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nicjaytee (London)

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Rififi [Dual Format Edition DVD + Blu-Ray] [1955]
Rififi [Dual Format Edition DVD + Blu-Ray] [1955]
Dvd ~ Jean Servais
Price: 10.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best thrillers I've ever seen..., 17 Feb 2012
I knew nothing about this film before sitting down to watch it and chose it largely because it was filmed in Paris in the 1950s - what I hoped for was lots of atmospheric, "period piece" shots of the city - what I got was lots of atmospheric, "period piece" shots of the city and... one of the best thrillers I've ever seen.

Everything about it - the wonderfully grey almost malevolent street shots, the excellent understated acting, and the superbly edited black & white photography - builds tension. But what makes it genuinely gripping is the stunningly effective, virtually silent 30 minute sequence that follows in meticulous detail the execution of the "perfect crime". From the moment the sequence starts, and even though you know it's got to go horribly wrong because "crime doesn't pay", certainly in the 50s, you'll be transfixed. Sure, the film suffers from too much of the typical 1950s "gangster movie" stereotyping but these weaknesses are quickly forgiven and forgotten because the plot is just so good. And, of course, backing it all up are as many brilliantly filmed, highly atmospheric "period piece" shots of the city as you could hope for.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2012 5:32 AM BST

Summer Hours [2008] [DVD]
Summer Hours [2008] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Juliette Binoche
Offered by The World Cinema Store
Price: 5.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Languidly unengaging..., 9 Nov 2010
This review is from: Summer Hours [2008] [DVD] (DVD)
Cinéma vérité? That's what 'Summer Hours' seeks to be... a carefully crafted exploration of real people's lives. But, despite the excellent acting, intriguing story and beautiful cinema-photography the problem is that the film fails to explore the reasons why the characters feel the way they do. You want to know why, but it doesn't really tell you - there's no context to their emotions. For example, a man breaks down because his family home and all that it means to him is about to be lost, but there's insufficient evidence of why this means so much to him to make you engage in his, superbly acted, reaction. And, without this it just drifts along... leaving you thinking that there's a much better film below the surface trying to get out. 'Paris', with its similarly slow, 'true to life' storyline shows just how good this type of subtle French cinema (and Juliette Binoche) can be in the hands of the right director, but 'Summer Hours' isn't much more than a languidly enjoyable example of how not to do it.

Road To Saint Ives
Road To Saint Ives
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 11.80

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece..., 29 May 2010
This review is from: Road To Saint Ives (Audio CD)
I bought this album almost 20 years ago and every time I put it on it just grabs my attention. Brilliantly played, understated saxophone explorations by a master of the instrument wrapped up in a superbly evocative set of arrangements. What John Surman sets out to do here is to use his skills to capture the atmosphere of Cornwall. If you don't know the area the scale of his achievement might pass you by, but, if you do... if you've been to these places... it's breathtakingly successful. This is Cornwall, evoked in a way that's so much better than any other medium. Better than paragraphs of words or pages of photographs because this is exactly what it's like: off the beaten track, watching the waves and the misty moors while you slowly take it all in. Beautiful, and for those of us who are lucky enough to be able to relate to what he's seeking to describe in this stunningly good album... perfect, timeless, and an absolute masterpiece.

The Counterfeiters [2007] [DVD]
The Counterfeiters [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ August Diehl
Price: 3.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superbly thought provoking film... what would you do in the same situation?, 18 Feb 2010
Superbly directed & acted, "The Counterfeiters" is a wholly believable recreation of the horror, mind-numbing tension and necessary survival instincts for those few who had any hope at all in a German concentration camp. The other reviews say it all but what, for me, made the film so good was the way it captured the day-to-day decisions facing these people and the incredible dichotomy they faced between self-preservation and what was "right". They know that by printing the highest quality forged dollar notes they're extending their own survival time but also the survival time of the Nazi regime - if they don't, they're condemning themselves to certain death. So, do they deliberately ensure that the bank notes are flawed and accelerate the fall of the Nazis but in the process sign their own death warrants... or, do they do what's required (which they know they can) and ensure their short term and, possibly, long term survival? Do they buy precious time even though they know that by buying it they're also perpetuating the horrors that surround them?

