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DVD title: Magnolia (New Line Platinum Series)
Productgroup: DVD
Magnolia (New Line Platinum Series) - movie DVD cover picture
From the Founder of the All-Movie Guide

Early on, there was fierce discussion, pro and con, about the merits of this film. This has more-or-less settled down now and knowledgeable film buffs seem to agree that this is a gem of a movie. And I don?t agree with some of the reviewers that this is an artsy-fartsy movie or a movie ?~for intellectuals.?

For my part, I love classic action films and American movies, in general. While this is not simply an action movie, it is a VERY excellent movie and already is considered a classic film. It is filled with exquisite performances by some of my favorite actors, folks like William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and of course, Tom Cruise and Julianne Moore. While this is a very long movie, it does not seem so. In fact, it is fascinating and it would appear that the cast was inspired, through and through. It is one of the very few movies that I enjoy seeing again. Don?t let negative reviews keep you from seeing this for yourself.

-- Michael Erlewine, Founder of the All-Movie Guide (

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Tom Cruise
Julianne Moore
William H. Macy
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Baker Hall
Jeremy Blackman

DVD title: Stargate SG-1 Season 2, Vol. 1
Productgroup: DVD
Stargate SG-1 Season 2, Vol. 1 - movie DVD cover picture
A couple of new plot threads and two great guest stars

When last we left our heroes SG-1 was on a Goa'uld warship heading for Earth and with that rather dramatic cliffhanger we begin Season 2 of "Stargate SG-1." Adding insult to injury, the ship is commanded by Klorel, the "son" of Apophis, who possesses the body of Skaara (Alexis Cruz). By the end of the DVD it is clear that the series that had the best first season in the history of science fiction television is going to be even better:
Episode 1, "The Serpent's Lair" (Written by Brad Wright, Aired June 26, 1998) the SG-1 team is now on a suicide mission having planted explosives on the warship. Unfortunately, there is more than one Goa'uld ship on its way to Earth. Then they are captured by Bra'tac (Tony Amendola), Teal'c's Jaffa mentor who also wants to free his people from the control of Apophis (Peter Williams). Bra'tac has a plan to stop both warships but the SG-1 crew will still end up just as dead and Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) still wants to free Skaara from Klorel's control. Meanwhile, back at Cheyenne Mountain there is a frantic effort to save part of American culture by sending people through the Stargate to an Alpha Site. General Hammond (Don S. Davis) is also preparing to defend the base as long as possible and is finding lots of subtle ways of telling Lt. Colonel Samuels (Robert Wisden), "I told you so, you arrogant jerk." Just because we have ever reason to believe the Earth is not going to be conquered at the end of the episode does not take away from the fun. 4.5 Stargates. Episode 2, "In the Line of Duty" (Written by Robert C. Cooper, Aired July 3, 1998) introduces a major new element into the series. SG-1 is sent to Nasya to rescue survivors of a Goa'uld attack. When she resuscitates a wounded man Dr. Carter (Amanda Tapping) is taken over by a Goa'uld and the only one who notices when SG-1 gets back home in young Cassandra (Katie Stuart). Eventually O'Neill catches on and we learn that the Goa'uld in Carter is Jolinar of Malkshur, a leader of the Tok-ra Goa'ulds, a group in rebellion against the system lords. The threat, he tells them, comes not from himself but from an assassin who will kill him by killing Carter. Clearly in this second season there is an emphasis on expanding the show's roster of good Goa'ulds. An above average episode involving paranoia at Stargate Command with long-range implications for the season and the series. 4.5 Stargates.
Episode 3, "Prisoners" (Written by Terry Curtis Fox, Aired July 10, 1998) are exploring a planet when a frantic fleeing man begs to be saved from his pursuers. However, the man turns out to be a murderer fleeing justice and by helping him the SG-1 team is judged guilty of the same crime and receives the same punishment: life imprisonment on the prison world Hadante. Oddly enough, the person who appears to be in charge in this brutal environment is Linea (Bonnie Barlett), an old woman who actually strikes fear into the hearts of the prisoners. Linea is a scientist and if she can power the Stargate with a cold fusion power source, then SG-1 will help her escape with them. This certainly sounds like a good deal, especially since General Hammond is making little progress in negotiating the team's release from their captors. However, things just do not add up and the question is whether SG-1 can rework the math in time. Hopefully down the road there will be a sequel to "Prisoners," but even if there is not it will remain a classic episode with a great payoff at the end. 5 Stargates.
Episode 4 "The Gamekeeper" (Written by Jonathan Glassner & Brad Wright, Teleplay by Glassner, Aired July 17, 1998) offers the comic relief on this volume with guest star Dwight Schultz who plays the Keeper. The SG-1 team travels to P7J989 where they find a beautiful garden and a dome containing metallic chambers housing unconscious humanoids. While inspecting some empty chambers the team is ensnared. The next thing we know O'Neil and Teal'c are reliving a mission Jack had in his younger days where he lost a man. One of the members of his team was Captain Kawalsky (Jay Acovone). Meanwhile, Dr. Jackson and Captain Carter relive the accident that killed his parents. As soon as each scenario ends it restarts as if nothing had happened. Both O'Neil and Jackson try to change "history," but nothing works and eventually they both decided they do not want to play this sick game anymore. That is when the Keeper (Schultz) shows up and explains they are being given a chance to make things right. But the more the Keeper explains the situation and the rules, the more it becomes clear he is hiding something. I can only imagine how many times they had to reshoot scenes because the cast was breaking up at Schultz's vocal affectation. Even the most innocent lines become a real hoot with that voice he created for this character. There is a slight hole in the episode in terms of the inability of O'Neill and Jackson to save these lives (O'Neill's soldiers apparently do not know how to do a standard reconnaissance of a building they want to attack), but Schultz's performance redeems such problems. 4.5 Stargates.
One classic episode and three above average adventures is pretty good for a single volume of "Stargate SG-1" episodes, but if you have been working your way diligently through the first season and beyond then you should be completely hooked on this intelligently crafted science fiction series. I am most impressed by the effort to work in new elements right from the start of Season 2 to set up some important moments down the road. You also have a pair of excellent guest stars in Barlett and Schultz.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Amanda Tapping

