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

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Snatch - Two Disc Set [DVD] [2000]
Snatch - Two Disc Set [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Jason Statham
Offered by SweetBuzzards
Price: £3.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary... come again?, 5 July 2015
Snatch seems to be one of those spunky British gangster films that critics are divided on, yet it's loved by the target audience. Guy Ritchie has done a Sam Raimi, he has remade the first film that put him on the cinematic map. Where Raimi remade The Evil Dead, and just called it Evil Dead II, Ritchie cheekily tries to get away with remaking Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and calling it Snatch. Sure the circumstances in plotting are different, and there's a big American star brought in to beef things up for the global market, but it's the same movie and without doubt it's lazy film making. But it still - like Evil Dead II - Rocks!

Snatch in story terms is concerned with a big diamond that stitches together a number of threads involving the London underworld. Some rough and tough Romany types join in the fun, headed by a purposely illegible Brad Pitt, while Dennis Farina, Benicio Del Toro and Rade Serbedzija add more cosmopolitan meat to the crooks and gangster stew. The British cement holding the building up comes in the twin forms of Jason Statham and Stephen Graham, with Vinnie Jones once again turning up to frighten the masses. Everything from bare knuckle fighting to bumbled robberies - to dog fighting and shifty arcade empires - are here, with Ritchie writing characterisations that positively boom off of the screen.

As with "Lock-Stock", the beauty is in the way violence and humour are deftly blended. Scenes are often bloody but also bloody funny, a pearl of dialogue is never far away from a perilous situation. The comic tone is more close to the knuckle here, Ritchie having fun toying with ethnic and machismo stereotypes, while he brings his bag of visual tricks before it got boring. The narrative is deliciously complex, but much credit to Ritchie for the way he pulls all the threads neatly together in a whirl of scene splicing and cocky literary assuredness.

So it's "Lock-Stock 2" then! No bad thing if you happen to be a fan of that sort of wide boy malarkey. If you don't like it? Then jog on sunshine. 8/10

A Woman's Secret [DVD] [1949] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
A Woman's Secret [DVD] [1949] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £10.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars She had a voice with hormones., 5 July 2015
A Woman's Secret is directed by Nicholas Ray and adapted to screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz from the novel "Mortgage on Life" written by Vicki Baum. It stars Maureen O'Hara, Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Grahame, Victor Jory and Jay C. Flippen. Music is by Friedrich Hollaender and cinematography by George E. Diskant.

When young singer Susan Caldwell (Grahame) is shot, Marian Washburn (O'Hara) takes the blame and is promptly charged. But something isn't right and those closest to Marian decide to dig a little deeper...

If the Lord wanted you to have a bullet in you - you would have been born with one!

A big mix of noir/mystery/melodrama conventions here as this RKO production ultimately holds its head just above water. The major problem that brings frustration is that the resolution just renders the whole story as sort of pointless, it does at times feel like they made it up as they went along, a jumbled collections of ideas.

On the plus side there are some choice characterisations, a flashback structure and decent tech credits on show. Story is packed with angry lawyers, sarcastic coppers and sultry dames. Some of the dialogue spouted is noir gold, particularly when coming from the mouth of Flippen's (stealing the film but sadly under used) grizzled copper, while Ray and Diskant know their noir visuals as they tone down the contrasts and utilise closed in space for the more serious scenes in the story.

Grahame is full of sexual and world wise innocence, teasing away like a good un', Jory gives a show of fidgety anger, while Douglas gets the tongue in cheek role and works well as a romantic prop feeding off of O'Hara's (actually under written considering it's the lead) more sternly sexy performance. This is not essential noir for the the noir lovers, and certainly not prime stuff from noir legend Nicholas Ray. Yet it's better than its maligned reputation suggests. But only just mind you... 6/10

Streets of Laredo (1949)
Streets of Laredo (1949)
Dvd ~ William Holden
Offered by DaaVeeDee-uk
Price: £17.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Boys From Company D - Frontier Battalion., 5 July 2015
This review is from: Streets of Laredo (1949) (DVD)
*Film Review Only*

Streets of Laredo is directed by Leslie Fenton and adapted to screenplay by Charles Marquis Warren from a Louis Stevens and Elizabeth Hill story. It stars William Holden, Macdonald Carey, William Bendix and Mona Freeman. Music is by Victor Young and cinematography by Ray Rennahan.

