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Reviews Written by
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland)
(VINE VOICE)   

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Orfeo
Orfeo
by Richard Powers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars High brow, often impenetrable novel, 22 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Orfeo (Paperback)
I love listening to classical music but I don't really understand music theory and musicology. Unfortunately "Orfeo" really requires that sort of understanding from its readers as large chunks of the narrative are devoted to conceptual discussions about it from it's central character, a retired avant garde classical composer with a tenuous grip on reality. In his spare time this composer,Peter Els, also dabbles in microbiology in his home based lab and he soon gets caught up in a police manhunt once he absconds following a police raid on his home. He drives off around America calling in on friends and family he once loved as the net around him tightens. While telling this present day tale, the narrative constantly flashes back to Els's youth and his relationships with women he loved and friends he admired as he set out on his composing career. We find that Els is a man who snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, a man who throws away relationships on a whim, forever searching for something transcendant and sublime that will define his life. He ends up alone and that's where the tale of his meandering road trip begins. Els is a hard man to empathise with and a lot of the narrative is hard to make sense of,especially the closing phase of the novel. I felt sorry for this eccentric,quixotic loner who made music nobody wanted to listen to and fell out unnecessarily with people who loved and admired him. "Orfeo" is not a page turner and parts of it were hard work despite it being about classical music, in which I am interested. All a bit abstruse and avant garde,like its main character.


The Wedding Ringer (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [2015]
The Wedding Ringer (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [2015]
Dvd ~ Kevin Hart
Price: £7.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Golden Tux, 22 Feb. 2015
"The Wedding Ringer" is a bawdy,mildly amusing comedy about a fairly ugly,but rich,man who is getting married to an attractive woman way out of his league. He has no close friends so he hires a best man and groomsmen for the wedding to appease his girlfriend. Cue all manner of awkward and humorous scenes as the groom slowly bonds with the assortment of oddballs who play the ringers. There is a lot of swearing and rowdiness as the deceit proceeds apace in the run up to the big day. I didn't really find the film to be that funny but it did have its moments. Think Doug made the wrong decision in the end though !


Maleficent [DVD]
Maleficent [DVD]
Dvd ~ Angelina Jolie
Price: £5.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once Upon A Dream, 16 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Maleficent [DVD] (DVD)
One thing I miss about my son growing up into a 15 year old bearded adolescent is watching magical children's films like "Maleficent" together with him.This reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale is magnificent. It is told from the point of view of the wicked fairy Maleficent who curses the baby princess Aurora. However the film puts this dastardly act into context as we find out that the king first committed an appalling betrayal on the hitherto good Maleficent by trading true love for power. Maleficent is shown to be a deeply hurt,traumatised individual who regrets her terrible curse and she seeks to make amends for it throughout the film right up to the thrilling finale. Angelina Jolie is brilliant as the misunderstood Maleficent and Elle Fanning is lovely as the sweet Aurora. This was an uplifting,heart warming film which should appeal to adults as well as a younger audience.


Selma [DVD]
Selma [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Oyelowo
Price: £5.99

11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful historical drama, 14 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Selma [DVD] (DVD)
"Selma" is a fairly serious and earnest film about Martin Luther King and the 1960's Civil Rights movement. In particular it focuses on the campaign for voting rights for blacks centred around a march by negroes and their supporters from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama. The film can be heavy going at times but it is absorbing thanks to great character acting,especially by David Oyelowo as MLK. As well as King,leading figures like President Johnson, Malcolm X and George Wallace all seem as large as life on the big screen. Very realistic and authentic performances. I can't say that I really enjoyed the film however, but I did appreciate it. Politics and history fans should make a point of watching it.


Big Eyes [Blu-ray]
Big Eyes [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Amy Adams
Price: £7.03

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll get you whacked, 8 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Big Eyes [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
All was quiet on New Year's Day so I decided to take in "Big Eyes" at the Movie House. I wasn't expecting much from the film beforehand,but it turned out to be excellent and will probably be on my Top 10 films list for 2015. It is set in the early 1960's where a recently separated aspiring female artist meets a smooth talking,charming man who convinces her he is a sensitive painter too. The woman,Margaret Keane, played superbly by Amy Adams,specialises in painting pictures of forlorn looking,waif like children with big eyes and they begin to sell well,however her husband Walter Keane,takes the credit and kudos for these paintings and Margaret remains in the shadows. As Walter's fame grows,so does the scale of the fraud multiply and their marriage becomes strained. Will the truth come out ? "Big Eyes" captivated me from start to finish. I have an interest in art and Amy Adams character was very likeable. She wasn't a loud mouthed,ball breaker like modern women. She was quiet,sensitive ,feminine and restrained but not a doormat either. Walter was a plausible villain and was well acted by Christoph Waltz. Very entertaining way to spend the first day of 2015.


