Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Bringing Down The House (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Bringing Down The House (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Queen Latifah Brings Down the House!

The first 15 minutes of "Bringing Down the House" do not bode well for the rest of the film to come: both Steve Martin and Queen Latifah are mugging instead of acting and there seems to be none of the required spark between them. They are faking it and it is obvious. Then something happens after this initial sequence ...their personalities mesh and they began to have fun with their roles and their predicament and the film begins to...Rock.Martin is a master screen comedian...always willing to do something out of the ordinary. His scene in the "Down/Low" Nightclub is a Classic! Latifah, especially after her triumph in "Chicago" looks like she's going to take on the mantle of by-gone screen sirens: smart, physical comedians like Eve Arden and Carol Lombard. She's also a smart cookie, business-wise as she is one of this films Executive producers.Suffice to say that Latifah (as Charlene) and Martin (as Peter) start off their relationship (platonic) as adversaries but end up friends with much solved and discovered in between.Now where is that J-Lo, Sandra Bullock, Kate Hudson Romantic comedy for Queen Latifah? She's more than ready for it.

Studio: Buena Vista Home Vid
Director: Adam Shankman
Steve Martin
Queen Latifah
Eugene Levy

DVD title: The Best Man
Productgroup: DVD
The Best Man - movie DVD cover picture
Needs more stars than 5!

This was one of the greatest movies of all times. I am very impressed with the selection of the cast. Couldn't have picked a better one myself. Taye, Morris, and the others did an outstanding job, one that I'll gladly applaud, but I must admit that Terrence Howard was the "Best" man in this movie. He had this mysterious perception thing going that got everyone he talked to thinking. His "are you sure about that" and "it's carma" attitude caused even the most positive person to doubt what was true. There was a certain deepness about his character that kept everyone one edge. Then at the end the man showed out on the dance floor. It was "ELECTRIFYING" what he did to the electric slide. The movie was off the hook, and my applaud goes out to the producers who saw that Terrence "Quentin Spivey" Howard had what it took to be the "BEST MAN".

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Malcolm D. Lee

DVD title: The City of Lost Children
Productgroup: DVD
The City of Lost Children - movie DVD cover picture
This is the stuff nightmares are made of.

I'll have to say that this movie is one of the scariest and saddest movies that I've ever seen, although it is very unique and even enjoyable at times because of the insane amounts of creativity that is present in every single scene.
One of the main problems that I had with this movie were precisely because of the creativity; the story moves quickly, and because so much of it is so new, I was often confused about many things. I would even suggest reading a partial plot summary of it before you've seen it, so you have some idea of what's going on, because otherwise it can be a confusing experience.
Of course, I'm sure that if I watched the movie again I would understand much more of it in hindsight. However, I'm not sure that I would want to watch this movie again. Despite being extremely well directed and filmed, it sits heavy on the soul, and I'm pretty sure that certain scenes from it will find a way to get into my dreams and turn them into nightmares (just like a recurrent theme in the movie). It doesn't really have what one would call a happy ending, either.
Another note; the version that I saw was dubbed in English, and while most of the voice acting was fairly good, I didn't think that Myet's English voice really fit her character.
Well, those are my thoughts. Whatever you do, don't show this film to your kids before bedtime. ;)

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Ron Perlman
Daniel Emilfork

DVD title: Frank Herbert's Dune (TV Miniseries) (Director's Cut Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Frank Herbert's Dune (TV Miniseries) (Director's Cut Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
A study of messiah-figures

The Lynch adaptation of Frank Herbert's epic was my first encounter with the mystical world of DUNE. I was only in my mid-teens then and you can imagine how shocked I was after watching the movie: it was VERY WEIRD! Now in my thirties, I see the whole Dune series so differently, all thanks to the TV series. In fact, after watching the TV series, I scoured book stores to buy another copy of DUNE (which I threw away after reading it in my teens!)! I gave up my search and finally ordered them from Amazon!
In a weird and inexplicable way, I could never forget, till today the strange icons of DUNE: the god-like Navigators and their mysterious spacing-guild agents (one wonders why the Navigators, who can traverse the universe without moving, need to be 'chaperoned' around by humanoid guild agents!?), the mystical Bene Gessirit witchdom and its antithetical Mentat counterparts (who worships "...Logic & Statistics."), the CHOAGM commerce system not unlike our terra equivalent WTO, the WORMS, the SPICE MELANGE (so rich in imagination and detailed description by Herbert that you could almost be deceived into thinking that it actually exists in the universe!) the systematic breeding program to cultivate a KWISATZ HADERACH - a messiah figure...the central theme running through all the DUNE books. (sorry folks, DUNE is about messiah-figures, NOT about SPICE or Space-travel.)
Herbert was a genius in creating all these idioms of a highly provocative and complex yet so intriguingly and enticingly real world (and thereby human). Yet, when he created the world-view in DUNE, he had intended it to be a series of studies on messiah-figures. In other words, he attempted to humanise something which is divine and immortal. He played God and tried to think like God when constructing the Mahdi/KWISATZ HADERACH/messiah Paul Muab'dib Atreides. Personally, the whole DUNE series of books is Herbert's personal search for God, whether futile or otherwise, nobody knows. But thanks to him, I get to write this review and enjoy his story!
On the above basis, I think the DUNE TV series outperforms the Lynch adaptation. The messiah psyche was explored in much greater depth and with greater sensitivity as well, pay close attention to the private conservations between Jessica and Paul...when Jessica had intrigued, whether she believed or not, to perpetuate the godliness of her son amongst the Fremen just to preserve their lives. It makes you wonder whether gods are incidental, self-made or truly divine. See also how frustrated Paul was when he couldn't see the future and was driven to risk his life by taking the poisonous Water of Life. Is this how a messiah becomes created? Read the next book DUNE:MESSIAH to see how Paul's life ended...
Other nuggets in the TV series provide compelling comparison with the movie version, e.g. a blue-eyed (caused by consuming spice) Navigator who looks more humanoid than the orange (spice color) gas spewing bug-like Lynch version. MUCH, MUCH better WORMS in the TV series, and a better depiction, i.e. explanation of the Water of Life from Shai-hulud. With the exception of Paul & Chani, everyone on the TV series looked better. Special mention must go to Emperor Shaddam IV, the Italian actor who also acted in Hannibal and Jessica, Saskia Reeves, who added that all important touch of human vulnerability into her character. I give 5 stars to the TV series because despite all its short-comings (e.g. too short, awful costumes, sets that were less opulent and grand than the Lynch sets), it fleshed out the critical details of a great story and more importantly, it was just long enough to provide a more satisfying characterisation of the protagonists, thereby adding depth to the story where the Lynch version failed.
In summary, get the TV series if you are NEW to DUNE and can't be bothered to read the book...and chances are that after watching the TV series, you will still find too many questions unanswered and end up buying the books! The curiosity will drive you to buy the books, IF you like sci-fi and opulent epics.

