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Hamish Adam
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Death In Paradise - Series 1-5 [DVD] [2016]
Death In Paradise - Series 1-5 [DVD] [2016]
Dvd ~ Ben Miller
Price: £39.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Caribbean comedy crimes, 17 July 2016
Most people I know are either big fans of besuited DI Richard Poole (played by Ben Miller in series 1 – 2) or clumsy and forgetful DI Humphrey Goodman (played by Kris Marshall in series 3 – 5). Personally, I’m a Richard Poole kind of a fan. I gradually warmed to Humphrey Goodman over time, and grew to love him too, but deep down, and in spite of the later series being more generously budgeted with bigger set-ups and casts and a wider range of locations, series 1 and 2 remained my favourites.

That said, there is much else besides the two lead detectives to enjoy here. Aside from the exquisite Caribbean location of the fictional island of Sainte Marie which is described as being a small neighbor of Guadeloupe, Danny John-Jules (playing the superb character of ambitionless lady’s-man Dwayne Myers) is in all 40 episodes. Sara Martins playing Detective Sergeant Camille Bordey is in the first 4 series and Elizabeth Borgine playing her Mum, Catherine, is in all 5 series as is the perennially excellent actor Don Warrington – here playing Commissioner Selwyn Patterson but better known as Phillip in ‘Rising Damp’. Plus, Gary Carr plays Sergeant Fidel Best in the first three series. And finally, although animated, Harry the Lizard has to be included as a significant cast member! 4 stars.


The Returned - Series 1 [DVD]
The Returned - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Anne Consigny
Price: £7.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A Lake, a Dam and some Ghosts, 17 July 2016
I finally got around to watching these 8 episodes back to back on a DVD. It is both a profoundly depressing, but also thought provoking experience. People return from the dead. Are they real? What is real? How do the living cope with the dead amongst them?

There are, of course, so many unresolvable paradoxes in this phenomenally ambitious dramatic premise, that there are bound to be lots of loose-ends, stretches of credulity and baffling bits. And, inevitably, there is plenty of stuff to be confused by in ‘The Returned’. Much of this confusion, however, is covered by excellent cinematography and beautifully atmospheric music composed by Glaswegian band Mogwai who worked up the music ahead of the actual shoot – a technique developed by former commercials directors, Alan Parker and Ridley Scott, amongst others, in the seventies – starting with the music and shooting to that.

The cast are virtually all excellent and it’s hard to know where to start. In no particular order, Yara Pilartz as Camille Seguret and her mother, Claire, played by Anne Cosigny are standouts. As were Clothilde Hesme as Adele Werther and Celine Sallette as Julie Meyer. The face on the DVD cover is the young actor, Swann Nambotin, as the mysterious character, Victor – he is utterly brilliant.

I found that ‘The Returned’ genuinely made me think about the meaning of life and death. It is both a dramatic and a religious experience that explores the mysteries of both. Coincidentally, right in the middle of watching these 8 episodes at home, I went out and watched a live theatre production of ‘Hamlet’ and was reminded of Hamlet’s great line to his chum Horatio, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. ‘The Returned’ makes that very point. French language, English subtitles. 5 stars


Fortitude - Season 1 [DVD]
Fortitude - Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sophie Grabol
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Ice: the Final Frontier, 9 July 2016
This review is from: Fortitude - Season 1 [DVD] (DVD)
'Fortitude' is both the name of the place, and also describes the state of mind required by the characters as they attempt to endure its frozen hardships. Fortitude is a fictional Arctic research station. Everyone there is either on the run from somewhere else or is busy developing some extremely bad habits. And there is a lot of ice.

This was Sky's first venture into big budget drama and its nervously excitable newness is very apparent; both good and bad. There's a murder, and then another. There are masses of characters - some of whom you can keep track of, and several who even after a few episodes you struggle with. It's themes are dark - insanity, sadism, cruel icy nature, greed, lust, ancient threats resurfacing and present day families breaking down in the worst way. The plot is contorted in the extreme. And that is Fortitude's greatest strength and also it's greatest weakness. If you enjoy your plots like Agatha Christie at mach three, then you may like this. Personally, I found it hard to follow. That's the only real downside.

The upside is massive. The snow-gilded location is vaguely somewhere in the Arctic fastnesses, maybe Iceland or northern Norway, and is atmospheric, mysterious and beautiful beyond belief. The cinematography is just about the best I've seen in telly drama - it milks the frozen pristine wilderness of the location for all its worth. The main cast are excellent with several big names like Christopher Eccleston, Michael Gambon, Stanley Tucci, Richard Dormer ('Game of Thrones') and Sophie Grabol (she won a BAFTA for 'The Killing') - as are a number of the smaller roles like Phoebe Nichols as the doctor.

