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Mei L. Po (Sherborn, MA United States)
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Screwtape Letters
Screwtape Letters
by C. S. Lewis
Edition: Audio Cassette
12 used & new from CDN$ 51.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Re-release Cleese, please!, April 24 2004
This review is from: Screwtape Letters (Audio Cassette)
John Cleese's rendition of "Screwtape" is phenomenal. The pairing of Monty Python's Mr. Cleese with C.S. Lewis' literary classic on the mechanics of spiritual warfare is inspired. I have only one question: when is this out-of-print recording going to be made available on DVD???

Joseph And The Amazing Technic
Joseph And The Amazing Technic
Price: CDN$ 14.83
34 used & new from CDN$ 2.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go-go-go Joseph!, Nov. 14 2002
This is the musical which introduced me to musical theater, so Joseph will always be a personal favorite. I much prefer this recording to the harder rock edge of the concept album, or the overdone, glitzier Broadway remake versions with Donny et al. If you are looking for a recording which captures the small-scale heart of Lloyd Webber's creation, THIS is the one to get.

Puccini Mad.Butterfly
Puccini Mad.Butterfly
DVD ~ Mirella Freni
Offered by niff78
Price: CDN$ 86.97
5 used & new from CDN$ 21.00

2.0 out of 5 stars great singing; lousy presentation, June 3 2002
This review is from: Puccini Mad.Butterfly (DVD)
If I'm not mistaken, this should be the same production as the video with the same actors and director, even though they aren't linked in this site? It was the Freni/ Domingo VIDEO I saw.
While this production does have possibly some of the best singing of any, I had to wonder whether the director purposely intended to make some sort of comic parody or caricature of Puccini's opera. If this was his intention, then he perhaps succeeded. A number of unfortunate choices in staging, costuming, and characterization made it all but impossible (for me, anyway) to take the characters or their tragic situation seriously. Goro looked like some great buffoonish clown, and Cio-Cio-San's mother like a vacant-minded old hag; not one of the characters seemed remotely Japanese to me. Then, there are the American and Japanese puppets Freni toys with, the child who is shown well before the dramatic revelation to Sharpless, and faithful Susuki actually ASSISTING Butterfly with the suicide! The overall effect seemed closer to farce, or mockery, than high drama and serious tragedy appropriate to the story.
Worst of all, for me, the consul Sharpless, presumably the moral backbone or conscience of the piece, manages to come off nearly as spinelessly degenerate as Pinkerton himself. When Goro offers to show him his selection of mail-order brides, so far from "laughingly declining"- as the script indicates- he puts on his spectacles; he asks Butterfly about whether she "has any sisters", with a grin and a twinkle that would have had me wanting to lock my own baby sister away somewhere safe (one rather wonders why he bothers to warn Pinkerton against toying with his marriage and his bride, at all); he puffs distractedly away at a cigarette while trying to read Pinkerton's letter. One of the more affecting incidental details of the 1996 film version by Mitterand (Troxell and Huang) is toward the end when Sharpless takes away a bottle from Pinkerton with which he, Pinkerton, has been dosing himself when he realizes what he's done; here, however, it is the consul who is seen fortifying himself in the crisis with the contents of a similar bottle.
All in all, I could not find anything in this film to recommend it- beyond, again, some excellent singing, which its negative points for me far outweighed. I found it an embarrassing travesty of Puccini's masterpiece.

Madame Butterfly [Import]
Madame Butterfly [Import]
VHS

2.0 out of 5 stars Great singing, lousy presentation, June 3 2002
While this production does have possibly some of the best singing of any, I had to wonder whether the director purposely intended to make some sort of comic parody or caricature of Puccini's opera... A number of unfortunate choices in staging, costuming, and characterization made it all but impossible to take the characters or their tragic situation seriously... Goro looked like some great buffoonish clown, and Cio-Cio-San's mother like a vacant-minded old hag; not one of the characters seemed remotely Japanese to me...The overall effect seemed closer to farce, or mockery, than high drama and serious tragedy appropriate to the story.
Worst of all, for me, the consul Sharpless, presumably the moral backbone or conscience of the piece, manages to come off nearly as spinelessly degenerate as Pinkerton himself. When Goro offers to show him his selection of mail-order brides, so far from "laughingly declining"- as the script indicates- he puts on his spectacles; he asks Butterfly about whether she "has any sisters", with a grin and a twinkle that would have had me wanting to lock my own baby sister away somewhere safe (one rather wonders why he bothers to warn Pinkerton against toying with his marriage and his bride, at all); he puffs distractedly away at a cigarette while trying to read Pinkerton's letter. One of the more affecting incidental details of the 1996 film version by Mitterand (Troxell and Huang) is toward the end when Sharpless takes away a bottle from Pinkerton with which he, Pinkerton, has been dosing himself when he realizes what he's done; here, however, it is the consul who is seen fortifying himself in the crisis with the contents of a similar bottle.
All in all, I could not find anything in this film to recommend it- beyond, again, some excellent singing, which its negative points for me far outweighed. I found it an embarrassing travesty of Puccini's masterpiece.

