Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Get Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Amazon.com
Howard Keel and Jane Powell are rapturous newlyweds who tame his six rowdy bachelor brothers in the wild Oregon backwoods in this Best Score Academy Award(R)-winning song-and-dance-filled comedy.
Well, bless my beautiful hide! Director Stanley Donen invests this rollicking musical with a hearty exuberance. Howard Keel, with his big-as-all-outdoors baritone, stars as a bold "mountain man" living in the Oregon woods who brings home a bride (plucky songbird soprano Jane Powell) to his six slovenly brothers. Taming the rambunctious brood, Jane proceeds to make gentlemen of them so they can woo sweethearts of their own. But old habits die hard: their flirting gives way to fighting in the film's celebrated barn-raising scene, a lively acrobatic dance number exuberantly choreographed by Michael Kidd. Big brother chimes in with his own brand of advice--an old-fashioned kidnapping! Donen manages to get away with such a politically incorrect plot by investing the boys with a innocent sweetness, most notably the youngest brother played with genial earnestness by Rusty (Russ) Tamblyn (pre-West Side Story). This modest production became a huge hit and remains one of MGM's best-loved musical comedies, an energetic, high-kicking classic.
What could be better than singing by Howard Keel and Jane Powell? The music is great, the colors bright and vivid, the choreography wonderful.
To our modern eyes, the story of this 1954 musical seems a little outdated--the attitudes towards women are somewhat distasteful. Howard Keel's character, Adam, needs someone to clean and cook for his household of 6 wild brothers, so he just goes into town and "acquires" a wife, poor Millie (Jane Powell) who has no idea what is in store for her.
When the boys decide they need wives, they just go into town, kidnap a batch of girls, beat the girls' boyfriends insensible, and spend the winter snowbound with the girls who miraculously fall in love with them. OK, well then...
But, the charm of this musical somehow allows us to overlook all of this, and Millie's sheer spunkiness in trying to tame these wild men redeems them somehow. So everyone learns his lesson and all ends well.
This musical is also interesting in that it showcases several young talents who became better known in later years: The character of Dorcas is played by Julie Newmeyer (a young Julie Newmar, Catwoman in the TV series Batman in later years), Russ Tamblyn (future star of West Side Story), and Ruta Kilmonis (later semi-celebrity Ruta Lee). Even in this very early outing, Julie Newmar's distinctive voice and looks make her stand out.
The director, Stanley Donen, directed some of the best musicals in the 50s, including Damn Yankees, Singing in the Rain, Kismet (uncredited), and Royal Wedding. Inexplicably, in his later career, he directed such bombs as Saturn 3 (1980).
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Get The King and I at Amazon.com
This visual and musical masterpiece features Yul Brynner's Academy Award(r) winning performance, an inforgettable Rodgers and Hammerstein(r) score, and brilliant choreography by Jerome Robbins. It tells the true story of an Englishwoman, Anna Leonowens (Deborah Kerr), who comes o Siam as schoolteacher to the royal court in the 1860's. Though she soon finds herself at odds with the stubborn monarch (Brynner), over time, Anna and the King stop trying to change each other and begin to understand one another.
The third Rodgers & Hammerstein Broadway hit to go before the cameras, The King and I boasts a career-making performance from Yul Brynner, repeating his stage triumph as the titular monarch and proving to moviegoers that bald can be beautiful. It's Brynner's proud king that provides the fulcrum to the plot, and it's Brynner himself, with his piercing gaze and graceful physicality, that demands our attention.
The story line, adapted from an earlier, nonmusical stage hit, follows widowed English teacher Anna Leonowens (Deborah Kerr) to her new posting as tutor to the Siamese king's formidable mob of children. The collision of East and West affords its winning mixture of drama and humor, and the warm friendship that grows between the king and the patrician teacher provides a poignant, unfulfilled romance between the two wary protagonists. Into this framework, the composers insert a superb score, echoing Asian motifs, as well as a bouquet of lovely songs including "Hello, Young Lovers," "Shall We Dance," and two ensemble pieces for Anna and the royal children ("Getting to Know You" and "I Whistle a Happy Tune") that suggest prototypes for Rodgers & Hammerstein's later hit, The Sound of Music.For this 1956 production, 20th Century Fox lavished stereophonic sound, widescreen cinematography, intricate production design, and stunning sets. Technically, this newly mastered THX version is the best-looking and -sounding King yet to hit video, but in its full-frame, pan-and- scan version the formatting downsizes far too much of the splendor, losing some sharpness to the imagery. For viewing on all but the smallest screens, the widescreen edition is vastly superior. But, in either version, the glorious music is reason enough to hit "play."
Monday, December 26, 2011
Get My Fair Lady at Amazon.com
Hollywood's legendary "woman's director," George Cukor (The Women, The Philadelphia Story), transformed Audrey Hepburn into street-urchin-turned-proper-lady Eliza Doolittle in this film version of the Lerner and Loewe musical. Based on George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, My Fair Lady stars Rex Harrison as linguist Henry Higgins (Harrison also played the role, opposite Julie Andrews, on stage), who draws Eliza into a social experiment that works almost too well. The letterbox edition of this film on video certainly pays tribute to the pageantry of Cukor's set, but it also underscores a certain visual stiffness that can slow viewer enthusiasm just a tad. But it's really star wattage that keeps this film exciting, that and such great songs as "On the Street Where You Live" and "I Could Have Danced All Night." Actor Jeremy Brett, who gained a huge following later in life portraying Sherlock Holmes, is quite electric as Eliza's determined suitor.
