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Gerald Parker "Gerald Parker" (Rouyn-Noranda, QC., Dominion of Canada)
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Lake Boat [Import]
Lake Boat [Import]
DVD ~ Charles Durning
Price: CDN$ 11.03
14 used & new from CDN$ 3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable "Slice(s) of Life" aboard a Cargo Ship on the Great Lakes, April 17 2014
This review is from: Lake Boat [Import] (DVD)
This is a movie without any particular plot, but rather one that concentrates on the proletarian merchant marine sailors who figure in it. A Jewish graduate student in the University of Massachusetts (my Alma Mater, but not the Amherst campus which the film suggests) works for the summer on a freighter (too big to be a "boat") and gets used to the rough and somewhat daft ways of the ship's sailors, most of them notably older (indeed quite a lot older) than he is. One can see him growing more accustomed to such life and blending in, as the months pass, with his shipmates on the rusty old vessel.

The dialogue is mostly trivial, some of it of the "shaggy dog" story variety. The sailors recount, each with his "take" on one of their lusty shipmates, Guigliani, younger, more physically fit, and sexier than any of the others, about whom all tell tales of his boozing, brawling, and consorting with loose women, including one about an unfortunate encounter with a prostitute in a back alley that has an amusing number of contradictory variants. Guigliani has missed the departure of his ship, so the sailors are free to say whatever they want about him without fear of immediate contradiction. At film's end, there he is, Guigliani himself, abrubtly leaving a sleazy, worn, alcoholic bar-fly (who is not at all of the luscious calibre that the crew's stories describe in their accounts of his picaresque doings) at last to come back to rejoin his crewmates just as the student leaves to return to university for the fall semester. (The segments about Guigliani's onshore adventures are in b&w, the film elsewhere being in colour.)

Having been a sailor only in military life at sea (U.S. Navy), on a Second World War vintage destroyer (thus a small warship, at that), I cannot vouch for how authentic the freighter featured, the Seaway Queen, really is. I only rarely have had the opportunity to board and view merchant ships of the kind, those that ply the Saint-Laurent River on their way to the Great Lakes or which sail the Atlantic Ocean. However, I would be surprised if the living quarters on a ship like the Seaway Queen would be so spacious and relatively comfortable, albeit plain and unadorned, or that the engine room of such a large vessel would be so small-scale. A ship of the name was used in making the film, so I would suppose that I likely could be wrong about that!

The movie is about character, atmosphere, sailors' humour, and it succeeds in its aims, with a minimum of "real action". The music for it is sophisticated and of high quality, late swing music, vocals heavy, of the type so successful in the 1940s through late 1950s. The DVD edition (T,V,A, Films 00020, two-sided, one in English, the other in French) which I acquired has no special features or subtitles, but such assets vary with other editions available.

The Sense of Beauty; Being the Outlines of Aesthetic Theory MODERN LIBRARY # 292
The Sense of Beauty; Being the Outlines of Aesthetic Theory MODERN LIBRARY # 292
by George Santayana
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from CDN$ 11.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably Cogent and Mostly Convincing Analysis of Aesthetic Values, April 5 2014
I have owned the Modern Library edition of George Santayana's "The Sense of Beauty" for by far most of my life, having purchased it as a young teenager. Santayana and Kierkegaard early on became my favourite philosophers, but of the two Santayana is by far the easier to read. Of course, I read Kierkegaard's "Either/Or" in English translation; despite being part Scandanavian, my ability to read any Nordic language while still that young was zilch. Years afterwards, I still can only struggle with Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish, only when in graduate school at Kent State University having attained enough skill to use it, haltingly but adequately, in my graduate assistant's work! Thus, while I feel confident assessing the quality of Santayana's English, I cannot judge how well a translation into English can render Kierkegaard's Danish. (Neither my undergraduate nor my graduate studies were as a major in philosophy, which in my case is a non-specialist pleasure.) S

antayana, amazingly, wrote his philosophical works in English, even though he was a native Spaniard; atop that, Sanatayana wrote in English that is surpassingly fine, cogent, and outrightly elegant, which makes reading his philosophy a literary pleasure, not just a philosophical chore. Santayana's mastery of the English language and the lucidity of his thinkingwas such that he almost never had to revise his first drafts; he also could lecture in English of equal elegance and cogency, something indeed very remarkable.

