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Gunsmoke: A Hat (1967)
Season 13, Episode 6
Beautiful words, lovely poetry
1 November 2009
"Gunsmoke" A Hat (1967)

This episode contains some of the most beautiful poetry and moving philosophy I have ever heard in a TV episode of any kind, written by Ron Bishop. Bishop wrote a number of episodes for Gunsmoke and other similar shows. The character of Sorils, gunfighter, crude and stubborn man, describes a "Divine Experience" up in the mountains. The philosophy of Gunsmoke and Ron Bishop comes through continuously, even given the "owning" philosophy of men towards women in those days. This episode has moved me like no other. I wish I could meet the writer, Ron Bishop, and thank him for imparting such a beautiful piece of wisdom and life to us all in a simple hour-long TV show. This episode is like reading a prayer book, over and over again, in five small lines. This episode shows that all men, and women, have something they hold dear in their hearts. Something. Some days. Even if it is just five small days.

Story line: Clint Sorils (Gene Evans), a gunfighter, has been shot over a stray bullet through his hat, is lying in bed with little hope of recovery. Some of the townspeople don't want him in town and send an emissary, Mr. Brewer, to tell Matt Dillon that they don't want him in town. Here is some of the dialogue (paraphrased in part):

Brewer: "Clint Sorils is a gunfighter."

Dillon: "That's probably what he will be remembered for. A lot of people probably forget that it was him and men like him that opened up this country, hunting, trapping."

But Sorils took a gun and killed a man.

In self-defense, yes...

Why jeopardize the health of a town for a crude mountain of filth like that?

Mr. Brewer, he has the legal right to be here. ...

Very simple Mr. Brewer. Just tell them he stays. In the first place, he can't be moved. We don't even know if he's going to live. In the second place, on the outside he may be a mountain of filth, inside he's a man."

Later, in the company of Miss Kitty, Sorils begins to recall his beloved squaw Amy and the finer times in his life, as a religious experience. He begins to recite a story of "five days of silence" in the mountains, with "no need" to talk, and sheep whose feet are "like prayer books" and the great happiness he felt at the time.

"Five days. I recall five days when no one talked. No need. Mountains pushing God higher. Elk. Moose low to the willow. Mountain sheep climbing and looking back, as if they had prayer books on their feet. (Hesh maomi) Don't lie. Don't quit. (wheezes) Amy. Amy. (I know you?) You couldn't die. But the hardest piece of day mo. Not you Amy. Oh Amy.

Remember our first Spring? And that meadow we has? Furs all around and that meadow. And the snows just gone now. And us lying there and all the time close swallows and even a sky fox. A girl don't need no more than that, does she? And there was a time I shot the supper grouse. The hen had chicks. I didn't know. Chicks. I always liked young-uns. Always... liked 'em. We never had no young-uns Amy. Why? A woman always will have them.

Amy. Oh Amy. You're the best squaw a man ever owned."
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Edgeplay (2004)
Surviving the '60's & '70's - have things really changed?
11 September 2008
"'Jail bait' rockers The Runaways tell their own tale -- their hopes, dreams and eventual implosion due to incessant media hectoring, infighting among the band members and chronic drug use. Directed by Victory Tischler-Blue, the film shows what it was like for six teenage girls to gain notoriety in an era hostile to female musicians. Includes live performances, a special appearance by Suzi Quatro and new songs by Quatro and Lita Ford."

Note the most important line in this review from Netflix: "shows what it was like for six teenage girls to gain notoriety in an era hostile to female musicians."

Finally, someone who is telling it like it was. That's it in a nutshell. Thank God (some of) those times have changed... on second thought, have they? The whole new crop of girls have probably gone through exactly the same thing. Christina Aquilera, Britney Spears, Beyonce, Rhianna, what's the difference, really? Some things never change. And worst of all, we do it to ourselves. We imprison OURSELVES. We buy in to the promise of "fame and fortune," and to "be somebody." That's all it takes for the devils of the world - the Kim Fowley's of the world - to capture one's soul and "make them mine."

Fowley was their notorious manager who practically destroyed these girls, stole their money, hearts and soul... yet these girls have somehow managed to survive. Bravo to them for telling their true tale even at this late date. The truth will set you free!

Pretty incredible film. Glad I never got trapped; at least not in that world. I escaped by the skin of my teeth and the Grace of God and all the angels above. Somehow I made a slightly different choice and somehow survived. All it took was "NO" at the moment of truth, the moment of commitment, and the Devil had no hold. And then some pretty fast running! Hahahahahah to all the Kim Fowleys of the world - and a big middle finger holding straight up!

Ten stars for this film, and the women themselves have my GREATEST ADMIRATION. Bravo to you ALL!
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How do we learn to Forgive?
30 May 2008
How do we learn how to forgive? How can I forgive if the person is no longer here? No longer speaking, nowhere near, no grave to visit, no unknown granddaughter to bring us together, no bear which forces us to face our fears. How do we learn to Love?

Love this film, love the soundtrack, the music, the vistas, the views; have watched it three times in a row right now. If only life could be like this. How can we do it? Questions remain.

