Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Come Undone (2000) Review

This movie has recieved several bad reviews and I can understand that. This movie is a rather complex movie and not the typical "first gay love movie", but if you like movies that are not, this one if a must have. The movie is not a hardcore sex movie, in fact there is only one scene of sex, in the movie. The positives of this movie are, it uses silence as a tool and it looks into a differnt kind of first love, one that doesn't turn out in the same way other movies portray. Again, I only recomend this movie to people who enjoy complex movies and are not looking for just hardcore sex.

Jackie Brown (Collector's Edition) (1997) Review

For starters this is my favorite film by director Quentin Tarantino. Ostensibly, it's an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's "Rum Punch" but in reality it is a vehicle for one of Tarantino's favorite actresses, Pam Grier. Much like the "Kill Bill" films did for Uma Thurman, Grier shines under the loving direction of Tarantino. The story, though elaborate, seems superfluous to the acting here and the interaction between these interesting characters. Grier is just brilliant as the stewardess at middle-age caught between a rock and a hard place with the Feds and the gun runner, Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson). You can sense that she will be able to manipulate her way out of this sticky situation through guts and common sense. Jackson has never been better as the charismatic, yet cruel, gun-runner. Robert Forster as the love-sick bailbondsman, Max, effectively plays a man who helps Jackie more through emotion than his own common sense. Bridget Fonda as Melanie the slacker beach bunny gives a multi-hued performance to a part that could have been written off as a stereotype. Robert DeNiro, is sublimely clueless as Louis, Ordell's jailhouse buddy. Michael Keaton delivers solid work as Ray the Fed. Tarantino delivers an effective soundtrack of vintage r'n'b. The extras on the DVD are excellent, my favorite being trailers from the careers of Grier and Forster.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Office Space (Widescreen Edition) (1999) Review

If you work in an office, surrounded by synthetic humanoids who only appear to be alive. If you toil away daily at a desk, in a room with no ceiling, filing reports that have little or no bearing on reality. If your "job" has driven you to consider suicide, homicide, or grand larceny. If your boss is a smirking, passive-aggressive reptile. If you continually wake up in the morning wondering how it all came to this, you simply MUST see OFFICE SPACE. A riot from start to finish, this movie manages to assault and dismantle the entire culture of anesthetized office-drones we've cultivated. Mike Judge takes aim and blasts away at all the idiotic things that make corporate America such a dull, hideously generic nightmare. Please, watch this movie immediately! It may give you hope. It will definitely make you laugh! Imagine waking up on Monday morning, turning off the alarm, rolling over, and going back to sleep! Imagine ignoring your boss' monotone drivel! Imagine showing up for work late -DAYS late- wearing comfortable clothes, not caring one bit whether you get fired or promoted! OFFICE SPACE shows how truly unnatural and inhuman our workday has become. A modern classic! ...

Monday, December 26, 2005

Midnight Cowboy (1969) Review

One of Jon Voight's first films, this was the one that kicked off his film career. This would be the film that also exploited Dustin Hoffman's true acting talent. This would also be the first X-rated film ever to win an Oscar for Best Picture (although by today's standards, it would barely even be rated-R). This would also be one of the first great films that kicked off one of the best decades of American film, the 1970s.

I'd been dying to see this film for some time. It was a landmark film in so many ways and it was great in so many ways. It's a story about a very positive, though very naive boy from Texas named Joe Buck (Jon Voight) whose past haunts him and wants to escape his hometown Texas life (and his past) for a life of sex and gigolo-ism in New York City. He finds that the New York life isn't all it's made out to be and he struggles, all the while getting hustled himself and having to subject himself to the pains and horrors of a small-town kid trying to make it in the big city. He befriends one of the guys who hustles him (Dustin Hoffman) and you see their friendship grow throughout the film as they struggle to survive together.

I thought the film was incredibly well done. It was real ahead of it's time for 1969, complete with flashbacks, flashing images, personal horror, violent emotion. The direction was phenomenal and the acting was some of the best these actors have done in their careers. The mise-en-scene portrays a very dark NYC complete with homelessness, violence, anger, etc. The kind of NYC you feel in many films of the 70s - Rosemary's Baby, Saturday Night Fever, any Woody Allen film etc.

