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Shutter Island [DVD] (2010)
Shutter Island [DVD] (2010)
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: £2.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ....." which would be worse, to live as a monster, or to die as a good man? "....., 28 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Shutter Island [DVD] (2010) (DVD)
Leonardo Dicaprio teams up with Martin Scorsese in Shutter Island, a detective story revolving around the mysterious disappearance of a dangerous patient. After days of investigating, Detective Teddy Daniels becomes increasingly convinced that post war experiments are secretly being conducted at the institution.

In terms of setup; Scorsese's experience is evident. There is a sense of loneliness and wilderness portrayed in the cinematography. There is also a sense that something is not quite right and pieces of the jigsaw don't quite fit. The physical interior is spot on from the masterful Director, as he gets the audience to perceive the film the way he wants by drawing us in from the offset.

The film does drag slightly in the middle stages but we are always eager to find out what will happen next? Dicaprio does his character justice and plays a naïve and vulnerable detective to good measure. However the standout performance is without doubt that of Ben Kingsley as the head doctor, who is stern and edgy at the same time. Many people will initially find themselves drawn to the film due to fact that Scorsese is behind the lenses. However, it does not go down as one of Scorsese's best, as it sometimes lacks the kinetic energy we would associate with his other films.

Without giving anything away - the final twist may seem clever and plausible in the context of the overall proceedings, but it has been done before and it's not altogether original, hence does not break any new barriers. The script does carry a lot of weight and yes it may demand repeat viewing so that we can pick up all the little clues from the beginning, but it is not the strongest psychological thriller around. However the emotional elements should not be underestimated and the film does deserve your examination.

Shutter Island is not a great film but it is well crafted, possesses layers of intrigue and raises some questions especially towards the end. This does the film more good than bad as it shows its substance, complexity and creates talking points. It seems that the continuous ambiguity is a blessing in disguise.

The Infidel [2010] [DVD]
The Infidel [2010] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Omid Djalili

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ....." why didn't they just call you Jewe-jew-jew-jew-jew and be done with it? "....., 19 Dec. 2010
This review is from: The Infidel [2010] [DVD] (DVD)
The Infidel stars Iranian comedian Omid Djalili as a Pakistani Muslim who suffers an identity crisis after finding out that he was in fact adopted and his real parents are Jewish.

Written by David Baddiel, The Infidel is a multi-faith comedy and on first thoughts we would expect a physical slap stick affair, especially with Djalili as the main lead. Even though the premise is potentially hilarious; this is in fact a down to earth and gritty film with serious undertones. Don't get me wrong - it is still a kosher comedy, with a professional comedian as its main protagonist, well paced and with its fair share of highlights. It is also a physically detailed film, which is admirable and there are also some good cameos. Surprisingly however it is not a laugh out loud film and most of the jokes are dry and witty. Also surprising is that there are plenty of emotionally charged scenes, which ultimately test the acting skills of the lead cast.

The Infidel has its heart in the right place and is far more tactful than previous films like East is East and Bhaji on the Beach. It strikes a balance between all subject matters and celebrates our similarities rather than our differences. The director ensures that the film remains inventive throughout, and even though the ending isn't altogether clever and the script is weak in places; we will be quick to forgive the film for any shortcomings.

It is worth watching, even though it is not a major breakthrough in Anglo-South Asian film-making or even in the comedy genre as a whole. Perhaps its major achievement is that it touches on sensitive issues without offending anyone and also proves that Omid Djalili can successfully participate in character driven drama as well as comedy.

Maradona [DVD]
Maradona [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emir Kusturica
Price: £10.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ....." I'm an actor; I live life the way I want to live it "....., 22 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Maradona [DVD] (DVD)
Maradona - the documentary details the life of probably the greatest ever footballer through the eyes of filmmaker Emir Kusturica.

