Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Strictly Ballroom
Productgroup: DVD
Strictly Ballroom - movie DVD cover picture

The movie starts with a "documentary" flavor that really brings out the melodrama in this film. This movie has a little bit for everyone - teenage "rebelion", romance, anti-establishment, good guys and bad guys, and a hero that everyone pulls for!

Studio: Miramax
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Paul Mercurio
Tara Morice

DVD title: La Bamba
Productgroup: DVD
La Bamba - movie DVD cover picture

If you've heard tunes from La Bamba, you'll want to watch the movie. If you've never heard the soundtrack, check out an MP3 here on Amazon sometime of "Donna" and "La Bamba". The music by this teenager really makes this movie.
The story of a boy who became a rock n roll star at 17, La Bamba is a good see not just for an historical account of the life of Ritchie Ricardo Valenzuela (Valens), but for the music and the feeling behind that music.
The movie rocks from the get go, with tunes like ''Rip it Up'', "Ooh! My Head", "We Belong Together", "Come on Let's Go", "Donna", "La Bamba" and more.
Superb performances by the riveting Lou Diamond Phillips (who plays Ritchie Valens), the brooding and angry brother played by Esai Morales, and Rosana DeSoto who plays Ritchie's mom.
I got the dvd a month back and have seen it 6 times already, mostly using scene selections for the later views. Be sure to watch the special features including interviews with Ritchie's real mom as well as the real Donna. See if you can spot a cameo by Ritchie's mom in the movie.
A fun movie, very well produced, great full screen video quality, great music. I'm the kind of guy that loves musicals from Jesus Christ Superstar to Singing in the Rain, from Hair to My Fair Lady. La Bamba, for me, is about the music by a kid who was born to sing.
Along with Ritchie's compositions (performed by Los Lobos), my biggest take away from the movie is this: music touches hearts the same way for everyone.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Luis Valdez
Lou Diamond Phillips
Esai Morales

DVD title: Citizen Kane (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Citizen Kane (Two-Disc Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

Citizen Kane is a movie which should be evaluated with the same sense of respect one would evaluate a novel by Kafka, music by Puccini, or a piece of mathematics by Hardy. If one finds the movie dull or boring, one should ask, "is my purpose to understand the artistic aspect of the movie, or simply to be entertained". One should not approach Citizen Kane the way one approaches the usual "sensational" entertainment of our time. I believe this is the fallacy of the numerous negative reviews of Kane at Amazon.
Every artist produces his/her work with instruments which depend on the circumstances in which he/she works. In the case of Citizen Kane, the black and white and lack of special effects are no drawback -- Welles uses his resources to produce a visual effect, such as the use of contrasting shading, made effective in the medium of black and white. That this movie was made in 1941 is no more a drawback then the fact that Chopin composed on a grand piano instead of a synthesizer.
Citizen Kane is my favorite movie. The acting is extremely effective, the characters convincing, with no pretense or exaggeration. The organization of the movie, which starts at the end, and ends at the beginning, giving all sorts of different angles to view Kane's life, draws the viewer more and more deeply into the mystery of Kane. How can you put to words the totality of a person's life, say in a single word, "Rosebud"? This movie brilliantly expresses a sense of the depth and complication of an individual's life. I was deeply moved, and I think anyone who can interpret the movie will be also. (JK)

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Orson Welles
Orson Welles
Joseph Cotten

DVD title: Forbidden Planet
Productgroup: DVD
Forbidden Planet - movie DVD cover picture
Forbidden Planet - One of the best in so many ways.

Forbidden Planet has been one of my family's favorites for as long as I can remember. The acting was very good, the script tight and the action gripping. The special effects were cutting-edge for that time. This isn't just another sci-fi thriller that goes from heart-pounding scene to the next with no time to think. Forbidden Planet, a retelling of Shakespeare's "The Tempest", wrestles with the deepest of man's emotions and serves as a good platform to discuss man's arrogance and all the harm it has done him over the years. But that is not all. The action sequence when the "creature" is trying to get through the forcefield is one of the best for suspense, horror and effects that I have ever seen. The graphic art and matting is outstanding. And the excellent sound effects! I still hear snippets in various ads and programs. Except for a few scenes of bloodless violence, I would consider this movie great viewing for any audience over the age of 7.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Fred M. Wilcox
Walter Pidgeon

DVD title: The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
It couldn't have been better

This movie is perfect. From the beginning (the last alliance) and through the movie the only thing I could say about the movie was that Peter Jackson has done an exelent job. They have really managed to get everthing almost as good as Tolkien described it. Ofcourse, no movie can contain everything that is in the book. It would have been over four hours at least! The movie is also not too child friendly; it's exiting to watch. I can't wait for the next movie. I also recommend you all to watch the older Lord of the Rings (and the Hobbit) movies. They are quite good too.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Peter Jackson
Ian McKellen

DVD title: Pulp Fiction
Productgroup: DVD
Pulp Fiction - movie DVD cover picture
Excellent Movie!

