Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Lord of the Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Special Extended DVD Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Lord of the Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Special Extended DVD Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Historic Achievement

How many films can you say will still be watched 10 years from now? In 20 years? 30? I can assure you, this will be one of them. Peter Jackson has exceeded himself to produce a bona fide historic achievement of truly epic proportions. This is cinema at its absolute best. Everyone involved deserves limitless praise. Thanks!

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Peter Jackson
Elijah Wood

DVD title: Once Upon a Time in the West
Productgroup: DVD
Once Upon a Time in the West - movie DVD cover picture

Every once in a while you'll read a book or listen to a record or see a film that transcends superlatives.
Once Upon A Time In The West (OUATITW) is solidly entrenched in that very select grouping.
Sergio Leone's epic and sprawling tribute to the American West of the latter half of the 19th century is so magnificent that there are no words to do it justice.
I've always felt that this film is not only the greatest film of its genre (with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly running a close second), but it might very well be the very best film ever made of ANY genre. Period..!!
Sergio Leone has captured the grandeur of the American's west's landscape better than any other director before him, including the great John Ford. For anybody who has ever driven the highways of Utah or Arizona around Monument Valley, it's impossible to look at those vistas without seeing Leone's vision or hearing Ennio Morricone's indescribably beautiful and haunting soundtrack.
I don't think there has ever been a collaberation between a film maker and a composer that has generated the artisitc genius and magic that these two gentlemen have conjured up. Morricone's music has become an integral partner of Leone's magnificent movies - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More - that it would be impossible to separate them.
Leone has created a magnificent story about three men, a woman and the land.
Henry Fonda spent a lifetime creating memorable characters, however, his portrayal of Frank, the hired gun of a ruthless railroad baron is perhaps his most riviting role. The early scene of a father and his children being shot and killed by a group of duster-clad men is very very powerful. However, nothing prepared the viewer when the camera slowly panned around and there was Henry Fonda looking down at his next victim - a young boy - who has witnessed the massacre.
Charles Bronson as Harmonica is wonderful casting as well. I can't recall seeing Bronson in a performance later in his career that matched his performance.
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Jason Robard's riviting performance as Cheyenne. Robards brings an incredible amount of depth to his performance of a wanted outlaw who is feared by everybody - but still recalls that his mother made a great cup of coffee - hot, strong and good..!! The scenes between Robards and Claudia Cardinale, the widow, are some of my favorites moments in the film.
It always struck me as ironic that it took an Italian director to creat a movie about the west that probably captured it better that any other director - before or after him.
I grew up watching American westerns and seeing characters that were always clean shaven, for example, with perfectly white teeth and walking around in well fitting, clean clothes and living in immaculate little homes.
Sergio Leone gave us a west where the men were always in need of a shave. Their clothes were tattered, at times, and didn't always fit perfectly. The buildings were ramshackle at times. And it was a violent time where life was oftentimes very cheap.
I've seen this movie dozens of time and it never fails to have an emotional impact on me.
It was this film that solidified my love of the American west and compelled me to move to the region from Toronto, Canada many years ago.
It was this film that enhanced my fascination and love of the history and culture of the American west of the 19th century.
This is an epic motion picture by a brilliant filmaker that deserves all of the accolades it has received over the years.
Thanks Sergio for this gem..!!

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Sergio Leone
Henry Fonda
Charles Bronson

DVD title: Man on the Train (L'Homme du Train)
Productgroup: DVD
Man on the Train (L'Homme du Train) - movie DVD cover picture

We imagine ourselves to have free will, but most humans follow a trajectory set for them by society, family, circumstances. While possible to alter his fate, an individual will rarely put forward the strenuous effort to do so.

In "Man on the Train", two apparently different men meet by odd chance in a small town in France. One, Milan, is a rugged, tough criminal, an adventurer, a "doer". The other, Manesquier, is a frail, provincial retired school teacher...a dullard, a dreamer. Despite these differences, both men are weary of their lives, their destinies, to which they seem tethered like oxen to cart.

Milan dislikes his rootless life of crime. Manequier is bored with his predictable, provincial life. The two meet at a time when mortality confonts each one. The criminal intuits that an apparently easy bank robbery could be dangerous. The school-teacher will undergo triple-bypass surgery. Death provides the impetus and the serendipitous encounter provide the opportunity for the two men to shirk their fates momentarily and live the life they dream. Milan can be a comfortable "bourgeois de campagne" and Manequier, a roaming daredevil.

In the end, both men, whose lives seem so divergent, meet the same fate. One remembers, while viewing this film, Heidegger's instructions on the importance of keeping death present in our mind, if we are to lead complete lives. The two heroes of this story-at least briefly-accomplish this. Johny Hallyday (Milan) turns out to be a much better actor than pop-star in this thought-provoking, nuanced film.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Patrice Leconte
Jean Rochefort
Johnny Hallyday
Jean-François Stévenin

DVD title: Hopscotch - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Hopscotch - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
One of the BEST....rivals Casablanca!

HOPSCOTCH is one of the best all-time flicks! Great characters, superb acting...Ned is F___ing Great! And of course, Walter is as versatile and charming as ever. See this movie!!!

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Ronald Neame
Walter Matthau
Glenda Jackson

DVD title: Smoke Signals
Productgroup: DVD
Smoke Signals - movie DVD cover picture
fun, family movie with great message

If you have ever felt that somehow your life could be different if only your parents or ancestors or tribe or forefathers had somehow done things differently, this is a movie with a wonderful, up-lifting, freeing message. If you are part American Indian, you will appreciate the theme and subtle underlying messages even better.
The movie does a great job at subtly poking fun at some American Indian stereotypes, but never too seriously, (and never insulting to us white folks!) No violence, no horror, just a beautiful, funny story that kept my family (boys ages 5-14, husband, brother and sister-in-law) interested to the very end.
The cover to the VHS tape is misleading. It is a poor representation of what to expect from this movie. The girl on the cover plays a very small role. The VHS cover makes you think the movie is a cliched "road trip with two guys and a girl movie" and it is not!
Thank you to the producers, writers, directors, and actors for a fine movie! Please, follow it up with more. Hey, Victor!

