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Macbeth
Macbeth
DVD ~ Jon Finch
Price: $14.94
54 used & new from $7.80

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rule of thumb, November 20, 2013
This review is from: Macbeth (DVD)
Roman Polanski's MACBETH, a movie that really doesn't seem to fit as a great Shakespearean tragedy but rather as a grab for power in a den of criminals. If it hadn't been for the large army & the inclusion of the English as a party of interest you would never know that this involved a king & a kingdom.

The lords are mainly ignorant & subject to their perceived lusts. Macbeth himself appears as a weak fool that latches onto augury as an excuse to perform his evil deeds. Having then done even one his mind breaks as he piles misjudgment on misjudgment on further augury. His wife, again a person of weak character & mental fortitude, basically piles shame on her husband's weakness only to snap suddenly and disappear into madness.

There's no hero here, no divine justice or claim to honor. A bad man seeks & obtains that which he is unfit for. He is brought down by his enemies banding together as one would expect. The language is that of Shakespeare but the characters speaking them do not seem to be. A good king is destroyed by an evil & ambitious man who is destroyed by the good king's people in defense of their homes & selves. Still, there are some great lines such as "by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes." The storyline is Shakespearean but the movie doesn't convey it well.

It is interesting to note that the only characters in this story that get what they want are the witches. They wanted Duncan gone & whiz-bang, he is removed without them lifting a finger. I give it 3.5 Amazon stars for Polanski's direction & the wonderful dark images used throughout. Macbeth is not Hamlet but it is an OK told tale in this case. For those interested in battle scenes the personal combat at the end is striking!


George Washington Slept Here [VHS]
George Washington Slept Here [VHS]
VHS
29 used & new from $4.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars George made a choice here, November 7, 2013
This movie is surely the basis for two other good shows, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House & The Money Pit. More importantly it was produced in 1941 as the war in Europe raged & America faced the choice of joining the Allies or not. Times were tough & the average man knew they weren't getting any easier.

This outrageous comedy of pratfalls & struggle to overcome apparently limitless hurdles was ripe for the times as each housewife hoped for their own home in the country & each man saw his patience stretched to the breaking point. The ending obviously referring to a nation facing a decision as to whether to go to war or not, was not a call to influence war or peace as a decision but rather was a call for Americans including neighbors to stick together regardless of the choice made.

There had not been a time more appropriate for that call since 1929 & these people were familiar with 1929 having lived through those years by banding together as families & as communities. This movie fit its time as well as any before it had & who could guess that a dilapidated old house would spawn 3 fun shows such as I mentioned here earlier. 4 out of 5 Amazon stars for this one.

Off the top of my head I can currently only think of 1 other set of three movies spawned by one great one. That is The Cat & the Canary, The Old Dark House & The Haunting. Come to think of it that one spawned 4 including Haunted Manor. George Washington slept here is worth a watch anytime you need an outrageous source of comedy, numerous great lines & a spirit that doesn't quit. Watch out for rotting wood!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2013 3:06 AM PST


Black Butterflies
Black Butterflies
DVD ~ Carice van Houten
Price: $19.29
12 used & new from $3.35

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Africa, October 24, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Black Butterflies (DVD)
Black Butterflies, a picture of the life of Ingrid Jonker (Carice van Houten) in South Africa during the years of Apartheid is a movie that leaves many impressions. She was a poet & the daughter of a South African MP or representative of an electoral district. Born to privilege, her mother died in an asylum she herself would later be admitted to herself. She showed signs of mental illness all her life & spent many of her days self medicating with sex & alcohol. Yet her talent with words is well documented in her poems.

Being in conflict with her father's political beliefs she suffered an estrangement from him even when in the same room. It is well known that daughters who fail to receive the love they need from living fathers often turn to other men for love & approval. Sex, being the mechanism they try to use to obtain that that they lacked growing up, creating unstable relationships in their adult life too. They become a burden to those around them & not the first person you'd seek as a friend. Her choices as an adult leave a lot to be desired. Even her own daughter who she chose to leave motherless was used more as a crutch than an object of love & responsibility.

She lived a life of mental turmoil in a country of extreme prejudice & hated that inequality. Unable to forget or assuage the pain of her circumstances, that pain grew over the years to choke her. Yet she became the voice of those that were declared less than human by her father's beliefs. A poem of hers was read at the first democratically elected South African Congress. It begins, "The child is not dead"

She took her own life after having withstood all the pain & confusion she could in this life & that will always be controversial in this world. Who is to judge how a person that retains constant contact with mental agony so that it builds in them year by year with little or no relief is to be seen? We call those that overcome such circumstances heroes & hope we are like them. Yet those that see the inequities in this world & summarily reject such things for themselves while seeing them clear enough to describe them in verse, having those things enter their mind through their eyes on a daily basis, what can we say of them. Ingrid was a load to carry if you knew her & quite frankly I'm glad I didn't. I'm no fan of suicide either but I find more sorrow than condemnation in her passing. It is for certain that the people of a South Africa free of Apartheid see her as worthy of praise.

