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Merilahti Kristiina (Finland)
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Fallen Angels - Part 1 [VHS] [1993]
Fallen Angels - Part 1 [VHS] [1993]

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Film noir in Technicolour, 20 Jan 2004
Fallen Angels 1 has three film noir -stories, each half an hour long, all created in the style of the 40's films. I got this because of Rickman (of course, he's a wonderful actor), but wasn't disappointed in any of the other stories either.
The first story stars Peter Gallagher as a conman/cardplayer, and reminds very much of the cheap detective stories my father had. In this world nobody really works, everybody cons, even the nice old sweet couple Gallagher meets in a train and tries to win their money. Wrong move, of course, he gets thrown out in the middle of a desert and later picked up by a car driven by a newly married couple: a man who is a Bible printer and his gorgeous wife, Isabella Rossellini, who nags and nags until than man stops the car and.... Gallagher in is the middle of another plot. Unrealistically beautiful and dangerous women, sadistic killers, organized crime - the lot. A real 40's B-movie in 30 minutes.
'Murder, obliquely' is why I wanted to see this. Laura Dern gets invited to meet a friend of her friends, Dwight (Rickman), and immediately knows, this is her first and final love. Though the man doesn't seem to be interested. They get interrupted by Rickman's lover, a well built redhead - and her new husband. In Rickman's mind the thing isn't over, so newlyweds exit after the woman has thrown all Rickman's gifts on his face. And a bit later they are again, apparently, lovers. Until Dern's innocent remark about a canceled concert breaks everything.
'Murder, obliquely', directed by Cuaron, is different from the two other ones. Everything really happens somewhere else. What we see and hear are Dern's narrative and a couple of people reacting to hints. They are always inside, in doorways, half letting someone in but still keeping them out. Very little is said but Dern's narrative. I've never really liked Dern, but this time she was good. And Rickman... There's again that odd mix of soft, slow sensuality, cunning, cold, calculating intellect and a touch of vulnerability and sincerity (which may be even real). One starts thinking: "OK, he's not young and handsome (though I must admit I find his profile intriguing), but he probably could charm you before you realized what is happening, and kill you without anybody noticing you are dead - and he'd probably have a very good and justified reason for doing it, damn it!" So you don't wonder Dern's choice in the end, though you yourself start speculating: what then? is he serious? is he planning something else? Dern's way of repeating: "My first and final love" leaves a whole lot of options. And to me it reminds the end of Francis Iles' novel 'Before the fact', which I've always liked very much. Yes, this is a good buy for a Rickman-fan, though it doesn't give that many minutes of him. And then again: I might not be that good of a fan, because given a choise between a Rickman-movie (or any movie) and listening to Brel, I'd listen to Brel. Sorry, fans.
The third one is again a more active story, moving from city to city, from real live celebrities to the mob. Tim Matheson is Howard Hughes - an odd choice - and Gary Busey the guy, who works for him and Michael Cohen, hyperactivelly played by James Woods. Busey, too, is an odd choise for the guy who seems to have a decent heart somewhere, but everybody works rather fine.
The story moves around a blond bombshell, whom both Hughes and Cohen want to find. But she isn't what she appears to be, though she worked as a prostitute. All the marks of a Bogart-type movie are here; the cynical lead character, criminals, mobsters, dead men turning up from all sorts of places, a beautiful, elusive woman, wanted by many and yet seemingly capable to take care of herself and have her own, cunning plans.
Well, I liked these. I've always liked film noir and even with these modern actors (which sometimes make the stories come very close to a parody) and brilliant colours they were well made and amazingly loyal. I even liked the order, with calm, hinting 'Murder,obliquely' placed in between Bogart-style stories. A well deserved 4 stars.


Mesmer [DVD] [1994] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Mesmer [DVD] [1994] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Donal Donnelly

