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Greedo (England)

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2 Days In Paris [DVD] (2007)
2 Days In Paris [DVD] (2007)
Dvd ~ Julie Delpy
Price: £5.00

38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A European style comedy in English - what could possibly be better!?, 12 Oct 2007
This review is from: 2 Days In Paris [DVD] (2007) (DVD)
I love European cinema generally, but often find that comedies (depending on the style of humour) don't work so well when you have to read subtitles (I remember being left particularly cold by French comedy "Les Visiteurs", which was a huge hit in it's native country). So discovering this little gem was an absolute joy. It was written and directed by Julie Delpy (the French Actress who is equally at home performing in English), and for this reason the film has a European sensibility, and yet is performed largely in English. Indeed, when subtitles are employed during the film, it only adds to the humour, as they are used to demonstrate the language barrier between Adam Goldberg's character and his girlfriend's parents.

At a time when "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" have been hailed as the funniest films of the year, it's a shame that this film was not recognised as such. Don't get me wrong, there's a time and a place for those other big, no brain comedies, but this film made me laugh out loud even more, and it's also smarter and wittier, with sharp dialogue throughout. And don't let that make you think that this is purely highbrow comedy either - any film that derives humour from a photo of a naked man with a balloon tied round his privates can hardly be accused of taking itself too seriously! The central premise of the film is also one that many people will be able to relate to, as with European City breaks more affordable these days, many of us have spent weekends abroad with partners, and can relate to all the potential joys and stresses that often result.

Along with writing and directing the film, Julie Delpy also stars, and wrote and performed some of the soundtrack. So I'd just like to salute you Miss Delpy for realising what was obviously a very personal project, and for making me laugh so much with one of the most memorable films of 2007. I for one won't be disappointed if you decide to write and direct again!


Blade Runner (Remastered Directors Cut)
Blade Runner (Remastered Directors Cut)
Dvd ~ Harrison Ford

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute classic, and yet not for everyone..., 2 Oct 2007
Although this film is now accepted as a classic, and regularly appears in "Top Ten" lists, it still manages to divide opinion. Personally I love it, but I guess I should point out the reasons both why some people love this film, and why others don't.

Firstly, the film is aesthetically more pleasing than almost any film I can think of. It has been said that you could pause this film at random, take the still image on the screen, mount it, and hang it on your wall as a piece of art. It is that beautiful. And certainly this was no accident, being largely the result of Ridley Scott's eye and attention to detail, and the wonderful design of the film, which was very influential and even refuses to look dated now.

So, you could turn off the sound and still admire this film - it is so pleasing to the eye - but the opposite is also true: you could turn off the picture and enjoy every minute of Vangelis' unique and atmospheric soundtrack. As I said, aesthetically, this film has few equals.

But to focus on this alone would be to suggest that the film is all style and no substance. Far from it in fact (it was after all based on a Phillip K. Dick novel). There is more philosophical musings in this film than almost any big budget film I can think of. Indeed, the last half hour serves as an incredible meditation on life, from the moment Batty confronts Tyrell (ever wondered what it would be like to be able to meet god, ask that he grants you immortality, and then kill him when he tells you it isn't possible!?!), to the pursuit of Deckard by Batty (with all it's eye catching religious imagery), to the final death scene (what can you say - best and most profound death scene ever?). The rest of the film has plenty of classic lines and reoccurring visual motifs (for instance eyes, origami animals), and thus has much to keep you engaged, but perhaps benefits more than most films from repeated viewing (which explains partly why it flopped in the cinema but then became a classic by virtue of video and DVD).

That the film hangs together at all is a minor miracle, as the script was re-written several times by different people, and the production itself was troubled (for more on both of these issues, check out the book by Paul M. Sammon), but the virtues mentioned above are just some of the reasons why people like me regard this film as one of the greatest ever (if space allowed I could give many more).

But Bladerunner isn't for everyone. In some ways it is more art house than traditional block buster - the action is slow, and at times it's as if it doesn't know what it's meant to be (detective film noir? sci-fi? suspense?). Despite the good looks of Harrison Ford, it also lacks a genuine hero with a cause to get behind. Ford's natural charisma is kept in check by the role, and consider this: he is given the mission to "terminate" four replicants. Two he manages to kill himself (both women, both unarmed and shot in the back!), one is killed by someone else when about kill him, and one dies of its own accord after having saved Deckard's life! Hardly very heroic, is it!? Of course the point is that the character of Batty ends up behaving in a more human and noble way than our 'hero', but the result for people who went to the cinema on the film's initial release expecting to see a new sci-fi film staring Han Solo was largely bafflement and boredom.

