Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: The Fifth Element
Productgroup: DVD
The Fifth Element - movie DVD cover picture
what an entertainment

This is one of the funniest action movies i've ever seen along with Die Hard. You gotta love Bruce Willis...
I loved it even though the movie is based on a stupid story... it was made for entertainment only and did its job superbly

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Luc Besson
Bruce Willis
Gary Oldman
Milla Jovovich

DVD title: The Wicker Man
Productgroup: DVD
The Wicker Man - movie DVD cover picture
Shocks are so much better absorbed with the knees bent´┐Ż

So says Lord Summerisle in ?The Wicker Man,? a true cinematic rarity, an original, and ?intelligent,? horror film, just as Kubrick?s ?2001? is the quintessential ?intelligent? Sci Fi film. Boasting a superbly constructed story, an exemplary caste tailor made for their roles, and a truly shocking and disturbing ending, ?The Wicker Man? is a masterful exercise in escalating dread, with a harrowing climax that will leave you drained.
I once heard this film referred to as the ?Citizen Kane? of horror films, but if I were to compare it to one of Orson?s greats, I would say it bares a closer resemblance to the ?Magnificent Ambersons.? The reason for this is plain when you?ve searched for the film in the database; you find two listings, ?The Wicker Man,? and ?The Wicker Man (Limited Edition).? The former is the original cinematic release of the film, butchered and incomplete, the latter is a restored version that gives us 11 minutes of unseen footage, most of it important back story fleshing out the central character of Sergeant Neil Howie, wonderfully played by Edward Woodward. I said ?a? restored version, because what?s presented to us is still not the complete film, but for more on that you have to watch the excellent documentary included in the ?extras.?
Without giving too much away for those who haven?t seen it, the basic story is as follows. Sergeant Howie - monstrously uptight and VERY Christian - a policeman on the Scottish mainland, receives an anonymous letter from Summerisle, off the Western Coast, telling him about the disappearance of a young girl, Rowan Morrison, and hinting at dire events to come. Howie flies off to the isle alone to investigate, and collides headfirst with the pre-Christian, or Pagan, belief system practiced there.
Everywhere is godless symbolism; pagan fetishes, rampant lasciviousness, a mother putting a frog into a child?s mouth to cure a sore throat, the villagers, and even the Rowan?s own family, denying all knowledge of the girl. As if that wasn?t enough, the good Sergeant Howie discovers something that for him, is absolutely the final straw? a ruined and desecrated church.
With his search for the girl being stonewalled at every turn, and the realization that, from his point of view, the islanders are an utterly godless bunch, our hero turns, in high dudgeon, and extreme exasperation at the islanders beliefs and practices, to the head of the community, Lord Summerisle, played with relish and splendid urbanity by non other than Christopher Lee!
His assumption that a ?Lord of the Land? will behave in a civilized and Christian manner is rudely dashed when he sees young girls dancing naked ?round a fire in the Manor grounds. Incredulous at this wanton display, he takes his Lordship to task, to which his Lordship calmly replies, ?Well naturally! It's much too dangerous to jump through fire with their clothes on!? Poor Sergeant Howie really is out of his depth, his Lordship not only condones the godless rituals of the islanders, he?s their spiritual leader, ?We are a deeply religious people,? he gently admonishes the blustering police officer.
With the knowledge that he is utterly alone, Sergeant Howie determines to discover the truth about Rowan Morrison. As distasteful as it is to him, he investigates the island religion in the local library, and becomes convinced that young Rowan is being held against her will, to be ?used? in some dreadful pagan ritual. From here the story accelerates to its harrowing conclusion, one that made my blood run cold when I saw it first, and still has the power to unsettle, all these years later.
This is an extraordinary film, literate and lyrical, part horror film, part investigative thriller; it is a film I think you could genuinely say is unique, just don?t expect any chainsaws or psychos! The performances are all 5 Star, with Christopher Lee in particular stating in the documentary something I have heard often over the years, that it is his favorite performance? an opinion I certainly would NOT disagree with! In fact I would go so far as to say that I think Lee and Woodward have never been better.
As I said before, the ?Limited Edition? is, without a doubt, the version to watch, but be warned, whilst the transfer of the film is excellent overall, the restored footage is of noticeably inferior quality? although it does come in a very cool wooden box! Another element of the film that deserves recognition is the soundtrack; written especially for the production, it has a wonderful late 60?s/early 70?s folk feel about it, which adds immensely to the atmosphere of the film. And the documentary I?ve mentioned? Excellent! The makers managed to sit down with all the major player in the film, including Woodward and Lee, indeed, this is one of the most extensive interviews I?ve seen with Lee, who has his own theories as to what actually happened to the original ?Wicker Man? footage! If you are looking for an intelligent and unsettling film experience, then ?The Wicker Man? is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Robin Hardy
Edward Woodward
Christopher Lee

DVD title: Lost in Space - The Complete First Season
Productgroup: DVD
Lost in Space - The Complete First Season - movie DVD cover picture
A treat for the nostalgia buff