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, somehow painfully failed but still worth every star, 18 Jan 2004
First, I understand well, why some people regard this movie as a failure. Something clearly failed here - or wasn't thought through. It's hard to see, why, since the actors are good, there's clearly a lot of money put into the film and I do like Potter's scripts, even this one. Maybe it's just editing. Or maybe all this was left open to let us think.
The movie then... Mesmer really existed and as far as I know, the movie has the basic facts right. He lived in Austria and was deported. How awful his marriage was, I don't know, but in this movie it's clearly an arrangement, money for the doctor and a civilized and apparently younger husband for a rich woman, who already has a grown son. They say mean things to each other all the time and the son seems cruel and stupid. Cruelty, stupidity and abuse seem to be uncovered everywhere around Mesmer as the movie goes on. I've also read, how many people complain about all the open endings in this movie. 'What happens to the girl? What happens to...?' But Mesmer is thrown away from his old life and forced to leave things - and in life that happens: there are no real endings except death. And a lot is expected from the audience here. When Ooms finally regains her sight, it seems to happen because of an accident, but in hypnosis the surprise effect is very important. They didn't know what they were doing, whether to believe or not, so the unconscious mind had to be jolted. Surprised. Maybe that was the failure of this movie: too much knowledge is expected from us.
The technical flaws... At times particularly Rickman's voice was very hard to hear and the plot seems a bit loose. I admit he's got the most expressive face, eyes, voice and hands in the movie business and for once they were very well portrayed. In fact, the movie seems to rely on them. I was a bit confused, what was the point of the movie. Was it a historical piece, romantic story - it even had some comedy, as great tragedies often have. Mesmer seems to fail, although in real life he actually did cure people. And then he said his bit about how much pain there is in the world and how he could not bare not to be able to do anything to relieve it. And there was the point; that's why Dennis Potter, already dying, wrote the script this way. Even the kissing scene, which to many people seems very romantic and sexy, seemed sad to me. As if Mesmer couldn't believe something like that really happens to him. Even the ending made sense, then. This is a man, whose heart is aching to do something good in a world filled with pain and cruelty, selfishness and ignorance, but fails because one man isn't enough. Even the one he cures isn't saved, because the world doesn't understand what he was trying to do, what he was trying to make people see. Dennis Potter's testament, maybe? After I realized this, the silliest, oddest things seemed to fall into place - like Rickman staring at the moon and playing with his musical instrument in the attic, that was shown over and over again. I suddenly remembered: what do teenagers do, when nobody understands them and they can't get away? They go to their room and play music until their mind becomes blank...
Oh yes, Rickman was born to wear cloaks (see Snape and Sheriff of Nottingham) and white ruffles around his throat, Amanda Ooms is lovely and the acting and the sceneries are great. And to remind, why Rickman is so great as a villain, he gets to throw the boy down the stairs. Suddenly a burst of energy and passion, making the character even more complicated, more human - because that's what Rickman does at his best: complete, complicated, deeply human characters.
It's a very different kind of movie and many may not like it, but it's well worth watching. One gets to see an actor like Rickman far too little, and Dennis Potter was an excellent writer, even if this wasn't his best script. I loved it. It was very different from the super hero and cartoon character movies. We need to be reminded of real humanity and the fragility of people this way, because there seems to be very little room for compassion, pity and understanding in today's world.


Rasputin [VHS][1996]
Rasputin [VHS][1996]
VHS
Offered by smallerneil
Price: £15.99

