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

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Sin City [DVD] [2005]
Sin City [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Bruce Willis
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £6.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Visceral, Visionary, Visual, Sin City kicks the big un!, 17 Sep 2014
This review is from: Sin City [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
Three grizzled stories from Basin City comprise the basis for Robert Rodriguez's adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novels (Miller along for co-directing duties as well). Man mountain Marv is out to avenge a murdered hooker, Dwight attempts to help the red light girls stay independent from the mob, and aging cop Hartigan is trying to protect a beautiful dancer from a sadistic pervert.

I think the first thing I should say is that I have no frame of reference as regards the adaptation here, I have never read (or seen) a Frank Miller story, but from what I can gather from the IMDb site is that fans of Miller's graphic stories were well pleased with the final result. I'm pleased to see that, because too many times comic book adaptations are roundly panned by the hard core fan base of each respective franchise for not being close to the spirit of the source, so here I'm doubly relieved mainly because I find Sin City to be a majestic assault on the senses.

Sin City is a stark place, full of seedy residents thriving on misery and mistrust, and here we are privy to three stories that only serve to remind us that we don't want to be anywhere near the place. Playing out as some sort of horror comic noir, Sin City is for sure a very violent picture, yet the violence is formed so perfectly in its style, it cloaks the film in artistic class. Once viewed, Sin City is never forgotten, and I for one literally do tip my hat towards Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez for bringing such a great and interesting movie to the masses. All of the cast do great work, so I'll not single anyone out for praise, the techniques and the whole structure of the piece is quite simply marvellous, and as for the writing? Well get a load of it!

Sin City, a dark horrible place, Sin City, a wonderful wonderful movie. 9/10

El Cid [DVD]
El Cid [DVD]
Dvd ~ Charlton Heston
Price: £6.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars " And the Cid rode thru the gate and into legend ", 17 Sep 2014
This review is from: El Cid [DVD] (DVD)
El Cid is the story of legendary Rodrigo Diaz who lifted his country with valour and integrity to drive the Moorish invaders from Spain.

I think the best thing I can say about this film is that even though it's nearly three hours long, I never once look at the clock. It's a thoroughly engaging picture that boasts all the great hallmarks of a sweeping historical epic. The colour, the costumes, the scope, and the attention to detail from director Anthony Mann are first rate, and par for the course is the suitably rousing score from Miklos Rozsa. Big square jawed bronzed beefcake Charlton Heston takes the lead role as Diaz, and firmly cements himself as the go to guy for gargantuan epics. Support comes in the form of Sophia Loren, Genevieve Page, Raf Vallone, John Fraser (excellent), and Gary Raymond (also excellent).

The story is an excellent one because Diaz was such a fine character from the annals of Spanish history, uniting the sulking Christian kings of Spain whilst simultaneously lifting the people of the streets off their knees and getting them to believe in the cause. Yet it has to be said that El Cid is far from the perfect historical epic movie, even allowing for the usual Hhollywoodisation of facts, one can't quite get past the fact that El Cid comes across as a glamorised glory tale without any hindrances. Surely here in the 11th century, El Cid's path would have been fraught and sodden with a great deal more death and destruction? It takes away greatly from the film's end because the build up of Cid's heroism actually didn't contain a great deal of hard work. It was a stroll in the park so to speak.

Still, it's a wonderful film that ticks all the boxes for genre staples, and as churlish as I may be as regards the assumptive nature of El Cid's story being told here, I'm still the first to start cheering and thumping my chest as the credits role, and not even Sophia Loren's pout can distract me from the bravado warmth washing over me. 8/10

The Agony and the Ecstasy [DVD] [1965]
The Agony and the Ecstasy [DVD] [1965]
Dvd ~ Charlton Heston
Price: £7.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When will you make an end?, 17 Sep 2014
When I am finished!

And so it be that that is the often repeated exchange between Rex Harrison's Pope Julius II & Charlton Heston's Michelangelo, and thus we have the basis for the film version of Irving Stone 's novel The Agony & The Ectasy. This is a fictionalised account of how Michelango came to paint his masterpiece on the roof of the Sistine chapel, focusing solely on the two main characters of the piece, The Agony & The Ectasy is a character and dialogue driven piece of work.

