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|Summer Heights High
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Brand: HBO Home Video
In this hilarious series set in a real Australian high school, actor/comedian Chris Lilley stars as three different characters: a vain drama teacher, a self-absorbed boy, and a haughty female exchange student. Hysterical, absurd and frequently shocking, Summer Heights High reveals a world where small issues become huge, social groups are critical, young minds are molded, hopes are shattered and dreams are realized.
Australian writer/performer Chris Lilley specializes in the comedy of narcissism. All three of his characters in the mockumentary series Summer Heights High are blindly, maddeningly self-absorbed: Mr. G, a drama teacher who writes and directs his own musicals; Ja'mie, a preening 16-year-old from a wealthy private school who views her year at public school as purgatory; and Jonah, a Tongan juvenile delinquent who's been previously expelled from two other schools. The series' 8 episodes follow these three as they seek to find some form of fame and adulation.Mr. G struggles to create a musical about a student who recently died of a drug overdose... only it becomes increasingly about a heroic drama teacher whose dog dies in an accident; Ja'mie desperately wants to stage a formal dance and will lie, bribe, and manipulate to do it; and Jonah wants to do breakdancing with his posse, but he's simply incapable of keeping himself from insulting his teachers and getting into fights with other students. While Mr. G and Ja'mie are blinkered monsters, Jonah verges on tragic, as he stumbles towards increasing self-destruction. The thoroughness of Lilley's creations is impressive, as the comedian loses himself fully in these characters. Still, some viewers may find them more aggravating than funny; just a hint of self-awareness might have made them a little easier to spend time with. But for anyone who connects with Lilley's humor, Summer Heights High will be a feast of juicy, unfiltered, rampaging egomania. --Bret Fetzer
Stills from Summer Heights High (Click for larger image)
- In this hilarious series set in a real Australian high school, actor/comedian Chris Lilley stars as three different characters: a vain drama teacher, a self-absorbed boy, and a haughty female exchange student. Hysterical, absurd and frequently shocking, Summer Heights High reveals a world where small issues become huge, social groups are critical, young minds are molded, hopes are shattered and dr
|Happy Feet (Widescreen Edition)
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Brand: WARNER HOME VIDEO
In the great nation of Emperor Penguins, deep in Antarctica, you're nobody unless you can sing - which is unfortunate for Mumble (ELIJAH WOOD), who is the worst singer in the world. He is born dancing to his own tune...tap dancing. As fate would have it, his one friend, Gloria (BRITTANY MURPHY), happens to be the best singer around. Mumble and Gloria have a connection from the moment they hatch, but she struggles with his strange "hippity- hoppity" ways. Away from home for the first time, Mumble meets a posse of decidedly un-Emperor-like penguins - the Adelie Amigos. Led by Ramon (ROBIN WILLIAMS), the Adelies instantly embrace Mumble's cool dance moves and invite him to party with them. In Adelie Land, Mumble seeks the counsel of Lovelace the Guru (also voiced by ROBIN WILLIAMS), a crazy-feathered Rockhopper penguin who will answer any of life's questions for the price of a pebble. Together with Lovelace and the Amigos, Mumble sets out across vast landscapes and, after some epic encounters, proves that by being true to yourself, you can make all the difference in the world.
