REVIEWS BY NETTA GILBOA & CHRISTOPHER SCHANOT
DVD titles are reviewed using either a Panasonic A110 or a Creative Labs Encore PC-DVD (using the latest drivers) which is installed in a Pentium II 300 MHz with 64mb RAM running Windows98. All titles are recent releases, even though some are of the films are years old. Because DVD is a new medium, older titles are being released as new product. This will be true for some time to come.
8MM (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 123 minutes) Nicholas Cage stars in this thriller about a private investigator hired to trace the origin of a snuff film. Snuff films are films where reportedly real women are killed in order to make the film, and the appeal is to see sex combined with death and ultimately to watch a murder on film. Little hard evidence exists that they are made, and most of the so-called snuff films turn out to be pretty obviously faked. Yet many people, myself included, believe some do exist and the public curiosity of wanting to believe lends itself well to a plot like this. While many in the adult industry hated this film, I thought it did a superb job of showing this is not what the adult industry is about, and that the people who sell fetish films draw the line at selling this as well. Cage is terrific as usual, although his acting skills outshine the plot at times. Still, this is well worth seeing if you like Cage, are interested in the myths surrounding snuff films, or simply want a good DVD filled with extras. The DVD includes choice of digitally mastered anamorphic widescreen and standard formats, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, director's audio commentary, making of featurette, production notes, theatrical trailer, talent biographies and chapter search.
ALIEN 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION (Twentieth Century Fox Home Video, 116 minutes) The first of the four films in this sci-fi masterpiece, this introduces Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, a woman who confronts the worst creature imaginable and lives. It all starts when the crew of a spaceship discovers a new life form and gets slain one by one until only Ripley is left. The DVD contains an anamorphic widescreen presentation of the film (2.35:1, enhanced for 16 x 9), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, Spanish subtitles, audio commentary by Ridley Scott, interactive menus, theatrical trailer, chapter search and a large archive section which includes original storyboards, isolated behind-the-scenes footage, conceptual artwork, cast bios, annotated history of the film, etc. This is available either individually or in a boxed set that includes all four films as well as a special bonus disc with a documentary which has never been released before. Highly recommended for sci-fi fans, horror fans, those who admire special effects and/or fans of Sigourney Weaver.
ALIENS SPECIAL EDITION (Twentieth Century Fox Home Video, 138 minutes) Sigourney Weaver reprises her role as Ripley in this sequel to the popular film. As the only survivor of mankind's first encounter with the Alien, she is not believed until suddenly the space colonists who have settled on the Alien's planet and who have been faithfully transmitting reports suddenly cease to communicate. Ripley joins a team who goes to investigate the disappearance of the space colonists and, not surprisingly, they encounter the Alien. Considered by many to be better than the original film, this is full of great acting, terror and suspense and lots of great special effects. The DVD contains an anamorphic widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1, enhanced for 16 x 9), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, Spanish subtitles, theatrical trailer, an interview with director James Cameron, behind-the-scenes footage and photographs, special edition footage, production artwork, original advertising materials, cast bios and chapter search. The Special Edition of Aliens contains over 20 minutes of added footage and the disc is THX-certified. This is one of those rare DVDs that does everything right and is highly recommended for those that love sci-fi, horror, Sigourney Weaver's acting, and/or superbly made DVDs.
ALIEN 3 (Twentieth Century Fox Home Video, 115 minutes) Sigourney Weaver is back in this third film in the hit sci-fi series. Reprising her role as Ripley, she is the only survivor of a crash and has landed in a spot inhabited by former inmates of the planet's maximum security prison. She suspects an Alien was aboard her spaceship, and her fears are confirmed when the bodies of her crew members begin to turn up mutilated. She then leads the inmates into battle against the creature. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (2.35:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, a 23 minute making-of documentary, Spanish subtitles, theatrical trailer for this and the other films in the series, and chapter search. Highly recommended.
ARACHNOPHOBIA (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 110 minutes) John Goodman, Julian Sands and Jeff Daniels star in this family oriented horror film which was produced by Steven Spielberg and Frank Marshall. It's about a man whose greatest fear is being confronted by a spider. He moves his family to a small town and quickly discovers the town is overrun with spiders who are harming the townspeople. He must confront and conquer his phobia in order to save the town. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, production featurette, theatrical trailer and chapter search. This is a wonderful change from horror films full of alien creatures as well as slasher titles full of splatter and gore. Highly recommended for those who like horror, spiders, and/or special effects.
