Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Flirting
Productgroup: DVD
Flirting - movie DVD cover picture
Moving and funny

I was really impressed with this movie. Noah Taylor is such a wonderful actor (see: "Shine" as well!). The story was marvelous and puts most every American movie to shame with its intelligence and emotion. Why can't *we* make good movies like this? We pander to the common denominator with trash like "Varsity Blues" or "American Pie". Sad, sad, sad.

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: John Duigan
Noah Taylor
Thandie Newton
Nicole Kidman

DVD title: The Saddest Music in the World
Productgroup: DVD
The Saddest Music in the World - movie DVD cover picture
A Brilliant and Surrealistic Expression of Melancholy...

Art is a subjective experience with no necessarily functional purpose, but with the intent to create a unique happening as time and place are relative to the creator's approach to the moment of conceptualization of an impression. The impression art has on it's audience is relative to the audience's acquired values, morals, and beliefs, which are based on life long experiences. The obtained knowledge will help skew the audience's appreciation of the art in the direction of like or dislike. This means that the appreciation of the art is completely in the hands of the spectator as knowledge and wisdom function as a guide. One of these art forms is music as it produces a subjective happening as the listener makes their own judgment based on their past experiences and values, which makes it desirable or not.

In the Saddest Music of the World Lady Port-Huntley (Isabella Rossellini) arranges a musical competition, in Winnipeg, Canada, at peak of the Great Depression. The Great Depression, a time when people suffered from starvation, poverty, and homelessness in great numbers throughout many parts of the world, has a special spot in American history. This was a time when United States enforced the law of prohibition, yet alcohol was still easily accessible in illegal clubs and bars where people could drown their sorrows. Misery was plentiful and an income was hard to come by, which made the $25,000 winning reward in the music competition extremely attractive as many had plenty of misery to share. However, the music competition was a front for corporate greed as the winning music was intended to help increase the revenues for alcohol sales, as prohibition was nearing its end.

The story opens with Chester Kent's (Mark McKinney) visit to a blind seer in Winnipeg where he is told to look into his own lost soul and listen to seer's warning. Chester does not take the warning seriously. Instead Chester takes the opportunity to have a sexual encounters with his nymphomaniac mistress and traveling companion Narcissa (Maria de Medeiros) while insulting the seer at the end. This moment sets up Chester's character, which seems to be driven by an enterprising greed and cruelty towards those in his path, while missing the important aspects of life. Chester also has certain levels of talent to create music, but he does not possess the ability to feel the musical experience as he seems to lack the wisdom.

After the brief introduction of Chester the audience is to follow him on his reunion with his former lover and brewery owner Lady Port-Huntley, his father, Fyodor (David Fox), and his long lost Serbian brother, Roderick (Ross McMillan). Chester's reunion brings several flashbacks to the audience where the viewer can witness the tragedy behind the family whose pain is about to be exploited on the stage as they all compete for the $25,000. These flashbacks show how Lady Port-Huntley lost her legs by the alcoholic hands of Fyodor and how Roderick lost his son followed by his wife leaving him. When these people meet again it tears up old scars that never seemed to have healed, which causes further anguish among those involved.

The competition becomes a farce where the true beauty of the musical art is exploited and measured by how much beer the audience gulps down during the competition. In addition, Lady Port-Huntley is the lone judge of the competition, as her choice of a winner is ultimately affected by her past experiences with the competing persons. This means that the competition turns out to be a subjective experience, but not subjective in regards to the music. Chester who knows Lady Port-Huntley pushes the right buttons in order to achieve the goal to win the $25,000. This means that Chester also buys the competition as he cannot generate something completely unique, and he turns the music into a decadent show of visual and auditory experiences, which means that he does not rely on the music.

Each musical performance is represented by countries such as Siam, Serbia, and the United States whereas Chester represents the United States, his father Canada, and his brother Serbia. The national division serves as an analogy to the dysfunction in the family. It also provides some insights to why the family members lack appropriate communication skills, or empathy to hear the pain of others as their pain seems to be overwhelming to themselves. This notion is supported by flashbacks and heavy symbolism such as Roderick carrying his child's heart in a glass jar that is submerged in his tears.