At one time the longest-running Broadway musical, My Fair Lady was adapted by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe from the George Bernard Shaw comedy Pygmalion. Outside Covent Garden on a rainy evening in 1912, dishevelled cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) meets linguistic expert Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison). After delivering a musical tirade against "verbal class distinction," Higgins tells his companion Colonel Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White) that, within six months, he could transform Eliza into a proper lady, simply by teaching her proper English. The next morning, face and hands freshly scrubbed, Eliza presents herself on Higgins' doorstep, offering to pay him to teach her to be a lady. "It's almost irresistable," clucks Higgins. "She's so deliciously low. So horribly dirty." He turns his mission into a sporting proposition, making a bet with Pickering that he can accomplish his six-month miracle to turn Eliza into a lady. This is one of the all-time great movie musicals, featuring classic songs and the legendary performances of Harrison, repeating his stage role after Cary Grant wisely turned down the movie job, and Stanley Holloway as Eliza's dustman father. Julie Andrews originated the role of Eliza on Broadway but producer Jack Warner felt that Andrews, at the time unknown beyond Broadway, wasn't bankable; Hepburn's singing was dubbed by Marni Nixon, who also dubbed Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961). Andrews instead made Mary Poppins, for which she was given the Best Actress Oscar, beating out Hepburn. The movie, however, won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Harrison, and five other Oscars, and it remains one of the all-time best movie musicals.
- More Lovely Than Ever: The Making of My Fair Lady Then & Now
- Vintage 1963/ 1964 Featurettes, Footage and Audio
- Alternate Audrey Hepburn Vocals
- Show Me Galleries
- Comments on A Lady
- Commentary (English, Japanese subtitles)
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Get The Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection at Amazon.com
The Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection contains film versions of the five major works by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who helped define the American musical landscape and rewrite the direction of musical theater. After enjoying extremely successful careers working with others, Rodgers and Hammerstein first teamed up in 1943 for the prairie tale Oklahoma!, with songs including "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" and "People Will Say We're in Love." The subsequent 1955 film starred Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, who teamed up again for 1956's Carousel. While that film's dark nature made it less popular than its predecessor, the score ("If I Loved You," "You'll Never Walk Alone") was Rodgers's favorite. The King and I (also 1956) featured stage star Yul Brynner as the King of Siam and Deborah Kerr as schoolteacher Anna Leonowens, who must learn Asian customs even as she tries to instill some of her Western ones. The somewhat bloated version of South Pacific (1958) follows two couples during World War II and features standards such as "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" and "Some Enchanted Evening" from stars Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi. The last film, The Sound of Music (1965), proved to be the most popular, with Julie Andrews winning the hearts of seven children and their father with her blissful songs. And if the perhaps saccharine music and plot may test the patience of some, there's no doubt that songs such as "My Favorite Things" and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" have charmed audiences around the world for decades. Accompanying the Big 5 in this set is the relatively minor State Fair from 1945 (though it does have "It Might as Well Be Spring" and "It's a Grand Night for Singing"). Some may expect and prefer other entries in the R&H canon such as Flower Drum Song or the television production Cinderella, but those were produced by different studios.
This 12-disc set from 2006 includes the two-disc special editions of each film, remastered and anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TVs (except State Fair, which was shot in traditional 1.33:1 aspect ratio). Bonus features include the Todd-AO version of Oklahoma! (which should look better than the CinemaScope version but doesn't); 40th-anniversary bonus material for The Sound of Music, including a commentary track by Julie Andrews; Lilliom, the 1934 film based on the same story as Carousel; and the 1962 version of State Fair starring Pat Boone and Ann-Margaret.
Disc 1: Carousel Special Edition Disc 2: Carousel Special Edition-Bonus Disc Disc 3: King and I Special Edition Disc 4: King and I Special Edition-Bonus Disc Disc 5: South Pacific Special Edition Disc 6: South Pacific Special Edition-Bonus Disc Disc 7: Sound of Music Special Edition Disc 8: Sound of Music Special Edition-Bonus Disc Disc 9: State Fair Special Edition Disc 10: State Fair Special Edition-Bonus Disc Disc 11: Oklahoma Special Edition Disc 12: Oklahoma Special Edition-Bonus Disc
Oh, what a beautiful collection! These 6 films from the most successful writing team in the American musical theater have been available on DVD for years--but not like this! All 6 have now been fully remastered to meet the demands of the latest TV and computer equipment. They have always been great, but they've truly never looked and sounded better than they do now.
But wait--there's more! This package includes a generous bunch of extras: documentaries, deleted material, alternate versions, interviews, running commentaries, soundtrack albums, performances by stars from the original stage productions, even a remake of STATE FAIR from 1962. The extras alone are a good reason to upgrade your copies--or to get them for the first time.
If you're looking for colorful, romantic stories with brilliant performances and a virtual catalogue of nearly 100 of the very best show tunes in history, you couldn't make a better purchase. These are, quite simply, the finest films of their kind. No serious DVD collection is complete without them. Watch. Listen. Enjoy!
