Film DVD related reviews


DVD title: Three Days of the Condor
Productgroup: DVD
Three Days of the Condor - movie DVD cover picture
Pollack and Redford Combine


Sydney Pollack and Robert Redford combine their talents for this impressive suspense film. Robert Redford plays a reader for the CIA and gets lucky one day. He then has to piece together a rather complicated puzzle. This movie unravels its secrets slowly and surely, leaving the audience stuck within it's web. Other movies nowadays like to spring it all on quick and thick, not so with this film. It piles twist upon twist, and the plot doesn't seem contrived or pre-destined to get to the big revelation, common in most suspense films. It flows wonderously and smoothly. The characters are believable and real, not caricatures or superhuman action heroes. It remains a favorite of mine after watching it years ago, and that is a testament to its staying power. A truly impressive film.

Studio: Paramount Studio
Director: Sydney Pollack
Actors:
Robert Redford
Faye Dunaway




DVD title: The Ruling Class - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
The Ruling Class - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
The Ruling Class


The movie is both entertaining and thought provoking. Bringing out the possibilities of the "Jeckel and Hyde" in each of us. Portarying a personallity of a rejected man of peace that was forced into a personallity of acceptable evil. A must see.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Peter Medak
Actors:
Peter O'Toole
Alastair Sim
Arthur Lowe




DVD title: Chinatown
Productgroup: DVD
Chinatown - movie DVD cover picture
Shadows and Darkness in Daylight


The film's title refers to an area of Los Angeles where private investigator J.J. Gittes (Nicholson) once served as a police officer. It also suggests the difficulties of finding one's way in unfamiliar territory. Directed by Roman Polanski who received (in absentia) an Academy Award in 2003 for his direction of The Pianist, this film seems to have multiple layers of meaning and apparent meaning. Yes, it is well within the noir tradition but it also seems to reflect so much of the social discord during the decade prior to when it was released (1974) even as it examines Los Angeles during the 1930s, amidst the Great Depression but also a time when so many accumulated vast wealth through sometimes questionable business practices. (If I recall correctly, the number of millionaires in the United States quintupled during the decade following the collapse of the stock market in 1929.) By all accounts, Noah Cross (Huston) is an immensely wealthy and power force within the city's business community. For reasons which are revealed in the film, Gittes finds himself in an adversarial relationship with Cross and has little chance of prevailing against him. Now a private investigator, Gittes is retained by Evelyn Mulwray to follow her husband Hollis whose behavior has raised questions and caused her to be concerned. Gittes' involvement with her leads to his conflicts with Cross, for reasons which neither Gittes nor we understand until much later in the film. Polanksi briefly appears in the film (an Hitchcockian touch) as the Man with a Knife...and he uses it. Throughout much of the movie, neither Gittes nor we know what's happening. Individuals as well as circumstances are not what they appear to be. It's as if Gittes and we are being toyed with...a brilliant strategy on Polanski's part to sustain interest with precise pacing while creating tensions and even conflicts whose nature evades understanding. At one point Cross tells Gittes "You may think you know what you're dealing with, but believe me, you don't." He didn't and, at that point, neither did I.
Obviously, this film intrigues me, in part because it frustrates me as I must struggle (as does Gittes) to understand various relationships which may be real or imagined...both by me and by most of those involved. What's with Evelyn Mulwray? What information is she concealing? To what extent (if any) is her husband Hollis involved with Cross? What is her own relationship with Cross? Whom and what does Gittes threaten? Why? (For most of the film, he doesn't know.) I could go on and on about ambiguities. It is paradoxical that so many of its important scenes are bathed by dazzling Southern California sunshine in this prime example of a film noir.

Studio: Paramount Studio
Director: Roman Polanski
Actors:
Jack Nicholson
Faye Dunaway
John Huston




DVD title: The Powerpuff Girls - The Movie
Productgroup: DVD
The Powerpuff Girls - The Movie - movie DVD cover picture
If you like the show, you won't be disappointed.


