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Mr. D Burin

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Party Going
Party Going
by Henry Green
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Going, Not Going, 31 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Party Going (Paperback)
A sharply witty dissection of class attitudes, the selfishness of the idle rich, and the apparent deterioration of values, Henry Green's 'Party Going' is one of the most biting and enjoyable texts to come out of 20th century Britain in the period preceding World War II. 'Party Going' focuses on a party waiting to take the train to begin their journey to Calais, to holiday in France. The trains are delayed due to fog, and stuck at the station, the party begin to show their true selves - a swathe of selfishness, class snobbery (amongst the upper class), and a mixture of honest values and unpleasant, bawdy lust amongst their 'help'. Green's novel evokes character very successfully, though sometimes the novel's intense cynicism has the unfortunate effect of making too many characters seem merely symbols for unpleasant selfishness, and elsewhere, Green's supposed heroine, Angela, is harder to like or empathise with, than Green appears to intend to make her.

The narrative is an interesting one - a mixture of humorous and serious sub-plots built around the main plot, with characters coming and going from the scene, all the while with the poorer citizens in the station being looked down on else patronised, by Max Adie's snobby party, above. Occasionally the station can seem a bit confining for the narrative, and whilst the claustrophobic location works as a metaphor for the stasis of Britain's upper class, and the feeling of society as a whole being somewhat trapped; it does mean the Novel feels a little narrow and, even dull, in a few places. On the whole though, 'Party Going' is a witty novel, that is both fun, and effectively frustrating; even if it sometimes seems a little one-sided, and squashed in.


Friday After Next [DVD]
Friday After Next [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ice Cube
Price: £4.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Got my a** back in the projects. The only place where you get robbed by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve", 20 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Friday After Next [DVD] (DVD)
The third part of most trilogies seems to be the weakest one, and whilst 'Friday After Next' is undoubtedly good fun, and packed with enough laughs to please fans of the previous two, it's a film which runs out of steam after a clever, often hilarious first half. Craig and Day-Day begin jobs as security guards at the local mall, conveniently the home of their family's BBQ eatery - with its superb slogan "tastes so good it makes you wanna slap your momma". Their working day is nicely put together, as they try to catch the Santa who robbed them at the opening of the film, and Craig tries to keep Day-Day's hilariously overactive attitude to security in check, whilst hitting on the charming, attractive Donna, girlfriend of one of the mall's shop owners. Unfortunately the film goes downhill about half way through - there's a party which goes on for far too long, and the writers seem to have used up all the best jokes and plausible sub-plots, meaning that the gags go from genuinely laugh out loud to pretty mediocre; and there are too many bizarre characters who pop up and disappear in a film which lasts only 80 minutes. For fans of the first two Friday films, there's enough here to make 'Friday After Next' worth buying, but do be prepared for the film losing its momentum after a while.


Harry Hill's TV Burp: The Best Bits [DVD]
Harry Hill's TV Burp: The Best Bits [DVD]
Dvd ~ Harry Hill
Price: £6.18

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Burping on, 20 Jan. 2012
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The past couple of series of 'TV Burp' have seen the show drop a little in quality, though there have still been, as always, some superbly funny moments. Thankfully with another best of DVD here, the jokes that missed have been cut, and the best moments of the recent episodes have been well chosen. There's everything you'd hope for here - from superb ripping of a former EastEnders 'star' presenting a program on ghosts, to analysing Ben Fogle's over-dramatic climbing narrations, and even a horse running away with Harry's clothes. One or two jokes are dragged on a little too far, to the point where they stop being all that funny, but generally this is a well-selected compilation with some genuine laugh out loud moments. Fans of 'TV Burp' will no doubt find this another good addition to the previous 'TV Burp Gold' releases, and I'd also reccomend this to those looking for something fun and relaxing, and who take their soaps and reality TV with a pinch of salt!


