Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Britten - Billy Budd / Tim Albery · David Atherton · Thomas Allen · ENO
Productgroup: DVD
Britten - Billy Budd / Tim Albery · David Atherton · Thomas Allen · ENO - movie DVD cover picture
Powerful -- Captures the Essence of Melville

This is one of the most powerful of the 50-60 opera DVDs I personally have managed to view so far. Britten somehow seemed to get wonderful librettists -- for example, the libretto for The Turn of the Screw captures the essence of James' novel in about five percent of the words James used. The same goes for the libretto Crozier and Forster (yes, THE E. M. Forster) wrote for this opera. They have absolutely captured the dramatic essence of Billy Budd, Foretopman in a form that Britten could then use to express effectively through his music.
If you read the various reviews of this production (for the originals as well as the recording), you will hear carping to the effect that (1) Thomas Allen is too old to be Billy Budd; (2) the set is too abstract; (3) the older Vere shouldn't be on stage at the climax; and so on. This is all nit-picking nonsense. The positives of this production so far outweigh the negatives that the overall result is overwhelming. You will find few opera video recordings as moving and effective as this one.
By the Way: one of the other Amazon reviewers complains about how the orchestral interlude between the scenes in the final act is cut in half. This is not an issue with the DVD -- everything proceeds seamlessly.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Barrie Gavin

DVD title: A View to a Kill
Productgroup: DVD
A View to a Kill - movie DVD cover picture
a view to a kill

All I have to say is this... it's really sad that Duran Duran's music video for the title track was more exciting than the movie itself. TTFN...

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: John Glen (II)
Roger Moore
Christopher Walken

DVD title: April Fool's Day
Productgroup: DVD
April Fool's Day - movie DVD cover picture

When the trailers first came out for April Fools Day, they were accompanied by the song "Momma Told Me Not To Come" by Three Dog Night. I wasn't sure if it was a slasher movie, a comedy, a comedy-slasher movie, or even a frat-party movie. All I knew for sure was that Deborah Foreman (Valley Girl)was in it and in the mid-80's I thought she was so hot you could have cast her in a high school driving safety video and I would have paid admission.
Foreman plays Muffy, a rich college kid who invites a bunch of friends to a secluded island owned by her family for a weekend (an April Fools weekend) of fun and pranks. The island is only reachable by ferry and this is the last ferry until monday. An accident happens and the kids are shaken.
Here is where the mind games start. Not many of the young people know each other. All are supposedly friends of Muffy, but most of them don't know each other directly. April fools pranks are played non-stop. Dribble glasses, collapsing chairs, and newspaper clippings about dark events. Wait a second...newspaper clippings? Is someone playing a joke, or is this real? There is the hook.
Severed heads, rattlenakes, and Muffy's slow transformation from college beauty to frumpy borderline personality disorder mix evenly with dirty tricks and foolish pranks. What is real? How much danger is everyone in?
There is no argument that April Fools Day was riding in on the wave of 80's slasher films, but that is where the similarity to other genre movies ends. You really have to think at this one. They really want to you ask yourself "is this all a joke?" and "could anyone have actually survived that?"
I have to give some credit to the music for setting up some great tension. It adds to the feel without taking you out of the moment.
If you have not seen this film but you have a friend that has, don't let them tell you any of it's dark secrets. Enjoy.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Fred Walton (II)
Deborah Foreman
Griffin O'Neal
Clayton Rohner

DVD title: A Tribute to Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Productgroup: DVD
A Tribute to Burt Bacharach & Hal David - movie DVD cover picture
Give This as a Gift!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The great Burt is a part of our history. His proliphic writing and arrangements are a part of America's Songbook.
It was great to see Ms. Dionne Warwick with Burt again. As a teenager in the mid 80's, my first concert ever was Dionne and Burt at Radio City Music Hall. MY FIRST CONCERT EVER!!!! So, watching the DVD, brought warm memories to mind.
Buy this one!!!!

Studio: Image Entertainment
Petula Clark
Elvis Costello
Dionne Warwick
Brian Kennedy

DVD title: Restoration
Productgroup: DVD
Restoration - movie DVD cover picture
Visually Stunning!

This is one of my all time favorite "costume" movies. I have seen it at least 15 times and never tire of it. It's plot I must admit, is a bit slow however, the cinematography and set design make up for that. The sets are astounding and if you want a film that gives you an idea of the gaudiness and decadance of the riegn of Charles II this is for you. It may not be historically accurate, but Robert Downey, Jr. performance makes you believe it happened that way. If you like 17th or 18th century costume films...this one takes the cake.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Michael Hoffman
Robert Downey Jr.
Sam Neill

DVD title: Excalibur
Productgroup: DVD
Excalibur - movie DVD cover picture
DVD Reignites a classic

I loved this movie on its release almost 20 years ago...i have had it on VHS for years and watched it often. Now released on DVD, with the addition of a remastered soundtrack...Dolby Digital 5.1... and superb picture transfer quality..this film takes on new dimensions..although being an Arthurian purist I still cant forgive some glaring omissions, such as the Black Knight and of course Sir Galahad...the character of Sir Percival has to carry the bulk of the hasty conclusion to the film.
The photography is stunning, the acting patchy: although Gabriel Byrne in an early career role is good...but the film belongs to Nicol Williamson as is one of cinema's finest performances from this rarely seen actor. I watched this DVD on a Toshiba SD9000 DVD PLAYER ....IT IS A REGION 4 PAL Version disc... I use a Yamaha RX-V995.Audio Video Receiver... and Aaron Main and surround speakers and sub woofer... It is an audio visual feast..the music is goose bump stuff. Enjoy

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: John Boorman
Nigel Terry
Helen Mirren

DVD title: While You Were Sleeping
Productgroup: DVD
While You Were Sleeping - movie DVD cover picture
One of my all time favorites!

