Nick's Pics Nick
Nicholson Film & Home Entertainment Critic
This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the
writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views
regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the
editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day
time phone number.
COMPACT DISC MUSIC REVIEW
LEONARD BERNSTEIN: The Symphony Edition
October 14, 1990
Leonard Bernstein is arguably the finest conductor and musician of the modern era. His legacy in the history of twentieth-century American music can hardly be overstated. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of his passing (October 14, 1990), Sony Classical presented Leonard Bernstein: the Symphony Edition, which is now commercially available. Leonard Bernstein's daughter, Jamie, had a unique perspective on this set. ”My brother, sister and I grew up surrounded by the sounds of the music our father performed and recorded with the New York Philharmonic and various other orchestras around the world. Along the way, these performances and recordings imbued us with a deep understanding and love for this rich repertoire. It was always our hope that the multitude of symphonic recordings our father made over the course of his extraordinary career could be gathered together, to serve as an essential body of reference for all those with an interest in classical music: students, teachers, the curious and the fanatical. We were sure that by having access to the totality of these outstanding recordings, any music lover could feel they were in the possession of a truly comprehensive resource – not to mention a trove of beauty. And now, thanks to Sony, our dream has come true. This superbly assembled set of our father’s symphonic recordings is sure to give the world the same sense we grew up with: that this repertoire was at our fingertips – always available, always beautiful, and in the finest possible renditions.”
Leonard Bernstein: the Symphony Edition is a 60-CD set that includes all of Bernstein’s symphonic recordings – fifty-seven of them recorded with the New York Philharmonic from 1953 to 1976, during his historic years with the orchestra. Included are complete cycles of the Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler and Sibelius symphonies, as well as milestone recordings of Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony, Ives’s 2nd Symphony, and Haydn’s “Paris” and “London” Symphonies. The complete set allows listeners to experience the magnificent world of the symphony in all its variety and provides a fascinating document of a great conductor and composer at the height of his career. The limited edition box set presents each disc in an individually repackaged design with sixty stunning pictures of the maestro. Leonard Bernstein: the Symphony Edition also includes a large-format book with extensive essays by Klaus Geitel, a prominent German journalist and renowned German musicologist, Wolfgang Stahr. Simply put, this set is a must own for any fan of classical music, let alone fans of the master himself!
The Symphony Edition
Company: Sony Classical
Now Showing: in Stores Now
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of Carnival Magic, Water Life: BD, Uncle Nino: BD, The First of May or Let Me In on DVD or Blu-ray, it is really easy! All you have to do is send me an email at HoustonMovieGuy@gmail.com. The subject line of the email should read DVD GIVEAWAY. In the body of the email, be sure to put your name, full mailing address and which DVD or Blu-ray you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing. Best of luck!
THE BLEEDING - Anchor Bay
Shawn Black returns from Afghanistan to find that his parents have been murdered by a gang of vampires that has taken his brother as their new king. Now, Shawn must arm himself to the teeth in order to battle the legions of darkness and stop his evil brother once and for all! The Bleeding is a cut-rate Blade knockoff that is made unbearable by Michael Matthias' stagnant performance as Shawn Black, vampire hunter. He can't take all of the credit for this unfortunate bust however, since he is joined by an all-star cast of C-list celebs, including Michael Madsen, DMX, Armand Assante, and Vinnie Jones in a ridiculous performance as the vampire pimp king Cain.
BIRDEMIC: Shock and Terror - Severin
Rod (Alan Bagh) is a software salesman who runs into a high school classmate, Nathalie (Whitney Moore), who's become a fashion model, by chance in a diner. After a painfully awkward meeting scene that encompasses everything one shouldn't do in a meeting scene, they begin dating. There are a couple of foreshadowing moments that something will go wrong, but for the most part, it's played as a straight drama/romance. Fifty minutes into the movie, however, it switches direction into echo horror. The opening piece of this half of the movie is so badly done that I defy anyone to see it without laughing in near-hysterical disbelief. It is at this point that the movie transcends is horrible beginnings and becomes worthy of sticking on your short shelf of movies so truly awful that you can't help but love them.
