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Dirty Harry [Blu-ray] [1971] [Region Free]
Dirty Harry [Blu-ray] [1971] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Clint Eastwood
Price: £7.69

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLURRING THE DISTINCTIONS, 25 Jun. 2008
They say first is always best and never has that been more true than here. Four progressively inferior sequels follow DIRTY HARRY, charting not only a decline in script quality but also in the general believability of a character who ends up being little more than a one-note lethal weapon rather than the maverick detective who, finding himself up against the SFPD's interminable bureaucracy, prefers to let his Magnum .44 do at least some of the talking. Okay, THE ENFORCER and MAGNUM FORCE just about hold their own but Clint's age is beginning to show by the time SUDDEN IMPACT appears and, frankly, the less said about THE DEAD POOL the better.

There's so much in this film that bears repeated viewings. It's certainly a brutal affair, and definitely non-pc, with director DON SIEGEL blurring the distinctions between cop and killer to the point where it's not always easy to tell one from the other by behaviour alone. But thanks to a brilliant turn by ANDY ROBINSON as the lip-quivering psychopath SCORPIO, it's somewhat less difficult to brush aside any misgivings about Harry Callahan's unorthodox methods. Not so much 'cake and and eat it' as knife and twist it.

Great support from RENI SANTINO assigned to be yet another of his initially indifferent colleague's 'unlucky' partners, CHICO, taking the bullets in the superbly choreographed bloodbath set in Golden Gate Park. Surviving the machine-gunning, he is clearly wiser after the event as to the type of lawman Callahan represents, re-affirming just what the 'Dirty' prefix means as a bottom line definition.

The fast-paced direction ensures that there's a very real sense of tension in the race to rescue a young girl (kidnapped and subsequently buried alive by Scorpio) and prevent her from dying by suffocation. The fact that Harry is frustrated in his attempts and ultimately fails - leading to the discovery of her pallid corpse - only increases his determination to sidestep the law-enforcement 'establishment' and go after Scorpio in the way he knows gets results - much to the dismay of media-courting and increasingly irritable Mayor (JOHN VERNON) and Callahan's own exasperated boss, Lieutenant Bressler (HARRY GUARDINO). A terrifically downbeat ending is a reminder that those who are supposed to protect and serve occasionally cross the line and that sometimes it simply has to be that way. Depends how lucky a person feels on the day, I suppose.

QUOTED ENDLESSLY BECAUSE IT'S SO DAMN GOOD:
"...I know what you're thinkin', punk. You're thinkin', 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' Now to tell you the truth, I've forgotten myself in all this excitement...but being this is a forty-four Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and will blow your head clean off...you've gotta ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya...PUNK?!!"

MOST POWERFUL SCENE(S): in the football ground under the floodlights as Harry steps on Scorpio's bullet wound to the leg; Scorpio's smashed-to-a-pulp face as he demands "every penny's worth..." of the beating he's arranged in order to frame his never-far-from-sight nemesis.

BLU-RAY PICTURE QUALITY: Superb, with a lot of detail not present on the regular DVD - you really get to know about a person's skin complexion via this format. There is still, however, a small amount of grain visible in the darker scenes, but that only adds to the gritty nature of the film as a whole and is not an issue.

BLU-RAY SOUND QUALITY: Excellent, bright and punchy in uncompressed 5.1. Brings to the fore composer LALO SCHIFRIN's cool and very 70's score.

A brilliant film, in it's best possible showcase. And Clint has never been more magnetic. Don't miss it.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Slimetime: A Guide to Sleazy, Mindless Movies
Slimetime: A Guide to Sleazy, Mindless Movies
by Steven Puchalski
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SLIMETASTIC, 24 Jun. 2008
Almost unthinkable the number of films this book 'celebrates' that I'd previously never heard of (possibly, I hasten to mention, because a good deal of them fall into the category of, er, tasteless schlock). However, that's not to say that I don't approve of the odd tasteless movie - on the contrary, one of my all-time favourite gore-fests, RE-ANIMATOR, quite happily resides in that arena - but normally I don't gravitate to all-out trash. And, believe me, there's bucketloads of that summarised and reviewed here, dismal non-mainstream efforts - better suited to the nearest landfill site rather than Blockbusters - made by no-hope directors, starring no-talent actors, working from no-hope scripts. Charming. And where's a sick bag when you need one?

