Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: A Clockwork Orange
Productgroup: DVD
A Clockwork Orange - movie DVD cover picture
Surpasses Anthony Burgess' novel

Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" is the rare case of a film that even surpasses its already very good source material. In fact, this is one of the best films of Stanley Kubrick (or anyone else).
Not only is the film brilliantly acted, scripted and photographed. It has also one of the most original production designs I have ever seen in a movie. But what really makes the picture transcend the novel is Kubrick's brilliant use of music. This adds a dimension to the whole enterprise the book did not have. The scene in which Alex is forced to watch documentary-footage of the Nazis underscored by the ninth symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven is unforgettable. Actually, the whole movie is one memorable scene after another.
This film has been largely and uncritically admired as a cult hit by fans of violent movies. Other felt uncomfortable after it because it just shows problems without giving answers. I think that this is the film's strength. Kubrick invites us to figure out for ourselves what his film is all about and this includes the possibility of different answers (or no clear answer at all).

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Malcolm McDowell
Patrick Magee

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

Alan Parker, a masterful director when it comes to atmosphere and location, is an odd choice to direct this Manhattan-based musical set in the High School of Performing Arts. He predictably creates a compelling look and texture to the actual school itself, but the characters and story line are woefully melodramatic, and not all of the youthful cast are up to the challenge. Still, the soundtrack, and the movie's spontaneous musical numbers are what really count, and for the most part they are irresistable. The movie has taken on a slightly campy quality, and absolutely feels dated -- the choreographer/dance teacher (Debbie Allen is in there somewhere)with her stick in the dance studio -- "you want FAME! " And Coco's (Irene Cara) foray into pornography make you cringe in their unbelievability today. And the young comedian is nearly intolerable. But Paul McCrane (now of ER fame) is simple and winning in the gay role; his window-ledge ballad is a highlight. And the music remains infectious.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Alan Parker
Irene Cara

DVD title: Opeth - Lamentations (Live at Shepherd's Bush Empire 2003)
Productgroup: DVD
Opeth - Lamentations (Live at Shepherd's Bush Empire 2003) - movie DVD cover picture
Great for someone who has never seen them in concert.

If you are like me and have always wanted to see Opeth in concert, but never have had a chance, buy this DVD. I know what you are thinking, live footage DVDs are a waste of money, I have the CDs, the quality of the recording wont be as good as the CD, why would I bother buying this? For one simple reason, you truely feel like you are at the show when you watch this DVD. I found myself in awe while watching this. Even though I knew the set list before hand, I got exicted when they started every song. They really put on a different show then what I would have expected. My only complaint is that I thought the miked up the keyboards a little too loud. You can also tell Michael (or however he spells it) was nervous with the cameras and all, but it doesnt really take away from the quality of the performance. The only downside to owning this is now I want to see them live even more than before.

Studio: Koch Records
Mikael Akerfeldt

DVD title: Vanity Fair
Productgroup: DVD
Vanity Fair - movie DVD cover picture
Exquisite adaptation of the Thackeray novel.

