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awehman's reviews view profile

Two films challenging convention - Beware DVD misprinting  
on July 29, 2008 - 12:51 PM PDT
  of Luis Bunuel: Gran Casino (1947)
1 out of 3 members found this review helpful

A highlight from Gran Casino was the trio of back-up singers who appear in many creative roles. The central theme was that good people can come from jail and evil people can come from high places. For me, this film was less of a revelation than The Young One.

The Young One was probably a very risky film for 1960. The most compelling character is the black jazz musician Traver on the run from a false rape charge. The film is very racially charged and the white men say many shocking things including the dehumanization of Traver. It reminded me of the scene in Schindler's List where the Nazi tells the Jew "I realize that you are not a person in the strictest sense of the word". There are two characters with more temperate racial views, including the young girl raised on an island who is oblivious to issues of race and a visiting preacher who sounds like he's reading lines out of a textbook on temperance.
Relaxing meditative yoga  
on October 27, 2007 - 1:07 PM PDT
  of Yoga for Beginners - A.M./Stress Relief/P.M (1998)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

This DVD is a set of three 20 minute sets plus a list of instructions for the different poses. I found the first AM set too gentle (and a little boring), but it should be easy for beginners. The second stress relief set will take some practice, because it moves relatively quickly. The third PM set is also fairly easy. The routines include use of props including a mat, block, and strap. The emphasis for all three is on meditation, stretching, and breathing. The list of pose instructions is nice, but static. This DVD would be good for relaxation, but not for exercise. Unfortunately, the DVD isn't set up (with chapters) to skip the 3-minute introductions for each class, so you have to listen to them or scan through them every time. Overall, I found this DVD a little boring.
Chair yoga for the old or infirmed  
on July 27, 2006 - 12:18 PM PDT
  of Yoga for the Rest of Us (2002)

This yoga DVD contains a 50 minute workout split into four sections. The first part is sitting in a chair performing stretches. The second part is standing poses using a chair for balance. The third part is yoga flow using a chair to make the bends easier for a sun salutation series. The fourth part is meditation. Multiple modified versions of each pose/motion are shown, depending on your strength, flexibility, balance, etc.

This DVD is aimed at people who haven't exercised in years or have a limited range of motion. Given that intended audience, I found the sun salutation sections way too fast. They were speedy even for someone who has done yoga previously and were much more like yoga flow than held poses. The rest of the DVD is not strenuous at all.

Yoga for the Rest of Us also includes interviews with Peggy Cappy, the instructor, and members of her yoga class.
Just watch the songs  
on January 29, 2006 - 7:50 PM PST
  of Barsaat (1949)
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful

Barsaat is a bollywood classic, but I'm not sure that's because it's a good film. Nargis is fantastic as Reshma, a woman who deals with a variety of different situations extremely well. Raj Kapoor, playing Pran, is completely outshined by Nargis, but delivers a good performance. Premnath, who plays a womanizing cad, is painfully bad. I ended up skipping past most of the scenes he was in because they weren't worth watching. Premnath's character was fake and his transformation in the end completely unbelievable. He also wasn't important to the central plotline which is the painfully slow love story of Reshma and Pran. A slow love story is not unusual for Bollywood, but this one often felt flat and uneventful.

That being said, the music from this film is phenomenal. Nearly all of the song numbers are extremely catchy and deserve to be classics. Nargis can lip-sync with the best of them and act at the same time. I would rent this film just for the songs.

If you want to see a classic Bollywood film starring Raj Kapoor & Nargis, I would highly recommend Shree 420 over Barsaat.
Life- and body-affirming yoga for all levels  
on July 6, 2005 - 4:55 PM PDT
  of Kripalu Yoga (1998)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

This DVD is a set of three yoga series. All three series depict a variety of "real" people doing yoga, as opposed to the usual 25 yr old skinny models and actors. The emphasis is on the life-affirming aspects of the Kripalu philosophy and spirituality.

The first set is "Gentle", which will not increase your heart rate and is merely stretching. I think a beginner could easily follow this video. It starts off with meditation, gives you a break point at 30 minutes, near 50 minutes you have 5-10 minutes of freeform movement, and ends with more meditation.

The second set is "Dynamic" and is not for beginners. They throw out a lot of jargon without explaining it, so you either need to view the DVD before trying to follow along, be comfortable with rewinding, or have experience with the poses and breathing styles and their hindi names. This 75 minute section also includes meditation at the beginning and end as well as a free-style movement section.

The third set is "Partner", i.e. yoga for 2. I didn't watch this part, but it was also around an hour long. The DVD also includes a short video on Kripalu and what their center is all about.
Good Yoga, OK Pilates  
on April 25, 2005 - 9:24 AM PDT
  of QuickFix - Total Mix: Combination Yoga & Pilates Workout (2001)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

I liked the yoga workout from this DVD a lot. It's four 10 minute sessions of yoga and then four 10 minute sessions of pilates. The yoga was great for stretching the entire body and was mostly sun salutations. The pilates, however, focused mostly on abs and legs and wasn't phenomenal.
Compelling if uneven tale of religious hatred  
on February 24, 2005 - 4:10 PM PST
  of Hey Ram (2000)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

If you're looking to watch Shah Rukh Khan woo college girls with his giddy antics, this is not the Bollywood you're looking for.

