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$19.98 $18.73 list($24.98)
141. Saving Grace
$11.24 $6.84 list($14.98)
142. Amores Perros
$26.98 $17.12 list($29.98)
143. Aguirre, the Wrath of God
$29.95 $19.95
144. Sex/Erotica for Women: Candida
$21.59 $18.98 list($26.99)
145. Magnolia (New Line Platinum Series)
$71.96 $57.26 list($79.95)
146. Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy (The
$9.98 $5.99
147. Stealing Beauty
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148. Thérèse
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149. The Lover
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150. House of Flying Daggers/Crouching
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151. Babette's Feast
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152. Vanity Fair
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153. Beautiful Thing
$19.98 $14.96 list($24.98)
154. Breathless
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155. Hard Boiled
$29.96 $5.50 list($39.95)
156. Ikiru - Criterion Collection
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157. Notre Musique
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158. Chungking Express
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159. Donkey Skin
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160. Notting Hill (Collector's Edition)

141. Saving Grace
Director: Nigel Cole
list price: $24.98
our price: $19.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B00003CXMY
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 2965
Average Customer Review: 4.35 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Imagine a Cheech and Chong pothead comedy, only instead of two scruffylowlifes, the movie is about an aimless Scottish gardener and a middle-agedBritish widow with a green thumb. Grace (Brenda Blethyn of Secrets andLies and Little Voice) has just discovered that her recently deceasedhusband has left her with an enormous debt when her gardener Matthew (CraigFerguson, The Big Tease) asks her to help him tend to his small,personal-use marijuana crop. Grace soon realizes that they can turn her greenhouse into a hydroponics laboratory and turn out a profitable crop--if only theycan keep the local constables at bay and then find a dealer to actually sell thestuff. Saving Grace has well-developed characters, intelligent dialogue,a charming and capable cast, and clean, clear direction. But at heart it's stilla marijuana comedy, with most of its funniest moments coming from the silly,stoned behavior of elderly ladies and other stuffy Brits. Nothing wrong withthat, and Blethyn and Ferguson give the film a strong anchor. The ending goes alittle over-the-top, but most of the movie is well-grounded in genuine humanbehavior. A subplot about Matthew's girlfriend's pregnancy is treated withrespect and integrity. Sweet, silly, and sincere. --Bret Fetzer ... Read more

Reviews (55)

4-0 out of 5 stars Quaint, entertaining and enjoyable
This droll English comedy kept me enchanted and amused throughout. Grace Trevethyn (Brenda Blethyn) is widowed by her husband when he takes a flying leap out of an airplane without a parachute. Upon putting their affairs in order, she discovers that he spent all their money and mortgaged the estate leaving her penniless and steeply in debt. In a last ditch effort to save the estate, she hits upon the idea of using her hothouse and her considerable skills with plants to grow and sell high quality marijuana. Thus, the formerly wealthy widow collaborates with her gardener to grow and process the weed and attempt to bring it to market. The results are often hilarious, especially her negotiations with the drug kingpin and the reactions of the local residents.

The film is well directed and written with numerous funny situations throughout. Director Nigel Cole keeps the pace brisk and works well with the actors to produce a good deal of physical comedy laced with comical reaction scenes by various characters. He also treats us to some terrific locations that show off the wonderful English countryside. The acting is excellent, especially by Brenda Blethyn, who is quite humorous as the fish out of water determined to make her way in the drug culture. She has a quality that makes her equally believable as a proper English aristocrat and a common conniver. Craig Ferguson is also good as her partner in crime, a hapless fellow whose harebrained ideas are always getting him into trouble.

The story is not very original, the film having thematic similarities to numerous British comedies of the recent past ("Waking Ned Devine", "The Full Monty"), however one can do worse than imitate the success of these films. I rated it an 8/10. Overall, it is quaint, entertaining and enjoyable. For those looking for a light film that will tickle them, this is an excellent choice.

5-0 out of 5 stars Charming and Quirky
I first saw Saving Grace on a Virgin Atlantic flight in July, coming home from Scotland. I never heard of the movie, but was quickly drawn in by the characters setting and plot. When it finally opened in the U.S., I became a one-man PR firm, talking the film up and getting people to go see it. Brenda Blethyn is one of my favorite actresses, back from when she played the mother in "A River Runs Through It." She plays Grace with dignity, warmth, and just a touch of desperation. Craig Ferguson is nothing like the character he plays on Drew Carey. His Matthew is sweet, concerned, and a little irresponsible, but trying hard to do the best he can. The supporting cast is wonderful too, adding a richness to the village in Cornwall that makes you care about what is happening, and believe it to be possible. Martin Clunes as Dr. Bamford, and Valerie Edmond as Matthew's girlfriend, Nicky, provide a sense of whimsy and groundedness to the events that unfold. Combine the performances with a good soundtrack and the beautiful setting on the Cornish coast and you have a great "little" film in which you will discover new things with each viewing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Pass the dutchie, Grace
I loved Brenda Blethyn so much in "Secrets and Lies" that picking up "Saving Grace" was a no-brainer for me. Grace Trevethyn (Blethyn) is devestated by her husband's sudden suicide, but even more astonished at what apparently brought it on- he mortgaged everything they own and the bank is ready to foreclose. As Grace brainstorms how to get the dosh to keep her home, her gardner and loyal friend Matthew ("Drew Carey"s Craig Ferguson), whose girlfriend is unexpectedly pregnant, offers Grace a solution that will solve their prospective money woes: use Grace's horticulture know-how and ample greenhouse to nurse and multiply his marijuana plant to sell to a dealer. The humor sometimes slips into Benny Hill mode as Matthew and his doctor friend Martin (played by "British Men Behaving Badly"'s Martin Clunes, who is also the voice of the children's cartoon "Kipper")help Grace fend off the bank and the cops, not to mention the stodgy residents who all know what Grace is up to, but don't discuss it. One of the films funniest moments comes when two old ladies (one of whom is played by Emma Thompson's Mum Phyllida Law) stumble upon Grace's stash and think it's tea. They brew up a cuppa and get seriously stoned. Then, the film takes a more ridiculous approach as Grace and her husband's mistress enter a seedy London club to find a dealer to sell the stuff to. Still, this little ripple isn't enough to bring "Saving Grace" down to 4 stars for me. All around jolly good fun!

4-0 out of 5 stars It'll sneak up on you
This charming, amusing film starts out fairly quiet and unassuming. When the recently widowed Grace Trevethyn (Brenda Blethyn) finds that her husband left her with a pile of debt, she slowly realizes that if she doesn't find a way to increase her income dramatically, she would lose her house. Her gardener Matthew Stewart (Craig Ferguson) encourages her to help him with his struggling pot plants. She takes this to her greenhouse and is hit by an idea on how to make money. All this is encouraged by her doctor Martin Bamford (Martin Clunes). Watching the remaining sequence of events unfold will leave you laughing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cornwall is not in Scotland or Northern England..?
Contrary to some really bad reviewers on this site [Shashank Tripathi on "'WEED"ING OUT MONEY TROUBLES IN A CORNWALL SETTING" and Ante Soda on "Grace saved herself"] Cornwall is not in Scotland or Northern England..? Some of this film's harshest reviewers have no idea about the setting of this work. Were they stoned when they watched the show, or wrote their reviews? Either way, don't take their word for it because they are obviously clueless about this motion picture which is outstandingly charming. British comedy fans won't be disappointed with "Saving Grace" either... ... Read more


142. Amores Perros
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
list price: $14.98
our price: $11.24
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Asin: B00005N8A9
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 1589
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Amores Perros roughly translates to "Love's a bitch," and it's an apt summation of this remarkable film's exploration of passion, loss, and the fragility of our lives. In telling three stories connected by one traumatic incident, Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu uses an intricate screenplay by novelist Guillermo Arriaga to make three movies in close orbit, expressing the notion that we are defined by what we lose--from our loves to our family, our innocence, or even our lives. These interwoven tales--about a young man in love with his brother's pregnant wife, a perfume spokeswoman and her married lover, and a scruffy vagrant who sidelines as a paid killer--are united by a devastating car crash that provides the film's narrative nexus, and by the many dogs that the characters own or care for. There is graphic violence, prompting a disclaimer that controversial dog-fight scenes were harmless and carefully supervised, but what emerges from Amores Perros is a uniquely conceptual portrait of people whom we come to know through their relationship with dogs. The film is simultaneously bleak, cynical, insightful, and compassionate, with layers of meaning that are sure to reward multiple viewings. --Jeff Shannon ... Read more

Reviews (149)

2-0 out of 5 stars "If you want to make God laugh . . . tell Him your plans."
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Amores Perros" is a noble attempt to restore some much-needed vitality and energy to the film medium. However, it is a muddled piece of work that ultimately proves to be both dynamic and lacking.

The events of three different stories are woven together. "Octavio and Susana" revolves around a forbidden love affair and a frenzied car chase in which one of the cars is carrying a severely wounded dog. The chase eventually ends in a horrific car crash. "Daniel and Valeria" is a tale about a television producer (Alvaro Guerrero) who leaves his family for a model and actress (Goya Toledo). Their romantic bliss is disrupted by the disappearance of the woman's dog and her involvement in the car crash from the previous story. "El Chivo and Maru" is about a mysterious man (Emilio Echevarria) who is much more dangerous than his run-down appearance would suggest.

"Amores Perros" is just too long and too disjointed. It is ambitious filmmaking in the sense that it abandons all pretenses at conventional storytelling, but the loose connections between the separate stories are just too loose to create a solid, satisfying narrative tapestry. Its morally-ambiguous characters are a welcome departure from the goody-goody stock characterizations that occupy too many Hollywood productions these days, but they do not exist to further any coherent theme or story. Rather, they are there merely to produce sensation. "Amores Perros" is admirable for capturing the stark nature and feel of the darker aspects of the world we live in and for its unflinching and sometimes dazzling filmmaking craftsmanship. However, the film does not come together when all is said and done and fails to leave behind any kind of lasting impression.

5-0 out of 5 stars Feverish And Driven.
"Amores Perros" comes as a roaring sigh in this era of commercial filmmaking over-flowing the market. It is a masterwork done with passion, intelligence and absolute brilliance. With this film director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has announced his genius to the world and his status as a new major player in the directing game. He comes flying in like Oliver Stone and Martin Scorsese with their first films. What makes this such a great movie is how it vibrates it feeling and realism, we can relate to the characters because they feel real. The film is divided into three stories within Mexico City (but they could take place anywhere else), the first, "Octavio And Susana" is a tale of forbidden lust when Octavio (played by the now popular Gael Garcia Bernal) falls for his hard-edged brother's wife and uses his dog for dogfighting as a way to get some money in a scheme to run off with Susana. This is the story that takes us into the bowels of Mexican culture, into the dark corners of any city, with rich characters and deliciously bloody, violent scenarios that remind us of Arturo Ripstein, who's "Deep Crimson" was another great macabre work of Mexican cinema, or there are also traces of "Los Olvidados" by the great Luis Bunuel, surely the most influential director to work in Mexico (while in exile from Spain). The next story, "Daniel And Valeria" is a darkly comic tale of superficial ways of life being crushed by the realities OF life. Daniel works in a fashion magazine and leaves his wife and children for a beautiful supermodel who loses her leg in a horrible car accident. Here we see some of the film's strongest acting as the emotions boil and ultimately explode. The last tale is "El Chivo And Maru" about an ex-guerrilla hired by a businessman to kill his brother. This story too has great elements of dark comedy injected into the tense drama but the real heart of the story is the surprising truths behind the identity of El Chivo. "Amores Perros" is sure to be an influential film among new young directors, and yet it is so good because it is obvious Inarritu knows the works of the greats like Scorsese and Bunuel and knows what to borrow and how to polish what he borrows to a gloss. Obviously this is the kind of movie that makes reputations, consider that cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, who brings a rich, gritty look to the movie, has already been hired by Oliver Stone for his epic "Alexander." And Inarritu recently participated in a September 11 film composed of 11 films by 11 directors. "Amores Perros" is real, vibrant cinema, just look at the opening chase scene that completely grips us. It is a visceral work that should be watched by all who appreciate good movies and want something new and fresh.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love and Dogs
Emilio Echevarria makes one of the most powerful Mexican films to be viewed in US American cinemas to date. This three-part film follows three stories and the interwoven themes of love and dogs. The first story, "Octavio and Susana" features the at once grittily violent and tragically romantic story of Octavio and his sister-in-law, Susana. Octavio chooses dog fighting as his path to liberate his love Susana and himself from their destitute state of servitude to Octavio's family. The story ends with a bloody crash that brings us to the next story of "Daniel and Valeria," and we are harshly jolted by the contrast between this beautiful model and her apartment overlooking her billboard and where we left off in Octavio and Susana's bloody lives. Echevarria even foreshadows this contrast earlier in the film when Valeria appears in the background on a television talkshow in the livingroom of Ocatvio's friend prior to a final dogfight. However, Echevarria cleverly turns our concerns on their head, and the most superficially perfect of lives becomes the most sad. We are left feeling empty and helpless when "El Chivo and Maru" ties all three stories together, by at once showing dogs as our loves, our enemies, our weaknesses. This film is gritty and real; the cinematography is at once documentarylike, and beautifully crafted. The shift in time and space suggests the ties between love and dogs, a theme that carries us through the end of the film. You will not be able to see this film once; multiple viewings are required in order to capture all of the beauty and pain.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Amores Perros" certainly lives up to its name
There have been many movies where it seems obvious that the director has been inspired Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" but few of those films live up to that standard as well as Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's 2000 film "Amores Perros." The title translates as "Love's a Bitch" and there is an intentional irony in that because dogs are a crucial element in each of the interwoven stories. However, saying this is "Pulp Fiction" with dogs misses the point.

"Amores Perros" begins with a frantic car chase in which two men with a founded dog in the back seat of an old car are being pursued by guys with guns in a souped up pick up truck through the streets of the city. The prologue ends with a scene that is the nexus for the three stories written by Guillermo Arriaga, although we will not know that until we return for the second of three visits to this particular moment.

The first story is about "Octavio and Susana." He (Gael García) is a young man who is love with the teenage bride (Vanessa Bauche) of his brother Ramiro (Marco Perez), who is a thug. Octavio has dreams of taking Susana far away and when an opportunity comes to make money off of the family pet Cofi in dog fights, he takes advantage of it. Of course his complex plan comes down to one last big chance to score, which is just another way for Fate to play with him.

"Daniel and Valeria" is about a television producer (Alvaro Guerrero) who has left his wife and children for the young and beautiful Valeria (Goya Toledo). Their happy home starts to fall apart when a small part of their living room floor gives way and Valeria's little dog end up underneath the floorboards.

In the final segment we finally find out about a bearded, scruffy looking street person that we have seen throughout the film. In the final segment, "El Chivo and Maru," we find out that El Chivo, "The Goat" (Emilio Echevarria) is living in an abandoned building and is a hit man for hire. In addition to ending up taking care for one of the main characters from the first story, El Chivo is hired by a man who wants to have his business partner killed. However, El Chivo discovers one interesting fact about his victim that makes him decide to play out this job a little differently.

"Amores Perros" is two-and-a-half hours long, which is a long time to read subtitles, but worth it. Arriaga creates characters with substantial depth and first time director Inarritu invests the stories with flair. The result is a compelling combination of visceral violence and passion, neither of which comes across as being gratuitous. The violence here matters, as compared to the bloodfest in "Cidade de Deus," where all the killing is just a constant waste of lives. Granted, Kátia Lund and Fernando Meirelles are making a much more political point in their film, but I am still struck by the artist range of how violence can be used in such films where the goal is more than to make money and give adolescents cheap thrills.

Translation: These films made "south of the border" reflect a better appreciation for the reality of violence then what is coming out of Hollywood.

Final Note: The DVD for "Amores Perros" has a several music vidoes, which seems strange given the subject matter, but proves to be rather interesting. You would think the film's subject matter would not lend itself to such promotions, but, again, I think we are coming up against some significant cultural differences worth noting.

3-0 out of 5 stars Really should get 2.5 stars...
This isn't a horrible movie necessarily; if I saw it on TV or something like that, I would probably be satisfied. Unfortunately, it does not live up to expectations.

I haven't seen "21 Grams", so I can't comment on how this compares. What I can say is there are some great parts: the car crash is insanely great and so is the dogfighting element of the film. Unfortunately, the pluses stop at the superficial level; the plot isn't all there and the actors aren't stellar.

