Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Order - From Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle 3
Productgroup: DVD
The Order - From Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle 3 - movie DVD cover picture

The Cremaster Cycle is a series of five films shot over eight years. Although they can be seen individually, the best experience is seeing them all together (like Wagner's Ring Cycle) - and also researching as much as you can beforehand. To give you an idea of the magnitude, it has been suggested that their fulfilment confirms creator Matthew Barney as the most important American artist of his generation (New York Times Magazine).

The Cremaster films are works of art in the sense that the critical faculties you use whilst watching them are ones you might more normally use in, say, the Tate Modern, than in an art house cinema. They are entirely made up of symbols, have only the slimmest of linear plots, and experiencing them leaves you with a sense of awe, of more questions and inspirations than closed-book answers. The imagery is at once grotesque, beautiful, challenging, puzzling and stupendous. Any review can only hope to touch on the significance of such an event, but a few clues might be of interest, so for what it's worth ...

Starting with the title. The 'Cremaster' is a muscle that acts to retract the testes. This keeps the testes warm and protected from injury. (If you keep this in mind as you view the piece it will be easier to find other clues and make sense of the myriad allusions to anatomical development, sexual differentiation, and the period of embryonic sexual development - including the period when the outcome is still unknown. The films, which can be viewed in any order (though chronologically is probably better than numerically) range from Cremaster 1 (most 'ascended' or undifferentiated state) to Cremaster 5 (most 'descended'). The official Cremaster website contains helpful synopses.

Cremaster 3 is the longest (3hrs) and most complex of the Cycle. It charts the construction of the Chrysler Building and looks at the forces of spiritual transcendence (which can in itself be taken as a metaphor). It quotes Lombardi: "Character is an integration of habits of conduct superimposed on temperament ... Character is will, exercised on disposition, thought, emotion and action." We have a mythological prologue, then an Apprentice who scales the Chrysler Building by means of one of the lift shafts and takes part in a Masonic ritual. Before winning his Masonic instruments he must become the master of lust and his own ego. This penultimate stage is set in a section called 'The Order' comprising Five Degrees of Initiation.

The Guggenheim Museum (which houses a parallel exhibition) describes the Cremaster Cycle as "a self-enclosed aesthetic system consisting of five feature-length films that explore processes of creation." As film, the Cremaster Cycle is one to experience in the cinema if you have the opportunity to do so, or to experience and re-experience at leisure on DVD (the boxed set is promised for late 2004 and will be a gem for lovers of art-cinema fusion).

Barney plays the Entered Apprentice and his opponents include the Order of the Rainbow for Girls (who look a lot like the Rockettes), Agnostic Front and Murphy's Law (two New York Hardcore bands), Aimee Mullins, and Richard Serra. Molten Vaseline, dental surgery, a demolition derby by vintage Chrysler Imperial New Yorker cars and a gorgeous creature who is half-cheetah/half woman all figure in this latest edition of Matthew Barney's fever dream. Much of the action takes place in two New York landmarks, the Chrysler Building and the Guggenheim Museum, as well as at the Saratoga Racetrack (upstate NY), the Giant's Causeway (Ireland) and Fingal's cave (the Scottish Isle of Staffa).

Studio: Umvd/Visual Entertai
Director: Matthew Barney

DVD title: Leap Frog - Letter Factory
Productgroup: DVD
Leap Frog - Letter Factory - movie DVD cover picture
Way to go Leap Frog!!

This is a dvd that I don't mind playing over and over for my 3 and 4 year old. They love it! The dvd has great little songs that are so catchy that my kids sing them all day long. We have bought a ton of leap frog products and always have been so happy with the results. I hope they make more videos.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Leap Frog

DVD title: The Worst Witch (The Movie)
Productgroup: DVD
The Worst Witch (The Movie) - movie DVD cover picture
Growing up isn't easy

The worst witch has been one of my favorite movies ever since I was a kid. The songs are spectacular and the whole atmosphere of the movie is to die for. I highly recomend the Worst Witch to children everywhere and anyone else who happens enjoys the darker side of life.

Studio: Bfs Entertainment/Mu
Director: Robert Young (III)

DVD title: Excalibur
Productgroup: DVD
Excalibur - movie DVD cover picture
The Erotic retelling of the Arthurian Legend

If you're into the legend of Camelot, then this is the film for you..pulls no punches with the violent nature of the times, and is the story of King Arthur's rise to the monarchy of Camelot from his conception, and what an incredible little twist in the plot brings us to the actual moment of it! Uther sees young Igrayne sensually dancing,and swivelling her hips during a banquet. But she is bethroed to a rival...he eyes her lustily, he swears he must have her, and later strikes up a deal with Merlin, that he may lay with Igrayne for one lust filled night, in exchange for the product of their union. Kudos to John Boorman, as the scene is incredibly set up and shot in a way that can only be described as sheer artistic Igrayne's real husband is off fighting a brutal battle, Uther is transformed into his rival...he rides into the castle, on the Dragon's breath, and ravishes her, kissing her roughly, while tearing off her dress. Then, in front of a roaring fire, he consumates his lust, incredibly making passionate love to her naked body, while still wearing his tank-like armor! Highly erotic, and fearless love scene, that I have yet to see outdone in any NC-17 film. The rest of the film is just as powerful, showing Arthur's rise and fall. Then the Knights of the Round Table seek out the Holy Grail in vain, and Lancelot betrays Arthur, loving Guenevere behind his back...the battle scenes are very realistic, and watch for a young Jean Luc Picard as one of the knights...highly recommended. Too bad the films of today anywhere near this genre are weak, and fearful...Long live Boorman...he gave us one of the best erotic scenes in the history of film.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: John Boorman
Nigel Terry
Helen Mirren

