Profile for F. S. L'hoir > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by F. S. L'hoir
Top Reviewer Ranking: 426
Helpful Votes: 2969

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
AmazonBasics Hard Black Carrying Case for My Passport Essential
AmazonBasics Hard Black Carrying Case for My Passport Essential
Price: 4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Handy Little Protective Case!, 16 Jun 2014
This attractive little hard canvas protective case has a zipper. It opens into two attached halves: on the left is a net compartment to hold the USB cord; on the right is a thick elastic band to hold the My Passport Essential for Mac, which fits perfectly into it like an old-fashioned cigarette case (like the one my father carried!). Zip it up and tuck it into a drawer until your Laptop nags you to take your 'Passport' out and, yet again, update your Time Machine!

An excellent product!


Criterion Collection: Juliet of Spirits [DVD] [1966] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Criterion Collection: Juliet of Spirits [DVD] [1966] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Giulietta Masina
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: 14.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Five-Star Enchantment (but there are some cuts)!, 16 Jun 2014
I sat down to watch this film wondering if it was as good as I recall it being (I saw it about 10 times in the theatre), or if my memories would be based on little more than nostalgia. Well, from the moment I heard the crickets chirping as the camera focused on the jewel box of a white house in its forest of umbrella pines, I was mesmerised from beginning to end. I was particularly thrilled with the sharpness of the transfer; the phantasmagoric images blazed in jewel tones as I played this DVD on the fancy-shmancy Blu-Ray player that my son had given me for Christmas.

Giulietta Massina's performance is both restrained and effortless. With a mere glance of her eyes, she conveys a wealth of inner emotions, disappointment, embarrassment, distress, anger, wonder. We are experiencing--from her character's point of view--the sense of rejection she has suffered both as a lonely child, and as an even lonelier wife, as she copes with the glib evasions of her handsome philandering husband. The overblown couture of her ice-cold mother and superficial sisters as well as the outrageously sexualised fashions of her glamorous neighbour are projections of what she perceives as her own modest insignificance, although, at the same time, her own dressing in vivid reds and greens indicate that she feels that the eyes of others are always upon her.

As much as I enjoyed watching the film after so many years, I did notice that some of my favourite bits were missing. Some of these are minor, as when Giulietta, driving home from the psychic reading of the androgynous Bishma, becomes hypnotised by the broken lines on the road which seem to be moving while the car seems to be standing still (Her friends have fallen into a deep sleep.). Others, however, were really disappointing, as when the child Giulietta recalls playing the part of a Saint in the nun's school play and being hoisted up on her fiery grill towards the window of God. The unforgettable visions of the weeping statues, who were dripping with melted candle wax tears, had--inexplicably--been cut in this version.

Some of my favourite images: Giulietta and her maids stringing red and green peppers for the winter (I took up the practice after seeing the film the first time); the Roman umbrella pines (I think some scenes were shot in the Pineta--the pine grove--of the Villa Doria Pamphili); the rose trees covered in plastic sheets after her marriage disintegrates, and of course, the weeping wax-covered statues, which are, except for one peep, no longer there. (I suppose I'm now going to have to find whether there's an uncut version.).

Despite the flaws, I'm giving the film five stars, as it still held me spellbound from beginning to end.


Blue Jasmine [Blu-ray] [2014] [Region Free]
Blue Jasmine [Blu-ray] [2014] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Cate Blanchett
Price: 14.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Kindness from Strangers, 16 Feb 2014
Cate Blanchett gives a devastating performance as Jasmine in Woody Allen's latest production. Her nuanced portrayal of a woman whose life is in the process of disintegration is so convincing that we experience her inner turmoil sometimes merely through a glance, a glint in her eye, as in the disturbing scene in which she is presenting a self-serving justification of her life to her nephews, frightening them in the process.

The story, told in flashbacks that reflect Jasmine's fragmentation of her life, moves between a rather seedy San Francisco and an elegant New York. A story for our troubled economic times, it pays homage to Tennessee Williams' "Streetcar Named Desire", in that Allen presents a similar dynamic between two sisters, one, well brought up, who has ostensibly married 'well', and the other, of low self-esteem, who has made a series of marital or near-marital blunders. Like Williams' Blanche du Bois, Jasmine, who is paying an extended visit to her sister, considers the latter's boyfriend uncouth. Like Blanche, Jasmine, who seems to have developed a borderline personality, has erased all the sordid events of the past from her memory banks, although like a victim of post-traumatic stress, they have a way of intruding onto her consciousness when she least expects them. Like Blanche, she tries to start over with a plausibly respectable man; and like Blanche, her past impinges suddenly onto the present, shattering her hopes which have been built on a foundation of fantasy.

