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William Sommerwerck "grizzled geezer" RSS Feed (Renton, WA USA)
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Birdman [Blu-ray]
Birdman [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Michael Keaton
Price: $17.99
40 used & new from $12.74

3.0 out of 5 stars a technically "great" film that ultimately has nothing new to say, May 22, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Birdman [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
It's tempting to say this film is all style and no substance, but that wouldn't be true. It has substance, but that substance has been explored before, and the film finds nothing original to say about it.

Riggan Thomson is an actor whose career was all-but destroyed by three wildly successful Birdman films. He refused to star in "Birdman 4", and spent 20 years doing who-knows-what.

As any typecast actor (Reeves/Reeve instantly come to mind), he's looking for validation as a serious actor (and to a lesser extent, a human being). But almost everyone thinks of him as Birdman -- as he does himself. The character often talks to him, advising him what to do and delivering rah-rah pep talks. (Riggan is aware of this sort of thing as normal fantasizing; it's not presented as psychotic.) Riggan also imagines himself levitating and even flying, and having telekinetic powers. (The metaphors are obvious -- rising above the world and its problems, and "controlling" the world directly, without anyone being able to stop you.)

As a satire of actors and show business, “Birdman” is pretty good. They’re imperfect and complex (as they should be in a good story), alternating between intelligent insight and self-absorption. The vicious theater critic is the worst of the lot, warning Riggan she’s going to destroy his play * -- then lavishly praising it as a breakthrough when Riggan (deliberately) injures himself with live ammunition.

As a piece of filmmaking, "Birdman" is spectacular, almost as startling as "Citizen Kane" was in its day. ** The seamless flow from scene to scene *** isn’t distracting or pretentious. And rather than making the film appear more realistic, it invokes a dream-like aura.

The acting, direction, and production are beyond criticism, and "Birdman" is stylistically unconventional (but not in a way that will alienate most viewers). So why have I given it only three stars (“It’s okay”)? It’s not only that it doesn’t explore anything really new, but it has a lame, lazy ending most viewers will see coming a mile off. Filmmakers are supposed to know what their stories are “about”, so when a film ends in a trivially ironic way that has no meaningful dramatic (let alone logical) connection with what preceded it, loss of respect is almost automatic.

PS: "Birdman" is billed as a black comedy. That brings it into direct competition with "Amadeus", "Network", and "Sunset Blvd.", all classic films and all best-picture nominees. It doesn't come within spitting distance of any of them.

I recommend renting before buying.

* I haven’t figured out the thematic connection of the play (based on Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” with the rest of the film.

** I'm inclined to think "Birdman"'s generally enthusiastic reception was partly due to reviewers not wanting to dump on The Next Great Masterpiece.

*** Those who think this is new obviously haven’t seen “Rope”.


Resume Battery 80 mAh for IBM ThinkPad 760C, 760CD,IBM ThinkPad 760E, 760ED, 760EL, 760ELD,IBM ThinkPad 760L, 760LD,IBM ThinkPad 760X, 760XD, 760XL,IBM ThinkPad 765D, 765L
Resume Battery 80 mAh for IBM ThinkPad 760C, 760CD,IBM ThinkPad 760E, 760ED, 760EL, 760ELD,IBM ThinkPad 760L, 760LD,IBM ThinkPad 760X, 760XD, 760XL,IBM ThinkPad 765D, 765L
Offered by Celltime Inc.
Price: $25.99

4.0 out of 5 stars It seems to work, but..., May 17, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I ordered this item a month ago from the same company, and the price was $14 -- not $26. (Both prices included postage.)

It fit properly, and appears to be working correctly. (It's involved with the computer's "resume" function, though I don't understand how this works.) If your computer is acting crazy, I'd recommend replacing the CMOS backup cell first, to see if it's all that's needed, before buying this expensive battery.


Hipower 65W AC Power Adapter Charger For IBM Lenovo Thinkpad 760, 760X, 760XC, 760C, 760CD, 760E, 760ED, 760EL, 760ELD, 760L, 760LD, 760XD, 760XL, 765, 765D, 765L, Type 9546, 9547 Laptop Notebook Computers
Hipower 65W AC Power Adapter Charger For IBM Lenovo Thinkpad 760, 760X, 760XC, 760C, 760CD, 760E, 760ED, 760EL, 760ELD, 760L, 760LD, 760XD, 760XL, 765, 765D, 765L, Type 9546, 9547 Laptop Notebook Computers
Offered by LaptopPartsZone
Price: $17.97

5.0 out of 5 stars It's a keeper, May 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It just arrived, and I'm more than pleased. It has the correct plug (as shown), unlike other 765D supplies whose photos show a barrel connector, coyly hiding in the coiled cord. * It's a switching supply that operates on any AC from 90V up, and runs a lot cooler than IBM's original.

* This might be a seller error, but it is not prepossessing. Hipower shows closeups of the connectors, which puts one's mind at ease.


Island of Terror [Blu-ray]
Island of Terror [Blu-ray]
Price: $42.99
11 used & new from $23.05

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Blu-ray? Of this tripe?, May 10, 2015
The British film industry used to have a knack for making decent cheap genre films, especially SF and horror. Unfortunately, this isn't one of them. It's awful.

