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Cuban Heel "Neil Schiller" (Liverpool)

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Battle: Los Angeles [DVD] [2011]
Battle: Los Angeles [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Aaron Eckhart
Offered by Jasuli
Price: 3.95

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent enough sc-fi action film, 26 Aug 2011
I enjoyed this film. Was it a future oscar winner, a classic? No, but it was a decent enough sci-fi/action film that romped along at a nice pace and had some good acting and some good effects in it.

Yes, it had some predictable moments. There were more than a few cliches scattered about and the plotlines in it were far from being anything original. 'Give this letter to my wife and unborn child' type of stuff. Retiring soldier gets dragged back in. His men all hate him but then he turns out to be a hero etc. etc. And as always America saves the world. But I liked the documentary-style direction and whilst it might sound strange when talking about an alien invasion movie, there was a gritty realism to it that worked well.

If you compare it to some of the other military focused sci-fi movies like Independence Day (awful film), or Starship Troopers (hmmm), it stands up quite well in my opinion. Look, it isn't going to be on anyone's top 10 of 2011 list but for a Friday or Saturday night in front of the TV with a beer, there are lots of worse films you could be watching...

Limitless [DVD]
Limitless [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bradley Cooper
Price: 3.66

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great - apart from the weak ending, 26 Aug 2011
This review is from: Limitless [DVD] (DVD)
I thought this film had a pretty interesting premise so I gave it a go and for the best part of two hours really enjoyed it. It was well acted, well directed, moved along at a fair old pace. I liked the idea of this drug opening up the receptors in the brain and allowing the main character to become a sort of edgy genius.

Obviously, the main idea required a suspension of disbelief but then most films do, and the plotline seemed plausible enough to me. There were a lot of little subplots in it and they were done really well, they all combined and made sense. And then, in about the last twenty minutes, it started to unravel a little bit. I won't say explicitly what it was as I don't want to spoil the film, but there was one scene that I just didn't really get. It led to the resolution of the plotline with the Russian gangster but it didn't make sense to me. I shrugged that one off, but then the voiceover delivered this glib explanation as to how three dead men in the main character's apartment were explained away to the police and I thought that was pretty weak. Then it kind of jumped forward in time a bit and suddenly everything was resolved - the threat of coming off the drug and dying which was made a lot of earlier on was just sorted out magically. Explained in two sentences. I thought that was quite feeble. Perhaps it was supposed to be a little bit ambiguous? Even if that was the case, it didn't work very well for me.

It seemed to me like the director/producers suddenly realised the film was running on for too long and they couldn't add another fifteen or twenty minutes on to resolve everything properly. So they just stuck on a quick ending. Which was a shame because up until that point it had been really good. Good enough to get four stars despite my disappointment which should tell you something about how much of a shame that ending was...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 6, 2011 5:22 PM BST

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World - Original Soundtrack
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World - Original Soundtrack
Price: 9.82

5.0 out of 5 stars We are Sex Bob-Omb. 1-2-3-4...., 25 Aug 2011
The film left me a bit bemused (as per my review) but the soundtrack doesn't. Absolutely great collection of songs on here. The tracks performed by the fictional Sex Bob-Omb caught my attention in the movie and seeing here that they were written by Beck probably explains it. I've always been a bit of a Beck fan, but the scuzzy basslines, the raw drum and guitar sounds and the mumbling lyrics are all just glorious.

The record is rounded out with quite a few other tracks featured in the film, and they're all great too. There are one or two that are maybe a bit lightweight, but overall the quality is fanastic. Anything with a bit of Frank Black on there is bound to be good. Nice Rolling Stones track, a bit of T-Rex. Worth it too for the alternative versions of the Sex Bob-Omb songs performed by Beck himself.

Best soundtrack I've bought in a long long time. "We're Sex Bob-Omb and we're here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff"... Hahah, brilliant.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World [DVD]
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Cera
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: 3.64

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What on earth????, 21 Aug 2011
I was kind of coerced into watching this by my missus, but you know what, I'm kind of glad I was (I think). What a bizarre film. I've never read the comics, but had heard of them. I tried the film after catching a few minutes of it one night and thinking it looked like an American indie movie, and shared an actor with 'Juno'.

