ScreenArchive

i

6 - Volcanic
5 - Blistering
4 - Hot
3 - Smolder
2 - Room Temperature
1 - Fizzled
0 - Extinguished

A - Multiple Viewing Possibilities
B - Deserves Another Look
C - Once Should Suffice

 

ICE AGE
With voices by John Leguizamo, Ray Romano, Denis Leary
Directed by Chris Wedge
I'm really glad that digitally animated features are still not a dime a dozen. Subject matter and original characters still have an identity all their own with far more pros than cons in both its entertainment value and memorable categories.
Set in the (duh!) ice age, a sloth and mammoth hook up (obviously the former is annoying & the latter annoyed). Both head in the opposite migration direction for their own reasons, but on the way they get stuck with a human baby who was hunted by a pack of saber tooth tigers. One of these tigers have to retrieve the kid (as vengeance for its people killing sabers for clothing etc. - a valid bit of retribution which makes the tigers uncomfortable villains - is it their right to do so if humans can kill them off?) The cunning saber who's job it is to get the child back to his pack leader convinces our unlikely sloth-mammoth duo to have him track their way to where the humans have moved camp. Obviously he has plans up his sleeve. As usual the animation is great, but the individual characterization is wonderful, from mannerisms and tiny bits of detail you may or may not notice to character bound gags. The laughs are also mostly pretty damn good in stead of mere snicker-producers, Leguizamo's vivacious, idiotic sloth stealing most of the credit. The makers also didn't hold back when it comes to the cute and sad bits, telling a story of individuality within a group, the joy of being different, the loss of loved ones & gaining of new family as well as the coldness of hatred and death. That fantastic, jittery squirrel from the trailer pops up at just the right moments in his quest to either retrieve or bury his acorn - hilarious. Oh, yeah, and if you ever wanted to know what happened to the Dodo, the answer's in Ice Age.
5 / A
- PB

IDENTITY
With John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Jake Busey, Rebecca DeMornay, Alfred Molina
Directed by James Mangold
A set of suspiciously contrived circumstances force a varied bunch of individuals into a single isolated motel on a stormy night, trapped with a killer on the loose. The individuals include a limo driver and his washed up Hollywood actress passenger, a corrections officer and a transferred murderer, the guy running the motel, a young couple, a man, his wife and her son as well as a hooker. One by one they get knocked off in a variety of ways, some gory, some less so.
The suspense factor can get fairly tense, and if you want to figure out who the elusive killer is, you've got a good few to pick from, not to mention figure out the actual plot.
Secrets start to unfold and things even seem to become a little supernatural - something that unfolds at the end, and which could be derived from the film's intro, if you really wanted to. On the outer-rim lies the real story of which the entire film is the root, but check it out for yourself as too much exposition will spoil the point of the entire film.
3 / B
- PB


IGGY POP - Live At The Avenue B
Iggy seems like an immortal madman whose stage presence, unique identity and diligent fans will co-exist for eternity. Having survived one hell of an excessive life, it seems like he's indestructible. We all dread the day the news headlines will announce the passing of a legend, but we believe that day won't come. This amped show at the Avenue B in Brussels was recorded on 2 December 1999. Iggy's 21 track set blazes from slow burning acoustic numbers like his No Shit intro and Nazi Girlfriend to all time favourites like I Wanna Be Your Dog, Lust For Life, The Passenger, TV Eye, No Fun, and Sixteen, as well as Raw Power, Corruption, Cold Metal and Real Wild Child. Unfortunately there are no extra features - probably for the best as to avoids demystifying the living, breathing myth that is Iggy Pop.
5 / A
- PB


IMPOSTOR
With Gary Sinese, Madeleine Stowe, Vincent D'nofrio, Anthony Shalhoub
Directed by Gary Fleder
Based on a 1953 story by renowned Sci-Fi writer Philip K. Dick, this future vision is quite an original one. Alpha Centauri wages war on earth. During this long war a man loses his father to these aliens and his fascination with rockets turn to his dedicated development of an intense weapon to defeat the enemy. Earth's cities are covered by domes to deflect constant alien attacks. When our hero is accused of in fact being an alien clone set out to assassinate key earth personnel, his race for survival begins. With the focus more on the human side of the tale, the design is still quite impressive. Though it 'aint no
Bladerunner
, Impostor contains enough serial cliffhanger tension and futuristic action to satisfy popcorn munchers, while its deeper philosophical layers and guesswork add to its effectiveness.
3 / C
- PB


