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nicjaytee (London)

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Mamma Mia! The Movie [DVD] [2008]
Mamma Mia! The Movie [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Meryl Streep
Offered by Jasuli
Price: 3.95

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre..., 18 April 2009
Hmm... as I write we have 347 five star reviews, 110 one star reviews and not a lot in-between which, in itself, is a pretty bizarre situation.

Five stars? Well, if you want a slice of lightweight, sugar coated entertainment that's virtually guaranteed to regenerate your "feel good" factor faster than almost anything out there then you're in the right place. One star? Then again, if you don't and you just want to laugh at its wafer-thin storyline, cardboard cut-out characters and, at times, almost ludicrous acting then you'll have more than enough ammunition to feed your cynicism.

And afterwards? Odds are that you'll find yourself uncontrollably humming, whistling or singing any number of ABBA's songs for days on end coupled with an irresistable urge to watch this quite bizarre film again... and again, and again. Life's too short to wonder why, best just to lie back and enjoy it all.


No Title Available

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent..., 18 April 2009
Powerful, so quiet that it's virtually inaudible (unless, that is, you put your ear right next to it, which is a pretty unlikely situation in any "normal" environment!), huge capacity, simple set-up (plug it in and it's immediately recognised and available for use on your desktop), looks great, unobtrusive read/write light and reasonably priced... what more could you ask for?

The only question is will it last the course or pack-up in a year or so's time? Judging by other comments on the Internet, Western Digital drives are among the best for longevity & reliability so there's good reason to believe that it won't... time will tell.


Belle de Jour - 40th Anniversary [1967] [DVD]
Belle de Jour - 40th Anniversary [1967] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Catherine Deneuve
Price: 8.95

9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Did I watch the same film?, 8 Mar 2009
Enthused by the universally ecstatic reviews I rented "Belle de Jour" and...? Well, if this is a cinema classic then what does that make genuinely brilliant and ground-breaking films from the same period such as "Blow Up", "2001 A Space Odyssey", "The Graduate" etc.

Most of the acting's incredibly stylised and in several cases almost risible, and while Catherine Deneuve stands out that's not difficult when surrounded by such shallow performances; the direction's weak (witness Deneuve quite clearly throwing rather than accidentally knocking over a vase over in her apartment in an apparantly key scene, and several street scenes where the set lighting is blatantly obvious) and, despite all the claims for Bunuel's brilliance, the scene cutting etc. is formulaic and obvious; the story line is shallow, unbelievable (as presented), and riddled with male rather than female sexual fantasies (which given that it's supposed to be an exploration of female sexual fantasy is bizarre); and, the cinemaphotography is nothing special. At several points my wife and I were reduced to laughter... not a good sign in a "psycholgical thriller".

Did I get the wrong film? If not, then I'm completely baffled by the seemingly universal praise that "Belle de Jour" garners. Ah well...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 10, 2014 3:47 PM BST


Revolutionary Road [DVD] [2008]
Revolutionary Road [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: 3.60

36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak, brilliantly acted and disarmingly powerful..., 22 Feb 2009
You don't get many laughs here and unlike Sam Mendes' superb "American Beauty" there aren't any layers or clever twists to keep your attention... just a depressingly bleak story about a couple watching their hopes & dreams disintegrate as the reality of the suburban life they're locked into hits home.

So worth the effort? Absolutely, for two reasons. Firstly, the acting is brilliant - Kate Winslet, quite rightly, wins huge praise for her portrayal of the frustrated and tormented wife but in many ways it's Leonardo DiCaprio who has the more difficult role as the confused husband and, despite unfair criticisms about his "boyish looks", he carries it off convincingly and equally superbly. Together, they're incredible - so good that they become wholly believable people trapped in a wholly believable marriage.

And, secondly, despite the one-dimensional story and the effort of watching it slowly unfold to a fairly predictable conclusion, this is powerful stuff: couples argue like this, lovers hurt each other like this, people destroy each other's dreams like this, and real life is like this... so much so that it's at times deeply uncomfortable viewing. Not much fun then but after getting through it all you won't forget it in a hurry and, on the way, you'll witness some of the best acting you've ever seen.


Live Dead
Live Dead
Price: 5.37

4.0 out of 5 stars Strange Days..., 18 Jan 2009
This review is from: Live Dead (Audio CD)
The adulation that surrounds the Grateful Dead remains one of music's oddest phenomenons. Sure, they epitomised the hippie dream, but their early studio recordings and most of their subsequent live recordings evidence a fairly average R&B based band who couldn't sing too well and who relied on overly long, self indulgent guitar jams to create any impact.

