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R. Morley (UK)

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Wind Rises - Double Play [Blu-ray + DVD]
Wind Rises - Double Play [Blu-ray + DVD]
Dvd ~ Hayao Miyazaki
Price: £14.99

15 of 46 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Wind Rises, 18 May 2014
This has received some good reviews, but personally I don't think it lives up to them. A young Japanese man follows his ambition of creating beautiful aircraft, and so trains as an aeronautical engineer during the inter-war years. His dreams are, however, overshadowed by the possibility that his creations could be used for destructive purposes during World War II.

But despite having these serious undertones the film winds up feeling rather slight. The central character is dull, and rather one-dimensional in his tireless good temper and complete self-assurance. There is also an unnecessary love story, which could not be more saccharine if the two lovers were to sleep on a bed of sugarcane at night. The story around the aeroplanes is of more interest and there is some nice visual design, but sadly the script feels somewhat stale and lacking in maturity - making you wonder how effectively the translation from Japanese has been carried out.

Unfortunately, for me The Wind Rises is not so much a full-blown hurricane, but a mere rustling of the leaves.
Comment Comments (20) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2015 4:59 PM BST

One Foot in the Grave Complete Series 1 - 6 Plus Christmas Specials Box Set [DVD] [1990]
One Foot in the Grave Complete Series 1 - 6 Plus Christmas Specials Box Set [DVD] [1990]
Dvd ~ Richard Wilson
Price: £13.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “Send more bees?!!”, 9 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Back in 2004, One Foot in the Grave came just 10th in a series that set out to find ‘Britain’s Best Sitcom’. I remember being surprised by this, as what we have here is without doubt one of the cleverest, funniest and downright surreal pieces of programming ever. The only possible explanation for One Foot not being ranked at no. 1 is a style of humour perhaps of a more challenging kind when compared to something like Only Fools.

Victor Meldrew is a man in his 60s, ousted from his job and thrown onto the ‘scrapheap of life’, the shadow of mortality now looming ever more presciently over him. The strange and hilarious situations he finds himself in, struggling to find meaning in his new life of retirement, are a reflection of the absurdity of our own small lives. Anyone of any age can relate to the trials and tribulations of Victor and his wife Margaret, as writer David Renwick explores to the fullest the maxim ‘hell is other people’. Tedious characters like Nick Swainey along with the ‘gibbering old bat’ Mrs Warboys are not dissimilar to the sort of people we all have to put up with every day. Meldrew’s moaning about them is a very human catharsis, and a delight for the audience, as he says the things we all want to say.

One of the most distinctive features of One Foot in the Grave is it’s much talked about ‘dark’ humour. When a dead cat shows up in the freezer as early as episode 3, it is hard to disagree that this may be an edgier affair than your average sitcom. The utterly maddening bit-part characters Ronnie & Mildred are later used to stark shock effect during a particularly morbid scene. This black comedy is made all the more effective by the sharp scripts, but the other masterstroke is the amount of visual humour deployed. From grumpy snowmen to ‘grinning’ television aerials, Renwick makes the most of the televised format, creating a unique and bizarre world – and all this right in the middle of quaint English suburbia. It is a sublime mix of the mundane alongside the absurd, and it gives the programme a depth that is rare in this genre.

I received this set as a gift a couple of years ago, and was laughing for about the next two weeks as I made my way through each series chronologically. One Foot in the Grave is excellent from the very beginning, right through to the final episode with its inevitable conclusion. Other sitcoms are sullied by inconsistent quality or naff specials – but not so here. Every step of Victor Meldrew’s journey to the grave has been mapped to be savoured again and again.

Nokia 6303I Classic Sim Free Mobile Phone - Black/Silver
Nokia 6303I Classic Sim Free Mobile Phone - Black/Silver

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A phone for people that want a phone to be a phone, 29 Jun. 2013
I've had my 6303 for close to 4 years now, and I can't fault it. If you want a no-nonsense phone that's easy to use, this is perfect.

I primarily use my 6303 for calling and texting, and here it excels due to its large, clear screen and straightforward navigation. It feels like a solidly made, quality product, and the slim design means it fits easily into any pocket.

