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M. Bird (London, UK)

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X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back TPB
X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back TPB
by Kathryn Immonen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone, but rewarding reading..., 15 July 2011
Kathryn Immonen has quickly become one of my favourite writers from the Marvel stable. Her Patsy Walker: Hellcat mini blew me away with its humour and oddity. She unfortunately has yet to be given a high priority ongoing, but her run on Runaways, and her unfortunately punning-titled Heralds cemented my respect for her work. She's also dipped a toe in the Marvel Mutant playpen, most recently with her Wolverine and Jubilee limited series, but earlier with this mini, centred around recent X-Men addition Pixie. And it's very good, though Immonen's writing style is clearly a love-it-or-hate-it proposition - for some, it seems to read as too self-consciously zany, and hard-to-follow (although I'm not certain that last complaint is altogether warranted). This story adds to Pixie's backstory in a way that isn't necessarily helpful to the character (for such a recent creation, she's already laden with baggage that is seemingly unrelated to her original appeal), but does it with such wit and elan that Immonen more than gets away with it. Also, in a way I found surprising, Immonen clearly knows her X-continuity, and nails the characters voices far better than many more experienced male writers. In conclusion, this collection won't be to everyone's taste, but is a surprising and satisfying read for those willing to give something a little different a chance.

Sun Kissed [2006] [DVD]
Sun Kissed [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Ort
Price: £4.83

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And now for something a little different..., 9 Oct. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sun Kissed [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
Having just finished watching this movie, and after almost having been put off purchasing it by previous negative reviews, I felt a little balance should be brought to 'Sunkissed'.

In many ways, this is an intruiging little film. It both looks and sounds gorgeous. Attractively shot, it is given a somewhat old-fashioned sense in part through the use of grainy film-stock - which may be off-putting to viewers used to crystal-clear digital. One might assume that the defects present on the film itself (an occasional hairline mark on the print) are due to budgetary constraints, but I found they if anything add to the ambience of the visuals, which drench both the beautiful landscape of the American desert, and the semi-naked forms of the male leads, in saturated light, with a likeably fuzzy quality to the picture. The sound is equally appealing - not just the fabulous dream-pop soundtrack by The Sea and Cake, but parts of the dialogue have a similar fuzzy quality to them.

What a shame then that the acting ranges from adequate to... well, frankly, not. The 'adequate' half of the leading men is at least offset by good looks, and a level of on-screen charisma. More upsettingly, the script does the film absolutely no favours. While the plot is as dreamy as the sound and pictures, meandering and anti-didactic, resolutely refusing easy resolution, playing with concepts of identity and fiction, the script itself is often clunky and unbelievable. Even so, this movie ought to be applauded for attempting to do something different - something often sorely lacking in cookie-cutter LGBT cinema. In short, 'Sunkissed' might not be the picture to revolutionize film-making, but it is an interesting gay movie, with admirably art-house aspirations.

Tales of a Librarian: A Tori Amos Collection
Tales of a Librarian: A Tori Amos Collection
Price: £5.00

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Redhead dancing girl, 15 April 2004
It would be churlish, perhaps, to criticise a woman, who in twelve years has produced at least three of the best albums of that period ('Little Earthquakes', 'Under the Pink', 'Boys for Pele'). True, commercial success is more elusive these days (this album charted at a lowly #74 in the UK), and many fans have jumped ship after three releases that divide opinion ('To Venus and Back', 'Strange Little Girls', 'Scarlet's Walk'). But to her legions of fans, Amos's abstract musings will always be songs of the goddess.

Should this best of be regarded as a contractual obligation? Well, certainly it is unlikely to win Amos any new fans. Most likely, the people who will buy it will be those who already own her studio output. The new tracks are worthwhile - one good ('Angels'), one fantastic ('Snow Cherries from France'), and the 'rare' bee sides, though less fun than the jaunty originals, provide extra punch. The choice of tracks for inclusion has provided topic for debate, but as Amos has herself said, someone's favourite song would always have been left off. Still, it is difficult to understand how the pretty but unassuming 'Baker Baker' is worthy of a place here, over the actual hits 'Caught a Lite Sneeze' and 'Hey Jupiter' or even the lovely '1000 Oceans'.

