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Reviews Written by
Kenneth M. Gelwasser (Hollywood, Fl USA)

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Having Fun, While Your Bored, Lonely & Jet Lagged..., July 13 2004
A film like "Lost in Translation" can be both the 'best' and the 'worst' kind of film to review. It is the best, because not only is it a film that I liked, but it is a film, that I am truely passionate about. It can be the 'worst', because it is really hard to translate, that passion to the written page (or screen in this case). I consider this to be one of the best films of 2003 and it definitely goes into my mental "Top Ten Movies List". The plot of the film is very simple. It takes place mostly in a super modern and luxurious Tokyo hotel. It centers on two characters, who while outwardly seem very different, have much in common. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is an middle aged, 'over the hill', movie star, who has come to Japan to film some commercials (for big bucks) for a Japanese liquor company. He is tired and seems to be having a mid-life crisis, which is only punctuated by a far-away wife, who sends him meaningless faxes and and phone calls. In the hotel bar, Bob observes a young women named, Charlotte (Scarlette Johansson) who is accompanying her star-struck, workaholic, photographer husband (Giovani Ribisi) on a business trip. She seems restless and unsatisfied in her marriage and does not know what to do with her life. Bob and Charlotte eventually meet and they almost immediatley form a 'connection'. They are both in a state of emotional crisis in their lives, all while being 'strangers in a strange land'. Both are suffering from lonliness, boredom and jetlag and seek each other's company to recieve some solace. We watch and listen to their various converstions about their lives. We even get to vicariously escape with them from the confining cocoon of the hotel to have some fun and experience the 'underground' Tokyo nightlife. These are "two lost souls, who are in communion", for a brief time. Director/Screen writer, Sophia Coppala has created a beautiful, funny, heartfelt film, which is almost like a visual poem (or Hiaku in this case). She uses everything at her disposal from cinematography to music to locations to create an insulated world to tell us this story. Her script (for which she recieved an Oscar) is witty, humorus and emotional. The acting in this film is pure perfection. In his Oscar nominated performance, actor Bill Murray sets just the right tone. He could have easily slipped into his SNL 'Nick the Lounge Singer' mode and hammed it up with the comedy. Instead he gives a patient, nuanced performance in which he seems to say so much with just facial expressions and body language. This truely is Murray at his best. Like-wise, Actress, Scarlett Johansson gives an underrated, great performance as a young women who is scared and lonely and dosn't know what life has to offer her. She does a wonderful job with this role and in my opinion should have recieved more attention for what should be considered a star-making performance. Mention should also be made for a great, eclectic soundtrack that compliments the mood of the film featuring Kevin Sheilds, Air, My Bloody Valentine and others.This is wonderful movie that you just have to experience by sitting back, relax and let it take you far away to another place. I love it and hopefully will never grow tired of it! Highly recommended!

American Stars 'n Bars
American Stars 'n Bars
Price: CDN$ 11.51
35 used & new from CDN$ 5.13

4.0 out of 5 stars Love that Expression On Neil's Face!!, July 7 2004
This review is from: American Stars 'n Bars (Audio CD)
For the longest time, I did not add Neil Young's "American Stars 'N Bars" to my CD collection, because I had read and heard so much intense critcism of this album. But, I found a copy at my local 'used CD' store around the corner and decided to take a chance on this so called "oddities" album. Instantly, I fell in love with this crazy-quilt of both acoustic and electric music. I seem to love this CD for the very reasons that others disparage it. Yes, I know it's disparate, hodge-podge of songs. But, it's also raw and alive and seems to have a goofy, not-to-serious charm of it's own. On this album, Neil is no longer in the "middle of the road" ("Harvest"), but he isn't in the now infamously quoted "ditch" either ("Tonight's the Night", "On the Beach"). Young is sort of doing a balancing act in the middle, creating an album thats' sort of a warped, Frankenstein-like version of his classic, "Harvest". But it's a Frankenstein, that can tap it's toes and sort of dance. I love songs like the rustic "The Old Country Waltz" or the pulp Western tale, "Saddle Up the Palimono". I in particular, like the contributions of singers Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris & Nicolette larson. They really work well with Young giving, that perfect '70s era country-rock feeling (especially Harris, who shines on "Star of Bethlehem"). According to one tale I've heard, the ladies thought they were just doing some 'practice, run throughs' of the songs. Much to their chagrin, they later learned that Neil was using these sessions as the final takes, hence the raw feeling of the songs.The electric portions of the CD are wonderful as well. "Like a Hurricane" is of course a classic and Young has played this long & Winding song for many years in his concert repertoire. I love the song's lyrical imagery and to be blunt, the guitar soloing just kicks some rock n' roll (...)! One of my favorites on this CD is the final track, "Homegrown", a funny little ode to small farms or the joys of harvesting 'weed' (you can take your choice). It's a bouncy tune that totally gives me a case of the giggles. No, "American Stars 'N Bars" is never going to be in the cannon of the "Great, Neil Young Albums". All I can say is I don't think it deserves it's bad rep. I liked it and highly recommend it!

