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121. Jeeves & Wooster - The Complete
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122. A Night at the Roxbury
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123. Thunderbirds (Widescreen Edition)
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124. Star Trek - Insurrection
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125. The Craft: Special Edition
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126. Shallow Hal
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127. Devil in a Blue Dress
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128. Barabbas
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129. Tears of the Sun
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130. Madonna - The Immaculate Collection
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131. Runaway Jury (Full Screen Edition)
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132. Fellini - Satyricon
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133. The Astronomers
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134. Oz - The Complete First Five Seasons
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135. They Were Expendable
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136. The Train
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137. Summer's Lease
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138. Shogun's Samurai - The Yagyu Clan
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139. Seven Days in May
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140. Jeeves & Wooster - The Complete

121. Jeeves & Wooster - The Complete Second Season
Director: Ferdinand Fairfax, Robert Young (III), Simon Langton
list price: $39.95
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Asin: B000059H6G
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 4764
Average Customer Review: 4.58 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not absolutely faithful to the books, but stronger for it
This series is a brilliant adaption of the Jeeves stories of P.G. Wodehouse. A single episode of Jeeves & Wooster amalgamates several short stories into one longer story. The humor in Wodehouse's stories was focussed on word-play, while in the TV productions the humor is often physical. I think they were wise to go this direction, because a visual adaptions are never completely faithful to the original books. Instead of trying to be completely faithful to the written stories, they went with the strength of their medium and the results are brilliant. One reviewer commented that the second series is not quite as funny as the first. I'm not so sure about that. The second series contains some absolutely essential lines. "Its the bally ballyness of it all that makes it all so bally bally." Or this little exchange: Wooster,"Do you know what I look for in music, Jeeves." Jeeves, "I have often wondered, sir." How about this one: Wooster, "We Woosters have soldiered on with worse things than numb lips." Jeeves, "Indeed, sir." One of my favorite scenes is the one in which Jeeves, who has impeccable taste, has to leave the room and sit down when he sees someone wearing a tie with "little horseshoes on it". "Sometimes one can't just shrug these things off," is his comment. About the sets and scenery. I have tried to find anachronisms (such as power lines, etc.) but have been unable to. A brilliant adaption of brilliant stories, superb acting, gorgeous settings.

5-0 out of 5 stars MUST SEE SERIES! BRILLANT COMIC ACTING!
Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are brilliant as Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, respectively. This is an extremely witty series - the script is excellent and the acting, some of the best comic acting I have ever seen! If you haven't seen Laurie and Fry at work, particularly in this stunning series, I highly recommend you to do so!

4-0 out of 5 stars The 2nd season-good, but not best
First off, as a die-hard fan of P.G. Wodehouse, I am critical at best. The First season surpassed my wildest dreams, in short, it was excelent. The second season fell short, however, inasmuch as many of the characters previously introduced in the first season were reintroduced being played by entirely different actors. That was semidisapointing. Also, some of the acting is a little less Wodehouse-y then in the first. I was delighted with Gussie once again, though, and I would still recomend buying it; its well worth the money, and is as good as it is going to get on this earth.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hilarity for the whole family!
Non-stop British hilarity and fun. Dim and good-hearted Bertie Wooster meets his perfect foil in the intelligent and imperious Jeeves. The Depression never hits and the war never comes in these light-hearted and innocent romps. If your whole family likes to laugh, don't hesitate to buy this set!

4-0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as season one...
Stephen Fry is the first actor ever to capture the real Jeeves, and Hugh Laurie makes Bertie utterly plausible, in spite of the absurd ways he tends to land himself in the bullion. These dvds must be in your collection if you love Wodehouse; they're worth repeated viewings, as every detail is a treat. Make sure to get season one. The very first episode manages to introduce you to the lunacy to come, and Bertie's utter dependence on Jeeves in only a few scenes. See you at the Drones! ... Read more


122. A Night at the Roxbury
Director: Amy Heckerling, John Fortenberry
list price: $14.99
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Asin: 6305350191
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 1528
Average Customer Review: 4.26 out of 5 stars
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Expanding their one-joke skit from television's Saturday NightLive, Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell are Doug and Steve Butabi, the wearers of the rayon suits and Speedo trunks who bob their heads in unison to dance music while unsuccessfully preying on women in clubs.What's funny in athree-minute piece doesn't always get funnier by expansion, but Kattan and Ferrell give it a go with fellow SNL member Molly Shannon as their ambitious neighbor.By day they work in their father's fake-plant store.By night they prowl the club scene after spraying on the cologne in their gauchely decorated bedroom.A fender-bender with Richard Grieco (playing himself) gets them into the popular club the Roxbury, but it's not all good news, as the brothers soon find themselves torn apart. Doug and Steve are pathetic but lovable, mostly due to the actors' talents for self-deprecating humor. All gifted comedians, Kattan, Ferrell, and Shannon obviously feel comfortable around each other, and their love triangle (which prompts send-ups of Say Anything and Jerry Maguire) is the funniest joke in this mostly lame comedy. Too bad, because it clocks in at about 80 minutes and could have run on television as a pretty good episode of SNL, which has been known to get a bit lame itself. --Shannon Gee ... Read more

Reviews (163)

2-0 out of 5 stars Like many other SNL films
A lot of films based on SNL characters unsurprisingly fail at the box office because of the inability to actually develop the characters. The only exception, and everyone knows this, is "Wayne's World" with the exception of the sequel. "A Night At The Roxbury" follows the two misadventures of Steve and Doug Butabi, two hopeless romantics and brothers who spend their days irritating their dad (Dan Hedaya) at his plastic plant shop, and their nights at attempted club hopping which results in them getting shunned away by the doorman. Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan are very talented but they try to make their SNL characters real and it just doesn't work. Everyone knows the theme of the overplayed and now familiarly known as the Roxbury Theme. The problem is, the film just doesn't seem to go anywhere. It gets inevitably boring and recycles jokes in the movie continually. Look for then unknown Michael Clarke Duncan as a doorman.

1-0 out of 5 stars Oh great, another SNL skit run right into the ground!
After watching this movie, I have to say that the jokes run out real quick and physical comedy will only get you so far. The great thing about the original skit with the Roxbury brothers is that we saw celebrities acting just like bafoons picking up chicks, but when you're watching a couple of the regular bafoons trying to pick up chicks - it makes you wonder how fast the writer wrote the script. This movie is so bad, with the over-acting by Molly Shannon, I was hoping Chris Kattan would pull it out of the water in time...but the jokes quickly drowned.

5-0 out of 5 stars Happy Tears, in fact.. Tears of hysterical laughter
Was it a good film?
No....YES!

I absolutely adored this film. Not many films have me rolling on the floor clutching my side from too much laughter. Will Ferrell is hilarious and with Chris Kattan, what could go wrong? The two brothers are so pathetic that you just want to root for them. Eventually the underdog wins and there is a happy ending.

PS- Hey Emily, nice bulbs.

1-0 out of 5 stars Very bad.
This was not very funny as a Saturday Night Live skit, so making it into a movie was even worse. Not funny at all, and very bad.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nevermind if the movie is not great, it's still fun!
SNL alums Will Ferrell(before he went 'Elf' on us) and Chris Kattan play dumb, club-hopping brothers from LA. Both stars are hilarious because they never score with the ladies while at the clubs. They come up with the worst lines, which makes it even funnier.

OK, so it didn't win any Oscars, but i know it's not good. In fact, it's only the very few films I admit I enjoyed. The Butabi brothers are so over the top, I can't help myself laugh. The story is non-existent, but the characters help carry this film. It's pure escapist fun. I want to get the DVD, but I'm afraid to buy it! ... Read more


123. Thunderbirds (Widescreen Edition)
Director: Jonathan Frakes
list price: $29.98
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Asin: B00005JMZA
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 2726
Average Customer Review: 2 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great movie for kids
We are fans of the original Thunderbirds series. We went to the movie with our children and were not disappointed. It was really very entertaining and exiciting. Our kids thought it was fantastic! All they wanted to do is play Thunderbirds for the next week. The movie is not some work of art and the middle of the show depicts teenagers coming of age-not award winning writing here. What it does have going for it is some good rescues, good digital effects, no guns fired at anyone, strong female characters that can kick some butt, good updates to the super rescue machines, and one scene with a hand reaching for a throttle control with wires clearly visible. Despite all this die hard original Thunderbirds fans may not may still complain-missing the cheesy supermarionation(?sp) effects. You must see this with kids 5-12 years old.

1-0 out of 5 stars THUNDERTURD
I HAVE NOT ACTUALLY SEEN THIS MOVIE, BUT I AM A HUGE THUNDERBIRDS FAN. IT IS ONE OF THE ALL TIME BEST SHOWS (AFTER THE SIMPSONS) THE TRAILER LOOKS LIKE THEY JUST WANT TO MAKE MONEY BY BUTCHERING A CLASSIC SHOW. IF YOU WANT A GOOD THUNDERBIRDS MOVIE BUY THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO AND THUNDERBIRDS 6. IF YOU CANT, GO LOOK AT A PILE OF DIARREAH, IM SHURE IT WILL BE BETTER THAN THIS MOVIE.

1-0 out of 5 stars One word: GAY!
OH puhhleeeaaaaazzzzzzzzzeeeee! This movie looked stupid from the first time i saw the trailer! I think the movie is about this loser (and ugly) kid in the future that "wants to be the hero" or something like that. Do NOT watch this movie. I haven't seen it and i already know FOR SURE that this'll FLOP like crazy!!!!! ... Read more


124. Star Trek - Insurrection
Director: Jonathan Frakes
list price: $19.99
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Asin: B00000ILBK
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 2587
Average Customer Review: 3.53 out of 5 stars
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Star Trek fans were decidedly mixed in their reactions to this,the ninth big-screen feature in Paramount's lucrative Trek franchise, but die-hard loyalists will appreciate the way this Next Generation adventure rekindles the spirit of the original Trek TV series while combining a tolerable dose of New-Agey philosophy with a lighthearted plot for the TNG cast. This time out, Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his executive crew must transport to a Shangri-la-like planet to see why their android crewmate Data (Brent Spiner) has run amuck in a village full of peaceful Ba'ku artisans who--thanks to their planet's "metaphasic radiation"--haven't aged in 309 years.

It turns out there's a conspiracy afoot, masterminded by the devious, gruesomely aged Ru'afo (F. Murray Abraham, hamming it up under makeup resembling a cosmetic surgeon's worst nightmare), who's in cahoots with a renegade Starfleet admiral (Anthony Zerbe, in one of his final screen roles). They covet the fountain-of-youth power of the Ba'ku planet, but because their takeover plan violates Starfleet's Prime Directive of noninterference, it's up to Picard and crew to stop the scheme. Along the way, they all benefit from the metaphasic effect, which manifests itself as Worf's puberty (visible as a conspicuous case of Klingon acne), Picard's youthful romance with a Ba'ku woman (the lovely Donna Murphy), the touching though temporary return of Geordi's natural eyesight, and a moment when Troi asks Dr. Crusher if she's noticed that her "boobs are firming up."

Some fans scoffed at these humorous asides, but they're what make this Trek film as entertaining as it is slightly disappointing. Without the laughs (including Data's rousing excerpt from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore), this is a pretty routine entry in the franchise, with no real surprises, a number of plot holes, and the overall appearance of a big-budget TV episode. As costar and director, Jonathan Frakes proves a capable carrier of the Star Trek flame--and it's nice to see women in their 40s portrayed as smart and sexy--but while this is surely an adequate Trek adventure, it doesn't quite rank with the best in the series. --Jeff Shannon ... Read more

Reviews (393)

3-0 out of 5 stars Is This Supposed To Be A Film? Write A Good Film For Once!!
Granted this film had the best morals and provoking thoughts than any film to date but who does paramount think they are making this cheese wagon of a film and trying to pass it off for a movie? Everyone associated with star trek need to be fired away from it except for ira stephen behr as someone wrote earlier who made ds9 one of t.v.'s greatest series. Yes folks-special effects have a lot to do by making a movie or episode entertaining-and so do battles in space or on the ground. People like war-look at 2, 6, and 8- duh! the best films in th series. As for Paramounts plans to dump all of the current casts for the next movie and series, dont do it or you will kill off whats left of your fan base. I had so much expectations for this film especially when i saw the trailers-- and now I cant forgive paramount for disappointing me so badly. Well- Jar Jar Episode 1 wasn't all that good either but at least it was entertaining unlike Trek 8 with its "here take this humor and like it no matter what" attempt at comedy. Action? What action? And what the heck is the deal with the Joystick Frakes?! Talk about embarassing to be a trek fan! If Voyager doesnt come around like DS9 Did in its 3rd season this upcoming Fall- I'm a Trek fan no more. Heres a story idea Paramount: Borg/Dysons Sphere/Dominion/make like Starwars and destroy the Federation and bring it back stronger than ever in a 125year later from the current timeline movie. Duh!! and Paramount, get rid of Berman and Moore and Braga- they ruined this saga and so are you if you dont wake up!!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars Lighten up, fellow Star Trek fans!
In a TV series, especially a sci-fi series, you expect a certain number of shoot-em-up shows. You expect to see our heroes conquer evil aliens while overcoming seemingly impossible odds. but will someone please show me where in the rulebook it says every show should be about this? Some of the original series and TNG's best shows were about political, romantic, and/or humorous exploits of our favorite characters. "The trouble with Tribbles" is almost always in a listing of the top 5 shows whenever TV guide or simply a group of trekkies talk about their favorites, and "The city on the edge of Forever" won a Hugo for crying out loud and neither one of them were slashed with phaser fire. Yes, Insurrection may have been a little uneven in spots plotwise but I've not seen any you could drive a semi through. And the central theme of the displacing of a small group of people to satisfy the demands of a larger group as being a terrible injustice as well as a clear violation of Trek's prime directive is right on par with the overall vision of Star Trek. I don't think Roddenberry will turn over in his grave because of this one and neither should a true Trek fan get all disappointed just because the Borg, the Romulans, the Dominion or any other "traditional" Star Trek villian is not involved. In fact, I think this film breaks the so-called legacy of "odd-numbered" trek films being not so good as "even-numbered" films. No, Insurrection is no "Wrath of Khan" but it is a solid entry in the series. After all, Johnathan Frakes himself said they wanted to have to have some fun with this one and I think they accomplished that while still making an entertaining movie that lives up to Star Trek's ideals.

