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Cactus (Reading, Berkshire, England)

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Jin Won Kim's the Butcher [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Jin Won Kim's the Butcher [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £10.32

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Me Rambling as Usual, 12 Sept. 2011
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This film is unlikely to feature strongly in the South Korean tourist board's marketing materials. Four random people have apparently been kidnapped and taken to an old slaughterhouse, to be killed for a snuff movie. (As a vegan, the irony of that wasn't lost on me; I bet they all ate hundreds of animals during their lifetimes, possibly some killed in that very building.) Actually, you know what? I'm glad they got taken there; they deserved it. Now I realise that statement probably makes me a bit of a sociopath, but I don't care. It's not like I really got to know any of them anyway, not even most of their names. And yes, I appreciate that they were dealing with a few problems and stuff, not least a pig-mask wearing, chainsaw wielding nutter, but some names and a bit of an introduction would still have been nice; I was spending my own personal time waching them being murdered horribly after all, so it was the least they could have done; I might have actually cared a bit about what happened to them then. And maybe it was just me, but that guy who tried to run away, then tried to save his wife, then decided not to, and then ran away again, twice, did get on my nerves a bit. It's true, I was starting to warm to him when he was doing his best to get the bad guys to let her go, but honestly, as soon as he had part of his hand cut off with a chainsaw he totally gave up trying. (I'm glad he got his foot caught in that bear trap too.) I'm sure that's probably grounds for a divorce.

This film also gave me a bit of a headache. All those handheld (or head-mounted to be more accurate) camera shorts; it feels like I've just gone three rounds with Mike Tyson, on a roller coaster.

So what's good? Well, the director's phone call from his mother showed a bit of imagination; and there's a classic 4 second screen scream from one of the women victims too, at around the 18:25 mark.

Recommended for militant vegetarians and fans of pointless torture porn.

Best badass moment? I have to admit defeat here. There wasn't one. A bit like the plot really.

Cat People [DVD]
Cat People [DVD]
Dvd ~ Nastassja Kinski
Offered by i want one of those
Price: £6.29

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Me Rambling as Usual, 10 Jan. 2010
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This review is from: Cat People [DVD] (DVD)
I first have to first admit that to me Nastassia Kinski will always be Tess Durbeyfield, in Roman Polanski's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles". So it was with some trepidation that I decided to watch "Cat People", in case my image of her was ruined forever. Fortunately it all turned out okay.

The plot follows the discovery by Nastassia Kinski's character, Irena, that she's one of the Cat People and that when she has sex she'll turn into a Black Leopard. This is a little inconvenient when you think about it. Actually most of the film follows her as she finds out about her family's 'unique selling point' rather than the consequences of it, so there aren't a great many scenes that focus on that post love-making bowl of milk, or raiding the nearest bird's nest for some food.

This is a film that brandishes its style over content and isn't ashamed to do so, despite the opportunities the story offers to make a powerful and erotic movie. There are some bits of horror and when they do come the effects are both excellent and convincing, but there aren't a great many and it's only the last quarter of the film when it seems to get going; but by then you've already curled up comfortably by the warm radiator and nothing much is going to get you to change your position, short of someone pushing the vacuum cleaner too close to you. Nastassia Kinski does seem to drift through many of her scenes just looking suitably dreamy, feline and a bit confused about everything. It's not that she did a bad job (in fact I think she plays the character of Irena very well), but the script doesn't seem to give her a great deal of opportunity to act, outside of being a slightly mysterious girl next door sort of character. Malcolm McDowell stomps about a lot and tries to be suitably menacing, but again it just didn't quite work for me. It's all a bit like looking at a nice painting of an interesting scene; there's clearly a lot going on somewhere but as the artist only painted what's in front of you there's a sense that you're missing out a little.

As with all films that include wild animals in their cast, I did get that slight, nagging feeling that perhaps I shouldn't really be approving of this film at all; it predates computer generated imagery as we know it now and although there were some very convincing and clever mechanical cats used in some of the shots, (about which more can be learnt by looking through the impressive amount of Special Features that come with this DVD), live (or what look like drugged) animals appeared to be used in some scenes. There's no doubting the beauty and power of the Black Leopard though, but these days they're better seen in wildlife documentaries, rather than trapped in prostitutes' bedrooms or tiny zoo cages, as is the case in this film. (Do zoos still have tiny enclosures like the ones shown in this film? Dreadful).

Sadly the most damming indictment of things came from my cat Penny. Despite my best efforts to interest her in the movie and to explain that I had put it on her sake, she sat or slept through most of it without showing the slightest interest in what was happening onscreen.

