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    Hilary Hahn ~ Beethoven - Violin Concerto · Bernstein - Serenade
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Audio CD (26 January, 1999)
    list price: $17.98 -- our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (27)

    5-0 out of 5 stars gorgeous, gorgeous playing
    This is my favorite account of the noble Beethoven violin concerto.After listening to the Kreisler, Menuhin, Schneiderhan, and Kremer versions--all classics in their own right--Hahn still has my heart and vote.Her playing is consistently well-executed, intellectually stimulating and sensually pleasurable.The Beethoven Concerto is like a hunk of Grecian marble--imposing, canonical, and I would even say sublime in the Kantian sense.How does an interpreter convey an sense of intimacy amongst its aloof height?Hahn has the magic formula: the first movement has reserve and fire, the slow movement has an aura of spirituality, and the third the right moment of courtliness and earthiness.A clear winner.

    3-0 out of 5 stars For God's Sake Let's Hear Hilary, Not the Orchestra!!!!!
    The first thing you ask me is do I like this CD.Yes, it's very pretty.How about the recording?Actually, I don't like the sound engineering.How about the performer Hilary Hahn?She's fantastic!

    I've been listening to Hilary for less than six months, since discovering her by chance.After about 30 seconds I came to the conclusion that this girl is as great a violinist as I've ever heard.Her intonation is perfect, her tone gorgeous, like velvet, better than Heifitz.I've heard them all.Hilary is from the Bel Canto school of violin playing.

    Unfortunately, I can't give similar praise to the sound engineering.Several of your reviewers have complained about Miking, too close, too far.Well, I guess it comes down to whether or not you want to hear Hilary or the Orchestra.I bought this recording to hear Hilary and what I got was a solo recording of the orchestra with Hilary struggling to be heard in the background.I agree that the orchestral part of Beethoven's only violin concerto is beautiful but I've been listening to it for 61 years (I'm 72) and I think I've got it down.Conversely, I was trained in the violin and I want to hear the violinist and if you drown out the violinist with the orchestra how can I hear what Hilary is doing?Let me put it another way.Is this a violin concerto or an orchestra concerto?

    By the way, the same comments can be made of Sony Classic's CD of Hilary Hahn playing Mendelssohn's violin concerto.Also, why do you mix Beethoven and Bernstein or Mendelssohn and Shostakovich.Too each his own but the styles of these composers are very different.More power to those who like both but why don't you put Bernstein and Shostakovich on the same CD together and Beethoven and Mendelssohn on another.That would double my pleasure and save me some money.

    So the CD is worth every penny you pay for it just to hear Hilary Hahn in the background.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Sets the current-day standard of performance
    Hilary Hahn's recording of Beethoven's great Violin Concerto sets the standard for contemporary performances of this piece.Her technique alone would make her a great musician.What is even more impressive is that she applies her technique in a thoughtful, musical manner.A recording musician today should be able to give an adequate technical performance of any given piece--what separates Hahn from the rest is that the music comes first, with her technique as its outlet, rather than the music being a showcase for talent.

    The Beethoven Violin Concerto is indisputably one of the top violin (or any instrument, for that matter) concertos ever written.It is a remarkable piece in that it is not as note-heavy as, say, Tchaikovsky's, but is more complex.The second movement is especially wonderful, beginning with a longer-than-typical theme by the soloist that is at its heart simple, yet elegant.The soloist then guides the orchestra in exploring the theme, leading it down one path, then following another, agreeing here, contrasting there.It's a doctoral thesis in the art of the concerto as a conversation between soloist as master of his or her craft and orchestra as equal partners.

    The thing that Beethoven did so well that none will ever be his equal at it is to take a relatively simple theme--I, a non-musician, can play the main themes from two of the greatest symphonies ever composed, the Fifth and the Ninth, on my toddler's five-note toy piano!--and make it great through repetition and variation of melody and harmony.Beethoven could write a piece that used the same theme a hundred times and you'd still feel like it was fresh at the conclusion.So it is with the third movement of this concerto.

    Hahn and Zinman excel in this recording because they capture the essence of this music--simple themes musically done in a manner where both soloist and orchestra contribute.One certainly wouldn't have Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on the tip of one's tongue when asked about the greatest orchestras today--thoroughly competent, to be sure, but not the best of the best.What Zinman does so well in this recording is to not exaggerate the piece.The dynamics and tempos of the piece are kept in a moderate range--no fireworks where a candle is called for.And perhaps as a great athlete improves the abilities of teammates, so Hahn lends her technique, restraint, and intelligence to the orchestra.

    Let's face it, no one's buying this for the Bernstein.It's a good performance of a decent piece, but it's not why you'll reach for this CD over and over.It's something of an ironic pairing; if ever there was a conductor who bludgeons listeners with Beethoven (outside of an excellent recording of the Third with the Vienna Philharmonic) more than Bernstein I don't know who it is.

    Wrapping up: this CD has joined the Menuhin/Furtwangler recording as my favorite performance of this supreme Violin Concerto. ... Read more

    Asin: B00000GV4L
    Sales Rank: 24015
    Subjects:  1. Chamber Music & Recitals    2. Classical    3. Concerto    4. Orchestral   


    Jean Sibelius / Carl Nielsen: Violin Concertos - Cho-Liang Lin / Philharmonia Orchestra / Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Audio CD (25 October, 1990)
    list price: $11.98
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    Reviews (7)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best Ever!
    I'v listened to many recordings of the Sibelius Concerto and this particular one shines!Lin's tone quality and rythem is fantastic! A MUST BUY item!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Scandanavian Violin Disc!
    The Lin/Salonen recording of the Sibelius and Nielsen Violin Concertos has won praises everywhere, and for good reason.First of all, Lin has all the necessary virtuosic acrobatics to play these two very difficult concertos.His low playing is rich and tremulous, while his high playing is sweet and clear.

    Lin plays the Sibelius with great warmth and emotion, capturing the dark lyricism of the first movement.The second movement is full of elegiac and nostalgic moods, which Lin plays sensitively.Lin finishes off the third movement with great energy and excitement.Salonen, a masterful interpreter of the music of Nielsen and Grieg, offers outstanding accompaniments in this beautiful concerto.

    By the admission of the liner notes, Carl Nielsen's music is more rough-hewn than that of Sibelius.The concerto takes some getting used to, but it is a great work.Lin plays the cadenzas with incredible virtousity and dedication.The concerto rambles at times, but the orchestra brings out the Nielsen idioms very nicely.

    This disc is a must for serious violin students and music collectors, alike!

    Also recommended: Nielsen: Symphonies 3, 6 (Salonen, Sony)
    French Violin Sonatas: (Lin/Crossley, Sony)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Superlative readings come in a pair
    I bought this in 1989 when it first appeared and it remains one of my most frequently played discs. I expect to be able to make the same claim a decade from now.

    Cho Liang Lin's artistry is breathtaking in both concertos and this disc probably represents the finest stereo recordings available of either work. Heifetz (1959) set the benchmark in the Sibelius and it is possible to argue that Lin matches if not exceeds him - an astonishing statement of a kind rarely made, one is sure. Everything works - the shimmering, quicksilver opening; the unfolding of the first movement's romantic theme; its closing toboggan ride (as I like to think of it); the intense but never stifling intensity of the slow movement andthe "polonaise for polar bears" (Donald Tovey) of the finale - and is maintained at an incandescent level of inspiration.

    The Nielsen is a very different work, inhabiting a different emotional sphere, both more subdued and diffuse. Like much in Nielsen it is emotionally enigmatic - such as the almost jarring transition from first to second subject in the first movement, but Lin believes in it and who can turn down two treasures on one disc?

    This is one of those rare occasions in which a recording can be unreservedly recommended, whether at full price, half price or double price. ... Read more

    Asin: B0000026NZ
    Sales Rank: 116063
    Subjects:  1. Classical    2. Concerto   

    Bach: Sonatas Nos. 1-3; Partitas Nos. 1-3
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Audio CD (15 February, 1994)
    list price: $17.98 -- our price: $14.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    Arthur Grumiaux was among the most elegant and refined violinists who ever recorded.This doesn't preclude his playing the famous Chaconne with lots of power, which he does.But it means hearing Bach with all technical difficulties minimized to give you a clear view of themusic. Sometimes, as in Joseph Szigeti's late recordings (Vanguard Classics OVC 8021/2), there isa sense of struggle between the violin and the music that for more dramatic Bach. Grumiaux allowsyou to hear everything Bach put into the music, and it all sounds beautiful. --Leslie Gerber ... Read more

    Reviews (19)

    3-0 out of 5 stars A somewhat clinical, "perfect" Bach
    These sonatas and partitas are among my favorite Bach works, alongside the Goldberg Variations. I've heard most of the great recordings of these suites by the great violinists, including this version by Grumiaux. My favorite rendition remains the 50s EMI survey by Nathan Milstein (not the DG version from the 1970s).

