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Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Newman - Harps & Angels (2008)


Harps and Angels are on the Way!

Randy Newman is set to release his first album of new material in nine years. "Harps and Angels," produced by Mitchell Froom and Lenny Waronker, arrives via Nonesuch on Aug. 5.

"A Few Words in Defense of My Country"
, a single released exclusively to iTunes last year, will be included in the track list.

Newman's 2003 hits collection, "The Randy Newman Songbook: Vol. 1," was the singer/songwriter's last release and first for Nonesuch. His last original set, "Bad Love," was released in 1999. His highest Billboard 200 charting album was 1978's "Little Criminals," which peaked at No. 9.

Newman, 64, has a busy gig calendar in May, plus a concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic during the Fourth of July weekend at the Hollywood Bowl.

He performed at this year's New Orleans Jazz Fest on May 1 and has another symphony-backed show in Denver on May 23. Additionally, he is slated to perform solo May 4 in St. Louis
and May 5 and 6 in Iowa City, Iowa.

Listen
Amazon link


TV Time: Randy on Letterman!

Randy Newman will lend his musical expertise to David Letterman's late-night cultural programming! August 6th. Tell your TiVo.

On Wednesday, August 6th, Randy will be Dave's guest while "Harps and Angels" hover innocently in the background.




Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

000
"Mine Will Be Blood Well Spent"

Henry VIII's male chauvinistic desire to begat a male heir for the throne of England is a tale often told from many points of view. In Anne of a Thousand Days it's told from the point of view of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of the infant child who became Elizabeth I.

Anne Boleyn, a high spirited young lass of 18, catches Henry VIII's eye at court. One of his previous dalliances was with her older sister Mary and that paid off well for the Boleyn family. Father Tom sees riches and glory even more and persuades her to really keep the king panting.

Anne succeeds all too well. Henry divorces Catherine of Aragon and marries Anne. But all he begats is another daughter. And Henry still wants a son and he's got an eye on another. It all ends tragically for the Boleyn family.

It's important to remember that as the film opens Henry VIII having caught sight of Anne at his court denies permission for her to marry some young lord whom she is in love with and vice versa. Had he looked elsewhere, had he moved on, all this might never have come to pass.

Anne of the Thousand Days took 21 years to come to the screen. It ran on Broadway for a year in 1948-1949 and starred Rex Harrison as Henry VIII. Richard Burton joins a great list of actors who've portrayed Henry VIII on the screen. Probably the young Charles Laughton did him best, but Burton is certainly fine.

Genevieve Bujold in her screen debut is a stunning and fetching Anne, too fetching for her own good. Poor kid though, in other than a monarchist society that was becoming more absolute during Henry's reign, she'd have married the man of her dreams and lived happily ever after.

Anthony Quayle is a fine Cardinal Woolsey though I prefer Orson Welles in A Man for All Seasons. Michael Hordern as Thomas Boleyn destroys more than one member of his family through his own ambition.

Irene Papas makes a tragic Catherine of Aragon. By all accounts Catherine was a pious woman who had incredible rotten luck with her pregnancies. Only daughter Mary survived who grew up to be the Queen known as Bloody Mary. She settled some accounts when she became Queen.

I think the best supporting portrayal is that of John Colicos as Thomas Cromwell. This Cromwell was the great uncle of the more well known Oliver Cromwell. Oliver has his supporters and detractors, but I've never seen a good word in any history books about Uncle Tom. Colicos has him pegged just right as a serpentine intriguer. By the way after the period of this film is over, Thomas Cromwell made one too many intrigues and got on Henry VIII's wrong side. People usually didn't live long after that and Cromwell was no exception.

When he wrote Anne of the Thousand Days, Maxwell Anderson grew up in a society of law. I think a fine appreciation of that fact comes into the moral of the story. Even an absolute monarch has to obey laws or no one is safe. Until Henry VIII was off this mortal coil, no one was. By bkoganbing

Amazon
IMDb

Jinxed! (1982)


Bette saves the movie!

Gambler Harold (Rip Torn) and his girlfriend Bonita (Bette Midler) follow blackjack dealer Willie (Ken Wahl) where ever he works. It seems Harold is a jinx to Willie--Harold always wins big when Willie deals. Willie and Bonita meet and fall for each other and plot to kill Harold for all his money.

This movie was plagued with problems. Wahl and Midler hated each other and were always fighting and arguing--at one point Wahl likened kissing Midler to kissing his dog! Unfortunately director Don Siegel also hated Midler and it comes through loud and clear. This movie was being called a disaster before it even came out! I remember seeing it opening night in Boston in a nearly empty theatre. It's not a good movie but it's not a disaster either.