I really felt every shift in emotion that I don't get from very many films nowadays. The flashes going through the mind aren't just of his past but of his present and of both simultaneously. His inner conflict is further complicated by his sense of southern positive yet naive attitude toward life that makes the viewer feel a huge sense of sympathy towards him. His ability to forgive those who've hustled him and to befriend complete strangers pains the viewer because you almost want him to walk away. To go back home. But as we learn later in the film, even his resilience is challenged.

His sympathy towards other human beings is what seems to keep him going. His desire to make it big is only paralleled with his desire to have a companion in life. He finds it in Enrico Rizzo (Hoffman) and you see a true friendship take form.

The film was overall pretty depressing but just a great feat of filmmaking that I would suggest to anyone who wants a great film to watch.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Fist of Legend (1997) Review

Personally i dont like Bruce Lee, i think he sucks, all he does is scream like somebody kicked him in the balls and then throws some lame kick, i am a better fighter then him, dont believe me come over and well play. This movie was made in 1993, but looks like its from 1950. The quality sucks terribly and is unbearible, the sound is hiddious, and the way the people talk is laughable, they open their mouths once and an entire sentence is heard and 2 sentences pop up on screen in the subtitles, the only bearable thing about the movie is the fights, of which are many but short, but good none the less. But even the fights have flaws, lots of people say there is no wire fu, not that im against it, but theres tons of it in this one, everytime somebody gets hit they go flyin, and the fights are almost cartoonish, definetly not Yuen's best, they look more fake then anything ive seen and have ridiculous camera angles and some of the moves are just plain funny, but theyre slighty average and watchable for fans of Bruce Lee's gay movies (i mean really why does he fight some 8 foot tall black guy with an afro who moves slower then MOlases and have a hard time in one of his movies thats funnier then anycomedy ive seen). When there isnt fighting there is some poor attempt at a story, but its just a plain bad excuse for a movie, i say its a better comedy because its so much like a bruce lee "film" its almost impossible not to laugh. I would suggest CTHD, the matrix trilogy, or Kill Bill if your lookin for good Yuen Wo Ping fights, and they are also much better overall films then this. The guy from Napoleon Dynamite could beat up Bruce Lee, o yeah Comedies suck, but this has got to be one of the best, ive never laughed so much in my life, sorry Yuen im a big fan but maybe this movie was destined to suck, it is a remake of a Bruce movie afterall. 1 out of a 10 for the fights, but they could have been better.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Anne of Green Gables (1986) Review

This is a wonderful movie! It makes me wish that I could have lived back in that time and on that wonderful Island.

Bullet in the Head (1990) Review

To say "Bullet In The Head" is just another one of Woo's gun-slinging, bullet-dodging feel-good action movies would be to discredit the director's much more ambitious undertaking on this project. No doubt "Bullet" delivers the usual action thrill ride to satisfy the average fan of this genre, but a closer look will tell you that Woo is also attempting a serious discourse here on the socio-political upheavals in 1960's Asia, and more importantly, an examination of human nature in relation to war and violence.

The story takes place in Hong Kong in the 1960's. Three young men (played by Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Jacky Cheung, and Waise Lee) with distinct personalities, but all from the same poor working class neighborhood, decide to embark on a Chinese mafia-sponsored smuggling scheme to Vietnam. They arrive at their destination, only to find that the chaos and violence on the streets of Saigon isn't much different from that of the world that they had known back in Hong Kong. Soon they are making enemies with the mafia, and are hunted by the South Vietnamese military. Ultimately, their friendship is called into question as they consume themselves in a deadly melee bound by survival, greed and vengeance.

All of Woo's classic themes are on display in this movie --- namely the themes of fraternity, vengeance, and the tragic hero. However, the portrait of Asia in the 1960's as a historical backdrop to the story proves to be more than incidental. The period was an era of great social and political turmoil in Asia, as it was in most of the other parts of the world. Hong Kong was deeply divided between the royalists and the anti-imperialist student movement spurted by the new communist regime in Mainland China (Woo himself has actually said that he had taken inspiration from the political unrest from the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests in China in making this movie), whereas Vietnam saw itself torn apart by a bloody civil war that knew no bounds to its horrific toll on its own people. Woo, although probably bogged with the usual problems that plagues Hong Kong cinema, namely a low budget and production values, manages to capture the chaos and distress of his generation --- there are plenty of realistic scenes of student protesters clashing with the police on the streets of Hong Kong, and guerilla warfare in the muddy jungles of Vietnam. Woo first exposes the corruptive South Vietnamese regime, and the ruthlessness that it employs in treating the revolutionaries, however, the audience soon sees the communist rebels in the mountains, whose bloodthirsty and sadistic ways mirror the very regime that they are trying to overthrow. Caught in the crossfire are the lives of innocent civilians, who become sacrifices to a war where there's really no rights and wrongs, and where human beings are merely pawns in the quest for power and fortunes. One actually begins to wonder whether or not the director is asserting an anti-war message in this movie.

