What's New on DVD for August, 2006
Here's a selection of new movies on DVD for August, 2006.
August 1, 2006
Annette Bening and Ben Kingsley head up a splendid cast in this docudrama about a famous 1980 murder. A divorcée named Jean Harris (Bening), headmistress at a ritzy private girls' school, had an affair that lasted for years with wealthy physician Herman Tarnower (Kingsley), who became widely known as the Scarsdale Diet doctor. Harris used a lot of prescription drugs supplied to her by Tarnower. But the doctor began having sex with a young secretary, and when Harris found lingerie in his home, she shot him dead.
The Shaggy Dog
Tim Allen stars in this Disney family comedy, a remake of the 1959 film that starred Fred MacMurray. Dave Douglas (Allen) is an assistant district attorney prosecuting a man for setting fire to a facility owned by a firm that uses animals in experiments. That firm's lead scientist (Robert Downey Jr.) has brought from Tibet a bearded collie reputed to be 300 years old, and the canine escapes. Soon after the pooch bites Dave, the prosecutor begins to exhibit dog-like behavior, and eventually he transforms into a collie.
V for Vendetta
Written and co-produced by the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix) and adapted from a graphic novel, this action thriller stars Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving. V for Vendetta is set in a near-future Britain ruled by a fascist dictator. Rebelling against the government is V (Weaving), who wears a Guy Fawkes mask. (Fawkes was the historical figure who attempted to blow up Parliament in 1605.) V rescues Evey (Portman) from rape by government-affiliated thugs, and she joins him in trying to start a revolution.
August 8, 2006
This unusual little movie earned writer-director Rian Johnson a prize at Sundance for originality of vision. His idea was to bring the Dashiell Hammett hardboiled sensibility to a detective story set in the world of contemporary Southern California high school students. The intricate plot involves archetypal film noir characters. A teenager named Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) plays the Sam Spade role. When Brendan's ex-girlfriend goes missing, he investigates. The movie's title refers to a brick of heroin.
Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster star in this crime drama directed by Spike Lee. Supporting roles are played by Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Four armed criminals go into a Wall Street bank and take about 50 people hostage. Veteran police detective Keith Frazier (Washington) is called in to try to find a way out of the crisis. As a cat-and-mouse game ensues, Frazier comes to realize that the situation is not as it first seems because some participants have unexpected agendas.
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector
The blue-collar comedian called Larry the Cable Guy has appeared frequently on television, but this movie marks his feature film debut. Here he plays a character known simply as Larry, who is employed as a health inspector. As a chef competition nears, there's a rash of food poisonings in the city's upscale restaurants. That's when Larry and his by-the-book rookie partner Amy Butlin (Iris Bahr) are assigned to investigate. But this is all just to set up lowbrow humor, particularly involving flatulence and vomiting.
August 15, 2006
Based on Carl Hiaasen's young adult novel, this family film stars Logan Lerman (from TV's Jack & Bobby) as Florida middle schooler Roy Eberhardt. Near where Roy lives, developers want to clear a wilderness area and build a chain pancake house there. But this will destroy the habitat of an endangered species, the burrowing owl, which gets its name because it lives in holes burrowed in the ground. Roy teams up with two other kids his age in an effort to thwart the developers and protect the burrowing owls.
Robin Williams stars in this family comedy about a man, his wife and their two kids taking a trip in a recreational vehicle. Bob Munro (Williams), who lives in L.A., had planned a Hawaiian vacation for his family, but his boss forces him to cancel that and go to a business meeting in Boulder, Colorado. Bob rents a giant RV and takes his family with him, and they have lots of adventures along the way. On the trip, the Munros meet quirky veteran RVers Travis and Mary Jo Gornicke (Jeff Daniels and Kristin Chenoweth).
Scary Movie 4
This is the fourth comedy in the Scary Movie series, which parodies horror films. Among the targets this time are Saw, The Grudge, War of the Worlds and The Village. Once again Anna Faris reprises the role of Cindy Campbell, and Regina Hall again appears as Brenda Meeks. The spoofs sometimes go beyond the horror genre, for example to Brokeback Mountain or to Tom Cruise jumping around on Oprah's couch. The film also features Leslie Nielsen as an idiotic American president who at one point is naked.
August 22, 2006
Just My Luck
Lindsay Lohan stars in this romantic comedy that pairs her with Chris Pine. Ashley (Lohan) is a very lucky young woman who gets a terrific job at a PR firm, while Jake (Pine) has no luck and works as a janitor at a bowling alley. But he also manages a rock band (McFly), and in an attempt to get their demo CD to a music mogul, he crashes a party. There he meets and kisses Ashley, and this transfers her good luck to him, while hers turns sour. After that, Ashley and Jake must deal as best they can with their changing luck.
A remake of The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Poseidon is a disaster movie that takes place aboard a huge cruise ship at sea. As the passengers are celebrating New Year's Eve, a massive wave suddenly capsizes the ship, which remains afloat, but upside down. Among those aboard are gambler and ex-Navy man Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas) and former New York City mayor Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell). These two head up a small group who set out to try to save themselves, but which ones will manage to survive?
In this horror film adapted from a video game, a young girl named Sharon sleepwalks and says "Silent Hill." Sharon's mother Rose (Radha Mitchell) takes the girl on a journey to find Silent Hill, which turns out to be an eerie ghost town where ash falls from the sky. Rose has an automobile accident, and she and Sharon get separated. While trying to track down her daughter, Rose discovers the nightmarish town isn't deserted, and she has some creepy experiences there. Gradually the truth about Sharon and Silent Hill emerges.
August 29, 2006
Akeelah and the Bee
This inspiring drama centers around an 11-year-old African-American girl named Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer) who attends an inner-city middle school in South Los Angeles. Akeelah's widowed mom (Angela Bassett) doesn't push her, and the girl mostly just tries to blend in at school. But staff and faculty recognize Akeelah is good at spelling and urge her to enter the school's bee. Then the strict Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne) becomes her coach, and she gets a shot at the national championship in Washington, D.C.
Friends With Money
Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener and Joan Cusack star in this social comedy written and directed by Nicole Holofcener. The movie is about four Los Angeles women friends and the relationship between money and happiness in their lives. Three of the women (McDormand, Keener and Cusack) are married and affluent in varying degrees. The fourth (Aniston) is a former schoolteacher who ekes out a living cleaning homes. She is single and gets involved with an unlikable guy.
Michael Douglas is the star of this thriller, and he is supported by Kiefer Sutherland, Kim Basinger and Eva Longoria. Pete Garrison (Douglas) is a veteran Secret Service agent assigned to protect the First Lady (Basinger), and he has an affair with her. When a fellow agent is murdered and a plot to assassinate the president is uncovered, Garrison finds himself suspected of being a mole. He must go on the lam and try to prove his innocence as his former protégé (Sutherland) and a rookie agent (Longoria) come after him.
Take the Lead
Antonio Banderas stars in this feel-good drama. Manhattan dance instructor Pierre Dulaine (Banderas) sees a high school student called Rock (Rob Brown) bashing a car with a golf club. This prompts Dulaine to go to the principal (Alfre Woodard) and propose that he teach ballroom dancing to Rock and other students in a detention class. There's resistance to this idea at first, but Dulaine is soon teaching the detainees how to fox trot and tango. Transformed by dancing, the students end up at a big ballroom competition.