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Robert Blenheim RSS Feed (Daytona Beach, Florida)
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Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery [Blu-ray]
Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Kyle MacLachlan
Price: $84.96
28 used & new from $77.87

11 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars TERRIBLE design of box ruins this set of great shows!, August 9, 2014
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How does one rate this set? Well, the Blu-rays of this great show itself rates a 4-and-a-half stars out of 5. They are wonderfully transferred for the most part, with beautiful picture, sound -- and great special features. SUPERB, and really appreciated!

BUT... Paramount needs to be called out on what is in fact, the WORST box design (and execution) since the deplorable Ten Commandments 'deluxe' set a few years ago! THIS RATES A ONE-STAR at best! What idiot designed this? An accordion-type of cardboard file glued (supposedly!) into a simple cheap cardboard box. The first copy I received had come unglued in the shipping (even though it was factory sealed). Upon opening it, the 'accordion' plummeted out of the box like a lopsided bean bag. And there were loose cardboard and paper pieces scattered about of which I couldn't make head or tail. (I thought for a second it was a Lynch 'puzzle'!) What I saw horrified me -- especially when I considered the price I paid which wasn't cheap! And even if this set had arrived correctly, the design is quintessentially AWFUL -- you can't even keep it open at a certain disc without holding it open with your hands -- otherwise, it closes!

To make matters worse... not only does the set provide NO details as to what the special features are on any disc (it just says 'Special Features'), there is NO BOOKLET! Even a crappy CD you buy at a thrift store usually has a few pages of a booklet with the songs, pics of the singer, info, SOMETHING! This has NOTHING! NOTHING about this CLASSIC SHOW!!!!

A TOTALLY CHEAPO JOB, and worthy of total distain as a set! It should get the Worst Box Set of the Year for 2014!

(HOWEVER, I love the show, and the quality is superb as to the Blu-rays. And the special features are excellent for the most part.)

The one good thing, twice I returned the set for a refund, and twice Amazon gave me a full refund. KUDOS TO AMAZON! THUMBS DOWN TO PARAMOUNT!


Peckinpah: The Western Films--A Reconsideration
Peckinpah: The Western Films--A Reconsideration
by Paul Seydor
Edition: Hardcover
31 used & new from $12.00

5.0 out of 5 stars The finest book on Peckinpah's Westerns, May 21, 2014
This is not just one of the greatest books of analytical criticism ever written on any director, this also remains the best written film book I’ve ever come across. A labor of love, this is a deep and rich study of the history of Peckinpah’s most famous work, penned in a literate style that seems the very quintessence of mastery of the English language. This “Reconsideration” is Seydor’s 1999 updating of his original 1980 classic that is still the finest study of Peckinpah’s work. If you want to go beyond Peckinpah’s westerns (for deep studies of “Straw Dogs” or “Cross of Iron”, for example), you have to go to Neil Fulwood’s “The Films of Sam Peckinpah” (2002), a runner-up to this but without Seydor’s incredible mastery of composition.


Peckinpah: THE WESTERN FILMS--A RECONSIDERATION (Illini books)
Peckinpah: THE WESTERN FILMS--A RECONSIDERATION (Illini books)
by Paul Seydor
Edition: Paperback
Price: $27.54
35 used & new from $5.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The finest book on Peckinpah's Westerns, May 21, 2014
This is not just one of the greatest books of analytical criticism ever written on any director, this also remains the best written film book I've ever come across. A labor of love, this is a deep and rich study of the history of Peckinpah's most famous work, penned in a literate style that seems the very quintessence of mastery of the English language. This "Reconsideration" is Seydor's 1999 updating of his original 1980 classic that is still the finest study of Peckinpah's work. If you want to go beyond Peckinpah's westerns (for deep studies of "Straw Dogs" or "Cross of Iron", for example), you have to go to Neil Fulwood's "The Films of Sam Peckinpah" (2002), a runner-up to this but without Seydor's incredible mastery of composition.


Essential Music Videos - Classic '80s
Essential Music Videos - Classic '80s
DVD ~ Bananarama
14 used & new from $2.63

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Crummy quality; short disc., May 21, 2014
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I only bought this because of the Lennon video directed by the great Sam Peckinpah. I wasn't prepared, however, for the lousy quality (e.g., a thin white line along the left frame of the picture and quality that looks as if it was dubbed from an old VHS tape).

And why not put the other Lennon video also directed by Peckinpah on the same DVD? (Might as well have both for Peckinpah collectors. After all this DVD could have had twice as many videos anyway.)

Get this at your own risk.


