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Brazil [Import]
Brazil [Import]
7 used & new from CDN$ 12.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Merry...um...Christmas!, Dec 13 2003
This review is from: Brazil [Import] (VHS Tape)
I just want to point out that this movie is set at Christmastime, ending (apparently) on Christmas morning. This is important to the story, as it provides a forceful contrast to the bleak world of commerce and despotism which actually exists. Brazil is required holiday viewing!

Rapa Nui
Rapa Nui
VHS
5 used & new from CDN$ 18.88

4.0 out of 5 stars The "Easter" Egg Race, May 25 2003
This review is from: Rapa Nui (VHS Tape)
This movie arouses violent controversy...you either like it or hate it.
I like it.
It mixes faithful ethnographic research with a fairly interesting story (culmonating in an egg-race to beat any other). Alright, the acting is poor and the plot has some tropical-romance cliches, but the film-makers respect the facts of Easter Island's prehistory (as told in books like Aku-Aku) without the need to introduce any white explorers or other people with whom we are supposed to identify.
Nor has any attempt been made to saddle the actors with hokey native accents; they speak English with their own accents - usually New Zealand - and get on with saying whatever they have to say in unadorned fashion. Just the way it would have seemed to us if we had been part of that society. None of that "Me Tarzan, you Jane" syntax. The actors are all Polynesian, except Morales and Holt, and they seem ethnically convincing.
The love-story seems intrusively modern, but there's no reason to think such things didn't happen in ancient times. It ends up like a combination of Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies.
The masterpiece in this genre is Tabu (1931); but the 1990's were a low point in film, and Rapa Nui is one of the better efforts of the decade.

Gimmi Shelter
Gimmi Shelter
VHS

5.0 out of 5 stars STONE-ROCK, Dec 4 2002
This review is from: Gimmi Shelter (VHS Tape)
Rock videos mean very little to me, but Gimme Shelter has a real story to tell. I always had a thing for intelligent horror movies, and this has to be one of the best. It actually resembles Lord of the Flies in the way it shows a crowd of civilised people gradually reverting to savagery; but it's even better because it's live footage of a real incident.
Recommended for people who enjoy A Clockwork Orange or Aguirre, The Wrath OF God.

Black Orpheus
Black Orpheus
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 34.95
11 used & new from CDN$ 10.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Symphony of the Jungle, Aug. 31 2002
This review is from: Black Orpheus (Audio CD)
This "soundtrack recording" is a work of art in its own right. There are many details here that I don't remember from the movie. For instance, Manha de Carnaval begins with a long instrumental with tropical bird songs - very beautiful (like a jungle orchestra), but the birdsong wasn't that noticeable in the movie. Likewise, there is a reprise of it sung by Euridyce, something I certainly don't remember.

No matter, it works very beautifully this way, And it's useful to hear the music presented for its own sake - so you should have both the movie and the soundtrack. Forget about this thing stating the bossa nova fad, it's gorgeous just for itself.
If you enjoy this, you'll probably enjoy Forest of the Amazon (by Villa-Lobos).

The Painted Bird
The Painted Bird
by Jerzy Kosinski
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.96
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Most Frightening Book Ever Written, Aug. 27 2002
This review is from: The Painted Bird (Paperback)
I was in hospital recovering from a back operation when I shuffled off to the library to see what I could find. There was only one decent book in it - The Painted Bird. It really put the world in perspective for me; I read it many times over during the next few weeks, and I have kept it close at hand in the 12 years since.
It explains human nature and society with a clarity that no other book can achieve; only Gulliver's Travels and Macbeth come close. As pretygrrl said, the images "are absolutely unforgettable" "and yet, this book is impossible to put down". It is a pity that some readers think the book is defamatory to the human race, or to Polish peasants; quit fooling yourself...this is what human beings are like!
The title image derives fro a bird-catcher and -seller who in a moment of drunkenness takes one of his birds, paints his feathers in strange, gaudy colours, then releases him. The bird flies back to his flock...which tears him to pieces as an unrecognizable outsider. This is almost what happens to the young boy on the run in wartime Poland, as his skin-colour is slightly darker, and the peasants torture and beat him.
I have lived in different parts of the world and I feel like a stranger everywhere I go. But I regard Kosinski as a fellow spirit, along with Kafka and Genet, so my country is the"Republic of Letters.
This book is written in simple language that small children can understand; I would like to know what elementary school students think of this book.

