Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Lost Weekend
Productgroup: DVD
The Lost Weekend - movie DVD cover picture
Hollywood's greatest alcoholism drama

Topping even I'LL CRY TOMORROW (1955) and DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES (1962), Billy Wilder's Oscar-winning THE LOST WEEKEND (1945) is the greatest alcoholism drama in Hollywood's history. In the performance of a lifetime, Ray Milland plays Don Birnham, a New York writer who goes on a weekend binge when his unpleasant brother (Phillip Terry) and girl friend Helen (Jane Wyman) go on vacation. His goal is to finish a novel while alone in Manhattan, but the bottle gets the best of him.

This is a harrowing drama for adults and a powerful cautionary drama about the horrors of alcohol. To think that it passed the Hays Office censor board and came out of mainstream Hollywood makes one momentarily proud. Wilder seemed to have a genius, along with writer Charles Brackett, for getting controversial material approved by the censors-DOUBLE INDEMNITY, SUNSET BLVD., ACE IN THE HOLE, and this. Repeatedly, he made masterpiece after masterpiece that still does Hollywood proud and helped the film industry grow up bit by bit. My Mom keeps reminding me that he also did them with no profanity at all when I swear too much.

WEEKEND opens with a dolly in shot of a bottle of alcohol dangling by a string out a Manhattan apartment window-Birnham's hidden bottle. But his brother finds it and pours it down the drain. How to get more booze after brother and Helen leave? Birnham sweet-talks the semi-friendly local bartender Bim (Howard da Silva, who should have also been Oscar-nominated). Sitting for hours in the bar, Don tells Bim in flashback how he met Helen at an opera performance.

Later, in the present day, he tries to hock his typewriter instead of writing with it, but today is Sunday. He finds another bottle of booze, I don't know what kind as a non-drinker, hiding in a light fixture. Instead of writing, he drinks and drinks and drinks...and has horrifying d.t.'s in a scene that is still chilling and overwhelming. He ends up in the alcoholic ward of Bellevue Hospital. Legend has it that Wilder filmed this sequence on location inside Bellevue by showing the administrators a bogus "G"-rated children's screenplay. Two years later, George Seaton sought to film his MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) inside Bellevue, with Santa Claus getting psychiatric treatment--and was refused. Poor Bellevue did not want to get suckered again!

THE LOST WEEKEND is a masterpiece. I believe the Charles Jackson source novel is even bleaker. His Don Birnham is gay and has no girl friend (or boy friend) to help him get sober. I think he is still an alcoholic at the book's end. I might be wrong because I have not read it. Screenwriters Wilder and Brackett want something tentatively positive, if not completely happy, for their great movie. I won't tell you what it is. But I will say the ending is unforgettable and exhilarating--the camera that tracked in at the beginning to a bottle of booze hanging out a window now pulls back from the same window with no bottle. Powerful voice-over as we pan along an apartment wall to a matte painting of the Manhattan skyline and Miklos Rozsa's powerful music swelling up: "And out there in that great big concrete jungle, I wonder how many others there are like me, poor bedeviled guys on fire with thirst. Such comical figures to the rest of the world as they stagger blindly toward another binge, another bender, another spree." So ends one of the greatest dramas in movie history and the definitive alcoholism drama. THE LOST WEEKEND does Hollywood proud. (Reviewed from an old VHS tape copy.)

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Billy Wilder
Ray Milland
Jane Wyman

DVD title: Lost Films of Laurel & Hardy 4
Productgroup: DVD
Lost Films of Laurel & Hardy 4 - movie DVD cover picture
Sound Problem Fixed

i think they are so funny can anybody tell me the name of the film where they have to get a piano up loads of stairs (does it really matter if the sound is not that good)

Studio: Image Entertainment

DVD title: The Residents - Icky Flix
Productgroup: DVD
The Residents - Icky Flix - movie DVD cover picture
The reason DVDs were invented - literally

Back in the 70's, innovators tried to come up with a system that would allow you to watch a musical film and have several different audio tracks. First, they came up with the laserdisc, and from this came DVD. FINALLY, DVD is being used the way it's supposed to. This is just a great quality DVD all around. (I mean, you can watch the music videos with a choice of TWO audio tracks - that is just so f-ing CLASSY!) The music videos are all pretty rockin, and often thought-provoking. The Residents are just the best, aren't they?