Santayana was, essentially, a Catholic humanist, who drifted into secular convictions but who still held to a kind of attenuated Catholic intellectualism. That, too, in the context of Harvard University's then prevailing (late 19th century) "Calvinist hangover" towards which he always felt himself to stand in contrast and antipathy. That discomfort with New England eventually drove him back to his native Spain, onwards after that to Italy. There is a wonderful warmth and nobility to Santayana's aesthetics. Although he rejected all divine notions that Beauty is a God-bestowed endowment of what seems to be of fairly universal appeal to humans as being beautiful, he held that what attracts men and women to what is considered to be beautiful is attributable to any artistic or natural object's inherent qualities. This contrasts to reductionists of his own and especially of later times who would regard beauty as completely subjective to one's individual mind rather than to the sensibilities of the human species in general.

Santayana also partook of the "genteel" mood of his times, but in an intelligent rather than in a merely conformist way. That gentility, it would seem to me, affects his unsatisfying understanding of the comic, the grotesque, and the downright ugly, all of which, to Santayana, evoke pain, which, being disagreeable, limits the aesthetic potention of what is not more serious art, as he views that. In the realm of the comic, Santayana only only regards Wit to be inherently aesthetic, whereas the comic, imbued with elements of discomfort or some degree of pain, even in masterworks of the comic genre, never have the advantage that more elevated, sublime, or, for that matter, merely pleasurable "serious" works of art can be said to have far more fully. That verdict on the comic would seem dubious not only to me but to many others nowadays (or even in the past!). Since Santayana turns his attention to The Comic at the end of his work, compared to the deep insights of what had preceded in the book, his discussion of what is comic (and related thereto) brings the book to an end that does not compare to the pleasures and more valid insights which had preceded. However, READ THIS BOOK! It is wonderful in a way that has become all too rare since Santayana's own times.

In Praise of Older Women [Import]
In Praise of Older Women [Import]
DVD ~ Juan Diego Botto

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Filmed, with Handsome Juan Diego Botti, in the Main Role, The Spanish Movie Still Cedes Place to the Canadian Film, April 4 2014
The earlier film entitled "In Praise of Older Women" had a momentous part to play in helping the Canadian film industry to get firmly on its own two feet. The novel itself upon which it and this later Spanish film, too, were based had been a strong seller and were of real influence abroad, too, as well as in the Dominion of Canada. The Canadian motion picture based upon the novel (ThinkFilm TF-1165 being one of its DVD editions), which bears the novel's own primary English title, was epoch-making in Canadian film history and very daring for the Canada of 1978.

So great so was the book's lasting appeal abroad, on the other hand, that this led, in 1997 in Spain, to the appearance, from Lolafilms, of this other zesty but less sexually sizzling film, "En brazos de la mujer madura" (Studio Latino DVD-22142-1), which based itself more loosely upon the book, setting the action in Spain during, and just after, the Spanish Civil War, ending at an earlier point in the story, and that featured actor Juan Diego Botto as the pleasingly handsome and sexually adventurous young man (of whose naked flesh, alas, one beholds much less than one sees of Tom Berenger's in the earlier film). As for the Canadian movie, it may be rather neglected today, but it once it had been quite controversial and wildly successful (both by Canada's standards) and even helped in no small part to topple Ontario film censorship from its privileged but utterly prudish and barbaric position at the time (1978 was the year of release, the film dating 1977 in the end credits). The Spanish approximate remake did not exert such a strong influence and, in fact, seems a bit tame, sexually, compared to the Canadian film.

