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James Ferguson RSS Feed (Vilnius, Lithuania)

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Clor Mens Seattle Seahawks Super Athletic Pullover Hoodie - Blue#2 M
Clor Mens Seattle Seahawks Super Athletic Pullover Hoodie - Blue#2 M
Offered by Clor
Price: $64.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Soft and comfy, January 13, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My daughter loves it. I bought it for her so that she could be a 12 as well. Mostly, she likes it becomes it is soft and comfy.

The Penny Dreadfuls: Tales of Horror: Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Penny Dreadfuls: Tales of Horror: Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Thomas Preskett Prest
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.67
50 used & new from $4.45

1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money, September 21, 2015
... and now they have been bound as expensive hardbacks, only this one doesn't offer anything more than you can't find at Project Gutenberg or any other online free book provider. They are just reprints of previous horror novels. There were original Penny Dreadfuls like Varney the Vampire, which are more in the spirit of this pulp magazine.

Penny Dreadful Season 1
Penny Dreadful Season 1
Price: $22.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Deep, Dark, Deathlike Solitude, September 21, 2015
After a sloppy start, Penny Dreadful hits its stride in midseason thanks to a stand out performance by Eva Green. Josh Hartnett as the American gunslinger looks out of place in this dark, ghoul-infested London, designed to evoke the Penny Dreadful serials of the 19th century. With so many beastly murders how else to explain this carnage than an underworld of vampire-like creatures who serve the Devil? John Logan takes his subject a bit too seriously, but the tone and the acting is first rate. Logan pays fine attention to his characters, building them slowly with some story lines left dangling for later seasons. If there is any real fault it is that the demons pretty much remain faceless and we really don't learn what makes them tick, despite Dr. Frankenstein's autopsies.

The first season pretty much focuses on Sir Malcolm Murray and the daughter he lost to the underworld and hopes to regain. He has solicited the help of an odd company of gentlemen and one woman, who steals the show. I couldn't take my eyes off Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, particularly during the seance when she becomes possessed with Sir Malcolm's daughter and subsequently the devil himself. This is pure 19th century Gothic and Eva Green has thrown herself into the role as fully as I have seen anyone do so. Logan infuses the pulp fiction of the time with passages from Byron, Shelly and Keats, largely quoted by the most original monster since Mary Shelly's creation. The film is as much about unrequited romance as it is horror, seamlessly woven together. There is even Dorian Gray. This is what makes the series so unusual. It is clearly aimed at viewers who read. It is very rare you get this on cable television and I am so glad Showtime has chosen to run with the series. Logan has given himself infinite opportunities here.

Price: $2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Demons are in the eyes of the beholder, September 15, 2015
This review is from: Frailty (Amazon Video)
I have to wonder if Amazon's Hand of God might have sprung from this movie, which has pretty much the same scenario, only we get a God-fearing Dad instead of a corrupt judge. Bill Paxton took matters into his own, starring and directing this film from a Brent Hartley script. Paxton more or less pulled it off thanks to the help of Matthew McConaughey as one of his grown-up sons, who narrates this grisly tale of dubious faith that looks like something taken form the Grimm Brothers. In defter hands, the movie might have reached the metaphysical heights it appeared to be reaching for, but it barely transcends camp horror thanks to a clever plot twist in the end.

When Dad Meiks gets his vision from an angel, cleverly projected on a trophy, he involves his sons in a gruesome killing spree to rid the world of demons masquerading as human beings. Paxton doesn't give us too many details as that would have spoiled the ending, which this film depends on. As a result, the viewer is left to guess what is driving Dad, as he seems like a decent enough guy. Is he experiencing some kind of post-tramatic stress from the Vietnam War, as the initial story is set in 1979, or from the loss of his wife, or has he just gone crazy as Fenton tries to explain to his younger brother in hopes that they can both escape their father's clutches. But, young Adam is drawn into his father's vision and stands by him, or so we're told.

Mercifully, Paxton spares us the brutal scenes, although the film still ended up with an R rating. PG-13 would have been enough. More disturbing is how religion drives the father to carry out these horrible acts of violence in front of his children. This kind of fanaticism is what you expect to see in cults, but Dad Meiks is on a one-family mission to rid the world of evil that apparently only he can feel with the touch of his hand. It is a worthy subject to explore, but Paxton relies much too heavily on suspense to carry this film, giving him little room to explore the metaphysical aspects of a demented quest like this. The film also speeds too quickly to an end not to lose the viewer's attention. It is clear that the main goal of this film is to provide a shocking plot twist and make the viewer think it over.for a couple days, like a pastor would a clever sermon.

This film is less about faith, or frailty for that matter, but rather whether we should accept what we see on the surface of persons or what we imagine to be the darker lurking demons beneath. Only the last victim appears to have a dark side. The others look like innocuous persons which Dad Meiks plucked from the phone book, so that we are just as much in doubt of his mission as is Fenton. It is pretty hard to accept your father chopping up persons based on a single touch unless you can experience the same feeling, which apparently young Adam does. Anyway, the film will hold most viewers' attention and give a few something to think about afterward.