Funny Ha Ha [2002] [DVD]
Funny Ha Ha [2002] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kate Dollenmayer

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The heart and the truth of Indie cinema, 18 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Funny Ha Ha [2002] [DVD] (DVD)
Though not quite as polished or impressive as Bujaski's follow-up, 'Mutual Appreciation', 'Funny Ha Ha' is nevertheless a hugely enjoyable, affecting and realistic portrait of twentysomething American life. The film follows Marnie, a Boston slacker, as she deals with temp jobs, the search for employment, her feelings for her best friend Alex, and the affections of awkward, but kindly colleague Mitchell (a superb turn from Bujaski himself). The film has been rightly praised for its authentic and heartfelt depiction of both the major characters, and the lives they inhabit - a mixture of quiet gatherings, mediocre to okay employment, and drunken parties. 'Funny Ha Ha''s exploration of Marnie's personal relationships, especially that between her and Mitchell, is, however, the film's strongest facet - and their mixture of genuine connection and frustrated silences is both a deeply personal and a universal one. These positives are made possible, though, by Kate Dollenmayer's excellent portrayal as the engaging, and often charming, but flawed Marnie; who works well with an admittedly promising script.

There are a few drawbacks to 'Funny Ha Ha'. Without giving too much away, the film's final scene felt rather hollow; and Alex, the object of Marnie's desires during the film, seems a rather vapid character, who never seems particularly pleasant, or easy to engage with. Still, though these things serve to stop 'Funny Ha Ha' quite reaching its potential brilliance, it is nevertheless an excellent film; and one boosted by a superb soundtrack, the highlight provided by Bishop Allen's superb song 'Bishop Allen Drive'; the band having long-term links with Bujaski. For those looking for an engaging and relatable indie flick, or just 90 minutes of low-key but engrossing filmmaking, I would highly recommend 'Funny Ha Ha'.


Prospero's Books (1991) ( L'ultima tempesta )
Prospero's Books (1991) ( L'ultima tempesta )
Dvd ~ John Gielgud

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A visual tempest, 18 Jan. 2012
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Unconventional, startling, often grotesque, and genuinely overwhelming, Peter Greenaway's 'Prospero's Books' is one of the most experimental and striking adaptation of Shakespeare's works yet put to film. 'Prospero's Books' uses Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' as it's base, but this isn't an adaptation for the purists. A great deal of the original text is cut from the film, and when used, is often melded in as part of the film's soundtrack (including one of Ariel's most prominent speeches), or else written on screen, as opposed to spoken; in the distinctive caligraphy of Prospero (the protagonist played superbly by John Gielgud's, who puts in a wonderfully measured performance). The film is far more garish and explicit than Shakespeare's original vision. Stomachs unravel to reveal pregnant wombs, nudity is absolutely rife, and even outside of shock value, the physical deformities of the pained Caliban, are often difficult and moving to watch. Whilst Shakespeare's text sometimes feels a little lost within all this visual spectacle - the film's visuals are, as well as stunning on their own merit, often weaved into the plot of 'The Tempest', to reinforce or add meaning. The books of Prospero, which appear in a frame within the frame of the film, and pop up buildings, diagrams, and explorations of the body within them, are a fine example of this.

Though 'Prospero's Books' is excellent, it still falls just short of its aims. A little too much of the text of the original play is lost amidst the visual splendour, and there are some visual experiments which don't always work (such as, in my personal opinion, the relationship between Caliban and the two drunkards), but 'Prospero's Books', even when it fails, still never fails to capture the attention of the viewer. For those looking for a modern, original adaptation of one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, or just for those looking to watch something thoroughly different and eye-catching, I would heartily reccomend Greenaway's 'Prospero's Books'


Ned Kelly [DVD]
Ned Kelly [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mick Jagger
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £3.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The famous outlaw, 12 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Ned Kelly [DVD] (DVD)
Tony Richardson's 'Ned Kelly' is a film which has divided opinion in the 40 years since its release. The film's one sided, negative portrayal of the English law enforcement in Australia, and a few hammy stereotypes have meant that 'Ned Kelly' has been unfairly derided in the British press. The film's fun spirit, excellent soundtrack (courtesy of Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson; as well as one lovely vocal from Jagger), and superb cinematography, have given it a cult fanbase which extends beyond Rolling Stones' lovers. This split opinion makes sense for 'Ned Kelly'. It is a film which contains both sublime, rain-soaked landscapes accompanied by the lilting songs of Kris Kristofferson, but also some rather dull and stilted dialogue; and Jagger's enigmatic turn as the titular hero is in stark contrast to some one-dimensional performances both within the Kelly camp, and the English one. On the whole though, the film's unquestionable positives, as well as its fun spirit and heartfelt (if rather biased) portrayal of the film's hero, makes 'Ned Kelly' an entertaining and worthwhile watch. And for Stones' fans considering a purchase, you won't be disappointed by Jagger's strong, often scene-stealing performances.


