A&E This Week

Focus on…….DVD’s

In light of the cold and the snow, this week’s edition of Focus On takes a look at recently released or upcoming releases of DVD’s. Grab a rental, pop some popcorn, and snuggle in with your favorite undergrad for a nice, cozy night.

Radio (Release Date: Jan 27th) Rating: 1/2
Outside of Disney’s animated classics, it is rare to find a PG movie that can be both compelling and entertaining, while not being so sappy that you end up feeling like you’re watching an after-school special. Without an overload of gratuitous sex or violence, it is almost shocking that Hollywood allowed this movie to be produced. Thankfully they did, as this movie is a heart-warming triumph starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Radio, a mentally retarded student who helps Coach Jones (Ed Harris) manage his football team, despite poor treatment from the players and townspeople alike. This movie might hold valuable lessons for HBS students as it focuses on life’s true priorities such as family, fairness, and understanding. A solid flick that is sure to move you, Radio will be released later this month.

American Wedding (Out on DVD) 2/3
Ahhh, yes, now back to the gratuitous sex. American Wedding is the third and probably the last movie in the American Pie series, a trilogy that started with a group of high school boys looking to score before heading off to college. American Wedding continues the relationship between pie-boy Jim (Jason Biggs) and band-camp Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), beginning with your standard pants-down wedding proposal and ending with one of the boys leaving the market for good (“real smart friend, way to think it through”). In between exists the typical antics that characterized the previous movies, although the material has become somewhat stale and the storyline much less complex. The one bright comedic spot in this movie is Stiffler (Seann William Scott), the stereotypical class clown and jock, who provides some interesting moments as the high school’s football coach. Otherwise, this movie is a poor ending to a series that have become comedy classics.

Under the Tuscan Sun (Release Date: Feb 3rd) 3/4
Whoever decided to produce this movie was obviously under the Tuscan sun for way too long. This movie, about a woman’s journey (Diane Lane) from betrayal to self-discovery, has chick flick written all over it (men have still yet to discover themselves, which in general is probably a good thing). However, guys might still want to check out this movie, as Diane Lane is as hot as ever, begging the question of how realistic it would be that her husband in the movie cheated on her in the first place. The only real redemption for this movie are the beautiful shots of Italy and the acting of Diane Lane, which can both be replaced by some photos from the tourist bureau and renting the movie Unfaithful.

Baby Einstein: Baby Galileo Discovering the Sky (Out on DVD) 1
Having spent numerous hours over winter break watching this series of films with my 6-month old nephews Connor and Sam, I must say that they are more valuable than gold, particularly to a new mother who’s looking for anything to distract her son from crying (although I can’t blame them, if I was that small and couldn’t talk, I would cry too). There are 12 movies in the Baby Einstein series featuring classical music, educational toys, and a repeat play function that is particularly handy. Highlights of Baby Galileo include the wooden cow flying over the moon, the kangaroo getting help from the giraffe to reach the planet toy, and the spaceship toy that makes it look like the shuttles are flying. These movies are a must see for anyone in the highly targeted 3-18 month age range.

Out this week

“The Big Bounce”
Comedy is undoubtedly an acquired taste. There are as many people that love Adam Sandler or Chris Rock so much they have considered naming their first born in their honor as there are those who would prefer to watch paint dry rather than sit through 90 minutes of their work. Elmore Leonard movies are no different. Get Shorty and Jackie Brown are either two of the most overrated films of the past few years, or seminal works that showcase the talent of one of the greatest writers of last century.

To this debate add ‘The Big Bounce’. A remake of the 1969 film of the same name, it features a strong cast led by Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman & Gary Sinise. This alone gives the film a chance of being entertaining, as Freeman aside, Wilson and Sinise have a history of picking strong interesting pictures.

The film is set in Hawaii, so expect sun, sea, sand and stunning shirts and as such could offer the perfect antidote to Boston weather. Either that or it will make you resent this town even more!

If you like quirky off beat comedy, then this film could be perfect for you.

“You Got Served”
‘You got served’ provides yet another reason why music stars should not make movies. To the trash heap of Crossroads, Glitter, Evita & Spiceworld you should add this.

This time P Diddy’s prot‚g‚s’, and R&B boyband, B2k are the music industry suckers trying to make it in Hollywood. The film, a cross between Bring it On and Honey has a troupe of hip hop street dancers, hoping to better their lives by entering and winning a national dancing competition.

The film aims to be the next 8 Mile but lacks the script, performances and direction that raised that film above the crowd. While the dance set pieces are stunningly impressive our advice is to stay well clear. The opportunity cost of your time and hard earned cash just isn’t worth the pain.

It is one of the biggest travesties in modern day cinema that any movie not filmed in English and that requires subtitles is immediately going to be ignored by the vast majority of the English speaking world. And yet some of the most heart wrenching dramas, terrifying horror and innovative action films of the past decade have all been foreign in origin. Amelie, Welcome to Sarajevo, City of God, Ringu, The Three Colors trilogy to name but a few. To this list of exceptional foreign language films add Osama.

