Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Pocahontas (Disney Gold Classic Collection)
Productgroup: DVD
Pocahontas (Disney Gold Classic Collection) - movie DVD cover picture
Pocahontas is a True Classic

Meeko, Flit and Percy, these the are names of the animal friends who get in and out of mischief, befriend each other and accompany Pocahontas in the vast panorama of pristine North America that is the setting for "POCAHONTAS." No Disney animated film would be complete without these familiar looking creatures and rightly so. These are films for the whole family, but "POCAHONTAS" was a notch above many of the animated films from Disney over the past two decades.
"POCAHONTAS" was a change-of-pace from the recent trend of animated films from Disney in 1995. This is one of my favorite Disney films and one of the best since the 1960s. It has substance and deals with real issues. We see the Native American Indians at peace and harmony with the land and nature. This is beautifully captured with the exceptional animation of vibrant green forests and flowing blue rivers. These scenes have a breath of fresh air about them that you can almost feel. When the European settlers arrive we know that it is only a matter of time before they begin to erode this paradise. The Europeans with closed minds did not realize how much they had to learn from the Indians and tried to impose their brand of civilization on them. Their brand of civilization is to subjugate or annihilate the "savages" and ravage the land.
We see the two cultures meet in one of the finest animated scenes ever presented by Disney. Captain John Smith and Pocahontas come face to face by a waterfall. Smith lowers his rifle, as Pocahontas stands erect and unafraid. Their eyes meet and he no longer sees a "savage" but a human being. Their eyes tell us that they immediately fall in love. As Pocahontas "listens with her heart" as Grandmother Willow has taught her they both communicate with each other. Soon their differences become apparent, but it is John Smith's ignorance revealed by inadvertently referring to Pocahontas as a "savage" that is the focus of the rift. He states that there is so much the "savages" can learn from the English. Pocahontas asks, "If the savage one is me, how can there be so much that you don't know?" During the "Colors of the Wind" sequence John Smith learns first hand the value and reverence of nature and that it should not be exploited out of mere human greed.
The message of "POCAHONTAS" is that European settlers leveled forests and imposed their own vision of a "civilized" society, whether or not it was welcome by the Native Americans. The corrupt Governor Ratcliffe is shown gleefully using cannons to level forests while his other men wield picks and axes in a mocking musical number. The brown piles of shoveled up earth stand in contrast to the majesty of the green untouched forest. When the settlers open fire on the Indians, they retaliate by capturing John Smith and prepare an execution for him. Only Pocahontas, who can empathize with both sides, can bring them to see their transgressions and teach them that violence only breeds violence.
The dramatic structure over which the film's message is delivered deals with her father's disapproval of the man she loves, because he belongs to a different race. The film thus takes on more significance as it deals with ethnic discriminations as well. Her father wants her to marry a member of the tribe, who she dislikes because "he's so serious." A similar theme is taken up in "THE LITTLE MERMAID."
"POCAHONTAS" is based on legend, rooted in murky historical events. In real life, Pocahontas was about 13 when she first met John Smith. Smith claimed in his journals that Pocahontas saved his life. John Rolfe was the Englishman that she eventually married. She did indeed get to go to England (See "POCAHONTAS II"), where she was treated as a princess. She died in Europe, near 21 years of age.
What is particularly good about "POCAHONTAS" is the artistry of the animation. The virgin land of towering green forests, sparkling blue steams and rugged cliffs are drawn with a freedom and energy that posses real power and reverence. Very effective is the jutting rock that overlooks the landscape giving the entire film a feeling of sweep and grandeur. Anyone viewing the finale of this film can not help feel an emotional outburst as the "colors of the wind" blow past this precipice toward the horizon. I know I did. The image is unforgettable.
The songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz include one unrestrained emotionally charged standout, "Colors of the Wind." This is an unforgettable song that can be appreciated on so many levels. It is a consummate example of melody and lyrics that make you "Listen With Your Heart."

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Mel Gibson
Christian Bale
Linda Hunt

DVD title: Fantastic Planet
Productgroup: DVD
Fantastic Planet - movie DVD cover picture
A Five-Star Masterpiece on a Two-Star DVD

The narrative and story telling in this movie are very conventional. And even though it's underlying allegory is about genocide, it remains static and aloof. Yet, it will stay with you forever, because it is consistently compelling on a purely visual level. And not in the way movies like Brazil or Blade runner are striking because of their cinematography or a commitment to a vision in their set design. But in a way that good ART is compelling. What we are looking at is something akin to a Hieronymous Bosch painting, like the "Garden of Earthly Delights." The movie is perpetually bizarre, bursting with strange ideas and an incredible array of surreal flora and fauna. The landscapes are foreign and desolate, every creature encountered is malevolent, and the mood is cold and clinical, mixed with a sense of technological dread. The sight of the floating Tragg meditation spheres, or such things as the large vacuum that sucks up the tiny humans are not easily forgotten. The music is good, too. Odd and slightly jazzy, it might sound dated to some people's ears, but trippy nontheless. Of all the sci-fi movies I have ever seen, this is the only one I feel is TRULY ALIEN. I really feel transported when I watch it, completely submerged in its environment. I am transfixed by its imagery.
The nasty things that people say about the dvd are true. How annoying to not be able to shut off the subtitles. It's terrible to think that a movie which is so well DESIGNED could have such a terrible flaw in its packaging! The movie is still worth having, though.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: René Laloux
Barry Bostwick

