“Human nature was a mystery that logic alone could not illuminate.” In this tale of memory, fiction, and flashbacked facts, Sir Ian McKellen completely transforms into an aging Sherlock Holmes, a real-life person who’s been misrepresented in Dr. Watson’s books and turned into a romanticized creation. Living in retirement for 33 years following a failure that still haunts him, Holmes, who is rapidly losing his memory, is trying to recall the details of the case that derailed him in the hope of writing an account to correct the “myriad misconceptions created by the imaginative license” Watson had embellished his recounting of the investigations with.
As directed by Russell Crowe from the book of the same name by Andrew Anastasios and Dr. Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios, The Water Diviner is part (anti-) war story, part romance, part history lesson, and part travelogue. Four years after the Battle of Gallipoli in which he lost his three sons, Joshua Connor (Crowe) is driven by the suicide of his wife to leave his Outback farm to go to the battlefield in search of their remains.
Like Hitler, Guy Ritchie has a certain style. Which doesn’t make either of them an artist. However, Ritchie has finally learned how to make a kick-ass action movie, and in adapting a somewhat silly and camp British 1960s TV series, the director has found something that fits his talents and temperament like a tight, flash suit. By far superior to his laughably bad Sherlock Holmes films, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a slick adventure that moves along at a clip from one set piece to the next, connected by banter—not witty, but efficient in setting up each character.
Similar to phonetics expert Professor Higgins’ struggles to save a dirty, guttural-sounding Cockney girl by improving her language and appearance, other experts have tried to save and transform a Lady, too. In 1964, My Fair Lady won eight Oscars, including ones for best film, director, cinematography, sound, music, and for Cecil Beaton’s costumes and set designs. But, 50 years later, does the Lady still look and sound good enough to pass as a dazzling duchess?
In this witty and pithy examination of modern New York living circa 1991, director Terry Gilliam posits the absolute necessity to abandon cynicism in order to believe in something and someone. Jeff Bridges is wonderfully arrogant and nasty as stretch-limo-riding radio shock-jock, Jack, who accidentally provokes a desperate caller into entering a restaurant and slaughtering its yuppie patrons. Jack bails on his life, climbing into a bottle of whiskey and a chasm of sarcasm, self-loathing, and self-pity. Parry (another wonderfully manic Robin Williams performance), still traumatized by having seen his beloved blown away in the massacre, has gotten out of a mental institution only to become a crazed homeless person. After a chance meeting, Jack is drawn by his guilt to help Parry on a quest to steal the Holy Grail in the hope of healing both their damaged souls.
Screenwriter James Lapine and director Rob Marshall’s adaptation of the brilliant Stephen Sondheim’s stage musical (book by Lapine) is a highly entertaining, moving, and inspiring film that, in this Blu-ray’s presentation, makes for great home theater.
The story cleverly weaves together four fairy tales through a plot device centering on a baker and his wife who are unable to have children because of a witch’s curse. In order for the witch to lift the curse, the baker must bring her the cow from Jack (of the beanstalk), Little Red Riding Hood’s cape, Rapunzel’s hair, and Cinderella’s slipper.
Written and directed by silly-but-serious cynical genius Preston Sturges, Sullivan’s Travels starts out with a dark and gloomy film-within-a-film showing two figures battling on a train crossing a bridge, symbolizing labor grappling with management to their mutual destruction. But as soon as we get out of the screening room, things lighten up both visually and in mood, the movie becoming a bright, witty slapstick satire on Hollywood and a pretentious, self-important director, Sullivan (Joel McCrea). This auteur wants to make a sociologically and artistically meritorious picture with messages about grim death, war, and the suffering of the unemployed during The Great Depression but, coming from a privileged background, he knows nothing about trouble. So he decides to go looking for it by dressing as a hobo and drifting across America.
1963, Cambridge University. Defying medical wisdom which gave him, at age 21, only two years to live after being diagnosed with the Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Stephen Hawking stretches his lifetime out to take on two other great challenges: to write a brief history of time and, with a single eloquent equation, to produce a theory of everything.
In films like La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element, and The Messenger, director Luc Besson presents the mysterious transformation of unthinking, undeveloped, unambitious girls into educated, sophisticated, strong females. He also includes large dollops of action, striking visuals, and sound that deliver boffo home theater.
Like a big, wet, dumb, dopey dog jumping all over you, The Equalizer hits with home theater power that thumps you in the chest if not the heart. An ex-CIA operative has taken on a new identity, living in obscurity, working in a Home Depot, helping people with their self-esteem issues whenever he can, whether they need to lose weight, get an education, or stop being a corrupt cop. However, when faced with a teenager’s plight of enslavement by brutal sex traffickers, he’s forced back into using his main skillset—terminating roomfuls of bad guys with extreme swiftness and minimal prejudice.