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Articles Index - page 2

DVD Pick: "Melinda and Melinda"
"He's despondent. He's desperate. He's suicidal. All the comic elements are in place." So says a playwright in the film "Melinda and Melinda," which was written and directed by Woody Allen. And for me, all the comic elements were in place when I watched this movie on DVD—I got a lot of laughs out of it. Read a review of "Melinda and Melinda" on DVD.

DVD Pick: "The Wizard of Oz" Three-Disc Collector's Edition
The Wizard of Oz is an iconic movie. Read a review of The Wizard of Oz on DVD, and take an in-depth look at the DVD set.

DVD Pick: "Alfred Hitchcock — The Masterpiece Collection"
Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors, and whenever I'm in the mood for a stylish mix of suspense, terror, and perhaps a delicious dash of romance, his films have never failed to entertain and fascinate me. So I wasn't surprised that I was delighted by "Alfred Hitchcock — The Masterpiece Collection," a 15-disc box set that contains 14 movies directed by the legendary Master of Suspense. Read a review of "Alfred Hitchcock — The Masterpiece Collection" on DVD.

DVD Pick: "Sin City"
Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and Clive Owen are among the many well-known actors appearing in "Sin City" (2005), a pulpy, noirish movie adapted from Frank Miller's graphic novels. I don't regret having missed seeing this film on the big screen, but on DVD I found it entertaining.

DVD Pick: "Million Dollar Baby"
Million Dollar Baby won four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Clint Eastwood), Best Actress (Hilary Swank), and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman). It was nominated for three additional Oscars: Best Actor (Eastwood again), Best Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay. As far as I am concerned, it is one of 2004's top three movies, the other two being The Aviator and Sideways. But I would say that Million Dollar Baby has far and away the strongest emotional impact of the three.

DVD Pick: "The Jerk" (26th Anniversary Edition)
Read a full-length review of "The Jerk" 26th Anniversary Edition DVD.

DVD Pick: "Laura"
Laura (1944) is one of the great classic Hollywood movies. It's a stylish film noir with an exceptional cast that includes Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, and Judith Anderson. Elegantly directed by Otto Preminger, the movie won an Academy Award for cinematography, and the costuming and art direction are outstanding. The film is famous for David Raksin's haunting music.

DVD Pick: "Gunner Palace"
Here's a small example of one of many scenes I found fascinating in the documentary Gunner Palace: It's a Thursday in Baghdad, and the American soldiers hear gunfire. This is normal. Weddings take place on Thursday, and the gunfire is celebratory. Gunner Palace chronicles the day-to-day lives of U.S. Army personnel occupying post-war Iraq. The film gave me a much different look at the situation than the one I had been getting by watching television. Read a review of Gunner Palace on DVD.

DVD Pick: "Au hasard Balthazar"
If you're interested in cinema as art, rather than as entertainment, then you'll certainly want to see Robert Bresson's French-language "Au hasard Balthazar" (1966). It's ranked 19th in "Sight & Sound's" 2002 critics' poll (tied with "Jules and Jim" and "L'avventura"), and it's available on DVD from Criterion Collection. For me, watching "Au hasard Balthazar" and the accompanying bonus materials on DVD was a profoundly moving experience.

DVD Pick: "Jules and Jim" (Criterion Collection)
François Truffaut's Jules and Jim has long been one of my favorite movies, and now I'm thrilled to own The Criterion Collection two-disc DVD set containing this great French-language film. I rate this DVD set as one of the best ever. Fox Lorber released a single-disc DVD version of Jules and Jim, and you can find my review of that elsewhere on this site. However, the Criterion Collection version is far superior in every way. Read a review of the Jules and Jim Criterion Collection DVD set.

DVD Pick: "Porgy & Bess"
George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess"is an American opera that opened in New York in 1935 and has several songs I've been familiar with for as long as I can remember, including Summertime, Oh, I got plenty o' nuttin', It ain't necessarily so, and Bess, you is my woman now. Actually, George Gershwin is credited with writing only the music for Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are credited to George's brother Ira Gershwin and an author named DuBose Heyward.

