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Alejandra Vernon "artist & illustrator" (Granada, Nicaragua)

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Cabin in the Sky
Cabin in the Sky
Offered by momox co uk
Price: £7.90

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Musical Morality Tale, 11 Aug 2005
This review is from: Cabin in the Sky (Audio CD)
Ethel Waters repeated her Broadway role of Petunia Jackson, a woman who fervently prays for her husband to mend his gambling ways for the screen with great success, as she sings and dances her way into our hearts. Petunia is the central character in the film, and has most of the songs. The film was also instrumental in making Lena Horne a star, and even though her part as the devil's handmaiden, Georgia Brown, is not a large one, she is stunning, and makes the screen sizzle with her sensual beauty.
Petunia's husband, Little Joe, is played by Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, and Little Joe's soul is in the balance, as Lucifer Jr. (Rex Ingram) battles The General (Kenneth Spencer) for where it will spend eternity. The scenes with Lucifer and his minions, who include Louis Armstrong, are hilarious, as they plot the best way to tempt Little Joe. The talent, music, and humor in this film make it well worth watching as entertainment, and also for its historical value of being one of the best all-black cast vehicles Hollywood produced.
"Cabin in the Sky" was the directorial film debut for Vincente Minnelli (he had directed the Broadway show), and some others in the terrific cast are John William Sublett, Butterfly McQueen, and Duke Ellington and his Orchestra. Music is by Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg, and more. The song list is: "Cabin in the Sky," "Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe" (nominated for a Best Song Oscar), "Taking a Chance on Love," "Life is Full of Consequence," "Li'l Black Sheep," "Shine," and "Honey in the Honeycomb." Total running time is 98 minutes.

Deliberate Intent [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Deliberate Intent [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Timothy Hutton

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Have You Ever Seen a Single Tennis Shoe in the Road?, 9 Aug 2005
"Deliberate Intent" is a fascinating film based on the book by First Amendment scholar and law professor Ron Smolla, detailing the 1997 Paladin Enterprises, Inc v. Rice case. It concerns "Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors," a book that gave step by step instructions on how to murder, and the killing of 3 people in 1993 by someone who followed those instructions. It is one of the most intellectually challenging films I have seen in a long time, and is brilliantly constructed and acted to present both sides of the argument.
There was an unusual agreement between the author and the publisher. The author, who usually assumes liability for their work, was not only free of liability but also had their identity protected. This stemmed from the publisher wanting "Hit Man," which was originally conceived as a novel, to be written as a "users manual". The two sides of this case, whether this went beyond the rights of free speech, or was protected by the First Amendment, and how Smolla's mind was changed from one view to another, is the central focus of the film. It also details the murder of the 3 people, and how "Hit Man" played a part in it. Some people think the case "murdered the First Amendment" along with the victims, others think it went way beyond its boundaries.
The performances are low-key and superb. Timothy Hutton gives another solid performance as Smolla. Hutton is a vastly underrated actor that excels in portraying characters that are more mental than flamboyant, and the part of Smolla fits him like a velvet glove. Ron Rifkin is marvelous as Howard Siegel, the attorney who pesters Smolla into taking the case. Clark Johnson, who was Dt. Meldrick Lewis, my favorite actor/character on "Homicide: Life on the Street," is perfect as the hit man, James Perry, as is James McDaniel, as Lawrence Horn, the man who hires Perry to kill his family. On the defense side of the case, there is Bill McDonald as Peder Lund, publisher of Paladin Enterprises, and Cliff De Young as his defense attorney.
There are no weak links in this way above average TV film, making all of its 85 minutes riveting. This is a film I wished had been longer, as I was enjoying the thought-provoking premise of it so much. Written and directed by Andy Wolk, it also has a marvelous, atmospheric score by Harald Kloser. After you watch this film, you will never see a single shoe in the road (one of the "Hit Man" instructions) without remembering "Deliberate Intent."

