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Wayne Klein "If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.-Albert Einstein" (My Little Blue Window, USA)

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Morituri
Morituri
DVD ~ Marlon Brando
Price: CDN$ 6.99
26 used & new from CDN$ 2.10

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional war drama, July 10 2004
This review is from: Morituri (DVD)
Marlon Brando plays a German deserter and ex-patriot living in British occupied India unwillingly drawn into a war he doesn't believe in. Blackmailed by a British Commander (Trevor Howard), Brando goes undercover on a German freighter to try and disable explosives designed to scuttle the ship in case of capture. The hardnosed Captain (Yul Brynner) has Allied prisoners and a concentration camp survivor (Janet Margolin)that he's ferrying from Japan to German. More importantly, his precious cargo is desperately needed to fuel the war effort in Germany.
Fox has done a great job transferring this fine film to DVD. The widescreen presentation and rich Deluxe vividly come to life with remarkable clarity and sharpness. While a couple of sequences look a bit soft, on the whole, the transfer is remarkably accurate and rich.
There really aren't any extras to speak of on this DVD. That's a pity. We do get the original theatrical trailer and preview trailer though.

The Enemy Below
The Enemy Below
DVD ~ Robert Mitchum
Price: CDN$ 6.99
32 used & new from CDN$ 5.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, tense war thriller with strong performances, July 10 2004
This review is from: The Enemy Below (DVD)
"The Enemy Below" benefits from an unconventional performance and writing that makes it stand out from the pack of World War II films produced int he same era. Robert Mitchum plays the commander of an American destroyer and Curt Jergens as the commander of a German U-boat. They're stalking each other at sea playing a high stakes game of chess with each man carefully considering each move and countermove. Mitchum's commander may be a bit layed back compared to some but it's what keeps his men devoted him to him. Jergens plays his captain as someone who is doing his duty but doesn't believe in the Nazi cause.
Director Dick Powell's first film(who also did the well regarded "The Hunters" also featuring Mitchum and Robert Wagner about Korean War pilots stranded in enemy territory)keeps things suspenseful and taunt by confining his action sequences to the ships. Since we don't really see the outside world beyond the commanders' worlds, we feel as if we're on the boats with them. The Oscar winning optical effects involving the miniatures for both ships (as well as live action footage shot on very, very convincing sets)still looks pretty convincing even in our digital age. Water is one of the most difficult things to shot in miniature because the water beading up on the surface or the wakes generated by the ships don't get any smaller, hence it tends to give away the illusion if you're not careful.
There's no notable extras beyond some previews but the glorious widescreen presentation and Deluxe color vividly reproduces the original theatrical experience. There's few of the analog blemishes one might expect. The use of a dual layered disc means the film looks natural with few of the pixel problems when a film is compressed incorrectly.

Transatlantic Ping Pong
Transatlantic Ping Pong
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 48.95
2 used & new from CDN$ 35.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Tilbrook returns with most engaging disc yet, July 10 2004
This review is from: Transatlantic Ping Pong (Audio CD)
"Transatlantic Ping Pong" could easily be the gem of 2004. Glenn Tilbrook (late of Squeeze)retraces his musical steps but without creating a second rate work. "TPP" bubbles with energy, has hooks to spare and incorporates all the musical styles Squeeze fans crew to love over the years. Like XTC, Tilbrook breathes new life into the musical styles he loves on this album.
Time will tell if "TPP" has the staying power of "East Side Story" and other classic Squeeze albums but I'd be willing to bet that Tilbrook's latest album will hold its own. Features some of Tilbrook's best material and literally brought a smile to my face. Well worth picking up!

The Mothman Prophecies (Special Edition, 2 discs) (Bilingual)
The Mothman Prophecies (Special Edition, 2 discs) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Richard Gere
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 80.80
6 used & new from CDN$ 38.23

