Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Van Helsing (Widescreen Edition) (2004) Review

Here's a film that's 99% special effects... there must have been plenty of money for this... yet the flying babies are not scary. Creepy, maybe, but not scary. The acting, the dialogue, the story, totally missing romance -- it's all just lousy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

La Dolce Vita (2-Disc Collector's Edition) (1961) Review

Anyone who is comparing La Dolce Vita to 8 1/2 and saying it's better or on the same level should have their head examined.

And no as J. A. Stankunas "jonukwho" put it this DVD isn't even close to the quality of the Criterion 8 1/2 DVD.

People do yourself a favour and stop reading these amateur reviews, if you're not familiar with the film don't buy, rent first and judge for yourselves.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The New York City Ballet Workout (2000) Review

This is an excellent video that verbally and visually explains very simply the movements of these ballet related exercises. The exercises are extremely beneficial as this is a combined series that works the entire body. Peter Martins does such a good job of commentating. As a retired ballet dancer, this video has helped me keep in shape as I am no longer able to complete a usual ballet program.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Hav Plenty (1998) Review

You know I just happened to watch this movie again the other day. It really is pretty cool. The way the movie parallels a supposed weekend in the life of the main character is a fun and witty look into the trivia and not so trivia issues that "Black upwardly mobile" families deal with.

Check it out. Really fun to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

VeggieTales - The Ballad of Little Joe (2003) Review

This is a cute video. Taking the Biblical story of Jonah to a western type theme was a good idea, and creative. Little things like that are the details that draw in the adults to watching these videos -- even if you already know the Biblical story of Joseph. There is curiosity about how it will be presented in this format.

The silly song has to be one of their best. I wish I could remember exactly how the song goes, but one of the gourds confesses his secret about himself that worries him. He actually has no belly button! How could this be? He goes to the doctor to see what can be done about this situation. The doctor, played by the worm in the Jonah video, comes in and tells him that it is quite normal for gourds not to have belly buttons. If he would like, he can get a prosthetic belly button, which would be covered "by your shirt but not your HMO."

The boundless creativity Big Idea Productions puts into these videos never ceases to amaze me. I'm looking forward to more in the future. I suspect that I'll want to see subsequent VeggieTales videos as long as they come out, whether I have children of viewing age any longer or not.

Obviously, in case you couldn't tell, I highly recommend this video. It is great, wholesome, family entertainment.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Pootie Tang (2001) Review

I'm a hardcore critic, particularly when it comes to the dozens of all-black movies, year after year, perpetuating horrible stereo-types. Your first clues that Pootie Tang is different are Chris Rock & Wanda Sykes. Within the first minutes, this movie had me crying & holding my middle, I laughed so hard. I laughed this hard right up to moment it ended. Next day I invited four friends over to watch, same reactions. I laughed harder than before! Some reviews dubbed it "stupid". That's a moronic over-simplification. It's actually a very intellegent spoof on ridiculous subjects. The comedy is brilliant! And, not ONE curse word uttered in this entire film. (Sah-Dah-Tay!!)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (1957 Television Production) (1957) Review

This is the definitive version of Roger and Hammerstein's "Cinderella"! Originally conceived as a vehicle for Julie Andrews while she was making "My Fair Lady" a hit on Broadway, she is "practically perfect in every way" in the title role. This original screenplay is also superior to the chopped up version created in the 60's with Leslie Ann Warren. There are great scenes with the Prince's parents, and there is a good feeling of family love that is conveyed. The ending is also more touching and satisfying, since it is more generous to Cinderella's step family, and conveys a moral of understanding and forgiveness demonstrated by the kind hearted Cinderella. Finally, it is a true treat to see and hear Julie Andrews sing and act the title role. I highly recommend this DVD to any lover of the American theater and/or Julie Andrews.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Aerosmith - You Gotta Move (Amaray Case) (2004) Review