DVD title: The Others
Productgroup: DVD
The Others - movie DVD cover picture
Fear Comes From Inside: Really Scary Film with Stylish Touch

Yesterday, on April 28, we have finally seen the theatrical release of this masterpiece in Japan, and the waiting time was very, very long. But it was worth of our patience. "The Others" is not only a chilling and scary movie; it is crafted with style and intelligence, and it is fantastic to watch the director (who is still below the age of 30!!) create this piece of art.
As you probably have known by now, beautiful Nicole Kidman plays Grace, whose children are allergic to light (and this disaease really exists, you should know). With ritual-like meticulous rules, she manages her household works, employing new servants in a huge, dreary countryhouse, which ever-hanging fogs mystriously surround. But there is (or are), she comes to know, some intruder(s) here, of which existence her children are convinced. And sooner or later, Grace comes to feel that, too.
It is a natural but unfair comparison if you point out that "The Others" resembles at some places a certain Oscar-nominated film, because the director Amenabar does it with completely different touch. I cannot tell you much, but let me say, like Hitchcock's classic "Rebecca," the heroine (and the audience) is lured inexplicably into the mystery of the old house and its past. Also using the classic frameworks of ghost stories used in the original "Haunting" (Robert Wise version, NOT THAT remake), the film makes us jumping in the seats, sending lots of chill in spine, and, moreover, it treats a universal subject of love between mother and children in a subtle fashion. On top of that, the film goes further, to make the mother Grace not exactly an ideal one for kids, and it succeeds eventually in depicting the fraility of humans -- in short, you really don't know what you think you know.
Anchored by strong and believable acting given from underrated Nicole Kidman (why did Oscar ignore her work here, preferring that musical ... well, but all right, I understand), and aided effectively by other well-cast players whose uncanny presence unnerve us greatly, "The Others" will rivet your eyes on the screen, especially when you are a connoisseur of old-fashioned horror film. Keep your eyes open when you see the details of the film: furniture, photoes, everything. Something is wrong with this house, but how and what is not clear. This bizzare sensation is another asset of the film, and you will find what you missed with repeated viewing.
For those who have enjoyed this (and I bet you did), the story is perhaps inspired by Henry James's novella "Turn of the Screw," which deals with the similar situation. You may as well read that equally well-crafted, creepy story.
Trivia: look closely at one of the old photoes of the dead: one of the three men on the bed is director Amenabar himself (and one of the others is Mateo Gil, director of Spanish film "Nadie conoce a nadie" of which music Amenabar composed, and of which star Eduardo Noriega was featured in the two previous Amenabar film in Spain, "Thesis" and "Open Your Eyes." The former one is a must-see for anyone loving blood-curdling thriller. But hey, appearing in a photo? This is exactly what Hitchcock did in one of his earlier films about a life-boat, another masterpiece about the people in a confined place !! Surely Amenabar loves his master.

