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Gerald Parker "Gerald Parker" (Rouyn-Noranda, QC., Dominion of Canada)
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Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur by Arthaus
Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur by Arthaus
DVD ~ Lorenzo Mariani

3.0 out of 5 stars Fine Costuming & Interesting Semi-Abstract Staging Help This Performance of Cilèa's Opera to Succeed Despite Mixed Vocal Results, May 14 2015
Having just finished viewing and listening to the performance from the Teatro Reggio, Turin, of Cilèa's opera, "Adriana Lecouvreur", I find it to be a very worthy and interesting performance and production and I consider myself lucky to have come across it and to possess it.

The costumes in the Turin theatre's production are perhaps the most beautiful and sumptuous of any on the numerous DVDs available. The staging, spare but not ugly or inappropriate in any way, works quite well, although the multiple articulated, mobile raised platforms in the First Act did not always make obvious sense as they shifted positions on stage. Turin's Teatro Reggio clearly does not have the huge stage and bountiful resources of the Teatro alla Scala, in Milan, or of some of the other leading opera theatres in the world (e.g., the Bolshoi or the Palais Garnier in Paris, to take the most humongous examples!), therefore grandiosity would not befit its theatrical proportions. Those who conceived the production found good solutions to make the most of the space on the Reggio's stage available and not to permit things to become too congested; that could have been a real danger in the third act, was which is handled as deftly as any of the opera's tableaux. The ballet is acceptable, neither better nor worse than what one usually sees, a darkly reflecting surface at the rear creating a striking effect; the choreography and its realisation are no match for La Scala, that's for sure, nor is it handled so well as in in R.A.I.'s film of the mid-1950s that features Marcella Pobbe in the title role!

Since some other DVDs already are being mentioned by this point, and will be further on in this review as well, it is a good idea to present a list of them, for the reader's easy reference. Aside from the Turin production, which is at the head of the list with all of its principal and some of the secondary roles listed more fully, the DVDs of the opera (in the North American or U.K. release editions which I own) are listed by alphabetical order of the conductors' last names (all in capital letters to facilitate displaying and finding them), naming only whom the most notably accomplished vocal soloists, in my estimation, who are among the casts (even if that results in listing the roles unequally from one citation to the next):

Adriana Lecouvreur. The principal and other noteworthy vocalists are Micaela Carosi (soprano, in the title role), Marcelo Álvarez (tenor, as Maurizio), Marianne Cornetti (mezzo-soprano, as the Principessa di Bouillon), Alfonso Antoniozzi (baritone, as Michonnet), Simone del Savio (bass, as the Principe di Bouillon), and Luca Casalin (tenor, as the Abbate di Chazeuil); chorus and orchestra of the Teatro regio, Turin, conducted by Renato PALUMBO (DVD + ill. partly col., but mostly b&w booklet of 30 p., of credits, synopsis, and notes + promotional catalogue, together in the same container). ArtHaus Musik 101-497.

Adriana Lecouvreur. The principal solo vocalists are Angela Gheorghiu (soprano, in the title role), Jonas Kaufmann (tenor, as Maurizio), Olga Borodina (mezzo-soprano, as the Principessa di Bouillon), and Alessandro Corbelli (baritone, as Michonnet); chorus and orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, conducted by Mark ELDER (2 DVDs + ill. booklet, of 39 p. of credits, synopsis, and notes). Decca 074-3459-DH-2.

Adriana Lecouvreur. In series, "La Scala Collection". Among the cast are Mirella Freni (soprano, in the title role), Peter Dvorsky (tenor, as Maurizio), Fiorenza Cossotto (mezzo-soprano, as the Principessa di Bouillon), and Ivo Vinco (bass, as the Principe di Bouillon); chorus and orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, conducted by Gianandrea GAVAZZEINI (DVD + booklet, of 30 p., of credits, synopsis, and libretto, in Italian, untranslated, together in the same container). Opus Arte OA-LS-3011-D.

Adriana Lecouvreur. Among the cast are Montserrat Caballé (soprano, in the title role), José Carreras (tenor, as Maurizio), and Fiorenza Cossotto (mezzo-soprano, as the Principessa di Bouillon); recording of the live performance in Tokyo, 20 Sept. 1976; Gianfranco MASINI conducts the Union of Japan Professional Choruses and the N.H.R. Symphony Orchestra (DVD + [1] leaf of [2] p., together in the same container). V.A.I. (i.e., Video Artists International) 4435.

