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Reviews Written by
Randy Keehn (Williston, ND United States)

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Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hiroshima Mon Amour
DVD ~ Emmanuelle Riva
8 used & new from CDN$ 24.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Victims of War, March 4 2004
This review is from: Hiroshima Mon Amour (DVD)
This is an excellent film that depicts the pain and suffering of war on the large and individual scale. By contrasting the two, the film is able to make its' message that much more profound.
The film takes palce in Hiroshima circa 1959 and begins as we hear the voices of two quieted lovers. The woman talks about what she has learned from witnessing the bombing of Hiroshima. The man constantly reminds her that she was not there. As the voices (in French) become faces, we see a French woman and a Japanese man. The woman is clearly very happy and full of life. Their relationship is about to end (it apparrently had barely begun). The man does not want to lose his new-found lover and persists over the next 24 hours to try and talk her into staying. At one point, the woman recalls the emotional tragedy that she suffered at the end of WWII in France. As she painstakingly recalls the events of 14 years ago, we watch her gradually disintegrate into a depressed shell of her earlier self. This is the tragic beauty of this movie and an effective way to show the horrors of war. Part of the problem of comprehending the devastation of war is often the immensity of it. As we are shown some graphic pictures and statistics of the A bomb's effect on Hiroshima, it sometimes gets hard to put it in human context. By "superimposing" the story of a woman's emotional tragedy and its' self destruction of her, we see the human effects. Her point at the beginning of the movie; that she know's what happened in Hiroshima, becomes understandable in this context. Ironically, the Japanese man, whose family perished in the bomb while he was serving elsewhere in the army, seems to be the one who was less affected by the war.
This movie is one of those whose meaning grows on you. I bought the DVD and, while I'm no techical expert, am quite satisfied with its' quality. I initially thought the price tag to be pretty steep. After viewing it once, I have come to look on it as a bargain.

In Which We Serve [Import]
In Which We Serve [Import]
DVD ~ Noël Coward
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 39.34
7 used & new from CDN$ 8.95

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Miniver?, Feb. 22 2004
This review is from: In Which We Serve [Import] (DVD)
This is an excellent movie that can't help but draw comparisons to the movie "Mrs. Miniver". They both came out in 1942 with an England at war and pretty much going it alone. They focus on the home front and show the quiet tenacity and sacrifice of the British citizen. There are patriotic speeches in both movies unabashedly designed to stir the emotions of the English (and, presumeably, American) public. Those speeches are fine with me because they are well done. I think this point is worthy of comment because the films probably lack some of their punch with generations who already know how all of this turned out. What is interesting and effective with "In Which We Serve" is how the film jumps around in time. Only the ending is seen in its' proper place. This enables us to witness how so many people are affected by the events that take place on the HMS Torrin.
I rated this film a "4" instead of a "5" (4.5 wasn't an option) because, oddly enough, I thought the acting of Noel Coward was too stiff. He never limbered up in his role unlike the rest of the cast. This is a movie worth seeing regardless of time and place.

Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal
Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal
by Stuart N. Lake
Edition: Paperback
11 used & new from CDN$ 58.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Essentially an Autobiography, Feb. 16 2004
I just finished this most interesting biography of Wyatt Earp and I found myself both fascinated and a bit skeptical. I was fascinated by the life of Wyatt Earp as it was written by a man who interviewed him over a period of time. I was impressed with the research that the author, Stuart Lake, appeared to have put into his project. He had interviewed a number of surviving witnesses to the life of Earp. He also had a number of newspaper accounts and appears to have located a number of valuable documents in the course of his research. The book wasted little time in getting to Wyatt's career in law enforcement in the American West. The bulk, and I mean just about ALL, of the book is spent on his career in Wichta and Dodge City, Kansas as well as Tombstone, Arizona. The many famous (and not so famous) outlaws and lawmen of the Old West move in and out of the story on a regular basis. Stuart lists an almost endless number of feats of daring by Wyatt Earp in the process of making his case for Earp as the greatest of all men of the American West. Many of the events are depicted in great and compelling detail. Many of the parties are quoted, presumeably, from the memory of Earp himself. There is never a dull moment in the life of our hero, especially considering that all this action took place over a relatively short period of time. The book, at times, reads like a well-researched dime novel. For a chance to re-live the wild, wild West, it has little competition.
As for my skepticism, I came away wondering first of all; did all this really happen? Perhaps it did but our hero (and I am not trying to be facetious, Wyatt Earp truly is a hero) does it all seemingly with one hand tied behind his back. My other reservation has to do with the politics of the times and places. There are only good guys and bad guys and no exploration as to the motivations of either side except for good and evil. I found myself wondering if I were the only source of information about the events of my time and I had to relate to the world in 50 years or so the events I had witnessed. Take the Invasion of Iraq, the presidential election of 2000, or the impeachment of President Clinton. I certainly could make a claim as to who was the "bad guy" and who was the "good guy" while somneone else of a different political persuasion could make the opposite claim. There is no one to speak for the opposing view in this book. The author quotes frequently from the Tombstone "Nugget" but always prefacing the unreliability of the source. I found myself wondering if there might not have been something of another side to the events in Tombstone. The labor strife in mining communities of those days was very significant; just study the history of Butte, MT. Is it possible that Earp supported the powers that be and the miners looked for support from wherever they could get it? Maybe not, but it would have been helpful if the author tried to give a bit of an impartial look at the motives of the opposing side in Tombstone. That said, and realizing that this is about Wyatt Earp, not the miners, this is a book well worth the time of any fan of the American West.

