Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Zulu (Michael Caine)
Productgroup: DVD
Zulu (Michael Caine) - movie DVD cover picture
ZULA stands the test of time for sheer guts

This film is based on a true story about an undermanned British army outpost facing an advancing force of Zulu warriors forty times greater in number.
Stanley Baker as Lt. John Chard, an engineer sent to the post to construct a bridge, takes command. Much out of his element, he commands the infantrymen relying on his dormant leadership qualities and self-doubting fortitude. How he manages that task and if he succeeds or fails is the essence of the story.
The battle scenes of the outnumbered British against the Zulu warriors are spectacularly and excitingly filmed as they try to overrun the compound. From a filmmaking standpoint, it is interesting how the Zulu warriors are portrayed in a more noble fashion than their counterpart British soldiers who are portrayed somewhat in a cliched manner.
John Barry's excellent score brings the intensity of the battle sequences and heroics to an almost euphoric frenzy.
However callous this may sound, Cy Endfield's insightful direction demonstrates to the viewer the uncommon qualities of bravery that can only be brought to fruition through war.
This is an excellent film.

Studio: Front Row Video, Inc
Director: Cy Endfield
Richard Burton
Stanley Baker
Jack Hawkins

DVD title: F. Chopin - 24 Etudes for Piano Op.10 , Op 25
Productgroup: DVD
F. Chopin - 24 Etudes for Piano Op.10 , Op 25 - movie DVD cover picture
a magnificent production

In my forty years of collecting recordings, I have acquired or heard at least a couple of dozen versions of the complete Chopin Etudes. The first thing I can say is that even if this recording by Valentina Lisitsa were an audio-only CD, I would still be very happy to own it. I would place it among my top two versions, the other being by Juana Zayes. Lisitsa is not only magnficent technically and tonally, but is much more musically compelling, and plays with much greater imagination, than such famous pianists as Maurizio Pollini (dull and colorless) or Vladimir Ashkenazy (who rarely offers anything more than mere competence). Her interpretations are personal, but never sound willful or mannered.

Add to this the stunning video production and excellent, rich sound, and this becomes a truly exceptional document. The camera work is breathtakingly imaginative, with beautiful lighting and multiple camera angles that exchange or crossfade into one another, never haphazardly or randomly, but always in a way that illuminates the technical demands of the particular Etude being played and enhances the musical experience. This DVD is a magnificent achievement, and I recommend it highly.

Studio: Valal Productions

DVD title: A Clockwork Orange
Productgroup: DVD
A Clockwork Orange - movie DVD cover picture

I just watched "A Clockwork Orange" again for the first time in fourteen years. The last time I watched it I was only 15, so clearly my impression of it at this point in my life is different. Even at 15, I found the violence to be disturbing and not at all funny, and understood on some level that the main characer, Alex, despite his "rehabilitation", still had to pay the price for the vicious crimes he commits in the beginning of the film. At 29, this karmic theme makes even more sense to me. Despite being rendered incapable of violence due to the experimental treatment he receives, Alex still doesn't understand the consequences of his actions, and can't see his crimes from the perspective of his victims. So although the government's "treatment" may keep violent criminals from committing more violent crimes, it does nothing to treat the spiritual illness of a society who still, at it's core, rewards aggressiveness and believes that "might makes right".

What I certainly didn't appreciate at 15 were the stunning and provocative visuals of the film. Instead of creating a future full of high-tech gadgets, Kubrick fills the scenary with imagery suggesting mannequin-like sexuality and soulless, tacky modernism. Even Alex's gang uniform (lipstick, false eyelash, jockstrap, combat boots) suggests phony, plastic beauty combined with aggressiveness and insanity.

Although I believe that "Clockwork" and "Eyes Wide Shut" are the only Kubrick films I've seen so far, I can see from both of these brilliant films why he's widely considered to be a genius filmmaker.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Malcolm McDowell
Patrick Magee

DVD title: Lost Highway
Productgroup: DVD
Lost Highway - movie DVD cover picture

*SPOILERS*the theme of this movie is male obsession and posessiveness - the saxaphonist controls his wife obsessively (what are you going to do? read? what are you going to read?) - she barely has any personality left -but when she morphs into the blond Patricia Arquette she plays what would have been in the 40's or 50's the typical noir black widow heroine ... who manipulates the mechanic - but Lynch turns the femme fatale icon (undoubtedly a male invention) around in an ironic, postmodern sense - here she is a figure who can't be controled by a male - when she tosses the car keys to the mechanic and says, "you drive," she is stating, I'll give you the illusion of control, but I'm obviously really in control - Even more explicitly, she tells him, you can't have me - and that's when he morphs back into the saxaphonist - when he realizes he indeed can't control another human being - which he of course needed to realize in his original incarnation but didn't - also when Mr. eddy is done away with - mr. eddy is a projection of his rage and jealosy - his jealousy is done away with, expiated - but it's too late - he killed his wife - so that his screaming realization at the end is that he takes responsibility but it's too late - either that or he's still self-deluded but realizes he can't escape his fate (the cops closing in)- anyway, I think it really is about a man trying to come to terms with his lethal posessiveness - but too late - one possible interpretation of many, I realize...

