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OCR Media Studies for A2 Third Edition
OCR Media Studies for A2 Third Edition
by Julian McDougall
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly not useful, 26 May 2011
The examined part of OCR specification at A2 requires students to evaluate their own production work (so not that much a textbook can do besides talk a little in a very general way about the main areas of study, genre, narrative, digital production, forms and conventions, representations language etc.) but it can't really give anything specific since students will be analysing their own work,- a fact reflected in the fact that only a handful of pages in the book is given over to this section. The rest of the section dedicated to the exam section covers the range of option topics, global media, identity, 'we-media' and so on, of which students have to study one and have their own case studies so again, not that much a textbook can do here either besides offer some general guidance, which to be honest students at this level ought to know by the time they reach this stage.

there is some useful advice about practical work and a decent case study, but in short, a student who buys this book will probably only refer to about 10% of it, and feel at the end that it's all been a bit vague and non-specific.

It is however, very well written and Mr Mcdougal certainly knows his stuff.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 29, 2011 9:27 AM BST

Wuthering Heights [DVD] [1992]
Wuthering Heights [DVD] [1992]
Dvd ~ Juliette Binoche
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £9.49

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but flawed., 14 Dec. 2009
There is much to admire about this version of Emily Bronte's classic story. The settings are great, the two houses which form the backdrop to the story are perfect locations and the performances are at least good, if not stunning at times from the excellent Fiennes. I'd agree with those who say that whilst physically Juliette Binoche looks every inch Cathy, her French accent detracts slightly from the character.

However, I'd argue that this film is flawed as are so many adaptations of these classic romantic novels from the fact that too much is crammed in to the two or so hours of the film. These stories are simply too long to do justice to in the constraints of a film. For this reason, some of the best adaptations such as the 1939 Olivier/Oberon version do not try to tel the whole story but simply concentrate upon the relationship between Heathcliffe and Cathy at the expense of the relationships of their respective offspring. Versions which do tell the whole story tend to be the most effective when they are mini-series of three or four hours in total.

As a result, many of the key elements of the story such as Mr Earnshaw's kind treatment and Hareton's cruel treatment of Heathcliffe both as a child and as an adult are never fully shown in this version. Hareton's descent into gambling and alcoholism are both essential in explaining why he is able to slip into despair and allow Heathcliffe a way back to prominence. There is too little of the cantankerous Joseph or of Cathy's happiness at Thrushcross Grange following her accident and of Heathcliffe's despair when she doesn't come home immediately.

Nevertheless, the great cinematography, wonderful musical score and costume are all worth a look. Not the best version, but this film is a great addition to the Wuthering Heights legacy.

Gran Torino [DVD] [2009]
Gran Torino [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Clint Eastwood
Price: £2.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eastwood near top form, 22 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Gran Torino [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Clint Eastwood, in my view, is one of the best directors working in Hollywood today. He has reached the top of his game by surrounding himself with reliable and talented people as his 'backroom staff' and has produced excellent film after excellent film. This offering is no exception. The film is funny, engaging and in keeping with the output from the more mature and thoughtful Eastwood, thought provoking. The eponymous car forms the centrepiece as the only thing that Eastwwod's character cares about. It represnts the kind of nostalgic America he once knew whilst all around him gangs, immigration and violence erode that dream. Thrust into an unusual but engaging friendship with a Korean immigrant boy, Eastwood delivers a poetic and beautifully filmed movie which although a little predictable, leaves the audience realising that even the most grizzly and seemingly hateful person has enormous capacity to change, to be a force for good, to be a hero and to make the difference.

Not quite as polished from a directoral point of view as some of Eastwood' other offerings, most notably Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, the excellent and criminally under-rated A Perfect World, Letters From Iwo Jima and Unforgiven and so not quite worthy of a five star treatment but excellent nevertheless.

The Jam Unseen
The Jam Unseen
by Twink
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A photgraphic diary of The Jam in their heyday, 5 Nov. 2009
This review is from: The Jam Unseen (Paperback)
This is a great collection of photojournalism from the group's official photographer from their peak period. It shows the band backstage, on stage, relaxing, rehearsing and recording. What is clear is that the ladfs in the group were about as down to earth as they come. There are no trappings of excess or bust-ups one normally associates with many succesful group. Instead this book is an artefact which records the group at a time when they were the most succesful group in the country.

