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Reviews Written by
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU "A soul doctor, so to say" (OLLIERGUES France)

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Stranger, the
Stranger, the
VHS

5.0 out of 5 stars A monster can look very sociable, and yet, Jan. 27 2004
This review is from: Stranger, the (VHS Tape)
This film is rather important, even today. It is about the chase for a Nazi war criminal who has managed to erase his tracks and has emigrated to the US where he managed to integrate the good society of a small town. He was responsible for the final solution in one important concentration camp. The first idea that comes clearly from the film is that a criminal of that type can never reform and is a perverted mind and man forever. He has to be caught and neutralized. He has to be brought to court to answer for his crimes. The film is quite well done and the suspense is rather well built. The end is spectacular and very demonstrative of what such a criminal can come to if he feels menaced. Even love cannot erase his crimes and cannot make him come to terms with his responsibility because he has no conscience any more. To be shown to young audiences for them to see what war and fascism can lead to.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU


Family Plot
Family Plot
VHS
3 used & new from CDN$ 12.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Has done better before., Jan. 24 2004
This review is from: Family Plot (VHS Tape)
Of course it is well woven. Of course there are some funny scenes. Of course the plot is simple and the qui pro quo is clear, for us. But the motivations are not very clear, and are not at all explored, be they those of the old rich lady, or those of the illegitimate son, or those of the would-be private eyes. So it is an easy entertaining film to watch, but neither frightening, nor hilarious, nor deeply disturbing, nor overpsychological. It is not one of Hitchcock's best films even if we have to reckon that the work is very clean and very professional and that the English is proper and in no way colloquial. It has all the qualities of a Hitchcock film but one : the soul-raking intricacy and depth, and the implacable logic of motivation and suspense : everything seems to be gratuitous and we know from the very start what is to happen in every single next scene. Just two pleasant odd hours.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU


Unknown Pleasures [Import]
Unknown Pleasures [Import]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars China is on the move, but the road is still long, Jan. 24 2004
That is a new wind finally blowing on China, in a way. The picture of these young Chinese in Beijing, growing up among enormous roadworks and closed-up factories is quite realistic. Some young people in this country that is growing so fast and transforming itself so deeply can only be bored somewhere, if they are not taken up by the movement, and some are definitely not. It no longer is the time of Red Guards and the Cultural Revolution. And it is not yet the time of entrepreneurial dynamism for everyone bringing benifits to everyone. We feel behind the scenes a strict social control in every neighborhood coming from some local « bureaucrats » or « representatives » of we do not exactly know what or who. There definitely is some moral order everywhere in this life, and ways to negociate it and do what one wants to do. Some evils do exist here and there, more or less known and tolerated : prostitution, alcoholism, demotivation, speculation, black market, and many other small activities that represent big money in a country where money is not running full blast in the pipes. But this film was shot and shown in China, and it is no propaganda about what China would like us to believe it is, or even about what China really is. It is a realistic, blunt, and slightly slow image of one section of China that points out real problems more than solutions. This realistic tone is new and it is also courageous in a country that is growing so fast to point out the negative points more than the progress being made. We can even think that in four years, for the Olympic Games they will surprise us, even if they have not yet solved two essential evils : the death penalty and democracy. But when realistic films can be shot and shown in a country, that country is on the right road.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU


Beowulf: Old English Edition
Beowulf: Old English Edition
by Anonymous
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.63
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars One of teh greatest English poem of all times, Jan. 21 2004
Beowulf is a masterpiece of English literature, the mastermind of all the authors, playwrights, and many other artists coming after it. The language is rather difficult because it is Anglosaxon. But the book gives systematic notes about the words, and only the words, of the poems. Some of these notes are vague if not faultive. One example : page 51, the word « eorl » is given as meaning « man » on line 761 et « warrior » on line 769, without any more ado. We do regret that these lexical notes are not collected into a lexicon, which would save many repetitions and make it easier to find the word one is looking for. We also regret that there are no notes about the « grammar », « morphology » or « syntax » of Anglosaxon. We thus miss a lot, for example the feminine, masculine and neuter genders, and this is absolutely essential. One example : « Beowulf » is the association of the feminine « beo » meaning « bee » and the masculine « wulf » meaning « wolf ». Yet one can, if one has a good lexicon or dictionary and a good « grammar » of Anglosaxon, get into these subtleties. And then the poem is remarkably beautiful. I am not going to insist on the mirror it is for the christianizing of the old scandinavian, germanic and probably celtic mythology. This is not commonly studied, but I would like to insist on another element : the structure of the poem. The very first part is absolutely typical of the old culture : Beowulf goes out against some monsters who have survived from a very old period, a very old race (the giants who have been locked up in some mountain by the Gods of this religion), and he conquers glory and fame. There is no « fate » in this section, or very little. Beowulf is a young « adventurer » who blazes his trail through the world and history. Then there is a long transition from this glorious age to old age and death and there a new discourse appears and builds itself in the poem : man has to assume some fate that comes from God. Man has to stand up in front of his fate, no matter what it may bring, because it is his divine dimension that demands it. This is both Christian and germanic. So Beowulf is courageous and tries to bring good living conditions to his people because that is his responsibility in front of God, be he the Christian God or Odin, or the « weird sisters » of Shakespeare, the three Norns, Urd, Vervandi and Skuld. But the last part goes beyond this rather non-defined transition. Beowulf has to fight again against a monster, this time a dragon. This fight is Christian in many ways because the dragon is a reference to the « Book of Revelations », or Daniel's dragon Bel. It is Christian because Beowulf will give the order to bury forever the hoard of this dragon for two reasons : men are not supposed to be greedy any more, and this hoard comes from very old periods of human history and represents the culture of these old centuries. Greed is a capital sin and these old centuries have to be rejected, along with their culture and religion. But, yet, Beowulf is a man who carries the culture of past ages and his burial is typically that of a hero of the past : the pyre, the cremation, though not with a woman, wife or servant or slave, or any other human being who would sacrifice him/herself or be sacrificed to the dead man ; the twelve children going around the tomb represent the twelve rune, Eoh or Eihwaz, the yew tree, a symbol of death in germanic culture, a symbol of Odin's final battle, the Ragnarok, the end of the world, brought down by a general war among all human races and gods alike, with maybe the promise of a regeneration. This death is a tremendous mixing of Christian and Germanic beliefs, though this death is christianized in its perspective : to bring peace to the world, to reject greed, to look for a regeneration of the soul, to believe that man can improve. And yet it is the negation of the « Thing » political system of this culture : the king, who should be elected by the people, is here designated if not appointed by the dying king, Beowulf, in the face of death and God. This is in a way a justification of God-anointed kingship, hence the shift from the old germanic « Thing » democracy to a feudal God-appointed kingship. That poem is definitely one of the most powerful and important poems of English culture. It should be studied in depth by all students or scholars who want to understand anything about the English mind ; even today and probably tomorrow.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU


Beowulf: A Prose Translation: Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism
Beowulf: A Prose Translation: Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism
by Professor Nicholas Howe
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from CDN$ 6.42

4.0 out of 5 stars A mastermind masterpiece in English poetry, Jan. 21 2004
A very useful book on a cult poem in English literature, maybe the founding poem of English literature. The translation of the Anglosaxon text is altogether good because nearly word for word. Yet it contains some imperfections, or some untranslatable - and improperly rendered - elements. For example the text contains at least thirteen words to speak of the sword, without counting developed metaphors or descriptions. It is of course impossible to translate such lexical richness. But it is a sign of this iron-age civilization bent to fighting with this sword, among other equipment. It shows the great symbolical value of the sword in this culture before the arrival of christianity, and it will survive after the conversion of these peoples to this new religion. This text also represents the christianizing of the old mythology or religion of scandinavion, germanic and probably celtic peoples. Hence the All Father (Odin) of this culture, becomes in the text « Father all-ruling » (section 4), « All-ruler » (section 19), « Ruler of Men » (section 24), « Ruler of Glory » (section 25), « wise Lord » (section 26), « the Ruler ... everlasting Lord » (section 33), and then a standard « God » several times. This chritianizing of an old religion is an essential aim of this poetry and it is done with great care. For example again, the twelve children that pay homage to Beowulf after his being cremated, are a reference to the twelve apostles, the twelve doors of the messianic Jerusalem, the twelve layers of gems in the wall of the messianic Jerusalem, all references to the Bible. But twelve is also the runic letter Eoh or Eihwaz, representing the yew tree, a symbol of death in many ways, and even of the « Ragnarok », the end of the world, the great hunt and war among all living beings, men and gods alike, that will bring the world down, and maybe its regeneration afterwards. Here the christian context moves this regeneration towards that of the soul after death and eventually after the second coming, Doomsday. If we study this poem from this symbolical point of view, with all the cross-references we can imagine and find, we have a masterpiece that spans centuries of old culture and religion and opens up on centuries of a new culture and religion. It is the passageway between two spiritual worlds. It would be very interesting to compare the dragon of the « Book of Revelations » and the dragon that finally kills Beowulf though he is also killed by Beowulf simultaneously. We have to remember that Shakespeare was extremely learned about these cultural facts and that the three « Weird Sisters » in Macbeth are his modern version of the three Norns, Urd, Vervandi and Skuld, who govern our lives and our fate. And what's more « weird » comes from the word « wyrd » that means « fate » in Beowulf, that is fate in Odin's mythology, that is the twenty-fifth rune, and the vision of Beowulf's fate in this poem is very scandinavian, germanic : you do not fight against fate, you assume your fate and stand up to it, even if it means your death. A man in this culture is standing up in front of fate not to oppose it but to live or die upright and assuming anything that may come. No submission to death. No submission in life. One must live and die on one's feet, facing the future, one's weapons in one's hands, believing that one will be something beyond any challenge if one can say : « I was walking tall in the face of life and death ». This poem is a lesson of courage and stamina, as well as of our limits in front of the personal, social, natural, historical or cosmic perspectives we have to face. Some of the collected articles after the text are very enlightening, for example J.R.R. Tolkien's.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU


Horror Express
Horror Express

4.0 out of 5 stars Effective thriller though the end is weak, Jan. 19 2004
This review is from: Horror Express (VHS Tape)
One more time for the Transsiberian train to become the hero of a film. The core of the story is quite interesting, though it has been used by quite a few authors and directors : some form of energy coming from outspace survives on the earth by getting hosted by some animal form. This energy can move from one being to another and it can also absorb all the knowledge anyone has though this absorption will kill the victim. A cross between extraterrestrial energy and vampiristic killing. Put such a being in a train rushing through Siberia and it becomes very fascinating : the reactions of the people, the people themselves, the shock between these people and a couple of Cossacks, etc. Agatha Christie used that situation very well in her Orient Express. This film also shows how scientists and doctors are more interested in science than in human beings and that they may take risks, for others as well as for themselves, in order to gain some fundamental knowledge. This is still true and the social and ethical responsibility of scientists is always and has always to be questioned. The end is a little bit disappointing : to destroy the monster and all evidence in a train crash is not very creative at all, and it is a little bit fast and skimpy. Too bad. But the film is otherwise entertaining. After all we need to come to an end in a way or another.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU


Doll Face [VHS]
Doll Face [VHS]
VHS

4.0 out of 5 stars Never trust the face of life., Jan. 19 2004
This review is from: Doll Face [VHS] (VHS Tape)
In a way an interesting film about the world of drama-entertainment in New York, with the strict division between « noble » musicals and « unmentionable » burlesque, except that burlesque ? being a lot more fragile and a lot less valorized by the « worthy » audience, is a hothouse for all kinds of flexible and at times very creative shows, songs, ideas, artists. When one is hungry and poor one has a natural tendency to move on, to invent, to attract attention, to be what one has never been and what others have never been either. What�s more the film is also about some social issues, particularly women and their position in the confrontation they live every day with men. Men appear as being ruffians, a little bit rough on the edges and definitely tactician sexual climbers taking advantage of any opportunity appearing in their vision. Women are depicted as more faithful, more attached to permanence and deeper feelings. This little film is in many ways one of the roots of the theme developed in « Moulin Rouge » though a lot less dramatically and emotionally. A good entertainment that shows how the burlesque can take its revenge on upperclass showbusiness.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU


Deadly Encounter [Import]
Deadly Encounter [Import]
VHS

4.0 out of 5 stars Get your wings and take a pill against airsickness, Jan. 19 2004
A great film for all those who like both thrillers and helicopters. The helicopter-chases are definitely great and spectacular. The core of the story is simple : a woman is looking for help from an ex-lover or ex-husband, who knows, to recuperate two million dollars and a book stolen from some gangster and hidden somewhere in a plane wrecked in a plane-cemetery. We must not look for great depth in the situation and characters, but the long flight to the treasure is well dealt with and it has a good rhythm that enhances the thrilling context, though the helicopter-chases might seem a little bit long if we do not like such acrobatics. The sightseeing is great too with a detailed discovery of all the mountains and valleys in Arizona and around the Grand Canyon. Entertaining and spectacular enough to become nearly fascinating.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU


The Abuse of Beauty: The Paul Carus Lectures 21
The Abuse of Beauty: The Paul Carus Lectures 21
by Arthur C. Danto
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 32.50
35 used & new from CDN$ 20.41

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clearly out of everyday art practices among the "people", Jan. 19 2004
This book is a collection of articles and essays, most of which must have been published in The Nation, for which Danto is an art critic. They cannot and will not reveal any structured and clearly defined approach of art. They are an impressionistic progress through Danto�s own writings. But Danto ignores anything that does not go his way. He ignores Bosch who is the negation of his « beauty » definition of Renaissance art. He ignores all those who deal with « ugly » subjects, even Goya and his drawings about the horror of war and many other subjects. He ignores television and video art, directly on these media (there is one instance in this book of the use of video art in a museum presentation : that is not television and video art, that is the use of video and television technology within the museum). He even relegates video and television art in the « demotic » field, that is to say art for the people, and this approach, borrowed from Hegel, is absolutely condescendent towards the people : people can only suck on the television pacifier because they are not able to understand and enter the sphere of real art. Danto is an aristocrat, like all art critics. He thus ignores the audience of art, the people who are bombarded with artistic forms everyday in the supermarkets, in films, on TV, and in all kinds of mediatic channels. Danto is a typical university professor turned into an art critic and who advocates and illustrates the dominant vision that art is IN the artist, IN the official art circulating system, IN the critic�s analysis of it. I dream of a real republic of arts, arts FOR the people, WITH the people and BY the people. Not a submission of artists to the « uneducated » people but a constant permanent intercourse (and this implies exchange, and personal � even sexually and emotionally motivated � connection) between the artists and the wide audience that is bombarded with artistic productions. When I read Danto I think of what Spiro Agnew said about « ephete intellectuals ». Agnew was not a very kosher and clean character but he definitely had one point here : what is important in art is the effect it has on the widest audience possible through the various media that use artistic concepts and constructs to be effective. What I am interested in is not the self-satisfied belly-button titillation of artists or art critics but the real effect art forms have on people in general through channels that Danto does not even know, because he is totally locked up in his artistic ghetto. It�s a shame because some of his ideas are interesting, orginal and even explosive. But he does not even know about it.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU


The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World
The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World
by Arthur C. Danto
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 42.95
22 used & new from CDN$ 3.30

4.0 out of 5 stars He missed the communicational society of ours, Jan. 19 2004
This book is a collection of articles and essays, most of which must have been published in The Nation, for which Danto is an art critic. They cannot and will not reveal any structured and clearly defined approach of art. They are an impressionistic progress through Danto's own writings. But Danto ignores anything that does not go his way. He ignores Bosch who is the negation of his « beauty » definition of Renaissance art. He ignores all those who deal with « ugly » subjects, even Goya and his drawings about the horror of war and many other subjects. He ignores television and video art, directly on these media (there is one instance in this book of the use of video art in a museum presentation : that is not television and video art, that is the use of video and television technology within the museum). He even relegates video and television art in the « demotic » field, that is to say art for the people, and this approach, borrowed from Hegel, is absolutely condescendent towards the people : people can only suck on the television pacifier because they are not able to understand and enter the sphere of real art. Danto is an aristocrat, like all art critics. He thus ignores the audience of art, the people who are bombarded with artistic forms everyday in the supermarkets, in films, on TV, and in all kinds of mediatic channels. Danto is a typical university professor turned into an art critic and who advocates and illustrates the dominant vision that art is IN the artist, IN the official art circulating system, IN the critic's analysis of it. I dream of a real republic of arts, arts FOR the people, WITH the people and BY the people. Not a submission of artists to the « uneducated » people but a constant permanent intercourse (and this implies exchange, and personal - even sexually and emotionally motivated - connection) between the artists and the wide audience that is bombarded with artistic productions. When I read Danto I think of what Spiro Agnew said about « ephete intellectuals ». Agnew was not a very kosher and clean character but he definitely had one point here : what is important in art is the effect it has on the widest audience possible through the various media that use artistic concepts and constructs to be effective. What I am interested in is not the self-satisfied belly-button titillation of artists or art critics but the real effect art forms have on people in general through channels that Danto does not even know, because he is totally locked up in his artistic ghetto. It's a shame because some of his ideas are interesting, orginal and even explosive. But he does not even know about it.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU


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