Honestly, I don't think I've ever been quite so bemused by a film. Bits of it did have an indie feel to them. There was some great music in it and some excellent performances. Micheal Cera (the aforementioned guy from 'Juno') was great. Kieran Culkin was outstanding as his gay room mate. The first ten or fifteen minutes drew me in and I was really enjoying it, quirky though it was. Then the bizarre fight sequences began and I was literally sat there wondering if I still liked it or absolutely hated it. It's taken me about two weeks to make my mind up.

Ultimately, it's a bit nuts. Some people will love it, some will hate it. For some reason I kept thinking of that weird 80s movie 'Howard the Duck'. Just because it was about as bizarre as that was. The thing is though, out of all the films I've seen recently it's made the biggest impression on me, even if I'm not sure what that impression is. It's certainly pretty unique and innovative. So for that alone, yeah, I think it deserves four stars. One of those though that is probably more interesting than out and out enjoyable...

Baby I'm Bored
Baby I'm Bored
Offered by westworld-
Price: 19.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Criminally Underrated, 16 Aug 2011
This review is from: Baby I'm Bored (Audio CD)
I always thought Evan Dando was a bit underrated. Some of The Lemonheads albums were tremendous records, and yet they never seemed to get the recognition they deserved. This solo album is no exception. It's full of great melodies, most of them acoustically led with a bit of a lo-fi feel overall. With music put together this way it HAS to be great to stand up as there's little in the production or arrangements to hide any deficiencies. And great this album truly is.

'Repeat' is so breezy it just sticks in your head and you can't get it out of there again. 'My Idea' is kind of hypnotic. And 'Hard Drive' is just one of those songs where the songwriter has hit upon one of the most simple and yet perfectly conceived ideas ever. It's just brilliant.

Ok, there are some experimental moments on it. 'Waking Up' borders on tunelessness at times, but in it's defence it's a fun kind of song in it's way. It's about time this guy got a bit of credit for what he does. I'd love to see another solo record, but if he carries on putting out Lemonhead ones instead (as he seems to have started doing again) I'll be happy enough with that.

Mercury Blues
Mercury Blues
Offered by Japan-Select
Price: 23.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why wasn't this huge?, 16 Aug 2011
This review is from: Mercury Blues (Audio CD)
I bought this record out of curiosity as I've been a Grant Lee Buffalo (and Grant Lee Phillips) fan for a long time. I have to say it's a tremendous album. As another reviewer said you can hear the seeds of what three members of the band went on to do on 'Fuzzy' and 'Mighty Joe Moon', but overall it's a bit edgier, a bit more experimental here.

Phillips sings on a couple of tracks and while you can tell it's him his voice doesn't yet have the depth it has on the GLB and solo albums. On most of the CD it's Jeff Clarke on vocals and he sounds something like a cross between Ian Curtis and Jim Morrison. In fact, the whole thing sounds like a fusion of post-punk and Americana, the love child of Joy Division and early REM if you can imagine such a thing.

Anyway, a great great record. From the slide guitar of 'Mercury Blues' to the frenetic energy of 'Who is the Mona Lisa?' and the playground chanting on 'Do the Pony'. Just brilliant. Best CD I've bought in a while. Highly recommended.

Psycho Jukebox
Psycho Jukebox
Price: 8.13

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't expect that..., 2 Aug 2011
This review is from: Psycho Jukebox (Audio CD)
I had a bit of a soft spot for The Fratellis. They weren't the best band in the world but I thought they were quirky and original and they produced some catchy tunes. Their albums, though, I found to be a bit of a mixed bag. It seemed as though they were full of ideas, just not all of them worked as well as they should have.

I thought this solo record might be the same, but I was completely wrong. On 'Psycho Jukebox' Jon Fratelli retains some of the quirkiness and originality of his band recordings, but overall the sound is a bit more mature. And it is massively more consistent than anything he's done before. There are eleven tracks on here and every single one of them is decent. Quite a few of them are exceptional. The benchmark is a lot higher than it was on, say, 'Costello Music'.