A valuable addition to the collection of any true Jam or general music fan

This Is The Modern World
This Is The Modern World
Price: £5.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not their best but hey, it's still The Jam, 12 Oct. 2009
This CD has long been the topic of debate among Jam fans. Certainly by any measure it probably isn't up there with later classics such as All Mod Cons, Setting Sons and Sound Affects but time has actually been very kind to this second album from one of Britain's finest bands. Many of the tracks count among favourites of Jam fans. It offers a more refined sound from the harshness of their debut but it is rougher than those which followed. This album captures The Jam in a transitional period, just as music itself was changing. In short it is an album which they simply had to make and without it, the refined brilliance of their later albums would probably not have happened. For this reason therefore it is as important as any of the group's catalogue.

It's clear that Weller and co. learned much from the experience of this album and the seeds for what was to follow are sown here. The Modern World was always a live favourite and it together with In The Street Today are echoes of In The City and capture Weller's anger and disillusionment at what he saw in Contemporary Britain. However, the mellower Weller begins to emerge here with songs like Tonight At Noon, Life From A Window and I Need You. The songwriting is at times more thoughtful, in the brilliant Standards this is highly succesful whereas in The Combine and Bruce Foxton's Don't Tell Them You're Sane less so but above all, despite its shortcomings this album still has the edge you would expect from The Jam.

Underwater Sunlight
Underwater Sunlight

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and spellbinding. A classic, 11 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Underwater Sunlight (Audio CD)
This was the first Tangerine Dream album I ever heard and I was blown away by the way it creates atmosphere and literally takes you away to another place. The first two 'linked' tracks meld a variety of music styles effortlessly together. The power of the eponymous whale and its mastery of the oceans are masterfully captured in the first Song Of The Whale whilst the second strikes a haunting note.

The rest of the album although good, fails to quite match up to the glory of the first two tracks. The album feels 'nautical' and the band succesfully capture the mythology and majesty of the ocean. I find some of the output from Tangerine Dream a little pessimistic (Phaedra, and latter tracks on Tyger), but this album is overwhelmingly optimistic and as a result, it leaves you feeling a little happier for listening to it.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (5-Disc Ultimate Collectors' Edition) [DVD] [1982]
Blade Runner: The Final Cut (5-Disc Ultimate Collectors' Edition) [DVD] [1982]
Dvd ~ Harrison Ford
Offered by ajdiscs
Price: £34.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive version in a wonderful tin package. Stunning, 1 Oct. 2009
Seldom has a film provoked as much debate or lead such a tumultuous existence as Ridley Scott's classic dystopian futuristic detective story Blade Runner. Boasting some impressive talent, Scott himself, Harrison Ford, the superb Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young etc.etc,the film was reviled by many upon release in 1982 but found a niche market as a cult classic soon after. A Director's Cut and now a Final Cut later and Blade Runner stands out as one of the best films of the 1980s and one of the best of the genre ever.

All of the previously available versions of the film are present in this package making it the ultimate must have box-set for anyone who likes the film. The real gems as is the case with many box-set editions comes from the extras disc. With no notable absentees other than those who have died since the film's release, cast, crew, execs and writers all offer a compelling insight into the film. What comes across strongly is the extent to which Ridley Scott was obsessed with detail and being in control of all the elements both visual and non-visual of the process and the film is certainlt better for it. The documentaries on disc two entitled Dangerous Days, the Making of Blade Runner help to confirm and disopense with a variety of rumours and myths which have surrounded the film such as the origin of the voiceover, the disputes Scott had with writers and studio execs and much discussed disagreements between the English Scott and his American crew over his working style.

From start to finish the film is a visual triumph and years ahead of its time (a fact that Scott picks up on the documentary disc when he acknowledges that being ahead of your time proved in this instance as problematic as being behind the times can be) and even those upon whom the story is lost or vague tend to recognise its impressive mise-en-scene, editing and cinematography. The special effects in contemporary Sci-Fi such as Star Wars, E.T, Close Encounters etc is deliberately fantastical and futuristic but in Blade Runner, the effects blend effortlessly into the dystopian landscape, you don't so much marvel at the technology as lament it as a symbol of the pursuit of progress at the expense of the environment and of our humanity.