THE IMPOSTORS
With Stanley Tucci, Oliver Platt, Isabella Rossellini
Directed by Stanley Tucci
Wonderful comedy (also written by Tucci) with two washed out actors on the run, stowing away on a cruise ship with a host of mad passengers each with their own secrets and intentions. Loads of character impersonation, crazy laughs and several zany scenes.
5 / B
- PB

THE INCREDIBLES
Another Pixar / Disney super-hit. This time the digital animation wizards take on the world of superheroes (and loaned a few ideas from the Fantastic 4 - which is also finally getting its live action screen outing). The government decides to decommission all superheroes as it is costing them too much in insurance claims (collateral damage incurred during superhero activity and ungrateful saved citizens laying suits). After many years of being out of action, one such hero, Mr. Incredible, is living incognito in the suburbs, married to Elastic Girl, ironically working as an insurance salesman and spawning two kids (also with superpowers). He craves the excitement of thwarting criminals and super-villains. His opportunity comes when a character from the past resurfaces, endangering all. The whole family gets thrown into this highly entertaining and explosive adventure that will have the kids re-viewing it constantly. Cool old-school soundtrack & extras.
5 / B
- PB


INDEPENDENCE DAY
With Bill Pullman, Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Randy Quaid
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Patriotic letís-get-gung-ho-&-kick-alien-butt film as planet earth gets invaded by aliens, almost blowing up each major cityís capitol. A motley crew of civilians and experts combine to save the human race. Sometimes amusing, more times annoying, just like Armageddon, it still didnít discourage audiences to turn away (although Mars Attacks! shouldíve been first on the list, being far superior in almost every way). In the end itís only a popcorn muncher and no life changing experience.
3 / A
- PB

...2nd opinion...
INDEPENDENCE DAY
After Universal Soldier and Stargate, the makers embarked on one hell of a project: let's blow up the world! Aliens attack earth and a motley crew of patriots take them on in as much of a gung-ho way as they possibly can. In my opinion, Tim Burton's Mars Attacks, that was produced around the same time, kicks its ass bigtime. But, if you are of the multitude viewers who actually thought that Armageddon was a good movie, you'll love this slice of cinematic "history" and would love to watch it over and over again. True, the FX are great and the sequences meticulously planned, thing is, just how much of Will Smith's annoyance and Jeff Goldblum's typecast muttering can you handle?
3 / A
- PB

The Adventures of INDIANA JONES
With Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Karen Allen, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies, Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan, River Phoenix
Directed by Steven Spielberg
For those of us who grew up on
Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T. and Jaws will have nothing but fond memories when looking back at these cinematic landmarks. Whether we knew it or not, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg had a lot to do with our growing up. Like with Star Wars, Lucas wanted to recreate the Saturday matinee serials and expanded it into cinema history. This box set of four discs contains Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Temple Of Doom, The Last Crusade and a disc of extras. Where we could only relive it on VHS long after its big screen release without the luxury of widescreen and digital sound, here is the opportunity to get thrilled again.
BOX SET RATING:
5 / A
- PB

Raiders Of The Lost Ark is the undisputed king as Indy (our archeologist adventurer) pursues the biblical lost Ark of the Covenant with the Nazis wanting it for their own sinister plot. Action packed, original in its homage to adventure films of old and totally entertaining, all the elements were in place for this splendid opener to a great trilogy.
6 / A
- PB

Like most second installments of trilogies,
Temple Of Doom gets a darker tinge as Indy (this time with a kid and female side-kick) get sucked into the exploits of a sacrificial cult. Unforgettable moments like the goldmine rail chase almost divert the attention from the annoying, constantly screaming Kate Capshaw (the film's downfall).
3 / B
- PB

The third installment sees Connery arriving as Indiana's father, playing up the dad-son relationship. They team up to find the Holy Grail of the King Arthur myth, the Nazis again a part of the fray. River Phoenix plays the young Indy.
5 / B
- PB


An extra disc contains an overall- and individual documentaries with interviews and behind the scenes footage on each of the films. Great anecdotes and how'd-they-do-that moments expand the experience even more. Like Lucas' original three
Star Wars films, this is an essential set.
A great collection of truly memorable movies. Hardcore fans will be glad to know that the speculation of another
Indiana Jones chapter is no longer myth.