Her (Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack)
Her (Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack)
DVD ~ Joaquin Phoenix
Price: $24.99
31 used & new from $13.55

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spike Jonze gives us a lot more than a romantic comedy!, March 16, 2014
"Her" is a very rich and profound romantic sci-fi comedy about a lonely man whose job is to write love letters for other lonely souls yet finds himself becoming 'involved' with an advanced operating system he's purchased to run his life, and the film somehow manages to be both a warm, touching story that audiences will be drawn into, as well as a probing look at both our socio-political obsession with technology and an accurate analysis of a love relationship in all its stages. What Jonze has done is a sort of miraculous mating of Frank Capra and Franz Kafka sans cynicism.

Far from the stupid film it may sound like, it manages to be a detailed exploration of the human animal going through all the stages of a romantic relationship as well as a social critique of how much electronics have taken over our lives. Written and directed by the inimitably creative Spike Jonze, it is a film you'll be drawn into and think about long afterwards.


Gravity [Blu-ray]
Gravity [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Sandra Bullock
Price: $16.76
33 used & new from $12.26

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Movie Experience That Transcends its Genre, March 16, 2014
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This review is from: Gravity [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
"Gravity" has been accused by some experts at playing loose with scientific possibilities but that smacks of nitpicking since it's such an unforgettable piece of great entertainment (especially in 3-D) that will leave you breathless. In fact it's a tour-de-force for Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron who proved with his 2006 masterpiece "Children of Men" that there are few directors alive who are on his level with commanding and moving the camera in intense action sequences.

Virtually the entire film takes place in earth's orbital space, and it involves only two characters, an experienced astronaut (George Clooney) and a medical engineer (Sandra Bullock) on her first shuttle mission. To say they get into trouble is the understatement of the year. You might think I'm stretching things a bit, but after the final fadeout it leaves no doubt to me that the film is really about something beyond its simple plot. I'm trying not to provide any spoilers, but I'll just say that I find the film actually becomes a socio-political metaphor for the progress of women from the fifties to the present as she fights for her life. This explains some of its sexist dialogue as well as its 'coda'.

The film deservedly won seven Oscars including one for director Cuaron, but it also won an Oscar for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Lubezki had to photograph actors, sometimes spinning on wires, in 'light boxes' on an empty stage surrounded by LED lights mimicking both direct sunlight and reflected light from Earth. It might be that the camera work on "Gravity" was way outside the mainstream of convention, but the effects of Lubezki working with Cuaron were dazzling.

Even if you aren't usually into science-fiction films, this is a must-see for anyone who loves well-made movies.


12 Years a Slave [Blu-ray]
12 Years a Slave [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Chiwetel Ejiofor
Price: $6.96
31 used & new from $4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great film on an important subject, March 16, 2014
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"12 Years a Slave" is the third film by the 43-year-old British director Steve McQueen, whose last film was 2011's controversial "Shame", one of Roger Ebert's (and my own) best films of that year.

This tells a true story of a free New York black man abducted after the Civil War and taken south to be sold into slavery. The man's name was Solomon Northup, and he spent 12 years in horrendous conditions as a slave, and this film was drawn from Northup's own diaries. The film is incredibly unrelenting in its intensity and realism, but don't let the depressing subject keep you away because it's not only a rewarding film experience, it's virtually a must-see. The most acute statement made about "12 Years a Slave" was by a podcast critic who said, "The best thing about this film is its lack of nobility." I agree completely. There is more dignity and respect in this film for not resorting to high-minded moral statements that almost always turn films centered on important subjects like this into banality or sentimentality.

"12 Years a Slave" is an adult film that is above any simplistic message film; it makes the viewer live the experience and come away transformed. Don't miss it.


American Hustle (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet)
American Hustle (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet)
DVD ~ Christian Bale
Price: $6.00
49 used & new from $6.00

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece from David O. Russell, March 16, 2014
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David O. Russell's "American Hustle" tells a mostly fictionalized account ('some of this is true' a title says) of the 1980's 'Abscam' scandal in which an eccentric FBI agent exposed corruption in political figures in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. That just begins to describe this top-notch entertainment with idiosyncratic characters that fascinate as they make you laugh. Virtually everyone is at the peak of their form.

Christian Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld (the fictional version of real-life Melvin Weinberg), a con-artist who is 'drafted' into working with the FBI to expose corruption during the "Abscam" scandals, and he's a joy to watch. Amy Adams is Sydney Prosser, seductive British partner to Bale's Irving Rosenfeld, and it's her best role to date. She's both funny and sexy as she works several different men in the FBI scheme she's been 'drafted' into. Jennifer Lawrence is also one of the pleasures of "American Hustle", garnering some of the film's biggest laughs without ever forsaking the believability of her character.

