Film DVD related reviews


DVD title: Frank Sinatra - A Man and His Music + Ella + Jobim
Productgroup: DVD
Frank Sinatra - A Man and His Music + Ella + Jobim - movie DVD cover picture
Frank and Antonio are Tops!


This is a "must have" video primarily because of that too brief segment where Frank and Antonio Jobim combine their peerless talents on the the "Girl from Ipanema"; "Change Partners", "I Concentrate on you." I play that segment over and over and over. It is beautiful and touching. Both artists' sensitivity reach out and grab and hold. Marvelous!

Studio: Wea/Warner Bros.
Actors:
Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald




DVD title: The Cocoanuts
Productgroup: DVD
The Cocoanuts - movie DVD cover picture
A Rare First


Although, one could argue "Duck Soup" as a superior flick (which, technically, it is)- though, when taken in context (a 1929 first film) "The Cocoanuts" was amazingly ahead of it's time. Consider this, a standard detective mystery, a musical (with stunning performances by Harpo, in particular)and a clever quick-witted comedy somehow interacting with each other. This was a "first" done to perfection by the amazing Marx Brothers. They certainly honed their film-making style by the time of "Duck Soup" - but NO ONE came close in 1929 to "The Cocoanuts".

Studio: Image Entertainment
Actors:
Zeppo Marx
Groucho Marx
Harpo Marx
Chico Marx




DVD title: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Productgroup: DVD
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - movie DVD cover picture
Most Excellent!


This is truly a great cinematic work. This is easily Keanu's best work. My only question is, why isn't it on DVD! They can put Three Stooges on DVD, but not this great american flick? Let's get with the program. This is too great a movie to let sit on the VHS shelf for so long.

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Stephen Herek
Actors:
Keanu Reeves
Alex Winter




DVD title: Thirteen
Productgroup: DVD
Thirteen - movie DVD cover picture
a scary look at reality for some teenagers


A film by Catherine Hardwicke
"Thirteen" tells the story of Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), a thirteen year old girl who, up until this point, has been a good girl. She loves her mother, Melanie (Holly Hunter), and listens to her. She is not a very popular girl in school, though she does have her own friends. We see her longing for a great social acceptance than what she has. When Melanie's former addict ex-boyfriend comes back into the picture despite Melanie's previous promise that he will never be back, Tracy is hurt, upset, and angry. From this she begins to take her first steps of rebellion. Evie (Nikki Reed) is one of the most popular girls in school, as well as the hottest (as described by Tracy's brother). It is obvious from the start that Tracy would like to be friends with Evie and perhaps have Evie's life.
The movie doesn't actually start here. The movie starts with Tracy and Evie (both of them then unnamed) sitting on a bed, huffing from an aerosol can, and hitting each other in the face and laughing because they can't feel their faces. The movie then moves to four months earlier when we see the more innocent Tracy, the pre-Evie Tracy. Tracy tries to get the chance to hang out with Evie, but gets brushed to the side with every opportunity. When she sees Evie shoplifting Tracy is first shocked but then very quickly sees an opportunity. Tracy steals an older woman's wallet without getting caught and runs up to Evie, tells her what she did, and shares the money. Evie and Tracy go on a little shopping spree and just like that they are inseparable.
Tracy is still fairly innocent, but the more time she spends with Evie the more she experiences: drugs, sex, alcohol, stealing, skipping classes, disobeying her mother, cursing at her mother. We watch as Tracy's life begins to spiral out of control and Melanie sees what is happening, though she does not really understand why, and she is powerless to stop it. Melanie is a recovering alcoholic herself, but she is doing the best she can as a single mother. She is all heart, and other than her relationship with the ex-boyfriend I'm not sure she really does anything wrong to drive Tracy away.
That is perhaps the one flaw in this movie. I had a difficult time figuring out Tracy's motivation for rebelling. I understood the desire for social acceptance, but not the driving need for it, and the film never explained that. Despite that lack of explanation on Tracy's motivation, this movie is filled with realistic, powerful performances. I believed the characters were who they were supposed to be rather than just actors playing a role. Evan Rachel Wood and Nikki Reed had absolutely standout roles and they both did a fine job. Younger actors always seem to be the most difficult to cast because they often sound wooden when speaking their lines, but not Evan or Nikki, they were spot on. Nikki Reed should be highlighted as well because at age 13 she co-wrote this movie with the director and is now only 16 years old. What a debut (both in acting as well as screenwriting)!
"Thirteen" is a movie that, if I was a parent, would scare me. It tells me that even if I don't do anything really wrong or bad, if I'm not careful my daughter can still fall into the wrong crowd and go down a very harmful path. What is perhaps most frightening is that it is obvious from the movie that even before Tracy met Evie and started drinking and doing drugs that Tracy already had problems. Tracy is a cutter. When she is feeling low she locks herself in the bathroom and cuts into her forearms and just hides it with a long sleeve shirt. I thought "Thirteen" was a rather good movie even though it doesn't provide any answers nor does it provide a motivation for Tracy. It just says this is one possible reality for teenagers today. And that is a scary thought.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Actors:
Holly Hunter
Evan Rachel Wood
Nikki Reed




