Profile for Mr. J. Russell > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mr. J. Russell
Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,808,460
Helpful Votes: 40

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mr. J. Russell (The North, UK)

Page: 1
Napoleon Dynamite [DVD]
Napoleon Dynamite [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Heder
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 2.99

4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmm... not convinced, 30 July 2007
This review is from: Napoleon Dynamite [DVD] (DVD)
I'm gonna keep this short and sweet because I don't like spending a lot of time thinking about things I don't like.

Put simply, regardless of what people may say about this movie, about the slow tone actually being dryness, about the humour of the characters, whatever you can say about the pretty basic story, there is one simple point that I cannot get past in this movie... the characters are painfully unoriginal.

You have the self-inflicted geek who furthers his loneliness by purposefully pushing everyone away, the effeminate brother, the sleazy uncle and the caricature of a mexican with a funny accent. All kinda falling into stereotypes aren't they? The only character I found even remotely new and fresh was the love interest Deb, who at least defied hollywood conventions by being a realistic interpretation of an awkward high school girl.

I'd heard so much about this film before I saw it and yet the fact that i'd seen these characters before made me turn it off after about 20 minutes. Feeling guilty and wondering if maybe I'd judged it unfairly I went back a few months later but the same flaws struck me again. People have been labelling this film as underground and art house but in all honesty I found it a little obvious. Awkwardness isn't comedy, it's just an easy way of writing conflict. In addition, compare the silly hair and thick glasses of Napolean to the transparent creation of Andy Millman in the second series of Ricky Gervais's excellent Extras... it's frightening.

I wouldn't say this is boring, just uninventive.

If you want an insightful and original portrayal of an awkward high school student, try watching Wes Anderson's inspired film Rushmore. It has humour and funny characters but also reaches some unexpected (and in some ways shockingly dark) depths.

The IT Crowd - Series 1 [DVD] [2006]
The IT Crowd - Series 1 [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Richard Ayoade
Offered by themediamerchants
Price: 4.37

23 of 108 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A crying shame, 15 July 2007
I've been aware of this comedy for a pretty long time but I have been decidedly wary of watching it despite my love of the acting of both Richard Aoyade and Chris Morris. Everyone I spoke to about this sitcom had severe issues with it and so I wasn't too eager to spend three hours watching it. However, I reached one of those boring Sunday evenings and decided maybe I should give it a shot.

This is one of those shows when your heart sinks about five minutes from the end of the first episode. You realise there is very little coming to save it. Despite the occasional good piece of acting, especially from Aoyade and Morris, this is a severely disappointing sitcom. Its content is broad, its jokes derivative and worse than this the situation at the heart of the comedy has nothing to do with any of the humour. I mean, an entire episode of an IT sitcom dedicated to PMT jokes? Have we British not grown past this sort of empty, repetitive 'gag'?

The story of each episode doesn't sit well. Although there are spatterings of good ideas in the series, a lot of them are underminded by tacky and rather boring turns. Noel Fielding is an excellent actor, shown in the series' The Mighty Boosh, Nathan Barley and the short Sweet, but this comedy shows what poor writing can do to a good actor. Humour based around goths and Cradle of Filth is a little bit dull and uninsightful for me and to have an entire episode turning around a 'weird' metal fan is downright poor. We all remember non-conformists from when we were kids, and no it's not got any funnier since then.

To cut a long story short, this show is pretty weak. I like the actors but I'd wait to see them in better roles than this. There are great british sitcoms, original and exciting, for example shows like Monty Python's Flying Circus and more recently Spaced but there is also far too much filler material like this. It's worrying but our comedy is rapidly becoming the sort of watered down rubbish that American mainstream TV has been solidly producing since Friends. As a writer, I was soundly disappointed to see this show was BAFTA nominated and had to wonder whether awards have less to do with the strength of a show and more the names attached to them.

Don't waste your time.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2011 3:50 PM BST

by Kurt Vonnegut
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Timequake None, 26 Jun 2007
This review is from: Timequake (Paperback)
When I first heard about this book, I have to say I was excited. I knew vaguely of Vonnegut as does everyone involved in literature and yet I'd read very little so when I finally came to stopping off at a bookshop this novel was definitely on my list.

This was in many ways a very good novel and I don't want to start by rubbishing its bad points so instead I'd like to say that it is very well executed, written in nice poignant prose, has some very important things to say on the nature of discovery and mankind and gives you a good insight into a man who has had an impressive body of work over the years. By the end of the book I couldn't help liking the old coot, his switching between playful silliness and frank talk of serious issues convincing me that this was a man I would have liked had I met him soon enough. The details of Vonnegut's life do give depth to a novel essentially devoid of any protagonists or real characters even.