Madame Butterfly (Widescreen)
Madame Butterfly (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Ying Huang
Offered by BuyCDNow Canada
Price: CDN$ 128.41
8 used & new from CDN$ 40.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Butterflies on the brain!, May 30 2002
As a musical-theater enthusiast unfamiliar with the opera world, I stumbled across this production almost by accident when a visit to a ballet performance of Butterfly sent me scuttling thru the local libraries in search of Puccini's original opera. Used to thinking of opera as somewhat "stuffy", I was unprepared for what I found- I was completely caught off guard by the quality of the acting, and the power of the music. Within 5 minutes I had nearly forgotten I was watching classical opera in a foreign language with subtitles, and thought I was seeing yet another of my favorite musicals (believe me, from someone as enamored of Les Mis as myself, that is VERY high praise!) And the more I watch it, the more I notice of the care and detailing the actors and director put into this performance (try watching the consul Sharpless- carefully- right before he has to answer Butterfly's question about when robins build their nest).
I think it would be nearly impossible to find another version so accessible to non-opera people like myself. More seasoned opera lovers may, perhaps, criticize the singing; I personally cannot hear why. Huang may be light, but she holds her own against the best "Butterflies" out there; and no other Sharpless I've heard even comes close to Cowan's. Having since compared this with a number of other versions (including Scotto and Freni), I have found no other version yet that more closely captures, for me, the essence of these characters; the carefree, irresponsible charm and rogueishness of Pinkerton, the compassionate gallantry of Sharpless, the innocent naivete and heartbreaking vulnerability of Butterfly. "B-List singers", indeed!
There are a few decisions the director made, which other reviewers here have touched on, that I didn't quite understand: having the Bonze (Butterfly's uncle, a Buddhist priest) come in as a kind of flying ghost; using footage of old (pre-war) Nagasaki for the dream sequence during the Humming Chorus; and some of the changes made in the staging of the final sequence. Then, there was also just a bit more focus on the matchmaker, Goro, than I felt the role called for (he was even present in one scene near the end where he had no lines and did not seem to belong) But overall I would say this was a very excellent production. Since seeing it I have become rather obsessed; you might say I have Butterflies on the brain!
***One note on the review below by Paul Smith Carter; I believe this must be a review of the WRONG Butterfly, since *Huang* NOT Raina, here sings the title role.

Shadowlands
Shadowlands
VHS
4 used & new from CDN$ 56.27

2.0 out of 5 stars BBC version is far better, Aug. 19 2001
This review is from: Shadowlands (VHS Tape)
This movie seems to me to present a very one-dimentional portrayal of CS Lewis. They take a single quote from a single one of Lewis' many books and keep repeating it over and over again as if that were all there was of his thought, philosophy, theology, or faith. The BBC production starring Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom does a much better job at presenting CS Lewis the man as we meet him through his writings.

Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Widescreen)
Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Donny Osmond
Price: CDN$ 20.39
29 used & new from CDN$ 8.36

4.0 out of 5 stars ...But could we tone down the razzle-dazzle just a bit?, Aug. 19 2001
Okay, yeah they glitz up the play rather more than I'd like, and yeah I'd question some of the costuming decisions (is it REALLY necessary to keep Donny 3/4 naked through 3/4 of the play?) but this is still my favorite musical, the one that introduced me to musical theater, and I won't quarrel with FINALLY having a version I can watch. Despite the drawbacks, Donny is great, the Narrator holds her own, and over-all the video delivers on a fun time, especially for those already familiar with the play or the music. Just be sure to check it first before playing for the kids

Joseph And The Amazing Technic
Joseph And The Amazing Technic
Price: CDN$ 7.13
18 used & new from CDN$ 3.20

3.0 out of 5 stars the ONLY Joseph??, Aug. 19 2001
Not meaning to disparage the Gary Bond fans out here, but I just don't see the attraction. Okay, granted I wasn't around in the 70's when he was performing, and it doesn't help that I personally happen to dislike the rock-opera edge to this particular recording, but- I mean, the guy can't sing; and he comes across sounding (to me) like a completely stuck-up snob. Now Joseph is my favorite musical; I've seen so many different takes on this thing (some better, some worse) I've nearly lost count. And yes, a number of "Josephs" have proved disappointing. For myself, I prefer the smaller scale Original Broadway Cast album to some of the the more recent, glitzier remakes; but to say that there is one and only one right version or "real" Joseph out there, is quite simply untrue.

Moby Dick (Full Screen)
Moby Dick (Full Screen)
DVD ~ Henry Thomas
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 94.73
6 used & new from CDN$ 27.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Abridged Ahab?, July 6 2001
This review is from: Moby Dick (Full Screen) (DVD)
I prefer this update to the Gregory Peck version, although I could wish it had been more faithful to the original book. My question is this: the original television special was 4 HOURS LONG. Even allowing for commercial time, there had to have been at least 3 hours of film. Now, the running time of the DVD is 2hrs 25 minutes, and the video is even shorter; What happened to the rest of the material?!

A Little Princess
A Little Princess
VHS
8 used & new from CDN$ 6.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars READ THE BOOK INSTEAD, June 27 2001
This review is from: A Little Princess (VHS Tape)
This movie took one of my very favorite characters and destroyed her. The whimsical, Hans Christian Anderson-type fairy tales which she tells in the book are changed, in the movie, to stories that are darker, brooding, and rather scary, styled after Hindu myths. All the imaginative ideas which, in the book, she comes up with herself, are spoon-fed to her by her father in the movie. Sara Crewe of the book is charming; the girl portrayed in the movie is obnoxious, bratty and rude; plus, they changed the entire story by changing the ending. Lastly (and, for me, worst) the movie completely redefines the whole meaning of being a "princess": in the book it's what gives Sara the strength to continue being kind, courteous, loyal and generous to others, even when others are nasty to her. In the movie, we are told, EVERY girl is a princess- no matter how much like a common street beggar she behaves.

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