This is not a film showcasing Maradona's career from start to finish. There is an initial proviso for watching this documentary, which is that you must already be aware of his foot-balling contributions. You must be willing to accept that he is the greatest player of all time. This is because the filmmaker shares this very opinion and so do the rest of the people in this documentary. There are no comparisons to players such as Garrincha, George Best or even Eusebio; in fact no other player is ever mentioned. Instead it highlights his life after his football career ended and is mixed with renaissance, redemption and political issues alike. You get to see Maradona the person, Maradona the so called `god' like figure and the family man. It mainly focuses on the time he gained weight and was hospitalised during 2004. The life of Maradona is dealt with in a highly subjective manner and is more of a fusion between the Director's own philosophy and that of Maradona's `current' life.

Yes it is flawed and despite it being not quite what you would expect, it is still an enjoyable film and the unconventional nature of the filmmaker, coupled with his narration - is at times refreshing. You do get to see footage of some of his goals and the `goal of the century' is repeated throughout the film - but with a slight twist! There are also some scenes of Emir Kusturica's other films which are carefully constructed into the documentary so they look to fit the purpose.

This is in fact a raw film; its independent cinema which does not set out to please anyone. As a viewer you may not gain any real further knowledge on Maradona, but the sheer unadulterated footage is still great insight. The key point the film makes is to open our eyes to the tremendous and god like following one former footballer has in his home country. It shows living proof of this. The goings on at the Church of Maradona are delved into, and again further proves that the scale of the following is both shocking and awe-inspiring.

Football may be a religion in the South American neck of the woods but the popularity of the documentary is sure to extend further to an audience beyond the average football fanatic.

Four Lions - Special Edition [DVD]
Four Lions - Special Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ Riz Ahmed
Price: £10.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ....." Soph, I can't even get them to stir their tea without smashing a window "....., 23 Oct. 2010
Chris Morris's first feature length film is dubbed a jihadi satire in a day and age where the term lacks clarity and credit must be given to him for taking on this subject. Four Lions revolves around four young British Asians who plan on blowing themselves up through a terrorist act. They face many problems along the way, including their own shortcomings.

A super charged script perfectly depicts the chemistry between the main characters, who give razor sharp performances, most noticeably Riz Ahmed and the `Peter Kay-esque' Nigel Lindsay. The semi documentary style makes the events look incredibly real with the corner shops and `Kebabish' takeaways presenting a familiar environment to us all.

As the minutes pass by, the film intensifies and becomes more enjoyable in the second half. This may seem inappropriate for a movie about suicide bombers planning on killing innocent civilians, but Chris Morris does succeed in showing their human side and not merely as robotic beings. Morris had no other choice but to portray the bombers in such a way in order for it to work as a comedy as well as a serious study of current affairs. The film also succeeds in exhibiting the frightening undertones; as the protagonists seem oblivious to the fact that they will kill innocent people, and are relatively easy with the idea of at least of killing themselves in the process.

The mix of humour and serious issues run simultaneously and hence you may find it difficult to gather your thoughts at first and fully appreciate the jokes in one take. However a second serving should further illustrate that this is an extremely funny and excellent film and there is no other way to put it.

Given the subject, viewers will be cautious, it seems insane, but believable and (I hate to repeat this word again but...) stupendously funny at the same time. It has many laugh out loud moments, yet does not lose its sense of suspense.

The extras are short but carry a great deal of weight, all deleted scenes are worth checking out and so is the hard hitting segment on a small Lancashire town called Nelson. Equally compelling is the interview with a former terrorist suspect, it tackles real issues which should serve as a wake up call for contemporary Britain.

Four Lions is uneasy territory and Chris Morris is not reserved in his script and storyline hence making this a controversial film of sorts. However the satire is still subtle, ultra sharp and deep rooted and will only be fully un-covered on repeat viewing, and this is all down to the very evident factors that make Chris Morris a genius razor sharp provocateur in the first place.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2011 2:28 PM BST

Boys From Brazil: The Official History of the Brazilian World Cup Team 1930-1986 [DVD]
Boys From Brazil: The Official History of the Brazilian World Cup Team 1930-1986 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Niall Sloane
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £4.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Bring on the samba..........., 17 Oct. 2010
Boys from Brazil is a BBC football documentary narrated by John Motson. It reviews Brazil's World Cup campaigns from the inaugural tournament of 1930 through to 1986.

