Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Home Alone
Productgroup: DVD
Home Alone - movie DVD cover picture
A Real Favorite

HOME ALONE was very successful when it was in theaters and its popularity has proven to be enduring. Small wonder. This is a very funny and entertaining movie. Kevin, the youngest member of his family, goes to bed wishing his family would disappear. The following morning finds his family leaving late and in a rush to get to the airport to catch their flight to Paris. In the hubbub, Kevin gets left home alone. He awakens to find that his wish seems to have been granted. His elation to find himself the "man of the house" is only one of many great scenes in this movie. Culkin shines as Kevin. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are also very funny as a pair of burglars.

The editorial reviewer here comments that the "violence" in the later stages of HOME ALONE is "over the top". Over the top of what? There are no knives or machine guns in evidence here. Some broken christmas tree ornaments, a red hot doorknob, a couple of paint cans, some icy stairs, a b-b gun ... this is the kind of violence we're talking about here. Realistically, yeah, these burglars are ridiculously inept and somebody could get seriously hurt on slippery concrete steps, but as theatrical violence goes this is pretty harmless stuff. Pretty funny stuff, too.

This is a classically funny movie and one the whole family can enjoy. If you haven't seen it, give yourself a treat. If you're like me, you'll want your own copy so you can watch it whenever the mood hits. With Christmas a central part of the plot, HOME ALONE works especially well during the holiday season. Strongly recommended.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Chris Columbus
Macaulay Culkin
Joe Pesci
Daniel Stern

DVD title: GoodFellas
Productgroup: DVD
GoodFellas - movie DVD cover picture

Not much can be said of Goodfellas that hasn't already been said by the majority of the reviewers here. Goodfellas is an absolute classic-to-be!! Robert De Niro's acting and character are perfection as in any movie he's in. The only complaint that I have with the DVD version is that it has to be flipped over half way through the movie. Aside from this small setback- Goodfellas is a great movie that you will want to see over and over again.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Martin Scorsese
Robert De Niro
Ray Liotta
Joe Pesci
Lorraine Bracco
Paul Sorvino

DVD title: Rain Man
Productgroup: DVD
Rain Man - movie DVD cover picture
Levinson's RAY of Sunshine....

This review refers to the MGM DVD edition of "Rain Man"......
"Rain Man" is one of those rare gems to come out of Hollywood, that leaves you wanting to watch it over and over again. After numerous rewrites, and several directoral changes, "Rain Man" finally fell into the very capable hands of director Barry Levinson(The Natural/Good Morning Viet Nam).Levinson brings us more than just a story of two brothers, it is a journey of love and discovery.
The Babbitt brothers Raymond and Charlie have just discovered the other exisits. Raymond(Dustin Hoffman), the older, is an autistic savant who has been living most of his adult life at "Wallbrook". A facility which although has given him great care, is all that Raymond knows of the world.Raymond lives in his own world there, and although he has amazing mathamatical skills,has little capacity for understanding the ways of the world. Charlie(Tom Cruise), on the other hand, is a sharp but intolerant businessman. He also has trouble seeing beyond his world, and uses people to his own advantages.He seems to be without a heart.
When their father died, he left almost all of his vast fortune to Raymond, and a mere token to the estranged Charlie. Charlie has always felt cheated by his father and once again he feels the sting.He decides to take matters into his own hands, and kidnaps Raymond from Wallbrook in an attempt to retrieve his share of the inheritance.
Charlie takes Raymond on a cross country journey that will tug at your heartstrings and keep you smiling every inch of the way.Charlie must care for Ray and deal with all of his symptoms and eccentricites, as Ray is thrown into a world unknown to him.The moments of change are defining and a joy to watch as Charlie develops a heart.
Hoffman's portrayal of the autistic Raymond is moving and is done with a wonderful humor, that brings a great depth of understanding to the character.He not only won the Best Actor award from Oscar, but also recieved a Golden Globe as well. Cruise, although a big box office draw at the time, really shows that he is more than a pretty face with his superb performance as Charlie. Levinson, who brought us a ray of sunshine with this film, recieved Best director from Oscar as well as the Director's Guild.The score by Hans Zimmer as always is delicious. The film itself was also honored by Oscar as Best Picture(1988).
The DVD qualities are very good. It may be viewed in either The Theatrical widescreen version or a standard version(the choice option comes up at the start of the film). The picture is excellent, with nice colors and sharp images. The sound is in Dolby Dig 5.1 surround, which is especially nice with the terrific score and songs playing in the background. It may also be viewed in French(stereo) or Spanish(Mono). Don't look for too much in the way of extras on the DVD itself, there's just a theatrical trailer, but it does come with a very informative booklet, that talks about everything from the film to some info on exactly what "Autistic Savant Syndrome" is. For me, this film is the "special" feature by itself!
This is "definately, yeah definately"(Hoffman) a great addition to any DVD library.......Laurie

