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Reviews Written by
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.)

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Spike Island [DVD] [2012]
Spike Island [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Elliott Tittensor
Price: £4.20

3.0 out of 5 stars Does Mat Whitecross' film Bang the Drum?, 2 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Spike Island [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
It's May 1990, Great Britain, and The Stone Roses are about to play a monumental outdoor gig at Spike Island in Widnes, Cheshire. A bunch of teenage acolytes of the band, aspiring musicians themselves, embark on a journey to Spike Island whist at the same time embarking on personal journeys of the real life kind.

Us Brits do like ourselves a coming of age drama set to the backdrop of musical importance. Mat Whitecross (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll) taps into the era of Baggy Manchester, of a Northern Britain dominated by pills, thrills and romantic bellyaches. To many of a certain age The Stone Roses were "their" Beatles, a power pop foursome that rocked it big time, their influence on the British music industry is still being felt today. This in spite of their relatively short life span. Re: The Sex Pistols at Winterland, see The Stone Roses at Spike Island (in other words it was a pretty awful gig all told).

However, the band are secondary to the teen angst narrative threads, to the scallywag japes and sexual growing pains. As Messrs Ian Brown and John Squire weave their chordal magic in the background, a bunch of spotty Herbert's with mad mac haircuts and iffy accents try and make sense of it all, of life, death, loves and hates. Music binds them together, but does anything else?

It's all very formulaic stuff, but for those of the time, or for those with a love for how music can define your life, or at the least shape its direction, then this hits the requisite chords. It's funny at times and the cast are ebullient enough to carry the clichéd and thin material home, but come the finale you will be remembering the soundtrack more than the story itself. 6.5/10

Up Periscope [DVD] [1959] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Up Periscope [DVD] [1959] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ James Garner
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £8.14

3.0 out of 5 stars Up Periscope and Down Tools., 2 Mar. 2015
Tricky. It's a decent film, lovely to look at with its scope photography and technicolor palettes, James Garner and Edmond O'Brien are holding court in the acting stakes, and of course this being a submarine war film it has the requisite claustrophobic feel. Yet it never really gels as a whole, submerging too far into the mundane to play out a whole bunch of sequences that test the patience of the viewer. There's also the not too small problem of being able to suspend disbelief with the final mission.

Now this is Hollywood and a Warner Brothers film, in 1959, so we don't naturally expect realism in our story telling, in fact we often want incredulity to stir the blood, but this kinda takes the rise too far. Alan Hale Junior is on hand for comic relief, and this proves good foil for Garner's lovable charm, but Gordon Douglas directs at such a snails pace you get the feeling that the comedy is just a merciful release for all involved. In short there's both the good and bad of 1950s war film making on show here; production value is high - narrative thrust is tepid. 6/10

American Mary [DVD] [2012]
American Mary [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Katharine Isabelle
Price: £4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Caustic Cuttings., 1 Mar. 2015
This review is from: American Mary [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
Some horror fans love it, others not so much, which where horror film fans are concerned comes as absolutely no surprise. So roll the dice and take your chance here then!

American Mary is written and directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska. Katharine Isabelle (looking uncannily like Mary Elizabeth Winstead) stars as the titular Mary of the title. She's a medical student who during a cash crisis is lured to the underground world of surgeries not deemed as the norm in medical school circles...

Hoo-hah! Get ready for sexual deviance, dismemberment, human splicing and a whole host of other things that are brilliantly caked in a caustic satirical sauce by the Soska girls. Imagery is strong, the aftertaste lasting as you enter at your own peril a world of repugnant beings masquerading as humans, of fetishists pushing the boundaries, it's noirville but not as we know it Jim. But always there's a pierced and bloody tongue prodding the cheek, even if the odd period of time spent in bizarro world fails to add up.

Wonderful. Go Mary! Go Soska Girls! Just don't call on me any time soon, huh... 8/10

Joy Division [DVD]
Joy Division [DVD]
Dvd ~ Grant Gee
Price: £5.00

4.0 out of 5 stars In the shadowplay acting out your own death knowing no more., 1 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Joy Division [DVD] (DVD)
Joy Division, the mercurial Manchester based masters of dark post punk sounds, who in Ian Curtis had one of the eras most tortured souls.