This exquisitely made BBC production should delight fans of the Thackeray novel. I tend to shudder when I see one of my favourite books adapted for the big screen, but this adaptation really works. "Vanity Fair" is a HUGE novel--with an impressive cast of characters and action that takes place in both in England and on the Continent. A standard film format (90-120 minutes) would simply ruin the novel. This BBC version is over 5 hours long, and is divided up into episodes.
"Vanity Fair" follows the fortunes of two young women in the early 19th Century. Amelia Sedley--the only daughter of a London merchant and Becky Sharpe--the daughter of a drunken drawing master meet and become friends at school. Amelia's future looks promising, while Becky faces being a governess if she cannot catch a husband. Becky, ever the opportunist, tags along with Amelia when school ends. At Amelia's home, Becky meets Amelia's chubby and silly brother, Jos. Jos is home on leave from India where he holds a government post. Becky throws herself shamelessly at Jos by appealing to his vanity, and her plans almost works. Becky's scheme is obvious to everyone but the victim. Amelia's intended, the vain Captain George Osborne dislikes the idea of having the lowly Becky foisted on him as a sister-in-law, and so he sabotages Becky's plans. Becky's initial failure sets the tone for the rest of the story, and the film follows the fortunes--and misfortunes of both Amelia and Becky as they try to survive in Regency England. Amelia is 'good' to the point of annoying sainthood, and Becky is materialistic, conniving, arch, ambitious, a bad friend, & a poor wife and mother. And yet it is Becky who remains the most interesting to me. "Vanity Fair" is really Becky's story.
When taking a great novel to the screen, much of the language is lost, and that is inevitable, however, this screen adaptation capitalized on the visual. Sir Pitt Crawley (Becky's employer) is repulsive (watch the tripe eating scene), and all of the unpleasant characters are equally disgusting. I could swear that Miss Crawley's flesh had a slight greenish tinge to it, and Lord Steyne's appearance casts him as a villainous character. The measure of George Osborne's character is given by a glance in the mirror and the adjustment of a well-placed curl. Pugs forage across the body of Lady Crawley, and several camera shots emphasize the expanse of poor Jos Sedley's large bottom--these are the touches that make this adaptation exquisite. The quality of the DVD was impeccable, the acting superb (especially Natasha Little as Becky Sharp), and much of the action was accompanied by rather haunting music. Even the Waterloo scenes were very well done. Frankly, this DVD had a captive audience from beginning to end, and I highly recommend it for Thackeray fans---displacedhuman

Studio: A & E Home Video
Director: Marc Munden

DVD title: Sailor Moon R - The Movie
Productgroup: DVD
Sailor Moon R - The Movie - movie DVD cover picture
To good to summerize in one sentence ;)

I think this is the most romantic movie of all the Sailor Moon movies, and the animation is beautiful. It is a must see for fans of Sailor Moon, especially those that have only watched the DiC version.
The story centers around a refound love of Mamoru's (Darien) past, a young man named Fiore who is from the same planet as Ann and Ail (Ann and Alan) are. He first appears to Mamoru at a bonatical garden the girls and him have gone to for the day in a shower of rose petals. He tells Mamoru that he has not forgotten his promise to him. He instantly does not like Usagi (Serena) and they start off on a bad foot. Fiore leaves almost as mysterious as he came, just telling Mamoru that he will be back.
Later the girls are at Rei's temple and they hear a news broadcast about a meteor circling earth. The discussion turns to the encounter with Fiore, and Usagi's thougts turn to a discussion she had with Mamoru about his family *very tender flashback scene*.
The next day the girls find a street full of people drained of their energy, and quickly discover a flower that has done it. The battle turns tides when Fiore appears and attacks the senshi (sailor scouts) and Tuxedo Kamen (Mask) is injured protecting Sailor Moon. Fiore takes him.
The girls eventually go to the meteor circling the planet to save Mamoru after Luna and Aretmis tell them of the Kiseran flower that has probably taken control of Fiore. Many battles go on, and Sailor Moon is forced to give up the fight to save her friends. Fiore is under the spell of the flower, who tells him that he must destroy the senshi because they do not understand what it feels like to be alone. The senshi take his side and tell him that it is not so, and they must not loose Usagi who has given them the friend they needed. But in the end, Sailor moon must use the power of the Silver crystal to stop the meteor from hitting earth and she is killed. But her life is saved when Fiore gives Mamoru a juice to restore the crytsal *very beautiful kissing scene*.
I left alot out, but all for the better. Watch it and find out :)

Studio: Pioneer Video
Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara

DVD title: Signs (Vista Series)
Productgroup: DVD
Signs (Vista Series) - movie DVD cover picture
Excellent -- edge of your seat story

