Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Ben-Hur
Productgroup: DVD
Ben-Hur - movie DVD cover picture

Ben Hur is truly an epic of grand proportions. The sets are huge, the extras are plenty, the props immense. That aside, it's the characters and the human drama that make this a great movie. The characters are well developed, and the different themes make this a great spectacle to watch. I even like the way they made Hugh Griffith look middle eastern by painting him brown! This film has great acting, great characters, great sets, great cinematography and great music. Highly recommended.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: William Wyler
Charlton Heston
Jack Hawkins
Stephen Boyd

DVD title: Casino
Productgroup: DVD
Casino - movie DVD cover picture
True classic story showing rise and fall of a casino.

We know right from the beginning that the movie does not end hapilly. We see Ace Rothstein walking to his car, dressed ostentatiosly. It blows up into flames when he starts the ignition. The flames on the screen then make a transition into the bright lights of the Las Vegas casinos and the story begins.
Notice the theme of greed causing people's downfall in this movie. The rich Japanese man that comes into their casino walks away with a fortune in winnings. But they bring him back and he bets small and still wins. But because of his greed, his perception is that he's losing $90,000 a hand instead of winning $10,000. So he increases his bets and loses all his former winnings plus an extra million dollars. Then there are the two guys cheating at the blackjack tables. Ace says that they could have gotten away with it if they weren't so greedy. They beat his hand in with a hammer in the back room and told his buddy to spread the word that the casino was no joke anymore. Ultimately, the greed of the whole casino crew will cause its downfall.
If you've ever read "The Great Gatspy" you'll see a lot of similar themes in this movie. Ace Rothstein reminds me of the wealthy, ostentatious Gatspy. Rothstein says that in Vegas, "love costs money." He buys his wife Ginger over a million dollars worth of jewlery to get her to marry him. She shows off the jewlery to her daughter as testimony to how much he must love her. Nicki reminds me of Wolfsheim who is behind Gatpsy and whose corruption and brutality are profound.
There was one part of the movie I totally did not understand. Ace is sitting at his office desk when his secretary calls him saying the state commisioner is there to see him. He says to send him in then call him back four minutes later. Ace then stands up, revealing that he is fully dressed in a suit and shoes and everything but pants. He then walks to his closet and puts pants on. He has a talk with the commisioner whose relative he fired for complete incompetence. The secretary calls him as instructed and he says "ok" and hangs up. What was this all about?
The story builds up and gradually unravels. You can see it's going to fall apart. Besides the beginning part about Ace being blown up in his car, there's Nicki's uncontrolled brutality and rebellion from the law and disregard for "the bosses back home" that gets out of control. Then there's Phil Green. He's the casino's "clean front man" who poses as the president of the casino but doesn't really do anything. He turns out to be a real estate hustler and one of his affairs goes awry exposing the corruption of the casino. Ace is initially attracted to Ginger when he sees her on the casino surveilance stealing money from a man she's with. He argues with her then she starts throwing stacks of his chips in the air. As if this weren't a bad enough indication, Ace marries her after she turns him down saying she doesn't love him. He basically talks her into it with the promise of money. Later, Ginger's drug problems and leech of an ex-boyfriend will contribute to the decline of the story. Rothstein's ego becomes "bigger than his casino" as Nicki put it and their relations begin to break down. The FBI strikes the coup de grace as they finally come in and shut down the casino.
I find the saddest part of the story about Ace Rothstein. He just wanted to run a legitamite casino. He's great at what he does and he's so committed to doing his job right. He failed only because he didn't play "the game" with the corrupt governement officials and the Union bosses who gave him the money to run the casino. He even cares about his daughter, unlike Ginger. She kidnapped her just to get money from Ace. He even loved his wife and put up with her longer than you would think he'd be able to. His life was only spared because there was a steel plate under the car where the bomb was placed. As it turned out he thinks he "knew who lit the fuse"-- his long time friend Nicki. In the end, Rothstein goes back to where he started. Picking winners in sporting events for gambling. You have to question whether he served a useful purpose to society. Sure, a casino is entertainment for people, but as Ace tells us, the real purpose in Las Vegas is to get your money. Even though the corrupt casino was taken over, it was just replaced by another one where parents gamble away their kid's college savings, as he said. But still, Ace Rothstein stands as the greatest character in the movie.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Martin Scorsese
Robert De Niro
Sharon Stone
Joe Pesci