Adriana Lecouvreur. This one is a music film, i.e., a cinematic (but still faithful) treatment of the opera, made for television broadcast (first aired 26 March 1955). Among the cast are Marcella Pobbè (in the title role), Nicola Filacuridi (tenor, as Maurizio), Fedora Barbieri (mezzo-soprano, as the Principessa di Bouillon), Otello Borgonovo (baritone, as Michonnet), Carlo Badioli (bass, as the Principe di Bouillon), and Gino di Signore (tenor, as the Abbate di Chazeuil); orchestra and chorus of the Radiotelevisione italiana, Milan, conducted by Alfredo SIMONETTO (DVD + folder of [1] leaf fold. to [4] p., of notes about the performers). Immortal (I.M.C. Music) IMM-960025.

If it were not for Renato Palumbo's often leaden conducting and at times too slow tempi, the whole show in Turin would have attained a level of excellence that it did not reach. It really does help, one should know, to have a conductor with real taste, imagination, and grasp of effective leadership in opera, like Gianandrea Gavazzeni (La Scala), Alfredo Simonetto (R.A.I. film version), or even Mark Elder (Royal Opera, Covent Garden). The first act, especially, drags and thus droops needlessly due to unduly slow tempi. Palumbo manages some sections with real delicacy, but at other times he does not hone orchestral balances effectively enough to make the most of Cilèa's lovely orchestration.

The real star of Turin's evening in the theatre is Marcelo Álvarez, who sings Maurizio. He has a voice of real distinction, up there with (each in his own way) Kaufmann and Carreras. He most reminds me of Peter Dvorsky (in La Scala's cast), but Álvarez has a much finer, truly beautiful voice. However, Dvorsky and Álvarez are both about as ugly-looking as two wildebeests afflicted with severe cases of the mange; that would help, if anyone really were in doubt, to put Carreras and Kaufmann, both dashingly romantic, at the top of the tenorial heap, being the best-lookers who happen, as well, to be the finest singers of them all.

Micaela Carosi is a good Adriana, even if she looks a bit too much like Barbra Steisand in need of just a little dieting. She does not have the musical or dramatic imagination, however, of the best video Adrianas, e.g. Pobbe or Caballé. Carosi's voice is a bit ordinary (but good) sounding but with the heft and projection needed. She is worth seeing and hearing.

Those portraying the small comprimario roles are pretty dreadful, alas. The caterwauling resulting from too much vibrato (downright wobble in most cases) and screech among these minor cast members, and some bad intonation among them, make the big ensembles in bustling Act One pretty hard to endure. However, there are not too many stretches in the opera where this prevails sufficiently to count too unduly against the Turin DVD. The most important of the comprimario roles, that of the Abbate di Chazeuil, on the other hand, is well done here. Luca Casalin, in portraying an older abbé, like the more youthful Abbate di Chazeuil of Gino del Signore (R.A.I. film), is manly and avoids preciosity or hints of any "gay old queen" male dopiness, as the other abbés on the DVDs listed have portrayed him.

Alfonso Antoniozzi, as Michonnet, after a weak start while his voice is warming up during Act One for its better form later in the opera, is quite effective. It is hard to choose objectively, apart from sheer vocal finesse, among those who sing that role. My own favourite is Otello Borgonovo (with Pobbe for R.A.I.), whose dramatic quirkiness is so endearing and who absolutely sings better, indeed impeccably well, compared to any of the others in that role on any videos (or LPs or CDs, for that matter) in my experience. Of the other Michonnets, it is mostly (although not entirely) a matter of taste which among them one rates most highly for either drama or for the singing.

Marianne Cornetti, as the Principessa di Bouillon, most reminds me of Olga Borodina in looks and, somewhat, in sound. She acts better than Borodina, but it is Borodina who has the better voice. My two favourites as the princess are Fedora Barbieri, truly sublimely effective in the part, and the younger Fiorenza Cossotto (in the performance with Caballé and Carreras that Simonetto conducts). Cornetti, at any rate, is a real asset, being, along with Álvarez, one of the best two solo vocalists in the Turin production's cast.

For most collectors, if one must choose only one of the DVDs of Cilèa's "Adriana Lecouvreur", it probably would be either the La Scala or Tokyo performances, although my own favourite, despite its early vintage, old-fashioned (but potent!) acting style, and Immortal's poor technical work, is the R.A.I. b&w film of the opera. For most viewers, however, La Scala puts on the best show with a good enough cast that will please mightily. For all of that, however, the Turin production makes an excellent second or third choice for those who may want to own more than one video of this jewel of the "verismo" period's great operas.

