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Marly Z (London)

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White Collar: Season 4 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
White Collar: Season 4 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Matthew Bomer

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Tv, 15 July 2014
I discovered White Collar several months ago on Netflix and finished the first three seasons in quick succession. I was eagerly awaiting the release of season 4 and 5 on either Netflix or iTunes, and last month the latter delivered.

As I watched both seasons back to back this review is for season 4 and 5 together. Both were fantastic seasons (as the previous three also were), with Matt Bomer and Tim Dekay delivering as always playing the parts of Neal Caffrey (convicted con-man turned CI) and Peter Burke (FBI agent responsible for catching Neal and now his handler) respectively. Willie Garson also deserves a mention as the ever-entertaining Mozzie (Neal's friend also with a keen interest in illegal activities), as does Bridget Regan as Neal's new love interest in season 5.

The reason both seasons received 4 stars from me instead of 5 is because, despite being enjoyable, slick and stylish TV, the show seems happily settled in the 'light entertainment' category, stopping it from ever becoming dark or serious enough to match the high quality and impact of certain other shows.

Season 5 ends on a cliffhanger, and season 6 has been confirmed as the final season. I look forward to watching it when it's released in the UK and hope for a satisfying conclusion to this show that's brought me hours of entertainment.

The Wolf of Wall Street [DVD] [2013]
The Wolf of Wall Street [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: £4.90

16 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crazily energised, entertainingly immoral, full of fantastically bad taste!, 18 Jan. 2014

If you dislike films glamorising hedonism and debauchery, look away. Based on a memoir by former stockbroker Jordan Belfort - what makes this already ridiculous story even more so is the fact it actually happened.

Jordan Belfort (played fantastically by Leonardo DiCaprio) went from a nobody to a multi-millionaire by selling fraudulently inflated stocks in his self made brokerage firm Stratton-Oakmont. He used the money to fund his excessive lifestyle filled with prostitutes, drugs, fast cars, huge mansions, and general excess. This film is the story of how he made his fortunes through illegal activities, and how the law came to catch up with him.

Let me just say that this film is absolutely, undeniably fantastic. It is crazily energised, entertainingly immoral, full of fantastically bad taste and definitely one of the best films I have seen in a long, long time.

There has been a lot of talk about the morality of this film. Despite the protagonist's hedonistic lifestyle, overflowing with illegal activities, prostitutes and drugs (all the while having a wife and 2 kids at home), Belfort is definitely portrayed in an undeniable sympathetic and positive light. We see not only Belfort's ambition, intelligence & undeniable talents, but also his humanity, the fact he uses his power and unlimited money not just to fund his debaucherous life, but to help other people, to give them opportunities to change their life that no one else has. There is no moral comeuppance in this film, no real sense that Belfort ever really learns any lessons, or wishes to change his ways. In a way it's refreshingly morality free, and whether it is irresponsible to paint a criminal in this way is questionable. However, the Telegraph review on this film sums it up perfectly - 'Scorsese is treating the audience like adults, trusting that our moral sense will compensate for his character's lack of one'.

Touching on the acting a bit more, for me, this may be Leonardo DiCaprio's greatest role (which, considering his past CV, is saying a lot). The range of emotions demonstrated here, from a young man's first experience on Wall Street, to a motivational speaker in front of hundreds of employees, from acting high and almost-paralytic from the effects of too many Quaaludes, to screaming and shouting at his trophy wife Naomi (played by the positively stunning Margot Robbie), having a tantrum uncanny in resemblance to that of a toddler's, DiCaprio proves time and time again just why he's one of the biggest names in acting. Someone please give this guy an Oscar ASAP. Also, it was a nice touch to have the real Jordan Belfort make a cameo at the end of the film (he's the guy who introduces DiCaprio's Belfort for his motivational speaking seminar).

At 180 minutes this film is long, and towards the end when the energy, enthusiasm, fun and games is replaced with indictments, lawyers, court and prison you do start to feel the length and your attention wandering, but that is my only real criticism. Apart from that, this film near on perfect.

So, incase my review hasn't made it clear already, this is a fantastic film that is a must watch. Looking forward to reading the biography it was based upon now.

