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Awakenings [DVD] [1991]
Awakenings [DVD] [1991]
Dvd ~ Robert De Niro
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £3.05

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Underrated Gem, 18 May 2009
This review is from: Awakenings [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
I'll lay my cards on the table from the off here; I love this film. Not in the same way I love Goodfellas, the Godfather Pts I and II, Taxi Driver, Dumb and Dumber, Get Carter (original) - films I can watch time and time again - but instead it is an unassuming, low-key movie that I always enjoy when I do watch it. As ever, De Niro is fantastic, demonstrating yet again how superbly he can get under his characters' skins. And, as a rarity and a novelty, Williams is superb too, staying just the right side of sentimentality and not straying into stomach-churning Patch Adams excesses. This is a touching, hopeful, sad and melancholy film, excellently paced and with just the right levels of light and shade from its central and supporting cast. For a change, Willims is neither brashly unfunny nor overly dewy-eyed, delivering instead a performance of restraint and sensitivity. Top marks to all concerned, and a superb, underrated gem of a movie.


Good Morning, Vietnam [DVD] [1988]
Good Morning, Vietnam [DVD] [1988]
Dvd ~ Robin Williams
Price: £3.00

1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Williams, funny?, 18 May 2009
I long ago came to the conclusion that there is a conspiracy afoot with regards to Robin Williams. This film, I believe, was meant to be a showcase for his amazing comic talents, and if talking extremely quickly in a scattergun manner is funny, then Williams is a genius. So, what's all this about a conspiracy? Well, I've heard many a time how hillarious Robin Williams is, and yet through stand-up, Mork and Mindy and in anything he attempts to be humorous in, I'm left entirely cold. I thought he was excellent in Awakenings and Good Will Hunting (not much need for funnies there), but mostly he has churned out tedious also-rans like Goodmorning Vietnam, and for the best part of twenty years his main staple has been wet-cheeked mawkish sentimentality (Patch Adams etc etc etc). Godnight Vienna (or Vietnam).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 26, 2014 3:55 PM BST


There's Something About Mary [1998] [DVD]
There's Something About Mary [1998] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ben Stiller
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £2.64

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Bag, 18 May 2009
There are undoubtedly some laugh out loud funny moments in TSAM and, without giving too much away, my favourites are "Dog Passifying", "Dog Ressurection" "Hitch-hiker", and Matt Dillon's "Mongo" scene in which he is hillariously un-PC. So, basically, for me, Matt Dillon walked away with the film whilst the usually impressive Ben Stiller got the leftovers. However, I found much that was flabby and ill-conceived in the movie, namely Lin Shaye's ridiculous orange best friend of Cameron Diaz's Mary, and are we really meant to believe that the airheaded Mary is an orthopedic surgeon? Also, whilst Lee Evans as Tucker is good, as Norm he is out of his depth; his American accent just doesn't stand up. Then there is the matter of the wandering minstrel (Jonathan Richman). Whichever of the writers thought he was a good idea wants his bumps feeling as he completely takes the viewer out of the film and there is a mawkishness to his appearances which is at odds with the rest of the script. Also, the final twenty or so minutes are a mess. For great set pieces, however, TSAM has some of the best, but for continuity and character development/motivation it falls some way short.


Boy's Life
Boy's Life
by Robert R. McCammon
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves, 31 July 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Boy's Life (Paperback)
The first 250-300 pages of Boy's Life are simply wonderful, with McCammon creating a lovingly described town (Zephyr) inhabitted by "real" characters. I was certain halfway through the novel that I'd be awarding it my first 5-star review. The life of an eleven-year old and his family, friends and acquaintences, plus the described joy of living in a beautiful and slightly dark small town are described with wit and humour rarely seen in the horror genre.

But then things began to go awry, with events that were at first easily overlooked despite their failings because the rest of the novel had been so rivetting. However, these circumstances then contrived by their frequency to rob the book of its earlier joy, and I got the impression that McCammon couldn't wait to finish it. While the first half of the book had been written with great care, I felt that much of the remainder was comparatively weak and knocked off in order to reach a deadline. Perhaps McCammon just lost interest and wanted to get on with a new idea? Who knows.