Studio: Miramax
Director: Alejandro AmenĂ¡bar
Nicole Kidman
Christopher Eccleston

DVD title: Dead Man
Productgroup: DVD
Dead Man - movie DVD cover picture
Beautifully stark drama

I'm certain that Tom Keough won't read this review, but that's okay. This isn't really for him, rather for the readers who realize that the majority of the film wasn't set in Texas. The Native American architecture (totem poles, rafts, etc.) is remarkably similar to West Coast Native Americans, instead of Texans. Johnny Depp's character also floats out into the Pacific at the end of the film (Keough obviously didn't watch the end). This film is an incredible, refreshing, powerful drama that holds the intelligent viewer's rapt attention throughout. Neil Young's soundtrack is brilliant, since he improvised while watching the film. I would hardly call him a noodling guitarist. Wake up, Keough. This is an amazing film that deserves nothing but your respect.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Johnny Depp
Gary Farmer

DVD title: Paths of Glory
Productgroup: DVD
Paths of Glory - movie DVD cover picture
Casting a Long Shadow

How well I remember the audience of 1958 sitting in stunned silence as the daring iconoclasm of the film washed over us like a bucket of cold water at a snoozer's convention. Post-war generations had seen nothing like its brutal honesty before. Instead, Hollywood had taught us that soldiers don't bawl like babies before being shot, that chaplains aren't part of a murderous war machine, that military justice really is about justice, and that generals however far removed are ultimately good and honorable men, (and that cameras always look away from execution scenes). Sure, the movie was not about our army, but the power of its message could not be missed, and no one from that era, having seen it, could again accept Hollywood's platitudes at face value.

Now, fifty years later, the film is still timely, having lost none of its power to illuminate. Thanks be to Kirk Douglas for taking a chance on an unproven Stanley Kubrick and getting Allied Artists to finance what was so clearly a non-commercial project. I suspect too, that it was at AA's insistance that Hollywood veterans be cast, even though the movie was shot to great advantage amidst the majestic settings of old Europe. Given the film's message, I think Kubrick would have preferred no-name principals, but then, who could have surpassed the oily charm of Adolphe Menjou's diabolical general, or the pathetic repulsiveness of Timothy Carey's sacrificial dog-face. (It's ironic that the part of the cowardly lieutenant went to an authentic war-hero, naval air-ace Wayne Morris, then only two years away from an untimely death.) This many decades later, I still have mixed feelings about the celebrated final scene. On one hand, it's so clearly manipulative (someone once called it a "male weepie"), that I try to steel myself against its undeniable force; on the other, it's so superbly well done that the humming chorus of universal brotherhood never fails to move me, even after this many viewings.

Researchers digging into origins of 60's counter-culture should check out themes and characterizations of the screen-play, particularly Timothy Carey's social outcast and Fred Bell's absolutely stunning thirty seconds of emotional break-down. For this is one of the few films from the conformist Eisenhower era to cast a shadow forward in time and serve as a reference point for future generations. The film's abundant cynicism may no longer be as revealing as it once was, thanks to Vietnam. Yet the emotional honesty remains as fresh and compelling as ever in its search for a gut-level depiction of real human anguish. Above all, Kubrick's anti-war classic points toward a more civilized potential amidst the barbarities and passions of combat, whether French or American, and given present political realities, still has many lessons to offer.

