10 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
This should have been an Oscar nominee: A Soul to Last You A Lifetime!!!
26 January 2007
A+++ We need more films like this!!! Brilliant! Probably the most memorable film for me from this past year. This totally should have been an Oscar nominee...what happened? While the concept of following the winning kids in a national spelling bee is not new (see Spellbound-2002/also brilliant and a true-to-life documentary), director Doug Atchison brings such an amazing level of heart-and-soul to Akeelah and The Bee, that I have not witnessed in a movie in a long long long time. Although the "triumphing over all-odds" is a familiar plot, viewers will not be disappointed with the absolutely AMAZING DEPTH & DELIVERY of this story in the exceedingly capable hands of Keke Palmer (Akeelah), Laurence Fishburne (Dr. Larabee), and Angela Bassett (Tanya). I also really loved the excellent performance by J.R. Villareal who plays Javier and is an absolutely hysterical quick-study (not to mention well beyond his years). Keke Palmer and Villareal both deserve recognition for their incredible/exceedingly mature acting skills in this film-I hope we will be seeing a lot more from these very young/very sharp actors in years to come. Fishburne and Bassett are stunning as always! Also, I am a lover of words and I must admit, I learned some great new vocab words from this excellent little gem of a film (and Keke Palmer certainly knows how to put those words together for full effect, i.e. when she quickly snaps back at a cranky Laurence Fishuburne that she certainly does not need any help from a "DICTATORIAL, TRUCULENT, SUPERCILIOUS gardener"). A film which you can both love and learn as well as heartily laugh from...what more could you ask of a movie? There are so many great things to say about this film....JUST SEE IT/It's soul will stay with you for the rest of your life!!!
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WOW!!!...If ever a film deserved a DVD RELEASE!!!
6 June 2005
If ever a film deserved a DVD release, it is this small overlooked gem! Set in a small Scandanavian North Dakota farming community in the early 19th century, the film portrays the dignity of a tightly knit/culturally rich community of family farmers attempting to fight back/resist losing their farms (and indeed the community itself) to the insidious powers of unregulated banking, undercut prices/profit usurpation, and distant corporate takeovers from businesses that have no investment/interest in the survival of the rich tapestry that forms the basis of this community and the unbroken spirits of the strong-willed individuals that compose it. Within this superstructure of plot, we get a very unique glimpse into the Scandanavian language, character, customs, culture, family traditions, songs, and stories whose collective strength permitted this strong-willed/"no-nonsense" group of people to transplant their entire lives and families from the old-country to the new and eek out a way of life (indeed) survive the harsh conditions of frontier life on the Great Northern Plains of North America. As if that wasn't enough, the beautifully artistic camera work was purposefully shot in black-and-white, whose vivid contrasts of light and shadow very effectively conveys the sharp oppositions of this world and its characters as a superior means of etching its metaphors into our consciousness. People familiar with Luchino Visconti's 1948 masterpiece, "La Terra Trema" will find the themes and neorealistic approach here to be very similar and equivalent to the strength of a Visconti, Rossellini, or DeSica film. In fact, (on that note) this film very deservedly won the Camera D'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival. And yet most people have never even heard of it? Why?!?!?!...this is TRULY A LANDMARK in American independent film and American cultural legacy!!! PLEASE RELEASE THIS GEM ON DVD FOR THE WORLD TO SEE!!! Thank You.
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St. Elsewhere (1982–1988)
Where is THE DVD?!?!?
1 June 2005
Best television series ever for the 80's was "St. Elsewhere", best TV series for the 90's was "Northern Exposure" and best series for the millenium/00's is without a doubt, "The Soprano's". Is it any wonder that the underlying genius for writing credits in all three of these series comes from some of the same interconnected/co-influenced writing sources. But in the case of both St Elsewhere and Northern Exposure the primary writing sources that brought both of these wonderfully intelligent/original/GREAT FULLY Developed/HUMANELY REAL CHARACTERS and genuinely heartfelt (without being sappy) scripts to life were Joshua Brand and John Falsey. We are getting Northern Exposure GRADUALLY (too slow if you ask me) released out on DVD-so where is Saint Elsewhere? With such an award-winning show starring the then very young/unheard of Denzel Washington (truly the magnificent performance that launched his career) and other GREATS like Howie Mandel, William Daniels, Ed Begley Jr., Norman Loyd, Ed Flanders, (and who could ever forget the endearingly annoying character of Mrs. Huffnagel!!! I AM SHOCKED AND DISMAYED THAT A DVD RELEASE FOR THIS WONDERFUL SHOW HAS BEEN OVERLOOKED FOR SO LONG!!! PLEASE RELEASE ON DVD ASAP!!!
