Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: One True Thing
Productgroup: DVD
One True Thing - movie DVD cover picture
Very Realistic

I rented the video last night and couldn't wait to watch it. A little slow in a few places, but the incredible acting kept me interested. I laughed and cried. Watch it with a girl friend and make sure you have plenty of tissues!

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Carl Franklin
Meryl Streep
Renée Zellweger
William Hurt

DVD title: Sex and the City - The Complete Second Season
Productgroup: DVD
Sex and the City - The Complete Second Season - movie DVD cover picture
They're Back!!!

The ladies from New York City are back, and I, for one, am ecstatic! This is one of the most original on-the-money series about how women think and behave outside the company of men that has ever been created. Season one was all about getting to know the characters of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte, what makes them different and what bonds them together. Season Two is like returning to a group of old girfriends! We know these women, and live vicariously through their dating, professional and personal lives. "Sex..." has it all!- intelligent writing and characters, (not the bland caricatures so common in lesser quality TV series), realistic storylines, plus lots of sex, parties, frank talk and just plain fun! I can't wait to buy the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th seasons as well!! You will not be disappointed with this DVD collection!

Studio: HBO Home Video
Sex & The City
Sarah Jessica Parker

DVD title: Halloween II
Productgroup: DVD
Halloween II - movie DVD cover picture
A great sequal robbed of the respect it deserves

"Halloween II" picks up directly at the end of the original film, and sends survivor Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) to the hospital to nurse her wounds. Unfortunately for her and most of the cast, Micheal Myers follows. Donald Pleasence and Nancy Stephens also reprise their roles as well.Directed by Rick Rosenthal and scripted by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, "Halloween II" is a very respectable sequel. There is a lot more blood and gore in this one (which came in the post-"Friday the 13th" era), but unlike some of the later sequels, this one still has that "Halloween" feel about it. The finale is also very tense and wraps up the story pretty well -- you could view the original and this one without any of the other sequels and have a complete story.The DVD is presented in 2.35:1 ratio and does not contain any extras aside from some brief production notes. But the movie is good, and its a bargain price, so pick it up and make it a "Halloween" night.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Jamie Lee Curtis
Donald Pleasence

DVD title: The Lord Of The Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Lord Of The Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

I should start by saying that I enjoyed these movies VERY much.

Yet I was also frustrated by how Jackson and his creative partners seemed time and again to substitute Hollywood cliche in place of an unstinting fidelity to the great poetic vision of J.R.R. Tolkien.

I'm not a niggler, who'll pick at this detail and that as not being the same. At times, Jackson's additions are wonderful--especially when they added to the poetic nature of the story. Gandalf whispering to a moth atop Isengard. The vision of Arwen weeping beside the grave of Aragorn, and wandering alone in the forests of Lothlorien. Theoden reciting poetry just before he rides out to battle at Helm's deep. Each of these sent a chill up my spine.

Yet Jackson and his writers apparently felt that Tolkien's book was insufficiently exciting. He throws in lots of extra fighting. When Gandalf is imprisoned at Isengard, the two wizards have a knock-down drag out zapping contest. When Gandalf and company arrive at Meduseld, they have to knock a few heads together while Gandalf heals Theoden. A whole extra battle with the Warg-riders on the way to Helm's deep is thrown in (the whole episode of Aragorn's disappearance is also pure invention), and on and on.

All the bad guys have to be hyped--in ways that fundementally change our view of them. In Tolkien, Saruman was never a true ally of Sauron--rather he was trying to, perhaps logically from a certain point of view--use the Ring to set himself up and eventually vanquish Sauron. And Theoden was merely a beaten down old man, decieved by Worm-tongue, not physically "possessed" by Saruman! Same with Denathor, who's portrayed in the film as a really creepy guy with extremely bad table manners. Tolkien would be appauled.

Another problem Jackson seems to have with Tolkien is that he is insufficiently feminist. Turning the etherial vision of Arwen, as she is glimpsed by the hobbits at Rivendell, into an action hero, as is done in "Fellowship" undercuts Tolkien's worldview, as does the treatment of Eowyn. Jackson portrays her as one in a line of "shield maidens" of Rohan, who takes her rightful place alongside the men. In Tolkien, her desire to go to battle is a kind of madness--engendered by her unrequited love for Aragorn, and healed when she falls in love with Faramir. Jackson also wants to pump up the drama and conflict when it comes to his female characters. Thus he has Arwen agree to return across the sea, and Aragorn be tempted by Eowyn--both at odds with the original classic. Plus, what was all that about Arwen "starting to die"?

Anyone having seen these films must recognize that some of the novel's characters and plot lines had to be cut. But I resent every minute given to all these extra plot lines and additional fighting when I think of some of the things that were excluded, such as the Houses of Healing and the romance between Faramir and Eowyn.

Also Hollywood cliche is pandered to. There is certainly some humor in Gimli's character in Tolkien. But he's turned into the "funny side-kick" in this telling, with all the anachrononistic references to "dwarf-tossing" among other things. And the characters are given throw away lines equivalent to Schwarzenegger's "Hasta la vista baby" in "Termanator II". In Tolkien, Eowyn facing the Nazgul is a poignant scene, and when she says, "You look upon a woman, Eowyn I am, Eomund's daughter!", the feeling was a world away from her motion picture counterpart's in-your-face, "I'M NO MAN!!"

