Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Full Moon in Blue Water
Productgroup: DVD
Full Moon in Blue Water - movie DVD cover picture
Unknown Gem

Fun, fun, fun, fun......Hackman, the best Hollywood will ever see, plays a neurotic, daydreaming wench whose wife drowned and whose body was never found. Living in the past via his archive of home movies of his beloved wife, the other crazies in his life create an intertwining storyline of feeble-mindedness and quackery around him. Burgess Meredith is 5-star material in this pic, the supporting cast is wonderful, and the storyline itself is just a hoot -- and entirely original.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: Peter Masterson
Gene Hackman
Teri Garr

DVD title: Firefly - The Complete Series
Productgroup: DVD
Firefly - The Complete Series - movie DVD cover picture
Best SCI-Fi Since Babylon 5

This show was amazing, plain and simple. The character interaction was great, you grew to love (or hate depending on the character) each person on the show. There were tons of mysteries about each person that you were dying to figure out. Their adventures went above and beyond, "oh no, big space monster going to kill us."
The dialouge was fantastic. The banter between the captain and his crew, the elegant speak of the prostitue and the use of mandarin chinese to curse was great.
I hated Fox for canceling this before all the secrets were revealed. Hopefully the excellent sales of the DVD and the Movie will bring the show back.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Nathan Fillion

DVD title: Best in Show
Productgroup: DVD
Best in Show - movie DVD cover picture
Great Movie

My wife and I found that we had a night to ourselves so we decided to go see a movie. I'm not much of a fan of Hollywood these days and when we got to the Mega-Googaplex Cinema 5000 (1000 theaters in one place), it looked like a night of shopping would be more fun. None of the choice of movies looked good. But then we saw the marquee for "Best in Show" and saw that Eugene Levy was in it. I like him so we decided to go in and watch the show. I'm not a fan of dogs or dog shows and I have known folks in that business. They don't consider it a business - they consider it a "passion" or a "love for the breed" (or any other platitude you wish to insert here). When the movie started, it was entertaining from beginning to end. I love the fake documentary type films (such as Zelig, The Last Polka, Take the Money and Run etc.) and this fits perfectly into that genre. What a funny movie. It's not the fall down laughing type of funny, just the entertaining type of funny. The characters are classic. I recognized a lot of types that I have known over the years. Fred Willard was great as the "play by play" announcer of the dog show, and the cast in this film was perfect. All did very well.
If you have ever watched a real dog show you will see that Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy did an excellent job of research before writing this movie. They've captured the essence of dog shows in a humorous and entertaining fashion. They hit the bullseye with this film. After I watched this movie, I did purchase "Waiting for Guffman"; a movie poking fun at Community Theater, and found that it was similar in style as Best in Show. It's the same cast of characters. I guess part of my love for both of those films is that I love watching movies that poke fun at pompous, self-important, egotistical little folks who don't recognize their diminutive stature. One of the reasons I love Groucho Marx so much was his ability to deflate the biggest ego with a quick witty barb. And if you have ever known dog show people or community theater sorts, you will really appreciate how sharp the barbs are in these movies. Neither film is politically correct, which is all the more reason to enjoy them.
If you like the fake documentary style of movie, you will love this film. If you don't like those types of films, then this isn't the film for you. If you've never seen one of those types of films, but like Eugene Levy then give this one a try. You should find it very entertaining.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Christopher Guest
Catherine O'Hara
Eugene Levy
Jennifer Coolidge

DVD title: Baby Einstein - Baby Van Gogh - World of Colors
Productgroup: DVD
Baby Einstein - Baby Van Gogh - World of Colors - movie DVD cover picture
You CAN Keep an Infant's Attention!

We have a number of the Baby Einstein videos in our home, but Baby Van Gogh is our hands-down favorite. There are a number of segments on each of the basic colors, showing toys and nature photography that feature those colors. There are children also illustrating the colors (a little girl holding a lemon, boys holding a blue umbrella, etc.). Some of the other Baby Einstein videos feature only girls in live-action shots, but Baby Van Gogh has an even mix of boys and girls. I doubt my son really cares one way or the other, but I liked that aspect. The music featured in this video/DVD is also impressive. There are selections from some classical favorites like the William Tell Overture or Bolero. It's nice to have some variety, as opposed to an entire video of Bach or Mozart. Another thing that impressed me about this video is the artwork they use to further illustrate certain colors. For each color, they have a different painting by Van Gogh (Starry Night for blue, Sunflowers for Orange, and so on). This video brings together so many different aspects and blends them together seamlessly: art, nature, music. At the end of the video, there is also a segment that details the toys shown throughout the program and their manufacturer. So in case you're impressed with any of the items featured, you can buy them for yourself. Truly, this video more than any other provides a complete "Baby Einstein" experience. It's sure to be a favorite in any home.