I personally did not like Robert Redford's character. His rage is outstanding, inappropriate and wrong. He is not much different than the young man that took his anger out on Jennifer. He just uses words with women and fists with men. In a normal place, he would be in jail for his behavior. The worst of it is that he isn't even drinking anymore, and his rage and violence remains. It's so "American" to make the hero an angry warmonger. Out of the entire cast and film, this was my only complaint. When Captain Call in Lonesome Dove (Tommy Lee Jones) behaved this way, at least he knew he had overreacted, and felt some sense of shame. Redford shows none. What did he learn about "accidents" and forgiveness and rage? That "the bad guy" still "deserves it?"

I could see Mickey Rourke acting in this part with the ice-cold smoldering anger he carries to his films, but Redford? Never. Didn't like it at all. The day would come all too soon when the daughter-in-law or granddaughter would do "something" to instigate his ire, and then LOOK OUT.

Everything else was fantastic, Freeman (of course), the young grand daughter, and Jennifer Lopez was excellent. She is one of the most underrated actors of her generation. Sheldon Mirowitz, who did the soundtrack, is one of the most evocative composers of our time, practically unknown to me until now. I "listened" to this film three times in a row!

Great film and important story. Thanks to everyone concerned. Now if I just can just figure out how to do it for myself. "Face my bear" but what is his name? Where is he, except hungry & growling inside of me?
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Heartbreakingly beautiful from the very first sound...
8 April 2008
The moment the first note of the theme song came up on the screen, tears started to fill my eyes... I knew that the directorial debut by Ben Affleck, "Gone Baby Gone, was going to be a Great Film. All you had to do was LISTEN. All you have to do is HEAR.

You will be transported from the land of the living to the land of innocence lost and long gone and the longing for what we knew long ago and far away... it's that place we all know and long to return to that doesn't have a name.

You don't even have to watch the screen, even though you wouldn't want to miss a frame... This gorgeous, touching, heartbreaking soundtrack by Harry Gregson-Williams follows every fast-paced twist and turn down the rushing river that takes us on this tale of "right and wrong." The story is heartbreaking morality play, about the choices that we find that we must make, even when we don't want to take a side, and none of them seem right. The musical score by Harry Gregson-Williams perfectly sets the stage. The actors played their parts to the hilt, so that you could barely say who was "right" and who was "wrong." I will be thinking about this story for a long, long time.

Talking about the soundtrack, you could be a blind person and not have to watch a frame; just sit and listen to the voices and the song: you would know the tale of love, longing and loss, right and wrong and how we sometimes try to do our best. And so often do our worst.

I have come to believe that people are all too often "too terrible for words." They are selfish, greedy, full of fear and hatred; they are self-centered and cruel... Then along comes those few people who aren't. And those are the ones we call Heroes and Saints.

This is one of the best films, acting, directing and soundtrack I've seen in a long, long time. Simply tremendous... it was almost "three stories in one." I wish it could have gone on longer as a sequel, as there is so much more to the story to tell.

This is a tale that takes us to the land of innocence, so long ago and far away, which still survives in spite of whatever errors or terrible deeds we do. There may still be hope for us all... * * * * *
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Half Light (2006)
Beautiful film, gorgeous soundtrack available on iTunes
2 October 2006
I can't say enough about the beautiful soundtrack, which is finally available for download at iTunes due to a petition from interested parties! The acting, directing and camera work all deserves "10's" as well. Demi Moore turns in her usual excellent performance, and this film should have received many accolades.

In the meantime, don't miss the gorgeous soundtrack by Brett Rosenberg. There is also an excellent review link which I have posted below:

Tracks 1. Main Title (2:41) 2. The Drowning (5:32) 3. Dark Drive (1:09) 4. The Cottage (:51) 5. Rachel's Theme (1:00) 6. Thomas Appears / The Island (2:14) 7. Dreams and Drownings (3:18) 8. Lighthouse Vista (:54) 9. Love Theme (1:36) 10. Camera Flashback (:35) 11. Boat Journey (:35) 12. Morag's Vision (1:02) 13. Thomas Was Here (:33) 14. Boat Journey (alternate) (:39) 15. Get It On (1:13) 16. Got It On (:47) 17. Rachel's Healing (1:09) 18. He's Dead (1:38) 19. Haunted (2:51) 20. Broken Cross (1:10) 21. The Reflection (1:15) 22. Now You See Him... (3:15) 23. Losing It (:51) 24. Who's There? (:47) 25. Mr Angus Regrets (1:42) 26. The Houdini (4:50) 27. Farewell (:58) 28. Alone (1:27) 29. Girl In the Storm (1:45)
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The Missing (I) (2003)
Battle of Good & Evil, "two dogs fighting inside." Which one will you choose?
17 July 2006
To reviewer kevincisneros2003 from vega, new Mexico: I really enjoyed reading your review of the fascinating film "The Missing" (posted 9 March 2004). How do you know so much about this particular history of New Mexico? I noticed you are from New Mexico, but are you a western / history buff? Thank you so much for your excellent review. I would like to find out more about this era and would have really like for the film to continue, to never end. I'm going to look into the novel the film was taken from, called "The Last Ride" by Thomas Eidson. What a story.

