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Once Upon a Time in the West -- Special Collector's Edition (2 discs) [DVD] [1969]
Once Upon a Time in the West -- Special Collector's Edition (2 discs) [DVD] [1969]
Dvd ~ Henry Fonda
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: 5.86

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LEONE'S UNDERRATED MASTERPIECE, 15 Jan 2006
Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West is splendidly brought to DVD in this double-set with a host of superb extras.
Following on from his Man With No Name trilogy, here Leone pays homage to the days of the Wild West. Four people are drawn into a feud over priceless land that will eventually earn its' rightful owner a fortune from the railroads. Yet they are drawn in for completely different reasons. The pace of Leone's storytelling will not suit everyone, particularly the now classic scenes that move at a snail's pace and not one word is uttered for what seems forever.
The production team, as shown in the extras, bring together an exceptional cast of actors. They pondered on whether to bring in Eastwood again, or cast James Coburn as Harmonica. But thankfully, they went with Charles Bronson - and he was never better. The Death Wish series later in his career would cement his reputation as a movie star, but his laconic portrayal as a mysterious loner haunted by his past is unmissable. Jason Robards is the half-breed posse leader Cheyenne, wrongly accused of a brutal slaying. Already a highly regarded character actor, it seems that Robards may have been the first choice for this character, one which he gives that is full of life and humour. He does show a sympathetic side when he meets the widowed Jill McBain.
Claudia Cardinale is simply quite stunning, and who aside from Sophia Loren, is the classic Mediterranean beauty, (John Carpenter reminisces how he, and other teenage boys his age, would fall in love with her upon seeing the film and it's not difficult to see why!) Cardinale gives Jill's whore with a heart of gold a sense of dignity, after she discovers the death of her soon-to-be husband and family. She is both strong-willed and more than a match for any man.
But perhaps the performance of the entire picture is that of Henry Fonda. Playing against his archetypal, clean-cut, All-American hero was a stroke of genius on Leone's part. As the sadistic killer Frank, complete with piercing blue eyes and a sneering grin, one can only wonder where his career would've gone had he chose not to play the straight-backed, law-abiding crusaders he was so well known for. Nevertheless, it was the blackest role of his illustrious career.
The film heads towards an inevitable ending, but it's the manner in which Leone does it by giving it a majestic sense by showing spectacular scenery, such as the now iconic Monument Valley. Add Ennio Morricone's effectively grandiose, and somewhat operatic soundtrack, it helps the movie move along at a steady pace.
Extras include in-depth interviews with cast and crew, plus a nostalgic look at the sets used during filming, then and now. Ever since I caught this film on BBC2 some 10 years ago, I'm finally glad that it has been given the respect it deserves on DVD.

The Shawshank Redemption (3 Disc Special Edition Box Set) [1995] [DVD]
The Shawshank Redemption (3 Disc Special Edition Box Set) [1995] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tim Robbins
Offered by CP UK And Global LTD
Price: 11.70

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember....hope is a good thing., 1 May 2005
In 1999, Channel 4 compiled the Top 100 movies of the last century, as voted by the British movie-going public. I'm sure a few eyebrows were raised when The Shawshank Redemption was a surprise entry at number 4. A decade on from its' release, it has grown in justification of its place amongst the likes of The Godfather, Gone With The Wind, Casablanca to name but a few. Director Frank Darabont's screen adaptation of Stephen King's novel, however, did not set the box-office alight, like those films mentioned, upon its' release in 1994. But it's also interesting to note that on its' 10th anniversary, critics and the public voted it the best film never to win an Academy Award. It just goes to show that however many accolades are bestowed upon a film, that doesn't make it what it is. Shawshank is a powerfully moving story that touches every human emotion, from tragedy, despair, fear to humour, friendship and perhaps the most prominent message of the film - hope.
When Banker Andy Dufresne is sent to Shawshank penitentiary, on a double life-sentence, for the brutal murder of his estranged wife and her lover, his own life could be deemed to be over. The first few years of his sentence are the toughest, but forming a friendship with Red, 'the man who knows how to get things on the inside', plus financially advising the prison warden and the guards on accumulating illegal funds, his life becomes bearable at the most.
I won't praise the film anymore than other reviewers have already done, but if anyone were to reward Shawshank anything less than 5-stars, then they haven't watched the film carefully. The DVD comes with a range of special features, most notably the interviews with cast and crew, which is a bonus. Thomas Newman's musical score only adds to the emotion of the film, in parts it is deeply touching. The ending, as many would agree, is nothing less than uplifting.
Supported by a fine cast of character actors, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman exchange some excellent dialogue between themselves, both giving what maybe the performances of their careers. How Freeman was never awarded the Best Actor Oscar in 1995 is astounding, but since then both Robbins and himself, thankfully, have not gone overlooked by the Academy.
It is a film that deserves a classic status, and offers an important message to anyone who maybe in their darkest of hours, when there is nowhere to turn - that their is light at the end of the tunnel. Life without The Shawshank Redemption, would be meaningless.

