Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Y Tu Mama Tambien (R-rated Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Y Tu Mama Tambien (R-rated Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

It's a callous thing to say, but somehow I doubt that if Y Tu Mama Tambien had been the same film made in America and starring American actors, it wouldn't have gotten nearly the same amount of praise that it has thus far this year. Why? Because some of the things you're more or less willing to accept here (a mature woman going on the road with two horny teenagers, and willing to have hot monkey sex with both, and the secret she carries with her) could easily come off as contrived. It's a testament to all the actors involved here, along with director Alonso Cuaron, that the film doesn't let that happen. Every character in the film is real and compelling, and the sexual dynamics between the three main characters keep you hooked all the way throughout. Why can't American films be populated with people this realistically attractive? Only My Big Fat Greek Wedding can offer similar qualities.
Even so, the more unrealistic aspects of Y Tu Mama Tambien nag at you long after viewing. And the film is also hampered by a narration that is both unnecessary and hideously intrusive. Sound breaks when the narrator chimes in about issues seemingly more important to the filmmakers than the audience itself. And that's a shame, because it hurts the story's momentum, and at inopportune times.
Also note that the R-rated version of this film edits out critical plot points as well as, let's face it, some hot action. Stay far away from that butchered cut.

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: Alfonso CuarĂ³n
Gael García Bernal
Maribel Verdú

DVD title: Eve's Bayou
Productgroup: DVD
Eve's Bayou - movie DVD cover picture
Beautifully designed DVD that complements the film

The layout and extras of the DVD are great features to an already wonderful film. The cinematography,the music, and the astounding cast especially Jurnee Smollett makes this one of my favorite movies. The short film and the user-selected commentary feature of the DVD provides an added bonus by giving the viewer some background on the production and a scene by scene discussion of the film. Kasi Lemmons made a strong freshman directorial debut and I can't wait to see her next effort.

Studio: Vidmark/Trimark
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Jurnee Smollett
Samuel L. Jackson

DVD title: Six Feet Under - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Six Feet Under - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
Best TV script ever.

Sorry my title mimics that of others, but that's what I've been saying about it for a long time.
Like the Sopranos, this is a series the hype for which I didn't give in to orginally. Then I saw some reviews by one of my favorite Washington Post critics that teased me. So I watched, probably close to half way through the first season. It hooked me instantly.
First, as others point out, the acting is incredible. My spouse and I are wondering each episode who's the best actor. In one of the DVD episodes tonight, I felt it was Frances Conroy (Ruth) who I usually do. I've always been in love with Lauren Ambrose (Claire). All right, I have many friends with daughters older than she. What I mean is, I envy the kid. She's got a great future with her acting talent (and her expressions which will break you up!) The others are all fabulous too. Jeremy Sisto (Billy Chenowith) really does convince you that he's absolutely nuts...a change from his portrayal of Jesus in a TV movie a few years ago! And I've never seen his sister Brenda (God help me, I can't think of the actress's name) slip into her New Zealand accent. Again, they all vie for best actor/actress each episode!
There is an uncannily good mix of humor and drama. That's why I say it beats anything else on the tube. If I thought of getting rid of HBO, it's this series...and maybe The Wire...that would keep me. For months in advance my wife and I talk about the coming season; we can't wait for it.
It's risque without being gross. The gay issue is intelligently handled. Oh, and I've always wondered if Peter C. Marshall (David) and Matthew St. Patrick (Keith) were straight in real life. Among the extra features of the DVD set is that you learn that they are.
Another feature of the DVD set is the discussion among all those responsible for the opening sequence and theme music. Then there's the discussion with cast members as to their favorite scenes. (My favorite is also Lauren Ambrose's, when she's lethargic about being in love. A gem!)
It's a fabulous series that can't be beat. Well, my inlaws wouldn't like it. And don't show it to any of your guests or relatives who are prudes. I got in trouble with some family members at the beginning of one in the second season. And some of the gay scenes while, again, not gross, are threatening to people not accustomed to gay scenes. But it covers oh so many subjects you don't normally see covered...too many to even mention here. The scripts are brilliant, the acting the best. And the added benefits of the DVD series are well worth the cost of the set, in addition to having those superb episodes to watch again and again. They'll never bore you, believe me.

