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Richard Brzostek (New England, USA)

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1920 Bitwa Warszawska (1920 The Battle of Warsaw) Region 2 PAL (Import with English Subtitles)
1920 Bitwa Warszawska (1920 The Battle of Warsaw) Region 2 PAL (Import with English Subtitles)
Offered by AVALON
Price: £9.98

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jerzy Hoffman brings one of the world's most decisive battles to film, 24 April 2012
Polish director Jerzy Hoffman brings one of the world's most decisive battles to film in 1920 Bitwa Warszawska (The Battle of Warsaw). This 2011 film has special effects galore and happens to be the first Polish movie made in 3D. It evokes feelings of a historic epic and is teeming with the best Polish actors (and even a few Russian actors too).

Poland just resurfaced on the map in 1918 after 123 years of being wiped off the map by her neighbors, but trouble is never too far away. Thankfully, Poland has strong leaders like Jozef Pilsudski (Daniel Olbrychski), Jozef Haller (Jacek Poniedzialek) and Boleslaw Wieniawa-Dlugoszowski (Boguslaw Linda) that are able to defend her from the Soviet invaders that would like to see socialism across all of Europe. There only stands one thing in the way from spreading socialism across the world: Poland.

1920 Bitwa Warszawska tries to balance spoon-feeding us historical details that give the story context with the personal side of the war by showing us how the war affected the lives of a newlywed couple. Jan Krynicki (Borys Szyc) marries her girl Ola Raniewska (Natasza Urbanska) just before he is sent out to war. While the frame of the story is a romance, it doesn't develop this part of the story too greatly as there is so much other things that need to be shown. The film takes on a lot in a short amount of time, so it could have easily been at least an hour longer to develop the details in greater depth, but then some would complain the film is too long.

Jan is seemingly sympathetic to socialistic ideas, which gets him in trouble with his fellow soldiers, but ends up saving his life as well. Jan is cured of his sympathy when he sees firsthand the doubletalk and absurdity that come with socialism, convincing him that he must do everything to stop the Soviets. We see both many forms of Soviet propaganda pushing socialism and Polish patriotism that attempts to stir every emotion among its people to stand up to the coming tide of Russian assault.

Although there are many Poles apathetic to what is happening, as they would rather not mix with politics knowing that things can change too quickly and being on the wrong side means death, many do all they can to help with the ongoing war. While Ola worries for her husband's safety, she decides to help by joining the army and gives her heart and soul into defending Poland.

Blood and guts are not spared in the least, so war is by no means some glorious parade of brave men in uniform, but rather a chaotic hell in which one can loose one's life or limb at any moment. While there are many skirmishes and clashes of forces throughout the film, it really all leads up to the big fight at the end. The battle doesn't look miraculous save for its outcome, as it really is just a slaughter, with both sides having its people massacred.

Czas Honoru (Days of Honor) (Season 4) (Region 2) PAL (Import with English Subtitles)
Czas Honoru (Days of Honor) (Season 4) (Region 2) PAL (Import with English Subtitles)
Offered by AVALON
Price: £24.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time of Honor Season Four (Czas Honoru Sezon Czwarty), 22 April 2012
Season three of Time of Honor ended with bang, with so many of the plots and characters killed, I really wasn't certain if this serial would go another round. Although everything in the first three seasons truly built up to a climax at the conclusion of season three, there still where enough surviving characters for a reprise. For those who have been following this serial, Time of Honor Season Four (Czas Honoru Sezon Czwarty) was a pleasant surprise, but also left some questions of where the story will go next considering the way the prior season concluded.