Wahl is pretty terrible in his role. Handsome but blank. Siegel's usually good direction seems off (I think on purpose). The plot is more drama then comedy--despite Midler's performance in "The Rose" she was much better and more comfortable doing comedy. Still, she's the only reason to see this. Despite all the problems she was having while filming this she's full of life and energy. She's especially good while doing a stage number and interrupting it to plot with Wahl how to kill Torn. Torn is good but he's hardly in the movie.

All these years later look at who's still popular. Siegel died in 1991 and Wahl's career died quickly in the mid 1980s. Midler is still going strong. So I liked it but I'll never say it's a GOOD movie. For Midler fans this is a must.

"I'll never walk again."
By Wayne Malin

IMDb
Amazon


Jinxed! - Original Theatrical Trailer



Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Razor's Edge (1984)


The path to enlightenment

'The Razor's Edge' - Bill Murray ('Groundhog Day') makes an unforgettable dramatic debut as Larry Darrell, the free-spirited seeker, in this gripping adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's classic novel. When Larry returns from World War I disillusioned with Jazz Age values, he undertakes a quest which leads him to reject his rich fiancee (Catherine Hicks, TV's '7th Heaven') and his superficial lifestyle to go search for truth in the Himalayas. But Larry learns that the path to enlightenment is as difficult as treading "the sharp edge of a razor" and returns to civilization, where he tastes life's dark side when he tries to save a hometown girl turned prostitute (Theresa Russell, 'Wild Things').

Much has been written and documented about what has now become known as "The Lost Generation".These were the the American upper crust who,being disillusioned after "The War to End All Wars",World War 1, struggled vehemently in many ways to find meaning to their lives upon returning to peacetime America.Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald,Ernest Heningway are among some of the most famous authors to write on the shallow and meaningless existence of their society, and Somerset Maugham did the same in his THE RAZOR'S EDGE.

This 1984 adaptation of Maugham's 1940's novel really captures the essence of the intense inner and outer struggles that the wealthy and privileged of that generation had to endure.Lots of hopes and expectations were radically altered in what seemed like an instant after the War,and either the rich retuned to what they had known before in their upper stations in society,a pampered,opulent,insular and quite predictable road, or they turned to an existential journey that frequently lead down the path to ultimate ruin due to alcohol and opium in Bohemian society of Paris, or to travel to Greece, India or Tibet to find "God".No matter which path was chosen,whether opting for life back in the comforts of American wealth ( eventually ruined at The Great Depression),or "mind-expanding"wandering from the streets to the Temples, each group found it treacherous to walk "the razor's edge" and survive it all. By KerrLines

4x Doris Day



~ Doris Day in 4 of her romantic comedies! ~


Pillow Talk (1959)

Jan Morrow (Doris Day) and Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) have never met, but they're sworn enemies because of one small appliance in their lives: the telephone. The two share a party line, and Jan is outraged over the amount of time Bill spends wooing women over the phone. A convenient triangle emerges when a client (Tony Randall) of Jan's--she's an interior decorator--falls in love with her and happens to be Brad's old college chum. When Brad makes the connection, he decides to try to court Jan himself, to make her more sympathetic to his phone woes. Of course, she'd never go for such a heel, so he passes himself off as Rex Stetson, a Texas rancher visiting New York. The ensuing tale, albeit predictable, is lots of fun, with some quick-witted dialogue and some clever use of split-screens for the phone calls. Thelma Ritter is hilarious as Jan's always-hung-over maid, Alma; and the pairing of Rock and Doris works beautifully, as always. --Jenny Brown
Amazon




Lover Come Back (1961)

Rock Hudson and Doris Day had one of the sweetest chemistries in the movies--as demonstrated in several light comedies, including this film's predecessor, 1959's Pillow Talk. The two similar films feature a handsome, duplicitous Hudson duping--then falling for--an earnest Day. In Lover Come Back, the two play Jerry Webster and Carol Templeton, rival advertising agents, vying for the same clients--until Jerry makes up a product, Vip, to get out of a scrape. As Madison Avenue catches Vip fever, Jerry falls deeper into the façade-and into love with Carol, who schemes to steal the nonexistent account away from him. Tony Randall plays Peter Ramsay, Webster's hapless boss. While Day and Hudson are as adorable as ever (and would continue to be in 1964's Send Me No Flowers), a standout is fellow Pillow Talk and Send Me No Flowers costar Randall. He's an effective foil--both comically and physically (as he stands next to the much taller Hudson). Their brands of humor blend charmingly: Hudson's sardonic coyness, Day's innocent sweetness, and Randall's nervous edginess. Look for a pre-Brady Bunch Ann B. Davis as Mille, Carol's loyal assistant, and a pre-Beverly Hillbillies Donna Douglas as Ramsay's secretary. --N.F. Mendoza
Amazon