This is Kamal Hassan's movie, as director, writer, and star and it's more political epic than titillating song and dance. The title refers to the supposed last words of Mahatma M.K. Gandhi (I've seen it translated as O God!). The plot is essentially a tale of a man with liberal views who is traumatized and joins a group of Hindus who plan to assasinate Gandhi for giving their country away to Muslims.

The film is uneven in its visual style, but some of the styles are breathtaking. They often change camera types so sometimes the movie looks like it was filmed in the 60s and sometimes in the 90s. The period recreation and the sense of mood in locations are also excellent. I started out the movie being a little bored, but once it gets cooking, I was captivated. There are a few over-the-top scenes, the sex scenes are unusually explicit for Indian cinema, and Shah Rukh Khan is hopeless here in a serious role.

One of my favorite examples of visual overkill is when we're in the basement of the evil Maharajah and not only is he shown with a picture of Hitler on his wall to cement the "hint hint, he's a bad guy" vibe, but they follow up the scene with an animated opium-induced morphing of the Hindu svastika (a symbol for luck) into the Nazi swastika.
Remember Drunken Master?  
on November 29, 2004 - 10:40 AM PST
  of Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
0 out of 3 members found this review helpful

For the Jackie Chan afficionados out there, there's a rehash of Jackie's brawling with a bench from Drunken Master midway through the movie. It's part of a pretty elaborate fight scene with a large team of Jackie's stuntsmen plus Sammo Hung. There's also a cute Buster Keaton-esque slapstick routine in a kitchenette on the Orient Express.
Cute Pulp with extra feature  
on November 16, 2004 - 10:03 AM PST
  of The Time Machine (1960)
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful

This movie is a fun exploration of the state of sci-fi before 1960. The special effects here were cutting edge at the time. There's nothing quite like watching a lava explosion take out a model city with its toy automobiles and cardboard buildings especially when combined with a campy soundtrack. Under the Special Features menu, there's a cute hour-long feature discussing the special effects, the history of the time machine built for the movie, and a couple extra scenes filmed with the surviving actors from the movie 20-30 years later.
Good Yoga for Beginners, but lots of lunges  
on November 10, 2004 - 1:51 PM PST
  of Yoga Zone: Yoga for Weight Loss (2000)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

This is a good yoga workout for beginners and they give good pointers on form. It's pretty easy to do, but also easy to overdo the squats and lunges. The workout is heavy on exercises that work the butt, so don't be surprised if you're sore the next day.
Goofy and cute  
on November 2, 2004 - 9:43 AM PST
  of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

First off, while this movie is definitely Bollywood, it's not a musical. This film is all about slapstick and goofy situations. The plot revolves around the plight of the innocent poor who are taken advantage of by, well, everyone everywhere everytime. Despite the comic presentation, it can be a bit of a downer if you bother to think about it. Om Puri gives a fun performance as a drunk gangster, not his usual casting.
Great bollywood college film hidden in an action movie.  
on September 5, 2004 - 1:12 AM PDT
  of Main Hoon Na [I'm Here Now] (2004)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

My advice to you is to fast forward through the first thirty minute action sequence and move to the scenes shot at the college. Most of the action scenes are poor rehashings of every other action movie with so-so wire tricks. Hidden inside is a brilliantly funny college movie that pokes fun at lots of Bollywood traditions (including casting 35-year-olds as college students). There are some beautiful and comic musical numbers that should have you rolling on the floor laughing.
Not a documentary  
on August 13, 2004 - 11:33 AM PDT
  of Jackie Chan: The Invincible Fighter (1996)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

This "documentary" is nothing more than scenes from old Jackie Chan films with a voiceover repeating "Jackie is a master of martial arts". There is some attempt to weave it into a story and pretend that Jackie plays the same character in all ten movies, but it is very ineffectual. While it is impressive seeing these fights and stunts back to back, I'd recommend just watching Jackie Chan's films. Everyone loves Drunken Boxing II.
Not for the Beginner  
on August 2, 2004 - 9:42 AM PDT
  of 10 Minute Solution (1999)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

Most of these 10 minute workouts require considerable practice and it helps if you're familiar with the common moves of ballet or kickboxing. You're not going to learn to improve your technique here. These workouts are intended to be fast and no time is given to teach.
Entertaining if not accurate  
on July 22, 2004 - 12:08 PM PDT
  of Night and Day (1946)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

While not the most accurate portrayal of Cole Porter's life, this movie does a good job of giving a sense of his musical highlights set against events of the time. For any lover of classic broadway musicals, this is a treat with many musical numbers from various Porter shows. The disc also includes three shorts from the era: a tour of musical studios that revels in 50s stereotypes, a promo for Desi Arnez (Babaloo!), and a Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd cartoon "The Big Snooze".
Rarely entertaining  
on July 15, 2004 - 8:50 PM PDT
  of Eddie Izzard - We Know Where You Live: Live! (2001)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

I would recommend people jump to their favorite comedian/musicians and skip the rest. I found a few enjoyable bits in this. First, Eddie Izzard is his fabulous self, but gets maybe 20 minutes airtime interspersed between various acts. One other funny bit is when a poorly known comedian mimicks Izzard, which he does rather well, this lasts about 2 minutes. Towards the end, there is a great routine with four fairly well known actor/comedians (including Alan Rickman and Izzard) one-upping each other. There are also some cute shorts involving various british actors and cake. OK to rent, just don't spend 1.5 hours on it.

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