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Collateral: Special Edition
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Top director Michael Mann and his imaginative eye for detail and riveting techniques highlights a different view of Los Angeles. "Collateral" is featured mainly at night displaying soft lights that spill out from their street lamps, blues that combine with whites and intermingle with greens. His vast experience and know how, having directed films such as "Last Of The Mohicans", "Heat", and "Ali", Michael Mann delivers a brilliantly created film, which compels the audience to not just observe and pay attention, but to be a part of the film, and to truly become involved with the characters which are brought to life on screen.
The story is simple and opens with Max (Jamie Foxx) and is a hard-working cabbie in L.A. with a personal fantasy of starting up a limousine business called "Island Limos". The script employs subtle touches to characterise the pensive Max, by keeping his cab meticulously clean; he keeps a postcard of an Island Paradise above the cab's sun-visor so that he can "go into meditation" when dealing with traffic or obnoxious customers. Progressing with the film's escalating action, Max picks up a beautiful and gorgeous attorney (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and proves his courtesy by convincing her to let him follow a time and money-saving shortcut, and earning him an unexpected proposition from a female, which even the colourful Max would consider out of his league.
Shortly after this, Max's destiny takes a perilous twist when he picks up Vincent (Tom Cruise), a somewhat pretentious and brusque character who offers Max six hundred dollars to transport him to five different addresses over the course of the evening to conduct business "closures" before dropping him off at LAX airport in the early hours of the morning. Max is both reluctant and apprehensive, but Vincent refuses to take "no" for an answer, and so Max reluctantly agrees to take the fare. Not long after the fare is underway Max deduces from the conversation, that Vincent is most likely to be a contract killer, visiting LA for one night to eliminate five witnesses against members of a Mexican and Colombian drug cartel currently facing federal charges for murder and narcotics trafficking. With his covert now exposed, Vincent produces a gun and forces Max to continue their extreme journey, and both of them carry on a philosophical battle of wits. With the arrogant, cynical Vincent challenging the honest and hesitant Max with a merciless view of human weakness as they journey towards an altercation with death.
In one scene a body drops out of a fourth story window and onto Max's cab, he becomes an unwilling associate on Vincent's murder spree. The storyline takes us to settings as diverse as a junkie's apartment, a high-rise mobster penthouse, a hospital room, and a smoky jazz club, all the while making the city of Los Angeles a central backdrop in the story.
There is an excellent soundtrack throughout the film, which emphasises the tension and nerve wrecking experience for the audience at key moments. This fact is emphasised within the Blu Ray process and slight picture grain is not obtrusive. Tom Cruise has had his critics in the past but in my humble opinion this is his best role to date and produces a sublime genuine performance. His character in "Collateral" is a menacing study in coldness and intimidation, and a credible portrayal of an utterly ruthless contract killer.
Collateral - Collector's Edition (2 Discs)
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There is an excellent soundtrack throughout the film, which emphasises the tension and nerve wrecking experience for the audience at key moments. Tom Cruise has had his critics in the past but in my humble opinion this is his best role to date and produces a sublime genuine performance. His character in "Collateral" is a menacing study in coldness and intimidation, and a credible portrayal of an utterly ruthless contract killer.
Region 1 DVD
Wade Porter (Stephen Dorff) is a successful businessman; having just secured a bank loan to expand his thriving construction business, so all in all, life is going really great. He is enjoying the American Dream, sharing it with his girlfriend and son. However their dream becomes a nightmare when Wade unintentionally kills a burglar that had broken into their house in the middle of the night on his lawn. He is sent to trial and accepts a deal proposed by the prosecutor, being sentenced to three years in prison.
However, during the transportation, there is an incident in the bus and Wade is framed and sent to the maximum-security wing under the command of the corrupt Lieutenant Jackson (Harold Perrineau, seen in the series, LOST). From this point on, we see a total transformation of a man who is forced into an appalling callous new world where he has no control over his future.
He is introduced to his cellmate John Smith (Val Kilmer) who was sentenced to life revenging the death of his entire family. John befriends Wade and gives him helpful advice on how to survive in a maximum-security prison and further avoiding the pit-falls of the American penal system - rife with corruption, power crazed guards and repulsion.
The story is extremely well portrayed and by the time the credits start to roll, you are left reflecting on how the correctional system has so many flaws and how it manipulates individuals to become their worst, both as inmates and as guards. However, the film also shows that even in these dire circumstances, there are great acts of humanity and compassion.
