Thursday, November 29, 2007

Contact (1997)

Get ready to take a chance on something that just might end up being the most profoundly impactful moment for humanity, for the history... of history.

In 1985, Pulitzer-prize winning author and astronomer Carl Sagan (1934-1996) wrote a brilliant "what-if" scenario in his novel entitled "Contact". In the novel, Carl Sagan created a scenario in which his protagonist, a radio astronomer named Dr. Eleanor Ann 'Ellie' Arroway, discovers an extraterrestrial radio transmission that is clearly from an intelligent alien source. The discovery causes intense debate between the proponents of science, religion and government that eventually leads to some very compelling questions on the nature of faith itself. In 1997, the novel was transformed into a film of the same name under the direction of the well-known director Robert Zemeckis, who had previously directed "Forrest Gump" (1994, for which Zemeckis won the Oscar for Best Director), "Death Becomes Her" (1992), "Back to the Future" (1985) and "Romancing the Stone" (1984).

Carl Sagan, with assistance from writers Ann Druyan, James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg, slightly modified the original story by giving Dr. Arroway (played by Jodie Foster) a more personal adversary in another astronomer, Dr. David Drumlin (played by Tom Skerritt). At the beginning of the film, a brief exploration of Dr. Arroway's childhood (played by Jena Malone) is provided that helps to establish her purely scientific perception of reality that resulted in part from the passing away of her father, Ted Arroway (David Morse), who had also encouraged her love of science, astronomy and radio communications. As an astronomer, Dr. Arroway dedicated her work to the SETI project (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), which Dr. Drumlin considers frivolous and potentially damaging to Dr. Arroway's credibility. With her governmental funding cut, Dr. Arroway eventually gets private funding after she approaches one of the world's richest and most influential men, S. R. Hadden (John Hurt). With funding secured, Dr. Arroway's search continues at the Very Large Array (VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico. With her unorthodox method of personally listening to outer space static, Dr. Arroway suddenly and unexpectedly hears a bizarre set of sounds. She immediately gets her team, which includes Kent Clark (William Fichtner), busy working on analyzing the signal, which likely comes from an extraterrestrial source. Once verified, she announces her discovery to the world via the news media, to the disdain of governmental officials including Dr. Drumlin, National Security Advisor Michael Kitz (James Woods) and then President Bill Clinton (himself via archive footage). It also gains explosive response from very religious individuals who don't necessarily share Dr. Arroway's enthusiasm, except for Father Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey), whom Dr. Arroway met in Puerto Rico in a more than casual sense. The content of the message itself raises some very large questions.

What really brought Carl Sagan's vision to life in "Contact" was placing it within a contemporary timeframe. This included the use of many real events, people and places that included CNN, the VLA, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and many cameos from current politicians the television personalities (Jay Leno, Larry King, Geraldine A. Ferraro, Geraldo Rivera to name only a few). Also, Robert Zemeckis placed actors within archival footage in much the same way as he did with the film "Forrest Gump" in 1994. All of this, as well as superb acting from the principal actors (Jodie Foster, Tom Skerrit, Matthew McConaughey, John Hurt, William Fichtner and James Woods), great cinematography, wonderful sets and great special effects make this a brilliant film. Other memorable characters include Rachel Constantine (Angela Bassett), Richard Rank (Rob Lowe), the NASA Mission Director (Tucker Smallwood) and Joseph (Jake Busey). Some of the most memorable scenes in the film include Dr. Arroway hearing the message at the VLA, the public response, the political discussions, Dr. Arroway meeting S.R. Hadden, the machine, Dr. Arroway's relationship with Palmer, the pinnacle event and its aftermath.

Overall, I rate "Contact" with a resounding 5 out of 5 stars. In my opinion, it portrays many very probable debates and reactions if astronomers ever actually do discover intelligent extraterrestrial communication signals. I applaud Carl Sagan for his vision, as well as Robert Zemeckis and the many actors and other people involved with the making of this very engaging and compelling film. By M. Hart "Sci-Fi Fan"

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yonna in the Solitary Fortress (2006)

Yonna in the Solitary Fortress AKA Hanare Toride no Yonna
is an interesting little half-hour diversion that’s relatively well paced and tells a nice, self-contained story (even if it is a bit confusing for something so simple!). The animation is lovely if you can look past some of the oddities, and it’s all the more impressive given the independent nature of the film.

In a far away land, a girl named Yonna and her brother live in a fortress together. Because she possesses a mysterious power, she isolates herself to all except her brother. Those seeking Yonna’s power visit the fortress every day, but her brother does not permit them to enter.
One day, a boy visits Yonna. It puzzles Yonna to finally meet someone who is accepting of her. However, her brother, advised by an enigmatic monster, attempts to kill him. With no regard for his own life, the boy tries to escape with Yonna. At that moment, she is going to embark to the future beyond her faint hope. What lies in store for her over the distance?