THE ASSOCIATE (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 114 minutes) Whoopi Goldberg stars in one of her best films, and one of my all-time favorite films in general about a female executive who experiences sexism in the workplace. She dresses up as a man (Tootsie reversed) and becomes Wall Street's hottest financial whiz with her new bogus associate. The comedy also stars Tim Daly, Dianne West, Bebe Neuwirth, Eli Wallach and Lainie Kazan. The DVD offers a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, French language track, theatrical trailer and chapter search. This is a must-see film which is both humorous and tragic at the same time since the sexism portrayed is very much how the business world still operates. Highly recommended.
BAABA MAAL LIVE AT THE ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL (Palm Pictures/Rykodisc USA) Filmed, recorded and mixed with DVD in mind, this 1998 concert film features Senegalese pop superstar Baaba Maal and his band Daande Lenol with special guests Ernest Ranglin, Ira Coleman, The Screaming Orphans and Choir Connexion. Combining the tribal rhythms of Africa with contemporary rock sounds, as well as Funk and Reggae influences, Maal is at his finest here, and filmed in an ideal location too since London's Royal Festival Hall is known worldwide for its fine acoustics. The DVD contains the concert which runs over 70 minutes, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound and 5.1 DTS Surround Sound audio, photo gallery, interactive menu, interview footage, song sampler, web link, and chapter search. This will delight his many fans, as well as expose his music to a new, larger audience hungry for both music discs and discs which feature DTS sound.
BED OF ROSES (New Line Home Video, 88 minutes) Christian Slater and Mary Stuart Masterson star in this romantic comedy about a woman who receives flowers from a secret admirer and sets out to find him and get to know him better. The two end up falling in love, but she gets cold feet and has to find herself before she can fully appreciate him. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (1.85:1) and standard presentations of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, theatrical trailer, music video by Jann Arden performing "Insensitive," cast and crew filmographies and biographies, and chapter search. Thoroughly engrossing, this love story is highly recommended for anyone who has ever been afraid to take a risk.
BELOVED (Touchstone Home Video, 171 minutes) Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover star in this drama which was adapted from a book by Toni Morrison. Directed by Jonathan Demme, and featuring Thandie Newton and Lisa Gay Hamilton in supporting roles, the plot here involves a woman who finds herself constantly confronted by secrets from her past. Out of the blue an old friend reappears and she attempts with his help to rediscover who she is and regain her lost sense of hope and her freedom. Offering moving performances, subtle but effective costumes and rich rapport between the cast, this is highly recommended for those interested in self-discovery. The DVD includes a digitally mastered widescreen print of the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, French language track, production featurette, theatrical trailer and chapter search. Well done.
BLAST FROM THE PAST (New Line Home Video, 112 minutes) Brendan Fraser and Alicia Silverstone star in this romantic comedy about a boy who was born and raised in a bomb shelter where he has lived for 35 years. He emerges seeking supplies and meets a modern L.A. woman who profoundly changes his life. The DVD contains choice of widescreen and standard prints of the film (2.35:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, a love meter game, theatrical trailer, cast and crew biographies and filmographies, and chapter search. For those with DVD players inside their computers, the disc also contains screenplay access, web links, a series of "Bomb Shelter" games including trivia, bingo, and poker, printable swing dance steps, and Internet postcards. New Line's films are all superb and this is no exception. This is highly recommended to those who enjoyed Pleasantville, are fans of the actors, and/or those who enjoy comedies and love stories. Well done.
CAR, THE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 96 minutes) James Brolin, Kathleen Lloyd, John Marley and Ronny Cox star in this horror film about a black sedan which is terrorizing residents of Santa Ynaz. No one knows who is driving it, or where the car came from, but it's on a rampage and the local sheriff must try to destroy it. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (2.35:1 enhanced for 16 x 9) or standard presentations of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, talent bios, theatrical trailer, chapter search and a four-page paper booklet about how the film came to be made. This is a sleeper film which will appeal to those who are interested in car films such as Christine and Trucks, as well as those interested in Satanism (Anton LaVey served as a technical advisor) and/or horror films in general.
