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Caesar M. Warrington RSS Feed (Aldan, PA United States)
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Terrorist
Terrorist
by John Updike
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.36
432 used & new from $0.01

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars These Devils Are Trying To Take My God From Me!, August 31, 2006
This review is from: Terrorist (Hardcover)
Meet Ahmad Ashmawy Mulloy, the son of a long-gone Egyptian Arab father, who he's never known, and a feckless Irish-American mother, who styles herself an 'artist' and treats Ahmad more like a roomate than a son. Ahmad lives in a North Jersey city that hasn't known good times in over thirty years. A senior in high school, Ahmad's disgust for his dumbed-down and half naked peers is only exceeded by his contempt for the hypocritical and incompetent teachers. In his mind, it is they who uphold the social and political systems, and thus share responsibilty for the amoral and atheistic society he is forced to live in.

Ahmad's only peaceful haven is a storefront mosque that sits amongst the check-cashing stores, bail-bondsmen and other reminders of our society's societal and economic degradation. Here the imam, the only father figure that this precocious boy has ever known, teaches and guides Ahmad in the ways of God and moral absolutes. Here he receives the discipline and the sense of right from wrong he will never get from his liberal and immature mother. The imam encourages Ahmad's interest in the trucking profession, going so far as to set him up with a job driving for a furniture store owned by a good Muslim Lebanese family. Ahmad is being groomed to be a suicide bomber.

Updike's novel is less about Islamist terrorism than it is about our cultural decline. Almost everyone in this story, with the exception of Ahmad's mother, laments something of our society's circumstances. Ahmad's guidance counselor --and his mother's soon-to-be lover-- Jack Levy, looks back to a time when his profession wasn't necessary, when kids had close families, strong church ties, good friendships. He remembers when there was not only concern but hope in the future. Levy's wife looks at the people she deals with as a librarian. People without respect or consideration, incapable of conducting themselves properly in a library. These "patrons" could care less about the books on the shelves, they come for the DVDs, CDs and free computer usage. I hate to admit it but it is hard to disagree with this book's observations. Especially with those made by young Ahmad. Truthfully, many of his thoughts and opinions are much the same which many of us share. Updike has drawn a very sympathetic figure with this kid. He should be our future, not a pawn to used in our destruction.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 3, 2008 9:39 AM PDT


Sharpe's Waterloo
Sharpe's Waterloo
DVD ~ Sean Bean
5 used & new from $9.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Poorly Done Conclusion to a Great Series, August 31, 2006
This review is from: Sharpe's Waterloo (DVD)
I've much appreciated and enjoyed the BBC's adaptations of Bernard Cornwell's 'Sharpe Saga.' Unfortunately, the last and most important of all from the original cycle, SHARPE'S WATERLOO, is nowhere near the quality of the previous ones. True, Sean Bean does a terrific job as usual. Same thing for Daragh O'Malley as Patrick Harper, who is now a civilian horse-trader. And guest star Paul Bettany is, needless to say, excellent as the pompous but inept Prince of Orange. Most of the rest of the cast, however, seem over-the-top and histrionics abound (yes, even for a Sharpe's tale). Furthermore, the battle scenes are poorly executed, men drop and die before bullets or cannon fire even reach them. In other scenes soldiers are being cut down with swords but there are no blood or slash marks showing anywhere on their uniforms! Worst of all was the way that the fates of Sergeants Dan Hagman and Harris (played by Brit folkie John Tams and Jason Salkey respectively) were treated. In my opinion, these two were some of the most interesting characters in the BBC's SHARPE series and never received the attention they deserved.

If you are unfamiliar with Cornwell's books and only a viewer of these DVD's, SHARPE'S WATERLOO will leave you with much unanswered. For example, is Jane Sharpe pregnant? Will Richard ever get back the money that she took from him? What becomes of he and Lucille? Although some of these questions are answered in the recent BBC production, SHARPE'S CHALLENGE, it will behoove you to start reading the novels.


The Passion of the Christ [Region 2]
The Passion of the Christ [Region 2]
DVD ~ Jim Caviezel
17 used & new from $0.32

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Remains an Icon of Love and Redemption, August 4, 2006
Despite Mel Gibson's recently foolish behavior I still stand by this movie and Mel Gibson as a fan and a Christian.

Over the last few years, what more can be said about this beautiful -and yet so controversial- movie? THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, depicting the final hours of Jesus' earthly life, has become for believers a symbol of adoring love. This deep feeling amongst faithful Christians for the film and its director has also spurred deep resentment, spite and anger in those who never wanted it released in the first place. Throughout the film's production and presentation there were many detractors who hammered away at Gibson and the American Christian public, predicting the most ridiculous scenarios of anti-semiticism, which they believed would be the result of us ignorant gentiles viewing this movie.

