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Comrade Genghis

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16 reviews in total 
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2 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Embarrassingly amateurish, 1 December 2000

I love Hawthorne's novel. And this miniseries is VERY faithful to the novel. But if what you're looking for is a faithful rendition of the book, don't waste your time with this...JUST READ THE BOOK. This film is pointless: it brings absolutely nothing new to the tale, and it's not at all interesting to watch. The actors evidently have no idea what to do with the script; perhaps they have trouble expressing feeling with archaic dialogue, or perhaps it was because of incompetent direction. The director plods through most of the film with basic camera shots (there's nothing wrong with that, of course, so long as what you're watching is interesting [which in this case it is not]); at a few scattered points, however, he makes an attempt to do something artsy - like when Dimmesdale whips himself and when Hester is standing on the scaffold in the nocturnal scene - but these shots not only look out-of-place with the rest of the film but one gets the impression that they were put there just to show off rather than to really say something. Perhaps they (and the rest of the film) would have come off better if the production values had been more than nil, which I can only assume they must have been.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A forgotten gem, 25 November 2000

While this film lacks real solid direction, the script is smart enough to make up for it. It's got more daring gags, pointed zingers, and comedic twists than your average comedy script. What really makes this one sparkle, though, is Shirley MacLaine's HILARIOUS performance in the lead. Her tour-de-force puts many of her big-name male co-stars to shame, but they're good enough to at least keep you laughing.

Depressing, but brilliant, 11 November 2000

Modern America as dystopia.

AMERICAN BEAUTY is quite painful to watch, because it is so brutally honest, and there is not much effort made to make the characters likeable. Several of the characters are intentionally empty, generic; they speak blankly and in cliches. And they are all selfish. Selfish, self-important, perpetually insatiable, and unhappy. It is "me-centred" living that makes them so. Only when characters really begin to care about others, and when others care about them, do they begin to feel happiness again. The message is presented well, not at all in a schmaltzy manner...all this and they even managed to include a pseudo-happy ending without destroying the point made elsewhere in the movie.

Painful to watch, yes, and yet still one cannot help realising that what he is watching is brilliance. Brilliant writing and a very interesting directorial interpretation and style. To witness it is worth the pain, at least once. Would I watch it again? Well, not if I were in a very giddy mood, and not if I were in a very depressed mood; this is not a good choice to watch if you are very emotionally charged. Perhaps if I were in one of those rare, very calm, eye-of-the-storm moods, I would enjoy watching it again. Regardless, however, this is one film that will stay with me for a long time.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Camp appeal!!!!!!!, 25 October 2000

I love this show. The melodrama's the best part. I love the way it's set up like a sports show. I love the way the host is dressed like Liberace. I love the dramatic entrance of the theme ingredient. "And the theme ingredient is..." (tension mounts...what is it? what will it be???) "BROCCOLI!!!" Enter an enormous load of broccoli. I love the way some (not all) of the Japanese celebrities are so haughty, which makes them look like a fool since we Americans haven't heard of them. I like the way other celebrities are so honest, simple, and likable (like that fortune-teller). She's cool.

I like cooking, but being a staunch vegetarian I don't often watch cooking shows that regularly feature slaughtered animals as ingredients. However, this show I can't tear myself away from. That's how much fun it is. I once watched an Iron Chef make an ice-cream-like dessert out of sardines. What's not to love?

(I will concede, however, that some of the English voice-dubbing is annoying after awhile. But it's worth it.)

These chefs really are awesome, by the way. They are creative and boy do they know their craft. All kidding aside, I bow to the Iron Chefs, and those brave enough to challenge them.

"Cosby" (1996)
Great cast; writing good at first, went downhill later, 21 October 2000

Overall the short four-year run of this series was enjoyable. This is due in large part to an excellent cast, including (of course) Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, and the late Madeline Kahn. The supporting cast, including Doug E. Doug and T'Keyah Crystal Keymah, was also wonderful. The show was clean, hip, and classic Cosby. Some classic moments in the beginning; after Madeline Kahn left the series (and sadly passed away shortly afterward), it was never the same. Darien Sills-Evans is a good enough actor, but he was no substitute for "Pauline." In addition, COSBY unfortunately became CBS's dumping ground for government-sponsored "public service messages" disguised as sitcom plots. In COSBY's last days, the scripts weren't as good anymore either; uneven writing in the end was what did the show in, leaving behind some classic moments from the first few years.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Quite entertaining, 15 October 2000

More than the fluff it may appear at first, this is actually a sharp social satire that makes a few jabs at both feminism and male chauvinism. Furthermore, although the two female leads are seemingly everything the feminist movement abhors, the irony is that they are pretty darn wily, intelligent women (one more intelligent than the other perhaps) who know how to get what they want.