What struck me the most in the film was how anger and fear crippled or killed everyone it touched, whether it was Blanchett's character refusing to marry, guarding anger in her heart to cover her grief, her hatred of her father for abandoning her and her mother; or the abducted girl's screams which "killed them all" when the Indian came to rescue his wife (or was it his daughter-in-law?). T. Lee Jone's character had "two dogs fighting inside himself, one evil and one good... that's why you are sick." Jones IS sick, alcoholic and fighting all the time, and sick from a rattlesnake bite. Asked by the brujo "which one will win?" He responds "Whichever one I feed the most." The brujo ruled by fear and knowledge of human weaknesses: being able to "see" into our heart and see our greatest cravings, sorrows and fears. He had no power of Jones's character, as Jones accepts his weaknesses and still "fights on." He will see to, and has made a commitment to it, wanting his "good side" to win.

The rattlesnakes hanging from the trees were an excellent example of that: it was not courage that led Jones to cut them down when they were hanging in the tree, placed there by the brujo for their venom and their fear. It was a visual barrier that would keep most people out of the brujo's power circle, but it didn't keep out Jones. It didn't keep out Blanchett.

For both of our heroes to live, they both had to give up guilt, anger and fear, in order to return the child and grandchild to each other and be a "real family" once again. Reconciliation must take place for them both to live. Jones wanted to live after being bit by a rattlesnake, and was following the instructions of a medicine man who saved him. Blanchett was following the instructions of her heart, which had not quite yet turned to stone. They had to work together; anyone else they might turn to had been killed or was unavailable, the sheriff and the Army was of no use, consequently there was no other way. The heart and soul of these two people wanted and needed to be reconciled.

They had both made a commitment to find the kidnapped girl - daughter and granddaughter, even though Jones does not know her name. Nothing would stand in their way. We see this from the beginning when they both cross that line. The other daughter makes the same commitment when she insists that she will follow along, even if you send me away, I'll just follow you anyway." The commitment is there, it is strong and it is recognized by all parties involved.

When Jones tells Blanchett it is time to "stop searching for her daughter," she says "I can't stop. How do you stop?" This, to me, this the most important line in the film. The Heart Must Go On. When Love overcomes Fear, the brujos of this world cannot win. It all comes down to us; "good dog, bad dog" which one will we choose? The "supernatural" or the "conflict" in the physical world is really the same: it comes down to "choice" and the age-old question of "free will." Which side do we choose, at any point in time? We make our choices over and over again, right or wrong.
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This film has moved me like no other...
14 January 2006
I have just seen the film "Brokeback Mountain" here in NYC, and this film has moved me like no other. I have looked up pertinent information on and am including it here, in case others have not noticed the original author or screenwriter's information.

The screenplay, by Larry McMurtry ("Lonesome Dove"), was based on a short story by E. Annie Proulx first published in the New Yorker in 1997. Proulx won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for "The Shipping News," another favorite film of mine.

"Her short story "Brokeback Mountain," which contains a character who is killed in a Wyoming gay-bashing, was published in The New Yorker in 1997, almost exactly one year before the real-life murder of gay Wyoming man Matthew Shepard. Proulx, who lived close to where Shepard was beaten, was called to but not selected for jury duty for the trial of Shepard's murders."

Proulx published her first novel at age 56. She was born in 1935 and McMurtry was born in 1936, so they are both around 70 years old. Maybe it's not all over for us yet!

I have read McMurtry's about cowboys and the west, and as the screenwriter here, he does the same terrific job he always does. It was filmed in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, so the scenery is stunning and well worth a trip to a "real big screen theater" which I haven't been to in many years.

I feel this film will change this country and this culture in ways we never could imagine, and it's long overdue. Tolerance and Understanding, or at least just "tolerance" would go a long way for all people to begin to get along and to live "free." Free from hate and fear, for starters.

"To enter heaven, one must bring it with them." Yours, Catherine Todd
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La bûche (1999)
Note: This review is from someone at, and HAD to be placed here! Thanks to "Glutton for books"
17 April 2005
My favorite holiday movie for modern times!, February 1, 2005

Reviewer:   Glutton for books - See all my reviews

The first time I watched "La Buche," was a few days before Christmas in 2000, when I was not able to visit the family for Christmas. I saw it with a French friend who was not able to go home either. It is an absolutely delightful French movie about the pressures associated with the holiday season, with thought -provoking characters. Much of it will make you laugh, but I hesitate to define it as a comedy, because the term implies a simplicity which the film exceeds by including many dramatic aspects of life; chief of these are questions of identity, what makes us happy in life, and who are family and what are they for.

The core of the plot is members of a family spending the Christmas together, who have not shared a Christams celebration in many years. La Buche refers to a type of Christmas cake often eaten in France during Christmas. For the uninitiated, the French please excuse my description, it resembles a large Liitle Debbie Swiss roll. The characters of the film, like family life, are full of unexpected surprises.

Yvette, mother of the family is grieving from the loss of her second husband, and the film opens at a funeral. Her deceased husband was a musician, as was her first husband. The person may have died but it seems that the jealousy lives on. The father of the family, Stanislas, is the mother's first husband. He usually spends the Christmas alone with his favorite daughter, Milla, believing that it should not be an stressful time for him because he is Jewish, trying unsuccessfully each year to avoid the pressure associated with the holiday and its memories of its painful past, such as when he left his life in Russia behind as an child immigrant with no possessions. This year he takes a different approach to Christmas, due to a near death experience, the recent widowhood of Yvette, and determination to make amends for mistakes from his past.

