Star Wars II DVD, The Ring, Grave of The Fireflies and No Go ET
One FULL Day of our Week - Star Wars Episode II
It took me the better part of a day to make my way through the entire Star Wars Episode II DVD, but it was well worth it. Again Lucasfilm has produced an amazing DVD, which not only compliments the movie, but provides you with enough context to perhaps enjoy it even more. Unfortunately this time around I wasn't able to make the Star Wars media day in LA (last year I went to the Skywalker Ranch for a preview of Episode I ), but that's OK. There's so much on the DVD I was happy to have enough time to really explore it all.
It's sad, we get so many great movies in the DVD Talk office and with managing the site I only get to watch a fraction of them (most are quickly dispatched to one of our 20 or so DVD Talk Review writers!). One movie I did catch before it flew out the door (bound for Cinema Gotham Writer Gil Jawetz) was the interesting: Keep The River on Your Right. I had heard great things about the movie when it was in it's theatrical run, but really didn't know what to expect. What was so interesting to me about Keep The River on Your Right was how it documented a man (Tobias Schneebaum) who was reflecting on the key events of his life, spending the time looking at how those events shaped who he is today rather than try to go back and show the events. One of my favorite scenes is when Tobias is talking about how he doesn't want to go back to Peru (where he had lived with head hunting cannibals some 30 years ago) but was being forced to by the Director and Producer of the documentary. Talk about an extremely example of how the line can blur between observer and observed in non fiction film. Look for Gil's complete review of the DVD in the next few weeks.
If you're looking for a spooky film and haven't gotten your fix since Signs, be sure to catch The Ring in the theater's this week. What's nice about The Ring is how many things in the film are a mystery to both the characters on screen and us viewing the film (even at the end) Although it's an extremely complex film, there are only really a handful of actors all of which deliver strong performances. I particularly enjoyed Naomi Watts' who matched the intensity and range of her stand out performance in Mulholland Drive and showed that after a good years of acting in the 'biz' (see Matinee and Tank Girl ) she's ready to carry a film!
In addition to the fine acting in The Ring I also really enjoyed how Cinematographer Bojan Bazelli's created mood and tension in the film through his shots. Too many suspenseful movies use their soundtrack as a crutch and it was nice to see a Cinematographer take on the challenge of making his shots truly spooky. One thing that bothered me about The Ring was that it was rated PG-13. I am no fan of the current ratings system (which are as subjective as you get), but this time around I think an 'R' Rating would have been more of a fit. Be sure to dead DVD Talk reviewer Aaron Beierle's review of The Ring.
The Sum of All Mediocrity
If you've ever wanted a prime example of truly mediocre film, look no further than the release of The Sum of All Fears. It's not that it's a particularly awful film, or that it's got a terrible script. Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman are just fine. But for some reason I could never really 'get in to' or care much about The Sum of All Fears. One of the biggest problems for me is that the lead character of Jack Ryan (played over the course of several films by Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin), who in The Sum of All Fears is something that just doesn't fit in the chronology of the character. Ben Affleck plays Ryan like a wet-behind-the-ears fresh from being a rookie, but the story takes place in the post Cold War era which just doesn't fit with the other Jack Ryan Films (see The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger). I guess I expect more from Phil Alden Robinson who showed he can really direct in Field of Dreams. Look for a complete review of the DVD and everything on it soon from DVD Talk reviewer Holly E. Ordway
Yes, I Bawled My Eyes Out - Again
I think it's virtually impossible to watch Grave of The Fireflies and not bawl your eyes out. The film is so touching and the music just gets to you, it's hard not to be bawling at the end of this film. I sat down with the Collector's Edition of Grave of The Fireflies and watched it yet again, and sure enough I was welling up in no time. It still amazes me how impactual an animated film can be, and I enthusiastically recommend this movie to anyone who loves touching stories. On the DVD, be sure no to miss Roger Ebert's analysis of the film (it's on Disc 2). He does a phenomenal job of contexting the film, one which he considers one of the 'greatest war films'. Look for an inadept review soon from DVD Talk reviewer Todd Siechen.
Turn off Your Heart Light - ET Review is A No Go
I'm perplexed. For some unknown reason Universal Studios Home Video, decided to pull the plug for their support of online press for an indeterminate period of time. The result of this is that we won't be able to cover DVDs like Law and Order, ET, and perhaps even Back to The Future. Why would one of Hollywood's biggest studio snub the online press?
Hopefully Universal Studios Home Video will wake up and realize just how many people get their DVD info from online sources. Last time I checked for DVD Talk it was just under 400,000 unique readers... that's unique readers NOT hits!