There are some evident 70s influences here and there - Bowie, T-Rex, even Thin Lizzy. But they're all filtered through Fratelli's ear for a great tune. This isn't intended to put anyone off, but in places it sounds a little bit like The Stereophonics even - but The Stereophonics on a very very good day. My favourites are Santo Domingo which has a great, original singalong quality to it, and Magic & Mayhem with its superb chorus.

As a statement of intent for what Jon Fratelli wants his solo career to be, this album is just about perfect. If he keeps it up he could end up becoming a bit of a British rock institution. Brilliant stuff.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2011 2:17 PM BST

We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Modern Classics)
We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Shirley Jackson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Gothic with a capital G, 18 July 2011
I was recommended this book and read it with quite low expectations in all honesty but I have to say I absolutely loved it. I can't remember reading anything else quite as atmospheric and unsettling in quite a long time. The narrative voice of Merricat I found to be totally compelling. There is something childish and naive, and at the same time rather sinister about her. We learn she is now 18 but her stream of consciousness is more like a younger child and you find yourself wondering what on earth has happened to stunt and skew her development in this way. It kept me turning the page despite myself.

In some ways the novel reminded me a little bit of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights - not necessarily in content but more the way Jackson invokes the same brooding atmosphere, the isolation of the inhabitants in their 'castle', and the eccentric ways this isolation manifests itself. There was a dash of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations in there, and for some reason it brought to mind, for me, some of the more claustrophobic Hitchcock films, or Les Diaboliques.

I found the whole novel to be utterly convincing. From the suspicion of the villagers to the, well, pretty nutty way the sisters react to having their house defiled. I've never read any Shirley Jackson before but I think it's fair to say this book has made me a convert. I'll be checking out her other work next, without doubt.

Sawn-off Tales (Salt Modern Fiction)
Sawn-off Tales (Salt Modern Fiction)
Price: 3.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Vignette? Vignette anyone?, 2 July 2011
I stumbled across this book when I read something by the author on the Shortbread short story website. It was a lucky little find too. It comprises about 30 or 40 shorts - proper shorts - short shorts. Each is about a page long. But they are, by and large, fully formed little glimpses of life.

As with all story collections, it's a bit of a mixed bag. Not all are perfect, but they are all interesting in their own way. There are some poignant tales, some surreal ones, some hilariously funny ones. I read it on the train and got some funny looks when I laughed out loud every few minutes. In some ways the humour comes as a surprise - it emerges out of instances of incredibly astute observation and is all the more powerful for it.

It won't be to everyone's taste. I know from experience there is a smaller market for shorts than there is for novels, and flash fiction of this nature has possibly even more of a niche appeal. But for those of you that like to read something that surprises you once in a while, then this one hits the mark.

Price: 4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ghostread, 2 July 2011
This review is from: Ghostwritten (Kindle Edition)
For the first time ever I couldn't quite decide how to score this one. I hovered my mouse over 4 and 5 stars for ages. I wanted to give it 4 and a half. In the end I marked it down slightly. How hard to please am I?

To be honest, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a breath of fresh air in terms of UK literary fiction. As always with story collections, some were stronger than others; but when it clicked into gear, this one worked brilliantly. I found story one a little bit mediocre, but then that was followed by a superb, Murakamiesque tale of young love in Japan, a ghost story set in Hong Kong, a historical tale about life on the Holy Mountain and an outstanding offbeat piece about a disembodied consciousness trying to discover its own history in Mongolia. It then gets maybe a little less compelling until the penultimate section which unfurls through a series of talk radio conversations.

Is it a novel? Well, not really. It's more a set of inter-related shorts. But the scope and breadth of them when taken as a whole is really quite surprising. Mitchell writes well and he holds your attention. My only gripe, which knocked it down from 5 stars, is that occassionally he gets a bit oblique and I was left enjoying the way the sentences sounded but thinking I wasn't 100% sure of what they were saying. As an introduction to his work though, I found it quite impressive and I'll certainly be checking out a few of his others.

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