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Dead on Cue (A Nick Lawrence Mystery)
Dead on Cue (A Nick Lawrence Mystery)
by Deryn Lake
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What fun!, 31 Dec. 2012
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Deryn Lake, until now better known for historicals, offers another contemporary mystery with this second Nick Lawrence outing. It's got lots of comic touches and romance, reminding me of vintage Midsomer Murder, with a wide cast of characters all involved in an amateur dramatic society at a castle where something goes terribly wrong. Lovely escapism from start to finish. I'm ready for the next one!


The Devil's Whore [DVD] [2008]
The Devil's Whore [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Andrea Riseborough
Price: £9.50

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, Poignant, Profound, 25 Dec. 2012
An amazingly compact narrative packs a remarkable amount of emotion and philosophical musing into a sweeping narrative; this is television that delivers all the satisfactions of the old-fashioned novel.

With a title like "The Devil's Whore" we are prepared for a rip-roaring bodice-ripper...and while bodices are indeed ripped...nay, shredded!...there is oh so much more going on here. Love long-denied over decades of tumultuous civil war, labyrinthine tests of loyalty, vengeance played out over decades, and various other devices create a nonstop narrative drive; try coming to the end of one episode without wanting to watch the next one at once. But at the very heart of this story is an inquiry into the deepest questions of existence: who are we amid our fellow humans, what force or forces rule the universe, and what does freedom really mean? A restless intelligence moves through this story, suffusing it with heartbreaking insight.

Kudos to the whole cast, to a counter-intuitive musical track, and to the splendid visual sense that informs the whole production.


Janosik [DVD] (2009)
Janosik [DVD] (2009)
Dvd ~ Václav Jirácek
Price: £4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical and lush, with beautiful landscapes, 23 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Janosik [DVD] (2009) (DVD)
Juro Janosik was a real-life bandit in Central Europe in the early 1700s, whose short and tragic career subsequently passed into legend; do a Google search and you will find all sort of cultural artifacts about Janosik, such as comic books and TV shows. Thus he is sometimes compared to Robin Hood.

The makers of this film decided to do a realistic approach to the story, but still offer a few fabulous elements in the form of dream sequences. The result does not romanticize Janosik, but the sheer beauty of the landscapes, the recurrent eroticism, and the haunting music serve to create a lush and lyrical atmosphere, at least until the very grim ending.

Presumably authentic ethnographic details (costumes, weddings, funerals and other rituals, as well as the widespread belief in magical spells) give the story an exotic atmosphere. The phenomenon of banditry under a repressive regime, eliciting the sympathy of the populace and the cruel retribution of those in power, is intelligently portrayed.

The storytelling seems overly elliptical at times; characters appear and vanish without the viewer quite knowing who they are. (But nor does Janosik, who literally cannot name all of his fellow brigands when questioned by the authorities.) I have noticed that this is often the result when a Euro TV series is cut down to feature film length, but I don't know if that's the case here.

While JANOSIK will not be to all tastes, this is by no means one of those horrible Euro historical movies we have encountered in recent years, which are so ineptly made they should never have been released; this is a serious film made by a very talented director (Agnieszka Holland, here working with her daughter, Kasia Adamik).

A word about this particular DVD edition (Goodfellas, Region 2, ASIN: B00744BICE): The packaging is a bit misleading, because all the images show Michael Zebrowski, who does NOT play Janosik, but only a supporting role. That's probably just due to the DVD company's incompetence, but you would think they would at least know who the actual star of the movie is. Also, there are no extras, and this film could have used some, to explain the setting (the spectacular Tatra Mountains) and the cultural history of Janosik for viewers who do not know it. But the actual quality of the DVD is fine.


Gormenghast [DVD] [2000]
Gormenghast [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Price: £4.90

8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Travesty with no redeeming qualities, 4 Oct. 2011
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This review is from: Gormenghast [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
I read Mervyn Peake's novels as a boy, and just reread them this summer (the centenary year of the author's birth). They're truly unique, and at its best Peake's writing is close to miraculous, able to capture sensations and states of mind I would never have imagined another human being had experienced, much less found ways to set down in words.

So yes, I'm a fan of the books.

And while I didn't expect a great deal from this TV version, I was surprised at just how awful it is. If the filmmakers had deliberately set out to create a total travesty, they could hardly have done a more thorough job. Production design, dialogue, acting, casting, costumes--everything is a horrible mishmash. This is like a cruel parody of Mervyn Peake's vision.

At the heart of the books is Steerpike, whose villainous plots drive the story; and at the heart of this misbegotten movie is a truly terrible performance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. He's badly miscast as Steerpike to start, and even for the watered-down, prettied-up Steerpike given us by this movie, his meager talents are far too inadequate. He seems to think he's playing a naughty Peter Pan, not one of the most complex and compelling villains since Macbeth.

Nothing in this movie captures the mesmerizing language, byzantine plotting, grotesque characters, or haunting Gothic atmosphere of the Gormenghast books. Even the look and lay-out of the castle, so unforgettably described by Peake, is missing, and instead we see some second-rate designer's colorful world of whimsy. Gormenghast has been recycled as a generic children's fantasy flick, and that's a shame.


Brides of Dracula/ Evil of Frankenstein [DVD]
Brides of Dracula/ Evil of Frankenstein [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Cushing

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish DVDs, 26 Mar. 2011
The 1-star rating is not for the movies, but for the DVDs (from Slam Dunk Media, ASIN: B000W2FIEY). It's incredible, in 2012, that anyone is still selling these cropped versions of movies (the sides are cut off, so that a great deal of image is lost). It would be nice if format information was included here, to warn customers! The price may look tempting, but unless you like butchered versions of beloved films, this DVD set is suitable only for the rubbish bin. Avoid!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2011 8:14 AM BST


Brides Of Dracula [1960] [DVD]
Brides Of Dracula [1960] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Martita Hunt
Offered by g515tfl
Price: £21.09

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish DVD, 16 Feb. 2011
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The 1-star review is for the DVD (Slam Dunk Media, ASIN: B000W22234), not the movie, because this is a cropped version, with the sides of the image missing. I'm glad I didn't pay much, but it's a waste at any price, suitable only for the rubbish bin, because I love this movie too much to watch a butchered version. Avoid!


The Evil Of Frankenstein [1964] [DVD]
The Evil Of Frankenstein [1964] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Woodthorpe
Offered by FREETIME
Price: £19.99

11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars rubbish DVD, 16 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The 1-star rating is not for the movie, but for the DVD (from Slam Dunk Media, ASIN: B000W2223O). Incredible, that in 2011, anyone is still selling these cropped versions of movies (the sides are cut off, so that a great deal of image is lost). I'm glad I didn't pay much, but it's a waste at any price, suitable only for the rubbish bin, because I love this movie too much to watch a butchered version. Avoid!
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 27, 2014 3:23 PM BST


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