Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Big Blue (Director's Cut)
Productgroup: DVD
The Big Blue (Director's Cut) - movie DVD cover picture
Water, Water Everywhere

I have never been so blown away by any film's ending as I was by this one. It's worth it to sit through hours of the most gorgeous underwater cinematography (I've) ever seen just to get to the conclusion. I have seen a lot of visually stunning movies in my pursuit of an engrossing experience but this tops them all. Regardless of your opinion of the caliber of some of Luc Besson's other efforts (5th Element comes to mind) you really should at least rent this movie. It's a shame that most video stores that stock it do not stock the Director's Cut. It is the story of a man, a free-diver by trade, obsessed by dolphons. Allusions are made throughout to his supernatural connection to this special mammal. Rosanna Arquette falls in love with him and watches his attachment to the sea and the dolphins in it grow until it threatens to consume their relationship.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Luc Besson
Rosanna Arquette
Jean-Marc Barr
Jean Reno

DVD title: Streets of Fire
Productgroup: DVD
Streets of Fire - movie DVD cover picture
Streets of Fire

This is a great film. It's not the most thought provoking film ever made but it never pretends to be either. The set designs are terrific, Michael Pare is a great hero and the direction is pacey. Diane Lane is quite possibly the most fantastically sexy leading lady ever in this movie, the concert scenes are incredible, especially the opening song. There's a lot of atmosphere in this flick, the '50's styling with '8o's music works well - the neon drenched, rain soaked streets are a joy to behold in the DVD transfer of the film. Streets of Fire is a much underrated film, and in my opinion much the best thing Walter Hill ever made. Everyone who had a hand in making it should be proud. It should take pride of place in any movie buff's collection.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Walter Hill
Michael Paré
Diane Lane

DVD title: Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (Unrated Extended Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (Unrated Extended Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
What an Awesome Movie!!!!!!!!!!!

I loved this movie so much that it made me want to go to White Castle the next day; I even bought the soundtrack! The whole entire movie, from beginning to end, was just hilarious. I haven't laughed so much since "Dumb and Dumber" came out in theaters. I can't wait for the dvd to come out! Although the movie had a simple plot, it still kept the audience laughing and engaged till the end. Hope there's a sequel coming out soon.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Danny Leiner
John Cho
Kal Penn

DVD title: In The Mood For Love
Productgroup: DVD
In The Mood For Love - movie DVD cover picture
Beautiful and Profoundly Sad

This is one of the most complete DVD packages I have ever seen ... something that couldn't have happened to a nicer film.
This package is one of few that takes advantage of what the DVD medium promised when it was launched. In the same small package all DVDs come in, the producers of In the Mood for Love somehow manage to include an array of the movie's trailers and posters from around the world, interviews with the major actors and director Wong Kar-wai, a second short film produced by Mr. Wong, an alternate ending to the story that had been under consideration, and director's commentary about all of it, along with a variety of subtitle options. There is also a special booklet that has the translated short story the film was based on, an essay about the film by a well-known Hong Kong critic and a very interesting (if unevenly translated) essay about the setting for the film by a local historian. All in all, a really amazing collection of information.
Of course, none of that would matter if the film it was all based on wasn't so darn good.
The story is wonderfully understated, told with deft simplicity and a delicate hand. On the surface, it's a relatively simple tale about two couples in neighboring Hong Kong apartments in 1962. Through circumstantial evidence, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan discover that their always-on-the-road spouses are having an affair -- a discovery that comes into focus as the stay-at-home half of each couple discovers the attraction each has for the other.
But the beauty of this film comes more from what is left out than what is put in. The dialogue is sparse, and the acting is elegantly austere. The faces of the unfaithful spouses aren't shown at all during the film, and the film's main conflict comes not when Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan discover they are being cheated on but when they fail to react the way most would expect.
Add to that unusual camera angles that at times pull the viewer into the scene and a haunting soundtrack guaranteed to stay in mind hours after the end of the film. The final result is a film that feels like a blend between an old classic and a modern masterwork, a recipe for great entertainment.

Director: Kar Wai Wong
Tony Leung Chiu Wai
Maggie Cheung

DVD title: Persuasion
Productgroup: DVD
Persuasion - movie DVD cover picture
I always anticipate the time I can watch it again!