THOMAS & FRIENDS: Pop Goes Thomas - Lionsgate
This Thomas & Friends DVD is full of excitement and springtime. The DVD features four episodes in the new CGI animation. Thomas realizes when he goes on bumpy tracks a fun popping noise happens. He doesn't realize that it is actually the corks from the Lemonade and it is actually making quite a mess around town. I think this teaches a great lesson that just because something is fun doesn't mean it is okay to do. The other Thomas & Friends episodes are just as fun and perfect to get kids in the mood to go outside! With the crazy weather we have been having it was nice to see some outside fun going on! This DVD is perfect for old or new Thomas fans!
ANGELINA BALLERINA: Ballet Dreams - Lionsgate
I love Angelina Ballerina. She is so cute and adorable and she always does the right thing, even it if takes awhile. This DVD is full of five episodes all revolving around Angelina and her ballet dancing! The DVD starts out with Angelina's family moving across town, which means new friends, a new school, and a new dance teacher. Angelina lies to the school because she is nervous about the change, but in the end realizes it is going to be great. I think this episode is great because I know how scary moving can be for kids and this shows how it can be a fun new adventure. The other episodes are just as good and focus on Angelina and her little sister, her new dance teacher and school, and are all full of dancing and singing!
MAKING THE CROOKED STRAIGHT - Docurama
Born in Long Island, NY, and educated at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Rick Hodes has dedicated his life to helping heal the sick and poor of Ethiopia over the past 20 years. Making the Crooked Straight is a documentary about this remarkable man s journey to save the world by saving one child at a time.
MEGAMIND - Paramount
Villainy is a way of life, but if a villain doesn't have a hero to battle, can he still expect the same sense of satisfaction from his evil deeds? When Megamind (Will Ferrell) finally defeats his long-time nemesis Metro Man (Brad Pitt), he ecstatically goes about laying ruin to Metro City, reveling in the fact that he can now have anything he wants. Surprisingly, Megamind's glee quickly turns to dissatisfaction as he realizes that the battle was half the fun and everything comes too easy now. Thus begins a plot to turn the nerdy Hal (Jonah Hill) into Tighten, a new hero for Megamind to battle. What Megamind doesn't count on is that Tighten may not turn out to be as good as he's meant to be. Nor does he anticipate falling in love with his old rival's girl Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey). In the end, Megamind finds he must rethink his assumptions about good, bad, and what makes him happy.
ALL STAR SUPERMAN - Warner
This movie hit the very core of Superman's character. It has many strong moments for all the characters and for Lex Luthor in particular. My true score for this movie would be 4.5, given an oddly stiff voice performance for Lois and one awkward storyline transition. Other than that, the movie was perfect and definitely the best animated Superman movie to date.
GAME OF DEATH - Sony
Wesley Snipes stars in the straight-to-DVD action thriller Game of Death, which is not a bad thing--such fast-and-cheap flicks are the B movies of our time, and B movies have held up surprisingly well. Game of Death starts with a needless framing device, but once the main story gets underway--which can basically be described as Die Hard in a hospital, followed by Die Hard in a bank--the movie zips along, with lean efficient action (Snipes has a casual, almost lazy authority in his fight scenes) and odd but cheesily entertaining tangents, such as when Snipes gets briefly trapped in the hospital's psych ward. A few offbeat details (Snipes's character is diabetic) and some energetic performances (Quinn Duffy, as a corrupt executive, chews the scenery with particular relish) give the movie unexpected flavor.
ALONZO BODDEN: Who's Paying Attention? - E1 Entertainment
The massive decline of Western civilization and pop culture references abound in this Alonzo Bodden masterpiece! This hilarious stand up act took place in New York back in 2010. Every topic imaginable is broached from pirates, construction, confusion, rap music and even swine flu - nothing is off limits! You will find this show hilarious on all levels as Bodden is a true comedic genius that takes on the world!
AIRWOLF: Season Four - Universal
Airwolf heads to the skies for its stunning final flight in all 24 episodes in the fourth season of one of the most action-packed adventure series ever made. Piloted by Stringfellow Hawke’s long-lost brother, Saint John (Barry Van Dyke), the stage is set for air battles unlike anything seen before. Joined by a new crew comprised of Dominic’s resourceful niece, Jo (Michele Scarabelli), rebellious Major Mike Rivers (Geraint Wyn Davies), “Company” agent Jason Locke (Anthony Sherwood) and Newman, Locke’s mysterious supervisor and F.I.R.M. agent (William B. Davis), Airwolf faces down its greatest challenges yet: from the threat of nuclear meltdown to contraband weapons and radioactive clouds. It’s explosive action from start to finish in the show that took adventure to new heights.
