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James Luckard (Los Angeles, CA)

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Peter's Friends [DVD] [1992]
Peter's Friends [DVD] [1992]
Dvd ~ Hugh Laurie
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £4.04

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic film, appalling DVD, 21 Jun. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Peter's Friends [DVD] [1992] (DVD)
I love this film, but I'll confine this review to the wretched DVD. I own hundreds of DVDs and this is without a doubt the worst quality of them all. The colors are all faded and the transfer is not in the proper aspect ratio.

Worse, the 4% PAL speed-up is really noticable because the film is filled with well-known pop songs, always the worst victims of speed-up, which sound like they're being sung by The Chipmunks on this DVD.

Luckily the film has been released on DVD in the US, in a fantastic looking widescreen version, and it's NTSC, so there's no speed-up. I bought it and sold my copy of this release, which is garbage.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2011 7:08 AM GMT

Nanny McPhee (OST)
Nanny McPhee (OST)
Price: £12.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Doyle masterpiece, 7 Dec. 2005
This review is from: Nanny McPhee (OST) (Audio CD)
Okay, I'll admit, I'm a Doyle completist, so I'm a bit biased, but I think this is one his best works yet. It's filled with heartbreakingly lovely themes and gorgeous orchestrations brimming over with longing, as well as some delightfully wacky pieces for what are, no doubt, broadly comedic scenes.
The final seven minute cue is without doubt the best piece of film score I've heard this year. It's fantastic to hear a score in which the director has given the composer large enough swathes of the film to really create a coherent musical tapestry, instead of many little two minute cues.
Highly recommended, you won't regret buying this one. I can't wait to see the film when it opens in the States in January.

Minghella on Minghella
Minghella on Minghella
by Anthony Minghella
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at the role of a director, 27 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Minghella on Minghella (Paperback)
If I were to recommend one book, out of the many I've read, to someone who wanted to know what a film director does, this would be it. Minghella is unparalleled in the lucidity and ease with which he dissects the director's role in making a film. The book is compiled from a series of interviews, revolving around different aspects of the filmmaking process, from the general to the specific. However, there is a unity to the tone that makes it a totally coherent work, instead of the cut-and-paste job you might expect. It's true, Minghella has only made 4 films that he feels warrant discussion. (The fifth, Mr. Wonderful, is saved for a brief chapter at the end, detailing what went wrong with it.) Still, he mines more advice and explanations about his creative role from those four films than most other directors are capable of finding in a whole career's worth.
Obviously the fact that he's an accomplished playwright means that he's more at ease with language than most filmmakers, and every page is full of fascinating surprises, as he manages to put complex ideas and aspects of his creative process into words.
I should only add that this isn't a book I would necessarily recommend to everyone. Minghella demonstrates such a ferocious intelligence that this would likely be over the head of the average casual film buff. This is not "Directing For Dummies." ("... For Dummies" is a highly successful series of books over here filled with pictures, graphs and easily digested blurb writing like in Time or Newsweek.) Instead, this is more like The Economist or The Wall Street Journal. Dense, challenging, but endlessly rewarding to those who want to be informed and have their perspective broadened.

Archangel [DVD]
Archangel [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Craig
Offered by Digizoneuk
Price: £34.99

