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Patrick Selitrenny (Switzerland a.k.a. Helvetia Felix)

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Christmas at Downton Abbey (2011) [DVD]
Christmas at Downton Abbey (2011) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Bonneville
Price: £4.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tradition continues... and it's better still..., 11 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is actually an addendum to my previous review of "Downton Abbey" (Season 1 & 2) DVD pack.

Having now finally found the time to watch this, I must say I am as impressed as ever. I had suspected a cheerful "Christmas Carol"-style account, and I was gifted with a thrilling, fascinating and highly involving eighty minutes episode that rounds Season 2 up and leads directly into what I really hope will reveal itself to be a very promising Third Season.

Allow me to apologize for my silly enthusiasm here. Give me pause, but it is indeed so very rare to have good TV these days, and when it comes our way, I simply cannot stop cheering at it. I know it is childish, but as Siskel would express it, I can only give it a big and firm two thumbs up.

Even in "Christmas at Downton Abbey" you get your usual thrills and frills, together with some tense moments distributed here and there.

It has tragedy, cheer, comfort and resolution contained in it and this is indeed a Royal Christmas gift from all who were involved in producing it.

As I had mentioned beforehand, the actors and actresses are all in top condition and glisten like the Christmas ornaments on the beautiful tree they so sumptuously displayed in the opening scenes.

I simply love how the entire story moves and flows like a never ending river only to conclude with a very pleasant surprise. I won't reveal anything here, less I spoil your contentment. Suffice it to say that to those who have still a sentimental or romantic streak it will come as a welcome, dignified and ultimately, inevitable ending.

Can I say more?

Yes I can, at least on the technical part of it. The entire series presented here in DVD format, is crystal clear and the sound is pleasant and clear also.

I can do just one thing. Recommend it to all those who love good story telling and good acting. I thank the entire cast and all those behind them for giving us proof that entertaining movies don't always come with expensive special effects or chases, but that there are still professionals at work who can still do so with good, intelligent and solid scripts.

My final bow goes to all of them. Bravo! Continue with the good work. You have made me a fan of you all. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

55 Days At Peking [1963] (ALL REGION )  [Import] ~ Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, David Niven, and Flora Robson
55 Days At Peking [1963] (ALL REGION ) [Import] ~ Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, David Niven, and Flora Robson
Offered by sodamifeel_DVD
Price: £4.25

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just an answer to a question..., 7 Dec. 2011
Many have asked why "55 Days in Peking" or other movies like "El Cid", "The Fall of the Roman Empire" or again "Circus World" did not receive a proper Hollywood treatment...

The answer is simple. They were all Samuel Bronston's productions, and Mr. Bronston was at odds with the Hollywood establishment of the time.
Hollywood can be a very jealous and unforgiving "lover". If you do not strictly play by their rules, they may hold a grudge on you... for years.
Just look at what happened to Darryl Zanuck, the creator of 20th Century-Fox himself, in the early-mid sixties and you will see that those gentlemen
do not joke around...

If this is still the case is a question for the savvy (I would doubt it after all these years...). Yet it is known that once you're out, you're out.
Hollywood very seldom grants a second chance.

See also the example of some Orson Welles movies which have also been re-released recently, but just by a Korean and Portuguese distribution companies.

In the case of Bronston's pictures, only two ("El Cid" and "The Fall of the Roman Empire") have seen a recent revival through a privately owned distributor in the U.S. called The Miriam Collection (The Weinstein Company), which has restored and remastered them both back to their original glory.

Some years ago they announced other titles of this series to be re-released in this fashion, but alas, thus far none of the others received this treatment.

Let's hope in a better future next way round.

In any case, don't doubt the Korean distributions, nor, for this matter the Brazilian (Portuguese) ones. I already own a few and can guarantee that they stand at par with other products made both in Europe as well as in the United States.

The only difference is that they may not come with tons of extras attached to them, nor a plethora of foreign dubs or subtitles (except of course Korean and/or Portuguese), but what they usually have are both the Original version of the soundtrack coupled with an added Korean or Portuguese one.
If the superimposed Korean or Portuguese subtitles stand in your way, just remove them by activating the appropriate button on your remote.