DVD title: Double Indemnity
Productgroup: DVD
Double Indemnity - movie DVD cover picture
What is film noir?


With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, of all people:

If the opening credits contain the name Raymond Chandler, the author best known for creating detective Philip Marlowe...you might be watching film noir, even if, like "Double Indemnity," Marlowe is not involved.

If critical scenes are almost completely dark, especially if it's shot in black and white and your scheming central characters are just as dark...you might be watching film noir.

If the dialogue contains lines like "The whole place smelled like honeysuckle. I never knew murder could smell like honeysuckle"...you might be watching film noir.

If the lead male character is an ultra-tough guy who's sleazy enough to make you check to see if your wallet is still in place...you might be watching film noir.

If the lead female character slithers down the stairs with her hips and shoulders moving enough to register on the Richter scale...you might be watching film noir.

If said male repeatedly looks at said female like a tiger prowling for his next meal...you might be watching film noir.

If he refers to her almost exclusively as "baby"...you might be watching film noir.

If he lights a match with his thumbnail more than twice during the first act...you might be watching film noir.

If the plot includes characters double-crossing each other at least twice...you might be watching film noir.

And if you're watching "Double Indemnity," you're watching one of the two or three best examples of this much-discussed genre of film, a uniquely American style of highly stylized thriller. If you're still not sure what "film noir" is, watch this movie. It's unforgettable.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Billy Wilder
Actors:
Fred MacMurray
Barbara Stanwyck
Edward G. Robinson




DVD title: Austin Powers - International Man of Mystery (New Line Platinum Series)
Productgroup: DVD
Austin Powers - International Man of Mystery (New Line Platinum Series) - movie DVD cover picture
Crude, lewd, yet outrageously entertaining!


The brainchild of former Saturday Night Live cast member Mike Myers (Wayne's World, Wayne's World 2), Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery burst onto the Hollywood landscape in 1997 and made a beeline for the cult classic Hall of Fame. A parody/satire of the popular James Bond films of the past several decades, Austin Powers gave birth to a number of quirky and famous characters such as Austin himself, Dr. Evil, Scott Evil, and (later) "Mini-Me". Sporting some of the most outrageous antics and bathroom humor in the history of film, Austin Powers successfully utilizes its play on the James Bond series (because it so parallels the films) to create a memorable movie that will keep you laughing for two hours plus...

Mike Myers plays the role of Austin Powers - international man of mystery. Frozen in a cryogenic chamber since the 1960s, Austin is thawed out in the 1990s in order to take on his arch-nemesis Dr. Evil (who has also been frozen during that time period). A free-love advocate, Austin makes an immediate play for his new partner Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley), daughter of his former spy partner Mrs. Kensington (Mimi Rogers).

Meanwhile, Dr. Evil collaborates with his entourage which consists of Number Two (Robert Wagner), Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling), and others. He develops a plan to steal a nuclear weapon and hold the world hostage for... one million dollars! No. Make that one trillion dollars!!! To carry out his task, Dr. Evil must not only face down Austin Powers and his beautiful partner, but he's forced to grapple with the common-sense, quasi-evil tendencies of his son Scott Evil (Seth Green) with whom he's constantly fighting. Can Austin Powers save the world? Or will Dr. Evil succeed in holding the world hostage?