Alexander (Two Disc Edition) [DVD]
Alexander (Two Disc Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Anthony Hopkins
Offered by 247dvd
Price: £3.59

9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Cinematic Nightmare, 6 Aug 2005
At a cost of over $ 150,000,000 to make, and overtaken at the box office by the "SpongeBob" movie, "Alexander" is the 21st century "Heaven's Gate." The participants in this epic disaster should hope that few people see this film, because like "Heaven's Gate" in 1981, this could be a career-breaker. Oliver Stone's direction, working with a weak and often preposterous script, is a major catastrophe. The only scene that works in the entire 3 hours of this film is when the young Alexander (Connor Paolo, the only cast member whose reputation as an actor remains untarnished) tames the wild horse Bucephalus.
As Alexander, Colin Farrell is hopeless. Instead of having a commanding presence, as one would assume Alexander had to have, he is feeble and gives us a "smaller than life" hero, a puppy dog in need of his lover Haphastion (Jared Leno in heavy eye makeup). He also not only has a thick Irish accent, but very poor diction. An actor getting major roles should be skilled enough to remove regional traces from his speaking voice, and be able to acquire a "non-accent".
Another vocal treasure is Angelina Jolie, who pouts and plays with her pet snake collection, and sounds exactly, word for word, like Lotte Lenya in "From Russia with Love." If this film makes a dent in the Hollywood history books, it will be for this bizarre characterization of Olympias. What was Jolie thinking, and why did Stone allow it?
The quasi-historical epic of heroism and adventure is my favorite genre, and I wanted to enjoy this film, but was almost repulsed by it. If you want to see a towering failure, this is it. Filmed in Morocco, there are miles of rusty colored desert, and the landscape was much better served in the made for TV Bible films. The soundtrack by Vangelis is also unsuccessful, and in many scenes seems to be out-of-synch with the action on the screen. This ranks as one of the worst films I have ever seen, reminding me a little of Bob Guccione's "Caligula," except the actors are wearing clothes. Arf! This one is a dog.

Upside of Anger [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Upside of Anger [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Joan Allen
Price: £3.15

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Downside of a Flawed Premise, 5 Aug 2005
Despite great performances, this film is dismal portrait of an unlikable character. We are told that Terry's husband has gone to Sweden with his secretary, and that for 3 years, never contacted his family (wife and 4 teenage to adult girls). We are told that Terry was "sweet" before this event, and has changed. What we see is a manipulative control freak with a bad drinking habit, and one must suspect that the seeds of this were always there.
I find the biggest flaw is the basic premise of the film, which I can't mention because it would be a spoiler. I had nagging feeling throughout the film that something didn't make sense, and in reflecting on the story after seeing the film, I realized that I had been duped, and that the very clever twist ending was a actually a silly one. There would have been too many unanswered questions for the plot to unfold as it does.
Joan Allen is superb as Terry, but it is hard to have sympathy for her, even though she asks for compassion in her time of need. Kevin Costner is also excellent as Denny Davies, Terry's booze buddy turned lover, an ex-baseball star with a radio talk show, and a beer for breakfast type of guy. Yes, the liquor runs like a river in this film, but the dialogue is often weak, and many scenes seem unresolved. As the daughters, Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Alicia Witt and Keri Russell all do their parts beautifully.
"The Upside of Anger" was written and directed by Mike Binder, who is also plays Shep, Denny's producer. Shep is a bit of a reprobate, but gives Terry an earful of truth at a wedding party, and has some of the best scenes in the film. The score by Alexander Desplat is lovely with some nostalgic songs included, like Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Now." DVD extras include deleted scenes, and commentary. Total running time is 118 minutes.

Palm Beach Story [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Palm Beach Story [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Claudette Colbert
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £5.78

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Breezy, Witty Comedy, 4 Aug 2005
A great cast and some snappy dialogue make this nutty comedy about a woman who wants to divorce her husband in order to finance him by marrying a wealthy man, is everything this genre of comedy can be. Preston Sturges wrote and directed this little gem with fast pacing, and lots of little character parts to back up his stars, that help the keep the humor going throughout the film. The generous but deaf Wenie King (Robert Dudley), Sig Arno as Toto, and Arthur Hoyt as the Pullman conductor are among those that make this film take flight.
Claudette Colbert sparkles, and looks heavenly in an assortment of lavish gowns, and Joel McCrea plays her handsome but penniless husband, an inventor whose ideas have never paid off. Enter myopic millionaire John D. Hackensacker III, played with marvelous ease by Rudy Vallee, who goes on a shopping spree when he meets Claudette that includes a very large diamond ring. To complicate matters, Rudy has a sophisticated and lustful sister (Mary Astor in a terrific performance), who sets her heart on Joel, because she has been led to believe he is Claudette's brother.
Victor Young wrote the music, and Rudy Vallee, the legendary "Megaphone Crooner" of the 1930s, sings "Goodnight Sweetheart." Always unpredictable, "Palm Beach Story" is a silly, wacky farce that is written with intelligence, making it a smart and sassy comedy, with never a dull moment between chuckles. Total running time is 88 minutes.

