Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen / Patrice Chéreau - Pierre Boulez, Bayreuth Festival (Complete Ring Cycle)
Productgroup: DVD
Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen / Patrice Chéreau - Pierre Boulez, Bayreuth Festival (Complete Ring Cycle) - movie DVD cover picture

I was so excited when I saw this that I immediately ordered it. Then, I thought I had better do some research while I still had time to cancel.
I just wanted to write about my recent discoveries of this production to alert people who may not know anything about it and are considering purchasing it. I am sure people will write reviews praising this production and others will slam it. So, before you order, read on.
After finding a few things on the web, I determined I had to still look further. Then it dawned on me - this production must be mentioned in the in-depth Ring books I have by Rudolph Sabor, (which are fantastic and available on amazon).
I consider Sabor an authority on The Ring. Like other sources I found on the Net, he talks about the musical shortcomings of this Ring, especially the cast of Gotterdammerung. What really caught my eye was his discussion on Boulez's conducting. Sabor claims Boulez does not have the right feeling for Wagner and reduces the orchestra to merely a background ensemble, providing background music, to a drama. This is a grave issue for me. Wagner intended the orchestra to play as big a part in the drama as the lead characters. It is a vital part to this piece and cannot be dismissed nor diminished. Still, these comments did not deter me from wanting this DVD. I can live with vocal shortcomings and presumed I could possibly deal with the orchestral issues.
The definitive discussion that made me cancel this order, was Sabor's very in-depth commentary on the visual aspects of the production. THIS IS NOT A CONVENTIONAL RING by any means. Some examples:
1. Wotan wears a black trench coat instead of carrying a spear.2. Wotan helps Hunding kill Siegmund (moreso than merely removing the power of Siegmund's sword and thwarting Brunnhilde).3. Wotan actually boxes Brunnhilde's ears during the last act of Walkure.4. One of the dwarfs (can't remember which one) moves about with 20 Henchmen.5. The Rhine is turned into a hydroelectric dam type thing.6. Erda is rolled out onto the stage in Siegfried.7. Freia is buried under the Gold, which is in large plastic bags.8. Siegfried does not forge the sword - rather he makes it through the use of a "sword making machine". (This I CANNOT LIVE WITH - the forging is VITAL).
There were many many many other examples. Sabor seemed to like the visual side of production, but was very critical of the musical aspects. He said the reaction was very mixed - and that is understandable.
I am not trying to deter people from purchasing this - but want to tell people what it entails before they buy it.
I applaud new and daring approaches to pieces. However, for my first Ring (I have not seen it live or on video), I want a production that is as close to what Wagner intended.

Studio: Uni/Philips
R. Wagner
Pierre Boulez

DVD title: La Bella y la Bestia (Beauty and the Beast - Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
La Bella y la Bestia (Beauty and the Beast - Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Tale as Old as Time

WIthout a doubt the most lovely Disney movie ever. Actually one of the best movies ever. This newly restored eddition is so wonderful. It has tons of extras that everybody loves, that are also extremely facinating. They have the original music video with Celine Dion singing Beauty and the Beast which is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. The newly restored version of the movie is breathtaking. I remember being mezmerized with it when I was growing up. I thought it was the best movie ever and today I still think it is the best (Well only Sound of Music tops it). This movie is one of the best love stories ever written and there is a reason it was the first animated movie to be nominated for an oscar. If you don't have this you are missing out on the most amazing movies ever!

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Robby Benson
Paige O'Hara

DVD title: Antwone Fisher (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Antwone Fisher (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
The Irony of it all!

The movie was excellent. It was very well made. The flashbacks allowed detailed yet compressed versions of his past, in order that the movie did not seem too long. Having a similar story in our family, I wondered about how many more untold Antwone stories there are to be told. The irony of it all was that Antwone grew up with the horrible foster family, the Tates. The Davenports on the other hand, would have been wonderful parents to children like Antwone, yet the two spent their whole lives with the pain of not being able to have biological children, instead of adopting. Fortunately, my brother was given up to a good family. He too was born in prison and 50 years later found us.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington
Derek Luke
Joy Bryant

DVD title: Atlantic City
Productgroup: DVD
Atlantic City - movie DVD cover picture
City of dreams.

'Atlantic City' is probably the best little film no one has seen. That's too bad, because it deserves to be remembered more than it has been during the past 20 years.
Susan Sarandon is outstanding in her portrayal of a young woman wanting to start her life over as a dealer in an Atlantic City casino. She starts out at the bottom, serving at an oyster bar, but she has hopes and dreams. (Who doesn't have in Atlantic City?)
Things could be worse and suddenly are when her ex-husband shows up with her sister, whom he's gotten pregnant. (Something you don't expect to see everyday...) What do they want? A place to stay for awhile would be nice... But the husband is really in Atlantic City to make a big drug deal. He has no connections to the Atlantic City drug bosses, so Sarandon's next door neighbor Lou (in a wonderful performance by Burt Lancaster) befriends him. The ex-husband's lack of contacts in Atlantic City and lack of knowledge of the city itself land him and everyone around him in big, big trouble.
The main theme running throughout 'Atlantic City' is change. The city was once very different, as were the characters in Malle's film. The entire story is about the inevitability of change and how it affects each of its characters. The choices these characters make and think about making lift the film to the level of a modern cinema classic. 'Atlantic City' deserves to be seen because of its great performances, expert direction, and very good writing. Watching 'Atlantic City' is like watching a good novel unfold right before your eyes. Not a flashy film, but rich in characterization, tone, and style. Not to be missed.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Louis Malle
Burt Lancaster
Susan Sarandon