DVD Pick: "The Big Red One"
The Big Red One: The Reconstruction is a World War II combat movie that was showcased at Cannes. It's an expanded version of Samuel Fuller's much-admired 1980 film The Big Red One starring Lee Marvin, containing 47 minutes of footage not seen in the original movie. On DVD, The Big Red One: The Reconstruction is a two-disc set loaded with extras that shed light on both the making of the film and its reconstruction.

DVD Pick: "La Bohème"
Baz Luhrmann created a stage production of Puccini's "La Bohème" and in 1993 filmed a performance of it at the Sydney Opera House. I think Luhrmann's showmanship and Puccini's emotional music make a winning combination, and the movie stars romantic leads who are young and physically attractive.

DVD Pick: "Bad Education"
I would classify Bad Education as film noir, and as I watched it, I couldn't help thinking of Vertigo and Laura. The characters in Bad Education are driven by lust and ambition, and the plot, which involves blackmail and murder, has some clever twists. I found the filmmaking here extremely vibrant.

DVD Pick: "Leave Her to Heaven"
"Well, of all the seven deadly sins, jealousy is the most deadly," says one of the characters in "Leave Her to Heaven," summing up the theme of this 1945 film noir. The female referred to in the movie's title is played by 24-year-old Gene Tierney, one of the most beautiful women in the world. I don't know whether or not Tierney does much acting in the film, but I think she is perfect for her role in terms of casting. Read a review of the movie Leave Her to Heaven on DVD.

DVD Pick: "Sideways"
I first saw Sideways in a theater, where I laughed loud and often, along with the rest of the audience. I wasn't at all surprised when later the movie was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Watching the film at home on DVD, I found the film just as entertaining as I had on the big screen.

DVD Pick: "The Magic Flute"
Ingmar Bergman directed a 1975 made-for-television version of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" that I rate among the very best of the filmed operas. Although the Swedish director is famous for his melancholy movies, here he has created a cheerful one. The strange story is a fairy tale, and historically the opera has been found entertaining by many children. But I particularly recommend it to people who enjoy an intellectual challenge. Read a review of The Magic Flute on DVD.

DVD Pick: "Raging Bull" Special Edition
Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull is arguably the greatest American biopic ever made. Based on the life of boxer Jake La Motta, I see the movie as a subtle character study of an unlikable man who relates to the world by giving and taking punishment. His self-destructive behavior eventually alienates all who try to know him. But Raging Bull is not a conventional movie. It doesn't tell us what to think or feel, and we have to figure out the mystery that is Jake La Motta for ourselves.

Preview: "The Motorcycle Diaries" DVD
A combination docudrama and travelogue, the Spanish-language Motorcycle Diaries chronicles a long, unhurried, circuitous trip from Buenos Aires to Venezuela that Guevara took when he was in his early twenties. The film's concept is that it was on this journey the young Guevara's consciousness was raised, which would later lead to his becoming a Marxist revolutionary and international cult figure.

DVD Pick: "Fanny & Alexander"
I've heard Bergman films compared to musical compositions, and many of his movies are small and somewhat similar to chamber pieces. But Fanny and Alexander is a big film that is more like a symphony for a large orchestra and chorus. Read a review of this movie on DVD.

DVD Pick: "The Notebook"
I would describe the movie The Notebook as an unabashedly romantic tale about love, memories, and death. It's a weepy, but I believe it's one that men can connect with. It's based on a novel by a man, the screenplay was written by a man, and the director is a man. The story chronicles one otherwise-quite-ordinary man's uncompromising love.

DVD Pick: "De-Lovely"
A review of the movie De-Lovely on DVD.

DVD Pick: "The Battle of Algiers"
Read a review of the Criterion Collection three-disc DVD set of The Battle of Algiers.

DVD Pick: "Star Wars Trilogy"
In its original theatrical release, George Lucas’ iconic Star Wars (1977) made a big impact that continues to reverberate. That movie was followed by the cliffhanger sequel The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and the third film in the series was Return of the Jedi (1983).

"The Passion of the Christ" DVD Review
The Passion of the Christ seems to me to be a deeply felt personal statement by Mel Gibson, and he presents it in a provocative way that stirs up a number of controversial religious, psychological, social, and political issues. I am not comfortable with some of the choices Gibson made in creating his film, but I nevertheless find it well worth watching because it moves me and makes me think. Read a review of the movie The Passion of the Christ on DVD.

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