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Michael A. Newman (New York)

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Angels & Demons
Angels & Demons
by Dan Brown
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
518 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Ancient cult threatens the Church?, July 16 2004
This is Dan Brown's first Robert Landon novel. Langdon is whisked out of bed and transported around the world to Switzerland to CERN, which is the top scientific research facility in the world. A scientist has been murdered and a sample of one of his creations has been stolen. This sample is as powerful as a nuclear powered device and apparently it is in the hands of an ancient cult of which Langdon is an expert. This is why he was selected to help CERN.
With the help of the murdered scientist's daughter, Vittoria Vetra, Langdon chases the sample to the Vatican. Apparently, the cult wants to destroy the Vatican and the Catholic Church during the time when the Cardinals are selecting a new Pope. Clues to where the cult will strike are contained in the ancient archives of the Vatican. With these clues, Langdon and Vittoria use their problem solving skills to track an assassin around Rome trying to catch him before time runs out for the Church.
The book draws you in from the start and the tension is intense as Langdon and Vittoria reach several seemingly dead ends and make several miraculous escapes. It is a very fast read and Brown seems to have an incredible depth of knowledge regarding many secret places within Vatican City. My only problem with the book is that when the ultimate villain (codenamed Janus) is finally revealed, he doesn't seem plausible as the one that could have orchestrated all that occurred.

Bridget Jones's Diary (Widescreen) [Import]
Bridget Jones's Diary (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Renée Zellweger
Offered by Rainy Day Games
Price: CDN$ 12.99
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Renee is Great!, July 5 2004
Rennee Zellweger in a convincing role as a British woman who can't seem to properly diet and is constantly used badly by men. She gets involved in a brief affair with her boss, Hugh Grant, who cares absolutely nothng for her. The man that she is attracted to (Mark) is saddled with a demanding girlfriend who seems to pull him around on a string. Al the while she is constantly being given advice by her small bevy of friends while recording her deepest thoughts in her diary.
Renee looks good chubby and is very likable. A very entertaining film.

Peggy Sue Got Married (Bilingual)
Peggy Sue Got Married (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Kathleen Turner
Offered by urbansound
Price: CDN$ 13.99
19 used & new from CDN$ 2.68

4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Film to Watch!, June 29 2004
In this time travel spin a woman (Peggy Sue) at her high school reunion has a heart attack and while lingering between life and death, is transported back in time to her high school days. Peggy Sue knowing that her boyfriend Charlie will turn out rotten after she marries him, is determined not to repeat the same mistakes of the past.
Peggy Sue tries to distance herself from Charlie and has an affair with a rebel/philospher student to try to change things. While doing this she learns about Charlie that she never knew and ends up falling in love with him all over again.
I really enjoyed this film and it shows that Peggy Sue with all her future knowledge and superior attitude is still unable to change what originally occurred.

The Family Man (Widescreen Collector's Edition) [Import]
The Family Man (Widescreen Collector's Edition) [Import]
DVD ~ Nicolas Cage
Offered by WC Mediatec
Price: CDN$ 13.79
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Really Engrossing Film, June 29 2004
This movie borrows from It's a Wonderful Life and the book Replay, where a man can go back and see how his life would be if he made a different choice.
In this movie, Nicholas Cage says goodbye to his girlfriend (Kate) at the airport. He is going to London for a job. We next see him years later as a successful head of a large corporation, unmarried and basically involved in one-night stands. We are later to find out that when Cage went to London, he forgot about Kate and she went her own way, never to be heard from again.
Cage is on the way home from the office during a snow-storm and thwarts a robbery. The audience expects the robber to shoot cage but instead Cage seems to convince the robber that he would be a better man if he didn't shoot Cage. It turns out that the robber is not really a robber but a type of Angel (similar to Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life) who will give Cage a glimpse of what life would be like if he hadn't stayed in London but instead came back and married Kate.
Cage goes to sleep in his luxury apartment and wakes up the next morning in a bed with an older Kate. Cage slowly learns that he is really a married man with a family and instead of a big time corporate president, he is a tire salesman in his father-in-law's store.
There are several hilarious scenes and some very touching ones. His "new" life looks like a nightmare at first turns out to be the life he will eventually prefer (Some of this is reminiscent of Goldie Hawn in Overboard). Only until he realizes this, he will not be returned to his prior life by the Angel.
The director does a great job in giving us an ending that is different than what you seem to expect. I won't say what but I think it was well done.
One thing that is not explored is that when Cage's glimpsed life finishes, he will lose his two children from that glimpsed life. The director never touches on Cage's feelings about that, unlike the novel Replay where the main character is torn apart because a child he had in an alternate life no longer exists when he is in a different reality.
The movie is well cast and Don Cheadle is excellent as the "angel."

Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man and Life's Greatest Lesson
Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man and Life's Greatest Lesson
by Mitch Albom
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.89
285 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Lesson in Dying!, June 29 2004
I was encouraged by several of my friends to read this book. Though I found it a good quick read, it did not live up to its hype. It is basically a "self-help" book that has the theme that even when we know we are going to die, we never stop learning new things about the world and ourselves.
The book chronicles a dying schoolteacher (Morrie), who has Lou Gehrig's disease. Morrie wants to spend his last days meeting with friends and having philosophical discussions. A former student (the author) learns about Morrie's situation from a tv interview. He decides to visit Morrie and this becomes a regular Tuesday ritual.
During the author's visits he sees Morrie's condition gradually worsen while his spirit remains strong as ever. Morrie makes the author re-examine his own life and not have to wait to be in a similar situation to appreciate your life.
While the book has some good themes and is based on a real situation, I found it too short and badly structured. I did not like how the author alternated chapters between visits to Morrie and flashbacks to his own life. This was mainly because I was expecting more tie-ins between the flashbacks and the author's visits.

Digital Fortress: A Thriller
Digital Fortress: A Thriller
by Dan Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.36
134 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Reading!, June 24 2004
This is the third Brown book I have read (Deception Point & Da Vinci Code are the prior books). Brown has an uncanny ability in all his books to bring the reader in at the beginning and put you on a roller coaster ride that you can't get off. This book is no exception.
Brown seems to like codes and puzzles, which permeate all his books. In this one, a programmer appears to write a cryptographic algorithm that even the NSA's most powerful computer cannot crack. This most powerful computer, TRANSLTR, is a super computer that uses quantum principals to be able to "brute-force" any encryption key that can be written by man in no longer than a few hours. If the NSA cannot crack the algorithm, then they will no longer be able to spy on terrorists and other bad guys, who can encrypt all their messages with this new algorithm (nicknamed Digital Fortress).
The programmer, who designed Digital Fortress, puts the algorithm out on the Internet encrypted with its own algorithm, so it is free to download by anybody and can be later used to do all their encryption, if they have the encryption key that the programmer set in the code. The programmer offers to sell the key to the highest bidder, so there are several powerful individuals that are anxious to get the key at any cost.
The programmer keeps the key etched into a ring he is wearing. Unfortunately for him one of the "anxious" individuals has him killed, but not before he is able to pass the ring off to some innocent bystander. The NSA learning this sends a "school teacher" (David) to retrieve the ring and bring it back to them so they can break the algorithm. The schoolteacher goes on a "treasure hunt" around Spain trying to locate the ring. Unbeknownst to David, he is being trailed by the programmer's killer, who is killing everybody that David has spoken to. The killer is waiting for David to track down the ring so he can eventually kill him.
Meanwhile, David's girlfriend Susan is trying to track down a partner of the programmer, who might have a copy of the key. Susan is a top cryptographer for the NSA and uses various programming methods to try to locate the partner's email account. While this is going on, havoc breaks loose at NSA headquarters with a power failure and a lurking killer.
This book is not quite as good as the other two books I read by Brown. One of the main problems that I could see coming a mile away is that the killer trailing David, efficiently disposes of everybody David has talked to. When the time comes for him to kill
David, he becomes totally inept. I can't really fault Brown on this because this seems to be a popular thread in most thrillers.

The Passion Of The Christ
The Passion Of The Christ
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 19.82
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars You Don't Need to Be a Believer to Enjoy this Film!, June 19 2004
This review is from: The Passion Of The Christ (DVD)
Based on all the hoopla, positive and negative, I went to this movie thinking I would be bored from knowing the story and disgusted by the violence. I was wrong! Not only does the Aramaic work well and convincing but also the story was "fresh" and exciting. Gibson does a super job of directing putting in some very scary scenes such as a snake that appears to come from a demon and having some children turn demonic and attack Judas.
As Jesus is beaten by sadistic and unfeeling Romans, the populace look on including his mother. You feel her pain as the torturers flay him to a point that you wonder if he has any skin left. Throughout the beatings there are some very nice flashbacks, showing Jesus in happy times with his mother, making a table for her.
The only drawback to the movie is the part when Jesus is made to drag his cross to the crucifixion site. Gibson seemed to drag that part out almost 30 minutes. It is quite interesting that a man is forced to help Jesus carry his cross and the man seems to have more difficulty than Jesus even though Jesus is a bloody mess all over his body.
The movie seems to place the main blame on the Jewish priest Kyfus who seems to be obsessed with seeing Jesus die for going against Kyfus's teachings. Kyfus spurs the Jewish crowd to demand that Jesus be crucified.
Like anything Biblical, we will never know what is the truth and what is someone's interpretation. And yes, with things like The Da Vinci Code, many people question if any of this story is true. That is up to your own personal beliefs. However, whether your believe or not, Gibson has made a powerful film and by far the best rendition of the story that I have seen and this movie can be enjoyed both by believer and non-believer alike!

