Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Barton Fink
Productgroup: DVD
Barton Fink - movie DVD cover picture
Unbelievable and enigmatic

Having just watched Barton Fink a second time, I come to the realization that I should probably watch it another 4 or 5 times in order to begin to get a grasp on the many layers and symbolic directions that are to be found within this bizarre & beautiful piece of celluloid. I feel as though I have grasped a bit more of the film that upon my first viewing, but I am even more lost within its ocean. Nazism & antisemitism, leftist ideology, writer's block, the cheapening of art, murder, dementia, Hell, the Devil, the Bible, and Hollywood, all mixed into one pot of film gumbo. Another interesting point I picked up on my latest viewing, this movie begins with an ending(the curtain falls on Barton's play) and ends with a beginning(a young man meets a beautiful woman on a beach). Just one more example of the jigsaw puzzle pieces that the Coen brother's have layed out before us.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
John Turturro
John Goodman

DVD title: Finding Nemo (Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Finding Nemo (Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
A great movie - with some meat too...

Not just a goofy Disney movie this FINDING NEMO.
A story about a fish and his fish Dad. Dad theme, Dad Hero - as a Dad I really liked it...
All around a great movie... Highly recommended...

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Albert Brooks
Ellen DeGeneres
Alexander Gould

DVD title: American Beauty
Productgroup: DVD
American Beauty - movie DVD cover picture
Stunning and moving

I was blown away by this film. Unlike some other reviewers here, I didn't find the characters stereotypical, with the exception of the repressed marine and his mousy (mentally ill?) wife - but the banality of their characters (beautifully acted, as were all the parts) serves to highlight the uniqueness of their son, Ricky, to me the most fascinating character in the film.
Ricky brings out a good deal to like in Jane Burnham, with whom I had little sympathy prior to their relationship. She seemed at first like merely another sullen, sulky teen, but Ricky is able to see something else in her - as he does with a piece of trash blowing in the wind, as he does with a pool of blood. Ricky's gift for finding beauty in some of the most repellent parts of American culture (litter, violence, even teenage disaffectedness) is at the heart of AB's themes.
Protagonist Lester takes the opposite tack, falling under the thrall of more obvious beauty in the person of Angela Hayes, only to find she's not the siren she seems, but an inexperienced young girl whom he finally treats with tenderness and respect. I could go on and on, but the acting, the characterizations, the images of the roses, the use of reds, the parallels to "Sunset Boulevard" (from the posthumous narration to the tragedy of a character living a lie, finally moved by that lie to commit murder) ... there's just so much to love about this movie. Highly recommended for mature teens and up.

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

DVD title: Treasures from American Film Archives
Productgroup: DVD
Treasures from American Film Archives - movie DVD cover picture
5 Stars, but Europeans cannot watch it!!!!!!!

Well, for a silent film fan this content must be truly exciting. But for no good reason the DVD was released with a Region 1 encoding, virtually ignoring DVD viewers in Europe, who aren`t so lucky with silent films released on DVD (at least the BFI is starting now). If the major film industry doesn't have the forsight for a multi-region DVD, at least distributors of silent films could be less ignorant (alas, MCA Universal or Sony Pictures sell 100.000 of copies of their blockbusters, but the market for silent films is small enough, so why a region 1 encoding, ignoring all foreign customers ????!!!!)
At least Image Entertainment and Kino On Video don`t participate in this nonsense ......
Thank you!!! (a potential customer from Europe)

Studio: Image Entertainment
Laurence Fishburne

DVD title: Jingle All the Way
Productgroup: DVD
Jingle All the Way - movie DVD cover picture

This is one of the funniest Christmas movies I've ever seen! As you may know, Arnold Schwarzenegger's crybaby son is pestering him for a Turboman action figure. Since Arnold's long hours at his job have caused him to neglect his son, Arnold decides to make it up to him by getting the Turboman. You may recognize Arnold's son as the little brat from the Star Wars Phantom Menace.
Arnold spends an hour or so driving around and running through malls trying to find the Turboman. Along the way, he hooks up with Sinbad, who also wants the Turboman for his son. Some funny hijinks occur during their Turboman crusade.
Once of the funniest scenes in the movie occurs at a Turboman parade on Christmas Eve. Turboman's sidekick, a pink sabertooth tiger named Booster, gets knocked off a float by Sinbad. I almost lost it when all of the kids at the parade started kicking Booster. That was one of the funniest move scenes I've ever seen.
All in all, this is a great family film.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Brian Levant
Arnold Schwarzenegger