So not for everyone, certainly, but the people who love this film REALLY love it. I'm lucky enough to be one of them, hence the five stars.


Classical Music For Dummies
Classical Music For Dummies
by David Pogue
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.89

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and entertaining introduction, 8 Aug 2007
I've been passionate about classical music for about two and a half years now, but was still interested to learn more about things such as (for instance) the structure of a typical symphony (as I was not trained in music myself). This book answered all of my questions, and many more.

Whatever your level of understanding (and including if you are a complete newcomer to the subject), I would say that this is the book for you. It is clearly written, does not assume any prior knowledge, and yet also has plenty of new information for someone such as myself.

Additionally, like many such books, it is written with the aim of being funny and entertaining. The revelation in this case is that the authors actually succeeded in making me laugh on a number of occasions...something that is quite rare with this sort of style I find.

I would advise newcomers to classical music to read this book, and also "The Lives of the Great Composers" by Harold C. Schoenberg (for a more in depth look at particular composers) and "The Rough Guide to Classical Music" by Joe Staines (for reference and advise on which recordings to buy). With these three books under your belt, you'll be ready to fly!


Ys
Ys
Price: £9.91

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable, 3 July 2007
This review is from: Ys (Audio CD)
The first thing that people notice upon hearing Joanna Newsom is her voice, and the second thing is that she plays the harp. Which is a shame, because although both of these things would be the main point of interest with regards to most other artists, in the case of this record, they are perhaps the least worthy of note.

Why? Because on Ys, Joanna Newsom's song writing becomes truly unique. If I had heard her first album before this, I'm not sure I ever would have got to hear Ys. Don't get me wrong, the first album is very good by normal standards...it's just that it is nothing out of the ordinary. Ys on the other hand, is one of the most forward thinking records to have broken through into the mainstream in 2006 (along with Scott Walker's Tilt). Ironic really, because many fans of so called alternative or indie music (ahem) would probably dismiss this as rather twee on first listen. Well, Joanna Newsom has made a record that is far more daring and original than any of their beloved "alternative" rock bands in the last year.

Why is it so unique? Well, the song writing structures are unlike anything I remember hearing in mainstream music. Take, for example, "Only Skin", the longest - and I would say best - track. The tempo varies from moment to moment....melodies come along in little bursts, seeming to emerge like waves from a still pond, before playing themselves out and fading away, the music becoming still again for a while until the next one comes along. The time signature changes within the song! Pop music often gets compared to classical music with no real justification, but in this case, the comparison in valid, especially with the beautiful arrangements.

None of which would endear this record to many people if it wasn't also so accessible and catchy! Whether you like your music popular, or avant-garde, there's a chance you may love this music, so treat yourself to one of the best albums of 2006, and one of the most interesting albums of recent years.


Last Lovers
Last Lovers
by William Wharton
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and inspiring, 10 May 2007
This review is from: Last Lovers (Paperback)
I'd agree with the other two positive reviews (below). Like so many great books and films, Last Lovers alters the way you view the world for a while afterwards, and if you don't feel changed by the emotional conclusion to the tale then you might want to check to make sure your heart is still beating. It is at once poignant, sad, beautiful, and uplifting.

Wharton shows great empathy for the two lead characters. In the case of the painter, this is not surprising (Wharton is a painter himself, and this may/may not be partly autobiographical), but hearing him describe his concerns and desires with regards to his painting is most enlightening - incite that would perhaps be impossible for a non-painter. As for the other character, an elderly blind French lady, I can only guess at where he gained such incite, but the result is an incredibly engaging and thought provoking character, who sheds light on the world not only for the painter, but for the reader also.

A wonderful and magical book!


Black Love
Black Love
Price: £6.82

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite rock album, 11 April 2007
This review is from: Black Love (Audio CD)
It's a bit scary to think that I've lived with this album for over 10 years now! And although I wouldn't say it's my favourite album of all time (I mainly listen to electronic and classical stuff), it is certainly my favourite rock album.

Despite coming to the album as a fan of the previous one (Gentlemen), it took me a little while to warm to Black Love. I wouldn't describe it as difficult as such, but I guess the songs are dark and not overtly catchy. Once I was familiar with it, however, it was hard to imagine how I didn't 'get' it at first.

