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A REVIEWS III

Sister Carrie
Sister Carrie By Dreiser, Theodore (Book - 1927 )

Annotation:This is a very badly written book, hard to read, I glossed over some parts, but read it all nevertheless. I wanted to know what all the hype about Dreiser was: hot air! Dreiser was a communist sympathizer. That is clearly reflected in this (boring, too long) book. It is ridiculous to think the "American Dream" is merely that, a dream. Suffice to say that in the US Blacks have attained the wealthiest position of any other country in the world—and many live on Welfare, which is a documented fact. To dismiss America and Capitalism is a means to aggrandize communism, which, nevertheless, does not make it right. NOTICE: Attempts to censor my comments will be fiercely fought under the aegis of American Library Association’s beloved principles: Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Read, Intellectual Freedom. 1/2 * (CENSORED and reposted again on 5/29/13)

Of gods and men
Of gods and men Des hommes et des dieux (Blu-ray Disc - 2011 French )

Annotation:These monks were not "Christian" merely, but more correctly Catholic monks--i.e., Roman Catholic Church. This is a slow movie, with a few beautiful scenes. I am very partial to religious choirs, so I loved the monks singing. The last screen states that the monks' end is a mystery. There might be speculation about their end—none ever returned from captivity to tell what happened—but since they were taken from the monastery by terrorists, it is not illogical to believe they were killed. * * * 1/2 TAGS: Catholic monks; muslim terrorists (2/4/12)

Cheaper by the Dozen
Cheaper by the Dozen (DVD - 2004 )

Annotation:What a wonderful movie! I used to think Clifton Webb’s best role was in Laura, but after watching this I changed my mind. My favorite scene is when the Planned Parenthood woman comes to their house and is horrified to find they had 12 children. (And this, I believe, is the reason why this movie was never remade: imagine daring to make any criticism, even mild, to Planned Parenthood nowadays?! Unconceivable!) * * * * * (8/23/11)

The Way Back
The Way Back (DVD - 2011 )

Annotation:This is the (real) story of men yearning for freedom. They escaped from one of the most oppressive regimes on the face of the Earth: communism. In the name of “the good of the community,” Russian communists established 400 gulags, where millions of people were imprisoned and died of starvation, mistreatment, and overwork. They were not given the benefit of a trial, but just sent there on the mere suspicion of having spoken against the tyrannical regime. (If you thought Czars were bad, think twice!) These men walked 4,000 miles to find freedom from oppression! A must watch especially for the younger generations, who receive no scholarly education on the evils of communism. Based on “The Long Walk,” by Slavomir Rawicz. TAGS: communism; communist gulags; SIMILAR TITLES: The Gulag Archipelago; Return from the Archipelago (First posted 2/4/12. Reposted 2/22/2012. Reposted 6/29/12. Reposted 8/12/12)

Man, Moment, Machine
Man, Moment, Machine The Red Baron & the Wings of Death (DVD - 2009 )

Annotation:Good program, with some interesting information on planes and flight tactics. I wish it had a more in-depth approach. (I could not believe Hunter Ellis’ T-shirt, that seemed to have been twisted before he wore it, and which multitude of wrinkles were exacerbated by the sun. Incredible that the director was unable to notice and correct this! What’s wrong with ironing one’s clothes?!) * * * 1/2 (8/29/11)

Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey Season 2 (DVD - 2012 )

Annotation:Loved season I. Love season II. Can’t wait for season III. Downton Abbey is a nice change from the hypo-sexed, ultra-leftwing politically motivated, blood-soaked, amoral movies and TV series nowadays. Huge Bonneville plays a man of high principles and honor, the archetype English gentleman. (Contrast this performance with his Henleigh Grandcourt in Daniel Deronda!) Maggie Smith is absolutely fabulous as Grandmamma, the Dowager Countess; her repartees were priceless and her icy expressions, with that fabulous demi-smile, inimitable! And I actually enjoyed the commie chauffeur, when he read the news of the brutal murder of the Tzar family by his comrades in Russia and he states something to the effect that it was, er, necessary... It was surprising to see a commie exposed by the BBC! I sometimes wanted to punch Lady Mary or Matthew on the nose, but, hey, without their hesitation there would be no movie, right? The music is impeccable, the clothes absolutely stunning and quite accurate, and Downton Abbey—well, what more can one say about Highclere Castle? * * * * * (3/21/12)

