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Gerald Parker "Gerald Parker" (Rouyn-Noranda, QC., Dominion of Canada)
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Around the Block by Random Media
Around the Block by Random Media
DVD ~ Sarah Spillane
Offered by JnP Store Canada
Price: CDN$ 44.69

4.0 out of 5 stars Saved from Mediocrity and from Some "Politically Correct" Silliness by Magnificent Acting of Young Actor, Hunter Page-Lochard, Aug. 3 2015
The assessment of "Around the Block", for Amazon-U.S. and Amazon-Canada, that "Movie Guy" made is right on the mark. The film is enjoyable, for the most part, but not a first-class effort or production. It is one of those "life parallels" films to a Shakespeare play, this one to "Hamlet", rather than, as so often, to "Macbeth", "King Lear", or "Romeo and Julet", and so on. The parallels are just a tad too heavy-handed and obvious to be considered as artistically satisfying. So are the social, sexual (including lesbian), poverty, and other issues that the film tackles, with varying success. I certainly can vouch that the movie's editing was wise to exclude the deleted scenes which one sees among the DVD's bonuses; those bits of the film, had they been included, only would have weighted it down with even clumsier didacticism and with yet heavier doses of the sentiments which, in already too great supply, flaw so much of that which appears elsewhere in the movie.

For the most part, the mainly Australian cast speaks understandably enough for a Canadian or American audience to understand easily. Nonetheless, in an edition aimed at the North American market, subtitles definitely would have been helpful, the more so for those, like myself, who are somewhat hard-of-hearing, but, at least on the edition viewed (Ramdom Media RM-4400), they were not provided. It helped me, as compensation for that, to read the reviews, which reveal much of the synopsis of the movie, that I found readily enough on the Web, done by Joe Leydon for "Variety" magasine's site and another written up for "The Hollywood Reporter" by David Rooney. What one finds about the film on the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) and on Wikipedia simply, in each case, is too skimpy to offer much help. The reviews referred to both were quite negative, too much so in my view, especially for a film showcasing so well the extraordinary talents of Hunter Page-Lochard, the young Australian Aborigine actor who depicts Liam Wood's character, the one who is in the school production cast of "Hamlet" in the title role of Shakespeare's play.

I first saw Hunter Page-Lochard in "The Sapphires", an Australian musical film in which he played a bit part. Even in that context, it was clear to my eyes that this cutely attractive young dude is very gifted as a film actor. Here, in "Around the Block", the script gives him magnificent opportunities to shine; his dramatic intensity and boundless involvement in the film make the best of even the most over-the-top excesses or uncomfortably smarmy sentiment in the script of his scenes. Page-Lochard acts all of his part, the good and the tawdry alike which writer-director Sarah Spillane provided for the motion picture, so well, with such magnificent screen presence, that he raises an otherwise mediocre film to a cinematic work of genuine and gripping interest. For comment on the contributions of the other actors in the cast, what the clutch of good reviews on Amazon, on its U.S. and other national Web sites, have to say suffices, therefore I shall not prolong my own comments on the movie to deal with their contributions. For Hunter Page-Lochard's sake, this movie definitely is worth viewing!

Around the Block
Around the Block
DVD ~ Christina Ricci
Price: CDN$ 19.99
23 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars This Motion Picture Is a Triumph for Australian Aborigine Actor, Hunter Page-Lochard!, Aug. 2 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Around the Block (DVD)
The assessment of "Around the Block", for Amazon-Canada, that "Movie Guy" made is on the mark. The film is enjoyable, for the most part, but not a first-class effort or production. It is one of those "life parallels" films to a Shakespeare play, this one to "Hamlet", rather than, as so often, to "Macbeth", "King Lear", or "Romeo and Julet", and so on. The parallels are just a tad too heavy-handed and obvious to be considered as artistically satisfying. So are the social, sexual (including lesbian), poverty, and other issues that the film tackles, with varying success. I certainly can vouch that the movie's editing was wise to exclude the deleted scenes which one sees among the DVD's bonuses; those bits of the film, had they been included, only would have weighted it down with even clumsier didacticism and with yet heavier doses of the sentiments which, in already too great supply, flaw so much of that which appears elsewhere in the movie.