Not bad, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it. Find something else to feel artsy. ... Read more


143. Aguirre, the Wrath of God
Director: Werner Herzog
list price: $29.98
our price: $26.98
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Asin: 6305972761
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 5855
Average Customer Review: 4.36 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Quite simply a great movie, one whose implacable portrait of ruthless greed and insane ambition becomes more pertinent every year. The astonishing Klaus Kinski plays Don Lope de Aguirre, a brutal conquistador who leads his soldiers into the Amazon jungle in an obsessive quest for gold. The story is of the expedition's relentless degeneration into brutality and despair, but the movie is much more than its plot. Director Werner Herzog strove, whenever possible, to replicate the historical circumstances of the conquistadors, and the sheer human effort of traveling through the dense mountains and valleys of Brazil in armor creates a palpable sense of struggle and derangement. This sense of reality, combined with Kinski's intensely furious performance, makes Aguirre, the Wrath of God a riveting film. Its unique emotional power is matched only by other Herzog-Kinski collaborations like Fitzcarraldo and Woyzek. --Bret Fetzer ... Read more

Reviews (76)

5-0 out of 5 stars Herzog's visionary film is one of the greats!!
Werner Herzog's Aguirre, The Wrath of God is one of the great achievements of the incredible New German Cinema movement of the 1970's. The film's "story" has been discussed elsewhere on this page so I won't bother to repeat it. But really, this is no plot to speak of. This is a mood piece, a dream of a film. It is a study of power and delusions and if that sounds boring, believe me its NOT. The visuals are extraordinary (typical of a Herzog film). From the films incredible opening shot of a long line of men as they snake thier way down a mountain to the final shot, which is one of the most memorable in cinema, of a mad Aguirre on a raft surrounded by corpses and small monkeys floating down the river. Adding to the dreamlike effect is the eerie music of Popol Vuh. Aguirre is a memorable film experience that you should'nt miss. I commend Anchor Bay for releasing Herzog's entire output on DVD, this a definitely one for your personal library at home. Very highly recommeded!

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but eerie.
This film has always been a sentimental favorite of mine, although it is definitely not a mainstream movie with mass appeal. It chronicles the eerie, haunting, and morbid journey of a group of fifteenth century Spanish conquistadores who break off from Pizzaro's group and head into the deepest parts of the Amazon jungle in search of gold. They are swallowed up, one by one, by unseen natural forces in the jungle, and also by the paranoia and insanity of their leader Aguirre (Kinski). It is well deserving of its reputation as a cult classic, and it is one of Kinski's signature pieces. Showcasing his ability to create a bizzare, twisted and disturbing persona. Since the conquistadores are eventually lead to destruction by Aguirres lust for power and riches it is almost a metaphore of the entire history of the Spanish conquests of South America. The film is actually shot in several languages (including English), then DUBBED into GERMAN, and then SUBTITLED back into English again; which gives the whole thing a rather strange appearance. Kinski's daughter Nastashia is also in the film, playing Aguirre's daughter. Her character is not well developed, and she is only there to show that there IS actually something in the world that Aguirre cares about besides gold. Nevertheless, it is a novelty to see her in her movie debut, before she became famous in her own right. I recommend the movie to those who like offbeat 'artistic' films, and cult classics, but not to those who are looking for light entertainment or an adventure movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars The doomed quest for El Dorado
I am new to Warner Herzog, and "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" is the 2nd of his films that I have seen. Like many directors with strong artistic visions, I have found his style a bit hard to adapt to but I am appreciating it more and more. The grotesque colors he uses are particularly noteworthy, lending a feeling of unreality that contrasts with the naked realism of his films. The visual images are haunting, and linger after the film is over. The Wrath of God and 400 little monkeys...

"Aguirre: The Wrath of God" is by no means an easy film to get into. The characters are brutal and uninviting, and it is impossible to sympathize with their plight, the conquest of the native peoples. Like the river they travel on, the armored conquistadors move slowly but relentlessly forward, pieces of their humanity and sanity falling off along the way. At one scene in particular, the soldiers dispassionately watch their fellows trapped in a river eddy, discussion whether or not they should attempt a rescue with no more urgency or care than wondering if they should have coffee or tea. The peruvian natives are equally unsympathetic, picking off the soldiers slowly from the jungle, invisible and dangerous. One can see the influence it must have had on"Apocalypse Now."

People call this film dreamlike, and that maybe, but it is also brutally realistic, dirty and harsh. There is a sense that this is exactly what it would be like. There is a definite sense that animals were harmed during the filming, and that people were harmed as well. No camera trickery or artistic license is taken. All deaths are ignoble. Klaus Kinski, as Aguirre, is an uncharismatic Richard III,. slightly hunchbacked and ugly, leading his followers down a mad path that can have only one destination.

5-0 out of 5 stars Herzog and Kinski's Vision of Manifested Madness
On the eastern slopes of the Andes during the Spanish expedition , Gonzalo Pizarro urges his men to continue through the thick Amazon forests despite the dangers within the dark and humid jungle. The tale of Pizarro's venture begins with an ominous warning as it is revealed to the audience that the only surviving evidence of the expedition is a journal kept by Brother Gaspar de Carvajal, a monk who travels to spread the gospel of Christianity. This bleak foreshadowing induces an inching uneasiness into the mind of the audience. This is enhanced by further looming incidents such as native slaves dying like flies from simple colds and food shortage. The low supply of food leads to a decision to split the group where one group should return for provisions and the other should continue searching for a gold shimmering city. This tale then follows the ill-fated who continue the journey for the legendary city as they are drawn deeper into the cruel world of the Amazon. Deaths of several men forebode the grim future of the expedition, which the leadership wants to call off and return to the safety of civilization. However, Aguirre (Klaus Kinski), a high ranking soldier, commands a rise against the leadership based on a proud vision of greatness and worldly riches beyond imagination that drives him to thrust deeper into the unexplored rainforest. Aguirre's vision draws the expedition into a personal realm of madness and destruction, which leads to only one certain fate.

Aguirre: The Wrath of God has a lingering effect on the audience as the eerie atmosphere created by Herzog persists from the initial shot to the final scene. There are several components that generate this bizarre ambiance of the story such as cinematography, idiosyncrasies, mise-en-scene, and performances by the cast. The cinematography is simple and sometimes documentary-like, which produces a real feeling. This real feeling together with the uncanny knowledge of the unavoidable doom enhances the extraordinary atmosphere of the venture. The complete portrait of the character Aguirre by Klaus Kinski is nothing but spectacular. Herzog's choice of mise-en-scene is delicately chosen as all the items had to be transported by the expedition. Each item within each frame displays a significant symbolism such as the horse and raft, which adds new layers to the unnatural atmosphere. Lastly, the performances by the cast are outstanding as it is not the dialogue that drives the story forward, but the visual manifestation of their being that elevates the outlandish impression of each scene. When Herzog combined all the aspects of film-making in Aguirre: The Wrath of God he left the world a brilliantly eerie cinematic experience that will leave several notions in reflecting minds.

5-0 out of 5 stars Herzog and Kinski go Tarkovsky.
Wraith of God was actually made in 1972 in German and got its US debut in 1977 and provided Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) with a vision. The film is pure art through and through using the Amazon River as a backdrop for the epic tale of Spanish conquistadors finding themselves abandoned in South America on a quest to find the legendary city of gold 'El Dorado'. Set a few decades after the Inca Empire has fallen in the 16th century, these troops of Spanish explorers have been selected by the head explorer for the region, and founder of Mexico - Pizarro, to find the lost gold. Within a few days of being on the Amazon the conquistadors are split on the rapids. Soon there is a mutiny, murder, revenge and betrayal as the dreams of vast wealth and power drive all of them to their doom.

The combination of Kinski and Herzog is electric. Here, on a shoe-string budget, they make mountains out of nothing as Tarkovsky did on 'Stalker'. The costumes and sets are all obviously mostly made by the actors and whatever film crew that would actually risk hanging around Herzog and Kinski for the gung-ho shoot. This is kino-art's rendition of Hearts of Darkness. The actual suffering of the film crew (and some cruelty to animals - several horse falling scenes, the pillaging of a village with an attack on pigs and a monkey being thrown aside) is clearly visible in the narrative which borders on extreme adlibbing most of the time as well as hard labour (moving a cannon on a small wagon around the jungle, building rafts with a toilet on board and living off the land). The improvisation though is classic in every sense of the word making Herzog and Kinski instant important additions to the world of high profile art film makers. The cinematography is spot on. The majority of it is hand-held but the images of the jungle are striking and the final shots of the circling raft are sublime. Seeing Kinski chasing monkeys around the raft is also some of the most memorising and breathtakingly remarkable scenes in cinema. The film is one of the most unusual you have ever seen and becomes psychotic towards the final stages showing the craziness of our characters search for the gold - a reflection of the exertions of the crew and actors. Kinski is outstanding as the deranged Don Lope de Aguirre who trying to follow in Pizarro's footsteps even manages to take his family into hell with him. There is an excellent plot element involving a mock trial with a monk as a judge and the crowning of a pseudo-king that will have you in disbelief. The film is so lucidly insane that it will captivate you within the first few minutes. By the time the credits role you will have experienced an epic completed with a few actors, a raft, some animals and natives and yet have witness something as grand and epic as 'Spartacus'. Herzog is a crazed genius and the world is his strange colloid laboratory.

'Aguirre' is up there with the ranks of 'Andre Rublev' and 'Apocalypse Now' however Kinski and Herzog did go one better when they made 'Fitzcarraldo'(they tow a steam ship up a mountain... really!). The aspect ratio of this film is 1.37:1 meaning that it is not in widescreen or letterbox, but it was originally filmed as a square almost (fitting television perfectly). The transfer is extremely good although I believe that this is not a new transfer and was probably encoded from a very good master video tape (Beta SP) for German television broadcast and not from a 35mm film print. No one is complaining though because the quality is extremely good. The extras (documentaries, commentaries) are a must. By the way you can get the Kinski/Herzog box set of 6 films for a few quid extra than this stand alone DVD. Go look for it. ... Read more


144. Sex/Erotica for Women: Candida Royalle's One Size Fits All DVD
Director: Candida Royalle
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0000DBK1Y
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 16963
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Description

Our tale begins in a vintage clothing shop where a strangely seductive dress shows up for sale and leads us on a journey of sizzling sexual intrigue. Unaware of how this dress has played a role in each of their lives, a group of friends recounts in hilarious detail their own adventure while wearing this provocative playsuit! Missy describes her explosive encounter with a charming cad...Shanna McCollugh reveals her searing seduction of an uptight beau...and Gina Rome confesses her dressing room tryst with a randy salesman! Nina Hartley unravels her racy run-in with Missy’s deceptive cad, and Melissa Hill’s casting couch audition with a hunky hopeful is both funny and stirring! With lots of unexpected twists and turns in Candida Royalle’s most sensually explicit movie yet, ONE SIZE FITS ALL proves that sex and humor are a wantonly winning combination! ... Read more


145. Magnolia (New Line Platinum Series)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
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Asin: B00003CWTI
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 2100
Average Customer Review: 3.74 out of 5 stars
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Description

An intriguing and entertaining study in characters going through varying levels of crisis and introspection. This psychological drama leads you in several different directions, weaving and intersecting various subplots and characters, from a brilliant Tom Cruise, as a self-proclaimed pied-piper, to a child forced to go on a TV game show and the pressures he faces from a ruthless father. ... Read more

Reviews (653)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Magnolia is a hard film for many people to watch. The reason for this is that Magnolia is a film about what we watch movies to escape from... real life. That's what its about; forget the sprawling plot, Magnolia is about the trials and tribulations of modern life. It's about coping with regrets and fixing our mistakes. This makes for a very depressing film. It also makes for a very real film.

Filled with many different characters, its easy to find someone to identify with. Whether it be Frank TJ Mackey, a womanizing motivational speaker who refuses to come to terms with his father, or Jim Curring, a cop who's trying to find love while doing the right thing, you're sure to find someone who you love.

Stellar performances are turned in across the board, but that's no surprise looking at the cast. You stop seeing William H. Macy, you start seeing Quiz Kid Donnie Smith. The only weak link is Julianne Moore as Linda Partridge. She's way over the top, but its forgiveable if not dismissable.

Magnolia is one very smart film. It is filled with themes of redemption, courage, freak accidents, and God. Director Paul Thomas Anderson does not dumb these down for us; he does not insult his audience. He knows we are smart, capable people and leaves it all up for our own interpretation. It may be a little overwhelming, but that's why this is a great DVD to purchase. You can watch it repeatedly and pick up on all the little things you may have missed that make a big difference. On the suplemental disk is an interesting documentary about the making of Magnolia that offers much insight into PT Anderson and the way he works. The only thing that's missing is a commentary track by Anderson; he thinks the film speaks for itself. He may be a little off base there, but Magnolia is nonetheless a very satisfying purchase.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best of the Year
I know "Magnolia" technically came out in 1999, but it's wide release was in 2000, and with this year not even half-over, I can honestly say that this movie is one of the best I've ever seen. With few and relatively minor flaws (such as trying to tackle 10 different storylines; some of them not resolved well enough by the 3-hour period)P.T.Anderson beautifully uses the camera to convey moods parallel to the characters that he writes. There are some surreal moments that are just flat-out cool, ie. the whole singing thing (that's being labeled as stupid, but aren't you supposed to leave reality at the door?) A great soundtrack that makes this movie as amazing as it is and a brilliant ensemble performance with stand-outs by Julianne Moore and John Reily (who plays the most damn convincing cop I ever seen). But I agree with the last review: Anderson should have focused on 3 or 4 storylines and explored them more. Even so, one has to admire it's gutsiness to take on themes like desperation and lonliness and do so with such conviction-

(There are also symbols in this film, which at times can be confusing-but after you see this, read Exodus:8 from the bible and some of your questions will be answered.)

5-0 out of 5 stars Just for the record. . .
It really does rain frogs, though it is a rare occurance. I always get a bit peeved when people complain about that aspect of this wonderful film.

Do a little research. It shouldn't take you long to find a dozen or so newspaper articles documenting frog storms.

". . .but it did happen."

5-0 out of 5 stars Original Artistic Masterpiece
This movie is a must see for anyone who appreciates artistic well thought out movies. If you are dumb then I don't recommend it as you will be unable to comprehend it's brilliance, most of the time these people will dimiss it with negative reviews just because they don't get it.
.... And I quote Bob Dylan ' Don't criticize what you can't understand'
A unique film run with fantastic acting and an undercurrent of genius. The music, Starring Aimee Man's Beautiful voice captures the atmosphere of the movie with insane accuracy as does the superb camera work. Well Done!

4-0 out of 5 stars Powerful, impacting movie
This is not a perfect movie but I think it comes across powerfully. The acting is superb. Tom Cruise's character suits him well and Julianne Moore plays her part so daringly that I ended up hating her and then pitying her. The other actors/actresses all do a great job. The film is fast-paced, a good thing considering it lasts about 3 hours. There is a coming together of several seemingly unrelated stories. A common thread that I picked up is the severe pains caused by personal, self-serving decisions that hurt loved ones. The message of the movie is powerful and compensates for some of what I consider the movie's shortcomings--such as the seemingly constant yelling and cursing--much usage of the f-word (just like in real life) and several scenes drowned out by loud music and an odd even of the sky raining bullfrogs, an event that plays an integral part in the climactic ends to the several stories. ... Read more


146. Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun / Veronika Voss / Lola) - Criterion Collection
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Asin: B0000AKY56
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 10611
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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There is at least one certifiable masterpiece in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy, and one could argue thatall three films qualify for that honor. Conceived as a series of sociopolitical melodramas set during West Germany's "economic miracle" of post-war recovery (roughly 1947-60), these exquisitely crafted films found the prolific Fassbinder (1945-82) near the end of his astounding career and at the height of his creative powers, depicting post-war Germany as a land of repressed memory and surging capitalism, repressively avoiding any connection to the horrors of its Nazi past. Women were Fassbinder's conduit to analyzing the BDR (Bundesrepublik Deutchland) and its effect on the German character, resulting in three of the most remarkable female characters ever committed to film.