The two more prominent and recent releases are "The Egyptian" (1954) (The Korean version is Digitally remastered in sound and vision), although 20th Century-Fox has also done their homework and now are releasing the very same movie with an additional separate music soundtrack score, through Twilight Time in a limited 3,000 copy version, and "Genghis Khan" (1965), starring Omar Sharif, which has been released in Germany first, by Columbia Pictures, and immediately afterwards by Sony Pictures in the U.S. (both do not sport any remastering in either sound or sight - they just slammed the widescreen version on a DVD et voila!).
But please be warned.
There is also a Spanish version of Genghis Khan. Stay away form that one, unless you want it in a 4x3 Full Screen video format (meaning that you lose 2/3 of the frame ratio of the original screen width...)

I hope I have been able to clarify some points here and enable you to browse around and find that not always Hollywood does the job it should, but that many others out there are more than happy to help out.
Sometimes even with better results...

Happy viewings.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 28, 2012 1:08 AM GMT

Downton Abbey - Series 1 & 2 Box Set [DVD]
Downton Abbey - Series 1 & 2 Box Set [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Bonneville
Offered by The Heron Bay Trading Co.
Price: £32.99

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! Makes you want for more... Highly addictive..., 27 Nov. 2011
I remember the '70s and another Series which was cut more or less in the same parameters as this one, and that was "Usptairs, Downstairs".

This too was a masterpiece of a social study, of the times at the turn between the 19th and early 20th Century.

The only difference was that it was set in a City based household, while "Downton Abbey" is set in the very elegant English countryside.

Both series display the best of British Theatre and Cinema, in terms of production teams, actors, technicians and general staff.

It is absolutely to be considered high quality movie-making, even though meant for the home screen.

Everyone, but everyone, in this series, knows his business and does portray his own character with honesty and truth.

There is no dull moment, due to a skillful editing of scenes that are almost put together like in an elegant dance sequence.

It is a very intelligent show that explores every facet of Society as it was structured (so far, in season 1 and 2), before, during and right after World War I, and as people behaved and felt back on the Homefront, being so detached, yet totally involved with the destinies of those men sent abroad to fight.

It is no melodrama in the classic sense of the word. It is an honest depiction of what people "downstairs and upstairs" went through during those years.
The conventions, the rigid rules, the traditions, all changing just in a ten year period and being uprooted and twisted by the new winds of war.

There is something for everybody here. You want a thrilling story? Check! You've got it. You want love and romance? Check! You've got it. You want a social drama? Check! You've got it. You want a war drama? Check! You've got it too.

It's a very human story of all characters on board of this static ship that is "Downton Abbey". As firm as the Rock of Gibraltar one might say. And yet, not so static after all... Lots is happening here, and this, day by day.

Just think of the nightmare to have a sudden dinner invitation. The kitchen is in uproar, serving hands are missing, the masters are nervous, and everything seems to be doomed from the beginning, but then, somehow, everything comes together beautifully, like by magic...
Magic? Let's say blood and a lot of sweat...

I started this saying that it was addictive, and indeed it is. After an episode is over you immediately want to jump back in and watch the next to see how it goes on.

I only have Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD and I am already asking for the 3rd Season to appear, just to know what happens next.

I simply can't wait... I hope it pops up soon (including the Christmas Special that I am sure will be a delightful treat).

Pride of the Yankees [DVD] [1942] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Pride of the Yankees [DVD] [1942] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

5.0 out of 5 stars Gary Cooper as Lou Gherig... with style and passion!, 16 Nov. 2011
Ah yes! This is a MOVIE! I am writing movie in all capital letters, because it has to be understood as a great one.

A true classic of its genre, just like "The Babe Ruth Story" or "Jim Thorpe - All American", it is a dramatized but nevertheless honest telling of the life of the poor Lou Gehrig, who affected by the disease that bares his name, had to quit after many years of successful playing.

The worst thing that could happen to a baseball player, especially when one was so dedicated and passionate as Lou.

Those were still the times when players "played ball", not so much for just money, but rather because they had the "magic touch" and had an innate and unconditional love and respect for the game and their team.

It was a much more humane time, in which people still helped each other, instead of going each his own separate way and in which there was only one thing that counted: to play ball.
There was none of that crazy stuff we now know, of players who won't play because they don't get enough money, or because they have a parallel career life waiting for them outside the stadium. No sir. There was a true dream and true passion, going through the veins of all involved. Players as well as audiences.

Those were the days when "take me to the stadium" still meant something. It was not just to spend money in hot dogs and a soda or hang on a cell phone with friends, chatting about everything and saying nothing.

