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

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A Hard Day's Night: 50th Anniversary Restoration [Blu-ray]
A Hard Day's Night: 50th Anniversary Restoration [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ John Lennon
Price: £14.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Not sleeping like a log., 28 Sep 2014
There once was four lads who met each other, picked up musical instruments and created a phenomenon to the point that their influence is still being felt in the music industry today. This film is a day in the life of The Beatles, The Fab Four, The Mop Tops from Liverpool.

The soundtrack itself is enough to ensure that Richard Lester's film is something of a requisite for anyone interested in the history of Rock "N" Roll. As it happens, it lets the lads be loose and free, to get away with biting the hand that feeds them, with Lester using a whole bunch of film making techniques that wouldn't be out of place in some Pernod sodden production from an independent studio in the alleyways of Montmartre.

Slapstick, homage or just a chance for the lads to blow off steam without fear of repercussions? Either way, it rocks, wholesale. 8/10

Snowtown [Blu-ray]
Snowtown [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Daniel Henshall
Offered by hunting_for_a_bargain
Price: £18.98

5.0 out of 5 stars The Boddies in the Barrels Murders., 28 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Snowtown [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The press junket and first wave of critical notices built Snowtown up as a throat ripper that will cause you nightmares. That didn't do it any favours as per expectation levels for the horror enthusiast. However, this is a superb piece of film making, a real gritty and grainy deconstruction of the human condition gone sour. As with all films of this type that are based on real life incidents, it pays to read up on the facts if you be so inclined.

Debut director Justin Kurzel doesn't shirk from the horrors of the case, but skillfully he doesn't bang everyone over the head with shock tactics to grab the attention. It's a relentlessly bleak picture, there's a continuous build of impending dread, of human devastation wrung out by a master manipulator (Daniel Henshall as John Bunting superb), the depressing story told through the eyes of the simple and confused Jamie Vlassakis (Lucas Pittaway).

Not to be watched if one is looking to be cheered up! But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be sought out as essential cinema. It's a strong and potent film, worthy of inspection by adults who understand that not all film is about entertainment. 8.5/10

Tremors 3 - Back To Perfection [DVD]
Tremors 3 - Back To Perfection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Gross
Price: £4.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ass Blasters R Us!, 23 Sep 2014
The third movie in the Tremors series of films is adequate entertainment for the fans. Michael Gross returns as Burt, who in turn returns to Perfection to find it a tourist haven of Graboid fans. Into the mix is a nefarious real estate deal that threatens the very existence of the townsfolk. But of course, the Graboids and their mutated offspring don't care about such things.

If not expecting too much then this serves up some good straight to video fun. The formula remains the same, with Burt the paranoid saviour of perfection getting some good lines, while the return of characters from the first film is a splendid bonus for the fans. There's some snarky asides to the perils/cheats of tourist traps, and the real estate rape of the land angle is driven home without over kill. Safe if undemanding creature feature fare. 6/10

Extreme Prejudice [DVD]
Extreme Prejudice [DVD]
Dvd ~ Nick Nolte
Price: £9.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Zombie Unit., 23 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Extreme Prejudice [DVD] (DVD)
Extreme Prejudice is directed by Walter Hill and collectively written by John Milius, Fred Rexer, Deric Washburn and Harry Kleiner. It stars Nick Nolte, Powers Boothe, Maria Conchita Alonso, Michael Ironside, Rip Torn, Clancy Brown, William Forsythe and Matt Mulhern. Music is by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Matthew F. Leonetti.

Well it’s a good day for a killing.

Walter Hill homages and parodies the splinter of action cinema that encompasses the grizzled law enforcer tracking the bad guy, who in this case, was once a friend. That’s the basic set up for Hill’s brooding and bloody Extreme Prejudice. Action takes place down on the US/Mexico border, Ranger Jack Benteen (Nolte) is hunting his one time pal - and the man he shares his woman’s love with – Cash Bailey (Boothe), who has taken up drug smuggling as his employment of choice. Complicating matters is that there is a gang of ex-forces specialists in the town ready to raid the bank for some funds and documents to nail Bailey. Loyalties are tested, twists, turns and bloody shocks do follow.

Much of the film’s strength is gained from the casting, it’s a roll call of macho performers who combined make up a CV with enough beef to feed the third world. Even Alonso as the sole female of note fits the requisite toughness exam (she would do The Running Man this same year and go on to star in Predator 2). Much of the narrative involves brooding and tough talk, a slow burn approach from Hill who adds some meat to the bones of the main characters. Photography is pleasing, with actual locations shimmering on the screen, and Goldsmith’s score is a pulser that is a fore runner to his score for Total Recall 3 years later.

At times it’s offbeat, at others it’s gripping in its sweaty intensity, and then there is the balletic violence which Hill has proven himself to be an astute purveyor of, crowned here by his homage to Peckinpah’s glorious finale in The Wild Bunch.

Lean and tough with bodies and butchness everywhere. 7.5/10

Sin City [DVD] [2005]
Sin City [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Bruce Willis
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £6.19

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
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: £4.70

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: £8.03

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: £2.96

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 Lifes Essentials
Price: £4.51

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

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