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Profile for Julian S. Brown > Reviews

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Content by Julian S. Brown
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Reviews Written by
Julian S. Brown (Arlington, VA United States)

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Plan of Attack
Plan of Attack
by Bob Woodward
Edition: Hardcover
119 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, June 15 2004
This review is from: Plan of Attack (Hardcover)
Woodward's account generally is an engrossing and informative read. I expected the book to be much more negative about the Administrations' actions before, during, and after the war, but that wasn't the case. The book is based largely on interviews by those who've remained very loyal to the cause. The interviews that are particularly interesting are those with Powell and Armitrage and those with others when the topic is Powell. It also appears that William Cohen provided some interesting information about the workings of the Administration. But, you hear much from Bush about "what a president" must do, which gets very tiresome.
The book was decidedly anti-French as it adopted the Administration's view that the French were against the war because of French commerical interests in Iraq and because the French are pacifists. Woodward never mentions that 85% of the French population was against the war (this war is for DEMOCRACY, isn't it?) and that the French may have really felt as Powell that there were better ways to deal with Saddam than invading Iraq. But, instead Woodward just accepts the possible French bias as true. Conversely, Woodward accepts Bush rationale for war without addressing similar conflicts of interest that the Administration may have had -- Cheney's commerical interest in Haliburton and Bush's oil buddies' desire for Iraqi oil. In reality, both the Bush Administration and the French government may very well have had principled stands and the author should have at least approached both on an equal basis.
You learn inside information about the reasons for war, but the book left me a bit frustrated because I felt the interviewees did plenty of post-conflict rationalizing of pre-conflict acts. But, I must admit that the book was hard to put down.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Bilingual)
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Spencer Tracy
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 42.36
16 used & new from CDN$ 1.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, Nov. 20 2003
Stanley Kramer's masterpiece joins two perfect characters -- he's an incredibly accomplished doctor with impeccable manners and a solid family, and she's a gorgeous, charming and idealistic daughter of a newspaper magnate. The only thing that could possibly get in the way of this couple's marraige is the difference in their skin color.
The script is funny and first rate, and the hall of fame cast works together beautifully. Like Lubitsch's Ninotscka, the situations at times seem a bit dated, but that just adds to charm of the movie.

Hold Your Man [Import]
Hold Your Man [Import]
2 used & new from CDN$ 38.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Unique Comedy, Feb. 25 2003
This review is from: Hold Your Man [Import] (VHS Tape)
This is a very different kind of comedy, somehow very fresh after 70 years. The characters are all very unique and very believable. One very bizarre aspect of this terrific comedy is that there a black character in the movie that actually has personality. She is one of Jean Harlow's cellmates and is quite charming -- not like the typical 30s and 40s Hollywood black character that is either fodder for jokes or a happy, is an extra in the background, or is a submissive caricature of the Old South. This movie is surprising in may ways. It's hard to believe that Loos, the screenwriter, had very few other big movies to her credit. Maybe she was too different.

Sling Blade [VHS]
Sling Blade [VHS]
3 used & new from CDN$ 11.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing, June 13 2001
This review is from: Sling Blade [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Thornton has created an American classic that can send viewers in many different directions. After my 20th or so time enjoying Sling Blade, I became not so sure Karl is slow after all. He watches a dad brag about his son's football skills, so then goes out of his way to make Frank a star when they play sandlot. He fixes like an expert lawnmowers and other things with small engines. He understands and appreciates kindness given to him ("that boy has a big heart and lives inside it"). Then he seems to realize that killing again is a solution to not only Frank's troubles but it will return Karl to a world in which he is a little more comfortable. He seems to understand that he risks very little in doing so because he will be seen as crazy and not a murderer.
It is also ironic that every character in the movie talks of killing someone as a solution to a problem. Is that another lesson Karl learns about the outside world?
Any slowness in Karl arguably stems from his treatment by his father, who raised him in a shed in the family back yard (where he learned to fix small engines), the effects of seeing his mother and a friend having sex, and his experiences in a mental hospital. This is a man who picks things us quickly when given a chance.
I think the test of a great movie is that it gets better each time you watch it and that you learn different things each time you watch it. I'm sure others will disagree with my take because I myself have just come around to feeling that way about it. I'm sure Karl would be able to figure it out.

All About Eve
All About Eve
3 used & new from CDN$ 5.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Gem from Mankiewicz, Nov. 16 2000
This review is from: All About Eve (VHS Tape)
The reviews of this movie are right on target and I don't have too much to add. This is simply the greatest movie in American Cinema History. The acting is superb, especially Davis and Sanders. Mankiewicz's screenplay puts forth the snappiest and freshest dialogue that has ever graced the screen. Fans of this movie should try Mankiewicz's underhanded knock on McCarthy-ism, People Will Talk.

Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer
Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer
Price: CDN$ 25.76
26 used & new from CDN$ 3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Great man and music, poor production, Oct. 10 2000
Fans of the Buena Vista Social Club movie will enjoy this CD because the recording of these songs that was the structure of the movie (they recorded the BVSC CD two years earlier). Ferrer is an enjoyable song stylist. His version of "Que Bueno Baila Usted" is every bit as lively as Beny More's original and stands out as one of few upbeat numbers on the CD. I am sad that they did not show the recording of that song in the movie because the studio was probably hoppin'. Ferrer went from shining shoes and trash removal to international superstar in two years and at 73 years old. That's enough right there to buy the CD.
The sound quality of the CD is poor. That's surprising since even Cuban CDs recorded at EGREM, the state run studio usually are of very solid quality. On some songs, you hear a hiss that is reminiscent of the Dolby B days of tape recorders. That's a shame.

Offered by Polar Bear Store
Price: CDN$ 2.07
125 used & new from CDN$ 0.49

4.0 out of 5 stars "Someday" is Today, Oct. 4 2000
This review is from: 14:59 (Audio CD)
I never heard of Sugar Ray until I began to hear "Someday" on the radio last year. What a smooth and well-done song! Very few modern groups can style and time a tune like Someday. I also think "Every Morning" is fun and clever. It was hard to believe that the rest of the CD represents the work of the same group, but I've since leaned those songs were more like those on their first album. Let's hope that they'll return with another "Someday" someday.

Conversations with Cuba
Conversations with Cuba
by C. Peter Ripley
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 4.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectually Honest, Oct. 2 2000
Superior work that puts the reader on five tours of Cuba and allows you to talk to Cubans who stayed and to experience the wonderful island paradise. The writer admits that he idealized the Revolution and wants it to work but still shows the numerous ways that it hasn't work and that the island is in trouble. I enjoyed his conversations with Cubans and the Cubans' resilent nature. Great background information for a novice to Latin American relations like myself who only recently gained interest in the island due to its recent commercial musical success. Conservatives and Castro haters will dislike Ripley's point of view, which may be unfair -- the work seems intellectually honest.

Culture Shock! Cuba
Culture Shock! Cuba
by Mark Cramer
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from CDN$ 0.82

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read, Sept. 25 2000
This review is from: Culture Shock! Cuba (Paperback)
I bought this book after I fell in love with the Buena Vista Social Club series and thus Cuba. It is difficult to find unbiased reporting on life in Cuba because most people have very strong feelings about this island. Cramer carefully considers all opinions but actually talks to the people who live there. He doesn't just interview those who love Castro -- in fact, most think Castro should step down. He interviews people who feel that Cuba is racist and those who feel that the "social experiment" has eliminated racism. The book is very intellectually honest which is rare any work but especially one on Cuba. Cramer demonstrates why he is horserace betting's most effective writer. He can teach while he tells amazing stories.
Cramer has written a fascinating look at an amazing island.

Buena Vista Social Club [Import]
Buena Vista Social Club [Import]
2 used & new from CDN$ 27.39

5.0 out of 5 stars A Landmark Breakthough in Music and a Postcard of Cuba, Sept. 12 2000
Ry Cooder struck gold when he stumbled upon these Cuban musical legends understandably forgotten by the outside world but somehow forgotten in their own country. With instruments and forms of music virtually unaffected by 40 years of pop culture, these superlative musicians will warm you with their humility and their affection for each other and their culture, and then thrill you will their rich music. Cooder, however, did the musicians a disservice by giving himself and his son such a big role in the project. Cooder's electric guitar doesn't work when it is mixed with thick, natural sound of the Cuban musicians. Director Win Wenders shot a brilliant sequence when legendary pianist Ruben Gonzalez is working magic on his piano and Cooder interjects with his electric guitar. Wenders moves the camera amongst the Cuban musicians while Cooder is playing and they all have perplexed looks on their faces. It is a sound that they obviously are not accustomed to and one that clashes with their natural sounds. It's also painful to watch Cooder's son head and shoulder movements while he plays percussion -- it's something straight out of a Wayans brother movie.
I don't want to seem ungrateful. Full credit goes to Cooder for what he has done for these performers and the music world. These performers obviously have deep affection for Cooder. Stepping back and the letting the legends go would have been the right thing to do. Instead, he looks like George Plimpton.
Awesome music, awesome movie.

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