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All Reviews by Jason Aaron
Despite how much some parents gripe about there not being enough
worthwhile, family friendly films at the theater, almost none of them
saw writer/director Brand Birds 1999 animated adventure film
The Iron Giant, one of the best animated films of recent memory.
Some of those parents may also have been initially turned off by The
Incredibles, since its the first Pixar film geared toward
all-out action, without a cute animal, talking toy or adorable monster
Now, however, with Oscar in hand for Best Animated Feature, Bird
is finally vindicated. This story of a family of superheroes is the
most visually enthralling of Pixars long line of modern classics,
including Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo.
It also boasts lightning-paced action scenes that outshine most of
the years mega-budget live-action efforts. As usual, Pixars
DVD release offers tons of features worthy of being dubbed special,
including an all-new animated short-film, The Jack-Jack Attack, a
goofy retro cartoon, top secret files on all of the supers,
bloopers, documentaries and more.
Not since the golden age of Walt Disney in the 30s and 40s has an animation studio generated such a string of hits. Chances are it wont last, but for now, the geniuses behind The Incredibles can do no wrong. (PG) Rating: 5
Maverick director Sam Peckinpah is best known for his 1969 western
The Wild Bunch and its beautiful ballets of blood, grit and
gunfire. To a lesser extent, hes known for 1971s Straw
Dogs, an extremely dark, and some would say misogynistic, examination
of violence in a small English town.
Thanks to this new DVD release, maybe film lovers will finally come
to know Peckinpah for his darkest and most demented yet lesser known
masterpiece, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo
When the American, played to the hilt by Warren Oates, learns that
Garcia has been killed in a car accident, he figures itll be
not any trouble to dig up the body, cut off the head and bring it
in for a load of cash. Unfortunately for him, holding on to the head
proves far more difficult than he ever imagined.
Oates (who also appeared in The Wild Bunch) gives a bravura
performance as the slimy expat who loses far more than he ever thought
possible, thanks to the rotting, filthy head of Mr. Garcia. Apparently,
the director was the last person on the films set to catch on
that Oates was actually playing Peckinpah himself, right down to the
directors trademark sunglasses, worn at all times of the day
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is pure Peckinpah: dark, bitter, merciless, violent and gorgeous in it ugliness. Its also one of the most underrated films of the last 30 years. (R) Rating: 5
While Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs may have been the first,
Sleeping Beauty the most visually exquisite and The Lion
King the most financially successful, you could still make a pretty
strong case for Bambi being Disneys all-time greatest
animated film. Certainly Its no exaggeration to rank its pivotal
scene, the death of Bambis mother, among the most memorable
moments in movie history. No animated film before Bambi, and very
few since, have achieved the same level of emotional power as this
forest critter coming-of-age tale from 1942.
Produced in the midst of WWII, when Walt Disney was dealing with
labor and financial problems, Bambi aspired to a greatest sense
of realism and intensity than what had previously been animated for
the screen. With its first ever DVD release, the film is returned
to its original glory thanks to 9,600 hours of meticulous restoration.
This two-disc Special Edition also includes a glimpse inside Walts
original story meetings, extensive documentaries on the films
production and restoration, and a cool tour of the Disney Animation
Research Library, where the actual animation cells from past films
Thankfully, there are no Jessica Simpson music videos or other such
worthless extras that Disney usually likes to include on their DVDs.
Even their new direct-to-video Bambi sequel comes across as
remarkably sincere in its attempt to honor the original. This is easily
the best DVD release of a Disney classic, and one thats sure
to inspire countless future generations of toddlers to ask that age-old
question, What happened to Bambis mother? (G) Rating:
From Alexander Payne, writer/director of About Schmidt and
Election, comes the oddball indie hit of 2004.
The story of two men driving through California wine country, sampling
different brands, doesnt exactly sound like the set-up for a
riveting film. But Sideways was easily the funniest, most consistently
entertaining film of the year. Paul Giamattis performance, as
a wine connoisseur and failed novelist unable to get over his divorce,
is almost as good as his turn in 2003s American Splendor
(where he played a neurotic mail clerk and comic book writer), proving
that Giamatti has truly perfected the art of being seeming utterly
While Clint Eastwoods dreary Million Dollar melodrama
may have hoarded all the Oscars, Sideways is easily the better
film. Its that rarest of Hollywood rarities: a worthwhile romantic
comedy that offers moments of honest tenderness as well as a belly
shaking laugh or two.
It doesnt matter if you dont know shit from shinola when it comes to wine, Sideways is still worth a taste. (R) Rating: 4
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