DVD title: Carnival of Souls
Productgroup: DVD
Carnival of Souls - movie DVD cover picture
A shoe-string budget, black & white cult classic horror film

"Carnival of Souls," the only theatrical film every directed by Herk Harvey, is a cult classic with a most deserved reputation that puts it almost on a par with dead George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" in terms of shoestring productions (In fact, the two films appear together on a recent DVD Double Feature). Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) accepts a car ride from a group of other young girls, only to end up in a drag race that sees the car go over a bridge with only Mary surviving. Having taken a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City, Mary heads for her new home, passing a deserted pavilion on the outskirts of town. Mary is drawn to the ruined bathing center/carnival, but has bigger problems since she keeps seeing a leering, corpse-like man (played by Harvey) watching her. Again and again Mary has the eerie experience of suddenly finding herself in a silent world where no one seems to notice her. Eventually she returns to the pavilions to come to the terrifying realization of what has happened.
"Carnvial of Souls" came about because Herk Harvey drove by Saltair, the deserted 1940s tourist resort outside Salt Lake City, and decided it would make a powerful location for a horror film. Harvey recruited John Clifford to come up with a screenplay that would involve Harvey's image of dead bodies rising from the lake to pursue their victim. The finished product certainly evokes a nightmarish quality that makes you ignore the technical problems with overdubbing, campy performances by the supporting cast, and such. Hilligloss, trained in the Method by Strassberg but denied any hint of her character's motivation by the director (think about it), only made one other film, "Curse of the Living Corpse" (1964), but this film is enough to secure her reputation in the field. Sidney Berger, the all too friendly guy down the hall at her boarding house, does a cameo as a cop in the 1998 "Wes Craven Presents Carnival of Souls" debacle, which does not compare on any level to this evocative horror classic. Given the high gloss shlock that is out there it is nice to see a horror film that is actually effective at creating a sense of unease without resorting to special effects.

Studio: Good Times Home Vide
Candace Hilligoss

DVD title: Harmagedon (Collector's Series 20th Anniversary Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Harmagedon (Collector's Series 20th Anniversary Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
A land mark for anime.

I enjoyed this film emensely. Its a great science fiction story from Kazumu Hirai's very long and fabled series of Genma Wars novels. The direction from Rintaro in this film is excelent and visionary. Katsuhiro Otomo's character designs also give this film a nice touch. Hamragedon is the americanized name though. Its real name is The Battle With Genma (or perhaps simply Genma Wars). This film was highly influential in Japan, especially for its realism, and it is considered a landmark among many otaku and those in the industry. The anime tv series Genma Wars is also based on the same novels (and manga by Shotaro Ishinomori), which I also liked dispite extremely low budgeted animation. If only that series had the animation and direction of this film. This special edition DVD is also a very nice package, with a good, remastered transfer, aswell as a very interesting commentary by Rintaro. Highly reccomended.

Studio: Wea Corp
Director: Rintaro

DVD title: The Slayers Try DVD Collection
Productgroup: DVD
The Slayers Try DVD Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Good but sad

Try is an excellent series, but sadly it was the last of the TV episodes. After that were the weak OAVs with Lina and Naga. Hopefully someday they will make more Lina/Gourry episodes

Slayers Try

DVD title: Wildboyz - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Wildboyz - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
Crocodile Hunter take a number!

For $20 you get the full first season of one of the most hilarious nature shows The Wild Boyz.... for $20 you get an hours worth of unseen footage, not even including all the bloopers, all the extra features, and the commentary tracks which are just as hilarious and entertaining as the show itself... ALL FOR $20 FREAKIN DOLLARS! Finally a show jumps into the Nature TV world and teaches us something while making us laugh our asses off! Watch Chris and Steve-O get mauled by bears, sharks, birds and any other creature they can rounge up, and trust me, for $20 you getting a lot of bang for your buck... by this ish!

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Jeff Tremaine

DVD title: Firefly - The Complete Series
Productgroup: DVD
Firefly - The Complete Series - movie DVD cover picture
Sorry I missed the original broadcast....

I read all the hype on the series after it was cancelled, but missed the original broadcast. We took a chance and ordered the series out of curiousity, and were SOOO glad we did. My family are all "Stargate SG1" devotees, and thought NO series could beat it. We were wrong. Firelfy has action, adventure, humor, silliness, drama and touchingly romantic tension that a lot of series try for, but miss badly. Firefly has everything that would keep an audience glued to the TV for hours. Fox's shortsighted treatment of the show was a crime. We look forward to the feature film and hopefully a more forward-thinking network will realize there is a big audience out there just waiting for more stories. We really care about these characters and want to know what happens next!!!! (Scifi Channel, are you listening???)

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Nathan Fillion

DVD title: Pleasantville (New Line Platinum Series)
Productgroup: DVD
Pleasantville (New Line Platinum Series) - movie DVD cover picture
don't watch this film if you don't want to think...

This movie is filled with conflicting ideas...enough to make your head spin. Conservatism vs. liberalism, confusion vs. wisdom, chaos vs. order,...packed with allusions galore (like the tree that explodes into flames after Joan know...I took it to mean that she had crossed a point where she couldn't go back, similar to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, how the angels stand guard in front of the entrance with flaming swords to prevent their re-entry...) But that's all I'm gonna say about the have to go find out the rest for yourself. I hope you enjoy it. :)

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Gary Ross
Tobey Maguire
Joan Allen
Jeff Daniels

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