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The Piano

The Piano Lowest new price: $7.75
Lowest used price: $1.64
List price: $9.98

Jane Campion's "The Piano" struck a deep chord (if you'll excuse the expression) with audiences in 1993, who were mesmerized by the film's rich, dreamlike imagery. It is the story of a Scottish woman named Ada (Holly Hunter), who has been mute since age 6 because she simply chose not to speak. Ada travels with her daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) and her beloved piano to a remote spot on the coast of New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a farmer (Sam Neill). She gives piano lessons to a gruff neighbor (Harvey Keitel) who has Maori tattoos on his face, and, well, things develop from there. The picture takes on a powerful dream logic that simply defies synopsis. It's a breathtakingly beautiful and original achievement from Campion, a unique stylist. "The Piano" won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Oscars for Hunt, Paquin, and Campion's screenplay. "--Jim Emerson"

Jane Campion's The Piano struck a deep chord (if you'll excuse the expression) with audiences in 1993, who were mesmerized by the film's rich, dreamlike imagery. It is the story of a Scottish woman named Ada (Holly Hunter), who has been mute since age 6 because she simply chose not to speak. Ada travels with her daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) and her beloved piano to a remote spot on the coast of New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a farmer (Sam Neill). She gives piano lessons to a gruff neighbor (Harvey Keitel) who has Maori tattoos on his face, and, well, things develop from there. The picture takes on a powerful dream logic that simply defies synopsis. It's a breathtakingly beautiful and original achievement from Campion, a unique stylist. The Piano won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Oscars for Hunt, Paquin, and Campion's screenplay. --Jim Emerson

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Breaker Morant

Breaker Morant Lowest new price: $28.18
Lowest used price: $3.94
List price: $19.98

Before coming to America to make such acclaimed films as Tender Mercies and Driving Miss Daisy, Australian director Bruce Beresford made a lasting impression with this compelling courtroom drama, considered one the finest films of the Australian new wave of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Based on a true story about three soldiers in the Boer War who are served up as political scapegoats of the British Empire, the film uses a flashback structure to dramatize the courtroom testimony. It begins when the three Australian soldiers are railroaded for the justified killing of a German missionary and placed on trial for court-martial not as a matter of justice, but to mollify the German government for the sake of political expediency. Burdened with a competent but inexperienced and hopelessly disadvantaged lawyer, the soldiers realize that their fate has been sealed and the outcome of their trial is a fait accompli. Unfolding with urgent precision and a riveting focus on its well-drawn characters, Breaker Morant was the all-time box-office hit in Australia at the time of its release in 1980, and it remains one of the very best historical dramas ever made. --Jeff Shannon

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Holy Smoke!

Holy Smoke! Lowest new price: $24.00
Lowest used price: $5.44
List price: $9.99
Brand: Buena Vista Home Video

Kate Winslet (TITANIC, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY) and Harvey Keitel (U-571, PULP FICTION) add scintillating performances to a seductive, darkly hilarious motion picture that's met with overwhelming critical acclaim! While on a journey of discovery in exotic India, beautiful young Ruth Barroin (Winslet) falls under the influence of a charismatic religious guru. Her desperate parents then hire PJ Waters (Keitel), a macho cult deprogrammer, who confronts Ruth in a remote desert hideaway. But PJ quickly learns that he's met his match in the sexy, intelligent, and iron-willed Ruth! Another memorable motion picture directed by Academy Award(R)-winner Jane Campion -- you'll feel an undeniable comic charge from the sparks that fly as PJ and Ruth face off in an electric battle of the sexes.

Aussie director Jane Campion's one of a kind. Forget money and fame; she's inspired by the pleasure of sharing her cinematic dreams with friends and film audiences. Her globetrotting heroines (Angel at My Table, The Piano, Portrait of a Lady) may be willful, crazed, self-absorbed, wrong--but who can resist joining these passionate women on their voyages of self-discovery, whether they lead to safe harbor or dead end?

