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Random Hangman (Surrey, UK)

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Taken (Extended Harder Cut) [DVD] [2008]
Taken (Extended Harder Cut) [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Liam Neeson
Price: 2.36

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Switch off your brain and enjoy, 5 May 2009
Empire magazine gave "Taken" one star on it's cinema release and three stars on DVD so I watched this with low expectations. How wrong I was. We get a relatively brief set-up so that we know that Liam Neeson a) loves his daughter more than anything and b) is harder than a Rottweiler after a case of Stella, then we're off. She gets kidnapped and Liam decides to get her back (well he IS ex-CIA and his flat is a bit depressing so he may as well get out for a bit).

The next hour and a quarter is a rollicking demonstration of fascinating ways to kill people and also a lesson that killing eastern Europeans in Paris apparently has no legal consequences (I did not know that... hmmm). But it really doesn't matter. This is a brain-off actioner that ensures that all the bad people get what's coming to them. If you enjoy the "Lethal Weapon"/"Man on Fire" type of movie and can suspend your disbelief for a couple of hours, this is a very enjoyable Saturday night romp!

Red Riding Trilogy [DVD]
Red Riding Trilogy [DVD]
Dvd ~ Paddy Considine
Price: 11.25

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim but Gripping, 23 Mar 2009
This review is from: Red Riding Trilogy [DVD] (DVD)
The Red Riding Trilogy tells three stories of crime, journalism and police corruption in Northern England in the 70's and 80's that, as each episode unfurls, reveal to be part of a bigger picture.

The acting is top notch, the production design cleverly reflects the time period (although I don't remember EVERYTHING in the 70's being brown...) and the stories include some genuinely shocking twists.

The most controversial episode will be the 2nd. Based around an investigation into Yorkshire police's handling of the Yorkshire Ripper murders. The story is liberal with it's mixture of fact and fiction and is graphic in it's depiction (or at least "description") of the Ripper's atrocities. It will cause anger in some camps, but famous murderer's crimes have been used time and time again in cinema (often distorting facts) for the sake of entertainment. The idea is to use the reflection of a well known event to tell a different story, but draw the audience further into it by their familiarity of the time/place/setting. And in this, it works.

In summation, Red Riding is three cracking thrillers. Dark, violent and not necessarily comfortable, but as long as you view them as fiction, and not as a history lesson, you can do a LOT worse for a couple of evening's viewing.

Dyson DC25 Multi Floor Lightweight Dyson Ball Upright Vacuum Cleaner for Every Floor Type
Dyson DC25 Multi Floor Lightweight Dyson Ball Upright Vacuum Cleaner for Every Floor Type
Offered by Southern Electric
Price: 252.36

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You get what you pay for!, 13 Feb 2009
We had a VAX cyclone that we bought a year ago. It was heavy, variable in it's effectiveness and VERY noisy. What a difference this Dyson is!

The Dyson is lightweight, very powerful and with the ball mechanism, extremely versatile. We have two black dogs and a cream carpet (stupid? yes, but they go together well ;-) ) and this machine copes with the pet hairs without any trouble at all.

It may cost twice what the VAX cost, but it's 5 times better!!!

The Orphanage [DVD]
The Orphanage [DVD]
Dvd ~ Belen Rueda
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 3.69

2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The right ingredients... but not completely cooked, 26 Aug 2008
This review is from: The Orphanage [DVD] (DVD)
"The Orphanage" is certainly an enjoyable watch. It is beautifully shot, well acted, perfectly paced and fairly satisfying. However, the parts are greater than the sum.

Admittedly, I began watching this thinking that I was going to be seeing some sort of cross between "Don't Look Now" and "The Others", and was surprised to find that although there were occasional unsettling moments, the movie was much gentler than I was expecting. This may have slightly jaded my view (imagine sitting down to watch "Mad Max" and seeing "Herbie" instead and you can understand).

Plot wise (avoiding spoilers), couple with child move to derelict building that used to be an orphanage and strange things start to happen.

The acting really is first class by all concerned, but special mention has to go to Roger Príncep who plays Simón, the couple's child, who is one of the few genuinely non-irritating children to grace our screens in quite a few years, and is a joy to watch.

There are a couple of jumps to be had, some small chills and one moment that made me wince, but ultimately I just came away thinking that what I had watched was "ok". I certainly wouldn't suggest that people avoid this movie, but don't expect to be blown away by it.

Funny Games [DVD]
Funny Games [DVD]
Dvd ~ Naomi Watts

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A break from the norm..., 26 Aug 2008
This review is from: Funny Games [DVD] (DVD)
The basic premise of "Funny Games" is, on paper, run-of-the-mill. Typical American middle-class family are terrorised at their holiday home by a couple of psychotic youths. So far, so common.