This movie is powerful and compelling.
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The Blu-Ray presentation is excellent for both sound and vision and is highlighted especially in the darker atmospheric scenes.
This film took me on one psychological thrill ride after another, as I found it loaded with twists and turns from start to finish.
Michael Douglas pulled off one of his best performance as Nicholas Van Orton, a man who is approaching his birthday, upon which he receives an invitation to play a game, given to him by his brother Conrad (Sean Penn). Nicholas reluctantly agrees and soon finds out that the game is more than he was prepared for.
There are a number of appearances of shady characters to add to the blend, and you never knew who was trustworthy or what was going to happen next, this was one film that must be seen by those who enjoy never knowing for certain how a movie will end. The conclusion is certainly not predictable.
The storyline is all centred around Michael Douglas and beautifully portrayed of being the innocent individual who happens to be in the middle of a game he cannot control.
Nonetheless, a really good movie can not be pulled off by one actor, a great deal of credit should go to Sean Penn and Deborah Kara Unger for their influential portrayals in this film along with superb directing from David Fincher.
The Accused (1988)
A girl, Sarah Tobias (Jodie Foster) is gang-raped in a bar and the assailants are brought to court to face trial. Her inexperienced defence lawyer, Kathryn Murphy (Kelly McGillis) accepts a lesser plea of reckless endangerment, just to get the men behind bars. By so doing, the accused escape the full term of punishment by plea-bargaining their charge down to reckless endangerment, a lesser indictment when it comes to length of imprisonment. Feeling professionally embarrassed over not having offered Sarah a choice of testifying before agreeing to the deal, Kathryn is determined to prosecute the spectators for criminal solicitation. Conversely, if the case is successful, the rape would go on record and the rapists will stay in prison for the full 5-year term.
Understandably, the victim is furious about this judgement and agrees to bring to trial the men who cheered on and encouraged the gang rape of a woman in a public place. The story shows how, as often seems to happen, the raped woman gets accused of bringing the rape upon herself, because of how she is provocatively dressed and her behaviour relating to the level of alcohol she had consumed at the time in question. The District Attorney states to the jury that, a person is guilty of criminal solicitation if he commands, induces, entreats or otherwise persuades another person to commit a felony.
Jodie Foster deservedly won her first Best Actress Oscar for her powerful performance as the victim of a gang rape who has to face some harsh realities in the American judicial process as well as her own character assassination. Her lawyer Kelly McGillis is determined to prosecute those who goaded on the assailants and the suspense of the courtroom is maintained throughout as the script takes a number of flashbacks leading up to the crime and the entire rape incident helps in portraying the victims emotions and bringing the guilty to justice.
The film, excellently directed by Jonathan Kaplan is a very important film in depicting a graphic rape sequence, highlighting this as an act of violence and not sexually related. This film is intended to be disturbing, even more so because it is based on a true story.
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This is the true story of the fated Apollo 13 Mission where Houston control centre has to bring back to Earth the crippled spacecraft whilst the world watches on helplessly. A fire in the space module some 200,000 miles from Earth and unbelievable tension is mounting. The actual extent of the fire damage is unknown. Both the crew and Nasa ground control work fiendishly together to bring a solution to the depleted oxygen levels, which is inadequate to support all three crewmembers during the long trek back. With one complication after another arising the tension builds dramatically and affects Astronauts, their families, engineers and scientists back at ground control. The amazing cast of Tom Hanks (Jim Lovell), Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon), and Fred Haise (Bill Paxton), Ed Clarke (Gene Cranz) Gary Sinise based at Nasa ground control. What everyone accepted as a "routine flight" with Apollo 13 turned out to be, nothing further from the truth . . . . . .
Directed by Ron Howard and winner of two Academy Awards and depicted in this Blu Ray disc. This true story goes a long way in outlining how modern day cinematography can build and uphold riveting tension from start to finish.
Both the audio and visual aspects on Blu Ray are truly outstanding and further highlights how this can be achieved on a film more than 15 years old.
Marathon Man - Golden Classics
I have to declare that Marathon Man starts off rather slowly, and for the first thirty minutes at least, it feels as if you're watching a human drama rather than a spy thriller. However, unlike a lot of so called thrillers, Marathon Man uses this time to create and develop the characters and establish the chilling mood, which ultimately pays off later on in the film once the movie really gets up a head of steam.
