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Nicola Jarvis (Herts, UK)

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Concert I [DVD] [2003] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Concert I [DVD] [2003] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Emma Shapplin

2.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful artist, awful DVD., 11 April 2008
There are so many things wrong with this dreadful DVD. Ultimately, there are only six songs on here really. Spente Le Stelle is performed twice (once with fireworks, once without) and 'Alleluia' doesn't include Emma performing at all. The actual concert lasts, as a result, about twenty-five minutes.

As for the recording - it seemed like some kids with a camara were filming it. The camara probably only spends 50% of its time on Emma herself, the rest is focusing on the audience, or at her feet, or at the conducter and so on and so fourth. The picture is awful too. The action is slightly in front of the sound too so it looks like it was all mimed/fake.

The sound... I have never heard anything so bad. It sounds as if they recorded it with Windows Sound Recorder. Her voice is fuzzy and the music distant.

As for the concert itself, there isn't much to look at, only one costume change (neither costumes are anything amazing) no creative sets and no dancers, there is nothing special going on here.

There are no DVD extras. No sound option, no subtitles, no interview. There are three music videos (one of them is the rare 'Discovering Yourself') - the only good thing about this whole DVD and why this has two stars and not one.

Only buy this if you insist on having Emma's music videos, because the rest of it is a bad joke. This DVD could have been so much more. The technical team have failed Emma immensely here. She is fantastic live with a tremendous voice, it's just a shame what a let-down this DVD is.

Here are the contents of the DVD:

1. Vedi, Maria...
2. Ira Di Dio
3. Spente Le Stelle
4. Miserere Venere
5. Cuor Senza Sangue
6. Lucifero Quel Giorno
7. Spente Le Stelle
8. Alleluia


1. Spente Le Stelle
2. Cuor Senza Sangue
3. Discovering Yourself
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 20, 2009 2:25 PM GMT

Atonement [DVD] [2007]
Atonement [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Keira Knightley
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £2.68

9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, but empty., 4 April 2008
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Strangely enough, I feel exactly the same way about this film as I do about the source material. Like the book, this film is aesthetically pleasing. It is poetically shot, the performances from the cast are astonishing, especially the three Briony's. There is a sense of foreboding as the film starts in a everyday home, as the haunting score by award winning Dario Marianelli sweeps in. The costumes are beautiful, and the image of Keira Knightley in her stunning green gown will probably never leave me.

There is a lot to see here, but the film's short-comings are through no fault of the film makers who have created probably the perfect adaptation, but the source material. Ian McEwan's novel of the same name is a beautifully written book, full of Latinate language and lush imagery. McEwan's failure is to come up with not only an engaging story, but to flesh out the characters that could make the plot work. He failed on both counts. And so, ever so loyally, the novel is adapted to screen, and the exact same problems are translated there. There was not one unconvincing performance in the entire film; Keira Knightley and James McAvoy did all that they can, which was more than enough (and definitely Keira's best performance since Pride & Prejudice) but the characters are somewhat mechanical. Characterisation is neglected; motivations are one dimensional; emotional engagement with the protagonists is a real effort.

The ending is technically tragic, and potentially upsetting, but you may sit there and wonder why you are not saddened by the ending. It is probably because you do not care, and the fault would not lay with you. When I left the cinema with my friend we looked at each other and we knew how we both felt - absolutely nothing. It was not a bad film, but it is so soulless. I did not feel sad, I did not feel happy, I did not care, I did not laugh, I did not cry. I felt absolutely nothing. All I know is that this film produced a fantastic score which certainly evokes emotions on its own, especially 'Elegy For Dunkirk'.

Your enjoyment of this film wholly depends on what you look for in a film. Film critics have gone wild over this film, and it is of little wonder. Film critics who look for more than the entertainment factor (and sometimes do not consider it at all) in films notice other things that the mass audience probably just will not be interested in. The four minute scene spanning Robbie on the beach at Dunkirk probably bores most people, for the film critic the scene is endlessly interesting. I'd recommend this film to avid film goers who know a lot about cinema and its dynamics, or perhaps film students. For the person who wants to stay in on a Saturday night and be entertained this film probably is not for them, as on a fully engagement and entertainment criteria, this film is rather empty.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2008 1:46 PM BST

4 O'clock
4 O'clock
Price: £22.60

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another memorable EP from Emilie, 21 Mar. 2008
This review is from: 4 O'clock (Audio CD)
As active as ever, Emilie releases yet more new material for her die-hard fans to rip their teeth into which is continuing down the 'Opheliac' path regarding style and genre.

