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Brian W. Fairbanks "Brian W. Fairbanks" (Lakewood, OH United States)

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Baez Sings Dylan
Baez Sings Dylan
Price: CDN$ 20.11
27 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Singer and song meet as equals, March 12 2004
This review is from: Baez Sings Dylan (Audio CD)
In the early 60s, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were the King and Queen of Folk Music, but no matter how well their voices complemented each other, they seemed to go together as well as vodka and milk. Baez maintained the image of the political idealist, a role for which her perfect falsetto was a powerful instrument, while Dylan, despite his authorship of "Blowin' in the Wind," seemed more of a cynic with a surly manner befitting his gruff voice.
Despite the contrast in their personalities and performing styles, Baez is one of the finest interpreters of Dylan's work, as the album "Baez Sings Dylan" demonstrates. Compiled from several sources, with Baez's 1968 two-record set "Any Day Now" providing most of the selections, it's one of the best Dylan tributes available while also being one of Baez's most compelling collections.
Singers sometimes seem overwhelmed by the task of interpreting the songs of a composer as distinctive as Dylan, and neither singer nor song survive the encounter. Perhaps because Baez's early fame eclipsed Dylan's own, that isn't a hurdle here. Singer and song meet as equals, and the result is usually outstanding.
Baez offers standout performances of some rare Dylan tunes, notably "Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word," the epic "Tears of Rage," and the touching "Daddy, You Been on My Mind," and a fine interpretation of more familiar titles, including "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine," a song no doubt influenced by the traditional "Joe Hill," a song Baez did much to popularize.
The liner notes by Charles J. Fuss provide a compact overview of the Baez-Dylan relationship, and, in effect, of the folk music scene in America circa 1960. But the music - that great voice matched with those great songs - says more about those changing times and the two artists who defined them than mere words could ever convey.

Street Legal (Rm)
Street Legal (Rm)

4.0 out of 5 stars Some of Dylan's "bloodiest" tracks, March 9 2004
This review is from: Street Legal (Rm) (Audio CD)
Upon its June 1978 release, Bob Dylan's "Street Legal" was dismissed by some critics as imitation Springsteen (Steve Douglas' saxophone was reminiscent of Clarence Clemons but only to fans of the Boss), and reviled by others for sexist lyrics ("Can you cook and sew?/Make flowers grow?"). In retrospect, it seems critics were lambasting Dylan's public image, then at an all-time low, and not the quality of the music.
Tarred and feathered by the media as an alleged wife beater, a pretentious filmmaker ("Renaldo and Clara" crashed and burned a few months earlier), and a greedy capitalist embarking on the so-called "Alimony Tour" only to generate some cash, Dylan's latest album was overshadowed by some nasty tabloid headlines. "Street Legal" is, in fact, a superb album that continues the creative hot streak that began with 1974's "Planet Waves" and ended, arguably, with 1983's "Infidels."

Far from sounding "fake" (Rolling Stone's description of Dylan's singing on this album), there is an effortless quality to both the songs and the performances as if pure inspiration is at work. "I wish I was a magician," Dylan sings at one point, and on "Street Legal" he is.
From the countrified "We Better Talk This Over" to the sorrowful "Where Are You Tonight?" this album is as bittersweet as "Blood on the Tracks" and, at times, much more powerful. You can really feel the wounds that produced the blood, and listening to it now, it no longer seems surprising that Dylan embraced Christianity a year later. Who but the Lord could relieve such pain?
"Baby, Stop Crying," a top 10 hit in the UK, soars on the wave of Douglas' sax, and "Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)" offers a tour of the dark places from which the next year's "Slow Train Coming" provided an escape.
Recorded in a mobile studio during a week long break from the world tour that had already produced a live album ("Bob Dylan at Budokon," released less than a year later), the sound quality always left something to be desired, but the SACD remastering is a major improvement, and lets the performances emerge in all their power.