Carice van Houten is excellent in portraying a life made of & lived by confusion. Rutger Hauer as her father & Liam Cunningham as her main love in life are strong in their roles as well. There is little in this movie that is shot as pretty or engaging scenery with the exception of the ocean. It's not intended to be pretty either in appearance or portrayal. Nudity is included but it is tastefully done. I was tempted to turn this off early on while they were displaying Ingrid's choices in life. It was a difficult watch to get through because of my dislike for her personality & life but I was glad I hung in till the end. I give it 4 out of 5 Amazon stars overall. 5 out of 5 for making me think through my reactions to it.

It only rates 5.8 at imdb but I think a lot of people quit on this one & rated it anyway.


Nosferatu the Vampyre
Nosferatu the Vampyre
DVD ~ Klaus Kinski
2 used & new from $39.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Halloween the holiday on a disc, October 7, 2013
This review is from: Nosferatu the Vampyre (DVD)
Nosferatu: The Vampire

I just got Werner Herzog's Nosferatu: The Vampyre (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht). I'm 30 min's in & I can tell you this is a marvelous Dracula movie It is faithful to the source material (except for the closing scene)but with Herzog at the controls & color available (though little used) it is the visual embodiment of the story of Dracula. Herzog is the world's best Documentarian & you wouldn't think that would lead to great fiction. In his case it does. He directed Aguirre: The Wrath of God & Fitzcarraldo along with many others including, Signs of Life. It's images, images, images conceived in such a way as to perfectly portray his subject matter & give rise in his viewer to what is going on in that character mentally & emotionally. No one is his equal at this. Back to the movie which anyone would not believe a man whose fame grew from documentaries would be capable of in a horror story. This is Halloween the holiday in a disc folks.

Finished it & I must say what an achievement. There is not one scene of violence in the whole movie unless you call Jonathan Harker nicking his finger at the dinner table violence. The ending scene strangely does not remotely follow the book & I will dock it a full point. 1/2 for not following the book & 1/2 because to me, the ending scene is the weakest part of the story. Dracula seems to be completely unaware of when crosses (supposed to cause Dracula great pain) are in the scene. Drac carries his coffin through a graveyard of crosses with no reaction then, when he puts his coffin down he turns & sees 2 that are 1/10 the size & cowers. When Drac visits Lucy in her bedroom she is wearing a silver cross (extremely potent) but Drac has no reaction again. I don't understand or forgive that. It is the first mistake of that magnitude I've seen in any of his films.

I can just hear the world's blood & gore horror crowd complaining about this atmospheric & apprehensive Dracula. The opening scene is perhaps the finest in the Horror genre. There is no blood at all to speak of. There is no crescendo after crescendo of horror. What there is is an oppressive & brooding sense of evil that is eminent, which never goes away, but carries throughout the common scenes as well as the uncommon encounters. I loved it. 8.5 out of 10 stars. Did I mention I was PO'ed about the crosses? Except for that though, the scene construction is superbly Herzog. I loved his use of music too.

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My wife came home early to say, "Let's watch Nosferatu with Klaus. I allowed my arm to be twisted. I also came up with another dissatisfaction. It's the character of Van Helsing. I understand they were intent on showing Dracula as a sympathetic character & to have a monomaniacal foe of all that's holy would be counterproductive. The milk-toast they make of him though is just wrong. This one is not the Dr. that rides in as help in a time of trouble. He is rather the epitome of the country Dr. Many have done this story with no Van Helsing at all & I think that would have been better. Keep the character that they used but don't call him Van Helsing. I'll deduct another 1/2 point for that & make it 8 out of 10 stars after a second viewing. As my wife said after seeing it, "Aguirre was 10 out of 10. This one isn't, yet the imagery is as good & the brooding evil never leaves."

Nosferatu: The Vampyre (English version)

On my disc it isn't cut at all. Not even one scene. The English version comes from a dirtier source print. Snow is bad at the beginning & slowly fades for about 20-25 min's then it is gone. I didn't notice a whole lot of camera angle changes but what was evident was an overall use of slightly less light. You can really see that in the backlighting of Count Dracula as he walks down the corridor to Jonathon Harker's room. It is noticeable throughout however. It steals the sheen off of fabrics causing it to appear less contrast was used. The ending doesn't change at all.

