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Reviews Written by
Roger J. Buffington (Huntington Beach, CA United States)

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Gods & Generals Soundtrack
Gods & Generals Soundtrack
Offered by Classical Music Superstore
Price: CDN$ 21.46
13 used & new from CDN$ 10.50

5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting and beautiful portrayal of the Civil War., Aug. 9 2003
This is one of the best movie soundtracks in years. Listening to the various offerings on this album, one can almost hear the bullets flying, the troops marching, the exhausted soldiers returning home from battle. Mary Fahl's opening score "Going Home" is quite simply the best song of the year ... it is a haunting and moving song of soldiers returning home after hard marching and hard fighting. One need not have enjoyed or even seen the movie "Gods and Generals" (which I liked and appreciated, but not everyone did) to enjoy this album.
In addition to the fine music, the set also includes some nice extras, including a great video by Mary Fahl singing "Going Home" and some other nice-to-haves. This album is a fabulous value.

Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français)
Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Alec Guinness
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 23.24
25 used & new from CDN$ 9.42

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story of the age of wooden ships and iron men!, Aug. 2 2003
This is a fine story of life aboard a British naval vessel during the Napoleonic wars. Alec Guiness stars as the enlightened and thoughtful captain, Dirk Bogarde is the cruel and hard first lieutenant (executive officer). The two are locked in a battle of wills and leadership concerning the means by which the ship will be commanded. The captain believes that a happy ship is an efficient ship, and seeks to lead by inspiration. The first lieutenant believes in merciless discipline, reinforced with his sadistic love of inflicting punishment. This conflict is complicated by the fact that the men of the British fleet are plotting the famous Spithead mutinies, and the first lieutenant has influential friends in London. This is a very interesting story of leadership and conflict.
The storyline moves along smartly most of the time, and the acting is quite good. The special effects are very good--no "bathtub ships" or battles. Guiness does his customary excellent job in his role as captain, although I personally thought he might have exerted more personal force than he did; his leadership style as portrayed in the film is somewhat understated. Bogarde is excellent as the villainous first lieutenant--you'll hate him by the end of the movie.
This is a fine movie worth watching more than once.

Fly Away Home (Special Edition) (Bilingual)
Fly Away Home (Special Edition) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Jeff Daniels
Price: CDN$ 6.83
11 used & new from CDN$ 2.11

5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the best family film in a generation., July 28 2003
This is very possibly the best "family film" in decades, by which I mean this is a film that parents and kids will enjoy watching together. It has an appeal that adults can relate to, and kids simply love it. My family has watched this movie together many times.
The story is about a young girl (Amy, played excellently by Anna Panquin) whose parents have split up; her father (Jeff Daniels) lives in Canada and her mother with whom she lives is in New Zealand. When mom is killed in an auto accident, Amy goes to Canada to live with her downright eccentric dad. She is unhappy and out of place until she adopts a flock of baby geese, and this is where the story really starts. The geese have lost their parents, and do not know how to migrate. Amy and her dad and their friends decide to teach them how. What a great story, and the cinematography of the flight scenes is breathtaking and astounding! This is a funny, touching, and entertaining movie that deserves every one of the five stars that most reviewers have awarded it. The story is out there on the outer edge of plausibility and this gives it a magical quality that sends the message that all things are possible with perserverence, intelligence, and luck. I cannot imagine any family not enjoying this superb film.
Fine performances by Miss Panquin, Jeff Daniels and the supporting cast. This is one of those films where everything came together very well, to make what has become a true classic. The storyline moves along smartly, the acting is consistently good, and the ending is truly touching. By the way, the scene where the baby geese are born in my opinion is one of the finest and most touching scenes ever to grace either DVD or the silver screen. Don't miss it.

