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Ladd Wendelin "" RSS Feed (in NE USA)

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Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman: The Long Halloween
by Jeph Loeb
Edition: Paperback
52 used & new from $7.91

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long Halloween a real treat, October 15, 2005
Having been thoroughly disappointed by Miller's Dark Knight Strikes Again, I was more than eager to appease my appreciation for Batman with this title, "The Long Halloween." Unlike Strikes Again, I was not disappointed in the least. The Long Halloween builds upon the world of Miller's Year One, with Gordon a captain in the Gotham Police force, Harvey Dent a struggling D.A., and Bruce Wayne a posh, young millionaire.

Yet when the waring crime families of Gotham come to a head, and one by one, members of their own families are being picked off, who is to blame? And why does this malicious serial killer only strike on holidays, earning the apt nickname "Holiday"? The reward of Long Holiday is the payoff. Loeb, with Miller's blessing, has a created a rich crime-ridden, noir style mystery masterwork within the context of Batman's early years, and Sale's artwork richly depicts the terrors of the Gotham underworld, from the halls of Arkham, to the tops of immense skyscrapers, nothing escapes his pen. His line is communicated vividly, in every rippled Batsy bicep.

Long Halloween is an outstanding audition to the Batman catalogue. It combines the best of the Batman villans, the best of artwork, and the fine tuned storytelling of Loeb in one stunning piece of work.

Turtles Can Fly
Turtles Can Fly
DVD ~ Soran Ebrahim
Offered by cds_dvds_guaranteed
Price: $42.06
49 used & new from $0.01

17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Turtles Can Fly an extraordinary film, if only..., October 10, 2005
This review is from: Turtles Can Fly (DVD)
Turtles Can Fly is a film that could be described in a number of ways; extraorindary, insightful, a truly remarkable film. And it really is. I don't think I've ever seen a film with so much clarity of depth into the lives of Kurdish refugees, nestled in the hills outside Baghdad weeks before the war and leading up to it. The story of these orphaned children's lives as they risk life and limb to collect landmines in trade for weapons, and a satellite system for village elders, eager to hear of news of the oncoming war.

Unfortunately, my appreciation of the film is somewhat diminished. Yes, it's an amazing film. I'm not denying that. But my reaction to the film was of utter hopelessness and misery. This film made me feel miserable, not just for Satellite, Agrin, and the other characters. My response to it was misery. Watching Agrin attempt numerous times to kill herself or the young, orphaned child she entrusted to her care filled me with the same kind of feeling seeing Lord of the Flies for the first time did. I kept asking myself, where are the parents? The answer is all to obvious, and yet, the apocaplyptic atmosphere this movie imparts is unshakable. It's a very affecting film. It gets to you. I'd lavish Turtles Can Fly with more praise, but inwardly, it made me feel absolutely miserable. It's a drama in the most human sense, brutal, and honest.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 8, 2012 9:49 PM PST

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
by Frank Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.25
99 used & new from $9.76

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as DK Returns, September 26, 2005
I read Batman: Year One, and then followed-up with The Dark Knight Returns. Both of these comics were wonderful, engrossing; a complete revisioning of the Batman mythos, and it works, not matter how familiar or not you are with DC. I was very anxious to read the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, but I was mostly disappointed by the time I had finished it.

Granted I am not a hardcore DC fan. I love Batman, but the rest of the characters I don't find have as colorful or imaginative as Marvel (Spider-man). Mostly, I was disappointed in the artwork of DK2. It didn't have the depth, detail, nor involvment in the space of the page as Dark Knight Returns. In fact, most of the characters looked gawkish, out of proportion, and bizarre (the mutant orphans, Dick Grayson as the Joker, Luther, just to name a few). It wasn't the quality of artwork that Year One or Returns had been, it just looked gawkish (seriously, I can't think of a better word for it), pretty unappealing to me anyway. Diehard fans of course might have found other ways to appreciate this sequel, but for a passing fan looking for a killer sequel, Strikes Again is not it. I was disappointed.

I enjoyed the characters (Batsy, Carrie as Catgirl, and the other JSA members), and I enjoyed the story to an extent. I also enjoyed how Miller percieves public perception and the mass media, which in his previous Bat-outings has become something of a character unto itself. But the promise of an all-out, duel to the death war that Returns promised at its conclusion does not seem present in its sequel. The continuity of design and a commitment to Miller's original vision of Batman in Year One and Returns just isn't there. Strikes again is a fitting sequel, but its execution on page is haphazard, gawkishly, even freakishly designed, and not as half as engrossing and involved, nor detailed, as Dark Knight Returns.