Aerosmith waited to put this dvd out until the "honkin on bobo" cd. I want to explain as a life long aerosmith fan why i think there was so much chit chat in between songs. They wanted to explain the PROCESS of making honkin on bobo, they wanted to give their fans who they are devoted to dearly a inside look on their "back to their roots" project. Alot of people in these reviews especially one by somebody named christopher claims that no girl u nder 25 knows all the lyrics to aerosmith songs and hes wrong because Im 24 and i know every lyric to every aerosmith song. If you want to know why aerosmith has came through everything from publisized drug abuse, some managers that were just trying to back stab them and use them, 2 of its original band members leaving the band, and then returning in the 80s, and the ability to get clean and rebuild their outstanding carrer then you need to see this dvd. The dedication that These guys not only have to their fans but each other is something that is never seen in bands. The reason why aerosmith has stood the test of time and will continue to rock and roll for years is because along with being band mates, these guys are brothers by choice. Any TRUE aerosmith fan knows what im talking about and LOVE THIS LONG OVERDUE DVD.

Paula Abdul - Cardio Dance (1998) Review

If you^re already a pretty good dancer, you can definitely improve your dance moves with this video/dvd. I for one am glad Paula doesnt annoy anyone with her 1 2 3 counting all through the program like some other reviewers were expecting. I only wish the dance routine was longer because it really is fun to dance along with lil Paula (and not to mention her FINE dancers). When im clubbing I cant help but fall into a slick Paula-Move every once in a while....but very subtly....My energy level is at an all time high on the dance floor. Paula! Whens your next workout tape coming out???? Louie C

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Scarlet Diva (2000) Review

This DVD would have benefitted by English subtitles in th US version

Gunga Din (1939) Review

Possibly the best pure action film ever made and certainly the inspiration for many that have followed. Inspired by, rather than based on, a poem by Rudyard Kipling (who briefly appears as a character in the uncut version of the film in the guise of a journalist traveling with the British army) this tale of adventure, comedy, and action in 19th-century India under the British Raj has it all. Superb b&w cinematography (nominated for an Academy Award in Hollywood's greatest year). Perfect casting, with Cary "Archie" Grant as the cockney Sgt. Cutter, Victor McLaghlen as gruff Master Sgt. MacChesney, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as the dashing Sgt. Ballantine, Sam Jaffee (in full body makeup) as the humble water carrier Gunga Din, and the scene-stealing Eduardo Cianelli as a ferociously intelligent villain who is far more frightening than any '30's movie monster.

The setting, outside the small town of Lone Pine, in California's eastern Sierras, beautifully mirrors that of northwestern India. Filmed in 100 degree heat, the picture's sets and backgrounds have a look of sere authenticity rarely achieved by location filming in the '30's. The superb score borders on the operatic, with leitmotifs for characters as well as scenes.

I vividly remember thinking as a child, when I first saw a grainy print on our b&w tv, that this was the first time I had seen a non-white person in a film who was obviously smarter than the Caucasian heroes. Yes, Cianelli's guru is a fanatic at the head of a cult of ritual murderers, but his discourse on what makes a good officer ("Great generals, gentlemen, are not made of jeweled swords and mustache wax. They are made of what is here [touches hand to head] and here [touches hand to heart]!") has stayed with me ever since. Not to mention, before throwing himself into the cobra pit so that his soldiers will move against the British, that "India is my country, and I can die for my country as well as you for yours".

Of course, there is also his rousing speech in the temple to his devotees to "Kill for the love of Kali, kill as you yourselves would be killed, kill for the love of killing...kill, kill, kill!" that carries rather chilling relevance to all too many fanatical groups today (though not worshippers of poor slandered Kali, whose temple in Kolkata I have visited). And it's the bravery of a mistreated Hindu, Gunga Din, who saves the day, and British behinds.

This is a film that functions on many levels and inspired far more than the forgettable remake (SOLDIERS THREE). Its lack of availability on DVD in a fully restored version, together with the accompanying George Stevens, Jr. documentary footage on its making (including color film shot on the location), makes it the number one omission in the current DVD catalog.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Classical Pilates Technique: The Complete Magic Circle Mat Series (Basic; Intermediate; Advanced) & Reformer Mat Workout (Super Advanced) (2003) Review

Since I'm a Pilates fan, I have purchased many DVDs to practice the method. There are a few other videos that show magic circle, but they're way NOT like this DVD.

