Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Stage Door
Productgroup: DVD
Stage Door - movie DVD cover picture
Life (and death) at the Footlights Club

Nearly 70 years after its original release, "Stage Door" continues to shine as one of the best movies of the 1930's, if not one of the best ever. Credit must be given to screenwriters Morrie Ryskind & Anthony Veiller as well as director Gregory LaCava for turning a mediocre stage production into a striking screenplay.
"Stage Door" can perhaps be regarded today as a 1930's period piece - specifically a realistic glimpse into the lives of a group of struggling Broadway actresses who live at the Footlights Club, one of the myriad boarding houses common in the West Forties & Fifties of Manhattan at that time. The actresses trade wisecracks between them as well as share their joys & sorrows.
The cast of "Stage Door" is just as sterling as the movie itself: Katharine Hepburn as Terry Randall, the society girl who tries to barge her way into the theater world; Ginger Rogers as Jean Maitland, the street-smart dancer; Adolphe Menjou as the cynical, womanizing producer Anthony Powell; Constance Collier as the hard up but still proud veteran actress who becomes Terry Randall's coach; a group of up-and-coming stars including Eve Arden, Ann Miller (who wasn't even 18 yet), and Lucille Ball; all the remaining members of the ensemble who contribute in their own small way, especially Phyllis Kennedy as Hattie the maid, and Norma Drury as Olga, the prospective concert pianist who'd rather talk about subjects other than men & the constant complaints re boarding house food.
But of all the performances in "Stage Door", the most outstanding & poignant is that of Andrea Leeds who received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress as the sensitive, tragic, defeated actress Kaye Hamilton who was a Broadway sensation a year earlier but now can't find a part to play anywhere & literally starves herself to be able to stay at the Footlights Club. Gregory La Cava called Ms. Leeds "...the best natural actress that has ever passed under my hands."
"Stage Door" is also famous for one of Katharine Hepburn's best-known & most-mimicked lines: "The calla lilies are in bloom again."
For one of the finest examples of moviemaking Hollywood has ever created, you cannot go wrong with this film.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Gregory La Cava
Katharine Hepburn
Ginger Rogers

DVD title: 12 Monkeys
Productgroup: DVD
12 Monkeys - movie DVD cover picture
A mind bending trip

Monty Python alumnus Terry Gilliam helmed this surprise masterpiece which features some of the finest performances in the careers of Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe, and Brad Pitt. James Cole (Willis) is "volunteered" to travel back in time to trace the origins of a virus that will wipe out most of the humanity on the planet, but as he is slingshotted back and forth through time he begins to question his sanity and his perceptions of reality. Along the way he is incarcerated in a mental asylum under the care of a psychiatrist who is strangely drawn to him (Stowe), and he encounters a deranged inmate (an Oscar nominated Pitt) on his journey to uncover the truth. Willis is superb in his role, words can't describe it alone. Pitt however, is more than worth noting, and his nomination for Best Supporting Actor was more than well deserved (his characterization of Jeffrey bears a striking similarity, albeit a few cans short of a six pack, to another role of Pitt's in Fight Club as Tyler Durden). Gilliam's direction is as fantastic as it ever was. Even though he had a relatively modest budget for a major studio, his uncanny vision makes the film work. In the hands of another director, 12 Monkeys would have been a failure, in Gilliam's hands we get a dark yet witty apocalyptic film with riveting performances and an unforgettable climax that must be seen to be believed. Christopher Plummer also stars as Pitt's scientist father, and look for David Morse in a pivotal role.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Terry Gilliam
Bruce Willis
Madeleine Stowe
Brad Pitt

DVD title: Lethal Weapon 4
Productgroup: DVD
Lethal Weapon 4 - movie DVD cover picture

This movie was very entertaining for 1 reason only.....JET LI! This like Star Wars Episode 1 is worth seeing only for the Villain. But it does also have a lot of laughs.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Richard Donner
Mel Gibson
Danny Glover
Joe Pesci
Rene Russo
Chris Rock

DVD title: The Phantom of the Opera
Productgroup: DVD
The Phantom of the Opera - movie DVD cover picture
The original phantom menace

Who was the complete idiot who decided to make this fine classic into farce onstage broadway show. Lon Chany should come out of his grave and phantom the idiot. I'm sure Burt Lancaster's version is greater than broadway crap too.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Lon Chaney
Mary Philbin

DVD title: Groundhog Day
Productgroup: DVD
Groundhog Day - movie DVD cover picture
In a class by itself

I think one reviewer said it best: this is one of those rare films that has many levels --it's clever, it's comical, it's a love story. It also challenges morality and delves into how we define human existence. It makes you think AND feel.
Most of all, all these combinations work to create a unique and thoroughly enjoyable movie. I wish these came along more often!

