Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Wagner - The Complete Epic
Productgroup: DVD
Wagner - The Complete Epic - movie DVD cover picture
5 stars for Wagnerians, 3 or 4 for the public

I cannot specifically comment on the entire 9 hour unedited version, but I did watch the abridged 5 hour version. To be candid you have to be a great lover of epic books or movies to enjoy this. Perhaps it is too long in relation to the dramatic content, even the abridged version; but then again, Wagner's operas generally have the same problem. Nonetheless it is worth the effort. For the record, in spite of the movie not having a rating, there is some profanity, much of it uttered by Burton. The production has many spectacular and controversial moments, such as the burning of the Dresden Opera House during the 1848 Revolution, during which Wagner is laughing heartily. Somewhere he mentions to Bakunin that such a calamity was the best thing that could have happened to the place. The rehearsals for the inaugural 1876 Bayreuth Ring were also skilfully handled. Much of the film was shot in Hungary, and Sir Georg Solti conducts, throughout the film, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra (as I recall). Those who enjoy the forceful, dramatic style of his Wagner will love this soundtrack. I thought Richard Burton played the title role reasonably well, even if the make-up artists did not successfully capture the unsightly skin texture - caused in part by erysipelas. Burton allegedly read almost every Wagner book in print, which would be no small feat, prior to assuming the role. Vanessa Redgrave as Cosima does very well, and looks even closer to her original. The huge cast is filled with very prominent actors, notably among them Sirs John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, who act as disgruntled members of King Ludwig's government. These actors speak in their normal English accents, which I found a little humorous in the context of their Bavarian roles (granted, the movie was somewhat wanting in humor too). Laszlo Galffi as Ludwig was credible enough, and his ostentatious building projects were interesting to see on film. The singing where employed was effective (including Peter Hoffmann, as I recall). The costumes, designed by Shirley Russell, were outstanding. The resolution quality of the original film, dating from 1983, was good but unexceptional. I cannot comment whether or not Wagner's true personage was presented fairly, but he was presented as a self-absorbed, money-grubbing, two-faced, opportunistic, polygamous, over-opinionated, xenophobic, racist musical genius. At the very least, it makes for an entertaining movie. If you don't mind the length, this can be recommended.

Studio: Kultur
Richard Burton

DVD title: Mr. Show - The Complete Third Season
Productgroup: DVD
Mr. Show - The Complete Third Season - movie DVD cover picture

Finally, the 3rd season of the most intelligent, albeit underrated comedy ever available. I've been eagerly waiting since the release of the 1st & 2nd seasons for this one, which is one of the funniest. Now, the wait is almost up.

Studio: HBO
David Cross (II)
Bob Odenkirk

DVD title: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Productgroup: DVD
Monty Python and the Holy Grail - movie DVD cover picture
I wish I could give it more stars

This movie probably is the funniest movie ever made. I'm completely serious. No movie is quoted nearly as often -- for crying out loud, it came out 25 years ago and people still recognize lines from it. You will start laughing in the first minute or two, and will not stop laughing, or even slow down, for the entire duration of the film. I have often wondered how these Monty Python guys ever came up with so much random hilariousness.
A couple things I just want to mention -- my theory is that the Monty Python guys set out to satirize not only the medieval world, but the nature of power, and it's relation to myth. I took an amazing course once on this topic with Prof. Laurence DeLooze, and he pointed out a lot of intriguing things. This movie can actually really get you thinking about what rationalizations underlie any powerful institutions, kingship or otherwise. Or even what rationalizations we employ every day to justify our own behavior, Sir Lancelot's shenanigans at the wedding party being the case in point. What if you didn't respond to some of the situations they portray with laughter, but with outrage? Perhaps that is a better response. Especially having read Eric Idle's remarkably sophisticated ideas about the nature of humor in a book he recently came out with, I'm inclined to suspect that these dudes had a few (good) ideas in mind, behind the laughter they've provoked for a quarter of a century. Just a thought.

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

DVD title: Farscape - The Complete Season One
Productgroup: DVD
Farscape - The Complete Season One - movie DVD cover picture
A Better Leader, A Better Man