Neither parent was a perfect spouse, but the children (who are grown adults) have varying perceptions of who is the better person. There are three daughters: Milla views her mother with contempt, Sonia faults the father, and Louba seems equally devoted to both.

Sonia and Milla seem the epitome of success; one with an apparently ideal marriage and family, one with a thriving career. The other daughter, Louba, appears to be the least ambitious and successful in life. But what really constitutes ideas like ambition, success, and happiness? How should these values to be qualified? What guarantees do we have for stability in life in our pursuit or implementation of such qualities? Apparently, one of Stanislas' most cherished Christmas memories was when as a poor child he received one simple toy, and the gift of a safe place to spend the night.

In addition to the traditional family, there is Joseph a boarder to whom Stanislas rents his former music studio, and who has a young child from a previous marriage and desperately wants to spend Christmas with her. Joseph rushes Stanislas to the hospital and saves his life; a service which makes the daughters curious to learn more about him and his life.

To delve too much into explaining the characters of the film, gives away much of the film's surprises that make it so enjoyable. In true form to good characterization, no one is exactly whom they first appear to be, and learning who they really are is the best part of the viewing experience.

There is much stress during the holiday season to pretend that life is working out according to plans and that you are happy, because it is a time for celebration. Even those who are not formally religious experience this pressure during the holiday season.

This movie examines that phenomena and makes you feel that you are not an anomaly for feeling tension associated with encountering family during that time of the year. By the end of the film, you feel it is okay to admit the problems that pretension of perfection exerts on your life, even if it is Christmas. In fact, the film teaches that the ability to share your imperfections and sorrows, as well as your hidden aspirations is part of what constitutes a family, and exercising this ability cements your familial relations for the better. Despite the gravity of the characters' problems and conflicts, this is ultimately a great feel-good film, that can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
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Fantastic; want more!
24 December 2003
This movie by Robert Duvall was fantastic, and moved me to actually sign up for tango lessons! The film bears two or three viewings to really get the "feel" of the whole storyline, and the "heart" of the personalities... at first I did not like it as I was expected another "preacher" story (Duvall's first fantastic film he wrote as well). However, subsequent watchings served greater and greater understanding, which can be the mark of many a great work of art.

The DVD has great deleted scenes and commentaries which helped make sense of the complicated story line unfolding before our eyes. I wish I could have been there, speaking Spanish with Duvall, walking the tree lined boulevards and sitting on the old stone benches; feeling the warm breeze all around. What a taste treat all around. Hope there are many sequels to this one. The first one was "just a taste."

"The Tango is Life" in all its travails, majesty and glory ~ hardships, suffering, love, hate, goodness and evil... I would like to know more. I truly hope Duvall brings this character back to life and shows us "what comes next." Fascinating!
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True-to life...
25 November 2003
So true to life it made me cry. Exactly how I grew up, "expatriate" and all. The acting and direction and locations were perfect in every way, and this film takes a number of viewings to "see it all." Excellent recommendations all around.
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One of the best films I've seen this year...
15 June 2003
Does everything have to be spelled out in "black and white" for american film audiences here? I am amazed that this film would "bomb" given it's incredible mesh of past and present, in the drama of "love and war" ("love and rage").

There are so many things happening here on all levels; my only complaint is that the film wasn't longer in order to tell the "whole story." There are so many things to see here; gorgeous filming and incredible soundtrack; haunting that has stayed with me for days... enough for me to rent the film again and watch it again and search for the soundtrack (which doesn't seem to be available) and to buy the best-selling novel this film was based on, to "find out more."

How this young girl, who was a "product of her times" and punished for her times, could be misunderstood by all critics and many movie-goers, and people miss the point of how the past meets the present in the human heart, it beyond me.

This film deserves a better review than I am giving it right now, and I intend to write one at a later date, after seeing it again.

Thank you to all concerned, and to all the actors who gave incredible performances (including Hurley, who, like all the others) - especially our two "heroines," past and present - gave excellent performances, perfect for our times.

I have not seen such a perfect film in a long, long time. The only problem was that it was not long enough to tell the whole story; but leaves much to the imagination and to comparison between "then" and "now."

Perhaps two hours is simply not enough time; the best films I have seen run three hours. That may have made all the difference. Such filmmaking, such gorgeous music... wind and waves, floating slowly down and down and down
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The Prime Gig (2000)
A Conversation with the Devil
8 June 2003
Prime Gig, The (2000)

A Conversation with the Devil

This film has EVERYTHING to recommend it, and is one of the most thought-provoking films I've seen in a long time.

With a careful viewing and attention to the dialogue, much can be learned here. In fact, I will need to watch it a number of times, as there is so much there... just "skimming the surface" or bubbling beneath. I wish I could read the dialogue in script form, as it has so much power. Obviously, much attention was paid to the writing of it.

This film is truly "A Conversation with the Devil," with an angel at hand... There are so many pointers, yet they are easy to miss... He knows just what your weaknesses are, and plays only to that. Does he succeed in the end?

One on-screen example that comes to mind, is something to the effect of (paraphrasing here), spoken by Ed Harris, as the Top Dog:

"I watch TV, not for the shows, but for the ads: the ads are the Truth. I know what you feel, watching all those things you don't have (the fancy watch, the expensive car) and I know how worthless it makes you feel... And I never knew how easy it is to find Peace.

