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dol0rosa (Europe)

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The Twilight Saga: New Moon - The Score
The Twilight Saga: New Moon - The Score
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 13.11

10 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Score Without A Pulse (And Not In A Sparkly Vampiric Way), 21 Nov 2009
Since finding the Twilight score so surprisingly (and pleasantly) counter to my expectations; fascinatingly atmospheric (holding as much tension as Queen Of The Damned score and as evocative as Interview With The Vampire, while still managing to suggest something new and teenage) enough to make me do an 180 about face on my avoidance of the book (and then later see the film), I have been looking forward to the New Moon score since it was announced that Alexandre Desplat - and not Carter Burwell - would be doing the score.

Having appreciated the former on his work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I was willing to set aside my disappointment that Burwell wouldn't be coming back, and lend it my ears.

My first inkling of apprehension over this score dropped, however, when I couldn't get through the FIRST MINUTE of the track 'The Meadow' when it appeared on the New Moon soundtrack. Why offer up something so utterly bland alongside music which, whether equally bland or not, at least has lyrics to divert the attention? Was my first and only thought.

The curdle of my concerns began to furrow further when reading Chris Weitz (the director)'s foreword on the inlay where the words "throwback to widescreen romantic epics" coupled later with "apparently simple, simple yet complex and seductive score" began to make my skin crawl. Not because it isn't worth mentioning that Desplat's roots "are in the French Romantic tradition" but because it seemed to me that this has very little to do with whether this particular score is any good or not, while at the same time being a GREAT selling point when you haven't actually HEARD it.

It also had that worrying air of films that claim to be made by "the Assistant Executive Producer of the Academy Award Winner for Best Technical Achievement...Or Whatever That Means". In other words: only wonderful if it means something something to you personally. Frankly, I could care less about the achievements (or not) of any particular composer. In the top ten of the greatest pianists ever in the world, or know them all on a first name basis? Means nothing to me if I don't feel anything from the music I just put in my player. So reading this introduction immediately put me in mind of "it's so clever, we don't expect most of our listeners to grasp it's true complexity and grandeur". Which put me in mind of a very sneaky apologia that doesn't actually apologise.

Not to mention that somewhere my mind had caught sail with notion that Twilight had just been compared to Gone With The Wind - which it hadn't - but what the hell? Could all this premble be masking the fact that there's actually no amble? I sincerely hoped not but then maybe I should have taken my hint from that singular track on the OST (and the fact that this score was released so close the movie release date) and filed immediately under AVOID.

The score is flat, dull, uninspired, lacking any (not even redeeming, just ANY) themes, vague, and so disturbingly generic that I'm curious if it's libellous to wonder if the the time was merely used to come up with interesting themes for an entirely different project. Afterall, it might as well be a score for a movie about a magical kingdom of whimsical pixies who happen to have a determinedly melancholy tendency and a fondness for Battleship.

One should be very concerned when you can easily substitute the score for The Dark Knight in it's place and come up with a more adequate replacement.

Oh, and there are werewolves and Native Americans in this film, you say? Where on the score can I hear it? Nowhere, actually.

There's actually zero in it to suggest this OR that Jacob Black as a central character (half-spoiler!) is BOTH or that there's even a tribe at all in evidence. A wee bit disturbing when even the first film that only barely touched upon that aspect still managed to convey it in it's music. But then, fair enough I suppose when all the track titles seem to mention is vampires: The Volturi, The Cullens, Victoria, Edward. Geez the only time the Quileute get alluded to is on the track Wolves vs. Vampire. You'd hardly think that they might form a central part of the story, more like an afterthought.

But then how can I come to the end of this review without explaining what this score actually is (or seems to be, given that I'm obviously in Camp Can't-See-It's-'Subtlety') rather than what it isn't? Simply put, the score is orchestral, and - for the record - BORINGLY so. There are the occasional hints of an electronical (ambient) sound here and there but that's it (as in two pulses twenty minutes apart) but overall it barely raises it's head above a whimper let alone be there a bang of percussion or ripping guitar. It doesn't even have that lovely warming, dreamy quality of something like Twin Peaks - rather, it's music to put you to sleep. Period.

Do yourself a favour, skip this and find George Fenton's score for The Company Of Wolves, or, if you like the quality of whimsy and magic that this is plays at but is in the end FAR too ennervated (I won't even say laid back) to lend much depth to, the BBC's score to the Gormenghast serial. Seek out and buy Clint Mansell's The Fountain (for true epic romantic tragedy and yet wonder) or Phillip Glass' The Illusionist (imperial, sweet, and yet somehow impish). There's also the Queen Of The Damned score if you want something reminiscent of the first film, or, at a massive stretch The Time Machine (2002 - score) which mixes classical with tribal - but if you find this score at all diverting I suspect it would be because you haven't heard very many (though forgive me if I'm wrong).

