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Dr. John Hamilton (Norfolk, England)
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Wallah Be ( Kald mig bare Aksel )  ( Aksel wants to be a Moslem ) [ English subtitles ] [DVD]
Wallah Be ( Kald mig bare Aksel ) ( Aksel wants to be a Moslem ) [ English subtitles ] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Adam Gilbert Jespersen
Price: 11.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Islam Lite, 28 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The comedy in this film, such as it is, is very light and gentle and understated. Nothing here is particularly troubling. Parents - even occasionally strict ones - are all loving and reasonable. Muslims are presented as happy-go-lucky people who are wholly integrated into Danish society. Aksel, a Danish boy of somewhat unprepossessing aspect (sorry), thinks Muslims are "cool" and wishes to be part of their group. At the beginning of the movie, he seems to think of Islam essentially in terms of wearing jewelry, and it is only over the course of the film that he begins to realise that Islam is a religion that permeates the whole of life. Nevertheless, practices which have caused friction with secular European society, such as women covering their faces, and circumcision, are alluded to, rather than confronted headlong, and are treated solely as potential sources of comedy. Nor is there anything here to suggest that Islam involves a set of *beliefs* and not just ritual practices. Aksel learns the credo, but solely as a sequence of words. The Koran doesn't even get a mention, and its arguably sometimes unsettling content is kept quietly under wraps. What we get, therefore, is a toned-down, politically correct portrayal of Islam. Still, I'm sure this film did wonders for Muslim/non-Muslim relations in Denmark, which is probably what it was designed for. Perhaps this is too harsh. The acting is fine, and for a low budget movie, this is quite well produced. The film is a perfectly pleasant way of passing an hour and 17 minutes, provided you can suspend disbelief and enter the somewhat saccharine and unreal world which this film portrays.


Three Films by Roger Lambert
Three Films by Roger Lambert
Dvd ~ Stephen Bratt

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roger Lambert on DVD at last!, 27 Sep 2013
This review is from: Three Films by Roger Lambert (DVD)
***UPDATE*** This item is no longer available, but a professional distributor has now taken up Roger Lambert's films, and is preparing a new release. A DVD featuring all Roger Lambert's surviving films should be available in May of this year, or thereabouts. [This note added 16.02.14.]

This release has been put together by enthusiastic amateurs (myself included) who wanted to see Roger Lambert's remarkable short films made available to the discerning public, and so the packaging and disc menu are very basic. The important thing here is the films themselves, and at last all three have been made available on this one disc, and are presented FULLY REMASTERED.

"I Want to be Famous" (1976, 40 minutes) is a hymn to the friendship - love really - between two boys. Steve (Stephen Bratt) hates sports, finds school merely oppressive and bunks off when he can. An introverted kid, he lives very much an inner life. Home life is hardly less oppressive than school, his father being both unsympathetic and uncomprehending towards his son. Steve finds solace in violent fantasies, and even more in his unbreakable friendship with fellow loner, Stuart (Stuart Elliot). The heart of this film is a beautiful segment in which we follow Steve and Stuart playing together over a few golden hours. Wonderful naturalistic performances from the cast and brilliantly creative direction from Lambert (such as the use of drawings at the beginning and end of segments) make this a truly superlative short film.

Stephen Bratt (a little older) again stars in "Follow You, Follow Me" (1979, 33 minutes) as Peter, who is best friends with Joseph (Francis Gilson). Peter's father is involved in an industrial dispute with Joseph's father, who happens to be the manager of a local firm which is threatening redundancies - and this creates problems for the two boys, since their fathers, and peers at school, are hostile to their association. Nevertheless, this pressure seems insufficient, at least initially, to destroy the two boys' friendship. The two boys both seem erotically interested in girls, and yet the relationships each have with the opposite sex cannot compete with the sheer intensity of their relationship with each other. This is what makes this film so interesting: it recognises that the division of people into 'gay' and 'straight' fails to do justice to the complexity of human affective response, and that this is perhaps particularly true of adolescent boys. The two boys might not be physically attracted to each other in a straightforward sense. But nevertheless their affective bond is definitely homo-romantic, if not exactly homoerotic. The performances are superb, the differences of character between the two protagonists, and the way this affects their interaction, are beautifully conveyed. This is a truly remarkable and brilliant film about the complexity of human emotion, and is perhaps Lambert's most profound work.