3-0 out of 5 stars STAR TREK Lightens Things Up A Bit, To Mixed Results...
For STAR TREK: INSURRECTION (1998), unfortunately famous for Data saying the ultimate cheesy one-liner, "Lock & Load" (*cringe*), Jonathan "Two-Takes" Frakes, back in the director's chair, makes the atmosphere decidedly lighter. That's a good thing; however, after all is said and done in this, the ninth installment in the legendary STAR TREK film saga (and the third one featuring the "Next Generation" cast of characters), there is really not much meat on the bone. In this episode, which begins jarringly with a sudden murderous rampage by a malfunctioning android Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner, in not one of his finer moments as an actor here), the crew of the Enterprise "E" have beamed down to Planet Ba'ku and rather quickly become familiar with the peaceful residents of this planet. This planet is nicknamed "Paradise," correctly so because it has magical regenerative powers which prevent its people from aging and dying. These people, numbering only 600, are peaceful and seem to have a kind of neo-religious quality to their personalities, as they live in total harmony with nature and openly reject any kind of technology. (This leads to what is probably the best scene in the entire movie, as the Enterprise is revealed to be camouflaged to blend in with the lush surroundings!)

Anyway, as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (the always-wonderful Patrick Stewart) begins to get friendly with one of the eligible female Ba'ku residents, and Commander Will Riker (Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) get friendlier with each other (leading to a surprisingly sensual hot-tub scene), there is trouble brewing in Paradise: an incredibly ugly band of aliens known as the So'na, led by the especially monstrous Ru'afo (F. Murray Abraham), who intends to displace the peace-loving Ba'ku residents and take over the planet for themselves, so as to de-uglify themselves (I'm not making this up). Not only that, but they are given full authority to do so by a suspicious Federation admiral (Anthony Zerbe, in his final film role). Because this order clearly violates the Prime Directive (which forbids the interfering of any sovereign planetary civilization), this puts Capt. Picard & crew into a conundrum: do they follow orders like good little Starfleet soldiers or do they uphold the Prime Directive to protect these peacemongers? Put it to you this way: Based on the title alone, plus what you know about the Next Generation characters, what do you THINK they will do??? Duh...Lock & Load!!!

Jonathan Frakes had an obviously daunting task: following up the incredible STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT (1996), one of the very best in the entire STAR TREK film saga. STAR TREK: INSURRECTION looks really nice (the visuals are, once again, truly amazing), but alas, there is not really much to care about here. F. Murray Abraham is one of the finest actors of our time, but he must have really needed the money in order to agree to fill a role in which he's not only unrecognizable, but also the recipient of the worst movie makeover in recent big-screen history. STAR TREK: INSURRECTION is certainly not the worst STAR TREK film ever made (that honor would unquestioningly go to the William Shatner-directed misfire STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER), but it's definitely not among the best. See it if you're a fan.

MODERATELY RECOMMENDED; AGES 10 & UP

4-0 out of 5 stars It Takes Six...
The rule of odds and evens continues to apply in Star Trek Insurrection. Being the second true Next Generation film it is a must-see for fans.

The film opens with scenes on a tranquil, agricultural planet. Then things heat up as we run into Data and some Federation personnel. It seems they are observing the tranquil society in what is called Operation Duck Blind (the inhabitants don't know they are being looked at). From there we run into the rest of the main cast and the plot begins to develop. It involves a malfunction Data experiences while assisting at Operation Duck Blind that results in the mission being compromised.

As the crew of the Enterprise investigate what went wrong with Data they begin to raise more and more questions. As the main plot is revealed the crew must band together and stand up for what they feel is right. In the end the crew triumphs (did we really think it would be otherwise?).

This is really not a film for people who are not already fans of the show as it is the way the characters act and their personal interactions that makes the film so entertaining. Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis seem to have a tremendously fun time with this film. Fans are treated to some great scenes of their favorite characters (although Gates McFadden was not particularly important). We even learn some more about Data's design and operation. But do not be misled by the title and the trailer, the scenes are all there but in the trailer they tell a much different story.

There are a few technical problems in the movie but you don't really think about them until afterwards. These include small things like not being able to count (claiming two slave races and showing three), the Federation is pretty stupid (giving membership to a race that has just managed warpdrive but only has been around for less than a hundred years, has only six members and seems to have better ships). There is the inevitable total ignorance of nebulae and what they are and just how not dense they are. But these are all minor things that don't jump out as the movie progresses.

So if you are a Next Generation fan and want to see the crew back together in a story that is really just a long, but very good, episode, then you really should take the opportunity to see this one. On a final note it passes Lynch's Law for a successful Next Generation episode in that it does not rely on techno-babble to drive or advance the plot but uses situation, character and emotion for fuel instead.

2-0 out of 5 stars Star Trek Takes a Nap
Star Trek:
Insurrection

If your looking for a movie to watch in your spare time, Star Trek Insurrection is a decent movie but definitely not one of my favorites. Starring Patrick Stewart as Jean Luc Picard and directed by Jonathan Frakes, this movie goes face first into face stretching action,literally.

Though not as exciting as First Contact, it still provides the cheesy action of an old guy [ Jean Luc] climbing in dangerous places with a big phaser rifle shooting aliens. I think it's funny because in this movie, two gramps meet and fight to the finish. One's got a facial problem [the bad guy], the other a mental problem, what kind of 70 year old man would think himself strong enough to fight wars?

I might suggest this movie to people who like to watch people from a nursing home duke it out. They never learned not to play with guns either. It's pure entertainment for people that like to watch strange movies and laugh at them.

The camera work could have been better. Towards the end, it doesn't show much of the enemy ship, there isn't much of an inside of a ship to see though. The special effects were all right, but the phasers looked kind of fake to me.

One scene made the movie purely messed up to me. Jean Luc runs around an enemy ship firing a phaser, right after that he says, " If you fire your phaser, you risk igniting your ship, you wouldn't risk that would you?" [The guy he was chasing is one of the old gramps I mentioned earlier]. Isn't that stupidly cheesy?

I don't under stand why everybody except the captain always wears the same stuff. The captain wears a dress suit and regular clothes but the rest of the crew always wears the same old red suit. All the Ba'ku wear different stuff.

Star Trek Insurrection is rated PG-13. I say a lot of people would like this movie. For other people though, it gets really annoying.

Anomynous ... Read more


125. The Craft: Special Edition
Director: Andrew Fleming
list price: $14.95
our price: $13.46
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Asin: B00004W4UD
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 4689
Average Customer Review: 4.03 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (170)

5-0 out of 5 stars This movie was great, despite it's fictional entities
When I first saw this movie I was blown away buy it. Since then it has become one of my favorite movies of all time. Like many other people this movie gave me false ideas about Witchcraft, which I found otherwise as fictional. Even now as a practitioner of Wicca I still find it to be a great movie. This movie was made for entertainment purposes and not to persuade or disuade anyone one way or the other.

Fairuza Balk as Nancy was awesome. She played and looked the part so well and I don't think anyone could have done a better job. The movie is based around three teenage girls classified as the misfits of the school. They come together to form a small coven and cast spells one themselves and other people. Sarah is the newcomer who is quickly accepted into their circle. As the movie progresses things get out of hand and Nancy ends up way in over her head and it's up to Sarah to use her powerful inheritated gift of magick to stop her. I suggest this movie for anyone who wants to be thrilled.

3-0 out of 5 stars Craft Services
The Craft is a solid, yet still somewhat predictable thriller, that tried to ride the surging horror wave started by Scream.

Sarah Baily (Robin Tunney) has always felt like an outsider all her life. So, when she and her Dad (Cliff De Young) move to a new town, she finds herself having to start fresh. As the new gal at St. Benedict's Academy, she immediately falls in with the high school's female misfits. But, this group of girls won't settle for being just powerless outcasts, that nobody wants to hang out with. Indeed, Nancy, (Fairuza Balk) Bonnie, (Neve Campbell), and Rochelle (Rachel True) have discovered just how much fun school can be if you have the skills to use "The Craft" and they plan to show Sarah the way.

Director and co scripter Andrew Fleming plays things pretty safe throughout the film. The tried and true horror formula isn't tested that much. Young and trendy stars populate the cast, with moments of humor and a few jolts, thrown in for good measure. The breakout performance for me here is Balk's sassy Nancy. She is one tough witch you don't want to mess with. She helps make the film better than it would be otherwise. As with any film about the wicken way, there's also a certain female "bonding" subtext that has to play itself out, as well.

The special edition DVD substitutes for the movie only edition from awhile back. The audio commentary from Fleming is a nice mix of the tecnical and on set trivia about the film. There are two making Of featurettes on the disc. The first,is a six minute EPK style prepublicity kind of thing, while the second is a 24 minute retrospective, produced for the DVD. Conjuring THE CRAFT features "new" interviews with Fleming, Robin Tunny, Rachel True among others, intermixed with on set comments from Balk and Campbell. This is well produced. Fleming provides commentary for the deleted footage that, doesn't really amount to much as far as the final version is concerned The entire film score from Greame Revell is preserved and given its due as an isolated music track. Talent files, as well as, theatrical trailers for The Craft, among other films top off the bonus material on the disc. Addtional production notes can be found inside the keep case.

The Craft is worth a dabble, with a *** and a half star rating, as long as your expectations are kept in check.

4-0 out of 5 stars These Girls Know Their Rites!
Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) is the new kid in town, but even under the best of circumstances she has never been accepted by the popular crowd. At her new school, she falls in with a trio of other female misfits (Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True) who, it so happens, are trying to learn witchcraft and form their own little coven. When Sarah joins them to make it a quartet, they slowly develop multifold preternatural powers and learn how to focus and use them. With such abilities literally at their fingertips, it's not too long until the little coven, initially formed for self-protection and companionship, becomes an instrument for personal gain and revenge. Sarah soon realizes that one of her friends is evil to the core, and fearful of what THAT one may do with the group's newfound powers, she decides it's best to resign from the coven and thereby weaken the magic abilities of the others. But the coven has different plans, particularly regarding Sarah....

The sleeper hit THE CRAFT (1996) could've easily been played for camp, but it is instead a story of modern urban witchcraft that is both literate and emotionally powerful. The success of the film is due to Peter Filardi and Andrew Fleming's tight, well-written script, excellent direction from Fleming, and outstanding acting from principals Tunney, Balk, Campbell, and True. The supernatural elements of the story are handled carefully and earnestly, and witchcraft or the belief in it is never ridiculed or treated derisively. This keeps the tone of the film somewhat dark and edgy, which in turn creates an uneasy, spooky atmosphere that cues the audience to the fact that this is a serious horror film. Fleming wisely keeps the special FX to a minimum until the story's climax on the final reel, and he instead emphasizes the relationships in this group of dysfunctional, angst-ridden girls, well knowing that the primary target audience--to wit, teenagers--will easily relate to these characters and their normal desires and fears.

The Special Edition DVD from Columbia/Tri-Star offers THE CRAFT in anamorphic widescreen at its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The digital transfer is very good, with minimal filmic or digital artifacts. The disc also features an informative commentary with director Andrew Fleming, 2 featurettes, deleted scenes, and more. THE CRAFT is a cool horror film that most fans of the genre will enjoy, and the very reasonable price makes it easy for fans to add this DVD to their collections.

3-0 out of 5 stars Darkly peculiar, yet entertaining all the same
I was looking for entertainment and I found it in THE CRAFT.

So maybe it was filled with holes. Maybe it's a tad unrealistic. Maybe it doesn't portray Wicca with fair accuracy (not that I care about that). So it's flawed. So what?

That said, THE CRAFT is awfully entertaining and worth more than one watch - hence my umpteenth watch a few weekends ago. I especially appreciated Fairuza Balk's performance - just as much as gorgeous Robin Tunney's. It's a shame she's no Hollywood starlet today. A year or more ago I saw her in this dreadful movie called CHERISH, a truly tedious indie flick.

Tunney plays Sarah, newcomer to the neighborhood. After being shunned by the popular girls, a circle of peculiar witches take her beneath their collective wings. Nancy, Bonnie, and Rochelle all have supernatural powers and the rumor mongers have always been spreading gossip about them. (They are played by Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True, respectively.) Now, it is time to get revenge on those who have wronged them - yes, revenge is the only remedy to their teenage angst and turmoil.

Each girl has a different situation. Rumors have been churning through the mill that Sarah Bailey slept with popular jock Chris Hooker (played by Skeet Ulrich, who later appeared with Campbell in SCREAM). Not only that, but he claims she sucked in bed, according to Nancy. Sarah had really been into Chris during their first date and after one kiss on a rooftop, he'd tried to take her back home with him. She'd declined and Chris had seemed a little disappointed. Still, Sarah never guessed he'd begin spreading lies about her. Now, she will get Chris, who snubs her in the halls, to fall truly, madly, and deeply head-over-heels in love with her. In fact, with Sarah's powers, he develops humorous stalker-esque tendencies.

Nancy Down's troubles mainly concern her homelife. Her father is a bum. She and her two parents live the stereotypical white trash lifestyle. Nancy uses her powers to give her father a heart attack (odd, yes...I know) and because of his death, she and Mrs. Down are left with a big 'ole sum of money. They move into a very nice apartment and are able to live quite comfortably.

