Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Brian Wilson presents SMiLE
Productgroup: DVD
Brian Wilson presents SMiLE - movie DVD cover picture
SMiLe Continues Its Triumph

I have the SMiLE CD and saw it performed live. Each was moving, and this terrific set is as well. The thing that struck me about the live show was how perfectly "Good Vibrations" (not my favorite song) ends the 3rd movement and SMiLE. This is evident here as well, as you can see the audience being stunned by the beauty (especially at the England premier, shown on the "Beautiful Dreamer" disk) as the show ends
This DVD also shows how well Brian plays the piano (albeit not in concert!) You can see how the music continues to dominate his life.
Finally, Brian's voice in the live set is letter perfect, even better than the original CD. Don't know if ProTools helped or not, but his singing is better than it has been in years.

Studio: Rhino Video
Director: David Leaf

DVD title: U.S. Marshals (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
U.S. Marshals (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
This is a GREAT movie!!!!

U.S. Marshals is on my top 10 favorite movie list at number 2!! Its not my all time favorite movie but its pretty close!! I saw this movie for the first time in the theatre with four of my other friends the first day it came out!! And i loved it!! So whoever hasnt seen this movie yet go and get it!!!

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Stuart Baird
Tommy Lee Jones
Wesley Snipes
Robert Downey Jr.

DVD title: The Simpsons - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
The Simpsons - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture

I think it is really cool. My boyfriend is really in to them. I think as the shows keep coming out on DVD I will have a great Christmas and Birthday and other gift buying day to buy him them. Thank you for finaly bringing them out on DVD, now I can stop watching them on our messed up movie tape!

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Dan Castellaneta

DVD title: Kylie Minogue - Live in Sydney
Productgroup: DVD
Kylie Minogue - Live in Sydney - movie DVD cover picture
Kylie = Anti-Diva

What can i say? This concert is beautiful and makes me happy, if you are not sure if you think you like Kylie, please watch this dvd, Kylie shows how much she loves us(her fans) as much as we love her, with all these divas out there, Kylie is a breath of fresh air,,, So lovely is Miss Kylie, the concert has such a mixture of energy and beauty with some scenes quiet and soothing, then bam its TOO WONG FOO meets PRISCILLA,QUEEN OF THE DESERT......Kylie is such a smart business woman, she has kept her career slow and steady, while others have faded away (Madonna(still have hopes for a return),Britney) Kylie's star still shines and will burn bright for all eternity!

Studio: Wea Corp
Kylie Minogue

DVD title: Kiss Me Goodbye
Productgroup: DVD
Kiss Me Goodbye - movie DVD cover picture
The most romantic movie.

This was such a wonderful example of Sally Field's acting abillity.Pairing her up with James Cann and Jeff Bridges was a brillent idea. The best movie I've seen in a long time.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Robert Mulligan
Sally Field
James Caan

DVD title: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Criterion Collection (2-Disc Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Criterion Collection (2-Disc Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Revelations Come With Faith

This review is not for those who thought that The Life Aquatic was "boring, fake or stupid." You have been dealt with sufficiently by other reviewers. This review is for those Wes Anderson fans who "loved Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums," but "just didn't quite get this one." For those who thought that it fell flat.

All I have to say is if you have a little faith and give Wes Anderson some credit, in time, with multiple viewings you will come to beautiful revelations. This movie is just as good as his previous work, if not better. I am tempted to call it a triumph.

The man has clearly shown us, from Bottle Rocket to Royal Tenenbaums that if he wants to he can depict multi-dimensional characters and intricate character relationships. He can masterfully evoke bittersweet tears, subtle grins and deep belly laughs, so why, now, would he have suddenly lost his ability to do so? Why don't we ever really get a feel for any of the characters even though some are certified Wes Anderson vets? Why is the ship cut-away like the set of a play or a picture in a book? Why is Bill Murray playing damn near the exact same character as Royal Tenenbaum and Herman Blume, who he even played in Rushmore? Why isn't that mustache on Owen Wilson's face quite believable?

