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Willy the Sparrow

Willy the Sparrow Lowest new price: $28.88
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List price: $19.95
Brand: Willy the Sparrow VHS

An amazing adventure teaches a young boy respect, kindness and the value of knowledge. What would it feel like to be a bird and fly over trees and housetops? A boy named Willy finds out when the Sparrow Guardian turns him into a sparrow for shooting a BB gun at the little birds! Suddenly, Willy’s own cat thinks of him as lunch but, luckily, some new sparrow friends rush to Willy’s rescue. They deliver him to a grandfatherly old bird named Cipur who takes Willy under his wing, teaches him how to fly, and so much more. In return, Willy fulfills Cipur’s lifelong dream for knowledge by teaching him how to read. Willy’s new friendships help him understand that all creatures have feelings and deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. Before Willy is turned back into a boy, he leads the sparrows in a brave but perilous plan to retake their home in the barn from Blacky the cat. Finally, the Sparrow Guardian offers Willy a very special opportunity.



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Sunshine Lowest new price: $24.88
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Although Sunshine was made by a Hungarian, István Szabó, and deals with the history of Hungary as refracted through three generations of a Jewish-Hungarian family, you might be more inclined to give it three hours of your own life if you approach i

Although Sunshine was made by a Hungarian, István Szabó, and deals with the history of Hungary as refracted through three generations of a Jewish-Hungarian family, you might be more inclined to give it three hours of your own life if you approach it as a David Lean movie in spirit. It is an English-language picture, and Maurice Jarre's music recalls his score for Doctor Zhivago. Szabó emulates Lean's intimate-epic style of merging the sweep of history with the crystalline detailing of individual lives, so that the shape of destiny is glimpsed through personal moments that feel at once evanescent and eternal. His lighting cameraman, Lajos Koltai, is one of the handful of cinematographers equal to capturing these moments in lapidary images--cinematic sunshine of the highest order.

"Sunshine" is a literal translation of Sonnenschein, the family name of the central characters. And "destiny" is one meaning of Sors, the name three Sonnenschein offspring choose for themselves to better assimilate as subjects of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Two are brothers, Ignatz (Ralph Fiennes) and Gustave (James Frain); their sister (by adoption) Valerie (Jennifer Ehle) is really their cousin. Both men love her, and Ignatz rocks the ultratraditional family by taking her as his wife. Nevertheless, the Sonnenscheins and the Sors enter upon the 20th century in loving solidarity, grateful to live under a liberal and tolerant regime. That's all swept away by the Great War, the rise of Nazism, and its replacement, the new fascism of Stalinist Communism. Valerie survives them all--though she's played later on by Rosemary Harris, Ehle's own mother. For his part--or parts--Ralph Fiennes goes on to embody two later generations of Sonnenschein/Sors men, the proudly patriotic Adam and his son, the rudderless Ivan, whose guilt over being a compliant prisoner at Auschwitz leads him to buy into the passionate puritanism of the Stalinist purges. Fiennes rises to the awesome challenge of creating three utterly distinct characters who all share the same congenital weaknesses and aching potential for greatness.

This is a film of considerable beauty and sometimes shattering power. Even three hours is not enough to do justice to all the characters, all the wrenching turnarounds of history and political allegiance and rectitude. But the film is never less than gripping, and as an essay on "family values," it's well-nigh definitive. --Richard T. Jameson

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Kontroll Lowest new price: $9.16
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Brand: Velocity Home Entertment

The Budapest subway system, the world's second oldest, is a dark, labyrinthine netherworld as vast and various as the city above it. Of the hoards of people who can be found there, most are passing through on their ways to better, brighter places, where the sunlight shines and fresh breezes blow. But, there are those who spend most of their lives underground - the beleaguered ticket inspectors or "controllers", who are assigned in teams to various sections of the system, and whose thankless job it is to ensure that no passengers ride without paying. Deployed by those in control - unseen authority figures who monitor the trains and travelers on massive grids and screens - these inspector teams are a much-despised lot. Who, on his way to work or to an appointment, wants to be stopped and asked for a receipt? And who, having sneaked through a turnstile, wants to be apprehended by petty officers who represent power at its most powerless?