Osama has been winning awards at all the major film festivals across the world for the past year. Recanting the true story of a young girl in Taliban ruled Afghanistan it offers a vivid portrait of life. With women forbidden from working or even showing their faces in public, one family disguises their 12-year-old daughter as a boy and sends her to work in a local shop.

Based on a newspaper article that director-writer Siddiq Barmak read while exiled in Pakistan during the Taliban regime it comes with a reputation for pulling no punches, and revealing life for what it was actually like. The complete dearth of un-biased and in depth international news available in the US raises the importance of seeing this film from necessary to vital.

Movie reviews
There is a complete spectrum of movies on general release over the coming couple of weeks. Here are our thoughts on the major releases of last weekend (23rd Jan) – and this coming weekend (30th Jan)

In theaters last week

Val Kilmer is back in the first of several films this year. Whether that’s a good thing remains to be seen, because, as anyone that has seen Batman Forever or The Saint will testify, Kilmer sometimes has trouble out acting a plank of wood. Add the presence of LL Cool J as an expert FBI profiler sent to train a team of the best up-and-coming new kids and you really have to question what the casting director was smoking when they made their recruitment decisions.

The setup is based on Agatha Christie’s legendary book, 10 little Indians. The modern day update involves a group of eight FBI profilers, one of which unfortunately happens to be a serial killer. Now I may be splitting hairs, but I’d question my belief in the FBI’s ability to catch a killer after seeing this film.
These so called expert profilers didn’t even notice a killer in their own midst!

If you liked “Identity” and enjoy a good, flash, expensive looking horror / who-dunnit then check this out. It’s unclear from the previews how bad / good it will be. Our advice though would be to check your brain at the door.

“The Butterfly Effect”
Demi Moore’s toyboy Ashton Kutcher departs from his comedy roots in this, his first major headlining role, and to the complete surprise of many appears to have pulled it off.

The story is as far from a period drama as you’re likely to get. Kutcher has lost track of time, his boyhood marred by a series of terrifying events he can’t remember. Slowly discovering what happened during these lost periods of time and feeling responsible for the damaged lives of his friends, he purposely travels back in time in the hope that by altering the events of the past, he can right the present. What marks this film out from the usual “I make one change in the past which completely screws up everything in the future” tale, are the strong script, and good performances from both Amy Smart and Kutcher.

If you like your films dark and unpredictable without the guarantee of a happy ending, and would enjoy watching it just to see how worse off his friends lives get as the result of his actions then this could be just what you’re looking for.

“Win a Date with Tad Hamilton”
You go to see some films because they make a profound statement on life, others because they offer fun, escapist schmoolz. This film definitely falls into the latter category. Aimed squarely at the double X chromosome brigade of teen women it’ll be placed at the heart of the teen romantic comedy shelf at Blockbuster when its released on DVD.

The plot is transparent even before you sit down to watch the film. It involves sweet, small town girl Kate Bosworth, winning a date with, you guessed it, Tad Hamilton, who just happens to be a famous movie star.

Of course like all romantic comedies the film’s premise is a love triangle involved Hamilton, Bosworth and her best friend Pete, and yes, you guessed it, Pete hasn’t told her that he’s in love with her.

Whether it’s an intentional joke or not, the casting makes this film inherently ironic, for Kate Bosworth (rules of attraction, blue crush, remember the titans, wonderland), the so-called small town lead is infinitely more successful in real life than Josh Duhamel (All My Children), the actor who plays the supposedly successful film star.

They certainly won’t be handing out prizes for guessing how this film ends, but you may want to see this anyway if escapist romantic comedies float your boat.

Upcoming Musical Events

Jan 31
Sarah Brightman
At FleetCenter

Feb 07
Cassandra Wilson
At Berklee Performance Center

Feb 12-22
Disney on Ice presents Monsters Inc
At FleetCenter

Feb 21
Nanci Griffith
At Berklee Performance Center

Feb 24
Josh Groban
At Wang Theatre

Feb 27
Elvis Costello and Stevie Nieve
with the Brodsky Quartet
At Wang Theatre

Feb 28
The Coral
At Paradise Rock Club

Feb 29
Rod Stewart
At FleetCenter

Feb 29
At Avalon

Mar 02
Barenaked Ladies
At FleetCenter

Mar 06
Erykah Badu
At Orpheum Theatre

Mar 08
The Church
At Paradise Rock Club , Night Club

Mar 15 – 16
At Orpheum Theatre

March 28
Liz Phair
At Avalon

March 30
David Bowie
At FleetCenter

April 17
Damien Rice
At Avalon

Contact ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or 617-931-2000 for up to date ticket prices.