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Display Name: Jonny B
About me: If I didn't like music so much I'd spend all my time reading or watching movies.
Reading Interests: Stegner, Eliot (not *that* Eliot), Dillard, anything by Ian McEwan

Jonny B's Book Lists
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Jonny B's Comments    
Cover ArtRuby Sparks [videorecording]
Imaginative. Interesting plot twists and slightly offbeat characters. Recommended.   posted Apr 8, 2014 at 1:28PM

Cover ArtThe mirror [videorecording] = Zerkalo
Many lovely visual effects, but I just couldn’t follow the narrative. Abandoned after an hour.   posted Jan 24, 2014 at 12:22PM

Cover ArtSide effects [videorecording]
Misleading and sensationalist drama about medication and mental illness. How did director Soderbergh allow this to happen?   posted Jan 24, 2014 at 12:20PM

Cover ArtOliver Twist [videorecording]
by Lean, David
The greatest. Wondrous to look at, and thrilling into the bargain.   posted Nov 25, 2013 at 10:45PM

Cover ArtIn which we serve [videorecording]
by Coward, Noel
I enjoyed this very much. John Mills and a young Richard Attenborough give striking performances. Propaganda that’s worth believing in.   posted Nov 15, 2013 at 8:34AM

Cover ArtTunes of glory [videorecording]
by Kennaway, James
I loved this movie. Strong performances by Alec Guinness and John Mills, compelling characters and a surprising climax. Lovers of Scottish things may have particular interest.   posted Nov 8, 2013 at 7:31AM

Cover ArtThe time traveler’s wife [videorecording]
by Wechsler, Nick
The multiple absurdities in this plot stretched my suspension of disbelief beyond the willing point. I bailed after 30’.   posted Aug 25, 2013 at 3:24PM

Cover ArtThe song of lunch [videorecording] : a poem
by Reid, Christopher
A lovely and unusual piece about middle age, lost love and life choices featuring two interesting and expressive faces.   posted Aug 18, 2013 at 7:57AM

Cover ArtTiny furniture [videorecording]
by Dunham, Lena
I liked this movie a lot. An amazingly assured work for such a young director. Interesting characters, unselfconsciously played. A window into the lives of twenty-somethings in the new century.   posted Aug 13, 2013 at 1:47PM

Cover ArtSwingers [videorecording]
by Favreau, Jon.
Pretty thin story. Somewhat engaging characters. Coarse. Didn’t finish.   posted Aug 9, 2013 at 8:38AM

Cover ArtA town like Alice [videorecording]
by Lee, Jack
I loved this movie. You can’t take your eyes off Virginia MacKenna, whose subtle performance lights up the film. The story is similar to Paradise Road. I shed a tear at the end.   posted May 20, 2013 at 7:09AM

Cover ArtTopsy-turvy [videorecording]
by Leigh, Mike
A lovely film, with generous excerpts from Mikado and some from Princess Ida and Ruddigore. Rehearsal details mostly believable and performances uniformly superb. Highly recommended for the theater buff and poetry lover.   posted May 11, 2013 at 11:47AM

Cover ArtCarnage [videorecording]
I only lasted 30’ with this. It’s well acted, but watching these adults vie for control is too painful.   posted May 11, 2013 at 11:43AM

Cover ArtNeotpravlennoe pis’mo [videorecording] = Letter never sent
by Kalatozov, Mikhail
Fire and ice, over-the-top 1959 Socialist realism/fantasy. Strains credulity, but visually stunning.   posted Apr 15, 2013 at 1:52PM

Cover ArtBord de mer [videorecording] = Seaside
"Bord de tears" is more like it. A critic has compared this to Chekhov, but I think it’s more like Eastenders, without the local color.   posted Feb 19, 2013 at 1:05PM

Cover ArtPlease give [videorecording]
A pleasant, not terribly consequential movie about people—some caring, some superficial—trying to feel OK. Rebecca Hall is delicate and lovely.   posted Feb 11, 2013 at 10:40AM

Cover ArtForeign correspondent [videorecording]
by Hitchcock, Alfred
I love this movie—one of Hitchcock’s best IMHO. There are many memorable characters, superbly played. The plot is thick, and gets denser as you go, and the final minutes are as stirring as anything in film.   posted Feb 2, 2013 at 11:43AM