Directed by Grant Gee and written by Jon Savage, this documentary actually brings nothing new to the table for hardened fans of the band, of which I am unashamedly amongst that number. There is a tendency with musical documentaries to be over praised by fans simply because, well, they just love to see their idols/heroes/inspirations up there on the screen. Grant Gee's film has strong merits as an introduction for those new to the band, for the curious and to those hypnotised by tunes so hauntingly poetic they can reduce you to tears, but again for those who have followed Joy Division and their subsequent brotherhood band, New Order, there is nothing to be learned here.

The absence of Deborah Curtis (Ian's widow) from the doc is annoying, where we are only given printed quotes from her. One can only guess that she refused to be sharing screen space with her love rival, and fellow tormentor of Ian Curtis' psyche, Annik Honoré, the latter of which who is more than happy to fuel the documentary fire. At times this feels like a copy of Anton Corbijn's superb film, Control, only with the real life band members and entourage commenting from the edges of the frame. But then there is of course the live excerpts of the band, which lifts this up to the high levels set by Control and Deborah Curtis' excellent book, Touching from a Distance.

In that, there is the crux, Joy Division the film is essential for fans, to see that performance of Shadowplay and etc etc, it's these moments that make us forgive the narrative, which quite frankly, is a bit of a cash cow cash in. And I really do say that with heavy heart. 8/10

Appointment In London [1953] [DVD]
Appointment In London [1953] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dirk Bogarde
Offered by dvdGOLD
Price: £6.23

4.0 out of 5 stars Bally Good Show., 1 Mar. 2015
It has something of an inauspicious title, in that it doesn't do justice to the film making craft and subject matter on offer here in Phillip Leacock's film.

Leacock and his lead man, the splendidly regal Dirk Bogarde, produce a war film of undoubted human depth. There's no sledge hammer tactics to try and curry favour with the critics and film goers alike, no clichés bogging the narrative down, this is an honest to goodness telling of the emotional trials, strains, fears and peeves of a Bomber Command Squadron in England preparing for a mission during WWII 1943. Even the inevitable romantic threads are handled with skill by the makers, never cloying and adding impact as the heroes get ready for the big bully off.

Some of the action sequences show their age, but that's fine in the context of old time cinema, while the likes of Twelve O'Clock High (which came four years before this was released) set the bar too high for Leacock's film to be unfairly compared with. Yet this earns its stripes, very much so, because as those wonderful Avro Lancaster's take to the skies and thunder though the clouds, you realise you care about every single one of those involved in the mission, both in the air and on the ground. 7.5/10

Shed No Tears [DVD] [1948] [Region 1] [NTSC] [US Import]
Shed No Tears [DVD] [1948] [Region 1] [NTSC] [US Import]
Dvd ~ Wallace Ford

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Single Indemnity…, 12 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Directed by Jean Yarbrough and starring Wallace Ford and June Vincent, Shed No Tears was once one of those lost film noirs that noiristas craved to see. Now widely available to view, it proves to be a decent journey into noirville, even if it becomes a touch shaky come the final third.

Plot has Vincent as a devious femme fatale wife who convinces her husband (Ford) to fake his own death. The plan is to get rich on the insurance claim, but soon it becomes apparent that hubby is caught in a maelstrom of murder, blackmail and treachery. The plot dynamics are laid out for us very early in the peace, leaving the rest of the narrative to tease us with the shifty shenanigans of the protagonists. Classic noir staples are adhered to with the characterisations, viper woman, dupes, dopes crooks and cronies, Yarbrough moves it along at a good old B noir clip, while the screenplay has enough twists and surprises in it to keep the noir faithful pleased. 7/10

The Frogmen DVD 1951 (Region 2 Compatible Import) Richard Widmark, Dana Andrews, Gary Merrill and Jeffrey Hunter. Directed by Lloyd Bacon
The Frogmen DVD 1951 (Region 2 Compatible Import) Richard Widmark, Dana Andrews, Gary Merrill and Jeffrey Hunter. Directed by Lloyd Bacon
Offered by MagicoClassicMovies
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frogs Abound In WWII., 12 Feb. 2015
Directed by Lloyd Bacon and starring Richard Widmark, Dana Andrews, Gary Merrill, Jeffrey Hunter and Robert Wagner. Plot finds Widmark as a strict disciplinarian who takes command of the Navy Underwater Demolition Team and quickly upsets the men with his forceful ways. With the team building up to a crucial mission the question is if the men and commander can find an accord for the war effort?