Gods & Generals (Widescreen)
Gods & Generals (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Jeff Daniels
Price: CDN$ 9.93
52 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful story of the early Civil War. Worthwhile., July 25 2003
This review is from: Gods & Generals (Widescreen) (DVD)
Let me begin by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this film, which I did not have the opportunity to see in the theater. This is probably just as well--this is a long movie, almost a miniseries. It is lovingly done, with an attention to detail that is almost astounding. As others have noted, about the only consistently wrong detail in this movie is the well-fed look of the re-enactment extras; real Civil War soldiers on both sides were lean to an extent that is hard to appreciate today. Some of the chubby fellows in this film would have slimmed down very quickly on the skimpy rations and forced marches that characterized this long hard conflict. Having said that, it seemed to me that at least these re-enactment actors were a bit slimmer that the chubbers in "Gettysburg." No big deal.
This is the story of the early portion of the Civil War, as written in Jeff Shaara's fine novel "Gods and Generals," a prequel to "The Killer Angels" by his father, Michael Shaara. The acting is consistently good, but this is not a perfect movie. It follows the "Dances With Wolves" genre in that it is far too long in my opinion, and many scenes could have either been deleted or truncated. They were not, and this film contains many long scenes that contribute little to the main storyline, which is essentially the story of the early Confederate victories in the war, and Thomas ("Stonewall") Jackson's superb generalship and unique personality. "Gettysburg" the movie to which this is a prequel, is not a short movie either, but its storyline moves along much snappier than this one, even though this film contains three battles rather than one, and in my opinion this should have enabled the director to concentrate better on the storyline since he had plenty of material to work with. Just my opinion; there are doubtless many others.
All that having been said, I really enjoyed the film. Although some may not approve, one thing that this film did was avoid the "Politically Correct" interpretation of the Confederate cause and the Civil War itself. While it acknowledges that slavery was one of the central issues in the war, it also emphasizes that there were other factors that led to the war, and that early on most Union men felt that they were fighting to preserve the Union, not to end slavery. Some will criticize this film for being somewhat pro-Southern, and I think that this is probably true in the sense that the film relentlessly reminds the viewer that the Southern cause derived from the belief that the Confederate Army was defending the very homes and hearths of its soldiers. This is emphasized in the film far more than the Union cause is, and for that matter it seemed to me that there were more scenes dealing with the Southern side than the Union side. To that extent it is fair to say that this film gives a suprisingly favorable treatment to the Southern cause in these days of political correctness. But another interpretation of this point of view is that it is an undeniable fact that the Confederate Army, always outnumbered and outsupplied, nevertheless marched from victory to victory during the early portion of the war, and not all of this can be explained by good generalship. In fact the men were motivated by a cause in which they believed deeply, and this combined with skillful leadership caused the Confederate Army to become one of the great armies of all time. By emphasizing what was undeniably a sincere belief in the Southern cause, this film does a creditable job explaining why the Confederate Army was so remarkably successful, and why this war was, and remains, the bloodiest and hardest war Americans have ever known.
Overall, if you interested in the Civil War, you will appreciate and enjoy this film. If not, this maybe is not for you.

Beckett - Peter Otoole
Beckett - Peter Otoole
VHS
Offered by WonderBook-USA
Price: CDN$ 24.70
9 used & new from CDN$ 18.88

5.0 out of 5 stars A great story of friendship, power, and politics. Awesome., July 23 2003
This review is from: Beckett - Peter Otoole (VHS Tape)
This is truly one of the greatest movies ever. It is the story of King Henry II of England and his friendship and eventual conflict with his friend, Thomas Becket, whom he has appointed as the Archbishop of Canterbury. The time is two generations after the Norman Conquest of England, and the bitterness between the Norman victors and the defeated Saxons is still very much alive as the central fact of English political life.
The story deals with the rivalry between Church and State. King Henry sought to outmaneuver and check the growing power of the the Church, which was acting as a second, and perhaps more powerful, government. Thomas Becket, his Chancellor and chief advisor, has warned him that in ten year's time there would only be one King--and it wouldn't be King Henry! The King's plan: to appoint his closest friend, Thomas Becket, as the head of the Church of England. But Becket feels honor-bound to fight for the Church and against King Henry. The result is an absolute masterpiece tale of friendship, politics, and conflict. This is a great story.
As if all of that isn't enough, Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton each in this movie turn in the greatest performances of their careers. O'Toole is utterly engrossing as King Henry, who is dissolute, disciplined, sly, and scheming. Burton is great as the highly intelligent, conflicted Thomas Becket, who seeks to reconcile his friendship and loyalty to his King with his honor and the duty he owes to the Church. It is fun to argue which man turns in the better performance. My vote goes to O'Toole.
The filming was done in England, and this adds an air of authenticity to the film. This is a film that every collector will want to own and watch repeatedly over the years. Now it needs to become available in the DVD format.