There was a time when people met at the stadium because they simply loved the game and respected the team. The team and the audience were one. One represented the other, and the players played to their audiences while they sustained them in turn.
But it was also a time when the spirit of sports imposed fairness toward a team who might have won over your own team. So much so that there were times in which audiences also saluted the opposing winners if they had deserved it.

Of course, no one wanted to see someone lose, particularly not your own team, but there was nevertheless an unwritten gentleman's agreement that allowed audiences to recognize the value of the opponent.

It was still a relatively innocent time, if not a comfortable one, in which people still knew each other and acknowledged one another. It was a time when people still said "good morning" and "good evening" to each other when you crossed them on the street...

This is the time depicted by this movie. I would have subtitled it: "When we were poorer...".

In any case, this should be in every to movie fan's shelf. Gary Cooper is at his best. If you admired him in "Meet John Doe", if you liked him in "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" or simply watched "The Fountainhead", then this movie will certainly not disappoint you.
It is honest, it is simple, it is moving.

As Siskel and Ebert would have done in the past, I would give this two much deserved thumbs up.

This particular DVD collector's edition is splendid to say the least. It is crammed with tiny special treats added with the movie.
The movie itself has been cleaned up magnificently and the sound, despite being original Mono is as crystal clear as it can possibly be (just watch the farewell speech given by Cooper/Gehrig and you will understand what I mean).

It is a movie that should be cherished by generations to come as an honest product of its times.

Highly recommended...

Scanners Collection [DVD]
Scanners Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Ironside
Offered by Springwood Media
Price: £9.99

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 5 for Scanners 1, 1 for the rest..., 16 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Scanners Collection [DVD] (DVD)
Oh why couldn't they let it rest at number one?

This 3-movie package is useless to say the least. If they only had released the original "Scanners" all by itself in a Collector's Edition, perhaps in a 2-Disc version crammed with gems such as discarded scenes, newly recorded interviews with cast and crew, this special treat would have been truly enjoyable.

But no. In order to get rid of the other two duds, they HAD to slam them with a jewel of the Horror genre, directed by no less than David Cronenberg.

As if Christian Duguay, the misguided director of both sequels, had the talent and the vision of Cronenberg, but no, not an iota. Pure commercial crap and cheaply done as well...

What made anyone think that someone else could actually step into the shoes of actors such as Patrick McGoohan, Michael Ironside and Jennifer O'Neill?

Even conceiving that the sequels state the early demise of the original characters in a freak accident, one would have expected some truly talented and at least somewhat experienced actors and actresses to take over from there, but what one gets are just wannabes and as bad as one can possibly still tolerate.

Not to speak of all the same-o, same-o cliches attached to the original movie, that by the third installation, become almost a joke if not outright funny.

It is amazing that someone came actually to think that this would be a welcome addition.

If I were David Cronenberg I would have sued their pants off.

But let's concentrate of what is good in this. As said, the original "Scanners" uncut and beautifully remastered image, at least for this medium (DVD), and a perfect sound in DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1 (and this for all 3 movies). One gets to finally watch it as it was meant to be experienced. It is even better looking and sounding than when it first appeared on screen, especially when the "pounding" sounds appear, one can feel the tension invading the room. Imagine what it does to you when the climax at the end of the movie reaches its apotheosis...

There are a couple of extras. The first, and most important one, is "The Directors: David Cronenberg", and the other one is "Inside Scan: Scanners".
It also comes with Biographies, Film Notes, Stills and your usual Trailers.

I am waiting for the said Special Edition, or perhaps an Ultimate Edition of this movie, just to give it a full 5 stars.

But because the releasing company wanted to play smart I gave it just 2 stars, and I am doing it out of spite, since it seems to have become a habit with these companies to include trash with masterpieces, such as for instance, in the case of "Species" and "Species II", where they absolutely needed to ruin a perfect duo, by adding two more which are as stupid as can be, ruining therefore the entire franchise.

Unlike the original "Hellraiser" trilogy, or let's say, the "Phantasm" quadrilogy, where the storyline continued at a comprehensible pace and actually added to the value of the original movie, these additions in the above mentioned titles are just there to ruin your appetite for more and actually threaten, just in case one may get hold of part II or part III of "Scanners", or III and IV of "Species" to eliminate the interest in the originals and this, in my humble view, is simply a crime and should be stopped.

