Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Mat Workout Based on the Work of J.H. Pilates
Productgroup: DVD
Mat Workout Based on the Work of J.H. Pilates - movie DVD cover picture

What I didn't like about this video was that Austin does not offer as thorough of an explanation of how your body is supposed to move, relying on you to figure it out from watching. And she does not offer modified versions of the exercise, so I was afraid to try some of the more difficult pilates poses-- which other videos have given me. I definitely think Austin is a great fitness instructor, and man, do I wish I had her abs! But if you're a knucklehead when it comes to workouts, try the Pilates - Mat Based Workout for Beginners instead. The instructor of that one made the exercises more obvious to me, explaining exactly what my body should be doing, and offering a way for me to get started right away, complete the whole workout, get the benefits, but not feel like a clumsy oaf.

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Denise Austin

DVD title: Spirited Away
Productgroup: DVD
Spirited Away - movie DVD cover picture

Until this movie came out, I had never seen an anime cartoon in my life. Even when the movie released in the theatres I didn't pay much attention to it. In 2003, I was watching the Oscars, and I discovered this movie won an award for the best animated feature. Curious to find out more about this movie, I decided to rent it and take a look at it. After watching "Spirited Away", I was in complete awe. This was one of the best animated movies that I had even seen!

"Spirited Away" is the story about a young girl Chihiro, who is moving to a new home with her parents. However, her father takes a `short-cut' during the trip, and somehow they end up in an abandoned theme park. While strolling through the park, Chihiro's parents smell something delicious, and find out that the restaurants in the parks are filled with mouth-watering food. They start gobbling up the food, while Chihiro gets worried, thinking that they are in big trouble. Soon the weather starts changing and Chihiro starts seeing apparitions walking around the park. Terrified, Chihiro runs to her parents to get out of the place, but is horrified to see that they have turned into pigs. She soon finds that she is now in a completely different world where the spirits walk the Earth, and through the help of her new found friend Haku, she has to survive in this strange land.

The main reasons why I liked this movie is because of:

i) (M)iyazaki's wonderful story: I would have never been introduced to watching Miyazaki's other movies if I had not seen this.
ii) (A)dventure: From cleaning the stinking River God, and taking care of `No Face', to her train journey in the end, this movie was filled with excitement and adventure.
iii) (G)reat Story: In a way, this movie is like `Alice in Wonderland'. Both the movies talk about a depressed and bored girl, who is suddenly transported into this strange fantasy world, where everything is different, and tries to find their way back. However, even though there are some similarities, I wouldn't call one a copy of another, because `Spirited Away' has a completely different charm to it, and is unique in its own way.
iv) (I)ntrigue: The story of this movie is very surreal, revolving around strange and mysterious characters (such as No Face) that keep us entertained.
v) (C)olorful: The animation for this movie is wonderful. It is like a breath of fresh air from other animated movies.
vi) (A)dequate Translation: I saw the English version of the movie, and didn't find it too bad. Daveigh Chase did a good job of giving voice to Chihiro, as did Suzanne Pleshette, Susan Egan and Jason Marsden for the other characters
vii) (L)ovely Background Score: Music plays an integral part in any movie, and the score for this movie is amazing.

The first letter of the above 7 points describes the whole movie in one word: MAGICAL (which it is). Therefore, for those who have not seen this movie as of yet, get it now and see it!

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Miyu Irino

DVD title: Patlabor 2
Productgroup: DVD
Patlabor 2 - movie DVD cover picture
If you liked Kido Keisatsu Patlabor 2, Get ready for no. 3!

Patlabor combines the elements of a fantasic story with the political stuggles faced by the modern world today. Much like a Tom Clancy novel, this is a masterpiece by Mamoru Oshii who also did GHOST IN THE SHELL (1995 Manga Video).
Oh break the news, I know that Patlabor 3 the movie is being made now and could possibly be showing in Japan already.
I'm not sure if it's made by HEAD GEAR so we will anticipate the great quality of animation delivered in the first two films!
Watch out for the third movie and if you know anything about it, e-mail me @

Studio: Ryko Distribution - Video
Director: Mamoru Oshii

DVD title: Central Station
Productgroup: DVD
Central Station - movie DVD cover picture
A brilliant showcase for Fernanda Montenegro

It seems to me that foreign films in recent years have seen more than their fair share of stories in which a crusty old person bonds with some cute kid. Of course you can trace this plot way past "Cinema Paradiso" back to Chaplin in "The Kid," so it is certainly a tried and true tale to be told. Which makes films like "Central Station" all the more remarkable because you would think this mine had been played out long ago. This Brazilian film by director Walter Salles offers the exquisite Fernanda Montenegro, who richly deserved an Oscar nomination. Her character is Dora, a barren soul who makes her money by writing letters for illiterates in Rio de Janeiro's Central Station. Dora reads the letters to her roommate and then throws them away. But then she meets Josue, played by Vinicius de Oliveira, a nine-year-old boy whose mother has just died. Circumstances are contrived by which Dora takes Josue on a bus trip to return him to his father. This fateful journey does not consist of big confrontations but small moments, each of which begins to peck away at Dora's cold exterior. Perhaps the greatest testament to this performance is to simply point out that the cute kid never really manages to steal a scene away from Montenegro. More than anyone else, she elevates "Central Station" to its heights.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Walter Salles
Fernanda Montenegro
Vinícius de Oliveira

DVD title: The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
The definitive version

