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Bug DeLug (UK)

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Silent Comedy
Silent Comedy
by Paul Merton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Mr. Merton should have stayed quiet on the subject, 19 Dec 2012
This review is from: Silent Comedy (Paperback)
I recently caught some clips of the Paul Merton's 'Silent Clowns' show that focused on the likes of Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. I have to say that that show appears to be far more useful a guide to the world of silent comedies than this book is.
Initially, I was hooked- reading about the vaudevillian days and the acts that grew up on the stage and evolved their schtick in front of the cameras, but unfortunately Mr. Merton appears to run out of anything particularly interesting to say pretty quickly, and instead decides to describe a whole bunch of silent shorts and then features in exhaustive detail.
This would be okay, but if you have seen the films then it is a pointless exercise to have them retold to you gag by gag, scene by scene in this way. If, on the other hand, you haven't gotten around to seeing any of those early films yet then expect to have them spoiled in the driest, most humourless way possible.
It wouldn't be too bad if he just spoiled the odd Arbuckle short, but when he goes on to spoil films like The Kid or The General then that really is an act too far.
It is as if he has sat down with a pen and paper and just written down exactly what happened, maybe extrapolating with notes from other sources to flesh things out a little.
Truth be told, this is one of the most pointless books that I have ever read. I was constantly skipping over sections where he would yet again describe the films scene by scene, only to find that I was skipping through umpteen pages only to find perhaps only a paragraph of interesting trivia before he was telling me how yet another short film plays out, scene by scene.
Lazy Mr. Merton failed to engage me in any way shape or form with this book, which is a shame as I thought that it would be a nice introduction to a forgotten world which I am only just starting to explore for myself.
The approach is dry, and ironically humourless, and I am sure that if this wasn't penned by someone pretty famous then it would have never garnered any attention.
There are far better reads on the subject than this, and I cannot recommend it to anyone I'm afraid, unless perhaps you are someone who never intends to watch these films at all in which case why would you even want to pick this book up?
Pointless, and informative only in flashes- it gets two stars from me on the basis that the introduction is at least interesting. One to miss though really.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 18, 2013 1:06 AM GMT

The Resistible Demise of Michael Jackson (Zero Books)
The Resistible Demise of Michael Jackson (Zero Books)
by Mark Fisher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag- A Missed Opportunity, 14 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The idea for this book is indeed an interesting one- To compile a bunch of essays on Michael Jackson by different authors, and to look beyond the trashy headlines. Unfortunately, it falls way short. The blurb on the back of the book states that this is not a character assassination, but I'm struggling to recall more than a couple of essays that weren't just that. Check out that disturbing cover illustration too- something that my wife described as scary when she saw the book on the bedside table.
Also, and a huge problem with a book like this, is that the contributors seem to get a lot of facts wrong, and always end up doing the same thing, which is looking at MJ through a prism of sensationalist headlines.
The tone is sombre throughout, except for the woefully misjudged and embarrassingly unfunny essay by Chris Robert which stands out like a sore thumb for all the wrong reasons.
Some essays stand out and generally have something interesting and fresh to offer, like Ken Hollings' and Reid Kane's efforts. However most are written by stuffy old men it seems, all focusing on the same aspects of Jackson's life and unsurprisingly coming up with the same answers. Yes, he had too much plastic surgery and yes, he seems to have had problems with his ethnicity, but that's hardly news is it? What about the music? There's very little discussion of it here, other than to trash his later records.
So, a wasted opportunity all in all, I'm afraid. A shame, as I really thought that this was going to be a level-headed and interesting way to look at the subject from a fresh angle, and on that level it fails miserably.
Scan through it though, and there are things worth uncovering. I would say that a good half a dozen essays here are well written and thought-provoking. A shame that they couldn't all be like that.

