Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Fawlty Towers - The Complete Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Fawlty Towers - The Complete Collection - movie DVD cover picture

I have watched every Faulty Towers episode countless times and know many of the infamous catchphrases off by heart. It astounds me that the this series isn't yet available on DVD. This is one of the greatest comedies ever made and it deserves to be remastered in a way that enhances the sound and vision. The BBC is not fully utilising or capitalising on their vast catalogue. I am sick of the second rate sound and vision of tape and have been waiting "as long as the emperor hadrian" for this series to be released on DVD.

Studio: BBC
Fawlty Towers
John Cleese

DVD title: One Hour Photo (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
One Hour Photo (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Robin Williams can pull off anything

If you haven't seen ONE HOUR PHOTO, you are missing Robin Williams' strongest dramatic performance ever. I'm not exaggerating when I say it is a genuine if not disturbing character he portrays in Sal The Photo Guy. Williams doesn't overplay or underplay his character's pathetically lonely life and his desire to connect with an attractive and well-off suburban family of 3.
Not only is Williams' performance worth noting, but the production and art direction are very important to the film's overall look and feel. The discount store where Sal works is bathed in glaring white light, and Sal's uniform is a drab, beige uniform that only highlights the perception that Sal is really invisible to the community at large. He's just another clerk in just another big-box store in big-city America. His apartment is mostly drab as well in its lack of decoration and color. This in stark contrast to the rich colors of the suburban family's home and their very busy daily lives.
ONE HOUR PHOTO is not only making a statement about modern morals. It is making an even stronger statement on the state of modern American society that has fragmented and isolated its citizens to a greater degree than we could have ever expected.
I walked away from the film feeling sympathy and even more so, great sadness and pity for Sal's character. While his actions and motives are wrong, it is hard not to feel that he is trapped in his very lonely universe with no one to care about him.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Mark Romanek
Robin Williams
Connie Nielsen
Michael Vartan

DVD title: Innocents with Dirty Hands
Productgroup: DVD
Innocents with Dirty Hands - movie DVD cover picture
Chabrol's sexiest film

Opening scene: Romy Schneider is sunbathing outdoors on the lush green lawn of her San Tropez estate, nude. A mans kite slowly comes to rest on Romy's back. The man approaches and asks if he can retrieve his kite. Romy rolls over exposing herself and asks, "is there anything else you want?". So begins Claude Chabrols 1975 Innocents With Dirty Hands.
Chabrol has made lots of movies and this in my estimation is his sexiest. Usually in his late sixties and early seventies pictures Stephane Audran is Chabrol's star and she is beautiful but also icy cold. Audran seems encased in her beauty and expresses very little in the way of emotion. It is nice to see an actress in a Chabrol film who express as much emotion and sensuality as Romy Schneider and there are lots of different kinds of emotions and sensuality to be expressed in Innocents. As to be expected in a Chabrol film the plot involves infidelity and murder but unlike many of Chabrols other treatments of his pet themes this film has some real heat. Chabrol loves to film the decadence of the rich as they enjoy their leisures and pleasures and San Tropez provides the perfect setting for this story of the idle rich playing dangerous games. Hitchcock is always mentioned in the same breath as Chabrol but Chabrol subverts Hitchcock as much as he borrows from him. In Hitchcock no matter how complicated things got there was always a comfortable resolution. In Chabrol complications do not work themselves out so neatly. Things get tangled and they remain tangled. In Chabrol's world everyone is a fallen creature, each character just realizes it in a different way and at a different time. Romy Schneider appears in one striking outfit after another, including one scene in a very cool caftan, another in black silk with cascades of diamonds. Her sensuality seems luxurious and this is a woman who basks in the glow of her luxury. Two men want her bad enough to kill, her husband played by Rod Steiger and the kite flying writer who lives next door. One plot gives way to another as each character tries to gain the upper hand. I've seen maybe 20 Chabrol fims and this one I would place very near the top of the list. The acting is tremendous by the main three characters and by the minor characters as well, ie the police detectives(great duo of detectives) and lawyer(great actor, Jean Rochefort). The ending as always with Chabrol is unexpected. A very sexy and very satisfying film which will please the most discerning filmgoer and delight anyone who already considers themselves a Chabrol fan. Also recommeded by Chabrol: La Ceremonie, Wedding in Blood, Le Boucher, The Unfaithful Woman(Le Femme Infidele), Cry of the Owl & This Man Must Die.