Like the men at the film’s heart, this is a sturdy war film that’s for those who don’t mind the focus being more on characterisations than action. The sets and construction of certain scenes show their age, but the underwater filming is neat and the strong cast keep the viewer engaged enough till the big mission arrives. Not essential war film buff viewing, but a decent time waster at least. 5.5/10

Replicant [DVD] [2002]
Replicant [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Jean-Claude Van Damme
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.61

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Double Trouble for Van Damme again!, 12 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Replicant [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
Yet another Jean-Claude Van Damme film that sees him tasked with playing two characters. In spite of its shaky reputation this isn’t half bad, it delivers what most Van Damme fans expect, namely bonkers fights and shifty science. Plot has Van Damme as a fire obsessed serial killer who is always one step ahead of the police. Enter science as a chance to clone the killer arises and this sets in motion the wheels of the Van Damme clone trying to come to terms with his alien world as he, and world weary police officer Jake Riley (Michael Rooker), set about capturing the unhinged mad man.

It’s of course daft but it’s a whole bunch of fun, and with the strong presence of Rooker supplemented by two very interesting performances by Van Damme, pic is in good hands. The fight scenes are smoothly choreographed and exciting, with director Ringo Lam clearly aware of what makes a Van Damme movie work. It’s not prime Van Damme, but it’s above average and well worth checking out for those so inclined. 6/10

Captain Scarlett [DVD]
Captain Scarlett [DVD]
Dvd ~ Richard Greene
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Definitely not indestructible., 12 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Captain Scarlett [DVD] (DVD)
"Following the defeat of Napoleon, France was in a state of unrest. Many of the Royalists who had fled to England returned to exact vengeance for their real and fancied wrongs. Some turned the situation to their personal advantage...becoming Tyrants and Petty Dictators...."

Set in France but filmed in Mexico, Captain Scarlett is a hum-drum swashbuckler short on thrills, spills and originality of story. Richard Greene stars as the titular Scarlett, who sets about righting wrongs as he gathers supporters and catches the eyes of the babes. It’s a sort of low rent Robin Hood, the Gallic version, Greene is dandy as usual, the costuming pleasing and with it running at just 75 minutes it moves along fast enough and doesn’t outstay its welcome. But it’s all pretty stale and way down on the list of swashbucklers to see before you die. 4/10

Tales of Terror [DVD] [1962] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Tales of Terror [DVD] [1962] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Vincent Price

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Corman, Poe & Price., 12 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The fourth venture into Poe adaptations for Roger Corman and Vincent Price sees them taking on the portmanteau format with a trilogy of creepers.

First off is Morella, which finds Price as a typecast loner living in a big old mansion with the dead corpse of his wife! Enter his daughter, who at birth was the reason for Morella’s death and thus Price originally holds a grudge, but of course there is a twist in the tale.

Secondly is The Black Cat, with Peter Lorre joining Price in the best of the three tales. Price is a wine tasting dandy, Lorre a complete drunk and once Price meets Lorre’s beautiful put upon wife, things are going to end badly.

Finally is The Case of M Valdemar which pits Basil Rathbone into the mix as a devious hypnotist who uses his powers for what he thinks will be sexually tinged deeds. Price is in this as well, but spends most of the story as a corpse.

It’s a short sharp shock piece of film making, fun and sometimes stylish, it doesn’t however have the requisite scares to marry up with the welcome black humour that makes the second instalment the standout.

Still, having three legends of cinema in one picture has to be a bonus, and The Black Cat alone is worth investing time with this one. 7/10

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