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Johnny Na (Chicago, IL)

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The Tin Drum (Criterion Collection) [Import]
The Tin Drum (Criterion Collection) [Import]
DVD ~ David Bennent
Prix : CDN$ 45.47
13 used & new from CDN$ 24.97

6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Book and DVD both worth having, June 2 2004
I read the book two weeks ago and have just viewed the Criterion Collection DVD. I found the book to be complex, rich, insightful, puzzling, and surreal. I loved it. This film comes as close as any film could to the spirit of the novel and still be under 3 hours long.
Oskar is born to three parents who, like the Gdansk they live in, represent 3 ethnic groups: Pole, Kashubian, and German. He is fully conscious at birth and is presented with two paths for his life - one as a shopkeeper and one as a musician. While the people of 1930's Gdansk/Danzig feel forced to choose ethnic sides and mundane occupations, Oskar rejects the "stupid" adult world. He stops growing and learns to assert some control over adults through his drumming and vocal talents.
One of my favorite sections of the book is when he musically subverts a large Nazi rally. Not only was this well done in the movie but was worked into a bonus feature that had Grass reading the book chapter while we watch the corresponding section of the film. The words of the spoken German as well as the subtitled English translation have a lot of power and poetry - this feature is a very rare treat.
You also experience in the film something Schlöndorff confirms in interviews: it is hard to imagine this film existing without David Bennent. His voice and eyes carry so much of this film. The short interview feature with Bennent is delightful.
I thought the bonus feature on the Oklahoma censorship was interesting and somewhat balanced in that it portrayed the zealousness on both sides. However, I would have preferred to see more of Grass or material on the creative efforts of the film.
On a more serious note, I find Oskar's indictment of society very compelling. Something about the way the film brings themes to life (more than the book) makes 1939 Germany frightenly parallel to the US of 2004. In Oskar's world, the people in power make false claims in order to invade other countries, human rights abuses increase and all objections are shouted away with "patriotic" speeches and political rallys. For the most part people remain ignorant or apathetic to the suffering their government officials are causing. (Perhaps we need a few Oskars drumming at the democratic and republican conventions this summer.)
The film stands very well on its own but I would encourage people to read the book first. The book is more complex, covers more years of Oskar's life and it develops some important ideas that are not at first obvious in the film. For example, as Oskar ages he still looks 3 years old and he consciously exploits this by manipulating the adults around him by behaving more childish than he really is. There is also an interesting theme in the book related to Rasputin and Goethe.
It is also worthwhile to do a little browsing on the web for historical material related to Gdansk/Danzig, Kashubia and the large population resettlements after wars in this area. The excellent bonus features also explore the themes of the film and add a lot of value.

City of Joy (Bilingual)
City of Joy (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Patrick Swayze
Offered by OMydeals
Prix : CDN$ 103.20
9 used & new from CDN$ 53.95

3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Many better options to this, May 24 2004
This review is from: City of Joy (Bilingual) (DVD)
I read the book, have seen the movie and have visited Kolkata. I'm troubled by the book and the movie. I felt the book trivialized poverty and made a sentimental treatment of it. This is because it was viewed through the eyes of a Catholic priest and he was taking voluntary poverty. It is another matter when you have children, live in bone crushing poverty and have fewer choices available to you. (Yet Kolkata is a city of miracles in that the poorest can often find a place and a way to survive there.)
I don't think the movie came close to showing the culture of Kolkata's poor. It was very much a westernized gloss and it definitely pulled punches. Consider just one important cultural element: Indian has many great musicians who have produced centuries of beautiful music. But this film sticks us with an entirely western score.
I am in love with this region and had to read the book and see the film. But if you want to see a film about this part of the world, see anything by Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen or Shyam Benegal.
In particular, Satyajit Ray - Apu Trilogy or Two Daughters. Although more modern and middle class, Aguntuk (The Stranger) is also a much better film.

The Brother From Another Planet
The Brother From Another Planet
DVD ~ Joe Morton
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Prix : CDN$ 76.27
12 used & new from CDN$ 10.99

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Amazing, May 24 2004
This is one of my favorite films of all time. Like many really good Sci Fi tales, it is ultimately a very human story. I love so many of the scenes - the character interactions in the bar scenes are great. And Joe Morton is terrific.
They didn't have much budget for this and there are obvious clumsy mistakes in the movie. Some of the mistakes are even pointed out in the director's comments, but it just adds to the enjoyment. (But my DVD copy is just fine. I don't understand the quality complaints in other reviews here.)
For all the rough spots, I don't miss the million dollar effects one bit. Effects might even push the story aside too much. This DVD will always have an honored place on my shelf and I will enjoy this many more times. (And I could never say the same for Matrix Revolutions, for example.)

The Matrix Revolutions (Widescreen) (2 Discs)
The Matrix Revolutions (Widescreen) (2 Discs)
DVD ~ Keanu Reeves
Prix : CDN$ 7.49
101 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 étoiles sur 5 boffo finish - more monsters, bigger explosions!!!, May 24 2004
I enjoyed the special effects very much but the magic of the first of the series is gone. We could all identify in Matrix I with Neo struggling to understand, "what is real?", "what is freedom?" In this one he wrestles with his development as some kind of assembler code messiah, but it is not well scripted and is just too far out to identify with anymore.
And Neo's development is overshadowed by the predictable Hollywood formulas that are thrown at us: If one Mr. Smith was a great bad guy, we'll just make more of them. We'll have 30,000 red-eyed, metal octopus monsters instead of 30. It's not a thoughtful film anymore. It's the Hollywood answer to the eternal question: How do we milk this franchise for a few more million bucks?

Dune: The Machine Crusade
Dune: The Machine Crusade
by Brian Herbert
Edition: Hardcover
47 used & new from CDN$ 4.27

2.0 étoiles sur 5 A waste of time, May 23 2004
I read the original Dune trilogy years ago and recently stumbled across this book. I hoped it would match the interest and wonder of the original, but this prequel did not come close. I will not read any more books of these two authors.
Another review describes it best: bloated. The authors employ a very tired formula. As the chapters skip through the galaxy visiting each major character in his/her turn each chapter seems to repeat the same monotonous pattern: 1) revisit facts from previous visits to the character, 2) introduce one or two new details, 3) foreshadow the next visits to the character. There are a few interesting new spins in this prequel but all the tedious work to maintain this clumsy structure makes the book 4 times the size it needs to be.
And after it all, I have no connection with any of the characters. Most of the characters were religiously fanatical homicidal idiots. Most of the remaining ones were religiously fanatical SUIcidal idiots. Norma was interesting at first but I couldn't quite buy into how she developed.
If you are addicted to everything about Dune, then the time you invest in this will give you a few bits of Dune "history" you can enjoy. Perhaps the next book will resolve the hanging details a little more for you too.
But there are SO many good books out there that are more worthy of our time. If you want a taste of the surreal for example, pick up The Tin Drum (my latest read).

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