Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Day the Earth Stood Still
Productgroup: DVD
The Day the Earth Stood Still - movie DVD cover picture

This movie is clearly one of the best of all time. If anyone finds it boring it is because you are boring. This is not to put anyone down. It is just a statement of fact. Consider this:You find this movie boring because it does not amuse you or keep you entertained. Does this not suggest something to you?You need someone else to give you thoughts to think or emotions to feel, you need someone to tell you what to feel and how to do it. Sad really, isn't it?This movie does not work for you because it makes you think on your own. I have been thinking about this movie for many years and I have loved it for many years. The understated yet powerful scenes are really quite fantastic. It is the simplicity that makes it so complex. Figure that one out? :-)

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Robert Wise
Michael Rennie
Patricia Neal

DVD title: Once Upon a Time in America (Limited Edition Collector's Set)
Productgroup: DVD
Once Upon a Time in America  (Limited Edition Collector's Set) - movie DVD cover picture

A great film with great actors from a wizard director. The last masterpeace about amirica in an european it!

Studio: Creative Design Art,
Director: Sergio Leone
Robert De Niro
James Woods

DVD title: Iron & Silk
Productgroup: DVD
Iron & Silk - movie DVD cover picture
great read

In 30 short anecdotes, Mark Salzman gives a compassionate and humorous account of teaching English and studying martial arts in Changsha, a provincial capital in central China shortly after the opening of the country in the early 1980s. Changsha has the reputation that "there is nothing to do, nothing to buy, the people have no manners, the food is terrible and their dialect sounds awful" - so the book might have become very different from what it is: insightful, very funny, and full of respect for the often strange customs of traditional Chinese culture. In the best manner of innocents abroad, Mark Salzman knows how to make fun of his blunders in a very charming way. He conveys his sense of wonder beautifully, and does not pass judgment on anything he witnesses. Unlike many other authors who write about China, he is able to appreciate traditional Chinese forms of expression and self-mastery like martial arts (wushu) and calligraphy on their own terms. In his anecdotes he catches the essence of these arts: dedication, commitment, respect. "No matter what the quality of brush or paper," explains his calligraphy teacher, "one should always treat them as if they were priceless."
What Mark Salzman wrote about China some 15 years ago is not dated in many ways. Strange ideas are still being trumpeted as truths, and bureaucrats still like to harass foreigners (although humiliating unwitting foreigners is not "something of a popular sport in China" anymore; today it may even happen that a young female police officer at a police station first lectures you for half an hour on a minor transgression, but asks you out for a date right after she is finished).
Mark Salzman has a wonderful, gentle humor, and an admirable open-mindedness. He combines both to focus not on the ignorance of the people he meets, but on the insight which even ignorance can produce. There is no doubt that one little Chinese boy has no idea about the real Hong Kong, but being asked what he knew about this city, he answers "It's a big department store, isn't it?" Finally, let me say that I have never heard or read of a more charming and polite way of telling a Westerner that he has a big nose than in Mark Salzman's gem of a book: "You have a very three-dimensional face."

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Director: Shirley Sun
Mark Salzman
Qingfu Pan

DVD title: Cyclo
Productgroup: DVD
Cyclo - movie DVD cover picture
If You Liked "City of God," You'll Love Cyclo!