Naturally all of this ended up being seen for the irrational fear-mongering that it was. If anything, this movie left Christians and others with more positive attitudes towards the Jewish people.

Understand that for the first time in a big budget film, Mel Gibson, that notorious "Jew Hater," showed us not only an earthy and realistic Jesus - but also a Jesus who was Jewish to the core. Gone were the traditionally depicted blond-haired and blue-eyed Jesus and disciples, and the pseudo-Shakespearean speech of so many Biblical films was replaced with first Century Aramaic. Gibson attempted to present as realistic a depiction of the Man and His times as much as he wanted it deeply spiritual and reverent.

As for concerns about the films "negative depictions," anyone who views this film with an open mind will see that all humanity -ALL!- is depicted so-called negatively. Gibson shows the ugliness of all men made the worst on that fateful day. It is important to understand that Christ suffered, died and was resurrected for those very Jews who mocked and jeered Him and for those Roman soldiers who sadistically brutalized and crucified Him. The point of the Gospels, and thus this film, is that we all carry sin and we all need the redemption which that Jewish carpenter offered up for us on that sad and ugly day.

As a man who carries many sins and transgressions upon my own soul, I was humbled and heartened after watching Gibson's magnificently beautiful movie. I would hope that anyone who has taken up their valuable time to read this far into my review can also understand that the director of this film is only as human and spiritually fragile as all the rest of us. True, Gibson has said and done things that were horribly wrong. But who of us haven't? And as all of us want to be forgiven our own particular trespasses and regrets, then let us also forgive the trespasses and ease the regrets of others.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2008 3:23 PM PDT


Two Brothers (Widescreen Edition)
Two Brothers (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Guy Pearce
Price: $6.59
138 used & new from $0.01

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Bonds and Men's Cages, July 28, 2006
Director Jean-Jacques Annaud knows how to open our hearts.

In 1988 his acclaimed masterpiece, THE BEAR, introduced us to that orphaned cub whose feisty and inquisitive ways quickly won the viewers over. This time, with TWO BROTHERS, it's Annaud's extraordinary tigers that warm our hearts and stir our sympathies.

In the ruins of the jungle-covered temples of 1930s French Indochina two tiger cubs are born, later named by their human masters Kumal and Sangha. Kumal is the fierce one. He is brave, curious and quite protective of the playful but rather timid Sangha.

The world of men brings tragedy to the tiger family. The cubs' father is killed and Kumal, separated from his mother and brother, is captured and eventually sold to a small-time circus. Soon after, Sangha also gets caught by a hunting party. Initially a pet and playmate for the local French administrator's young son, he unfortunately ends up in the menagerie of a native prince where he is 'trained' (in another words, tortured) to become a fighter for sport.

A year later we see that Man's sadism and greed has caused a twisted role reversal on the tigers. The once aggressive Kumal is now a skilled circus attraction, complacent in doing tricks for his masters. Sangha, his timid and loving nature beaten and starved out of him, is now a trained and angry killer. When the prince challenges the circus to have their tiger fight his champion, Kumal and Sangha are reunited as enemies.

As every pet owner will tell you, animals are as much individuals as any human being. Each cat or dog is unique, possessing his or her own personality, character, intelligence. Annaud's magic is in his abilty to capture that special spirit of every animal he films. As with THE BEAR, this gifted filmmaker doesn't merely focus on the animals' physical beauty, he goes deeper, highlighting feelings and emotions. One sees the sense of loss on the face of the exhausted mother tiger when she can no longer keep up with the speed of the car that carries away her remaining cub. Baby Kumal's precocious ferocity shows in his powerful eyes and the snarl of his mouth. Love and anger, joy and remorse show upon the faces and body movements of these tigers. The scene where the old tiger, Mighty Caesar, is being led outside to be put down and looks up at the cub Kumal, who he had taken under his nuturing protection, conveys not only all of his life's sadness and regret, it also tries to offer one last lesson and a hope to this little one who will now be replacing him. Most human actors today could only wish they possessed half of this cat's expressive abilities.

Speaking of human actors, I must mention the great performance that Guy Pearce gives as the English adventurer and hunter, Aidan McRory. His character truly is the one most responsible for the unlucky fate of the tiger cubs. To protect one of his baggage handlers, he shoots the two brothers' father and takes away Kumal. McRory, however, quickly grows fond of little Kumal and his experiences with the cub eventually lead him to abandon sport hunting. Another fantastic actor here is Freddie Highmore, who plays the young French boy who loves Sangha.

