Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Memento (Limited Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Memento (Limited Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
21st Century Pulp Fiction

I make the reference to Quentin Tarantino's, "Pulp Fiction", not due to similarities between the movies, rather the feeling you have after watching the films for the first time. True, there is a bit, or a great bit, of confusion, but the main feeling is one of having seen a remarkable piece of work that renews your faith that there are still writers and directors creating very thoughtful and intricately clever stories. The best stories are nothing without the talented actors to place them on film, and here, once again everyone that appears on the screen is excellent.
I would like to know who decides what films are to be promoted for mainstream audiences and which films are to be placed in to more limited release in so-called art house theaters. Audiences made, "The Sixth Sense", one of the larger box office successes of all time, and that film turned on one clever twist at the end together with an excellent performance by Haley Joel Osment. I cannot imagine why this movie would not have drawn many of the same people, and drawn them to the theater more than once. Robin Williams said that he loved the film when he saw it, but had no idea of what he had seen until he watched the movie backward. A clever comment, but also one you may find yourself making.
Guy Pearce, who audiences first met in, "LA Confidential", Carrie-Anne Moss who had a huge debut with the first, "Matrix", film, and Joe Pantoliano, who also appeared in, "Matrix", as well as the very first movie by the same directing duo of brothers in, "Bound", all give exceptional performances.
The film will have those that are eager to solve the mysteries they perceive claim they have grasped the plot repeatedly, only to then see they were wrong. I suppose there are some that may guess their way to the correct conclusion, but it would be only a guess. I have only watched the film once, but unless I missed something, there is no attempt to let the audiences in on the game until the final few minutes. If you watch it with a group, keep the arguing after the first viewing to a minimum, and start the DVD once again. The film is that clever, and certainly worthy of a second look.

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Christopher Nolan
Guy Pearce
Carrie-Anne Moss
Joe Pantoliano

DVD title: Babylon 5 - The Complete Television Series (5-Pack)
Productgroup: DVD
Babylon 5 - The Complete Television Series (5-Pack) - movie DVD cover picture
The BEST S/F Series Ever Aired!

J. Michael Straczynski (jms) created the space station Babylon 5 and spent years getting it produced and on the air. It premiered about the same time ST: Deep Space Nine did, and for a while, fans compared the two. It was almost "apples & oranges" time, but it was tried.
As a long-time Trek fan, I was surprised when I first saw the pilot ("The Gathering") in 1993. I was absolutely stunned. Why Babylon 5, not just Babylon Station? Well, #s 1 - 4 were sabotaged & destroyed; # 4 disappeared after going on-line. (Disappeared? It's 5 MILES LONG, for crying out loud!) Word was that this would be an on-going, progressive five year story arc, the likes of which hadn't been done before on US television. Risky. Okay, jms had my attention. I couldn't wait for the series. When it finally did air, I (being cynical of tv production in general) figured it wasn't going to stay as good. It didn't. It steadily got better.
I repeat, I speak as a long time Trek fan (beginning with the original series - skip Voyager, I did). B5 is one of the best televison series ever produced. Note I did not say "science fiction series." (It is THE best s/f series ever put up to the audience.) I introduced several non s/f fans to the series, as a dramatic series and they all loved it. (So much for "only for space opera hounds.") The story arc freed Straczynski (he wrote 90% of the scripts) from having to make everything "come right" in a 45 minute time slot, and off it went.
Crowd scenes were, well, crowded, with humans of all types and aliens as extras wandering through scenes. (The aliens, by the way, are much more than odd skin colours, strange noses and "hair.") The station wasn't pristeen, the population wasn't always picture perfect. We have shysters, homeless, personal problems, espionage, humour, betrayal, relationships, and deaths (being in the opening credits did not guarantee survival, and it didn't always happen at the end of a season). Opening credits and theme music changed every year. One character's very appearance even changed dramatically. The plotlines are tight, and the threads are woven into five years of shows. The special effects are believable. (Yes, you could "hear" space battles, but hey, cut them some slack - NASA asked for plans of the Starfuries for reference for future space station repair vehicles.) B5 was the first show to rely on CGI effects, born out of budget necessity. More than once, watching the show, I found myself pounding the furniture with excitement - and we won't go into (here) what I did during series finale "Sleeping in Light."
Sinclair, Sheridan, Ivanova, Garibaldi, G'Kar, Londo, Lennier, Vir, Na'Toth, Talia, and Lyta came into our home as people with problems. The characters grew and changed and made choices and dealt with the consequences of those choices for good or bad. G'Kar (Andreas Katsulas) put it best: no one on Babylon 5 is exactly what they appear. Keep a score card handy: this week's ally may be next month's enemy. There is no clear deliniation of good guys and bad guys - mostly it's all shades of grey. Acting (with the exception of one season five regular) is superb.
Action, yes. Yet one of the most moving episodes is a one-on-one battle of wits and nerve between two characters in a single room. Wars - some with aliens, some between alien races, and some with just us humans - start & end. There are four ambassadors from alien races on board, with a League of Non-Aligned Worlds to complete the roster. Telepaths of all races (except the Narns) add more colour. Intrigue, smuggling, dealing, double-dealing, romance, all leavened with humourous touches throughout - what more could you ask!
For the first four years, the hardest part of being a B5 fan was FINDING it. (Our local station played ping-pong with its time slot.) To own uncut, widescreen versions on DVD of the whole story arc was a dream we had. Thank heavens, it's one dream which became reality.
If you have seen B5, welcome back. If you haven't, welcome aboard. However, Babylon 5 is a whole complete story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. View it that way. Start with the pilot ("The Gathering," not included in this set but available) and then move to Season One. Enjoy. This is a unique series.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Bruce Boxleitner