As is characteristic with most of Woo's early Hong Kong work, the brilliance of this movie lies not in the plot and its execution, which is at times loose and hasty, but in the way the actors shine through the sincere portrayals of their characters. Tony Leung ("In The Mood For Love") delivers a convincing performance as the conflicted leader of the pack, who faces many internal strives throughout the movie. Waise Lee ("A Better Tomorrow") paints a decent transformation of a man who turns into a monster consumed by greed. The award for most notable performance, however, must go to Jacky Cheung. Cheung ("As Tears Go By"), a Cantonese pop singer by trade in real life, plays a man who is pushed past the edges of his humanity by the insanity of war and sadistic violence, and who goes through the dramatic change from a working class street delinquent to a deranged, cold-blooded assassin who kills for money to fill his morphine addiction. Cheung succeeds in delivering a convincing performance with a sort of unreserved sincerity in his acting. That sincerity, although at times a bit overly earnest in this movie, is genuine throughout. One can not help but feel both pity and indignation for his character as he wrestles madly for the injection syringe, and stares blindly into the eyes of his long-lost friend, Leung, as the latter decides that he must kill his best friend in order to save him from further suffering.

In the end, Woo does not offer a moralistic judgment on his characters or the events surrounding them in this movie, as is true with a lot of his other work. What he is more interested in here is how a human being reacts, and is transformed by the situation that he's forced into. In this case it's three young and ambitious men who had set out to take over the world, but in confronting the realities of war and violence, find that it's the exact opposite that takes place. Also thematic of Woo's work is that the victory of the good in the face of evil is never obvious, even the line between good and evil itself is extremely elusive, and the heroes do not always live. What he seems to be implying here is that violence and virtues are often irrevocably linked, and the survival of the body is determined by the survival of the will.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

24 - Season One (2002) Review

I bought this DVD series hoping to encounter something as original as the X-files, or at least as suspenseful as Alias. However, what I received is a stripped down "drama" that is driven more by its own premise [24 hours IN REAL TIME!] than any sensible plot line.

After the first few episodes aroused my curiosity,I found the experience of watching subsequent episodes annoying. The business about who on the inside is "dirty" was played around and around from every angle. Then, implausible events are scripted so more instant drama can be injected. Like leaving the captureded "dirty" one unattended with a cell phone. What? And the inclusion of the seriously overwrought Palmer, Democratic presidential candidate, and his hyper-absorbtion in his son's possible wrongdoing -- takes up way, way too much of the story line. In fact, if you start stripping away the filler in this series, you end up with something that could be told in 2 hours as opposed to 24.

This is the rare series that was probably more palatable with commercial interruptions in between so you could have a respite from the unrelenting hype-fear-tension-OH NO WHAT'S NEXT rigid atmosphere of this very unoriginal story. Further there is not a hint of irony, self-reflection or humanity with respect to any of the characters in "active" mode other than the Sutherland character and possibly his daughter.

I finally had to stop watching it because I began to dread wasting 45 minutes per episode. I really didn't care what happened to any of the characters -- there is little or no character development here. On the other hand, there is some good acting. Kiefer Sutherland does a tremendous job within the narrow confines of his part.

How this managed to continue beyond the first season is a mystery to me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

2004 World Series - Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals Review

I was very excited to get this DVD - especially after enjoying "similar" DVDs celebrating the Patriots SuperBowl victories - but I was very disappointed when I watched it. Compared to NFL films, this DVD is amateurish.

Why? First, production values are very poor. From the video, which is often looks like they used a VHS copy of the cable broadcast (the playoff games were broadcast in HDTV - so there is no excuse for this), to lame menus and even some major audio-synch problems (Bob Ryan's interview at the beginning looks like a badly dubbed foriegn film) this DVD looks literally slapped together.

