Film DVD related reviews


DVD title: Stevie
Productgroup: DVD
Stevie - movie DVD cover picture
Disturbing true story shows results of a troubled childhood


When I heard about this 2002 documentary by Steve James, the director who brought us "Hoop Dreams", I just had to see it. "Stevie" is a disturbing look at a tortured life of a blue-eyed blond child who had a rotten childhood and grew up to become an abuser himself. When the director was in college, he was a "big brother" to the little boy but later moved away. After ten years, he returned to meet up with Stevie, now an in his twenties. Stevie had been in every foster home in Southern Illinois and got in trouble in all of them. When we meet him, he is living with his step-grandmother, hates his mother, has had a short abusive marriage, has never held a steady job, and has a mentally retarded girlfriend.
The film follows this troubled young man for 4-1/2 years and the director cannot help but take a good hard look at his own role in the film he is making. Right in front of us we see the result of years of neglect and abuse of the boy, now a man. He's angry, abuses alcohol and is sometimes violent. The setting is rural Illinois, a place of trailer camps, fundamentalist churches, fishing creeks, white supremacist culture, pickup trucks and unemployment. With the exception of Stevie's half-sister, who has a happy marriage and eventually has a baby, most of the people are sad and angry. It is not a pretty place to live.
The film is 145 minutes long but it never lags. I was completely caught up in Stevie's life, my feelings ranging from pity to anger as it gradually became quite clear that Stevie's character was set for life and that there would be little, if any change. When he is charged with a crime, we see him fighting the justice system. Eventually, he loses. This is not surprising.
If this were fiction, there would be some sort of contrived ending. But this is a documentary and all it does is tell the truth. I loved this fine film. It's full of honesty and courage. And I applaud the filmmaker for making it. I highly recommended it. But be prepared to plunge into Stevie's troubled world.

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Director: Steve James (II)
Actors:
Steve James (II)
Stephen Fielding
Tonya Gregory




DVD title: Benji
Productgroup: DVD
Benji - movie DVD cover picture
An Old Time Comfort


I grew up watching this movie. And as long as I can remember, it has given me such a comfort throughout my trials medically and emotionally as a child. Although some of the content may "scare" young children, it had more of a positive effect on me. All kids are different so I would reccomend that the parent or guardian watch the movie first before you let your child.

Anyway, watch the movie with an open mind and let you decide yourself if it's worth seeing again. :)

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Joe Camp
Actors:
Peter Breck
Deborah Walley




DVD title: Life Is Beautiful
Productgroup: DVD
Life Is Beautiful - movie DVD cover picture
Phenomenal story of hope and courage!


Comparing "Life is Beautiful" to "Hogan's Heroes", as some have done in these reviews, requires a big stretch of the imagination. Personally, I find these one-star reviews to be indicative of contempt, a desire to NOT like this movie, maybe even before it's watched. Some of the comments in the 5-star reviews also seem a tad over-enthusiastic to me. Obviously, movie hype causes some people to backlash against it even as others embrace it completely.
In any case, it is NOT "Hogan's Heroes"; there aren't any snappy sitcom one-liners, the Nazi's aren't played as laughable buffoons, and Holocaust victims aren't portrayed as happy, peppy people who feel just fine in their current situation and surroundings. Certainly, they're not made fun of, and the horrors of the Holocaust always loom under the surface of the story, contrary to other claims that they're downplayed. You don't need gore a la' Private Ryan in order to show that war (and consequences thereof) are hell.
What we do have in "Life is Beautiful" (if taken at face value and not overreacted to) is a very unique, funny, and touching film. The humor is solely based on the character of Guido, and on the elaborate lies he cooks up to protect his young son from the truth of their situation. However, there is ALWAYS an underlying sense of fear and risk--Guido isn't at all unconcerned about their true situation. The only criticism I have is that the concentration camp set was too small and unconvincing. It looked more like (and probably was) an abandoned factory complex. I understand that it was all the filmmakers needed to fit the scope of the movie, but still, to me, this was somewhat distracting.
I highly recommend this movie--you won't see anything like it come out of Hollywood, at least for a while.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Roberto Benigni
Actors:
Roberto Benigni
Nicoletta Braschi




DVD title: Life Is Beautiful
Productgroup: DVD
Life Is Beautiful - movie DVD cover picture
Finding a meaning independent of the horror