Yet, despite appearing to have emerged from the most diseased of minds, there are still some films in SLIMETIME that contain a degree of merit and I happily admit to owning a very small number of these, including THE NINTH CONFIGURATION, PSYCHOMANIA and KING KONG ESCAPES. Okay, we're not talking Oscar-winning material here but they do demonstrate wit, imagination and technical competence on a limited budget. And, yes, they're also entertaining - not the worst of reasons for liking a film. Worth remembering, and for the sake of balance, that frontline Hollywood has itself never been a stranger to A-List scrong* (HOSTEL, anyone?).

The reviews are 100% pure hysterical adrenaline-fuelled ravings by author STEVEN PUCHALSKI (who frequently uses language that would require asterisks if published on this forum). They also happen to be stand-up funny, and therefore perfectly in keeping with the material under his warped scrutiny which ultimately renders this book a must-own if you like, or are at least fascinated by, films that belong squarely on the outer limits of madness.

For your consideration, then...

THE NIGHT GOD SCREAMED
GATOR BAIT
TENEBRAE
RABID GRANNIES
THE WIZARD OF GORE
ALICE IN ACIDLAND
INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS
THE TOXIC AVENGER
PLEASE DON'T EAT MY MOTHER

And, dear God, many many more where that lot came from. One could use a clutch of off-colour words to describe the above but I won't, I'm content to leave that dubious pleasure to Puchalski, who effortlessly transforms even the most vile and excessive celluloid entry into something at least worth reading about. So, deep breath and take a trip to the edge...within, of course, the (relatively) safe confines of this excellent and thoroughly unwholesome book on a crazy and thoroughly unwholesome sub-genre.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

*scrong - made it up but, heck, you know what I mean


Albums Of The 80S
Albums Of The 80S
by PETER DODD
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars NICE LITTLE REMINDER, 20 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Albums Of The 80S (Hardcover)
The Eighties: a decade 50% brilliant and 50% naff. 100 BEST-SELLING ALBUMS OF THE 80s is a visual designer's spotlight on the best selling musical product of the era, and very much a blast from the past for the eyes.

The information which accompanies the images isn't exactly exhaustive, due to size restrictions, but it does have some insight and may turn out to be quite useful in a pub quiz kind of way, so there are reasons to keep it handy. And, whether I like it or not, many of these silver, gold and platinum releases occurred during the happiest times of my younger more carefree life, so it's a nice (if occasionally scary) reminder. It'll probably do the same for you too.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The deduction of one star, however, for containing way too many careless typos (as an ex-proofreader, quite a painful experience).


The Brave One [Blu-ray] [2007] [Region Free]
The Brave One [Blu-ray] [2007] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Jodie Foster
Price: £26.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ONE TOUGH COOKIE, 10 Jun. 2008
Looking beyond its more 'controversial' aspects, THE BRAVE ONE emerges as a solid and highly atmospheric thriller with consistently great cinematography. In other words, a natural choice for the Blu-ray treatment. In 1080p high-definition the picture quality is stunning, containing a depth of field almost entirely absent from the standard-definition DVD and, I have to admit, that both the dramatic and technical experience stayed with me for some considerable time afterwards - which in my book is usually a good sign of something a bit out of the ordinary.

Erica Bain is a New York DJ who, along with her fiance, is brutally attacked and left for dead. She survives, and the only way of coping with her ordeal and her grief is to become a vigilante, wandering the lonely streets of the city and wasting the lowlifes that inhabit its nocturnal underbelly. Complications arise when she strikes up a relationship with the cop who's working on the case...

JODIE FOSTER puts in an excellent performance by injecting her character with a real sense of humanity, making the resulting moral ambiguities somewhat easier to accept (unlike, say, Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH, whose one-dimensional expressions gave away practically nothing of the internal struggles that must accompany such behaviour). Yes, there are contrivances in incident and aftermath but the film builds to a powerfully satisfying climax which is largely unexpected, and due in no small part to a tight script and convincing dialogue. Director NEIL JORDAN has painted a rich canvas, mostly without resorting to cliche, and the city at night is both a beautiful and terrifying prospect (someone equally good at this sort of thing is Michael Mann, see COLLATERAL). The onscreen violence, as you might imagine, is gritty but it is also entirely justified - any pulling of punches in that crucial area may have seriously harmed believability from the outset, especially given the petite stature of the main protagonist, so kudos to all concerned for keeping it as real as possible.

