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Rick M. Pilotte "Author, artist, and solver of ancient mysteries" (Victoria BC Canada)

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Ma & Pa Kettle Collection
Ma & Pa Kettle Collection
Price: CDN$ 12.83
23 used & new from CDN$ 9.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Ten Complete Fun Family Films, Dec 19 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ma & Pa Kettle Collection (DVD)
Not only a bonus of a complete ten movie series, they are all fun and family friendly. Kilbride (Pa) only stared in the first 8 as he disliked the role. The 9th film only has letters from "pa" read and the tenth film has a new "Pa". Though it's immediately apparent he's not the same pa, after watching the film I had a hard time recalling the face of Kilbride, so I guess he fit the role. Ma (Main, was good in most of the films, but it was apparent after a while she was now and then hamming it up for the role, but overall her role was consistent.

The movies are a sort of early Beverly Hillbillies but with more kids (15) To not watch them too fast i spread the viewing over a long time. I re-watched a couple and they were still fun. less than a year later. The humor varies from slapstick and silly to folksy. I enjoyed all of the ten though some were better than others but I would say at least 7 were just comfy cosey oh goodie another Ma and Pa movie I couldn't wait to watch. some of the jokes were lame and predictable, but in some ways that was also part of their charm. If your sick of people getting blowed up real good, and blud n guts and sick icky bedroom scenes and want just some good old fashioned fun, you probably couldn't get a better ten film set.

I had no trouble at all with loading any of the 5 discs on my cheap $10 excess cargo dvd player and only spotted one tiny glitch in the playing, which might have been a fluke.

Four Classic Silent Westerns: The Ruse (1915) / The Great Train Robbery (1903) / Arizona Wooing (1915) / Out West (1921)
Four Classic Silent Westerns: The Ruse (1915) / The Great Train Robbery (1903) / Arizona Wooing (1915) / Out West (1921)
DVD ~ William S. Hart
Price: CDN$ 6.98
17 used & new from CDN$ 4.68

4.0 out of 5 stars a lower quality Hart and four shorts in total., May 12 2014
make no mistake, this is still a very fun set of four silent movies. However having seen more Hart movies, this 1915 offering is a bit to well below par compared to his later efforts...including another one from this same year. It is for one, very short(all four movies add up to a mere 58 minutes and I think this one was about 17 minutes but don't recall exactly) The story is well edited so your not lost like in other silent from this period... and indeed all four were easy to follow, so on that score it was better than average. They get a lot of story in a short time and it could easily be a longer movie, but for 1915 it's about average. Though this is a "western theme set" this movie is set in Chicago for 90% of the show...though painfully sparse to nonexistent for street scenes...so likely not shot anywhere near Chicago.

The Great Train Robbery is on other video sets so for the most part this would be a duplicate in anyone's collection. Still it appears to be a later reproduction example. It speaks to an audience saying that they might not recall this movie but their dad's would. This version also appeared to be a bit longer than my other one and a better surviving example, but I did not watch my other example to compare, but this was my impression...it just didn't seem as disjointed as I recall it...so it might be an early well preserved example shown to audiences around 1930 and then saved.

An Arizona Wooing: you have to know stuff to fully get what the movie is about. Cattle and sheep farmers were constantly fighting in the old days and this movie assumes you knew that as it was filmed during the times. But a newcomer might not get it as they don't do a talking card to explain what the 'beef' is all about which is what the entire movie is about. Still it does eventually get explained. It's a very short movie with what could easily be a feature length story so the story is pretty compressed. Typical fare for this time period(1915). Still it was fun with a typical happy ending.

Though William Hart is fare to make as the leading movie to draw buyers, this last movie is possibly as good in the comedy class. This last offering (Out West) was a real off beat comedy and an early example of what would later likely be a Laurel and Hardy or three stooges type of film. However looking at the box, I just realized this movie is 1926! so for that period this would be something of a retro grade quality silent (or a degraded example) and a swipe or at least a prototype for the stooges or Laurel and Hardy.I'm willing to bet they stole at least one gag Will Rogers.(Butter churn) There were some clever gags and possible some original ones too...a bit gimmicky but why not. But it really is different in many ways from other comedies. The talking cards on this one were cut at the sides(I think it was this one) ...you could decipher what was missing but you might have to stop the movie to do so.

That said all four movies though short, were fun and didn't lose you in their editing, and In all four shows I don't recall the music being an issue.