This is one of the finest DVD collections ever produced. Fox has added the same three anniversary editions from last year--"Oklahoma," "State Fair," and "The Sound Of Music"--to a thin-pack set with this year's bonanzas: "Carousel," "The King And I," and for good measure, although it's not an anniversary, "South Pacific." Extras abound here with such delight that it should take the dedicated viewer many nights to fully appreciate all the contents. For example, the 1934 "Liliom," the French film based on Ferenc Molnar's play, that establishes the story of "Carousel" as a drama, is a special gift from Fox. The 55mm and Todd- AO versions of several films are now fully available and the Road Show version of "South Pacific" is presented. Richard Barrios, one of our major experts in film musicals provides the commentary (with others) for "State Fair," "The King And I," and "South Pacific." There are excerpts from TV and Broadway versions of songs and numerous other bonuses that are exhilarating.
Remember, too, that "South Pacific" had what was in 1958 considered by many in the industry to be the finest example of sound design and engineering to that time, and it won the Oscar for Best Sound.
The compact set, which is apparently the new industry standard, also features a short but very useful booklet. If you love Richard Rodgers and his second partner, Oscar Hammerstein II, this box set should be number one on your list right now.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Get the The Sound of Music Three-Disc 45th Anniversary set at Amazon.com
When Julie Andrews sang "The hills are alive with the sound of music" from an Austrian mountaintop in 1965, the most beloved movie musical was born. To be sure, the adaptation of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's Broadway hit has never been as universally acclaimed as, say, Singin' in the Rain. Critics argue that the songs are saccharine (even the songwriters regretted the line "To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray") and that the characters and plot lack the complexity that could make them more interesting. It's not hard to know whom to root for when your choice is between cute kids and Nazis. It doesn't matter. Audiences fell in love with the struggling novice Maria (Andrews), the dashing Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), and, yes, the cute kids, all based on a real-life World War II Austrian family. Such songs as "My Favorite Things," "Do Re Mi," "Climb Every Mountain," and the title tune became part of the 20th century Zeitgeist. In addition, The Sound of Music officially became a cult hit when audiences in London began giving it the Rocky Horror Picture Show treatment, attending showings dressed as their favorite characters and delivering choreographed comments and gestures along with the movie.
Disc 1 Blu-ray:
Disc 2 Blu-ray:
Disc 3 DVD:
Friday, December 23, 2011
Get the Gone with the Wind (70th Anniversary Edition) at Amazon.com
David O. Selznick wanted Gone with the Wind to be somehow more than a movie, a film that would broaden the very idea of what a film could be and do and look like. In many respects he got what he worked so hard to achieve in this 1939 epic (and all-time box-office champ in terms of tickets sold), and in some respects he fell far short of the goal. While the first half of this Civil War drama is taut and suspenseful and nostalgic, the second is ramshackle and arbitrary. But there's no question that the film is an enormous achievement in terms of its every resource--art direction, color, sound, cinematography--being pushed to new limits for the greater glory of telling an American story as fully as possible. Vivien Leigh is still magnificently narcissistic, Olivia de Havilland angelic and lovely, Leslie Howard reckless and aristocratic. As for Clark Gable: we're talking one of the most vital, masculine performances ever committed to film.
It seems like a 'new, improved' edition of "Gone With the Wind" has appeared every couple of years, offering the 'ultimate' in picture and sound reproduction, and extras. It can become expensive keeping up, and frustrating (much like buying a classic Disney DVD, when you know a more complete "Special Edition" will soon render your "First Time on Video" copy obsolete), but the new GWTW Four-Disc Collector's Edition most assuredly deserves a place in your collection.
First off, the picture and sound quality is astonishing. Warner's Ultra-Resolution process, which 'locks' the three Technicolor strips into exact alignment, provides a clarity and 'crispness' to the images that even the 1939 original print couldn't achieve. You'll honestly believe your TV is picking up HD, whether you're HD-ready, or not! This carries over to the Dolby Digital-remastered sound, as well. All of the tell-tale hiss and scratchiness of the opening credit title music, still discernable in the last upgrade, is gone, replaced by a richness of tone that will give your home theater a good workout. (Listen to the brass in this sequence, and you'll notice what I'm talking about...)
The biggest selling point of this edition is, of course, the two discs of additional features offered, and these are, in general, superb. Beginning with the excellent "Making of a Legend" (narrated by Christopher Plummer), Disc Three offers fascinating overviews about the film, the amazing restoration, footage from the 1939 Premiere (and the bittersweet 1961 Civil War Centennial reunion of Selznick, Leigh, and de Havilland), glimpses of Gable and Leigh with dubbed voices for the foreign-language versions, the international Prologue (tacked on to explain the Civil War to foreign audiences), and a 1940 MGM documentary on the "Old South" (directed by Fred Zinneman) memorable today for it's simplistic view of the time, and stereotypical portrayal of blacks.
Disc Four is a mixed bag; the long-awaited reminiscences of Olivia de Havilland are more chatty than informative (with the 90-year-old actress more interested in discussing her wardrobe than on-set tension...although a prank she pulled on Gable is amusing), and the Clark Gable Profile is superficial (A&E's biography of 'The King' is far superior). Things improve, however, with the insightful, sympathetic TCM biography of Vivien Leigh (hosted by Jessica Lange), and a WONDERFUL section devoted to brief bios of many of the GWTW supporting cast, narrated, again, by Christopher Plummer (although I wish the filmmakers would have included bios for Ward Bond, Victor Jory, Fred Crane, and George 'Superman' Reeves).
