Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Shania Twain - Up (Live in Chicago)
Productgroup: DVD
Shania Twain - Up (Live in Chicago) - movie DVD cover picture
kep on rockin us shania

she is so energectic this dvd is one of her best yet what a concert! will keep you interrested the whole time it is asalways shania gives it her all in this dvd and it is great!

Studio: Universal Music & VI
Shania Twain

DVD title: Two for the Road
Productgroup: DVD
Two for the Road - movie DVD cover picture
Hepburn, Finney, Donen are brilliant

While Audrey Hepburn gets almost the credit she deserves, Albert Finney and directory Stanely Donen are virtualy ignored by today's public. This movie is an excellent representation of their talents. Donen's movies are very well remember (think "Funny Face" or Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling in "Royal Wedding" or Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in the chase scene from "Charade") but his best movie, "Two for the Road" was very much ahead of it's time. This is not your typical Hepburn movie- it's not light or comedic ("Sabrina" "Roman Holiday" "Funny Face") nor is it very dramatic ("Wait Until Dark" "The Nun's Story"), but a great balance of both. Witty and charming. One of my favorite movies of all time.

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Stanley Donen
Audrey Hepburn
Albert Finney

DVD title: Amelie
Productgroup: DVD
Amelie - movie DVD cover picture
Paris magic!

I am far from an expert on French film. But as an AP french student, I have seen the eccentric, the subtle, the whimsical, the heroic, the tender, and the callous side of French cinema in films like My Life in Pink, My Mother's Castle, and The Horseman on the Roof. So there, I went to Amelie with some expectations from those past experiences. But actually, many raving reviews received before the film was even released in the US gave my impatience the needed extra push.
The story is about a Parisian girl named Amelie (a wide-eyed elfish/nymph like Audrey Touton) who grows up to become a heroine bigger than the aimless life she seemed destined to lead. Having discovered the joy of charity and creating miracles for all those around her, Amelie is at last ready for some miracles performed for her. And enters Nino, an unlikely Prince Charming, whose boyish chagrin adds an extra charm to the already light-hearted film. The whole cast is amazing as one eccentric character after another is introduced and subtly pricks the audience's bourgeoisie/mainstream taste and conscience. The pace is delightful as director Jean-Pierre Jeunet moves his camera through the streets of a dream-like Paris. Everything seems perfect in Jeunet's world as the colors of clothing and the mood, the atmosphere, the music coalesce to contrast the emotional edges that chafe inside all of us. Amelie is determined to change everyone's live by scraping off those edges, and by the end of the film, I myself was ready to doubt the feasibility of unhappiness.
So how is Amelie the film French? Like a sophiscated, artsy informercial, Amelie possesses a light, springy, optimistic tone that easily seduces the audience into believing there is beauty in the world and poetry in even the most banal occurrences. But Amelie the film is also universal, especially now. Because without the heavy grandiosity (so prevalent in escapist films of the war and patriotic genre), Amelie speaks to the heart, and unleashes another form of heroism ~ the most unobtrusive kind.

Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Audrey Tautou
Mathieu Kassovitz

DVD title: Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas
Productgroup: DVD
Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas - movie DVD cover picture
My almost-3-year-old adores this DVD

My almost-3-year-old year old son thinks the Mickey Mouse story is the best of the three on this DVD. We have to watch it over and over!
Now I wish Disney had more DVDs available of just of Mickey Mouse! The Mickey's Christmas Carol doesn't have enough Mickey for his tastes.

Studio: Disney Studios
Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

DVD title: The Aviator (2-Disc Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Aviator (2-Disc Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
The Billionaire, I mean Aviator.

The Aviator soars as it captures the most glorious slice of the life of Howard Hughes, the filmmaker, aviation innovator, and mentally unstable billionaire. The movie has an easier time with its subject matter, because Hughes lived a flamboyant life. By age 25, he filmed Hollywood's then most expensive movie. He wined, dined, and presumably slept with many leading ladies of the day, including Jean Harlow, Ava Gardner, and of course, Katherine Hepburn. Where Hughes took his real risks, though, was in aviation. He was a brilliant technical innovator and a business visionary. Whether designing and flying test planes for the Air Force, building the first coast-to-coast airlines, or challenging a congressionally-proposed monopoly on international flight, Hughes did everything in a huge way. Leonardo DiCaprio, as Hughes, captures the dashing and erratic Hughes with the same boldness as Hughes lived the first part of his life. DiCaprio's intensity as a man driven by his obsessions drew me into the movie immediately. When he mentally calculates whether he can buy TWA, you accept it as a foregone conclusion. When he flies an experimental plane at 352 MPH, you're grinning as widely as Hughes. When he dates Katherine Hepburn, there was no doubt that fiery "Katie" had met her match. And when he publicly confronts a corrupt senator, all you see is Howard Hughes spitting fire. DiCaprio perfectly captures Hughes' growing mental illness, too, along with his horror at a disease that is engulfing him. When he began to obsess about cleanliness, I tensed, not wanting this great, young man to begin the slide into insanity. Every time he overwashed his hands, recoiled at a speck of dirt on a suit, and opened a doorknob with a Kleenex, my jaw clenched as I silently urged him to pull out of the grip of his illness. This was a masterpiece.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Martin Scorsese
Leonardo DiCaprio
Cate Blanchett
Kate Beckinsale