DVD title: Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow
Productgroup: DVD
Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow - movie DVD cover picture
Dr Syn, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh

The quality of the movie was ahead of it's time because everytime it aired it was like the movie was recently made because of the clarity of the film. Disney had several series such as Gallagher and Toby Tyler but none of them was the equal of the Scarecrow. Patrick McGoohan went on to do Secret Agent, the Prisoner and several episodes of Columbo but his best role was the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. I anxiety look forward to the release to DVD.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: James Neilson

DVD title: Baby's Day Out
Productgroup: DVD
Baby's Day Out - movie DVD cover picture
Leonard Maltin didn't get it! But you could...

Ok, then, let's start with the fact that Leonard Maltin thought this is a bomb. He didn't like the cartoonish aspect of it, which John Hughes originally used in his "Home Alone" series, or the fact that John Hughes repeated himself.
I view it differently. I see it as John Hughes creating a Kubrick-esque final statement on live cartoons. The film is hilarious at moments, even after watching it several times. The most amazing thing is the performance of the two young principals, the Worton twins. The director, by whatever magic, manages to infuse the "Baby Bink" performances with wit, and a significant tongue-in-cheek aspect. Yes, the gonads on fire joke is a bit on the nose, but the way John Hughes takes it to the extreme of this movie, who would dare to try and top that? And how could you even accomplish such a feat?
In any event, this movie is a delight. And if you are curious about the process of making it, including some of the most incredible stunts performed by none other than Vern "Mini-Me" Troyer (uncredited as an actor, but mentioned on several occasions by the director in the commentary), listen to the commentary and laugh about the process, too!

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Patrick Read Johnson
Joe Mantegna
Lara Flynn Boyle

DVD title: Afterglow
Productgroup: DVD
Afterglow - movie DVD cover picture
An intelligent movie about lust, love and finding each other

A slow, intelligent and witty film, Afterglow is perhaps one of the better testament about falling out of love and back. Julie Christie gives a moving performance as a washed-up actress looking back at her heydays and wondering where it all went. Nick Nolte playing her philandering husband certainly displays his devilish charm that makes him both irresistible in movies and in real life. But perhaps one of the most understated roles is that of Lara Flynn Boyle. She plays the dissatisfied housewife looking for a little sexual excitement that her husband (Johnny Miller) has failed to give her. She's quirky, sexy, and wonderful to watch. For anybody who wants to see a moving and wonderful love story, they should really see this film.

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Alan Rudolph
Nick Nolte
Julie Christie

DVD title: Pippin
Productgroup: DVD
Pippin - movie DVD cover picture
William Katt is wonderful!

This is a fantastic peice of work. Pippin is a beautiful story. This version is wonderful! William Katt, Ben Vereen, and everyone, they're wonderful! I can't say it enough. I love this version of it. If by some chance William Katt or Ben Vereen should ever read this, you are wonderful and I love your work! And stupid as it sounds, you are beautiful William Katt and I love you and best wishes for the future!

Studio: Vci Home Video
Director: David Sheehan

DVD title: Charly
Productgroup: DVD
Charly - movie DVD cover picture
Poignant love story

Not as melodramatic as Love Story/Ali McGraw Ryan O'Neal. A story for any one whom has almost lost a love for reason of differing faiths or absence of. The conflict here is attraction of opposites, and then boy meets girl, almost loosing girl then outcome is forever. This is for the romantic spirit, the true believer. Not only for the "Mormon" niche market but it helps if you have ever been curious about Mormon love, and Christ's influence on same.