As noted in an affectionate commentary track by Fassbinder's friend and fellow director Wim Wenders, The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) is Fassbinder's undisputed masterwork, a critical and box-office triumph that fulfilled Fassbinder's goal of creating a "German Hollywood melodrama" in the tradition of his director-hero, Douglas Sirk. Beautifully shot by Michael Ballhaus (who advanced to brilliant collaborations with Martin Scorsese), it stars Hanna Schygulla in her signature role as a newlywed whose missing husband returns in the mid-'50s, just as she's reinventing herself through opportunism, seduction, and blind ambition--a woman, like Germany, determined to forget her miserable past, with explosively tragic results. "BRD 2" is the wickedly satirical Veronika Voss (1982), filmed in black and white (a stylistic nod to German'y's post-war thrillers) and starring Rosel Zech as a faded film star-turned-morphine addict making futile attempts to revive her career. Set in 1957, Lola ("BRD 3," 1981) is Fassbinder's homage to Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel, and stars Barbara Sukowa as a cabaret singer and prostitute who, like Maria Braun, is for sale to the highest bidder--in this case a straight-laced official (Armin Mueller-Stahl) who discovers the high cost of ignorance.

Taken together, these films form an impressively coherent vision, compassionate and yet brutally honest, unsentimental, and provocatively critical of post-war Germany. In the established tradition of the Criterion Collection, extensive supplements explore the depth of Fassbinder's achievement. Three commentaries, each with their own uniquely personal and/or critical perspective, are among the finest Criterion has ever recorded. Interviews with Schygulla, Zech, Sukowa, and many of Fassbinder's closest collaborators pay latter-day tribute to Fassbinder and his extended family of on- and off-screen talent, while the 96-minute German TV documentary I Don't Just Want You to Love Me explores Fassbinder's tragically curtailed life and work through abundant film clips and interviews. A filmed 1978 interview with Fassbinder himself--at 49 minutes, the longest ever recorded--offers further insight into the psychology and chain-smoking intensity of a man who burned out from drugs and exhaustion at the age of 37. Along with the collected Adventures of Antoine Doinel, the BRD Trilogy is one of the most impressive DVD sets ever released, and a sparkling jewel in Criterion's crown. --Jeff Shannon ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars The german tragic epic
Since I watched this movie in 1980 I became a real admirer of the genius of Mr. Fassbinder.
All the story is a full circle. It's a untired fight against the fate and the search for the bliss not only of Maria Braun, but Germany in final instance, because the metaphor is brutally clear.
The sense of loss, the hope (altough no matter what),the intelligent and proactive personality of Maria, the spirit of to achieve the goal, the huge tension carried under the body of Maria Braun, just for love. Twelve years are lived in this tale from 1942 to 1954. This personal epic is so really described for Fassbinder without exploring but living and suffering in silence the pain and the anguish. Fassbinder made several true gems for all the eternity, but this film in particular has a strange enchantment, so convincent and so human that in my personal view (it constitutes not only the most sincere statement of Fassbinder for ejecting the inner demons of the Germany of the postwar) one of the most perfect examples of the supreme perfection in the germany cinema together with The bridge (Rowicki), the wrath of God (Herzog),the american friend (Wenders), the tin drum (Schlondorff) and Das Boot (Petersen).
Don't miss

5-0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Trilogy
Fassbinder's BRD trilogy is not a trilogy in the sense of being one continuous story spread over three films. Each film is separate and self-contained with different characters. Moreover all three films have a very different style. The link between the films is that they are all set in the period just after World War II and tell the story of the Federal Republic of Germany (BRD) and its recovery from the wreckage of defeat. Each film has as a central character a woman struggling to live in the new Germany. Fassbinder uses these women's lives to comment upon the history of the forties and fifties and especially to critique Germany's "Economic Miracle." The films however, are not politically heavy handed. Fassbinder may be critical of aspects of post-war German society, but his points arise naturally from the nature of the stories the films tell. He clearly saw that his first task as a filmmaker was to make films with strong stories, which were both intellectually and emotionally involving. He succeeds with the three films in the trilogy. One of the reasons for the success of these narratives is the acting. The performances, especially from the three main actresses, are superb. Furthermore these films show that Fassbinder did not forget that his audience should be able to comprehend his ideas. He avoids being cryptic or obscure.

The prints on the Criterion DVDs are very good. The films are presented in their original aspect ratios and look great. This is important especially for Lola with its unusual colour palette and for Veronika Voss with its stark black and white photography. Criterion also does very well in providing good subtitles to these films. Fassbinder often uses multiple layers of dialogue with, for example, characters talking while a radio plays one of Adenauer's speeches in the background. The difficult task of subtitling such scenes is carried out well.

This box set contains a huge amount of extras. Each film has a commentary and in addition there are over five hours of documentaries and interviews with the people involved in making the films. There is finally a fifty-page booklet about the trilogy. These DVDs are a great introduction to the work of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The films are enjoyable and thought provoking and essential for anyone interested in post-war German culture.

3-0 out of 5 stars Now this is chunky.
I dont know if the films really deserve such extreme fawning (they are "small" films with an extremely independent feel) and my personal favourite of Fassbinder's of those I've seen, I must admit, is Criterions' "Ali..". Now that at least deserved a commentary. Still, every Fassbinder addicts' dream. The films themselves vary in quality; the first two "...Maria Braun" and "Veronika Voss" are the best, while Lola is the weakest of the lot (dramatically and conceptually). The real beef here is a lengthy documentary on the bonus disk. This is worth the proverbial 'price of admission', and rounds off a trilogy of nice "little" films.

For more quality German stuff check out "The American Friend" by Wim Wenders. It's really cool.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not region 1
This DVD-set can't be with region 1 code, because my DVD-player is with region code 2 and plays this DVD-set complete. It must have region code 0.

5-0 out of 5 stars No real euphoria...
God bless Criterion for finally releasing Rainer Werner Fassbinder's most popular films on disc. The great underappreciated little madman of the New German Cinema and certainly the most ignored genius in film history, Fassbinder's trilogy of films are set in the fifties of the Federal Republic, where the beautifully detailed characters are tortured by post-war burns on society. In The Marriage of Maria Braun, the title heroine loses her husband to war after spending half a day and one night with him, only to have him return and demand from her the weight of obligation. In Lola, an idealist reconstructionist falls in love with a brothel singer and sacrifices his innocence to his obsession. And Veronika Voss tells the story of a former actress whose involvement in a murder plot leads to her undoing.

Featuring outstanding work by actors such as Hanna Schygulla and Armin Mueller-Stahl, gorgeously photographed by Michael Ballhaus and Xaver Schwarzenberger, the BRD Trilogy is an outstanding follow-up to Criterion's recently released Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (my personal favorite Fassbinder - pick it up if you haven't already). Fassbinder's agonized desire for art through life led to an independent revolution of absolute brilliance. Fourteen years, forty-four films and not one of them bad: the proof is right here in this amazing trio of brutally dark and romantic cinema. ... Read more


147. Stealing Beauty
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
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Asin: B00005QZ7W
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 4713
Average Customer Review: 4.15 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (73)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Vacation
In this 1996 film, Liv Tyler makes her stunning debut. Set to a soundtrack that is a good mix of quintessentially '90's music (a la Portishead and Liz Phair) and retro classics (like "My Baby Just Cares For Me" and "I'll Be Seeing You,"), this film takes both Liv's character, Lucy, as well as the viewer, on a journey into mystery and enchantment. Lucy embarks on her journey to Italy after the death of her mother, a famous poet and artist. She travels there in search of greater knowledge about her mother, who spent a brief few weeks there one summer. But what Lucy really uncovers in Tuscany are the answers to secrets in her past. And, as the film goes on, she discovers more and more about herself, and the woman she is to become. This film is a great, slowly paced meditation on sex, love, art and self-awareness. When Lucy finds out that she was "conceived" in the olive groves of the artists' villa there, her curiosity deepens and the search for her birth father becomes one of the main goals in her journey. Faced with the loss of a future with her mother, Lucy is looking towards the past for information about those she loves, for knowledge about herself and where she came from, and for hints about where this might lead her as she takes on the life of an adult.

The film begins with shots of Lucy sleeping on the train on her way to Tuscany. There is even one devilish strategic close-up shot of her jeans which is perhaps explained later in the film when it is revealed in a comical exchange between Lucy and Jeremy Irons' character that the beautiful 19 year old Lucy is a virgin. Unbeknownst to Lucy, she was being taped on her journey by a fellow passenger on the train. But he gives her "beauty" back to her in the form of the videotape. Her fate is still in her hands. From there, the film follows several slow, melodic plot lines, one of which is the attempt to find the perfect first sexual partner for the young and much-loved Lucy.

Liv plays a perfect beauty here. She is innocent, touching, bright, curious, and passionate, and as the film goes on, she takes a cue from the artists at the villa and becomes and more free in her expression, more comfortable in her own skin. But she is also careful. She wants her passion to be shared with someone worthy of it, someone who gives as well as takes. It takes a while for her to find out who that perfect catch is, but as in life, the story is what happens while she is waiting for the "pay-off."

Her curious habit of striking a match to each finished poem and burning it up seems to say that she is not yet confident in her artistic abilities, that she wants to keep some things sacred, private. She is cautiously awaiting sharing herself on a deeper level with those whom she grows to love.

Jeremy Irons' character, a man struck by illness in the most beautiful of places, is a nice offset to the virginal beauty of Tyler. Together, they bring the film full circle from youth and glowing health to the natural course of death and dying. The attention they pay to one another is mutual. Lucy in this way is wise as well as youthful.

The countryside in this film is magical. The vineyards of Tuscany, with the glowing sun above, are lovingly captured by Bertolucci. The film is as much an ode to youth and innocence, and the inevitable loss of it (which I think Bertolucci is saying can also be beautiful) as it is to the Italian countryside.

Others in the film who have gone on to receive wide acclaim and appear in such movies as Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth, Swept From the Sea, and The Mummy are the two British actors Joseph Fiennes and Rachael Weisz.

4-0 out of 5 stars gorgeous at every turn
If you watch this film for nothing else, soak in the beauty of the setting.
While I enjoy this film for both its plot and its artistic/aesthetic qualities, I have to admit that it is at its most stunning best when it comes to its cinematography. what a gorgeous backdrop for a virgin coming-of-age story! the plot may be a bit tired, and the characters too well known, but the twists that are supplied are enough to make it engaging. Liv Tyler is, of course, gorgeous and mesmorizing. The Italian and British actors that flank her almost eclipse her, but as her debut film, she does truly shine.
There are several scenes that are physically intriguing, but I most enjoyed the entire "party" sequence.... some odd, yet stunning filming.
Let's face it, everyone in this film is beautiful to look at (even Jeremy Irons as a dying man). You begin to lose interest in Lucy's (Tyler) quest at some point, but once the answer is revealed it is still somewhat satisfying.
I can highly reccommend this film to anyone that is into gorgeous scenery, lovely and easy story lines, and has and eye for the pleasing aesthetic so many films lack these days. Nothing earth-moving... but a VERY pleasant movie experience!

5-0 out of 5 stars it's my favorite, but not for everyone
you may not, but i love this movie. the characters are solidly interesting and well-played, the storyline is simple but itriguing, and it has simply beautiful scenery.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good movie but needs subtitles in parts
I really like this movie. The scenery is beautiful and the movie's focus on the interactions between a variety of characters in the Italian countryside is interesting. I would rate it higher except for one thing- quite a bit of the movie is in Italian and there are no subtitles for this dialogue. This really doesn't make sense, especially considering the vhs copy that I use to own did have them. The parts in Italian aren't just snippets of dialogue either- some are entire conversations. If you've seen this many times with subtitles (and know what they're saying in Italian) I would definitely buy it. If not, it's still a good purchase but be aware that you're missing quite a bit of the movie.

1-0 out of 5 stars What about "no stars"?
As an Italian (who teaches Italian in HS and college in the U.S.) I really looked forward to a good film after one of my students recommended this one to me.

As a professor, I can sit through a lot of boring stuff, but this movie was so awful I couldn't even finish it. The scenery is nice but after watching this film for over an hour I found it to be pointless. ... Read more


148. Thérèse
Director: Alain Cavalier
list price: $24.98
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Asin: B00007KK1V
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 9660
Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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The life of St. Thérèse de Lisieux, a young Carmelite nun who died oftuberculosis, is the inspiration for this spare, sincere French film. Theobsessively religious Thérèse (Catherine Mouchet) fights to be allowed to jointhe rigorous order of nuns, taking her petition all the way to the Pope himself.After becoming part of the sisterhood, Thérèse takes joy in the strict ritualsand devotions, until she develops tuberculosis and her inner connection with Godsuddenly leaves her; despite this, she never loses faith, and writes a private diary (which, whenpublished after her death, became hugely popular). The settings of every sceneare depicted only by furniture; the neutral background puts all the focus on therich performances of the actors, including Hélène Alexandridis as a young nunwho falls in love with Thérèse. An elegant film, perhaps best appreciated byCatholics. --Bret Fetzer ... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not for Everyone
Keep in mind that the director of this film was an atheist, and that one of his primary purposes in filming it was to experiment with a new/different cinematic style. Therefore, no fancy sets or backgrounds, just a concentration on the life of a very devout, simple, and loving young girl. Not her whole life, only bits and pieces of how she thought, what she said and did, and what life in a Cloistered Convent was like. l've seen this movie several times, and not once did l see any overt or obvious act of the so-called lesbianism. See it for its spititual message, and keep in mind that after this movie was released there was a solid increase in applications to Carmelite Convents and a more solid interest in the life of St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower.

5-0 out of 5 stars A sweet film about a girl with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
The film is good, it's french and it's minimal. I saw it when I was in the seminary years ago.

If one reads the memoirs of nuns who actually had to live with this eventual saint, none of them really liked her. Short of counting every step she made throughout the day, or avoiding cracks lest she break her mother's back, she was so driven by obsessively compulsive disarray that she HAD to become a saint. She was consumed with the most minor infractions (silly, nonsense sins) that she drove everyone around her crazy.

Is that really a "saint," or is that someone who could have just been helped out a whole lot with a little Zoloft or Prozac? So you think a mean thought of someone who annoys you...well, this woman made mountains out of those inconsequential thoughts, yet she's viewed as special.

Well, she was special. Her neurosis was olympic, and she made others suffer for that. But we didn't have to live with her, so we think she's spectacular.

This film does not deal with her psychological self-induced trauma. This film, like time, makes this woman stand out as a saint.

Fantasy and fond memory beats the heck out of truth and reality.

Mike

4-0 out of 5 stars seeing a saint from the outside
This intimate, intense little film shows the making of a saint 'from the outside.' When I first saw it, I was so impressed by the portrait of young Therese Martin that I learned all I could about the icon she became to the Roman Catholic World. The after-death publication of her stubby-pencil autobiography "The Story of a Soul" captured the attention of the devout. She rapidly came to be known as 'The Little Flower' or "St. Therese of Lisieux" and was canonized in 1927, becoming co-patroness of France with St. Joan of Arc, and a "doctor of the church". The film shows us this giant figure of the faith as she appeared within the hermitically sealed world of a Carmelite convent-a little girl with quietly extraordinary qualities. No music or heavenly light announces her holiness. The scenes are barren, the light is directional and shadowed, as in a Caravaggio painting. The film presents a series of vignettes, as though on as shallow stage. Within each one, she seems to seek to hide, not allowing herself to dramatize even her own illness and approaching death. But the reactions of other sisters reveal her. An elderly nun chooses her as confessor, surrendering to her the one private possession she has retained, against the rules, for 50 years. A confused and unhappy young sister responds to her clear-eyed and loving compassion. A crabby older sister showers her with flowers and asks her for the relic of a fingernail clipping, astonished that she is unable to withhold her homage. Most important, her Mother Superior, who alone knows her secret desire to become a great saint, requires that she write down the thoughts of her heart, knowing that they will be important. Believers will be moved, the merely curious may find themselves breathless.
One vignette in particular, stays with me as a beautifully rendered cinematic explication of her character. I have never in all my researches on St. Therese encountered a narrative that 'validates' the scene, but it has a haunting truthfulness. Therese is working in the kitchen with another sister. A box is delivered. When opened, it proves to contain a huge, live lobster. Therese boldly lifts it, though she is clearly frightened and awed by its claws and its repulsive appearance. But it is too large for her hand, and falls heavily to the floor, writhing and snapping on its back. She bends over, rights the thing, and picks it up. As she bends, blood streams from her mouth-a hemorrhage from the lungs, and the first sign we see in the film of the tuberculosis that will painfully kill her. She smiles radiantly to her companion sister, wiping the blood away, and saying that she 'bit her tongue.' Thus, Therese faces death. I am struck by this scene because it reflects another painful scene in Dostoevsky's novel, The Idiot. A tubercular young student recounts a nightmare in which he is trapped in a room with a huge scorpion he knows he cannot escape. His terror and horror at this entrapment by inexorable death contrast strongly with Therese's outward reaction, though we later learn that she, too, is afraid. The difference? She boldly asserts her fear as a test of her faith, and continues to give herself to the God she no longer can see.
I see that some reviewers have been unnecessarily disturbed by the young nun who is so attached to Therese. This isn't a sick modern-day attempt to introduce'lesbianism' into the convent. It illustrates that one of the great difficulties religious must face is the inevitable temptation to form special attachment to another individual. Such special, individual love IS a problem for those trying to focus all love on an invisible God. Watch closely. You will see that Therese knows her fellow sister is troubled. Clear-sightedly, but lovingly, she refuses to participate in that exclusivity. The disturbing scene in which this sister eats sputum Therese has coughed up from her dying lungs is clearly based in the girl's attempt to emulate the actions of St. Catherine of Siena, who drank water used to wash a leper's skin. This action is 'perverse' only to those who do not understand it as an attempt to participate sacrificially in another's human suffering. Where the young sister is 'wrong' is that she would do such an action 'for Therese' but probably not for a stranger who is, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta would put it "Jesus in a distressing disguise." Therese herself costantly reveals less self-dramatizing sacrifices in her 'Story of a Soul.' To some, she appears extremely neurotic. To me, her 'craziness' appears the insanity conferred by divine love. Such madness for love of God will always look bizarre to non-participants.

