Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Metropolis (Restored Authorized Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Metropolis (Restored Authorized Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Review of the Kino DVD

Released in 1927, amid the golden age of the silent film era, Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS is a stylistic tour-de-force that has remained influential for the rest of the century, inspiring films like 1931's FRANKENSTEIN as well as 1997's DARK CITY. With its imaginative set design, elaborate photography, bold editing, and its then groundbreaking special effects, this German silent classic exemplifies the highly inventive period of German Expressionism, which also include such film masterworks as THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, NOSFERATU, THE LAST LAUGH, and DIE NIBELUNGEN (which Lang made prior to METROPOLIS).
This Kino Region 1-only DVD offers an almost pristine-looking video transfer of the film. The untinted, black-and-white image is clean and sharp throughout, the result of a mostly manual frame-by-frame restoration started in 1998 by Germany's F.W. Murnau Foundation. The included jacket essay gives a brief account of its efforts, as well as the work of other restorationists in the past, notably Munich Filmmuseum and film historian Enno Patalas. The DVD supplements also include an excellent mini-documentary that explains some of the technical details in the restoration.
The film's running time on this DVD is 118 minutes (not 124 as printed on the case). It is shown at the speed of 24 frames per second, an unusual frame rate for a silent film. But according to F.W. Murnau Foundation, this was the projection speed used at the film's premiere in 1927. Some viewers may find the motion a bit too fast at times due to the high frame rate. But some believe this was director Fritz Lang's way to intensify some of the action. (For those who want to watch METROPOLIS at a slower speed, there is a PC DVD player called WinDVD 4.0, which lets you extend or shorten a DVD's running time without affecting the pitch of the audio.)
This DVD only has English intertitles (supported by French and Spanish subtitles). The style, typeface, and the occasional animation in the intertitles were all re-created according to the original film. The original score by Gottfried Huppertz was also "adapted" from its 153-minute original length to the current, shorter length. This is the first time I have a chance to listen to Huppertz's elaborately orchestrated score, and it sounds terrific.
This latest restoration, unfortunately, did not recover a lot of film footage that had been missing over the years. Major sequences that were lost, such as Maria's escape from Rotwang, are still lost. To make up for this, and to make the film's plot more coherent, new intertitles were inserted to summarize the story lines of the missing footage. These intertitles are frequently seen in this restored version, a constant reminder of the large amount (a quarter of the film) of lost footage.
I did a brief side-by-side comparison between the Kino DVD and a few old video versions, and discovered the DVD actually has "alternate scenes" that were utilized for this restoration. In other words, Lang apparently shot some of the scenes *twice* (probably for domestic theaters and abroad), resulting in two versions of a scene looking slightly different. For instance, in the running competition early in the film, the winner wins by a big margin in all older video versions that I had seen. But on the Kino DVD, the winner only wins by a hair.
The DVD's audio commentary by Enno Patalas is mild disappointment. As in the Kino DVD of THE BLUE ANGEL, the comments are too sparse and not too in-depth. And long stretches of silence are frequent. The commentary is largely analytical, and it points out some of the key themes and visual motifs of the film.
The other DVD supplements include an involving 45-minute documentary that covers the making of the film, the German Expressionist period, the "unmaking" of METROPOLIS by censors and Hollywood, and a few interview segments of Lang. The still gallery contains about 90 production photos and design sketches, including about 27 photos taken from missing scenes.

Studio: Kino International
Director: Fritz Lang
Alfred Abel
Brigitte Helm

DVD title: Snow White: A Tale of Terror
Productgroup: DVD
Snow White: A Tale of Terror - movie DVD cover picture
A New approach and it works!

Snow White as horror movie, it sounds preposterous, but in fact it is quite a good idea. Grimm's fairytales can get pretty gruesome too. The creators of this movie made something special of it. Sam Neill is a bit insipid as the father, but Sigourney Weaver as the stepmother plays one of her best parts ever and obviously enjoys being evil. The whole atmosphere of the movie is very gothic and it looks great. It may seems somewhat degrading for horror fans to watch a movie named Snow White, but as the posters say: The Fairy Tale is Over! It is, but what we get in return is a lot better. Personally I am not much of a horror fan, but in this case I could watch this movie time and again.

Studio: Usa Films
Director: Michael Cohn
Sigourney Weaver
Sam Neill

DVD title: School of Rock (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
School of Rock (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Sell my guitars? Would you ask Picasso to sell his guitars?