Classical Pilates shows good fundamentals of using the magic circle, and then they demonstrate a solid beginning workout. After that, they take you into a realm where only the most highly trained classical instructors can demonstrate effectively: a beautiful intermediate level and an advanced level that is superbly executed. As if all of these workouts were not enough, there is something called the Reformer Mat workout. I had never heard of this before. If you go on vacation and don't have your Reformer with you, you can practice all the Reformer exercises on the Mat! This workout is a sight to behold. The woman who performs this workout is so beautiful, strong, and pleasant in her demeanor, that she makes Pilates look like a sheer joy to do!

I have been telling all my friends and family about this DVD because it adds new interesting dimensions to regular Pilates mat exercises. If you get this DVD, you will want to tell your friends!

One last thing: the man that narrates the workouts coaches you with this really cool accent. I don't know where he is from, but his words and voice make me understand the Pilates exercises in ways I never dreamed of before. His voice lulls me into deeper wisdom about the Pilates method every time I listen to the DVD.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Father Goose (1964) Review

This is Cary Grant at his best, he is about the most virsital
actor in his time. and when he did Father Goose he realy did it
good. The show is fun. humorous, and has a great story line.
I put this movie in with my all time favorites. and a must to see. get the popcorn ready and get the kids set down and enjoy the show. My kids loved it as a family tridition, they watched it many times. I promise you will enjoy it too.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The 4400 - The Complete First Season (2004) Review

I caught this mini-series on USA during a marathon leading up to the season finale. It was fantastic to be able to watch the series from start to finish all in one sitting (although six hours of TV watching on one Sunday definitely qualifies me as a couch potato -- at least that day!)

I fell in love with this series and can't wait to buy or rent it to watch it again! The USA message boards on this show were going like crazy after the season finale. It was originally only supposed to be a miniseries, but it got such a huge response from the public that they are producing a second season -- which I can't wait for. I hear it's supposed to air in March 2005 (?).

I highly recommend The 4400 first season to anyone who enjoyed X-Files or Taken. They're not all exactly in the same vein, but enjoyable on the same level nonetheless, particularly if you enjoy sci-fi/aliens/UFOs genre-type stuff.

I highly recommend this series.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Charlton Heston Presents the Bible: Jesus of Nazareth (1997) Review

Charlton Heston is to be commended for his fabulous job in "Jesus of Nazareth". He brings the story of Jesus' life on earth to life as he shows us the places where Jesus lived and taught, while interweaving the appropriate Biblical narratives. Charlton Heston's dramatic readings give this DVD a truly emotional impact. A+++

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) Review

The most important thing to understand about this film is that if you're getting it just because you expect to live up the expectations of its genre... you better not... in fact, that was the debate over Sweetback for years : what was it ? the world's first blaxsploitation film or the world's first black social empowerment movie, a black porno flick or deep social satire ??? B-move trash or a brilliantly inspired art movie... - - The truth is, the strength and weakness of SWEETBACK is that its really all of this, but if you're expecting it to meet the mold of any one of these genre's you'll be disappointed... and that's part of the fun of the film... getting past the shock to see the message, and the message to dig the shock... and just riding along with Sweetback (EWF's soundtrack definitely makes that part easy !) With its gritty, funky tale and soundtrack, ample booty, controversial story no doubt that there's something in it to both appease and offend just about anyone that watches it... so the best thing to do is put it like this : SWEETBACK is a genre all of its own... just sit and watch it in suspended judgement and disbelief... watch it, again and again and again... Depending upon who you are you'll either find it tasty and addictive... or... well, revolting and disgusting... whatever... the fact is when you watch it there's one thing you won't come away seeing, "Man this film reminds me of a film I've seen 100 times before..." Nope... no one really did it before Peebles, and no one (despite all the films it inspired) did it after and that's why you should see it... but again... don't expect Shaft, Rudy Ray Moore or Superfly... that's not what the film is about... and whatever you do DO NOT WATCH IF EASILY OFFENDED... Now, on with the *****ing contest ! ! !