Romances Italiennes (Italy)
Romances Italiennes (Italy)
Offered by Germany to Canada
Price: CDN$ 12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant Italian Fare, Underpowered Thus Missing the Full Savour of These Songs, but Suitable for Merely Lazy Listening, April 18 2015
Something tells me that Bianca Ortolano could do much better in finding a vocal partner than to yoke her talents to those of a man (handsome, yes, but whose vocalism is rather bland) like Tony Conte who for his part sings, at least on this outing, rather nasally, intoning the music at no more than low volume, to avoid challenging his middling vocal capabilities. Ortolano, restraining herself, I assume to suit her partner, mews and meows while Tony simpers. The arrangements are okay, but "nothing special" and reek of some electronica thrown into the accmpaniments' instrumental mix. However, if one suspends judgment, the choice of songs done so low-key as here is relaxing, if hardly standing up to the scrutiny of closely attentive listening.

These songs are for the most part very familiar ones, known to several generations of Italian popular music fans. I am saving this modest musical document due to the presence of a song ("Mamma") by the celebrated song-writing duo of composer Cesare Andrea Bixio and his frequently collaborating lyricist, Bruno Cherubini, whose songs I long have made an effort to collect extensively. Since it may be the choice of what this recording includes which governs any decision to buy it, a list of the songs is surely in order. (I have the audiocassette of this sound recording, "Romances italiennes", which was released as Star STR-4-8125, distributed here in Canada at the time by Select.)

CONTENTS: Ti amo -- Volare -- Parla più piano -- Come prima -- L'Italiano -- Caruso -- Parole, parole -- O sole mio -- Torna a Surriento -- Mamma -- Grande, grande, grande -- Adagio.

Tony Conte's and Bianca Ortolano's "takes" on these songs are awfully tame ones, but their musicianship is sound and their pronunciation quite expert, so, if you like the music this way, at least from time to time, rather than in the more robustly latin way in which the songs were conceived to be sung, this recording may be something to take out to pop into the cassette or DVD player once in awhile. Thanks to listening to this, "Come prima", one of Italian pop's evergreens, has been going 'round 'n' 'round in my head for days on end now!

Somefarwhere
Somefarwhere
Offered by Prestivo3
Price: CDN$ 53.57
3 used & new from CDN$ 53.57

4.0 out of 5 stars An Appealing Movie with Middle Eastern War and Gay Sexuality as Themes of Tense Action, with an Alluringly Handsome Cast, March 9 2015
This review is from: Somefarwhere (DVD)
"Somefarwhere", albeit a strange title, is a rather suitable one for Everett Lewis' motion picture, which has as its location, for the film story's locales as well as for the real geographical locations in which it was shot, in the Middle East. A young American man, Price St. John (played by Bryce Blais), comes to this difficult and (at least for someone in his situation) dangerous area seeking his missing male lover, Bo (acted by Drew Boylan). It turns out that, despite unsatisfactory Armed Forces accounts of what had happened, that Bo was caught up in a war crime that his U.S. Marines unit perpetrated. Bo, who is so much the focus of the plot, is seen only seldom in the movie, filmed directly only at its conclusion. As it turns out, Bo had not participated in the American Marines' brutality, but has been captured and is being held hostage, either for ransom, if that work out, or for revenge execution, to be beheaded by his shady Arab captors.

Price's efforts to find and to rescue Bo entail many sometimes complicated doings. Much spy-vs.-spy antics, backstabbing, double-dealing, and slippery, shifting motivations occurs on the part of those who either promise to further Bo's release or who desire foremost to slit the captive's throat, possibly to the point of beheading him. the more so because, like Price, Bo is gay. During all of these wranglings, Price himself falls into the hands of some of those who already have been part of the guerrilla cell holding Bo. (It takes longer than at that point in the film, however, for the two lovers to be reunited.)

To say more would be to reveal "spoilers", so I will not go further in giving the Amazon user reading this review some idea of what this film is about. Anyway, I need another viewing or two to sort it all out! The third most important member of the dramatis personae is Marwan, an Arab guide (the role taken by Khaled Haider) who is helping Price and who falls more than a little bit in love with him. Price (who, anyway, is coming to fear, wrongly it turns out, that Bo is dead) responds in kind. The fourth character is the conniving bounty-hungry American, Combs (Dale Dymkoski taking the part) whose greatest and lewdly expressed desire is to coerce Price into accepting that Combs sodomise him.

