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RonCharles (Virginia & Arizona, USA)

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Islam: What the West Needs to Know [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Islam: What the West Needs to Know [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

5.0 out of 5 stars Islam: What The West Does Indeed Need To Know, 11 May 2015
If just for the two brilliant scholars Bat Ye'or and Robert Spencer alone, "Islam: What the West Needs to Know" would be worth watching. Much like Aleksander Solzhenitsyn did in "The Gulag Archipelago" with the reality of the communist Soviet Union, these two have opened the door to let the world see into the factual history of Islam, and the actual words and actions of the Prophet Mohammed and his immediate successors. They have, in addition, clearly shown how traditional, fundamentalist Muslims view all members of other religions: Those of the book: Christians, Jews, Sabians, and in some cases, Zoroastrians; have only the degraded, inferior status of the dhimmi if they submit and abase themselves before all Muslims, and those not of the book have neither status nor any human rights whatsoever.

It is absolutely paramount to comprehend the mindset, theology and ideology of the traditional Muslim who believes that Islam is Jihad and Jihad is Islam to begin to know how to deal with the challenge that these people present to all of civilized mankind. It the threat is not understood properly, it can not be deal with properly. This documentary helps give the viewer much needed information to know how to face the threat.

"Islam" is divided into six parts that analyze the situation in history and today: "There is no God, but Allah, and Muhammed is his prophet," "The Struggle," "Expansion," "War is Deceit," "More than a Religion" and "The House of War." In these six sections, a distinguished group of experts analyze the militancy of Islam's past and present. After viewing the full documentary, one has to admit that Robert Spencer has quite the valid point when he asserts, "There are peaceful and moderate Muslims, but there is no peaceful and moderate Islam."

In addition to the documentary itself, there are Bonus Features: People that gives brief biographies of Abdullah Al-Araby, Walid Shoebat, Robert Spencer, Serge Trifkovic and Bat Ye'or who are featured in the film; Resources that gives the address of Robert Spencers website, JihadWatch; and Texts that gives the editions of the Koran, Hadith and "The Life of Muhammed" that are used in the show.

With so much at stake, those in the West need to know the factual, authentic history of the conflict between Western Civilization and fundamentalist Islam and to realize what the Islamists truly want and desire. With that knowledge, Westerners can determine what strategies to pursue in their own countries to contain radical Islam and deter its violence, and which forces to foster and help in Muslim lands. Across the Muslim world from Morocco to Algeria to Tunisia to Egypt to Syria to Bahrain there are nations that are fighting against the Islamists, and they deserve our strong support.

Ron's Grade: A


In Search Of Myths And Heroes [DVD]
In Search Of Myths And Heroes [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Wood

5.0 out of 5 stars In Search Of Myths And Heroes: Michael Wood Explores Our Most Famous Myths, 11 May 2015
Beginning with an African proverb about the reason for the creation of man that sets the tone for the shows to come, Michael Wood sets out on an exploration of four of the greatest myths and stories of human history. These are tales that have resonated through the ages and still fascinate us today. Each segment looks at a different tale. The series chapters are "The Queen of Sheba," "Shangri-La," "Jason and the Golden Fleece" and "Arthur: The Once and Future King."

In the "Queen of Sheba" segment, Wood goes to Ethiopia, the Yemen and Israel, and he looks at Jewish, Christian and Muslim stories of the queen, and at local legends. He visits multiple locales where the people lay claim to the queen as their own, and some of these locales are not exactly safe. One has to give Wood credit for journeying to the Yemen, not the most hospitable land on Earth, and seeking out those who recount their legends of this famed woman.

In "Jason and the Golden Fleece," he explores the route that Jason and the Argonauts took to claim their prize and how the real life voyages of the past can become those of legend. In a conversation with Marianna Koromila, authoress of "The Greeks and the Black Sea," she tells him that there were hundreds of quests into the Black Sea for wealth and that they condensed into one, that of Jason, an explanation that most likely has much truth to it.

In Georgia, the country known for being the home of the Golden Fleece, Wood explores local villages and traditions, and experiences the nearly tribal culture that still exists there today. He even encounters briefly the descendants of the very colonists who have lived on the Black Seas since the times when Greeks first ventured there. When he enters the heartland of the Georgian nation, he is given advice that is quite telling, "Don't look ... ." Georgia shows how Wood attempts to see what traditions and rituals could have contributed to the legend, and it, also, displays a mark of all the episodes, the stunning scenery and dramatic vistas that stand out in the landscapes which he visits.

