Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Songcatcher
Productgroup: DVD
Songcatcher - movie DVD cover picture
Lovely film, very fine...

There aren't many musical films that are successful, lately. This one works on many different levels. This year, the film version of "Phantom of the Opera" was released, and, arguably, the best thing about it was Emmy Rossum's performance."Songcatcher" features her film debut, and she sings wonderfully, though in a considerably different style.She definitely displays her future greatness. This is another film about misunderstood cultures, set in 1907. There are the expected "strange" characters, who endear themselves. Unlike other reviewers, I'm not going to blab away the plot. I must say that Janet McTeer was wonderful (haven't seen her lately); Aidan Quinn was solid, as were Jane Adams & E. Katherine Kerr and a powerfully snakey, evil delivery by David Patrick Kelly. The great Taj Mahal has a chance to show his stuff, especially on the DVD extras.The wonderful Iris de Ment also has a chance to shine. Musical director David Mansfield put this all in perspective, and since music controls this film, it's success is very much to his credit. My favorite element of the film was the appearance of Pat Carroll, hard as nails, sweet as her own agenda required. A truly complex and well-layered performance. She was the best.Director Maggie Greenwald should be very proud, presenting a fine, entertaining film. I look forward to her future endeavors.

Studio: Vidmark/Trimark
Director: Maggie Greenwald
Janet McTeer
Michael Harding (III)

DVD title: Upstairs Downstairs - The Complete Fourth Season
Productgroup: DVD
Upstairs Downstairs - The Complete Fourth Season - movie DVD cover picture
the War Years at 165 Eaton Place...

The acclaimed fourth season of UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS focuses on the turbulent years of World War One, with the Bellamy's fighting to keep control of an ever-changing world, shattered asunder...
"A Patriotic Offering" - Lady Prudence (Joan Benham) convinces Hazel (Meg Wynn Owen) to take in a family of Belgian refugees, resulting in a major upset for the servants.
"News From the Front" - Whilst on leave, James (Simon Williams) finds himself drawn into a political situation which might affect his future in the army.
"The Beastly Hun" - An anti-German feeling sweeps through Eaton Place following the sinking of the Lusitania, with Hudson (Gordon Jackson) spreading scare stories about the local baker and his family, who are discovered to be of German origin.
"Women Shall Not Weep" - Edward (Christopher Beeny) and Daisy (Jacqueline Tong) decide to get married before Edward leaves for the draft. Georgina (Lesley-Anne Down) vows to become an army nurse after witnessing the dead and injured soldiers returning to London; while Ruby (Jenny Tomasin) surprises everyone when she announces she is to leave her position to go and work in a munitions factory.
"Tug of War" - Georgina discovers that nursing isn't all she thought it would be, while James becomes frustrated with his staff-army job.
"Home Fires" - Rose (Jean Marsh) once again bumps into her former fiance, Australian sheep farmer Gregory Wilmot (Keith Barron) who has joined the army. They decide to get married again, but will Hudson ruin it all?...
"If You Were the Only Girl in the World" - At a tea-party for wounded officers, bored Hazel meets a charming young airman, Jack Dyson (Andrew Ray). Slowly, a gentle courtship begins and Hazel experiences her first true romance.
"The Glorious Dead" - A time of personal tragedy at Eaton Place. Rose receives word about Gregory, whilst Hazel discovers the fate of Jack.
"Another Year" - A shellshocked Edward returns to Eaton Place, a shadow of his former self. Hazel meets the aquaintance of Mrs Virgina Hamilton (Hannah Gordon), the charming widow of a naval officer. Following an explosion at the munitions factory, Ruby returns to Eaton Place.
"The Hero's Farewell" - Lady Prudence and her society friends decide to stage a 'historic tableaux' at Eaton Place. The situation turns deadly when a zeppelin raid begins and bombs start falling nearby...
"Missing Believed Killed" - James is still missing at the front, and the entire household is thrown into shock.
"Facing Fearful Odds" - Virginia once again seeks the help of Richard (David Langton) when her oldest son is about to be court-martialled.
"Peace Out of Pain" - Richard proposes to Virginia, with whom he has fallen in love, whilst Hazel becomes seriously ill with a deadly strain of the flu virus...
Highly-recommended. Most people single out the fourth season of UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS as the strongest out of the entire series. Excellent writing, expert direction as well as top-notch performances from Gordon Jackson, Meg Wynn Owen, Christopher Beeny, Angela Baddeley and Simon Williams.
Also featuring Mel Churcher, Raymond Huntley, Barrie Cookson, Christopher Good, Joyce Heron, Celia Imrie, Patricia Macrae, Elma Soiron, Karen Glaser, Cyril Cross, Lala Lloyd, Ian Hoare, Lisa Moss, Edward Underdown, Miles Bennett, Ena Baga, Timothy Peters, Gertan Klauber, Freda Dowie, Robert Swann, Giles Watling, Keith Jayne, Neville Barber, Dennis Blatch, James Woolley, Edward Hammond, Barbara Atkinson, Kevin Moran, Mike Fields, Valerie Lush, Betty England, Betty Romaine, Polly Williams, Richenda Carey, Auriol Smith, John Lyons, Julia Sutton, Robert McBain, Audrey Joyce, Neville Hughes, Richard Owens, Venetia Maxwell, Sarah Twist, Brian Nolan, Kenneth MacDonald, William Ashley, Eileen Way, Helena McCarthy, Graham Leaman, Robin Bailey, Phyllida Law, Fanny Rowe, Alfred Maron, Gareth Hunt, Brian Badcoe, Ann Martin, Richard Reeves, Hilary Minster, Laurence Harrington, Anthony Nash, Peter Whitaker and Anthony Woodruff.
4 single-sided, dual-layer discs.