The brilliance of this film is in the way that it explores this incredibly complex situation. Who are the heroes here? Are they those who are prepared to sacrifice their lives to prevent the Nazis achieving their goals or are they those who are prepared to risk their lives to preserve the lives of the people who surround them? Deep stuff and, thankfully, a decision that none of us are likely to face. But, if we did... what would we do? "The Counterfeiters" asks the question and, as a result, is a supremely thought provoking film with no easy answers.

The Boat That Rocked [DVD] (2009)
The Boat That Rocked [DVD] (2009)
Dvd ~ Philip Seymour Hoffman
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: 2.87

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great story, shame about the film..., 25 Jan 2010
You'd have difficulty making up such a great story as that of pirate radio in the 60s. There's virtually no pop or rock music being played on the radio at the same time as the music world is being turned upside down by a seemingly unstoppable flood of new, young and hugely popular, UK artists & groups... so, some clever entrepreneurs hire a couple of beat-up boats, anchor them off the coast outside of the reach of the law, fill them with a group of equally young, inexperienced DJs, start broadcasting 24 hours a day and, within a year, are being listened to all the time by just about everyone under the age of 25 who can receive a signal. And, because they're mavericks working outside of the law, the DJs can push the boundaries out as far as they dare and play whatever they like; and, because they're so popular, these DJs not only rapidly become as famous & iconic as the artists they play but have a profound affect on the development of UK music in what's now seen as its "golden age". The boats are raided, the establishment wants them closed down, and their vast number of listeners see this as the most obvious evidence of an older generation plot to stop the youth revolution that's going on all around them. How quintessentially "60s" is all of that?

A great story then and one that's just waiting for someone to turn into a film... pity that it's Richard Curtis who sees its potential. Why? Well what he comes up with is simply not what it was like - it's just a convenient backdrop for another typically slick romantic comedy which, while entertaining and funny, is a great shame for the story of pirate radio is so good that it deserves more respect and, above all, at least some attempt to make it historically accurate.

For example, virtually all of the DJs were in their early 20s and none were over 30 - a pretty important fact as it was precisely because they were so young that they could relate to, be accepted by and influence their audience. In the film, every DJ with the exception of one - the man who doesn't speak (no pirate DJ didn't speak, they all talked incessantly) - is in their mid 30s or mid 40s, with the most ridiculously glaring error being the John Peel lookalike who's in his 50s (Peel, one of the oldest pirate radio DJs, was 27 in 1966) and who's portrayed as an old "hippie" when, in 1966, there were no old hippies... in fact there were very few young hippies.

And, as another reviewer points out, none of the DJs seem to have any interest in music and there's no discussion about music between them at any point in the film. You don't get yourself banged up in the ridiculously cramped and unpleasant environment of a pirate radio boat for weeks on end unless you're heavily into music and, if you are, you'd pass quite a lot of your time talking about it. Maybe the boatloads of dolly birds braving the waves to get under the blankets with their DJ heroes made it all worthwhile... er... no, see Tony Blackburn's You Tube interview about the film on this one because nothing like that happened, on board at least.

Oh and then there's the sea itself... it's pretty damn cold in the North Sea in mid winter, so cold that you don't survive long in it. Not that this seems to bother our jolly bunch of middle-aged DJs who possess super-human endurance in these freezing waters as their ship starts to sink. Odd? Even odder actually because the pirate stations were outlawed in August 1967 not, as in the film, in mid winter 1966 - getting this date right would at least have made their ability to avoid instant hypothermia partially believable. Not good, and it gets worse, because there's also the man from the ministry, Mr Twatt... Mr Twatt in both name & nature unless you'd somehow missed the double-entendre... come on, dealing with the pirate radio stations was a very serious issue for the government precisely because any move to shut them down was going to be so hugely unpopular, not a job for an incompetent. And, of course and as you'd now expect, several of the records played hadn't actually been released in 1966. Hmm... there's a limit to how far you can get things so wrong in the relentless pursuit of entertainment and we've reached it.