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Harold Ramis
Bill Murray
Andie MacDowell

DVD title: Blade (New Line Platinum Series)
Productgroup: DVD
Blade (New Line Platinum Series) - movie DVD cover picture

This is a great movie with plenty of action, great fight scenes and lots of gore and blood. It moves at a fast pace and holds attention throughout. Wesley Snipes is great in this role and is the perfect choice.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Stephen Norrington
Wesley Snipes
Stephen Dorff
Kris Kristofferson
N'Bushe Wright

DVD title: Six Feet Under - The Complete Fourth Season
Productgroup: DVD
Six Feet Under - The Complete Fourth Season - movie DVD cover picture
Another winning season of SFU, and much less depressing than Season 3

If you have not seen Season 4 yet, please be warned that many of the user reviews are FILLED WITH SPOILERS!!! Especially the August 25 review by Nicholas Y. B. Wong.

* * *

In four seasons, I've come to love these characters like they're my dear friends. When a season ends, it's as if I've finished a really long, really fantastic novel that I wish never ended, and hate that I have to wait untold months until the next season. I subscribed to HBO in time to watch Season 5, and I'm very sad now that 6FU is now gone forever.

I'm very pleased to tell you that Season 4 is quite a bit happier than Season 3. Oh, bad stuff happens, people hurt, people suffer, just like in life. But you don't have to worry about Nate going through another downward spiral like in Season 3. Season 4 brings more of the dark, quirky, off-beat humor that seemed almost absent from Season 3 (look for the helium-inflated life-sized bimbo dolls!!).

Season 4 picks up immediately where Season 3 left off, with Nate, all beat up and bloody, at Brenda's door. Over the next 4-5 episodes, Nate is working through the grieving process, dealing with his pain, his loss, and his complicated feelings about Lisa and their relationship. His path to healing is uneven and rough, and he never quite gets over the loss (no one would). But Nate does get it together, and once again becomes the old Nate that we all knew and loved so much before the tragic events of Season 3.

Brenda is working through her own issues; her regret of mistakes she made in Season 2 influences her behavior in a new relationship; she wants desperately to have a simple, "normal" relationship. But she finds that leaving the past is not so easy.

David and Keith are still together. Unusual for 6FU, there's an episode that focuses almost completely on David and something rather intense that happens to him, that will have implications for the rest of Season 4 (and even Season 5). This episode is visceral - it really gets under your skin, and not completely in a good way.

The newlyweds Ruth and George eventually discover each other's warts, which the initial infatuation hid so well (as it often does in real life). Kathy Bates shows up again for a few episodes, providing a pleasant distraction for Ruth at a time when she really needs it.

Claire, on the other hand, is still suffering from the betrayals she endured in Season 3. One of my favorite characters in Seasons 1-3, Claire becomes much less likable by the end of Season 4.

Season 4 has a few notable guest stars. Kathy Bates returns for a few episodes. Mena Suarve (from American Beauty and American Pie - a very patriotic actress judging by the titles of movies she's in) appears for about 5 episodes as Claire's friend, influence, and maybe something more.... Nicole Richie even does a self-deprecating cameo as herself.

Most 6FU fans are not squeamish. Yet, I feel compelled to warn you: Season 4 contains images and scenes that are more explicit than anything I've ever seen on TV. Some of the bodies on Rico's table make CSI look like Sesame Street. There's also a scene where someone puts a gun in their mouth, pulls the trigger, and we see EVERYTHING. There's a scene where someone picks up a freshly used condom off the floor, holds it up for himself - and us - to see. And the most explicit man-on-man sex scenes 6FU has ever shown.

If you can stomach these kinds of things, and if you're even a casual fan of Six Feet Under, I highly recommend Season 4.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Peter Krause

DVD title: Gattaca
Productgroup: DVD
Gattaca - movie DVD cover picture
It has all the elements for a sci-fi classic.

Gattaca is a great example of how science fiction films should be produced today in Hollywood. With little special effects, an original plot, a beautiful 1950s-like production design, and a wonderful musical score, this film has all the elements for a sci-fi classic. Its original plot is a great message to the audience: it questions humanity and the art of science. Its special features is quite disappointing, only a behind-the-scenes look and a trailer. The region 2 version was released with deleted scenes. Hopefully the studio will release a special edition in the future.