For the most part, the mainly Australian cast speaks understandably enough for a Canadian or American audience to understand easily. Nonetheless, in an edition aimed at the North American market, subtitles definitely would have been helpful, the more so for those, like myself, who are somewhat hard-of-hearing, but, at least on the edition viewed (Ramdom Media RM-4400), they were not provided. It helped me, as compensation for that, to read the reviews, which reveal much of the synopsis of the movie, that I found readily enough on the Web, done by Joe Leydon for "Variety" magasine's site and another written up for "The Hollywood Reporter" by David Rooney. What one finds about the film on the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) and on Wikipedia simply, in each case, is too skimpy to offer much help. The reviews referred to both were quite negative, too much so in my view, especially for a film showcasing so well the extraordinary talents of Hunter Page-Lochard, the young Australian Aborigine actor who depicts Liam Wood's character, the one who is in the school production cast of "Hamlet" in the title role of Shakespeare's play.

I first saw Hunter Page-Lochard in "The Sapphires", an Australian musical film in which he played a bit part. Even in that context, it was clear to my eyes that this cutely attractive young dude is very gifted as a film actor. Here, in "Around the Block", the script gives him magnificent opportunities to shine; his dramatic intensity and boundless involvement in the film make the best of even the most over-the-top excesses or uncomfortably smarmy sentiment in the script of his scenes. Page-Lochard acts all of his part, the good and the tawdry alike which writer-director Sarah Spillane provided for the motion picture, so well, with such magnificent screen presence, that he raises an otherwise mediocre film to a cinematic work of genuine and gripping interest. For comment on the contributions of the other actors in the cast, what the clutch of good reviews on Amazon, on its U.S. and other national Web sites, have to say suffices, therefore I shall not prolong my own comments on the movie to deal with their contributions. For Hunter Page-Lochard's sake, this movie definitely is worth viewing!

Lovers
Lovers
DVD ~ Jean-Marc Barr
Offered by Planet Video
Price: CDN$ 5.99
4 used & new from CDN$ 5.87

3.0 out of 5 stars Modest, but Promising Start of a Cinematic Trilogy, Featuring a Fugitive Yugoslav Refugee and the Book Shop Clerk Whom He Loves, July 13 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Lovers (DVD)
Having seen the other two films in Jean-Marc Barr's "The Freelogy", I at last have gotten around to viewing the first of them, "Lovers" (Remstar 20041 being the North American edition viewed). In fact, by the time that I realised that these films were part of a trilogy, I had ended up seeing them in reverse order, starting with "Being Light", the most cinematographically polished movie of the three, which stars the only true cinema celebrity in any of the threesome, Romain Duris, and which is by far the most artistically satisfying of these films. There has been an edition of the "The Freelogy" offering all of them in a single package, with the trilogy's English name and its French one ("La Trilogie de la liberté") being the titles for that product. For editions of the individual films, each has appeared under its own title only. Here follows a description, adapted from how the data appears on the list of my personal DVD/VHS collection, of the trilogy, as the three films have been marketed movie-by-movie.

["The Freelogy = La Trilogie de la liberte"]. A Cinematic trilogy (the title, 'Freelogy' being, apparently, a neologism mashing together words for 'free love', or for "freedom", and for 'trilogy') of these films relating, quite loosely and variously, to human love and sexual desire. The individual movies also have been packaged and sold together and also separately released and distributed. Consists of: [1], "Lovers: the Story of a Love, [of] a True Love". Probably produced for telecast, especially on cable stations; with this DVD is found a col. ill. sheet of [2] p., held within the same container as the DVD. -- [2], "Too Much Flesh" [i.e., excessive naked fornication, with an unusually large, thick penis]. Probably produced for telecast, especially on cable channels. -- [3], "Being Light". This is the film of the trilogy which is the most cinematically produced, with higher quality of its visual and sound elements than found in the other two films. Among its cast is Romain Duris.

The viewer need not fear that he is missing out on anything really essential by delving into the "Freelogy" for only one or two of the films, without seeing the others. Co-director and co-screenwriter Jean-Marc Barr (who also appears among the cast of actors in "Too Much Flesh" and in "Being Light", but not in "Lovers") has produced such a loosely related gaggle of films in "The Freelogy" that they really (whatever Barr's and co-directing partner Pascal Arnold's intentions may have been) have little in common between them. While "Lovers" has about as much sexually explicit scenes as one would expect of a French film in recent decades, it is only "Too Much Flesh" which is so besettingly copulative and nude to the point that one could class it as outright erotica.