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Kirk Douglas
Ralph Meeker

DVD title: The Princess Bride
Productgroup: DVD
The Princess Bride - movie DVD cover picture

I luv this movie! I know the whole thing inside out, and I quote from it whenvever I can! It's easier to understand if you've read the book, but actually watching the movie made me read the book. (I didn't even realize there was no such person as S. Morgenstern until my sis told me!) It's just the best movie in the entire world! If anyone is in doubt to buy it, well, you can read the book and see how wonderful it is! I watched it for the first time when i was 9, and who the "man in black" was and everything else was more of surprise for me then.) I can't even have a party without watching this movie! I strongly recommend you watch it if you haven't! I luv this movie!

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Rob Reiner
Cary Elwes
Mandy Patinkin
Robin Wright Penn

DVD title: Bruce Almighty (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Bruce Almighty (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
I have GOT to say this....

In the gentle comedy "Bruce Almighty", Jim Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a fluff-reporter who longs to become anchorman. When he is passed over for a promotion, Bruce curses God to his girlfriend, Grace (Jennifer Aniston), insisting that God's rule of the world is not satisfactory and that he could do a much better job of running the world himself. What he is not expecting, however, is for God (Morgan Freeman) to appear and give him this very responsibility and privilege. The film is predictable but successful in its portrayal of what the world would be like if a human being, and a disgruntled one at that, was given the task of ruling the world. Jim Carrey achieves most of his laughs through his slapstick humor and characteristic goofiness. Meanwhile, Jennifer Aniston adequately plays her part as the devoted, do-gooder girlfriend who stands beside Bruce in supporting his career ambitions even when he is too wrapped up in himself to realize she is yearning for him to propose. The deadpan, cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor of Morgan Freeman's God is well-matched with Bruce's playful humor. Perhaps the film suffers most when it oversteps its boundaries in terms of making a statement about morality. Rather than simply portraying Bruce as selfish and acknowledging that no person is fit for the task of "playing God", the film throws in a contrast between Bruce and Grace. According to Grace's best friend, every night before she goes to bed, Grace kneels down and prays. She also works in a day-care center and donates blood to blood-drives. Aside from this cheesiness, "Bruce Almighty" works in the sense that it is an amusing film filled with light-hearted laughs that ponders the age-old question of what would happen if a mere mortal was ever made to fill the shoes of the Alpha and Omega. The best time to watch this flick is if you are in need of a fluffy comedy to calm you down or relax your nerves. Otherwise, the Hollywood sappiness of religious controversy may bother you.

Studio: Universal Studios Ho
Director: Tom Shadyac
Jim Carrey
Morgan Freeman
Jennifer Aniston

DVD title: Anger Management (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Anger Management (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
i loved this movie

classic. i'm a big sandler fan but this is his true best. a funny funny movie.

Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Director: Peter Segal
Adam Sandler
Jack Nicholson
Marisa Tomei

DVD title: The Shining
Productgroup: DVD
The Shining - movie DVD cover picture
One of the ABSOLUTE Greatest Movies EVER!

Anyone who's ever seen this movie can't agree that it wasn't at least entertaining. Jack Nicholson plays a very, very creepy caretaker of the Overlook Hotel... who eventually goes insane and tries to kill his wife and kid. This was as scary as a movie gets. I'd recomend it to anyone.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Jack Nicholson
Shelley Duvall

DVD title: Pearl Harbor
Productgroup: DVD
Pearl Harbor - movie DVD cover picture
Pearl Harbor was amazing

I'll be the first to admit, the first half hour of this movie is really cheesy (with lines like Beckingsale writing to Affleck that she "watches the sunrise and tries to take out each last bit of energy from it" or some line that makes you want to throw up). After that however, it is a great, gripping film. Affleck, after the first half hour, is terrific and Beckingsale is adequate. Hartnett I believe is the real star of the film, in a true star making performance. The special effects are top notch as every one knows, and the ending gets you on the edge of your seat. Even as a guy, I welled up with tears when Cuba Gooding Jr. got his hands on the big machine gun and started firing away. Flawed movie? Yes. Great movie? You bet.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Michael Bay
Ben Affleck
Kate Beckinsale

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