These are not mistakes. Did you watch the special features on the Royal Tenenbaums DVD where he talks about how much time went into the paintings on the bedroom wall which only barely show up in the background of a three second shot? Wes Anderson does not make mistakes, especially not ones as big as having flat characters.

My theory is that coming off of years of cult achievement followed by rapid mainstream success, Wes Anderson could not make another film like Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums. It was done. He had done it. So what could he possibly give the public- a now varied assortment of old school cult fans and more recent admirers? I believe that through The Life Aquatic, Wes Anderson was attempting to make a Wes Anderson movie. As usual, all of his signatures are in the film, but this time they are exaggerated and emphasized as never before. Also, what does Wes Anderson do in his films? He uses funny and often unbelievable characters in order to paint a picture that is often closer to real painful or happy moments than one could have depicted using "realistic" characters and situations. Who is the main character in The Life Aquatic? Steve Zissou, a filmmaker who unabashedly fakes his documentaries, even though there is still real emotion behind them. The Jaguar Shark is not a real fish, but dammit, something really did eat Esteban. I have re-watched the movie several times, and not only does everything make sense when you think of it this way, but if this IS what Wes was trying to do, it makes seemingly unimportant dialogue absolutely brilliant. For example, the fight between Ned (Owen Wilson) and Steve (Bill Murray): Ned: You don't know me, you never wanted to know me. I'm just a character in your film. I won't ruin any more revelations for those of you who decide to watch the movie again with this in mind- it's pretty cool.

I'm not saying these are the answers- this is just my interpretation. The point is, once you accept that nothing in this movie was done by accident, it goes from an interesting colorful movie to a masterpiece.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Wes Anderson
Bill Murray
Owen Wilson
Cate Blanchett
Anjelica Huston

DVD title: Lost In Translation (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Lost In Translation (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Lost in life

I enjoyed the film a great deal, and apparently for some of the reasons that many other people disliked it... the lack of plot line, and the less then in depth character development.
Yes there was little plot, but isn't that the point. When we get lost in life, we lose our own plotline so to speak. Bill Murray's character Bob Harris is in just that position. His career has peaked, and he's no longer angry about it, just accepting. The magic/excitement has gone out of his marriage, and he knows that his children have something to do with it, so its not bad, just different (because he loves having children - "They are the best people you will know"). If he were at home in a more comfortable environment his state would be covered up in activites, friends, family, etc. I mean why did he go golfing in the middle of the film? To try to find something familiar that he could grab hold of. Unfortunately for him it doesn't work either. It is only with this young woman (well played by Scarlett Johansson), also lost, that he finds some solace, as they share their perceived problems.
The fact that they don't have any real reason to be upset, doesn't matter either (I mean who wouldn't like to go to Tokyo for 2 million dollars to advertise whiskey). It is self perception that colors our lives, and each of these characters feels emptiness, and it is only their common feelings, and culture that brings them together. Ultimately their friendship keeps each grounded in a foreign land. In my personal favorite movie moment, Bill Murray states just that in the excruciating version of More than This, the Roxy Music song. He looks at her and sings that there is nothing more then this, and in that moment Bob Harris means just that.
As far as the depth of character, how well do we know each other after a few days. I was crazy about my wife, but what I knew about her was quite superficial as compared to the 13 years we have been together. I know I would like to know more about each character, but I definitely knew enough about each of them to care about them. If I knew more about them, honestly I may like them less. For example how old are his children or wife, compared to him. Does he have a previous family that he left? He is an actor after all. We could come up with the same type of things for Charlotte. Rather I want to know the characters from the few days they show us. It is those people that I feel for.
I agree with the few who have written that it doesn't matter what he whispered to her at the end. I, like the one previous reviewer, can't put it in words, but it works for me. They are connected, and that is what matters.
I can't speak highly enough of Bill Murray's performance. I did not see Mystic River, so I cannot compare his performance to Sean Penns, but did see Pirates, and I feel that his performance was at least as good as Johnny Depps. I will continue to see his movies, because he is an outstanding actor, something I would never have thought possible fifteen years ago.
The scenes in Tokyo as almost all have agreed were wonderful to behold. I really liked this movie, and do recommend it, but understand that like anything else it is not for everyone.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Sofia Coppola
Scarlett Johansson
Bill Murray
Giovanni Ribisi

DVD title: Southern Man
Productgroup: DVD
Southern Man - movie DVD cover picture
little budget, big story

I saw this movie at the new york film festivals and it's great. Intriguing story, strong characters, beautiful film...and all on a shoestring budget. In fact, I read that Rod Lurie, the director of last year's hit "The Contender," really liked it too. don't miss this well-crafted suspense drama.