Juan Diego Botto, appealingly lean-and-lanky with a sensuous face and taut body, undergoes a remarkable transformation from boyishly awkward, shy youth to sleekly sexy 20s-something early adulthood, visually being as convincing as the 15-years-old teenager as he is later in the film as an adventurously amourous university student. In that regard, he outdoes even Tom Berenger in making that transformation, though Berenger, too, is credible as a guy in his mid-teens, 20s, and onwards to early 30s.

The Spanish film is set during the Spanish Civil War and its immediate aftermath. (The attempted revolution depicted in the Canadian film was the one which occurred during the mid-1950s in Hungary.) The scruffy countryside and towns in Spain's rural areas contrast markedly with the scenes in Barcelona, where, reunited, the mother's peacetime trajectory and her lusty son's studies take them. The film ends (abruptly it seems to someone having seen the earlier Canadian version of the story, which continues the novel's story further into the young man's future) at his departure from Spain to the Western Hemisphere, to Argentina, rather than (as filmed at locations in Montréal, partly simulating Budapest) from Hungary to Canada, as in in the earlier movie).

The movies differ so much in locale and in alike details and larger aspects of plot, that it is counter-productive to compare the Spanish one to the Canadian film too closely. Each of them is highly enjoyable on its own terms, but the Canadian movie, much more explicitly erotic, is the one that well may more rewardingly bear repeated viewings than the Spanish one would do so for most viewers.

The Woman in the Fifth (Bilingual)
The Woman in the Fifth (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Kristin Scott Thomas
Offered by biddeal
Price: CDN$ 40.54
7 used & new from CDN$ 4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Oddly Haunting Film Suspended between the Possible and the Improbable, between Madness and Strangeness, March 31 2014
"Woman in the Fifth" (Mongrel DVD-4857 being the North American edition which I acquired) is a strange and unsettling film which opens question upon perplexing question in the viewer's mind and resolves nothing, even at the end. My "take" is that Margit, one of the novelist's two lovers, who, it turns out, had died a decade and an half before the time of the action portrayed even begins, somehow has drawn the protagonist into another realm of time and being, suspended between present and past. Having come to Paris to be near the daughter of his marriage with a wife now estranged, divorced, the writer, depending on one's perception, either sinks into a shadow life of mental illness or into the realm of the esoteric and occult, although he does not realise how fully until the film's dénouement of the various strands of his life and those of others among the cast. Ethan Hawke as the writer is bewildered, sad, and yet at times impetuously sexy despite the pervasive gloom of his moodiness, frustration, and torment.

Some find the motion picture chaotic and disorganised. I disagree about that. The film is wonderfully artistic, and, weird and it turns out more and more to be as its action proceeds, there is a clear line, one that is artistic and intuitive, from beginning to end, though not one that is susceptible to logical explanation and analysis. There are no extra features included, either, at least in the DVD as I found it, to help to shed some light on the film's tantalisingly unresolved mysteries or regarding what prompted the movie's creators to produce what they did. The film is just its own, by turns grungy, sensuously bittersweet, and rather nightmarishly peculiar self, a wondrously odd work of art. It is not, however, for those who regard as essential a tight movie plot and straightforward path to a clear conclusion!

Sexy Buffalo Boys (VOST)
Sexy Buffalo Boys (VOST)
Offered by Prestivo3
Price: CDN$ 108.68
2 used & new from CDN$ 108.68

5.0 out of 5 stars This Truly Is One of the Very Finest Gay Independent Films That I Have Seen, One of Rollicking Hilarity, Too, March 31 2014
This review is from: Sexy Buffalo Boys (VOST) (DVD)
"Sexy Buffalo Boys" is one of the most endearingly charming and entertaining independent films featuring gay production and talent that ever I have seen. (It also is known by the alternative title, "Longhorns".) The budget for the project, obviously, was limited, but no large-scale effects or artificial settings were needed, so a lot of money was not required (or probably even desirable).

