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Cinema Scoop

New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week

New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday February 5.

     Flight

When a routine flight over Atlanta goes terrifyingly wrong, the aircraft's pilot (Denzel Washington) saves his passengers with a near-miraculous display of skill. As the investigation into the disaster begins, however, it becomes apparent that its hero's impromptu bravery hides a multitude of bad habits.

Director Robert Zemeckis' first live-action film since Cast Away features one of Denzel Washington's finest performances and one that earned him a nomination for Best Actor at this year's Oscars. He does a great job playing a man with a serious substance abuse problem who is seen by many as a hero but whose guilt about the crash and its potential cause prevents him from seeking the help he needs.

Also included in the strong cast are Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood, Kelly Reilly and John Goodman.

Flight is a compelling and layered drama that didn't really play out the way I expected, and that is a good thing. It's a strong film and easily the best of the bunch from this week's releases.

I definitely recommend that you seek out Flight.

     Here Comes the Boom

Former collegiate wrestler Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a 42-year-old apathetic biology teacher in a failing high school. When cutbacks threaten to cancel the music program and lay off its teacher (Henry Winkler), Scott begins to raise money by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter. Everyone thinks Scott is crazy - most of all the school nurse, Bella (Salma Hayek) - but in his quest, Scott gains something he never expected as he becomes a sensation that rallies the entire school.

This is a fairly lightweight and predictable comedy from the director of Zookeeper, The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy. The cast is likable to a degree but it's pretty obvious where every beat of this story is heading and the mild humour didn't deliver enough laughs for me to truly recommend it as a worthwhile comedy.

It's kind of cute though I suppose and certainly not amongst the worst films I've seen this past year, so there's that.

If you are in the mood for a lighthearted and simple comedy, then you might want to check out Here Comes the Boom.

     Deadfall

Siblings Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) are on the run from a casino heist gone wrong. When a car accident leaves their wheel man and a state trooper dead, they split up and make a run for the Canadian border in the worst of circumstances - a near whiteout blizzard. While Addison heads cross-country, creating mayhem in his wake, Liza is picked up by ex-boxer Jay (Charlie Hunnam), en-route for a Thanksgiving homecoming with his parents, June (Sissy Spacek) and retired sheriff Chet (Kris Kristofferson). It's there the siblings are reunited in a terse and thrilling showdown that pushes the bonds of family to the limit.

Even though it lacks a very original title, Deadfall is a pretty decent film noir style crime thriller. It contains the usual crime movie tropes but I was never bored throughout the film and there were even a couple of moments of genuine tension and excitement. The strong cast does a fine job as well.

This is a bit of an underrated film and one that might find some life now that it is out on home video. I'm not raving about it but I do think it's worth checking out.

     Alex Cross

Alex Cross follows the young homicide detective/psychologist (Tyler Perry), from the worldwide best-selling novels by James Patterson, as he meets his match in a ferociously skilled serial killer (Matthew Fox). The two face off in a high-stakes games of cat and mouse, but when the mission gets personal, Cross is pushed to the edge of his moral and psychological limits in this action thriller.

Ok, I'm going to keep this short and sweet... this movie just plain sucked. It was atrociously inept in every way shape and form and it's easily amongst the worst films of the year. With its cliché ridden, hackneyed script and thinly drawn characters this festering turd of a film is clearly one to avoid.

Don't bother. Ugh!

Also out this week is the romantic comedy drama Celeste and Jesse Forever, starring Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg, the French comedy The Players, with Jean Dujardin, and the fashion documentary called Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel.

     Blast From the Past

The best film that is being released this week is Flight, and since that film tackles the topic of alcoholism I thought I would give you a list of some excellent alternate titles that deal with this affliction. I know it's not the most cheery subject matter, but these are all films that are well worth seeking out. In no particular order, here they are.

1. Days of Wine and Roses (1962) - Both Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick earned Oscar nominations for their portrayal as a married couple whose lives are completely ruined due to the downward spiral of alcoholism. This cautionary tale is definitely not a feel good movie, but the acting is phenomenal and it is well worth seeing.

2. Leaving Las Vegas (1995) - This bittersweet love story of co-dependency earned Nicolas Cage a Best Actor Oscar for his depiction of a suicidal alcoholic who has chosen to drink himself to death in Las Vegas. He meets a prostitute, played by Elisabeth Shue, whom he commiserates with in his final days. This is a heartbreaking and superb film, but one that you definitely have to be in the mood for. It's quite dark.

3. Crazy Heart (2009) - Jeff Bridges gave arguably the best performance of his career as a down-and-out country singer who spends most of his days in a state of perpetual drunkenness. He of course won an Oscar for this film - hmmm, seems to be a trend emerging here. Crazy Heart is an exceptional drama and one that is a tad more inspiring than some of the other films of this list. Great soundtrack too!

4. The Lost Weekend (1945) - Ray Milland is superb as a New York based writer who goes on one heck of a bender one long weekend. It showcases the absolute desperation some people go through to get that next drink. Naturally it garnered Oscars for both he and director Billy Wilder as well as Best Picture that year. Keep an eye out for this great classic.

5. When a Man Loves a Woman (1994) - This heartfelt drama stars Andy Garcia as a man trying to help his alcoholic wife, played by Meg Ryan, and the toll it takes on, not only their relationship, but their children as well. Bring the tissues for this one.

6. Barfly (1987) - The ultimate movie about drinking and drunks, Mickey Rourke stumbles his way through this semi-autobiographical film about poet Charles Bukowski. Rourke and Faye Dunaway spend the whole film drinking, cavorting and commiserating with often funny and offbeat results. This is one of Rourke's best.

7. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) - This brilliant drama was nominated for thirteen Academy Awards and netted the amazing Elizabeth Taylor her second Oscar for Best Actress for playing a hard-drinking wife of a college professor. Her then real life husband, Richard Burton, plays the professor who has to put up with her shenanigans. The performances are stellar all around in this classic.

8. The Country Girl (1954) - Another Oscar winning classic that stars Bing Crosby as a fading actor with a serious drinking problem and Grace Kelly as his cold and bitter wife who must put up with his demands and dependency. Also stars the wonderful William Holden.

9. Bad Santa (2003) - Billy Bob Thornton plays the worst shopping mall Santa ever in this hilariously raunchy and foul-mouthed black comedy. He's a heavy drinking, womanizing scoundrel who likes to rob stores of all their loot. This is most certainly not a politically correct film, but man it's funny. Just make sure the kids aren't within earshot when this is playing.

10. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) - Paul Newman is superb as an alcoholic ex-football player who drinks his days away while resisting the affections of his wife, played by the lovely Elizabeth Taylor. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy (played with zeal and gusto by Burl Ives), who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and stunning revelations for both father and son. A sensational film filled with powerfully searing performances. This is a classic gem!

New out on DVD/Blu-ray is brought to you by Leo's Videos, 2680 Pandosy St. (250) 861-8437



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