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Mentor-2

9 reviews in total 
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Luther (2003)
7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Viewers who liked this 2003 ought to move up to the 1976 film, 8 November 2003
5/10

"Luther" (2003) pleasantly surprised this Catholic for being as accurate as it was.

In the credits, I noticed with pleasure that the film makers consulted famed Lutheran theologian Martin Marty, who is greatly respected by Catholic theologians, as well as a Jesuit whose full name I did not catch. Perhaps they influenced the script writers to ditch references to the false dichotomy of "faith versus works" which sidetracked a fruitful Lutheran-Catholic dialogue for centuries.

No doubt because of its funding (by some investment group "for Lutherans"), this film came across as a reverential cartoon-brought-to-life, suitable for a Lutheran Sunday school. Joseph Fiennes handsomely portrayed Luther as a comic-book hero. The film wisely avoided the last 16 years of Luther's life. While the early Luther needed to tell people he was not a saint, few would have mistaken the later Luther for one. (See the transcripts of Luther's table talk.)

There is nothing wrong with telling a story in terms children can understand. I assume that was why the film makers added the cloyingly sentimental poor woman and her crippled girl.

However, the real Luther was far more complex and far more interesting than portrayed in this film. Advanced children, and adults interested in a college-level approach, should move up to something more accurate and challenging: the 1976 film version of John Osborne's award-winning play "Luther," starring Stacey Keach. Osborne's play, and this film, are definitely not for children. If you can't find the film, at least read the text of the play, which has been published.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A Brilliant Introduction to Philosophy, 8 March 2003
10/10

This brilliant introduction to philosophy should be required viewing for all new university students, and, indeed, anyone at all interested in philosophy.

In the first part, Jonathan Miller plays Plato's "Symposium" as a picnic organized by an OxBridge don for his students. The entertaining script is faithful to the drinking party recorded by Plato, where Socrates asks each guest to explain the nature of Love. By a series of questions, Socrates leads the guests to conclude that Love is the Highest Good, and that God is Love. This Socratic dialogue may be said to be the basis for Western Philosophy.

The second part covers the last Socratic dialogues, "the Crito" and "the Phaedo," concerning the execution of Socrates for "impiety" and "misleading the young." Miller sets this in a Soviet block prison. Socrates' students come to plead with him to escape. Socrates leads them to understand why this would violate the integrity of his beliefs, and be worse than death.

9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
"Tom Jones" in Venice and Versailles, 18 February 2003
9/10

This entertaining, lavishly-produced film tells the story of Giacomo Casanova (born 1725), and his adventures in Venice and Versailles. Those who have seen "Tom Jones" (1963) will find this equally enjoyable, perhaps even more so because of the frank nudity and simulated sex possible now on TV but which could only be suggested (such as in the famous eating scene) forty years ago.

The real Casanova was a universal genius and a born charmer who really did escape the "lead prison" in Venice, and really did set up the French national lottery. As a plot device, writer Michael Hirst -- who wrote the screenplay for "Elizabeth" (1998) -- invented the character of de Bernis, the French ambassador to Venice who befriends the young Casanova, only to turn on him after Casanova seduces de Bernis' wife. When Casanova arrives in Versailles, de Bernis is Minister of Foreign Affairs. At Versailles, Casanova befriends Madame de Pompadour, the official mistress of Louis XV. De Bernis opposes the Austrian alliance proposed by Madame de Pompadour, and seeks to use Charlotte d'Estrades to displace Madame de Pompadour in the King's affections. D'Estrades of course has fallen in love with Casanova.

The real de Bernis was a jolly cleric, a close friend of Madame de Pompadour, and ambassador to Rome, not Venice. Hirst would have done better to pattern his villain on the Duc de Richelieu, who really did use Madame d'Estrades to displace Madame de Pompadour. The latter foiled this plot by proving to the King that Madame d'Estrades had stolen a secret document on foreign affairs from the King's desk, to give to Richelieu. Happily, the document was a forgery Madame de Pompadour had planted as a trap for the sneaky, snivelly d'Estrades.

As usual, history is more interesting than historical fiction. But, as the Italians say, "si non e vero, e ben trovato" (if it's not true, at least it's a good story).

Ghost (1990)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Very Well-Researched!, 10 September 1999
10/10

The writers for this film obviously thoroughly researched what is known about ghosts. I understand that they checked with Tibetan Buddhist monks on what someone is likely to encounter in the "bardo state," after death. Over many centuries, Tibetan Buddhism has compiled countless data about this.

A more recent film which shows similar depth of research is "The Sixth Sense" (1990).