5 / B
- PB

IN MY COUNTRY
With Juliette Binoche, Samuel L. Jackson, Brendan Gleason
Directed by John Boorman
Based on Antjie Krog's South African tale around the post-Apartheid Truth & Reconciliation hearings, it is a story that needed to be told. A Freestate born woman reporting on these hearings befriends a black American journalist. As she comes to terms with her country's past, he gets to face his own preconceptions and idea of what the country was, and is all about. Good performances and some heartbreaking moments invoke a feeling of hope rather than one of desperate anger in the face of forgiveness. Features many local actors in bit parts and smaller roles, including Trix Pienaar.
PS.
Red Dust, another locally shot film (featuring Hilary Swank) dealing with similar subject matter, has now exhausted this as a movie theme for quite a while, even though there are hundreds of stories that can be told.
4 / C
- PB


THE INSIDER
With Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer, Gina Gershon
Directed by Michael Mann
Mannís slick direction and images blend well with this true life story based on a 60 Minutes episode, the hassles to get it to air (including multi-million dollar law suits, death threats and cowardly corporate hypocrisy). What made this such a controversial issue was that the subject dealt with serious tobacco allegations that were denied be all the large companies, even though they were aware of the health risks and evidence. Pacino plays the determined producer who felt that the truth should always prevail. But, when faced with a tobacco company determined to avoid a scandal, that doesnít want to lose any money and with ways and means to cover up any stain, things get hotter. Going out of his way to protect his source and bring out the truth, he also gets opposition from within NBC, involving threats of litigation that can possibly sink the company. Tense, frustrating and deeply insightful, the unraveling of the truth and pursuit of it makes it entertaining without any monsters, shoot-outs or explosions. A human drama about doing the right thing, trusting and being honest. We can all do with a bit of that.
4 / C
- PB

INSOMNIA
With Al Pacino, Hilary Swank, Robin Williams
Directed by Christopher Nolan
A legendary city detective gets called to a murder case in Alaska with his partner. Internal affairs happen to be investigating them for possible misconduct. As they swoop in on the killer, an irreversible mistake creates a bond between cop & killer, making for an investigative thriller with a less predictable touch than the same old formulae that get re-used time and again. The title comes from the fact that in this part of the Northern Hemisphere (and this particular part of the year) the sun doesn't set, this and other mental troubles keeping our detective up. This remake by director Nolan (who directed the striking
Memento) creates a great atmosphere in this cold, surreal time zone. The performances are great - guess you can't go wrong with three Oscar nominees & winners, eh? Two of the executive producers are George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. In a sense Insomnia is a bit like Twin Peaks sans the weirdness and freaked out characters.
4 / B
- PB


THE INTERPRETER
With Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Katherine Keener, Sydney Pollack
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Pollack made an interesting bunch of varied films especially across the '70s and '80s, Robert Redford starring in many. This suspense thriller ventures into the United Nations (apparently the first ever production allowed inside). An interpreter who grew up in Africa (Kidman) accidentally overhears an assassination plot on a controversial African leader who is set to deliver a speech at the UN soon. She believes the conspirators know who she is, but instead of protection, they assign agents to check her out. The depressed male agent (Penn) recently lost his wife and while not trying to get personally involved, he believes she may be in danger as the date of the speech/assassination draws near. But, as with politics, things are never always as they seem, and many undercover plots, plans, scams and conspiracies unfold as the climax builds. If the film were made in Pollack's heyday with Redford and maybe Jessica Lange, it would've been an entirely different movie, and perhaps much better.
PS. Director Pollack took up many small acting cameos over the last decade, the most notable in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.
3 / C
- PB