There are police stations, boats, hotels, hospitals, laboratories, supermarkets, shacks and tents. And there is a lot of snow and ice - I may have mentioned that already. And then there is fragile humanity, clinging to life and sanity on this impossible edge of mankind. Apparently, a second series is in production. I would definitely look at that if it was forthcoming. 5 stars.


Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie [DVD]
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Saunders
Price: £19.99

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ab Fab's Coronation, 2 July 2016
This lavish movie is a well-earned coronation of everything and everybody that were so good in the sitcom. It is a faithful reproduction of all the best bits of the telly series, successfully adapted from the small screen and projected onto a much bigger one. It has all the key original ingredients, here belted out by the original cast who give it their all. To lend it an added layer of glamour, it is filmed in several suitably flashy locations in London, Cannes and Nice. Is the movie a keeper? For me, definitely so. I have all the telly series DVD's, have watched them over a couple of times and a nice big movie like this is exactly the closure that my Ab Fab collection needs.

Central to everything, of course, are Patsy (Joanna Lumley) and Edina (Jennifer Saunders) who do not disappoint. It seems incredible that women of their age are still able to cavort like youngsters - a point made repeatedly by Edina. However, even she flags and there are several touching moments when she is painfully frank about getting old and how social media technology has rendered her PR skills redundant.

Speaking of really old, June Whitfield as Edina's Mum is magnificent, as is Edina's daughter Saffy. Other smaller parts from the telly are also there - Celia Imrie (Claudia Bing), Jane Horrocks (Bubble), Kathy Burke (Magda) and Lulu all shine. And on top of the main cast there are a few dozen cameos who were not in the telly version. It seems like everybody wanted to be in it, including such unlikely cast as Jeremy Paxman and Barry Humphries (Dame Edna Everage and also as himself, kind of). Kate Moss and Emma Bunton had chunky parts and were pretty good; Chris Colfer (Glee) and Stella McCartney were magic.

Jennifer Saunders wrote the script and she cleverly followed a roughish outline of the story of Billy Wilder's classic Marilyn Monroe film, 'Some Like It Hot'. It's not all perfect - inevitably, I suppose, in a movie shot internationally with such a huge cast there are bound to be a few plot flaws - as another reviewer pointed out, the house was one of these - but nothing that really bothered me. This is truly Patsy and Edina's coronation. A right royal procession of Bolly, bloody mindedness and boozy madness. 4 stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 9, 2016 4:30 PM BST


The Early Hitchcock Collection [DVD] [1929]
The Early Hitchcock Collection [DVD] [1929]
Dvd ~ Anny Ondra
Price: £15.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hitchcock's DNA is everywhere, 4 May 2016
Alfred Hitchcock is best known for the films he made in America after he moved there in 1939. He was prolific in the US and prolifically excellent. He made roughly the same number of films in England pre emigrating in 1939. Many of these are reasonably well known. Perhaps the most critically acclaimed of these is 'The Lady Vanishes' which was the last but one film he made in England - his very last one being the commercially successful 'Jamaica Inn'. But he made many other reasonable films in the twenties and thirties and was the first to embrace the new 'talky' facilities at Elstree Studios in 1929. It is these fair to middling films that are included here. 'Jamaica Inn' and 'The Lady Vanishes' are not included.

This collection is a good selection of the kinds of films that developed Hitchcock's reputation as the master-builder of the British film industry. These films, and Hitchcock the man, gave the domestic industry confidence in its own abilities to make great films. In consequence, the thirties were a particularly great era for the industry with gem after gem being turned out by Elstree, Ealing, Welwyn and Merton Park Studio, amongst others.

Hitchcock's fingerprints, the hallmarks of his technique that were to become so apparent during his wildly successful Hollywood years in the forties, fifties and sixties, are all over these films. Hitchcock left his DNA on every scene in this collection: the camera following someone's gaze, the intense close-ups, unconventional edits, dramatic lensing, heavy sexual undercurrents, obsession with evil and obsession with obsession. 4 stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2016 3:00 PM BST


Get Back - Complete Series One & Two [DVD] [2006]
Get Back - Complete Series One & Two [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Ray Winstone
Offered by angel_bookstore
Price: £29.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Back where they started, 4 May 2016
On the face of it, ‘Get Back’ is none too promising – it’s a show about this bloke who is a bit of a dick, who's made a pile of dosh in the Eighties, and then has to go and live with his Dad in public housing because he lost it in the early nineties downturn. What’s different about this sitcom is that it’s written by the comic geniuses Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran (‘The New Statesman’, ‘Birds of a Feather’, ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’). The title of the show, the character’s names and the episode names were all suggested by the songs of the Beatles. Look out for an early, pre-‘Sense and Sensibility’/’Titanic’, Kate Winslet, who plays one of the family's daughters. 15 half hour episodes in these 2 series. 4 stars.