The Great Pretender [Blu-ray] [2012]
The Great Pretender [Blu-ray] [2012]
Dvd ~ Freddie Mercury
Offered by FLASH
Price: 12.00

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revealing, intimate portrayal of a unique individual, 26 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Let me start by stating that I am biased. I believe Freddie Mercury to be the greatest showman of the late 20th century. People talk about him being a one off, but that really is understating it. Michael Jackson was a one off too, but his style has been copied ad infinitum, whereas anybody foolish enough to try to copy what Freddie could do onstage would surely be laughed at. With seemingly sparse footage of him away from the stage and the band though, I wondered if this would be just the usual boring retread of the same well-worn anecdotes. When I saw the likes of Paul Gambaccini and Peter 'Phoebe' Freestone I became even more concerned. I shouldn't have been. Hearing them gleefully talking about Freddie in his heyday was fantastic.
So did the film live up to my expectations? No, in fact- it far succeeded them. I'd go as far as to say that this is actually superior to the Queen documentary, as a lot of this is unseen footage, and the story concentrates on certain aspects of Freddie's life that hasn't really been covered before. The Queen story is a fascinating one, but has been exhausted over the years, offering very little in the way of something new. This, on the other hand is full of fascinating material, and goes a long way towards humanising a great man. What it ultimately does though, is to make him seem more complicated, more complex and mysterious than ever before.
With lots of footage of Freddie offstage, and off-guard the film basically covers the solo years of the mid to late eighties, beginning with him discovering and falling in love with dance music in the gay clubs of New York and Munich. Based around an interview that Freddie gave to David Wiggs in which he talks about his love life, his career and his views on the future of the band at that point.
I could go on forever, but will wrap this up by saying that the pieces about his relationship with the risible Paul Prenter, his duets with Mosterrat Caballe and Michael Jackson, and his stint with the Royal Ballet are just some of the highlights here. The black and white footage of him on the set of the 'Days Of Our Lives' music video is what really seals it for me though. Close to the end of his life, but ever the showman- these few clips look wonderful and show a softer, more reflective side of his huge personality. Sterling stuff indeed.
The blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic. The HD footage of outtakes from the video for 'I Want To Break Free' was thrilling, and I'm looking forward to the blu-ray re-releases of all the old Queen videos that must be surely forthcoming. Now that Rhys Thomas (who has done a fantastic job piecing all of this together) has said that there will be no more documentaries I should imagine that a lot of that cut footage from those old video shoots will surface on some Greatest Flix package in the future. Here's hoping.
So, with stories of llamas in studios, band in-fighting and lavish excess all-around I must say that this has been a thrilling addition to the Mercury canon, and though it seems that all areas have been exhausted I am hopeful that other aspects of his career (the mid-to-late 70's period for a start) will be covered in the future. For now though- this is an exhaustive and thrilling look at an enigma.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 19, 2013 10:45 PM BST

Queen - Days of Our Lives [Blu-ray] [2011] [Region Free]
Queen - Days of Our Lives [Blu-ray] [2011] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Queen
Price: 24.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scratches the veneer, 15 Dec 2011
I've been a huge Queen fan for some twenty years now, and as a fan I have watched umpteen documentaries on the band. 'Champions Of The World' was the best of the bunch, but that was some fifteen years ago now, and God knows we needed something fresh.
Over time the image of the band became stale; sanitised, overly-commercial and far too cuddly. Brian & Roger are heroes of mine, but I saw them being reduced to a back-up band for others with far less talent. Kudos to John for keeping clear of the whole bloody shambles. In trying to keep the flame alight the boys had ended up setting fire to the whole thing. I should know. I mourned over the ashes. Haunched on my knees and in tears I watched as they smouldered. I got up, turned around. I'm ashamed to say I walked away.
And now it's been over twenty years since the wonderful Freddie Mercury walked away from it all too. Not of his choice of course, but all the same...
I was just a kid at the time and was only just beginning my exploration of the band. Now I'm over thirty, and the exploration begins again. It begins here...

I dig deep into the film. How far does it go though?

Not deep enough for me, of course, but I'm fastidious on all things Queen.
'So, why the five stars?'
Patience, I'm coming to it.

The film clocks in at a tidy 220 minutes, and really, given its running time, and taking into consideration that it is covering a twenty year career it really does a splendid job. Brand-new interviews with the band, and a few well-worn anecdotes from the usual suspects, the two-part documentary covers a lot of ground. From the band's humble beginnings all the way through to the sorry end- all the major details are covered.
Deacon John. Ahem, John Deacon is worryingly absent from a lot of it, though. I imagine that this would have been his decision. Famously guarded we all know- John's the real bad boy of the band I reckon, but his story barely gets a telling. A shame indeed, but it's good to see his wishes respected by the film-makers.

