Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: FernGully - The Last Rainforest
Productgroup: DVD
FernGully - The Last Rainforest - movie DVD cover picture
Kids will learn, Parents will Laugh!

I never saw this when it was in the theaters. My kids watched it at my sister-in-laws and fell in love with it. Since they started asking all kinds of questions about the rainforest, I had to watch the whole thing too. Now I sit to watch it on purpose! It is funny, the music is great and Robin Williams is terrific as Batty Koda. Plus, it teaches kids a good lesson about conserving our natural resources.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Bill Kroyer
Tim Curry
Samantha Mathis
Christian Slater
Robin Williams

DVD title: Poltergeist
Productgroup: DVD
Poltergeist - movie DVD cover picture
"Y'all mind hanging back? You're jammin' the frequencies."

Here we go. This is the story that gave me my life-long fear of clowns and creepy-looking trees with faces, when I was misguided enough to prove myself a "big boy" to my older sister oh so long ago. She got me good with this one.

Widely regarded as one of the most troubled, cursed, and overwrought productions in the history of Hollywood, "Poltergeist" was -- in a way -- Steven Spielberg's swan song to being a legitimate horror director. Extreme fans of this film often wonder when a Special Edition of the movie will make it to DVD, with loads of tasty extras, deleted scenes, and making-of documentaries. Answer: probably never. I know it ain't gonna happen anytime soon. Too much controversy and on-set secrets that wish never to be brought to public light.

The film itself: steadfast competition for Spielberg's other venture that same summer of '82 -- "E.T." I think we all know which got the more attention. In the Editorial Review is an interesting hypothesis abut how the two films might reflect polar opposite memories for Spielberg in suburbia. Nice idea, it could have some truth. But I like to think of Spielberg's "Poltergeist" script as the final dissertation to a horrendous bout of private paranormal research. (The antithesis to this may be "Always".) Alright, let's climb the rollercoaster...

The Freeling Family (name importance: the culture of Steven and Diane's past: the hippies; and how they become prisoners in their own home) wakes up late one night to the littlest daughter Carol Ann speaking into the television static of a disconnected station. Seconds before, while "The Star-Spangled Banner" bellows the last commercial of the night, the camera lens is literally up against the TV monitor, close enough to trace every pixel, inviting us to look THROUGH THEM... Nothing too serious to start.

Several unrelated instances succeed that, most of them sort of humorous (silverware bends on its own, a milk glass shatters, the pet bird dies, etc.). But the strange things begin to grow in frequency and in power (levitating chairs, Carol Ann makes mention of "the TV people") until the spirits from the television flat-out invade the house -- shaking it to its very foundation -- and abducting Carol Ann into a netherworld portal placed in the child's closet. They're tricky bastards, too. Not above creating a fatal diversion.

Obviously unable to cope with something so fantastic on their own, the family solicits the help of University Paranormal Researchers (Dr. Lesh, Bryan, Marty) to not investigate the spirits in their house -- but to find a way through them to get Carol Ann back. They don't care about the haunting (they do, but...), but their little girl is SOMEWHERE inside the house. I swear, if anyone wants a reference subject on how to be not just great but IDEAL parents... emulate the Freelings. I would show this film in a child-rearing class in a heartbeat.

Real helps seems to arrive with a rather potent clairvoyant, Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein), who maps out and enacts a cross-plane rescue mission to pull Carol Ann back to this Earth, and thereby "cleaning" the house of demonic infestation... or so they think... Spielberg literally breaks Hell out of the ground in the final 15 minutes: an effects free-for-all that launches carcasses at the family as they scramble madcap for the open road, culminating in a hair-raising, spine-shivering implosion big enough to swallow the house.

