Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: North by Northwest
Productgroup: DVD
North by Northwest - movie DVD cover picture
North by Northwest

This is the best Alfred Hitchock movie, (although I have not seen "Rear Window", yet) and one of the best movies of all time. Great acting. Great story line. Great action. Great suspense. Great entertainment, even funny at times. Just when you think it is over, it goes on - with more suspense and action. Maybe more than any other movie, I felt a real hatred for the bad guys. This is a must see movie for everyone.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cary Grant
Eva Marie Saint

DVD title: Fargo
Productgroup: DVD
Fargo - movie DVD cover picture
Great movie, but too simple of a DVD

Fargo is one of my all-time favorite films, so I was glad when they brought it to DVD. The new digital transfer looks great, and though Amazon and the MGM packaging says it is only a Dolby Digital 2.0 sound track, I found that my reciever picked up a full Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. Usually when they put the standard matrix-surround audio on a DVD, my reciever just says "Pro Logic." There is quite a bit of front spatialization, especially with gunshots and some dialogue channeled to the side speakers, and there is little rear sound that I noticed. The only thing that would have made this a really great disc would have been more extras than the trailer. The letterbox VHS tape has the production featurette, so I don't know why the DVD doesn't. That's the only reason I'm still hanging on to my VHS copy. I think it would have been great if Criterion would have put out a special edition, seeing as it won an Academy Award and it's one of the AFI's top 100 movies of all time. If there's someone I'd like to listen to on commentary, it would be the Coens. 5 stars for the movie itself, 3 stars for the disc. I sure hope MGM's new Spinal Tap DVD is better packed than this.

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
William H. Macy
Steve Buscemi

DVD title: Pitch Black (Rated Version)
Productgroup: DVD
Pitch Black (Rated Version) - movie DVD cover picture
The best film in the world!!!

This is without a doubt the best film in the world maybe because it has vin desial in it but the aliens were even cooler than the aliens in aliens 3.I am the biggest vin disel fan ...And i have watched pitch black 5 times and i am planning on watching it again!

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: David Twohy
Vin Diesel
Radha Mitchell
Cole Hauser

DVD title: One Crazy Summer
Productgroup: DVD
One Crazy Summer - movie DVD cover picture
One of the great goofy comedies

One Crazy Summer is not a serious film; it's a comedy with a cartoonish style, but it's a wonderful example of what such an exaggeratedly wacky movie should be. Starting on the foundation of the basic 1980s screwball comedy, it transcends the other B movies of that genre with its characters and its own unique laugh-out-loud moments.
Bobcat Goldthwait in particular steals the show as Egg Stork, but he's still there to back up the main character Hoops McCann (John Cusack), whose own cartoon creations--the cute and fuzzy bunnies--are determined to thwart his quest to find love. The standard '80s comedy elements come into play with Cassandra (Demi Moore), who's trying to save her grandfather's house from a nasty stereotype villain who wants to build a lobster restaurant in its place. Everything seems to click pretty well in the movie; it doesn't have any dull spots and the humor stays pretty fresh even at a second and third viewing. It's become one of my perennial favorites.
There are some especially worthwhile moments, mostly due to Bobcat's wonderful zaniness. The Godzilla scene alone makes the movie memorable. The cartoons drawn by Cusack's character appear now and then to illustrate how his search for love is going; those cute and fuzzy bunnies are vicious.
Parents take note: This is family fare; feel free to watch it with your kids. There's nothing really objectionable in the movie, and Demi stays dressed for a change. It's plenty funny without being raunchy, which is fairly refreshing. If you like a good top-of-the-line goofy B movie as much as I do, One Crazy Summer belongs in your collection. I can't wait for it to appear on DVD.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Savage Steve Holland
John Cusack
Demi Moore

DVD title: Spartacus
Productgroup: DVD
Spartacus - movie DVD cover picture

1960 was the "official" end of the Blacklist. A young director named Stanley Kubrick had made a brilliant movie about military justice, "Paths to Glory", starring Kirk Douglas in 1958. In 1960, he directed the classic, "Spartacus". "Spartacus" starred Douglas as a slave of the Roman Empire, depicting his deadly rivalry with the Roman General Crassus (played to perfection by Laurence Olivier). The film was rife with social message. The slaves who rise up against their Roman oppressors are metaphors for the working class, especially minorities, rising up against white oppression. One black slave, played by ex-football star Woody Strode, gives his life so Spartacus can live. The fact that he was black was well calculated. Dalton Trumbo, a former Communist, wrote "Spartacus". He penned it under an assumed name because he was still Blacklisted. When it came time to edit the film for release, Douglas, a huge star and its producer, made the decision to list Trumbo as the writer. His power and the film's success combined with this act ended the Blacklist. In a notorious scene that was cut from the original but has since been restored, a slave named Antoninus (Tony Curtis) bathes Crassus/Olivier. Strange wordplay about a preference between snails and oysters at first seems irrelevant until one realizes it is Trumbo's effort to introduce a homosexual theme to the story, using snails and oysters as metaphors for straight and gay love. Isn't that special?
STEVEN TRAVERSAuthor of "Barry Bonds: Baseball's