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A movie with no flaws, 18 Jan 2004
This review is from: Rasputin [VHS][1996] (VHS Tape)
The story of the last Romanovs starts from Siberia 1991: their bones are found and the boy, Alexei, introduces: "These are the bones of my mother, this is my family..." Then a leap back to 1880's and to a boy, who seems to read minds. 20 years later he - Rasputin - is doing hard labour in Siberia, until Virgin Mary appears to him. Very swiftly the plot takes us to St. Petersburg, where Rasputin convinces others of his mission. The boy, Alexei, narrates, how he came to heal him and was their only friend, no matter what people said about him later. The monk, who looks like a madman, knows about Alexei's illness, although it has been a state secret, and by speaking about sailing he takes the pain away, into himself, as it seems. A hypnotist, a fraud, a madman, a magical healer?
Rasputin convinces the Tzarina and later the Tzar of his abilities, so he has a place in court, although he is a very embarrassing man, uneducated, unpredictable and too fond of wine and gypsy prostitutes. Behind the scenes Russian people suffer, the First world war (predicted by Rasputin) is started and the last minutes of the Romanov family are at hand. Everything is told very economically, nothing too much and yet everything you need to know, with authentic film material cut into the story.
The film is a feast for the eyes and mind, even though some historical facts aren't exact. In fact: Rasputin's asketism was an odd one: women and wine, yes, sweets and pastries, no - so he never (probably) ate the poison. Anyway, this isn't a documentary. As a story it works like a dream, the actors are unbelievably good - so it really feels unfair to start talking about Rickman and not others. So I'm just saying: they are all wonderful, top of the trade. But the movie is called "Rasputin".
I've recently looked up films of Alan Rickman, partly because some of them are hard to find, but mostly because his way of acting is simply addictive. I think I finally know, why. It's a kind of pornography - of human soul. (Which is an embarrassing discovery, porn really isn't my cup of tea...) His Rasputin isn't just a calculating monk, who sees an opportunity to get a comfortable life, wine and women and power over people, but a man, who lives from moment to moment, uneducated, without manners, sensual, in some ways stupid and in some ways clever. At times you see a strong, manipulative, hypnotic monk who makes you believe in God and Virgin Mary and seems to be able to look into your soul, at times there is child-like sincerity and vulnerability. He believes he has a mission, but it also gives him pain, he sees things but doesn't see, how his conduct affects the falling empire. "I didn't choose to be holy!" he says like a weak human being, who has been trusted with a burden, that is much too heavy. Strong, vulnerable, wise, fallable, loving, selfish... Is this the real Rasputin? Very possibly. Human beings are just as mixed and as capable of being both angelic and devilish as Rickman shows - in this and other movies.
Oh yes, I felt great pity for Rasputin, though I wouldn't want him living in my house. And I'm glad I don't know Rickman in person, he seems to know too well, what we people are like. Who wants her mind to be x-rayed? Even by Rickman (who is, I admit, in his own way, enchanting)?
Watch this movie, if you want to understand history, people or acting. Look at these actors and actresses, they don't act, they are the characters. Rickman is just the best example of how to become someone else than one really is, whether it is Rasputin, Mesmer or other things he's done. Watch this!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 26, 2013 2:11 PM BST


La Valse a Mille Temps Vol. 2
La Valse a Mille Temps Vol. 2
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £12.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To get to know the earlier Brel..., 6 Jan 2004
These are songs that are unjustly usually forgotten from Brel-collections - not because they are worse but possibly because later ones are more familiar. But don't let that keep you from getting this! In fact: if you have a best of-collection, this is one of the must haves in addition to that. Plus of course one of his live recordings, he was a breath-taking live performer. And he prefered to record also with the orchestra, close to a live situation.
The songs here are from the end of the fifties and it's easy to hear it was a creative time for him. The melodies sound like they have come easily, as the best melodies sometimes do. The beginning with 'Printemps' is beautiful, yet traditional French chanson. Brel's voice is clear, strong and young at this stage of his career and there is an overall positive feeling in the record - and yet here they are all: his opinions about life, death, loneliness, cruelty, tenderness. The record also contains a poem, written and read by him (Dites, si c'etait vrai). After a couple of songs the music rises to its wings: 'La lumiere jaillira' grows and lets Brel become dramatic and triumphant, 'Voici' has an interesting arrangement with it's very distant church organs and the short chords hit by the entire orchestra - and of course Brel's inspired singing that modifies the original melody. And then comes 'Litanies pour un retour', a lovely love songs with nothing but terms of endearment, the most popular ones and ones you couldn't even think of unless you happened to be Brel. 'Mon soc, mon roc, mon pierre...' and so on. Was he serious? Maybe...
The highlight of this record is 'Seul'. Rauber's orchestra works like a dream here, growing to enormous heights, with Brel moving from two lovers to millions of people and back again to two lovers fighting death - and always we are alone. There are few songs more powerful than this one. And at least my record had a good sound quality, the first songs sound a bit distant and old but 'Seul' and the songs before it are very nicely recorded.
Brel goes on with 'La mort': "Death waits for me like an old maid to a rendez-vous..." The angry, angular, and not at all an easy rhythm of the song and the bold singing make this something that no one else could have done. And one must remember: this record contains the first recordings of 'La valse a mille temps' and 'Ne me quitte pas'. Plus Brel's song to his daughter Isabelle - very beautiful and flamboyant even. 'La tendresse' is also one of my favourites, though as an arrangement this might be one of Rauber's very few low points. "Why do you think, my lovely, that at the height of their song emperors and troubadours often give up their power and riches? For a little bit of tenderness..." And at the end Brel's opinion about the war: 'Colombe'. So this is a good way to learn more about Brel and as music it's somewhat easier to listen than later works.


