Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Matrix Reloaded (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Matrix Reloaded (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Missing the Story

When I first saw Reloaded, I thought it was a great movie. After I watched it on DVD and went through all the extras on disc 2, I thought it was an awesome movie. I then proceeded to watch Animatrix and played the game at a freind's house. The plot which everyone refers to as "lacking" in Reloaded is actually carried through these 2 other formats. If you want the full effect of the story, you need to get yourself immersed in it by getting into all 3 mediums, the movies, the game, and the anime. Then and only then will you really get it, even if you thought you already did.

Studio: Warner Home Video

DVD title: A Day Without a Mexican
Productgroup: DVD
A Day Without a Mexican - movie DVD cover picture
A Comedy With Bite

I expected this movie to be preachy and heavy handed, but it is very funny and well done. For a low-budget indie film shot on video, the acting is great, writing clever (if at times silly) and the visual style witty and imaginative. In addition to having some very pointed and imortant messages about a huge yet still very dismissed portion of the California population, it is a hilarious sendup of local TV news and the media circus that makes freaks out of human interest stories.

Studio: Umvd/Visual Entertai
Director: Sergio Arau

DVD title: Boston's Greatest Sports Stories, Beyond The Headlines
Productgroup: DVD
Boston's Greatest Sports Stories, Beyond The Headlines - movie DVD cover picture
Something for everyone

This video is unbelievable! I got 2 copies one for a gift and one for me and decided to check it out. Next thing I knew I had been watching for almost 2 1/2 hours!

If you are true Boston sports fan this video has it all from the Sox to the Pats and Celtics, Bruins, BC, Marathon...the list goes on. The footage is great and the way the pictures are used is cool, you get a slightly different perspective of the events you know so well and the stories that are told by the writers who covered the events are very engaging. The best part is the section on the 2004 Red Sox section which includes somethings MLB did not have (read good LCS coverage, A-rod play & more great photos).

Highly recommend this encyclopedia of Boston sports.

Studio: The Boston Globe/Cramer
Red Sox
Boston Globe

DVD title: Enemy at the Gates
Productgroup: DVD
Enemy at the Gates - movie DVD cover picture

this is a great look at the other front of the war, between the russians and the germans. it does a nice job in describing the terrible anguish and suffering the russian soldiers had to go through in order to repell the germans. if it wasnt for the russians defeating the germans, the allied forces would have had an even tougher time defeating a very powerful german army.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Jude Law
Ed Harris
Joseph Fiennes

DVD title: The Battle of Algiers - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
The Battle of Algiers - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
A Stunning Testament to the Heroism of the Common Individual

The Battle of Algiers should be considered one of the greatest accomplishments of modern cinema. It tells the story of the Algerian struggle for resistance against French colonial rule beginning in the 50's until independence was finally achieved in 1962.
The action is seen through the eyes of a young boxer, turned petty criminal named Ali La Pointe, who becomes one of the leaders of the revolutionary FLN. Yet, La Pointe, despite his importance is only one in a lose association of other revolutionary cells, all working towards the same unimaginable goal: freedom from colonial oppression. Pontecorvo's use of the common people of Algeria in its filming gives the scenes a genuiness and passion bereft of films today. In addition, the use of B&W gives the overall mood a rough and gritty feel harking back to the famous newsreel fare of the 40's and 50's. Through these methods, which bears a close resemblance to the ideas expressed through the theatre of the oppressed, Pontecorvo is able to capture the uncontrollable surge of revolutionary emotion, in which both sides are portrayed in a way that reveals the ugly face of war. Today's viewer, especially since 9-11, might bristle at the scenes of what many would consider as terrorist attacks by the Algerians, but in the context of this film and the historical realities that it portrays, one is forced to confront the grim realities of Colonial society and the brutalities that ultimately brought about the peoples dedication to the revolutionary cause. Lets not forget that our own American revolutionaries were condemned as barbarians for refusing to fight a "gentleman's war". The Battle of Algiers is a powerful and important film that reveals a chapter in history that many know little about. The fall of Algeria in its global context showed that the European powers were not so omnipotent after all--a realization that inspired downtrodden peoples all over the world. Maybe that is precisely why very few people have heard of it and that the film is currently out-of-print. The story that The Battle of Algiers portrays can be seen as the fruition of Emile Zola's prophetic image of the "Germinal": "Men were springing up, a black avenging host was slowly germinating in the furrows, thrusting upwards for the harvest of future ages. And very soon their germination would crack the earth asunder."