The King and I [DVD] [1956]
The King and I [DVD] [1956]
Dvd ~ Yul Brynner
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £13.99

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Musical Masterpiece, 2 Aug 2005
This review is from: The King and I [DVD] [1956] (DVD)
"The King and I" is one of the greatest works of the American musical theater, a genre Rogers and Hammerstein changed by adding drama and complex characters along with their beautiful music and memorable lyrics. Based on Margaret Landon's classic "Anna and the King of Siam," this filmed adaptation of the Broadway show is exquisite, with a fabulous cast and extraordinary talent behind the camera as well, with the direction of Walter Lang, choreography by Jerome Robbins, and cinematography by Leon Shamroy. The costumes by Irene Sharaff are also a visual feast of lavish, sparkling jewels and silks.
Yul Brynner is magnificent as the King Mongut; his charisma and screen presence is riveting, and he well deserved his Best Actor Oscar. This was his signature role, and he played in on the stage over 4,000 times during his lifetime. Deborah Kerr (who was nominated for Best Actress) is also superb as Anna, the English widow who teaches the king's children. My favorite moment in the film is when Brynner first puts his arm around Kerr's waist, in the "Shall We Dance?" number, and their chemistry together sizzles more than many of the explicit love scenes we see on the screen today. The entire cast is fabulous, with the children captivating, and Rita Moreno a standout as Tuptim, the girl given to the king, but in love with another man.
The ballet that is the entertainment for the banquet guests is fantastic, and danced to perfection. A version of "Uncle Tom's Cabin", the choreography and the effects using fabric are a touch of genius. "The King and I" won 5 of its 9 Oscar nominations (Best Actor, Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound, and Scoring of a Musical), as well as some Golden Globes. Deborah Kerr's singing voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon (who also dubbed in "West Side Story", "My Fair Lady", and more), as was Rita Moreno, dubbed by Leona Gordon.
Also highly recommended is the dramatic 1946 film, "Anna and the King of Siam" with Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison. There was a rather disappointing remake in 1999, a mere shadow of the original, but is probably worth seeing as a comparison in how Landon's book (which is very high on my all time favorite list) has been adapted. It is not unusual for the filmed version of a Broadway production not to include all the original songs, and "The King and I" is no exception. What is included in the film however are some of the most loved melodies and lyrics written for the musical stage, and ones that we keep humming long after the show is over. Total running time is 133 minutes.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2014 11:15 AM BST

Extremities [DVD]
Extremities [DVD]
Dvd ~ Farrah Fawcett
Price: £6.94

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Character Study of Violence and Submission, 27 July 2005
This review is from: Extremities [DVD] (DVD)
"Extremities" is almost like a filmed play, with a marvelous 4-person cast, and it keeps one's interest even though most of the action takes place in 2 rooms of a small house. This very low budget production may have many flaws, but it is at times riveting viewing. Farrah Fawcett followed her critically acclaimed "The Burning Bed" with this film, and once again proved that she was much more than a "Charlie's Angels" pin-up. Along with Fawcett, James Russo is Joe, a truly creepy villain, and Alfre Woodard and Diana Scarwid are both terrific as Fawcett's housemates. Woodard is one of Hollywood's most beautiful and underrated actresses, and gives yet another wonderful performance, and Scarwid is very moving as she tells her personal history, and how she dealt with a similar trauma.
This is a character study of a depraved man who sets his mind on terrorizing a woman, first by assaulting her in a car, and then in a home invasion. The violence that ensues sometimes feels quite real, and the interest in the film lies mostly in the reactions by the 3 women affected by the psychological rape, and the fear of being killed by this monstrous man. It is a curious film about power and submission that doesn't always work, but the parts that do are excellent, and definitely worth watching.
Written by William Mastrosimone based on his play, and directed by Robert M. Young, "Extremities" is 89 minutes long, is often intense, and has great interaction between its 4 fine actors.

