Film DVD related reviews


DVD title: About a Boy (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
About a Boy (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Nick Hornby's work done cinematic justice at last


"About a Boy" is misnamed: the subject should be plural. But being a magnanimous reviewer, I'm willing to overlook this one minor flaw in what is an otherwise perfect little parfait of a comedy.
Hugh Grant, here, is not in the same ballpark as his usual romantic comedy work. But he is in the same league. His Will Freeman (talk about your loaded names!), unlike the unlucky blokes from "Four Weddings" and "Notting Hill", thinks he'll be unhappier without romantic, or other, attachments. He's much like the charming cad of "Bridget Jones's Diary", only Will is basically a good guy (with certain character flaws, true; a race to the hospital leaves him noting that it was fun driving fast behind the ambulance!). Blessed with a life of luxury after his pop long ago wrote a successful pop ditty, Will is content to live his life out doing nothing. He's staunch in his belief of a personal philosophy that contradicts John Donne (or was it Jon Bon Jovi?): "In this day and age, a man *can* be an island". So Will surrounds himself with technology, trendy clothes, and piles and piles of CDs. Replacing what? True human relationships.
Sadly for him, as is usually the case with best-laid plans, that is not to be case. A chance encounter (that follows a ridiculous dating scheme) finds Will ensnared in the web of young Marcus. Marcus, a terminally uncool kid with a depressive hippie mother, is ably played by Nicholas Hoult. The chemistry between Grant and Hoult is the key to the film. If not for their casual ease, their contentiousness, and their caring for one another, the audience wouldn't buy Will's eventual redemption.
You'd think a movie such as this would have been written by frequent Grant scribe Richard Curtis. But you'd be wrong. Would you believe me if I told you that that guys who 'authored' "American Pie" and its sequel have now made Nick Hornby books 2-for-2 in successful transfers to the big screen? The Weitz boys, Chris and Paul, bring previously unseen wit and humanity to the project, a trait I'd deemed them incapable of after their tour through teen-sex rompery. They capture the British humour quite effectively, but also do a wonderful job underplaying the film's heavier scenes. One moment in particular, that could have become quite maudlin and melodramatic in the hands of less sure directors, gives the audience only as much information as they need without dwelling too long on the ugliness. Any more and the comic tone of the film would be ruined. As it is the scene injects just enough melancholy to keep things honest.
They also utilize voice-over narration quite well. A trick usually used to give one character opportunity to comment on the action, "About a Boy" uses two separate narrators. Not only does Will get to make snide comments at the other characters' expenses while expounding on his worldview, but Marcus gets a chance too. This part of the movie was surprisingly effective in that it allowed the audience to see how the unheard thoughts of Will and Marcus were slowly converging as the two became friends.
The cast, loaded with fine actors in secondary roles, is effective, if a little overshadowed. Hoult, all of 12-years old, nearly becomes saccharine and precocious in moments, but has enough sense to pull back before going over the edge. His chemistry with Grant is delightful, and his worry for the sake of his mom is intense but never over the top. Toni Collette, as said mom, could have been overbearing (her Fiona is asked to sob uncontrollably at times), but she injects just the right amount of humour (along with the sadness) to make the character genuine. Rachel Weisz, in a smaller role than I'd expected, is desirable enough to make the audience believe that this is the woman Will will recant his bachelor beliefs.
But above all this fine work is Grant, who not only delivers a hilariously amusing performance, but also manages a more complex character than anything I've seen him do before. If Will were just a poseur, hanging on to a clever idea for the sake of coolness, than watching him tip-toe through his new relationships would have not the intrigue that it does. Grant carries the film, from its opening monologue, to his 'rousing' rendition of Roberta Flack's 'Killing Me Softly' that caps the denouement. It's some of his best, and most mature, work to date.
In the end, "About a Boy" is one of those romantic comedies that needs not follow the rules of the genre, and becomes better for it. It's not about the coupling of man and woman, but the need for a system of relationships. One that you (or I, or Will, or Marcus) can care for, and watch grow, and shelter you in your times of need. A fine, funny film.

