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Hard to Be a God - Subtitled
Hard to Be a God - Subtitled
Dvd
Price: £0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is very strange indeed, 24 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Crumbs, what was that about ?? For those who can recall the "peasant village" scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail - all mud, squalor and ignorance - this is similar, except it goes on for nearly three hours. In black and white. In Russian. I've never read the book, and had no idea what the heck was going on at any time, but it was strangely compelling, in its chaotic, claustrophobic, and very muddy way. The sets and photography are quite stunning, even though the dialogue was mostly incoherent ("I found this under a pig" being one of the more memorable lines). I doubt I'll ever watch it again but, like walking over hot coals, there is much satisfaction to be gained by knowing you've achieved it.


All Is Lost
All Is Lost
Dvd
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars All is lost...or is it ?, 10 Aug. 2014
This review is from: All Is Lost (DVD)
Certainly a good film to watch settled in a comfy armchair with a nice glass or two at hand, thinking Rather You Than Me, Mate. You have to admire Redford's character, as he does everything possible to survive, although to non-nautical types some of the tasks are difficult to understand. But with a cast of one, barely any dialogue and no voiceover (which would spoil the film), this is unavoidable, and it doesn't detract from a gripping tale. It would have better to see more emotion from Redford - he confronts each calamity with the same steady gaze - and the only time he loses it is rather unconvincing. Towards the end, though, you are really rooting for this guy - surely he must survive ? Please let him make it ! The final scenes are heart-wrenching, and the very last frame revelatory - and viewers are left to draw their own conclusions.


In Fear
In Fear
Dvd
Price: £0.00

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An efficient chiller, 27 July 2014
This review is from: In Fear (DVD)
I'm surprised by the number of negative reviews of this film - I thought it was rather good. The idea of driving round in circles, quite lost, and only guided by misleading signposts (anyone who has driven through Stoke on Trent will know the feeling), as the evening draws in - and to keep coming back to the same place - was very nicely done, and the reaction of the couple went from light-hearted banter, through irritated mystification to panicked terror in a most convincing way. I like the fact that you never quite knew what was going to happen next; there was all kinds of possibilities - what happened at the pub ?, what was the significance of the cabin and the "keep out" sign, the string of dead rodents across the road ? In the end it all went a bit Wolf Creek, and the final scene was a complete cop-out, but this didn't spoil a good well-paced decent length thriller. And all done with a cast of precisely three; good, naturalistic performances from De Caestecker and Englert, who behaved like anyone would in a similar situation - no heroics, just paralysed terror.


How I Live Now
How I Live Now
Dvd
Price: £0.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh what a lovely nuclear war !, 29 Jun. 2014
This review is from: How I Live Now (DVD)
This film starts promisingly enough (if you can bear the frantic editing) - bitching American mall-rat Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is sent against her will to live with her whacky bucolic cousins in the depths of a golden English countryside. She at first is distant and disdainful of their friendly entreaties to join in the fun, but falling for brooding, enigmatic Eddie, she begins to show signs of going native. But clearly, bad things are happening out there in the wider world, with the threat of war implied by the heavy military presence everywhere, and ominous hints on the TV news.
Just when things are beginning to look up for Daisy and Co, along comes a nuclear conflict to put the damper on their Famous Five romps. This is actually done quite well - the animals scamper off in panic, the trees blow in the wind, and there is a distant crack-thump of detonation (and, implausibly, the ash of the fallout begins immediately, which is a bit daft but never mind).
Here things start to go downhill in my opinion. So London has been destroyed by a nuclear bomb (and possibly Bristol, too), with hundreds of thousands dead, and the likelihood of a nuclear winter, radiation sickness, famine and death. But the gang carry on as if nothing much has happened ! They're still skipping round camp fires, playing with the dogs, Daisy and Eddie are bonking in the barn (Hang on - aren't they cousins ?), all to the backdrop of blue skies and contended, browsing livestock. Well, this did it for me. Where were the traumatized, irradiated survivors, stumbling around in the gloom, stockpiling roots and berries, or trying to eat each other, as we've been lead to believe by films such as Threads and The Road ? Quite frankly, if this is a post-nuclear conflict scenario, then we spent all the Cold War worrying ourselves sick over nothing.
So, unfortunately, this had me set against entire rest of the film, ready to pick holes in everything, which was a shame, because most of it was quite good. The boys and girls are forcibly removed from the house, and separated, by the military who are now in charge of things (and I am positive that British soldiers would not treat civilians in such a coarse and brutal manner as depicted, which was another moan), and put to work in camps to help with rebuilding an economy. Thereafter, the film follows Daisy and one of the younger children as she escapes and makes her long and painful way back to the house - via a still very green and pleasant landscape - in order to be re-united with her beloved Eddie.
It had its moments; for a low-ish budget film it was visually impressive, but the various implausibilities let it down for me.


