ARRAY(0xaf5afa2c)
 
Profile for Dr. Vernon M. Hewitt > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Dr. Vernon M. ...
Top Reviewer Ranking: 42,755
Helpful Votes: 250

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Dr. Vernon M. Hewitt (Bristol, UK.)
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
pixel
A Single Man [DVD]
A Single Man [DVD]
Dvd ~ Colin Firth
Price: 3.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a perfect - surprisingly perfect - adaption, 26 Sep 2013
This review is from: A Single Man [DVD] (DVD)
I watched the film adaption of A Single Man last night on the box and ordered it immediately. It was a special book to me, probably Ishwerwood's best. I am no particular fan of Colin Firth, but his depiction of George was disturbingly accurate: he portrayed perfectly the sense of double exile in 1960s America: an ex pat Brit and a homosexual. The film is pleasantly observed, beautifully made, and for once existentially true to the book although there were some notable changes in dialogue and character. I first read this in 1986 - ironically the year Isherwood died - and of course in my vanity I associated myself with Kenny (who is well casted by the British actor from Skins). Now of course I realize I am George, in fact I AM George, and the bitter sweat entropy he feels is painted out on the screen with care. Afterwards I re-read the book: it does make me wonder whether now, in an era of sexual acceptance and openness, this sort of novel could be written. Isherwood would have rejected the idea of a gay novel, (he tried to embrace the idea of the American novel late in his life) but the secrecy implicit to George's life is was makes the book (and the film) so subversive and well observed. Now all is open and revealed and what gave Isherwood's work its peculiar grace, could not be written.


Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately unconvincing, 6 Sep 2012
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
I have only just got around to reading this; and as a life long enthusiast of Ishiguro, I have to say although I caught some of the mood commented on in so many reviews, it just didnt add up to me in a convincing or engaging way. I appreciate the distinction we need to make here between `sci'fi' and dystopian fiction: but what doesnt work for me is the connection between the minutia of the story and the wider ethical themes the book is seeking to engage. In the past, Ishiguro's work has been able to use this style successfully: working within what seems a conventional, small scale, even pedestrian world and then just weaving together a sudden breathless transformation through `telling stories' from the perspective of the characters themselves. What worked in Remains of the Day doesnt work here, Never Let Me Go is inplausible within its own logic, even as a methaphor or allegory: and it does demand comparison with works of Philip K Dick and otherw writers (Le Gaun, Left Hand of Darkness, or most obviously the Handmaiden's Tale). Even in a generous comparison with Beckett, or as many suggest, Kafka, the slow burn narrative of Kathy, meandering back and forth from her Hailsham days to her career as a Carer, did not move or engage me and Tommy and Ruth were half drawn, undeveloped characters stripped down to the bone. If this was a allegory it did not work, and if it was a story about the ethics of cloning (which, will all due respect to many reviewers it HAS to be*) then I needed more context to appreciate it: what were the ethics of the wider society in which this had happened or become possible? Like most of Ishiguro's work this is a story of denial, evasion, dishonesty and illusion, but I feel that had anyone else written this it would have sank without trace.

*This book was published around the time of a sustained debate about cloning for donor organs in the wake of the dramatic drop (2002-2007) in people willing to donate their organs on death for the benefit of others. It also raised questions broader questions about `clone siblings' at birth to have organ banks on hand. I can reference this for those who want to look at the debates.


Battle: Los Angeles [DVD] [2011]
Battle: Los Angeles [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Aaron Eckhart
Offered by themediamerchants
Price: 3.13