DVD title: Swordfish
Productgroup: DVD
Swordfish - movie DVD cover picture
and yet again

Can this man do wrong. John Travolta has shown us all that his acting days are far from over, since his true return in Pulp Fiction and here he is again in another fantastic film. Action great, suspense good and the use of a good old british sports car (TVR) marvellous. I cant wait for the next film.Action, Scenes, Chases, Story this film has it by the bucket. Watch it.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Dominic Sena
John Travolta
Hugh Jackman

DVD title: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Productgroup: DVD
Monty Python and the Holy Grail - movie DVD cover picture
The Funniest Monty Python Ever!

My eldest brother introduced me to the world of Monty Python last year, and of course I found it amazingly, brilliantly funny! He recently bought me the full box set of all Monty Python movies, and in my opinion, "The Holy Grail," is the funniest Monty Python ever...

Everything is well thought out and executed in true Python style. From the coconuts and the swallows to the witch burnings and killer bunny, this movie has it all: absurdity, humour, erm...tragedy? Ok not that really, but anyway. The storyline is simplistic but of course there are massive deviations from the actual story thanks to the British Police and various French K-nighits that constantly impede King Arthur's noble quest to find the Holy Grail. The whole Python group deliver a dynamite performance filled with fall-over-laughing skits and absurd situations, whether it's the difficulty of building a castle in a swamp or using a Trojan Rabbit to infiltrate the French Fortress.

The extras on the DVD include old movie posters and drawings for Nostalgic fans, an extra short on the use of coconuts (which I found incredibly useful for training swallows), Various sing-a-longs icluding a Lego Knight Version of the "Camelot" song and trailers from various films. All in all, this DVD has the most extra material on it for Python fans, so much so that it's on a whole other DVD. That's right, 2 DVDs! What more could you ask for?

If you love political and social satire, any Monty Python will have you laughing your head off. But if you like it in a Medieval setting, then "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," will be your cup of tea delivered by a European Swallow (African Swallows are larger but are non-migratory). Anyway, this movie kicks buttocks! 10/10 for the world's silliest men around!

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Terry Gilliam
Terry Jones
Graham Chapman
John Cleese
Eric Idle
Michael Palin

DVD title: The World of Suzie Wong
Productgroup: DVD
The World of Suzie Wong - movie DVD cover picture
The BEST romance movie of Hong Kong

I think that some of the other reviews for this wonderful movie were the best anyone could hope to find, but I was a bit disappointed to find that nobody mentioned the fine job done by Michael Wilding! Although not one of the main characters, he has a very important role as Ben. When Ben is meant to bring comic relief, Wilding does it very effectively, and he is just as good in the tense moments as well. As for the rest of the movie, it's great. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story, not to mention a good love story.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Richard Quine
William Holden
Nancy Kwan

DVD title: Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Volume Three
Productgroup: DVD
Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Volume Three - movie DVD cover picture
Awsome, best season yet.

The first episode(The Frat Buddies), is hilarious where this drunk alien & his friend come to earth, That is one of thebest on this disk, and also The Cloning where they have to clone thier TV, and Shake keeps shooting it, anf Frylock said if you clone something too many times, you get stuff you dont want, so they clone money & George washington comes out, and they said go back to the white house, The best season yet, + the censors missed a few words, I wish I could get it uncensored, oh well, buy it.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Dave Willis (III)
Carey Means
Dana Snyder (II)

DVD title: Dead Like Me - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Dead Like Me - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
Death's lessons of life

After catching this series a couple of times I was hooked. I love the dark, often side splitting humor, not to mention the unique ways death comes knocking....