Les Flamandes (Vol 3)
Les Flamandes (Vol 3)
Offered by e-katastima
Price: £13.95

5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting collection, 3 Jan 2004
This review is from: Les Flamandes (Vol 3) (Audio CD)
If you've already bought 'Infiniment' or some other best of -collection of Jacques Brel, I recommend this as an addition. Or rather: this is one of the records I'd recommend.
This one contains songs you don't hear that often, such as 'L'aventure' - a positive, playful song with children -, 'Voir' - a very beautiful song with almost angelic choirs -, 'Vivre debout', which Brel sings backed by a Spanish guitar in flamenco style (after all: what style didn't he and Rauber try? and always with beautiful results), 'Les amants de coeur' - a rarity because Brel didn't usually sing other people's songs, this is a compliment to McKuen who had translated his songs - and one of my favourites: 'Les coeurs tendres': "There are those whose hearts are so big, you can enter them without a quiver, whose hearts are so big, you can only see half, there are those whose hearts are so fragile, you can break it with one finger, those whose hearts are too fragile to live like you and I..."
The record covers a surprisingly long period from his early songs 'Il y a' and 'La foire' (and you can hear he was still a bit unease as a singer in those days, quite nasal in fact, which probably has something to do with his original dialect) to 1967. In fact, some of these songs are from movies, like 'L'enfance' from 'Le Far West', Brel's own movie, 'Les coeurs tendres' (Un idiot a Paris), 'Pourquoi faut-il que les hommes s'ennuient?' (Un roi sans divertissement) and 'La Chanson de Van Horst' (Le bar de la Fourche). Dramatic songs like 'Le moribond' and 'L'ivrogne' give a very good example of Brel's talents both as a singer-songwriter and as an actor, these are short monologues with sarcasm, insight about human nature and a lot of panache. 'L'ivrogne' sounds interestingly like Russian drinking songs, so we have the Europe here from Spain to Russia, performed by a Belgian.
So this is very different from all the best of -collections - and a very interesting record, illuminating different aspects of Brel's career. Some of these songs (Marieke, Le prochain amour) were rearranged and rerecorded in the early seventies, but I prefer these versions. Rauber and Jouannest are working with Brel here and that is what made this magic complete. Just listen.


The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby [DVD] [1982]
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby [DVD] [1982]
Dvd ~ Nicholas Gecks

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How can people act like this?!, 29 Dec 2003
The Royal Shakespeare Company's 'Nicholas Nickleby' is one of the things that have had the deepest effect on me. Almost 20 years ago I saw it on TV and finally decided to get this and see if it really was that great. It was. Better even.
Of course, Dickens' book is wonderful, the story and characters are marvellous and Trevor Nunn's adaption is amazing. And the cast then - WOW! As the others said, only Roger Rees has one part, Nicholas Nickleby, and it's easy to see it would be rather impossible to give him other parts, Nicholas being on stage so much. Others have several parts from opera singers to clouds and walls. (Thank you for the leaflet that has the cast and their roles) Rees is a bit old for his part but still creates a very believable, innocent Nicholas. On the other hand: schoolboys are all adults and such is great acting, that you don't want to laugh when they claim to be 7 or 8 years old. Smike is - of course - the most heartbreaking of them, twisted from head to toe, pale and crippled, o-u-t-cast, as he himself says.
The Squeers family stands out, with excellent performances by Alun Armstrong as Mr. Squeers, Lila Kaye as Mrs. Squeers and later as Mrs. Crummles, another kind of 'femme formidable', and Suzanne Bertish, who has to envied and admired for such diverse and delicious parts as Fanny Squeers, Miss Snevellici and Peg Sliderskew, the old hag. They are horrible and wonderful and hilarious! And you don't wonder a bit, why the audience roars, when they get what they so rightly deserve. Alun Armstrong is the first in the closing credits, but he really deserves that place for more than alphabetical reasons.
Uncle Ralph, John Woodvine, is chilling - and it's worth seeing him as an opera singer and just a few moments later as Ralph Nickleby again. And Newman Noggs with his wonderful, droopy face is priceless! I also enjoyed so much the short 'what has happened so far' -scenes at the beginning of acts.
This is theatre at its best, I've never seen anything like this and - I'm afraid - will not see again. My only complaints are technical ones. The picture and sound are good, but why do we have to see the closing credits more than ten times? The acts have been cut into 2-3 parts, so that if you need to stop watching, you don't have to watch the whole act when you can resume watching - but still some of the parts are over 50 minutes long and if you need to stop, you have to fast forward to where you were. And every part ends with those credits. Fortunately you can skip them. Technical flaws aside, this is immortal.