Tower Heist
Tower Heist (DVD - 2012 )

Annotation:I was quite surprised this movie is rated PG 13, since there is so much sexual innuendo and lots of profanity. Definitely a movie for more mature audiences. Funny enough, but the possibilities of the two main comedians—Stiller and Murphy—were not explored. Matthew Broderick was actually very funny, with his mousy countenance. Casey Affleck on the other hand, can only be in any movie because he’s Ben’s brother; he is a mediocre actor, with a voice that makes you wish he’d just shut up as soon as he opens his mouth. * * * 1/2 (3/24/2012)

Laura
Laura (DVD - 2004 )

Annotation:Laura is one of my favorite movies. I watch it more than once a year. Gene Thierney and Dana Andrews are gorgeously young and beautiful. And Clifton Webb in his second best role—the first being in Cheaper by the Dozen. * * * * * (8/23/11)

I Am Dina
I Am Dina (DVD - 2009 )

Annotation:Another artsy European movie, vapid, full of bizarre imagery, with lots of Palm D'Or and Canne Festival prizes--which, in my view, means absolutely nothing. They are all great actors, but the violent hysteria of the main character does not ring true. Maria Bonnevie has a beautiful body, but the poor viewer is suddenly submitted to the torture of a naked Gerard Depardieu... I quickly blocked the view with my napkin, but the little I saw was enough to cause nightmares! And when one of the main characters seriously stated that property equals theft, I just turned the TV off. Movie makers are the first to defend their property rights with the harshest laws, yet, they are also the first to make sure they insert anti-Capitalist drivel in all their movies. Go figure! 1/2 * (8/25/11)

Sinking of the Lusitania
Sinking of the Lusitania Terror at Sea (DVD - 2008 )

Annotation:Very interesting program, with lots of details about the sinking of the Luzitania. There was, of course, the gratuitous and de rigeur attack to Churchill… To crown this, John Hannah delivers the most absurd speech ever, with his thick, Scottish accent: “On that day, the idea of a good, clean war, with a code of honor that protected civilians, vanished forever. The gloves came off and a new age of total warfare began.” What an infantile blabber! First of all, no war is “good” or “clean.” Second, Germans used gas since 1915, and by the time they sank the Lusitania (1917), they had already dumped hundreds of tons on the allied armies; what kind of “good, clean war” was that? Besides, wars before WWI were brutal, barbaric, and no civilian was ever safe. But other than these faux pas, the program is quite informative. * * * * TAGS: professor Ian Holbourn (8/29/11)

The conqueror
The conqueror (DVD - 2011 Russian )

Annotation:My husband and I enjoyed this movie. It’s definitely not a chick-flick; in it women have no participation. (You won’t see some skinny, lil’ woman handling a huge iron sword—which never happened, because a woman wouldn’t be able to handle a huge sword!) Nothing but men fighting, yelling, drinking, burping, and, well, being men! :-) Plus lots of History, but you have to pay lots of attention. There is one problem in my view: the voice over in English. The interpreters’ voices sounded too similar and were devoid of any emotion—while when you turned back to Russian, the characters were putting lots of emotion in their lines. Besides, there was a narrator in the background that the English version did not capture. Be aware of the horrible, excruciatingly violent torture scenes that will make you painfully aware of how horrendous medieval torture might have been. (I have to laugh at the people who talk about American soldiers “torture”; what a joke!) I have never read Gogol, but feel now inclined to read his Taras Bulba. All the characters were perfect—in what for me would have been Cossacks of yore—plus the beautiful blond Magdalena Mielcarz, who is so pretty she does not need talent. Music is in general bad, but we survived it. * * * * 1/2 THEME: Taras Bulba by Nikolai Gogol (4/22/12)

