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Ring (1998) [DVD] [2000]
Ring (1998) [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Nanako Matsushima
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.73

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb Ghost Story!, 22 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Ring (1998) [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
Of late, I have become a little jaded with the usual hollywood horror films, which have spawned other 'ironic' pastiches, and spoofs. To say the word 'formulaic' is flattery. For this reason, I heard that Hollywood was re-making this film, and felt that I had to see the original as I had heard a few things about it.
What I got was a very intense and incredible film, which chose to scrap all the Hollywood rules of what should make a good horror film, and has made something much better!
Many people will not like it. It is not an action-filled rollercoaster of a ride. It is instead, a well-paced, well-shot tale that has you guessing and hanging on and holding your breath, so that when the inevitable does happen, it creates an indelible image that you can't get out of your head long after the end credits appear.
The basis on the story involves an urban legend about a strange video recording that causes the viewer to receive a phone call after watching it and mysteriously die a week later.
A reporter delves into the legend after a niece dies from the video, and discovers a dark story centering around a young girl called Sadako.
The acting is brilliant - subdued and enigmatic glances suggest more than the words, even Sadako's appearance in a white silk dress and her hair over her face appears more menacing than any guy in a 'Scream' outfit.
Above all, however, this film works mostly because it is unashamedly original. If you can watch the film, and then see the footage included in the DVD afterwards, make sure you don't pick up the phone afterwards.

Kung Pow - Enter the Fist [2002] [DVD]
Kung Pow - Enter the Fist [2002] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Steve Oedekerk
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £4.16

3 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks a Punch, 21 Jan. 2003
I'll admit that spoofs are not usually to my taste, but I believe I have got a varied (and sometimes twisted) sense of humour. I also love old cheezy kung-fu movies, even the bad ones! So to see a spoof mixing the two genres together may not be the most original concept (people have been spoofing kung-fu since 'They Call Me Bruce!', back in the '70's) but the added twist of taking a genuine kung-fu film, and then inserting other scenes, actors and dialogue with very clever use of computer-generated graphics is a good idea.
The plot (if it's any surprise), is about a man who's parents were killed by his sworn enemy (Master Pain, in this case). He also happens to be 'the chosen one' and seeks to avenge blah blah blah.
There are some good points to the film - the computer-intergration is almost seemless - you can't work out who is an actor in the original, and who has been added to the film. Also, some of the fight scenes, including a memorable scrap in a meadow with a cow (worth a extra star just for that!), have some great moments of hilarity.
However... (draws breath)
The film is just not funny. First of all, there's a lot of repeated jokes that weren't even funny the first time. The dubbing is intentionally poor (naturally), but the script is very very forgettable. Sometimes the jokes go on for too long, and sometimes, the humour borders on the weird. (a woman with one breast?? Weird or funny? You decide!) - Most of the jokes seem to be written for kids under the age of 8.
If you have enjoyed kung-fu spoofs in the past, and you still split your sides if someone says 'plop-plops' you'll want to watch this film. If you're in the mood for a "totally zany madcap spoof caper"-type film, get something by Mike Myers or Jim Carrey instead of this...!

Dogma [DVD] [1999]
Dogma [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Ben Affleck
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.08