Holy Smoke opens deliriously in a magical India, saturated with light, color, sensuality. Celebrated by Neil Diamond's anthem, "Holly Holy," Ruth Baron (Kate Winslet, delivering a breathtakingly luminous performance) explores a world that encourages spiritual epiphany--and falls hard for the cartoonish guru who opens her "third eye." Back home in Australia, her hilariously dysfunctional, distinctly down-to-earth family hires hotshot deprogrammer PJ Waters (Harvey Keitel, his dyed hair and cowboy boots telegraphing desperate machismo) to cure Ruth. In an isolated Outback shack, Campion's duo wrestle each other for control of their souls--and bodies, too. This duel's in deadly earnest: Ruth assaults Waters's petrified masculinity; PJ aims to strip this radiant girl of her unexamined faith.

Their wild ride--funny, brutal, erotic--toward brand-new selfhood is punctuated by indelible images: Ruth dancing in a white sari beside an emu corral; naked in the night, Ruth offering her lush body to her tormentor; lost in the desert, cross-dressed in red gown, PJ "saved" by a golden vision of Ruth as a magnificent Indian goddess. For those who love the way movies can sometimes project truth and beauty, Holy Smoke is a feast for the eyes--and for the mind. --Kathleen Murphy

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The Road Warrior

The Road Warrior Lowest new price: $4.95
Lowest used price: $0.01
List price: $14.98
Brand: Road Warrior

Loner lawman Mad Max fights barbarian bikers for gasoline in the wasteland future. Directed by George Miller.

A strong candidate for the designation of most thrilling action movie ever made (the turbo-charged exhilaration of its full-throttle highway chases has never been equaled), the second part of George Miller's post-apocalyptic trilogy is also a magnificently imagined movie myth. Like the Star Wars trilogy (by that other George) the Mad Max films draw their inspiration from the works of mythologist Joseph Campbell. In the 1979 original, Max (Mel Gibson) is a policeman, the last guardian of civilization and order in a devastated world reduced to chaos. But when a leather-clad gang of sadomasochistic speed demons mows down Max's family, his remaining connections to humanity are also permanently severed. After brutally exacting his revenge, Max wanders off into the wasteland alone, "a burned out shell of a man" who (to paraphrase The Searchers) is destined to wander forever between the winds. In The Road Warrior, Max rediscovers a sliver of his shattered humanity, and a spark of redemption, when he helps an embattled colony of pioneers fight off the savages who are after that most precious of all commodities: "guzzline." Max is transformed into a legendary hero, just as Mel Gibson was catapulted to international movie stardom. With its final stirring images, The Road Warrior transcends its genre (whatever that may be--science fiction? Western? action adventure?) and becomes something timeless. It's a great movie. --Jim Emerson

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Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea Lowest new price: $40.00
Lowest used price: $2.95
Brand: HALL,REBECCA

"Beautifully acted" -- The Independent (U.K.)

As imagined by Jean Rhys, the villainous madwoman in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre becomes an innocent, born into two cultures but belonging to none.

The exotic Caribbean confounds young Englishman Edward Rochester when he arrives in 1830s Jamaica to pursue his fortune. Nevertheless, he finds nothing to fear in beautiful Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway. She eagerly succumbs to his courtship, entrusting him with her dowry and her destiny. In the intoxicating surroundings of their honeymoon house, ecstatic lust turns to suspicion and betrayal as her world and his disastrously collide.

In this passionate and heartbreaking love story, the shadowy character created by one brilliant novelist becomes fully realized in the hands of another. Rafe Spall (The Chatterley Affair) and Rebecca Hall (The Prestige) star in a fresh adaptation that captures all the sensuality, suspense, and nuance of Rhys’s masterpiece.

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE biography of Jean Rhys, SDH subtitles, and cast filmographies.

