Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Ran
Productgroup: DVD
Ran - movie DVD cover picture
Kurosawa last masterpiece

Made at - for Japan - a staggering cost in 1985, Kurosawa's "Ran" comes closest to catching the director's decidedly black mood at the time (considering the derisive response in Japan to Dodeskaden [inspiring an attempted suicide], the grudging acceptance of Dersu Uzala, which had to be made in the Soviet Union if at all, and the passive response to Kagemusha - the Japanese critics' usual treatment of anyone so rash as to look for financing outside Japan [see Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses]), "Ran" was another of Kurosawa's long-cherished projects. That it made it to the screen relatively intact (Kurosawa even forced the otherwise independent composer Toru Takemitsu to accept his temperature-gauge and compose a pseudo-Mahlerian score) is one of those miracles of international film-production that arrives maybe once in a generation. That Kurosawa took Shakespeare's cue and painted a picture of medieval Japan (read: the modern world) that is uncompromisingly dark and pessimistic is perhaps not entirely surprising. The film feels like a last testament, even if Kurosawa would go on to make three more uncharacteristically tired films - Dreams, Rhapsody in August and Madadayo [Not Yet]. The darkest testimonial from a grizzled filmmaker at the height of his powers, "Ran" is indispensable to any serious study of Kurosawa's oeuvre.

Studio: Fox Lorber
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Tatsuya Nakadai
Akira Terao
Jinpachi Nezu
Daisuke Ryu

DVD title: Judgment at Nuremberg
Productgroup: DVD
Judgment at Nuremberg - movie DVD cover picture
"There Are Devils Among Us."

JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG is a splendid fictionalization of the "Justices' Trial" held at Nuremberg after World War II. While much less well-known than the initial War Crimes Trial of 1945-46 which sentenced Hermann Goering and other leading Nazis, the actual "Justices' Trial" was unique in that it put sixteen leading German jurists on trial for participating in the Nazi legal system.

Spencer Tracy plays a rural American Federal District Court judge who is selected to preside over the trial of four defendants accused of sentencing prisoners to torture and death for such 'crimes' as mental incompetency, anti-Nazi statements, and race defilement (i.e., having personal relationships with "Untermenschen" such as Jews and Gypsies). Tracy is bewildered as he struggles to understand how the Germans, an obviously cultured and gregarious people, could fall into the destructive death grip of National Socialism. His final conclusions are shattering and should resonate in the inner core of any viewer.

While in Nuremberg, Tracy strikes up a relationship with the aristocratic widow of a German military officer executed for butchering American soldiers at Malmedy (played by Marlene Dietrich) who expresses nothing but disdain for Hitler, and yet fails to grasp the enormity of the vast societal crime committed during the war years.

Played out against the background of the rapidly spreading Cold War, the later Nuremberg Trials were seen by most as unnecessary excesses; the need to enlist the Germans as allies (in 1948) threatens to derail the legal process as American officers begin to unconsciously parrot the pragmatic language of wartime Germans who "went along" with Nazism in a spirit of expediency.

Richard Widmark plays the American prosecutor who unrepentingly dedicates himself to exacting punishment for Nazi crimes against humanity. Among his evidence are documentary films of the concentration camps. JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG marked the first time these horrifying images were used in a mass-media entertainment production.

Maximilian Schell plays the young, earnest defense counsel whose dedication to Germany virtually forces him into the Nazi mold. Schell, a newcomer at the time, won an Academy Award for his intense and frightening performance. His cross-examination of Frau Wallner (Judy Garland), a witness once accused of kissing a Jewish male friend, is a study in controlled hatred, and one of the finest character portrayals ever committed to film.

Schell's moral descent is punctuated by his demand to know why only Germany is on trial when the Russians, British, the Americans, and even the Vatican turned a blind eye to the obvious degeneracy of Hitler who made no secret of his intentions. Schell's closing argument is impassioned, rational, and terrifying in its implications.

As Schell descends into a relativistic darkness, the preeminent German jurist, Defendant Ernst Janning, (played by Burt Lancaster) struggles with his inner demons and begins to rise from the abyss, gaining a modicum of moral respite as he forcibly rebukes Schell, changes his plea to "Guilty," and testifies as to the soul-destructive nature of "a passing phase which became a way of life." Lancaster's Janning is truly tragic, more so because he so clearly understands that "he made his life excrement when he walked with [the Nazis]."

Ultimately, Janning is faced with his own irredeemable failings. Yet, Janning (and the others) are not demons in human form, they are just men, men who chose the easier path. Just as any other human beings, the Nuremberg defendants were presented with the choice between morality and amorality. That they chose amorally is not an inherent defect of the Germans as a people; but it is a defect of the people of World War II Germany, and potentially of any people. The message of JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG is that every person must make the same choices with the same results, and with the same consequences.

No actors today could carry such roles. The performers in JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG literally swallow the scenery, and the intensity of the story has rarely been matched, even by SCHINDLER'S LIST, the only war-era film worthy of comparison.

The DVD transfer is excellent, though the DVD lacks very much in the way of special features. A particular oversight is the absence of any kind of real documentary on the actual Nuremberg Trials, something which would seem to be almost mandatory.

JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG is a film which must be seen. It is a catalogue of the worst of human failings and an indictment of blind jingoism. It is also a paean to the value of every single human life.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: Stanley Kramer
Spencer Tracy
Burt Lancaster
Richard Widmark

DVD title: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Productgroup: DVD
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - movie DVD cover picture

If you dont party, you have never tried any drugs or do not like psycadelic movies, stay away from this one, but if you love OLIVER STONE movies or STANLEY KURBICK movies than this is for you. It messes with your head it has wierd chacters outrageous situations and uses many camera tricks that make you understand the thinking of the two drugged out road trippers. Like I said If you party if you have used drugs than youll surley love this movies its funny fast pased and filled with non stop laughs and lingo which make you glad that you popped this baby into your VCR.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Terry Gilliam
Johnny Depp
Benicio Del Toro

DVD title: Huey Long
Productgroup: DVD
Huey Long - movie DVD cover picture
Nearly Perfect

I saw this wonderful documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in January 1986, so I was prepared when "The Civil War" appeared on PBS. I was already stoked by this splendid film. Anyone who uses Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" on the soundtrack in on the right track. Getting Robert Penn Warren before he died to talk about Long on film was also a stroke of genius. This is a must-purchase for history buffs or anyone else who loves good filmmaking.

Studio: PBS Home Video
Director: Ken Burns

DVD title: ALF - Season One
Productgroup: DVD
ALF - Season One - movie DVD cover picture
Classic 80's!!!!!

This show is a classic! At last I can throw out those realy bad VHS copies I have.I have been waiting for ALF to come to Home Video ever since the show has been on the air back in the 80's.I even called Columbiahouse years ago and asked them if they where going to do Home Video copies.They never did.Now releasing TV's shows on DVD is now the popular thing.All thinks to FOX who was the first to do TV season box sets with the XFiles,it was a huge success,now everybody is doing it.All my favorites is now hitting DVD,Happy Days,The Munsters,Fraggle Rock,The Greatest American Hero is coming out in 2005,Three's Company seaon 3 is due out in November,Diffrent Strokes is coming out in Sep.On Aug 10 ALF is at long last coming to DVD and I cant wait.One of my favorite episode from season 1,was the camping episode,where ALF gets into a fight with Willie and runs off into the woods,and end's up running into some hunters,who think ALF is an Ant Eater.Classic stuff.I know where i'll be Aug 10.
Update-What a joke this set turned out to be!!! Waited years to have seasons sets of ALF and this is what I get Edit JUNK! What a slap in the face to ALF Fans!

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Max Wright

DVD title: Jerry Seinfeld Live on Broadway: I'm Telling You for the Last Time
Productgroup: DVD
Jerry Seinfeld Live on Broadway: I'm Telling You for the Last Time - movie DVD cover picture
Laugh Out Loud Funny

Jerry Seinfeld is a genious at comedy. When I first got this DVD, I started crying I was laughing so hard. He's just laid back not trying to make you laugh, just talking up there. It's just like our everyday life but funnier. I've listened to it about 500 times but it still makes me crack up. Seinfeld became my favorite show and it made my life interesting. He's a genious.

Studio: Hbo Studios
Director: Marty Callner

DVD title: Wild Things
Productgroup: DVD
Wild Things - movie DVD cover picture
Just good looks?

I will also admit that the only reason that I went to this movie because Denise Richards gets naked. Ok, that is why my friend dragged me to it but I wasn't going to complain. But after sitting there I noticed it was a really great movie. Then after passing out from the threesome in the middle of the movie, the rest of the movie was great as well. I was very shocked by this movie and how much I enjoyed the story. I think anybody who wants a "fun" mystery/suspense type movie will like this.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: John McNaughton
Matt Dillon
Kevin Bacon
Neve Campbell

DVD title: The Last of the Mohicans
Productgroup: DVD
The Last of the Mohicans - movie DVD cover picture
A beautiful, live-action masterpiece full of energy and lust

Wish I'd seen this on the big screen to experience the full impact of the cinematography and the stirring musical score which gave the film so much 'atmosphere': drama, foreboding, passion, tenderness and tautness. Forget the historical inaccuracies - this movie is emotionally quite overwhelming.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Michael Mann
Daniel Day-Lewis
Madeleine Stowe

DVD title: Legally Blonde
Productgroup: DVD
Legally Blonde - movie DVD cover picture
So blonde, so good

well, i love reese witherspoon. and i LOVE this movie! i think she did a really great job playing her part. this movie is BRILLIANT. teenage girls will definitely love this movie. i highly recommend this to all of u. cuz this is a movie that EVERY1 will love.

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Robert Luketic
Reese Witherspoon
Luke Wilson

DVD title: The Italian Job
Productgroup: DVD
The Italian Job - movie DVD cover picture
Best car scenes next to "The Blues Brothers"

If you know what an Mini Cooper is then you need to get this movie. Even if you don't know what a Mini Cooper is, this is the best introduction to the essential British classic car. Enough said.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Peter Collinson
Michael Caine
Noel Coward

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