The highlights are nothing you haven't seen a million times before (same broadcast camera angles, same broadcast audio) and there is nothing new revealed here. Plus, they left out some critical plays (how can you review Game 6 of the ALCS and not show A-Rod swiping the ball from Arroyo or the overturned Home-Run call??).

Basically - the recap stuff NESN can pull together in a day is worlds better than this and I hope their DVD does the Red Sox season justice. At least this thing costs under $20.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Xanadu (1980) Review

Ok reading some of these reviews are making me sick! This movie is very well put together. It has its moments kof goof and not so good effects/acting/directing. It looks like that it was filmed in different sections, by different directors, porducers, and tecs. Then it was put together by one director that did not seem to get together and agree on the way the film was to flow. I liked reading the one review about the history of a muse. I was raised Christian so Greek Mith. Was not exposed to me. I found the dream sequence very interesting. It explained why ONJ and Kelly recited the first few lines of the poem. I never understood that until I read that review. I meet ONJ her in Dallas back in 1990. She was so pretty and very nice. She was opening up a store called Quala Blue, that later folded. I also purched a music video on VHS called OLIVIA in concert. Between songs she was talking to the audience. She was talking about a current movie that she made called Xanadu. The audience went wild. She seemd shocked and exclaimed "You mean you've seen it??" Then she started in on the Xanadu song. I was way to young when the movie came out, at the age of 8. The first time that I viewed it I was in awa not understanding it at all!! Then after seeing it over and over agin the movie grew on me, and now I love it!! I never listen to what the critics say about movies, I form my own opion. It is an interpretation of Greek mith. With a spin on {that time} today's style and entertainment. By that I mean, look at Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Joseph and the Amazing Tecnocolor Dream Coat. They are about, in some form or fasion, a religous story line, with contemporary interpretations for entertainment val

Female Masturbation : Every Woman's Orgasm is Unique. Review

Watching this real woman in a state of bliss as she takes herself up and down the mountains and valleys of pleasure taught me so much about a woman's orgasm. I had no idea that such slow strokes and caresses, as she demonstrates, are so truly sensational and so entirely gratifying. After viewing this DVD, I felt confident I could learn and use the masturbation techniques demonstrated on my wife. I did, to her great delight, giving her her best orgasm ever! Thank you for such a splendid educational DVD!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998) Review

For those of you who believe in love no matter the age difference, How Stella Got Her Groove Back will keep you coming back...again and again! While I don't agree with every scenario and some of it is a bit hard to believe (but hey, can't a person dream?), I can undeniably relate to its contribution to society. It is well written, and Angela Bassett (Stella) and Taye Diggs (Winston) do a wonderful job making their characters believable. This movie makes you want to hop a flight to the Islands for a little fun and relaxation of your own! Complement your purchase of the movie with the novel; I hear it's even better!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sabrina (1995) Review

This film is definetly different from the original, but I think Julia Ormond did a grand job.
Not only is she lovely, but she can act well. One of the main differences is the servants(Thats minor), and the fact that she goes to Paris for photography, instead of cooking. Which is to bad because thats one of the things I enjoyed about the original.
Still I think Julia makes a good Sabrina.
And I happen to love the lady that plays the spanish maid! I thought she was funny.
Another actor was Harrison Ford. He was good as well.
David played by Greg Kinnear, was even sort of identical to the original David. I was impressed by his acting as well.
This has pretty much the same story line. The father is pretty much the same and I thought he was perfect for the part. This is still an enjoyable remake, though lacking some charm from the first.
Let's put it this way, it's modern!
Overall, I have seen it dozens of time and enjoy it. It was a good movie. I do not reccomend it as a remake, but as a comical enjoyable movie.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Signing Time: An American Sign Language (ASL) Video for Children Review

I bought this for my 1yr old niece for her birthday and I am very impressed with it! We watched the video together, and she watched it the whole time and even did a few "baby signs" kind of like babble :) I know sign language myself and do some interpreting and I absolutely recommend this video. I have seen others that I thought were not so great...but this one is fantastic!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Highlander - Endgame (2000) Review

better than Highlander3, way better. this one has Adrian Paul and Christopher Lambert, both McClouds, teaming up to stop the evil Brucy Payne(the preist Jacob) and it tells of great storys with nice action scenes including scenes with Donnie Yen(from Blade2 and Iron Monkey). theres like one scene with sex and thats with Adrian Paul and his wife. though I hated seeing Lambert's head get chopped off but hey, thats the way it is and the ending where Paul thinks his wife is dead but shes not and she appears is a great ending.