CLERKS (Miramax Home Entertainment, 92 minutes) This comedic cult film is about a day in the life of two friends who work behind the counter in stores. One works in a convenience store, and the other at a video store located right next door. During the course of their day they wait on customers, discuss sex endlessly, play hockey on the roof and straighten out their love lives. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), Dolby Surround sound, deleted scenes, audio commentary track by the director and members of the cast and crew, an alternate ending to the film, music video by Soul Asylum and chapter search. Highly recommended for anyone who has ever felt alienated at work, anyone who has ever worked behind the counter of a store or in customer service, and for those who like slice-of-life films.
CRUEL INTENTIONS (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 97 minutes) Reese Witherspoon Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillipe star in this erotic revenge film about a pair of siblings who make a wild bet involving whether the guy can get a virgin into bed. Neither counts on his falling in love with her and it changes both of their lives forever. While this was definitely made to capture the teen market who contributes the most to theatrical box office receipts, there is something here for everyone no matter how many years it has been since you were a teen. The DVD includes digitally mastered 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, an anamorphic widescreen print of the film, filmmakers' audio commentary, six deleted scenes, two featurettes, music videos by Placebo and Marcy Playground, interactive menus, theatrical trailers, production notes, filmographies and chapter search. Well done.
DANGEROUS MINDS (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 99 minutes) Michelle Pfeiffer stars in this true story about a former U.S. Marine who becomes a high school teacher and is assigned to a group of tough-but-smart inner city kids. In order to reach and motivate them she is forced to defy rules and invent new techniques. Pfeiffer is superb in this film which is surely one of her best roles ever, and the hard-hitting messages about the importance of education and that teachers can learn from students as well as teach them make this an unforgettable film. The DVD includes a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, French language track with Dolby Surround sound, a music video of Coolio performing "Gangsta's Paradise" and chapter search. Highly recommended to those who like Pfeiffer, films about education, good dramas, and films that make you think while they are entertaining.
ENEMY OF THE STATE (Touchstone Home Video, 132 minutes) Will Smith and Gene Hackman star in this action-thriller about a successful attorney who is given a videotape without his knowledge. Since the tape ties a leader of the NSA to a political murder, the NSA make his life hell in an attempt to get the tape back and to silence him while he has no clue why he is even being harassed. Needless to say the film is full of non-stop action and great chase scenes, and is enhanced by a supporting cast of actors which includes Jon Voight, Regina King and Jake Busey. The DVD includes a standard presentation of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, production featurette, French language track, filmmakers' featurette, theatrical trailer and chapter search. This is highly recommended for those who are fans of the actors, into conspiracy theories, enjoy the action genre and/or are looking for a film to get lost in for a few hours to forget real life.
FAREWELL MY LOVELY (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P./Artisan Home Entertainment Inc., 98 minutes) Robert Mitchum, Charlotte Rampling, Sylvia Miles, Sylvester Stallone and Harry Dean Stanton star in this film-noir mystery. It's about a convict who hires private eye Philip Marlowe to find his missing sweetheart. As soon as Marlowe starts looking for her he finds himself beaten unconscious and wakes up next to a corpse. Not willing to give up, he explores the nightclubs and back alleys of Los Angeles until he solves the case. The DVD contains Dolby Digital sound and chapter search.
FLIRTING WITH DISASTER (Miramax Home Entertainment, 92 minutes) Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, Alan Alda, Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal and Lily Tomlin star in this comedy about a man who is searching for his biological parents. He travels across the country following false leads, bringing along his wife and his adoption counselor. He begins to bond with and fall for the adoption counselor, and his wife has roving eyes as well. When they finally meet his real parents they turn out to be a bunch of Deadhead LSD users. While clearly outrageous, this is also a lot of fun and offers many stars in bizarre roles. The DVD includes a widescreen presentation of the film in its original theatrical aspect ratio (1.85:1), Dolby surround sound and chapter search. A must for Deadheads and fans of the 1960s, this will also appeal to anyone who likes comedy, cult movies and/or any of the actors. Highly recommended.