The story develops around a car crash that takes place in downtown New York. One of the men in this crash is the brother of the infamous Nazi war criminal, Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier). This crash triggers off a series of events involving a graduate history student, Thomas Babe Levy ( Dustin Hoffman ) who is unwittingly caught in the middle of an international conspiracy involving stolen diamonds, also an exiled Nazi war criminal, and a rogue government agent.Consequently, from then on, many members of a US defence organisation, known as The Division, begin turning up dead.
Doc (Roy Scheider) plays the role of Babe's (Dustin Hoffman), mysterious businessman brother, getting the rare chance to play a character, which combine both hero and villain. Doc is an intriguing guy because he chooses to work out his problems in a very different way than Babe's character does. He turns out to be a very jaded person, a spy and a cold-blooded killer. John Schlesinger, the films director, does a fantastic job of keeping the audience on the edge of their seat for the duration of the movie. A constant foreboding feel is created, and you're never truly sure of what will happen. This is exactly what you want in a thriller, as nobody likes it when they can predict what will happen next.
Babe is subjected to all sorts of harassing scenes, most notably an excruciating dental torture sequence. This scene is powerful and painful on i''s own, but it is made more so by the fact that we have already become acquainted with the character and therefore we feel compassion and protection for him. That scene alone is enough to drive the movie in the realms of prominence, as it is simply one of the most powerful that cinema has ever given us, but this movie is a great more than just a torture sequence. The film ends with a spectacular sequence, which sees the movie and the two centrals characters come to a satisfying conclusion. The characters are the central theme in this movie, and had the movie ended differently it could have unravelled everything that it had created, but the movie's end is absolutely perfect and does the entire movie justice. This is a dazzling piece of cinema prominence and a thriller to compete with all thrillers.
Kelly's Heroes (War Collection)
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This story is set during World War II in post D-Day France. The plot is a simple one, which for the director Brian G Hutton, who also directed "Where Eagles Dare", guarantees the minimum of complexity and the maximum of effect. Kelly (Clint Eastwood) captures a German colonel (David Hurst), who unintentionally tells him where the Germans are hiding $16,000,000 worth of gold bars deep behind enemy lines, guarded by three Tiger Tanks and a company of S.S guards.
Recognising he is unable to take on the Nazi war-machine single-handed, he realises he's compelled to recruit some fellow conspirators, and so he talks to Master Sergeant Big Joe (Telly Savalas), the top sceptical sergeant who initially condemns the plan, but changes his mind when it becomes clear that he cannot prevent his men from going on this private mission. Murphy also seeks help from Staff Sergeant "Crapgame" (Don Rickles), the quarter master hustler who can without difficulty lay his hands on any piece of equipment or weapon; and Sergeant Oddball (Donald Sutherland), the wacky leader of a Sherman-tank squad, whose bizarre life style consists of getting high on drugs, charming women and consuming booze and to say nothing in meditating to wacky music. Oddball, in fact, virtually steals the film in his character role of a crazy woozy tank commander.
If Oddball's behaviour is not enough then he also has tagging along with him,a crew of other outrageous wacky misfits. Platoon Sgt Bellamy of the 42nd Engineers (Len Lesser) is a construction officer who gets conned into going along to build a bridge for the guys, and ends up getting really screwed over by Kelly's outfit. Once the news of the gold is general knowledge, all of the diehards become less interested in winning the war, but rather pursue the idea of relieving the German army of the gold bullion concealed inside a closed French Bank. The deal for all the crew is to divide equal shares with all those participating in the operation.
General Colt (Carroll O'Connor) plays the self esteemed General who sees the advanced movement as nothing more than a group of committed loyal soldiers taking the war by the scruff of the neck and penetrating behind enemy lines.
The movie also features some incredible action scenes. The minefield fiasco is suspenseful and nail biting, and ultimately becomes packed with loads of gunfire and explosions. The final battle, in which the dozen or so heroes manage to eliminate a garrison of Germans in a small French village, is skilfully filmed, with some brilliant cinematography and oodles of first-class special effects. Some major aspects of this sequence were copied in "Saving Private Ryan" highlighting Tiger tanks in the street, a sniper in a bell tower, machine gun fire coming from demolished buildings, the entire general look of these sequences was to some extent copied into "Saving Private Ryan", but then they say imitation is the greatest form of flattery?
