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Reviews Written by
Tim Kidner "Hucklebrook Hound" (Salisbury, UK)

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Where The Buffalo Roam [DVD]
Where The Buffalo Roam [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bill Murray
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Murray is Perfect..., 27 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Where The Buffalo Roam [DVD] (DVD)
Having just seen The Rum Diaries, starring Johnny Depp, now twice having portrayed the colourful and so interesting maverick journalist D S Hunter Thompson (first in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, directed by Terry Gilliam), here is the original outing, via Bill Murray.

Apparently, the movie went down like a lead balloon; indeed, like the source material, it's taken a good long while for the world to catch up him and his chaotic, drink & drug fuelled escapades.

Where the Buffalo Roam is much less road-movie than Fear & and not as pretty, scenery-wise as The Rum Diaries, yet it more than makes up the threesome of Hunter Thompson-based biography movies. From the outset, you know this is a weird one and will require almost all to be in a suitable mood, to embrace and appreciate its frankly manic and often plain daft (& childish) antics and 'story'.

However, the main thrust seems to be about Thompson's relationship with Richard Nixon, or at least what he wrote and thought of that particular President, leading to covering Nixon's 1972 Presidential campaign, where chaos rules supreme on the campaign plane.

Murray, with his stumbling and mumbling dead-pan comedic skill is perfect and can play stoned and drunk with the best of them - different to Depp, but just as convincing and entertainingly. Peter Coyote, as Lazlo, Thompson's unorthodox attorney is just as odd but compliments Murray whenever they appear together.

There are times when the gags and comedy get a bit grating and annoying but I found the film better than I thought it was going to be - it was cheap (£5) and then reduced (25%) in the HMV's (possible?) closing-down sale.

If you're in-tune for something warped, but less disturbing and hallucinatory than Fear & Loathing, particularly if you are familiar with and enjoy Hunter Thompson then this could be the bargain DVD for you. If you like a good Bill Murray comedy, too, then this it's a must.

Junkhearts [DVD]
Junkhearts [DVD]
Dvd ~ Eddie Marsan
Price: £9.50

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marsden is King, here, 26 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Junkhearts [DVD] (DVD)
I'm surprised, here on Amazon at how many of the handful of reviewers had seen Junkhearts 'properly', at local indie arts centres and community cinemas - I saw it on Sky Movies Indie.

It was stuck away, out of sight in the graveyard slot and (yet again) Radio Times stuck two stars on (out of five) and only provided a brief synopsis, which all those who've made the effort to actually see the flipping film will know, hardly glows with optimism! Nothing about the great acting or the actual experience of actually seeing it.

Those brave enough to try it, as those reviewers who seem so knowledgeable have really appreciated this gritty little drama have been amply rewarded. Many really enjoy Marsden's work - I frankly, usually hate most of the roles he plays and that always (but shouldn't, I know) tars him with my brush of indifference and frankly, my own ignorance.

Taking a gentler role but also a far deeper one, he still totally unflatters himself as the PTSD suffering ex-soldier, who now leads a life stocking up on miniatures of alcoholic spirits from the local corner shop and not looking after himself. In fact, the make-up department has done a really excellent, frighteningly real job at making him look as an alcoholic could/would, with facial psoriasis, blotches, it's all there.

The story of how he first invites young rough-sleeper Lynette into his badly maintained and dirty flat as he feels a certain resonance, maybe to his own daughter, who he has not seen for many years. The way he has shut down the blinds through drink to try and escape the nightmarish flashbacks he suffers and how these slowly un-peel as Lynette gives him both something else to think about and her youthful optimism is both quietly life affirming but also handled very realistically.

There are no flashes of miracles or finding the Lord, or even finding a new job or quitting drinking for Marsden's character, because this is real life with real people and not Hollywood made up tosh. Sure, it's an ugly side of life we'd all rather didn't exist and if it has to, somewhere else and afflicting someONE else, please!

The little details don't really need a mention - it's the film as a whole you're going to see and remember and at times you do really wonder if the story, or the people ever do raise their chins above the floods of poverty and misery. People are usually stronger and more resilient than we are lead to believe, if they are given the chance to do the things they need, if they can be left to do it their own way and in their own time, but just given a gentle push by something profound and strong.

As other reviewers have said, this really is a good Brit drama and one worth rooting out, and rooting for.