West That Was from Texas to Montana
West That Was from Texas to Montana
by John Leaky
Edition: Paperback
9 used & new from CDN$ 22.18

4.0 out of 5 stars An Important Source of Regional History, Feb. 1 2004
I had this book on the shelf for years before I finally picked it up to read. It didn't take long once I started. This is the type of first-person history that we should have more of. It is the story of the life of a man who witnessed much that was worth preserving and it was written with the assistance of someone who knew how to bring that story to life. The story is that of a man named John Leaky who becomes important to the reader but it is what he bears witness to that is important for everyone. It is the story of the life of a cowboy. It starts in Texas before the Civil War. Mr. Leaky shares with us the history his grandfather shared with him and we get an interesting glimpse of early settlements in the Lone Star State. Comanches, Texas Rangers, cattle rustling, border incidents, etc fill the first third of the book.
As the author becomes a young man, he takes a trip north herding cattle and eventually ends up in the western Dakota/eastern Montana area where he spends the rest of his life. Since this is the area I've lived in for the last 23 years, I found this part of particular interest. It can be of interest to anyone else who enjoys the history of the US cowboy. For those familiar with this part of the country, Mr. Leaky tosses out a lot of names of people he knew and worked with or for. That adds a great deal value to geneologists and local historians. As I was reading this at the local gym, I was able to go over and show someone the name of his father and grandfather.
This is a very engaging work of history and can help answer the question, what ever happened to the cowboys of the Old West?

The Night Trilogy: Night, Dawn, and the Accident
The Night Trilogy: Night, Dawn, and the Accident
by Elie Wiesel
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from CDN$ 4.68

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Trilogy, Feb. 1 2004
This is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its' parts. Although all three books are very good to excellent, the way they fit together creates an excellent story from beginning to end. We start with "Night" which creates the understanding of the Holocaust through the perceptive eyes and ears of the youthful story teller. We then move to the book "Dawn" in which we find the main character as a young man who is involved in a moral dilemna. How he resolves the dilemna makes him realize that there is evil in all of us. His attempt to rationalize his actions are not sufficient to redeem himself in his own mind. We finish up with "The Accident" where we find the main character as a middle-aged man whose anger at the world makes him incapable of love. Certainly all that has preceded in his life helps us to understand his feelings but his anger is uncompromising and a dead end in and of itself. The problem resolves itself in a solution that brings an impressive closure to essentially all three books.
As a matter of clarification, each novel is a seperate story in itself. There is no "common Character" to all the novels. However, we get a sense that this all happens to one person. This is how well these stories fit together. Essentially, these works would appear to be autobiographical which adds to their meaning. Although Wiesel writes extensively about the Holocaust, there is certainly a special common thread to these stories. Read all three and make sure you read them in their proper order. Despite their brevity, it is as good an overall explantion, evaluation and summation of the Holocaust as you will find.

by Elie Wiesel
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bury the Dead, Feb. 1 2004
This review is from: Accident (Paperback)
This was a difficult book to enjoy most of the way through. We understand that this is a Holocaust survivor who has seen everyone he loved die or disappear. We want to reach out and understand him. However, he is so caught up in his past that he is constantly tearing his present to shreads. Frankly, we begin to lose empathy and/or sympathy with him until he is finally confronted with the cause and solution of his inner turmoil. Actually, we know the cause but it becomes clearer as to why that cause is so rooted within him. The solution is brilliant and worth the whole book for the understanding it brings to the reader. "The Accident" that happens is merely a vehicle in which the resolutions are enabled to happen. This book is an important addition to Holocaust Literature and is an essential reading for those truly interested in the subject. Don't despair with the book until you've finished it.