FORTRESS (Artisan Home Entertainment, Inc., 95 minutes) Christopher Lambert stars in this sci-fi film about a future in which couples may only have one child and are forbidden to have more. After losing their baby, a couple dares to have another and they get caught trying to cross a border. They are sentenced to a harsh prison, run by a sadistic warden, where computers are used to control prisoners' minds and bodies and infants are used to create a new type of robots. Can they escape? The DVD includes a digitally mastered standard presentation of the film, 2.0 Dolby Surround sound, interactive menus, production notes, theatrical trailer, cast and crew information, and chapter search. This is a very well done film which should even appeal to those who don't care much for typical sci-fi films. Highly recommended to those interested in sci-fi, family values, and films about abuses of power.
FRANCES (Republic Entertainment, Inc./Artisan Home Entertainment, Inc. 113 minutes) Jessica Lange stars in this shocking and compelling drama about actress Frances Farmer who was a movie star in the 1930s. Through a chain of events she ended up arrested and committed against her will to a barbaric mental institution. This is a true story, and not a pleasant one, but it's important to realize what happened to her, and how easily one's life can slip away. The DVD contains a digitally mastered widescreen presentation of the film (16:9), 2.0 Dolby Surround sound, interactive menus and chapter search. Lange is superb, as always, in this and the film will appeal to those interested in Farmer's life, Lange's acting, film history and/or psychiatry and mental institutions. Well done.
HOLY MAN (Touchstone Home Video, 114 minutes) Eddie Murphy, Kelly Preston, Jeff Goldblum and Jon Cryer star in this poignant comedy about an executive at a shopping channel who meets a holy man that boosts his business. The guru influences sales and becomes a television sensation who exudes charisma, trust and wisdom. Along the way he teaches the executive a great deal about good living. The DVD contains a digitally mastered widescreen print of the film (2.35:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio and chapter search. Highly recommended for Murphy fans as well as for a lighthearted spoof of infomercials, shopping and consumer behavior. This is a great social commentary on fame, leaders and celebrity.
HURLYBURLY (New Line Home Video, 123 minutes) An all-star cast including Sean Penn, Meg Ryan, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright Penn, Garry Shandling, Chazz Palminteri and Anna Paquin star in this black comedy which is an adaptation of a play. It's about a high powered casting director who along with his pals engages in a life of wild partying and nonstop drug use until life in the fast lane finally comes to a halt. The DVD, like all New Line titles, includes a wealth of superb extras. There's a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, two audio commentaries (including one with Sean Penn) which deal with everything from the process of writing and directing the film to social commentary on the issues and themes of the story, cast and crew filmographies and biographies, theatrical trailer, chapter search and a full color picture disc. There's nothing funny here, but the film is nonetheless superbly done and while you may not like the characters and their choice of lifestyle, this is a no-holds-barred look at that lifestyle and I found it very believable and well done. Highly recommended if you like the actors and/or films about Hollywood and/or drug abuse.
IN LOVE AND WAR (New Line Home Video, 113 minutes) Sandra Bullock and Chris O'Donnell star in this romance film based on real life experiences of Ernest Hemingway and the romance which prompted him to write A Farewell To Arms. At age eighteen, Hemingway was a soldier who became injured and was nursed back to health by a nurse he later fell in love with. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (2.35:1) and standard presentations of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, theatrical trailer, cast and crew biographies and filmographies, interactive menus and chapter search. This is a must for fans of the actors or of Hemingway's writing as well as for those interested in war and/or romance films.
JAWBREAKER (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 87 minutes) Rose McGowan, Julie Benz, Rebecca Gayheart, Carol Kane, Pam Grier, PJ Soles and Marilyn Manson appear in this teen film about an accidental death as the result of a birthday kidnapping prank. Those present cover up the death in order to retain high school popularity until it all comes to a head on prom night. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (1.85:1) or standard versions of the film, digitally mastered audio and video, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, director's commentary, production notes, interactive menus, theatrical trailers, talent/ filmographies and chapter search. A superb dark comedy and future cult film, this will appeal to those who like Heathers and/or films about high school and teen life in general. Well done.
LAST FLIGHT OF NOAH'S ARK (Anchor Bay Entertainment, 97 minutes) Rick Schroder, Elliot Gould an Genevieve Bujold team up to star in this family adventure about a perilous journey when a plane strays off course. A pilot, a stowaway and her two children are then stranded along with a lot of animals which the pilot was in the process of delivering to a client. In order to survive, the plane has to be converted to a sea vessel and the crew must sail towards civilization. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (1.85:1) and standard presentations of the film, Dolby Digital sound and chapter search. Recommended for animal lovers of all ages as well as parents looking for films the whole family can enjoy.