The success of Austin Powers is wholly attributable to the unique comic mind of Mike Myers who not only starred in the leading roles, but who also wrote the screenplay. Myers' portrayal of Dr. Evil steals the show with his evil laugh, diabolical grin, and propensity for all things evil (such as "evil petting zoos"). His soliloquy while receiving family counseling with Scott ranks as not only one of the best scenes in the film, but among the best scenes from any comedy film ever made. Elizabeth Hurley also turns in a good performance as Austin's partner Vanessa (doing a far better acting job than the verbally-challenged Heather Graham who always seemed to be reading from cue-cards in the Austin Powers sequel).

Meanwhile, Will Ferrell (of SNL and Elf fame) makes a notable appearance as Dr. Evil's henchman, Mustafa. His is a recurring character in later films. Overall, Austin Powers is one of the funniest films you'll ever see. Unless outrageous comedy is simply not your cup of tea, I can't think of any reason not to recommend this film. Although the sequels are hilarious in their own right, the original is the best (as is often the case), and that's why Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery is a definite must-see film...

The DVD Report

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Jay Roach
Actors:
Mike Myers
Elizabeth Hurley




DVD title: Baby Bach
Productgroup: DVD
Baby Bach - movie DVD cover picture
Must have


I have a 5 month old who loves watching these videos. It is as much fun for me to watch him react to the pictures as I think it is for him to watch them. I would definately recommend this product. (Baby Mozart and Einstein too!!)

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment



DVD title: Grand Tour - Disaster in Time
Productgroup: DVD
Grand Tour - Disaster in Time - movie DVD cover picture
Great little movie! Time travel buffs will love it!


It has a great story, with a LOT of background building. I show this movie to all my friends who even have a passing interest in sci-fi and time travel. It seems to start slow, but winds up with a great climax with at least one twist. It's even great to watch a second time, just to pick up the little things you missed the first time. It's not an action movie, nor is it a heavy-duty sci-fi. The technology is not really discussed, it's more of a Twilight Zone episode expanded to a movie (one of the good ones). All I can tell you is to try it! Telling you more is really giving it away. I even think the title should be changed to just "Grand Tour" - the mystery would be even better that way. Usually I show it to friends and only tell them the title is "Grand Tour". They'll figure the rest out on their own. In short, "It's grand, simply grand..."

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertain
Director: David Twohy
Actors:
Jeff Daniels
Ariana Richards




DVD title: Margaret Cho - Revolution
Productgroup: DVD
Margaret Cho - Revolution - movie DVD cover picture
uh- it's good


This dvd was not the massive let down I had anticipted. Given the reviews, I was expecting to have my heart ripped out while witnessing some sort of horrific Cho train wreck. Wrong.

It's just as good as always. There are several laugh till you cry moments.

Nothing will ever come close to "I'm the One That I Want." I do not expect that. But this is still funny as hell.

I had to rate it 5 stars to counterbalance all the senseless crap everyone is talking. I attribute the low ratings to right-wing trolls who have provided crap reviews in an attempt to discredit this woman because of her liberal political views.

If you are a Cho fan, get the video. You'll have a blast as always. Best segment is the Asian Chicken Salad. :)

Studio: Wellspring
Director: Lorene Machado



DVD title: Black Hawk Down
Productgroup: DVD
Black Hawk Down - movie DVD cover picture
Thrilling


Black Hawk Down is a gritty portayal of the senseless violence of war. The sotry takes place during the ill-fated Somalia campaign of the 90's. During the campaign to capture Somalian warlord Aidid, two helicopters go down. American Army Rangers and Delta Force soldiers attempt a rescue, but are repulsed by hordes of Somalian militiamen. The movie follows the trials of the conflict.
I was really impressed with the reality of the battle scenes. You'll feel like you're in the middle of the action. After see this, you'll really respect what soldiers have to go through in the field. However after the casualties start mounting up, you get get a feeling that all these deaths are a waste--lives lost to poor planning and policy. I hope that we think more carefully about war befire we send our soldiers to face such a hell on earth. Check out this movie, you won't regret it.
One caution--this film contains graphic displays of violence, so if you're sensitive to such scenes, you may be in for a rude shock.

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Ridley Scott
Actors:
Josh Hartnett



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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling))
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