This was a script written for Jack Black... comic zaniness mixed with loads of classic head banging rock and roll. No doubt the hidden basis for this movie was so that Black could play his own music. Writer Mike White (Ned Schneebly in this film) nailed Jack Black (Dewey Finn) to a tee. The story follows Dewey shreading on a guitar solo (just a tad long and over done), and being exiled from the band the very next day. His roommate (Ned) and annoying girlfriend (Patty - played perfectly by Sarah Silverman) get on his case about responsibilities and paying the rent. Dewey receives a phone call at home one day (meant for Ned)... the high priced private elementary school needs a substitute teacher. Dewey acts as Ned - and the fun and musical fusion begin. This movie is a "toast to those who rock!" The main kids in the band, Zack-Freddy-Lawrence-Katie, are all accomplished musicians in their own right and were picked to play their roles for just this reason. Not to mention Joan Cusack was a great pick as Priniple Mullins. Musical tributes to AC/DC and Led Zeppelin abound. If you're a Jack Black fan, as well as a classic rock fan - I guarantee you will truly enjoy this film. Extras on this DVD include often funny commentaries with Black as well as the kids; a short pitch to Led Zeppelin for permission to use a song in the movie, trailers and a music video. Ever since Black was able to let loose in John Cusack's "High Fidelity"... I just look forward to everything he does. This is a great and upbeat movie for all audiences.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Richard Linklater
Jack Black
Mike White
Joan Cusack

DVD title: Dick Tracy
Productgroup: DVD
Dick Tracy - movie DVD cover picture

Just finished buying the DVD of "Dick Tracy" and I must say that I loved it even more than when I saw it in a theatre. The colors are truly striking and I absolutely loved Madonna's "Monroesque" performance. She was wonderful in this but then Beatty has assembled quite a cast (although you can hardly recognize them under all the latex). One minor quibble about the DVD is that there are no extras but the movie looks and sounds fantastic. I recommend it highly.

Studio: Touchstone Video
Director: Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty

DVD title: Jailhouse Rock
Productgroup: DVD
Jailhouse Rock - movie DVD cover picture
Elvis's Best James Dean

I had seen part of this movie, but not all of it until the other day. I can see why alot of people consider this Elvis's best role. The music is great and original, and Elvis is playing a surly, rebellious young man with attitude, and he gives a great performance. I have recently read a couple of books about James Dean, and have watched a program in the past year where Frank Mazzola ("Rebel without a Cause" cast member) said when Elvis hit it big and went out to Hollywood he asked Mazzola all about Dean, knew all the dialogue from "Rebel" etc. Watching Elvis in "Jailhouse Rock" I couldn't help but think of James Dean and how I bet Elvis loved playing that part since he idolized Dean who had died tragically in a car crash before Elvis became a big star.

Elvis was always known for being polite and well-mannered, but he plays a rude, big-headed punk very well in this film. He was in his prime - looked great, sounded great and did his best James Dean.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Richard Thorpe
Elvis Presley

DVD title: Sleepaway Camp
Productgroup: DVD
Sleepaway Camp - movie DVD cover picture
You must buy this movie now!

You've seen B horror movies? This is a C- horror movie, which is precisely what makes it so great. If you've got a teenager's sense of humor or enjoy such atrociously bad acting, bad dialogue, and bad filmmaking that you crack up, this is the movie for you. Don't hesitate--make the investment. "She's a real carpenter's DREAM..."

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Robert Hiltzik

DVD title: American Beauty
Productgroup: DVD
American Beauty - movie DVD cover picture
Great Film!

American Beauty is a wonderful film: great script, great direction, great acting, great soundtrack. It is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time, and perhaps my favorite movie ever. Everyone should see this movie!

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

DVD title: Gilmore Girls - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Gilmore Girls - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
really wonderful show

Gilmore girls is a really good focuses on the life of a mother and daughter and shows us the trials and tribulations that both of them go through.Both of them share an almost best friends relationship, however Rory knows where the line is and Lorali does not let her step over it either.The show brought me through many ups and downs as i followed the different things that each of them go through.It is really a wonderful show that might actually enhance a relationship between a mother and her child!

Studio: Warner Home Video
Lauren Graham

DVD title: The Doobie Brothers - Rockin Down the Highway: The Wildlife Concert
Productgroup: DVD
The Doobie Brothers - Rockin Down the Highway: The Wildlife Concert - movie DVD cover picture
Excellent Excellent Excellent!

These guys are in top form! Everything is fantastic! The sound is perfect! Just buy it!

Studio: Sony Music Entertain
Director: Ernie Fritz

DVD title: 10 Minute Solution Yoga
Productgroup: DVD
10 Minute Solution Yoga - movie DVD cover picture
Very challenging work out with excellent guidance!

I'm one of those people who is always on the run and looking for a quick moment in the day to burn some calories without getting overly exhausted... and this video hits the spot! I was a fan of the teacher (Lara Hudson) from her other video and this is an even better addition to my workout regimen. Her cueing is as strong as it was in the Pilates version of the 10 minute video series and once again, this is the kind of video that you do again and again and never get bored with. She continually shows you a slightly more advanced version to keep the work out challenging and the video fresh. As I travel quite a bit, this will be another great element to my "on the road and in the hotel" work out. Definitely a great fitness video with some excellent instruction.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertain
Lara Hudson

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