LITTLEST HORSE THIEVES, THE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, 104 minutes) Aliastair Sim, Peter Barkworth, Maurice Colbourne and Susan Tebbs star in this family adventure which is set in 1909. It's about two little boys who tend an underground stable and discover the ponies they care for are going to be slaughtered once new machinery comes in. The boys then steal the ponies in order to free them and save their lives. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (1.85:1) and standard presentations of the film, Dolby Digital sound and chapter search. An excellent selection for horse lovers of all ages, as well as those looking for quality programming for children.
LOVE JONES (New Line Home Video, 110 minutes) Larenz Tate and Nia Long star, along with Bill Belamy, Isaiah Washington and Lisa Nicole Carson, in this romantic comedy which comes from a phrase defining love jones as "a strong overwhelming desire for someone." The film is about a photographer and a writer who belong together but are quite confused. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (1.85:1) and standard versions of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, music video by Refugee Camp All-Stars featuring Lauryn Hill, theatrical trailer, cast and crew biographies and filmographies, and chapter search. If you enjoy relationship films such as When Harry Met Sally and Annie Hall, this one is sure to delight as well.
MIGHTY, THE (Miramax Home Entertainment, 100 minutes) Sharon Stone, Gillian Anderson, Gena Rowlands and Kieran Culkin star in this touching drama about the friendship between two boys. One is physically handicapped and the other is emotionally scarred, yet together the boys make a superb team and each helps the other overcome their limitations. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, production featurette, music video by Sting and chapter search. This is a must for the entire family and will be enjoyed equally by children and adults. Highly recommended to fans of films like Stand By Me and those interested in themes of friendship, growing up and overcoming challenges.
MONKEY MAGIC (Bandai Entertainment, Inc./Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 112 minutes) This anime title includes the first five episodes of the TV series and has incredible 2D and #d computer generated graphics. The plot involves a monkey made of stone named Kongo who must defeat an evil prince in order to restore order to the land. The DVD contains Dolby Digital sound, and chapter search. This will appeal to all ages, but especially to those who love battles between good and evil and the kinds of graphics found on today's best video games. Highly recommended to those who like anime and/or animation.
NEWTON BOYS, THE (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 122 minutes) Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Skeet Ulrich, Vincent D'Onofrio, Dwight Yokum and Julianna Margulies star in this action adventure film about four outlaw brothers. With over 80 successful bank robberies under their belt, the brothers plan a Federal Reserve train robbery. While initially the brothers dreamed of getting rich, they ended up making history. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (2.35:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, interactive menus, theatrical trailer, Spanish subtitles and chapter search. If you're interested in true crime and/or action films this is extremely well done.
NIXON (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 191 minutes) Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins, Mary Steenburgen, James Woods, Paul Sorvino, Joan Allen and Powers Booth star in this drama about the rise and fall of American President Richard Nixon. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (2.35:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track, and chapter search. This will appeal to those interested in historical events, politics, the superb cast and/or the drama genre.
NORTH AVENUE IRREGULARS, THE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, 100 minutes) Cloris Leachman, Michael Constantine, Karen Valentine, Barbara Harris and Susan Clark star in this comedy the whole family can enjoy. It's about a struggling church which loses all their funds when a member bets it all on a horse race and loses. The bookie won't return their money and so six female church members go undercover in order to bust the crime syndicate. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (1.66:1) and standard presentations of the film, Dolby Digital sound and chapter search.
OUT OF THE BLUE (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc., 93 minutes) Dennis Hopper directed this drama which he stars in along with Raymond Burr, Linda Manz and Sharon Farrell. It's about an alienated teenager who is a big fan of punk rock. Her father is a convict and her mother is a junkie. She runs away from home, and after being persuaded to return finds that the happy family she was promised still does not exist. She is reminded of sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of her father and finally lashes out in revenge at him. The DVD includes a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1), audio commentary with Dennis Hopper and executive producer Paul Lewis, Dolby Digital mono sound, theatrical trailer, radio spot and chapter search. Definitely a cult film, this is a superb portrayal of incest and the secrecy that often surrounds incestuous families. Well done.
