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Michael Bo (Frederiksberg Denmark)

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Long Day's Journey Into Night [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Long Day's Journey Into Night [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hepburn deserves better than this, 12 Nov. 2004
Ageing morphinist Mary Tyrone slides headlong into madness and addiction as the hours pass in the country house with husband James, a hammy and has-been matiné idol, and sons Edmund, dying from pneumonia, and James Jr., an aggressive drunk.
Eugene O'Neill's play was only a slightly dramatized account of his own family life when he was a kid. The play, of which Lumet's TV film is a very loyal depiction, is pretty predictable in the way it stages its climaxes and obvious in its carefully sketched opposites, but it has a basic, driven energy that holds up even now.
So, was Katharine Hepburn ever better than in the virtuoso part as Mary Tyrone? She has done movies that are far better, but was she herself ever more convincing? You are never allowed to forget that this is play-acting, not a slice of real life, but it is still quite riveting to watch her, and I am overawed at her willingness to take risks. She and her three co-stars all were awarded the year's acting awards at Cannes, but the years haven't been kind to Ralph Richardson's outrageously histrionic Tyrone, far more superficial and complacent than even Tyrone the Ham himself would have played it.
The studio did not do a good job with their alleged digital restoration of 'Long Day's Journey'. Frankly, the DVD looks awful, scratchy and blurry.

Nicholas Nickleby [DVD] [2003]
Nicholas Nickleby [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Charlie Hunnam
Price: £4.37

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No reservations, 12 Nov. 2004
I dare anybody to watch this Dickens film through with dry eyes! Anybody that claims he or she did has a nonchalant way with the truth, if you ask me.
Director McGrath has made a number of tough, but altogether valid choices concerning what to skip and what to keep in his film of Dickens' marathon novel in order to keep the running time just barely within two hours. I can just see Dickens nodding benignly from up above. Charlie Hunnam is angelic, but also unsentimental as the gentle Nicholas, separated from his mother and sister, as after the death of his father they surrender themselves to the mercy of his cynical brother. The heart of the plot is Nicholas' friendship with the cripple Smike (Jamie Bell is brilliant, simply brilliant), a boy that he saves from the archetypal sadistic Dickensian orphanage.
McGrath's film is positively brimming with eloquent supporting actors, and in the late autumn of his career Christopher Plummer proves himself to be quite the actor in what may amount to his best part ever as the cruel uncle.
I can even recommend the extras on the extra DVD, they are to the point and for once not a complete waste of time.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 15, 2012 10:00 PM BST

24th Day [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
24th Day [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £4.98

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty boys are having a feast, 12 Nov. 2004
Tom (Scott Speedman) picks up Dan (James Marsden) in a gay bar, pins him down to take a blood sample and holds him hostage until Dan's HIV test arrives to announce whether he is the guy that infected bisexual, married Tom five years ago in Tom's only ever gay tryst. If Dan proves to be positive himself, Tom is going to cut his throat - but literally.
In long stretches the low budget of this film is quite annoying, as we witness playwright-director Tony Piccirillo go out of his way to disguise the fact that there was no money to work with. Some of the visuals, such as the repetitive and meaningless flashbacks and the jarring way of editing at times, are really annoying, but just as you are about to give up on it, you find yourself increasingly absorbed by the drama, not least because pretty boys Marsden & Speedman are up to the challenge. Surprise. The two teen idols are having a feast with the first really meaty parts of their respective careers, and they succeed in maintaining sympathy for their characters (no mean feat, as they are quite multi-faceted).
Not a great film, far from it, but it has energy and fine acting.

