Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Ralph's World - Say Hello!
Productgroup: DVD
Ralph's World - Say Hello! - movie DVD cover picture
Ralph Saves the Day!

We have 1 year old twin boys and that means a lot fun, but a lot of crying and fighting at bed time and splitting headaches for dad. Since we received the Ralph's World DVD as a gift from a friend (who felt sorry for us), we pop it in and the boys stop crying and fighting (most of the time). They love to dance and jump around to the catchy tunes. I'm happy because it keeps them happy and it is music I enjoy too. It is a nice change from years ago with our oldest son, when we would throw in a Barney tape and I would have to leave the room.

Studio: Wea Corp

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

A beautiful and poignant film, even more relevant now than when released. This should be required viewing for US citizens lest they think that civil liberties are expendable. When our inept politicians claim to know who arethe superior persons, and with the scientific advances in genetic research, this may not be science fiction after all.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Andrew Niccol
Ethan Hawke
Uma Thurman
Jude Law

DVD title: Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Mitchell
Productgroup: DVD
Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Mitchell - movie DVD cover picture
"My my my my my MY GOD!!!!!"

Let's be honest: most of us have already seen/loved/memorized this classic but for those just getting started with the Best Brains oeuvre this is the one to start with. I'd love to know who greenlighted the original Mitchell production, because this is truly one awful movie. Joe Don Baker, Linda Evans, John Saxon, and Merlin Olsen must have had some contractual obligations... Murder, drugs, some sloppy lovin', and the slowest car chase in the world make this the ultimate cheesefest.
Sad that this was Joel's last episode, but they send him off with grace and dignity in a wonderful mock-up of "2001: A Space Odyssey" as well as a nod to traditional Greek theatre. Joel and the 'bots do some of their best work with the material, and several viewings are needed just to keep up with the zingers that get by. In fact, almost every barb they come up with ranks as classic MST3K fare. Enjoy this film tonight with Johnny Mathis and a quart of your cheapest scotch.
Lest I repeat myself, all that can be said is: genius.

Studio: Rhino Video
Director: Andrew V. McLaglen

DVD title: The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
New Zealand has never been a better place to live.

If overseas audiences were excited over Lord of the Rings, you should have seen us New Zealanders. We were pretty much dancing in the streets when we weren't flocking to the movie theatres. There's no more 'New Zealand is such a boring place to live', we're now the most patriotic we've ever been since World War Two, as we ring out in praise of Peter Jackson and co.And we have good reason to, as everyone everywhere seems to love/adore/worship this movie. Now everyone's heading back to the theatres to see the 5-10 minute preview of The Two Towers, and Peter Jackson's promised us that either the Two Towers, or Return of the King will be premiered right here in NZ.Well I'll say what everyone else's been saying - great story, fantasic cast, wonderful costumes, incredible set design, awe-inspiring landscape, and WOW special effects. In everyone's opinions we didn't nearly pick up enough Oscars, especially in the catagories for screenplay and costume - (we had little old ladies knitting chain mail for goodness sake!) but there's two more to come, so we'll just hold out for them.We've gone from the country that was the home of sheep to a place where we can look to the horizon and say - "Look! There's Mount Caradhras!" If you want to see it for yourself, come on over - we've never been in a better moood!

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Peter Jackson
Ian McKellen

DVD title: Latter Days (Unrated Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Latter Days (Unrated Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

While I was displeased with the book, the movie delivers more in a more compassionate manner. Unlike the book,when the characters are "fleshed out" in the movie, one is capable of relating to them. A nice date movie.

Studio: TLA Releasing
Director: C. Jay Cox
Steve Sandvoss
Wes Ramsey
Amber Benson
Jacqueline Bisset
Mary Kay Place

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

Riding a crowded bus packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder in scorching heat a detective suddenly notices his pistol is missing. As the bus pulls to a stop he notices someone hurriedly get off and there begins a chase that lasts the entire movie. Kurosawa examines the mindset of desperate men. The criminals are desperate for a variety of reasons and the detective too is a desperate man because he soon learns that it his pistol that is being used to commit crimes which he feels personally responsible for. The incident proves to be the beginning of the young detectives education. The relationship that develops between this younger detective and the older wiser detective is fascinating taking Kurosawas samurai theme of old masters and young warriors and placing it in a modern setting. The older detective teaches the younger one that despite ones own self interest there is a code to respect. But he also learns much from his own field work. The young detective in desperation to retrieve the lost pistol goes undercover posing as an ex soldier down on his luck in an attempt to penetrate the blackmarket for stolen guns. These are some of the most interesting scenes of the picture as they are ripe with social commentary as the detective becomes one of the lowest of the low to catch his thief. The detectives tour of Tokyos criminal underworld is unforgettable and it is there that Kurosawas irony works best for the young detective acts as selfishly and recklessly and desperately as the criminals themselves. The film appeals on many levels. As enjoyable as any Hitchcock or Carrol Reed(Third Man) film. In fact the film reminded me of those English directors in its pacing and look and moments of comic relief. Its a one of a kind classic, a study of different kinds of desperation, with nods to Hollywood but made especially appealing by being shot on location on the cluttered streets of impoverished post war Tokyo. Complex major and minor characters throughout with complex motivations plus that always present eye on the biggest social themes which transcend nationality keep this riveting and interesting all the way through. As entertaining and atmospheric as any classic noir but with much more substance and humanity in it than most noirs have. A smart genre picture by one of the greatest directors ever.