Bonnie was involved in a terrible accident that left her permanently scarred - much of the high school knows about the disfiguring scars. She has a beautiful face but her scars inable her to wear certain clothes and she's oh-so self-concious about it. She undergoes a painful hospital operation that may or may not improve her condition - it does, thanks to her supernatural powers. :) Because of the operation, her mother and the doctors aren't all that suspicious. They just assume it to be the goodness of medical technology.

Rochelle's dilemma concerns racist Laura Lizzie (Christine Taylor), who is on the school's swim team with her. Laura makes it crystal clear that she can't stand Rochelle because she's black. Whenever Rochelle is at work perfecting her dives, Laura shouts out cruel remarks to distract her and she also calls her racial slurs in the locker room. Rochelle's spell causes Laura's hair to begin to fall out in huge clumps that leave bald patches all over her blonde head. Within days, she's totally bald.

But what you do to others in your spells comes back to haunt you. Times three. So now, the girls will have to deal with the consequences of their actions. Sarah must also deal with the fact that her three friends are turning on her and she must face the harrowing battle all on her own.

That is, if they don't kill her first.

With good performances and an exciting plot, this movie may appeal to fans of HEATHERS, MEAN GIRLS, and other movies in which the theme of all-girl friendships are stressed. Many critics took an intense disliking to this film, but it has been rather popular with many audiences, doing mildly well in the box office and on video.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome movie
On her first day of school, Sarah is snubbed by the more popular girls and ends up becoming part of a circle of girls who are witches.

One by one, it goes through and shows each one of the girls problem. Bonnie was in a fire and left with horrible burn marks, Rochelle is the target of a racist clique, Nancy comes from a broken home, and Sarah is still haunted by memories of a suicide attempt. They all cast spells to improve their lives, and they work. Sarah makes a guy fall in love with her, Rochelle causes her harasser's hair to fall out, Bonnie overcomes her scars and Nancy ends up killing her jerk stepfather, resulting in her mother and her to inherit a bunch of money from him.

As the girls get deeper and deeper into the craft, Sarah realizes that they are taking everything too far. Bonnie has turned into a total snob, Rochelle's tormentor goes completely bald, Sarah's love spell has turned into dangerous obsession, and Nancy has completely turned power hungry. When Sarah makes her desire to leave the circle known, they will not hear of it. Nancy ends up trying to kill Sarah, resulting in one of the best fight scenes EVER.

Overall, some of the stuff referring to the craft in this movie is true. The quarter calls made by the group are actual Gardnarian Tradition quarter calls, and the threefold law is TRUE (I know from experience, lol) ... Read more


126. Shallow Hal
Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
list price: $14.98
our price: $11.98
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Asin: B00005JKLQ
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 4092
Average Customer Review: 3.57 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (232)

5-0 out of 5 stars very romantic
Shallow Hal is indeed funny as all hell, with the inimitable Jack Black playing Hal, who as a young boy is told by his dying father, a reverend on painkillers, to seek out "young hot tail --- that's what it's all about." Hal grows up to be this clubbing lizard going after supermodel types at all times.

One day he's stuck in an elevator with guru Tony Robbins, who changes his perception to only see the inner beauty (or lack thereof) in everyone he meets (excluding people he already knows.) Hal suddenly starts seeing raving beauties everywhere, including Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow), his boss's daughter who is actually severely overweight.

It's romantic to see Rosemary's self-image change as she realizes Hal really does think she's beautiful, after going for so long convinced that she's not. Hal, in turn, sees her as without physical flaws and so, instead of looking for any, he gets to know her as a person, something he's never done before.

This is a great date movie, and it makes you examine if you're shallow or not when it comes to people's appearances vs. their souls. It's a great concept, and ingeniously acted.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not hypnotized...but de-hypnotized!
Everyone probably knows the plot by now: Hal (played by Jack Black) is as shallow as any typical young heterosexual male who prefers only the best-looking females, as opposed to going for females with good-natured personalities (with physically undesirable aspects.) All of this changes when a twist of fate brings him into contact with a motivational speaker (Tony Robbins.) He then gets hypnotized into seeing the inner beauty of people (which comes off as gorgeous physical appearances), as opposed to seeing their so-called "undesirable" physical attributes. He meets a gorgeous gal named Rosemary (played by Gwyneth Paltrow), and falls for her. Little does he know that she's a grossly overweight female, as opposed to the tall, thin, blonde-haired bombshell that he sees (as the result of the hypnosis he's undergone.) Meanwhile, his close friend (played by Jason Alexander) notices the change in Hal's perceptions, and tries to figure out the cause of this.

While many people note the change in approach from The Farrelly Brothers' normally immature, gross-out comedies, I have to venture to say that this change isn't as large as some note, but nevertheless, it can be spotted. Although There's Something About Mary featured many immature gags revolving around bodily fluids and such other seemingly taboo subjects, underneath it all, I found it to be a poignant (although kooky) love story with heart and a message. However, what makes this change more relevant, is that the gross-outs are toned down considerably, and the poignant aspects are not camouflaged. While the movie does have it's humorous moments (Jason Alexander's character in general was the funniest thing about the movie for me), I hesitate to call it a non-stop laugh fest, and is not in the same league as other typical comedies. Jack Black in particular didn't crack me up as much as he did in say Orange County. This isn't a bad thing, as his character is mostly the central focus in the film, and it does not represent anything as remotely silly as what was featured in the aforementioned film. Instead, he takes on a more ambiguous role - one of which exhibits a balance of subtle humor and good-hearted thoughtfulness.

I rate this 4 stars out of personal preference, but this film is quite clever with it's ingenious use of dialogue, as well as exhibiting a nice balance between subtle humor and thought-provoking attributes.

5-0 out of 5 stars the last guy is stupid
i dunno what the last guy is talking about this movie has a good message about not judging poeple by their outside self alone but to judge their personalities as well as what we see. he must be extreamlely stupid to say that this movie didn't say that sucessfuly when it did in reality. that or he must be as shallow as the characters are in teh movie. i'm in the 7th grade and even I know what the message of shallow hal is. shallow hal is a funny movie, and despite what the last nimwit tried to say (i think he/she was trying to sound all smart when he/she is really a duma$$) the movie teaches us that beauty isn't only skin-deep! also about the spell, it only works on people hal hasnt seen before, so his nieghbor and best friend are supposed to appear as normal (and rosemarys dad as well) so that flaw people are complaining about is also not correct. i love this movie so stop reading this and go see it NOW NOW NOW!

2-0 out of 5 stars The real moral here
What I learned after watching this movie is that if someone who is extremely shallow and only pursues hotties suddenly becomes successful with hotties, he/she will one day instantly lose his/her shallowness. Why did I learn this instead of what the Farrley brothers set out to teach us? Simple: the stupid spell that Hal (Jack Black) was put under was garbage! In the beginning, he pursues hotties who reject him (who are hotties in reality, at least according to standards of society). After the spell, guess what? Surprise surprise.......he still pursues hotties (only this time, he's the only one who sees knock-outs; everyone else sees....well....what society has deemed less than knock-outs). He is still only interested in scoring with supermodels, and what really bothered me was the conversation Hal had with Mauricio (Jason Alexander) after he removed Hal's spell, and Hal could no longer locate the hottie he once saw sitting at the restaurant, known as Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow). Hal goes balistic on Mauricio, because "I had a beautiful, intelligent, funny, (blah blah blah) woman, and YOU MADE HER DISAPEAR," proving without a doubt that he still is shallow after the spell! All of her good qualities dissapear, only because her looks aren't a 10, and we are supposed to believe that Hal is turning over a new leaf? What sucks more is that, for no logical reason, the first time Hal looks at Rosemary (for real as an obese woman, and knows that it is her), he can instantly not only accept her, but want her. THIS ISN'T REALISTIC, PEOPLE!!! People who are shallow their whole life and don't look past the surface of people can't, in the blink of an eye, desire someone who physically, most people would consider a reject (wouldn't that be nice!). Basically, this movie wants us to believe that there's an on/off switch in our brain that can be flipped at-will to make us attracted to people we've never been attracted to before, which is completely untrue. This is why the transformation this movie tries to show us via Hal lacks logical soundness, and why this movie fails to teach us anything. While I did not find this movie offensive (it was actually quite funny at times, thanks to our three leads), I did finish the movie questioning how deep shallow Hal had managed to become.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good comedy; too many awkward moments
Jack Black and Jason Alexander are masters of the art of comedy. We all know Alexander from the show "Seinfeld" (I think he and Cramner are much funnier than Seinfeld himself), and Jack Black is in the band Tennacious D (sp?), and has been in such movies as High Fidelity and Orange County. In Shallow Hal, these two don't dissapoint, especially in the scenes where they are together. I was on the floor laughing during the scene where Mauricio (Alexander) and Hal (Black) are at the bar and Mauricio first notices that Hal is dancing, and ultimately desiring, people that most Americans would find physically unatractive. Also, Gwyneth Paltrow plays her role very well, and isn't a sappy romantic leading woman like most are these days (ehhhhem.....Julia Roberts). She plays Rosemary, a kind, but overweight woman who, after some therapy that only allows him to see the inner beauty in future woman, appears to Hal to look gorgeous. This should, potentially, set up some very funny situations, and it does at times. However, it doesn't always tend to.

More often than not, this sets up too many awkward situations where realistically, Rosemary would have said something like "I never wanna see you again, you a$$hole!" Such moments include the scene where Rosemary and Hal are at lunch after they just meet, and the two argue about her beauty. Hal tells her that she must be "what.....110, 112 pounds?" I don't know in what world the directors must have been in to honestly let that one slide, but most overweight women would have slapped Hal, and been out the door. And that's just one of many scenes like it. They make the some parts of the movie uncomfortable to watch, at best. Fortunately, Black and Alexander manage to keep you laughing after scenes like the aforementioned. The second flaw in this movie is the spell that Hal is under. If the spell was supposed to make Hal see the inner beauty in people, then their looks should not have changed. In other words, this spell that Tony Robbins (Anthony Robbins) puts Hal under doesn't allow Hal to beomce less shallow; he STILL only goes after women who look like models to him. So, all of a sudden, at the end of the movie, he is instantly able to look past Rosemary's weight, and falls for her THE FIRST TIME HE SEES THE REAL HER! Bogus!!! I don't buy it one bit!! However, the amount of genuine laughs this movie contains still merit it 3 stars. ... Read more


127. Devil in a Blue Dress
Director: Carl Franklin
list price: $14.95
our price: $11.96
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Asin: 0767818075
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 5300
Average Customer Review: 3.94 out of 5 stars
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Despite rave reviews as one of the most stylish and intelligent detective pictures in a number of years, this 1995 adaptation of Walter Mosley's novel never found a mass audience. Too bad, because Carl Franklin's film is nearly perfect in every way, from its rich, shadowy look to its depiction of life in post-World War II black America (L.A.-style) to the acting of Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, and others. Washington plays Easy Rawlins, an aircraft factory worker who is laid off only to find his true calling: as a private eye, albeit an unlicensed one. Hired to find a missing woman, he becomes entangled in a complex but satisfying case involving sex, corruption, racism, and of course money. Top-notch from top to bottom--and Cheadle is dangerously funny as Easy's best friend, a killer named Mouse. --Marshall Fine ... Read more

Reviews (18)

4-0 out of 5 stars Easy Does It!
It is the end of WWII. Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins(Denzel Washington) returns from the war to find segregation,discrimination, and a decent job hard to come by. He has used the little bit of money he had to buy a house and car, but he must find a way to keep up the payments. A job does come his way, it sounds shady, but it's seems to be easy cash, so he takes it. The job...To find a missing woman named Daphne Monet(Jennifer Beals)...seems easy enough.

Finding this mysterious woman, Easy, gets into trouble at every turn. Dead bodies start turning up all around him. The cops harass him,he uncovers political foul play, and a dark secret about the woman. Working with him is his old friend "Mouse" (Don Cheadle), who's answer to everything is shoot first and ask questions later. The "reward" for finding this woman and what she knows is growing as the answers start leading up the ladder of society. Is Easy's interest now for the money or the girl?

If you like the old style of film noir in movies like "Laura" or the newer modern film noir like "L.A. Confidential" you'll love "Devil in a Blue Dress". It's gripping, edge of your seat stuff.Director Carl Franklin and director of photography Tak Fujimoto give us a great look at this steamy side of Los Angeles in the 1940's.The musical score by Elmer Bernstein is wonderfully atmospheric, and the old rhythm and blues or"Shout and Jump" music by such greats
as T-Bone Walker and Duke Ellington are a great addition to 1940's feel. The cast also features Tom Sizemore and Maury Chaykin.

The DVD(Columbia Tri-Star) is a nice transfer. It is in widescreen, with a full screen version on the other side. Picture and colors are outstanding. The sound was good, dialouge a little low at times but still good. Features include Director's commentary during the film if you want, Don Cheadle's screen test and trailers. There are subtitles for those needing them.

All that is needed now is another EASY RAWLINS story..how bout it Denzel?..........Enjoy........Laurie

5-0 out of 5 stars A neo-noir of the first order
A voluptuously seedy tale of blackmail, murder and double-cross, "Devil in a Blue Dress" captures splendidly the mood of the forties, and is a worthy modern equivalent to old gems such as "Double Indemnity", "The Blue Dahlia" and "The Big Sleep". Acting, writing, direction, cinematography and music are all of an par above the standards of conventional filmmaking. Denzel Washington -- (an actor who is flawless in every performance) -- is superb in the role of Walter Moseley's detective, Easy Rawlins, the classic noir type of the down-at-heel gumshoe. He receives excellent support from Jennifer Beals, Tom Sizemore and Don Cheadle as his gun-crazy help. A heady aroma of sexuality and intrigue make this one of the most absorbing of recent noir film adaptations. Carl Franklin, with a flair for suspenseful situations, directs crisply.

3-0 out of 5 stars Devil with a lot of sexuality
Denzel and Lisa Nicole Carson [who played Carla in ER opposite Peter Benton's character] heat up the screen with their... love making doesn't really quite apply here, but let's stick that I suppose. Tom Sizemore delivers a stellar performance. The film has a sleek, stylized quality to it. Period piece. Denzel delivers as he does time and time again. A good movie, but be prepared for violence and serious sexual content.