Battery life is very good, and the 3.2 megapixel camera is certainly good enough for my purposes (namely flogging stuff on eBay). Aesthetically it works too, particularly in the black/silver colour scheme - sleek, but compact and unpretentious.

In today's age of mind-boggling tech, it's nice to have something as dependable and headache-free as a 6303 in my life. A common sense purchase.

In The Future
In The Future
Price: £8.68

5.0 out of 5 stars A Journey Back to the Primordial Mountain, 19 May 2013
This review is from: In The Future (Audio CD)
One of the very best bands of recent years, Black Mountain's music echoes with rumours of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, but at the same time has a distinctly North American flavour that is all their own. This particular album is, in my opinion, worthy of mention alongside those aforementioned greats. If you're new to the band, the journey should start right here.

The sound is as beautifully raw as a Rocky Mountain hillside, but there is black magic sophistication at work here too. Take Wucan, a heavy psychedelic trip with ghostly vocals and a bass line that pulsates like the sun. Then there is the extremely gorgeous acoustic number Stay Free, the like of which brings balance to an album laced elsewhere with towering riffs and bruising, Bonham-esque drumming.

The most ambitious piece of this magnificent work is Bright Lights, a 16-minute tour-de-force that challenges on first listen, but is handled with such skill that it never quite strays off the precipice. In The Future is heavy in a refreshing, non-contrived way - the talented musicians always allowing both music and listener, to breathe, even as the deepest recesses of the mind are penetrated.

This album could pass as a lost 70s gem, but in reality is as timeless as the best works from that golden era. In the sparse, Ballardian imagery it conjures, it resonates loudly with the primeval human soul. It is this, along with exceptional musicianship, which marks In The Future as a rarity.

Pulp Fiction  [1994] [Blu-ray]
Pulp Fiction [1994] [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Uma Thurman
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: £6.33

3 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pap Fiction, 18 Mar. 2013
This film's popularity mystifies me. It is such an obvious case of style over substance, but even the style is absent. The 'whip-smart' dialogue is the worst kind of American drivel, and there are whole scenes where the characters talk about literally nothing of interest, or even anything to drive the (slow, largely non-existant) story along. Travolta / Jackson try so very hard to be cool with their silly hair, but much like the rest of the cast they are hard to take seriously in their roles. The discussions about burgers I found particularly riveting.

The film doesn't even have the good grace to come to a swift conclusion, instead dragging on and on and on over the two and a half hour duration, in which there is not a single likeable or realistic character in sight. No doubt Tarantino thinks his convoluted style of storytelling is extremely clever, but it is in fact extremely tiresome, much like the gratuitous levels of violence and swearing along with the irritating soundtrack.

Most embarassing of all is that you get the sense Pulp Fiction is intended as a 'vivid' slice of real-life, but the whole thing is so painfully fake, so painfully one-dimensional, so painfully unfunny, that it ends up being... well, painful. It's precisely as pretentious and unappealing as the cover would suggest.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 7, 2014 4:14 PM BST

Sightseers [DVD] [2012]
Sightseers [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Alice Lowe
Price: £5.56

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "He's ruined the tram museum for me now", 26 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Sightseers [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
I'm with some of the previous reviewers - this was also my favourite film of 2012. This story of a slightly unusual couple who set off on a caravanning trip in their innocuous Volvo estate is both riotously funny and disturbing at the same time.

The vengeful lack of remorse in Chris' eyes following the first (accidental) killing is no doubt something that many of us relate to on some degree, and this gives the film a real edge. As shocking and gruesome as their subsequent murders are, we can't help being drawn into the character's world, a world where you suspect that picking off those who annoy us could be rather good fun indeed...

There is so much to admire about this film on all levels. Beyond the fine acting (the midlands accents are beautiful in themselves), sharp script and properly dark humour, the film also impresses by capturing the majesty of the unspoiled pockets of rural England. And further icing on the cake is evident in the smartly chosen soundtrack, which permeates the 90-odd minutes with an unsettling vibe. Even the Frankie Goes to Hollywood number 'The Power of Love' is used to stunning wry comic effect, simultaneously evoking real pathos to accompany your growing smirk.

