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Movies of Excellence: 6 Film Collection [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Taking Back Our Town
Based on a true story, Taking Back Our Town is a Lifetime original movie. Laura Innes plays Pat Melancon, a housewife and environmental activist. She forms a coalition to stop the chemical corporation Shintech from building a plant in her town. Already overly polluted, her township is known as "cancer alley." Fighting against the wealthy company brings Pat and her coalition all the way to the Governor. Also stars Ruby Dee and Hallee Hirsh. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

Attica
Attica is a probing, no-nonsense TV-movie re-creation of the tragic events which followed the Attica (New York) Correctional Facility rebellion of September 9, 1971. Inmates demanding better food and living conditions used jerry-built weapons to take 38 guards as hostage. Negotiations begin immediately, only to continually break down thanks to uncompromising stubbornness on both sides. Four days into the crisis, the rebellion ends in a bloodbath, with state troopers firing on the prisoners-- killing several of the guards in the process. Based on the eyewitness reporting of the New York Times' Tom Wicker (here played by George Grizzard), who was one of the civilian negotiators during the stalemate, Attica was first telecast on March 3, 1980. (Perhaps significantly, Governor Nelson Rockefeller, whom many hold responsible for the climactic carnage at the prison, is never seen in either factual or fictional form during the film). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Go Tell It on the Mountain
In this poignant adaptation of James Baldwin's novel about a few generations in the life of an Afro-American family, a young boy's efforts to gain some approval from his Bible-thumping, disciplinarian father takes center stage, and the family's background is told in a series of flashbacks. The story begins in 1935 with young Southerner Gabriel Grimes (Paul Winfield) as he runs away from home and takes on the identity of a Baptist lay preacher. Childless by his timid first wife, Gabriel has an illegitimate son by Esther (Alfre Woodard), an irresistible temptress. Unfortunately, the son comes to no good, forcing an embittered Gabriel to move to Harlem and start over with another wife, and eventually, two more sons. But the man has by this time gone over the edge and is filled with a rage against the vicissitudes of his life (he cannot get ahead in the church and is forced to work as a day laborer just to keep food on the table). He takes out his anger on his family and is so single-mindedly fanatical about religion that he forces his sons to join regular home Bible study to the exclusion of all other activities -- especially those promoted by the white-dominated society outside of Harlem. When his timid but intelligent son John (James Bond III) wins a writing honor, Gabriel makes him give it back -- and in general, his fanaticism and anger turn life into intermittent misery for the talented and sensitive son who loves writing. John's desire to please his father is all the more touching when the impossibility of pleasing him is so obvious. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

Endgame
Vantage Point director Pete Travis turns his attention from high-profile political assassinations to the high-risk talks that ushered in the end of apartheid while securing the release of Nelson Mandela in this historical drama starring William Hurt, Chiwetel Ejiofer, Mark Strong, and Johnny Lee Miller. The time is the late '80s, a crucial period in the history of South Africa. President P.W. Botha is hanging on to power by a thread as the African National Congress (ANC) takes up arms against apartheid and the country tumbles toward insurrection. A British mining concern called Consolidated Gold is convinced that their interests would be better served in a stable South Africa, and they quietly dispatch Michael Young, their head of public affairs, to open an unofficial dialogue between the bitter rivals. Assembling a reluctant yet brilliant team to pave the way to reconciliation by confronting obstacles that initially seem insurmountable, Young places his trust in ANC leader Thabo Mbeki and Afrikaner philosophy professor Willie Esterhuyse. It is their empathy that will ultimately serve as the catalyst for change by proving more powerful than the terrorist bombs that threaten to disrupt the peaceful dialogue. As the story shifts between Mandela's jail cell, Botha's chambers, ANC headquarters, and a rented car occupied by a British bureaucrat, the prospect for peace becomes more than just a distant hope. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

The Execution of Raymond Graham
Jeff Fahey plays Raymond Graham, who for five years has lived on Death Row, awaiting execution for the murder of a store clerk. Having given up on any further legal delays, Graham wearily awaits the fatal injection. Joining the condemned man in his death watch are Graham's family and attorney, a crowd of anti-capital punishment demonstrators, and the inevitable TV crews. This drama concentrates on the final two hours of Raymond Graham's life, played out in "real time". Originally telecast November 17, 1985, The Execution of Raymond Graham was the ABC TV network's first live dramatic presentation in nearly 25 years. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Ripple Effect
Philippe Caland directs and stars in this karmic drama about a hip, new age clothing designer from Lebanon who attempts to engineer redemption after realizing that a mistake from his past may have destroyed his entire future. Amer Atrash (Caland) is a first generation immigrant who's perpetually on the verge of the American Dream. But despite his repeated attempts to achieve financial success, it seems that complications always arise at the eleventh hour that set him directly back to square one. Now, after years of struggling, Amer is set to debut a cutting edge clothing line that could put him on top of the world. When the rug is pulled out from under Amer's feet once again, his efforts to hustle his way through the predicament ultimately amount to naught. Later, when Amer's wife Sherry (Virginia Madsen) admits that she's been feeling neglected and needs time to decide whether it's worth working to save their marriage, the dejected designer tells her a secret that he's never revealed to another living soul. Fifteen years earlier, Amer was involved in an accident that left a man named Phillip Blackman (Forest Whitaker) wheelchair bound. Could it be that all of Amer's current life problems somehow stem back to that one fateful night? Upon hearing Amer's story, Sherry encourages her husband to seek out Phillip and make amends. Later, after locating Phillip's beautiful wife Kitty (Minnie Driver), Amer begs for forgiveness by citing all the bad things that have happened to him since the accident. When Phillip and Amer set out on a journey designed to alter Amer's current state of mind and finally bring him nearer to enlightenment, the lives of both men are profoundly changed in ways that neither could have ever anticipated. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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