No Title Available

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Life Aquatic a richer, more mature Anderson, December 28, 2004
Go ahead. It's okay to associate phrases like "original," "one of a kind," and "a unique, fresh, and young cinematic voice" with director Wes Anderson. With each foray into movie-dom, Anderson proves himself again and again a master of composition and narrative, garnering praise and admiration from the devote to critics everywhere.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is different from Anderson's other films in how it conveys a sense of liveliness and energy regarding its diverse and quirky cast of sea worthy "strays", particularly the titular centerpiece, Steve Zissou, smoothly played by the unfailing, humourously consistent Bill Murray, lodged once again in another Anderson penned role made to fit.

The story begins with Capt. Zissou finding himself on the verge of personal dissolution and bereavement, his long time friend and crewmate lost to the jaws of the mythical jaguar shark, and the film which documents this tradgedy facing critical failure at a ritzy Italian film festival. Determined to reclaim his lost aspirations, and having finally met Ned (Owen Wilson) who may or may not be Steve's long lost son, the ragtag crew of the Belafonte strike out to find the jaguar shark, helmed by the resiliant Zissou, who hopes to find the shark and destroy it.

Throw in the characteristic trademarks of any Anderson film: the love triangle, between Steve, Ned, and a beautiful Brit journalist (Cate Blanchet), the feuds, the all-too perfectly framed shots, the too-cool, whimsical dialogue, a wonderfully composed soundtrack (Seu Jorge's fantastic acoustic Bowie covers & the remarkable compositions of Mark Mothersbaugh), and a beautiful ending amounts to a film that beams with assurance in life and its subtle eccentricities and larger-than-life adventures. Where the land meets the sea, Steve Zissou learns to recapture the energy and meaning he once knew in life, surrounded not by just a crew, but by friends and most importantly family. The Life Aquatic exposes the oft taken for granted delicacy with the relationships and the fragile balance between an old man and the teeming life of the sea.

The Life Aquatic, as with Anderson's past releases, is like nothing else out there, and is a fine fourth outing for a film maker whose promise and potential sweetens with each film.

Fly Or Die [Explicit]
Fly Or Die [Explicit]
Offered by MEGA Media
Price: $8.53
200 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fly or Die flies, but where to?, March 25, 2004
This review is from: Fly Or Die [Explicit] (Audio CD)
In Search Of...N.E.R.D's 2002 realease was like finding a diamond in the rough; it was smooth, catchy, rock/hip-hop experimental, a tight little package, and it worked. In any case, you immediately found something you loved about it. For me, it was "Rock Star" and "Bobby James" that sealed the deal. They rock as well as mellow, and leave the album in its last few seconds with that spark of promise, that there are better things to come from Williams and Hugo. The facts, however, stand: the Neptunes are brilliant, musically speaking. They're educated, they know their roots and what music inspires them. They pick and choose and come up with a sound that's fresh, original, inspired, infectious, and at worst, borrowed. The question remains, what kind of roost was N.E.R.D. perched in when they asked themselves "Fly or Die"? Which direction should they go? Jazz? Rock? Hip-Hop? Tough call, and even after repeated listenings, I'm still uncertain. Regardless, there are as many moments of sheer brilliance on this album ("Don't Worry About It", "Maybe", "Chariot of Fire" and one or two other tracks.) as there are tracks of utter mediocrity ("Fly or Die", "Jump" features those dopey twin brothers of Good Charlotte (ug), "The Way She Dances".). The balance between the two is unsettling, as if N.E.R.D. wants to tell their listening audience, "Where to? We fly just about anywhere!" Why the hell don't they just stay the course? N.E.R.D. is going a couple hundred different musical and rythmic directions on Fly or Die, at times you'd wish they just stick to one or two. Pretentious? Just out to prove themselves? Maybe they already have. Music of such high profile as N.E.R.D./Neptunes did our ears justice the first time out with In Search Of... With Fly or Die, N.E.R.D. flaps its mighty wings, but can't get much higher than the treetops, far below the musical atmospheres they aspire to reach. Personally, for N.E.R.D., I truly do hope there are better things to come. At this stage, its easy to dismiss the crappy stuff now, but later, here's hoping they find the right pair of wings to fly with.