The setting of Kontroll is the Budapest subway system, one of the largest and oldest in the world, and a place that becomes an omniscient character in an ambitious film that jumbles dark comedy, slick action, and horror-movie conventions. The other main character is Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi), part of a team of disheveled ticket inspectors--controllers--who roam the grimy, fluorescent-lit city-under-the-city in a soul-destroying ritual. The job has become such a part of Bulcsú that he never leaves the underground. He has taken to sleeping on empty platforms and getting progressively more unkempt as he accumulates more bruises, bloody noses, and bitterness from his scraps with a variety of unseemly creatures of the night (and day). Among the post-punk, post-communist habitués of this subterranean metropolis are a cute girl in a teddy-bear suit, a rival gang of ticket inspectors who like to play a deadly game of chicken with express trains, and a hooded specter who may or may not be pushing people under subway wheels at crowded stops. First-time director Nimród Antal keenly juggles black comedy, character types, and genre styles, making the most of the weird angles and inherent dark creepiness of his chosen backdrop. Kontroll keeps pace as a hip, flashy, fast-moving set piece by any international measure. --Ted Fry

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Copying Beethoven

Copying Beethoven Lowest new price: $52.95
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When young Anna Holz (Diane Kruger), a Viennese music student is asked to transcribe scoring notes for the great Ludwig van Beethoven (Harris), she eagerly accepts, despite warnings about his volatile behavior. Part maestro, part mentor and part madman, Beethoven reluctantly relies on Anna to help him realize the culmination of his art.

A passionate, powerful drama based loosely on the final months of Ludwig van Beethoven's life, Copying Beethoven finds the maestro a haunted man, composing the most revolutionary yet unappreciated work of his lifetime; largely deaf; disappointed in his relationship with a wastrel nephew; and fascinated by a young, female composer, Anna Holtz (Diane Kruger), who goes to work for him transcribing music. Staying as a guest at a convent and engaged to a stolid engineer, Anna is drawn to Beethoven’s tempestuous genius. Half the time he's enchanted by her and seems to see straight through to her soul. The other half, he's shouting at her for her timidity or flattery. Hardly a mouse, Anna fights back. The more she does, the more Beethoven recognizes in her a kindred survivor, someone with whom he can reveal his vulnerability and the burden of his artistry. Ed Harris' Beethoven is wracked by pain but not overwhelmed by it; he looks like a man who understands his responsibility to nature too well to merely disintegrate. ("God whispers in most men's ears," Beethoven says. "He shouts in mine.") Director Agnieszka Holland (Olivier, Olivier) oversees a handsome, alternately tender and brutal drama, with several thrilling moments, including the stunned look of audience members hearing the world premiere of the glorious 9th Symphony. --Tom Keogh

Copying Beethoven Extras

Watch Ed Harris speak about portraying Beethoven in this exclusive clip.

Beyond Copying Beethoven

Copying Beethoven Soundtrack

Famous Composers: Ludwig Van Beethoven

More From MGM

Stills from Copying Beethoven



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Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy Sunday Lowest new price: $17.55
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Brand: Warner Home Video

Gloomy Sunday (DVD) (WS)

The magic of music, the power of love, the evils of money, and the horror of genocide are the weighty themes tackled in Gloomy Sunday, a moving German-Hungarian film from director/co-writer Rolf Schubel. Released theatrically in 1999, it's said to have been "inspired by actual events," and it is true that the title song, written in the '30s by Rezso Seress (with Hungarian lyrics by Laszlo Javor), was a worldwide hit in its day; it's also a fact that the song has since been covered dozens of times, by artists ranging from Billie Holiday to Bjork and Elvis Costello. As for the suggestion that "Gloomy Sunday" was banned after being connected to multiple suicides, including the composer's, that's a bit more dicey. In any case, it plays a pivotal role in the love story set in Budapest during the ascension of the Third Reich and the onset of the Holocaust. Restaurant owner Laszlo (Joachim Krol) is in love with Ilona, his hostess (Erika Marozsán), a dark-eyed beauty who plays men as easily as Horowitz plays "Chopsticks"; she loves him as well, but that doesn't mean she won't welcome Andras (Stefano Dionisi), the restaurant's new piano player, into her bed as well. Everyone seems to handle that with admirable equanimity, at least until the young German Hans (Ben Becker) inserts himself into the scene. Having been rejected by Ilona, Hans throws himself into the Danube, only to be rescued by Laszlo; when he assures his savior that "We'll meet again," we know that's not necessarily a good thing. Indeed, when Hans returns to Budapest, he's a Nazi colonel. Things get hairy in a hurry after that: Laszlo is Jewish, Ilona still doesn't want Hans, and we're left to discover if the German officer is either another Oskar Schindler or a heartlessly venal criminal loyal only to himself. All of this is played out against the backdrop of a lovely city, with costumes, art direction, and a palette of rich, warm colors creating a convincing period feel. The DVD has no bonus features, but a cursory search of the 'net will turn up multiple versions of the title tune, a sweet but melancholy melody that sounds, as one character puts it, "as if someone were saying something you don't want to hear" but know to be true. --Sam Graham

