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The term “cult classic” could have been invented for this gem. With little fanfare this humble fantasy flick has ingratiated itself to film buffs and romantics ever since.

What makes the film so surprisingly successful is that it can reach a number of different viewers and affect them in different ways. The gals may enjoy the romance while guys might enjoy the adventure while kid of all ages will appreciate the fantasy. It would be a mistake to label it a family film as that would make it sound sanitised when in fact it has cheeky sense of humour and an almost surreal grasp of the genre that elevates it far above films of its kind.

The Princess Bride is basically a story within a story. A young boy is bed-ridden when his grandfather reads him a story about Buttercup and the band of heroes that defend her. Fred Savage and Peter Falk are perfectly cast here and they provide the backbone for this beautiful tale about the healing and redemptive powers of the imagination.

The story itself is a jolly fable which grandad promises has “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Revenge. Giants. Bad men. Best men. Monsters of all shapes and sizes. Chases. Escapes. True love. Miracles.” It also has cracking cast with Cary Elwes as the dashing hero and a remarkable collection of character actors including Mandy Patinkin and Christopher Guest and cameos from the likes of Billy Crystal.

The Princess Bride is a treasure and a treat and one of the finest fantasy film ever made, a film with its tongue in its cheek and with its heart in the right place.Available from www.totaldvd.com.au for only $32.95, click here.

The Princess Bride DVD Competition!

Thanks to Magna Pacific, She Said and Total DVD have three copies of The Princess Bride to give away. If you want your chance to own this fabulous fantasy film, click click here.

Lantana

In many ways Lantana may prove a watershed in Australian filmmaking. It signals a new sophistication with a story that is as complex as the emotional worlds it opens up.

Stated simply, Lantana follows the romantic entanglements of a small group of people who are brought together inexplicably and inextricably by the disappearance of a psychiatrist. Although the framework is a murder mystery, this film is more interested in the mysteries of the heart, the convoluted path of passion that leads us to act in ways we would never have imagined.

The film was directed by Ray Lawrence, a giant in the advertising industry who rarely makes films but has turned out classics on each occasion. In fact his only other film was made 15 years earlier. That just happened to be Bliss, another benchmark of quality local film. It was definitely worth the wait as he assembles an extraordinarily strong cast including Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey, Kerry Armstrong, Rachael Blake, Vince Colosimo, Peter Phelps and Glenn Robbins are all equally remarkable.

The lantana of the title appears to be a metaphor for the tangled web of circumstances and coincidence in the film but it could also represent the messy web of emotions that make up the heart.

Available from www.totaldvd.com.au for only $33.95, click here.

Bedazzled

Bedazzled was originally a devastatingly dry British film from the classic comedic pairing of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Directed, astonishingly, by Hollywood giant Stanley Donen, this tale of a hapless man bewitched, bedazzled and bedevilled by the Prince of Darkness who offers him a hand of his fair maiden in exchange for his soul has been a favourite since the ’60s.

This contemporary update may not be quite the classic of the original but director and writer Harold Ramis has a strong sense of style and timing so this remake is surprisingly strong. This is largely due to the casting of the hunk with a heart Brendan Fraser who is one of the few actors these days with matinee idol looks and a goofball persona that allows him to send himself up silly. He’s given plenty of opportunity to satirise his beefcake image in a series of vignettes that have him as a Columbia drug lord, a guitar strumming hippy snag and a poorly hung sports star.

What really enriches the mix is sensational turn from Elizabeth Hurley as the devil. She has delicious way around a one-liner and invests the film with a much-needed sense of sex and sin.

Be ready to be bedazzled by this film and given the rarity of a remake holding its own against the original classic, one might wonder if all concerned may have signed a pact with the devil.

Available from www.totaldvd.com.au for only $24.95, click here.