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Phantom From Space
Phantom From Space
DVD ~ Noreen Nash
Price: CDN$ 6.98
16 used & new from CDN$ 5.45

3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a look, July 19 2004
This review is from: Phantom From Space (DVD)
Whereas W. L. Wilder's following film, 'Killers From Space' (1954), offers an original twist on the time-honored invasion theme (see my review), this movie plays it a lot straighter. Its progression closely follows that of similarly themed films: an unknown presence (the Other) disrupts order, is eventually identified, tracked, and found. Yet despite this predictable structure, some key points make the film worth watching. Previous reviewers have mentioned the movie's reliance on overly talky scenes; I personally did not mind it, since the discussions are interestingly written and acted. The Phantom himself is an intriguing character. As in most sci-fi films of the 1950s, the invader is considered an enemy, but his role is quite ambiguous: the havoc he creates is linked to his own precarious situation, and the humans do not become pure killing machines eager to get rid of the Other. Not that they mind much when he dies, though... in that regard, the final scene is a little disappointing. As a whole, this film is very modest and far from exceptional, but fans of 1950s sci-fi should be pleased with its redeeming facets.

Killers From Space
Killers From Space
DVD ~ Peter Graves
Price: CDN$ 6.98
16 used & new from CDN$ 5.49

4.0 out of 5 stars A bizarre and unique sci-fi film, July 19 2004
This review is from: Killers From Space (DVD)
This little movie usually gets lost in the vast crowd of 1950s sci-fi pictures, but it arguably is one of the most interesting. (I find it superior to W. L. Wilder's previous film, the still decent 'Phantom From Space' [see my review].) The aliens' physique and their plans for Earth, the minimal special effects and sets, and the use of stock footage showcase the sheer bizarreness of 1950s cult films - the lack of resources actually enhance the film's unique feel. The invasion-laden theme is common enough, but the way it is articulated sets the movie apart from most of its peers. The crucial scene, i.e. when the hero meets the aliens, is used as a lengthy flashback inserted near the middle of the film; it is only when the hero gets out of his trance/amnesia that the scene is shown. This seemingly innocuous device actually changes the whole dramatic perspective of the movie: in the first half, the hero acts against his own will, while in the second half, all of his decisions are oriented by his sudden recollection. This tight structure is effective because the script has none of the forced romance that slowed down many sci-fi films of the era. This is about as pure as a B-movie can possibly be, and lovers of cult films should see it.

Glen Or Glenda
Glen Or Glenda
DVD ~ Edward D. Wood Jr.
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 21.00
9 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Open your eyes and mind, July 17 2004
This review is from: Glen Or Glenda (DVD)
Ed Wood's continuing reign as the so-called 'worst director of all time' has earned him many fans, but it has also done his work a disservice: few reviewers dare to go against the tide and write constructively about his movies, preferring instead to hop in the so-bad-it's-good bandwagon. This is unfortunate, because his most interesting films are worthy of critical scrutiny - especially his first project, 'Glen or Glenda' (1953). Whereas most of his other films tackle a specific genre, this movie creates its own: an unlikely but personal blend of documentary and fiction, horror, romance, police procedural, and more. There isn't a single storyline throughout but rather a set of imbricated tales that feed off of each other. The bulk of the narrative is devoted to a couple of case histories which are recounted by a psychiatrist to an inspector, but the film is frequently punctuated by Lugosi's enigmatic character. His 'Scientist' name, much like an early scene in which he prepares a potion, is a nod to his past roles: he is a Demiurge-like figure whose utterances often have anthropogonic connotations and can affect people's lives. Lugosi's performance in this film is quite underrated, and arguably one of his most effective. (He was not quite as memorable in Wood's subsequent 'Bride of the Monster' [1955].) To further complicate the narrative, one of the two case histories related by the psychiatrist - that of Wood himself - features an elaborate dream sequence whose images are suitably bizarre and full of strange symbols. The film always operates on multiple levels at once, since Wood constantly shifts between characters while using a proliferation of contrasting techniques (voice-over, documentary, fiction, stock footage, image juxtapositions, etc.). Some have deemed this cinematic cacophony confusing and/or confused, but I find it fascinating, and sometimes even mesmerizing - this is automatic, stream of consciousness filmmaking that remains stubbornly indifferent to conventions. I strongly recommend this film to adventurous cinephiles.