PLENTY (Republic Entertainment, Inc./Artisan Home Entertainment, Inc., 120 minutes) Meryl Streep stars in this drama as a not very likeable British woman who loved working for the underground during World War II, but who has not found any satisfaction in her life since the war ended. Also appearing are Sting, Tracey Ullman, Ian McKellen, John Gielgud and Sam Neill. The film makes great use of sound, and although the plot is weak in some respects this still has much to offer. The DVD includes a digitally mastered widescreen print of the film (16:9), 2.0 Dolby Surround sound, interactive menus and chapter search. Worth having if you are a fan of the actors, enjoy films about World War II, and/or are interested in the themes of passion, diplomacy and self-deception.
PSYCHIC KILLER (Elite Entertainment, 89 minutes) Falsely accused of murder and locked up for years in an insane asylum, a man develops psychic powers and seeks revenge upon his release. He begins killing those who he feels wronged him including a psychiatrist who testified against him and a nurse who helped have him committed. The police then begin looking for him. Directed by Raymond Danton, this stars Paul Burke, Jim Hutton and Nehemiah Persoff. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), theatrical trailer and chapter search. This offers graphic violence, lots of suspense, and is highly recommended to horror fans.
READY TO WEAR (Miramax Home Entertainment, 133 minutes) Robert Altman directed this comedy about the fashion industry and stars Sophia Loren, Julia Roberts, Tim Robbins, Kim Basinger, Lauren Bacall, Lili Taylor, Sally Kellerman, Tracey Ullman, Danny Aiello, Teri Garr, Forest Whitaker, Lyle Lovett, and Richard E. Grant. It's about a murder that takes place at a fashion show and makes everyone present a suspect. It's a great spoof on models, fashion and celebrity with a cast befitting the plot. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (2.20:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, theatrical trailer and chapter search. Highly recommended for fans of Altman films and/or any of the actors, those interested in the world of fashion and those interested in mystery films that offer lots of suspects.
RUSHMORE (Touchstone Home Video, 93 minutes) Jason Schwartzman, Olivia Williams and Bill Murray star in this poignant story about a rebellious teenager at a private school who is popular but a poor student. He falls in love with a teacher and then finds himself competing for her affection with an adult who is both a steel tycoon and the father of two of his classmates. Winner of many awards and named best film of the year by Premiere, Village Voice and New York Daily News, this combines a superb script with a great role for Bill Murray and many memorable lines. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (2.35:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, theatrical trailer and chapter search. Highly recommended.
SALT OF THE EARTH (Pioneer Entertainment (USA) L.P., 94 minutes) This is the only blacklisted American film ever made and released, not surprisingly despite enormous challenges by both the government and studio heads such as Howard Hughes. It's a drama based on the 1950s strike in New Mexico by zinc miners who were upset at labor relations, minority rights and the treatment of women. Selected by the Library of Congress as one of 100 films to be preserved for posterity, this is only now being given the treatment it deserved all along. The DVD contains a wealth of material for those interested in issues of history, censorship, and the McCarthy era blacklistings. There's a digitally enhanced transfer of the film, a short documentary called The Hollywood Ten about the ten blacklisted Hollywood men, a chronicle of the troubled production and distribution of the film, the history of the blacklist in Hollywood, congressional testimony of the blacklisted filmmakers, history and photos of the strike the film is based on, hundreds of production photos, theatrical trailer, Dolby Digital sound, editing and shooting notes, biographies and filmographies and chapter search. Highly recommended for those interested in unions, labor and strikes, film history, Communism, censorship and equality.
SHORT 1:4 (DVDMAGS, Inc., distributed by Warner Bros., 82 minutes) This DVD magazine for film lovers features short films with a central theme and this time the theme is seduction. Offering 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, alternate audio tracks, alternate video tracks, an interactive menu, ability to access the storyboard and to hear filmmakers' commentary, this is a wonderful way to discover new films and new directors. Included here are nine films including Anticipating Sarah, Tale About The Cat And The Moon, Kom, Tunnel of Love, This Is Hardcore, Lily and Jim, T.R.A.N.S.I.T., Hisao, and The Last Supper. The films deal with a look at lottery winners, the band Pulp, sexual seduction and addiction. Several of the films are animated as well. As always this is a wonderful collection, and those new to DVD are encouraged to obtain the entire set which at present contains four issues with a fifth one promised shortly. Highly recommended for originality, innovation and the little gems you will fall in love with on each disc.