The sound and picture quality on this DVD are fine, although the dark scenes did seem a tad, well, dark to me. Not a great film for slash and burn horror fans but it is well made and stylish, so if you like your films a little 'smoother' then you may find this an excellent choice. I enjoyed watching it and I'm sure I'll will again, but it just didn't get me purring.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2015 7:48 AM BST

Camping Sauvage [DVD]
Camping Sauvage [DVD]
Dvd ~ Denis Lavant
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £7.80

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Me Rambling as Usual, 9 Jan. 2010
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This review is from: Camping Sauvage [DVD] (DVD)
Oh dear, the first review here for this film. Such responsibility...

This is a movie that shows the entire course of a relationship between a 40 something man (Blaise) and a 17 year old woman (Camille), set (mostly) in and around a holiday campsite near a lake in France. So that's the plot dealt with, what of the film itself? Well it looks nice, is well put together and the acting is very natural. In particular, Isild Le Besco's Camille is scarily realistic. The way the two main characters interact is top draw stuff and makes the relationship that develops between them very believable and balanced; this isn't a film about seedy sex or controlling relationships. The subtitles are good (just as well for me as I don't speak French) and the story was easy to follow too, (which is luckily for thickos like me who struggle with anything too complicated, or that doesn't involve lots of explosions and stuff).

Like many well made independent or low budget films seem to have, this enjoyed a quite 'other worldly' and dreamy feel about it. I enjoyed "Camping Sauvage" (which Google tells me means wilderness camping) a lot, although I guess if the idea of two people of such different ages getting off on each other freaks you out, you may get quite a different vibe from the film. Actually the sexual side of the relationship is played down and certainly doesn't take centre stage in terms of what's on the screen; if you're after this sort of thing I suggest you spend your money elsewhere. The focus is much more on the connection the two main characters make with one another and the disapproval of those around them. (And maybe it's a French thing, but most of this lack of enthusiasm from the rest of the cast seems to come down to them just not liking him for a range of reasons, rather than his age.) They were a miserable and boring bunch of so and so's anyway; no wonder Camille was doing the teenage rebellion bit. (It wasn't really explored in the film, but I can't help thinking that this is one of the reasons they disapproved of what was going on so much; they were all as dissatisfied with their lives as she was, but unlike her they lacked the courage to try and do anything about it.) Although there's a fair amount of dialogue in this film, it's not especially heavy and you're left to decide for yourself how to fill in some of the background to the story and to work out why the two people involved are attracted to one another so much; it does give you time to do this as you're immersed in observing their time together.

There were two things that did reduce my enjoyment of this film a bit. One is the fact that the relationship between Blaise and Camille seems to develop so fast. In fact the changes in the relationship in a couple of places during the film made me think I'd fallen asleep and missed a bit. It's not any easy film to track the passage of time in, (I personally feel it all takes place over a very short period), so you do need to use your own thoughts to fill in the gaps a bit.

The other main thing was that I was hoping to pick up a few tips about how to attract woman less than half my age, but sadly I'm none the wiser now. Oh well...

If you can't get a lift out of the relationship between Blaise and Camille then the vibe of the film in general is quite depressing. The ending really is quite shocking too (and to be honest a bit inexplicable). But, if the plot doesn't turn you off then this film is well worth 76 minutes of your time. I think I'll personally watch it again quite soon; it's the sort of film that your perception of will be impacted on a lot by your mood at the time.

The Special Features aren't really anything, just a few trailers.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 2, 2011 1:45 PM BST

Miracle Mile [DVD] [1989] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Miracle Mile [DVD] [1989] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by passionFlix UK
Price: £25.55

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Me Rambling as Usual, 8 Jan. 2010
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This is a difficult film for me to make my mind up about. It starts off as a somewhat dated, fairly dull, romantic comedy, (the single man and woman meet and instantly fall in love sort of thing), before morphing into a real-time 'end of the world' thriller. Never mind "24" most of the action here takes place in just 50 minutes. It has a somewhat nihilistic plot and some pretty depressing scenes, yet it also has occasional moments of comedy that just pop up out of nowhere to stop it heading into "On the Beach" or "Knowing" territory.

I'm trying not to give away what happens in the end, as having no prior knowledge of it will make the film a lot more exciting to watch the first time. Sharing the same doubts as the hero/villain Harry makes it all the better and is part of the core of the movie. (Nice blue suit and bright red shirt by the way). If you've ever managed to get yourself into a lose-lose situation or simply had a Really Bad Day, then you'll appreciate his dilemma. This was a film that did make me want to shout (and I'll just translate from the 'French' for you) "get a move on for goodness sake" at the characters a lot, which is I guess a good sign.