4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy thriller keeps you looking over your shoulder, July 10 2004
I don't know that I believe anything in John Keel's book if, based on the descriptions here, it involves UFO's, alien abductions,etc. I did find this striking, suspenseful and creepy film worthwhile however. Reporter John Klein (Gere)and his wife Mary return from a house they've just made an offer on. During the drive back, Mary (Debra Messing)sees something coming towards her that causes her to lose control of the car and smack her head against the glass of their car. In the hosptial she it's discovered she has a rare form of brain cancer. The chemo and surgery fails to remove it. She dies. When John Klein goes to pick up her things, he discovers a notebook she kept with drawings of what could be the angel of death. He's mystified by it enough to go back to where they had the accident. He discovers a burn on the bumper of his car that resembles what she drew.
Two years later while covering a political campaign Klein has his car break down in Point Pleasant, West Virginia along the Ohio river. The town's people are spooked by strange things they've seen there. one of the residents draws a picture of it. It looks exactly like the pictures Mary Klein made before she died. John becomes obsessed at getting to the bottom of this mystery but his obsession and the mysterious creature take control of his life.
Featuring an outstanding cast (including Will Patton and Larua Linney), solid script and imaginative direction by Mark Pellington ("Arlington Road"), "The Mothman Prophecies" captures your attention immediately. It does remind me a bit of some of the thrillers made in the 70's and 80's (although with more stylish direction). The premise requires you to suspend your disbelief quite a bit but, ultimately, the film is a rewarding thriller that doesn't quite answer all the questions it poses. That's a good thing as thrillers with a cookie cutter ending tend to lose their allure very, very quickly.
This "Special Edition" comes with a number of lively features. The best feature, though, is Pellington's sharp and witty commentary track. The previous DVD edition was pretty bare bones with a trailer and not much else. We also get a couple of strong featurettes that focus including a great bit that discusses adapting the original book to the screen and the difficulties in translating it.
"TMMP" causes just enough chills up the spine to make it a perfect Halloween or fright night movie. Pellington's stylish direction keeps you on the edge of your seat even when the story bogs down a bit. Highly recommended.

Butterfly Effect [Import]
Butterfly Effect [Import]
DVD ~ Ashton Kutcher
Price: CDN$ 13.97
48 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars "The Butterfly Effect" takes flight, July 8 2004
This review is from: Butterfly Effect [Import] (DVD)
A very interesting thriller that explores many of the same themes as the recent remake of "The Time Machine", in "The Butterfly Effect" Ashton Kutcher finds that he has the ability to travel back in time by essentially reliving his memories based on his journals. The problem is that whenever he makes any changes, there are always disasterous and unpredictable consequences of his alteration of the past (hence the relationship to "chaos theory" and the term "The Butterfly Effect", i.e., a butterfly taking flight can have a dynamic effect on weather conditions making complete prediction impossible).
The film's dark vision doesn't make this light entertainment. Still, it's a very interesting and well made film that challenges the viewer's preconceptions. The kids cast in the film give strong, convincing performances. Ashton Kutcher does a solid job in his role as Evan "the time traveler" but he doesn't always have the dramatic depth to communicate everything he could. Still, he does an exceptional job with the skills he has to work with. He's proven that he can carry more than a comedy picture. Amy Smart, in particularly, plays a variation on the same character many, many times with major differences depending upon how the timeline was altered.
I personally preferred the original theatrical ending. Why? Because creating hope out of hopelessness is an essential part of our humanity. The nilistic director's cut doesn't add anything and makes the character's sense of discovery worthless if there's no dramatic payoff that the audience can buy into.
The infinifilm features on the DVD allow you to watch short commentaries,a breakdown of visual effects, alternate takes,storyboards, deleted scenes with and without commentary then return immediately to the film. While it doesn't provide as much depth as a series of featurettes (or director's commentaries), it provides a thumbnail sketch of how the film took shape.
I'd be curious to hear the writers/directors take on the original ending vs. the theatrical cut. I won't say anything about the two except that one is more hopeful while the other is very, very dark. The latter ending made the film less pleasant for me. Sometimes the audience is right about the film and the artist wrong. In this case, I'd have to argue for watching the theatrical cut first and using the infinifilm feature to view the alternate, original ending of the film. It's the best way to gage them and compare them.
The DVD picture quality is pretty good overall on this dual sided single layer disc. The sound quality was a bit problematic at times as the version I purchased had some problems with distortion (which has become more and more of a problem with DVDs now that more of them are being pressed). My only complaint (a minor one at that) is that there isn't a director's commentary track.
"The Butterfly Effect" isn't a perfect thriller but it doesn't need to be; the questions it raises and the genuine suspense created by not knowing the outcome of each change in the past makes it an enjoyable film to watch. Yes, there's a lot of dark stuff that happens shaping the events in the lives of these kids but it that is the essence good drama.

The X-Files (Widescreen)
The X-Files (Widescreen)
DVD ~ David Duchovny
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 37.09
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.17

