Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Ton Koopman Plays Bach
Productgroup: DVD
Ton Koopman Plays Bach - movie DVD cover picture
Koopman in Two Different (Mostly) Bach Programs

This DVD combines two different recitals by Ton Koopman from two different venues and playing several different instruments. In the first part he plays five organ pieces by Bach on the great Silbermann organ of the St. Marien Cathedral in Freiberg. In the second he teams with the distinguished bass Klaus Mertens who is listed, for some reason, as a baritone. That recital was filmed at the Gohliser Schl?sschen in Leipzig. Both recitals took place in 2000.

Amazon has not as yet listed the contents of the DVD. In the organ recital Koopman plays 'Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme' from the Sch?bler Chorales, BWV 645, 'Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland', BWV 659, the 'little' Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578, 'Schm?cke dich, o liebe Seele,' BWV 654, and the Toccata (but not the Fugue) in D Minor, BWV 565. One can see as well as hear the marvelous articulation for which Koopman is noted; he seems almost to play with a constant staccato. I suspect this is at least partly because of the cathedral acoustic which makes clear articulation more difficult than it might be in a drier space. The camerawork is excellent. For instance, in the little G minor fugue one gets to see the intricate pedalwork close up. The 'Wachet auf' chorale is played sweetly until the entrance of the chorale tune; I felt the registration for the chorale was a bit harsh. 'Schm?cke dich,' on the other hand, is dreamily lovely. Although the Toccata in D Minor was exciting, I was disappointed that it was played without its equally exciting fugue. The high point, for me, was the exhilarating G Minor Fugue. Excellent!

The second recital, entitled 'At Home with Bach,' contains 18 numbers and is a bit of a mish-mash, but I suspect it was meant to be. It primarily comprises pieces taken from the Anna Magdalena Bach notebooks and the less-well-known Schemelli Songbook and includes some pieces that may or were not actually by old J.S. himself, although he may have doctored them a bit when he included them in his practice books for his sons. Klaus Mertens, a noted Bach singer who has collaborated with Koopman in many Bach cantata recordings, sings nicely such things as the familiar solo cantata, 'Ich habe genug,' BWV 82, that includes one of Bach's greatest arias, 'Schlummert ein.' (I have to admit that I haven't been able to hear this aria in recent times without hearing, in my mind's ear, the radiant version included in Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's recent Bach cantata CD.) He also sings the less-familiar 'Amore traditore,' BWV 203, and beautifully so. Koopman plays first a harpsichord and then a portative organ, mixing and matching which instrument he uses to accompany Mertens. Among the solo harpsichord pieces are the two versions of the Minuet in G from the Anhang to the AMG Notebooks, one by Petzold (known to every beginning piano student), the other by who-knows-who. He plays a lovely version of 'Vater unser im Himmelreich,' BWV 683, from the Clavier-?bung III on the little portative. Mertens trots out an elaborately carved old pipe when he sings the comic aria, 'So oft ich meine Tobackpfeife,' BWV 515a.

I had never seen Koopman live before and was amused to see that when he is playing solo organ he tends to be relatively still, although one sees him keeping rhythms subtly with his torso and head. But when he is accompanying Mertens or playing solo harpsichord he vigorously bobs and weaves; clearly this is an old habit that comes from leading ensembles from the keyboard. I found it a little distracting until I decided to think of it as a form of dance; then I felt it added rhythmic point to the proceedings.

Koopman is clearly one of our leading baroque musicians and this DVD easily explains why. He is not only a marvelous instrumentalist, he is also a knowing and enthusiastic musician who communicates both the heart and mind of the music to his audience.


Scott Morrison

Studio: Naxos of America
Ton Koopman

DVD title: Gattaca
Productgroup: DVD
Gattaca - movie DVD cover picture

This movie is both entertaining and a little scary. The plot is about what will happen when children are no longer created by the love of two human beings, but strictly through science, virtually making a society of perfect people. It explores what will happen to children bred from natural child-births and one man's struggle to follow his dreams. The spooky thing is that it strikes a real chord, the idea is not completely far fetched. The movie is good, watch it.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Andrew Niccol
Ethan Hawke
Uma Thurman
Jude Law

DVD title: Gilmore Girls - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Gilmore Girls - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture

This is so great! The Gilmore DVD is coming out soon! This is without a doubt one of the best television shows of all times. It is inspirational, funny, quirky, clever and livens up my bad days. I definately want to treasure ALL of these precious memories forever! All the characters are memorable and laugh out loud funny, the actors and actresses are talented beyond beleif and the plots are addicting. Evry time an episode ends, I long to see it again and again! (Lauren Grahm, you are the best!)

Studio: Warner Home Video
Lauren Graham

DVD title: Twin Peaks - Fire Walk with Me
Productgroup: DVD
Twin Peaks - Fire Walk with Me - movie DVD cover picture
sometimes my arms bend back

david lynch is god, really he is. i had to rewatch the whole season and see this to GET the whole twin peaks world, and what a fantastic world this is.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: David Lynch
Sheryl Lee
Ray Wise

DVD title: My Father is a Hero
Productgroup: DVD
My Father is a Hero - movie DVD cover picture
This movie rocks!

