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Reviews Written by
Peter Shelley "petershelley" (Sydney, New South Wales Australia)

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Price: CDN$ 28.74
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3.0 out of 5 stars Tyne Daly as Mama Rose, Oct. 25 2002
This review is from: Gypsy (Audio CD)
Tyne Daly was much maligned for her singing in this 1990 recording of the show's Broadway revival, however for me her vocal weakness makes her Mama Rose more interesting. As strident, even ugly as Ethel Merman was in the original cast recording, Merman's voice still yells star power. You may consider her brand of singing to be "yelling", but there is no denying that Merman's Mama Rose is someone that has too much charisma for the character to be believable as the never-was talent that allows for "Rose's Turn". However Daly's shortcomings, which include a strained horseness in "Some People" and "Small World" in particular, are more contextually appropriate. (I don't recall Daly's voice sounding this injured in the singing she did for her 1975 TVM The Entertainer though perhaps it is due to all that Cagney & Lacey policework). Daly actually adds a poignancy to "Small World" aided immeasurably by Jonathan Hadary as Herbie, that Merman does not, though Ethel doing pensive or romantic was always problematic.
I am yet to hear Angela Lansbury sing Mama Rose, but Daly also uses her considerable acting skill to make sense of the breakdown "mmm...mamma"'s in "Rose's Turn" that defeats both Merman and Bette Midler in the 1993 TVM. Plus Daly's concluding "for me" wails are an expression of the jealousy and self-hatred of someone who knows she is a never-will be.
Its hard not to be offended for Daly by the Midler TVM. Obviously the interest in a re-filming of the property after the generally lamentable 1962 Rosalind Russell feature was due to Daly's Tony-winning triumph. A new film version to star Barbra Streisand as Rose and Madonna as Louise/Gypsy was nixed by the book's author Arthur Laurents, who had written The Way We Were for Streisand, apparently because she wanted to direct. Perhaps Midler's casting in the TVM was seen as a kind of compensation for Merman losing the role to Russell, since Midler's acting and voice is more akin to Merman's, though I would rate Merman as having the better voice of the two. However since I regard Midler as Mama Rose to be frankly awful, Daly shouldn't feel too bad.
I have given this recording a medium score partly because I think the material is served better as a piece by the original cast recording. The songs by Jule Styne are brilliant, Mama Rose is a great role, but the brassiness and tackiness belongs to a time that it is hard to improve upon.

Gossip [Import]
Gossip [Import]
3 used & new from CDN$ 8.34

1.0 out of 5 stars rumour has it this movie sux, July 26 2002
This review is from: Gossip [Import] (VHS Tape)
Whilst I admit to not being a fan of post-modern cinema with narrative about teenagers, I was drawn to this title because of the presence of Kate Hudson, who is the only actor here who manages to maintain her dignity.
The screenplay by Gregory Poirier and Theresa Rebeck presents college students with a high school mentality, who are stereotypically shallow sex-obsessed alcoholics, with the line "That's not an answer" used twice, "She has a veracity problem" a notable howler, and a climactic struggle for the gun cliche. Director Davis Guggenheim doesn't help by using self-conscious camerawork, giving rich James Marsden a designer apartment, and laughable excuses for lectures by Eric Bogosian.
Hudson is as beautiful as her character is said to be, is seen lieing langerously on her bed in long shoot, and is the only person to express honest emotions. Poor Lena Headey suffers from being a Winona clone with bad teeth, Norman Reedus is the Bill Gates-style geek via James Dean, and Marsden's constant pacing seems to be him running away from his pretty boy woman-hater's obvious latent homosexuality. A conversation he has with Reedus possesses far more innuendo than any of his kissing of Headey.
The de rigeuer plot twists seem to match the accumulative use of rain, and the resolution is like a peak-a-boo piece of theatre.

