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Sevvysgirl (Kent, UK)

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Night At The Museum 2: Battle Of The Smithsonian [DVD] [2009]
Night At The Museum 2: Battle Of The Smithsonian [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Ben Stiller
Offered by Jasuli
Price: 3.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Funnier than the first, 29 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's not often that a sequel turns out to be funnier than the first, but I reckon this is the case in this instance! Probably the greatest laughs are provided by the very camp Pharaoh (played hilariously by Hank Azaria), along with a vain and cowardly General Custer and a Napolean with a height paronia, among other such amusing characters from history!

My family and I were definitely in need of a 'pick-me- up' when we went to see this film at our local cinema back in May 2009 when it was first released - and that is exactly what we got! We've since bought it on DVD and it never fails to amuse on subsequent viewings. It has some real laugh out loud moments and is an hour and a half of manic mayhem during which you can actually sit back and 'take your brain out' (a rarity to find in a film these days in my opinion!)

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa [DVD]
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ben Stiller
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 4.03

3.0 out of 5 stars Sequel only deserving a second place, 26 Sep 2012
I went to see this film at the time of its release - back in 2009 - with my youngest son (aged 11 at the time) and my husband (always a child at heart!) I have to say that we were all more than a little disappointed. Towards the end, I even found myself almost constantly looking at my watch, not a good sign - desperately waiting for it to finish - such was the level of boredom. I think younger children would probably enjoy it though as it is very 'lively', but with little plot or jokes of enough substance to keep older folk entertained.

Sequels of this kind of film genre are rarely as good as the first it seems, and no doubt only come about as a result of the popularity of the first film. Now this is on DVD at least viewers won't have to waste their money on a cinema trip, as we did. And there'll also be the advantage of being able to pick and choose your moments of viewing as the humour is much thinner on the ground than in the first, and what there is tends to be very much more 'in your face' in that oh-so-American way. Whilst not absolutely dreadful, this film, equally, is not one likely to make it to many people's favourite films list - and will no doubt slip down such a list for the tiny tots as they grow up and it recedes into the forgotten past.

Australia [DVD] [2008]
Australia [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Nicole Kidman
Offered by gowingsstoreltd
Price: 2.75

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't let this one go 'down under'!, 26 Sep 2012
This review is from: Australia [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I'm not normally a big fan of NIcole Kidman, but I found myself almost a convertee with this film. (Although I have to stress 'almost' as her attempt at an upper class English accent and general acting skills are both still rather on the stilted and wooden side.) I knew next to nothing about Hugh Jackman but he was excellent (outshining Kidman but, in fairness, no doubt better suited to the gritty role he played.) There were also good performances from the supporting cast.

Probably not one for kids younger than around 14 (despite being a 12A) but, for no other reason than they are likely to get bored. Although by no means the 'perfect' film - and it's bound to have it's critics - I think, in years to come, it may well be labelled into that rare category of 'classic' or 'epic'. Catch it on DVD now - even though it's almost definitely one for the big screen. Whatever, don't let this one get away and go 'down under' as it really is a must-see!

Young Victoria [DVD] [2009]
Young Victoria [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Emily Blunt
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 4.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Regal Performances, 26 Sep 2012
This review is from: Young Victoria [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
I went to see the 'advance' screening of this film on 5th March 2009, with my husband, and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you are a fan of period/costume dramas (and the dresses were absolutely beautiful), you won't be disappointed. If you're not then I guess you won't be thinking of getting the DVD/reading this any way!

I thought the lead performances of both Emily Blunt, as Victoria, and Rupert Friend, as Albert, were stunning and the portrayal of their relationship was, at times, really touching. Possibly the film ending was a little abrupt but, on reflection, necessary in order to keep the film within it's title - i.e. The 'Young' Victoria: That is what you got - an account of her early life following her accession to the throne; a daunting, demanding enough task for anyone.

However, the young Victoria was portrayed as showing her intellect, determination and strong will and, without doubt, her deep love for Albert. Truly regal performances from all involved!

(Review written in 2009)

Snow Cake [DVD] (2006)
Snow Cake [DVD] (2006)
Dvd ~ Alan Rickman
Offered by replay-international
Price: 14.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One you won't easily forget, 26 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Snow Cake [DVD] (2006) (DVD)
Not only is this one of the best ever (and indeed few) portrayals of autism I've ever seen, it is also, in my humble opinion, one of the best performances of Alan Rickman. I love this film so much in fact that, since having it as an addition to my 'Alan Rickman Collection' (alright, obsessive, I know), it has been my most watched film of his.