Studio: Pathfinder Home Ente
Director: Claude Chabrol

DVD title: Batman
Productgroup: DVD
Batman - movie DVD cover picture
Tim Burton Brings the Dark Knight Detective to Life

It was nothing less than pure genius of Tim Burton to give the cartoonish image of Batman a 180 degree transmutation. Gone are the campy elements perpetuated by the 1960's television series. Burton's film noir-like vision of the DC Comic is intensely stylish and dark, putting the Gothic into Gotham.
"Batman" opens with a nihilistic, almost surreal depiction of Gotham City. In a city governed by violence and corruption, the mayor is struggling to restore confidence in the denizens before Gotham's 200th anniversary celebration takes place. Meanwhile, a mysterious vigilante dressed as a bat is executing his own war on crime. When the psychotic gangster, Jack Napier, is cozened into burglarizing a chemical factory, the Caped Crusader gives him an appointment with a vat of chemicals that transforms him into the Joker, an eternally simpering clown who hatches an insidious plot against the citizens of Gotham city. Action-packed entertainment ensues.
Tim Burton balances the dark tone of the film with just the right amount of tongue in cheek, as evident in several bitingly witty scenes. Michael Keaton's cleverly eccentric portrayal of Batman/Bruce Wayne imbues the character with as much dimensionality as it can bare. Jack Nicholson's sardonic performance as the maniacal Joker is simply brilliant. There are also several other superb performances including Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon, and Michael Gough as Bruce Wayne's genteel butler, Alfred. Danny Elfman's supremely original and stylish score is a classic, fitting the Gothic mood of the film like a well-tailored suit. Along with an engaging story and colorful characters, "Batman" is replete with astonishing eye candy and clever tricks like the sleek-looking Batmobille, and the Baterang. "Where does he get those wonderful toys?" The Batwing is one of the most spectacular contraptions (contraption is misnomer) ever to streak across the silver screen. The action scenes are expertly choreographed and entertaining. And the climactic battle between Batman and The Joker in the Gotham City Cathedral is a satisfying finish. This is the way to make a film based on a comic book!

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Tim Burton
Michael Keaton
Jack Nicholson

DVD title: The Red Violin
Productgroup: DVD
The Red Violin - movie DVD cover picture
Beautiful, charming, intelligent, brilliant

A pregnant woman anxious about her labor; a fortune teller; a husband who makes violins. These three simple characters at the beginning of this film (who appear in brief scenes throughout to continually show the dependence of the present time on the past) introduce the tale of a compelling red violin that travels through centuries and around the world. The violin is the star of the film, as is its fascination for those who can appreciate its beauty. The violin is beloved, inspiring, even dangerous. Vignettes show the course of the violin through several owners' lives (and deaths) as well as the circumstances as it changes hands and locations, all done flawlessly and gracefully. Finally, the violin appears at Duval's, an auction house, where it is destined to be sold to a man who has fame and money but is shown to be one who has no appreciation for it. The film is brilliant -- each vignette is personalized and well-developed, whether it be in Vienna among kings or communist China, where it could be destroyed for cultural progress. The story is exciting, conveying the obsessions with the violin, finally revealing it's secrets (although you may have guessed them long before the film gets to this part). Samuel L. Jackson is superb as the often irate but compassionate perfectionist who falls in love with the violin when he first sees it. Throughout his section of the film, you are tensed, waiting to see if he'll do right by the violin or sacrifice his adoration to his ethics. A very intelligent, involving film. If you're into Julia-Roberts-type fluff or blockbuster violence, please stay away, but if you love classical music and enjoy a good story, do not miss this film. I'd say it was the best I'd seen in years.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Fran├žois Girard
Carlo Cecchi
Jean-Luc Bideau
Christoph Koncz

DVD title: King Arthur (PG-13 Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
King Arthur (PG-13 Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Best film of 2004 - 4.5 stars (not an option here)

Quite simply, I found this movie to be the best film of 2004. Now, that is a significant claim, considering it was up against Spiderman 2 and the various Academy Awards-type fare that the self-proclaimed Hollywood elitist critics support.