Finally, in "A Seaside Story" (1986, 27 minutes), Sam (played by Sam Butterfield) and Martin (Martin Plunkett) go on a weekend stay at Lyme Regis, where they make the acquaintance of an eccentric landlady played by Gwen Nelson. Sam is shy, introverted and exquisitely well-mannered, and is interested in fossil hunting and nature. The sexuality of his character is left ambiguous, whereas there is never any doubt over Martin's interests as he flirts with, and chats up, the local girls. Will the various characters find what they're looking for before the end of the holiday? And do they even know themselves what they're looking for?

These short films transcend any easy categorisation as "gay cinema", since none of them are actually about "gay" (or at least gay-identifying) characters. Instead, they are about the strong bonds, whether homoromantic, homoerotic, or whatever, that form between adolescent boys, which cannot necessarily be neatly pigeon-holed. It may be this feature of the films that makes them unsettling or baffling to some viewers who are more used to obvious gay-identified or straight-identified characters. But this certainly makes the films even more worth viewing.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 24, 2014 8:44 PM BST


Leave It to Beaver [DVD] [1997] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Leave It to Beaver [DVD] [1997] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Christopher McDonald
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: 2.93

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hey Beav, I think we just got gypped!, 6 April 2013
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"The Beav is back!", announces the tagline. OH NO HE ISN'T. The Beaver in this film has little resemblance to the original (and is rather irritating as well, his voice being rather like Tangina from 'Poltergeist'). But this is only one of the very many failures of this movie. The narrative is messy and disjointed, with a coherent narrative thread largely eschewed in favour of stuffing as many incidents from the classic series as possible into the movie's 87 minutes. Everything has been made louder and less subtle, and there is less character-based humour (or at least character-based humour that works) and more slapstick - indeed, the movie opens with a slapstick skit. The lack of subtlety even extends to the language (the dialogue includes words such as "fart" and "crap" - the latter word from June Cleaver...no, really). The emphasis on slapstick leads to serious character distortions. There's a scene about half an hour into the movie where Wally first shoves his younger brother down on the stairs and then kicks him. Then he tries to beat him up. No, no, NO. The Wally in the original series might sometimes get slightly annoyed with the Beav, but ultimately he is highly protective of his younger brother and would NEVER be violent towards him and would never physically BEAT him. Again, Ward Cleaver becomes a sort of 'Angry Dad', who shouts at the boys. There's none of the genuine sympathy and understanding the original Ward had for his sons, and none of his quiet wisdom either. As for the other characters, an attempt is made to make them a facsimile of the originals, but somehow the actors can't quite pull it off. Eddie Haskell, for example, is rather poorly performed and is a pathetic echo of the unforgettable character of the TV series.

The references to the original series come thick and fast in this movie, but the content of the original has been appropriated without its spirit. It is thus wholly devoid of the gentleness and warmth which made the original series so immensely appealing. The result is not merely a bad movie, but also a truly monumental failure.

BONUS MATERIALS: Production Notes, Notes on Cast and Filmmaker, and Theatrical Trailer.
LANGUAGE SELECTION: Original English soundtrack, French or Spanish dubbing.
SUBTITLES: English and Spanish.


Empire of the Sun [Blu-ray] [1987] [Region Free]
Empire of the Sun [Blu-ray] [1987] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Price: 7.16

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Empire on BLU-RAY at last!, 7 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bathed in nostalgia, and filled with sadness for the irrevocability of the past, for "a strange, inconceivable England" as Ballard says in his novel Empire of the Sun (New Windmills) (ch. 2) - albeit an England surreally transposed to the far east - Spielberg perfectly captures the spirit of the book with his gorgeous cinematography and a superb soundtrack courtesy of John Williams, including the hauntingly beautiful Suo Gan - a song which I don't think has ever been sung more beautifully (the soloist in this performance was James Rainbird). Complemented by a stellar cast, Christian Bale deserves a great deal of credit for his outstanding performance as Jim.

Blu-ray releases are often a case of hit-and-miss, but I'm glad to say that this blu-ray is excellent. Fans of the film will find that the cinematography is *enormously* enhanced by its being presented in glorious HD - the pin-sharp picture is just a complete joy to watch from beginning to end.

Extras:

Making-of documentary, 'The China Odyssey'
Theatrical trailer
(Both these were formerly available on DVD. Neither are in HD.)

The film can be listened to in its original (English language) soundtrack, or dubbed into French, German, Italian, Spanish (both Castilian and Latin), and Portuguese.