If this is not Spielberg's most cohesive script, it is assuredly one of his smartest. The consistencies in research I've done on my own are (unintended pun) dead-on (cold spots, peripheral motion, globules, loud growls and bangs, etc.). But I just adore Tangina's monologue about the nature of "death" and the subsequent facts of WHY the spirits have taken the girl: there is an implicit purpose. (A chief detail just skimmed over in dialogue is that Carol Ann was born INSIDE the house, thereby amplifying her lifeforce to the restless spirits that occupy the ground beneath them.) In the writing... was Spielberg trying to create the coolest set of parents in the world, or what? Even if he wasn't trying to, I think he pretty much did. Oh, who cares if they smoke joints before bed? That makes them all the more relatable to me, because, though they are bonafide family people, Steven and Diane are still hippies at heart. They're all too human... facing a truly inhuman adversary.

Jobeth Williams was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Diane Freeling and she was robbed. This is fact. Want proof? Observe the extended reaction shot Tobe Hooper (this is what the man's famous for) puts on her during Tangina's monologue mentioned above. That look on her face represents PRIMAL, HELPLESS FEAR (not seen since the original "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" back in '74) strong enough to freeze the very tears on her cheeks. Her entire embodiment of Diane Freeling is acting of a transcendant caliber.

Future Oscar-winner Stephen Hunter Flick's sound design will shake your bones. The dead silence in the house, Diane working up some nerve, to look insi-- A HURRICANE SCREAMS AND RAGES INSIDE THE ROOM--!! Hoo, boy.

"Poltergeist" (a German word translated as "knocking ghost") is one of those rare entertainments that goes beyond its category. Sure, look at the front box, and you'll slide it into the Horror section. But this film's heart, what this ghost story is *about*... is the impossible lengths good parents will go to to protect their children. (Upon Diane's first face-to-face encounter with The Beast: "NOOO!! DON'T YOU TOUCH MY BABIES!!") Diane breaches the afterlife for her daughter without so much as a backwards glance.

A genuine and deserved staple in the "American Horror" canon, "Poltergeist" is a madhouse frightfest, a wrenching family drama... and just one helluva good time at the movies.

Studio: Turner Entertainment
Director: Tobe Hooper
JoBeth Williams
Heather O'Rourke

DVD title: Simon and Garfunkel - The Concert in Central Park
Productgroup: DVD
Simon and Garfunkel - The Concert in Central Park - movie DVD cover picture
Ladies and gentlemen "Simon and Garfunkel"

To the 1/2 million people that attended this historic central park concert, the sound of Mayor Ed Koch introducing Simon and Garfunkel was the was the beginning of a very special evening. Both Paul and Art are native new yorkers, who will always have a special rapport with the NY crowd as seen in this spectacular DVD. Long overdue, this DVD of the central park show, has both adequate sound and picture quality. The audiophiles out there, might not be happy with the lack of super-sonic surround sound, but who cares? Simon and Garfunkel never sounded better, and they are backed by an all-star session band including, Steve Gadd, the late Richard Tee, Grady Tate, Anthony Jackson, and Pete Carr to name a few. Some of the live cuts actually sound better than the original studio versions. "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover" has a down right jazz funk feel to it and "Mrs. Robinson" is more upbeat than the original studio version. I was one of those lucky people in Central Park that evening, but this DVD gives me a better view, then I ever had that night and lots of great memories as well. At $10 dollars, this disc is a steal and should be in every baby boomers music library.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Michael Lindsay-Hogg

DVD title: The Final Programme
Productgroup: DVD
The Final Programme - movie DVD cover picture

Mod Sci-fi film from the early 1970's. Director worked on the original "Avengers", shares some sets from "The House that Jack Built" episode. It was released in the US as "The Last Days of Man on the Earth" in 1973. It has been out of circulation since HBO bought up the Thorne-EMI catalog about 1987, and buried it. I have diligently searched for a copy for years, never found one. Just the thing for an early Sunday morning cable movie. What does Miss Brunner do with the bones ?

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Robert Fuest

DVD title: Madonna - Drowned World Tour 2001
Productgroup: DVD
Madonna - Drowned World Tour 2001 - movie DVD cover picture
The next best thing

I am a huge Madonna fan, so it is hard for me to be impartial. But, The drowned world concert is above all the best show Madonna has ever preformed. The DVD is a great experience in sight and sound. I was fortunate enough to see the show live in Philadelphia, but my seats were pretty bad. Watching the DVD I get to see what I could not see from my seats in Heaven. If you missed the show the DVD is the next best thing.