Jacob Newton, as Kevin, is a real cutie, coltishly exuberant and sensuously irresistible, perfectly cast in the central role of one truly oversexed young dude, good at bedding the college women, but also, it turns out, even better in bed with the lads (as his gay instincts especially draw him into arousing them at groin level so skillfully by mouth or hand), as he repeatedly finds out to his confused chagrin. Newton's talents as well as his looks, dressed or full-frontally buck-naked, are utterly perfect for the role. As such an erotically mega-charged undergrad college boy, surprised by where his feelings and inclinations, in situations of delicious hilarity, take him, no better casting could be desired! It is very pleasing, as well, that Newton is a native Southerner (in real life hailing from Louisville, Ky.), which helps to make his spoken dialogue to sound so natural in this 2011 film's 1982 Texas setting. And Derek Efrain Villanueva, as César, is the perfect foil for Newton, a very different kind of young gay dude, one who is very confident in his homosexuality but is alike of more sleekly delicate physique, and of more innately refined sensibilities, than the taller and varyingly more robust young men in the cast who surround him.

The two protagonists, though so different, were destined for each other! And that is how things turn out, too. This little film is destined for a gay man's utter enjoyment! Although I acquired the DVD only rather recently, I have watched it several times, with ever greater delight.

Back Soon [Import]
Back Soon [Import]
DVD ~ Windham Beacham
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 9.30
16 used & new from CDN$ 9.30

3.0 out of 5 stars Great Premise for a Better Movie Than This One Has the Means to Be, March 24 2014
This review is from: Back Soon [Import] (DVD)
This movie cries out for "bigger" treatment, with bigger stars (for example, to think really ambitiously, the likes of James Franco with Andrew Garfield, but hopefully featuring the same leading actress, who has a lot of potential for something larger in scope), with a bigger budget, and suggesting bigger horizons. The premise that two persons, in simultaneous near-death experiences, share a bond when one (a man) revives, though the other (a woman) dies, and the surviving male inherits the love of the woman for her erstwhile husband (with many other things in common with the deceased wife) could make a great sci-fi/fantasy motion picture for Hollywood, or, given the sexual angle, an independent studio of means sufficient to make of such a project a grander work, with more vivid and eerie suggestions of the paranormal, than "Back Soon" ever could be and could do on such limited production means.

This film nonetheless was made, obviously on a budget too modest to realise fully enough such an ambitious concept, but it still is an interesting one to view. The men of the cast, while lacking glamour as much as more dramatic flair, are reasonably easy on the eyes, although their respective talents are insufficient to draw out to the maximum what is inherent in the scenario.

The result, despite all of the reservations expressed, is a film worth viewing.

Redwoods [Import]
Redwoods [Import]
DVD ~ Matthew Montgomery
Price: CDN$ 11.07
13 used & new from CDN$ 6.82

3.0 out of 5 stars Worth Watching, but Be Patient for This Film to Make Its Own, Low-key Impact on You, March 23 2014
This review is from: Redwoods [Import] (DVD)
This film is rather too long for its content, hence it come to drag along somnolently quite a bit. It is best to think of this as a kind of lyric statement on genuine gay male love. Its whole tone is, essentially, elegiac. Neither of the lead actors is particularly handsome. Both have nice enough physiques, which makes beholding them buck-naked a pleasant experience, but each of them in his own way lacks the grace that God gives to man with a face of an appeal commensurate with such fine corporeal assets. That said, Matthew Montgomery, as Chase, is rather sexy, in an off-beat, raw sort of way. The eye follows him with interest, and, frankly, Montgomery is a much better actor, too, than Brendan Bradley (as Everett), who is droopy and fey, making for, as it were, mass-baked "white bread" blandness (even for downright insipidity). If both men had been, physically, more closely equal in allure to the eye, as well as better matched dramatically, the film would have made a greater impact.

