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Georgios Xenias (Greece)

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Finding Me [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Finding Me [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Artist Not Provided

3.0 out of 5 stars Watch it for the subject matter, 14 May 2010
I read reviews presenting this as a film about "black gays". Well, I am not a member of the black community -and, at my age, I can hardly say I'm a member of the gay community anymore,- but I could easily identify with the issues addressed here. Low self-esteem caused primarily by a parent's rejection, the need to feel accepted by your community, the fear of opening up to somebody else, -these are things that myself and several people I know spent a great deal of money to work out in therapy. They are issues that may be more obvious in the gay community, but are by no means an exclusive "gay right". So, I do believe that the subject of the film would interest a great deal of people, if they'd be willing to put aside their prejudices and see what it has to say to them.
I found the way that these issues are addressed, remarkable. There is no beating-around-the-bush, no effort to "hint" at the situation, or to build the scenes up to the "revelation" of the problems. Everything is stated with absolute clarity and, though this may not sound too-realistic, it does seem real when you watch the movie.
The problem with the script is that it often becomes repetitious. There are several scenes that resemble one another and conversations that deal with the same topic, without really taking the idea any further. Also, some of the scenes of the supporting characters are superfluous and I found my mind wandering as I watched them.
Unfortunately, the director has not been able to polish these rough edges, allowing the tension to drop more often than it should.
The editing is "arty" (I mean, pretentious,) but not "artful" (meaning, accomplished.) We do not even get continuity of movement at all times.
The actors are ok, in that they convey the ideas in the script, though none of them would get an award from me. At best, what they do is what is usually called "TV acting". They try to seem comfortable and deliver their lines in a "natural" manner, underplaying the emotion. At worst, they exaggerate. The only scene that comes off really well is the second love scene between the two guys, with the half-hearted effort to talk between kisses.
In short: no, this is not a masterpiece. But it does address some poignant issues and I think that, if you watch it, you will not think your time wasted.

Bellini: Norma
Bellini: Norma
Offered by momox co uk
Price: £20.36

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A favor to whom?, 21 July 2009
This review is from: Bellini: Norma (Audio CD)
This is Callas's second studio recording of her greatest role and EMI admitedly did their best to ensure that this would be as close to an ideal recording of Norma as one could hope to get.
Polione was sang by Franco Corelli, who offers one of the most spectacular recorded accounts of the part. Adalgisa was the young Christa Ludwig, a superb artist, who, although not an Italian singer, gives us a beautifully sung and sensitively drawn portrayal of the young priestess. Oroveso was sung by Zaccaria, an expert bel-canto singer and a commanding actor. The orchestra of La Scala is, of course, ideal for the music of Bellini and Tullio Serafin's conducting sets the standard for the interpretation of this reprertory.
The problem was Callas's voice, which by that time had declined A LOT. The high notes are not steely, they are forced and shrill, a lot of the coloratura is ill-suported, etc. True, she was a phenomenal artist, a unique interpreter and, I believe, the greatest Norma of the 20th century. Given all that, we understand that ANY time she sang the part -even 2 days before she died,- there would be moments of greatness. My question is, are we doing a favor to her when we recommend a flawed recording, since there does exist a studio recording, -also available on EMI,- made at her prime? Are we doing a favor to the people who want to learn what she was all about, when we praise this and other recordings that do not represent her at her best?
Yes, I do listen to this recording and I do find many beautiful moments in it. But, if you have not heard Callas, first listen to her stunning (vocally and interpetively) 1954 Norma and then, if you want to see how her interpretation progressed over the years, you can listen to this one. You will find many things to admire in it, but be fair to Callas and first listen to her at her best.

