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DVD Reviews - American Beauty

American Beauty

“If Love And Basketball is about upwardly mobile slam dunking by black families, American Beauty is a heart-chillingly funny look at totally dysfunctional white ones. Kevin is definitely Spacey, as he angsts his way through mid-life, and Annette Bening even moreso as his wife Carolyn, a dissociated real estate dealer. And to set off the degeneration of this marriage even more, a series of events occurs throughout the film to lead to the inevitable tragedy at the end…”

DVD Reviews - Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

“If Susan Anspach was a bit of a fish in Five Easy Pieces, Andie MacDowell was a frozen fillet in Sex, Lies, And Videotape. But in this film she is the perfect foil for Bill Murray as a his TV producer. He’s an egotistical, insensitive weatherman cursed to cover Ground Hog Day over and over again until he finds his humanity. The premise is silly, but a good and often very funny script by Harold Rubin makes it work as a perfect vehicle for Murray’s remarkable comedic talent…”

DVD Reviews - Titanic

Titanic

“I know these are supposed to be DVD reviews, but this film, the all-time box-office biggie, has yet to appear in that format, but was recently released on LD. I guess that up until I bought this set, beautifully packaged for the 12″ format, I was the only North American to have not seen Titanic, not having experienced it in the movie theatre…”

DVD Reviews - The Mask of Zorro

The Mask Of Zorro

“After watching The Mask Of Zorro, it’s hard to believe Catherine Zeta-Jones isn’t actually Spanish, and harder to accept that she’s really Welsh, such a convincingly swashbuckling senorita is she. Zorro is another big budget Hollywood film, with numerous sumptuous sets, and the creation of a slave-worked gold mine, which is not quite a recreated Titanic, but a huge edifice none the less…”

DVD Reviews - Montenegro

Montenegro

“Written and directed by the same man who made The Coca Cola Kid, Montenegro chronicles the brief straying of a bored housewife (Susan Anspach into the company of a band of Yugoslavian immigrants. Like Wag The Dog, Montenegro was made long before that region or its people became daily news fodder. It’s a charming film, with many funny moments. I didn’t realize that Makavejev was behind both this film and the Coca Cola Kid, which I look forward to seeing out on DVD…”

DVD Reviews - JFK, The Arrival, The Witches of Eastwick, Mars Attacks

Woodstock DVD -- Click for Review

“From the director who made the first Batman feature (also a very collectable DVD), Tim Burton, this film is made for DVD. The transfer is superb, with vivid colour, lots of detail, and zowie special effects. Like The Arrival and Independence Day, Mars Attacks is about the earth being invaded, but this one’s a send-up, with a galaxy of stars, including Jack Nicholson as the president and a Vegas gambler, Pierce Brosnan in a hilariously over-the-top performance as the peace-loving presidential advisor, Martin Short as his publicity hack, Glenn Close as the first lady, and so on. Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Danny deVito and Tom Jones also star, the latter playing himself and singing It’s Not Unusual in Vegas…”

DVD Reviews - Nature Films in Imax, Batman, Blade Runner and Space Jam

Africa, The Serengeti

“If Africa is hot, Antartica is cool, even cold. When I saw this film on the big screen, it seemed as if they had the air conditioning turned up a little too high…Brrrrr. Both historical and natural, it looks both across and under the Antarctic ice, revealing a richness of life’s diversity even below freezing. Though the film gets a little cute when dealing with the penguins, it also offers some great shots of the stark landscape from helicopters and planes. There is great visual beauty in this film that makes one less concerned about digital artifacts, but then, the panorama is less busy than the African plain or the Brazilian rain forest.

DVD Reviews - Woodstock: The Director’s Cut

Woodstock DVD -- Click for Review

“‘Like, man, watch out for the bad acid’…Woodstock has always been, to my mind, a monument to myth-making, and American myth-making at that. And here the myth has been expanded by 40 minutes of previously unseen footage. Again, you get your money’s worth in terms of time, though I think not necessarily musically. If All The President’s Men doesn’t seem dated, Woodstock does, for the simple reason that, for most of us, its reality has a remarkable air of unreality…”

DVD Reviews - Eric Clapton: Unplugged

Clapton Unplugged -- Click for Review

“Produced for MTV, this show in the Unplugged series showcases the folkier side of Eric Clapton, and was a bestseller on CD, laserdisc, and VHS. It was interesting to hear it in discrete surround, and to compare that with the CD with its uncompressed digital audio.

“But first to the picture: I was surprised at the relatively poor resolution of the video on this DVD, bad even compared to off air images on my TV….”

DVD Reviews - Waterworld

Waterworld DVD -- Click for Review

“One of the most expensive films ever made at close to $200 million, Waterworld was expected to be a bomb, but did quite well at the box office, and seems to fit the DVD format very well, too, with its bright vivid colour, action and stunt filled story, and larger-than-life characters. Dennis Hopper makes the most of his role as arch-villain, while Costner is more energized than usual as an amphibious mutant….”

