Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Merlefest Live: 15th Anniversary Jam
Productgroup: DVD
Merlefest Live: 15th Anniversary Jam - movie DVD cover picture
Quite a bit of music

When I picked this up I didn't have any doubts as to whether I'd like it; as a longtime Doc and Merle Watson fan, I knew about Merlefest and the musical standards to which it would hold itself, particularly for a DVD release. But, probably for that reason (I saw it and bought it and went home and watched it as quickly as I could), I didn't notice how much music was it contained: there are 27 songs, a couple of which are medleys.
There's no arguing with Doc Watson. At the time of this recording Mr. Watson had to be about 81 years old. Although these days he is outshined by a few of the youngsters with whom he shares the stage (at least in terms of blow-you-out-of-the-water speed), it's impossible to mistake the admiration in their faces, as Doc is a living legend, and was, no doubt, a huge influence when they were learning to play.
Which is not to say that he's lost it. At his advanced age, some deterioration is impossible to avoid, but that he has maintained such control of his voice is remarkable, and you will notice when he takes a solo. Doc himself would, I'm sure, humbly admit that there are plenty of faster players than him, especially these days, and that people have been building on his innovations.
I know I have no right to complain with so many virtuosic mandolin players, but it would have been nice to see David Grisman show up for a couple numbers, especially since Jack Lawrence, who also appears on the album Doc & Dawg, was in attendance, and since "Summertime" with Richard Watson was - at least for me - such a disappointment here.
I have to say, I've never been impressed with Richard Watson's guitar playing. It strikes me as tasteless, distracting, banal, and without feel.

Studio: Music Video Distribu
Doc & Friends Watson

DVD title: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Productgroup: DVD
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir - movie DVD cover picture
No Nightmares Here

One of the best and most unusually romances to come out of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Joseph L. Mankiewicz couldn't have gotten better performances out of Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. Harrison is properly gruff and salty as the dead sea captain, and Tierney is absolutely charming as the young widow he haunts. The chemistry and genuine affection that Mrs. Muir and Captain Greg have for each other is most touching. Wonderful support from George Sanders (the cad), and the adorable Natalie Wood. The black and white cinemotography, combined with the wonderful Bernard Herrmann score makes this film all the more enjoyable with each viewing.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Gene Tierney
Rex Harrison

DVD title: Superman II
Productgroup: DVD
Superman II - movie DVD cover picture
Rarely do sequels surpass the original, this one does!

I thought Superman I was a terrific movie. I hesitated to go to the sequel because rarely do sequels match up to the original. This is one where the sequel was better than the original.
From the terrific beginning where Superman rescues Lois Lane and the city of Paris from terrorists to the epic battle between Superman and the three villians in Metropolis which then continues to Supermans Fortress of Solitude, Superman II is nonstop action.
Superman giving up his powers to marry Lois Lane and the romantic scenes in the Fortress of Solitude were a nice touch. Lois Lane tempting Clark Kent to reveal his identity as Superman by jumping off Niagra Falls was hilarious as Kent acts so clumbsy, rescues Lane without revealing his identity (yet).
The prisoners whistling Mozart's tune as Superman returns his nemisis Lex Luther back to prison was equally funny. To appreciate this, you have to see the movie.
Superman I was a fantastic movie but Superman II was even better. If you are a suyperhero fan, then I highly recommend both.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Gene Hackman
Christopher Reeve
Margot Kidder

DVD title: American Beauty
Productgroup: DVD
American Beauty - movie DVD cover picture

One of the best movies of all time, in my opinion. This movie shows two typical (dysfunctional) and average families each with their own troubles and triumphs. The movie comes to a very well written climax with an interesting twist ending. A must see if you haven't already.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Sam Mendes
Kevin Spacey
Annette Bening

DVD title: Mozart - Cosi Fan Tutte / Gardiner, Roocroft, Gilfry, English Baroque Soloists
Productgroup: DVD
Mozart - Cosi Fan Tutte / Gardiner, Roocroft, Gilfry, English Baroque Soloists - movie DVD cover picture
Nitpicking doesnt change the fact...

