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Content by Charles Griffin
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Reviews Written by
Charles Griffin (DeLand, FL USA)

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The Statement (Widescreen) [Import]
The Statement (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Michael Caine
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 13.79
36 used & new from CDN$ 2.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Did I watch the same film as the critics?, May 4 2004
I got a chance to watch the much maligned Norman Jewison film The Statement on DVD this weekend.
It's a damn fine film!!!

Without giving too much of the story away, the film is about an old Frenchman (played by Michael Caine) who is on the run throughout the south of France for war crimes he committed back in WWII. He has to excape both investigators and assassins (possibly from a radical Jewish organization) by taking refuge in primarily catholic churches.
It was actually filmed in France in real churches and government buildings. Excellent Hitchcockian cinematography and music. Well paced editing and outstanding acting from Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Northam, Ciaran Hinds, Frank Finlay, Alan Bates...and especially Caine. The screenplay was expertly adapted by Ron Harwood. And, for a film with a pretty low budget, the DVD transfer (anamorphic) is excellent and the 5.1 surround sound is decent.
What's up with the critics? OK, I'm a big Michael Caine fan, but that doesn't mean I like ALL the films he's in (Secondhand Lions was kinda corny, his role in Goldmember was far too small, etc.). This role is a true showcase for him. And anyone who respects Caine as an actor should watch this movie.
In truth, the storyline may be hard to follow...I'm sure that's the primary problem for the critics. I had the advantage of reading the original novel first, so there was virtually no confusion for me...and the film is remarkably faithful to the novel!
The novel was a bit complicated at times and I found myself having to re-read the occasional passage to keep up with the maybe the film is similar in that respect.
Also, a lot of critics had a problem with the fact that the English actors aren't speaking with French accents...but this has been the case with many films before (Quills, The Last Emperor, Three Musketeers), I don't know why this film should be any different...besides, I can't think of anything more distracting than listening to a bunch of actors speaking with phony French accents for 2 hours!
I say take a chance on the film. It's definitely a thinking-person's thriller. I'd hate to see one of Michael Caine's best late-career performances go completely unnoticed.

Christmas Carol (Full Screen) [Import]
Christmas Carol (Full Screen) [Import]
DVD ~ George C. Scott
Offered by Treasure Island Emporium
Price: CDN$ 75.00
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why (Officially) I Love This Movie!, Jan. 9 2004
Every winter, I enjoy watching A Christmas Carol on TV whenever I can, and the 1984 version is my favorite. The production and performances add up to a moody, realistic and touching adaptation of the Charles Dickens' classic.
Director Clive Donner (editor of the much celebrated 1951 Alastair Sim version of Scrooge) presents a stunningly authentic recreation of Dickens' London. From effectively foggy streets to Ebenezer's own cobwebbed-infested manor, Donner provides a gritty, appropriately dark atmosphere, enhanced by the wonderful score.
The film's pacing is exquisite. In showing Ebenezer the error of his ways, the filmmakers give equal time to his past, present and future, never once lingering to the point of boredom. Thus the story seems to fly by compared to the other adaptations.
George C. Scott is excellent as Scrooge. Like all of those who've portrayed the character, his old miser starts out mean and bitter and ends up joyous and thankful! But throughout his performance, true sadness runs deep. Scott makes his emotional transformation subtle, painting a realistic portrait of a man haunted by the mistakes of his past, taking his pain out on the world.
But what separates the 1984 production of Christmas Carol from all others is the terrific supporting cast. David Warner may give the warmest performance of his career as Bob Cratchet (all the more poignant considering the many villains he's played over the years). Frank Finlay is the most compelling Jacob Marley I've ever seen. You can almost feel this man's torture just by gazing upon his unblinking expression. Edward Woodward brings great depth to the Ghost of Christmas Present, communicating tremendous power, yet just the right touch of humor. Finally, this adaptation of the Dickens' tale features the scariest, most intimidating Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come you'll find anywhere!
Most of us look forward to a healthy dose of A Christmas Carol at the end of each year and we all have our favorite version. Thanks to the handsome production values, expert pacing and perfect cast, led by the magnificent George C. Scott, I believe they truly got it right in 1984!

A Christmas Carol (Original B&W
A Christmas Carol (Original B&W
DVD ~ J.K.Rowling
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 60.38
10 used & new from CDN$ 5.47