Hanna [Blu-ray]
Hanna [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Saoirse Ronan
Price: $9.16
66 used & new from $3.10

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Run Hanna Run, July 29, 2015
This review is from: Hanna [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Joe Wright seems to prefer literary interpretations like Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and Anna Karenina, but I guess he longed to make an action movie, so we get Hanna, a Grimm account of a young assassin raised in the icy hinterland above the Arctic circle. The scenery is compelling but not much more in this film, as it is hard to imagine wispy little Hanna as a stone-cold killer. It would be fine if she caught everyone by surprise, but the surprise was over 30 minutes into the movie when she escapes from the bowels of some top-secret facility buried in the Sahara desert, with an evil Cate Blanchett using a rather goofy trio of hitmen to track Hanna down. No need to wonder how she got there. After that it is more or less a travel log through Morocco and Spain with an all too predictable ending. Along the way Hanna tries to figure out the meaning of her genetic code, which she managed to find before escaping the clutches of Nasty Cate. Hanna also bonds with a precocious teenage girl traveling with her hippy family, who she tags along with for awhile.

You really never figure out what any of this was about. It is just Run Hannah Run all the way to Berlin where she finally reunites with her father only to discover some rather inconvenient truths along the way. Joe makes it interesting for the most part, but it fails to come together as a movie. It was more like an introduction for a new cinematic franchise, although I doubt anyone will pick up on it as it has been done so many times before.

DVD ~ Roy Scheider
Price: $3.74
56 used & new from $1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Shark Hunt, July 17, 2015
This review is from: Jaws (DVD)
I'm surprised Criterion hasn't gotten their hands on this movie and remastered it, as it sure would be nice to see a high quality transfer. Hard to believe that it was 40 years ago that Jaws scared everyone out of the water, but times have changed and recently a group of beach goers rescued a beached Great White on a Cape Cod beach. What would Sheriff Brody have thought of that?

I grew up in Redneck Riviera, near Navarre, Florida, where the second Jaws movie was filmed, as it was cheaper to do so than Martha's Vineyard, where this movie was made. Universal Studios threw a bundle of money behind this movie and were rewarded handsomely. Spielberg had nothing to do with the awful shark movies that followed. Unfortunately, these films inspired shark rodeos all along the panhandle of Florida with just about every trawler hauling in some kind of shark, usually sand sharks, hanging them on racks to be measured and slaughtered. Shark jaws could be found in all the local shops and shark's teeth became popular to wear around the neck. It took years for this mania to die down.

Now, we can look back nostalgically at this film and admire it for what it was -- an escapist summer movie with some great performances, notably by the late great Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider. Richard Dreyfus was the new kid on the block as oceanographer Hooper, who Spielberg decided to save in the movie. Hooper met a pretty gruesome end in Peter Benchley's book. Still, the star of the show was Jaws, a latter-day incarnation of Moby-Dick meant to thrill audiences moreso than make them think.

A Master Builder [Blu-ray]
A Master Builder [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Wallace Shawn
Price: $24.59
35 used & new from $13.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Lost World of Halvard Solness, July 17, 2015
As an architect I had to laugh at this update of Ibsen's 19th century play. The central theme of a master builder who defined his career by church spires now doing houses in a subdivision carved out of his wife's estate in New England simply doesn't work. Nor, does the idea that Halvard can hold Ragnar like an indentured servant. No matter, the play is more about power than architecture, but here too it is very hard to imagine a beady-eyed Wallace Shawn holding so much influence over young women.

The story has been reshaped in a number of ways, and as one reviewer noted, not for the better. Here is Halvard on what appears to be his death bed only to leap up like a spring chicken when Hilda comes into the house. The only way to interpret all this is as a dream that Halvard drifted off into while on meds. Fortunately, Lisa Joyce saved the movie in my opinion. She played her role with such demonic delight that I couldn't take my eyes off her. Halvard tries to rise to the occasion, but he never comes across more than an impish and peevish little man.

Julie Hagerty played her role to dead pan perfection, as you come to realize that Shawn and Gregory cast the play more as a dark comedy than the tragedy it was originally intended as. In Aline we get a revised version of Nora from Doll's House, only there is no chance Aline will escape the hold Halvard has over her. We see a deeply haunted past in her hollow face, frustrated all the more by Halvard's cold indifference toward her. It was bad enough she had endure Kaia all this time and now Hilda arrives as an uninvited guest. But, Hilda reaches out to Aline too in what was the most touching moment of the movie, as Aline reveals finally reveals her deeply hidden pain.

