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Shashank Tripathi (Gadabout)
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The Son [Import]
The Son [Import]
DVD ~ Olivier Gourmet
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 74.22
6 used & new from CDN$ 40.13

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE AGONY OF MORAL CHOICE, July 17 2004
This review is from: The Son [Import] (DVD)
With some staggery candid camerawork and next-to-none minimalistic soundtrack, which is no doubt rather demanding on the senses, The Son manages to lay a gruelling texture of moral dilemma and the intrigue that goes with it.
Olivier Gourmet plays a carpenter, with an uncanny ability to judge the metric distance between any two points on a board, perhaps a metaphor for his character's moral precision. (I have never seen Gourmet before, but if wins awards, I will know exactly why.)
This carpenter develops a liking to a younger apprentice. It's eventually revealed that this liking is linked to a tragedy in the past, that continues to cast a pall over several of the film's characters. I will not not dilvulge the exact nature of that tragedy, that'd spoil the enigma, but the film is relentless in outlining its ramifications -- the angst, guilt, confusion, and how the carpenter finds himself both drawn to and repulsed by the youngster.
The overall ambience of the film may be bleak and murky, but its pervasive human spirit is very rewaring for all the patience it demands. Not recommended for casual filmgoers, but a very meditative example of arthouse for the more discerning eye.

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GRITTY NOIR THAT MOODILY TRIPS ON ITS HACKNEYED LINE, July 17 2004
Ten minutes into the film I was drawn into the noirish pace and presentation, and a theme of how inconvenient life is when someone who's tainted as an ex-convict wants to straighten himself out. The feeling of paranoia is well achieved, partly because of the brooding score and very well-toned cinematography.
But what kills the movie is its derivative story -- the strinking semblance to Godfather, City Hall, Heat, James Caan's own The Thief, and about a hundred other crime capers is hard to overlook. To make matters worse, the plot is also sloppily constructed such that it can't resolve itself without losing its grip on the tension that it creates.
James Caan is sharp as he brings his snakey charm into the role, come to think of it, all actors do very well to maintain the general grit, including a power-crazed Joaquin Phoenix and the good-hearted criminal Wahlberg.
But about halfway through the movie the denouement already peeped out, making the rest of the proceedings merely a formality. Probably a decent rental for anyone who likes crime procedurals with family businesses going over the top in tandem with public officials, but not exactly an astounding achievement in cinema.

Pollock (Special Edition) (Sous-titres français)
Pollock (Special Edition) (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Ed Harris
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 25.92
23 used & new from CDN$ 8.91

3.0 out of 5 stars THE DARK SIDE OF ART AND SUCESS, July 17 2004
A gripping biopic that explores events in a real-life artist's life, played intensely to perfection by Harris, who from the director's chair also managed to secure a similarly assured, pointed turn from the other lead: Marcia Harden as a woman who sacrifices herself completely in the service of what she perceives as genius.
Pollock's meteoric rise to glory meant that he succumbed soon to common celebrity ills -- booze, promiscuity, temper -- and this is the area that the film seems to cast a dramatic wide-angle lens on.
Personally, I felt that the film did not really wow me with its somewhat conventional and occasionally even shallow drama potraying a painter's angst, skimping in turn on the insights into what really made him tick. Achieving a delicate balance between these two facets of the artist's life was what made Kirk Douglas' "Lust for Life" or the more recent "Frida" such true classics.
A decent rental for the superlative performances of both the lead characters and its evenhandedness in dealing with a sensitive subject (Harris takes no sides, we never really stop despising Pollock because of his abrasive nature) but don't expect anything you'd call a marvel of film making.