I have a good friend who is a kind of sci-fi guru; she has thousands (literally) of sci-fi novels and movies and every time she gives me something to read or watch I can bet that it's going to blow my mind. A year ago I went over to her house; she was sitting on her couch watching a show. "Hey Dee, whatcha watching?" I asked. No answer. "Dee?" "Ssshh!!", she said irritably, "Farscape. Go away." I thought anything that got Dee that excited was worth checking out, and that is how I fell madly, hopelessly, totally in love with "Farscape", the most incredibly creative, heartfelt, inspired television show I have ever seen.
Ben Browder stars as Commander John Crichton, a peaceful, laid-back astronaut who is accidentally flung through a wormhole and straight into some forsaken part of the universe. Over the course of the first few episodes, John teams up with an assortment of bizarre alien life-forms, including a race that look very similar to humans (but are considerably, uh, tougher). The first season chronicles John's wild adventures with his new crew on the starship Moya, as through many intense trials they first fuse into a team, and then gradually become a family.
The cast is uniformly excellent, with standouts being Gigi Edgley as the mischievous Chiana and Claudia Black as the fearsome ex-mercenary Aeryn Sun. Black is especially good in her scenes with Ben Browder, they have spectacular chemistry and watching their evolving relationship is a absolute joy. Browder, in fact, manages to create the most interesting male character to appear on TV in many a moon; his Crichton is innately honorable and decent, and despite being completely clueless in his new surroundings time and again demonstrates an amazing talent for thinking outside of the box.
Great dialogue, cool sets, bright costumes and moving character development round out the first chapter in the Crichton saga. If you have never seen "Farscape", go ahead and buy the Box Set and watch the first season unfold like a rich, satisfying novel. Commander Crichton's tale is a thrilling ride, and you won't be sorry.GRADE: A+

Studio: A.D. Vision
Ben Browder

DVD title: Pokemon - I Choose You! Pikachu! (Vol. 1)
Productgroup: DVD
Pokemon - I Choose You! Pikachu! (Vol. 1) - movie DVD cover picture
the best anime i have seen

pokemon is a truly awesome show i have never seen ne thing bette

Studio: Pioneer Video

DVD title: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Vol. 1: (A Scandal in Bohemia/ The Dancing Men/ The Naval Treaty/ The Solitary Cyclist)
Productgroup: DVD
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Vol. 1: (A Scandal in Bohemia/ The Dancing Men/ The Naval Treaty/ The Solitary Cyclist) - movie DVD cover picture
Leaves you wanting more!

What a wonderful adaptation of Sherlock! I have been a Holmes fan for years, from the first paperback I bought in high school to the annoted hardbacks detailing the great detectives works I now have in my library. This series is brilliant! The quality of acting, direction and dialogue is superb!
Jeremy Brett will make you believe he actually is Sherlock! David Burke is the perfect Watson. The scenery and the settings are beautifully conceived! The attention to detail is so amazing, I believe Holmes himself would have approved.
Each story is a carefully woven tapestry of drama and intrigue. The relationship between Holmes and Watson so vivid and endearing, with the subtle touch of humor good friends often share.
The only downside is I find myself impatiently waiting for the next release from the same series.

Studio: Mpi Home Video

DVD title: The Singing Detective
Productgroup: DVD
The Singing Detective - movie DVD cover picture
Another Masterpiece

A wonderful experience. A joy for the eyes, the ears and the mind. A tour of a world full of harsh reality, sweet dreams, sites and sounds. Imagined and real. How powerful can a writer be to create a whole world out of blank sheet of paper and strange dark marks. Jon Amiel and his crew helped to translate the words and the sounds into an amazing symphony. If you admire "The Singing Detective" you must look for Edgar Reitz "Heimat" and "The Second Heimat" for another (bigger) dose of magic. Once you have seen them both you will understand what movies can aspire to (and achieve). Now all I need is to find them all on DVD!

Studio: Warner Home Video
Michael Gambon

DVD title: Carnival of Souls - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Carnival of Souls - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
The Only Movie That Has Given Me Nightmares

This is an eerie, atmospheric b&w film that is not nightmarish, but more like a disturbing dream. A carload of girls goes off a bridge and only one crawls out of the water. After that she fades in and out of people's perception and keeps encountering others who seem to be not quite alive. There could not have been a better place to film it than that deserted amusment park. A cult classic, best watched late at night with the lights off--and probably not by yourself.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Herk Harvey
Candace Hilligoss

DVD title: Swingers
Productgroup: DVD
Swingers - movie DVD cover picture
Batting the Bunny

Probably my favorite movie of all time. It did an awesome job of letting social people in my generation (20 something's) like myself relate to the characters. It was also a great story of the true endearing friendship of the main characters, Trent and Mike. An absolute must see and great addition to any DVD or tape collection!

Studio: Miramax
Director: Doug Liman
Vince Vaughn
Heather Graham

DVD title: James Taylor Live at the Beacon Theatre
Productgroup: DVD
James Taylor Live at the Beacon Theatre - movie DVD cover picture
Pull Over has Nothing on the Beacon Theatre

In my opinion, James Taylor's Beacon Theatre is one of the best performences I've ever seen. It is practically flawless. Each tune is tight, thoughtful, artistic, sensitive, and frankly, some of the best I've ever seen out of Taylor. One song, in particular, brought a tightness to my throat and tears nearly running down my cheeks. (And I've heard it many times before). It is the vocal, guitar, cello rendition of Fire and Rain which earned its way into my heart as my favorite overall song on the DVD. Exquisite comes to mind. Please do your self a favor and purchase this for your home collection. If you're a Taylor fan, like me, you'll be glad you did.

Studio: Sony/Columbia
Director: Beth McCarthy-Miller
James Taylor

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