DVD quick takes

Gaslight (1944) 2.5/5

This film is a good example of why I generally don’t watch classics. You know the plot and where this movie is going about 15 minutes in and not much after that comes as a surprise or keeps you in suspense. Don’t get me wrong. Ingrid Bergman, who won both the Oscar and Golden Globe awards for best actress for her performance, is both beautiful and wonderful. And how often do you get to see Angela Lansbury play a pretty, cheeky tart? Still, my appreciation for such films has been damaged by the ensuing decades of similar tales told with more advanced techniques and effects.

The Dick Cavett Show – John & Yoko Collection (2005) 2.5/5

The latest in a series of DVD releases of Dick Cavett Show episodes featuring classic rock stars, this two-DVD set doesn’t focus as much on music as interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the fall of 1971 and the spring of 1972. Undoubtedly timed to this year being the 65th anniversary of Lennon’s birth and the 25th anniversary of his murder, the episodes remind us of the post-Beatles Lennon and the peace, love and avant garde focus of Lennon and Ono during this time. There is only one live singing performance by Lennon but there is the now well known film of Lennon performing “Imagine” on the show that aired just two days after the album of that same name was released.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1990) 3.5/5

Sadly, this film may perhaps be more relevant today than when it was released 15 years ago. An adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s well-respected book, it tells of a “recent future” dystopian United States renamed Gilead and controlled by religious fundamentalists. Environmental and other problems have resulted in only 1 percent of the female population remaining fertile. The American Taliban in power view this as punishment from God for the country’s immorality. To remedy the problem, fertile women not part of the ruling class are forced to become “handmaids.” Their job is to bear children for the sterile wives of the elite with conception efforts following a ritual using the Old Testament tale in which Rachel gives her maid to her husband Jacob so the couple can have a child. Natasha Richardson plays the handmaid to “The Commander” (Robert Duvall) and his wife (Faye Dunaway). Starting with the entire concept of sexual slavery and the treatment of women, this “cleansed” society and its leaders are as duplicitous and morally bankrupt as any. (As for relevance, take a look at this article in the latest issue of Mother Jones magazine.)

Under the Flag of the Rising Son (1972) 3/5

This Japanese film provides a rarely seen perspective to the fight in the Pacific during World War II. The core story is of a widow who searches for the truth of her husband’s death in the Japanese Army in New Guinea in the closing days of World War II. The story has a bit of a Rashomon quality to it as it reveals the hardships and brutality of war. It also uses a unique blend of color, black and white and even still photography. From my standpoint, though, although this film likely provided inspiration for last year’s A Very Long Engagement, the latter told a similar story more compellingly.

We pledge allegiance to the Bible. The Old Testament shall be our sole and only Constitution.

Ceremony in The Handmaid’s Tale

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