Anyone who's seen "Fiend without a Face" -- a true horror classic -- will immediately recognize the thematic and structural similarities -- no, make that identities -- between the films. A scientist accidentally creates a monster that breaks loose and starts killing people -- in one case by eating their brains, in the other by dissolving their bones. The climaxes are the same, with people in a house waiting for the monsters to break in. It's impossible to believe "Island of Terror" wasn't at least unconsciously influenced by "Fiend without a Face".

Let's be honest... The crawling brains in "Fiend" are infinitely more frightening than the "turtles with tentacles" in "Island".

The dialog never rises above stilted exposition, and the "science" is even worse. (Strontium is taken up by the bones over a period of time -- not in just a few minutes.) The characters are so stupid they don't see the monsters a few feet away. And when a monster drops from the ceiling or a tree onto a victim (it's never explained how they climb trees or walls), the struggle with the creature is only slightly less ludicrous than Bela Lugosi fighting a rubber octopus.

It's not even stupid in a "fun" way. It's just plain stupid, the product of writers who have no idea how to create an original, clever story.


Set of 5 - Plastic Squeeze Coin Wallet, Change Pouch, Money Holder Purse with Keychain Ring, Made in USA
Set of 5 - Plastic Squeeze Coin Wallet, Change Pouch, Money Holder Purse with Keychain Ring, Made in USA
Offered by Utensil Pro
Price: $11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the greatest "utilitarian" products of all time, April 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It is to loose change what the wheel is to moving things around.

I've been using QuiKoin coin holders for decades. Other than those leather purses with self-sealing flaps, what else is there? Who wants to rummage through a pocket of change, while the people behind you make threatening glances? (The QuiKoin is basically a male product, as women continue to insist on storing their change within a large wallet, which they open only at the last moment, provoking glares from the men in line.)

"Once upon a time", QuiKoin holders were affixed to a piece of cardboard, and cost 50 cents at K-Mart. The last two I bought were found in a dollar store, leftover promotional samples. Now you're lucky to find one for less than $3. These are $2.40 each, and I had free shipping.

The only thing "wrong" with the QuiKoin is that the vinyl is full of plasticizers to keep it flexible. After a few years, the plasticizers go bye-bye, and the QuiKoin becomes a stiff little rock even the Hulk would have trouble opening. So buying a few at time at a good price makes sense. Seal the unused ones in an air-tight bag and put it in the freezer. This seems to halt plasticizer migration.

By the way, these are real QuiKoin holders. (Well, they have the QuiKoin logo inside.)

Urgently recommended, as Jerry Dubins would say.


Music to Suffer By Remastered
Music to Suffer By Remastered
Price: $16.72
27 used & new from $5.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the peak of the pits, April 12, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Murinophile that I am, I remember purchasing the LP almost 50 years ago, at General Radio & Record on Howard Street in Bal'mer, merely to get "Rats in My Room".

Ms Anderson hardly has (had) the world's worst voice. It was dark and foggy/froggy, but at least she was on-pitch. Her timing/delivery remains impeccable (for this sort of material, anyway).

This is a great record to determine who your real friends are. Anyone who doesn't like "Rats in My Room" or "Limburger Lover" is not a true friend.

http://worldsworstrecords.blogspot.com/2008/03/unique-leona-anderson.html


Multiplicity
Multiplicity
DVD ~ Michael Keaton
Price: $9.33
55 used & new from $4.54

4.0 out of 5 stars outstanding Keaton performance, April 2, 2015
This review is from: Multiplicity (DVD)
Until recently, Michael Keaton has been a hard-luck case. Though he had a few successful films ("Mr Mom", "Beetlejuice", the two Batmans), most of his films quickly faded into obscurity. "Birdman" has turned things around, and I eagerly await "Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian" (or whatever).

"Multiplicity" was not well-received by critics, and bombed at the box office. Watching it for the third time last night, I finally realized just how outstanding Keaton's performance is. He's required to play three clones of himself, of varying personality. (#2 is a relaxed version, who understands why he was created, and (mostly) goes along with it; #3 deeply respects women and isn't afraid of his "feminine" side; #4 is a "blurred copy" of #3, who appears to be mentally defective.) Keaton not only keeps the personalities well-defined, but consistently //underplays//, preventing what is actually a farce from degenerating into utter silliness. I can't think of another actor who could do it as well, let alone better.

This is thin material, the humor growing mostly from mistaken identities. But Keaton and MacDowell have marriage problems to work through, which they do with only minor histrionics. As a "serious" look at marriage problems, it's almost believable. And one of the jokes has a punchline that's nearly as good as the infamous one in "The Thin Man".

Recommended for at least one viewing, if only to see Keaton's performance.


