Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Under the Tuscan Sun (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Under the Tuscan Sun (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Escape to Tuscany

I saw this film last night, and I must say, it is one of my favourite films of 2004 already!It's a REAL girlie film (I am NOT a girl), but I still adored it.Diane Lanes character is going through a divorce, and is given a trip to Tuscany by her good friends, to help her get over the split.When she gets to Tuscany, she is immediately taken by the beauty of Italy.She reads the 'signs' early on, and on an impulse buys a Tuscan villa, which is in dire need of renovation.The rest of the story concentrates on her rebuilding her life, the people she meets, and the difficulties that that presents especially in a foreign country.This is a real feel-good film, and I loved the strength the character displayed. The film offered no surprises, you know exactly what will happen throughout, but sometimes, that's exactly the kind of film you need!A wonderful, heart warming, inspirational, touching and genuinely lovely film.(And it was a real reminder to go back to Italy soon - the filming of the scenery was stunning)
The DVD extras? Adequate; 3 deleted scenes which are always nice, and a nice documentary. HOWEVER - I found a hidden extra - and a REALLY good one it is too! Clue - its hidden on the special features page, and its a very interesting film on the making of 'Zeus' underpants (he was originally naked and they had to add pants to lower the rating - interesting!)

Studio: Buena Vista Home Vid
Director: Audrey Wells
Diane Lane
Sandra Oh
Raoul Bova

DVD title: Jerry Maguire
Productgroup: DVD
Jerry Maguire - movie DVD cover picture
Much more than just another romantic comedy

Well, I'm incredibly late to the Jerry Maguire party, but I'm glad I finally made it. I thought this was just a comedy, but I should have known better because laughs alone usually don't generate the kind of success this movie enjoyed. This is a wonderful, feel-good movie with a surprisingly effective emotional payoff. Tom Cruise is great, Cuba Gooding, Jr., steals every scene he's in, and that Renee Zellweger is nothing short of perfect. They even threw in a clip of McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O and sent me away with Bob Dylan singing over the credits - in my book, that's going above and beyond the call of duty. And I never tire of seeing someone break away from the cynicism of big business and actually put some heart back into an increasingly heartless way of life.

Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is, of course, a bigshot sports agent who has it all - then loses it all. For some inexplicable reason, he develops a conscience late one night, puts together this huge "mission statement" all about reducing the number of clients and giving those remaining the genuine personal touch, and sends it to everyone in the company. With a schlep of a boss like Bob Sugar (the always annoying Jay Mohr), his days with the company are, not surprisingly, numbered. He vows to start his own company, desperately trying to hold on to the clients he has been representing - but all he ends up taking with him are outrageous Cardinals wide receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger), an accountant who was truly inspired by what he had written. It doesn't seem like much, but he really has all he will ever need - he just doesn't realize it until the end of the movie.

Life on his own is quite a struggle, especially after he breaks up with his vicious fianc?e (Kelly Preston), and I know it must be truly demoralizing to be defeated time and time again by Jay Mohr. Rod Tidwell, a great player who doesn't get the notice (or money) he thinks he deserves, stays loyal to him, though, for rather inexplicable reasons - even after Maguire fails to get him the kind of big money he is looking for in a new contract. Dorothy also stays with him, and Maguire grows increasingly close to her and her little boy Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki). There's love in the air, and Maguire's famous problem with emotional intimacy makes what should be the simplest thing in the world immensely complicated. We see a lot of Maguire at his worst - double-crossed, drunk, beaten up, wallowing in self-pity. He never gives up, though, and that's what's important. I find it a little problematic that he did not apply the principles of his "mission statement" to the way he lived his life, but - in his defense - guys tend to be pretty dense about this kind of thing (and would that we all had a Dorothy to help us see the light).

There's a wonderful cast on display here, with uncommonly meaningful secondary characters: there's little Ray, of course, but Dorothy's bitter yet loving sister Laurel (Bonnie Hunt) and Rod Tidwell's wife Marcee (Regina King) really do lay claim to a commanding presence in the story. You can also make a little game of spotting all of the sports personalities that make cameos (usually silent ones, thankfully) in the film.