I have watched this movie a lot of times and thought I would finally review it. I'm happy to see other reviewers also feel the same way I do about this movie! This is one of the few movies that I repeatedly put into my dvd player for viewing. It is one of the best romantic comedy films ever made.

The story is about Lucy (Sandra Bullock), a lonely girl without family, who works in a tollbooth everyday with boredom. The only high point of her work is when she sees Peter Callahan, a man who walks by her booth everyday to catch the subway. She has not talked to him ever but hopes that one day that he too will fall in love with her. One day though, due to some circumstances, something happens to Peter and she saves Peter's life in the subway station and brings him to the hospital. Due to some misunderstandings, Peter's family think Lucy is his fianc?e and accept her as part of her family, where she gets to meet Jack (Bill Pullman). Soon Lucy finds herself in a sticky position and has to decide as to who she really loves in the end.

You will never get tired of watching this movie over and over again. When you watch this film, you will laugh, cry, and feel good about yourself. Sandra Bullock did a great job of playing Lucy. The chemistry between her and Bill Pullman is wonderful throughout the movie. Also, the background music to the movie is really great! Randy Edelman composed a sweet soundtrack for this movie that adds perfectly to all the scenes of the movie. `While you were sleeping' is a film you can watch with anyone, whether it be your friends or your family, and everyone enjoys it!

Studio: Hollywood Home Video
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Sandra Bullock
Bill Pullman
Peter Gallagher

DVD title: High and Low - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
High and Low - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Dark, complex, and riveting

Akira Kurosawa is better known here for his historic dramas, but he was a master of many forms. Here he combines again with Toshiro Mifune to create an atmospheric mystery ostensibly about a kidnapping, but also a social commentary on the wide gap being developed in Japanese society by post-war prosperity. The Japanese title actually better translates Heaven and Hell, and refers to the two worlds of the antagonists: the elevated world of the business executive, and the degraded world of the poor and desperate. Kurosawa moves us emotionally and physically from one world to the other, concluding with a deathrow confrontation between the principles that is one of the most harrowing in film. This films ranks high on my list of Kurosawa films, and is a classic by any standard.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Toshirô Mifune
Tatsuya Nakadai
Yutaka Sada

DVD title: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Valerie a týden divu)
Productgroup: DVD
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Valerie a týden divu) - movie DVD cover picture
Pearls before seems.

One of the great films of the 20th century, and unavailable for the last 30 years. A real shame (thank you Facets for its release! And such a beautiful print). I remember seeing "Valerie" for the first time in 1974. I had no idea what was going on, But it was one of the most beautiful films I'd ever seen, so I relaxed and watched the flow of images. I've seen it many times since (thanks to a bootleg copy).

The key to its understanding is that she is asleep from the start of the film to the end, and what we are seeing are her dreams, a unique approach to say the least. A good analysis of the film can be found on pages 229-236, The Czechoslovak New Wave by Peter Hames, U. of California Press, 1985.

The end of "Valerie" is, to me, profoundly touching. During most of the film, she freely interacts with the characters of her dreams, but by the end she has achieved a kind of detached enlightenment; though they call to her, Valerie refuses to interact with them anymore. And so at the end, in that Autumnal landscape, as her dreams dance around her, she climbs into her bed one last time......Sleep tight sweet Valerie, don't let the bedbugs bite....."Fear is only a dream / so dream little one dream."

A note to Mr. Nietzsche (not the philosopher); the term is not "Claymation", that word was invented by the animator Will Vinton to promote his work. The correct term is "Stop-motion".
A note to Mr.Cox: "La Femme Nikita" is neither "odd-ball" nor a "classic".

Finally, regarding the remarkably unkind reviews of "Valerie" by the above 2 persons,
I'll let uncle Will have the last word: "You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things...."

Studio: Facets Video
Director: Jaromil Jires

DVD title: The Sword in the Stone (Disney Gold Classic Collection)
Productgroup: DVD
The Sword in the Stone (Disney Gold Classic Collection) - movie DVD cover picture
A Classic Disney Film that is sometimes overlooked.

This may not be as iconic as some of the other films that the Walt Disney company has made, but it is definately a classic. This gives us a more lighter whimsical look on Camelot. The voice talents are great. The animation is in the classic 60s style that Disney was into at the time. The whole movie is fun. See it, it is not a masterpiece landmark of an animated film but very very good indeed.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Sebastian Cabot
Karl Swenson
Rickie Sorensen

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