There is an hyper-bourgeois, "yuppie" quality to all of this that, added to the pervading sentimentality, becomes pretty darn cloying way, way too often. At times I just felt a bit "green at the gills" from all this high-coloric emotional content. It was worth bearing with the film, however, in no small part due to all the gorgeous Pacific Northwest natural splendour that bathes this film in a halo of great outdoors beauty. It is almost worth viewing the film for that alone! Be forewarned!

In Praise Of Older Women - Vf / Hommage Aux Femmes D'Un Certain Age (Bilingual)
In Praise Of Older Women - Vf / Hommage Aux Femmes D'Un Certain Age (Bilingual)
Price: CDN$ 6.99
5 used & new from CDN$ 5.22

4.0 out of 5 stars A 1970s Canadian Movie That Has Stood up Well over the Years, Still Very Sexy and Enjoyable, March 20 2014
"In Praise of Older Women" had a momentous part to play in helping the Canadian film industry to get firmly on its own two feet. The novel on which it is based itself had been a strong seller and of real influence in the Dominion of Canada and abroad, too. So great so was the book's lasting appeal abroad that this led, in 1997 in Spain, to the appearance, from Lolafilms, of another zesty but less daring film, "En brazos de la mujer madura" (Studio Latino DVD-22142-1), which based itself more loosely upon the book, setting the action in Spain during, and just after, the Spanish Civil War, ending at an earlier point in the story, and that featured actor Juan Diego Botto as the pleasingly handsome and sexually adventurous young man (of whose naked flesh, alas, one beholds much less than one sees of Tom Berenger's in the earlier film). The Canadian movie itself may be rather neglected today, but it once was quite controversial and wildly successful (both by Canada's standards) and even helped in no small part to topple Ontario film censorship from its privileged but utterly prudish and barbaric position at the time (1978 was the year of release, the film dating 1977 in the end credits).

For sure, one thing that makes the Canadian film so wildly enjoyable to see is the acting, in and (especially!) out of clothes, of Tom Berenger, the American actor brought in to play the lead male role. His physical beauty and smouldering sensuality are utterly captivating. One fortunately gets to see, as already implied, a lot of his bare flesh in this film, though never quite full frontally nude, his male genitalia (beyond pubic hair) only very fleetingly glimpsed. The women in his life as serial lover (played by variously Canadian and American actresses) from a false start in his childhood, then from age sixteen onwards, are a variable lot, but most of them very "easy on the eyes" and act from acceptably to very proficiently.

Costing one million 1977 (Canadian) dollars to produce, the film was not a "cheapie" effort by any means, but it does somehow manage to look lower budget than really was the case. No matter; not to worry, for the film is highly enjoyable on its own terms and any faults can be chalked up to the Canadian film industry's relative immaturity at the time. The film, both Budapest and Montréal scenes, was filmed alike on sets and on location in Montréal.

The film is of more than merely historical interest. Get one of the DVD editions (of which this viewer has it widescreen as ThinkFilm TF-11605). It would have helped a bit to have subtitles available, for even for someone increasingly hard of hearing it nonetheless was possible to make out most (by far) of the English dialogue (and French spoken dialogue is an option). The featurette about the making of the film is rewardingly informative and detailed, a valuable "extra", indeed, for a DVD edition.

In Praise of Older Women
In Praise of Older Women
DVD ~ Tom Berenger
Price: CDN$ 9.60
11 used & new from CDN$ 5.48

4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Important Film in Canadian Cinema History, One Which Also Is Still a Lot of Fun to View, March 19 2014
This review is from: In Praise of Older Women (DVD)
"In Praise of Older Women" had a momentous part to play in helping the Canadian film industry to get firmly on its own two feet. The novel on which it is based itself had been a strong seller and of real influence in the Dominion of Canada and abroad, too. So great so was the book's lasting appeal abroad that this led, in 1997 in Spain, to the appearance, from Lolafilms, of another zesty but less daring film, "En brazos de la mujer madura" (Studio Latino DVD-22142-1), which based itself more loosely upon the book, setting the action in Spain during, and just after, the Spanish Civil War, ending at an earlier point in the story, and that featured actor Juan Diego Botto as the pleasingly handsome and sexually adventurous young man (of whose naked flesh, alas, one beholds much less than one sees of Tom Berenger's in the earlier film). The Canadian movie itself may be rather neglected today, but it once was quite controversial and wildly successful (both by Canada's standards) and even helped in no small part to topple Ontario film censorship from its privileged but utterly prudish and barbaric position at the time (1978 was the year of release, the film dating 1977 in the end credits).

