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Richard III A, A

UK/1995/Color/Widescreen 2.35:1/Stereo Surround, AC-3/104 minutes/Directed by Richard Loncraine/Starring Ian McKellen, Annette Benning/MGM-UA/29 Chaps/Theatrical Trailer/CLV/$34.98

Richard III is a magnificent adaptation of Shakespeare’s historical play dramatizing the rise and fall of the Machiavellian King. Updated from the 15th century to 1930’s Britain, Richard III easily casts allusions to Nazi Germany while working its way through English civil war and the methodical mayhem employed by Richard in his ascension to the throne. Ian McKellen is mesmerizing in the role of Richard. The language slithers off his lips in natural rhythms. His every movement enhances the performance with added meaning. He brandishes a smile, small teeth clenched in grin, boldly declaring sin. His stride, his use of single limb, all facets of an actors business are used to full advantage. This magnificent actor invests malevolent Richard with a dark charm born of the delight of pure evil. Once you see Richard III you will never be able to separate the play from McKellen. Most of the cast is British, but Queen Elizabeth and her brother Rivers are played by Americans Annette Bening and Robert Downey possibly suggesting some hint of Edward VIII, his abdication and subsequent marriage to American Wallace Simpson. Bening subdues her natural ebullience in the part of Elizabeth, but she fairs okay even in the company of some scene eating British thespians. Downey comes across less well convincingly. Jim Broadbent is very fine as Buckingham, Nigel Hawthorne innocent in the role of Richard’s brother Clarence and Kristin Scott-Thomas positively decadent as Lady Anne, widow of the deposed Prince. The screenplay by McKellen and director Richard Loncraine is wonderfully economical. It translates the action perfectly, blending the Shakespearean language with astounding success The striking visual opening sequence leads to the "Now is the winter of our discontent…." speech which opens the play, and is set at the York victory celebration. "My kingdom for a horse," is too marvelous in context. Costumes and set design are simply seductive in creating a fascist world of decadence and evil. What a beautiful laser disc execution. At all times very sharp, the images come alive even in the difficult opening scenes. Black uniforms are deep and foreboding and red banners that set the backdrop for the rallies are bloody garish. The surround sound is distinct and aggressive. Trevor Jones’ score is delivered in powerful detail. The dialogue is easy to understand. Richard III is one of the great Shakespeare screen adaptations, an unforgettable experience that every film lover should treasure.

 

