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JR Pinto (New Jersey)

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Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab 5's Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab 5's Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better
by Ted Allen
Edition: Hardcover
63 used & new from CDN$ 0.53

5.0 out of 5 stars How to tszuj..., Feb. 20 2004
Reading this book confirmed what watching the TV show made me suspect - I have no idea how to run my own life. This is the book every mother should give her son before he moves away to college or gets an apartment of his own. Life is full of stuff we all are SUPPOSED to know but nobody ever tells us about. Why was there never a guidebook before? As soon as the show started, I wondered when the Fab Five were going to write down their accumulated wisdom.
The book itself is kind of a coffee table book - expensive and heavily illustrated. Each of the five writes his own section which covers the basics in every area of expertise.
TED: What tools you need in your kitchen. When to buy produce. How to make cocktails. He tells you to NEVER smell the cork. There are a whole bunch of recipes in this section as well.
KYAN: I never had that "how to shave" talk with my dad - probably because he doesn't know how himself. Kyan tells you how. He also tells you how to properly wash and care for your face and hair. You'll find out the difference between styling gel and pomade.
THOM: You know more about decorating than you think you do. You'll find out how to paint those rectangles on your walls.
CARSON: Fashion - this is the most indispensable part of the book for me as I have no fashion sense whatsoever. You'll find out what to look for in a suit, what kind of clothes you should own, how to buy jeans, and the all-important pocket-square.
JAI: He has the hardest job on the show because he has the most nebulous job description. Yet, he does come up with a lot of useful tips for his section - how to shake hands properly, how to be the perfect party host/guest, and how to go on a date.
Every section is pretty funny and it makes a good reference book to keep coming back to.

I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking
I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking
by Alton Brown
Edition: Hardcover
58 used & new from CDN$ 11.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Cooking 101, Feb. 16 2004
This is the best possible cookbook to begin with. It tells you the THEORY behind what you're doing. As Alton Brown points out, following a recipe might get you where you are going, but what if something goes wrong. Do you know WHY a dish is made the way it is? Do you know what you can substitute for what?
The book isn't formatted into recipes, but into different styles of cooking: searing, baking, etc. He gives us easy, "master" recipes and the WHY of how it works. Before beginning he gives us a list of "hardware" (tools you need) and "software" (ingredients). It is the most straightforward, easiest to follow cookbook I have come across. It may be a little pricey, but so are all cookbooks these days. It is funny enough and an interesting read in its own right. There are nice little sidebars and illustrations. Basically, if you can't follow this book, you can't cook at all.

Deathtrap (Bilingual) [Import]
Deathtrap (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Michael Caine
Offered by Imagine This Music
Price: CDN$ 12.99
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Even a gifted director couldn't hurt it..", Feb. 9 2004
Movies adapted from plays may not always be "cinematic" in the traditional sense because they tend to only need one set. However, they can be very fun to watch because they allow actors to have great dialogue. Deathtrap is one such movie. Michael Caine gives one of his best, funniest performances as a washed-up playwright driven to murder. It is great to watch a great actor when he is finally allowed to ACT. The same goes for Christopher Reeve, who made this movie right after Superman. Here he seems more gangly than a man of steel (his stage training shows a little bit though).
If you are unfamiliar with the plot, I won't spoil it for you. It's just a joy to watch - great acting, great plot, and - most of all - great dialogue. The best I can say about this film is that it inspires me to write every time I see it.

American Splendor (Widescreen)
American Splendor (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Hope Davis
Offered by Tons of Clay Music
Price: CDN$ 3.95
53 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great metafictional movie..., Feb. 4 2004
American Splendor may be one of the best movie adaptations of a comic book that I have ever seen. You see, there's really a guy named Harvey Pekar who writes a comic book entitled American Splendor which is based on his life. This movie is based on that comic book AND the guy's real life. The film is half documentary and half docudrama. Pekar narrates the film himself. "That's me," he says, "Really it's the actor they have playing me. He really doesn't look anything like me." All of the actor's real-life counterparts appear. Paul Giamatti gives a great performance as Pekar. The movie is very funny and very innovative in the way it merges live-action with animation.

by Milan Kundera
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.86
47 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Metafiction, Feb. 1 2004
This review is from: Immortality (Paperback)
The chief pleasure of reading Kundera comes from the music of his writing (in this case, translated by Peter Kussi). His sentences are like melodies and, like Nabokov, it is easy to simply get carried along by their flow. He does not write "novels" in the classic sense - he writes "pieces" which have just as much to do with philosophy as creative writing. The journey is all about little insights, philosophical ideas, and musings on history.
I must warn the newcomer, however - this is NOT a straightforward novel. This is a classic example of "metafiction" - that is, writing about writing. The book begins with Kundera seeing a woman's wave which inspires him to write a story. Immortality is that story, PLUS Kundera's writing that story, PLUS random digressions about Goethe and Rubens. I have to impress upon the reader that THERE IS NO PLOT in this book. That is Kundera's point, and yet the absence of a plot does not encourage the reader to keep going back to it (as it is not headed anywhere).
If you are looking for a book that is out of the ordinary, with very poetic philosophical digressions, than this is the novel for you.

Coupling: Complete Second Season
Coupling: Complete Second Season
DVD ~ Jack Davenport
Offered by DealsAreUs
Price: CDN$ 21.37
14 used & new from CDN$ 5.79

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best sitcoms around., Jan. 30 2004
Coupling is one of my favorite sitcoms. Don't be put-off by the dopey American imitation. This is the real-deal. YES it is similar to Friends, but with a healthy does of Seinfeld added in.
The second season is the best currently available on DVD. It has the classic episode where Jeff unfortunately tells a woman he has an artificial leg. It also features appearances by Captain Subtext and The Melty Man.
Highly recommended.

