Monday, April 16, 2007

DVD Tuesday: History, Venture & More! - Xoanon @ 19:05 PST
America's Funniest Home Videos: Motherhood Madness: Hosted by Tom Bergeron, this two-hour program offers a $100,000 prize for the funniest video out there, with homemade clips all gathered around the theme of motherhood and mother's day.

Brute Force: As hard-hitting as its title, Brute Force was the first of Jules Dassin’s forays into the crime genre, a prison melodrama that takes a critical look at American society as well. Burt Lancaster is the timeworn Joe Collins, who, along with his fellow inmates, lives under the heavy thumb of the sadistic, power-tripping guard Captain Munsey (a riveting Hume Cronyn). Only Collins’s dreams of escape keep him going, but how can he possibly bust out of Munsey’s chains? Matter-of-fact and ferocious, Brute Force builds to an explosive climax that shows that man’s desperation for freedom knows no bounds.

Clear Skies: Yevgueni Urbansky acted masterfully as a soviet pilot who was shut down by anti-air nazi fire, caught alive and put in prison until the war finished. Once back home, hurt but alive, he was suspected of betrayal and collaboration with nazis with the only evidence of his survival. Because of the suspects he was expelled out from the communist party to which he used to be a member. The film is just another accusation of Stalin's injustice with many of the Soviet citizens who heorically fought against Nazi army.

Cutie Honey - The Movie: Who is this mysterious buxom beauty? She's an office worker, a motorcycle racer, a street musician, a police officer, and most of all, a warrior of love. Fitted with her father's invention, the I-System, she can transform herself into anyone she wants to be. The nefarious organization called Panther Claw is kidnapping girls across Japan and stealing all the gold and the police are powerless to stop them. Now, their leader, sister Jill, wants Honey's I-System neckband to reviver her beauty and gain immortality. With the help of her friends, Natsuko, a hard-headed police officer, and Seiji, an easy-going reporter, Honey will prove that there's no greater power than love. Genre: Action/ Comedy.

Deadlands: The Rising: Unexplained explosions rock several major U.S. cities. As the night unfolds, more mysterious events are yet to come. In Baltimore, five strangers take a stand as the world is rapidly consumed by the living dead! A man stuck in a traffic jam narrowly escapes to warn others of what s heading their way... best friends fight to return home and find the fate of their families... a mother and son desperately seek to escape the horrors gathering outside. While each human stands to fight and survive, the army of the dead continues to grow...

Foxworthy's Big Night Out:Season One: Comedian Jeff Foxworthy heads out on a new adventure with a whole new cast of friends and special guests in the signature CMT sketch comedy series, Foxworthy's Big Night Out. Each week, a different country artist joins Foxworthy for the ultimate in country comedy and live musical performance. Country stars Kenny Rogers, Trace Adkins, Billy Currington, Sara Evans, Pat Green, Jack Ingram, Montgomery Gentry, Joe Nichols, Blake Shelton, the Warren Brothers, Hank Williams Jr. and the Wreckers all test their comedy chops by appearing in sketches with Foxworthy and his amazing cast of improv actors. Mixing the traditional TV monologue with sketches, redneck words of the day, audience participation and some of the best musical performances the world of country music has to offer, Foxworthy's Big Night Out is a half hour of hilarity the whole family can enjoy together.

Freedom Writers (Widescreen Edition): Though the "inspirational teacher" theme may feel done to death, Freedom Writers succeeds because it emphasizes the students as much as the teacher. Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby, Boys Don't Cry) comes to a southern California high school bubbling over with naive optimism, but quickly discovers that her unruly classroom isn't easily won over by her good intentions. After a few floundering attempts to connect with her students, Gruwell gives them the assignment of keeping journals about their own lives--an assignment that the class bites into with relish, which eventually bonds them together and pushes racial rivalries aside. This plotline has been made before, sometimes well, sometimes poorly; Freedom Writers, by drawing heavily from the published journals of the students--and thanks to a (mostly) unheroic script, direction that emphasizes individual characters over stereotypes, and rigorous performances from the whole cast--makes the story seem fresh and genuine. Swank does solid work, but the standouts are April L. Hernandez as a girl whose gang wants her to lie and send an innocent boy to jail and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) as a teacher who resents Gruwell's offbeat success. Also featuring Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy), Scott Glenn (The Right Stuff), and a plethora of strong young actors.

George Eliot Collection: The next collection in the successful BBC Classics line comes to life with an assortment of all-star casts in five of George Eliot's beautifully astute literary works, all lovingly portrayed in critically acclaimed productions from the BBC.

