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David Bonesteel (Fresno, CA United States)
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Sexy Beast (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
Sexy Beast (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Ray Winstone
Offered by BuyCDNow Canada
Price: CDN$ 24.81
15 used & new from CDN$ 2.24

3.0 out of 5 stars Great performances, but the movie doesn't quite make it, July 19 2004
A retired ex-patriate gangster (Ray Winstone), living in Spain, is reluctantly pulled back to his native England to do One More Job. The one doing the pulling is an absolutely ferocious Ben Kingsley, delivering a startling performance that appears to have taken everyone by surprise. It's a pity that his memorable Don Logan doesn't appear in a movie that is worthy of him.
Much of the first part of the film consists of Logan bullying Gal Dove, his wife (Amanda Redman), and friends (Cavan Kendall and Julianne White) in order to get Gal to agree to do the job. Don disappears from the film, with no particular consequences for anyone. The heist goes off in peremptory fashion, hardly seeming to be worth all of the build-up. All through the film, I felt that director Jonathan Glazer and screenwriters Louis Mellis and David Scinto were setting me up for something surprising, but it never came off. Although it plays a small part in the film, there is also a very contrived and pretentious running theme about Gal's sense of guilt being represented in dream sequences by a Scary Rabbit-Monster Man.
The cast does magnificent work, but the material lets them down.

Badlands (Widescreen/Full Screen)
Badlands (Widescreen/Full Screen)
DVD ~ Martin Sheen
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 56.94
8 used & new from CDN$ 11.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Cold, stark portrayal of young killers, July 18 2004
Holly (Sissy Spacek), a 15-year-old girl living in a North Dakota town, falls under the influence of twentysomething social misfit Kit (Martin Sheen). When her father (Warren Oates) stands in their way, Kit kills him and hits the road with Holly, who thinks she is in love with him. They hide out in the wilderness for awhile, and then go on the run, killing several people along the way.
Director/screenwriter Terence Malick has given us characters that are emotionally barren, as reflected by the barren landscapes of North Dakota. They occasionally seem happy together, but most of the time they seem emotionally flat and detached from their own feelings; Holly seems as if she is in a constant state of shock. Malick's style is almost like that of a documentary, presenting the events and trusting us to draw our own conclusions. Sheen and Spacek, both at the beginnings of their careers, show a great deal of talent.

In This World
In This World
DVD ~ Jamal Udin Torabi
6 used & new from CDN$ 8.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Authentic tale of refugees, July 18 2004
This review is from: In This World (DVD)
This film tells the story of Jamal (Jamal Udin Torabi) and Enayat (Enayatullah), two young men who attempt the underground journey from a refugee camp in Afghanistan to London. Both characters are played by real refugees, non-actors who actually lived the type of story portrayed here. Director Michael Winterbottom followed the route taken by his protagonists, using guerilla filmmaking techniques such as filming in the actual locations, reportedly recording people, at times, when they did not know that they were being filmed. Night scenes were shot with night vision equipment and appear to show confrontations with actual border guards; the black-and-white photography of these sequences, in which the characters eyes seem to glow in the dark, takes on a nightmarish quality. Some may find the film slow--it does not develop its characters in a traditional way through scenes and dialogue, but shows them to show their qualities through the tenacity and courage that they display during their trip. The constant motion and eerie musical score contribute to a hypnotic, trance-like feel that imbues its characters with a sense of being entirely consumed with their journey from a dismal past into an uncertain, frightening future. The scene in a shipping container is particularly harrowing. The only sour note comes at the very beginning; Winterbottom mentions US responsibility for the plight of many Afghan refugees without acknowledging the complicity of the Taliban as well. Nevertheless, this is not an overtly political film, but rather a very human and intimate one about the terrible risks people are willing to take to get to a land of opportunity.

Stone Reader
Stone Reader
DVD ~ Carl Brandt
Offered by Mikani Collectables
Price: CDN$ 17.99
9 used & new from CDN$ 17.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A movie for people that would rather read, July 15 2004
This review is from: Stone Reader (DVD)
I don't know why so many people are down on this film. Mark Moskowitz' documentary about his search for the long-forgotten author of a book that he loved succeeds at something that I've never seen another movie even attempt. It revels in the joys of reading and makes devoted readers seem like members of an extended family. I enjoyed the meandering style of the film. Finding Dow Mossman, while being an important part of the film, was never the entire point of it. The conversations about books and authors and the long, lingering shots of shelves full of books is not the filler that some people felt it to be; it goes right to the heart of what this film is about--the love of books. There are some interesting characters in this movie, too. I liked Mark Moskowitz' style, enthusiastic but kind of goofy. I can't remember the name of the old man who was in close contact with Mossman during the writing of the book (Frank Conroy?), but he was delightful, full of good humor and the love of reading. Mossman himself was a pleasant surprise, not at all the disheveled, disturbed recluse that I had been fearing to see.
This film isn't for everyone and I suppose it could have been a bit shorter, but it's a real winner. It made me want to reach for a book right away.

