Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Shadow of a Doubt
Productgroup: DVD
Shadow of a Doubt - movie DVD cover picture
Underrated and superb

I've actually sometimes felt Hitchcock to be overrated. I've enjoyed films like "Vertigo" up to a point but fail to see what makes them "masterpieces". This film, however, is truly outstanding, though. What makes it particularly powerful is its brilliantly simple idea--what if the relative you love and trust the most is actually a serial killer? Would anyone else in your family believe you if you found that to be true? The acting here is top-notch and the direction is the best I've ever seen from Hitchcock. This is one time he proved to be all that his biggest fans say he was.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Teresa Wright
Joseph Cotten

DVD title: In the Bedroom
Productgroup: DVD
In the Bedroom - movie DVD cover picture
Oscar worthy!

This is one of the most gripping films of the year. Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, and Morisa Tomei all deserve their Oscar nominations. This film is haunting, and will definitly draw you in from beginning to end. Very, very powerful. The slow pace of the film is necessary. The score from Thomas Newman is wonderful, and the direction and cinematography are excellent, too!
Don't miss it!

Studio: Buena Vista Home Vid
Director: Todd Field
Tom Wilkinson
Sissy Spacek

DVD title: Monty Python's Life of Brian - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Monty Python's Life of Brian - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Follow the Gourd

Those things that are your most sacred are the things that you should burn! A very smart person said that and this movie may be a prime indicator that it is a good tenent to follow. For those one star - stay away from this reviewers, 'follow the sandal! follow the sandal! Blind faith is still blind.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Terry Jones
Graham Chapman
John Cleese
Michael Palin

DVD title: The West Wing - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
The West Wing - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
One Of The Best Dramas Ever To Grace TV Screens!