DVD title: Finding Nemo (Collector's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Finding Nemo (Collector's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Pixar's Best Yet, Not to be Missed

It woudln't be an understatement to say that Pixar Animation Studios is really pushing the envelope in how real a computer animated film can be. Finding Nemo is everything we've come to expect in a Disney/Pixar featuer, and then some. There is comedy, drama, and truly heartfelt emotion as Marlin the clownfish searches for his lost son Nemo. The story is superb, the writing is sharp, the vocalwork is fantastic. And then there are the visuals. To say the least, Pixar has outdone itself when it comes to the detail, richness, and realness of the animation in Nemo. Simply put, you FEEL like you're in a vast underwater world. Light bends and shimmers around the water, you see particles float, shadows look realstic, refraction looks like it should, overall, it looks incredibly REAL. Pixar definately deserves awards for the quality of the animation here.
As for the DVD, it too is a winner. Packed with two versions of the film (wide and fullscreen), and hours of wonderful bonus featuers for both kids and digital animation enthusiasts alike. The transfer is superb (not hard seeing the film's digital roots, like Star Wars: Attack of the Clones), and the sound quality is excellent.
The bottom line? Nemo is a DVD that everyone should have in their collection, without a doubt.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Albert Brooks
Ellen DeGeneres
Alexander Gould

DVD title: Freaky Friday
Productgroup: DVD
Freaky Friday - movie DVD cover picture
Excellent adaptation of this story

This is a good, modern twist to the tale of Freaky Friday. Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan do an excellent job. Definitely worth watching.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Mark Waters (VIII)
Jamie Lee Curtis
Lindsay Lohan
Mark Harmon

DVD title: John Fogerty: Premonition
Productgroup: DVD
John Fogerty: Premonition - movie DVD cover picture

What a plesure is to watch a rock concert where everybody's having a great time. The sound's impecable, the video image superb, the stage is well designed, the band and back up singers are first rate and the audience is having fun. Moreover, the songs are well chosen and you can check them out with the subtitles function. Buy`it.

Studio: Wea/Warner Bros.
Director: Jim Gable
John Fogerty

DVD title: Tombstone
Productgroup: DVD
Tombstone - movie DVD cover picture
Kilmer and Russell are both great -- wonderful Western

How many films on this subject have made it to the Big Screen...before I can review the 1993 release "TOMBSTONE"...let's take a look at some of the worthy film releases regarding that Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, from the '40s up to the present in the next few paragraphs of this review.
"My Darlin' Clementine"(1946) - One of the greatest directors of our time John Ford gave this role of Wyatt Earp(Henry Fonda)...Doc Holliday(Victor Mature) featuring a well-rounded cast of Walter Brennan, Ward Bond, Tim Holt, Linda Darnell and John Ireland...Ford well known for his Westerns, filmed and documented one of the best from Tinsel-Town regarding the O.K. Corral.
"Gunfight at the O.K. Corral"(1957) - Typical Hollywood Superstar cast, with two hunks in the leading roles of Earp(Burt Lancaster) and Holliday(Kirk Douglas) with an outstanding performance by Jo Van Fleet and the guiding hand of John Sturges in the directors chair...haunting score by composer Dimitri Tiomkin with Frankie Laine singing the opening song.
"Hour Of The Gun"(1967) - Once again director John Sturges sits behind the camera...the roles of Earp(James Garner) and Holliday(Jason Robards Jr - is excellent as the crusty gambling Doctor) supporting cast is Robert Ryan, Albert Salmi and Jo Voight, with two good actors in the lead...this film lacks the punch of the 1946 outing...please note:Jerry Goldsmith composed the filmscore.
"Wyatt Earp"(1994) - Filmed in Sante Fe, New Mexico...director Lawrence Kasdan had a fine cast to start with...Earp(Kevin Kostner) and Holliday(Dennis Quaid)...supporting cast Gene Hackman, Mark Harmon, Bill Pullman, Isabella Rossellini and Tom Sizemore...doesn't work well, too long with mixed feelings of a TV miniseries.
Now we have the Saga at hand of the legendary lawman with a dynamic cast...from heroes to villains recounting the events prior and up to the O.K. Corral.
"Tombstone"(1993) - More than any other film on this subject, director George P. Cosmatos captures the mood and friendship between Earp(Kurt Russell) and Holliday(Val Kilmer-with an Oscar Contender Performance)...Virgil Earp(Sam Ellott) and Morgan Earp(Bill Paxton) believable as the loyal lawman brothers...but the highlight of the film is the colorful performances by the villains Ike Clanton(Stephen Lang)...Curly Bill(Powers Boothe)...Johnny Ringo(Michael Biehn)...each making a statement within the boundaries of their chosen vocation and roles...the final showdown by each character is "Cinema" at its finest hour...this 2-DVD-Set has additional extras "Making An Authentic Western", entire cast with behind the scene interviews about the legends and characters during this time in the American West...each cast member talks about his or her particular role, very insightive to say the least...brilliant captivating score by composer Bruce Broughton, brings color to the Western skies and excitement to dusty trails of Tombstone, during the hard riding scenes, Broughton's soundtrack puts you on horseback galloping for more excitement you can handle, so lets slap leather and head for town...TOMBSTONE!, gotta love it.
Total Time: 134 Minutes ~ Hollywood Pictures Home Video 23118 ~ (1993/2002-Directors Cut)