All in all, the GWTW Four-Disc Collector's Edition isn't perfect, but offers so much terrific material that it is CERTAINLY the one to own!
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Get The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Edition) at Amazon
When it was released during Hollywood's golden year of 1939, The Wizard of Oz didn't start out as the perennial classic it has since become. The film did respectable business, but it wasn't until its debut on television that this family favorite saw its popularity soar. And while Oz's TV broadcasts are now controlled by media mogul Ted Turner (who owns the rights), the advent of home video has made this lively musical a mainstay in the staple diet of great American films. Young Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland), her dog, Toto, and her three companions on the yellow brick road to Oz--the Tin Man (Jack Haley), the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), and the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger)--have become pop-culture icons and central figures in the legacy of fantasy for children. As the Wicked Witch who covets Dorothy's enchanted ruby slippers, Margaret Hamilton has had the singular honor of scaring the wits out of children for more than six decades. The film's still as fresh, frightening, and funny as it was when first released. It may take some liberal detours from the original story by L. Frank Baum, but it's loyal to the Baum legacy while charting its own course as a spectacular film. Shot in glorious Technicolor, befitting its dynamic production design (Munchkinland alone is a psychedelic explosion of color and decor), The Wizard of Oz may not appeal to every taste as the years go by, but it's required viewing for kids of all ages.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Get The Neverending Story at Amazon.com
Wolfgang Petersen (In the Line of Fire) made his first English-language film with this 1984 fantasy about a boy (Barret Oliver) visualizing the stories of a book he's reading. The imagined tale involves another boy, a warrior (Noah Hathaway), and his efforts to save the empire of Fantasia from a nemesis called the Nothing. Whether or not the scenario sticks in the memory, what does linger are the unique effects, which are not quite like anything else. Plenty of good fairy-tale characters and memorable scenes, and the film even encourages kids to read.
In 1994, Wolfgang Petersen directed the film adaptation of the German novel "Die Unendliche Geschichte", which was written by Michael Ende (1929-1995). The film/novel is better known in the U.S. with its English title of "The Neverending Story". It was also the first film that Wolfgang Petersen filmed in English. The story begins with a troubled boy named Bastian (Barret Oliver), who is being raised by his father (Gerald McRaney). An avid reader with an active imagination, Bastian walks into a used bookstore owned by Mr. Koreander (Thomas Hill) and finds a mysterious book that captures his curiosity. Mr. Koreander seemingly doesn't want to sell the book to him, but Bastian manages to run from the store with book in hand. Bastian takes the book to school with him, where he is tormented by three bullies (Drum Garrett, Darryl Cooksey & Nicholas Gilbert). To avoid the bullies, Bastian finds refuge in a rarely-used attic within the school and begins to read from the book about a magical land called Fantasia. Fantasia is a wonderful place with many unusual characters and is ruled by the Childlike Princess (Tami Stronach), but something terrible is happening to Fantasia as parts of it are disappearing by an unknown force referred to only as "the nothing". The Childlike Princess calls upon the strongest warrior to find a human child to stop "the nothing". The warrior, a boy named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) of a tribe similar to Native Americans, takes the protective signet that the Childlike Princess gives to him and sets off to find a human child, which can only be found beyond the bounds of Fantasia. To his astonishment, as Bastian reads the book and the many adventures, challenges and dangers and Atreyu faces, Bastian slowly begins to realize whom Atreyu and the Childlike Princess are actually seeking.
With imaginative characters, good cinematography & special effects and an endearing & well-written story, "The Neverending Story" is a wonderful and engaging film that not only captures Bastian's imagination in the story, but the audience's imagination as well. Other memorable characters in the film include Teeny Weeny (Deep Roy), Night Hob (Tilo Prückner), Cairon (Moses Gunn), Engywook (Sydney Bromley), Urgl (Patricia Hayes), Falkor (voice of Alan Oppenheimer), Rock Biter, the Racing Snail and the Bat. Overall, I rate "The Neverending Story" with 5 out of 5 stars and very highly recommend it to both young & old alike. It's a wonderful film that can be watched time and again without becoming tiresome. Sadly, the film's two sequels (produced in 1990 & 1994) were far less memorable. Other films directed by Wolfgang Petersen include "Das Boot" (1981), "Enemy Mine" (1985), "The Perfect Storm" (2000) and "Troy" (2004).
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Get the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Goonies at Amazon.com
From the imagination of Steven Spielberg, The Goonies plunges a band of small heroes into a swashbuckling surprise-around-every corner quest beyond their wildest dreams! Following a mysterious treasure map into a spectacular underground realm of twisting passages, outrageous booby-traps and a long-lost pirate ship full of golden doubloons, the kids race to stay one step ahead of a family of bumbling bad guys…and a mild mannered monster with a face only a mother could love.