I'm not here to give you a history lesson on the Renaisssance painters or the background to Pope Julius II (The Warrior Pope) and his term of office, there are many well written comments on this site that revel in that side of things. I'm here purely as a lover of this film and to tell you that I do indeed love it regardless of the obvious historical failings. It spins a smashing story of two great men driven to distraction by each other on account of each respective mans' blustery ego, both men seemingly failing to realise that what irks them so, does in fact flourish the soul. Thankfully the two lead actors here put up a special show to carry the film with ease, both Heston & Harrison really getting their teeth into the roles to feed off each other with quality results, with one scene having Michelangelo goad Julius off his sick bed being particularly memorable. The toil and time consuming lengths that Michelangelo went to finish the wondrous ceiling of the chapel is perfectly captured by the pacing from director Carol Reed, and it's within this mindset that I personally feel engrossed with the characters from beginning to end. Though it should be noted that the film is not without moments of humour, some scenes shaking you away from the battle of wills to bring dashes of levity.

It's safe to say that one should avoid this film if they are after a searing costume drama infused with battles and death encompassing romances, this is purely for those after fine art, fine acting, and most of all, fine story telling. 8.5/10

Kung Fu Hustle [Blu-ray] [2005] [US Import] [2004]
Kung Fu Hustle [Blu-ray] [2005] [US Import] [2004]
Dvd ~ Stephen Chow
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £9.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite an experience, and in a great way as well!, 17 Sep 2014
Went into this one totally blind as to its contents, truth is, is that I was mooching round the shops yesterday and came across an Asian triple pack DVD at a bargain price, since one of the films was Jet Li starrer Unleashed, i thought it was worth the cheap price on offer. Got home and the write up on the back of the case didn't give much away as regards plot for Kung Fu Hustle, an Axe Gang, some guy named Sing wants to be in the gang, and that some creaky old residents in a place called Pig Sty Ally are tougher than they look.

What I got was what I can only describe as a live cartoon full of class and style, the sort of flip side to the more arty Asian films that have (rightly) become massively popular in the subsequent decadse. Written, directed, produced and starring Stephen Chow (Sing), Kung Fu Hustle is a remarkably breathless piece of work, the plot is threadbare for sure, but it really matters not, because Chow has fused the grand old genre staple punch up with balletic comedy, it's quite something to behold. It's as loud as a face off between Motorhead & Iron Maiden, yet it's just so flipping tender at the same time! Incredible sequences will dazzle you one moment and then have you laughing the next, I'm quite annoyed that I didn't catch on to this film back in 2004, but even now some years later this film is still a breath of fresh air on the home format release. See it and roll with it, enjoy. 9/10

Abbott And Costello: Hit The Ice/Lost In Alaska [DVD]
Abbott And Costello: Hit The Ice/Lost In Alaska [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bud Abbott
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Film Review Only., 17 Sep 2014
Hit the Ice

Not quite Universal Studios flogging a dead horse...

...but dangerously close.

However, there is still enough here to keep the grin on the face and there is still a high production value within the structure, if only the same could be said of the writing! I tend to feel with Abbott & Costello movies it pays to take a break for a few months and then go back to further viewings refreshed and not feeling a sense of seen this before repetitiveness.

This one sees the boys as photographers who unwittingly get mixed up in a bank robbery and have to flee to a ski resort to hopefully prove their innocence. The usual pratfalls are abound as Tubby constantly loses his pants, gets his bum set on fire, skis with a grizzly bear, and of course he tries to woo the pretty lady by bluffing he can play the piano. Music comes courtesy of Ginny Simms and the Johnny Long Orchestra, with stoic supporting acting duties falling to Patric Knowles, Elyse Knox and the always great Sheldon Leonard as the chief villain.

Not close to being in the top five outings from the guys, but certainly an above average offering showing glimpses of just why they really were a special talent back in the day. 6/10

The Cottage [DVD] [2008]
The Cottage [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Ellison
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £5.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a comedy with bite, right to the end., 6 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Cottage [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Two brothers, David & Peter, kidnap Tracey, the daughter of local tough guy gangster Arnie, they hold her to ransom for the sum of £100,000. What they hadn't bargained into the equation is that Tracey is one tough feisty lady, and that a turn of events will lead them to something far more scary than big bad gangster Arnie.

This is the second feature from director Paul Andrew Williams, and bearing in mind that his debut effort was the highly lauded gritty drama London To Brighton, it's no surprise to find that some folk are a little bemused as to the genre splicing nature of The Cottage. The Cottage is far more in keeping with Christopher Smith's 2006 horror comedy, Severance, and certainly it wouldn't be out of place as a double bill with that criminally undervalued picture.

Very much a film of two halves, this picture is likely to prove a very divisive piece, and it will (has) only find an audience based on word of mouth alone. You will be hard pressed to find any sort of press marketing that will prepare you for the type of genre fusion film you are getting. Already, based on the comments written on this site thus far, you can see that some people were confused (or annoyed) by the tonal shift for the second half of the film. The first half sees poles apart brothers, David & Peter, swapping comedy dialogue as they whisk through a number of exchanges and circumstances with the marvellously volatile Tracey. While the second part of the picture hits you over the head with a quick switch to horror formula that has catering fulfilment for the gore junkies amongst us.

