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Reviews Written by
Olga (o_levina@hotmail.com) (Moscow, Russia)

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Cats (Original London Cast Recording)
Cats (Original London Cast Recording)
Offered by westworld-
Price: £20.00

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy the cats choir!, 23 Oct. 2001
The distinction of this production from more recent variants and the movie is exactly the thing I appreciate. It's interesting to hear the same parts performed by different actors and it's even more interesting to find out how the musical has been changing through years. Every variant has its own advantages, so I would like to collect ALL of them! On this disk I was pleasantly surprised with Mungojerry and Rumpleteaser part. It sounds funnier than later dancing version. John Thornton and especially Bonnie Langford masterfully create images of two very mischievous kittens unlike more elegant pair of Drew Varley and Jo Gibb. Grawltiger's Las Stand is a very interesting part too. Billie McCow stylishly imitates some real cats' serenades that can be heard somewhere in yards in spring. The original cast is excellent (though I agree with a fan from London: Michael Gruber is unparalleled Munkustrap, my favourite one). Elaine Paige is as great as ever, and Brian Blessed has a splendid voice too. He makes Old Deuteronomy's parts sound like opera arias. Young Sarah Brightman with her high clear soprano presents wonderful Jemima. Well, there are a lot of moments to enjoy in this production. I would recommend everyone to buy this disk no matter what one wants: just to listen to the delicious ALW music or to discover more nuances about Cats.

Evita (VHS Video) [1997]
Evita (VHS Video) [1997]

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning! Better than one expects!, 22 Oct. 2001
The film is grand, combining Lloyd Webber's superb music, Hollywood's effects, masterfully direction and surprisingly fine actor's work. Antonio Banderas is a real star in the film; he adds passion, charm and humour to the story. It's a clever invention of Webber and Rice to introduce a narrator and commentator who helps the audience understand events better and makes us think. In fact Banderas does more than this. He portraits a complex character, angry, criticising, witty and even cynical on the one hand and very emotional with deep feelings and "impossible dreams" on the other. He makes Che one of the main heroes of the story. The last scene is very moving and tense, as Che confesses his sorrow for Evita and at the same time warns Peron of the future. Antonio's Spanish good looks and plasticity suit the role exactly. His singing is expressive and pleasant to hear, and the voice is very strong, good even to the hard parts such as The Lady's Got Potential (great moment, impossible for the stage). Madonna acts wonderfully. She really resembles Eva Duarte de Peron, and her performance is so believable and true that I forget sometimes I'm watching artificial scenes. I can't see the death scene without tears (How she lived, how she shined! But how soon the lights were gone!). However I'm not totally satisfied with Madonna singing. I do not mean that she sings badly, I only want to say that Elaine Paige sings much better. Nevertheless, some scenes (I'd Be Good For You, Rainbow High, You Must Love Me) I did like immensely, and her duets with Antonio I simply enjoyed (Goodnight And Thank You is very amusing, Waltz For Eva And Che is so spirited, it's a masterpiece). I also must mention Jonathan Pryce. He did great job as Peron. His every gesture, expression and look are correct, matching moments and situations. All crowd scenes in the movie are impressive and exciting, making you wishing to join the choir (A New Argentina, And Money Kept Rolling In And Out). I decided to watch the movie for the sake of ALW unforgettable music, but soon I found that Evita is more than a musical on the screen - it's classic. Director, producer, operators and actors did everything to create a powerful epic film, revealing struggles, splendour and tragedy of Eva Peron's life as well as giving a touch of unique Argentine 1940s atmosphere. I would earnestly recommend the film to everyone: it's dynamic, without one unnecessary moment, impressive and touching and full of inspiring music.

Titanic [VHS] [1998]
Titanic [VHS] [1998]
Offered by hessleoldbooks
Price: £10.39

2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A film to be seen on a large screen only, 18 Oct. 2001
This review is from: Titanic [VHS] [1998] (VHS Tape)
If I had to describe my impression from this film in one word, the word would be "irritation". James Cameron made a bad-tasted show of one of the greatest tragedies. The plot is simply stupid. The love-story of main characters is absolutely unbelievable and misplaced. It would be better to set such story on a board of some fictitious ship (resembling Titanic if you like). Meanwhile the film about Titanic itself must be as realistic as possible. However, if Cameron failed in presenting the tragedy of the disaster he succeeded in presenting its horror. Visual effects are great. I gave the film two stars for the sake of the only one scene - that one where the ship breaks into two pieces. It's really impressive on a large screen. Titanic becomes worth seeing only after the ship crashes into iceberg. And even then it is spoiled by absurd behavior of main characters. Furthermore the casting is bad. I liked only Billy Zane as villainous Cal and Victor Carber as unhappy constructor Mr. Andrews (and also some insignificant passengers and members of crew). DiCaprio can't act at all, Winslet is not very bad but the role is not for her. Well, may be it's not the worst film in the history of cinematography, but one thing is certain - I will never voluntary see it again!

