Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: A Beautiful Mind (Full Screen Awards Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
A Beautiful Mind (Full Screen Awards Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Inside a tortured mind of genius.

Back in February 2002, week, my wife, our son, and I made an unusual evening foray to the town nearest our home having a theater in it. The theater is one of those multiplexes (yes, Maine does have `em!!) with 14 theaters in the same building. After driving the 32 miles to the theater complex, we found ourselves faced with a veritable treasure trove of excellent choices... among them "Black Hawk Down," "John Q," "A Beautiful Mind," and "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring." We opted for "A Beautiful Mind," mainly because it looked like the movie that would be the most interesting to all three of us, and because we've always enjoyed movies directed by Ron Howard.
"A Beautiful Mind," winner of the "Best Picture" Oscar at the most recent Academy Awards, is perhaps one of the finest movies we've seen in quite some time! Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, and Christopher Plummer, this movie held all of us spellbound for its entire two-plus hour running time. "A Beautiful Mind" features a superb cast, an outstanding story line (based on actual persons and events) and a wonderful script.
"A Beautiful Mind" tells the story of John Forbes Nash, a brilliant mathematician whose pioneering work on game theory ultimately won for him the Nobel Prize in Economics, but whose "beautiful mind..." brilliant as it was... was tortured by the most debilitating form mental illness imaginable: paranoid schizophrenia.
Everything about this movie is superb! Russell Crowe is magnificent as the tortured genius John Nash. From quiet, nervous, socially inept scholar, to intense code-breaker, to delusional mental patient, Crowe keeps viewers constantly on the edge of their seats with his completely believable interpretation of the mind of a schizophrenic. It is, in my view, Crowe's best performance ever... and there have been a lot of good ones!
Jennifer Connelly is excellent as Alicia Nash. Appearing next to Crowe must have been rather daunting for her. She not only held her own next to the man who is rapidly becoming one of Hollywood's truly great actors; she illuminated her scenes with her own considerable talent. In Connelly's capable hands, her character shows tenderness, compassion, and a strength of character that must have been the hallmark of the real person she so capably portrays.
Ed Harris brings his usual superlative skills as a character actor to the role of the shadowy William Parcher, the man who recruits Nash into the world of Cold War code-breaking.
After the acting, the most impressive feature of "A Beautiful Mind" is the technique director Ron Howard uses to portray the phantasmic state of John Nash's mind. I don't want to offer too many details here, for to do so would be to provide a major "spoiler" for those who haven't seen the movie yet. Suffice it to say, the technique is surprising and very effective. Viewers may occasionally feel themselves a bit unsure of where the story is going (as I did), but rest assured... everything is made clear by the end of the film.
Before we watched "A Beautiful Mind," I had seen a television interview with director Ron Howard in which he talked about the making of the film. In this interview, Howard stated that he had decided, as much as possible, to shoot in chronological order... in other words, the earliest scenes were shot first, the latest scenes last. According to Howard, this is a technique hardly ever used by directors; he attributes much of the movie's best qualities to shooting in sequential order.
I tend to agree with Howard's assessment of his own work. The movie has a decidedly ensemble-like feel to it despite a relatively large cast. Everyone is so good in their part, and every scene flows so seamlessly into the one that follows that it seemed to us, throughout the film's two-plus hour running time, like we were witnesses to an actual unfolding drama. I seriously doubt that "A Beautiful Mind" would have been as intensely dramatic or as effective a vehicle for such a highly complex, intelligently told story.
If you haven't guessed by now, my wife, our son, and I are unanimous in our verdict on "A Beautiful Mind:" this film is a "must see.". If you've seen it already, watch it again!!

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Ron Howard
Russell Crowe
Ed Harris

DVD title: Wild Strawberries - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Wild Strawberries - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
A typically playful Bergman masterpiece.

