Films Review June


The Grotowski home is not the house that love built. Three generations of Grotowski men live under the same roof, but they’re not really a family. There’s patriarch Buck (Peter Boyle), who laments he’s so old he “can’t even remember what a woman smells like.” His son Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) has been raised to follow in his father’s loveless and prejudiced footsteps. Then there is Hank’s boy Sonny (Heath Ledger), the last of the Grotowski clan, who has been so desensitized to real love that even his encounters with hookers are mechanical and passionless. Like his father before him, Hank is the chief death row guard in a Southern prison. Sonny also works as a guard on death row, but has a hard time embracing his position. Please click on title for complete review. (Lion’s Gate Home Entertainment)


The production team behind Brazil’s Oscar-nominated Best Foreign Film “Central Station” return with an equally mesmerizing tale of two families at war with each other. The film is set in Brazil’s badlands in 1910, where twenty-year-old Tonio Breves (Rodrigo Santoro), who is ordered by his father to revenge the death of his older brother. The Breves have be feuding with the Ferreias for generations, and tradition dictates that the oldest son must revenge the death of a family member. The Breves seem to be losing the feud, supposedly over land, and are just barely making ends meet growing and harvesting sugar cane, while their neighbors make a good living cattle ranching. Tonio knows if he obeys his father’s order, it won’t be long before a Ferreias returns the favor. Tonio also knows that there are more of them, guaranteeing eventual victory for the Ferreias. So Tonio tries a different tact, one that upsets his father, who refuses to let go of the past and can’t accept the future that threatens not only his family but his business. A traveling circus passing through town serves as a window for the characters to see the world in a different light. Director Walter Salles does an outstanding job of drawing out natural, thoughtful performances from the cast, while director of photography Walter Carvalho uses rays of sunlight to paint a beautiful canvas of memorable images. (Miramax)


“Black Hawk Down” is to entertainment what Roseanne is to song stylist. You don’t enter director Ridley Scott’s harrowing war drama looking to be entertained. It’s more of an experience, one that you won’t soon forget. Filled with one gut wrenching moment after another, “Black Hawk Down” puts the audience right in the middle of hell, where director Scott and writer Ken Nolan ratchet up the heat to a point where it’s almost unbearable. “Black Hawn Down” is like a two-and-a-half hour version of the first twenty minutes of Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.” Please click on title for complete review. (Columbia-TriStar Home Video)


How to Make a Monster? Well, first you elect the Governor of Texas as President…just kidding (or is he?). Actually, “How To Make a Monster” is another chapter in Columbia-TriStar Home Video’s Creature Feature series by special effects guru Stan Winston. The film is a remake of a cheesy 1958 drive-in horror film about a Hollywood make-up artist who turns people into monsters. I think that guy still works in the business. He does Leonardo Di Caprio’s make-up. The remake takes a techo-geek approach, pitting three computer programmers against each other to come up with the perfect virtual villain. Encouraged by the promise of a million dollars bonus to the one programmer who comes up with the most vicious villain, the three programmers constantly outdo themselves. When a lightning strike short circuits the computer, it uses Artificial Intelligence to bring itself to life, and a weapons program to defend itself. What sounds like a good, goofy time is, with just the amount of prerequisite blood, gore, nudity and young, nubile men and women in peril. Director George Huang (Swimming with Sharks) totally understands that he’s not making art and throws himself and his cast into the shark tank with no apologies. (Columbia-TriStar)


Totally charming romantic fantasy starring Hugh Jackman (X-Men) as a 19th Century Duke named Leopold who finds himself transported to modern day New York, where he meets and falls for advertising executive Kate McKay (Meg Ryan). A date movie with appeal for both sexes, Jackman is extremely noble as the third Duke of Albany, who has arrived in New York to find a suitable socialite wife. When Leopold follows a stranger named Stuart (Liev Schreiber) to find out who he is, Leopold is transported through a time portal. Like the character of H.G. Wells in “Time After Time,” Leopold is a stranger in a strange land. When he meets Stuart’s ex-girlfriend Kate, Leopold knows he has found his future bride, but only if he can work out that messy time travel thing. Ryan is lovely as ever, playing a role she has played before and does so with charm and wit. I like romantic comedies that require the participants to not only grow, but to make decisions based on their heart instead of their bank account. (Miramax)

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