Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Black Hawk Down
Productgroup: DVD
Black Hawk Down - movie DVD cover picture
Black hawk down rules

This movie will keep you on the edge of your seat. With not much dialogue, and an... action sequence that will blow you away. Black Hawk Down is the best war movie since Saving Private Ryan.

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Ridley Scott
Josh Hartnett

DVD title: Gone With the Wind
Productgroup: DVD
Gone With the Wind - movie DVD cover picture
An American Treasure

I love how Warner Brothers Pictures decorates their great classic films with amazing DVD's. "Gone with the Wind" is probably the best film the studio ever produced, and it's finally being treated as such. A single disc version could never contain this masterpiece so it's been updated to a four-disc version! It's incredible! "The Star Wars Trilogy" aside, this is the one DVD you must buy this fall. Now when will Warner Bros. give "The Wizard of Oz" special treatment?

Studio: Warner Home Video
Clark Gable
Vivien Leigh

DVD title: Festival Express
Productgroup: DVD
Festival Express - movie DVD cover picture
Brings 'em Back Alive and How Great is That?

Even in the recent shadow of the 60's it was a lunatic idea for a rock promoter -- plan a three concert tour of Canada, set prices at a level above free (the only acceptable concert price for many a year past Woodstock), charter a train for the musicians, fill it with food and booze for six days of travel across the Canadian prairie, and expect to make money. But that's what the promoters of Festival Express did and now, 34 years later as the long-lost tapes have emerged, been edited and re-mixed, I'm just thankful they had that lunatic idea and filmed this documentary to put us on that train. Of course it all was a financial disaster, rock musicians can easily outdrink even diplomats and academics, but it is one terrific ride, and for me, far and away the documentary of 2004.

Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead explains the liquor thing: "Liquor was new for all of us; we'd all been doing marijuana and hallucinogens." Well, Janis had always had her Southern Comfort, but for the rest of the entourage maybe that explains why the train had to make an unscheduled stop in Saskatoon to restock the booze. The hat was passed, so the narration goes, and over $800 was raised, enabling us to see loving footage of the likes of Jerry Garcia and Rick Danko of the Band helping load new cases of booze onto the train.

The music scenes here are superb, far better than in Woodstock, let alone the anti-Woodstock, Gimme Shelter, and the ten or so minutes in the middle of the film when under the night stars in Winnipeg the Band sings The Weight followed by Janis doing Cry to Me may be the best capturing on film of what it was like to live in that time and hear that music live. Of course, if one is ever still tempted to think he/she was brilliant while high an extended scene of Danko, Garcia, and Joplin noodling away on an old Leadbelly song (aside -- these people really knew their roots, blues and country/folk, and lots of that comes through in the casually shot footage of jam sessions on the train) surely cures that illusion -- if they weren't, and they weren't, chances are no one else was either. Still the 60s do have their relevant messages for today -- for example, the Dead singing New Speedway Boogie with its first line that should be applied to all our politicians, in office and aspiring to, "Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you've got nothing new to say..."

Janis sings Me and Bobby McGee over the credits, right after the closing scene of an old engineer, shutting the switching site shed doors on the engine that pulled the train and walking away, growing smaller in the distance as the camera stays fixed on his back. For one who remembers exactly where he was when hearing of her death just a couple months later, the only disappointment of this movie is that there may be no soundtrack album, at least none is mentioned in the credits. If the Band, the Dead, Janis, or their supporting cast -- Ian and Sylvia, Buddy Guy, Flying Burrito Brothers, among others -- matter to your life still, see this movie as soon as you can.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Bob Smeaton
Janis Joplin
The Grateful Dead
The Band

DVD title: B-17 Flying Legend
Productgroup: DVD
B-17 Flying Legend - movie DVD cover picture
Includes a commentary track by the filmmakers

B-17 Flying Legend is the impressively presented collector's edition DVD about the majestic series of military airplanes known as the B-17. 12,731 were built; over 4,700 were lost in combat; today only 13 still fly. An extraordinary documentary capturing the impressive history of these magnificent machines (and the courageous men who flew them across European skies during World War II), B-17 Flying Legend includes a commentary track by the filmmakers; the original 1944 "Memphis Belle" documentary; photo galleries with over 200 historical photographs; additional interviews; footage of the last flying B-17s; a B-17 virtual tour; and pilots' notes. B-17 Flying Legend is a "must" for military aviation history buffs. 211 minutes, in black-and-white - with some color footage.

Studio: Janson Video Inc
Director: Mark Feijo

DVD title: Sunset Boulevard (Special Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Sunset Boulevard (Special Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
The best story a corpse ever told!