Studio: Buena Vista Home Vid

DVD title: The O.C. - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
The O.C. - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture

The O.C. is one of the best dramas of 03-04. You know it's good because so many shows are trying to be The O.C.! Summerland, North Shore, ( which is on the same network) what's next? Well whatever show comes along that takes place at a beach with "hott" guys, I will immediately think of Adam Brody and my personal fave, Benjamin Mckenzie. Not only that but The O.C. has Tate Donovan AND Peter Gallagher! Hot Guys, Hot Girls, Hot Location, whats not to love? The plot is even pretty good! Trust me... (and I've only seen like 5 episodes of the first season!) after one epi you'll be hooked. Plenty of Comedy, Romance, Drama, and Life Lessons to be learned. It's quality stuff! At least for teenagers...

Studio: Warner Home Video
Peter Gallagher

DVD title: MTV - Viva La Bam - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
MTV - Viva La Bam - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
awsomley cool and entertaining!

This show is great. Hilarious. The dvd is worth the money but it is NOT UNCENSORED as it is advertised on a sticker on the packaging. The first episode on this set is 100% uncensored (the use words like Fu*k, sh*t) and none of it is bleeped and there's some rear nudity throughout the set. Then comes the next episode and they start randomly bleeping words that were already said in other parts of that episode, and some things are randomly blurred out. I do think that this was a good purchase but Paramount needs to stop editing these dvds that people pay money for unless there is a truly unedited one available. What makes it more ridiculous is that on this dvd, there is a parental advisory warning. Why warn anyone if you're gonna bleep it out? Other examples of Paramount doing this include Jackass, Wildboys, and possibly most notable, Ren and Stimpy. Worth the money but the censorship is dissapointing.

Studio: Paramount Home Video

DVD title: Family Guy, Vol. 2 (Season 3)
Productgroup: DVD
Family Guy, Vol. 2 (Season 3) - movie DVD cover picture
Seth Mcfarlane should do a Pixar movie!

Family Guy is a great series, which utilizes lots of visual comedy to become one of the great comedy series of the last 10 years.
Many of the jokes are Hollywood related, talking about fairly obscure people like Joyce DeWitt (Three's Company). I don't get many of them, but I'm no film expert.
Volume 2, while good, is just not *as* good as Volume 1. The funniest episodes are in the first Volume. There is a lot of Broadway musical stuff in Volume 2, which has always been one of the things that bugs me about the show. When characters break out into song, I change the channel.
If you like that sort of thing, go for it. If not, be warned that it's there, and it seems to be more prevalent in this set.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Seth Macfarlane

DVD title: Kwaidan - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Kwaidan - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture

I first saw this film in college in 1970. I had remembered only the first of the 4 stories, and the third, "Hoichi the Earless", which my freshman roommate and I thought was a hilarious title. I had no idea what the collection was called, and had not seen the film since it finally came out on DVD. I rediscovered in a roundabout way: I had visited Matsue and became very interested in the life and works of Lafcadio Hearn after visiting his home there.
The movie is somewhat reminiscent of a kabuki performance in that is slow and boring, with a beautiful visuals. It is interesting to me that after thirty years, I had absolutely no recollection of the second and fourth parts stories in this film. This time, I liked the fourth story the most, because the sets reminded me of places I had visited in Western Honshu (Matsue, Himeji, Hagi for example).
The DVD reproduces the original color of the film beautifully but adds absolutely nothing to the film in terms of bonus material except the original Japanese trailer and the fact that you can turn subtitles off. The subtitles are somewhat distracting and since the stories have practically no plot whatsoever I might have enjoyed Kwaidan more without them. If you are the sort of person who enjoys watching 8 hours of Noh drama sitting on your knees, you should buy this DVD.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Rentaro Mikuni
Michiyo Aratama

DVD title: No Looking Back
Productgroup: DVD
No Looking Back - movie DVD cover picture
I just wish I had seen it in the theater.