All the Rage [DVD] [1997] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
All the Rage [DVD] [1997] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ John-Michael Lander
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £11.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For the love of muscles, 11 Mar 2009
The cover of the dvd states that this film is a satire. Though its intention is obviously to criticize a certain lifestyle, I must confess that I did not find it funny in the least, perhaps because the issues it addresses are too real to be dealt with as laughing material. The only thing that made me smile was the satirical song "Military Man", during the closing credits.
The story is simple and most of the characters are stereotypes (intentionally, it seemed to me.)
A "glamorous" gay guy -that means, well groomed, handsome and professionally successful- spends his afternoons training at the gym and his nights chasing one-night-stands with well-trained bodies, -which he has no intention of allowing to develop into anything more than one-night-stands. Then, he meets an "average" guy (cute, a bit chubby, not particularly successful) and, much to his surprise, becomes infatuated with him. The question is, will he be able to get over his obsession with perfect abs and settle down with a lover who does not match his ideal?
I understand that the obsession with "good looks" has always been a dominant factor in the gay community -well, let's be honest: in every community. And why not? It seems perfectly natural to me that anybody -gay or straight- will look for a pleasing appearance in his or her companion. The issue is what is defined as "pleasing". A well-made, healthy body is aesthetically pleasing and gives the impression of strength and vigor, but reveals little about the character of its "owner". On the other hand, a well-trained body only reveals how many hours that person has spent in a gym. A face tells us more about the soul behind it, but if our intention is to spend but a few hours having sex with someone, then the soul is superfluous -even bothersome. Since these are the hero's intention, it is understandable that he focuses exclusively on toned muscles.
The dialogue is well-written, subtle and to the point. Unfortunately, most of the acting was slightly above the standard of an amateur production. This may have been intentional, since the film was intended as a satire, but it is not a choice I would have made if I were filming it. Still, mostly due to the subject matter, I found the film quite effective and touching, at times even scary, because of the grim picture it presented. It may not be a masterpiece, but it is definitely worth watching.

Amnesia: The James Brighton Enigma [DVD] [PAL]
Amnesia: The James Brighton Enigma [DVD] [PAL]
Dvd ~ Dusan Dukic
Offered by Gayfilmlover
Price: £4.39

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent study, 7 Dec 2008
It is a pity that the previous reviewer was not able to see this film with the subtitles. I had some problem with them too, so the first time I watched it without subtitles and, though I was able to follow the plot, I had the feeling that I had missed a lot -which indeed I had. So I tried it again and the subtitles were there and the movie, which had seemed interesting the first time, came out as an excellent study of a troubled individual, at the same time making some very keen comments about homosexuality and the seeking of identity.
The story was inspired by true events. A young man was found naked and beaten-up in the streets of Montreal, Canada. He could not remember who he was, but after a while he remembered he was gay and a little later a name came to his mind, which he assumed was his own. (It is interesting that his sexual identity came back before his actual one.)
In the film, the story is presented through the research of a student who decides to make her thesis about it. (She is the main French-speaking party and she provides all the poignant commentary on the social situation surrounding the hero.)
The script is excellent, unfolding the facts of James's life in a detective-story fashion, while at the same time addressing social and psychological issues.
Though this is a rather low budget film, the cinematography is quite good and we never get a sense that any of the choices were made because of financial limitations.
The acting is first-rate.

La Sylphide (Lacotte) [DVD] [2004]
La Sylphide (Lacotte) [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Paris National Opera Ballet