For sure, one thing that makes the Canadian film so wildly enjoyable to see is the acting, in and (especially!) out of clothes, of Tom Berenger, the American actor brought in to play the lead male role. His physical beauty and smouldering sensuality are utterly captivating. One fortunately gets to see, as already implied, a lot of his bare flesh in this film, though never quite full frontally nude, his male genitalia (beyond pubic hair) only very fleetingly glimpsed. The women in his life as serial lover (played by variously Canadian and American actresses) from a false start in his childhood, then from age sixteen onwards, are a variable lot, but most of them very "easy on the eyes" and act from acceptably to very proficiently.

Costing one million 1977 (Canadian) dollars to produce, the film was not a "cheapie" effort by any means, but it does somehow manage to look lower budget than really was the case. No matter; not to worry, for the film is highly enjoyable on its own terms and any faults can be chalked up to the Canadian film industry's relative immaturity at the time. The film, both Budapest and Montréal scenes, was filmed alike on sets and on location in Montréal.

The film is of more than merely historical interest. Get one of the DVD editions (of which this viewer has it widescreen as ThinkFilm TF-11605). It would have helped a bit to have subtitles available, for even for someone increasingly hard of hearing it nonetheless was possible to make out most (by far) of the English dialogue (and French spoken dialogue is an option). The featurette about the making of the film is rewardingly informative and detailed, a valuable "extra", indeed, for a DVD edition.

Generation Um [Import]
Generation Um [Import]
Offered by newtownvideo_ca
Price: CDN$ 24.62
7 used & new from CDN$ 24.61

3.0 out of 5 stars Torn Languidly between Boredom and Sheer Torpor, but, Hey!, It's Got Keanu!, Feb. 28 2014
This review is from: Generation Um [Import] (DVD)
"Generation Um" (released 2011) is a very static film, more about the ennui of being by turns bored, underemployed, irritated, and unmotivated in a big city (various parts of greater New York City). I guess that a lot of life in 20th and 21st century times has been, and can be like that, especially if one is so lax in exercising any control over his life and ways as the characters in this film are. One of the two leading ladies does fellate John (who is Keanu Reeves' character), not in the apartment which she and he (as well as the other young woman) share, but in a public restroom, to John's visible delight. At another point he has an escape scene bounding away, several people in hot pursuit, with a portable film camera that he has stolen and his use of which forms most of what the remainder of the movie is about. The scene of Keanu filming and trying to outwit the camera-shy squirrels is cute, in a pretty inner-city park. Keanu's quirkily bobbing and bouncing head and torso dance motions at the steering wheel of his automobile have some charm, too. Most of the time, though, things are worse than dull; they are just in near-complete stasis for the 96-min. duration of this motion picture.

There is little point for most viewers to bother with the extended and cut footage, among the scant extra features on the widescreen bilingual edition (English and French, but with no subtitles in those or in any other languages) which I have. If anything, such footage is even more snooze-inducing than what is in the final film itself.

I am an "unconditional" fan of Keanu Reeves, so I watched the whole, seemingly endless thing. Keanu looks just fine in the film, lean-and-lankily fit and scruffily semi-bearded. It certainly is not his fault that this film is so listless; what little of genuine interest in it is due to his acting and to the New York cityscape itself. I'll keep this DVD "for completeness' sake" among my many, many Keanu Reeves films, but I doubt that I am likely to view it again any time soon.

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