Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Ray (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Ray (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

the movie Ray was very enjoyable, great performance by Jamie Fox indeed, but what in the BLUE HELL were they thinking when putting together this DVD? one of the poorest efforts i have ever seen. the "extended version" of the film is an insult to film lovers everywhere. did someone's 3rd grade class do this as a project? it is just horribly done, completely wrecks the flow of the film, it just has such LITTLE effort.

the filmakers, director, editor, and production team should be ashamed for so quickly throwing out a lazy, uninspired DVD like this. i hope that they fix this train wreck someday.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Taylor Hackford
Jamie Foxx
Kerry Washington
Regina King

DVD title: Die Another Day (Widescreen Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Die Another Day (Widescreen Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Brosnan's Best Bond Yet!

40 years going, and still strong. You can't say that about any other film character or franchise. Going to a James Bond movie is like going to a McDonald's. You always pretty much know what you are going to get and you wouldn't want it any other way. If you are a Bond fan, that's how you'd want it. However, there are things in this entry that are new and different. We'll get into that a bit later. I also have to point out that I am going to scream and pull my hair out if I have to read another review saying how old Pierce Brosnan looks. If you have eyes and a brain stem, you will see that this is far from the truth. He doesn't look any different than usual. People, if you have to ridicule, then do something that actually has truth to it will ya?. If you complain about oldness, then you must be pretty young. Here's the story - The film opens with Bond in North Korea being caught, after a fun, slam bang chase scene, and held prisoner by Colonel Moon. 14 months later, Bond is traded back to his people in trade for Zao(Rick Yune). But all is not well. Bond, with long, dirty hair and full beard, is told by M that he is now useless. He doesn't serve a purpose. Someone where Bond was ratted on an American. Bond goes against orders and sets out to find out who betrayed him. Along the way, he meets up with a sexy woman named Jinx(Hallee Berry),who is a bit mysterious in her own right, and tries to stop a maniac named Gustav Graves(Toby Stephens, Maggie Smith's son)from destroying the world(again?!)with the help of a sattelite. This Gustav Graves may not be who you think he is. This is what makes the character. It's an interesting premise, but the villain is rather weak. It would of paid off even better if the villain was a bit more interesting and villainous. Stephens does do an admirable job as Gustav. You really want him to get his in the end. If you really want the bad guy to get his comeuppance, then you know the actor must of done a pretty good job in playing it so you'd want that. Pierce Brosnan is Bond. He and the character fit like a glove. They were made for each other. He was the only possible choice. He really comes into his own here. He's always been good, but in this film he seems to BE Bond. It's his most interesting performance of the character so far in his 4 films as 007. One hopes for 4 more. Connery is the best, but Brosnan comes real close. Bond women have evolved over the years. They are smarter. They are stronger. They are more evolved and interesting. Hallee Berry as Jinx proves that. She is sexy as all get out, but tough and smart. She makes the character come alive and have her own agenda. She's the first Bond woman to come along to be Bond's equal. It's no surprise there are plans for her own spin off film. That's never happened before. Some other reviewers simply didn't get it. The action here is big and teriffic. Some things may be overdone, but that's the way we like it. It has some breathtakingly choreographed action scenes that take you in and never let go. Some of the best of the recent Bond films. However, there is one moment that is really bad. The scene with Bond going over the edge of the glacier. That scene with his race car banging on the side was very hokey looking. Other than that, it was all good. The main theme by Madonna is a bit of a let down. It doesn't sound like a Bond song. The theme songs always sound bigger than life and campy and have a spy like sound to them. This one is too techno/dance/modern. It is certainly alright and catchy as a Madonna song, but fails as a theme to a 007 movie. Madonna has a decent little cameo in the film as well. John Cleese steps into the role of Q, and it is a bit of inspired casting. Brilliant!. He's perfect. His scene is one of the best in the film. Character actor Michael Madsen also appears in the film, but he is mysteriously left out of the credits. The action is outstanding, the sets are teriffic, and Bond is as good as ever. Who could want anything more?. Since it is the 20th film and the 40th anniversary, there are some homages to past Bond films. I caught them. Can you?. Bond also gets a jazzier aston martin that can turn invisible. It's about time!. There are scenes with a ' Matrix ' style flare to them and it is welcome in the Bond series. The humor and one liners fly all around. Some are funny, but some are also groan inducing. "Die Another Day" is a flashy, slam bang action film that delivers fun and adventure and delivers it. It could quite possibly be the best Bond film in a long time. Brosnan's best outing yet. We need it. If you read other reviews, you will see that it was lost on a lot. It's still James Bond, and nobody does it better. Nobody will even come close. Not even over the top, lame, plotless excursions into mediocrity like "XXX". That line ' James Bond Will Return ' that appears at the end of every Bond film is always welcomed. Never more so than at the end of this one. Bond will return?. We can only hope so.