You may be surprised to discover that the director of the Lethal Weapon movies and scary horror flick The Omen, Richard Donner, also produced and directed this classic children's adventure (which, by the way, was written by Donner's screen-wizard friend Steven Spielberg). Then again you may not. The Goonies, like Donner's other movies, is the same story of good versus evil. It has its share of bad guys (the Fratelli brothers and their villainous mother), reluctant-hero good guys (the Walsh bothers and their gang of friends), and lots of corny one-liners. Like in an old-fashioned Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew plot, the Goonies need to solve a problem: a corrupt corporate developer has bought out their neighborhood and plans to flatten all their homes. Luckily, the beloved gang stumbles on a treasure map. In the hopes of finding the treasure to buy back their houses, the Goonies embark on their quest through underground passages, aboard pirate ships, and behind waterfalls. This swashbuckling and rollicking ride was also a great breeding ground for a couple of child actors who went on to enjoy numerous successes in adulthood: Sean Astin (Rudy, Encino Man) and Martha Plimpton (Pecker, 200 Cigarettes).
Monday, December 19, 2011
Get The Muppets at Amazon.com!
With the help of three fans, The Muppets must reunite to save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon. When 3 muppet fans learn that Tex Richman wants to drill under the muppet theater for oil Gary, Mary and Walter set out to find the muppets who have been split up for years Kermit lives in his own mansion depressed in hollywood, Gonzo is a high class plumber at Gonzo's Royal Flush, Fozzie performs with a tribute band called The Moopets , Miss Piggy is the plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, and Animal is at a celebrity anger managment rehab center in Santa Barbara.
Jason Segel ... Gary
Amy Adams ... Mary
Chris Cooper ... Tex Richman
Rashida Jones ... Veronica Martin
Steve Whitmire ... Kermit / Beaker / Statler / Rizzo / Link Hogthrob / The Newsman (voice)
Eric Jacobson ... Miss Piggy / Fozzie Bear / Animal / Sam Eagle / Marvin Suggs (voice)
Dave Goelz ... Gonzo / Dr. Bunsen Honeydew / Zoot / Beauregard / Waldorf / Kermit Moopet (voice)
Bill Barretta ... Swedish Chef / Rowlf / Dr. Teeth / Pepe the Prawn / Bobo / Muppet Gary (voice)
David Rudman ... Scooter / Janice / Miss Poogy / Wayne (voice)
Matt Vogel ... Sgt. Floyd Pepper / Camilla / Sweetums / 80's Robot / Lew Zealand / Uncle Deadly / Roowlf / Crazy Harry (voice)
Peter Linz ... Walter (voice)
Alan Arkin ... Tour Guide
Bill Cobbs ... Grandfather
Zach Galifianakis ... Hobo Joe
Ken Jeong ... 'Punch Teacher' Host
Jim Parsons ... Human Walter
Eddie Pepitone ... Postman
Kristen Schaal ... Moderator
Sarah Silverman ... Greeter
Eddie 'Piolin' Sotelo ... TV Executive
Raymond Ma ... Elderly Asian Man
Shu Lan Tuan ... Elderly Asian Woman
Donald Glover ... Junior CDE Executive
Dahlia Waingort ... TV Executive
Jonathan Palmer ... Reporter One
Don Yanan ... Reporter Two
Michael Albala ... TV Executive
Julia Marie Franzese ... 'Punch Teacher' Kid
Gunnar Smith ... Gary Age 6
Connor Gallagher ... Gary Age 9
Justin Marco ... Gary Age 13
Cameron Kasal ... Laughing Kid
Justin Tinucci ... Laughing Kid
Alex Long ... Laughing Kid
Aria Noelle Curzon ... Waitress
Emily Blunt ... Miss Piggy's Receptionist
James Carville ... Himself
Leslie Feist ... Herself
Whoopi Goldberg ... Herself
Selena Gomez ... Herself
David Grohl ... Animool
Neil Patrick Harris ... Himself
Judd Hirsch ... Himself
John Krasinski ... Himself
Rico Rodriguez ... Himself
Mickey Rooney ... Smalltown Resident
Tyler Bunch ... Foozie the Moopet / Thog / Additional Muppet Performer
Bruce Lanoil ... Additional Muppet Performer
Michelan Sisti ... Additional Muppet Performer
Paul McGinnis ... Additional Muppet Performer
Greg Ballora ... Additional Muppet Performer
David Alan Barclay ... Additional Muppet Performer
Tim Blaney ... Additional Muppet Performer
Kevin Carlson ... Additional Muppet Performer
Leslie Carrara ... Additional Muppet Performer (as Leslie Carrara-Rudolph)
Kristin Charney ... Additional Muppet Performer
Nathan Danforth ... Additional Muppet Performer (voice)
Alice Dinnean ... Additional Muppet Performer (voice)
Julia Gunn ... Additional Muppet Performer
BJ Guyer ... Additional Muppet Performer
Tanya Haden ... Additional Muppet Performer
Patrick Johnson ... Additional Muppet Performer
Sean W. Johnson ... Additional Muppet Performer
Len Levitt ... Additional Muppet Performer
James Murray ... Additional Muppet Performer
Michael Oosterom ... Additional Muppet Performer
Karen Prell ... Additional Muppet Performer
Mike Quinn ... Additional Muppet Performer
David Skelly ... Additional Muppet Performer
Andy Stone ... Additional Muppet Performer
Art Gonzalez Vega ... Additional Muppet Performer
Alex Villa ... Additional Muppet Performer
Chase Woolner ... Additional Muppet Performer
Matthew Broadley ... Friend of Tex - age 10
Johnny Cannizzaro ... Charlie Chaplin
Troy Christian ... Principal Dancer
Dan Crane ... Fishmonger (voice)
Charlie E. Schmidt Jr. ... Dancer
Danny Trejo ... Prisoner
Gabriel Aslan ... Baseball Player (uncredited)
Samuel Baca ... Driver (uncredited)
Cole Barba ... Carnival Teen (uncredited)
Greg Ber ... Stage Manager Voice (uncredited)
Jack Black ... Himself (uncredited)
Ross Blakeman ... French Waiter (uncredited)
David Buehrle ... Gary - age 16 (uncredited)
Kelly Connolly ... Dancer (uncredited)
Osa Danam ... Casino Gambler (uncredited)
Mike DeMille ... Urgent Man (uncredited)
Nick Drago ... Groom / Construction worker (uncredited)
Zuri Goldman ... Dancer / Paparazzi (uncredited)
Jane Graves ... French Vogue Assistant (uncredited)
Justin Hall ... Baseball Player (uncredited)
Reese C. Hartwig ... Punch Teacher Contestant (uncredited)
Jim Henson ... Kermit (archive footage) (uncredited)
