12 Monkeys Terry Gilliam  
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The year is 2035 and humankind subsists in a desolate netherworld following an airborne viral holocaust. Desperate scientists time-shuttle a convict james cole to the past in hopes of discovering a means of saving the future. When cole arrives in 1996 hes deemed mad and placed in an asylum. Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 05/23/2006 Starring: Bruce Willis Run time: 130 minutes Rating: R

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21 Grams Stephen Mirrione, Alejandro González Iñárritu  
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Sean Penn and Benecio Del Toro, two of the most gripping actors around, play wildly different men linked through a grieving woman (Naomi Watts, Mulholland Drive, The Ring) in 21 Grams. Del Toro (Traffic, The Usual Suspects) delves deep into the role of an ex-con turned born-again Christian, a deeply conflicted man struggling to set right a terrible accident, even at the expense of his family. Penn (Mystic River, Dead Man Walking) captures a cynical, philandering professor in dire need of a heart transplant, which he gets from the death of Watts' husband. 21 Grams slips back in forth in time, creating an intricate emotional web out of the past and the present that slowly draws these three together; the result is remarkably fluid and compelling. The movie overreaches for metaphors towards the end, but that doesn't erase the power of the deeply felt performances. —Bret Fetzer

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25th Hour Spike Lee  
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25th Hour is a eulogy, mourning the New York of post-September 11, 2001, and the regrettable life of one of the city's least reputable citizens. Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) isn't a bad guy—in fact he's a mensch, adopting a battered dog in the film's mood-setting opening scene, and leading a decent life with his girlfriend (Rosario Dawson)... when he's not dealing narcotics. Facing a seven-year prison term, Monty spends his last free night with pals (Barry Pepper, Philip Seymour Hoffman) and visiting his understanding father (Brian Cox), while a Russian drug lord pressures him for getting busted. Lee directs this plotless, no-win scenario as the last gasp of a guy with nowhere to go, and the film (written by David Benioff, from his own novel) suffers from a similar loss of potential, lacking enough focus to make Monty's odyssey compelling. Instead, 25th Hour (which also costars Anna Paquin) rambles from scene to lazy scene, vaguely lamenting that lives have been wasted, some by terrorism, others by self-destruction. —Jeff Shannon

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30 Years of National Geographic Specials Barry Nye  
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Mystery, danger, splendor, adventure. Since 1964, National Geographic has been broadcasting television specials that created and, many would argue, still maintain the standard for all nature programming since. Vigilantly focusing on what came before human beings, this special is a grand slam of 30 years (1964-1994) of painstaking exploration and documentation. Its narrative sounds almost biblical: "In the beginning..." there was molten lava. The footage is, as you would expect, dazzling but it is the agile editing and well-crafted storytelling here that makes this video into a poignant success.

Moving from the creation of earth to its inhabitants, the narrative segues to the single law of survival. In the Living Sands of Namib (1978), a spider escapes a predator by cartwheeling down a dune. There are clips of Costa Rican lizards sprinting on water, a woodpecker outsmarting a corn snake, and an Indian tiger begrudgingly retrieving his deer-carcass supper from a thieving crocodile. Procreation is, undoubtedly, the more lighthearted side of survival. Three black beetles are in pursuit of a female running in the sand with a musical score so perfectly selected, it is as if the they are engaged in a well-choreographed dance. The synchronized swimming of mating squids in Jewels of the Caribbean (1994) is more graceful than Twyla Thwarp.

After an introduction to the habitat and behavior of so many creatures, the video turns the spotlight on the tool user, fire tamer, language maker: humankind. Americans on Everest (1964), Dr. Leakey and the Dawn of Man (1966), The World of Jacques Yves Cousteau (1966), In the Shadow of Vesuvius (1987), Australia's Twilight of the Dreamtime (1988), and Jane Goodall: My Life with the Chimpanzees (1990) are classic examples of National Geographic at its best. There are also fascinating clips from early Geographic projects, including the 1917 Katmai expedition.

Well beyond serving as a self-congratulatory slap on the back for work well done, this special has an important message: the animals and natural phenoms we fear the most are those we know the least about. Contrary to popular belief, humans are the largest single threat to all life on earth. By bringing fragile ecosystems into our living rooms, National Geographic hopes to instill conservation ethics in each viewer. —Cristina Del Sesto

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The 400 Blows - Criterion Collection Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte, François Truffaut  
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Studio: Image Entertainment Release Date: 05/09/2006

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The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T Roy Rowland  
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Fantasy film for the family based on a dr. Seuss story about a boy who doesnt want to practice his piano lessons. Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent Release Date: 12/21/2004 Starring: Hans Conreid Tommy Rettig Run time: 92 minutes Rating: G

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A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman - Criterion Collection Ulla Ryghe, Ingmar Bergman  
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Studio: Image Entertainment Release Date: 08/19/2003 Run time: 266 minutes

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A.I. - Artificial Intelligence Steven Spielberg  
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History will place an asterisk next to A.I. as the film Stanley Kubrick might have directed. But let the record also show that Kubrick—after developing this project for some 15 years—wanted Steven Spielberg to helm this astonishing sci-fi rendition of Pinocchio, claiming (with good reason) that it veered closer to Spielberg's kinder, gentler sensibilities. Spielberg inherited the project (based on the Brian Aldiss short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long") after Kubrick's death in 1999, and the result is an astounding directorial hybrid. A flawed masterpiece of sorts, in which Spielberg's gift for wondrous enchantment often clashes (and sometimes melds) with Kubrick's harsher vision of humanity, the film spans near and distant futures with the fairy-tale adventures of an artificial boy named David (Haley Joel Osment), a marvel of cybernetic progress who wants only to be a real boy, loved by his mother in that happy place called home.