How Do You Know [DVD] [2011]
How Do You Know [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Reese Witherspoon
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.50

1.0 out of 5 stars Rom Com without the 'rom', or the 'com'..., 26 Jan. 2013
This review is from: How Do You Know [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
If like me, you've followed Jack Nicolson for years and want to check out everything he's ever done, simply pretend that you didn't read his name on this cast list - save two hours of your precious life as this lot are definitely not worth it, what is sadder is that they genuinely seem to think that they are!

Reece Witherspoon is as attractive as always but Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd must surely take equal honours as THE most boring men in Hollywood, let alone two hunks that Witherspoon's character would want to actually date!

She's supposed to a softball champ but since dropped from the National team hits a low spot and so baseball hot-shot (Wilson) gets her attention but she can't seem to make him commit to anything serious. Rudd plays a (yawn) businessman who is honest and true (bigger yawn) but is bogged down and hampered by his father's (Nicolson) dodgy dealings. If you're a sports fan, and are expecting some action, (I don't think) we see either sports champ actually playing, though there were some shots in/around/above a stadium or two.

Labelled as a rom-com, such pap would normally squeeze under my radar by a couple of hundred of miles but when there's almost no "rom" and even less "com" (which category does a lengthy argument/discussion about colour matching towels fit into?) then I should have gone with every instinct and avoided.

Soft Beds Hard Battles [DVD] [1974]
Soft Beds Hard Battles [DVD] [1974]
Dvd ~ Peter Sellers
Offered by Get It on TV
Price: £21.22

1.0 out of 5 stars Soft-porn 'Allo 'Allo, 26 Jan. 2013
As we saw in Dr Strangelove, Peter Sellers is extremely adept and talented at playing many roles. However, in this lame and unfunny comedy, he literally falls flat on his (many) face(s).

It might be due to the winds of time and the changing tastes in comedy, but as someone who would have very young at this film's release, I didn't laugh once, neither at the jokes nor the visual slapstick.

Sure, this send-up of everything second world war (Sellers plays all the world leaders, it seems) could have provided many comedy highlights but at times it's just painfully embarrassing. The dodgy accents either grate or annoy. I found the 'story' impossible to follow, assuming there actually was one and within half an hour had lost interest and only followed it to the end for reviewing purposes.

The oft nude working girls of the 1940's Paris-set brothel made this an X-certificate novelty back 40 years ago and today, the toplessness a mere '12' certificate. These are pleasant distractions for the average male viewer of course but the novelty soon wears off and soon we are amidst the awful masks that Sellers wears to turn himself 'Japanese'. Even though the film runs for 90 minutes, it seems far longer.

There's also a young-ish Timothy West as a Cardinal and Curt Jurgens as an SS Officer. I bought it the with the set of three, along with the excellent The Wrong Arm of the Law and Never Let Go. Watch those, forget this.

Another Thin Man [1939]
Another Thin Man [1939]
Dvd ~ William Powell
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £5.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Another Sleuthing Man...., 26 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Another Thin Man [1939] (DVD)
The third in the Thin Man series of features, best bought as The Thin Man Collection boxed set, which includes all six movies and from which I viewed this.

Now with a baby, the sleuthing twosome, the Charles' - William Powell and Myrna Loy, plus dog Asta get involved in a case involving a wealthy businessman, known as The Colonel - a full blooded and fruity performance from C Aubrey Smith. A menacing ex-convict, whose homicidal dreams begin to come reality then lead the super smooth sleuth to unravel a tangle of intrigue, blackmail and kidnapping.

Compared to the previous movies, this case is more involving and is this one is more akin to an Agatha Christie, especially in the quite complex final scene, where all guilty parties are assembled in a room as their defences are bamboozled, until the guilty culprit is at last, revealed. And, of course, it's not who you expect!

Amongst all this is what keeps these lovely old films afloat, the undoubted natural chemistry between the leads, the superbly timed wise-cracks and the snapshot of a society long gone but kept alive by such movies. Director W S Van Dyke fully utilises the comedic opportunities offered by a trick-playing dog and a cute baby but even to me, who normally finds such distractions annoying do not mind one bit and actually enjoy them.

If you already enjoy the Thin Man films, then you will like this one, too. Some say that by this point the franchise had already lost its magic and sparkle and I suppose they could be right. However, it is still enjoyable and Loy and Powell are ever beguiling and sophisticated.

I should probably give three stars but that would denote, under Amazon's system, that it was only "OK". It's not as good the previous 'After the Thin Man' (4 stars) and the original, 5 stars. So, 3.5.

Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan [DVD] (2007)
Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan [DVD] (2007)
Dvd ~ Tadanobu Asano
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.97

4.0 out of 5 stars A Russian film that's about early Genghis Khan, 25 Jan. 2013
Sergei Bodrov's 2007 account of the early life of legendary Mongolian Ghengis Khan, was the intended first part of a trilogy, charting the rise and conquering heroism of the brother who went on to invade half the world.

It's best seen as less of a history lesson and more of a popularist action adventure, with history thrown in. I have to admit that I didn't learn a huge amount and in any case the bracing and sweeping (& often gorgeous) cinematography steal the scenes so much that the subtitles become very second place and it's easy to concentrate less on what is being said. (& read, of course!)

That widescreen spectacle is never less than audacious and is always visually entertaining. From beautiful almost static shots, to full-blooded battle scenes, that are always inventive and involving, this history 'lesson' is very much for modern audiences. Add the requisite slo-mo battle slaying and CGI'd blood spatters, this flick knows both its technology and its target viewers.

So, what sets this apart from any other modern Hollywood historical epic? Well, aside of the above, there are no known actors that we can recognise and relate to, which certainly adds to the authenticity. Then, there's the outstanding locations and scenery, with filming undertaken in Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan and (I guess) cheaper labour costs, actual people instead of CGI'd crowds.

Then, there's the music - the OST would be worth buying on its own, ranging from the poignant to the powerful, often with locally sounding instruments and voices, this really enhances both the mood and tone of the whole movie. Nominated for an Oscar in the Foreign Language category, too, this is one rousing spectacle that entertains, but I'm afraid the Q&A session after would be notable by its non-attendance.

Rumpole of the Bailey - The Complete Collection [DVD] [1978]
Rumpole of the Bailey - The Complete Collection [DVD] [1978]
Dvd ~ Leo McKern
Price: £21.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars £1 a disc, 33p an episode, less than 1p per minute..., 25 Jan. 2013
IF you remember the wonderful old rascally, crumpled barrister that was Rumpole, on your tellies back in the 80's, you'll probably be buying this set for the concise yet involving High Court cases, with Leo McKern (who is actually an Australian!), who's catch phrase was 'she, who must be obeyed!', and not for the sheer value that this set offers.

Whilst Rumpole isn't a drama that falls off the tongue quickly, when talking about past TV, mention him and (at least all the people I asked) they know exactly of him and the drama and even what he looked/sounded like.

Yes, they're dated now, both in production and content but the John Mortimer penned scripts are wonderfully wicked in their modest satire, whilst the cases themselves (at least for me) take a back seat, at least on entertainment grounds. But, at default 4:3 original ratio, they look and sound OK, though the colour's a little flat and grey - but look at any TV studio-bound drama from the period and they're no better.

As the boxset was going to be passed on to my 80+ year old father, I wanted to check the listed 12 and 15 certificate (none are '18' as it says on Amazon). None contain violence beyond an initial crime scene, which absolutely pale compared to what we get today, there are no F words and no sex or nudity. Many of the themes are adult related though, often with drug and sex references and so I guess that it's these that the ratings are based on. Some discs are rated PG.

What I liked most was that I could slip one on and do other things, they're entertaining enough, in their dialogue and TV actors we used to see a lot of, including Peter Bowles, who I used to really like in To the Manor Born, here a High Judge. Yet, if you wanted to sit through one properly, there's enough interest - and of course, the sheer nostalgia of it, too.

Nescafé Blend 37 Coffee 500 g
Nescafé Blend 37 Coffee 500 g
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good Coffee with Good Amazon Deal, 25 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
We all have to watch the pennies, especially now and coffee has never been exactly cheap. If you're an adult of a certain age, you will have tried literally all the instants available, hoping to find the best mix of taste and value.

I've always thought Nescafe as a brand overrated, at least for the price. The 'Original' has the strength but is bitter, especially when made stronger and Gold Blend is smooth but rather tasteless. Only their Alta Rica ever satisfied my instant taste buds, but that's silly money.

One I did quite like, though and which was marketed as a slightly superior, premium blend, was this, one '37'. Darker, smoother with slight but pleasant biscuity after-tastes, making it with 1.5 teaspoons in a mug makes for a strong yet satisfying coffee.

I didn't/don't buy Blend 37 in supermarkets as it's still quite expensive and is generally only available in 100g jars, making it more so. It's not often in offers, either, so I had been buying Sainsburys Gold in 500g tins, for £5.99, this being a good, if unexceptional coffee, but quite drinkable. Then, in their 'wisdom', they removed those and only sold 100g & 200g jars, the latter being £2.99 was excellent value. As I rarely shop in their stores, I got fed up of it always being out of stock when I went in. "It's very popular" is all they could say.

