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D. Mikels "It's always Happy Hour here" (Skunk Holler)

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Outlaw Josey Wales [Import]
Outlaw Josey Wales [Import]
9 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "Dyin' ain't much of a livin', boy.", March 18 2003
Okay, I'll admit it: this film has some goofy quirks, uneven moments, and scenes where Clint mumbles his lines as if he were a ventriloquist, yet THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES remains one of my very favorite westerns. I saw this movie when it first came out in 1976, watched it every time I could find it on cable, then purchased the VHS tape when it first became available. After all these years--after countless viewings--this film remains as entertaining and as enjoyable as the night I first saw it on the big screen.
The story is compelling: Josey Wales, a quiet, peaceful Missouri farmer, joins a band of Confederate soldiers to avenge the brutal murders of his wife and son (played by Eastwood's son, Kyle), then refuses to surrender at the end of the war. He becomes an outlaw, hunted relentlessly by the very Union soldiers who killed his family, a manhunt that sends Wales and an ever-growing group of stragglers deep into Texas. "Sometimes trouble just follows a man," Wales laments prophetically. And sometimes a character--like Josey Wales--portrays such a rich depth of anger, anguish, and an overwhelming desire to live in peace, that the viewer is mesmerized by the injustice of it all.
Clint Eastwood directed this movie, his very first to direct, and gave notice to Hollywood that he was also a force to be reckoned with behind the camera. The cast is uneven, but Chief Dan George, Will Sampson, and John Vernon stand out and give impressive performances. And for those of us who have on occasion enjoyed a plug of chewing tobacco, the "spitting scenes" are hysterical. THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES is a keeper, a grand "shoot-'em-up" with a heart of gold.

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life [Import]
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life [Import]
Offered by aok imports
Price: CDN$ 12.40
13 used & new from CDN$ 1.89

4.0 out of 5 stars The Boys Push the Envelope on this One!, March 11 2003
The members of Monty Python apparently decided to pull out all the stops when they made their final motion picture. Even more bawdy, naughty, reckless, and wickedly deprived, MONTY PYTHON'S THE MEANING OF LIFE pulls no punches and takes no prisoners as it explores, unravels, and tramples upon the stages of life, from birth to death. This film is Python with ADD, rumbling and bumbling from one sketch to the next. And it's darn funny.
For me, the film hit a homerun with its opening short feature, "The Crimson Permanent Assurance Company," followed shortly by a grand musical number--a hilarious spoof on Catholicism--entitled, "Every Sperm Is Sacred." By now, the viewer is tweaked, alert, enthralled, giddy, and laughing. Most of the ensuing sketches are firecrackers of irreverent humor and relentless satire. Alas, the movie ended rather anticlimatically, and the film's overall unevenness prohibited this reviewer from giving it five stars.
If you like Monty Python, you'll enjoy this film. If you're unfamiliar with Python, yet willing to get smacked between the eyes with X-treme comedy, give THE MEANING OF LIFE a try. (Not on a full stomach; the "Mr. Creosote" sketch might have you reaching for some Alka-Setzer.) Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam give new meaning to the meaning of life!

Natural, the
Natural, the
Offered by Spalding Design
Price: CDN$ 5.50
4 used & new from CDN$ 5.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Mythical Tale of "Good vs. Evil", March 3 2003
This review is from: Natural, the (VHS Tape)
It's a story that's been told countless times: a gallant protagonist dealt a stunning blow, who is able to come back against overwhelming odds to triumph over the relentless forces of darkness. How many times have all of us seen plots like this? Yet THE NATURAL takes this story, wraps it mythically and magically around the great game of baseball, and provides an entertaining, enjoyable film.
Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) is a 36-year-old athlete who has waited 16 painful years for his chance to play major league baseball. His past is dubious, ambiguous. But he posesses a "natural" talent to dominate the game--even at the age of 36. And he does. Yet his meteoric success and instant acclaim pit Roy against two adversaries: newspaper reporter Max Mercy (Robert Duvall), who is obsessed with uncovering the secrets of Roy's past; and The Judge (Robert Prosky), the corrupt owner of Roy's team. The stage is set--good vs. evil--and the battle ensues, to a mesmerizing ending.
Glenn Close as Iris Gaines, the true love of Roy's life, is terrific in this film, but by far my two favorite characters were manager Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley) and his assistant, Red Blow (Richard Farnsworth), who virtually bring alive the game of Depression Era baseball. I could have done without the discomfort of watching Redford and Close play 18-year-old lovers at the beginning of this film (talk about suspension of disbelief), but overall director Barry Levinson furnishes a rich, well-told story. THE NATURAL hits a solid, satisfying double, right up the middle.