Prince & Me [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Prince & Me [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Really sweet nonsense, 12 Nov. 2004
Ambitious college girl, Paige, from small-town Wisconsin, meets and falls in love Edvard, an exchange fellow-student from Denmark who acts high and mighty, and ultimately turns out to be the crown prince, aka upcoming king of Denmark, and before she knows it she is being groomed for queen.
Well, nothing here quite stands up for inspection, historically and politically this is ludicrous. BUT, as an affable teenage romantic comedy it has lots to offer. Julia Stiles and Luke Mably are really sweet together, and the proces of their falling in love is depicted in a bewitching, very poignant fashion that completely seduced me. "Are there lots of princes where you come from or are you IT?", Paige asks right after the Danish paparazzi discovered the two of them in flagrante delicto, which is when she finds out who her beau actually is, and that, to me, is a very cute line. Huge chunks of this movie are silly or, at best, incongruous, such as having Edvard speaking in perfectly stilted upperclass English, and the queen, his alleged mother, in a bad German accent.
Sweet and affecting though it is, the film is much to long for its own good. After Paige pursuits the crown prince to Copenhagen, the plot drowns in etiquette and coy culture clashes.

Franck; Strauss, R; Widor - Sonatas for Flute and Piano
Franck; Strauss, R; Widor - Sonatas for Flute and Piano

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warmth and spontaneity, 11 Nov. 2004
You have to admire an artist like the charismatic Swiss flautist Emmanuel Pahud. He just won't budge. Very few of the big composers wrote anything for the flute, Mozart is believed to have actively detested the instrument. And yet, Pahud continues to carve out his own niche as a brilliant modern instrumentalist who "just happens" to play the flute, and he is an exceedingly eloquent advocate, one with stamina and talent, and with commercial potential to boot.
He has worked with pianist Eric le Sage before, and they continue to be a wonderfully musical partnership, dedicated to exchanging ideas about music that are exciting, modern and organic. The formatting of the Richard Strauss violin sonata to fit the flute succeeds remarkably well, and the duo avoid any empty virtuosity. Both instrumentalists seek to overcome boundaries and challenge established conceptions, but they also have a delicacy and warmth of phrasing that makes this new CD a regular on my set. Just sample the third movement of the Widor sonata, the sheer joyful teaming up of kindred spirits, and the A major sonata by Franck, the best known piece of the CD, interpreted with passion and heart.

Vivaldi - Concertos for the Emperor
Vivaldi - Concertos for the Emperor

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb CD, 28 Oct. 2004
If only I could look old Vivaldi in the face to see how he would react to the extreme interest being aroused in his music these years. Not least the Italian ensemble Venice Baroque Orchestra opened our eyes to the wealth and variety of Vivaldi's concertos, and now sublime violinist Andrew Manze has taken his newly adopted orchestra, The English Concert, into these Venetian realms as well.
And how! This is a superb CD, one of the best I have listened to all year, and a flat contradiction of the prejudice that Vivaldi spent his whole life writing the same concerto over and over again. These specific concertos were written in 1728 for Habsburgian Emperor Charles 6th and they demonstrate that nothing in either technical or philosophical terms was alien to Vivaldi.
The third movement of the C major concerto is reassuring as it shows us the buoyantly, irrepressibly melodious Vivaldi, but then there is all the rest. The way Manze on his violin opens the Cantabile, the second movement of the E major concerto, is telling and wonderfully musical, undaunted, matter of fact, in the face of intimidating opposition, you sense, of a metaphysical nature. Manze's violin has the gutsy Baroque sheen that I cannot live without, and with the orchestra he delivers not only great beauty but also an enormous variety of colours and expression.
Buy it, Baroque music does not get any better than this.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers [DVD] [1956]
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers [DVD] [1956]
Dvd ~ Hugh Marlowe
Price: £7.44

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome scifi, 18 Oct. 2004
Whatever your prejudices against the genre, this is one 1950s scifi that you owe it to yourself to watch. I am only gradually becoming convinced that the genre is worthwhile, and this title is a jewel in its crown. So what if the director and even all its stars are complete unknowns, and that the special effects director Ray Harryhausen is the most household name here.
The film is so well-scripted that modern-day scifi epics ought to take notice and make a little more effort. Relationships are beautifully and organically interwoven, and the spectacular scenes of destruction are sublimely imaginative and astonishingly well-crafted, not likely to be forgotten any day soon.