1-0 out of 5 stars disgusted and appalled
I purchased the VHS version of this movie five years ago. I had difficulty watching this trash as it obviously pandered to every twisted, sick stereotype of Cloistered Catholic Nuns that I have ever heard of (lesbianism, S&M, etc...)! I was so thoroughly disgusted by this poor excuse for a movie that I threw in it the garbage, where it belongs, immediately after forcing myself to watch it in the vain hope that I could unearth at least a single redeeming quality in it. I could not. It is garbage. I only gave it one star because it is a required field. It does not deserve even one!

1-0 out of 5 stars Strange little movie
I love St. Therese and have read her autobiography, letters, and poems. Unfortunately, this movie does not do justice to Therese. At times, the movie is kind of creepy, paying undue attention to a lesbian nun in love with Therese. This nun is almost the co-star of the movie. It seems to me that the film maker is critical of Therese and the Carmelites. This is not a movie for children in particular, because it would only confuse them. Actually, it would probably confuse anyone. What a shame. The movie gets 1 star only because of good acting by the woman who plays Therese. The movie has other faults, but I'll not dwell on them because its really not worth it. ... Read more


149. The Lover
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
list price: $19.98
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Asin: B00005PJ6R
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 4391
Average Customer Review: 4.35 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (71)

5-0 out of 5 stars A sensuous, erotic and touching love story
"The Lover" is a gorgeously sensuous and erotic film about a young girl's awakening to love and her own sexuality. Whover categorized this movie as soft porn needs to wash his or her mind out with Lysol. It is, quite simply, a love story. Jane March plays "the young girl", a French adolescent in colonial Vietnam living with her widowed mother and two brothers. Her mother barely makes ends meet by teaching, her younger brother, with whom she has a relationship both protective and erotic, is weak and passive, and her older brother is brutally antisocial, stealing the family's few funds to support his opium habit and bullying his younger siblings through violence. The girl attends a lycee in Saigon where she and her friend are the only Caucasian pupils. On a trip from her home back to school she meets "the Chinaman" played by Tony Leung, and their encounter sets off sparks. Leung is the son of a rich overseas Chinese, engaged to marry the Chinese girl picked out by his father, who spends his own days in an opium haze; his feelings for the young girl are at first purely sexual but ripen into a love so deep it confuses and frightens him. It's a love that is doomed from the start; his father will not hear of him marrying a non-Chinese, and her family, although the equivalent of white trash, still considers themselves better than the Asians they live among. When the word of her affair with the Chinaman gets out, she becomes an outcast among her schoolmates. The young girl tries to cope with the social and emotional conflicts by convincing herself and telling him that she doesn't love him; he knows she's kidding herself and so do we, and toward the movie's end, when she has lost him forever through his marriage to the woman chosen for him by his father and her own repatriation to France, she herself realizes she is in love with him. Jane March is incredible in the role of the young girl; she brings out all her character's innocence, sexuality and adolescent confusion. Tony Leung is just right as the pampered son of a rich family who is hamstrung by the mores and traditions of his family and society; and Frederique Meininger is especially effective as the mother, who dotes on her worthless older son (the more venal she knows he is, the more she dotes on him, helpless to deal with the reality of what he is, and worse, what he will become), and condemns her daughter's relationship with a Chinese on the one hand while she has no problem taking her daughter's lover's money on the other. The cinematography is beautiful and conveys all the heat and languor of colonial Vietnam. This is no film for children; the sex scenes are as explicit as can be shown in any film not rated X. At the film's end (Jeanne Moreau does an excellent voice-over throughout the movie), when the Chinaman after decades of silence telephones the girl who is now a middle-aged woman and tells her he has never forgotten her and will love her until death, we realize how strong was the love between these two. It's a beautiful film of two people who were just right, even while they were all wrong, for each other.

4-0 out of 5 stars From Lust to Love
This is a physically beautiful film, set in an exotic locale (Vietnam) and inhabited by very attractive actors who know their trade. It starts as a lustful adventure for the wastrel son of a Chinese merchant and a bored teenage girl who finds her all-girls academy to be quite stifling. It ends as a true and tragic love story as the protagonists find that their sexual affair leads to real caring.

Many professional critics disliked this movie, but my wife and I both found it quite involving. This director (Jean-Jacques Annaud) also created "Quest For Fire", which I think met a similar fate among the critics. And again, both my wife and I found that very unusual film to be quite impressive.

I do hope that movie-lovers will give this one a chance. It was meant to be a film of quality, and in spite of its frank sexuality it is by no means to be considered soft-core pornography. It is perhaps in the same genre as "Sirens", a little Australian movie that combines a rather complete view of Elle MacPherson with a clever, well-photographed story.

Let me say that if you're looking for a good "date" movie, here's your answer. This is a love story that both sexes will enjoy. Warm up the DVD player, and lower the lights.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Lover - A Passionate Love Story
For those who think this movie is only carnal, I extend my deepest sympathies for your apparent ignorance. This is a romeo and juliet parallel not to be missed.

This is one of, if not the best, love story ever written. It tells of a young woman, barely 17, whose life is already a tragedy. Her family was thrown from wealth and good standing, to poverty and squalor, scraping by to make ends meet in French occupied Vietnam. She is all but shakespearean in her suffering, without the guidance of a father, and the love of a weak and unscrupulous mother and drug addicted brother. There is much tenderness in the cannonization of the youngest brother, as a living saint, the one pure thing in her life.

The lover, played by Tony Leung Kai Fai, is himself, a tragic hero. Educated in France, he longs to shirk the burden of his chinese culture, buck tradition and marry for love. He is consumed by the forced arranged marriage, and pursues the young Jane March with the guile of an experienced and wealthy man, but with the tenderness and respect of a true lover.

The two make an arrangement to meet in his bachelor pad, which according to chinese tradition, is a "practice area" for marriage. Jane March's young virgin surrenders to passion and experience, while remaining emotionally detatched from her chinese lover, for he tells her that they can "never be married" as it is "not allowed", and he would be disowned and poverty stricken if he went against the wishes of his family. Seemingly, Jane March's character cares little for the potential of this toxic relationship, revelling only in the sexual experience and conversation that they share in their secret room, away from the rest of the world. He is her escape, as surreal as the life she escapes from.

The scenes are intimate and touching, full of tenderness and imagery that conveys the worship like reverence with which they experience each other. He, worshiping her sexual innocence, while she worships his sexual experience. A powerful and erotic culmination.

Truly as story continues, you believe each of the characters less and less, as they joke about how they would not fit in to each others world. They do a wonderful job trying to convince each other that the affair means nothing. It becomes less believable, as you see them fall deeper and deeper into love, and examples of arguments where they truly hurt each other, in the way that only two people in love can wound.

A truly touching ending that had me in tears, as her ship pulls away from the harbour and he is there, in his car, watching her leave.

Highly recommend this movie as a measure to restore your faith in the very real power and strength of love, even when there is no "story book" ending.(...)

5-0 out of 5 stars Visually stunning, well-told story
I'll admit it, I first watched The Lover for the erotic scenes with Jane March, who I happen to think is gorgeous. But the more I watched it, the more the direction (Annaud) and the story (Duras) shone through. I recently bought my own copy, and I watch it more frequently than I would have thought. If it were only the sex, there are more efficient films, although the sex is quite good and again Jane March is truly a hottie.

The story, which is based on Duras' own life, talks about a young girl living at school, a 1-day trip away from her dissociative family in French Indochina in the 1930s. One day, returning to school from a visit with her family, the 15 year-old meets a Chinese man, who offers her a ride. They begin an affair, based on her curiosity and his desire for love. Needless to say, this causes scandals on both sides of the relationship. As their intimacy deepens, the Chinese man's arranged marriage looms closer, until he has to leave her for his new wife. Shortly after, the French girl and her family leave for France. As we see, the relationship was stronger than either one suspected it had become, but by that point it's too late.

The physical beauty of the film, which owes much to both Annaud's direction and the Vietnamese countryside, is amazing. I find myself watching it over and over just to see the cars driving through incongruous fields, bridges and streets. The subtext of foreigners (French, Chinese) in a foreign land (Indochina) governed by foreigners (French) reinforces the story's quality of isolation, as do the locales: there are rarely more than a handful of people in any scene, and the exceptions are telling, as well.

This is definitely one of the best films of the decade and deserves to be seen over and over.

5-0 out of 5 stars Diffrentiating Between Sex and Love
This movie has one thinking what sex and love is. Can sex and love go hand in hand? That is the question of what the movie brought to my attention. I saw this movie on an independent film channel and the character, a young girl, has an affair with an older Chinese man. Her family struggles financially. The mother is a widowed schoolteacher and her brothers are obnoxious and want to get into her personal life. She does introduce her lover to her family and he does treat them to dinner. However, what was puzzling was their relationship. Did they actually have real feelings toward one another? He was arranged to be married and there would have never been anything more between them.
This movie diffrentiates between sex and love. Is it possible to have a sex only relationship? If so, how can it last? Do emotional feelings get in the way of their relationship?
Duras was experimenting sex for the first time. It was an experience that she would carry through her adult life. ... Read more


150. House of Flying Daggers/Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Director: Yimou Zhang
list price: $36.96
our price: $25.88
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Asin: B0007Q6VXM
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 1859
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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No one uses color like Chinese director Zhang Yimou--movies like Raise the Red Lantern or Hero, though different in tone and subject matter, are drenched in rich, luscious shades of red, blue, yellow, and green. House of Flying Daggers is no exception; if they weren't choreographed with such vigorous imagination, the spectacular action sequences would seem little more than an excuse for vivid hues rippling across the screen. Government officers Leo and Jin (Asian superstars Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro) set out to destroy an underground rebellion called the House of Flying Daggers (named for their weapon of choice, a curved blade that swoops through the air like a boomerang). Their only chance to find the rebels is a blind women named Mei (Ziyi Zhang, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) who has some lethal kung fu moves of her own. In the guise of an aspiring rebel, Jin escorts Mei through gorgeous forests and fields that become bloody battlegrounds as soldiers try to kill them both. While arrows and spears of bamboo fly through the air, Mei, Jin, and Leo turn against each other in surprising ways, driven by passion and honor. Zhang's previous action/art film, Hero, sometimes sacrificed momentum for sheer visual beauty; House of Flying Daggers finds a more muscular balance of aesthetic splendor and dazzling swordplay. --Bret Fetzer ... Read more

Reviews (153)

1-0 out of 5 stars DO NOT buy this crap!
OK! Who the hell gave this movie 4 stars??!! Poor story, poor dialog, poor EVERYTHING!!! This movie sucked. Get stabbed by a dagger and the girl stays alive until the unnecessary long fight between two bad actors is over??!! Come on! This movie is worse than the Hindi crap that comes out of Bollywood. Wish I could give it zero stars, but I can't. Amazon, will you please see that movies of this low quality get zero stars?

4-0 out of 5 stars Technically breathtaking, but left this viewer a little cold
Zhang Yimou's HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS continues where the director's HERO left off: it is a film of immense visual beauty and amazing choreography, supporting a plot with melodramatic elements to it. But whereas HERO could conceivably, amidst the dazzling imagistic pageantry and big emotions, be interpreted as a political statement (the film ends with a ruler having to sacrifice a hero for what he considers the greater cause of unifying feudal China), HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is content to be romantic melodrama, plain and simple.

Personally, I kinda prefer the extra intellectual and thematic stimulation offered by HERO. At the end of that film, you really had something to think about; at the end of HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS...well, the story is over (and a song sung in English by soprano Kathleen Battle plays over the closing credits). Nothing of great consequence, I felt, had really happened in this film; it is basically one ravishing image and one amazing fight sequence following another, interspersed with (admittedly well-acted) moments of intimacy or high drama. If Zhang Yimou was aiming for thematic subtlety in HERO, here he goes for operatic emotions and visual spectacle. And for all its technical brilliance, the whole thing ultimately left me a little cold---maybe a bit too melodramatic and soapy for my taste.

That is a very personal reaction, of course. The technical brilliance Zhang Yimou brings to HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is not to be denied; these are some of the most breathtaking (and breathtakingly filmed) fight sequences seen since the last notable "wuxia" film, Ang Lee's CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. And the actors bring as much conviction as possible to their basically two-dimensional characters: certainly, as House of Flying Daggers member Mei, Ziyi Zhang brings convincing passion to her role, as do Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau as, respectively Jin and Leo, two police deputies who rescue Mei from prison and try to trick her into bringing them to the House of Flying Daggers to stop their rebelliousness once and for all.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is to look at it as a cinematic opera. Zhang Yimou is clearly not afraid to work on a big canvas, and he brings all the big emotions and spectacular sights he can to tell his melodramatic story. Those who go into this film expecting to be dazzled will most likely be satisfied; it is a genuine technical marvel. For me, though, I was expecting more substance to the film than it delivered. HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS may be more purely enjoyable than HERO, but the latter, to me, is a much more interesting movie than this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Super Cool Movie!!!
The action and special effects sequences in this movie are incredibly fun to watch.Zhang Ziyi is flawless as usual, and her perfomance and beauty justifies buying this DVD in itself.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great cinematography, weak story
Genre: Foreign, Martial Arts, Romance

Genre Grade: B+

Final Grade: A-

This was another great film from Chinese director Yimou Zhang. Although not even close to comparing to his last film, Hero, it still was a great movie. Zhang is an artist, it is as simple as that. His locations are perfect, the colors are vibrant, and the characters are passionate. This is much more a love story than anything. It offers some good surprises concerning the characters and keeps the mystery of the "House of Flying Daggers" a secret to even the viewers. Actress Ziyi Zhang should learn to speak English because she could be a huge star in the United States.

I recommend this film to anyone who enjoyed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero. It is dubbed in English so you don't have to read subtitles if you don't want to.

5-0 out of 5 stars stunning
Yimou is a true artist of cinema. Hero and House of Flying Daggers are beautiful and spiritual adventures in Asian cinema. Both films are remarkable acheivments that are lost on the reviewer who gave this film one star. True art is often missunderstood by the masses. ... Read more


151. Babette's Feast
Director: Gabriel Axel
list price: $14.95
our price: $11.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000053VBK
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 810
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Some movies can only be described as delicious. In Babette's Feast,a woman flees the French civil war and lands in a small seacoast villagein Denmark, where she comes to work for two spinsters, devout daughters ofa puritan minister.After many years, Babette unexpectedly wins alottery, and decides to create a real French dinner--which leads thesisters to fear for their souls. Joining them for the meal will be aDanish general who, as a young soldier, courted one of the sisters, butshe turned him away because of her religion. The village elders allresolve not to enjoy the meal, but can their moral fiber resist thesensual pleasure of Babette's cooking? Babette's Feast deservedlywon the 1987 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. This lovelymovie is impeccably simple, yet its slender narrative contains a wealth ofhumor, melancholy, and hope. --Bret Fetzer ... Read more

Reviews (81)

5-0 out of 5 stars 5-Star Meal, 5-Star Cinema
The feast of the title doesn't take place until well into the film. In fact, the majority of the film is spent telling the story of 2 godly sisters and the choices they made in life. Both sisters passed up true love and the promise of success in order to remain faithful to their religious beliefs. Instead they pass their lives assisting their minister father and carry on his work after his death. They continue their quiet lives past mid-life until one of the sisters' former suitors sends them a Parisian refugee, Babette. Babette spends 14 years with the sisters as cook, her only link to her former life being a lottery ticket that a friend in Paris renews for her every year. One day she wins the lottery and decides to use the money to prepare a sumptous dinner for the sisters and their small congregation. More than just an epicurean delight the feast is an outpouring of Babette's gratitude.