In "Lovers" Jeanne (or "Jane" as her lover calls her, that being the French name's English equivalent), played by Élodie Bouchez (who appears in all three of the components of "The Freelogy"), works in a book shop which Dragan, an Yugoslav refugee and artist (acted by Sergej Trifunovic), visits. Dragan is immediately smitten with Jeanne's charms, the two have some rendez-vous, then live together as lovers at Jeanne's modest apartment, which, at least, is a lot more attractive as living quarters than the rented room where Dragan has been living and painting, eking out a precarious existence for himself. Eventually, awkward and potentially dangerous situations arise and Dragan has to admit to Jeanne that he is an alien in France living there with no legal papers to regularise his residency. Various close-calls with police and immigration authorities arise and, in the meantime, Dragan introduces Jeanne to the social and cultural life of Yugoslav expatriots living in Paris; a party with dancing and song in which the lovers take part provides one of the film's most enjoyable moments. Without going into further details that might reveal "spoilers", things turn out as badly as one could expect for a refugee living "on the lam". The film ends sadly for Jeanne, and worse than that for Dragan.

The cinematic quality of "Lovers" hovers somewhere between the raw awkwardness of "Too Much Flesh" and the relative polish of "Being Light". One thing that bothers me about "Too Much Flesh", the low budget of which is even more obvious than in "Lovers", are the aura and feel of television production that characterise both of these movies; in fact, the film credits to the first two segments of "The Freelogy" cite television companies among the auspices under which both were filmed and distributed. "Being Light", an out-and-out comedy, is the only part of "The Freelogy" that really seems to be and feels like a true quality movie. At least, however, there is less of the sonic emptiness in "Lovers" that is altogether too notable in "Too Much Flesh". Fortunately, the ambient noise of a large city pervades "Lovers", whereas in "Too Much Flesh" there is no sonic engineering (for background music and other sounds) to heighten mood and to offset the quiet tranquillity, too intense to enjoy so unrelentingly in a movie, of the rural Midwestern life and setting of that film's farm and rustic small-town Illinois community. ("Being Light", surely a larger-budget film, does not suffer from this kind of sonic poverty.)

I do not regret having purchased and viewed the first two movies ("Lovers" and Too Much Flesh") that constitute parts of "The Freelogy". However, it is really only the DVD of "Being Light", with the inimitable Romain Duris so enjoyably numbering among the cast of the zany third part of the trilogy, to cavort joyously with Jean-Marc Barr, which helps to raise "Free-o-logist" matters to their highest level. "Being Light" remains, therefore, the one which I shall be sliding into my video player's tray to play back, again and again, with any real frequency.

Being Light
Being Light
2 used & new from CDN$ 22.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Trans-Eurasian Follies and Frantic Fun with 2 Young Men Respectively Besotted on Sexual Desire and Money (Then Pagan Mysticism), July 6 2015
This review is from: Being Light (DVD)
"Being Light" is not at all like Cédric Klapisch's celebrated films with the main actor here, Romain Duris, especially as Xavier in several of those movies, but who portrays Maxime in Jean-Marc Barr's and Pascal Arnold's comedy. This would-be lover (i.e., Duris' character, Maxime) remains just that, sexually unfulfilled, as the consequences of being an escapee from an asylum for the insane unfold. However, it does take awhile for that to dawn upon the viewer; at first, Maxime seems like a sort of junior (in mid-20s), chattering version of "Mr. Bean", the zany role in numerous films that has made Rowan Atkinson so famous. In the wake of escaping the asylum, seeking his beloved, Justine, whom the asylum had released, Maxime hooks up with an American businessman, Jack, who is in Paris to make some contacts.

As the Jack's French-English/English-French interpreter, needless to say, Maxime's presence is totally counter-productive. However, Jack keeps giving Maxime more chances, rather than dismissing him, and both end up together in India, where Maxime has wanted to go all along to find Justine. He does, but Justine has become a nun. There Maxime, despite his earlier platitudes about spirituality and renunciation of materialism, recoils instinctively from India's Hindoo culture and Justine's self-abnegating Catholicism, while Jack, who has been the utterly greedy American capitalist, now embraces Hindoo ways and values, mostly uncritically and with joyous abandon.