Remember Christmas, what was the thing that gave you the most pleasure? Not the bike you got for Christmas or for Hanukah; not the gifts you received, but the Frisbee you bought for your brother and the look on his face when he opened it. That's what you remember."

Another scene has our scammer asking for `The Truth,' and in response he is told:

`She trusts you. Don't disappoint her' and leaves the final decision and `fact-finding mission' up to him. What does he do? Does he trust his `instinct' that he stated at the start? This determines the outcome to our fallen hero, does it not?

The Devil never lies to anyone; he just twists or leaves out all of the truth. This is an amazing display for which everyone involved falls for, just like we all do in real life. Yet would `love' make a difference in this world we see on the screen, which is a reflection of the world that we create. We don't know what difference an `expression of real love' would have made, but are left to wonder and perhaps to `try again next time.'

How to trust, what to trust, who to trust? What is Real and What is False, and What Difference Does It Make in the End? These are the BIg Questions here.

The Devil gives many, many examples of "trust" when he falls off the back hoe into the telemarketers arms; he has "set the stage" perfectly for the things to come, where nothing is as it seems to be. Just how the Devil operates here. And all are tested; how far will they go in their treatment of others, and this determines their own "reward" or their own fate, it seems.

We start out with a scammer, who ultimately gets scammed. This scammer has a good side (as do we all?) in that he takes care of a childhood friend who is crippled, and we see the loneliness and heartbreak he goes through as he 'enables" and "cares for" this physically helpless friend. But does his friend take advantage of him; does he take advantage of others, does he ever feel "love" for anyone else?

He wants the gorgeous girl (played by one of my favorite actresses, Julia Ormond), but when he "has her," what does he do? Would she have acted the way she did, in the end, if he had acted differently?

Smashing performance from Ed Harris, as the resident "Big Dog" devil. I'll watch anything with Harris in it; in his "later years" he is becoming the Clark Gable / Cary Grant of our generation, able to play good guys and bad.

Vince Vaughn plays this character perfectly, and my estimation of him has also risen many notches. Will be looking for more work from him.

