Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Solaris - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Solaris - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Review of the Criterion 2-disc DVD

A frequent theme in science fiction is that humans have become so dehumanized in their devotion to technology that they have lost touch of their emotional capacities. In SOLARIS, the 1972 film by the great Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, this theme is given an unusually personal and emotional treatment. It is about an unhappy man who travels to space and finds the emotional closure and the spiritual enlightenment that he lacked on Earth. It has often been compared to Stanley Kubrick's cryptic 1968 film 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. But while 2001 emphasizes the sterility and uncontrollability of science, SOLARIS deals mainly with the fragileness and preciousness of the human spirit. Unlike 2001, which ponders the vastness and infiniteness of space, Tarkovsky's film probes the opposite direction and reveals the inner dimensions of the human mind. The success of Tarkovsky's SOLARIS is that it offers a stark depiction of human emotions via the simplest and most austere means. Tarkovsky rarely uses fancy editing or elaborate camera angles, and prefers long takes and slow camera movements. Dialogs are softly spoken. He always chooses the least assuming way to present a scene. Such a style, of course, does not endear him to those who prefer a more dynamic and vibrant type of cinema. But one should note that perhaps the subtleties of human emotions demand subtler ways of filmmaking, which, in turn, demand our closer observations.
Criterion's all-region, 2-disc DVD version of SOLARIS offers a beautiful video transfer, the original Russian soundtrack in 1.0 mono, re-written optional English subtitles, and rewarding extra material. The anamorphic 2.35:1 video transfer was created from a 35mm positive made from the original negative. This is a newer, different transfer from the ones on previous DVD versions by other companies. Subtitles have also been re-written and, as is usually the case with Criterion DVDs, improved, with less paraphrasing and fewer untranslated dialogs compared to older video releases.
The first disc contains the 169-minute film in its entirety and a full-length audio commentary by two Tarkovsky experts, Vida Johnson and Graham Petrie. The scene-specific commentary provides good coverage of a variety of topics concerning the film, such as Tarkovsky's artistic style and thematic explorations, various contributions from the filmmakers, certain details about the making of the film, how the film deviates from the original novel by Stanislaw Lem, and aspects of Tarkovsky's personal life. But the strength of the commentary is its analyses of the film's characters, themes, and Tarkovsky's direction. And due to the length of the film, the commentators have ample time to allow sufficient elaboration on every thesis, making this audio track one of the more satisfying analytical commentaries I've heard. Major issues such as mortality, faith, and humanity, as well as minor observations regarding gestures, background noises, and other allusions are dealt with in great depth and competence. One fascinating comment regarding Tarkovsky's use of long takes is that it dilutes any sense of suspense that editing usually contributes, the result being a more immersive and meditative atmosphere.
The second disc contains almost half hour of deleted scenes and about 100 minutes of new interviews with the film's principals.
Most of the deleted scenes seem to conform to our expectations as to why scenes were deleted in a movie like this -- they are too explicit about things that are better left unexplained. The deleted opening sequence, for instance, is a didactic text prologue that is so out of character with the subtle approach of the rest of the movie. The deleted dream scene of Kris and his mother depicts their relationship more explicitly, thus lessening the dream-like quality of the scene. The most fascinating deleted scene is an expanded version of the scene of Kris in the "mirror room," in which the various reflections of the mirror reflect Kris' fragmented and fragile mental state.
The interview segments include a half-hour interview with Natalya Bondarchuk, who plays Hari. She recalls how she met Tarkovsky, how she was cast (with a little trickery on her part), her experiences on the set, analyzes the character of Hari, and praises the unique meditative style of Tarkovsky. In another half-hour interview, cinematographer Vadim Yusov talks about the many visual motifs in the film, how the special effect shots of Solaris were created, and even talks about his work on Tarkovsky's previous film ANDREI RUBLEV (a few clips also included). In a 17-minute interview segment, art director Mikhail Romadin discusses his various intentions in designing the sets for SOLARIS. Both Yusov and Romadin also mention Tarkovsky's strongly negative reaction to Kubrick's 2001 and Lem's insistence that the film should adhere to his book. Composer Eduard Artemyev, in his 20-minute interview segment, describes his background on electronic music that first attracted Tarkovsky, and recalls the challenges of translating Tarkovsky's unique demands into music.
Finally, there is disappointingly brief, 5-minute video clip of a Polish documentary about Lem and his struggle with Tarkovsky. The only thing relevant is Lem's only remark in the clip: "Finally I said [to Tarkovsky and his crew], 'You idiots!' I tried to soften him up a little. But he was stubborn, and so was I. So I ended up returning to Warsaw." There must be a lot more to the disagreement between the two men, but we get the picture. (I also posted an expanded version of this review at, under the account kevyip.)