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars black hawk down meets War of the Worlds, 18 Sep 2011
This may not - in fact it is not - high art or even classic sci fi, but it's a good action romp with some rather innovative twists to a tried and perhaps over-tested genre. The documentary-hand held wobbly camera work causes nausea on a large screen but it races along well enough. The aliens are now the generically offal and wire jobs full of body fluids and what appears to be a large amount of redundant extra organs, but they loom menacingly out of the fog at the start, and there is something novel to the idea that their technological edge is not so great as to make pitched battles a non-viable cinametic option. And for once the humans have a huntch that all is not quite well with meteorites that slow down on impact. I have grown tired (and embarresed on behalf of human dignity) that we seem always to approach alien ships with a flag or a bible or an invite to the UN. The only tedious thing - as commented on by many - is the over the top `buddy-buddy' bit, but the sub-text is as much a grunt movie as it is `invasion'. It is interesting to ponder how influential the legacies of Iraq and the idea of `intervention' had spilled out into a series of quite different genres; but it is not especially new remember the scene in Independence Day when we are treated to the sight of Israeli's cooperating with Iraq!) The patriotism inthis movie is as much about marines and the US as opposed to the planet, which may(?) limit its appeal. Exhausted, dried up grunt commander dude gets a tad tedious towards the end, and he is helped of course by the rather crass idea that the alien's command center is very large and very big and bizarrely in the middle of all the action, but i'm sure even aliens make mistakes. Anyway - good fun: and (as one reviewer remarked) it does exactly what it says on the box.


I Am Number Four [DVD]
I Am Number Four [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alex Pettyfer
Price: 3.00

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good romp, 8 July 2011
This review is from: I Am Number Four [DVD] (DVD)
I enjoyed this film - partly I have to say because my expectation of main stream sci fi has been somewhat dumbed down: and I am a sucker for blonde women on bikes and young men with good shoulders. This is a pretty film, well made if not overdone
on the computer graphics: at least Number Four acts with a certain moody boy charm - unlike Edward in Twilight who seems to confine himself to narrowing his eyes and snorting. The premise is good if undercooked - and I certainly agree with the perceptive reviews above that this has a sort of pilot feel to it: a lot of lose ends. The fact is, that Twilight Meets ET aside, this is a close re-working of Roswell: in fact it contains the same universe down to the sheriff, the mean sheriff's son (made good at the end), the geeky boy, the box, the communication device, and the Nasedo character pretending to be daddy. In this sense I saw it - and enjoyed it - not so much as a film rip off but a sort of trope about sci fi and identity. Alas it turns into a sort of transformers-mutant approach towards the end with very BAD baddies and lots of explosions, but it was a good day out on a wet windy British bank holiday - teen music over moody shots is a bit wearing though after a while. Serious sci fi fo rme is stuff like Clooney's extraordinary reclaiming of Solaris - almost in many senses better tyhan the original - but it wasnt a hit and studios are driven, like political parties and fashion - into a middle ground in which content and dialogue and ultimately plot give way to a bland derivative format of bang bang kiss and moody endings. I liked the dog though, that was sweet - and this does get a place on the Hewitt sci fi shelves between Roswell Series One and Supernatural.


Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization
Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization
by Nicholson Baker
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a piece of conceit, 7 April 2011
Novels are one thing, fictionalised histories are quite another. Of course any serious student of historiography recognises the role of interpretation and bias, and since the post-modern turn and the interest in `subjectivities, there has been a lively and informed revision of the so-called `black and white' certainties of WWII and debates over history AS fiction. This work is NOT one of them. Aimed at a sort of sensationalist inversion of the `orthodox' view, Churchill and the allies become the principle architects of WWII, Hitler a wronged stateseman who could have been appeased within a revision of the balance of power on the continent, and the list goes on and on. The holocaust debate is a travesty of current scholarship, perverting the recognition of western anti-semitism and strategic indifference into the primary cause of the final solution. While we need to critique conventional tropes of history, we do not not need to invent new ones or construct a parallel universe in which the Nazi regime was able and willing to be accommodated within the conventions of a recognisable international order. The cost of WWII to Britain was the total sacrifice of its position of a world power, and the civilian deaths and the rise of the cold war were the direct consequences, but while counter-factual arguments are always useful, there are many serious attempts out there which people should read, Kershaw, Fergusan, even Tsouras's Hitler Triumphant, published in 2006. And for people outraged with Churchill, the implication that this book is original or revealing is entirely misplaced. If people want to read fiction, read Philip K Dick's Man in a High Castle, or Harris' Fatherland.