See this film for Cate Blanchette's remarkable portrayal of a flawed woman who both fascinates and horrifies us, since, in these turbulent economic times, she could very will be someone we know, if not some version of ourselves.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2014 2:13 PM BST


WD My Passport 1TB USB 3.0 High Capacity Portable Hard Drive for Mac - Silver
WD My Passport 1TB USB 3.0 High Capacity Portable Hard Drive for Mac - Silver
Price: 55.04

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it, Love it, Love it!!!, 21 Jan 2014
When I arrived home, the other day, a box from Amazon was waiting on my doorstep (I was surprised because I had ordered the hard drive only two days previously). I took it inside. The box was so light that I thought that the carrying case must have arrived, and that the external hard drive was yet to come. Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and found both the WD My Passport and the carrying case.

The hard drive looks like a 1930's silver cigarette case--you know, the kind you see in the old noir films--Sam Spade offering the blonde vamp a cigarette, just before she pulls a gun on him--and it fits perfectly into the sturdy little black Amazon Basics Hard Carrying Case for My Passport [This zipper case has an elastic band for the hard drive and an ample net pocket for the USB 3 cord].

The most difficult problem I had was prying open the box [I had to take a knife and carve the lid off!]. Because I didn't want to make any mistakes in setup [the instruction book is minimalist], I telephoned my Apple Care people [The service goes with my Macbook Pro, so I might as well use it], and they helped me coincide the hard drive with Time Machine, the functions of which they explained to me (I hadn't used Time Machine previously--I had a WD External Hard drive onto which one had to drag files. With the Passport and Time Machine, it all happens automatically). The 1-foot USB cord doesn't bother me, since I work with the laptop on my lap, and I can tuck the Passport next to me.

I purchased the 1 Tb version because I do a lot of photoshop as well as downloading all the episodes of "Downton Abbey" in HD from I-Tunes. I needed some place to remove and store my ancient history keynote lectures and photos, which were taking up a lot of room on my hard drive (I had got to the point where I was getting warnings that my Startup disk was full. One must know one's priorities! ;-)

The handsome *WD My Passport for Mac 1 Tb Portable Hard Drive Storage* is just the 'apple' that the Apple doctor ordered!


Those in Power [DVD] [2006] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Those in Power [DVD] [2006] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Kathrine Windfeld
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: 16.03

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Political Thriller!!!, 10 Dec 2013
If you like political thrillers, "Those In Power" will grab you from beginning to end.

The plot focuses on Charlotte Ekkeberg--played to perfection by Alexandra Rapaport--an idealistic young married woman with children who stands for the Swedish Parliament and, in the first third of the trilogy, is more or less exploited by certain Ministers in her Party because she is an exciting new face, although she is taken under the political wing of the one woman, Elizabeth Mayer, who has maintained her position of power in a male-dominated party. Charlotte's new exciting political life eventually takes a toll on her marriage, and the two-part episode otherwise focuses on party shenanigans of the Ministers of State, who plot to overthrow their party leader, whom they believe to be past it, even though he is still popular with the people.

The second part of the trilogy shifts to the ghastly Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has aspirations of leading the Party, but (secretly) treats his wife, played by the excellent Marie Richardson, like dirt under his feet, and then goes after a brilliant young Muslim university student whom he inveigles into becoming his political adviser. Some of the scenes in this part of the trilogy are difficult to watch, but the political revenge taken on him at the end by both women is worth waiting for.

In the last part of the trilogy, Elizabeth has become leader of the party, which takes a majority at the elections, and so she becomes Prime Minister. Ably aided by Charlotte, Elizabeth must confront two problems that threaten both her political career and her life. The suspense in the last part of the trilogy will keep you on the edge of your seat as the story builds to its shattering climax.

As much as I enjoy "Borgen," I think that I prefer "Those In Power", as it is more compact. The characters are fascinating, as is the dynamic of political power and the motivations of those who seek it.