Oliver Twist (Silent)
Oliver Twist (Silent)
DVD ~ Lon Chaney
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 5.02
15 used & new from CDN$ 5.02

5.0 out of 5 stars well edited, and great story, May 12 2014
This review is from: Oliver Twist (Silent) (DVD)
The story is well told here, and easy to follow. All too often things are disjointed and you are catching up...not here. Curiously this version (74 minutes) is 3 minutes shorter than another version I have (77 minutes) which I have discovered had some scenes deliberately edited out! so I have two versions and it's become apparent that neither is a complete version. Still, if something is missing it wasn't obvious.
One bothersome thing is the treatment of the musical score. this is a classic movie so they have shied away from putting interpretive score over it but have just played classical music over it which rarely matches the scenes it's played over. I guess that comes from low budget examples?
One thing some might have missed is Dickens humour is tossed in the story as he clearly is throwing in a little exaggeration such as the reactions to the "more soup!" scenes. If you haven't watched silent movies this is a very good example of one (except the musical over score) and it might make you a fan of the genre.

Oliver Twist & Keystone Cops [Import]
Oliver Twist & Keystone Cops [Import]

4.0 out of 5 stars neutered /edited like some overly violent current day movie and subjected to hyper nanny state views., May 12 2014
I have two versions of Oliver Twist so when I watched one I watched this one afterwards to compare and something popped out. They edited at least two scenes out! this was not random missing bits, but this was clearly edited out. Talk about revisionism! One scene has the bad guy threatening Oliver with a gun if he doesn't play ball...but this is missing in this version, so what it does to the scene creates confusion as to a women's reaction. The other scene edited has slipped my mind but of a similar nature which just confirms the movie was edited. What's curious though, is this version is actually 3 minutes LONGER than my other version!
One bother is with this obviously classic silent movie is they have failed to render due care with music added to it. they just played classical music all through it with no attention to the scenes during which it is played over, so sometimes it's distracting and sometimes it's almost ...silent.
You also get a 56 minute tape of keystone cops. I did enjoy both tapes, but as yet I don't know if they've played nanny state with this version as yet.

Finding Forrester
Finding Forrester
VHS
Offered by vidsale
Price: CDN$ 21.95
7 used & new from CDN$ 0.75

5.0 out of 5 stars refreshing quality, May 5 2014
This review is from: Finding Forrester (VHS Tape)
I loved it. At the end I Had a lump in the through and something in my eye. At first i wondered what the heck...where's this going? Give it time. This is no explosions and action thriller type of film so if you're looking for that.. move on. This one you have to actually pay attention. I was VERY impressed with this Bob Brown chap. His acting wasn't overdone in the least. very convincing.... He just came off natural.
For the prude people... It's nice to see recent movies that don't push sex and violence on you to try and sell their product. Except for the odd cuss word from Sean, (though very in charachter) this was a squeaky clean movie. There was the odd slip or weakness in the storyline connectors one might glimpse after the movies over, but still a real nice movie. I woke up the next morning still enjoying it.
The main character was actually a nice kid trying to fit in but his passion of writing found him out and he gets promoted to a real school but with a teacher who becomes an adversary but he also meets this phenomenal recluse of a writer (Sean Connery) and the friendship that comes out of this meeting changes both their lives. Though perhaps not a knock-'em sock-'em thriller, but if you stick with it you just might really enjoy this one.

Old Oregon Trail (1928) / Revenge On The Range (1925)
Old Oregon Trail (1928) / Revenge On The Range (1925)
DVD ~ Art Mix
Price: CDN$ 6.98
18 used & new from CDN$ 3.48

4.0 out of 5 stars blatant anachronistic goofup / first simulsound recording?, April 17 2014
The box says 154 minutes. it's actually about only 45 minutes.(did I miss something?...I saw all the features mentioned on the box...?) I had a horrific time loading this movie. the first time it took about 8 tries to get it to load, the second about 30 tries. The music for the feature film is all over the place...just anything that they can use, all sorts of jingles and tunes... but never really distracting.
The first movie has pretty good quality example and all in sepia tone. The anachronism is the hero and heroin meet on the Oregon trail in the late 19th century. then they meet again with 1920's cars in the picture and 1920's farm machinery, not aged a minute!..and the girl still single? The movie is a bit interesting in seeing farm work and machinery in use, even though only for a short bit. The story is OK. but with the typical coincidental meetings of people that happen... just in time.
The second "movie" (about 9 1/2 minutes) was a bit of a shock and a real hoot. The shock was it looked about 1930-35 with narration, but it's 1925! I mean They made a record to be played simultaneously with the movie! Isn't that what they did with Al Jolson and "Mammy"?...considered to be the first talkie?, But this movie is a year or more older! It was an ok story, but the sound effects I thought were funny. Ok there weren't many ..maybe just the horse hoofs, but I thought they were a scream. There are no talking cards, just narration, a real different sort of "silent" era movie.

