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Reviews: March 2, 2008

2 Mar, 2008 By: Home Media Reviews

Dan in Real Life
Street 3/11

Into the Wild
Street 3/11

Southland Tales
Street 3/18

Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation
Street 3/11

The Sasquatch Gang
Street 3/18

Ben 10: Race Against Time
Prebook 3/4; Street 4/8

East L.A. Marine: The Untold True Story of Guy Gabaldon
Prebook 3/4; Street 4/8
Arts Alliance America, Documentary, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Narrated by Freddie Prinze Jr.

Many have heard of the 1960 war drama Hell to Eternity, starring 6-foot-tall Jeffrey Hunter as World War II hero Guy Gabaldon. Not so many may know the real-life Gabaldon was a 5-foot-4-inch Hispanic Marine from East Los Angeles.

East L.A. Marine hopes to change that. The documentary pieces together Gabaldon's life through interviews with the man himself, two of his sons, friends, fellow Marines and military historians as well as excerpts from his appearance on “This Is Your Life,” photos and war footage.

Gabaldon grew up in Boyle Heights, Calif., and had a reputation as a tough, outspoken kid. He spent much of his childhood with his Japanese neighbors, picking up the language and culture. When his friends were hauled off to Japanese internment camps, he was left devastated and soon after joined the Marines.

In 1944, when he was 18, he was stationed in Saipan. Not one to listen to his superiors, he went off on his own and convinced hundreds of Japanese soldiers to surrender, often single-handedly. His knowledge of the language and culture allowed him to capture about 2,000 soldiers and civilians. That this meant the prisoners lived and were not casualties of war was a feat for which Gabaldon was very proud.

Yet Gabaldon was bypassed for the Congressional Medal of Honor and also for a promotion.

Some say Gabaldon didn't get proper recognition because he was Hispanic; others say because he didn't always follow the rules.

East L.A. Marine hopes to bring attention to Gabaldon's heroic acts to posthumously honor him with the Medal of Honor.

Some of the footage is old, shaky and unclear, but it puts the film in context and gives viewers a fuller sense of Gabaldon. Seeing some of the more-graphic war footage alongside the pictures and clips of the short, soft-spoken Gabaldon left me even more amazed at the man's accomplishments. Angelique Flores

Dragons: Destiny of Fire
Prebook 3/7; Street 4/8

Blu-ray Spotlight: Montreux Jazz Festival: Yes/Santana/Deep Purple
Eagle Rock, Music, $24.98 Blu-ray each, NR.

I used to be such a big Yes fan back in the 1970s that for my 10th-grade film-class project I used my parents' Super 8 to film a Yes concert off the TV. Now, watching Yes' 2003 performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival — part of the band's reunion tour — I was taken back to those days all over again, as well as the three or four times I saw Yes in concert, each time in an arena or stadium setting.

Not only does the reunion concert feature Yes' signature lineup, with Rick Wakeman at the keyboards, but it's also a fine show, with classic Yes songs such as “Roundabout,” “And You and I” and “I've Seen All Good People” performed with the vigor and passion the band exhibited in its heyday.

If DVD was a transformative leap over VHS, particularly for widescreen events such as concerts and football games, Blu-ray Disc represents the same jump over DVD, particularly when viewed on a 65-inch Panasonic plasma TV. I've been watching a bunch of my old music DVDs anyway, just because the size of the screen in relation to my family room makes it appear I'm at a show. But this is the first Blu-ray Disc I've watched, and there is a difference. I sat riveted through the whole concert.

And there are two more Eagle Rock releases in the “Live at Montreux” series: Deep Purple in 2006 and Santana in 2004. I was supposed to watch all three for this review, but I never anticipated sitting through the entire Yes show. That should tell you something about the quality of these releases. Thomas K. Arnold

The Top 5: Best Deleted Scenes
Most deleted scenes are rightly cut out of the movie, but some are just so good you wish they made it in. Thanks to DVD, we can enjoy these gems, too. John Latchem

  • 1. Borat (Fox)
    2006. Too bad they didn't use the extended ending — a raunchy parody of the opening title sequence from “Baywatch.”

  • 2. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (New Line)
    1999. Austin shows Felicity a bar and a bookcase. “Something to drink?” The bookcase swings into a bar. “Or something to read?” The original bar becomes a bookcase. Hilarious.

  • 3. Back to the Future (Universal)
    1985. Marty McFly asks Doc Brown how to tell he's fading from existence. The classic response: “Beats the s**t out of me!”

  • 4. Chasing Amy (Miramax/Criterion)
    1997. During a game of darts, Joey Lauren Adams tells Ben Affleck a sad love story that sets the stage for the bittersweet lessons to follow. Honrable mention: a great scene in which Jason Lee discusses befriending a bartender to get free drinks.

  • 5. Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace (Fox)
    1999. We learn podracer Ratts Tyerell has three young children and a sickly wife. In the regular movie, he's the first one who dies. Ouch! Honorable mention: Sand People shooting at the racers, and when they hit one, shooting at the Jawas who scavenge the wreck.

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