Studio: Excel Entertainment Group
Director: Adam Thomas Anderegg

DVD title: Hell's Angels
Productgroup: DVD
Hell's Angels - movie DVD cover picture
One of the great ones!!

I just purchased this video and watched it last night. By any standards it is a stunning work, and, considering when it was made, was a groundbreaking achievement for its time. As reported in other posts, the acting is only pedestrian. However, it was interesting to see Jean Harlow in her prime. One can see why she was viewed as the Marilyn Monroe of her era. This film is worth watching for a variety of reasons. First of all the ariel sequences are amazing, particularly the Zeppelin segment and the final dogfight (over California?). I doubt if any film has surpassed the conveyance of sheer terror in these sequences. Of interest was the pilot who was taking repeated swigs from a bottle hidden in his cockpit to maintain his courage during the dogfight. The sight of so many planes in the air at once rival (and surpass in many respects) similar scenes in the Blue Max. In fact, the films Blue Max and Zeppelin owe much to this film re: their ariel sequences. The other standout feature is the clever use of color. Some early morning sequences are in red tint, night in blue, and, an amazing ballroom scene in multicolor. Whether you are a fan of war films, vintage films or flying, this is a MUST SEE film. A review of it is easy. Watch it and share a bit of the thrill Howard Hughes had when he made his ultimate flying film!!

Studio: Universal Studios Ho
Ben Lyon
James Hall
Jean Harlow

DVD title: Beetlejuice
Productgroup: DVD
Beetlejuice - movie DVD cover picture
They got more than they expected for out in the country

When Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam(Alec Baldwin) Maitland move out into the country, they have rest and relaxation on their mind. Not even the well-meaning but intrusive antics of uber-realator Jane Butterfield (Annie McEnroe) can rattle their spirits.

...until they discover that they died on an old country bridge near their house after a dog stopped balancing a broken bridge beam. After 'somehow' returning to their house, the Maitlands discover the 'Handbook for the recently deceased' and attempt to decipher it.

The plot thickens when the Detzes move in from New York; Jane finally was able to sell their house. Delia (Catherine O'Hara) fancies herself an artist, but husband Charles (Jeffery Jones) just wants to relax in the country after having survived stressful city life. Both he and gothic daughter Lydia (Winnona Ryder) are the most likeable ones in this family.

After their own attempts at the supernatural fail, the Maitlands call up Beetlejuice, a disgruntled former bureaucrat for the living impaired. Because their caseworker will not help them get rid of the Detzes, the Maitlands soon turn to Beetlejuice for assistance. The Maitlands want their house back, and do not want to become circus attractions for Lydia's equally loopy friends.

Otho (Glen Shadix) is in this play only to show that some people really only talk big. During the supernatural ceremony he puts on an attitude of being in charge 'until something goes wrong'. Since it's likely that he was reading this ceremony as he went along, Otho had not known what he was doing. In other films, this would be dangerous for everybody within a close radius, but Beetlejuice comes to save the day.

Michael Keaton steals the show as a fast/smooth-talking demon. He's not an angel, but you definitely want him on your side when the chips are down. The only thing he is really scared of is sandworms (in the otherworld). Keaton would later continue to work with Burton on the first two Batman movies, as of now considered the best in that series.

Despite the gothic/gloomy tone of this film, it does end on a happy note. The Maitlands and the Detzes end up living together in the same house and Lydia actually gets along with the former couple.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Tim Burton
Alec Baldwin
Geena Davis
Michael Keaton

DVD title: B.B. King - Live by Request
Productgroup: DVD
B.B. King - Live by Request - movie DVD cover picture
BB is the King

I have seen BB King Live for the past 4 years as he tourd. For the Review befor said he look tired, well if you were 79yr old I wounder how you would look. As for the Jeff Beck thing, I dissagreeBB had toured with Buddy Guy, John Hiatt, Tommy Castro and Susan Tedeschi, who all seem to be very well plug in.Learn you Blues and the diferent types. A very good video, only wish it was longer,like his concerts.

Studio: Universal Music & VI
B.B. King

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