Man of Steel [DVD]
Man of Steel [DVD]
Dvd ~ Henry Cavill
Price: £5.00

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Awful, 19 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Man of Steel [DVD] (DVD)
This is the first Superman film I have ever watched and it was awful. Not even the beautiful Henry Cavill could make up for how boring this is. After how fantastic the recent Batman films, and Marvel Superhero films have been this just lacks the energy, passion, excitement, basically every positive adjective that could be used to describe those films is missing here. I would have turned off after the first 20 minutes if I wasn't watching this with company. It doesn't improve.

Arrow - Season 1 [DVD] [2013]
Arrow - Season 1 [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Stephen Amell
Price: £11.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 19 Dec. 2013
Incredible TV show, think Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy in episode format instead! Takes a few episodes to really get going, but once it does it's brilliant! Great lead and supporting actors, fantastic action, and dangerously addictive!

Filth [DVD] [2013]
Filth [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ James McAvoy
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £5.86

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Repulsive but Fantastic, 20 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Filth [DVD] [2013] (DVD)
You spend the first half hour of this film being repulsed by the utterly repugnant, vulgar main character, and the rest of the film being disturbed by the extent to which his mental illness is ruining his life. A very painful watch but a great film non the less. Looking forward to reading the book now.

50/50 (2011) [DVD]
50/50 (2011) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Offered by streetsahead
Price: £4.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Film, 11 Oct. 2013
This review is from: 50/50 (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
Fantastic film. Deserves a lot more attention than it received. Not a comedy (as advertised) but still managed a lot of laughs despite the subject matter.

Rush [DVD]
Rush [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Hemsworth
Price: £5.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 6 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Rush [DVD] (DVD)
Brilliant film about the legendary rivalry between F1 legends Niki Lauda and James Hunt. You do not need to know anything about F1 or these two racers before watching this film - in fact it will probably add to your enjoyment as you won't already know how things unfold. Highly recommended.

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (Penguin Modern Classics)
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price: £5.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading, 5 Oct. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First time I've read this book - I had put it off for many years because the words 'classic' and 'political satire' implied to me a heavy, difficult, joyless read. How very wrong I was.

Based on the events of the era of Russian communism & Stalin (or so I'm told, as I have no actual knowledge of that period of history), Animal Farm tells the story of the animals of a farm who, fed up of their cruel human owner, long working hours and poor quality of life, decide to run out the humans, rename their farm 'Animal Farm', and be the first farm in the world to operate under animal control only - no interference from humans. The hope here was that all animals would be treated equally, everyone would work their share, and the profit of hard work would go solely back into feeding the animals and improving their own quality of life. 7 commandments are set out for the animals to follow, summed up with the motto 'four legs good, two legs bad'. However, as time progresses the equality that all animals were to be treated with becomes compromised, and the intelligent pigs who quickly became the leaders of the farm become corrupted and turn their backs on the very commandments the Animal Farm was founded on.

What surprised me most was how easy this book was to read. For something so intelligent, thought-provoking and educational, the language is basic, and the story captures the imagination almost immediately - you'll find yourself unable to put the book down until the end (which thankfully doesn't take very long at all as this is a short book).

I have read comments that Animal Farm should be made compulsory reading in schools, in favour of other literature such as Shakespeare, and I happen to agree. There are important lessons to be learnt from this book, lessons told simply, in unpretentious language, that can inform and change your outlook on life.

The Iron Lady [DVD]
The Iron Lady [DVD]
Dvd ~ Meryl Streep
Price: £3.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Much Focus On Current Thatcher, 16 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The Iron Lady [DVD] (DVD)
All I can say is I'm glad I didn't go to the cinema to see this.

Meryl Streep puts on a brilliant performance as Thatcher. For a political figure that has been parodied and impersonated so many times it would be easy for anyone acting the part to over-act and become a caricature. Streep however does an incredible job presenting Thatcher in her current day state (as a medical student I have met many elderly ladies who have become confused and start to loose touch with reality, but are still as proud and strong willed as their younger days) and Streep portrays this to perfection. She also plays Thatcher's time in Parliament perfectly - you forget you are watching an actor and can almost believe you are watching Thatcher herself. I have always said that the mark of a great actor is when you forget they are acting a part and truly believe them and that's what Streep has achieved here.

