Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Wedding Banquet
Productgroup: DVD
The Wedding Banquet - movie DVD cover picture
Quiet, lovely film

"The Wedding Banquet" finds Ang Lee in top form, and centers on a gay couple living in Manhattan. One of the men is Chinese, and he feels certain his parents would never accept his lifestyle. So he marries a Chinese woman living in one of his apartment buildings in New York and passes her off as his wife when his parents come to visit. There are little suprises in this film, and a number of funny and poignant scenes. Its main theme is unconditional love and acceptance. I would definitely recommend this film, as well as other Ang Lee films like Sense and Sensibility and The Ice Storm, in which all, in one way or another, focus on human relationships and our capacity for love.

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: Ang Lee
Winston Chao
May Chin

DVD title: Life Is Beautiful
Productgroup: DVD
Life Is Beautiful - movie DVD cover picture
I wept and laughed

Some say that it is hard to make a funny movie about the Holocaust. I must admit, some of the scenes were very funny in this film. I found, however, that, once they got to the Nazi concentration camp, even those things that were funny I could only see through a haze of intense sadness. And I think that was the intent of the film. Some of the funny scenes I coul dnot laught at.
Benigni is able to weave light through the dark pattern of the Holocaust horror. And he does this showing the deep love of a father for his son, a love that is unconditional, even to death. It is not a movie about laughing about the Holocaust, it is about laughing in the face of evil, because no matter what they take from you, they can never take away love.
For those who question that comedy can be made on this subject, may I say that I have never wept so deeply after watching a movie. It affected me even more than Schindler's List because it was more subtle, and in so being, went deeper.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Roberto Benigni
Roberto Benigni
Nicoletta Braschi

DVD title: Origins of Film Box Set
Productgroup: DVD
Origins of Film Box Set - movie DVD cover picture
Truly Outstanding!

This nice box set of 3 discs surpassed all my expectations and I was thoroughly engrossed for the entire 9 1/2 hours total playing time (though not in one sitting, of course!) The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institute have chosen an excellent variety of early films to represent the first/best of each genre: Fantasy, Animation, Gangster Film, etc and they are all real gems, in my opinion. The first disc has two feature-length films by African Americans, and both deserve good attention to the story and the messages they get across. Although the first one, "Within Our Gates" is rather complex with a lot of story packed in, it tells a realistic story with a strong message for all people, regardless of race or country.

Then, for a complete change of pace, the Animation section has over 20 short and fun examples of early animation - from simple cartoon line drawings to puppets and a few other tricks. My personal favourites are the two feature-length Fantasy films: "The Patchwork Girl of Oz" is the typical Fantasy as we know it today, from "The Wizard of Oz" and beyond, with magicians, strange creatures and good fun overall, whereas "A Florida Enchantment" is totally different but every bit as fascinating and entertaining. This one appears down-to-earth except for a mysterious box containing magical seeds that can transform women to men and vice versa - a novelty idea and still very effective 90 years later.

The third disc features some good shorts and two feature-length films of the Gangster Film and Women Filmmakers categories with very good stories once again that are presented in different ways. "Two Wise Wives" by Lois Weber has quite a bit of psychology and sociology in it, for those who'd like to dig deeper, and the feature-length Gangster film is anything but bad guys shooting it out in the slums - in fact, it's an idealistic, moralistic story about an ex-con who is motivated to go straight, making the entire box set a wonderful variety of some unusual, surprising and special early films (many being from the years 1914-19) which I think should appeal to anyone interested in good quality films generally, and in what high standards filmmakers were attaining already some 80-90 years ago.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Origins of Film

DVD title: G3 - Live in Concert
Productgroup: DVD
G3 - Live in Concert - movie DVD cover picture
One of the most incredible concert videos ever.

Where to favorite portion is obviously the jam session at the end. But the highlight of the video is not Vai or Satriani, but Eric Johnson. I don't think there is anyone in the world who can match his tone and fingerwork. I mean look at his fingerwork during his blues progressions during Manhattan, Red House and SRV. I love Satch and Vai, but they just don't compare to the tone master himself. My only complaint is that the video was too short. Come on....3 songs a piece??? Give me a break, 3 songs are an injustice to the caliber of playing that these three have. Hope there is a sequel coming soon.

Studio: Sony/Columbia
Joe Satriani
Eric Johnson
Steve Vai

DVD title: Russian Ark
Productgroup: DVD
Russian Ark - movie DVD cover picture

I've never considered myself a big fan of art, nor of foreign films for that matter. Never the less, I loved this film, kept me interested and the flow of the movie seemed perfect. I would imagine that historians and artists would appreciate the film much more.
The visuals were astounding, the music brilliant. I watched the HDTV version of this movie, so I cannot comment on the DVD features or quality.
After watching, I wanted to plan a trip to Russia.

Studio: Wellspring Media, In
Director: Aleksandr Sokurov

DVD title: The Simpsons - The Complete Second Season
Productgroup: DVD
The Simpsons - The Complete Second Season - movie DVD cover picture
May have been The Simpsons' finest season

This is a great collection of the finest of the Simpsons' episodes. The extras here are funny and insightful.
I'd never seen the Simpsons' music videos. The music is pretty stupid, but the animation is surprising and humorous. A great purchase!

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Dan Castellaneta

DVD title: Beavers (Large Format)
Productgroup: DVD
Beavers (Large Format) - movie DVD cover picture
Movie making at its best and most noble.