The rest of the cast were perfect (especially the "lead salesman" who says "this is MY house!") as was the dialogue and direction of this `low -life - low-key" REAL LIFE film. No "blockbuster easy-ending" here; we wander through the world on this incredible journey, looking for love, looking for love, looking for security; we wander through the maze and get blown away at the end. Just like in our own lives, at the end of the days.
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A most unfortunate look at society today.
12 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Note: this review may contain a 'spoiler." Pregnant mothers and mothers with newborns should NOT view this film! Too real and too terrible for words, but a very important film with a story that needs to be told. It appears that some have dismissed this film as "too incredible," or "not believable," but these people must have never been through it, or seen a friend go through it. This film moved me like no other. Having witnessed first hand friends of mine who have lost children to SIDs (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), I could appreciate the sentiments and experiences of the characters in this film. The cruelty of "friends" and the idea that the mother AND father who lost her child were now somehow "unfit" to be near, or have their [former] social circle's children near, was heartbreaking, and only too true in our so-called "modern" society, where everything must be "just fine" in order to avoid being shunned or rejected. What is this curse that afflicts our white middle class, especially "educated white middle class" females? Why would this young couple be further punished, after experiencing one of the worst kinds of pain, that of losing a child? Why does our society have no rituals of comforting those who are bereaved, other than a church service and an "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that..." as if talking about it and, more importantly, EXPRESSING GRIEF OUTWARDLY is taboo. Is death and grief so unacceptable in today's world that those that have contact with it, or inadvertently experience it, must be punished further? Is no comfort to be offered, outside of "paying a therapist," "taking medication" or going to yet another group, this time a "grieving group?" Is it still "Blame the Mother" for anything and everything that goes "wrong?" Does nature, or "the Creator," never have the right or the obligation to end a life for it's own reasons or purposes, or perhaps because something in a child did not develop right? Are we never to accept the natural events of life or of God or of anything that we "don't like" or "don't expect" or "didn't plan for this to happen?" Who can you sue when a child dies? Whose "fault" is it? Why is it so impossible to accept death in today's society, and why do we punish the mothers who are touched by it, and grieve the most in it? Are we all "supposed" to be living a "Martha Stewart kind of life?" Does Death have no meaning or purpose in this world? The actors were all cast perfectly and their dialogue was so natural and "on the mark," it felt like they were in my own living room. I had wondered how far this "idyllic" pregnant mother's group would last, and to my horror and surprise, it didn't last past the birth of the first child in the group, to the most innocent of the group. The cruelty displayed by all the couples towards the couple (both mother and father) who had lost their child was horrendous, heartbreaking and all too true, even in "this modern day and age." What will anthropologists have to say about us when they study our American culture as practiced by educated, middle class white men and women who are my own age? The fact that this poor mother ultimately was forced to lie about being pregnant again to finally "gain acceptance" once again was truly heartbreaking, and a comment on how far "friendship" truly goes, in our "average white middle class America." The director, Marc Forster; the writers Catherine Lloyd Burns (who also played "Judith" in the film) and Adam Forgash (writer and producer of the film), and all the actors are to be commended for their complete and accurate portrayal of our modern experience and reaction to "death" or anything that "goes wrong," for that matter. The "witch" of the women's group (the "leader of the pack") is particularly to be commended at giving such a perfect portrayal as the ringleader, who leads the charge in ostracizing the most beautiful and innocent member, through her own jealousy and greed. She doesn't even like her own children, but is so "proud" to be "breeding" again. Is she nothing but an ever-present and ever-active brood mare? Do any of these women have an ounce of compassion in their hearts? What do they consider "friendship" to be? Did "witch trials" ever end? Marc Forster is the same director who brought us "Monster's Ball." This is a stunningly beautiful dreamlike film that quickly turns into a psychological nightmare, based solely on natural events and the human reactions to those events. Death touches us all, and we must learn to accept and revere it in the same spirit we supposedly accept and revere birth. It's all part of the same cycle, and we all "live forever" through the turning of this wheel. "Everything Put Together" is a must see film and one that will stay with you. Simply incredible.
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Sirens (1994)
Funny & Inspiring, gorgeous music
7 May 2003
This film was funny and inspiring, with beautiful music by Rachel Portman (the "only" female composer in films in the "top ten" almost all male composer lists). Lots in this film will stay with you; especially the scenes with Australian animals and waters and snakes. Great philosophical and comedic themes as well. Bears watching a number of times to "get it all." Thanks to everyone concerned for making this wonderful and funny film; first time I've smiled in a long time!
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Evelyn (2002)
Great & Important Story
30 April 2003
As a single parent thirty years ago in the United States, I can identify completely with what this father went through to regain his children. Although I never lost my child, the threat was always there as single parents were considered "unfit" regardless of how unfit two parents together might be! I applaud everyone involved in this film for making it - particularly actors of the stature we find here - for telling these kinds of important stories about how our laws are made and changed, and showing that Faith, Hope and Love - in the beginning, middle and end - is the only thing that matters. It is so hard for me to see this so much of the time; every reminder I am shown, as in this heart rending and touching film is truly a blessing "not in disguise." Thanks to the entire cast and crew and financial backers of this truly beautifully done, artfully arranged and superbly acted and directed film. You have done a great service to us all.
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Great Film, with a spiritual message all the way through.
8 April 2003
This film seems to deal with the "reality" of good and evil, and the "free will" that we all contain. Bullock's character sees "the whole world" and every man she meets, and every date she goes on, as the man she most feared in her past, and lives her life accordingly (i.e. defensively). The devil is played in this film as another high school student, so young and so seductive and so rich and popular: one of the "cool kids" who has his way with everyone he meets. He is a mind reader and plays off everyone's weaknesses, and knows just how to find them. One young female high school student, seduced by this devil, says to the other student (who is truly in his grip): "you aren't responsible, he seduced you like he seduced me." This, to me, is a major focus of the story surrounding this film. Can it be true that we are simply "seduced" and remain innocent of what we have done? Or do we all have the ability to make a choice in what we do, and are we responsible for the consequences of ALL actions; i.e. what we do and what is done to us? I think the latter. Bullock plays her character with great strength and character, and the other characters are truly believable (all except the "devil" who isn't quite enough good looking to look like the devil I imagined, but that also made him all the more fearful, since he was so young and so heartless and so cruel). This is an incredible film, and I applaud Bullock for making it. The message is about choice and what happens when we make the wrong ones, and live our lives out of sadness, grief and fear. Who sang the beautiful song in the film? Too bad there is not a CD to go along with this inspiring film, or that doesn't list all the song titles along with other movie credits. This film has great music all the way through.
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Hard Promises (1991)
Great film; simple and real.
25 March 2003
How do you let go of that "first love" when he's not the right one? A wonderful film with, finally, love and acceptance at the end. What do you do when the high school prom king you married turns out to be a clown, or Peter Pan who will never grow up?

"But you're my home; you can't leave." "You used our home like a motel"

as she finally marries someone else.

He then goes for the little girl, his daughter, who also finally sees through his "promises" and says "Daddy, you don't have to make promises you can't (or won't) keep... I love you anyway, just the way you are."

Love and acceptance: so easy to say, so hard to do... a heck of a wonderful film to promote the reality of relationships and the beauty of the "stable guy" who may not make your heart race, but is there for you thick and thin.

Something to think about, for a long long time. Who wrote the great title songs with screaming guitar? Where can I purchase a CD?
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Heartbreakingly Beautiful film
19 March 2003
What happens in a family when the father is an alcoholic, and how that family and little boy survives. A picture too many of us know all too well, shown with mercy, clarity and compassion. Incredibly well-acted, written and directed by all concerned.

Amazing that the demon alcohol "practices what he preaches" all over the world, whether it is in the United States or Russia, where the film takes place. Wish I could buy this film; it was the first time I could come to some kind of terms with my own experiences of the helplessness of children when they are faced with alcoholism in their parents and the ones they love and rely on. The little boy did magnificently.
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One of the best films I have seen, produced almost thirty years ago, viewed for the first time today! (2003)
18 March 2003
"Un autre homme, une autre chance (1977)"

"Another Man, Another Chance"

This is one of the best films I have seen in years; hard to believe that it was written and directed almost 27 years ago. A lyrical, beautiful and moving film with a storyline so believable, it is as if I were with them, on the dusty roads and the rolling hills and plains, seeing the Great Southwest unfolding before my eyes.

