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View From The Couch

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JFK (1991). Upon its initial release, Oliver Stone's best film probably graced more newspaper op-ed columns than any other picture in recent memory. It's an extraordinary movie, not only in its technical prowess (the cinematography and film editing deservedly earned Oscars) but also in the way Stone is able to combine historical facts with his own flights of fancy to create a motion picture that struck more than a few nerves and even led to the real-life opening of documents related to the Kennedy assassination (though apparently not enough of them). Kevin Costner heads the all-star cast as determined district attorney Jim Garrison, with standout supporting contributions coming from Kevin Bacon, Joe Pesci, Donald Sutherland and (as Lee Harvey Oswald) Gary Oldman. JFK had previously been released as a two-disc DVD back in 2001, and this reissue includes Barbara Kopple's documentary Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy as the only new feature; holdovers include 17 minutes of extra film footage, audio commentary by Stone, and cast filmographies (which annoyingly haven't been updated since the previous DVD edition!).
Movie: 1/2
Extras:

THE OX-BOW INCIDENT (1943). Movies dealing with law and order rarely fall out of fashion simply because their themes remain forever relevant. This classic Western is no exception, as a handful of decent, moral men (led by Henry Fonda) stand against an easily swayed majority (led by a hick authority figure and a warmongering military man) as the latter group plans to hang -- without concrete evidence, of course -- three strangers accused of murder and cattle-rustling. Insert your own contemporary comparisons here. A favorite of critics and the Academy (who nominated it for Best Picture), this downbeat film found little favor with audiences coping with the rigors of World War II, but it remains a compelling watch, not least because of William A. Wellman's gruff direction and Arthur Miller's inventive camerawork (most notably during the scene in which Fonda reads a letter). Features include audio commentary by Western scholar Dick Eulain and William Wellman Jr., the Biography episode titled Henry Fonda: Hollywood's Quiet Hero, and a restoration comparison.
Movie: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES In the category of Completely Unnecessary Sequels That Were Clearly Made For The Sole Purpose Of Milking More Money Out Of Franchises That Were Already Adequately Wrapped Up, it's just possible that this might be the new king of the hill. Clearly, sights were adjusted southward for this belated follow-up to two excellent Terminator films -- creator James Cameron is somewhat missed behind the camera and Linda Hamilton (the real series star) is largely missed before it, but director Jonathan Mostow and a trio of scripters thankfully treat the property with respect. Arnold Schwarzenegger's back in "good Terminator" mode, playing another T-101 who's been reprogrammed to journey back in time to our present to protect future leader John Connor (Nick Stahl) from being killed by the female T-X (Kristanna Loken). Some interesting plot developments and a smashing (in both senses of the word) chase scene can't quite erase the familiarity of it all, but this is still a valiant effort by all concerned. Features on this two-disc DVD set include audio commentary by Mostow, Schwarzenegger and other cast members, a deleted scene, a pretty cool Visual Effects Lab (where viewers create/alter scenes from the movie), and a helpful Terminator Timeline. Also included is an order form plugging (among other items) a Terminator 3 Bobblehead Set ($25.95) and official T3 sunglasses ($175).
Movie: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

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