This is an outstandingly good box set at fantastic value for money and Blade Runner is itself an outstanding film in all of its versions, there are times when the original edition with Ford's voice over must be revisitied, there are times when the first Director's Cut needs to be seen but it is the Final Cut which offers the definitive version, the version Scott intended us to marvel at and which upon seeing, you certainly do.

This has to be a contender for Best Box-Set of the First Cinematic Century!!!

The Taking of Pelham 123 [DVD] [2010]
The Taking of Pelham 123 [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ John Travolta
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.26

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but flawed, 2 Sept. 2009
As with most remakes, the original is better! That isn't to say that this film isn't enjoyable. It is, but comparisons to the 1974 version are inevitable and compared to that film, this one fails to cut it. There are some good set pieces and the premise is a good one but the performances lack something. Travolta just doesn't seem that interested. His performance as a terrorist in this film is a shadow of his performance as a terrorist in Swordfish and although he is enjoyable to watch and has the lion's share of the best lines, he just seems to be lacking effort.

As for Denzil Washington, he spends most of his time delivering uninspired dialogue. It's hard to believe that this is the same actor as the hugely talented double Oscar winner seen in so many other films. I guess the pay must have been good!

On the whole, this is a film which will be enjoyed by most but which is forgettable and in the fulness of time will struggle to emerge from the shadow of its earlier, superior namesake.

Terminator Salvation [DVD] [2009]
Terminator Salvation [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.54

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Something of a disappointment, 6 Aug. 2009
This film, the much awaited 4th film in the Terminator franchise, falls short of the mark. There is action, something of a narrative and quite a good cast but it lacks the finish of the earlier films. The editing and the direction are poor, as are some of the special effects (especially the inclusion of a Schwarzenegger Terminator which looks like a really bad bit of amateur CGI!)

Having watched this film, I can't help thinking of it as a flogging of a dead horse which is a shame because the franchise is not a dead horse, as with all time-travel and fantasy films there are numerous plot twists and directions for the stories to go and each one can be justified by the verisimilitude of science fiction. This offering just seems a little uninspiring. Christian Bale is stunted as John Connor and I felt that the Kyle Reese character was a much more interesting character who ought to have been the central character as his is the more interesting future according to the earlier films.

Nevertheless, for die-hard Terminator fans there will be something to enjoy and it is these rather than the genral film viewer who gets the most from this film.

In The City
In The City
Price: £5.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great debut album, 6 Aug. 2009
This review is from: In The City (Audio CD)
As debut albums go and released at the time it was, it's hard to imagine how this one could be any better. 1977 was a period of conflicting musical styles. The impact of the 60s goliaths The Beatles and The Who could still be felt, there was the arrival of disco and the explosion of punk. This album is a great reflection of these uncertain musical times.

To hear the songs, you immediately think of punk. The angry twang of Weller's Rickenbacker and Foxton's pounding bass coupled with the angst in Weller's voice make the band stand out from the meaningless punk mediocrity that was around at the same time. However, a deeper study will reveal much more complexity. How many punk groups sang about wanting to be away from the numbers, non-stop dancing and had songs with love in the title? No, The Jam were, even here at this early stage, so much more than a punk band. Visually the band in their black suits are a throwback to the early Beatles and Who era. Sounds From The Street was Weller's answer to the American beach craze spearheaded by The Beach Boys, Non-Stop Dancing makes reference to James Brown and the soul music which was to influence Weller so much in his career, Slow Down is a Larry Williams Rythym and Blues cover whilst In The City, a title borrowed from The Who's "A Quick One" album and the Batman Theme which again appears on the same Who album clearly show Weller's mod influences. Running through the album however is the beginning of the social concern and urban realism that feature so heavily in The Jam's output and which became a core part of their overall importance.

This is a raw and powerful sound and lacks the refinement of the band's output from All Mod Cons but The Jam announced their arrival with full power and force with this debut and the multi layerd 18 year old lead singer sows the seeds for what was to come later. Brilliant stuff!!

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