This motion picture was made under some difficult circumstances, as director and screenwriter Everett Lewis explains in a bonus feature, which explain why some of its scenes could have come out more satisfactorily, if the cast and crew had had more time to do multiple takes. More such refining of the film, something that tighter editing would have furthered, also could have benefitted it through compressing the action, with faster pacing, especially at the moments of greatest danger to the protagonists. It was risky to film the most homoerotic scenes in a Middle Eastern region where fundamentalist Islam runs rampant, so perhaps the film as it stands is the best that could be accomplished under the circumstances. There are, after all, numerous moments and scenes of male-on-male romantic intimacy, especially of men kissing one another tenderly, leisurely, and passionately. Then, too, Bryce Blais appears quite often shirtless or nearly nude (although never entirely full-frontally naked) a lot of the time. Haider and Dymoski, too, are sometimes in partial states of undress, though at less length. Blais and Dymoski are among the stable of actors upon whom whose talent Everett Lewis has drawn several times to cast in his various movies. And talented they, and the entire cast, truly are.

It does no harm that Bryce Blais is a rather good-looking young dude, a little plain perhaps at first glance, but of appealingly fine, lanky physique, expressive face, lusciously kissable lips, nicely rounded, firm buttocks, and lovely complexion. Blais is the kind of lad whose beauty reveals itself gradually; as the longer and increasingly intently one looks at him, the more Blais' comeliness reveals itself to the beholder. It is no wonder that not only Bo, but also Marwan and Combs, "fall" for him. As for Dymoski, who can be quite sexy, especially as the rocker "Pagan", in Lewis' film "The Pretty Boys" (in which Blais also appears), he conceals his naturally appealing good looks this time around in order better to reflect outwardly Combs' crass and disreputable character. Khaled Haider, as Marwan, is of a more husky, ruggèd build, quite handsome in that sort of way.

I purchased, through Amazon-France, an edition of the movie from France (Optimale 524-280-1) in order to have some provision of subtitles. Optimale includes them in French (thus in a language in which I am proficient), which helps considerably, since the dialogue, not surprisingly in a film with so many Arab actors taking major, secondary, and minor parts, is not always easy to make out with sufficient clarity or certainty. Viewers, however, who are less hard of hearing than I am becoming, may find the North American edition more satisfying than I would have found it. The movie is about "hard issues" (war crime, hostage-taking, torture, and gay sexuality) confronted with full honesty and clarity, which only adds to the significance of this 2011 film, which is very much worth seeing time and again.

1987 (Version française)
1987 (Version française)
DVD ~ Jean-Carl Boucher
Price: CDN$ 19.85
10 used & new from CDN$ 7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Italian-Québec Teenager Plows His Way through Late Adolescence Confronting One Teen Crisis and Misadventure after Another, Feb. 25 2015
This review is from: 1987 (Version française) (DVD)
The year 1987 is one in which the prime artistic creator of this 2014 Québec movie from Les Films Seville (the Canadian DVD edition viewed being Seville/Entertainment-One 201987-DV), Ricardo Trogi himself, was making his way from 17 to 18, finishing high school, with a whole lot of trouble along the way. How many of these adventurous mishaps the film's screenwriter, director, and co-producer, Ricardo Trogi, really endured, as actor Jean-Carl Boucher plays Trogi's teenage self, is not for me to say, but I would vouch that if only half of it is true, Trogi ended his adolescence in a blaze of merrily addlepated glory. One problem complicates one or more of the other hassles besetting him in comically ingenious ways.

Much of the film details young Trogi's girlfriend problem, but there is much, much more, including his soon-thwarted attempts at the ancestral Italian métier of crime, along with misunderstanding of the motives of friends as well as of those of the young ladies. This is a comedy, not a full-out farce, so one smiles wryly and chuckles a bit at well-positioned moments, rather than falls into hysterical laughter every minute or so along the way. However, the complications in the lad's life do pile on more quickly as the film progresses. To reveal or even to hint more specifically than that concerning what this film is about would confront me with accusations of revealing "spoilers" about the plot, so I shall leave matters at what the potential purchaser has just read about this delightful motion picture.

L'Amour dure trois ans
L'Amour dure trois ans
Offered by Prestivo3
Price: CDN$ 30.01
9 used & new from CDN$ 30.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Heady, All-Consuming Love Besets a Temporary Sceptic of Cupid's Powerful Wiles, Feb. 21 2015
This review is from: L'Amour dure trois ans (DVD)
Beloved, spurned, beset, pursuing, pursued, besotted: love casts poor, mightily confused Marc Maronnier every which way! Taking Marc's role is Gaspard Proust (birth name Gašper Pust or Kasper Püst), a Slovenian-French comedian and actor whose work is very much worth following, if one's French is up to the challenge of most of his DVDs. Fortunately, "L'Amour dure trois ans" ("Love Lasts Three Years" being the title in English) has subtitles both in French and in English, at least on the edition viewed (Seville/Entertainment-One 200445-DV), although others of his various DVDs lack English subtitles in the current editions available as listed in their entries on Amazon's various national WWW sites.