As with the earlier seasons, the action of the story takes place in Nazi occupied Warsaw, only about two years later in 1944. Our bad boys Wladek Konarski (Jan Wieczorkowski), Janek Markiewicz (Antoni Pawlicki), Bronek Woyciechowski (Maciej Zakoscielny), and Michal Konarski (Jakub Wesolowski) are up to their old tricks in giving the Germans as many problems as their CO allows them. These AK (Armia Krajowa) Polish freedom fighters take many risks in their covert war on the Germans. But this war isn't just for the boys, as the girls also do their share of work in the war too. Lena Sajkowska (Agnieszka Wiedlocha) and Ruda (Karolina Gorczyca) carry out many tasks only a woman could get away with. And finally, there is also the German we love to hate, Obersturmfuhrer Lars Rainer (Piotr Adamczyk), who is cunning, brutal and witty. With at least five storylines going on at the same time, the action and drama doesn't allow us time to rest. The plots overlap and intersect; as some come to an end, others just begin.

Although Czas Honoru does not try to be gratuitously gross, this is ultimately a show about Would War II. Many ugly things happened during the war and as this program doesn't shy from showing them, so this really isn't a show appropriate for children. The drama is only all to chilling as these kinds of things really did happen. The numerous risks the Poles take to free their land will give you goose bumps and raise your blood pressure. The two most notable missions they take on this season is a direct raid on a German base that is testing rockets and intercepting a convoy carrying many cases of small gold bars.

As with any historical film, there will always be those who criticize it saying this is fiction and try to point out any historical inaccuracies. While I do think such an endeavor has a place, it should also not overshadow what the film brings to the table. In this case, Czas Honoru lets us see and experience the strange mix of peaceful daily life with the sudden and terrifying events of living during a war. At nearly any time a roundup or the knock at the door can mean the Germans send one away to a concentration camp or just shoot one down on the spot. I have to give this serial a lot of credit for brining attention to the historical actualities, despite having a fictional plot.

While season three ended with some doubt about the story continuing, season four doesn't end conclusively in the least. The plot is left in such a way that we cannot wait to find out where it goes next. And hopefully, it will continue at least a couple more seasons.

Chung Kuo China - (Mr Bongo Films) (1972) [DVD]
Chung Kuo China - (Mr Bongo Films) (1972) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michelangelo Antonioni
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £12.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Italian film about China with English subtitles, 15 April 2012
Michelangelo Antonioni's 1972 documentary Chung Kuo China brings us on an exotic adventure deep into the country everyone knows of, but truly little about it. Antonioni acknowledges he doesn't have some profound insight into China that he will share with us, but as we go along with him, we feel like we are on a personal tour in this ancient land. We see famous landmarks like the Great Wall of China and Tiananmen Square, getting an appreciation to their significance. We get a tour of cities like Beijing and Shanghai, learning about their past and present. But regardless of where we go on our travels with Antonioni throughout China, we see countless people going about their regular life.

It is actually pretty amazing that so much of this film just shows the regular events one sees in from the street and the many expressions of the people who happen to be there at the time. So this documentary manages to show the mundane in an interesting way. The narration helps us understand what is occurring and the historical importance of what we are viewing. I have to add that there were actually escorts accompanying Antonioni and his crew when they made this movie. The escorts always remain off camera, but told them where they can and cannot film (and some of what they were told not to film they did anyway). If anything, we also get a good taste of communism and the culture that goes with it. China still embraces its past and we get to see a few things that might only occur there and no where else on earth (like acupuncture using huge needles for pain control during birth or groups of people moving their body like they are practicing martial arts out in the public).

I have to admit I like Antonioni's style, so it isn't a surprise for me that I found this film to be so enjoyable. Chung Kuo is a documentary that provides us with a chance to draw our own conclusions about what we see. The film is broken up into three parts providing us a good point to stop in case taking it all in in one sitting is too much. By the end of this nearly four-hour film, although we may not feel like an expert, we will have a much richer appreciation and knowledge of the noble land called China.

Hel (Kinga Debska) (DVD) (Poland) (English Subtitles)
Hel (Kinga Debska) (DVD) (Poland) (English Subtitles)
Dvd ~ Pawel Królikowski
Offered by AVALON
Price: £19.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a remarkable drama that is full of surprises, 12 April 2012
For the last several decades Polish cinema has excelled at the genre of drama. In my opinion, this is due to the fact that special effects are much more expensive to produce, so instead of science fiction we see a lot of great stories about people. Take for instance Kinga Debska's directorial debut Hel (2009), which is a remarkable drama that is full of surprises. Although the title doesn't give away too much, this is story about a man.