Although much of this movie was spent on character development and plot-setting (i.e. the dying wife), and that Jet Li's fighting prowess was only a small percentage of the action sequences, I have to give this movie a high rating. The storlyline was easy to digest: Hong Kong policewoman (Anita Mui) pursues undercover Mainland cop (Jet Li) who's helping to bust a crime lord (effectively portrayed by equally amazing martial arts actor Yu Rong-Guang). Martial Arts prodigy, Xie Mao (as Jet's son), livens up the screen with his genuine artistry. Be prepared to sit through some very "slow" scenes but you will be rewarded with incredible action.

Studio: Tai Seng Video
Director: Corey Yuen
Jet Li
Anita Mui
Miu Tse

DVD title: Edie in Ciao! Manhattan
Productgroup: DVD
Edie in Ciao! Manhattan - movie DVD cover picture

Finally this film gets the recognition it deserves, struck from a pristine print, with a great cover and inside photos of vintage Edie, a nice booklet, wonderful DVD extras including lots of outtakes from the '67 footage, and insightful commentary from the director and great interviews with co-star Wesley Hayes, designer Betsey Johnson, the author of "EDIE" and more! It doesn't get any better than this for Edie fans.

Studio: Plexifilm

DVD title: Rosemary's Baby
Productgroup: DVD
Rosemary's Baby - movie DVD cover picture

This is an example of absolute perfect filmaking. If you read the book, you will know what I mean. It is probably the most true-to-the-original screenplay ever written.
Slowly building on on how the everyday things we hear and see can turn into our worst fears, this film spells horror in it's most realistic form ....plain old paranoia. Or is it?
"This is no dream; this is really happening!"
Watch it over and over again for the view of NYC mid-sixties ... the bright cheerful whites and yellows everywhere... Christmas in the city ... and wow, can they be creepy!

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Roman Polanski
Mia Farrow
John Cassavetes

DVD title: Crossfire Trail
Productgroup: DVD
Crossfire Trail - movie DVD cover picture
One Great Western

I guess were all entitled to our own opinion, but just what movie did prior reviewer David Delfin watch? This was by far one of the best westerns ever made for television. Tom Selleck did a wonderful job as Louie L'Amour's character Rafe Covington and the supporting cast including Mark Harmon's perfect portrayal as the evil town banker was really first rate. This is a definite "best buy" for anyone's Western DVD collection.

Studio: Warner Brothers
Director: Simon Wincer

DVD title: All The Little Animals
Productgroup: DVD
All The Little Animals - movie DVD cover picture
Rediscovering "All the Little Animals"

I was flipping idly around the movie channels one Sunday in May 2002, and paused on a scene of two men walking through beautiful rural countryside. Something about this seemed to remind me of something. I continued watching, and when the topic of burying roadkill came up, I was hit all at once with the memory of a book I'd read in the early 70s when a young teen. I checked the info channel - sure enough, this was a movie version of that book, written by British author Hamilton. The book had been such a favorite of mine at that time that I'd re-read it a number of times and now, as I watched the movie, small passages and bits of dialog came rushing back. The oddest, most miraculous thing was that until this accidental discovery of the movie, I don't think I'd given a thought to the book in more than 20 years, even though it had been such a favorite. I thought the movie was fantastic. I kept thinking, How right for this to be made into a movie at this time in history, when animal rights issues and abuse-of-the environment issues concern so many people the world over. Christian Bale did a fine job, is very easy on the eyes, and is, I was charmed to learn, a supporter of animal rights. I thought the ending hooked up pretty well with the rest of the film. There was plenty of foreshadowing that the stepfather character was going to need confronting, and even if we sympathize with Mr. Summers, we know that the laws of the universe and of good filmmaking require that he's going to have to pay for having been a robber and a murderer. At the film's end, Bobby has grown into his best possible self, having gotten rid of the great evil in his life and matured into being able to carry on Mr. Summer's "work".

Director: Jeremy Thomas

DVD title: When a Stranger Calls
Productgroup: DVD
When a Stranger Calls - movie DVD cover picture
I'm still scared

When a Stranger Calls is fondly remembered for the opening sequence and not much else. When a psychopath starts calling a babysitter, she calls the police to trace the call. If you haven't already seen Scream or heard the urban legend, I won't spoil it for you. Years later the psycho is released from prison and a detective (Durning) is hired to find him and keep and eye on him. The psycho slips through the cracks of society, though, and has a hard time fitting in so he goes back to this old ways.
This movie is like biting into a sandwich with two gourmet prepared slices of bread and finding that what you thought was crisp, fresh lettuce was in fact very old, green meat. The opening is intense. The girl is alone and duty demands she stay their and protect the children. When the twist is revealed it is horrifying (and fresh for the time). After that, everything falls apart. I don't care that Tony Beckley has a hard time fitting in. It takes up entirely too much of the movie. If the story had been Durning's attempts to track down Beckley with police methods (like Manhunter or Ed McBain) this would have been a top notch thriller. Instead we get the urban decay motif we've seen in Taxi Driver and other films. It picks back up again for the third act. The scene with the dark closet, like the opener, is pretty scary.
Get this if you don't already own a widescreen version of the film or if you've never seen the opening. The opening is awesome, the ending is very good, and everything in between is deadly boring.
Recommended for the slices of gourmet bread at the beginning and end.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Fred Walton (II)
Charles Durning
Carol Kane

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