The storytellers who declaim the various myths must be given credit, too, for their dramatic and captivating tales of each of the legends. Michael Wood does not just spin his own tales of these mythical and heroic events: He enlists the skills of four gifted storytellers to retell these legendary accounts. They comprise Adjoa Andoh, Syreeta Kumar, Sasha Behar and Aoife McMahon. These four talented actresses bring the myths to life.

"Myths and Heroes" is free from some of the political correctness that has marred some of Wood's other works. This feels more like a traditional Western narrative that tries to look at all sides of the narratives. At times, particularly near the end of the Arthurian episode, Wood does indulge in his habit of building a whole bird from a single feather without any good DNA, constructing an Ostrich when the bird is in reality a Seagull. Having said that, most of the time he recognizes that much is myth, and one cannot determine the true reality of what went before. Fact and fiction, myth and history, all intertwine.

The musical score enhances the striking scenery and images that make such an impact on the viewer in this series. Composed and conducted by Howard Davidson, the score is performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In this series, the music, the landscapes, the historical facts as we know them, the legends and tales, the clips from classic films and Wood's interpretations of them all come together to make a splendid whole. Truly here, there are the truths of both history and imagination.

Ron's Grade: A+


Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West [DVD] [2005]
Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West [DVD] [2005]
Offered by Re-vived
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Obsession: A Clarion Call To Which The West Should Listen, 11 May 2015
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil ... is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke, Irish Philospher & Statesmen

This pertinent quote opens up "Obsession," a film about the danger that radical Islam poses to the entire world. Right from the offset, the makers of the film clearly state that it is about Islamists, those who want to conquer the world for Islam and impose Sharia globally, and not about Muslims who are peaceful and do not want to wage Jihad on the rest of humanity. It is important to point out what the film itself says, because all the Islamophiles in the West automatically accuse anyone who opposes the Islamization of the globe, radical terror and Jihad of being Islamophobic.

Directed by Wayne Kopping, who has written extensively on Islam and Jihad, the movie comprises several sections: "The Culture of Jihad," "The Culture of Hate," "Jihad in the West," "Common Denominators," "We've Been Here Before" and "What Do Radical Muslims Want." Together they detail a global Jihad that is being waged by Islamists, and it is a campaign that the West ignores at its own peril. As Nonie Dawish says at one point about the World Trade Center, "When I saw the second plane hit, I knew that Jihad had come to America."

In addition to Nonie Dawish, Steven Emerson, Caroline Glick, Walid Shoebat. Tahbih Sayyed, Itamar Marcus, John Loftus, Khaled Abu Toameh and Brigitte Gabriel are all featured. Each brings an insight into what is happening when this movie was made and is still happening today.

There are flaws with this documentary. It makes a great deal of comparisons between Nazism and Islamism, but there are strong differences. The Nazis only wanted to conquer Europe up to the Urals; Islamists want to conquer the whole world. Hitler and his associates only rarely mentioned the possibility of the Jews' being wiped out should there be a war; Islamists in mosques everywhere are constantly declaiming their plans for conquest and for wiping out the infidels, both Jews and Christians. The two ideologies have some similarities, but they are not the same. Like communism, the Islamist ideology is unlimited in its ambitions.

Having said that, "Obsession" does well in raising the awareness of the viewer to the greatest threat to freedom that exists today, and it is hoped that it will motivate people to take action both here and abroad. Brigitte Gabriel has an interesting observation when she notes that Islamists know how to use our laws and democracy against us. The same holds true for their traitorous Islamophile supporters in the West. Under the guise of upholding democracy, the politically correct in Western media and academia are working to destabilize the entire Middle East, to create chaos and to overthrow regimes that oppose radicalism from Morocco to Egypt to Syria to Bahrain. This campaign is designed to bring the Islamists to power everywhere.

To quote Nonie Dawish again, she clearly sums up what it is that the Islamists desire, "As a child I attended the Gaza elementary school, and we were taught that Jihad is a religious, holy war for the sake of Allah. That is what it is: To conquer the world for Allah. That is Jihad!" That is what the interviews and presentations in this film reveal: The Islamists want to conquer the whole world and impose Sharia upon all who dwell on it.

Gabriel goes on to make one of the most crucial statements in the film when she says, "The Western world needs to stand up and support the voices of the moderates. ... The Western World needs to support them and needs to do everything we can to empower them."

This is so very important. With governments such as the constitutional monarchy of King Mohammed VI in Morocco, the fragile democracy in Tunisia, the more-authoritarian democracy of President Sisi in Egypt and monarchy in Bahrain all working to stave off the Islamists, we should doing everything we can with aid and assistance, with reducing quotas and tariffs on their products, with technical and scientific support, to back them fully. They are the fortresses that stand against the radicals. Even the regime of Bashar Al-Assad is opposed to the Sunni fundamentalists, and our attempt to overthrow it and not reach an accommodation is sorely misguided and could lead to disaster.