Funny About Love
Funny About Love
4 used & new from CDN$ 8.72

1.0 out of 5 stars Duffy Bergman�s biological clock is about to go off, Nov. 2 2001
This review is from: Funny About Love (VHS Tape)
This tale of Gene Wilder as a Gary Trudeau-like celebrity political humourist doesn't work as comedy, drama or romance. The screenplay by Norman Steinberg and David Frankel is based on an Esquire article by Bob Greene entitled Convention of the Love Goddesses, which is represented by Wilder speaking at an all female college, declaring that men are "self-pitying" and in awe of women. However this hardly qualifies as feminism, which director Leonard Nimoy amusingly plays with by having Wilder's car pass a line of phallic trees. The only relationship he seems to have with a woman where Wilder isn't controlling or negative is his affair with the much younger Mary Stuart Masterson, and even this is invalidated by his unwillingness to declare his emotion, echoed in Sotto Voce being the name of a featured restaurant.
The main romance here is with Christine Lahti. At first her disinterest in him gives her some strength. She is a waitress at a book signing event of his yet unimpressed with his fame. However wardrobe dress her in Annie Hall-wear and soon she is revealed to be self-consciously weak, which diminishes Lahti's otherwise appealing qualities. The inability of the couple to bear a child sours their relationship, and Lahti bears the teary-eyed guilt.
What is noticable about the treatment is the parallels to be made with Woody Allen movies, specifically Annie Hall and Manhattan. Masterson is a bad driver like Diane Keaton was, and swears the way Keaton did in Manhattan, and the age difference recalls Allen and Mariel Hemmingway. Wilder too gets his share of arrogant jokes at the expense of others, and has Allen's ability to extend his performance beyond the comic persona. His reductive James Cagney imitation is about the only thing I liked.
At first Nimoy paces at a clip, aided by the music score of Miles Goodman, but soon the timing comes to a holt and we're left stranded with people we'd rather do without. It's not encouraging that Anne Jackson as Wilder's acerbic mother is quickly disposed of. The treatment's continued coverage of Lahti telegraphs events, and only the most desperate of romantics can be pleased with the conclusion.

Physical Evidence
Physical Evidence
5 used & new from CDN$ 1.47

3.0 out of 5 stars the truth could save him, the lies could kill her, Nov. 1 2001
This review is from: Physical Evidence (VHS Tape)
This Rank thriller directed by Michael Crichton has a scuzzy screenplay by Bill Phillips, from a story by Phillips and Steve Ransohoff, which is half courtroom drama and half street investigation. The title is explained by the means of execution of a hood being found in the home of Burt Reynolds, a Boston cop on suspension for "unwarranted violence". In spite of the obvious setup, Reynolds is charged with the murder and Theresa Russell becomes his defence attorney. Russell is given more screentime than Reynolds, and the treatment even allows for her breathy mannerisms by making her an inexperienced and ambitious. At one point someone even tells her "I can do without the dramatics" which gets a laugh. As Russell's boyfriend, Ted McGinley benefits from the same effect, with his ineffectualness used for himbo-ism. She and Reynolds banter well, and thankfully the inevitable romance is given a light touch. The only Phillips line that passes for wit is someone referring to the "reverse Midas touch, where everything touched turns to manure", though Reynolds is around to underplay. If the divisive focus and ultimately the seriousness with which we are supposed to take the court case are questionable, Crichton pulls us along with his skill. He creates multiple scenes of messy group anger, and provides a beautifully executed climactic chase. Ned Beatty is also pleasing as the District Attorney, probably the only one who attempts the region dialect.

