Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Boys from Brazil
Productgroup: DVD
The Boys from Brazil - movie DVD cover picture
Exelente, una pelicula de ficción muy bien lograda

Una trama que se revela de manera gradual. Sobrevivientes del alto mando Nazi tratan de revivir la organizaci?n y clonar al m?s infame criminal de todos los tiempos: Adolfo Hitler. Ambientada en los inicios de la d?cada de los 70 esta pel?cula es una muestra de que se puede hacer ciencia ficci?n sin recurrir a los argumentos m?s trillados. Exelentes actuaciones y un argumento que refleja una real procupaci?n por caracterizar a los personajes y que sean estos y no un mont?n de efectos especiales los que maravillen al espectador.

Studio: Artisan Entertainment
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Gregory Peck
Laurence Olivier
James Mason

DVD title: Touch of Evil (Restored to Orson Welles' Vision)
Productgroup: DVD
Touch of Evil (Restored to Orson Welles' Vision) - movie DVD cover picture
Noir heaven

Poor Orson Welles. My earliest memories of the man come from the 1970s and early 1980s, roughly the last ten or so years of his life. People told me he once had Hollywood in the palm of his hand, that he was a cinematic genius, and that his tempestuous relationships with the studios ruined his career. An impressive list of information pointing to a powerful man, wouldn't you say? Sadly, I heard these things when Welles was doing wine commercials to make ends meet. "We'll sell no wine before its time" doesn't evoke visions of a cinematic genius, that's for sure. Nor did his physical presence impress me all that much. Orson Welles, according to information I have seen, weighed nearly 350 pounds at one point and remained severely obese until the end of his life. I'm not knocking on people with weight problems, but it's just another example of how difficult it was for me to imagine the man as a Hollywood heavyweight (no pun intended). Then I grew up and watched some of his classic films, i.e. "The Third Man," "Citizen Kane," and his spirited noir epic "Touch of Evil." The glowing accolades started making a lot more sense. No wonder filmgoers love this guy's films. They're masterpieces in every way. Well, most ways.

"Touch of Evil" is a story about corruption, murder, and drugs--made in the 1950s! The opening scene, considered a masterpiece of pacing and suspense, sets the wheels of the tale into motion. Mexican narcotics cop Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) and his newlywed wife Susie (Janet Leigh) nearly perish while crossing from Mexico into the United States when an automobile explodes nearby. Two people die in the blast, which immediately piques Vargas's interest. It soon becomes apparent to the investigators that someone planted a bomb in the car, and the Mexican cop wants to know why. Unfortunately, Captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) arrives on the scene and begins bullying everyone in sight. He's going to take charge of this inquiry, and he doesn't want Mike Vargas anywhere near the scene of the crime. But Vargas, with the innate curiosity of a cop, refuses to back down and inserts himself into the unfolding case whenever possible. No one wants him around, not Quinlan, not Quinlan's sidekick Menzies (Joseph Calleia), and definitely not the district attorney Adair (Ray Collins). Vargas soon learns why Quinlan and his associates don't want him around: good old Hank is as corrupt as they come, and he wants no interference in his various activities.

Meanwhile, Susan Vargas runs into troubles of her own. A mobster named Gardi (Akim Tamiroff) and a gang of drug-addled thugs start shadowing her. In an effort to keep his wife out of sight, Vargas drops her off at a remote motel run by a really odd chap (Dennis Weaver). It isn't too long before the gang locates Susan and begins a campaign of terror that practically gives her a nervous breakdown. As Susan attempts to contact her husband, Mike and Quinlan continue their clashes. Hank always seems to have these "hunches" about the bombing which, with the discreet planting of evidence, turns up leads and suspects. In no time at all, Quinlan pronounces the case closed. But he plans on going further than merely planting evidence if Vargas refuses to back off. Another murder or two isn't out of the question, something the Mexican cop gradually learns. Vargas approaches Menzies with evidence about Quinlan's rampant corruption, corruption the scope of which is substantial and has gone on for years, and manages to convince the American cop to wear a bug during a conversation with his boss. The conclusion to the film is definitely a showdown between two men as much as it is a showdown between two types of cops.