Despite all of this I can't help feeling a little cheated by this novel. As an excercise in post-modernism and cultural discussion, it's delightful. However this isn't the book I bought, isn't even close to what the blurb describes. Perhaps if it was better labelled I may have come out of the other end feeling less disappointed.

Fundamentally, Timequake is such as solid concept for a novel and automatically suggests so many ideas for a good realist narrative that what we have here really feels like a shadow of something bigger. Although Vonnegut tells us that he wasn't happy with Timequake One and that this is his redraft, there is very little evidence of the original story in the finished work. The Timequake itself is almost entirely brushed over, being covered almost solely in a 30 page section about how Kilgore Trout behaves after free will resumes. Given the fact that the novel is constantly struggling with the ideas of the modern age and destiny vs. free will, couldn't we have just a little more colour in these sections?

I was expecting from all I'd heard about this novel that I'd get a post-modern sci-fi novel placed firmly in a realist narrative and yet I got nothing of the sort. The fictional characters of the text were far less rounded than those that were real, an example being Vonnegut's alter-ego Trout, who seemed to be a rough stab toward an eccentric that doesn't really deserve the limelight in such a story. His fictional novels were all good concepts but Kilgore himself expresses no more personality than any of the novel's other fictional characters. On the whole, the 'story' was a little too easy.

As I have already said, Vonnegut's voice is insightful and intelligent and yet I feel somewhere a trick was missed in this novel. I'd have preferred to read it as two seperate pieces, one composed of the small and random 'real life' stories that Vonnegut tells and the other a narrative based piece of postmodernism that sticks to its guns. In addition, I wonder if Trout really needed one last outing.

For such a beautifully modern idea, arriving in a time when so much of our lives are relived material, this novel falls a little short. It's a good read and worth a look if you want to see how to break the rules and do it well but it wasn't the book I had wanted. Maybe a little more timequake'd do it good.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2013 10:49 AM BST

UNKLESounds: Edit Music for a Film - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Reconstruction
UNKLESounds: Edit Music for a Film - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Reconstruction
Price: 14.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars unklesounds good (once again), 12 May 2005
I bought this album whilst travelling around europe simply because I'm a big U.N.K.L.E fan and therefore the unklesounds releases thrill me.
One of the biggest critiscisms I've heard of the releases of James Lavelle is his habit of replaying his own material to death, something which he has neatly avoided on this album. Although he does use tracks like 'Have You Passed Through This Night', once again, he has also given it a far fresher sound with tracks like the GDMFSOB mix of the Kill Bill theme and Get Ready by Rare Earth with samples from David Lynch's Dune over the top, (genius!).
When I got to the end of the second disc, I nearly broke down in tears as I'd had one of those weeks and hearing the In A State/Moby mix washed all my fears away, especially when it is followed by, in my opinion, the only good track Elton John ever released.
My one critiscism of this album is the annoying habit of replacing every name on the album with the word Unkle as it lessens the impact of some of the great film samples that they have chosen to use. However, this is a minor thing and only bothers me very slightly.
All in all, if you love Unkle, then you will love this release. And if you love films, then you will love this release. There is little space wasted on this album, the music accompanying the samples perfectly. The only other issue I have is that was the Sex Pistols cover of My Way really in keeping with the dark and soulful mood of this album?

Before The Dawn Heals Us
Before The Dawn Heals Us

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty in Decay, 8 Feb 2005
When I saw the impending release date of this album, I knew I had to have it after having enjoyed 'Dead Cities,... etc' so thoroughly. I was hoping for more of the same sweeping, simple dance and electro-rock cross-overs that it had on it, for example the flawless 'America.'
Upon placing this into my CD player, I have to admit, I was a little shocked. The album starts with 'Moonchild,' a simple distorted piano and vocal sample track that was ever-so different to the sounds of the first. When this was followed up by the single 'Don't Save Us From the Flames,' I felt my fears were almost confirmed. It's fundamentally a pop song albeit one of the most original pop songs I've ever heard as it mixes the creativity and originality that seems common to all good french artists with the freshness of electro-rock.
But I persevered and I'm glad I did. Any of the tracks on their own may have left me dubious but as a whole this album is almost an electro-opera, ranging from the Kevin Shields style 'I guess I'm floating,' to the fantastic 'Car Chase Terror' which never fails to make all my hair stand on end. This album shares that quality that made their second album so note-worthy.
With this release, M83 show us that it is possible to combine frenetic energy with scouring emotion in the same track without ever needing to compromise their own intrinsic style.
I can already say that this is going to be up there in my top five albums of 2005. Don't leave it out of your music collection.

Page: 1