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots
by Deborah Feldman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.71
55 used & new from CDN$ 1.60

3.0 out of 5 stars Rejecting a sect is one thing, putting out dirty laundry is another, April 7 2014
As a Gentile or "Goya" and grasping that Jews are either God's Blessings or examples to the nations(For example 25% of Nobel prize winners are Jewish though only representing 1 10th of 1% of earths population) , yet not having not heard of Hasidic Jews before, I read a little bit of this book at a friend’s place, and next visit I just kept reading. It was interesting to hear about a segment of Jews that turn out to be similar in the bottom line to semi Christian groups that break away from mainstream branches with their own heretical private versions or interpretations of the bible.

Like Jehovah Witness that refuse the Godhead of Christ, Catholics that put Mary as Queen of Heaven, and intercessor instead of Christ and The Mormons complete replacement of the bible with their own non biblical fantasies and traditions(Book of Mormon), these Hasidics reject the Torah’ clear statement of Aaron’s Priesthood in favour of someone I’d never heard of before to justify Priests and Rabbi’s that don’t come from Aarons lineage. And like these other segments of Religious society, they come up with sectarian and cultic practices that further distinguish their religions from mainstream groups, often in extreme ways. And as is all too often the case with Religions that don’t quite align with the biblical word, adherents become increasingly frustrated with what become blatantly obvious flaws in the religions they are forced to adhere to and eventually reject them wholeheartedly, often throwing out the baby with the bathwater in the process. So in this way this book was fascinating to see from a Jewish Woman’s perspective.

However from her marriage point onward this book went downhill fast, and got downright bothersome. Though the names were changed to protect certain people spoken of, it would have to be painfully obvious who she was writing about to those that knew her. Her distasteful dragging through the mud of her husband and his relatives was little more than shallow vicious gossip. It was an attack with the most private segments of married life laid bare for all to witness under the guise ‘informing’ the public. She could have put the practices and beliefs out there without the dirty laundry, But instead it came across like whining and making excuses for her behaviour and “poor me’s” trying to justify to we who read her rejection of her lifestyle, and comes across worse than Feminists attacks on all men. And indeed she ends up identifying herself as a feminist. I wonder if twisted religious beliefs around the world, along with selfish men in the secular business world, combined with Hollywood, haven’t turned so many women away from Faith and men, in favour of hateful rebellions attacks toward the same.

Though she appears to have the opportunity to compare her Hasidic religious roots to the alternatives Jewish segments out there, she chooses rather to reject it all in favour of “freedom”, not grasping that lives of sin or Secularism, are every bit as enslaving too, becoming slaves to our desires instead. She does however note that she has to bring up her child in orthodox ways in order to keep him and I would hope at some point she would compare various Jewish lifestyles and beliefs to her former Hasidic lifestyle and glean valuable truths and values from them.
She also does make interesting observations of how her getting American secular clothing and mingling with secular American women and then consequently finding no differences in how women in general perceive and revolve around the things and status’ in their lives despite religious or non religious views.
Thus the latter half of the book in general undoes any positive comprehension of the Hasidic Jews the first half makes clear as we get repulsed by her whining and laying out of dirty laundry to justify her own direction and divorce.

Bat (Silent)
Bat (Silent)
DVD ~ Louise Fazenda
Price: CDN$ 6.98
18 used & new from CDN$ 3.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Batman fans must get this movie! secret rooms, hysterical maid, Moidah, and even the apparent origin of BATMAN!, April 4 2014
This review is from: Bat (Silent) (DVD)
I'm guessing some people would think this movie is a bit lame, but I liked it plenty. It has a nifty silent era feel to it. The hysterical maid was a bit overdone and it always seemed to be her that saw important stuff no one else did...almost standard fare for this type of movie. This is supposedly a "Horror" but it's not, it's more of a mystery just set in a spooky old house with what appear to be 20 foot ceilings in some places!

There's a bank robbery and the money is never found. There's secret identities, who done it, and why so many possible villains?... to keep us in the dark and always guessing.(I didn't figure it out either) The calm cool matron of the house was a neat character too. The doors of this mansion are bordering on ridiculous in their height.... lots of little things to enjoy in the background. There was a point when someone sneaks into the house with three or four people in the room...not too likely. The music generally was fitting...though it started out with overbearing organ music but thankfully that was abandoned quickly.

