfastly maintains its protagonist's singular point of view, allowing Polanski to create an intimate odyssey on an epic wartime scale, drawing a direct parallel between Szpilman's tenacious, primitive existence and the wholesale destruction of the city he refuses to abandon. Uncompromising in its physical and emotional authenticity, The Pianist strikes an ultimate note of hope and soulful purity. As with Schindler's List, it's one of the greatest films ever made about humanity's darkest chapter. --Jeff Shannon
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Called dramatic, accurate and harrowing by the San Francisco Chronicle and nominated for the Oscar(r)for Best Foreign Film, Downfall takes you into Hitler's bunker during the brutal and harrowing last days of the Third Reich. Seen through the eyes of Hitler's infamous secretary Traudl Junge, optimism crumbles into grim realization and terror as it becomes clear that Germany's defeat is inevitable. As the Russian army circles the city, the dimly lit halls of the underground refuge become an execution chamber for the Fuhrer and his closest advisors.
|Havoc (Unrated Version)
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A group of wealthy Los Angeles teenagers try to become part of the "gangsta" lifestyle but soon run into trouble when they come face to face with a real gang of Latino drug dealers.
After making her name in The Princess Diaries, Anne Hathaway takes a radical detour with this edgy independent drama. As Allie, a wealthy gangsta wannabe, she makes no excuses for her delinquent behavior: "We're just teenagers and we're bored." When her Pacific Palisades posse, including pal Emily (Bully's Bijou Phillips), starts hanging out with a Latino gang (including Six Feet Under's Freddy Rodríguez), they learn what thug life is really about. Hathaway couldn't be more game: She swears, she fights--she disrobes (several times). Written and directed by Oscar winners Stephen Gaghan (Traffic) and Barbara Kopple (American Dream), Havoc plays like a B movie, in the vein of the superior crazy/beautiful, and was released straight to video. For Hathaway fans, it's a chance to see this young talent in a very different light, but for Gaghan and Kopple followers, this lurid morality tale is sure to come as a letdown. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
- A group of wealthy Los Angeles teenagers try to become part of the "gangsta" lifestyle but soon run into trouble when they come face to face with a real gang of Latino drug dealers.Running Time: 92 min. Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA Rating: NR Age: 794043843228 UPC: 794043843228 Manufacturer No: N8432
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One of Andrei Tarkovsky(Solaris, The Sacrifice) most acclaimed films, Stalker is an unforgettable film experience that evokes the spiritual lucidity of Carl Dreyer and the unbridled imagination of Philip K. Dick. Since its release in 1979, Stalker has inspired filmmakers as diverse as David Lynch and Steven Spielberg and ensnared audiences in a labyrinth of striking imagery revealing the familiar in the strange, the poetic in the disturbing and the mythic in the mordant. In the near future, an unseen alien force has taken possession of an area of Russian wilderness that authorities, have dubbed The Zone. The only thing known for sure about the region is that few who enter it ever return. Led by a Stalker one of a small group of outlaws able to safely navigate the Zone, a renegade scientist and a cynical, burnt out writer penetrate the dangers outside in search of the power and transcendence rumored to exist inside. The Stalker longs to un-do a mysterious physical transformation the Zone has performed on his young daughter. The scientist will risk anything to see that reason triumphs over faith. The writer seeks a germ of inspiration that the crumbling and corrupt world beyond the Zone no longer provides. Together, these three men become desperate pilgrims walking a desolate trail leading to one of the most enigmatic and tantalizing endings in the history of cinema. A haunting and honest meditation on the intersections of science, feeling, and faith.Stalker is both profoundly unsettling and deeply moving.