Studio: Universal Studios
Actors:
Hugh Grant



DVD title: The Verdict
Productgroup: DVD
The Verdict - movie DVD cover picture
Just Superb


This role is the absolute pinnacle of Paul Newman's acting career. He did it all here under the direction of Sidney Lumet and writing of David Mamet, the masters of gritty, hard hitting drama. Newman plays a washed up, alcoholic attorney who is so on the skids that he shows up at the wakes of people he never met so as to get the probate work from their estates. This is even worse than being an ambulance chaser (attorney who follows victims to hospitals). He gets a shot at redeeming himself with a medical malpractice case involving a surgical patient who never recovered from her anesthesia. Expiation and redemption are pivotal in this film and if you like that as a theme, and I do, this film is especially for you. Newman's character is up against a huge law firm that specializes in defending these cases with James Mason playing the lead lawyer. Charlotte Rampling, at the peak of her allure, also tries to tempt Newman away from his fledgling attempt to walk the straight and narrow in law and life. In lesser hands, this could have been mawkish. However, with Lumet, Mamet and Newman at the helm, it is absolutely superb. There is a scene with a ringing phone that goes unanswered that I've never forgotten, one of the best scenes on film that exists.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Sidney Lumet
Actors:
Paul Newman
Charlotte Rampling




DVD title: Titus
Productgroup: DVD
Titus - movie DVD cover picture
A truly marvelous film


If you go into this film expecting Shakespeare as it is so often shown, dry, confusing, and difficult to get, you'll be mighty surprised by what you get. It's not quite a tragedy, not quite a black comedy. It belongs neither in Ancient Rome, Fascist Italy, or the here and now. It belongs neither in reality nor a dreamworld. Instead, it all belongs in the great mind of Julie Taymor. "Titus" would be a difficult play to create a great film about. It lacks a lot of the grace and human beauty that exists in Shakespeare's later plays and it actually doesn't feel very Shakespeare-like, hence why critics have tried to have it attached to a contemporary rather than sully the canon. It's a tale of rape, treachery, cannibalism, corruption, and vengeance, which lacks any real hope. In her grand vision, Taymor has given us the gore that exists without flinching from it and trust me you'll need a strong stomach at some points, but she also at the very end gives the viewer a sliver of hope that the violence won't repeat itself. The visual style is striking with the constant references to different times, which could've looked muddled, but they all look like they fit, even Tamora's get-up when she first meet Saturninus in comparison with her sons' punk outfits. Taymor's Rome looks very stylized, not quite like Rome ever has looked ever, a sort of dream Rome. Of course with anything involving Shakespeare, you can have the best looking movie, but without the acting to back it up, you have nothing. Fortuantely for Taymor, the performances are incredible. Anthony Hopkins, who is it must be said channeling Hannibal Lecter at points, and Jessica Lange play well off of one another as two parents who wound one another because of wrongs that began in war. Alan Cumming is at his best playing Saturninus. Harry Lennix is of course the marvel of the film. Aaron ,as a character, is so complex and has to go through so many different emotions that it takes a great actor to do the role. Lennix is that great actor. With intensity and incredible understanding, He is the person to watch in the film. All in all, "Titus" is a stunning movie, one that almost overpowers. I didn't expect to like it so much, but since I have, I recommend it to everyone with a warning, not for the faint of heart.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Julie Taymor
Actors:
Anthony Hopkins
Jessica Lange




DVD title: 3 Godfathers
Productgroup: DVD
3 Godfathers - movie DVD cover picture
Another Wayne/Ford Compilation