Cover ArtYi Yi [videorecording]
by Yang, Dechang
My friend and I only lasted 90’ through this mildly interesting 3-hour saga of disfunctional Taiwan families. Why is this film in the Criterion Collection? The performances are strong, but the dialogue is hard for this English speaker to follow, and untangling the plot and characters just doesn’t seem worth the trouble.   posted Feb 2, 2013 at 11:41AM

Cover ArtLa Siciliana ribelle [videorecording]
Intense story of the Sicilian Mafia shakedown of the 1980s and 90s, a semi-factual narrative told through the eyes of a girl in the Family. Well done, involving.   posted Jan 29, 2013 at 3:22PM

Cover ArtSarah’s key [videorecording]
A powerful film connecting the French Occupation during WWII with the present day. This is a compelling story of a child’s grim experience (in an amazing performance) and its resonance through the years. Kristen Scott Thomas is as usual thoughtful and intense. Recommended.   posted Jan 28, 2013 at 9:27AM

Cover ArtToast [videorecording]
Charming little movie about an only-child discovering his passion for food in a world where dysfunctional adults struggle to meet their needs.   posted Jan 22, 2013 at 8:45AM

Cover ArtNothing personal [videorecording]
The austerely beautiful Irish landscape of Galway is the third character in this moody first feature by director Verbeek. Much of the tension has to do with boundaries and blocked communication. There is little action as such, and many unanswered questions. Still, a patient viewer may find it thought-provoking.   posted Jan 2, 2013 at 7:56AM

Cover ArtThe headless woman [videorecording]
Argentinian film with a tantalizing premise that is very slow to develop. I lasted only 40’. Filmed in a very claustrophobic widescreen. Awkward to view.   posted Jan 2, 2013 at 7:50AM

Cover ArtDialogues des Carmelites [videorecording] = Dialoghi delle carmelitane
The director, Dmitri Tcherniakov, has hijacked this work, to no purpose. The modern-day, plain-clothes setting works against the meaning and power of the work. Time and again the visual grates against the libretto. Musical aspects fine, but in my view an irresponsible production.   posted Dec 19, 2012 at 6:50PM

Cover ArtBeyond the valley of the dolls [videorecording]
A pretty wretched movie, but interesting as a send-up of the times, also a record of what was considered risqué in 1970. Only really interesting thing is that the screenplay is by Roger Ebert. And if you like Russ Meyers’s movies, there’s that.   posted Dec 11, 2012 at 6:47PM

Cover ArtLumiere d’ete [videorecording]
by Gremillon, Jean
Very interesting film made during the French Occupation of WWI. Beautiful to look at, it begins very quietly and builds to an outlandish, improbable climax. Attractive stars!   posted Nov 8, 2012 at 1:18PM

Cover ArtNanjing! Nanjing! [videorecording]
An overwhelmingly powerful movie. Made by a Chinese director and co., it presents the Japanese sack of Nanjing from a Chinese perspective. Shot in black and white, the film is beautiful to look at, despite the devastation, and the actors uniformly fine. The human cost is almost unbearable to see. An essential movie about an event that is too little discussed.   posted Oct 18, 2012 at 9:16AM

Cover ArtThe myth of the American sleepover [videorecording]
by Mitchell, David Robert
The young people in this play are sincere and fun to watch, and most of them get their kiss in the end, but this must be the Longest Night of American Adolescence. And does anyone really talk this way?   posted Oct 10, 2012 at 2:13PM

Cover ArtThe white ribbon [videorecording]
This is a devastating indictment of old world attitudes and practices of child-rearing. As the narrator implies early on, the tale offers insight into the rise of fascism. The theories of Alice Miller are put in play: repression and torture produces sadistic, twisted souls. I watched it twice. The clear dialogue and slow pace make it excellent material for German language students.   posted Oct 10, 2012 at 8:22AM

Cover ArtCrazy, stupid, love [videorecording]
Entertaining, but vapid. Lots of product-placement.   posted Oct 10, 2012 at 8:15AM