    Now, Grumiaux stands tallest with me for his recordings of the Bach violin concertos and the famous double violin concerto, as well as his sublime version of the six violin/harpsichord sonatas (this is my favorite Grumiaux recording, and a "desert island recording" for me...an absolute must-have for anyone). For those, Grumiaux is unmatched in my opinion. But, in those cases, he has accompaniment that he must interact with. In these unaccompanied violin works, he has a subtle detachment. For an example, listen to the opening Grave movement from Sonata 2, and especially the Andante (movement 3) of Sonata 2. Grumiaux's technique is flawless, and he is almost at that magic threshold. Then, listen to Milstein play that Andante from the EMI 50s recording. You will hear exactly what I am talking about, something a bit too ineffable to put into words, but something you can hear. Given the fact that Grumiaux has recorded my favorite versions of Bach's other violin works, as I've mentioned above, this criticism was difficult for me to make.

    I'm not suggesting a bombastic, romanticized account of these suites. Milstein finds the perfect balance (in his 50s version) between reverence of Bach and technical mastery. You feel every note of the music as it comes from Bach, and the depth of insight is extraordinary. Grumiaux captured that with his other recordings that I've mentioned above, but in these solo suites, there is a depth of feeling that is lacking. He's obviously more concerned with perfect form and cleanliness of line than he is with probing the music for its innermost secrets. Milstein achieves this, but on the EMI set from the 1950s, not the DG set from the 70s, where I think that Milstein also fell short.

    It IS possible to have perfect form and cleanliness of line without sacrificing feeling. Milstein found that magic compromise in the 1950s on EMI. The words I always use after hearing the 50s Milstein are "intimacy" and "insight." His insights are so profound. Grumiaux's survey has impeccable sound quality, played on a gorgeous instrument, with flawless techniquein the elegant style. Still, it doesn't get to the heart of this music. It's "perfect," but it doesn't speak to me.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I remember....
    One of those CDs you grow up listening to -- introducing one's soul to the beauty that is Bach.I remember buying this CD on a whim since it was so cheap the summer before heading to High School at a Sam Goodies -- it totally just restructured everything I knew about music.There is nothing like this recording out there.Seriously, buy it for your kids, and introduce them to "true love".It is what anyone if they listen carefully to this CD will realize is the essence to Arthur's playing.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Grumiaux's bow is a sword
    Grumiaux maintains a fine balance between emotional intensity and strict discipline and control.And his bowmanship reminded why I love the pre-Romantics--emotion without emotionalism, enlightenment without self-consciousness, depth without being ponderous.The best of Baroque art is clean and pure, not garish or any of those other things "baroque" has come to mean.To that, Grumiaux adds the confident finesse and swiftness of a Shaolin swordsman.There are parts like the famous Ciaccona where you can feel his music slice through your sinews; other parts where it saws and hammers through your defenses, and others where it gently flutters and skims.But it's so visceral it may cause you to gasp, lurch, and shudder.If you're looking for "relaxation" music, you'd be better off looking through the $3.99 CD bins at your local supermarket. ... Read more

    Asin: B00000417N
    Subjects:  1. Chamber    2. Classical   


    Ok Computer
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Audio CD (01 July, 1997)
    list price: $17.98 -- our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    Radiohead's third album got compared to Pink Floyd a lot when it came out, and its slow drama and conceptual sweep certainly put it in that category. OK Computer, though, is a complicated and difficult record: an album about the way machines dehumanize people that's almost entirely un-electronic; an album by a British "new wave of new wave" band that rejects speed and hooks in favor of languorous texture and morose details; a sad and humanist record whose central moment is Thom Yorke crooning "We hope that you choke." Sluggish, understated, and hard to get a grip on, OK Computer takes a few listens to appreciate, but its entirety means more than any one song. --Douglas Wolk ... Read more

    Reviews (1653)

    5-0 out of 5 stars quite gangster
    this record is the money, probably the greatest late nineties radiohead record of all time. i mean geez chris martin said it changed his life, and he doesn't even drink alcohol or coffee. i mean im climbing the walls just thinking about the whole issue. not as good as nirvana maybe but then again neither was the jesus and mary chain. but there are a lot of songs here, and all the tunes are groovy and they're also quite long, so you're really getting much more bang for the buck here: coming in at a crushing 3215 seconds(53 minutes, 35 seconds), we're talking only $0.004 US per second. now that's not quite as good as coldplay's parachutes at $0.003 per second, so you may need to rethink buying this one.............unless you dont like coldplay or think they're cool, or if you've already got that one. really this record is much much better than that one, but it's tough to pass up a deal like that. when you got the greatest brits from the late nineites doing their best joints ever, it's quite thug really, so just buy the record. it's cosmic gangster stuff really.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Radiohead Seminal Work
    An awesome album and a must have for any radiohead fan. Requires more than 3 listens to be fully appreciated, but after that it will fill you with awe. It holds your attention from the marvellous opener "airbag" to the joyous ride of the "tourist" You must own this album. This is one of my favourite albums of all time and with good reason, it is truly the greatest album of all time.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Music for the musically mature
    I cannot begin to comprehend the level of musical genius responsible for creating a work of art like this.For those musically mature enough to appreciate it, this is simply a masterpiece of modern music.This and "Kid A" are probably my two favorites, followed by the rest, in no particular order. ... Read more

    Asin: B000002UJQ
    Subjects:  1. Pop    2. Rock   


    The Bends
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Audio CD (04 April, 1995)
    list price: $17.98 -- our price: $13.49
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    Editorial Review

    While Radiohead saw its stock rising in 1994, it wasn't until 1995's The Bends that it really became a blue chip band. And for good reason. The quintet honed its talent for bombastic Brit Rock, yet still preserved an edge of unpredictability. Even singles like the title track didn't give in to the kind of swooning guitar clichés usually embraced by commercial radio. If the CD proved anything, it was that Radiohead could find solid ground between pop experimentation and the tradition of born-in-the-bone, balls-out rock. --Nick Heil ... Read more

    Reviews (476)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Pure sh**!
    This is pure sh**! I hate Radiohead...it is as bad as Coldplay...just whining...yhyy...yhyyy...waah!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing, amazing CD
    Listen to the CD a while and you'll start saying Radiohead in a hushed voice. This is one of their best CDs alongside OK Computer and Hail to the Thief. If you dont have any Radiohead CDs, this one is probably a good place to start. All the songs are great, but "Street Spirit" is one of the best ending songs on any CD.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fabulous!
    I am a big Radiohead fan. Radiohead's music is divided into two different, expiramental genre's. Pre Kid A and Kid A and the newer releases. I like all of Radiohead's stuff, but pre Kid A Radiohead is my favorite.

    "The Bends" is just an excellent album beginning to end! It is, in my opinion, the best album Radiohead has released yet to date. When my friends are interested in checking out Radiohead, I tell them to start out with "The Bends" and slowly work their way up to the newer CD's. I really feel "The Bends" is just pure genius. I know most would disagree and say "Ok Computer" is their best album. I like "Ok Computer" a lot, but "The Bends" blows it out of the water.

    The first six songs are really good. The whole album is awesome, but my favorite songs are "The Bends", "High and Dry", "Fake Plastic Trees" and "Bones."This album is one worth owning, especially if you are new to Radiohead.The whole album blends so great. Each song compliments that last one perfectly. This is a great album to start out with before exploring their other works, which are all genius in their own way. I give "The Bends" five full stars. ... Read more

    Asin: B000002TQV
    Subjects:  1. Alternative Pop/Rock    2. Britpop    3. England    4. Pop    5. Rock   


    Duncan Sheik
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Audio CD (04 June, 1996)
    list price: $11.98 -- our price: $10.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    Sometimes you find the gems, and sometimes they seek you out. This one plopped through the mailbox with a note saying it reminded someone of Talk Talk--at least, that was what they thought. They were wrong; it's much better than that. If you can imagine Nick Drake arranged by The Blue Nile, you'll have a pretty good idea where Duncan's coming from. And while that may not be the most cheerful place in the world--the overwhelming shade of the album seems to be blue--it produces some lovely songs. Sheik has one of those husky, whispery voices that makes emotions almost transparent, and the spare arrangements that frame it are like windows. Sounds airy, I know, but it's true. And since his songs happen to be damn good, the view, thought bleak, is one you can't take your eyes from.While there may never be a new Nick Drake, in Duncan Sheik there might just be a worthy heir. --Chris Nickson ... Read more

    Reviews (65)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Duncan Sheik makes my life happy!
    I swear anything by this man is awesome.He is a genius and I love him BIG!..yes I love him big, and you will too.He's...AH HE IS GREAT!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Desert Island Album
    Let me put this as plainly as I know how.If I could listen to only one CD for the rest of my (I hope) long life, it would be this one.No thought.No pondering.No question.

