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Profile for Dr. John D > Reviews

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Dr. John D (Brisbane QLD Australia)

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Ghosts of Mars [Limited Dual Format Edition] [Blu-Ray] [Region Free]
Ghosts of Mars [Limited Dual Format Edition] [Blu-Ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Ice Cube
Price: £22.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Better Left Alone!, 26 April 2017
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Some movies get a raw deal. They are released at the wrong time, or the critics are too slow to recognise quality. Some are just really clever and go over the heads of their putative audience, while others assume the audience is really clever enough to catch on to what they are doing. Still others get stuffed around by the production companies - director's cuts are re-edited and sometimes scenes are completely re-shot to suit the taste of a bean-counter.
For movies like that, there's nothing as sweet as a decent blu-ray release: the audience is targeted, the director's intentions are honoured and enough time has elapsed for the film's initially ignored virtues to shine forth.
Don't, oh don't, assume "Ghosts of Mars" is a movie like that. It isn't. It's cheap junk that entirely deserves the scathing reviews it received.

We are the Flesh [Blu-ray]
We are the Flesh [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Noe Hernández
Price: £8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How Can It Be So Boring?, 20 April 2017
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Extreme violence, graphic sex, degenerate acts - it takes real talent to take those elements and produce a movies that's boring, but our friend Emilio Rocha Minter has managed the task.
Pseudo-poetic monologues - clownishly delivered and written with all the insight 15 year old boys can manage - punctuated by scenes of ugly, scrawny people having sex when they should actually have been having a shower and a dose of antibiotics (off-camera, if you don't mind).
There's a funny bit (unintentional, I suspect) when a character masturbates until observing "It's my fate to be a Romantic" at which point he delivers a brief cumshot, rolls his eyes back and drops dead.
It ain't deep, kids. It ain't erotic. It ain't interesting. And it's certainly not worth your money.

The Gold Rush - Charlie Chaplin DVD
The Gold Rush - Charlie Chaplin DVD
Dvd ~ Charlie Chaplin
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie - Dud Version, 1 April 2017
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There really is no doubt that The Gold Rush is a marvellous movie. But this version is definitely not the one to get: it includes an annoying narration (yes, I know it's Chaplin's own, but it's still annoying) that really spoils the experience.

If you have multi-zoned equipment get the Criterion version.

The Iliad
The Iliad
by Homer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.25

5.0 out of 5 stars A fine versios, 22 Jan. 2017
This review is from: The Iliad (Hardcover)
Towards the end of his fine introduction Peter Green notes, almost as an aside, that he has been thinking about the challenges involved in translating 'The Odyssey' a bit lately.

I hope he takes the work upon himself, because his work here on 'The Iliad' is just splendid. The poetry is muscular but always flowing - none of the dire rhythmic jerks that make the Fagles such a chore to get through - and the action is always lucidly depicted. Amazingly, the new reader is never at a loss as to which 'side' a warrior is fighting for, nor for how the various fields of battle are shaped. Even more important - for me anyway - is that the intimacy of the poem is intact: the scene between Hektor and Andromache in bk. 6 is heart-wrenching.

Others are more capable than I am of assessing the accuracy or otherwise of this translation. But as a reading experience in English, this is by far the finest version of 'The Iliad' I have read. It deserves every success.

Dante in Love
Dante in Love
by A. N. Wilson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A mess, 2 Jan. 2017
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This review is from: Dante in Love (Hardcover)
There is something immediately appealing about the ambitions of this book: it sets out to explore the historical, theological and artistic world in which Dante was immersed as a means of easing a new reader's entry into the Comedy. There can be little argument that such a guide is welcome.

Unfortunately this is less useful than it might have been. The structure is confused and repetitious, the writing is rushed and very poorly edited. Sentences are clipped and, for want of a semi-colon, jerky. It is as if the editor sat down next to A.N. and said, "We need to avoid long sentences - they turn readers off. No problem starting your sentences with 'And...'! After all, people wanting to read Dante wont care about those things!"

Worse, A.N. asserts - with no evidence - that the Comedy portrays a rebellious attitude against Catholicism and speculates (again, on the basis of nothing) the Dante may have indulged in some recreational buggary with Brunetto Latini. It is as if he can't resist projecting the current existential crises sweeping Anglicanism onto the Comedy.

If you care about Anglicanism (I don't) that might be of interest to you. But if you are wanting an introduction to Dante, it's a self-indulgent, unhelpful approach.

