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Shadow of the Vampire (Widescreen)
Shadow of the Vampire (Widescreen)
DVD ~ John Malkovich
Offered by 5A/30 Entertainment
Price: CDN$ 63.39
16 used & new from CDN$ 6.87

5.0 out of 5 stars A fun, dark revisioning of Nosferatu, May 24 2002
This was one fun movie. The story is loosely based on the making on the silent classic NOSFERATU in 1922. It was directed by the German director, F.W. Murnau, and is considered one of the best (if not the best) vampire movies ever made. I still have memories as a kid watching it on TV. The scene where the vampire's shadow ascends the staircase gave me nightmares for weeks.
It was Murnau's radical idea (for that time) to film the novel DRACULA on location in an abandoned old castle in Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately, the estate of Bram Stoker wouldn't give Murnau the rights to film the novel. So he changed the plot very slightly and the name of his vampire from Count Dracula to Count Orlok.
The Count was played by an actor named Max Schreck, whose name is German for "Maximum Terror. The name fit him well. He is most unlike the vampires that one is used to in a vampire movie. He didn't have a flowing cape, was very ugly, had the ears of a rat, a bald head, long talons for fingernails, extremely dense and bushy eyebrows, and two pointed teeth in the front instead of fangs. He repulsed women instead of seducing them like the charming vampires later on like Bela Lugosi or Frank Langella.
The film was supposed to make Schreck an international star,but lawsuits from the Stoker estate stopped the film from wide distribution and he only did a few more films after. Little is known about him, and that's where the fun begins with SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE.
It's about the making of the silent film NOSFERATU, but it takes a lot of liberties with it. I want to make this clear - this is NOT a realistic account of how NOSFERATU was made. It is the premise of this new film that the director F.W. Murnau (played wonderfully by John Malkovich) would seemingly do anything to get his film made. For the vampire lead, he hires someone (Willem Dafoe) who thinks he is a real vampire - or is he? Murnau tells his cast that his choice for the role of Count Orlok is a theater actor named Max Schreck who likes to stay in character all the time, even when the camera's not running. He tells the cast just to play along with the demands of this strange actor. And the demands do get strange!
It was amazing how much Willem Dafoe's character resembled the original, and how well they recreated the scenes of the silent classic. There's a couple instances where they even inserted footage from the original, but unless you know NOSFERATU real well, you may not be able to tell.
I don't want to tell you anymore of the plot. Just go rent (or but) it and have a good time. There's parts that are funny, parts that are creepy, and even a part where Schreck talks about being a vampire with two of the crew that's a bit melancholic. It's not a real deep movie, but it will make for interesting conversation afterwards. The acting (with an Academy Award nomination for Willem Dafoe), art direction, cinematography, and soundtrack are terrific.
If you haven't seen NOSFERATU, you still should enjoy this movie. But if you have seen NOSFERATU before, you won't see it the same way again.

Nosferatu A Symphony Of Horror
Nosferatu A Symphony Of Horror
DVD ~ Max Schreck
Price: CDN$ 32.99
16 used & new from CDN$ 2.31

