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Dariush Alavi "" (Hampshire, UK)

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Hugo (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) (2011)
Hugo (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) (2011)
Dvd ~ Asa Butterfield
Price: £6.65

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A poem to innocence, 13 Jan. 2012
It's helpful to assess Hugo in terms of what it isn't rather than what it is: it isn't manic or frenetic; it isn't desperate to impress with ironic humour; it isn't patronising to children; it isn't afraid to keep its plot simple and linear; it isn't full of 3D clichés. A charming tale of an orphaned boy who tries to understand the world around him whilst keeping the clocks ticking at a Parisian train station, it features excellent performances, sumptuously realised visuals and - with the inclusion of Georges Melies as a key character - a heart-warming respect for the art of cinema. I found some of its comedic moments less than convincing and I confess I'd hoped for a more complicated story, but these are minor criticisms in the face of the movie's main achievement, which is to present complex themes in an easily-comprehensible, gentle manner to 21st century children and make them enjoy every minute of the experience.

Departures [Blu-ray] [2008]
Departures [Blu-ray] [2008]
Dvd ~ Masahiro Motoki
Price: £6.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curious insights, 13 Jan. 2012
If you ignore the sentimental moments (of which there are several), the lapses into broad characterisation and the creakiness of certain sections of the plot, what remains is a moving examination of modern attitudes to death, a subject conspicuous by its absence in modern cinema (see Uncle Boonmee). The plot revolves around a frustrated cellist's attempts to earn a living away from the pressures of Tokyo by moving back to his village and becoming an `encoffiner' - a near-religious figure who carries out an intricate (and highly watchable) purification ritual on dead bodies in order to prepare them for a funeral service. It is this aspect of the film that provides its most compelling sections: brief, tantalising glimpses into the ways various families experiences grief and loss and, crucially, the manner in which they display these emotions to strangers. The movie's visual style frequently plays to western tastes (indeed, it was awarded an Oscar for Best Foreign Film) but at the core of this curious tale lies an intriguing and memorable idea.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn - Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) [2012]
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn - Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) [2012]
Dvd ~ Daniel Craig
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £9.99

10 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't know when to stop, 13 Jan. 2012
I'm pretty sure that Herge's Tintin books were the very first things I ever read. In fact, I think I became something of a fan. But I'm equally sure that I haven't touched them since I was about 8, so perhaps I'm not exactly in the core demographic for Spielberg's big-screen adaptation of the baby-faced journalist's adventures. Its plot is suitably preposterous and sprawling, but it displays a very poor sense of pace. If there's one thing Spielberg has always been good at (and I say this as someone who generally isn't a fan of his work) it's knowing how to contrast moments of action with quieter sequences. That skill appears to have abandoned him here, with the result that he's created a feature-length barrage of unengaging bangs and camera somersaults. Perhaps one reason for this is that the technology has made it too easy for him to crank everything up to 11... which leads me to the subject of 'motion capture', the part-animated, part-live action technique used to create the film. From a design perspective, it provides an opportunity to realise a rich, gorgeous vision of the distinctive world of Herge's comics. But from a story-telling point of view, it produces an effect that's simultaneously too realistic and not quite realistic enough. The way audiences perceive mo-cap may well change with time, but for the moment, as far as Tintin is concerned, it's merely another questionable facet of a film that proves you can't just shove a load of set-pieces against each other and hope they'll form a coherent whole.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 6, 2012 2:57 PM GMT

Animal Kingdom [Blu-ray]
Animal Kingdom [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ James Frecheville
Price: £7.50

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing pains..., 13 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Animal Kingdom [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Crime sagas often work well when they're told from the point of view of someone on the periphery of the main action. In this case, it's 17-year-old Josh who's just become an orphan and turns to his grandmother and uncles for support. Unfortunately for him, they're heavily involved with violent crime, which compels him to have to decide the direction in which he wishes to take his own life. Punctuated by several surprising twists and refreshingly devoid of cliches, Animal Kingdom strikes an admirable balance between cranking up the tension and presenting an engaging character study. James Frecheville as Josh and Jacki Weaver as the inscrutable matriarch are quite superb, as is the evocation of the Australian setting. A triumph.