Beckett - Peter Otoole
Beckett - Peter Otoole
VHS
Offered by WonderBook-USA
Price: CDN$ 24.70
9 used & new from CDN$ 18.88

5.0 out of 5 stars A great story of friendship, power, and politics. Awesome., July 23 2003
This review is from: Beckett - Peter Otoole (VHS Tape)
This is truly one of the greatest movies ever. It is the story of King Henry II of England and his friendship and eventual conflict with his friend, Thomas Becket, whom he has appointed as the Archbishop of Canterbury. The time is two generations after the Norman Conquest of England, and the bitterness between the Norman victors and the defeated Saxons is still very much alive as the central fact of English political life.
The story deals with the rivalry between Church and State. King Henry sought to outmaneuver and check the growing power of the the Church, which was acting as a second, and perhaps more powerful, government. Thomas Becket, his Chancellor and chief advisor, has warned him that in ten year's time there would only be one King--and it wouldn't be King Henry! The King's plan: to appoint his closest friend, Thomas Becket, as the head of the Church of England. But Becket feels honor-bound to fight for the Church and against King Henry. The result is an absolute masterpiece tale of friendship, politics, and conflict. This is a great story.
As if all of that isn't enough, Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton each in this movie turn in the greatest performances of their careers. O'Toole is utterly engrossing as King Henry, who is dissolute, disciplined, sly, and scheming. Burton is great as the highly intelligent, conflicted Thomas Becket, who seeks to reconcile his friendship and loyalty to his King with his honor and the duty he owes to the Church. It is fun to argue which man turns in the better performance. My vote goes to O'Toole.
The filming was done in England, and this adds an air of authenticity to the film. This is a film that every collector will want to own and watch repeatedly over the years. Now it needs to become available in the DVD format.

Dr. Atkins' Quick Easy New Diet Cookbook
Dr. Atkins' Quick Easy New Diet Cookbook
by Robert Atkins
Edition: Paperback
94 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A great resource for those following the Atkins program, July 22 2003
This cookbook is a great resource for those following the Atkins program, and the tasty dishes in this book prove that one can eat normally and well while following "Atkins for Life" as my wife and I are. I am a lousy cook myself, but my wife is a great one, and this book helped both of us prepare dishes consistent with the Atkins regime.
The Atkins program has proven itself in our household. I have come down from a 35 to a 31 waist in about 8 months, and I realized very significant and visible results during the first two months of being on the diet. My wife has experienced similar results. All of this occurred without that ghastly craving feeling that you get when you follow a low-calorie diet. By observing Atkins a person can eat well, experience a wonderful sense of high energy, and regain control over one's diet and body. This cookbook is a great resource in following the Atkins regime, since the one price of the Atkins concept is that you do have to pay attention to your carbohydrate intake. This cookbook is valuable for the recipes it contains, and perhaps more to the point, it helps educate the reader as to what kinds of ingredients are consistent with a low-carbohydrate diet. This had confused me when I first went on the diet and this cookbook was helpful in enabling me to understand what kinds of ingredients to use in recipes, and also what kinds of dishes are OK to order in restaurants.
The Atkins program is a lifetime program which enables a person to stay thin without suffering or deprivation. The recipes in this book prove that Atkins is not all about eating bacon and other high fat foods. In fact, this book proves that Atkins is a healthy and sensible program that one can follow for life.