Persuasion is a compelling film. I love watching two people who are meant to be together stay faithful and be rewarded in the end. Can you imagine how excellent the kiss is when they have finally given themselves permission to be together for the rest of their lives. I get the chills everytime! Love is powerful, this movie portrays it as such. I can't wait to watch it again.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Roger Michell
Amanda Root
Ciarán Hinds
Susan Fleetwood

DVD title: Blood Guts Bullets & Octane
Productgroup: DVD
Blood Guts Bullets & Octane - movie DVD cover picture
Really great rental!

Rented this film the other night and was duly impressed! This film looks like it was made for about 5 bucks, but it really packs a punch! Great dialogue and acting and the story knocked me out. I can't believe this film hasn't gotten more notice.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Joe Carnahan

DVD title: America - A Tribute to Heroes (Telethon Broadcast)
Productgroup: DVD
America - A Tribute to Heroes (Telethon Broadcast) - movie DVD cover picture
Intense Emotion -- Great Performances

The intense (mostly hidden) emotion combined with great performances make this a must-have DVD. Neil Young is one of my favorite musicians and his singing of "Imagine" is great -- spot on and heart felt. Another exceptional performances is Billy Joel singing "New York State of Mind". Limp Bizkit and John Rzeznik do a surprisingly good job singing "Wish You Were Here" (originally from Pink Floyd, my favorite group). There are so many, I could list almost all of them, but look on the contents list for U2, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Sheryl Crow, Paul Simon and Willie Nelson. Not to mention the cameos by top Hollywood actors. A wonderful experience that is as moving as "It's a Wonderful Life", only this is REAL.

Studio: Wea/Warner Bros.

DVD title: The Cooler
Productgroup: DVD
The Cooler - movie DVD cover picture
Once upon a time...

It didn't take me very long into my first viewing of THE COOLER to realize that what I was watching was a fairy tale, rather than the action/drama that I had been expecting. However, as fairy tales go, THE COOLER is a rather stylish one and Maria Bello makes a particularly shiny fairy princess, albeit one with a dirty face in the early part of this movie. The subject of this particular fairy tale are the mythical properties of luck and the moral of the story--if you wish to call it that--is the redemptive power of love. The subject and moral are not particularly profound; however they are quite appropriate to the genre.

William H. Macy plays (as he often does) the loveable loser (Bernie), perpetually down on his luck to the extent that his bad luck perpetuates itself to all those unfortunate enough to be in his immediate vicinity. The malediction surrounding Bernie is consistent enough to be of use to Shelly (Alec Baldwin), the old-school casino owner and ogre of this fairy tale. Shelly employs Bernie to haunt his casino turning hot tables cold and winners into losers.

The initially unlikely coupling of Bernie and Natalie (the cocktail waitress) causes a disturbance in Bernie's dark force, causing his powers to become diminished and inconsistent. Her eventual declaration of love to him turns his luck around completely to the extent that those now fortunate enough to be in his vicinity instantly become winners, etc. Naturally, Shelly is none too pleased with this turn of events.

As you can guess by this review, THE COOLER is a different kind of movie than your standard Hollywood fare. At its core, however, it is a very standard (and somewhat sweet) love story, though the hero and heroine of this love story are surrounded by the considerable amount of evil that is always present in the most gothic of fairy tales. In the end, this is a very satisfying film for those enjoy something just a little bit different.

Jeremy W. Forstadt

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

DVD title: Millennium Actress
Productgroup: DVD
Millennium Actress - movie DVD cover picture
Best work by Aoshi Kon so far!

This is one of the best anime movie, period. The editing and story telling style is extremely sophisticated. Better than 99.5% of movies produced in Hollywood these days. It is a shame Dreamworks did not put out a soundtrack CD. I had to paid $35 and order one from a Japanese Bookstore here in LA. If you are still wondering what is all the fuss about Anime, this should be the movie that convince you animation is just as capable, if not better in telling an engaging story.