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and thought-provoking at the same time, 19 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Dogma [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
I'm not sure how many people have ever questioned religion, rather than just accept the brainwashing that they receive from their years in school. However, if I could, I would broadcast many of the monologues on TV right after 'Songs of Praise' on a Sunday morning (probably minus the profanity) in an anarchic fugue, just to see how many blue-rinsed old ladies would re-assess their faith.
Kevin Smith's Dogma wrestles with some heavy religious issues in one of the unlikeliest places on earth - New Jersey! Two outcast Angels, Bartleby and Loki discover a loophole in God's decree that will enable them to re-enter heaven, simply by walking through the doors of a church in New Jersy. However, as God is infallible, this causes a paradox that will cause existence to collapse upon itself. Don't worry if this is confusing - it's only the plot.
Meanwhile, oblivious to the impending catastrophe, Bethany is visited by the Metatron (What do you mean you've never heard of him? The Metatron is the voice of God!) who charges her with a mission - namely to stop the two angels from entering the church.
Along the way, Bethany is accompanied by two 'prophets', namely Jay and Silent Bob, (who provide more profanity and controversy to the film than the whole 'Organised Religion is Dumb' viewpoint), the thirteenth apostle Rufus, who was left out of the bible beause he was black (played by Chris Rock), and Serendipidy, a muse who opted for a life on earth and ended up as a dancer in a strip-joint. As if that wasn't bad enough, Bethany's journey also has various obstacles, one of them in the form of a demon, Azrael and his three pre-pubescent grunged-out lesser demons.
There's loads of swearing, violence, full frontal nudity (mercifully, however, angels don't have genetalia), fire, brimstone, and an actual message to the masses about what the Christian religion has mutated into in the last 2000 years. Despite this, however, (or in addition to it, depending on the sort of film you watch), it still maintains a refreshingly honest and ironic look at Christian values, and the Church, without actually insulting Christianity. In other words, God is Good, but the it's priests are the ones who wear the dresses and make the rules in his name). Regardless of whether you want a thought-provoking film, or a brainless comedy, Dogma is definitely worth a look.

Ghost World [DVD] [2001]
Ghost World [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Thora Birch
Price: £0.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The world through non-tinted Glasses, 19 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Ghost World [DVD] [2001] (DVD)
When I first watched the opening sequence to the film, I thought that someone had switched the films in the box - I was greeted by a brash '60's Cuban/Bollywood kitsch dance routine. About 40 seconds later, the viewpoint changed to a window-view of isolated individuals in their apartments, ending up, focusing on the heroine of the story, Enid, dancing around in her bedroom to the music.
Enid, and her best friend Rebecca, graduate from high-school into the world with a sarcstic and arrogant attitude about the people who co-habit the city with them. They have an opinion about everything, and are not afraid to vocalise their contempt, and make mockery out of life in general. One incident, however, backfires on Enid, when she spots a personals ad in the paper from a man who is searching for someone he met once in an airport(Seymour). She makes a prank call to observe him at the meeting point that she has set up, but begins to develop the first pangs of consiense when she sees him.
In her bid to make a conection, and to discover something different to the current 'fad', Enid discovers a kindred spirit in Seymour, particularly with the music. Seymour may be an introverted misfit, but he also has a spurious view on the idiots that he co-habits the planet with, choosing to spurn a puerile social life and replace it by obsessively collecting old vinyl singles.
As the film progresses, it focuses on Enid's relationships with people and the world around her as the comfortable buffer-zone of high-school retracts and the cocky opinionated young girl begins to adapt to her new place in the world.
Ghost World works very well, because the film adapts with Enid's transgression. Part of her rebels at every trite comment made, and sees a world filled with losers and geeks. Another part of her is trying to conform to this society in some way or else she will become one of these losers.
Personally, I felt that on occasion, the film would lose itself, and on occasion, seemed to get drawn out into scenes where nothing of interest or consequence was conveyed. However, there are some brilliant performances that more than compensate, the characters are well-placed and tragi-comic, from the opinionated art-teacher who seems not to have a clue,the old guy at the out-of-service bus terminal who is waiting for the bus, and the man who uses an Apple Mac to solve the trivia question of the day in a local cafe, up to the main characters themselves.
Ghost World is not a roller-coaster of hilarity, but rather, a wry, enjoyable look at adulthood from a novice adult.