Perhaps the best thing about this album (especially in this age of single track downloads) is how skilfully it has been put together. The tension is constantly cranked up over the space of 3 or 4 tracks, and then released with a slower number, before the band start to crank it up again. Listening to "Going to Town", it's hard to imagine how they can crank things up any further, but then "Honky's Ladder" kicks in and you realise they can!

Due to the way that the tension is constantly maintained, I also find this album my favourite ever to go running/workout to. I'm sure this wasn't what the band had in mind putting it together, but it's still the case! But in any setting, it's a classic album, and whilst other Whigs albums might contain stronger individual tracks, judged as a whole I think this is their masterpiece.


Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana)
Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana)
by Steve Hagen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A positive step towards awakening, 22 Feb 2007
The best compliment I can give this book is that if someone is interested in learning what Buddhism "is", this is the book that I give them.

You might get the impression from one or two of the other reviews on this page that this is "Buddhism Lite" i.e. that it lacks the comprehensiveness and history of some other books. I don't really think that's the case personally. If the essense and purpose of Buddhism is to become awake, then to me this is the most emphatically "Buddhist" of books. Certainly I would start here, as you can always progress onto more detailed books about the Buddha's life in due course.

Indeed I wouldn't say that this book is only for the novice either, as it would also serve as a useful reminder and meditation to someone more versed in Buddhism. One review below states that it's message is rather repetitive, but I imagine that this is on purpose, and it didn't deter me at all. Without constantly reminding yourself of the message contained within (through various means), the ego tends to re-impose itself, so repetition is necessary.

If you're interested in this subject, I whole-heartedly recommend this book.


Understanding Hubert Selby, Jr. (Understanding Contemporary American Literature)
Understanding Hubert Selby, Jr. (Understanding Contemporary American Literature)
by James Richard Giles
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £33.88

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good companion for the Selby fan, 2 Aug 2006
Selby has been one of my favourite authors for a number of years now, the main reasons being his huge capacity for empathy, and the fact that to me he seems to possess more 'emotional wisdom' than maybe any other artist I have ever encountered (this is evident not only in his books but in interviews with him which you can google or view on the "Requiem for a Dream" DVD).

With that in mind, I was hoping that this book would provide further insight into his books, and hence further wisdom. I wasn't disappointed. It covers his works in chronological order, and delves into both the characters and the resounding themes of his fiction, aiding a better understanding. It is also very readable, and not particularly dense (and thus actually very enjoyable). Rather than being sycophantic, it both praises and critisizes Selby's work.

I'd better mention a few small things which prevented me from giving the book five stars, although they didn't really detract from my own personal enjoyment. Firstly, it is only about 150 pages long, and the pages aren't very big. Therefore at that price tag it only represents value to someone who is very interested in the subject matter. Secondly, it only covers his first four novels plus his collection of short stories, thus the final two novels are not mentioned (an updated version would be great). Lastly, there are a number of small typos - not something that bothered me at all, but thought I'd mention it.

Overall, I think it's fair to say that this book would earn 0 stars from someone with no interest in the subject matter, but for a fan of Selby's work, it's probably worth 5 stars, and I didn't regret my purchase at all, despite the price tag.


The Lives Of The Great Composers: Third Edition
The Lives Of The Great Composers: Third Edition
by Harold C. Schonberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.59

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read, 1 July 2005
The biggest relief reading this book has been that it avoids all the pompous musical analysis that often plague books on this subject. As a result, it manages to be both informative and readible...in fact I raced through it. An excellent starting point, from which the reader can go on to investigate particular composers in greater depth should they choose. Recommended.


The Art of Mixing (Mix Pro Audio Series)
The Art of Mixing (Mix Pro Audio Series)
by David Gibson
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must read" for those new to mixing., 8 May 2003
I wouldn't award 5 stars lightly, but this book really is a "must read" for anyone new to this area (in my opinion). I don't know if Gibson was the first to place volume, frequency, and panning on the three axis, and to represent this visually, but the results are extremely enlightening. I now feel like I understand what I am trying to achieve in terms of placing different sounds/instruments in a mix, and the boundaries that I am operating in. Additionally, Gibson's descriptions of effects such as delay and reverb are extremely useful. If you want to learn how to mix, buy it!


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