Proust is one of those peculiar-looking guys who is both seductively handsome, with at once a sweetly boyish appeal yet having a naïvely comical-looking face which together make him perfect for a role like that of Marc Maronnier. One thinks, in Hollywood terms, of someone like the young Woody Allen, except that Proust really is one obviously very beguiling good-looker. The motion picture which features him is an utterly entrancing sex farce, but one with a feather-light approach to its zaniness and abounding in deliciously delicate irony and parody that none but a few English and even fewer American films manage to achieve. By 2011, the date of this film's release, Proust attained his 35th year of age, but he still looks a bit like a cherubic "twenty-something" with the youthful bloom that a beautifully fresh complexion naturally enhances.

At the film's outset, Marc Maronnier confronts his wife Anne's insistence on a divorce, something that he very much does not want in the very least. However, Anne prevails, obtaining the divorce and leaving Marc with a black eye when he resists too ardently. Marc has made his living in journalism, renowned for his book reviews and entertainment ("night life") column. Humiliated and (temporarily, as it turns out) cynical, he undertakes a book-length examination of real love as a merely temporary phenomenon. (It is the title of Marc's book that lends its name to the film.) No sooner does the publisher release the book than heaven-stormingly besotted love takes hold on him, when he falls for the wife, Alice (the lovely Louise Bourgoin), of his cousin, Antoine (Nicolas Bedos); this hits Marc like a thunder-bolt of love-at-first-sight for Marc, although there is need to wait some time for Marc to coax Alice from her husband; the two lovers start their illicit affair in the aftermath of the funeral of two men's grandmother.

Alice is unaware at first that Marc Maronnier is the real name of "Féodor Belvédère", the pseudonym that the author uses for his book, which attains almost instant best-seller status and, inevitably, renown for Marc, whose real identity a television feature about the book reveals, much to Marc's consternation, for Marc knows that Alice despises the book and everything for which it stands (and which Marc had believed only briefly, after all, to be true). Alice, seeing the TV show, falls into a monumental temper-tantrum and deserts Marc. It is up to the reader of this review to find out for himself how Marc and Alice reconcile, something that happens as the result of many absurd and delightful adventures along the way to their reunion.

There are various sub-plots that occur, mostly involving some of Marc's friends and relatives. The Afro-Gallic character, Jean-Georges (acted by Joey Starr) has perhaps the most amusing one. This womaniser suddenly falls in love with his male surfing instructor (Thomas Jouannet). The two men unite by means of a colourfully New-Age surf-themed gay wedding over which one very wacky guru, babbling gibberish, absurdly presides.

This film is endlessly inventive, spewing fun and froth at the entranced viewer in just about every unexpected way imaginable. Some music lovers will be pleased not only that Marc's favourite songwriter is Michel Legrand, but that Legrand actually makes an appearance in the movie, seen playing the piano and singing his own music. For some viewers, Anglophones who are too staid or stolid of temperament to enjoy this movie's antic revels, it may be "just a bit too much" for their taste, but for others "L'Amour dure trois ans" will be the comedy discovery of the year in which they encounter it!

Miracle Match
Miracle Match
DVD ~ Wes Bentley
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 42.44
8 used & new from CDN$ 33.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Truly This Was a "Miracle Match" & "Game of Their Lives" for an American Soccer Team Skyrocketed to International Sports Triumph, Feb. 18 2015
This review is from: Miracle Match (DVD)
It is odd that the history-making soccer game which this endearing film, which variously has been titled "The Miracle Match" or "The Game of Their Lives", recounts, even with a few pardonable historical errors, has had so little attention in decades after 1950, the year that the U.S. soccer team won the international trophy of trophies in Rio de Janeiro. The U. S. of A. usually, if anything, over-inflates sports lore of that level or, for that matter, of much that is of much less significant import. If a sporting event of this magnitude had resulted in such an unexpected Canadian win under such circumstances, the Dominion of Canada, another soccer-starved nation, would be recounting it from here to kingdom come yearly on the C.B.C. ! Anyway, "The Miracle Match" is an absorbing tale in sports historical reality and on screen.

This viewer hardly ever bothers with sports film -- that is, unless they are about soccer (internationally known as "football"). I only wish that there were more screen time devoted to the games themselves, i.e. to the Saint Louis, Mo./Middle Atlantic States team's trial match with an English team, and the game that made history in Brazil so long ago. The quality of play by the actors depicting the teams is exceptionally good and it would have been fun to see more. However, the background story is an affecting one that pulls at the heartstrings, so I do not begrudge it the amount of time to recount it.