Studio: Wea/Warner Bros.
Director: Hamish Hamilton
Hamish Hamilton

DVD title: The Spanish Prisoner
Productgroup: DVD
The Spanish Prisoner - movie DVD cover picture
A thinkers thriller

Saw this for the first time last night and am still thinking about it. How come Joe didn't catch on to Susan's photgraphs? Was the Japanese "Tourist" following Joe all along? When will we see another movie as engrossing as this? (Okay, the first 45 mins are a little show, but then it's off like a bullet.) Gotta run...want to see "House of Games" again!

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: David Mamet
Steve Martin
Ben Gazzara

DVD title: Frankie Laine Live at Orleans
Productgroup: DVD
Frankie Laine Live at Orleans - movie DVD cover picture
Down Memory Laine

Finally a DVD that takes you down memory LAINE. As a teenager growing up to Frankie's music in the late forties and early fifties this DVD brings it all back. As a former president of the "Laine Islanders" out of Montreal you know immediately that this is the voice you remember. Gentle, yet powerful even at the age of 86 when this DVD was shot. The body sure has aged but the chemistry is the same, ie, half closed eyes, wide spread of arms, no sudden moves etc. It's a shame the musicals that Frankie made during those early days are not available on any kind of media (video etc) with so many important stars of the day. The orchestra has changed from the early days but this DVD offers Big Band Sound. The picture is sharp and clear and the many flashbacks are incredible.Do yourself a favor and indulge in this DVD as I'm sure there are some hits you'll recall and the new ones are worth the price of admission.

Studio: Tapeworm
Frankie Laine

DVD title: Dumb and Dumber
Productgroup: DVD
Dumb and Dumber - movie DVD cover picture
Still the funniest movie I've seen

Fortunately, that's a good thing. Because if Dumb and Dumber had been any less stupid it would have been too stupid to watch. As it is, it's a hilarious answer to the question, "How low brow can you get?" There are jokes about dead parakeets, laxatives, ransom, murder, alcoholism and every single bodily function you can imagine. The movie is so good natured (and as happy-go-lucky as its heroes Lloyd and Harry) that it manages to pull all this off and (literally) get away with murder.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Jim Carrey
Jeff Daniels
Lauren Holly

DVD title: The Age of Innocence
Productgroup: DVD
The Age of Innocence - movie DVD cover picture
A Performance Masterpiece

I have viewed this movie nearly 10 times now, and I continue to be captivated by the brilliant performances of the actors. DD Lewis rivets every scene with gracious style, coupled with subtle moments of inner strife (and sometimes silliness) that forces me to search my own archives for these torn and unresolved emotions. After all, it's just acting! But I can't help but be drawn into the emotional undercurrent.
As for W Ryder, what a shockingly incredible performance. I normally find her quite predictable as an actor, yet I found myself guessing whether or not her character was just a sheep, or amazingly brilliant. And I didn't feel cheated.
M Pfieffer follows suit, as I had this inner plea for her to win all that she sought.
The supporting cast (including bit players) were also perfectly placed and helped create this piece into "Master".
I highly suggest this DVD (movie) to those who care to look at motion pictures intelligently, which purposely refrains from suggesting the NEED to look artistically, although it is very artistic, as well.

Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Director: Martin Scorsese
Daniel Day-Lewis
Michelle Pfeiffer
Winona Ryder

DVD title: The Palm Beach Story
Productgroup: DVD
The Palm Beach Story - movie DVD cover picture
This is the reason I started liking old movies!

This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. Incredibly funny! Way ahead of its time! I first saw this film when I was 17 and they showed it on TV in the middle of the night. I was desperatley tired but couldn't stop watching. Every time I tried to turn the TV off the movie just got funnier. It has some of the best lines ever used in any movie. This is a true classic. It is the way movies are supposed to be made.

Studio: Universal Studios Ho
Director: Preston Sturges
Claudette Colbert
Joel McCrea

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