David O. Russell has had a good record of making extremely enjoyable films, and many of them display a great sense of artistic achievement. He started in the early nineties with some provocative and daring independent films ("Spanking the Monkey" and "Flirting with Disaster", two marvelous black comedies) before making his first masterpiece "Three Kings" in 1999, a darkly comic war film about the first Iraqi conflict, starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg. His subsequent films went from the esoteric and incomprehensible "I Heart Huckabees" to more grounded filmmaking with "The Fighter" and "Silver Linings Playbook", both Oscar winners and both excellent showcases for actors. Some say Russell seems to emulate Martin Scorsese's direction here (especially the early parts of "Goodfellas" sans violence), but is that a bad thing? Russell, even in his less accomplished films, has always had an affinity for directing actors masterfully, but in "American Hustle" he excelled himself in juggling his superb cast in a perfectly integrated ensemble.

This is certainly a film that no film lover should miss.


The Counselor (Unrated Extended Cut) [Blu-ray]
The Counselor (Unrated Extended Cut) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Michael Fassbender
Price: $14.22
31 used & new from $9.87

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually an intense, well-made existential thriller by McCarthy and Scott, March 16, 2014
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I found Ridley Scott's filming of Cormac McCarthy's first original screenplay, "The Counselor", to be a disturbing and deadly-serious morality play about how a bad choice can propel even a fairly good man into a nihilistic nightmare that takes away all he loves in life, leaving him to fester forever in the lowest hell of despair. There are two films I know that have the darkest, most nihilistic endings for a protagonist in the history of film. Fritz Lang's "Scarlet Street" which leaves the main character alive but having lost his very identity; the other is this one.

Ignore the bad reviews. "The Counselor" is a first-class film with extraordinary characters and great filmmaking skill. Michael Fassbender is great as usual as the Counselor whose one mistake destroys his soul. I also really liked Cameron Diaz as the sociopath Malkina in "The Counselor", though the role drew massive amounts of vituperative spleen from most critics.

I liked the cast, the script, and the film, so shoot me.


Inside Llewyn Davis [Blu-ray]
Inside Llewyn Davis [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Oscar Isaac
Price: $9.99
37 used & new from $5.94

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Masterpiece from the Coen Brothers, March 16, 2014
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The Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" follows a week in the life of a frustrated folk singer (partly modeled on the real life Dave Van Ronk) in the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961, when the beat generation is giving way to the hippy movement.

This strikes me as a cinematic masterpiece that walks a thin tightrope between being darkly melancholic, absurdly comic, as well as life affirming, and I found it to be one of the smartest and most profound works of existential art ever produced in any medium. The moral journey of Llewyn Davis (maybe the Coens' greatest character) through what seems to be the worst week of his life serves as a metaphor of the human condition. In fact, his journey is really his 'Odyssey' (to emphasize this, the wonderful cat in the film -- Llewyn's closest relationship -- is named 'Ulysses'). I even think of the myth of Sisyphus (existential? ...think Camus' "Myth of Sisyphus"!) spending his life working repeatedly to push a huge boulder up a steep mountain to have it keep rolling back down again). Like Laurel and Hardy pushing that piano up the countless steps, I see Davis more as someone with whom we can empathize as he continues to crap out; others see him as a slimeball. Take your choice, but I think not to identify with him is to negate the universal meaning of the film.

Appropriately, the film has a muted color palette by the great 56-year-old French cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel (known for his images of 'fantastic realism' for Jean-Pierre Jeunet films like "Amelie" and "A Very Long Engagement"). It provides the perfect melancholic mood for the protagonist's journey and Delbonnel consciously worked to replicate the look and feel of the cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" record album, succeeding to make the film appear "slushy" as a New York City winter.

It has a sense of deep humanity in every performance (especially Oscar Isaac as the serious-minded, existential 'hero' who conveys brilliantly his interaction with the other people around him), a wonderfully evocative song score (most of which is recorded live), and not a single false scene or shot thanks to Joel and Ethan Coen's cinematic mastery. It deservedly won the Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Film Festival, was picked by the National Society of Film Critics as the year's best film, and is easily my choice as the finest film of 2013.

As far as the transfer, the muted and 'slushy' look of the film ironically requires Blu-ray because of its clarity. I find the DVD doesn't do justice to the film even though the transfer is probably perfect. Also, the Blu-ray has a wonderful 42-minute documentary on the film's making (spending most of its time on the music recording), so I'd splurge for the Blu-ray.


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