I, like many other people, am very glad Aaron Sorkin created "The West Wing". Seasons 1 through 4 of the series (written by Mr. Sorkin) represent, in my view, the best drama program on commercial television since ...... umm ...... give me a few months and I might be able to come up with something (but it won't be an easy assignment).
It would be extremely difficult indeed to come up with a TV series that had a rookie season as spectacular as "The West Wing". Each and every one of the 22 first-season episodes located on this 4-Disc DVD collection is truly memorable. Not a bad apple in the bunch, in my opinion -- which is remarkable for any series that was just getting its feet wet.
This tremendous batch of programs includes "Five Votes Down", "Enemies", "In Excelsis Deo", "A Proportional Response", and "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet". These episodes, and all the others in this 1999-2000 campaign, are so darn good, I felt like re-watching each one of them two minutes after viewing them via these DVDs.
The crafting of each episode is absolutely remarkable and worthy of high praise. The effort (and obvious care and precision) that goes into shooting just one scene is amazing. Take for instance one of the very first scenes ever filmed (for the Pilot; which is discussed by actor John Spencer in one of the very informative Making-Of documentary pieces contained on Disc 4 of this set) -- As Mr. Spencer explains in the featurette, the scene in question (one of those long, walking-the-White-House-corridors-while- talking-a-mile-a-minute type of scenes, a "West Wing" speciality) was originally written by Aaron Sorkin to be EIGHT different shots! But, instead, they filmed it as just ONE continuous "hallway walking" scene....and it's simply amazing.
The acting on "The West Wing" is equal to the excellent writing of Mr. Sorkin. Every character is drawn well and realized to their full potential by the great collection of actors and actresses that were assembled for this TV series. It's very difficult (I would imagine) for ANY "West Wing" fan to choose his or her "favorite" character on this show. They're ALL favorites. They're ALL that good.
We're not likely to see a TV program this well done for a long, long time. And it's a privilege now to be able to own these hall-of-fame-caliber shows on the DVD format.
These episodes look and sound just fine on DVD. Video is in the originally-aired television ratio of 1.33:1. (NOTE: Season Two's DVD set goes to Widescreen, even though that season, like this first season, was also originally shown in the Full-Frame (1.33:1) ratio. Season #2, however, WAS "composed" through the camera lens for EITHER a Full-Frame OR a Widescreen ratio presentation. And Season 2, just like #1, looks great on DVD.)
Sound comes from Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround tracks. Even though the shows are Full-Frame here, the Menus are anamorphic in nature.
A very nice bundle of Special Features is served up here, including Audio Commentaries for five episodes (in which Aaron Sorkin participates). Many other bonuses are located on Disc 4. Here's a look ...........
>> Two terrific behind-the-scenes Making-Of documentaries, entitled "The Primaries" (17 minutes long) and "The Inauguration" (29 minutes), which both give us interviews with many members of the cast and crew, including Mr. Sorkin and "President Bartlet" himself (Martin Sheen). Fabulous stuff here.
>> Two other shorter featurettes are "Capital Beat" (8 minutes), which includes interviews with real-life political "consultants", who helped put a true-to-life political face on the series. And "Sheet Music" (6 minutes), which talks about the show's music.
>> 4 Deleted Scenes (total run time of just over 5 minutes). These scenes can be accessed individually, or played back-to-back via a "Play All" selection.
>> "Gag Order" -- A three-minute gag reel of bloopers and assorted oddball on-set happenings. There are a couple really funny screw-ups presented here. But this is way too short. It leaves you yearning for more. But -- it's fun while it lasts.
>> "The West Wing Suite" -- This is a montage of some scenes from Season 1 of "The West Wing", with appropriate musical accompaniment. But I'm not entirely sure what purpose this bonus is supposed to serve here. It's nice, I guess, as a kind of "trailer" for Season One. It has a running time of just under 2 minutes.
>> "Off The Record" -- This bonus segment (of 3.5 minutes duration) is a collection of outtakes from the four featurettes/documentaries on the DVD.
>> Easter Egg -- There's a nifty little 2.5-minute "Egg" hidden on Disc 4 (the "Special Features" only disc). It highlights "Manny: Head Of Security", who is in charge of keeping people off the West Wing set when scenes are being filmed. This is a really fun Easter Egg, which also shows West Wing actor Richard Schiff having fun with "Manny" while riding around aimlessly on the studio lot in a golf cart-like vehicle. Kind of neat.
You access the "Egg" by hitting your remote's Left Arrow key followed immediately by the Right Arrow key from any of the eight Special Features Menu choices on Disc #4. After performing this "Left then Right Arrow" combination you'll see a "Star" come on the screen. Pressing "Enter" or "Play" with the star on the Menu screen will access the "Manny" Easter Egg.
Overall, it's a pretty satisfying batch of supplements offered up for this boxed set. But, in the end, this DVD collection would have been worth the price even if the 4th disc of bonus materials was excluded altogether. For it's the twenty-two magnificent episodes themselves that are truly the stars here.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Martin Sheen

DVD title: Shattered Glass
Productgroup: DVD
Shattered Glass - movie DVD cover picture
All Round Excellent Movie

There are some great in-depth reviews of "Shattered Glass" on these pages. I agree with everyone that praises this movie as an important film that shows the true life story of Stephen Glass and his fabricated stories that were published in "The New Republic."
For those of you that might be on the fence about this film, maybe feeling that when it was in theaters, the previews really didn't catch your entire interest--THIS review is for you--cos I felt that same way. Yet, this movie had me hooked in the first five minutes and I loved it all the way through. Give it a chance if you were hesitant about watching it before.
The DVD looks great, and the bonus features include commentary from the director and the one-time TNR editor Chuck Lane as well as a "60 Minutes" segment with the real life Stephen Glass, which is a great thing to watch after viewing the film.
Check this movie out.

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Director: Billy Ray
Hayden Christensen
Chloë Sevigny
Steve Zahn

DVD title: The Boondock Saints [IMPORT]
Productgroup: DVD
The Boondock Saints  [IMPORT] - movie DVD cover picture
Boondock Saints

One of the best action movies ever made. Lots of style and great acting. Also a very good story. Movies just don't get much better than this. Everyone should see this movie.

Studio: Pid
Director: Troy Duffy
Willem Dafoe
Sean Patrick Flanery
Norman Reedus

DVD title: Wrong Turn
Productgroup: DVD
Wrong Turn - movie DVD cover picture
A Terrifying Horror Classic

Wrong Turn is an original, suspense-filled horror classic. It has smart, chilling scares. I haven't seen a good horror movie since "The Ring". Wrong Turn delivers a great cast, great directing, and great horror. It's one of the scariest movies this year. Let's see if "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" can Top "One of The Best Horror Films In Years", Wrong Turn!!!