The Thrill Of It All (1963)

James Garner substitutes for Rock Hudson in this hilarious Doris Day outing. Housewife Beverly Boyer (Day) happens by chance to give an executive of Happy Soap an honest appraisal of one of his company's products. Charmed by her forthright and honest manner, he makes Beverly the company spokesperson. When she becomes an advertising sensation, her husband (Garner) has to deal with the social ramifications of his wife making more money than he does. Day and Garner are both in good form, and Garner nicely portrays the mounting frustration of bewildered husband Gerald.

Gerald's refusal to accept that Beverly's new career infringes on her duties as housewife is, of course, outdated thinking today. Nevertheless, the film works and is sincerely funny. No wonder: comedian Carl Reiner cowrote the script. --Mark Savary
Amazon




Send Me No Flowers (1964)

Send Me No Flowers" is the final big screen teaming of Doris Day and Rock Hudson. They would team three more times, professionally - on a Doris Day musical special on CBS in 1971, on "Good Morning America" for a delightful interview in May of 1983 and for Hudson's final appearance before his untimely demise, in 1985 on Day's cable program, "Best Friends".

Anyone expecting a rehash of "Pillow Talk" or "Lover Come Back" may be disappointed in "Send Me No Flowers". Those seeking and able to enjoy an adult comedy that is wry, witty, darkly funny and extremely well acted, should find this to be their cup of tea.

"Send Me No Flowers", based on a successful Broadway play, is the story of the ultimate hypochondriac, George Kimball, played by Hudson, and his loving but long-suffering wife Judy, played by Doris Day. George overhears his doctor discussing another patient who is terminal and leaps to the conclusion that his time is almost up. With the assistance of his sometimes sober neighbor Arnold, played by Tony Randall, he sets out to find a new husband for Judy.

Thanks to the chemistry of Day, Hudson, and Randall, not to mention their finesse and skill with any situation or line, this works perfectly. The talented direction of Norman Jewison brings out the best in all of the participants and they include Paul Lynde, in a hilarious turn as a salesman for cemetary plots, Clint Walker as a prospective mate for Day,and Edward Andrews as Hudson's patient but befuddled doctor, among others.

Ultimately, however, it is the team of Doris Day and Rock Hudson that raises this above the level of a merely pleasing comedy and makes it something really special. The natural give and take between the pair and the realization that this would be their last film together makes it slightly poignant. Nevertheless, most of the tears you shed will be from laughing so hard. "Send Me No Flowers" will definitely send you! By Paul Brogan
Amazon


Other Doris Day movies >>>

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Medea (1988)


Essential Von Trier

This beautiful piece of art is one of Lars Von Trier's best works, and is certaintly the best of his pre-dogma period. It is based on a previously unfilmed script by the master Carl Th. Dreyer (Lars claimed to be in constant telepathic communication with him during its filming), and tells the story of Medea's revenge on Jason (of the Argonauts) after he leaves her to become the heir of a throne. The plot is sparse; the real star of this film is Von Trier's direction and great command of mood. Many of the techniques employed in "Zentropa" and "Element of Crime" are used, as well as an extremely drab and degraded film image, and all serve to create a harsh other-world filled with despair. By John Q. Rowland

"Lars von Trier's direction makes this film a shocking look into the disturbed mind of a woman who has been scorned and left. Medea's revenge is horrible but never unbelievable. She does what every sane person would do, when deprived of all that she loves. The film burns itself into your mind and leaves you with a lasting impression of what human misery can be like."

"Wow, this is an inspired film. It takes the myth of Jason written by Euripedes and a script by Carl Th. Dreyer, boths testimony has been proved by the test of time and makes a fantastic low budget masterpiece epic of it. Some people think that its production values spoils the experience, but I would like to ask them this: would Claude Monets paintings look better if they were polished? We see into the fabric of film here and I think that only heightens the realism or it makes me believe it the more as a film, if the focus was on making it look real several other things would get lost."