    This album has provided me with more hours of delirious listening pleasure than anything else I own.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Debut
    The opening song, She Runs Away, earned Duncan Sheik my eternal appreciation and admiration. Sheik's first album offers a jumpy, yet consistent mix of uppers and downers, if that makes any sense. Barely Breathing tends to ring in my head long after the stereo has been turned off. Sheik's voice is admittedly whiny at times, but dang it, it just doesn't bother me the slightest bit. The man has a way of getting his point across lyrically and musically. This self-titled album is a rock-solid debut... Sheik definately has the goods to stick around for awhile. ... Read more

    Asin: B000002J90
    Subjects:  1. Pop    2. Rock   


    This Way
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Audio CD (13 November, 2001)
    list price: $13.98 -- our price: $13.98
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    It's easy to see that Jewel wants to lighten up. With two previous multimillion-selling albums (and a couple of much-scorned but popular books) filled with earnest, clueless revelations behind her, the singer-songwriter comes a little closer to ground with This Way. "Give it hell 'til the end," a former compatriot urges her on "Till We Run Out of Road," her version of Jackson Browne's "The Load Out." Could that be a hard-bitten road warrior deep inside the woman who makes a point of pronouncing the O's in the opening line ("Mirror, mirror") of this CD's "Serve the Ego"? Maybe. But despite her icky streak's spread to cutesy jokes ("Jesus Loves You"), Jewel hasn't quite abandoned her old judgmental ways (in "I Won't Walk Away," she spies a couple "resisting being one") and ambitions to, you know, really say something, as in the "Desolation Row"-lite "The New Wild West." Still, with some nice, if bland, arrangements set around her, This Way is the Jewel album most likely to appeal to Jewel non-fans. --Rickey Wright ... Read more


    • Enhanced
    Reviews (311)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Love it, love it, love it...
    Great cd.I like each and every one of the songs - and find myself singing them even after hours of last hearing them.Well written and a great balance of upbeat and soft melodies both.Another "gem" from Jewel!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars always by my side!!
    This is one of my FAVE CDs. It's one of those cd that is just wonderful to crank up or to listen to in headphones.I love it! from track 1 thru 14 it's amazing. the sound she has created for this album is so well done, she just keeps the sound flowing into your ears(or/and your heart). I also like how she put 2 live tracks on this album. Live traks by artists that CAN sing/play etc. is the best. There is seriously NOT a single song on this cd that i DON'T like! they are all amazing or wonderful in their own way. It is quite an achivment. and the lyrics... GREAt lyrics. In most of these songs (if not all) she creats fantastick mental imagies. Some songs are sweet/lovable others are funny.

    this cd is not quite like her previouse work. It's the same great lyrics and the same great voice, but the sound it a bit altered, but i don't see that as a negative, it's rather exiting to hear her work growing and changing like this.

    i think this Cd is her best so far, casue every song is so well done... every song gets 5 stars in my book.


    4-0 out of 5 stars This Way
    Here it is. The cd that marked Jewel's departure from her normal beautiful, deep music. The cd that marked her path into mainstream America and eventually led to 0304. That aside...this is great! I love this cd. Yeah, it's feel-good music, but it still has that unmistakable-unforgettable ingredient: essence of Jewel.

    Standing Still: Radio material...with great guitar and a beat. Lyrics, somewhat cliché. "Do you want me, like I want you?" 4/5

    Jesus Loves You: The old Jewel in her new package. An attack on blind fundamentalism...I love it. "They say abortion will send you straight to a fiery hell. That is if the fanatics don't beat Satan to the kill." 5/5

    Everybody Needs Someone Sometime: Simple, and annoying at times, but fun. "Mary heard boys talking in voices low, said she weren't no spring chicken." 3/5

    Do You Want To Play: Possibly one of the best on this cd; great lyrics and an irresistible arrangement. "She said `Are you only half alive or have you always been this inarticulate?'"

    Break Me: Oh yes, it gets me right in my cliché heart every time...I can't resist it. "So break me, take me, just let me feel your love again." 5/5

    Till We Run Out of Road: Let me make it simple: really, really good. "Expensive cabs and sh*tty food, washed down with canceled flights." 5/5

    Serve the Ego: One of my least favorites. Too pop, but good lyrics. "Who says a woman cannot serve?" 3/5

    This Way: Ick. Just a little too detailed there, Jewel... All the same a catchy rhythm...as it were. 3/5

    Cleveland: I love this. Great all around. "It's just an inch from me to you...depending on what map you use." 5/5

    I Won't Walk Away: Not sure what it's about, but I like it anyway. "Rush home to your arms, you soothe my weary soul." 5/5

    Love Me, Just Leave Me Alone: Good, western, get-away-from-me song. "Your sister was a stock broker, but you ain't nothing but a turtleneck." 5/5

    The New Wild West: Pay attention, America! Really good--the old Jewel shines through. "As you drive glittering highways and beaten up byways that straddle and girdle our great and many-faced nation." 5/5

    Gray Matter: Annoying and really typical. "I hate you, I love you." 1/5

    Sometimes It Be That Way: Fun. "And Romeo was a very nice man, he said `Jewel, I don't think you quite understand." 5/5

    Don't call me a blind fan just yet...I really want the old Jewel back. But this is *good* music. So I turn it on when I need a lift. Heck, you can't always be dead serious and deep! God I love that stuff, but This Way is still a nice break...a really nice break... ... Read more

    Asin: B00005QDVS
    Subjects:  1. Adult Alternative Pop/Rock    2. Pop    3. Rock    4. Singer/Songwriter   


    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Audio CD (19 May, 1998)
    list price: $11.98 -- our price: $10.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    Miss Natalie needs to lighten up. Ophelia's a pretty heavy record, in terms of both the thick, string-heavy production and in terms of her protracted, pretentious songs. Merchant has a beautiful voice but she bogs it down with weighty themes that walk around in flashy clothes without going anywhere. She's even got, gulp, Tibetan lyric translations on "Effigy." It's telling that the best track here is the simplest--a lovely reading of an 1887 parlour hymn, "When They Ring The Golden Bells." Its genteel acoustic backdrop perfectly sets off Merchant's voice--and its the only time she sings with a passion that doesn't feel pretended.Guests include Daniel Lanois and The Innocence Mission. --Michael Ruby ... Read more

    Reviews (243)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful, Beautiful Album
    I bought this album back when it was first released, and I still listen to it quite frequently. It represents the full maturity of Natalie Merchant as a songwriter -- someone unashamed to address even the most weighty of topics, and to combine haunting lyrics with enchanting melodies to produce amazingly beautiful music. I've listened to "Life is Sweet" maybe 1,000 times, and it never gets old. Those who say Ms. Merchant should lighten up, or do more songs like "Ring their Golden Bells" (which was possibly the only superficial song in the album), are not appreciating the depth of Natalie Merchant's poetry put to music. This is not the pathetic, generic pop music that allows Britney Spears and In Sync to get a few minutes in the spotlight before the next short-lived sensation hits the airwaves. This is a true work of art.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely beautiful
    Listening to the radio, I fell in love with "Life is Sweet." I bought this CD to hear that one song and didn't care about anything else. It was only after a few lazy moments when I was unwilling to switch CDs that the rest of this amazing music came to me.

    Each song is hauntingly beautiful. Each track evokes something familiar. Hearing them is like rediscovering a secret that was first whispered to you long ago.

    Late at night when the house is quiet, I play this CD. It is extremely soothing and it allows me to write with a clear head.

    James Green, author of "If There's One Thing I've Learned."

    5-0 out of 5 stars Stunningly beautiful
    Natalie Merchant is one of the most amazing songwriters still making records today.She's always original (unlike Tori Amos) and her voice is just stunning.Ophelia isn't the kind of album everyone will appreciate, but it's hard to not be able to find anything good about the album.Merchant's voice has never sounded so beautiful and the music and lyrics compliment each other perfectly.If you have a slight interest in Natalie, I'd pick up Tigerlily before getting Ophelia or Motherland.If you end up a fan of Natalie's, do yourself a favour a buy Ophelia! ... Read more

    Asin: B000006OAM
    Subjects:  1. Pop    2. Rock   


    Good Will Hunting (Miramax Collector's Series)
    Director: Gus Van Sant
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    DVD (04 March, 2003)
    list price: $19.99 -- our price: $14.99
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    Editorial Review

    Robin Williams won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck nabbed one for Best Original Screenplay, but the feel-good hit Good Will Hunting triumphs because of its gifted director, Gus Van Sant. The unconventional director (My Own Private Idaho, Drugstore Cowboy) saves a script marred by vanity and clunky character development by yanking soulful, touching performances out of his entire cast (amazingly, even one by Williams that's relatively schtick-free). Van Sant pulls off the equivalent of what George Cukor accomplished for women's melodrama in the '30s and '40s: He's crafted an intelligent, unabashedly emotional male weepie about men trying to find inner-wisdom.

    Matt Damon stars as Will Hunting, a closet math genius who ignores his gift in favor of nightly boozing and fighting with South Boston buddies (co-writer Ben Affleck among them). While working as a university janitor, he solves an impossible calculus problem scribbled on a hallway blackboard and reluctantly becomes the prodigy of an arrogant MIT professor (Stellan Skarsgård). Damon only avoids prison by agreeing to see psychiatrists, all of whom he mocks or psychologically destroys until he meets his match in the professor's former childhood friend, played by Williams. Both doctor and patient are haunted by the past, and as mutual respect develops, the healing process begins. The film's beauty lies not with grand climaxes, but with small, quiet moments. Scenes such as Affleck's clumsy pep talk to Damon while they drink beer after work, or any number of therapy session between Williams and Damon offer poignant looks at the awkward ways men show affection and feeling for one another. --Dave McCoy ... Read more


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    4-0 out of 5 stars Learning to think.
    I thought this film was about learning to think, make decisions. Will was a genius, but could not make personal decisions - he was either a follower or being groomed by the professor.Will could not even decide whether he loved his girl friend; which points out that love is intertwined with our decision making process. In my mind, the psychologist, played by Robin Williams manages to get him thinking for himself.