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Laser Disc Ratings

12 Monkeys Special/A-,B+ 

12 Monkeys/ B+,B

1941 SE/ C-, B-

a la Mode/B+,B+

A Pure Formality/C,B

After the Fox/C+,B

Alaska/B,B+

Albino Aligator/C+,B

Alfie/B,B

Amateur/B+,C+

American President/ B+, B+

Apache/C+,C+

Apocalypse Now/A-,A-

Apollo 13 SpecialA,A

Apollo 13//A,A

Appaloosa/C+,C+

Assassins/C,A

Bad and the Beautiful, The/A,B+

Basquiat/C+,B

Bend of the River/ B, B+

Belle Epoque/B+,A-

Bhagdad Cafe/B,B

Big Country/ B, C

Big Deal on Madonna Street/B,B

Big Picture, The/B,B

Big Trees, The/C+,C+

Bingo Long and His Traveling All-Stars/B+,A

Blood and Wine/B,B

Blue Kite/B+,B

Bogus/C,C+

Bordello of Blood/C-,A-

Borderline/C+,B

Bound/B+,B+

Brazil Special Edition/B+,A-

Bride Came COD/B-,B

Bringing Up Baby/A,B

Brute Force/B+,B+

Bulletproof/C,B+

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid/B,A-

Call Nothside 777/B+,C+

Camille Claudel/ A, B+

Canterville Ghost/C+,C+

Caro Diario/A-,A-
Captain from Castile/B,B+

Casino/ C+, B

Casper/C+,A

Cause for Alarm/C,B-

Celestial Clockwork/B+,B-

China Moon/B+,A

Christmas in July/A,B+

Christopher Columbus(1949)/C,C

Come and Get It/B,B+

Commandments/C+,B+

Courage Under Fire/B,A

Crash/C+,B+

Crimson Tide/A-,A

Crossing Guard, The/B,B+

Cutthroat Island/C, A

Dante's Peak/B-/B

Daylight/B,A-

Dead Man Walking/C+,B+

Dead Man/C+,A-

Dead Presidents Special/ B+,A

Dersu Uzala/B+,B

Diabolique(1995)/C+,C

Diary of Ann Frank/ A-,B

Dodes'ka-den/ B+, B+

Double Happiness/ B+,B+

Dragon/B+,A

Dune/C+,B+

Earrings of Madame de.../ B+, B+

Enemy Below/ B, B

Englishman Who Went..../C,B

English Patient/B+,A

Ermo/B-,B-

Escape from LA/B-,A

Everybody's Fine/C+,C+

Executive Decision/B+,A

Eye for an Eye/B,B+

F.I.S.T./B,B

Face-Off/B+,A
Family Thing/B,B+
Farewell My Concubine/A-,A

Far Country/ B-, C+

Field of Dreams Special/A-,B+

Field of Dreams/ A-, B

Fierce Creatures/B-,B+

Fires on the Plain/B+,B

Firestarter/C+,C+

First Knight/ C-, B+

First Wives Club/C+,B+

For Whom the Bell Tolls/B-,B+
French Kiss/B-,B+
Fugitive,The(1947)/B-,B

Frankie Starlight/B+,B

Freaks/B+,B

Free Willy 2/B-,B+

Funny Bones/A,A

Get Shorty/ A, A

Goldeneye/ B, A

Ghost Story/B,B

Great Escape(MGM)/A-,B-

Great Expectations/A,B+

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan/B+,C

Grosse Point Blank/A-,A-

Grumpier Old Men/B-,B+

Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, The/B,C-

Happy Gilmore/ B-, A-

Hard Boiled/B-,B+

Hard Eight/B,C+

Harriet the Spy/B,A

Haunting, The/A,B+

Head Above Water/D+,B

Heat/A-,B

Heaven and Earth/B+,A-

Helen of Troy/C+,B+

Henry V/A,B

Hill,The/A-,B

Hoop Dreams/A,A

Horseman on the Roof/B-,B

Innocent, The/ C, C

Innocents, The/ A, A-

Interrupted Melody/C+,C

Into the West/A,B+

Inventing the Abbots/B-,B+

Jack/C+,A-

Jean de Florette/ A-, B-

Jumanji/ B+, B+

Kansas City/D+,C+

Kentuckian/B-/B

Kingpin/B,B+

Kolya/A-,A-

Kwaidan/A,A-

La Dolce Vita/ A, B

Last Dance/B,B+

Last Man Standing/C,B

Last Supper, The/B-,B+

League of Gentlemen/B,B

Leave Her to Heaven/B+,B+

Les Miserables/ B, B+

Liar,Liar Special/B+,A

Lili/A-,C

List of Adrien Messinger/B,B+

Lonely are the Brave/A-,A-
Lord of Illusions/B,A-

Love Jones/B,A-

Malice/B+,B+
Mask,The/A-,A
Mi Familia/A-,A-
Michael/C+,A

Miracle of Morgan's Creek/B,B-

Mirage/B,B-

Mission Impossible/C+,B+

Mona Lisa/B+,B+

Morgan/B,C+

Mulholland Falls/C+,B

Muriel's Wedding/ B, B+

My Name is Nobody/C,C

Mystery of Rampo/ A-, B

Natural Born Killers/B,B+

Nell/B,A-

Net, The/ C, B+

Nixon/B+,A

Nothing Sacred/B,C

Old Man and the Sea/B,B

Othello/A-,B+

Peeping Tom/A-,A-
Raw Deal/B+,B
Red Firecracker,Green Firecracker/B+,A
Repulsion/A,A

Restoration/B+,A

Richard III/A,A

Ridicule/A-,B-

River Wild/B+,A-

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion/B,B

Room at the Top/A-,B

Rosewood/B,B+

Scopio/B,C

Seven SE/ B+, A

Shawshank Redemption/A-,A
She/B,B-

Shining Through/C+,B

Silence of the Lambs/A,A
Sling Blade/A,B+

Slingshot/A,A-

Something to Talk About/ B-, B+

Spartacus Special Edition/A,A

Species/C,B+

Star Trek: First Contact/C+,A-

Stars Fell on Henrietta/ C+,B+

Stealing Beauty/B,B

Strange Days/ C+, B+

Striptease/D,A-

Sudden Death/ B, A-

Sullivan's Travels/B+,B

Surviving Picasso/C,B+

T-Man/B,B

That Old Feeling/B-,A-

That Thing You Do/B,C+

They Drive By Night/B,B

Thieves(Les Voleurs)/B,B

Things You Do in Denver When You're Dead/D+,B+

This Sporting Life/A-,B+

Timemaster/ D, C

Tom and Viv/B-,B-

Tortilla Flat/B+,B

Trainspotting/B-,B+

Trees Lounge/B-,B-

Trigger Effect/B-,B+

Two Bits/C,B

Unforgettable/C,C+

Umbrellas of Cherbourg/B+,B

Unzipped/B-,B-

Usual Suspects/ B-,C+

Valdez is Coming/C+,B-

Vengeance Valley/B,C+

Vertigo/A-,A-

Virtuosity/ C+, A

Wait Until Dark/B,B-

Walk in the Clouds, A/ A-,

Walkabout/B/B-

Waterworld/ B+, B

White Man's Burden/ B, B+

White Squall/ B,A

Whole Wide World/B,B

Wicked City/ B, C+

Wild Bill/ C+, B

Window to Paris/ B,B

Witness/B+,A-
Wonderful,Horrible World Life..../B+,B

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 Films on Disc 1999  Stuart J. Kobak , all rights reserved.