Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Ulysses
Productgroup: DVD
Ulysses - movie DVD cover picture
An excellent representation of some aspects of Joyce's novel

Joyce's ULYSSES is one of the great works of literature of this century -- it is also a difficult novel to read. Most readers need help and there are various guidebooks available for this. Another way of accessing the novel is by listening to oral interpretations of it on tape or record or by watching Strick's excellent film tribute to the book. Of course, it could not be possible to get that whole massive work into a couple of hours film -- I doubt that Strick ever intended to. But this film is an excellent introduction to the book, one that I would recommend warmly.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Joseph Strick

DVD title: Richard Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier / Solti, Te Kanawa, Bonney, Howells, Haugland, Covent Garden
Productgroup: DVD
Richard Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier / Solti, Te Kanawa, Bonney, Howells, Haugland, Covent Garden - movie DVD cover picture
Beautifully acted, sung performance

Der Rosenkavalier remains one of the most popular operas, despite being extremely long (all stage productions cut to some degree, and even then it's 3 hours or more of music) and a storyline that upon examination is a trifle thin. Strauss's opera also places exceptional demands upon the singers -- they must sing beautifully, act the part, and convey both humor and feeling. This 1985 performance from Covent Garden succeeds on all requirements: the cast is uniformly strong, the production is beautiful and elegant, and I shed a tear or two at the final trio.
Anne Howells is the Oktavian, a 17-year old count in love involved in a May-December affair with the Feldmarschallin. Howells is perhaps the least well-known of all the principals in this video, but Oktavian is onstage for practically the entire opera, and I think Howells is superb. I love the gusto with which he/she challenges the lecherous Ochs in Act 2, and her game turn as a "chambermaid" in Act 3. The only drawback I'd mention is that her voice is a bit thin and reedy, and lacks that last touch of vocal glamour. But if her voice is not as silvery and bright as the most legendary Oktavians (Sena Jurinac for example) Howells still convinces as an ardent young man. As the naive Sophie, Barbara Bonney is near-perfect. She looks girlish and young, and has the kind of bright lyric soprano that works so well for this role. She also avoids overly cute, precious acting. I love her reactions to the Baron when she first meets him.
Kiri te Kanawa is of course the Feldmarschallin, and hers was the real surprise of the video. I expected beautiful, elegant singing, but te Kanawa's portrayal was also dignified and heartfelt. At the end of Act 1 she buries her face in some flowers and whens he looks up there are real tears streaming down her face, and all of a sudden my preconceptions about te Kanawa were wiped away. Aage Haugland is hilarious as the dirty old "dowry hunter" Ochs, and he also wisely does not make Ochs truly hateful. He's not supposed to be -- in the end, his story is as sad as the Marschallin's. His screaming at being "wounded" in Act 2 and also his "wooing" of Sophie are priceless.
The two drawbacks: Georg Solti conducts with his typical bluster, all blaring horns and IMO little sense of the quick, breezy Viennese waltzes that permeate Strauss's score. Kultur's documentation is also poor -- it doesnt even say who the Italian singer is.

Studio: Kultur
Director: Brian Large
Royal Opera

DVD title: Akira (Limited Special Edition Tin)
Productgroup: DVD
Akira (Limited Special Edition Tin) - movie DVD cover picture
The new dub

This is a great movie, one that really makes you think. If you really pay attention to details, something clicks in your mind at the end of the movie that says, "AHA! I get it now!" and then moments later, "Or do I?" It is has a good plot with strong philosophical overtones that really come through if you pay attention to the details. If you like action, this is a safe bet. If you like Sci-Fi, this is a safe bet. However the movie's strength comes in its well developed, intriguing plot and in its ability to really make you think.
Although I don't own the DVD myself, I have seen the new dub and it is much better than the old one, it clears up so many questions I had about the plot, and those lines that just sounded really awkward aren't there (Anyone remember Tetsuo saying something along the lines of, "want to turn me into a humanoid like the others"? and Tetsuo IS human, by the way). And overall the new dub made sense, so it didn't just leave me dumbfounded at the end like the older dub did. I haven't watched any subtitled versions, though.