Optional subtitles:
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish (again, both kinds), Portuguese, Dutch, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Chinese.

Comparison with US release:
The US release of this movie: Empire of the Sun [Blu-ray] [1987] [US Import] - which is multi-region, so can be viewed on any UK blu-ray player - is a special digibook version with a second disc. The second disc is a documentary about Warner Bros' WWII propaganda department, entitled "Warner at War". This 2008 documentary (which is narrated by Spielberg, and lasts about three-quarters of an hour) has really nothing to do with the movie (the Intro to the documentary can be viewed on YouTube). But the digibook itself is very nice. It has some well chosen photos from the movie and is quite a handsome product. However, at the time of writing, it does cost considerably more than the UK release. So if you're not much bothered with the packaging and are only interested in the disc content, then I'd probably go with the UK release since it is significantly cheaper, and the bonus feature on the second disc of the US release is not really an "extra" related to this movie.


Crime School [DVD] [1938] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Crime School [DVD] [1938] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ The 'Dead End' Kids
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: 8.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Round Two for the Dead Enders, 4 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well, this film (which is essentially a remake of Warner's The Mayor of Hell [1933] [Region 1] [NTSC] [US Import] [DVD]) was very much a vehicle for the Dead End Kids, so if you don't like them then you won't like this movie. The film is perhaps not quite as sublime as Dead End [DVD] itself, to which Crime School was the follow-up. Dead End was characterised by an uncompromising social realism which precluded any unambiguous 'happy ending'. In this sense, Crime School follows a more conventional narrative of kids born on the wrong side of the tracks finding someone (Humphrey Bogart) who has their best interests at heart and wins them over into becoming law-abiding members of society. Still, there is a recognition of corruption in state institutions. At the reform school to which the kids are sent, it is obvious that there is no psychological distinction between those put in charge of the kids and the hardened criminals in the local penitentiary. And at one point one of the characters argues to a judge that the wider social environment is the primary determinant of criminal behaviour - though, in contrast to Dead End, the point is immediately undermined by the judge spouting the usual response that not all poor kids who keep within the law remain poor. (This, of course, ignores the fact that the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against success for any given individual.) Nevertheless, whilst this film lacks the depth of Dead End, the performances are uniformly superb. Of course, Humphrey Bogart and Billy Halop are both great actors, but the rest of the cast are excellent as well. If the film is judged on its own merits, rather than compared to its predecessor, then it is a very fine film, and certainly worthy of five stars. Recommended.

NB The only bonus material on this DVD is the 'movie trailer' - which is actually a 'preview', i.e. a three-minute excerpt from the movie. There are no subtitles available on the disc.


Follow You Follow Me  (1979)  (short)
Follow You Follow Me (1979) (short)
VHS

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roger Lambert is a genius, 27 Sep 2012
This is a totally amazing short film from Roger Lambert, who also made A Seaside Story (1986) (short) and I Want To Be Famous (1976) (short). In fact, the actor who plays the main part in this latter film (Stephen Bratt) plays one of the two protagonists here. Peter (Stephen Bratt) and Joseph (Francis Gilson) are best friends. Peter's father is involved in an industrial dispute with Joseph's father, who happens to be the manager of a local firm which is threatening redundancies - and this creates problems for the two boys, since their fathers, and peers at school, are hostile to their association. Nevertheless, this pressure seems insufficient, at least initially, to destroy the two boys' friendship. The two boys are both attracted to girls, and yet the relationships they have with the opposite sex cannot compete with the sheer intensity of their relationship with each other. This is what makes this film so interesting: it recognises that the division of people into 'gay' and 'straight' fails to do justice to the complexity of human affective response, and that this is perhaps particularly true of adolescent boys. The two boys might not be p hysically attracted to each other in a straightforward sense - though they might 'mess about' with each other. But nevertheless their affective bond is definitely homoromantic, if not exactly homoerotic. The performances are superb, the differences of character between the two protagonists, and the way this affects their interaction, are beautifully conveyed. This is a truly remarkable and brilliant film about the complexity of human emotion, and is perhaps Lambert's most profound work.

***Postscript***
A DVD collection of all three of Lambert's films entitled "Three Films by Roger Lambert", with proper DVD quality, is now in productionwith a release date of 30 September 2013. It will be available solely through Amazon.