Kenneth Hughes ... Homeless Man / Dancer (uncredited)
Valerie Humbard ... Telethon Audience Member (uncredited)
Bob Kaye ... Telethon Attendee (uncredited)
Linda Lay ... Journalist (uncredited)
Marca Leigh ... Dancer / Waitress (uncredited)
Angelina McCoy ... Tex's Showgirl (uncredited)
Cameron McIntyre ... Cub Scout (uncredited)
Chris Moss ... Dancer (uncredited)
Jerry Nelson ... Telethon Announcer (voice) (uncredited)
Erin Pickett ... Lady in Black Lace Camisole (uncredited)
Britt Sanborn ... Gary and Walter's Mom (uncredited)
Chris Spinelli ... Diner Patron (uncredited)
Victoria Strauss ... Student (uncredited)
Marco Tazioli ... Guy on Pier (uncredited)
Corey Webber ... Warehouse Worker (uncredited)
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Based on a retro-styled comic book hit of the '80s, this Disney film was meant to launch a whole line of Rocketeer films--but the series began and ended with this one. That's too bad, because this underrated Joe Johnston film has a certain loopy charm. The story centers on a pre-World War II stunt pilot (Bill Campbell) who accidentally comes into possession of a rocket-propelled backpack much coveted by the Nazis. With the aid of his mechanic pal (Alan Arkin), he gets it up and running, then uses it to foil a plot by a gang of vicious Nazi spies (is there any other kind?) led by Timothy Dalton. Jennifer Connelly is on hand as the love interest, but the real fun here is when the Rocketeer takes off. There's also a nifty battle atop an airborne blimp.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Get the Back to the Future Trilogy at Amazon.com
Actors: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson
Directors: Robert Zemeckis
Format: Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
Filmmaker Robert Zemeckis topped his breakaway hit Romancing the Stone with Back to the Future, a joyous comedy with a dazzling hook: what would it be like to meet your parents in their youth? Billed as a special-effects comedy, the imaginative film (the top box-office smash of 1985) has staying power because of the heart behind Zemeckis and Bob Gale's script. High schooler Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox, during the height of his TV success) is catapulted back to the '50s where he sees his parents in their teens, and accidentally changes the history of how Mom and Dad met. Filled with the humorous ideology of the '50s, filtered through the knowledge of the '80s (actor Ronald Reagan is president, ha!), the film comes off as a Twilight Zone episode written by Preston Sturges. Filled with memorable effects and two wonderfully off-key, perfectly cast performances: Christopher Lloyd as the crazy scientist who builds the time machine (a DeLorean luxury car) and Crispin Glover as Marty's geeky dad.
Critics and audiences didn't seem too happy with Back to the Future, Part II, the inventive, perhaps too clever sequel. Director Zemeckis and cast bent over backwards to add layers of time-travel complication, and while it surely exercises the brain it isn't necessarily funny in the same way that its predecessor was. It's well worth a visit, though, just to appreciate the imagination that went into it, particularly in a finale that has Marty watching his own actions from the first film.
Shot back-to-back with the second chapter in the trilogy, Back to the Future, Part III is less hectic than that film and has the same sweet spirit of the first, albeit in a whole new setting. This time, Marty ends up in the Old West of 1885, trying to prevent the death of mad scientist Christopher Lloyd at the hands of gunman Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson, who had a recurring role as the bully Biff). Director Zemeckis successfully blends exciting special effects with the traditions of a Western and comes up with something original and fun.
Get Kung Fu Panda 2 / Secrets of the Masters at Amazon.com
Kung Fu Panda 2 is a sequel that definitely lives up to its predecessor, thanks to excellent animation and a great mix of action, comedy, and important life lessons. Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black) has matured and mastered many new challenges since learning the art of kung fu and defeating the snow leopard Tai Lung, but he hasn't lost his penchant for steamed buns, nor has he achieved what his teacher Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) describes as true inner peace. Before he can settle into the arduous task of self-discovery, word arrives that a nearby town of musicians has been attacked and their leader Master Thundering Rhino (Victor Garber) killed by a newly invented weapon that breathes fire and spits out metal--a weapon that is a harbinger of the end of kung fu and the domination of all of China by Lord Shen (Gary Oldman). Po and the Furious Five (Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, David Cross, and Lucy Liu) set out to destroy the mysterious weapon and save kung fu, encountering the imprisoned and very dispirited kung fu legends Master Oxen (Dennis Haysbert) and Master Croc (Jean-Claude Van Damme) along the way, but the group quickly discovers that their task is far from simple. Even as Soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh) adamantly foretells Lord Shen's defeat at the hands of a warrior of black and white, Po struggles with the realization that he must come to terms with his adoption in order to let go of the past and become who he chooses to be. Only then can he achieve the inner peace that will empower him to triumph over his personal insecurities and Lord Shen. Kung Fu Panda 2 offers excellent animation and 3-D effects, nice brisk pacing, great voice talent, life lessons that ring true, and a healthy dose of comedy that includes everything from wisecracks to a dragon that eats unsuspecting villagers and then poops them out, and a radish trained in the art of kung fu.
