Manufacturer: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
When Driss, an ex-con from the projects, is hired to take care of an eccentric French aristocrat named Philippe, his newfound job quickly becomes an unpredictable adventure. Speeding a Maserati through Paris, seducing women and paragliding over the Alps is just the beginning, as Driss turns the often humorous world of upper-class Parisian society upside-down. As this unlikely duo overcome adversity of every flavor in this true story, they also shatter their preconceptions of love, life and each other. Based on the #1 international best-selling book, “You Changed My Life.” Driss (Omar Sy), a Senegalese man living in a Paris slum, applies for a job as caretaker to a wealthy quadriplegic, but all he wants is to get his paper stamped so he can get benefits. Despite his lack of qualifications, he lands the job because of his attitude: Philippe (François Cluzet), the quadriplegic, wants a caretaker who will look at him without pity. As Driss reluctantly learns to move, feed, and clean Philippe, the two men discover a blunt but vital humor that not only bridges the cultural and class divide between them, but gives Philippe a renewed joy in life. It's easy to see what made The Intouchables such a massive success in France; the movie has the sweet sincerity and uplifting conclusion that make for a classic feel-good experience. The chemistry between the two leads is undeniable, and Sy--who won the French equivalent of the Oscar for his role--is a dynamic and charismatic performer, while Cluzet's understated performance conveys Philippe's frustrations. The movie doesn't dig too deeply into the struggles of life as a quadriplegic or the struggles of life among the inner-city poor, so when The Intouchables ends it's not likely to leave a lasting impression, but that doesn't get in the way of its immediate charm and warmth. --Bret Fetzer
Manufacturer: Music Box Films
Brand: SOUTHPORT MUSIC BOX CORPO
18-year old Anna (stunning newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska), a sheltered orphan raised in a convent, is preparing to become a nun when the Mother Superior insists she first visit her sole living relative. Naive, innocent Anna soon finds herself in the presence of her aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), a worldly and cynical Communist Party insider, who shocks her with the declaration that her real name is Ida and her Jewish parents were murdered during the Nazi occupation. This revelation triggers a heart-wrenching journey into the countryside, to the family house and into the secrets of the repressed past, evoking the haunting legacy of the Holocaust and the realities of postwar Communism.
As the Empire of the Sun crumbles upon itself and a rain of firebombs falls upon Japan, the final death march of a nation is echoed in millions of smaller tragedies. This is the story of Seita and his younger sister Setsuko, two children born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, and now cast adrift in a world that lacks not the care to shelter them, but simply the resources. Forced to fend for themselves in the aftermath of fires that swept entire cities from the face of the earth, their doomed struggle is both a tribute to the human spirit and the stuff of nightmares. Beautiful, yet at times brutal and horrifying. Isao Takahata's powerful antiwar film has been praised by critics wherever it has been screened around the world. When their mother is killed in the firebombing of Tokyo near the end of World War II, teenage Seita and his little sister Setsuko are left on their own: their father is away, serving in the Imperial Navy. The two children initially stay with an aunt, but she has little affection for them and resents the time and money they require. The two children set up housekeeping in a cave by a stream, but their meager resources are quickly exhausted, and Seita is reduced to stealing to feed his sister. Despite his efforts, she succumbs to malnutrition. Seita painfully makes his way back to the crowded city, where he quietly dies in a crowded railway station. The strength of the film lies in Takahata's evenhanded portrayal of the characters. A sympathetic doctor, the greedy aunt, the disinterested cousins all know there is little they can do for Seita and Setsuko. Their resources, like their country's, are already overtaxed: anything they spare endangers their own survival. As in Barefoot Gen, no mention is made of Japan's role in the war as an aggressor; but the depiction of the needless suffering endured by its victims transcends national and ideological boundaries. Takahata's extraordinary film suggests a flower on the grave of countless children who, like Seika and Setsuko, died needlessly in war...
Manufacturer: Buena Vista Home Entertainment / Touchstone
Brand: Buena Vista Home Video
From Mel Gibson, director of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and the Academy Award(R)-winning BRAVEHEART (Best Director, Best Picture, 1995) comes the thrilling historical epic APOCALYPTO. This intense, nonstop action-adventure transports you to an ancient South American civilization, for an experience unlike anything you've ever known. In the twilight of the mysterious Mayan culture, young Jaguar Paw is captured and taken to the great Mayan city where he faces a harrowing end. Driven by the power of his love for his wife and son, he makes an adrenaline-soaked, heart-racing escape to rescue them and ultimately save his way of life. Filled with unrelenting action and stunning cinematography, APOCALYPTO is an enthralling and unforgettable film experience. Forget any off-screen impressions you may have of Mel Gibson, and experience Apocalypto as the mad, bloody runaway train that it is. The story is set in the pre-Columbian Maya population: one village is brutally overrun, its residents either slaughtered or abducted, by a ruling tribe that needs slaves and human sacrifices. We focus on the capable warrior Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), although Gibson skillfully sketches a whole population of characters--many of whom don't survive the early reels. Most of the film is set in the dense jungle, but the middle section, in a grand Mayan city, is a dazzling triumph of design, costuming, and sheer decadent terror. The movie itself is a triumph of brutality, as Gibson lets loose his well-established fascination with bodily mortification in a litany of assaults including impalement, evisceration, snakebite, and bee stings. It's a dark, disgusted vision, but Gibson doesn't forget to apply some very canny moviemaking instincts to the violence--including the creation of a tremendous pair of villains (strikingly played by Raoul Trujillo and Rodolfo Palacias). The film is in a Maya dialect, subtitled in English, and shot on digital video (which occasionally betrays itself in some blurry quick pans). Amidst all the mayhem, nothing in t...