Julius Caesar [VHS] [1953]
Julius Caesar [VHS] [1953]
Offered by scrumpyjane
Price: £6.25

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespearean text and the best 20th century�s actors, 18 Oct. 2001
Julius Caesar is one of my favourite plays and this film is one of my best-loved screen-versions of Shakespeare. The original text is brilliant and it sounds even more so in the film. Marlon Brundo is a perfect Marc Antony. He really looks like a Roman nobleman. I absolutely adore the scene, after Caesar's death, when Brutus and then Antony make their famous speeches. Both of them are so convincing and impressive. The reaction of the crowd is very well shown too. John Gielgud does his best as Cassius. In scenes of Cassius's arguments and dialogues with Brutus and other conspirators he maintains the highest standards of Shakespearean performances. I've seen the film about a dozen of times and I would recommend it to every one.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 10, 2016 9:10 PM BST

Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Royal Albert Hall Celebration [VHS] [1998]
Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Royal Albert Hall Celebration [VHS] [1998]

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid! Glorious! Unforgettable!, 18 Oct. 2001
The best ALW music performed by the greatest musicians and singers on the magnificent stage of Albert Hall - it is enough to make a delightful concert. Add impressive decorations, spirited acting of the performers and excellent choirs and dancers and you will get a superb show. During two hours you can enjoy lovely Joseph, clever Variations, dramatic Evita (only Paige's unique voice can reveal full splendor of Don't cry for me Argentina), dynamic Starlight Express, solemn Requiem, passionate Jesus Christ Superstar, beautiful and mysterious The Phantom of the Opera with exquisite Sarah Brightman as Christine, impressive Sunset Boulevard, interesting Whistle Down the Wind, wonderful Love Changes Everything (Aspects of Love), and of course famous Memory (another unforgettable performance from Elaine Paige). And the concert had to be so grand for the sake of Sir Andrew. I adore the moment when the entire cast sings "Happy birthday" to him. A charming scene! Furthermore, ALW presented his new masterpiece The Heart Is Slow to Learn sang by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, and a young star Lottie Mayor who performed Whistle Down the Wind in the most engaging manner with Sir Andrew himself at the piano. My favourite Jellicle Ball (Cats) was used as the brilliant conclusion of the concert. It's a show to enjoy again and again and again!

Cats  [VHS] [1998]
Cats [VHS] [1998]
Offered by Discountdiscs-UK : Dispatched daily from the UK.
Price: £5.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now and Forever!, 18 Oct. 2001
This review is from: Cats [VHS] [1998] (VHS Tape)
Fantastic! The best musical and the best show of all times makes a magnificent film. It has advantage of showing everything in details and details are grand. Scenery, costumes and make-up are perfect. Music is superb (especially Jellicle Ball and Macavity). The best thing about the movie is certainly the cast. Actors not only sing and dance splendidly but also imitate feline movements and manners amazingly well. And how do they act! I absolutely adore Michael Gruber as manly and handsome Munkustrap. Elaine Paige as Grizabella would leave nobody indifferent. Veerle Casteleyn with her wonderful eyes is the most touching Jemima, John Partridge is irresistibly attractive and funny Rum Tum Tagger, Phyllida Crawley-Smith is very graceful Victoria, Jacob Brent is charming Mistoffelees, Aeva May and Rosmary Ford make a beautiful pair of adult cats: reserved Demeter and sensuous Bombalurina. Sir John Mills is a little unexpected guest star, but he is perfect Gus the Theatre Cat ("the star of the highest degree"). Eliote's text is witty, and there are a lot of amusing scenes in the show. My favourite ones are The Gumbie Cat, Mangojerry and Rumpleteaser, Pekes and the Pollicles, Scimbleshanks the Railway Cat. Watching this film is an endless joy for my family and me.

