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

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How Do You Know [DVD] [2011]
How Do You Know [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Reese Witherspoon
Price: £2.91

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

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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

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
Price: £2.47

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: £21.95

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, 500g
Nescafé Blend 37 Coffee, 500g
Offered by UK Business Supplies
Price: £16.99

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

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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
Price: £2.64

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.

After the Thin Man
After the Thin Man
Offered by FREETIME
Price: £13.68

4.0 out of 5 stars Sparkling Follow-Up to The Thin Man, 24 Jan. 2013
This review is from: After the Thin Man (DVD)
The Thin Man is quite well-known and launched a further five sequels, of which this was the first. I've not seen any of these on TV and I've just bought The Thin Man Collection, so my review is of the film not of this actual DVD release.

Two years after The Thin Man we see the sleuthing married couple, the debonair William Powell and beguiling Myrna Loy, plus dog, Asta take on a new case that involves an early prominent role for James Stewart. There's murder, family disputes and shoot-outs but if you're like me, it's not the actual sleuthing and case that makes these delightful movies, but the interplay of the couple and their social interaction that make them tick and so utterly enjoyable.

The chemistry between the two is still there, very much and beautifully done, but perhaps less intense than the original movie and Asta is again very much a feature. There's the odd tipple, or two, with Powell displaying his trademark excellence as the happy and oh-so obliging drunk.

At over 100 minutes it's quite a bit longer than the original and this is taken up by the detective work but if you like this sort of nostalgic old silver screen movie, you will hardly notice, let alone mind. The transfer - on the source mentioned - and could well be the same on all releases - is good to very good, without much flicker or scratches and mixes that old silver screen luminescence with fair detail. It's directed again, by W S Van Dyke.

The original is a superb film that remains a favourite of mine, though I am about half the age these movies and would get 5 stars. After the Thin Man is nearly as good and whilst many could easily give stars, for comparative sake, it's going to have to be four.

Another Happy Day
Another Happy Day
Dvd ~ Ellen Barkin
Offered by *Rare-Film-Finders*
Price: £11.86

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Certificate 15, not 'U'!, 22 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Another Happy Day (DVD)
Sam Levinson's (son of director Barry) 2011 family drama, which he also wrote, is one of those rather frenetic affairs, with the camera eavesdropping on the all-too-often trite and somewhat banal conversations of a probably all-too-typical U.S. family. Events surrounding an imminent wedding open up old wounds as family members, estranged relatives and sick elderly parents all bring to the fore their own dilemmas.

I viewed it on Sky Movies Indie and it has 'indie' written all over it, for which, on this occasion, isn't necessarily a good thing.

The cast, which combines talented and respected names - such as Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, Ellen Burstyn and Thomas Haden Church (Sideways) mix with relative unknowns but this doesn't make the mix sweeter or the recipe any richer. The acting veers toward heated melodrama rather than fine and nuanced performances, leading you to find it hard to like or bond with any of them.

I don't follow British soaps and whilst I'm not directly comparing this with that, I think an affiliation and enjoyment of everyday family issues would get a lot more from this than I did. The comedy element is often injected oddly, so we are not sure if it's funny, in bad taste or just odd people saying odd things.

What will probably put most off, or at least completing the whole disc is its length; almost two hours isn't going to be a huge pile of fun if you're not following/enjoying any movie. The uninspired direction and often suddenly changing scenarios hardly help for a smooth ride, either.

And, finally, as per my title, U.S. families swear as if it were their second language (including the teenagers), so this is definitely a Certificate 15, not a "U", that Amazon say it is.

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