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Mr. J. R. Burkes "james-burr"

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The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button [DVD] [2009]
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Brad Pitt
Price: 2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but not brilliant., 10 Sep 2009
Many reviewers here have complained of the long running time and looking back at this film it perhaps could have been 20 minutes or so shorter. That said, I didn't find myself looking at my watch at any point so I don't think the length of the film is the real problem.

There are two things that bothered me about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The first (and most minor point) is the much-lauded special effects. Yes, the morphing of Brad Pitt's head onto a wizened body is spectacular as is the seamless portrayal of fortysomething Pitt as a young man barely in his twenties. But I felt the makeup lost its way somewhere around middle age. There was a point in the film when the two characters were supposed to be in their mid 40s (as Pitt and Blanchett are in real life, I think) but as the two people in question are Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt they looked a good ten years younger, something which I think the Director picked up on as he had both characters explicitly state their ages at this point in the film. Also at one point Daisy is bemoaning aging and is supposed to be somewhere in her late 40s yet she still looks as gorgeous as she did when she was supposedly twenty five years younger. This also meant she had to then age far too rapidly in the ten year period between Pitt being 20 and 10. But these are minor quibbles - most of the effects are superb - not just the well-known aging / deaging effects but the scenes set in period Paris, New York and New Orleans.

The main problem for me (and this is a purely subjective thing) was the echoes of Forrest Gump. Now I liked Forrest Gump but one is enough for me. There are too many Gumpisms in the film from every character being "a character" of the types that makes life enriching, to the little "down-home" wisdom that characters deliver in a stilted, somewhat simplistic drawl. It also doesn't help that neither main charcater is particularly involving - especially Benjamin Button himself - who is very much like Forrest Gump with a handful of extra IQ points. This is entirely down to the script as Pitt proves he is a great actor; Benjamin Button is completely unlike Tyler Durden or the lunatic in Twelve Monkeys or the naive cop in Seven. Yet Button mooches his way through life like a charisma-void drawling Gumpisms until he is too young to speak anymore.

However, I've so far focussed on what I didn't like about the film probably because they were so easy to put right and because they did mar a film that I actually enjoyed a lot. The score is beautiful as is the direction and cinematography. The acting performances are uniformly excellent and it is very affecting. But again, there were problems here that came wholly from the script. As with Forrest Gump I did find myself welling up a few times. And as with Forrest Gump I somehow felt as if I was being manipulated by the film makers as I did so.

Still, I would definitely recommend this film to other people (and if you loved Forrest Gump then all the better - this film is definitely for you!) and would certainly watch it again.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace [DVD] [1999]
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Ewan McGregor
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: 9.73

21 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dire, 10 May 2009
Awful. Just awful. Badly directed, flabby script. Jar Jar Binks. Wooden acting. Jar Jar Binks. WAY too much CGI. Jar Jar Binks. Darth Vader as a cute, poorly acting child. Jar Jar Binks. Scenes ripped wholesale from the other Star Wars movies (podracing etc). Jar Jar Binks. Overt racism.

Oh yes. And Jar Jar Binks.


The Zombie Diaries [2006] [DVD]
The Zombie Diaries [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Russell Jones
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: 11.36

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 10 May 2009
While lovers of all things zombie can find things to like in this movie, it's ultimately a pretty poor effort.

The acting is variable (one guy makes Keanu Reeves look like John Gielgud), the script is flawed and it is difficult to judge as a film as it just comes across as a student film project. So rather than shuddering with fear at the mouldering undead, you find yourelf thinking, "Yowch, that guy is a bad actor. Couldn't they find someone else?" or "Considering they've got a 100 budget these zombies look pretty good!". And that is what is so sad about this film. The film-makers cope admirably with the problems of a low budget; the make-up is great, there are some nice shots of empty streets and so on, and there's even a military incursion (by a real Army platoon!). But where it comes apart is the bit that is unhindered by budget - the script, which is deeply flawed. Of the three stories, the second is ultimately pointless and in none of the stories do you care about (or even get to know) the characters. It also has absolutely nothing new to say about zombies - there is no new take on them, no new perspective. It's taken as read that these are shuffling Romero zombies who are dead and can only be stopped with head shots despite the fact that the zombie plague is caused by some kind of flu virus a la 28 Days Later. And while the SFX are great, the budgetary restrictions do mean you rarely see more than three or four at a time, and "shufflers" aren't exactly scary unless there is a horde of them or as another reviewer said, you are trapped with them in a confined space (and sadly 90% of this film takes place in woodland and fields).

Worth watching if you like zombie movies, but really this is something that if an amateur film-maker friend of yours showed you, you'd be impressed by, but judged by "professional" standards is distinctly below par. (That said, it is stil better than the later Romero steadicam-zombie film, "Diary of The Dead", although that is rather damning with faint praise rather than saying anything good about this particular film).

Atonement [DVD] [2007]
Atonement [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Keira Knightley
Price: 3.48

3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Deeply flawed, 10 May 2009
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This is a very strange film. There are some great perforances in it (notably from James Mcavoy and Vanessa Redgrave) and it is stunningly shot - the direction is superb and the cinematography is excellent; truly one of the most beautiful looking films I've seen in years.