The storyline is credible since it stretches, but never pushes over the line of plausibility. The Lalo Schiffrin score is light-hearted fun, and the Mike Curb Congregation's "Burning Bridges" theme is a good choice, fitting perfectly with the theme of the movie.Kelly's Heroes is a witty, light-hearted WWII adventure, with no hidden messages to convey which many other war films tended to elaborate on. This movie is a timeless classic full of entertainment and originality.
This is a remarkable film and is helped even more with a truly breath-taking Blu Ray transfer.
Directed by Ridley Scott, who also directed Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982) and Gladiator (2000) produces a sinister action story with moments of humour and mystery for much of the film. Filmed on location in Tokyo and nominated for 2 Academy awards and presents itself with a formidable cast. Watch out for a sexy Joyce played by Kate Capshaw and is portrayed as a nightclub hostess, who speaks fluent Japanese and is a local source of knowledge for Michael Douglas. As a tough cop, Michael Douglas fits the role well portraying a very believable character, which probably stems from his early days when he starred in The Streets Of San Francisco. The cinematography in the original release was excellent but now the recent release in Blue Ray is truly outstanding for image definition and sound enhancement.
Two New York cops, Nick Conklin (Michael Douglas) and Charlie Vincent (Andy Garcia) find themselves caught up in a Japanese Mafia gang killing, whilst having lunch in a busy New York restaurant. Several Japanese are killed in the massacre that followed. They pursue Sato (Yasuka Matsuda) one of the remaining assailants outside the crime scene and eventually arrest him. They are both assigned to accompany him to Japan, and must hand over Sato to the Japanese authorities. Unaware of their prisoners criminal record or hierarchy position, Nick and Charlie hand over their prisoner to bogus Japanese Police officers before leaving the plane.
Shortly after the horrendous mistake is highlighted to Nick and Charlie by the genuine Japanese police lieutenant Masahiro (Ken Takukura) who then informs them that their prisoner is a high-ranking Yakuza gang member and furthermore thanks to their mistake, he is again on the run. Nick and Charlie are embarrassed and want to rectify their incompetence and help the local authorities recapture Sato. Their request is denied, as they have no legal authority in Japan as Police Officers or permitted to carry guns, however they can tag along with Masahiro merely as observers. That is until Charlie is baited by Sato's thugs seeking revenge and brutally murdered in downtown Tokyo, right in front of Nick. Now the name of the game changes and they can only win if they play the game the Japanese way.
One great memorable piece of dialogue that takes place between Joyce and Nick goes:
Joyce: You could get me killed. You see, there's a war going on here, and they don't take prisoners.Nick Conklin: What are you talking about?Joyce: It's between Sato and an old crime boss named Sugai.Nick Conklin: Who else knows about this war?Joyce: Counting you and me?Joyce: Eleven million! !
Throughout the film, ethical morals come through highlighting austere Japanese culture and blase American values depicted in total contrasts.This is a Ridley Scott classic in which he creates great atmosphere supported by strong action scenes, great acting, panache and one-liners. In my opinion, this film and has been ignored by film critics, never being appreciated for it's potential as a classic and is the definitive police action thriller in my book.
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If Oddball's behaviour is not enough then he also has tagging along with him, a crew of other outrageous wacky misfits. Platoon Sgt Bellamy of the 42nd Engineers (Len Lesser) is a construction officer who gets conned into going along to build a bridge for the guys, and ends up getting really screwed over by Kelly's outfit. Once the news of the gold is general knowledge, all of the diehards become less interested in winning the war, but rather pursue the idea of relieving the German army of the gold bullion concealed inside a closed French Bank. The deal for all the crew is to divide equal shares with all those participating in the operation.
The movie also features some incredible action scenes. The minefield fiasco is suspenseful and nail biting, and ultimately becomes packed with loads of gunfire and explosions. The final battle, in which the dozen or so heroes manage to eliminate a garrison of Germans in a small French village, is skilfully filmed, with some brilliant cinematography and oodles of first-class special effects. Some major aspects of this sequence were copied in "Saving Private Ryan" highlighting Tiger tanks in the street, a sniper in a bell tower, machine gun fire coming from demolished buildings, the entire general look of these sequences was to some extent copied into "Saving Private Ryan, but then they say imitation is the greatest form of flattery? Quality of picture in Blue Ray and particularly sound has been exceptionally well transferred.