This avant-garde documentary traces the weeks of rehearsal leading up to a 2000 play by playwright and director Sam Shepard, based on his relationship with his own alcoholic father. Shepard assembled a cast that included Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, and Woody Harrelson, and while it's interesting to watch these pros prepare for their curtain call, they all seem to get along too well to make this more than an occasionally interesting behind-the-scenes look at live theater. The best drama—whether fiction or reality television—comes from conflict, but there's none to be found here, despite the disc jacket's claim that the play's characters "set off a powder keg of emotions so explosive that the actors themselves are drawn into the fray." This is just dull, and even Shepard appears to be dozing off during some of the script-reading sessions. The best moment comes when Harrelson and Penn, apparently competing with Nolte for the title Most Scruffy Looking Actor, bust each other's chops on some of their past film choices (yes, Shanghai Surprise comes into the conversation).
Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotton, E.G. Marshall, James Whitmore, Jason Robards. Directed by Richard Fleischer and Kinji Fukasaku. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 4.1. 144 minutes. 1970. Fox Home Entertainment 2001317. G. $24.98.
When I was in high school, long before VCRs became disposable, I struggled to stay awake into the wee hours to watch The Twilight Zone on various cable TV Superstations. Never mind that I'd seen most of the episodes. A friend and I planned to write a book about the series, so we lost sleep in the name of research.
This isn’t so much a DVD as a shelf-sized memorial to the passengers who fought “the first battle in the war on terror.” The film itself, deftly and nonpolitically directed by Paul Greengrass, captures the chaotic events of that morning on the ground and in the air. The movie’s final act is set exclusively on the doomed airliner, and it’s then that the tension and anguish reach their apex, aided by a minimalist, throbbing score.
Steven Spielberg's frightening remake of George Pal's seminal 1953 classic was the popcorn-munching movie of last summer. This time out, the aliens' decimation of Earth is told from the highly personal viewpoint of a single, divorced man (Tom Cruise), trying merely to keep his family safe amid the chaos. This one-view approach proves highly effective, as it thoroughly puts the viewers in our hero's working-class sneakers.
The massive reconstruction of Ground Zero for Oliver Stone’s tribute to the heroes of 9/11 is one of the more fascinating DVD extras I’ve seen in a while. The set had to resemble the actual site and be flexible enough to allow for lighting and shooting in tight spaces—all while being safe for the crew to work on and around.