DVD title: Emma
Productgroup: DVD
Emma - movie DVD cover picture
The Making of a Woman

Classy. Flawless. Triumphant. All words that can be used to describe the film "Emma." This educational love story turned out to be one of the most appealing matchmaking films that I have even seen. Everyone, including characters and readers alike, seem to be taken back in awe of Emma's desirability, complexity, and purity, in part due to the appeal of the essential English image being portrayed. Emma, in general, comes off as a simple woman, but by looking deeper, it can be seen that she is a complex woman who is genuine, affectionate, and altruistic, while at the same time selfish, mislead, judgmental, and myopic. This all adds up to the woman as a whole and is what makes the story interesting. "Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match." This seems to be the phrase that continuously echoes in Emma's head. Love will always find a way, but to Emma, it must be her way or no way. This is her one greatest downfalls - the fact that "she" is blind, rather than the love. Emma is convinced that men know nothing about their hearts when, in actuality, it is she who knows nothing about her own. She is convinced that her judgment is always correct, but unfortunately, she is fool-heartedly misunderstanding of everything. Could this possibly be because she has never loved before? Is this an unconscious self-defense? One will never know and may only speculate. All of Emma's undesirable qualities are eventually dealt with tactfully - in the form of Mr. Knightley. He is the one voice of reason in the film, and without him, Emma may never have been able to grow to be the extraordinary woman that she is capable of being. Knightley sees Emma for what she is and for what she is capable of achieving, understanding both her foolish aspects and also her good heart - the aspect that is readily apparent and which wins everyone's charm. Yet, Knightley realizes that Emma must grow as a person - exactly the point of the movie - and hides his feelings for fear of endangering his friendship with Emma. Eventually, love wins him over though and he realizes that in order to help her, he must reveal his love for her. In short, he realized that he must take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity before it was too late, no matter what the cost may be to himself, for women like Emma are few and far between. Every other character in the film represents some sort of aspect as love in its entirety. For instance, Emma's father is the male figure that fulfills every positive quality that Emma searches for in a man - whether it be for friends, such as Harriet or Mrs. Taylor/Weston, or for herself. This represents somewhat of an electra complex in the film (the daughter desiring a man with her father's qualities). Emma's major problem though is that she judges people initially at the surface and does not allow herself to be open to the qualities that may fulfill her needs. Although Mr. Knightley may be perfect for her, she does not realize this until she allows herself to open up to love, experience it, and be truly loved. This is the sign of maturity that Mr. Knightley had hoped and waited for and also that which he will be forever thankful. "Emma" as a whole was an exceptional film in which maturation, deception, selfishness, sincerity, and ultimately love played major roles. In its entirety, "Emma" offers a wide array of aspects of love that are revealed in a timely fashion throughout the movie. Only through this meticulous process may Emma - the mislead, selfish girl - mature into Emma - the headstrong, altruistic woman. Although Emma may never achieve the perfection in Mr. Knightley's eyes as she does in those of her friends, - which is not necessarily a negative aspect, for then it would not be true love - she does manage to capture the hearts of the audience and enables the film to be as near to perfect as it may possibly be.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Douglas McGrath
Gwyneth Paltrow

DVD title: A Simple Plan
Productgroup: DVD
A Simple Plan - movie DVD cover picture
An Atmospheric Gem Of A Suspense Film

This was my favorite film from '98 and it's a modern day masterpiece of its type. I've always been intrigued by films where several characters do something that ties them together(rob a bank, kill someone, find some stolen loot, etc....) and then proceed to all turn on each other one by one.
This film concerns three men who find a downed plane and a sack with 4 million in cash. The 3 decide to split the obviously HOT loot without turning it into the authorities. The after effects of the characters criminal actions become harsher as the film progresses and Raimi and crew do a wonderful job of slowly tightening the knot of suspense. I think some people may have been turned off by how down-beat the tone of the film is but that's precisely why the film is so great. It's dark but appropriately so. The film is all of a piece and I think if you give it a chance you won't be disappointed. Btw, Thornton was robbed of an oscar for this film. I think he was nominated and lost to James Coburn. He is amazing. And for once, Bridget Fonda's listless, colorless under-acting is perfectly suited. She works well with Paxton and Thornton and this is probably the best work her & Paxton have done. Although Paxton is also good in the later under-rated "Frailty".
You don't get anything in the way of extras w/this dvd but it's worth it for the film alone. Lastly, props to Danny Elman for his wonderfully eerie little film score.