But in the end, it is up to you to judge. Your taste may be different than mine, and I am convinced that there might be some who actually like the sequels. I absolutely didn't!

Carl Sagan's Cosmos [DVD] [1980]
Carl Sagan's Cosmos [DVD] [1980]
Dvd ~ Carl Sagan
Price: £11.68

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MASTER EVENT! A MUST SEE TO BELIEVE!, 10 Jun. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Granted, thirty years separate us from this huge success in documentary-making, yet, as the themes explored in it, this "Television at its best" event never ceases to amaze the beholder.

Conceived in the late Seventies and hosted and narrated by the late, and may I humbly say, highly and sadly missed, Carl Sagan (what a visionary, what a genius!), it is an amazing trip through age and space.

It tells not only the mechanics that helped create the universe, the galaxies and our own Planet, but also the correlations with our own history on Earth, with deep insights in sociology, botanic sciences, religions, mystic phenomena, history and yes, even science fiction (but not with giant monsters - just based on abstract science - what we may call, the force of imagination and vision).

Before "Hyperspace" (or as it is known in the UK, "Space", hosted by Sam Neill), this was the very first global adventurous event into our past, present and future in the Universe.

A wonderful original score, together with everlasting evergreens in classic, baroque, and even medieval music give a most natural undertone to the stunning and polished images presented here.

The digital remastering and restoring of these five DVDs, is one of the best I have seen in years. Think, this documentary was completed just before the technique of VHS tapes had become popular.
One might suspect that because of this, a program of this kind may be marred by blurry television images and poor stereo sound.
Think again. What you get is the complete thirteen hours of programming in highly polished image quality, as sharp as today's technology allows. The sound is clear and very sharp. The sleeve describes it as being Stereo, but on my home theater speakers, it came out in Stereo surround, with the dialogue and commentaries well centered in the middle.

This is a documentary for the ages, and for any age. Despite many things, like certain scientific discoveries have evolved ever since (more than understandable), it still remains a pivotal testimonial on what Television could be, if cared for by the right people.
In any case, just for the sake of it, the producers of this set, have not forgotten to omit some scientific updates to the series, included as a separate special segment, which I think is more than welcome and well studied.

Carl Sagan shines through it all, in his prime, leaving us with an aura of wisdom of the ages and a real joy of living, that sends a message out to us all: "keep exploring, be curious, and above all, enjoy the wisdom of knowledge".

This is far more than your everyday documentary, it is a complete lesson across the various fields of expertise, as imposed upon us by Academia, which teaches us to look further, farther and wider around us, because there are billions of bits of information lying around, everywhere, just to be harvested by those capable in recognizing them.

This is also a lesson in living and about being alive on this Planet Earth of ours, learning to live constructively with other cultures and other kindred minds, in order to find our common roots in this vast and expanding Universe.

In the words of Carl Sagan himself: "...we are made out of the stuff stars are made of,... and to the stars we may return..."

I only hope someone will keep these words in mind and make it finally happen!

In my short-sighted view, this is an absolute must buy for anyone seriously interested in science, and not just in science. It is also an indispensable tool for any educational institution on this Planet.
Parents should absolutely watch it, together with their children and make some time to discuss it with them. It is time well spent, and as some may say, this would really be real "quality time" in a family.

Enjoy this masterpiece, and believe me, there is nothing similar out there. If you wish, you may complete it with "The Blue Planet" and as said, "Hyperspace". All three are considered masterpieces...

The Best Man [DVD] [1964]
The Best Man [DVD] [1964]
Dvd ~ Henry Fonda
Price: £5.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NEVER OUTDATED... POLITICIANS AS THEY REALLY ARE..., 18 May 2010
This review is from: The Best Man [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
In my humble view, one of the best pictures ever made about the mechanics of politics behind closed doors.

All the fancy frills of the Elections in the United States fade away, when one watches this movie about two rivals running for office.

It is like watching "Rocky Balboa", but without gloves, no ring and above all, no rules,... or maybe yes?

The basic story of an honest and straight forward politician who wants to run for his own principles against a pitiless, ruthless and highly opportunistic adversary, who spares no tricks of infamy, in order to get where he wants.

It is about how it is, and not how it should or could be.

It is a very disturbing movie, like a very good thriller, only that there are no dead people (at least no corpses), and the harm done outweighs far more
the outreaches of a single bullet.

It is harm done to the Nation, to the People, to all of us.