    This film is mostly about contrived psychotherapy. Repeatedly saying 'it's not your fault, Will' and Will's brake down was so lame. This is almost as far fetched as Will being a math genius. Will goes out with a girl for a few dates and now she is in love with him. Is any of this realistic? A rich girl falls in love with a foul mouth janitor? It is hard to suspend my disbelief for a movie that presents itself as serious. People who like this movie do so because they've developed this emotional attatchment to the character of Will. This movie was naive and sappy and if you take syruppy, emotionally charged scenes a serious film making - this movie is for you. It is also incredibly juvenile and isn't true to life at all. This is more of a chick-flick and the only guys I can see liking it enough to actuall buy it - probably aren't straight.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies out there
    It's just flat out an overwhelming mix of comedy and drama. Some of the greatest lines I've heard in a movie. And even though it won best original screenplay, it still doesn't get the credit it deserves. This belongs among the greatest of all time. ... Read more

    Asin: 6305216088
    Subjects:  1. Feature Film-drama   


    Director: Robert Zemeckis
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    DVD (03 February, 2004)
    list price: $14.97 -- our price: $11.23
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    Editorial Review

    The opening and closing moments of Robert (Forrest Gump) Zemeckis's Contact astonish viewers with the sort of breathtaking conceptual imagery one hardly ever sees in movies these day--each is an expression of the heroine's lifelong quest (both spiritual and scientific) to explore the meaning of human existence through contact with extraterrestrial life. The movie begins by soaring far out into space, then returns dizzyingly to earth until all the stars in the heavens condense into the sparkle in one little girl's eye. It ends with that same girl as an adult (Jodie Foster)--her search having taken her to places beyond her imagination--turning her gaze inward and seeing the universe in a handful of sand. Contact traces the journey between those two visual epiphanies. Based on Carl Sagan's novel, Contact is exceptionally thoughtful and provocative for a big-budget Hollywood science fiction picture, with elements that recall everything from 2001 to The Right Stuff. Foster's solid performance (and some really incredible alien hardware) keep viewers interested, even when the story skips and meanders, or when the halo around the golden locks of rising-star-of-a-different-kind Matthew McConaughey (as the pure-Hollywood-hokum love interest) reaches Milky Way-level wattage. Ambitious, ambiguous, pretentious, unpredictable--Contact is all of these things and more. Much of it remains open to speculation and interpretation, but whatever conclusions one eventually draws, Contact deserves recognition as a rare piece of big-budget studio filmmaking on a personal scale. --Jim Emerson ... Read more


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    4-0 out of 5 stars Awesome!
    Gather the little ones around, turn on your surround sound and sub-woofers, and prepare for the ride of your life.
    An aspiring sceintist catches a signal on those big satalites you see in the desert on the discovery channel.It turns out to be more than expected...

    5-0 out of 5 stars A superb story of God, Science, and search for the unknown!
    This movie touches many themes, mainly that, is everything based on Science, or is there a higher power out there that created everything we know today?Perhaps it's a little of both.This movie was one of the best TRUE Sci-Fi releases in the past 10 years!

    The search for life outside our solar system becomes a personal and spiritual quest for a young researcher. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) is a scientist who lost her faith in God after her parents died when she was a child. However, Ellie has learned to develop a different sort of faith in the seemingly unknowable: working with a group that monitors radio waves from space, Ellie hopes that some day she will receive a coherent message from another world that will prove that there is a world beyond our own.

    Ellie's hard work is rewarded when her team picks up a signal that does not appear to be of earthly origin. Ellie decodes the message, which turns out to be plans for a space craft, which she takes as an invitation for a meeting with the aliens. Ellie and her fellow researchers soon run into interference from a White House scientific advisor, David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt), who cuts off their funding and tries to take credit for their achievements. However, Ellie receives moral support from Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey), a spiritual teacher who advises President Clinton and tries to persuade her to accept the existence of a higher power, and financial backing from S.R. Hadden (John Hurt), a multi-millionaire willing to fund her attempts to contact the source of the message. Contact was based on a novel by Carl Sagan

    5-0 out of 5 stars Moving, mind blowing
    This film really makes you think about what would happen if this story were to come true. The film is touching and Jodie Foster performs perfectly.

    Well worth the add to any DVD collection! ... Read more

    Asin: 0790733226
    Subjects:  1. Feature Film-drama   


    Dead Poets Society
    Director: Peter Weir
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    DVD (04 March, 2003)
    list price: $19.99 -- our price: $14.99
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    Editorial Review

    Robin Williams stars as an English teacher who doesn't fit into the conservative prep school where he teaches, but whose charisma and love of poetry inspires several boys to revive a secret society with a bohemian bent. The script is well meaning but a little trite, though director Peter Weir (The Truman Show) adds layers of emotional depth in scenes of conflict between the kids and adults. (A subplot involving one father's terrible pressure on his son--played by Robert Sean Leonard--to drop his interest in theater reaches heartbreaking proportions.) Williams is given plenty of latitude to work in his brand of improvisational humor, though it is all well-woven into his character's style of instruction. --Tom Keogh ... Read more


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    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
    This is definitely one of the best movies I've ever watched, and the most heart-wrenching. Most of the movie I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, and the only reason I din't cry then and there was because I was watching it in school with my class, and I did do some good crying when I was alone. An excellent movie, great acting, 99999 stars! (And for you ladies- even though I know he's too old for me, the actor palying Neil is real cute!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Deleted scenes mystery
    I'll never forget when this had its TV premiere. I was watching it and suddenly there were scenes that were NOT in the theatrical release! One was of Keating and the Latin teacher having a talk in their office. Another was of Keating and Neil having a talk. I've always wanted to see those scenes again but the DVD has no deleted scenes. If anyone knows where to get them, let us know. This film is brilliant.

    3-0 out of 5 stars A mediocre Robin Williams movie
    "Dead Poets Society" wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. It got better as it went on is what I should also add. I am a great fan of Robin, but I rather enjoy his comedy better like "Toys" and "Mrs. Doubtfire". I can see why a lot of people love his drama too. This was ALRIGHT. It kind of got better, but then it was not as good but it had a worthful ending to it. Need I say anymore? In conclusion, Robin Williams teaching a few boys poetry in his own way is not as good as Robin Williams as a toy maker or a ironic housekeeper. Although, I CAN see why this film is loved so much. Drama for me is good every once in a while. {Actually, I think Robin Williams has been in more dramas than comedy because I also think he got some award for "Good Will Hunting", but I am not really interested inseeing that}.Comedy or fantasy is more of my style. ... Read more

    Asin: 6305144168
    Subjects:  1. Feature Film-drama   


    Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    DVD (December, 2002)
    list price: $19.99 -- our price: $14.99
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    Editorial Review

    Perhaps the most charming movie of all time, Amélie is certainly one of the top 10. The title character (the bashful and impish AudreyTautou) is a single waitress who decides to help other lonely people fix their lives. Her widowed father yearns to travel but won't, so to inspire the old man she sends his garden gnome on a tour of the world; with whispered gossip, she brings together two cranky regulars at her café; she reverses the doorknobs and reprograms the speed dial of a grocer who's mean to his assistant. Gradually she realizes her own life needs fixing, and a chance meeting leads to her most elaborate stratagem of all. This is a deeply wonderful movie, an illuminating mix of magic and pragmatism. Fans of the director's previous films (Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children) will not be disappointed; newcomers will be delighted. --Bret Fetzer ... Read more


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    5-0 out of 5 stars Roaming Gnome
    This movie is about a girl named Amelie. Who in her own strange way tries to help her friends and some strangers find happiness. This movie you have to catch at the beginning or you will be totally confused. This movie is great it shows you that you can take fate into you own hands and not wait around for a miracle that may never come.

    1-0 out of 5 stars "Amelie": avoid it with someone you love
    America's relationship with France, never the hardiest, was dealt a decisive blow with France's refusal to give the big "thumbs-up" to our incursion into Iraq. Some feel the enmity thus engendered in U.S. hearts to be more than justified. "Bushwa," I say (mainly because it's fun); if there were indeed a reason to be angry with our snail-eating friends across the sea it would be, rather, the illegal and unjust "Amelie".

    It has been noted elsewhere that Audrey Tautou bears a striking physical resemblance to Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean, but personally I believe this comment to be "below the belt", and have no intention of dignifying its rancor by repeating it here. More germane: that the relentless symmetry of "Amelie"'s visual design (take note, budding film makers: nothin' screams "MY MOVIE IS A MASTERPIECE!" quite as loudly as having the same things on both halves of the screen) and Tautou's endlessly coy grins, grimaces and pie-eyed glances into the camera (kootchie-kootchie!) turned my face as GREEN as most of the shots in this film, for reasons I have no way of divining, happen to be.