DVD Reviews - All The President’s Men

All the President's Men -- Click for Review

“Many remember Richard Nixon as the dark force of American politics, and his era ended in shame with his post-Watergate resignation. The agents of his fall were two dogged Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, on whose book this 1976 film was based. They are played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, respectively. Both lead performances are restrained and unaffected, though Hoffman makes the most of the reporter’s chain smoking in his dramatic business….”

DVD Reviews - Body Heat and Basic Instinct

Body Heat DVD -- Click For Review

“Body Heat is one of those films that’s so hot and steamy you sweat watching it, even with the air conditioning on. Set in the Florida keys in summer, it contains brilliant youthful performances by William Hurt as a dumber-than-he-looks lawyer, and Kathleen Turner as a true femme fatale. Director Kasdan would go on to make The Big Chill and The Accidental Tourist (both with Hurt in leading roles), but this is his most accomplished film, the combination of atmosphere, performances and pacing absolutely perfect….”

DVD Reviews - Das Boot: The Director’s Cut

“Finally, a movie that makes really intelligent use of many DVD features. Das Boot has Dolby Digital for both its original German soundtrack and the dubbed English one, as well as subtitles that allow one to hear the German with all the sound effects intact (and these are spectacular), and also understand the script. This was my preference in watching this classic 1982 film; I even joked to a friend that after watching all 200+ minutes of Das Boot this way, I would probably end up fluent in German….”

DVD Reviews - 2001 A Space Odyssey and Logan’s Run

2001

“These two MGM movies fit well together as a review pair, both Sci-Fi, both big-budget, and both full of special effects. Though called a classic, the 1968 2001 least stands the test of time, in my view. It is overly long, ponderous, pretentious, full of bloated symbolism (starting with those stupid apes). What else can you say about a film that is dominated by a bland-voiced, neurotic computer…”

DVD Reviews - Tom Jones

Tom Jones

“HBO has done this wonderful film and its creator Tony Richardson a serious injustice in its DVD release. Instead of going back to original negatives or even a good print, it has mastered from a somewhat beat-up work or theatrical print with faded colour, lots of scratch sparklies, poor resolution, and mediocre screechy stereo sound. In other words, it’s pretty much the same old brew you saw on cable in a new cup…..”

DVD Reviews - The Spy Who Loved Me

The Spy Who Loved me

“This is the film that introduced Richard Kiel as the chrome-toothed giant assassin, Jaws, who went on to become a much more sympathetic character in Moonraker. It also features the delectable Barbara Bach as a Russian agent who teams up with Bond to defeat villain Karl Stromberg, played with appropriate menace by Curt Jurgens. Many Bond fans could never see anyone but Sean Connery in the role, but I always liked the dapper rogue that Roger Moore made of Bond, a little seamier and more of an opportunist than the heroic Connery version…”

DVD Reviews - Tomorrow Never Dies

Tomorrow Never Dies

“The claim is made in this DVD’s 8-page booklet that it outdoes its predecessor, GoldenEye, in special effects, and though it undoubtedly does, the earlier movie was a lot more fun, a lot of this in the antics of “the next girl”, Xenia Onatopp, not to forget Robbie Coltrane’s hilarious cameo as a Russian mobster. Somehow, the mood of Tomorrow Never Dies is more sombre, though the action never stops as Bond and his Chinese sidekick ride motorcycles and leap off tall buildings…”

DVD Reviews - Backdraft and Executive Decision

Executive Decision

“I guess I’ve lumped these two films together because they both star Kurt Russell, who always looks as if he’s just swallowed a prune. Backdraft is set in Chicago and is about firemen and fires, with strong supporting performances from Scott Glenn, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, and the usual riveting cameo by Donald Sutherland as a psychopath. The DVD transfer of this film faithfully retains its visual quality and exciting soundtrack, and I enjoy it, too, for all the Chicago locales, this being one of my favourite cities…”

DVD Reviews - Dances With Wolves

Dances with Wolves

“It is very much to Kevin Costner’s credit that he could take a story without much story line to it, and make it into a long and lyrical film that sustains interest. It does so because of a combination of visual beauty, human drama on an epic scale (the survival of a race of people), and an individual love story. Strong performances by Graham Greene and Mary McDonnell, as Indian chief and love interest, respectively, hold one’s interest…..”

DVD Reviews - Chronos

Chronos

“Ron Fricke has taken his time-lapse film camera to a variety of locations around the world,ranging from city centres in America and Europe to deserts, landmarks, and sculptures. We see familiar and unusual objects, architecture, and landscapes as the sun rises and falls, and clouds flash across the sky around them, with a musical score that underlines the greatness and futility of man’s struggle to form nature when, in fact, nature forms him…”


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