This movie should come with a warning cause it's simply dynamite! However, it's not for beginners. If you want to see some romanticized view of exotic beauty in foreign lands, grab some wine and your honey, and see Tran Ahn Hung's other movies, like "The Scent of Green Papaya". That movie, although dealing with serious issues, is like 'Reality Lite'. You can ignore aspects of the human experience that plague the mind of your inner insomniac. But "Cyclo" is no joke! This here is some powerful stuff. Not for beginners, this! And, what could be better than Cyclo on DVD?! I can see my favorite parts anytime and instantly transport myself to my own private VietNam. Cool.
If you are familiar with popular cinema from Asia, you know the system's are not like American movies. Often certain popular actors are routinely coupled. I find this habit refreshing, especially here. In some ways, the more films you see the more shades there are to an actors ability in the big picture. On a small scale, the film makers bank on the public seeing more films since certain famous pairings generate the feeling that the actors are like your old friends. If you don't feel manipulated by this tactic, it can be the cinematic equivalent of a fun time at an amusement park, when you're with your way-out-of-town friends, always taking different rides.
Furthermore, as far as East Asian Cinema goes, in my experience, as with all world cinema, you don't know what's it's all about until it's over. This film, like much of world cinema, is not trying to spoonfeed you. This movie gets 'heavy'. But if you stay with it, the whole of the film and the story within are very gratifying.
As far as my criteria for a good flick goes, this one meets my standard for world cinema, and far surpasses American commercial films. The editing is seemless. The actors are fluid and charismatic as always (Remember, old friends are we). The cinematography is stunning. The script has a definite feeling of realism. These characters say what they really would say (and maintain appropriate silences too), not that I know what a struggling Vietnamese escort or cabbie would say. But, dig this, a good story like this feels real, draws you in, shows you things you never saw woven into a story that holds you 'til the credits, and stays with you after, spinning in your mind in true 'twist-a plot' fashion, ya? If you let yourself into the world of these characters, alternate possibilities will come to mind when it's through.
Aside: Those of you who love Hong Kong film will enjoy seeing Tony Leung here - very believable and adorable! Secondly, and most important, DON'T EAT PORK BEFORE YOU SEE THIS MOVIE!!!! Nuff said.
I won't ruin the story by divulging any specific special parts or attributes of the film. My (somewhat pompous) point is, I saw the movie... The movie was good.

Studio: New Yorker Video
Director: Anh Hung Tran

DVD title: F for Fake - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
F for Fake - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
It should get 6 stars, if that were possible

There is no Orson Welles movie, no matter how influential and well regarded, that I love more than this master piece. This is Orson Welles at his best: just chating along in an entertaining, funny, witty, profound way, teaching you so much about himself, about humanity and about Life, as if it was just a walk in the park - he makes it look so easy to be a genius.
If I had to choose the proverbial film I would take with me to a deserted island, this would be the one. This is the guy I want to talk to forever if I'm ever allowed in whatever Paradise he's in now.
This is all anyone needs to love the movies and Orson Welles. It is the one that will convert you into thinking you can't really have one without the other.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Orson Welles
Orson Welles
Oja Kodar

DVD title: The Prisoner - Set 1: Arrival/ Free for All/ Dance of the Dead
Productgroup: DVD
The Prisoner - Set 1: Arrival/ Free for All/ Dance of the Dead - movie DVD cover picture
Thank you DVD technology!

This, along with other short series'(i.e. Fawlty Towers), is ideal for DVD since the buyer won't go broke buying just a few sets and it isn't likely that shows with a just a few episodes are going to turn up on televison very often (Police Squad comes to mind). But what do we have here in this first set of The Prisoner?
In set 1, we have the classic first episode "Arrival" in which Patrick McGoohan, playing a character known only as Number 6, awakens to find himself in a strange place--almost a vacation resort (known only as The Village) that seems to have everything that its inhabitants desire---except freedom to leave. I love the opening to each episode with the great music and on "Arrival" we're given an even longer introduction to the show that you won't see again on any of the other episodes. Why is No. 6 here? Who is in charge? These are questions that he desperately wants answers to and soon learns that he was brought there so that those in charge could find out why he resigned from some sort of government intelligence position. From the beginning, he refuses to play along and this provides the basic backdrop for every episode. His adversary (a different No. 2 in most episodes) must come up with new and persuasive ways to get that information out of him.
In the next epsiode, "Free for All", a village election is being held and many are curious to see if No. 6 is interested in participating. "Dance of the Dead" involves an eerie masquerade and criminal charges against No. 6. There are a few neat extras, including an alternate version of "The Chimes of Big Ben". The standard episode is one of the best of the series but the problem with the alternate version is poor sound and picture quality. I assume there was nothing that could have been done to improve it, otherwise they would have. There's also a large photo gallery, trivia game, and original TV trailers. Do not fail to collect every set of The Prisoner and make sure you begin here. Be seeing you.

