Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Newsies (Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Newsies (Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
They Found the Courage To Fight The Powerful

During the time when Theodore Roosevelt was governor of New York, times were good and times were bad. While the wealthy businessmen prospered with no consideration for others, the poor people fought to survive, including a group of poor orphaned newspaper boys known only as Newsies. Led by a proud young man known as Jack Kelly (Christian Bale), the Newsies were a rag tag but fairly happy crew until one day the powerful newspaper owner Joseph Pulitzer (Robert Duvall) decided to raise the price of the papers that the boys buy from him and then sell on their own. Feeling crushed and desperate the boys are ready to accept their fate and tighten their belts. All save Jack, whose fiery spirit won't give up without a fight. Eager to save himself and his friends from this difficult change, he rallies the Newsies of New York to help him take a stand. With the help of fellow Newsies such as David (David Moscow), Race Track (Max Casella), Spot Collins (Gabriel Damon), and Crutchy (Marty Belafsky) and friends Medda Larsen (Ann-Margret), the Swedish Singer, and Bryan Denton (Bill Pullman), a newspaper reporter, Jack fights for his rights and to survive.
One of Disney's best musicals, Newsies is full of great dance and song integrated into an entertaining story that is fun for the whole family. It also has a troupe of very talented young actors along with some old favorites.

Studio: Disney Studios
Director: Kenny Ortega
Christian Bale

DVD title: Gandhi
Productgroup: DVD
Gandhi - movie DVD cover picture
wonderful film

this was an exceptional film and one that i hope many people watch, and maybe take to heart what this man did and the way he acted. his actions speak louder than his words did, nonviolence. he was a true christian, muslim, jew, and hindu. the film does a wonderful job in presenting his life. and the extras are nice. it was nice to see the actual gandhi in the news reel clips they gave us in this disk.

Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Director: Richard Attenborough
Ben Kingsley
John Gielgud

DVD title: Clue
Productgroup: DVD
Clue - movie DVD cover picture
The Best movie ever

It was very good.I laughed so much i cried.Well my favorite character was Mrs.White.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Eileen Brennan
Tim Curry

DVD title: The Siege
Productgroup: DVD
The Siege - movie DVD cover picture
Genuinely Disturbing Action Thriller

When "The Siege" was originally released in 1998, it got mixed reviews and fared moderately at the box office. However, after 9/11, interest in this film spiked, and now is judged as ahead of its time since it depicts terrorism in such a similar way to what happened here in 200 and what happened this month in London.

The film's plot seems fictional enough. FBI agent Anthony "Hub" Hubbard (Denzel Washington) is the leader of an FBI terrorism unit. When a dud bomb goes off on a bus, an investigation is launched. They come up emtpy until they hook up with Elise Kraft (Annette Benning), who helps them with their search. When a city bus blows up and the terrorists start attacking theaters, schools and even the FBI headquarters, the U.S. Army, led by William Deveraux (Bruce Wilis). However, the army declares marshal law on the city, and pretty much arrests every Muslim, Arab and Iraqi in the city, including Hubbard's partner's (Tony Shaloub) son. Hubbard is outraged with the treatment of the prisoners, and orders the FBI to arrest Deveraux. It all results in an unforgettable climax that will stay with you forever.

The film may not be 100 % realistic (I doubt we'll ever be under marshall law), but this film echoes the events of today so much it becomes disturbing to watch. I'd only recommend to certain people.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Edward Zwick
Denzel Washington
Bruce Willis

DVD title: Live Aid (4 Disc Set)
Productgroup: DVD
Live Aid  (4 Disc Set) - movie DVD cover picture
Rockin' all over the world!

My memories of the Live Aid concerts are very fragmented because I was only five years old at the time, but I have been waiting for years to finally get this on video. While not being complete, this DVD set contains some excellent concert footage from many acts at the peak of their success, and the humanitarian purpose behind the concert makes it all the more moving.

The set contains some priceless performance footage. My personal favorites are Queen, who perform six songs (the most of any artist in this set), David Bowie, Madonna (only six months after she burst onto the music scene), The Who and Dire Straits. All of the above bands perform their signature songs, with the exception of The Who, whose generator blew up and prevented "Pinball Wizard" and "My Generation" from being broadcast. The DVD set is also littered with some excellent footage from some of the most popular bands in the 80's. Other notables include U2, Duran Duran, Nik Kershaw, Ultravox, Hall & Oates, The Cars, The Pretenders, Elton John (in his "fez hat" phase) and Mick Jagger's priceless duet with Tina Turner are all included. The list goes on and on, but needless to say that any music fan will find something to like in this package. Overall, you get 10 hours of great music for a great price.

The problems with this DVD set are trivial when you look at all that is included, and the worthy cause. Sure, many bands and songs were excluded, but the book that accompanies the DVDs explains that much of the footage was lost or unusable. The occasional hiccup with the sound and video is to be expected, since this was recorded almost 20 years ago. The Wembly concert is definitely better quality, as it was professionally recorded. The American concert in Philadelphia is variable as it was not. The sound quality is generally good, but crowd noise and static sometimes impedes the music, and the introductions from the MCs at the show (Jack Nicholson, Bette Midler, and Chevy Chase) are often inaudible. But I really wasn't bothered, as 99% of what is included here is brilliant.

There are also some DVD extras, which are usually minimal on music DVDs. The videos for the excellent Band Aid song "Do the know it's Christmas?", the abysmal "We are the world" video, the original BBC report on famine in Ethiopia, and segments from the CBC documentary (shown live at the concert) which was the catalyst for organizing the concert. All of which bring awareness to the strife in Africa, and it is difficult to watch at times.