Post Grad [DVD] [2009]
Post Grad [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Alexis Bledel
Price: £5.90

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Post-student life..., 10 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Post Grad [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Contrary to some reviews, 'Post Grad' is by no means a terrible film. In fact, it has the potential to be rather a good one. Alexis Bledel puts in a characteristically strong performance as Ryden Malby, a young woman torn between dreams of her perfect job at a publishing company, the interests of a handsome neighbour, and the companionship of her childhood friend, Adam (Zach Gilford). Factor in the well-handled tender moments between Ryden and Adam, and there's all the makings of an interesting, moving film. Unfortunately 'Post Grad' never achieves the right balance. The film moves around far too fast, moving between tense, emotional scenes and daft family happenings, in a way that makes the film feel jerky and awkward. Things in 'Post Grad' never have the chance to settle or develop like they could do, before the tone is shifted; usually to some improbable scenario involving Ryden's rather annoying father. The film's zipping pace also means that none of the film's central issues really get the time they deserve. The twists and turns in Ryden and Adam's relationship are rushed over, and due to this, it's hard to really engage with either character, or their relationships. Equally, 'Post Grad''s comedic side leaves rather a lot to be desired. Gone is the nicely understated touch of Ryden's more personal moments, and instead the viewer is left with cats being run over, characters stepping in poo, and other such formulaic 'comedy'. For fans of Alexis Bledel, her performance here will make 'Post Grad' worth a watch, and in honesty, there are far worse films to pass the time with; it's just a shame 'Post Grad' didn't have some smarter jokes, a bit more time on developing its plot and characters, and a few less stereotypically 'batty' relatives breaking up the plot. Otherwise, I imagine I'd be sitting here giving it 3 or 4 stars.


Party Down: Season 1 [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Party Down: Season 1 [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £4.17

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Catering for lovers of smart comedy, 10 Jan. 2012
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Criminally overlooked in the UK so far, 'Party Down' is one of the funniest shows to come out of America in recent years. The show centers around the 'Party Down' catering team, as they work a series of events from pornographic awards ceremonies, to bitchy sweet sixteen parties, and perhaps most memorably, the party of a shady Eastern European criminal acquitted for murder, in a brilliant cameo from Steven Weber. The show is excellently written, full of witty one liners, awkwardly hilarious scenarios (mostly at the expense of Ken Marino's scattershot, but lovable 'team leader' Ron Donald), and comedic revelations. Perhaps the best facet of Season 1 though, is the superbly wrought romance between the beautiful Lizzy Kaplan's (Tru Calling) sarcastic but sweet Casey, and the show's protagonist, Henry. The mixture of funny and genuinely moving moments in the show is a pretty perfect one, and means that 'Party Down' never lacks either laughs, or a bit of heart to counterbalance them.