Piotr (Pawel Krolikowski) is a psychiatrist that treats inpatients with a whole range of issues. When his son is brought to the hospital briefly, he regains his interest in becoming involved in his son's life. His son Kamil (Leslaw Zurek) lives with his mother and, as we find out, has not had any contact with his father in a number of years. We really don't know much about Piotr, but this is all intentional. This movie allows us to learn about Piotr and all of his surprises. There is a bit of little irony in that the helper has his own family problems that he wasn't very successful with, but that is really just scratching the surface.

Although the conditions his son and ex-wife live in are not terrible, they are shabby compared to where Piotr lives. Piotr lives with his girlfriend Hanka (Anna Geislerova), who is a Czech filmmaker trying to make it in Polish cinema without much luck. Hanka's apartment is ultra modern and opulent in comparison. Seeing all of this, we cannot help but wonder how Piotr got to this point in his life, and we soon find out.

The story really revolves around Piotr. His son and girlfriend have a part and a place in the story, but this movie really is all about Piotr. Piotr is very mysterious and learning about him is suspenseful. His son doesn't know what he has been up to recently and his girlfriend doesn't know nearly anything at all about him, despite it being their two-year anniversary together. Piotr has a secret and I would rather not spoil the plot in giving it away, so I can only say it is not an uncommon issue. I have to state I found parts of the movie annoying and even repulsive, as I am not part of such a "lifestyle" or culture, if you could call it that. But there is meaning to the story and perhaps even a moral to it by the time it ends. The ending makes up for anything we had to endure that made us uncomfortable and redeems itself very well. Hel has some surprises in store for those who watch it. It comes full circle in such a way that we really end up knowing who Piotr is, where is has been and possibly even where he will go.

CHAOS (Szyc, Cielecka, Wilczak, Zulawski) DVD R2
CHAOS (Szyc, Cielecka, Wilczak, Zulawski) DVD R2
Dvd ~ Borys Szyc
Offered by AVALON
Price: £16.98

5.0 out of 5 stars not the type of movie everyone is going to enjoy, 8 Mar. 2012
Chaos (2006) is not the type of movie everyone is going to enjoy. It might even be one of those that you are going to love or hate. The reason why some people may be irritated by this movie is because it is has people that are on the path of self-destruction. They do not have a lot of consideration or respect for others; they think they are so smart, but are nothing more than moron punks and scumbags. Their survival potential is bleak and their lives are spiraling out of control, even if they do not realize it.

The movie is about three brothers and a sister. The brothers include a would-be tough guy thug, a sleazy lawyer and an anarchist. The anarchist and the sister (Maria Strzelecka) have a thing for each other that is more than just sibling affection. Each of them is facing a problem of their own making. A lot depends on how they deal with their issues, as there isn't much lower they can stoop other than being dead. In the beginning of the film there is a lot going on, which makes it a little hard to follow, but that goes along with the theme of chaos.

Even if you do not find any of the characters likeable and think they are all annoying, the story, albeit a modern, is a classical morality tale. There are occasional comments about the world being in chaos, and from the perspective of the siblings it is sure looks like it, but in the end the movie shows otherwise. It shows causes have effects and actions have reactions - those who commit destructive actions bring about destruction on themselves. It may take karma a bit of time to correct things, but the order in the world finds its place eventually.

Chaos is Xawery Zulawski's debut feature film. Xawery is the son of Andrzej Zulawski, who is a brilliant director with a strong a cult following. Although I do not want to make too many compairsons between the two, I have to say that Xawery's film is similar to his father's work in that it has an element of intenseness. All in all, Chaos probably isn't going to be ever too popular with mainstream audiences and may only find its place with a select crowd.

