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Sunday, Nov 26, 2006

Tori Amos: A Piano: The Collection [Rhino - $74.98 - 5 CDs]


For the Tori freak in everyone’s family, Rhino has just released A Piano: The Collection, a five-CD, 86-track box set that is packaged as a facsimile piano keyboard and includes a 60-page booklet of press photos and liner notes. A Piano collects a handful of tracks from all but one of her albums along with a healthy number of B-sides and several previously unreleased songs. While Boys for Pele is disappointingly underrepresented and Strange Little Girls strangely absent, the box set happily resurrects mid-‘90s B-sides favorites like “Upside Down” and “Cooling” as well as “Mary”, “Here. In My Head”, and “Frog on My Toe”. The book reminds its readers of Amos’ renegade status in the music industry and her continuing obsession with gardens. [Amazon]



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Sunday, Nov 26, 2006

Gears of War (XBox 360) [Microsoft - $59.99]


To endorse one of the next-gen systems this holiday season would be damn near pointless—so much has been written about the Wii, Playstation 3, and even the XBox 360 that it’s nigh impossible at this point to write anything that hasn’t yet been said.  Tech-junkies want the PS3, casual and family gamers want a Wii, and then, there’s a quiet faction of gamers sitting back and smiling while people fight over the two flavors of the month, content in their belief that the XBox 360 will outshine the other two in good time.  The first sign of such dominance?  None other than Gears of War, the end result of what can happen when a system is given a year-long head start over its primary competitors.  Gears of War simply feels like everything a next-generation title should, from the intricacy of the graphics to the brilliantly-designed cooperative play mode to the elements of horror that permeate every single byte, it feels like more than just a game.  Quite simply, it’s exactly what “next-gen” should be. [Amazon]



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Sunday, Nov 26, 2006

Shaun Cassidy (that’s right, Mr. “Da Do Run Run” himself) can’t seem to get a break in network television. He has masterminded several sensational series (American Gothic, The Agency, the recent Invasion) only to see them unceremoniously cancelled before their time. Nowhere was this truer than in his sword and sandal epic for Fox, Roar. Starring an unknown Heath Ledger and centering on a young Irishman’s battles against the oncoming Roman onslaught, Fox hoped that the series could cash in on some of Hercules/Xena’s crazed cult audience. Sadly, the show was not a campy kitsch companion piece to said series, and after 13 scant installments, it was cancelled. Thanks to DVD however, fans and newcomers have a chance to revisit this special series—and ponder what if. [Amazon]


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Tuesday, Nov 21, 2006

Small Gauge Trauma [Synapse Films - $24.95]


For a little over 10 years, Canada’s Fantasia International Film Festival has been on the cutting edge of up and coming genre greatness. They discovered such macabre masters as Takashi Miike and introduced J-Horror and other world shock cinema to a ‘desperate for something different’ Western mentality. Offering the unusual, the brazen, and the unique, the festival specializes in both full-length features and an amazing array of short films. At last year’s (2005) celebration alone, over 100 of these truncated talent showcases were presented. In conjunction with Synapse Films, the festival is offering up Small Gauge Trauma, a DVD collection of its most novel and creative contributions. Believe it or not, it’s one of the best film packages of the year.


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Tuesday, Nov 14, 2006

Cemetery Man [Anchor Bay - $19.98]


Cemetery Man is a most unusual horror film. Actually it’s not really a horror film at all. Certainly, it has nods to the normal macabre ideals—zombies and murders and the foul stench of death. Still, this is not really a chiller. Instead, it’s a thriller, in the most soul-uplifting definition of the word. It is a movie so bafflingly beautiful that it argues for its acceptance as art. Anyone coming to this movie hoping to continue their fascination with flesh-eating corpses will have to get their Romero/Fulci fill elsewhere. In the hands of the amazing Michele Soavi, this is moviemaking as poetry, cinema as stunning visual feast. It remains one of the most important fantasy films ever made, one that shows the true power inherent in thoughts and imagery.


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