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Video / DVD

New releases

By Times Staff Writer
Published March 10, 2005


LADDER 49

DIRECTOR: Jay Russell

CAST: Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, Jacinda Barrett, Billy Burke, Robert Patrick, Balthazar Getty, Morris Chestnut, Jay Hernandez, Tim Guinee

SYNOPSIS: A firefighter (Phoenix) trapped in a burning building recalls his professional life while awaiting rescue. Travolta co-stars as his mentor, the fire chief.

WHAT WE SAID: Times reviewer Rick Gershman gave the film a C. "The film has some good qualities, including a strong supporting cast and firefighting scenes that feel true to life," he wrote. "The danger seems real, the heroes extremely human and vulnerable. It's too bad the rest of Ladder 49 plays like a lukewarm blue-collar soap opera."

MPAA RATING: PG-13; violence, profanity

RUNNING TIME: 118 min.

LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE

DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua

CAST: Aerosmith, Angelique Kidjo, Arts Militia, B.B. King, Bill Cosby, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Chris Thomas King, Chuck D & Fine, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, David Johansen & Hubert Sumlin, Dr. John, Gregg Allman, Honeyboy Edwards, India.Arie, James Blood Ulmer & Allison Krauss, Jimmie Vaughn, John Fogerty, John Hammond, Keb' Mo', Kim Wilson, Larry Johnson, Lazy Lester, Macy Gray, Mavis Staples, Natalie Cole, Odetta, Robert Cray, Ruth Brown, Shemekia Copeland, Solomon Burke, Steve Tyler & Joe Perry, The Neville Brothers, Vernon Reid.

SYNOPSIS: A concert at Radio City Music Hall becomes a historical record of blues music in the United States.

WHAT WE SAID: The Times did not review this film, but Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald wrote that this is "executive producer Martin Scorsese's loving homage to the music. . . . A Ken Burns-style documentary approach, which may have added to a novice's understanding of this seminal art form, isn't director Antoine Fuqua's primary aim here. That would require more than a simple two-hour treatment. Essentially a concert film with snippets of history here and there, Lightning in a Bottle more closely aspires to The Last Waltz greatness."

MPAA RATING: PG-13; brief strong language

RUNNING TIME: 103 min.

WOMAN THOU ART LOOSED

DIRECTOR: Michael Schultz

CAST: Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine, Debbi Morgan, Boatman, Clifton Powell, Idalis DeLeon, Sean Blakemore, Ricky Harris

SYNOPSIS: A death row inmate (Elise) reviews her life of drug addiction, loose morals and childhood sexual abuse. Based on the book by Bishop T.D. Jakes, who regularly appears preaching in the film.

WHAT WE SAID: Times film critic Steve Persall gave the movie a B-. "Woman Thou Art Loosed isn't an especially fine film, but it has the strength of its convictions, making complaints seem petty," he wrote. "The best performer is Jakes, shown on several occasions in the pulpit, exhorting followers to give themselves to the lord. Woman Thou Art Loosed may appeal to the same audience that made The Passion of the Christ popular, plus black moviegoers seeking something in theaters besides booty call comedies and thug flicks. Schultz hedges his bets a bit by doting on sex, drugs and violence, as if he's satisfying the folks Jakes wants to save. But the movie is occasionally powerful and always on task."

MPAA RATING: R; violence, sexual content and drug use

RUNNING TIME: 94 min.

[Last modified March 9, 2005, 09:39:05]


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