Language: Japanese
English hardsubbed.

Official Site:
Torrent: here

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ik ook van jou (2001) AKA "I Love You Too"

AKA I Love You Too

The Dutch romantic drama 'Ik Ook Van Jou' (I Love You Too) is based on a novel by Ronald Giphart. A student begins an affair with a young woman who is overcome with borderline personality disorder. The relationship quickly goes down a dark and destructive path. Starring Antoine Kamerling, Angela Schijf, and Beau van Erven Dorens. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

Review by: David M. Johnson

“I Love You Too” is an unrated foreign film from the Netherlands. No one has reviewed it and as far as I can tell it only barely exists.

Yet, when I rented the film one particularly boring night cleaning my apartment it also happen to be the top rated foreign film on MovieLink. I’m always up for something new so decided to rent it. Although I must admit, the ‘NR-18’ rating, promise of some soft-core porn and the fact that the film was only $1.00 certainly helped encourage me.

The opening scene of the film is bizarre beyond all belief. To be perfectly blunt I almost turned it off. A man is naked upon a cross as a barely dressed woman with red spiked hair stalks him in the woods. She approaches and begins to sexually arouse him backs off, pulls out of a knife and proceeds to cut something off he probably thought he’d be using.

Yes at times it’s that kind of movie.

The story is told from a bizarre perspective. As two best friends are on a vacation hiking and rafting, they meet two woman and the majority of the story is told through as a flashbacked story Eric tells the girl he is now courting about his relationship with an ex-girlfriend Reza.

Eric starts as a well-to-do son of a wealthy family (that lives in a castle no less) who is studying to be a lawyer. His current girlfriend is just as well-to-do and just as refined as he is. He’s 24 and a virgin, so is she.

After a failed sexual encounter on his 24th birthday, he goes out to celebrate only to end up taking home a severely drunk woman, Reza, who collapses on his parents couch. Well, needless to say one things leads to another and before long nakedness and the like ensues.

Well, needless to say Eric isn’t going to pass up this opportunity and bang a relationship begins.

While at first the relationship is nominally about how many times they can have sex in a row, they start to become attached to each other and a real relationship starts to form. Eric grows as a person, stops becoming a law student and gives himself over to being a writer full of emotion. Reza becomes more and more emotional as well, becoming unhealthily attached to Eric and starting some destructive behavior cutting herself.

In the end this wasn’t the kind of soft-core late night cable style porn that I expected at the opening scene. While the supporting cast in this film leaves much to be desired, Antonie Kamerling and Angela Schijf who play Eric and Reza deliver some truly believable performances.

And perhaps much to my surprise, the sex in the film isn’t gratuitous and included simply because it might sell a few more DVD’s. It actually contributes to the story and often is used a plot device within the story.

Reza and Eric prove to be interesting characters as well. Reza is so unwilling to be open with someone and yet shows some bouts of incredible emotional attachment. She is upset that Eric has an erection in the morning convinced that he has another woman in the room. Her cutting gets worse and worse as her self-consciousness about everything leads her to harm herself in increasingly dangerous ways.

Eric becomes frustrated at their relationship and removes himself from it as much as possible while never able to fully free himself, even in the closing scenes we realize just how much these two people care about each other, despite all the yelling and screaming they’ve made each other better people.

And yet, then there are the non-flashback scenes. Horribly acted and pointlessly directed scenes that seem to only fill the purposes of providing a backdrop for the narration. The character development of everyone else is transparent that there’s almost no point in watching them because their actions have been played out by every clichéd moment in a thousand movies before this one.

In the end I left only mildly satisfied at the film. While it provided an interesting backdrop for some interesting characters in a love/sex story it never really got deep enough below the surface of their relationship.

Perhaps this is best illustrated by a scene in which Reza invites Eric over to watch their parents dogs, only to completely trash the apartment, get completely drunk and have wild sex all over the living room only to have their parents walk in on them. Afterwards they take a walk out in the rain, during which Reza sweetly picks some flowers for Eric and manages to talk her way out of getting arrested.

While kind of a cute scene in itself, director Ruud van Hemert passes up this opportunity to connect these two aspects of their relationship and to help them evolve a bit more as people. They are two interesting scenes without much to connect them into perspective.

It’s this connection that develops art into something timeless. Juxtaposition and contrast and not just a good idea are needed to make an in depth emotional impact on an audience. “I Love You Too” often falls just short of doing this.

And for anyone considering renting this on MovieLink, yes there’s a lot of sex and no it isn’t porn. Maybe it is what porn should be, where the characters have feelings and care about each other – and if you skipped through most of this review, maybe you’d be better off renting ‘Girls with Low Self Esteem.’