What's more, the output from their mid 60's San Francisco contemporaries suggest that most of them could blow the Grateful Dead off stage. Country Joe & The Fish didn't sing too well either but their barrier bending music put them in a totally different league; Jefferson Airplane combined more complex musicianship with far more innovative songwriting; Big Brother & the Holding Company played tighter and more powerful blues and, the Steve Miller Band laid down much better R&B. Cast the net wider to include other "extended jam" exponents of the time such as Cream, Jimi Hendrix and early Pink Floyd and comparisons become ridiculous. The excuse put forward by Grateful Dead fans is that you had too see them live to appreciate their music, but... live recordings of all of the above suggest that they were more interesting, exciting & creative than the ponderous Dead! Yet their reputation remains up there with or ahead of them all... why?

Well... the answer is here. "DARK STAR"... 23 minutes of genuinely inspired guitar interaction and virtuosity, flawed only by a couple of short shots of horribly off-key vocals. Untypical, closer to free-form jazz than West Coast rock and quite breathtaking: one brilliant track on which much of a thirty-year career was based. If you, like me, are not a fan buy "Live Dead" for this alone, marvel and don't bother with any of the rest.


Changeling [DVD]
Changeling [DVD]
Dvd ~ Angelina Jolie
Offered by gowingsstoreltd
Price: 2.75

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something it's not?..., 29 Nov 2008
This review is from: Changeling [DVD] (DVD)
"Changeling" is a gripping and at times deeply uncomfortable film that will grab your attention throughout most of its two hours & twenty minutes, which is some commendation on its own. And, it's a genuinely true story - a rare claim for a film to make but one that's fundamental to its power in keeping you glued to the screen.

But is it? Well there's little doubt that most of the key facts presented in the film are true and, if you've seen it, check out the more reliable internet articles covering the case's source material to confirm this (and, if you haven't, don't read them or the rest of this review until afterwards unless you want to spoil the full impact of the film).

So, where's the problem? Well, a key premise of "Changeling" is that the Los Angeles Police Department, a deeply corrupt organisation at the time, used and then abused a missing boy's mother, Christine Collins, for their own ends. And, beneath this there's a pretty overt implication that the imposition on her of a conveniently available "look alike" for her missing son was, from the outset, a cynical set-up by the LAPD simply to gain positive publicity. All of which may be a perfectly true interpretation of events.

Or maybe not... for the source information on the case reveals some important elements relating to it that the film omits or glosses over but which could change your view on what actually went on here. First off, it omits the fact that Walter Collins' disappearance was widely reported in the press, including photographs of him and repeated claims by his mother that he'd been kidnapped. Next, it glosses over the background of the boy who pretended to be him: someone who subsequently appears never to have changed his story that he knew of the "kidnapping" and that, after he'd been told how much he looked like the photos of the boy in the papers, decided on his own volition to impersonate him as a way of getting to Hollywood to meet his favourite movie star. Then, it omits some key facts concerning the imposter: for example, the fact that prior to meeting him Christine Collins had, from photographs, positively identified him to the police as being her son; that he was emaciated because of his poor background; that he was unusually convincing in the role, claiming that he'd been kidnapped & interned and that in addition to losing weight because of this he'd lost some of his memory after being hit on the head by his abductors; and that, because of his emaciated state, his facial similarity and his skill in lying, he convinced a number of people who'd known Walter Collins that he was genuine. None of which comes out in the film.

It is, of course, quite possible that the LAPD did indeed set-up the whole thing; but, it's also quite possible that, presented with someone who looked like the missing boy, who span a convincing story about his disappearance & condition, and who others believed to be him, the police genuinely thought they'd got the right person. And, if so, it's also possible that they had some basis, at least initially, for believing that Christine Collins' refusal to accept him as her real son was a result of his emaciation and her traumatised state. Maybe not, but this missing information does suggest that there's more than one interpretation of the reasons behind this quite bizarre sequence of events.

All very odd, particularly as the inclusion of this information would have made the film much more believable. For example, why cast the imposter as a healthy, almost chubby child when his emaciation was a key reason why he could successfully impersonate Walter Collins to both the police and others who'd known him? And, why not show Christine Collins identifying him as her son from photos when, without this, you're left with the obvious question of why didn't the police or indeed anyone else compare photos of the two boys? Maybe its inclusion might make you question whether the LAPD was quite as bad as it's portrayed to be throughout the film, thereby robbing it of some of its undoubted impact, but then again, there's enough genuinely horrific and genuinely true facts in it - including Christine Collins' short internment by the police in a mental institution and it's highly accurate recounting of the whole story of Gordon Northrop and the "chicken coop" murders - to make it a sufficiently powerful and shocking film on its own.

