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The #1 New York Times bestseller by Kathryn Stockett comes to vivid life through the powerful performances of a phenomenal ensemble cast. Led by Emma Stone, Academy Award®-nominated Viola Davis (Best Supporting Actress, Doubt, 2008), Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard, The Help is an inspirational, courageous and empowering story about very different, extraordinary women in the 1960s South who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project — one that breaks society’s rules and puts them all at risk. Filled with poignancy, humor and hope — and complete with compelling, never-before-seen bonus features — The Help is a timeless, universal and triumphant story about the ability to create change.
There are male viewers who will enjoy The Help, but Mississippi native Tate Taylor aims his adaptation squarely at the female readers who made Kathryn Stockett's novel a bestseller. If the multi-character narrative revolves around race relations in the Kennedy-era South, the perspective belongs to the women. Veteran maid Aibileen (Doubt's Viola Davis in an Oscar-worthy performance) provides the heartfelt narration that brackets the story. A widow devastated by the death of her son, she takes pride in the 17 children she has helped to raise, but she's hardly fulfilled. That changes when Skeeter (Easy A's Emma Stone) returns home after college. Unlike her peers, Skeeter wants to work, so she gets a job as a newspaper columnist. But she really longs to write about Jackson's domestics, so she meets with Aibileen in secret--after much cajoling and the promise of anonymity. When Aibileen's smart-mouthed friend Minny (breakout star Octavia Spencer) breaches her uptight employer's protocol, Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) gives her the boot, and she ends up in the employ of local outcast Celia (Jessica Chastain, hilarious and heartbreaking), who can't catch a break due to her dirt-poor origins. After the murder of Medgar Evers, even more maids, Minny among them, bring their stories to Skeeter, leading to a book that scandalizes the town--in a good way. Not since Steel Magnolias has Hollywood produced a Southern woman's picture more likely to produce buckets of tears (and almost as many laughs). --Kathleen C. Fennessy
More From Kathryn Stockett
More From the Stars of The Help
Bryce Dallas Howard
- Recommended Age: 13 years and up
|The Shawshank Redemption (Single-Disc Edition)
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A prominent banker unjustly convicted of murder spends many years in the Shawshank prison. He is befriended by a convict who knows the ropes and helps him to cope with the frightning realities of prison life.
When this popular prison drama was released in 1994, somecritics complained that the movie was too long (142 minutes) to sustain its story. Those complaints miss the point, because the passage of time is crucial to this story about patience, the squeaky wheels of justice, and the growth of a life-long friendship. Only when the film reaches its final, emotionally satisfying scene do you fully understand why writer-director Frank Darabont (adapting a novella by Stephen King) allows the story to unfold at its necessary pace, and the effect is dramatically rewarding. Tim Robbins plays a banker named Andy who's sent to Shawshank Prison on a murder charge, where he gets to know a life-term prisoner named Red (Morgan Freeman). Andy's calm, quiet exterior hides a great reserve of patience and fortitude, and Red comes to admire this mild-mannered man who first struck him as weak and unfit for prison life. So it is that The Shawshank Redemption builds considerable impact as a prison drama that defies the conventions of the genre (violence, brutality, riots) to illustrate its theme of faith, friendship, and survival. Nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actor, and Screenplay, it's a remarkable film that signaled the arrival of a promising new filmmaker--a film that many movie lovers count among their all-time favorites. --Jeff Shannon
|Love and Basketball (New Line Platinum Series)
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From the playground to the pro leagues, Monica and Quincy taught each other how to play the game. Now, their commitment to the sport will force them to make a choice between each other and the game...between family and team...between Love and Basketball.
Gina Prince-Bythewood, a former college athlete, puts a spin on this one-on-one tale of Love and Basketball. Sanaa Lathan (The Best Man) is the fiercely driven, hot-tempered Monica, a tomboy who gives her all for basketball. Omar Epps (The Mod Squad) is Quincy, an NBA player's son who has pro dreams of his own. Next-door neighbors since first grade, they start as rivals (she flabbergasts the boy by outplaying him in a game of driveway pickup) and age into best friends and lovers. The romantic complications follow a familiar game plan, but the film throws a fascinating spotlight onto the contrast between men's and women's basketball. While Quincy plays college ball on huge courts to cheering, sold-out crowds, we see Monica's sweat, tears, and sheer physical dedication in front of tiny audiences in small gyms and second-rate auditoriums.