National Geographic Video: Beyond the Movie - The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring
National Geographic Video: Beyond the Movie - The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring
DVD ~ Phil Crowley
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 37.04
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.86

3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I wanted., Jan. 30 2004
I purchased this DVD hoping to find an exploration into the historical and anthropological background to Lord of the Rings. Did it deliver? Well...sort of.
It gives us some information (precious little) about the life and times of J.R.R. Tolkien - but nothing much that we did not all ready know: he fought in World War I, he was from the English countryside and was not a fan of industrialization, he was educated and taught at Oxford, etc.
Some insight is provided into the historical aspect of the Trilogy. Tolkien was heavily influenced by Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon history. Most illuminating was the discussion of the Nordic Kalevala, and the possible roots of Elvish. (For all you MST 3K fans out there, the Kalevala is the source of the Sampo).
Where I feel the documentary went wrong is that there is not enough of such material. Instead, it comes off as too much of a plug for the movie The Fellowship of the Ring. It is chock full of interviews with Peter Jackson and the cast and would certainly be at home as an extra on the DVD. It also tries to justify its existence by providing parallels between themes in the book (like nature conservation) and our world today.
Unfortunately, we live in a time when we seem to be at war every other year. Sauron's and Saruman's abound. It is not too hard for us to find the parallels between Earth and Middle-earth for ourselves. As Christopher Lee puts it at the end of the documentary, "Where is the Ring Bearer now?"
Where indeed?

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (Bilingual) [Import]
Once Upon a Time in Mexico (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Antonio Banderas
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 11.95
64 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Johnny Depp makes it worthwhile..., Jan. 28 2004
Watching Once Upon a Time in Mexico, I almost had the feeling that I wasn't watching part of the El Mariachi saga. There are so many characters here that Antonio Bandaras almost gets lost in the shuffle. The movie's principal flaw is that it is so top heavy, you never really care about what is going on. The narrative thread has been lost from the previous film. We realize that the Selma Hayek character has been killed and El Mariachi wants revenge, but we barely meet the bad guy and Bandaras has almost no dialogue, so we don't have much invested in their final showdown. Plus, there are about four other bad guys that need to be brought down in the end. The result is that the movie is one long artificially choreographed gun battle and you don't really care who gets shot.
The best thing about the movie however, is the performance by Johnny Depp. Depp (who has just been nominated for Pirates of the Caribbean) has turned out to be one of our finest stars and it is simply a pleasure to watch him act. It seems that he will inherit the mantle of Christopher Walken as America's most fun character-actor and I am recommending the movie almost entirely because of him. He turns what could have been a nothing part into the centerpiece of the film.
The gunplay, in and of itself, is interesting enough to watch in a comic book way. In the end, I'm glad I saw this movie at home and not in the theater.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Widescreen Extended Edition) (4 Discs)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Widescreen Extended Edition) (4 Discs)
DVD ~ Elijah Wood
Offered by Mr Sparkle
Price: CDN$ 67.39
28 used & new from CDN$ 8.97

5.0 out of 5 stars My precious..., Jan. 27 2004
Watching The Two Towers after having just read the book makes me all the more aware of how much Peter Jackson has adhered to the book. True there are differences, but that is to be expected - for instance, the battle for Helm's Deep is not treated with as much emphasis in the book, but that is an understandable choice for making an exciting movie.
The thing that most impresses me in this movie is Gollum. He could have easily turned into the Jar-Jar of the LOTR movies but he manages to be actually likeable. He is almost a perfect realization of his character from the book, right down to his voice (notice how he coughs "Gollum"). We can understand why Frodo pities him because we pity him as well. If it wasn't for the Ring, he'd be happy enough catching fish. The Ents also are very well realized. Watching Treebeard carry Merry and Pippin, I felt that I was getting a preview of what Jackson intends to do with the remake of King Kong.
The DVD also has the prerequisite "making of" documentaries. It also has a short film directed by Sean Astin during his down time. It is worth watching because, rumor has it that Astin is turning his talents to directing now and is in negotiations to film the movie version of The Fantastic Four.

Sherlock Holmes - Terror By Night
Sherlock Holmes - Terror By Night
DVD ~ Dennis Hoey
Price: CDN$ 6.98
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Elementary..., Jan. 23 2004
It had been years since I saw Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes. It is always a good idea to trace something that has become a cliché back to its source. For better or worse, the character of Holmes will forever be inextricably linked to Rathbone.
The action in this film is similar to The Lady Vanishes or Murder on the Orient Express. Sherlock is hired to guard a valuable diamond. Of course someone is murdered on the train and he must solve the crime.
Watching this film feels, in a sense, like coming home. Sherlock is THE iconic detective and when he's around, you never worry too much because you are sure no one is going to get the better of him. He is a direct precursor to James Bond, except with more emphasis on intelligence. In many ways it is more entertaining to watch these old films than more modern entertainments. Here you know the acting is going to be good and the dialogue snappy. The film moves along at a brisk pace - in fact, it is so short it wouldn't even be considered a feature by today's standards. Nigel Bruce's Watson may not be as Arthur Conan Doyle imagined him, but it makes sense in the film series: one needs a comic counterpoint to Holmes' dry wit.
However old these films get, I find them very enjoyable.
The DVD itself is bare necessity, but the picture is good enough and the cost is very inexpensive.

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