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: Lee Tamahori
Pierce Brosnan
Halle Berry
Rosamund Pike

DVD title: Casablanca
Productgroup: DVD
Casablanca - movie DVD cover picture
A Timeless Classic

I've got this on DVD and every once in a while I pop it in to spend an evening remembering why it is so incredibly special. The characters in it are as fresh now as when I first saw it, and their struggles are just as meaningful. You watch Rick go from a wry lover to a jaded man who tries to pretend nothing matters any more. Ilsa is torn between loyalty to the man who taught her to be a woman and her passionate love for Rick, who makes her feel like one. Every character has strong motivations, and is acted superbly.
The black and white might be a drawback in other movies, but here the use of shadows is amazing. The textures and depths come alive under the masterful hands of the cinematographer.
The DVD has a 'making of' which goes into a lot of the background and techniques, and also explains why the dialogue is so amazing. At least three sets of people worked on it, each adding in their own talents to make the romance real, the conversations an intellectual chess game, and the tensions high. They wrote it as they went, altering the dialogue to match the characters, so they were almost developed 'live' as the movie progressed.
In the end, I think what appeals to me the most is that Rick made a tough decision to do what he thought was 'right' instead of what would be best for him personally. He had to send his love off with another man, knowing that it was the best thing he could do. Ilsa had to choose between two men that she loved for very different reasons. It's an amazing film about responsibility and maturity in difficult conditions, and one I will gladly watch over and over again.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Michael Curtiz
Humphrey Bogart
Ingrid Bergman

DVD title: The Birds (Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Birds (Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Beware THE BIRDS!!!

The Birds is one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films. Perhaps that has a lot to do with the beautiful Tippi Hedren, who shines in everything she does. The gorgeous scenery, adorable costumes, and lavish colors also add to the surreal atmosphere, which quickly gets disrupted by a flock of killer birds. Like many firsts Hitchcock introduced with his films, this is the first "nature run amock" film, just like Psycho was the first "slasher" film. This Psycho follow-up was yet another ground-breaking addition to the horror genre and further revealed the master director's darker obsessions. Like Hitchcock's fabulous Rebecca and mediocre Jamaica Inn, this is based on a story by the extremely talented Daphne Du Maurier, but Hitchcock was left with the task of fleshing out the short story into a feature film. He did one hell of a job. Hitchcock and screenwriter Evan Hunter borrowed only the title and basic conceit of Daphne du Maurier's 1952 short story, "The Birds." Du Maurier's tale, conventional and utterly humorless, is a Cold War parable that uses the unexplained bird attacks as an apocalyptic metaphor for nature thrown out of balance by technology and warfare. It's told from the perspective of Nat Hocken, a disabled war veteran and farmhand living in a cottage with his family in the British Isles.
The film version is set in Bodega Bay and follows bored, spoiled socialite Melanie Daniels (Hedren) as she romantically pursues dashing lawyer Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor). Tension soon develops among Melanie, schoolteacher Annie Hayworth, Mitch's former flame (Suzanne Pleshette), and Mitch's domineering mother (Jessica Tandy). The emotional interplay is interrupted (and reflected) by the sudden and unexplained attack of thousands of birds on the area. Hailed as one of Hitchcock's masterpieces by some and despised by others, THE BIRDS is certainly among the director's more complex and fascinating works. Volumes have been written about the film, with each writer picking it apart scene by scene in order to prove his or her particular critical theory--mostly of the psychoanalytic variety. Be that as it may, even those who grow impatient with the slow build-up or occasional dramatic lapses cannot deny the terrifying power of many of the film's haunting images: the bird point-of-view shot of Bodega Bay, the birds slowly gathering on the playground monkey bars, the attack on the children's birthday party, Melanie trapped in the attic, and the final ambiguous shot of the defeated humans leaving Bodega Bay while the thousands of triumphant birds gathered on the ground watch them go. Eerie, scary, and suspenseful, this is a great film and classic Hitchcock, which highlights his genius. There is no sound track to cue the audience in as to when to be scared. And what other filmmaker could take the simple sound of wings fluttering in a house and turn it into the sheer sound of terror?