In looking for the top rated IMAX DVDs to get for Christmas this one repeatedly came up as a five star just about everywhere I looked, and was never less than four stars. If you're an IMAX fan, outdoor/animal lover, or just want very high quality entertainment for your home, then you must consider adding this film to your collection. Its not just a kids film either, all of the adults in our family enjoy it just as much as the kids do.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Stephen Low

DVD title: Wonder Woman - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Wonder Woman - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
in your satin tights, fighting for our rights

I hadn't seen any of these episodes set in WW2 prior to buying the DVD and it was well worth it. I've now watched all the episodes on this set and am onto Season two. Now that I'm watching the second season, I find I miss Diana's innoncence and the close relationship that was developing between Diana and Steve from season 1. It's not the same in season 2 because it's steve's son. Also, in season 2, Diana seems more world weary.
Definitely watch season 1 first! It's such a great way to escape from the humdrum of daily life. Of course, there are many silly, dated, nonbelievable, and campy aspects in all shows (including the theme song lyrics: "in your satin tights, fighting for our rights"), but that's part of the fun of watching Wonder Woman. Enjoy!

Studio: Warner Home Video
Lynda Carter

DVD title: Pulp Fiction
Productgroup: DVD
Pulp Fiction - movie DVD cover picture

Pulp Fiction is three compelling different stories which all slot into together to form one big one.One story revolves around Vincent (John Travolta) & Jules (Samuel L.Jackson) who are two deadly hit-men on a mission to retrieve a rather mysterious case.The second story on a boxer named Butch (Bruce Willis).And finally Pumpkin (Tim Roth) & Honey Bunny who rob licker stores and restaurants, these two are Bonnie + Clyde type characters.These three stories unbelievably fit perfectly with each other.
Wriiten & directed by the king of cool Quentin Tarantino, who needs no introduction.But I'll give you one anyway.In 1992 "Reservoir Dogs" burst upon cinema screens across the world; two years later his next film "Pulp Fiction" arrived, it won an award at the Cannes Film Festival; a new film-maker had well and truely been born.
This film is truely magnificient.It's so original, has a great soundtrack including "Son Of A Preacher Man", Dusty Springfield, Urge Overkill, The Revels and the list goes on.The dialogue is so cool and intriuging and they talk about absolutely...nothing.The characters talk about whatevers on their mind.The hit-men have an interesting conversation about hash bars, burgers ("You know what they call a Quarter-Pounder with cheese in Paris?") and foot massages!It's bizarre, but so unique dialogue.
The characters are so suprisingly real and Jackson, Travolta and Willis give out their best performances in ages.Sam Jackson steals every scene with his super cool and smart-(...) dialogue, who is a religious hit-man.One scene to watch out for is when Travolta & Jackson arrive at an appartment to retrieve the case, before Jackson kills one of the occupants he reads out a passage from the Bible, "Ezekiel 25:17."It's so violent and brutal, it's unbelievable.Another disturbing scene is a rape scene which is clearly taken from the film "Deliverance."It involves Bruce Willis' character and Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), this scene is dark, wild and very disturbing.There is also a "gimp" involved...enough said.You watch this scene in horror wondering how the film industry can show scenes like this.Not to mention the scene where Uma Thurman's character OD's on the floor.
There is one unforgetable scene which is where Uma Thurman's character Mia and Travolta dance at "Jack Rabbit Slims Twist Contest."Travolta who hasn't danced sine "Grease" delivers a superb performance and great dance moves along with the tune "You Never Can Tell" by Chuck Berry.
One thing that will bug you about the film is "what was in the case?"You never do really find out what was in the case,Quentin leaves you guessing, their is no real answer.Rumours suggest the diamonds from Resorvoir Dogs, Marcellus Wallace's soul.If you look closely at the back of his (Marcellus) neck you can see a rather nasty scar covered up with a bandage, this could be an incision where the Devil removed his soul?You never know.The only clues you get is a glow shining on Travolta's face and Tim Roth looking at it and saying "it's beautiful."I'll leave you to decide for yourself.
I can't tell you how damn good this film really is.I can tell you this though, no one will ever make a film like this again.You've got sex, violence, humour, a story, if you can put all of these elements in a film your a genius, and Tarantino did.

Studio: Miramax
Director: Quentin Tarantino
John Travolta
Samuel L. Jackson
Bruce Willis

DVD title: Mister Rogers' Neighborhood - Adventures in Friendship (with Toy)
Productgroup: DVD
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood - Adventures in Friendship (with Toy) - movie DVD cover picture
A heartwarming and emotionally uplifting classic program to share with young viewers

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: Adventures In Friendship presents two episodes of the widely beloved children's television show, which gently introduces young people to positive attitudes and respectful behaviors. Two full color, 30-minute episodes, "Friends" and "Love", teach young people about life. In "Friends", Henrietta Pussycat and X the Owl have trouble cooperating, until Lady Aberlin helps them work together and realize that friends should not be afraid of being upset with each other. In "Love", Lady Aberlin sees King Friday and Queen Sara have an argument, and learns that people who love each other can also have angry feelings sometimes. Extra features on the DVD include a teddy bear factory tour, a "making friends" read-along, three games, activities, a section about Fred Rogers, and much more. A heartwarming and emotionally uplifting classic program to share with young viewers, highly recommended. 58 minutes, color.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertain
Fred Rogers

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