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Reviews Written by
kendall lopere (H-Town, Tx, USA)

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Maximum Overdrive (Widescreen) [Import]
Maximum Overdrive (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Emilio Estevez
Offered by 5A/30 Entertainment
Price: CDN$ 81.83
8 used & new from CDN$ 26.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Post-Blackout viewing, Sept. 2 2003
Anyone caught in the Blackout of 2003 must surely have thought of this movie. When the T.V. stopped working, the familiar drone of the fridge was eerily gone and trucks kept rumbling by on the unlit streets... all that was missing was the psychotic roar of a lawnmower springing to life and chasing you down the street!
I have two confessions to make.
1) I hate almost all Stephen King adaptions except two.
2) The two I like are Carrie and Maximum Overdrive.
Maximum Overdrive is a great film (hear me out before clicking on the "Unhelpful review" button!).
First of all, it is set in a situation that we can all relate to, everyday life in an urban environment, compare this with an empty hotel at the top of a mountain for example.
It preys on one of our biggest 21st Century fears, that we are no longer in control of our environment. Humankind has become so detached from the everyday rigours of surviving that our ancestors went through that we have no idea what we would do if our civilization broke down. No electricity, no fridge, no food, no machines, no information, no phones. Maximum Overdrive brings these fears to life, and then adds the horrific twist, that the machines then turn on their masters, although slightly after the Terminator franchise had started rolling. Surely this fear is easier to relate to than that the girl you bully at school may turn out to possess supernatural powers she can deploy for revenge purposes...
The movie also deals with alienation while in an urban environment. Like the group stuck in the mall in George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead", the people isolated in the truck stop are at once in a familiar environment, and at the same time stuck in a totally foreign world, making it easier for the viewer to relate, and amplifying the horror felt watching it.
The best bits of the film occur in the opening sequences, when the machines go crazy, decimating the world's humans. The middle section deals with the increasing tensions between the people caught in the truck seige and the final part deals with their escape and eventual triumph over the machines, culminating in Emilio Estevez's final, hilarious quote...
Maximum Overdrive is a fantastic modern horror movie, bringing terror to familiar situations, and Post-Blackout, I recommend you watch this movie again and allow yourself to think "What if..."

by Donald L. Turcotte
Edition: Paperback
14 used & new from CDN$ 31.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Life in the real world..., Sept. 1 2003
This review is from: Geodynamics (Paperback)
"Geodynamics" has been a classic text in the field of, well, Geodynamics since the first edition came out, and it remains a brave attempt to squeeze a large amount of detail into one volume. In many ways however, this attempt is misguided. The material suffers from overcrowding in many chapters, and different approaches are used to solve the same problem, giving wildly different answers, with no attempt made to qualify which method is accepted as the most realistic.
A fairly comprehensive set of questions are liberally sprinkled throughout each chapter, although the one-number answers at the back of the book are usually insufficient, and some brief explanation would greatly enhance user-friendliness.
The main problem I found with this textbook however, is the inability to link the numerical methods presented with real world situations. The complexities of plate deformation for example are reduced to a set of sections on beam-bending, with little or no attempt at the end to draw the lessons learnt from the exercise back into some meaningful discussion of how the earth behaves. This is a common failure of analytical approaches to Earth Science problems, that the construction of a mathematical framework becomes an end in itself, and that real data are ignored or manipulated to shoehorn them into the predictions of the model. "Geodynamics" is a good summary of the techniques used to try to understand the workings of the earth, but often leaves one with a hollow feeling that one hasn't really learned anything about the earth itself at the end of each chapter.

The Mechanics of Earthquakes and Faulting
The Mechanics of Earthquakes and Faulting
by Christopher H. Scholz
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 131.95
32 used & new from CDN$ 70.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Faultless book on faults?, Sept. 1 2003
Christopher Scholz has written a welcome update to the classic 1990 edition of his book, and if you thought that Crustal Deformation was a field where nothing exciting happens, think again! Substantial chunks of the book have been re-written and re-organized to bring the text bang up-to-date with the cutting edge of tectonics and rock mechanics research.
The beauty of this book is that Scholz, along with his students and research associates, basically has been the cutting edge of research in this field for the past 30 years. The book therefore reads as a guide to the evolution of ideas and a personal memoir of scientific exploration, while allowing the reader to follow the same thought processes, and more fully understand what we currently think regarding these subjects.
The text is a monograph, quite different from the usual condescending tone found in textbooks, and can be understood and appreciated by readers of widely differing abilities, from interested laymen to fellow researchers. Thorough explanations are given for each topic, with examples taken from actual scientific papers, putting the reader in touch with the original papers, a glaring omission in many other textbooks. The language is never more complicated than it needs to be, and Scholz's straight-forward explanations and no-nonsense style make comprehension almost too easy, leaving the reader a real feeling that one has learned something at the end, which will come as a breath of fresh air to any student that has suffered through a horribly dull and irrelevent lecture, only to remain scratching their head at the end.
The book is a tribute to the intellect and longeivity of the man's career, blessed as he is with a happy knack for being proven "right" by the passing of time, and continuing accumulation of research results. A classic text, and again, a must-read for anyone with a desire to know more about the planet we live on.