Overall then, a film with some substance and meaning, dealing with several issues including revenge, self-awareness and confession/redemption. It may take a mental post-mortem to come to those conclusions but, whatever else you do, don't dismiss THE BRAVE ONE as sensationalist nonsense.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Wired
Wired
Offered by SmokeCDs
Price: £14.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SOLO MEDIOCRE, 21 May 2008
This review is from: Wired (Audio CD)
Solo mediocre. From one of my genuine heroes. And yes, I know it's a few years old now, but I still had high expectations for this blend of mid-tempo pop and funk. However, the result is...

Average, in a word. And if you were to turn that word into a sound, then 'meh' (go on, try it) is a pretty fair approximation of what we have on offer here. So despite being effective in places, WIRED lacks the combined strengths of HUGH CORNWELL's earlier STRANGLERS work, which is a great pity. And with the exception of HOT CAT ON A TIN ROOF, WASTED TEARS and FIRST BUS TO BABYLON, the remaining tracks are seriously underdeveloped and expose the weaker aspects of his songwriting style, i.e, a tendency towards awkward vocal phrasing and uninspiring chord progressions. Still, we mustn't overlook HI-FI, WOLF, GUILTY and the weird but brilliant NOSFERATU, four albums which clearly demonstrate that he can turn it on when he wants to. Just not often enough.

As for WIRED, perhaps it's because the man continues to be an articulate and fascinating individual, and an iconic figure for many (including myself), that makes this so-so effort easier to accept as a whole.

RECOMMENDED


Doctor Who Encyclopedia - A Definitive Guide To Time and Space - BBC Books
Doctor Who Encyclopedia - A Definitive Guide To Time and Space - BBC Books
by Gary Russell
Edition: Hardcover

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FILLS IN THOSE MISSING BITS, 15 May 2008
A well produced hardback with excellent photographs, visually arresting layout and eminently readable text, THE DOCTOR WHO ENCYLOPEDIA is a worthy addition to any fan's collection. GARY RUSSELL has clearly done his research and the finished result is perfect for the Target Audience which, in theory, must reach into the millions.

Pretty much everything to do with the last three seasons is covered from major characters to major events with direct and indirect references and links, but there's still no avoiding the plot holes, contradictions and contrivances found in most DOCTOR WHO episodes - that sort of thing simply goes with the territory, especially shaky science, which has been elevated to almost art-form status since the show's rebirth. What this encyclopedia attempts to do, however, is fill in some of the more "Eh...?" gaps with solidly thought-out explanations which weren't always made clear in the original broadcasts, the result of (presumably) lazy or fuzzy scriptwriting. As you no doubt already know, Exec Producer RUSSELL T DAVIS is no stranger to this particular phenomenon.

But, hey, now we can all understand the Master's plan for the Toclafane in UTOPIA or the effects of The Paradox Machine from THE LAST OF THE TIME LORDS; the method by which the Weeping Angels steal people's futures from BLINK or how The Beast came to be held captive and the engineering of his subsequent destruction from THE SATAN PIT. Presented in paragraph or short caption form it all appears to make perfect sense now (within some seriously barmy parameters, that is). The introduction even manages to include names or words that might feature in a future revised edition, including Adipose, Rattigan, Mrs (!!), Vespiform...and so on. A neat bit of foreshadowing there, Gary.

Whatever the case, when the time comes, let's ensure this Doctor Who product enjoys a full and happy regeneration.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Panasonic DMR-EX78EB-K Freeview+ 250GB HDD DVD Recorder - Black
Panasonic DMR-EX78EB-K Freeview+ 250GB HDD DVD Recorder - Black

160 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE STEP BELOW HI-DEFINITION, 14 May 2008
This is a versatile and intuitive DVD player with a superb 1080p upscaling digital tuner and hefty 250GB hard drive. The whole package is well built, looks cool in black, and is simplicity itself to set up. When you get around to the more advanced features, check out the jukebox facility (the recording of albums onto the hard drive), which comes with a nifty database listing every track - easily updated via the memory stick included as part of the package. Flexibilty is also second-to-none if you like archiving material to disc as all formats are covered and partial editing in DVD-RAM is especially useful for knocking out commercials or any non-relevant material. But to get the very best out of the DMR-EX78E-K you need to use the HDMI output and attach a compatible LCD or Plasma TV, 5.1 amp and surround speaker system - what comes then is going to guarantee in an instant that this beauty won't be up for replacement in a hurry. Don't forget, DVD as a format is going to be around for some considerable time to come so it will remain invaluable until all your disks have been replaced by their Blu-Ray counterparts, but who can afford to do that? And see the price above?, it's getting cheaper all the time.