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The Trap

The Trap Lowest new price: $7.97
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Brand: Not Rated

Post-Milosevic Belgrade is the capital of a nation struggling to find its soul, of a country whose turbulence has left many in a moral and existential desert. This is the home of Mladen, his wife Marija and their son Nemanja. When Nemanja develops a serious heart condition, the doctors urge an expensive operation abroad. Just when the boy s parents give up hope of raising the money, a man contacts Mladen and offers to pay the whole amount; in exchange, he must kill the man s business rival. The proposal repulses Mladen, but as his son s condition suddenly deteriorates, he begins to seriously consider the offer. If he accepts, he saves his boy s life but loses his soul; if he refuses, he will grieve as a righteous man until the end of his life. The trap is set....


  • Factory sealed DVD

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Love Lowest new price: $19.99
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List price: $29.95

Karoly Makk’s LOVE stands as one of the most honored and emotionally searing films of the 70’s. Legendary Hungarian actress Lili Darvas and co-star Mari Torocsik team up for an acting tour de force that found critics searching for superlatives. After her husband’s political arrest forces a young wife to care for her dying mother-in-law, the two women search through their anger and frustrations for hope, joy – and love. Critics unanimously acclaimed LOVE as one of the best films of 1973.


  • Factory sealed DVD

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All The Queen's Men

All The Queen's Men Lowest new price: $9.99
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List price: $14.97
Brand: Warner Home Video

WWII spy comedy. An American army officer (Matt LeBlanc) leads a mismatched team of British Special Services who must go in disguise as women and infiltrate a female-run Enigma factory in Berlin and bring back the decoding device that will end the war. The team, with the exception of one member who happens to be a drag performer (Eddie Izzard), must learn the basic skills for completing their mission, like walking in heels and applying lipstick. The American and his team stumble through the German factory in full drag, barely escaping the clutches of German soldiers, while attempting to complete the most important mission of their lives.

All the Queen's Men has the makings of a broad comedy--in particular, it features men in dresses. At the height of World War II, American agent Matt LeBlanc (Lost in Space, the TV series Friends) leads an oddball team behind enemy lines to steal a Nazi code-making machine; the trick is, the factory where the machines are made is entirely staffed by women, and so the team has to go in drag. But despite this seemingly farcical premise, All the Queen's Men is strongest in its dramatic elements, such as a scene in which the team is delayed when Allied airplanes bomb Berlin, forcing the undercover operatives to see the havoc of war from the other side. LeBlanc is the weak link; the rest of the team (David Birkin, James Cosmo, and brilliant comedian/transvestite Eddie Izzard) navigate the film's unstable tone and numerous implausibilities with considerably greater skill. --Bret Fetzer

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Wagner - The Complete Epic

Wagner - The Complete Epic Lowest used price: $97.73
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Brand: Kultur

Over a hundred years after his death, Richard Wagner remains an enigma. His was a rags-to-riches saga with a fairy tale ending. He was loved, yet hated; admired, yet despised. He was a heroic villian who was worshipped and whose fame and exploits were the gossip of Europe. Above all, he was an incurable romantic whose affair with Liszt's illegitimate daughter rivals that of Romeo and Juliet. But he was also a dangerous political revolutionary whose influence penetrated the fabric of German society in the nineteenth century. He was a legend in his own lifetime, and he was one of the greatest composers to ever live. Only an actor of the stature of Richard Burton could measure up to the titanic character of Wagner, and this proved to be his final film role. Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave co-stars as Cosima, Wagner's second wife, a woman who had a dramatic impact on German history until her death in 1930. The incredible supporting cast also includes screen legend Sir Laurence Olivier. Filmed in wide screen 35mm Dolby Stereo, this major drama production is one of the largest East West coproductions ever undertaken.

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The Princess and the Goblin

The Princess and the Goblin Lowest new price: $99.00
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A princess and a miner's son quell a revolt by subterranean goblins; animated. Voices of Claire Bloom, Joss Ackland, Sally Ann Marsh.

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