I Cover the Waterfornt [Import]
I Cover the Waterfornt [Import]

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Joseph M Schenck presents, Oct. 23 2001
Director James Cruze's film is set in a fishing waterfront area of California during the Depression, where Ben Lyon, a reporter for The Standard newspaper, is trying to get evidence against the Chinese immigrant smuggler father of Claudette Colbert.
The screenplay is based on the bestseller by Max Miller and describes the Chinese as "chinks", with a brothel being named a "boarding house". Colbert gets a funny line when Lyon shackles her to a torture device in a ship's museum, and kisses her, and she replies "That WAS torture". There is the implausibility of a bandaid being applied to someone after back surgery!, but also a spit putting out someone's lit cigarette, and a shark attack at sea.
As well as proving a joke about a large worker at the "boarding house", Lyon's drunken friend Hobart Cavanaugh is also responsible for 2 subtextual moments which are far more shocking than Colbert's initial apearance supposedly naked. In one, Cavanaugh and Lyon share a bed, and in the second, thinking Cavanaugh has cleaned his house, Lyon says "If you could only cook" and Cavanaugh strikes a fey pose.
The soundtrack has long periods of silence against the dialogue, then intermittent jazz music to play over scenes between Lyon and Colbert, with the love scenes getting serious romantic music.
Cruze also uses a diagonal screen wipe often.
To compensate for Lyon's lack of screen charisma, Colbert is the best thing going here, funny and sassy when she slaps another woman. In one scene she uses a wheazy emotional voice for anger, and her favoured left side to the camera is not so noticable as in her later films.

Careful, He Might Hear You
Careful, He Might Hear You
DVD ~ Wendy Hughes
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 95.67
8 used & new from CDN$ 60.89

1.0 out of 5 stars a promise is a very sacred thing, Oct. 20 2001
This review is from: Careful, He Might Hear You (DVD)
This Australian film directed by Carl Schultz was much heralded when it was first released, but viewing it now, one can't think why. Based on the novel by Sumner Locke Elliott and adapted by Michael Jenkins, this tale of two sisters over the custody of another dead sister's child, reads as soap opera with melodramatic flourishes and an awful sugary music score by Ray Cook. It's hard to admire DOP John Seale, particularly in the way he first presents the second sister bathed in light, and the child POV's shots, when the large picture is less than successful.
There is a certain Charles Dickensien element with one sister wealthy and the other poor, though you can guess which one demonstrates more maternal instinct. Not only is the rich one made neurotically afraid of thunder, she's also known as "the virgin queen". We aren't given any explaination for her greater wealth, though naturally she gets better lighting and wardrobe.
It's to Wendy Hughes' credit that she manages to maintain some dignity, given the obstacles Schultz puts in her way. However, as the poor sister, Robyn Nevin isn't so lucky, which is practically a crime given Nevin's legendary status as a stage performer. Nevin actually had a triumph in a TVM of Locke Elliott's Water Under the Bridge. That story was a large scale exercise in irony, something which is only suggested here in the fate of Hughes. The only actor that is alowed to invest some truth and feeling is John Hargreaves as the errant father of the child, unfortunately a minor role.
What is one to think of Schultz when he labours over schoolyard humiliations of the child, played with an adult knowingness by Nicholas Gledhill, has Hughes project her female frustrations onto the child, and has Gledhill lead a party gathering of children in a mock parade of Hughes' cries of anguish? It's all pretty icky stuff and a compliment to no one concerned.

Tails You Live Heads Youre Dea
Tails You Live Heads Youre Dea

1.0 out of 5 stars Chosen by chance. Hunted for sport., Oct. 11 2001
This is a weak entry in the serial killer genre directed by actor Tim Matheson, with a teleplay by Miguel Tejada-Flores based on a short story "Liar's Dice" by Bill Prozini. At the centre is Ted McGinley, who seems to think sighing is acting, as a family man who is the 13th target of the attentions of Corbin Bernsen. Matheson draws parallels between Bernsen and McGinley, with a satanic stone figure on a bar after Bernsen exits, and a pan from McGinley's lunchtime motel sex with his own wife to the touch of their weddings rings then to a painting of angels. Although Bernsen is livelier than usual his persona is still non-threatening, and McGinley is such a pain that we never empathise with his victimisation. It's like watching a Punch and Judy who never connect. The dice/game metaphor isn't extended, though it may explain the lack of reality of Bernsen's previous behaviour.
Matheson casts himself as a private detective with a buzzcut, a Southern accent, and a stuffed alligator on his desk. It's easy to imagine him playing McGinley's role, at times they even look similar, but his part is as negligible as any other here. He supplies the thriller cliches like a frightened cat, but also a Brian DePalma split screen and hand-pans. There is some suspense created from scorpions placed in a bed, but an unsatisfying resolution to their appearance. Perhaps because of the short story source material, this TVM actually reads like an extended anthology episode, with an underpopulated universe and wooden supporting parts, and the DePalma touch is later echoed in McGinley's nightmare, though Matheson's vision isn't as dark.