Sun Is Often Out, the
Sun Is Often Out, the
Offered by nagiry
Price: CDN$ 8.29
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Best of Britpop, Aug. 30 2003
This review is from: Sun Is Often Out, the (Audio CD)
The Longpigs first came to prominence in the U.K. in 1995, and this, their debut album showcases their incredible talents. This album does not have a single bad track. In between the opening chords of the first track and the closing drone of the hidden bonus song the Longpigs sketch out a landscape of distorted guitars, off-beat rhythms, gloriously impenetrable lyrics and impossibly high vocal lines that is uniquely their own. The first four tracks were released as singles and charted respectably in the U.K., and the rest of the ablum extends their vision and scope further while never straying too far from the Longpigs sound. The classic Longpigs sound is showcased on "She said". It builds and builds, it breaks down, it restarts, Crispin screeches lines like "As a matter of fact, i don't like to be scented so i'd like to smell myself instead", the guitars crunch and it's all over. Perfect 3 minute pop songs have never been this weird or crammed full of this many hooks. Other album highlighs include the plaintive sort-of-love song, "On and On", the crazy time signatures and speed changes on "Elvis" and the revivial of the quiet/loud dynamic on "All Hype".
The record still sounds fresh today, and if you like intelligent rock music, and if you agree that "The Bends" is the only Radiohead album worth worrying about, you'll love this.
Sadly the Longpigs were dealt a cruel hand by fate. The Britpop bubble burst in 1997, moving on to the po-faced mournings of the Verve and later Radiohead, and the Longpigs changed to a more sober, synth-laced sound, showcased on their second album, "Mobile Home"(1999). Gone were the 3 minute pop songs, gone were the hooks, gone was the off-kilter weirdness, and sadly gone were the tunes. It bombed. "The Sun is often out" is a poignant legacy to what might have been, but also a beautiful celebration of what was.

Suddenly, Last Summer [Import]
Suddenly, Last Summer [Import]
DVD ~ Elizabeth Taylor
Offered by Paragon OS3
Price: CDN$ 34.88
10 used & new from CDN$ 5.96

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This modern world, Aug. 30 2003
The question here is "How do one view a movie that's approaching its 50th Birthday?". All movies are products of their era but as times have changed so much it becomes increasingly difficult to identify with stories from the last decade, never mind the last generation.
The DVD blurb praises the way the movie treats "the then taboo subjects of homosexuality, prostitution and cannibalism" (although I'd suggest that cannibalism is still taboo...), although really none of these words is mentioned, and in fact, any specific mention of the terms is couched in euphemism and subterfuge that one almost wonders how an audience in 1959 (that isn't as savvy with homosexuality, prostitution and cannibalism as we are) would even have understood what was going on.
So to view the movie in modern terms is quite unfair. We're all familiar enough with Mental Health to condemn the idea of a lobotomy on a girl whose quite clearly suffering from some kind of repressed memory due to extreme trauma, we'd all happily call the mother out on her gay son's use of underage prostiutes, and the camera work and slow-moving dialogue heavy plots are intolerable to a young ADD audience brought up on Nintendo and car commericals. So I'm afraid as a modern viewer it's hard to watch this movie for anything but historical interest. It hasn't aged well and it's ground-breaking subject matter is now commonplace.
Two thoughts stay with me in closing though. Firstly the assumption in the movie that because Sebastian was homosexual, he was a pederast and had a voracious sexual appetite not only offends modern sensibilities, but also must've been difficult for Montgomery Clift to deal with.
Secondly, Elizabeth Taylor is beautiful, voluptuous and sexy, yet she'd be considered far to chubby to star as a sex symbol in a modern Hollywood movie.
The world moves on, but doesn't always get better...

