Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Dogma
Productgroup: DVD
Dogma - movie DVD cover picture
Kevin Smith is incredible

This is a great movie. It is really funny and has a great story as well. The characters in this movie are very well thought out, and the gags laugh are once a minute. I own all the Smith films on DVD and am very proud to have this one in my colloection. Can't wait for Strikes Back!

Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Director: Kevin Smith
Matt Damon
Ben Affleck
Linda Fiorentino

DVD title: Explorers
Productgroup: DVD
Explorers - movie DVD cover picture
One of the best examples of family sci-fi.

---...with an unfortunate emphasis on the "almost."
The acting and directing talent devoted to EXPLORERS is impressive, and the production values are practically perfect. What gives this film a less-than-stellar place in the movie pantheon is precisely what most of the customer reviews condemn: those clownish damned aliens who are slugged into the third act in lieu of a climax.
All the tension-building so delightfully provided in the first two-thirds of EXPLORERS is wasted by a blow-off that fizzles in a fashion that gives new meaning to the word "disappointment." Instead of slapstick, the characters and their efforts warranted something serious, something as good as what you'll read in a *real* Heinlein juvenile (see HAVE SPACESUIT, WILL TRAVEL for the perfect example), making this a peripubescent "buddy" movie that would have been honest-to-ghod memorable.
Instead of what it is -- which is exceedingly "almost."

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Joe Dante
Ethan Hawke
River Phoenix

DVD title: Notorious
Productgroup: DVD
Notorious - movie DVD cover picture
Stunning example of Excitement, Intrigue and Romance

Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains lead an amazing cast through a world of suspence and romance. Hitchcock manages to fuze together a "strange love affair" with an all too suspenseful and escalating situation to throw viewers into a very involving and entertaining story. Rightly considered one of the greatest films Hitchcock ever made, this movie deserves a place on your shelf not only for its involving story but also its astonishing and skillful direction by argueably the greatest director of all time. No one better could lead a person through this world better than Hitchcock. An amazing and thought provoking film that should not be overlooked.
This DVD tends to be a bit expensive with its Criterion Collection features. The extra features of this DVD which include deleted scenes and alternative ending script ideas is a welcome bonus, and the commentaries from Hitchcock scholars are also very entertaining and informative. Don't let the price scare you away from owning this incredible movie.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cary Grant
Ingrid Bergman
Claude Rains

DVD title: Burden of Dreams - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Burden of Dreams -  Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Broken Down & Rebuilt Dream - Brilliant Depiction of Herzog

Werner Herzog's film Fitzcarraldo depicts a man's grueling journey towards self-fulfillment and personal dreams. Burden of Dreams tells the story from behind the camera, as Herzog finds himself in an almost five-year long struggle to accomplish a dream that nearly broke him physically, psychologically, socially, and economically in the Peruvian jungle. Despite the many obstacles, Herzog eventually managed to create a brilliant cinematic experience, which now can impress present and future film aficionados. Yet, before viewing this documentary, the audience should consider two notions that support the idea of viewing Fitzcarraldo first. First, the final product raises the awareness of why Herzog pursues making the film, which also helps learning from the filmmaking journey. Second, this documentary would spoil Fitzcarraldo, as it depicts and explains several scenes from the film. It ultimately would reduce the element of surprise and drama.

An interesting retrospective notion that comes to mind after the film is the comparable similarities that Herzog has with Fitzcarraldo who is the character that Klaus Kinski portrays in the film. They both have the desire to fulfill a dream to the level of obsession where both seem willing to risk it all in their endeavor. Herzog even mentions in the documentary, "I live my life, or I end my life with this project." This also suggests why Herzog believes that the film had to be done, as it provides a strong reflection of Herzog's own persona and his existential philosophy.

Often the journey of reaching a dream drifts into oblivion when the aftermath surfaces. On the other hand, Burden of Dreams makes sure that the audience does remember the importance of the struggle for dreams through Herzog's numerous predicaments. For example, his initial problems include border wars, death threats, and the departure of leading role actors, which consequently makes investors nervous. After having been set back for over a year Herzog commences the shooting of Fitzcarraldo, as difficulty continues to haunt the filming with drought, tribal war, and a plane crash. He even believes that a curse rests over the film production. All of these delays begin to have their toll on him and the rest of the filmmaking crew, as he begins to drift into an angry gloominess blaming the ever so close jungle.

All of the negative impacts that the film crew and cast experience are intensified by the Amazon jungle that surrounds them for thousands of miles. Originally, Herzog believed that isolation from civilization would bring out qualities in both the cast and crew that would heighten the cinematic experience. This concept had more validity than Herzog would ever have anticipated, as boredom begins to affect both the crew from the modern world and the natives who live by ancient traditions. Steadily morale keeps on sinking. Fortunately, a cure to the low morale rests within down-to-earth solutions. Yet, through the problems and the solutions Herzog begins to see the dark nature of the unforgiving jungle that seems to come closer and closer.