The Flintstones - The Complete First Season (1960) Review

I was glad to see that the shows look great restored digitally, but the extras contain poor interviews and somewhat lousy early drawing animation on the series. Again, Warners DVD production is sub-par and this set might not be worth the price tag on it, only the shows are worth it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hell's Angels (1930) Review

The famous film which was produced and directed by Howard Hughes and introduced a sensational new platinum blonde siren by the name of Jean Harlow. The simple plot has two brothers leave their studies at Oxford to join the British Royal Flying Corps at the outbreak of WWI. In its day, the film garned fantastic reviews for the aerial sequences which are first rate. The air shots were considered awesome, thrilling and immensely impressive to the audiences of 1930. The acting was merely sufficient; even in pantomime, it would be hard to accept Jean Harlow as an English girl or Lyon & Hall as Oxford students. It would take Harlow more acting experience in the movies before her comedic gifts would be realised and appreciated by the public and critics alike. Critics had field day exposing the inept "acting" of Harlow in her early pictures; however beginning with RED HEADED WOMAN (1932) the critics and public alike were beginning to sit up and stare with utter amazement and delight at her metamorphasis as an actress. In the priorly named picture, the titian haired (it was dyed for her role) Harlow knocked the critics socks off with her uninhibited playing and in her next picture she would be teamed with none other than Gable. RED DUST was a sensational blockbuster in 1932.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Parent Trap (Vault Disney Collection) (1961) Review

I'm not even a Disney fan but I love this movie. The script is intelligent and witty and the actors are all wonderful, including the supporting cast. I first watched this film as a child; I am now 40 and still haven't tired of the film. It doesn't feel dated at all.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Fushigi Yugi - The Mysterious Play - (Boxed Set 1, Suzaku) Review

Fushigi Yugi is an awsome series. Even though im into mecha anime this series is still worth watching.

Fushigi Yugi in my opinion is a comedy. Even though it has drama, lots of mushy mushy love, and action it falls more into comedy. It falls into comedy because when stupid stuff happens the animation changes and the characters look funny (they look like little people with fat heads).

The only thing I dislike was when Yui, the preistest of seiyu, for about half the series is fighting Miaka, the preistest of Suzaku, because she felt that Miaka abandoned her for a boy Tomahome, who is part of the Suzaku Seven, who she liked also, but overall this anime is awsome and worth watching.

Friday, December 09, 2005

VeggieTales - The Ballad of Little Joe (2003) Review

I have two daughters ages, 20 months and 3 1/2. They both loved this movie. My youngest refers to Larry as Joe due to this movie. The story is fun, fast paced, and entertaining to people of all ages. I find taking a Bible story and applying it to another age and time helps children be able to apply the scriptures to themselves and to their situations today. My oldest will talk about how bad things can happen and God still loves us after we watch this film. (My daughters like it so much that sometimes this seems like it is too oftern)

The Source (1999) Review

Released in 1999 to coincide with the publication of "The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats", this Chuck Workman documentary is a kaleidoscope of film clips, photos and interviews with a particular focus on Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. I looked forward to seeing this video in anticipation of learning something. After all, these writers influenced the era in which I was growing up and opened unique and dramatic new ways of viewing the world. Tracing the early beginnings in the 1940s and bringing the movement right up to the present, it showed the changes in these young men (and they were ALL men) through the years.

With the exception of Allen Ginsberg, they look like they all turned...out of touch with reality and locked into a way of thinking whose off-kilter attitude which was once hip, turned into an off-kilter attitude which never grew out of the fifties and seems "mental" today. Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti look like bad smelling derelicts. On a talk show in later years Kerouac, with slurred speech insists that the Vietnam war was a plot of the Vietnamese to get American jeeps and, in a later interview with William F. Buckley Jr., his eyes are red-rimmed and droopy and his words seem like babble as he is demolished by the precise cutting words of his host. The film moves fast and the clips come one after another. Often, the cast of characters are not identified and it was hard for me to follow just who was who. There's Ken Kesey. And Neal Cassady. And short film clips from 50s TV shows from Father Knows Best and Alfred Hitchcock poking fun at the Beatniks. It was hard to follow any individual story line and I found myself getting bored.