This visually stunning film does something quite interesting, and even refreshing, which hasn't seemed to have cropped up in cinema as of late: Benigni takes the setting of Europe in the grips of World War II, and uses the stark contrast of blind and outrageous hatred against the love and eternally solid bonds of family. This is not a film about the Holocaust, and thankfully so. Benigni does not bother to tackle questions like, "Why?" or "How?" but rather eliminates any attempts to be analytical or preachy: the viewers are left feeling redeemed, and more aware of the love they have in their lives. Far too often, movies and texts about the Holocaust seem to engage in a volley of one-upmanship, in a culture bombarded by all varieties of Holocaust literature and film, we have become almost desensitized to the true nature of the event, and even more important, the bigger picture. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL doesn't attempt to grab at our sympathy for Guido, or question motives, but is a fantastic reminder that the love, bonds, and people in our lives are the most important, and that with their love and caring, even the greatest of evil can be overcome.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Roberto Benigni
Actors:
Roberto Benigni
Nicoletta Braschi




DVD title: Avengers '67: Set 1, Vol. 1
Productgroup: DVD
Avengers '67: Set 1, Vol. 1 - movie DVD cover picture
One of the best seasons for Avenger's Maniac


It's a pleasure to discover again these episodes

Studio: A & E Entertainment



DVD title: Gladiator
Productgroup: DVD
Gladiator - movie DVD cover picture
I loved this movie!


What did I expect from this movie? Great sequence, an epic, a little bit of historical background and a good fun. But nothing. The historical concept is totally misleading, Crowe's acting is obtrusive and flat, Phoenix is stereotyphed as seldom a villain is ! THis is nothing more than the old plot: "you killed my wife and my son, so I will kill you" . This is old, very old ! Of course it's abig production, so we deserved more...

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Ridley Scott
Actors:
Russell Crowe
Joaquin Phoenix
Connie Nielsen




DVD title: Punk - Attitude
Productgroup: DVD
Punk - Attitude - movie DVD cover picture
not a genre, just a feeling


Just saw the the Don Letts produced and directed film "Punk: Attitude" on The IFC channel tonight. I think it really nailed what Punk really is, while at the same time debunked and demystified what corporate media tries to tell us to believe it is. Much was left out. What do you expect for an hour and half film. Some intelligent interviews are seen in the film, namely Chrissie Hynde, Henry Rollins, and Jello Biafra. Jim Jarmusch offers some interesting viewpoints from outside the music scene. But a lot of cool information is jammed into this hour and a half. Henry, Jello, and Thurston Moore even get a little political at the end which brought a little smile of amusement to my face. I dug it. I liken it to a fabric, torn, with many disparete threads, tied together in the end, giving the semblance of a cohesive whole. A video essay if you will. Of course, the film is made up of just personal opinions. Who's to say if they are true? Who cares? But, these are the people who were there, in the middle of it, who saw it happen. Noticably missing was Lenny Kaye (who did his duty in an earlier film) and Johhny Rotten (who has had his say many times over). I think the one bit of knowledge that we can all gain from this is that Punk (whether you call it by that name or not) is that it is one of the most enduring of the rock genres. It means freedom. It spells freedom. It's about freedom. It's not about fashion or guitar volume or how fast you can play. It's an attitude.

Studio: Capital Entertainment
Director: Don Letts



DVD title: License to Drive (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
License to Drive (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
SO EXCITED!


This movie is GREAT! Definitely a "must-have" for the 80's fan! I'm so excited about this DVD release, I've been looking for this movie since forever and it was out of print, this is definitely GREAT!

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertain
Director: Greg Beeman
Actors:
Corey Haim
Corey Feldman




DVD title: Steamboy - Director's Cut (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Steamboy - Director's Cut (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
It was great.


Some of the negative reviews below are off the mark. Story was engaging and characters were interesting. Stunning animation. The best.

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Actors:
Anna Paquin
Patrick Stewart
Alfred Molina




DVD title: Notting Hill (Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Notting Hill (Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
great romantic comedy!


This movie was a surprise to me. I didn't expect to be such a good film: it's charming, funny and touching. Even Hugh Grant is acting well on this one. One of the best romantic comedies of the decade!

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Roger Michell
Actors:
Julia Roberts
Hugh Grant




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