I've got three DVD/HDD units on the go at present - one is a home cinema in a box which I now use solely as my amp and speaker setup, the second is a multi-region player for imported DVDs, and the above is my pole-position kit. All Panasonic. Put simply, this is unpretentious 'high-end' technology without the accompanying 'high-end' prices. The DMR-EX78E-K delivers the goods, so the only step up from here is the step up to Hi-Definition.

UPDATE: April 2009
I bought the Panasonic DMP-BD35 from Amazon, with free Super Saver Delivery (if only I had been in - twice!) It is a superb player, Blu-Ray pictures are flawless and regular DVD upscaling is top drawer BUT the DMR-EX78E-K (above) is going nowhere. I use it to record and keep the stuff television does best and which won't necessarily be available to buy. And as such, it remains an essential and brilliant piece of kit.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 31, 2008 6:50 PM GMT


Sally Lindsay Pub Quiz DVD Game [Interactive DVD]
Sally Lindsay Pub Quiz DVD Game [Interactive DVD]
Dvd ~ Sally Lindsay
Price: £5.00

4.0 out of 5 stars MAKE SURE MINE'S A QUICK ONE, 14 April 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Okay, this is not exacty my thing but here goes. PARTY PUB QUIZ does exactly what it says on the tin. Or the box. Or the thin Amazon Vine cardboard sleeve in my case.

IT'S A PUB QUIZ FOR ALL THE FAMILY.
Sally Lindsay plays her Coronation Street character Shelley Unwin in all but name and the set is lit and populated just like its tv counterpart. (I suppose it's called 'setting the tone', so why not do it in style(?) by borrowing from the most iconic and familiar 'tone' there is?) Ah, I'm beginning to relax already. Bottle of San Miguel and a pack of dry roasted nuts, please.

TWO TEAMS PLAY AGAINST EACH OTHER.
Adults, children...Ed the Talking Horse - you name it, this game is designed to be inclusive. There's now't, I say NOW'T, about to upset anybody at this establishment, and if it does...you're barred.

YOU CAN CHEAT BY ASKING CELEBRITIES FOR THE ANSWER.
But beware - they may be wrong. If they are, you get deducted five points for cheating by the scrupulously fair yet disturbingly bubbly Sally Lindsay. (It may be worth it, however, just to see her showbiz mates in action, including Peter Kay and Jimmy Carr).

YOU CAN CHEAT BY ASKING THE BARMAN FOR AN ANSWER.
This imposter's never pulled a pint in his life. I'd ask to see his passport instead. Just in case.

YOU CAN CHEAT BY ASKING A COUPLE AT A TABLE FOR AN ANSWER.
They seem more interested in each other than helping you out of a hole, so extreme caution is advised.

THE WINNING TEAM, ER, WINS. EVERYBODY'S HAPPY AND WE'RE ALL SENT HOME AFTER LAST ORDERS WITH NO CHANCE OF A LOCK-IN.
That's about it, really. No, really, that's about it.

Okay, the graphics are cheap and cheerful and the questions aren't too patronising or obscure but the main flaw - as with all interactive dvds - is the 'seamless' branching; it's anything but. Which all makes for a very disjointed experience as music and background chatter appears and disappears faster than a Buy One Get One Free at Sainsbury's. Oh, it could be worse, much worse...the Deal or No Deal interactive dvd springs immediately to mind. Nasty.

Moving on. Perhaps it's me, but I honestly can't tell if Sally Lindsay is playing her role straight down the line or engaging in some kind of weird depressed irony. They say it's all in the eyes so maybe the slight discomfort I feel at her forced jollity is hiding an unspoken cry for help. Or maybe not. Either way, one thing's for certain: our no-nonsense hostess clearly likes a drop of the red stuff - witness the cast iron grip she exerts upon her glass every time it wavers into view.