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Barry Levinson
Dustin Hoffman
Tom Cruise

DVD title: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Productgroup: DVD
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - movie DVD cover picture
A movie for the ages

The movie's title is an old Chinese saying which refers to mysterious and dangerous people ("dragons and tigers") who are lurking around every corner. It is also a pun, for two characters in the movie, referred to as "Jen" and "Lo" in the subtitles, happen to be named "Lovely Dragon" and "Little Tiger". The irony is that "Lovely Dragon" detests being hidden and "Little Tiger" is tired of crouching and waiting; their youthful rebellion is a perfect contrast against the repressed feelings and demeanors of an older couple played by Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh. There is also a contrast of people who pursue material gains (one character steals a woman's comb, another steals a sword) against others who strive to achieve a higher level of understanding and enlightenment. These potent themes are what elevate this glorious martial-arts film from other films in this genre. The imaginative fight sequences are fantastic and exhilarating, but they do not dominate the movie as they often do in movies of this genre. Kudos to director Ang Lee and co-writer James Schamus. (The two had never made a martial-arts movie before, and in fact had made 2 box-office bombs prior to CROUCHING TIGER.)
The anamorphic video transfer on the DVD is outstanding -- images are crisp and sharp, colors are vibrant and realistic. The picture overall looks a bit dark for my liking, but details are never obscured. This is one of the best-looking DVDs I've ever seen.
The DVD includes optional yellow English subtitles and an English dub track. Although subtitles are almost always preferrable to dubs, this DVD happens to have one of the best written English dubs I've ever heard. Lee and Schamus worked on the translations for the dub themselves, and the result is literate and polished. In one scene, the tersely written subtitle reads, "Giang Hu is a world of tigers and dragons, full of corruption." But the more lyrical English dub reads, "We are beset with peril, and it is not weapons. The real danger resides in the human heart." This is not to say that I'm recommending the dub over the subtitles, of course. The viewer should never be denied the chance to hear an actor's own voice, which is ALWAYS more authentic-sounding than someone else's.
The DVD's audio commentary track is informative and entertaining. Lee and Schamus speak with great self-deprecation when they criticize many of their own choices -- the "cliches' in the fight scenes, the "cheesiness" of some of the dialogs, the lessons they learned during the shooting. Early in the commentary Lee explains what "Giang Hu" is: "If filmmaking is a 'world', then Hollywood would be a 'Giang Hu'." A "sub-world", so to speak. Lee also jokes about how he "prayed to the water, which symbolizes money, box office." The two also recount various difficulties from the directorial and screenwriting perspectives.
There is also a 20-minute "making-of" special that features a few clips of Lee working on the set, sound bites from Lee, Schamus, Yeoh, Chow, composer Tan Dun, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and a short clip of Coco Lee singing the theme song. Michelle Yeoh has her own interview segment where she elaborates more on her craft and the movie's themes.
The DVD comes with PCFriendly, but web links are the only DVD-ROM features.

Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Director: Ang Lee
Yun-Fat Chow
Michelle Yeoh
Ziyi Zhang

DVD title: The Simpsons - The Complete Third Season
Productgroup: DVD
The Simpsons - The Complete Third Season - movie DVD cover picture

The simpsons is by far the best show ever. I have seen every episode ever, including the pilot episodes. The third season is where the simpsons really started to get good, though i think that the newer episodes (11-13)are the best. The simpsons is locked in for at least 2 more seasons and hopefully more. This means that at least 15 of these will be released and I recomend that you buy all of them.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Dan Castellaneta

DVD title: Spirited Away
Productgroup: DVD
Spirited Away - movie DVD cover picture
Amazing movie, very entertaining a must see

Chihiro and her family get sidetracked on the way to their new home. They enter the land of the spirits unknowingly much to chihiro's chagrin. She begs her family not to enter but they do anyway. There they are lead by the smell of food, they dig in and lil chihiro goes off wandering. As night approaches she meets a young boy, haku and he tells her to leave quickly. She goes back to find her family but they have turned into pigs!

She is now trapped and must find a way to save her parents.. She has to battle several spirits and and evil witch yubaba..

Amazing movie, very entertaining a must see..

