Hot Tub Time Machine – John Cusack stars in the comedy that’s plot device can be summed up in the title. Four friends get together (really three friends and a nephew) and go to a place where they had their best memories so they can reminisce about the good old days. The place they go to has aged and faded with time, and their big party plans are thwarted. They get to their hotel, and their hot tub magically starts to work. They get in and party hard, and when they wake up they are in 1986. How the nephew exists in 1986 is explained, but I don’t think you ever really buy it. The plot references Back to the Future a little bit, with the men trying to do everything they originally did back in 1986, so as not to alter the future, but they also realize it is a chance to change their lives that they all hate. There are a lot of jokes, some work, some don’t, but the two real stars are Crispin Glover and Rob Corddry. Glover’s sub-plot about losing his hand is hilarious, and every time he appears on screen you look forward to what might happen and Corddry absolutely owns the character of Lou. It’s definitely worth seeing on DVD.
Creation – This film stars Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly and is about the life of Charles Darwin. Darwin is dealing with the death of his daughter and how he came to write “The Origin of Species”. His theory is not well received by the religious powers that be, threatens his marriage, and almost does not come to be. The film was the opening film of the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival (which is rare considering it is not a Canadian film), but was poorly received by critics and flopped on its release.
The Crazies – This remake stars Timothy Olyphant as a sheriff of a small Iowa town whose residents slowly begin to go insane and start killing one another. One by one, the entire town becomes affected leaving a small group to try and escape before they become one of them. For a horror film, The Crazies received very good reviews, and the film was a moderate success at the box office, so it is worth checking out.
The Warlords – This film stars Jet Li and is the story of three blood brothers who all have different motives in 1860’s China. Li’s character wants peace, and moves through the military and political ranks to get make peace happen, even if that means sacrificing some of his own people. One of his blood brothers believes in being loyal to his men, and not making political deals behind people’s backs, while the last blood brother is torn on what side to support. A climatic battle ensues and their dreams of peace end. The Warlords got decent notices on its release but never took off in North America.
Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage – This documentary is a must-have for any Rush fan as it chronicles how the band came to be, as well as how their sound has evolved from it’s progressive rock sound in the 1970’s to the more heavy rock it plays today. A ton of famous musicians appear in the film and talk about the influence of the band, and you see why Rush were so successful and still relevant to rock ‘n’ roll today.
The White Ribbon – This film was nominated for two Academy Awards this past year (Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography) and is about life in a German village before the start of World War I and the violent actions of the inhabitants. The children of the town are made to wear a white ribbon every time they do something wrong, but what they are doing wrong is trivial compared to the events that unfold later in the film. The White Ribbon is written and directed by Michael Haneke who some people might remember as the director of Funny Games. His films are challenging but worth watching.
TV ON DVD
The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season – This season of the Kyra Sedgwick crime-drama deals with the theme of change as Sedgwick’s character deals with being married, and with the Priority Homicide Division now becoming the Major Crimes Division. We don’t hear a lot about the TNT series, but it also stars J.K. Simmons, and that is always a good thing.
Saving Grace: The Final Season – Another crime-drama from TNT, but this one stars Holly Hunter. Season Three starts with Grace getting one of her co-workers to help a drug addict that has an abusive boyfriend, but the good intentions go horribly wrong. They also find out about a terrorist attack that may take place at a policeman’s funeral. Holly Hunter is one of the best actresses working today, so it is worth checking out. Saving Grace got high ratings for TNT, but didn’t do well overseas or on DVD, and was cancelled.
Mad About You: The Complete Fourth Season – This season starts off with Paul having sex with Jamie but he can’t remember a thing about it the next morning. This show was on for seven seasons, and even though it stars the acclaimed Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser, and even has episodes written by Larry Charles, I never got into this show when it aired in the 90’s.
Until Next Tuesday!