For anyone curious about the film's unique visual texture, Medea was shot on video, projected and re-shot on film, and then transferred back to tape again (with the colour being treated and manipulated at each stage). This was, in Trier's words, "to get away from that video look, which I wasn't keen on". A similar, albeit more refined, process was subsequently used for The Kingdom (Riget). By cainc5

IMDb
Amazon

Friday, July 18, 2008

FULL CONCERT: Candy Dulfer & Band - Live at Paradiso (24-03-2008)

Alto saxophonist Candy Dulfer was brought into the limelight by Prince, who introduced her to the world via his video for "Partyman." Raised in a family heavily involved in the Dutch jazz scene, Dulfer is the daughter of Hans Dulfer, a respected jazz tenor saxophonist. Thanks to him, she listened to and studied the recordings of Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, and Dexter Gordon. He also introduced her to the stage early in life. When she was 12, she began playing in a band with Rosa King, an American expatriate who lived in Holland. Her career began by playing with brass bands but soon she was fronting her own band, Funky Stuff, who were invited to backup Madonna... Read More...
Info & Bio @ allmusic.com


This video is no longer available ...

Many thanks to everybody who has supported us through the years.
Hopefully we'll meet again one day.
THE REASONS WHY WE STOPPED

Read more ...

Touched by an Angel: The Album (1998)


Angels play here

If you're a fan of the big-production inspirational pop numbers that sometimes run over the closing credits of hit movies, you'll love this soundtrack album for the feel-good TV series: there are 15 of them here. Despite a diverse range of artists--Celine Dion, Deana Carter, soft-R&B group Uncle Sam--the tracks and sentiments tend to run together after a while, but those looking for a fix of positivity won't argue. Bob Dylan fans note: the one moment of true grit on the disc is a previously unreleased alternate take of his "Dignity." --Rickey Wright

1. Walk With You (Della Reese)
2. Love Can Move Mountains (Celine Dion with God's Property)
3. You Were Loved (Wynonna)
4. Somebody's Out There Watching (The Kinleys)
5. Colour Everywhere (Deana Carter)
6. Dignity (Alternate Version) (Bob Dylan)
7. Believe In You (Amanda Marshall)
8. I Don't Know Why (Shawn Colvin)
9. Independence Day (Imani Coppola)
10. When I See You Smile (Uncle Sam)
11. Follow Me Up (Keb' Mo')
12. Shine All Your Light (Amy Grant)
13. Little Bits Of Lightning (Martina McBride)
14. When You Cry (Faith Hill)
15. God Loves You (Jaci Velasquez)
16. Testify To Love (Wynonna)

Amazon samples

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mindful Way Through Depression - Guided Meditation Practices


Thunder says: Probably the best meditation torrent out there...

Audio is fuzzy and not the best quality but its worth the download for the content

The audio CD is by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He teaches mindfulness meditation as a technique to help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness.

1. Introduction ( 3:01)
2. Body Scan (29:02)
3. Mindful Standing Yoga (10:58)
4. Mindfulness of the Breath (10:38)
5. Mindfulness of the Breath and Body ( 9:24)
6. Mindfulness of Sounds and Thoughts (10:34)
7. The Breathing Space ( 3:48)


Description from: The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (Paperback)

The Mindful Way through Depression draws on the collective wisdom of four internationally renowned cognitive therapy and mindfulness experts, including bestselling author Jon Kabat-Zinn, to help you break the mental habits that can lead to despair. This authoritative, easy-to-use self-help program is based on methods clinically proven to reduce the recurrence of chronic unhappiness. Informative chapters reveal the hidden psychological mechanisms that cause depression and demonstrate powerful ways to strengthen your resilience in the face of life's misfortunes. Kabat-Zinn lends his calm, familiar voice to the accompanying CD of guided meditations, making this a complete package for anyone looking to regain a sense of balance and contentment.

Insight Meditation - Guided Meditations


Insight Meditation - Guided Meditations (Goldstein and Salzberg) 2CD

Two CD's of guided meditations by renowned Buddhist teachers Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg.

1. Breath Meditation (20:30)
2. Walking Meditation (27:36)
3. Meditation On Body Sensations (25:50)
4. Meditation on Hindrances (27:23)
5. Meditation on Emotions (19:26)
6. Metta Meditation (27:07)


Taken from "Insight Meditation Kit: A Step-by-step Course on How to Meditate"

Join Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein -- two of America's most respected instructors -- for a step-by-step course in Insight Meditation. Learn at home, at your own pace, with this complete curriculum. The course includes:

-A 240-page Insight Meditation workbook: This workbook is designed as a complete self-guided curriculum. Organized into nine lessons, your workbook features more than 75 step-by-step mindfulness exercises, question-and-answer sections, glossaries, and photographs illustrating correct meditation postures.

-Two 70-minute compact discs: Six meditations teach you these cornerstone practices in the Insight tradition.

-Twelve Insight study cards: Reinforce your practice with these daily reminders of the fundamentals of meditation in a convenient, portable form.

