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anthemic (Australia)

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Coldplay Back to the Start
Coldplay Back to the Start
DVD ~ Coldplay
Price: CDN$ 24.58
14 used & new from CDN$ 13.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute rubbish, July 5 2004
This review is from: Coldplay Back to the Start (DVD)
When I bought this, I rushed home to watch it - I was that excited. I started to fast forward after 25 minutes because it was simply awful. None of the band members were directly featured in the documentary. The people interviewed were loosely associated with the band from the past but nobody of particular relevance. For instance, they interview some people that used to go to school with Chris or someone that used to work in a pub with Guy. 95% of the interview footage is taken up by an ex-producer, biographer - Martin Roach, and some DJ about her thoughts on Coldplay.
There is no Coldplay music used in the film. All the background music has been created to resemble Coldplay and it's absolute rubbish. There is probably about three minutes of actual footage of Coldplay but they are not direct interviews. The rest is all photographs of the band.
This documentary is the pits. Such filmmaking resources were better invested elsewhere rather than trying to capitalise on the band's success and fans spending money.

Fleetwood Mac - Live In Boston 2003 (2DVD / CD)
Fleetwood Mac - Live In Boston 2003 (2DVD / CD)
Price: CDN$ 35.03
26 used & new from CDN$ 25.31

3.0 out of 5 stars Superb music but flawed presentation, July 4 2004
I am a diehard Fleetwood Mac fan who attended five concerts in Australia and watched this DVD three times over 96 hours. Despite my fanatical tendencies, I can still be critically objective about Fleetwood Mac.
I am ambivalent about this DVD at best. One the one hand, it is great to have a DVD recording from the current tour. It allows you to relive the concert and to reconnect with idiosyncracies such as the boxing sequence in 'Tusk', to Stevie's 'Say You Will' dance, and Mick's drum solo. There are beautiful moments captured from the acoustic delicacies of 'Say Goodbye' to the epic 'I'm So Afraid' or the spellbinding 'Gold Dust Woman'. Musically speaking - whether you attended a concert or not - you will enjoy the music. Not only is the music superb but the performances are great. Some fans will miss Christine but they should also look at it as an opportunity for the band to head in a different creative direction - and therefore offer us something different as well.
Lindsey is the most active member of the band in this concert. You really get the sense that it's his moment to take center stage. The dialogue between Stevie and Lindsey (whether staged or not) really comes through. The sound and lighting is stunning.
The problem remains in the visual presentation of the concert. I found it alienating and and lacking in emotion. For starters, the editing is too rapid. This makes the concert's pace very snappy. That pace is fine for faster songs but Fleetwood Mac songs are often hypnotic and packed with emotional fibre - that a camera shot would be better to sit and pause for a while to capture that emotion. The film does not know when to be still. Compare any song to 'Silver Springs' from 'The Dance' DVD and look at how the camera sits on Stevie for a while before cutting away to a different band member. In short, the editing is not always appropriate and doesn't allow the audience to engage with the emotion as much as it could.
Secondly, there are too many long shots which creates further alienation between the band and the viewer. Again, this is an editing issue. The idea of a film concert is to bring the viewer closer to the band. It is awful to have Stevie sing a slow song only to cut to a long shot from the back of the Fleet Center. Nicks' fans will hate the fact that you hardly see close-ups of Stevie's face. That may have been a conscious choice on her part but that adds to the alienation as well.
Therein lies my ambivalence: I cherished the DVD because the music is superb but I was disappointed by the visual presentation. I don't mind rapid editing but I think it should be appropriate for the song. Hopefully one day, it will be re-edited. In the meantime, I'll listen to the DVD rather than watch it. That said, it's still a worthwhile purchase.