Secretary [Import]
Secretary [Import]
DVD ~ James Spader
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 58.42
13 used & new from CDN$ 11.21

3.0 out of 5 stars Making the case for half stars...., Aug. 29 2003
This review is from: Secretary [Import] (DVD)
Secretary is a 3 1/2 star movie, unfortunatley Amazon doesn't allow one to be so picky and we must choose between 3 and 4 stars. I enjoyed Secretary a lot while watching it, however I feel it never quite attains 4 star status, although to condemn it to the level of the 3's seems a trifle harsh.
The movie itself suffers from the same indecision. It is unsure whether to be a campy play on an S&M relationship, or whether to be a serious Solondz-esque examination of the dark side of the suburbs. In the end it fails to achieve either. The plot of the movie has been adequately described by other reviewers, and one doesn't want to give too much away. The movie itself can be split into 3 main sections, which i shall name after the key ideas - Degredation, Devotion and Disgust.
Degredation - The start of the movie revolves around degredation. The central character, Lee, is a self-abuser, freshly released from and institution. In the minds of the writers, this means she needs a new pastime to stop her from cutting herself. The self bause here though is never shown on screen, making it hard for us to relate to the character - i think this is a cowardly move on behalf of the director. What happened, he didn't want to scare off the suburbanites? Anyway, while the self abuse is pretty much left to our imagination, we are treated to a full rendition of the flowering relationship between her and her passive/aggressive boss. Dr Grey is a lawyer with a particularily strong line in tough love, and we get to watch his transformation from a "Bottom" to a "Top", as he gets over the loss of his previous mistress and sets about enslaving Lee. To enslave her me must first degrade her, and the most interesting scene in the first 1/3 of the movie occurs when he forces Lee to go dumpster-diving for a document he carelessly threw out. The juxtaposition of her, in short skirt and high heels, climing into a dumpster and playing in the trash forces him to do some heavy exercise, presumably to punish himself both for the rising sexual urge and for degrading her in the first place.
The themes are expanded in the second third of the movie, which i refer to as Devotion. Here the lines between their work relationship and master/slave relationship are played out in a series of interesting scenes (her red pen fetish, his all-consuming guilt), and then increasingly blurred as these worlds become inseparable. All good things must come to an end though, and she has to go and spoil everything by falling in love with him. Chicks, eh? While his revulsion at his own acts causes him to push her away. Men, eh? This is where the movie works best, exploring the self-destructive streak in all of us in our quest for love, using S&M merely as a metaphor for our own internally paradoxical desires to be in control of our world and hopelessly dependant on someone else. You could get freudian here and delve into Eodipal undercurrants, but space forbits it here...
I said the end of the movie is characterized by Disgust. That was all mine. Having set up an interesting premise and painted detailed portraits of the human psyche, the film makers run out of ideas and suddenly try to bring the movie to an end as abruptly as possible. I don't want to "spoil" the ending, but it steals from Kafka's "Hunger Arist" short story, Tom Robbins' "Still Life With Woodpecker" novel and Radiohead's "Just" video and in the end plays more like a Renee Zelwegger film, which is ultimately a shame, and reduces the movie to the three star level.
This is one of the sexiest movies i've seen all year - some of the scenes in the middle third are charged with erotic tension without resorting to nudity or even overt sexuality, however in the end (like the movie's best set pieces...) it is ultimately unsatisfying and one is left somewhat unfulfiled.
( As a sidenote, I wonder if genuine S&M afficinados find the premise that one must be disturbed or unhinged to enjoy S&M ill-educated or just insulting...)
A friend of mine saw this movie and walked out halfway though. I recommend oy uwalk out 2/3 of the way though and leave it perfect in your mind....

Welcome Interstate Managers
Welcome Interstate Managers
Price: CDN$ 16.52
42 used & new from CDN$ 1.24

5.0 out of 5 stars I was killed by a cellular phone explosion..., Aug. 26 2003
To me, this is the best album of the year. In fact, it's probably my favourite album since "Utopia Parkway" came out in 1999. The Fountains of Wayne have hit on a truely winning formula that has left their back catalogue unimpeachable. Any criticism of them is negated by the irony and cynicsm that drips from their lyrics (and we're not talking "trucker hat/PBR" kind of irony here...).
Too funny? Self-deprecating. Too chirpy? Bittersweet. Too derivative? Drop in the ending of "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles ("Leave the Biker", from FOW) or even rip-off yourself, tongue firmly in cheek (3/4 way into Little Red Light, from W.I.M.)
The Fountains of Wayne live in a concept world designed to make us empathize more with the real world, and their latest album expands their vision more fully than the last two. Yet the band's irony makes these viginettes all the more poignant, and that surely is the key to thier brilliance.
Will this album make them more famous? Probably, as Stacy's Mom works her way through MTV2 into the hearts and minds of the nation's kids.
Do they deserve to be more famous? Hell Yeah! They can squeeze more ideas into a 2 1/2 minute pop song than many bands fit into a career.
The big question is, though - Do I want them to be more famous? Or would i prefer to think this world existed only for my entertainment, and that i was the only person in the world that owned the only album ever, to namecheck both the Tappan-Zee bridge and Nyack...
Sigh, ok world, you can share....

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