    As for the narration, mercilessly cloying in two languages: it is the rare film indeed that would not benefit from the excision of same. Film is a medium consisting of both pictures-


    - and sound. There are many possibilities inherent in this combination. It would be good for film makers to exhaust them all before resorting, ever so reluctantly, to the hiring of someone to stand off-screen and tell us about things we are not being shown (or worse) to explain to us things we ARE being shown, or (also bad) to explain what the characters on-screen are thinking or feeling about what is happening, or not happening, to them, or whatever.

    C'est la vie (That Gallic charm is infectious).

    It is for now a technical impossibility to give a film a zero-star rating; one star will have to do. Some films, however, are indeed wholly without merit.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Deserve Six Stars, not five...
    Another Ran-Right-Out-And-Bought Production...I loved Loved LOVED this movie!There are a few adult scenes but they are so amusingly done (not smutty like American films would be) that they are almost safe to watch with your folks.While watching this movie, my husband turned to me and asked, Would you mind if I fell in love with her (Audrey)?" I said I didnt mind at all; I was nearly in love with her myself.This is a beautiful, fantastic movie. ... Read more

    Asin: B0000640VO
    Subjects:  1. Foreign Film - French   


    Little Women - Collector's Edition
    Director: Gillian Armstrong
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    DVD (03 June, 2003)
    list price: $14.94 -- our price: $11.95
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    Editorial Review

    The flaws are easily forgiven in this beautiful version ofLouisa May Alcott's novel. A stirring look at life in New England duringthe Civil War, Little Women is a triumph for all involved. We follow one family asthey split into the world, ending up with the most independent, theoutspoken Jo (Winona Ryder). This time around, the dramatics andconclusions fall into place a little too well, instead of finding life'slittle accidents along the way. Everyone now looks a bit too cute and oh,so nice. As the matron, Marmee, Susan Sarandon kicks the film into amodern tone, creating a movie alive with a great feminine sprit. KirstenDunst (Interview with the Vampire) has another showy role. The youngensemble cast cannot be faulted, with Ryder beginning the movie in a roleakin to light comedy and crescendoing to a triumphant end worthy of anOscar. --Doug Thomas ... Read more


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    Reviews (126)

    3-0 out of 5 stars I Wish I Had Rented the DVD Instead of Bought!
    This was a decent film adaptation of one of my favorite books Little Women and I don't always require a movie to be 100% like the book but I'm a little disappointed with how much was changed and how some of the characters were using modern slang words that they just woudn't have used in the olden days and I can't believe that they didn't have Wynona Ryder utter the phrase Christopher Columbus! like Katherine Hepburn and June Allison did in their film portrayals as Jo. While I think the main cast acted well some of the supporting actors were miscast. I actually like Eric Stoltz, he was great in Memphis Belle but I think he was miscast as Laurie's teacher friend who married Meg. He just played the character as if he was a mamby pamby weakling! The movie was worth viewing once but I'm not sure I would want to view this movie again and I wish I had rented the DVD instead of bought!

    5-0 out of 5 stars TRUE TO THE SPIRIT OF THE BOOK!
    Yeah, so this movie is not really true to the books with all of the modern feminist PC stuff but it's true to the spirit of the book and I liked this movie. Okay so the Marmee and Meg of the book were too prim and proper to bring things up like women being forced to wear corsets and stuff like that but I don't think that it ruined the movie but just added a different twist to it! The cast was great, but I especially liked Winona Ryder as Jo, Claire Daines as Beth, Kirstin Dunst as younger Amy, and Samantha Mathis as older Amy! If you have read the book and loved the other movie versions of Little Women you may like this too. It has a modernized style but it's good and I recommend it!

    2-0 out of 5 stars Bad interpretation of the classic book
    I didn't like this movie too much, I think the director and script writer took too much of the book and added too much of their own, in a way that spoils the movie.
    The movie flaws over the most important parts of the book, and on the other hand gives great attention to events invented by the script writer. Throughout the movie there is a feeling that the most important parts of the book pop out of nowhere, for two minutes, and then talentlessly cut-off for some invented event.
    In addition the movie is filled with 20th century values, which are completely anachronistic to the time when the plot happenes. For example, there is a protest against Child Labor in China, which makes you wanna shout that even in the U.S and China there was child labor these days, so what's the point of putting it in. It feels as if the writer insults the viewer's intelligence by making his messages as clear as can be, and the credibility of the plot pays for it.
    The design of the characters is another problem. Jo is very feminine in this movie and hardly remind the book. Her famous exclamation "Christopher Colombus!" is replaced here by a weak "By Jehosafat"(?). The mother is presented like a hard person. The movie gets lost between the sisters and there is a feeling that none of the sisters get, eventually, enough attention.
    In conclusion, I think it's a badly written and talentlessly directed movie. I think it's a misinterpretation of the book, caused by a desparate try to be original and a lousy attempt to make the book "understood" for the modern person, as if anything that was written before 1990 is beyond our grasp. Thus, it ignores the fact that great litrature is timeless and eternal. ... Read more

    Asin: 0767851013
    Subjects:  1. Feature Film-drama   


    Swingers (Miramax Collector's Series)
    Director: Doug Liman
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    DVD (24 September, 2002)
    list price: $14.99 -- our price: $11.24
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    Editorial Review

    For anyone who wants to catch a glimpse of the Los Angeles "lounge" scene that was in vogue during the early and mid-1990s, here's the movie that virtually defined that brief but colorful nightlife milieu. As an added bonus, it just happens to be a very funny, observant story about love, loss, and male bonding among a group of friends who struggle to find decent jobs by day, and lurk through Hollywood's hottest nightclubs by night. A sort of latter-day Rat Pack, they include Mike (writer-actor Jon Favreau) and his closest buddy, Trent (Vince Vaughn), who are waiting for the big show-biz break that seems to be eluding them. Mike's twisted up about the girlfriend he left back East to pursue his going-nowhere standup comedy career, and Trent uses the word "money" as an adjective ("Man, we look totally money tonight") with such frequency that you may find yourself slipping into lounge-lizard mode after watching the movie. One of the most noteworthy indie-film success stories of the '90s, this time-capsule comedy seized its moment in the spotlight, launched several promising careers, and continues to maintain its lasting appeal. --Jeff Shannon ... Read more


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    4-0 out of 5 stars Small budget + big heart=Swingers
    There aren't many movies that belong in any respectable DVD collection, but Swingers should be an no-brainer of a pick, especially for those of the male persuasion.This movie was made ten years ago for the staggeringly low sum of about $250,000 (more than Clerks, but about a quarter percent of what Terminator 2 cost), but it ended up being yet another of Miramax's independent success stories, and even now it's easy to see why.This may not be the ultimate guy movie, but it's close, as it packs a heavy emotional punch without ever becoming schmaltzy or manipulative.It's paced at breakneck speed, edited and directed with ruthless efficiency, and utterly unpolished in appearance (in their commentary track, the director and editor basically admit they barely knew how to make a movie at the time), but that's all part of Swingers's relaxed, almost improvised charm.

    While it may breeze by in a mere 95 minutes, Swingers is successfully largely because it's packed almost to bursting with brilliant dialogue.This is, simply put, one of the most quotable movies of the 1990's, right up there with Goodfellas, The Big Lebowski, and Office Space (in fact, a couple years ago Bill Simmons, aka ESPN.com's Sports Guy, used quotes from this movie for his team-by-team NFL preview).The characters basically use their own language, which may well be how L.A.-area lounge-lizard types actually talk for all this reviewer knows ("Dude, you are so f***ing money" being a typical line), but the central ideas of the movie come across easily regardless of the lingo they're conveyed in.In sharp contrast to the generally loathsome teen dramedies that started coming out just a couple years after this movie's release, Swingers is that rare comedy that never takes the low road and panders to its audience; instead it plays it cool throughout and offers up plenty of humanity to go with its humor.It is hysterically funny, but like great comedies from Better Off Dead to Clerks to Sideways, it's funny partly because it's rooted in a reality that's often no laughing matter.There's one scene in particular that sums up the movie, when Jon Favreau's protagonist Mike keeps leaving increasingly uncomfortable early-morning phone messages for a woman he's just met in a bar until she eventually gets on the phone and tells him never to call her again.Sparsely lit and painfully drawn-out, it's hilarious and agonizing to watch all at the same time.It's one of several scenes throught the movie where I felt somewhat guilty about laughing but laughed just the same.