Deanna Durbin Sweetheart Pack [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Deanna Durbin Sweetheart Pack [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £14.43

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I fell in love with the lot, 10 Oct. 2004
Classically trained songbird Deanna Durbin was Judy Garland's foremost competitor, often more popular even, in those sumptuous days of Hollywood musicals of yore.
This DVD set of six titles on no more than two discs is indispensable to anyone with the faintest interest in classical Hollywood hokum. I wasn't prepared to fall in love with these films, watched them only out of a sense of duty to film history. Homework, as it were. But how much fun was had!
There are regular gems hidden here. 'Lady on a Train' is a masterpiece of an audacious mix between screwball and noir, in the tradition of 'The Cat and the Canary', but actually more secure in its nonchalant blending of one with the other. It is such uproarious fun and still elementally thrilling.
'First Love', an updating of the Cinderella legend with Durbin and glamorous puppy hunk Robert Stack, is charming and brings tears of bliss to your eyes, and its humour is drier than wood!
'It Started With Eve' is the story of a poor girl being presented to a dying tycoon (wonderful Charles Laughton) by his nephew who claims she is his fiancé. The tycoon survives, and the trap springs on the young couple. Extremely amusing, although very light-weight.
'Can't Help Singing' is a well-produced western musical in full Technicolor with lovely songs by Jerome Kern, although as a film it is entirely forgettable. 'Something in the Wind', about the lady discjockey who is being confused with her aunt who was the mistress of a wealthy man, is naughty and funny, but the oldest one of the set, 'Three Smart Girls', never made an impression on me.
DVD versions are nice to look at. Warmly recommended.

Hulk [DVD] [2003] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Hulk [DVD] [2003] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by mh trading
Price: £14.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intensely watchable, 15 Sept. 2004
Die-hard Marvel Comics fans seem disgruntled by Ang Lee's spectacular movie drama, but for the uninitiated, of which I am one, 'Hulk' is quite a magnificent endeavour, and an intensely watchable one.
I was prepared to find Ang Lee's angle too intellectually coy for the subject matter, too highly idiosyncratic in its editing, too pretentious in its reading of a legend of trivial culture. But on the contrary I was mightily entertained by the sheer inventiveness of the bulk of the 'Hulk' and the totally involved acting by all involving, from the hunky Eric Bana as an improbably geeky scientist whose wacko father used him as a guinea pig when he was a child, so now, as an adult he changes into a greenish but very, very powerful Michelin man whenever he gets annoyed and there are enough obstacles out there to keep him annoyed ... a lot! Nick Nolte as the father, an over-the-top hippie anarchist, is simply brilliant.
No film could be further from Ang Lee titles such as the self-consciously artistic 'The Ice Storm' than 'Hulk', but Lee doesn't short-change his audience where meaning is concerned. 'Hulk' has more than its share of Jungian philosophy, and has, obviously, the most extreme father complex in any film. Ever!
I sincerely recommend 'Hulk' to viewers out to have a night of good fun, audiences that won't mind having to overlook the occasional absurdity, and won't sit there comparing every single frame of it with the original comic-strip. Come on, they are two different media! It's like expecting a movie to look exactly, or even remotely, like the book it was based upon.
You have to respect the film medium as film, comparisons between this and the Marvel comic don't make sense.

Alexander's Ragtime Band [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Alexander's Ragtime Band [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by passionFlix UK
Price: £7.73

16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tiny cracks between the songs, 13 Sept. 2004
To me, this was the first of the Fox DVD classics to actually disappoint. 'Alexander's Ragtime Band' is anything but a neglected masterpiece, but rather a quite annoying musical about the leader of a swing band (Tyrone Power who, sadly, has nothing better to do in this movie than just stand there waving his hands with the stick and smile harmlessly) and his on-off affair with a singer (pretty Alice Faye), and their best friend (charming Don Ameche) is the man caught in the middle. World War I comes and goes and serves as no more than a photo opportunity for Power in military gear.
The challenge for director Henry King and for the script writers has been to stuff enough of a plot down in the tiny cracks in between the 28 songs (!!!), some good ones and a lot of very ordinary ones, by Irving Berlin. The restoration done on this title doesn't impress me either, the picture looks gray and tired and doesn't offer much contrast.
Movie debutante Ethel Merman steals the picture again and again, but has very little to do dramatically.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 1, 2008 5:31 PM BST

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