Many people know about John Wayne and John Ford's cavalry trilogy, three of the greatest westerns ever made, but another pairing between the two is not as well known. The Three Godfathers is a lesser-known John Wayne classic when he was at the top of his game. Starring Harry Carey Jr. and Pedro Armendariz as the other two godfathers this classic should not be missed. These three outlaws ride into the desert after a bungled robbery only to find a dying woman with a newborn infant. The Duke promises to care for the baby which she names Robert William Pedro Hightower after the three outlaws. They must then make the trek across the desert with very little supplies to get the baby to the next town. Excellent supporting cast with many recognizable faces from other Duke movies, with Ward Bond playing the sheriff who attempts to track down the outlaws. Truly funny scenes as Wayne, Armendariz, and Carey attempt to care for the baby. As usual awesome scenery as is expected in John Ford westerns. This is one classic that has to be put on DVD. A must have for John Wayne fans!

Director: John Ford
Actors:
John Wayne
Pedro Armendáriz
Harry Carey Jr.
Ward Bond
Mae Marsh




DVD title: Hollow Man (Superbit Deluxe Collection)
Productgroup: DVD
Hollow Man (Superbit Deluxe Collection) - movie DVD cover picture
ABSOLUTELY THE BEST SCI-FI THRILLER EVER!


I dont know why people are booing this movie? It has the greatest director directing it, great actors, and awsome special effects! Well anyways Hollow Man stars Elisabeth Shue, Kevin Bacon, Josh Brolin, and Kim Dickens. Kevin and his crew are scientists. They are experimenting on invisibility. They have already made a gorilla invisible and brought him back safely. Now Kevin wants to take it a step further. He volunteers to be the first subject. He does become invisible, but when they give him the antidote, they realize that they cannot bring him back due to his body functions.
As the days grow, Kevin becomes more psychotic. He goes out in the middle of the night and comes back 12 or even 24 hours later. He loves having the power that no one can see him and that he does not want to be cured, and starts to do some really bad things! Hollow man is rated "R" for Strong Violence/Gore, Language, and some sexuality/nudity. This is how I rated Hollow man.
Story-8Special effects-10Action/Thrills-9Acting-8Direct ing-9<br />Average- 8.8
Hollow Man is a Thriller with Gore, Nudity, Explosions and scares! One of the best on its genre!

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Actors:
Kevin Bacon



DVD title: Yu-Gi-Oh! Vol 2 - The Insector Combo (Uncut)
Productgroup: DVD
Yu-Gi-Oh! Vol 2 - The Insector Combo (Uncut) - movie DVD cover picture
The greatest thing to happen since sliced bread...


This is the second of the two DVDs that will be out on October 19th. I have been waiting for these DVDs, refusing to get the dubbed DVDs that are out now, and it has finally paid off. The episodes on this DVD by description are the two Inscector Haga vs. Mou Hitori no Yugi duels, and the Kajuka Mai vs. Katsuya Jonouchi duel. These are episodes 4-6. They also include a edited dub-track which is similar to the original Japanese script, and, as everyone who loves anime wants, a Japanese audio track. This DVD also contains things never seen in the aired version, such as brief nudity, violence, and many other things. But also, it has the changed dialouge, which is a plus in some cases. This DVD also (hopefully) has the original opening and ending themes, Voice by cloud, and Genki no SHAWAA(Energy Shower) by Aki Maeda, both great themes for this first season of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters.

Warning: Ages 13 and up for violence, brief nudity, religious themes, and mild language.

Studio: Funimation Productio



DVD title: Tom Sawyer
Productgroup: DVD
Tom Sawyer - movie DVD cover picture
AN AMERICAN CLASSIC TREASURE MOVIE


READER'S DIGEST'S TOM SAWYER IS REALLY AN AMERICAN CLASSIC TREASURE. IT SHOULD BE RELEASED ON DVD FULLY REMASTERED WITH SOUVENIR PICTURE BOOKLET. I REMEMBER WHEN I SAW IT ON THAT 70MM SCREEN WITH FULL STEREO SOUND IN RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL WHEN IT FIRST WAS RELEASED. I RATED THIS MOVIE FULL 5 STARS. THEY SHOULD ALSO RELEASE THE SOUNDTRACK ON CD.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: Don Taylor
Actors:
Johnny Whitaker
Celeste Holm




DVD title: Angel - Season Four
Productgroup: DVD
Angel - Season Four - movie DVD cover picture
Outstanding stuff.