What's not to like in "Touch of Evil"? I thought the whole Susan subplot wasn't nearly as interesting as the battle of wills between Quinlan and Vargas. I also thought the scenes with her at the hotel ran on for a lot longer than necessary. But those are the only problems I saw. Everything else is fantastic. For example, Charlton Heston restrains himself in the role of Vargas, a stunning revelation considering his over the top histrionics in nearly every film he made after this one. Marlene Dietrich even turns up in a small but crucial role as Tanya, the owner of an establishment once frequented by Quinlan. But the real treasure here is Welles as Hank Quinlan. He steals every single scene he's in with his mumbled ramblings, slovenly appearance, and wonderful dialogue. If you took out every other scene except the ones Welles appears in, this would still be a great movie. I enjoyed watching him so much I nearly missed the phenomenal pacing and camera work. That opening scene is as great as they say it is, with a tension so palpable you can cut it with a knife. Yes sir, "Touch of Evil" is much better than my meager review can ever hope to convey.

The DVD I watched is the restored version of the film. Apparently, studio executives weren't very happy with Welles's finished product so they mucked around with it. For instance, they put the opening credits over the wonderful opening scene. Welles didn't care for the hack job, and responded to the cuts with a fifty-eight page letter meticulously outlining how the film should look and sound. Unimpressed, the studio retained the cuts and released the film in a way that hurt its reception by the public. Welles never directed another film in Hollywood again. The Welles memo is on the DVD, along with production notes, a trailer, cast biographies, and trailers for "Psycho" and "Vertigo." If you love movies, you'll love "Touch of Evil."

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Orson Welles
Orson Welles
Charlton Heston
Janet Leigh

DVD title: Malcolm in the Middle - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Malcolm in the Middle - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
Really Funny

The first season for Malcolm in the Middle was decidedly the best--when the boys where young enough so that the things they did were cute rather than delinquency, and when there were interesting concepts to explore.
And explore them they did. The expanded "Pilot" is classic comedy TV. (though it is a pity they don't give us the pilot as aired, for comparison) "Red Dress" shows us that Lois is capable of being played as being more than a harridan. And "Krelboyne Picnic", one of the few episodes beyond the pilot to really use Malcolm's genius for plot purposes, is hysterical while defying political correctness at every turn.
Of the added features, the director's commentary is the most useful. It isn't always just the director, the actors are given their shot at talking to us, as well. It is at least amusing, and often instructive, to listen. For example, the thick body hair on Brian Cranston in the pilot was yak hair, and he met the boys while wearing only a sock (er, in a strategic position, not on the foot).
These DVDs are further evidence that TV show producers are seeing DVDs as the means by which their works are going down to posterity, and they are giving us their best.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Frankie Muniz

DVD title: Vampires
Productgroup: DVD
Vampires - movie DVD cover picture
A great movie!

What stunned me the most in Vampires was the ability of some individuals to act. Those of you who saw Hollow Point, try to imagine Thomas Ian Griffith as a complete opposite personality. He's evil and ruthless as he plays Valek. In my opinion, John Carpenter couldn't have chosen a better person for this role. Same goes for James Woods. The movie itself is well planned out and well made. Thumbs up, get this one!

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: John Carpenter
James Woods
Daniel Baldwin

DVD title: Mulholland Drive
Productgroup: DVD
Mulholland Drive - movie DVD cover picture

The term, Post-Modern, is often misused or overused. In this case it is right on the mark. Lynch has created a post-modern masterpiece. This film relates to Gilles Deleuze's post-modern concept of the Rhizome. "A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing. Where are you coming from? What are you heading for? These are totally useless questions. Making a clean slate, starting or beginning again from ground zero, seeking a beginning or a foundation - all imply a false conception of voyage and movement (a conception that is methodical, pedagogical, initiatory, symbolic...)." ('A Thousand Plateaus,' written by: Deleuze + Guattari) Lynch fabricated characters that were coming and going, rather than starting and finishing.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: David Lynch
Laura Harring
Justin Theroux