Tusk
Tusk
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 45.95
4 used & new from CDN$ 39.93

3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting parodic tribute, Sept. 9 2002
This review is from: Tusk (Audio CD)
There will be two different groups of buyers contemplating the purchase of this CD - Fleetwood Mac or Camper Van Beethoven fans. This reviewer writes from the Fleetwood Mac fan perspective. Unfortunately, I don't know much about Camper Van Beethoven to offer an alternative point of view.
Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk' is my all-time favourite work produced from the band. Considering the West coast rock/pop genre of the times - Fleetwood Mac dared to be different in not offering Rumours Vol 2. You have to take your hat off to them for this.
You also have to take your hat off to Camper Van Beethoven. Consider the debacle of 'Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours'. The CD featured talents such as Shawn Colvin, Elton John, Matchbox Twenty, and Elton John. The result was inevitably dismal because 'Rumours' is one of those masterpieces that cannot be redefined because 'Rumours' was a journey to hell and back. Sure, The Corrs have pleasant harmonic talents but their version of 'Dreams' lacks the tormenting beauty that Stevie/Mac captured in the tumultuous cocained break-ups of the band members.
However, Camper Van Beethoven's make-over of 'Tusk' is far more successful because they were fascinated with the experimentation, and at times, bizarreness of 'Tusk'.
The better offerings come through Christine and Lindsey's songs but the renditions of Stevie's work are often very difficult to appreciate. Throughout the CD, it becomes obvious that Camper Van Beethoven was fascinated with Lindsey's producing capabilities and often throw in strange sounds to come up to scratch. At times, those are their failing moments because the songs sound better without them. Lindsey didn't just throw them in...he timed it all...and carefully weaved it in.

The first three songs: 'Over and Over', 'The Ledge' and 'Think About Me' work amazingly well - and you can easily detect the Fleetwood Mac style.

'Save Me A Place' is one of my fave Lindesy songs that shows his true genius capacity for producing and mixing. Unfortunately CVB does not come up to scratch but halfway through the songs try something very interesting.

'Sara' my all-time fave song has an interesting catchy electronic drum rhythm replaces strings and a dark vocal performance....its all hard to accept but the jury remains out.

'What Makes You Think You're the One'....wow...wow...wow...I just love this rendition...its much slower and doesn't have that awful crashing drum beat that has always put me off that song. After hearing this, I would love to see 'Coldplay'...do this song. Impressive in its simplicity.

'Storms' - this is pretty catchy as well. Again drum beats are foregrounded to substitute Lindsey's textural hypnotic weaving. There is a slight synthesized crescendo which works very well.

'That All for Everyone' - bloody awful...one of Lindsey's great works ripped to shreds. 'Not that Funny' - interesting with the bagpipes...and works okay. Rather infectious...

'Sisters of the Moon' - the strange thing about this song is that it has that dance beat that was being played and mixed at all the major dance parties during the early to mid-nineties with the...renaissance. Vocal performance is female and more spoken than sung. Very interesting...I can't believe they captured that dance beat during the early 80s. Anyway, the song has no driving momentum and all ends very abruptly. Still interesting though.

'Angel' begins like a bad mobile telephone tune. Has great vocal performances but I don't care much for the simple and outdated synthesizer sound/beat. Has potential to grow on you.

In 'That's Enough For Me', we hear the bagpipes and in 'Not that Funny', its the Irish dance hall violin and footapping type drumbeat. Again, quite interesting and its obvious that they were trying to find ways of putting a twist on Lindsey's experimental and genius producing.

'Brown Eyes' is a terrible rendition. There was no way they could pull this one off. An awful pastiche (what a nice word for it) of textures and sounds in an attempt to make something interesting. 'Never Make Me Cry' is not too bad but in no way does it capture Christine's pining soul.

'I Know I'm Not Wrong' is pretty cool and the bagpipes are more subtle here and its all good. This is the single song that is closest to any Fleetwood Mac 'Tusk' song. Very English New Wave.

'Honey Hi' is a bluegrass/folk attempt with banjo (or is it a ukalele?). Really interesting with sounds of cars beeping. Its got that 'busker on the corner' type thing happening.

Overall 'Beautiful Child' is really listenable with countryish overtones. It captures Stevie's desperation in terms of a vocal performance.

'Walk a Thin Line' yeah...Camper Van Beethoven really work this one out but has some truly bizarre noise interruptions as conterpoint but a great listen.
'Tusk' - this song is long clocking in at 10:10 . Let's face it, doing this song was never going to be easy. CVB did the right thing by not trying to copy the song but really taking it out there. It terms of beat it follows the song well but you know that bridging point when the drums take off....CVB do the oppostite and pull down the pace and offer a REALLY weird mix of sounds of bells, humming, and electronically effected voices, synthezisers etc.....but I gotta tell you its really interesting. Then the song resumes its normal pace..and we're back on track and plays with guitars and beats. What a great track!!