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

DVD title: The Dancer Upstairs
Productgroup: DVD
The Dancer Upstairs - movie DVD cover picture
Malkovich is a dancer, too

This an understated film that has been underestimated by the critics (and by reviewers here). Americans just don't like understated films with a slower pace. And once this film emerges from the shadow of its director's public persona, it will be seen for what it is--extraordinary. I was completely taken aback by this film because it was not at all what I expected from John Malkovich. This is a gentle film about the human capacity for perversity (the film prefers "corruption"); the contrast between the gentleness of the tone and the violence of the acts cannot be unintentional.

Then, too, the terrorists are mistaken for "normal" people and so we see them as normal people before we see them as terrorists. Malkovitch has taken on one of the most sacred of American film conventions: the bad guys wear black hats so the audience can identify them and they are all bad all the time so the audience knows who to hate. Americans never want to admit we take an extremely realisitic art medium and impose upon it completely unrealistic story conventions. The eye is fooled and the mind blinded.

Wouldn't life be grand if the terrorists wore black hats so we could identify them? We'd know just who to blame for everything.

But what if individual terrorists are made by governmental terrorism? Isn't it significant that most of the 911 terrorists are Saudis?

I expected a ironic, sarcastic, "hipper than thou" annoyance but I saw a genuine, even romantic (gasp), film which moved me to tears.

And then I realized that it John Malkovich's performance that was the heart of "Dangerous Liaisons," not Glenn Close's or Michelle Pfeiffer's. Ahhhhh . . .

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: John Malkovich
Javier Bardem
Juan Diego Botto
Laura Morante

DVD title: The Monday Night War - WWE Raw vs. WCW Nitro
Productgroup: DVD
The Monday Night War - WWE Raw vs. WCW Nitro - movie DVD cover picture
A must own for wrestling fans

Thank god they are starting to actually use the WCW library. Now while I agree with the rest by saying it should have been a 2/3 disc edition...but I'm not really going to complain. This is an extremely interesting documentary about the WCW/WWE monday night wars from 96-2001. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the monday night wars but after watching this there are things that I didn't even know. I highly reccomend this, even if you think you know everything there is to know because it's extremely entertaining and you'll walk away with a different outlook at the whole situation. After all the things Bischoff did, you can actually feel the fear in the voice of the announcers of the last Nitro. A great DVD about a great period in sports entertainment!

Studio: Sony Music (Video)
Vince McMahon
Eric Bischoff

DVD title: Step Into Liquid
Productgroup: DVD
Step Into Liquid - movie DVD cover picture
Warms you up on a cold winter's night

My wife and I are skate skiers living near Tahoe and this was the perfect movie for a Saturday night in January after a day out playing in the snow. The surfers' enthusiasm for their sport is infectious. You can't help being stoked yourself when you watch the Wisconsin crew getting it done on Lake Michigan's waves, or seeing the Malloy brothers unite Protestant and Catholic kids with surfing lessons in Ireland.

The only thing lacking is a discussion of the severe localism that plagues certain beach communities and is inconsistent with the surfing happy face presented here.

But that's nitpicking....surfing movies are meant to be fun and transporting. We loved Endless Summer II, smiled and "wowed" our way through SIL (great to see "Wingnut" from ES II back in this one), and highly recommend Riding Giants.

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Director: Dana Brown (II)
Laird John Hamilton
Layne Beachley
Dan Malloy (II)

DVD title: Airplane!
Productgroup: DVD
Airplane! - movie DVD cover picture
There's always more to say

Airplane! is one of those movies that can never be described properly in a single review. What we have here is one seriously deranged comedy, and though most of the jokes are cheap laughs, some show tremendous subtlety and depth. The running "What is it?" joke is an ingeniously funny play on words, and Ted's "drinking problem" (splash!) is something most of us would never have imagined. A lot of the jokes work together or are seen more than once; others appear briefly but in rapid fire, so there's never a dull moment. But there are subtler jokes as well: Every time you see a shot of the jet in flight, you hear the sound of a propeller. Even the little things were attended to.
As for the performances... well, Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges really pack in the laughs with their dead-serious attitudes amid the chaos, their characters never realizing they're as goofy as everyone else around them.
In a lot of ways what's kept Airplane! great is that later comedies didn't know how to pack in the laughs. This movie stuffed between the jokes with puns and sight gags that are more endearing than the jokes themselves. And nothing makes better spoof material than an overserious '70s disaster flick.
The features on the DVD are a little disappointing; I at least would have hoped to see deleted scenes like the "Hijack" scene that appears only when the film is on TV. (I understand Airplane 2: The Sequel has a similar lack of features, which is unfortunate since my favorite scene in that movie is one of those deleted scenes only shown on television.) Still, it's a truly classic film and well worth owning.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Robert Hays
Julie Hagerty
Leslie Nielsen

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