'Wild Strawberries' is a road movie. Whereas the American road movie moves forward through space, the Euroepan variant moves backwards through time, and the places and people 78-year-old Isak Borg meets are actually landmarks from his personal history, as he tries to find out how he ended up a cold, lonely old man alienated from his family.
'Strawberries' has been considered Bergman's most serene work, almost every frame lucidly monochrome, meticulously composed and bathed in light, the cinematic equivalent of a Chekhov play. But like the Bergman film to which it has most affiliations, 'Fanny and Alexander', the surface benevolence masks great emotional turbulence. The film is framed as a memoir, Borg looking back over the day's events, in control. But the different registers - between dream, reality, projection and memory - clear-cut to begin with, start to slip out of his control, so that what seem like 'real' scenes (e.g. the hitch-hiker Sarah, the petrol station) are labyrinthine in their ambiguity.
The film's movement is less towards reconciliation and understanding than infantalisation, detachment and denial. In this light, Victor Sjostrom's swansong performance is less the embodiment of benevolent old age than a more complex (and, for the audience, truthful) kind of cunning.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Victor Sjöström
Bibi Andersson

DVD title: Reilly - Ace of Spies
Productgroup: DVD
Reilly - Ace of Spies - movie DVD cover picture
A close look at what spies are really like

At a time when the James Bond films were still novel and going strong, as were their imitators, British television viewers were watching a 10.5 hour, 12-part miniseries called "Reilly, Ace of Spies." Based on the biography by Robin Bruce Lockhart, this intriguing series is now available in a boxed set of 4 A&E DVDs (AAE-71748) and makes for some really gripping viewing.

With Sam Neill in the title role, we follow the career of the man who taught British intelligence that if ruthlessness gets the job done, then ruthless spies are what they need. Sidney Reilly, an assumed name as is learned later, remains loyal to friends but not altogether to his employers and casual acquaintances. And if he treats his wives questionably when his job gets in the way, he makes up for it by treating all the other women with great feeling and tenderness.

Having little patience with incompetence on any level, he gets a huge contract for battleships for Russia away from a British firm and to a German firm for which he works, he gets oil concessions, he steals plans by posing as a fire expert in Germany, and he finally tries to make himself head of a provisional government that will overthrow the Bolshevik regime. And so on.

Along the way he runs into two great villains: Basil Zaharov (Leo McKern, who can say more with a look than most actors can with a page of text), and the icy head of Soviet Intelligence Felix Dzerzhinsky (Tom Bell), who has set up a phony organization that pretends to be against Stalin and rakes in millions from rich anti-Bolsheviks all over the world. A frightening moment comes when Stalin (David Burke) orders all in the group to be shot, because even following orders to appear disloyal "is no excuse"! Which is what happens when personal power is far more important than human beings.

Other major characters are Reilly's boss Cummings (Norman Rodway), his fellow agent Hill (Hugh Fraser), and an astute oriental police officer (David Suchet).

Like another two series about spies, "Tinker Tailor" and "Smiley's People," the story is complex, you never quite know at first who is who and who is lying more than the others. Except for some possibly supernatural business towards the end, you watch with both fascination and a vague disgust that this is what many people are really like-and that, from what we see, it is not the meek who are doing any inheriting.

Fascinating and provocative viewing on a definitely "adult" level (i.e., lots of violence and a lot of naked flesh, the latter of which is pretty gratuitous). Neill does a marvelous job of portraying the complex and highly ambiguous main character.

There is an interesting documentary of the real Reilly as a bonus feature, which should be seen after the series, not before.

Studio: A&E Home Video
Sam Neill

DVD title: The Howling (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Howling (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Awesome movie about werewolves.

I think that the Howling is a great classic horror film, in werewolf's movies. This movie is not the same as other ones(the Wolf Man), and it has really great special effects, when I bought it I saw it like 20 times, I've got really obsessed, cause a my dad recomended it to me, you're gonna love it.

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: Joe Dante
Dee Wallace-Stone
Patrick Macnee

DVD title: Agatha Christie's Miss Marple - Collection 2
Productgroup: DVD
Agatha Christie's Miss Marple - Collection 2 - movie DVD cover picture

Anything that can inspire MatronsApron to write a song about it must be of some merit. A compelling series of mystery stories, each with its own type of clanicity.

Studio: A & E Entertainment
Agatha Christie's Miss Marple
Agatha Christie

DVD title: Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies
Productgroup: DVD
Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies - movie DVD cover picture
A Valuable "Disney Treasure"

With more than five hours of material, this "Silly Symphonies" collection remains the best of the limited-edition "Walt Disney Treasures" series. The two-DVD set includes some of the finest animated shorts in pristine condition -- notably "The Skeleton Dance" (1929), "Flowers and Trees" (1932), "The Three Little Pigs" (1933), "Music Land" (1935) and "The Old Mill" (1937). For cartoon buffs, the "Silly Symphonies" package is a must-have. For the uninitiated, it is the perfect introduction to Disney's early work.