House of Cards - Season 1 (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [2013] [Region Free]
House of Cards - Season 1 (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [2013] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Kevin Spacey
Price: 13.40

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marked Cards, 6 Dec 2013
When I first heard that they were remaking Michael Dobbs' "House of Cards", my first reaction was "Why?" Because the British original with Ian Richardson as the plausibly charming but malevolent chief whip of the Tory government in the House of Commons was so pitch perfect. Nevertheless, I decided to order it along with the BluRay of the original British series, "House of Cards" (which, since it has been remastered, is *splendid*).

Although Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright turn in outstanding performances in their roles as the formidable Chief Whip and his even more formidable wife, who share an almost mesmeric relationship in their marriage, and the series kept me absorbed from episode to episode, I had to divorce myself from the British original and consider the series on its own terms in order to enjoy it. You will enjoy it, too, if you do not compare it to the original.

That being said, the story has become transmogrified beyond recognition in its journey across the Atlantic. The pace has become far more leisurely than the original that had me glued to my seat for every episode. Unlike Francis Urquhart, whose evident charm and polished manners drew me into his spell--his initially confidential asides put me in the position of a willing co-conspirator, enjoying the intrigue, until I gradually realised that I had been trapped, unable to evade his eyes, which had taken on the aspect of a cobra's--Francis Underwood [Urquhart's American counterpart] is unmitigatedly nasty from the get-go. In fact, I found him and all of the Washington characters charmless. The series has also lost its sense of humour, and what was subtly suggested has become rather coarsely stated.

I do think that the scenario works better in the Westminster parliamentary context, since the seductive dynamic of power was turned on its head in the American Production by making Francis Underwood visit his little reporter in her tacky downmarket apartment. Francis Urquhart wouldn't have been caught dead visiting Mattie Storin's eminently respectable mews flat. The thrill came from Mattie's clandestine visits to Francis's elegant townhouse. Power is far more seductive in a Savile Row suit and silk tie than it is in Francis Underwood's shirtsleeve-slumming in an area of Washington DC that Francis Urquhart would have termed a neighbourhood of 'knocking shops'.

I found the discs difficult to extract from their sleeves, but luckily I do not seem to have scratched them, and the images in the Blu-Ray are sharp.

Again, if you watch this as a well-acted and interesting American political drama on its own terms, you will not have wasted your time. But you might find yourself turning back to the splendid remastered Blu-Ray of the original. 3.5 stars.


The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Murder that Changed the World
The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Murder that Changed the World
by Greg King
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.60

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Spark that Ignited the Conflagration, 30 Sep 2013
All wars are stupid--to begin with a generalisation--but the so-called War to End All Wars takes the cake in the stupidity sweepstakes, since what began as a family squabble among the crowned heads of Europe and Britain, ended in annihilating or maiming an entire generation of young men. I was particularly interested in the authors' account of the serial assassinations that preceded the event of the title, something that I had not previously connected to the war itself.

Greg King and Sue Woodman have written an absorbing account of the events leading up to the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his morganatic wife, Sofie. Since my topic is ancient history, and my exposure to World War I consists of one very interesting undergraduate class many moons ago, I am not -au courant- with the scholarship on the topic, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of authors' detail, but the book is well footnoted and has an extensive bibliography. It also contains an extensive "cast of characters" and a complex family tree.

What is lacking, however (in its present form), are photographs (which abound on the era)--something to do with the economy, one supposes. These would have made the book more accessible to the reader who is not an expert on WWI, especially given the extensive catalogue of personages essential to the narrative. The book also lacks an index, which is indispensable in an historical study.

Despite these drawbacks, I found the book to be extremely readable and intensely interesting.

Reviewed for Vine; Amazon.com
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2013 8:45 AM GMT


The Back Road
The Back Road
by Rachel Abbott
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Meandering Road, 19 Aug 2013
This review is from: The Back Road (Paperback)
If you like fast moving thrillers with a touch of romantic suspense, this book is not for you. It begins unpleasantly and then, between creepily repetitious interludes, wanders here and there, introducing too many characters, who have too many conversations (about nothing in particular) that do nothing to further the plot (e.g., "I'm not one hundred per cent sworn off of men.").