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

DVD title: This Is Spinal Tap - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
This Is Spinal Tap - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Comedy Classic!

"This is Spinal Tap" is one of the most original, subtle, hilarious movies you will ever see, and offers more great quotes than any film this side of "Fletch."
A "mockumentary," "Tap" is pure fiction. But it's fiction that captures some universal truths about the relentless pursuit of a dream, even while the rest of the world is screaming at you to wake up.
Marty DeBergi (Rob Reiner) is "producing" this documentary about Spinal Tap, "one of Europe's loudest bands." We see Reiner travel with the band on tour to promote its newest album, "Smell the Glove," and he gets to interview the band at great length -- in no small part because most of their gigs appear to be canceled.
The music, written and performed by actors Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins on lead vocals and guitar), Christopher Guest (lead guitar Nigel Tufnel), and Harry Shearer (bassist Derek Smalls) is a hilarous reprise of various genres of rock and roll, heavy on the power-rock of the '70s ("Sex Farm," "Stonehenge," "Big Bottom"), with a little psychedelic feel-good rock in there too ("Listen to the Flower People"). One of the best soundtracks ever, these songs skewer the performers as well as those you who were fans of this kind of music when it was big.
The album is released, the tour kicks off, and the wheels begin to fall off. Many scenes are legendary. "Hello Cleveland!" -- when the band can't find the stage. "But these go to eleven" -- Nigel explains why his amplifiers have more power than the next guys. "It's okay, Boston's not a big college town" -- when the band learns their next gig was canceled. "It's a fine line between stupid and clever" -- debating artistic choices made by the band. "Puppet show and Spinal Tap" -- the sign announcing the band's next gig. "Spinal Tap, currently residing in our 'Where are they now?' file" -- while the band (on tour) listens to the radio play one of their old songs. And so on and so forth.
If you have the good fortune of knowing a professional musician, ask them about "Tap." Odds are, without saying any more, you're going to see a wide smile and start getting the quotes. The filmmakers' understanding of (and affection for) life on the road in the music business is eerie.
A comedy essential that must be part of any DVD collection. The DVD is full of extras, including some hilarious dialogue from the band over the opening menu!

Studio: Home Vision Entertainment
Director: Rob Reiner
Rob Reiner
Michael McKean
Christopher Guest

DVD title: Star Trek The Next Generation - The Complete Fifth Season
Productgroup: DVD
Star Trek The Next Generation - The Complete Fifth Season - movie DVD cover picture
Some of the best TV episodes-EVER!

This was a great season of the next generation, in fact it was the season that got me hooked on the show. It did have a few stincker episodes like 'imaginary friend' and 'the perfect mate', but i don't want to get into them. I want to talk about the episodes that left the rest of tv-and science fiction, looking at what was possible.
First off there was 'Cause and Effect' similar to the theme behind Stephen King's the 'Waste Lands' as the Enterprise gets caught in a causality loop, throwing it back and forth in time, always to end in the same devistating outcome. Great cameo by Frasier Crane to boot.
The next great episode was 'Unification parts 1&2' they brought back Spock with an amazing, Spock worthy tale. He is still fighting for what he believes in and he still has his damn vulcan stubburness. Great sparring matches with Picard while they try to develop peace between the Federation and Romulons.
'The Next Phase' is a personal favorite of mine as it looks at the relationship between Ricker and Ro, in a subtle fashion. Ro and Geordy seem to have died and as the crew try to put on a wake, while helping the devious romulons get back into romulous space, Geordy and Ro try to stop the Romulons plot and bring their lives back together at the same time. There were holes in the story, like how did their shoes retain contact with the decks? But other than that it is lots a fun. Other not worthy eps include 'Ensign Ro', "Cost of Living', my personal season ender(behind Best of Both Worlds) was Times Arrow.
The episode that i really want to talk about. If you haven't seen it, i won't give any of it away, but to this day, this episode has a deeper effect on the way I think than any TV show I have ever seen, it introduced me to brilliant Sci/fi and radical thinking, "The Inner Light". This episode starts with the crew finding a derilect satillite floating through space. Well Picard gets trasported "Somewhere else" and the greatest journey begins. It asks us to open our eyes, look around and appreciate what we have, but nothing is forever-NOTHING. Not even diamonds. Our memories fade, loved ones die, and worlds collapse. It is perspective and dream recall, amalgamated into posssibly the greatest short story since "Plato's Allegory of the Cave". Enjoy

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Patrick Stewart

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