FullReviews Index - page 2
DVD Pick: "Born Into Brothels"
Born Into Brothels won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and many other prizes. When I watched it on DVD, I found it very moving. Also, the extras on the DVD enriched my experience of watching the documentary. Read a review of this movie on DVD.
DVD Pick: "The River"
The River is an English-language Technicolor film that was directed and co-written by the legendary Jean Renoir. While I don't think this movie reaches the level of Renoir's great French-language films Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game, I nonetheless consider it a splendid cinematic achievement. Read a review of The River on DVD.
DVD Pick: "Downfall"
Downfall (2004) captures the moral bankruptcy of the Third Reich better than any other movie I know. It's a German-language docudrama that chronicles the final days of Hitler and his inner circle, and Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire) gives by far the best portrayal I've seen of the Nazi leader. The movie was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Read a review of Downfall on DVD.
DVD Pick: "The Philadelphia Story"
There are certain films I like to renew my acquaintance with every few years, and one of these is "The Philadelphia Story" (1940), which stars Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart. This is a witty, sophisticated movie that, in addition to dazzling star power, features elegant direction by George Cukor and a brilliant, non-formulaic screenplay.
DVD Pick: "East of Eden"
East of Eden stars James Dean in his first major movie role, and I personally think it is the best film he ever appeared in. Now at last it has become available on DVD. Dean is probably most famous for his performances in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, but those movies seem to me dated. In contrast, East of Eden still feels fresh to me, and I attribute that primarily to the fact that it was directed by Elia Kazan. Read a DVD review of East of Eden.
DVD Pick: "The Aviator"
Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won five. I think this movie was one of 2004's very best. I found it extremely entertaining, both in the theater and at home. On DVD, The Aviator comes as a two-disc set containing a rich assortment of extras. Read a review of The Aviator on DVD.
DVD Pick: "Team America: World Police"
I got quite a few big laughs out of Team America: World Police, a comedy whose characters are puppets. This movie is from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park, and the humor is crude, profane, sophomoric, and aggressively irreverent. Read a review of this movie on DVD
DVD Pick: "Kinsey"
Liam Neeson and Laura Linney star in the biopic Kinsey about American sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. I found the acting in this movie to be at a very high level throughout, particularly by the two leads. Neeson gives a fine performance as the controversial title character, and Linney's portrayal of Kinsey's wife garnered her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
DVD Pick: "The Phantom of the Opera"
It was quite a few years ago that I saw Andrew Lloyd Webber's blockbuster stage musical The Phantom of the Opera at the Los Angeles Music Center, and I remember having a good time. When the film version finally came out in 2004, roughly two-thirds of the reviews were negative, and I never got around to seeing it on the big screen. But now Phantom has been released on DVD, and although it was with trepidation that I sat down to watch it, I have to say I ended up thoroughly enjoying myself.
DVD Pick: "Closer"
Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen all give fine performances in "Closer" (2004), a talky drama directed by Mike Nichols. The screenwriter was Patrick Marber, who adapted his own stage play. Read a full-length review of the movie Closer on DVD.
DVD Pick: "Vera Drake"
Vera Drake is a powerful British drama that was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. As far as I am concerned, the movie was one of 2004's best.
DVD Pick: "The Motorcycle Diaries"
Directed by Walter Salles, the Spanish-language The Motorcycle Diaries stars Gael García Bernal in the role of Che Guevara. The film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Although the movie drew me in slowly, by the end I was carried away by the high level of craft, including the strong performances by the lead actors, the superb cinematography and music, and the emotional power of the story.
DVD Pick: "Carmen"
Opening with shots of a bloody bull being tormented by a matador, Francesco Rosi's Carmen is a crowd-pleasing screen adaptation of Georges Bizet's 1875 French-language opera. In addition to shooting at locations in southern Spain, Rosi assembled a cast of photogenic singer-actors. I believe these elements, along with the fact that some of the music is familiar to many people, make Rosi's Carmen the most accessible of the filmed operas for the general moviegoing public.
DVD Pick: "La Traviata"
To my mind, Franco Zeffirelli's dazzlingly cinematic 1982 Italian-language movie version of Giuseppe Verdi's 1853 opera "La Traviata" is one of cinema's greatest combinations of filmmaking and musical performance. The movie offers extravagant sets, magnificent costumes, and charming locations, and the enjoyable music is of high caliber. Furthermore, the attractive singers are competent film actors, particularly stars Teresa Stratas and Plácido Domingo.
DVD Pick: "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster"
A heavy metal band with a mission statement and a therapist?According to the behind-the-music documentary Metallica Some Kind of Monster, that was the case during the period 2001-2003 for the rock group Metallica as they prepared their album "St. Anger. I am only passingly familiar with Metallica and their drummer Lars Ulrich, but I found the film absolutely fascinating. There really isn't all that much music in the movie, and I would say it is basically a psychodrama.
DVD Pick: "Friday Night Lights"
A prairie town whose main cultural feature is a big football stadium. That's the image given in the movie Friday Night Lights of its principal setting: Odessa, Texas. On the DVD, the movie's producer, Brian Grazer, says about the town's obsession with high school football, It is a religion. People go to that church every single Friday night.
DVD Pick: "The Decalogue"
When I reflect on all the movies and television programs I've viewed at home over the years, the DVD version of The Decalogue ranks high among the very best. "The Decalogue" is a drama cycle consisting of 10 episodes originally made for Polish TV, and I believe watching it is an experience no thoughtful person will want to miss.
DVD Pick: "Garden State"
Overall, I found Garden State to be funny and heartwarming, but I think what gives it some resonance is Braff's ability to show us certain numbing aspects of contemporary American life. Read a review of the movie Garden State on DVD.
DVD Pick: "The Manchurian Candidate"
Denzel Washington stars in The Manchurian Candidate, a political thriller directed by Jonathan Demme. This is an update of the famous 1962 film of the same name that starred Frank Sinatra and was directed by John Frankenheimer. Although I personally prefer the original, I nevertheless found the remake entertaining and thought-provoking in its own right.
DVD Pick: "Collateral"
Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx are the stars of Collateral, a compelling crime drama directed by Michael Mann. I found this movie's mix of strong acting, moody cinematography, and exciting action sequences very entertaining when I watched it on DVD. Read a review of Collateral on DVD.
DVD Pick: "The Terminal"
I was flying economy class on a ten-hour flight when The Terminal was shown, and what a welcome diversion it turned out to be. Now DreamWorks has released this comedy on DVD, and when I watched it at home, I enjoyed it even more. Read a review of The Terminal on DVD.
DVD Pick: "Before Sunset"
I recognize that Before Sunset is not a movie everyone will like. The central characters dont seem to me to be completely likable, and the film is extremely talky. Also, there are longueurs, and I think the movies dialogue feels artificially constructed. But for me, the film's strength is that it shows the many different ways we use language. Read a review of the movie Before Sunset on DVD.
DVD Pick: "Vanya on 42nd Street"
Vanya on 42nd Street is a richly textured, beautifully acted study of human nature and subtle, complex family dynamics. Read Ivana Redwine's review of this fascinating movie on DVD.
DVD Pick: "La Dolce vita"
Read a full-length reivew of Fellini's La Dolce vita on DVD.
DVD Pick: "Mean Streets"
Years ago, I saw Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets in a theater and loved it. As the years went by, Scorsese became famous for his great films Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas, but I consider Mean Streets to be at least as good as any of his movies. His later films are more polished and appeal to a wider audience, but I like the raw, personal feel of Mean Streets.