DINO STRIKE: Wii - Zoo Games
It's a race for survival in Dino Strike as players blast through jungles filled with prehistoric beasts looking to put them on the endangered species list. Players can explore multiple environments - beaches, jungles, caves and volcanoes - and discover hidden dinosaur eggs to unlock extra lives as well as scattered journal entries and illustrations to aid them in their quest. Bundled with a gun peripheral, Dino Strike also forces gamers to depend on their acute precision to blast through the dinosaur-infested island, while choosing from a variety of weapons including a pistol, sawed-off shotgun, crossbow and machine gun to face the ferocious beasts. The action-packed title also offers Single Player and Dual Wield modes, co-op multi player functionality and customization of level difficulty for the adventurous gamer.
PHOTO PHANTASY: Nintendo - Zoo Games
Photo Phantasy is a classic puzzle game in which players are asked to spot the minute differences between pairs of images. What's different about this game is it packages together a group of puzzles based on three stories - Dreams, Goldilocks, and Peter Pan. As players complete puzzles in each story, they unlock new scenes in that story. Peter Pan and Goldilocks go through the well-known tales in comic book form, while the Dreams story includes a lot of fantastical imagery. Players earn higher scores for finding more differences in each puzzle, though with three levels of difficulty, players of all abilities are able to progress through the stories without too much of a hassle.
ZOMBIEZ SEEKER: Nintendo - Zoo Games
Zombiez Seeker is a gruesome game of sharp shooting and survival! Blast your way through the zombie infested town and try to win each terrifying level without succumbing to the undead. Fight off hordes of the undead as they seek out the living in Zombiez Seeker. Struggle for survival as infected, snarling zombies set to turn you into a mindless decaying corpse with a hunger for human flesh. Armed with deadly weapons, you must fight your way through the living dead or find yourself walking among them.
MICHAEL JORDAN: To The Max - Lionsgate
The action is on! Michael Jordan explodes on screen in this box office hit – the most exciting live-action IMAX movie ever. Follow Michael Jordan’s last basketball season as he leads the Chicago Bulls to their sixth NBA championship. Michael Jordan To The Max provides a rare glimpse of Michael Jordan on and off the court, featuring electrifying on-court action and candid interviews with Phil Jackson, Steve Kerr, Doug Collins, and Bob Costas. Get ready to experience some of the greatest moments in modern sports history from one of the most dominant sports legends of all time.
THE PRESIDENTS COLLECTION - PBS
Five stars on this series. As a history buff, I've found these are the only documentaries on the presidents that accurately portray both sides of these controversial, complex and powerful leaders. It's a series of PBS documentaries that began in 1990 with David Grubin's "LBJ" and ended this spring (2008) with "George H.W. Bush". Included in the series, but excluded from this set for some reason is the 1993 documentary on Dwight D. Eisenhower: "IKE", hosted by David McCollugh. It was available several years ago in a box set with the other Republican presidents. But it seems to have vanished this time around. An oversight by PBS perhaps? Inability to obtain publication rights from the filmmaker? Who knows? But its absence leaves a gaping hole in American presidential history that *seems* easily remedied. Fix that, and you've got a near perfect visual lesson on the presidency during the 20th century, sans presidents Taft, Hoover, Coolidge and Clinton.
BAMBI: Diamond Edition - Disney
Walt Disney opened the vein of fear that drives children and adults alike with his animated classic films. Disney understood, like the Grimms before him, that the same fears are at the heart of what motivate children as they do adults. In the uncertain and haunted world of the 40's where war and loss hung like a specter stalking every aspect of American life, Disney mined that vein of fear, loss and death and turned it on its head recognizing that the optimism and can-do attitude of the American dream could triumph but not undo the nightmares of the past. That's why Walt's films continue to resonate today even with fancy computer animated effects and larger than life villains. He knew that the worst monsters could be our next door neighbors. Disney adapted a modern sensibility to the same fears that the Grimms paraded in their tales. That's why "Bambi" despite its pacing from a slower, less attention challenged era still has power and poignancy. As a kid everything you need to know about life can be learned from a Walt Disney film.