This rendition of King Arthur was like a breath of fresh air. I remember when I started watching it for the first time (I did not see it in the theaters). My initial thought was, "What in the heck is this?" I, too, have only known the more popular version of King Arthur. Then I got drawn into the movie. I found the action to be very entertaining, and I liked the conflict that Arthur felt and was portrayed on screen. I thought the whole Guinevere thing was a little too hokey, and the movie actually would have been better had her "warrior princess" role been removed. The battle on the ice was great! Finally, the musical score is outstanding, and sounds really great when it is pumped through my home entertainment system.

Summed up, King Arthur is one of only two movies released in 2004 that I have no problems watching over and over, again.

Studio: Buena Vista Home Vid
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Clive Owen
Keira Knightley
Stephen Dillane

DVD title: Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Warning-- this is Myers' movie, not Seuss's

I just saw the new, updated version of "Cat in the Hat". Silly? Yup. Crazy? Of course. But if you think about it, we all need a bit of controlled insanity in our lives, right?

One thing, though-- Mike Myers has made this *his* movie, so don't expect the nice, clean movie short from years ago. Rather, think of this film as a 90-minute series of little fart jokes, all wound up, stretched, folded, spindled, mutilated and spewed all over your nice clean walls to make one BIG fart joke (think of the old show "Double Dare" on acid).

Kids might not get all the jokes in this movie, but those they will get are tasteless, silly, occasionally unwholesome-- and a HECK of a lot of fun.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Bo Welch
Mike Myers
Dakota Fanning
Spencer Breslin

DVD title: Under the Gun
Productgroup: DVD
Under the Gun - movie DVD cover picture
"Under the Gun" is On Target!

As Frank Torrence, Richard Norton delivers a knock-out performance as a hero seeking redemption over one chaotic night.He's a former pro-hockey icon reduced by scandal to running abar where his sense of loyalty to former teammates and friendssets him up for another fall. An adversarial cop on the police force would love to make Frank his next high-profile arrest. Bagsof drugs begin to appear mysteriously in the bar. Frank must discover who is betraying him on the "inside" while he attemptsto sell the saloon and make good on his promise to his wife toget rid of the business and start their lives anew. Crispdialogue and Norton's unrelenting brand of intelligent actionmake "Gun" a movie to target for your collection.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Matthew George

DVD title: Cold Mountain
Productgroup: DVD
Cold Mountain - movie DVD cover picture
not just a love story

I read these reviews before I saw the movie, and one reviewer mentioned that the movie was haunting. That is true, I find myself still thinking about it after several days. Several reviewers mentioned the difficulty in believing the love story because Ada and Inman "barely knew each other." That might be because the characters themselves both mention how few words have passed between them. We have no trouble believing in the "love" of other movie couples who have one scene and jump into bed, why shouldn't we believe Ada and Inman? People have clung to less to get them through trials. Anyway, this movie had so much more to say-about the friendship between women, the relationships of fathers and daughters, the kindness of strangers. And perhaps most important, the pain and destruction caused by war, no matter how necessary that war may be. And the music was incredible, I bought the soundtrack and keep listening to it. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Anthony Minghella
Jude Law
Nicole Kidman
Renée Zellweger

DVD title: Frailty
Productgroup: DVD
Frailty - movie DVD cover picture
Best new release of 2002

I tend to think of _Frailty_ in much the same manner as David Lynch's _Mulholland Dr._: as a dream (or rather, a paranoid delusion) in which the subject's visionary position is never fully revealed. In some ways, though, _Frailty_ is even more deceptive. Unlike _Mulholland Dr._, which flouts the laws of cinematic realism from the start, _Frailty_ begins as a straightforward, character-driven thriller in a generally realistic mode. But a few unexpected plot twists in the final act rip away that initial veneer of realism, along with any comfort it might bring.
To see _Frailty_ is to look through the eyes of a genuine fanatic. The vision is internally cohesive, even ruthlessly logical in its way. But it bears precious little resemblance to the world we inhabit -- which, I would argue, is the point and the value of the film.

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Director: Bill Paxton
Bill Paxton
Matthew McConaughey

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Photo Release -- Servinova, a Cisco Systems Registered Partner Company Has Started Network Testing on CISCO Aironet (RedNova)
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