For anyone who thought the Oscar-winning documentary March of the Penguins was the most marvelous cinematic moment for these nomads of the south, you haven't seen nothing yet. Happy Feet is an animated wonder about a penguin named Mumble who can't sing, but can dance up a storm. George Miller, the driving force behind the Babe (and Mad Max) movies, takes another creative step in family entertainment with this big, beautiful, music-fueled film that will have kids and their parents dancing in the streets. From his first moment alive, Mumble (voiced Elijah Woods) feels the beat and can't stop dancing. Unfortunately, emperor penguins are all about finding their own heart song, and the dancing youngster--as cute as he is--is a misfit. Luckily, he bumps into little blue penguins and a Spanish-infused group (led by Robin Williams) and begins a series of adventures. Miller has an exceptional variety of entertainment: Busby Berkley musical numbers, amusement-park thrills, exciting chase sequences (seals and orca lovers might like think otherwise), and even an environmental message that doesn't weigh you down. Best of all, you don't know where the movie is going in the last act, a rare occurrence these days in family entertainment. A fusion of rock songs, mashed-up and otherwise, are featured; this movie is as much a musical as a comedy. Mumble's solo dance to a new version of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" by Fantasia, Patti, and Yolanda may be the most joyful moment on camera in 2006. --Doug Thomas
- Condition: New
- Format: DVD
- NTSC; Closed-captioned; Color; Widescreen
|The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
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From Amazon.co.uk Terence Stamp as a drag queen--an Aussie drag queen? Darling, you'd better believe it. In Stephan Elliott's delirious exercise in ultra-camp meets outback macho, Stamp plays an ageing trans-sexual who, with two of his equally h
A surprise hit in America, this 1994 Australian comedy is anchored by Terence Stamp as a transsexual who, in the company of two drag queens, travels to a remote desert location to put on a lip- synch performance--to the amazement of the locals. Getting there on a pink bus named Priscilla, the trio stop and play for people all over the Outback, getting the same homophobic, bewildered responses. The weak link in the film is dialogue that seems to have been pulled from "Queer Movie Banter for Dummies," all bitchy and cliché-ridden but fortunately salvaged by strong acting. The most fun comes whenever the three are performing; fans of Abba will be particularly pleased. --Tom Keogh
|Dead Calm [Blu-ray]
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Brand: Warner Brothers
Take an ocean voyage of full-masted fright with Dead Calm, “a spare, smart, seductive piece of moviemaking with enough tension to keep us all hyperventilating for hours” (Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times). Thriller specialist Philip Noyce (Patriot Games, The Saint) diredcts three splendid actors – Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane – in riveting performances. Joe and Rae Ingham (Neill and Kidman) do the right thing and rescue the half-delirious sole survivor (Zane) of a crippled schooner. But soon the stranger will plunge the unwary pair into an intense battle of cat and mouse. And life or death.
There are several occasions when this rousing Australian thriller from 1987 should have ended with a well-placed shot from a speargun or a stronger knot of rope, but you don't think about these nit-picky details when you're being scared out of your wits. In a role that catapulted her to international stardom, Nicole Kidman plays a young wife who's joined her husband (Sam Neill) on a yachting trip to recover from the tragic death of their son. Far out to sea, they encounter a sinking ship with one survivor (Billy Zane, ten years before Titanic), but inviting him aboard turns out to be a very bad mistake. While Neill attempts to salvage the sinking boat, Kidman is fighting for her life against the psychotic Zane--a villain so creepy that you eagerly look forward to his demise. By the time that moment arrives director Phillip Noyce has resorted to a typical slasher-movie climax (proving that no boat should be without a flare gun), but until then Dead Calm is a nail-biting thriller that's guaranteed to keep you in a state of nail-biting suspense. --Jeff Shannon
- Take an ocean voyage of full-masted fright with Dead Calm, a spare, smart, seductive piece of moviemaking with enough tension to keep us all hyperventilating for hours (Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times). Thriller specialist Philip Noyce (Patriot Games, The Saint) diredcts three splendid actors Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane in riveting performances. Joe and Rae Ingham (Neill and Kidman) d
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Brand: Lions Gate
Timothy Balme, Diana Penalver. When his demanding mother becomes a blood-hungry zombie looking for victims, a devoted son tries to keep her actions a secret from the neighbors. Considered one of the most violent, gory horror films of all time! 1992/color/97 min/unrated/widescreen.