I'm a little late in jumping on the bandwagon to appreciate Ed Burns' work, but better late than never. The other day I caught She's the One on cable and found myself really interested in the characters and their lives. It wasn't a hysterical comedy, but it wasn't meant to be. Then I saw a trailer on some videotape I rented for another film by Burns (I still haven't been able to rent the Brothers McMullen, it's always out) called No Looking Back. I was skeptical about Jon Bon Jovi and I've never seen Lauren Holly do anything that I was really crazy about but it seemed intriguing.
I was so pleasantly surprised, expecting a nice little film to occupy a Sunday afternoon for a while, what I got was much more than that. What I notice, from the 2 Ed Burns features I have seen, is that he is equally adept at crafting very interesting, real, subtly strong characters for both women and men. It's also refreshing to see such realism because the predictable way to go for this story would have been this "happily ever after" ending with Claudia and Charlie being soul mates, or some saccharin crap like that. It's much more interesting to watch the effect of Charlie's return on the people of this small town with an optimistic but realistic ending. That's good writing that makes it all so much more meaningful and accessable for people watching. I can't wait to see what he does in the future, it's so rare to see someone who can write, direct and act without embarrassing himself in one capacity or another. Ed Burns was born to do what he is doing and I'm just glad that I get to sit back and watch.

Studio: Usa Films
Director: Edward Burns
Edward Burns
Lauren Holly
Jon Bon Jovi

DVD title: The Verdict
Productgroup: DVD
The Verdict - movie DVD cover picture
A Paean to Persistence

"The Verdict" opens in a bittersweet, comical way, in which PaulNewman's portrayal of the alcholic lawyer Frank Galvin sort of recalls Walter Matthau's "Whiplash Willie" Gingrich from Billy Wilder's "The Fortune Cookie" (1966). We see Galvin sink beneath the gutter as he presses his business cards into the palms of grieving mourners. But, similarities end there: Given the most unlikely circumstance -- a malpractice suit -- Galvin sees the light at the end of the tunnel, redemption for the sorry mess he's made of his life. This movie unfolds like a revelation, but slowly, so that along with Galvin, we discover the small shred of remaining integrity within him that rises up and becomes courage: He turns down an insurance settlement to do battle against two renowned physicians, a corrupt Boston cardinal (played by the great character actor Edward Binns), a corrupt judge (Milo O'Shea)and the city's largest, slickest, law firm, whose legal team is headed by James Mason, in his final role as the suave and cynical Concanon. Galvin's transformation from self-professed ambulance chaser to a true man of the bar fighting for nothing but justice is one of cinema's most inspiring performances, because Galvin *is* a weak man, set upon by demons from his failed past, and by fear of an uncertain future. Still, he trudges on, sinks his teeth in and never backs down, despite one unlucky turn after another: His star witness disappears, his hired "expert witness" has a second-rate medical background, and the judge strikes out almost every shred of evidence favourable to his case. Yet, through his conviction and sheer will power, Galvin convinces the jury of the malpractice commited against his client, a woman put in a coma bynegligent doctors.
Watching Frank's transformation is simply awe-inspiring, becausescreenwriter David Mamet wrote it so subtly, and because it happens to Newman over the course of the movie. There's no "light bulb look" that comes over him all of the sudden; Rather, we can see the dim flicker slowly and gradually burn to a raging flame.
Director Sidney Lumet brilliantly captured the human drama of "TheVerdict" by letting the actors and the dialogue carry the movie; It's far less cinematic than his earlier movies such as "Serpico" or "Twelve Angry Men." This really lets the viewer get into the characters: Not only do Newman and Mason shine, but Jack Warden (as his gruff mentor), Lindsey Crouse and Charlotte Rampling really help flesh out the movie and make it utterly believable through their conviction to character.
"The Verdict" ends properly: Laura Fischer(Rampling), who has seduced Frank and reluctantly betrayed him, telephones him to make amends. But Frank, stronger from the ordeal of his life, maintains his integrity, knowing who is on the other end of the line, never picks up. Now not only has his client won, but he's won back his soul. Straight cut to black, titles.
I was so taken by this movie, that I was certain that Newman and Mason won Oscars for their performances. I was wrong. In real life, justice does not always win the day.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Sidney Lumet
Paul Newman
Charlotte Rampling

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