New DVD/Blu-Ray Releases: January 26, 2010
Synopsis: London 1818: a secret love affair begins between 23 year old English poet, John Keats, and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne, an outspoken student of fashion. This unlikely pair started at odds; he thinking her a stylish minx, she unimpressed by literature in general.
It was the illness of Keats’s younger brother that drew them together. Keats was touched by Fanny’s efforts to help and agreed to teach her poetry.
By the time Fanny’s alarmed mother and Keats’s best friend Brown realised their attachment, the relationship had an unstoppable momentum. Intensely and helplessly absorbed in each other, the young lovers were swept into powerful new sensations, “I have the feeling as if I were dissolving”, Keats wrote to her. Together they rode a wave of romantic obsession that deepened as their troubles mounted. Only Keats’s illness proved insurmountable.
Consensus: Jane Campion’s direction is as refined as her screenplay, and she gets the most out of her cast — especially Abbie Cornish — in this understated period drama.
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Abbie Cornish, Thomas Sangster, Paul Schneider, Kerry Fox, Samuel Roukin, Samuel Barnett; Directed by: Jane Campion
Michael Jackson’s This is It
Synopsis: Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT will offer Jackson fans and music lovers worldwide a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts that would have taken place beginning this summer in London’s O2 Arena. Chronicling the months from April through June, 2009, the film is produced with the full support of the Estate of Michael Jackson and drawn from more than one hundred hours of behind-the-scenes footage, featuring Jackson rehearsing a number of his songs for the show. Audiences will be given a privileged and private look at Jackson as he has never been seen before. In raw and candid detail, Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT captures the singer, dancer, filmmaker, architect, creative genius and great artist at work as he creates and perfects his final show. Kenny Ortega, who was both Michael Jackson’s creative partner and the director of the stage show is also directing the film, which is being produced by Randy Phillips, Kenny Ortega and Paul Gongaware. Executive producers are John Branca and John McClain. The film will be distributed worldwide by Sony Pictures Releasing. Tickets for the limited two-week engagement of the film go on sale beginning September 27.
Consensus: While it may not be the definitive concert film (or the insightful backstage look) some will hope for, Michael Jackson’s This Is It packs more than enough entertainment value to live up to its ambitious title.
Cast: Michael Jackson; Director: Kenny Ortega
Synopsis: The makers of the Saw films continue to make Rube Goldberg roll over in his grave with this sixth film in the series. SAW VI finds Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) the target of a FBI investigation, but that won’t stop him from continuing the murderous mayhem started by Jigsaw.
Consensus: It won’t earn the franchise many new fans, but Saw VI is a surprising step up for what has become an intricately grisly annual tradition.
Cast: Costas Mandylor, Mark Rolston, Betsy Russell, Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Peter Outerbridge, Shauna MacDonald, Darius McCrary; Director: Kevin Greutert
Synopsis: FBI agents (BRUCE WILLIS and RADHA MITCHELL) investigate the mysterious murder of a college student linked to the man who helped create a high-tech surrogate phenomenon that allows people to purchase unflawed robotic versions of themselves – fit, good looking remotely controlled machines that ultimately assume their life roles – enabling people to experience life vicariously from the comfort and safety of their own homes. The murder spawns a quest for answers: in a world of masks, who’s real and who can you trust?
Cast: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames, James Francis Ginty; Director: Jonathan Mostow
Synopsis: Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut with this feisty, female-friendly action-comedy. JUNO’s Ellen Page stars as Bliss Cavendar, a young woman who longs to break free of her small-town bonds by joining the rough-and-tumble sport of roller derby in nearby Austin, Texas.
Consensus: While made from overly familiar ingredients, Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut has enough charm, energy, and good-natured humor to transcend its many cliches.
Cast: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Jimmy Fallon, Daniel Stern, Alia Shawkat, Eve; Director: Drew Barrymore