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K Scheffler (Canada)

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Devil's Playground ~ Amish Rumspringa Documentary
Devil's Playground ~ Amish Rumspringa Documentary
DVD ~ Velda Bontrager
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 161.52
8 used & new from CDN$ 51.84

3.0 out of 5 stars Amish youth gone wild: sympathetic of sensationalistic? - must also watch with commentary, Jan. 13 2008
I suppose that I have a somewhat overidealized appreciation for the Amish, and when I first heard about this documentary I figured it was just a sensationalistic attempt at exploitation. I had no intention of watching it, but a few years later after reading Rumspringa, I finally decided to see what it was all about. I'll admit, the first time it really shocked me, and I considered it to be just what I had expected it to be. I watched it again several times, my feelings about it unchanged; after shelving it for about six months, I've watched it again a number of times, and my attitude towards it has change a little. I no longer consider it to be "exploitation" as it does try to depict the Amish in a somewhat sympathetic manner, and in some respects the true underlying goodness of the Amish people filters through despite the movie's subject matter. Having listened to the commentary--which is essential if you really want to understand the documentary itself--it does strike me, though, that the movie has to be viewed with a critical eye. While the type of behaviour depicted is clearly something that does occur among modern Amish youth, what's not clear is how widespread it is. According to the director, it took quite some time to find the people featured in the movie; no one wanted to be involved in the project at first, and so eventually it was mostly only people who were pretty fargone that did because they didn't really care anymore what people thought. So we have Faron--drug addict and dealer--as "the main character," and Velda, who left the church because it wouldn't allow her to be "the girl I want to be" and is now is shunned by her family, figuring prominently, as well. The former extremely rare, the latter with an axe to grind. Some of the lesser "characters" are not as extreme, and a few even decided to join the church in the end, but it's difficult to say for sure because they don't received the same attention. Moreover, in the commentary, it's easy to tell where the director's etc. sympathies lie--praise for Velda for writing and publishing a "feminist poem," critical remarks about certain Amish practices, the director's naive claim that maybe Faron would be a meth addict if he could just continue his education--not to mention the general tone of the discussion. Another thing to keep in mind: the documentary is very brief and general when it comes to Amish culture and history; it does not differentiate between the various sects, for instance. Of lesser significance, the inclusion of home movie clips does not make it clear that these people are not related to anyone in the movie, nor are they in fact even Amish. I understand why they were included, but it seems a little deceptive to me; well, I think they could have been left out altogether, or included as extras. So in the end, I'm left with mixed feelings about the movie; it was certainly fascinating and revealing, but there is an underlying agenda and it is does not fully explore the nature of Amish culture by which the viewer can measure the behaviour depicted in it. Is this kind of behaviour really the product of being released from a strict religious culture, or is it something that these children would have engaged in anyway had they not been born Amish and thus an example of why the Amish are justified in their rigid worldview? Many will conclude from this documentary that it is the former, while I tend to think the latter is correct. In the end, I would recommend the movie, but caution that it should be viewed critically.

by Brian Nolan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
8 used & new from CDN$ 6.58

4.0 out of 5 stars The Story of a Canadian Ace, Jan. 12 2008
This review is from: Hero (Mass Market Paperback)
Buzz Beurling was perhaps the best combat pilot in Canadian military history. He was a complex person, and while this book comes nowhere near telling the full story, it nevertheless is a facinating and lucid account of his short and intense life. Born into a strictly religious household, he developed an early fascination with aviation and single-mindedly devoted towards his goal of becoming a pilot. This led him to the United States, and then eventually back to Canada when the war began where he was rejected by the RCAF, forcing him to join the RAF in England. Like Canada's World War One flying hero Billy Bishop, Beurling was very much a loner; the disciplinary issues that this caused eventually led to his transfer to Malta. It was here that in a short period of time record the majority of his kills. After sustaining an injury--and surviving a crash on a transport aircraft on which he was a passanger--he returned to Canada, a reluctant hero. He eventually returned to combat, but after recording only a few more kills, was grounded becuase of disciplinary issues. The book also discusses his marriage in 1943 to Diana Whittall, which ended in divorce the following year because of his emotional immaturity; his supposedly platonic relationship with another female companion in the United States that developed after the war; and the somewhat vague dealings with both the Arabs and the Israelis in the post-war years. Although the full extent and true nature of the latter will likely never be known, this part of his story is not dealt with as thoroughly as it could have been, in my opinion. Whatever the case, and whether it was through sabotage or simply an accident, Buzz Beurling met his untimely end in 1948 while on his way to join the Israeli Air Force.

Fifth Element [Import]
Fifth Element [Import]

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks certain elements needed for a good movie., Dec 8 2007
This review is from: Fifth Element [Import] (VHS Tape)
There's not much good to say about this movie; while at times the special effects are decent and the humour genuinely funny, all and all The Fifth Element is marred by mediocre acting, poor costume and set design, and generally a lame concept and plot. The prdictable ending couldn't come soon enough and this video will likely find a permanent abode in my "never to watch again" shelf in my closet.

Wimbledon (Widescreen)
Wimbledon (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Kirsten Dunst
Price: CDN$ 9.98
60 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars generic romantic comedy, June 14 2007
This review is from: Wimbledon (Widescreen) (DVD)
This is nothing more than a generic romantic comedy, so don't expect al that much from it. It is charming at times, but overall is pretty bland and really not worth discussing.