Engelbert Humperdinck: Haensel und Gretel Blu Ray (Blu ray) [Blu-ray] [2016]
Engelbert Humperdinck: Haensel und Gretel Blu Ray (Blu ray) [Blu-ray] [2016]
Dvd ~ Christian Thielemann
Price: £14.02

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Deserved better, 14 Nov. 2016
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A gorgeous production - maybe a little sugary, but let's not be snarky. The visual quality of the blu-ray, however, is poor. Movements are often slightly jerky, as if the whole thing is a less-than-perfect download. Not good enough for a blu-ray, and particularly disappointing given the quality of the production.

As the previous (excellent) review notes, the price of the disc is somewhat lower than we might expect to pay for opera. I hope that's not a result of cutting costs in quality control! As it stands I would prefer to pay more for blu-rays but feel confident I am getting my money's worth. That's not the case here.

Caveat emptor.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2016 11:12 PM GMT

Mozart: Die Zauberflote (DECCA The Originals)
Mozart: Die Zauberflote (DECCA The Originals)
Price: £17.02

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous, but talkative, 5 July 2016
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More experienced listeners than I have written fine endorsements of this wonderful recording and I can best serve readers concerned with recording and musical quality to those wise souls. From my perspective, this is beautiful.

So why am I writing this?

Because I have a caveat to share. I don't enjoy recorded dialogue on opera recordings. It's boring and soon out-lives its welcome. Unfortunately, Decca have not separately indexed dialogue tracks here, which makes it very difficult to avoid. True, if you rip the CDs into iTunes you can edit the tracks, but that's a lot of trouble to go to.

So 5 stars for this beautiful record, 3 stars for Decca.

Bach: St Matthew Passion
Bach: St Matthew Passion
Price: £14.67

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the Checklist, 18 Jan. 2016
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It depends what you're looking for.

If you want to come to the end of this timeless masterpiece feeling Quiet, moved maybe, but not really in a way that words can explain - then this is one of the recordings you will want to own (along with the terminally unfashionable Klemperer recording).

If on the other hand you want to come to the end of it thinking "OK, great - now I can put a tick next to this is my copy of "1001 Pieces of Classical Music You Must Here Before You Cark It"; you'll no doubt want a recording that gets it over in double-time. In that case there are plenty of HIP recordings out there, some of which get it down to two discs! Imagine that! I reckon with one of those you'll be able to cross off the Passion AND still have time for the "Mass in B minor" before dinner.

You won't have really heard the St. Matthew Passion, but you'll get through those 1001 classics really easily. Win-win.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2016 9:38 AM GMT

St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas Aquinas
by G. K. Chesterton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.50

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 7 April 2015
This review is from: St. Thomas Aquinas (Paperback)
As a series of meditations on Aquinas this is very fine indeed. Even when the reader disagrees with GKC he provides wonderful company and never fails to both entertain, inform and provoke.

But as an introduction to Aquinas it is well-nigh useless. There are three reasons for this:

1. the book treats events in the saint's life and the controversies with which he engaged as if the reader already has a basic knowledge of the issues. Frankly it assumes too much. Now that may well be a reflection on the parlous state of my general knowledge (although I doubt it), but regardless, it still fails to genuinely introduce the topic. It's a meditation for the already-versed, not a starting point.

2. the treatment of Buddhism and Islam is terribly dated and less than accurate. That matters because GKC often uses one or the other as foils for his treatment of Aquinas. Such an approach is let-down by a generalised and highly questionable depiction of those faiths.

3. the treatment of Augustine is risible. The dichotomy GKC sets up between the Aristotlean Aquinas and Augustine the quasi-Neo-Platonist just doesn't fit the facts. It's too sweeping a generalisation and it's awfully clumsy.

I approached this with high hopes, loving 'Orthodoxy' and 'The Everlasting Man' for many years, and eager to learn about Aquinas. It didn't fit the bill.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2016 4:52 PM GMT

The Borderlands [DVD]
The Borderlands [DVD]
Dvd ~ Luke Neal
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: £4.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Good Build-Up, 11 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Borderlands [DVD] (DVD)
This started really well - and while it took 'slow-burn' to a new level, a grim tone was well-established by the excellent cast.
Like so many horror movies, it struggles to find an ending worthy of the build-up, and I found the 'reveal' to be a disappointment.
Still worth watching for fans of the genre.

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