Sons Of Cuba - (Mr Bongo Films) (2009) [2xDVD BOXSET]
Sons Of Cuba - (Mr Bongo Films) (2009) [2xDVD BOXSET]
Dvd ~ Andrew Lang
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £13.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone loves a champion, 8 Mar. 2012
Everyone loves a champion. One doesn't roll out of bed being a champion, but rather it takes hard work, dedication and sacrifice. Sons of Cuba is an amazing documentary about three boys who devote their time training to be world-class boxers. The story is compelling because it is about kids that are working hard for their dreams; we see their disappointments and triumphs as they try to push themselves to greatness.

This movie primarily focuses on three of the boys at the boxing academy in Havana. Keep in mind, these boys are under twelve so their commitment is really pretty incredible. The boys include Christian (whose father was a prize winning boxer so he has a lot to live up to), Santos (who likes to eat and therefore has trouble keeping his weight down) and Junior (who was formerly in a ballet school and is considered too gentle on his opponents in the ring by his coach).

Sons of Cuba also gives us a look at the political inculcation the boys are exposed to during their training. School children saluting the image of Che and the frequent use of the term "comrade" can be a bit eye opening. Although I do not think this movie is a propaganda piece by any means as it shows things as they are and lets us decide what to think. We also get to see their reactions to a couple of emotional events (Fidel Castro handing over power to his brother and the news of three boxers defecting).

The movie does a lot in 90 minutes; we get to know the boys and their families, we see how hard their coach pushes them and get a glimpse of what it is like living in Cuba. Without a doubt, the story is emotional and just about everyone in this movie cries at some point (and it just may make you cry too). After seeing how serious these boys take their sport, there is little wonder why Cuba has a reputation for having the best Olympic boxers in the world.

Although Sons of Cuba was made by the British director Andrew Lang, he captures the essence of Cuba so well that one would never know he was an outsider. Everything in the movie seems like it is just a recording of the way things really are and nothing was staged. The story flows in a way that we truly get the feeling we know these boys and their coach, making us truly want to know how their lives turn out.

Story of a Love Affair - (Mr Bongo Films) (1950) [DVD]
Story of a Love Affair - (Mr Bongo Films) (1950) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michelangelo Antonioni
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More often than not we influence the cards we are dealt in life, 4 Mar. 2012
More often than not we influence the cards we are dealt in life. Worst of all is when we do something that starts a chain of events that cause us misfortune. Story of a Love Affair is a classic Italian film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni that is exactly about this subject.

When a wealthy businessman finds some old photographs of his wife Paola (Lucia Bose), he gets to wonder about her past. They have been married for seven years, since they met in 1943 during the war, but her history was always a mystery. Instead of asking her directly, he hires and investigator to look into what kind of woman she was before they met. He is partially motivated by curiosity, but mostly just jealousy.

And Paola's past certainly is mysterious. The story slowly unravels her past by the details the investigator uncovers by interviewing her former friends. The investigator's inquiries alert Paola's old boyfriend and actually brings him back into her life after all these years. Ironically, Paola's husband brings about trouble for himself with the investigator and helps his wife find the road to infidelity. We cannot help but see how much Paola must have changed in these seven years. She now lives the life of luxury and has no financial obstacles, while those she knew still struggle with daily living.

There are some subtle details that give this movie a deeper meaning weaved throughout the entire story, giving it a sophistication that will make this film appealing to those with fine taste. There is a strange balance of opposites in nearly everything that happens. When Guido reaches for Paola, she withdraws from him; when Paola reaches for Guido, he withdraws from her. Their love for each other always seems to be a beet or two off and they are never in synchrony. Their love for each other may be deep and strong, but it is a tormented one that never finds peace.

There is also a greater irony to the story. Paola can have the life of extravagance, but not a life with happiness. Paola could have a life with love, but not with lavishness. She is faced with these choices and it isn't too difficult to figure out which path she chooses.

While there are crimes of action or omission, is just thinking of a sin a crime as well? As we find out, Paola and Guido commit al three, but are any one of them less traumatic on their psyche? As you will see, Story of a Love Affair isn't a simple tale of adultery.