4-0 out of 5 stars Stylish Post-War Mystery
It's summer in Los Angeles, 1948. Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins (Denzel Washington) returned from World War II a few years ago to a land of opportunity. He got a job, a mortgage and a home of his own. But now he has lost his job and is determined not to lose his house. A friend introduces Easy to a sleazy character named DeWitt Albright (Tom Sizemore) who ostensibly is trying to locate the former girlfriend of mayoral candidate Tom Carter (Terry Kinney) so that the couple may be reunited. Desperate to keep making his mortgage payments, Easy accepts the job of finding the girlfriend, a woman named Daphne Monet (Jennifer Beals). His search causes him to be suspect in several murders and arouses the interest of the rival candidate for mayor, Matthew Teran (Maury Chaykin). Easy finds that he is not the only person looking for Daphne Monet and that no one is exactly who he, or she, appears to be. As motives become less clear and the trail becomes more murderous, Easy calls on a childhood friend named Mouse (Don Cheadle), who has more experience in the criminal underworld and is more than willing to use force, for help. With the police, Albright, and Daphne Monet all demanding his loyalty, Easy must buy time and use his wits to unravel the mystery of Daphne's identity and uncover the scandals that will make or break the careers of two of the city's prominent politicians.

"Devil in a Blue Dress" is based on the detective novel of the same name by Walter Mosley. Screenwriter and director Carl Franklin has altered and simplified Mosley's novel for the screen and employed cinematographer Tak Fujimoto to create a stark and moody environment in sunny California. Fujimoto's cinematography looks great and is reminiscent of the film noirs of the 1940's, when the story takes place, and also does an excellent job of communicating the tone of the novel visually. The degree to which the film evokes the style of World War II era film noirs is striking considering that "Devil in a Blue Dress" is in color. This film isn't as sexy as the novel on which it is based, nor is it as effective in conveying Easy's desperation. It is, however, more tightly woven, more plausible, and more enmeshed in city politics. Don Cheedle's interpretation of "Mouse" couldn't be better. And the cinematography is a pleasure to watch. "Devil in a Blue Dress" a stylish and enjoyable neo-noir adaptation.

3-0 out of 5 stars Uniqueness amongst Conventionality
'Devil in a Blue Dress' quickly creates a very appealing misé en scene that's constructed upon upbeat and sunlit scenery. Combined with director Franklin's dexterous dolly movements and smooth camera techniques that follow the always-charismatic Denzel Washington around the culturally diverse streets of 1948 Los Angeles, it makes you want to throw your imagination into its storyline for a few hours. With brooding and insidious male characters, beautiful and mysterious female characters, voiceover narration by the protagonist, and a gradually revelatory, detective-like storyline we get the sense that we're watching a more-colorful-than-usual film noir. There's no question that it couldn't have been setup much better; it's too bad that it slowly-but-surely dissipates away into the realm of conventionality.

As far as underrated acting goes - Tom Sizemore is spectacularly sleazy as the coldhearted DeWitt Albright and Maury Chaykin is his usually creepy self as the political Matthew Terell. Easy Rawlins (Washington) is a familiar character - he's a man who will do just about whatever he has to do in order to earn some cash, although he's proud of his dignity and won't sell himself short. He's also more amiable and compassionate than the average man is, which is what ultimately differentiates him from the bad guys of the story. The lesser-seen element here, however, is that he also happens to be Afro-American. It's refreshing to see a film concentrate upon this culture without trying to dictate too many things to us about it - race is an element of this film, but it's not a particularly prominent or overblown one.

A myriad of different characters are introduced - sometimes it seems as if the film is actually relying upon the appearances of new characters in order to progress the plot, and even then some things aren't made very clear. I understand that the writers were simply trying to convey the sheer volume of the situation that Easy has gotten himself into, but its lack of tautness just gets annoying after a while. And there is a cool aura of mystery surrounding the plot until you realize that it's simply going down the all-too-familiar cinematic road of political corruption. The final theme of an average man achieving complacency through oppression is well communicated, but couldn't it have been done in a slightly more interesting/original/unique way? ... Read more


128. Barabbas
Director: Richard Fleischer
list price: $9.95
our price: $9.95
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Asin: B00005V1WY
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 11702
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fine character study....
This is a fine character study and classic portrayal by Anthony Quinn from the Pulitzer Prize winning novellete. What sets this one apart from the other Biblical films of the 50's and early 60's is its lack of "epic" proportions; that is, there are not the usual 50 familiar faces playing a variety of supporting roles. You've got Quinn as the principle, Arthur Kennedy as Pilate (brief), Ernie Borginine (brief), Jack Palance in another evil turn, and filled out by mostly fine Italian character actors. As a Christian, I'm always amazed at how this film reaches me on a spiritual level with each viewing; The soundtrack is innovative and quite extraordinary. A definite thumbs up.

5-0 out of 5 stars One Great Film
I've often wished for a widescreen edition of Barabbas and now here it is. I became excited several months ago when I saw this edition was to be relased on DVD. So here I am on March 5th ordering my copy. I own the VHS version which distracts from the excellent photogarphy. There are some important things to know about the production of this film: the crucifixion sequece was filmed during an actual eclipse, a one shot scene. The sets were constructed three dimnesional so the streets of Jerusalem and Rome appear real. Anthony Quinn was a perfect choice for Barabbas. If you've read the book this film will provide a quality visual to the fine, simple telling of a man's life, the man who was spared crucifixion and free'd instead of our Lord. Also if you've read the book you'll know what Barabbas is thinking most of the time. Quinn is excellent, his eyes ever roaming in thought of survival. This is a big movie shot in a down to earth realistic way. A fine study in seeking truth, arriving on it's doorstep only to turn away. Because of the book, when Baabbas is helping set fire to Rome, I am aware of how truly emotional this last scene in the film is. (I hope am not giving anything way in the film). Barabbas finally makes an open commitment, acting out on a belief system that he's denied since Christ's crucifixion, only to discover in the end it was Nero who set fire to Rome and not the Christians. It's really all there. The muscal score is unsual and unique. I have the old mono 33 1/2 rpm version which gives musical examples at the end of how Mario Nascimbene wrote and orchastrated the incedibe score. Sadly enough this old recording is far supeior to the new CD issue which edited cuts and left out the 5 minute + prologue. I rate this movie 5 stars. If you like the old spectaculars this one is unique and should be in your library.

3-0 out of 5 stars God Provides Special Effect On Cue
Anthony Quinn gives a good, tortured portrayal in this speculative movie of what happened to Barabbas after the death of Jesus. Although a bit slow in places, the film manages to keep the viewer interested in what will become of this poor character. One fact about the film that a lot of people do not know is that the sequence featuring Christ's crucifiction was shot during a REAL solar eclipse. This lends an eerie and divine backdrop to the crucifiction and sets the mood for Barabbas' journey to his ultimate destiny.

5-0 out of 5 stars The "deepest" of the Biblical epics...
I've seen just about all of the Biblical epics, but this one has always been my favorite because of the deeper character development. Except for the beginning of the movie, where Barabbas has been released instead of Jesus, the story is completely speculative. But the journey the story takes is quite moving and unpredictable and thought-provoking. It's probably the only older Biblical movie that actually touches upon the struggle for faith in Christ and the consequences of advertising that faith in a society that outlaws it. Barabbas is a man in anguish, full of guilt and indecision, but tries hard to repress his emotions and his humanity when he's imprisoned and enslaved in a mine for many years. When he's partnered later with another slave, this time a devout Christian, Barabbas resents and then envies this other man's joy in the face of hardship. Is life nothing but hard work and then death, with nothing to look forward to? Nothing to sustain you? Just a bleak end? It's the sort of questions Barabbas faces, even when trying to remain detached. He's a simple man throughout the movie, almost stupid and barbaric, but you can see that deep down he's trying to be a good man. Trying! So, compared to other Biblical movies, this one really touches upon what it means to be human, what it means to have faith, rather than dealing with cardboard cutout characters and flashy special effects. Not to say that the movie is lacking spectacle. The sets are wonderful and massive, and the gladiator fights are huge and violent. As you watch the crowds moving and cheering in the background, you can't help but think: Everyone is real back there. No CGI, no computer manufactured people. It's amazing how they were able to make such large sets and fill them with so many people.

As for the DVD itself, it's beautifully transfered and in its original widescreen aspect ratio. Very sharp and clear, one of the best looking DVDs I own. No special features, which is only a slight disappointment. After all, this has been a favorite movie of mine for years, so I was cautiously celebrating when I haerd the DVD was going to be released. "Cautiously" only because I worried they might cut corners and release a cheap looking DVD. But I was pleasantly surprised that it looks better than I expected.

Bottom line: If you want depth with your spectacle, this is the best choice. And the DVD quality is superb! 'Nuff said.

4-0 out of 5 stars Widescreen Barabbas finally
After years of waiting, finally there is a widescreen version of this great movie (which is the ony way to see these widescreen epics and the only way to do them justice). So much for the good news. Unfortunately, Barabbas hasn't been granted the same deluxe treatment of other equally deserving epics of the 50's and 60's. I mean going to huge epic movies back then was quite an experience not unlike going to the Opera and you got treated to an introductory musical Overture, an Intermission with Entre'act music and sometimes even Exit music. In line with this treatment for other epics (now restored on Laser Disc/DVD versions), Barabbas was no exception. It originally included a Bolero-like overture of Mario Nascimbene's main theme, an Intermission at the end of the Mines sequence (you can see the abrupt cut into the next scene at the fields where the intermission has been deleted from the all versions of the movie currently available), and an Intermezzo (on the theme for the arrival to Rome)previous to the continuation of the second part of the movie. Until Mario Nascimbene's innovative score is restored, we should still wait for a definitive restored version of Barabbas. The Circus scenes are probably the best ever filmed, and are up there with similar sequences of Ben-Hur and Gladiator. (Spartacus is a great movie but does not include Circus action). I hope some day we get the Deluxe verson of this great epic. ... Read more


129. Tears of the Sun
Director: Antoine Fuqua
list price: $19.94
our price: $15.95
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Asin: B000095WW8
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 3508
Average Customer Review: 3.39 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (203)

3-0 out of 5 stars Nigeria's Bitter Tears
TEARS OF THE SUN starts out as an actioner for star Bruce Willis, but soon morphs into an introspective soul-searching film that disguises itself in a series of bloody jungle ambushes. Director Antoine Fuqua presents an image of Africa that has become increasingly commonplace in the media, a continent rent with tribal internicene warfare that degenerates into genocidic ethnic cleansing. Fuqua chooses Nigeria as the background for some truly horrific tribal slaughtering. The elected president, his cabinet, and his family have all been executed by advancing rebels who do not pause to kill anyone found in their path. Monica Belluci is Doctor Lena, a good-hearted woman who chooses to tend to the suffering of a tormented population. With her is a priest, Father Gianni (Pierrino Mascarino) and a nun Sister Grace (Fionnula Flanagan), all of whom choose to remain in harm's way rather than abandon some 70 wounded natives. Enter Bruce Willis as Lt. A. K. Waters, who is ordered to enter Nigeria with his Special Ops team to extricate only Doctor Lena. Waters and his team find Doctor Lena, but she refuses to go with them unless her 70 wounded can go too. Most reluctantly, Waters agrees to this change of orders. Until this point, Waters is a strictly by the book officer, one who regards this war, this country, and its natives as irrelevant to his mission. But he cannot close his eyes to the ubiquitous suffering to which he has a ringside seat. He surprises Doctor Lena, and probably himself as well, by making a genuine effort to extricate the entire group of helpless natives.

TEARS OF THE SUN is a violent film filled with both disturbing images of jungle battle and the even more malific glimpse into the depths of sadism and inhumanity that seemingly reside within the collective breasts of all the rebel commanders. Malick Bowens as rebel Colonel Sadick is especially convincing as one who is as equally determined as is Lt. Waters to complete his own mission but allows not his conscience to bother him in the least. To Colonel Sadick, natives of his own country, but of a different tribe, are disposable people. As a moral counterbalance to Sadick, Sammi Rotibi as Arthur Azuka, the son of the slain president, is the reincarnated collective soul of his bitterly abused people, most of whom see in him the restored dignity of a once proud Nigeria. TEARS OF THE SUN suggests that the evil and insanity of ethnic cleansing is a moral disease that, far from being an epidemic, afflicts only those who are predisposed to violence. Lt. Waters and Arthur Azuka remind the audience that for good to triumph, brave men must show their bravery, not to an armed enemy wearing a different uniform, but more to their own kind ordering them to commit acts that differ from those of the rebels more in degree than in kind. The tears of the son that are being shed for his people are constant reminders that this sort of bravery cannot be assumed to exist in any great quantity.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but it just didn't do it for me
You can't really call "Tears of the Sun" a bad movie. By any account it's certainly a decent action war movie, and I enjoyed it. Where "Tears of the Sun" fails to succeed is in it's somewhat one-dimensional and shallow aproach at including policical and social messages, and in it's seeming impotence at crossing the lines from mediocrity to greatness.

The plot is pretty much a no brainer that gets set up right from the get-go. The Democratic government in Nigeria gets ousted by a military coup and rebel forces execute the presidential family and begin an genocidal killing spree, killing christians and rival tribes. Bruce willis and his small special forces team is sent to to find and evacuate several US Citizens, including a doctor working at a christian mission. The doctor wont leave without her patients, and so Willis and his team agree to escort the people to the Cameroon border. Of course they are followed by the rebels the whole way and are grossly outnumbered and it becomes a race to get to the border and to safety before they are completely over run.

Not exactly full of surprises and not much food for thought. of course there is the initial lie/double cross, and then the classic (not to mention very cliche) moment where our heroes grow a conscience after witnessing the horrors and extent of ethnic cleansing that is taking place and decide to help the people as thier way of making amens with thier own guilty consciences. other than this there is little to talk about plot-wise.