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Shaolin and Wu Tang (1981) Review


The Speeches Collection, Vol. 1 Review

Given that these collections have to be pretty short -- typically 70 minutes -- this one has an amazing range of good material in it. Nearly every major speech of the 1960 campaign and of the presidency is here, althought most have to be represented by brief clips (but the clips are well-chosen). The editing of "Ich bin ein berliner", of the Texas "we will go to the moon" speech, and of the "New Frontier" (1960 convention acceptance speech) in particular, is shrewd and gives you a really good feel for what JFK was good at as a speaker -- probably the last of two great masters (the other was Martin Luther King) of the transitional style (the one we associate with FDR, Robert Taft, Adlai Stevenson, or Douglas MacArthur) in American public address.

Two unfortunate omissions are the American University "peace" address, and the complete omission of material from the Senate. There is occasional overlaying with "nostalgia" footage but it's mercifully brief and seldom obscures the speeches themselves. Clips of the speeches addressing the federalizing of the Alabama Guard in the U of A integration struggle, and of the announcement of the blockade during the Cuban missile crisis, are excellent but it's unfortunate that they are not longer. But these are quibbles.

Some truly great stuff here; a very good cut of the Inaugural (with most of the famous quotes given their proper contexts); nicely chosen clips of the Kennedy-Truman "open convention" squabble; a couple of extemporaneous excoriations of Nixon; the address to Protestant ministers on the subject of Kennedy's religion. Definitely one for your collection if you are interested in public speaking, or if you teach speech or history.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Cleopatra Jones (1973) Review

just like i enjoy Pam Grier's action films i feel the same way about Tamara Dobson in this has action and a feel good quality about it.non-stop.and just like Pam she ain't bad on a Brother's EYEs either.

Infernal Affairs (Wu jian dao) Review

Infernal Affairs is one of the best non-arthouse-ish (in which category I will include the most excellent Wong Kar Wai, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, et al) chinese movies I've seen in recent years, and is remarkably clearheaded and economical on both Hollywood and Hong Kong scales (especially compared to some of the other Andrew Lau movies I've seen, which themselves are relatively clearheaded on the hong kong scale). Lau also works as a cinematographer (both in movies he directs and in others' films) which is very obvious in all of his movies, this one being no exception, but where others are rather well stylized but under/over plotted (The Duel, maybe), Infernal Affairs finds a much needed balance between plot, style, and efficiency.

Something of a mid-key thriller bordering on character-study-done-from-a-distance, the story is told with hardly any extraneous characters or scenes. Its two main characters (moles, respectively, in the HK police and triad) lives' are followed as they and their respective false and true leaders near detection of one-another, but not just the interactions with the traid, police, and their members. Other elements of their lives like chance meetings, love interests, routines are also depicted, which will please those who insist on examining every aspect of a film in order to feel justified in enjoying it, as it works fairly well as a play on the whole "good/evil" thing, the exploration of the ambiguities between the two, while remaining within clear outlines of both good and evil.

But the qualities that make this film enjoyable are not really in any ideas that may be found in abstractions and underlying structures (especially since these sorts of fairly simply-structured stories are a "been-there-done-that" for most moviegoers in terms of analysis). What makes this film enjoyable are the performances and presentation... watching the characters interact, near and play off one-another and the others in their worlds, which is testament to the acting (props especially to Andy Lau and Tony Leung) as well as the Andrew Lau's willingness to forgo the temptation to just throw in as many stereotypical crowd-pleasing elements as he could.

PS - Other Andrew Lau directed films I would recommend include Young and Dangerous 6 (Born to be King), which is nearly as good as Infernal Affairs, and Storm Riders (maybe also The Duel) which is entertainingly convoluted and confusing, has some cool fighting and sfx, and beats the pants off of lots of the recent Hollywood comic-based movies (as opposed to asian Manga based movies, which tend to rawk maybe more than they don't).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Man with Two Brains (1983) Review

"Into the mud, scum queen!"

I hadn't seen this film for about ten years, and yet that line had stuck with me forever. This movie has SO many memorable moments, many of them gloriously ridiculous, many sublimely subtle. Martin, in his early films such as THE JERK, was all over the map, mining for humor. Low humor, physical humor, verbal humor, satire, it didn't matter as long as it might be funny.