Wiener Dog Art: A Far Side Collection
Wiener Dog Art: A Far Side Collection
by Gary Larson
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dachshund lovers, get this!, 27 Nov 2003
I know we are probably a strange breed as are our dogs, but so seems to be Gary Larson, too. And quite a character, just as dachshunds. Who else would have thought of painting copies of Dali, Picasso and Rubens - but using wiener dogs as models? There are eight versions of wiener dog art reaching from cave paintings to Munch's (?) "Whine" - with Larson's hilarious comments on the value, meaning and originality of the paintings. Otherwise the book contains his usual quirky comics, though the cover itself is already one form of wiener dog art. Good gift for dog lovers and people who like Larson's sense of humour.


Integrale
Integrale
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £388.21

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Above stars!, 26 Nov 2003
This review is from: Integrale (Audio CD)
I got this one from Amazon.fr and I am very, very pleased! Of course it was a bit expensive and of course I had some Brel-CD's already, but here it is: everything he ever sang + almost 30 songs that haven't been published for decades or at all, such as the five songs meant for Brel's next album that never came (those five songs can be found on 'Infiniment' also, if this packabe feels too pricy to get them) and 'Le pendu' that was made for a Belgian (?) TV-show, everything remastered for a better sound and all the CD's resembling the original records.
In fact, don't be fooled by the description here: there are in fact 16 CD's, one comes inside the booklet and there are those inedited ones. I learned new things about Brel after being 14 years a fan, when I heard the earliest recordings for the first time, just young Brel and guitar. One of my favourite songs, 'Sur la place' was known to me only as an early version with Rauber's arrangement and orchestra, but I found out, there was an earlier one, with just the guitar. And it's easy to hear, what a difference it made for Brel to get rid of the guitar and start singing backed by Rauber's orchestra.
There is no point in naming songs. They are all there, almost everything you can think of. Brel did compose a couple of songs for other people, and they are missing. But that really means five songs or less. There's the music for 'L'homme de la Mancha', the live recordings made in 1961 and 1964, the last album with it's blue skies and white clouds.
All the records contain the lyrics and original cover pictures. And the book inside is like a scrap-book: with pictures of Brel, with quotations from his interviews and writings, mostly arranged to fit the songs mentioned chronologically. Some quotes comment on the songs, some just the general idea or theme. They are interesting, though the book seems at first messy. The last pages contain Brel's life story. And everything is in this handsome package, safely tucked inside. In fact, it's surprisingly large. The sound quality was good enough for me. The release of this box is a great thing. Maybe the only thing one might miss is some video footage - now that many new CD's seem to contain videos. After all, there's some footage from his concerts and Brel really was someone, who had to be seen live to truly appreciate him fully.
My day was extremely happy, when I got this. And anyone who loves Brel will appreciate this. There aren't enough stars in this system, so ********************** (and some more...)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2010 7:30 PM GMT


Infiniment: 40 Chansons (remastered - high definition)
Infiniment: 40 Chansons (remastered - high definition)
Price: £19.25

129 of 130 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After 25 years - 'new' material from Brel!, 20 Nov 2003
Ok, this is another collection of Brel's music, on double-CD there are 40 tracks and most of them are very clear choices: 'Ne me quitte pas', 'Jacky', 'Les bonbons' 'Chanson des vieux amants', 'Amsterdam', 'Les bourgeois' and so on. But everything has been remastered for a clearer sound and obviously there is an attempt to cover the whole career, with early songs like 'Le diable' to the last album - and with five songs that were intended "for the next album" as Brel decided - and died before being able to make it. Of these 'L'amour est mort' is the most impressive one, with extremely cold piano sounds and Brel's passionate, coarse voice. The leaflet contains the words for these five songs, others have been published earlier in other collections. Or if you want all the lyrics, try to find 'Tout Brel', everything he wrote in one book.
How necessary is this after all the collections? Very. Not only because of the newly found records but because even the oldest songs sound better than on older CD's. However, I still wonder why 50's songs are so poorly presented in this and other collections, after all 'Seul', 'La mort', 'La tendresse' and 'La colombe' from the end of the 50's are all powerful songs and bring out Brel's themes clearly, and from the earlier years there are lots of interesting songs, like beautiful 'Sur la place'. All of these are missing from this collection, which follows the very mainstream 'best of Brel'-tradition. Still, Brel family has done a good job, when finally releasing the previously unedited songs, so I simply can't give less than five stars and would like to give more.


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