The Assignment
The Assignment
DVD ~ Aidan Quinn
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 118.30
4 used & new from CDN$ 3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent thriller, July 13 2004
This review is from: The Assignment (DVD)
A US Naval officer (Aidan Quinn) with a striking resemblance to an international terrorist (Quinn again) is recruited to impersonate him in a complex plot to discredit him before his KGB superiors. This is a very interesting film that has more to offer than just action. Some of the most fascinating sequences come early in the film as CIA agent Jack Fields (Donald Sutherland) and Mossad agent Amos (Ben Kingsley) supervise the training that is supposed to enable him to behave convincingly in his new role--training that really seems more like brain-washing. This is clearly not a big-budget film, but it makes the best of what it has. It is not predictable by any means--the final shot will leave you guessing.

The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them
The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them
by The Freedom Writers
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.71
148 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Students speak out, July 11 2004
English teacher Erin Gruwell had her students, who had been written off as unteachable, write diary entries about their lives and activities in class as she exposed them to lessons about acceptance and prejudice. These diary entries form the meat of the book and many of them are real eye-openers. I knew that there are many kids in our society living in situations that are really intolerable, but I was nevertheless shocked by many of the things I read. In the end I was impressed by many of the students, saddened by others.
I would have liked to read a bit more from Gruwell herself. Although she mentions what a struggle she had with her class at times, I got the sense from reading the entries that the students started making connections between their lives and their texts and producing well-written, introspective diary entries fairly quickly. I have no doubt that Gruwell accomplished amazing things, but it sometimes comes across as too pat. Surely there were some students she didn't reach. Surely there were times when her approach failed and she had to go back and rethink her methods. But then again, I suppose that's all material for a different book. This one is reserved for the voices of the students. It's a good read.

Lost on Venus
Lost on Venus
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.80
25 used & new from CDN$ 7.69

4.0 out of 5 stars The adventure continues, July 11 2004
This review is from: Lost on Venus (Paperback)
The second novel in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Venus series. Space-faring earthman Carson Napier was separated from his beloved princess Duare at the conclusion of the previous novel. Now, he is after her once again, determined to get her home safely to her kingdom of Vepaja, and the result is the literary equivalent of one of the old Saturday morning serials with just a pinch of social commentary. From the Room of the Seven Doors, down the River of Death to the City of the Dead, where a mad scientist presides over a kingdom of zombies, and the beautiful city of Havatoo, which is a paradise but only if your lineage is pure, Carson and Duare bounce from predicament to predicament. Will they survive their adventures? Will Duare drop her haughty facade and accept Carson's love? Is there any doubt? Not really, but getting there is the fun. This series benefits by being more humorous than most of Burroughs' work.

Angels In The Outfield (Sous-titres français)
Angels In The Outfield (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Danny Glover
Price: CDN$ 9.83
28 used & new from CDN$ 6.33

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty sappy stuff, July 11 2004
Foster-child Roger (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt) prays for the California Angels to win the pennant in the mistaken belief that it will lead to reconciliation with his father (Dermot Mulroney). Angels begin to intervene on the Angels' behalf, bringing hope, faith, and a renewed sense of self-worth to bitter manager George Knox (Danny Glover) and his clumsy team. Diabetics should avoid this film at all costs. It goes for easy sentimentality every step of the way, leading to a very predictable outcome. Kids may like it, though I don't want to be the one to explain why God would pick sides in a sports contest, especially since He and his angels ought to be well aware that answering Roger's prayers will not lead to the outcome he so desperately desires. Oh well, if you can put your brain on hold and get misty-eyed over a stadium full of spectators flapping their arms like angels, you ought to have a good time.

Open Range (2-Disc Collector's Edition) (Bilingual)
Open Range (2-Disc Collector's Edition) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Robert Duvall
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 5.82
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Classically constructed western, July 11 2004
Two veteran free-range cattlemen (Kevin Costner and the incomparable Robert Duvall) must enter hostile territory to get medical attention for the wounded boy who works for them (Diego Luna). The town is under the thumb of an unscrupulous cattle baron who despises free-rangers and has no compunctions about killing them (Michael Gambon). This is a classic Western in which the two protagonists are compelled by their moral code to face danger instead of retreating from it. Costner and Duvall have magnificent chemistry in this film--Duvall as the moral conscience of the pair, and Costner as the former killer who is haunted by his past and longs to be able to see himself as a good man. Although director Costner has had a somewhat checkered career, he demonstrates here that he is a man with true talent. The final gunfight is a real highlight and not to be missed.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (Full Screen)
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (Full Screen)
DVD ~ Hayden Christensen
Offered by MochaDVD
Price: CDN$ 69.99
19 used & new from CDN$ 4.64

3.0 out of 5 stars The magic is gone, July 8 2004
It goes without saying that an installment of the Star Wars series will have superlative effects, and that's why I give it as many stars as I do. It's effective eye candy, although I think director-writer George Lucas may have reached the point of diminishing returns. The whole film has a very artificial, superficial look to it and the actors are like zombies. No doubt spending their days in front of green screens and blue screens and fretting about maintaining proper eye contact with CGI creatures that wouldn't be finished for another seven months put some constraints on their spontaneity. As for the story, there's a lot of political intrigue that I didn't care about and a romance that didn't convince me. Wasn't anyone else bothered by the fact that Anakin Skywalker's (Hayden Christensen) aging process appeared to have overtaken Queen Amidala's (Natalie Portman)? Wasn't he seven or eight in the last film, while she was about nineteen? Now they seem to be the same age.
Not a horrible film, but certainly not worthy of being part of such a high-grossing franchise.

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