Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Escape from New York
Productgroup: DVD
Escape from New York - movie DVD cover picture
Man, I miss the 80s...

Would you believe I never saw this before, even though I grew up in the 80s? I saw it last night for the first time on DVD. Movies like this just don't exist anymore. It is a testosterone filled, thumb-your-nose-at-the-establishment fantasy. And it is so gloriously 1980s and so gloriously John Carpenter.
At the time, I would imagine the special effects and the concept were radical. As it was set in the future in 1997 (being that it was 1981 when it was released) and that we are several years passed that 'future' things are obviously not quite what you see. And the special effects are also a bit dated. But just put yourself back when it was made and dream a little.
As for the movie itself, it's a really cool idea. New York City a walled penitentiary where you are checked in and you don't leave. Radical. So the President ends up inside the prison walls and Kurt Russell, about to be checked in there, is called upon to get him out. Off we go...
It's a wild ride. It's filled with great one liners and borders on campy but it's still a classic in every sense of the word. It just hovers around poking fun at itself but never quite goes there which makes it an action movie with a cynical bite. And this has to be one of the greatest sets every used in a movie. Burned out, abandoned and dark it fits the movie perfectly. It really is a well crafted gem.
The extras make the DVD well worth the visit. Included is a scene not found in the movie which only gets a brief mention in the film - the reason Kurt Russell's character ends up there. This was apparently to be the opening scene in the movie but never made it. Definitely worth watching. The documentary is kind of cool as well. Good stuff.

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: John Carpenter
Kurt Russell
Lee Van Cleef

DVD title: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Productgroup: DVD
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - movie DVD cover picture
This Movie F*cking Rules!

Out of all the spaghetti westerns ever made, Sergio Leone made his Man With No Name trilogy rock when spaghetti westerns had never rocked before. This is hands down one of the coolest westerns ever made and one of the coolest Clint Eastwood flicks! Gut-wrenching camera work and killer music, this is the movie you want when you need to see a good western.

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Sergio Leone
Clint Eastwood
Lee Van Cleef
Eli Wallach

DVD title: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Productgroup: DVD
O Brother, Where Art Thou? - movie DVD cover picture
Repeated viewings.....

will be required. This is a very funny highly enjoyable movie. You cannot watch it just once to fully appreciate the whole thing. To get all that is in this movie you need to own it. The first viewing will just whet your appetite, if it doesn't trust me and watch it again. You enjoyment will grow with each viewing. The story centers around Everett McGill (Clooney) trying to get back to his wife and some buried treasure. To accomplish this he brings his prison buddies who are shackled to him (Turtorro and Nelson). This trio finds adventure and humor in the Klan, Bad politicians, loose women, backstabbing family, Bible salesmen, and all manner of quirky characters on their journey. The characters are wonderful. The performances by the entire cast are fantastic. This is not a George Clooney movie you have come to expect. He is so different and fresh and funny you won't expect the performance you are seeing. His costars are equally perfect. You will find yourself reciting lines from the movie that are bound to become classics. On top of all this is the music. This is bluegrass and oldtimey sounds. I realize that most people are probably not fans of this type stuff and honestly neither was I, but the Coen brothers make it work. The music is half the fun. I find myself singing the songs around the house. It is a movie that can be watched by the family. There area few bits of profanity, not too much but the story and the humor and especially the music can be enjoyed by everyone.

Studio: Touchstone Video
George Clooney
John Turturro
Tim Blake Nelson

DVD title: Stripes
Productgroup: DVD
Stripes - movie DVD cover picture
One of Murray's Best