And this is where the problem lies with many, why didn't the film stay as a kidnap farce? Why didn't it set its stall out to be a horror film from the off? There is no denying that the films high points come with the horror moments, but the film is first and foremost a comedy, from the first reel to the cheeky end of credits sequence it is what it is. As deliciously sick as the gore shift is, The Cottage never once takes its tongue out of its bloody cheek. It's obvious that Paul Andrew Williams is having fun here, he is clearly hoping his audience will as well. View it as an all encompassing comedy/horror/thriller in that order and you wont go far wrong.

Andy Serkis plays David, the tough brother of the two, with Serkis doing a wonderful line in both visual and vocal comedy. This benefits Reece Shearsmith as Peter, a character so far under the thumb he can barely be seen. Shearsmith feeds off of Serkis to seal the comedy deal for this odd brotherly couple. British tabloid fave Jennifer Ellison plays Tracey, literally swearing for England to have the audience divided as to if they want her to survive or not! But it's a gutsy show from her and one hopes she ventures into this territory a bit more often. There is nothing new or fresh here, and this wont win any awards; even in its homeland of England, but it is FUN and it shows a director intent on making films from different genres. 7/10

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [DVD] [2007]
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Brad Pitt
Price: £2.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection., 6 Sep 2014
I think I will just come right out and say it from the off, this is a masterpiece, a truly spell binding, mesmerising tour de force that seeps class from every pore. I have often found myself cringing and turning my back on those who use in film debate the tired old defence of "it's not for everyone", but here I find I have no choice because this picture is purely for those enamoured with poetic beauty and precision film making at its highest. Those in search of an all action gun toting western need not apply, in fact those merely after popcorn fodder to while away an evening viewing should steer well clear. Andrew Dominik's second directorial effort is a character and dialogue driven piece of work, its thematic heart swirling with intelligence and elegiac beauty.

The story centrers around the final days of notorious outlaw Jesse James, and how one of his young disciples came to murder him on April 3rd 1882. Using Ron Hansen's novel as its source, it also fills in the gaps as to what became of the murderer Robert Ford as regards the subsequent aftermath of killing the infamous Jesse James. The film is dealing with issues all to prevalent in modern day society, we are witnessing perhaps the first instance of celebrity status gone berserker, we see how the press glamorise the nasty piece of work that was Jesse James, turning him into some sort of quintessential noble outlaw. We observe a stalking menace yearning to be like his hero, a young and impressionable fellow who's hurtling towards infamy completely oblivious of the pitfalls and irony of it all.

Structually the film is perfect, and to me the film defines the old saying of art on the silver screen. The performances of the lead actors are incredible, Brad Pitt gives a career high as Jesse James, all teetering villainy yet perfectly befitting the prince charming outlaw persona so gleefully built up by the press. Sam Rockwell is Charley Ford, and here he proves that movie big wigs really need to start giving the guy some more dramatic roles to get his teeth in to. Yet as good as Pitt & Rockwell are, both men are left trailing in the wake of Casey Affleck's performance as Robert Ford, childish emotion fused with flecks of dark undercurrents as Affleck layers a perfect show. How the academy chose to ignore this performance should be seen as an act of treason against American cinema.

Few films have left me open mouthed in admiration at the quality on show, but shot after shot, frame after frame, this really is as gorgeous as it comes. Roger Deakins photography sublimely pleasing the eyes at every edit, be it lush rolling hills cloaked in snow, or shadowy figures appearing like ghosts from locomotive smoke, with Deakins firmly cementing his reputation as a master of his craft. The score from Nick Cave & Warren Ellis perfectly captures the ambiance and texture of the piece, with Cave himself bagging a cameo performance as a bar room busker. It's incredible to think that this is only director Andrew Dominik's second feature film, following on from the hugely enjoyable Chopper in 2000, it is now evident that New Zealand can lay claim to producing a talent that if all goes to plan, will go on to become a director to rank up with the best of them.

As it is, and just right now, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford should be filed along side Vertigo as a member of that club that only admits the greatest American films of all time, and that be even if it was directed by a Kiwi, wink wink America.

Masterpiece. 10/10

Batteries Not Included [DVD]
Batteries Not Included [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hume Cronyn
Price: £3.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very tidy little family piece., 6 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Batteries Not Included [DVD] (DVD)
Residents of a building under threat of demolition from developers get an answer to their prayers in the form of tiny mechanical aliens.