If the plot sounds thin, be assured it's anything but. The story is as rich and satisfying as the feast Babette prepares. We see the delicate romances that develop for each sister and understand their reasons for turning their suitors away. We see the lives the sisters, and their men, have led after making their decision. The feast comes at a time when the sisters are asking themselves questions that they never voice: Did they make the right decision all those years ago? Was it worth it? Reassurance comes in an unexpected and exquisitely romanitc way.

This film is such a wonderful example of what happens when filmmakers are interested in telling a good story and telling it well. It doesn't follow a 'formula' or cater to a demographic and is a perfect example of why independent and foreign films are so much more satisfying than Hollywood movies.

5-0 out of 5 stars Splendid Film Can Leave You Ravenous!
My friend Susan and I wanted to see this film when it premiered at the Cleveland International Film Festival. However, we both kept reading that everyone left the film absolutely ravenous for food after visually feasting upon sublime course after course for 2 hours. Thus, when we saw that an excellent French restaurant would serve us the entire meal just prior to our seeing the film, we decided to go for it. The food was absolutely out of this world and we showed up for the film well stuffed. We were thus able to really enjoy the quiet pleasures of the film where Babette, taken in by two elderly sisters in a small village when in dire need, shows her gratitude and love for them by preparing this feast when she wins the lottery. We, of course, learn everything we need to know about the lives of the sisters and Babette as the feast progresses. This film deservedly won the foreign film Oscar. For those who complain that foreign films are too depressing with bleak endings, you will find this a powerful life-affirming film and contrary to any bleak expectations regarding foreign filmmaking.

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful story of spiritual love
This is truly a spiritually uplifting film. The woman, Babette, becomes maid and cook for two older women in a Danish village. By the time she comes into the tale, you know the story of the two women. She becomes one of the family, and then a miracle happens and she wins the lottery. Her thought then is to cook a feast in honor of their deceased minister father, a feast which these people have never dreamed of, something completely different from the plain simple cooking they're used to.

There is much more than that in the film. The two women are such that it seems sinful to have a lavish gourmet dinner. The feast sequence is a long, lovingly developed treat for the eyes. And of course, we realize that Babette is up to a bit more than just providing a sumptious feast.

Underneath, the film is telling of a joyous spirit who responds to good fortune by using it to show her love, to do something that will actually endure long after the food is gone.

Much has been said by others about this film, so I content myself with pointing out the deep spiritual feel here, the contrast of the love that Babette shows with the piety of the village, and the example she is of the love for others and for life.

This is a film not just to see, but to experience. And you will find it a glorious experience.

5-0 out of 5 stars An eternal celebration to the friendship!
Babette is a film which inspires you to to be a better person. It's a splendid story about the last possibilities of a lonely human being as Stephane Audran is capable to do in a community.
The multiple readings you can make are countless ; the camera is a silent witeness to show us the unforgettable dinner in what Audran makes a tour de force acting. We had to expect thirteen years for finding out a similar film in its meaning: Amelie in 2001.
The question is not if you must to acquire this movie ; but how can you live without this one?
One of the ten movies from the eighties : A timeless gift from Dennmark to the whole world.

5-0 out of 5 stars Do yourself a favor and watch this movie - then share it.
I don't know about you, but I LOVE to have experiences that just fill me with joy. Even better, if it's an experience that is easily shared, I like sharing it with my friends and loved ones. This film is one of those experiences. This DVD is an excellent transfer and you can just SMELL the feast that Babette is cooking up in the centerpiece of the story. But the story isn't about the feast any more than "Casablanca" is about a city in Morocco. The story is about sacrifice and friendship and honor. Many characters in this film make difficult choices during their lives, and although you don't necessarily see regret over and over, you can plainly see silent reflective thoughts about "what might have been".

If movies are shown in heaven, I would guess that the group of angels gathered in front of the current showing of "Babette's Feast" is a large one. ... Read more


152. Vanity Fair
Director: Marc Munden
list price: $39.95
our price: $31.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000089QEN
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 5653
Average Customer Review: 3.54 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (26)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent adaptation of Thackeray masterpiece
Thackeray's "Vanity Fair" is such a sprawling, grand example of the Victorian novel that any mere two-hour movie adaptation will be forced to leave out crucial elements. As it is, this six-hour BBC film version emits certain items (Jos Sedley's ultimate fate, the James Crawley episode), but is remarkably faithful to its source. Indeed, a television mini-series is the best way to adapt such a work, allowing the story to unfold and the viewer to become involved with the various characters.

This production is fantastic, with beautiful costumes, excellent performances, and a fine script. Chief among its attractions is Natasha Little in the key role of Becky Sharp. Miss Little is not only luminously beautiful, but manages to arouse our sympathies toward a virtually unsympathetic character. Special mention must also go to Jeremy Swift, whose portrayal of bumbling Jos Sedley is a delight. Miriam Margolyes (always wonderful) and Eleanor Bron appear in secondary roles. The rest of the cast is well-chosen and all play their parts with conviction.

The greatest hurdle a filmed version of "Vanity Fair" faces is how to convey the many shifts of tone which Thackeray goes through in the novel. This problem has been solved by use of an unusual score, which draws from such diverse sources as military marching bands, Strauss waltzes (wrong for the period but who cares?), and a bit of Kurt Weill. Murray Gold's score never lets us forget that we are in the world of Thackeray's biting satire, and not Jane Austen's more delicate world of comedy-of-manners.

All told, it will take a long time before this film treatment is bettered.

3-0 out of 5 stars Fell short of expectations
This was a much touted mini-series which I missed on TV and have now watched on DVD. I had high expectations. They were not realized, but by no means can one say that the show is a failure or even a waste of time. No urge to fast-forward here....

Yet..... there is a flatness about the whole production that keeps the emotions, the humor, at arms length. Becky Sharp remains the same, looks the same, inflects the same from beginning to end. The direction reveals no development, no nuance..... certainly charming rapaciousness is more varied than we are shown here. The script is not particularly memorable.

BBC production values are top-notch except in the repeated use of extreme closeups to mask a penny-pinching budget..... the Belgium battle segments are particularly cheesy...... but overall, things are shot handsomely, and some visual commentary is downright witty e.g., pigs crossing the frame as we approach the Crawley manor. The music score, hilarious and anachronistic, is rather refreshing.

This is nowhere as exhilarating a show as the BBC's Pride and Prejudice. Which leads me to the odd realization that perhaps the better writer for Vanity Fair would have been Balzac. Now.... why doesn't somebody do something with his stuff..... Lost Illusions, for example. There we have meatier stuff.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thackeray's masterpiece brought to life!
It begins on an innocuous afternoon at the Pinkerton school for young ladies, where Miss Becky Sharp (played by Natasha Little, whose father was a drunken drawing master) is finishing up her last day as French tutor to the girls. She is going to stay with her friend, Amelia Sedley (a stock-broker's daughter, played by Frances Grey) for a short time, until she must leave to take up a post as a governess. Becky carelessly proclaims her goodbye to her students and "waltzes" out of the classroom, shortly to join Amelia in Miss Barbara Pinkerton's office. Miss Pinkerton reads aloud a glowing letter of praise about Amelia to her sister Jemima, just before they are joined by Amelia and Becky; she then presents "my dear Amelia" with Johnson's dictionary to "remind her of her time there." Miss Pinkerton (who has never liked Becky) then continues severely, "Miss Sharp, I bid you good day. I make no presentation; you've shown yourself incapable of gratitude," to which Becky replies tartly, "I beg your pardon. I taught a little French here and you paid me a pittance for it. No occasion for gratitude on either side, I should say." She flounces outside and into the waiting carriage, where she and Amelia journey to the Sedley home in London.

Amelia Sedley (Emmy to friends), a sweet and innocent young lady, trusts that her friend Becky is as honest and true as she herself is; but it is just not so. Becky is envious of her friend Amelia's good fortune and privileges, and does everything she can to attain those things for herself. She pursues love in the least likeliest places (going after men she could not possibly be interested in), hoping to eventually catapult herself into the upper crust of society; Becky manipulates man after man, using them for what they can give her, while Amelia Sedley, who is trusting and kind, sadly begins to experience misfortune at the hand of both fate and society.

All in all, this six-part mini-series from A&E was a great watch, if you can get past a small bit of questionable content and mild language. I'm looking forward to the new version done this year with Reese Witherspoon and Romola Garai!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Becky, Andrew and William
Andrew Davies is a very clever man with, I suspect, quite a tender heart. I don't know how he draws out these old novels for us the way he does, but he's done it again here. I have to admit, the first time I saw this production, I liked it, but was left a little cold. The second time I saw it, I knew it was just me, and that it takes a viewer accustomed to mediocrity some time to readjust to this kind of brilliance. The costumes and sets, in the hot Oriental colours of the real Regency instead of the too often misrendered pastels of the earlier Georgians, are well done and the acting and casting are great. Davies, cleverly, put some of the wry observations of the narrative passages into the mouths of the characters. "I must say, Dr. Hume, if a man's character is to be abused, there's nobody like a relation to do the business." David Bradley is old Sir Pitt is himself, in fact, the whole Queen's Crawley contingent will make you both laugh and squirm, just like they're supposed to. Janine Duvitski as marvelous as the ghastly, grasping Mrs. Bute Crawley. Natasha Little is luminously beautiful as Becky Sharp, her careless curls at unsettling contrast with her little smirk. Amelia Sedley is so wet you could ring her out (Thackeray predicted my criticism of her character, by the way) but Frances Grey plays her so well you admire her, as you do all of them, for just being the flawed creatures they are.

You will find the inhabitants of this fair very much alive and not at all like puppets, as Thackeray disingenuously tells you they are all through his book. The visuals well support the spirit of the production. There is one scene of Dobbin and Osbourne conversing outside their barracks, and the camera then raises into an extreme high shot that makes them look exactly like toy soldiers or pictures on a chocolate box. It's the shot often used to film a football game or the square formations of the old battlefields, so we are reminded that what became almost quaint in the ensuing two hundred years was once very real. The battlefield scenes are up close and personal, noisy and ugly, from the grim patience of the Dobbins and Osbournes, the foot soldiers who carried the terrible day of the Battle of Waterloo, to the hard breathing and slamming together of metal and flesh as the cavalry engages.

The score has disturbed some people, but it's as brilliant as the adaptation and delivers the feel of the period directly. It's hard to say why it works, but there's no question that it does, and anachronism only serves as a friend, here. Like Becky's wonderful, new remarks, which I'm sure she really made, "Baisez mon cul." and "I'm sorry I'm laughing, your ladyship, but I just can't help it." When I actually saw the band at Vauxhall Gardens, they provided me my bearings, like finding a "You Are Here" on a map. The songs are placed perfectly. When Becky's entertaining at home, her occasional flat notes don't seem to be noticed by the men in her thrall, and Becky similiarly winning over the gyneocracy with her "Dido's Lament" (sans the flat notes) at the Steyne House soiree is not to be missed.

The story itself, whatever it's about, whether it's just a puppet show or one of the most profound, tender observations of human life ever put to paper, is delivered faithfully, without sentiment, but with more of the buried tenderness of the author than he would ever own up to. The ending, where these inhabitants of Vanity Fair learn to recover from glamorous war and get on with the business of becoming unexciting Victorians, and where a mysterious bad girl is saved by the intervention of a cheeky, innocent little boy is delivered in this production in all its beauty. But never mind that. As it was not about pastel interiors, the real Regency was not about sentimentality. Somebody said that all authors are in love with their childhood. Even though this was the work of a Victorian, born in 1811, and even if he did not properly approve of her, I think Thackeray was in love with his wicked, plucky little heroine, as he was in love with the period in which she flourished. Perhaps he is the curious little boy walking up the casino steps into the past and into that strange world of what appear to be grown-up people with their masks and secrets. When he gets there, he finds this particular grownup needs him. In fact, it's almost as if she's waiting for him to let him know she is not so strong on her own, and to remember her and to please be sure to write about her. We certainly need Andrew Davies and his adaptations. See what you think of this one. You won't be disappointed, and if you are, watch it again.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable Production of a Literary Classic
I have read "Vanity Fair" twice and intend to re-read this coming year. I remember seeing a BBC version with Susan Hampshire in the role of Becky Sharp back in the 1970s, as well as the 1930s Hollywood version with Mariam Hopkins on late-night television when I was a teenager. Now I understand that there is to be another Hollywood version, with Reese Witherspoon, of all the odd choices, to play Becky. Natasha Little is, in my opinion, an outstanding Becky Sharp, surpassing both Hampshire and Hopkins in the role. I cannot feature the vastly overrated Ms Witherspoon being able to give as subtle and natural a performance as Ms Little does in this A&E production. Ms Little is at once appealing and a monster, a woman "on the make"; in one very funny, and creepy, bit she is forced to turn down a marriage proposal from the coarse Sir Pitt Crawley, because she is already married to his dashing son. When Pitt Crawley leaves the room, it becomes clear that Becky would have married the vulgar old man for the security he offered had she been free.

The rest of the cast was very good, particularly the actors portraying Amelia, George, Rawdon, and Dobbin. There has been some criticism of the appearance of the actors, that they were too plain or even downright unattractive for the roles. One of the differences between British and American productions (particularly those made for televsion) is that in British productions the performers are more often selected for their talent than their appearance. Sometimes this backfires, as in the case of the remake of "The Forsyte Saga," when many viewers complained about Geena McKee being too plain for the role of Irene Forsyte, who was supposed to be a great beauty. In the case of "Vanity Fair" I feel that the actors were just right for their roles in every way, including appearance. Becky's attraction was her spirit as much as her face, and Amelia's sweetness was the inspiration for the love and admiration she received from men.

My one criticism of the film was the loud background music. It was supposed to suggest a carnival or fair, but it was so blasted loud that at times it drowned out the performers. Although this was not as constant as one reviewer indicated, it did happen often enough to be annoying. If you like Thackeray, I think you will be pleased with this version of his masterpiece. ... Read more


153. Beautiful Thing
Director: Hettie MacDonald
list price: $29.95
our price: $23.96
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Asin: B00008UALE
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 3400
Average Customer Review: 4.49 out of 5 stars
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Description

A pair of teenage boys growing up in a working-classneighborhood become aware of their homosexuality. While both werevaguely aware they might be gay, neither had ever acted on theirimpulses. Once they decide that they're attracted to each other, neitheris sure just what to do. Winner of 4 International Film Festival Awards. ... Read more

Reviews (261)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sweet & poignant coming of age (and out) story
An emotionally tender & wonderful coming of age film, "Beautiful Thing" is an essential addition to your "alternative" movie section.

The story centers around Jamie (Berry) and Ste (Neal), 2 teenage classmates and neighbors in a working-class development in London. Jamie is a reserved teen sharing a normal relationship with his single, pub manager Mom (Henry). Ste lives an emotionally and physically abused life at the hands of his single father and older brother. What transpires between them is a very tender and emotional tale of first love and budding homosexuality. Awakening sexual desire, guilt, fear and, eventually, love is played out in an honest & sincere fashion.

The entire cast is superb. As Jamie & Ste, Glen Berry & Scott Neal give their characters a sweet and emotionally accurate innocence... especially when joyously galavanting through a forest together and sharing a long kiss. Linda Henry is exquisite as Jamie's Mom, Sandra. She delivers a fantastic and multi-layered performance as a woman trying to deal with her own life, in addition to her son. As the Mamas & the Papas loving neighbor Leah, Tameka Empson graciously adds some needed turbulence (comically and otherwise).