Hominids
Hominids
by Robert J. Sawyer
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.49
83 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Sawyer has created an exciting parallel world!, June 16 2004
This review is from: Hominids (Mass Market Paperback)
During early human history, scientists conjecture that there was a battle waged between by early humans and Neanderthals. Humans won out literally exterminating their genetically close brothers. In this novel a vortex was opened sometime before the battle whereby humans and Neanderthals were transported to a parallel Earth. On that Earth it was the Neanderthals that survived and went on to build that Earth's dominant society.
During the midst of a quantum computing experiment, a Neanderthal (Ponter) is accidentally transported through a new rift to Human Earth. His disappearance from his own version of Earth brings criminal charges to Adikor, his best friend for Ponter's disappearance and presumed murder.
Meanwhile Ponter is trapped in an alien world that exterminates species (Neanderthals, Mammoths, Whales, etc.) and has so many social values that are different from his own. He is befriended by a group of scientists working for a large Canadian energy company. He is able to communicate through a built in computer fused into Ponter's wrist. He longs to be back with his children and his friend but is resigned to the fact that he probably will not be able to see them again.
In Ponter's world, Adikor stands on trial for Ponter's world, which will bring a severe punishment to Adikor and all his relatives if he is not proved innocent (in Neanderthal world, one is guilty unless proven innocent). The only way he can prove his innocence is to either produce Ponter or prove that Ponter was transported to another dimension. Therefore, if Ponter can't get back, Adikor and his family will suffer.
The thing that is so great about this book is the contrast between the two worlds. Both have things that are very unique and wonderful to the other world as well as things that are dark and ugly to the other world (our hunting animals for sport, committing crimes and polluting the air are so repulsive to Ponter, whereas his world's way of dealing with crimes committed is so unthinkable to us. Also, everything one does in Ponter's world is recorded and could be later viewed so there is no privacy).
Sawyer also introduces a wealth of incredibly interesting characters such as Mary, a genetic specialist who certifies Ponter's DNA for what it is and also undergoes a very terrifying sexual attack by a human male predator. There is also humor in newspaper flashes that appear at the beginning of each chapter including a take-off on David Letterman's top 10 lists.
I highly look forward to reading the two sequel books in this trilogy.

The Da Vinci Legacy
The Da Vinci Legacy
by Lewis Perdue
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.99
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Better to Read The Da Vinci Code First, May 26 2004
With all the interest now in Da Vinci, due to Dan Brown's novel, I was immediately grabbed by the title of this book. Where Brown's novel is a well-researched (though sometimes questionable) grabber from the start, this book is a little slow and doesn't seem to present anything new to the Da Vinci legend.
Vance Erickson, a person who specializes in locating oil, for some reason is also an expert in Leonardo Da Vinci and somehow located a missing diary that was misfiled in a library and gives enough details to show that several pages of a Da Vinci codex (which happens to be owned by Erickson's employer) are fake. This seems to set-off a whole upheaval among a religious fanatical sect, who start killing anyone who might have seen the forged Codex pages.
As Erickson goes looking for those people, he finds out they have just been killed or the killers are still there and try to take out Erickson. Erickson seems to escape, not by his efforts but by others including someone who has held a grudge against Erickson for showing him up in a college football game several years earlier.
What muddles this book even more is that at the beginning of the book, Erickson is being verbally attacked by a good-looking female art critic at a symposium he is given. You immediately know that they will somehow be thrown together and literally kiss and make-up.
This book is not long, but it took me a long time to finish. Whereas, The Da Vinci Code only took me a few days to read. I suggest just reading that book and skipping this one.

Hellboy (2 Disc Special Edition) (Bilingual)
Hellboy (2 Disc Special Edition) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Ron Perlman
Offered by super-dvd-canada
Price: CDN$ 8.77
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Entertaining, May 23 2004
This movie was highly entertaining though a little hard to follow. Not being familiar with the comics, may have been the reason for my difficulties in following the plot.
Hellboy is found during a raid on a Nazi operation near the end of the war. The Nazi's, with the aid of Rasputin (yes, The Rasputin from Russia) are trying to rig a contraption and open up a rift in a type of Hell and loose demons on Earth. The plot is foiled but the soldiers discover Hellboy. He is brought back and raised in secret by a kind of CIA organization.
Years later Rasputin is back with the aid of a zombie swordsman and a reptilian creature that has numerous lives. Rasputin's plan is to use Hellboy to continue the attempt at opening up the rift in the universe to Hell. Great action ensues.
Ron Perlman actually does a convincing job as Hellboy and look for John Hurt as Hellboy's mentor.

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