Personally, I'd like to hope that there were twice as many tracks for this album and the parties involved merely chose to keep all the WRONG ONES. But no matter what the underlying reason, I'd advise the subtle simplicity of merely buying the score to the first film and forgetting this one ever happened.

Perhaps I've been spoiled by too many great Korean film scores but you only have to set ears on the scores to films such as A Tale Of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life (would Kim Ji-Woon direct Breaking Dawn one wonders?), Princess Aurora, or even Daisy to hear that a score doesn't have to be either long, or extensively classical, to complement and enhance the action and narrative of the films involved - not to mention that an awful lot of mainstream films are being scored by people who are at best completely uninspired (whatever the reason for that might be).

This ranks right up there as the dullest score since (US remake) The Uninvited - which while an achievement is far from the one the liner notes would have us believe. I actually wanted to give it zero stars but Amazon wouldn't let me.

Hello World - The Motown Solo Collection
Hello World - The Motown Solo Collection
Price: 30.21

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Euphoria! (There, I said it.), 29 Oct 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
(NB: This is a review of the LIMITED EDITION version of this collection)

How to sum up this product in an emotion? Rocking from side to side in absolute glee and fizzy (the type that blows your head off) delight!

Too much?

How to sum this product up in a song? Euphoria by Michael Jackson (it's on the second disc).

Now for a slightly more intelligible and wordy review:

There are three reasons I bought this product:

1. It's Michael Jackson. Obvious, but worth stating. I'd give that as a reason of it's own but observe that here are all of his Motown solo albums in one set - with extra tracks added - what a gift! Particularly if, like me, you already have his solo albums as an adult, and some of his Jacksons/Jackson 5 material.

2. I'd heard the track Music & Me on the film Moonwalker and fallen rather in love with it (what a voice he had! And what a fitting song!) Upon looking around (THANKFULLY!) this was the first CD I happened upon that had it included.

3. I'm a sucker for aesthetics and the beauty of this set was in the cover design. All those florals and rays of sunshine? Kitschy only until you smack eyes on it - I was immediately sold!

My concerns?

It did seem a bit pricey (at around 25) but all of the above had the odds stacked it's favour as far as I was concerned. After all it was hardback and seemed to be a booklet as well as a case for the CDs.

No sooner had I received it, however, was I quite taken aback by the sheer beauty of the thing. WOW!

Maybe other subsequent buyers/reviewers will be less impressed or, alternatively, more experienced in this type of thing but I can only speak for myself and say it's not the usual, run-of-the-mill, thrown-together-and-it-shows fanbait article.

Can I also say right now: extreme props to the design person - or people - who put this together. I think I spent at least half an hour swooning over the fact that it was prettier in my hand than I could have imagined from the pictures - when it's usually is the opposite. The cover actually has a degree of texture to it that just makes it even more attractive (sound weird? wait until you have one in your hands) because the sunrays thereon become more obvious when held up against the light.

It's actually a medium-sized booklet (around the size of a DVD case, if not a nudge larger) with three CDs in the back. As another reviewer stated, you do have to be careful to hold it properly, i.e. right way up (although side on is also fine), so that the discs don't fall out but this isn't an obvious fail because it makes the CDs easier to remove and less likely that you'll either crease or rip the booklet doing so. Should common sense prevail and you DON'T want to look at it wrong way up your discs should be just dandy.

The pictures in the booklet are so adorable, I can't help but think that Michael himself (extremely exacting when it came to details as he was) would approve. Nothing clashes with the overall scheme or design (even the discs themselves - something you'd expect but not something that's necessarily a given from my experience) but meshes perfectly giving a great indication of both the era and the artist.

To those wondering, there are no lyrics in the booklet but there is an introduction and a review of the material given from a present day perspective with a little nostalgia mingled (how could there not be).

Of which, there are the albums:

'Got To Be There' and 'Ben' (Disc One);
'Music & Me' and 'Forever, Michael' (Disc Two);
Looking Back To Yesterday: Never-Before-Released Masters and Bonus Tracks - Original Mixes (Disc Three).

If you are a collector, or merely a fan of Michael's voice with a strong aesthetic inclination, buy this booklet-set while you can (it's a Limited Edition) - not only before it sells out in it's original packaging but before some of those who HAVE bought it start selling it at outrageous prices.

(I'm keeping mine, by the way, it's far too lovely to sell.)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2009 11:33 AM GMT

The Food and Cooking of Korea: Discover the Unique Tastes and Spicy Flavours of One of the World's Great Cuisines with Over 150 Authentic Recipes ... ... Step-by-step in More Than 750 Photographs
The Food and Cooking of Korea: Discover the Unique Tastes and Spicy Flavours of One of the World's Great Cuisines with Over 150 Authentic Recipes ... ... Step-by-step in More Than 750 Photographs
by Young-Jin Song
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you'll ever need to start you on the road to Korean cuisine!, 29 Oct 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What a wonderful and informative book!