Thanks Echte Tinus for the screens

Torrent: here or here
English subs: here

# Format : XviD
Audio : MPEG-1 Layer 3, 44100Hz 128 kb/s total (2 chnls)
Language : DUTCH
Frame : WS (672x368)
Run Time : 1:31:53
File Info:1CD=50*RaR15MB,cover,sample,SFV,NFO.
Film is gebrand op CD en afgespeeld op standallone DviX speler, werkt prima.

Absolute MP3 Splitter Converter

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Torrent: here

My Way: The Best Of Frank Sinatra

This two-CD Reprise "Import" collection includes among its 46 selections many of the very best recordings Frank Sinatra ever made. Count this reviewer among those who believe FS produced his very best performances during the first years of his own record label in the early Sixties---and not during "The Capitol Years" in the Fifties (please see my review for "The Very Best of Frank Sinatra"). The simple fact is Sinatra didn't reach the peak of his vocal powers until 1963---three years after the first Reprise recordings represented here.

It's now fully 40 years since two of these selections, "Bewitched" and "America the Beautiful," were recorded for what the singer himself considered his crowning achievement (in the bel canto, operatic style) --- "The Concert Sinatra" album. Almost 30 years elapsed before "America the Beautiful" finally was released on the 4-CD Reprise box set. For "The Concert Sinatra" arranger/conductor Nelson Riddle assembled, on the singer's orders, his largest-ever symphony orchestra, recorded on a huge sound stage at the MGM film studios. Riddle claimed near the end of his life, that he never saw the singer better prepared or more focussed for a recording session.

Among other highlights of this splendid 2-CD collection are:

- The opening track from the June 1962 "Great Songs from Great Britain" album---the Ray Noble classic "The Very Thought of You" arranged/conducted by Robert Farnon.
- Three from the 1961, Don Costa arranged "Sinatra and Strings" album, which many consider the singer's best `ballads' from the Reprise years: "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Night and Day" and "All or Nothing at All."
- Sinatra's best version (with Nelson Riddle) of the Glen Miller/Mitch Parish classic "Moonlight Serenade" from the "Moonlight Sinatra" album; also, what many fans consider the singer's very best `swinger'---arranged by Riddle in the early 60s---the Kern & Fields Oscar winner "Just the Way You Look Tonight."
- Great tunes from his earliest Reprise (1960) recordings for the classic "Ring-a-Ding Ding!" album---the only one arranged by composer ("Shadow of Your Smile") Johnny Mandel. Among those: Berlin's "Let's Face the Music and Dance."
- Definitive re-recordings of Capitol-era classics such as "I Get a Kick Out of You" (arranged by Neal Hefti) and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" which finds the singer in perfect voice, and with a revised (even better?) Riddle arrangement. Also worth noting: markedly improved sound quality achieved at Reprise (compared to the Capitol Years) by the best engineers in the best Hollywood recording studios.

This collection provides (arguably) the best overall mixture of `old and new' Sinatra, ever assembled on two CDs. The 46 tracks here include all-time best sellers---disdained perhaps by some as `weak tea' compared to the strong meat of the Great American Songbook, otherwise well represented in this collection. Yet those same commercial hits struck a chord with `baby boomers' that was key to re-establishing Sinatra's career in the Beatles' era----and beyond to a fifth, then a sixth decade of public performances. To borrow a phrase from song titles here, it's from these songs that the "best" (really was) "yet to come" at Reprise Records---as well the (very) "bad, bad." Whatever your tastes, be certain at least 40 of these tunes you'll love and never tire of playing. Could we name other great singers whose "best of" compilations could meet those criteria? By Mark Blackburn


1. My Way
2. Strangers In The Night
3. Theme From New York New York
4. I Get A Kick Out Of You
5. Somethin' Stupid
6. Moon River
7. What Now My Love
8. Summer Wind
9. For Once In My Life
10. Love And Marriage
11. They Can't Take That Away From Me
12. My Kind Of Town
13. Fly Me To The Moon
14. I've Got You Under My Skin
15. The Best Is Yet To Come
16. It Was A Very Good Year
17. Come Fly With Me
18. That's Life
19. The Girl From Ipanema
20. The Lady Is A Tramp
21. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
22. Mack The Knife
23. Love's Been Good To Me
24. L.A. Is My Lady
1. Let's Face The Music & Dance
2. Come Rain Or Come Shine
3. Night And Day
4. The Very Thought Of You
5. Pennies From Heaven
6. Bewitched
7. America The Beautiful
8. All The Way
9. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
10. The Way You Look Tonight
11. Three Coins In The Fountain
12. Softly As I Leave You
13. All Or Nothing At All
14. Yesterday
15. Moonlight Serenade
16. Somewhere My Love
17. Mrs. Robinson
18. Something
19. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
20. Send In The Clowns
21. It Had To Be You
22. The Best Of Everything

Torrent: here

Monday, November 19, 2007

Beyond Atlantis (1973)

Their Spawning Ground ... The Ocean Depths!