by Elie Wiesel
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars disturbing, Jan. 30 2004
This review is from: Dawn (Mass Market Paperback)
This short novel was a bit difficult to take but, then, I believe that this was how the author meant it to be. It is the story of a Holocaust survivor who is now in Palestine involved in the underground efforts to wrest control of the area from the British. The man must execute a British officer and his struggles with this is the crux of the story. I was not ever quite sure how Wiesel intended us to view the "hero". At times I thought that the author wrote as though we would understand the actions of the Jewish militants. At other times, I felt he was trying to show us that violence only creates more victims. Certainly, the ending of "Dawn" was a powerful statement of the evil that can emerge from any man no matter how just the cause. I think that the author adds to his purpose by keeping us a bit off balance throughout the story. He reminds us that there are no easy answers nor easy perspectives.
Most of us are aqcuainted with the story of the creation of the Israeli nation including the non-diplomatic efforts by the militant groups. This book was copyrighted in 1961 at a time when the events could be viewed with a somewhat different perspective. I say this because I found myself drawn to wonder how Wiesel would view a Palastinian suicide bomber. I guess it was his analytical analysis of the conflicting sides that made me wonder about this. I realize that it was not the author's point to excuse or justify the violence. However, there was a certain antiseptic approach to the subject that caused me to wonder about the modern day terrorist.
This is a story that will challenge the reader to ask themselves a question or two. It only takes a short while to read but it has a message that should last quite a while.

Road to Bali [Import]
Road to Bali [Import]
DVD ~ Bing Crosby
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 38.43
9 used & new from CDN$ 3.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Best Introduction to the "Road" Movies, Jan. 29 2004
This review is from: Road to Bali [Import] (DVD)
I have never seen one of the Hope/Crosby road movies so I picked up this DVD when I saw it on sale. I was not very impressed. I could see the format that I had heard of; the Crosby/Hope act, the songs, Dorothy Lamour, various hijinks, the patty-cake game, someone gets the girl, etc. However, the humor seemed weak in this movie. The songs were bland, the suggestion that we were in Bali was really stretching the mind's capacity. I was, to put it bluntly, disappointed with "The Road to Bali". I have seen Hope in other movies where I could appreciate his gift for smart aleck humor. His style is there in this movie as well. He just wasn't given much to work with. I'll check out some other road pictures. I assume that this one was the exception.

What's Up, Tiger Lily? [Import]
What's Up, Tiger Lily? [Import]
DVD ~ Woody Allen
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 149.41
7 used & new from CDN$ 79.98

4.0 out of 5 stars A very novel Idea, Jan. 27 2004
Woody Allen came up with, I believe, an original concept when he put together "What's up Tiger Lily?" back in 1966. He took a Japanese "B" movie and eliminated the soundtrack. This enabled him to dub in a completely new script which played on a lot of the scenes while creating an inane plot. I saw it at the movie theater when it came out and I thought it was hillarious. (As a young teenager, I also retained a somewhat vivid memory of the ending). I was watching some more recent works of Woody Allen recently and the movie came back to mind. I looked it up and ordered it through and thoroughly enjoyed it. I wasn't tempted to rate it a "5" because there were some stretches between laughs. However, in all fairness, Allen did have to put together some sort of a plot and follow the film he was spoofing. If it was all gags, it wouldn't have worked as well as it did. There were times I really cracked up laughing and I know I'll laugh again the next time I watch it. Maybe this concept has been copied since "What's up Tiger Lily?" but I guess once was enough for Woody Allen. This movie is one of the better ones from his early years as a writer/director. I certainly am glad I picked up again after all these years. I don't ever recall seeing it available on TV.

Rashomon  (Criterion Collection)
Rashomon (Criterion Collection)
DVD ~ Toshirô Mifune
Offered by niff78
Price: CDN$ 52.97
16 used & new from CDN$ 16.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Concept, Jan. 24 2004
This was a difficult movie to rate because the concept was excellent and well-presented but I felt the movie lacked a little to maintain the interest of the viewer from start to finish. As such, I found myself looking and thinking ahead rather than focussing on the current scene on the screen.
This is an older movie which should be appreciated for what a masterful work it was in its' time. It hasn't lost much during its' tenure but the texture of this black and white movie has seen better days. The acting is very good and, to better appreciate it, I watched it in Japanese with sub-titles. The DVD has other options for viewing including English dubbing. I will probably look at that option the next time I view it.
The story is simple yet complex. There is a rape and murder in the countryside. The story of what happened is related by four witnesses including, in a very impressive use of make-up, the deceased himself. Everyone's story is slanted towards their role in the events. The participants tend to see themselves as victims and so the truth looks different depending on who is telling the story. This is the magnificence of the movie.
There are three persons who serve as a sort of narration and editorial team which helps give the movie greater impact. The story begins in a poring rain with the story-line just as dismal. It ends with the sun shinning and we are given a note of hope to finish up with.
In my line of work, I have become accustomed to hearing many a complaint. I have learned (the hard way) not to pass judgement until I hear the other side (or in some cases "sides") of the story. Sometimes I get lied to but often the differences come from individual's perspectives of how they are affected by the events in question. Some people feel themselves a victim in many cases. Still other feel responsible for many things completely beyond their control. "Rashomon" reminds us that all is not necessarily as it seems. It is a short (88 minutes) but effective treatise on the subject.

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