Any redeeming features? Yes, one, the opening five minutes absolutely captures the impact of pirate radio - young, enthusiastic, incredibly exciting and "dangerous" - you won't get a better recreation of what it was like to be a teenager listening to the Kinks' wonderful "All Day And All Of The Night" blasting out from your transistor radio and feeling that, just by tuning-in, you were joining millions of other teenagers in being part of something very special - I know, I was one. The rest is history, but not as portrayed here... ah well.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2011 10:04 PM BST

Before The Rains [DVD]
Before The Rains [DVD]
Dvd ~ Linus Roache
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: 13.99

84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly good..., 25 Jan 2010
This review is from: Before The Rains [DVD] (DVD)
I knew nothing about 'Before the Rains' before I saw it and wasn't expecting much given the fairly mixed reviews it's garnered. Have I just watched the same film? Because this is nothing short of brilliant. The photography is stunning, the acting is superb, the direction is faultless, and the story had me absolutely gripped from start to finish. This is a wholly believable tragedy which slowly and carefully builds from a languidly beautiful love story into a broodingly menacing thriller as the characters grapple with the consequences their actions. And, like all great films, the direction and acting are so good that you quickly start believing these people are real and, as a result, genuinely care about what happens to them.

One scene in particular sums up just how good it is: the wife confronts the husband and, as the impact of what's going on dawns on her, the focus in the shot subtly switches from his face to hers with no camera movement. Nothing much in that you might say but it made the hairs on my neck stand on end precisely because it captures, simply in the nuance of her expression and the way that it's drawn into focus, the horror that she would feel at that precise moment... cinema doesn't get much better. Quite simply one of the best films I've seen.

The Remains Of The Day [DVD] [2001]
The Remains Of The Day [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Anthony Hopkins
Offered by FLASH
Price: 7.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really worth buying..., 2 Nov 2009
If you haven't seen "Remains of the Day" for some time then this is one film that's most definitely worth buying on DVD. What comes across is just how superb the acting is in its effectiveness and, above all, its absolutely controlled "subtlety" - and, of course, it's a deeply thought provoking and moving story that gets better the more times you view it. Brilliant in every respect and quite rightly ranked as a "classic" it will, unlike many DVDs you may own, just beg to be seen again and again... it's that good

Canon Digital Camera Soft Case SC-DC60A for the PowerShot G10 Digital Camera
Canon Digital Camera Soft Case SC-DC60A for the PowerShot G10 Digital Camera
Offered by George and Freddie
Price: 31.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A "must have" accessory..., 30 Oct 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This beautifully designed case is pretty much a "must have" add-on for the G10 - it fits the camera perfectly, is visually totally in keeping with its "retro" look, fully protects it against bumps & scratches, won't get lost as it remains attached to the camera at all times, even with a tripod, and is quick & easy to use - just unclip the two rear poppers and the front drops down to let you take your shot. The only problem is that you have to take it off to access the camera's battery & memory card chamber which involves unscrewing the large knob on the bottom of the case, removing the camera etc., and then rescrewing the case back on - a time-consuming but unavoidable "downside" with this type of design. And, of course, it's well over double the price of Canon's "pouch case" alternative. Worth the money and the effort involved in accessing the battery & card chamber? Well... it looks great, it feels great and, once you've seen it in action, you'll want one.

Canon PowerShot G11 Digital Camera (High Sensitivity 10.0 MP, 5x Zoom, 2.8 Inch Vari-Angle LCD) (discontinued by manufacturer)
Canon PowerShot G11 Digital Camera (High Sensitivity 10.0 MP, 5x Zoom, 2.8 Inch Vari-Angle LCD) (discontinued by manufacturer)

225 of 228 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canon G11 versus Canon G10..., 26 Oct 2009
Unfortunately, I purchased a Canon G10 just before the release of the G11 and for reasons explained below I've now bought a G11... which gives me the unusual and unexpected "privilege" of being able to compare the two side-by-side.

So what was so wrong with the G10 that I bought a G11? Nothing really other than the G10's noise at higher ISO settings. Is this a serious problem? Well, if like me, you want a camera that's a portable alternative to your DSLR and which operates very close to your DSLR's performance, then it probably is. How much so? Here's two examples that made me invest in the G11. The first was when using the G10 on a clear blue sky day to shoot sports events using its "Sports" program - the camera, correctly, chose shutter speeds of 1/1250 and, as a result, set ISO ratings at around 400 but, noise was evident at anything above 50% magnification and very marked at 100% magnification (this was, remember, in very bright light so the problem would be markedly worse in other situations). The second was when shooting indoors in late afternoon light without a flash - on the "Auto" program the ISO was, again correctly, bumped up to over 200 and, again, noise was evident at 100% or greater magnification - so much so, that I was forced to manually set ISO to under 200 with the resulting problems in slower shutter speeds.