Rio Breaks - (Mr Bongo Films) (2009) [DVD]
Rio Breaks - (Mr Bongo Films) (2009) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Justin Mitchell
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Rio Breaks gives us a different look on the sport, 26 Feb. 2012
Although I know absolutely nothing about surfing, I can tell you that Justin Mitchell's documentary Rio Breaks gives us a different look on the sport. Taking place on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, we get a peek at what it is like living in Brazil. Rio Breaks shows us what it is like from the perspective of young people, mostly focusing on two young boys (Fabio and Naama) that get interested in surfing.

As this film shows us, there are those that come from the hills and those that come from the concrete, but on the beach they are pretty much all equal. The hills are poorer and drug trafficking is the temptation that young people there must resist. Easy money and a young death isn't completely appealing, so some do see other options. Fabio and Naama see surfing as a way to a better life for themselves and their families.

Although getting into the sport isn't easy, there is a surfing club that mentors the kids. The club provides them with free lessons and even lets them use their boards. The mentors know it isn't easy for these kids and wants to help them out as much as they can. With Fabio being just thirteen and Naama being just twelve, they make mistakes and still have a long way to go in their maturity, causing a lot of their own problems too. As you will see for yourself, that while they are friends, they also fight a lot and could do more to help each other out.

While a few parts are narrated in English, all of those interviewed speak Portuguese (with English subtitles), so I would consider this a Brazilian movie. We are taken into another culture and life for a short while with Rio Breaks. Albeit not everything is pleasant, the message of hope is quite inspiring.

Mocny Czlowiek - Henryk Szaro - Polen 1929 DVD
Mocny Czlowiek - Henryk Szaro - Polen 1929 DVD

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars While most movies are about someone admirable..., 15 Feb. 2012
While most movies are about someone admirable, there are some that are about people who can only muster up contempt from the audience. The main character of Mocny czlowiek (A Strong Man) is Henryk Bielecki, someone you probably will not like at all. If anything, you will probably find him to be quite wicked.

Bielecki (Gregori Chmara) becomes determined to become a famous writer, but the means he employs in achieving his goal are far from ethical. Bielecki discourages his friend Jerzy Gorski (Artur Socha) by telling him his new work is rather poor, driving him into despair. But Bielecki is such a good friend that he even provides Gorski with the morphine so he can overdose too. With Gorski out of the way, Bielecki can now peddle his friend's book as his own. However, it doesn't take long for Bielecki's evil ways to catch up to him.

This movie doesn't glorify immorality, but rather shows what awaits one that follows an avaricious path. Bielecki is a true fiend breaking several commandments of the Decalogue on his road to self-destruction. In a sense, the movie could be viewed as a morality story as it shows nothing but immorality and the destruction it causes.

Henryk Szaro directed Mocny czlowiek in 1929. Mocny czlowiek, which is a silent movie, was made right around the transition period from silent films to those with sound. Unquestionably, silent films are always interesting as they portray so much communication with facial expressions and just the deep look the charter's eyes show. Despite being made so long ago, Mocny czlowiek occasionally makes good use of special effects such as when it shows multiple images overlap each other creating a montage of visual delights.

Although the movie is quite old, the music on this film is very modern (it was made by Super Trio for this DVD release). I am sure not everyone is going to be thrilled by the music, but I love it. It has an industrial sound that attempts to mix a bit of old style sound with something very new. We are very fortunate to have this movie in existence today considering no copies of it in Poland survived the war. Don't delay in getting your copy of this early example of Polish cinema.

Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality Through Education
Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality Through Education
by B.K. Eakman
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An Accurate Description of Public Education, 25 Jan. 2012
"Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality through Education" is one of the best books I have ever read. The book discusses, in detail, the dark side of public education and the role of psychiatry and psychology have had in perverting education.

Having worked for about 3 years as a substitute teacher, in two very different school systems, I witnessed firsthand some of what the book discusses. To an extent, I can also confirm the claims the book makes concerning psychology, as I have an advanced degree in the subject (MA, general psychology).

This is definitely a book every parent, teacher, and anyone involved with public education should read.

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