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Natalya Bondarchuk
Donatas Banionis
Jüri Järvet

DVD title: Freeway
Productgroup: DVD
Freeway - movie DVD cover picture
one of the weirdest films ever!

freeway it wicked!Reese Witherspoon is fab as the bad girl why doesnt she do more roles like this anymore she is wasting her talent.The film is very cool its sacry funny stupid and fab i recommend thisto anyperson interested in seeing reese witherspoon actually playing an interesting role.

Studio: Republic Studios
Director: Matthew Bright
Kiefer Sutherland
Reese Witherspoon

DVD title: Drive Me Crazy
Productgroup: DVD
Drive Me Crazy - movie DVD cover picture


Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: John Schultz
Melissa Joan Hart
Adrian Grenier

DVD title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Second Season
Productgroup: DVD
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Second Season - movie DVD cover picture

After gaining some fame during the twelve-episode run of the first season, "BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER" was given a full twenty-two episode comeback for season two. Many fans consider the show's second season to be its best, and there are definitely some great episodes here.

Beginning a year after the end of the first season, "When She Was Bad" is a surprisingly poor effort from the genius behind the show, Joss Whedon. The following episode, "Some Assembly Required", isn't much better. But at the third season, the series begins picking up. I'm talking about "School Hard", which introduced the characters of Drusilla and Spike, the ever-so-awesome badass vampire who would play a pivotal role later on in the series. Seth Green joins the cast of the show in "Inca Mummy Girl", as Oz, who takes an interest in Willow (Alyson Hannigan). Other great episodes include "Halloween", "Lie to Me", "The Dark Age", and "What's My Line (Parts 1 & 2)". John Ritter guest stars in "Ted".

The most important part of season two is Angel's (David Boreanaz) transformation from the kind and protective Angel to the murderous, sadistic killer Angelus. You see, Angel was cursed by gypsies who restored his soul - however, if he experiences one moment of true happiness, he'll revert back to his less-nice form. He experiences that moment in an unbelievable cliffhanger at the end of "Surprise". As he mentally tortures Buffy and threatens her friends, Buffy tries to work up the courage to kill once and for all her former lover.

The season ends with "Becoming Part 2" which, in my opinion as well as that of countless others, is the best episode of the entire show. The ending is so heartbraking and depressing that you can't help but shed a tear.

Sporting great performances from the cast - especially Sarah Michelle Gellar, who deserves a box full of Emmys - as well as creative and endlessly surprising writing, the second season of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is supreme entertainment, television at its finest. When you find a show that will keep your heart racing throughout the entire season and then leave you dying for more, you know there's something great here.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Joss Whedon
Seth Green
Charisma Carpenter
Sarah Michelle Gellar
David Boreanaz

DVD title: Belle of the Nineties
Productgroup: DVD
Belle of the Nineties - movie DVD cover picture
Belle of the Nighties

One of Mae's five best films. Yes, the movie's original script was censored, but indications are that the original was much racier than even her early films (as one might expect given the production title IT AIN'T NO SIN) so it's not really any tamer than her first three films and Mae has several of her best lines, my favorite is "I'm in town - but not for good." The song numbers are the best Mae ever did in the movies. The movie also offers a rare look at "tableaux", the odd stage art popular in the 19th century of simply posing on the stage which climaxes with Mae posing as the Statue of Liberty, or as George Jean Nathan put it, The Statue of Libido.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Leo McCarey
Mae West
Roger Pryor

DVD title: Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (2-Disc Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (2-Disc Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Some people talk rubbish.

I just can't understand people complaining about this Film.
Theres one thing I want to point out - I've read more than once that it has major 'Flaws' in it and things that don't make sense. Please someone tell me what because I see nothing? I think the problem is most people don't get why Jack Sparrow isn't a skeleton the entire way through, which means they can't have been watching it close enough when he picks up a coin half way through which turns him into one. Its not hard to figure when you think that hes going to fight Barbosa in a moment and doesn't want to die.
Aside from the people who don't get it, I think its a great Film and I can't find anything wrong with it. People speaking badly about the 'English' woman in it annoys me like mad, I think Keira Knightley is better than ANY Hollywood Actress, shes got a natural charm about her and is stunning. I think she played the English rose portrayal beautifully. I think Orlando Bloom has improved and gone from strength to strength and as for Johnny Depp -
I'm going to give him an entire paragraph. I think Johnny Depp made Jack Sparrow his own character, he completely got into it and its believable. To the people wondering what was going on and why he acted that way - Heres why. He always been different and this is his way of breaking away from what could have been a boring stereotypical Pirate. I think that the quirky style hes chosen is great, its a bit daring and slightly naughty but isn't that what Johnny Depp is so great at doing?
Fantastic Film, its just fantastic and I can't say a bad thing about it.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Gore Verbinski
Johnny Depp
Geoffrey Rush
Orlando Bloom
Keira Knightley
Jonathan Pryce