If you're not a connoisseur of graphic horror and gruesome gore, you'd better steer clear of this wicked 1992 horror-comedy from the demented mind and delirious camera of New Zealand-born writer-director Peter Jackson. However, if nonstop mayhem and extreme violence are your idea of great entertainment, you're sure to appreciate Jackson's gleefully inventive approach to a story that can judiciously be described as sick, twisted, and totally outrageous. The movie's central character is a poor schmuck named Lionel who's practically enslaved to his domineering mother. But when ol' Mum gets bitten by a rare and poisonous rat monkey from Skull Island and is turned into a flesh-eating zombie, Lionel has the unfortunate task of keeping Mama happy while fending off all the other zombies that result from her voracious feeding frenzies. If you've read this far, you'll either be crying out for censorship or eagerly awaiting your first viewing (or second, or third...) of this wildly clever and audaciously uninhibited movie. And while director Jackson would later achieve critical success with his fact-based drama Heavenly Creatures, his talent is readily evident in this earlier effort. If you find this kind of thing even remotely appealing, consider Dead Alive a must-see movie. --Jeff Shannon
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In the laugh-filled tradition of The Full Monty, THE CASTLE is a hilarious comedy treat critics are calling one of the year's funniest movies! Even though there's an airport practically running through their backyard, the eccentric Kerrigan clan loves their huble home. But when the airfield needs room to expand, the fovernment says that the Kerrigans have got to go! With an irresistible charm and irrepressible humor everyone is sure to enjoy, the hilarity then really takes flight when this funny family decides to stay and fight for their beloved "castle"... no matter how far the conflict goes!
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The title of The Castle refers to a ramshackle suburban tract house so close to an airport that planes fly mere yards above the roof. Worse than that, it's built on a toxic landfill and right beside humming high-power lines. But to patriarch Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton) and his dim-witted but cheerful brood it's home. Darryl has devoted himself to constantly improving it with modifications like a false chimney that, as he brags to a man sent to estimate the value of the property, makes the house look more picturesque. When the owners of the airport serve Darryl notice that his home is being compulsorily purchased, Darryl hires a small-time lawyer and pursues his case all the way to the Australian Supreme Court. This Australian box-office smash wasn't as successful as The Full Monty in American theaters, but it has something of the same buoyant spirit. The Castle actually plays better on the small screen; its relationship with its characters is much like the farcical intimacy of classic British sitcoms like Fawlty Towers, in which crazed behavior is balanced by the genuine warmth of the whole cast. Caton in particular is a sweet, engaging presence; Darryl Kerrigan is a fool, but a fool with dignity, and he carries you through the movie. --Bret Fetzer
|Picnic at Hanging Rock (The Criterion Collection)
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Twenty years after it swept Australia into the international film spotlight, Peter Weir's stunning 1975 masterpiece remains as ineffable as the unanswerable mystery at its core. A Valentine's Day picnic at an ancient volcanic outcropping turns to disaster for the residents of Mrs. Appleyard's school when a few young girls inexplicably vanish on Hanging Rock. A lyrical, meditative film charged with suppressed longings, Picnic at Hanging Rock is at long last available in a pristine widescreen director's cut with a newly-minted Dolby® digital 5.1 channel soundtrack.