A SIMPLE PLAN (Paramount Pictures, 121 minutes) Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Brent Biscoe and Bridget Fonda star in this Sam Raimi thriller about three men who find four million dollars in the woods. Full of suspense, mistrust, murder and psychological terror, this film will have you at the edge of your seat and does not disappoint. Nothing brings out the worst in people like having them try to share financial winnings, and this film raises the question of whether crime ever really pays. The DVD contains an anamorphic widescreen presentation of the film (16 x 9), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, interactive menus, theatrical trailer and chapter search. Highly recommended .
SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK...FOR MORE (Trimark Home Video, 89 minutes) Also known as Frozen and Ice Station Erebus, this horror film based loosely on characters created by Stephen King is the third movie in a series. The plot involves two military officers who are sent out to investigate a government outpost in Antartica where some crew members are dead and others are missing. They find two survivors, a medical officer and a tech officer but are initially unsure who to trust or what has gone on there. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film, 2.0 Dolby Surround sound, interactive menus, theatrical trailer, foreign subtitles and chapter search. This is worth having if you liked the first two films in the series as parts of this are arguably better. The plot does fall apart mid-way through though, and may disappoint those expecting more from a film which uses an idea originally developed by Stephen King.
SPY HARD (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 81 minutes) Leslie Nielsen is at his best in this very amusing action comedy which is a spoof of spy and action films. Niccollette Sheridan, Charles Durning, Barry Bostwick and Andy Griffith also star in this spoof of everything from James Bond films to Jurassic Park to Mission Impossible. The DVD contains a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, French language track, production featurette, theatrical trailer and chapter search. A must for Nielsen fans as well as those who recognize the films being spoofed, this will also appeal to those who enjoy slapstick comedy and action films in general.
STILL CRAZY (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 95 minutes) Stephen Rea, Billy Connolly, Bill Nighy and Juliet Aubrey star in this comedic cult film which follows in the footsteps of This Is Spinal Tap. It's about an imaginary 1970s rock band called Strange Fruit who are now reuniting two decades later. Featuring the music of Mick Jones (Foreigner) and Chris Difford (Squeeze), the film has a number of Strange Fruit tunes, as well as plenty of gags about life on the road as the band members try to get along. The DVD contains choice of widescreen (1.85:1) and standard presentations of the film, 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, making-of featurette, interactive menus, theatrical trailer, production notes, talent and filmographies, chapter search, foreign subtitles, and a four page paper booklet inside the box which explains how the film came to be made.
TENDER MERCIES (Republic Entertainment, Inc./Artisan Home Entertainment, Inc., 88 minutes) Robert Duvall, Tess Harper and Betty Buckley star in this drama about an alcoholic who was once a great country singer. He meets a widow and ends up marrying her and bonding with her son, which gives him the courage to sober up. The DVD contains a digitally mastered widescreen print of the film (16:9), 2.0 Dolby Surround sound, interactive menus and chapter search. This will appeal to those who love country music, former alcoholics, and anyone who can relate to hard times and improving one's lot in life. Well done.
THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU'RE DEAD (Miramax Home Entertainment, 115 minutes) Andy Garcia, Christopher Walken, Gabrielle Anwar, Christopher Lloyd, Treat Williams, Jack Warden, William Forsythe and Steve Buscemi star in this top-notch thriller. The plot involves a mob boss who gives an ex-gangster one last job to do which, of course, goes wrong. Suddenly the ex-gangster and his pals are marked for death and have just 48 hours to straighten it all out. The DVD includes a widescreen presentation of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, production featurette, theatrical trailer, and chapter search. This is one of my favorite thrillers with a plot that is more original than I have made it sound, and it holds up to repeated viewings as well. Highly recommended.
WAITING TO EXHALE (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc., 124 minutes) Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett star in this film about four female friends who are each searching for Mr. Right and true love. One of them thought she had it all, until her husband left her for a woman he was having an affair with. Two others are successful in business but have no luck at love and the fourth woman is a divorcee just now getting back in the game by flirting with her new next door neighbor. The DVD contains a widescreen print of the film (1.85:1), 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, interactive menus, Spanish subtitles, theatrical trailer and chapter search. This is an excellent adaptation of the book by Terry McMillan. Highly recommended for Whitney's many fans, those who enjoy films of females bonding and those interested in the score done by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.