0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Got One Thing Going For It..., Jan. 5 2004
...And that's Alastair Sim's definitive performance as Ebenezer Scrooge. His transformation from pathetic wretch to hysterical exuberance is beyond words. I'm not sure any actor will be able to duplicate such a performance. Other actors (like George C. Scott and Michael Caine) have been able to successfully provide their own interpretations however.
That said, I cannot bring myself to rate the 1951 version of Scrooge: A Christmas Carol as high as other versions. Though it's one of the shortest renditions at less than 90 minutes, it seems like one of the longest. Part of the reason why is that it spends so much time visiting Ebenezer Scrooge's past. Not only does the film touch on aspects that the other films do (the break-up with his girlfriend, etc), but they also cover his sister's death while giving birth, his first meeting with Jacob Marley, his and Marley's takeover of the business (I don't care what anyone says, no child watching this "family" film will be interested in watching business transactions like the one depicted in this scene - neither will some adults), and they even show Marley on his deathbed. I haven't counted, but this film must devote at least 30 minutes to Scrooge's past, which doesn't leave much room to cover his present and future. This is a problem, because they spend more time on how Scrooge became a bitter old miser and less time on his emotional transformation toward good-heartedness...thank goodness they had Sim to pick up the slack.
As much as it pains me to say I also have a problem with how dated the film seems to be. This movie looks more like it's from the 30's or 40's instead of 1951. I don't know if it's due to budget constraints or if they just haven't taken good care of the original film. It just looks old and washed out...and I love films from the 50's many of my favorites are from that era.
There's one more thing. It's not a big deal, but have you noticed the young actor playing Tiny Tim? I mean, he has to be at least 15 years old! I might be wrong, but I don't think "Tiny" Tim was in his mid-teens! The sight of Bob Cratchet carrying around this adolescent on one of his shoulders is hilariously absurd.
For years, the 1951 production of A Christmas Carol has been considered by many to be the best interpretation of the Dickens' classic, thanks primarily to Alastair Sim's brilliant portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge. To that, I say "Bah, humbug!" The best treatment of this tale not only needs a great performance from its lead actor, but from the entire cast. The film should also be told with just the right atmosphere and pacing. The 1951 version meets none of these criteria. When regarding the classic story of A Christmas Carol, we don't have to settle for a film that rides on the coattails of its lead actor's performance! For my money, the 1984 production of A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott has always been the best...and after viewing the 1999 Patrick Stewart film, it still is!

Christmas Carol (Full Screen) [Import]
Christmas Carol (Full Screen) [Import]
DVD ~ George C. Scott
Offered by Treasure Island Emporium
Price: CDN$ 75.00
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best All Around Version of a Christmas Classic!, Jan. 5 2004
Some people are under the impression that this is an American production of A Christmas Carol while others (namely the 1951 Alastair Sim version) are British. Truth is, while the George C. Scott 1984 version was televised on an American network, it was filmed on location in England, and presents an effectively murky, gritty atmosphere where other versions, including the most recent Patrick Stewart version, look a little too "pretty".
Perhaps most telling is that the director of the 1984 Christmas Carol is Clive Donner. Not only is he British, but he was also the editor of the 1951 version...the very same Scrooge featuring Alastair Sim's acclaimed performance! This indicates that Donner had a unique perspective when he decided to revisit A Christmas Carol. He could easily have chosen to tell the tale just as it was done in 1951, but he diverted slightly. Thus, the George C. Scott production is much more atmospheric and concentrates a little more on Scrooge's present and future whereas the Sim version devoted way too much time on Scrooge's past. In giving Scrooge's past, present and future equal time, Donner is able to depict Scrooge's emotional tranformation convincingly and realistically (having George C. Scott doesn't hurt either).
The 1951 production of Scrooge: A Christmas Carol will always have Alastair Sim's celebrated performance, but this 1984 production has become the definitive film version of the Dickens classic!

A Christmas Carol (Full Screen)
A Christmas Carol (Full Screen)
DVD ~ Patrick Stewart
Price: CDN$ 18.70
32 used & new from CDN$ 1.44

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stick with George C. Scott!, Dec 23 2003
I've recently seen this Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol for the second time in hopes that I would like it more than when I saw it last year. I didn't.
It's a handsome production...perhaps too handsome. The buildings and streets all look very quaint and clean and just so "perfect". The 1984 production with George C. Scott was much grittier and darker and really created a sense of atmosphere.
All of the supporting actors are decent in this most recent version, but not particularly memorable. For instance, the actor portraying Jacob Marley in the Stewart version has nothing on Frank Finlay, who was so chilling as Marley in 1984!
I hate to say it, but Patrick Stewart is a very inadequate Scrooge. I know Scrooge is supposed to be a hard man in the beginning of the story, but Stewart is so stoic that you simply can't read anything from his expressionless face throughout most of the film, whereas all other actor's who have played the famous Dickens' character have been able to convey the appropriate bitterness or sadness that inhabits Scrooge.
One particular choice Stewart makes is dead wrong: When Scrooge visits the "Chrismas yet to come", he begins to realize that he is the dead man everyone's talking about BEFORE he sees his name on the tombstone. It's only when he sees his name that he fully comes to terms with his impending death...Every other actor who has portrayed Scrooge has understood this, but Stewart plays the scene as if he had no idea that he was the dead person UNTIL he reads his name on the stone! This choice is wrong because it ultimately makes Scrooge look as if he doesn't truly change his ways until that very moment...when Scrooge's transformation should occur slowly with every spirit's visit!
I respect Patrick Stewart, but with his performance in A Christmas Carol, he demonstrates why he's no Alistair Sim, Albert Finney, George C. Scott or Michael Caine!