IN THE BEDROOM
With Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, Nick Stahl, Marisa Tomei
Directed by Todd Field
This best film Oscar® nominated film is an incredibly moving look at family, loss and its consequences. A couple's son is involved with a young mother separated from her husband. Tragedy strikes and the family has to deal with the aftermath, their relationship crumbling as a result and certain decisions having to be made or ignored. In The Bedroom is a striking drama that keeps your attention nailed, especially after the first third of the film - the cover art a little misleading.
5 / C
- PB


INTOLLERABLE CRUELTY
With George Clooney, Catherine Zeta Jones, Jeffery Rush
Directed by Joel Coen
By far not the Coen brothers' best. In fact, it's right at the back of the row. Since this was apparently only going to be a writing project for another director, then taking it on as a full-on production, it kind of explains it. A successful but bored divorce attorney falls for a woman whom he knows is as conniving as he is. But, it's love that has him by the prenuptial and he pursues her to get married. While it does have a dose of those little Coen Bros. double crosses, lust for money and moral sacrifice because of it, it lacks their quirky trademarks and as a whole merely feels like a light comedy that could just as well have been directed by Garry Marshall. While Clooney packs in a fun performance, Zeta-Jones-(Douglas) is pretty bland and not-as-sexy-as-everyone-assumes.
3 / C
- PB


IN TOO DEEP
With Omar Epps, LL Cool J, Stanley Tucci, Nia Long, Pam Grier
Directed by Michael Rymer
It takes a lot to turn an undercover-cop-infiltrating-criminal-ranks-movie into something watchable. Here Rymer succeeds, greatly due to the charismatic performances by Epps as the cop and Cool J as the drug lord whose confidence he wins over amidst violence and death. It also takes many realistic turns as his superior pulls him from the job when a shooting goes down - fearful for his psychological wellbeing and life. His break also gives the viewer a breather as he does a photography course, gets involved with a fine woman. .But duty calls and he goes in again. Hectic scenes are juxtaposed by more mild, lighter ones (but the more harrowing, tense scenes are in the majority). With a serious social conscience and realism (based on a true case), In Too Deep reflects what is going on out there as well as that some cops are determined to do something about it, no matter what the cost. Well paced drama and action with some fine performances.
5 / B
- PB

I, ROBOT
With Will Smith, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell
Directed by Alex Proyas

Director Alex Proyas wowed us with such dark fare as the original
Crow and Dark City. Now he escalates his repertoire another hefty notch with this take on Isaac Asimov's acclaimed story of a robot accused of murder. In the future these machines are human assistants, like appliances, making life a little easier. There are three laws governing their processing which is supposed to ensure them never harming a human being. Smith is a skeptic cop with a past who heads up the investigation of a robotics professor seemingly killed by one of his creations. The biggest robotics company in the market is on the verge of releasing its new model. If there is a defect, they're in for some serious trouble. Our cop delves deeper and starts to unravel the mystery with a whole lot of digital action along the way. With Lost In Space co-writer Akiva Goldsman on the team, some elements are a bit cheesy, but the overall blockbusting excitement factor is enough to entertain even the most jaded. Springtime fun with a new age restriction in South Africa which requires adult supervision for minors.
4 / B
- PB


IRON MAIDEN - Death On The Road
Someone who has no understanding of this kind of music always looks down on a band like
Iron Maiden as old-school dinosaurs from an age of kitsch hair-metal, but they couldn't be more wrong. These guys still write great song, put on a brilliant show and have a growing fan base in their early teens and not just grey old headbangers. This live show was recorded in Dortmund Germany 24 November 2004 on the band's Death On The Road Tour. The triple disc DVD set includes two of the show: one in stereo and the other in a 5.1 mix. Iron Maiden perform 17 songs across their expansive career, from the debut self-titled album across Killers and 7th Son, through Brave New World to the most recent Dance Of Death. The last album gets most coverage with the title track Dance Of Death, Wildest Dreams, Rainmaker, No More Lies, Paschedale and Journeyman. Unfortunately the great Powerslave and the albums before and after it (Piece Of Mind, and Somewhere In Time) get a little neglected. Favourite songs like The Trooper, Number Of The Beast, Wrathchild, Iron Maiden, Hallowed Be Thy Name and Run To the Hills are not omitted and pack a wallop. Extra features on the third disc include two documentaries, Death On The Road, and Life On The Road, taking a look at the making of the Dance Of Death album, and the mammoth task of putting the tour together. Features interviews with all of the band members, South African expatriate producer Kevin Shirley, as well as the crew and technicians. The 200 minutes of extra footage also throws in a half hour of fan interviews, an EPK, two promo videos, photo- and artwork galleries. The picture format is enhanced for 16:9 screens. Far from over the hill, Iron Maiden is still a band to be reckoned with.
One downside is Harris' editing which is sometimes a bit all over the place with cuts too rapid, not matching the music.
5 / A
- PB