Studio: Paramount Studio
Director: Sam Raimi
Bill Paxton
Billy Bob Thornton

DVD title: The Passion of the Christ (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Passion of the Christ (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Superb, Albeit Quite Violent Portrayal Of Jesus' Passion

First of all, let me start this effort by saying how amazed I was by the movie, and by its sheer emotional power. It is superbly shot, the cinematography literally breath-taking in its intensity and ability to add muscular heft to the familiar story of how Jesus came to fulfill the prophecy through his divine sacrifice on behalf of all mankind. The movie-goer is sure to be transformed by the magnitude of the oft-told and retold tale of how the events of the final twelve hours focused on the ways in which Jesus deliberately serves himself up as the sacrificial lamb for the manifest sins of the world, offering all humans the opportunity to re-establish their contact with the divine from whom they had been estranged.
Indeed, I found myself almost speechless after viewing the film, and was not quite sure to what extent it was a result of the power of the film's message as opposed to the graphically violent context in which the tale is told. Herein lies the single criticism one can level against the film, which despite many worries from bystanders that it was laced with virulent anti-Semitism, seems to clearly blame all sinners (ergo, all of us) for the sacrifice of God's son on the cross. Yet Mel Gibson's sure hand is both able and accurate, and the violence shows how carnal man greets the divine, and how we react to the message of hope and salvation; through unspeakable cruelty and gratuitous violence. So, while this is indeed a very violent movie, the murderous acts depicted quite graphically have to be taken in the context of the supernatural events transpiring, as a kind of carnal counterpoint to the ethereal repose with which Jesus bears all of the acts visited upon him. At one point He tells Mary (After he has stumbled under the burden of the cross) "Behold, mother, I make all thing anew!" This was, for me at least, a quite stunning reminder of the godly forces at work amidst all the violence and carnage.
This is a very personal interpretation of the final twelve hours of Christ's life on earth leading to His crucifixition. From the moment it opens in the solitude of the Garden at Gethsemane, one is immediately aware of the battle ongoing between good and evil, as the devil (cleverly presented as a stunning if malevolent woman with a masculine voice) attempts to dissuade Jesus from attempting what he about to undertake. From this it is obvious He is doing this for all mankind, Jews and Gentiles alike, and that we are all to blame, through our unremitting addiction to carnality and sinfulness, for the evil manifested in the world. This is a fantastic film, one that is definitely not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, and definitely not something I would suggest subjecting a child to. Still, it is a remarkable work, and one that deserves the very wide distribution it is about to encounter.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Mel Gibson
James Caviezel
Monica Bellucci

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

This is my absolute favorite movie ever! I read the book which was amazing and then I saw this movie and it's the greatest. The charachters are perfect and I can really relate to Andrea. I'm obsessed and I've made all of my friends see it. You should to!

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Jonathan Kahn (III)

DVD title: The Usual Suspects
Productgroup: DVD
The Usual Suspects - movie DVD cover picture

Story: so complex it'll turn off less inteligent viewers. If you don't quite get it, find the screenplay on the web and read it. Some plot points are clearer, but it's good they left them out. Why? It works better without emphasizing them, just letting them linger in the background somewhere...
Direction: by Bryan Singer. Say no more. Visual genius.
Performances: cool, slick, yet believable.
Movie itself: in a word, perfect!
But, there is a man whose acomplishment is overlooked when praising this movie. His name is John Ottman, and he did montage and wrote music for the film, which has given a movie such rhythm and (tense) atmosphere that it's a crying shame he didn't receive an Oscar. Beautiful work, John!
By the way, it's one of mine Top 3 movies of all time...

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Bryan Singer
Gabriel Byrne
Kevin Spacey
Chazz Palminteri

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