5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive DVD version of the definitive vampire film, May 24 2002
Filmed in 1922, the director F.W. Murnau set out to film an adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel Dracula. Although he couldn't get the rights to the novel, he pursued filming it anyway, changing the names of the characters and some of the plot points in the process. Stoker's widow sued the makers of Nosferatu for copyright infringement and won. All known prints of the film were destroyed as per the settlement. The German character actor Max Schreck played the vampire (now named Count Orlok) and was ready for international stardom. Since the film didn't make it to the theaters, fame eluded him in his lifetime.
Luckily years later, a print surfaced and the reputation of Nosferatu was restored. But why does it get such acclaim? A lot of viewers today find it old and dated, without the shocks and scares of modern gore-fests you currently see in the theaters and video stores. That's a shame because Nosferatu influenced a lot of those movies.
Modern viewers are more used to a "sexy" vampire. Since illicit sex is often the theme in vampire films, it makes more sense to be seduced by an attractive, exotic vampire. Count Orlok doesn't match that description in the least. He is repulsive-looking and resembles a rat.
And yet the underlying sex theme is still there. As it's pointed out on a DVD commentary, Count Orlok is the doppelgänger of Hutter, the male lead. Both vie for the attentions of Ellen. Though she is married to Hutter, she doesn't return his affections as strongly as he gives her. But to save the town, she gives herself freely to the vampire.
Of course, others see different themes in Nosferatu. Some view Count Orlok as a precursor to Hitler and the plague to Nazism, which would come a few years later. He even seems to give a Nazi salute as he dies.
And still others point out the many viewpoints through windows and the use of forbidding shots of nature, which show an influence of 19th century German painters like Caspar David Friedrich. Not to mention the equal influences of early 20th century German Expressionism with its use of stark shadows and unlit corners.
But you don't need to see any of that at first. You can enjoy it on its own merits as a very creepy horror film. One of my earliest memories of watching horror films was watching Nosferatu one October Saturday afternoon on TV. The scene where the vampire's shadow ascends the stairs on the way to his prey gave me nightmares for weeks and lingered in my memory until I saw it again twenty years later on video.
How ironic that Nosferatu is called A Symphony of Horror, when it's a silent film. But the audio tracks offered on the DVD from Image Entertainment do embellish the film well. Hitting the audio button on your DVD while the film plays will take you to your choice of three audio tracks recorded especially for this DVD. The first is a modern, quirky score by The Silent Orchestra. The second is a more traditional organ score by Timothy Howard. The third track is an illuminating commentary of the film by Lokke Heiss.
The goodies on the DVD don't stop there. The print itself has been remastered from high quality 35mm film and is restored to its original running time, as well as to its original color tints (although I think I preferred it in just black & white). A favorite feature of mine is the photo album of the locations used in Nosferatu as they appear in the film and how they look today.

M (The Criterion )Collection
M (The Criterion )Collection
DVD ~ Peter Lorre
Offered by 5A/30 Entertainment
Price: CDN$ 45.25
17 used & new from CDN$ 18.98

5.0 out of 5 stars A classic every film lover should see, Dec 1 2000
This review is from: M (The Criterion )Collection (DVD)
"M" has everything you could hope in a great film. The acting by Peter Lorre, Gustaf Gründgens, Otto Wernicke, and the rest of the cast all perfectly convey the different personalities in this complex story. The use of black & white and shadows is very moody and haunting. The use of sound is very important since it will tell you things the camera isn't showing. The camera work itself is amazing. I especially love the long shot in the beginning of the scene of the beggars are signing up to watch the streets where the camera moves back and forth, up and into a room through a window without a cut.
"M" offers so much for the viewer -- thrills, suspense, humor, terror! I enjoy it more and more with every repeated viewing. Fritz Lang does more than just give ideas on insane criminals. He compares and contrasts the police and the underworld criminal systems. You learn about the "state-of-the-art " systems of that time. And the last words harken a most important message that unfortunately is still true today. Also, if you look deeper, you can even sense Lang's anti-Nazi sentiments.
It's a Criterion Collection DVD, so I had high expectations. I was disappointed with a lack of extras, but I happily noticed scenes that weren't on my VHS version. The picture was mostly clear with white lines rarely popping up. There were long passages of no sound at times, but it's possible it's supposed to be like that. (I no longer have my VHS version to compare.) The subtitles were clear and easy to read. There's interesting details on the film in the liner notes. And not like this would influence anyone's buying decisions, but I also loved the design on the case and the disc.

Great White North
Great White North
Price: CDN$ 12.81
24 used & new from CDN$ 8.61

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This album is a beauty, Sept. 12 2000
This review is from: Great White North (Audio CD)
I think it rates up there with "Stairway To Heaven."