This film is even better if you know some French, but not necessary... The "true to life" historical film has so much meaning on a personal level; it is as if I were "let in" to read someone's private diary, with nothing held back. Such thoughts I wish I had...

Thank you so much, to the director and writer, Claude LeLouch; and to the actors James Caan and Geneviéve Bujold. They are all excellent in every way. I wish I could have "been there" myself at this point in time, and after seeing this film I was able to "live in their painting" for just a little while. I actually watched it two times in a row, it was so beautiful in all ways.

No "blockbuster" needed here; just the storyline of these people's lives. I can't wait to see what other films this fine French director has brought to the screen, as I had never heard of him before. Caan and Bujold are at their finest, as always. Thanks to both of them, as well.

I think I read that this was a true story of the author's grandparents, or greatgrandparents, his grandmother who was French and this was their life. Most interesting of all. We are all immigrants seeking the Promised Land.

With my sincerest and most heartfelt thanks, Catherine Todd
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Convicts (1991)
A true "moment in time." Fabulous film.
8 March 2003
Robert Duvall is a direct descendent of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, according the movie database. After seeing this film, you may think Duvall's appearance is reincarnation at it's best. One of my most favorite films. I wish the composer, Peter Rodgers Melnick had a CD or there was a soundtrack available. Wonderful scenery and music and "all too-true-to-life," especially for those of us that live in, or have moved to, the South. This is a "real moment in time." Life moves on, slowly, but "strangers we do not remain."
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Perfume (2001)
Incredible film; bears watching more than once!
25 November 2002
If you've ever been around "the fashion world," or grown up reading "fashion magazines," you will understand EXACTLY what this film portrays: "Life, Exactly As They Know It!" The "choppiness" and "vagueness" objected to by other reviewers is EXACTLY why this is such a great film, why this is such a "Real" film: anyone who has ever been around "these people" will see exactly how the dialogue mirrors "real life" in the fashion / magazine biz. The "one real scene" between Hemmingway and the photographer (as described by another reviewer) is precisely showing how rare and difficult a "real" moment is to find. In fact, they are ALL "real scenes," wherein lies their power. The scene where the daughter, (not "drug addled," by the way, as described by another reviewer) who is the antithesis of "fashion," describes how reading magazines "makes her feel bad about herself" and her mother's instant rejection and leaving of the restaurant, is telling precisely the truth. And then any woman who rejects "fashion standards" is left alone at the table. The emptiness of the life and the constant ebb and flow of current, changing tides, makes any real or lasting connection impossible. This is even alluded to with Paul Sorvino in one discussion about going to the hip-hop look: something to the effect of "in Europe, classic can last... in America, you have to keep moving!" Then the hip hop boys point out that the baggy-pants hip hop look was born from poverty and "10 brothers and sisters, but the suburban kids will follow" even at an unaffordable $150.00 a pop! But that's the game!" Until I saw this film, I never understood why I was not accepted - could never connect with anyone in the "Fashion Crowd" when I lived in Paris and New York. Now I know why. What was there to connect to? People who "didn't want to be nothing" People who made their living preying on others creativity and beauty, at the cost of making everyone else feel like "less?" An industry that feeds on people's insecurities and wanting to "fit in?" I liked the daughter the best. She stood alone, sad and lost, but stayed true to herself in the end and went on home, wherever that might be. There are so many profound statements in the dialogue of this film that it would be worth printing every one of them here. Perhaps some film buff / college student might write a dissertation on this film alone. Who sang the beautiful music with hip hop and opera combined? I would love to have a music CD of the film, and am buying the DVD just so I can "listen to the film" again and again. Hope to see more. Thank you all! Great job!
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Incredible Film, bears watching again.
22 November 2002
Ridley Scott "hit it big" with Gladiator (one of my favorite films, and a perfection meld of story, cast and crew), but this film about Columbus and his search for a "New World" was the precursor. I have watched the film again recently, twice over, in 2002, and it's power and impact is even greater than when it first came out in 1992.

Yet how does one "conquer Paradise?" This premise is probably why the "New World" he "found" and built was doomed to failure from the start. Human Nature, at it's "best" is a failure, is it not? As stated in the film, we carry heaven and hell within us, at all times.

When one does not learn another's language, as brought out so clearly in the film, how can one hear? How can one speak? How can one live in peace with others if we do not see their side? How does one discover a new place and not bring the devil by his side?

How can one conquer anything and expect to find peace, and contribute to and maintain the harmony that already exists?

One act threw the entire colony into chaos, and disaster followed. One act by the devil, acting out of greed, jealousy and rage.

The screen writer in particular bears great compliments for her perception of the laws of nature and of the spirit: forgiveness, once again, bears witness to the only path to Paradise: the Path of God.

How we find this "new world" is beyond me, but a path worth searching for, whether we be Columbus with 17 ships or a lone traveler on a long and dusty road.

To all the people involved in the making of this film: I commend you!
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Fantastic Film, Fantastic Life
14 February 2002
I love this film more than any other, and think about it all the time. Judith Diem obviously was put here on earth for a very special role, and lived it to the fullest.