Little Voice
Little Voice
DVD ~ Michael Caine
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 44.52
13 used & new from CDN$ 2.61

5.0 out of 5 stars Deserved much more., Sept. 24 2002
This review is from: Little Voice (DVD)
I've been reading these wonderful reviews and noticing that many of them question why this movie wasn't recognized by the Academy Awards. Of course, it should have been. But I think it started when the film wasn't nominated for the Golden Globe. While it's true that three of the major cast members were nominated and Michael Caine deservedly won for Best Actor, the Hollywood Foreign Press neglected to nominate the film. Which is strange because it would've been under the category of "Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical"...and I can think of no other movie in recent memory that fits that category so perfectly, as it is both musical and funny. "Little Voice" was certainly more worthy than the critically-panned Robin Williams medical comedy, "Patch Adams", which was nominated!
Anyway, that year "Shakespeare In Love" was taking all the awards. There's no way that Gweneth Paltrow gave a better performance in a comedy/musical than Jane Horrocks, but Paltrow and her movie had more power and influence that year. Both films were distributed by MIRAMAX who apparently decided they'd have a better shot at winning awards if they concentrated more effort promoting "Shakespeare In Love" rather than the smaller, lesser seen "Little Voice"...which led to so few nominations come Oscar-time. I found it ironic that Brenda Blethyn was the only acting nomination for the Academy Award since her performance was the weakest, in my opinion. But at least it was a nomination. There was no excuse for Mr. Caine to be ignored. I read somewhere that the academy would've had no problem nominating Caine for SUPPORTING actor rather than lead. But (a) his role is definately a LEAD role, and (b) this is the same Academy that nominated Hollywood-favorite Dustin Hoffman for lead actor in "Wag The Dog" in what was basically a supporting role.
Either way, the movie got screwed. But at least some of us recognize this film's brilliance and originality. I like it when movies surprise me and show me something different. "Little Voice" does that and so much more.

Shiner [Import]
Shiner [Import]
DVD ~ Michael Caine
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 41.12
10 used & new from CDN$ 4.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Caine!, Aug. 28 2002
This review is from: Shiner [Import] (DVD)
I just watched "Shiner" a couple of days ago and some of the scenes still stay with me. It's a terrific little British gangster movie, with colorful characters and an interesting mix of drama and humor.
Basically, the plot revolves around a small-time boxing promotor with a shady background named Billy "Shiner" Simpson played my Michael Caine. Without giving away too many details, the plot involves a murder mystery and revenge. In this respect, the film is very much like Caine's 1971 ganster film, "Get Carter". The difference is that his character in "Carter" was a young cool, calculating, extremely efficient killer out for revenge. In "Shiner", his character is older, more desperate, and far less efficient. But Michael Caine's performance is a powerhouse. He portrays a man who believes himself to be larger than life and in total control, but is actually as vulnerable as the victims he bullies. The movie revolves around his character and you cannot take your eyes off him. It's a shame that the film went direct-to-video because very few people will see this amazing performance.
As for the other aspects of the film, I have no complaints. The other actor's were ideal for their roles. The jazz-filled soundrack subtly accentuates every scene. And the screenplay is filled with interesting humor and emotion, with a touch of cockney flavor.
The only real problem I have with the DVD transfer is that the audio track wasn't distributed in 5.1 surround sound, as it states on the DVD package, which is a little disappointing...maybe I just got a bad disk. But that is a small quibble considering the rewards of witnessing a great actor doing what he does best!

In My Lifetime (3CD)
In My Lifetime (3CD)
5 used & new from CDN$ 32.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant...minus one!, Feb. 28 2002
This review is from: In My Lifetime (3CD) (Audio CD)
A wonderful box set of Neil Diamond. I'm proud to be a big fan of his and this collection is about perfect. As with any collection of songs like this, however, there are going to be some that didn't make the cut, especially when covering Mr. Diamond's prolific career...but am I crazy for thinking that "Stones" should be included? That's not so much a gripe as it is a tiny disappointment. Otherwise I couldn't have asked for a better tribute to an all time great singer-songwriter!

My Life
My Life
Price: CDN$ 16.35
8 used & new from CDN$ 9.52

5.0 out of 5 stars We the lucky!, Dec 14 2000
This review is from: My Life (Audio CD)
Wow! How many of us owe a great deal of thanks to that episode of Austin City Limits? Like so many others, I had no idea who the heck this artist was. In fact, I don't listen to country much. And while I still don't, Iris Dement has become my absolute favorite singer out there. "My Life" might well be the CD of her's I listen to the most (though I hate to pick a favorite among her three albums). I fell in love from "Sweet is the Melody" to the very last track. All these other reviews will describe better than I can how good she is. I guess I just wanted to state that nobody seems to speak to my soul quite the way she can...If only I had recorded that darn show!

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