At 471 pages, this book could use an editor with a sharpened [virtual] blue pencil. When Chapter Five is entitled "Day Two: Saturday" and Chapter Thirty-Four is entitled "Day Six: Wednesday" you know you're in for a long haul along the back road to a coherent novel.

And you still have nineteen chapters to go.

Reviewed for Vine; Amazon.com


Asunder
Asunder
by Chloe Aridjis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Eggshell of a Promise, 29 July 2013
This review is from: Asunder (Hardcover)
Chloe Aridjis is a Scheherazade!

After a leisurely beginning, her polished prose kept me reading. Every time I was tempted to put the book down, and at times I was sorely tempted, a beguiling phrase containing the thin uneasy promise of a presumably sombre outcome would catch my eye, and I would find myself reading another twenty pages, and then I'd go through the entire process again.

The slow-moving and yet mesmeric pace of the novel stems from the occupational voyeurism of the central characters, who are museum guards--one at London's National Gallery and the other at Tate Britain--those unobtrusive uniformed figures who lurk on the periphery as the public gravitates to the centre, peering at the masterpieces (My own encounter with one of these 'phantoms' occurred at the Accademia in Venice, when I leaned in a fraction-of-an-inch too close to scrutinise Giorgione's brush strokes in -Col Tempo-, the portrait of the ravages of time on a once-beautiful woman).

The isolation of the onlooker when confronted by the evanescent degeneration of the past is fundamental to Chloe Aridjis' narrative. I am, however, uncertain how I feel about her protagonist, Marie, with her passion for populating eggshell miniatures with trapped moths; and I am equally uncertain what to make of Marie's friend, Daniel, whose own poetic passion is inextricably bound to things that have been damaged beyond repair. I feel especially ambivalent about the introduction of the Swedish poet, Pierre, whose purpose seems ambiguous, if not contrived to further the narrative.

I found the constant flashbacks a source of frustration, as interesting as Suffragette Mary Richardson's slashing of the Velasquez painting of Venus peering into Cupid's mirror is (especially since 2013 is the 100th anniversary of women's desperate efforts--violence met with violence--to secure the right to vote); I found the author's digression on craquelure--the forming of cracks in an oil painting as it ages--fascinating. They are nevertheless digressions, designed to delay the promised dénouement, which, when it occurred, left me rather unsatisfied.

The author proliferates her narrative with tantalising passages that ring true, as when the narrator alludes to "the sort of promise one sincerely means while doubting it will be fulfilled." And the overall impression that "Asunder" left on me is of a novel in which a sincere promise was nevertheless, regretfully, left unfulfilled.

Reviewed for Vine; Amazon.com


The Reader's Companion to American History
The Reader's Companion to American History
by Eric Foner
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reader Beware. This is a GIGANTIC Book!, 27 July 2013
When the great 4th-century BC scholar of the library at Alexandria, Callimachus, wrote "Mega Biblion, Mega Kakon" (loosely translated, a big book is a pain in the neck!), he was praising brevity in poetry, not size. So when "The Reader's Companion to American History" arrived on my doorstep, I was totally unprepared for the sheer volume of the volume. a) My friend who recommended it to me as useful for teaching a class in US History, neglected to inform me of its considerable heft; b) nor did I bother looking at the specifications so conveniently provided by Amazon (I can't believe that it weighs only 5.7 pounds--It feels like 20!); c) The comfy word "companion" is so misleading (Elephant in the room might be more appropriate!).

As to it's content, I found its historical entries *extremely useful* and the articles *excellent* (e.g. personages, John Adams, Clarence Darrow; British Parliamentary Acts against the colonies: Stamp Act, Townshend, Act; Supreme Court decisions, Marbury vs Madison, Roe vs Wade), but I question its inclusion of singers, such as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra; or even authors, such as Saul Bellow; or artists, such as choreographer George Balanchine, and composer, Irving Berlin. And do we really need entries on Football and Basketball? To me, the book is trying to be too many things to too many people, especially now that we can get so much information online (My laptop weighs less than the book!).

For readers whose homes come equipped with large libraries, "The Reader's Companion" is just the thing. If you live in a small apartment where space is limited (or if you have a dicky back), you might want to consult the vast resources out in cyberspace!

They weigh far less!


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20