Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Amateur
Productgroup: DVD
Amateur - movie DVD cover picture
Finally on DVD

I saw this movie many years ago and have been waiting for it to come to DVD. This story is especially relevant today, as the country hears more and more about terrorist cells within our midst. It was interesting to see how an everyday Joe trains (Hollywood style) to become an assassin and to follow the action as he avenges his sweetheart's death.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertain
John Savage

DVD title: Frequency (New Line Platinum Series)
Productgroup: DVD
Frequency (New Line Platinum Series) - movie DVD cover picture
Suspend your disbelief and enjoy a great time travel tale

The paradoxes of time travel are enough to convince most people that it is impossible, along with warp drive, transporter beams, and lots of other staples of science fiction. Still, writers persist in telling time travel stories and we continue to enjoy them, usually because they are about something else besides time travel. The deciding factor is not the scientific logic of the method of time travel, because ultimately the rationale simply has to be plausible enough to engage our willing suspension of disbelief. There are many people who enjoyed "Somewhere in Time" and that involved Christopher Reeves' character THINKING himself back to the past. In the end all that matters are two things. First, that there is a logical consistency to the rules of the game, whatever they might be. Second, that there is an emotional payoff to the story that is told under these circumstances. This is why the "Star Trek" episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" and the very best episodes of "Quantum Leap" were so fantastic.
The script for "Frequency" written by Toby Emmerich meets both of those criteria. On the logical consistency axis the twist is to have a time travel story where nobody actually travels through time. Instead the aurora borealis allows a father, Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) and son, John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) living in the same house in Queens to talk over the same ham radio set despite the difference of thirty years. On the emotional payoff scale there is the fact that the father died thirty years ago fighting a fire and the son, who was only 6 at the time, is desperate to reach back into the past, not only to save his father's life but to stop his own life from going into the gutter. Now, that could be an entire movie right there. But for Emmerich and director Gregory Hoblit that is just the opening act of the story, because no good deed goes unpunished and if the old chestnut about stepping on a butterfly in the age of dinosaurs could chain out and change the fate of humanity you can imagine what the saving of a life accomplishes. What starts off as a science fiction/fantasy story suddenly becomes a thriller.
I thought the ways the rules of the game were exploited in "Frequency" was brilliant from a narrative standpoint. Of course if you change the past you change the future, but in "Frequency" this does not happen instantly from John's perspective. He can tell the new "memories" from the old as things change. Granted, this is a dramatic device that comes into play big time in the film's climax, but that is why the logical consistency matters more than the scientific and the ending is set up by more subtle examples of the principle at work earlier in the film. I also like the way that the 1969 World Series was used in this film (I got up in the middle of the night to listen to the games on Armed Forces Radio in Japan that year, so I have strong memories of it as well) and the way that John and his father try to figure out ways of working together to change the past so they have a future.
I never took physics, so I did not having any annoying scientific facts gnawing at my brain while enjoying this film, which may be why I had no problem seeing what happened in this movie as being logically consistent. I just understood the rules and thoroughly enjoyed the film. I thought I had the ending pegged, but was pleasantly surprised with what happened instead (however, on the audio commentary by the director Hoblit reveals that the ending he wanted to shoot was the one I envisioned). For those of little scientific faith there are a series of explanations offered on the added attractions on the disc, which includes the usually deleted and extended scenes, and three audio commentary tracks by (1) the director Hoblit, (2) the writer Toby Emmerich and his brother Noah, who plays Gordo Hersch, John's next door neighbor and best friend; and (3) composer Michael Kamen. When you do any of those be sure to turn on the trivia captions as well. This is one of those DVDs where any doubts about rating are erased by the bonus features.
Ultimately, I found "Frequency" to be almost as good as the "Leap Home" two-part episode of "Quantum Leap," the best time travel story I have ever seen. That is high praise indeed. Final Note: That was not just any episode of "Hill Street Blues" on the television that John is watching in his home early in the film but "Trial by Fury," the season premier for the show's third season. It was not only directed by Hoblit, but was the show that earned the series another Best Drama Emmy and remains one of the Top 10 television episodes I have ever seen in my life.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Dennis Quaid
James Caviezel

DVD title: Platinum Comedy Series - Dave Chappelle - Killin' Them Softly
Productgroup: DVD
Platinum Comedy Series - Dave Chappelle - Killin' Them Softly - movie DVD cover picture

If you like to laugh you should buy this DVD.