It's a fascinating and mouth watering prospect to watch the greatest foot-balling nation of all time playing in the elite competition over the years. The documentary is one hour twenty minutes in length, well presented, easy to follow and with constant references. You can only admire the host of legendary former players such as Garrincha, Zico, Rivelino, Socrates, Pele and Jairzinho. Pele himself is much of the focus and anyone who wasn't around when he was in his prime will benefit greatly. The footage that I found more interesting than any other was that of Garrincha, and for me he may have been better than Pele. Although I rate Pele as one of the greatest strikers of all time, I don't know whether the same can be said about him being the greatest player per say.

Anyone looking for a thorough analysis of Brazilian football through this period will be disappointed. Anyone looking for interviews, player reactions and the general consensus `off' the pitch will also be disappointed. Boys from Brazil is essentially a World Cup review and almost entirely consisting of highlights from Brazil's main matches up until 1986. However this content should not be underestimated as it contains the original commentary and proves that even where Brazil did not succeed, there were many close encounters. The key footage is of course that of the 1970 World Cup where Brazil showcased the greatest single squad of players ever to grace a football pitch, and hence a must watch. They became the greatest side ever to win a World Cup, but ironically the later 1982 squad became the greatest side ever `not' to win the World Cup! Other noticeable highlights are the Brazil v Italy 1982 classic and also the Brazil v France 1986 match.

Watching Brazil play football is like watching ballet - and I'm sure footage of the post 1986 era would have been no different. There is a great deal to be learnt from this documentary, especially for those who were young enough not to witness Brazil in this period. The layout and approach to this programme may seem dated and the picture quality is sometimes not up to scratch. The main feature should really have been given a DVD make over and should also have been in widescreen. However the importance and quality of the actual football highlights make up for the shortcomings and is something every sports fans should witness, making Boys from Brazil essential viewing.

Cemetery Junction [DVD] [2010]
Cemetery Junction [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Christian Cooke
Offered by b68solutions
Price: £3.49

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ......" Freddie, stop listening to music made by poofs, stick on some Elton John "......, 18 Sept. 2010
Cemetery Junction is about a group of working class friends in 70s Reading, who are stuck in a rut and trying to find ways to prosper. All of them end up experiencing defining moments that dictate their eventual routes in life.

The 70s must have been an interesting era to grow up in especially where some of the greatest films were made in this decade, the greatest football team ever (Brazil) won the World Cup, the emergence of `total' football under Johan Cruyff and vast social change also beckoned. I was looking forward to a film which tackles this period but Gervais's vision is one close to him with a more idealist approach consisting of long summers and good looking twenty some things.

The directing is impressive and the retro cinematography is pleasing on the eye with plenty of brown wallpaper and Brylcreem. Some of the scenes are stylished perfectly but the technical factors, cool soundtrack, Merchant's miniature cameo as well as Jack Doolan are the only redeeming features in Gervais's debut.

Ricky Gervais expressed his desire to deliberately make a film which glamorises 70s Reading, but that does not make up for the fact that the film is predictable and damn right depressing. Each character is pigeon holed and the script is wafer thin. All actors are going through the motions and there is no subtlety. It is essentially a feel good movie but the poignancy is overworked to say the least. It is difficult to see what the purpose of this film is exactly.

Since the brilliant The Office, Ricky Gervais had faltered with his so called stand up performances and Steve Merchant being the only class act in Extra's alongside `Barry from East-enders'. The letdown continues in his next venture - Cemetery Junction, as its comedy misses the mark painfully on nearly every occasion. It is simply not a funny film and this is Merchant's and Gervais's biggest single failure and proves that they got too many important things wrong. Instead, the dialogue is border-line ageist, dull and monotonous.