12oz Travel Coffee Mug - Camera Lens Thermos Travel Mugs for Men & Women - Model 1:1 Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L IS USM Lens - Latest Generation Refreshments With Drinking & Quality Stainless Steel Insulated - Best for Morning - Cool Personalized Photo Plastic Mugs with Lid - Lenscup Insulated Tumbler, Vacuum - Cool Dishwasher Safe Customized Cup Holder for Photography - Awesome [12oz]
12oz Travel Coffee Mug - Camera Lens Thermos Travel Mugs for Men & Women - Model 1:1 Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L IS USM Lens - Latest Generation Refreshments With Drinking & Quality Stainless Steel Insulated - Best for Morning - Cool Personalized Photo Plastic Mugs with Lid - Lenscup Insulated Tumbler, Vacuum - Cool Dishwasher Safe Customized Cup Holder for Photography - Awesome [12oz]
Offered by KitchenXpress
Price: $10.99
6 used & new from $7.74

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars In Chinese, "junk" can be a boat. In English, it's a lousy product., March 25, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If the Chinese keep turning out products like this one, the US has nothing to fear. This is junk plain and simple. Let's review its multiple problems.

1. I cannot emphasize enough that it IS NOT a real "Thermos". I poured boiling water into it, and within 10 seconds, the upper section was getting warm. Ten minutes later, the whole thing was warm.

The proper name for a Thermos (which is a trademark) is "Dewar flask", (See Wikipedia.) It's a double-walled container (metal or glass) with a vacuum that slows the passage of energy, thus keeping cold stuff cold, and vice-versa. This mug's liner is nothing more than a single layer of stainless steel -- no vacuum.

2. It holds only about 10 ounces. That's barely enough to get you a mile or two down the road.

3. The upper surface of the lid immediately warped from the heat.

4. Tipping the unit produced a lot of spillage.

Cute, yes. A quality product, no way. If it were //free//, it wouldn't be worth the price.

PS: This is an eminently useful review, which several other recent reviews concur with. Yet it has four "not helpful" responses, while most of the recent 5-star reviews are marked as "useful". Why do you think that is? Could it be that the seller doesn't really want the honest review he was asking for? Someone wants you to believe I'm not telling the truth. I am. Trust me.


Cold Mountain [Blu-ray]
Cold Mountain [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Law
Price: $6.35
32 used & new from $4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Minghella turns a poor novel into a good movie, March 14, 2015
This review is from: Cold Mountain [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
WARNING -- PLOT SPOILERS

One often wonders why producers make drastic alterations to perfectly good novels. In this case we have the opposite. Anthony Minghella has taken a poor novel -- one that received unwarranted praise and awards -- and fixed its problems. My review of the novel discusses these problems, most of which are beyond stupid.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R8QM0O3S6JYVX/ref=cm_srch_res_rtr_alt_29

Minghella's fix consists of removing the preposterous events occurring during Inman's attempt to return to Ada. He makes the Home Guard (here a group of psychopathic sadists and murderers) a near-continuous presence, so their contacts with Inman aren't the random events in the novel. And in the "final showdown", Inman is still killed, but it's plausible -- and he manages to take out the Home Guard in the process. Though tragic, the ending is satisfying and believable (at least within the context of romantic fiction). Inman dies a "good" death,

The photography and production design are magnificent, the acting less so. Only Rene Zellweger (as Ruby) gives a wholly convincing performance (for which she won an Oscar). Jude Law isn't the passionate suitor one would expect, and Nicole Kidman is (at least at the beginning) rather shallow. (In the novel she comes across more as inexperienced/naïve.)

Those who detested the novel might find themselves liking the film.

PS: Whoever did the makeup couldn't find a way to make Kidman and Zellweger look plausibly unwarshed. Throughout the film, they look as if they had access to a secret stash of Camay.


The Four Symphonies, in the style of the Meiningen performances
The Four Symphonies, in the style of the Meiningen performances
Price: $42.98
50 used & new from $12.86

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where is the Brahmsian darkness?, March 10, 2015
Charles Mackerras is among my least-favorite conductors. I've never forgiven him for his annoyingly "rushed" Mozart symphonies. His Brahms -- which was considered revelatory when it appeared in 1997 -- is another reason not to love him.

I have no problem with Mackerras's generally brisk tempi, or the reduced orchestra (which works beautifully for Dvorak, Schumann, and Beethoven from other conductors). The problem is that his Brahms is too-often tinged in sunnier hues, or merely lacking gravitas.

Brahms was a morbid person who said he (figuratively) heard the sounds of dark birds flapping above his head. He wrote little that could be considered upbeat. Before its premiere, he wondered whether the Fourth Symphony would be too dark for the audience. I am similarly morbid, and expect Brahms to tear me to pieces. (Eat your heart out, Wagner.)

Mackerras doesn't do this. Some movements verge on actually being cheery. This isn't helped by his often legato phrasing. I have many sets of Brahms' orchestral music, and this is the only one that fails to consistently capture Brahms' Schadenlichkeit. (That's not an official German word. I made it up.)

One of the marks of a great performance is that it reveals things we were never aware of. These are the opposite. They remove an element that really ought to be present. Mackerras's is, overall, a not-deeply committed, and profoundly unprofound view of Brahms. I would suggest caution in purchasing this set.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2015 8:46 AM PDT


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