The acting is pretty good, although it varies throughout. Willis himself does a very good job playing his charcter though other than him and the doctor none of the characters grew on me. The setting is great, and the shots of the african landscape were very nice. For being an action war movie, "Tears of the Sun" offered only sporadic action until the climatic battle at the end which was mildy impressing, though nothing you havent scene before.

There is a constant attempt throughout the movie to bring attention to the brutality the ethnic cleansing that occurs in Africa that most americans are unaware of. We hear about bosnia, kosovo, but not so much about the many war torn regions in africa many of which are subject to constant guerilla warfare, famine, tribal clashes, and civil wars. The current attention being given to the situation in Sudan is very similar to what is shown in the movie. The look we are given however, although sad and mildly graphic, is a little one dimensional, and doesnt really explore the complexity of the political, ethnic, and religious angles of african conflicts. instead this is all reduced to "good guys vs bad guy" with the US as the good guys who sit idley by of course. I think many people will wish that the movie had a more realistic and more complete look at this angle of the plot rather than just showin "a bunch of rebel guys in red hats who run around killing all the christians and guys from the other tibes".

Other than that there is an overwhelming lack of depth and substance to the movie. Character development was underdone and there just arent many layers beyond what you see on the surface. And what is on the surface, though not bad, is not spectacular either. While I liked the movie over all, it just didnt have enough meat to it I felt. There were times I would just feel like something I couldnt put my finger on was missing to this one.

"Tears of the sun" does win points however for atleast trying to shed some public light to the attrocities in africa that most of the world lives happily ignorant to. It also serves as an effective, and enjoyable military action movie that is hard to hate but impossible to love.

3-0 out of 5 stars One-dimensional but...
I really have quite ambivalent felings about this movie. From one hand, it's full of cliches and very simpleminded. You pretty much know what will happen, a lot of things are overdramatized (not the scenes of atrocities though). The acting is mediocre but it's not a problem of actors but rather of a bad script. On the other hand, the scenes of atrocities in the movie (somewhere in Africa - Sudan comes right away to mind) make people to realize that such terrible things are really happening today. It did really resonate through probably some shock - at least that's the way I feel. And who knows, maybe a simplemindness of this movie helps to deliver the message. I would give one star for cinematographic qualities and five stars for revealing the problem and showing disasters really happening in the world today.

2-0 out of 5 stars DOA Near the End....
Rent it when you've seen the better combat stories. Well I had high hopes for this one at the theater, and the first half was good enough. Then on the second half the whole "reality" of the movie fell through. If you ever read any real SEAL stories you will wonder what happened at the end. Bad tactics, bad acting, and just poor story. They all died about the start of the "big battle", somehow walking out in the B-movie end. Total science fiction. Sorry, that was just too much. And Why? No one to write a realistic script? Ran out of ideas? What a waste for the budget and huge effort. Thats my take. BlackHawk down Was a good movie though!

4-0 out of 5 stars Tears for Humanity
Bravo to the filmakers for making this movie based on the plights of many war torn countries in Africa. This film exposes some of the atrocities faced by Africans, genocide, rape, torture, mass graves and the list only grows. A very necessary exposure for the world as it sits back and watches a great nation destroyed.

The direction is excellent, war scenes mixed with touches of humanity and nature giving a sense of what people are fighting over. Some of the acting is a bit overdone, but then what other reason is there to watch a Bruce Willis movie? The most touching scenes are unfortunately the most brutal, the slaughter of towns, the piles of dead bodies, innocents pleading for life and the factual account of women being raped by militias who "de-breast" them so that future generations are deprived of something as simple as a mother's milk.

I highly recommend this film for the horror it provokes and try to imagine the nations of Africa pleading for their lives while our fat and happy nation only fights for oil. Shouldn't war be about saving lives? This movie says it all....the right way. ... Read more


130. Madonna - The Immaculate Collection
Director: Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Herb Ritts, Arthur Pierson (III), David Fincher, James Foley, Mary Lambert
list price: $19.99
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Asin: 6305459525
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 5156
Average Customer Review: 4.68 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (44)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent DVD !!
This is a must buy for all Madonna fans. The DVD is in standard format and contains 13 tracks. The sound quality is outstanding. The video tracks included are: Lucky Star, Borderline, Like A Virgin, Material Girl, Papa Dont Preach, Open Your Heart, La Isla Bonita, Like A Prayer, Express Yourself, Cherish, Oh Father, Vougue & a live performance of Vouge.

The DVD contains a video selection feature so you can jump right to your favorite video. Unfortunately, several videos were missing off of this collection. They were: Burning Up, Everybody, Dress You Up, Crazy For You, The Gambler, Into The Groove, Live To Tell, True Blue, Who's That Girl and Causing A Commotion.

I guess we will have to wait until Madonna releases a full video archive to obtain the complete collection.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Video Artist
Arguably the most influential video artist of the MTV generation, and the one to benefit most from MTV, was Madonna.
This collection is a companion piece of sorts to her CD of the same name, with a few differences here and there. Conspicuously absent are 'Live To Tell', 'True Blue', and 'Into The Groove'.
Early videos like 'Lucky Star' and 'Material Girl' come off a little dated, though still alot of fun to watch. Though all of the vidoes have a distinctive feel, the clutch of videos she produced for the LIKE A PRAYER album remain a benchmark in her videography, particularly the visually stunning 'Express Yourself' and the highly undervalued 'Oh Father'(which remains a creative high-point to this day). The sterling videoclip for 'Vogue' rounds out the set videowise, followed by an unnecessarily tacked-on (and lip-synched) performance of 'Vogue' from one of the MTV Awards shows. Consider this a primer for whats to come--though her biggest radio hits were in the '80s, her best videos came in the '90s, as displayed in her second video compilation 93:99.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Video Collection!
Lucky Star- Nice video, I like Madonna's outfit. 4/5
Borderline- I love this video! 5/5
Like A Virgin- My favorite video on here! 5/5
Material Girl- Wonderful video! 5/5
Papa Don't Preach- This one is very nice. 5/5
Open Your Heart- I never saw this one, yet, but I have seen a little of it. For now, I will give it a 5. 5/5
La Isla Bonita- Amazing video! 5/5
Like A Prayer- It's okay. 3/5
Express Yourself- Very creative video! 5/5
Cherish- I love this video, and I think the song has a good message. 5/5
Oh Father- Beautiful video. 5/5
Vogue- This video is so cool! 5/5
Vogue (From the 1990 MTV Awards Show)- It's okay. 3/5

5-0 out of 5 stars An Flawless DVD With No Classic Videos Left Out
Madonna and music videos go together like love and marriage. Madonna was ahead of the game right when MTV started, always coming up with the freshest music videos. This collection of of her best vdeos is truly supreme. Let's go through a quick run - through of the videos.

"Lucky Star" is a cute video. Madonna likes lovely and the dancing is superb. It was her first classic video. I love the black and white intro when Madonna pulls down the sunglasses.

"Borderline" is a very cute video. Madonna plays a fashion model. I love the transistion between black and white and color. And once again, Madonna looks gorgeous. Also, in this video, Madonna vaguely resembles D.J. from "Full House".

"Like A Virgin" was without a doubt the video tha cemented her. I love the scenes in Venice when she's dancing in the gondolla. Never cared for that lion man at the end, though.

"Material Girl" was the one that started the comparisons to Marilyn Monroe, maybe because Madonna wore the same dress that Monroe wore in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" in 1953. It is an excellent video, and the one whose set she met future husband and recent Oscar winner Sean Penn on.

"Papa Don't Preach" I didn't like that much. I don't know if it's because of the way Madonna wore her hair in the video or I'm just not a big Danny Aiello fan, but there's something about this video that I don't like. Great song, though.

"Open Your Heart" gets right back on track. The idea of Madonna as a stripper wooing a young boy into a peep show was perfect. And Madonna's hair is beautiful.

"La Isla Bonita" is my least favorite video. I just don't like the way she looks in the video. I never thought she looked all that good as a brunette, and here is no exception (the "Like A Prayer" video is, but I'll get to that later). Killer dress though, and a good song.

"Like A Prayer" caused a ton of controversy when it was released. And why wouldn't it, what with its burning crosses, interracial love affair nd its depiction of Jesus being black? But when you look past all this, it's really a great video. And Madonna looks so beautiful. And about her being a brunette, she looks good with it in this video. In fact, I think the blackhair was required for the video.

"Express Yourself" is a very sensuous video, especially the scene with Madonna naked and chained to the bed. The ending where Madonna grabs her crotch is really pretty funny.

"Cherish" is a very charming video. Shot in black and white (at least I think it is), Madonna stands on the beach, getting soaked by water and yet singing about the sweet love she owns. A nice change of pace from the racier videos on the dvd.

"Oh Father" I really don't remember, so I'll skip it. I remember it was pretty boring, though. And I hated the song.

"Vogue" is such a great video. It's too beautiful to describe in words. All I can say is that Madonna looks gorgeous.

The live performance of "Vogue" is really good. I reccommend this dvd to all Madonna fans who don't already own it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Complete Madonna
This is the Madonna DVD to own. If you don't own this, and The Immaculate Collection CD - you are truly missing out. The 'live' version of 'Vogue' at the end of the DVD is the icing on the cake. Highlight Videos: Express Yourself, Vogue, Like a Prayer. ... Read more


131. Runaway Jury (Full Screen Edition)
Director: Gary Fleder
list price: $27.98
our price: $25.18
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Asin: B00014NF02
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 12646
Average Customer Review: 2.88 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (284)

3-0 out of 5 stars Weak adaptation made good by Weisz, Hackman, and Hoffman.
Very weak adaptation of the John Grisham novel lacks the big bang of the book, and settles for a messy look at Gun Control that does not fit the structure of what the book was intended. The film itself looks unprofessional, and the screenplay is not good ether. The plot has no soul, and the intentions of the characters are not really giving a real motive to work with. The whole high tech side of gathering information about the jury is really ridiculous and should be put in a spy film other than a court movie. The acting is good with Gene Hackman, Rachel Weisz, and Dustin Hoffman doing their best with what is giving but their efforts are wasted in keeping the movie afloat while the script problems begins to eat itself alive while you are watching the screen. Never the less, Hackman, Weisz, and Hoffman do keep you compelled with what is going on, even when the movie does not.

Judging by how they made this film, John Grisham should never let Hollywood make another movie out of his books, because they always turn out pretty bad.

4-0 out of 5 stars Improbable but Intriguing Thriller.
New Orleans is set to be the site of a monumental courtroom battle between gun manufacturers and anti-gun activists. A woman whose husband was killed when a disgruntled client went on a shooting rampage at his brokerage firm has enlisted the help of prominent New Orleans attorney Wendell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman) in suing the gun manufacturer whose "Saturday night special" killed her husband for damages. The Vicksburg Firearms Company has gotten themselves the best attorney that money can buy, and they have hired a crack jury consultant by the name of Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman) to ensure their victory before the trial has begun. But both Fitch and Rohr discover, much to their consternation, that the jury may not be theirs to influence. Juror Nick Easter (John Cusack) and his girlfriend Marlee (Rachel Weisz) have the jury in their pocket and intend to sell it to the highest bidder.

"Runaway Jury" is based on John Grisham's best-selling novel of the same name. I haven't read the novel, but I understand that Wendell Rohr's character has been altered substantially for the film in order to more clearly differentiate between the two rival parties, and a gun manufacturer has been substituted for a tobacco company. The explosive confrontation between Rohr and Fitch -the only scene that these two great actors share- did not occur in the book. "Runaway Jury" is an effective, although almost entirely implausible, thriller that sucks the audience in by giving us a taste of what goes on behind the scenes in high profile court cases. Specifically, we get to see the bizarre sub-culture of jury consultation and manipulation. The length and expense to which parties will go to stack a jury is endlessly fascinating and overcomes the story's more fantastic elements. The "war room" where Fitch and his team plot and plan is particularly interesting. The film's cast is spot-on. John Cusack is one of those actors that inspire sympathy in any role, which is helpful here since we know nothing about Nick except that he is trying to sell a jury. Dustin Hoffman is convincingly idealistic and naive as Rohr. And Gene Hackman is deliciously ruthless as Fitch. "Runaway Jury" has enough twists, turns, and thrills to keep us interested for the duration of its 2-hour-plus running time. It's a fun, unpredictable thriller with the added bonus of some insight into the art and science of jury selection.

The DVD: This is a terrific disc that will more than satisfy fans and film buffs alike. These are the bonus features: 2 deleted scenes with director's commentary. 2 scenes from the film with actor commentary: Gene Hackman comments of the film's last scene, and Dustin Hoffman comments on the Washroom scene in which he appears with Hackman. "Exploring the Scene" featurette about the genesis and filming of the Washroom scene, the only scene in the film which Hoffman and Hackman share, including interviews with the two actors and director Gary Fleder. "Off the Cuff", an interview in which Hoffman and Hackman talk about their long friendship since 1956 when they were both students at The Pasadena Playhouse, sharing an apartment in New York, and some more recent anecdotes. "The Ensemble", a short featurette about the cast, including interviews with Rachel Weisz and John Cusack. A "making-of" documentary, which isn't very informative but includes, among other things, a short interview with Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, who was the jury consultant for the defense in O.J. Simpson's trial. "Shadow and Light", an interview with the film's cinematographer, Robert Elswit. "A Vision of New Orleans", in which production designer Nelson Coates shows us around the courtroom set that was created for the film. "Rhythm", an interview with the film's editor, William Steinkamp, in which we see an example of his important contribution to the film. The disc also has a full-length audio commentary by director Gary Fleder, which I didn't listen to, because I was worn out from the other extras. Much thanks to 20th Century Fox for putting together a feature-packed disc and especially to Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman for contributing so much of their time. Dubbing is available in French and Spanish. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

2-0 out of 5 stars The strong performance of Rachel Weisz is the only plus here
Derivative thriller that not only does not stay close to the book but also lacks the insight to give a better show. The script has too many problems and the pacing starts and stalls at will in the most starling of moments. The acting is fine with Rachel Weisz stealing the show and doing better than she should have consitering the script is flat and Gene Hackman doing his best work in years. The whole espionage aspect to the film just does not work, and in reality, the case would have been throng out of a real court. The acting is the only plus in this film and that is a miracle because the rest of the film just does not work.

