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Random Tandem "Zeb" (UK)

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Death Defying Acts [DVD] (2007)
Death Defying Acts [DVD] (2007)
Dvd ~ Catherine Zeta-Jones
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended!!, 16 Feb. 2015
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Beautifully crafted with mesmerising detail. This film tells a fictional tale surrounding the great escapologist Harry Houdini. As part of his world tour, Houdini actually did visit Scotland - so that is the jumping off point for the imaginary story. The character of Houdini is authentically portrayed, the story is plausible, the authors were honest that it was made up - but seemingly they still got pelted by some critics and commentators who had apparently wanted a straightforward biopic. Personally, I thought it was good that they chose to write some fiction. Ultimately, as I see it, the story could have happened, it's just that it didn't! Essentially the plot revolves around the great trickster and illusionist meeting somebody with similar talents to his own in the art of deception, and where that might lead. His nemesis is a clairvoyant played by Catherine Zeta-Jones in one of her finest performances, very wittily written and with lots of nuanced subtlety alongside the big, bold character we are accustomed to seeing from her. Tagging along with Catherine, sometimes saving her in the nick of time and other times getting under her feet, is a wonderfully cheeky performance from a young Saoirse Ronan, now of course fast becoming one of the greatest talents of modern film-making. Guy Pearce gives a remarkably adept turn as Houdini, assisted along the way by the always magnificent Timothy Spall as his agent/manager/PA. The film is set in 1926 and the production design is sumptuous - despite being set in Edinburgh it was apparently filmed in London, but it always looks incredible and the detail is wonderful. Gillian Armstrong the director has created a hugely enjoyable film.


Patagonia [DVD]
Patagonia [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matthew Rhys
Offered by The World Cinema Store
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Looks amazing, 16 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Patagonia [DVD] (DVD)
Patagonia looks amazing and the whole concept is very, very clever. The film is a road movie that features two narratives, which are interwoven but separate. One narrative features a young woman from Wales who travels (accompanied) to Patagonia, the other features an elderly woman who travels (also accompanied) from Patagonia to Wales. There is a huge amount of stunning scenery and incredible camera-work. The film's DP was Robbie Ryan, who has deservedly gained a reputation for the consistent high quality of his output. The acting performances are good, although some of the characters are not particularly likeable - which I found very frustrating when they were so self-absorbed while in such great places! The dialogue is mostly in Welsh and Spanish, with English subtitles. Amongst the supporting cast is the pop singer Duffy, making her movie debut and showing strong potential for the future if she decides she wishes to follow that route. Also included on the DVD is a useful "making of" documentary, giving further insights into the process of director Marc Evans when he was developing this project.


Winter's Bone [DVD]
Winter's Bone [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Lawrence
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully crafted movie-making, 16 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Winter's Bone [DVD] (DVD)
A fascinating tale set in a remote part of the American South, beautifully filmed and smartly edited. Winter's Bone features a young Jennifer Lawrence a couple of years before her shooting to worldwide success within the Hunger Games and X-Men franchises. She performs the role of teenage older sister having to take care of her younger brother and sister when their dad goes missing. Unfortunately, dad has borrowed some money and, if he's not back to repay it within days, then the family will lose their home. So she starts trying to locate him, meeting plenty of resistance and obstacles from family and neighbours who don't want her nosing about in things that don't concern her. This really was a thrilling piece of drama to watch, with very believable situations and performances throughout. Recommended.


Fish Tank [DVD] [2009]
Fish Tank [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Katie Jarvis
Price: £9.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful thought-provoking drama, 12 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Fish Tank [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
A wonderful thought-provoking movie from award-winning Angela Arnold. Playing the lead role in her feature debut was Katie Jarvis, who gives a powerful and assured performance as troubled 15-year-old Mia, who lives on a tough housing estate somewhere in Essex. The film focuses on just a few days in Mia's life, when her mother brings home a new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender) and her life then changes in various ways. This film is beautifully crafted, with amazing photography and some highly original plot ideas and clever twists making it a gripping tale to watch. There are some moments as the story unfolds like a thriller which I found decidedly uncomfortable. Although it received a 15 rating from the BBFC, while watching I did find myself wondering at those moments whether they perhaps very nearly made it an 18 - but they didn't.