Studio: A & E Home Video
John Alderton

DVD title: Roughnecks - The Starship Troopers Chronicles - The Pluto Campaign
Productgroup: DVD
Roughnecks - The Starship Troopers Chronicles - The Pluto Campaign - movie DVD cover picture
Give me more!!!

Finally the best show on TV available on DVD. Now, all we need is the rest of the campaigns.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios

DVD title: A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Widescreen Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Widescreen Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
"A.I." is a filmmaking triumph

I saw "A.I. Artificial Inteligence" in June when it first came out and I walked out of the theatre thinking that I had just seen a masterpiece of modern day cinema. I also thought it was going to take a lot to beat this film for best of the year in my opinion, and now it is almost the end of September and I have not seen a single film so far this year that has been better. I have seen the film twice and I actually got more out of it the second time I saw it. This is definitely a film you have to see more than once just so you can fully realize the scope of the film and all the ideas that it brings up about our future and our society. I felt so mnany emotions while watching this film that it is hard to list them all. I felt sadened, exhilarated, touched and frustrated all at once. The film is very unsettling to watch and it is a film that can not be easily forgotten. That is what I admired most about"A.I.". It makes you feel real emotions for the characters, especailly David, played to perfection by Haley Joel Osment, and Gigalo Joe, played by Jude Law who really is remarkable and perfectly cast as this character and it isn't afraid to make you feel disturbed because it is supposed to. It is supposed to put an imprint in your mind so you don't forget. I strongly admired Steven Spielberg's direction on this film. He is one of the best, if not the best, directors in the business today and he really made it seem as if Stanley Kuybrick was with him the whole time he shot this because I would say about ninety percent of this film seems like it was done by Stanley himself. The look and feel of the film are very dark for a usual Spielberg film, but it wasn't supposed to be a regular Spielberg film, it was supposed to a Stanley Kubrick/Steven Spielberg film and that is exactly what it turned out to be and it is pure brilliance. I think "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" is, so far, the year's best film and quite possibly one of the best I have ever seen and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys great filmmaking.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Steven Spielberg
Haley Joel Osment
Jude Law

DVD title: Three's Company - Season Three
Productgroup: DVD
Three's Company - Season Three - movie DVD cover picture
The Best Sitcom Ever Made on TV

Anyone who grew up in 70s and 80s watching TV shows can not forget the amount of entertainment and enjoyment, week after week, the TV shows brought them and their families right in their living room. If you are a sitcom fan, you must like this show. Three's Company stands out as the greatest sitcom ever made on TV. This CD contains 22 episodes from the series third season. All episodes are thoroughly enjoyable and entertain very well: John Ritter is as funny as ever, and excels in his craft of entertaining the viewers. The picture quality of the CD is very good and it is the best money can buy.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertain

DVD title: The Emperor's New Groove (Disney Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Emperor's New Groove (Disney Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
In a word...... Excellent!

Disney does it again, a movie that is not only entertaining for the kids but for the adults as well. I loved this movie!