Studio: A & E Home Video
Patrick McGoohan

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

Academy Award Winner Geoffrey Rush and Academy Award nominees Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix all turn in phenomenal performances in this film. Geoffrey Rush stars as the erotic-thinking Marquis de Sade. Never have I seen G. Rush like this!! And Kate Winslet once again proves to be a stellar actress, by turning in a great performance. In Quills, she plays a virginal laundry maid named Madeleine, who's voluptuous body and inquisitve imagination fuel the Marquis' quill tip, and provide inspiration for his seductive tales. Joaquin Phoenix portrays a young priest who is caught between his desire for Madeleine and his duty as an Abbe. All around a dark, sexy film. Not for everyone, but it definitely is worth seeing for those who enjoy films that stray from the norm.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Philip Kaufman
Geoffrey Rush
Kate Winslet
Joaquin Phoenix
Michael Caine

DVD title: Romy and Michele's High School Reunion
Productgroup: DVD
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion - movie DVD cover picture
Hilariously funny

Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow are Romy and Michelle, two ditzy blonde friends who live together in LA. When Romy runs into a high school classmate (Jeanne Garofalo, at her finest) the two women decide to attend their tenth high school reunion. Michelle and Romy decide to fabricate lives for themselves- successful careers, boyfriends, etc., to impress the people they went to high school with.

Using "like" after "like every "like" word "like," the two drive a Jaguar from LA to Arizona, reliving memories from the past- including old crushes and avoiding the "A" crowd of popular girls. While at the reunion, a lot of things (some of them improbable, to be sure) occur.

Although not of the highest calibre, this movie is extraordinarily funny, light comedy. It reminds us of what was good (or bad) about our high school years, while making us laugh at the same time about the foibles of the past.

Studio: Touchstone Video
Director: David Mirkin
Mira Sorvino
Lisa Kudrow

DVD title: Gilbert & Sullivan - The Pirates of Penzance / Kline, Ronstadt, Smith, Routledge, Delacorte Theater (Broadway Theatre Archive)
Productgroup: DVD
Gilbert & Sullivan - The Pirates of Penzance / Kline, Ronstadt, Smith, Routledge, Delacorte Theater (Broadway Theatre Archive) - movie DVD cover picture
Routledge Finally Captured

I ordered this DVD in haste, failing to notice that it is NOT the movie version I loved so well. My first clue should have been that it listed Patricia Routledge instead of Angela Lansbury in the cast. Overall the performance was fine, but the quality of the recording is abominable. Why is this Shakespeare in the Park production being marketed instead of the Hollywood version? The colors are washed out, and at times the sound is indistinct. I can only assume that the movie version of the same production is not available on DVD yet; otherwise, why would they market this grossly inferior production. George Rose, Tony Azito, Rex Smith, and Kevin Kline are outstanding in their performances, as they are in the movie. Routledge is "so-so". Linda Ronstadt is terrible. Her voice is flawed with warbling and mumbling that makes the libretto almost impossible to distinguish. The only song she performs which I understood was a puzzling rendition of "Heavy the Sorrow" from "HMS Pinafore". What is THAT doing in "Pirates"?? I can only assume that she possessed it in her high school repertoire and had begged the producers to let her sing it. Yes, I was rather disappointed with this.

Studio: Kultur

DVD title: American Pie (Widescreen Unrated Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
American Pie (Widescreen Unrated Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

There is something about this movie that immediately reminds me of Fast Times at Ridgemont High(1982, Sean Penn, et. al)...sort of a late 90's, perverted recreation of it. It blends the day-to-day culture and situations of typical American high school students with overwhelming hilarity; at the same time covering subject matter such as "commitment," "sex," and "true love." I have to say that American Pie was just a bit more hilarious than Fast Times at Ridgemont High, while at the same time putting old 80's social issues in the background (i.e. unwanted pregnancies, infidelity) and replacing it with "pseudo-serious" issues. It is a perfect reflection of direct and to-the-point 90's comedy and far-out fun.

Studio: Universal Studios
Jason Biggs
Chris Klein
Thomas Ian Nicholas

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