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Lendrick (London)
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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen [DVD]
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ewan McGregor
Price: £5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars RomCom with added fish, 25 Feb. 2013
As slight odd premise for Romantic Comedy actually works remarkably well. At it best this is played for charming laughs with McGregor & Blunt both excellent while Kristin Scott Thomas delivers a wonderfully over the top comic performance. McGregor is perhaps too young and cast too much against type for the role but still carries it off very well.

Where the film falls down is when it tries to take on more serious themes around conflict in the Middle East & terrorism. But fortunately these are short lived.

Overall pretty enjoyable.


Saving Private Ryan - 2 Disc Special Edition [Blu-ray] [1998] [Region Free]
Saving Private Ryan - 2 Disc Special Edition [Blu-ray] [1998] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Tom Hanks

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim and gripping, 25 Feb. 2013
Saving Private Ryan is a film with a massive reputation which I'd somehow managed not to get round to watching, it's always slightly difficult watch such films as you go in with high expectations.

After a brief intro you are thrown straight into the action on Omaha beach, it's the part of the film most written about, and often described as one of the most accurate depictions of those events. Who am I to argue, it's visceral and shocking and at times hard to watch.

After that the main body of film is Tom Hanks leading a small group of soldiers in search of the titular Private Ryan, that last survivor of 4 brothers. This part is more problematic, the mission itself is fictional and unbelievable and draped in sentiment. While members of Hanks group rarely rise above stock character. All of which makes it slight difficult to engage or care too much about any of them. This isn't helped by the lack of a bigger picture of either the landings themselves, or of the context; Germans are cannon fodder the French absent. With exception of one German 'character' whose subplot provides the weakest part of the story.

Despite these failings the quality of the direction and acting in general makes for a very watchable and moving film. In the end I think Ryan is symbolic all of us who benefited from the sacrifices made by that generation, and we should all be asking ourselves, have we earned it?


Battlestar Galactica: Season 3 [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Battlestar Galactica: Season 3 [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Edward James Olmos
Price: £10.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Losing the plot?, 17 Feb. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I thought BSG mini-series was one of the greatest pieces of TV I have ever seen and season 1 was not far behind. But since then is seems that the law of diminishing returns applies. After a great start it has taken me a long time to work my way through the discs of series 3. While still capable of strong episodes and some fantastic performances, the overall driving narrative seems to get lost, and there is a strong feeling of things being dragged out for no particular reason (other then to make more money).

Two examples
* while you can see what they are trying to do with the episodes looking at the internal politics of the remain humans, it does stretch credibility that this fleet of survivors has exactly the right mix of ships to survive, we got through the miniseries and 2 series without even knowing there was tylium processing ship in the fleet!
* the scenes on the Cylons ships at times fall into dreadful 60s SciFi cliche, and the Cylon 'society' unconvincing the Cylons work best as a dark threat against which the humans respond, and its the human response that makes the story interesting.'fleshing out' the Cylons really doesn't work

For all that after 2 series you are so engaged with the excellent characters and performance that much of this is forgivable, and there are still excellent episodes, in particular the escape from new Caprica and the series finale.

As an aside why is this whole series so confusingly packaged? OK I understand why the mini-series precedes Series 1, but what is marketed as Series 4 is actually only the 1st half of series 4 the second half being called 'The Final Season'. While the 1st 2 episodes of series 4 are apparently a flashback to events that happen during Series 2!

All of which serves to reinforce my feeling that the overall story arc is being dragged out to far. Still having got this far I'll be sticking with it to the end.


Last
Last
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £19.83

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too subdued and lush for it's own good., 10 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Last (Audio CD)
Opener Gan to the Kye is engaging, understated vocals, subtly arranged accompaniment that is lusher than traditional fair, reminding me of the arrangement's Sam Lakeman does for Cara Dillon but with added orchestra. Trouble is, it sets a template that the album rarely varies from - understated good taste, every song at the same tempo and mood. Not always a bad thing but in this case it veers to ward the soporific.

Rachel Unthank has built up quite a reputation as a singer, but the breathy subdued style often adopted here combined with the vocals often being low in the mix mean she doesn't make much impression on me.


The Restoration Game
The Restoration Game
by Ken MacLeod
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.86

4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly gripping mix of political thriller and SF, 2 Feb. 2013
This review is from: The Restoration Game (Paperback)
This is my fifth Ken Macleod, his early books had great ideas, but the writing and plotting didn't always live up to them. However, I greatly enjoyed The Night Sessions: A Novel so gave this a go. Where The Night Sessions mixed detective and SF, this one takes us into the realms of the political thriller and post soviet politics. In fact for a while it's not clear whether this is an SF novel at all.