Price: CDN$ 14.28
13 used & new from CDN$ 13.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystical soundscapes, July 16 2004
This review is from: Rubycon (Audio CD)
Tangerine Dream followed their masterpiece Phaedra (see my review) with Rubycon, an album that is just as beautiful. The two works share numerous traits: an emphasis on vast and free soundscapes rather than on tightly constructed songs, the inclusion of perpetually morphing sequenced basses, and a calm, flute-driven conclusion. Rubycon does introduce several new constituents in the Tangerine Dream canon. 'Part 2' in particular shows the influence of some of Gyorgy Ligeti's music (used by Kubrick in 2001): it begins with dense, swirling mellotron and synth parts which echo Ligeti's sound clusters, and they gradually melt into a mystical chant of modulating voices. (Incidentally, the titles of two Ligeti pieces, 'Atmospheres' and 'Apparitions', would be very adequate subtitles to 'Part 1' and 'Part 2', respectively.) It is impossible not to think of 2001 while listening to Rubycon, because this music irrestibly evokes the mysterious and ineffable. Both 17-minute sections are remarkably coherent and sustained works, filled with detailed interlocking episodes. A sublime album.

Plotinus: An Introduction to the Enneads
Plotinus: An Introduction to the Enneads
by Dominic J. O'Meara
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 64.50
21 used & new from CDN$ 51.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to Plotinus, July 15 2004
This book is more conventional than Pierre Hadot's remarkable study on Plotinus (see my review), since its regressive mode of exposition - from body to soul, Intellect and finally the One - is the most widely used in Neoplatonic studies. Staying close to the Enneads, O'Meara skillfully expounds these hierarchical levels, and he is especially adept at explaining how they relate to each other. The book is more than a simple catalogue of doctrinal tenets: unlike some other scholars of Neoplatonism, O'Meara is fully aware that one can't write about Plotinus' thought without considering the life experience it both presupposes and leads to. Neoplatonic speculation, however abstract it may seem at first, is never distinct from man's situation in the world. (This awareness on O'Meara's part is not surprising: in many articles and a recent book, he seeked to refute the commonly shared contention according to which the Neoplatonists were apolitical.) The author concludes his book with a brief but insightful assessment of Plotinus' influence on Western thought. In short, I strongly recommend this work to those who wish to learn more about a fascinating man and thinker.

They Live (Widescreen)
They Live (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Roddy Piper
Price: CDN$ 14.88
24 used & new from CDN$ 11.51

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong philosophical and religious undertones, July 14 2004
This review is from: They Live (Widescreen) (DVD)
Made as the Reagan era came to a close, this film not only has strong political undertones, but religious and philosophical connotations as well. Carpenter emphasizes the B-film aspects of his movie - outrageous violence (and a well-known wrestler to play the main character), elaborate make-up effects, aliens, etc. as much as he can, so that the film's subversiveness is sufficiently hidden. Masquerading as a routine invasion story, it portrays a society whose members blindly accept all of the implicit materialist/capitalist messages thrown their way; the only resistance is offered by those who don't fit in that money-oriented mold - a blind preacher, the poor, some dissident intellectuals. Many religious and philosophical grids can be used to read this movie - Hinduism's doctrine of maya, Plato's cave, Gnosticism: an unlikely visionary (Piper) realizes that the 'real world' is in fact full of illusions; convincing others of his discovery proves to be difficult (witness the famously extended fight scene, at once hilarious and revealing), and a battle soon begins between two secret fraternities - one determined to maintain the illusions, the other eager to dispel them. This is one of Carpenter's best films.