Cover ArtWinter’s bone [videorecording]
A stark film about the consequences of the meth business in feudal Missouri, seen from the perspective of a 17-year-old girl who’s responsible for her two siblings and invalid mother. No-frills production, bravely acted. Well worth seeing.   posted Sep 1, 2012 at 7:46PM

Cover ArtBlue valentine [videorecording]
After five minutes I realized that I’d seen this movie just months back. Forgettable.   posted Aug 13, 2012 at 7:07AM

Cover ArtThe terminal [videorecording]
by Spielberg, Steven
This flick didn’t hold my interest.   posted Aug 6, 2012 at 10:32AM

Cover ArtBob & Carol & Ted & Alice [videorecording]
by Mazursky, Paul.
A surprisingly effective and discreet discussion of sex and love in and out of marriage in 1969.   posted Jul 2, 2012 at 3:13PM

Cover ArtPalindromes [videorecording]
by Solondz, Todd.
I think this is an appalling movie. With half a dozen people playing the same character, it’s very confusing, but more offensive is the attitude the director seems take: everything is up for laughs, including adolescence, sex, parenting, abortion, anti-abortion, disabled people, fat people, Jesus, his followers. Yet the movie is unfunny. And the director is unclear about what he wants to say. Don’t waste your hundred minutes.   posted Jun 25, 2012 at 11:16PM

Cover Art25 [sound recording]
I wish the songs were as compelling as the artists singing them.   posted Jun 18, 2012 at 1:43PM

Cover ArtTurn the river [videorecording]
If pool is your idea of a spectator sport, this flick’s for you. I liked Kaillie, the woman who wants her child back, and thought Gulley—the kid—very well played. But the film is a little slow. Directed by Chris Eigeman (Metropolitan).   posted Jun 18, 2012 at 1:42PM

Cover ArtNiagara [videorecording]
Not your run-of-the-mill cascade, this is an involving thriller with Marilyn Monroe in a serious role. The color is vibrant and the Falls never looked better. Recommended.   posted Jun 18, 2012 at 1:36PM

Cover ArtRed road [videorecording]
I loved this movie, tough viewing though it is. The characters reveal unexpected depth. And don’t miss the short "Wasp," wh. is one of the extras. Andrea Arnold is a director to follow. See also "Fishtank."   posted Jun 11, 2012 at 10:36AM

Cover ArtGarden State [videorecording]
Quirky, funny, but not quite compelling.   posted Jun 4, 2012 at 8:06AM

Cover ArtFish tank [videorecording]
by Kasander, Kees
I couldn’t stop watching this story of a poor, angry Essex kid—and several adults—out of control. It’s a very rough ride, but well worth sticking with, because though the characters dose out their humanity in milliliters, at the end you experience a kind of progress, or enlightenment. Highly recommended.   posted May 26, 2012 at 6:20PM

Cover ArtOut of the past [videorecording]
by Tourneur, Jacques
Laura Greer is luminous as the femme fatale in this noir exemplar. Highly recommended.   posted May 20, 2012 at 10:43AM

Cover ArtKes [videorecording]
by Loach, Ken
Beautiful film about disposable youth in 60s Britain. Wonderful performances from amateur actors. Quiet, unobtrusive style.   posted Mar 9, 2012 at 11:09PM

Cover ArtMy so-called life [videorecording] : the complete series
by Winant, Scott.
If you’re human and ever went to high school, you must see MSCL. This is television at its best. The writing is smart, it looks wonderful, and the characters are loveable and unforgettable. I went into mourning when it was over.   posted Dec 18, 2011 at 6:15PM

Cover ArtNine lives [videorecording]
by Garcia, Rodrigo
This is a fine movie from the director of In Treatment. Powerful early scenes lead to more nuanced later ones, as the threads come gently together. The viewer never feels manipulated, and the performances are wonderful. There are lots of questions in the end, and not many clear answers.   posted Oct 24, 2011 at 12:45PM

Cover ArtMake way for tomorrow [videorecording]
by McCarey, Leo.
Mild, but beautiful. One of the most memorable portrayals of aging.   posted Sep 20, 2011 at 8:50AM