Surprisingly (for an indie film) it did make it to our mainstream TV screens a couple of years ago (albeit rather late at night I seem to remember) but, otherwise, this tends to be a rather little known film to those outside of the 'Rickmaniac' (Alan Rickman fans) circle. And that's a great shame as it really deserves to be seen. It is, first and foremost, a rather quirky, yet sensitive and wry-humoured little film; less of a melodrama and more of an observation I feel. All credit should be given to director Marc Evans for his sensitivity in the handling of it all.

Sigourney Weaver gives an outstanding performance as the autistic Linda, struggling to make sense of the world (or perhaps better accepting it than most) after her only daughter Vivienne's death in a car crash where Alan Rickman's 'Alex Hughes' was the innocent driver. A somewhat shy, lonely and introverted character, Alex is struggling with demons of his own having only recently been freed from prison, for murder no less. (Can never quite understand if he was imprisioned in Canada or the UK; not that it really matters much I guess.) Like the Canadian snow that surrounds him, he begins to thaw - over the course of the few days he finds himself in the company of Linda and her small-town community. The unexpected experience of all this entails (an experience not through his own choice, I hasten to add, but rather through circumstances) seems to ease the path along his journey back to the 'real world' and clearly helps him to move on. His brief 'fling' with neighbour Maggie (Carrie-Anne Moss), though perhaps a little far-fetched, can be forgiven, and even understood. After all the poor man (starved of decent human company for so long) goes round to Maggie's for slightly more than just his evening meal, seeing as he's under the impression that Maggie is "a lady of the night" (Maggie's words.) I actually found the scene where he discovers she's not infact that kind of lady, and that therefore she doesn't want paying, to be quite touching, even with its humourous overtone. Who else but Alan Rickman could make such a scenario - and indeed subject - seem tender and sweet and pretty much melt your heart?

I have read other reviews of this film where it is suggests it is a little 'contrived' (aren't all films/stories for that matter?) However, it is an entertaining piece (perhaps looking as if it will be somewhat gloomy/tiresome from the outset) that holds your attention without the need for special effects, violence, or anything else much other than good acting and an insight into someone else's world.

Somehow there is something 'cosy' about this film (or perhaps that's just the effect of the constant snow outside) and, whilst not being side-splittingly funny, it presents something that rings true with its subtle, gentle humour, most of which is brought about by Linda's unconventional views and lack of inhibition. No doubt many will watch (including myself) and chuckle as we wish we could get away with some of things she says: It is certainly not a film that makes you feel sorry for the fact that its central character has autism. So it's nice to have such a positive, refreshing view.

However, I do have to say here, and emphasise, that it really is a 'positive' take on the subject of autism, and I am sure there are many who feel it doesn't portray the downside for those who suffer from what is all too often a really debilitating condition which effects not only them but those around them. Then again, and equally, it is nice to show that it doesn't have to be all 'doom and gloom' and that for some autistics - obviously Linda is one of the lucky ones in that she is able to live independantly - making the best of life is still an option. I think the humour of this film keeps that thought in the foreground.

It is also worth remembering that this film is not just about autism, or indeed the character of Linda, but also Alex's 'journey' and his coming back to his old life ("I'm beginning to like this: Being with you [to Maggie], being with Linda, being with myself ...")

If you can catch this gem of a movie, do so. It's a completely different take on a subject often over looked and still grouped together with that really forbidden one of 'mental health'. It may at first seem like an insignificant and uninspired little film - but, if you're brave enough to give it a go, I think it will be a very pleasant surprise, and one you won't easily forget.

(Review first written: October 2009)

Awfully Big Adventure [DVD] [1995] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Awfully Big Adventure [DVD] [1995] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Hugh Grant

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improves with one than one viewing, 26 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It could perhaps be suggested that the only reason this film was known as a cinematic flop was due to it being marketed as a `comedy'. For whilst director Mike Newell's follow-up to Four Weddings and a Funeral offers many subtle stabs at typically British `black humour', it is too much of a somber affair to raise more than the occasional amused chuckle. However, as an adaptation (by Charles Wood) of Beryl Bainbridge's novel about theatrical backstage life in post-war Liverpool; with all of the period's dusty oppressiveness and moral hypocrisies gloriously exposed, it is an engaging portrayal and works well.

Without doubt though, it is a film that needs to be viewed more than once. (Although many would, I suspect, struggle to remain watching for even a first, given its often dour feel and slightly confusing initial story-line; often further encumbered by some heavy Liverpudlian accents.)