The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib
The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib
by G.D. Thapar
Edition: Paperback
14 used & new from CDN$ 25.45

5.0 out of 5 stars "THE HEART IS AN ENTHUSIASTIC PURCHASER OF HUMILIATION", July 17 2004
Ghalib's playful poetry in Urdu is fascinating, such as the line in the caption of this review, a fact most Indians are privy to. But having his quirky, self-effacing romantic gems in English is a delight of a different order altogether. The translation is thankfully quite interesting in and of itself which lends this book an amusing, page-turning quality.
Couple of notes:
(1) Get the Ecco Press version if you can find it, the paper quality is less annoying. The Amazon site (this page) advertises a publication from "Rupa Co." which has crummy pages that I regret buying.
(2) Also, the Ecco Press version of the book contains interesting translation notes from Sunil Dutta, which are fun to read. Robert Bly is listed as the editor, and while he hogs the credit, he simply performed the role of revising and redecorating Dutta's copious translation notes.
Either way, I highly recommend this thin volume for people who appreciate poetry in general or "shayari" in particular. I'd gladly pay for more than 30 samples of Ghalib's prolific work.

Eurotrip
Eurotrip
DVD ~ Scott Mechlowicz
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 34.45
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars MILDLY JOVIAL, CONVIVIAL, BUT UNRELENTINGLY TRIVIAL, July 17 2004
This review is from: Eurotrip (DVD)
Hormone-riddled yank teenagers take a gropefest tour to the EU. The general theme has been beaten to death in a bunch of other much funnier movies but apparently someone thought it has not been covered clearly enough. Despite this reservation, I rented this DVD for the sole claim that it included writers from the 'Seinfeld' team.
Bad decision. The movie is grounded in drivel and delivers much the same odor. As though the handful (literally, if you get the drift) of raunchy scenes and absolutely idiotic props such as a computer that pronounces the arrival of email with " Mail, muthafukker" were not enough to scrape the bottom of the trench of tastelessness, we are inflicted with a Vatican City sequence involving dead-pontiff jokes and some leering copulation in a confessional.
What can I say. Grossed-out, uninspired knockoff that can be skipped without missing much, unless you need a background for a particularly adoloscent stag party.

No Title Available

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN?, July 17 2004
It was sad for me to see adults pushing their kids in the long-winded queues for Spiderman2 and Pokemon at the local theatre, while this touching entertainer was tossed aside (relatively) to the sidelines.
There is no doubt that Secondhand Lions is a semi-manipulative film, it has its fair share of smarmy feel-good contrivances that betray its zeal to tug at our heart strings. But the quirky mirth of all its characters, the idiosynchratic plotline, and a healthy dose of moving, meaningful moments makes this a very wholesome experience.
Duvall and Caine, as two reclusive millionaire uncles drunk on guns and eccentricity, pitch in very well. Caine warms up to his part in the film first, but the screen is really owned by a very fit Duvall, who soon becomes the pivotal character in the film as the uncle that the kid (Hailey Osment) turns to for advice. Osment does remarkably well to hold his own against these two big tykes. A barnful of cute animals and a truckful of drooling relatives round up the doozy cast.
Some fantastic (literally) flashbacks form an interesting trope for the movie's core message: that in our lives having conviction in things we may doubt to be untrue is ultimately a critical virtue. This leads to a somewhat corny twist at the end but it's an interesting one to make the point. There's plenty of action and some amusing gags that even evoked loud guffaws in the theatre.
All in all, whether you have kids or not, but especially if you do, this deserves a recommendation of the highest order.

American Beauty (Widescreen)
American Beauty (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Kevin Spacey
Price: CDN$ 14.47
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXQUISITE AFFIRMATION OF LIFE, July 16 2004
This review is from: American Beauty (Widescreen) (DVD)
On the surface, this stunner from Sam Mendes is such a relentlessly bleak look at the vacuity of the supposed "American Dream" that viewers may just turn off to it en masse. And it shows in the acute polarization of reviews here on Amazon.
But if you can be a little less knee-jerk and not shut off all rational thought when confronted with what's disturbingly familiar, you may also find that the film is genuinely, voraciously amusing, and directed with such breathtaking flair that Spacey's bravura performance seems like a career-defining one.
Beneath the surface of all the seeming pettiness in our daily idiosynchrasies, the theme points out, is an entire world of such simple elegance that chortles to be seen and heard, but is neither recognized nor heeded to.
An interesting visual device in the film is the use of windows. Not just a use, but a splurge, come to think of it. Almost everything important happens in front of, around, or through windows. Could this be a metaphor perhaps for self-examination, for viewing one's life from the outside?
What I do not understand is why most films in this genre (Ice Storm, Ordinary People) end with a dramatically tragic finale. Does it take a shattering turn of events to break everyone out of their daily reverie? Something to think about.
Any rate, long story short: an evocative gem you need to own.