Disc One (HD)
- Kung Fu Panda 2 movie
- An all-new Po adventure, Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters
- Sneak peek episode of the upcoming Nickelodeon TV series “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness”
- Blu-ray Exclusive Extras:
The Animator's Corner
- Filmmakers’ Commentary
- Kickin' It with the Cast
- Panda Stories: Inside the World of the Giant Panda
- Kung Fu Shuffle
- Nǐ Hǎo
- World of DreamWorks Animation
Disc Two (SD)
- Kung Fu Panda 2 movie
- Digital Copy Download: Kung Fu Panda 2
Kung Fu Panda World
- Get 2 free Kung Fu Panda World Online Game Memberships (memberships good through 4/30/12).
- Kung Fu Panda World is the virtual game world for kids to follow in Po’s footsteps to become a kung fu master.
- Create avatars, play games with favorite characters, win points towards earning a kung fu black belt, chat with friends and more!
Get Rise of the Planet of the Apes at Amazon.com
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Two-Disc Edition Blu Ray + DVD/Digital Copy Combo) [Blu-ray] (2011)
James Franco (Actor), Andy Serkis (Actor), Rupert Wyatt (Director) | Rated: PG-13 | Format: Blu-ray
A galaxy's worth of nihilism buried under a '70s Velveeta topping, the Planet of the Apes series stands today as a dark marvel of pop cinema, a group of wildly variable films that combine to form a giant inescapable kiss-off to the human race. (That said message was able to withstand such distractions as ever-cheapening makeup and Charlton Heston loudly pounding sand makes its achievements even more impressive, really.) Boasting a keen awareness of its predecessors' particular charms and a gem of a central CGI performance by Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes makes for a rather miraculous summer movie: a big-budget special effects extravaganza that also delivers a killer backhand. Sort of redoing 1972's Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, the film follows the events set in motion when a bereaved scientist (James Franco) attempts to create a cure for Alzheimer's, resulting in a supernaturally intelligent chimp named Caesar. The old bit about science tampering in God's domain quickly applies. Director Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) displays an admirable sense of pacing, deftly levying the escalating action scenes with small character moments from the likes of John Lithgow and Brian Cox. That said, the film belongs to Caesar, whose path from wide-eyed innocent to reluctant revolutionary generates the ironic pulp empathy that gave the original series such a kick. Watching the climactic confrontation on the Golden Gate Bridge, it's distressingly easy to figure out which side to root for. Chuck Heston would no doubt grit his teeth in approval. Note: Those skeptical that this revamp could wholly retain the original's doomy backbeat would do well to stick around during the end credits
Disc 1: Theatrical Feature Blu-ray
Mythology of the Apes
The Genius of Andy Serkis
A New Generation of Apes
Character Concept Art Gallery
Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries
Composing the Score with Patrick Doyle
The Great Apes
Audio Commentary by Director Rupert Wyatt
Audio Commentary by Writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver
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Disc 2: DVD + Digital Copy
Monday, December 12, 2011
Get The Pacific from Amazon.com
Profiles of The Pacific: Delve into the lives of the real Marines featured in The Pacific
Making The Pacific: Go behind the scenes and take an inside look at the making of the miniseries
Anatomy of the Pacific War: Explore the historical influences and cultural perceptions that led to the merciless brutality in the Pacific theater of World War II
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have long since shown that they can spin a good World War II yarn. But while their previous collaborations (Saving Private Ryan, which they starred in and directed, respectively, and Band of Brothers, for which they were part of the producing team) were set in Europe, The Pacific is their first look at the conflict with the Japanese on the other side of the world--and the two executive producers, along with an outstanding cast, an able crew, and a slew of top-notch writers and directors, have done a superb job. In making a 10-episode HBO miniseries (on five discs, with a sixth containing bonus material) that combines real events and participants with other dramatic elements newly created for the project, the filmmakers took a personal, experiential approach, focusing in particular on three marines, all of them real individuals: Robert Leckie (played by James Badge Dale), an aspiring writer who sees his first action at Guadalcanal, falls in love while on leave in Australia, and later suffers serious war wounds; John Balisone (Jon Seda), who performs heroically at Guadalcanal, earns a Medal of Honor, and is then sent home to help sell war bonds, only to return to action at Iwo Jima; and Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello), who enlists later than the others, but not too late to witness and take part in some unimaginable horrors (books written by Sledge and Leckie about their experiences were used as source material for the miniseries). Of course, no one who's never been in combat can understand what it's really like, but through these three, and other men as well, we get some idea of the debilitating effects of war, both physical and psychological, and how those who managed to survive it might cope. As Leckie would write, "There are things men can do to one another that are sobering to the soul. It is one thing to reconcile these things with God, but another to square them with yourself."