The Interview [Blu-ray] [2015]
The Interview [Blu-ray] [2015]
Dvd ~ Seth Rogen Evan Goldberg
Price: £7.60

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Seditious Americans, 8 Feb. 2015
I can see why this irreverent film has annoyed the North Korean communist government so much. From start to finish it mocks their society and the pretensions of leader Kim Jong Un mercilessly. There is plenty of swearing and sex and drug references throughout the movie which stars Seth Rogan and James Franco, both of whom I dislike. They play an American chat show host and his assistant who are permitted to interview Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang ,since the tyrant is apparently a big fan of their show. However the CIA use this unexpected invitation to persuade the two interviewers to kill Kim while they are in North Korea. Needless to say things don't go according to plan and there are comic misadventures,romantic liaisons and a ruthless character assassination of Kim and the communist regime. Mockery it appears is a better way of discrediting a non integrating regime than anything more direct. "The Interview" is mildly entertaining, but I'm not a big fan of Rogan and Franco and their crude, vulgar kind of humour and I didn't really find the film that funny.


American Sniper [DVD] [2014]
American Sniper [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Bradley Cooper
Price: £4.98

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nemesis of the Jihadists, 31 Jan. 2015
This review is from: American Sniper [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
"American Sniper" is a decent war film but not a great one. It certainly isn't as good as "The Hurt Locker", which was also about the war in Iraq. The film is about a US soldier,played well by Bradley Cooper, who becomes a highly respected and deadly sniper during four tours of duty in Iraq. The war and action scenes are excellent and realistic, but this is only one aspect of this film. The other part focuses on Cooper's family life and how war loosens his ties with his family. The film is more of a war drama in this respect. "American Sniper" didn't really engage me emotionally and it wasn't overly original. However it was fairly absorbing viewing throughout.


The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
by Richard Flanagan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.52

4.0 out of 5 stars Wistful, poignant novel, 28 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I can see why this novel won the 2014 Man Booker Prize. I have read quite a few of the other contenders and "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" stands out as superior. It is a sad,poignant and often harrowing book about war, love in all it's forms and death.The main character is a womanising Australian doctor who has an intense romantic liaison with his uncle's wife just before he goes off to war. This woman is the love of his life and somehow his wife and subsequent lovers never quite match up with her. The book covers their relationship,but most of the well written narrative focuses on the doctor's experience in a Japanese slave labour camp, building the Siam to Burma railway. Details of his and his fellow captives suffering are graphic and disturbing. The doctor emerges from the War as a hero but remains haunted by it and his pre War romance to his dying day. The novel is strong on characterisation and intimate portraits are given of various Australian and Japanese soldiers both during the War and in the decades following it, exploring their beliefs and emotions as they adapt to changed circumstances. This novel captures well life in a POW camp but also is excellent at exploring the concepts of love and regret as the protagonists in the novel grow older and times change. A worthy winner of the big literature prize in my opinion and a humane, thoughtful book about all of life's big themes.


Jersey Boys [DVD] [2014]
Jersey Boys [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Christopher Walken
Price: £4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Late December back in '63 and all that, 25 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Jersey Boys [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
This film is a musical biopic of the iconic 1960's band Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons who had a string of hits and a unique sound. The band members grew up in a working class area of New Jersey,hung out with gangsters and were involved in petty crime and this rather long film highlights this era before the band broke big. Success followed but so did personality clashes, gambling debts, broken relationships and untimely deaths. "Jersey Boys" is mildly interesting and the music proves to have an enduring appeal.Can't say that I particularly liked the characters however but I've seen worse films recently. My favourite song was " Oh What a Night".


Birdman [DVD]
Birdman [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Keaton
Price: £5.00

10 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do you want to fool around with me ?, 17 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Birdman [DVD] (DVD)
I can't say that I really liked "Birdman" although it is certainly not a boring film. The film is offbeat,quirky and anarchic in nature and most of the characters are over emotional,bad tempered and egotistical. I didn't really like any of them. "Birdman" tells the tale of Michael Keaton's Riggan Thomson , an over the hill actor who once played a famous superhero in an action movie franchise. He is opening a new Broadway play but it is beset by difficulties,both personal and professional. There are bust ups between actors,family strife ,relationship crises and personality clashes. There are elements of black comedy and a lot of randomness and absurdity as the film unfolds with an often almost manic energy. However I thought "Birdman" lacked a proper plot and it all seemed a bit pointless. The ending was sudden and unsatisfactory as well. I thought the acting from a strong cast was impressive although I failed to empathise with any of the characters. Not really my sort of film.


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