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Henry V (1944)
16 April 2005
I watched both of Olivier's and Branagh's versions of Henry V and can't believe there would be any debate that Olivier's is the BEST!!! To newer generations, Branagh might be more alluring in more sophisticated technical cinematic special-effects but Olivier's version is much more in line with what "The Bard" had in mind. I have read reviews by peers of my own generation (I am in my early 30's) and constantly hear a critique of Olivier as appearing too "stagey". COME ON PEOPLE, Shakespeare IS ALLLLLLL ABOUT "THE STAGE"--and the interaction of that Stage with a theatrical audience--after-all, Shakespeare was not meant to be viewed in MEGA-CINEPLEX 10-- I think that Branagh's version falls short exactly because it takes it off the stage and tries to make it into a truly loses something in the process. Olivier's brilliance is that no one/BAR NONE had a more comprehensive command over Shakespeare's language, intonation, and intention in acting, which is perhaps exactly why-to this day-his vision was so "right-on" as a director. With Branagh, I was always aware I was watching a film whereas with Olivier, I became so absorbed in the play that I forgot what medium I was watching it through. This is extraordinarily helped by the fact that Olivier really puts this in historical context for us-i.e, opens his film up ON THE STAGE OF THE 16th century GLOBE THEATRE...he takes us down from an aerial view (with the surrounding architecture of a 16th century English hamlet) into the intimacies of the stage, behind the stage, and ultimately the "players" interaction with the almost bawdy 16th century audience -whose permission to imagine/visualize the story they were about to weave before our eyes was humbly asked of its participants common audience.) Olivier also reminds us (through this) that though today we tend to relegate Shakespeare to "high-fallutin' types, thus preempting the fact that the audience of the day and age was anything but-which really humanizes the experience for us-makes it more tangible-Shakespeare was (at the time) truly written FOR and given permission to exist BY "the more common masses". Even Branagh's revisionist version of Henry V had to acknowledge Olivier's brilliance in this transition between theatrical illusion and audience acknowledgment except Branagh uses the much darker interior of a Hollywood-like studio, which though it might make it more accessible for a younger audience more accustomed to movies than theater (in my opinion) falls short of giving us the true ambiance of how Shakespeare was intended to be seen. BUT THE TRUE SUCCESS OF OLIVIER'S SUBSEQUENT EXECUTION of the play is that he VERY SEAMLESSLY transitions off the stage and into the countryside of England, crossing the English Channel to France, and finally the culminating battle of Agincourt without the viewer even being aware this has happened. But every brilliant writer knows that he must bring his subject back full circle to where it opened-and subsequently Olivier brings us back onto the stage of our 16th century Globe theater before humbly addressing the audience upon whose success or failure of the plays ability to have conjured their imaginations solely relies. Of course Olivier's "prop-technicolor- 1940's and 50's backdrops might seem too unsophisticated for a younger audience but how he executes the play (and most important) where he takes our own imaginations in the process is why this version will always provide the penultimate experience.
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This is THE FILM that should have taken BEST PICTURE
27 March 2005
Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp are without a doubt the best actress and best actor of a new generation. When put together, the result is nothing short of brilliant! I can't imagine any other two people giving these roles the dignity, depth, sensitivity, and magic they deserve. Out of all the possible nominees, THIS IS THE FILM that SHOULD HAVE taken BEST PICTURE and each of them should have taken home best actor/best actress. Would love to see this pair teamed up for future such INTELLIGENT endeavors in film. This is a far more intelligent, substantial, and ultimately MOVING film (more worthy of Winslet & Depps capacities) than either of the glossy plastic Hollywood productions of Titanic or Pirates of The Caribbean. Additional acknowledgment should be given to Freddie Highmore(the child who played Peter)who proves to be unbelievably affective/shockingly beyond his years and may just prove to be one of the best actors of the next generation. Clap your hands together if you believe in faeries!!! This film definitely gets my vote!!!
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6 September 2004
I should qualify,

First of all, this is the best, most encapsulating movie of the 80's ever produced, IT IS THE SINGULAR HIGHEST PERFOMRNACE OF BURNDADETTE PETERS (which is an outstanding recommendation considering how talented this woman is/even with that talent she has been circumscribed by second-rate films which do not do justice to HER TALENT WHICH THIS FILM TOTALLY DOES!!!)...DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY THIS HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED ON DVD???....this is (and I usually like books better/and having read this novel) the BEST reproduciton of Tama Janowitz's novel-and (having lived in the East Village of NYC during this period) THE MOST STRAIGHTFOWARD/TRUTHFUL/ACCURATE OF FILM REPRESENTATIONS...this is a modern Don Quixote set to 80's East Village setting...the music selection could NOT BE MORE PERFECT!!! (and is still more inspiring than anything produced today)..the character of Stash also amazing....but Burnadette Peters with Ashtray Lopsided Hat is beyond PERFECT...this is perhaps MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME...PLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE RELEASE ON DVD...Merchant/Ivory has never produced anything less than a first rate film!!!!!..that should also make it a sure bett for those concerned more with financial risk of releasing this CLASSIC!!!!