Goodbye, Columbus (Bilingual)
Goodbye, Columbus (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Richard Benjamin
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 53.81
8 used & new from CDN$ 50.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It Must Be summer if Doris is Reading 'War and Peace'...", June 17 2004
For years "Goodbye Columbus" has been an old movie favorite of mine, popping up sporatically on late night, broadcast television in various edited forms. I'm delighted, that this satirical 'slice of life', romantic-comedy (based on a novella by author, Phillip Roth) has now finally made it's appearence in the DVD format. The story is pretty simple. Neil Klugman (Richard Benjamin) is a guest at his Cousin, Doris' ritzy, country club. It is there, he catches sight of and is instantly attracted to the beautiful, Brenda Patimkin (Ali MacGraw). This poor young man from the Bronx asks out and starts dating the wealthy, spoiled girl from Westchester. We watch the relationship blossom over the course of the summer, as Neil falls in love with Brenda and gets involved with her crazy family. On the simplest level, this film is a satirical look at being young, Jewish and dating in 1960's suburbia. But it is also a film about being young and not knowing what you want out of life. Throughout the film, Neil is questioned repeatly about his low paying, Librarian's job and what his plans are. The truth is he dosn't really know. He dosn't want to "grub his whole life away trying to make money", yet he also finds the counter-culture answers of 1960's youth just as ridiculous.The film looks at the different view points on a variety of topics (sex, marriage, children, work) between baby boomers and the WWII generation, that came before them. This is all wrapped up in delicious satire, that pokes fun at Jewish life in suburbia (including, the most overly ostentatious wedding ever put on film). Director, Larry Peerce and Screen Writer, Arnold Schulman have created a wry movie, which is both humorus and inciteful.I love the scene where Brenda's father gives Neil a speech about the "contempt" that today's youth show for their elders. He pointly reminds Neil, that at one time he felt the same way. The casting for the film is also brillant. Actor, Richard Benjamin shines as the young man in love, who is trying to find his place in life as well as among Brenda's loud and obnoxious family. Ali MacGraw (in one of her first roles) is equally good as the spoiled, rich girl. But the cast member who really gives a memorable performance is actor Jack Klugman as Brenda's Father, Ben. He gives a great nuanced reading, showing us a father who works hard, loves his family and will do anything to make his daughter happy. The DVD itself has both good and bad points. The mastering of the picture is crytal clear, but the sound is only fair (but what do you expect from a 1969 film). The DVD is bare bones without any extras (not even a trailer). I would have loved to hear audio comentaries from either Bejamin or MacGraw. This is a great film comedy which makes for a wonderful evening of entertainment! Highly recommended!