Studio: Dreamworks
Director: Satoshi Kon
Miyoko Shôji
Shôzô Îzuka

DVD title: The Adventures of Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark/The Temple of Doom/The Last Crusade) - Widescreen
Productgroup: DVD
The Adventures of Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark/The Temple of Doom/The Last Crusade) - Widescreen - movie DVD cover picture
Indy arrives on DVD

Tom Selleck, Sean Young and Danny DeVito star in the new DVD release of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Selleck glides through his role as Indiana Jones. Young is perky and involving as his former love interest Miriam. DeVito blusters and bumbles his way through his supporting role as Indy's best friend Sallah.
Oh to be in that alternate universe and see that film. This is a glimpse into what might have been if Spielberg and Lucas had had their way in casting Raiders of The Lost Ark (it's discussed in the extras on the fourth disc. See below for more information). Luckily, neither one was available so we got stuck with Harrison Ford and the marvelous John Rhys-Davies. Both were originally penciled in the roles played by Harrison Ford and John Rhys-Davies. Indiana Jones really needs to look into a solid life insurance policy. All three of his big screen adventures come roaring to life on the Indiana Jones Trilogy boxed set released by Paramount. These seminal films capture the excitement of the films that producer/creator George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg grew up watching as kids. While all three films have all the energy and stunts like the serials and B-Movie adventures that the two grew up , they also have a wit, charm and sense of irony missing from the era that bred Indy's predecessors.
Raiders is probably the best loved of the three films. Indy (Harrison Ford)is called in by the US government when it is discovered that Hitler is digging in Egypt to find The Ark of the Covenant. The dig is being led by Indy's rival the amoral Belloq. Complicating matters is a medallion. The Staff of Ra shows the the location of the Well of Souls and the only person that could have it is his jilted lover Miriam (Karen Allen). When he goes to Nepal to get it, the Nazis show up there as well.
She's still bitter about the end of their relationship and wants in as a partner on this adventure. Indy travels to Egypt to enlist the assistance of his friend Sallah (John Rhys-Davies)in retrieving the Ark.
The transfer for Raiders looks a bit rough and it's actually not the best looking film of the bunch. That's no surprise given the age of the film, the stock it was shot on, etc. Although this is digitally remastered with digital clean up, I think the laserdisc edition looks slightly better. Still, to have the entire film on one disc is a big plus and it looks worlds better than the VHS widescreen released a couple of years ago.
Temple of Doom is actually the first film chronologically but the second made. It's set in India where Indy must battle an evil cult that is worshipping the goddess Kali. The cult has also been enslaving the local population's children making them dig for the sacred stones lost when the cult was destroyed by British troops some time before.
A marvelous transfer with some minor digital and analog blemishes, Doom captures your attention from the opening song and dance number Anything Goes sung in Chinese. Although Kate Capshaw's character Willie is annoying (Lucas claims the dark tone of the film and the relationships were influenced by his ongoing divorce), Spielberg makes the set pieces the real stars of the film. The chase in the mine is a classic and was the basis for the Disney ride.
The Last Crusade is actually quite daring. Returning to the formula of the first film, Spielberg and screenwriter Jeffrey Boam turn the formula inside out in many respects. Spielberg had always wanted to make a Bond film (which is how he ended up making Raiders)so what better way to spice up the third film by casting Sean Connery (James Bond)in the role of Indy's headstrong father Professor Henry Jones.
While the first film is humorous, there's an adult humor at work here as well. Last Crusade deals with a lot of serious themes but in an entertaining manner. The opening sequence with the late River Phoenix playing the young Indy is a blast. We learn a bit about why Indy became the person he did. It's a brilliant gambit and adds considerable depth to the third film. While not as popular as Raiders, the character development and depth of the script is significantly greater than Raiders.
Last Crusade looks terrific although I did note some problems with picture crawl and some minor edge enhancement issues. It still looks and sounds great regardless of the minor flaws.
The interactive menu for all three films is quite clever; the images change from a "sketch" of what a character or scene would look like to the actual image from the film.
The fourth disc has all the extras. There's a number of featurettes on the stunts, opticals and music of the film. I was most interested, though, in the feature length documentary (which can also be viewed in three aparts to compliment the films). There's audition footage of Tom Selleck and Sean Young, Karen Allen and Tim Matheson as well as quite a bit of footage shot on the set during the sequence in the Well of Souls. Watching that footage wiil give you new respect for snake handlers.
On the whole Indy has never looked so good. Although I felt that Raiders didn't look quite as good as the other films, that's just a matter of critical opinion. The transfer looks exceptional despite some limitations/blemishes inherent in the DVD transfer process. Highly recommended.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Harrison Ford

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