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Kirk Douglas
Laurence Olivier

DVD title: Jurassic Park & Lost World Collection (2-Disc Set) - Widescreen
Productgroup: DVD
Jurassic Park & Lost World Collection (2-Disc Set) - Widescreen - movie DVD cover picture

I saw Jurassic Park for the first time at amidnight screening the night before it opened. I promptly went backto the theatre the following evening. It is one of the best action movies ever made. Spielberg and his crew outdid themselves in a visually dazzling-adrenaline filled roller coaster ride. The first T-Rex attack is one of the best action sequences ever filmed. If you haven't seen it, and are concerned about some of the critical comments don't worry. Plot is this: Millionaire finds way of cloning dinosaurs and plans to open theme park. Calls in scientists to make convince insurance company park is safe...things go bad. Are there plot holes? sure. Does it take a while to get going? yes. Is it worth it. You know it! Sit back, pop the popcorn, turn up the surround sound, and have a great time. The dinos deliver! On a technical note, this is one of the best blends of puppetry and computer animation that is yet to be rivaled (there are only 6 minutes of computer animated dinosaurs in the film, the rest are animatronic puppets. Four years later came 'The Lost World' where we go back to a 'site B' and things go bad yet again. This is a technically great film with some great moments. The cliff side attack is harrowing...yet it just doesn't deliver nearly as much as the first. To be fair, part of the thrill of "Jurassic Park' was seeing those dinos live for the first time. So we already had a been there done that feel. Alas, I feel this is a movie Spielberg felt he 'had' to make, it doesn't seem like his heart is in it. The plot holes are too giant, I could hear the movie suits saying 'who cares about the plot, it's got the dinos' The last hour seems forced, the raptors show up only because they were in the first film, and the San Diego finale never clicks... Still, I'm going to pick up both, 'The Lost World' has enough to be worth it, and I cannot wait for 'Jurassic Park' these are the kind of movies that DVD was meant for. It's about time.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Steven Spielberg
Sam Neill
Laura Dern

DVD title: The Order - From Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle 3
Productgroup: DVD
The Order - From Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle 3 - movie DVD cover picture

As an artist the name Matthew Barney was one that I had heard but was not terribly familiar with. The only exposure I had to his work had been a few photogrpahs in magazines and art books. However, last summer, a weekend trip to New York solidified my knowledge of this artist. Last spring The Guggenheim Museum was host to the entire Matthew Barney Cremaster Cycle, and fortunately, I just happened to stumble upon this retrospective exhibition merely by chance. The exhibition showcased all four of the Cremaster films, mostly all of the sculpture,as well as numerous photographs and drawings. The experience was rather overwhelming, however,I may be so bold as to say it was a life-changing experience. And, since experiencing the show at the Guggenheim I have researched this artist extensively and I have discovered the logic, themes, and motivation behind this impressive collection of artwork and the fascinating man that creates it.
I felt compelled to write a review here after reading some of the negative things said about this excerpt DVD of Cremaster 3. It is truly impossible to pass judgement on this excperpt if one has not seen all of the films together, and especially if one watches this DVD without knowing what the series is about, or if one has not first read anything regarding the artist or the themes of the films. The negative reviews here are uninformed and unfounded. The Cremaster films are not meant to be art that is accesible or understood by everyone, hence, if one does not understand what is going on in the films it is because the story does not make sense unless one has a general knowledge of the themes. While inside the Guggenheim, I myself had trouble understanding just exactly what was going on. However, when I returned home,I read about these films extensively and I began to understand the concepts.
In this series of films, Barney examines mostly the concepts of sex(the word "Cremaster" references a muscle in the gonads stimulated by the embryonic process at the moment of sexual differentiation), also ascension, decension,birth,etc. As a graduate student, Barney explored the process of climbing, fashioning numerous climbing apperatti in his studio. This is the reason for Barney climbing inside of the Guggenheim, inside the Chrysler Building,etc. He is exploring ascension and sexual arousal. He refernces different themes and mythologies, intertwining these into a complex series of metaphors, (Gary Gilmore claimed to be a descendant of Harry Houdini, Gilmore rang Johhny Cash the night before his execution, Gilmore rode bulls while incarcerated,etc,etc). Barney brilliantly links all of these seemingly disjointed themes by creating characters that relate to the myths as well as portraying the real-life characters involved in these stories.
Luckily, if one has an appreciation of good film, one can appreciate the beautiful cinematic qualities of these movies regardless if one does not understand what the movies are about.Barney is involved in every detail including make-up and prosthetics, set design, lighting,cinematography and of course, music. This is truly film as art. And, in the Guggenheim retrospective, this concept was pushed to the extreme. The entire museum was "transformed" into a "venue" as seen in Cremaster 3, wherein Barney transforms the museum into a sort of futuristic Roman Forum.
It would be impossible to expalin every detail here. My suggestion is that before you buy or rent this excerpt from Cremaster 3, go to your local library and check out the books published on the films. These books explain the themes and the imagery. The DVD may then make more sense, however, it is unfortunate that it is only a portion of the film. This is the reason that it seems disjointed, pretentious, and pointless. One must remember that these films are Matthew Barney's art, just as Picasso's painting were his art. There were many misunderstood themes and metaphors behind Picasso's paintings, but like with any good art it is not easy to understand at first glance. Good art takes time to appreciate. Matthew Barney is truly an artist for the 21st century and one experiences something new everytime one sees one of his films. He is definitely worth exploring. But remember to approach Matthew Barney in the context of an artist first, then as a filmmaker.