The story is pointedly set in the late 1980s, years before the establishment of the WNBA, so Monica's prospects for pro ball lie exclusively in Europe, while Quincy steps into the pros at home. It's a pleasure to see a character as passionate and fully developed as Monica, and Lathan gives a fiery portrayal (she had never played ball before the film, but you'd never tell from her performance). Prince-Bythewood favors her struggle over Quincy's and opens our eyes to her unique challenges with a sharp, savvy contrast. Alfre Woodard costars as Monica's harping mom (always trying to get her to be more ladylike) and Dennis Haysbert is Quincy's philandering father. Hoops fan Spike Lee produced. --Sean Axmaker
- From the playground to the pro leagues, Monica and Quincy taught each other how to play the game. Now, their commitment to the sport will force them to make a choice between each other and the game.between family and team.between Love and BasketballRunning Time: 127 min. System Requirements: Starring: Omar Epps, Debbi Morgan, Sanaa Lathan, Harry J. Lennix, and Alfre Woodard. Directed by Gi
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Brand: Buena Vista Home Video
The filmmakers traveled to Jamaica for the primary filming and shot the Winter Olympics scenes in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Based on an improbable but true story, Cool Runnings concerns the Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Director Jon Turteltaub (Phenomenon) does a fine job with both the absurdity of the situation (the athletes had never even seen snow) and the passion behind it (their desire to compete and win). John Candy, in one of his last roles, is touching as a disgraced coach who seizes the opportunity to work with the Jamaicans as a chance for redemption. The bobsled scenes look good, and the races are exciting. The climax, which is entirely unexpected, takes the film to a wholly different level, even if events in the story don't quite match the facts. --Tom Keogh
- You ll love Cool Runnings - the outrageously funny comedy hit inspired by the true story of Jamaica s first Olympic bobsled team. They were four unlikely athletes with one impossible dream. Now, with the help of an ex-champion as their coach, four Jamaicans leave their sunny tropical island home and enter the chilly Winter Olympics to compete for the gold in a sport they know nothing about - bobsl
|The Color Purple
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Brand: Warner Brothers
Based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple is a richly-textured, powerful film set in America's rural south. Whoopi Goldberg, winner of the Best Actress Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination, makes a triumphant screen debut as the radiant, indomitable Celie, the story's central character. Her impressive portrayal is complimented by a distinguished cast that includes Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery, Adolph Caesar, Rae Dawn Chong and Akosua Busia. The Color Purple marks a new, more mature color in Spielberg's artistic palette. It is an exquisitely crafted, landmark film that will be treasured and talked about for years to come.
Steven Spielberg, proving he's one of the few modern filmmakers who has the visual fluency to be capable of making a great silent film, took a melodramatic, D.W. Griffith-inspired approach to filming Alice Walker's novel. His tactics made the film controversial, but also a popular hit. You can argue with the appropriateness of Spielberg's decision, but his astonishing facility with images is undeniable--from the exhilarating and eye-popping opening shots of children playing in paradisiacal purple fields to the way he conveys the brutality of a rape by showing hanging leather belts banging against the head of the shaking bed. In a way it's a shame that Whoopi Goldberg, a stage monologist who made her screen debut in this movie, went on to become so famous, because it was, in part, her unfamiliarity that made her understated performance as Celie so effective. (This may be the first and last time that the adjective understated can be applied to Goldberg.) Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including best picture and actress (supporting players Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery were also nominated), it was quite a scandal--and a crushing blow to Spielberg--when it won none. --Jim Emerson
- Based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple is a richly-textured, powerful film set in America's rural south.Whoopi Goldberg, winner of the Best Actress Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination, makes a triumphant screen debut as the radiant, indomitable Celie, the story's central character. Her impressive portrayal is complimented by a distinguished cast that includes
|Bill Cosby, Himself
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One of America's most popular comedians, Bill Cosby treats his fans to a funny, satirical and heart-warming concert at Toronto's Hamilton Place Performing Arts Center. His material ranges from marriage and the unending trials of parenthood, to the side-splitting antics of the very young, and a hilarious encounter with a dentist's drill and needle. Insightful and witty, this highly entertaining film is a rare cinematic treat, filled with all the spontaneity and electricity that only a live performance can provide.