The History Of IRON MAIDEN Part 1: The Early Years
Love them or hate them, you cannot deny the stature and influence of Britain's biggest Heavy Metal band, having rocked for around a quarter century! This fascinating DVD takes you deep into the origins of this phenomenal act. Presented on two discs, it offers a bunch of great digs into the vault. A feature length documentary includes interviews with many of the past members as you're taken through the ups and downs of bassist Steve Harris's mission to get the band he envisioned off the ground, rising from pub gigs to stadiums across the globe. There's a cool 1981 black & white TV documentary of the band as they released their first album (pretty much kick-starting the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal of which Lars Ulrich from
Metallica was highly influenced). You get never before seen footage, old archive video and three live shows from '81-'83, seeing the meteoric climb to one of the top rock acts out of the UK, and subsequently the world. The shows include their first concert video, Live At The Rainbow (with their vocalist from the 1st two albums, Paul Di'Anno), Beast Over Hammersmith (a previously unseen show with Di'Anno's brilliant replacement Bruce Dickinson), plus a huge breakthrough headlining show, Live In Dortmund. Interviews with record company staff, mile-long line-up changes, the birth of their cover mascot Eddie, reminiscence, problems, old stills, live TV appearances and 5 promo videos are included: Women In Uniform, Run To The Hills, The Number Of The Beast, The Trooper, Flight Of Icarus. Other extras include photo galleries, artwork, tour programmes, Steve's diary and more. I can't help being facetious, but I smiled at the subtitle option for the 'hard of hearing' - for fans who attended too many shows getting blasted by decibels? After watching this, you're itching for the release of Part 2 to the story behind this colossal band (who are still cool, mild-mannered guys who play the kind of music they choose).
6 / B
- PB


IRON MAIDEN - Visions Of The Beast
Too often too many people scoff at
Iron Maiden as over the hill rockers who want to cling onto their youth. On the contrary, while they are no longer kids, these guys still have so many great songs left in them and can put many young acts to shame on stage. With over 50 million albums sold, do you want to argue? As probably the most successful British Heavy Metal band, the Iron Maiden phenomenon has been both a fun and intriguing one for several decades. Collecting all the Eddie posters at school still feels like yesterday. Having gone through three vocalists (the original Paul Diano, the ultimate Bruce Dickenson and filler Blaize Bailey), they haven't lost momentum, especially with Bruce back in the saddle and better than ever. This double DVD offers the fan every single Maiden promo clip from 1980 through to their headlining Rock In Rio performance of 2001. Expect the vintage numbers like Women In Uniform and Wrathchild as well as the essential Run To The Hills and Number Of The Beast. The Trooper, Aces High, Wasted Years, Stranger In A Strange Land, The Clairvoyant and Tailgunner include some of the tracks on disc one. Disc two gives you everything from Be Quick Or Be Dead and Fear Of the Dark to Man On The Edge, Virus, The Wicker Man and Brave New World. With varying production values, live footage and professionally shot promo clips, it doesn't get more concise than this. Together with the Rock In Rio live double DVD set, you're pretty much Iron Maidened for a while. One thing you can't hold against the band is the fact that they really give the fans their all. This DVD set includes over 30 of their unforgettable songs (every video ever shot), clocking in at a whopping 180 minutes. 40 minutes of hidden and extra footage won't leave the Maiden fan dissatisfied. It also features Camp Chaos animated versions of 6 Iron Maiden classics. Nifty packaging makes it that much more attractive, even though some grannies might still think that the band's Eddie mascot is the incarnation of evil. It's only rock & roll, gran!
6 / A
- PB