The reason behind the low rating is the bizarre focus the film has on Thatcher's current state instead of her Parliamentary days. It takes about 10 minutes to fully understand Thatcher's physical, mental and emotional state currently. What I really wanted to know (as someone only born in 1989) is what Thatcher did during her time in Parliament and why she is still one of the best known politicians this country has ever seen. The film really missed an opportunity here to educate many of the younger generations (and those who did not live in the UK during Thatcher's time) as to what exactly she achieved.

I do hope someone comes along in a few years and makes another film about Thatcher that does her justice.

Les Misérables [DVD] [2012]
Les Misérables [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Hugh Jackman
Price: £5.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does the West End Show Justice (And Then Some!), 14 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Les Misérables [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
A couple of times each year a film comes along you just cannot get out of your head and Les Miserables definitely fits that bill.

I first saw the theatre production of Les Miserables about a decade ago and so began an obsession I have carried over the last 10 years. When I heard they were finally making my favourite musical EVER into a film my excitement was matched only by my certainty that a movie version could never, ever be as powerful as, or capture the magic of the theatre show.

How wrong I was!

A brief introduction to Les Miserables for those who are unfamiliar with the story - set in 19th Century France the film follows Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a man who was imprisoned for 19 years for attempting to steal a loaf of bread. Valjean completes his time and is set free but due to his prison documents is treated poorly and unable to find work wherever he goes. A priest eventually offers him hospitality and kindness, and with his new found faith in God Valjean rips up his papers and sets about creating a new life for himself `Jean Valjean is nothing now - another story must begin!'.

The tale then spans across 20 years and shows the various lives and sufferings of the people important to Valjean's story, including Javert (Russell Crowe), a man of the law determined to catch `ex-prisoner 24601', Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a woman who turns to increasingly desperate means to make money to send her child Cosette , who is looked after by the delightfully immoral & resourceful Thenardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen + Helena Bonham Carter), Marius (Eddie Redmayne), the schoolboy who falls desperately in love with Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and is torn between her and his best friends (the Barricade boys) who are determined to start an uprising and cause a rebellion `Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men, it is a music of a people who will not be slaves again!'.

As you can see the story spans many years, touches upon many lives and aspects of society. It's an emotional rollercoaster of a film and there's no accident it's called Les Miserables - most of the tale is tragic and those who are unfamiliar with the story or songs are advised to have a pack of tissues handy.

Just to touch upon the acting as this is a topic that's been hotly discussed. Russell Crowe has faced criticism as his voice doesn't have the same theatrical power many are used to hearing for Javert's songs. However I think it's important to remember that this is a film, not a theatre performance or a soundtrack. Russell Crowe's singing was adequate for the part (i.e. he can sing in tune and his voice is pleasant to listen to), and his interpretation of Javert's character is one of my favourite parts of the entire film. He brought a humanity to Javert I have never seen before, and his softer approach to the songs made them far more pensive and his character much more relatable. There's a certain scene at the end of the film that involves Javert, Gavroche and a pin which was Russell Crowe's own idea. Being one of the most touching parts of the entire film, I think Crowe deserves much more credit for what he has brought to the movie.

Hugh Jackman also deserves mention for carrying this film so well. He played Jean Valjean's various stages of life convincingly and though I am not a fan of his singing (too much forced vibrato) his performance is flawless. Aaron Tveit as Enjolras & Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche also deserve a mention for playing their parts exceedingly well. However, I felt the remainder of the major cast were far too histrionic in their acting. The desperation with which they tried to convey emotion (whether it be funny or sad) into their acting and songs became distracting in itself and took away from the lyrics which by themselves can say it all.

Les Miserables the theatre show is a marvellous story, and this film does the musical justice (and then some). I'd recommend it to Les Mis fans and people new to the story alike. Just be warned - you won't be able to get the songs out of your head for days afterwards!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 16, 2013 2:38 PM GMT

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