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Rod Taylor
Tippi Hedren

DVD title: Margaret Cho - I'm the One That I Want
Productgroup: DVD
Margaret Cho - I'm the One That I Want - movie DVD cover picture
Margaret, I am your new biggest fan!

If you want to laugh out loud and non-stop for 90 minutes, don't miss Margaret Cho's brilliant "I'M THE ONE THAT I WANT." Irreverent, crude, cleansing, shocking, inspiring, sad, outrageous, and life-affirming, Cho's sold out, smash, one woman show ranks with the best of the best (yes, I'm talkin' as great as Richard Pryor or Lenny Bruce at their peak). I fell out of my chair, so strap yourself in or sit on the floor. Brutally honest and hysterically funny.

Studio: Fox Lorber
Director: Lionel Coleman

DVD title: Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Diff'rent Strokes -  The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
Great show!

This is a great show.I watched this show to death in reruns.I also got the Columbia House collector tapes.I also have some episodes on DVD RAM that I recorded off of Nick.The problem with Nick and TV Land is all the reruns are edited.One scene that is cut from the pilot is Miss Garet telling Mr.Drummond to have a garage sale,Mr.Drummond replied "What's a garage sale?" That scene was not on the Nick version.At long last a full season of Diffrent Strokes is coming to DVD uncut.Way to go Sony Pictures!
Update-Sorry The Garrage sale comment Miss Garet made to Mr.Drummond was in the second episode "The Social Worker" Not the pilot.My mistake!

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Gary Coleman

DVD title: Robocop - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Robocop - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Part Man, Part Machine--All Cop

So read the tagline for the movie. Actually, from the number of body parts that were replaced, he was almost all machine--but who's quibbling.

Cyborg storylines are common, but no one has done it better than Paul Verhoven did when he made this satirical look at virtually every facet of a possible future. It is unfortunate that studio execs, in their neverending pursuit of the almighty dollar, chose to make a number of progressively disappointing big-screen sequels as well as a couple of abysmal television series based upon the character.

Peter Weller, then a newcomer to the acting scene, is cast as Alex Murphy--a Detroit Metro police officer, family man, and all-around good guy. In attempting to apprehend the city's most wanted man, Clarence Boddicker, played with chilling effectiveness by Kurtwood Smith (Red Foreman of "That 70s Show"), Murphy is "killed" by Boddicker and his gang of psychopathic thugs--only to be reincarnated as the movie's title character. Although Murphy technically died, a few residual memories coupled with a few chance circumstances, set the Robocop on a collision course with gang responsible for the demise of his human side.

The movie is broad in both its dark humor and its violence, with the latter being over-the-top at times. Interspersed throughout the movie are "commercials" that further indoctrinate viewers to the sarcasm of the age being presented. Although presented almost as a spoof of cop movies, the film keeps the viewer's interest by focusing on Murphy's attempt to hang on to the tatters of his remaining humanity, smart dialogue, fabulous action scenes, and a satisfying ending.

The supporting cast is impeccable and includes Dan O'Herlihy as the grandfatherly Chairman of OCP (the corporate "inventor" of Robocop) with a vicious streak in him; Ronnie Cox as Dick Jones, the Senior Vice President of OCP and an even more vicious SOB; Miguel Ferrer (now of "Crossing Jordan") as Bob Morton, an ambitious junior exec who makes the fatal mistake of crossing swords with Jones; and, finally, B-movie scream queen Nancy Allen, as Ann Lewis, Murphy's ever-devoted partner who inadvertently sets the Robocop on his current path.

Of course, you also have ED-209, a security droid whose cute exterior belies a murderous nature directed at anyone that stands in its way.