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
DVD ~ John Neville
Offered by 5A/30 Entertainment
Price: CDN$ 44.45
15 used & new from CDN$ 6.28

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not MY favorite of the trilogy, Aug. 10 2000
I seem to be definitely in the minority in these reviews, but I found THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN the worst of Terry Gilliam's trilogy (the other two films being TIME BANDITS and BRAZIL which I love). It wasn't a bad movie; just not a great one. It seemed to drag in parts. The first half hour of the film especially takes far too long to get into the story. Still, even Gilliam at his worst is often a lot more fun than most of the fantasy-based films out there.
The visuals are spectacular and you can definitely see where the money went (I read that this was one of the most expensive films made at that time). Terry Gilliam has an incredible imagination and is able to translate his vision to the screen. I was convinced the Baron could fly holding a cannonball!
The actors seemed to have a good time making it. John Neville uses the proper restraint in his roll to make his character believable while in unbelievable situations. Uma Thurman is incredibly beautiful as Venus. Robin Williams and Eric Idle have a lot of fun in their roles.
Aside from the slow pace in parts, I also am disappointed in the lack of features on this DVD. Where's the onscreen commentary or the behind-the-scenes features? Terry Gilliam did such a great job on the TIME BANDITS and especially the Criterion Collection BRAZIL, I'm surprised that a film that he spent so much time and money into lacks these extras. Perhaps even Terry Gilliam doesn't like this film as much as his others?

Jaws (Widescreen) [Import]
Jaws (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Roy Scheider
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 49.69
16 used & new from CDN$ 1.19

5.0 out of 5 stars You definitely want the DVD widescreen version, Aug. 9 2000
This review is from: Jaws (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
A lot of people I know criticize widescreen format videos and DVDs. They say it looks like part of the movie is cut off. JAWS is the film I use to convert them. I show them the video I own in pan-and-scan mode, usually a scene where the shark pops out of the water when Brody, Hooper, and Quint are on the boat. Then I show them the DVD widescreen version.
What a difference! In the first version, you can only see most of the shark's head and one of the people on board. In the widescreen, you see everyone. Spielberg has a terrific eye and knows how to compose a frame. And the widescreen format is the only way to do justice to this fun and scary film.
The new DVD also has terrific and rich color. The sound is great and will remind you why John William's soundtrack is famous 25 years later. But you can also hear other sound effects Spielberg stuck in, like a muted dinosaur roar when the shark is sinking at the end. This, along with many other interesting tidbits, was revealed to me with a behind-the-scenes featurette that comes with the extras on the DVD. There's interviews with the cast members today, as well as a fun trivia game. I also found the deleted scenes interesting, although I'm glad Spielberg didn't use them. The extras gave me a glimpse on how a film is made. When I rewatched the film, I had a new outlook to what went into it. The outtakes and the photo gallery were useless, but don't let that stop you from buying this. If you're a fan of the film, you will want to own this.

Until the End of the World
Until the End of the World
Offered by USA_Seller_4_Canada
Price: CDN$ 44.47
37 used & new from CDN$ 1.22

5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite soundtrack, June 6 2000
The only reason I bought this CD many years ago was for the Talking Heads song "Sax and Violins" which wasn't released on any of their albums except for a greatest hits double album. Being a cheapass, I preferred to buy this album instead and was rewarded with the best soundtrack album I own.
I had never heard of a lot of the artists on the album before (such as Crime and the City Solution and T-Bone Burnett), but now I've become a fan of them. The director of the film, Wim Wenders, used to say in interviews that he wanted to be known for the sounds in his films more than the visuals. While I think his visuals are extraordinary, he does come up with great soundtracks. THE END OF THE WORLD is haunting, beautiful, and lingering.
I've had a few friends ask what weird music I'm listening to. Soon they're converts who plan on buying it for themselves.

