Monday, December 26, 2005

Greed ‘05: Orders Filled

The Novels and Tales of Nathaniel Hawthorne - If I’m being honest, I am virtually guaranteed never to read half of this gorgeous volume. But it looks good, is bound in that marvelous way things were in 1937, and includes The Blithedale Romance [1852]. I can’t wait.

Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories - In one volume, as translated by Hillel Halkin. These are, of course, the work of Sholem Aleichem and served as the basis for Norman Jewison’s film Fiddler on the Roof [1971], one of THE greatest films ever made. I have never read any of Sholem Aleichem’s work, but have been itching to from before even seeing the film. Now I shall.

Charade [1963] - Great movie, and now I don’t have to check out the library’s depreciated VHS copy every time I want to watch it. Let’s hear it for widescreen DVD.

WWII Box Set - Consists of Das Boot [1985] director’s cut, The Caine Mutiny [1954], Anzio [1968], and a documentary disc. I’ve never seen any of these, and all three I’ve been interested in (though I caught the beginning of Anzio earlier today and it, uh, stunk). The Caine Mutiny, while in all likelihood only a slight variation on the highly fictionalized image of the Bounty’s fate, is certainly deserving of a look. Actually, I’ve been trying to see it for three or four years now.
But the real reason, of course, to get this is Das Boot. I owe it to my standing as a film-buff, war-buff, and history-buff to see it—not to mention my German language skills. Speaking of which, I checked and the disc does include the original German soundtrack. Whew! It is my creed never to watch a film dubbed out of it’s original language (unless it was filmed specifically to be dubbed, e.g. Sergio Leone’s Dollari).

Courage Under Fire [1996] - Yeah, it’s on easily-degraded magnetic tape and, yes, it’s been chopped down to cram onto a 3 x 4 screen. So be it. I don’t mind as (1) that means the giver got a good deal and (2) this is a splendid piece of cinema. Yes, some scenes would doubtless benefit from being seen in their original scope, but this film is about things that can’t be lost by the trimming of photographic edges. This is an incredible, beautiful portrayal of the strength and importance of truth. It qualifies (and not just because it was scored by James Horner) for the word “touching.”

“Trouble With X” - A CD of a modern-day band combining rock and swing styles in their music. (Name of “The W’s,” by the way.) Requested for Christmas at the recommendation of musically-encyclopedic friend. Am not disappointed.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes - With a magnificent introduction by the master, Bill Watterson. And every page tells you exactly what date each strip was originally published! (If you know me, you know that context—that is, date—is very important to me on stuff like this.) For more about this crowning gift, see two posts back.

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