We Need To Talk About Kevin [Blu-ray]
We Need To Talk About Kevin [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Tilda Swinton
Price: £7.00

27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whose fault was it anyway?, 13 Jan. 2012
Not having read the Lionel Shriver novel on which this film is based, I went in with foreknowledge about nothing except - as is often the way - the story's concluding revelation. Still, this didn't detract from what turned out to be a moving, unsettling, deeply visceral cinematic experience. Tilda Swinton is consistently excellent as the mother of an odd teenage son whose behaviour casts a deep shadow on the life of her whole family. And Lynne Ramsay's directing unashamedly turns the entire film into an exercise in subjective story telling, a move that's entirely appropriate for a story in which different points of view and individuals' perceptions of events have a direct bearing on the development of the plot. Psychologically astute and totally mesmerising.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 22, 2012 11:01 AM BST

Contagion - Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + UV Copy) [Region Free]
Contagion - Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + UV Copy) [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Matt Damon
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £5.03

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll never touch peanuts again, 13 Jan. 2012
Soderbergh's movies tend to be so slick and stylised, that they often convince you they'll be memorable whilst you're actually watching them. But as the days after the initial viewing pass, you realise you're left with little more than a sense of... well, slickness and stylishness. Contagion is a case in point. It's a brisk, confident, thoroughly gripping story of the consequences of the spread of a deadly form of swine flu. It features solid performances, particularly from Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburne. Its plot develops in a wholly plausible manner. And most commendably, it underplays the hysterics that one might expect in such pre-apocalyptic tales (shots of lawless mobs are kept to a minimum). But somehow, it never leaps into the realms of greatness. That said, it's more intelligent and enjoyable than most of the popcorn fodder clogging up our multiplexes.

Midnight in Paris [DVD][2011] [2012]
Midnight in Paris [DVD][2011] [2012]
Dvd ~ Owen Wilson
Price: £5.00

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't look back, 13 Jan. 2012
It seems fairly clear that Allen will never give us another Bananas or Annie Hall (or even a Deconstructing Harry) but the best thing about his twilight films is that they convey truths about modern life with a gentle wisdom and a quirky, unabashed sense of fun. Midnight In Paris brings these attributes to the fore in its portrayal of a frustrated, 21st-century writer who finds himself transported back in time to share a few evenings with the likes of F Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. The conceit is amusing and so is its execution, allowing first-rate performers such as Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody and Tom Hiddleston to show off their talents and chew up the screen. There are a few moments of lazy editing (there's no reason why someone of Allen's calibre should settle for simplistic shot / reverse-shot sequences) but they don't detract from what turns out to be an enjoyable, faintly melancholy viewing experience.

The Double Life of Veronique [Blu Ray] [1991] [Blu-ray]
The Double Life of Veronique [Blu Ray] [1991] [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Irene Jacob
Price: £7.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Puppets without strings, 13 Jan. 2012
It's difficult to be concise about a film I know better than almost any other, but I must adhere to my self-imposed one-paragraph rule and resist the temptation to produce a dissertation. In short, then, this is one of the most beguiling movies I've ever had the pleasure to watch. An inexplicable, mystical tale of a young French woman whose life seems to have been foreshadowed (perhaps even controlled) by an identical woman living in Poland, La Double Vie uses recurring images of lenses, light and duality - as well as Irene Jacob's naturalistic, award-winning performance and Zbigniew Preisner's unparalleled musical score - to present a unique meditation on Love, Life And Everything Else. It's as perplexing as it is moving, but that's what makes it unmissable.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Double Play (Blu-ray + DVD)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Double Play (Blu-ray + DVD)
Dvd ~ Tom Hardy
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £8.97

24 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't blink!, 13 Jan. 2012
So, is it as good as everyone's saying? My answer: very nearly. Yes, there are times when Le Carre's tale of a search for a mole in the British Secret Service feels as though it's been inelegantly rammed into a two-hour running time. Yes, Tomas Alfredson's direction sometimes displays too much of the sterile coldness that was also in evidence in Let The Right One In. And yes, most of the supporting characters aren't allowed any opportunities to develop and become memorable. But the performances are exemplary - especially Gary Oldman's, whose neck has never been more expressive - and the restraint with which the period setting has been evoked is admirable (were the 70s really so dingy?). A soft-spoken, sardonic, thoroughly masculine piece of work which stands a strong chance of going down as a classic of the 'thinking person's spy flick' genre.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 6, 2012 2:55 PM GMT

Jane Eyre - Triple play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) [Region Free]
Jane Eyre - Triple play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Mia Wasikowska

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, if not especially memorable, 13 Jan. 2012
For some reason, Britain and the USA currently seem incapable of producing many period dramas which successfully convey the illusion that their characters genuinely inhabit the time in which the story is set. The anachronisms appear in several different forms, notably unconvincing dialogue and ill-judged casting. Thankfully, this latest version of Jane Eyre avoids such traps and presents an engrossing, suitably melancholy take on Charlotte Bronte's creation. Mia Wasikowska excels as Jane, managing to convey both fragility and determination with laudable understatement. And the story's Gothic elements are never permitted to divert attention from the development of the central relationship. The grandiloquent music is sometimes at odds with the pared down visuals and there is the inevitable feeling that a great many nuances and details have been sacrificed in order to keep the film's length manageable, but I suspect Ms Bronte would essentially have been quite pleased with this particular effort.

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