Thanks to Rachel Weisz and Gene Hackman, the movie is just ok but if it had a decent script, it could have been better.

1-0 out of 5 stars Anti-gun propoganda
This movie is utter nonsense done by leftist actors who hate the 2nd ammendment more than the people who actually kill people. Don't waste your time by watching this or any other left wing nonsense.

2-0 out of 5 stars Weisz, Hackman and Hoffman are great but the film is not.
Lackluster adaptation to the John Grisham novel has only the acting to save it for total disaster with great performances by Rachel Weisz, Gene Hackman, and Dustin Hoffman but they are working from a half baked script that in essence does not know what it wants to be and direction that is marginal at best. The tobacco story is gutted for a pure and simple look at gun violence, and the setting of New Orleans is not the original setting of the book.

If you want to see this movie, the acting more than makes up for the problems it has, but not by much. ... Read more


132. Fellini - Satyricon
Director: Federico Fellini
list price: $14.95
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Asin: B000059H9C
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 5508
Average Customer Review: 3.66 out of 5 stars
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Description

Encolpius is a Roman student who begins by arguing with his friend Ascyltus over the affections of androgynous youth Giton. Ascyltus wins, whereupon Encolpius embarks upon an odyssey, partaking in a drunken orgy and being kidnapped by a bisexual sea captain and his concubine.Encolpius eventually rejoins Ascyltus to visit a suicidal Roman couple, join in a plot to kidnap a "sacred" hermaphrodite, and much more. Loosely based on the book "Satyricon" by Gaius Petronius, the "Arbiter of Elegance" in the court of Nero, Federico Fellini wrote and directed this tongue-in-cheek hymn to the "glories" of pagan times via a bizarre journey through the decadence and debauchery of Nero's Rome. ... Read more

Reviews (53)

5-0 out of 5 stars It's About Time
For extended criticism of the film itself see my review of the VHS below.

The DVD of 'Satyricon' has been available overseas for some time, and I've been waiting impatiently for it to be released here in the US. The producers have done a good job with it. The picture is amazingly clear, and the colors are saturated, so that the sets are even more eerie than before. For a film with such highly designed sets, it's pleasant to be able to stop the film and get a good look at things that appear for only a fraction of a second at normal speed. I watched this on my computer, and I was pausing every few frames to get a good look.

An English soundtrack is provided. The lip-sync there is no worse than the Italian since the film was recorded in several languages. Supposedly the three main characters - Encolpio, Ascylto, and Gitone - were English hippies who Fellini picked up in Trafalgar square, and they spoke the dialogue in English. But I prefer the Italian; it justs sounds better. I wish they had provided Italian subtitles too. There's very little in the way of other extras. I would have liked some commentary, but I can't complain too much about this DVD.

1-0 out of 5 stars This movie is terrible
This was the first and the last Fellini movie I will ever purchase. The movie is totally incoherant. I do not see what is so compelling about this movie. It was a waste of my time.

5-0 out of 5 stars You don't get it? You may be the one being taunted,friend.
I firmly believe that if one does not "get" this film, then they are the type of person this film is satirizing. Something tells me that Fellini, with this film, came closer to illustrating the atmosphere of ancient Rome than anybody. It shows the pitfalls of superstition, how drugs and illusion play a role in what people have called "witchcraft","voodoo","macumba" and such. It shows the unmasked view of the delight that some people take in others' misery, in watching them suffer, and in confusing and bewildering them with smoke and mirrors. I enjoyed the scenes that depicted the morally reprehensible theatre of ancient Rome, especially in using period sound effects to illustrate how what we today see and hear in film and theatre is not so far advanced from the illusions that the ancient Romans used to propagandize and marginalize the lives of it's people. The parallel to modern society is so great that those who fit that materialistic mold won't get it, because their minds will protect them from the truth. However, we see over-indulgent despotic emperors using their wealth and power to seduce the minds of the populace. We see the same social elite engaging in disgusting orgies of food and sex. The main character, Encolpius, believing himself to be on a path of discovery is actually being lead through a maze of snares and traps at the delight of his so-called mentor. Soon one might be asking themselves if this man is mentor or tor-mentor to poor Encolpius. This film is a such a startling comparison to modern life that it could stop all temporal arrogance. How dare we think we're so advanced when our society behaves the same as they do, only the names and methods have changed. This is Rome, we live in Rome, it's only been transplanted over here and updated to "modern sensibilities" but Rome is still as decadent and wasteful as ever, as if we think we're rising above nature by destroying it. Well, isn't that how "civilization" works? Destroy one people's way of life and force them to conform to yours. This is Satyricon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Satire of the Satyr
Some movies you just have to see -- forget about plot synopses or snippets of dialogue, you just have to see it to understand. For these movies, there's no way to answer that most natural and inevitable of questions: What's it about? Satyricon is one of these movies.

I've been a fan of Satyricon for about four years, when I first took it out of the public library. I'd heard it was weird and had also seem some stills in movie books like LIFE Goes to the Movies. Something about freaks, absurdity, ancient Rome, I gathered. Maybe that was actually as much as I needed to know since that's what it all boils down to, at its essence.

I probably would have had more of an idea what to expect that first if I'd simply known about the director, Federico Fellini. At that time, I didn't, and so when I first sat down with Satyricon it struck me not just as an anomaly but as a major shock. Sure, I'd heard of Fellini, but this? This was Fellini? Why hadn't anyone told me? They should have shown this movie to me while I was in the crib, it was so cool.

Later on, through watching another great and bizarre film of his, Roma, I figured out what some of the Fellini motifs were and how strongly his personality and taste come through, but at the time, it was a bit of a mind-blower. This guy had survived making this film? Nobody put him in an insane asylum? He was considered great? Certainly I thought he was great, watching the movie, but I tend not to give fellow humans that much credit.

Knowing a bit more about Fellini at this point, I can say that while Satyricon isn't the anomaly I once thought -- Roma is pretty similar and I've heard other of his films also follow along in a similar style -- it is certainly in a class of its own. What's it about? Again, I can't say really, but pressed to the wall with a gun to my head, I'd squeal and saying it's a crazy experience, a vicarious exploration of insanity, of dreams, of an absurd adventure by a blond-haired poet who just wants to get his boy lover back and be done with it all. That summary doesn't really express any of it, but it's the best I can do and there it is.

Perhaps giving a little background would help. First of all, Fellini didn't make the story up, although the film is certainly a product of his imagination and he did make up a few scenes. The plot, such as it is, springs from that most bizarre and unprecedented of ancient works, Satyricon by Petronius. Nobody actually knows much about the author and this is his only work, but what can be said is that it's a book very different from what most people would expect of an ancient book. You can actually get a hint of this by its very title, which is a pun on satyr (from the Greek saturos) and satire (from the Latin satira), meaning that it's an attack on human vice or folly and a depiction of some serious depravity. Did I mention that this was written around the time of the reign of Nero?

Again, having read the original book -- had to having seen the movie -- I can say that it's nothing like any ancient work I've ever run into except possibly the poetry of Catullus, which is hysterically coarse at times. It's simply not ponderous. It doesn't dwell on gods or philosophy or sublime human comedy. No, instead, the book just creates its own territories and definitions. People have tried to analyze it -- the fragments that are left, now that several sections have been missing for ages -- and the general conclusion, so I've read, is that the novel, like the movie, is something far afield from the norm, a twisted tale of such originality as to make analysis within normal frames of reference irrelevant.

The question resurfaces: What's it about? A few scenes may help to convey a sense of its atmosphere at least, if not the plot, since the plot is rather secondary. Picture this: Our hero (well, anti-hero really) Encolpio ends up on a mission to collect a hermaphroditic god(ess) from a hidden temple. He and his companions show up in a cave where they find the god(ess) pale and weak, lying in a pool surrounded by worshippers seeking to be healed. They steal the god(ess), throwing the deity into a cart and fleeing across the desert. Unfortunately the god(ess) is weak and needs water. The god(ess) dies and for that, there is a punishment.

Encolpio and friends end up in another town (where he ends up in a battle with a man wearing a bull mask... don't ask) and although Encolpio is basically rewarded by getting to bed an insatiable woman, he is embarrassed before a crowd of hundreds when he can't get it up. He's been made impotent! To make things better, he's sent to a special treatment facility where he's put in a room filled with dozens of extremely exotic prostitutes who proceed to try just about everything to get a rise out of him. They pin him down and flog him. There's something about a giant swinging canopy with bevies of girls on it but even thought I've seen the film a half dozen times, I can't remember the specifics, nor do I remember if the "cure" was successful. It's besides the point.

I do remember more, though. I know an Roman couple lives in home built into the base of a cliff. They end up committing suicide by slitting their wrists. Later Encolpio and friends run around inside their house and find an African slave girl who speaks in clicks and squawks. There's another big section with a huge ship on rough seas; they capture a giant creature that looks like an ancient depiction of a whale. There's a theater of the absurd, a gallery of freaks, a hysterically fake earthquake, a massively disgusting feast, and oh, it's all in dubbed Italian (at the time, the Italians dubbed over everything, even Italian) with the subtitles making some sense but not all that much since really you use your eyes to understand. Ah, why do I bother trying to explain? What does it add up to? What does it mean? What's it about? Go and see it -- that way you'll find out.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Movies
Occasionally a movie comes along in which a simplistic, mono-dimensional meaning isn't laid out in such a way that even the laziest minds just couldn't miss it. I remember as a teenager seeing this movie for the first time, and being astounded that all that people seemed to see were shocking depictions of Roman decadence. I had sat through the movie amazed at its extraordinary cinematography, and overwhelmed by a moral story of epic proportions. Like most great art, the meaning of Satyricon is multi-layered, and reflects against itself enough to hold a richness of ambiguity that unfolds more for me each time I see it. I was also incredulous to read reviews accusing the movie of being formless. On the contrary, Fellini had created a beautifully structured work out Petronius' rather episodic tales.
Satyricon is a powerful portrayal of a young man's quest to rediscover the potency he has lost in a corrupt world (our world being no less corrupt than that of Fellini's Rome), both sexually and aesthetically. The events and characters in the movie resonate deeply with mythic archetypes, all playing a part in Encolpio's quest.
If you want a key for delving into the structural and metaphysical meaning of this movie, consider the two legacies of Eumolpus: the first he offers to Encolpius as they lie in the fallow fields after being evicted from Trimalchio's Feast, just as the dawning sun begins to lighten the sky. The second he leaves at the end of the movie to those who will consume his body. The first is the wealth of poetry, of the heavens, the earth, the air, of life itself. The second is worldly wealth and its corruptions. How beautiful is the moment when Encolpius joins the ecstatic, dancing, laughing servants of Eumolpus to sail away from the bizarre funeral feast to the true legacy of the great artist. So with us: what are we able to take from the legacy of Satyricon - does Fellini offer us merely a superficial indulgence in the perversity of Roman decadence .... or rather, are we able to comprehend his true gift, a profound vision of the potency of life itself? ... Read more


133. The Astronomers
Director: James F. Golway, Christine Z. Wiser, Julio Moline, Linda Feferman, David Oyster
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Asin: B00004T342
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Sales Rank: 13008
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview of All Aspects of Astronomy
This set of videos does an excellent job of covering the field of astronomy in a comprehensive fashion. It covers both professional and amateur astronomy.

It has segments featuring John Dobson, who teaches amateur astronomers how to build their own telescopes and travels to public events to familiarize people with astronomy.

There are also segments on the many different areas of professional astronomy, including astronomers studying the stars and planets as well as those studying astrophysics and cosmology.

There are interviews with the astronomers where they talk about their work, how they got involved in the field, and segments on how they work to bring an interest in the field to young people.

The focus of the series is on astronomers themselves, but there are also many current subjects in the science of astronmy discussed, such as the structure of large groups of galaxies, the cores of galaxies, gravity, and so on.

I highly recommend this series for anyone with an interest in astronomy or those who are astronomers. If you or someone you know has an interest in becoming an astronomer, either as an amateur or a professional, this series is indespensible.

5-0 out of 5 stars a pleasure to watch
an episode into the eyes of profesional astronomers and narration by richard chamberlain will have you captivated.

5-0 out of 5 stars Astronomers - happy surprise of the year
I don't know why I didn't expect much from this set - somewhow I visualized a lot of talking heads telling me about every astronomer from Newton forward and backward. Not!

The series uses current astronomers to explain the theory they are investigating, complete with research steps and glorious pictures of what they saw and hoped to see. It was not biographical, but historical. The story line was the development of a theory. Several astronomers and their work were used, for example, to explain dark matter - what it was, the theory, and how they hoped to prove something that cannot be seen. Planets, star birth and death, supernovi,searching for the moment of creation, and other current matters of interest are given one tape each.

I am not saying this as well as I might. These videos taught me while keeping me so entertained that I just watched the set straight through. It was neither too simplistic nor was it over my head.

I liked it well enough to search the box with a magnifying glass for the producers so I could go to their web site and find other masterpieces. Sigh! They were a one masterpiece group.

