January 21, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I, III & IV • Page 23 ‘The Notebook’ available in limited edition set and a set of notecards and envelopes. The set is also available in DVD format. “The Children of Huang Shi” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), set in war-ravaged China in the 1930s, centers on young English journalist George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an Australian nurse (Radha Mitchell), and the leader of a Chinese resistance group, Chen (Chow Yun Fat), who meet in desperate and unexpected circumstances. Together, they rescue 60 orphaned children, leading them on an extraordinary journey across hundreds of miles of treacherous terrain, through snow-covered mountains and a scorching desert. Director Roger Spottiswoode has fashioned an exciting adventure combining war, fleeing orphans, and colonialism. The cinematography is beautiful and the performances first-rate. There are no extras. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the biggest studio of Hollywood’s Golden Age, with the greatest roster of stars of any studio in the world. “MGM: When the Lion Roars” (Warner Home Video) is a superb documentary. Narrated by Patrick Stewart, it features clips from the studio’s major productions, archive footage, interviews, newsreels, and home movies of the stars at work and play. The documentary is divided into two parts: the heyday of the studio’s success and influence (1924-1948); and its decline as a result of TV competition, rising costs, and changing public tastes. In its glory days, Metro Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling star in ‘The Notebook.’ by Dennis Seuling “The Notebook Limited Edition Giftset” (Warner Home Video) is an elaborately packaged Blu-ray Disc set that features the romantic 2004 film based on the bestselling novel by Nicholas Sparks. Spanning 60 years, the Romeo-and-Juliet tale focuses on teenagers from opposite social backgrounds, Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) and Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams), who fall in love one summer but are tragically forced apart. When they reunite seven years later, their passionate romance is rekindled, forcing one of them to choose between true love and class expectations. James Garner and Gena Rowlands co-star. “The Notebook” is an old-fashioned movie romance that succeeds primarily because of the terrific chemistry between McAdams (“Wedding Crashers”) and Gosling (Academy Award nominee for “Half Nelson”). It is sentimental and manipula- tive, but director Nick Cassavetes manages to steer it away from being maudlin. The final scenes, between Garner and Rowlands (Cassavetes’ mom), do tend to be somewhat sugary, but it is the young actors who carry the film and hold attention throughout. Cassavetes gives the relationship between Noah and Allie an earnest gravity. He also does a wonderful job depicting the 1940s time period of the main story, complete with era-perfect clothes, hairstyles, cars, and mid-America flourishes worthy of a Norman Rockwell “Saturday Evening Post” cover. Picture quality on the Blu-ray version is sharp and crystal clear, with incredible detail. Extras include deleted scenes, a featurette about casting McAdams and Gosling, McAdams’ screen test, a profile of Cassavetes, and a mini-documentary on Sparks. The limited edition “keepsake box” contains a photo and scrapbook album, decorative stickers, two themed bookmarks, -- nicknamed the Dream Factory -- was a self-contained entity where nearly all filming was done on stages or on the back lot, where costumes, scenery, props, and special effects all were created on its Culver City property, and box office profits were almost guaranteed. A number of documentaries have been made about the studio system over the years, but “When the Lion Roars” is one of the best, certainly the most comprehensive. Quite often the studio took risks, as with “The Blackboard Jungle,” the first movie to deal with juvenile delinquency in raw, realistic fashion, and “Freaks,” the Tod Browning-directed horror picture that featured actual human oddities in supporting roles. Although it was a monumental flop in its time, today ”Freaks” ranks as one of the most unusual and interesting horror films of the 1930s. This is fascinating cinema history. “Little Britain USA” (HBO Video) is a six-part TV series starring Matt Lucas and David Walliams in a series of way-out comedy sketches featuring such characters as Dafydd Thomas, the self-proclaimed “only gay in the village;” Emily Howard, an awkward and obvious cross-dresser in denial; Lou and his seemingly wheelchairbound friend, Andy; Marjorie Dawes, the insensitive leader of a weight-loss support group; Vicky Pollard, a foul-mouthed teen with an attitude; and Sebastian Love, the Anthony Francos Ristorante & Pizzeria s from Acros ovie the M er Theat Pizza • Pasta Chicken • Veal Seafood Salads• Appetizers Hot & Cold Sandwiches FREE DELIVERY TO ALL LOCAL AREAS (Ample on-site parking) • Open 7 Days • Major Credit Cards Accepted • Full Menu at afpizza.com 128 E. 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