For fans of traditional Westerns this is as solid as a Brick Adobe Structure. A remake of The Texas Rangers (1936) of sorts, plot finds Holden, Bendix and Carey as three bad boys who get divided by circumstance, love and conscious. Two of them wind up in the Texas Rangers - the famed frontier law enforcement battalion - the other stays on the wrong side of the law. All roads lead to the day of reckoning...

The production is the usual mixed bag of superlative location photography (Simi Valley/Gallup) and crude back projection so often seen in the 40s and 50s Oater releases, with Rennahan's Technicolor photography a treat for the eyes. Performances are assured because the three principal guy actors are given characterisations that suits them - Holden tough emotional anti-hero - Bendix a lovable and dopey toughie - Carey sly bad boy. Freeman is lovely but it's a dressage character, while Alfonso Bedoya is on hand for some stereotypical bandido villainy.

At 90 minutes in length it feels a bit padded out until the two guys actually join the Rangers, so some patience is required during the first half. However, there is plenty of Western movie action within the story, some turns in plotting to grab the heart strings and a pleasing array of costumes and musical accompaniments to keep the senses perky. All told, it's just a thoroughly enjoyable Oater regardless of if you have happened to have seen the original version. 7/10

The Small Back Room [DVD] [1949]
The Small Back Room [DVD] [1949]
Dvd ~ David Farrar
Price: £9.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I must have a drink. Ask me to have a drink woman., 3 July 2015
The Small Back Room (AKA: Hour of Glory) is directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, with both adapting the screenplay from the Nigel Balchin novel. It stars David Farrar, Kathleen Byron, Jack Hawkins, Leslie Banks and Michael Gough. Music is by Brian Easdale and cinematography by Christopher Challis.

As the Germans drop explosive booby-traps across coastline England, Sammy Rice (Farrar) will be tasked with learning the secret to disarming the deadly devices. But first he must beat his private battle with alcohol, his form of self medication due to the loss of one of his feet.

The Archers produce what is in essence a tale of redemption, it's a superbly mounted drama dripping with realism and infused with atmospheric black and white photography. It somewhat divided critics back on release, but that tended to be customary where Powell was concerned, who himself wasn't sure about the validity of this particular piece. Yet it finds Pressburger and himself on sure footings, returning to more grounded human dramatics, their willingness to explore the murky fallibility of mankind is a thing of bold and effective cinematic beauty.

The by-play between Farrar and Byron is sexually charged, but heart achingly poignant as well. The pic is at its best when these pair share scenes, the back drops to their troubled courting veering from vibrant (hope) to dour (despair), the latter always staged at Sammy's gloomy flat and the scene of a brilliantly filmed expressionistic nightmare that he suffers. Elsewhere various military types either stand tall or sit behind desks speaking in correct literary tones, their collective problem being that the pesky Germans have come up with a vile bomb tactic that needs addressing ASAP.

Can Sammy come through for not only the war effort, but also for his sanity? Watch and see, it's great film making across the board. 8/10

Carry On Spying [DVD]
Carry On Spying [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kenneth Williams
Price: £4.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I expected you to be a man... or a woman., 1 July 2015
This review is from: Carry On Spying [DVD] (DVD)
The 9th in the Carry On series, and the last to be filmed in black and white, is one of the best. It finds the gang kind of biting the hand that feeds them, Pinewood. The home of James Bond was also the home of the Carry On mob, so with Peter Rogers, Gerald Thomas and Talbot Rothwell spying an opportunity to spoof 007, they did so, whilst also revelling in the chance for some film noir dalliances, notably The Third Man.

The cast is this time headed up by Kenneth Williams, Barbara Windsor (making her Carry On debut), Bernard Cribbins and Charles Hawtrey. They are four less than stellar operatives for British Intelligence tasked with retrieving a top secret formula that has been stolen by STENCH. During their mission they are helped by Carstairs (Jim Dale), and just who or what is the mysterious organisation known as SNOG? Are they friends or in league with the evil Dr. Crow?