Julius Caesar (Penguin Popular Classics)
Julius Caesar (Penguin Popular Classics)
by William Shakespeare
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare at his best, 18 Oct. 2001
The play is grand, one of my favourite. Though English is a foreign language for me I've read Julius Caesar in original without any particular difficulties and with great interest. The text is brilliant. The speeches made by both Brutus and Antony after Caesar's death are unforgettable masterpieces. No wonder they are so often quoted. I would also like mention Cassius's monologues while he argues with Brutus and creates his plans in the beginning of the play. They are most convincing and passionate as well as eloquent. I don't care whether Shakespeare deals with Roman history accurately or not. His presentation is very exciting and tragic. Every character, every word and every event are believable if not absolutely correct. I would rate Julius Caesar as high as Hamlet and Richard III.

The White Guard
The White Guard
by Michael Glenny
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

7 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The book of the author who is praised more than he deserves, 10 Oct. 2001
This review is from: The White Guard (Paperback)
...The White Guard reveals all the worst sides of the author's soul. The story tells about the Civil war at Kiev (Ukraine). Bulgakov describes destinies of members of the Turbin family and their friends who are "white". It is quite interesting to read about those events: treacherous generals who forsook the army and ordinary people who were thrown on an outrage of fate. Two bad things about this book are heavy style and characters, which are utterly unbelievable. At least I can't believe that a normal human being can feel such animal fear as describes Bulgakov. I believe he meant his personal experience. A concrete threat usually causes fury not horror. On the whole the book is very irritating. I prefer another Bulgakov's variant of the story - play Turbin's Days. However you should judge for yourself.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 23, 2011 7:18 PM GMT

Ruth (Penguin Classics)
Ruth (Penguin Classics)
by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

109 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than a tragic story of a deceived girl, 4 Oct. 2001
It's a shame that my review is the first one. Ruth is a classic, a must-read. Mrs. Gaskell deals in her novel with very serious problem of unmarried motherhood and double standards of judging men and women behavior. Why a wealthy young man who seduced and deserted a poor motherless girl is not to be blamed and not to pay for his guilt? And why a girl who has been too young, too innocent and too ignorant in sexual affairs is to suffer and to be an outcast in society? The heroine leads a virtuous life and does a lot of good after her so-called fall. Nevertheless the end of the book is tragic... Some critics find inconsistencies and exaggerations in the story. May be they are right. The author couldn't always choose the best way of presenting the heroine and circumstances. (Well, Hardy's more famous story of Tess of the DÚrbervilles is not also without faults.) Just imagine difficulties of writing of such book in Victorian society. Innocent as it is, Ruth was a scandal and was considered to be an improper reading for young people. Nowadays I would recommend the novel to any reader. It is interesting, intriguing, full of poetical nature descriptions and typical rural characters, the problem is sharp and up-to-day. Modern girls are neither naive nor ignorant. However... are they really wise in love affaires? Aren't they in danger of becoming voluntary victims of charming but spoiled young men? Read the book and judge for yourself.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 14, 2011 3:28 PM GMT

Mansfield Park (Everyman's Library Classics)
Mansfield Park (Everyman's Library Classics)
by Jane Austen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.66

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel about love and virtue, 3 Oct. 2001
19th century, the golden age of British literature, gave us a variety of talented authors including great female names. Jane Austen is one of them. Unfortunately her novels are not very popular nowadays. They don't possess demonic passions of Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte), drama of Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), tragedy of Ruth (Elizabeth Gaskell). Well, they have other advantages. Success of modern screen-versions of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma convince me that people still can enjoy Austen's stories, but they are not accustomed to calm and serious reading. Mansfield Park is may be the best novel by the author. It is mature, powerful and realistic. Fanny Price grows up as poor relative in the rich family of Bertrams. She suffers not from bad treatment, but from uncertainty of her position, neglect, lack of self-assurance and shyness. There are four children in the family, all of them elder than Fanny: light-headed Tom, serious Edmund, handsome Maria and Julia. Fanny loves Edmund secretly but he regards her as a sister. As new neighbors Crawfords appear the story becomes more animated and intriguing. Edmund fells in love with beautiful and brilliant Mary Crawford and she doesn't mind marrying him, her brother Henry flirts with all women, but then estimates modest and noble Fanny and pursue her, Maria, though a married woman, is obsessed with seductive Henry... The author teaches us to understand true people's self and not be deceived by their appearance and attitude. I enjoy Austen's style of writing. It is witty and lightly critical. There are a few of really satiric images such as Mrs. Norrice. The author in her expressions never breaks limits of old-fashion conversations in ladies drawing rooms but we can find a lot of clever hints to guess more than is said. The book is really fine. Have patience to start reading it carefully and you will enjoy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2012 5:44 PM GMT

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