Mark Twain's The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (1981) [VHS]
Mark Twain's The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (1981) [VHS]
VHS
Offered by Discountdiscs-UK : Dispatched daily from the UK.
Price: 17.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Makes you appreciate Disney's adaptation - yes, it's that bad, 24 Sep 2012
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This 1981 production of HF, with Kurt Ida as 'Huck' and Dan Monahan as 'Tom', has been more or less lost to history - and with good reason. Ida's and Monahan's acting is stilted and cartoonish. Whenever Ida's Huck tells a 'stretcher', he sort of gurns at the camera in such a fashion as to make it obvious that he's lying. As well as the problems with acting, this version of HF stretches credulity to breaking point in other respects. The film establishes that 'Huck' is an abolitionist from the very beginning. But this is outright nonsense. A poorly educated white boy in the 1840s would certainly not have such notions. Huck doesn't even look like Twain's character. He's not a boy at all, but a young man (and the same goes for 'Tom'). His clothes are always spotlessly clean and his hair obviously benefits from the attentions of a stylist. It's always a good idea, I think, to have a stylist on board a raft when floating down the Mississippi, but I can't help wondering why Twain omitted to mention this detail in his novel.

The attempt to sanitise Twain's story in this production leads to narrative absurdity. Thus the Grangerford-Shepherdson feud gets merely a token mention, with the Grangerfords transformed into the 'Hunters'; but in this film Huck doesn't end up at the home of the 'Hunters', doesn't witness any killing, and the very brief subplot involving the feud serves no point at all in the narrative and makes no sense. Again, Jim tells his story about his guilt over his daughter - except in this version he doesn't *hit* his daughter, so why does he feel so guilty? The story is rendered completely meaningless. The ending is idiotic: Jim is freed simply because, in Huck's absence, Miss Watson has seen the light and converted to abolitionism! The whole thing is positively insulting to the viewer, and presupposes ignorance not only of Twain's novel but of social history in general.

Finally, the character that goes by the name of 'Huck' in this production bears no resemblance to Twain's character. When the king and duke begin their first scam, Ida's Huck assists with enthusiasm, without even being asked - but then when the king and duke are caught at the end, he vindictively (and hypocritically) relishes their persecution, and suggests tarring and feathering as a suitable punishment. Anyone who has read Twain's novel will know that this is a monstrous distortion. If for nothing else alone, this incident is sufficient to render this the worst HF ever. For once, it is perhaps not to be entirely regretted that this film never made it onto DVD.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2013 6:59 PM BST


I Want To Be Famous  (1976) (short)
I Want To Be Famous (1976) (short)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We two boys together clinging, 20 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A 1976 film, this short (approx. 37 minutes) is a hymn to the friendship - love really - between two boys. Steve (Stephen Bratt) hates sports, finds school merely oppressive and bunks off when he can. An introverted kid, he lives very much an inner life. Home life is hardly less oppressive than school, his father being both unsympathetic and uncomprehending towards his son. Steve finds solace in violent fantasies, and even more in his unbreakable friendship with fellow loner, Stuart (Stuart Elliot). The heart of this film is a beautiful segment in which we follow Steve and Stuart playing together over a few golden hours. Wonderful naturalistic performances from the cast and brilliantly creative direction from Lambert (such as the use of drawings at the beginning and end of segments) make this a truly superlative short film. Highly recommended.

A DVD collection of all three of Lambert's films entitled "Three Films by Roger Lambert", with proper DVD quality, is now in production with a release date of 30 September 2013. It will be available solely through Amazon.


Huckleberry Finn and His Friends [DVD]
Huckleberry Finn and His Friends [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sammy Snyders
Price: 27.83

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twain's own story at last, 18 Sep 2012
This production sets out to do something unprecedented with the texts of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, something so radical it makes one's head spin. The producers have not attempted to "improve" the text or impose their own agenda. They haven't tried to tell the "real" story which Twain supposedly "meant" to write. Instead this series simply seeks to tell TWAIN'S story. The adaptations in this version are only those necessitated by lack of money, the need to fit everything into 26 episodes, or (in one or two very minor instances) by the need to bear in mind the likely child audience. And the result of such fidelity to the text is a STUNNING piece of television.