I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
With Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace, Anthony Nichols, Gunter Kleeman
Directed by Meir Zarchi
In the video nasty days of the '80s, this was a title that had everyone searching for its controversy. Not a horror by any means, it does involve the brutality of violent gang rape and resulting deadly retribution. A female writer rents a summerhouse way out of the city in a boring, small riverside town. She is menaced, beaten and raped by four idle scumbags. Then she plots to get them back. While we can easily dismiss it as mere exploitation that has the audience look at the harrowing assault on a defenceless woman with perversion, the payback violent and deadly, it leaves you with the dichotomy of violation and justified vengeance and whether we're shocked or titillated at both cases, or one of the two. But for the censors to decide that for us is unacceptable. This movie was banned in South Africa for years, and recently released with only a 16 age restriction. Go figure. Depending on who you are, the moral dichotomy will have you think about it on more than a cinematic level. We know rape is wrong, as with murder, and if this film is a deterrent for future rapists, fantastic - but I always fear that even one nut gets aroused by something like this and doesn't pay heed to the final "message". The violent woman's revenge movie was always an underground genre and never really got the big budget make-over, until Tarantino resurrected it with his
Kill Bill flicks. Stylistically the film is quite poorly made, from bad jumps cuts and continuity to poor sound and voice dubbing. But, then we must remember that a producer would struggle to get financing for a film like this, at a time like that. The special FX are not very blatant or gory, but the dick chopped in the bath sequence is a classic of inference, not having to show anything as the implication has the viewer picture worse than they could've managed with a piece of rubber latex. A nice surprise was the widescreen presentation on this VHS release.
4 / C
- PB


I-SPY
With Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Famke Janssen, Gary Cole, Malcolm McDowell
Directed by Betty Thomas
Alex Scott is a young special agent sent to Budapest to track down a sophisticated stolen invisible plane prototype ready to be sold to the highest bidder. In order to slip into the high security party held at the palace of pun-named weapons dealer Mr. Gundars, his infiltration cover is supplied by loud mouth, wise-ass & arrogant boxing champion, Kelly Robinson. Wilson is the usual soft spoken, reasonable and meticulous straight nice guy and Murphy is, well, Axel Foley with boxing gloves (and a money obsessed boxer's attitude thrown in). Janssen is still hot after we thought she'd disappear into Bond girl limbo, while the great McDowell reprises his B-bad guy typecast. It's no surprise that the unlikely pair of bumbling agent and box star will start of rocky - but do you think it will stay that way?
What you get is a spy-comedy with enough gadgets to qualify for the former but hardly any to fulfill the latter category. The explosions are expected and the double cross is hardly a surprise. Lame jokes prevail in between action sequences and are not enough to elevate this beyond mainstream modern secret agent fluff. The originality even stops at the film title's font! Perhaps the time has come for Murphy to sink his teeth into some more serious roles like fellow comedians Robin Williams (One Hour Photo) and Steve Martin (Novocaine) has done of late. But, even though financiers want Murphy to be Murphy for as long as the investment has adequate returns, it will be interesting if he moved more towards upping his range and career satisfaction as opposed to making a payday. Yet, just as not all serious actors are side-splitting comedians (see Robert DeNiro, for instance), not all comedians can make that transition. It would just be an interesting exercise nonetheless.
2 / C
- PB

THE ITALIAN JOB
With Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Donald Sutherland, Seth Green, Mos Def
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
As if we need another Hollywood remake. It's the "one last big job" scenario and our group of likeable thieves get double crossed by one of them, resulting in the death of the old seasoned pro. His daughter gets roped in when the culprit is tracked down in L.A. They get to work plotting a scheme to steal back the gold they originally nabbed in Venice. Throw in technology, training, the new as opposed to old mini Coopers from the original film, red herrings and action, and there you have it - another big budget so-what flick. Wahlberg pulls his boring soft-spoken nice-guy act and Seth Green is the annoying young computer buff twat again. Edward Norton merely breezes through his contractual obligation. From this fluff to the acting driven, award-winning
Monster, Theron made the right move.
2 / C
- PB