Studio: Pioneer Video
Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Mitsuo Iwata
Nozomu Sasaki
Mami Koyama

DVD title: Lady and the Tramp (Limited Issue)
Productgroup: DVD
Lady and the Tramp (Limited Issue) - movie DVD cover picture
This is the one you've been looking for for your kids!

Finally, a sweet innocent movie! Charming, loving, adorable, clever, incredibly cute animation, minimal violence and scary parts (just a couple of scary dogs and a dog catcher for excitement.)
And some stuff for you to laugh at, and enjoy along with the kids. A perfect movie for your 2-7 year old.
It's a dog love story. A couple of incredible cats make a cameo appearance. That's the best part of the movie as far as I'm concerned...but then... I'm a cat lover and my three year old is a dog lover.

Studio: Disney Studios
Peggy Lee
Barbara Luddy
Larry Roberts (II)
Bill Thompson

DVD title: Good Times - The Complete Second Season
Productgroup: DVD
Good Times - The Complete Second Season - movie DVD cover picture
Nothing like Thelma's Oatmeal!

Thank goodness....they FINALLY put out Good Times S. 2! It only took a year!!! This show has become one of the 1970s classic hits...and with good reason! It conveys the plight of the poor in a light, airy manner....coping with hard issues by using a smile and a laugh. Even though it may seem dated at times, the things that Good Times addresses are still somewhat prevalent today...and of course...that's why it is considered a classic.
In this new season, the characters are more defined...and the actors seem more at ease with their roles. Of course, the highlights are Michael "the militant midget" and JJ.
So, go ahead, get yourself some Good Times while you can! I sure hope the third season will come a little quicker though!!

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Esther Rolle

DVD title: Walt Disney Treasures - On the Front Lines
Productgroup: DVD
Walt Disney Treasures - On the Front Lines - movie DVD cover picture

Several years ago Warner Bros. came out with "Bugs and Daffy: The Wartime cartoons" a great editon of WWII themed shorts. Now Disney checks in with this great 2 DVD set of their own wartime toons. In all you get 32 cartoon shorts from the golden era of animation, an intro by Leondard Maltin, and many great extra features.
Among the great shorts are:
"Donald gets Drafted" Donald does his patriotic duty when he recieves his draft notice and enlists in the army. The first of Donald's "Army" pictures follows him though his induction medical exam and boot camp
"Private Pluto" Pluto is in the infantry guarding a pillbox from saboteurs.
"Commando Duck" Donald is given a wartime assignment to wipe out a Japanese airfield.
"Home Defense" Donald mans his listening post while his three nephews wait in readiness to attack the enemy. But chaos breaks out when the enemy turns out to be nothing more than a wandering bee.
"How to be a Sailor" A history of sailing through the ages; from a prehistoric Goofy using a log, through the Age of Sail ("iron men, wooden ships") and on to modern times.
"the Old Army Game" The old shell game gets a new face as Donald stays off-base past "Taps" and has to try to sneak back in with out alerting Pete.
Just great WWII era stuff. Includes interviews with Roy Disney and others. Kudos to Disney for putting out this great material.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video

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

NOTE TO PRODUCERS and DISTRIBUTORS OF SIMPSONS DVD'S: Release these faster! (LOL) The Third season was 1991!! That means we're 12 years behind! At this pace, we won't get to the most recent episodes until the year 2015... I don't know if we're gonna be around that long, the way things are looking. Not to mention whether or not we'll be using DVD's?
Anyway... The Simpsons is, consistently, by far, the best show on television and possibly ever. The humor, a few years back, I assumed would probably run out of flavor and things would get old. Never! In fact, it just gets better. The producers brilliantly create new jokes and find new ways to make fun of themselves and the world at large.
Please keep up the fantastic work and release these DVD's faster! I'm so anxious to own them and see them again over and over, I could burst!
Who knows... maybe in a couple of years people won't be interested and you'll have lost all those potential sales... aaaahhh, nevermind... just trying whatever I can.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Dan Castellaneta

DVD title: Home Alone
Productgroup: DVD
Home Alone - movie DVD cover picture

This is by far the best christmas movie of all time because its mixture of comedy and some sort of actions.