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Would love to see this on DVD!!!
16 August 2004
Growing up in NYC in the late 80's/early 90's club-scene, I can personally say this is one of the most important documentaries made in covering that place in this time period. No Madonna did not come up with the idea of Voguing but this is where she got it from! Instead of taking out violence on each other or in bitchy cat fights, voguing allowed people to "fight" within the confines of everything short of touching each other (which would warrant an automatic disqualification). Seeing these kind of extraordinarily talented/well orchestrated "throw-downs" in the clubs was nothing short of spectacular and all the big names from back in the day are here...Pepper La Beija, Paris Duprée,Xtragavaganza, etc...all commemorated in the likes of such period-pieces as Malcom McLaren's song "Deep in Vogue" didn't matter who you were, or where you were from because when you walked through those doors into this "magic kingdom" of sorts, you became part of something bigger than yourself/you were important/and most importantly the creation of your own moves and imagination...and anybody from anywhere could become King (or Queen) as the case may have been. The words and wit were just as sharp as the moves on the floor. All of the tension, excitement, and magic of that very urban NYC energy is captured in this film. BRILLIANT!!! PLEASE RELEASE ON DVD for the world to see!!! Thank You!
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WHERE IS THIS DVD and other similar greats of same period???
11 August 2004
This film is absolutely one of the most heart-warming and wholesome classics of all time. Irene Dunne ("Mama") is STUNNING as is her comically gruff character opposite ("Uncle Chris")portrayed brilliantly by Oscar Homolka. Both of their performances here were nominated for Academy awards in 1945.To boot, this film had one of the most amazing directors ever George Stevens(the director of PENNY SERENADE-also in desperate need of a higher quality DVD release-, Talk of The Town, Shane & Giant just to name a few) The story of I REMEMBER MAMA is rich, dramatic, and yet manages to be highly comical at moments-has the same feel-good qualities that other 40's films like "It's A Wonderful Life" brought to the screen in only a manner that the 1940's has been capable of creating since then. I can not understand why this has not yet been released on DVD along with two other equally amazing/classic pictures from the mid-1940s, Kazan's "A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN" (1945) & The PITCURE OF DORIAN GRAY from the same year. PLEASE RELEASE, I REMEMBER MAMA, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, THE PITCURE OF DORIAN GRAY and a higher quality DVD restoration of PENNY SERENADE!!! Thank you.
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11 August 2004
ONE OF THE BEST FILMS OF THE 40's. The comparably dull and uninspiring 70's remake of this film can in no way compare to this BEAUTIFUL original 1945 masterpiece, which deserves to be seen in its original black-and-white splendor. Starring Angela Lansbury (who was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for her role in this film-one of her earliest and best roles to date), Donna Reed (who was to do, "It's a Wonderful life the very next year"), George Sanders (seen here a few years before he played his role as theatre critic,'Addison De Witt' in "All About Eve"), and the appropriately stunningly handsome Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray (probably much closer to what Oscar Wilde had in mind for this characters more dapper & gentleman-like depiction in his novel than what was shabbily reproduced in the 70's), how could this be overlooked for a DVD release??? Having been cleverly written by Oscar Wilde, it is one of the few important literary classics ("Great Expectations-1946-was another) that actually translated well-if not superbly- to the silver screen. PLEASE RELEASE A HIGH-QUALITY TRANSFER OF THIS 1940's CLASSIC MASTERPIECE , "THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY""ON DVD!!! Thank You.
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Strange Fruit (2002)
14 July 2004
This is truly one of the most intriguingly rich documentaries I have ever seen illuminated on the screen. I was fortunate enough to catch it at The Seattle Film festival a couple of years ago and have been looking for the DVD ever since. Where might this be? I know it received several awards and can't imagine why it has not been released yet._THIS IS A GEM NOT TO BE LOST!!! "Strange Fruit" very masterfully combines History, Biography, and Jazz Music. It starts with the simple premise of a song, "Strange Fruit", which Bronx-born school teacher-Abel Merepol wrote the lyrics for and jazz diva Billie Holliday later made famous. Although there was some conflict about whom should have rightfully received credit for this song "back in the day" (I will not reveal too much),-the fact that the writer was Jewish and the singer African American helps us to understand the sensitivity of the lyrics themselves as the story unfolds a rich -if previously unspoken-tapestry of the American Soul- revealed to us via one of the greatest of all American contributions-jazz music!!! This documentary is a powerful acknowledgment of the people and history that gave us this legacy and to whom we owe much recognition. I think the viewer will find themselves glued to their seat as the behind-the-scenes story of the 30's and 40's New York Jazz scene/its venues unfolds with the music. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THIS ON DVD!!! Any info out there on a planned DVD release?
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