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The magical birth of Romantic Ballet, 25 Mar 2008
La Sylphide was created in 1832 by choreographer Filippo Taglioni, in order to be performed by his daughter, the celebrated Maria Taglioni, who was the first Ballerina to ever dance en pointe. It was the first Romantic Ballet and, being a "smashing hit", it had a tremendous influence in the evolution of this art form.
(Note: there is also another "Sylphide" available on DVD with the Dannish Ballet. It has the same plot, but different music and choreography by Bournonville. That is also a very interesting work, created shortly after this one, as a response to the demand of the Dannish audience to see the ballet, which Taglioni did not permit to be performed without his daughter.)
Back to the original, now. The score is beautiful, full of haunting melodies that create just the right atmosphere for this ultra-romantic tale.
Lacotte has re-created Taglioni's choreography. I can not judge how exact the re-creation is, however I did see all the famous images, which hundreds of paintings from Taglioni's time have preserved for us. Quite appropriately, the emphasis was placed on grace and elegance, rather than on athletic feats -though there are quite a few moments of spectacular dancing as well.
Sets and costumes, again, recreate those of the original production and the Paris Opera obviously spared no expense, making this as glamorous as possible. The set for Act 2 was particularly evocative and the special effects, with the Sylphides floating in mid-air, were perfectly executed.
Aurelie Dupont undertook the difficult task of impersonating BOTH the Sylphide AND Maria Taglioni. Even when she takes curtain-calls, she is "in character", holding her hands folded and posing the way Taglioni reportedly did. Her dancing is wonderfully fluid and graceful. Her form is sublime and she has the ethereal quality which is essential to convincingly portray this woman-spirit.
The very young Mathieu Ganio is adorable as James, the young man who is -understandably,- enchanted by her.
Melanie Hurel as Effie, his fancee, is excellent as the Sylphide's opposite. She is earthy and vivacious. The Pas de Trois in the first Act, where James dances with the two women, is one of the most beautiful and atmospheric scenes I have ever seen in a ballet.
The corps de ballet is, of course, superb and all the dancers in the smaller parts are quite good.
In short, whether you are interested in finding out more about the history of Ballet, or you just want to see a wonderful work splendidly performed, this DVD is not to be missed.

Prokofiev: Ivan The Terrible [DVD] [2005]
Prokofiev: Ivan The Terrible [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Natalia Bessmertnova
Price: £13.89

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Winner!, 15 Jun 2007
Eisenstein's "Ivan the terrible" -considered one of the greatest films of all time,- is a grand epic, narrating Ivan's rise to power and bloody reign, and, at the same time, a study of a dictator's psychology and his gradual descent to madness. Despite a superb musical score by Prokofiev and a spectacular dance sequence near the end, this could hardly be considered ballet material.
Although he uses Prokofiev's score, Grigorovich, who created the ballet version, wisely tries to avoid comparison by always keeping a safe distance from his source. Unfortunately, Fyodor's dance is sacrificed in the process, -the only disappointing bit in an otherwise fascinating work. Instead of the chief-henchman dressed as a fairy-tale princess, here we get Ivan himself dressed as an old man, butchering the Boyars, while his guards dance around him.
The plot has, of course, been simplified. The story centers on Ivan's love for his first wife, Anastasia. The choreography is typical Grigorovich: an extremely demanding, classical concept, incorporating modern dance elements. The result is a striking, very expressive, dramatic ballet.
It is hard to imagine any dancer, other than Mukhamedov, in the part of Ivan. His dancing abilities verge on the superhuman and his acting manages to portray Ivan's mental decline with frightening effect.
Bessmertnova, dancing Anastasia, was in her early forties when this was filmed. If it weren't for a couple of unwise, -but I guess, unavoidable,- close-ups, nobody would notice it. Her form and movement are wonderfully elegant and expressive.
Gedminas Taranda is Kurbsky, Ivan's friend and rival for Anastasia's affections. Had he been dancing next to anyone other than Mukhamedov, he would have certainly stolen the show. Even here, though, he manages to hold his own against his co-star's tempestuous performance.
All in all, a superb performance of a very interesting ballet.

The Kirov Celebrates Nijinsky [DVD] [2004]
The Kirov Celebrates Nijinsky [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ The Kirov Ballet
Price: £24.99

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Technically excellent, but sometimes uninspired, 4 Jun 2007
This is a revival of 4 short ballets originally created for the Ballet Russes and their superstar, Nijinsky, in the begnning of the 20th century. I was familiar with the three, which have indeed been faithfully reconstructed. I had never seen the Polovtsian dances before, so let's start with that. This is actually a fragment from Borodin's opera "Prince Igor" and even if you have not heard the music before, it will sound familiar since the main themes have been used in the musical "Kismet" and at least one of them has become an international hit (Stranger in Paradise). There is no plot here, just a group of Polovtsians (some Tatar tribe, I guess,) dancing during a celebration. The choreography uses, quite appropriately, folk elements. The corps-de-ballet is impressive and the leading dancer, Islom Baimuradov, is spectacular. In fact, since I have the other three balets in what I consider better presentations, this is the part I am most likely to watch again in the future.