Though dotted throughout with some written innuendo, "Spying" is still in touch with the more genial comedy that was evident in the early years - particularly the black and whites. This is good honest comedy, with visual exuberance and witty repartee the order of the day. Watching it now you find it holds up very well, sure it's a bit fruity and nutty, but a freshness exists here and it lets some damn fine actors loose to show their respective skills. It also looks terrific, the noir photography by Alan Hume sparkling.

A prime Carry On movie for those who prefer their Carry On's more knowingly jolly than the later bawdy entries. 9/10

Miss Congeniality [DVD] [2000]
Miss Congeniality [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Sandra Bullock
Offered by b68solutions
Price: £2.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The last time I was this naked in public I was coming out of a uterus!, 1 July 2015
Miss Congeniality finds Sandra Bullock as FBI Agent Gracie Hart, who must go undercover in the Miss United States beauty pageant to prevent a psychopath from committing untold homicide.

The premise is simple, it's a Pygmalion/My Fair Lady scenario that transforms the rough and tough Gracie into a viable contestant for the pageant. Thus we have all the comedy that comes with her literally battling everyone, including her own opinions on pageants, as she is being asked to be something she doesn't believe is in her make up. The mystery of who the killer is who's on the loose is strong for a good portion of film, and even once it's known and drama takes centre stage, it's still hard to get the smile off of your face.

The jokes are plentiful, with Bullock finding chemistry with all of her co-stars. She's a very under valued comedy actress, and her ability to bond with an entire cast is marvellous to observe. Reference sexual tension with Benjamin Bratt, the jousting hostilities with Ernie Hudson, the way she bounces off of the other beautiful girls, and best of all the by-play with Michael Caine, who is playing a camp stylist and walks in to lift the laughter roof off the rafters in every scene he is in.

It doesn't push the boundaries of comedy, but it's thankfully a consistently funny piece of work, aided by a super cast on form who make a better comedy out of what the screenplay suggested it had any right to be. 7/10

Hollow Man [DVD] [2000]
Hollow Man [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Kevin Bacon
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's amazing what you can do... when you don't have to look at yourself in the mirror any more., 1 July 2015
This review is from: Hollow Man [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
It was the film that convinced director Paul Verhoeven to leave Hollywood and take a break from film making. His reasoning being that any Hollywood director could have made Hollow Man, a big effects led movie that made a lot of cash at the box office. It's this that is the main problem with the picture, it lacks some of the director's bite and satirical savagery, even the souped up sex (natural or deviant) that often comes with his productions. Yet devoid of expectations of a Verhoeven masterpiece, and the crushing realisation that it basically wastes its potential and plays out as a haunted house stalk movie - it's a good energetic popcorner.

It quickly becomes obvious that we are entering special effects extravaganza, the opening credits are dynamite, sci-fi sexy, then the opening gambit sequence literally grabs us and a rodent by the throat. From here on in we are treated to grade "A" effects and some genius ways of exposing "the invisible" Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) to us and the prey he soon comes to hunt. Unfortunately the whole cast performances are a much of a muchness, and playing a roll call of sci-fi stereotypes. All involved here have done much better work in their sleep, but they put the bums on theatre seats and ultimately this works as one of those movies designed to thrill and awe the senses - but not the brain. 6.5/10

The Beach [2000] [DVD]
The Beach [2000] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting away from it all may not be perfection paradise after all?, 29 Jun. 2015
This review is from: The Beach [2000] [DVD] (DVD)
I first viewed this film upon its release and felt that the final third did the film down - and that the voice-over took away from the essence of the story, thus it's average. My subsequent viewings over the years would see me lament about an arcade game sequence and bemoaning that Robert Carlyle wasn't given a more extended role, yet it has become a film that sees me totally on board with director Danny Boyle's production and it's now that I think it puts the story together with poignant precision.

Leonardo DiCaprio is Richard, a backpacker searching for a bit more in life, after a meeting with pot smoking loony Daffy (the wonderful Robert Carlyle), he learns of an island paradise that is everything he has yearned for in his life. Getting there will give him the adventure and danger he craves, because once there it apparently will be the thing of dreams, the perfect paradise cut off from civilisation...