I really like the show, and watch it habitually. I was afraid that the movie would miss the charm that the show has. The movie definitely has a different feel from the show. It seems a bit more "epic" due to the longer length, the more "cinematic" music, and how much bigger everything is. They also put in a bit of "3-D" "computery" stuff for a few scenes. I suppose it would be a bit of a disappointment if they didn't do anything different in terms of animation. However, what is most important is how adorable the girls are, and how much they are actually seen. They didn't screw this up. The girls are more adorable than a thousand teddy bears and there are few parts that don't center around them.
By the way, the voice of Bubbles is the hottest of the Powerpuff Girl voice actresses, followed by the voice of Buttercup, with the voice of Blossom in distant third. It's kinda weird because I'd put it in the opposite order if I were judging the Powerpuff Girls themselves.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Craig McCracken
Actors:
Cathy Cavadini
Tara Strong




DVD title: The Andromeda Strain
Productgroup: DVD
The Andromeda Strain - movie DVD cover picture
Velvet star in a wheel of fortune


'The Andromeda Strain' is an extremely good post-'2001', pre-'Star Wars' 70's science fiction film. You know - it has edgy, electronic music, a measured pace, an ambiguous ending, split-screen effects and a healthy disrespect for authority. It predates the Jaws-era 'nature vs man' genre by a good few years, too. Also, uniquely for a Hollywood film, it features lots of anonymous actors who look like normal people, as well as, amazingly, a middle-aged woman. This lends the film a certain authenticity - our heroes appear to be regular scientists, and the environment they find themselves in, whilst dated, seems genuine. The film proceeds with both scientific accuracy and a lack of sensationalism, although there are a couple of striking sequences. The opening shots, in which pressure-suited scientists wander around a literal ghost town, is striking, and the finale, in which one of our heroes becomes a virus in the body of a giant computer, is striking, although very dated. This film features some archaic, charming computer graphics, too - as well as Douglas Trumball's patented '2001-style' animated CGI displays. And for DVD? A box. And a trailer. Hmm.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Robert Wise
Actors:
Arthur Hill
James Olson




DVD title: Georges Bizet - Carmen / Nuria Espert · Zubin Mehta - M. Ewing · L. Lima · L. Vaduva - ROH Covent Garden
Productgroup: DVD
Georges Bizet - Carmen / Nuria Espert · Zubin Mehta - M. Ewing · L. Lima · L. Vaduva - ROH Covent Garden - movie DVD cover picture
Great entertainment!


I was very pleased with the clear focus, the perfect sound level (did not sound like a distant voice singing like many theater recordings do)and ease of use. The menu was adequate and I expected much less when ordering this DVD, therefore I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the show was. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys opera, since it gives a person a chance to enjoy the theatre even when we do not have a chance to get to the opera house.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Barrie Gavin



DVD title: Marmalade Boy Ultimate Scrapbook - Volume 1 (Episodes 1-19)
Productgroup: DVD
Marmalade Boy Ultimate Scrapbook - Volume 1 (Episodes 1-19) - movie DVD cover picture
CLASSIC older series


It's hard to describe M.B. without giving spoilers. It's basically a story of Miki and he romance with her live in (soon to be) "brother".
If you have any interest in Japanese culture this series is seeped in it. From what drastic haircuts mean... to social dynamics in the classroom and romance between teenagers.
It's funny that Amazon mentions that this came out the same year as Evangelion. In my opinion this series has held up better than Evangelion.
The characters are DEEP and amazing. There are no 2D ones in this series.. no filler characters to paint the background. It's funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking and joyous. A modern anime classic.

Studio: Tokyopop Inc



DVD title: Cosmos Boxed Set (Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Cosmos Boxed Set (Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Still a Very Interesting Series. Only PBS could do it.


Well Cosmos was and still is a very interesting series. Depending on how you look at it. It's either a long documentry, or it's an indirect sequal to the same ideas about the universe seen in the movie 2001; A Space Odyssey (And in Star Trek, Star Wars, and Steven Speilberg films also). It was very a large series done to show us what man's place in the universe really is, and I'm glad PBS did this series. Boxed disks include some new footage and updates by Dr. Carl Sagan himself.

Studio: Cosmos Studios
Actors:
Carl Sagan



DVD title: Be Cool (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Be Cool (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
twinkle twinkle baby twinkle twinkle


Now im a huge vince vaugh fan, and i think that this was his best movie....anyway. well its about chilli palmer, and how hes quitting the movie business to join the music industry. He finds a rising star singer and names himself as her manager. Now this dosnt go down smoothly with her old managers and they try to take out chilli. yea and thats all im telling u!!!!

