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Pontypool [DVD] [2008]
Pontypool [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Stephen McHattie
Price: 4.61

4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and strange but intelligent and effective, 2 Jan 2014
This review is from: Pontypool [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This is a very effective little chiller, obviously low-budget, set almost entirely in one room (a radio station) and only 5 characters to speak of (and one of those is a voice on the radio). There are 'zombies' too, although we don't see much of them. I'm not even sure if they are proper zombies, because they are not dead, just diseased; inflicted with one of the most bizarre diseases you will ever hear about.

With virtually one set, and almost non-stop dialogue, the film feels more like a play (and would make a great play actually). The characters are all interesting and believable, well-acted, and its nice to see a film devoid of clichés and stereotypes, when this is something that seems beyond so much high-budget, Hollywood fare. The tension mounts in the first half of the film, as does the claustrophobia as those inside the radio station are fed bizarre reports of apparent riots and worse.

In the second half of the film, there is a noticeable change in tone. It seems to morph into something more tongue in cheek, and the always clever dialogue becomes increasingly sardonic and flippant. It made me question everything I had seen before. Was I taking this creepy film too seriously?

The ending is not wholly satisfying, and there is a short black-and-white duologue after the final credits that made no sense to me whatsoever, except to confirm my suspicions that the film sees itself as something of a black comedy. It certainly makes fun of the zombie genre and is considerably more intelligent than those films, not that that is too challenging.

If you don't mind low-budget films with lots of dialogue and few characters and settings then give this a go - its a smart, original and enjoyable piece of film-making.

American Horror Story - Season 1 [DVD]
American Horror Story - Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dylan McDermott
Offered by rsdvd
Price: 19.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad taste and juvenile soap opera with ghosts (that is admittedly good fun), 28 Oct 2013
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Set in a haunted house, each episode begins with a short story about the house's past and something horrible that happened there. Then, fast forward to the present-day and, the latest occupiers are the Harmon family with problems of their own that go beyond their house being haunted. Ben Harmon is a psychiatrist and one of his patients takes an interest in his daughter. Mrs Harmon does not trust her husband because of his past affairs. Then there is creepy neighbour Fiona Goode and her Down's Syndrome daughter that keeps wandering into the Harmon's home. These are some of the more normal characters.

There are positives and negatives about the show. On the downside, it is really just a corny soap opera with all the usual clichés and stereotypes that you will have seen a thousand times. The ghosts are just there as a gimmick - the show isn't in the least bit scary, and seems more concerned with kinky sex than with horror, although it is often overly violent and gory. On the plus side, some of the dialogue is clever and amusing, and the acting is good; especially Jessica Lange who is an absolute treat as Fiona Goode, the neighbour from hell. Undoubtedly, some scenes work really well, whereas others just make you cringe.

All in all I felt it was aimed at a young audience, maybe late-teenagers / early twenties, but the show is oddly watchable so for that reason I give it a generous 3 stars


3.0 out of 5 stars Dated and awkward but not without its merits, 15 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Despite appearances, this is an English language film with no subtitles. The actors are Italian, speaking English, but have been dubbed and the dubbing is also English.

Also, this is not a horror film at all, even though it is occasionally marketed as such. Its even a bit of stretch calling it a thriller. It is more of a detective story / whodunnit. The police spend a great deal of the film interviewing the cast in order to find out who is behind the serial killing of some local schoolgirls. A witness to the first murder is a schoolgirl who is having a secret affair with a married teacher. Being a police suspect, the teacher also turns detective and interviews those cast members the police haven't gotten around to. The plot won't blow you away, but it is logical and surprising and comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Be warned that the murders involve genital mutilation and this is dealt with clumsily and distastefully. Even though there is no gore or blood and we never see anything horrific, it is the way the detective so candidly discusses the mutilation to a family, and how he distributes photos to suspects, that makes it so crass and ludicrous. The film also feels like it was put together by a dirty old man, with persistent and unnecessary shots of naked girls, be it breasts or full-frontal. Even the naked corpses aren't safe from the cameras voyeurism. Be prepared to be embarrassed if you watch the film with anyone else.

To be fair, it is no more than what you'd expect from a 1970s slasher film: The acting is wooden, the dubbing doesn't help, the dialogue is unrealistic, and conversations are often laboured and awkward. But there are also flashes of unsettling and imaginative brilliance. Two or three times, the director finds just the right shot to make your flesh creep when you least expect it. This film has not just been thrown together, there is always a lot of thought and artistry behind each scene.