This is a low budget movie with some delightfully twisted moments. Martin plays famed brained surgeon, Dr. Huffarahrr (or something like that) who marries one of his patients, the beautiful (but evil) Kathleen Turner, hot off her great role in BODY HEAT. The movie's plot is hardly important mostly revolves around brain surgery jokes and humor at Martin's expense because he is so desparate for intimate relations with his wife, who is mostly hoping he'll die so she can take his money. When Martin falls in love with a disembodied brain (don't ask), things just get weirder. (The brain is voiced by Sissy Spacek, by the way.)

That summary probably doesn't make much sense, but the main thing to remember is that the movie is funny. It feels a bit like a TV movie in its production quality, and it's opening credit style and background music firmly date this movie to the early '80s. And there's a HUGE Merv Griffin joke, so you'd better know who Merv Griffin is. Much of the joke is "low" humor, but it's so well done, so over-the-top, that you can't help but smile.

Man With Two Brains is hardly a work of genius. It isn't as solid as ALL OF ME or PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES, which are slicker films with true hearts...but it is good, dirty fun for 90 minutes. Martin is very funny and we are reminded of his early "glory days" as the nation's hottest comic. Kathleen Turner is a hoot, and it's fun to remember what a bombshell femme fatale she was. The usually reserved and impeccable David Warner (Titanic, Time After Time) gets to get a little unhinged here, and that's fun too. There's a guaranteed laugh about every 60 seconds, so that's a lot of laughs. The movie is VERY inexpensive now, so I heartily recommend taking a look.

Word of warning...the DVD has NO extras. Just the movie. Also, it is "R" rated, and deservedly so...there are some funny but dirty bits here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Stagecoach (1939) Review

A very interesting movie head strong get even in this
movie.Can't help but like this movie make's you wonder how meany
real pepole might have been a simular position.

Monday, November 07, 2005

His And Her Circumstances 1-5 Review

Never before in anime have I truly enjoyed a series of such depth and fullness conveyed in such short, 15-minute episodes. Kare Kano (His and Her Circumstances) is a Japanese manga-turned-anime produced by the famous Studio GAINAX of Evangelion fame. While this series has gained only word-of-mouth popularity in the US, it is a critically acclaimed series in Asia.

STORY: The series is about high school love, the issues relating to maturity into adulthood, and the construction of personal identity. Focusing on the relationship between two top students in 10th grade (HS freshman in Japan), it honestly portrays the humanity of two teenagers facing their own weaknesses, their troubles, and interpersonal relations, and ultimately their "true" identities that they must find and live up to fulfillment. Kare Kano being a shoujo anime (anime targeted for girls) has nothing to do with the accessibility of the series -- it maintains a perfect balance between serious high school drama and cute anime humor that have appealed to all of my friends who watched it, though from personal experience this series would be better appreciated by people who have watched a couple animes and understand the standard anime conventions -- this series definitely uses some art styles quite liberally and refreshingly.

ART: The art style of the series is very fascinating -- most of the time, it switches back and forth between "realistic" and "cartoony" deptions of characters, uses pencil-sketch stills to convey gravity in a situation, and uses heavy amounts of text (like a manga) to depict the mood and atmosphere of a situation -- just like reading an animated comic book. There are certain episodes that take off entirely, however, and use unconventional art styles that bring about a refreshing look -- for example, one episode is nearly entirely done in paper-cut figurines sketched out with pencil, superimposed around shots of real landmarks (school/surroundings in Japan). Stories narrated by difference characters also have different looks as well, such as the manga-loving sister depicting the protagonists' story in a cute, superdeformed art style or the high-school-friend-who-looks-like-a-cute-elementary-school-kid friend who shares her tale in crayon-drawn sketches. Lastly, who could forget the last episode, in which most of the anime are manga stills with a narrator voice-over and melodramatic music? (It works better than it sounds, pun intended.)

MUSIC: I've found the music to be rather pleasing, though on something as subjective as music I suppose YMMV. Because of the nature of this anime, the background music switches between cute, zany anime songs and serious, pensive piano music. It borrows primarily from classical/romantic tradition, with songs as The Girl With Flaxen Hair (Debussy) and On the Central Steppes of Asia (Borodin), though it does feature some J-pop as well. The music does fit the shoujo style well, though.