The Energetics of Healing (1997)


Human Energy System VHS part 1
Human Energy System VHS part 2


Caroline Myss was educated by nuns and priests until she was 29. In her world as a Medical Intuitive, she explains how the extraordinary became an ordinary way of life.

In this DVD set, there are two main sections to explore the external and internal realities. Caroline guides us through the human energy system and shows how losing energy leads to the breakdown of the body. She discusses survival centers, shows why we thrive in stable communities and explores the idea of spiritual power. Through an analysis of our own energy, we can learn how to stop energy "leaks." This is the loss of energy that can cause us to age faster or can impede the healing of our body.

If your body is slow to heal, you are in constant emotional conflict or you can't seem to make it through the day, you might be giving away your energy. Caroline even goes so far as to say that when we try to control other people, we lose energy through the second charka. This is a place where we deal with our self-esteem and personal power. It is very interesting to see how people become more manipulative when they don't have their own lives under control. I've seen this happen so many times in my life and in my friend's lives.

When someone tries to make you break your promise to someone and you have a very negative feeling, this DVD set will help to explain why you have those feelings and why people lose energy when they don't honor their promises. You can literally feel the loss of energy about to occur even as you think about breaking a promise.

The information about the Heart Chakra was my favorite section and we can all relate to how a broken heart drains away our life force. You will learn about willpower, emotional power, meaningful messages that come in the form of coincidences and why every relationship in your life has a purpose.

Point after point makes complete sense. If you have always wondered about how the Chakras function or what they are, then Caroline Myss is the perfect teacher to show you the diagrams and walk you through the seven Chakras in detail. She gives pertinent examples from her own life to illustrate all the points and to bring a sense of enlightenment to the entire process of learning. She ends her lessons with the 7 Sacred Truths.

This review is from: The Energetics of Healing DVD By Rebecca Johnson "SeasonedwithLove.com"

Adaptation. (2002)


Even better than advertised

Alright, let's just get the honorifics out of the way right now: Adaptation is as smart as Election, as endearing as Rushmore, and as original as, well, anything I've ever seen all at the same time. It's a testament to how much a clever idea can make a movie, but it has a lot more going for it that that. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has written himself into a movie about writing himself into a movie, and if that sounds like a pretentious idea it's because it is. But at the same time, Adaptation more than holds its own in the areas of wit, characterization, and plot development. Its concept is decidedly highbrow and unquestionably outlandish, but at the same time Adaptation is a boldly unconventional, relentlessly unpredictable, and unapologetically quirky movie.

So, what exactly is Adaptation about? Well, here's a partial list: creativity, self-loathing, emotional attachment, forbidden love, fraternal relations, the movie industry drug use, and last but not least, flowers. Of course, that's not all it's about, either, as there is a plot holding everything together. Adaptation mainly centers around Charlie Kaufman's attempts to adapt Susan Orleans's book The Orchid Thief into a movie while simultaneously trying to tune out his twin brother Donald as Donald attempts to write a screenplay of his own. After some, er, questionable decisions in recent years (Gone In 60 Seconds, anyone?), Nicolas Cage apparently once again finds his niche here, pulling off the difficult task of portaying the polar opposites of the tormented artiste Charlie and the charming hack Donald in a dual role that has an awful lot to say about the nature of creative genius. The rest of the movie notwithstanding, Charlie's frenetic inner monologue alone is practically worth the price of admission.

That said, there's plenty more going on in this movie, well more than can be easily encapsulated in a simple review. Constantly leaping back and forth in time and blurring the line between fiction and reality until it's difficult to tell which is which, Adaptation is considerably more challenging than even Kaufman's latest effort, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which wasn't exactly an easy watch itself. Various plots are juggled in a seemingly haphazard manner, but seeing them all come together in the end makes for much of the fun of watching. More to the point, the movie never sacrificies emotional depth or humor for the sake of cleverness, largely avoiding the self-congratulatory air that has doomed so many lesser movies of its ilk (this means you, Lost in Translation). It certainly doesn't hurt that there are startingly authentic performances from skilled actors like Merryl Streep, Chris Cooper, and Bryan Cox on display, or that the insanely adorable Maggie Gyllenhaal is around in a minor role.

Now, before I take my leave I should stress that Adaptation is most certainly not a movie for everyone. If you favor movies with conventional storylines, fast-paced plots, or lots of action, you probably will not like this one. But, if you're in the mood for something different, Adaptation should not be missed. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is worth checking out as well. By Wheelchair Assassin


All subs
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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dancer in the Dark (2000)


You don't need eyes to see.