Superman/Batman: Supergirl
Superman/Batman: Supergirl
by Jeph Loeb
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERGIRL HAS NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD!, 1 May 2005
With the writing force of Jeph Loeb behind any comic-book story, he can do no wrong. If their is one writer that can get under the skin of any superhero, and bring it to the reader so realistically, he can. And he continues that trend here, when Superman and Batman meet Kara Zor-El (Supergirl). Superman naturally takes to his cousin, who after escaping the doomed planet of Krypton, lands in Gotham City. Batman, however, is not so obliging. His natural instinct is that her intentions are sinister, yet still helps his friend to protect her.
With the inclusion of Wonder Woman wanting Kara to join her Amazonian tribe, it's only a matter of time until evil rears its' ugly head. Superman once again comes up against his deadliest foe, Doomsday. But behind it all is the equally deadly Darkseid. He sees Supergirl as an asset for his army of Furies on Apokolips, and he exploits her vulnerabilities after kidnapping her following an army of Doomsday's attack on the Amazonian island of Themyscira. The trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, along with a former resident of Apokolips, Barda, set out to rescue her. If their was a superhero that stared death in the face, it's Batman, as he goes one on one with Darkseid. A battle that almost costs him his life, he reasons with the behemoth to release Kara. He does so reluctantly, but only for a short while...
Along with some surprising twists and turns, the artwork by Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald is simply stunning, readers will not take their eyes off it. Supergirl is created with a wide-eyed innocence, and at the same time is on a personal voyage of self-discovery. Superman almost smothers Kara with his fatherly attentions, vowing to never let her get in harms way. Batman is the embodiment of the lone crusader with his bravery nd personal sacrifice, plus Kara bringing back painful memories of Jason Todd, gives him cause to help his greatest of allies. If you were fans of 'Trinity', then you will enjoy this adventure all the more.

Superman: True Brit
Superman: True Brit
by Kim Johnson
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And Now for Something Completely Different!!, 4 Mar 2005
This review is from: Superman: True Brit (Hardcover)
This is a refreshing change to the Man of Steel! With the combined talents of Messrs. Johnson, Cleese, Byrne and Farmer, it answers the seemingly bizarre question, "What if??".
Kal-El grows up in the English countryside suburb of Weston-Super-Mare, adopted by the kindly Clarks. They christen him Colin and his powers soon become more of a hindrance than anything else. While his alter-ego in Metropolis had the almost stereotypical, All-American, story-book upbringing, Colin doesn't have it so good, even working for the Daily Smear under the anarchic Perry Whyte-Badger.
I won't give too much away, only to say that it's a hilarious send-up of the Superman legend, that takes a swipe at the notorious image of the British press. It's the first superhero story that had me giggling at the misfortunes of Colin Clark, as he comes to terms with his new-found image. The humour is satirical, very English, and if you're a fan of the off-the-wall Pythonesque humour, you'll enjoy this different take on Superman. The artwork by Alex Bleyaert, displaying all things that are typically British, is bright and outstandingly funny, from the dreary weather to bad teeth....and fish slapping! This book is set to be a comedy classic and would make the perfect gift for any comic-book fan.