"Obsession" is a clarion bell to which the West should listen.

Ron's Grade: B+


The Way He Looks [DVD] [2014]
The Way He Looks [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Tess Amorim
Price: £5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way He Looks: Adorable Youngsters In An Adorable Film, 9 May 2015
Originally a short film featured on YouTube, "I Do not Want to Go Back Alone" (Eu N„o Quero Voltar Sozinho) became so popular with YouTubers that Daniel Ribeiro was able to raise the funds to make a full-length motion picture. This longer film features the same actors that made the original short so well received: Ghilherme Lobo as Leo, Fabio Audi as Gabriel and Tess Amorim as Giovana.

Trained as a ballet dancer, Ghilherme Lobo brings a natural grace to his portrait of the blind youth Leo. He moves and stares without seeing as a blind boy would move and stare. The movie hinges on his ability to play a blind character convincingly, and he does.

From the very first scene of the movie in which Giovana and Leo are lazing by the pool, the tone is established. Giovana and Leo wonder what is going to happen in the future and if there will be any excitement in their lives, and they are longing for something to happen, even if it is just the first kiss. The set-up is perfect, and the film progresses from there. The cover photograph of the PAL Region 2 DVD is taken from a scene at Giovana's pool, and it is a much better cover than the one for the NTSC Region 1 DVD.

With the exception of some bullying and harassment from the wannabe-macho boys in his class, young Leo lives a rather protected life, with his parents always there for him and afraid to leave him alone at home and his best friend Giovana's watching after him and walking him home. A change comes in that comfortable routine when a new boy arrives in town and joins this pair of friends.

As the ramifications of Gabriel's joining the group's comprising Leo and Giovana become apparent; teenage misunderstandings, jealousies, tensions, hurt feelings and desires arise. Director Berger allows these feelings and actions to progress themselves naturally from the wry sweetness of attraction displayed during a shower scene to the look of "Gotcha" on Leo's face when he snares another character verbally in conversation.

Along the way, Berger does not forget that these are basically nice young people. Even Karinna who plays the foil for the three is mainly only straightforward in going after what she wants and eager for a new boyfriend. The protectiveness of Leo's parents is perfectly understandable: He is their only child, and he is blind. It is refreshing to see a movie in which the characters are played with such sympathy. "The Way He Looks" is simply one of the best coming of age movies, and coming out movies, that I have seen for some time.

The film on DVD is in Portuguese with the option of Spanish or English subtitles.

There are several extra features included on the DVD: a "Behind the Scenes" featurette, an Interview with Cast & Crew, the original YouTube short film on which this full movie was based and the film's theatrical trailer. There are, also, trailers for four other Strand movies: "Edge of 17," "Romeos," "Girlhood" and "Lilting."

This film is on my "Great & Good Gay Movies For The 2010's" Amazon Listmania List.

Ron's Grade: A+


Lilting [DVD]
Lilting [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ben Whishaw
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lilting: A Sad Speaking Of Different Tongues, 9 May 2015
This review is from: Lilting [DVD] (DVD)
In the interview he does in the Bonus Features, director Hong Khaou reveals that the character of the mother in "Lilting" is inspired partly by his own mother who has lived in Britain for thirty years and still does not know any English, and his own frustration with that fact. He, also, tells that in the original stage play, the young couple comprised a man and woman, but he always felt that something was lacking and that the story was missing a more powerful element. So, he changed it for the screen.

Openly-gay, British actor Ben Wishaw stars with renowned Chinese film star Cheng Pei-Pei and actor Andrew Leung. The cast is rounded out with veteran British actor Peter Bowles and a relative newcomer Naomi Christie. Christie plays the role of Vann, and she has an extra burden on her acting in her role of a translator in which so much of what she does involves her reactions to what she has to translate. She pulls that off well.

It is great to see two acting warhorses such as Peter Bowles and Cheng Pei-Pei on screen. I have to confess that it took me a little while to recognize Peter Bowles as being Richard DeVere from one of my favourite comedy shows ever "To The Manor Born." He nails his role down. As for Cheng Pei-Pei, she can show a world of emotion with just small changes in her facial expressions. One can watch anger build in her face, or see the rare moments of delight when she is with her son, or when she is listening to a Chinese version of a big band song.