Great lines:

"Your move, creep." --Robocop (pointing his gun at a thug, after castrating the thug's partner with a precisedly aimed shot)
"Dead or alive, you are coming with me." --Robocop
"Come quietly or there will be...trouble." --Robocop
"I'd buy that for a dollar." --TV Game Show Host
"You call this a glitch?!" --O'Herlihy (to Jones, after ED-209 obliterates a company exec during a droid test)
"Give the man a hand!" --Boddicker (to Murphy, after he blows off the latter's hand with a shotgun blast)

By the way, despite the comedic nature in which some of violence is presented, this film is most certainly NOT suitable for viewing by children under the age of 15.

Classy in its own way...and classic sci-fi.

Studio: Home Vision Entertainment
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Peter Weller
Nancy Allen

DVD title: Dolly Parton - Live and Well
Productgroup: DVD
Dolly Parton - Live and Well - movie DVD cover picture

I just have to! I knew this was gonna be good, but I didn't know it was gonna be THIS good. I've never seen Dolly live & have only ever seen her do 1-2 songs at a time on talk or awards shows. I've liked her most recent bluegrass stuff, but this DVD showcases what makes her a one of a kind talent. She's truly one of the most gifted songwriters in any field of music. Her songs are equally poignant, funny, and honest in a way hardly any music is anymore. Plus she can take the oddest cover & make it her own. On top of that she performs everything with the gusto of somebody who's enjoying every minute of it. Even her semi-embarassing mid-80's pop crossover material is redeemed here with beautiful acapella versions.

I'm not particularly a fan of country music, but good music is good music no matter what form it takes. And this is good. Very good.

Studio: Welk Music Group
Dolly Parton

DVD title: House of Sand and Fog
Productgroup: DVD
House of Sand and Fog - movie DVD cover picture
House of Sand and Fog; The Anti Hollywood Movie

There are movies that stick with you, and don't leave. This was one of them. The movie is dark, forboding, Shakesperian, no less of a tragedy than King Lear. None of the major characters are evil. In fact, in their own way, each is capable of vast degrees of compassion. But, in the end, the compassion doesn't save their souls. The last few scenes of the movie are devistating.
This is an honest movie. It doesn't make any attempt to force an ending.
I watched the faces of the people as they left the theater. There was complete quiet. It was as if they had just left from a funeral of a loved one. The reason. . .they all had the opportunity to feel sympathetic towards each of the characters in the movie. They all saw the characters as real people, doing their best to survive in a hostile and indifferent universe.
This is not a movie I would recommend for anyone who wants to escape from reality. It is the most anti-Hollywood movie I have seen in a long time. If one goes to see it, it should be because he/she wants to apprecate a work of art.
One last note. It was great to see a movie which portrays Arab Americans in a positive way; not as towel headed terrorists intent on bringing down some city's infrastructure. Kingley's general is a loving, caring father who builds his whole life around his wife and son. He is willing to sacrafice his own life so his child will be able to one day go off to college and experience the American dream that is beyond his own grasp. The general's wife is also a very powerful character. She is a loving wife and mother. In every scene, her wisdom and compassion comes across. As for their son, he is the product of a family where he knows he is loved.
The character of the young woman who gets kicked out of her home is played by Jennifer Connelly. Her performance is powerful, and evokes sympathy for all those find themselves out on the streets through no fault of their own.
One very uncomfortable question which the movie poses is "Where is God?" In one scene, the general crys out. There is no answer. I left the movie wondering to myself, "How many people are there who cry out for God, but who never get an answer?"
In the end, the movie does make a very difinitive statement. All four of the main characters are good people. All of them have big hearts. All of the characters are introspective in one way or another. But as in Elle Wisel's great book "The Night Trilogy" when certain people cry out to God for answers, God returns with silence.
It was that silence I heard within myself as I left the theater.

Studio: Umvd/Dreamworks
Director: Vadim Perelman
Jennifer Connelly
Ben Kingsley
Ron Eldard

DVD title: Labyrinth
Productgroup: DVD
Labyrinth - movie DVD cover picture
I Remember

This film was something. Beats the pants off Harry potter etc... or am I just showing my age?. I will buy this for my children. It still holds all it's charms so many years on.
I adored it and watched it many times over. It is great to see that so many others appreciated it as much as me.

I was talking today with an Australian girl at work about this movie, she leaped about and started dancing and singing the tunes from it.
Do i need to say anymore?

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Jim Henson
David Bowie
Jennifer Connelly

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