Firmly embedded in the trench that houses a number of 80s fantastical alienish pictures, *batteries not included is a bit worn around the edges yet still keeps its head above average waters thanks to its unbreakable charm. There is something so joyous about watching bullies {here in the form of vile developers and their hoodlum enforcers} getting a dose of their own medicine, and although the outcome here is never in doubt, it's still an amiable enough ride that manages to lift the spirit and close the picture out with a big cheesy grin. Boasting the solid Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in the leads, we are in very safe hands, and it may well say Matthew Robbins name on the directors chair, we are in no doubt that producer Stephen Spielberg has his stamp all over this one.

Safe family viewing, 6/10

My Learned Friend [DVD]
My Learned Friend [DVD]
Dvd ~ Will Hay
Price: £15.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wonderful Will Hay signs off with black comedy classic., 6 Sep 2014
This review is from: My Learned Friend [DVD] (DVD)
A mad murderer is on the loose and vowing to kill off all those who done him wrong. Seventh on the list is failed lawyer William Fitch, can Fitch and his equally inefficient cohort Claude Babbington stop the madman before Fitch meets his end?

This was sadly to be Will Hay's last film before retiring due to ill health that would claim his life in 1949, with a CV boasting only 19 acting credits, it's not a wonder that the fabulous Will Hay is still not a big enough name to befit his considerable comedic acting talent. Of the 19 acting credits to is name, My Learned Friend easily slots into a top five best list, fusing mad cap comedy with delicious dots of dry black humour, it's a brisk and delightful way to spend 74 minutes. Tagging along with Hay is Claude Hulbert as Babbington, full of vigour he is the perfect foil to Hay's brand of delivery, whilst Mervyn Johns has a devilishly good time as the mad vendetta driven Grimshaw. There is no pious propaganda here, no ulterior motives hidden within the structure, it's a simplistic tale given total comedic treatment from a much undervalued British treasure. 9/10

Fatal Attraction [DVD]
Fatal Attraction [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Douglas
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: £14.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I wont be ignored Dan!, 6 Sep 2014
This review is from: Fatal Attraction [DVD] (DVD)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Seemingly happily married man, Dan Gallagher, gives in to the seductive charm of Alex Forrest and partakes in a night of wild sexual passion with her. Trouble is, is that Alex is a tad unhinged and a woman scorned can be the ultimate nightmare.

I have just revisited this monster smash hit from the 80s (highest grossing film of 1987), and it still packs the same punch as it did back in the late 80s when it not only became a big hit, it also became a cultural phenomenon and one of the most talked about films of the decade. I'm saddened by the relatively average rating here because its significance and bravery should always be highlighted instead of pointless allegations about it being only of its time. Just how many imitations did Fatal Attraction spawn I wonder? Fatal Attraction was a monster hit because it gave the audience something different, a monster flip flop of having the man stalked by an uncontrollable female loony. Much credit goes to screenwriter James Dearden for laying it on like a slowly tightening spring waiting to explode, for as the plot unfolds and Alex Forrest's Madame Butterfly fuelled revenge gathers apace, the audience starts to realise it has been doubly conflicted on the emotional character attachment front.

Dan has done the dirty on his beautiful wife and child, the bastard deserves what is coming to him for sure? Alex is right in that he's had his fun and now she can basically go and whistle at the moon, but the cheeky saver here from the makers is that Alex did the chasing knowing that Dan was happily married, she led the way fully armed with the facts. This makes for a wonderfully constructed thriller that ups the suspense quota to positively seal the deal with a heart stopping finale. I'm mightily relieved that American test audiences gave the thumbs down to the rather downbeat original ending that saw Alex committing suicide and thus framing Dan for her murder, the ending that stands may lose impact on repeat viewings, but boy it has still got a kick to it.

Glenn Close is fantastic as Alex, playing against type she manages to convince as a disturbed individual, a perfect blend of sadness and soul destroying stupidness. Michael Douglas is also giving a performance of depth, firmly in the shadow of Glen Close's film stealing show, he none the less plays it perfectly and is believable in all aspects of the character, and I'm sure the ladies watching were pleased to see no sign of the saggy bottom that scared them in Basic Instinct five years later! This film coupled with Wall Street in the same year would propel Douglas to major A list status, and he rightly deserved it in my opinion. Anne Archer is Beth Gallagher, the hurt wife of the piece, she looks stunning and sexy, but thoughts of her looks are quickly erased with a special two layered performance of note. Containing a great script and directed astutely by Adrian Lyne, Fatal Attraction remains one of the best thrillers of the 80s, it was talked about profusely back then, and here and now it should not be forgotten. 9/10

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