There are a few fallbacks to the show, however. The characters take a few episodes to become multi-dimensional, and it takes a while for Ron Donald (and his dream of opening a 'Super Crackers' franchise) to get going. That said, the opening episodes are still good fun, and well worth watching. Secondly, and more notably - the show was clearly rushing to replace the departing Jane Lynch, and her replacement, Jennifer Coolidge, is woeful as the irritating Bobbie; though thankfully a drunken Ron in his underpants more than makes up for her dreadful turn in the season finale. On the whole, 'Party Down' is an intelliigent, funny, and likeably low-key comedy which will appeal particularly to fans of shows like 'The Office (US)' and 'Arrested Development'; and despite a few misfires along the way, contains some of the best characters and most quotable dialogue of any recent US comedy series'.
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Romeo And Juliet [DVD] [1968]
Romeo And Juliet [DVD] [1968]
Dvd ~ Leonard Whiting
Offered by Love-Your-Books
Price: £6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What is a youth..., 6 Jan. 2012
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Poignant, operatic, and beautifully filmed, Zeffirelli's 'Romeo and Juliet' is one of the finest adaptations of Shakespeare's great love story. Though Zeffirelli's version has a traditional feel to it, with its timeless score, period setting, and exclusive use of Shakespeare's dialogue; the text retains only around a third of the actual speech of the play, and relies more on mood and effect than word. Though that element will not appeal to the purists, it isn't a hindrance, when the heartfelt, largely physical performances of the then-unknown leads Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whitling, are taken into account - and it tends to be the excess dialogue, as opposed to the play's finer and more integral lines, which are shelved by this version. The picturesque and beautifully framed cinematography, the film's performances as a whole (including a particularly excellent turn from Milo O'Shea as Romeo's father), and the overall feel of Zeffirelli's adaptation, mean that this is a film which holds up extremely well - and whilst there is a certain grandeur about this adaptation, it is not a film which ever feels forced, or over-the-top; with the exception of Pat Heywood's distracting, and mildly irritating turn as Juliet's Nurse.

There are a few faults with the film. The battle between Tybald and Malvolio is poorly handled by Zeffirelli. The scene moves too quickly from a kind of banter, to the final climax, and the swordfight between the two feels rather archaic and unrealistic. In a film which sets up an entirely believable landscape, this integral scene, stands out as deeply mishandled. Equally, there is Pat Heywood's aforementioned performance as Nurse, one which frustratingly overbears Hussey's brilliantly measured portrait of Juliet, in the scenes which the two share; and the fact that Juliet's mother is portrayed slightly too much as a strict caricature - which takes away Shakespeare's possibility of deeper character, in her portrayal. Still, these few faults do not take away significantly from what is an entertaining, excellently staged, and often highly moving portrait of "the greatest love story ever told".


The Mentalist Season 2 [DVD]
The Mentalist Season 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Simon Baker
Offered by Excess Gaming
Price: £8.37

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funda-mentally brilliant, 3 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: The Mentalist Season 2 [DVD] (DVD)
After the dramatic close of Season 1, it would be understandable if 'The Mentalist''s second season struggled to maintain the excitement of it's predecessor, but thankfully there are enough brilliantly plotted murders, intriguing CBI subplots, and, of course, Red John murders, to make Season 2 more than equal to the climax it followed. For the uninitiated (I'd suggest beginning by watching Season 1), the show centers around Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), a former TV 'psychic' regretful of his former career, who joins the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the murder of his wife and son by the serial killer Red John, an event which precedes Season 1 of the show. Jane's brilliant nouse for spotting clues, hints, and body-language giveaways make him an indispensable member of the team, but his erratic, gung-ho interviewing style, and interrogative questioning make him a frustration for his work colleagues - the no-nonsense Chief Inspector, Teresa Lisbon (Tunney), the quiet, brilliantly sarcastic Kimball Cho (Tim Kang), and the younger members of the team, Rigsby (Yeoman) and van Pelt (Righetti), whose first-season friendship, is interestingly developed, here.

Season 2 contains some of the very best episodes yet, from a Red John backed murder slew close to home ('His Red Right Hand'), to 'Aingavite Baa', a brilliant study of amnesia, fear and monetary greed, and on to another Red John-based thriller ('Red Sky in the Morning') to close the season off, even more dramatically than the first. The acting is top-notch, as well, with Baker the standout, though all the CBI figures, and most of the bit parts also put in good turns; especially Robin Tunney as the exasperated, but charming, Lisbon. Equally, the often dark and/or deadpan wit of the first season, largely provided by Jane and Cho is back in full force, and blends well with the bloodiness and the tragedy, of some of the cases the CBI are involved in. Though it's very rare I say this about a series, there seemed to be no real weak points in Season 2 of 'The Mentalist'. The one thing I found a little unrealistic, is that there seemed to be no characters who claimed innocence when interviewed within the CBI offices, and also few cases seemed to end with uncertainty (as is often the case in real murder trials) - but the fact that that's the only issue of note with this superb show, is a testament to how well written, well cast, and well plotted 'The Mentalist' is. You'd be mad not to watch.


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