|Home Video/DVD: May 2002 Releases|
"Ocean's Eleven" (2001)
This entertaining heist movie is a remake of the 1960 film of the same title that starred Frank Sinatra. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the new version of "Ocean's Eleven" has an all-star cast that includes George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Don Cheadle, Elliott Gould, and Carl Reiner. Danny Ocean (Clooney), assisted by his old buddy Rusty Ryan (Pitts), assembles a team that consists of eleven men, and they set out to rob three Las Vegas casinos (Bellagio, MGM Grand, and Mirage). Also, Danny tries to win back his ex-wife Tess (Roberts), who has become the girlfriend of Terry Benedict (Garcia), owner of the three casinos. The new "Ocean's Eleven" is mainly about star power and style, yet 85 percent of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes liked the film.
"Waking Life" is a remarkable, thought-provoking animated film that is aimed at adults. The movie was shot as live action, then animation artists used computers to paint over the images, giving the viewer an extraordinary visual experience. Also, the film is filled with interesting dialogue as the characters spend much of their time engaged in philosophical and political discourse. The movie follows the adventures of an unnamed young man (voice and image of Wiley Wiggins) who searches for answers to some of the big questions of life, but the narrative structure of the film is extremely unconventional and might be described as dream-like. Three out of four critics on Rotten Tomatoes liked "Waking Life," and most think it's worth watching repeatedly.
Johnny Depp stars in this moody retelling of the tale of Jack the Ripper in a film directed by the Hughes brothers. In 1888 London, a serial killer is murdering prostitutes in the Whitechapel district. Inspector Abberline (Depp), sometimes using opium-induced insights, sets out to find the murderer. Assisted by Sergeant Godley (Robbie Coltrane), Abberline moves through a cross-section of Victorian society as he seeks to crack the case. He meets some prostitutes and becomes romantically involved with one of them, namely Mary Kelly (Heather Graham). He also encounters Sir William Gull (Ian Holm), a distinguished physician associated with the royal family. "From Hell" features lots of violence and is very successful at creating atmosphere.
Starring Nicole Kidman, "The Others" is an unusual haunted house movie that is written and directed by Alejandro Amenabar. In the late 1940s, a widow named Grace (Kidman) is raising her two children on an isolated estate on an island in the English Channel. Because Grace's two children are allergic to sunlight, the curtains are always kept drawn in the house, which has no electricity or telephone. Unexpectedly, three people show up looking for jobs, and Grace hires them as servants. She immediately explains to them the bizarre house rule that each of the 50 doors must be locked before another can be opened. Soon a number of spooky incidents occur, leading Grace to fear the house may be haunted. Nicole Kidman gives a fine performance in "The Others," and 78 percent of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes liked the film.
"Snow Dogs" (2001)
Cuba Gooding Jr. stars in "Snow Dogs," a live-action Disney comedy aimed at kids. When his biological mother dies in Alaska leaving him a dogsled team, Miami dentist Ted Brooks (Gooding) learns that he was raised as an adopted child. In search of his origins, Ted travels to the remote Alaskan town of Tolketna, where he meets his biological father, a mountain man known as Thunder Jack (James Coburn). Also while in Tolketna, Ted is attracted to a pretty barmaid (Joanna Bacalso). But mostly Ted has a series of adventures that provide him opportunities to slip on ice and fall in snow, including a bear attack and an avalanche. Meanwhile, Ted develops a bond with the great-looking dogs he has inherited and eventually gets involved in a big dogsled race.
Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, and Barbara Hershey are among the stars of "Lantana," an Australian drama set in Sydney. The story centers around a police detective named Leon (LaPaglia), who's married to Sonja (Kerry Armstrong) but cheating on her with Jane (Rachael Blake). Worried about her husband Leon, Sonja sees a psychiatrist named Valerie (Hershey). But another of Valerie's clients is a gay man (Peter Phelps) who says he has a married lover, and Valerie suspects that lover is her husband John (Rush). When a woman is found dead, Leon investigates Jane's neighbor Nik (Vince Colosimo), who was seen moving evidence near where the body was discovered. The movie starts out like a murder mystery, but turns into a study of the interrelated lives of several characters. Fully 87 percent of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes liked "Lantana.""Memento" (2001)
"Memento" is a clever, noirish mystery yarn where much of the story is told more or less backwards. Early in the movie Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is shown shooting a man's brains out, and it's soon revealed that Leonard is obsessed with avenging his wife's brutal rape and murder. But Leonard's explanations of his actions may not be trustworthy because he claims he has suffered from short-term memory impairment ever since he received a severe head injury around the time of his wife's death. To compensate for his memory problem, Leonard keeps track of people, places, and perceptions using Polaroid photos, notes, and tattoos. Ninety-three percent of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes liked "Memento." (Note: The Limited Edition of "Memento" on DVD is a two-disc set that provides many more special features than the previously released single-disc DVD.)"Vanilla Sky" (2001)
Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Kurt Russell, and Cameron Diaz star in this thriller directed by Cameron Crowe. "Vanilla Sky" is an English-language adaptation of the Spanish-language movie "Abre los Ojos." David Aames (Cruise) is a wealthy 33-year-old playboy who has inherited a publishing empire. He has a sexual relationship with Julie Gianni (Diaz), but becomes attracted to Sofia Serrano (Cruz). After David spends a night with Sofia, he encounters Julie, who gives him a ride and drives off a bridge. When David finally comes to, he finds his face has been severely disfigured, and there are also scenes where David is questioned by a psychiatrist (Russell) about a murder. As "Vanilla Sky" blurs the line between reality and fantasy, it veers into sci-fi territory. Most people have difficulty understanding this puzzling movie in a single viewing.
Faithfully adapted from the popular novel by J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is an adventure film that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is raised by a mean aunt and uncle, but while still a boy he moves to a boarding school for wizards called Hogwarts. At the school, he befriends two other students, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). The three kids have various adventures at Hogwarts, including learning about the Sorcerer's Stone, a small rock with magical powers. Also, the movie shows the school's peculiar sport known as Quidditch. Appearing in the film are Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, John Cleese, Fiona Shaw, Robbie Coltrane, John Hurt, and Zoe Wanamaker. Seventy-nine percent of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes liked "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
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