Yet... considering this is based on an award-winning novel, the plot or lack of it) is what really lets the film down. About 90 minutes in and still very little had happened, then the last 30 minutes break all the rules by having to have someone explain what it's all about at the end and (and it's already been mentioned by others so I'm not spoilering) then having this talking head tell us that a large chunk of the film didn't really happen. The central love story never develops and instead we are suposed to realise how in love they are by having others tell us rather than showing it, resulting in its being completely uninvolving so that you're left with the strange sensation that you should care about what has happened, yet you don't. In addition, the music makes clever use of sound effects which leaves you marvelling at the artistry of the score even as it distracts you from what is (barely) happening.

It's also very slow paced, confusing at times and ultimately pretty damn boring, despite the fact that it's beautiful to look at.

Utimately, a beautiful yet strangely cold film that is utterly uninvolving and unconvincing. Recommended to aspiring cinematographers, but otherwise a rather dull, plodding, and ultimately pointless affair.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2009 3:38 PM BST

Lead Balloon : Complete BBC Series 1 [DVD]
Lead Balloon : Complete BBC Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jack Dee
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 8.08

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets better once you know the characters, 26 Dec 2008
It's very unfair to describe "Lead Balloon" as a fifth rate "Curb Your Enthusiasm." To be more accurate, it's a second rate "Curb Your Enthusiasm", which means that while it doesn't reach the dizzying heights of Larry David's show it's still one of the best sitcoms on TV at the moment.

Like "Curb" it relies on the social ineptitude of its lead (and the spiraling consequences of his actions) for its laughs, but while it lacks Larry David's spark of genius it has something "Curb" doesn't - an equally well-rounded supporting cast. Magda is a great character as is the dopey Ben and witty American sidekick. And the passive-aggressive cafe owners's performance is a joy to watch. So while "Lead Balloon" may not reach classic status it's certainly bears watching repeatedly and is a welcome addition to anyone's DVD collection.

Southland Tales [DVD]
Southland Tales [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dwayne Johnson
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: 3.69

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A flawed, but beautiful, mess., 2 Aug 2008
This review is from: Southland Tales [DVD] (DVD)
Whilst many of the reviews I'd seen for this film were resoundingly negative, I was a big fan of Donnie Darko and I noticed that many of the people who liked it referred to other artists I liked such as Philip.K. Dick and David Lynch when discussing this film. So I took a gamble and ordered it.

And indeed, the reviews here on Amazon are right. Yes, all of them. This isn't just a Marmite movie, which people either love or hate, it's a movie that has so many strengths and weaknesses that it's possible to have any, and all, opinions about it simultaneously.

The cast have received unfair criticism. While I've never been a fan of either the Rock or Seann William Scott, they turn in solid, affecting performances as do other "lightweight" actors like Sarah Michelle Gellar, Justin Timberlake and a wonderfully creepy Jon Lovitz. Similarly, the cinematography and direction are excellent - every shot is wonderfully framed. However, even here limitations in Kelly's style are evident - there are several examples of the "slow motion / wandering" camera that he used to great effect in Darko, and uses again here. It IS great, but one has to wonder how limited his directorial vocabulary if his style is already so evident after only two films. The musical interludes, are again, as in Darko, beautifully filmed and the score is a mood-enhancing, integral part of the movie. And the SFX are excellent.

So a joy to look at, with an interesting cast on top form. However, where the film falls down is the script. It's ambitious, yes, which is always a bonus. And there are some nice allusions to literature and music. But overall it has a hotchpotch of a plot that seems to have been so big and sprawling that it got away from Kelly and he was unable to get far enough away from the film to see it as a whole, resulting in an incoherent mess that has no meaning, which then tries to hide behind this lack of meaning by pretending it's some kind of cinematic collage, claiming that, "Ah, but the meaning is here - it's just opaque. Just try and see it, if you are bright enough."

Unfortunately, as others have said there is a very strong element of Emperor's New Clothes, here - even Mulholland Drive and PKD's novels had SOME sense of meaning to them. Unfortunately, there isn't one to this film. Indeed, even in the sole DVD Extra, a "Making of featurette", several of the stars claim that they have no idea what the film is about, Lovitz seeming to think that as his individual scenes made sense that there must be some hidden meaning to the film as a whole that he can not grasp. And this is where the film falls down. Someone in the production should have sat Kelly down and actually asked him what he was trying to do with Southland Tales. Instead, everyone seems to have just assumed that he knew what he was doing and that there was some hidden meaning to it all. There isn't.

So worth seeing, then but certainly not the work of genius that many have tried to claim.

Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Philip K. Dick
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best novels of the 20th Century..., 15 Nov 2001
The above line is not just hyperbole! Often overlooked in favour of his more famous works such as "Bladerunner" or "Man in The High Castle", "Flow My Tears...." is, in my opinion Dick's finest novel. It has all the usual reality twists you expect with Dick, but is also one of the truest and most honest explorations of Love you will ever see, whether it be filial, sexual or metaphysical. A truly brilliant novel.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2008 7:25 PM BST

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