City of Vice
City of Vice The Complete First Season (DVD - 2008 )

Annotation:I like the series very much, although I thought Ian McDiarmid is a bit too old to play Henry Fielding who was at the time, I believe, on his mid forties. I love History and the London map constantly shown makes you really travel in time to the 18th century city. Iain Glen in my view has wonderful moments as Henry's blind younger half-brother, but sometimes I was hard pressed to imagine a blind person presenting such facial expressions. This is not a happy-ending film, but has brutal scenes and presents a dark, quite Gothic London. Still, a fascinating view of how that great city might have looked at that time. If you can especially pass the highly sexualized atmosphere (and above all, the "Molly" wedding, which I found disgusting), you might even want to watch this more than once. * * * * 1/2 (8/22/11)

Agora
Agora (DVD - 2010 )

Annotation:Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great (from Macedonia, Greece). It is believed that Hipathya lived in Alexandria between 350 and 415 A.D. (Anno Domini, term that, like BC, has been used since the Middle Ages). This movie is far from accurate and does not portray facts, but distorts them. There is a scene where Hypathia handed one of her admirers a rag; when he opens it, there was blood: from her monthly courses! Simply gross. Some might consider this a non-fiction movie, still it is supposedly based upon facts, yet it is full of inaccuracies. Director Alejandro Amenabar (an atheist) portrays Christians as a hysterical, filthy, violent crowd of disheveled animals, which is not surprising, considering that the overwhelming majority of film-makers and novel-writers are either atheists or leftists. Among its many inaccuracies the movie shows the Christians destroying the Library at Alexandria (a myth perpetrated by Carl Sagan and, before him, Edward Gibbon); what Mr. Amenabar seems not to know is that at the time of Hypathia, the Library had already ceased to exist. In Socrates Scholasticus’ Historia Ecclesiastica (book 5) there is an interesting description of the destruction of the Serapeum temple complex. Another inaccuracy: at the time the story takes place, Hypathia would be on her 50’s, so Miss Weisz (an actress I really like) was not a good choice. One of Hypathia’s most ardent students was a Bishop—Synesius—who wrote several letters to her, when he called her "mother, sister, teacher, and withal benefactress, and whatsoever is honored in name and deed." To the ones who believe this movie is remotely based upon facts, here is an article with an in-depth study of the inaccuracies, based on historical material: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/02/historical-inaccuracies-of-movie-agora.html. I also suggest they read “A History of Christianity” by respected historian Paul Johnson. (As for Kepler, the only Greeks who considered the heliocentric model were Aristarchus of Samus and Seleucus of Seleucia.) Incidentally, there was a man who gave tremendous importance to education and once wrote: “This new Reich will give its youth to no one but will itself take over youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.” 1/2 * (10/23/12; Updated 12/3/12) Similar Titles: Aristarchus of Samos; The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates, Surnamed Scholasticus, or the Advocate; Civilizations of the Holy Land; A History of Christianity

The Hit List
The Hit List (DVD - 2011 )

Annotation:Cuba Gooding, Jr. is one of those actors who can play ANY role; he is that good an actor—and I only got this movie because he was in it. Yet, while he can create wonderful, vivid characters—like Radio—he also plays absurd roles—like this one! What a waste of talent… With the exception of Cole Hauser, the rest of the cast is terrible, really B-movie type. They had a great story, but turned it into a silly movie. And, of course, there was the attack on Capitalism--de rigeur nowadays!--with the linguini-spine engineer telling he worked for the "corporate world" and the hit man answering something to the effect that everybody did. I wish so, but the biggest employers in the US are nowadays Big Brother and Welfare. 1/2 * (8/25/11)

Tron
Tron Legacy (DVD - 2011 )

Annotation:I never watched the original Tron and was pleasantly surprised by Legacy. Two things I didn’t enjoy was the computerized version of Jeff Bridges—too mechanical, clearly created by computer. The second was the idiotic comment about the poles melting—OK, enough already of global warming hysteria! There are a few missteps—like when they go to sleep after establishing to the audience in less than 8 hours the connection with the real world will be closed… Otherwise, lots of good action and good actors. Garrett Hedlund is very good and Olivia Wilde is absolutely gorgeous. (She is an even prettier version of a young Polly Walker!) * * * * (8/23/11)