The DVD edition viewed (one of those bearing as title "The Game of Their Lives") was one acquired here in Québec (Fabrication/V.V.S. Films T-034) and is quite satisfactory, including the short but relevant bonus features that come with that edition.

Sports movie enthusiasts, and, naturally, fans of soccer itself, should go out of their way, if need be, to see this motion picture. It is worth it! This movie has a whole lot of heart as well as much skill employed in the making of it.

The Game of Their Lives [Import]
The Game of Their Lives [Import]
DVD ~ DVD
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 159.99
6 used & new from CDN$ 2.18

4.0 out of 5 stars Soccer Is the Gutsy International Game of All Games and This Movie about It Was Made with Heart and Skill Aplenty, Feb. 17 2015
It is odd that the history-making soccer game which this endearing film recounts, even with a few pardonable historical errors, has had so little attention in decades after 1950, the year that the U.S. soccer team won the international trophy of trophies in Rio de Janeiro. The U. S. of A. usually, if anything, over-inflates sports lore of that level or, for that matter, of much that is of much less significant import. If a sporting event of this magnitude had resulted in such an unexpected Canadian win under such circumstances, the Dominion of Canada, another soccer-starved nation, would be recounting it from here to kingdom come yearly on the C.B.C. ! Anyway, "The Game of Their Lives" (which also has been titled "The Miracle Match") is an absorbing tale in sports historical reality and on screen.

This viewer hardly ever bothers with sports film -- that is, unless they are about soccer (internationally known as "football"). I only wish that there were more screen time devoted to the games themselves, i.e. to the Saint Louis, Mo./Middle Atlantic States team's trial match with an English team, and the game that made history in Brazil so long ago. The quality of play by the actors depicting the teams is exceptionally good and it would have been fun to see more. However, the background story is an affecting one that pulls at the heartstrings, so I do not begrudge it the amount of time to recount it.

The DVD edition viewed was one acquired here in Québec (Fabrication/V.V.S. Films T-034) and is quite satisfactory, including the short but relevant bonus features that come with that edition.

Sports movie enthusiasts, and, naturally, fans of soccer itself, should go out of their way, if need be, to see this motion picture. It is worth it! This movie has a whole lot of heart as well as much skill employed in the making of it.

Love Lasts Three Years / L'amour dure trois ans (Version française)
Love Lasts Three Years / L'amour dure trois ans (Version française)
Price: CDN$ 16.99
11 used & new from CDN$ 4.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Cunningly Crafted French Cinematic Comedy That Is Bound to Enchant Viewers Who Love to Have Some Fun on the Screen, Feb. 17 2015
Beloved, spurned, beset, pursuing, pursued, besotted: love casts poor, mightily confused Marc Maronnier every which way! Taking Marc's role is Gaspard Proust (birth name Ga'per Pust or Kasper Püst), a Slovenian-French comedian and actor whose work is very much worth following, if one's French is up to the challenge of most of his DVDs. Fortunately, "L'Amour dure trois ans" ("Love Lasts Three Years" being the title in English) has subtitles both in French and in English, at least on the edition viewed (Seville/Entertainment-One 200445-DV), although others of his various DVDs lack English subtitles in the current editions available as listed in their entries on Amazon's various national WWW sites.

Proust is one of those peculiar-looking guys who is both seductively handsome, with at once a sweetly boyish appeal yet having a naïvely comical-looking face which together make him perfect for a role like that of Marc Maronnier. One thinks, in Hollywood terms, of someone like the young Woody Allen, except that Proust really is one obviously very beguiling good-looker. The motion picture which features him is an utterly entrancing sex farce, but one with a feather-light approach to its zaniness and abounding in deliciously delicate irony and parody that none but a few English and even fewer American films manage to achieve. By 2011, the date of this film's release, Proust attained his 35th year of age, but he still looks a bit like a cherubic "twenty-something" with the youthful bloom that a beautifully fresh complexion naturally enhances.

At the film's outset, Marc Maronnier confronts his wife Anne's insistence on a divorce, something that he very much does not want in the very least. However, Anne prevails, obtaining the divorce and leaving Marc with a black eye when he resists too ardently. Marc has made his living in journalism, renowned for his book reviews and entertainment ("night life") column. Humiliated and (temporarily, as it turns out) cynical, he undertakes a book-length examination of real love as a merely temporary phenomenon. (It is the title of Marc's book that lends its name to the film.) No sooner does the publisher release the book than heaven-stormingly besotted love takes hold on him, when he falls for the wife, Alice (the lovely Louise Bourgoin), of his cousin, Antoine (Nicolas Bedos); this hits Marc like a thunder-bolt of love-at-first-sight for Marc, although there is need to wait some time for Marc to coax Alice from her husband; the two lovers start their illicit affair in the aftermath of the funeral of two men's grandmother.