Yet Newell's sharp dramatic focus draws the best from an exceptional cast, with worthy and often inspired performances. Not least among these is that of Hugh Grant, effectively cast against type, as Meredith Potter, the company's cruel, manipulative and promiscuous gay director. Newcomer Georgina Cates gives a luminous performance as the star-struck (and desperately naive) teenage trainee stagehand Stella Bradshaw. Her misguided infatuation of Potter unwittingly vies her desire to gain sexual experience against the always enigmatic and scene-stealing Alan Rickman, as suave, haunted leading man, P.L O'Hara. First entering the foray on the back of an impressive Norton motorbike, Rickman seems to provide a much needed hero, and manages to add the weighty ingredients of intrigue and mystery to the script's whole quirky mix. He does a good job of portraying the unspoken depths of sadness of a tormented and lonely man, hankering for the past and lamenting the loss of a former love and a child he never knew. But it is because O'Hara is called back to reprise his acclaimed role as Captain Hook (which Mr. Rickman plays with much relish and gusto) in the company's production of `Peter Pan' that a complex web of past and present entanglements begins to unravel. These events finally explode in a deeply shocking twist (perhaps slightly less of a surprise than intended for those paying really close attention), which results in a tragic outcome to this exceptionally sad little tale.

Although perhaps slightly unbelievable - even for the era in which it is set - Stella's total innocence, or possibly ignorance, is perhaps only excessive due to her somewhat sheltered upbringing from her aunt and uncle. Understandably anxious to ensure she doesn't turn out to be a carbon copy of her wayward single mother (who Stella herself has never known or had contact with), they are clearly overly protective. However, this excessive naivety - both endearingly charming and frustratingly annoying by turns - means Stella ends up providing the film's main source of much needed amusement.

Other noteworthy performances are: Carol Drinkwater as a hysterically pathetic and attention-seeking alcoholic, Nicola Pagett as the cynical ex-lover of O'Hara's - visibly still carrying a torch for him - British-stalwart Prunella Scales, subtly humanizing a caring theatre manageress, and Peter Firth as the put-upon stage manager, who is clearly devoted to the undeserving and un-reciprocating Potter. Each, in their own way, does a superb job of embodying either an aspiring or a washed-up actor. The world-weary, flawed characters all struggle with their own, individual, harsh realities of the seedier side of life in a grey, post-war Britain.

Sadly, so many aspects of this film will forever resign it to the realms of `specialist', rather than `general appeal', viewing. This is rather shameful really as, despite its tendency towards melodrama and its disturbingly dark centre, this fragile gem of a movie sparkles with intelligence and glows with feeling -- for those brave enough to see past its misleading title. (`An Awfully Big Adventure' refers to a line in J.M Barrie's Peter Pan - "[To die would be] an Awfully Big Adventure ...")

Although death is not at the forefront of this film, I suspect that the original intention for the omission from the title was to detract from the story's melancholy heart, rather than deliberately mislead. After all, both the original children's story - from which the title quote comes - and the movie itself are primarily about the loss of innocence. And, as we all know, once that is lost, it can never be retrieved.

Anna Karenina [DVD]
Anna Karenina [DVD]
Dvd ~ Keira Knightley
Price: 3.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less would be more, 26 Sep 2012
This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
I think, right from the outset, this film perhaps tries a little too hard, and consequently comes across as being somewhat presumptuous and overly clever: Maybe the phrase 'just because you can, doesn't mean you have to' applies, and it may have been better to have simply gone with 'less is more'. Therefore, setting the action on a stage (rather confusing at first) seems like an odd choice. I'm sure that no one can deny the film looks stunningly beautiful - not least the elfine, delicate and enigmatic (if only her acting skills would match) Ms. Knightley, who always seems to be playing herself (i.e. 'Keira') in whatever role she undertakes.

Clearly at the heart of it all, the director is trying to put across a message about 19th century morality and the fact that what was "good for the gander" clearly wasn't "for the goose"; women were definitely not supposed to live, or attempt to live, like a man in a man's world.