Echoes of Spielberg's Empire of the Sun are clearly heard as young David, shunned by his trial parents and tossed into an unfriendly world, is joined by fellow "mecha" Gigolo Joe (played with a dancer's agility by Jude Law) in his quest for a mother-and-child reunion. Parallels to Pinocchio intensify as David reaches "the end of the world" (a Manhattan flooded by melted polar ice caps), and a far-future epilogue propels A.I. into even deeper realms of wonder, even as it pulls Spielberg back to his comfort zone of sweetness and soothing sentiment. Some may lament the diffusion of Kubrick's original vision, but this is Spielberg's A.I. (complete with one of John Williams's finest scores), a film of astonishing technical wizardry that spans the spectrum of human emotions and offers just enough Kubrick to suggest that humanity's future is anything but guaranteed. —Jeff Shannon

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The Abominable Dr. Phibes/Dr. Phibes Rises Again! Robert Fuest  
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Studio: Tcfhe/mgm Release Date: 09/11/2007

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Absolute Wilson Katharina Otto-Bernstein  
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An excellent introduction to Wilson's singular vision. —Jonathan Rosenbaum, THE CHICAGO READER

Absorbing. —A.O. Scott, THE NEW YORK TIMES

ABSOLUTE WILSON chronicles the epic life, times and creative genius of Robert Wilson, intimately revealing for the first time one of the most controversial and rule-breaking artists of our era. His revolutionary stage work has so altered our concept of theater that, as David Byrne says, 'It makes... other theater look hopelessly old-fashioned.' The sheer scope of Wilson's output, the prior unavailability of visual records, and his own personal privacy have given him an elusiveness that is thoroughly dissolved by this fascinating, full-access portrait. At the film's center is Wilson himself. A riveting screen presence, Wilson speaks with unprecedented candor about his life. Nothing is left in the shadows, as he discusses his restrictive upbringing, his therapeutic work with disabled children, his departure from small-town Texas at the time of his coming out as well as his experiences in the New York avant-garde scene of the 1960s. More than a biography, the film becomes an exhilarating exploration of the transformative power of creativity itself and the inspirational tale of a shy, stuttering boy who grew up to become a fearless artist with a profoundly original perspective to share with the world.

Katharina Otto-Bernstein's book ABSOLUTE WILSON: THE BIOGRAPHY, published by Prestel, is available online, including at Amazon.com, and select retail locations. For more information on ABSOLUTE WILSON, the documentary and the book, visit http://www.absolutewilson.com.

DVD Details: USA/Germany, 2006, 105 minutes, Color, Region 1, NTSC, Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0, In English; Special Features: extended interviews with Robert Wilson, Philip Glass and Susan Sontag; Robert Wilson's film The House (1965. 19 minutes. B&W. Silent.); interview with director Katharina Otto-Bernstein; contemporary vignettes about Robert Wilson's working methods; theatrical trailer; scene selections; closed captioning; liner notes with a Robert Wilson timeline and director's bio.

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Alfred Hitchcock Collector's Edition 2 DVD Set - Thirty Nine Steps / The Lady Vanishes / The Man Who Knew Too Much / Sabotage Alfred Hitchcock  
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The Alfred Hitchcock Collector's Edition contains four of his most celebrated motion pictures. Shot in the nineteen thirties, they are a great part of the famous British thriller series. In these films, his directorial greatness shines through, as audiences are kept in the dark and on the edge of their seats throughout. Contains: Thirty Nine Steps / The Lady Vanishes / The Man Who Knew Too Much / Sabotage

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Alice in Wonderland Nick Willing  
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Alice slips down a rabbit hole and tumbles into where the official language is jabberwocky and the official sense is nonsense. Studio: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 04/22/2003 Starring: Robbie Coltrane Ben Kingsley Run time: 129 minutes Rating: Nr Director: Nick Willing

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All That Jazz Bob Fosse  
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Choreographer-turned-director Bob Fosse (Cabaret, Lenny) turns the camera on himself in this nervy, sometimes unnerving 1979 feature, a nakedly autobiographical piece that veers from gritty drama to razzle-dazzle musical, allegory to satire. It's an indication of his bravura, and possibly his self-absorption, that Fosse (who also cowrote the script) literally opens alter ego Joe Gideon's heart in a key scene—an unflinching glimpse of cardiac surgery, shot during an actual open-heart procedure.

Roy Scheider makes a brave and largely successful leap out of his usual romantic lead roles to step into Gideon's dancing pumps, and supplies a plausible sketch of an extravagant, self-destructive, self-loathing creative dynamo, while Jessica Lange serves as a largely allegorical Muse, one of the various women that the philandering Gideon pursues (and usually abandons). Gideon's other romantic partners include Fosse's own protégé (and a major keeper of his choreographic style since his death), Ann Reinking, whose leggy grace is seductive both "onstage" and off.

Fosse/Gideon's collision course with mortality, as well as his priapic obsession with the opposite sex, may offer clues into the libidinal core of the choreographer's dynamic, sexualized style of dance, but musical aficionados will be forgiven for fast-forwarding to cut out the self-analysis and focus on the music, period. At its best—as in the knockout opening, scored to George Benson's strutting version of "On Broadway," which fuses music, dance, and dazzling camera work into a paean to Fosse's hoofer nation—All That Jazz offers a sequence of classic Fosse numbers, hard-edged, caustic, and joyously physical. —Sam Sutherland

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American Gangster Ridley Scott  
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Both the theatrical and extended version are on the same side of disc 1——disc 2 contains bonus footage Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 08/26/2008 Starring: Denzel Washington Run time: 158 minutes Director: Ridley Scott

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