George Lopez: First & Second Seasons: Mexican comedian George Lopez has a hit on his hands -- often despite himself -- with this ABC sitcom featuring the leading character as a recently promoted manager at an aviation manufacturer. His two Anglo bosses are the typical inept white men surrounded by a Latino work crew who report to George -- among them being his best friend Ernie (Valente Rodriguez), the Latino equivalent of Patton Oswalt, and George's overly salty mother Benny (Belita Moreno).

Ghost Busters Complete Series: Before the movie, before Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray went beyond Saturday Night, there was the live-action Saturday Morning Series called The Ghost Busters. Originally from Filmation's live-action library, The Ghost Busters starred famous F-Troop team Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch as Jake Kong and Eddie Spencer, and Tracy their gorilla. Unlike most of Filmation's live series, The Ghost Busters focused a bit more on humour than just being action with comedy relief. Basically, loosely using the 'Mission Impossible' schtick (heavily used in Saturday Morning spy shows) to obtain their assignments. Jake, Eddie and Tracy would deal with the likes of demented spirits, wacky vampires and other spectre and ghouls from haunting the mortal world.

Happy Days Complete 2nd Season: Happy Days was set in the 1950s in Milwaukee, the heart of middle-class America, and told the story of the Cunningham family. Mr. Cunningham (Tom Bosley) ran the local hardware store and Mrs. Cunningham (Marion Ross), like all good TV Moms, spent her time in the kitchen. Their son, Richie (Ron Howard), hung out at Arnold's Drive-In with his pals Ralph Malph (Donny Most) and Potsie (Anson Williams), trying to be as cool as the coolest greaser in town, the Fonz (Henry Winkler). Richie's sister, Joanie (Erin Moran), tagged along whenever she wasn't at her friend Jenny Piccolo's house. The Cunninghams also had an older son, Chuck, but he mysteriously disappeared after the first season.

Highlander Series: Best of the Best: Taken from the film, Highlander, Duncan MacLeod, clansman of Connor in the film also finds he is being stalked by not only other immortals trying to kill him before the time of the gathering, but also a secret society of mortals who call themselves 'The Watchers' and also seem intent on killing him. Duncan and the other immortals can only be killed by decapitation and often live for centuries.

The History Boys: From award-winning playwright Alan Bennett (The Madness of King George) comes this delightfully witty comedy of eight boisterous-yet-talented schoolboys hoping to gain admittance to England's most prestigious universities. They're aided on their quest by two teachers, a shrewd young upstart and an inspiring old eccentric, whose opposing philosophies challenge the boys to confront the true meaning of education and the relative values of happiness and success. Adapted from the original Tony Award winning play and starring the original Tony Award winning cast, The History Boys is an engaging, thought-provoking, and wickedly funny look at history, the pursuit of knowledge, and the utter randomness of life.

Into the Fire: In 1936, a right-wing military cabal under General Francisco Franco, with the support of Hilter and Mussolini, attempted to overthrow the newly elected democratic government of Spain. In response, nearly 80 American women, in defiance of the U.S. government, joined the struggle in the Spanish Civil war, the fist major battle in Europe against Fascism.In this compelling and meticulously researched documentary, 16 of these brave and idealistic women, mostly nurses but also notable writers and journalists, tell in their own words stories of courage and commitment to a just cause. Weaving archival materials with the words from the likes of Dorothy Parker, Virgina Cowles and Eleanor Roosevelt, "The stories of their heroism leave Ernest Hemingway's romantic notions of this war in the dust." (High Falls Film Festival)Bonus Features: Director Biography. Director: Julia Newman. "Vivid and Moving" – Seattle Weekly. {Award Winner - Seattle International Film Festival}

La Haine: When he was just twenty-nine years old, Mathieu Kassovitz took the international film world by storm with La haine (Hate), a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically in the low-income banlieue districts on Paris’s outskirts. Aimlessly whiling away their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz, Hubert, and Saïd—a Jew, an African, and an Arab—give human faces to France’s immigrant populations, their bristling resentments at their social marginalization slowly simmering until they reach a climactic boiling point. A work of tough beauty, La haine is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country’s ongoing identity crisis.

Larry King Live - The Greatest Interviews: Celebrating his 50th anniversary in broadcasting in 2007, Larry King is the host of Larry King Live, the first worldwide phone-in television talk show and CNN's highest-rated program. This commemorative DVD is hosted by Larry King in his warm, engaging style and contains over 9 hours of his most extraordinary and entertaining programming.