Robe, the (Bilingual) [Import]
Robe, the (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Richard Burton
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 38.90
10 used & new from CDN$ 1.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elaborate, moving Biblical epic, March 5 2004
Based on the best-selling novel by Lloyd C. Douglas, 20th Century Fox's production of "The Robe" has achieved immortality as the first film shot in Cinemascope, the now defunct wide-screen process designed to lure TV viewers out of their living rooms and back into theaters.
The elaborate drama, directed by Henry Koster, stars Richard Burton as a Roman tribune in charge of the crucifixion of Jesus (voiced by Cameron Mitchell but never fully visible). Burton is later haunted by nightmares of the horrifying scene, and through the efforts of a slave named Demetrius (Victor Mature), who has claimed possession of the Messiah's garment, comes to embrace Christianity, much to the distress of the Roman authorities.
Burton earned his second Oscar nomination for his role here, but his overblown theatrics, though effective, are overshadowed by the subtler performance of the non-nominated but highly praised Mature who was generally dismissed in those days as more beefcake than thespian. The rest of the cast is memorable with Jean Simmons luminous as always, Michael Rennie as a saintly Peter, Richard Boone as a commanding Pontius Pilate, and Jay Robinson particularly good as an hysterical Caligula who sends Burton to the gallows when the soldier's belief in Christ conflicts with his commitment to Rome. And, yes, fellow film fans, that's the great Ernest Thesiger, Dr. Pretorious of "Bride of Frankenstein," as Tiberius.
The production is first rate and, for the faithful, the story and its conclusion is very moving. This is the kind of epic Hollywood would never consider making in these more secular times.

The Passion: Based on the Movie - The Passion of Christ
The Passion: Based on the Movie - The Passion of Christ
by Mel Gibson
Edition: Hardcover
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film. Excellent book., Feb. 28 2004
Whether beautiful or horrifying, the scenes from Mel Gibson's gutsy epic "The Passion of the Christ" represent some of the most powerful imagery ever presented on screen. For anyone profoundly moved by the passion of Gibson's masterpiece, this book is a fine way to explore the film further.
Ken Duncan's photos vividly bring the film's haunting beauty to life on the page, while the foreward gives Gibson the opportunity to explain how his unyielding faith made this film necessary and possible. For once, you can read Gibson's motives for making a film faithfully based on the Gospels without distractions from an intrusive and biased scandal hungry media.
An excellent film. An excellent book.

Masked and Anonymous (Sous-titres français) [Import]
Masked and Anonymous (Sous-titres français) [Import]
DVD ~ Bob Dylan
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 29.10
22 used & new from CDN$ 1.44

3.0 out of 5 stars You either get it or you don't, Feb. 27 2004
When I saw this in a theater, the least baffling moment occured during a visit to the restroom. Leaving through the wrong door, I found myself outside with no way to reenter except through the lobby. Would I be stopped and asked to produce the ticket stub that I feared I had thrown away?
I returned to the theater without incident, no questions asked. But I had questions of my own, notably what is the point of "Masked and Anonymous"? In retrospect, I suppose there is no easy answer. One can't explain "Masked and Anonymous" any more than one can explain "Visions of Johanna" or "Desolation Row," or dozens of other Dylan songs. It is what it is, and you either get it or you don't.
I'm not sure I get it, but I can't say I didn't have fun trying. For die-hard Dylan fans, "Masked and Anonymous" should be worthwhile. For someone whose CD collection includes "Blood on the Tracks" and "Greatest Hits," but not "Self-Portrait" and "Knocked Out Loaded," this film may inspire more impatient head-scratching than enjoyment. Those who have followed Dylan's career through the main roads, as well as the back-alleys, may find "Masked and Anonymous" rewarding.
Both should be pleased with the music. It's great to hear the brilliant "Blind Willie McTell" on the soundtrack, but best of all is the concert footage, including a terrific and all too brief version of "Dixie," and a pleasant take on "I'll Remember You," a track not available on the officially released soundtrack.
As for the acting, John Goodman and Jeff Bridges give their all, while Dylan remains distant, as enigmatic as ever, a guest in his own film. The most amusing moment may be in the TV network's boardroom when we glimpse a schedule of programming that features shows with titles lifted from the Dylan songbook.
"Masked and Anonymous" is for the Dylan faithful. Anyone looking for a typical night at the movies should beware.

King of Kings (Widescreen) [Import]
King of Kings (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Jeffrey Hunter
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 49.60
13 used & new from CDN$ 3.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Generally effective adaptation of the Gospels, Feb. 27 2004
Samuel Bronston's production of "King of Kings" is a generally satisfying "epic" based on the life of Jesus. Not as elaborate as 1965's "The Greatest Story Ever Told," but not as boring either.
Directed by Nicholas Ray, the auteur behind "Rebel Without A Cause" and "Johnny Guitar," it was controversial at the time of its 1961 release with some critics finding it blasphemous (the very characteristic that would likely earn it praise today), apparently because the miracles are presented with a certain subtlety, a quality not generally associated with a genre mastered by Cecil B. DeMille. This is not a thorough adaptation of the Gospels, and far below the standards of the later "Jesus of Nazareth," but it is respectful and generally well-done.
The late Jeffrey Hunter makes for a very charismatic Jesus. Then 33 years-old, the same age as Jesus at the crucifixion, Hunter gives a sincere performance, one that didn't warrant the "Teenage Jesus" charge popular at the time. The unjustified pans his performance received did seem to have a negative impact on his career, with the actor turning to TV as the star of the Jack Webb produced "Temple Houston" only a year or two later). Robert Ryan, usually cast as psychotics and killers, gives some appropriate muscle to John the Baptist.
Orson Welles narrates from a script to which Ray Bradbury contributed. Miklos Rosza's score is superb and inspiring, the best thing about the film.