Wishaw is a young British man who feels a responsibility to Cheng who is a Chinese-Cambodian in a retirement home. Tied together by their ties to Cheng's son, they are, also, tied by tragedy. In addition, Cheng is facing the tragedy of growing older in a strange land alone. They are divided by personal resentments, culture and language. The film illustrates the slow dance between them as they become more involved with each other. The in tandem performances of these two is one of the best parts of this film.

Ben Wishaw and Andrew Leung are quite appealing when they are together. This compatibility makes the viewer want to see more of them, and it makes the flashbacks more poignant. We see what Wishaw saw. This makes his character more comprehensible, and the viewer can understand how he is barely holding himself together, and at times, seems about to come apart. So much of this movie lies in the past with people who now are not sure how they are going to handle their future.

I cannot say that this is a cheerful film. There is no blissful happiness here, just the truth of the difficulties of aging and dealing with others close to us. When Cheng speaks from her heart near the end, I am sure those who are older, or know those who are older, will be able to empathize.

Bonus Features on the DVD comprise an Interview with Director Hong Khaou, the Short Film "Summer," Original Theatrical Trailer and the Strand Trailers: "Girlhood," "Stranger by the Lake," "The Way He Looks" and "Love is the Devil." In "Devil," one can see Daniel Craig before he became Bond; "Devil," also, stars Tilda Swinton and Derek Jacobi.

Ron's Grade B-


Hawaii [DVD]
Hawaii [DVD]
Dvd ~ Marco Berger
Offered by Gayfilmlover
Price: £7.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Hawaii: A Dreamy & Languid Island Of The Heart, 7 May 2015
This review is from: Hawaii [DVD] (DVD)
"Hawaii" is a film that demonstrates the power of the Internet and social media in its very genesis. Argentine auteur Marco Berger successfully raised the monies for this movie through a Kickstarter campaign, and those who contributed financially certainly received value for their money. It is a pastoral sojourn centred around a house in a small town in the Argentine countryside. The residence with its pool and the lush green lands' surrounding it create an enclosed little world, an island in which two men interact and come to know each other.

From the very first meeting of Eugenio, the intellectual who lives on the property, and Martin, the wayfarer who seeks employment, the chemistry between them is obvious. It is emphasized by the fact that they discover that they knew each other as boys and were playmates. Director Berger allows the relationship between the two to build slowly at a pace that is nearly glacial, more European in style than North American. There are periods of silence where the camera slowly reveals the characters expressions and the scenery around them.

Guileless, ever-so-appealing Martin shows all of his emotions in his face, and at times, with his body language. Much of the time you know just what he is thinking before he says anything. What he does conceal is revealed through his expressions as being troubling to him. Eugenio displays not just an attraction to Martin, but a caring for his welfare, as well, that reveals a sweet side to his nature. One nice thing that is a pleasant contrast to so many movies with gay characters is that it is shown by a visit by kin and by remembrances from the past that Eugenio comes from a happy, loving family.

In a dreamy, languid manner, director Berger, and actors Mateo Chiarino as Martin and Manuel Vignau as Eugenio, allow the story to evolve and for the men to show their growing affection for each other by glances, and by what they don't say as much as they do say. The things they do make sense and are not forced, and the viewer comes to like them and have a desire as to how he wants this tale to progress. It is refreshing to watch a film that features two good, decent human beings.

This is not a fast-paced film with either metaphorical or literal fireworks: It unfolds deliberately and quietly. It is a movie to watch in the evening with a glass of Argentine Malbec or Merlot when you are in a pensive mood and would like to see something soothing. The two actors and the lovely Argentine scenery deliver that. I do know that if Marco Berger ever turns to Kickstarter again to fund a project, I will definitely donate to him.

The movie on DVD is in Spanish with the option offered of English subtitles.

In addition to this film, the NTSC Region 1 DVD, also, has trailers for the movies: "Cal," "I'm A Porn Star," "Last Match," "Matterhorn" and "Truth."

This film is on my "Great & Good Gay Movies For The 2010's" Amazon Listmania List.

Ron's Grade: B+


Kawa: From the Writer of the Whale Rider [DVD] [2012] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Kawa: From the Writer of the Whale Rider [DVD] [2012] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kawa: Nearly A Perfect Middle-Aged New Zealand Life, 7 May 2015
Kawa is a highly successful New Zealand businessman with a pretty wife, a handsome son, who is training as a competitive swimmer, and an adorable daughter. He lives in a prosperous New Zealand world in which Maori and British New Zealanders interact and intermarry, and enjoy both cultures. He would seem to have it all, but he has a secret.

