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Raven Shaddock (UK)

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Marathon Man / The Parallax View - Complete Scores - LTD3000 - Michael Small
Marathon Man / The Parallax View - Complete Scores - LTD3000 - Michael Small

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Michael Small's best, 15 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Parallax View is an excellent example of 70s conspiracy / paranoia film-making and is up there with The Conversation, All The President's Men, 3 Days of the Condor, Klute etc. It is helped immesurably by the score by Michael Small. Small's scores for Parallax View, Klute and Marathon Man perfectly capture the gritty, tense and paranoid settings of those films.

I am less a fan of Marathon Man, though it is still a very good film and the soundtrack, which is similar to Parallax View, is a worthwhile addition to the collection.

Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) [Blu-ray] [1977] [Region Free]
Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) [Blu-ray] [1977] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Mark Hamill
Price: £27.99

6 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Even when tinkered with, IV - VI still worth getting, surely?, 15 April 2011
The blu-ray video trailer at the top of this Amazon page reinforces yet again how the original Star Wars episodes are unbeatable and are so much better than episodes 1 - 3 which are some of the worst films ever made (and Jar Jar doesn't even feature in the trailer!).

Lucas got very lucky (though he was actually talented in the mid 70s) to get a crew like Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guiness, Peter Cushing etc on board. All the clips from the original Star Wars films make me warm with reminisence and keen to watch the films again. All the clips from the utterly dire recent 3 prequels make me cringe - the "acting", style, direction, CGI indeed every last thing about them is awful and a travesty and having watched each one once I would very happily never see a snippet from any of them ever again. How anyone can stand listening to Ewan McGregor is beyond me (and that goes for everything else he has done since Trainspotting - his career longevity is a mystery).

While Lucas is a pain with his incessant tinkering and I have copies of the original 3 on just about every format, I will no doubt get the Blu Ray discs too. I just hope he includes the originals. (Which he won't. No chance in hell.) The other 3 films should rot in a landfill.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2011 10:53 PM BST

The Blind Side: (Movie Tie-in Edition)
The Blind Side: (Movie Tie-in Edition)
by Michael Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.99

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An (unintended?) analysis of the evils of US meritocracy and society, 10 Mar. 2011
I am surprised at how many people have chosen to mis-categorise this story as heart-warming and uplifting when, in fact, it is the complete opposite. It is, in fact a story of unadulterated greed from almost all the principal characters. It is also (and perhaps it is unintended, though I could never be sure of Lewis' intentions), a damning indictment of what is wrong with the American Dream particularly as it impacts on African-Americans.

The Blind Side is a story that exemplifies all that is wrong for inner-city, underprivileged African-Americans: that the only routes out are through gangs/drugs or sporting excellence. Michael Oher gets lucky because he is built to play left tackle. As a result, he comes under the influence and support of the Tuohy family. Would he have been supported and tutored had he been 5 foot nothing and a physical weakling? Of course not. This is a story about how if you are underprivileged and a physical freak you get the breaks and the rest are left in the projects. In other words, it's about money and greed. Oher is destined for sporting stardom, everyone sees his potential and jumps on the bandwagon.

What is so thoroughly depressing is that by the end, even Michael Oher himself doesn't recognise the injustice of the system. He too has been brainwashed in the ideals of meritocracy or social Darwinism (i.e. that if you work hard enough anyone can be make it and if you fail, you deserve it). At the end of the book, Oher is reported as commenting that he has little contact with his mother and siblings and remarks that they are lazy, need to hear the word "No", and, most damningly, he remarks that they had the same chances he had (seriously!).

This is, of course, utter nonsense - Oher was adopted by a millionaire family, privately educated, privately tutored and groomed for college based on his physical potential alone while his siblings were left to run away from foster homes and live rough in the projects. So instead of giving a helping hand to his family and others in need, he adopts exactly the sort of mantra and mindset of the super-rich white Republican milieu he now moves in: "I made it because I worked harder than you, you choose to live in the ghetto on welfare so don't come to me for handouts".

That Oher doesn't recognise that his assent from the street to the penthouse is not a simple matter of merit and hard work and everything to with blind luck and a social/economic system that places higher value on sporting achievement is disappointing, but given the interactions reported in the book, hardly surprising.

I am also surprised that so few people found the relationship between Oher and the Tuohys slightly disturbing. Obviously Oher would not have come under their wing had he not been a prospective lineman, but there is merit in what the Tuohys do, certainly, and they must be applauded for their charity and generally caring attitude. But it's the details that make them appear so unlikeable, like telling Oher when he learns that his father has died that it's for the best as when he becomes successful his father would only have made claims on his money. The things that the Tuohys value and think Oher should know and appreciate are also puzzling: Ms Tuohy orders everything at an Italian restaurant so Oher can appreciate the difference between pesto and puttanesca. Well that will avoid embarassment at the country club I suppose. They buy him a backpack that is the preserve of little rich kids, and when Oher questions their choice, he's informed that he is himself now a little rich kid. Charming. The Tuohys come across as treating Oher like a pet or a worthy social experiment rather than a human.