Studio: HBO Home Video
Peter Krause

DVD title: Roots
Productgroup: DVD
Roots - movie DVD cover picture
Historic broadcast

I was just a little kid when Roots originally aired, but I still remember how enthralled I was . . . Watching it again after all these years has brought back all of my initial awe of how one story can be so brilliantly mastered . . . Praise for Alex Haley, Stan Margulies and everyone else who had a hand in Roots, because it is simply amazing.
This DVD itself is good. Instead of having several discs, there are only 3, with special features that include a 'Remembering Roots' featurette, subtitles and a Roots family tree, along with an enhanced CD, all at a reasonable price. A must-have for any fan of Alex Haley's series.

Studio: Warner Studios
Levar Burton

DVD title: Chicago (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Chicago (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
An Excellent Movie!!!

After watching Moulin Rouge, I was a bit hesitant about Chicago. But from the first time I saw the preview until I watched the movie, I was obsessed. With better acting, singing and directing (I hated the eratic direction of the Moulin Rouge director), it's understandable why this movie won 6 Oscars and Moulin Rouge a couple. This is THE best picture in years. Watch it, or you'll regret it.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Rob Marshall
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Renée Zellweger

DVD title: The Passion of the Christ (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Passion of the Christ (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Easily the greatest film of the year!!!

Both my Dad and I were eager to see this movie, while neither of us are religious. i had heard all the trouble this movie had stirred because of its violent depiction of the crucifixion. I knew it was going to be a violent film, but nothing could have prepared me for the movie I was about to witness. I wouldnt even call it a movie. It is a violent, bothering and truly moving experience. I have no shame in admitting that I cried at this film, not once, but frequently. There were times where I had to turn away, I simply could not watch it. It wasnt just the violence that bothered me, it was so unbelievably upsetting, watching Christ suffer. I am no stranger to violence and torture (in movies anyway!!!), and I have never turned away from a film. I did during The Passion of the Christ.Despite the violence, this is one of the most beautiful films I have ever watched. I originally was not looking forward to the fact that it was in subtitles, due to it being in multiple languages (but not English), but the film would not have been the same if it were in English, not as realistic as it was. All actors in this movie were on top form, Jim Cavaziel put in a performance like nothing I have ever seen. I know this film was never made to gain any Oscars or other awards, but by God it deserves some. One of the things in this movie that I really liked was how everyone was affected by Jesus when he would look them in the eyes, or speak to them. This really suggested that he was more than human. The music was very powerful, and added to the film's sense of tragedy. Overall, an unbelievable film, which does not follow the normal pattern of a film, in that the events of Jesus' betrayal and capture took place almost immediately. Again, an unbelievable, brutal yet very beautiful piece of film making. One for all people to see, if they are emotionally able to sit through it. A must see*****

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Mel Gibson
James Caviezel
Monica Bellucci

DVD title: Cardcaptor Sakura - Magical Mystery (Vol. 7)
Productgroup: DVD
Cardcaptor Sakura - Magical Mystery (Vol. 7) - movie DVD cover picture
The covers start to get some color

Release #7 in the releases of Cardcaptor Sakura. This one is being released along with volume 4. Now if pioneer would only release volume monthly. Anyway, the cover is fantastic featuring a green background and Sakura in her cute "Alice in Wonderland" look. Thanks to pioneer to releasing covers in other colors besides pink (4 are enough for now)
The episodes are great as always. I'm not clear on what the insert and postcard are at the moment, but it's really not that important.
*Sakura finds out if you meet someone that looks like you, then you may die soon. That's a little harsh, especially when a clow card is damaging her image. Sakura may not be dying, but for, Touya, it could be a possibility! Can she rescue him from the unknown card?
*A new beautiful teacher shows up to teach math. Shaoran gets a weird vibe from her though. Meanwhile, Sakura and Meilin race to the Tsukimine shrine to get charms when a clow card creates a maze to end all mazes. Everyone has lost all hope of finding the exit! Did you just hear that bell?
*Touya seems to know Kaho Mizuki from somewhere. Is there anyway to find out what happened? A clow card that merges with a cherry tree seem to think so. Sakura is trapped in the past! Shaoran, do something!
*Twin bells gets new cards in that look very similar to clow cards. It would just be awful if a real one got mixed in with them! A dangerous card appears and Sakura and Shaoran doesn't know who has it! Will they find the poor unfortunate "Brat" before he/she says the name on the card to release it?
Remember, this release is in Japanese with English subtitles. Until March, unless Pioneer starts releasing them sooner! Release!

