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The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Popular Classics)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Popular Classics)
by Oscar Wilde
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the first "modern" novels, 5 July 2003
This book does have its weaknesses - there is a tedious wad of padding in the middle, the brilliant quips sit uneasily with the more subtle attempts at characterisation and some of the plot devices are too obvious. But there are many things in this work which are surprisingly good. The atmosphere of wealthy late-19th century London is beautifully captured with the sparest of writing. The novel darkens in tandem with the painting and the more gruesome scenes make grim reading even today. The book has tremendous pace (mostly !) and largely avoids the tedium and long-windedness of his contemporaries. At times it feels like a much more recently written book. As expected, Wilde comes up with some of his most hilarious lines, often in macabre contrast to the general goings on. There is plenty to please the deconstruction geeks - the early garden scene mirrors the Garden of Eden and no prizes for guessing whom Satan is ! This is a really good read, as light or heavy as you wish it to be. However, there are some unfortunate instances of anti-semitism in some parts which younger readers should be alerted to.


Jules et Jim [VHS] [1962]
Jules et Jim [VHS] [1962]
VHS

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still crazy after all these years !, 7 April 2003
You have to be wide awake to enjoy this film - no Hollywood spoonfeeding here ! This film still surprises - despite today's flashy camerawork and effects, there is a constant creative and original use of unusual edits and shots which is simply astonishing. The music is beautiful and there are moments of great profundity amongst the fizzing champagne of a screenplay. Truffaut's obsession with shoes here alone says more than most directors achieve in a lifetime. The shot which follows the actors outside from inside the house - it is impossible to convey the many levels of meaning in so many stunning sequences -the depth of intimacy in one love scene shot entirely in the dark - so much in just one film !


The Eccentric's Quotation Book
The Eccentric's Quotation Book
by Simon Petherick
Edition: Hardcover

1.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the only boring quotation book in the world, 17 Feb 2003
I love books of quotations, all those glittering sound bites which entertain and provoke so many different thoughts and feelings. I also have a weakness for books about eccentrics, so this particular work I looked forward to reading. Unfortunately the quotations chosen here I consider dull and lifeless. Some of the eccentrics assembled in these pages I found intrigueing - but in what they did, not - alas - what they said.


Hamlet [VHS] [1997]
Hamlet [VHS] [1997]
VHS
Offered by auczobe Orders Posted with-in 3 days
Price: 5.00

4 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dire luvvie-fest, 8 Feb 2003
This review is from: Hamlet [VHS] [1997] (VHS Tape)
I have seen the full version and this film fails to deliver most of the time. In his films Branagh always plays the same part: himself. If you enjoy that, fine, but Hamlet many consider the most difficult role in the world and cruelly exposes an actor's limitations.
When we first see Hamlet it looks quite promising. Branagh gives us something new: Baby Branagh - it works very well. But by the time we get to the first soliloquy he completely loses it and we return to Boring Branagh. Some of the most beautiful lines ever written rendered like the weather forecast. But worse follows with his eccentric scenes. Branagh completely fails to convince one here. When all seems lost he shouts a lot. People often confuse acting with shouting. Here Branagh shouts as if he has decided to do Henry V yet again - his best part. His only part.
As for Winslett's performance - when she reaches yet another watery end you will probably be as glad as I was. Brian Blessed does well as Hamlet's father - if your sole experience of acting consists of enjoying the school play. Various ageing Americans demonstrate they have never quite got the hang of this Shakespeare lark. The experience feels like watching some particularly generously funded community play. "Oh, didn't Mr Forbes the grocer do well ?"
Tellingly, the film rapidly improves the moment Hamlet goes into exile. We are left in the capable hands of Derek Jacobi, who shows us how to act. About the only other person worthy of mention is Julie Christie. Her presence dominates every scene she appears in.
Branagh goes into Baby mode at the end and again this does really hit the mark - one feels genuinely sorry for Hamlet (instead of for the entire acting profession). What a pity Branagh could not find that form throughout.


A One and A Two (Yi Yi) [VHS]
A One and A Two (Yi Yi) [VHS]
VHS

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for the delayed-gratification audience !, 8 Feb 2003
A film well worth watching but requiring a lot of patience. One feels a great sense of poetry in the film-making here, although not always perfectly rendered. The music seems irritatingly trite at times and one of the plot-lines jars a little. The frequent use of long-shots and perspectives using glass windows underlines the themes of emotional distance and repression very effectively. One can read many things at many levels at these moments. But Yang does not always succeed in keeing a constant stylistic temperature. For instance, the scene where the little boy encounters the beautiful girl in the cinema. Onscreen lightning flashes. All very well done and very effective - but not quite as subtle as the majority of the film and so ultimately a scene out of place. Suddenly I felt I was watching a different movie - one made in the West. Such glitches aside, this remains an extremely insightful film into modern middle-class Taiwan with excellent performances from the entire cast. However there is a reluctance to probe too deeply into the minds and emotions of the characters. One could argue that such is oriental culture and the grammar of the film certainly supports this argument. A bitter irony in that one is often detached from these characters, as they are from each other and themselves, as the whole thrust of the film makes clear - and yet one feels a little dissatisfied in that the film so brilliantly achieves its aims ! Despite this I found it genuinely touching at the end. Let us hope that Yang remains in Taiwan (unlike Ang Lee)and provides us with more thought-provoking films instead of joining the Hollywood sausage machine.


Shanghai Triad [VHS] [1995]
Shanghai Triad [VHS] [1995]
VHS
Offered by pkeylock
Price: 12.99

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 8 Feb 2003
I admire Zhang Yimou's work immensely, but find this film does not quite succeed as well as his other movies. In essence a very dark tale, the director fails to capitalise on the key emotional moments of the film. If he had I think this would have been one of the most heart-breaking films ever made, as one of the main themes concerns the corruption of innocence and betrayal of trust. Instead we have a cold and distant film - not helped by some wayward screenwriting and patchy performances. Gong Li never quite masters her role and one feels the director rarely gets a grip on the film. Seeing the whole thing through the eyes of the young boy provides too much distance and he never becomes more than a cypher. However this is certainly one of the less glamorous films made about gangsters and does sustain one's interest. If you have not seen much Chinese cinema I advise you to watch Zhang Yimou's best films, such as "To Live", rather than this half-baked confection.


Music: A Book of Quotations (Dover Thrift Editions)
Music: A Book of Quotations (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Herb Galewitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bargain !, 31 Dec 2002
There are some colourful and sometimes thought-provoking snippets here. Although brief it is one of the best quotation books I have come across. Paper is the usual poor quality one is used to with Dove but at this price it would be churlish to complain. Unfortunatley there are a very few quotes which are sexist and at least one which could be construed as racist if taken out of context.


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