Film DVD related reviews


DVD title: Napoleon Dynamite
Productgroup: DVD
Napoleon Dynamite - movie DVD cover picture
Maybe I will GOSH!


Had me laughing on every scene its HILARIOUS! If you love comedies see THIS! you wont be disapointed.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Jared Hess
Actors:
Jon Heder
Jon Gries
Efren Ramirez




DVD title: To End All Wars
Productgroup: DVD
To End All Wars - movie DVD cover picture
Disturbing and inspiring


To End All Wars is not for the faint of heart. While there are few truly gory images, there are many very disturbing and shocking scenes in this movie. However, it presents a beautiful example of the power true faith in God gives to not only endure but to forgive the worst indignities and atrocities. Ernest Gordon and Major Campbell show two completely different responses to suffering. Gordon finds the grace through Christ to forgive his oppressors and extend mercy to them, even when it is not required. Campbell is eaten up with the desire for revenge; even when he finally has the chance to take it, he finds no satisfaction. To those who are offended by the overt Christian message, I would say: This is a true story about allowing God to change your worst impulses into something beautiful. Why is that bad?

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: David L. Cunningham
Actors:
Robert Carlyle
Kiefer Sutherland




DVD title: The Right Stuff
Productgroup: DVD
The Right Stuff - movie DVD cover picture
One of my all time favorites.


I have been an aviation fan for as long as I can remember. My mom thinks that my first words might have been "airport beacon". As such, I found the book version of this movie at the airport and decided to read it. I was amazed at both the history of the Mercury program and the early history of Edwards Air Force Base. Anyways, it was a very good book.
Having read the book, it was only a matter of time before I watched the movie. I was not disappointed by the movie (unusual for movies based on books). I thought it was a very well acted, directed and special effects movie. I can understand why it won two Oscars for the technical stuff. It's a shame it didn't win Best Picture. Hollywood is not known for Oscars for military related movies.
I've seen the movie several times now and I bought this when it first came out on DVD. It is cool at the beginning to hear the engines of the B-29 as Yeager goes out to break the sound barrier. It's also cool to hear the echoes as he talks in the hanger to Ridley. I wish more movies were like this one.

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




DVD title: House of Flying Daggers
Productgroup: DVD
House of Flying Daggers - movie DVD cover picture
A Flying Masterpiece, A Beautiful Love Story.


Zhang Yimou's HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is the much-awaited follow up to his highly acclaimed movie "HERO". The following DVD review is based on the 2-Disk presentatation with English subtitles released in Asia in 2004. However, since the initial US release of April 2005 appears to be a single disk, I will focus my review on Disk 1 of the above package namely the movie itself.

I saw Daggers prior to "Hero" so this was my first experience of an Asian movie in quite some time, and my opinions are from a westerner's viewpoint looking in as it were. I am not an expert on martial arts but I can understand some of the negative reviews from those expecting another "Hero". "House of Flying Daggers" is a triangle love story; it is not a fully blown martial arts movie. There are scenes of martial arts but this film is no "Hero".

When I first viewed "House of Flying Daggers" I was completely blown away by its amazing visuals. People have been impressed by Christopher Doyle's cinematography in "Hero", but Xiading Zhou who also worked on same, raises the bar as cameraman on "House of Flying Daggers". He delivers some incredible footage that in my view puts "Hero" in the shade. In fact this movie is a far superior film to "Hero" in every department. For one, the script is a big improvement over the previous film, and it's obvious a lot of work went into it because it shows. The story is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing throughout the movie. Secondly, there are some breathtaking set pieces, which I will go into in more detail later.

The film centers around three characters played by Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Zhang Ziyi. Lau and Kaneshiro play two government captains namely Leo and Jin. While Ziyi is a blind dancer called Mei, whom Leo suspects is the daughter of the former rebel leader of the House of Flying Daggers. She is also a specialist with the dagger as we later discover in the movie. This is 859AD, and we are told of a corrupt government in decline the Tang Dynasty. Director Zhang Yimou wisely avoids the temptation of developing the film into a blockbuster like "Hero", and largely focuses on the relationship of the three leads.