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Chris Eyre
Adam Beach
Evan Adams

DVD title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Full Screen Edition) (Harry Potter 1)
Productgroup: DVD
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Full Screen Edition) (Harry Potter 1) - movie DVD cover picture

First off, I am a thirty year old male with three children. When this movie was first released I had no idea who Harry Potter was, but my kids were very excited. When I took them to see it I was totally impressed, so much so I went out and bought all four books to read for myself.
Now second, all this negative feedback about the movie compared to the book has got to stop. You have to realize that the film makers have to take a four hundred page book and reduce it into a two hour movie. They do not have the time to go into all the detail of the characters background. When was the last time any of you have seen a movie, based on a book, be 100% right on. Let me answer this. NEVER.
Thank You.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Chris Columbus
Daniel Radcliffe

DVD title: Dazed and Confused
Productgroup: DVD
Dazed and Confused - movie DVD cover picture
Awesome Movie- based on MY highschool!

Dazed and Confused is a great movie and it really represents the '70s and even today's life of many highschool students. This movie was actually based on my highschool- Robert E. Lee- in Texas. I even know some parents who still live here today who actually took place in the things they did and went to the parties. On the movie it shows initiations of the freshman...last year I was initiated myself! Yep, still goes on at our school. Except the guys don't get a beat down anymore- but they do get all of their hair shaved off. It's a tradition at Lee. If you're a stoner/hippie...or just a teenager or anyone who grew up in the '70s, I'm sure you'd love this movie!

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Richard Linklater
Jason London
Rory Cochrane
Wiley Wiggins
Matthew McConaughey

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

This great DVD has lots of great footage, including Buddy Guy playing a killer version of MONEY. However, the best treat is rare footage of MASHMAKHAN, one of the great (unfortunately mostly unknown outside of Canada) bands of the 60s. I only wish they would have included video versions of "Days when we are free" or their magnum opus "Mr. Tree". Wonderful players!!

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

DVD title: Gladiator
Productgroup: DVD
Gladiator - movie DVD cover picture
I'd give it 6 stars if I could!

It has been a while since we have seen a film of such epic proportions that actually lives up to it's billing. This is quite possibly the best movie I have ever seen. A beautifully scripted and superbly acted movie "Gladiator" delivers on every facet a good film should have. Many will look at this movie and see an action adventure movie, but nothing could be further from the truth. What I love about this movie is the story. So many big budget films lose track of the story as they throw effect after affect at you to dazzle your senses. "Gladiator" never strays from its original story line. It is a classic struggle of good against evil; a reluctant hero against an abominable tyrant. It is the story of Maximus (Russell Crowe) a celebrated Roman General who is betrayed by the Emperor's son Commodus (Jaquin Pheonix). After suffering the loss of his wife and son, Maximus is taken as a slave and forced by his owner (Oliver Reed) to fight as a Gladiator. Maximus' reputation quickly grows and soon he finds himself fighting in the Rome before throngs of people, and before the man that ruined his life.
Ridley Scott's (Blade Runner, Alien) direction is nearly flawless, as he takes you through the majestic scenes of ancient Rome, and the marvelously choreographed battle scenes. His understated use of special effects is outstanding, bringing a very real look and feel to the film. Though the fighting scenes are often full of blood and gore, it is never gratuitous, and always artful.
Russell Crowe (who will most certainly garner a Best Actor nod) is outstanding as the title character, and though he is often larger than life his portrayal never lets you forget that he is only a man, and not superhuman. Crowe's acting has continued to draw accolades from fans and critics alike, and they have most certainly continued with "Gladiator". His presence is tough and masculine, but he can also be very caring and understanding as well. I look for many great things to come from Crowe. If you have never seen Russell Crowe before, you should check out his performances in "LA Confidential" "Mystery Alaska" "Virtuosity" and maybe even "The Quick and the Dead" with Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman.
Jaquin Pheonix is a lesser-known actor, but I am sure that all of that will change come Oscar time. His portrayal of the tortured young Emperor Commodus is dark and emotional, and he does a terrific job of making an audience hate him. Several key roles in the film are filled with wonderful veteran actors. Richard Harris is his usual brilliant self as the aging Caesar Marcus Aurelius, and Oliver Reed(who passed on during filming) as the former Gladiator turned slave trader. Reed many will recognize from "The Three Musketeers".
Due to the many Oscar nominations that are sure to come from this film, it's video release date will surely be delayed, but as soon as it does I will have a copy for my collection.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Ridley Scott
Russell Crowe
Joaquin Phoenix
Connie Nielsen

DVD title: Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (2-Disc Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (2-Disc Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Ship Ahoy

Okay, I went to see it on opening night, and all I can say is that this is one of the best live-action flicks Disney has released in years! Excelent actors, the special FX don't overshadow the story, plenty of sword fighting and swashbuckling, and eye-candy. The jokes are actualy funny, and if you pay attention you can catch some side reffrences to Tresure Island! There is something in this movie for everyone, and I'm going to go see it in the theatre again AND buy what ever special edition DVD they release.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Gore Verbinski
Johnny Depp
Geoffrey Rush
Orlando Bloom
Keira Knightley
Jonathan Pryce

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