that this is the best overall COSI on the market. Cosi is very much ensemble and this dvd is filmed that way. Those who want alot of closeups and editing may find this disappointing. I liked the filming scheme of this dvd because it was written and composed specifically as an opera of relationships, and viewing the reactions of those characters not necessarily singing at the moment is important. The denouement of this version of the opera is peerless in dvd format.The quality and matching of voices is also unmatched on any other current dvds of this opera. Trost & Roocroft are consistently excellent and the orchestra is dead on. I have viewed every COSI dvd offered online, and it is my sincere opinion that this version is the best overall. Try it!

Studio: Universal Music & VI
Director: Peter Mumford

DVD title: Life Is Beautiful
Productgroup: DVD
Life Is Beautiful - movie DVD cover picture
Worth the 90 minutes...and more

I say "Life is Beautiful" in seminars and classes (during introduction) when asked what is my favorite movie. This is without any doubt the best movie I have seen. I saw this movie 18 months ago when my daughter was just born. It influenced the kind of parent I became. I believe I would have been a different kind of father if I hadn't seen this movie.
Roberto Beningni is probably the only film maker who can make you laugh with tears in your eyes. He has portrayed the atrocities of the Holocaust very well without a single violent scene.
A must see !!

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

DVD title: The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D
Productgroup: DVD
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D - movie DVD cover picture
loser is josh-t this movie rocks!

I thought this was an excellent children's film, harkening back to the days of The Phantom Tollbooth, The Pagemaster, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and Neverending Story. It combines entertaining action with real moral lessons (that are not preachy or political): you can only make your dreams a reality if you work hard to make them true; those who have had their dreams smashed will seek to smash others' dreams; you cannot escape fear because it exists in your mind; do not dream selfish dreams when the world needs you to make it a better place; and unfinished, unrealized dreams will die inside your mind. Certainly, the characters were somewhat flat, but name a children's film in which they are not. At least this film is smart and fun. It mostly takes place literally in the main character's dream world, a dark 3-D universe where things are changing and he must strive to set things right. The combination of self-sacrifice, maturity, and valiance saves the day and even characters in the real world learn important lessons.

Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cayden Boyd
George Lopez
David Arquette
Kristin Davis

DVD title: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Productgroup: DVD
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - movie DVD cover picture
An Epic Adventure

If I had to sum-up this movie in one word, I couldn't do it. I'd be lost as to which word to even begin to consider using. 'Amazing', 'Extraordinary', and 'Breath-taking' come to mind, but they don't seem to do it justice.
The story is about a mis-shapen young man named Quasimodo (literally meaning "half-formed") and his search for acceptance and love. He finds it with another outcast, the gyspy Esmerelda. Unfortunatley Esmerelda, though she cares for Quasi, is in love with the captain of the king's army, Phoebus. And just when you thought it couldn't get worse, you find out the villain (and Quasimodo's master) loves her, too. Torn by his lustful feelings, he proclaims in a haunting song that if he cannot have her, no one can, and he vows to have her burn in hell.
Which brings us to the music. Wow. Just wow. The music is so incredible, it's almost a scandal that it didn't even get nominated for an Oscar. The opening song ("The Bells of Notre Dame") is a masterpiece in itself. Capped off with Latin chanting that gives the songs deeper meaning than one would really pick up on, it really does give you chills. "God Help the Outcasts" is a beautiful song in which Esmerelda gives a heart-felt prayer to God to help the outcasts in society. Many people view "A Guy Like You" as being just plain bad, but it's really a wonderful set up for a moment in the movie. And then there's "Hellfire". Such a song Disney has never had nor will ever have again.
And the visuals are stunning. You forget that its an animated movie as the gorgeous backdrops of medieval Paris and the gothic architecture of Notre Dame pull you into the story.
To conclude, this movie is, and always will be, a Disney classic. What I can't understand is why so many feel that it's inappropriate for children. Of course it's disturbing at parts (I've found that many kids were upset when Quasimodo is tortured at a public festival), but these are the kinds of things that help kids develop strong morals and good values early on, showing them that's important to be accepting of all people, showing them that it's the beauty inside that counts more than the outside.