Several well known actors were hired to read some of the writing itself. Johnny Depp did a good job of reading Kerouac and Dennis Hopper read from Burroughs. John Turturro, was emotional in his reading of insberg's "Howl" but he never rose above the material. I wish this film was better. I would really like to know more about the beats. For years I've carried around the idea that some day I'd pick up acopy of "On the Road" or "Naked Lunch" in a secondhand book store and explore these writers for myself. But frankly, after hearing bits andpieces of them in this film, I've lost most of my interest. These ravings from angry young men intent on ripping preconceived culture apart certainly did influence our world. I say "hooray" for the effort. I'm personally glad that they opened the way to the future. But, after seeing this film, I'm not sure I want to enter their world through their words.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Pillow Book (1997) Review

The Pillow Book is easily one of the most beautiful, moving and thought-provoking films EVER made. I've watched it at least a dozen times - not for the male nudity as I'm a heterosexual male - but for Peter Greenaway's stunning vision of the human fact he paints a portrait of the likes of the Shanes of this world, the clueless people who wander through this world being duped by the guileless publishers of this world - it's no wonder the poor man who drinks from a colostomy bag (no wonder he obviously prefers today's Hollywood crap) doesn't know it.

The Ed Wood Box (Glen or Glenda / Jail Bait / Bride of the Monster / Plan 9 from Outer Space / Night of the Ghouls / The Haunted World of Ed Wood) Review

to offer a better Ed Wood package at such an unbelievable price.
It includes all the key films, in not pristine but quite nice prints, and with a really decent selection of extras. Each disc comes in its own keep-case, and with appropraitely cheesy graphics. An absolute must! Kind of makes you wonder why other box sets are so much more expensive, doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pink Floyd - The Wall (1982) Review

I feel like a total fool trying to write a review of "Pink Floyd: The Wall." There is almost no point in even attempting to summarize this extraordinarily symbolic and emotionally complex film into a few hundred words. It's like trying to fully explain why you love someone on one side of a postage stamp. But, I'm always eager to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in order to review nearly everything I see on DVD or read. Why should Pink Floyd's magnum opus be any different? Actually, this film meant more to me roughly fifteen years ago than it does now. Back then I was an impressionable lad with nothing more than a car and Pink Floyd's entire catalogue on CD to my name. More than any of Pink Floyd's other albums, "The Wall" is probably the one most suited to young people. Its themes of emotional and physical alienation, its strident antiestablishment views toward education, and its bleak condemnation of war resonate most with kids who think they can change the world. By the time you get a few years under your belt, by the time life wears you down a bit and makes you more accepting of the massive hypocrisy we all toil under, the album loses a bit of its luster. Don't get me wrong; "The Wall" is still one of the best rock operas ever created, and the movie is still worth watching.

The story, as though I even need to summarize it, concerns the tumultuous life of troubled rock star Pink (Bob Geldof). Here's a guy who has a whole host of ailments eating away at his soul. It would appear that being rich and famous, immensely talented, and the envy of millions everywhere isn't the type of life one would wish on their worst enemy. First of all, Pink's father perished in the ill-fated attempt to hold the Anzio beachhead in 1944, thus robbing our protagonist of a strong male influence during his childhood. With his father gone forever, Pink grew up under the stern gaze of his domineering mother, which shaped his outlook on future relationships with women. In fact, we see just how difficult it is for Pink to deal with females when he nearly murders a groupie during a rampage through a hotel room and in his growing distance from his pretty wife. Second, Pink didn't function well during his school days. His teachers at school mocked his penchant for writing song lyrics--from "Dark Side of the Moon," no less!--and spent all of their time trying to break down his individualism so they could turn him into a faceless drone. Life is apparently quite tough in merry old England.