Captain's Leo and Jin hatch a plan to infiltrate the Peony Pavilion where Mei (Zhang Ziyi) works as a dancer. Jin pretends he is a lone warrior known as Wind, and arrives at the Pavilion to try and tease out Mei. Unfortunately Jin causes a commotion when he tries to make love to Mei, and is duly arrested by Leo as part of his plan. He also decides to arrest Mei, but concedes he would release her if she agreed to play the echo game with him. This involves throwing pebbles at a large circle of pedestal drums, with the blind percipient identifying the correct sequence by tapping same with an extended dress scarf.

This drum segment featuring Zhang Ziyi took twenty days to shoot, and is one of the most astonishing combinations of sound and vision that I have seen since Sergio Leone's cemetery masterpiece in "The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly". While Mei initially agrees to play the echo game, she astounds everyone by using this diversion as a tool to try and take Leo's life. Leo suppresses Mei and has her thrown in jail. Seeing this as an opportunity, Leo arranges a prison break with Jin acting as her accomplice. The plan, with Jin operating as Mei's escort, it was hoped she would lead them to the underground movement known as the House of Flying Daggers.

Thus the journey of both Mei and Jin (Wind) begins. To consolidate the charade, Leo orchestrates a number of fake ambushes. However, his plan comes unstuck when the General of the region takes over his duties, and orders his army to attack them without informing his soldiers that Jin is undercover. What follows are a number of mesmerizing set pieces with the bamboo forest escapade been one of the standouts.

I fully accept the various complaints about continuity problems with the forests and other anomalies in "Daggers". However it should be noted that movies are never about the nail been straight, but do require extensive use of an element on the right side of the brain known as the imagination.

As Mei and Jin continue their escape they gradually realize there is a mutual attraction between them, but Jin senses Mei is somewhat reserved in this newfound relationship. Though he cannot understand her reasons, he is nonetheless determined to win her heart.

There's a beautiful scene shot in the Ukraine, where Jin in cavalry poise, seizes some flowers for Mei while riding horse back. The blending of this scene, with the movie's extremely catchy theme music, delivers a genuine emotional sucker punch. It shows a poignant side that I was not expecting from a film of this type. Too often we in the west look upon Asian films as rather impassive, but this movie shows our eastern friends share the same feelings as the rest of us, and in this case puts many Hollywood films to shame.

I won't attempt to divulge any more of the storyline, except to say; do pay attention to Leo's (Andy Lau) dialogue in the second half of the movie, as there is a neat little twist in the final minute which is extremely clever. It goes without saying that Zhang Ziyi looks good in Daggers, though I've always felt eastern women have an unfair advantage over everybody else; they seem more beautiful. If you enjoy tales of mystery and romance this is a must see DVD, in fact it's probably one of the best love stories I have ever seen.







Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Yimou Zhang
Actors:
Takeshi Kaneshiro
Andy Lau
Ziyi Zhang




DVD title: Adaptation (Superbit Collection)
Productgroup: DVD
Adaptation (Superbit Collection) - movie DVD cover picture
In a class of its own


*minor spoilers*
Adaptation, like 99% of all movies, has it's flaws and drawbacks. Since I judge a movie relative to the other junk out there I thought it was great despite these small flaws. It may have come up short in a few areas but Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman tried real hard to come up with something new, different and fresh here, and I admire that. At least they tried. They weren't afraid to take wild creative risks, and that's more than I can say for the mass market pulp churned out of Hollywood on a weekly basis.
Nicholas Cage was wildly entertaining as Charlie and Donald Kaufman and I actually enjoyed his painful, existential meanderings about life and the creative process. Some critics mentioned how this movie presented a "scathing indictment" (an overused phrase) of the Hollywood movie industry, but I tend to disagree with that. It's almost as if Spike Jonze and Kaufman are apologizing for, even sympathizing with Hollywood and it's cliched scripts, plots and stories, not criticizing it. How? Well, Nicholas Cage plays a character trying to do the seemingly impossible, create a story simply about flowers; with no cliches, no guns, car chases, wild character arcs, and other overblown drama. Well, it drove him to near insanity, to the depths of despair, to try and create something different that people haven't seen before. In other words, it's not easy to create something original, and if Cage portrayed someone who had an easy time of it, then that would have been your scathing indictment.
Also, I'm probably one of the few to admit it, but I actually found myself agreeing with the screenwriter "guru" Robert McKee while he was giving his speech on stage about how "nothing happens in the world? are you out of your f*****g mind?" His character did not come off like a cliched moron, he made good points. Another thing I'd like to admit is that I liked the last third of the movie, but not simply because it was clever that Donald Kaufman took over the script. Because it was exciting, and yet it contained all the cliches Charlie and the rest of us annoyed moviegoers are always complaining about. What does that mean, that I'm one of the stupid gullible masses who likes my entertainment spoonfed to me? Probably not. It's not the cliches that suck, it's how they're presented. How good the actors are, and how to present your cliche in an original way. Haha. Because lets face it, all of life is a damn cliche.
Adaptation was fantastic, and now officially one of my all time favorite movies. It's a shame this didn't do better at the box office. How criminal.

Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Director: Spike Jonze
Actors:
Nicolas Cage
Meryl Streep
Chris Cooper




DVD title: An Evening with Marlene Dietrich
Productgroup: DVD
An Evening with Marlene Dietrich - movie DVD cover picture
The Legend Still Shines at Seventy


This video is a must have for any true Marlene Dietrich fan. After Marlene decided she was tired of Hollywood, she took her Legend into her own hands and molded herself into one of the most celebrated cabaret artists of the century. Her one-woman show earned rave reviews wherever she went. She always played to packed houses and even at seventy she has not lost one ounce of her star quality. Some people are awfully hard on her, saying that she looks like she's beyond her prime, but as far as I'm concerned she looks fantastic. From the Jean Loius gown, to the famous swans down coat. This legend vamps her way through " The Laziest Gal in Town", she belts out " The Boys in the Backroom" and sings "Where Have All the Flowers gone" with great feeling. Her voice was never fantastic, but she always got by on her charm and her looks, and even at seventy, both qualities still manage to have escaped the ravages of time.

Studio: Music Video Distribu
Director: Clark Jones



DVD title: We're No Angels
Productgroup: DVD
We're No Angels - movie DVD cover picture
The must see Christmas movie after Miracle on 34th Street


So much better than the remake, they should be embarrassed to even attempt it. This movie is timeless and can be enjoyed over and over. Even with the Christmas theme, it's message of the basic decency of your fellow man, regardless of the mistakes he might have made, is uplifting (and funny!) Good actors, good characters, good story and dialogue. Versions on tv don't do it justice, cut up for ads and scenes cut to fit timeframe.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Michael Curtiz
Actors:
Humphrey Bogart
Aldo Ray
Peter Ustinov




DVD title: Seinfeld - Seasons 1 & 2
Productgroup: DVD
Seinfeld - Seasons 1 & 2 - movie DVD cover picture
This would be the ultimate


...And so are millions of other loyal Seinfeld viewers. I think the release of the Seinfeld series on DVD is way overdue. So come on already, were dying out here. Serenity Now!

Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Actors:
Jerry Seinfeld



DVD title: Martin Lawrence Live - Runteldat (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Martin Lawrence Live - Runteldat (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Hardcore Language = Big Time FUN


This movie was funny from the time I sat down to the last line when the show was over. The brotha tells it how it is....from his point of view. Its better to hear the story from the horses mouth then to hear if from any one else or critic. Martin isn't one of my favorite comedians but he had me lauphing and thats what I went to see the show for.
Thank You Martin

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: David Raynr
Actors:
Martin Lawrence



DVD title: MI-5, Volume 1
Productgroup: DVD
MI-5, Volume 1 - movie DVD cover picture
Absolutely Fantastic


A few days ago I purchased MI-5: Volume One, it arrived today. Six hours later I'd watched the whole thing, and to me it's extremely draining to watch, the show is so compelling. I've only just finished watching it and I'm very much considering starting it up again. I recommend you buy this immediately, you will not be sorry, of that you may be assured.

Studio: BBC
Actors:
Matthew MacFadyen



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