After I Spy and before The Cosby Show, Bill Cosby left his own inimitable mark on the arena of stand-up comedy in this live concert showcasing his down-to-earth observations on the rigors and joys of family life. Cosby, using only a microphone and a chair, discusses his take on raising kids and the illogical nature of children and the futility of trying to argue with a child that in the end may be smarter than you. Notable highlights include Cosby's ruminations on the meaning of the all-purpose phrase "I don't know" to kids, and Cosby describing the effect raising children has on his wife Camille's mental state and the pitch of her voice. Containing the basis for the humor of his long-running situation comedy, Bill Cosby: Himself is a polished, occasionally insightful, and frequently hilarious night of comedy from one of the longtime masters of the form. --Robert Lane
|Sister Act / Sister Act 2 - Back in the Habit
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Brand: Buena Vista Home Video
Relive all the fun, laughter, and irresistible music of Sister Act -- the inspired comedy hit that packed pews everywhere! Whoopi Goldberg stars as a sassy, low-rent lounge singer forced to hide out from the mob in the last place on earth anyone would look for her -- a convent. While she's there, her irreverent behavior attracts a flock of faithful followers and turns the nuns' tone-deaf choir into a soulful chorus of swingin', singin' sisters. But when the group earns rave reviews, her sudden celebrity jeopardizes her hidden identity. Harvey Keitel and Kathy Najimy join a heavenly cast in this habit-forming comedy bursting with '60s Motown hits.
Sister Act Whoopi Goldberg plays a Reno lounge singer who hides out as a nun when her villainous boyfriend (Harvey Keitel) goes gunning for her. Maggie Smith is the mother superior who has to cope with Whoopi's unorthodox behavior, but the cute script turns the tables and shows how the latter energizes the stodgy convent with song and attitude. A real crowd-pleaser and a perfect vehicle for Goldberg, this is a happy experience all around. --Tom Keogh
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit Whoopi Goldberg returns in a gratuitous, poorly written sequel that contrives a reason to get her character back into Maggie Smith's convent. The "socially conscious" plot finds Goldberg being asked to relate to a bunch of street kids and pull them together into a choir. Since a bad guy is needed, the script grabs that old chestnut about a rich guy (James Coburn) preparing to close down the convent's school, and runs with it. The film is slow and unconvincing from start to finish, although costars Mary Wickes and Kathy Najimy get some good laughs, and the music is pretty spirited. --Tom Keogh
|To Sir, With Love
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Brand: Sony Pictures
A novice teacher faces a class of rowdy, undisciplined working-class punks in this classic film that reflected some of the problems and fears of teens in the 60s. Sidney Poitier gives one of his finest performances as Mark Thackeray, an out-of-work engineer who turns to teaching in London's tough East End. The graduating class, led by Denham (Christian Roberts), Pamela (Judy Geeson) and Barbara (Lulu, who also sings the hit title song), sets out to destroy Thackeray as they did his predecessor by breaking his spirit. But Thackeray, no stranger to hostility, meets the challenge by treating the students as young adults who will soon enter a work force where they must stand or fall on their own. When offered an engineering job, Thackeray must decide if he wants to stay.
Novelist James Clavell wrote, produced, and directed this 1967 British film (based on a novel by E.R. Braithwaite) about a rookie teacher who throws out stock lesson plans and really takes command of his unruly, adolescent students in a London school. Poitier is very good as a man struggling with the extent of his commitment to the job, and even more as a teacher whose commitment is to proffering life lessons instead of academics. The spirit of this movie can be found in more recent films such as Dangerous Minds and Mr. Holland's Opus, but none is as moving as this one. Besides, the others don't have a title song performed by pop star Lulu. --Tom Keogh
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