Shakespeare in Love (Collector's Series) (Bilingual)
Shakespeare in Love (Collector's Series) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Gwyneth Paltrow
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 32.80
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GOOFY YET DELICIOUSLY SEDUCTIVE ROMANTIC COMEDY!, July 16 2004
The DVD casing claimed in big bold letters "Best Screenplay" Academy Award winner. I can surely see why! Must have been some deviously creative team that crafted this crisp comic period-piece.
The film is really two love stories: one a bawdy romance between two smitten humans, and the other an ode to the art of theatre. The writers'/director's love for showmanship is loud and evident throughout the brilliant screenplay, and if you're a fan of wordplay in any way, well then this is a surefire delight.
Both Paltrow and Fienners turn in lusciously romantic performances in their respective roles -- she pulls off the formidable order of gender-switching without a hitch, and he has just the right pitches and patterns for a young, struggling Shakespeare. Geoffrey Rush is magnetic as usual.
Don't be fooled by the Elizabethan accoutrements, this film and its arsenal of laconic quips could easily shoot several contemporary romances to dust. Buy this one in fact, don't just rent, it quite comfortably stands the test of more than one viewing..

The House of the Spirits [Import]
The House of the Spirits [Import]
DVD ~ Jeremy Irons
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 79.89
7 used & new from CDN$ 29.47

4.0 out of 5 stars WAYLAYS THE NOVEL'S SOUL, BUT A PRETTY GOOD FILM NONETHELESS, July 14 2004
I quite enjoyed at least 75% of this gripping movie because it tells an interesting story, however haphazardly it may be condensed from Isabel Allende's eponymous novel. About 400 pages worth is squashed into the film's lean 140 minutes, but it doesn't skip so much that it gets confusing.
The book had relied on first person narrative, which lent the sweeping generational and political tumults in a South American country the right touch of personal fervour, and more importantly, a consistent point of view.
The film on the other hand falters on this facet, a deficiency that robs the film of its conviction, its soul. The director seemed to have assumed that the pithy story would be enough to keep the audience interested, but it is not. About two-thirds of the way through the movie, I found myself counting minutes.
The terrific cast is what ultimately salvages the movie. Meryl Streep in particular is perfect in her depiction of the ethereal, psychic wife of a powerful plantation owner. Jeremy Irons, as her jealous and ruthless husband, has some fantastic moments too but hams it up somewhat when he plays himself as an old man. Yet his torn emotional battle between his family and his political ambitions is so well brought out that one actually relates to his quandary.
All in all, although the film waylays something pivotal along the way and of course skimps on being a loyal adaptation, it is surely a lot better than its average rating on Amazon would suggest. Definitely a recommended rental.

My Life
My Life
by Bill Clinton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.35
100 used & new from CDN$ 0.78

3.0 out of 5 stars WHITHER EDITORIAL DISCIPLINE?, July 12 2004
This review is from: My Life (Hardcover)
Just got this in the mail. Looked at it. Fainted. Fifty pages into this ramble and I recognized that the magnanimous length (960-odd pages) of this biographical tome has little to do with the unsparing capturing of valuable historical perspective, and more to do with Mr. Clinton's vainglorious and thus frequently dull ruminations. Wonder if such lack of discipline is reflective of the ex-president's general style in the White House but this lumber seems fated to decorate my shelves for a while. Sorry for not providing any constructive review of the contents as it would take a lot to get to that bit, but I presume it is in there somewhere.

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