Other reviews will give synopsis of the plot, what I'd say is it is well written, with well drawn characters, but dips a bit in the middle. At times there is also a bit too much exposition - there is a lot to explain. But on the whole it's engaging and the ending satisfying, an enjoyable read.


Gone [DVD]
Gone [DVD]
Dvd ~ Amanda Seyfried
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £6.74

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pacy but unconvincing, 27 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Gone [DVD] (DVD)
Some SPOILERs ahead.

Gone, has a decent premise; a young woman was found in the forest saying she had been kidnapped and nearly murdered, but the police find no evidence. Is she telling the truth or deluded? When her sister goes missing the police refuse to believe it's a kidnap so she goes in search herself.

Amanda Seyfried in the central role is on screen most of the time and gives a good a good performance. However is seriously let down by a script that never really draws out the dramatic possibilities of the 'should we believe her?' element, then relies on a series of improbable events to lead her to the fairly effective conclusion.

However once it gets going it moves along at a decent pace, and at 95 minutes long doesn't overstay it's welcome. Not bad for a evening in, but you wouldn't want to watch it more than once.


Prometheus [DVD] [2012]
Prometheus [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Noomi Rapace
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.97

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars chaotic,empty,mess of a film, 18 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Prometheus [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
Ok I nicked that title from a comment on another review - but is seems to me to sum up Prometheus perfectly.

It looks great - but that's about the only positive thing I can say for it. Incoherent plotting, cliched underdeveloped characters. it's hard to understand how such a mess got made, or attracted good reviews.

I't starts well referencing not just Alien but other classic SF films like 2001. However, it soon becomes apparent that in not wanting to repeat the plot of Alien or Aliens Scott doesn't know what to do with the story, which soon descends into an incoherent mess. SPOILER. It eventually turns out that Aliens are the product of the melding of the DNA of a giant octopus and some sort or Erik Von Danikenesque super race that apparently created the human race WTF!?

I did make it to the end - increasingly annoyed and disappointed, the set up for the sequel was just about the final straw.


The Notebook [DVD]
The Notebook [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gena Rowlands
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.37

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chocolate box romance, 12 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The Notebook [DVD] (DVD)
It was the presence of Gena Rowlands and the direction of her son Nick Cassavetes that drew me to this, expecting something like his fathers gritty films in which Gena featured. However, The Notebook is a rather syrupy romance. The chocolate box pretty title scenes though give a pretty strong indication of what is to follow.

The core of the film is a pretty standard `love across the tracks' tale of youthful romance initially thwarted by parental interference. But Cassavetes gets good performances from Gosling (Noah) and McAdams (Allie) and it is all beautifully shot.

In parallel we get a tale set in an old peoples home with James Garner reading the tale of Noah and Allie to Gena Rowlands dementia blighted character. The links between the two tales are pretty obvious, and revealed about half way through in a rather clumsy scene.

This second thread was for me less satisfying. I've had first-hand experience of the effects of dementia and Rowlands rather stiff performance reveals little of the confusion and pain it can bring. The ending also drags somewhat before the rather predictable conclusion.

Overall mostly strong performances and direction raise this above the rather cliched nature of the material.

Enjoyable enough Sunday afternoon kind of movie.


Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell
Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell
by Katherine Angel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.79

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating rather than titilating, 7 Jan. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is plenty of poor writing about sex around so it's a pleasure to come across a book so well an thoughtfully written. It an odd book made of up very brief prose sections, sometimes only a sentence or 2 on a page. Sometimes it's quite explicit, other more about the ideas and politics of sex. But it's engaging all the way through.


Julie and Julia [DVD] [2010]
Julie and Julia [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Meryl Streep
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thinly spread fare, 7 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Julie and Julia [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Meryl Streep play Julia Childs a celebrity chef from the 1960s who apparently introduced french cooking to the USA. I'd not heard of her, but the film seems to assume that we will know who she is. Childs was eccentric and Streep certainly gives a performance - one that wowed the critics, but it felt a little overcooked to me a points.

The second story here is a blogger (Julie) working her way through Julia's recipe book, there is less substance here, but is does provide a nice counterpoint to the main story, and some evidence for the impact Julia made.

I enjoyed this for the first hour or so, Julia in Paris learning about French cooking was entertaining. But it gets bogged down in her search for a book deal and stretches the thin material it has too far. It stops when both women earn a book deal. But I'd have liked to have known more about what happened after that and less about before.

Would have been better had it been about 30 minutes shorter.


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