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Editor's rating: 
Sunday, 01 July 2007 |  Written by Bill Warren  | 
Dog Day Afternoon Al Pacino was recently awarded the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award—and “Dog Day Afternoon” is one of the movies that got him that honor. As gentle-natured bank robber Sonny, Pacino gives what may well be the finest performance of his career—certainly the finest for many of the years that followed. He gets completely into the somewhat warped soul of this earnest little man, who is in way over his head before he even announces to the startled employees of a bank that this is a holdup. Sonny could easily have become a silly, pathetic figure, but Pacino keeps him sympathetic and likeable, right to the tragic end. “Dog Day Afternoon” is based on a real-life incident that occurred in August, 1972, when John Wojtowicz along with Sal Naturile and another man entered a bank in Brooklyn and demanded money. Wojtowicz—Sonny in the movie—wanted enough money to finance the sex-change operation on Ernest ...
Editor's rating: 
Sunday, 01 April 2007 |  Written by Bill Warren  | 
Under Siege “Under Siege” in Hi-Definition DVD is an example of a movie too common in Blu-Ray and Hi-Def release these days: it’s not particularly well-served by the high-definition process, unless you really get off on pipes, dials, ship corridors and the like. The movie takes place entirely on a battleship; it does not rely strongly on its visual quality, other than that it employs standard studio good cinematography. To showcase these systems, the studios should be releasing films that greatly benefit from high definition—those that have strong, unusual production design, landscapes heavy with trees, night-time cityscapes, unusually detail costumes, etc. “Under Siege” is an action thriller set in confined, unattractive sets; it’s anything but a visual feast, although it is a handsome film in its own terms. But it cannot, by its very nature, serve as a demonstration disc for high definition DVD. It’s an entertaining if preposterous, best described as "Die Hard on a Battleship;" ...
Editor's rating: 
Thursday, 01 February 2007 |  Written by Bill Warren  | 
Backdraft This huge, elaborate thriller, tautly directed by Ron Howard, is as corny as a 4th of July fireworks show, and about as spectacular. The script by Greg Widen is old-fashioned and uncomplicated, with stereotypes instead of characters, and a plot as obvious as a knock-knock joke. But this kind of melodrama's familiarity can actually be comforting because we don't have to judge anyone, we don't have to struggle with concepts — they become part of a well-known ritual, and the setting and events pop into relief. As with all melodramas, the story of "Backdraft" isn't anywhere nearly as important as how the story is told — and Howard tells it very well. It's the same kind of familiarity as an old-fashioned song, a Western, or a private eye whodunnit. This was the first large-scale movie about firemen, which is surprising, because it plays like a remake of an old Jimmy Cagney-Pat O'Brien movie, ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 01 December 2006 |  Written by Mel Odom  | 
Four Brothers “Four Brothers” is based on a sturdy, familiar element: revenge. When foster parent Evelyn Mercer (Fionnula Flanagan) gets killed in what looks like an unfortunate convenience store robbery, her four “sons” return to town for her funeral and stay on for a little hands-on vengeance. The action stays down and dirty but mixes in some political crime and one of the sleekest, nastiest villains to reach the screen in some time. The movie is a potboiler of the first degree, a rolling juggernaut of pacing, sketchy but solid characterization, and bone-jarring violence. During a dearth of R-rated films and departure for a kinder and gentler violence, death and mayhem, “Four Brothers” stands out from the current crop of DVD fare. Video Presentation: The HD DVD in 1080i shows the hard edges and the grit of the urban landscape. During the chase through the snow-covered streets about halfway through, you can see the individual flakes swirling. ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 01 December 2006 |  Written by Bill Warren  | 
Bourne Supremacy, The “The Bourne Supremacy” looks great on high-def DVD, there’s no two ways about it. Even in an opening scene which is practically black on black, details are clear without sacrificing the mood the darkness is intended to bring. Scenes in India are sharp and detailed with green, as common in high definition, a standout color. This disc also includes plentiful extras, a beautifully-engineered sound track and an exciting story. It’s hard to resist, so don’t bother to try. This sequel to “The Bourne Identity” pulls off the rarest of tricks for a sequel: it’s better than the original, and that was quite good itself. As directed by Paul Greengrass, “Supremacy” (the title’s meaning is never explained) is more realistically filmed than “Identity,” which had a sleeker, more machine-tooled look, which contrasted with the fragmentary handling of some of the action scenes. Here, the action scenes were shot with multiple cameras, often hand-held, and though ...
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