Wonderful - had to get the DVD to watch this at my leisure and to share with friends!

Almost forgot to mention, there are "little life lessons" mixed in with each story.... just a bit of something to ponder that adds to and makes this show work so well!

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Ellen Muth

DVD title: Bicentennial Man
Productgroup: DVD
Bicentennial Man - movie DVD cover picture
Deeper than I expected, much better too!

I rented this DVD with the expectation that it would be the "typical" Robin Williams movie. I knew that the movie had been panned by some critics and did poorly at the box office, so I wasn't expecting much. Half way through the movie I actually paused it and turned to my wife and asked her: "were the critics watching the same movie?" This ended up being an incredibly thoughtful film, deep on many levels. In my opinion this was a film that suffered from poor marketing. The TV trailers implied a comedy, when in fact it is a thought provoking film. Transfer is excellent.

Studio: Touchstone Video
Director: Chris Columbus
Robin Williams

DVD title: Conspirators of Pleasure
Productgroup: DVD
Conspirators of Pleasure - movie DVD cover picture
Two reviewers jointly favor Czech animator.

Conspirators was spectacular in weaving its characters and their strangeness together. I couldn't wait to see what happened next. American film keeps us sadly stuck in the 1980s, bullied into accepting only computer animation because it is easy, unsupportably expensive and you can do it with a pull-down menu. Jan Svankmajer's animation is hands-on, time-intensive studio work and palpably realistic. It challenges the limitations of that generation whose imaginations were teethed on music video. Svankmajer is comical, insightful and grotesque as a children's folk tale. He is a singularly visual storyteller. If you want a taste of Svankmajer and aren't ready for an adult theme, start with Alice.

Studio: Kino Video
Director: Jan Svankmajer

DVD title: Blue Tiger
Productgroup: DVD
Blue Tiger - movie DVD cover picture
Violent, haunting, stunning

"Blue Tiger" is a film that you want to hate for its overtly gratuitous violence, but instead you find yourself compelled to watch it again and again, haunted by the tragic story that slowly unfolds before your eyes. The film begins with the death of a child. A young mother Gena Hayes played magnificently by Virginia Masden witnesses the death of her son when he is accidentally shot by a member of the Japanese Yakuza. All she sees of the killer is a tattoo on his chest and back depicting a red tiger. This image haunts Gena and to stop herself descending into madness she decides to find the man who killed her child. In order to find him she must first infiltrate the world of the Yakuza. This she does by becoming a hostess at a club frequented by Yakuza gang members. She learns to speak Japanese, teaches herself how to handle a gun and then sets out on her quest of retribution. At the same time she learns more about the red tiger she saw. Harry Dean Stanton is superb as the dying tattoist Smith who tells her the legend of the red tiger and the blue tiger. These two mythical creatures are destined to meet one day, whether in passion or in violence, but when they do meet a price has to be paid. Gena takes this legend to heart and gets Smith to craft into her flesh the image of the red tiger's nemesis. This is he does, and it is one of the film's pivotal moments as we watch him begin to tattoo her flesh, not swiftly with an electric needle but done over time with crude instruments, as it would have been done hundreds of years ago in Japan. Gena's pain becomes our pain as she suffers the agonizing crafting of the Blue Tiger onto her flesh for like her we know that soon the two tigers will meet and only one will survive. The director uses the image of this tiger and its counterpart as a central theme that runs throughout the story. This is not just a story about revenge; it is also a love story, because Gena inadvertently falls in love with the killer of her son. There are several sub plots to keep track of such as the killer's relationship with his brother, a gang war between Asian and Whites, and a cop who suspects that Gena knows more about her son's killer than she is letting on. The film is amazing because it manages to grab you by the throat from the beginning and keep you riveted to your seat right to the end. This is one of the best films you will ever buy; it will stun your senses and leave you begging for more. Virginia Masden brilliantly portrays the fragile but vengeful Gena Hayes and T?ru Nakamura is totally believable as the damned killed Seiji, a man of violence, yet a man of compassion. "Blue Tiger" is well worth adding to your collection of videos if you want something intelligent but action packed on your shelf; it's just a shame it isn't available on DVD as well.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Norberto Barba
Virginia Madsen

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