DVD title: Kontroll
Productgroup: DVD
Kontroll - movie DVD cover picture
What a great movie

I was looking for something different and wow, did I find it! The story is, perhaps, a bit scattered, but whatever is lacking is made up for by compelling performances; you feel so much for these people. It's not everyday that a movie makes me sit up in my seat, or bite my lip in anticipation, but I found myself doing that at several points in the film. Visually, this movie is beautiful, each scene a portrait. And I agree with a previous reviewer that the soundtrack was equally as interesting as the film itself (I just wish I could find it! - will update review if I ever do, because the soundtrack and movie are a must own.) Happy viewing!

Studio: Thinkfilm Llc
Director: Nimród Antal
Sándor Csányi
Eszter Balla

DVD title: The Day of the Jackal
Productgroup: DVD
The Day of the Jackal - movie DVD cover picture
An Authoritative Suspense Movie

The first itme I saw "Tha Day of the Jackal", I learned a lot about things that I don't need to know. However, it has been of interest to me to know how a person can create a false identity. It's even more interesting in these days of identity theft although the current methods are much more high tech than in the 1960's. I mention this because "The Day of the Jackal" does a masterful job of show how a criminal with evil intent is able to integrate himself into a country without being detected. This too is a timely message after the lessons of 9/11. All this from a movie that came out in 1973.

"The Day of the Jackal" is the story of an attempt to assasinate Charles DeGaulle by right-wing military and political Frenchmen. Edward Fox is the man hired to do the job and the movie follows his steps from the beginning to the end and all points in between. We see a cold-blooded professional who knows his trade. We follow his manipulation of individuals for his own benefit. We see that nothing is sacred nor off limits to him in his quest; even to the point of adapting a different sexual orientation to keep going. All of this is fascinatingly scripted, acted, photographed and directed in a fast-paced yet thorough suspense movie.

The acting is good but the movie's title character and most of the people involved intentionally down play their roles to bring out the sterile nature of a professional assasin and his accomplices and pursuers. Emotional outbursts are not an asset to such a man. This leaves one focussed more on the movie than the preformances and that is the way a good suspense movie should be remembered.

Even if you're not interested in French affairs in the 1960's, the subject of international intrigue is a current issue. This movie is timeless in that and many other perspectives.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Edward Fox

DVD title: Gia
Productgroup: DVD
Gia - movie DVD cover picture
loved it!

this is probably one of jolie's best works. In an article, jolie said that this movie hit close to home because jolie, too, had done drugs and she also modeled as a kid, and she has a knife fetish. This is the closest role Angie has ever done that is so much like her. gia is the movie to see, it's spectacular. i love jolie in roles like this, as a person with a problem, kind of crazy, and she plays it perfectly. that's why i love girl, interrupted. 2 similar roles. if you like gia, you'll love girl, interrupted. though jolie doesn't resemble gia carangi, she was absolutly excellent. i dont know one person who disliked this movie at all. and, i loved that they showed her tattoo, i love when they show her tattoos and don't cover them up. And, her hair in this movie is wild, and she seemed to have gained more weight in this movie, but she still lookes excellent!

Studio: Hbo Studios
Director: Michael Cristofer
Angelina Jolie

DVD title: Fahrenheit 451
Productgroup: DVD
Fahrenheit 451 - movie DVD cover picture
The most moving hymn to literacy on film

A film of the 1960s, in its picture of a society in dislocation, finding refuge in the superficialities of manipulable communications media, and starring Julie Christie, a great ikon of that decade. The film is convincing in its picture of literature as the final carrier of civilization, as the enduring medium of human expression, of the values of liberal society, and the object of total human commitment. The living books, the passing on of Weir of Hermiston from grandfather to grandson, are amongst the most moving scenes in cinema.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: François Truffaut
Oskar Werner
Julie Christie

DVD title: The Bishop's Wife
Productgroup: DVD
The Bishop's Wife - movie DVD cover picture