Challenging, provocative, and ultimately rewarding, Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker is a mind-bending experience that defies explanation. Like Tarkovsky's earlier and similarly enigmatic science fiction classic Solaris, this long, slow, meditative masterpiece demands patience and total attention; anyone accustomed to faster pacing is likely to abandon the nearly three-hour film before its first hour is over. On the other hand, those who approach Tarkovsky's work in a properly receptive (and wide awake) frame of mind are likely to appreciate the film's seductive depth of theme and hypnotic imagery. Set in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic future (although the time-frame is never specified), the eerie and unsettling story focuses on the title character, Stalker (Aleksandr Kajdanovsky), who leads characters known only as the Writer (Anatoli Solonitsyn) and the Scientist (or Professor, played by Nikolai Grinko) into a mysterious region called The Zone. Tarkovsky films their journey as a long odyssey, or religious pilgrimage, and center of The Zone--said to be under an alien influence--is where each of these men hopes to find a kind of personal transcendence. Despite obvious parallels to The Wizard of Oz, Tarkovsky's film is devoid of special effects or any fantastical elements typically associated with science fiction or fantasy. Instead, Stalker makes astonishing use of sound and bleak-but-beautiful imagery to envelope the viewer into the eerie atmosphere of The Zone and the dank, colorless landscape that surrounds it. And while the film's glacial pacing may be off-putting to some viewers, there's no denying that Stalker has a mesmerizing power of its own, including a thought-provoking and highly debatable ending that propels the film to a higher level of meaning and significance. --Jeff Shannon
|Death at a Funeral
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From acclaimed director Frank Oz (In & Out, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) comes "a fast, furious and riotously funny farce" (Maxim) that'll have you dying with laughter!
As the mourners and guests at a British country manor struggle valiantly to "keep a stiff upper lip," a dignified ceremony devolves into a hilarious, no-holds-barred debacle of misplaced cadavers, indecent exposure, and shocking family secrets. Packed with extras including audio commentaries and an uproarious gag reel, Death at a Funeral blows the lid off the proverbial coffin as "the film's delicious comic flourishes... sight gags, slapstick, flawless timing... are served up by an outstanding cast" (O, The Oprah Magazine).
Though it doesn't hit the same comic heights as Bowfinger, Death at a Funeral is a fun little romp. Granted, not all of the characters are meant to be humorous, like Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen, Pride & Prejudice) and his wife, Jane (Keeley Hawes, Tristram Shandy), straight-faced foils for the more over-the-top performers. After Daniel's father passes away, the couple offers to host the funeral, so all his relatives descend on the family abode, including Daniel's estranged brother, Robert (Rupert Graves, V for Vendetta). The mood is already tense when their cousin, Martha (Daisy Donovan), arrives with her nervous fiancé, Simon (Alan Tudyk, Serenity). On the way over, Simon takes a Valium that's actually a hallucinogenic concoction cooked up by Martha's pharmacology student brother. By the time they arrive, Simon's inhibitions are gone with the wind. Other guests include Uncle Alfie (Peter Vaughn) and an uninvited American mourner (Peter Dinklage). By the end of the movie, one of these individuals will be dead. Though he's worked in the States for several decades, director Frank Oz was born in the UK, and Death at a Funeral feels like the work of a British filmmaker. As drawing room comedies go, it may not rival Arsenic and Old Lace, but it's still funnier than most. If the film has a flaw, it's one misjudged moment of scatological humor, which is sure to induce more cringes than giggles. Fortunately, it's over quickly, and Tudyk's hilarious performance provides ample compensation. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Beyond Death at a Funeral
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Stills from Death at a Funeral
|The City of Lost Children
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One of the most unique and visually stunning films in years, The City of Lost Children concerns a malevolent scientist who attempts to unlock the mystery of dreaming. To this end, he kidnaps young children and studies them as they sleep. From Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the director of Amelie and Alien: Resurrection.
The fantastic visions of Belgian filmmakers Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet find full fruition in this fairy tale for adults. Evoking utopias and dystopias from Brazil to Peter Pan, Caro and Jeunet create a vivid but menacing fantasy city in a perpetually twilight world. In this rough port town lives circus strongman One (Ron Perlman), who wanders the alleys and waterfront dives looking for his baby brother, snatched from him by a mysterious gang preying upon the children of the town. Rising from the harbor is an enigmatic castle where lives the evil scientist Krank (Daniel Emilfork), who has lost the ability to dream and robs the nocturnal visions of the children he kidnaps, but receives only mad nightmares from the lonely cherubs. Other wild characters include the Fagin-like Octopus--Siamese twin sisters who control a small gang of runaways-turned-thieves--Krank's six cloned henchmen (all played by the memorable Dominique Pinon from Delicatessen), and a giant brain floating in an aquarium (voiced by Jean-Louis Trintignant). Caro and Jeunet are kindred souls to Terry Gilliam (who is a vocal fan), creating imaginative flights of fancy built of equal parts delight and dread, which seem to be painted on the screen in rich, dreamy colors. --Sean Axmaker
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