'Never Forget'.....nothing special about this rendition but not unlistenable either.

Overall, this is an ambitious take on an ambitious and over the top masterpiece. I say take a chance with this and really try to enegage with what Camper Van Beethoven were doing. You could very well be suprised. I only wonder what CVB fans think of this.

Trouble in Shangri-La
Trouble in Shangri-La
Price: CDN$ 12.69
40 used & new from CDN$ 2.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Stevie returns in top form, May 1 2001
This review is from: Trouble in Shangri-La (Audio CD)
Stevie Nicks is the foremost 'Queen of Rock and Roll' - there is no doubt of that. Janis Joplin, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, and Debbie Harry did not have prolific and long careers as Ms Nicks who continues to weave magic upon her loyal fans.
After the somewhat disappointing and lacklustre 'Street Angel' - Stevie has returned to the form that will make fans rejoice. In fact, looking and sounding awesome - she is better than ever. Some songs are new, some old, and other renditions of previously released material.
The central core that bounds this album is the acoustic guitar with a generated pace that is slower than past efforts. 'Sorcerer' formerly released on the 'Streets of Fire' soundtrack and sung by sometime back-up vocalist, Marilyn Martin, - has the rock edge taken off it and becomes a duet with Sheryl Crow. Their musical partnership coming in second to that of Lindsey Buckingham.
While there are so many good tracks on this release, 'Fall From Grace' is the bombshell, for which, you should prepare yourself to be blown away. It is reminiscent of Stevie's live performance of 'No Spoken Word' from the Red Rocks concert video.
'Its Only love' has that Buckingham Nicks album feel and again re-iterates the prominence of the acoustic guitar. Its simply stunning and makes you crave the official CD release of that album. Other goodies are 'Planets of the Universe', 'Everyday', and the country-ish 'Too Far From Texas' which so suits Stevie's style. You'll find yourself swaying to that one.
Buy this CD and play it loud all Summer long.

Waterworld
Waterworld
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 32.95
10 used & new from CDN$ 21.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Sea-buried treasure.... one of Howard's best works!, Jan. 18 2001
This review is from: Waterworld (Audio CD)
Whether or not you liked the film - the score for 'Waterworld' is one of James Newton Howard's most listenable efforts. It is a score that is able to sustain one's attention by altering pace and feel and avoiding repetitive melodies which often burdens the listener. Furthermore, Howard makes it interesting by foregrounding other instruments beyond the typcial brass or string sections.
As one might expect from a score about the ocean - the overall composition reflects two themes: (1)the dark and eerie (2)the triumphant and mysterious. Since, the film attempts to portray a futuristic time-space, Howard offers exotic drum beats, bells, and flutes to convey a sense of another world. The use of African-type drum beats can also be heard in another score -'Dinosaur' (a film set in past time-space). Howard tends to utilise and combine these elements well and 'Snow Falling on Cedars' is another film score which exemplifies that (particularly with flutes/chimes - see my review for 'Snow Falling on Cedars').
Referring back to 'Waterworld' - the first two tracks will draw you in like a moth to a flame. 'Escaping the Smokers' is a wonderful piece that echoes the Mariner's triumphant escape. At the same, it is not an overblown action cue that brings constant grinding halts with its string and brass sections (which one often hears in action cues).
Track 6 - 'Swimming' is utterly delighful and exemplifies the mysterious theme I referred to earlier. Here, Howard uses bell-like chimes, flutes, synthesizers, and strings combined with subtle choral permeations which offers the listener a sense of peace. Much can be said for many other tracks.
Overall, 'Waterworld' is a seamless effort and if you loved the score to 'Snow Falling on Cedars', then it is most likely you will appreciate this score. In my opinion, they are both better than 'Dinosaur'. That said, James Newton Howard engaged very well with what the film attempted to be.