Comparisons with her previous EP are inevitible, and this EP is the clear winner, for there are no 'repeats' (unless you put 'Organ Grinder' in that category, but this could only previously be found on the Saw III soundtrack) and this EP flows and makes more sense as a whole. Far more atmospheric than the Liar/Dead Is The New Alive EP. Generally speaking, this EP follows the exact format as its predecessor, giving us a few original tracks, some remixes from Opheliac and some random extras.

The main focus is the title track, which makes this whole EP worth buying, regardless if you like the other tracks or not. Emilie has consistently tried to make her sound essentially Victorian Gothic, or, in other words, to bring us to her Victorian Asylum; this song succeeds with honours. The lyrics work on two levels: the literal and metaphorical. Metaphorically it tackles insomnia, but literally it takes us back to the Victorian period and the situation that women endured in lunatic asylums. With its regular chimes, brooding harpsichord and thoughtful vocals, this quirky, gothic half-ballad treats us to a haunting listening experience.

'My Fairweather Friend' is somewhat of an echo of 'In The Lake' from the L/DITNA EP. It's a bit of a filler that would have suited her 'A Bit o' This & That' album. The upshot of this EP is the fewer remixes, but even so, these remixes are rather good, particularly the Filthy Victorian Mix of 'Swallow' (one of the firm favourite songs from 'Opheliac' of many fans). The 'Swallow' remixes rely heavily on the extroverted bass lines which gives them a refreshing boost. The remix of 'Gothic Lolita' is genuinely freaky. As the title of the remix suggests, less emphasis on music is displayed and is replaced with frightening sound effects with a little and faint violin playing throughout.

Many fans will be pleased to find 'Organ Grinder' on here, previously available, but hard to get hold of, nonetheless. For those unfamiliar with it, it is a fast paced electric violin piece in the same vein as the 'Unlaced' album.

The words from 'Asylum' is purely Emilie reading out excerpts from her upcoming book - a shameless plug (why not, on your own CD?) which people are not likely to appreciate. They are read out with the same production as her poetry from the 'Opheliac' album. Her acting voice can be a bit grating, and the sound effects and her leaning away from the mic can make actual listening very distracting.

There is a hidden track as track nine (it starts off sounding like it continues from the book reading, the song actually starts 40 seconds in). A cover of Alice Cooper's 'Is It My Body'. Performed with Harpsicord and electrical sounds and too quiet vocals, it can be quite entertaining, but there is a good reason that it is merely hidden and not advertised.

Here is the tracklisting:

1. 4 O'Clock
2. My Fairweather Friend
3. Gothic Lolita (Bad Poetry Mix)
4. Swallow (Filthy Victorian Mix)
5. Swallow (Oyster Mix)
6. Organ Grinder
7. Excerpts From "The Asylum"
8. Words from "The Asylum"
9. Is It My Body? (hidden track)

Overall, I would say this EP is well worth buying. The title track is excellent, and the remixes memorable. The book reading and the second track let this disc down a bit but it is a fine addition to an Emilie Autumn collection.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 23, 2008 2:05 PM BST

Trees They Grow So High
Trees They Grow So High
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £26.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do not buy this version., 22 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Trees They Grow So High (Audio CD)
Everyone selling this CD on this product page is trying to rip you off. This album is readily available for under a fiver here on Amazon and in other places.

The Thirty-Nine Steps (Oxford World's Classics)
The Thirty-Nine Steps (Oxford World's Classics)
by John Buchan
Edition: Paperback

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not to be taken too seriously., 13 Oct. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Being a short novel that was published in 1915 do not expect 'The Da Vinci Code', but you can expect the slight innovative ideas that were bounced around during this period that brings us the post-modern version of the thriller we have today.