Studio: Hollywood Pictures
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Kurt Russell
Val Kilmer

DVD title: The Magnificent Seven (Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Magnificent Seven (Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture

Yul Brynner, back in the late 1950's, wanted to direct an American version of the SEVEN SAMURAI, as an western. So he bought up the movie rights. He wanted to cast Anthony Quinn in the lead, as Chris. Brynner had been directed by Quinn in the remake of THE BUCCANEER. Quinn would have been great as Chris, the leader of the Seven; and what a different film it would have been. But, alas, Brynner himself took the part, and put his own stamp of individuality on it. He walked like a cross between a panther and a ballet dancer; light on the balls of his feet. Ironically, as an actor, he was slow on the draw, and not used to Westerns. But artistically, this was never apparent in the finished film.
Many of the Seven's actors had seen the Kurosawa film, and they were very excited about transferring it to the American West. Eli Wallach, as Calvera, in just a few short scenes, found both the humor and the cruelty in the bandit chieftan. His accent and speech pattern were fairly authentic; more so certainly than the young German actor, Horst Buchholz, endeavoring to find a southwestern/Texan/Mexican drawl. Director, John Sturges, had great hopes for Horst; the camera loved him. But it was the trio of studs, Steve McQueen as Vin, Charles Bronson as O'Reilly, and James Coburn as Britt, that dominated the frame.
Steve McQueen, wearing skin-tight leather stovepipe chaps, spent a lot of time finding ways to upstage Yul Brynner. There was a rumor that he would have preferred playing Chico, the Buchholz character. McQueen's manic physical performance, lightning fast with a pistol and a quip, seemed to work well for him, and it gave him more than his share of focus. His Vin emerged as lethal, lean, and hungry; yet weary of the gunfighter's plight, and envious of the simplicity and the honor of the peasants fighting for their families and their homes.
James Coburn, as Britt, was laconic and dangerous, and living on the edge of his blade; competing mostly with himself for the next big thrill. Coburn got the part he wanted, and though he was given minimal dialogue, his deliveries were classic. This set the mold for his future career.
Charles Bronson as Bernardo O'Reilly, half-Irish, half Mexican, was solid as a rock; an experienced stone killer, and yet still a soft touch for the children of the village. His death scene touched us. He found the pulse of his character, and he was both dangerous and decent.
Robert Vaughn, as Lee, seemed uncomfortable and lost. His part had been rewritten, and expanded for him. Yet he seemed ill-suited for the part, and the genre. Even his costume seemed ill-fitting. Part of the problem was that his characters' inability to participate in the first couple of firefights left us with little sympathy for him. Later then, in his scene with the peasants, in which he admitted his fear, the emotions seemed forced and poorly conceived. His last moment heroics and death did little to balance the scales.
Brad Dexter was nearly invisible. He is the one actor in trivia games no one can remember. His character, Harry Luck, with twice the dialogue as Coburn, paled in comparison. Part of it was Dexter himself. He was a bland, middle-of-the-road, B-Movie heavy, and it was odd to cast him, and thrust him in amongst all of those young turks. He did a credible job, but he was completely outshined by the future super stars.
Vladimir Sokoloff, as the village's "old man", gave such a wonderful and touching performance, one did not realize the actor was not Latino. Like Eli Wallach, his talent as an actor transcended ethnic boundaries.
John Sturges, a veteran director of westerns, found just the right balance of action and character. Mexican farmers substituted fine for the original Japanese farmers. And brigands, or bandits, are cut from the same nasty mold no matter what the era, or geography. Kurosawa's classic runs like 3 hours in length, and it gave us much more in-depth character development; so that when these samurai began to die, we cared about them. In 1959, when SEVEN was filmed, three hour westerns were a non-existant species. Elmer Bernstein's musical score was revolutionary, and its pounding stacatto beat has become one of the most recognized pieces of music ever created for film.
This western, always listed in the top 50 best westerns, is a must-see. And the DVD version, in widescreen, is crisp and clear and colorful, and it helps us to recapture that magical feeling we had the first time we saw this film in a movie theatre.

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: John Sturges
Yul Brynner
Steve McQueen
Charles Bronson

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