The Oxford History of World Cinema
The Oxford History of World Cinema
by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 38.52
42 used & new from CDN$ 11.25

5.0 out of 5 stars A must for film students and ardent film buffs., July 2 2000
'The Oxford History of World Cinema' is an excellent reference text with contributions from well-respected academics and critics across the globe. It provides condensed versions of national cinemas, styles, and movements through different eras. What is more, a conscious effort has been made to cover well-known styles such as Italian neo-realism and the Hollywood studio system in addition to lesser known ones such as Scandanavian or Arabian cinema. Furthermore, it moves beyond national cinemas to include a diverse range of topis such as documentary, music, censorship, exploitation, animation and much more.
For those studying cinema, like myself, will find it useful as a condensed reference from which to depart into greater depths of research. Film buffs will find it useful to view films within cinematic contexts such as style, industry, and reception.
The book is divided into three main chapters: (1) Silent cinema (2) Sound cinema and (3) Modern cinema with the differnt topics aforementioned pervading throughout. In addition to this, a few hundred actors, directors, and cinematographers et al have been selected to feature in a special biography page of their own. These include notables such as Sternberg, Bunuel, DeMille, Dreyer, Ozu, Garbo, Warhol and so much more.
There are many illustrations - most of which are black and white but are stunning accompaniments nonetheless. Buy, read, enjoy and cherish it. I know I did!

Late Spring [Import]
Late Spring [Import]
VHS

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How many masterpieces can an artist have?, July 1 2000
This review is from: Late Spring [Import] (VHS Tape)
In my review of 'I Was Born But...' I brought attention to one of Ozu's subject matter motifs - estranged relationships between children and parents. Usually when the children are not kids - as in 'Late Spring' then Ozu develops this motif with the topic of marriage. In this case, the widowed father in realising his selfishness to 'keep' his daughter urges her to marry before its too late. This sudden parental wish is not without resistance from his daughter.
The fact that this film is 'post-war Ozu' provides an important contextual backdrop - that is, Japan's fascination for things American. Moreover, it is the idea of marrying for love than for traditional duty. With much parallel action at work, the narrative is consumed with trying to match Noriko with suitors. At the same time, marriage becomes conceptually compared with other characters in terms of divorce and tradition.
Again, spatial violation and mimimalistic camera shots are prevalent. Furthermore, Ozu's sense of graphic composition is superb here as each shot - be it an object or room - looks strikingly articulated. I don't want to spoil the final scene - however I will say that it is one of the finest moments in the history of cinema.
See this film and you will love the father, as you will the daughter, and even the interfering Aunt. Its not just Ozu's excellent sense of humanism but his ability to share the emotional resonance of his characters with the viewer. Wait for that final scene and be spellbound! Ironically, if it hadn't been for Ozu's estranged relationship with his father - he might never had so much tenderness to convey in his films.

I Was Born But [Import]
I Was Born But [Import]
VHS

5.0 out of 5 stars One of Ozu's best films, July 1 2000
This review is from: I Was Born But [Import] (VHS Tape)
It is a shame that the availability of Ozu films is not more widespread. 'I Was Born But...' exemplifies the concern for family relationships by one of the great masters of Japanese cinema. This film being silent should not be seen as an obstacle (nor should any silent film). It echoes the charming pathos and humour one might expect from a Charlie Chaplin classic.
The film tells the story of a family who relocate to suburban Tokyo. The two sons conflict with the local bullies - one of which is their father's boss's son. The boys deal with the local bullies only to 'lose face' over their father acting like a clown. What arises from this becomes a motif for Ozu - the estranged relationship between children and parents. For Ozu this is part of everyday life and is somewhat auto-biographical in thought as his own relationship with his father was also estranged. Further exemplified, is Ozu's motif of spatial violation and parallel action.
Ozu is the anti-thesis of the Hollywood blockbuster and he possesses a narrow choice of camera positions. Nowhere is the expression "less is more" more appropriate than here. While there is a rare use of a tracking shot, Ozu tends to prefer the static camera and usually shoots from the tatami mat. This sense of mimimalism seems entirely appropriate given that the film spends much time observing the boys everyday encounters.
This great filmmaker has a knack for expressing the tender beauty of everyday life and minimal expression. However, the sense of observation one feels is always pervaded with subtle touches of humour and emotional resonance - that it is impossible to become bored with it. I bless my lucky stars for the offerings that Ozu brought to the world of filmmaking.