If you are a fan of Dario Argento you may like this film as the style is similar, except there is no horror nor gore.

Still, the soundtrack by Ennio Morricone is excellent and the film is set in London, which is always nice to see in the 70s, so for those reasons I give it a generous 3 out of 5

The Lost Room [DVD][2006]
The Lost Room [DVD][2006]
Dvd ~ Julianna Margulies
Price: 9.77

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Starts naff and finishes weak but in-between its thrilling, gripping and joyfully silly, 13 May 2012
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This review is from: The Lost Room [DVD][2006] (DVD)
The pace of this series s frenetic and the premise is quickly established as rather silly. It starts off with a mysterious deal being done and immediately we are thrown into the cheesy cuts and forced suspense that are so common in American TV shows. Then a gang show up and their leader incinerates everybody with a pen! Welcome to The Lost Room.

The police start investigating and I can't say I cared much and if I had been watching it on TV rather than had bought the DVD I would have switched channels pretty soon. This is not Sci-Fi, it is FANTASY. One of the cops investigating the case comes across a key that is even weirder than the incinerating pen. Whatever door it opens leads into a mysterious hotel room. Every object that originated from that hotel room has a special power and everybody wants those objects. Some people might see that as a great premise. I didn't, but I totally underestimated this series that seriusly knows how to create and establish tension; how to handle action-packed scenes and how to keep you watching and desperate to know what happens next.

The 'key' to this series is in the main character - the cop called Joe Miller and the relationship he has with his young daughter. From the moment she is kidnapped by a gang after the key, this series really picks up and just doesn't let go. Along the way, we encounter a comb that freezes time and a glass eye that can destroy or repair flesh. And the acting is great.

The final episode (there are 6) is a little disappointing and the reason why I am not giving it 5 stars. It just feels too rushed and the implausible silliness that is such a feature of the series is just pushed too far. All I can say is that the series works best when you don't take it too seriously. It may not have the best ending, but its a hell of a ride.

Dorothy: The Modern Day Exorcist[ DVD] (2008)
Dorothy: The Modern Day Exorcist[ DVD] (2008)
Dvd ~ Carice van Houten
Price: 5.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Script is overcooked, credibility is lost, 17 Mar 2012
Too much is going on in this messy, rather amatuerish story to ever capture the imagination as it should. We have a psychiatrist who has lost her son, a girl who may be possessed by the devil or has multiple-personality disorder, three characters in a car crash being pursued and who may or may not be drunk, a weird blind woman, a group of thuggish men who act like satanists and snarl at people and that is just for starters. It all adds up in the end but not in a satisfactory way. Every scene tries to be suspenseful and surprising and the writers obviously never heard that less is more. What could have been atmospheric and mysterious is usually overblown and often silly.

The girl playing the multi-faceted Dorothy (Jenn Murray) has a difficult job in this mess and doesn't always pull it off. Carice van Houten as the psychiatrist however is excellent and the best thing about the movie. If the script had stuck to her point of view throughout it would at least have set the film off on the right foot, instead of losing focus and its audience.

Tries desperately to be The Wicker Man but has learned nothing from that film's strengths. Only watch it if you have nothing better to do, there are worse films out there than this, but don't expect to be scared, not even once!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2012 11:16 PM BST

Funland [DVD]
Funland [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mark Gatiss

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twin Peaks meets League of Gentleman (with lashings of hot sex), 18 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Funland [DVD] (DVD)
Carter Kranz arrives in seedy Blackpool to find out who killed his mother with only the flimsiest of clues to go on. It is Carter's mission that drives this darkly comic thriller as he meets all sorts of suspects and weirdoes, red herrings and blind alleys in an effort to uncover the truth. It isn't long before he is mixed up with the dysfunctional Woolfs; a family of local gangsters that try to help Carter, but only by using him for their own ends

But that's not all. Two more stangers arrive in Blackpool at the same time; a young couple, Dudley and Lola Sutton, trying to spice up their marriage. For Dudley the problem is lack of sex. For Lola the problem is Dudley, and he gets them both in the most awful mess with his stupidity as they too become involved with the Woolfs and their money-grabbing schemes

These are the normal characters by the way; the minor ones are straight out of The League of Gentleman, as is the humour - dark, grotesque, absurd, often very funny. There is no shortage of sex in this series either, so if you are easily offended best steer clear

I found the first episode difficult to get into. Lots of characters are introduced quickly; the story jumps about a lot before we get to know them; its stylistic and strange and a little alienating, mainly because so many of the characters are odd or dislikable. All I can say is, you must stick with it. By the end of the 2nd episode I was totally hooked and watched the whole 11 episodes over 3 nights.