My wife pointed out & I agree that Shadow of the Vampire is better done. Max Schreck in that is as eerie & imposing with more latitude given for intensity. Willem Defoe against Klaus Kinski is a "can't lose" match on maniacal expression & I'll see both of these many times over the years. Imagery goes to Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht but consistency of storyline goes to Shadow of the Vampire.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 8, 2013 1:28 PM PDT


The Outer Space Connection
The Outer Space Connection
VHS
6 used & new from $29.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Conjecture based on prognostication, September 19, 2013
I just finished watching The Outer Space Connection. It's a fantastical projection of extrapolations that exceeds anything I've ever watched. The number of what ifs, ifs, could it be possibles, perhaps, it might be, we don't know, Dr. so & so believes & such statements are legion. Yet it appears to pass itself off as a scientifically based show. You'd have to extend a degree of faith exceeding religion to buy into this as a whole & parts are so factually in error it's amazing. Still if you're into sci-fi & not science then this could potentially be your bag of tricks. Just don't question the words you're hearing & everything will be fine. I'm not claiming that the producers or narrator (Rod Serling of The Twight Zone fame) are trying to purposely deceive the viewer. Just that they have assumed an extrapolative prognostication & cast it as science. I have little patience with that. The questions they raise are valid, the answers are far less so. Just in case you're wondering I do believe in life outside of our planet & that we aren't the highest intellect in the universe. That is about all I share with the creators of this show however. Given the factual errors we should ask how many others of those hundred ifs are wrong too. 2.5 out of 5 Amazon Stars.


THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII  (1984 MINI-SERIES) (2 Discs)
THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1984 MINI-SERIES) (2 Discs)
DVD ~ Ned Beatty

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood Epic from TV series, September 18, 2013
I watched The Last Days of Pompeii (TV series 1984) yesterday & what a grand spectacle it is. I hope the wardrobe department got something for this one. They deserved it. The intertwining personal lives created for the show are wonderful except for a couple of incidents that are classic CODE creations. The champion gladiator's character is 180 degrees out. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius scene is perhaps the worst part of the movie & it is still very good but the part about a blind woman walking upstream against a mob desperate to escape an erupting volcano is too much to swallow, even though it is to rescue a baby from the arms of a dying woman. That's just too far-fetched too swallow, too much sugar & ridiculous. It is no coincidence that her love interest is the goody-goody gladiator.

Those three things aside though this a bona-fide Hollywood epic even though it comes off of TV & it deserves to be called such regardless of source. The cast is stellar portraying politics, competing religious ideas, the life of the privileged & the life of the down-trodden. Crime & selfless sacrifice as well as oppression & over weaning ambition all appear in a clear & understandable story form for over 4 hours in this TV series. Ned Beatty, Brian Blessed (what a great actor he is), Ernest Borgnine, Lesley-Anne Down, Olivia Hussey (Romeo & Juliet), Franco Nero, Linda Purl, Anthony Quayle, Lawrence Olivier & a host of great supporting roles by others make this a great viewing. Perhaps there are few surprises in the storyline once you've been introduced to the characters but it matters not at all. There are few even small false steps. I love this one. 4.5 out of 5 Amazon stars.


Twenty-Four Eyes (The Criterion Collection)
Twenty-Four Eyes (The Criterion Collection)
DVD ~ Hideko Takamine
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $20.29
15 used & new from $16.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Against the norm, August 21, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
TWENTY FOUR EYES directed by Keisuke Kinoshita & starring the well known Hideko Takamine of Carmen Comes Home & When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. The story is told through the lives of Oishi played by Takamine, a teacher extraordinarily devoted to the lives of 12 of her students from the 1920's in Japan through post-war Japan & her twelve students. She has a spirit that is quiet, gentle & devoted to life which did not play well through Japan's war with China & WWII. The pace of the movie matches her spirit perfectly as she faces the trials of her students growing up & facing the highly charged conversion of her profession & country to a modern war glorifying country.

The movie was made in 1954 & faced political obstacles as you may well imagine. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs made in 1960 is a really good companion piece to this since both portray a Japanese woman's troubles facing her country's societal pressure in totally different manners. Even though the ending is as you would expect, it is powerful & moving. 4.5 out of 5 stars for this one from Kinoshita.

If you are a fan of the rapid cuts used in movies today you'll never finish this one but if you love deeply detailed storylines & a fully developed character played by a sterling actress this is one for you. Since you may be wondering, I rate When a Woman Ascends the Stairs about .1 higher than Twenty Four Eyes but really there is little to choose from here. WAWATS is a bit faster paced & deals with a darker lifestyle. My personal preferences lean that way.


Twisted Nerve
Twisted Nerve
DVD ~ Hayley Mills
Price: $8.99
4 used & new from $8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And the tide rolls in, August 21, 2013
This review is from: Twisted Nerve (DVD)
The story revolves around a psychotic personality that developed because of a lack of ability to deal with sexual maturity. As is normal, this personality is exceptionally manipulative & willing to play things to the end to get what they want. A great scene showing this is when he "goes to Paris" & shows Hayley's mother the note he's written to gain entrance to the house. They originally refuse him & send him back into the rain so he walks slowly away giving the guilt he knows will bother them time to work all the while appearing to be a gentleman & unwilling to put them out.