A number of episodes depict the characters at home, on leave, or otherwise away from the field of battle, but the greatest impact comes from the extraordinarily powerful fighting scenes in which the marines--exhausted, half-starving, riddled with malaria, and enduring the appalling conditions (from extreme heat to relentless, torrential downpours) of an impenetrable, unforgiving jungle--battle an implacable, fanatical foe who would much rather die than surrender or be taken prisoner. A sequence in Part Five, when we're with Sledge as he lands at Peleliu for his first real action, is especially gripping; battles at night and in the rain at Cape Gloucester in Part Four, on Iwo Jima in Part Eight, and on Okinawa in Part Nine are also wrenching, but really, all the fighting sequences manage to convey the sheer, visceral terror the men experienced. To the filmmakers' credit, a number of real WWII veterans are on hand to share their memories, both in a 49-minute featurette on disc 6 and during the short introductions to each episode narrated by Hanks. Other extras include a 22-minute "making of" piece and a brief but interesting description of the cultural differences that made the conflict between the Japanese and the Americans even more brutal than it might have been. Kudos also go to the packaging and design of the boxed set; the menus are easily navigable, offering a synopsis of each episode. --Sam Graham
The Pacific is an epic 10-part miniseries that delivers a realistic portrait of WWII's Pacific Theatre as seen through the intertwined odysseys of three U.S. Marines - Robert Leckie, John Basilone and Eugene Sledge. The extraordinary experiences of these men and their fellow Marines take them from the first clash with the Japanese in the haunted jungles of Guadalcanal, through the impenetrable rain firests of Cape Gloucester, across the blasted coral strongholds of Peleliu, up the black sand terraces of Iwo Jima, through the killing fields of Okinawa, to the triumphant, yet uneasy, return home after V-J Day. The viewer will be immersed in combat through the intimate perspective of this diverse, relatable group of men pushed to the limit in battle both physically and psychologically against a relentless enemy unlike any encountered before.
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Actors: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles
Directors: Doug Liman, Paul Greengrass
Writers: George Nolfi, Robert Ludlum, Scott Z. Burns, Tony Gilroy, W. Blake Herron
Producers: Andrew R. Tennenbaum
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
Get The Bourne Trilogy at Amazon.com
The Bourne Identity
Freely adapted from Robert Ludlum's 1980 bestseller, The Bourne Identity starts fast and never slows down. The twisting plot revs up in Zurich, where amnesiac CIA assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), with no memory of his name, profession, or recent activities, recruits a penniless German traveler (Run Lola Run's Franka Potente) to assist in solving the puzzle of his missing identity. While his CIA superior (Chris Cooper) dispatches assassins to kill Bourne and thus cover up his failed mission, Bourne exercises his lethal training to leave a trail of bodies from Switzerland to Paris. Director Doug Liman (Go) infuses Ludlum's intricate plotting with a maverick's eye for character detail, matching breathtaking action with the humorous, thrill-seeking chemistry of Damon and Potente. Previously made as a 1988 TV movie starring Richard Chamberlain, The Bourne Identity benefits from the sharp talent of rising stars, offering intelligent, crowd-pleasing excitement from start to finish.
The Bourne Supremacy
Good enough to suggest long-term franchise potential, The Bourne Supremacy is a thriller fans will appreciate for its well-crafted suspense, and for its triumph of competence over logic (or lack thereof). Picking up where The Bourne Identity left off, the action begins when CIA assassin and partial amnesiac Jason Bourne (a role reprised with efficient intensity by Matt Damon) is framed for a murder in Berlin, setting off a chain reaction of pursuits involving CIA handlers (led by Joan Allen and the duplicitous Brian Cox, with Julia Stiles returning from the previous film) and a shadowy Russian oil magnate. The fast-paced action hurtles from India to Berlin, Moscow, and Italy, and as he did with the critically acclaimed Bloody Sunday, director Paul Greengrass puts you right in the thick of it with split-second editing (too much of it, actually) and a knack for well-sustained tension. It doesn't all make sense, and bears little resemblance to Robert Ludlum's novel, but with Damon proving to be an appealingly unconventional action hero, there's plenty to look forward to.
The Bourne Ultimatum
The often breathtaking, final installment in the Bourne trilogy finds the titular assassin with no memory closing in on his past, finally answering his own questions about his real identity and how he came to be a seemingly unstoppable killing machine. Matt Damon returns for another intensely physical performance as Jason Bourne, the rogue operative at war with the CIA, which made him who and what he is and managed to kill his girlfriend in the series' second film, The Bourne Supremacy. Now looking for payback, Bourne goes in search for the renegade chief of CIA operations in Europe and North Africa, partnering for a time with a mysterious woman from his past (Julia Stiles) and constantly--constantly--on the run from assassins, intelligence foot soldiers, and cops. Directed by Paul Greengrass (United 93) with the director’s thrilling, trademark textures and shaky, documentary style, The Bourne Ultimatum is largely a succession of action scenes that reveal a lot about the story’s characters while they’re under duress. Joan Allen, Albert Finney, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, and Paddy Considine comprise the film’s terrific supporting cast, and the well-traveled movie leads viewers through Turin, Madrid, Tangiers, Paris, London, and New York. Overall, this is a satisfying conclusion to Bourne’s exciting and protracted mystery.