When I was a kid in the mid 1960's, I watched 'Lost in Space' every week. 'Star Trek' was still a bit too grown up for me, but LIS was perfect! Lots of adventure, sophisticated space travel, monsters, and one of the heros was (roughly) my age! What more could I ask for.I used to watch it in reruns after school on a tv station that was just far enough away that the picture was usually very snowy and sometimes wouldn't come in at all (bummer!)I dreamed of having the Jupiter II and all involved for my very own. Finally, 40 years later, I do.Granted, some of the magic is gone. Most of the special effects are pretty lame by today's standards, and the monsters are about as scary as a stuffed teddy bear. However, when I sit down to watch the episodes that I remember so well, I'm that same little boy who used to cheer on Will and the Robot and who used to get so upset with Dr Smith when he would screw up!BRING ON SEASONS TWO AND TRHEE!!

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Guy Williams

DVD title: Andrei Rublev - Criterion Collection
Productgroup: DVD
Andrei Rublev - Criterion Collection - movie DVD cover picture
Thank you Criterion

Before this DVD, I last saw a screening of Andrei Rublev back in the mid-90's in San Francisco, during a Tarkovsky retrospective. The notes claim to have restored 40% of the dialog. The print that I watched must have been the one used for comparison. As I recall, the film print started off fairly well translated (or at least appeared that way), but as the film rolled on the translation became more sparse. Whole stretches of dialog summed up in one line. Eventually, the translation pretty much ended and I don't remember any translation at all in the last hour. A tip of the hat to Criterion for the new translation, and all the other work that went into producing this dvd. The film is so visually moving though, that you might want to watch it again without subtitles altogether. The magic of dvd.

Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Anatoli Solonitsyn
Ivan Lapikov

DVD title: Ocean's Eleven (Full Screen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Ocean's Eleven (Full Screen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Steven Soderbergh- Director and Magician

Is Steven Soderbergh the most entertaining director working in mainstream film? If not, he certainly is the most effective.
Wonder-kid Soderbergh, not yet 40 at the time of this writing, made his first film back in 1989, "Sex, Lies, and Videotape." The production of that film is now made of legend(He wrote the movie during an eight-day drive to Hollywood on legal pads), and is today considered, by many critics, one of the first films to usher in the American independent era that dominated the 1990's.
After the smash hit of "Sex, Lies"(It won the Palme d' Or at Cannes), Sodbergh quickly returned behind the camera and continued to release films almost on a yearly basis throughout the 90's. Some of them were well received by critics and audiences("King of the Hill" is one of the great film of the 1990's)and others were not(I could have done without the murky "Kafka). Regardless, Soderbergh has never made a boring film, and he is one of dwindling number of younger directors who has a respect for the medium both as a historical institution and as an art form. It wasn't until 1998 that he hit his ultimate peak and, the beautiful thing about it, he has not slowed down since.
Within the last 4 years, he has released the neo-noir "Out of the Past"(also with Clooney), "The Limey"(an undisputed gem), and two film with social commentary, "Erin Brockovich" and "Traffic"(The film that gave him Best Director at the Oscars).
Now comes the remake of the 1960 not so classic, "Ocean's 11". When I first heard about the project, I thought I would be disapointed. I believed, at the time, that it would be one of those films, like so many in the past, where the film collapses on its own star power(big egos working against each other=bad movie). What I thought was going to be a failure ended up being the most surprisingly fun movie of 2001. With the exception of "Memento" and "Mullholand Drive", I can't thing of a film in 2001 that gave me such an exhilarating ride.
The premise of the plot is not complicated. Danny Ocean, played by possibly the most natural actor working today, George Clooney, gets out of prision on a prior charge, and quickly gathers a group of his fellow criminals to pull a heist in a Casino owned and operated by Andy Garcia(Untouchables). Clooney's group include characters played by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Scott Caan and Carl Reiner. What is complicated, on initial glance, in the method and plan Ocean and his friends reveal in their attempts to steal money from the Casino vault. What makes the film a triumph, is the ease in which Soderbergh directs the details of the heist. There was not one moment in this movie where I felt lost or did not know what was going on during this elaborate plan. That is a huge credit to Soderebergh who directs a film about a casino heist as natural as a person taking a breath.
Ultimately, the greatest thing about Ocean'11 is that its so much more about than simply a casino heist. It's about Clooney and his swagger which echos Sinatra; it's about Brad Pitt's confidence and his brilliant display of top notch suits; it's about Vegas and the cool vibes that surround that desert town; it's about one of the greatest introductory scenes of a character I've seen in a long time(check out Matt Damon's entrance set to blues music); it's about the guy winning the girl; it's about great "old time" actors making welcoming appearances(Carl Reiner). It's about a director, with such vision, who has "kicked back" and has made a party of a movie.

Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Steven Soderbergh
George Clooney
Brad Pitt

DVD title: Malcolm X
Productgroup: DVD
Malcolm X - movie DVD cover picture
One of the Great Screen Biographies

Spike Lee's "Malcolm X" is a riveting masterpiece that's thrilling and emotionally moving and powerful. Lee does a great job capturing Malcolm X as does Denzel Washington in his best performance ever. This is a film that lets us know the character and his times. I also loved the structure of the screenplay and film itself. The first half is noirish with the gangster feel of "Scarface," the second is a riveting historical document like Oliver Stone's "JFK." "Malcolm X" should be shown in schools around America as an educational tool about a man and his era. Malcolm X embodied the struggle of the African-American in America. This is powerful filmmaking at it's best. "Malcolm X" is brutal, powerful, hard-hitting and full of great performances. Not even Lee's recent Summer release, "Summer Of Sam," reaches the level of power and intensity of "Malcolm X." This is one of the greatest films of the decade, a true gem.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Spike Lee
Denzel Washington
Angela Bassett

DVD title: JAG
Productgroup: DVD
JAG - movie DVD cover picture
Why isn't this out on DVD yet?

I can't believe that this show isn't out on DVD!
It doesn't seem right that shows that have been
canceled after a few months are on DVD, but this
phenomenal show in it's 10th season isn't out!
What is Paramount thinking? Lets get on the ball
people! Start writing in! Let them know we want
this show on DVD!

DVD title: Strictly Ballroom
Productgroup: DVD
Strictly Ballroom - movie DVD cover picture
This movie is so much fun!

Being one of the folks who genuinely enjoyed "Moulin Rouge" I may be a little biased in terms of Lurhman's ability to dissect and enchant his audiences, ensuring a novel pleasure ride every time - from his raucous "Romeo + Juliet" to his incandescant "Sunscreen" rap-graduation-speech-single. "Strictly Ballroom" is an early gem of a film that established the auteur-director in the minds of critics as a force to be reckoned with, and it's easy to see why. The movie soars like "Rocky" in its underdog and come-from-behind sequences and then boogies like "Dirty Dancing" only with far superior storytelling and plot devices that keep it fresh after repeated viewings. The principals are uniformly fine, fresh faced and passionate dancers, and Luhrman paces his show with remarkable staidness and simplicity - certainly nothing like his later edit-a-second epics. "Strictly Ballroom" is a model of restraint but dares to tell its story with guts. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Studio: Miramax
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Paul Mercurio
Tara Morice

DVD title: The Thing with Two Heads
Productgroup: DVD
The Thing with Two Heads - movie DVD cover picture
The best bad movie of all time?

I've seen lots of old B movies,for unitended comedy this movie is the king.You really get the feeling That Max (Ray Milland) genuinely hates Jack (Rosey Grier)Ray Milland plays a bigoted transplant surgeon who could give Archie Bunker a run for his money.Max Kirshner learns he's dying and figures he'll just attach his brilliant head to another mans body,unfortunately,his only suitable donor is a black convict,needless to say they're less then thrilled with this situation, look for the long-haired stuntman during the classic motorcycle chase scene,who looks nothing like Milland or Grier.Great movie not as bad as you might think.

Studio: MGM/UA Video
Director: Lee Frost
Ray Milland
Roosevelt Grier

DVD title: Jesus of Nazareth
Productgroup: DVD
Jesus of Nazareth - movie DVD cover picture
Greatest story of the greatest man who ever walked the earth

No doubt about it this for me is the greatest film on the life and story of Jesus Christ. While the Passion of the Christ centers on the actual suffering and was graphically vivid for
the pain our sins have inflicted on Jesus, JESUS OF NAZARETH focuses more on his teachings and the impact of his earthly presence among those who have come into actual contact with Jesus.

In many scenes, Jesus emphasizes the fact that "all who were fortunate enough to see what others dreamed to see and to
hear what others have longed to hear" refer to the fortunate crowd who have actually witnessed Jesus in the flesh as compared
to those before them who only read in the Scriptures about the coming of the Messiah. But the great irony of it all, was those
who were indeed fortunate enough to witness him were even the ones who rejected His Holy Presence even questioning the
selfless purpose of His Divine Mission were the very same religious leaders entrusted to preach His Scriptures.

Well fortunately for us all, JESUS OF NAZARETH is now on video and although I've probably seen this a dozen times, it never
ceases to amaze me that I always get a different perspective of enlightenment of the same scenes every time I watch it.
Now as a video viewer, you have two choices, you can either embrace and come to love the film as strong as your faith in Jesus, or you can reject it by pressing the eject button and
stow it away in its protective jewel box. Either way, it's
worth one viewing which will guarantee not only five star entertainment but an all star entertainment. This film is
always great no matter how many times one watches it since the person on whom the story is about is the greatest superstar of all time who ever walked the earth none other than JESUS

Do yourself a favor have a real MERRY CHRISTMAS and watch the entire film without interruption and I can be very sure this
will become your favorite film of all time as it is mine.

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Robert Powell
James Mason
Laurence Olivier

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