The incessantly off-kilter doings, sometimes hilarious, at other times gently whimsical, of this trio of the two men and the nun, and the folks whom they encounter in India, where the bulk of the film's action takes place, at first can annoy the viewer. However, s/he is likely to be won over by Maxime's innate simplicity of spirit and the way that Jack profits by giving himself up to that and to where it leads him. Without the movie depicting his way back to the asylum, that is where it places Maxime at film's conclusion, as he is seen arriving at the gates to the institution, one assumes voluntarily, since he has been frustrated in his desire to have Justine. For his part, Jack has drowned; his remains (ashes, one presumes) are all that will remain in India or anywhere else.

"Being Light" is the concluding part (and certainly the most interesting and best produced one) of an erotic trilogy, the other highly sexual films of which are "Lovers" and "Too Much Flesh", constituting together the "Freelogy" (rhyming with "Threelogy" for "trilogy" about, at least among other things, "free love", get it? a conceit a bit too convoluted for its own good!). In French this is named "La Trilogie de la liberté". Here is a description of the entire "Freelogy", adapted from the list of this reviewer's personal collection of DVDs and VHS tapes:

There have been editions of the "The Freelogy" offering all of them in a single package, whether with the trilogy's English and/or French titles, the latter being "La Trilogie de la liberté", these titles being those by which those particular products have been marketed in various regions. For editions offering only the individual films, each has appeared under its own title. Here follows a description, adapted from how the data appears on the list of the reviewer's personal DVD/VHS collection, of the trilogy, as the three films have been marketed movie-by-movie rather than together:

["The Freelogy = La Trilogie de la liberte"]. A Cinematic trilogy (the title, “Freelogy” being, apparently, a neologism mashing together words for “free love”, or for "freedom", and for “trilogy”) of these films relating, quite loosely and variously, to human love and sexual desire. The individual movies also have been packaged and sold together and also separately released and distributed. Consists of: [1], "Lovers: the Story of a Love, [of] a True Love". Probably produced for telecast, especially on cable stations; with this DVD is found a col. ill. sheet of [2] p., held within the same container as the DVD. -- [2], "Too Much Flesh" [i.e., excessive naked fornication, with an unusually large, thick penis]. Probably produced for telecast, especially on cable channels. -- [3], "Being Light". This is the film of the trilogy which is the most cinematically produced, with higher quality of its visual and sound elements than found in the other two films. Among its cast is Romain Duris.

At least "Being Light", for its own part (one somewhat more fixated on desire than upon sheer eroticism), is guaranteed an individually long existence on the market for the sake of the presence among its cast of Romain Duris, who rightly is one of Europe's greatest (and sexiest) male cinema celebrities, of huge popularity in the French-speaking world. Barr's and Arnold's quirky film is worth seeing, for the viewer, that is, who "lets himself go" to follow these characters' trajectory.

Transfer (Bilingual)
Transfer (Bilingual)
DVD ~ B.J. Britt
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 30.28
10 used & new from CDN$ 14.45

4.0 out of 5 stars An Ageing White Couple Gets More Than It Bargained for When the Man and Woman Take over Young, Robustly Beautiful Black Bodies!, July 6 2015
This review is from: Transfer (Bilingual) (DVD)
This 2010 German sci-fi movie, made for German television, came out in the U. S. of A. and France a year before its release in 2011 in Germany itself. It is based on a story which the rolling credits cite as Elio Barceló's "Tausend Euro, ein Leben", even if in the film (in French and the English subtitles), at least, the ageing, wealthy married couple talk of paying a figure of one million for the bodies which they take over with the help of the Menzana Corporation's technology. There is a short but informative entry on Wikipedia's French Web site explaining the synopsis and most other matters. The North American edition viewed, from Mongrel Media (or simply " Mo' ") DVD-4743, was one in French, with English subtitles.

The old white couple purchases two Africans, a man from Mali, a woman from Ethiopia, in order to have their personalities and memories transferred (hence the title) or, in computer language, "downloaded", into the young Africans, who, in return, have part of the sum for their purchase sent on the to their impoverished families back in Africa (although some financial scam comes to light, to the distress of all four). The ageing couple takes on these robustly beauteous Africans, for twenty hours of each day, but the black couple have four hours during nighttime in which they regain their own conscious minds for their own use. There is hostility between the old couple inhabiting these beautiful, physically perfect bodies and the host Africans, the latter scheming to resume their own bodies again full time. The Menzana Corporation scientist catches them in their attempt to carry out their scheme, but the old white-souled couple forgives them. The surprise (not to reveal here, to avoid a "spoiler") is that what both couples desire to do to set things aright does not come to pass, with the grimly weird resulting twist of fate at film's conclusion.