TWO BROTHERS, filmed on-location in Cambodia and Thailand, is one entrancing film that will hold your interest and your heart. From the opening scene of the male tiger stalking the jungle's density in search of a mate until the end, when the brother tigers must make their decisions, you will feel a part of this world.

A beautiful and magical movie.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 4, 2010 6:50 PM PST


Solaris
Solaris
DVD ~ George Clooney
Offered by SDE62
Price: $14.94
162 used & new from $0.01

6 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Recommended To Insomniacs, July 24, 2006
This review is from: Solaris (DVD)
SOLARIS will prove itself more effective than most sleep aids - both prescription and over-the-counter. And trust me, you don't need to worry about becoming addicted.

Seriously, I like George Clooney and most of his films, but this movie is simply a dud.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 3, 2008 9:35 AM PDT


The Camp of the Saints
The Camp of the Saints
by Jean Raspail
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.83
37 used & new from $6.75

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Increasing Relevance, July 24, 2006
This review is from: The Camp of the Saints (Paperback)
While it is true that Raspail's tale about a flotilla of thousands of Indian refugees overwhelming France and her neighbors will anger many people of color, it will always enrage more the white left-wingnuts, who refuse to face cold hard facts which challenge their ossified worldview.

CAMP OF THE SAINTS is a more a fable than a true novel. Raspail knew that if the Europe of his time kept to its downhill run of selfishness, cynicism and moral decadence then the scenes he describes can be its only fate. Only Raspail was wrong in the identity of those immigrant hordes. It's not the outcastes of India who are threatening the stability and future course of Western Europe (to the contrary, the overwhelming majority of Hindu immigrants are hard working and law-abiding), nor is it the West Indians or East Asians. Rather it's the Muslims of North Africa and the Middle East, sitting right on the other side of the Mediterranean, steadily pouring into France, Spain, Holland and Italy for the last several decades, who truly are menacing Western Europe and who eventually may come to dominate it.


Iris Blond
Iris Blond
DVD ~ Carlo Verdone
Offered by kylakins
Price: $4.99
11 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A Star Is Born" - Italian Style, July 20, 2006
This review is from: Iris Blond (DVD)
Carlo Verdone's I'M CRAZY ABOUT IRIS BLOND is best described as an hilarious Italian twist on A STAR IS BORN. The movie is one of the better contemporary Italian comedies and the wackiness that dominates the beginning and middle parts of the flick will keep you laughing, before the sad turn it takes towards the end causes you to shake your head with sympathy for everyman Romeo.

Carlo Verdone stars as Romeo, a middle aged musician who's seen better days. This Romeo is as unlucky in love as he is with the music business. After his girlfriend leaves him for his partner and best friend, Romeo seeks the advice of a fortune-teller who informs him that he will find his love and fortune in a woman speaking in verse and named after a flower.

Meeting Marguerite, an aging Belgian chanteuse and devotee of Jacques Brel, the two quickly partner up, both professionally and romantically. Romeo soon grows weary of Marguerite. He can't take anymore of her doting over her toy poodle, her passion for passe existentialist philosophy or, worst of all, her constant rendition of "Ne Me Quitte Pas." One night, while walking the lap mutt, he decides to cheat on the diet Marquerite imposed on him and wanders into some Belgian fast food joint. While eating the place empty Romeo strikes up a conversation with one of the waitresses, Iris (Claudia Gerini), a gorgeous and charming but flighty fellow Italian who is half Romeo's age. Finding that Iris is an aspiring singer and poet fills Romeo with renewed confidence in himself and the old fortune-teller's wisdom. He takes Iris under his protective and artistic wings, training her to sing her poems which he's sets to music. The musical partnership between the provocative Iris and the talented and experienced Romeo grows with mutual enthusiasm. Eventually though Iris is going to have to choose between her growing feelings for Romeo or a chance at stardom.


The Almond: The Sexual Awakening of a Muslim Woman
The Almond: The Sexual Awakening of a Muslim Woman
by Nedjma
Edition: Hardcover
108 used & new from $0.01

18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bitter Almond, July 14, 2006
THE ALMOND has become a phenomenal bestseller in Europe, in France alone it has sold over 50,000 copies. One German critic has hailed the author who uses the pseudonym (for all the obvious reasons) of "Nedjma" as a 'literary guerrilla fighter.' Such was the mania for this book which claims to be a semi-autobiographical account of a young Moroccan woman who leaves behind a loveless arranged marriage for her Aunt Selma's house in Tangiers, where she meets a Europeanized doctor and becomes his lover.