The strange thing is that i am watching this movie at the this very moment,and its not even christmas WEIRD.(By Jay byrne)

Also i have to say this is a christmas classic and should not be put down as a bad kids movie, its alot more than that its a film for all ages.

What is brillant about the acting in this Joe Pesci!! It really shows his flexibilty as an actor. I mean look at the likes of 'Goodfellas'...he plays a physco gangster!! THen in this film he is funny character with many humbles of fun.(Al Breso)

Its a brillant movie with a great sence of humour,

'Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal........and a happy new year'

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

DVD title: Tadpole
Productgroup: DVD
Tadpole - movie DVD cover picture
Have a sense of humor

At seventy-seven minutes, "Tadpole" is an uncharacteristically short film, but one full of life and spirit. I enjoyed it very much without actually loving it. The acting is fine; Sigourney Weaver is as good as ever, John Ritter rings true as the befuddled, academic-minded father, and Bebe Neuwirth is terrific as a more humorous Mrs. Robinson. As the titular tadpole, Oscar, newcomer Aaron Stanford is sweetly sincere as a passionate, intelligent, and very serious teenage boy in love with his stepmother (Weaver) and seduced by her best friend (Neuwirth). There's nothing at all wrong with "Tadpole"; it just somehow doesn't have the emotional heft of a great film.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Gary Winick
Aaron Stanford
Sigourney Weaver

DVD title: Titus
Productgroup: DVD
Titus - movie DVD cover picture
I tell my sorrows to the stones

This movie, quite simply put, is stunning. Titus is decidedly not the greatest play that Shakespeare ever wrote but now after watching this adaptation I'd say it's probably the most underrated of his works and with help of Julie Taymor has the potential to be the most memorable.
After watching it last night, I had nightmares. The violence, on the first viewing at least, defies the boundaries of human imagination - I plan to watch it again, trying to concentrate more on the story and the scene-by-scene commentary given by Anthony Hopkins. And yet for all the gore that is served up in this dish, it is surprisingly beautiful. This is, after all, a tale of revenge and mayhem.
Anthony Hopkins as Titus, a celebrated Roman general, makes this slightly long movie well worth watching through to the end. Supporting cast is also astounding - Laura Frazer as Lavinia will haunt me for some time to come, I still shudder when I think about her performance and her character's cruel fate. Jessica Lange as Queen of Goths has a difficult task but she performs admirably. Her goal is making Titus' life a living hell after she becomes a wife of a new airhead emperor. Pay more attention also to the black slave who serves her, perhaps the real villain of the play (there is no shortage of those, although some are just pawns). Together, they succeed admirably but Titus gets a chance to revenge his family once again. The last banquette reminded me of Hopkins' role in The Silence of the Lambs.
Excellent things about the movie besides the stunning visuals and patience in unraveling the story while keeping the brisk pace are: music is great, great, great and the costumes and architecture that get a modernized texture. Something that I would vote for excising out of the movie are the dreamy parts in which Titus has visions of angels and scapegoats. Because the entire movie is so lucid in its unapologetic darkness, they just break the atmosphere.
But the part in which Titus lies on the stones while the faceless crowd moves around him on their way to watch the deaths of his unjustly punished sons, screaming to anyone who'd listen about mercy, is perhaps the most telling of all. There is little forgiveness to be shared between the participants of this play, and in the times when mercy is begged for, the ears on which the pleas fall are always deaf. Including those of Titus.
Buy it, rent it, run to see it, in other words. This is one of the best movies - and DVDs - to come in years.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Julie Taymor
Anthony Hopkins
Jessica Lange

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