I watched this DVD last night prepared not to like it after reading some of the negative reviews -- boy was I wrong!
This is the story of a widower/farmer, sharing his life with two wonderful kids and a delightfully quirky brother. He's a fairly miserable character at the start of this movie as he has recently lost his wife in a horrendous accident. He was a minister when his wife had her accident and through flashbacks we can see that he lost his faith and blames God for the loss of his wife and subsequently left his church. The entire household is miserable because of the wife's loss and are made far more miserable by the anger they know he harbors. OK so that's the subplot.
Into the story comes a bewildering crop circle. It is assumed that it was created by pranksters until the news reports that there are thousands of these circles that appeared all over the earth, in every country. The kids are terrified by the very real threat of alien invasion. Meanwhile, their Dad tries to remain their rock solid support and deny the existence of any aliens.
Now that I laid the groundwork I don't want to go any further because it might just ruin the movie for you. One hint is that there was a moment in the movie when my daughter and I literally screamed in surprise. Interspersed with tremendous suspense are a few well placed bits of comic relief that made us laugh out loud. This movie isn't just about aliens, but is also about family, love, faith, & the human spirit. I highly recommend it.

Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Mel Gibson
Joaquin Phoenix

DVD title: Bent
Productgroup: DVD
Bent - movie DVD cover picture
A glimpse into one of the many other stores of the holocust

This movie shows how even those who consider themselves unworthy of love can find in places one would dare not hope to find it. Sometimes when everything else is stripped from you is when you find out what you really are made of. Sometimes when the world is at it coldest and life and God seem not to care how you suffer you find that one glimmer of hope. That one glimpse into the face of God and his mercy. This movie shows how one man went into the death camps believing himself to be one thing and how even in the darkness love found him and proved to him he was always something else.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: Sean Mathias
Clive Owen
Lothaire Bluteau

DVD title: Ulzana's Raid
Productgroup: DVD
Ulzana's Raid - movie DVD cover picture
Bitter struggle in a grim land.

Burt Lancaster made an offbeat little group of western movies in the early seventies ("Lawman," "Valdez is Coming," and "Ulzana's Raid") that managed to transcend the typical western cliches of "a man, a horse, and a gun." "Ulzana's Raid" is a fine film of the culture clash between white people and the Apache. Movies typically make one group or the other the "good guys." For years, white people were portrayed heroically, and Native Americans were portrayed as murderous savages, only good for six-gun fodder. Later, some films (e.g., "Dances With Wolves") reversed the pattern and made Native Americans noble, brave, and admirable while white people were portrayed as cowardly, cruel, and shallow. Thankfully, this film cuts through the nonsense of personal biases and politically correct causes, and portrays both sides as three-dimensional human beings caught in a hopeless conflict.
An Apache named Ulzana leads a samll party of warriors off their Arizona reservation, and they launch a brutal campaign of murder and violence. A world-weary Indian scout named McIntosh (Lancaster) and the enigmatic Apache soldier scout Ke-Ni-Tay (Jorge Luke) are ordered to guide a cavalry detail in pursuit of the war party. Lt. DeBuin (Bruce Davison) commands the soldiers. The inexperienced Debuin has a modicum of military training, but doesn't understand the Apache and their seeming ruthlessness. Debuin comes from a religious background, and he initially struggles with the belief the Apaches should be extended the hand of Christian fellowship, and not hunted down as animals. Viewers of the film share a learning experience in Apache practices and motivations through Debuin's eyes. After the grisly victim of an Apache raid is found Ke-Ni-Tay explains to the bewildered lieutenant the Apache concept of personal power taken from a conquered enemy. As the story unfolds, we find there is little essential difference bewteen the two cultures. Both are capable of extreme cruelty, racial hatred, and cunning. Both cultures endure sorrow and suffering in warfare. The vaunted courage of the Apaches is portrayed somewhat ironically because much of the violence they commit is against defenseless homesteaders. The chicanery of the corrupt Indian agent at the reservation displays the doubtful integrity of many white Americans in their treatment of Native Americans. The U. S. Army's by the book approach of dealing with the "Indian problem" speaks volumes of the white man's insensitivity. Ironically, DeBuin's repugnance at the cruelty of the Apaches boils over in racist comments directed at Ke-Ni-Tay. McIntosh, the ultimate realist, knows hating the Apache for their cruelty is like "hating the desert because there is no water on it." Deal with it for it is without illusions or idealistic visions.
This film is an excellent portrayl of a bitter struggle in a grim land. There are no winners in this conflict, only losers. There is enough action to please outdoor fans. The intelligent script is thought provoking. The story is tightly drawn, and the movie doesn't waste time on unnecessary dialogue or sub-plots. The violence is realistically portrayed, but not glorified. Family viewing is not advised. For those viewers interested in an intelligent western movie that moves well beyond the typical cliches, this film is highly recommended.

