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E. Richards "Herself" (Alone with my thoughts)
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French & Saunders: Gentlemen Prefer French & Saunders
French & Saunders: Gentlemen Prefer French & Saunders
DVD ~ Dawn French
Offered by MotionPicturesUnlimited
Price: CDN$ 19.89
9 used & new from CDN$ 8.98

4.0 out of 5 stars These Two Women Are Chameleons, Dec 16 2002
I rate these folks fairly highly because I understand British idiom and humo(u)r. If you are an American, trust that your mileage may vary on how well this tickles your funny bone. It is a good bit more sedate than "Monty Python", that's for sure.
No doubt about it - Saunders and French are chameleons. I suspect a big award goes to the wardrobe and makeup crew who work with them, but we have a somewhat convincing 250 pound Jane Russell (French) doing schtick with a middle-aged Marilyn Monroe (Saunders).
The DVD has sketches, not one running story. In this one, they lampoon opera divas, publishers of utterly worthless "stocking stuffer" books (I am resisting spoiling it and will not post the title of the dreadful book,but it is funny.), boring chat shows (one has the two women chatting earnestly about what the Queen had for "elevenses"), two rustic housewifes bragging about fleecing the yuppies ("She offered me 100 quid for the loo!"), and (my favorite) a couple of dour and indestructible old women in Wellies with two large dogs under the table.
The sketches I did not like were the "Gone With The Wind Sketch" ( Too many "Fiddle-dee-dees" for my taste) and the visit to the friend in jail sketch (I got bored, so sue me.).
Oh, yeah, this DVD also has the sketch that spawned the entire "Absolutely Fabulous".

French & Saunders: At the Movies
French & Saunders: At the Movies
DVD ~ Dawn French
Offered by MotionPicturesUnlimited
Price: CDN$ 19.89
11 used & new from CDN$ 8.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful British Parodies of Popular Movies, Dec 16 2002
I give them a high rating because I am an Anglophile and understand British slang very well. I suspect your mileage may vary, especially if you are unfamiliar with British idiom. If you subscribe to BBC America and like British comedy, pour yourself some tea (or warm beer) and sit down with this one.
British comedians, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders perform a series of sketches that are delightful send-ups of popular movies, such as "Silence of the Lambs" and "Thelma and Louise". They are supported by their usual stable of very funny people, most notably, a surprisingly butch commando in the "Alien" sketch. (Ms. Burke appears in "Absolutely Fabulous" as the nearly unintelligible Cockney go-getter who rushes into magazine meetings, throwing catch phrases at her ditzy staff and then rushing out.)
There are a few things that Americans might find puzzling, like a parody called "House of Idiot", but if you've watched PBS at all, it is not a stretch to figure out what they are doing.

Office Space (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
Office Space (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Ron Livingston
Price: CDN$ 11.98
49 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Drop "Dilbert" and Watch "Office Space", Nov. 18 2002
If you work in an office, you must watch this movie. If you have ever worked in a mall restaurant, you must watch this movie. If you are Stephen Root, you must come to my house and do the "stapler routine" until I fall out of my chair, laughing.
These guys know what it is like to get your brain fried and your soul destroyed by the relentless meaninglessness of office work. From the dispirited singing of the birthday song for the boss to the lecture about wearing enough "flair" given to the waitress played by Jennifer Aniston, Mike Judge has nailed the worklife down. This is not a "great" movie, like "Citizen Kane" or "Gone With The Wind", but it really belongs on everyone's shelf. It is so nice to know that there are some people in Hollywood who know how the rest of us live.
And then, there is Stephen Root. He played "Jimmy James" in "News Radio" and you just would not believe he is the same man playing "Milton" in "Office Space".
As for the DVD itself. It has lots of language options, the usual features, and good image quality. I don't have the honkin' big sound system, so I cannot really say much about the sound quality...