The Daily Telegraph Dictionary of Tommies' Songs and Slang, 1914-18
The Daily Telegraph Dictionary of Tommies' Songs and Slang, 1914-18 By Brophy, John (Book - 2008 )

Annotation:There is only one problem with this book: lack of Index, which makes research a bit difficult. Otherwise, great document of WWI. * * * * 1/2 (8/19/11)

Moments in Time
Moments in Time Letters From the Roman Front (DVD - 2008 )

Annotation:This program had EVERYTHING to be great, yet it was disappointing. The fascinating letters are rarely read, even if they’re too frequently mentioned. There’s one scene where hundreds of artifacts found in that dig are showed, one after the other, in such a fast succession you can’t distinguish most. Only that would warrant an entire program! The family—whose name escapes me—made incredible discoveries, yet more of their faces is shown than the incredible artifacts they found. I have never seen a hobnailed sandal—yes, a real one Roman soldiers wore!—yet they show it once, very briefly and leave you wanting more. Tons of objects that could be explained are rejected to the briefest of mentions. Highly disappointing. 1/2 * (8/23/11)

Valhalla Rising
Valhalla Rising (DVD - 2010 )

Annotation:Don’t take me wrong, I love Mads Mikkelsen; he was very good at Casino Royale, King Arthur and Clash of the Titans, but this movie is pure trash. Although I was not expecting a quick-paced, Hollywood-style action movie, I found it excruciatingly, unbelievably slow—it reminded me of Bergman's silly drivel! The gruesome, senseless violence in this movie was shocking. It is even more gruesome and bloody than the new version of Spartacus. In one of the many violent scenes, One Eye beats the brain out of his opponent—literally. This is the kind of movie I regret even getting from the library; and although some may call it "existential," I call it a waste of time. Instead of this movie, I’d suggest “Black Death,” with Sean Bean, one of my favorite actors. 1/2 * (CENSORED. Reposted 8/12/12; updated 12/30/12)

Chickens in your Backyard
Chickens in your Backyard A Beginner's Guide By Luttmann, Rick (Book - 1976 )

Annotation:Excellent book for people who know nothing about raising chickens--or the bipeds themselves. Lots of details, but not overwhelming. I just wish this book was re-published, but this time with pictures. It is really worth it! * * * * * (8/8/11)

The Dark Corner
The Dark Corner (DVD - 2005 )

Annotation:Very interesting movie--despite Lucille Ball's wooden, masculine performance. But if you do not like film noire, this is not for you. The plot is believable, but the end was disappointingly predictable. Clifton Web repeating his role as Laura's Waldo, but forgivable, considering his talent. It was fun to hear 1940's slang. As for the title having nothing to do with the movie, Mark Stevens the main character (the "private dick" Bradford Galt) actually says: "I'm backed up in a dark corner, and I don't know who's hitting me." * * * * QUOTES: “There goes my last lead. I feel all dead inside. I'm backed up in a dark corner, and I don't know who's hitting me. (Bradford Galt)”; “You should have William Powell for a secretary. (Kathleen)” (8/8/11)

Army of Darkness
Army of Darkness (DVD - 2009 )

Annotation:OK, I confess: this is one of my favorite movies! Bruce Campbell is absolutely perfect for the part. The lines are superbly funny. No, this is not a sophisticated production, but if you want a comedy, this is it! * * * * * QUOTES: “Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I've got news for you pal, you ain't leadin' but two things, right now: Jack and shit... and Jack left town. (Ash to Duke Henry)”; “Gimme some sugar, baby. (Ash)”; “Yo, she-bitch! Let's go! (Ash to the witch)” (8/3/11)

Moments in Time
Moments in Time Antony and Cleopatra Battle at Actium (Book - 2008 )