DVD title: Classic Albums - The Band: The Band
Productgroup: DVD
Classic Albums - The Band: The Band - movie DVD cover picture
A Joyful Little DVD

As a fan of the group, I decided to take a chance on this DVD though I knew nothing about it. It very easily could have been a dud, but it turned out to be something very special. The surviving members of the group actually participated in this documentary, and they show a lot of pride and a lot of affection for their days together, and for the music they made.
Just watch Levon listening back to "Rocking Chair," his eyes closed, delighted at the sound of Richard Manuel's voice, basking in the joy of what The Band created together so many years ago. He still retains that modest, down-home quality that is so endearing.
Then there's "Brother Garth." Band fans will find this DVD worth the purchase price just to see Garth improvising at the keyboard, displaying just what a lovable crazed-genius he really is.
And then there is plenty of Robbie Robertson, giving some very insightful information about The Band's writing and recording processes. Like Levon, Robbie just can't contain the thrill he obviously feels listening back to the original multitracks from the album.
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Robbie ever "reunited" with the others for this program, even if just to listen to the tracks together. The interviews are all done separately. But that's not really a complaint, just an observation.
Anyone who is a fan of The Band, and anyone who has a genuine interest in the creative process and in making music, will certainly love this DVD. I'm a picky guy, but I gave this the highest rating I could.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Bob Smeaton

DVD title: Jerry Seinfeld Live on Broadway: I'm Telling You for the Last Time
Productgroup: DVD
Jerry Seinfeld Live on Broadway: I'm Telling You for the Last Time - movie DVD cover picture
Very funny, worth the $10

I just recently saw Jerry live in march of 2005. And then i watched this dvd today in april. I thought both were very good. I thought he was more enthusiastic about being there recently in 2005. He just seemed happier to be on stage than he did in 1998. None the less this dvd from back in 1998 was very funny. He still talked about very funny things and it still made me laugh a lot.

The material on the dvd was very funny one of my favorite chapters related to was a short chapter but very funny. anouther favorite involved doctors and stuff related to that.

The intro to the dvd was very cheezy but at the same time pretty funny.

I still rated this 5 stars because it made me laugh a lot even though it seemed as if he was going through the motions and was a little burned out in 1998 right after the show and all.

The Q and A section of the dvd is also very funny even though it is only under 5 minutes. it showed that he could have a great comback for almost anything.

All and all i would reccomend this dvd to anyone that was a fan of the show or just a fan of jerry. I would not let this substitue seeing him live because when i saw him a month ago it was all new material and he just seemed more enthusiastic about everything because he does not do it as much anymore.

The bottom line is that the $10 is worth the price of watching this dvd and it is one i will watch again in the future.

Studio: Hbo Studios
Director: Marty Callner

DVD title: Inspector Gadget
Productgroup: DVD
Inspector Gadget - movie DVD cover picture
My Son Loves This Movie

Yes, this is on the silly side and cliched for an adult, but why must everything be deep? It is worth viewing and having for unwinding. The subtle adult zingers that were thrown in were pleasant. Watch this movie on those nights when you'd just like to crash and pull yourself out of the muck of Life's pressures without any effort on your part.
As for children, I am a mother who deems it very important to help my child distinguish between what is possible versus impossible. I do this because I am terrified of the feats he may feel like immitating. Also, at his age, he is incapable of determining on his own that certain ideas put forth by videos simply cannot happen. I hate to have him suffer 3 AM nightmares that are avoidable.
An adult would not see this movie as scary, but I am glad I sat through it (and enjoyed it) so I could explain that detached feet cannot move on their own, and that people do not have legs that extend. No, people really can't make and attach body parts like this, but isn't it funny to think about what would happen if they could? Isn't fun that we can watch something so silly together? Once he understood the intent of the humor behind the movie, I lost count of the times he viewed it on his own and howled.
I won't watch this the countless times that my son did, but I did see it more than three or four times because of his enthusiasm. It held its cute-and-light theme even with repeated viewing.

Studio: Disney Studios
Director: David Kellogg
Matthew Broderick
Rupert Everett
Joely Fisher

DVD title: The Haunting
Productgroup: DVD
The Haunting - movie DVD cover picture
Best sounding DVD of all time!

WOW! Is all I can say. I can honestly say that I agree with every comment that has already been said about this. This *IS* in fact one of the worst movies ever made, *BUT* you have *NEVER* heard one like this before. If you are going to rent or buy it, don't waste your time with the Dolby Digital version. Get the DTS version. It has SOOOOOOOOOOOO much bass, you need 4 subs, just to do it justice! The chapters that come to mind are 16 & 17, there is so much bass in those, you could easily destroy any sub that is not equiped to handle it. It may be the worst movie of all time, but it is certainly worth buying, just for the sound!

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Jan de Bont
Lili Taylor
Liam Neeson
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Owen Wilson

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