The script is heartfelt, comical (some moments between Sandra & Leah are a bitingly hilarious), and fresh. Definitely a wonderful comedy-drama and, perhaps, the best coming out film of the decade.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss It!
BT is one terrific movie -- and one of those surprises you could have almost missed, but are eternally grateful that you didn't! It's an honest, fun, sensitive and uplifting story about growing up, about loving, and about raw courage -- without any of the political agenda or overwrought angst found in other films of a similar genre. Linda Henry and Glen Berry give first-rate performances as Sandra and Jamie, a British working-class mother and teen-age son struggling with the usual stuff of which such relationships are made, while Jamie is simultaneously discovering the depth and beauty of his sexuality, and the love that he feels for his neighbor and mate, Ste (Scott Neal). Far from being another cliche-filled coming-out story (though coming out is a major theme), Beautiful Thing is most authentically a love story -- and a damned good and happy one at that! (though weeping is certainly allowed, encouraged, and unavoidable in certain key scenes). But it's not just about the love that Jamie and Ste share; in a way that is inseparable from the main story line, it's about the powerful and life-giving love that Jamie and his mum feel for each other. The movie is full of hope and joy -- and will fill you with those same feelings. Indeed, it sticks to your gut and stays deep down inside long after you have first seen it.

The downside of this film is that its "R" rating (certainly not for sex -- it's gotta be for the rough language) deprives a whole group of young people from experiencing a film that could bring so much goodness to their lives. Every teenager, gay and straight, ought to see this movie. It cuts through all the stereotypes and shows just how beautiful the love between two regular guys can be. Their story is so moving that one would have to be pretty cold and hard not to root for the triumph of Jamie and Ste's love. Indeed, making it a required part of the high school curriculum would go a long way in freeing young people from fear and prejudice, and would do much to help them become more loving and accepting people. What an inspiration and beacon of hope it could be for young gay people looking for a way to love and a reason to hope!

You will be glad and grateful for seeing this movie. In fact, I guarantee that you will not be able to see it just once -- you will want to see it again and again. And that's why you will want to buy it! That's what I did!

5-0 out of 5 stars Falling In Love
Falling in love, having someoneto love, someone who loves you.It just doesn't GET any betterthan this. A special treasure.

5-0 out of 5 stars Truly Beautiful
I can't count the number of times I've read a magazine article about this movie, how many times I'd scoured the movie rental places for it in high school, how many times I'd almost bought it online... but never did get my hands on it until recently. It may be hard to find, but it is well worth the search. This is the best coming-of-age movie I've seen --I connected with it and each of the characters on more than one level-- and I was delighted to find that the usual stereotypes are no where to be found in this movie. And on top of that, no sex scenes or anything else you might not want to show your mother.

The story has been summarized in many of the other 250 or so reviews, so I won't do that here. But I will urge you to get this movie and watch it -- it will touch you and be beneficial whether you are just coming to terms with being gay, if you're out and completely fine with yourself, or if your kid or friend has just come out to you. Even if you don't know many gay people, watch this movie and see what you think. It deserves all the awards, recognition, and reputation that is has. I only wish I had seen it sooner (and that other people had seen this before I had to come out to them!).

This is a British film, so expect more rough language than you'd see if it had been made in the U.S... I'd also recommend using the Closed Caption to keep from getting a bit confused from the language differences (for instance, I thought Ste had said he was Naked when it made no sense ... ends up he had said Knackered... sleepy I guess LOL).

Whether you rent it or buy it, find some way to see this movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must See and A Must Have
This film deserves six stars. It is more than a story about two men falling in love. It is just a wonderful love story. It is very sincere without being sickening and very sensual without being overtly provocative.

Buy two. One for yourself and one for someone you care about. ... Read more


154. Breathless
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
list price: $24.98
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Asin: B00005NC66
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 2397
Average Customer Review: 4.22 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (40)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining and Clever Landmark
Breathless, or A Bout de Souffle, is arguably one of the ten most important films of the last fifty years because it demonstrates a new, and eye-popping editing style that has now become common-place among Indie and European cinema.

Francois Truffaut, who is responsible for the script, once said all that you needed to make a movie was 'a girl and a gun.' Breathless appears to be Truffaut putting his theory into action, but there's a little more going on than that suggests.

It is a film that transports classic era Hollywood to the Paris of the late 50's. Jean-Paul Belmondo's character is obsessed with Humphrey Bogart. He is also on the run from the police, and off to visit his girl, Jean Seberg in Paris.

So far, so blah. But what director Godard does with this simple 40's noir plotline is to treat it in a way that feels intuitively wrong. He promotes the relationship between Belmondo and Seberg to centre stage and leaves the man-on-the-run-from-the-police story as a virtual subplot. To this end there is a lengthy scene of the couple talking in a bedroom - it must last twelve minutes. You practically forget that there's a Hollywood B-movie plot somewhere in the background.

It is testament to the performances, and particularly to Truffaut's script that you really don't mind. You just sort of get carried along by the thing.

It's important not only because it's dead, dead good and genuinely entertaining rather than just clever for the sake of it, but also because it plays so loose with genre and structure, it gave subsequent directors the right to experiment as well. No Breathless, no Pulp Fiction - despite Tarantino's claim to prefer the (much inferior) American remake with Richard Gere.

Jean-Luc Godard subsequently disowned the movie, considering it to be far too conventional. Perhaps he also disliked Truffaut's humanism, which shines through as it does in everything he was involved in.

Godard went on to make more challengingly, more confrontational pictures but never really recaptured the youthful exuberance of Breathless.

Think of a movie like Citizen Kane. If you've seen Kane you'll recall that the viewer feels Welles's joyful iconaclysm, even sixty years or so on. Same deal with Breathless. Even though the jump cut and gleeful genre-bending have both become standard you can still feel the exhiliration from everyone concerned in doing something genuinely new.

A must own.

5-0 out of 5 stars Yes, the film is important, but it's also a lot of fun.
"Breathless," Jean-Luc Godard's tribute to moviemaking itself and one of the seminal titles of the French New Wave, is, jump-cuts and all, a film that changed the way movies were made. It introduced audiences and critics alike to new voices in the cinema, to a newer and cheaper guerrilla-style film made on location and to the sort of movie aware of the fact that it was just a movie.

That said, though, this movie is a lot of just pure fun. In the leads, Jean-Paul Belmondo and the absolutely gorgeous Jean Seberg seem to inject their portrayals of young thief-and-killer Michel Poiccard and his indecisive American girlfriend Patricia with a sense of humor and joy. The couple they portray are given moments where they're not really pushing the action forward, where they're reveling in what it feels like to be young and in lust, if not love. The scenes where they're lying in bed just talking or riding together in a car and talking about Paris are perhaps the most delightful aspect of the film.

Even though the character of Michel is almost certainly doomed from the moment he steals a car and guns down a police officer, he has a lot of fun with his last days, wandering the streets, stealing from friends and trying to get Patricia to sleep with him. Patricia, likewise, is given moments of joy, despite worrying about her pregnancy and job, wondering if she should betray the man she loves to the police or run away with him to Rome.

That spirit, in addition to its technical wizardry and the passion of its makers, is what made the film different in 1960, and it's the spirit behind it that just makes "Breathless" fun Sunday-afternoon viewing now.

4-0 out of 5 stars The first of the New Wave, but not the best...
All right - Breathless is an important film and I can see why. This is the film that gave birth to the French New Wave. Before this, films look like they were shot in a studio. This film made the gritty look of seventies filmmaking - and indeed, today's independent filmmaking - possible. This film has a guerrilla feel to it, which makes it seem very modern. Goddard films on actual locations with handheld cameras. The most obvious innovation is the deliberate use of "jump cuts", which goes against the traditional theory of "invisible edits." The story itself (by Francois Truffaut) is innovative - it foreshadows Quentin Tarantino with its non-moralistic account of a cold-blooded, Bogart-worshipping killer (wonderfully played by Jean-Paul Belmondo) and his crazy/beautiful American girlfriend.

That having been said, the style of this film is really what is important. Looked at today, when its innovations have been absorbed into mainstream film, TV, and commercials, some of the flaws are more apparent. Especially towards the end of the film, when the story gets wackier and the style gets over-the-top, it became hard to restrain my Mystery Science Theater comments. That is the problem with being the first in anything - you go too far and you date yourself. Although Goddard started the Nouvelle Vague, I think that Truffaut - as evidenced by his script here - is the more important artist. This is the film that paves the way for better films like The 400 Blows. However, Breathless is still a good film and a must for any serious student of cinema. Although there are few extras on this DVD, the film looks great. For all its flaws, Breathless still has an air of authenticity that few films today can dream of.

1-0 out of 5 stars Slow moving crap
This movie is full of a bunch of slow moving character developments. There's a bunch of long dialogues between men and women that are very drab and superficial. People tell me to watch this film for the amazing jump cut edits...well I did and big deal. Let's face it this guy is no Scorcese when it comes to doing innovative stuff with the camera, writing compelling scripts, and getting a likable cast up on the screen. Personally I think this guy just writes films for film school types and completely ignore us the audience.

2-0 out of 5 stars Of Historical Interest Only?
The reaction of someone who is not a film historian:

This is obviously not intended as a work of surrealism or Dada. Godard has a story to tell, and two characters to introduce to us. I suggest that the film techniques be measured by whether they contribute to these goals. The use of handheld camera, long shots, candid shots of Paris do. They give the film a sense of energy and reality, and have perhaps been adopted by others because of this. The "jump cuts" (which I take to mean the abrupt cuts in the middle of scenes, with no attempt to maintain continuity) do not. They are distracting and remind you, with a jolt, and indeed never permit you to forget, that you are watching a film. This is not like noticing that a great painting is made up of the artist's individual brushstrokes; more like brushstrokes that keep you from seeing the overall picture. It just comes off as amateurish, and interfers with plot and character development.

Seborg didn't seem to me to work in this role. I think Godard means to tell us that she is not vulnerable but in fact the same sort of animal as Belmondo, but the toughness was not persuasive (esp. the obvious self consciousness of the closing shot). If this is not what was meant, then she failed to communicate to this viewer what exactly it was that motivated her character. Does that mean she is "deep"? ... Read more


155. Hard Boiled
Director: John Woo
list price: $29.98
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Asin: B00004W458
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 7412
Average Customer Review: 4.58 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com essential video

Masterful Hong Kong action director John Woo (The Killer, Face/Off) turns in this exciting and pyrotechnic tale of warring gangsters and shifting loyalties. Chow Yun-fat (The Replacement Killers) plays a take-no-prisoners cop on the trail of the triad, the Hong Kong Mafia, when his partner is killed during a gun battle. His guilt propels him into an all-out war against the gang, including an up-and-coming soldier in the mob (Tony Leung) who turns out to be an undercover cop. The two men must come to terms with their allegiance to the force and their loyalty to each other as they try to take down the gangsters. A stunning feast of hyperbolic action sequences (including a climactic sequence in an entire hospital taken hostage), Hard-Boiled is a rare treat for fans of the action genre, with sequences as thrilling and intense as any ever committed to film. --Robert Lane ... Read more

Reviews (125)

4-0 out of 5 stars Superior action sequences; inferior structure.
Though one of director John Woo's cult favourites, Hard Boiled actually ranks on my list as his worst post-1986 Hong Kong film, even after the farcical Once a Thief.

Overlength is Hard Boiled's chief weakness. After spending over an hour in that hospital with flames all around and innumberable men in suits getting shot, it starts to get tiring. Chow Yun-fat is impeccable in the lead and Tony Leung Chiu-wai is excellent, though versatile actress Teresa Mo is wasted in a skin-deep supporting role.

The biggest thing to commend on this video release, however, is the dubbing. I speak both Cantonese and English, personally, and I can tell American viewers that the dubbed script is even better than the original, which sounded stilted (Philip Chan Yan-kin's lines were especially forced in the original). The dubbed voices were acting, not just translating (as in dubbed Jackie Chan movies such as the U.S. release Operation Condor, for example). This was one marvelous dubbing job, and a rare instance in which I would almost prefer the dubbed version to the subtitled. Kudos to Orion for doing the movie justice.

4-0 out of 5 stars Woo's "other" classic
While not quite as tightly plotted or emotionally compelling as John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat's magnum opus "The Killer," "Hard Boiled" is still sure to please fans of that movie. Much of what made "The Killer" such a great film is to be found here: flawed heroes, murky allegiances, and ambiguous morals are once again the order of the day in this tale of cops and criminals living on the edge. At the same time, "Hard Boiled" manages to ratchet up the violence even further from its "sister" film, resulting in the most prolonged and intense action scenes I've ever witnessed, all filmed in Woo's signature frenetic style. A tea house, a warehouse, and ultimately a hospital all become battlegrounds in all-out war as the cops face an enemy that makes the Mafia look like a group of middle-school bullies.

Once again, Chow takes the lead in the protagonist's role, this time portraying relentless Hong Kong inspector "Tequila" Yuen. In true Woo-hero fashion, Tequila can shelter a baby with one arm while shooting up a small army of bad guys with the other. Joining him in his fight against the triads is Tony (Tony Leung) an undercover cop who's spent so much time working among gangsters that the line between the right side of the law and the wrong one is becoming blurred. However, Tony looks like a choirboy compared to the cartoonishly villanous Johnny Wong, an up-and-coming Triad boss who would probably kill his own mother if she got in his way. Johnny also has himself an extremely menacing sidekick in the form of a glowering, nameless enforcer who spends much of the film with a patch on one eye and still manages to give Tequila and Tony a few runs for their money.

It all comes to a head in the climactic showdown in the hospital-turned-arsenal, with the scene gradually evolving from tense standoff to full-scale shootout as the lives of hundreds of hostages hang in the balance. As most of Hong Kong's police force provides support, the two detectives lead the way against Johnny, his cycloptic colleague, and dozens of other gun-wielding menaces. And did I mention they have to make sure no harm comes to the adorable newborn babies in the nearby maternity ward? Yeah, Tony and Tequila sure have their work cut out for them as they fly through the air and unleash zillions of bullets, but it makes for some scintillating watching.

On the whole, "Hard Boiled" is definitely an engaging experience that's more than worth the money I shelled out for it. Much like "The Killer," this movie manages to pack much more psychological depth than the typical Hollywood shoot-'em-up with its portrayals of compromised heroes in harrowing circumstances. And of course, it goes without saying that Woo is nearly unparelelled when it comes to putting together action set pieces. Woo has made some moderately entertaining movies here in the States, but he hasn't managed to reach the level of his twin Hong Kong masterpieces. So check them out, if you dare.

1-0 out of 5 stars FOX LORBER EDITION IS TERRIBLE!
You are looking at an edition by Fox Lorber Films. I love this movie but this particular transfer onto DVD is TERRIBLE. The picture looks horrible and the audio is the WORST I've EVER seen on a DVD. Will SOMEBODY please issue a decent edition of Hard-Boiled or The Killer on DVD (yes I know about the criterion collection but I don't have $250.00 to spend on it now that they are out of print!).

3-0 out of 5 stars great film, horrible transfer
This is simply a great action-packed, incredibly violent film. Woo is a master of the shoot-out scene and there are plenty of them in this flick. The camera work is amazing. It's smooth, it's poetic. Its influence on The Matrix is very clear. However, this DVD is one of the worst film transfers I have ever seen. The quality image is almost unwatchable, at least for my taste. Dirt, scratches, burn marks are everywhere. The film looks like it was dragged across the floor, stepped on, dumped on, then left to sit a few days for the rats, cockroaches, racoons, and other wildlife to trample all over it before it was transfered onto the DVD. Do not buy this DVD. Rent it, or if you can afford it (and find it), buy the Criterion Collection edition instead.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest action movies ever?
I think so. It's violent, over the top and you'll feel satisfied. John Woo won me over with this one. The gun fights are crazy and Chow-Yun Fat proves to be a badass. Not a no-budget movie, but by no means is it a big-production film. It's gritty and fast paced and well... violent. ... Read more


156. Ikiru - Criterion Collection
Director: Akira Kurosawa
list price: $39.95
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Asin: B00005JLMU
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 1436
Average Customer Review: 4.79 out of 5 stars
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Description

In this film, considered by some critics to be Akira Kurosawa's greatest and most compassionate achievement, Takashi Shimura (Seven Samurai) portrays Kenji Watanabe, an aging bureaucrat with stomach cancer forced to strip the veneer off his existence and find meaning in his final days. ... Read more

Reviews (63)

5-0 out of 5 stars A powerful meditation on the fragility of human life.
As a big fan of Kurosawa and the Criterion Collection, I couldn't wait to recieve this DVD in the mail.

Human life can be lost before a person dies, Kurosawa's film shows, and it is difficult for anyone to remain truly alive with all of life's challenges and setbacks. Like a thin thread, life's inspiration is easy to lose. But what happens when a man loses that thread for decades and discovers it again only months before dying?