This isn't a comedy; it's a serious story that just happens to feature a lot of laughs. It's a commentary on the depersonalization of business, a complicated yet wonderfully sweet love story, and a movie with a surprisingly big heart. And I love Renee Zellweger. As far as I'm concerned, she - not Tom Cruise - was the star of this film.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Cameron Crowe
Tom Cruise
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Renée Zellweger

DVD title: Yankee Doodle Dandy (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Yankee Doodle Dandy (Two-Disc Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
A True Classic

One of my favorites of all time. As many times as I've seen it, I still get chills when Cagney tap dances down the stairs in the White House.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Michael Curtiz
James Cagney
Joan Leslie
Walter Huston

DVD title: Monster-in-Law
Productgroup: DVD
Monster-in-Law - movie DVD cover picture
Best film I'we seen in ages!

Monster-in-Law is clearly the best and most funny I'we seen in ages!

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Robert Luketic
Jennifer Lopez
Jane Fonda
Michael Vartan

DVD title: Lois & Clark - The New Adventures of Superman - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Lois & Clark - The New Adventures of Superman - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
Plea to WB

Yes, please please come out with DVD versions of L&C: The New Adventures of Superman. Although I have almost all the episodes on VHS, it's only a matter of time before the audio/video quality goes to the pits and I really enjoy watching them. Of course, I agree with Jean-Luc when he says if you're going to do it, you should do it right. Meaning they should be remixed in 5.1, digitally remastered, and, of course, have all the extras (commentaries, bloopers/outtakes, deleted scenes, as well as original TV spots/trailers) Fans truly appreciate the extras.

With the success of Smallville, Dean and Teri coming out with new series' this fall, the upcoming Superman movie and the recent death of "Superman" Christopher Reeve, maybe the studios will be convinced enough that it would be worth their time/money. I certainly think it would.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Dean Cain

DVD title: Sailor Moon R - The Movie
Productgroup: DVD
Sailor Moon R - The Movie - movie DVD cover picture
A wonderful Millennium gift from Pioneer!

Every "Sailor Moon" fan on the world MUST have this movie. No tears while watching it? -> you are not a fan. I only know 2 other movies equal to this one - the S movie and the Super S movie.

Studio: Pioneer Video
Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara

DVD title: Masters of the Country Blues - Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin' Hopkins
Productgroup: DVD
Masters of the Country Blues - Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin' Hopkins - movie DVD cover picture
A Scholarly, historical look at these Legends of the Blues

This video has clear sound and excellent black and white images of these country blues legends singing and talking at home and around their home towns in their later years. It is a very professional documentary. I f you are interested in the history of the blues and learning pickin' styles you will be very satisfied with this one!

Studio: Yazoo
Mance Lipscomb
Lightnin' Hopkins

DVD title: Airheads
Productgroup: DVD
Airheads - movie DVD cover picture
how can u pluralize 'lone ranger'?!

i still remember the first time i saw this movie, it was a regular boring saturday afternoon, and i had nothing to do so i decided to see if FOX was running a saturday afternoon movie, after all, thats how i saw 'Predator', 'Aliens', and 'Terminator 2' for the first time. anyways, i saw that this movie was called 'Airheads' and i thought to myself "what a stupid title" but then i acknowledged the likes of brendan fraser and adam sandler so then decided to watch it. and im glad that i did. this movie is hella funny! its my favorite comedy ever! and on top of that, its entertaining especially to fans of rock music. adam sandler is at the top of his game in this one. the chemistry between fraser, buscemi, and sandler is hilarious! my fav scene is the one when they make pip(sandler) go outside when the cop is standing out there, pure comedy genious. most of the movie i find myself laughing out loud, even when i watch it alone. so if u get the chance, i strongly recommend u get this movie, steal it from a friend if you have to. laterz

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Michael Lehmann
Brendan Fraser
Steve Buscemi
Adam Sandler