Genre Grade: A+

Final Grade: A+

This is possibly the most depressing movie I've ever seen. It rips you apart over and over again, without any hint of a happy ending. It's about as far from cliche Hollywood as can be, something Lars von Trier is known for. Bjork is an incredible, wonderful actress and I'd love to see her in a happier role, but she has sworn she will never be in another movie because of the emotional difficulties caused from her role in this film.

I am warning you, this movie will madden you, sadden you, and depress the hell out of you. I recommend it to audiences who appreciate art films. It is a musical (great way of challenging the sadness of the film), but mostly it is just a drama about losing everything you could possibly lose for the sake of love and compassion.

A wonderful review by C. Copeland "Film Fanatic"


Trailer






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IMDb link
Amazon link

Dimensions


A walk through mathematics!

A film for a wide audience!

Nine chapters, two hours of maths, that take you gradually up to the fourth dimension. Mathematical vertigo guaranteed! Background information on every chapter: see "Details".

Free download and you can watch the films online! (new!)

The film can also be ordered as a DVD.

This film is being distributed under a Creative Commons license. More details on the download page.

Commentary in Arabic, English, French and Spanish.
Subtitles in Arabic, Dutch, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian.

Film produced by:
Jos Leys (Graphics and animations)
Étienne Ghys (Scenario et mathematics)
Aurélien Alvarez (Realisation and post-production).

Irma la Douce (1963)


MacLaine and Lemmon in Parisian backstreet fairytale.

Billy Wilder's 1963 adaptation of the successful stage musical IRMA LA DOUCE still makes for an entertaining movie experience. Shirley MacLaine is simply perfect for the title role with Jack Lemmon absolutely hilarious as her comical suitor.

Irma la Douce (Shirley MacLaine) plies her trade on the Rue Casanova of Paris with her fellow lovelies (with such names as Lolita, Amazon Annie, Mimi the MauMau and Suzette Wong). Into Irma's life comes the noble and honest policeman Nestor (Jack Lemmon) who is soon kicked off the job because he refuses to take bribes and compromise his own conscience. Nestor goes to live with Irma as her `business manager' but wants her to give up her profession, so he `invents' the filthy-rich Lord X to become her sole client, and takes a night-job to help the shortfall. All manner of hilarious complications ensue as Nestor's double life soon begins to spin out of control!

Based on the successful stage musical (music by Marguerite Monnot, lyrics by Alexandre Breffort), IRMA LA DOUCE was re-tooled by Wilder as a straight comedy piece. It works quite well either way, though I must confess that as an admirer of the stage play, it would have been smashing for Shirley MacLaine to perform that gorgeous score. The movie does retain the jaunty "Dis-donc, Dis-donc" and Andre Previn's score makes good use out of Monnot's music, particularly "Our Language of Love".

The strong cast also includes Lou Jacobi as the owner of the Bistro Moustache, Bruce Yarnell as Irma's previous manager Hippolyte and Billy Wilder stalwart Joan Shawlee as Amazon Annie.


(screens are from another source)

The evocative costumes were designed by Orry-Kelly and the unbilled narrator at the beginning of the film is none other than Louis Jourdan. Shirley MacLaine was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance here and the movie itself was one of the year's top-grossers. By Byron Kolln "Classic_MovieGuy

All subs
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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West


Raises disturbing questions about nature of evil

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

With a husky voice and a gentle, dramatic manner that will call to mind the image of a patient grandfather reading to an excited gaggle of children, McDonough leisurely narrates this fantastical tale of good and evil, of choice and responsibility. In Maguire's Oz, Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, is not wicked; nor is she a formally schooled witch. Instead, she's an insecure, unfortunately green Munchkinlander who's willing to take radical steps to unseat the tyrannical Wizard of Oz. Using an appropriately brusque voice for the always blunt Elphaba, McDonough relates her tumultuous childhood (spent with an alcoholic mother and a minister father) and eye-opening school years (when she befriends her roommate, Glinda). McDonough's pacing remains frustratingly slow even after the plot picks up, and Elphaba's protracted ruminations on the nature of evil will have some listeners longing for an abridgement. Still, McDonough's excellent portrayals of Elphaba's outspoken, gravel-voiced nanny, Glinda's snobbish friends and the wide-eyed, soft-spoken Dorothy make this excursion to Oz worthwhile.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.


Gregory Maguire.com
Amazon link


A modern musical masterpiece with two powerhouse leads.

Wicked the Musical
Based on the Novel by Gregory Maguire
Book by Winnie Holzman
Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

Long before Dorothy dropped in, two other girls meet in the Land of Oz. One, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. How these two unlikely friends end up as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch makes for the most spellbinding new musical in years.