Annotation:I cannot stand the way historians have been carelessly reinterpreting History for the last few years. I am not against reviewing facts that elude us, but cannot abide personally interpreting that which is quite vague. In my view, portraying History with one’s personal bias, is unethical and should be avoided. The historian who conducts the “research” obviously likes Marc Antony, to the detriment of Octavian. One of the first statements uttered in the program is that the battle of Actium changed the Ancient world. I beg to differ: it did not change it, but kept its status quo. In other words, had the faction of Cleopatra won, we’d be in the Middle Ages, since we know how Egypt evolved from then to the present… I wish historians would apply scientific methods and be more skeptical, paying great care not to instill their bias into History, a subject that suffers almost irreparable damage in the process. The series should be called “Discovery Uneducation"! 1/2 * TAGS: history revisionism; uneducational videos (8/3/11)

Flying Down to Rio
Flying Down to Rio (DVD - 2006 )

Annotation:Love the movie, especially because the Hotel Atlântico is actually the Copacabana Palace, built in 1923 and still standing, facing Copacabana beach. In 1933 the Copa was already famous and had hosted many famous people. From my research, I believe some of the areal scenes are also of Rio--although I was told by the Copacabana Palace that it was filmed in Malibu. The famous music, the "Carioca," sounds like a mix of tango with the Brazilian "maxixe" (pronounced masheeshee); it was not, nevertheless, originated in Brazil and was written by Americans. Some of the Portuguese (Brazilian) spoken was terrible; the only real Brazilian accent were from Julio (Raul Roulien) and the policemen. I was surprised at the women super-scanty clothes (especially the chorus girls') and a couple of the jokes--quite daring for the era! This is also the first movie in which Rogers and Astaire danced together. It seems audiences in theaters applauded their number and from then on the partnership started. * * * * * TAGS: 1930's rio de janeiro; copacabana palace hotel rio de janeiro. (8/5/11)

The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth By Follett, Ken (Book - 1989 )

Annotation:Disappointing. Follett’s writing is too simplistic. (And, no, I am not comparing him to a Marcel Proust.) I can’t understand how someone who writes things like “Tom said: bla, bla, bla,” can be a successful writer. 1/2 * (8/1/11)

Stage Door
Stage Door (DVD - 2005 )

Annotation:OK, I have to confess my favorite actor in this movie is the cat Henry (Whitey the Cat)! What an adorable thing, placidly hanging on Wise-cracking Eve (Eve Arden) neck from beginning to end! Now, this is an excellent movie, the girls exchanges are absolutely hilarious, especially the highly bitter, sarcastic ones between Jean and Linda (Ginger Rodgers and Gail Patrick)! The bit of tragedy close to the end does not remove the movie from the comedy ranks. It is an excellent movie and if any deserve to be remade, this is it! HIGHLY recommend it! * * * * * (7/30/11)

Julius Caesar's Rome
Julius Caesar's Rome (DVD - 2005 )

Annotation:It is upsetting that most of this program is presented as factual history. In fact it is conjecture at best, since the only sources are historians who lived 200 years after the facts they narrated. I wish they’d refrained from making assumptions of how Caesar, Anthony, Octavius or Cleopatra might have “felt”! There is no way even the ancient historians who wrote about them could know! Caesar is presented as the coldest, most devious Roman ever, and Cleopatra is merely a victim of a “man’s world”—oh, please! While Joe Mantegna narration is very good Kim Catral’s will put you in the mood for a good nap. (And what’s with the two professors one wearing boots, the other jeans and so nonchalantly sitting in a chair it seemed he was bored.) 1/2 * (7/30/11)

Taken
Taken (DVD - 2009 )

Annotation:MMy husband and I LOVE this movie. Liam Neeson is a wonderful actor and is very convincing. Frankly, I would also kill to get my daughter back! If anyone would hurt her, I'd go to the end of the world to get back at them! Way to go, Neeson! (The girls act just like girls their age act all over the world, nothing more, nothing less.) ***** (7/1/2013)

Lola Montès
Lola Montès (DVD - 2009 French )