Sheherazade is a tale of passion. Svetlana Zakharova in the title role, is technically stunning, but she lacks the sensuality and intensity other dancers have brought to the part. (Most memorably, Ilze Liepa in the "Return of the Firebird".) Farukh Ruzimatov as the Golden Slave is an excellent dancer, but, again, there seems to be little chemistry (or, in this case, sexual tension,) between him and his "mistress". The corps-de-ballet is, as one would expect, great.

The "Spectre de la Rose" is a rarely presented work. The plot is inspired by a poem by Theophile Gautier. A girl returns from a party and goes to sleep, leaving her corsage on her nightstand. The rose she was wearing, withers slowly, happy that its short life was spent on her bosom. A sense of dreaminess is essential to justify the tale, and Zhanna Ayupova, as the girl, manages to capture it. Igor Kolb as the Rose (or the Ghost of the rose,) looks too muscular and earth-bound (Nijinsky was famous for his androgynous looks). His dancing is first-rate, except for the unimpressive final jump out of the window. Reportedly, audiences gasped when Nijinsky did that.

The "Firebird" is the most famous and often seen of these works. Diana Vishneva is wonderful as the bird and easily holds her place next to the "legends" whose performances in the part have been preserved on film (Fonteyn, Ananyashvili, etc.) Andrei Yakovlev as the Prince is competent, though he does not always remember to hold on to the bird during their pas-de-deux.

Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) [DVD] [2002]
Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Gegam Grigorian
Price: £10.16

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The soundtrack would have been better., 30 May 2007
Repertory theaters all over the world have "stock" productions that are taken out of the mothballs and "aired" on stage every now and then. These performances are usually attended by season-ticket holders (who have no choice,) unsuspecting tourists (who hope for the best), and a few connoiseurs who are interested in how certain singers perform certain roles. Thankfully, under regular circumstances, nobody thinks of preserving such evenings for posterity. Unfortunately, this time somebody did!
What we have here, then, is a very old production (at least, it looks very old,) whose "revival" constituted only in adjusting the costumes to the new singers' sizes. I cannot believe that a director was present during rehearsals (if there were any.) Theatrically, the whole affair is as indifferent as could be. The singers are left to their own devices, and -guess what? They prefer to sing rather than act. Each one chooses which scene he -or she- thinks important and then they sort of come alive for a while. Of course, we all know that this happens often in opera. The problem is that "Pique Dame" is such a complex and intense work, that it absolutely DEMANDS some sort of interpretation. These people do not seem to have a clue about what the characters they're "portraying" are going through and neither will you, after watching this.
On the musical side, things are considerably brighter. Valery Gergiev conducts the Kirov forces with authority. Gegam Grigorian, who sings Herman, does not have the nicest timbre I've ever heard, but is quite capable of coping with the part's vocal requirements. Maria Gulegina, as Liza, sings beautifully. Her soaring high notes are a joy to hear. Alexander Gergalov's Yeletsky is not memorable, but Sergei Leiferkus is an excellent Tomsky and Olga Borodina is a fine Pauline. Ludmila Filatova is vocally superior to most Countesses I've heard. She starts her big scene beautifully, but ultimately her histrionics succeed in ruining the magic.
All in all, I think that a cd issue with just the soundtrack of this performance would have been preferable to the dvd.

Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet [DVD] [2001]
Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Paris Opera Ballet
Price: £11.33

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Romeo and Juliet staged by Nureyev, 30 April 2007
To set the record straight, one of the previous reviewers claims that this is a documentary and warns potential buyers against purchasing it. He is obviously confused. There is indeed a documentary about this production, but not on this disc. This contains a performance of the ballet, as staged by Rudolf Nureyev for the Paris Opera.
Nureyev who, if I recall correctly, was the first to dance Macmillan's Romeo in the 1960s, offers us here his own concept of the work (NOTE: his participation here is only as a choreographer and producer. He did not dance this version and by the time this particular performance was filmed, he had passed on.)
Comparisons with the Macmillan version are inevitable. On the plus side for Nureyev, there is an attempt to follow more closely Shakespeare's plot, which explains both how Romeo hears of Juliet's death and why he is not warned of what has actually taken place. (In Macmillan, the exiled Romeo appears suddenly and unexpectedly in the tomb.) The scene with the Friar's murder was hurried and seemed tacked-on, whereas the scene in which Benvolio informs Romeo of Juliet's death was beautifully conceived and executed (Romeo dreams of Juliet embracing him and wakes up in his friend's arms instead.) All in all, though, -despite the excellent dancing opportunities afforded,- I found the choreography not as emotionally charged as Macmillan's.
Another minus for me were Nureyev's attempts at symbolic gestures. The Priest that marries the couple, for example, holds a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a human skull in the other! (How subtle is this?) In another scene, Romeo offers money to a young beggar, who (inexplicably) drops dead almost as soon as he touches his fingers.
There are also some "realistic" touches, which do not blend very well with the atmosphere of the ballet. Tybald kisses Romeo on the lips, to show that he considers him a sissy for not fighting with him. In another scene, the young men try to provoke their enemies by performing obscene gestures. This seemed to me like a very easy way to express hostility.
Sets are impressive and costumes are quite elegant, but I think that Georgiades's sets for the Macmillan production had more character.
The dancers are exceptional. Manuel Legris, in particular, is one of the best Romeos I have ever seen.
The cinematography is quite good, with the exception of two short close-ups of the "dead" Juliet in the last scene, where we can see she's obviously breathing. It's not a big thing, but it does momentarily spoil the illusion.
In short, if you only want one version of this ballet for you collection, go for the Macmillan (either the wonderful '60s film with Nureyev and Fonteyn, or one of the performances with Ferri from the '80s and '90s.) But if you want to own an alternative version of the work, as well, this will not disappoint you. Even if you have reservations about Nureyev's concept, the quality of the dancing is such that it fully justifies the purchase.

The Prince Of The Pagodas [DVD] [2005]
The Prince Of The Pagodas [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Covent Garden The Royal Ballet
Price: £13.74

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting work, 20 April 2007
Kenneth Macmillan was a controversial figure in 20th century ballet. His choreographies employed classical movement in a modern concept and his subjects were often dark and, -some reviewers claim,- highly autobiographical. This, however, is not the case with the Prince of the Pagodas. Here we have a fairy-tale narrated through a choreography that pays homage to 19th century Romantic Ballet. As such, I found it pleasant and interesting, but less vital than some of Macmillan's more contemporary or "personal" works.

Britten is not my favorite composer, yet I found his effort to write a true ballet score thoroughly succesful, -though perhaps the work is a bit too long.

The Covent Garden production (designed by N. Georgiades), is opulent and imaginative, but I would not count it among the venerable designer's most succesful projects. To be fair, the quality of the picture may not be doing justice to the sets and costumes. It seems to me that dvd companies find it unnecessary to re-master performances from the 1980s and early 1990s, so the picture we get on these dvds is, more or less, that of a good VHS tape. It is certainly watchable, but lacks the clarity and brilliance that the new medium could offer.

The dancing ranges from good to spectacular. Both Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope, as the two lovers, are wonderful, as are some of the solo dancers in smaller parts. Fiona Chadwick is a fine ballerina, but I found her portrayal of the evil sister, Epine, less impressive than I had expected after watching some of her other performances. Simon Rice, who dances the Fool, is an athletic, but strangely "heavy" dancer. After watching the rehearsal footage (with another dancer in the part,) it seemed to me that the performance would have benefited from the casting of a more "blithe" dancer in the part.

Finally, this dvd includes an excellent "documentary portrait" of the choreographer, offering extensive information and discussions on Macmillan's turbulent life and career, as well as rehearsal footage from the Prince of the Pagodas, and rare archive footage from his earlier works.
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