Sunshine Boys, the
Sunshine Boys, the
DVD ~ Walter Matthau
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 130.73
8 used & new from CDN$ 21.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Original Grumpy Old Men!, June 4 2004
This review is from: Sunshine Boys, the (DVD)
When one thinks of the films and stage plays of writer, Neil Simon, popular titles like "The Odd Couple" and "The Goodbye Girl" usually come to mind for most people. But I always think of Simon's wonderful show biz comedy, "The Sunshine Boys". Over the years I would catch here and there, bits and pieces of this 1975 film on late night television. For some reason, I never got to see the whole thing. Well finally this chuckle inducing movie has come to DVD and I love it! In the story we meet Willy Clark (Walter Matthau) a septuagenarian and former half of the legendry, Vaudeville comedy team of 'Lewis & Clark'. He now spends his days traveling the streets of NYC, going on casting calls. Willy drives both directors, casting people and his agent/nephew, Ben Clark (Richard Bejamin) crazy with his stubborn and obnoxious behavior. It looks like forced retirement is in the wings. But at the last moment, Ben comes up with a big job offer. ABC television wants Willy and his former partner, Al Lewis (George Burns) to have a one time only reunion and bring back a 'Lewis and Clark' sketch for a "History of Comedy" special. There is just one...little catch. These two elderly, comedians literally can't stand the sight of each other! Just getting them into the same room is a major undertaking. This humorous film shows us how this original 'odd couple', fight it out during their reunion and eventually come to terms with each other. Herbert Ross's direction is steady and well done. But what really makes this film is Neil Simon's story and hilarious back & forth dialogue, which is filled with both zingers and heart.I love how as Willy leaves his botched casting call, he gives a speech to his nephew, Ben on what words can get a laugh. "Alka-Selzer is funny...Pickle is funny...anything with a K in it." The casting in this film is sheer perfection. Yes, we have seen Matthau do his 'grumpy old man' before and since. But this is the actor doing it at his best! His Willy Clark is truely a stubborn force of nature, who would rather spite himself then be proven wrong. George Burns is also very good (he won the 1975 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor) in the role of a elderly, sedentary comedian, who although slowed down physically by age, can still turn around and zing his partner with acid-like comebacks. I also particulary like Richard Benjamin's portrayal as Willy's nephew and agent. Yes, we have seen Benjamin do this part before as the guy, who's pulling his hair out and getting an ulcer. But behind the comedy schtick you can tell, that the character really does care about his Uncle and wants what is best for him. Finally look for Howard Hesseman (of WKRP fame) in a small, but very funny role of a director, who is practically being tortured by Willy Clark's obstinance at a casting call for a potato chip commercial. You have to see it, to believe it! The DVD for the film is only fair. The sound and picture could be better. Extras include Richard Benjamin's commentary, a theatrical trailer, an MGM promotional film about the movies they were putting out in 1975, make up and screen tests for various actors up for the roles. This is one of Neil Simon's best works. For an evening a great comedy, I highly recommend "The Sunshine Boys"!