Doolan's successful attempt at singing in the Annual Ball is the main highlight and the film may have its heart in the right place, but ultimately the commercial approach results in a deeply stilted movie.

Wanted [DVD]
Wanted [DVD]
Dvd ~ Angelina Jolie
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.75

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ......" do you make sweaters, or do you kill people? "......, 5 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Wanted [DVD] (DVD)
Wanted is about an elusive assassin group called The Fraternity, who abides by a secret code when ascertaining the next target. Problems arise when a highly decorated associate turns against the organisation, and steps are put in place to recruit a new member in order to track him down.

Angelina Jolie continues where she left off with her `girl power' image. Her Lara Croft and Mr & Mrs Smith antics are clearly evident in this film. Loose comparisons can also be made to Fight Club, due to the chief protagonist being a social outcast trying to find out who he really is. You could say that this Jolie's very own version of the 90s classic as it tackles materialism and trivial human existence, in comparison to a fearless/limitless outlook.

Wanted does have shades of the Matrix in its action, but it also asserts its own unique style which is a mix of slo-mo and intense jump cutting or something of that sort. Yes it is short on theory and human emotion but it is ultimately an action film. As an action flick it is certainly first-rate. The action is OTT and surreal to say the least but the film successfully depicts ordinary existence intermingled with the edgy, dynamic life of a trained assassin. It's clear that an accessible visual feast was what the filmmakers had in mind and maybe it's not meant to make total sense.

The storyline is deceptively simple to follow and the film oozes kinetic energy to the extent that the one hour fourty minutes will fly by faster than a swerving bullet coming out of James McAvoy's gun. McAvoy himself gives a solid convincing performance as the naïve new recruit for The Fraternity, and his facial expressions really do bring out the intended vulnerability.

It's a neat film which is extremely fluid and not long winded. Highly stylished and the premise may seem familiar, but it is still somehow refreshing. The final twist (intriguing as it may be), may also prove a point of exposing the thin line between good and bad, hence adding some tangible substance to the overall proceedings.

Manchester United: End Of Season Review 2007/2008 [DVD]
Manchester United: End Of Season Review 2007/2008 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Manchester United Fc
Offered by InGames&DVDs
Price: £9.50

4.0 out of 5 stars The Ronaldo Show.........., 29 Aug. 2010
The Manchester United 2007/08 season is widely regarded as their best season since the historic treble of 1999. Manchester United not only won the Premier League but also the Champions League and hence won `the double'.

The main highlight of the DVD is without doubt Cristiano Ronaldo's 42 goals. After a slow start to the season which consisted of 1-0 score lines and Ronaldo being red carded - the season finally erupted when Ronaldo, Tevez, Nani and Rooney started to fire goals at will. Ronaldo's apologetic celebration at Lisbon and his wonderful free kick against Portsmouth are key moments, as well as beating Barcelona through a Paul Scholes strike in the semi final of the Champions League. Ronaldo was the best footballer in the world at the time and it's great to see him at the height of his career during this season.

The presentation of the DVD is impressive. The picture is sharp and clear and every month is shown in chronological order. We get to see the Carling Cup, FA Cup and Champion's League highlights as well as the Premier League itself. At the end of every month we are shown United's position in the Premier league table. All interviews and comments are inter-linked within the actual review and not as a DVD extra and this is beneficial to our viewing. We get to hear from Sir Alex, Ferdinand, Owen Hargreaves and many others. The review is nearly two and a half hours long and there is also a `Ronaldo's goals' feature as a separate bonus segment, as well as a fitting tribute to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the form of a five minute feature. The menu is user friendly as you have an option to select individual games through the chapters option.