In it's introduction it gives you a firm understanding of Korean culture by outlining some of it's history, geography, agriculture and culture. This is a very clear and very helpful foundation to the meals themselves, their inspiration, origin, present place in day-to-day Korean life. (It can also be easily skipped without causing later difficulty if that is your inclination.)

Then the recipes themselves are split into not just snacks, main, meals and desserts (that just the general division) but then split into soups, beef, pork, poultry, tofu, seafood, etc. as well as being presented alongside large beautiful pictures and a calorie content (a plus for those watching their weight or calorie intake).

The author then goes so far as to list Korean grocery stores around the world (yes, there's one for London if you are wondering).

I was by turns, very excited to RECEIVE the book (having only seen the author's previous Korean cookery book), very pleased to HAVE the book, and very contented to TRY AND TASTE the recipes given (of which, by the way, there are a pleasing number and diversity).

An invaluable addition to all budding or experienced cooks, particularly those either interested in Asian/Korean culture and/or cooking - especially if one wishes to discern some of the differences between similarly presented meals from different cultures, i.e. Chinese, Japanese. Plus all the recipes seem to stick to their cultural intent giving ingredients as used in Korea, with alternatives if those are difficult to obtain.

Highly recommended!

Androv 32 Watt Bayonet Ioniser Full Spectrum Bulb
Androv 32 Watt Bayonet Ioniser Full Spectrum Bulb

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Check the colour temperature is for you..., 29 Oct 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm sure these bulbs are a treat for people who've either had lower wattage bulbs and/or those who enjoy a cold blue colour temperature from their light source but as someone who prefers neither I think that a brighter bulb and one with a warmer hue would be worth looking at. That said I'm not sure why this (at 32W) seemed significantly duller than my similarly energy efficient 25W bulb (yes, even when left to 'warm up' for over half an hour).

As all my rooms (red, yellow, brown, warm green) are maximized with a warmer bulb temperature (this is a 6000K colour temperature, whereas a warm colour temperature seems to be 2700K or thereabouts), I can only say I've tried it and it was NOT for me.

I'd advise buyers to keep this in mind when purchasing or disappointment is a distinct possibility.

Also, I can only assume that full spectrum doesn't necessarily = like daylight, as the light I received didn't seem to resemble daylight in the slightest, like some other reviews suggested. I think the full spectrum refers to the cooler blue and violet ends of the spectrum being present. At least now I know my personal preference runs to having them left out entirely.

Again, it's something to keep in mind. (Incidentally, I cannot comment on it's effectiveness as ioniser/odour remover, I couldn't bear the light itself long enough to test the bulb further.)

Please note, this is a review of the PRODUCT rather than the seller (who was very efficient and polite in their correspondence, dispatch and delivery).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 2, 2009 10:15 PM GMT

Michael Jackson: Life of a Legend 1958-2009
Michael Jackson: Life of a Legend 1958-2009
by Michael Heatley
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Pictures But Not Exactly A Tribute In Words, 25 Oct 2009
I bought a copy of this because it had some wonderful pictures on a large page, hard back book - these were thrilling. Some people have already mentioned the inaccuracies, which I was willing to forgive; however, I was less keen on the some of the speculation on Jackson himself and the dwelling less on his achievements than the stories about him or the comments some detractors have made.

Here's a good example: the book mentions Jackson's performance at the Brit Awards and mentions that it was interrupted by Jarvis Cocker - how this needs to be in a tribute to Michael is beyond me (I still find Cocker's behaviour repugnant not only because of it's lack or respect for a fellow artist but for it's bald hypocrisy when he, himself, was held aloft during his set in a singular spotlight, arms outstretched in a messianic pose - yes I watched it that year - so having a go at Michael when the man has superlative ACTUAL achievement AND experience to justify any view he had of himself - not to mention mistaking a performer's performance for an unequivocal attitude of a performer without considering their attitude offstage, or them as a person). He then goes on to mention that Pulp record sales rose WITHOUT mentioning that Earth Song - the song Michael performed that night - went on to be number one in the UK for SIX weeks - only finally being knocked off by the Spice Girls - and becoming his most successful single there.

And so the book goes until it starts to seem like a series of facts, some inaccuracies, and a significant series of back-handed compliments.

Frankly I wish they'd either re-issue Moonwalker in a large coffee-table book format with loads of pictures and the text integrated into them and/or publish a Michael Jackson fashion book in the same format with high quality pictures. Something with limited words because it seems that most of the books out there are just fan bait and not really positive or informative.

As is, it's rather tricky, as a fan, finding 'tributes' that are actually positive and deal with the facts rather than speculation, or don't drown you in the unsavoury reactions of detractors.