Wicked, the untold story of the witches of Oz, features music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, Academy Award winner for Pocahontas and The Prince of Egypt) and book by Winnie Holzman ("My So Called Life," "Once And Again" and "thirtysomething"), and is based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire. With musical staging by Tony Award winner Wayne Cilento (Aida, The Who's Tommy, How To Succeed...), WICKED is directed by 2003 and 2004 Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Assassins, Take Me Out, Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune).


Amazon link

Focusing


A breakthrough method of “unlocking the wisdom within your body” to solve specific problems and achieve dramatic personal growth and change

This original, innovative program of self-therapy enables you to tap into your deepest level of wisdom, the “gut-level” knowledge that already exists within your body. By accessing this subliminal body-mind awareness (or “felt sense”) that lies beyond thoughts and feelings, you can get to the root of the conflicts within you, gain a fuller comprehension of your unresolved problems, and solve them.

What is focusing? It is a technique of self-therapy that teaches you to identify and change the way your personal problems concretely exist in your body. Unlike methods that stress “getting in touch with your feelings,” there is a built-in test: each focusing step, when done correctly, is marked by a physical relief, a profound release of tension.

Focusing guides you to the deepest level of awareness within your body. It is on this level, unfamiliar to most people, that unresolved problems actually exist, and only on this level can they change. Both a practical guide and a powerful philosophy of personal growth, this effective, proven procedure has wide-ranging applications, including healing, education, business, creative pursuits, and problem solving.


Focusing.org

Amazon link

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The American President (1995)


CHARM CHARM CHARM

With a bit more breezy charm and a little less office politics, this wonderfully warm and surprisingly enchanting romantic comedy resembles at first glance The West Wing, the current White House drama series on NBC. Rob Reiner directs this handsome movie with a light touch, yet the movie looks beautiful. Respectful of the highest office in the world, the movie playfully gets inside, but never pulls the rug out from under its comedic tone, which is key to its success. Annette Bening has never been more appealing; her comedic skills nearly overshadow her scene-stealing emotional moments, and Michael Douglas has the bigness in presence, charm and sheer physical prowess that make his president entirely believable. The big fanfare of the gorgeous musical score provides a patriotic undertone to this entirely American story; like the best sexually charged comedies from the 1940s (Hepburn/Tracy, etc.), this movie has a big heart, and wins your completely. -- By R. Penola


What sounds like the high-concept romantic comedy pitch from hell--widower president falls for smart lobbyist while the world watches--is actually intelligent, charming, touching, and quite funny. Granted, it's wish fulfillment all the way (when was the last time you saw a president who was truly presidential?), but in the capable hands of writer Aaron Sorkin (TV's Sports Night) and director Rob Reiner, The American President is incredibly enjoyable entertainment with quite a few ideas about both romance and the government. Michael Douglas stars as the president, who after three years in office starts thinking about the possibility of dating.

When he auspiciously encounters cutthroat environmental lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), sparks begin to crackle and the two begin a tentative but heartfelt romance. Of course, his job gets in the way--their first kiss is interrupted by a Libyan bombing--but darn it if these two kids aren't going to try and make it work! However, they hadn't counted on the president's Republican antagonist (Richard Dreyfuss), who starts carping about family values. The predictable plot--Douglas finally goes to bat for his lady and his country--is leavened by Sorkin's wonderful, snappy dialogue and a light touch from the usually subtle-as-a-sledgehammer Reiner. Both manage to create a believable White House-office atmosphere (with a crack staff including Martin Sheen, Michael J. Fox, Anna Deavere Smith, and Samantha Mathis) as well as a plausible and funny dating scenario.


The true success of the movie, though, rides squarely on Douglas and Bening; this is unequivocally Douglas's best comedic performance (ergo his best performance, period) and Bening, usually such a good bad girl, takes a standard career-woman role and fleshes it out magnificently. You can see in an instant why Douglas would fall for her. One of the best unsung romantic comedies of the '90s. --Mark Englehart

All subs >>
IMDb link >>
Amazon link >>

Monday, July 7, 2008

White Squall (1996)


A terrific coming-of-age movie!

Jeff Bridges is very believable as Captain Christopher Sheldon, the skipper of the good ship Albatross. His mission is to teach a group of high school boys the way of the sea and of life. All of the boys have problems and, as written and portrayed, some are real heartbreakers. And director Ridley Scott has collected a handsome group of teen hunks to portray them. There is not a false note in any of their performances. Ryan Phillippe particular continues to surprise and impress me with his versatility. Whether it be the sensitive gay boy in T.V's "One Life to Live" or the overly confident and cocky jock of the film I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER he is always convincing. Phillippe is truly an actor that bears watching. Kudos also to John Savage as the ship's English teacher. It's nice to see this underrated actor try a different sort of role for a change.