DVD ~ Michael Keaton
Offered by Permaculture Solutions
Price: CDN$ 19.95
31 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Very influential film deserves better DVD treatment, May 26 2000
This review is from: Batman (DVD)
BATMAN is one of the most influential films in recent years. Not only did it bring back the comic superhero genre into film, but it turned the genre upside down. No longer do superheros have to be so darned happy all the time in bright colorful costumes with amazing super powers like Superman, who fight crime just because it's the nice thing to do. Since then, superheros on the screen are motivated by revenge and dress darker to blend more into their surroundings (The Crow, Blade, Punisher). With BATMAN, the story is more than just Batman stopping the Joker. You get a story of how both their lives got twisted by each other and how it motivates their hatred.
The look of the film brought back the brooding art-deco look first seen in METROPOLIS in the 1920s and revisited in BLADE RUNNER in the early 1980s. Since then we've seen it used effectively in THE CROW and DARK CITY. The choice to use Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman was an inspired one. Instead of acting like Mr. Mom like we were afraid of, he added a dark psychopathic edge to the Caped Crusader erasing our memories of the campy TV show version. Neither Val Kilmer or George Clooney have been able to leave their mark on the character like Keaton has. And of course you get Jack Nicholson and Jack Palance having a great time playing the bad guys!
The credit for most of this magic belongs to the imaginative director Tim Burton, who also leaves his mark on any film he touches. Rather than just stick to the deadly serious vision that Frank Miller created in his DARK KNIGHT graphic novels, he adds his warped comic sensibilities. With them, he doesn't mock the Batman mythos, but adds an uneasiness to it. One minute the Joker is murdering gangsters in a meeting and the next he's dancing to Prince music while destroying fine art. You don't know what to expect next! I also should mention that it has yet another terrific soundtrack by Danny Elfman, who also changed the sound of film music. Instead of yet another John Williams-sounding orchestra, he also contributes a dark comic sound to his Wagnerian soundtrack.
I only wish the DVD version had some extras. Knowing what a terrific visionary Tim Burton is, I'm sure there's a lot of great sketches he and his staff did that I'd love to see. I'd also love to hear his commentary to find out what he was thinking while he filmed it. It was a big budget movie back in the late 90s, so there has to be a lot of behind-the-scenes bonuses around somewhere.

Brazil (The Criterion Collection)
Brazil (The Criterion Collection)
DVD ~ Jonathan Pryce
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 77.17
15 used & new from CDN$ 23.56

5.0 out of 5 stars What an incredible bargain!, May 26 2000
My friends gasped when they heard what I paid for the film BRAZIL. But they changed their tune when they found out what I got for it. Not only do I get the final cut of the film as Terry Gilliam intended, but his running commentary with it. Plus there's a second DVD loaded with illuminating behind-the-scenes features including how they created the special effects, not to mention the difficulties Gilliam had in releasing the version he wanted. There's also lots of interviews with the cast and crew, plus storyboards, reference photos, and more! The third disk has the version the studio wanted to release along with commentary on how it differs from the director's cut. All of it is collected in a nicely designed package.
If you're a fan of this film, this Criterion Collection version was created for you. (If you're not, you're probably not reading this anyway!) There's enough BRAZIL thrills for a whole weekend of viewing. Watch it with your fellow film fanatics to provoke some very interesting discussions and debates, not only on the themes of BRAZIL, but also on studio interference and how warranted is it. I really enjoyed learning how a film is made and was amazed at the BS and red tape a director has to go through before he can even start taping. No wonder Hollywood films are rarely great!

The Third Man: The Criterion Collection
The Third Man: The Criterion Collection
DVD ~ Orson Welles
Offered by 5A/30 Entertainment
Price: CDN$ 153.90
11 used & new from CDN$ 44.75

5.0 out of 5 stars My high expectations were met -- and surpassed!, May 5 2000
Call me ignorant, but I had never heard of THE THIRD MAN until its recent rerelease in some theaters. Unfortunately I missed it and I'll bet it's an incredible experience on the big screen. Still, based on reviews I've read (including the ones on, I bought the DVD version.
My expectations were pretty high since it has been named one of the greatest films of all time. And they were surpassed. What a great film! The story, the acting, the cinematography were flawless. The zither soundtrack added a mood that a typical soundtrack with an orchestra could never match. The movie gets better the more I watch it.
The DVD also has a lot of great features, including an alternate beginning narrative, as well as a version done for radio. You could spend a whole weekend discovering new things on this DVD. The Criterion Collection definitely gave me my money's worth.

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