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M. G. Wilson (Eastbourne)
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I Am Legend [DVD] [2007]
I Am Legend [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Will Smith
Price: £2.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite legendary, but still fun, 27 April 2008
This review is from: I Am Legend [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
An enjoyable multiplex and popcorn film, that keeps you involved enough with its story that you can suspend disbelief to the end, and fret about the flaws later. Apart, of course, from the fact that the one man left alive in NYC is also the one man capable of beating this thing. But then, that's how things work in the movies...

Smith is good as the lead, and for long periods, only, actor. Plus there are chase scenes, explosions and zombies. The CGI are terrific, and the scenes of a deserted overgrown New York will have you asking 'how did they do that?' Ironic really that after the increasingly banal use of computer graphics in films, it's a static and earthbound CGI enhanced set that impresses.

The end, when it comes, is a little anti-climactic, and bittersweet, but a bittersweet ending has got to be better than sickly sweet surely?


The Men Who Stare At Goats
The Men Who Stare At Goats
by Jon Ronson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weirdness in fatigues, 27 April 2008
An enjoyably light read that doesn't try to over-claim for what is quite a slight piece of investigative journalism. The style is similar to Louis Theroux: ask innocent sounding questions, and let people talk. And quite soon you're thinking...are these people for real? In this case that's a pretty serious question, because these people are in charge of the most powerful military in the world. But in the end, too many questions are left unasked, never mind unanswered.


Sacred Space: House of God, Gate of Heaven
Sacred Space: House of God, Gate of Heaven
by Philip North
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.90

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Set apart, 24 April 2008
Published to mark the 75th anniversary of the revival of the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, the book's exploration of the meaning of sacred space in all its connotations, written from across the spectrum of Christian orthodoxy (and beyond) should have a wider appeal.

The introductory remarks of a collection can be crucial in understanding the way in which the separate contributions should be understood to form a developing narrative. Sadly little guidance is forthcoming here, and in consequence each essay sits alongside its neighbours with little synergy.

Places may be considered holy for a variety of reasons, not all well explored here. Indeed all of the authors share a common view of sacred space being that space set aside for the purpose of being sacred, though for some this is literal (buildings, liturgy) for others metaphorical (illuminated texts, literature) or archetypal (Mary as bearer of the divine).

No serious consideration is given to the idea that all of life is sacred, and that therefore there can and should be no idea of thinking of some spaces as mundane and others holy. Similarly, the idea that places might be sacred because God is somehow more present in them (permanently or intermittently) or more accessible from them, including the Hebrew tradition of marking places where God had been specially encountered, is not discussed.

Jeremy Sheehy's `Sacred Space and the Incarnation' seeks to argue that because the Incarnation occurred at a particular time in a particular place, therefore it must be appropriate for Christians to have a theology of sacred space. Although one senses that the author understands the argument he wishes to advance it is not satisfactorily expressed here.

In `Sacred Space and the Built Environment' Michael Tavinor advances the view that a space is sacred because we set it aside for sacred purposes, and considers ways in which churches can be constructed or ordered to facilitate an encounter with God. Few would argue with the legitimacy of such an approach but there can be considerable controversy about how it is best achieved. Naturally such an approach leads to the view that only the best will do (for God). Although Tavinor quotes Bernard of Clairvaux's withering critique of a `...church that sparkles and gleams while its poor huddle in need...' he dismisses this argument. Even so the way in which this approach to sacred space can develop into an instrument of control - a way of keeping out the riff raff, or at least keeping them in their place - is clear.

Michelle Brown's `The Book as Sacred Space' discusses the way in which illuminated copies of the scriptures reflect the medieval view that it was not just the meaning conveyed by scripture that was sacred, nor even the words on the page, but the pages themselves. Interesting as this historical description may be, it falls short in not exploring how this might be relevant in our own age of mass printing and indeed virtual words on screens - there one moment, gone the next.

Dominican polymath Timothy Radcliffe takes Lowell's poem `Our Lady of Walsingham' as his stepping off point and is as erudite and entertaining as ever.

Margaret Barker shows that the (creative?) tension between those who see particular locations as places where God has chosen to be specially present, and those who argue that God cannot be contained or limited in this way, goes back at least to the time of the Deuteronomists, and is a tension present in and unresolved by scripture, in an essay that otherwise strays far down paths a long way from orthodoxy.

Eamon Duffy's `Prayer to the Virgin in the Late Middle Ages' and Sarah Jane Boss's `Jerusalem, Dwelling of the Lord: Marian Pilgrimage and its Destination' are not without interest, but their links to the book's theme are not well developed.

Ann Morisy's contribution `Seven Cairns in the Creation of Sacred Space in the City' may bear an esoteric title, but she is the only contributor whose work suggests practical ways in which readers might themselves be instrumental in making sacred space, and as such is especially welcome in this diverse, discursive and somewhat intellectualised company. She describes the conditions needed to make more likely an encounter with the holy. Her approach is intentionally countercultural - and not just for society at large, but also for the church.

Collections of essays are almost bound to have something of the curate's egg about them, and this book is no exception.


Emotionalism
Emotionalism
Price: £10.41

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not doing it for me, 24 April 2008
This review is from: Emotionalism (Audio CD)
North Carolina's Avett Brothers play what they refer to as 'non-traditional' bluegrass - instrumentally augmented with percussion, B3, cello - and lyrics that deal in alienation, deception, guilt, unworthiness and emotional numbness. So far so good. 'Emotionalism' has received almost universal critical acclaim. That's why I bought it. But after repeated listening, I have to confess I just don't 'get it'. Musically, where others have praised the Avetts, to me this seems lightweight, pleasant enough, but a bit dull, and the harmony vocals have more than a hint of The Bachelors (MoR Irish folk/country act from the early 60s), probably not what the boys were aiming for.