Der Freischutz Comp
Der Freischutz Comp
Price: CDN$ 24.04
31 used & new from CDN$ 15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Viktoria! Der Meister soll leben!, July 14 2002
This review is from: Der Freischutz Comp (Audio CD)
I have had this recording for 25 years...I have both LP and CD. It fully deserves all the awards it got, and is one of the great recordings of the 20th century. The music is direct and forceful; check out the introduction to Kaspar's Drinking Song for some terrifically driving downbeats. During the casting of the magic bullets in the Wolf's Glen at midnight, you really feel as if the the natural world has been turned askew. All this is helped by Weber's decision to have the intervening dialogue spoken rather than subject us to dreary recitative. Even people who don't like opera will get a charge out of this one, which opens and closes to the sound of gunfire. The Huntsmen's Chorus has to be one of the most vigorous numbers in all of classical opera, and it is brilliantly rendered here.
It has been claimed that the peasants' dance is played too fast, but that brings out these people's frantic search for enjoyment. The peasants are not really happy, as you can tell from the way they heckle Max. Jealousy, rivalry, resentment...these are the prevailing feelings which pave the way for the strange events that follow. And it's wonderful the way the last notes of the dance fade into the soliloquy Länger traf ich nicht die Qualen.
This recording is done by the orchestra Weber once directed, Staatskappelle Dresden. The events in the story take place in the strange sandstone hills and dense forests just south of the city (so beautifully portrayed by Weber's contemporary Caspar David Friedrich), so the musicians are able to imbibe the atmosphere. This was all part of East Germany at the time of performance, so the ambience of cruelty and hypocrisy would easily be accessible to the performers. I knew a young lady who visited Dresden just after reunification and exclaimed "the city was full of ghosts".
Carlos Kleiber conducts with great passion. He grew up and studied music in Buenos Aires, where his father Erich was a conductor at the Teatro Colón (associated with such great names as Manuel de Falla), and Carlos seems to have picked up a certain amount of Latino panache. No musical collection is complete without this work.

The Overcoat
The Overcoat
Price: CDN$ 20.17
3 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Dimitri in a Jolly Mood, July 14 2002
This review is from: The Overcoat (Audio CD)
This music was selected from Shostakovich's lesser known works to accompany a mimed version of Gogol's story The Overcoat, about a poor and very humble clerk lost in the woodwork of the big city. The story at first seems like low comedy, mock-heroic, but such is Gogol's sympathy for his characters that this soon acquires the feel of a genuine tragedy. The clerk, Akaki, becomes the butt of ridicule to his fellow clerks until he gets a gorgeous new coat, when he is wined and dined. Then his coat is stolen and he goes mad.
The music selected shows us the light and ironic side of Shostakovich, with much use of the saxophone. Especially notable are some blue waltzes which sound funny and elegant all at once, and have the ability to make you feel you're floating on air. This disc is recommended to those who know Shostakovich only as the gloomy and titanic composer of the 5th and 10th symphonies.

The Uninvited [Import]
The Uninvited [Import]
Offered by Just Save
Price: CDN$ 19.88
3 used & new from CDN$ 19.88

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Unwanted, July 13 2002
This review is from: The Uninvited [Import] (VHS Tape)
I saw this recommended by a few people reviewing The Haunting(1963), so I thought it might be good. What a disappointment.
Except for the girl, the acting is atrocious and overdone, 1930s style. They even have the temerity to show the ghost and give us a logical explanation of events. Bang goes all sense of mystery and intrigue.
The more this movie sinks in, the more it becomes obvious that it's a cheap imitation of Rebecca(1940). The coastal setting, the dead hand of the past, the sexual intrigue...the similarities go on. But Rebecca is scary (if a bit slow-starting)
whereas this only offers a bit of nice scenery.
Gail Russell does a great job as Stella, just exactly what you'd expect from a sensitive girl in such a situation; hence 2 stars.
Watch Rebecca to appreciate the difference between acting and hamming. If you really want to be scared, watch The Haunting.

Furtwängler: Best of the World War II Legacy*4 CDs Special Price*
Furtwängler: Best of the World War II Legacy*4 CDs Special Price*
Price: CDN$ 48.76
12 used & new from CDN$ 48.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Recording Ever Made., July 13 2002
Since I was a kid, I could hear people speak about Furtwangler's wartime performances (notably the Berlin 9th) with whispers, and I knew they must be something special. For years I had to make do with the 1951 Bayreuth 9th on LP...great, but not quite the same.
Imagine my delight when I came across this set giving me just what I had dreamed of. I bought it immediately and saved it for the most special occasions. You must always listen to it (the 9th) in your bed, in the dark; you'll think the air force is dropping bombs on you. I typically listen to it at 3 am after after some frazzling experience which puts me in the mood to appreciate Furtwangler. He summons all the anguish that the deaf Beethoven would have felt when composing this work, and he pours out his soul in trying to communicate this message to his countrymen. The way the recording overemphasizes the brass and tympani adds to the excitement, especially in the first movement (the best). Yet when the chorus comes in at the end, the effect is angelic. Truly an experience to leave you overwhelmed for days afterwards.
(The 3rd and the 5th have a similar effect. The 6th is less successful, being a light-hearted work performed under trying circumstances.)
Furtwangler is much more interesting when interpreting a humanist like Beethoven than a bombastic fool like Wagner. Beethoven provokes him to confront and re-examine his own mystical philosophy, and the result sheds new light on both composer and conductor.
I cant understand why the music editor has not put this on his list of Essential Furtwangler.

Maria de Buenos Aires
Maria de Buenos Aires
Price: CDN$ 39.71
18 used & new from CDN$ 6.62

5.0 out of 5 stars Overwhelming and Addictive, June 17 2002
This review is from: Maria de Buenos Aires (Audio CD)
Since I started listening to this masterpiece, all the other music I used to like seems flat and stale. Piazzola-you swine-give me back my Bach, Beethoven, Britten, Weber...rant...snarl...

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