For a production that was presumably 14 years in the making, it could have easily been updated to reflect the contemporary nature of architecture, and still not lose sight of the story. Instead, Shawn and Gregory boiled the play down to its core elements with Old World symbols of architecture in a model of a spire in one corner of the room,and an old wood drafting board and t-square in the center. The only concession to the present was a roll of drawings by Ragnar in a modern blue tube that Halvard was supposed to sign off on to give Ragnar's father one last bit of consolation before his old mentor died.

The film moves toward the same ending as in the original play, so no surprises here. However, the way the final scene is set up reinforces the idea of a dream sequence, not live action. Halvard's last vision of himself is back atop the scaffolding of one of his towers, hanging a wreath from the pinnacle.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Kingsman: The Secret Service
DVD ~ Colin Firth
Price: $6.99
79 used & new from $1.86

3.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, Love, Gotta Save the World, July 16, 2015
This review is from: Kingsman: The Secret Service (DVD)
I went in with pretty low expectations, prepared for an Austin Powers-type movie, and was happy to find something quite different. It's a madcap story with a lot of dash. Colin Firth gives his character all the panache of David Niven's James Bond, but unlike the sloppy Casino Royale of 1967, Matthew Vaughn keeps the story tight, relying on an over-the-top performance by Samuel L. Jackson to cover the rough patches. Taron Egerton gives Eggsy a nice sensitivity throughout the movie, which makes you wonder why Vaughn decided to waste the last scene on the Swedish princess, when Eggsy obviously had Roxie waiting for him, but no matter. It seems that Vaughn got a little carried away there in the end. I'm sure there will be more to come. I hope Roxie puts Eggsy in his place for that glaring faux pas.

Inherent Vice
Inherent Vice
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Stoner movie, July 16, 2015
This review is from: Inherent Vice (Amazon Video)
I suppose a movie like this isn't everyone's bong hit, but I liked Paul Thomas Anderson's stoner movie because it really felt like one. I hadn't read this particular Pynchon novel, but it reminded me a bit of his earlier Vineland. PTA had obviously read Pynchon and tried to capture the free flow narrative of the author, not boiling it down to a simple detective movie. Joaquin Phoenix continues to impress, able to fully immerse himself in his roles. The biggest surprise was Josh Brolin as "Bigfoot." First class performance. Some fun cameos too, like Martin Short as Dr. Rudy Blatnoyd. The gals were rather boring though. I would have liked to see PTA draw a little more out of them. The key to enjoying this movie is to let it drift over you like a plume of sinsemilla smoke, not try to decipher all the characters and figure out who the killers are. Who cares?

Litva: The Rise and Fall of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: A Selection from Vanished Kingdoms (Penguin Tracks)
Litva: The Rise and Fall of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: A Selection from Vanished Kingdoms (Penguin Tracks)
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $2.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The fog of history, July 9, 2015
Too bad I didn't see this kindle selection before writing a review of Vanished Kingdoms, as my biggest gripe was with this chapter. Norman Davies is a well respected historian, but it seemed he relied more on his reputation than scholarship on writing of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. For whatever reason he chose to frame the chapter within the context of Belarus, which didn't even exist at the time. Belarus, like the Ukraine, was divided among noble families, who more or less answered to Patriarchs within the Orthodox Church. There was no federated state like you see today in the Ukraine. These lands were fought over by neighboring rivals, and eventually came to coalesce under the Grand Duchy from the 13th to the 16th century, briefly making it the largest kingdom in Europe. The central authority rested in Trakai (Lithuania), where the main castles of Mindaugas and Vytautas were located, but as their kingdom spread, castles were built in these Slavic lands, notably at Mir and Nargaudukas in modern-day Belarus.

Davies does credit the Lithuanian Dukes for the inception of the Grand Duchy, but in his Slavic-centered mind the heart and soul of the kingdom rests in Belarus. Even the name Lietuva he believes springs from the Litva marshes of Belarus, blithely unaware that most of the place names in this area have Baltic, not Slavic roots. Lithuanian predates the Slavic languages by several centuries. Unfortunately, Davies seems to have worked backward from present-day nation states rather than treating these "vanished kingdoms" within the context of their own time and place.

Belarussians would dearly love to claim Lithuanian history as their own, and have done so under Lukashenko who seems determined to dig beneath the Soviet history that so dominates Belarus. A trip to Minsk is like a trip back into the Soviet Union, as the city was almost completely destroyed in WWII and rebuilt under Stalin. What few fragments of the historic city that remain have become museum pieces, but virtually all their architectural context has been lost.

Sadly, Davies just can't seem to bring himself to give Lithuania its due. For him it is a rump state of the former Polish-Lithuanian Joint Kingdom, with heavy emphasis on Poland. In his epic history of Europe, he took the Polish stance in Vilnius, or Wilno as he preferred to call it, unwilling to even accept its name. Here too we see Lithuania Slavicized for his own convenience, not for that of history.

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