Sightseers is a portrayal of the unbalanced characters that exist on the fringes of our society, a demographic now largely forgotten by mainstream culture. It's precisely the kind of film we excel at here in Britain, giving life to the vices and desires of the black sheep of our flock. I look forward to its forthcoming home release, which if nothing else will provide a stark reminder to show the correct reverence for quirky English tourist attractions.

The Hobbit
The Hobbit
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the All-time Classics, 24 May 2012
This review is from: The Hobbit (Paperback)
I loved it as a ten-year-old, and with the trailer for Peter Jackson's film having got me all excited, I decided to re-read this charming classic, and came to the conclusion that I love it still! Tolkien totally immerses the reader in his Middle-Earth setting, from quaint hobbit villages to goblin tunnels and enchanted forests, to towns built upon a lake in the shadow of a lone mountain and the lair of the dragon - it's a perfect piece of fantasy escapism.

While 'The Hobbit' is often labelled as a children's book, anyone of any age will be enthralled by this novel. It is so much more than simply a prelude to the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, and is none the worse for it's easier-going style. In fact I've always thought it to be the more enjoyable story.

Submarine [DVD]
Submarine [DVD]
Dvd ~ Craig Roberts
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £5.45

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Highlight Of 2011 With A Real Cult Feel, 13 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Submarine [DVD] (DVD)
A very British film with a very British, quirky sense of humour, courtesy of first-time director Richard Ayoade. Oliver Tate is an individual boy with a passion for expanding his vocabulary, who hilariously exhibits the teenage concoction of arrogance and insecurity. Along with suffering the usual perils of school life, Oliver also has bigger issues to contend with. Firstly, the declining health of the mother of his enigmatic love interest, and second, the dwindling passion amid the dying relationship between his parents. The story follows Oliver in his quest to find solutions to both these problems.

'Submarine' features wonderful cinematography, making the most of the raw beauty of the Welsh setting. Complementing this is a superb soundtrack by Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys fame, which could not have been better suited to the picture.

Anyone who enjoys alternative British film will revel in Ayoade's creation. The direction includes some clever hypothetical scenes, such as where Oliver fantasizes over the grieving ranks of relatives, friends and schoolgirls at his own funeral. In fact there are so many laugh-out-loud moments, with each member of the cast delivering the goods. One of the most likeable characters is Noah Taylor's role as Oliver's father, a depressive marine biologist who knows the number of the pothole helpline by heart. If this sounds in any way humorous to you, then you should absolutely watch this film.

The Slaves of Solitude
The Slaves of Solitude
by Patrick Hamilton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Enjoyable Novel, 8 Nov. 2011
This review is from: The Slaves of Solitude (Paperback)
At last I have come across another author capable of writing with the combination of clarity, tenderness and humanity that make Orwell's novels such engrossing works. In 'The Slaves of Solitude', Patrick Hamilton skilfully paints a picture of a dreary 1940s boarding house, and the lives of the disparate characters within it.

It is so easy to empathise with the genteel Miss Roach, trapped in an environment where there is little privacy. She is captive to the bullying taunts of the odious Mr. Thwaites, a character she clearly desires no association with, but who persists in sucking the life out of her. The arrival of an American Lieutenant then gives Miss Roach a glimmer of hope for a happier life after the war.

This is a wonderful novel, all set against the looming backdrop of the Second World War, which makes itself felt throughout, providing a vivid portrayal of small-town England at this time.

The King of Limbs
The King of Limbs
Offered by Assai-uk
Price: £9.50

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Rainbows' Murky Twin, 31 Mar. 2011
This review is from: The King of Limbs (Audio CD)
This low-key 37-minute long gem is not as warm or as sensual as 2007's 'In Rainbows', but after a few listens it becomes apparent that it is from a similar musical stable. From the opening of 'Bloom' the listener is taken on a journey of otherworldly beauty, but what most staggers the mind is how Radiohead are once again able to imbue a strong naturalistic feel among such electronic sounds.

Special honours go to Phil Selway and the brilliance of his drumming, which are pushed to the forefront over the first half of the album, while Thom Yorke's voice is eerie and angelic in equal dosage, none more so than on the spine-tingling 'Codex'. Overall, 'The King of Limbs' represents a splendid progression of the Radiohead catalogue.

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