Studio: East Side Digital

DVD title: The Godfather DVD Collection
Productgroup: DVD
The Godfather DVD Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Young Man's Review

I never knew movies could be that wonderful and such greatly made with all the little details to capture an imagination.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Marlon Brando
Al Pacino
Robert De Niro
Al Pacino

DVD title: Murder in Portland
Productgroup: DVD
Murder in Portland - movie DVD cover picture

(...)All three of RAF's films take place in Olympia, WA. I watched "Murder" first and then, in a single afternoon, the first two as well. Their formula varies little, and includes: unusually cute young men (at least one of whom is troubled, new in town, and/or needs help); a sex scene or two (in the context of loving partners); a variety of characters of all ages and persuasions (their apparent use of street people is reminiscent of Gus Van Sant); a healthy dose of sex-ed and gay politics; good music. It works. The stories are interesting (even touching), the characters are winning (often beautiful), and the endings are positive.
"Murder" centers around a young and extraordinarily handsome 'straight' cop (not credited by role so I don't know his name, malheureusement), who is recruited to investigate the killing of two gay men. To say he learns MUCH about the gay community he infiltrates would be rather a zenith in understatement. Suffice it to say, he is dedicated to his work and goes 'under cover' in more ways than one to solve the crime.
All the RAF films have plenty to offer if you just look beyond their low-budget parameters and drink in the actors, characters, stories, and message. I can't wait for the next one, along with the pleasure of a sweet, funny, character-driven movie in this age of macho, jingoistic nonsense.

Director: Gael Richards

DVD title: The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries - Death at the Opera / The Rising of the Moon / Laurels Are Poison / The Worsted Viper
Productgroup: DVD
The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries - Death at the Opera / The Rising of the Moon / Laurels Are Poison / The Worsted Viper - movie DVD cover picture
The Mystery of Mrs. Bradley and Mr. Moody

Diana Rigg must have relished the role of an iconoclastic, Roaring 20's woman renowned as a happenstance crime-solver and sex-manual author. As Adela Bradley and her chauffeur George Moody travel to diverse destinations, they become embroiled in intriguingly convoluted, yet credible circumstances of murder. Though each of the four episodes results in a perfectly served-up solution, mystery lingers as to the nature of the relationship between mistress and driver. Is romance brewing between the two, or is Mrs. Bradley merely stirring the simmering pot of social upheaval? What is the audience to make of her countless coy gestures and pregnant expressions or of George's sparks of jealousy and demonstrations of rapt admiration? The question adds spice to the series' delectable stew of sly cultural commentary and expostulation upon the human enigma, rendering it imminently rewatchable!

Studio: Wgbh

DVD title: Christine
Productgroup: DVD
Christine - movie DVD cover picture
I Want One!!!!

I generally dislike anything connected to Steven King. By contrast, Christine hit a chord with me.
Its not about the car trying to kill people or the nut who cant give up his baby.
Its about the assembly line switching from craftsmanship built in to every model to cookie cutter workmanship.
Christine is getting reveange against greedy executives for selling out to cheap parts and motorized boxes.
Beside an outstanding script and excellent acting, I fell in love with the sound track. Before this movie, I had never heard "Bad To The Bone". Now its one of my favorites!!!!
Secretly we all wish for a homicidal classic that could run modern motor nightmares off the road for good!!!!

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: John Carpenter
Keith Gordon
John Stockwell

DVD title: Fearless
Productgroup: DVD
Fearless - movie DVD cover picture
It?ll make you think

Without going into any deep philosophical ponderings, let's just say that if you do not come to the end of this film without being emotionally gutted from head to toe, there's something wrong. Max Klein's (Jeff Bridges) near-death-experience aboard a doomed aircraft becomes marital death for wife Laura (Isabella Rossellini) as he transcends into a ecstatic state of invulnerabilty to a lifetime shackled by fear. Carla (Rosie Perez), whose despondence is due to the death of her infant son in the same crash, is mentored by the eccentric sensibilities that liberate him from his past. Unfortunately, this liberation includes his relationship with Laura, who struggles to re-connect with a husband whose experience she only relates to as the near-death victim of a doomed marriage.
Peter Weir could have trimmed some scenes here and there to assist with the pace, but the emotional payoff of the final sequence makes the long trip worth your while. "Fearless" conveys the axiom that vulnerability and weakness is the common thread of all mankind. Separated by invincible courage, Max Klein is dead to his loved ones, and must be brought back to life.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Peter Weir
Jeff Bridges
Isabella Rossellini
Rosie Perez

DVD title: Brazil - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Brazil - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Simply brilliant

This movie is director Terry Gilliam at his best. The compelling story of a man trapped within the clutches of his work and the government, and searching for some escape from it. Jonathan Pryce and Kim Greist give us a stunning performance as two meant to be lovers on a quest for liberation. Michael Palin (Monty Python alumnus) as usual, does some great work as Jack, the interrogator. Along with some great scenes with Robert DeNiro as Harry Tuttle, and Bob Hoskins as the hilarious "Central Services" employee Spor. Along with what is probably the most twisted ending to a film I've ever seen, it is a must see for all. END

Studio: Criterion Collection
De Niro
Terry Gilliam

DVD title: Midnight Madness
Productgroup: DVD
Midnight Madness - movie DVD cover picture

I am one of the many people who saw this on HBO back in the eighties. It's a funny movie -- kind of cheesy, but it has an innocence about it. A lot of great lines, and it's also kid friendly. It's hard to explain -- maybe it's the nostalgia talking, but it has a sort of charm to it. Highly recommended.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
David Naughton
Debra Clinger

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