Little details from the novels are lovingly reproduced - from the fact that the boys are all barefoot, to Huck slinking under the bed when Aunt Polly arrives at the Phelps' residence (Ch. 42). The performances of the three leads is superb. Best of all is Ian Tracey, who beautifully embodies the laid back and gentle approach to life of Twain's Huck Finn. There is a lovely moment on the raft after Jim and Huck's argument over whether Frenchmen speak the same as everyone else. Huck turns to Jim and sort of smiles, and Jim smiles back. It's a fleeting moment but it speaks volumes about the warmth of the relationship between these two. Even the supporting characters in this production are superbly done: Sid Sawyer, Becky Thatcher, Uncle Silas, Aunt Sally, all are wonderfully and memorably portrayed.

And this is the only production besides the 1920 film to keep Twain's original ending. The rescue from Phelps Farm is brilliantly handled without departing from the text. Through some sublime acting on the part of Blu Mankuma, we are left in no doubt that Jim is going along with Tom's plans only because he doesn't want to upset him - also, no doubt, because now that Tom has arrived on the scene and is obviously firmly in charge, it might not be wise to upset him when he still needs him in order to make a successful escape. Far from losing his dignity, by going along with Tom's plans Jim displays his sensitivity, intelligence and patience. To show the whole scenario as Twain wrote it is one thing; but to show it in a manner which enhances rather diminishes Jim's stature is a massive achievement.

Never mind the production difficulties (Aunt Polly's overdubbed vocals, the fact that they don't seem able to film at night, etc.). These problems pale into insignificance before what is accomplished. No other screen realisation of Twain's novels has accorded the text such respect. From the moment the gorgeously nostalgic theme tune plays at the beginning of episode 1, all the way to the last scene in episode 26, it is the LOVE of Twain's actual novels that shines through every scene in this golden series.


Tom & Huck [DVD] [1995] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Tom & Huck [DVD] [1995] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: 2.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disney versus Tom and Huck, 10 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This film is highly selective in its appropriation of Twain's novel, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The (Oneworld Classics). There is little here to reproduce the authentic atmosphere of the 1840s. Everyone talks in a modern accent and idiom and there is not a slave to be seen anywhere. The most incongruous feature of this movie is Becky Thatcher, who acts just like a post-feminist young woman of the 1990s (as opposed to the 1840s), and stridently refuses to be told what to do by anything in possession of a penis. The most bizarre scene of all is in the church, where she punches Tom incredibly hard, at least judging by the mighty 'thwack' on the soundtrack. Only the Widow makes a token gesture of disapproval at this astonishing behaviour in a young lady.

Miraculously, Tom is completely uninjured by this act of violence; he doesn't even get a nosebleed (despite his dabbing his nose with his finger - why he's doing this is a mystery since there's clearly no blood). Becky's violent response is surely out of all proportion to Tom's supposed 'offence'. As is often the case with Disney, violence is treated as light-hearted, comical and devoid of consequences. As a result, when Disney requires a genuine threat (as in the scene with the Doctor and Injun Joe in the graveyard), it has to ramp up the portrayal of violence to a maximum of luridness.

In Twain's novel, all the boys are barefoot and think nothing of discarding their clothes to go swimming. In this movie, with the exception of Huck, none of the boys are barefoot, such a state of nature being opposed to Disney's sense of middle class decency. Indeed, everyone seems to be clad in excessive layers of fabric. (And as for swimming - forget it. I shouldn't be surprised if they're all allergic to water.) In fairness, at the end of the movie, Tom Sawyer, in an almost unimaginably reckless act of rebellion, does joyfully throw off his CRAVAT.

In fact, the only thing which lifts this movie from the mire of total cloying Disney awfulness is its two leads. Jonathan Taylor Thomas is thoroughly watchable, even charismatic, as Tom, and has an infectiously impish smile. Brad Renfro plays a wonderfully brooding and dishevelled Huck, a true outcast - but then this wonderful portrayal is all thrown away at the end when he's completely domesticated. It's left to Tom Sawyer to feebly protest Huck's eagerness to assimilate into mainstream society. The message of the film is: Huck (being "good") only behaves as an outcast because society has rejected HIM. Deep down, all he really wants is middle class acceptance, a well-tailored suit and sensible shoes. We have indeed come 180 degrees from Twain's Huck.

So there we have it: a film which is enjoyable and entertaining on account of its two leads, despite Disney once again annihilating the soul of a Twain masterpiece. Enjoy!

About the disc:
The film can be listened to with its original English soundtrack, or overdubbed in French or in Spanish. The disc has optional English subtitles. There are no bonus features of any kind.


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