Studio: Vanguard Films
Director: Rick Rosenberg
Jason Stuart

DVD title: Star Wars - Episode II, Attack of the Clones (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Star Wars - Episode II, Attack of the Clones (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
The Genius of George Lucas Revealed

Since May of 1977, when the original ?Star Wars? premiered, George Lucas has been assembling the biggest cinematic jigsaw puzzle ever to hit the realm of fantasy and science fiction; a monumental undertaking that has forever altered the celluloid landscapes of the universe while propelling the art of filmmaking ahead at light speed. His epic saga is the ultimate tale of Good against Evil-- pure in every sense-- and with the fifth installment, ?Star Wars: Episode II, Attack of the Clones,? Lucas carefully inserts more of the integral pieces into that puzzle, leading us ever closer to the full and complete picture that will be revealed in Episode III, the sixth and final chapter that will at last bring the story full circle.
It has been ten years since the events depicted in ?Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace? unfolded, and the ramifications of galactic politics has brought the galaxy to the brink of war; the life of Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman)-- now a member of the Senate-- has been threatened, and Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his young apprentice, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), have been called upon to protect her. Not an easy task, however, as the dark side of the force has grown in strength, clouding the future to such an extent that not even Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz) can discern what may be in the offing. Jedi Council Leader Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) is concerned with the threat of the impending war and the possible outcome, for he realizes that the Jedi, though strong, are too few; they are the peace keepers of the galaxy, but there is simply not enough of them to fight a war. But the one who is perhaps the most troubled of all is Anakin Skywalker, who in his zeal to cling to his autonomy is beginning to feel the pull of the dark side, that part of the force that will eventually seduce him, and to which he will ultimately dedicate himself. And when it happens, it will drastically affect not only Anakin, but Obi-Wan, as well; and most especially, the young woman with whom Anakin has been in love since the first day they met, Padme Amidala.
George Lucas is a visionary filmmaker; he is to film what Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and J.R.R. Tolkien are to literature, with a touch of Aesop and The Brothers Grimm thrown in as well. If you take a step back, pause and reflect upon what Lucas has done, it?s awe-inspiring. Not only did ?Star Wars? spring from his fertile imagination, but he managed to translate it all vividly to the screen, with all of the myriad plot twists and turns, characters and intricacies, in a cohesive, accessible way that makes it riveting entertainment that has been embraced by audiences around the world and from one generation to the next. And with ?Episode II,? he does not merely give you more of the same-- the forte of most sequels, especially beyond a second installment-- but develops the story and characters with meticulous detail that takes you one step closer to that moment when all is revealed and the final link is established, tying it all together.
Beginning with the original, and right on through the (now) five films, Lucas demonstrates what a master craftsman he is, delivering an engrossing story that is visually astounding, as well. And throughout the series, he maintains a continuity and consistency in the presentation; in the storyline, the way it is acted and the overall ?look? of the finished product, and with a pace that it always perfectly attuned to the moment-- accelerated for the heart-pounding action sequences, more deliberate when needed, to effect the personal drama that lies at the core of the story. In the final analysis, George Lucas is one of the few artists to whom the title ?filmmaker,? in the absolute purest and truest sense, can be attributed. He is a brilliant storyteller; a genius who has perfected and advanced his chosen medium perhaps more than anyone else before or since. And, inexplicably-- like Chaplin and Welles during their respective lifetimes-- Lucas has never been truly or properly recognized for his many accomplishments; recognition that is deserved and overdue. It?s time to stand up and acknowledge him as the gifted artist he is.
In his second outing as Obi-Wan, Ewan McGregor continues to amaze. Creating the younger version of the character already established so indelibly by Alec Guinness-- and making him convincing-- had to be a tremendous challenge; and McGregor comes through with banners raised high. He does not merely imitate, but truly captures the essence of the character established by Guinness, almost as if channeling Guinness? spirit through his performance. He has the mannerisms, the speech patterns, expressions and body language, all of which leads to a seamless transition from McGregor to Guinness in Episode IV. And it?s all done in a subtle, unassuming and quite natural way by McGregor, which makes his Obi-Wan believable and real. It?s a studied, discriminating portrayal, and a real accomplishment for this talented young actor.
Another of the strengths of the film is the performance by Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker. Knowing that the engaging young Anakin will one day become the evil Darth Vader, it is pivotal that the actor playing the role at this stage of the character?s development is able to capture and convey what it is in his personality-- and deeper, in his heart-- that allows him to be turned to the dark side. And that is exactly what Christensen accomplishes with his portrayal. Perfectly cast, he is believably the older version of the character created by Jake Lloyd in Episode I, and most importantly, he displays the dark, inner rumblings and angst that will ultimately be his undoing. Finally, the chemistry between Christensen and Portman makes the inevitable romance viable, and ?Attack of the Clones,? another triumph for George Lucas.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: George Lucas
Ewan McGregor
Natalie Portman