Peter Pan (Widescreen)
Peter Pan (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Jeremy Sumpter
Price: CDN$ 5.97
38 used & new from CDN$ 1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "All Children Grow Up, Except One...", May 17 2004
This review is from: Peter Pan (Widescreen) (DVD)
All my life I've been a big fan of J.M. Barrie's classic children's story of the little boy, who refused to grow up, "Peter Pan". But whenever I saw screen or stageplay versions of the tale, I was always left wanting. Why was Peter played by adult women with pixish hairdos (yes, I know it's a theatre tradition)? Why was Captain Hook a slapstick buffoon? Why did Never Neverland always look so fake? And why did it seem like they had sanitized Barrie's original story? In my my mind I always had a vision of a more realistic movie version of Pan. Well, my dream has come true with the release of Director, P.J. Hogan's live action version of "Peter Pan". At last, the folks in Hollywood (or Australia in this case) got it right! Most people know the jist of the story. It is Wendy's last night in the Darling family's Victorian, nursery. On that night Wendy and her younger brothers, Michael & John discover the magical, Peter Pan (and his fairy sidekick, Tinkerbelle). He convices the three to fly back to Never Neverland so Wendy can tell stories and be a 'Mother' to a gang of kids known as the "Lost Boys". Once there, they have adventures, meeting up with mermaids, indian warriors, pirates and Peter's arch-nemesis, Captain James Hook. Where do you start with on describing how wonderful this film version is? Director/Writer P.J. Hogan has created a storybook fantasy world which is like a surreal dreamscape. Hogan pretty closely sticks to the original Barrie tale. He shows us the adventurous childhood delights of Never Neverland without sanitizing it's dangers (witness the spooky scene with those evil looking mermaids!). The casting in the film is almost perfect. Juvenile actress, Rachael Hurd-Wood plays Wendy Darling without any pretensions. She dosn't over act or try to be cute or cloying. She does a really good job of showing us a young lady, who is overcoming her fears of leaving childhood behind and entering adolecence. Jeremy Sumpter is fine (but a little wooden) in the lead title role. He shows us Peter Pan as heroic, but also a tragic figure, because he refuses to grow up and accept the love he really craves. But the film really belongs to actor, Jason Isaacs, who pretty much steals the show in the dual roles of Mr.Darling & Captain Hook. Instead of being a merely villainous, slapstick buffoon, his Hook seems like evil incarnate. His eyes are bloodshot and his hair is bedraggled. This Hook just oozes menace and should join Darth Vader and Oz's Wicked Witch in a "Movie Villain's Hall of Fame". Everything in this film is just done so right. From the eye popping special effects (the flying scenes are amazing), to the marvelous cinematography to the brilliant set design and the warm musical score. It is all so perfect. The "Peter Pan" DVD has been wonderfully mastered. The widescreen picture is crisp and clear and the 5.1 sound is great. The DVD is loaded with extras including a series of very short clips, which talk about everything from the Pan story's history to how the special effects were done. Includes extensive (but short) backstage views of the movie's making. This film is great entertainment for adults and kids alike (though parents might want to prescreen this for very young children). Highly recommended!

The Muppet Movie
The Muppet Movie
DVD ~ Jim Henson
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 15.83
19 used & new from CDN$ 4.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Better than a Bucket of Doc Hooper Frog Legs!, April 22 2004
This review is from: The Muppet Movie (DVD)
I had the pleasure of introducing my two and half year old son to the magic of the muppets through DVDs of the original "The Muppet Show", the syndicated TV program, that I had watched and enjoyed, while growing up in the 1970s. He loved Kermit & company's surealistic, yet hilarious comedy and music, so the next logical step was to move on to the Muppet's various adventures on film. Luckily, the first DVD I bought was the original 1979 film, "The Muppet Movie". The plot is quite simple.In his hometown swamp, Kermit meets up with a lost and nervous agent (played by the ever hammy, Dom DeLuise) who informs him that a major Hollywood studio is looking for frogs with talent.Armed with a dream of making people happy through his dancing and singing, Kermit goes on a road trip to the West Coast to break into the movie biz. Along the way he picks up new found friends Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great, Miss Piggy (starting their long running, tumultuous romance), and the rock group, Dr.Teeth & the Electric Mayhem, who all share in dreams of Hollywood fame .Unfortunately, Kermit also gets the attention and ire of Doc Hopper (Charles Durning), a Col. Sanders knock-off, who wants to force our hero to be the spokesfrog for his fast food, frog legs chain, "alive or stuffed". What an adventure! This is a wonderfully entertaining film, which will appeal to both kids and adults alike. Its obvious, that Muppet creator, Jim Henson and his fellow performer, Frank Oz were at their creative peaks.The writing is sharp and never 'dumbed down' ("I think I've lost my way"..."Have you ever tried Hare Krishna?") and the musical numbers are well staged (including Kermit's now classic, "Rainbow Connection"). What's more the film is filled with entertaining cameos from 1970's Hollywood including Madeline Kahn, Richard Pryor, James Coburn, Mel Brooks, Elliot Gould, Steve Matin ETC. My son and I have now collected all the DVDs in the Muppet's cannon of films and we pretty much agree, that this movie is by far, the best of the lot! For great family entertainment get "The Muppet Movie"!