Lots of rare footage of the band, and a few other bits and pieces that were unfamiliar to an old warhorse like me. The quality of the Blu-Ray is fantastic. The music videos in particular look great. Newly reassembled with old cut footage the seven new videos for songs like Radio Ga Ga and We Are The Champions look fantastic in HD. The sound is terrific, as you'd imagine, and the new interviews look as clear as crystal... in places. Roger Taylor nods in and out of focus in his footage, but again I'm sure that is a filmmakers decision.

As a true fan of the music I am pleased that albums like Hot Space and Mr. Bad Guy get touched on. Even the great Roger Taylor solo stuff gets an airing. And then there's Starfleet... No Biggles though.

The true achievement of this two-part documentary though is that it races through all the boring stuff. The lads' formative years may be fascinating to some, but I've heard those stories a million times. Thankfully the film speeds through them. If there's nothing new, then what's the point?
Also, the film is full of great quotes. The way it builds in the second part really is fantastic. Music is used accordingly and sentiment is spared us pretty much. Seeing Freddie on the set of his last music video in HD is quite terrifying initially. Before long though you see through his gaunt features and his character shines through. He may have been near the end here, but he knew exactly what he wanted given any circumstance it seems. True to the way he lived his life, he went out with great spirit.
There is a scene towards the end where Freddie is obviously tiring. He's on the set of the 'These Are The Days Of Our Lives' music video. His last of course. In black and white and bathed in an eery glow Freddie mimes along to the song. He throws his head back at one point though- he looks like he's about to burst into a sprint, and he has the most incredible smile on his face. That's my lasting image of him now.
That video would have been made around the time I first started to get into the band, and though seriously ill he was brave, and full of life until there was no life no more. I guess I must have seen this in him, even then. Whenever I question my teenage years, and just how stupid I maybe was I always remind myself that I was a Queen fan then, so I can't have been too dumb. Back when being eleven in an all-boys school and loving a band that has just lost its frontman to AIDS was not cool. Not cool at all. But now it seems the flame is rising again. I warm my hands by it. This film went some way to making that happen.

So, it's fantastic. But it isn't perfect. The ending was obviously rushed- perhaps to meet a release date, and falls flat somewhat. The ending seems to come out of nowhere. The editing gets clumsy and the message gets lost. Here's hoping that there is a redux one day for us true fans. Until then I say well done all involved.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 1, 2014 6:01 PM BST

Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: 3.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wanted! Needed! Necessary!, 24 Nov 2011
This review is from: Battleground (Audio CD)
A concept album about addiction, Battleground is one of the most stunningly original releases I've heard all year. An audacious debut that shows how extremely talented these young lads are, this release will have the old guard (Take That, JLS...) quaking in their designer boots. Fronted by the follicly challenged Martin Drooper, this band of misfits have made a debut that shows their massive potential and huge ambition.
Starting with light electronica before rip-roaring into some good ol' rock and roll, the opening track 'U Want It' is a blisteringly brilliant three minutes of high-end drama. Apparently autobiographical, the song deals with male pattern baldness and the woes of the dreaded STD's currently on the market.
With subject matter ranging from the plight of the panda bear ('U Can Help') to the wanton destruction caused by the UK riots earlier this year ('Apples and Orange') the album is a rollercoaster of both good times and bad. With production bolstered by the presence of Mr. Richard D James (of The Aphex Twins fame) and Gary Numan, this collection leaves you simply goggle-eyed at the audaciousness of the whole venture. Currently working the pub and club circuit, the boys will be heading to your town soon enough so keep 'em peeled. This lot are going places!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 27, 2011 5:51 PM GMT