The director, Guy Maddin, produces a genuinely surreal cinematic event that will bring the audience a nostalgic visual experience through the throwback cinematography. The throwback cinematography reminds the viewer of films made during the silent era, and the time when the story supposedly takes place, 1933. The camera has a clear focus in the center of the image while the surrounding area closer to the edge of the frame becomes more dissolved into fussiness. The film is mostly shot in black and white, but it does have moments of color that enhance the emotional experience. Using this technique adds to the visual experience in a way that makes it feel as if it was the 1930s.

The Saddest Music in the World is in the hands of the beholder, and to truly become engrossed by the story it helps to have a good understanding of the art form film. This is because the film utilizes a unique style that brings bizarre comedy and tragedy mixed into one while the script and cast guide the audience into a bleak dream where Maddin conceptualizes his vision of a personal impression. In the end, the impression is left for the audience to ponder as Maddin leaves the viewers a heap of notions and perspectives on what has taken place during the film.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: Guy Maddin
Mark McKinney
Isabella Rossellini
Maria de Medeiros

DVD title: Quick Change
Productgroup: DVD
Quick Change - movie DVD cover picture
Undernoticed But Definitely Worth Owning and Watching

This is one of my favorite movies. It's a comedy with classic performances by Bill Murray, Geena Davis and Randy Quaid, a great supporting role by Jason Robards, and a wonderful cameo by the late Phil Hartman of SNL fame. The movie pokes great fun at all the foibles of New York City. The plot is very clever, the twists and turns incredibly funny, and the result is a movie that keeps viewers laughing throughout. It's not just a movie to watch once, but one of those rare movies you can watch over and over again, yet never tire of. If only they would put it out on DVD!

Studio: Warner Home Video
Bill Murray
Geena Davis
Randy Quaid

DVD title: Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Productgroup: DVD
Girls Just Want to Have Fun - movie DVD cover picture
Totally Out of Control

Man was I impressed with this movie. I have liked watched it like 40 times now. I thought it was so great because of all the dancing. I think of this movie as a Dirty Dancing hit off but not as revealing. I think all girls should watch this because we all need to have fun. Girls Rule....

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Alan Metter

DVD title: City Of The Living Dead
Productgroup: DVD
City Of The Living Dead - movie DVD cover picture
One of the best zombie films ever made!

When a priest hangs himself, and suddenly opens the Gates of Hell, a young psychic falls into a deep coma and is believed to be dead. A reporter (Graduation Day's Christopher George!) hears the pounds and screams for help coming from her coffin once she awakes, and tears it open, pulls the girl out, and rescues her from a premature burial.
They soon discover they have only three days to close the Gates of Hell, or the dead will forever walk the earth. As they travel to the town of Dunwich (where H.P. Lovecraft made the setting of his story The Dunwich Horror), they find that the dead are already rising and attacking the town's many citizens. Will they be able to get to the tomb of the dead priest in time to kill his undead corpse and save the Earth?
This is a wonderfully made zombie/supernatural horror film from director Lucio Fulci (who died in 1996), creator of such classics as ZOMBIE, THE BEYOND, and NEW YORK RIPPER. It may be confusing at time, but it is a scary, scary movie!
Anchor Bay does justice to the film's look, releasing it in widescreen, and equipping this must-own DVD with the theatrical trailer, TV spots, and more! Fans... throw away those dupes and old, used videocassettes! The DVD of CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (AKA: THE GATES OF HELL) is here!!

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Lucio Fulci

DVD title: Moby Presents: Alien Sex Party
Productgroup: DVD
Moby Presents: Alien Sex Party - movie DVD cover picture
Brilliant indie film.

I caught both screenings of this in Boston. It was so good I had to go back. I still get the song from the movie stuck in my head occasionally.
It's a great film and DAMN funny. Great script, great cast, great everything.
Just buy the damn thing and watch it.