Cover ArtSalaam Bombay! [videorecording]
by Nair, Mira.
Marvelous characters, compelling script, beautiful color. What a great movie, and the extras reveal that it has been the catalyst for social change in Bombay. A favorite   posted Aug 19, 2011 at 11:10AM

Cover ArtMonsieur Hire [videorecording]
A very arty flick, with beautiful interiors and camera work. The plot is creepy—is he a pervert or isn’t he?—but Sandrine Bonnaire is lovely and unaffected. The movie sustained my interest, though some might question why.   posted Jul 19, 2011 at 2:39PM

Cover ArtAs it is in heaven [videorecording]
The parts I enjoyed had nothing to do with music. The musical parts were laden with cliches about the art, and ruined the rest for me. I didn’t make it to the end.   posted Jul 19, 2011 at 2:37PM

Cover ArtEvening [videorecording]
Very beautiful and poetic. Memorable performances by Redgrave and Streep, and a unusual opp. to see Streep’s daughter play a young character who is later seen played by Streep. A tearjerker.   posted May 30, 2011 at 3:17PM

Cover ArtNue propriete [videorecording] = Private property
by Lafosse, Joachim
Quite an empty flick. Sort like watching a dress rehearsal from a partial-view seat. Huppert doesn’t make up for the deficits in scripts, direction and cast. Don’t waste your time.   posted May 20, 2011 at 11:54AM

Cover ArtMoscow, Belgium [videorecording]
A slight, pleasant movie. Quirky enough to earn a recommendation. btw, the language is Flemish, not Dutch, as the cover says.   posted May 20, 2011 at 11:52AM

Cover ArtEl abrazo partido [DVD] = Lost embrace
by Burman, Daniel S.
The hand-held camera made me queasy after 10’. I bailed after 20’, not caring about any of the characters.   posted May 11, 2011 at 10:43AM

Cover ArtDe jurk [videorecording] = The dress
While there are a few bright moments in this little Dutch film, the viewpoint seems misogynistic to me. The pretty young women are toyed with, paraded around in the almost-all-together, silenced, assaulted. It’s not pleasant enough to be entertaining… unless you like that sort of thing. Not recommended.   posted May 10, 2011 at 11:46AM

Cover ArtUp in the air [videorecording]
by Clifford, Jeffrey
Couldn’t sustain interest beyond 20’. Neither protagonist had pull.   posted May 4, 2011 at 9:33AM

Cover ArtDan in real life [videorecording]
by Hedges, Peter.
I couldn’t sustain interest beyond the set-up of this movie: about 20’   posted Apr 18, 2011 at 11:01AM

Cover ArtMorvern Callar [videorecording]
Improbable, confusing, even maddening story, but interesting visual style.   posted Apr 5, 2011 at 11:05AM

Cover ArtThe night of the shooting stars [videorecording] = La notte de San Lorenzo
by De Negri, Giuliani G.
Beautiful and powerful, in a simple style with compelling characters. About a town squeezed between the retreating Nazis and the approaching Americans in 1944. Told from the POV of a 6-year-old girl, it is not for children. There’s a lot of death at close range, and a little sex.   posted Jan 31, 2011 at 12:44PM

Cover ArtThe tale of Despereaux [videorecording]
I loved this movie! And I’m a kid. Only 52.   posted Jan 24, 2011 at 10:32PM

Cover ArtThe Jesus family tomb : the discovery, the investigation, and the evidence that
by Jacobovici, Simcha.
This doesn’t strike me as good history, but it’s pretty bad journalism.   posted Jan 24, 2011 at 10:30PM

Cover ArtBlast of silence [videorecording]
by Baron, Allen.
The opening sequence is worth the rest of the movie. Kupferman’s music is quite inventive in many styles. But the acting is pretty wooden.   posted Dec 31, 2010 at 12:40PM

Cover ArtDanny Deckchair [DVD]
by Balsmeyer, Jeff.
Very light entertainment, but enjoyable, in the colorful, Australian crazy way. Miranda Otto, Rhys Ifans and Justine Clarke are excellent.   posted Sep 23, 2010 at 3:52PM

Cover ArtGabrielle [DVD]
by Chereau, Patrice.
I only lasted 10 minutes. I couldn’t take the voice-over and the background music of the first scenes.   posted Sep 23, 2010 at 3:48PM