Larry Sanders Show-1st Season: HBO television sitcom about Larry Sanders, a talk-show host. This show goes 'behind-the-scenes' to reveal Larry's humorous interactions with the producers and guests.

The Last King of Scotland: In the early 1970s, Nicholas Garrigan, a young semi-idealistic Scottish doctor, comes to Uganda to assist in a rural hospital. Once there, he soon meets up with the new President, Idi Amin, who promise a golden age for the African nation. Garrigan hits it off immediately with the rabid Scotland fan, who soon offers him a senior position in the national health department and becomes one of Amin's closest advisers. However as the years pass, Garrigan cannot help but notice Amin's increasingly erratic behavior that grows beyond a legitimate fear of assassination into a murderous insanity that is driving Uganda into bloody ruin. Realizing his dire situation with the lunatic leader unwilling to let him go home, Garrigan must make some crucial decisions that could mean his death if the despot finds out.

Laverne & Shirley - The Complete Second Season: Set in the 1950s, this half-hour situation comedy revolved around the friendship between bright-eyed, naive and demure Shirley Feeney and brassy, tough-talking, street smart Laverne De Fazio. Two bottle cappers for Shotz Brewery, the duo dated an array of questionable men, tolerated their dippy, loony neighbors Lenny and Squiggy, and forever pursued to "make all their dreams come true."

Mallory Effect: Charlie can't take his mind off of his ex-girlfriend, Mallory. When he sees her with her new boyfriend, his obsession takes charge. With the cut-to-the-chase advice of his best friend Nick, Charlie decides to take action to recover his lost love. His plan: secretly befriend her new boyfriend and sabotage their relationship from the inside out.

Masters of Horror - Family: It’s a beautiful day in suburbia where mild-mannered bachelor Harold Thompson (George Wendt of CHEERS) is happily at work in his basement building the perfect family. But when a young couple moves in nextdoor, Harold sets his sights on the sexy young wife (Meredith Monroe of DAWSON’S CREEK). In a sunshine world of picket fences and manicured lawns, is it ever possible to know what gruesome plans are percolating in the minds of your neighbors? Matt Keeslar (SCREAM 3, ROSE RED) co-stars in this grisly black comedy with a killer twist from Director John Landis (AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, ANIMAL HOUSE) and Writer Brent Hanley (FRAILTY). Features: Still Gallery Original Storyboards Audio Commentary featuring writer Brent Hanley Director Bio Screenplay (DVD-ROM), Also on DVD Skin and Bones: The Making of Family Terror Tracks: Mastering the Family Score

Mork & Mindy - The Complete Second Season: Bizarre television comedy with Robin Williams as Mork from Ork, who is an alien hatched from an egg, sent to investigate Earth and report back to his superiors. As an outsider, Mork is unfamiliar with human customs and often questions some of the strange traditions that we take for granted. Much of the humor relies on Williams' unique comic voices and mannerisms. The show was perhaps most famous for Mork's saying, 'nanoo nanoo.'

Murder She Wrote Complete 6th Season: Former substitute English teacher and famed mystery writer Jessica Fletcher has a gift for solving mysteries. You see, it seems murder follows her around, whether it be to the houses of her seemingly endless number of friends, nieces, and nephews or right in her hometown of Cabot Cove, Maine. Jessica is sometimes assisted by her friend Dr. Seth Hazelet or the local sheriff, Amos Tupper (later Sheriff Metsger). Sometimes, early in the series, Jessica would only narrate the episode, which would be a dramatization of one of her novels. In later seasons, Jessica moved to New York City to be closer to her publisher and also closer to crime.

Mxc-Most Extreme Elimination Challenge-Season 2: A silly Japanese game show on which contestants are painfully eliminated through barely possible stunts and events, most taking place above pools of mud.

National Lampoon's Pucked: Frank Hopper (Bon Jovi) is a former lawyer, long-term loser and constant dreamer - and frankly, probably just not all that bright. When he receives a credit card in the mail, he believes he's hit the jackpot. It's not long before he's working his way toward financing his dream - an all-woman hockey team. He's also put himself in debt to the tune of more than $300,000. Naturally, he winds up in court when his plan backfires.

Not Just the Best of the Larry Sanders Show: With more than 8 hours of newly-produced material, including Garry Shandling in personal and intimate meetings with stars like Alec Baldwin, Tom Petty, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, and more, this DVD is NOT JUST THE BEST OF THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW

Notes on a Scandal: Academy Award(r) winners Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give wickedly entertaining, Oscar-nominated performances * ? one as a woman consumed by her colleague's guilty secret, the other, a victim to her own dark obsessions ? in this sexy, stylish thriller. Dench mesmerizes as Barbara Covett, a teacher who rules over her classroom with an iron fist, yet leads a desperate, solitary life outside it. That is, until she meets radiant new art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett). Although at first overjoyed with her newfound kindred spirit, when Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with a teenage student, her jealously and rage spiral out of control.

