Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Ray (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Ray (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

I was blessed to have the opportunity to open for Ray Charles during my freshman year in college as a member of our jazz orchestra. To actually personally witness this genious was absolutely inexplicable. After watching the film, I was so ashamed of the state of Georgia (I'm from Atlanta) I had no idea he was treated in this manner (I was 8 years old when the ban was lifted in 1979).

This DVD is a certified masterpiece! I do wish, however, that there were more extras. After all, we are talking about someone who has done so much for American music, despite his visual impairment. The timing for this movie was perfect. I couldn't imagine anyone else masterfully portraying Ray Charles other than Jamie Foxx. The supporting cast was awesome as well, full of extremely talented and highly underrated actors and actresses. This film further immortalizes the "genious" as an American legend for many decades to come.

Rest in peace, Ray. Thank you for approving this film and allowing us to take a peek into your life before you left us. Jamie did you proud!

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Taylor Hackford
Jamie Foxx
Kerry Washington
Regina King

DVD title: Gospel
Productgroup: DVD
Gospel - movie DVD cover picture
Wonderful, Anointed, Vintage Gospel

This is a must see video of the late James Cleveland,the appointed, Pastor Shirley Ceaser, Bishop Walter Hawkins, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, and the Dynamic Clark Sisters.... I have watched this video over & over and can not get enough of the wonderful sounds of each gospel artist in this movie.... From the Mighty Clouds of Joy quartet sound,to the grand finale in the end with Walter Hawkins and his group... this is a must see video... James Cleveland, Shirley Ceaser and The Clark Sisters each prove that they rule the gospel circuit in male soloist, female soloist and female group category respectively. I encourage you to buy this movie..It is a must see treat! God bless you... Juan L. Maultsby

Studio: Delta Library Compan
James Cleveland
Walter Hawkins
Twinkie Clark
Shirley Caesar

DVD title: From the Earth to the Moon
Productgroup: DVD
From the Earth to the Moon - movie DVD cover picture
One small step.

I really enjoyed the series. It shows all the problems which were involved, not only the technical ones, but also all the political and logistical problems as well. It very well reflects the enormous amount of money, resources and manpower involved in this grand event. Enjoyed it till the last minute.

Studio: Hbo Studios
From the Earth to the Moon

DVD title: The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

putting me to sleep?
Okay. The first one did, too. I really enjoyed the parts when I wasn't dozing off. Gollum is absolutely engaging and wonderfully realized. He was my favorite character in the movie--indeed, in both episodes combined. It was a mistake for Gimli to be the comic relief. Rhys-Davies just isn't up to it. In that regard, we have what I think is the only serious flaw in Part II--the lack of a sufficiently "light" character to add depth and pleasure to the film.
Then again--yawn--why did I find myself nodding off at various points? Could it be that this movie is too long? Heaven forbid! Could it be that the battle scene was stretched out to the point of being, well, exhausting and a bit over-cooked? Not possible! Might it be that the "American Express" commercial look and feel (reminiscent of moments from the hideous "Gladiator") to the flashbacks triggered a nascent narcolepsy? How could that be?!
Let's call this film for what it is. A fine movie, but certainly not an example of any sort of economy--of time, of plot, of action, or of scenery. But, given the need to convert Tolkein's legendary books to the screen, the central flaw in them has joined us for the ride. The Lord of the Rings books, for all their wonder, are, well, a bit on the boring side for long stretches. You'd have to be a Middle Earth glutton to think otherwise.
One thing this movie, and the first, did well is to show that the ring is technology and mastery over the world, and that our lust for it--so appropos in today's day and age--is going to lead to our destruction. Few, ironically, seem to get it. Fewer still understand that Tokien, a luddite of the first order, was condemning the engine of modern Europe and, more pointedly, America, where in a few short years we've acquired more Gollums (can you say, "Bill Gates," but certainly the rest of us, too) than one might have ever imagined. Here's to empty-hearted, lustful, compelling, dehumanizing, and meaningless attraction to progress, science, and money!
Just don't look in the mirror too long.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Peter Jackson
Elijah Wood
Ian McKellen
Viggo Mortensen

DVD title: Forrest Gump
Productgroup: DVD
Forrest Gump - movie DVD cover picture

Without a doubt the funniest novel I have ever read. This book won't change your life or mess with your emotions, but if you could read a book as funny as this one you would live a very long a happy life. I would recommend it to anyone(over the age of 15-harsh language)

Studio: Paramount Studio
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Tom Hanks
Robin Wright Penn
Gary Sinise
Sally Field

DVD title: Dracula
Productgroup: DVD
Dracula - movie DVD cover picture
The English and Spanish versions of the Universal classic