Up All Night
Up All Night
Price: 4.50

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only way is UP!, 24 Nov 2011
This review is from: Up All Night (Audio CD)
Some cruel souls would say that the only direction this band are headed in is that of the 'Reduced' aisle in countless charity shops up and down the land. However, listen closer and you will find that this album is top notch all across the board. With only one weak track, 'Sister's Panties' hindering an otherwise faultless production, the boys have scored a winner with this highly enjoyable and wickedly inventive debut release.
Eagerly awaited by fans and critics alike, this release shows how multi-talented these fellas are. Not only do they look the part, but they also play ALL the instruments, write ALL the songs and have produced this mammoth beast themselves.
Opening track, 'Jimbo Wants His Farts Back' starts with the plaintive chords of a treated piano. Stravinsky was definitely an influence on these boys here. James (The one with the blonde hair... I think) sings lead on this track and his amazing breath control and wonderful vibrato are on full display here. The song is seemingly bereft of all hope as he sighs 'Cave of doom, I enter thee, Soul alight, Endlessly...' Breathtaking in its simplicity and understated in its delivery, the song will have chills running down your spine.
The album was recorded using only vintage analogue gear from the sixties and the whole production was overlooked by Sir George Martin. The mellotron gets a look in on the crazily upbeat second track 'Holiday Sandals' with its bouncy and infectious chorus urging us to 'Lighten up, Stare at the sun, It's rising up, Rise, Rise, Rise again, Summer sandals, Distressed denim jeans, Get off your butt, Live the dream.' A wonderful song, bound for the top spot.
The album continues in this vein for a wonderful 43 minutes before arriving at their 'Day In The Life', suitably entitled 'What I Did Today.' Sang wonderfully by Jewish Paul, it is a chilling account of a day in the life of a teen pop star in the 21st century. Blissfully engaging and with a mesmerising, trippy bassline- the song pounds away for a full 18 minutes. The smallest member of the band 'Swingin' Tony' plays a wonderful trumpet solo towards the end that can only bring to mind the late, great Miles David!
So to summise, this is a near-perfect debut that will have cash registers ringing like billyoh. Bring on the difficult second album I say. I'm sure that it will be a beauty!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 27, 2011 5:57 PM GMT

Freddie Mercury 'An intimate memoir by the man who knew him best'
Freddie Mercury 'An intimate memoir by the man who knew him best'
by Peter Freestone
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.39

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Adds little to the legend but an in-depth read all the same, 6 July 2011
I'm a huge Queen fan and after reading Jim Hutton's 'Mercury and Me' I couldn't wait to dig into this. The claim that Peter Freestone is the man who knew Freddie best isn't a wholly inaccurate one so I thought that this would provide great insight. And it does, but all too infrequently. Want to know what bed linen Freddie preferred? Then read this book. Want to know what his favourite undies were? You'll find that here too. You will also learn a lot about the man himself but the book is so poorly edited and so many inconsequential information is thrusted upon the reader that you really have to dig deep to find the interesting stuff.
There are very few revelatory things included here, which is a huge shame really. Maybe Peter Freestone is too loyal to really dig the dirt on Freddie or maybe he was banished to the serving quarters when all the real fun was being had. Who knows? What I do know from reading this book is that we will probably not have a scathingly honest account of Freddie's life for a long time yet. Not that I want dirt necessarily but I would like to know more about who he really was.
If it seems like I hated this book then I apologise. I certainly didn't. I was just left somewhat disappointed at the end of it. It is a book is filled with facts and dates, anecdoted and tidbits of information but it never delves deep enough for my liking. Peter Freestone has actually made Freddie Mercury seem a little boring at times here. I never thought that could happen as Freddie was such a wonderful one-off but this book is devoid of anything really interesting. It is filled with heart but lacks character. Maybe Peter Guralnick will one day have a bash at the Queen legacy. Wouldn't that be wonderful? If not, then maybe Paul Gambaccini could delve into the music of Queen and Freddie and unearth some interesting treasures therein. Unfortunately, this book adds little to the legend. A shame indeed.