So, when doing my sums and bearing in mind that the Tesco 'Gold' 500g tin I'm just finishing off tasted as boring as boring could be, I was intrigued by Amazon's coffee 'subscription', which in effect gives you 10% off, making this Blend 37 £2.70 per 100g. Tesco's current price (at time of writing) is £3.38 per 100g jar and whilst this is still more than I'd normally pay, I've got it at 2 monthly intervals, which helps spread the cost. I can always add cheaper brands to pad it out and whilst the 280 cups quoted by Amazon is going to be more like 200 mugs, less if you add a little extra for strength, but that's still over 3 mugs per day, over the two months and if you live on your own, that's quite realistic.

If I don't like the deal, I can unsubscribe at any time, or alter the frequency. The tins are post free, come in card boxes and I understand that the price is guaranteed. My first came within 3 days.

Now, that's a tasty coffee with an even tastier deal.

The Tin Star [DVD] [1957]
The Tin Star [DVD] [1957]
Dvd ~ Henry Fonda
Offered by The Trade Inn
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Western for Thinking People..., 25 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The Tin Star [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
1957 was a good year for movies and amongst all the strong contenders, The Tin Star still managed to get Oscar nominated for best original screenplay, by the same screenwriter that brought that real trail-blazing classic, Stagecoach, to life.

Anthony Mann's black & white Western isn't a long, sprawling John Ford epic, nor does it feature Ford's often comical characters but at a fairly concise 92 mins it feels like a real book - a story that's never hurried and which includes proper characterisation and dialogue. Those wanting John Wayne spitting into the dust and cowboys and Indians need look elsewhere...

I've always liked Henry Fonda - and whilst many have pointed out that Mann's main man had previously been James Stewart, Fonda takes that slim thoughtfulness that Stewart eschewed and added dignity as well as grit - maybe somewhere between a Wayne and Stewart mix. You can never take your eyes off Henry Fonda - tall, dark and brooding if there ever was one. Anthony Perkins is (of course) very different to Norman Bates in Pyscho and for those of us who saw him in that long before this earlier work, will not be disappointed. Fonda plays the older, wiser but now turned to bounty hunter ex lawman, who helps out rookie sheriff Perkins, both strategically but morally, too, when an outlaw gang terrorise the town.

The near-silent ending is as tense as you'll find anywhere within any Western - and you will be both too - silent AND tense...

Radio Times gives Tin Star a rare five stars - and you won't see this undervalued and under-known western on TV very often. It does get onto Sky Movies Classics once in a while but I don't recall it ever being on terrestrial TV, at least recently, so the DVD does make good sense. If you like the western genre and not yet seen The Tin Star, you really should...

Cleanskin DVD  [2012]
Cleanskin DVD [2012]
Dvd ~ Sean Bean
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Above Average Modern Brit Action Flick, 25 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Cleanskin DVD [2012] (DVD)
There are many reviews up here, on Amazon, from rubbish to brilliant.

Sean Bean IS Bean (Sean, not the Mr Bean, that's briefly seen on TV) and that's not a bad thing - you know what you are getting with him and here he delivers. Charlotte Rampling adds gravitas and class as a top MI6 boss, though she doesn't have much screen time.

The violence is where it needs to be, story-wise and very well done. Strong, to the point, it pulls no punches but is fairly restrained in its quantity. The London locations make it very real to us Brits and whilst a little 'TV Episode-ish' at times (Spooks has been uttered, more than once) this is a quality, extra-length feature episode.

The story, about Muslims living in London and terrorist cells is both relevant and of course, controversial and everyone will have their own opinion and stance on this and so I'm not 'going there'. However, in comparison to those TV dramas mentioned before, this one seems a lot more complete and sensical and thus, more satisfying, overall.

However, the star has to be almost unknown writer/director Hadi Hajaig. I could find almost nothing about him on IMDb, but that source estimated the film's budget as a mere £2 million. That might sound a lot to you and me, but it really is peanuts, especially when filming in - and over - one of the most expensive cities in the world - and for a 105 min feature film and decent cast, with a couple of real stars, too. At no time did I feel the direction lacking, a bit unexceptional and ordinary, maybe but it always did what it had to. I also found the music suitably rousing/poignant, too.

I saw this on Sky Movies and whilst it was good overall, both the subject matter (a bit grizzly, to be honest) and that it didn't scream 'watch me again' suggests that this is a good rental or TV watch - and thus 3.5 stars.

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