What else? Well, technically, it's not hard to see how the whole thing hangs together. A set amount of Ms Lindsay's jolly, mildly sarcastic, totally generic comments are linked to as many questions and answers as possible and the repetition is simply a side effect of disk space not being enough to cover every game-playing permutation. It can get a bit tedious at times but it's mostly forgivable.

And that's the point. You may need a few drinks (responsibly acquired and swallowed) to get into the spirit...but when you do, it's fine. Really. So, go on, give PARTY PUB QUIZ a go. Just make sure mine's a quick one.

RECOMMENDED


No Title Available

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ALL FLUFF..., 31 Mar. 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
BRIEFLY
Doug Walker has an ear for melody and the five tracks on this sampler disc will no doubt ensure he gets acquainted with the charts.

OPINION
But if he's hoping for longevity - or at the very least to consolidate his position - he'll need to sharpen up a bit first. What these songs lack, and what they're screaming out for, is edge: the unexpected chord change that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up or the chorus that JUST FOR ONCE echewes predictability in favour of something more exciting (see COLDPLAY or KAISER CHIEFS on how to do that on a regular basis).

THE GOOD
Well sung, well-produced, highly melodic, totally inoffensive
THE BAD
Totally inoffensive, verging on bland
THE UGLY
The thought that Chris Moyles has been involved at any level

BEST TRACKS
The Mystery - despite a godawful chant - 6/10
Wealthy Man - a proper single with a bit of adrenaline pumping through its veins...proving that Doug Walker can step up if he wants - 8/10

STYLE COMPARIBLE WITH
The Feeling
Thirteen Senses
Ghosts

MOST LIKELY TARGET AUDIENCE
Over 12s, under 25s.

LIKELY ADDITIONAL AUDIENCE
Senior citizens who say "young man" a lot

CONCLUSION
Doug Walker is no Geoff Lynne, nevertheless he deserves a shot at the top. There's a not-unlikeable touch of Morten Harket in his singing and the songs are nigh-on perfect for today's market in sweet, fluffy, melodic, disposable pop music. Which is all perfectly acceptable - within those confines. But if he's to be more than a just a soft option then the magic ingredient that sets a true artist apart from his contemporaries - so often themselves clones of clones - must be acquired.

And that magic ingredient is substance.

RECOMMENDED


Rats, Ravens & Men in Black - Stranglers Tribute
Rats, Ravens & Men in Black - Stranglers Tribute
Price: £10.78

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars WAY PAST YOUR STATION, 14 Mar. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I don't usually like to tackle something I feel so negative about because a negative review tends to generate negative feedback. Oh well, there go the votes, if any...

RATS, RAVENS AND MEN IN BLACK by NO MORE HEROES is neither easy to sum up nor to categorise. Musically, it sounds like THE STRANGLERS MK1 but the vocals are decidedly off-beam. The arrangements are quite faithful but the production is lacking. Remind me again: when original recordings are readily available, easily obtained and cheap into the bargain, the point of this cd is what, exactly? In a LIVE situation, fine, the resemblances ought to be good enough to risk lacing up those Doc Martens, spiking up the hair and pogoing until senseless. And THAT, surely, is the legitimate definition for 'tribute': a homage to, or a reminder of. Job done, book the next gig. The cd on the other hand is 100% spurious - the equivalent of a Geoff Love Big Black and White Punk Rock Themes - for friends and relatives, Travel Tavern lifts and the terminally curious...it is NOT a product for the genuine 1977-1990 Stranglers fan.

What I expected, therefore, is precisely what I got and hardly the fault of NO MORE HEROES, who clearly love the band as much as I do. No, it's more a case of shame on me for choosing to go near the damn thing in the first place. I daresay we all have our own ways of preserving the memories of Hugh and the boys but, really, this shouldn't be one of them. Don't get me wrong: the merits of a touring 'tribute' band playing early to mid-period STRANGLERS material is not in question here - continued good luck, keep the spirit alive, etc, and no problem with that. As for the existence of this cd...Rola-Cola, anyone?

BEST TRACKS: None. All. Whatever.

NOT RECOMMENDED
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 8, 2009 12:37 PM BST


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