Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: They Live
Productgroup: DVD
They Live - movie DVD cover picture
Carpenter's Semiotic Masterpiece

With inventive storytelling and style, John Carpenter's They Live addresses the issue of media manipulation and semiotic deception. In his film, Carpenter allegorically depicts the power elite as a hostile alien race quartered among us. To these invaders, Earth is analogous to a developing country, another third-world. Humans are cattle, capital goods of flesh and blood. Through the subliminal seduction of electronic media, these aliens control the herd. In fact, their mind control apparatus is so effective that it veils their true appearance. They look just like you and I.

Donning a special pair of sunglasses called the "Hoffman Lens," the film's protagonist pierces the semiotic mirage and glimpses reality. Through the "Hoffman Lens," our hero discerns the brutally honest world of connotative meaning. The super models on billboards, the cigarette ads in magazines, the politicians spewing rhetoric on TV... all are but indexical signs referencing the paradigms of the elite. For instance, the restaurant advertisements, replete with their images of families enjoying high-cholesterol food, reference a single mandate of the ruling class ethos: "CONSUME." Likewise, when observed through the Hoffman Lens, the Great Seal of the dollar bill is replaced by the statement: "THIS IS YOUR GOD."

What is most elucidating, however, is the appearance of the elite when viewed through the Hoffman Lens. They are walking cadavers, the proverbial "whitewashed sepulchers" mentioned by Jesus in the Gospels. Beneath the cosmetically altered exterior is death.

That the chief means of deception is technological in nature is intentional. The word "technology" is derived from the Greek word techne, which means "craft." Moreover, the term "craft" is also associated with witchcraft or Wicca. From the term Wicca, one derives the word wicker. Examining this word a little closer, researcher Michael Hoffman (author of Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare) explains: "The word wicker has many denotations and connotations, one of which is `to bend,' as in the `bending' of reality." This is especially interesting when considering the words of Mark Pesce, co-inventor of Virtual Reality Modeling Language. Pesce writes: "The enduring archetype of techne within the pre-Modern era is magic, of an environment that conforms entirely to the will of being." Through technology, the media creates an environment that conforms entirely to the will of its masters.

The Druid magicians of antiquity used to carry wands, which were made out of "holly wood." Sound familiar? The famous Hollywood sign is but an enormous semiotic marker for an industry that specializes in illusion. Through the alchemical sorcery of electronic media, individual consciousness is immersed within a psychocognitive hive.

They Live exemplifies the underlying theme of broadcast criticism. In one scene, the main character discovers some graffiti that reads: "THEY LIVE, WE SLEEP." Indeed, those who do not engage active critical analysis while viewing electronic media are asleep. Meanwhile, a parasitic elite lives.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: John Carpenter
Roddy Piper
Keith David

DVD title: Meet The Fockers (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Meet The Fockers (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

This was a great "sequel" movie. I thought it started slow but once it developed its own plot and strayed away from the first, it was hilarious. I've never heard so many people laugh in a movie theater.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Jay Roach
Robert De Niro
Ben Stiller
Dustin Hoffman
Barbra Streisand
Blythe Danner
Teri Polo

DVD title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Fourth Season
Productgroup: DVD
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Fourth Season - movie DVD cover picture

If you ask any fan of Buffy they will either tell you that this is the worst or best season of Buffy. I've had a really love/hate realationship with this season, when i first watched it I hated it, but over the years I have grown fond of it. This is the lest dark season of the show and has the most comedy. This was the first season that did not feature David Boreanaz as Angel (except in a couple of episodes) and Charisma Charptenter as Cordelia. The episodes for this season are as follows...
- The Freshman (Buffy, Willow, and Oz start college; while Xander returns from a summer of Stripping)- Living Conditions (Buffy starts to think that her new roomate is a demon)- The Harsh Light of Day (Spike returns to Sunnydale looking the the Vampire Fountain of Youth)- Fear, Itself (A Buffy Halloween Event!)- Beer Bad (Buffy gets drunk and becomes a cave-women- Wild at Heart (Oz leaves Sunnydale to found out about werewolves)- The Initiative (Spike gets a chip in his head that makes it so he can't harm humans)- Pangs (The ghost of Indians start to attack people in Sunnydale during Thanksgiving; **DAVID BOREANAZ guest stars)- Something Blue (Buffy and Spike get Ingaged)- Hush (A group of Demons steal the vocies of everyone in Sunnydale; *NOMINTATED for a Golden Globe due to its writting)- Doomed (Another Apocalypse)- A New Man (Giles wakes up as a demon)- The I in Team (Maggie Walsh tries to kill Buffy)- Goodbye, Iowa (Buffy and Xander break into the Iniative)- This years Girl (Faith wakes up from her Comma)- Who are you (Faith and Buffy trade Bodies)- Superstar (Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan!!!)- Where the Wild things are (Rileys House puts a spell on Buffy and Riley so a ghost can take over the house)- New Moon Rising (Oz returns to Willow, but she choses to stay with Tara, and Oz leaves Sunnydale, forever...)- The Yoko Factor (Angel *GUEST STAR DAvid Boreanaz meets Riley)- Primeval (Buffy go against the seasons BIG BAD)- Restless (Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles dream about what is to come, and Buffy learns some very important lessons about being a Slayer)