35 of 50 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Robert Harris's bestseller gets the life sucked out of it., 14 Jun. 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Archangel [DVD] (DVD)
Everything about this production is disappointing. The direction is uninspired and ploddingly paced, the script is leaden and dull, and the leads are totally miscast. I have no problem with characters being changed significantly from a book, but the problem here is that we get the same characters as in the novel, but with actors totally unsuited to them.
Daniel Craig is a fine actor, but whoever thought of him as a world-weary, alcoholic American university professor who went to college in Moscow during the Soviet days is insane. He's far too young, too energetic and too physically fit for the role. And why on earth didn't they change his character's nationality at least?
Then there's the female lead. She may be a great actress in Russian, for all I know, but her English is incomprehensible most of the time, and she seems to have one all-purpose facial expression - annoyed. The chemistry between her and Craig seems to reach negative levels, as if they aren't even in the same film. She actually comes across as far more engaging when interviewed in the short featurette on the DVD.
The rest of the Russian actors also suffer from a total inability to convincingly speak English. The only exceptions are the handful of Latvian actors playing Russians. Their English is fine, but with their sing-songy Scandinavian accents they sound more like The Swedish Chef from The Muppets than Russians. They are hardly menacing, as they're meant to be.
The flashback portions of the film end up playing as some bizarre story of "Stalin In Love," and verge on the ridiculous, as the dictator is charmed by the innocence of a country girl he sees in a parade. Meanwhile, the plot holes are numerous, the biggest being the inexplicable fact that Craig's character speaks fluent Russian, but then, every now and then, seems to forget this fact, and depend on others to translate for him. Huh?
I expect big things from Mr. Craig; he's a major talent. One day this will deservedly be but a footnote on his bio.

The Piano Sings (O.S.T.)
The Piano Sings (O.S.T.)
Price: £10.26

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The essence of Nyman, 11 May 2005
Michael Nyman has said he composes evertyhing at his piano, this bit of information suddenly explains the distinctive sound of everything from saxophones to violins in his gorgeous music. It seems natural, then, for this album to launch his new personal label. It also gives a taste of what his recent 60th birthday concert must have been like. (A tantalizing glimpse of that event is shown in Winterbottom's new film "9 Songs.)
The album contains piano solo "interpretations of pieces originally written for film soundtracks between 1993 and 2003." It is an achingly simple and direct overview of Nyman's extraordinary output over the last decade.
I don't know if I'd recommend it as the ultimate Nyman album, I think I'd stick with "The Very Best" 2 disc set. Lovely as his piano solos are, the Michael Nyman Orchestra has a sound that should not be missed. Still, this is a close second to that release and an absolute essential for any film or modern classical music lover.
Mr. Nyman is an epically talented and important artist. Here's hoping he's able to release many more albums on his new label.

Lilya 4-Ever [DVD] [2002]
Lilya 4-Ever [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Oksana Akinshina

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reaches a level that all cinema aspires to, or ought to, 22 April 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lilya 4-Ever [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
My God. Films just don't get any better than this. It's not for everyone. This is not film as entertainment, as mindless diversion. This is raw, ferociously angry filmmaking at its most passionate.
Moodysson began as a poet, and has effortlessly become a poet of cinema, with technical skills that are unparalleled. He knows exactly where the camera should be at each moment, and when to cut. He also has an awesome power with music, picking pieces that elevate his images to the sublime.
From his actors, he extracts performances of searing humanity. Fourteen year-old Oksana Akinshina will never leave you after seeing this. She is on screen for the entire film, and is never less than mesmerizing.
Moodysson has taken on a desperately important subject, the abuse and trafficking of children, and made a profoundly human film. A film this unsparingly honest, intelligent, and without sentimentality is as much as any director can ever achieve in the medium. How amazing that he's still so young. Just think of the years of films to come from this talented man.

The Actors (Nyman)
The Actors (Nyman)
Offered by The UK Record Shop
Price: £29.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastically whimsical, breezy new album from Nyman, 31 Oct. 2003
This review is from: The Actors (Nyman) (Audio CD)
I'm a Michael Nyman completist, owning every CD, and this is one of my favorites. It's the lightest, most carefree music he's ever had the opportunity to write, and it's a delight.
A number of themes from 1997's sadly rejected score to "Practical Magic" pop up here, as others did in "The Claim," another must-buy by the way.
Nyman's energetic, driving style goes perfectly with the playful tone of this piece -- he's famously said that he cares more about the energy from performers than their getting every single solitary note perfect.
If you already know Nyman's music, this is one you have to buy, and if not it's a good, extremely accessible introduction to his style, minimalism that's highly emotional and human.

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