This is a good suspense movie even though the director is careful to show the rising tide of evil & doesn't give any misdirection to fool the viewer. We know what is going to happen before it happens & it doesn't really matter. The tide of evil comes on almost like a gentle ocean tide; you're in it before you notice the beach is gone.

The term special needs, doesn't really play out here, as it didn't exist at that time. Special Ed. perhaps but this doesn't involve education. It is as the book title in the movie said, 'Psychopathia Sexualis' which doesn't necessarily require what we term today special needs as a spawning ground. It's the inability to deal with sexual maturation that drives this movie. Other movies that deal with this subject are Black Swan of 2010 & perhaps the best known, Repulsion by Roman Polanski (1965) from the UK also. Twisted Nerve is about the male end of the story while the other two deal with this psychosis & dual personality on the female end. Strangely or perhaps obviously the two female centered movies deal with the opposite ends of one mental health strata that being the "does harm to others" end the other is "does harm to self". Repulsion deals with "does harm to others" while Black Swan deals with "does harm to self".

Hywel Bennett is very good here as the troubled soul & Hayley Mills comes across as a full blown young adult (with boobs). I'm going to have to check on Hywel Bennett at imdb as I'm totally unaware of him. While no role here is complicated except for Bennett's they are all competently portrayed. Heck I like this movie better as I type. It's not an Oscar contender but it is a couple of steps above the norm. I'll say, "An enjoyable ride."


The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder,Madness and the Oxford English Dictionary
The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder,Madness and the Oxford English Dictionary
by Simon Winchester
Edition: Paperback
119 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life: Profit or Loss?, March 18, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
THE SURGEON of CROWTHORNE

It's the story of the relationship between the Scottish man that headed the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary & the man that contributed the most as a volunteer layman to it's creation. The head of the project started life as a commoner & the layman was from a dynastic American family. The layman became a surgeon & served during the Revolutionary War. These opposites ring their lives & yet they spent 20 years working together on the OED (which took 70 years to finish) but never met until about 10 years into their collaboration on the project despite the fact they were but few miles apart. The Scot holds the place of one of the finest scholars that ever lived & the American descended into madness & killed an innocent Englishman in England due to his insanity. The American then spent all but the final 10 years of his life in a sanatorium, quite literally insane until his death in 1920 & the Scot did not know that his number one amateur contributor was in an asylum until ten years of collaboration had past. This, despite the fact they lived less than 45 miles apart.

The book is a contrast of their lives & a telling of their collaboration done in such a way as to be hypnotic. It also covers the difficulties of creating dictionaries but that is a side story. The contrast, comparison, confluence & inverted results of these two lives from their beginnings to their ends is told in a style that I can only compare to Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story. It is also a grander use of the English language than Paul used in my mind. I simply can't read it fast because I don't want to. I read a few pages, think about what's in them & then read a few more. I can't recommend it highly enough to those that like History & researched personal stories about those that lived through them. Two great & fascinating characters who you would never expect to meet each other, let alone becoming the cornerstones of a great undertaking that didn't end for seventy years. It's a good primer on those times too & certainly not an extremely long read.

The ending of the story is a paean to sadness, tragedy & loss amidst the creation & fulfillment of a great project that is today the foundation of communication of thoughts, ideas & understanding in the English language. The Author's Note at the end of the tale is not to be missed due to the accurate description of this tale & the impact on those involved. A story of powerful achievement that is yet overpowered by its description of an all too human series of events that has as it's single redeeming feature its facilitation of understanding between humanity.


The Phantom Carriage (Criterion Collection)
The Phantom Carriage (Criterion Collection)
DVD ~ Victor Sjöstrom
Offered by westcoastmedia
Price: $19.69
15 used & new from $15.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectre of Despair, January 2, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE (1921) This is a dark morality play that can't
help but bring thoughts of A Christmas CAROL to mind yet there is no
happy ending. Directed & lead acted by Victor Sjostrom the man that
inspired Ingmar Bergman to become a director it is a Swedish folktale
as were many Swedish movies of the time. It revolves around the story
of a relationship between a Salvation Army Worker (female) & her
attempt to help an alcoholic bum who only has negative affects on the
lives of those around him. It's a truly dark movie in all aspects with
hard lessons for everyone. Intentions are definitely shown here but the
story is about actual effects.

The FX of the carriage itself are startling & better than you'd believe
for such an early movie. My copy was a Criterion Edition & I can only
recommend that restoration as I've seen no other. This is a 10/10 for
me. It is available in Criterion Blu-Ray also & is 107 mins long, which
is the full original Swedish version. English subtitles are included.
One both my wife & I are happy to own.


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