What the Blind Side does reveal is the naked greed of everyone involved in Oher's rise as a left tackle and the appalling disparity of wealth and influence in the US. Like the high school and college coaches who drool over him and offer what amount to little more than bribes to get him to play for them. Or Sean Jr demanding privileges from prospective college coaches and then questioning why his sister and Oher aren't written out of his parent's will as they are/will be independently rich.

The disparity between rich and poor is shocking. On one side of Memphis there are the ghettos, on the other families with private jets whose daughters date the billionaire owners of FedEx. For a poor black boy, the only way he can move from one to the other is a result of sporting prowess. This is not something to celebrate, it is an indictment on society, as is the fact that by the end, the poor black boy thinks this is how it should be.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2015 11:45 AM BST

The Essential John Carpenter Film Music Collection
The Essential John Carpenter Film Music Collection

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Be warned, the one star review is on the mark, 22 Feb. 2011
This sounds like John Carpenter, but isn't John Carpenter.

This CD contains a number of classic John Carpenter themes and they all sound recognisable but none are quite right. That's because they are all covers and differ slightly from the real thing. For instance, the opening light percussion in Assault on Precinct 13 and the opening to The Fog are subtly different to the real thing. But there are other differences which are more pronounced, such as the weird submarine sonar-type sound in The Fog which shouldn't be there and the irritatingly loud and overpowering tapping in the Halloween - Main Theme track.

There are far worse versions I am sure, but these tracks do not have the depth and resonance of the real thing. If you are a fan of Carpenter (and I assume you will be buying this sort of CD), I suggest you avoid it and look for official releases.

The Goonies: 25th Anniversary (Expanded Score)
The Goonies: 25th Anniversary (Expanded Score)

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest cinematic scores, 19 Feb. 2011
A key part of any great film is the instrumental score. The James Bond films would not be the same without the beautiful work of John Barry. Likewise, Steven Spielberg's films have been improved no-end by the work of John Williams. While CDs of Barry's and Williams' works are plentiful, it is disappointing that so many other great soundtracks are either un-released or very hard to source. Some of the great scores by Jerry Goldsmith are limited editions and cost a fortune on eBay, for instance.

And so it is with Dave Grusin's fantastic score for the classic film The Goonies. The instrumental music is a perfect accompaniment to the film, yet the Japanese import CD soundtrack contains only one Grusin number. Thankfully, the Grusin score was released in limited numbers and is absolutely worth hunting down. From the opening tracks you are thrown back into the heart of the film as each tune, leitmotif and scene is so memorable. An absolutely excellent soundtrack from beginning to end and it deserves to be on much wider release. The only possible improvement would be some snippets from the film between tracks, like in the equally superb Ipcress File CD and the Escape From New York re-release.

Hunt it down, you will not be disappointed.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 17, 2014 2:47 PM GMT

Point Break (Original Score)
Point Break (Original Score)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent score, 18 Feb. 2011
Some films have brilliant instrumental music, but when you buy the soundtrack you only get a collection of songs from the film, some of which are often incidental, with none of the great instrumental score. Two good examples of this are The Goonies and Point Break, both great films with excellent instrumental scores by David Grusin and Mark Isham respectively. Both also have soundtrack CDs which are generally poor, featuring frankly dire music (other than Cyndi Lauper's Goonies R Good Enough, of course).

Thankfully the David Grusin and Isham scores have been made available, though both were limited edition releases and are very expensive to obtain now. The Isham CD is not as consistently brilliant as Grusin's, but it is worth it for the track Skydive alone. The scene where Swayze and Reeves go skydiving is one of the highlights of the film and a key reason is the background music during the scene. The rest of the CD doesn't reach this highlight, but the 4 minutes and 59 seconds of track 16 is magical and one of the greatest pieces of instrumental music ever.

The Opening theme (track 1) is also wonderful and takes me straight back to the opening credits and makes me want to get a surfboard and hit the beach straightaway. Other great moments are Night Surfing (track 7) which builds to a great crescendo at 1:10 and features the surfing leitmotif music that made the Opening and the last 1:30 of Freedom (track 22) so wonderful. Love On The Beach (track 8) is stirring and beautifully paced. A lot of the other tracks I am not so keen on, but Skydive is worth 5 stars on its own.

Above Suspicion Two - The Red Dahlia [DVD]
Above Suspicion Two - The Red Dahlia [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kelly Reilly
Offered by comedyfactory
Price: £10.86

19 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful, 28 Jan. 2011
Lynda LaPlante was responsible for one of the all-time greatest TV programmes - Prime Suspect. The first three Prime Suspects are some of the best acted, best directed, best written and most tense and involving TV ever made.