Ah Wilderness [Import]
Ah Wilderness [Import]
2 used & new from CDN$ 39.95

3.0 out of 5 stars The play that startled the nation!, Oct. 9 2001
This review is from: Ah Wilderness [Import] (VHS Tape)
Director Clarence Brown's adaptation of the Eugene O'Neill play is a smooth telling of a somewhat slight story of youthful indiscretion in a turn-of-the-century New England town on the July 4 Independence Day.
The material is said to be unusual for O'Neill, far more sentimental than his later darker and more emotional work. In her capsule review in the 5001 Nights at the Movies, Pauline Kael compares it to Booth Tarkington's world, and also MGM's Andy Hardy series, which allowed for a musical remake in 1948 Summer Holliday, which starred Mickey Rooney who has a small part here. The tone is set by the use of the song Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me), with Brown's establishment of the pre-war reactionary period convincing.
The film is subtitled A Comedy of Reflection, though the humour is small scale, on the level of school recital goofs, firecrackers, and a drunk relative at mealtime. As the boy who has graduated high school and plans to go to college, Eric Linden has a silent movie matinee look which works for his character, considered by his family as an anarchist because of his ideas of "new freedom", apparently influenced by reading such progressive works as the plays of George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray. This is the millieu of people outraged by women smoking and drinking, so when Linden meets a "chorus girl" at a saloon, we hear talk of "whited sepulchres" and ruined reputation. The fact that the "chorus girl" is an older woman somehow adds to her powers of corruption.
Possibly because the narrative is so domestic, Brown has no trouble in de-emphasising the theatrical source. We're never conscious of listening to a play. However he has trouble with the acting, notably Lionel Barrymore as Linden's father, and Wallace Beery as his uncle. Although Barrymore could never be accused of subtlety, he isn't as awful as Beery, whose ham ruins the extended meal sequence where he is meant to be drunk. We are given the idea that Linden's radicalism is inherited from Beery, though Linden doesn't stoop to slipping a woman alcohol, one who has rejeted his marriage proposal because of his drinking.
It's interesting to compare this film to Vincente Minnelli's 1944 Meet Me in St Louis, which approximated the same period, and where Minnelli was congratulated for his acting ensemble. Brown achieves the same effect, 10 years earlier.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden [Import]
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden [Import]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When she tried killing herself, it was just the beginning, Sept. 28 2001
Director Anthony Page's treatment of the novel by Hannah Green, here adapted by Gavin Lambert and Lewis John Carlino, presents Kathleen Quinlan as a schizophrenic admitted to a female asylum, with only one heartless attendant (male) who is quickly removed. However the focus is more on Quinlan than the other inmates, and when Page presents the inevitable scenes of ward panedomium, the women's personalities have more range than the men in the Milos Forman film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The number of women and this focus on Quinlan, actually precluded me from identifying Diane Varsi and Barbara Steele.
Quinlan's "sickness" is presented by her private world of a tribe enacted by Danny Elfman's Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo Temenos Theatre Group, who seem to be wardrobe-influenced by the American Indian. These demons say Quinlan is "poisonous" and fear her "betrayal", and the sessions with her psychiatrist Bibi Andersson aim towards Quinlan banishing them. However the title of the film is Andersson's qualifier, since if Quinlan chooses to join the real world, it still won't be easy. In spite of the way Quinlan's fantasy world hides her and her fear of betraying her Gods (Andersson is right when she calls them cruel, for they seem to have the power even though Quinlan has created them), no one comments on the remarkeable imagination it has taken to invent them, though I guess this feeds into the genius/madness thin line.
Clearly Quinlan's character is remarkable in herself - she's intelligent, funny, and of course lyrically sensitive. But the thing that Andersson tells Quinlan's parents seems truthful and also ties into the title idea - that she needs something to replace the sickness with. The cause for her condition isn't made clear - there is talk of abandonment by her mother after the death of a second child and some sexual phobia by her father - but Andersson is more intent on enabling Quinlan to feel emotion as a breakthrough. When Quinlan cries, touches Andersson and allows herself to be touched, and especially when Quinlan feels pain from self-inflicted cigarette burns, the music cues us that we are making advances. Of course, any cinematic representation of psychiatric treatment is false, since the chances of cure within 90 minutes are slim, but Page pleasingly suggests in the conclusion that Quinlan's Gods will never totally leave her.
The screenplay has the odd funny line - I liked Sylvia Sidney's "For the last 30 years, I've been analysed, paralysed, shocked, jolted, and revolted", and I was also grateful to lose the idea of Quinlan as the witness of conscience. Although Page wrongly introduces Quinlan to us in a rear view mirror image of her as animal, he does manage to hold back on the general hysteria among patients and also with Danny Elfman's group. I was happy to see the usually impossibly mannered Susan Tyrrell as a former nurse and even Signe Hasso as the resident thug - Hasso gets a laugh when she talks about being a former actress playing Joan of Arc "in Pittsburgh!".
As expected both Quinlan and Andersson are extraordinary. Quinlan looks a little like the young Jodie Foster though much more feminine, and occasionally Andersson's English sounds stilted, which is inexplicable since she has spoken English on screen before this. Watch for Dennis Quaid in a bit part towards the end.

