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Holocaust, The Thief of Bagdad, more

THE BUCKET LIST (2007). If Morgan Freeman and Judi Dench ever made a film together, would the world simply explode? After all, Freeman always plays the smartest character in his movies and Dench always plays the wisest character in her pictures, so wouldn't this fall under some sort of "irresistible force meets immovable object" scenario? At any rate, it's an idea more worthy of discussion than any of the pseudo-weighty nonsense on view in The Bucket List, an interminable film about terminal patients who learn important life lessons before, yes, kicking the bucket. Freeman plays Carter Chambers, an auto mechanic with an IQ equal to that of Stephen Hawking. Dying of cancer, he shares a hospital room with the filthy rich Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson), who's beginning to realize that money can buy everything except an extended lease on life. With each man facing less than a year to live, they both elect to go out in a blaze (or at least daze) of glory, by dutifully performing tasks on their self-penned "bucket list" of activities they've always wanted to do. The list includes such items as "go skydiving" and "laugh until I cry"; unfortunately, "entertain audiences who rent this slop" is nowhere to be found. A lazy and condescending package from top to bottom (with uninspired efforts put forth by Nicholson, Freeman, director Rob Reiner and especially scripter Justin Zackham), The Bucket List isn't nearly as torturous as the similar, "laughing in the face of death" Patch Adams; then again, neither is a broken back.

DVD extras include a short piece in which Zackham discusses his script and the music video for John Mayer's "Say."

Movie: *1/2

Extras: *

FOOL'S GOLD (2008). Lord, what fools these Hollywood mortals be! Here they further denigrate the standing of the romantic comedy by presenting this waterlogged flick about bickering ex-spouses on the prowl for sunken treasure off the Florida Keys. In a reunion that no one was exactly clamoring for, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days co-stars Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson play Finn and Tess; he's an irresponsible beach bum who's skilled at running up debts, while she's a levelheaded lass who's forced to take a job on the yacht of millionaire Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland). Despite finalizing their divorce mere hours earlier, Finn talks Tess into joining him once again on his never-ending quest for 18th century Spanish booty; they persuade Honeycutt to finance their endeavor, but they're working against the clock since murderous rapper-turned-mobster Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart) also has designs on the riches. Eye candy abounds in Fool's Gold: Many women will enjoy the sight of McConaughey taking off his shirt at regular intervals, some men will gaze at the bronzed Hudson sporting teeny bikinis, and ocean lovers (that would include me) can ignore the lame plot at the forefront in favor of concentrating on the shimmering beauty of the water (a modest distraction also found in After the Sunset and Into the Blue). But the direction (by Hitch's Andy Tennant) is uninspired, the script is bubble-headed, and the bland leads continue to disprove the notion that some measure of movie-star charisma is required to make it as a romantic draw. Old pro Sutherland provides some lift, but the real spark comes from Alexis Dziena as Honeycutt's trust-fund daughter; she takes the tired character of the young ditz and miraculously makes her funny.

DVD extras include a short piece on the two stars' working relationship and a gag reel.

Movie: *1/2

Extras: *1/2

HOLOCAUST (1978). The miniseries took off in the second half of the 1970s, and the format yielded an embarrassment of riches: Roots, Rich Man, Poor Man and its same-year sequel, Washington: Behind Closed Doors, etc. Among the cream of the crop – and finally available on DVD (which is more than can be said for Rich Man or Washington) – is Holocaust, the hotly debated drama that emerged as an international success. Running 7-1/2 hours, this excellent program centers on the Weiss clan, a Jewish family whose members struggle to survive the atrocities of the Second World War. Dr. Josef Weiss (Fritz Weaver) and his wife Berta (Rosemary Harris) think only of their children – sensitive artist Karl (James Woods), scrappy fighter Rudi (Joseph Bottoms) and spirited teenager Anna (Blanche Baker) – but cannot protect them from the brutal Nazi regime; meanwhile, an ambitious German lawyer named Erik Dorf (Michael Moriarty) manages to work his way up through the ranks of the Third Reich. As Karl's devoted German wife, up-and-coming Meryl Streep immediately commanded attention by appearing in this and The Deer Hunter in the same calendar year. This earned eight Emmy Awards, including Best Limited Series and Best Actor and Actress statues for Moriarty and Streep.

There are no extras on the DVD.

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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