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Daniel H. Hawkins (Fort Worth, TX USA)
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American Pastoral: American Trilogy (1)
American Pastoral: American Trilogy (1)
by Philip Roth
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.68
119 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Infuriating, May 20 2003
American Pastoral is written in quite eloquent prose and tells a rather harrowing story of how a father and mother deal with a horrendous act committed by their daughter. Roth goes into great detail about several different topics from glove-making to the Newark riots. At times, I felt like throwing the book across the room. During one section of the book, when Swede is about to meet his daughter, whom he hadn't heard from in five years, Roth goes off on several tangents. I wanted to read about where Merry had been, what Swede's reaction to her would be, what Merry's reaction would be. Instead, I sludged through page after page about the Newark riots or what happened when Merry was younger, etc. while Swede was left standing there looking at the dog and cat hospital where he'd been told that Merry worked. ... But then, the bulk of the book was told as backstory. I also don't know why Zuckerman was a character in the book, much less the narrarator (although I was glad that he was pretty much forgotten after the first 100 pages).
This was the first of Philip Roth's books that I had ever read. I came to Roth because of his literary reputation, and I chose American Pastoral because it had won the Pulitzer Prize. It will be some time before I pick up another Roth book. I think I'll read something by Larry McMurtry now....

Tillies Punctured Romance
Tillies Punctured Romance
DVD ~ Charles Chaplin
Offered by BuyCDNow Canada
Price: CDN$ 107.96
3 used & new from CDN$ 43.62

4.0 out of 5 stars First feature comedy, May 9 2002
This review is from: Tillies Punctured Romance (DVD)
The reviews on this page seem to be referring to two or three different editions of "Tillie's Punctured Romance." So let me start by saying that I'm reviewing the Image DVD version (which also contains the one-reeler "Mabel's Married Life" as a bonus feature) and not the Chaplin marathon which seems to be the recipient of the bad reviews here.
"Tillie's Punctured Romance" is an important film for a couple of reasons. It was the very first feature length comedy, providing film comedy an alternative to one- and two-reel shorts. It was also the last film with Charles Chaplin as merely an actor; he began directing all of his films after this.
In addition to its importance, "Tillie's Punctured Romance" is still enjoyable to watch. The print on this DVD is a little rough in places, a few times switching from what appears to be a nice 35mm print to a seemingly worn out 16mm print and then back again within the same scene. But overall, this is a quality presentation of the film when you consider the fact that it was made in 1914.

The Elephant Man (Widescreen)
The Elephant Man (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Anthony Hopkins
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 47.49
8 used & new from CDN$ 5.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Classic tale of human dignity, Feb. 11 2002
The Elephant Man, released in 1980, is a remarkable film. It is the true story of Englishman John Merrick, who was born with a rare disease that has left him horribly disfigured. He is exploited by a sideshow circus owner until he is rescued by Treves, a physician from the London Hospital, who wishes to study his case. But as Treves gets to know Merrick, he realizes that underneath the hideous visage lies a gentle, loving soul. But just as Merrick finds contentment, he is kidnapped by the sideshow owner, who feels that he has been cheated by the doctor.
John Merrick is played by an unrecognizable John Hurt, who gives an incredible performance underneath all that make up. Merrick's rescuer, Dr. Treves, is played to near perfection by Anthony Hopkins. Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, and Wendy Hiller play minor roles.
The Elephant Man was shot on high-quality black and white film, which adds to the Victorian Era atmosphere, and makes the deformed face of John Merrick much more interesting than color would have. This was David Lynch's second major directorial effort, and it remains one of his best films. And, quite shockingly, the film's executive producer was none other than Mel Brooks. But Brooks left his name off the credits so that filmgoers wouldn't misconstrue The Elephant Man as a comedy. The only mention of Brooks's name is found in the production company, Brooksfilms.
The film received 8 Academy Award nominations, although it didn't win any Oscars. But the creation of the make-up for the John Merrick character did begin the process for the Academy adding a new award category for Best Make Up for future years.
Although the film is ultimately a tragedy, The Elephant Man is a film about kindness, dignity, and love. One cannot help but be moved by this wonderful, powerful motion picture.

Raging Bull (Bilingual) [Import]
Raging Bull (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Robert De Niro
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 12.46
17 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Raging De Niro, Nov. 20 2001
When I first saw this movie years ago, I hated it. I didn't like any of the characters, I couldn't follow the plot, and the language was excessively bad. "If you removed the f-words from the dialogue, you have a 20 minute movie," I told a few friends of mine.
I recently found this DVD for a really low price, so I decided to give it another shot. I still don't like the characters, but the language didn't bother me so much now that I'm older. In fact, the language tells you about how these characters think and feel. And the movie really is a character-driven film, so the plot is secondary.
I loved the opening of the film. The music is just beautiful, and the slow motion dancing of a lone, robed and hooded boxer in the ring is an image that stays with you. The black and white cinematography is glorious throughout this film. The costumes, sets, and automobiles give the film a very authentic 1940's and '50's feel. The boxing scenes are beautiful and brutal at the same time. Technically, this film is a masterpiece.
The greatest thing about "Raging Bull" is the performance of Robert De Niro. Much has been made about his weight gain during the course of this film (and it is amazing), but the intense anger, sadness, and loneliness of Jake La Motta comes through brilliantly due to De Niro's acting.