Jesus of Nazareth (Full Screen) [2 Discs]
Jesus of Nazareth (Full Screen) [2 Discs]
DVD ~ Robert Powell
Offered by sealed deals
Price: CDN$ 71.95
11 used & new from CDN$ 33.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest version of the greatest story ever told, Feb. 24 2004
Prior to its debut on NBC in April 1977, "Jesus of Nazareth" was the subject of considerable controversy after director Franco Zeffirelli suggested his interpretation of Jesus would veer wildly from previous screen versions of the Gospels. Suspecting Zeffirelli, to say nothing of co-screenwriter Anthony Burgess of "Clockwork Orange" fame, had downplayed or even denied Jesus' divinity, some prominent religious leaders condemned the film, sight unseen, for its alleged blasphemy. One sponsor (General Motors) bowed out, and another stepped in (Proctor and Gamble, years before the company fought off unsubstantiated charges that its logo was Satanic). "Jesus of Nazareth" aired as scheduled, in two parts on two successive Sunday evenings, earning high ratings and praise from critics of all faiths.
"Jesus of Nazareth" is, hands down, the finest dramatic retelling of the life of Jesus to date. As George Stevens did with his 1965 fiasco, "The Greatest Story Ever Told," Zeffirelli recruited an all-star cast, but whereas Stevens could only have hired John Wayne to play a Roman Centurion because the Duke's name would look nice on the posters, Zeffirelli chose his stars because they were gifted actors perfect for their roles.
One doesn't ooh and aah at the sight of Rod Steiger, Anthony Quinn, or Laurence Olivier, but rather marvel at how well they believably bring Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, and Nicodemus to respective life. As good as they are, the most impressive performance may come from a less illustrious "name," James Farentino, who makes for a very commanding Peter.
It could be argued that the film is too pretty at times (this is, after all, the work of the man who made 1968's lushly romantic "Romeo and Juliet"), bringing to mind the kind of postcard depiction that Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" attempts to counter, but the script and performances thankfully lack the dry solemnity that often drains any semblance of life from most dramatic interpretations of the Bible. Robert Powell's Jesus doesn't merely "quote" passages from the New Testament but speaks the words of Jesus as those words might have been spoken for the first time.
The crucifixion, though not as brutal and bloody as it probably was, also seems to be portrayed more realistically than usual, with Jesus carrying only the beam of his cross to Calvary which history seems to suggest was more likely the case.
Maurice Jarre's score is sometimes moody and always reverent without being pompous, and despite its length, the story never drags. "Jesus of Nazareth" is an outstanding achievement, all the more impressive when one considers it was produced for television.

From Russia with Love
From Russia with Love
DVD ~ Sean Connery
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 14.85
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars 60,000,007 James Bond Fans Can't Be Wrong, Feb. 22 2004
This review is from: From Russia with Love (DVD)
"60,000,007 James Bond fans live in a throbbing world of hot blooded excitement!" a poster for the second James Bond film declared. "Don't you think it's time you met secret agent 007?"
Plenty of moviegoers met Bond for the first time in "From Russia With Love," the film some 007 die-hards consider the best in the series (star Sean Connery agrees). Long before 007's sophomore screen effort reached theaters, Ian Fleming's novel was already famous as one of President Kennedy's favorite books, and that endorsement guaranteed Bond would win over America as he did his native U.K.
Here we get the first pre-title teaser, but unlike most to follow, it's brief and sets up an important part of the plot (007 being targeted for assassination). The titles themselves are a knockout, all the more so thanks to Lionel Bart's striking theme, orchestrated by John Barry who, for the first of eleven times provides Bond with an exciting score that's as much a signature for the series as the famous gun-barrel sequence that opens every film.
"From Russia With Love" is slower paced by later Bond standards but smarter, too, with a comparatively modest plot involving a decoding device coveted by SPECTRE. The tongue-in-cheek humor that would come to characterize the series was pretty much introduced here in an effort to offset the charges of sadism levied against the first film, but it doesn't overtake the action, including a fight aboard the Orient Express widely hailed as one of the greatest action scenes ever staged.
If the other films in the series warrant classification in the adventure genre, "From Russia With Love" is a thriller, the only film in the series I can imagine Alfred Hitchcock directing. Hitch may have thought so, too, since the Master of Suspense frequently cited this film's helicopter fight as an example of the producers cribbing from his work (the crop-duster scene in "North by Northwest"). Terence Young, who did direct, isn't Hitchcock but he's a fine craftsman often credited, by Connery, among others, for establishing the 007 formula.
The cast is one of the best ever recruited for a Bond film with Robert Shaw's muscle bound hit-man a good match for Connery whose hair, for the last time, seems to be mostly his own. Best of all is Lotte Lenya as the wicked, androgynous Rosa Klebb whose deadly footwear may remind viewers that she earned a mention in hubby Kurt Weill's song "Mack the Knife."
Brian W. Fairbanks

