Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Outer Limits - The Original Series, Season 1
Productgroup: DVD
The Outer Limits - The Original Series, Season 1 - movie DVD cover picture
32 episodes, 40-odd years, outstanding value

Featuring thirty two episodes, first broadcast in the USA (in black & white) between September, 1963 and May, 1964, this comprises an extraordinary foray into the history of television science fiction ... and perhaps a fair amount of nostalgia for some of us.

This is science fiction with a mystery, horror, or humorous dimension, drama with a touch of irony here, a touch of sarcasm there, a touch of genius in places. It is unfair to be hypercritical given the vintage, but there will inevitably be comparisons drawn between the television drama of the 60's and contemporary Hollywood, special effects blockbusters ... or even the latest 'Doctor Who'.

Well, the monsters do look a bit plastic ... or maybe rubber. At any rate, they have a certain pneumatic charm to them. This is the era of the bug-eyed monster - first contact is going to be with something horrendous. To be fair to 'The Outer Limits', the aliens are treated with respect - they are never cruel, vicious invaders, but creatures with their own logic, values, and morality. If anything, mankind is portrayed as the more likely villain in the first contact scenarios.

The picture and sound quality is generally very good - these are good transfers, with excellent contrast and good definition. Indeed, one or two of the episodes have a distinct noir feel, and there is some highly original and exciting use of the close-up and camera angles. With limited special effects, much of the drama had to be emphasised by camera angles and editing, and the techniques used in the series are worthy of study. The only technical quibble is that the episode selection menu on some of the discs appears a bit quirky at times.

But those of you interested in the drama rather than the technology will want to know what the show is like. Well, a curate's egg, generally highly entertaining, but with some considerable variety. There are one of two stunningly good episodes, one or two hilarious ones, one or two which are somewhat embarrassing. With thirty two episodes, each approx. 45 minutes in length, there is a lot of viewing here - this is a marathon, not a sprint. Set aside a weekend, two barbecues, some beers, and maybe a couple of friends.

There are stand out performances - Barry Morse and Carrol O'Connor are hysterical in "Controlled Experiment"; the intensity of some of the camerawork in "The Architects of Fear" highlights a fine performance from Robert Culp; there are interesting explorations of criminology in "The Zanti Misfits" and "The Mice". With thirty two episodes I just don't have the space to offer a comprehensive review of each.

There are weaknesses. Some of the plots look a bit unsophisticated given contemporary scientific knowledge (and cinema / television experience). There is something of a low budget feel from time to time - not itself a criticism, but some of the 'special effects' are a bit early "Thunderbirds", and the computers and technology look decidedly clunky. And there is one lovely juxtaposition of a (Cotswold) village with thatched roofed cottages ... which is supposed to represent a Northern English mining town, with David McCallum strolling around declaring that "there's trouble at't pit".

The acting is excellent - in general. There are lovely performances from Martin Landau, Donald Pleasance, and McCallum (despite his accent). But the series is perhaps defined by its introduction - 'There is nothing wrong with your television set'. It sets a tone for the productions, one which is continued by an introductory voice over at the start of each story, elaborating a scientific or moral problem to set up the tale ... then adding a conclusion at its finish, hammering home the moral.

The moral is generally one of tolerance and understanding. There is genuine concern for the state of the world and risk of nuclear war. Serious questions are asked about mankind's ability to control greed or pursuit of power. The military do not attract a particularly favourable press. Indeed, there is an excellent episode ranging across questions of censorship and misinformation. Given that America was embroiled in the Cold War at the time, the tenor and themes of these episodes is decidedly liberal and humanitarian.

Extraordinary piece of history, extraordinary drama - can you imagine trying to produce a weekly science fiction programme of this quality today? But, outstanding value. Utterly outstanding. Never mind the width, feel the quality!

Studio: MGM/UA Video

DVD title: The Waterboy
Productgroup: DVD
The Waterboy - movie DVD cover picture
WaterBoy Rules!!!!

WaterBoy is a definite go see movie!! I am sure almost everyone who enjoys Sandler will spilt a gut laughing! Adam Sandler keeps coming up with new and funny ways to use his talents in the movies he stars within. Way to go Sandler !!!

Studio: Touchstone Video
Director: Frank Coraci
Adam Sandler
Kathy Bates
Henry Winkler

DVD title: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask
Productgroup: DVD
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask - movie DVD cover picture
They Don't Make Them Like They Used To

Woody Allen's 1972 collection of short films under one roof covering various taboos related to sex such as infidelity, bestiality, perversity, S&M, etc. Although most of the stories are so so, the best two are with Gene Wilder and Rosy the sheep and the last one covering the complexities of human physiology prior to sex co-starring Tony Randall and Burt Reynolds. This is definitely one of Woody Allen's funniest films filled with all the low-brow humor that made him famous.

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Louise Lasser
Gene Wilder

DVD title: 8 Women
Productgroup: DVD
8 Women - movie DVD cover picture
Scene chewing fun

What a great display of acting and sinister fun. Kind of a Murder On the Orient Express with a slanted French female view--with a musical thrown in for good measure.To see such top drawer French talent letting their hair down and revealing their most embarassing secrets is a delight.The whole atmosphere is catty as everyone suspects one another.Deneuve is the glue as the wicked cast surround each other like hungry wolves.Isabelle Huppert, the nerdy uptight aunt is a marvel--watch out for one of the best transformations you'll ever see.Each cast member is a gem and the whole sordid affair leads to a very surprising who dunnit ending--don't want to give anything away.This is one campy half sick joke of a movie that grows deeper and richer as one reflects on it.One of the ten best films from 2002. Too many critics missed the boat on this one.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Fran├žois Ozon
Danielle Darrieux
Catherine Deneuve
Isabelle Huppert
Emmanuelle Béart
Fanny Ardant

DVD title: The Hunt for Red October
Productgroup: DVD
The Hunt for Red October - movie DVD cover picture
Russians don't take a dump son without a plan.