DVD title: L.A. Confidential
Productgroup: DVD
L.A. Confidential - movie DVD cover picture
Great movie, Nice finish

Seeing this movie after Gladiator, it is easy to see where the choice of Russell Crow for that role was made. Pugilistic, doesn't even come close to his character here. Hit first, ask questions later!
This was a well done movie, each character was well developed. You could see how they each clicked and interacted, who liked who, why and why not. Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger and James Cromwell do a masterful job fleshing out their respective characters. The script they had to work with was excellent as well.
The action was fast and you had to pay attention and recall the situations and information you heard before. One scene was a complete surprise to my fellow movie watchers, but did not surprise me, because I thought the line of questioning & facts at hand peculiar and pointed to a certain end. See if you will too.
This movie is set in the late 40s or early 50s, in L. A. and highlights the sordid actions on of the police department. At that time, the mob had just lost a boss and there were quite a few things going on that the police force was called in for. Not the least of which was as consultants for the movies.
You see three ways of dealing with police work. One way through Guy Pearce's character (Ed Exley), who looks all moral high road, but explicitly for the purposes of advancing his career. Then there is Kevin Spacey's character Jack Vincennes, that is the department's link to the Hollywood movie sets and the shoot em up gangster versus police movies of the time. He's in it for the glamour and the payouts. And then finally Russell Crowe's character who, is an avid wife-beater pursuer, but will do anything his boss tells him too. Also he will think nothing about acting as judge and jury and executioner if he thinks it's justified. Put these three together in one department where James Cromwell's character Dudley Smith is the chief of the department and there is bound to be an interesting time. This chief knows how to use all of them to his ends, from his movie connections, his strong arm and the people he makes visible to the community. It is amazing the balancing act that must be done.
If you like an involved drama that keeps you intrigued, this is it.
The physical violence is limited to shooting and fighting. The sex scenes are implied, but one is somewhat violent. The only nudity is at a distance and very brief. Due to the violence and the cops portrayed negatively, I would not recommend this movie for children.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Curtis Hanson
Kevin Spacey
Russell Crowe
Guy Pearce
Kim Basinger

DVD title: Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie
Productgroup: DVD
Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie - movie DVD cover picture
The funniest stand up movie ever!

This is definitely the funniest stabnd up DVD ever.Also,there are no swear words,so almost any English-speaking person can watch this!There is very mild crude humor,but not enough to not let a kid watch this.Here is my review of each comedian here:Ron White starts this show. he jokes about advertising,tubing,and advertising.He is my third favorite on here.Larry The Cable Guy continues this show.He has a very thick Southern accent.Most of his routine is about women.Here is is funniest joke:
"I once dated a girl who had nine earrings in this ear,seven in this ear,a ring in her nose and a bolt in her tongue.It felt like making love and working on my truck at the same time.I didn't know if I should kiss her or adjust the torque in her buttcrack.He is deinitely my second favorite on here.Bill Engvall is next.He is nowhere near as funny as the other three.Most of his routine is about his family,mainly his sixteen year old daughter.I thought his routine was too long.Jeff Foxworthy closes this show.He talks about the words rednecks use,women and tells a story about a guy he met in Atlanta whose wife's brother got his nipple bitten off by a live beaver.("That mus have been the first time that the words "Beaver" and "Nipple" could be said in the same headline without offending anybody".)He is defintely my favorite on here.At the end,they all get together.Ron White and Larry The Cable Guy tell stories,Bill Engvall tells some "Here's your Sign" jokes,("My car started overheating and a guy asked me "Did your car breakdown"?I said,"It wanted a cigarette,so I gave it one".),and Jeff Foxworthy tells some "You Might Be A Redneck If... jokes.The funniest one is:"If you've ever stared at a bottle of orange juice because it said concentrate,you might be a redneck.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: C.B. Harding
Jeff Foxworthy
Bill Engvall
Ron White
Larry The Cable Guy

DVD title: The Simpsons - The Complete Third Season
Productgroup: DVD
The Simpsons - The Complete Third Season - movie DVD cover picture
Pure animated genius