ITZHAK PERLMAN - Beethoven / Brahms Violin Concertos
It just goes to show - brilliant musicians like Perlman (who is so much more talented than tabloid darlings), hardly get the same exposure those far less capable do. For instance, I knew Perlman was a great violinist, but was never aware of the fact that he walked with crutches. This live show from 1992 was recorded live at the Schauspielhaus in Berlin. Daniel Barenboim conducted the Berlin Philharmoniker. Perlman plays till the sweat runs down his forehead, passionately invoking the spirits of Beethoven and Brahms (their Concertos for Violin and Orchestra in D Op.61 and D Op. 77 respectively). It is a flawless performance and presented in PCM Stereo, DTS 5.0 as well as Dolby Digital 5.0, placing you right there in the concert hall. There aren't many extra features, except for a showreel of EMI Classics like Nigel Kennedy and Angela Gheorghiu.
5 / B
- PB


ITZHAK PERLMAN - Perlman In Russia
Itzhak Perlman should sit next to pop- and rock stars - not because he stirs controversy with bad public behaviour or another scandalous affair, but because the man is a total artist and musical genius. This violin virtuoso's disability didn't stop him from becomes one of the best. He is one with his instrument, making the beautiful sounds flow from the bow and strings. While he makes it seem effortless, the intensity he projects further enhances the performance. This double disc contains both a film of Perlman's Russian Tour in 1990, as well as the amazing live concert recording. It includes works from Giuseppe Tartini, Fritz Kreisler, Ernest Bloch, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Antonia Bazzini. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Zubin Mehta with Janet Goodman Guggenheim on piano.
6 / B
- PB

INVISIBLE CIRCUS
With Jordana Brewster, Christopher Eccleston, Cameron Diaz
Directed by Adam Brooks
Ever since ex-model Cameron Diaz wow'd audiences with her cute debut in The Mask, she'd racked up quite a high profile biog, reaching its high in the big screen adaptation of the TV series Charlie's Angels. But, every now and then Diaz picks a low key project that doesn't glamourise her, but rather depends on her acting skills, like the amazing Being John Malkovich for instance. This is another one of them - not as deep or off the wall as the aforementioned, but just as far away from major cineplex box office hit-status equalling the $80 million actioner in the cinema next door to it. Phoebe has just finished school. In the late '60s her father died of a blood disease and her close older sister, Faith (played by Diaz) took it hard. Her rebellious streak took a turn for the worst as she slowly became more of an activist with Wolf, her British boyfriend, wrapped up in the Hippy daze. All the Diaz segments are seen in flashback as Phoebe tracks Faith's life across the year that she left San Francisco, throughout Europe to her apparent suicide in Portugal. Phoebe's coming of age trip takes her to all the places her sister visited in Europe, also resulting in an upsetting and near-enlightening acid trip in Amsterdam, discovering her sexuality and meeting up with Faith's old boyfriend - filling her in on all the blanks and dark secrets none of the family knew about back home. Invisible Circus is also essentially a chickflick with possible arthouse potential, while the suspense and underground anarchic action add to the film's very wide categorization possibilities. Slow in its unfolding and very sparing with its bursts of excitement, this film can however be enjoyed by a cross section of the population - but not easily over-joyed.
3 / C
- PB

I WITNESS
With Jeff Daniels, James Spader, Portia de Rossi
Directed by Rowdy Herrington
Herrington's action films have slipped into a more mature gear with this politically laden story of murder and betrayal. Daniels is a human rights investigator who finds himself in the middle of a strike situation and the call for a union with a large US company in Mexico, providing many jobs. When 27 bodies are found and the authorities seem less than pleased to co-operate, he has to do his own investigation resulting in the unraveling of corruption, greed and stupidity. While it does feel a bit like a TV movie at first (not necessarily because of Ally McBeal star De Rossi), it picks up steam and leads to an unexpected, yet obvious place.
3 / C
- PB

© 2006 Flamedrop Productions