It takes some concentration to follow this story (obviously a nightmare scenario for medical ethics, at least of the 20th and early 21st centuries!). After all, the tale concerns four people in two black bodies and two of them also, off and on, in old white bodies as well. The French Wikipedia article helps the viewer to sort things out, not in great detail, but adequately enough to avoid losing his way. The conflicts of white souls in black bodies, but their prejudices initially intact, and of black resentment of rich whites, adds another layer of ironically racist and some moral tensions to the story. Then there is the question of which couple sharing the young black bodies has fathered the child with which the female black body becomes pregnant!

The film obtains glossy results on what, when one thinks about it, must have been a rather limited budget, but one which does not show its inexpensive seams. As one can tell, there is a lot of narrative and many conflicting values packed into the movie's screenplay, which adds up to some engrossing and frequently disconcerting viewing for those who watch this tart specimen of science fiction.

Too Much Flesh
Too Much Flesh
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 26.23
8 used & new from CDN$ 5.77

3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Concept and Storyline of a Component of the Erotic Trilogy, Jean-Marc Barr's "Freelogy", Disappointingly Realised, July 4 2015
This review is from: Too Much Flesh (Audio CD)
This peculiar film, in which rather a lot more fairly experienced and reputed actors and other contributors took part than seems evident in the totality of the end product, is an European-American production, apparently made with telecast on cable TV (especially in Europe) as its natural outlet. "Too much Flesh" is part of an erotic trilogy, the other highly sexual films of which are "Lovers" and "Being Light", constituting together the "Freelogy" (rhyming with "Threelogy" for "trilogy" about, at least among other things, "free love", get it? a conceit a bit too convoluted for its own good!). At least "Being Light", for its own part (one less fixated upon sheer eroticism), is guaranteed an individually long existence on the market for the sake of the presence among its cast of Romain Duris, one of Europe's greatest (and sexiest) male cinema celebrities, hugely popular in the French-speaking world.

As for "Too Much Flesh", the movie in some ways is under-produced, badly in need, for example, of more adequate sound crafting or engineering, feeling too empty without the kind of ambient or suggestive sound, as well as some discreet background music here and there, which would give "sonic body" to the film and help in continuity. There is music, mostly country-western, downright bluegrass, and white gospel music, styles which arise from the same American cultural currents. Speaking of that, the clumsy free-form dancing to the bluegrass and country music that occurs would be okay enough, but, really, dancing also to white gospel music?!? That seems rather implausible for this Midwestern setting of farmland Illinois, only one of many gaffes in portraying rural American culture and folkways.

Despite so many French names among the cast and contributors, the acting does seem convincingly American, maybe even Midwestern enough for the film's setting, with no French or other European accents anywhere to be heard. Jean-Marc Barr, co-director and actor in the principal male part of Lyle, a man with "too much flesh", i.e. of abnormal penis size and shape, like all the rest of the cast, speaks without even the faintest trace of accent. In the case of French actress, Élodie Blouchez, who plays Juliette, the French girl whom Lyle's rather handsome gay brother, Vernon (portrayed by Ian Vogt), a writer, brings back with him from Paris, she (ironically enough) would have been more believable if she had let some of her native French colour her English, which in this movie sounds totally free of any trace of French accent!

The plot, not to give too much of it away, concerns a couple, Lyle (acted by the Jean-Marc Barr, also director of all three films in the "Freelogy") and his wife, Amy (played by Rosanna Arquette), both of whom have complexes which inhibit sex in their till-now chaste relationship, due to Amy's frigidity and to Lyle's misguided idea that his abnormally large and profuse penis would make love-making impossible (even though he masturbates quite happily and with ease, as some scenes in the film demonstrate). When Juliette appears in town and on his farm, Lyle and she start up the sexual relationship which she ought to have been having with Vernon and which Lyle should have been having for all of those years with Amy. They draw into their circle Bert, a lad in his late teens (played by Ian Brennan, who, believe it or not, was quite handsome in a near James Franco lookalike sort of way, before turning into the wonkish-looking gargoyle into which he morphed for later films). Their threesome relationship and love-making, with bisexuality a component for Lyle and Bert, needless to say, shock the local yokels, whose (in some cases hypocritical) prudery lead to conflict, ostracism, and, ultimately, to tragedy (for the details of which, see the film itself!).