Based on the novel "Nights in the Gardens of Spain" by renowned Maori writer Witi Ihimaera, the story of Kawa and his extended family are brought to the screen in this film. Calvin Tutearo brings Kawa to life, showing the conflict he is experiencing and the consequences of his choices on himself and others. Nathalie Bolt evokes our sympathy as his wife who has done no wrong, and Vicki Haughton as his mother plays a Dragon Lady par excellence. George Henare is his father and patriarch of the clan, and Pana Hema-Taylor is his hunky son. (Hema-Taylor is known for his role on the TV show "Spartacus.")

One thing that this move does well is to show the lives of middle-class New Zealanders that get up and go to work every day and have normal lives. They live in nice homes and are surrounded by the natural beauty of New Zealand. 'Tis refreshing to see Maoris portrayed who are not experiencing all sorts of social problems and with whom many Maoris can certainly relate. What confronts Kawa and those around him are the realities that can afflict anyone. In his case, though the world may be changing for the young, it is changing more slowly for those who are older with established lives.

The DVD opens with a public service announcement about how important it is to gay cinema that its followers not download movies illegally or acquire pirated copies. That is a lesson that those who support gay movies should heed.

There are a series of trailers from Wolfe films included on the NTSC Region 1 DVD: "Leave it on the Floor," "August," "Suicide Room," "Private Romeo," "What Happens Next," " Mangus," "Kick Off," "Judas Kiss," "The Green" and "Undertow." These trailers should give the viewer an idea of films that he may want to see in the future.

Ron's Grade: B


Planet Dinosaur [DVD]
Planet Dinosaur [DVD]
Dvd ~ Nigel Paterson
Price: £5.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Planet Dinosaur: Dinosaur Dynamite!, 6 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Planet Dinosaur [DVD] (DVD)
"We are living in the golden age of Dinosaur discovery," intones the narrator at the beginning of "Planet Dinosaur." Then, in this series of shows, he demonstrates that, that is not an exaggeration: It is the honest truth. The creatures detailed here from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous are phenomenally fascinating, and they hold the attention of the viewer every second that they are on screen.

The CGI in this series is some of the best that I have ever seen in a nature documentary. There are times when one may as well be watching a BBC series on animals' living today with a narrator's telling of their life histories and dynamic interactions with other species. Cut in with the CGI are graphic glyphs that tell of the geological time, place and date of discovery of the fossils that form the basis of the creatures created herein. The computer images and the science behind them are absolutely first rate.

My copy of this DVD is one that I ordered from Amazon UK, and it is in PAL Region 2 format. As I have an all-regions DVD player, I can play it with no difficulties. The British version comprises two DVD's. I believe that the American version comprises the first British DVD with the second one's being omitted.

The first DVD comprises six episodes: Lost World, Feathered Dragons, Last Killers, Fight for Life, New Giants and The Great Survivors. The second DVD comprises a background feature, "How to Build a Dinosaur," that elucidates how the study of the fossils leads to the reconstruction of the dinosaurs that we see in museums and in films. It is hosted by one of Britain's best known presenters the very smart and attractive Dr. Alice Roberts.

In the first DVD, the series moves from Africa to China to the Lost Islands of Europe with their shallow, surrounding seas to the deeper oceans to North America and South America to the High Arctic to Madagascar. It is a world-wide exploration of dinosaur species, especially the new ones which have only recently been unearthed. Amongst some of those that have aroused the strong interest of the public are Africa's Spinosaurus with its huge back frill and the latest discoveries from the East.

"One country sits at the centre of a new Dinosaur revolution: China," says the narrator at the beginning of "Feathered Dragons." This is so very true. From a slight trickle of fossils with evidence of feathers, a flood has descended upon us. New feathered dinosaurs are constantly being brought to light. From the impressions of their feathers, it can be determined whether they were for display, warmth or flight. In some case, even the colours are known. The connection between birds and certain groups of Dinosaurs with a common ancestor's lying somewhere back in history is now irrefutable.

One of the great examples of parallel evolution is shown in the "Feathered Dragons" segment. A small, feathered Dinosaur with body feathers and large tail feathers for display, also, has large, gnawing, front teeth and and elongated fingers for prying out grubs and insects from trees. It is the reptilian, ecological equivalent of today's Aye-Aye in Madagascar. The huge evidence of evolution in Dinosaurs demonstrates the enormous genius of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace. The rules and laws of evolution developed by Darwin and Wallace do not just apply to the the animals of their day and today: They apply to Dinosaurs, too.

This is a superlative show. It will entertain and inform not just youngsters, but, also, adults, too. This is a show well worth having in one's DVD library.

Ron's Grade: A+


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