Off the Black: An aging, disillusioned alcoholic (Nolte) gets a younger friend (Morgan) and wants him to pose as his son at a school reunion.

Overlord: Seamlessly interweaving archival war footage and a fictional narrative, Stuart Cooper’s immersive account of one 20-year-old’s journey from basic training to the battle front lines at D-day brings all the terrors and isolation of war to its viewers with jolting authenticity. Overlord, impressionistically shot by Stanley Kubrick’s longtime cinematographer John Alcott, is both a document of WWII and a dreamlike meditation on man’s smallness in a large, incomprehensible machine.

Paradise Kiss, vol. 3: As Yukari feverishly catches up on makeup exams, the "Parakiss" crew works diligently on the gown in preparation for the YSD Fashion Show -- will their centerpiece design take first place? In the aftermath of graduation and the advent of a new year, George and Yukari must determine if they still have a future together, as individual dreams and goals pull them into opposite directions. Which paths will they take in order to realize their full potential and what becomes of everyone else in this emotionally heartrending conclusion?

Peach Girl, vol. 1: Based on a beloved manga by Tokyopop, the popular anime series PEACH GIRL follows the angst-filled travails of a shy high-school student, Momo Adachi, whose athletic good looks earn her some unwanted attention from the in-crowd, including a backstabbing mean girl and a womanizing jock. This volume introduces the shojo anime series with the first five episodes.

Pulp: While 'ghostwriting' an autobiography for Hollywood star Preston Gilbert, Mickey King ends up investigating a murder...

Shadow Warriors Complete First Season: Sonny Chiba plays Hattori Hanzo in this classic Japanese TV series, the first season of which is presented here on a 7-disc set including all 27 episodes. Over 20 hours of entertainment, the complete first series on a 7-disc set, including 27 episodes. In 1651 during the Edo Period, the 11 year old Ietsuna becomes the fourth Shogun, leading his influential chief retainers to plot against each other to take the reins of power. The Hattori family, a clan of Iga Ninjas who were former vassals and protectors of the previous Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu have since fallen from grace. Their third generation ancestor, Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba) is now working as the master at public bathhouse in Edo City (what is now known as Tokyo). Fearing further political upheaval and instability, the Shogun's right-hand man, Masayuki Hoshina once again calls upon the unique skills and services of Hattori Hanzo's Ninja Clan. During he day, they masquerade as ordinary citizens, but at night they ride forth as the "Kage No Gundan", the secret "Shadow Army" who opposes all those who dare to threaten the authority of the reigning Shogun. "Shadow Warriors" features an all-star cast of JAC "Japan Action Club" (Chiba's stunt school) alumni, including Etsuko Shiomi ("Sister Street Fighter"), Hiroyuki Sanada ("Ninja Wars", "Legend Of The Eight Samurai"), and Kenji Oba ("Kill Bill Vol. 1").

Smokin' Aces: An FBI agent (Reynolds) hunts for a Las Vegas stand up comedian (Piven) who has decided to squeal on the mob but, before he heads off for protective custody, decides to go to the casinos at Lake Tahoe for one last good time, drawing a crowd of assassins (including Affleck and Keys).

Spider-Man 2.1: In Spider-Man 2, the latest installment in the blockbuster Spider-Man series, based on the classic Marvel Comics hero, Tobey Maguire returns as the mild-mannered Peter Parker, who is juggling the delicate balance of his dual life as college student and a superhuman crime fighter. Peter's life becomes even more complicated when he confronts a new nemesis, the brilliant Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) who has been reincarnated as the maniacal and multi-tentacled "Doc Ock." When Doc Ock kidnaps MJ (Kirsten Dunst), Spider-Man must swing back into action as the adventure reaches new heights of unprecedented excitement.

Spongebob Squarepants - Friend Or Foe: Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants: Friend or Foe? is the latest DVD release of the peripatetic, supremely optimistic, hysterically keyed-up, cartoon sponge, and he's just as funny here as he is in his other collections. Now I've already written twice this year on the significance of SpongeBob SquarePants cartoons, and their role in popular culture (you may click on SpongeBob SquarePants: Season 4, Vol. 1 and SpongeBob SquarePants: Season 4, Vol 2 to read those reviews), so I won't bore you with any more sociological claptrap in this review. I will say that there isn't one single cartoon out there that gets my kids as excited as SpongeBob SquarePants. He's clearly at the forefront of popular children's animation today, and from the quality of the cartoons included in SpongeBob SquarePants: Friend or Foe?, I see no sign of that abating.