Studio: Ventura Distribution
Dave Chappelle

DVD title: Baby Dolittle - Neighborhood Animals
Productgroup: DVD
Baby Dolittle - Neighborhood Animals - movie DVD cover picture
Baby DO-LITTLE video

This video was very educational, entertaining and lots of fun. My daughter Giulianna couldn't stop giggling! She absolutely loved it!Thank you Julie Agner-Clark for all the great work you do!

Studio: Buena Vista Home Vid
Julie Aigner-Clark

DVD title: Bob the Builder - The Big Game
Productgroup: DVD
Bob the Builder - The Big Game - movie DVD cover picture
Very well done!

I think this is one of the best Bob the Builder videos we have. It's pretty funny seeing how Wendy has to come to Bob's rescue when he tries to hang wallpaper. I suppose the best part of this video is that even though Wendy is a girl, she can fix things too which I think gives confidence to girls to "try" something that just might be out of the ordinary for a girl. As the daughter of a Mr. Fixit, I have learned and used many of the things I was taught as a youngster and Wendy makes it appear to be just "normal" for girls to do these things and not weird. Life puts you in different situations and sometimes the "Barbie Princess" needs to remove her crown and pick up a toolbelt, if you know what I mean! Wendy is just as comfortable fixing cement and painting a soccer field as she is in organizing the construction office. Very well done and I highly recommend this one!

Studio: Lyrick Studios

DVD title: About a Boy (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
About a Boy (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Hate Hugh Grant? Think again.

Not since 1996, when Hugh Grant donned a doctor's jacket and turned serious in "Extreme Measures," has there ever been a picture that would allow me to accept this mannered British actor -- as being not much more than an OK leading man with floppy hair -- who would forever play the same character in one flimsy crowd-pleasing comedy after another.
Until now. "About A Boy" goes so much further to enhance Hugh Grant's career than even that "villain" he played in "Bridget Jones Diary." Hands down, this is Grant's best career performance. Though his high English accent is still present, he dumps his standard tics and stuttering, adding greater meaning to the phrase, "irresponsible and intellectual louse."
Some elements in this picture seem to follow a formula, e.g., idiot fop remains an idiot, kid enters picture, so do a couple of women, idiot fop wakes up. But there's more going on in this observational comedy-drama. It feels authentic.
Set entirely in Great Britain, Grant plays a guy who does absolutely nothing. He lives off royalties from some horrific Christmas ditty everybody loves that was written by his father, who's dead. No commitments, no shackles; he's a man who loves to juggle girls and lies. He's not a stupid man, as is apparent by how he strings sentences in his narration. He just doesn't give a damn.
Without giving away how his transformation occurs, there is some true-to-the-heart revelations that are believable to anyone who has gone through 'em -- which means most of us -- albeit at a much earlier age than the character played by Hugh Grant (in this film, he's pushing 40). That it comes to this guy so late makes his reactions all the more precious and rewarding.
What I like most about this film is its rich characters in a dramatic script that draws fine humor from bad situations. This humor, for the most part, doesn't stretch to push a joke that's out of place. This keeps the tonality of the picture consistent and engrossing. (Think of that restaurant scene in "When Harry Met Sally" and you know what I'm talking about when I say I have no tolerance for something that gets a big laugh but is stupidly "out of place" with a tone established 30 minutes before.)
You think you've seen your share of "bachelor" stories? Well here's one that allows you to smirk and laugh without feeling patronized or contempt by a endless string of cheap sit-com lines.
Hugh Grant's "Will" displays the type of "intellectual" befuddlement that is believable by virtue of his knowledge of arts and history, but with complete ignorance about a life outside night clubs and his 21st century-equipped bachelor "flat." He only cares, when we meet him, about pleasure, as expressed in elapsed periods of time he calls "units." Beyond self-centered, he's still charming, given how brutally honest he can be about how awful he's perceived by the world. When he handles a baby, it's just a "thing" to him. An animal, a pet, would be more endearing to him. But he's only selectively honest. His pursuit of pleasure, his demand to live for "the moment," requires "lies" to achieve success as he sees it.
Then in walks this smart kid named "Marcus," wonderfully played by Nicholas Hoult. He carries the other half of the picture. So expressive, wiser beyond his years, yet so used to be picked on, so eager to please his suicidal but loving hippie mother, played by the always fabulous Toni Collette (Muriel's Wedding, The Sixth Sense, The Hours).
Of course there's a love interest, and it's not Toni Collette. It turns out to be someone else. While there are some goofy moments that could've been clipped here and there, on the whole, there are few false notes here. All of the character actors play off each other well, and they raise Grant's performance to higher levels. Finally, a Hugh Grant picture that makes best use of Hugh Grant; and the script is everything, based in part on the hit novel by Nick Hornby.
I'm certain if this film had been released in the winter of 2002, Grant would be up for an Oscar and his film would be among the nominees for Best Picture. It has a snappy visual style and tempo, as well as a soundtrack that is perfect.
Some report mixed emotions with the end of the picture. I think this has to do with wanting air-tight closure. It's not quite there but I was still satisfied; in the end, because you've invested so much in these characters, because you haven't been bored for a second, because you haven't seen an endless barrage of cliches -- you don't want this story to end. You want to keep going to see what happens, despite getting hint of a mild uplift in the last frame. This is the best feeling to have. Keep you wanting more.
Finally, I love how "About a Boy" isn't just about the boy Marcus (Nicholas Hoult). It's also about Will (Hugh Grant). Will "Will" ever grow up? Maybe, maybe not. Watch this to find out.