It is dated for obvious reasons - the cliff-hangers and non-stop incidental action is something current readers of thrillers will slam as cheesy, unlikely and clumsy (though they were slightly more original during the time). Obviously there are early twentieth-century colloquialisms and slang terms with the odd Scottish dialect placed here and there. The gender bias is a bit shocking; there are not any female characters in this at all (unless you include housemaids and fat women on buses) - this is an extremely boyish novel and many female readers may find it hard to appreciate considering the protagonist's primary concern is to be manly. Lastly, there are the common attitudes of the day which may be regarded as offensive to today's readers (there are some obvious anti-Semitic sentiments in the story) and Germans are considered the common enemy (unsurprisingly). All that said, do not be fooled by the 'Classic' status by the publishers; it's in the first-person narrative that has a verbal, colloquial tone, making this novel an extremely laid-back, easy read.

We are treated to mad several weeks following the hero, Richard Hannay, who is on the run from the police and "the Black Stone" (German spies) and so we get to see him in many disguises, telling many lies, meeting a shocking amount of nice people up in the Scottish moors who he knows to trust instantly and then heads back down to London to save the United Kingdom from German spies pretty much on his lonesome. Far-fetched would be an understatement, but so is James Bond, Bruce Willis in a white vest and Dan Brown novels, so if you can turn your brain off when you are watching action films or reading daft novels there's no reason why you can't do the same for this book. It's just a bit of fun, with the odd dash of political statement. If you do not take it too seriously, you can have a fun few hours reading through this slim volume (the actual story is 104 pages long) and it's interesting to see the early rise of the spy/thriller novel. Like Dan Brown, do not expect anything deep or profound, it really is just daft, unlikely action from beginning to end.

A Bit O' This & That
A Bit O' This & That
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £37.72

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's A Bit O' This & That..., 29 Sept. 2007
This review is from: A Bit O' This & That (Audio CD)
This album is exactly what it says it is. Not a complete album in the ordinary sense, but a collection of b-sides, remixes, live recordings, and random things she recorded on a whim on a kitchen floor. Many of the songs are low quality due to the way they were recorded (not in a recording studio, put it that way). There are no songs here in the 'Opheliac' style.

Many songs sound like cut songs from 'Enchant' and there are two remixes from the 'Enchant' album. She has done a universally terrible remix of Chambermaid (something she confirms in the notes herself) which sounds like a complete mess, and it opens the album. The second song and the second remix is a rather sweeter version than the original 'What If' with a celtic edge and it appears to be a different vocal performance. 'Hollow Like My Soul' and 'I Don't Care Much' are jazzy reject songs from Enchant. 'I Know It's Over', 'All My Loving' (a Beatles cover) and 'With Every Passing Day' all have very poor recording quality.

Elsewhere we have the comical rendition of 'The Star Sprangled Banner' which she attempts to sing in her unique way. It's funny, but also a bit cringe worthy. In the notes she said she recorded it to show people that it was a bad idea to ask her to sing the anthem live. There are two live violin recordings of 'Sonata in D Minor' and 'Ancient Grounds'. There is a harpsichord instrumental of the classic 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life'. The song which would probably make most people want to buy this album is the single she released in 2001 which is randomly squeezed in called 'By The Sword' which is a poppy, rocky kind of song with a punch. For me, however, there are only two songs on here that are worth listening to, and that's the ballad 'Find Me A Man' and the Shakespeare inspired 'O Mistress Mine' which is a song that was originally going to be on a Shakespeare album she was working on, but scraped. Lastly, there is the song 'Miss Lucy Had Some Leeches' which is three songs, the first being an acapella of a children's playground game (like 'Oranges and Lemons' for example), a second song comes on which is short and sweet, and the third song has no music, just some very eerie/fightening noises. Her vocals are tampered with and layered.

The packaging is exactly the same as the Enchant packaging that has been released along with this. It comes as a normal CD sized book with a thin card board sleeve that covers it. Inside you have several pages without photos and artwork, just Emilie penning notes on each song as to why she recorded it and what she thinks of it, which is a cute addition to it all.

As one can expect with such albums, it doesn't carry much substance but there is the odd song that is worth listening to. Here is the tracklisting in its entirety:

1. Chambermaid (Space Mix)
2. What If (Celtic Mix)
3. Hollow Like My Soul
4. By The Sword
5. I Don't Care Much
6. I Know It's Over
7. Find Me A Man
8. O Mistress Mine
9. The Star Sprangled Banner
10. All My Loving
11. Sonata in D Minor
12. Ancient Grounds
13. Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
14. With Every Passing Day
15. Miss Lucy Had Some Leeches

Over all, I think this is a CD that only die-hard fans should buy. Casual buyers will not find much to appreciate here, and even avid fans may find it difficult to appreciate too.

Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £69.25

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emilie is in a league of her own., 29 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Enchant (Audio CD)
When you come across Emilie Autumn fans, you may well find that many are divided. Many love THIS Emilie, the Emilie that they call the "Enchant Era" whilst others enjoy the "Victorindustrual" era. Bear in mind though, that there are not many people that enjoy the latter era and dislike 'Enchant'; it's a completely different type of music, but Emilie back then was still unique and this album provides us with music which is radically different to what she does now, but it's also different compared to anything other artist due to the albums eclectic material.

This album is not pigeonholed for an audience; when the album opens up with 'Prologue: Across The Sky' you will believe that you have stumbled into a fairy wonderland which sounds like a bizarre collaboration between Enigma and Enya but as the album continues you were treated to mild blues/jazz like Second Hand Faith, rocky-pop numbers like 'Chambermaid', pop/techno/violin songs like the catchy 'Juliet' and pretty haunting ballads like 'Epilogue: What If'. I'd say that if you don't like the jazzy sound, you may not like the majority of the album, but there are enough songs on it without the jazz to pull this through for you. The standout songs are 'Across The Sky', 'Chambermaid', 'Rapunzel' and 'What If'.

As to Emilie's performance - it is very different to her later CDs. None of this is rock or industrial really, she sings all the songs straight with her real voice (no growls). As to her violin playing it is highly played down on this album, but is obviously present in songs such as 'What If', 'Juliet' and 'Remember'. A lot of the album is electronic but a piano and violin can be heard pretty much throughout, even if not on the forefront. Unlike other albums, Emilie didn't do this album by herself so it's not purely her production wizardry and strong instrumental playing.

Enchant has reached cult and classic status because there is simply a song on here for everyone but is hard to obtain. It has been more or less impossible to get until August this year when it was released again in a special boxset for a limited amount only (3000 copies). This is the same product, and if you don't snap it up now you won't get the opportunity again for a very long time, possibly never. As it is, the boxset (if you can call it that) is quite pricey and you may not regard it being worth your money, as you can buy the album legally on download through her website for a quarter of the price. The packaging comes as a normal CD sized book with a thin card board sleeve that covers it. Inside you have several pages but there is not much artwork to be seen, and there are zero photos. There is only lyrics written by Emilie's own hand, but it is barely eligible, so if you want the lyrics you will still have to log on the net and find them that way, despite having them in your hand. The CD itself does not have any bonus songs or material. It is exactly as it was in its original release.

Becoming Jane [DVD] [2007]
Becoming Jane [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Anne Hathaway
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £3.11

17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly unconvincing., 19 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Becoming Jane [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I have just watched this film and I can safely say that I was extremely disappointed, but then my expectations were never high in the first place as I've heard nothing but negative comments about the film. I tried to not let this affect my opinion of the film, but my efforts were pointless, as the film really does merit it's own clear inferiority without anyone needing to tell you so.

The biggest problem with this film was the casting. The film didn't stand a chance after they cast a completely inappropriate lead. I can't tell if the problem was Anne Hathaway dragging everyone down as they all had to act opposite her, or if absolutely everyone in the film were miscast (excepting James McAvoy). The biggest problem was clearly Hathaway who led the most unconvincing performance I have ever come across in film. Yes, she is that bad. She does not suit the role, and her accent is unbearably off. She does not have the charisma, or the class to pull of an intelligent witty persona like Jane Austen. Her delivery of dialogue was forced and childish - like she had never been a film before. Hathaway delivered the famous 'Northanger Abbey' speech about women writers in a way that I would never have imagined, it lacked any passion or conviction and it was one of the biggest things that Austen felt so passionately about. I guess it's a hard job portraying 'the' Jane Austen, but honestly, I think Captain Jack Sparrow would have done a better job - at least some emotion would have been injected into the role.

As a result there is a lack of connection between protagonist and viewer and I little cared for anything that happened to her. I also could not find the sudden turn of passion for Tom at all. The plot is okayish. Nothing amazing, and it doesn't have a sugary sweet ending like you would expect anything to do with Jane Austen to have, but really, this film leaves a lot to be desired. It just lacked atmosphere and charm. It made me want to put 'Pride And Prejudice' (2005) back into my DVD player. All in all, the film can't get past the bad casting; it makes everything else about the film redundant, which is a shame really, considering the music, the costumes and the settings were all rather nice.