Offered by vidsale
Price: CDN$ 19.95
4 used & new from CDN$ 5.38

4.0 out of 5 stars Better than I expected., June 14 2007
This review is from: Fargo (VHS Tape)
I never really thought much of this movie based on the short clips of it that I've seen, and managed to avoid it until a short while ago, when I came across the video for sale for a loonie and for some reason decided to buy it. Needless to say, it was better than I had expected, although it was rather on the grim side. It amazes me somethimes how flippant American culture can be about such brutality. I wonder if the people responsible for this movie realize the fact that these kinds of movies normalize this kind of behaviour. But what do they care, in the end it will only given them or other Hollywood-types more "actual events" to base movies on.

Meet the Hollowheads [Import]
Meet the Hollowheads [Import]
DVD ~ John Glover
Offered by BuyCDNow Canada
Price: CDN$ 82.85
8 used & new from CDN$ 18.81

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Meet the Hollowheads? -- Rather wish I hadn't., June 14 2007
I just could not get into this movie. From the get-go, the poor set design and props, along with a nonsensical screneplay, had me regretting buying this stinker. At times, despite the obvious fakeness of the props, things get somewhat gross when the slimey diet these people subsist on becomes to focus of attention. I suppose it's inevitable that the bizarre quirkiness of this kind of movie is going to gain a "cult following" who will insist that it is a "cult classic". But don't let that fool you; if you have any sense of taste, you won't find much in this movie worth watching.

"D-Day, the Sixth of June (Widescreen)"
"D-Day, the Sixth of June (Widescreen)"
DVD ~ Robert Taylor
Offered by boutiquecinemaniac,com
Price: CDN$ 29.95
15 used & new from CDN$ 5.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars War movie?, June 2 2007
For the first five minutes I thought that this was going to be one of the best war movies I'd ever see, but then suddenly the movie back tracks to the years preceeding the D-Day invasion to document the love triangle that developed between a gorgeous woman and two of the officers in the commando unit. This lasts for much of the rest of the movie, with only five or ten minutes in the end consisting of a reasonably decent combat sequence. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of infidelity being masked as "romance," which made the movie all the more annoying to watch. This should simply not be considered a "war movie" or a "classic".

Amish Life
Amish Life
by John A. Hostetler
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Amish Life, May 29 2007
This review is from: Amish Life (Paperback)
This book was of course written in the pre-Internet days when there was a need for such basic overviews, but now that the kind of information contained therein is readily available, the book is largely redundant. Still, I was fortunate enough to come across a copy cheap and it is a welcome addition to my small collection of books on the Amish as it still is an interesting read.

Crossing Over: One Woman's Escape from Amish Life
Crossing Over: One Woman's Escape from Amish Life
by Ruth I Garrett
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.26
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sensationalistic and agenda-driven, May 28 2007
The Amish live in a closed society, one that tries to minimize contact with the outside world, which the Amish--not without justification--view as sinful, evil and corrupt. How they truly live is largely a mystery to us, and what little we know about them has filtered down to us through books written by sympathetic non-Amish and so-called ex-Amish, people who have left the Amish faith. Some, like John A. Hostetler, have written insightful works on the Amish (and other Anabaptist sects, such as the Hutterites) which have respectfully educated outsiders such as myself about these devout people; other write exploitive books attempting to capitalize on the now lucrative fascination that many people have with the Amish; still others, for one reason or another, have an axe to grind, and simply write books out of malice or revenge. (Crossing Over largely falls into the latter catagory.) The story that Ruth Garrett tells exploits our own ignorance of the Amish just as much as it exploits her own heritage, which, ironically, is the largely the only way that her and her boorish husband manage to get by. At times she is naively revealing in her motives and even her descriptions of her husband, Ottie Garrett, a man who comes off as being rather crude and obtuse. Here is a man who was largely trusted by the Amish, someone who, like a number of other outsiders, earned money by taxiing the Amish when the use of a horse and buggy was impossible or impracticle. Moreover, he also produced a number of Amish-related publications. Because he was disabled, much of his income was derived thanks to the Amish. But surprisingly, he really had some issues with these people, and as Ruth relates in this book, he would often take the opportunity while driving the Amish around to impress on them the problems that he had with their faith. Most significant was the issue of Amish pacifism--one of their most commendable attitudes, in my opinion--which he patently loathed, feeling, like most rednecks, that peace can only be obtained through the right to bear arms and all that nonsense. (Why it doesn't occur to people like him that were everyone to follow the Amish example of strict pacifism that war and violence would no longer be a problem, is beyond me.) Still, despite this disdain for the Amish, it wasn't beyond this twice-divorced man to find his next wife among them, and, once she has made her "escape" with him, to continue--now no longer with the consent of the Amish--publishing books, etc. about them, most notably a book entitled "True Stories of the X-Amish". I could go on and on, but in the end, this book is nothing more than disingenuous sensationalism.

In regards to another review here, the Amish can choose who they want to marry, but as is the case in many societies, including our "modern" secular one, parents to varying degrees do try to exert some sort of influence on who their children select.

Fodor's Pocket Savannah and Charleston, 5th Edition
Fodor's Pocket Savannah and Charleston, 5th Edition
by Fodor's
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Fodor's Pocket Savannah and Charleston, 5th Edition, May 26 2007
In general a good brief guide to the main attractions, etc. in Savannah and Charleston and for someone who hasn't visited these two tantalizingly historic cities, it made for an enjoyable read. Travel writers, however, can't always be trusted, as is evident in this book concerning certain references to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The sequence of events as depicted in Midnight, as most people who read the book know, was contrived by Berendt. Whoever wrote the guide clearly didn't know this. Also, depite the compact nature of the guide, I think more could have been included.

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