The writing is funny, crazy, tongue-in-cheek, with twisting, turning plots that keep you guessing until the end. Some of the plot twists and character revalations are a bit silly and unbelievable but the story gets away with it. Its not meant to be taken seriously; something which you are reminded of often

Best thing about the series has to be the wonderful cast. Daniel Mays gives his usual power-packed and energy fuelled performance as the sympathetic but fearless Carter. Kris Marshall is hilarious as the inept Dudley. My favourite however was Ian Paulston-Davis as Shirley Woolf. Shirley is the most interesting character and Paulston-Davis totally nails it

Has to be seen by anyone who liked Twin Peaks or League of Gentleman. Or those who don't feel too attached to Blackpool

Kill List [DVD]
Kill List [DVD]
Dvd ~ Neil Maskell
Offered by Lifes Essentials
Price: 5.32

16 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fatal flaws cannot save a promising idea, 10 Feb 2012
This review is from: Kill List [DVD] (DVD)
I can only assume so many critics love this film either because it is British or because there is so much to admire artistically. Unfortunately, the film's unforgivable flaws will alienate it from much of its audience

Here are reasons not to watch this film:

1) The first half an hour is painfully slow. A couple shouting at each other, bonding, having dinner with 2 friends. I am guessing they shot lots of great footage and this is the cut down version but few people will be hooked. It should have been covered in 10 minutes

2) The film is very talky but has nothing to say. For two-thirds of the film we are with 2 men whose friendship and history and character are well-conveyed but their chats and insights are so inane, its just documentary realism for the sake of it. If the film-makers had any points to make about life, this is where they could have started but its a let-down. The script is the weakest part of the film and that is fatal. There is no real story, only padding

3) The violence is disgusting. I lost all respect for the film-makers with 'that hammer scene' Who wants to watch such scenes, really? From that moment I was completely switched off emotionally from what I was watching.

4) Linked to the above points, the main character is so thoroughly dislikable and his wife isn't much either. It is important for the film that you care about him and his relationships or at least have some empathy but the film utterly fails in that regard and so kills itself stone dead. I didn't care what happened in the end when I should have been devastated

5) The main reason people hate this film is because of the ending. It is confusing and distanced from the rest of the film, but I would have no problem with an inexplicable puzzle if I was with the film emotionally. Some people just love a puzzle they can solve and don't care about the rest. I guess

If the above things will not bother you then watch the movie as, like I said, there are things to recommend it, such as quality acting, convincing relationships, beautiful shot-making and a creepy atmosphere. These things are nowhere near enough for me though
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 6, 2013 7:16 PM BST

The CarbLover's Diet
The CarbLover's Diet
by Ellen Kunes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.99

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bananas is the secret to weight loss !!!, 14 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The CarbLover's Diet (Paperback)
This book really works, I lost 8 pounds on the first week, 4 on the second and another 4 on the third. I am currently on my 4th week and so far have lost a total of 17 pounds!

The secret is ... bananas for breakfast (especially with oats). Once I stopped having bananas for breakfast my weight loss seemed to stall for a couple of days so I went back on it quickly. Fortunately I love bananas.

Most of the recipes in this book are delicious and all are easy to make. There are a few strange things going on though. The chicken pasta primevera has very little chicken and pasta and loads of tomatoes and garlic! It should be called tomato garlic primavera. The Greek lentil soup comes out all wrong unless you halve the amount of water. And microwaving Barley with water is disgusting - don't do it!

Some of the books grand claims are questionable...

1) Never hungry? I beg to differ. I am frequently hungry on this diet, but I control it by drinking lots of water (which is what the books recommends).