A band of adventurers invade a native island determined to grab a reported fortune in buried treasure. The islanders are just as determined to keep their sacred treasure. Complications ensue.

This is a decent movie. Hollywood has had a fascination with Atlantis like everyone else. This flick is no different. For it's time it's well made. Director Eddie Romero gets a couple of nice shots and without the use of special effects manages to add in nice cinematography.

The acting on the cast on this decent if not good. Essentially this is a "don't mess with us" type of allegory with the people of Atlantis vs. The Outside World (in this case in the form of greedy and murderous treasure hunters). The people of Atlantis are dead serious about protecting their homeland. Leigh Christian who plays Syrene, the lead Atlantian who is looking for love is very good in her role.

Unlike her people, she wants contact with the outside world and is very naive towards the words of men. Then the people of Atlantis are somewhat stern in their ways even forcing her to mate with her own kind. However, after you look at the men in this movie it's not hard to see why they are all scumbags here.

It's essentially like I said an allegory and there is more acting than action for the large bulk of the film till the exciting finale. Still "Beyond Atlantis" is worth tracking down. (By GreatMovieCriticForever)

Torrent: no longer available
Language: English
Subs: Dutch hardsubbed

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Randy Newman - Lonely At the Top (1987)

'Lonely At The Top' is the best possible introduction to one of the most overlooked musical geniuses of the 20th century. If you're not familiar (or only briefly familiar) with the music of Randy Newman then this compilation will give you a fantastic selection of classics from the various stages of his career, from the charming pop ballads of his first album ('Love Story', 'Living Without You' and 'I Think It's Going To Rain Today'), through the cold, sharp sarcasm of Sail Away ('Political Science', 'God's Song', 'Sail Away'), and to the fantastic 80s guitar pop of 'Little Criminals' ('Jolly Coppers on Parade', 'Short People'). Eace and every one of the songs here is memorable, great songs like 'Rider In The Rain', 'My Old Kentucky Home', 'Rednecks', the disturbing 'Christmas in Capetown' and of course the unforgettable hit 'Lonely At The Top'. Slightly odd is the exclusion of the massive hit 'You Can Leave Your Hat On'; otherwise, for the casual listener, 'Lonely At The Top' is all the Randy Newman you should need (though, of course, it lacks his lovely 90s Disney themes like 'You've Got a Friend In Me' from Toy Story and 'If I Didn't Have You' from Monsters Inc.) If you enjoyed it, though, you are more than welcomed to make a stab at his wonderful albums (the best place to start would be either 'Sail Away', 'Good Old Boys', 'Randy Newman' or 'Little Criminals').

1. Love Story
2. Living Without You
3. I Think It's Going To Rain Today
4. Mama Told Me Not To Come
5. My Old Kentucky Home
6. Sail Away
7. Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear
8. Political Science
9. God's Song (That's Why I Love You)
10. Rednecks
11. Birmingham
12. Marie
13. Louisiana
14. Baltimore
15. Jolly Coppers On Parade
16. Rider In The Rain
17. In Germany Before The War
18. Short People
19. Christmas In Capetown
20. My Life Is Good
21. I Love L.A.
22. Lonely At The Top


Torrent: here
Amazon: Randy Newman - Lonely At the Top (1987)

The First Wives Club (1996)

Don't get mad. Get everything

Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton prove that revenge is a dish best served cold. Former college buddies, they reunite at the funeral of a dear friend who took a swan dive onto Fifth Avenue. All three discover they share the same unhappy history of husbands who dove into middle-age by dumping them for trophy wives. Forming a warring triumvirate, they decide to get even, and along the way remind themselves of long-forgotten capabilities. The action gets a little too "wacky" at times, but the gals are great. Portraying an aging actress, Hawn is sometimes a little too flamboyant, but there is much fun to be had in her flashiness, especially when she pokes fun at Tinseltown and her persona. Instead of her usual brashness, Midler stretches herself and shows us a woman who is not just unhappy, but also deeply sorrowful. Not that she isn't quick with a wisecrack, but her expressive face alone tells the story of her marriage. As the repressed and guilt-ridden spouse of a self- involved ad executive, Keaton finds her anger, and her voice, when her psychiatrist (Marcia Gay Harden) oversteps ethical boundaries. Watching Keaton grow from an ineffectual homemaker into a powerful businessperson reminds us that it has been far too long since she has done a comedy. Director Hugh Wilson smartly chose supporting players who each brought something unique to the film. However, he does not maintain the first hour's effervescent humor throughout the film, as the ending is weakened by a softening of the wives' resolve. --Rochelle O'Gorman

The First Wives Club
Torrent: here
Subs: here
Amazon: The First Wives Club (1996)

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