There were some stand out performances - notably Jude Law playing the part of the upright, staid, and rather straight-laced husband, Alexei Karenin and Domhnall Gleeson in the role of landowner Levin - who ends up marrying beautiful young aristocrat Kitty (Alicia Vikander) who's a lot deeper than her original shallow behaviour might convey, and whose relationship subtly and cleverly shows the contrast with the rather spoilt Anna. Count Vronsky doesn't really convince here as 'temptation material' - though each to their own as they say - and the role would, perhaps, have been better in the hands of a more charasmatic, established and dashing actor (no offence to Aaron Taylor-Johnson who played the part, and who, in fairness, was rather restricted by the 'stage-confined' script.) All in all, I feel that this was perhaps a little too ambitious an attempt at an old classic - it may have been better to have dropped some of the more artistic attempts at story telling in favour of a more straightforward version with more emphatic, believable acting from the cast. Looks simply devine for the most part though!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 6, 2012 1:08 PM GMT

Jesus Christ Superstar - Live Arena Tour 2012 [Region 2/4/5] [DVD] [2012]
Jesus Christ Superstar - Live Arena Tour 2012 [Region 2/4/5] [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Tim Minchin
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 5.18

9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More of a 'great star' than 'superstar'!, 22 Sep 2012
I too am fresh from the O2, having seen today's matinee performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. I first saw this musical as an impressionable 15-year-old some 35 years ago (showing my age here) when I went to the West End (a big outing in those days) with my family: It made an impact on me such that I have never forgotten, and no doubt accounts for the start of my love for Messrs. Lloyd-Webber/Rice productions. All these years later I can still remember it (though alas the cast and even location of that first time have faded amongst the multitude of life events along the way.) But it was inevitable that I would still do a comparison in my mind. Sadly, this new production didn't come up to my seemingly high expectations.

I'm afraid I wasn't in total agreeance for Ben Forster to be given the role (my money was actually on Roger) but, nevertheless, he did a passable - though not outstanding - job as Jesus and sang the moving 'Gethsemane' beautifully (that, and the final ending, brought the tears on for me.) For me personally, Melanie Chisholm gave the best, and perhaps most 'professional', performance with her surprisingly gentle Mary Magdalene, especially with the gorgeous 'I don't know how to love him'. However, the whole thing was way too loud - even allowing for the fact that this is a 'rock' musical - and I felt at times the music definitely drowned out the voices; so much so in fact that, quite often, you couldn't actually hear what was being sung (not helped by the mics not working properly a few times aswell!) I sort of liked the way the whole thing had all been brought up-to-date and made relevant to today - it was a brave attempt - although I think this musical's lyrics and general feel are better suited to be set in the relevant time and I would have preferred it that way. Still, perhaps it gave many food for thought as they came away from the theatre.

I rather hope the DVD will show a better edited version of the whole event (on this occasion the whole production had to be postponed at one point due to a 'technical error' - such are the penalties of live theatre I guess!) I still consider myself one of the lucky ones to have actually seen this new production though, and would strongly advise those not able to have done so (and even those who did!) to buy the DVD. It's certainly going to be on my Christmas list - though not necessarily at the top of it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 5, 2012 10:25 AM BST

KTwo Family Calendar Planner Organiser 2013 - Tree Design
KTwo Family Calendar Planner Organiser 2013 - Tree Design

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable Calendar!, 28 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I buy one of these calendars EVERY year (and have been doing so for about 6 or 7 years now.) They are an absolute must I reckon for the busy family! There is plenty of space to write on - giving the ability to clearly mark forthcoming appointments/events - and spaces to note birthdays, anniversaries etc. However, the best thing about these calendars - and what makes them pretty much unique I guess - is the large pockets where appointment cards, tickets, passes and cards for all those occasions can be kept; meaning no excuses for anyone to forget anything! I highly recommend the calendar and the company, KTwo, who make it. :-)

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen [DVD]
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ewan McGregor
Price: 5.00

92 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fishing for faith, 27 May 2012
The beautifully written script elevates this fishy tale above the norm, and turns a unique storyline into something highly watchable. It somehow manages to combine inspiration, sentimentally and comedy - in equal measure - into the mix of this quirky little film, without any of those aspects being overdone. Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt give outstanding performances, whilst Kristen Scott-Thomas almost steals the show as the sharper-than-nails acerbic Prime Minister's Press Secretary, snapping and barking at everyone, with great comedic effect, in order to get the story she wants.

Whilst this was never going to be a box-office record breaker (and probably only really appeals to a small percentage of the population who like 'quirky', 'British' and 'gentle'), it is definitely one to be recommended. As unlikely as the subject appears to be, it somehow works. Probably because it doesn't try to be too clever, but, instead, shows up human frailties and injects that little bit of something we all need ... faith that it will all come right in the end.

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