I could give as many examples again, but you get my point. I'm looking forward to the viewing the extended editions, though from what I've heard, they include both things that were in Tolkien, and things which were not (such as a completely different death for Saruman). Maybe I'll write another review after I've seen them.

We owe much gratitude to Peter Jackson for these movies. I just wish he's gone the extra mile in preserving the chivalrous spirit of Tolkien's masterpiece.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Elijah Wood

DVD title: A Family Affair
Productgroup: DVD
A Family Affair - movie DVD cover picture
#1 For a Reason Great Film

I thought I'd give DVDs for xmas gifts this year...So I went looking...Had to find a good lesbian flick for my friends...The number one lesbian film in the country this year on DVD was A Family could I trust other women who bought it before me? Was it as good as people said it was? Did the film festivals that named it best picture (on the cover) make the right choice? Was a high Amazon rating correct? The answer is:YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!!!! (hey and I do not say yes easily:) A Family Affair is finally a lesbian film that knows something about script writing and acting. This was a hilarious film combined with some ultra sexy actresses (who could act) and a story that had you wishing the film was three hours so you spend more time with the characters. You won't see those dreaded stereotypes or dull angst ridden girls or coming out issues...These girls have arrived and you are lucky get to enter their lives for two hours.The story is a well done take on a love torn girl, making her mind up between ex and current gf and learning about herself in the process. This is a fabulous film. The dinner scene of the girlfriends is a highlight. And if you read lesbian mags, like Curve, Girlfriends, you'll know this filmaking group that made A Family Affair has a new film coming out next year!!! A drama mixed with erotica, Now I know what I am buying for Christmas 2005! Can you say "INESCAPABLE"!!!!

Studio: Wolfe Video
Director: Helen Lesnick

DVD title: Wing Chun: The Science of In-Fighting
Productgroup: DVD
Wing Chun: The Science of In-Fighting - movie DVD cover picture
Still one of the best Instructionals on Wing Chun.

This instructional will guide any Wing Chun practitioner in the right direction. Wong Sheung Leung was one of the best Wing Chun practitioners and teachers out there. If you haven't seen this video yet do yourself a favor and buy it.

Studio: C.A.V. Distribution
Director: Woo-ping Yuen

DVD title: Oh My Goddess (Vol. 1)
Productgroup: DVD
Oh My Goddess (Vol. 1) - movie DVD cover picture
Goddesses, mallots and cars, oh my!

I won't go into the Aa! Megami-sama (Oh My Goddess to those of us who don't speak Japanese) story itself as numerous other sources have done a better job than I at that task... however, I would like to mention some of the neat features found on this disc.
First, there's the obligatory commentary track by three of the voice acting talents (the voices of Belldandy, Keiichi, and Skuld), which though perhaps less informative than those found in some live action films, makes a quite entertaining listening.
The audio options don't stop there, however. You can play the episodes in English, Japanese, or in "soundtrack only" mode, with the option of English subtitles. Switching to this last mode allows fans to "dub their own Oh My Goddess" according to the disc--so if you and your friends have seen this anime a few too many times, have fun giving your own rendition of the story!
The menus work well, allowing you to skip to a particular episode or a scene within an episode. The only extra I'd have liked to have seen that wasn't included would be an interview with the creator of Aa! Megami-sama.

Studio: AnimEigo
Director: Hiroaki Gôda

DVD title: Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

This film was truly wonderful. It is entertaining, gripping, and an all around great story. Definately a must own. One of Crowe's finest performances, next to "A Beautiful Mind".

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Peter Weir
Russell Crowe
Paul Bettany
James D'Arcy
Billy Boyd

DVD title: Pierrot Le Fou
Productgroup: DVD
Pierrot Le Fou - movie DVD cover picture
What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence

At my local UC PIERROT is shown in the survey of film history class they offer. I was invited to sit in once. Normally the professor shows the film, then lectures. He screened PIERROT. When it was over, there was total silence. He started to lecture, but almost the entire lecture hall of students walked out. A good friend told me later that she had been profoundly moved, and she simply didn't want to understand why. She didn't feel it was respectful to what she had just seen. PIERROT is on of the few examples of true mystical cinema that we have. Yes, there are the references to Rimbaud, Hollywood musicals, gangster films.... The visual puns, the references to Godard and Karina's life at the time, the improvisations, the barbs about American commercialism, the Gish-rebeling-against-Grifith quality of Karina's amazing performance... But what do they matter?
Sunlight/love/color/the face/poetry/emotion/loss of love/slapstick/image/life: PIERROT LE FOU

Studio: Fox Lorber
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Paul Belmondo
Anna Karina

DVD title: Saving Silverman (PG-13 version)
Productgroup: DVD
Saving Silverman (PG-13 version) - movie DVD cover picture
Absolute Brilliance

Saving Silverman is an incredible comedy about a controlling girlfriend breaking up a lifelong group of friends, and those friends don't take it lying down. Even though the film stars Jason Biggs, Jack Black and Steve Zahn steal the show. Jack Black might be the best comedic character actor of our time. This movie is a must have for fans of good comedy, maybe not high-brow, but good comedy. And by the way, how many Jack Black fans spotted KG of Tenacious D as the annoying magician who tries to pick up Amanda Peet? Oh well, the movie is hilarious, it has beautiful women, and good actors, what more can you ask for?

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Dennis Dugan
Steve Zahn
Jason Biggs

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