The Hideous Sun Demon
The Hideous Sun Demon
DVD ~ Robert Clarke
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 46.86
6 used & new from CDN$ 29.99

3.0 out of 5 stars An odd, endearing creature feature, July 12 2004
This review is from: The Hideous Sun Demon (DVD)
Aside from its delirious title, this movie's most intriguing attribute is the fact that it was co-written, co-directed and produced by its star, Robert Clarke. To call it an auteurist project might be somewhat far-fetched, but this is about as personal as a low budget science-fiction film can possibly be. The way it blends several genres - sci-fi, horror, film noir - and B-film conventions (notably the curse of the werewolf) is odd and generally successful. The title creature manages to stand out in the massive crowd of 1950s monsters for three reasons: 1) it actually looks very good, 2) its appearances are judiciously scattered throughout the film, and 3) these scenes are directed with a keen sense of pace and suspense. There is little doubt that Clarke's elliptical storytelling is partly due to the minimal budget, but it is artistically rewarding as well: the abrupt introduction, the first transformation scene and the final showdown are impressive and memorable, true highlights among 1950s B-films. This endearingly modest creature feature should be seen.

The Matrix (Widescreen) [Import]
The Matrix (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Keanu Reeves
Offered by gamerudy
Price: CDN$ 6.45
129 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spirituality in the modern, technological world, July 10 2004
Reflecting back on the enormous popular and critical success of 'The Matrix', it is refreshing to note that people were overwhelmingly drawn to a film that conformed itself neither to the cynical and pessimistic bent that informs many recent movies nor to an easy and clichéd sort of optimism. The quest for truth is not mocked but strongly valorized here. This film is especially interesting for the numerous clues it gives about how spirituality is envisioned in the modern, technological world: organized groups and systems of all kinds (social, religious, political...) are discarded in favour of a more individualistic, master-disciple type of spiritual experience; at the same time, the notion of an official church is replaced by secret fraternities. This disregard for dogmas entails an eclectic approach that welcomes elements of Eastern thought (especially Buddhism and Taoism), of Hellenism and of Christianity; the path towards enlightenment is the Way, or Tao, which can't be put into words but must be lived. Neo's ongoing initiation features recurrent death-resurrection motifs - it does get caught up in a few noisy and overdone action scenes, but it remains fascinating from beginning to end. And the movie works well as an introduction to philosophy...

The Game (Widescreen/Full Screen) (Bilingual)
The Game (Widescreen/Full Screen) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Michael Douglas
Price: CDN$ 6.97
14 used & new from CDN$ 2.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The initiation of a millionaire, July 8 2004
Nicholas Van Orton (Douglas) thinks that he has everything - this is true only is we consider material possessions (a vast house, millions of dollars, an enviable reputation, etc.). What he is lacking is the access to the sacred and to his true Self. CRS is there to help, courtesy of his brother Conrad (Penn). But Van Orton will have to get rid of all that he previously stood for and accept to lose himself in the unknown. While some viewers have objected to the film's outrageous events and progression, this is precisely what draws me to it: its willingness to dispense with 'believable' developments makes Van Orton's quest all the more powerful. The movie could have been subtitled 'The initiation of a millionaire', because Van Orton undergoes numerous archetypal trials: he is stuck in a car underwater (in the belly of the monster); he is buried alive; his descensus ad infernos is such that he (literally) has to make a death-defying jump in a garbage dump; he has to find his way through mazes and use secret keys; most scenes take place in darkness. By the time he becomes a new man late in the movie, he has already died three or four times! Perceptive viewers will discover far more than a strandard thriller here, if they allow themselves to dig under the surface... a remarkable film.

Dream Sequence
Dream Sequence
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 17.35
41 used & new from CDN$ 6.53

3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting 1977-1983 overview, July 4 2004
This review is from: Dream Sequence (Audio CD)
As strange as it may initially seem, this is an ideal compilation for fans of Tangerine Dream's early period: very few tracks are taken from pre-1976 albums (causing few overlaps for those who already own the 1970-1975 recordings), and its 1977-1983 overview is interesting in its own right, but not quite impressive enough to warrant the purchase of the individual 1977-1983 albums themselves. In other words, both its strengths and weaknesses make it a solid stand-alone double album. The music on this compilation bears the mark of Tangerine Dream's post-Rubycon (1975) aesthetic, as they gradually leaned away from the vast, evocative and free soundscapes of their early work towards a more structured, mainstream and altogether predictable approach. If you are new to Tangerine Dream, I'd suggest getting the early albums first (Phaedra [1974] being arguably the best entry point); this compilation can then cover their later, somewhat less memorable period.

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