Annotation:This is an example of what I call an overrated movie. It is a bore, strange, awkward. If this is "art" I'd rather watch something not so artistic. 1/2 * (7/28/11)

Red Riding Hood
Red Riding Hood (DVD - 2011 )

Annotation:This was one of the silliest movies I've ever watched. Valerie is all faces and eyes, no interpretation whatsoever. The other actors are as bad. Even Oldman is ridiculous, with a strange accent and vague past. The movie never picks up and the "werewolf" is so cartoonish it gets to be funny! The movie did not loose anything in the transfer to the small screen, simply because it's an empty carcass. I regretted having watched it when it ended... 1/2 * (7/27/11)

The First Man in Rome
The First Man in Rome By McCullough, Colleen (Book - 1990 )

Annotation:(This was also CENSORED by Bibliocommons without even the courtesy of letting me know. Bibliocommons forget they are there to SERVE library patrons, not CENSOR legitimate reviews!) Good enough to read the whole book... although Mrs. McCullough took lots of license with historical information. (Read Appius and Plutarch and you will know what I mean.) For instance, I wonder where she got the idea that Marius and Rutilius were friends and maintained correspondence. Also, why would she conclude Sulla had sexual relations (at the same time) with both his step-mother and Nicopolis? The only thing, for example, I could find was a mention in Plutarch, that he inherited money from "a step-mother who loved him as her own son." Also that "he made court to a common but rich lady, Nicopolis" and that "she rather than he was the lover, and that at her death she bequeathed him her whole property." Talk about imagination gone wild... And where did she find the ifnromation that there were no chickens in Rome?! *** (4/23/12; updated 2/27/13)

Ironfire: An Epic Novel of Love and War
Ironfire: An Epic Novel of Love and War By Ball, David (Book )

Annotation:I love historical novels and while I recognize Mr. Ball's talent as a writer, I have issues with his "historical" accounts. Take the Knights of St. John for instance. I can't imagine the Maltese people hating them,since if it was not for them, the island inhabitants would have all been taken into slavery by Muslims. And his "historical" accounts on Muslims and Christians... oh, my! "In Islam, conversions by force are prohibited [...]." Excuse me? It is known that Mohammad surrounded a city and offered its people to convert; if they refused they were summarily executed. I wouild call that forced conversions! Then Mr. Ball accuses Christians (not Romans) of destroying the Temple at Jerusalem... And that Christians spread the word that Romans, not Jewish, condemned Jesus--although it is historically known that Pilate allowed the Jewish to decide Jesus faith. There is also the matter of pedophilia: a 10 year-old boy is sexually exploited first by a woman, then by an older man. Earlier, when the boy was told what the old man intends to do with him, he merely asked "Does it hurt"! I am hard put to imagine a boy not recoiling in horror at that! There is graphic depiction of a girl being raped by a priest. It seems to me Now, do this exercise: try to write a crude, graphic depiction of an abhorrent act; you will understand how difficult it will be for you to put words into paper--well, unless you would enjoy doing the act, even if in your mind... I get tired of books that, with the label of "entertainment" are merely an escape valve for writers' twisted minds! I guess I am just too "puritanical" for this kind of high-brow, "progressive" literature. (Interestingly, cancer is also progressive...) 1/2 * TAGS: Christian bad muslim good; pedophilia; rape (7/23/11)

Glory
Glory (Blu-ray Disc - 2009 )

Annotation:This is a wonderful movie that shows the commitment of the North to free blacks enslaved in the South. It accurately portrays the few blacks who gallantly fought for theirs and their brothers and sisters' freedom. It has no bias, and it is not politically correct. The end is highly moving and is the reason of the title. I am not a big fan of Matthew Broderick, but he is great, as is the whole cast. Most certainly a 5-star, must see movie lovers of good historical movies should own. (I just LOVE to read the enraged--and jealous—comments from Canadians! It reminds me of my grandmother who used so say: “Enquanto os cães ladram, a caravana passa—that I believe will translate as: The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on…) * * * * * (7/23/11; reviewed 10/26/12)

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