Studio: Pioneer Video
Director: Morio Asaka

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

Irene Pappas was the greatest!! I loved this Antigone. I imagine that everyone who would order this knows the story, so no need to go into it. The passion and range of Ms. Pappas is incredible. This is an extremely high quality presentation. Every lover of Greek theater should have this!

Studio: Kino International
Director: Yorgos Javellas

DVD title: Scalphunters
Productgroup: DVD
Scalphunters - movie DVD cover picture
One of the best westerns ever made!

This was the movie that made me throw away my Maltin Reviews.
I've always been a huge admirer of Burt Lancaster & his work & in my book this is one of his very best; it may just be his best, but how can you beat Crimson Pirate or Vera Cruz or Sweet Smell of Success or even his first - The Killers? The man was endowed with very high doses of intelligence, humor, humanity, physical presence & and a sort of 19th century stage hamminess. There used to be a saying that you could tell the type of film Lancaster was doing by his hairdo. When the hair was short, the movie was serious. When it was wavy, his tongue was filling up his cheek. It's quite wavy in Scalphunters. He's the epitome of the mountain man / trapper in this one: whiskey-drinking, bible-quoting highly-opionated & super-stubborn Joe Bass. Mark Twain would have loved this character, he's right out of Twain's imagination. It's hard to believe that Lancaster was in his mid-50's when he made this. He looks much younger & moves with the quickness & grace that made this ex-trapeze performer a legend.
Ossie Davis is a perfect match for Lancaster as the extraordinarily wise & well-educated but highly wary escaped slave Joseph Lee, who must continually rein in his instinct to trump the cruder but highly canny in his own way Joe Bass. The film is an almost Shakespearean interplay of their personalities - duel & duet . The viewer is able to observe the change they continually effect upon each other.
The Scalphunters themselves are a group of lowlifes led by Telly Savalas as Jim Howie (in the best role I ever saw him play in a movie), a nasty but not unwise lout who spends most of the day & night in his baggy long johns. They make their living robbing & killing & selling indian scalps to the government. I found the portrayal (& dialog) of these bushwhackers as real & accurate in every detail as anything I've ever seen on the screen, right down to Howie's astrology ("star-gazin") ex...lady-friend Kate played by Shelly Winters in her least whiny role ever. There's plenty of tension & action in this film. It's cat vs. mice from start to finish: Lancaster vs. Indians, Lancaster vs. Scalphunters, Lancaster vs. Indians again.
The performances, Sidney Pollack's direction & William Norton's writing all serve to put this film in a class with The Searchers. I believe it is to Lancaster's career what The Searchers is to John Wayne's.
Definitely a magnificent achievement. A must for wide-screen DVD restoration.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: Sydney Pollack
Burt Lancaster
Shelley Winters

DVD title: Swingers
Productgroup: DVD
Swingers - movie DVD cover picture
One of the best guy movies...

This movie is one of the best guy movies you will see, outside of "Diner". It is about guys that moved from New York to Hollywood and are trying to make it as actors. It portrays their struggles, and how they handle the un-written golden rule when you get a girls phone number at a club/bar and your friends tell you: "No, you must wait 3 days before you call her".... It is one of those movies that you can watch over and over even if you've seen it on cable like 30 times or so, it just gets better. The soundtrack is also good and makes you remember scenes from the movie. This movie is "money"... Chad Castorina

Studio: Miramax
Director: Doug Liman
Vince Vaughn
Heather Graham

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