Glengarry Glen Ross [DVD] [1992]
Glengarry Glen Ross [DVD] [1992]
Dvd ~ Al Pacino

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an acting class like no other...shame about the DVD, 19 Dec 2004
Having seen it in all its' glory on BBC2, widescreen, I won't repeat what has already been said about how the format has been "butchered". Otherwise, I wouldn't have hesitated in giving James Foley's adaptation of Mamet's play full marks.
Pacino won the Academy Award for the wrong film! Sure, Scent Of A Woman is a feel-good crowd-pleaser, for which he was honoured after being a 6-time loser. But for sheer ferocious energy, Pacino's Ricky Roma is as slick and colourfully articulate as any salesman. Ed Harris further cements his reputation as one of America's finest screen actors, Alan Arkin is perfectly cast as the nervous, edgy accomplice to David Moss', (Harris), desperate attempt at robbery. Kevin Spacey as Williamson is the under-fire and much hated boss of the real estate firm, who never seems to get anything right. This becomes apparent when he fouls up Roma's major sales pitch, and is on the receiving end of a verbal attack that is merciless and belittling. Not forgetting Alec Baldwin's firebreathing troubleshooter from Head Office, a role that lasts all of 10 minutes, but is a career-best. Terrifying the salesman on a rainy night, he tells them the news they've been dreading. But if their was a portrayal of a salesman hanging on for dear life, then it's Jack Lemmon's Levine, his moment of glory deflated by his own big mouth.
No interviews in the extra's, but I recommend that buyers go for a widescreen version. It's still a film that should feature, but never does, in a critics all time favourite list.

The French Connection/French Connection II [DVD] [1975]
The French Connection/French Connection II [DVD] [1975]
Dvd ~ Gene Hackman
Price: 24.95

5.0 out of 5 stars "YOU EVER PICKED YOUR FEET IN POUGHKEEPSIE??", 3 Oct 2004
The movie that gave birth to the genre of the tough, gritty, New York cop thriller is here in all it's glory on DVD, along with perhaps it's less famous sequel. Based on a true story from 1962, NYPD detectives Eddie "Popeye" Egan and Sonny "Cloudy" Russo made the biggest drug bust in U.S. history. Under the screen direction of the then relatively unknown William Friedkin, these events are played against a backdrop of New York city that has been replicated time again in the movies; a bustling, pollution-filled mecca for the criminal element. "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) and "Cloudy" Russo (Roy Schneider) must sweep through it to track down the elusive Charnier, affectionately labelled by Doyle as "Frog 1". Charnier is the criminal mastermind behind a shipment of heroin coming into NY, Doyle and Russo hound him and his organisation day and night to smash the operation.
The car chase, as "Popeye" races through rush hour to catch the French hitman on a speeding train, has gained legendary status. Watching the BBC documentary "The Poughkeepsie Shuffle", you'll see why it was more death-defying than that which was seen in "Bullitt".
Hackman, in a career-defining performance, portrays the no-nonsense, street-wise, foul mouthed, obssessive New York cop with conviction. As the additional documentary "The Poughkeepsie Shuffle" shows, under Friedkin's direction it seemed like an extreme process. With the sequel also included, it tries hard to live upto its' predecessor, as Doyle trails Charnier to Marseille only to fall victim to him.
An impressive DVD package that fully deserves top rating.

Batman: Killing Joke
Batman: Killing Joke
by Alan Moore
Edition: Paperback

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Batman: Killing Joke (Paperback)
I'm not aware of many graphic novels, with much less than 100+ pages, that leave an impression on you long after you've finished it. Haunting images, both tragic and gruesome, a Caped Crusader who finds empathy with his most evil nemesis, knowing all too well that all hell will break loose if they can't reach middle ground. And the execution of Commissioner Gordon's daughter, Barbara, that leaves her paralysed at the hands of the Joker. Yet that is still not enough to satisfy his lust for vengeance, as James Gordon soon discovers his sanity at stake.
Illustrators' Bolland and Higgins cleverly interweave images from the Jokers' past into his present, and you cannot but feel his sorrow. Each picture frame will grip you from start to finish. But it is Alan Moore's writing that adds considerable weight to each character. Never having read any of his previous work, I would say it must be equally as impressive.
Anyone who considers buying this will not be disappointed. It is dark, sinister, violent...and alongside The Dark Knight Returns, it's the Batman at his best.

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