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Miyu Irino

DVD title: Cinderella Man
Productgroup: DVD
Cinderella Man - movie DVD cover picture
One- Two Three Punch For Cinderella Man!

Objectively, when you put Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Russell Crowe are not likely to come out with a dud.

Add the the equation an incredibly inspiring story about a "regular" American guy, who understood the meaning of family, respect and the desire to keep "milk" on the table...
and you have an absolute KNOCK-OUT of a movie!

The subtlety of an Oscar winning Renee Zellweger, followed closely with a nominee like Paul Giamanti just was the wrapped red ribbon that delivered this 'one, two, three-punch' of a movie to an enthusiastic audience at last nights preview screening in NYC's Lincoln Center.

Even a casual boxing fan knows the names of the 'big contenders', where they fought and how they faired. Just like this years runnaway television hit "The Contender"... it isn't just about boxing.

There is a whole life story here, one that any of us can identify with at some point in our lives...or at least hope to aspire to.

Congratulations Messrs. Howard, Grazer and Crowe
The Cinderella Man will become a favorite amongst many as their "Top Ten "Feel Good" Movies of All Time!

Studio: Universal Studios
Russell Crowe

DVD title: The Producers (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Producers (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Zero, Gene and Dick are Crazy

Zero Mostel sells 25,000 per cent of a play. If he produces a flop he won't have to pay the backers anything. Not bad! Accountant Gene Wilder helps him with his foolproof crazy scheme. Of course the play has to fail. Thanks to burned out flower child Dick Shawn's performance as its star things take a different turn. This is a film that grows better with repeated viewing. It just shows how things snowball for the worst. Yet, in the end you can't beat down the human spirit for trying. The late and great Dick Shawn is a real standout akin to the role he played in "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World." This was Mel Brooks's first film as director. Mel Brooks was a former stand-up comic who took over-the-top ethnically based vaudevillian routines, which in some hands went beyond the limits of good taste, and transcended them into glossy cinematic tales with much broader appeal. In doing so some say that he compromised the loftier yet prurient nature and ultimate message that was the bedrock of his work, exchanging laughs for substance. I don't think that was the case here.

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: Mel Brooks
Zero Mostel
Gene Wilder

DVD title: Empire of the Sun
Productgroup: DVD
Empire of the Sun - movie DVD cover picture
Engrossing Epic

What a masterpiece by Stephen Spielberg!"Empire of the Sun," like so many other Spielberg films, tells a coming of age story of a young boy. Ah, but his setting is not Southern California in the 70's or 80's this time.Instead the story takes place in the Shanghai of WWII. Right before the war, English and Americans lived in luxurious and guarded enclaves of the city. The hero of the story, Jamie (later Jim), is a spoiled young boy. He reprimands his servants, he questions the existence of God, he drives his loving parents crazy. All changes with the Japanese attack of Shanghai, which separates Jamie from his paretns. At first, it's a bit of a child's dream. He goes back to their mansion, he rides his bike around the house, he does what he pleases. Eventually he returns to the city and tries to surrender to the Japanese. But they don't want him.He takes up, Oliver Twist like, with two American shady characters (a young John Malkovich and Joe Pantolino). Together they become imprisoned by the Japanese and are eventually sent off to an interment camp. You see the camp through the eyes of a child. Yes he detests certain aspects-lack of food, grime-but he also takes to other parts. He's free from school. He becomes the child about the camp and spends most days bartering and exchanging goods. He befriends a Japanese or two. (He had admired them prior to the War.) He also shows the isolation of the ex-pat. Though he's called English, he has never been there. He's been put through all this for a country that he has never been to in his life.I strongly recommend this film to history buffs, particularly those who enjoy WW II films. If you like John Malkovich, you'll love him here. Yes the movie moves a bit slow at times. But overall, I found it to be a wonderful experience. (The DVD Making Of is also an excellent add-on.)

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Steven Spielberg
Christian Bale
John Malkovich
Miranda Richardson

DVD title: The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (Limited Issue)
Productgroup: DVD
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (Limited Issue) - movie DVD cover picture
An animated Romeo & Juliet?

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride begins right where The Lion King begins, but Simba's father is up in heaven watching as the monkey (what ever his name is) shows off Simba's and Nala's daughter to the animals. And this time there is a new villian in the movie a lioness named Zira who lends lions who follow in Scar's foot steps. And Simba banshes them all. But I don't remember Zira or any of the lions, who was with Scar in the first one. Which I have to watch again, to see if they are in The Lion King.

Studio: Disney Studios
Matthew Broderick
Neve Campbell

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