On the Waterfront (Bilingual) (Special Edition)
On the Waterfront (Bilingual) (Special Edition)
DVD ~ Marlon Brando
Price: CDN$ 17.99
29 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Picture of 1954, Oct. 24 2001
I bought this DVD the day it was released and watched it that night. I hadn't seen "On The Waterfront" in several years, and I had forgotten just how good it is. I've seen the famous "I coulda been a contender" scene a hundred times during Oscar telecasts, AFI specials, and PBS documentaries about film history, but seen in the context of the whole film, it still takes my breath away. I can't think of a finer performance by any actor in any film than Marlon Brando's portrayal of Terry Malloy. The supporting cast of Karl Malden, Eva Marie-Saint, Rod Stieger, and Lee J. Cobb is superb as well. This is movie-making at its finest, and it gets my highest rating, 5 stars.
And if you look closely, you'll see a young Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) working for Johnny Friendly.

Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain
DVD ~ Gene Kelly
4 used & new from CDN$ 5.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest musical of all time, Aug. 27 2001
This review is from: Singin' in the Rain (DVD)
"Singin' in the Rain" is perhaps the greatest musical ever made by Hollywood. Gene Kelly is fantastic in the title song, and Donald O'Connor is simply amazing singing and dancing to "Make 'Em Laugh." About the only bad thing I can say about it is that the film needs some restoration work. I only hope this is done, and that a special edition DVD is released with a much better print.

The Best Years of Our Lives
The Best Years of Our Lives
DVD ~ Fredric March
Offered by Planet Video
Price: CDN$ 34.95
24 used & new from CDN$ 4.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Picture of 1946, July 16 2001
This review is from: The Best Years of Our Lives (DVD)
This film is a true post-WWII classic. The story follows three returning veterans from the war, and shows how they deal with life after military service. Each story is touching in its own way. Harold Russell, who actually lost both hands in the war, plays a disabled sailor. He won two Academy Awards for this--a special award for inspiring disabled veterans and a Best Supporting Actor Oscar--to become the only performer in Academy history to win two Oscars for the same performance. This film also features some of the best black and white cinematography I've ever seen. The flight back into their hometown at the beginning of the film is just beautiful.

Marty (Full Screen)
Marty (Full Screen)
DVD ~ Ernest Borgnine
Offered by Treasure Island Emporium
Price: CDN$ 68.00
8 used & new from CDN$ 12.55

4.0 out of 5 stars Best Picture of 1955, July 16 2001
This review is from: Marty (Full Screen) (DVD)
I knew very little about "Marty" when I bought it for my Academy Award Best Picture DVD collection. I was very pleasantly surprised by a wonderful performance by Ernest Borgnine, and actor whom I have admired for a long time. He plays a very gentle, kind butcher, unlike some of his other tough guy roles in "From Here To Eternity" and "The Wild Bunch." The movie is only 90 minutes long, and it is a very simple story about how Marty meets a girl. It is very character driven, and I found myself identifying a lot with the prinicipal characters. Frank Sutton (Sgt. Carter from "Gomer Pyle") plays a small part in this movie.
The only complaint I have is that MGM didn't put a whole lot into this DVD. There wasn't even a program notes sheet in the DVD case.

A Man for All Seasons
A Man for All Seasons
DVD ~ Paul Scofield
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 43.93
6 used & new from CDN$ 13.37

4.0 out of 5 stars Sir Thomas, May 7 2001
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
I had to watch this movie in my senior English class in high school, and at the time, I thought it was the most boring film ever made. Being forced to watch a movie in a class isn't the best way to watch something, but that same year, I had had to watch "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" for my government class. I loved "Mr. Smith...", and I've watched it several times since then. But I never got around to seeing "A Man For All Seasons" until I bought the DVD for my Oscar Best Picture collection. Now that I'm older and wiser, I was able to appreciate this film a lot more. It is a wonderful character study of a man with impeccable character, Sir Thomas More, a man who stood by his beliefs even though it would cost him his life.
Paul Schofield's performance is superb, and the costumes in this film are magnificent. I recommend it to anyone interested in seeing an example of someone standing up for what he believes in.

Chariots of Fire
Chariots of Fire
DVD ~ Ben Cross
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 37.77
9 used & new from CDN$ 3.54

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, May 4 2001
This review is from: Chariots of Fire (DVD)
I found this movie to be quite interesting. It is a beautiful film--its cinematography shows the beauty of the European setting, and the costumes and set designs are exquisite. The story was a bit too cerebral to be any inspiration to me. Sure, it was nice to see Harold and Eric win their races, but it just didn't have the same power as other sports movies like "Rocky" or "The Natural." Of course, I may have been prejudiced before seeing it, since it won the Best Picture Oscar over two of my very favorite movies, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "On Golden Pond." I give it three and a half stars (it doesn't quite acheive four star status, but three stars seems too low too).

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