    At bottom, Swingers has such enduring appeal because of the contradiction at its core: it's a movie about serious subjects (lost love, male friendship, the struggle to find oneself), but it never really lets on that it's about anything serious, instead letting the viewers figure it out for themselves.Beneath all the humor, of which there is a great deal, Swingers is about people who have hit their mid-20's and found that everything isn't quite as they thought it would be.In another telling segment, the movie's two main characters hop in the car for an impromptu trip to Vegas, but their excitement gradually fades on the long drive from L.A., and the situation doesn't improve when their casino experience turns out to be far less glamorous than anticipated.This scene (actually about a quarter of the movie) provides a neat metaphor for the overarching theme of Swingers: we all have big dreams at one point or another, but reality often fails to measure up.There are legions of such people out there, and my guess is most can find something to relate to in Mike (played note-perfectly by Favreau, who also wrote the movie).The movie's opening finds Mike struggling to get over his ex-girlfriend six months after their breakup, going nowhere in his standup career, and deep into a spiral of despair and desperation.Sadly, we've all known at least one guy like Mike, the sensitive type who eventually winds up retreating into negativity and self-pity when things aren't going their way.

    While Mike is ultimately the central figure, Swingers is nothing if not an ensemble movie, and it's populated by a cast of well-drawn, believable, and decidedly funny characters.Mike is joined in his personal and professional struggles by Trent (Vince Vaughn), Rob (Ron Livingston), Sue (Patrick Van Horn), and Charles (Alex Desert), all of whom have found themselves in basically the same boat.They hit a series of trendy clubs and parties throughout the movie, but remain virtual nobodies on the fringe of the local scene.These guys are, for lack of a better word, a bunch of tools, but they're likeable for precisely that reason.Beneath their hip exteriors, they're just struggling actors with no girlfriends, and the cast obviously has a lot of fun playing characters who aren't to be taken in any way seriously.Vaughn is especially indelible in the role of Trent, the ultimate wannabe hipster, right down to his dapper appearance and frequent use of Rat Pack-era slang.In lesser hands, Trent might come off as a laughable poser, but here he's given an undeniable depth and humanity because his overwhelming good intentions are always clearly visible.

    As I've already mentioned, this movie was made for next to nothing, and it does show a great deal.The commentary tracks on this DVD (one with director Doug Liman and editor Steve Mirrione, the other with Favreau and Vaughn) highlight the myriad corners that were cut and cinematic "rules" that were broken due to budget constraints, but in the end it all works anyway.Swingers is wisely limited to a small scale, examining the immense difficulties and occasional victories that are a part of daily life, no matter where you live or what age you are.This fact, along with its hilarious script and sharp acting, combine to make a movie that's still utterly relevant ten years after its release.The term "classic" is thrown around way too often, but Swingers is one movie that definitely deserves the label.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I am 100% Girl and I enjoyed this movie!
    When my husband (then boyfriend) rented this movie, I was pissed off thinking it was some stupid guy movie...but the movie was entertaining, funny, cleverly written, and much more!It's not a stupid movie at all - it has everything both a guy and a girl would enjoy in a movie...it's not mush and it's not all about testosterone either!A+

    5-0 out of 5 stars it doesn't get any better than this
    I assumed this movie would be about guys scoring chicks and making women look foolish in the process, but I was dead wrong. It's the guys who end up looking ridiculous, and the nice guy finishes first this time. Great music, wonderfully natural feel, like being right there in the action instead of watching a movie (Jon Favreau pulls this off in "Made" as well). Favreau is sweet and adorable as Mike Peters, who's trying to get over his girlfriend, and Vince Vaughn oozes charisma and demands your attention as Trent Walker. Very funny film, very real, never a dull moment. You'll fall in love with this film and then you'll have to buy the soundtrack, because it's so damn cool. One of my top 5 favorite films.
    Vegas, Baby, VEGAS!!!!! ... Read more

    Asin: B00006ADFY
    Subjects:  1. Feature Film-comedy   


    The Princess Bride (Special Edition)
    Director: Rob Reiner
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    DVD (11 January, 2005)
    list price: $14.95 -- our price: $11.21
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    Editorial Review

    Screenwriter William Goldman's novel The Princess Bride earnedits own loyal audience on the strength of its narrative voice and its gently satirical, hyperbolic spin on swashbuckled adventure that seemed almost purely literary. For all its derring-do and vivid over-the-top characters, the book's joy was dictated as much by the deadpan tone of its narrator and a winking acknowledgement of the clichés being sent up. Miraculously, director Rob Reiner and Goldman himself managed to visualize this romantic fable while keeping that external voice largely intact: using a storytelling framework, avuncular Grandpa (Peter Falk) gradually seduces his skeptical grandson (Fred Savage) into the absurd, irresistible melodrama of the title story.

    And what a story: a lowly stable boy, Westley (Cary Elwes), pledges his love to the beautiful Buttercup (Robin Wright), only to be abducted and reportedly killed by pirates while Buttercup is betrothed to the evil Prince Humperdinck. Even as Buttercup herself is kidnapped by a giant, a scheming criminal mastermind, and a master Spanish swordsman, a mysterious masked pirate (could it be Westley?) follows in pursuit. As they sail toward the Cliffs of Insanity...

    The wild and woolly arcs of the story, the sudden twists of fate, and, above all, the cartoon-scaled characters all work because of Goldman's very funny script, Reiner's confident direction, and a terrific cast. Elwes and Wright, both sporting their best English accents, juggle romantic fervor and physical slapstick effortlessly, while supporting roles boast Mandy Patinkin (the swordsman Inigo Montoya), Wallace Shawn (the incredulous schemer Vizzini), and Christopher Guest (evil Count Rugen) with brief but funny cameos from Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, and Peter Cook. --Sam Sutherland ... Read more


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    5-0 out of 5 stars a classic worth keeping
    this is the best spoof i have ever seen.Hands down.
    it is hilarious, witty, and set to a quick pace.Highly recomended.
    it never occoured to me that this movie takes place in the mediterrenean until i read the book.Makes sense.You've got a turk, a sicilian, and a spaniard.Other than that, there's no historical or otherwise geographical accuracy in the book.I've watched the black and white version recorded on tv since i was a little kid, and i love this version and the story overall.the sicilian aforetomentioned is hilarious, especially in his efforts to prove his superiority of intelligence.
    A grandfather comes over to his grandson's house to read him the book of this story to give him something else to do besides play baseball on super nentendo.Thier commentary is pretty good.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Everything for Everyone
    This is currently my favorite movie, ever. Considering it was released in 1987, that says something.

    The movie is tight; every line, every shot, every pause is there for a reason. There are no slow boring parts. The cast is flawless,everyone excellent, the perfect representation of their characters. The characters themselves are well-developed, despite this being a fairy tale.

    The story has everything. It's hilarious, full of adventure, and has romance and drama too. You don't even miss the latest special effects; the out of date obviously fake effects work well with the overall character of the moving. What could you possibly want that it doesn't have?

    5-0 out of 5 stars A classic, and rightfully so
    "The Princess Bride" is an offbeat fairy tale adventure that seems to have found its way into "cult classic" status. More often than not, you'll find it on someone's list of favorite movies.

    The story is told primarily through the imagination of a young boy, whose grandfather has come over to read to him while he is sick in bed. At first the boy is reluctant to hear the story, worried that it's nothing more than a "kissing book", but soon he (along with us, the audience) is sucked into the action.

    And what action. To paraphrase the summation included in one of the promotional items on the DVD, "she gets kidnapped, he gets killed, but somehow things turn out all right in the end." In between there are daring swordfights, dashing pirates, wicked princes, gentle giants, ROUSes, evil geniuses and miracle men. Puns and one line jokes abound. There's really not a dull moment to be found in this movie. What romance there is shouldn't classify the film as a "chick flick" because Buttercup and Westley aren't really your absolutely sickeningly perfect couple, though it is cool that the film sends the message that true love conquers all.

    This is one movie sets out to provide something for everyone, and it completely succeeds in reaching that goal.
    ... Read more

    Asin: B00005LOKQ
    Subjects:  1. Feature Film Family   


    The Art of Conducting - Great Conductors of the Past
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    DVD (19 November, 2002)
    list price: $29.99
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    Reviews (5)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Must For All Music Students
    This DVD attempts to cover over a dozen great conductors within 164 minutes when time would only allow for a few, so limits and shartfalls are inevitable.

    However, there is a short clip of Barbirolli rehearsing ( a minute or so) which most revealing and was later directly commented upon by an EMI Record producer. We also have Beecham talking, rehearsing and performing. The consensus among the top musicians (Issac Stern, Menuhin, Hugh Bean etc) was: he was grossly underrated. But perhaps due to the availability of the films, the point is not sufficiently bourne out by the short clips here.

    The point about Bernstein is well made out, pariticularly in the light of the commentaries by Issac Stern ( to a lesser degree by JE Gardiner) and the rehearsal/performance though short are neverthless self evident. So was the case of Weigartner and Busch.

    We have some precise comments on Furtwangler by Menuhin, to be supplemented by Schwarzkopf and the then timpanist of the Berlin Philharmonic; such comments are to be seen from another angle by Hugh Bean and rounded up by an EMI Record Producer. I'm not sure if the point is well made out from the clips here; but that shouldn't worry serious music lovers who would have no problem referring to his CDs in the light of these comments.