Those who know this movie, also know what I am talking about. For those who have never watched it, I can only recommend it, in order to understand how politics work, not just in the United States, but everywhere.

It is also interesting to see how ruthlessness can sometimes be of more value than good intents and honesty.

It is not just about politics and politicians, it is about us, the human race.

Indeed, "The Best Man" is a lesson for us all, to get an insight in what and who we really are.

Forget the Election Parties and embark in this tense and intense social study of "Homo Politicus".

With great names like Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson in the starring roles, you really cannot get disappointed...

The Milagro Beanfield War [DVD]
The Milagro Beanfield War [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ruben Blades
Price: £5.40

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Sundance was still in its infancy..., 18 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I just saw this movie once, in New York City when it first appeared on the horizon.
It was virtually unknown at the time, and despite very good reviews by viewers, as well as by critics, it never really received the deserved publicity it should have.

Then came VHS - the tapes, and although already entertaining in itself, there was always something missing. The theatrical experience...

Finally, on DVD, one gets the original uncropped image ratio one had visiting a movie theater and there it is again, the magic, the awe, the mystery.

This movie, although filmed in just 1.85:1 ratio, misses out in any other format. It is strange to say, but the way the cinematography was conceived,
this is a movie that suffers tremendously when viewed in a Full Frame format (4:3 or as it used to be, Pan and Scan).

The director knew very well what he was doing when he framed the picture, and indeed in this one, every frame counts for something.
In other words, there is no waste of space and scenery.

What is it then, this special movie I am talking about? Is it a mystery thriller? Is it a Comedy? Is it a Fantasy flick?
The answer? It is a bit of all of the above.

Its weave is so finely knit that one has some difficulty to outguess the storyline before the end of the picture.

Is it boring then?
Nope. Far from boring, but I won't reveal anything here, since it makes no sense to reveal something that should be watched to be believed.

If you enjoyed "The Usual Suspects", although be warned, this ain't a copy of it, nor an ideal precursor, I am sure you will certainly bare this
tiny jewel.

There are many funny moments, but while watching it, one might be startled by the speed of such moments, switching into dark humor, then reverting
into mystery and back again to reality.

If you like movies with a twist and with a smart story, then this one is for you. Guaranteed...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 19, 2012 1:08 AM BST

In The Shadow Of The Moon [DVD]
In The Shadow Of The Moon [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Sington
Price: £4.06

5.0 out of 5 stars Miles and miles and miles... Man must explore..., 18 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I found this product highly worthy as a celebration to the Apollo Missions to the Moon.

Of course, for those who already have lived it through, some images may seem familiar, but there are some other segments one may only rarely get to view, especially in such clarity and vivid sound.

A major plus are all the new commentaries of all those who participated to the program which offer an interesting insight in what they have felt during those days of high adventure and high risk-taking.

In its own right, this Disc is well worth to be collected to be made a valid addition to one's Space Research DVD collection.

I can only recommend it. The rest is up to you, the customer...

For All Mankind [Masters of Cinema [DVD]
For All Mankind [Masters of Cinema [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jim Lovell

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old Space "Movie" stands the test of time..., 18 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This documentary is, believe it or not, already twenty-one years old. How time flies...
Made sixteen years after the last Apollo mission was flown (I consider the Spacelab Missions as being a further stretch of the Apollo Program, just like the Apollo-Soyuz Mission being originally named "Apollo 18"), this is a complex "collage" of all the Lunar Apollo Missions ever flown (from Apollo 8 to Apollo 17 - I don't think I have spotted any material from Apollo 7, but I may be mistaken).

What is celebrated here, is not A single mission, but the entire development of the program. Therefore, many segments jump from mission to mission, choosing the best ever filmed material, in order to form one single mission.

The whole work is accompanied by the actual soundtrack of comments and communications made during the missions, together with a very well chosen music track by Brian Eno. Never overbearing, this musical compilation appears discreetly throughout this relatively short documentary.

What it does achieve, in the end, is to recreate the feel and the ambiance felt by those who lived these missions at the time they were flown.

This is truly a tiny masterpiece in the documentary genre.

This DVD is never boring. Moreover, it has some very poignant and emotionally charged moments and the images are strikingly vivid and clear.

Originally released by Criterion in the United States, this DVD also includes new interviews with the Film maker and the custodian of the NASA film vaults.

Well worth watching and highly recommended by someone who knows something about the Apollo Missions...

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