The concept of this film is great; it is in the details and in the apparently low-budget realisation of which that prevent this movie from being more satisfying than it is. The sex is quite explicit, with lots of nudity (just short of viewing past their pubic hair to the genitalia of Lyle, Bert, and of Juliette). The dialogue is an additional rather flat element of the work, even downright lame at times, which is a pity, given the scenario's potential. The last stretch of the film picks up in pace and intensity, however, making its conclusion quite satisfactory (better than the rest) as cinema.

Henri Henri (Version française)
Henri Henri (Version française)
DVD ~ Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon
Price: CDN$ 20.99
8 used & new from CDN$ 17.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A Sweetly Beguiling Film about Commingled Innocence and Wisdom, July 2 2015
This is a sweet and innocent film, but yet ultimately one about homespun wisdom, in which characters who are pure of heart, either because they have been that way all along or because, having come to have contact with Henri Henri (whom we discover later to have the real name of Henri Marcotte, in the gentle recognition scene with the father who had abandoned him and his mother when Henri was a child), come to attain to such purity through interaction with him. This motion picture definitely is not for hard-hearted cynics or for those who unrelentingly seek thrill or titillation in watching cinema. If the moviegoer has enjoyed "Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain", "Babine" (maybe, for some, even "Forrest Gump"), and other films about simple folk who connect with others at a deep level through their innocent openness, that viewer also is likely to enjoy "Henri Henri".

One of the two most striking friendships that Henri makes is with a blind girl, Hélène Guérin, with whom Henri falls instantly in love when he sees her at the ticket counter at the entrance to (of all places!) a porn movie theatre (of the kind once common in large cities before home video erotica undermined that market) where Hélène works selling tickets and cleaning the theatre after hours, managing to do such work despite her handicap. The milieu does not corrupt this sweetly attractive girl because her blindness protects her from the moral contagion that it markets. Another character whom Henri comes to befriend is a reclusive old man who had inherited a fortune in the market for pickles, an enterprise that he headed upon his father's death until the competition with foreign food imports into Québec led to the company's demise. As so many things come to unexpected conjunctions in this intimate saga, the passing of the old man of the erstwhile product, Binot's Pickles, leads to Hélène regaining her sight from the gift of the old man's eyes, which he had arranged to donate to medicine.

The Peruvian-Québecois actor, Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon (one of various ways of assembling the components of his name), aside from a small but significant part in the quasi-superhero movie, "The Phantom" (the 2009 Canadian-U.S. film of that title, made from a TV mini-series of that title, with Ryan Carnes in the title part) and also a truly "bit" part in "The High Cost of Living" (2010), two relatively major films on the international market, he had appeared before "Henri Henri", in the hauntingly beautiful "alternative" or "art films, "Pour l'amour de Dieu", "Mesnak" (both 2011), and "Le Torrent" (2012), which had much more limited exposure in theatres and on DVD than "Henri Henri" appears to be having. For all of that, each of these films with Trelles Turgeon (or Turgeon-Trelles) is worth seeking out for their originality and considerable beauty. Trelles Turgeon himself is a strikingly lovely young man, as one can see more directly in his other film roles than in "Henri Henri", in which he downplays his natural "sex appeal" to portray an innocent, plain-dressing (aside, that is, from one neon-green pickle-inspired suit) and plain-living orphan who has grown to early manhood. Henri Henri has had to enter life in the greater world after having spent his childhood, adolescence, and early "twenty-somethings" in a convent where the nuns provided him a sheltered, otherworldly existence. Henri Henri's sheer innocence and lack of guile and of any prior understanding of the ways of this Wicked Modern World as he confronts it after the convent has closed, are in themselves very amusing.

The film is a delight and a zestfully tart way for Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon to make what for many cinema viewers will turn out to be their first exposure to his considerable acting assets and skills. See it, if one likes such things as Life's Little Surprises!

Requiem in D Minor
Requiem in D Minor
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 18.82
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.09

5.0 out of 5 stars This Recording Set the Standard for Others, June 25 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Requiem in D Minor (Audio CD)
An old recording, but the performance is too good ever to forget, the Viennese style really remarkable. This recording has set the standard, at least for recorded performances based on the work's completion by Xaver Süssmayr (not necessarily the best edition but at least one from the composer's own era), the version of the score most frequently performed and recorded over the years.

No Title Available

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 Canadian-World-First
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!

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