DVD title: Friends - The Complete Second Season
Productgroup: DVD
Friends - The Complete Second Season - movie DVD cover picture
Friends season 2 Collection

Fanilly, we can relax. i mean for i the past 26 days or so, Warner bros. had been, killing us, i mean on FRIENDS COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, it had the promo, For FRIEND SEASON 2 COLLECTION, but no release date, now finally, we know when season 2 will be out. 9/3/02, and oddly 100 days to the relsease. Now to add to your BEST OF FRIENDS VOL.1-2 AND VOL.3-4, and SEASON ONE COLLECTION.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Lisa Kudrow

DVD title: The Song of Bernadette
Productgroup: DVD
The Song of Bernadette - movie DVD cover picture
Bernadette gets the Fox dvd treatment

Finally, one of the greatest films from the 40s gets released on dvd and Fox has done a wonderful job here. I will skip the details about the film itself (which have already been written here) except to say that it is a very compelling film and features one of the best casts ever. You don't have to be religious to enjoy the film either (I'm not) and despite the length, it doesn't seem that long (it's that good). Jennifer Jones gives an inspired performance and is luminous in her Oscar winning performance.
The image quality is very good - there are a few noticeable nicks and scratches but nothing to be concerned about. A restoration comparison is provided and when compared with the older prints, it is excellent indeed.
Extras include a brief clip of a visibly nervous Jennifer Jones accepting an award from the GIs. Also, a superb A&E Biography titled "Jennifer Jones - Portrait of a Lady" which covers her life in detail and provides many excellent clips from her illustrous film career.
Commentary is provided by Jones biographer Edward Epstein, Hollywood historian Donald Spoto and Alfred Newman biographer John Burlingame. I was a tad disappointed with the commentary. Epstein is by far the most interesting with his commentary that discusses Jennifer Jones. Spoto is an expert on religion (as well as Hollywood history) and I found his thoughts on the relgious aspects of the film to be quite boring and seemingly pompous. Burlingame's comments on Newman are interesting but I would have rather heard about the film itself. What would have been wonderful - a commentary with Jennifer Jones! I wonder if Fox tried to contact her?
Overall, well worth the price and a valuable addition to your dvd library!

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Henry King
William Eythe
Charles Bickford
Jennifer Jones

DVD title: The Exorcist (25th Anniversary Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Exorcist (25th Anniversary Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
So good!

This film is a work of pure brilliance. Nurtured like none other by William Friedkin and written superbly by William Peter Blatty, it fluctuates between utterly disturbing and compulsively watchable. The character development in this movie--aided by the top-notch, A+ casting job--gives you raw emotion at many levels, making the film real and shocking. There is a general pathos about this film--a personality that (I mentioned this in another review) few other movies have. This one has it--it's present from the very first notes of the score to the last fade-out. Because it is so authentic, <<The Exorcist>> has been credited as the #1 horror movie rather than an Oscar contender. It should have been given more professional accolades--few movies serve its purpose as well as this one does. On one hand it is an obvious struggle between good and evil; on the other it is a provocative study on human tendencies and emotion; and lastly it is a test of faith, and not just the faith that asks whether you attend church or not--the faith that questions the reality and makes good seem dishonest. Everyone should see this movie: I think Friedkin himself said it best, that (paraphrasing) "People get out of <<The Exorcist>> what they bring into it." That holds true today, and will probably be the accepted philosophy as this film continues to attract audiences in the future.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: William Friedkin
Ellen Burstyn
Max von Sydow
Linda Blair

DVD title: Led Zeppelin
Productgroup: DVD
Led Zeppelin - movie DVD cover picture
Saw them live in '73 & 5X in '75 - this is the real deal

I was lucky enough to see LZ in 73 & a bunch of times in Feb 1975 @ MSG, NYC, at which they may have filmed a shot or two from Song Remains the Same. This band was so see them evolve from 1971 where JP wears those geeky tennis shoes to the glitz of MSG with the clothes, a cocky rock band who were the greatest and knew it, to the acoustic set (brilliant, esp The Art of Dying...never knew ANYone used a Danelectro guitar for real) the older, post-death-of-Plant's-son-Carec at Knebsworth show, which was so great. I play (or try to) most of those tunes - seeing "What is...." in 1971 blew me away, and No One's Fault but Mine was a treat, the definitive solo in Stairway, plus the JP handling of playing multiple tracks (as you hear on the CDs/albums)at one time (as in R&R and Ocean) is instructional as well as professional..the man has talent, skill, balls and so what if he's sloppy - that's his style.
I don't know how many times I've played a track or 2 here and there - it's such an unbelievable collection. It's great yet saddening to recall my teenage days, how young and great THEY looked and sounded, and how time passes so quickly you gotta capture these moments in time because they are powerful and pass so quickly....has it been 30 years?

Studio: Wea Corp
Director: Jimmy Page
Dick Carruthers

DVD title: Presenting Lily Mars
Productgroup: DVD
Presenting Lily Mars - movie DVD cover picture

All I have to say is that this movie is just too cool! It is one of my favorite Judy movies, let alone just one of my favorites in general! Judy is looking so gorgeous, and Ven Heflin is pretty handsome too if you ask me! This movie is just sheer fun, its funny, the songs are amazing, the acting is great, its just a blast from begining to end!

Director: Norman Taurog

DVD title: Bombay
Productgroup: DVD
Bombay - movie DVD cover picture
Great Movie.

Wonderful depiction of the Bombay Riots which occured over a decade ago. Its an excellent love story with great music.

Studio: Qualiton Imports Ltd
Director: Mani Ratnam

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