Sean Connery is great as the captain of a new Russian submarine capable of manuvering without making noise. The part of Jack ryan is played quite well by Alec Baldwin. He shouldn't have committed career suicide by turning down the sequel. Although it did open the door for Harrison Ford to truly establish the character. It's too bad Affleck is ruining it.Anyway back to the film. Great casting for all of the smaller parts as well. Great Special effects. Great storyline.Bottem line - If you like movies with a good story involving anything military, then this film is for you.

Studio: Paramount Studio
Director: John McTiernan
Sean Connery
Alec Baldwin

DVD title: Young Sherlock Holmes
Productgroup: DVD
Young Sherlock Holmes - movie DVD cover picture
Too good not to be on DVD

Young Sherlock Holmes is the perfect film for young teenage audiences and old Holmes fans. With its clever plotting, tragic climax, and double ending (one before and one after the credits), this film deserves to be on DVD. Can we start a campaign to get a special edition release?

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Barry Levinson
Nicholas Rowe

DVD title: Scarface
Productgroup: DVD
Scarface - movie DVD cover picture
Gangster Masterpiece Despite Pacino


Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Brian De Palma
Al Pacino
Michelle Pfeiffer

DVD title: La Strada - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
La Strada - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
La Strada & Nights Of Cabiria, 2 personal favorites on DVD.

I have long anticipated the Criterion Collection DVD release of La Strada, and now its available on an excellent two disk set, and it doesn't disappoint. This film was Fellini's first successs, and won best foreign film Acadamy Award. Picture Quality on this DVD is breathtaking; virtually no grain, dust, or scratches. Audio is clear in both original Italian or English, and it also features informative commentary. Other great features include the English trailer and a documentary on the life Of director Fellini. Another fine entry in the Criterion Collection that will remain in my permanent personal collection. La Strada is the heartbreaking story of Gelsomina (played with great subtlety and tenderness by Giulietta Masina) who is sold to the mean and unloving performer Zampano (a fine preformance by Anthony Quinn). Then the story follows the two performing artists through their many adventures and misadventures, and that is what becomes the brillance of La Strada. A classic neorealest tale of compassion and of how everything and everyone has its purpose in life. A great film from one of the greatest, eccentric, and most versitle directors of all time, Federico Fellini, before his work became extremely outrageous and surreal (like Roma and Satyricon). La Strada is not one of those indulgent films, which, in their own way are brilliant, but don't think that La Strada is one of those, and don't let Fellini's later work deter you from seeing his better earlier masterpieces. Finally I would like to highly reccomend Fellini's Nights Of Cabiria, also staring Masina and available on a great Criterion DVD. Cabiria is one of my top 20 favorites and should be seen with La Strada not for their similarities, but for the fact that they complement each other extremely well. Masina will make you laugh at her silly dancing and emotional outbursts and make you cry (as I always do) at her misfortune. She is a survivor who believes in love and life even after her greatest let downs. A character unlike the unconfidant but lovable Gelsomina in La Strada. Both films are true classics that must be seen by any film lover.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Federico Fellini
Anthony Quinn
Giulietta Masina
Richard Basehart

DVD title: The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
********** Finally! Perfect Visual Adaptation of The Trilogy

As a long-time Tolkien Fan and a person who has read The Trilogy three times, I must say I was absolutely astounded and captivated by the new Tolkien movie, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."
I am very proud of the Producers, Directors, Actors, et al ! It seemed as-if everyone had read the trilogy and understood their parts, not just memorized lines form a script. The scenes were amazing! Hobbiton has been brought to life in a way I really did not believe could be accomplished on film. The Shire lives and breathes and will inspire thousands of people to read Tolkien's works.
This film series brings the world of Tolkien to the big screen and into people's homes like never before. This is wonderful! I had to sneak the books home and hide them under the bed & pretend to be reading something-else, so my Mom wouldn't catch me. Now, teenagers can just sneak out for a night of Magick and Adventure.
I was a bit disappointed with the portrayal of the male elves--they seemed to be a bit too "human" and less ethereal (and wise) than they are portrayed in the books. However, over-all, I believe this movie portrays the characters in the Trilogy better than most people can imagine.
Luckily, the film is more fast-paced than the Trilogy, and most of the important scenes are retained. However, I still believe reading the Trilogy is crucial to understanding the film (and who wants to wait an entire year for the next chapter, so to speak?). This film will bring a whole new generation to the world of Tolkien (and, Hopefully, a new generation of Book-Lovers).
I am so impressed with this film, that I have nothing negative to say, whatsoever.....and this coming from someone who's Wife quoted Tolkien on our Wedding Invitations !

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Peter Jackson
Ian McKellen

DVD title: The Living Dead Girl
Productgroup: DVD
The Living Dead Girl - movie DVD cover picture

A wonderful introduction to the films of Jean Rollin, The Living Dead Girl manages to be gory, sweet and sad all at once. Despite its low budget the film has an elegant gloss and the two leads are wonderful, their death pact revealed through flashbacks as the story progresses. Highly recommended. Marina Pierro, where are you?

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Jean Rollin
Jean Rollin

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