It's a pity this oceangoing adventure wasn't fully appreciated during its theatrical release in 1996, if only because its climactic storm sequence (hence the movie's title) was awesome on the big screen and inevitably less impressive on video. Mixed reviews also curtailed its box-office potential, but as you might expect from Ridley Scott--the director of Blade Runner and Thelma & Louise--this is a beautifully photographed movie that will thrill anyone who is drawn to the romance and danger of the open sea. The story is a rite-of-passage adventure for a group of high school boys who spend their senior year as the crew-in-training on the Albatross, a sailing vessel skippered by an experienced sailor and schoolmaster (Jeff Bridges) who teaches hard lessons of teamwork and individual responsibility. As they sail to the tip of South America and back, the young men face many challenges that will shape their character, in addition to the carnal pleasures of shore leave in exotic ports of call. It's a traditional story, and Scott doesn't bring anything particularly new to this sailboat variation of Dead Poets Society and Scent of a Woman. But as a coming-of-age drama White Squall is professionally crafted and filled with vital energy, featuring a talented cast of newcomers (led by Scott Wolf of TV's Party of Five) who rise to the demands of this rousing and life-changing adventure. --Jeff Shannon



White Squall (Fan Trailer)



Out of Africa (1985) + Bonus + OST


"Out Of Africa" not only takes my breath away, but for 2 hours and 40 minutes I am transported to another time and place. A beautiful story in a wonderous setting will have you mesmerized as well. No matter how many times I view this film, I never tire of the gorgeous cinematography,the lulling music, the compelling story and of course the superb acting all brought together by the wonderful direction of Sydney Pollack.

Based on a true story, it depicts the life of Karen Blixen(who wrote under the name of Isak Dinesen) She marries a philandering Baron, and gains a title but discovers he has squandered her money on a coffee plantation in Kenya. Left to run it on her own, she befriends the local residents "The Kikuyu", offers them education and medical help, survives on her own strong willed nature and falls in love with the country, the people and local hunter Denis Finch Hatton.



The story is told in narrative by Karen, as she is now an old woman, thinking back to this time of love, passion, adventure and loss. Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer are masters of their craft as they bring these characters to life. The film was honored with several academy awards including Best Picture(1985),a well deserved Best Director for Pollack, Best Screenplay by Kurt Luedtke, Orginal Score for the genuis of John Barry, and one for the gorgeous Cinematography among others. I loved the music so much, which includes many works by Mozart, I just ordered the soundtrack!


The DVD transfer by Universal is outstanding. All the colors and sounds of Africa, seem to come alive right there in your living room. The growl of a lion, the texture of the landscape, the music all magnificent. The picture is presented in anamorphic widescreen(1.85:1), and the dolby digital 4.1 surround sound is perfect!. The extras include commentary with Sydney

Pollack production notes, cast bios,captioning, and a not to be missed documentary "Song of Africa" where you will find interviews with Pollack, Streep, and John Barry discussing the film and the music. This a great DVD buy at a great price.



Enjoy this very romantic film over and over again.....Laurie
By L. Shirley "Laurie's Boomer
Views"


Bonus "Song of Arfrica"

Pollack production notes, cast bios,captioning, and a not to be missed documentary "Song of Africa" where you will find interviews with Pollack, Streep, and John Barry discussing the film and the music.

Amazon link for the DVD
Amazon link for the OST


Out Of Africa: Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack

The great irony of John Barry's Academy Award-winning score for Out of Africa (which also took the Oscar as Best Picture) is that it almost never was; director Sydney Pollack had originally envisioned the film with native African music, going as far as laying the indigenous score down as he was editing. But the weight of John Barry's arguments--not to mention his considerable track record and composing gifts--held sway, and the composer delivered on his intent: a lush, romantic masterpiece for the ages. --Jerry McCulley

1. I Had a Farm in Africa (Main Title from Out of Africa)
2. I'm Better at Hello (Karen's Theme I)
3. Have You Got A Story For Me
4. Concerto For Clarinet and Orhestra
5. Safari
6. Karen's Journey - Siyawe (African Traditional)
7. Flight Over Africa
8. I Had A Compass From Denys (Karen's Theme II)
9. Alone On The Farm
10. Let the Rest of the World Go By
11. If I Know a Song of Africa (Karen's Theme III)
12. End Title (You Are Karen)

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