The director Les Blank objectively captures the clash between ancient and modern traditions, as the natives and the film crew interact in the tropical rainforest. The audience gets to observe the making of the traditional masato, an alcoholic beverage made of yuca chewed and fermented with human saliva. There is a also a scene in Fitzcarradlo where Kinski is supposed to drink masato to seal an agreement between him and the natives, but in fear of infection, Kinski avoids it by drinking canned milk. Despite the troubles, the camera effortlessly flows with the fatigued crew of Europeans, Americans, and natives, as they all have to endure the burden of Herzog's dream - Fitzcarraldo.

Previous documentaries such as American Movie (1999) and Lost in La Mancha (2002) offer similar experiences, but they do not achieve the anxiety that Burden of Dreams reaches. The forcefulness of the story rests within the topic, which in this case is Herzog and his desire to fulfill his dream. In many aspects, this documentary seems outlandish such as Herzog's idea of pulling a steamboat over a mountain and the abundance of problems that surrounded the making of Fitzcarraldo. Yet, it is within this madness, if you will, where Blank captures the power of dreams in a similar way that the bird Phoenix raises from the ashes.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Les Blank
Jason Robards
Claudia Cardinale
Klaus Kinski

DVD title: The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming
Productgroup: DVD
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming - movie DVD cover picture
An excellent lesson in Cold War era politics.

When a Russian submarine captain wants to "look" at America, the sub grounds. The ensuing errors, great lines, excellent physical comedy, and a great cast make this film a terrific choice for anyone who loves to laugh.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: Norman Jewison
Carl Reiner
Eva Marie Saint
Alan Arkin
Brian Keith
Jonathan Winters

DVD title: Arrested Development - Season One
Productgroup: DVD
Arrested Development - Season One - movie DVD cover picture
My attention has officially been "Arrested"...

Another classic example of another unfairly underrated, underappreciated TV show (joining the ranks of "Scrubs" and "The Office [NBC])"). This is by far the best comedy (and perhaps the most orginal comedy) on the air.

With more than a brilliant cast, this show sports an ingenious narrator (Ron Howard), writers, directors, and anyone else involved in it's production.

"Arrested Development" not only deserves the awards it's received, but all the ones it didn't. It also deserves both your devoted viewership and to be sitting in your DVD library.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Jason Bateman

DVD title: The White Stripes - Under Blackpool Lights
Productgroup: DVD
The White Stripes - Under Blackpool Lights - movie DVD cover picture
Pure Music!

The White Stripes have done what no other modern rock band can; kick ass. In a market which is dominanted by garbage, The White Stripes are the only REAL rock band out there. Everyone else pales in comparison. Are you listening Jet? This DVD shows just how raw and powerful the Stripes are live. My only hope is that this album is released as an audio CD at some point in the near future.

Studio: Bmg Distribution (VI
The White Stripes

DVD title: Save the Last Dance
Productgroup: DVD
Save the Last Dance - movie DVD cover picture
Yo Yo Check Yo

My home girl J-Stiles in in this movie so it rocks. Hi mama.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Thomas Carter (II)
Julia Stiles
Sean Patrick Thomas

DVD title: Good Will Hunting
Productgroup: DVD
Good Will Hunting - movie DVD cover picture
Good Will Hunting

First off I'd like to clarify that I'm really not a big fan of drama movies given a few exceptions. Good Will Hunting is indeed one of them. Not really knowing much about it and unaware of the props it had receiced, I watched it one evening when it came on TV. It was amazing.
The movies is about a boy named Will (Matt Damon) who with his friends, drinks, goes in and out of jobs, and tends to get in a fair amount of trouble. After he goes to jail he is let out on two conditions: he continues to educate himself and he sees a psychiatrist (Robim Williams). From there the movie takes off as both Williams and Damon begin to hatch away at the parts of their lives that have deeply affected them both.
The acting is superb and the overall feeling by the time the movie is over is just amazing. Like I said I'm not one to get emotional over a movie but by the time this one is over you can't help but to crack a smile.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Gus Van Sant
Robin Williams
Matt Damon
Ben Affleck

DVD title: Masterpiece Theatre - The Cazalets
Productgroup: DVD
Masterpiece Theatre - The Cazalets - movie DVD cover picture
Enjoyable... But Unfinished

The Cazalets is the story of a upper-class British family during WW II. I really liked it. You really get the feel that the characters are individuals and that their trials and tribulations are real. I particularly liked the stories of the young married wife Chloe and her relationship with the wounded soldier, and the friendships between the young cousins. I didn't care that much for the conscientious objector storyline that took up the third DVD. Perhaps if the character had been more endearing, but the kid was annoying, and the story took up way too much of the DVD. Overall, a good period drama. Too bad it isn't complete!

Studio: Wgbh
Director: Suri Krishnamma

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