I'm not really sure why I saw this movie but after seeing it, I have to say that this is packed with LOTS of VIOLENCE. It was a great movie, but I guess I wasn't prepared for PULP FICTION. It went so far out my boundaries that for almost half of the movie I was covering my eyes! I'm a big fan of action and vignette movies. Thought the 'action' was WAY too intense.
After the brutal scenes of violence I was left thinking if I should laugh or be shocked at the way the sequence was shown. The scene that came to my mind immediately (and one of my favorites) was when Samuel Jackson and John Travolta was in the car driving with a man on the backseat. WOW!! I'm sure the people who saw PULP FICTION know what part I'm talking about.
I guess the strong performances of the cast made it possible to make this movie what it is A VERY DARK ACTION/DRAMA/COMEDY

Studio: Miramax
Director: Quentin Tarantino
John Travolta
Samuel L. Jackson
Bruce Willis

DVD title: Dumb and Dumber
Productgroup: DVD
Dumb and Dumber - movie DVD cover picture
Best Carrey movie

I have to be honest - I'm not a big fan of Jim Carrey (or the Farelly brothers, for that matter). Other than this film, his only other watchable film is Liar Liar - which is only worthy of 3 stars. I must say, however, that I haven't laughed as hard as I have while watching this film. I often wondered how a guy like Jeff Daniels, who isn't exactly known for being a comic, could be so hilarious in a relatively new genre (for him, that is). But the chemistry between Lloyd (Carrey) and Harry (Daniels) is only comparable to that of Beavis & Butthead - they complement each other perfectly. It is mainly this chemistry that makes this film so funny.I can't imagine anyone's (anyone under 30, that is) comedy collection being without this film. It is one of my favorite movies, and I would certainly say that it's the best movie Carrey ever made.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Jim Carrey
Jeff Daniels
Lauren Holly

DVD title: Twelfth Night
Productgroup: DVD
Twelfth Night - movie DVD cover picture
Never Send a Boy to Do a Man's Job,Especially if He's a Girl

William Shakespeare's romantic comedy was well set in a 17th century English style background. The story is played out in the "appearing to be" British country side and hosts a cast of well renowned stars. When two devoted twins, Viola (Imogen Stubbs) and her brother Sebastian (Steven Mackintosh), are separated in a violent storm at sea, Viola, believing her brother to be drown, convinces the captain that saved her life to help her dress as a man and get a job with a local count. The two succeed in passing her off as a handsome young lad and Count Orsino (Toby Stephens) immediately takes her on as a personal companion and servant. Viola watches as the young and handsome Count pines for the Countess Olivia (Helen Bonham Carter) who will have nothing to do with him or his love pursuits as she determines to remain in grieving her dead brother. Tired of his suits being rejected, Orsino sends Viola, known to all as Sesario, to pay court to Olivia. Viola goes reluctantly, but does a better job at wooing that she suspects. Unfortunately, Olivia does not give into the love of Orsino, but rather falls head over heals in love with Viola, who finds her self desperately in love with Orsino. Another problem in the works is that Orsino is not the only man in love with Olivia. Her servant Malvolio (Nigel Hawthorne) and her cousin Sir Toby Belch's (Mel Smith) ward Sir Andrew Aguecheck (Richard E. Grant) are also vying for Olivia's affections while she has eyes for none save Viola, whom she thinks is a man. What a mess! Who will end up with whom in the end? Masterfully produced in the 17th century era with true Shakespearean English, this movie is quite enjoyable with both romance and comedy. Also among the star-studded cast is Ben Kingsly who portrays the wise fool Feste who fills the movie with extra humor, witty advice, and lovely song. It is quite enjoyable and is one of my favorite movies. It is right up there with Much Ado About Nothing.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Trevor Nunn
Helena Bonham Carter
Richard E. Grant

DVD title: The Time Machine
Productgroup: DVD
The Time Machine - movie DVD cover picture
"When it comes to time, we are prisoners."

I wonder how many minds were blown back in the day when George Pal's The Time Machine (1960) was released? I'm not so much speaking of the special effects (which were, and still are amazing), but more so the concepts presented within the film, with regards to traveling in the fourth dimension i.e. moving back and forth through time all while occupying the same space throughout...I know, I know, the ideas had been around for some time as author H.G. Wells had created the work the film was based on way back around the turn of the 20th century, but surely the film reached a large audience, quite a few probably never having read his novel. Produced and directed by George Pal (When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds), a pioneer in fantasy and sci-fi cinema, the film stars Rod Taylor (World Without End, The Birds), in what is probably his best-known role as George, a scientist with a hankering to break on through to the other side. Also appearing is Alan Young, whom many may recognize as the voice for Disney's Scrooge McDuck (he also was the only actor from the original film to appear in the recent 2002 remake starring Guy Pearce), Yvette Mimieux (Where the Boys Are, The Black Hole), Tom Helmore (Vertigo), Whit Bissell (Airport, Soylent Green), and Sebastian Cabot (Kismet), whom many may remember as the rotund Mr. French from the late 60's television show `Family Affair'.