Director: David Lynch
Bill Pullman
Patricia Arquette

DVD title: Willow (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Willow (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

This movie is just great! If you enjoy fantasy, you'll love it! (If you don't, well then...try it and see.) The acting is well done, with a marvelous performance by, of all people, the baby Elora Danan. She is just so cute! The music from this movie, by James Horner, also deserves 5 stars. A wonderfully imaginative story with a fully developed and believable plot.

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Director: Ron Howard
Val Kilmer
Joanne Whalley
Warwick Davis

DVD title: Earthscapes
Productgroup: DVD
Earthscapes - movie DVD cover picture
Beautiful background video

This was done by David Fortney, a master of time-lapse photography and is a technical tour de force. The music fits-in very well, but I often will just let it play as a moving artwork. Someone else claimed the video quality was bad, but I suspect a faulty player - it looks great on mine ! If you like video as artwork, check out "Canyon Dreams" and "True North", both on the Miramar label.

Studio: Simitar Video

DVD title: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Criterion Collection (2-Disc Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Criterion Collection (2-Disc Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
A excellent film

I'll keep it short and sweet:

Murray did a great job of being sad and resigned to the world. The soundtrack was wonderful. Lots of dark humor and intellegent humor. Very subtle. This is what films are about.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Wes Anderson
Bill Murray
Owen Wilson
Cate Blanchett
Anjelica Huston

DVD title: Devil Bat
Productgroup: DVD
Devil Bat - movie DVD cover picture
Perhaps the Definitive Version of This Lugosi Classic

Among horror fans, Lugosi fans, and fans of psychotronic films in general, "The Devil Bat" holds a special place. Made by poverty row studio PRC in 1940, the film is a wonderfully ridiculous chiller about a mad scientist (Lugosi, of course)who takes revenge on his double-crossers (no, not the producers of this movie) by enlarging a normal bat to gigantic proportions through electrical treatments and using a new shaving lotion he perfected as the bait to attract the bat to its victim. ...)...
The film has kicked around the public domain for the last decade or so, with the result that VHS prints of it were either excellent or hardly watchable. DVD versions in general have been clear, but this version beats the others and comes close to being a definitive version of the picture, if one is possible.
Released by the Lugosi estate, "The Devil Bat" is the first in a proposed series of definitve versions of Lugosi films. (The unjustly overlooked "Bowery at Midnight" is the second movie in this series.)Extras on this DVD include stills from the movie, a poster card (very well done), and a commentary track featuring Bela Junior and film historian Ted Newsom. The commentary track is a laugh in itself as the two quickly run out of things to say about the movie (in fact, one wonders if Bela Jr. even saw it before this)and switch topics to Bela Junior's memories of life with father. As he provides some unusual insight into the life of his father, the commentary track is a must for all Lugosi fans, and, combined with the price, makes for one of the biggest bargains for film fans.

Studio: Gotham Distribution
Director: Jean Yarbrough
Bela Lugosi

DVD title: The Lost Boys
Productgroup: DVD
The Lost Boys - movie DVD cover picture
ive seen this so many times...

i cannot count...since i was very young ive always loved this movie. my moms is a big vampire fan so im into sci fi flicks etc etc...but this is classic material.. bu-tee-fullPeashmik

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Joel Schumacher
Jason Patric
Corey Haim

DVD title: Night of the Living Dead
Productgroup: DVD
Night of the Living Dead - movie DVD cover picture
Night Of The Living Dead -Tom Savini

"A must see for every horror fan to see!" -Dr. Donald Reed, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

It's a new night for terror...and a new dawn in horror movie making when special effects genius Tom Savini brings modern technology to this colorful re-make of George A. Romero's 1968 cult classic.

Seven strangers are trapped in an isolated farmhouse while cannibalistic zombies awakened from death by the return of a radioactive space probe-wage a relentless attack, killing (and eating) everyone in their path. The classic for the '90's: graphic, gruesome and more terrifying than ever!

A definite addition to any true "horror" fan's collection.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Tom Savini
Tony Todd
Patricia Tallman

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