Queen - Under Review - 1946 - 1991 - The Freddie Mercury Story [DVD] [2007]
Queen - Under Review - 1946 - 1991 - The Freddie Mercury Story [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Queen
Price: 12.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too lightweight for real fans, 6 July 2011
Having watched and been somewhat impressed by several of the 'Under Review' series I thought I'd give this one a bash. Queen 'Under Review' 1 and 2 were both pretty lightweight affairs but were interesting enough to hold your attention over the course of a couple of hours. Personally, there wasn't enough about the actual music for me and people like Paul Gambaccini churning out the same old anecdotes was a little grating at times but like I say, I'm a Queen fan so I was entertained enough.
This however, really is a cacophony of barrels being scraped. Interviews by far less appealing people than on the other releases and footage that you'll have seen a million times over by now does not make for a good DVD. Some clips of Freddie being interviewed are actually recorded with a camera pointed at a television (seriously) and points that have been mulled over a million times before are dragged out again.
At about an hour in length this is a fairly substandard release. Nothing is really covered that wasn't covered in Queen 'Under Review' 1 and 2 and the albums (Mr. Bad Guy and Barcelona) are skipped over all too quickly.
This could have been a very interesting release had it actually involved people who knew what they were talking about. the inclusion of a couple of Freddie impersonators was completely misguided in my opinion. Budget restraints make them look seriously silly... one guy in particular prancing around his front room makes for pretty squirm-inducing stuff.
To sum it up, grab the other earlier releases or just go on youtube and check out some clips there, but save yourself a tenner and give this one a miss. Not a complete disaster but inconsequential and pretty badly produced. A disappointment.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2011 1:03 AM GMT

Sam Kinison - Why Did We Laugh? [DVD]
Sam Kinison - Why Did We Laugh? [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sam Kinison
Offered by rebeccathackray
Price: 22.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cheap and cheerful, 14 Jan 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I find Sam Kinison to be something of a strange beast. He could be downright hilarious at times, but I feel that he would have gotten better had he not died so young. I don't feel like he'd quite reached his peak as a stand-up comedian by the time of his death which is a massive shame.
The footage from his stand-up shows included on this disc though are hilarious in parts. There are so many funny routines that it would take forever to list them all- suffice to say though that his bits on drugs, Jesus not having a wife and necrophilia are absolutely hilarious. George Carlin would later go on to steal Sam's bit about people who preach about peace always getting shot- that's how good he could be.
That said, some of the early footage isn't so good. Like contributors on the show like Jay Leno point out - it took him some time to hone his material. With talking head interviews with the likes of Richard Pryor, the aforemention Jay Leno and Rodney Dangerfield, this is a well-constructed documentary. Funny, informative and ultimately rather moving- this is a great intro to Kinison, and is dirt cheap too. Just buy the darned thing.

Oh, and to the other reviewer- lay off Sam's brother for keeping the flame alive, eh? He loved and knew Sam more than possibly anybody else on Earth. Without his help this documentary probably wouldn't have been made and that would be a damn shame.

Donnie Darko / Donnie Darko Director's Cut [2-disc Blu-ray] [2001] [Region Free]
Donnie Darko / Donnie Darko Director's Cut [2-disc Blu-ray] [2001] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Jake Gyllenhaal
Price: 9.37

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray Review, 19 Dec 2010
I already owned the theatrical and director's cuts on seperate dvds but being such a fan of the film I decided to splash out on the blu-ray. Both cuts are included here on two seperate discs and all the extras from both previous dvd releases are included here but there are no blu-ray exclusives. The original has the standard 2.0 stereo track, and the sound isn't particularly great. The audio certainly isn't a massive improvement over the original dvd release. The picture is also the most disappointing that I have seen on blu-ray. Now I know that the film was made with a small budget and it was filmed using cheap film stock so the film is never going to look pristine no matter what format it is on, but this really doesn't look much better than the dvd release. In fact at times the film looks downright terrible on blu-ray. Edges blur and colours are way over-saturated. This gives it the look of an 80's tv movie which may have been Richard Kelly's original intention, but it makes it less than desirable on blu-ray.
To summise, Donnie Darko is a wonderful and haunting movie in every resepct. The blu-ray however is certainly not worth the upgrade. Hold onto your original dvd copy until the inevitable Ultimate Edition arrives on blu-ray, hopefully with a little tweaking from the director.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2012 2:17 AM GMT

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