Alice is unaware at first that Marc Maronnier is the real name of "Féodor Belvédère", the pseudonym that the author uses for his book, which attains almost instant best-seller status and, inevitably, renown for Marc, whose real identity a television feature about the book reveals, much to Marc's consternation, for Marc knows that Alice despises the book and everything for which it stands (and which Marc had believed only briefly, after all, to be true). Alice, seeing the TV show, falls into a monumental temper-tantrum and deserts Marc. It is up to the reader of this review to find out for himself how Marc and Alice reconcile, something that happens as the result of many absurd and delightful adventures along the way to their reunion.

There are various sub-plots that occur, mostly involving some of Marc's friends and relatives. The Afro-Gallic character, Jean-Georges (acted by Joey Starr) has perhaps the most amusing one. This womaniser suddenly falls in love with his male surfing instructor (Thomas Jouannet). The two men unite by means of a colourfully New-Age surf-themed gay wedding over which one very wacky guru, babbling gibberish, absurdly presides.

This film is endlessly inventive, spewing fun and froth at the entranced viewer in just about every unexpected way imaginable. Some music lovers will be pleased not only that Marc's favourite songwriter is Michel Legrand, but that Legrand actually makes an appearance in the movie, seen playing the piano and singing his own music. For some viewers, Anglophones who are too staid or stolid of temperament to enjoy this movie's antic revels, it may be "just a bit too much" for their taste, but for others "L'Amour dure trois ans" will be the comedy discovery of the year in which they encounter it!

PHANTOM BY CARNES,RYAN (Blu-Ray)
PHANTOM BY CARNES,RYAN (Blu-Ray)
Offered by moviemars-canada
Price: CDN$ 14.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Without Devil, the Hound, around, or Hero, His Horse, but with Lots of Pluck, Young Heir to the Mantle of Phantom Sallies forth!, Feb. 4 2015
This review is from: PHANTOM BY CARNES,RYAN (Blu-Ray)
Admittedly, the concept of this up-dated "take" on The Phantom, the old-time syndicated comic mystic rider (a more appropriate designation than "superhero" for what that comic used to represent), is better than its realisation. Of course, such a junior Phantom would not be the inscrutable travelling sage and adventurer which that figure was in the "funny pages" (to which he lent some air of "gravitas") in the press of the 1940s and 1950s, as I recall from reading "The Phantom" in the newspapers back then as a child and teen. This 2009 film, rather wisely perhaps, lays out new ground in Phantom lore, in imagining some newly conceived, youthful adventures in a more modern setting for that comics hero. One should be able to tell that this is so from the subtitle which the DVD's packaging presents. The full title thereon (here placing a word entirely in capital letters, for emphasis) is "The Phantom: REIMAGINED and Reloaded". And reconceived, indeed, is the Phantom whom Ryan Carnes depicts!

As for the 1943 moving pictures serial, which can cumulate nicely into a lengthy movie, the portrayal of the Phantom therein, much closer to his image in the comics, differs almost entirely from the 2009 film. I especially miss Devil, the Phantom's trusty, clever, and valiant canine companion (a wonderfully well trained hound, beautiful German shepherd that he was), playing a significant and endearing role way back then in the 1943 production. Kit Walker, the Phantom in the 2009 movie, whose adventures and exploits are more prevailingly urban, has no animal helpers like Devil (a grey mountain wolf in the comics) or the Phantom's steed, Hero.

As the "twenty-something" heir to the family Phantom line, Kip Walker as Ryan Carnes plays the part looks, at this point in his career, somewhat like the boyish Don Johnson at a similar age (i.e., pre-"Miami Vice"), extending to the winsomely sunny smile, but Carnes, already rather physically more robust, is not so downright memorably pretty a lad as Johnson, who was epicene perfection personified. Carnes embodies the youthful Phantom convincingly, clearly having the makings of the character of The Phantom as he would mature, but the entire aura of this once-mysterious figure differs much from the 1943 movie serial, quite apart from the modernisation of the 2009 version's cinematic setting. The other characters suitably fit their parts, dramatically and visually.