Kissing Jessica Stein (Widescreen) (Bilingual) [Import]
Kissing Jessica Stein (Widescreen) (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Jennifer Westfeldt
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 4.58
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Charming Indie Film - Great New York Flavor, Nov. 18 2002
This is a nice, light little film with a decent script, charming actors and actresses, and a New York Flavor thicker than the pastrami sandwiches at the Carnegie Deli. And oy, gevalt, it is so deliciously Jewish. The premise of the film is that a somewhat conservative ("vanilla", not "political") young professional woman has wiped out on bad dates with various New York men and decides to answer to a personal ad placed by a woman who shows (on advice of her gay friends) a literary bent.
The friendship and romance are developed very believably, as are the reactions of friends and loved ones for both parties. This film does not talk down to the viewer, nor does it pander. It is a sweet, simple story. Although many screenwriting hacks say that a good story is driven by conflict and distopia, this film succeeds in telling a story where *everyone* is a decent person. How refreshing!
Having said that, let's describe the DVD itself. The quality is good, the colors have not been tweaked to death. The features are what you expect - you can get subtitles, commentary, and deleted scenes. There's a lot of extra footage about "Grandma Esther", who is the granny of one of the people involved in the film. Its a nice little look into the fantasy I certainly have had - "What if someone threw me in front of a camera in a movie and shouted, 'ACTION!'" (Tovah Feldsuh gently instructs Grandma Esther - "Honey, wait 'till they say "action" and THEN you can talk.")
The chatty commentary is interesting. One is the director and cameraman and they go on about sweeps, pans, angles, and other technical stuff. The other is the two women who wrote and starred in it. They go more into the story. Both commentaries agree that the film had a lot of kind benefactors who had the coolest apartments in New York City.
I think commentary is the best thing about DVDs. I love hearing the people talking about all the folks who don't get a lot of recognition for their work in film - these folks acknowledged contributions from everyone from the catering truck to the production assistants who had to run out and buy juice for a prop to a neighborhood cat who just happened to sit itself down right in the middle of a fruit stand to grab some screentime.

The Sopranos: The Complete Third Season
The Sopranos: The Complete Third Season
DVD ~ Drea De Matteo
Price: CDN$ 16.98
31 used & new from CDN$ 12.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant TV, Oct. 31 2002
The DVD quality is good, the features excellent. The series marvellous. I don't have cable and was loaned Season One by a friend. Wow. The only way I can describe my viewing of the series was gluttony. I spent several days watching it until 2AM.
I loved all three seasons, what can I say?
I come from that part of the country and they DO talk like that, they DO look like that, and they DO dress like that. I used to work in a shady office in construction where things did, indeed fall off the back of the truck. All the little verbal tics and slang expressions are geniune.
For Season Three:
The characters grow more complex. In this season, I found Dr. Melfi to be exceptionally compelling as she grew to understand her relationship to her patient and how his role in her life changed. Tony Soprano is a complicated man - repulsive and cute, amoral and loyal, seemingly unintelligent, yet an avid reader of "The Art of War". That's just the tip of the iceberg. All of the characters, even the poor dopey strippers, have complex inner lives, desires and motivations.
A truly gripping series, best watched in huge marathon chunks.
Get the set. Order a pizza. Turn on the DVD player. Find yourself getting up from the sofa 8 hours later...

Chocolat (Bilingual)
Chocolat (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Juliette Binoche
Offered by Round3CA
Price: CDN$ 25.00
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Something About Faux French Sets My Teeth On Edge, Oct. 31 2002
This review is from: Chocolat (Bilingual) (DVD)
A sweet story, based on a better novel. This falls in that food meets sex and gets blurry genre that the Nigella Lawson crowd loves so well. The actors and actresses are cute, the locations lovely, Judy Dench rules the world, the food bits quite tasty to watch and the story moves along nicely.
I think the thing that gets me about it is that it is supposed to be French, but it is so Americanized that I found myself wondering if they filmed it in Disneyland. Also, the pat, happy ending is very American.
I await the fusillade of negative votes from people who liked the movie. Fire away mes amis!