Fashion Focus
Fashion Focus
Price: £23.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Sound in transition, 22 April 2008
This review is from: Fashion Focus (Audio CD)
Starflyer 59's fourth finds their sound in transition, moving away from riffing and distortion to a softer, gauzy more poppy sound, incorporating synths alongside the guitars. Jason Martin's languid croaky vocals carry his brief, impressionistic (in truth bordering on completely opaque) lyrics equally well in these newer styles, including the beautiful, hazy, summery opener 'I drive a lot' and the incongruously jaunty 60s throwback 'Fell in love at 22' as on old style songs like 'The birthrite' and 'Too much fun' with its fuzzed up riff and wailing distortion laden guitar solo.


The Prestige [DVD] [2006]
The Prestige [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Hugh Jackman
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.62

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The quickness of the hand deceives the eye...almost, 20 April 2008
This review is from: The Prestige [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
This is a film that demands your attention. The plot twists and turns. Director Nolan uses his characteristic fractured timeline, switching back and forth like Dr Who on a bad hair day. And in a film about illusionists, nothing and no-one are what they seem. The cast are superb. The sets impress. The effects dazzle. In fact it all holds together beautifully, right up to an ending which left me feeling - oh, is that it? So not perfect, but nonetheless entertaining, and well worth the effort it demands.


3.10 To Yuma [DVD]
3.10 To Yuma [DVD]
Dvd ~ Russell Crowe
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood West, 20 April 2008
This review is from: 3.10 To Yuma [DVD] (DVD)
Look: this is a Hollywood western ok? So approach it with that in mind. Sure the plot has more holes than the stagecoach after a meeting with the Wade gang. And hey, the guy with the white hat miraculously shoots a lot of bad guys, while they couldn't hit the side of a barn. And yes wounds have a tendency to heal in a way that would be the envy of Madam Pomfrey. What did you expect? So suspend disbelief and enjoy. The story moves along briskly. The scenery is suitably western. Bale is superb as rancher Dan Evans and Alan Tudyk (best known as Hoban "Wash" Washburne in Joss Weedon's Firefly/Serenity) gives nice little cameo as vet turned doctor 'Doc' Potter. And the action scenes are all you would want.

Who's bringing the popcorn?


Achilles Heel
Achilles Heel
Price: £10.48

3.0 out of 5 stars Darkly humorous, 18 April 2008
This review is from: Achilles Heel (Audio CD)
Achilles Heel is the final album from Seattle native David Bazan recording as Pedro the Lion, though in truth PtL were always more solo act than band. Bazan's sombre examinations of the daily experience of suburban America through the lens of faith are musically and lyrically simple, but don't be fooled, those simple words carry complex and important truths. There is a sly, dark humour at work here, and Bazan is perhaps the first explicitly christian lyricist to include the words 'shut the f___ up' in a song (Foregone Conclusions), and definitely the first to put those words in the mouth of the Holy Spirit and not be the least bit sacrilegious in so doing. Despite this, the relentlessly downbeat indie backing will limit its appeal, though the lighter musical touch of 'I do' with its bubbling keyboard and chiming guitar show that it didn't have to be this way.


Raising Sand
Raising Sand
Offered by Dirty Deals UK
Price: £9.20

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rich dark vibe, 15 April 2008
This review is from: Raising Sand (Audio CD)
Duets are hard to pull off. Even Marvin could not always get it right. Recent pairings that might be compared to the odd couple that is Krauss and Plant - Ryan Adams with Norah Jones, Mr and Mrs Steve Earle - have been disastrous. So it's a great relief to report that right from the first you know it's going to be all right - rock's oddest couple sound great together, harmonising over the sinuous groove of 'Rich Woman'.

There's an unhealthy obsession with relationships stretched to breaking point: broken by foolishness or pride, by unfaithfulness and ulitmately by death. 'Please Read The Letter' is a dark tale of an unravelling relationship that sticks in the mind, and has you humming it to yourself like a good old pop song. 'Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson' has Krauss singing 'Once I Had Myself A Good Woman' over another great 50s riff. This is an album with a definite vibe: it's as though music had jumped from the fifties straight to the noughties, missing out the four decades in between. From 'Rich Woman' with its big swampy guitar and drums, to the chooglin' r'n'r guitar riff of 'Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)' and the hillbilly gospel of closer 'Your Long Journey'.

Although billed as Plant and Krauss, the influence of producer T Bone Burnett is surely sufficient to warrant joint billing, getting great performances from his two leads, contributing guitar to most tracks, and creating that vibe.


Relics
Relics
Price: £13.08

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential - for fans and casual explorers alike, 4 April 2008
This review is from: Relics (Audio CD)
Covering the period 1967 to 1971, 'Relics' was originally released to capitalise on the success of the 'Atom Heart Mother' album. It now stands as the perfect introduction to the band's early work (alongside 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn') for those who only know 'Dark Side of the Moon' or 'The Wall'. A selection of tracks from the early LPs are presented alongside the two big Syd Barrett period singles 'Arnold Layne' and 'See Emily Play' not included on albums of the time. For fans, 'Biding My Time' is not available anywhere else, and 'Julia Dream' and this version of 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene' are only otherwise available on 'The Early Singles' disc available only in the 'Shine On' box set.

But what about the music? If you only know Floyd's later work, the sound may be something of a shock. 'Arnold Layne' and 'See Emily Play' are pure sixties pop while 'Interstellar Overdrive' is the sound of Rock in its first flush stretching out and feeling for the possibilities of a more complex, experimental neo-classical approach. Elsewhere there is that peculiarly English mixture of whimsy and the blues, pastoral and psychedelia, and of course no-one should be without 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene' with its menacing whispers and screaming.
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