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid X-Files adventure, July 7 2004
This review is from: The X-Files (Widescreen) (DVD)
"The X-Files: Fight the Future" doesn't answer a lot of the questions that fans were waiting for from the movie. The only difference between this movie and, say, a two or three part X-Files story arc is the size of the budget, effects and the guest stars. The writing, unfortunately, doesn't measure up to the best the series offered. Nevertheless, it's a fine theatrical episode of the series.
Thousands of years ago an alien species ruled this planet. Humanity was just an afterthought. It's clear that these aliens want to regain control of the planet and members of the government have made a pact with the devil; humanity will become a slave race to these aliens (and other things you don't want to know about if you haven't seen the movie otherwise it'll spoil plot points).
Somehow all of this is tied into two little boys that discover an ancient underground cavern. One of the boys is infected with some sort of virus as are several rescue workers. In another part of the US, Mulder and Scully are checking out terrorist threat against the US. The building that Mulder and Scully and the rest of the team believe to be the target is a decoy. Mulder and Scully accidently discover the real target. The mystery at the heart of the film is why the terrorist targeted a building that had the agency FEMA in it when there were more vital government agencies they could have hit. Also, the building was evacuated. So how come there were two victims discovered in the rubble?
All of this remains at the heart of the mystery and it does, indeed, play into the alien conspiracy story arc than began to be undcovered in season one of the series. If you're interested in "The X-Files" but haven't seen the entire series, this movie is still comprehensible to the average moviegoer. The ramifications of the plot, however, will be much more important if you've seen the bulk of seasons 2-6 first (season 1 just sets up the conspiracy angle and is important but not a central part of the conspiracy arc).
The picture quality is pretty good considering this came out close to the beginning of the DVD craze. It could be improved with an anamorphic widescreen transfer (higher picture quality)and with a separate disc of extras. The extras aren't bad here they're just not as indepth as they should be. My guess is that Fox plans on re-releasing this on DVD when the new X-Files movie comes out in 2006 and/or within the next year or two because they've finally got the entire series on DVD.
Well worth picking up for fans but for casual new viewers, I'd suggest starting with seasons 2-6 to fully understand the consequences of this film's plot line. Carter's script isn't his best but there are enough gems in the script to make it worthwhile for fans of the series.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (Widescreen) [Import]
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Sheryl Lee
Offered by moviemars-canada
Price: CDN$ 14.77
21 used & new from CDN$ 11.13

4.0 out of 5 stars Prequel sets the stage for series pilot, July 7 2004
Shot after the series was cancelled because there was a demand overseas for more "Twin Peaks" material, "Fire Walk with Me" gives us a glimpse of what occurred just prior to Laura Palmer's murder in the pilot. While it spells out some things only hinted at in the pilot and is a bit more literal than the series, "Fire Walk with Me" also has the benefit of being a theatrical film and, as such, we get to dig deeper into the underbelly of the town.
The first thirty minutes of the film are devoted to a murder similar to Palmer's that occurs in another town. A pair of FBI agents are sent in to investigate (Chris Issak and Keifer Sutherland). When they run into resistence from the local law enforcement, they're forced to flex their FBI muscles a bit. While investigating a clue in a trailer park, one of the agents vanishes. Agent Cooper (MacLachlan)is called in to find the missing agent.
Far more surreal than the series with a number of high profile cameos (David Bowie, Harry Dean Stanton), this is a bit more bizarre as well when compared to the series (and even the pilot). The DVD is chapter encoded (unlike the frustrating "Mulholland Drive"), has an original documentary that's shot in a style like Lynch might have used with the original cast (save Piper Laurie, Michael Ontkean, Jack Nance and a couple of other cast members)about the impact of the show.
It's an excellent companion piece of the pilot (available as of now only as a region 0 DVD from Taiwan)and the series (available as a boxed set for the first season only with, reportedly, the second season coming next year some time). Picture quality is exceptionally good with the sound particularly outstanding in its use of 5.1.
A solid cast with a good script that meanders a bit, "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" plays better than parts of the first season but isn't quite as strong as both the pilot and first 8 episodes of the series. It's still worthwhile for fans of the show.