Above Suspicion Red Dahlia has to be one of the worst acted, worst directed, worst written and least tense and involving TV programmes ever made. It is a tragedy to think this was written by the same woman behind Jane Tennison.

In every way that Jane Tennison was a brilliant character and Helen Mirren a wonderful actress, Kelly Reilly's character is the polar opposite. Reilly totters around on high heels wearing a mini-skirt and acts like a dumb, awestruck teenager throughout the whole programme. She has to be one of the weakest, wettest central characters on TV. Her sole role appears to be eye-candy for the camera which spends plenty of time leering at her thighs.

It wouldn't be so bad were the story not so bland, trite, paper thin, boring and unbelieveable. A posh bigwig is accused of re-creating some murders based on the LA Black Dahlia murders. Unfortunately if you expected any sort of detection to occur, you will be sorely disappointed. Absolutely nothing happens by way of investigation or detective work. Our characters aren't sleuths who uncover clues and trap their prime suspect. Instead it is all conveniently wrapped up with plenty of deus ex machina contrivances.

Coincidently, Ciaran Hinds was a central character in Prime Suspect 3 and a very young Kelly Reilly was a central characer in Prime Suspect 4 - Inner Circles (not one of the best to be honest). Watch Prime Suspect then watch this and you will agree with me.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2012 9:42 AM GMT

Zen [DVD]
Zen [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rufus Sewell
Price: £6.45

9 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant novels, awful TV series, 28 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Zen [DVD] (DVD)
One of the worst TV detective series I have ever seen, which is all the more galling since it is based on the generally excellent Michael Dibdin novels.

The biggest problems are the wooden, disconnected acting, the awful accents (how am I meant to think this is remotely accurate when people speak in Yorkshire, Manc and Cockney accents?), the paper thin stories, the flashy but shallow editing, the flashy but shallow direction and the dreadful scripts. Everything about the show is an abomination other than the locations.

Possibly the worst "serious" TV programme for years. Stick to the books - particularly the early years, which are excellent detective stories.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2014 2:43 PM BST

Back to the Future Trilogy Limited Edition Collector's Tin [Blu-ray]
Back to the Future Trilogy Limited Edition Collector's Tin [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Michael J. Fox

20 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 5 star films, 1 star Limited Collector's Edition, 29 Oct. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is not a review of the BTTF films as everyone knows they are classics and the good news is that the Blu Ray versions are crisp, sharp and colourful - a considerable improvement over the DVDs and worth buying.

This is a review of the shoddy "Limited" Collector's Edition tin. Put simply and to be honest, it is not worth spending the extra on it.

Steelbook tins are usually slim and fairly robust, this is a large tin box made from the thinnest possible metal which will dent and bend under the slightest pressure. Obviously it is larger to accommodate the extras - but I would have preferred a standard steelbook, because the flimsy quality tin is nothing compared to the junk inside. The lenticular photo whereby family members disappear is okay - though not as smart as the version inside the Blade Runner box set - that is something you can put on display, this is not. The rest of the material is low quality, cheap and forgettable. As another person said - you'd be forgiven for thinking you have bought a knock-off from a market it's so low grade. The photo of Doc and Marty next to a large clock is truly ghastly - a low-res blow-up with green blotches and tons of digital noise and jpeg artifacts. If you printed this at home you would throw it away as disgusting, yet it is included in this "collector's" edition? The newspapers, almanac and production design cards are cheap and pointless and should be pulped - they really are awful. The production design cards are linked together and are cheaply produced - some glossy reproductions cards would have been better. The blue print is marginally better. And the posters are pointless too - who wants posters that have rigid folds across them? If I want a poster I will buy a pristine print that is rolled not folded like origami. The tiny numberplate is okay, but hardly worth the purchase, it's the sort of thing you toss aside looking for the good stuff (until you find there is no good stuff). I would hazard a guess that all the extras in the tin cost no more than £1 to produce.

This could have been brilliant had it come with a nice hardcopy book with production design drawings and behind the scenes photos like the Planet of the Apes 40th Anniversary BR box set. The Forbidden Planet box set came with a nice miniature Robbie the Robot, couldn't they have put a minature DeLorean in it instead of all the tat?

Yet another example of film companies churning out junk with no consideration for fans. Stick with the vanilla blu ray disc collection instead.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 1, 2012 4:17 PM GMT

Children's TV Themes For Boys
Children's TV Themes For Boys
Price: £7.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Is this meant to be a joke?, 6 Oct. 2010
Clearly the Goggle Box Band is a one-handed chap with a mid-80s Bontempi keyboard which "reproduces" a few different sound effects vaguely resembling a keyboard, a drum, a guitar etc.

Just listen to the snippets of the tunes - they resemble the actual theme tune, but as if they have been stripped of all character, depth and musical quality.

How this kind of travesty is allowed at amazon is quite an incredible achievement.

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