American Beauty (Expanded)
American Beauty (Expanded)
Price: CDN$ 14.88
39 used & new from CDN$ 9.49

5.0 out of 5 stars "Let there be songs...to fill the air!", April 7 2004
"It's the same story the crow told me it's the only one he knows..." Yes, we have heard the story. You know...how the Grateful Dead were great in concert, but for reasons unknown, were never able to "catch lightning in a bottle", when it came time to going into the studio to produce an album. Well folks, that's a myth that's disproven with this remastered, re-release (w/ bonus tracks) of the Dead's 1970 classic, "American Beauty". This is a band, who never cared to be pigeonholed in one musical catagory or genre. As the 1960's ended the record industry pretty much had the them pegged as an experimental psychedelic band, who couldn't make much of a dent in the charts.But just when you zig the G.D. would zag and do the unexpected. They refined and simplified both their song writing craft and their vocal performances, creating a beautiful collection of rock, country, folk & blues songs, that were new and modern, but at the same time felt like they wouldn't be out of place being played a half century earlier.The album starts on a high note of perfection with "Box of Rain", bassist, Phil Lesh's ode to his dying father. This is a tuneful, powerful song, which is just an outpouring of emotion.The album's high quality of song writing and performances continues all the way to the last note of the last song, the band's autobiographical rocker, "Truckin". Other highlights include tunes such as "Friend of the Devil", the lively country rocker, "Sugar Magnolia" and the zen like sing-along, "Ripple". But to be truthful, there isn't a clunker in the bunch.The songs seem to easily work together creating an almost historical/emotional portrait of the American spirit and psyche. Many of these songs would become standards in the band's concert repertoire, going through substantial changes over the next twenty-five years. But there is just something 'perfect' about their original incarnations captured here. I wouldn't change a note! This classic has now been re-released with the sound remastered. Any sonic mud has been removed and you can now hear each guitar, mandolin and vocal with the utmost clarity (I'm in stereo geek heaven!) The live bonus tracks are great, but not essential, though I did really enjoy the unlisted "Grateful Duck/Nixon" radio ad track, which perfectly captures the spirit of the band and the early 1970's era. This album is as close to perfection as the Grateful Dead were ever able to achieve in a studio setting. Yes,"lightning was captured in the bottle". It's a true classic, that belongs in any serious rock n' roll fan's CD collection!

The Vicar of Dibley: The Divine Collection
The Vicar of Dibley: The Divine Collection
DVD ~ Dawn French
Offered by torontomediadvd_com
Price: CDN$ 109.88
8 used & new from CDN$ 24.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Series is Just Heavenly!, March 19 2004
My wife and I discovered "The Vicar of Dibley" by accident when we were going through the cable channels and it came up on our local PBS station. Soon we became addicted to this hilarious little BBC comedy and now we walk around the house going "no, no, no, no,...YES!" O.K. maby things are not that bad, but it is certainly delightful, that the show in it's entirety has been released as a three disc, box set entitled, "The Devine Collection". For those unfamilar, the show takes place in the bucolic, British country village of Dibley. In the first episode, the elderly (bordering on ancient) parrish, Vicar dies in his sleep. The citizens of the village council send for a replacement.To their shock and astonishment the new Vicar turns out to be (gasp!)...A FEMALE! She in fact turns out to be Geraldine Granger (a comically great, Dawn French), a short, roly-poly women, who's preferences include junk food, good looking men and cracking racy jokes. But the town council are not the only ones to be surprised. Geraldine soon finds out that her new flock puts the capitol 'E' in the word 'Eccentric'. In other words...there all pretty nuts! They include David Horton, the village Grinch, Jim Trott, who's a stuttering letch, Frank Pickles, the most boring man alive, Owen Newitt, an outspoken farmer, who seems to do unspeakable things to livestock, Mrs. Cropley, an elderly women, who creates culinary nightmares and finally, Alice Tinker, a pleasant young women, who has raised being an idiot to a high art form! It's with this looney bunch that the new Vicar gets into some really gut busting, funny situations over the course of sixteen episodes. The DVD quality is only fair but the series truely makes up for that. Extras include two "Comic Relief" sketches plus some back stage footage. Also included is a documentary "The Real Vicars of Dibley". If your a fan of British Comedy or just good comedy in general than I highly recommend "The Vicar of Dibley-The Devine Collection" (no, no, no, no, ...YES!).