Ignore the overly-critical people who complain from the rooftops about what was left out, and be grateful that it was released at all, and now that every penny raised is going to a good cause. This is a great DVD set by any standard, and at the modest price, it is an essential part of any collection.

Studio: Warner Brothers/Elektra/Atlantic
Bob Geldof

DVD title: Vanity Fair (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Vanity Fair (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Becky Sharp meets Bollywood

Film director, writer and producer Mira Nair (Salaam, Bombay!, Monsoon wedding) admits to a life-long love affair with William Makepeace Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair after reading it as a teenager. This is evident in the beautiful cinematography and the painstakingly recreated and lavish sets of the current screen version starring Reese Witherspoon, Gabriel Byrne, James Purefoy et al.

Literary fans of the ever-aspiring Becky Sharp will definitely be able to chart the rise and falls of her desperate attempts to climb England's unforgiving and unforgetting ladder of social acceptance. The outstanding performances of the well chosen actors (Witherspoon never looked better than in period costume and her accent is convincing) and the underlying story lines of unrequited love and the Napoleonic War helps to win the interest of the movie viewer.

Reese is the flamboyant embodiement of "pluck" in her portrayal of the iron-willed and somewhat ruthless lower-class schemer and a whirlwind of action dominates her scenes. But if Witherspoon's Becky is the storm, then her finishing school friend Amelia is the calm in the eye of the storm. For when the madonna-like actress Romola Garai (The Last of the Blonde Bombshells) graces the screen, the frenetic pace slows down and scenes of buccolic romanticism unfold.

Naturally, many of the subplots and characters that were fully fleshed in Thackeray's 700 page novel get short shrift or no mention at all in Nair's adaptation. There are many unanswered questions and scenes that hint at the complexity of the novel Vanity Fair which is not realized in the movie.

However, the real "jewel in the crown" is Nair's skillful direction that never loses sight of the Indian influences throughout Thackeray's novel. Before he was sent to school in England, Thackeray was a native of India, where he spent his early childhood in Calcutta while his father worked for the East India Company.

It seems proper that Nair uses caste-locked India as a frame for the retelling of Thackeray's satiric analysis and deconstruction of the highly stratified life, marriage customs and mores of early 19th century England. Viewing Nair's adaptation of Vanity Fair is almost like a homecoming for Thackeray.

Welcome home, William.

Studio: Universal Studios Ho
Director: Mira Nair
Gabriel Byrne
Reese Witherspoon
Romola Garai
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers

DVD title: The Mummy (Widescreen Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Mummy (Widescreen Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

I loved this movie and this keyboard I'm typing on is kind of whacky so any mistakes are probably not my fault.
Back to the movie: it was a lot of fun. Brendan Fraser kept me laughing. The characters were pretty well drawn. And all the expendables were somehow still endearing. John Hannah was standout. Very funny guy. "Bad luck, old mum," and "Im-ho-tep," were probably the funniest lines in the whole movie. The special effects were stunning and the action was pulse pounding.
A couple of quibbles with minor spoilers: if the beetles ate Imhotep, "very slowly," in the words of the female lead, then how come they devoured that poor guy in the passageway in like .5 seconds? And how come the Imhotep took the eyes of Burns, who wore glasses? I expected to see the mummy staggering around like Burns did when his glasses wer knocked off.
Any way very good. Little language and the violence isn't bloody or too gruesome with the possible exception of the burrowing bugs.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Stephen Sommers
Brendan Fraser
Rachel Weisz

DVD title: Star Wars, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Star Wars, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
So much better!

This film was so much better than the first two. The plot was clear and visually it was so exciting. All our questions got answered. Now Lucas nees to go back and remake the 2 previous ones!

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

DVD title: Walt Disney Treasures - Disneyland USA
Productgroup: DVD
Walt Disney Treasures - Disneyland USA - movie DVD cover picture
Treat for Disneyland Fans

Leonard Maltin opens each of the segments with commentary about what you will see.
The first show is the grand-opening of Disneyland in 1955 as seen on live television. Art Linkletter hosts with Bob Cummings and Ronald Reagan as co-hosts. This is an exciting glimpse of the first day and fun to see the live action misques. Frank Sinatra with young son driving the autopia car followed by Sammy Davis Jr, Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen do a song and dance number, Art Linkletter's family, and other notables make this an instant trip down memory lane. (The Atomic Energy Pavillion was especially enlightening)There is even the old logo for the ABC network. The only bad part of this special is the sometimes poor quality of the Black & White film.
The Ten Anniversary segment is in color and provides a real treat as you see the concept art and models for Pirates of the Carribbean, Haunted Mansion, etc. If you look closely, you'll see differences between the models and the rides today. Walt Disney hosts and you see The Shah of Iran, Marc Davis, other imagineers, and the 10th Anniversary hostess. The flavor of this period is evident in the clothes and attitudes expressed, plus the comments about the rides.
The Disneyland After Dark special is in sharper color and is highlighted by performances by Louis Armstrong, Annette Funicello, Bobby R., and the elem. school-aged Osmond brothers.Walt Disney has a few fun scenes signing autographs and introducing various performers. I was amused to see a caption below the fire-walkers show which stated "not to do this at home." It was also a treat to see the faces of the audiences enjoying the shows.
When finished watching both DVD's in this package, I was pleased and hoping for more releases similar to this one.

Studio: Disney Studios

DVD title: Night and Fog - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Night and Fog - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
The perfect educational tool!

This is what Enhanced CD tried to do in SF's Multimedia gulch three years ago. A great collection of short films and animation cleverly fused together into a cohesive unit. I still think about "Night and Fog" three days after watching it. If you have an interest in independent films, you will love this collection.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Alain Resnais
Michel Bouquet

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