Cube [DVD] [1998]
Cube [DVD] [1998]
Dvd ~ Nicole de Boer
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £8.38

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A puzzling Cube of a different sort..., 19 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Cube [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
Usually the words 'low-budget horror' evoke images of chainsaw-wielding psychos and teenage kids trapped in isolated houses, with close-up shots of mannequin arms and heads smothered in tomato ketchup. The Cube, however, is a film that dares to buck the trend, and tries to give us a film that has more depth and purpose.
Despite laying out the plot of six people trapped in a giant deadly Rubiks Cube, with very sparse information as to how they got there, who built it, and why, the real pleasure of the film is the 'lab-rat' element of how these people react to each-other and their circumstances as they discover more about their environment.
The acting varies from strong and convincing to hammy and OTT (particularly from the alpha-male Cop). Much has been mentioned about the opening sequence to the film, and I agree that it has the double effect of grabbing the viewer's attention, and establishing one ground rule to surviving the cube (watch out!!)
The story of how these stereotypical misfits (each with an unknown skill that can contribute to their escape) develop and assume roles in the group is fascinating, particularly as the seeds of contempt, paranoia, and despair set in. There are a lot of emotions at play here, and some are brutally stark, like in William Golding's Lord of the Flies. Some of the scenes convey menace purely on camera-work alone, and some other well written scenes switch the tension in a heartbeat.
Despite this, the Cube does suffer from poorly-written dialogue. Many times, the writer is conveying credible and valid viewpoints of society, conspiracy-theories, and mathematical conundrums, yet some of the lines, delivered at the worst times by the worst actors ruins the whole effect of the film. In addition, the ending was so bad that I felt cheated, firstly by its implausability, and secondly, because it was badly handled, being just an excuse to 'wrap it up and ship it out'. I'd strongly recommend that anyone who watches Cube for the first time switch off the DVD about 5 minutes towards the end, and make up their own ending in order to get their full money's worth, as the only thing they'll remember was how bad the ending was, and not so much how thrilling and intriguing the film was.

The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best book in the series!, 16 Jan. 2003
I was bound to love this book! I waited four years for it! I reread the first two books to refresh the story in my head for when it was released, and I pestered bookshops on a weekly basis for a release date.
The Wastelands brings back the boy, Jake in a plot that truly displays the wonder of King's imagination, and the first true steps of the troupe's journey are taken. King's best fiction is in the slow madness of Jake, (a boy who has already died twice), but also of the Gunslinger, who's mind is being torn apart by a paradox that the gunslinger has created.
More intrigues of Roland's world are revealed, including the Beam, a single rose which exists in a development lot in Manhattan, a descendant of a German WWII fighter pilot and even a drum loop of ZZ-Top's 'velcro Fly' elevated to idol worship form yet more reference points to our world. King even starts to hint at his other novels (The Turtle in 'IT', and the priest ... in 'Salem's Lot')...

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)
The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very promising start to an epic tale, 15 Jan. 2003
From the first sentence of the first page, Stephen King outclasses himself as a bestselling writer. I wouldn't say I'm his biggest fan, but the Dark Tower series is a very absorbing epic that not only draws you in, but leaves you willing to hang on for six years for the next installment.
The story itself focuses on the strange world that is inhabited by Roland, an outcast gunslinger on a quest to reach the Dark Tower - more than just a structure, the Dark Tower represents a nexus in time and space...a pivot point which runs through all universes. Throuought, King makes subtle references to show that this world (Gilead) is also somehow entwined with our own.
Gilead is a bizarre place, a hybrid of Arthurian legend and spaghetti westerns - we learn a little of the main character, and of a significant event involving a boy who he meets on the way to the Tower.
King has used a variety of tricks to intrigue the reader, for instance, we are told at the climax of the first episode that "Roland had to make the second most difficult decision of his life", and the scene involving a tarot card reading that will introduce new and more fantastic concepts to be brought in with the second book.
The Gunslinger is a surprisingly thin Stephen King book. While this may disappoint the average Stephen King reader, it probably was an enticement to many light readers. The problem is it's so good, that all but the most infrequent of readers will most likely find themselves being absorbed by this book.