There are so many reasons to own this version I can't touch on them all here. The new 30 minutes of footage are used well. It slows the pace of the film down, making the film feel less frantic, so that when you're in the Shire, you get to dwell there a bit longer, absorbing the feel of the place and getting to know more about the peaceful ways of the Hobbits. Much more detail is given about Middle Earth, taking it a step closer to Tolkien's vision.
Lothlorien, which seemed all but glossed over in the theatrical release, is seen as it should be from afar, golden and mysterious, and we're given the added pleasure of spending a bit more time there. At last we get to see the gifts of the elves, which makes sense later when they are used. It is wonderful to see each of the Fellowship's interaction with Galadriel (Cate Blanchett,) who is given considerably more screen time.
The hints of Tolkien's fondness of songs and the shots of the band of hobbits and men sharing meals around the fire serve to fill in the feel of the books,as well as deepen character development. Both Aragorn and Borimir's character are more fleshed out by the added scenes.
Then there are scenes of great beauty, such as the Sam and Frodo's first glimpse of the elves, which may not advance the plot, but are breathtakingly gorgeous.
This is a rich, must-have item to watch over and over. Image and sound are first rate. An added bonus is the appendices, which are voluminous and informative. In here you'll find everything you wanted to know aboiut how this film was put together, from conception to finished production. Everything about this version is first class, even the elaborate packing, replete with gorgeous drawings from the world of Tolkien. Highly recommended

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Peter Jackson
Ian McKellen

DVD title: Coyote Ugly
Productgroup: DVD
Coyote Ugly - movie DVD cover picture
My Favorite Movie

The strengths of this DVD are : 1) A nice storyline which shows how a country girl tries to survive in NY. 2) Nice music eg. Can't fight the moonlight, etc. throughout the show. 3) Girl-Appeal esp. the innocence of Piper Perabo and the sensuality of the coyotes. 4) Romance with a nice ending :) 5) various commentaries on the movie 6) music video of 'can't fight the moonlight'

Studio: Touchstone Video
Director: David McNally (II)
Piper Perabo
Adam Garcia

DVD title: Pilates Workout for Dummies
Productgroup: DVD
Pilates Workout for Dummies - movie DVD cover picture
Excellent Beginner's DVD

I gave this tape away after using only twice. I didn't find it challenging at all. For someone who has been working out for a while, I would suggest Winsor Accelerated Body Sculpting Pilates. However, I feel the Pilates for Dummies video can be very beneficial to beginners and those who are just starting out on Pilates.

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
For Dummies
Michelle Dozois

DVD title: High Fidelity
Productgroup: DVD
High Fidelity - movie DVD cover picture
Finally, My Wife Understands Me!

My wife actually watched this before I did and she said she could finally understand why I was so obsessed with music. Of course, I then had to immediately watch it and she was dead on the money!! Such a witty script and winning performances make this the pinnacle of John Cusack's career (which is really saying something). Along with "Almost Famous," this movie does the best job of showing exactly how POWERFUL music can be in someone's life, especially for a geek like me. Who else but seriously depraved people make Top 5 lists?!

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Stephen Frears
John Cusack

DVD title: Unbreakable (Vista Series)
Productgroup: DVD
Unbreakable (Vista Series) - movie DVD cover picture
Excellent film, Tightly Packaged

Immensely enjoyable, tightly presented, and even the edits are sensible.
Usually, I find that at least some deleted scene is a studio ripout of a key scene. This was done so tightly, that it all made total sense; however, the sense also had an incredibly visceral side. The one element that sticks out in the worst possible way is the bone breaks that the baby, the child, and the adult, played by Jackson , goes through... kind of an OUUUUCH, that GOTTA hurt, sort of feel.
Most of the action seems to be about Willis's characters journey, however, in a very sudden twist, we discover that this is a journey of a dualistic kind.
In many respects this is a reductionist version of a superhero style story.
However you view it, this film will leave you with some degree of impact, and you will undoubtedly take sides. It is absolutely brilliant escapism.


Studio: Touchstone Video
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Bruce Willis
Samuel L. Jackson

DVD title: Revolutionary Girl Utena - The Rose Collection Vol. 1
Productgroup: DVD
Revolutionary Girl Utena - The Rose Collection Vol. 1 - movie DVD cover picture
"For the Revolution of the World . . . "

This boxed set is the so-called "Student Council saga" of the Utena TV series. It chronicals Utena's introduction into the mystery of the Ohtori Academy and her duels with the 5 student council members. This is the most straightforard of the 4 sagas. It only dips into all the mystery, in which this series is engulfed. It is a SHOJO series, which means that it was originally aimed at young girls. But don't let that turn you away; I have found that SHOJO series are often the best anime has to offer, possibly because what young girls watch in Japan and what young girls watch here are completely different (I think this series has a 13+ rating). But don't think of it as a "girls' series." Think of it as a cross of THE X-FILES with SAILOR MOON with some soap opera elements tossed in for good measures. As I have said before, there is A LOT of symbolism and mystery in this series: Who is End of the World? Who will be the one to bring revolution to the world? What is the significance of the Rose Bride? Why is Miki always timing things with his stopwatch? (Ok, so the last question is never actually answered.) This series gets better and better with every episode, until the SHOCKING conclusion in ep. 39 (this is only the first 13 episodes, the rest hasn't been liscensed yet). I highly recommend this series: it's my favorite of all time (higher than Sailor Moon). Buy this! Maybe Software Sculptors will liscence the rest of the series if enough people do!

Studio: Cpm/Software Sculptors
Revolutionary Girl Utena

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