King Of Kings [VHS] [1961]
King Of Kings [VHS] [1961]
Offered by maverick_marketing
Price: £9.99

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow but Interesting, 20 July 2005
"King of Kings" is somewhat tame compared to many other films on the life of Jesus, but is still nevertheless well worth watching. It does not have the grandeur and visual beauty of the George Stevens "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (1965), or the intensity of the silent Cecil B. DeMille "King of Kings" (1927) that it is supposed to be based on, but it is always reverential towards its subject matter, even if at a rather slow pace. Many of the events told in the Gospels are simply read, rather than depicted, and this job goes to a Roman named Lucius (well played by Ron Randell), and the magnificent voice of Orson Welles as narrator. There is also a fair amount of extraneous material in trying to describe the political climate of the time, and to expand on the life of Jesus.
Jeffrey Hunter, an underrated actor during his short lifetime and handful of films, is a handsome Jesus, with crystal blue eyes, and is very effective in the temptation in the desert, and the Sermon on the Mount. His youthful good looks made some people nickname this film "I Was a Teenage Jesus," even though Hunter was in his mid 30s at the time. Others in the cast are Siobhan McKenna as Mary, Harry Guardino as Barrabas, Rip Torn as Judas, and Hurd Hatfield as Pontius Pilate. Robert Ryan makes a good, grizzled John the Baptist, and of all the film Salomes, Brigid Bazlen is the best. Her voluptuous seduction of a drunken, lascivious Herod (Frank Thring) is terrific storytelling and quite believable.
Directed by Nicholas Ray, the film has a grand score by Miklos Rozsa, and the cinematography, shot on location in Spain, is by Manuel Berenguer. In my extensive "Jesus" film collection, this is the one I play the least, but it has value in many of its performances, and as a comparison to other films of this theme. Total running time is 170 minutes.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 1, 2011 8:52 AM BST

Invasion of the Body Snatchers [DVD] [1956] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Invasion of the Body Snatchers [DVD] [1956] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Kevin McCarthy

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sophisticated Creature Feature, 19 July 2005
Based on a Collier's Magazine serial by Jack Finney, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is an intelligent, superb example of its era and genre, with excellent direction and cast. Director Don Siegel said that this was probably his best film, though he deplored that the film studio (United Artists) made him add a prologue and epilogue, and tell the story with narration as a flashback. Though this format would weaken the chilling effect of the story somewhat, it is nevertheless riveting and quite frightening. When Doctor Miles Bennell returns from a business trip, he finds his small town changed, with people saying that their loved ones are "no longer the same." Miles also finds that his sweetheart of many years ago, Becky Driscoll, has come home after a 5 year absence, and a divorce, and they make a marvelous duo, quoting Shakespeare to each other, and with some dialogue that in the mid 1950s would have been quite racy.
Kevin McCarthy is marvelous as Miles, who runs a race against time and sleep to fight the pod people, and Dana Wynter is beautiful as Becky. There are others in the above average cast that will be familiar to old time TV viewers, like Carolyn Jones (Morticia of "The Adams Family"), Virginia Christine (Mrs. Olsen of the Folger's Coffee commercials), and Richard Deacon (Mel Cooley of "The Dick Van Dyke Show"). Among the credits, the great Carmen Dragon did the soundtrack, Ellsworth Fredericks the cinematography, and Daniel Mainwaring the bright and clever script.
The premise as I see it (and I think every viewer will bring his own interpretation to this film depending on his viewpoint) is still valid, as conformity is still king, and pod people are ever present. The 1978 remake is one of the few that lives up to the original, and is also highly recommended. Total running time is 80 minutes.

Sometime I Dream
Sometime I Dream
Price: £10.04

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mediterranean Magic, 16 July 2005
This review is from: Sometime I Dream (Audio CD)
Mario Frangoulis' gorgeous voice and the exquisite material chosen for this CD make it an outstanding musical experience. It has glorious melodies, and the warmth and passion of his native Greece, with an international flair. Mario sings in 4 languages, and the songs range from operatic to an upbeat, marvelous rendition of the Neapolitan "Luna Rossa," but the entire CD has a cohesiveness in its mood and quality. The arrangements by Steve Wood and the musicianship throughout are superb, lush and lovely, and well balanced with Mario's powerful Voice.
The highlight for me is "Sometimes I Dream," a fantastic interpretation of Puccini's aria from "Tosca," "E lucevan le stelle," to which Mario and Steve have added some music and lyrics, and the result is an utterly fabulous song. Another inspired choice is the Moody Blues hit from decades ago, "Nights in White Satin," which is sung with Justin Hayward, the original Moody Blues member who wrote the song.
Accomplished in many areas, Mario is an actor who has performed everything from Shakespeare to the musical "Grease." He is also a violinist, a winner of the Maria Callas Prize, as well as having had a scholarship to New York's famed Juilliard School of Music, and being the only student of the great opera singer Alfredo Kraus. The packaging of the CD is top notch, with the lyrics in their original language with English translations, and lots of photos of this handsome singer, who is sure to be one of the world's big superstars in the coming years, if he continues this level of excellence. Total playing time is 57'26.

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