UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOME ENTER Life (blu-ray)
Q. What is it?
A. Comedians Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence team up for a story that wouldn't appear to have many immediate humorous possibilities - two men serving life sentences in prison for a crime they did not commit. Life opens in Harlem in 1932, where Ray Gibson (Eddie Murphy) is a small-time con man in debt to Spanky, a gangster (Rick James) . Ray spots would-be bank teller Claude Banks (Martin Lawrence) at a gambling spot and, figuring him for an easy mark, lifts his wallet - only to discover Claude is broke. Ray and Claude's mutual need to raise some cash brings them together when Spanky offers them a job bringing back a load of moonshine from bootleggers in the deep south. However, things don't go well for Ray and Claude, and they're arrested by a sheriff in Mississippi who recently killed a man and needs someone on whom he can hang the charge. Since Ray and Claude are black, from out of town and have been caught red-handed with a load of illegal liquor, the sheriff figures they're easy pickings and frames them for the murder. Soon the two men are inmates in a Southern work camp, where they spend the next 55 years learning to get along with the other inmates, avoiding the wrath of the guards, seeing younger prisoners come and go and never losing hope that someday, somehow, their innocence will be proven and they'll be released. Life is the second screen pairing for Murphy and Lawrence, who also shared screen time in 1992's Boomerang, and was scripted by Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone from an original idea by Murphy. The supporting cast includes Ned Beatty, Clarence Williams III, Bernie Mac, Nick Cassavetes and R. Lee ErmeyMark Deming
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Married Life (blu-ray)
After entering into a passionate affair with a much younger woman, an unhappily married man resorts to murder as a means of eliminating his wife in director Ira Sachs' period melodrama. Set in the 1940s, Marriage tells the tale of Harry (Chris Cooper) - a man whose wife, Pat (Patricia Clarkson) , only wants sex. Smitten by the beautiful Kay (Rachel McAdams) but ultra-sensitive to his wife's feelings - so sensitive that he can't stand the thought of breaking her heart - Harry opts to poison his wife as a means of allowing the marriage to end with her pride still intact. Harry's scheme soon goes horribly awry, however, when after revealing the plan to his best friend, Richard (Pierce Brosnan) , Richard too falls in love with the ethereal young beauty and sets into motion a cunning plan all his own. A serpentine tale of murderous deception, Marriage was co-scripted by director Sachs and screenwriter Oren MovermanJason Buchanan
A Better Life (blu-ray)
About a Boy director Chris Weitz takes the helm for this affecting drama about an illegal immigrant who struggles to give his teenage son a better life by working as a gardener in L.A. Determined to move out of the city in order to get his son away from gangs and into a decent school, the devoted father comes into possession of a truck that allows him to earn a better income by taking more gardening jobs. But with immigration agents on every corner and vicious gangsters trying to lure his son into a life of crime, it's a constant struggle just to survive in such an unforgiving city without being deported. Demian Bichir, Jose Julian, and Dolores Heredia star in a film written by Eric Eason (Journey to the End of the Night) Jason Buchanan
After. life (blu-ray)
Young couple Paul (Justin Long) and Anna (Christina Ricci) are toying with the prospect of marriage when they have a chance encounter with Eliot (Liam Neeson) , a mysterious undertaker who claims he can speak with the dead. When Anna becomes caught in the otherworldly realm between life and death, she risks being buried alive. Will Eliot help her, or is he being driven by darker motivations? Jason Buchanan
To Save A Life (blu-ray)
Advertised by its distributor as a successor to such theatrically released religious dramas as Facing the Giants (2006) and Fireproof (2008) - though it came from a completely different production team - this inspirational saga recounts the story of Jake Taylor (Randy Wayne) , a well-rounded, Middle American teen who seems to have everything going for him, his world in perfect balance. But when an unexpected tragedy strikes in the form of a childhood friend's death, Jake suddenly begins to question everything he had long taken for granted, and he's soon forced to make a decision that will permanently change his futureNathan Southern
Train Of Life (blu-ray)
Radu Mihaileanu directed this French-Belgian-Romanian-Dutch comedy-drama, set in Central Europe during the summer of 1941. Yiddish-speaking Jews purchase a train, forge identity papers, and leave town. Posing as both prisoners and Nazis, they hope to reach Palestine via the Soviet Union, but problems arise when they encounter real Germans. To make matters worse, resistance fighters plan to dynamite the train. Made in Romania with French and German dialogue, this film won an international critics prize at the 1998 Venice Film FestivalBhob Stewart
The Facts Of Life (blu-ray)
Unlike the typical Bob Hope and Lucille Ball vehicles, The Facts of Life is essentially a domestic drama with comic undertones. Hope is married to Ruth Hussey, while Ball is the wife of Don DeFore. All four are old friends, who for many years have taken each other for granted. A series of unforeseen circumstances requires Hope and Ball to spend a great deal of time together without their spouses, and as a result they fall in love. Though the affair is never consummated, Hope and Ball are prepared to run off together, but in the end they decide that adultery at their age just isn't worth the trouble. Long unavailable for viewing due to legal tangles, The Facts of Life has gained legendary status as one of the few Bob Hope films of the 1960s to concentrate on character development rather than silly one-liners. Recent viewings have revealed that, though a far more mature work than one might expect from Hope or Ball, Facts of Life still relies to a great extent on the sort of TV sitcom material that the fans of the two stars had come to expect by 1960. Still, the film was considered offbeat enough to warrant an Oscar nomination for best screenplay (by longtime Hope associates Norman Panama and Melvin Frank) Hal Erickson
Ayn Rand: A Sense Of Life (blu-ray) (1997)
Author and philosopher Ayn Rand (born Alice Rosenbaum) developed an intense following in the 1930s and '40s for her best-selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and her anti-Communist, pro-Capitalism creed of Objectivism. Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life is a two-and-a-half hour exploration of her life, work, and influence, featuring newsreel footage of Rand and interviews with her friends, associates, and followers. Narrated by actress Sharon Gless, Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Documentary Feature of 1998Mark Deming
The Tree Of Life (blu-ray)
The eldest son of a 1950s-era Midwestern family sets out on an existential journey that leads him to question his faith while seeking the answers to life's most challenging mysteries in this evocative drama from celebrated director Terrence Malick. Meanwhile, as Jack's (Sean Penn) innocence slowly erodes, his turbulent relationship with his father (Brad Pitt) becomes the specter that hangs over his every thought and actionJason Buchanan
The Motel Life (blu-ray)
Stephen Dorff, Emile Hirsch, and Dakota Fanning star in this drama about two transient brothers from Reno who go on the run after being involved in a fatal hit-and-run accidentJason Buchanan
Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (blu-ray)
Director Joann Sfar's biopic Gainsbourg, Vie Heroique recounts the colorful life story of French chanteur and provocateur Serge Gainsbourg, known as much for his hugely outrageous antics in public as he was for his taboo-busting, often-hilarious song lyrics and orchestrations. Eric Elmosino stars as the lead, while the late, tragic actress Lucy Gordon (Spider-Man 3) co-stars as Gainsbourg's third wife, the actress-model Jane BirkinNathan Southern