In one of his funniest comedies, Bill Murray takes on the U.S. Army, and without question, with guys like this on the front lines, we can all sleep a little easier at night. "Stripes," directed by Ivan Reitman, is the story of John Winger (Murray), who in one day loses his girl, his job, his car and his apartment. So what's a guy to do after that, but join the Army? But he doesn't go alone, oh no-- he also talks his best friend, Russell Ziskey (Harold Ramis) into joining with him. And just like that they find themselves at boot camp, face to face with one of the most formidable Drill Instructors every to grace the silver screen, Sergeant Hulka (Warren Oates), and surrounded by as motley a group of raw recruits as anyone could imagine. Among them, there's Dewey Oxburger (John Candy), known as "Ox," who plans to emerge from boot camp a "lean, mean fighting machine"; and "Cruiser (John Diehl)," who joined up to beat the draft (Hulka: "Son, there isn't a draft, anymore." Cruiser: "There was one?"); and Francis Soyer (George Jenesky), known as "Psycho" ("Call me Francis, and I'll kill you. Touch my stuff, and I'll kill you. Touch me...and I'll kill you." Hulka: "Lighten up, Francis...").
The pressure is on for Hulka and his men, when Colonel Glass (Lance LeGault) informs Captain Stillman (John Larroquette) that the "General" is looking for a squad of crack new recruits to man a special project, and Hulka's boys have been chosen. The project involves a secret weapon, an "urban assault" vehicle, that is to be unveiled on their base in Germany shortly. But first, Hulka has to get his troops through basic, which will be a minor miracle in itself, even though Winger goes "Out on a limb," and offers to be their leader. And things proceed just as badly as you would expect, not only on the obstacle course, but off, when Winger and Ziskey get mixed up with a couple of female M.Ps., Stella (P.J. Soles) and Louise (Sean Young), and Ox gets coerced (by Winger, of course) into taking part in a female mud-wrestling event at a local night spot.
Along the way, Reitman sets up the situations for some serious laughs, and keeps it all on track with a good pace and excellent timing. Murray is terrific as Winger, with a performance that puts a generous helping of "dry" in the expression "dry humor." He plays it all so straight, so serious, from his quips and one liners (watching a TV promo for the Army, "This looks pretty good--"), to his full blown inspirational speech to the troops on the night before their final test at basic training ("We're all very different people. We're not Spartans, we're not Watusi, we're Americans, with a capital `A.' That means our forefathers were thrown out of every decent country in the world--"), that it makes it all the more hilarious. He never tries to be "funny," or fish for laughs, which is really what makes this movie work so well. Murray is perhaps the best in the business at playing this kind of humor and putting it across (Ben Stiller would be a close second).
Harold Ramis and John Candy also make invaluable contributions that make this one fly. Watch Ramis, reacting to what Candy is saying as "Ox," as explains why he joined the Army; it makes what Ox is saying twice as funny. And Ox, talking about what a "shy guy" he is, and how "You may have noticed, I have this weight problem--" And Oates, as well, gives a singular performance that makes Hulka a real person, beyond the typical stereotype of the hard-nosed D.I. His portrayal, taken out of context, is one that would stand up even in more serious fare, like Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket."
The supporting cast includes Judge Reinhold (Elmo), John Voldstad (Stillman's Aide), Roberta Leighton (Anita), Antone Pagan (Hector), Fran Ryan (Dowager in Cab), Dave Thomas (M.C.) and William Lucking (Recruiter). From beginning to end, "Stripes" is a fun-filled laugh riot that's filled with memorable scenes and a plethora of lines you'll be quoting forever. This is one you can watch over and over again, with a bunch of characters you're never going to forget. Winger and Ziskey, Ox, Psycho, Cruiser. These are the guys who Demi Moore, as Galloway in "A Few Good Men," could have been talking about when, in response to the question of why she likes these guys so much, replies, "Because they stand on a wall, and they say nothing is going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch..." It kind of makes you think. Or, as Cruiser might say, "Yeah... About what?"

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Ivan Reitman
Bill Murray
John Candy

DVD title: Dog Soldiers
Productgroup: DVD
Dog Soldiers - movie DVD cover picture
Let the dogs out! Let them out!

When I saw "An American Werewolf in Paris" I really thought werewolf movies were dead and buried. Fortunately, two little jewels came out the last couple of years and changed my mind. Curiously, both came from outside the US, both were given poor theatrical releases and both have the potential to become cult classics. I'm talking, of course, about the canadian teen-gore "Ginger Snaps" and the British houndfest "Dog Soldiers".
Unlike its Canadian fellow pack member, "Dog Soldiers" does not try to offer an analogy of puberty. This movie is simple, plain fun! Six soldiers trapped in a cabin in the woods (does it sound familiar?) must battle a pack of hungry beasts that see them as their next full moon meal. In the process, the soldiers too will have to become a pack in order to survive. With a lot of references to other horror movies, this flick blew me away mainly because of the energy that comes out of the screen. Its simple, yet effective, style of horror reminded me of the old black&white monster films that were all about the visceral reaction that we had towards the creature, instead of relying on silly CGI graphics or actors taken fresh out of the cast of "Buffy". I can assure you that this movie will excite you, and if you enjoyed those classic monster flicks, then this is the one you want.
As for the edition, it certainly could be better, but at least we were not left bare-boned like we did with "Ginger Snaps". We get a commentary track (sadly, not by the director), but it's something. The rest is pretty much the usual stuff (trailers and so on), with the possible exception of a 20-minute featurette that includes a number of interviews with writer/director Neil Marshall. Let's hope that a special edition is considered in the future.
So, in a word, next time you want to get together with tour friends and watch a horror flick, make this your choice, you won't regret it. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for a sequel.