The Windup Girl
The Windup Girl
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Impressively grim but..., 5 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
I got to this without the hype - a novel in a pigeon hole from a colleague. A good weekend read lay ahead, and I must say I enjoyed this work very much indeed. As a serious sci-fi nerd I appreciate a well imagined, plausible (if not realistic) future scenario which plays to our current anxieties and concerns over climate change and genetically modified produce. Here they are part and parcel of the global crisis which sets the context to an intriguing study of resistance against a new `expansion' - a new era of greed led by large bio-tech corporations. The characterisation is good and compelling, the total collapse of a globalising, carbon driven trading economy, and the cultural and religious nuances well observed - there is a real classic feel to this, derivative of Dick and even Le Guan, thoughtfully recast to a big and compelling theme. Kink Springs, methane, carefully used and delineated. I did find however, that the book was too long - it petered out as the political crisis matured, and I found the end extremely disappointing. Not just because the windup is left without any real closure, but because the implicit logic of the end struck me as a sort of mindless endorsement of violence - the implication that AgriGen and the price of independence are worth the moral project of destroying the city: perhaps there is irony here, a sort of post-development, Escobarian dig at multinationals and social movements, but it seemed incomplete, poorly integrated: signs perhaps that this brilliant author has yet to pace himself for the longer novel. I am also curious at the environmentalist enthusiasm for this - science ficion is never about the future, actually. This sort of fiction sits in a sort of delicious temporal anomoly where are hopes and fears shape multiple versions of what might happen: is this a warning? AgriGen et al on one side, the sort of authoritarian sham religion of the Environmental Ministry on the other? I thoroughly recommend this to others to read and ponder.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2011 3:58 PM BST


The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters
The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters
by Charlotte Mosley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars irreverent, whimsical, oddly moving, 5 Oct 2010
Much has come from the Mitford `industry', and not all of it particularly valuable or enduring. Yet here Charlotte Mosley has crafted a book of extraordinary intimacy. These letters ripple out over the long years, conveying trivia, love, resentment, anger, amusement, politics, and at all times the bizarre cozy after glow of a world that is now lost. The scale of this work is impressive - the editing flawless, the referencing catholic but unobtrustive. What is touching to me is the slow greying and narrowing of the gauge; Nancy retreating into a world of tray meals and pain, harsh at times but graceful, Honks finally bereft in an apartment in Paris, tired of a life lived to the full and still mysteriously (perhaps even inexplicably) the guardian of her second husband's legacy and Unity's innocence; Pam's eccentric wind in the willows existence. Slowly they retire and the circle of letters diminish. Why should we care about these? Why are they interesting? Because what are in themselves minute, often meaningless asides are in combination a dazzling peice of social history, warts and all: Charlotte is to be congratulated in welding this legacy into so bright a literary gem.


Haunting Of Winchester House 3D [DVD]
Haunting Of Winchester House 3D [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lira Kellerman
Price: 9.61

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Appalled of Bristol, 26 Sep 2010
I have seen many bad films in my life. This must rank as probably one of the worst. It fails on so many levels it is quite hard to know where to start. I suppose one should start with the concept of `horror' and being scared. One could then talk about plot, or - as someone else has rightly said here - the concept of `acting'. This film is less scary than driving through Bristol during rush hour or seeing myself first thing in the morning. None of the actors seemed competent or even interested in their lines - in fact they seemed desperate to get off the set as quickly as possible. The mother seemed to have perfected a type of ating which required no visible movement or audible noise whatsoever. Most of the dialogue was nonsensical and/or inaudible. The actor playing the father clearly - and rather trageically - seems to have suffered a stroke during filming. The cool black dude looked as if he would burst into derisory laughter at any stage. Bizarrely of all - and this had to be some sort of elaborate in joke - the house was scaled incorrectly and stuck in a field so that on wide shot it was obviously a scaled version with a big tree over it. Do not buy this DVD unless you wish to study the art of how not to make a movie. I deeply resented spending dosh on this although frankly experience warned me - tapping away in the back of the Hewitt brain - that the cover looked deeply, deeply suspect.


Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs
by Steve Brusatte
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.75

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars larger than life (almost), 25 Sep 2010
This review is from: Dinosaurs (Hardcover)
I am unashamed to confess to a sudden dinosaur phase at my own cretacious-tertiary boundary (ie 49-50). This was recommended to me by a colleague with children. Frankly I am amased that any child can open this book without some form of mechanical help. It is HUGE and although some note that this is a disadvantage, it adds to the drama and the appeal of the contents. This is a lavishly produced, beautifully made book - the computer generated graphics are state of the art: these glorious beasts glower out at you from black glossy paper. Each geological era is well summarised, and the entry for each specimen is to the point. The book reflects recent speculation on dinosaur posture and the dinosaur-bird link premised on recent fossil finds in China. This may not be new to most of you, but frankly I am still shocked at the prospect of T-Rex having feathers. It is well worth the price and will enlighten many a winter evening, when glass of claret in hand, I shall lean back on my chesterfield and romp through the art work. Someone will have to hold the wine glass though, and obviously turn the pages. My only issue with Brusatte is, of course, his utter conviction over the meteor impact. There is no mention of recent work into vulcanism and the emergence of the Decaan traps, work that has been so influencial on extinction theory generally - but this is a quibble. Latest thinking is that a meteor impact was the coup du grace of already extensive siesmic activity due to mantel pluming and tectonics. BUT. This is a must for all dinosaur enthusiasts. Come and get me T-Rex, you big turkey! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


Supernatural - Fifth Season Part 2 [DVD]
Supernatural - Fifth Season Part 2 [DVD]
Offered by direct-2-u
Price: 19.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Supernatural Staggers Home, 8 Sep 2010
I have just viewed the second part of the fifth series. Episodes 12-22 improved on some of the earlier defects I found personally with 1-11 (see reviews for part one), and in many places I found myself enjoying the humour again and the action. It ended a good show and was in most cases fun to watch, but the difficulties have multiplied since the first two series; in part because of earlier high standards, in part because the overall demons-angel-heaven-hell story arc changed the nature of the show itself, and finally because the plot became frankly nonsensical. Working the book of revelation and judgement day into what started out as a folksy-urban legend yarn was a tall order, and one that showed real inspiration, but portraying multiple biblical conspiracies and betrayals through an extended metaphor of brotherly love and paternal resentment just fogged up in endless rather poinless characters and subplots. With the best will in the world - and great enthusiasm for this show - I was often completely lost.

Drama requires the sort of simplicity Occam applied to theories, and without wanting to sound functionalist, characters must serve some purpose: in the fifth series they often gave the sense of merely filling time. Cramming the last few episodes with many former stars from the show helped with continuity, but it added other plot holes (Adam's return was bizarre; and bringing back the Twister in a slightly advanced role was also bizarre). The portrayal of the four horsemen was inspired, and the Devil had his moments, but ultimately the show could not escape from the tautology of the biblical basis of the series itself - why are we doing this, asks Sam to Adam, and I found myself saying to my TV set `Why indeed!' Ultimately for me the absence of God (and I mean this not quite in the literal sense) left a massive hole in the meaning of the plot and the conclusion itself. Even the hint that Chuck is more than who is supposed to be at the end did not make up for this absence, and of course there were no shots of Jared semi naked to compensate for this either.

Sam and Dean personified the uniqueness of humanity in defying predestiny, but getting us to the end felt improvised and rushed. The final was well acted but I felt it was an anti-climax. As fans we have to be critical as well as supportive, and honest amongst ourselves. This was not the best series and when it returns, it needs to go in a different direction, with different script writers and a whole new take on the supernatural. It doesnt look as if this will happen.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4