The story begins in Victorian England with the arrival of a group of distinguished looking gentlemen to the home of their colleague George, played Rod Taylor. Thing is, George invited them for dinner, but has yet to appear himself, that is until he busts through the door, disheveled and unkempt, with what may be the most fantastic tale any one has ever heard, which takes us back five days prior as George, who's an inventor by the way, is having the same group over to reveal his latest invention, a machine that would allow for one to travel backwards and forwards through time. It's all theoretical as the device has yet to be tested, and George is met with skepticism by all except for one, his friend Filby (Young). Anyway, after the guests leave, George decides it's time to put his machine to the test, and what do you know? It Works! One should know the impetus for George's desire to travel forward in time is based on his dissatisfaction with the current state of human development, specifically out penchant for fighting with each other, and he desires to see a world without conflict, among other things. As he goes forward he stops a few times but that which he wishes to avoid continually presents itself, eventually driving him into the year 800,000 where the world has become an Eden-like paradise populated by people called the Eloi. There is no need to work, no laws, no gooberment, just a carefree lifestyle...with a hideous underbelly in the form of a group called the Morlocks, grotesque underground dwellers who are, well, what they are and share a chilling relationship with the Eloi...

I found this film to be great fun, and one of the best science fictions films I've seen in a long time. As far as its faithfulness to the source material, I couldn't really tell you, but I did get the feel that there was a lot of respect involved towards Wells' vision, especially given the film focused a great deal on the moral aspects and implications of who we are and how they may affect future generations. This, along with superior special effects (which earned the film an Academy Award for 1960) really helped sell the film overall. Some of the effects may seem quaint by today's standards, but back in the day this had to have been cutting edge stuff. The passage of time indicated by all the meticulous stop motion work, among other things, looks amazing. I also really liked the whole `Victorian' feel of the time machine itself, a sense that it was truly created within the time period specified. I thought Taylor did very well presenting a man driven by his desire to find the best in humanity, only to discover the more things change, the more they tend to stay the same. It felt like there was real growth from within the character, growth that stemmed from experiencing so much in so little time. I especially liked the character of Alan Young as Filby as to me he represented sort of the general populous of society, those who live their lives day to day, living within their world, content to make things better through small steps than great strides. I can't remember the specific dialog, but there was a scene that illustrated this well in where Filby tries to convince George to destroy his machine and makes a remark with regards to how we have to live within our time and make the best of it that we can...

Warner Brothers provides an excellent wide screen (1.66:1) transfer on this DVD. The colors are sharp and vibrant, and the picture quality nearly flawless. The audio, available in both English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), comes through clean and clear. There are some special features, including a theatrical trailer and cast and crew bios. Also included is a 47 minute documentary that looks like it was made for television broadcast as there's obvious stopping points for the inclusion of commercials. The piece, titled The Time Machine: The Journey Back, is hosted by the star of the original film Rod Taylor (looking much older), and offers a lot of details about the film, but the main focus seems to be on the machine itself, how it was developed, created, and its long and curious history after production on the original film ceased. This takes up most of the 47 minute running time, with what is left used to create a sort of reunion tale as some of the original actors resume their character roles for a short bit. I found this extra to be really interesting, and it helped me to appreciate the film even more, but I did feel it got a little schmaltzy (even creepy) at times, especially when Taylor would look up in the air and speak like he was talking to producer and director George Pal, who passed away in 1980, and I think this featurette was shot in 1993.


Oh, in case you're interested, there is no formal seating in the future, only throw pillows, so if you ever get a chance to travel forward in time, BYOC (bring your own chair)...

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: George Pal
Rod Taylor

DVD title: Kung Fu Hustle (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Kung Fu Hustle (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
70's kung fu + Matrix + Looney Tunes + West Side Story=KFH

Hilarious!! This movie had me on the floor from the first few minutes watching. Stephen Chow's latest movie is his best yet. This is better than Shaolin Soccer!! This movie has a particular humor to it and may not appeal to all viewers. It is twisted, violent, and surreal. Plot: The axe gang is taking over. Two thugs pretend to be part of the axe gang trying to collect money in a town where people laugh at them, because the town all seem to be kung fu masters. The real axe gang comes to town and the fun begins. Not your typical movie and from what I have heard this is the #1 selling HONG KONG movie. Check it out for a few good laughs!!

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Stephen Chow
Stephen Chow
Wah Yuen
Qiu Yuen
Sheng Yi Huang

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