Quantum Leap: The Complete First Season
Quantum Leap: The Complete First Season
DVD ~ Scott Bakula
Price: CDN$ 27.92
29 used & new from CDN$ 14.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Ziggy predicts there will be a second set..and a third..., July 6 2004
Named one of the most popular "cult" series on television, "Quantum Leap" took it's time getting to television. I'm not sure if the series was detoured by rights issues or not but I'm happy something other than the pilot (which was released on DVD 5 years ago) is finally available. "Quantum Leap" chronicles the adventures of scientist Sam Beckett. Sam discovers a unique loophole in the laws of physics that lets him travel back in time but only within his life time. The device he uses with the input of Ziggy his intelligent computer allows him to assume the shape and look of individuals from the time he's in. They're transported back to a waiting room where they evidently will have no memory of being replaced.
Trouble occurs on Sam's first attempt. He becomes stranded in the past appearing as a test pilot. Al a friend of Sam's who is also working on the project appears to help him through his predicament as a hologram visible only to Sam. The other problem is that Sam's memory gets turned into a maze of Swiss cheese by the transport. He can't recall who he is or how he got there. Al has to coach Sam and help him through the charade of being someone else until they can get him back. Unfortunately, Ziggy isn't able to get him back although Ziggy does figure out that Sam continues to hop through the time line to set things right that have gone wrong and that, ultimately, one of them will lead him home.
An imaginative, well written show "Quantum Leap" managed to stay alive for 5 years. Bellisaro's imaginative concept, like that of Roddenberry's "Star Trek" allowed him to focus on the characters of the show. The format also allowed Bellisaro to tackle a number of difficult themes on television without seeming to be preachy. The top flight direction and acting makes the show believable. Bakula's stage training made him a natural to play Sam who has to "inhabit" all these different characters while, essentially, remaining the same one. While the optical effects haven't always aged the best, the show was really about the dramatic conflict at the core of each episode and what Sam has to accomplish.
"Quantum Leap" receives a very nice transfer courtesy of Universal's in house company. The images are sharp, crisp and the colors alive. The series was originally mastered in 2.0 stereo sound when it was originally aired and the sound here is true to the original specs of the series. There's an occasion where you might see dirt, hair or scratches but usually that's in situations where the film uses stock footage.
Few extras but they are noteworthy. We get a short featurette featuring star Bakula and the gifted Dean Stockwell as well as creator/writer/producer Bellisario. Their insights into what made the series connect with their core audience are interesting and getting the background on the series from Bellisario provides insight into the creative process that helped this series make it to the air. We also get brief introductions to the 8 episodes included here. The series was originally a mid-season replacement and, as such, there wasn't a full slate of episodes produced during the first season. We also get a trivia game that isn't bad particularly for hardcore fans of the series.
No commentary on any of the episodes but that might have been useful for the pilot. I'd love to hear what Bellisario, Bakula and Stockwell think 15 years later.
A great series receives so-so treatment on DVD. Lord knows what Universal was thinking when they priced this three disc set. Considering the few extras, there's no justifying the expense of this on DVD. On the other hand, fans will be happy to finally have this on DVD after having to endure reruns that were frequently edited to include more commercials. Hopefully Universal will price the next set (which consists of a full season of episodes) at a comparable price but I doubt it. Still, the series looks and sounds great and it's nice to finally be able to have it on the shelf at home.

Bubba Ho-Tep
Bubba Ho-Tep
DVD ~ Bruce Campbell
Offered by DVD Monkey
Price: CDN$ 49.99
19 used & new from CDN$ 2.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional weird, original and funny, July 4 2004
This review is from: Bubba Ho-Tep (DVD)
Bruce Campbell as the King? Stranger things could happen (and have). Campbell, King of the B (and sometimes Z)movie, frequent television guest star and all around Chin that can kill gives a very funny performance as Elvis in a film that puts "Van Helsing" and other wanna-be camp-fests to shame. Directed by Don Coscarelli ("Phantasm"), "Bubba Ho-Tep" has the tone of a Coehn brothers film with the perfect over-the-top story.
Elvis isn't dead. He just went to a rest home. The whys and wherefores of this departure are discussed in the very funny voice over narration. Most importantly Elvis hooks up with JFK. Yes, JFK didn't die. He was also put into a rest home for national security. After having half his brain removed and being died black to protect his identity. Turns out these two American icons must fight a soul-sucking zombie in Texas. Oh, and the zombie dresses as a cowboy.
It also has its serious moments but luckily the soul sucking and crime fighting are the major attractions here. Picture quality looks really, really good and there's loads of extras. Audio commentary by Campbell, Coscarelli and the "King". We also have four featurettes, deleted scenes, photo gallery, original theatrical trailer, TV spot, the writer of the short story that inspired this Joe Lansdale reading from his story. Oh, let's not forget the music video. That's worth the price of admission alone.
Anyhow, there's quite a bit of good storytelling here and this film is loads of fun much like Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" films. Anyhow, enjoy, rent buy or borrow this movie. You'll regret it if you don't.

Open the Door
Open the Door
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 92.95
5 used & new from CDN$ 27.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One half of a whole, July 1 2004
This review is from: Open the Door (Audio CD)
Since their split up Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies of Supertramp have produced music that has ranked from marginal to exceptional but neither one has reached the heights that they did together. "Open the Door" is a terrific solo album from Roger but its no exception; there are a number of tracks that would have benefited from Davies' rolling, thundering piano or bluesy backing vocals. "Open the Door" demonstrates Roger in fine form after the so-so "Hai Hai" and solid but unspectacular live album "Rite of Passage".
I can't help feeling, however, that the 5 strongest songs here would have fit in really well with the 5 best songs from Supertramp's "Slow Motion". The best tracks from both albums would have been Supertramp's best album since "Breakfast in America". I didn't spring for the import with the bonus track and I'll probably kick myself for not doing it so I can't comment on that track.
The title track, and terrific "Along Came Mary" are among two of the strongest highlights of the album. The melodies are rich and supple but I still feel something is missing. Nevertheless, I'm happy to have a new album from Hodgson (just as I was happy to have a new Supertramp album). Unlike a lot of fans of the band, I see merit in both halves of the whole and still enjoy both as well.

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