The film is very much split in two, the first half introduces us to Richard and the people he would convince to travel with him to this island paradise, we then follow their journey that is perfect in fleshing out the characters, they come up against obstacles and learn about each other on the way. The second half is well worth waiting for because it's here that the story kicks in to make the viewer think, it's idyllic, it's gorgeous, it's near perfect, but wherever there is a community, there will be personal hang ups, jealousies, power seekers and etc, in short, the surroundings may be perfect but the human condition is far from flawless.

I love this film now, I love DiCaprio's performance, a cocky smart-arse thrill seeker about to get a wake up call is tailor made for him, and he delivers it with a skillful array of emotions. Director Danny Boyle does a great job of juggling the joys of paradise with the uneasy distortion of the various characters in the community, and the cinematography from Darius Khondji is truly beautiful (Thailand locales). The film suffers with the inevitable comparisons to Lord Of The Flies & Hearts Of Darkness, and yes these are fair comparisons, but it doesn't take away from the fact that it's a fine film for the modern generation in its own right, with the core point of the story relevant to all and sundry.

Fans of the novel would prove to be very ambivalent towards this filmic adaptation, but in my book it gets better on repeat viewings. 8/10

The Last Days on Mars [DVD]
The Last Days on Mars [DVD]
Dvd ~ Liev Schreiber
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Soporific Shocker in Shaky-Cam., 28 Jun. 2015
This review is from: The Last Days on Mars [DVD] (DVD)
What is it with Mars based movies? It's a planet that has been in all our lives via press, geography, history and etc, yet when it comes to film it proves to be a subject too much too far for some film makers.

The makers here add a zombie slant to things, which in truth is just another excuse for a monsters on the loose plot. Only it's in shaky-cam this time, the hope obviously was to add realism to the preposterous story. On the page it clearly had potential to be a fun-packed thriller, the execution sadly not only wastes a grand cast list, but plays out as dull and introduces nothing remotely smart or interesting to the sci-fi and horror genres. 4/10

Oregon Passage [DVD] [1957] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Oregon Passage [DVD] [1957] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £11.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Black Eagle - Little Deer - Pounding Hearts., 28 Jun. 2015
Oregon Passage (AKA: Rio Bravo) is directed by Paul Landres and adapted to screenplay by Jack DeWitt from the novel written by Gordon D. Shirreffs. It stars John Ericson, Lola Albright, Toni Gerry, Edward Platt, Rachel Ames and H.M. Wynant. Music is by Paul Dunlap and CinemaScope photography is by Ellis Carter.

It's somewhat surprising that given the production value here that this is a little known Cavalry & Indians Oater. Of course the absence of "A" list male stars explains its rarity a touch, but still it deserves a look if not for the formulaic plotting, then for the production strengths.

Plot finds Ericson as Lt. Niles Ord in Oregon 1871, he's 1/16th Cherokee and has a grasp of the Indian situation! Holed up at the fort with a commanding officer who has a grudge (Platt), Ord and the rest of the soldiers operate in constant threat of attack from Black Eagle and his Shoshone warrior tribe. Meanwhile tricky matters of the heart produce internal war within the fort's boundaries.

Nothing for Western fans to get too excited about but it's a very well mounted picture. Platt is a Custer character just waiting to get comeuppance, his pigheadedness and repeated locking of horns with Ericson drives the story forward. Albright and Gerry are absolutely socko gorgeous, lit up in De Luxe colour and given written parts that may be familiar, but nonetheless are performed for good impact. It often gets draggy as it spends too much time inside the fort, the character interactions at times becoming extraneous, but action pops in from time to time and is competently staged and raises the pulses. The CinemaScope photography is most pleasing, Ellis Carter (The Incredible Shrinking Man) making use of the Deschutes National Forest locations. Dunlap's musical score is by the numbers for such a Western movie, though his various incorporation's of "Red River Valley" strike an impression, whilst the design of the fort - all sharpened timber - is also striking. Worth a viewing for the Oater of mind. 6/10

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