New Morning
New Morning
Price: CDN$ 10.24
17 used & new from CDN$ 3.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyably eclectic, Feb. 21 2004
This review is from: New Morning (Audio CD)
Released a mere four months after the critically disastrous "Self-Portrait," Bob Dylan's "New Morning" looked like a desperate attempt to win back the fans he (deliberately?) alienated with that two-record set of sometimes syrupy odds and ends. Many of those who loathed "Self-Portrait" loved "New Morning," if only because there were no covers among the 12 selections. Dylan composed these songs himself.
This isn't a masterpiece or even close to Dylan's best, but it's an enjoyably eclectic effort, sort of a final bookend to the period that began with "John Wesley Harding."
A handful of these songs, including the hymn-like "Father of Night" (covered, more dramatically, by Mannfred Mann's Earth Band a year or two later), were written for a proposed but never produced stage version of "The Devil and Daniel Webster." Some others - "The Man in Me," "Time Passes Slowly," and "If Not for You" - wouldn't have been out of place on "Nashville Skyline," although Dylan's voice is rougher here (supposedly due to a cold).
"Winterlude" and the delightfully daffy, jazz-tinged "If Dogs Run Free" defy categorization, at least in Dylan's songbook, while "Day of the Locusts" is too easy to pin down. The imagery sounds a bit forced, as if Dylan is trying too hard to be Dylanesque.
The most memorable song here, to my ears, anyway, is "Sign On the Window," an intimate meditation on lost love and family life.

Left Behind: The Movie [Import]
Left Behind: The Movie [Import]
DVD ~ Kirk Cameron
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 44.12
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Who's really left behind?, Feb. 19 2004
Made for video but given a brief, unsuccessful theatrical release, "Left Behind-The Movie" is based on the first of Tim LeHaye and Jerry Jenkins' popular novels fictionalizing events from the New Testament's Book of Revelation.
The title refers to those earthly inhabitants who remain inhabitants of earth following the Rapture, an event many Christians believe is foretold in Bible prophecy, notably in I Thessalonians 4:16-17 which reads, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be with the Lord."
Regardless of one's beliefs, this movie has neither the budget nor the talent to properly depict the aftermath of this event with any credibility or power. The devastation that occurs after planes without pilots and cars without drivers crash and burn is only referred to, not shown. Instead we get shots of dogs without owners, and worried looks on the faces of those (cue the ominous music) LEFT BEHIND! Imagine what Spielberg, working with a bigger budget, could do with this scenario if so inclined!
Instead of Harrison Ford or Tom Cruise, we get former teen idol Kirk Cameron as our hero, a reporter named (I'm not kidding) Buck Williams. Suddenly hip to what's happening, Buck forms the Tribulation Force to oppose the Antichrist, who in LeHaye and Jenkins' tale is named (I'm still not kidding) Nicolae Carpathia. If that name isn't a dead giveaway to his villainy, Gordon Currie's suavely saturnine approach to the role should clue you in.
But the film's biggest flaw is not its mediocre presentation, but its content. I don't doubt the producers' sincerity, but in their zeal to reach as wide an audience as possible they seem to have compromised their beliefs. The Lord referred to in Thessolonians (and throughout the New Testament) is Jesus Christ whom John 14:6 quotes as saying, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me." But Jesus is conspicuosly left behind in this movie. Characters, including a minister, speak of, and to, "God," but the deity is referred to only in the most generic way possible as if the filmmakers fear alienating any viewer who worships at a competing altar.
The filmmakers may be devout Christians, but the courage of their convictions never made it to celluloid. This is one time when it really is better to read the book. No, not "Left Behind" - The Bible.

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