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Sarah Michelle Gellar

DVD title: Dances with Wolves (Special Extended Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Dances with Wolves (Special Extended Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
I wanted to see the four hour version on DVD

I loved Dances With Wolves in both it's theatrical form, and the home video special edition which included footage originally cut by Costner for time. The four hour special edition showed scenes which detailed some relationships betweeen characters that to me made the movie even better. I was disappointed to say the least when I learned that the dvd did not contain this footage.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner
Mary McDonnell
Graham Greene (II)

DVD title: South Park - Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Productgroup: DVD
South Park - Bigger, Longer & Uncut - movie DVD cover picture
A great musical

If you don't like musicals - Don't buy this one! It's great, but not like in the show itself... I personally loved it, and have been watching it over and over again since I have it. All my friends are complaining about me humming the themes all the time. 2 thumbs up!

Studio: Paramount Studio
Director: Trey Parker
Trey Parker
Matt Stone

DVD title: Looney Tunes - Golden Collection, Volume Three
Productgroup: DVD
Looney Tunes - Golden Collection, Volume Three - movie DVD cover picture
Directors' Scorecard for collection 3

As a Bob Clampett fan, I was glad to see more of his toons added to the format that is DVD. Still not enough when compared to Jones or Freleng, but rationing seems to be the underlying thought when you think of how prolific the other directors were as opposed to Clampett, who left the studio in 1945. To see how your favorite director fared, see below:

Bob Clampett: 8 (The Film Fan, Goofy Groceries, Porky's Party, Porky in Egypt, A Gruesome Twosome, Draftee Daffy, Falling Hare, An Itch in Time)

Chuck Jones: 15 + 4 bonus (Hare Tonic, Homeless Hare, The Case of the Missing Hare, Wackiki Wabbit, Duck Rabbit Duck!, Robin Hood Daffy, Claws for Alarm, Rocket Squad, Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur, Super Rabbit, Steel Wool, No Barking, Rabbit Punch, Odor-able Kitty, To Beep or not to Beep, + The Bear that Wasn't, Point Rationing of Foods, and the Snafu toons Gas and Spies)

Friz Freleng: 12 + 1 bonus (Hare Force, A Hare Grows in Manhattan, The Wabbit Who Came to Supper, Hare Do, The Coo-Coo Nut Grove, She Was an Acrobat's Daughter, The Last Hungry Cat, I Haven't Got a Hat, Pigs is Pigs, Pigs in a Polka, Birds Anonymous, Gonzales Tamales + Snafu's Rumors)

Bob McKimson: 11 (Easter Yeggs, Acrobatty Bunny, Rebel Rabbit, Hillbilly Hare, Wideo Wabbit, The Honey-Mousers, The Mouse that Jack Built, Daffy Duck Slept Here, An Egg Scramble, The Windblown Hare, Walky Talky Hawky)

Fred "Tex" Avery: 3 (Daffy Duck in Hollywood, Thugs With Dirty Mugs, Daffy Duck and Egghead)

Frank Tashlin: 7 (Hare Remover, Porky's Road Race, The Woods are Full of Cuckoos, Speakin' of the Weather, Swooner Crooner, Porky's Romance, Porky Pig's Feat)

Arthur Davis: 2 (Bowery Bugs, Bye Bye Bluebeard)

Rudolph Ising: 2 (featured as bonuses: Sinkin' in the Bathtub, It's Got Me Again)

as well as one by Jack King (Hollywood Capers) and another by Cal Dalton/Ben Hardaway (Porky and Teabiscuit).