How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them
How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them
by Sol Stein
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 14.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Sensible Advice, Oct. 31 2002
I gave it 4 stars, because there was nothing new in there, but what there was hits 90% of what makes amateur writing bad. I think the man does us all a service by doing a pre-emptive strike on unsellable fiction.
Advice includes things like introducing conflict and misfortune to the characters. No matter how much the author loves his or her characters, no one else is going to find them interesting unless they are presented with challenges.
I recommend reading it a few times over before putting pen to paper. My own advice is that it is, of course, perfectly fine to write whatever your little heart desires for whatever reasons. (For example, a lot of people do "fan fiction", where their favorite movie and TV characters have postively Baccanalian sex lives, and those writers gleefully share with their friends. Other folks write as therapy or catharsis.) The author here is just putting forth information everyone should know in order to make a novel marketable to a general (paying) audience.

Happy Between Relationships: How You Can Be Very Happy When Not Involved with a Partner for 1 Hour or 10 Years
Happy Between Relationships: How You Can Be Very Happy When Not Involved with a Partner for 1 Hour or 10 Years
by Kenneth McAlpine Rutkowski
Edition: Paperback
12 used & new from CDN$ 6.98

2.0 out of 5 stars Not Really Very Helpful, Oct. 31 2002
I paged through this dutifully after a breakup and found it to be cliched and unhelpful. The tone of the book reminded me of all the platitudes the happily married give to the freshly divorced. A touch superior and with this whiff of "If you cannot be happy being alone you must FIX that." I think the best advice for someone who is unhappy being alone is to give them advice on how to find other people to hang out with.
I think the author is hung up in a tautology.
People who want to be alone are generally happy to be that way and are not going to get this kind of book. People who are unhappy being alone probably need to be with other people and being given little things to help them dilly-dally solo is going to let more time pass before they find what they really want - which is human company.

No Title Available

3.0 out of 5 stars Movie is Great, Nice Features, DVD Quality is Not Good, Sept. 20 2002
My theory is that people who buy DVDs and VHSes have already seen what is on the medium and have made their own decisions about the story itself.
If you did not like the movie, you're not likely to buy it. If you have not seen it, you're more likely to rent it for three bucks than buy it. Yes?
So, here is a review of the *DVD*. It is not good. In the commentary by the director, he even admits that he pushed the color too far to green and said he was not sure it worked. It is annoyingly green. There are things that are green that should not be green. If you have ever been to Paris, you know that the walls of the Metro are beige and not green.
The movie is adorable. Tatou is adorable. The characters are cute and quirky. The added footage, interviews and commentary are very good. The director's chatter over the film is very French, "Zees is my favorite scene....well, zees is my favorite scene...no, really zees is my absolute favorite scene, more zan zee others!" The techical info is great. The peek into the ordered mind of the director is very edifying (if you want a director, hire this guy. He doesn't waste film. He plans it out ahead in great detail.)
But the movie itself is just too darned green. I hope this is fixed in any future releases.

Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension! (Widescreen) [Import]
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension! (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Peter Weller
Offered by The Digital Vault
Price: CDN$ 99.99
10 used & new from CDN$ 35.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Added-in Features, Sept. 9 2002
Why do we like DVDs more than video tapes?
OK, one is that they take up less room. Another is that you don't have to rewind them. (We are a nation of people who tell the microwave to hurry up.) But the biggest reason we love DVDs is
FEATURES!
Despite the fact that this movie was made a long time ago, the creators of the film have loaded this DVD with fun features. There are cast and crew interviews, a slide show (put it on your computer and download those badges to your color printer!), a cute "Easter egg", schematics, and two tracks of add-on material. By that, I mean that there is a voiceover track you can pick where the director and one of the Hong Kong Cavaliers chat about backstory and the production of the movie. The other track is very silly subtitles, which also add backstory to the movie and explain some obscure references that some folks did not get. If you want to know about Hanoi Xan, for example, you need to see and hear these backstories.
If you really want to blow your mind, play it with the director commentary on audio *and* the subtitled backstory. While eating watermelon.
Now, if they only had recipes for Mrs. Johnson's fabulous baked goods.
As for a review of the movie, well, it looks like people were reviewing the movie long before this DVD came out, so I will spare you the reading time. I'm sure 99% of the people buying this (or any other DVD) have already seen the movie.

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