Cover ArtKatyn [videorecording]
by Wajda, Andrzej
I loved this movie, which is both a history lesson and a powerful work of art. You will grieve for the characters here, but even more for the Polish nation, which, pinned between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, suffered doubly.   posted Aug 13, 2010 at 12:13PM

Cover ArtCleo de 5 a 7 [videorecording] = Cleo from 5 to 7
by Varda, Agnes
Interesting real-time film about a gorgeous singer caught up in her own image and facing cancer. Interesting feminist viewpoint from the early 60s. Striking lead performance.   posted Jul 23, 2010 at 10:21AM

Cover ArtLe bonheur [videorecording] = Happiness
by Varda, Agnes
I enjoyed two other Varda films: VAGABOND and CLEO, but found this very dull.   posted Jul 23, 2010 at 10:10AM

Cover ArtKryl’ia [videorecording] = Wings
by Shepit'ko, Larisa Efimovna
What a wonderful director Shepitko was! Fascinating study of a strong, intelligent woman in Soviet society. The lead, Bulgakova, is a marvelous subject. The end is breathtaking. Well-worth seeing, esp. after The Ascent.   posted Jun 30, 2010 at 10:48PM

Cover ArtVoskhozhdeniye [videorecording] = The ascent
by Shepit'ko, Larisa Efimovna
What a brilliant film. Compelling story of moral choice, with memorable characters and an unforgettable visual style. Highly recommended.   posted Jun 14, 2010 at 11:25PM

Cover ArtDillo con parole mie [videorecording] = Ginger and cinnamon
Quite amateurish in style and content. Don’t bother.   posted May 8, 2010 at 7:32PM

Cover ArtThe kite runner [videorecording]
by Forster, Marc
Beautiful to look at. Imaginative music. Took me to a place I had never seen or thought about. I like to think it opened my mind.   posted May 8, 2010 at 7:30PM

Cover ArtThe innocent
by McEwan, Ian.
An absorbing, often tense novel with Operation Gold—the tapping of Soviet lines in Berlin—as the backdrop. Approached with McEwan’s characteristic attention to the awkward details of human interaction. Essential reading if you need to dismember a corpse.   posted Jan 29, 2010 at 12:30PM

Cover ArtCrin-blanc [videorecording] = White mane
by Lamorisse, Albert.
Beautiful. Haunting. But short: 45’.   posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:26AM

Cover ArtShort films [DVD] : collection of 2006 Academy Award nominated
I liked, in particular, The Maestro; The Passenger; Binta and the Great Idea.   posted Nov 20, 2009 at 10:52AM

Cover ArtCasa de areia [videorecording] = The house of sand
by Waddington, Andrucha.
An amazing Brazilian film, filmed in Lençois Maranhenses National Park. Incredible scenery you don’t associate with Brazil and a history lesson covering much of the 20th c. Fine performances.   posted Nov 20, 2009 at 10:45AM

Cover ArtThe Jane Austen book club [videorecording]
by Swicord, Robin.
This is clap-trap masquerading as a chick flick. Stilted, unfunny, full of stereotypes: don’t waste your time.   posted Nov 5, 2009 at 7:53PM

Cover ArtLola Montes [videorecording]
by Ophuls, Max
Couldn’t make it past first 30 minutes. Very dark print. Static story.   posted Oct 20, 2009 at 1:32PM

Cover ArtFranzosische Suiten;
One of the best Urtext editions. Universal is a little better, for the detailed critical commentary.   posted Oct 13, 2009 at 12:31PM

Cover ArtFestival [videorecording] : folk music at Newport, 1963-1966
A look at the 60s before Woodstock. How folk sought to better the world before pop music turned to love and drugs. Great up-close shots of Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, Judy Collins, Joan Baez as well as roots music greats. Essential viewing.   posted Oct 13, 2009 at 9:24AM

Cover ArtLetiat zhuravli [videorecording] = The cranes are flying
by Kalatozov, Mikhail
What a marvelous creation: poetic, heart-breaking, original, visually arresting. It deals with people making difficult choices in difficult times.   posted Oct 7, 2009 at 10:58AM


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