Category Archives: DVD

To Sir, with Love (1967)

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To Sir With Love

This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Great message presented in a pleasant, and entertaining, package.

Ideological changes in post-Civil Rights movement America were at the heart of legendary African-American actor Sidney Poitier’s films in the late 1960s. One such film is this powerful drama, which stars Poitier as Mark Thackery, an unemployed engineer who applies for a teaching job because he needs the paycheck. He lands a job at a school in London’s East End that’s full of unruly teenagers who are profoundly uninterested in learning. After several failed attempts to reach the students, Thackery abandons the textbooks and conventional teaching methods and, treating them as young adults, he prepares his students for the job market. His unorthodox style is effective–the students begin to respect Thackery and absorb his lessons. But his substantial accomplishments are weighed in the balance when he is finally offered the engineering job he had been waiting for.

Poitier’s proud, defiant figure stands tall against the rowdy, aimless swinging-sixties London teens, but one of the film’s strengths is the respect that is paid to the disruptive students as human characters worthy of a better future. Lulu, who delivers a strong student portrayal, also sings the popular theme song.

One of Poitier’s greatest strengths is his ability to command respect in his roles. Neither he, nor any character he portrayed, demanded respect as a black man – he made it clear he deserved respect simply as a man. And he got it. He was truly a role model for all young men of the time and this movie was a wonderful accompaniment. Add a great supporting cast and you have a movie I recommend to everyone in my circle.

Amazon.com essential video
Novelist James Clavell wrote, produced, and directed this 1967 British film (based on a novel by E.R. Braithwaite) about a rookie teacher who throws out stock lesson plans and really takes command of his unruly, adolescent students in a London school. Poitier is very good as a man struggling with the extent of his commitment to the job, and even more as a teacher whose commitment is to proffering life lessons instead of academics. The spirit of this movie can be found in such recent films as Dangerous Minds and Mr. Holland’s Opus, but none is as moving as this one. Besides, the others don’t have a title song performed by pop star Lulu. -~-Tom Keogh


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 100%, Users 89%

Reign Over Me (2007)

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Reign Over Me

Reign Over Me

Tagline: “Let in the unexpected”

Alan Johnson has everything he needs to get through life: a good job, a beautiful and loving wife, and their wonderful children. Yet he feels isolated because he finds having a hard-working job and managing a family too much to handle and has no one to talk to about it. Charlie Fineman, on the other hand, doesn’t have a job or a family. He used to have both until he lost his family on the fateful day of 9/11, and the grief he felt caused him to quit his job and isolate himself from everyone around him. As it turns out, Alan and Charlie were roommates in college, and a chance encounter one night rekindles the friendship they shared. But when Charlie’s problems become too much to deal with, Alan is determined to help Charlie come out of his emotional abyss.

I am going to point you to the review by babubhaut, an IMDB user, which sums up my feeling of the movie nicely.

I am not quite sure why Sandler went with the Bob Dylan impersonation for this role but, that quirk not-withstanding, his performance is quite moving. Don Cheadle is always great. Jada Pinkett Smith is generally irritating, but her role here is small enough that I didn’t mind her.

Yes, it’s a message film – and it’s predictable. But it is still lovely and I know my family and friends will enjoy it.


Rotten Tomatoes: critics 63%; users 86%

Music & Lyrics (2007)

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Music & Lyrics

Music & Lyrics

Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) is a cynical and self-deprecating former pop idol (the hilarious opening video introduces his ’80s new wave band Pop!) who is now playing the nostalgia circuit, but has maintained enough dignity to turn down an appearance on a “Battle of the ’80s Has-Beens” TV reality show.

Sweet and saccharine, pedestrian and pedantic. Yet, Grant and Barrymore are quite charming enough to pull it off.

Only 3 stars because it is completely a chick-flick. I watched this one a while ago, and I don’t think D watched it with me. I am fairly certain he would have rolled his eyes a time or two. However, if you enjoy romantic comedy (or Hugh Grant in tight pants) you will be glad you rented this one.

I mean, who doesn’t want some love and romance, especially if it’s indulgent and totally unbelievable?
~ Toddy Burton, Austin Chronicle

I should mention that for a movie about music, the tunes are pretty lame.


Rotten Tomatoes: critics 64%; users 78%

Happily N’Ever After (2006)

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Happily N'Ever After

Happily N’Ever After

Bad.

Bad, bad.

For those who couldn’t get enough of SHREK, HAPPILY N’EVER AFTER supplies a similar take on fairy-tale traditions.

Yeah, right. They wish it had anything in common with Shrek.

It gets one star because you could probably use it to keep your toddler distracted for a few minutes.


Rotten Tomatoes: critics 4%; users 21%;

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

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Pan’s Labyrinth

In 1944 fascist Spain, a girl, fascinated with fairy-tales, is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. During the night, she meets a fairy who takes her to an old faun in the center of the labyrinth. He tells her she’s a princess, but must prove her royalty by surviving three gruesome tasks. If she fails, she will never prove herself to be the the true princess and will never see her real father, the king, again.

Beautiful, captivating, mesmerizing . . . and a story, as well.

The subtitles were a bit of a distraction since the images were so amazing. Like with Amelie, I hated to look away from the picture to catch the dialog.

The movie is not, however, all fairies and bows and butterflies. It has serious brutality, which is why it loses a star. I am not sure this is a movie I would recommend to my sister, for instance.

This movie is much like Life is Beautiful, involving a fantasy world which helps a child deal with a world which is frightening and harsh.


Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing: critics 96%; users 94%

Shadowboxer (2005)

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Shadowboxer

A late-career change of heart leads to a dangerous life on the run for two seasoned assassins whose complex relationship masks a dark past in Shadowboxer, Lee Daniels‘ pulpy film noir. But when Rose is diagnosed with terminal cancer; she decides to carry out one final killing.

Sounds like a good idea and a great cast; Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding, Stephen Dorff.

Unfortunately, it fails miserably. Even the fine acting can’t save this creepy, icky flick.

I’d sooner sit through 32 hours of Congressional committee testimony about imported yarn than watch “Shadowboxer” again.

Violence, sex….it only merits the half star on the Word of Mouth Scale because of the great cast…and Cuba Gooding’s great backside


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 19%; Audience 40%

Kinky Boots (2005)

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Kinky Boots

From the makers of “Calendar Girls” comes an uplifting British comedy about two outcast dreamers who finally figure out how to stand up for themselves . . . in thigh-high leather stilettos.

Despite the Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 57% from the critics, this is a sweet movie – perhaps that is why it scored much higher with the general public who give it 78%.

Despite the name, there is nothing kinky, or even racy, about this movie.

Despite the cross-dressers, I recommended this movie to my mother, and she really enjoyed it, as well.

An absolutely fabulous performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor puts it right over the top for me

Rich in spunk, humor, dignity, subtle emotions when needed, and dressed to kill when belting songs like “I Want to Be Evil” in a meaty, gal-guy voice, Ejiofor amps and vamps the contrivances appealingly.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 57%; Audience 78%

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