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Rob Schmidt
Eliza Dushku
Emmanuelle Chriqui
Jeremy Sisto

DVD title: Much Ado About Nothing
Productgroup: DVD
Much Ado About Nothing - movie DVD cover picture
funny and just plain enjoyable! by a 14 year old

This movie is so, as I said, enjoyable! It's hilarious - it has both physical and oral comedy. The scenes with Benedick and Beatrice are great.
Shakespeare's play is about two romances. One with a young, innocent, beautiful Hero and a naiive guy (I forget his name). The other is with Beatrice and Benedick, a couple who love to hate each other and don't realize their true feelings without a little help from some friends. Unfortunately, all is not completely happy. Someone is trying to put a damper on everyone's fun with lies and false accusations. But don't worry! Much Ado About Nothing isn't a tragedy.
The music and scenery is beautiful and the who feel is the movie is sprightly and energetic. I think everyone did a good job. Branagh and Thompson obviously were wonderful. Everybody says Michael Keaten (spelling?) and Keanu Reeves were terrible, but I strongly disagree. Perhaps they were a little prejudiced by former viewings of the actors. Keaten was so funny - I am sure Shakespeare was not always refined - and Reeves was evil. They both were fine!
I recommend this movie to Shakespeare lovers (though it may not be COMPLETELY true to the original text) and to anyone who wants a good laugh.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh
Emma Thompson
Keanu Reeves
Kate Beckinsale

DVD title: The X-Files - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
The X-Files - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
Great package and discs.

Simply the best serie of all time.For a first year, amazing. The image quality is perfect,better than 90% of DVD movies.The sound ,despite only 2 channels(but digital),is good also.A booklet inside is a dream for all the fans,with informations about the 6 seasons.I will watch it for many years.Buy it if you like things well done.The second season is coming, and the third,....Thank God.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
David Duchovny

DVD title: The Cooler
Productgroup: DVD
The Cooler - movie DVD cover picture
Low-key drama about a loser who rediscovers hope and joy

Imagine the most defeated, downtrodden, broken individual on the planet. Somebody who life has ridden roughshod over him so many times that the only thing he's living for is an end to his obligations. If you believe that luck can spread around, then a guy like that would have to sap it from everything and everybody he came into contact with, returning it sour and stale. The only way a loser like that could make a real living would be as a cooler in a casino. Folks, meet Bernie Lootz, the best cooler in Las Vegas.
Bernie has a seven year deal with his old-style thug boss Shelley, played by the aptly cast Alec Baldwin. In order to work off a gambling debt caused by his addiction combined with a losing streak, Bernie "cools" the luck of winners at the Shangri-La casino simply by circulating around to wherever there has been too much of a winning streak going on. It works, and he keeps the outdated Shangri La nicely profitable. But now his obligation to Shelley is nearly finished and Bernie wants out of the business. No smart old stickler like Shelley is going to let such a good thing go so easily, however, and he contrives a cruel and clever plan to trap Bernie into extending his contract using the only bait that could tempt a guy with nothing else to lose: a sexy new love interest in the form of cocktail waitress Natalie (Maria Bello).
Once in a while a role comes along for which there is really only one actor that can jump start it to life properly, and without a doubt William H. Macy is that actor for Bernie Lootz. With his kicked-puppy looks and his quietly resigned demeanor, Macy is superb in this movie. In fact, he really made the movie, period. I would recommend The Cooler just for the sake of his performance, although the other leads made great contributions - after all, nobody plays Arrogance like Alec. The satisfaction that you will get out of witnessing the underdog change his luck and rejoin the world of light and hope will be a great bonus.
Great acting, interesting plot, plenty of human drama and just a little brief nudity: there's really nothing missing here. I really can't think of a reason not to award it five stars, so I will. Excellent.-Andrea, aka Merribelle

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Director: Wayne Kramer
William H. Macy
Alec Baldwin
Maria Bello

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