DISLIKES: It there were anything to be said against the series it would probably be the immense amount of recaps for every anime and recap episodes -- there's around 1+.5+.5 (.5 as in half the episode was a recap) episodes worth of going through the story line *again*. In addition, I was amazed at the capacity in which every single episode intro manages to summarize the plotline of all the episodes before, which, by episode 26 (when you're hearing a recap of 1-25), can be somewhat frustrating. But bear with it -- at least the story that's conveyed in the 10-15 short minutes of the actual anime is developed fuller than any other anime episodes in other series.

*NOTE*: Be very aware that the series does not quite provide resolution -- it's not supposed to, since episodes 1-26 only cover the storyline arch of the manga up to manga 8. Kare Kano has progressed to manga 17 in Japan right now with the Arima arc being resolved -- the story is excellent I might add, though you'll need some Japanese comprehension to understand the manga. It is rumored that a second DVD series is coming out, though since there has been a falling out between GAINAX and the comic book writer the chances of a second DVD set is becoming slim... :(

CONCLUSION: I've lived through my fair share of academic competition, procrastination, and anime watching, and I have to conclude that this by far one of the better anime series I've seen! "Honest" is the best adjective that comes in describing this coming-of-age story, with "beautiful" coming in as a close second. Don't miss this!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Twin Peaks - Fire Walk with Me (1992) Review

It blows my mind how people criticize this movie. Check this movie out, along with all of David Lynch's movies.

The Horse Soldiers (1959) Review

I am an unabashed fan of John Wayne movies from "Stagecoach" to "The Shootist." Among them all, "The Horse Soldiers" is my personal favorite.

John Ford captures, in vivid, robust color, the pageantry of the Union and Confederate cavalries. With flags flying, horses pounding, and bugles blaring, Ford and Wayne create sheer movie entertainment. The musical score by David Buttolph perfectly captures the varying moods of the film and complements the stirring visual images. From "I Left My Love" to the "Bonnie Blue Flag," the music accents the film's emotions. William Holden and Constance Towers are well-cast as Wayne's nemesis. The supporting cast is bolstered with many Wayne regulars, including Ken Curtus (Festus from "Gunsmoke").

Many criticize the factual inaccuracies in John Wayne films. So what! He didn't intend to make documentaries, he intended to make rousing, entertaining movies. I will always believe this was his best...

Friday, November 04, 2005

VeggieTales - Heroes of the Bible - Lions, Shepherds and Queens (Oh My!) Review

Dave and the Giant Pickle - 5/5 One of those veggietales that you think to yourself, "When will this be on dvd?"
Ester, the Girl Who Became Queen - 2.5/5 not my favorite veggietales, but it has it's moments.
Daniel and the Lions Den - 4/5 it has a few great musical performances and conversations.
This was sort of a "compilation" of Veggietales that was released on VHS in 1996. Dave in the giant picckle is a 30 minute episode, as is Ester. Daniel is only 15 minutes, but for the price, your paying only a little bit more for two and a half times the running time as opposed to the other videos and dvd's. I really can't wait. Seing the other veggie's on dvd, I'm sure this will have much imroved sound and slightyly improved picture. Feel free to leave me a helpful/not helpful feedback. God Bless America!

E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial (Widescreen Collector's Edition) (1982) Review

A lot of people aren't prone to DVD bonus features because they feel that it takes away from the initial movie-going/ watching experience. This DVD reaches above and beyond most others in regards to the bonus features. I wish to focus on one feature, however, and that is the 20th anniversary special showing that occured in LA. In case you are not aware of what I am writing about. John Williams conducted a live score which played while the film was being viewed at the premire of the 20th anniversary showing. Despite that fact that two hours of constant playing is a task in itself, attempting to parallel the score to the actual film footage in front of a live audience is above and beyond the call. Spielberg actually offers the DVD purchaser three versions of the film: the original theatrical release, the 20th re-release (which has a few tweaks to the digital representation of certain words to ET (ultimately making his mouth round out for words spoken)), and the 20th re-release with the live score by John Williams. THe latter is the most breathtaking which, after watching all three, is why I give this film a 5. It reintroduces this film with a brilliantly clean audio presentation. If you enjoyed this film the first time around, it is definitely worth the DVD purchase.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Jungle Fever (1991) Review

One of Spike Lee's best films, "Jungle Fever" comments more on race relations in America, than on the subject of adultery. Spike is all over the place with his take on male/female relationships, the devastation wrought on a family and the Black community by crack cocaine, the "color line" in the Italian community and interracial relationships. But he seems to pull it all together to make a powerful film and one of the best of the '90s.