Harvey Girls [Import]
Harvey Girls [Import]
3 used & new from CDN$ 37.47

3.0 out of 5 stars where do the deleted Doagies fit in?, Sept. 18 2001
This review is from: Harvey Girls [Import] (VHS Tape)
It's interesting to look at this musical directed by George Sidney in light of his later Annie Get Your Gun, in relation to the casting of Judy Garland. Though Sidney was hired to direct Annie after Judy had been fired from the production and replaced by Betty Hutton, the indications here are that Sidney would have better a choice for Judy's aborted effort rather than Busby Berkeley or Charles Walters.
Although the treament of this film has the usual MGM concessions to family viewing in the speciality numbers featuring the comic singing of Virginia O'Brien, and the dancing of Cyd Charisse and Ray Bolger (separately), Sidney presents a Judy that is touching and funny. Despite the rear projection she is wonderful in her opening In The Valley, despite the flatness of O'Brien and Charisse in the Vincente Minnelli-like ensemble of the lovely It's a Great Big World - perhaps the best of the Johnny Mercer/Harry Warren songs - and he prepares for her star appearance for the famous and long On the Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe with a cast build-up including a noteworthy Marjorie Main. Even if he emphasises Garland's lack of height, he minimises the catfight between the good Harvey girls and the wild dance-hall girls that are lead by Angela Lansbury, by giving Garland the comic payoff. It's a pity his climactic punch up between two men is handled less effectively.
One can also interpret the battle between the two types of women as typical of Louis B Mayer's madonna/whore simplistic representatation of women.
At one point when Garland implicitly apologies to Lansbury for not being as beautiful as her, it recalls the way Garland was humiliated in Ziegfeld Girl when she was left in the chorus while Lana Turner and Hedy Lamarr pranced in the You Stepped Out of a Dream number. Although contractually obligated to complete her appearances in Till the Clouds Go By after she returned from her New York honeymoon with new husband Minnelli, this could have been Garland's last film for MGM, if he hadn't persuaded her to sign for another decade with the studio, rather than abandon the grind of movie making that would lead her to ill health and misery.
The casting of John Hodiak opposite also provides an interesting dynamic since he is more evolved than to settle for Lansbury but still too worldly for Garland. It's a shame their duet was taken out of the released film.

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