Miracle Mile is a weird film in many ways. There are numerous, subtle, small happenings in the plot that don't make any sense or lead anywhere. At first I thought these were just examples of poor writing, but actually they're part of what gives this film a high 'weirdness' rating and a lot of its charm. They're worth watching out for. Films generally have quite linear stories, with most apparently random things actually turning out in the end to be used to drive the plot in some way; but this one also presents lots of little cul-de-sacs that keep you on your toes. It sometimes has the feel of a 'made for tv' film, as a result of looking a bit cheap or the acting feeling a bit flat; but then quite an expansive or adult bit of action will take place, or a genuinely emotive scene will turn up, to alter your perceptions of it. It almost feels like they made half of it with a great deal of care and attention to detail, and then attached all these bits together with throw away scenes.

This is not a film that's aged well, so be prepared for a quick culture realignment as late 80s hair, shiny lycra, mobile phones and a Tangerine Dream soundtrack make their presence forcibly known. The only thing missing is a "Rocky" style montage. It's got Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) from "Star Trek The Next Generation" in in too, which is good, playing a very enigmatic character.

The sound is bog standard Dolby Surround and the picture "modified to fit your screen", which I think means they've chopped some of the sides off; it looked okay on my widescreen TV anyway. The picture quality is okay bit nothing special. The special features aren't very special either, just a trailer.

So is it worth watching? Yes it is. Not being sure what's really going on does lend a lot of suspense to the story and if you're prepared to look for the subtleties it presents you with then you'll enjoy it all the more. Three stars, plus an extra one for its hidden depths. A hidden gem? No. A hidden semi-precious stone? Yes.

Tokyo Gore Police [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Tokyo Gore Police [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Me Rambling as Usual, 2 Jan. 2010
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It's set in Tokyo, it has gore in it and it's about the police. So there you have it then. Only you actually get a film which is so much more; very obvious reminders of the Evil Dead, Terminator 2, the Matrix, Kill Bill and Robocop all pop up at different times and I suspect there's plenty of others in there too. It did however manage to feel like a film that was inspired by these, rather than one that simply plagiarised them. A clever idea, an interesting plot, minimal character development and not a lot of dialogue means that there's very little to get in the way of the real point of this film, which is to chop off as many bits as possible, from as many people as possible, in as messy a way as possible. Heads, hands, fingers, arms, legs, feet and 'unmentionables' are all treated in this rather cavalier fashion, as swords, chainsaws, guns and giant scalpels, many of which grow out of peoples' wounds when they get injured, do battle in a near future vision of Tokyo. It's a horror yes, but it's also has significant elements of sci-fi, action and comedy in it too, which are blended in that way that many Japanese films excel at doing. It's not a film that takes itself seriously, it's not a creepy horror and neither does it feel like you're watching a depressing view of a society on the edge of disintegrating either.

I have to say I found it hard to be grossed out by most of this film despite the mayhem going on, as it's really so far over the top that the sheer amounts of blood spraying everywhere actually mitigate against this feeling. However, there were a number of scenes where I did find myself thinking, "oh now, that is a bit different". I have to say that on the whole the average Japanese person appears to have a lot more blood in their body that I do and dreadfully high blood pressure to go with it too. They're also incredible tough! I enjoyed watching this film a lot; it's really very, very silly and as long as you're not the sort of person who gets grossed out by over the top injuries and body modifications in films, you may well find it a lot of fun too. In fact, the longer it goes on the more ridiculous everything gets.

Technically, the picture quality is very good and the film looks well made and doesn't feel cheap. The special effects are by and large excellent. My only criticism is that the producer appears to have got a really good deal on a box of red light bulbs from somewhere and thus they were used in as many scenes as possible. With the amount of on-screen time all the blood and wounds had, I wouldn't have thought red was a colour that would have been in particular demand. This version has both Japanese (with optional English subtitles) and dubbed English audio choices up to 5:1. The subtitles are generally fine, except where they obscure (and basically duplicate) some of a text in a few of the spoof adverts that pop up from time to time. The special features are fairly minimal, but there is a very long trailer if you haven't got time to watch the whole film.