What soon became apparent, was the similarity between the Bat and stuff surrounding him and the famous Batman...it can't be a coincidence. I have to think Bob Kane had this movie in mind when he created the Batman a dozen years later.(reading some reviews after writing this confirmed this observation) Even the silhouette or shadow of the bat and Batman in the early issues was a dead ringer. Bat signals and everything, the connections are unmistakeable. If you are a Batman fan this movie is a must see.

There are a bunch of miniature sets as backdrops for scene changes or for continuity sake, that though are obviously miniature, are still well done and a real neat addition to this cool film.
Once again do NOT read the back of the box before you watch the movie, as it just gives away too much of the story, not to mention it also made the mistake of saying the loot was $20,000 when it was $200,000.oo.
The lighting was good too as it was never too dark to see what was going on even though the entire movie was almost all set in a gloomy house. Apparently this was all shot at night so the lighting in that case is amazing.

This a full length silent at 88 minutes so it's a good deal that way too, as often they are only about an hour. The quality of the finished movie print was better than average with only a few film breaks here and there with very little damage to the film as well, generally a very nice surviving example.

The Mark Of Zorro (1919) [Import]
The Mark Of Zorro (1919) [Import]
DVD ~ Sr. Noah Beery
Offered by Just 4 Games
Price: CDN$ 12.95
10 used & new from CDN$ 4.49

5.0 out of 5 stars you can't go wrong with this one, April 2 2014
Even though I'd seen this one before, it was still great to watch it again. I was temporarily confused by the entry into the movie as I didn't realize it had loaded. but soon figured that one out. This is a classic and one of the best silents around. Though I think the musical score was different from the one I'd seen before, I really don't know, as I hardly noticed the music as the story is that full and attention grabbing.
If you don't know Douglas Fairbanks and his being renown for his athleticism, this is fun even on that level. Though they don't quite come under the classification as Stunts, well if climbing the side of the building is normal, he is fun to watch for many reasons. Very clever sequences through out the movie.
I've seen a recent version of Zorro and it was every bit as good as this one. Even though this is silent it is NOT boring for even a minute. OK maybe I'm so used to silents say compared to explosions and nastiness of the modern screenplays so if your looking for that well maybe this movie will only be fun.
The unveiling is everything you could hope for and more, from the look on the heroin's face to the reason for the unveiling. If you are unsure of silents this is a great place to start.

Abraham Lincoln: The Man and His Faith
Abraham Lincoln: The Man and His Faith
by G. Frederick Owen
Edition: Paperback
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars bordering on hero worship for the first third, March 7 2014
This I think is an essential look into one of America's and indeed the worlds hero's. It's an important aspect of his life that few people consider or remember that was an integral part of his character. Of course all know him as Honest Abe, but few these days link that important charachter with his Mother's faith which eventually became his own faith. I've read other Abe Lincoln biographies and this aspect is overlooked or minimized. So in that regard it is important that it is focussed on in this book.

However I found the authors almost groveling hero worship through the first 1/3 of the book a bit annoying. Almost idolatrous reverence of the man as indeed he was just a normal man who's upbringing and personal integrity just meant he was courageous enough to take on key issues and not waver in his standards despite opposition. Something all men can do if they have a principals worth fighting for...so his overdone lauding of the man I thought was a bit nauseating at times.

I also thought the book fell short in relating some of the humorous anecdotes of this mans character as well. There were a few of course, but it seems this was such an integral part of his personality as much as his honesty. Thus it seemed to me overly weighted in some areas and sadly shy in others. So you couldn't get the whole flavour of the man either, as it was so heavily weighted in the spiritual aspect of his life. I personally didn't think it was a particularly balanced approach. So that's more of what to expect than saying this is 'bad' or 'good'.

One thing I thought particularly key was his quoting Abraham's ten principals for his life...something every politician in the world should read and consider in this world of ridiculous debt that will cripple the worlds finances for years to come.

Another way I thought this book fell short was in just stopping the story with his funeral. I thought at least a synopsis of how his policies that changed the country and indeed the world for years to come should have at least been given a short synopsis to see not only the man, but his legacy. Oh sure we have a sense of it, but he didn't say how The south reacted, or how his policies were implemented or anything. So The book had a pretty narrow focus, his Faith and the bare bones of his rise to the man he was and eventually the presidency. From all accounts it seems to me Honest Abe was a man that would be fun to know from many perspectives and somehow this book failed to convey this feeling to the reader, probably because of his over reverence of the man as though he was far too far above us, so his more down to earth nature got lost in this perspective I thought.

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