No Title Available

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Gee, Our Old LaSalle Ran Great...", March 3 2004
When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s, my parents were forever trying to get me to read a 'good book' or go outside to get some fresh air and excercise (this didn't seem to stop me from lapping up endless episodes of "Mannix" & "Room 222"). "Boob-tubing" as my father like to call it, was seriously frowned apon. But every Saturday night, like clockwork, my whole family gathered around our little 19", b&w set with rabbit ears to view the further comedic TV exploits, that took place in the 704 Hauser St. living room between Archie, Edith, "Meathead" and the "Little Goil". My family and the rest of the American television viewing audience had never seen anything like "All in the Family". It was a well written, hilarious, TV sitcom performed by a talented group of actors about the serious issues of the day, using some very 'frank' language. This wasn't about if Mr. Clampett would take his money out of Mr. Drysdale's bank. Nor was it about creating a radio out of coconuts to get off of a tropical island. Instead Archie and the rest of the Bunkers screamed and argued about the Vietnam War, politics, the economy, race relations, women's lib, homosexuality, religion, student protest Etc. We had never seen anything like this. And you know what? It was really good! Norman Lear's teleplays were well written, emotionally moving and very funny as they drove home the topical issues of the day.This was a historic first in the world of TV sitcoms! It also helped that the show had one of the best television acting ensembles (with exception to "The Mary Tyler Moore Show") of the 1970s. The characters created by actors Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner & Sally Struthers will forever go down in television history. Now finally, the Emmy award winning show is being put out season by season to the DVD format. In this first season we get to see the early creation of the characters. Archie isn't as mellow as his later incarnations (he uses some pretty course, racist language). Edith isn't as sweet and 'dingbat-like' in her persona. We get great episodes like the premiere ("Meet the Bunkers") as well as comic classics like the episode where the Jeffersons move next door ("Lionel Moves into the Neighborhood"). My personal favorite is "Gloria's Pregnancy". In that episode we get to see a more tender side of Archie Bunker after Gloria suffers a miscarriage.As for the DVD itself, the picture quality is only fair. No extras are provided, which is a shame since I think fans would love to have some commentaries from Producer, Norman Lear and the cast. Even so, I would highly recommend this excellent, historic, TV comedy be made a part of any DVD collection!

Living in the USA
Living in the USA
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 33.77
9 used & new from CDN$ 8.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings Back Great Musical Memories, Feb. 25 2004
This review is from: Living in the USA (Audio CD)
The very first rock concert I ever saw (at age 15) was Linda Ronstadt back in August of 1978.I still have the original ticket stub and reserve seats were only $9.50 (Boy, prices have changed!). I'll never forget watching this beautiful, petite, women (in short shorts & a way too small Boy Scout uniform) with a powerful voice singing songs from her then new album, "Living in the USA". To this day, that album remains as one of my favorites out of Ronstadt's vast and eclectic catalogue of music. How do you start to review this wonderful album, where she covers everyone from Chuck Berry to Elvis Costello? The CD begins with a real bang as Linda lets loose with Berry's rock n'roll, cross-country journey of "Living in USA". It's a really fun number and Ronstadt has a crack group of musicians backing her up. I especially love Don Grolnick's rollicking piano and Waddy Wachtel's searing guitar licks. Ronstadt is a master interpreter of songs and she does an amazing job on this album. I love the gentle way she handles Oscar Hammerstein's classic "When I Grow to Old to Dream". Or the sexy, sultriness she expounds in Smokey Robinson's "Ooh Baby". My personal favorites on this CD include J.D. Souther's "White Rhythm and Blues" and the late, Warren Zevon's "Mohammed's Radio". Over the years, Ronstadt covered many tunes from these two writers, but in this instance she really tops herself with putting so much emotion into her readings. This CD says so much about the pop/rock music of the 1970's, yet it is remains timeless in it's sheer perfection. This is just a wonderful album that I highly recommend!

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