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Picnic at Hanging Rock (The Criterion Collection)

Picnic at Hanging Rock (The Criterion Collection) Lowest used price: $21.01
List price: $29.95
Brand: WEIR,PETER

Twenty years after it swept Australia into the international film spotlight, Peter Weir's stunning 1975 masterpiece remains as ineffable as the unanswerable mystery at its core. A Valentine's Day picnic at an ancient volcanic outcropping turns to disaster for the residents of Mrs. Appleyard's school when a few young girls inexplicably vanish on Hanging Rock. A lyrical, meditative film charged with suppressed longings, Picnic at Hanging Rock is at long last available in a pristine widescreen director's cut with a newly-minted Dolby® digital 5.1 channel soundtrack.

Situated somewhere between supernatural horror and lush Victorian melodrama, director Peter Weir's lyrical, enigmatic masterpiece is an imaginative tease. The setting is a proper turn-of-the century Australian boarding school for girls, a suffocating institution built on strict moral codes, repressed sexuality, and a subtle but enforced class structure. As the film opens, girls draped in immaculate white dress prepare for a picnic at the nearby volcanic formation, Hanging Rock, and Weir hangs an air of dark foreboding over the proceeding. "You'll have to love someone else, because I won't be here very long," says one virginal girl, Miranda, to her friend. Her words are prophetic: during the picnic, Miranda, along with two other girls and an uptight schoolmistress, vanish into the rocks. While a search party repeatedly returns to the rock to look for either the girls or the reasons for their disappearance, Weir leaves the mystery unsolved. Like Antonioni's L'Avventura, the vanishing is open to numerous interpretations--both rational and illusory--but Weir drops enough allegorical clues that it feels like a parable. He transforms the landscape and weather into menacing and eerie images; outlines of faces can be seen in the rocks, while the oppressive heat beating down on the picnic doubles as an atmospheric metaphor for the girls' unbearable social and sexual confinement. These images and other plot twists toward the end hint that this mysterious vanishing, on some level, was actually a form of spiritual escape--the only out, other than death, from the film's bleak, tightly structured community. Regardless of how you see it, though, this hypnotic puzzle remains the highlight of the '70s Australian New Wave. The DVD version presents the film in letterbox form. --Dave McCoy

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The Year of Living Dangerously

The Year of Living Dangerously Lowest new price: $9.79
Lowest used price: $1.99
List price: $15.65
Brand: Warner Home Video

Year of Living Dangerously, The (DVD)

Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hunt star in this story of anaïve Australian reporter who lands in the middle of a coup during TheYear of Living Dangerously. Indonesia, 1965. With the help of diminutivelocal Billy Kwan (Hunt) and diplomat Jill Bryant (Weaver), Guy Hamilton(Gibson) suddenly rockets to importance as a newsman with access toinside information about the coming coup d'etat. But Hamilton must makea choice: To succeed as a newsman--to report this story to the world--hemust betray, and possibly destroy, the two people who love him. LindaHunt won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role asthe male Billy Kwan.

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Howling III: The Marsupials

Howling III: The Marsupials Lowest new price: $2.98
Lowest used price: $1.68
List price: $7.00

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Strictly Ballroom

Strictly Ballroom Lowest new price: $4.96
Lowest used price: $1.34
List price: $14.99
Brand: Buena Vista Home Video

From Baz Lurhrmann -- the director of the award-winning hits ROMEO & JULIET and MOULIN ROUGE! -- comes STRICTLY BALLROOM ... the hilariously funny romantic comedy that's sure to leave you laughing, cheering, and feeling great! It's the magical story of a championship ballroom dancer who's breaking all the rules, and his ugly duckling dancing partner. Together they make their dreams come true! Now celebrating its glorious 10th Anniversary -- you're sure to enjoy this exhaustively funny comedy as it dances and soars its way straight into your heart. Critics everywhere fell madly in love with this big-screen treat -- and so will you!

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The Ugly

The Ugly Lowest new price: $52.89
Lowest used price: $4.88
List price: $14.98
Brand: Lions Gate Home Ent.

A psychiatrist interviews a jailed serial killer, who reveals how a domineering mother and other forces shaped him.

Features:

  • Factory sealed DVD

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