Film Music
Film Music
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 15.95
5 used & new from CDN$ 11.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Pearl of the Orient, June 30 2000
This review is from: Film Music (Audio CD)
It's so frustrating that foreign film scores are difficult to acquire. Finding 'Electric Shadows'(the Chinese word for 'film') is like discovering a gem. The CD is a collection of pieces from a number of films - many of which are well-known. Of the six films offered, Zhang Yimou's 'To Live', 'Ju Dou' and 'Raise the Red Lantern' provide half the music on this CD. There are 2 tracks from Chen Kaige's 'Farewell My Concubine', Ping He's 'Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker', and the lesser known 'Sunbird' by Liping Yang/Xuequi Wang.
Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige hail from the reknowned '5th Generation' filmmakers -a movement that began in 1984. They resisted social-realist films and often criticised China's political culture. While doing this, the cinematography could be astoundingly beautiful or rurually harsh.
Musically this translates into tones of sadness, regret, and even triumph.
Who could forget the regretful overtones in 'To Live' as tracks 1 & 2 offer the high-pitched erhu and synthesizer. It is a musical motif within the film and works well to convey senses of disappointment and hardship - themes Chinese people often talk about.
Tracks 3 & 4 come from 'Sunbird' a film I have not seen. However, musically they bring relief to the high-pitched tones aforemenioned. Track 3 offers the deeper flute-style instrument and half-way through picks up the pace as we hear a Chinese woman singing. Track 4 ranging in tempo - offers the big orchestra sound so prevalent in today's soundtracks. The hybrid form (East meets West)works well.
Without exoticizing the East too much - the opening of track 5 really does make you feel like you should be in a temple somwehere. Well in the bathtub with candles at the very least. It's wonderfully contemplative and soothing.
As one would expect, the offerings from 'Farewell My Concubine' (tracks 6 & 7) center around the film's subject matter - Chinese opera performers. Prepare yourself for clashing symbols, thunderous drumbeats and of course the melancholic 'flute'. You will either like these tracks or not. Chinese opera is stylistically worlds away from anything the Italians had to offer.
Track 8 is a return to a more harmonious tone mixing the 'flute' with a string orchestra. Track nine is a return to the big orchestra sound with clattering 'drumbeats' interrupting.
The final four tracks from 'Raise the Red Lantern' offer vocal harmonies in addition to the same style of music offered throughout the whole CD.
Overall, this CD is seamless and has none of those unlikeable gaps one sometimes hears in dramatic scores. Very listenable indeed!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 15.95
9 used & new from CDN$ 9.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Elizabeth - a tour de force, June 19 2000
This review is from: Elizabeth (Audio CD)
Without a doubt, David Hirschfelder is a name that will become increasingly popular in the soundtrack industry in the coming years.
'Elizabeth' will arrest and captivate the listener from beginning to end - with a tour de force of energy.
While this happens it will displace your timespace and time-warp you into a 16th century castle court. It will arouse your passion, anticipate your fear, and tingle your spine with joy and anxiety. Despite reference (and intertextuality) to great composers gone by, the soundtrack is entirely appropriate for the film as it generates its own sense of drama.
It is not a soundtrack that will pass by unregistered by the mind. In this sense it is never a mere accompaniment - instead working alongside the film and heightening drama in its own right.
Displaying a fine range of tempos, themes, and moods - 'Night of the Long Knives' juxtaposed with 'Coronation Banquet' exemplify the soundtrack's ability to mix these while remaining true to a high level of intensity.
The fact that the Oscars gave their ultimate nod of approval to 'Life is Beautiful' for 'Original Dramatic Score' and 'Shakespeare in Love'for 'Best Picture' shows how they continue to get it wrong. Such a decision would have the mighty queen turning in her grave but move on undeterred she will.
It is highly unlikely that anyone will dislike this soundtrack and those are pretty good odds for the prospective buyer! To quote Shakespeare - "if music be the food of life, then play on".

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