Don't worry, there are many more dilemmas our hero must deal with before he can tear down wall he built to keep people out so he can reconnect with humanity. The third major problem Pink deals with is his drug addiction, which has spiraled out of control and threatens to claim his life. He's so bad off that he spends most of his off time nodding off in a hotel room watching old war films on television while a cigarette burns to an ash between his fingers. He almost passes over to the other side at one point, but his manager (played by Bob Hoskins) manages to revive him just in time for his next concert performance. Finally (or fourth, whichever you prefer), it seems living the life of a rock star is eerily similar to a career as a fascist dictator. You can march on stage clad entirely in black, wearing an armband with a pair of crossed hammers on it, and preach to the adoring masses. You can order underlings to physically remove riffraff from the room, and send them out into the streets to wreak havoc on the decadent society. Yep, living on stage sure has its problems. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Pink also undergoes several horrific hallucinations. Good grief! It's amazing most (but not all) of the conclusion is as redemptive as it is.

It's impossible to argue that "Pink Floyd: The Wall" isn't an amazing film. The sights and sounds seen in this movie stay with you for years afterwards: the Gerald Scarfe animation sequences, Geldof's creepy ability to portray a man completely detached from reality, and of course the music. Ahhh, the music! Pink Floyd went back into the studio to rerecord most of the songs, and even added a few more intriguing bits to the mix. It is in this film where one finds what is perhaps the most depressing Floyd song ever, the dirge "When the Tigers Broke Free." It's a heartbreaking tune describing the death of Pink's father (also Roger Water's father) at Anzio, and Pink's discovery of a form letter from the King of England, "signed with his own rubber stamp," offering condolences to the family for the loss of his father. Soul shattering stuff even though the song probably would fit better on "The Final Cut," the album that followed "The Wall." I could go and on with the mind blowing stuff in the movie. You definitely wouldn't want to watch this bleak film if you're feeling blue.

The best thing about "The Wall" coming out on DVD are the extras. The commentary track alone, with Gerald Scarfe and Roger Waters, is worth the price of the disc. We finally get to hear exactly what these guys were trying to accomplish with the film. We also get to hear Waters's astonishing admission that his only regret about the movie is that it doesn't contain any humor. Humor? In "The Wall"? Imagine that! Fans of the greatest rock band in modern history must pick this one up posthaste. And if you haven't seen it, you don't know what you are missing.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) Review

I remember seeing this movie on late-night TV as a kid, and was happy to discover it had at last been re-issued on DVD and VHS. It's an exciting and unusual survival story set in the 1950s about a group of men whose unscheduled airplane goes down in the desert. At the urging of one of their members, they take on an impossible task: they must build a new plane from the pieces of the old one before they run out of water.

The drama of the situation is what propels the movie forwards, and this has stood the test of time very well. The style of movie-making, however, seems a bit old-fashioned: the characters are stereotyped (the German is the bad guy, the Irishman is cantankerous, the Brit is stoic and arrogant, etc). The actors breath some real life into the parts despite this; Jimmy Stewart in particular is outstanding.

The soundtrack is overbearing, and the whole thing plays out slowly. It's probably 50 minutes into the movie before they decide to build a new plane, and the plane doesn't take off until 2 hours and 20 minutes into the film. If you were raised on newer films you will wish they sliced half an hour out of it.

But I didn't mind it at all: it's a classic story, a unique and gripping film. Also, if you are looking for an inspiring story appropriate for the whole family, it's a great choice It's a little too spooky for the very young, but no real swearing, nothing too adult, and only one bit of (off-screen) violence. The message of the power of human resolve and ingenuity is great for all ages.

Dances with Wolves (Full Screen Theatrical Edition) (1990) Review

Whether Kevin Costner likes it or not, his career will be inexorably tied to this masterpiece of cinematography. Written as a novel basically just for this film's screenplay by Michael Blake, this is a journey for all ages to see. There are attempts to validate the accuracy of the history or intention of this movie. I believe it would be missing the point. There are no villains or heroes (though Dunbar may be tried to be portrayed in such a light), just a view of how people of a different ethos try to survive amongst each other where suspicions and distrust run high.
As an actor, this is Kevin at his best. Though solid in 'Open Range', Dance With Wolves gave Costner more of a spectrum of emotion to handle. He dealt with many situations here with a believable sense of drama. I do have one tiny detail with his character. He speaks his narration like he is proof-reading his junior-high school essay. Very flat and monotone. But maybe it done that way to enhance the onscreen action. Who knows?
An intregal element to the movie was to cast exactly the right people to support the film. And no film in recent memory in my opinion handled that privilege better than here. Everyone from Kicking Bird, Stands With a Fist, Wind in His Hair right down to characters such as Smiles-A-Lot, Corporal Spivey and Black Shawl performed without flaw. The script enabled everyone to let their roles come alive.
The extended scenes not in the original release, while not essential, do heighten what Blake tried to get across in the story. More importantly, I did not feel the movie dragging with the additions. I like to think of it as more movie for the dollar.
The extras on the DVD are standard fare and do not penalize one's interest in the film's production. The people interviewed were frank and fun to listen to. So go ahead and pick up Dances With Wolves. It's a well-paced movie that lets a spare four hours go by regretlessly.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Rookie of the Year (1993) Review