Dogtown and Z-Boys (Special Edition)
Dogtown and Z-Boys (Special Edition)
DVD ~ Tony Alva
Offered by Media Favorites
Price: $6.19
70 used & new from $0.01

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Dogtown and Z-Boys" fresh, unique, and infectious, July 2, 2003
Almost 30 years before the world had heard of Tony Hawk, three-sixties, or even Jackass, there was a place called Dogtown, a singed wasteland of ruin in Venice, California where a then overlooked group of rebellious youthful outsiders shared one passion...Skateboarding.
Spearheaded by the unbelievable skating prowess of Tony Alva, Jay Adams, and Stacy Peralta (who also serves as director here), the Zephyr Team would go on to revolutionize the world of skateboarding in only a few short years, and bring what was once a passing trend into a national, and inevitably commercialized obsession.
"Dogtown and Z-Boys" passionately chronicles the skyrocket rise and subsequent fame of the Zephyr Team, particularly Alva and Adams with remarkable freshness and purpose. Rare and raw footage and pictures of the infamous Z-Boys blazing the asphalt and riding the dry-bone swimming pools of the early 70's is art in itself creating gripping visual moments set against a
soundtrack courtesey of Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Blue Oyster Cult, and Led Zeppelin, just to name a few. In any case, it's hardcore...a hardcore documentary experience that effortlessly recaptures a fleeting moment in history that will never be repeated, when a group of no-account skateboard outlaws rewrote the rules of the game and changed the way the skateboard was ridden forever.
Clever, engaging, and purposeful in its storytelling, "Dogtown and Z-Boys" is a fascinating documentary, and certainly worth checking out.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2013 5:44 AM PST

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "RELOADED" philosophcally intense, pure sci-fi action bliss, May 22, 2003
For what it's worth, it's hard to be truly and utterly disappointed by the long awaited, heavily anticipated, and much hyped next chapter in the MATRIX trilogy. However, upon viewing it the first time around, it's hard to even know what to think about RELOADED at all...But let's give it a go...
First, I'd personally like to defend RELOADED's credibility. Upon its release, critics hammered and backlashed the film for being "too much", loose and unexplained plot lines are scattered about, philosophical quips seem to be going somewhere yet nowhere at once, as if the cybernetic wonderland of the Matrix suddenly became wonderless and more worrisome. The magic of discovery and awe onscreen is bereft making the Matrix saga the sad cliche and sappy predecesor of the original film.
Maybe...But be you a Matrix fanatic, or a casual filmgoer, there's some important things to understand here...
The narative thread that seems to be lacking in the second film was established in the first film. While RELOADED struggles in standing as autonomous film, remember, all the important characters, the settings, and motivations of these characters were established in the first film. To disregard them in anyway does RELOADED a trite injustice. Keep in mind, it's a trilogy also.
Just as Morpheus warned Neo in the first film, taking the blue pill will "show you how deep the rabbit hole goes." The Wachowskis are doing just that. As was foreshadowed in the first film, the world of the Matrix is much more vast and colorful than what was shown in the first film. Finally, we see Zion, more gradiose cityscapes, and the very guts of the Matrix itself. A simple explanation is not enough for the Wachowskis, and the instruction manual for understanding the Matrix is almost presented verbatim in onscreen dialogue. To quote Neo, "Whoa". You may share simliar sentiments. Within the dialogue, the dusty corners of the Matrix are finally being swept out and revealed. For this reason, RELOADED is certainly worth a repeated viewing. Like you understood the MATRIX the first time you saw it, right? I didn't.
If film truly is a visual artform, the Wachowskis are uncompromising in giving their audience an eye treat. The action sequences are hard to top, though the computer imagery, at times, is blatantly obvious. This aside, it's easy to see why the Matrix is the greatest film phenomenom since the original Star Wars. Ingrained in its powerful images is the subtext of the Wachowskis' philosophical goldmine. What is choice? Free will? Where is truth in a shifting reality?
Past all the glitz and blitz of the Matrix, The Matrix is a classroom, your patience and attention is required if you want to graduate. The Wachowskis do not simply want to entertain, but to engage your mind in some serious philosophical thought. Are you blue on this one?

And so, nearly four years after the original MATRIX film, we're invited to jack back in for RELOADED. This summer, brush up on your MATRIX before the conclusion of the trilogy in REVOLUTIONS. (By the looks of the preview tacked on at the end of the credits, it looks hot.) It's worth it, and a second viewing is a must for the intellectually bold.