by Clive Barker
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be reviewed as a quartet, 14 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Abarat (Hardcover)
Abarat will most probably be overshadowed by thw Harry Potter series, and possibly butchered by the Disney franchise, but if the rest of the quartet is anything like this book, it will be well worth the wait for all four books of the Quartet to surface.
The ingerdients are there, the main characters introduced, the landscape for the adventure is laid out in incredible detail (Including a 'travel guide' at the appendix of the book), the intrigues are laid out and the enigmatic references and hints of what's to come are seeded well.Add to that the gorgeous colourful pictures and you have a very promising start to a tale told by Clive Barker.
I did feel slightly cheated at the end, as there was no real resolution to the first part of the quartet, however. It would have been a better experience if it didn't feel like it was coming to an abrupt end. Of course, to know that this is just one of a series of books is hardly a criticism, but there was no completion of an episode.
Regardless of whatever people say, I bet everyone who's read the first book will certainly read the next book in the quartet, and that in my mind is probably the greatest commendation that I can give out.

Flying In A Blue Dream
Flying In A Blue Dream
Price: £5.25

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immensely beautiful and diverse, 14 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Flying In A Blue Dream (Audio CD)
I'll admit that I have been a guitarist for many years. Satriani has been one of my main influences, so please indulge some gushing on my part...
Flying in a Blue Dream is not just a great album for aspiring 'shred' guitarists, but contains some of Satriani's most emotive and skillful moments. Most of what Satriani does involves playing as fast as possible, which usually brings to mind some '80's poodle-haired rock-star. However, from the opening bars of the first song, you hear something more worthy of that image. Several songs are straight-forward rock, but others show admirable innovation in guitar playing. He also writes powerful music, and unlike other 2000 notes per second guitarists, has a rare ability to know when to slow down and get several nuances out of just one note. (but then again, you can get all that off just about any Satriani album.)
What makes Flying.. so special is the scope of it. The overall genre is rock, but Joe introduces new ideas, and playing styles that lend an air of maturity to his 'surf' rock songs and previous albums. My only quibbles are the odd few numbers where Joe sings, but then again, allow the man a few eccentricities.
It's not only a classic record to own amongst guitarists, Flying... is a fantastic example that not all rock guitarists want to play 3 minute 'Spinal Tap' solos to mundane cliched pop/metal songs.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy
The Illuminatus! Trilogy
by Robert Anton Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.13

17 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Experimental writing that just seems to confuse, 14 Jan. 2003
After having read many of Wilson & Shea's previous conspiracy theory styled novels (sadly no longer published), and considering that I'm a sucker for big, weighty novels, I was expecting to enjoy this book. Unfortunately, either I found the book being too clever, or just plain idiotic.
The written style of the book, and the plot, seem to flow spontaneously from many points in many directions. Any attempt on the reader's part to grasp a single storyline within the book was denied thanks to divergences in time and/or perspective.
Wilson's ideas about the conspiracy below the surface of what we perceive as society are plentiful, and as always, can be either very tounge-in-cheek, or horrifyingly believable. The theories themselves are very well researched and form the bulk of what the book contains. In spite of this, Wilson does enjoy the odd mind-game. He changes the point of view very rapidly, and at some stages, offers his own ironic criticism of the book through the eyes of two publicists who appear in the pages of the book, who are just happening to review it. Also, the sex scenes are overlong and add nothing to the story other than to suggest that the author either wanted to 'spice it up' or wanted to take a break from writing about the A/A/A.
To sum it up, it's a bit like hearing an overlong joke in a pub, being told by someone who keeps leaving bits out, then later adding 'Oh, by the way...' and filling in the parts as the joke is being told, losing the punchline in the middle, and taking the odd diversion by suddenly describing what he did to his wife, how many times, and in what position.
The book is a bit of a mess, and only fairly rewarding. If you can sift through the tons of chaff, you will be rewarded with entertaining and enlightening opinions on what runs the planet, but sometimes, the book is just too clever for it's own good.

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