Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Beauty and The Beast - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Beauty and The Beast - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
French Fairy-Tale Masterpiece

Concocting elaborate fairy tales is something the French do exceedingly well, and in La Belle et La Bete Jean Cocteau adapts Madame Leprince de Beaumont's classic tale into a film masterpiece.

Cocteau opens the film with a short prologue in which he asks the audience to recall the time when we were children - and were able to believe in things we couldn't see.

Belle is the older sister in a family that has enjoyed prosperous times - in the past. The widowed father has now fallen on hard times. Many of his ships have been lost and when the last one finally comes to port, it won't even pay the debts he already has. Belle has a younger brother and two wicked and greedy sisters who are determined to live as richly as possible - and they'll lie and deceive to accomplish this.

Father gets lost on his return from the bank where he discovers they're bankrupt, and in a storm he takes refuge in the mysterious castle he finds. Inside the door, candlelabras light themselves and, even stranger, they're held by human arms protruding from the wall. The arms hold the lighted candles and helpfully point the way. A mysterious dining room waits, heated by a large fireplace with sculpted faces with eyes that follow your movements.

The story will be familiar enough to those who only know the cartoon version. Jean Marais takes on the role of both the Beast (with its 5 hour make-up job) and the Suitor Avenant, who wants to marry Belle, but would like the Beast's treasure even more. He is good as Avenant, but he's even better as the Beast, bringing an incredible vitality to the role under a hairy, fanged facade.

Belle is not the singing bookworm of the Disney version, but rather the beautiful, virtuous woman who would sacrifice her own life for her father. Back at home Belle acts as a servant to her family, including the vain and bickering sisters - not because she's an orphaned step-child as in Cinderella, but out of the goodness of her heart.

Henri Alekan photographed the film in a scintillating black and white. About half the film was shot in beautiful locations in France and the rest on elaborate sets by Christian Berard. The spectacular costumes were designed at the house of Jeanne Lanvin, with Pierre Cardin supervising the men's costumes.

I have long held a special place for the tale, because in addition to it's fantastical elements and wonderful story, the "moral of the story" is very moral indeed. Not just "don't be greedy or bad" as in most other fairy tales, but emphatically "be good, and virtuous". Without at least some of societies members willingness to be virtuous, society will crumble. "La Belle et La Bete" teaches that virtue has rewards in a most enchanting manner.

Not recommended for little children - but if your child is old enough to be curious about matters of substance, they're old enough for this film.

Studio: Home Vision Entertainment
Jean Marais
Josette Day

DVD title: Deep Impact
Productgroup: DVD
Deep Impact - movie DVD cover picture
Deep Impact Hits Deeply In The Heart

I have both Deep Impact and Armageddon. Deep Impact is far better of the two. Both are about doomsday-rocks heading for the planet Earth. Deep Impact gives us the human-side of the equation in very believeable subplots of families, friends, colleagues, even the US President. It has a top-notch cast of highly famous actors, as well as little- to well-known players. I found it very touching, exciting, scarey, everything. I saw a documentary about "Doomsday Rocks" (true title uncertain). It made many-a-mention of Deep Impact. How it finally gave the politicans a heads-up to finance various programmes to try to prevent rogue asteroids and/or comets from hitting Earth. Armageddon was tokenly acknowledged. This is how powerful such a movie as Deep Impact can make an impression (pun may be included). I found myself laughing, crying, bitting my nails - as it were. Deep Impact hits the heart, mind, and soul. I highly recommend it. The cast consists of Robert Duvall, Morgan Freedman, Tea Leone, Maximillian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, Elijah Wood, LeeLee Sobieski, Denise Crosby, etc.

Studio: Paramount Studio
Director: Mimi Leder
Robert Duvall
Téa Leoni
Elijah Wood
Morgan Freeman

DVD title: Gone in 60 Seconds
Productgroup: DVD
Gone in 60 Seconds - movie DVD cover picture

i don't know why critics think this movie was so horrible. I loved this movie when it came out in the theater and its even better on dvd. You gotta see it for your self. It's the bomb!

Studio: Touchstone Video
Director: Dominic Sena
Nicolas Cage
Angelina Jolie

DVD title: The West Wing - The Complete Fourth Season
Productgroup: DVD
The West Wing - The Complete Fourth Season - movie DVD cover picture
It's Still the Best on Television

Say what you will relative to other WW seasons, the 4th is still the best of TV that year.

What I like about this set is no more double sided discs! Now I can load all the discs in my DVD changer and see an entire season without having to flip discs over like the first three seasons.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Martin Sheen

DVD title: Soap - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Soap - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
Oh Man!

Talk about revolutionary... it took television twenty years to confront homosexuality after Soap did(and Soap did it better). This has to be one of the best television shows EVER... and it's STILL funny. I was born after Soap first aired and saw it for the first time in syndication at the age of 14 and have been looking for it on video for 9 years since! Thank you for bringing this awesome show back to us and PLEASE release the subsequent 4? seasons! I was so excited that I had to buy two copies, one for myself and one for my mother. It's a gotta own runaway hit.

Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Billy Crystal

DVD title: Gosford Park - Collector's Edition
Productgroup: DVD
Gosford Park - Collector's Edition - movie DVD cover picture
Bitingly Funny

Period pieces are not everybody's thing. I know grown men who would gladly eat glass rather than sit through one. And really, can you blame them? Costume dramas are almost always boringly similar. People wear fancy clothes, sip tea, become attracted to people they shouldn't become attracted to, and say things like, "I love Lord Fibberbush, but he's not of my class! Oh, the pain!". If you're a historian, it's usually fun. If you're a normal person, it's usually agony.
So it's pleasing to report that Robert Altman's Gosford Park is a refreshingly entertaining period piece, filled with snappy dialogue (when you can follow it), murder, sex, and an attractive, if not downright exhaustive, cast. It's also refreshing to see that the notion of servants having more integrity than the people they serve has been debunked here. Here, both upstairs and downstairs feature characters who lie, gossip, and backstab. Altman's direction, as always, make you feel like a voyeur, like you're watching something you're not supposed to. And that's the fun - you're peeking in on one nasty cocktail party, which is always amusing.
But, this being Altman, it's an acquired taste. His overlapping dialogue and low sound mix combine with a broad range of dialects to make viewers strain to hear everything. You're not supposed to hear everything, of course, but not everyone will know that, and it could be annoying after a while. The film is also a bit of a puff piece. It doesn't say anything particularly new about class struggles back in 1930's England, then again it doesn't try. The reason Gosford Park feels like more than what is actually is is more a tribute to the cast, particularly Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith (who could do her part in her sleep), Michael Gambon, and Clive Owen. Owen, in particular, has "movie star" written all over him. He has a presence that trumps everyone else on screen, and it should serve him well if, as rumored, he becomes the next James Bond.
Overall, Gosford Park is a nice, airy entertainment brought to a higher level by the skill of its stars and its director. It makes for a nice evening diversion. That is, if you haven't got any fox hunts scheduled.

Studio: Universal Studios Ho
Director: Robert Altman
Maggie Smith
Ryan Phillippe

DVD title: Saving Silverman (PG-13 version)
Productgroup: DVD
Saving Silverman (PG-13 version) - movie DVD cover picture
Don't forget about Tenacious D!

There are alot of people out there giving this movie alot of slack. But when the "D" is in a movie, it automatically makes it a five star classic. Now I know that it's not the "D" the way you are used to seeing them, but it's still the "D" none the less. In fact KG has one of the most classic lines in the whole movie! (When he calls Judith Satan.) And of course, JB steals the show! (As usual.) Not to mention, you've also got Zahn and Biggs tearin' it up. So if you want to see a super sweet movie, and you love Neil Diamond, check this flick out! It is pure hilarity! Guaranteed!

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Dennis Dugan
Steve Zahn
Jason Biggs

DVD title: The Best Years of Our Lives
Productgroup: DVD
The Best Years of Our Lives - movie DVD cover picture
It's all about coming home.

As the USA let out a sigh of relief with the end of WWII in Europe and in the Pacific, it was time to start putting the everyday American's life back together. With the end of the war came demobilization, and millions of discharged soldiers headed home. That is what this movie is all about. Coming home.
The home they came home to was basically unchanged. The problem, though, was that they had changed.
This movie tells the story of three men -- an infantry sergeant, an air corps officer/bombardier, and a sailor -- all returning to the same home town someplace in the midwest.
The sergeant returns to his family, his children grew up while father was away, and he works to fit back into the work-a-day world at the bank where he was an exec before the war.
The air corps officer, we soon learn is someone from "the other side of the tracks." He returns to his wife who, apparently, loves his uniform and partying more than she loves him. Things are rough. He also finds that while he left his former assistant is now his superior.
The sailor is crippled, having lost both hands in a ship-board fire. He is working on rehabilitation, but finds that his girl, who has been waiting while he was away, is still waiting. Therein lies his problem. One that many servicemen faced -- making their way while dealing with a disability resulting from military action, and coming to grips with the transition back to civilian life.
This movie tugs on the heart strings of America. It paints a picture faced by many a returning serviceman: challenges in civilian life, finding work, rekindling close relationships with family, and dealing with the occasional inappreciative civilian.
While I am not of the generation that served during WWII, I'd like to say THANKS to all those who answered the call to serve (during WWII and in all other conflicts where American military was involved), to protect the rights and freedom that too many of us so often take for granted. Thank you for your sacrifice, for your lives.
Watch this movie, it is one of the best movies ever made.
5 stars.
Alan Holyoak

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: William Wyler
Fredric March
Dana Andrews

DVD title: My So-Called Life (Complete Series)
Productgroup: DVD
My So-Called Life (Complete Series) - movie DVD cover picture
FINALLY - The Best Show Ever Cancelled After 1 Season on DVD

.. This amazingly crafted show was brilliant. I don't know a single person who wasn't completely in love with it. (Makes you wonder why they canceled it after only one season. I still don't understand it)
We all could see ourselves as Angela, Brian, Rayann, Ricky, or Jordan. It covered every emotion and problem that a teenager could face. And, the beautiful thing about this show was that it wasn't limited to "teeny-boppers"....20's and 30 something's loved it too... Now, I don't have to keep watching my dubbed copies from MTV reruns,... and can have them all, to keep forever. This is a fabulous collection for anyone. The only thing I want to caution against is that there are no extras on this DVD... just the shows. But - really --- do you need anything else?

Studio: Ventura Distribution
Claire Danes

DVD title: Shogun
Productgroup: DVD
Shogun - movie DVD cover picture
Do not settle for less-"Shogun" is the extreme epic!

This is without a doubt the best Samurai movie ever made! I wasn't alive to see it on TV, but I couldn't have waited for the shows every night. Although this movie is long, it is never boring! If you love medieval Japan, you'll love Shogun! The only thing that beats it is the novel by James Clavell. (Also an excellent read)

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Richard Chamberlain

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