The Beverly Hillbillies [DVD]
The Beverly Hillbillies [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jim Varney
Price: £3.53

4.0 out of 5 stars A nicely made piece of nostalgia, 12 Jan. 2015
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Essential television viewing in the early 1960s, the original series of The Beverly Hillbillies was treated to a revamp with this movie filmed in 1993. The studio appointed Penelope Spheeris as the project's Director, hot on the heels of her runaway success with the previous year's surprise smash Wayne's World. At one point it seemed that the movie might become the pilot for a new TV series, but in the end that didn't materialise - a shame because there was some fine acting and great character performances that worked their way into this movie. The plot closely mirrors the original series, with an unsophisticated rural family discovering oil deposits under their land, which makes them into overnight multi-multi-millionaires, so they up sticks and relocate to Beverly Hills. On arrival they acclimatise to their new situation and surroundings, whilst constantly being targeted by no-good types intent on fleecing them out of their fortune. Overall, the film has a warm and gentle comic style, with various set-piece scenes that are linked by strong character development. By the time the film's end arrived, I was able to feel a strong connection to all the main characters and would happily have seen them in further escapades. The ensemble cast worked well together, and also had opportunities to each show their individual skills. The pacing was good throughout, there were some nice sets and costumes, and everything looked good on screen.


Zatoichi - Limited Edition Steelbook [Blu-ray]
Zatoichi - Limited Edition Steelbook [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Tadanobu Asano
Price: £12.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 6 Nov. 2014
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Japanese with English subtitles, but mostly drama and bursts of action without huge amounts of dialogue. One of the most compelling and beautifully filmed movies that I've seen for many months. Occasionally tricky to follow the non-linear plot, which has a few flashback scenes to past events in characters' lives, but it all makes sense eventually. Zatoichi is a famous blind Samurai character from Japanese movie history, although this film is a stand-alone and does not reference past releases which were all created a generation earlier - somewhat like the UK gets regular remakes of the Robin Hood or King Arthur legends every few years. The film's director also played the lead role and is a major star in his homeland, plus has made several appearances in Hollywood too. Highly recommended.


Wim Wenders Vol. 1
Wim Wenders Vol. 1
Offered by zoreno-uk
Price: £14.46

2.0 out of 5 stars For German Speakers, 6 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Wim Wenders Vol. 1 (DVD)
These films are excellent, but this particular three film edition has two of them with German language as the only option. Paris, Texas also has an English option - but the other two films do not. Other multi-disc collections are available which do have language choices including English.


The Fall Of The Roman Empire [DVD]
The Fall Of The Roman Empire [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sophia Loren
Price: £4.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Huge epic. A must see., 27 Oct. 2014
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Wow! I wasn't expecting this to be so good. One of the great historical epics that were filmed in the late 50s and early 60s - running time is 172 minutes. This 2-disc deluxe edition also contains bonus features of another 153 minutes. This film has been restored and remastered and it looks amazing, presented in 2.35:1. Apparently it took a very long time to sort out the script and build the sets, but I'd say it was most definitely worth that effort. I also love Dimitri Tiomkin's original musical score, which is in a very elite class indeed. I'm not inclined to quibble about historical accuracy, but there are a few deviations that some viewers may spot. The story is based around the time of Marcus Aurelius (played by Alec Guinness) and charts the power-hungry greed and father-son betrayal that led to Rome's collapse at the hands of the Barbarians - the same events which later inspired Ridley Scott's film Gladiator. At 172 minutes there are inevitably a few places where the pace slows down, but overall the mixture of action, dialogue, tension and resolution is nicely judged. There are plenty of strong character performances to maintain interest, particularly James Mason as a Greek slave who is also a teacher and philosopher. Lavish costumes and decoration. Recommended.


Mad Love [DVD] [2001] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Mad Love [DVD] [2001] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Pilar López de Ayala
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £9.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Made Historical Biopic, 27 Oct. 2014
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A really well-made film about a much-maligned senior member of one of Europe's most powerful royal families. Ignore the silly title given on its English language release - this is basically an historical biopic. Contains scenes of nudity and sex, but probably nothing you've not seen before in plenty of other adult-rated films, and not for any great duration anyway, but apparently it garnered the film some form of notoriety. In Spanish with subtitles in English. You'll either need a multi-region DVD player to watch it, or possibly it might work on your Blu-ray player without any region coding problems....


The Merchant Class of Mediaeval London, 1300-1500 (Ann Arbor Paperbacks)
The Merchant Class of Mediaeval London, 1300-1500 (Ann Arbor Paperbacks)
by Sylvia L. Thrupp
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly researched and written., 27 Oct. 2014
A highly engaging read with lots of fascinating detail about everything from living conditions to trade relations and more. Despite her high academic status, Sylvia Thrupp wrote a beautiful volume which supplies a wealth of information in language that is easy to grasp, and which requires no prior foundation within the topic. The seven chapters are sub-divided into smaller sections, overall running to more than 300 pages, plus appendices and index. If you have an interest in English history, I would recommend searching down a second-hand copy of this excellent book, first published in 1948 by the University of Michigan, then re-published in 1962 by Ann Arbor Paperbacks.


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