Studio: Criterion Collection
Brahim Haggiag

DVD title: The Big Lebowski
Productgroup: DVD
The Big Lebowski - movie DVD cover picture
A great movie

This a Coen masterpiece. This is by far one of the funniest movies made in a long time. For a film with not much of a plot, that is over two hours long, it keeps your attention throughout. Each time I watch it, it gets more and more amusing. The catchy quotes embedded throughout the film are the big winners in this one from the brothers. Quotes like, "It really tied the room together, did it not" is only one of the many that can be brought into our lives as little tidbits of humor during conversation. What is a good quote without the right person delivering it? John Goodman will suprise you with his discruntled humor as Walter. You will see Jeff Bridges (The Dude) in a whole new light. No one ever thought they would see one of the Bridges brothers as a white russian drinking, pot smoking, bowling hippie. The entire cast of characters brings this movie together. The Big Lebowski could have been a complete disaster without the right cast and chemistry, but the combination hit the nail right on the head with this one.

Studio: Usa Films
Director: Joel Coen
Jeff Bridges
John Goodman

DVD title: Bruce Springsteen - VH-1 Storytellers
Productgroup: DVD
Bruce Springsteen -  VH-1 Storytellers - movie DVD cover picture
A Portrait of the Boss As An Artist

When I first saw this documentary, having followed the music and career of Bruce Springsteen since the days of The Bottom Line appearance (pre-Born To Run), I was impressed by the insights, the writing, and the use of sound in this television episode. This documentary moved me. I remember watching the documentary and how it used narration and sound through the final credits--and I actually hung around to watch it until the very end.

Someone special wrote and produced this documentary, and if you enjoy Bruce Springsteen's music, or happen to be a die-hard fan, you will get something out of watching it. I think it will make you reflect on what an enormously important artist Bruce Springsteen really is. Considering where he came from, how he struggled to find his way through the Asbury Park club scene, and the early albums (remember "The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle" or "Greetings from Asbury Park").

Recently, I was driving with my toddler son strapped in the backseat, and the Manford Mann version of "Blinded By the Light" played on the radio. I found myself listening to the words, and thinking about how much has happened in my own life since I heard the song the first time on Springsteen's Greetings from Asbury Park album (vinyl back in those days). And, how my four year old son was hearing this cover version for the first time. It made me nostalgic and a little sad--sad because of the unfulfilled promise of my own life.

In the documentary, it's important to see the period of time after Born to Run when Bruce hit a rough patch getting out of an unfair contract with a former manager. The experience literally put him on the sideline for more than two years. What emerged from that time away from the public hype (Time and Newsweek Magazine covers of Born To Run), was a deeper, more introspective artist.

Has anyone out there watched the latest reality show genre "Rock Star INXS"? I am amazed how the entire industry has changed over the years. Back in the day, unique and heartfelt artists struggled to get their voice heard. You had significant music being made by artists who had a real connection to their own material. I'm talking about Springsteen, notably from an earlier era, another personal favorite, the Rolling had a wide rock range from the Eagles to to Crosby, Stills, Nash to ACDC to the Pretenders to rock acts like Queen, Foreigner, Journey, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, and more recently amazing bands that reached frontiers like Guns and Roses, Nirvana...and one of the only bands that seem to get it done these days, get the idea.

Now, all it seems to mean is to be able to belt out cover versions of these bands greatest hits. It's about the marketing. The image. I wonder is Rock and Roll still alive? Or is it dead, and simply masquerading as pretend version of what has changed so many lives? Has anyone seen these kids trying to sing real rock and roll? They scream. They yell. They emote. They play the role of rock star prancing the stage. They claim they feel the music. They cry on cue. To them, it is real. To those of us, with pulsating veins, we know better.

I saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band last year at Dodger's Stadium. And, frankly, I was also disappointed. Gone were the four hour, sweat-dripping, leaping from the tall amps, Bruce. Instead, we got a dare-I-say "Boring" show with a lot of white haired folks (like myself) tapping their feet to the music--thinking of better days, long passed. I would have rather sat at home and watched my old laserdisc of "No Nukes" than been there that night. I am sad to say this. But, it's true. The capper for me was being charged thirty bucks for a tour hat. Being the commercial sell-out that I myself have evolved into, I gladly paid. I haven't wore it since.