This is, of course, classic Monroe, and Russell is also wonderful. (She does a hysterical impression of her co-star.) Monroe does a good job with "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," although in my opinion Carol Channing sang it better.

Mame (1974)
26 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely one of my favourite movies, 15 October 2000

Yes, Lucille was filmed in soft focus. No, Lucille did not play Mame exactly like Rosalind Russell. Yes, Warner Brothers was foolish in rejecting Angela Lansbury. But if you are willing to look past that, you will find a WONDERFUL motion picture.

Although Paul Zindel perhaps changed more than necessary in his script rewrite, this is still some GREAT material. And one could not have asked for better direction or supporting cast. Gene Saks did a wonderful job on all counts...the cinematography is marvellous (if you can find the wide-screen version) and the whole film is delightfully theatrical. The art direction is to die for; Ball's singing notwithstanding, the musical arrangement is superior to the Broadway recording (possibly excepting "It's Today" and the title number [although it's still very much enjoyable]); and Wayne Fitzgerald's title sequence is one of the best in film history. Although there are a few notes here and there that may make one wince, Ball's singing is really NOT THAT BAD.

Folks expecting a musical duplicate of AUNTIE MAME, however, are in for a surprise. Rosalind Russell's performance, which I love, was outrageously campy; Ball interprets Mame quite differently, and plays her much less flamboyantly. Her portrayal is not as inherently funny as Russell's, but Ball is still a grand actress, and she shows real human emotions very well in MAME. Did Angela Lansbury deserve the film role? Most definitely. Lansbury, of whom I am an enormous fan, devoted years of her life to perfecting the role on Broadway (and she DID perfect the role), and she was more than willing to do the film. It is indeed a tragedy that we have no film record of her performance, but that should not be a factor in judging the quality of this film. Ball was perhaps older than the role called for, but she was an able Mame. Everyone around her, especially the great Bea Arthur and the superb Jane Connell (undoubtedly one of the most underappreciated comic actresses alive), is brilliant.

What was Ball doing in this picture in the first place? Although she had wanted the part badly ever since AUNTIE MAME was released, it was NOT her financial backing that took this part away from Lansbury. Initially she avidly pursued the role (not even her confidante Desi Arnaz could talk her out of it), but after she broke her leg in 1973 she had a sort of reality check. Realising that she was not in any kind of shape for the part, she told the producers that she was backing out of the movie. Warner Brothers promptly flew a representative out to see her and insist on delaying production for her, saying that she was the only reason the picture was being made in the first place. Lucy was a somewhat insecure person, as well as a person always concerned about others' jobs; feeling that dropping out of the picture would leave everyone else working on it out of a job, she acquiesced. Even when the director begged for Angela Lansbury, Warner Brothers refused on the basis of "star power." It was balderdash, of course, but the business side of show business unfortunately is always in the way of the artistic side.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
One of the best comedies, 15 October 2000

A great opening sequence and song leads the way to some classic laughs and a brilliantly complex structure of comedy. Some people complain that there's too much going on at once, but I like it better that way. This film is an absolute joy to watch. The acting is great, it's nicely directed (with some creative visual effects during the musical numbers), and while the score has been abbreviated what there is is very witty, classic Sondheim.

I absolutely cannot believe that some people can complain about this film because of its "misogynic overtones." It's set in ancient Rome, for God's sake! I'm as feminist as the next person, but this film does women no more wrong than the society it lampoons. LIGHTEN UP.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
This movie is SO bad..., 15 October 2000

This movie is SO bad, that it looks like it could have been made by an upstart manure salesman from El Paso with a sad little home-movie camera. Oh, wait...IT WAS. (No offence to any manure salesmen...I'm sure some of them really do have talent.)

Really, this little piece of film is so pathetic that it's questionable whether it even qualifies as a "movie." The taglines didn't lie, though: it certainly is "shocking," and "beyond your imagination," how something this laughable managed to garner a release (complete with a "gala world premiere").

The posters tease, "We defy you to guess the ending!...and ask you not to divulge it!" They must have been talking about that question mark, which incidentally was the only truly scary part of the movie for what it suggested (you'll have to see the movie yourself to see what I'm talking about).

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Biting satire, no-holds-barred hilarity...long overdue, 30 September 2000

Often, a new show either has a lackluster pilot followed by an absolutely brilliant series, or else they have a promising pilot followed by a disappointing series. It's often difficult to tell the future of a brand-new series. As for GROSSE POINTE, however, the second episode was every bit as smart as the first.

So the WB network brings us a show that pokes fun at teen primetime soap melodramas...the very shows for which WB is known. It's about time that this genre was spoofed. But this show goes beyond satire: the behind-the-scenes situations are just as wickedly funny as are the fictional "Grosse Pointe" scenes. There is already a behind-the-scenes love triangle, but thankfully there is absolutely no mush. I have the feeling that I'll be watching this show for a long time.

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