I agree with a previous reviewer, Shapour, when he states that this book would have never received a line of notice if it hadn't been written by an Arab Muslim woman. Despite the critical hoopla from Europe's literary nitwits, this book is simply a catalogue of every kinky sexual activity one could think up. The story alternates, chapter to chapter, from the childhood and youth of her village to her experiences with the sexually psychotic Driss. But, long before Driss ever laid eyes on her, Badra was a sick little pup herself. Her memories of sexual experiences with friends and cousins, dirty old men and her morbid fascination for the village prostitutes are simply --excuse my American queasiness about mixing little kids and sex--disgusting. Regardless of the highly charged subject matter, "Nedjma" has the writing style that reminds one of a shopping list. A dry narrative of the far-fetched sexual encounters of dull people. The sexual awakening of a Muslim woman? Good for her! The rest of us though are falling asleep from her monotonous ramblings about sex and love and more sex. Some, I'm sure, are also throwing up after having read about Driss' grandmother and her young servant girl having sex while he watched. Nedjma/Badra (or whatever your name is) you need to go back to bed. And that means back to sleep, so try keeping your hands to yourself - and off yourself.

This book has received little attention here in the United States. If you haven't read this piece of psycho-porn yet, count yourself lucky and spend your time with something better worth your time. THE ALMOND is a bomb (I still love the book's cover however).


Iran, Past and Present: From Monarchy to Islamic Republic
Iran, Past and Present: From Monarchy to Islamic Republic
by Donald Newton Wilber
Edition: Hardcover
30 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholar And Spy, June 23, 2006
Donald Newton Wilber (d. 1997) was one of the foremost authorities on all things Iranian. His book, THE TIMURID ARCHITECTURE OF IRAN AND TURAN, is considered by many to be the definitive work on the subject. Wilber was also a veteran contract operative for the CIA. "Operation Ajax," the covert Anglo-American project which overthrew democratically-elected Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953, was designed and largely executed by him. Wilber wasn't just another insulated academic who studied Iran history and affairs - Wilber made Iranian history and affairs (although admittedly for the worst).

This 1982 ninth edition (unfortunately out-of-print) was updated to include the fall of the Monarchy and Khomeini's eventual takeover.

If you find it, buy it.


Dogsbody
Dogsbody
by Diana Wynne Jones
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
43 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Star Among Us, June 20, 2006
This review is from: Dogsbody (Mass Market Paperback)
Imagine that the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, and every stellar body in the sky are alive and conscious, possessed by great spirit beings known as "illuminaries." This is the story about one of the greatest of such entities, Sirius - the Dogstar.

Notorious for his fiery temper, Sirius is unjustly found guilty by his celestial peers for the murder of another illuminary. Their sentence upon him is unusual and involves a mission: The murder weapon, the "zoi," has landed on the Earth. Sirius is to locate and retrieve this thing that has the unfathomable power to destroy suns. His judges, however, make sure that it will not be such an easy task. Part of Sirius' sentence is to be born on Earth as one of that sphere's creatures, a dog. Upon his birth he will have the time of a dog's lifespan to locate and retrieve the zoi. Otherwise he will die as a common earth animal and his spirit will cease to exist.

Born into an unwanted litter of white-furred and green-eyed Labrador mixed breeds, he is soon after tossed into the water with the other pups to die. Fortunately he is saved by Kathleen, a lonely Irish Catholic girl who is shunned and mistreated by the English relatives she is forced to stay with while her father does time in prison. Naming him Leo, Kathleen is at the start Sirius' only protector, while he is her only friend. Duffie, her uncle's wife, is a mean-spirited menace for both of them, constantly threatening to have the dog put down and turning Kathleen out into the streets.

Although in the beginning Leo/Sirius is barely aware of his preternatural origins, certain memories and ideas begin to enter and alter his dog mind. After some initial hostility (of course) with Tibbles the housecat and her two sons, the three felines soon befriend the canine and show him ways of getting around --and out of-- the house. In his daily travels away from the house he is soon aided by Sol, the illuminary of our own sun, and the spirits of the Earth and Moon. He also encounters a mysterious pack of sinister dogs looking very much like him. As he remembers more of his former existence and his mission, Sirius becomes conflicted with many complicating factors which stall his goal. He must deal with the biological and instinctual urges of his dog nature. And, most importantly, he is torn by the desire to remain with Kathleen, giving her the love and sense of security she desperately needs.

Immediately after reading C. McCallister's excellent review of DOGSBODY I wanted to get this book. I'm glad to say that I was not disappointed. Diana Wynne Jones has written a charming but bittersweet story that will appeal to both children and adults. Sci-fi, fantasy, even murder mystery fans have reason to read and enjoy this book. The characters --human, animal and celestial-- have a complexity of personality rarely seen in stories such as this.

After reading this book, you will never look at a bright eyed, tongue flapping mutt like you used to do.


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