Aida (1953)
6 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
One of the worst films of all time, 30 July 1999
1/10

Sophia Loren plays Aida, in one of the worst films of all time. She can't lipsync. In terms of production values, the film is so bad, that at one point, while Loren is mouthing "O Patria Mia," she leans onto what looks to be a stone wall for support, and the canvas set billows and shakes.

1 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
A veteran of the Sinai Field Mission finds this a lifeless chronicle, 30 July 1999
1/10

Frederick Wiseman filmed this documentary shortly before I arrived at the Sinai Field Mission for an assignment as a Liaison Officer between the Egyptian and Israeli armies, so for me it's surreal. The settings, even the people, are totally familiar, yet I am absent, and the filmmaker does not share my point of view on what the place was all about. Watching the film, I feel like one of the characters of "Roshomon" watching rushes of the accounts of the other characters, wondering how they could have seen the same things so differently.

Wiseman's method was to film as unobtrusively as possible. He wanted to be like an anthropologist making films disturbing his subjects as little as possible. Wiseman ignores the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which teaches that just by investigating a subject, the investigator participates in the subject's experience, and changes the results in discernible ways.

Wiseman's film is a failure. In chronicling the exterior workings of the place, he misses any spark of interiority. The Sinai Field Mission had an abnormally rich array of characters. Each had their own take on the place, their own stories to tell. Wiseman misses it all. Someone who dissects frogs will never hear them croak.

2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
A veteran of the Sinai Field Mission finds this a lifeless chronicle, 30 July 1999
1/10

Frederick Wiseman filmed this documentary shortly before I arrived at the Sinai Field Mission for an assignment as a Liaison Officer between the Egyptian and Israeli armies, so for me it's surreal. The settings, even the people, are totally familiar, yet I am absent, and the filmmaker does not share my point of view on what the place was all about. Watching the film, I feel like one of the characters of "Roshomon" watching rushes of the accounts of the other characters, wondering how they could have seen the same things so differently.

Wiseman's method was to film as unobtrusively as possible. He wanted to be like an anthropologist making films disturbing his subjects as little as possible. Wiseman ignores the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which teaches that just by investigating a subject, the investigator participates in the subject's experience, and changes the results in discernible ways.

Wiseman's film is a failure. In chronicling the exterior workings of the place, he misses any spark of interiority. The Sinai Field Mission had an abnormally rich array of characters. Each had their own take on the place, their own stories to tell. Wiseman misses it all. Someone who dissects frogs will never hear them croak.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
In Love with Istanbul All Over Again, 25 April 1999
10/10

We have many films on the theme of how repressed English visit sunny Italy or Greece to discover new depths to their souls, from "Zorba the Greek" through "Room with a View," "Enchanted April," and "Shirley Valentine." "Steam," or "Hamam: Il Bagno Turco," breaks new ground.

To begin to understand the enormity of the life-transforming intensity of feeling the "cold" foreigners experience in Istanbul, the "cold" foreigners are ITALIANS, the very people whom film makers love to contrast with the supposedly cold Brits.

"Il Bagno Turco" made me and two friends -- one of whom had never been there, another who'd lived there four months -- want to hop the next plane for Istanbul, and perhaps never leave.

The film reminded me of how surprised I was to experience the warm hospitality of the Turkish people.

It also reminded me and my friends, once again, of how profoundly civilized the Italian people are.

The cinematography and direction is nothing short of amazing. In one scene, toward the end, the frenzied rush of one of the main characters through the streets of his Istanbul neighborhood to seek help is carried off with balletic precision, while the unseen camera photographs him from a variety of swiftly turning angles, with no camera in sight.

8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
While Ann-Margret's portrayal is uncannily accurate, only a four hour mini-series could begin to do Pamela Harriman's story justice., 30 September 1998

This is a good film which could have been much better if it had been longer. The sets are sumptuous, the costumes accurate. Ann-Margret is uncanny in her portrayal of Pamela Harriman.

Why was there no mention of her childhood, where she was fat and unloved? Why no depiction of her close friendship with Winston Churchill Sr., playing cards with him all night to raise his spirits? Why no mention of Gianni Agnelli's rejection of her? Her service as a Rothschild mistress in Paris?

Many viewers will need more background to understand who the Whitneys are, who James Roosevelt was, why he was such a close parallel to Winston Churchill Jr., what role the "blackamoor" pin played in Pamela's relationship with Leland Hayward's daughter, and so on.

The first half of this film will confuse even those who know her story. Stick with it. The second half shows her happy and successful marriage to Averill Harriman about as well as can be done.