Visions (2015) [Import]
Visions (2015) [Import]
Dvd ~ Gillian Jacobs

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, not great, 3 May 2016
This review is from: Visions (2015) [Import] (Blu-ray)
You want this film to be a success – you really do. It has the fabulous Isla Fisher in the lead role and a pretty strong, if thoroughly miscast, ensemble which includes Jim Parsons (‘The Big Bang Theory’), the terrific Joanna Cassidy (‘Blade Runner’, yes, the ‘Blade Runner’) and Eva Longoria (‘Desperate Housewives’). The set-up is OK if a tad clichéd – pregnant Eveleigh (Isla Fisher) and her husband prepare to reopen a vineyard in California. Eveleigh begins suffering from nightmares and hallucinations and comes to believe something supernatural may be haunting her or the house.

This went, more or less, straight to DVD and it’s not too hard to see why. It has some classically imitated Hitchcock moments complete with scary music, which is more annoying than anything else. Also, even Isla Fisher starts to grate as she is in virtually every scene. So we end up with flying grapes, screeching ‘Psycho’ music and antidepressants being prescribed for a condition that clearly demands anti-psychotics. And the script is nothing if not hysterical. Helena (played by Joanna Cassidy) camps it up something wicked with lines like, “Something happened, something so terrible it stained the land…evil ones echo throughout time like ripples spreading across a pond…acts of psychic violence”. Nuff said. 3 stars.


The Lady Gambles (1949) (Barbara Stanwyck) - Region 2
The Lady Gambles (1949) (Barbara Stanwyck) - Region 2
Dvd ~ Barbara Stanwyck
Offered by GREAT4DVD
Price: £14.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Barbara Stanwyck vehicle, 3 May 2016
There is no role which is too sick, too criminal, too evil or too nutty for Barbara Stanwyck to conquer. She is one of the all-time greats, in my view. ‘The Lady Gambles’ proves this, in spades. So to speak.

This is how it kicks off: in Chicago, Joan Phillips (Barbara Stanwyck) is already in trouble with her gambling addiction when her husband takes her on a business trip to Las Vegas, of all places. While there, she goes completely berserk, robbing, lying, cheating, etc. Several people try to help her and she resists all their best efforts.

And so it goes on. You kind of already know that things are going to lurch from bad to worse, although there is a vaguely, although not very convincing, happy ending of sorts. Look out for an ultra-young Tony Curtis who has a bit part as a bellboy, is on screen for all of 10 seconds and has four short lines! 4 stars.


The Midnight Story [DVD]
The Midnight Story [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tony Curtis
Price: £10.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very young Tony Curtis, 3 May 2016
This review is from: The Midnight Story [DVD] (DVD)
This is a very young Tony Curtis in a pretty good noir thriller set in the sweat-stained Italian-American community of North Shore in San Francisco where you keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

Father Tomasino is a popular priest who is stabbed to death in a back street, No one is more shocked and angry, however, than traffic officer Joe Martini. Joe asks the detective investigating it if he may assist with the investigation – the detective rejects his offer of help. In order to discover the truth, Joe quits the police from the force and visits his prime suspect Sylvio at his waterfront restaurant.

Like any half decent noir, ‘The Midnight Story’ just keeps getting more and more complicated. And then there’s this woman, see! 4 stars.


Corvette K-225 [DVD]
Corvette K-225 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Randolph Scott
Price: £9.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for Randolph Scott fans, 3 May 2016
This review is from: Corvette K-225 [DVD] (DVD)
This is a film about WW2, which was shot during WW2 and in an active theatre of that war – it includes an exterior scene set at the University of King's College Halifax, which was filmed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where many of the corvettes were stationed and from which many trans-Atlantic convoys were assembled. As the location was a wartime secret, Halifax is referred to as "Hannington Harbour" in the film.

Randolph Scott plays a Lieutenant Commander McLain in the Canadian Navy. It’s 1943. He has just lost his ship and most of his crew due to enemy action. He befriends the sister of one of his dead officers. And one of the replacement officers turns out to be brother of the dead officer whose sister he is romancing.

It’s not bad. Good, for fans of Randolph Scott. James Brown plays the brother (he is best known as Rip Masters in all 166 episodes of the telly series, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin). Other supporting cast includes Barry Fitzgerald (Academy Award for ‘Going My Way’) and Noah Beery Jr (who played James Garner’s Dad in 121 episodes of the 'Rockford Files'.) Scrapes 4 stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 5, 2016 11:54 PM BST


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