Dances With Wolves (Widescreen Special Edition)
Dances With Wolves (Widescreen Special Edition)
DVD ~ Kevin Costner
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 17.61
22 used & new from CDN$ 4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A fine telling of a fascinating story. Extraordinary., July 2 2003
This film is the best "Western" film in decades. Kevin Costner turns in a fine performance as a Civil War cavalry hero who is posted to the Western Frontier, and by accident is assigned to an abandoned outpost by a deranged commander. Alone and isolated from the Army, Costner eventually becomes first acquainted with, then absorbed by, the local Lakota Sioux tribe. Although the storyline sounds simple, this is in fact a complex story with many dimensions.
The film's greatest success is its portrayal of the Sioux as ordinary human beings in a highly complex and civilized society, albeit one very unlike our own. The Sioux are shown to be a brave, compassionate, friendly people, although possessed of a warlike tradition and culture.
The cinematography of the film is superb, and it wonderfully captures the size and grandeur of the American west. The picture is crisp and the scenes are vivid. There are no phony looking sets of the type that often plagues Western films. As if this were not enough, this film contains one of the best musical scores I've ever heard. "Looks Like a Suicide," the main musical score of the film, is wonderful.
Unfortunately, this film has two very serious flaws that caused me to deprive it of a "five stars" rating. It is far, far too long. I like the film enough so that I admit that I enjoy the length, but there is no doubt in my mind at least that this film could and should have been shorter--this would not have decreased its impact.
The second flaw is that, as the Amazon editorial review says, the scene when the American soldiers return is simply overdone. It is OK to villainize them; history suggests that this is at not undeserved. But it could have been done in a less extreme fashion--the way it was done caused the whole scene to seem one dimensional, and not particularly enjoyable, at least to me.
The Special Edition DVD is the one to get. The "deleted scenes" that it includes are some of the better ones; I would say that this suggests that the one big flaw in this film is the editing--the regular version excluded some good scenes and included some scenes that seem to simply constitute filler. Well, opinions may differ. The audio commentaries are interesting, although I admit I have not yet listened to them all and may never do so.
All in all, there is a tremendous amount to like in this film, and most film afficianados will enjoy this DVD thoroughly. The DVD format is great for this film, because of course it makes it possible to watch it in several sittings. At 237 minutes, that is almost a must for most of us.

Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns (Full Screen) [5 Discs]
Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns (Full Screen) [5 Discs]
DVD ~ David McCullough
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 120.82
6 used & new from CDN$ 54.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably good history. Deserves 6 stars!, June 29 2003
This is quite simply the best historical documentary I have ever seen, and it may very well be the best telling of the story of the American Civil War that I have ever experienced. It certainly is one of the better ones. This film, which contains no dramatization or re-enactments, nevertheless does a wonderful job of explaining both the political and military dimensions of the greatest conflict ever fought in the New World, and the greatest struggle in American history.
The documentary features excerpts from the diaries of various Civil War figures, high as well as humble, and commentary from various historians, including author-historian Shelby Foote, who does a good job of introducing in particular the Southern perspective (past and present). The overall presentation is outstanding, and well worth watching and owning. No Civil War afficianado will want to pass up the DVD collection of this piece. It is quite simply a must-have. I have watched mine many times.
Simply first rate. This film shows that history need not and should not be dull.

Clear and Present Danger [Widescreen Special Collector's Edition] (Bilingual) [Import]
Clear and Present Danger [Widescreen Special Collector's Edition] (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Harrison Ford
Price: CDN$ 14.13
30 used & new from CDN$ 4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent political thriller. Ford does Jack Ryan!, June 29 2003
This is a very well done film version of Tom Clancy's novel of the same name, which features his trademarked hero, Jack Ryan. Harrison Ford really has the Jack Ryan character down pat, and turns in his customary excellent performance. As always, James Earl Jones plays his part, as the CIA director, to perfection.
The storyline here is far more complex than the two earlier Jack Ryan films, which caused me to worry that the film would either sacrifice important elements of the novel, or become so convoluted that most viewers would have difficulty following the story. Neither occurs--the movie tells a complicated political/adventure story in a crisp and coherent fashion that retains the viewer's interest. This is a very fine film.
The basic premise is simple enough--the President decides to insert US forces into Columbia to take out certain elements of the drug cartels operating there. This is done without any permission/authorization from Congress and is therefore illegal. As might be expected, not everything goes according to plan. And of course Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) has to straighten things out. Therein lies a fast-paced and interesting story that parallels in some ways the conflict between Congress and President Reagan in the 1980s as regards the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and the Contras.
The DVD is excellent, with very good color and sound. Fans of Ford, Tom Clancy, or simply those who like fast-paced political action thrillers will want to include this DVD in their collections.

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