The answer to this question is both heart-warming and heart-breaking. But ultimately this film will burn brightly in the viewer's mind.

Two years after becoming world famous for Rashomon, Kurosawa released this thematic sequal - a meditation on truth and meaning in the modern world. While Rashomon became a cinematic landmark, I think this film blows rashomon away. It, along with Ozu's Tokyo Story, are the most moving films I've ever seen.

What makes Kurosawa so great here? It is the centrality of the movie's meaning. We all die and we all struggle to find truth. Watanabe, a placid and unquestioning bureaucrat, glimpses the truth about his life when he finds that he has only months to live. He immediately sets out to live his life to the fullest - eventually granting the dearest wish of the citizens that the other bureaucrats would just rather ignore.

But like the man who emerges into the sunlight from the cave in Plato's allegory - none of the other cave dwellers understand his actions.In fact, it's worse, the grandstanding officials claim credit Watanabe's inspired actions, despite having stood in his way.

But ultimately the truth saves Watanabe before he dies. This is masterful filmaking - more on par with Kurosawa's heroes Dostoyevsky and Shakespeare than his cinematic peers. It is a must purchase for his fans and, I think, a story that will move the viewer towards greater compassion and consciousness of life passing by.

Perhaps it's no wonder Criterion chose this fim to include two feature documentaries on Kurosawa on a second disc. And the commentary track is done by the always entertaining Stephen Prince. You can't go wrong here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie, but terrible transfer
I should start by saying that I think Ikiru is the best movie I've ever seen, but I'll try to address some of the negatives.

The story of Ikiru is that of a bureaucrat who upon learning he has stomach cancer begins a desperate search for meaning in his life. He tries family, liquor, and women, but eventually finds purpose in a cesspool that troubles a local community, and their attempts to have a playground built on the site.

The story is absolutely compelling, and the intricate subtleties of Kurosawa's direction make this film very powerful, especially in the second half of the film, where Watanabe's (the protagonist) coworkers discuss his final few months at his wake. The acting is superb. Takashi Shimura gives a performance that is stand out.

Ikiru is not a universally liked movie, for several reasons. The movie is black and white and has subtitles. The cuts and scene changes have a very old-fashioned feel to them (quite rightly... it's old. But this gives a lot of people trouble). The pacing of this movie is deliberate, and by that I mean slow. It is not quick or action-packed. It moves subtlely.

While most all the reviews rave about it, I'd caution that this movie will not beat you over the head with its brilliance. It is a gentle story with subtle nuances, and often, the meaning is conveyed more in facial expressions and quiet moments than in anything said or done.

That being said, I thought the transfer of this movie to DVD was terrible. It is my understanding that this was the best that could be done, which is a shame. Many feel this to be Kurosawa's best work, and to know that this terrible transfer is the best it can ever get, that's sad. Specifically, the vertical lines noted in previous reviews are definitely there, and definitely problematic. There is poor contrast, and it is often difficult to see the actors defined well at all.

The bonus material on this DVD is so so. The commentary is certainly interesting, but the documentaries didn't thrill me too much. The main sell of this DVD is the movie itself.

If this movie sounds like something you can sit through, you should watch it. It's a great movie. I really do think it's the best movie I've ever seen. But it's not for everyone. If you've already seen it and want to own it, this DVD set is fine, but it comes with the caveat that the quality of the transfer is not impressive.

4-0 out of 5 stars Occasionally quite moving but a bit too sentimental
I don't profess to be an expert on the films of acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, but I will say that, though I haven't seen a great many of his films, I've definitely admired the ones I have seen. Films like RASHOMON, THE SEVEN SAMURAI, and THRONE OF BLOOD show a director that not only has an acute visual sense---I have never seen equalled the unforgettable images of the moving trees and then Toshiro Mifune with all the arrows launched at him at the end of THRONE OF BLOOD---but also a human sensitivity that may be more flamboyant and theatrical in style than his Japanese counterpart Yasujiro Ozu, but is no less impressive. He is a true film artist, to be sure...but, though IKIRU is often called one of Kurosawa's most human film achievements, I personally would not quite put it in the same level as those aforementioned three.

Not that it's not moving. The first half of the film actually made me shed quite a few tears, watching poor Kanji Watanabe first find out he has stomach cancer, and then try to actually have some fun with his life. His attempts to do so are quite touching, even though it does not always work out---esp. with the girl that eventually gets annoyed with him b/c he insists on hanging out with her so much. Finally, he decides to do something noble for the people he works for, and thus we get to the second half of the film: Mr. Watanabe's wake, in which colleagues reminisce about the noble act he accomplished for a town before he died. His act---he steps over bureaucratic lines and gets built a children's park in an area where there was only a dirty pool of water previously---slowly inspires the others to perhaps break out of their bureaucratic mold...and perhaps will inspire you too, in a different way.

I dunno, though...I was inspired but only sometimes moved by this film. For me, I think Kurosawa's penchant for lack of subtlety and heavy-handed sentimentality sometimes mutes its power. Kurosawa, for example, is not content to simply allow us to visually observe how lifeless our hero truly is at the beginning: no, he must give us a voiceover that drums it into our head that "this man has not truly lived." And then there is the scene in the bar in the middle of the film, in which Watanabe sings, with tears coming out of his eyes, a mushy song that expresses his feelings of hopelessness and despair. If nothing else, though, the second half of the film seems to expose this unfortunate tendency---a very long scene, intercut with flashbacks, set in Watanabe's wake in which his fellow workers first try to deny Watanabe's deep heroism, but then eventually resolve to be as noble as he was in his last months of life. It is certainly intriguing structurally, as we see the effects of his death on fellow workers and the townspeople Watanabe helped so greatly. And yet I think, could this scene not have been just as effective as simply an epilogue rather than the focus of the entire second part of the film? I'm sure Kurosawa could have made his point---he is showing how one man's heroism can deeply affect other people---without becoming as repetitious and even preachy as this portion of the film sometimes seemed.

And yet, if IKIRU is a flawed film, at least its flaws always spring from an honest desire to lift up his audience in a way that SEVEN SAMURAI and THRONE OF BLOOD do not even try to do. It may be sentimental, but it is always honestly felt, and perhaps you might be much less resistant to Kurosawa's sentimental excesses than I occasionally was. As Watanabe, Takashi Shimura gives an unforgettable performance (esp. with that hauntingly raspy voice of his); and Kurosawa does create a final moving image of Watanabe swinging on the swing in the new park, singing that same song he sang at the bar, but in a different, perhaps more joyful manner.

That image just goes to show you that Kurosawa was, above all else, a masterly visual artist in his films. If he had relied more on his sense of powerful imagery to make his point, IKIRU might have been a truly great film, instead of one that perhaps tries too hard to be deeply moving. And yet I would be lying if I said that I wasn't affected by the film. Perhaps some of you might not mind the occasional preachiness in this film and will find this a truly transcendant film experience. For me, it almost got there, but not quite. Still, IKIRU is a good film that deserves to be seen for its powerful message, if nothing else. Maybe it will really change your life. Recommended (with some reservations).

5-0 out of 5 stars 5 stars not enough...
... for rating this one. I can't but than agree it might well be the most compelling film by Kurosawa. As well Criterion have to be hailed for bundling the most interesting 'Extras' I've ever seen on DVDs. But afterwards I couldn't help thinking why, after half a century since it was released, nobody realized that giving stomach cancer to civil servants and politicians might get them doing their work: and if even for a short while, at least tax-payers won't regret the money they're usually conned of. Since the bulk of most civil servants' work is waiting retirement, and almost all politicians think (???) they've been elected so they can be paid while preparing their next campaign, it would be worth giving it a try.

5-0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece
I'm only 19 so perhaps some may say I can't really comment or fully understand all about living life to the full, because I have barely lived. But one thing this film makes you realise is that a job, is just a job! This film was so heartful and beautiful,it can make any age group realise that life is for living and how correct it was to say that 'only when you know you are going to die do you begin to live'..we should learn to live before that moment comes! I recommend this film for everyone, I love Japanese films and this was by far one of the best films.
It's an eye-opening film and one that should not be disregarded! ... Read more


157. Notre Musique
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
list price: $29.98
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Asin: B0007Y8ABU
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 1008
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Description

Part poetry, part journalism, part philosophy, master filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard's Notre Musique is a witty and lyrical reflection on war through the ages. The film is structured into three Dantean Kingdoms: Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.The journey begins in Hell, represented by modern war and then moves to Purgatory, set in Sarajevo.Finally, Paradise is conceived as a small beach guarded by Marines from the United States.At the same time, the film also follows the parallel stories of two Israeli Jewish women, one drawn to the light and one drawn towards darkness. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A visual poem of hope beyond horror
Godard has offered us perhaps his best work since "Le-Week-End"
(not cialis folks)in 1967. The arche post-modernist film-maker has given has a subjective charcter, Olga, the French-Jewish journalist/martyr is his first totally compelling female character since his ex-wife Anna Karina, who lit up his work from 1961-65.

JLG, himself, seems to have mellowed a bit, and like many septaganarians, his musings may be turning to the "invisible world" beyond the veil.

Loosely based on Dante's "Divine Comedy," "Notre Musique" gives usvisions of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. This redemptive movement gives us hope in the face of the wars that have virtually detroyed 20th century Europre, and of the tremendous horror modern man has inflicted on minorities he considers a nuisance (American Indians, victims of war, Palestinians, Women, Muslims,Jews, Bosnians, Blacks...). This isn't new for Godard, but the outrage is replaced by sorrow in the face of the eternal repetition of atrocities. inequalities. and injustice.

Godard mourns the "masculinization" of women with his film bit about film shot/reverse shot. And Sarjevo has become the new Auchiwitz- or Hiroshima. We see how much war, masculine child-like war, has traumatized our civilization, and how we still are helpless in the face of this primal instinct.

Some may see "French anti-semitism"in his his treatment of the fascinating interview with the very western looking Palestinian, who says, in effect, the only reason the plight of his people are known is because of their relationship with "The Jews", both victims of European Nationalism.

In Olga's ascension, in the short final section, to Paradise after her martyrdom in Israel(perhaps indicative of Godard seeing signs of impending fascism in the "Neo-Con" contrived"roadmap" of today's Israel- not original but dramitcally poignant.) we see a retun to nature, as in "The-Week-End." and our return to our origin
in "the garden" A hopeful sign that we all may begin, not necessarily be born, again.

Welcome back JLG, perhaps, like Luis Bunuel in his 70's, your bestwork may be yet to come. Sadly, this isn't for everyone,
but wouldn't it be wondeful if it could be.


3-0 out of 5 stars Godard's new film is way beyond belief
Jean-Luc Godard's overpowering but insanely confusing new film "Notre Musique" is an astonishing symphony of garish colors, violent images and a jarring musical score. Godard, an icon of the French New Wave, uses every technique at his disposal to create a solemn reflection on the questions of war, evil and human nature. But the film's grave, weighty maxims don't really add up to any clear profundities. The film is a bizarre and ambitious experiment -- a mixture of narrative fiction film with documentary -- but it ultimately leaves its audience behind.

The structure of "Notre Musique," modeled on Dante's "Divine Comedy," is divided into three parts: Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. The homage to Dante is one of the most obvious references in a film filled with them, which tends to amount to allusion for allusion's sake. Godard is well known for his practice of quoting, paraphrasing and referring to past works of art, though his tastes are so obscure that it's nearly impossible to follow along.

The first segment, Hell, is a disturbing ten-minute collage of images of war. The short clips were culled from all sorts of sources; Nazis from the Holocaust documentary "Night and Fog" play alongside stereotyped Native Americans from Hollywood Westerns.

Godard's tremendous skill as an editor is evident throughout "Musique," especially during this first sequence. He weds violence and brutality to the powerful music of numerous classical composers, including Sibelius and Tchaikovsky. The effect of the perpetually pounding pianos is overwhelming, though numbing rather than emotional. The same is true for the section in its entirety; showing scene after scene of gruesome death, Godard does not so much affect his audience as alienate them.

The second part of the movie, Purgatory, is its bulk. Its loose narrative is centered on a real-life conference, European Literary Encounters, held in Sarajevo. Godard follows a cast of tangentially related fictional and real-life characters as they travel in Sarajevo during the conference. Among the people playing themselves are Godard, the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwich, the Spanish author Juan Goytisolo and French authors Pierre Bergounioux and Jean-Paul Curnier. The internationality of this real-life artistic community is particularly interesting, especially in the way Godard uses it in order to universalize his messages.

The protagonist of the film is Judith Lerner (Sarah Adler), an Israeli journalist from Tel Aviv. She and Olga Brodsky (Nade Dieu), a French Jewish woman, wrestle with the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, which serves as Godard's microcosm for modern armed conflict. In one of the movie's most memorable scenes, Judith interviews Darwich about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The poet argues that even as they have suffered under the Israeli occupation, the Palestinians have benefited in publicity. "The world cares about you, not about us," Darwich says. "You've brought us defeat and renown." Judith's response rings all too true: "We are your propaganda ministry."

But identifying with this scene, as with the entire film, requires genuine knowledge on the subject, making "Notre Musique" something of an elitist work of art. The other obvious shortcoming is the rapidness and arbitrariness with which Godard moves from character to character and idea to idea, leaving the audience no time to absorb them. As a result, the film's many self-consciously profound insights into the world come off as glib and even shallow. (For example, one character randomly remarks, with a straight face, that Russians have no concept of evil because of Russian syntax.)

The scenes in Purgatory have little thematic connection or character development to speak of. Instead, where Godard envisions Hell as absurd and inexplicable war, he seems to regard Purgatory as a world of perpetually fruitless wrestling with morality. Though this idea sounds wonderful in concept, the film's open-ended nature quickly becomes tiresome.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Purgatory is its setting, Sarajevo, the city where World War I originated. The film shows it to be a damaged and wounded city, though one undergoing a healing process; the run-down bridge in the city that Judith visits during its reconstruction is an elegant symbol of this transition.

The centerpiece of the film is an address Godard gives at the conference. He speaks on the subject of "text and image," using a cinematic technique he refers to as "shot and counter-shot" as a metaphor for the duality of human nature. He shows a scene from the 1940 "His Girl Friday," arguing that Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are two halves of one whole. It is infinitely confusing, but a wonderful moment nevertheless.

The title of the film translates to "Our Music," a phrase that seems to refer more to film than anything else. By mixing real-life and fictional characters, Godard challenges the boundary between movies and real life, suggesting that the first can help us come to terms with the second. But this abstract message is the closest the film gets to a concrete moral: it is often much more content to observe rather than comment. Detrimentally, "Notre Musique" observes the world at a mile per minute.

During the climactic lecture, one of his students asks the filmmaker, "Can the little digital cameras save cinema?" Godard does not respond. He doesn't seem to know about saving cinema, nor does he begin to contemplate saving the world. It seems, at times, that he doesn't even want to make sense of it.

(Originally published in the Yale Daily News, February 11, 2005.)

4-0 out of 5 stars I've Heard That Song Before
I've never been much of a Jean-Luc Godard fan. Film after film he has disappointed me. Sure, there have been a small handful of films I've found meaningful including his last film "In Praise of Love", "Contempt" and "My Life To Live", but I've said some pretty mean spirited things about Godard in reviews written on amazon and in conversations with friends. I've called him pretenious, immature, and about as intellectually stimulating as a three year old.

I've found Godard to be childish in a philosophical sense. We just don't see eye to eye I think. What he finds thought provoking I don't. I think Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovosky and Akiria Kurosawa are far more mature and thought provoking.

I've also thought Godard has problems resolving his stories. He doesn't know how to come to a satisfying conclusion. In most of his films the characters die in the end. Watch "Breathless", "A Woman Is A Woman", "My Life To Live", "Pierrot le Fou", "Weekend" and "Contempt". In the grand scheme of things, yes, death is the ultimate ending, but, I feel it's a cop out. It showed his inability in handling his characters.

But now I've seen "Notre Musique", and my opinion of Godard has changed.

"Notre Musique" is one of if not Godard's best film. It is the film I have been waiting for Godard to make since I first saw "Breathless" about seven years ago.

Now either I'm slipping and have lowered my standards or Godard really has something here.

My guess is the latter. Now at 73 Jean-Luc Godard is not the same man anymore. He is not the radical leftist of films such as "Weekend" or "Two or Three Things I Know About Her" but instead has become more reflective. With age, wisdom and maturity have followed.