Whatever the reasons for these fairly fundamental omissions the end result is that "Changeling" is not actually what it claims to be: it's not a genuinely "true" story, rather a powerfully effective dramatisation of one of several possible interpretations of what happened that relies on your belief that it's genuine for it to work. Which, possibly very cleverly, is a bit like it's subject matter... something that's highly effective at convincing you that it's something that it's not.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2009 11:44 PM GMT


Jam Session Vol.1
Jam Session Vol.1
Price: 23.15

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation..., 21 Nov 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Jam Session Vol.1 (Audio CD)
In one of those late night "music swapping" conversations a few months ago someone recommended to me Buck Clayton's "Jazz Sessions Volume 1". I hadn't heard of Buck Clayton before and the prospect of early 50's big band music didn't sound too encouraging but, regardless of this, I bought the CD and... wow!... it hasn't been off my stereo for weeks. Great music is timeless and this is a superb and timeless piece of beautifully relaxed and inspired playing. If you like this type of jazz you're probably wondering why I'm making a fuss about it but if, like me, you're not really into it then do yourself a huge favour and check it out.. you won't be disappointed.


Personal Accountz (PC/Mac/Linux)
Personal Accountz (PC/Mac/Linux)

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Simple and quick..., 20 Nov 2008
There's not much to Personal Accountz other than a simple and quick way of entering your personal financial transactions under as many Expenditure & Income categories and sub-categories as you want. Once the categories are set up (which, as with any personal accounting package, needs prior thought and planning) and the transactions for a defined period are entered, you get a straightforward summary of the totals for the period for each category & sub-category plus a separate analysis of the details of the transactions behind them that can be sorted in multiple ways. You also get the option to produce and print-out reports of all transactions by category type or keyword, and you get a basic but effective system to ensure that the underlying transactions reconcile to the relevant bank or credit card statements.

And... that's it. No bells & whistles and limited output options. So why three stars? Well, realistically, if you want true flexibility and power in analysing and managing your personal finances the best way to get it is to set-up a spreadsheet to take the category totals by period from this type of personal accounting package and then to manually transfer the actual figures from the accounting package into the spreadsheet. This way you can use the huge and powerful array of comparison, graphing and trend analysis tools in the spreadsheet to prepare annual budgets and to compare what's actually happening with what you think is happening. Sounds time consuming but, unless your finances are unduly complicated (in which case you probably need a full blown accounting package anyway) it's not, and it's by far the easiest and quickest way to get the additional flexibility that several other personal accounting packages claim to deliver.

The really time consuming part of the exercise isn't in transferring the category totals into the spreadsheet (and, don't be fooled by claims of "automatic CSV transfers" - at this level, manual transfer is usually simpler and more flexible); the real effort is in entering the large numbers of individual (often small value) transactions from your bank and credit card statements that make up these totals. And, to do this quickly and accurately, you need a package that allows you to enter and categorise these transactions with the minimum amount of typing, that produces the necessary category totals for transfer into the spreadsheet, that confirms that everything reconciles to your source statements, and that allows you to to search & query transactions by payee or other keywords for control & checking purposes. Which is exactly what Personal Accountz does. Use it for what is, and what its price fully justifies, and you'll be very happy.


Apple Mighty Mouse (USB) - MA086ZM/A
Apple Mighty Mouse (USB) - MA086ZM/A

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant... until it breaks, 7 Aug 2008
The Apple Mighty mouse (in both USB and wireless formats) is a worthy contender for the best mouse ever made. In particular, its tiny hyper-sensitive vertical & horizontal scroll button genuinely speeds up on-screen "productivity" to a level that, once you've got used to it, nothing else will do. Brilliant, that is until the scroll button stops working which in my case is about every 9 to 12 months. Bad news then... well yes, no piece of kit should do this, but right or wrong that's the way it is and when it happens I happily shell-out for a new one because it's that good to use. Look on it as the world's best and most expensive disposable mouse and you may not be too disappointed...


Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse
Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant... until it breaks, 7 Aug 2008
The Apple Mighty mouse (in both USB and wireless formats) is a worthy contender for the best mouse ever made. In particular, its tiny hyper-sensitive vertical & horizontal scroll button genuinely speeds up on-screen "productivity" to a level that, once you've got used to it, nothing else will do. Brilliant, that is until the scroll button stops working which in my case is about every 9 to 12 months. Bad news then... well yes, no piece of kit should do this, but right or wrong that's the way it is and when it happens I happily shell-out for a new one because it's that good to use. Look on it as the world's best and most expensive disposable mouse and you may not be too disappointed...


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