God, Guns & Rock'N'Roll
God, Guns & Rock'N'Roll
by Ted Nugent
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.74
43 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Gun Scratch Fever, Feb. 27 2003
If I could list five celebrities that I would drop everything in my life to go meet, the Motor City Madman would be at the top of my list. Ted Nugent is a refreshing, hardnosed icon of rugged individualism: the antithesis of the whining, socialistic activism running rampant in today's entertainment industry. When making an appearance on one of the cable talk shows, his no-nonsense, pull-no-punches conservativism usually leaves his liberal antagonist speechless, gaping for air like a fish out of water.
GOD, GUNS & ROCK 'N ROLL is Nugent's conservative manifesto. His love for hunting--for relishing the right to own guns--is revealed time after time, page after page. I'm not much of a hunter myself (don't have the patience for it), but I do possess unflinching admiration for the outdoorsmen of our society. And I'll defend to the death their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
This book is pure Nugent-speak; you can practically hear him talk as you read the words. GOD, GUNS & ROCK 'N ROLL is more than worthy to take its place in anyone's conservative book collection.
--D. Mikels

Dances With Wolves [Import]
Dances With Wolves [Import]
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11 used & new from CDN$ 1.23

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dances With Political Correctness, Feb. 25 2003
DANCES WITH WOLVES is a tale of two movies. The first film is a moving, epic story about Lt. John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) who accepts a post at a remote fort in the Dakotas and turns out to be the only soldier there. He befriends first, a wolf, then his nearest neighbors, a Lakota Sioux tribe. Both friendships are tentative at the outset, yet succeed and are nurtured through trust. It is a beautiful, wonderful story.
But then comes the second movie. The evil white man descends upon Dunbar's abandoned fort and systematically, demonically, begins to destroy and kill. This movie provides no insight into such wanton cruelty; it only portrays it, over and over (even to the point of showing a group of soldiers getting their kicks shooting Two Socks, Dunbar's befriended wolf). Fortunately, Dunbar is able to escape such evil, with the aid of his Sioux brothers, and thus assimilate back into the Indian culture.
Accordingly, a wonderful film is ruined by political correctness. We are given a complete, warm potrayal of the collectivist society of the Lakotas--both pros and cons. But no such treatment is given of the plains soldiers who fought the Indians; they are portrayed as ruthless, cutthroat killers, and because of the one-dimensional depiction the ending of this film disintegrates into bitter disappointment. DANCES WITH WOLVES is a moving, well-made film, but a lack of point of view balance makes the movie fall well short of the mark.

Miles of Experience
Miles of Experience
by Boris Zubry
Edition: Hardcover
4 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Miles of Enjoyment, Feb. 20 2003
This review is from: Miles of Experience (Hardcover)
I know Boris Zubry. I have never met him, I have never spoken to him, yet I know him. How can this be? Because Mr. Zubry virtually extends his hand in warm greetings from the pages of his wonderful book, MILES OF EXPERIENCE.
Zubry writes in a soothing, conversational style--as if he had pulled up a chair next to you in front of the fireplace to engage in a friendly chat. I heard his Russian accent as I read his stories, stories about his childhood in the former Soviet Union, stories about distant lands and distant cultures, stories about persecution, corruption, intolerance. Most of his stories do not have happy endings, yet the reader still treasures them--still treasures the author for presenting them in such a warm, humanistic manner.
By far, my favorite story (although I enjoyed them all) was "Russian Dedication." Zubry provides a hilarious, yet biting, account of a construction project gone awry to demonstrate the hopeless inefficiency and corruption of the former Soviet Republic. It is more than apparent the author has a genuine love for his homeland and its people, but cared nothing for the Communist government. In fact, Zubry renounced his Soviet citizenship in 1978 and became a U.S. citizen in 1984.
Russia's loss is America's gain.
MILES OF EXPERIENCE is highly recommended. As I mentioned earlier, you will get to know Boris Zubry through the pages of this book, and you'll be proud and honored to consider him a friend.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding [Import]
My Big Fat Greek Wedding [Import]
6 used & new from CDN$ 7.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Big Fat Greek Fun!, Feb. 16 2003
I had no desire to see this film. I didn't bother to see it when it made its remarkable run in theaters, and I ignored all the hoopla. Then my wife brought this little jewel home from the video store the other night, and I reluctantly pulled up a chair and watched the movie.
Darn glad I did.
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING is cultural stereotyping run amuck, but pulls it off because the film never takes itself too seriously. Michael Constantine as family patriarch Gus Portokalos (the "Windex Man") is delightfully over the top. Name a word--any word--and he'll prove it's derived from the Greek language. The sprawling Portokalos clan takes center stage here; imagine your most boisterous family union, multiply it by ten, and you'll match the energy of this family's get-togethers.
The film centers around the romance and subsequent engagement of Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos), deemed an "old maid" by her family, and yuppie Ian Miller (John Corbett), who is kind and likeable, but--gasp!--not Greek. Toula does her best to insulate her fiance from the rowdiness of her huge family, but for Ian it's baptism by fire from the start. The "cultural indoctrination" is intense. It's also downright funny.
What pleased me even more was the love story here. The relationship between Toula and Ian transcended the cultural differences; at no time did either of them think about calling off the wedding. I was afraid the plot would move to that contrived, overdone dimension, but was pleasantly wrong.
Anyone who comes from a big family, or wishes they had, will adore MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. An enthusiastic five stars!