Situated somewhere between supernatural horror and lush Victorian melodrama, director Peter Weir's lyrical, enigmatic masterpiece is an imaginative tease. The setting is a proper turn-of-the century Australian boarding school for girls, a suffocating institution built on strict moral codes, repressed sexuality, and a subtle but enforced class structure. As the film opens, girls draped in immaculate white dress prepare for a picnic at the nearby volcanic formation, Hanging Rock, and Weir hangs an air of dark foreboding over the proceeding. "You'll have to love someone else, because I won't be here very long," says one virginal girl, Miranda, to her friend. Her words are prophetic: during the picnic, Miranda, along with two other girls and an uptight schoolmistress, vanish into the rocks. While a search party repeatedly returns to the rock to look for either the girls or the reasons for their disappearance, Weir leaves the mystery unsolved. Like Antonioni's L'Avventura, the vanishing is open to numerous interpretations--both rational and illusory--but Weir drops enough allegorical clues that it feels like a parable. He transforms the landscape and weather into menacing and eerie images; outlines of faces can be seen in the rocks, while the oppressive heat beating down on the picnic doubles as an atmospheric metaphor for the girls' unbearable social and sexual confinement. These images and other plot twists toward the end hint that this mysterious vanishing, on some level, was actually a form of spiritual escape--the only out, other than death, from the film's bleak, tightly structured community. Regardless of how you see it, though, this hypnotic puzzle remains the highlight of the '70s Australian New Wave. The DVD version presents the film in letterbox form. --Dave McCoy
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An outstanding drama, Gallipoli resonates with sadness long after you have seen it. Set during World War I, this brutally honest antiwar movie was cowritten by director Peter Weir. Mark Lee and a sinfully handsome Mel Gibson are young, idealistic b
An outstanding drama, Gallipoli resonates with sadness long after you have seen it. Set during World War I, this brutally honest antiwar movie was cowritten by director Peter Weir. Mark Lee and a sinfully handsome Mel Gibson are young, idealistic best friends who put aside their hopes and dreams when they join the war effort. This character study follows them as they enlist and are sent to Gallipoli to fight the Turks. The first half of the film is devoted to their lives and their strong friendship. The second half details the doomed war efforts of the Aussies, who are no match for the powerful and aggressive Turkish army. Because the script pulls us into their lives and forces us to care for these young men, we are devastated by their fate. --Rochelle O'Gorman
|A Cry in the Dark
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An Australian woman stands trial for the murder of her child, which she claims was stolen by a dingo. Based on a true story.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Release Date: 3-FEB-2004
Media Type: DVD
Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Elaine on Seinfeld once offered a non sequitur at a party just to relieve her own boredom: "The dingo ate your baby," she blurted in a bad Australian accent. It was a reference to this harrowing film by director Fred Schepisi, based on a true story. Meryl Streep and Sam Neill play a married couple on a camping trip whose baby disappears. Streep maintains that the baby was carried off by a dingo--a wild dog--but she winds up as the victim of a hard-hearted prosecutor and the target of a nationwide hate campaign, in part because she was a religious fundamentalist who seemed unsympathetic and, thus, became an easy target for the tabloid press. Streep and Neill are both outstanding in this fierce, realistic drama about the ways faith can bolster even in the face of outrageous persecution. --Marshall Fine
- Condition: New
- Format: DVD
- Anamorphic; Closed-captioned; Color; Dolby; DVD; Widescreen; NTSC
|The Road Warrior
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Brand: Road Warrior
Mel Gibson returns as burned-out adventurer Mad Max, helping a band of refugees across the post-nuclear desert and battling hordes of punkish marauders in a non-stop death race, in one of the most intense action films ever made. With Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells; George Miller directs. 95 min. Standard and Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital Surround stereo; Subtitles: English, Spanish. NOTE: This Title Is Out Of Print; Limit One Per Customer.
A strong candidate for the designation of most thrilling action movie ever made (the turbo-charged exhilaration of its full-throttle highway chases has never been equaled), the second part of George Miller's post-apocalyptic trilogy is also a magnificently imagined movie myth. Like the Star Wars trilogy (by that other George) the Mad Max films draw their inspiration from the works of mythologist Joseph Campbell. In the 1979 original, Max (Mel Gibson) is a policeman, the last guardian of civilization and order in a devastated world reduced to chaos. But when a leather-clad gang of sadomasochistic speed demons mows down Max's family, his remaining connections to humanity are also permanently severed. After brutally exacting his revenge, Max wanders off into the wasteland alone, "a burned out shell of a man" who (to paraphrase The Searchers) is destined to wander forever between the winds. In The Road Warrior, Max rediscovers a sliver of his shattered humanity, and a spark of redemption, when he helps an embattled colony of pioneers fight off the savages who are after that most precious of all commodities: "guzzline." Max is transformed into a legendary hero, just as Mel Gibson was catapulted to international movie stardom. With its final stirring images, The Road Warrior transcends its genre (whatever that may be--science fiction? Western? action adventure?) and becomes something timeless. It's a great movie. --Jim Emerson
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