However, "Funny Games" takes a well worn formula and turns it on it's head (which cannot be explained without major plot spoilers).

The film retains a permanent sense of disquiet that permeates to the viewer, even when nothing threatening is actually happening. All acts of violence appear off screen, allowing us to imagine the worst of all situations, and we are constantly being wrong footed by suggested plot set-ups (that we have seen many times before) that never come to fruition.

There are a couple of gripes that I had; One example being that I felt that "breaking the fourth wall" (a character talking to the camera) did spoil my immersion once or twice. But most are minor irritations (and again, potential spoilers).

Yes, it's a remake and yes, plenty of viewers will start waxing philosophical about whether it is a joke on the viewer or a damnation of screen violence etc etc.

But ultimately, if you like your movies formulaic and predictable, don't watch "Funny Games", however, if you'd like to see something unusual, daring and EXTREMELY dark, click "buy" immediately.

Halloween: Uncut (Director's Cut Edition) [DVD]
Halloween: Uncut (Director's Cut Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Malcolm Mcdowell
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 8.63

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Appalling... Just in it's own right., 6 May 2008
Already holding great affection for John Carpenter's "Halloween", I knew that Rob Zombie's re-imagining had to be approached with an open and clear mind. This was not a re-make, think of it as a separate entity. And so I did. What was I presented with? One of the worst examples of attempted shock-tactic horror ever witnessed!

I admit that I was geared up for brutality and that suspense would probably be minimised, but to be faced with such weak plotting, obvious "scares" and unoriginal set-pieces was disappointing to say the least.

We know the plot. Young Michael Myers kills his family, wallows in an institution for 15 years and escapes, returning to his home town and more butchery. But Rob Zombie makes such fundamental errors that I am truly surprised that this film can be "enjoyed" by anybody. The first rule of effective horror movie making is to make your victims likeable. The characters here are so loathsome that one roots for them to be dispatched! Even Laurie Strode, our supposed heroine, is irritating to the point where I wished MM would slit her throat, solely to stop her infernal screeching.

The remainder of the characters are (in the majority) either potentially incestuous, bullies, rapists, slobs or slappers. The adult Michael is portrayed as a caricature of the monster he is destined to be, but I have to say that he is possibly the most sympathetic of the lot.

There is nothing to promote this as a decent piece of film-making. It's basically an example of how NOT to make a horror movie, and by the end I admit I was allowing myself to draw those fateful comparisons with the original. Not as a remake. As a demonstration of how two directors can use identical materials and produce such varying degrees of talent (or lack thereof)...

Death Proof (Two-Disc Edition) [DVD]
Death Proof (Two-Disc Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kurt Russell
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 4.13

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tarantino's Dire-logue, 30 April 2008
When listening to a synopsis of "Death Proof", one would be forgiven for thinking that it can't go wrong. Psychopathic killer "Stuntman" Mike has a muscle-car rigged so that only the driver is impervious to mortal damage. He picks up women as passengers and dispatches them (and other road users) using the car as his weapon of choice. Cue mental images of sultry, scantily clad women and automotive mayhem. Sold as an homage to 70's exploitation cinema (even to the extent of damaged film stock and jumpy editing) we're thinking, this MUST be good!

But sadly, Tarantino managed to miss something vital whilst putting his film together... A sense of pace.

"Death Proof" starts promisingly enough with typically trademark Tarantino dialogue, a funky soundtrack and a good-looking cast, but whether due to budget restrictions or QT having slightly too much confidence in his own writing ability, the set-up for the first set-piece is a little too long. When it DOES eventually happen, the action is worth waiting for. Swift, graphic and ever-so-slightly tongue in cheek, we are exposed to vehicular manslaughter of an unprecedented level and move to the edge of our seats as we sense the movie shifting gear (pun intended)...

But then we realise that the engine has stalled and we seem to be coasting along on the small amount of momentum already gained. Hold on, we're back to dialogue again. Lots of it and little that's entertaining. By the time the final showdown arrives we are numb from the neck up and the 15 minutes of stunt filled action that we witness is a disappointing climax.

Tarantino CAN write great dialogue, but would we have enjoyed "Pulp Fiction" if it had solely been two hours of Vincent & Jules discussing fast food in France? Or "Reservoir Dogs" if the excellent "I don't tip" diatribe had been eked out to 90 minutes? No. Because the secret was to intersperse witty banter with heart-thumping excitement.

In short, if you're at someone else's house and spot "Death Proof" on their DVD shelf, pop it into the machine and skip to the crashes because the other 80 minutes of the film that you'll spend listening to sub-par dialogue is time you won't ever get back...

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