The only negative point is the fact that we are shown the final score of each game before the actual game highlights begin, and this spoils it for anyone who doesn't know the final score, even though it's from a past season. It would have been better to display the final score at the end of each game, with date, venue and team information only at the beginning.

This DVD is really for Manchester United fans only, and for them it is a must buy. Winning the Champions League is far more prestigious than winning the FA Cup, Carling Cup or the now Europa League. Even though The Treble of 1999 DVD is more universal, and for all football fans no matter who you support, the 2007/08 season is still remarkable in its content and presentation.

Harsh Times [DVD]
Harsh Times [DVD]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Offered by FREETIME
Price: £2.76

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ......" I'm a soldier of the apocalypse, man! "......, 21 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Harsh Times [DVD] (DVD)
Harsh times is a film about two close knit friends in South Central LA who are both hoping for career defining moments so that they can turn a new leaf. However, things don't go according to plan, and with their lives in grave danger; question marks are raised over their friendship.

As an audience we follow Jim Davis and Mike Alonzo (played by Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriguez) doing their day to day tasks which involve many close to the edge encounters. Improvisation is evident and this makes Harsh Times a free flowing and edgy film with no constructive story.

It's grainy and almost documentary like, and the main driving force is the endless suspense and mystery, thanks largely to Bales excellent portrayal of a semi psychotic former solider. This is his film and he is in almost every scene. With strong support from a stellar cast, including some interesting cameo performances from Terry Crews and others; there is enough reinvention to warrant the interest the film deserves. Don't be fooled by the LA `street life' premise as this is a film for a wider audience and is definitely substance over style. The anticipated fast editing and loud bass boxes are replaced by serious, emotionally charged and character driven acting.

With some good surprises along the way Harsh Times is ultimately bleak and engrossing. The ending doesn't do the film any justice but at least it does raise question marks on the future of Mike Alonzo, and hence gives us something to think about. It may not be the sum of all its parts and Eva Longeria may not have been given enough screen time but this is a hard hitting film with Bale at his absolute blistering best, making it his greatest performance since The Machinist.

American Psycho [DVD] [2000]
American Psycho [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Offered by streetsahead
Price: £3.75

4.0 out of 5 stars ......" I like to dissect girls, did you know I'm utterly insane? "......, 15 Aug. 2010
This review is from: American Psycho [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
American psycho is set in the late 1980s and stars Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, a wealthy vice president of a Wall Street firm. Extremely competitive and lacking empathy, Bateman enjoys a stress free life of fine dining and other earthly pleasures. However he also a flip side which he now find increasingly difficult to hide............

The film has all the hallmarks of a suspenseful serial killer film. It is very eerie and there is a lot of physical and psychological detail to it. It's also about materialism, so expect many spiffy cast members in designer suits. Many parts of the film are under played and subtle. Having said that, some parts make for graphic viewing, ranging from experimental threesomes to Bateman running stark naked, fully armed with a chainsaw! Make no mistake - the filmmakers make it clear from the offset that they intend to tackle the subject matter fully. Surprisingly it is also very funny and can class itself as a black comedy.

The main question arising is - is Bateman a killer? The answer is yes he probably is but not every murder is real, some are imagined. This is because the film has patches of near mythical scenes lacking logic and these give away the fact that Bateman is also a dreamer. American Psycho turns out to be an unsolved jigsaw puzzle and without doubt proves the level of insanity experienced by Bateman.

Immensely watchable and working on so many levels, it's a clever film similar to the now famous TV programme - Dexter. The reason the filmmakers deserve so much credit is because a more straight forward method could have been successfully followed, but having adopted this particular approach and with so much conviction; demonstrates that initiative has been shown.

Christian Bale's performance is excellent and just like his exterior; it's tidy and sharp. It's not his first film, but it is the film that introduced him as a bankable actor. His performance is possibly only bettered by his later roles in The Machinist and Harsh Times. It proves that along with Edward Norton he is one of the greatest actors of his generation at least.

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