DVD ~ James Spader
Price: $13.50
53 used & new from $0.01

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gyllenhaal stunning in racy "Secretary", April 20, 2003
This review is from: Secretary (DVD)
Granted that SECRETARY is indeed "original", since it captured the "Originality award at Sundance 2002, Steven Shainberg presents a most unconventional love story, if it can even be termed 'love'...Well, I suppose so.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, the female counterpart of the dynamic bro/sister acting powerhouse that is Jake and Maggie, stars in her first truly breakthrough role as the emotionally withered waif Lee who works her way from the bottom up at a seedy law office run by vulture-like Edward (James Spader). Things look innocent at first, then the sensuous romp really begins, when Ed forces Lee to deliver papers on all fours, play "horsey", and don various S&M devices. Sexual pleasure, or merely a kindered spirit? Just another working girl? Maybe. Eventually, Lee is torn between obssession and mediocrity in her would-be fiance, played by Jeremy Davies.
While "Secretary" is no lightweight, it may present some viewers with issues of moral contridiction. What is true love? Is it always the most pure and innocent of heart, or the one who will best foster our needs, be they inane fetishes or no? Perhaps Shainberg is too hellbent on creating psychological depth in character, or in the case of Ed, not enough of it. I would love to give into the conclusion that Ed and Lee live happily ever after. But while Shainberg molds his characters convincingly, he forgets a helping of heart and compassion, which seems stiffled and repressed.
What's wrong with innocence and love? Nothing apparently, but I guess bizarre fetish and sado-masochism goes a lot farther. Atleast that will keep your peepers on the screen for the hour and a half that is "Secretary". Kitchy, nostalgic colors and tones in the production values, and Gyllenhaal's powerhouse pormance compensate for a lack of charm just barely.

No Title Available

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "ADAPTATION" a simply beautiful film, January 15, 2003
Imagine yourself a timid, insecure, overly self-consciencious Hollywood screenwriter in his mid-40s. Having just penned and had produced your first breakthrough script, you are handed your next assignment; to adapt Susan Orlean's "The Orchid Theif", a New York Times bestseller about a hick farmer who has devoted his passions toward the obsessive pursuit of the ghost orchid, as well as raising and illegally smuggling various species of orchids from the state swamps of southern Florida. Add to the picture your ambitious and outgoing twin brother, who also aspires to be a screenwriter. Unlike you, he is compelled to write the ultimate witlessly action-driven screenplay, and he is trumping and triumphing over your already advanced screenwriting skills all because you simply cannot bring yourself to adapt "The Orchid Theif". A fierce and antagonizing writer's block has settled over you as you feverishly attempt, in any literary direction you can, to adapt a novel you simply cannot adapt.
Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman (who is, for the most part, the individual the movie is based upon) have created a brilliant piece of film that bespeaks of the art of creation and adaptation, both in the written word and in nature. From the frankly bizarre cinematic concoction that was the irreverant and brilliant "Being John Malkovich", Jonze and Kaufman, along with bravura performances by Nicolas Cage (as Charlie Kaufman and his twin brother, Donald Kaufman), Chris Cooper, and Meryl Streep are centerstage.
As an audience, we are engaged ourselves in a film which questions how far we go to adapt to informalities or structure in art, whilst listening to the off-key tunes of our own desires. Fiction becomes stranger than life, and you soon discover that you have written your own character into the screenplay, and where it goes from there....? Careening headlong down a dark and tragic spiral into choas.

To call this film "ooky", or "wierd", or "off-beat" does it a severe injustice. Complex in its plot, subtext, and inner composition, Jonze and Kaufman have created a simply beautiful film.

Lost in Space
Lost in Space
Price: $10.08
161 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "LOST IN SPACE" a melodious, introspective wonder album, December 7, 2002
This review is from: Lost in Space (Audio CD)
It is so exasperating to see music critics berate Aimme Mann. How could they? It's what they do. After Rolling Stone listed Mann and "Lost in Space" at #5 in their brief 10 Biggest Disappoinments in their Best of 2002 issue, I must rise to the defense of Aimee Mann, for not only creating a soulful and endearing album, but one of suprising depth and quality, both musically and lyrically.
While critics hazed "Lose in Space" with mixed reviews, branding it a "snoozefest from an otherwise consistent pop voice", there was little mention of her versitility as an artist. In "Lost in Space, Aimee Mann once again weaves her threads of love, loss, and other attitudes stemming from love into each song with remarkable craftsmanship. Her songs and musical prowess she so strongly exhibited on the "Magnolia" soundtrack are further explored with "Lost in Space", in tracks "Humpty Dumpty", "This Is How It Goes", "Invisible Ink", and others. Her message is clear; no matter what ills we face in life and relationships, we do not have to sacrifice our self-worth, integrity, or individuality.
Aimee Mann is a rare songstress who communicates the truth in life through her music. Lyrical intent and ambiguity is smeared across the musical scene today. Mann presents herself as she is. No frills, no New York punk scene attitude, no lazy fashion statement. Aimee Mann stands for nothing but herself and her music. In short, "Lost in Space" is a record which, even after repeated listenings, is a haunting, and introspective record, true to Mann's traditional themes and intents in songwriting.

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