Being a lover of old films, I am happy to read the glowing and enthusiastic reviews featured at Amazon. I have always felt that "The Bishop's Wife", for all it's charm and whimsy, is only an average story. What REALLY ELEVATES it into an altogether magical and heartfelt classic is, in my opinion, the incredible musical score by Hugo Friedhofer. In those scenes in David Niven's sombre study we hear shimmery, otherworldy sounds, the chorales which drift in and out, with the saxophone melody that symbolizes the appearence of the angel in human THAT"S what great filmaking is about!
And yet, let's face it: David Niven's problems are really pretty insignificant compared to, say, what Jimmy Stewart faces in "It's a Wonderful Life" it's all vanity, wounded pride, confrontations with an arrogant old woman, etc....It's tough for me to get too concerned for a cleric who lives with his family in a fabulously lavish house and seem to have all the comforts of the rich and famous, right down to servants and cooks....the plot is really rather tedious in a way.
But still, I really enjoy the movie---it has a wonderful mood, especially in the scenes near the old church and in the professor's apartment, as Christmas Eve is growing near and we know the problems must all resolve themselves soon. I really like the final scene, where the old church is alive again, the boy's choir is singing its new hymn, the atheist professor is attending midnight mass...and everyone seems to be aware on some level that their lives have been touched by something magical...even though they don't CONSCIOUSLY remember Dudley's visit. Pretty cool.
I remember reading that Cary Grant really didn't care for the script and bascially walked through his role. I have always felt that way; for all of his charm, there's something cynical and jaded about his performance, if ever so slightly.
But there's that lovely skating scene---was that the way it really used to be in the "Old Days"?? A skating rink with a live band playing--how cool! Of course, all of the fancy skating is done by doubles, but there's that lovely closeup of Cary Grant and Loretta Young gliding together as James Gleason finally gets the hang of it---what a wonderful moment (again, Mr. Friedhofer's MUSIC really makes the scene work!). But WHY didn't they give us a final close-up of ALL THREE skaters--Dudley, Julia, and Sylvester---gliding together arm in arm----instead of all of those long shots which used professional skaters as doubles? It would have really capped the scene off beautifully. Oh well....
BUT NOW I MUST ASK----IS THIS THE BEST DVD TRANSFER THAT MGM COULD GIVE US FOR THIS FILM????? It's dark and gritty looking---lots of grain in the image...and the volume level is so LOW---I had to crank up my TV volume all the way to really hear it.
THE DVD transfer is a MAJOR BAD JOB; it's alarming to think that this release might represent the BEST AVAILABLE source material for this fine film. That would be a great shame. I hope that something better turns up and that MGM will re-release The Bishop's Wife and give it the treatment that it deserves.

Studio: Hbo Studios
Director: Henry Koster
Cary Grant
Loretta Young

DVD title: The Return of the Living Dead
Productgroup: DVD
The Return of the Living Dead - movie DVD cover picture
A note about the DVD

On the DVD of this movie they offer the choice STANDARD and WIDESCREEN. Well the truth of the matter is that the so called WIDESCREEN is one of those bogus WIDESCREEN versions. This film was shot in 1.33:1. You see back in the early 80's a lot of low budget films were shot in that ratio because the filmakers figured "Hey, the movie will be in theaters for 6-8 weeks and then Home Video will be its residing place for the rest of eternity." What they could not predict was that in the late 20th century film buffs would become such ardent film collectors that they would demand their favorite films to be released AS THEY WERE SHOT. Well MGM, when releasing The Return of the Living Dead, must have worried that its fans would MISTAKENLY think that they were not getting the film in its original format unless the DVD contained a WIDESCREEN version. So MGM slapped black bars on the top and bottom of the film(That's right, it's not any wider than the STANDARD version)and called it "WIDESCREEN". MGM, and all other film studios should realize that film fans don't care how WIDE a film is, they just want their films presented in their original format. If a film is shot 1.33:1 just explain that on the packaging(e.g.The Shining). Don't create bogus WIDESCREEN versions. For your information, MGM also did this with their Special Edition DVD of The Howling.

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: Dan O'Bannon
Clu Gulager
James Karen

DVD title: Office Space (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Office Space (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
One of the funniest movies out there!!

For anyone that is a cube-rat, or lives with a cube-rat this movie is a must see.

I'm not sure which is funnier, the script, or the fact that everyone that has ever worked in an office like Initech knows EXACTLY how those characters feel. From the banality of the daily grind, to the rah-rah corporate baloney spouted by the suspender-wearing yuppy pond-scum. Or the justifiable fear of "consultants", and the sense of quiet desperation that if you don't find something else to do this just might be as good as it gets, this movie hits all of those maddening aspects of cube-rat life directly on the head with wry wit, and a sly smile.

Well acted, well-written, and a pure delight to watch.

By the way, I believe you have my thtapler....

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Mike Judge
Ron Livingston
Jennifer Aniston

DVD title: Seven
Productgroup: DVD
Seven - movie DVD cover picture
yeah it's that good

when you see a realistic movie you know it's good. i liked this movie to every extent. it's a likeable movie.

Studio: New Line Studios
Director: David Fincher
Brad Pitt
Morgan Freeman
Kevin Spacey

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