This book is great for pictures, not so great for the words. It's even better if you can get it at half price, in which case you can look at the pictures and ignore the backwardedness of some of it. I'd give it 2.5 stars if I could, as is, it got three to at least be fair.

Oldboy [DVD] [2003]
Oldboy [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Choi Min-Sik
Offered by FilmloverUK
Price: 9.68

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tired of the Hollywood 'vengeance' scenario? Look no further, 27 July 2005
This review is from: Oldboy [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
As a rule, don't mistake this film for one of two things:
1) A film in the Tarantino vein.
Just because mention of it's name is often preceded by the phrase 'Tarantino recommended' don't mistake it for his brand of swaggering cool (so cool it often can't stand up straight, in fact), stolen from multiple sources, with little other than superficial flash over substance and one-liners that are sure to be repeated for ten years afterwards - even if they weren't very interesting when you first heard them.
Sadistic violence isn't thrown at the characters to mitigate their also violent responses. Here for every act there is a reason. Often one thought out years in advance.
If this film stands up to the likeness of any American director I'd make it David Fincher - particularly as the neon flourished, smack patina of this film has more in common with that of Fight Club - and it shares not only some of Fincher's intelligent nihilism but also his ability to render a scene disturbing more by what is not shown/implied than what is.
2. A typical 'Asia Extreme' title.
For something as purportedly violent as this there are very few on-screen scenes of violence that could be considered gratuitous or nasty for nasty's sake - and I make that judgement relative to generally any mainstream Hollywood action movie out there. Any violence depicted is thus telling you either about the characters or the characters' state of mind. This is no Ringu or Ju-On or some such ghost/horror/paranormal cautionary. This time you'll be spared the narrative giving you yet another reason to reconsider your view on cute Japanese schoolgirls.
For a start, it's not Japanese, it's South Korean. Second, it's a tale about vengeance that doesn't stimp on the consequences of vegeance for both the revenger and the revengee - which becomes typically complicated when the parties are both. There are no gangsters, no especial depiction of a criminal underworld, and no crazed psychos weilding either chainsaws or katanas to theatrical effect. All of which I am thankful for, as to me, they are as cliched and overused as hell.
What you do get is a simple question to ponder as the film opens. One man, a pretty much everyman, and in some ways an ass of a everyman, is inexplicably kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years. He is then released and given 5 days to find the perpetrator and the reason for his imprisonment.
Now if this were a Hollywood movie I would indeed be looking in the opposite direction because you know what you'd get before you even started. The typical American spade-jawed type in a white vest with a gun and trunkful of ammo - although the updated version can just as well be a heroine wearing Bruce Lee's tracksuit (just because) and weilding a samauri sword - on a justified you note (because it's always justified if the hero is American and 'done-wrong-by' in Hollywood) trail of rocking and rolling (see the soundtrack) rampage of revenge. Need you ask how it ends?
Not here.
Which other film will have the central character ponder what he will do when he's had his vengeance - knowing full well his desire for revenge will not be extinguished?
This has several things that scream not Hollywood. Particularly the fact that the 'hero' is never fully in control of events and the outcome can't be assumed or assured.
There are no glib one-liners, no coincidences thrown in for effect, no obeisances to the high god of 'cool' and 'badass' (although, you can enjoy some scenes as such if you so wish - in particular some well choreographed fight scenes). Everything comes back to plot but not in an easy or comfortable manner by any means. Indeed the final denoument sheds everything that has gone before in an entirely new light, and changes it irrevocably.
With respect to the two-disc format of this film, I personally thought I'd died and gone to heaven. There are plenty of extras, even a director's commentary and interviews with the cast, giving it a well rounded and thought out feel that is truly appreciated in such a worthy title, nevermind a foreign title. Any questions I might have had about the film were pretty much answered by the time I'd watched all the additional material. My personal favourite extra was the score commentary, especially as the central waltz theme is so beautiful.
In other words, if you're not a fan of gratuitously violent films and are turned off by the theme of vengeance being espoused here, DON'T walk away. WATCH THIS FILM. You're bound to be in some way surprised.
If you're looking for Kill Bill Mach III, avoid - you'll be disappointed.
On this film you'll actually have to use your brain, and not your appreciation of swordplay or arterial spray. And if you like David Fincher, definitely give it a go. This film is funny, disturbing, thought provoking and heart-breaking all at once. And I, for one, write this as someone who generally can't tolerate the depiction of on-screen violence to make a character look or sound 'cool'; this film relieved me on that point, not only with the well-rounded characterisation but the well-considered plot. Even the director stated that he inserted one humourous visual specifically because the central character was trying to look too cool.
A+ in my opinion.
Long Live Oldboy, Kill Bill is dead.

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