Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: James Taylor Live at the Beacon Theatre
Productgroup: DVD
James Taylor Live at the Beacon Theatre - movie DVD cover picture
JT stands for Just Terrific

Simply put, this DVD is one of the top 5 concert DVD's released to date. Sound quality can't be beat. Voices and high notes are crystal clear, the bass rocks. Likewise, the image quality and saturation is excellent.
Some of the songs, "Steam Roller" for instance, is done in a new and refresing style. This disc has all his major hits along with some of some of his more obsquere songs mixed with some of the songs off "Hourglass."
If you are anything from a casual fan upward, this DVD is a must buy.
If I had to voice one complaint, it would be the audiance. What a group of reserved stuff shirts. Some of the songs he performed, I could hardly sit still and I am 54. Very few stood and grooved with JT. I have had two groups of people in my home theater to watch this concert and we were all up dancing, claping and singing along. I have been to see James Taylor in concert and he got almost everyone up at it to.

Studio: Sony/Columbia
Director: Beth McCarthy-Miller
James Taylor

DVD title: Picnic
Productgroup: DVD
Picnic - movie DVD cover picture
A movie to be remembered from these 100 years almost past!

I saw this movie when I was in high school and will never forget the chemistry between Holden & Novak. It's a shame the studio isn't releasing it. Maybe if they see enough of us want it they will.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Joshua Logan
William Holden
Kim Novak

DVD title: Norah Jones and The Handsome Band - Live in 2004
Productgroup: DVD
Norah Jones and The Handsome Band - Live in 2004 - movie DVD cover picture
sounds great!

Wow! Someone complaining about vocals being too far forward in the mix on a Norah Jones DVD?!? Go figure! And the bass is too boomy?!? NO! That's an upright bass. It sounds exactly like what it's supposed to sound like! This is not the best sounding DVD I have ever heard (IMO, that would be the John Denver Wildlife Concert), but it's darn good! I do think it could have looked better. It probably should have been HD video, not film, but it's okay for what it is. I'm just glad it's widescreen. If you're a fan of Norah Jones, you MUST have this!

Studio: Emi Distribution
Norah Jones

DVD title: The Harder They Fall
Productgroup: DVD
The Harder They Fall - movie DVD cover picture
A Knockout

Whenever a new boxing film is being hyped, we inevitably get someone's list of great boxing films, yet The Harder They Fall never makes those lists. Screenwriter Philip Yordan and director Mark Robson took Budd Schulberg's tough but somewhat diffuse and repetitive novel and condensed it into an excellent film adaptation that is still a timely indictment of the corruption and brutality in the world of boxing. This was Bogart's last film, and actor's last films are generally terrible, but Bogie went out with a classic. The performances are generally excellent, and the scenes with Steiger and Bogart work beautifully, with Steiger's aggressive, fast-talking, almost lunging forward attack matched by Bogart's wary, laconic, reactive style of acting. Also excellent is the underrated Nehemiah Persoff, an Actors Studio alumnus, who himself resembles Steiger and who gave excellent support in numerous films and TV shows. Perhaps the film's only flaw is Bogart's 11th hour moral conversion, but it is acceptable enough and does lead to a final, excellent scene between Bogart and Steiger.

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Mark Robson
Humphrey Bogart
Rod Steiger

DVD title: Love Me Tonight
Productgroup: DVD
Love Me Tonight - movie DVD cover picture
Wonderful Froth And Outstanding Songs

"Once upon a time there was a princess and a prince charming...who was not a prince but who was charming...and they lived happily ever after." These are the final words of one of the most influential of Hollywood musicals. It has a frothy book, an outstanding Rodgers and Hart score and a style that brought a whole new look to the clunky musicals which were being cranked out at the time. The story is told with such lightness and style that Lubitsch, I think, would have been proud to have directed it. A poor Parisian tailor (Maurice Chevalier) is determined to collect on the large bill a downbeat nobleman has run up. He travels to a magnificent estate where he was told he will be paid, but on a road he encounters a beautiful young woman (Jeanette MacDonald). He falls instantly in love but she goes on her way. Arriving at the estate, he is mistaken for a wealthy baron. He's about to tell the truth when he spies the girl...she is a princess! And he decides not to say that he is just a tailor. There are mixups, mistaken encounters, another suitor who is a drip, and a guardian (C. Aubrey Smith) who is formidable. But love will find a way, and it does.

Chevalier is funny, masculine and endearing. And while MacDonald isn't exactly spontaneous, she is at least better than adequate. The rest of the cast is great. C. Aubrey Smith is steadfast, as usual, but he shows a funny side not often seen in his other movies. He also does a very nice job of singing a chorus of "Mimi". There's Myrna Loy on the make, Charles Butterworth as the twit and Charlie Ruggles as the deadbeat. They're all first rate farceurs.

Mamoulian brings much lightness and speed to the movie, as well as a good deal of pre-code naughtiness. When a doctor examines the princess in her negligee he tells her " I'm going to examine your heart...both sides." He pronounces her healthy, but notes "with a figure like that, you're not wasting away. You're just wasted."