While the movie location for shooting it, Montréal, simulates the boroughs of New York City very well, the major roles are assigned to American actors. However. the production team and the rest of the cast do Québec and Canadian cinema proud. I especially enjoyed Peruvian-Québécois actor Victor Andrés Turgeon-Trelles' brief appearances in both parts of the film as Kip's friend and contemporary, Jordy; Turgeon-Trelles' movies have tended to be "art films", so seeing him in this very commercial cinematic mode is an interesting change of pace for him.

The film had its origins as a TV "pilot", presumably in both of the two episodes, which are included together on the DVD. In one of the two bonus features included, there was some indication that a television series had been hoped to result, something which did not come to pass. Perhaps if the conception had been for a motion picture from the outset the film would have had tighter construction; as it is the level of interest and forward momentum sag at times. It is rather refreshing, in a way, to see a superhero film that does not rely on spectacular filming technique, C.G.I., and the like, but which proceeds unspectacularly but nonetheless appropriately for a movie in its genre. I'll be watching this DVD numerous times again (on the North American edition of it that I own, i.e. Vivendi Entertainment RH-2830), if only from pride in so many of its good Québec production values!

PHANTOM BY CARNES,RYAN (DVD)
PHANTOM BY CARNES,RYAN (DVD)
Offered by moviemars-canada
Price: CDN$ 13.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Ryan Carnes Makes a Good Showing in This Drastically Updated Retake on that Mystic Rider, the Phantom, Feb. 4 2015
This review is from: PHANTOM BY CARNES,RYAN (DVD)
Admittedly, the concept of this up-dated "take" on The Phantom, the old-time syndicated comic mystic rider (a more appropriate designation than "superhero" for what that comic used to represent), is better than its realisation. Of course, such a junior Phantom would not be the inscrutable travelling sage and adventurer which that figure was in the "funny pages" (to which he lent some air of "gravitas") in the press of the 1940s and 1950s, as I recall from reading "The Phantom" in the newspapers back then as a child and teen. This 2009 film, rather wisely perhaps, lays out new ground in Phantom lore, in imagining some newly conceived, youthful adventures in a more modern setting for that comics hero. One should be able to tell that this is so from the subtitle which the DVD's packaging presents. The full title thereon (here placing a word entirely in capital letters, for emphasis) is "The Phantom: REIMAGINED and Reloaded". And reconceived, indeed, is the Phantom whom Ryan Carnes depicts!

As for the 1943 moving pictures serial, which can cumulate nicely into a lengthy movie, the portrayal of the Phantom therein, much closer to his image in the comics, differs almost entirely from the 2009 film. I especially miss Devil, the Phantom's trusty, clever, and valiant canine companion (a wonderfully well trained hound, beautiful German shepherd that he was), playing a significant and endearing role way back then in the 1943 production. Kit Walker, the Phantom in the 2009 movie, whose adventures and exploits are more prevailingly urban, has no animal helpers like Devil (a grey mountain wolf in the comics) or the Phantom's steed, Hero.

As the "twenty-something" heir to the family Phantom line, Kip Walker as Ryan Carnes plays the part looks, at this point in his career, somewhat like the boyish Don Johnson at a similar age (i.e., pre-"Miami Vice"), extending to the winsomely sunny smile, but Carnes, already rather physically more robust, is not so downright memorably pretty a lad as Johnson, who was epicene perfection personified. Carnes embodies the youthful Phantom convincingly, clearly having the makings of the character of The Phantom as he would mature, but the entire aura of this once-mysterious figure differs much from the 1943 movie serial, quite apart from the modernisation of the 2009 version's cinematic setting. The other characters suitably fit their parts, dramatically and visually.

While the movie location for shooting it, Montréal, simulates the boroughs of New York City very well, the major roles are assigned to American actors. However. the production team and the rest of the cast do Québec and Canadian cinema proud. I especially enjoyed Peruvian-Québécois actor Victor Andrés Turgeon-Trelles' brief appearances in both parts of the film as Kip's friend and contemporary, Jordy; Turgeon-Trelles' movies have tended to be "art films", so seeing him in this very commercial cinematic mode is an interesting change of pace for him.

The film had its origins as a TV "pilot", presumably in both of the two episodes, which are included together on the DVD. In one of the two bonus features included, there was some indication that a television series had been hoped to result, something which did not come to pass. Perhaps if the conception had been for a motion picture from the outset the film would have had tighter construction; as it is the level of interest and forward momentum sag at times. It is rather refreshing, in a way, to see a superhero film that does not rely on spectacular filming technique, C.G.I., and the like, but which proceeds unspectacularly but nonetheless appropriately for a movie in its genre. I'll be watching this DVD numerous times again (on the North American edition of it that I own, i.e. Vivendi Entertainment RH-2830), if only from pride in so many of its good Québec production values!

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