Butterfly Kiss [DVD]
Butterfly Kiss [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Winterbottom

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Me Rambling as Usual, 31 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Butterfly Kiss [DVD] (DVD)
If this film was hoping to capture some of the essence of an American road movie and transplant it to north-west England, then it did an excellent job of doing so. The use of the scenery is one of the high points of this film, from the wide open spaces of Sefton Sands and the nearby coast, to the monotonous motorways and anonymous service and petrol stations that provided the background for many of its scenes. Along with the music used, the atmosphere these provide is quite special. In fact it all creates quite a palpable feeling that the story takes place a bit out of sync with reality. It made a nice change too, to watch a film set in Britain somewhere other than in London, a posh National Trust properly or a run-down inner city estate.

If the film was hoping to draw top draw performances from its two main actresses, then again it succeeded. Yes it's a lesbian love story of sorts, but the relationship between the main characters, Eunice and Miriam, amounts to a lot more; in fact this aspect is probably rather played down, although it does underpin much of the overall plot. (Sorry lads, there's not a lot of hot babe on babe action here, just two grubby individuals who connect.)

In fact there're only two things that bring this film down. Firstly, why? However much I think about what went on in this film, there are still many places where I find myself asking why? When I watch Hollywood blockbusters, aliens invading earth and superheroes saving us from baddies, I expect to suspend my belief in things a bit. However, this was a film that didn't have any spaceships or zombies in it and therefore I do feel its story should have made a bit more sense. There was no exploration of why either of the characters behaved in the way they did, we were just expected to accept that that's the way they were and get on with it. I'm sure many people can manage with this quite happy, but for me it did make me ask why? The characters' relationship became established too quickly for me to be able to accept it at face value. I wanted to know if either character had a history of mental distress, or what had happened to make them behave in the way they that did. I think I would have enjoyed the film more if I'd known. Which brings me to the second thing that's not great about this film. As it stands it gives a somewhat negative representation of people with mental illness and stands to reinforce the prejudice some people have towards people who suffer from it, which is a real shame. This is a film about people whose behaviour has crossed the line, yet it only highlights the characters' behaviour from an emotional angle. I have a bit of difficulty accepting that being in a lesbian relationship makes you a murderer!

This is a clever, quite hard hitting film with a lovely, other worldly feel to it and first rate acting; just for me it's a shame the characters' backgrounds weren't explored a little more.

Finally, for those interested in special features, this DVD comes with scene selection and, em, that's all.

Roger Dodger [DVD] [2003]
Roger Dodger [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Campbell Scott
Offered by Annikhali
Price: £5.06

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Me Rambling as Usual, 30 Dec. 2009
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This review is from: Roger Dodger [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Roger Dodger is a film set in uptown Manhattan, about a guy who basically spends his evenings talking women into sleeping with him. After writing one sentence I already know I should hate the idea, setting and main character in this film. I won't be able to relate to anything in it and this guy is simply going to annoy the hell out of me. It's also going to be another one of those vacuous, American, made for TV films. Like fast food, cheap, nasty and ultimately unfulfilling.

Now I've said all that I have to say that despite my misgivings, this film engaged me from the moment it began. From the very first scene I started to dislike the aforementioned guy, yet secretly wish I could be more like him too. This is a genuinely different film offering an uncomfortably frank and open look into the mind of the central character, Roger Swanson (wonderfully portrayed by Campbell Scott), who takes his young nephew out one night for a few lessons in the art of seduction. Now I really, really, really wanted to hate Swanson; his confident, articulate, womanising, successful lifestyle made me feel quite inadequate (probably because he's everything I'm not!) His relationships and treatment of those around him were quite maddening too, as he regarded them all as little more than props to further his activities (so they either got used or ignored), yet he got away with it. (Isn't that so annoying, when everyone except the person being taken advantage of can see it?) Unfortunately, despite my wishing to dislike him so much, I strangely found myself on this very alpha male's side when things started to go wrong for him. Whether this demonstrates a flaw in my own character, or is a reflection of a well written and well acted role I'm not sure, but it all added up to a fun, frustrating and entertaining 97 minutes (which felt a lot less). Watching the self doubt slowly creeping into his mind as the story progressed and his reaction to it was quite compelling stuff. I have to say I enjoyed my time in the company of a group of people who I wouldn't normally get the chance to (or would choose to) hang out with.

This is a film for grown-ups, which gives a very candid portrayal of a certain type of lifestyle in particular type of setting, yet the subtitles of the story and its excellent delivery made it feel quite familiar to me. A film well worth watching. Oh yes, there're more special features with it than you get with most other films too, if you like that sort of thing.

Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009]
Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009]
Dvd ~ Nicolas Cage
Price: £4.41

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Me Rambling as Usual, 28 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009] (Blu-ray)
I think I've been watching too many 'end of the world' films recently. I need to lighten up, avoid Morrissey songs and go and feed the ducks in the park or something. Knowing is a dark, thoughtful, well acted, well made but depressing and quite creepy film, which filled me with the same sort of dread as watching On the Beach did a few days ago. Captain Kirk might not believe in the No Win Scenario, but for the rest of us (well me anyway) this sort of film tends to remind me just how flimsy our hold on life really is.

Yes you can if you wish sit and pick holes in its plot, but then you're perhaps missing the point of watching a film like this, which to me is to experience the story along with the characters, sharing their shock, frustration and fear as the truth unfolds, becoming immersed in what's going on, which high definition helps to intensify. When you watch a good film you get a certain feeling inside; I got that from watching this one. I'm not sure it was a very nice feeling, but it was there. Like most blu-ray films these days, this looked one (and sounded) wonderful. The film switches frequently from brightly lit scenes to ones set in near darkness, but both looked good on my screen. For a Hollywood blockbuster it's quite an intelligent film with plenty of conversational scenes between the characters, (although I'm not sure I really got to know them that well despite these; information about them feels like it's provided in little bits and pieces as you go along, which don't always seem terribly well connected to anything and just appear to be used to drive the story along and to try and give the characters a bit of colour; if this film has a weakness then this is probably it). However, the quiet scenes do help to emphasise the impact of the action when it does come and I'd like to take this opportunity to publically apologise to my neighbours for probably scaring the pants off them. Not quite as nihilistic as On the Beach, but a pretty good film for making you feel powerless. I had to go and play with Penny (my cat) after watching it, to cheer me up and get my thoughts back into the right head space. Humm, I wonder if what I've written here is a totally random event, or if it's pre-ordained and I'm just playing a small part in someone else's plans?

Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her [2000] [Dutch Import]
Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her [2000] [Dutch Import]
Dvd ~ Glenn Close
Offered by ____THE_BEST_ON_DVD____
Price: £5.65

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Rambling as Usual, 21 Nov. 2009
Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her is made up of five loosely connected stories about five women at different stages in their lives, who all seem to be drifting or avoiding the emotionally difficult things. For me it was a film about feeling you want things to be different but not really wanting to leave your comfort zone, even though you know you have to if you want to change things. Better the devil you know kind of thing. I don't generally go for films that are made up of (mostly) unconnected stories, but for some reason I bought this one and I have to say I'm very glad I did. The stories are all quite different, yet feel similar in many ways; (like bits of fruit, all fruit but all quite different). There are lots of well known actresses in it, including Cameron Diaz, who looks nothing like herself (i.e. huge smile and blonde hair), which is frankly a bit weird, especially as I watched There's Something About Mary after this. The acting in this film is top draw stuff. Overall it's quite a serious, grown up film, although it is humorous in places and isn't too much of a downer to watch, perhaps because in each of the stories you can see that the characters have begun to understand the reasons for their dissatisfaction and are starting to see a way to change their situations (even though we'll probably never know if they manage to or not, unless they make a sequel). The abortion scene is pretty depressing and uncomfortable though. If you do get bored watching it for any reason, you can always entertain yourself trying to spot the main characters from each of the stories playing bit parts in some of the others. I liked this film a lot, so do try to make the time to watch it,; it will reward you if you give it the chance to do so, although Dude Where's My Car it's not! This Dutch import copy is fine for simple Brits like me too, as everything's in English (except the writing on the back of the box).

There's Something About Mary [1998] [DVD]
There's Something About Mary [1998] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ben Stiller
Price: £2.69

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Me Rambling as Usual, 21 Nov. 2009
There's Something About Mary is a good natured, fast moving rom-com, with lots of `name' actors in it; (and I've just realised that I've started writing this in the style of an estate agent, all clichés that bare little resemblance to reality.) Anyway I quite enjoyed this film, which was easy to watch, very funny in places and almost entirely unrealistic (in terms of its plot). Then again, I can't imagine it ever meant to accurately and deeply portray the emotional issues associated with obsession, inadequacy and the difficulties of finding a life partner in the modern world when you don't look like one of the `beautiful people'; (and now I'm talking like a second rate media studies student; I wish I had a personally of my own). As I said (before I interrupted myself), this is a very watchable film, romantic enough for the romantics and gross enough for toilet humour fans. One thing that struck me while watching it was that films like this often show up the difference between the British and American sense of humour quite well. The nonsense with the dog didn't really work for me, although whether that's to do more with me or my repressed Brit upbringing I'm not sure. Anyway, it's worth watching and I'm glad I watched it. And yes, I know I write rubbish reviews!

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