P.S. the rock is gay in it, very funny

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: F. Gary Gray
Actors:
John Travolta
Uma Thurman
Vince Vaughn
The Rock




DVD title: The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Stunning!!


I have now sat through "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings" several times, including a few viewings of the film's extended edition, which was released on DVD earlier this Winter. When I originally saw the film theatrically, I liked it, but didn't love it and found it rather flawed - the first hour seemed too slow and I never really found myself fully involved in the characters. However, I warmed up to the film after its first DVD release and consider the extended version to be a very considerable improvement over the theatrical cut.
I'm pleased to say that I found "The Two Towers", the follow-up to the first picture, to be mostly a phenomenal piece of cinema (once again, I have not read the books - I'm going simply on what I thought of the film). The film may be the middle part of the trilogy, but that actually works for the opening of the picture - we know these characters and after the sudden close of the first film, most will likely be eager to see the adventure continue on-screen. The opening sixty minutes of the picture opens at a full-throttle pace as Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas the elf (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli the dwarf (John Rhys-Davies) continue to try and rescue hobbits Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) from their Orc captors. Elsewhere, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) continue their journey to destroy the ring, guided by Gollum (Andy Serkis), a CGI-creature who is obsessed with the ring, but decides to serve as the guide for the two hobbits. There is also the return of Gandalf (Ian McKellen).
The film does split the story into a few pieces, although it's a credit to director Peter Jackson and the film's editors that the film cuts between the stories perfectly, with not too much time spent on one or another. This film focuses on Aragorn's character considerably more than anyone else, but that's not a bad thing: Viggo Mortensen is a terrific actor and the progression of this character is the most engaging part of this picture. Still, Frodo's quest is compelling material and even Merry and Pippin's ending up on the shoulders of a giant tree creature, Tree Beard (voiced by John Rhys-Davies) is enjoyable - a good mix of comedy and drama. While Gollum's tragic battle with his own soul is often very well-played, there is one darkly funny sequence with the creature battling himself that is quite amusing. The human actors also all provide uniformly stellar performances, with even some of the performances that have less screen-time (Liv Tyler's Arwen) remaining memorable.
All of this eventually builds towards the battle of Helm's Deep, a giant stone fortress that Aragorn, Pippin, Gimli, king Theoden (Bernard Hill) and an army of a few hundred men have retreated to. Sauruman (Christopher Lee)'s armies are sweeping across the lands, however, and its only a matter of time before they reach the gates. When they do - the film's last 20-25 minutes - it's something truly breathtaking. Facing impossible odds, the band of a few hundred looks out to face nearly 10,000.
The film does have a bit of a slow point around the middle, but both the opening and closing of the film proceed with more forward momentum than the first picture did in general. "The Two Towers" story, split into several sections, also feels larger than the first film - there's more going on, there feels like even more at stake and the urgency and emotion that Jackson is able to give many events in the film is remarkable.
Technically, the film is also remarkable. Peter Jackson and team, whose careful use of CGI mixed with astonishingly beautiful real locations only enhances the film, shows how computer effects should be used, unlike the latest "Star Wars" pictures, where the effects overwhelm everything else. Gollum, for example, is a far better character - in animation, voicing, writing, emotion and movement - than Lucas's horrid Jar-Jar Binks. Andrew Lesnie's cinematography once again makes the New Zeland locations look breathtakingly beautiful and epic. Howard Shore's score adds drama, tension and excitement without calling too much attention to itself. Production design is, once again, first-rate.
"The Two Towers" is not a flawless picture, but it is grand, epic filmmaking unlike anything I've seen in recent years. The continuing story of these great characters continues to be compelling, the realization of this world by Peter Jackson and crew is visually stunning and many scenes here are powerful and incredibly memorable - especially the Helm's Deep sequence, which is more amazing than anything I've seen on the big screen in recent memory.
One of the year's finest films.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Peter Jackson
Actors:
Elijah Wood
Ian McKellen
Viggo Mortensen




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