    The point about Klemperer, however briefly, is well made out. So is the case of Strauss or even Toscanini and Stokowski. Stokowski even explained in front of the camera the role of a conductor and what he was driving at. Likewise was the coverage of Bruno Walter and Szell, both in terms of comments and illustrations: both talked and rehearsed and performed. The coverage of Reiner is shorter but was no less forceful. The case of Koussevitzky is comparatively weaker though.

    In a nutshell, very informative as to what music is, and how these great musicians make music, not so much as composers but more as interpreter of the composers' music. And having gone through it a second time, and to do it justice, I must add: it has deservingly won the Best Video - 1995 Gramophone Award 1995 (UK) & Choc de l'Annee 1994...The producer,or rather the musicans generally had much misgivings about Karajan: note Schwartkopf's relation of Furtwrangler's comment about Mr "Kar's way" treatment on Beethoven; Isaac Stern along other musicans emphasis oneye contact with the members which should be as important as the baton for the conductor etc...

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Film
    I wish it had Eugene Ormandy in action though... since I study music in Philadelphia.
    However, this is a great film.
    A must have!!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Must if you want to see these Maestros in Action
    A very good survey of 16 of the 20th century's great conductors, some greater than the others, one must add.

    The contributors are attractive enough. We have Jack Brymer, John Gardiner, Beecham himself, and a lot more. Among them Menuhin is definitely the superstar. His comments on Beecham, Furtwangler or Toscanini, just like his violin music, are so expressive and very much to the point. As to Isaac Stern, his remarks make a mixed bag. But once the question is rightly framed, like those on Bruno Walter orBernstein, heis no less potent.

    Comments on Reiner and Stokowski are very precise too. Or else, Klemperer on Walter, plus clips of the two rehearsing on their own are so illuninating. And we can even see Strauss himself actually conducting! These two alone are worth the price of this DVD. And of course, one may also be delighted by what Berlin Philharmonic's former timpanist's said of Karajan, "he is not a creator of any kind; he is a salesman, selling music, selling the orchestra and himself... but that was what we wanted..."

    The length of the coverage, however,varies a lot perhaps due to the availability of the clips or whatever: some unnecessarily long and some unforgivably short. Moreover, they don't always support or illustrate the point the contributors are making. We even have George Szell talking about the justification of keeping an orchestra and the financial side of keeping one etc, quite irrelevant as far as the art of conducting is concerned. One may also grumble that quite a number of great European conductors are left unntouched. But the running time is already 164 min. plus a most interesting bonus. We perhaps couldn't possibly expect more. ... Read more

    Asin: B00005V30T
    Sales Rank: 23909
    Subjects:  1. Music Videos - Classical   

    Algebra (Graduate Texts in Mathematics)
    by Thomas W. Hungerford
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (06 May, 1997)
    list price: $54.95 -- our price: $43.41
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (9)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Deceptively Wonderful
    OK here's the truth:This book is an awful text when accompanied by not so great prof is teaching from it (e.g. one who delivers nothing but the text). BUT... once you begin to understand enough to know that the "trivial" "exercise" and "left to the reader" proofs are quite straightforward, the book is probably the best reference in Algebra you can hope for.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read for any budding mathematician
    I've been acquainted with several introductory graduate algebra
    books over the years, and prefer this one for its coverage of all the fundamental areas (groups, modules, rings, linear algebra, fields, and category theory), being concise, and providing great care when outlining each proof.

    If one compare's the amount of material in this book to Jacobson's "Basic Algebra Vol 1", Grove's "Algebra", or Herstein's "Abstract Algebra", Hungerford's book gets the nod.
    Moreover, I much more prefer the concise definition, example, theorem, proof format over the more colloquial approach, as can be found in Jacobson's text. For me at least, the payoff for reading an algebra text is the beauty found in the logic and reasoning from which very profound results arise from the complex interaction and use of more straightforward ones. And this is exactly where Hungerford's book shines through in tremendous glory. When outlining a proof he does an outstanding job in citating the results from previous Chapters that are used. For me this is the strength of algebra (In geometry I cringe when I get a picture for proof, and in analysis it is often quite complicated to verify that a given situation possesses the appropriate conditions needed to invoke some famous lemma or theorem).

    One last good word about this book: I found the exercises both in abundance (after each section) and quite reasonable for a first year grad. student. Happy reading.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The bee's knees
    This book is the Basic Language of Mathematics (by J. J. Schaffer) of the Algebra world.Without doubt it is an excellent dictionary of general facts about algebra.But learning by it will leave one with at best amusing memories and a nervous twitch.Just for a taste, "This proof has two parts.The first is easy.The second is left to the reader."About half the proofs in the book go like this.And so at the end of each section, the reader is left with just the dry theorems to attempt the exercises, without the slightest idea of how problems of a certain type are actually proven or even approached.And oh, the exercises.A few are easy.A few are open problems.The rest in between seem to at one point have been at the core of someone's respective masters thesis.

    This book has three genuinely good uses.If you have a doctorate in pure Mathematics, a respectable doctorate that has nothing to do with PDEs and the thesis for which took longer to write on paper then it did to format the pictures to fit the margins, and you want to look up how much of the ring structure of R is inherited by R[x] in under 3 minutes, then this book belongs on your shelf.

    If you have taken at least two algebra courses at the graduate level (Real graduate, not graduate equivalent.Most of my Algebra I class had two pretty good undergrad algebra classes coming in, and got slaughtered by Hungerford), then this book can make for a good review of basic algebra you should already know.

    Finally, if you are already comfortable with algebra but would like to know more about category theory, this book offers a different perspective on the subject that might be insightful, so long as you don't grow a hatred of the word 'free'. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0387905189
    Sales Rank: 126342
    Subjects:  1. Algebra    2. Algebra - General    3. Categories (Mathematics)    4. Mathematics    5. Modules (Algebra)    6. Rings (Algebra)    7. Mathematics / Algebra / General   


    Algebraic Geometry (Graduate Texts in Mathematics)
    by Robin Hartshorne
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 April, 1997)
    list price: $69.95 -- our price: $59.80
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (6)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Clearest Introduction to Algebraic Geometry
    Hartshorne is by far the most clear and compact of all introductions to algebraic geometry. I agree with what most of the other reviewers have said about the book. It is absolutely amazing how the Grothendieck et al. approach has provided us with tools that we almost take for granted, whereby everything seems precise and crystal clear. AG has definitely made a profound influence on our philosophy of mathematics.

    Lee Carlson is absolutely right about exploring the literature for geometrical motivation and different perspectives. Throughout his book, Hartshorne does not reference enough to the Italian and Weil literature. (However, he does inform his reader about this in the intr.).

    Here are some classics for different homological perspectives (which as he mentions are essential for the budding algebraic geometer to read)

    Godement-Topologie Algebrique et Theorie des Faiscieux(???)
    Serre- Faisceux Algebrique Coherents (Oeuvres I)
    Grothendieck's Tohoku paper (send me an e-mail and I'll send it to you)

    All of them are definitely still worth reading and are probably the best introductions to sheaves and categories. In fact, at the moment I'm reading Serre's FAC and am having a wonderful time. If you don't know French, then learn it! The French is very easy and all a non-french speaker will probably need is a small dictionary.

    It is my opinion that one should should explore the literature as soon as possible and not get bogged down by the countless no. of other introductions. Algebraic geometry is a huge and central subject that one cannot afford to waste time with the basics.

    To find other modern classics, I think Hartshorne's reference is superb. If you really want go back in time (but not too back), then check out in particular Jacobi's CW and Baker's Abelian Functions : Abel's Theorem and the Allied Theory of Theta Functions (Cambridge Mathematical Library). (Obviously the litarature abounds in both directions of the 19th Century)

    A great overview and reference to the 20th Century history of algebraic geometry is Dieudonne's little book `History of Algebraic Geometry' (worth the rediculus pricing). In particular, Serre's philosophy in introducing cohomology is discussed in the book, which I found very interesting.

    Great further reads are (leaving the arithmetic story [e.g. Elliptic Curves] aside) :

    SGA, EGA (in french too!)

    The 1974 AMS Arcata, which shows a lot of the directions AG is heading.

    Lang or Mumford- Abelian Varieties (both are great.
    Mumford uses schemes, but Lang touches arithmetic).

    Milne- Etale Cohomology.
    This is a very good text that will lead the reader to Deligne's Conjecture de Weil I & II.

    Serre- Algebraic Groups and Class Fields.
    Contains different approaches to the Riemann-Roch Thm and discusses goemetric class field theory.

    Griffiths and Harris.
    This gives a different approach to algebraic geometry. It's more geometric and touches upon many concepts that originated from (introduced by) de Rham and E. Cartan (e.g. Currents, differential forms etc.)

    Mumford- Lectures on algebraic surfaces.
    Shafarevitch et al.- Algebraic surfaces.
    These are special topics and the books are 'raw' in the sense that they are 'straight from the horses' mouths'.


    The reader should also be aware of the new and surprising relationaships AG is having with the world (lee carlson's review gives an idea) and number theory. In addition, one of the two 2002 Fields medalists (V. Veovodsky) got this recognition for his deep and insightful interplay between Algebriac Geometry (motives) and Algebraic topology (homotopy, K-theory).