You won't be disappointed in this one - and if I didn't say so, the visuals are gorgeous and unusual. ... Read more


134. Oz - The Complete First Five Seasons
Director: Theodore Bogosian, Leslie Libman, Adam Bernstein, Bob Balaban, Kenneth Fink, Rob Morrow, Daniel Loflin, Alan Taylor, Uli Edel, Terry Kinney, Brian Cox (III), Marc Klasfeld, Keith Samples, J. Miller Tobin, Mary Harron, Kathy Bates, Gloria Muzio, Judy Dennis, Alex Zakrzewski, Roger Rees
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135. They Were Expendable
Director: Robert Montgomery, John Ford
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Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (33)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best Naval film of World War II
They Were Expendable is the story of a small number of Sailors who found themselves in the Phillipines as World War II started. These men are operating small torpedo boats for the Navy which doesn't seem to have much of a use for them, if one listems to the admirals and captains viewing them in action.

The all star cast includes George Montgomery, Donna Reed, John Wayne and Ward Bond, amongst others. All are excellent and make this story much more real than it might otherwise have been. You get the feel for the Philippines and the climate. Plus the deterioriation of the situation as the Army is forced down the Bataan Peninsula to the island of Corregidor and the ultimate siege and defeat.

Many people "remember" Pearl Harbor but don't quite recall that the Philippines was a starker defeat for the United States. If you look at it objectively, Pearl Harbor was essentially avenged at the Battle of Midway. The Philippines took over2 1/2 years to see the return of US forces and it then evolved into a slogging match with the Japanese Army that went on until the surrender of Japan in 1945. Pearl Harbor sticks in the mind, the Philippines rapidly faded away.

This movie brings back the events that made up the US role in the Philippines in 1941 and early 42. You see at the end that there is not a happy ending. The romantic interest stays behind to become a POW. The remaining members of the PT crews become rifle carrying Sailors as they march off into the bush. Pay attention to Montgomerey's farewell talk to his men. It should rank up there with Washington's farewell to the Army.

This is a film that should be seen by all with an interst in Naval and Military history as well as the events of 1941-42. It is a movie about people that could be anyone of us.

5-0 out of 5 stars An outstanding, but unusual war film
A superior war film, shot just as WWII was winding down. Tightly scripted, beautifully shot, with suspenseful, visceral action, this tells the story of how PT boats -- mobile torpedo ships -- made their mark in the Pacific war theatre. John Wayne, playing second billing to Robert Montgomery, delivers one of his most understated and enjoyable performances. Realistic but full of optimism, this film matter-of-factly captures the visceral sense of danger the war brought with it -- from the early Japanese raids following Pearl Harbor, to the sense of dread and helplessness soldiers felt under bombardment while convalescing in hospital bivouacs. A fine cast of supporting actors project the same sort of pragmatic American amiability as seen in the "Terry & The Pirates" cartoon strip. The film is particularly notable for the atypically bleak, inconclusive ending, which shows the disheartening midwar defeat of the American forces in the Pacific theatre -- we know, from the modern vantagepoint, that the Americans ultimately won, but director John Ford doesn't show it in his film. Excellent film; highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars No Mock Heroics -- This is the Real Thing. Beautifully Done
If you're looking for mock Hollywood heroics or a bloated 'action movie', try The Flying Tigers or The Fighting Seabees. This beautifully made, understated film is about the courage and dedication of the forsaken Phillipine defenders in 1941-42. In particular, the scene in which a radio announces the American surrender tells what those early days were really like. John Ford, who served in the Navy, casts Robert Montgomery as a PT squadron leader (in fact, Commander Montgomery served in the same PT squadron with John Kennedy). The b&w photography is outstanding, often mesmerizing, quite unique for a war film, with locations that are dead ringers for the originals. Adapted from the 1942 Pulitzer prize book by a reporter who was on the scene, it follows the true story fairly closely. Every performance is right-on, as are the combat scenes. Not a pumped-up excercise in flag waving; rather, it's a well executed tale of courage in desperate times. Every scene fascinates with the ambiance of its time and place, and with chilling historical accuracy. If the ending doesn't get a grip on you, you're a lost cause. And, yes, Doug MacArthur is treated like a god -- which, in those days, he was. No ostentatious preaching here; it's understated brilliance from start to finish, and an education in an earlier generation's attitude toward duty, integrity, and sacrifice. Bruce Willis fans stay clear; this is a war movie for grown-ups.

5-0 out of 5 stars John Wayne at his best.
Although this movie can be a little sappy at times, it still comes through with a sense of realism that was not seen in other movies from this era. Many of the heros die and it's not even close to a fairy tale ending. Love this movie!

5-0 out of 5 stars John Ford's Classic War Film
More than 60 years ago, Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor. During the months which followed, the United States struggled to recover as Japanese military victories continued throughout the Pacific. This film is based on William Lindsay White's interviews of four members of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three, published as They Were Expendable in 1942. John Ford and Robert Montgomery co-directed and Montgomery also stars as Lieutenant John Brickley. Throughout much of this film, Brickley's squadron only provides courier service between Bataan and Corregidor. When given the opportunity, however, Squadron Three does manage to sink several of the enemy's ships as the Japanese complete their conquest of the Philippines, eventually forcing the American forces to surrender.

With regard to the film's title, not all of those involved with resisting the Japanese were expendable. General Douglas Mac Arthur is ordered by President Roosevelt to relocate with his family and staff to Australia. Brickley's squadron makes their escape possible. As the film ends, he and Lieutenant J.G. "Rusty" Ryan (John Wayne) return to the United States on the last plane out. Their men will now be fighting on foot...at least for a while. In the final scene, as they trudge proudly down the beach and the plane carrying Brickley and Ryan rises above them, the soundtrack offers a muted choral rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." A distinctive Ford touch.

The greatness of this film is best explained in terms of (a) the generally non-verbal but nonetheless close relationships between Brickley and Ryan, and, between them and their crews; (b) the romantic feelings shared by Ryan and Lieutenant Sandy Davys (Donna Reed) which Ford never permits to deteriorate into sentimentality; (c) Montgomery's highly-effective portrayal of a soft-spoken leader; and (d) Wayne's (for me) surprisingly subtle and sensitive performance, perhaps equaled (in terms of nuance) only by his performances in The Searchers and The Shootist.

It is worth noting, also, that Ford as well as his cast and crew obviously had great respect for the men and women in the American military services. They avoid all of the pitfalls which ruin so many other war films. For example, character stereotyping (e.g. including a philosophical Jewish cab driver from Brooklyn) and using melodramatic music to manipulate a viewer's emotions during especially dramatic moments. This film has integrity in all respects, suggesting that although many of those whom it portrays may have been expendable, they are nonetheless admirable. ... Read more


136. The Train
Director: John Frankenheimer, Arthur Penn
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Asin: 079284047X
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 3064
Average Customer Review: 4.68 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com essential video

This is one of John Frankenheimer's breathless gems--all marvelousaction that never lets up. Burt Lancaster plays a French train engineer during the waning days of the German occupation who tries to prevent Nazi colonel Paul Scofield from transporting a precious art collection back to Germany. Utilizing sabotage and cunning deception, Lancaster and his Resistance colleagues stall for time with the Allies on their way. It's a brilliantly made film, showing off Lancaster's acrobatic skills (he performed all of his own stunts) and Frankenheimer's sense of pacing and brilliant use of space. It's choreographed with the utmost precision (those are real explosions during the pivotal strafing sequence) and extremely authentic in its details. Lancaster is in rare minimalist form, and Scofield manages to extract intelligence and sympathy. A firecracker action film shot in crisp black and white, with yet another telling audio commentary by the always instructive director. --Bill Desowitz ... Read more

Reviews (41)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Best
An engrossing WELL-WRITTEN story (Hollywood, PLEASE take note), excellent cast, superb acting on the part of all the actors (not just the leads), painstaking staging and Frankenheimer's direction blending all these essential elements into a thoroughly enjoyable movie. What can you say about a rousing action movie that also makes you think? You can say it's rarely found in today's films. The primary quandry here is just what is the value of art in terms of the human lives that must be expended to preserve it? Is it truly a country's heritage or just oils on canvas for which the people who will have to die for it have little or no real appreciation? Is it worth saving because of its beauty or its value? And when does the cost of saving it become too high? The movie works on all levels, but the characters (and the actors portraying them) are exceptional. The stand-outs: Burt Lancaster, the yardmaster/resistance leader who really doesn't want to do this one last (and seemingly unimportant) job so close to the end of the war; Paul Scofield, the intense German colonel who loves (obsesses over) the art and is taking Lancaster's attempts to thwart his plans for it very personally; Wolfgang Preiss, the "good German officer" who does not agree with his superior but does his duty until he can do it no more; Jean Moreau, the pragmatic French hotel proprietress who has had to comfort one too many fellow widows and Michel Simon, the old engineer who fondly remembers dating a girl who posed for Renoir and decides to make this fight his own. No one who loves a good movie should miss this film. It's not just for action/war movie fans.

4-0 out of 5 stars Underrated war actioner--art for whose sake?
_The Train_ has held up well since its release in 1965. Dismissed as an improbable shoot-em-up then, it tells a much richer story than the special-effects vehicles in the genre nowadays. Burt Lancaster isn't especially gallic as the Frenchman Labiche, but his acting talent and intensity soon steamroller any resistance the viewer may have. Paul Scofield is perfectly cast as a cultured monster, the Nazi colonel who is bent on spiriting the paintings away into Germany. One can easily picture him murdering hostages between sips of cognac.

Shot in black and white, the film is dark and greasy-looking. The screen is filled with churning railroad machinery much of the time, which dwarfs the people around it. The wheezing, snorting engines are also stars in this movie. Even the sky looks dirty in the daylight scenes. Oh yes, there's a sensational train wreck, too. Definitely less mindless than your average Rambo flick, but no less exciting.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Train
Is a work of art worth a human life?
We are near the end of World War II. It's August 2, 1944, the "1511th day of German occupation" of Paris. German Colonel von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) enters a dark museum and turns a spotlight on a painting. He stares at it with the eyes of a lover beholding his best beloved. He turns another spotlight on another painting. The Hun is humanized, and we sympathize with his quiet passion.
It comes as a bit of a shock when he announces that he is taking the paintings, hundreds of Miros and Picassos and Matisses and others, with him when the Germans evacuate Paris. A resistance group, led by railroad worker Paul Labiche (Burt Lancaster), is enlisted to stop them. Labiche initially refuses. It's one thing to blow up a train, dangerous enough - it's another to stop a train without damaging what's inside it. National heritage or not, men will die. There are more important targets than a train filled with art. Things change, though, and eventually Labiche and the remnants of his resistance group find themselves trying the impossible.
I've always been a little leery of Burt Lancaster. Maybe I was traumatized by viewing THE RAINMAKER or ELMER GANTRY at a young and impressionable age. He sometimes seems all horse teeth and braying charm and dis-tinct e-nunc-ee-a-shun. Not so here. In THE TRAIN he's restrained and natural and completely convincing. Scofield is equally strong as his brutal nemesis.
Sometimes the extras on a dvd aren't worth the bother, but I loved the director's commentary by the late John Frankenheimer. It was like taking a course in the art of film making.
Frankenheimer tells us he was trying to give the movie a realistic feel, which I understood before listening to the commentary track but didn't really understand how he went about it. One trick he used was to open the f-stop on the camera and keep everything in focus, something that would have been impossible if THE TRAIN wasn't shot in black and white. Everything is kept in focus and he keeps the background action busy and interesting.
Frankenheimer is an unabashed fan of Burt Lancaster, with whom he made five movies. Not only does Lancaster do all his own stunts in this one, including a dangerous backwards fall off of a moving train, he even fills in as a stunt double for another actor. The original stuntman made a fall off a roof look like an "olympic jump," and 'realism' was the keyword in this one. Lancaster did take a nice tumble off the tiles, but you've got to wonder about the wisdom of it all. Lancaster was injured during the filming of THE TRAIN; on his first day off in weeks he played a round of golf and twisted his knee when he stepped into a hole. His right knee swelled up 'like a basketball.' Frankenheimer shot Labiche in the leg halfway through the movie to explain the limp.
The only phony movie aspect to this movie is the dubbed voices of some of the French actors. You can't hide dubbing very well, and Frankenheimer doesn't have much to say about it. I wouldn't knock a star or even a half-star off because of it. This is a tremendously entertaining film.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great movie.
There are an amazing amount of action films these days. Each one of them attempts to beat the last one's visual effects. And in this competition, hollywood has lost track of what makes a truly great action film... Skill. Most of the action films these days are entirely uncreative, and many of them are very, very boring. Who really want's to see a dozen tiles fall to the ground and break in slow motion, as films such as "the Matrix" use this technique constantly. But this film is different. It carries raw emotional power, and it's star, at age 50, did all of his own stunts, and even drove the locamotives that his character drives. This movie is awesome, and I highly recommend you buy this DvD. And by the way, this music track is a lot of fun to listen to when you're sick.

4-0 out of 5 stars Perfect film on less- than- great DVD
The audio on the MGM DVD was lacking the full spectrum of audio, in my opinion. If you don't care so much about audio, it would be a 5 star DVD, but for those feeling that audio is an important factor, a star must be deducted. Bass and treble just weren't tweaked in DVD production which made the audio seem really flat, and I know that MGM could have produced a better job. It seems that a good number of the MGM DVDs lack the care and attention of producing consistently superior products.

The DVD gives the viewer options to listen to music only and has an option for director's comments during the film. I was at first dismayed because at the beginning of the movie, director John Frankenheimer just wouldn't open up. But he started sharing some interesting things as the movie progressed. There is also an 8- page booklet that gives some interesting production notes and history.

The video quality from, I think, an original film print is pristine. Frankenheimer's locations and times of filming were very effective in evoking a very dismal feeling as the European conflict was drawing to a conclusion. I love Frankenheimer's use of deep focus -- which is using wide angle lenses to have both near and far- away characters and scenes in focus -- to give a vision that many other filmmakers fail to incorporate effectively.

I'm glad that there was explanation in the film about why people were more concerned with paintings than people in a story that was loosely based on an actual event. Many westerners like Paul Labiche (Burt Lancaster) would not care about the value of crates of artwork in a time of war, but schooling by caretaker Miss Villard (Suzanne Flon) expressed the passion and pride that the French feel for such paintings. This helped explain why some would scarifice their lives to save the crates. (Ms. Flon, born in 1918 is apparently still alive and acting, too.)

