DVD Reviews

Years ago, I provided DVD reviews for DVD Talk. I wrote a total of 300 reviews for the site, and enjoyed the hell out of my time there. You can find my reviews at my DVD Talk profile page. As a bonus, check out my interview with the great director Guillermo del Toro.

On this page, I present excerpts from—and links to—some of my favorite reviews.

“When we first spoke of The Matrix, it was in hushed tones—What is the Matrix? we whispered, echoing the film’s mysterious and compelling marketing campaign. Bolstered by obviously groundbreaking effects and a foundation in sci-fi kung-fu noir, the trailers hooked us at soul level, and we flocked to the cineplex like true movie geeks. When that Matrix code began raining down the screen, we knew we were in for something special, and the film—written and co-directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski—delivered on its multi-layered promises. The Matrix exploded at the box office, at once thrilling audiences with its spectacularly choreographed action sequences and engaging the mind with its underlying explorations of religious motifs, age-old philosophical questions, and mythological constructs. More than anything else, perhaps, it was a film that supremely kicked ass.” —from my review of The Ultimate Matrix Collection

After Hours is my favorite Scorsese film, the one I go back to more often than any other, the one that, each time I watch it, reaches its long ticklish fingers into that dark, pulsing pleasure center way back there in the moist hidey-hole at the back of my brain. It’s not an outright comedy, in the strictest sense of the term. It’s filled with the stuff of nightmares—crime, anger, suspicion, suicide, a vigilante mob, and reluctant mohawks. But its deadpan black humor, combined with a masterful straight-man performance by Griffin Dunne, just happen to speak to me as eloquently and mischievously as anything I’ve ever seen on film. The brilliance of this quirky little black-as-pitch comedy is that its humor isn’t to be found in broad strokes or set pieces but rather in tiny moments and gestures, in awkward exchanges and appalled glances, all of which add up to a thing of twisted, surreal beauty.” —from my review of After Hours

“I liken Showgirls to Las Vegas itself. It’s a big, greedy, neon thing, flashing its gargantuan tits at you, smiling so wide and hard that you can hear its teeth grinding. There’s greasy, sweaty mascara all over its broad face, trying but failing to conceal the ugliness underneath. There’s something about the aggressive artificiality of Vegas that Americans adore. We swarm there by the millions, like fat bees searching for that elusive honey. Similarly, we’re fascinated by this movie’s loud absurdity—epitomized in its acting, its directing, its writing, its set-pieces, and its style. And, if video rentals are any indication, we’re finding ourselves increasingly fascinated. Which is probably why we have this lavish special-edition DVD in our laps. So, give in to the allure. Go ahead and buy it. In retrospect, it’s a lot of stupid, loud, trashy fun.” —from my review of Showgirls VIP Edition

“The year was 1979, and I was an 11-year-old movie geek fresh off of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. My father—bless his huge heart—had agreed to take me to see the new whispered-about R-rated science-fiction horror flick Alien at the big Newport Cinema in Newport Beach, California. I had spent weeks savoring that creepy teaser trailer on TV, so I was giddy with nervous energy as we bought our tickets and entered the gigantic auditorium, which was already half full and trembling with uneasy anticipation. We took our seats, and before long, the lights dimmed, and the haunting, throbbing whisper of Alien‘s opening credits took hold of my soul. By the time the alien organism made the second of several dramatic debuts, in that indelible arterial spray, I knew I was watching something that would stay with me for a long time. Little did I realize at the time that my first viewing of Alien would become one of the defining moments of this film fan’s life.” —from my review of Alien Quadrilogy

“A distinct pleasure of any film lover is the discovery of that rare film that challenges and provokes as it entertains and thrills. I’m talking about the type of movie that, as the end credits scroll, sparks fire in your cerebrum and in your heart, prompting you to discussions about the magic of that particular film and even about the peculiarities of the human condition. Certainly, the film reminds you why you love the cinema. Such a film is Christopher Nolan’s Memento. Told from the point of view of the ultimate unreliable narrator, Memento is about memory—specifically, the manipulation of memory to horrific effect. A central line from the film encapsulates its primary theme: Memory can change the shape of a room. It can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation. They’re not a record. And they’re irrelevant if you have the facts. But what if your grasp of facts is shaped by a manipulated point of view?” —from my review of Memento: Limited Edition

“This film is a celebration of the female buttocks. It glories in the arse, the backside, the bum, the buns, and the hindquarters. Its camera glides over the sensuous contours of at least 57 tushes, posteriors, rears, and rumps. It wallows in the keister, the bottom, the behind, the derriere, the fanny, and—above all—the ass. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a movie so comically obsessed with the southern-rear portion of the female anatomy. There are so many butts that you can taste them. They’re all over the damn place, everywhere you look, plastered across the screen like a sorority house full of girls hanging BAs out all the windows. The camera practically fondles these tushes as they pass, lingering pervertedly, seemingly wanting to climb up inside them. You’ll certainly get caught up in all the keister worship, and there’s a genuine sense of eroticism to the sheer volume of beautifully rendered flesh. This is truly a film constructed by a man. Brass’s engorged fantasies translate to the screen with all the subtlety of a fat, bloated erection.” —from my review of All Ladies Do It

“In terms of elevating an art form to new heights, Pixar is the modern equivalent of the young Walt Disney. Both brought something totally new to film: Whereas Walt amazed audiences by marrying music and dialog to gorgeously flowing animation, Pixar has married 3D computer modeling to the form, producing an animated image of unprecedented clarity and depth. But Pixar, led by the boyishly enthusiastic John Lasseter, has accomplished so much more than that. Most important, Pixar has created a magical world inhabited by warm, real characters and a profound sense of humanity. Pixar’s computers and mouse devices, it turns out, are the equal of any artist’s paintbrush and any writer’s pen.” —from my review of Toy Story: The Ultimate Toybox.