Not without reason is this one of the greatest films of all time. Never before had anyone dared to expose the seedy, depressing underside of the Hollywood rat race and no one has come close since( with the possible exception of Robert Altman, whose film The Player makes for a great double feature). Billy Wilder's tale of a far too original for his own good, down on his luck screenwriter who finds shelter in the home and arms of a delusional, washed up silent movie queen is the kind of story Recyclewood(TM) could only dream of making these days. Everything about this film works. The dialogue is sharp, biting and often humorous. The players are all cast perfectly, whether it be Gloria Swanson's silent era goddess Norma Desmond, William Holden's disillusioned writer Joe Gillis or former silent era director Erich Von Stroheim's turn as Norma's ex-husband/butler Max. Even the bit players are brilliant. Including Cecil B. DeMille as himself and former Hollywood legends H.B. Warner, Buster Keaton and Anna Q. Nilsson as Norma's bridge cronies(aka "waxworks"). The cinematography is beautifully flawless, especially within the confines of Norma Desmond's cavernous home. And the directing, well, it's Billy Wilder and he could do no wrong. If you are thinking about a career in the glittering shark tank, this is as good a cautionary tale as you'll ever see.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Billy Wilder
William Holden
Gloria Swanson

DVD title: Enter the Dragon
Productgroup: DVD
Enter the Dragon - movie DVD cover picture
(re-release?) of an excellent title

I own the previous release (ASIN: 6304981635) which was excellent. There do not seem to be many differences between the two versions except this being a 2 disc version (the previous release was a DVD18, or dual layer / double sided disc) Or does this one really have an "All-new digital transfer"? Because the previous transfer was very nice already. Anyway, the quality of this movie, and the extra's, are a must-have.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Robert Clouse
Bruce Lee

DVD title: My So-Called Life (Complete Series)
Productgroup: DVD
My So-Called Life (Complete Series) - movie DVD cover picture
Related to my era - growing up in '60s

Very emotional for me. Great! I had a love in the '60s who wasn't very available -- I could definitely relate. Forty plus years later I still dream about him and it's still very emotional to see him at reunions. We just had our 40th reunion. I still cry after seeing him. Re: My So Called Life: I love the whole story line; it takes me back some yet I now realize that it's still the same in many ways for many young people. I really feel for young people today for I think life is really rough for a lot of you. Please love and respect yourselves and others. Let's all be on the same team. It's so difficult for 2 people to get along sometimes no wonder there's war. I pray for this to change. God Bless.

Studio: Ventura Distribution
Claire Danes

DVD title: Sesame Street Presents - Follow that Bird
Productgroup: DVD
Sesame Street Presents - Follow that Bird - movie DVD cover picture
The only Sesame Street Item I like, and REALLY enjoyed.

This movie is a great film/book. The songs are great and the story is great. My favorite character in the story is Miss Finch. She is so hilarious. It's a story about our favorite BIG Bird. He sure goes through alot of trouble from beginning to end. Your kids will love the funny T.V's Sesame street characters. Big Bird gets sent to a family of wacky birds named the DoDos. Well, that's all I can really say without ruining the story. Better buy it today. Your kids will love it, as well as you will. END

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Ken Kwapis

DVD title: Sophie's Choice
Productgroup: DVD
Sophie's Choice - movie DVD cover picture
Meryl Streep is simply exceptional

Probably everyone has seen this movie, and probably everyone knows the premise, and probably everyone knows what Sophie's choice was and why it's slowly driving her crazy. But just in case there's a viewing population who is still clueless about this movie (based on the best-selling novel by William Styron), I'm not going to say too much so as not to give it away - because I was stunned with the enormity of it when I saw the movie for the first time and don't want to ruin that potential element of horrible surprise for new viewers.Setting: Brooklyn, just after WWII.Characters: Stingo (a young idealistic writer), Sophie (a Polish war survivor of the Holocaust), and Nathan (Sophie's lover, played in his movie debut by Kevin Klein)Plot line: Something horrible happened to Sophie during her time in a Nazi concentration camp, and details are slowly revealed through a series of harrowing flashbacks.Advice: See this movie. It's one of the best ever.

Studio: Artisan Entertainment
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Meryl Streep
Kevin Kline
Peter MacNicol

DVD title: Kill Bill, Volume 2
Productgroup: DVD
Kill Bill, Volume 2 - movie DVD cover picture
Exceptional in many ways!

We're talking about Kill Bill Vol. I - As many have said, Tarantino has a unique style that most would agree is based on his play on story-line chronology. In this he is genius. The facts are that he has studied both asian martial arts movies and Japanese anime for this film, resultingin an aesthetic that is unique to western film. There are literally no slow scenes in this first film. There are so many unexpected laughs, you find yourself surprised because everything is drenched in blood. This is another device Tarantino is masterful in application: desensitization through excess. He uses ecessive blood shed to distance us from the real horror of all the murder that is taking place. We are invited into an underworld of assassins and this is their lifestyle. Because they are immune to this level of bloodshed, we, as viewers, must also become immune, and Tarantino succeeds in this. Excess in this manner works, and we can watch the film wide eyed and still root for our heroine as she slices the bad mobsters to pieces, despite the gallons of spraying blood. This, people, is worthy of many academy awards, however, Quentin will never see one for his work as long as he forces us to think outside the box, which, in this case, is inside a comic book. This is a visual masterpiece with a lot of unique psychological twists within a very familiar plot. You will learn about samuri culture and what James Bond has gone through, but has never been cleared to tell. Uma Thurman and Lucy Lu (sp?) are fantastic! There is an anime sequence mid-film that is blendedinto the motion picture perfectly. Kudos. This is one to own.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Uma Thurman
David Carradine
Michael Madsen
Daryl Hannah

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