Mamoulian's not afraid to be unconventional, beginning with starting the movie with a slowly growing chorus of early-morning Paris sounds of cans being emptied, rugs beaten and horses clopping. Rather than assign Rodgers and Hart specific songs to compose, he brought them in early and had them develop the whole musical structure of the movie. This included their first attempts at rhyming dialogue, which works just fine in several of the scenes. Rodgers, Hart and Mamoulian came up with the idea of a song that would be handed off from one character to another, and Rodgers and Hart developed "Isn't It Romantic." Chevalier starts the song, passes it off to a customer buying a suit, who passes it off to a cab driver, where it's picked up by a poet/passenger, who passes it off to a train full of French soldiers, who pass it off to a group of marching soldiers, where it's taken up by a young gypsy boy who plays the melody on a violin, where the song is taken up by other gypsies around a campfire, and it is at last passed along to the princess on her balcony. The sequence goes on for several minutes, the song moves at different tempi and with different words, and is absolutely charming. Here are some of the words: Isn't it romantic?/ Music in the night, a dream that can be heard./ Isn't it romantic?/ Moving shadows write the oldest magic word/ I hear the breezes playing in the trees above/ while all the world is saying you were meant for love./ Isn't it romantic?/ Merely to be young on such a night as this?/ Isn't it romantic?/ Every note that's sung is like a lover's kiss./ Sweet symbols in the moonlight,/ do you mean that I will fall in love, per chance?/ Isn't it romance? And then version two: Isn't it romantic?/ While I sit around my love can scrub the floor/ She'll kiss me every hour or she'll get the sack/ and when I take a shower she can scrub my back./ Isn't it romantic./ On a moonlight night she'll cook me onion soup./ Kiddies are romantic,/ and if we don't fight we soon will have a troupe./ We'll help the population;/ it's a duty that we owe to dear old France.\ Isn't it romance? This hand-off style is also used with "Mimi," and it is just as clever and amusing. Rodgers and Hart also came up with "Lover." Those who remember Peggy Lee's driving, passionate version should get a surprise. With the same lyrics and a clever pun or two, MacDonald sings the song in part to her horse.

If you're interested in how the Hollywood movie developed, if you like great songs, and if you enjoy a frothy, clever story with expert performances, this might be a movie to add to your collection. The DVD picture looks great. There are several extras, including an audio commentary by Miles Kreuger, who knows a lot about American musicals. There also is an informative insert.

Studio: Kino International
Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Maurice Chevalier
Jeanette MacDonald

DVD title: The Invisible Man
Productgroup: DVD
The Invisible Man - movie DVD cover picture
The Invisible Man

It was around 1934 when I first heard about this movie. Its debut came the same time as the Depression, therefore I never saw The Invisible Man in the movie theatre. While surfing the web I came across this movie at and to my amazement it was the original movie from 1934. I had to order it immediately and it quickly arrived at my home. I was very impressed with the movie. It has a good mix of comedy and suspense; the special effects are very realistic. The movie's theme is current with today, as it depicts a person who gain power over other people and then uses their powers for unjust purposes. This is a truly a classic/entertaining movie and well worth the money.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: James Whale
Claude Rains
Gloria Stuart

DVD title: Cruel Intentions (Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Cruel Intentions (Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
good psychological movie, great quality

I love it. What else to say ? Annette is a loveable character and remarkably played by Reese Witherspoon; as to the ugly couple/brother-and-sister Kathryn/Sebastian, they are really unpleasant from start to finish, so the end of the movie is really a happy relief; meanwhile poor Cecile is manipulated a lot by these two characters. Altogether it is a good movie if you are interested in psychology and close-knit relationships.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Roger Kumble
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Ryan Phillippe
Reese Witherspoon

DVD title: Key Largo
Productgroup: DVD
Key Largo - movie DVD cover picture
Edward G. Robinson Steals the Picture

This is Robinson's bravura performance and he steals the show utterly from Bogie, who is outstanding but not shown to his best advantage here. Bogie has a more supporting role here, and Robinson's characterization of the nasty Johnny Rocco is one of the great villainous performance in screen history. How can anyone forget when Robinson sneers to Bogie, "Rocco wants more. Yeah, that's right, MORE!"
The under-rated but always superb Lionel Barrymore gives a marvelous performance as Bacall's father-in-law. His scenes with Bogie and Robinson are all tour de force. Claire Trevor's pathetically drunken singing scene is touching, as she belts out a torch song just to get her drink refilled because Johnny Rocco promised her. At the conclusion of her song, she grabs for the bourbon, only to have Rocco take it from her.
"But Johnny," she wails, "You promised!" Rocco sneers, "Too bad. You were lousy."
The only slight criticism is Bacall, who gives a lackluster performance. Her character is not essential to the screeplay and one senses Huston just threw her onboard in order to be near Bogie. No matter, Barrymore and Robinson carry this picture, which is a deserved classic.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: John Huston
Humphrey Bogart
Edward G. Robinson
Lauren Bacall

DVD title: Toto - 25th Anniversary (Live in Amsterdam)
Productgroup: DVD
Toto - 25th Anniversary (Live in Amsterdam) - movie DVD cover picture
Excellent Musicianship

This is the best Toto's live concert ever! Great opening with Goodbye Girl, Goodbye Elenore musical arrangement. Wait to see the "Waiting for Your Love" medley, and others. My favorite is "I Won't Hold You Back" and the great finale with "White Sister". Bobby Kimball, David Paich, Mike Porcaro and Sir Steve Lukather performing better than ever.

Studio: Red Distribution, In
Steve Lukather

DVD title: Born To Defence
Productgroup: DVD
Born To Defence - movie DVD cover picture
Some fierce fighting

I know a lot of others think this movie stinks b/c it has a horrible story line and it's a dark movie and there is not fantasy to it... but what I LOVE about it is that they do some pretty funky fighting. Jet Li actually does some serious funky fighting in this movie. There is a lot of rage, anger, and bitterness that comes out of this movie. I personally like the last fight scene. It's got a lot of boxing/kick boxing style fighting in it from the Navy guys and Jet Li doesn't get to fly around and do much of his 'wire works'(using wires to fly around on). But the best thing about this movie is that they don't make him look like an invincible guy(like they usually do)... and he actually get's beat up pretty bad.I like it myself though, It's not a bad movie. You should buy it if you are a Jet Li fan.

Studio: Cav Distributing Corp
Director: Jet Li

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