Thieves Like Us: Two convicts break out of Mississippi State Penitentiary in 1936 to join a third on a long spree of bank robbing, their special talent and claim to fame. The youngest of the three falls in love along the way with a girl met at their hideout, the older man is a happy professional criminal with a romance of his own, the third is a fast lover and hard drinker fond of his work. The young lovers begin to move out of the sphere in which they have met, a last robbery in Yazoo City goes badly and puts paid to the gang once and for all as a profitable venture, but isn't the end of the story quite yet, as all three are wanted and notorious men with altogether different points of view on the situation they are faced with.

True Confessions: De Niro (a Catholic Priest) and Duvall (a Homicide Detective) play brothers drawn together after many years apart, in the aftermath of the brutal murder of a young prostitute.

The Venture Bros. Season 2: The warped misadventures of a former boy genius turned washed-up, middle-aged mad scientist Dr. Rusty Venture; his moronic teenage sons; their maniac bodyguard; and the Doctor's arch-nemeses, incompetent super villain The Monarch and his masculine paramour, Dr. Girlfriend.

Wilderness Survival for Girls: Ruth, Deb, and Kate head up to the mountains for a peaceful getaway weekend at a cabin. While their, tensions between the girls regarding their friendship and sexuality arise. Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger lurks in the darkness outside.

Feast (HD DVD): At a rural bar, a motley bunch of patrons struggle to survive a ravenous family of flying beasts bent on devouring every last one of them.

The Game (HD DVD): Nicholas Van Orton is a very wealthy San Francisco banker, but he is an absolute loner, even spending his birthday alone. In the year of his 48th birthday (the age his father committed suicide) his brother Conrad, who has gone long ago and surrendered to addictions of all kinds, suddenly returns and gives Nicholas a card giving him entry to unusual entertainment provided by something called Consumer Recreation Services (CRS). Giving up to curiosity, Nicholas visits CRS and all kinds of weird and bad things start to happen to him.

The Jerk (HD DVD): Navin is an idiot. Hew grew up in Mississippi as adopted son of a black family. But at his 18th birthday he feels he wants to discover the rest of the world and sets out to St. Louis... Everyone exploits his naivety, but then a simple invention brings him a fortune.

School of Scoundrels (HD DVD): An unlucky meter reader enrolls in a confidence-building class so he can win the love of the girl of his dreams. The class turns out to be something quite different when it becomes clear to the young man that his professor has his sights set on the same girl.

Smokin' Aces (HD DVD): An FBI agent (Reynolds) hunts for a Las Vegas stand up comedian (Piven) who has decided to squeal on the mob but, before he heads off for protective custody, decides to go to the casinos at Lake Tahoe for one last good time, drawing a crowd of assassins (including Affleck and Keys).

The Dirty Dozen (Blu-ray): A Major with an attitude problem and a history of getting things done is told to interview military prisoners with death sentences or long terms for a dangerous mission; To parachute behind enemy lines and cause havoc for the German Generals at a rest house on the eve of D-Day.

Enter the Dragon (Blu-ray): The last film completed by Bruce Lee before his untimely death, Enter the Dragon was his entrée into Hollywood. The American-Hong Kong coproduction, shot in Asia by American director Robert Clouse, stars Lee as a British agent sent to infiltrate the criminal empire of bloodthirsty Asian crime lord Han (Shih Kien) through his annual international martial arts tournament. Lee spends his days taking on tournament combatants and nights breaking into the heavily guarded underground fortress, kicking the living tar out of anyone who stands in his way. The mix of kung fu fighting (choreographed by Lee himself) and James Bond intrigue (the plot has more than a passing resemblance to Dr. No) is pulpy by any standard, but the generous budget and talented cast of world-class martial artists puts this film in a category well above Lee's primitive Hong Kong productions. Unfortunately he's off the screen for large chunks of time as American maverick competitors (and champion martial artists) John Saxon and Jim Kelly take center stage, but once the fighting starts Lee takes over. The tournament setting provides an ample display of martial arts mastery of many styles and climaxes with a huge free-for-all, but the highlight is Lee's brutal one-on-one with the claw-fisted Han in the dynamic hall-of-mirrors battle. Lee narrows his eyes and tenses into a wiry force of sinew, speed, and ruthless determination.