Be With You
Be With You
Offered by Dragon Heaven
Price: £11.40

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A poor rendition of Sissel's classic., 13 Sept. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Be With You (Audio CD)
I guess the only consolation about this poorly packed single is that it is cheap - you get what you pay for. It's a two track single; the main song and the instrumental version. The packaging is in an album sized jewel case, with a leaflet that has seven year old photos of Sarah from the 'La Luna' era, with lyrics of the song in both Japanese and English (it being a Japanese import after all). The main track is the main theme song from the upcoming new Pokemon movie and she sings with Chris Thompson, who some Sarah Brightman fans may recognise from her 'Fly' album.

I am a huge Sarah Brightman fan - I have all of her cds, obscure and mainstream, but this single is the biggest disappointment I have had from her. There are several reasons for this, but the most alarming reason is that Sarah's vocals are really not that good, she is too soft with no signs of power that she displayed previously in other recordings. She is drowned out by a sometimes out of tune Chris Thompson, who sounded brilliant on her 'Fly' album, but after over a decade, his voice has grown more husky and just sounds odd.

I have a few Sarah singles, and all of them have some kind of credible b-side or remix - this one has a poor instrumental version which brings nothing to the table. The arrangement is from the film so her upcoming album might have a new arrangement - this one, however, is sugary with chocolate drops (as you would expect from a kids movie).

My last complaint is that it isn't a new song at all, it's a cover. I'm not against covers or anything, but what a pointless song to cover when you bring nothing new to it, or a new interpretation. Whilst this version lacks anything that makes it memorable, the original version by Sissel with Espen Lind is exceptional. Sissel's vocals are powerful, Espen's, complementing. There is no contest here. This is a wonderful song, but only Sissel's version from her album 'All Good Things', there, named 'Where The Lost Ones Go'. Other people have started to cover this lately, including Katherine Jenkins and Cortes, but they all pale in comparison.

If you are a devout Sarah Brightman fan, you have already made your mind up to buy this, I suppose, and at such a price, why not? Might as well take a chance; may be worth something later on. But if you are just curious about her new sound, wait for her next album which comes out early 2008. Maybe on the album the arrangement of this song may be different making it a little bit better. Whilst you are waiting for that album, but Sissel's 'All Good Things' to hear how this song should be done.

by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, dull story., 10 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
Listening to the hype, I went out and read this as fast as I could and planned to see the film adaptation immediately after. I succeeded in doing this.

There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this is probably the must beautifully written book I have had the fortune to read. He plays with language venturing into emotions, philosophies and imagination. His descriptions are vivid with his unique set of similes and metaphors, along with adjectives you would not expect to be teamed up with certain objects and landscapes. His exploration into a thirteen year old child's mind is extraordinary - he creates an atmospheric strangeness about her, contrasting her imaginary world and wild thoughts against the straightforward minds of the adults.

Equally, I never felt the hardship that soldiers went through in the wars until I read this book. McEwan effortlessly depicted the pain and struggle that Robbie goes through in northern France in the most heartbreaking manner. The true horrors of the period are brought to life by McEwan's brilliantly crafted arrangement of vocabulary.

Despite the outstanding writing, I did not enjoy this book much. It had its moments of excitement and suspense, but all in all, I found it difficult to turn the pages. Sometimes, I felt it was, perhaps, too arty as ninety per cent of a page could be a description or taking the reader into philosophy. I appreciated it, but personally, I wanted a story, and if all of the diversions were taken out of this book I believe it could have been a sixty paged novella. As it is, McEwan's style is relied heavily upon to pull this story through.

I do see the fuss, but if you are after a plain good story, this is not the book to satisfy you. It's simply about a thirteen year old girl that witnesses things she does not understand, and fabricates an idea of what she thinks it means, and ends up destroying the lives of her sister and her lover. It's a fine exploration of guilt and forgiveness, of making mistakes and learning from them. So, if you are after a very well written book, and want to marvel at the pure genius of a writer, this is the book for you. I personally found a lot of it a struggle despite appreciating the talent on display.

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