DVD title: Crying Freeman - Portrait of a Killer (Vol. 1)
Productgroup: DVD
Crying Freeman - Portrait of a Killer (Vol. 1) - movie DVD cover picture
The Enigma of Guilt

In an odd sense of cross cultural symbol mixes, Crying Freeman both exploits old stereotypes and develops new ones. Crying Freeman, although it may not have been intended to be so, is the reverse of Kill Bill - where a Japanese 'woman' takes over a Japanese Yakuza operation. The Chinese triad 'family', the 108 Dragons, is looking to develop its area of operation into Japan. In Portrait of a Killer and Shades of Death, the Japanese law enforcement is resolute to keep them out by forming an alliance with the local Yakuza to thwart any Dragon efforts. Yo Hinomura, a potter - is recruited by the 108 Dragons, who develop him into a killing machine. Yo completes the transition by taking the Chinese name Ron Tayan (Dragon Sun). In the opening scene, Emu Hino, a young artist, contemplates her death as she witnessed Tayan's handiwork when he assassinated a Yakuza victim and is moved to tears - ergo the Crying Freeman. Tayan, who acquired the nickname "Crying Freeman," is ordered by the 108 Dragons to get rid of the witness Emu Hino. Emu, worried for her virginity, beseeches Tayan not to let her depart this life a virgin. The love that results from their encounter causes Tayan to break a few cherished Dragon tenets. Tayan and Emu flee their Yakuza enemies and escape to safer China. The wedding of Tayan to Emu and his subsequent installation as head of the 108 Dragon causes much stir among the old guard. This DVD therefore sets the stage for the whole series - the Crying Freeman a Japanese potter at the helm of a Chinese clan. Crying Freeman is, arguably, guilty pleasure anime. Anime is, by its very fabric escapist. The problem with Crying Freeman is that it is indeed violent and is not for children. I am not certain what sub-genre it falls under but it certainly is complex and it does call to question cultural representations. At the core of the series is 'contradiction.' Yo (Ron Tayan) is enigmatic in that he kills yet is inexplicably saddened by the act. Never able to reconcile his love and position both he and Emu (now Fu Ching-Ran (Tiger Orchid)) are destined to take their happiness where they can get it. I like the series because it is a wonderful laboratory for cross cultural representation and misrepresentation - the action is simply gravy. In the dark tradition of Perfect Blue, Crying Freeman uses sex and violence to add complexity to the story. Does the series border on Hentai - certainly a good argument could be made, in reality it is adult anime more 'R' than 'X' - I give it the thumbs up for the artistry and complexity, the rest the viewer will have to decide on their own.

Miguel Llora

Studio: A.D. Vision
Director: Daisuke Nishio

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