    Hartshorne's exercises are extremely instructive to the point of absolutely crucial because of the scarcity of examples in the book.
    For those self-studying, a Google search will probably provide one with solutions to some of the exercises in the chapters.

    5-0 out of 5 stars THE book for the Grothendieck approach
    This is THE book to use if you're interested in learning algebraic geometry via the language of schemes.Certainly, this is a difficult book; even more so because many important results are left as exercises.But reading through this book and completing all the exercises will give you most of the background you need to get into the cutting edge of AG.This is exactly how my advisor prepares his students, and how his advisor prepared him, and it seems to work.

    Some helpful suggestions from my experience with this book:
    1) if you want more concrete examples of schemes, take a look at Eisenbud and Harris, The Geometry of Schemes;
    2) if you prefer a more analytic approach (via Riemann surfaces), Griffiths and Harris is worth checking out, though it lacks exercises.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Experiences of a rather below-average graduate student
    (that's me.)

    I agree with the other reviewers' comments concerning the phenomenal depth and breadth of the topics covered in this book.Hartshorne builds the soaring edifice of modern algebraic geometry from the ground up.All the way through, the exposition is concise and absolutely clear.The proofs strike an excellent balance between meticulousness and readability.

    The approach he takes seems to be to try to acquaint the reader with as much formalism as possible as quickly as possible, and he seems reluctant to offer any sneak previews of vital concepts such as divisors, differentials, and flatness until the reader's brain is "ripe".As a result, Hartshorne is able to state and prove results under extremely general hypotheses.This approach also benefits the kind of reader who wishes to use this as a reference book.

    It's important also to note the disadvantages of Hartshorne's approach:Time and again, I found myself utterly baffled by the definitions, because the motivations for them are lacking.

    To give a minor example, take the definition (in chapter 1, part 3) of a morphism between two varietes.First, regular functions from a variety over k to k are defined as those that are locally representable as quotients of polynomials (without bothering to give an example of a case of a regular function for which more than one such representation is needed).Then a morphism f: X -> Y is defined as a Zariski-continuous function with the property that whenever you have an open subset V of Y, and a regular function V -> k, then f^-1(V) -> V -> k is regular.There's nothing wrong with this definition, of course, but I found it very difficult to make sense of, initially.A morphism, after all, is supposed to be something that preserves structure, but it's not immediately obvious what "structure" is being preserved in this case (and the full details of this aren't spelt out until much later, after sheaves have been defined).A better didactic approach, I think, would be either (1) to define morphisms of affine varieties simply as functions given by polynomials, and then show that the above definition is the only natural way of generalising this, or (2) to briefly introduce sheaves at the outset, making it clear that the "structure" we wish to define on a variety consists precisely of the sheaf of regular functions.

    Another negative effect of Hartshorne's approach is that, if you have to traverse a mire of formalism before meeting an idea, it makes the idea seem more complicated than it actually is.

    Certainly there's nothing to stop a dedicated reader just ignoring any temporary befuddlements, secure in the knowledge that eventually everything will make sense, but not all of us have the patience.This book contains an almost ridiculous number of exercises - most of which are supposed to be "formalities", there to flesh out the definitions, but many contain absolutely crucial definitions and lemmas.Attempting to do all the exercises as you go along is very taxing work indeed, and becomes demoralising whenever you get stuck.Perhaps the best strategy is to do only those exercises that are interesting or important for later work.
    Also, as others have noted, this book is very tough going on those who don't already have some familiarity with commutative algebra and (later on) homological algebra.

    All in all, I think this book will be most useful for people who already know quite a lot of algebraic geometry, commutative/homological algebra etc., and are wishing to consolidate and "modernise" their understanding.For beginners, it's a struggle, but not an unproductive one, especially if assisted by other, less demanding books. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0387902449
    Sales Rank: 141053
    Subjects:  1. Geometry - Algebraic    2. Geometry, Algebraic    3. Mathematics    4. Algebraic    5. Algebraische Geometrie    6. Geometry    7. Mathematics / Geometry / Algebraic   


    Galois Theory : Lectures Delivered at the University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame Mathematical Lectures, Number 2) (Notre Dame Mathematical Lectures)
    by Emil Artin, Arthur N. Milgram
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (12 March, 1998)
    list price: $7.95 -- our price: $7.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (9)

    4-0 out of 5 stars the source!
    This is modern Galois Theory, straight from the horse's mouth! Galois Theory is taught today using field extensions rather than by actually solving polynomials, students also learn to view a field extension as a vector space over the smaller field; both of these things were pioneered by Artin. The book also has short, clear proofs of all the main theorems. The only problem is that there are no problems to work on, so I have to say this is only a good reference for Galois Theory.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Succinct exposition of modern Galois theory by a pioneer.
    Emil Artin's short book gets a mention in most texts on
    Galois theory. It is very short - only 60 odd pages. Yet
    it is a very clear, complete and readable account of the
    essential elements of modern Galois theory. It is based
    on lectures he gave over 50 years ago but you might think
    it was written only yesterday and is comprehensible to
    anyone familiar with current abstract algebra terminology.
    And the price makes it a bargain. There are no worked
    examples, exercises or index here.

    5-0 out of 5 stars just enjoy
    during reading this cute booklet, you can surely hear the gentle talk of an old math maven.(from the publishing date, the auther was 44 but that's my impression.) with a cup of coffee, stretch those edgy wrinkles of your brain. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0486623424
    Sales Rank: 256173
    Subjects:  1. Algebra - General    2. Galois theory    3. Group Theory    4. Mathematics    5. Science/Mathematics    6. Mathematics / General   


    Topology (2nd Edition)
    by James Munkres
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (28 December, 1999)
    list price: $106.67 -- our price: $106.67
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (24)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best rigorous introduction to general topology!
    I have owned the 1975's first edition (red cover) of this book which I am currently studying again to pass a Ph.D. qualifying exam on topology. From the many topology texts that I have come across over the years, this one easily stands out as the best rigorous introduction to point set topology for a beginning graduate student. It covers all the standard material for a first course in general topology beginning with a chapter on set theory, and now in the second edition includes a rather extensive treatment of the elemantary algebraic topology. The style of writing is student-friendly, the topics are nicely motivated, (counter-)examples are given where they are needed, many diagrams provided, the chapter exercisesrelevant with the correct degree of difficulty, and there are virtually no typos.

    The 2nd edition fine tunes the exposition throughout, including a better paragraph formatting of the material and also greatly expands on the treatment of algebraic topology, making up for 14 total chapters (as opposed to 8 in the first edition). A notable minor issue in the first edition was the consistent usage of the pronoun "he" in the discussions for addressing all the possible readers of the book. (This fortunately has been modified in the 2000's edition.) On another note, I wish there were some hints & answers provided at the back of the book to some of the harder problems, so as to make this text more helpful for those of us who use it for self-study.

    One of the two spotlight reviewers has correctly mentioned that Munkres does not cover differential topology here. I speculate this is perhaps because Munkres has already a separate monograph on differential topology. It is also necessary to get a handle on some fair amount of algebraic topology first, for a full-fledged coverage of the differential treatment. Regardless, one great reference for a rigorous and worthwhile excursion into differnetial topology (covering also Morse Theory) is the excellent monograph by Morris W. Hirsch, which is available on the Springer-Verlag GTM series.

    At the end, I shall mention that one other very decent book on general topology which has unfortunately been out of print for quite some time is a treatise by "James Dugundji" (Prentice Hall, 1965). The latter would nicely complement Munkres (for example, Dugundji discusses ultrafilters and some more of the analytic directions of the subject.) It's a real pity that the Dover publications for example, has not yet published Dugundji in the form of one of their paperbacks.

    5-0 out of 5 stars great!
    Not much to add here... there are enough easy problems that I can get the hang of something, but also some really tough ones at the end of each problem section. The proofs and examples in the text are really good guides to doing the problems also. In some sections there are counterexamples for, say, the converse of a theorem which are always really pathological. At the beginning of each section there is some discussion on what to expect, why the stuff is important, what to do with it, etc. Even though I had a really good prof for the topology course I did this book was very helpful out of the classroom.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Topology Book
    My introduction to Munkres was in an independent study of point set topology in my final semester of undergraduate work. A professor assigned me problems from the book, but my learning was largely self motivated.I found that it was an excellent book for independent study.The text was clear and readable and the exercises helped to cement the concepts that are introduced in the reading.

    Later at graduate school, Munkres was also used in a topology class at the beginning graduate level.Highlights were taken from the first section (point set topology), and a large focus of the class was on the algebraic topology in the second section of the book.Sometimes I had difficulty following exactly what the professor was doing at the blackboard, but I could always understand what was going on when I consulted Munkres.

    I would stress that this is only to be used as an introduction to algebraic topology, as there is nearly no development of homology groups and other algebraic concepts.However, it gives a very good presentation for the fundamental group.As a whole it would be a very good addition to your mathematical library. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0131816292
    Sales Rank: 39720
    Subjects:  1. Algebra - General    2. Mathematics    3. Science/Mathematics    4. Topology    5. Topology - General    6. Mathematics / Algebra / General   


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