She showed women they "could be free" by example, in her every day life, bringing beauty and dreams to the forefront of her daily life... by "painting, painting, always painting" and carrying her works with her wherever she went. She showed her children they "could be free" and enabled them to pursue their art and their dreams, bringing a "vision of life" to reality, each and every day. God provided for her, and the angels protected her, and the Chief of the Village "had her house ready for her" when she arrived. She was definitely "meant to be there."

I very much hope this film is made available for purchase, as it shows us all a "different way to live" and "a life worth living." I would love to watch it every day.

Thanks to all the participants in the making of this film, and to Judith for making this film a possibility; "dreams to reality" and this is what she has done.

Yours truly, Catherine Todd
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Varian's War (2001 TV Movie)
Very important story
10 February 2002
"Varian's War" is a very important film and I, for one, am glad to see films of this kind being made. Thanks to Barbara Streisand for backing it, and to the writer and director and composer for the beautiful music, to William Hurt and Julia Ormond and all the other fine actors for showing us all, that ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Look what this one man has done, all by himself, creating a group and raising money and saving the lives of some of the greatest thinkers, artists, musicians and others who have moved our cultures and civilization forward, and saved our souls.

Thanks to everyone, as this film has given me much to think about and much to strive for. I hope it becomes available for purchase as I would like my students and everyone I know to see it, at least one time, and consider what course of action we might all take - if only for once in our lives - that might make the tiniest bit of "difference" as Varian has done. Yours sincerely, Catherine Todd
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When the Spirit Moves Us to be True
14 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
"Enslavement, the True Story of Fanny Kemble"

When the Spirit Moves Us to be True

The story of "Enslavement, the True Story of Fanny Kemble" is a true story about a woman I knew nothing about. This is a fabulous film, and Jane Seymour and her husband James Keach are to be honored for making it, and for Showtime for showing it! I hope someday Showtime releases this film for purchase, for I will be first in line. Congratulations to BlockBuster for renting it, or I would never have stumbled upon it. (Side note; If you wondered about the truly wonderful love scenes between the doctor and Fanny, that is why: Seymour and Keach seem to truly have an otherworldly love for each other that glows on the screen. But back to our story:

Despite "everyone" in the United States and the state of Georgia being against her; i.e. those who believed in racism and upheld slavery; those who were perpetrating cruelty upon other human beings in the name of "this is the way it is," Ms. Kemble remained true to her spirit and the spirit of justice, and the spirit of love. What amazed me most about Seymour's portrayal was the running theme of "love and forgiveness" that stayed steady and strong throughout.

Kemble forgave her husband his malicious cruelty and always reminded him (and herself) of her initial love for him, and he for her, which caused them to marry.

The Spirit entered her and went through her, when she threw her arms around the boy who was to receive 100 lashes with the whip, resulting in certain death: literally being whipped to death. This was not a punishment in those times solely reserved for slaves: criminals and soldiers who deserted in the army were also punished and put to death in this way. In fact, sometimes "justice" was meted out so that you could choose to take 10 lashes a day for ten days or take the whole 100 at once and die. Many who chose to "spread them out" for a chance at survival gave up and gave in, in the end, as they could not bear the torture any longer.

Death was a welcome relief.

There was no guarantee that Ms. Kemble's husband or friends or allies would not also have her put to death for her "interference" and "disobedience." Women did not have many, if any, real rights in this era of civilization, particularly in this era in the South.

Yet that was a risk that she took to save that boy's life and the lives of the sick and injured who were enslaved on their farm; a plantation that farmed human misery for all to behold.

Fanny steadfastly opposed injustice even when it cost her the loss of her children for five long years, waiting for her divorce and separation agreement.

It was interesting to see how her husband melted and was molded by her "cooperation," even though she was "acting" most of the time. It was profound when HE called HER "a demon" who "made him burn his house down" when the DEMON had taken possession of him. Yet Fanny continued to do what she could to alleviate suffering in this world, even at great cost to herself.

This woman did what she believed was right, in the name of truth, justice, love and forgiveness; her beauty (a combination of all the principles we hold dear) was a shining testament to the spirit within.

If it had not been for the long and lonely years she spent on that Georgia plantation, and had it not been for her having to turn to her journal for any relief or comfort at all, the truth and the facts of slavery in this country would never have been known, and as pointed out, England may well have not joined with the Union Army to put an end to slavery in the United States.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? God plucked Fanny Kemble from the English stage and sent her to America, and granted her riches and fame enough so that her story would be heard. Could she have ever dreamed of this when she "fell in love" and moved to Georgia, to be lost for so long? Yet steadfast and true, even when those she was trying to help had apparently turned against her, she forgave them their weaknesses and failings and kept her eyes "turned to the Light."

She never gave up and she never gave in, and kept the ideals of beauty, truth, justice and compassion in the forefront at all times.

God chooses us all for a certain task at hand, and who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Jane Seymour and the Keaches did a marvelous job, bringing us a story I had never known, yet has inspired me personally to continue on my own personal quest. thanks to all for making this film! I hope I can find out where to buy it, since it was "made for cable" and needs to be seen by any and all who need sustenance in the dark times, to know that we can all "move into the light." Even Kemble's husband, Pierce Butler, sees himself in the mirror and asks for forgiveness in the end. The spirit moved him and it moved her at the same time.

My only question is: what takes "the Spirit" so long???
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