Bruce's development as an artist has evolved from "Darkness on the Edge of Town" to "Born in the USA" to a more present-day--saccarine, Bob Dylanesque existence as writer/singer. Some of the songs hit deep wells--Johnny 99, the Rising. But, where is the rock? To me, it all went wrong when the E Street Band broke up the first time. And, the music started sounding too much like Pop Radio...Dancing in the Dark still makes me cringe. Don't get me wrong. I like "Secret Garden" and "Tunnel of Love." But, it's so far away from the gritty storytelling of "Rosalita" and "Jungleland." I miss those old days. Okay, I sound like I promised I never would--a geriatric rocker with a chip on his shoulder. I know the old days will never come again. Now we're left with acoustic albums, and two really unfortunate Greatest Hits compilations.

Why do artists release Greatest Hits albums anyway, except to take money from their fans one more time? If you ever have a chance to listen to a bootleg--specifically, the Winterland album, then you wonder why the greatest hits version was ever put together the way it was released. It is bone dry by comparison. There was no transfer of the energy, the spontaneity, the amazing storytelling, the drama of what it felt like to be there in a Bruce concert--whether you were in the back row, or near the stage.

For the most part, I admire the integrity of Bruce and his artistic and business decisions. At least this documentary helped remind me where I was those precious years where I listened to Born to Run and Darkness over and over and over. Sometimes in the dark, after I gave up on doing homework assignments, lying in my bed, looking up at the ceiling. It re-connected me with music that helped me get through crappy days in French class where I knew none of what I was learning really mattered.

So, if you have a few extra bucks, take a chance and pick up a copy. It is one of the better examples of what this series has done of exploring significant artists like Bruce. Maybe it will take you back in time like it did for me. When my son gets a little older, I will let him watch it, and tell him that his Dad once day revered every word, every note of this artist. And, I hope he understands what the story of Jungleland did for me. Or the carefree exuberance of Rosalita. Or, the brave defiance of Darkness on the Edge of Town.

los angeles
august 2005

Studio: Sony Music Entertain
Bruce Springsteen

DVD title: The Abyss (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Abyss (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
An Experience Like No Other

What can be said about the Special Edition version of The Abyss besides the fact that it is an experience like no other. Aside from the unbelievable special effects, the universal message that this movie delivers is one that everyone should hold dear to their hearts: stop hating each other, youre all among the same. With Added scenes to this Special Edition, scenes that were very important for the theatrical release, but cut for time, make the film a haunting masterpiece that should remain talked about and viewed for generations to come.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: James Cameron
Ed Harris
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

DVD title: Pyrokinesis
Productgroup: DVD
Pyrokinesis - movie DVD cover picture
Catching Fire

PYROKINESIS -- despite a slow middle third -- plays out like a memorable episode of Fox Television's popular THE X FILES ... but with a unique afterlife twist.
Born with the ability to telepathically ignite fires, Junko spends her life primarily in isolation -- fearing inadvertantly hurting others -- until a polite coworker loses his younger sister to a vicious crime associated to the making of a "snuff" film. Then, Junko comes out of her closet, using her secret powers to help fuel the young man's revenge. However, as she is quick to discover, Junko is not the only person with psychic abilities, and, before the eventually psychokinetic showdown of wills with adversaries and colleagues, Junko's abilities will be tested to their bittersweet limits.
Filled with terrific special effects and a dose of credibility handled by exceptional actors, PYROKINESIS cooks like a slow thriller should ... simmering slowly until the pot-boiling conclusion.

Studio: Media Blasters, Inc
Director: Shusuke Kaneko

DVD title: No Doubt: Rock Steady Live
Productgroup: DVD
No Doubt: Rock Steady Live - movie DVD cover picture
"No Doubt Rocks"

No Doubt will definetely transform non-believers to believe because they really rock, rock, roooccckkk. Truly one of the best band in "Music History". I salute you guys because you are totally worthy and awesome. "GOD Bless You Always".

Studio: Universal Music & VI

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