Studio: Disney Studios
Director: Burt Gillett

DVD title: Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 2 (Born to Kill / Clash by Night / Crossfire / Dillinger (1945) / The Narrow Margin (1952))
Productgroup: DVD
Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 2 (Born to Kill / Clash by Night / Crossfire / Dillinger (1945) / The Narrow Margin (1952)) - movie DVD cover picture
Very Cool Classics

You can't go wrong with this purchase. These are timeless films with timeless actors.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Claire Trevor

DVD title: Stealth (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Stealth (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
don't be stealthy from stealth

It's almost too easy with a title like "Stealth"..."Stealth never gets off the ground", "Stealth flies below everyones radar", "Stealth Bombs"....okay I'll stop now. "Stealth" is actually okay, but really nothing we haven't seen before. It takes parts of "Top Gun" and meshes them together with a generic sci-fi plot that we have seen before in movies ranging from "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Killdozer", "Eve of Destruction" and the "Terminator" series. And while it's not very original, "Stealth" makes the most of it's special effects budget. Some of the action sequences, while hardly believeable, make for a nice distraction. Jamie Foxx fans really shouldn't bother with the movie though, as he is relegated to a minor character role. The rest of the cast looks somewhat familiar, and they do a decent job with what they are given, but make no mistake about it, the robotic plane is the real star of the film. What really bugged me about this film though, was the heavy handed political-correctness shown throughout. Sure you get the obligitory "terrorists" shooting AK-47's in the air, but then you have to have the military supposedly worried about taking out the "terrorists" because they live right by a farming community??!! Let me get this straight, according to the film, we are in a dilemma about letting a madman get four nuclear warheads, because we don't want to hurt a handful of potato farmers? And you also get the rainbow coalition of leading stars. And of course the middle ages white-guy-politicians are the real bad guys. I just want my bad guys to be bad guys in these types of flicks, I want my heroes to dispose of the bad guys in some cool manner, then make some sort of witty or ironic remark, ala McBain from The Simpsons. So unless a bunch of CGI jets doing stunts sounds like your cup of tea, I would avoid this one.

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Rob Cohen
Josh Lucas
Jessica Biel
Jamie Foxx

DVD title: The Hunt for Red October
Productgroup: DVD
The Hunt for Red October - movie DVD cover picture
Excellent Movie

Having read many of Clancy's books, including "The Hunt for Red October" I can honestly say that of the three books (this, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger) that have been turned into movies (The Sum of Fears and Rainbow Six are apparently in production now) this is the best one. It is most faithful to the book's plot (with some minor deviations) and is enjoyable. Its hard to go wrong with Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin (although I think Ford was a better Jack Ryan.)
If you like the Clancy stories, this is the film to see. It keeps with the story and sucessfully transplants the suspense of the book into film form. An overall enjoyable picture.

Studio: Paramount Studio
Director: John McTiernan
Sean Connery
Alec Baldwin

DVD title: G3 - Live in Denver
Productgroup: DVD
G3 - Live in Denver - movie DVD cover picture
i waited for this - the dream come true - realy great!

this dvd is must have for all their fans.the cd recorded one day after the dvd and has some great songs that you cant find in the dvd (and you cant find few songs in the cd , so i bought both).the cd recorded live at the uptown theater , kansas city missouri on october 21 , 2003 while the dvd recorded live at the fillmore auditorium , denver colorado on october 20, 2003and you can get different songs on it. the cd included great version of " crystal planet" ( satriani) "reaping & "whispering a prayer" ( vai) " trilogy suit op.5" & great version of " red house" ( malmsteen). the dvd included better version of " i know youre here " ( vai) and great version of " far beyond the sun & bargue and roll from " attack" ( malmsteen). this dvd is must have . if you realy a fan the double cd is must have for you!you dont have to choose or compare between thefirst g3 live performance with eric johnson to live in denver with malmsteen . joe satriani - please continue where you stopped and bring us more dvd's like those you brought to us . i welcomed them , they are definetly ***** stars!!!! for your fans ( malmsteen, vai or joe satriani's fan around the world).

Studio: Sony Music Entertain
Joe Satriani
Steve Vai
Yngwie Malmsteen

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