It's quite a story of saving "priceless" paintings at the expense of one's life. It seems like a WWII action film (which has its share of blowing stuff up), but its story actually weighs the value of art against the value of life. Labiche from the very beginning of his introduction battles Col. von Waldheim (Paul Scolfield), who wants him to deliver the art to Germany AND The Resistance, who want the art protected from the Nazis. Labiche is actually alone in his own beliefs as an American, being tugged by both sides while ultimately struggling with making sense of the conflict over the art.

The movie is well- developed from Lancaster asking Frankenheimer to direct "The Train" after original director Arthur Penn abandoned the project a week after production. I only say that because everything that was directed by Frankenheimer was terrific. The choice of the players, scenery, editing, camera placement and post production yielded a perfect war film that wasn't simply about war. It was about the value of life and what people value in their lives.

Watch for the one scene of a runaway train's derailment -- one of a dozen cameras mounted to film the scene -- came within inches of being wiped out by the locomotive's wheels and the scene has become a classic in filmmaking history. ... Read more


137. Summer's Lease
Director: Martyn Friend
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Description

A family vacation in Tuscany leads to intrigue and mystery in a Masterpiece Theatre presentation written by John Mortimer (Rumpole of the Bailey) and starring Sir John Gielgud in an Emmy Award(r)-winning role.

The minute she sets eyes on it, Molly Pargeter (Susan Fleetwood) knows that the Tuscan villa she has found to lease is perfect for her family's summer holiday. She is powerfully drawn to its rustic beauty and to the enigma of its absentee landlord. Never mind that her husband and teenaged daughter are vocally unenthusiastic and that her outrageously extroverted father (Sir John Gielgud) tricks them into taking him along.

As the family goes sightseeing and gathers for candlelit dinners on the terrace, Molly becomes increasingly obsessed with unraveling the secrets of the villa's owner and of the British expatriates and locals they encounter. Her father lends a hand with the sleuthing while remaining on the prowl, zeroing in on a certain rich widow with whom he shares a romantic past.
... Read more


138. Shogun's Samurai - The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
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139. Seven Days in May
Director: John Frankenheimer
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Sales Rank: 4828
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (42)

5-0 out of 5 stars Makes me want to stand up and salute
"Seven Days In May" has an impressive cast list, great direction, and great story.

For the MTV generation, this would probably be very boring as it relies on insightful realistic dialog and some powerful non-jerking camera-work to tell a great story.

Burt Lancaster is Kirk Douglas' superior officer in the same military outfit, and Douglas suspects Lancaster is up to something secret and no good. The relationship and animosity between them is powerful and convincing as the story unfolds and the secret slowly comes out. Frederick March plays a convincing president, who, at first cautiously suspicious, grows more determined as the movie reaches its climax. The three or four supporting roles are handled superbly as well.

I guess it would fit into the category of "political thriller", and goes well with the other 3 major cold-war era movies - "Dr. Strangelove" (satire), "Fail Safe" (drama), and "The Manchurian Candidate" (drama, also directed by John Frankenheimer).

The DVD includes an entertaining commentary by the director, John Frankenheimer.

All around a well-done movie. I have over 200 DVD's and this goes in my top 20 for sure.

5-0 out of 5 stars Crisp and Compelling Drama
For whatever reasons, I am intrigued by films and television programs which offer recreations of Presidential activities which are presumably authentic. The West Wing, for example, as well as The American President and this film. Produced by Kirk Douglas and directed by John Frankenheimer, Seven Days in May is based on a hypothetical and perhaps plausible idea: During the Cold War, a cabal of senior-level officers in the United States military services led by General Robert Mattoon Scott (Lancaster) secretly plan a coup by which to remove President Jordan Lyman (March) who is perceived to be "soft" on Communism, indeed naive as he stubbornly pursues policies which (the officers fear) would render their beloved nation impotent to foreign domination. Kept highly secret for obvious reasons, the coup preparations have been underway for quite some time as the film begins. Douglas plays Colonel Martin ("Jiggs") Casey, a Marine officer who reports directly to General Scott. Casey views Scott (as do countless others) as a great American patriot. As portrayed by Lancaster, he is indeed impressive. At times intimidating. Scott's brilliant mind is wholly free of any second thoughts, either about himself or about the course on which he proceeds. Of course, he and his coup associates are committing treason.

Inadvertently, Casey learns about the coup and at first refuses to believe it. Loyal to Scott and methodical by nature, he begins to gather the salient facts like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle (no pun intended), dreading the image which begins to emerge. At this point, it would be a disservice to those who have not as yet seen the film to reveal any more about the narrative. Suffice to say that Frankenheimer brilliantly increases the tension as President Jordan and his associates (who include a reluctant Colonel Casey) scramble to prevent the coup. The acting is consistently outstanding. The events preceding the inevitable climax are credible (including some unexpected luck which does not seem to me farfetched), and the film concludes with style and grace. It is worth noting that Rod Serling wrote the screenplay, based on a best-selling novel co-authored by Fletcher Knebel and Charles Waldo Bailey II. Also, that Ava Gardner skillfully plays a small but essential role as Eleanor Holbrook. This is not a thriller, much less a chiller. Rather, the film offers an especially interesting story, well-told. It has lost little (if any) of its dramatic impact during the almost 40 years since its initial release. Thoughtful and thought-provoking entertainment is always appreciated, whenever and wherever we may find it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Mayday
Funny how both conservatives and liberals can cook up their own paranoid fantasies from the same sets of facts. This Kennedy-era melodrama hearkens back to both the October 1962 missile crisis and the Nuclear Test Ban treaty of JFK's administration. When some people on the Right claimed the country was being handed over to the Soviets, two liberal Washington reporters cranked out the novel "Seven Days in May" about a military coup to topple the government. The movie is a faithful re-creation of the book and it's plain ridiculous. Burt Lancaster plays an updated Air Force version of Douglas MacArthur whose nefarious scheme is foiled by a smug band of patriots led by Kirk Douglas. Frederic March's President is so un-appealing you wish somebody would overthrow him, and poor Ava Gardner, 15 years on from being the most beautiful girl in Hollywood, looks like death warmed over. Rod Serling's script is riddled with a pomposity he usually edited out of his "Twilight Zone" work.

3-0 out of 5 stars A cold war general with god-like pretensions.
That is General James Matoon Scott, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, played by Burt Lancaster. He is dismissive & looks down on everyone including the president whom he despises for his perceived weakness. The President (Fredrick March) has decided to unilaterally disarm our nuclear weapons. General Scott will attempt to seize power. This concerns Col. "Jiggs" Casey, (Kirk Douglas) Scott's chief of staff & best friend. Douglas's character is the key. He informs the president of the plot, as it becomes known to him & contacts Scott's old mistress (Ava Gardner). Edmund O'Brien won an Oscar as the president's best friend, a drunken southern senator. Rounding out the fine cast is Martin Balsam as a presidential advisor. The suspense builds as they attempt to stop the coup. No special effects here, very little action of any kind.
Frankenheimer has a more subtle touch in this movie, the follow-up to the Manchrian Canidate. This one is not quite as good but still an engossing flick.

5-0 out of 5 stars GREAT POLITICAL THRILLER
One year after "The Manchurian Candidate", John Frankenheimer was back at it with "Seven Days in May", screenwritten by "Twi-Light Zone" creator Rod Serling. Serling's "Zone's" were a masterpiece of semi-liberal social conscience. Frankenheimer seized on another 1950s novel based on the real events of 1934, in which Republican industrialists recruited Marine hero Smedley Butler to orchestrate a coup d'etat against FDR. The novel and Frankenheimer's film fictionalize the event. It was, again, one of the best movies ever made, but completely liberal. Frankly, I have to ask why in 1963 the decision was made to examine a political conspiracy from 1934 when the worst political crime in U.S. history, the stealing of the 1960 election by Kennedy over Nixon, had occurred just three years prior. The answer to that question, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.
After JFK's assassination, "The Manchurian Candidate" was pulled because it hit too close to home, but in June, 1968 RFK was staying at Frankenheimer's Malibu home the night of the California Primary. He was tired and wanted to stay there. The enthusiasm of his victory that night convinced him to make the long drive on a twisting, turning Pacific Coast Highway, up the Santa Monica Freeway to downtown Los Angeles, where Sirhan Sirhan was waiting for him with a gun at the Ambassador Hotel.
Kirk Douglas is the Butler character In "Seven Days In May", an upright Marine whose politics are explained early by a fellow officer who says to him, "I though you'd be an ACLU lawyer by now, protecting the great unwashed." Douglas describes this officer as the kind who would be better suited for an army that goosesteps. Good dialogue, though. Burt Lancaster is the right wing Air Force General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is modeled after Curtis LeMay, although the Lancaster swagger and charisma make him far more appealing. Frederick March is President Jordan Lyman, an ardent liberal who has just signed a peace treaty with the Soviets that presumably dismantles much of our nuclear arsenal. Lancaster does not trust the Soviet will honor their end of the bargain. Therefore he is convinced they will strike and America will be lost. A U.S. Senator is in on Lancaster's plot to take over the Presidency. They make him from California just to make sure he is affiliated with Dick Nixon. Nice touch. The public is solidly against the President, fueled by a right wing radio host in a prescient script device. In the end, the "protector of the great unwashed," Douglas, foils the plot and March's speech to the D.C. press corps is met by a standing ovation. Oh, those evil militarists and Republicans.

(...) ... Read more


140. Jeeves & Wooster - The Complete Fourth Season
Director: Ferdinand Fairfax, Robert Young (III), Simon Langton
list price: $39.95
our price: $35.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000062XDN
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 14179
Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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Description

Jeeves is the ultimate gentleman's gentleman, a silent, cerebral and engagingly protective butler with a steadfast dedication to his master. Wooster is the classic British young man of means, blessed with a touch too generous a heart and a slight deficit in the noggin department. Their adventures together, chronicled in P. G. Wodehouse's classic tales, have charmed generations of readers. And the TV adaptations of these enchanting stories, starring Hugh Laurie (Black Adder, Sense and Sensibility) and Stephen Fry (Wilde, Cold Comfort Farm) won dedicated audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. The acclaimed JEEVES & WOOSTER programs have finally come to DVD. This eagerly anticipated set includes these exquisite escapades:

Return to New York
The Once and Future Ex
Bridegroom Wanted
The Delayed Arrival
Trouble at Totleigh Towers
The Ties that Bind
... Read more

Reviews (8)

3-0 out of 5 stars Don't fix what isn't broken
The first three seasons were great. Clive Exton did a superb job of adapting the original Wodehouse stories for television, weaving separate tales together so seamlessly that if you hadn't read them first, you'd have a hard time telling what had been changed. Inexplicably, the fourth season is a complete departure from what came before. The first three episodes are, for some reason, set in America, but are very loosely based on stories set in England. I watched them all, hoping they would get better, but it was not to be. There was a great deal of scene padding (multiple scenes of Bertie frolicking at the Hotsy Totsy Club, for instance), as well as the genuinely uninspired comic creations of Mr. Exton. I will grant that, due to the sheer number of Wodehouse's writings, I may well have missed a few Jeeves tales along the way, but if turns out that Wodehouse actually put Bertie and Jeeves in a lifeboat and sent them on an eight month long voyage around the globe, well, I'm dashed.

After watching the first DVD, I hesitated with the second. Eventually I did break down, however, and I'm glad I did. The last three episodes find young Bertram back in his native land, and the result is enjoyable. Again, the stories were based on old favorites intermixed with ones I did not recognise. Again, it could simply be that I have missed a few over the years. Whatever the case, I did enjoy the last three shows. So to sum up, if you buy this one, set your drink on the first disc and pop the second in your player, put your feet up, and enjoy.

If you want more Wodehouse for your money, however, order "Wodehouse Playhouse" Season One. It's from 1975, is made up mostly of Mr. Mulliner stories, and for ...(at present) it's a much better value.

3-0 out of 5 stars Oops - should have stopped after the 3rd season
I agree with the other reviewers. I love Jeeves & Wooster. I love Fry & Laurie. But the 4th season isn't up to snuff. The writing is weak. It makes me think they ran out of Woodehouse's original stories and arrogantly thought they could pull together their own. A lot of the original cast members are gone, and their replacements just don't cut it. For example, the imposing Roderick Glossip is now a nice fuzzy guy who needs help. At least it's the same Honoria. In a lot of places I felt like I was watching a Fry & Laurie skit, rather than Jeeves & Wooster. Not that a Fry & Laurie skit is a bad thing, but it just didn't fit with Woodehouse.

3-0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable series, although this one is not as strong.
I've greatly enjoyed Wodehouse's stories involving the Wooster and Jeeves pair. This TV series overall has been quite good, although the first two seasons are most definitely the best. This one, the fourth suffers from far too many cast changes (the characters feel like they've changed too much as well). Some quite corny script pieces, and some strange mangling of different short stories to make up an episode.

Overall, I do still enjoy the series.

2-0 out of 5 stars One season too far
Fry and Laurie are probably one of the greatest modern comedy teams. The first three seasons captured the Wodehouse spirit wonderfully. This season, the writers/director thought they were funnier than P. G. and decided to re-write his stories. The result is embarrassing and painful to watch.

If you are dying for your J & W fix, re-watch one of the earlier seasons and save yourself the pain.

2-0 out of 5 stars Plum must be turning in his grave!
Unlike the first three seasons, which were nothing short of brilliant, this season seems to have lost the Wodehouse touch. The absolute low point was a madcap chase up the Empire State Building; both Bertie and Jeeves were completely out of character. I got through the set just once and re-sold it almost immediately. I highly recommend the first three sets, but if you're a Wodehouse purist, pass on this fiasco. ... Read more


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