I give it 4 stars because of those first 250-odd pages (5-star mateial), but am disappointed that while it's a superior horror novel, it doesn't ultimately rise beyond that genre and become something more profound, as it had been on course to do. Like Vernon Thaxter's book, a great character-study of small-town America has been tainted by some pretty poorly tacked-on fantasy.


The Fog
The Fog
by James Herbert
Edition: Paperback

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Simply awful, 15 July 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Fog (Paperback)
I first read The Fog a couple of years after it first appeared in the 'seventies, and even then I was unimpressed by its shallow characters and feeble plot progression. At least that time I managed to finish it. This time around, I got as far as the preposterous dialogue on pages 116-118 (Hodder & Stoughton, paperback, 1988) and gave up. The main "character" (who has absolutely none), John Holman, is your archetypal, all-action, Bond-wannabe, rough and ready... um, Environmental Officer. This figure recurs again and again in Herbert's novels, and strikes me as being the two-dimentional version of the kind of swashbuckling hero Herbert himself wishes he were.

The book is written in the style of a what would today be considered a parody of the horror genre. None of the characters are remotely interesting, and have the most simplistic of names - Dawkins, Brown, Hodges, Jenkins, Summers, Mac (he's Scottish, you know), Peabody... It's like Camberwick Green or Trumpton in this book! When even the characters names are obviously thought of on the go, what chance do we have of a well crafted, rounded narrative?

So, yes, I gave it the heave-ho less than half way through, but even though I'm just reading light stuff for the summer, there is "light" and there is "awful". The Fog falls into the latter category.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2010 12:27 AM GMT


Desperation [DVD]
Desperation [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ron Perlman
Offered by Films and Figures (Free Recorded Delivery On All Orders)
Price: £19.95

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise, 15 July 2008
This review is from: Desperation [DVD] (DVD)
Having recently read and quite enjoyed King's novels Desperation and Dreamacatcher, I thought I would check out the films of the books. While Dreamcatcher was a big budget (almost $70 million) mess, with unbelievably misjudged casting and abysmally wooden acting, this TV movie gets most things right. Tom Skerritt and, especially Ron Perlman, put in good performances which gel together a solid cast.

The movie is a sensible, well written and streamlined adaptation of King's novel, and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying it. While it is no Misery, Shawshank or Green Mile, it is still entertaining in a way that the disasterous Dreamcatcher could only dream of.

Having said all that, it's still a country mile from being a genuinely good film. I give it three stars because it does many things I was pleased about such as failing to make my toes curl, not boring me or irritating me, nor making me switch off before it had finished. The whole religious vibe was a bit preachy in a "good old God" Little House On The Prairie manner, but I can forgive that.

Concluding, I'd say that fans of the book would probably enjoy the film, and those who haven't read it will have a pretty jolly couple of hours, too.

Now if only I could erase Dreamcatcher (the film) from my memory...


BETHANY'S SIN
BETHANY'S SIN
by Mccammon
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice to read again, 24 Jun. 2008
This review is from: BETHANY'S SIN (Paperback)
I first read this book 18 years ago and had fond memories of it. Indeed, I still have a soft spot for McCammon's early novel today, and I really wanted to give it four stars, but really that would be doing far better books a disservice. The first two-thirds to three-quarters of Bethany's Sin are enjoyable - a slow burner with an eye for detail and no rush by the author to hurry the story along. Not yet, anyway.

Evan Reid, his wife Kay, and their young daughter Laurie move to the titular village of Bethany's Sin. Hardly have they set foot in the door, however, than Evan begins to have nightmares which he deems portentious. His rather annoying wife is rather unsympathetic in that everytime he has one of these "visions" she refduses to listen and insists that Evan's delusions are giving her headaches. Right, thanks for that! And so the story progresses and we learn about the power of the village women over the menfolk, and the best character, the drifter Neely Ames, is introduced. In my opinion, Neely is a far more likeable charecter than Evan, and it might have been a better novel had the book been centred on him instead. There are several rather irritating devices that McCammon uses which would have been better left out, such as the thrice-repeated words which end many a sentence. Also, the main protagonist, Evan, is an idiot! Towards the end of the novel he has ample time and opportunity to act on his very strong suspicions, and yet he would rather do precisely the opposite and endanger his wife by putting her directly in the hands of the people he is terrified of: this is a terrible way in which to create tension, and the ending of the book absolutely beggars belief, with fires a-raging and all Hell let loose as if Evan had suddenly become the star of Die Hard.