Studio: Universal Studios
Hugh Grant

DVD title: Festival Express
Productgroup: DVD
Festival Express - movie DVD cover picture
DVD Extras

With more than 50 additional minutes of exclusive performance footage not seen in the theatrical version of the film, the Festival Express DVD set features the following "bonus" set list:
Grateful Dead "Hard to Handle"
Grateful Dead "Easy Wind"
Janis Joplin "Move Over"
Janis Joplin "Kozmic Blues"
Buddy Guy "Hoochie Coochie Man"
Mashmakhan "As Years Go By"
Eric Anderson "Thirsty Boots"
Ian & Sylvia "Tears of Rage"
Tom Rush "Child's Song"
Seatrain "Thirteen Questions"
The DVD set also offers 25 minutes of additional interviews

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Bob Smeaton
Janis Joplin
The Grateful Dead
The Band

DVD title: White Zombie
Productgroup: DVD
White Zombie - movie DVD cover picture
Wonderful creepy atmosphere !

"White zombie" is one of Lugosi's best performances even better than Dracula ! But that's my personal opinion. The zombies are very impressive, they really looked like dead ! I also like very much Lugosi's lair near the sea ! A kind of a castle on the top of a cliff. The interiors are like a cathedral. Even it's sometimes slow paced, you'll never get bored. OK the other actors are not so convincing, but the atmosphere is wonderful creepy. For instance the mill where the zombies worked for Lugosi, the cemetery and don't forget the grazy voodou song at the beginning of the film ! Fans of old fashioned horror movies will find this little gem very delightful.The quality of this Alpha DVD is quite good. Picture looks fine most of the time, even there are some jumps. The sound is not so great, but still acceptable. It's the perfect film for a saturday evening just before midnight.

Studio: Select-O-Hits, Inc.
Director: Victor Halperin
Bela Lugosi
Madge Bellamy

DVD title: Sayonara
Productgroup: DVD
Sayonara - movie DVD cover picture
If you have ever been in love you will love this movie!!!!!!

A beautiful heartwarming and enchanting story of an American serviceman on leave from the Korean War to Japan for R & R. He is a Southern gentleman with a certain degree of racial prejudice. He becomes enticed by the beauty and charm of a famous Japanese "Mushibashi Girl" who is bitter and unfriendly towards all Americans. She has a dark secret in her closet and a lot of bitterness in her heart. She is however extremely talented an beautiful. Eventually her heart softens and she and the American serviceman discover the ancient mysteries, wonders and beauties of Japan together. The US Government, however, forbids any US serviceman to marry a Japanese. They witness the pain and suffering around them of other couples in love. They must also decide if their love is worth the risk involved. The story is tragic yet serene; heartbreaking yet enlightening; Mysterious yet timeless... It is one of my all-time favorites! I hope and pray that it will be re-released n video soon!!!!

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Joshua Logan
Marlon Brando
Ricardo Montalban

DVD title: Weird Al Yankovic - Live
Productgroup: DVD
Weird Al Yankovic - Live - movie DVD cover picture
Weird Al Live!

An incredible recording of one of "Weird Al"'s best tours ever. Contains new songs as well as some old favorites. If you are an Al fan who does not own this you need to have your head examined. The only place that you can hear the infamous Yoda chant.

Studio: Bmg/Volcano/Pavement/Cz
Weird Al Yankovic

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