With how things were left at the end of Season 3 all fans had to wonder what was really going on. Angel is at the bottom of the ocean. Wesley is out of the group and with Lilah. Connor is on the loose and possibly capable of killing. Cordy is gone.

So how does Season 4 handle this? With the confident swagger of a show sure of itself and the audience. With that much happening most shows would collapse under the weight of it all. They tie up the loose ends nicely and then start to get down to the nitty gritty of the new season.

Connor is dealt with and integrated expertly. He is much needed as the voice of dissent and anger at Angel.

My favorite arc of season 4 is the Angelus arc that culminated with Orpheus where we get the long awaited Angel vs. Angelus showdown. DB really shows his acting range and makes us all recall his brilliant turn as Angelus in Buffy Season 2. The reappearance of Faith and Willow give the show a much needed injection of Buffyness just to keep the show fresh.

The Beast is a great villian and the invasion of W&H by him is one of the most chilling and yet satisfying slaughters on any show ever. The bad guys killing the bad guys is really a moral dilemma. Can we cheer The Beast feasting on the lawyers? I know I did.

My only beef with Season 4 is the Jasmine arc. I thought it was hokey and a little boring. It was however a means to an end and worked well to move the plot along so I don't begrudge it that much. No show is perfect so a flaw here and there must be expected and tolerated.



Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Actors:
David Boreanaz



DVD title: Waltz of the Toreadors
Productgroup: DVD
Waltz of the Toreadors - movie DVD cover picture
Sufficient wit at the expense of imagination.


Based quite loosely upon a play of the same name by Jean Anouilh, this film has been designed not merely as a showcase for the oversize comedic talent of Peter Sellers, but also, due to excessive producer interference, as a sex farce where character predominates over language, after the manner of a well-wrought and linear work of theatre. A droll script by Wolf Mankowitz transposes the action from post World War II France to early 20th century Sussex, arranging the characters in the story-propelled manner of the playwright, whose intensive exploration of the spirit becomes increasingly prominent as the work runs its course, greatly assisted by sensitive performances from Sellers, as the libidinous General Leo Fitzjohn, and by Margaret Leighton as Emily, his suffering wife. The plot spirals about the freshly retired General Fitzjohn and his longwhile Gallic inamorata, Ghislaine (Dany Robin) who have, as seen in a series of flashbacks, never been able to complete their love, but who are apparently finally going to be able to do so; that is, if a series of latter-day obstacles might be overcome. The picture is directed smoothly by John Guillermin, and there are excellent performances from Cyril Cusack as Dr. Grogan, the General's best friend, and John Fraser as a naive subaltern assigned to Fitzjohn, while a magnificent score is contributed by Richard Addinsell, one of his best for the screen, notable for its unreserved use of a minor key to accompany romantic and comic events. Unlike his Absurdist contemporaries, Anouilh never abandoned a sense of existential despair throughout his dramas, and this production succeeds in creating tension between Fitzjohn's sense of loss of place and his ability to forge forward after his natural urges, as evidenced by the delicious ending.



Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: John Guillermin
Actors:
Peter Sellers
Dany Robin
Margaret Leighton




DVD title: Princess Mononoke
Productgroup: DVD
Princess Mononoke - movie DVD cover picture
A Magical Film


PRINCESS MONONOKE is one of the most wonderous and magical films I've ever seen. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the DVD. If you haven't seen this film, you're really mission out on something-- a truly beautiful Japanese-mythological tale about the war between human and nature. It's amazing, and well worth your money.

Studio: Miramax
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Actors:
Yôji Matsuda
Yuriko Ishida
Yûko Tanaka




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