Rookie of the year is one of my favorite movies from when I was a kid. I don't know about the DVD, but the movie's great. A kid breaks his arm and then the tendons fuse together to give him a 100+ mph pitch that blows the socks off of the scouts for the Chicago Cubs. He gets a contract and plays for them, but will all his dreams come true, or come crashing down?! Mowahaha! Definately get this one and watch it with the kids!!

Winchester '73 (1950) Review

This movie can do no wrong in my book.

Two greats, Anthony Mann and Jimmy Stewart, team up to deliver this two-fister about an obsessed man tracking a killer from his own past while his friend Millard Mitchell does his best to keep him from going over the edge. Shelly Winters does a nice turn as the poor gal. Stephen McNally is oily as the main bad guy, and Dan Duryea comes off like Johnny Udo (from the original Kiss Of Death) in chaps.

The story really heats up when Stewart wins a shooting contest in which Wyatt Earp officiates (watch for the postage stamp across the nickel - some heroic marskmanship here) and gets his prized Winchester rifle stolen for his trouble. The Winchester does a hot potato act between badmen and Indians (Rock Hudson shows up as a war chief, in a scene where Tony Curtis dons the blue wool as a cavalry buck), and finally winds up in a climactic, hair raising shootout in a jumble of rocks above the desert. You can FEEL the bullets whizzing by.

Especially love the scene where Lin encounters Waco Johnnie Dean (read: Johnny Udo)in a bar and displays a decided lack of patience for the young bad man's showboating... There aren't many places to find good old Jimmy Stewart coming off harder (but do try `Flight Of The Phoenix'!).

PS - This DVD is a good buy - the print they used tends to be a little less than pristine here and there, but it has got a commentary track with Jimmy Stewart on it! How did they do this? It seems Jimmy might have been watching the Laserdisc. His anecdotes about the old studio system and incites into acting are great. Especially like the stories about his hat (used in various westerns for twenty years) and horse, Pie (same as above).

"Huh...this laser thing is very interesting..." Jimmy Stewart.

Great suprise. Great DVD.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Donnie Darko (2001) Review

It actually is pretty hard to classify this movie as one thing or another... i suppose drama/sci-fi would probably be the best classification. Don't be fooled by the movie cover, it's actually a lot better than you'd be led to believe... and I don't consider it to be a horror movie by any means, so disregard the little catch-phrase.

Just to answer many of those who do honestly believe that this movie "sux" or whatever, I can't tell you that you're opinion's invalid... but personally I really love this movie, and in my books its up there with the likes of fight club. One of the defining attributes that makes this, what i consider to be, a "good" movie, is that the viewer isn't force-fed a cut-and-dry series of events. There is some ambiguity in what goes on in the movie, and that is what I believe drives it in a direction that entices thought and discussion. The non-sense about how this movie is anti-christian or whatever else is purely based upon that individual's interpretation that Frank was actually a divine messenger or likeness of, but that is by no means the only reasonable possibility. In any case, the story deals too much with the theme of fate and chance to really be seen as a slug at christianity. It does however do a good job at poking fun at the 80s and some school-experience jokes... i.e. "if there is any vice-presidential candidate worthy of my vote, it has to be Dan Quayle", and the love/fear exercise.

I gave this four stars because although it is very good, i think it could've been better... i have yet to see the director's cut and perhaps i would view that as a 5/5. This movie is very well done, with well-composed music and an enjoyable story.

Anyone who wants to get a "preview" into what this movie is somewhat like or who has seen it and wants to know a bit more, check out

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