You could say that I'm being overly "picky" here, but I don't think so... while these noise levels are perfectly acceptable in cheaper point & shoot cameras, they're really not acceptable in a camera priced at this level and, more importantly, they mean that it can't be used with confidence as a point & shoot alternative to my DSLR which was one of the main reasons for buying it. Sure you can overcome some of the ISO issues by using the camera's huge number of manual over-ride options but you shouldn't have to.

The problem, of course, is the mega-pixel count in the G10 which, while good for "marketing" purposes, is just too high for a camera this small and which therefore precipitates additional noise at even relatively modest ISO levels. Set the camera to under ISO 200 and you get the resolution advantage of 14.7 million mega-pixels but your shooting options are reduced; let the camera do the work and, in anything other than "normal" situations, noise could become a serious issue.

Time to assess how my newly acquired 10 megapixel G11 performs in similar situations... the answer?... brilliantly. My test shot comparisons between the two show noticeably reduced noise levels for the G11 at anything over ISO 200, with noise down to a level that, while not quite as good as my DSLR, is as close as you'd expect or hope for from this type of camera. And, while there's a slight resolution loss compared to the G10, it's so tiny that it's unnoticeable other than in a slow ISO rated shot (i.e. 80 or 100) blown-up to extremely high magnification levels but... am I really going to use the G11 rather than my DSLR for huge prints or professional quality studio or field work? Unlikely. Also, there seems to be a marginally better "feel" to the G11's shots at below ISO 200 which could well be the result of its claimed improvements in image processing or just my own perception. Whatever, the bottom line is that the G11 produces the same or better quality photos than the G10 in virtually all "real life" situations that I'm likely to use it for and, equally importantly, allows me to use it with the confidence that its end results will be extremely close to those that my DSLR would have produced if I'd had it with me.

Other than that, the two cameras are pretty much identical: the G11's fold out screen can be argued either way (it has obvious advantages in certain situations but it makes the camera feel a bit bulkier and slightly reduces the size of the screen's viewing area), there are a few more menu options in the G11 which most people will never use, the on/off button on the G10 is slightly easier to use (particularly with gloves on), and the G11 has additional "low light" and "quick shot" programs on the main dial, which are of limited practical value. In other words, unless you really do need a fold out screen, nothing worth writing home about.

Oh, and the price... the G11 is, at present, about 100 more than the G10 in the UK, which is a pretty big difference. Is a 100 price hike worth it for improved performance in certain situations? Well, that's your decision: the G10 is a perfectly acceptable and usable camera once you know its limitations but, if you don't want these limitations, or if you just want the confidence that the camera will perform at close to digital SLR levels in virtually all situations you throw at it, then the G11 is definitely worth the extra money. Anyone want to buy a G10?... it'll be on eBay soon.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 24, 2010 10:22 AM BST

Priceless [DVD] (2006)
Priceless [DVD] (2006)
Dvd ~ Audrey Tautou
Price: 3.90

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyably vacuous Riveria romp..., 25 Oct 2009
This review is from: Priceless [DVD] (2006) (DVD)
"Priceless" won't tax your brain cells too much as it meanders through its story about two people bent on exploiting what's on offer from the French Rivieria's rich wanting readily available companionship & sex... a storyline that's been used before, most notably in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels". Not a great deal happens, what does is fairly predictable and there's no attempt to explore the impacts of these strange relationships on those involved. Bad news then? Well, not really, because "Priceless" isn't and doesn't pretend to be anything more than (as a previous reviewer so aptly put it) an enjoyably sweet "soufflé" - a beguilingly attractive but in the end fairly vacuous romp through the Riviera's classiest and most beautiful locations. And, if you're prepared to take it for what it is, it's a perfectly pleasant and charmingly entertaining way to spend an hour and three quarters of your time.

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