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Mark Dindal
David Spade
John Goodman

DVD title: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Productgroup: DVD
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - movie DVD cover picture
Should-Be Oscar-Winner

A relatively unknown and often quickly dismissed title at first, Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" received the highest return of any foreign film in history at this year's Academy Awards- and it still did not receive it's due credit. "Crouching Tiger", a throwback to the wuxia (Kung-Fu Fantasy) films which director Ang Lee watched as a child, goes farther than any other film in the genre. The breathtakingly choreographed fight sequences left the audience appluading in their seats (literally), and the poignant ending left even the most hardened of action movie fans with an expression of deep reflection. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is the perfect synthesis of incredible action and powerful acting, a definite must-buy.

Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Director: Ang Lee
Yun-Fat Chow
Michelle Yeoh
Ziyi Zhang

DVD title: Stella Maris
Productgroup: DVD
Stella Maris - movie DVD cover picture
The Greatest Silent Star In Her Greatest Roles

Mary Pickford was not the most beautiful silent film star, but it is perhaps this fact which enables her to portray her two roles in Stella Maris so well. Her looks were somewhat unconventional. It is something else again, something indefinable which enables her to draw the viewer towards her. This film shows that she had acting ability in abundance, but by itself her acting ability cannot explain why it was that Pickford was the greatest silent star, perhaps even the greatest star who ever lived. She was a phenomenon. This DVD contains, as supplementary material, some newsreels of her selling war bonds. Pickford was the greatest draw for the crowds, greater than Fairbanks, greater even than Chaplin.
Stella Maris is one of the best introductions to Pickford's films not least because the viewer gets two Marys for the price of one. Her dual role of Stella Maris, a poor little rich girl, and Unity Blake, a Cockney orphan, is astonishing not because they appear on screen together (after all we get a whole cast of Buster Keatons in The Playhouse), but because they look so unalike. Stella Maris is the familiar Pickford persona, the young `girl with the curls'; Unity Blake is something altogether different. A title proclaims that she is Mary Pickford, but otherwise it would be easier to believe she were someone else entirely. Here is an unfamiliar Pickford, without a hint of sweetness. In the end, it is as if she has stepped out of a German expressionist horror story. We are left with an image of her eyes surrounded by shadows, which is more Murnau or Lang than Marshall Neilan. No wonder contemporary audiences found this film difficult. Today it looks like Mary Pickford's best.
The picture quality of this DVD is almost perfect. The colour tinting is muted and adds immeasurably to the atmosphere. The score has some fine themes and adds to the action without overpowering it.
Everyone who is a fan of silent cinema should have some Mary Pickford films and Milestone should be congratulated for their wonderful collection. It is only to be hoped that they bring out some more soon.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Marshall Neilan

DVD title: Airplane!
Productgroup: DVD
Airplane! - movie DVD cover picture
The Mother of all Zucker films

This film is truly a classic! I mean that in a very real way. It delivers the right amount of comedy without really over doing it. Some would say it is over done, but how can a movie which stands on that concept really go over the limit. Tough to answer because I do like all films the Zuckers put out and I think the Naked Gun was a bit over done. So back to Airplane! It just hit at the right time and is as funny now as it was back then. I think adding the comedy of the film to the nostalgia I feel when I watch it now makes it that much more special.
It is about a doomed airplane flight. Everyone who has eaten bad fish on the plane will die. This includes the pilots and passengers. That is not where the comedy begins. It starts during the credits. The film plays on all of the cliche's of an airport/airline/airplane etc...I love how the two stories in the film come together and how intelligently the characters are brought back from the shakey past to form one of the best airplane landings in history! Pick this one is sure to tickle your funny bone.
Well I gotta go because "the butta layin into the bone and it's jackin' me up."

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Robert Hays
Julie Hagerty
Leslie Nielsen

DVD title: Mansfield Park
Productgroup: DVD
Mansfield Park - movie DVD cover picture don't read the book first ...

This bit of tripe is not even fit to line a birdcage. The only reason I gave it one star is because there wasn't a selection for zero stars. OK, it surely does not stay true to the Jane Austen novel; in and of itself, that is all right, since most novels are not adapted exactly according to the book. This one, however, completely changes the dialog and personality of the main character (and other characters); it adds disturbing scenes of a sexual nature that are completely gratuitous; and the only relationship this movie has to the novel are the names of the characters, and possibly the setting. Alessandro Nivola, I admit, is the definitive Henry Crawford, but even he is not worth watching this movie for.
Watch this "adaptation" at your own peril.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Patricia Rozema
Frances O'Connor (II)
Jonny Lee Miller
Alessandro Nivola

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