"Notre Musique" does not feel like a typical Godard film. Godard shows more restraint, more focus. There really is a great maturity here. It is here that Godard blends an intellectual capability and an emotional complexity in a masterful way. A way few films are able to achieve.

The film is divided in three chapters; Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Each is set to beautiful music. I said the film doesn't feel like a Godard film, and that's true, but Godard does his usual experimenting nonetheless. Music is cut in mid-scene, the screen fades to black while actors are still talking, and some characters do speak in the same way they have in Godard's past films and I've called it pretenious, but the difference here is Godard has found a perfect marriage of ideas and images.

We see the horror of war and its aftermath, the struggle here on Earth, and the paradise that can be found, as two women; one a journalist, the other a rebel searching for the truth. In one example of how Godard has matured, in the 60s the rebel would be the star, the symbol of power and what needs to be done in society, here though she is an almost tragic figure. Godard is injecting himself not only in a physical sense (he does star in the film as himself) but in an emotional way.

Despite the new year being only a month old, "Notre Musique" is the year's first "important" (whatever that may mean) film. A masterpiece.

Bottom-line: One of Godard's best if not his best. Displays an emotional maturity in his work. A perfect marriage of ideas and images.

5-0 out of 5 stars Notre Musique
Jean-Luc Godard's `Notre Musique' is a somber act of eventual forgiveness, a cry for a world divided by its wars, our own Godard says. If Godard's previous film, `Eloge De L'Amour' was about things forgotten: memory, cinema, history, than `Notre Musique' is about division, a last cry for a world destroyed, Godard has made the film of our time, one scene in particular, is one of the most unsettling, tragic and symbolic scenes Godard has ever shot: An Indian of a forgotten tribe makes a moving speech in which he offers reconciliation to the white man in front of him, standing in a destroyed library in Sarajevo, the man pays no attention to him at first, and then when Godard turns the camera over to where the white man initially was, there is no one there. There is one undeniable connection between Godard's earliest work and his last films: the ghosts that haunt them. `Le Mepris', `Pierrot Le Fou', `Bande A Part', were films that were haunted by the ghosts of a certain kind of cinema that was ending: a poetic American cinema that included auteurs like Sam Fuller and Nicholas Ray and foreigners welcomed by the American cinema like Hitchcock or Fritz Lang. Then in 1966 Godard had Jean-Pierre Leaud talk about, in `Masculin-Feminin', the alienation he felt when he went to the cinema: `The screen flickered, but more often than not we were disappointed, Marilyn Monroe had aged terribly', an incredibly confessional scene in a film that spoke of a newer generation, no longer captivated by Bogart and Dean, the `children of Marx and coca-cola' as Godard called them. `Notre Musique' is set in Sarajevo and all of the characters are wounded, caught between different countries, destroyed by nationalism, notably a young Israeli journalist who serves as a (literal) bridge from purgatory to heaven (Godard divides his film into three separate parts: hell, purgatory and heaven). In what is certainly the most tragic scene in the film, she explains why for her suicide is the only answer to purity, she is later killed in a cinema when she threatens to have explosives in her bag (which actually contains books), an extremely symbolic statement on sacrifice and why it is impossible. There is a scene in the film that describes the entire message of the film and, perhaps better than any other single scene he has ever shot, the balance (that is so faint in his films) between stylization and complete, utter moments of beauty that can only be captured, not staged: Godard himself is seen giving a conference, and when, for the millionth time, someone asks him if video will save the cinema, the camera lingers hauntingly as a tear runs down his face: his answer is silence. ... Read more


158. Chungking Express
Director: Kar Wai Wong
list price: $9.99
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Asin: B000065V38
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 3393
Average Customer Review: 4.43 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (69)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not your typical HK flick....
This movie (directed by Wong Kar-wai) tells two separate stories. In the first one, a lonely cop who has just been left out in the cold by his girl-friend May, buys and eats expired cans of pineapple and meets a woman who turns out to be a ruthless heroin dealer (Brigitte Lin) who wears a blonde wig. In the second story, a cop who has been dumped by his girlfriend is really unhappy, moping round his apartment all day. Then he meets the waitress at the local fast food joint (Faye Wong), who dreams of going to California.

I really liked watching this film. The imagery and camerawork is stunning, and it is amusing and sad in equal parts, telling the story of how lonely the people are. Another striking thing is the inventive use of music within the stories which is used to illustrate certain points - listen out for songs like "What A Difference A Day Makes" and the Mamas and the Papas classic hit "California Dreamin`". I didn`t expect to hear English songs in a Hong Kong movie.

I think it's a nice change to see another type of Asian movie, one which isn`t all shooting or kung-fu. It has an experimental style, lots of energy, and is not afraid to be different.

I highly recommend this tape to people who want to check out a different sort of HK film. If you pass it up, you`re missing out on a gem.

5-0 out of 5 stars NOT A MARTIAL ARTS/ACTION MOVIE
Great date film.... Urban isolation, bad break ups, and quirky humor characterizes this film, with some great perfomances by Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and "the Madonna of Mandarin," pop star, Faye Wong. Bridgette Lin also has one of her best roles ever, although she's incognito in a blond whig and sunglasses. Told in the two seperate halves that comprise the film, Kaneshiro and Leung both play H.K. cops who have been dumped by their girlfriends, with both coping in different ways. Kaneshiro persistant in his hopes his ex will change her mind, Leung forlorn and down. Almost universally, most people prefer Leungs half of the movie. Leung is so down about his girlfriend's rejection of him, that he's totally unaware that the woman (F. Wong) working at the fast food stand where he eats has fallen for him and is sneaking into and redecorating his appartment. On a more personal note, Valerie Chow, my favorite H.K. Cinema uber-babe and the only one who could possibly eclipse Rosamund Kwan, has a minor role as Leung's airline stewardess ex-girlfriend (I never understood why she was never more prominant in H.K. Cinema-she could make it just on looks alone-she also appears in Tsui Harks The Blade). Very intelligent, thought out, and entertaining.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful inside view of Hong Kong
Hong Kong is often a study of the absurd, but it always has a way of captivating you. This movie manages to capture much of both sides of this. While those who know Hong Kong find some of the continuity a little jumpy (how do they get from Hong Kong to Kowloon and back so fast?), it is a gem of a visual introduction to living in the real Hong Kong. Filmed almost entirely within a few blocks around Wellington Street, the escalator and Lan Kwai Fong, you can almost smell the streets as they were 10 years ago. The 2 stories that make up the film are also contrasts - between the sheer pace and mayhem of one to the simple minded childishness of the other. Brilliant.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love and obsession....
This movie brings together a great cast, including the legendary Brigitte Lin, and the indelible Faye Wong. Loosely speaking, Chungking Express is the unraveling of two not-so-separate stories about love and obsession. The connection between the two stories is like a subtle undercurrent. At more than one point we see the characters of the two stories cross path, much like anyone of us cross paths with hundreds of unknown faces everyday. They are unaware of each other...why should they?

The film explores the nuanced boudaries of love and obsession, of fantasy and reality. The characters are cops, a drug dealer, and a fast food clerk. Their lives occur against the backdrop of the urban jungle that is modern day Hong Kong, where escalators are built so close to apartment buildings that when you look out your second floor apartment, you see shadows of strangers riding up and down your neighborhood. In this postmodern and unreal landscape plays out the primal desires of love and obsession where hope, disappointment, rationality, irrationality, reality, and fantasy plays tricks on our minds. All this is well put together in a tantalizing and sexy film. (spoiler alert) It pits one conventional love story ending with one not so conventional. I've watched this film numerous times, and every time I come away with a reminder of how my desires is a delicate balance between sense and non-sense. Check this film out!

2-0 out of 5 stars Different? Yes. Good? Well...
This overrated film by hip oriental director Wong Kar-Wai manages to be mildly intriguing and interesting at times but for the most part it just misses its target. Yes, there is some stylish and neat directing to find here, as well as some weird and offbeat scenes once in a while, yet the movie is ultimately too long and it seems to lack a point. What begins as an appealing story (or stories) about urban alienation and the isolation of some japanese youngsters soon turns into a repetitive, tiresome and, at parts, irritating cinematic experience ("California Dreaming", anyone??). The characters range from frustrated daydreamers to annoying and erratic losers who can`t seem to find a goal for their lives. "Chungking Express" is quircky and kind of amusing here and there, still overall it fails to convince.
Average. ... Read more


159. Donkey Skin
Director: Jacques Demy
list price: $34.98
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Asin: B0007VY472
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Amazon.com

Donkey Skin reunites Catherine Deneuve with Jacques Demy and Michel Legrand, yet it's quite unlike The Umbrellas of Cherbourg or The Young Girls of Rochefort. Those 1960s musicals were set in some semblance of the modern world, but Donkey Skin, based on a fable by Charles Perrault, takes place in a fantastical fairyland, located somewhere between The Wizard of Oz and La Belle et la Bête. Jean Marais, Jean Cocteau’s Beast, is even the king of the kingdom. Alas, he's just lost his queen (Deneuve), whose dying wish is that he marry a woman more beautiful than she. Deranged by loss, he decides on his daughter (Deneuve again). She's horrified--her fairy godmother (Delphine Seyrig), as well, so she devises a plan for the princess to flee, hidden by a donkey skin. Strange by any standards, Donkey Skin is one of the more magical musicals to emerge from the 1970s. --Kathleen C. Fennessy ... Read more


160. Notting Hill (Collector's Edition)
Director: Roger Michell
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Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (322)

5-0 out of 5 stars It's been a long time...
This is truly a lovely movie, and it has been a long time since a romantic comedy has been this enjoyable. This movie may remind you of "When Harry Met Sally" or "Sleepless in Seattle", where the couples are clearly meant for each other, yet have obstacles they must overcome. The acting and dialogue are superb! Hugh Grant, a world-famous actor, is completely convincing as an average bloke, while Julia Roberts goes by Anna Scott and plays herself, a "heavenly" movie star.

One review of this movie called it "pure fairy tale." As long as you can believe that it is possible for an actress to truly be a "good person," that she may actually want to live a relatively "normal" life outside of her acting career and may want to start a family of her own, then this statement is false. One specific scene mentioned as difficult to believe was the initial kiss that takes place quite soon after they meet. However, there are two reasons why this scene is believable. First, it is quite obvious that she is impressed from the start with his wit, sensitivity, and honesty, especially compared to the other men who are falling over themselves when they meet her. Secondly, this kiss may be a sort of test. In a city filled with reporters trying to get a story and her pictures plastered everywhere, her life has to be secretive as much as possible. Perhaps she wanted to see if she would be reading about the incident in the next day's paper before she allowed herself to get too close. She gave him quite the opportunity to brag to his friends or family, but he does not.

This movie is quite entertaining to watch the first, second and even fifth time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Quirky, funny and totally sentimental...what more is there?
This is a feel good movie for everyone who has ever loved or been loved. Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts are great as the mismatched couple who meet one day and strike up the most unlikeliest of friendships. Julia Roberts plays "the most famous film star in the world", whilst Hugh Grant is a bumbling bookstore owner with a failing business. Their love affair is a fairy tale come true, but like most fairy tales there are a few hurdles to overcome before true love and happiness can finally be theirs. Grant and Roberts are ably supported by an excellent cast, including the Emma Chambers better known as Alice Tinker from "The Vicar of Dibley", and Rhys Ifans who brilliantly portrays Grant's nutty Welsh flatmate. Notting Hill doesn't tax the brain cells. There are many hilarious moments, one of the funniest being the car scene when Grant tries to get to Robert's press evening, it's a laugh a minute and the same can be said for the rest of the film. So if you want a gentle love story, a surprisingly good comedy combined with witty dialogue and a cast of great actors then rent or buy this movie. You won't regret it.

2-0 out of 5 stars zzzzzzzz Oh Okay I'm awake.......zzzzzzzzzzz Yeah Ok...zzz
I would like to say that I agree with some of the previous reviewers on this forum that Julia Roberts is not much of an actress. Just a pretty face. I rented this and went into it with a open mind. I haven't seen Julia Roberts in any other movies. This is the first. Julia Roberts did not add anything to the part. Hugh Grant was okay. I haven't seen him in any other movies either. So this was a first for me to see him. Now, as for the film. The story was pretty much bland and it was difficult to hold my interest. The film is very much a boy meets girl/ boy loses girl etc.... and you're basic light, fluff love story. The only humorous portion was Hugh Grant's slob/eccentric roommate and even that was only mildly funny. From what I understand, this is the formula film that Roberts generally is in and she does not change much from that formula. There is not any pretty scenery, vistas or even witty/clever dialogue. I think women would enjoy this film more than men. After watching it, you come away from it feeling like you haven't watched anything of substance. The film does touch on the difficulties that Roberts (who plays a famous movie star) has being famous and contending with the press and gossip in the London newspapers. I think most people would be satisfied to watch this film once and leave it at that. Others might really find it a waste of their time, while I know some people will turn it off after 15 minutes. It's not the worst film I have seen, but it is far, far below the standards of a really good film. I wouldn't recommend this as a film to keep in your DVD library. It is a toss away film. Not bad, just sub-standard all the way around. (I don't see what all the fuss is about regarding Julia Roberts as an actress. I see just a pretty face. There's a lot of prettier women out there in the real world). Two stars folks.

3-0 out of 5 stars dissapointed
The movie is ok for watching once.. so rent if you want to see it first.. but not one i'd watch again. nothing really captivating in this movie. why julia in this movie was interested in grants character is beyond me... she barely knew the guy except for a few things... his apartment is a mess and he has some freaky roomate that would have scared me off.. i can sympathize with her situation and sort of see movie stars life in a new light.. but then again being rich and famous has a lot of other pleasures i'm sure! and this movie makes it seem like shes plain miserable. anyway, this movie was slightly boring. i like roberts and grant as actors.. i just didnt see the real attraction between them no matter how hard they tried... there was no moments in this movie that would have made them very close therefore not moving to me.. this one isnt a keeper in my opinion.

3-0 out of 5 stars Well- at least this time she's in the right role
I've been waiting forever for a critic or reviewer to expose Julia Roberts for what she is- a talentless, over-estimated, freak of nature--- but the culture is so heady with celebrity buzz that it will never happen. So I'll have to take matters into my own hands:

Roberts has been getting away with simply playing variations of herself since the days of Mystic Pizza. Her same shrill laugh (it's actually a barking shout- look for it) can be heard in any one of those forgettable roles from Flatliners to the Pelican Brief, and the academy-award-winning Brokovich character was Roberts again, only this time dressed like a trailer park refugee and spouting a little more anger and sarcasm than she normally does. God help us- Pretty Woman was such a smash that we'll never be rid of her. Unfortunately, when not playing one of those personal variations, she's lost because she honestly can't act. Take a look at her poor attempt in Michael Collins and there you'll find someone out of their depth. The role was not difficult, just not a variation of herself (am I getting redundant?)

Now for the review of Nottinghill: The script is witty at points, and the story is at times charming with some entertaining moments. According to a professional reviewer, "True, Roberts doesn't really have to stretch very far to play a big-time actress who makes $15 million per movie . . ." Well, that nails it, doesn't it? For once, Roberts can be forgiven for being herself, because that's what the role calls for: a famous, over-paid, self-consumed, Hollywood celebrity. But as well-cast as Julia is here, even she can't resist going over the top on occasion, as in the scene where one of Grant's friends, who meets her for the first time, discovers she's an actress and comments that it's a tough occupation in which to make a living. Our girl enjoys her response entirely too much when he asks what she got paid for her last work. Then again--- I guess I can see her gloating in the same self-satisfied manner in real life, so it's probably appropriate. In contrast to this kind of affirmation, however, notice how Alec Baldwin's cameo portrayl of the male star counterpart later in the film is more tongue in cheek; Julia, on the other hand, is far too relaxed (and serious) playing the pompous, condescending star. Gee, by Jove, it's her!

As enjoyable as this film can be at times despite the romantic comedy formula which has been so overdone, the real killer is the fairy tale ending. It just wouldn't have happened this way, no matter what we want to believe. If by some strange quirk of fate, Roberts' character was somehow faintly drawn to this guy and married him, it would have been only as a passing diversion, and annulled 2 weeks later (any real life analogies?). Good performances by Grant and most of the supporting cast, and Roberts doing herself (there it is again), but it's not enough. Even though the film is not a disaster, it just doesn't work. Spend your money on the popcorn for another video.

By the way, will someone also please finally admit that Julia Roberts is not attractive? With that mouth, she looks like she could consume a '56 Buick whole in one bite. ... Read more


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