The third season of the Simpsons begins with Homer taking a trip to a mental institution, and ending up being roomed with an overweight, white man claiming to be Michael Jackson (voiced by Jackson himself who is uncredited). This Simpsons classic is followed by equally classic episodes as well, as Matt Groening's animated Springfield family finds themselves in all kinds of high jinks and chaos. Kindly-dindly neighbor Ned Flanders opens a store catering to left-handed people, Bart stumbles onto a mob front which he takes an after school job with, and later he and Lisa help Krusty the Clown seek a reunion with his estranged rabbi father. There are other gems here as well, including Bart faking a little boy trapped in a well (and later he himself becomes trapped in an effort to weasel out of his prank), there is another flashback episode as we learn what led to Homer and Marge getting married, Homer's evil boss Mr. Burns equips the Power Plant baseball team with plenty of All-Star players, Marge needs a vacation, bus driver Otto loses his job and moves in with the Simpsons, Homer's half brother Herb (voiced by Danny DeVito) returns looking to reclaim his fortune, and the nefarious Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer) returns as well, with a devious plot up his sleeve. The Halloween Special of this season is also a gem, beginning with Homer, Lisa, and Bart eating too much candy, which leads to some unbelievably hilarious results. The third season of the Simpsons saw Fox's first animated family skewing pop culture with great blasts of comic irreverence, and at the time, it was the best season of the show yet. As before, creator Matt Groening offers a colorful commentary on every episode, which is worth the price of admission alone.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Dan Castellaneta

DVD title: Singin' in the Rain
Productgroup: DVD
Singin' in the Rain - movie DVD cover picture
Greatest Musical Ever? - Gimme a Break!

Aficionados of Singing in the Rain have never quite gotten over the fact that their favourite film only received two (failed) Oscar nominations in 1952, whereas the previous year An American in Paris walked away with five Oscars, in the face of much more formidable competition (by 1952 the House of Un-American Activities had managed to blacklist many of Hollywood's most talented screenwriters). Ever since, this cabal has been fighting this perceived "injustice", mainly by trumpeting the shortcomings of An American in Paris. Since Singing in the Rain is one of those "insider" flicks (a Hollywood film about Hollywood), many of it's most fervent supporters are people with real Hollywood connections who can identify strongly with the storyline. And of course if you shout hard long enough, people will eventually listen, so that now all this hocus pocus about "The Greatest Musical of All Time" has become a bit of revealed wisdom and fact.Don't get me wrong. Singing in the Rain is a great musical with an engaging plot and still provides wallops of entertainment. But as an artistic achievement, it never quite reaches the dizzy heights of an American in Paris. The songs composed by Nacio Brown and Arthur Freed are real swell, but not in the same league as the Gershwins. I suppose Debbie Reynolds is about as American as apple pie, but she is no Leslie Caron when it comes to dancing skill and all around sex appeal. The directing team of Kelly and Donen do an admirable job, but neither can match the artistic sensibility of Vincente Minnelli (by far the greatest director of musicals of all time).Compared to Minnelli, the composition of Kelly/Donen's camera shots have a "boxy" quality to them.Singing in the Rain is above all a testimonial to Arthur Freed, who also produced this film along with most of the finest film musicals of that era. As the years pass by, he has become almost a god-like figure in Hollywood lore, especially in light of all the trash masquerading as cinema that is churned out these days. That a musical such as Chicago can actually walk away with a Best Picture award is testimony to the depths we have sunk to since the Freed era.The 2 box DVD set is an absolute delight and will give every fan of this great film reason to smile. After viewing, I deeply regretted not being born 25 years earlier.

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Gene Kelly
Donald O'Connor
Debbie Reynolds

DVD title: Brotherhood of the Wolf
Productgroup: DVD
Brotherhood of the Wolf - movie DVD cover picture
Great Extras

This is the definitive collector's edition. Three DVDs, packed with extras, making of, uncut version (over 8 minutes longer). It is a very good movie with excellent photography and ambience. It is a very different style compared to what hollywood usually spoon feeds to their audiences, and I loved its mixture of genre.

Studio: Msi Music Corp
Samuel Le Bihan

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