2) Cheap meals? Not always, it can often work out quite expensive if you are not careful (they must have known that when they included maple syrup in their recipes). And there is so much weighing required and different ingredients going on, its difficult to avoid waste

3) Easily obtainable ingredients? Not always. Plenty of obscure stuff, although if you like cooking that is part of the fun. A Holland and Barrett near you will come in handy

But I can live with these things because the diet really works and I get to eat bread (rye and pitta), chocolate mousse, strawberries and cream with merlot sauce and loads of other delicious stuff.

The best diet ever !

Shutter Island [DVD] (2010)
Shutter Island [DVD] (2010)
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: 3.00

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, arty mystery that doesn't fully come off, 25 Feb 2011
This review is from: Shutter Island [DVD] (2010) (DVD)
Two FBI agents are sent to a prison on Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of an insane prisoner. It soon becomes obvious that this is not going to be a straightforward investigation. The plot does not so much thicken as spiral out of control, with constant flashbacks, nightmares, imagery and clues and revelations that nothing is what it seems.

The director Scorcese handles the material very well, but the story is constrained by the fact that it is based on a novel of little action and characters that we don't really care about or feel anything for. The latter does not matter too much in a film like this, but when the film should be gripping us with an exciting, progressive plot it constantly stalls with one conversation after another, usually when a new actor is introduced. It is an intriguing puzzle but not a great ride.

Even this would not be so bad if the film was not so utterly predictable. There have been so many films of this type over the last 20 years it is getting a little tedious now. Anyone who regularly watches movies will have this one figured out long before we hit the final act and the whole mystery is explained via some clunky exposition that outstays its welcome.

I was relieved when the film finished, but that doesn't mean it has no merits. Worth seeing for the great cast and Scorcese's bravura direction.

True Grit [DVD] (2010)
True Grit [DVD] (2010)
Dvd ~ Jeff Bridges
Offered by themediamerchants
Price: 2.97

60 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More of a Coen Brothers film than a western. But so what?, 13 Feb 2011
This review is from: True Grit [DVD] (2010) (DVD)
This story begins with a narration; a woman reminiscing about when she was a child and how she hired a US marshal, Rooster Cogburn, to hunt down and kill the man who murdered her father. We then quickly go into flashback and the hunt begins, with Texas ranger LaBoeuf joining Cogburn and the girl on their quest.

Best you know now that the hunt takes a while before it begins. And that it begins at a slow pace. And that it generally keeps a slow pace throughout. The Coens are in no hurry to catch the killer; they are more interested in the posse following after him; how they interact with each other and, consequently, what we learn about them - information we retain until it matters.

This is not an action film as some people who criticise it seemed to think before watching it. The Coens like characters. They like to put them in close-up and have them snipe at each other. And they like beautiful wide shots. The cinematography by Roger Deakins is perfect as always and needs to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated. The film is very true to the book upon which it is based and the book perfectly suits the Coen's style.

When the periodic action does come in the style of a set-piece, it is masterfully handled; always with tension and panache, sometimes with humour, only once with extreme violence. But you are aware that conversation is allowing action to intrude, often briefly, rather than the other way round

The best thing about the movie was the acting of Hailee Steinfeld who plays the determined 14 year old girl, Mattie Ross. You hang on her every word in the first part of the movie as she pushes it single-handed with her crisp, confident delivery and amusing refusal to be fobbed off or cheated by anyone.

Matt Damon really shines as the windbag ranger from Texas; a character you can really believe in and laugh at at the same time.

Jeff Bridges as the one-eyed drunken marshal, Rooster Cogburn, is great as he always is, but be warned, his southern accent is so strong and he mumbles so much its often quite difficult to understand what he is saying. Being from the UK I missed a lot of his best lines, but it never hinders comprehension of the plot which is as basic as they come anyway

The minor parts are all played well, especially the villains, but don't expect too much screen time from them. The opening narration makes clear that the whole film is from the girl's point-of-view. We aren't going to see any bad guys until she does, and then, only what she sees and knows.

In summary, be prepared for a beautiful-looking, slow-moving, well-acted, dialogue-heavy, often quirky Coen Brothers Film. Above all be prepared for, what is, in the end, a truly moving story. For it is not until the last 10 minutes that I realised what it is really about and I wondered if I should have known it all along. Like the characters I became so wrapped up in the importance of the quest to the exclusion of everything else. At the end of the movie I was reminded of the John Lennon line 'life is something that happens to you when you are making other plans.' Just like that line, this film has stayed with me.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 10, 2011 9:24 AM BST

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