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kiwiwriter1962

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About

Kiwiwriter is a historian who has written magazine articles and books about World War II, when not writing press releases and speeches for the City of Newark, NJ. He is a New York native whose adopted hometown is Christchurch, New Zealand.
Location: United StatesMember since: Aug 06, 2000

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Reviews (34)
Aug 29, 2006
The long chase, seen three decades later
One of the great ironies of Barry Bonds' pursuit of Henry Aaron is that today's commentators say Bonds lacks the stature -- steroids and his personality -- to challenge the great Henry Aaron. But in reading Tom Stanton's book on Aaron and his ordeal, one realizes that it was not so long ago...in my lifetime...that Henry Aaron was chasing Babe Ruth. Astonishingly, Aaron was not seen as having the stature to crack the Babe's home run total. Much of the animosity was race-based, but much of it also seemed to have been the continuing worship of Ruth in the minds of the fans and the front offices of baseball. Roger Maris suffered more from this comparison, which is unfair and odious, but Aaron labored under the double burden of race and Ruth. The determination, quality, and dignity he showed in refusing to back down in the face of hard pitches, harder sportswriters, and harsher fans, should be an example to today's stars, and a realization that the more things change...the more they do stay the same. Which is a sad commentary on humanity...our paradoxical inability to rise beyond ourselves, when we do anyway.
Jul 15, 2007
Here we are talking about one of my favorite books...
I always liked the book of "The Count of Monte Cristo," which plays to two of my favorite subjects, "revenge," and "power," and does them well. It's been re-done as a movie a few times, and I was interested to see how it would be adapted through modern eyes. As it turns out, Mike Reynolds, Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, and the rest of the cast do an excellent job. There was a good deal of fiddling done with the plot and characters to condense a lengthy book into a two-hour picture. They also tightened a complicated plot, eliminating the subplots of Maximilian Morrell and Villefort's murderous wife. Edmond Dantes' struggle for revenge is also cut down to exposing his three adversaries in a tighter and linked manner. In the book, their destruction requires separate operations. In the book, Dantes hacks at each nemesis indirectly, nailing Fernand first, forcing him to commit suicide when his son Albert and wife Mercedes run out on him. Villefort goes insane when he finds his wife has killed off his whole family, with Dantes working behind the scenes to do so. Finally, Dantes bankrupts Danglars, who is a millionaire banker. Dantes then goes off with his new girlfriend. In the movie, Dantes cons the unholy trio into thinking they are going to steal his gold, and instead brings Danglars and Villefort to justice for conspiracy and murder. Dantes nails Fernand directly -- a final swordfight. Most importantly, Dantes gets back Mercedes, learning that Albert is his son. More satisfying, tighter, more colorfully told. There is also redemption in Dantes ending the film having regained the family he deserved to have and the life he should have had. The movie has the swordplay that the book lacks. There is also clever subtlety...Frenand dislikes his son Albert, and won't even give a toast to him at the big party, which is left to Dantes as the Count of Monte Cristo. Dantes unknowingly but movingly gives a superb father-to-son tribute, whose views are realized in the climax. Luis Guzman, as Dantes' sidekick Jacobo, has a small and powerful role, serving as Dantes' confidante and conscience, an interesting twist of fate for a man introduced as a "maggot" and thief. J.D. LeBlanc, as captain of the smugglers, has another small role, but is truly hilarious and effective. The late Richard Harris, as the Abbe Faria, Dantes' mentor and coach, gives his usual powerful performance. He was good just reading the phone book. Dagmara Domanczyk, a new name and face, doesn't have much to do as the loving and trapped Mercedes. Her best moment is on the "deleted scenes" section of the DVD, but one can see why everyone wants her. James Frain makes a sly Villefort. Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce dominate the screen, of course. Pearce was asked to play Dantes, but only wanted to play Fernand. Pearce does so with gusto, making him flamboyant, amoral, charming, and callous, all at the same time. Caviezel makes an astonishing transformation from the idealistic but ignorant Dantes to the worldly, obsessed, and cold Count of Monte Cristo. The DVD includes deleted scenes, cast interviews, background on how the film was made, and director's commentary. All of them are extremely interesting, and the director's commentary shows you how good Caviezel is...doing scenes as Dantes in prison one day, Dantes at liberty the next, Dantes as the Count the third. Astonishing transformations. I highly recommend this film.
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Aug 29, 2006
The truth behind TV's legend
No, they weren't only commanded by Greg Boyington. Nor were they a collection of failures, misfits, and sad sacks. VMF-214 was as good and as proud a fighter squadron as the Marine Corps ever fielded, and it fought with honor, courage, commitment, and glory. Bruce Gamble's book on the squadron...a follow-up to his biography of Pappy Boyington...tells the story of all the other guys who flew in this outfit, and puts them in the proper context and spotlight.