Christiane F
Christiane F
Dvd
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, gritty drama, 18 May 2014
This review is from: Christiane F (DVD)
A tale of heroin addiction, prostitution and general degradation in late 1970s West Berlin; films don't get much grimmer than this. Think Trainspotting without the humour, it follows a group of young teenagers who go from borderline delinquency in tower blocks, via youthful experimentation to finally shooting up in public toilets, with all the ghastliness explored in vivid detail. But it is very watchable, with excellent performances given by the very young cast - most of whom were actually school age at the time, and who mostly went on to pursue careers outside acting. Most of the various junkie "extras" were indeed real-life junkies, too, which adds a nice element of edginess. Despite the wholly downbeat theme, it is a strangely compelling film, one you'll want to watch again. Helped along by a superb David Bowie score - the scene where the high-spirited gang (yet to begin their downward spiral into addiction) run whooping and laughing through a shopping mall to the sound of "Heroes" is just one of many which lingers in the memory.


The Call
The Call
Dvd
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Above average abduction thriller, 6 April 2014
This review is from: The Call (Blu-ray)
A believable, well-plotted, tense thriller that has good performances from all. Towards the end it starts to veer towards torture porn, but just about avoids it, although the final scene is a bit daft. Halle Berry plays the "911" telephone operator who tells everyone not to get emotionally involved, and does just that - going off on her own bit of sleuthing - but the film's pace carries this off quite nicely. Abigail Breslin is superb as the abducted teen in a car boot, trying to keep erratic contact with Berry on an untraceable disposable phone. Recommended.


Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
by Simon Winder
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard going, 22 Mar. 2014
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After "Germania" - one of the most entertaining books on Germany ever written, and a firm favourite of mine - I found this something of a slog. Winder himself admits it is not such a "sunny" book as Germania, and unfortunately this is something of an understatement. What made Germania so readable was the many wonderful Winder anecdotes - if fact it can be claimed that Germania is an account of travels in modern-day Germany with some history tacked on - whereas Danubia is just all the history stuff, with little to lighten the load. Not that anything can be taken away from the huge amount of historical information here - the research which must have gone into this book is breathtaking. It's just that about two-thirds in - long after I had completely lost track of the mind-boggling bifurcations of the Hapsburg dynasty and the shifting geo-political landscapes of south-east Europe - it was merely politeness that impelled me to keep going to the bitter end.


Le Week-End
Le Week-End
Dvd
Price: £0.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A rather self-indulgent dawdle, 22 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Le Week-End (DVD)
This was a film a really wanted to like, as I'm a big fan of Jim Broadbent, but it was a bit of a let-down, and can hardly be billed as a "comedy". Broadbent (Nick) and Duncan (Meg) play a early-sixties English couple, jaded of marriage, children, careers and life, who have "Le Weekend" in Paris to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary, and, seemingly, to try and put some sparkle back into their lives.
Unfortunately, the pair come across as wholly self-obsessed, and not particularly nice characters. We follow the gruesome twosome as they gloom around Paris, loudly bickering with each other when they're not whingeing to themselves, or acting like children. Their apparent disdain for anyone else is shown by them thinking it a hoot to sneak out of a restaurant without paying, and to casually vandalise their hotel room. Which, by the way, is a suite in a very posh establishment, with a view of the Eiffel Tower from the huge balcony - not bad for a pair who are clearly travelling on a budget - which must cost about £1000 per night, and all they do is moan !
After a chance meeting with old university pal Morgan (Goldblum) - who invites them to a drinks party in his apartment, to mingle with his cohort of Paris intellectuals and writers - downbeat, emasculated Nick has some sort of glum epiphany, and manages a rapport with cold, cruel (and self-obsessed) Meg.
And so off they go hand-in-hand, to face a reckoning with the hotel manager (who should have made them do the washing-up for a week, in my opinion), ending up penniless in a bar, only to be rescued by the clearly besotted Morgan. And that's it.
I just couldn't see the point of this film, but I'm glad I sat through it. Despite his annoying character, Broadbent is still a joy to watch.


The World's End
The World's End
Dvd
Price: £0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Bloated, over-long, over ambitious, 16 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The World's End (Blu-ray)
Shaun of the Dead - a comedy classic, can't be improved on. Hot Fuzz - great, but went on a bit. And the last of the "Cornetto" trilogy, The World's End, follows this trajectory. It had a few funny bits, especially the sublime "WTF ? What the f*** does that mean ?!", but they were few and far between. And it went on, and on, with me waiting for the comedy to start, and thinking that the Gary King character is just an irritating, grating kidult (whereas everyone was rooting for the slacker Shaun in Shaun of the Dead). The last fifteen minutes (felt like thirty) was just stupid, as if they were making it up as they went along, and desperately trying to get things moving with even bigger bangs and flashes. A disappointment.


Captain Phillips
Captain Phillips
Dvd
Price: £0.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Goes on a bit, 16 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Captain Phillips (Blu-ray)
I'm not a fan of Tom Hanks, but he did well here. It's worth sitting through this over-long film just to witness the final few minutes - I've never seen anyone play "shocked and traumatised" as well as Mr Hanks did, so perhaps I'll change my opinion of him from now on. For a better cargo-ship-hijacking film, watch the recent Danish-made "A Hijacking" instead; the tension is far greater, the relationship with the pirates is more believable, and the ending is quite unexpected. After all, you knew Captain Phillips would be rescued...


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