Studio: Disney Studios
Demi Moore

DVD title: Peter Pan (Limited Issue)
Productgroup: DVD
Peter Pan (Limited Issue) - movie DVD cover picture
I love this movie!

This movie is absolutely one of the best Disney movies! I love this movie so much I used to tell everyone my name was Wendy! A few years back when this came to DVD I wasn't aware of it and I didn't buy it until a few years later on in the new and used part! When you order through that you have to be CAREFUL with whom you choose to deal with because when I purchased the movie I received a bootleg version. It looked normal until I opened the case and it was a fake because of the material used on the DVD. I compaired the DVD with my other Disney DVD's and it was not the same. I spent over $25 on a copy! That really made me mad. If you order from here be aware! There are so many liars out there! I learned my lesson to ask questions if you have any and if they seem suspicious don't buy from them. Thanks I hoped I helped you! But truly this is a wonderful movie for all ages!

Studio: Disney Studios
Bobby Driscoll
Kathryn Beaumont
Hans Conried

DVD title: Matchstick Men (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Matchstick Men (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
The Other Side Of Ridley Scott.

After directing some of the best Hollywood blockbusters, Gladiator and Blackhawk Down, and having few flops along the way, G.I Jane, and Black Rain, Ridley Scott returns with Matchstick Men to a more intelligent, and much gentler character based movie making,the type of which he has excelled in Thelma and Louise. I had no expectations about Matchstick Men, and while yet another 'con' movie would not have been a reason to watch it, the names Scott and Cage certainly compelled me to 'check it out' and I am so glad I did, because I can confidently say it is one of the best movies I have seen in the last two years, a film that I liken to a fine glass of wine, taken in few sips, and the after effects will be totally relaxing, and soothing.The film while at the first glance does not seem to offer a lot, will grow on you unexpectedly and you'll carry it with you long after the credits roll.And this is because of a fine collaborative effort from an excellent book by Eric Garcia, brilliant screenplay by Nicholas Griffin, a totally involved and sympathetic direction by Scott, and of course a mind blowing acting by Nick Cage, who yet again after Adaptation proves that he is more than capable of pulling off some of the most complex characters in cinema.Alison Lohman too proved more than capable of playing her equally complex character, an actress that has matured very well on screen. The story of Matchstick Men seems simple enough, a phobic and neurotic Cage with a partner (Sam Rockwell) are small time con artists, who make their living by swindling housewives and lonely gullible men. His carefully constructed world though will soon collapse with the reappearance of a long lost daughter,who will force him to break the wall he has built around himself, brick by difficult brick,and face emotions and intimacies he thought he was unable to have.He goes through great personal turmoil in reestablishing his relationship with his 'daughter' who is interested in learning the trick of her dad's trade, while striving in the process to go straight.However, one last big con seems to ruin every hope or plan he had for his and his daughter's future. Simple enough, until the twist at the end when the final truth is revealed,which came as a complete shock to me!I loved how the change in Cage came about,how the neurosis which haunted his every move behavior and thought, were slowly undone one by one ,until he finally finds the peace of mind he so longed for.The cons in my opinion are really trivial to the whole film and do not matter as much as Cage's transformation and realizations.At the end , it did not matter to me who that daughter really was, because she was able directly and indirectly to give Cage the break that he needed to change his life.The ending was so serene and almost spiritual yet is one of the most powerful scenes I have seen in a while, because it says so much with so little language or explanations.Matchstick Men therefore is a must see movie, one that will gently affect you by its top acting, writing and a director who can dazzle viewers with big productions but can also engage their minds and hearts with the simplest but most creative style.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Ridley Scott
Nicolas Cage
Sam Rockwell
Alison Lohman

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