Still, what is here is uniformly very, very good. And for the most part the remastering/remixing is well done. The slightly sludgey sound of the earlier material is made fresh and crisp, and the rejigging of 'Winter', 'Tear in Your Hand', 'God' and 'Cornflake Girl' breathe new life into these songs. However, the more recent material fares less well, with the heady atmospherics of 'Spark' strangely muted. And, frankly, the single remix of 'Crucify' is far better than any that has been commited to a long player. The most contentious inclusion - Armand Van Helden's remix of 'Professional Widow' - isn't as jarring as some have made out. It's framed nicely between two of the short songs from 'Pele', and as Amos's biggest hit and a joyously irreverant gesture to those who take her music too seriously, is welcome.

We look forward to May 2004's live DVD release with enthusiasm.

Offered by FREETIME
Price: £10.54

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars From angst to anger to religion in three albums, 13 Jun. 2001
This review is from: Amen (Audio CD)
It's clear that Paula Cole has found a new focus with the release of her third elpee, 'Amen'. Even the name has changed; this time around the record is credited to the 'Paula Cole Band'. And whilst Paula's strong sense of melodicism remains, the passion that informed her songwriting and even her delivery seems to have vanished. It seems cruel to attribute this to the new sense of optimism in her work, or references to God, but can these things really be mutually exclusive?
At any rate, much of 'Amen' just isn't very good. While 'I Believe in Love' is joyous (think 'Happy Home' or 'Oh John' on 'Harbinger'), much of the rest is average at best. And the overall quality of the lyrics is nothing like the radically high standard of much of her previous album 'This Fire'. Ultimately, if this was a release by a new artist it would merit a "promising" type response. But as the weakest moment in an otherwise distinguished career, it might, I suggest, be time for a rethink.

Music (Int'l)
Music (Int'l)
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £1.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Madonna's best album since 'Like A Prayer'?, 6 Jan. 2001
This review is from: Music (Int'l) (Audio CD)
'Music' is definately a grower. There are times when I'm still uncertain as to whether the title track and first single proper, is actually any good, and on a first listen the whole album can seem to coast by without any real significance. But on a closer listen, 'Music', the album, just like 'Music, the song, is undeniably groovy.
But one thing that seems clear to me is that while hoping that after the one-two of 'Something To Remember' and 'Evita', Madonna wouldn't descend into MOR shlock hell (the uptempo greats on 'Ray Of Light' - 'Swim', 'Nothing Really Matters', the title track), the best songs here are definately the down-tempo numbers.
The title track revels in it's own disposableness (for that's what pop music is all about afterall), and while 'Impressive Instant' is sonically intruiging, the faster tracks are somewhat uninspiring. 'Runaway Lover' is pretty average filler fare but Madonna-standards, and as everyone has already pointed out, 'Amazing' is a less interesting cousin to 'Beautiful Stranger'. The mid-tempo (single and single contender) numbers, 'Don't Tell Me' (did anyone believe those skips were *really* defects? Are you insane?), and the glorious 'What It Feels Like For A Girl' (thanks for 'The Cement Garden' quotes Mads - it's a killer movie) are perfect pop songs, shiny and new.
But it's on the slow songs that Madonna's charms are most apparent. Even the least exciting, 'I Deserve It', which is marred by fairly cheesy Guy Richie inspired lyrics, is a fine song in it's own right. The vocoder drenched 'Nobody's Perfect' is glorious in it's own melancholy, while the show-stopper weepie 'Gone' is one of Madonna's finest ever songs (and, one would have thought, a perfect Christmas single).
But it is perhaps with the album's strongest track that the conundrum of this record is at it's most explicit. 'Paradise (Not For Me)' is a billingual odyssey that contains the most emotive vocal performance ever ("there is a light... above my head..."). It's also one of the saddest songs she's ever written. For while 'Music' is supposedly a happy emotional yang to 'Ray Of Light's introspective ying, it is the mainly melancholic second half of the elpee (yes, I know 'Don't Tell Me' is a clear exception) that really shines.
And finally to the question of 'American Pie'. Well, I think it's a great song (and much better than the boring old original). But it isn't the greatest way to end this elpee - 'Gone' is more obvious in a tear-jerker way. But perhaps that's the point - does 'American Pie' offer some sort of optimism after the heart-wrenching pathos of 'Gone'.
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