Studio: Music Video Distribu
Director: Paul Yates (II)

DVD title: Fletch
Productgroup: DVD
Fletch - movie DVD cover picture
I have to agree with the others!

Destined to be a cult-classic, this is easily Chevy Chase's best film. In fact, it's one of the best comedies Hollywood has produced since the Marx Brothers. Fletch also serves as a masterclass in the now-defunct sub-genre of the comedy-thriller. This seemed all the rage in the 80's (the equally superb Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run being fine examples); a good storyline, strong villains and plenty of wisecracks. Bring back these kind of films!

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Michael Ritchie
Chevy Chase
Joe Don Baker

DVD title: Grand Illusion - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Grand Illusion - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Subtle Images Foreshadow Loss of Innocence

Grand Illusion is a brilliant film. The textual clarity, showcased artfully by Criterion's release of a pristine copy, is layered and poignant. The characters and their situations examine the devestation of war on individuals, societies, and countries regardless of political justifications. Man is on display in this film...his motivations, reactions, and frailities are laid bare, helping the viewer to understand his own humanity in the end. The importance of this film is also multilayered. Renoir's work stands alone on it's story, characterization, photography, and direction. While the modern filmgoer may not find the b/w and subtle storytelling to be as visceral as the latest Arnold or Mel extravaganza, the quality of the film as a whole should be very satisfying to a true film lover. The characters, like people, are not simply good or bad, generous or greedy, but driven by many needs, values, and decisions. It is an art of examination that most film writers have forgone in modern times to replace with a car chase, a joke, or a blonde...anything to alleviate the pain of watching human conflict. The viewers find themselves discomforted by the quiet determination of Renoir to make us see our own motivations. We find, of course, that general stock characters must be introduced to allow us to do this...the stern commandant, the intellectual noble, the common survivor...but Renoir manages to enable these characters with lives that beyond the "type". We see the layers of these people. and we care what happens to them. Renoir creates some wonderful shots to support his characterizations. As you watch the film, take special note of how he uses the buildings in support of the individual representations. How the entrances and exits within those buildings are creating moods and depth. These directional applications are not by chance...they are deliberate, and illuminate one small contexual layer that adds to the films relevant points.The acting, of course, is flawless. Gabin and Fresnay are very good, von Stroheim is never better, and watch for the smaller and very subtle performance of Julien Carette. Perhaps Grand Illusions greatest relevance, while not dismissing the that on it's own it is one of the great films of all time, lies in the fact that it's relativeness is altered in the Pos-WWII climate. Once our innocence was lost in the numbing knowledge of the death camps, some of the film's message becomes dated, almost over-simplistic. We are watching a time when the terms "Final Solution" and Bataan did not immediately create an image. Grand Illusion seeks to remind us that even in war, we are human. But on some level, by 1945, we had learned that while human, we can be soulless.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Jean Renoir
Jean Gabin
Dita Parlo

DVD title: The Guyver
Productgroup: DVD
The Guyver - movie DVD cover picture
A great movie if you like cheesy scifi flicks

I'm rating this movie as 5 stars because I love it. I'd be lying if I said this was a cool movie. It's pretty cheesy and the acting is bad, but the concept of Guyver is a great idea. Compared to the anime this movie is terrible, but if you like cheesy scifi flicks you should check it out. I like to watch it because the Guyver suit in this movie is pretty tight, and you can laugh at the movie. Unfortunately, you're not going to be able to rent it, cuz nobody carries it. If you wanna watch it, you're just gonna have to fork over the ten bucks.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment

DVD title: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Productgroup: DVD
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - movie DVD cover picture
A great Family movie!

I have enjoyed this movie since I was 11 years old. I saw it at the MGM Grand Hotel in Reno. It was my first musical that I had seen in a movie house. It remains my favorite all time musical and movie.

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Stanley Donen
Howard Keel
Jane Powell

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