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Director: Neil Marshall

DVD title: The Right Stuff
Productgroup: DVD
The Right Stuff - movie DVD cover picture
For one brief shining moment, Gordo Cooper was the best...

3 1/4 hours of top-notch entertainment. Equal parts satire, history, technical dazzlement and humor. This is one of the best films of the 80s.
Equally remarkable: this is where most of the actors finally made it: Sam Shepherd (as an actor), Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, this list goes on.
Too bad it wasn't a mini-series, there isn't a boring moment in it and very much in keeping with the themes of Tom Wolfe's book. Hollywood may have destroyed "Bonfire of the Vanities" years later but this one was dead on the money.
Trivia Note: William Goldman originally wrote the screenplay which was completely chucked (except for the argument between Gus Grissom and his wife.)
For the complete story of Goldman's involvement, check out the book "Adventures In The Screen Trade" (1983.)

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Philip Kaufman
Sam Shepard
Scott Glenn

DVD title: Dangerous Beauty
Productgroup: DVD
Dangerous Beauty - movie DVD cover picture
The most heartbreaking, breathtaking romance that ever was.

Never before has a film had such an impact on me as this one. I cried and smiled and held my breath the whole way through.
Marco's decisions at the start of the film are all based on what is expected of him and what he 'must' do, and this closes off the path of happiness that we want him to take with Veronica. The turn of events later in the film prevent him from declaring his love for her and I was crestfallen when he continued with what he 'must' do - even though he did it out of hurt or anger at not having Veronica for himself. I was overjoyed though and on the edge of my seat with excitement when he finally came through for her, ignoring convention and decorum, and standing up for his love.
I remember thinking towards the end that it didn't matter if it ended sadly, because they had both acknowledged their love for each other for all to hear, and that even if they didn't live happily ever after, at least they both knew that they had loved each other so much. As the saying goes, 'It is better to have loved and lost....'.
This is the kind of love I dream of when I think of the perfect man(and Rufus Sewell has now become the face of my perfect man!).
I can't believe I never knew this film existed until almost three years after it's release - but I've got it on video now and every time I watch it is like the first. I feel everything all over again - the chemistry between Marco and Veronica, her reslove at the start that if he will not commit to her then he shall not have her at all, all their desires and pain, and especially the intensity his love for her.
The director has done a fantastic job in telling the story - our hopes and feelings lie with the leading couple all through the film - we want Marco to find happiness with Veronica - a 'courtesean' - a lady that would be judged negatively by 'normal' social standards.
It's so odd how I came to watch this film, but I think it was meant to find me. It's changed my outlook on so many things and it makes my heart soar just to think of it.
This is a film you simply have to see - and the fact that it was based on a true story gives it an edge on other romances.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Marshall Herskovitz
Catherine McCormack
Rufus Sewell

DVD title: Amelie
Productgroup: DVD
Amelie - movie DVD cover picture
Best Film in Years

I saw this film in Europe and I must say that the film makers and the actors & actresses in this film are simply wonderful. I would stage a bet that says there is not one single man alive that would not fall madly in love with the main character Amelie. I have a friend in Paris that told me that after the filming of this movie, there is a scene in the film which takes place at a public phone box, people came and cut the phone recievers from the phone boxes simply because Amelie might have held them. As lame and childish as that may sound... go see the film, and maybe you will see why they wanted to have something that this sweet heart held to her trademark red lips.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Audrey Tautou
Mathieu Kassovitz

DVD title: The Passion of the Christ (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Passion of the Christ (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Outstanding! The best movie ever! 2 Thumbs up!

Three words: money making machine.
This movie is realy great for CNN and MTV generation: lot of action, very few thoughs.
Don't get me wrong: movie is ok (especialy for gore movie lovers). Director, operator and main actor did their best. But all this hysteria about move is just a very, very good entertainment and marketing. (Bravissimo, marketing heads!)
If you realy want to think about "great and eternal" things, watch Antonioni, Pasolini, Scorsese, Bergman, De Sica etc. works.
Even "Finding Nemo" is more about faith, than Gibson's movie.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Mel Gibson
James Caviezel
Monica Bellucci

DVD title: Brief Encounter - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Brief Encounter - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture

outstanding job by criterion. beautiful transfer. subtle, moving actors and stunningly filmed. recommended.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: David Lean
Celia Johnson
Trevor Howard

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