Studio: Warner Home Video

DVD title: Pocahontas (Disney Gold Classic Collection)
Productgroup: DVD
Pocahontas (Disney Gold Classic Collection) - movie DVD cover picture
Maybe it's just me, but...

... since I'm one of those rare people who actually loved this movie, I'd absolutely give the DVD five stars.As for the movie itself: a lot of people complain that it's very different from what sketchy historical information we have about Pocahontas herself, but if you really expect a Disney film to be a history lesson, then you've got a whole other set of problems that you should be dealing with.The character animation, backgrounds, and coloring are all gorgeous. The voices are excellent, and even if you don't like musical numbers as a rule (I sure don't) these are at least well-performed. You certainly don't get the sense that they were written so that Disney could make a few extra bucks with a pop song. The characters are wonderfully done; particularly the extras (Thomas and Nakoma in particular, as well as Kocoum, Ben, and Lon), who usually get the short end of the stick as far as development goes. Not in this movie, though. And while there *is* a talking tree, the requisite cute animal sidekicks don't talk, thank goodness.As for the DVD: the transfer is good. The extras are also fun to play with, even if there aren't many to choose from. It's definitely worth spending the extra money to get the DVD version of this movie, rather than the VHS. And for crying out loud, stop expecting "Pocahontas" to be like a documentary. This film is no worse a bastardization of the real story than "The Little Mermaid" is of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale or "Hunchback of Notre Dame" is of Hugo's novel. Enjoy it for the well-animated, romantic movie that it is.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Mel Gibson
Christian Bale
Linda Hunt

DVD title: The Insider
Productgroup: DVD
The Insider - movie DVD cover picture
Smoker? Watch it!

This is one reason you shouldn't smoke cigarettes. The other requires smellivision.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Michael Mann
Al Pacino
Russell Crowe

DVD title: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Productgroup: DVD
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - movie DVD cover picture
One scary film.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre was for the 70's what Blair Witch Project was for the 90's. A low budget Hoax that did not prduce very good thrills and even less chills.
The idea behind Texas Chainsaw is that a group of teens are traveling across Texas when theypick up a hitchhiker who looks a little crazed. WHen he starts doing some strange things (Such as cutting himself with a razor) they throw him out. Later they come upon an abandoned house and while exploring they discover a cabin further down the road. This is where we meet LEather Face (who is dressed up as woman) and he immediatly dispatches of a number of them. In the end one girl survives his twisted family and as she tries to escape she is pursued by Leather Face and his kin.
This movie by today's standards is not very good. True when it gets towards the end it is relentless but so was Blair Witch. Unfortunatly with this movie the gore is lackluster, the acting is poor, and the whole thing led to an hour and a half of pure boredom. I shall pass on this one.

Studio: Pioneer Video
Director: Tobe Hooper
Marilyn Burns
Edwin Neal

DVD title: Holes (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Holes (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
This is a great movie!

When Stanley Yelnats IV (played by Shia LaBeouf of "Even Stevens") is struck in the head by a pair of dropped shoes, and is subsequently tried for stealing them, his family is not surprised. The family has been cursed by bad luck, since Stanley's great grandfather (Stanley Yelnats I) failed to fulfill his end of an agreement with a gypsy (Eartha Kitt!). And so, Stanley finds himself whisked off to a juvenile corrections camp, where the young inmates spend their days digging holes - 5' diameter, 5' deep holes.
There's something awfully strange going on here. The warden (Sigourney Weaver) and her goons are looking for something, something that they dare not reveal. But, what is it? Ah, destiny is at work here and curses upon curses, and only one Stanley Yelnats can set things right! [Color, released in 2003, with a running time of 1 hour, 57 minutes.]
I must admit that when my kids wanted to see this movie in the theatre, I was more than happy to send them off with a cousin, as the movie did not look interesting to me. Well, I sure am kicking myself now! This is a great movie!
I loved the story of this movie, which seemed complicated at first, involving as it does so many flashbacks, but quickly sorted itself into a pattern which brought the story along quite nicely. Also, the anti-racism subplot was very well designed. I enjoyed the acting ability demonstrated in the movie (and now think that Shia LaBeouf has quite a future ahead of him!). And, I enjoyed the scenery. Overall, I must say that this is one fine movie, mainly designed for youngsters, but a great movie for adults, too.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Director: Andrew Davis
Sigourney Weaver
Jon Voight
Shia LaBeouf

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