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
William Hurt

DVD title: Goldfinger (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Goldfinger (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Essential Bond....

Goldfinger is the quintessential Bond flick. Goldfinger has all of the elements that make a Bond movie great. If you only own one Bond film, this would be the one. Lots of action, good looking women and a great villian and sidekick.

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: Guy Hamilton
Sean Connery
Honor Blackman
Gert Fröbe

DVD title: Tender Mercies
Productgroup: DVD
Tender Mercies - movie DVD cover picture
Beautifully filmed movie

We saw this movie some years ago, and yearned to have it on DVD.
The film is unusually beautiful, having a special truthfulness in it, constructed with delicacy and tenderness.
The movie is not declaratory in any way and (in my opinion) succeeds in showing the other (unseen) face of America. Not the America of stars, businessmen, presidents, billionaires or fight-for-freedom heroes, but the America of "small", "regular" people.
By no means a purposely patriotic film, this movie probably can stir up more simpathy to this nation than most of Vietnam War or WWII super-trumpeted and super-expensive productions.
The interviews added as bonus on the DVD are equally rewarding. I was personally charmed by the tranquil appearance of talented screen-player Horton Foote.
Definitely a DVD to have in everyone's collection.

Studio: Republic Studios
Director: Bruce Beresford
Robert Duvall
Tess Harper

DVD title: Spirit - Stallion of the Cimarron (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Spirit - Stallion of the Cimarron (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Solid adventure story for horse lovers

Kids -- especially girls -- love horses and this film gives them exactly what they are looking for ... worth watching over and over again. If not, then why buy a DVD in the first place?

Studio: Universal Studios
Matt Damon

DVD title: Stray Dog - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Stray Dog - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Japanese Film Noir

I made a recent purchase of some Kurosawa films form, and I recently watched the first, Stray Dog. It was the first non-samurai movie I've seen since Rhapsody in August, an anti war movie that I saw many years ago and barely remember. I really enjoyed and was quite impressed with this early work of Kurosawa. But this film combines two things that I am really interested. On one level it is film noir, a detective gets his hand gun pick pocketed on a crowded bus and tries to chase down the ?rabid dog? before any other people are killed. The second aspect that appealed to me was that it is set in occupied Japan after the war. The occupation and Meiji restoration are the most interesting historical periods for me; because they are periods of great flux and help explain why Japan is the way it is today. The black markets figure in proximately during the film. On one level it is mediation on the options available to people in post war Japan, the moral choice that ex-army soldier Murakami (Mifune) takes, or the amoral destructive role the thief/murderer Yusa takes. There's a great commentary by Stephen Prince, who also narrated the commentary for the classic, The Seven Samurai. I think I might develop this theme and write any essay on it.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Toshirô Mifune
Takashi Shimura
Keiko Awaji

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

The film is brilliant. In reference to the music that accompanies it: Susan Werner has two albums. Mary Me Jane has a couple albums, their work is found throughout 'If Lucy Fell.' Aimie Mann's last album contains one of the songs in the film as well. If only we had a soundtrack, if only it contained Mr. Schaeffer's poetry.
That infectious scream at the end of the movie, I can't place it, but it is moving in ways not expressed in a five star rating system--the same for the movie.
Ignore the miscast of Amanda De Cardenet, the dialogue, the soundtrack, and that lovely voice-over technique--a piece of filmmaking genius.
Warning: Mr. Schaeffer has a problem with keeping his clothes on in this movie.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: Eric Schaeffer

DVD title: Alive & Kicking
Productgroup: DVD
Alive & Kicking - movie DVD cover picture

This is one of the most moving, beautiful, and brilliant films I have ever seen. A true lesson about life, love, and friendship that everyone should be taught. Jason Flemyng was extraordinary. You'll want to see it again and again.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Nancy Meckler
Jason Flemyng
Antony Sher

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