Studio: Goodtimes Home Video
Director: Robert Aldrich
Burt Lancaster
Bruce Davison

DVD title: Good Will Hunting
Productgroup: DVD
Good Will Hunting - movie DVD cover picture
Good Will to all creatures great and small.

This film from director Gus Van Sant is more to die for than was his previous film, To Die For. I'm speaking of course about the one and only Good Will Hunting. Matt Damon is Will Hunting. A janitor at MIT, he is a man of brains, brawn and misdirection. One day while mopping the floors of this "bastion of knowledge", he discovers a contest in which a student is required to proof a formula of finite mathematics. The story takes a serious turn when this well- kept- secret of a genius is discovered by one of the top professors in the university. The trouble with Will, is that he has no desire to go around boasting genius as do many of his counterparts at the university. One day however, Hunting is forced to face himself, for as he is thrown in jail, his only way out is through the caring of the professor who discovered him. Now, Will has to make decisions and think about painful subjects he never dared to face. As a condition of his release, he must attend therapy in order to satisfy the requests of the state. This would in the most unlikely way, change his life forever. Meet Dr. Sean Maguire, a congenial but very direct shrink whom Will is assigned to fulfill his therapy requirements with. But beyond the psychobabble and bureaucratic intricacies of the state, the relationship between Hunting and Maguire is one of pivotal proportions. It turns out Will Hunting and Sean Maguire are both men holding back many a bottles full of anger and fistfuls of pain. As the film progresses, the messages of life's challenges and hurtles become crystal clear. There are more important things in life than the everyday jumbles of feelings we get caught up in. And the only way to discover them is to let go and take a chance. This is a genuine film about release from our personal demons. In the end, Dr. Maguire and Mr. Hunting help each other tear the other's walls of fear. Take it from me folks, there is nothing more refreshing than seeing a film about battle-scarred individuals venting their frustrations on one another in order to rise to a higher lever of peace. This is a penetrating and lighthearted film which surprises the viewer with its hilariously touching humor around every corner. With a script that sounds so naturally spoken by the characters, you would think this film was more about two ordinary people just sitting around talking rather than delivering a written and rehearsed dialogue. With its buffoonery, sensitivity and healing of the mind, Good Will Hunting reinforces the idea that an uncommon story about an everyday hero is the best way to evoke an audience response. This film is not only one of the most effective I have ever seen, but it is one that should let us all know that the things that are most common among the educated and uneducated classes is, we are all people with great capacities and with geniuses hidden in both of our societies. Matt Damon is no doubt another addition to the short but illustrious list of actors who are not just pretty faces, but can also render a character at awe-inspiring levels. Robin Williams delivers his greatest serious role since Awakenings. Ben Affleck (who wrote the film along with Damon) and Minnie Driver complete the circle of perfection which is this film.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Gus Van Sant
Robin Williams
Matt Damon
Ben Affleck

DVD title: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Productgroup: DVD
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - movie DVD cover picture
Quite possibly the best movie of the 90's.

This movie has become my favorite. I have watched it numerous times both sober and otherwise. It gets better each time and is a great experience for anyone interested in the sixties and seventies cultures. One can truly appreiciate this movie if they start to read the works of Hunter S. Thompson, I highly recomend it. Remember it is best when one smokes pot and drinks before watching it. Good luck

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Terry Gilliam
Johnny Depp
Benicio Del Toro

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