So, sadly only three stars, but having said that, had it not been for my soft spot for the book, I may well have given it only two.


Desperation
Desperation
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Best days are gone..., 17 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Desperation (Paperback)
Two-hundred pages less, and some tightening of plot, and this might have been one of King's better works. However, this is the work of a man who, after a promising start, has no idea where the story is eventually heading, and how his protagonists are going to get out of the scrape they are in. And so appears one of the most contrived deus ex machinas I have ever read - the boy who has a direct line to good old Gahd himself. If I didn't know better, I'd be suspicious I was reading something from an evangelical re-born Christian. But not a bit of it... King has simply run out of ideas and is unwilling to revise what he has already written. If you can overlook such a terrible way in which to resolve problems in a story, give the novel and extra star.

And so to King's writing itself. Everything I like and am irritated by him is here. On the good side, there is his always readable tale-spinning and his flair for drawing the reader in. King's characters are for the main part likeable, and events for the first two-thirds of the book generally kept me entertained and engrossed. But then there is the bad. Stephen, if you are going to have your characters laugh hysterically, then please have them laugh at something funny. While King can turn a witty phrase or two, he is NOT a witty writer of dialogue, and what his characters (in practically every book he has written) find outrageously funny, I doubt anyone else would. And as for the previously-mentioned deus ex machina of David (a boy of eleven who has the vocabulary of an adult, by the way), it is so ham-fisted and cringeworthy, I was tempted to leave the book unfinished. Also, there are other King hallmarks such as his own taste in music being that of his main characters (IE, obscure sixties bands, in this case extensive references to the Young Rascals' Good Lovin'). Write what you know is one thing, having an endless parade of main charcters who are basically Stephen King alter egos is another.

So, not a disaster of a novel, and anyone who can overlook King's obsessions and foibles, and a terrible case of extreme convenience altering the course of the novel, then here's another Stephen King page-turner you will probably enjoy. Just don't expect it to be 'It', 'The Shining', Christine', etc. This is very, very much 'Rose Madder' territory.


Beyond Evil
Beyond Evil
by Nathan Yates
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much POV, not enough insight, 22 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Beyond Evil (Hardcover)
As others have said, the book is flawed and betrays the tabloid journalist who wrote it. Although it is written in a readable manner, there are far too many suppositions, and all Yates' information is lifted directly from media reports. He also displays crass point-of-view petty criticisms, such as criticising Maxine Carr for not being beautiful (shallow) whilst declaring one of the less attractive parents as being "even-featured" (hypocritical). This double standard is seen throughout the book - typical tabloid journalism.

And yes, the "lemon flavoured disinfectant" is laughable.


Dangerous Lady
Dangerous Lady
by Martina Cole
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Change the record, Martina, 7 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Dangerous Lady (Paperback)
This is the fourth Martina Cole novel I've read, and it's becoming a major chore. Having already read three of her books, the formulaic nature of them and the repetativeness is becoming more and more annoying. In fact, I doubt I shall bother to finish this one. As usual the book is packed with anachronisms and lazy research. The characters are the same in every book - the female lead who is stunning but doesn't know it; the male lead who is over six feet tall even at times in history when the average male height in tis country was about 5 foot 7; they have dazzling white, perfect teeth; as usual, there is the hard-working and wise Irish mother; yet again, we have the "hardest man in London" as the main male character... and so the list goes on. Okay, so this was Cole's's first novel, but why have all the others been exactly the same? Enough is enough - reading the same book over and over is a waste of my time, especially when there are far better on my shelves.


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