DVD title: The Haunting
Productgroup: DVD
The Haunting - movie DVD cover picture

The story has, by now, been imitated endlessly. Four people on a haunted house just to study it. But this is just the premisse.
The great Robert Wise sets up the most perfect, most classic haunted-house film ever made. The screenplay is built on the principle that you don't have to see it (the gore, the blood, etc.) to feel the fear. So, this is one of those great films where the tension is constructed upon the things you hear... the things you know are there.
In the pre-CGI era, you really had to create something out of what you had. So, Mr. Wise had a great script (years ahead of its time), great characters, great actors, a great cameraman, and settings that are a wow!
This is what makes this film so much better than any other (not to mention its remake - who clearly goes for the predictable cheap-trick CGI effects).
The story is told in the most perfect classic form. From beginning to end, you follow the story in the most careful pace. Beat by beat. From the prologue to the conclusion, the story is peerlessly told.
The characters and actors are great to watch: Julie Harris is the perfect troubled woman haunted by inner ghosts, while Theodora (the beautiful Claire Bloom) is the perfect icy clairvoyant who may or may not be a lesbian (everything is constructed with such taste...). Richard Johnson is great as the Doctor who must keep control of the experiment. Russ Tamblyn is also great as the non-believer who's in just for the adventure. As we will discover, all of them have weak points the house will explore. So it is possible to say that this is one film where the set (in this case the house itself) is one character just like the others.
The house has personality. It's not that unbelievable-monumental-lifeless-overdon e-cathedral we see in the remake. This one is more realistic. We all know (and are fascinated by) houses like this one. It has style, visual integrity, proportion and it also puts into the film a nice touch of claustrophobia. As long as the characters are there, they are at its mercy. This "house character" is always present. Trying to get in. Banging at the walls and doors, trying to make itself graphically visible through the shots...
...This is where we get to the camera work - certainly one of the best ever made. In a house so rich with character, the distorted wide-angle lenses (let's not forget that Wise worked with Orson Welles) add much to the final effect. Corridors, statues and other objects are always there to remind you the house is present. They actually keep surprising the characters as if they were saying "we are here". This is why this film is so much superior than its sequel: you don't have to see the statues move... for you know they do when you are not there. In fact, this film constructs a state where you know the things that happen when you don't see them happen. That's pure film magic.
I wonder why nobody does films like this any more. Why do they always go now for the CGI obviousness...
I just love the wide-angle lens that smoothly move through the rooms... the time we are allowed to see those beautiful sets. and all the uncontrolled fear that invades the characters. The soundtrack is another great element. The film is constructed in an almost silence (which is very confortable at the beginning). So much that the noises made by the hauntings are almost unbearable when the things get rough.
This is one of those films that were meant to be seen ONLY in widescreen, for the compositions inside the shots make great use of it (in fact I never saw it in a Pan&Scan version - I cannot imagine how awfull it must be). This DVD edition has a great commentary audio track by the actors and director but lacks any kind of documentary about how it was made (which I'd love to see). But we can't have it all...
If (like me), you love the genre, you will love this film, which is a one-of-a-kind effectively constructed cinematic work. Just don't watch it alone... in the dark... in the night...

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Robert Wise
Julie Harris
Claire Bloom
Richard Johnson

DVD title: Leaving Las Vegas
Productgroup: DVD
Leaving Las Vegas - movie DVD cover picture
Cage & Shue give the performances of their careers...

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Leaving Las Vegas, upon release, was praised for what a powerful film it was. I didn't watch it up until about a couple of years ago. Mainly because I'm not a Nicolas Cage fan. But this is undeniably one of the greatest performances of the 1990's. Elisabeth Shue also turns in a raving performance, as a Vegas call girl. Ben (Cage in his Oscar-winning role) is a movie executive whose also a hopeless alcoholic. After losing his job and family, Ben sets off to Las Vegas with his severance pay, to drink himself to death. Along the way he meets a beautiful call girl by the name of Sera (Shue in her Oscar-nominated role) and soon after they fall for each other. Neither one of them is ever tearing the other down for their problems and seem to find peace with one another. This movie works on many levels. The main one is the love story -- that's anything but conventional. The other is the alcohol. We watch Ben kill himself slowly with massive ammounts of alcohol-- at some point, wishing he would just say no. The same for Sera, who is a genuine character you care about, you just want her to say no. I'm hoping MGM will release a nice little 2-Disc set for this movie. Some extras would be nice -- especially some deleted scenes and maybe some behind-the-scenes. The DVD -- both sound and video wise -- is excellent, it just lacks special features. All in all, the movie is one of the best of 1995 -- considering that it was up against such greats as Braveheart and Dead Man Walking.
Leaving Las Vegas was nominated for 4 Academy Awards including:Actor In A Leading Role -- Nicolas Cage {"Ben"}Actress In A Leading Role -- Elisabeth Shue {"Sera"} Directing -- Mike FiggisBest Adapted Screenplay -- Mike Figgis

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Mike Figgis
Nicolas Cage
Elisabeth Shue

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