Studio: Umvd/Visual Entertai
Director: Matthew Barney

DVD title: The House on Haunted Hill
Productgroup: DVD
The House on Haunted Hill - movie DVD cover picture
You'll be on the edge of your seat ...

"House on Haunted Hill" was almost as incredible of a remake as Psycho was. While the dialog does differ from the original movie and most of the scenes have been updated to modern times, it was superbly re-mastered. The concept of the house once being an old mental institution was a brilliant addition compared to the Frank Lloyd Wright house used in the original movie. The DVD is packed with extra scenes including those starring Debbie Mazaar that never made it in the movie. Also included are excellent commentaries from the producers, behind-the-scenes features on how the re-make was created as well as scenes from the original movie. While it's not what I would call "scary", it will keep you on the edge of your seat with its continual plot twists. A definite must-have for every DVD collection.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: William Malone
Geoffrey Rush
Famke Janssen

DVD title: The Night of the Hunter
Productgroup: DVD
The Night of the Hunter - movie DVD cover picture
A must for the movie fans collection!

When this came on Finnish television, I was much too young to see it, so I remembered only fragments of the movie - until I was ushered to bed. The film has haunted me since then and I was still unsure, if I can watch it.
After watching the film (in bright sunlight!) I was very pleased. Laughton made a magnificent film, that defies the categories. It's full of suspense but also has the same artistic, dream-like atmosphere that French older classics like Ren? Clair's "Orpheus". It is a frightening fairytale for adults, with artistic ambitions. The beautiful pictures go as far back as to the classic silent movies with clever, imaginative use of shadows and shapes and it makes the movie really magic at times.
Shortly: the film is about a man, a self-made preacher, who roams the country making a living by preaching and killing lonely women, who search for love. Robert Mitchum is absolutely chilling, using his good looks and droopy eyes in a very different part than usually. He's often seen as a charmer but this is a distorted version of those parts. And we all know, what makes this really memorable: the tattooed 'love' and 'hate' on his knuckles...
After hearing in jail, that a condemned prisoner in his cell has hidden somewhere 10.000 $, the preacher seeks out his widow, marries her and starts to look for the money. She doesn't even touch the wife, because lust is a sin. Until he has to - and the wife is never seen again... Unfortunately there are also the two children, the only ones who really know about the money but have sworn their father never to reveal it. The little girl is just as charmed as her mother, so time and time again she's about to tell - and when mother has 'disappeared' she does tell. Children escape miraculously and start their long journey (with the money)to safety through the depression-ridden country, sliding down the river in a boat. And on the horizon rides the preacher, forever looking for them, singing with his handsome voice: "Leaning, leaning..." You'll hear it for days after watching this film, believe me!
The acting varies, from Mitchum's chilling, low-key, psychological performance to Lillian Gish's old-fashioned sentimentality, from Shelley Winter's nervous, sensitive gestures to the children's very natural performance, each interesting in their own way. And watch for the bedroom scene, where Mitchum stands beside the bed, ready to get rid of his wife: how the shadows play around them and how the scene is constructed. When Laughton was filming this, he wasn't quite pleased at first, so he asked a cameraman, what he was thinking or feeling. The man answered: "Sibelius, 'Valse triste'." And Laughton said something like: "Of course, this has to be made in the rhythm of a waltz!" Yes, of course I know this: Finns are very proud of Sibelius...
The films has lost a lot of its horror effect after all the blood we are used to seeing on television, but there is the magic touch. I'd give it 4,5 stars, if possible, 5 felt a bit too much, because Laughton could have made it a bit better still. Anyway, for someone's first and only movie direction this is really something!

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Charles Laughton
Robert Mitchum
Shelley Winters

DVD title: Dennis Miller - The Raw Feed
Productgroup: DVD
Dennis Miller - The Raw Feed - movie DVD cover picture
good stuff

It was so amazing to watch a comedian take a shot at a democrat. I never thought I would live to see that. Usually you just get the same old Bush is stupid Robin Williams crap. Dennis Miller had many good lines in this DVD, my favorite is when he tells Bill and Hillary to go away in more words or less lol. I see the democrats have wrote there reviews on this DVD and well, stop crying you have every other comedian out there, we can have one. This DVD is more than just him supporting Bush though. His lines on global warming is just great. He talks about many other things. It was well done and his stuff is great still. If you like Miller from his HBO days you will still love him. He is just as good as then. I would recomend this DVD to anyone who wants to smile and laugh (...)

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: James Yukich

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