Bela Lugosi simply is Count Dracula; his brilliant performance in this 1931 classic, the first supernatural-based "talkie," defined the role, and - somewhat unfortunately - the role defined him for the rest of his career. Lugosi was born to play Dracula, and the influence he and this film continue to have in the movie business is really amazing. When you go back and watch the film today, though, a number of problems pop up for those with a discerning eye - these do not lessen the impact of the film, but they do make you conscious of the fact that Dracula could actually have been an even greater film than it was. This fact is brought home even more forcefully when you watch the Spanish version of the film, for it really is a much better film than its English counterpart. If only Paul Kohner had been allowed to produce the English version, combining the virtuoso performances of Bela Lugosi and Dwight Frye with the superior story quality and atmospheric powers of the Spanish version, Dracula might well still be in theaters today, enjoying a 73-year run.
Dracula was blessed with a top-notch group of actors and actresses. It's hard to believe that Bela Lugosi was not the first choice for the role of the Count, but at the time he was a relatively unknown immigrant actor. His accent, mannerisms, and unparalleled, unquantifiable presence made him perfect for the role. He had already played Dracula hundreds of times on stage, but Lon Chaney, Sr., would have played the part had he not died of cancer a few months before Dracula started production. By that time, the movie budget was down to almost nothing, and almost nothing is basically what Lugosi got paid for his amazing work. Dwight Frye is superb as poor Renfield, Dracula's reluctant henchman and servant eventually torn between serving his master and saving the life of Mina (Helen Chandler), the damsel in distress. Frye's ability to vividly project the manic madness of Renfield stands as the best supporting acting job I've ever seen; Renfield constantly steals the show from everyone but Dracula himself.
Since this film basically defines Dracula and vampires themselves in the realm of popular culture, it's amazing to go back and see just how big a difference there is between Bram Stoker's novel and this 1931 production (the movie doesn't even begin to compare with the novel). The very opening, for example, wanders far afield from Stoker's vision - here we see Renfield rather than Jonathan Harker making the trip to Dracula's castle in Transylvania in order to finalize the Count's move to jolly old England. This major switch does much to further endear Renfield to our hearts, but it does tend to make Jonathan Harker into an ineffective character. Then you have the very appearance of the villain - Bela Lugosi's suave, hypnotically charming Count Dracula is a far cry from the hideous vampire of Stoker's novel. The film has a few continuity problems and really quite silly gaffes here and there, although these do not get in the way of the story, but there were obvious problems with direction and budgeting. The economic burdens of the Great Depression took a chunk out of the Dracula budget, and you end up with a film of one hour fifteen minutes that should have run a good deal longer. There are minor continuity problems, a few scenes that seem to be cut off prematurely, and several questions and ideas not adequately answered or resolved.
The Spanish version of Dracula is a real treat indeed. Running a half hour longer than the English version, this movie did not leave nearly as many gaps in the storyline and actually added much insight into the work as a whole. The Spanish cast and crew shot their own version of the movie on the same sets, working through the nights to produce their own very different version of Dracula. Lupita Tovar is wonderful as Eva Seward, and the cast and crew really come together to outperform most of their English-speaking counterparts. The men playing Dracula and Van Helsing tend to overact a bit at times (and Carlos Villarias had the misfortune to be someone other than Bela Lugosi attempting to play Count Dracula), but the Spanish version is a superior film that possesses a warmth and sense of humanity somewhat lacking in the rather cold and calculated atmosphere of the American version.
In a sense, you get three versions of 1931's Dracula here: the standard English language version, that same version featuring a new musical score composed by Philip Glass (and played by the Kronos Quartet), and the Spanish language version. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Many fans are not enamored with the Glass score, but I think it works very well at times, particularly in those silent moments when we watch Dracula creeping up to the bed of his next female victim. If you could combine the best of all three versions of the film, you would get not only the ultimate Dracula film but the ultimate horror film of all time. Each version is well worth watching.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Tod Browning
Philip Glass
Bela Lugosi
Helen Chandler
David Manners

DVD title: The Monster Legacy Collection (Frankenstein / Dracula / The Wolf Man)
Productgroup: DVD
The Monster Legacy Collection (Frankenstein / Dracula / The Wolf Man) - movie DVD cover picture

Wonderful films, magnificant music, fascinating documentaries - very high quality for a very low price. The commentary of AgeofAnxiety below says everything about the relative quality of the films. Only one complaint - the conclusion of this story is not in the collection. "Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein" is the final masterpeice that brings Dracula (Lugosi), Frankenstein (Glen Strange), and Wolfman (Lon Chaney) together with far greater success than do the "House of Dracula" and "House of Frankenstein" films shown here. Buy this one as well and enjoy the entire saga!

Studio: Universal Studios Ho
Claude Rains

DVD title: The Silence of the Lambs - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
The Silence of the Lambs - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
One of the best movies of all time!

This movie is truly one of the best movies I have ever seen. The storyline is rivoting and the performances are brilliant. This is one of those rare movies that stays with you for weeks after seeing it. Anthony Hopkins and Jodies Foster give the performances of their lives! No horror story ever made leaves one with the impact of this movie. If you have not seen this yet, do not miss it!

Studio: Home Vision Entertainment
Director: Jonathan Demme
Jodie Foster
Anthony Hopkins

DVD title: Double, Double, Toil & Trouble
Productgroup: DVD
Double, Double, Toil & Trouble - movie DVD cover picture


Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Stuart Margolin

DVD title: Jennifer 8
Productgroup: DVD
Jennifer 8 - movie DVD cover picture
Fabulous Cop Drama!!!!

This is one of the greatest suspense movies I've seen in a long time. The twists and turns keep you on the edge up until the perfect unsuspected ending. Kathy Baker gives an AMAZING performance (as she always does!) Oh, and of course, ladies, even if you don't really like this kind of movie, who would give up the chance to stare at Andy Garcia for two hours?!? Everything about this movie is 100% entertaining!! Add it to your collection!!

Studio: Paramount Studio
Director: Bruce Robinson
Andy Garcia
Uma Thurman

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