7 used & new from CDN$ 4.61

5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, Feb. 13 2003
This review is from: Platoon (VHS Tape)
"I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy. We fought ourselves. And the enemy was in us."
Thus the summation of Private Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) at the end of this film, a film about war, hate, self-realization, and survival. PLATOON tells a powerful story that moves beyond the horror and gore of the Vietnam War, a story that ultimately depicts the demise and disintegration of a dysfunctional combat unit. We see young Chris change before our very eyes, from a green, idealistic "grunt" to an embittered, disillusioned soldier. Chris' platoon is dominated--and subsequently divided--by two strong, yet very different men: Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger) and Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe). Barnes is cold, calculating, brutal, intolerant; Elias is compassionate, humanistic. The battle of wills between these two men is just as challenging as the Viet Cong out in the bush, and just as deadly. The film's climatic ending is powerful, spellbinding.
I dismiss naysayers of PLATOON as a soapbox for writer/director Oliver Stone's political agenda just as much as I dismiss Mr. Stone's politics. PLATOON hits you between the eyes with its depictions of warfare and human conflict, again and again. There's nothing to feel good about by watching this movie, just as there is nothing to feel good about by fighting a war. It is a dark, negative film--a negative film that happens to be compelling, thought-provoking, and very riveting.

Kissing Jessica Stein [Import]
Kissing Jessica Stein [Import]
4 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

2.0 out of 5 stars O-o-o-o-o-okay, Feb. 11 2003
This movie has all the ingredients to be witty, touching, and poignant, yet fails dismally across the board. KISSING JESSICA STEIN could have been and should have been a funny story about a single woman's sexual confusion and frustration in an inherently confused and frustrated world, but instead we witness Jennifer Westfeldt giggling and ad libbing well beyond mere annoyance as the insecure Jessica Stein. Heather Juergenesen, who co-wrote the script with Westfeldt, plays bisexual Helen Cooper with such ambivalence I felt she would have been more comfortable simply staying behind the typewriter.
The story is contrived, the timing between the characters is off, and the ultimate demise of the relationship tacked on as a footnote ending is exasperating. KISSING JESSICA STEIN had potential, then squandered it via unimaginative, one-dimensional, stereotypical storytelling. Kind of like kissing a patch of drywall, but who would want to?

Major League
Major League
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9 used & new from CDN$ 1.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Major Fun, Feb. 9 2003
This review is from: Major League (VHS Tape)
No, you're not going to walk away from this movie thinking about how to achieve world peace or end poverty, but you will be walking away with a smile. MAJOR LEAGUE is a lighthearted, entertaining film that also happens to be hysterically funny. Throw the great sport of baseball into the mix and MAJOR LEAGUE is a win/win for those who love the game and those who just want to have a good laugh.
There's nothing complicated about the plot. When an aggressive femme fatale (Margaret Whitton) inherits the Cleveland Indians from her late husband, her plan is to put together a team so bad it will lose its fan base and allow her to relocate. And so a band of misfits is put together: washed-up players, inexperienced players, headcases. Of course, predictably, her plan goes awry, but it's still good fun watching the antics of the Indians as they misfire and then come together over a long, long season.
Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Rene Russo, Corbin Bernsen, and Wesley Snipes headline a great cast. Bob Uecker is absolutely hysterical. My favorite character is manager Lou Brown (James Gammon) who delivers the film's funniest line, but one I dare not repeat here (it would never get past the editors)! Grab a hot dog and a beer, pull up a chair, and let MAJOR LEAGUE put a wide grin on your face.

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