The acting is terrific with the standout performance being Samuel L. Jackson's as Gator, Wesley Snipes ill fated brother. He's charming, comical and evil all at once. And Wesley showed his range as an actor through his performance as Flipper, the "good son," who has a momentary lapse in character and has an affair with his secretary, Annabella Sciorra. All the performances are great and the actors get you to care about the characters they present. Wesley's performance came after the strong work he did as Nino Brown in "New Jack City" and I don't remember an actor "flippin' the script" on the movie going public like that, going from evil to good, in one year in a long time.

You could look at Flipper and Angie as symbols of Black and White America, trying to come together and the obstacles we face as a nation when we don't deal with the issue of race honestly. Something we're still going through. This film also deals with our dishonesty with dealing with the drug problem too, and this is where Spike deserves credit. No one is left unexamined by this tale of life and there are no happy endings either from Gator being murdered by his father, to Flipper and Angie breaking up.

I love how Spike begins and ends the movie. Spike shows in the beginning a couple, obviously in love, in Wesley and Lonnette Mc Kee, (in a strong, small supporting role as Drew) that leads you to believe nothing could tear them apart. When you get to the end, Wesley and Lonnette are trying to make a go at it, but through Lonnette's tears, you see she's just going through the motions, hoping to put away the pain through the lovemaking. When she tells him "he better leave now," you can tell the hurt she's experienced can't be "loved away" like he'd like.

Critics of this film usually state Spike should have stuck to telling one story. What must be said is that while Spike explores a range of contemporary issues in this film, he has made a film of power and emotion, that definitely draws an opinion out of you, one way or another. An underrated, overlooked masterpiece.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995) Review

What a hilarious movie. I was so impressed how three straight men like Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo were able to pull off playing the roles of three drag queens. The scenes in this movie are completely hilarious. There are also great supporting performances by Robin Williams, Stockard Channing, Blythe Danner, Michael Vartan and a special appearance by RuPaul. This movie is filled with hilarious lines, funny situations, some good music, amazing acting and some touching moments. I definitely recommend this movie. This film may not have won an Oscar or a Golden Globe but it has won my heart with it's endearing characters and that's enough for me. Too Wong Foo is what great drag movies are all about.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Man for All Seasons (1966) Review

I have loved this movie since I saw it in its original release too many years ago. Certainly, Sir Thomas More was a magnificent person who died a martyr and has been canonized a saint. However, don't confuse the play and movie with the flesh and blood man. He was much more complex in real life than the purely noble performance of Paul Scofield. You can read the biography of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd to get at some of his complexities.

But this is a wonderful movie and I recommend it with great enthusiasm. It is a powerful movie and can have some useful at least temporary curative effect on the soul suffering under the ironical detachment and cynicism of our time. Scofield is wonderful and the definitive performance of this role. Orson Welles is quite special as the corpulent and corrupt Cardinal Wolsey. John Hurt is superb as the traitor Richard Rich. Shaw is fine as Henry VIII as is the rest of the cast.

And who can forget the line where More asks to see chain of office that Richard Rich was given to perjure himself and betray More. After examining it and being told that Sir Richard was made the Attorney General of Wales More says, "Richard, it profits a man nothing to trade his soul for the whole world, but for Wales ..." Wonderful stuff.

The disk offers the wide screen theatrical release and a full screen version for those who like to see less of the picture in order to avoid the upper and lower "bars". There is also the original trailer.

There are no other features on the disk beyond scene selection.

This disk belongs in every collection and should be reviewed regularly as an healthful tonic to help remedy the bilious nihilism of our age.

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