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Elke Notlit (Germany)
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Blue Valentine [DVD]
Blue Valentine [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ryan Gosling
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.77

2 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unconvincing clash of ideas, 13 July 2011
This review is from: Blue Valentine [DVD] (DVD)
In some ways BLUE VALENTINE is two films. On the one hand is a naturalistic look at what happens when a relationship breaks down. On the other (told in flashback) it's a sort of quirky romantic comedy that tells the well-worn story of kooky, lost girl finds equally lost guy: together they compliment each other and live happily ever after... except in this case we know they don't.

And that's essentially what's wrong with the film. It's a clash of ideas but writer/director Derek Cianfrance can't resolve that clash in any meaningful way.

By definition rom-coms are a type of wish fulfilment fantasy (think of something like LOVE ACTUALLY - where the PM falls for the tea girl). They work perfectly within their own context but held up to realistic analysis fail dismally. And it's the naturalism of the second strand that forces the viewer to consider the whole realistically. I was left utterly confused as to what I was watching. Or how I was supposed to.

Although the acting is first-rate, this is also a deeply uncomfortable film to sit through. The rawness of the split up was too much for me. Add in some gratuitous sex scenes and implausibilities (if an ex-boyfriend of mine asked if I was unfaithful to my husband I'd be deeply offended not coquettish) and the result is a film that fails to convince or engage.

I suppose BLUE VALENTINE wants its cake and to eat it too. It might have worked well either as an off-beat romantic comedy or as a serious drama, but by combining the two it fails at both.


The Way Back [DVD]
The Way Back [DVD]
Dvd ~ Colin Farrell
Price: £2.93

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational tale of physical & spiritual endurance, 4 July 2011
This review is from: The Way Back [DVD] (DVD)
I first came across THE LONG WALK - and the controversy about its veracity - several years ago on Radio 4. So when I heard Peter Weir was basing a film on the story I knew I'd have to see it - even if I've waited till DVD.

The result is an engaging and visually impressive, if ultimately flawed, work.

The most striking thing is its cinematography. It's no wonder that THE WAY BACK was part funded by National Geographic. There are some beautiful landscape shots photographed by Russell Boyd, with director Weir referencing everything from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA to his own GALLIPOLI. It's not just landscapes, however - elsewhere there are other striking images, such as the snow masks cut from wood.

It's also an exhausting film. The pace is often elegiac and as the characters walk from Siberia to India, this viewer felt worn to her joints (especially in the gruelling desert scene). It's hard to imagine that human beings could endure such privitations. The result is deeply absorbing; I felt drawn into the narrative

Nevertheless, the film does have its faults. Ed Harris and Jim Sturgess are both watchable but the supporting cast are not well drawn enough. I didn't even know their names, a problem exacerbated by their physical similarities. I also felt the film was let down by the ending which is weak and rather unsatisfying. The result of these criticisms is that THE WAY BACK isn't as emotional as it should be.

That aside, this is an inspiration tale of physical and spiritual endurance; one to watch when you feel like getting away from the rat-race, or are in quiet and reflective mood.


The Child that Books Built
The Child that Books Built
by Francis Spufford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 11 May 2011
I bought this after reading enthusiastic reviews of it in 'The Economist' and 'Times'. That was in 2002. I'm currently having a sort out of my library so have only now got round to reading it. I have to say it wasn't worth the wait. The subject matter may be full of potential but the result was disappointing.

Of the same generation as Spufford, I was always a voracious reader as a child - but hadn't even heard of (let alone read) half the books discussed here; as corollary too much of the material was meaningless to me. I also agree with a previous reviewer that the book is too academic at the expense of the joy of childhood reading and literature. Nor did the memoir element resonate with me.

Throw in Spufford's rather self-pleased tone and the result is - I'm sorry to say - a dull and ultimately irritating book.


Hush Puppies Freya, Women's Court Shoes
Hush Puppies Freya, Women's Court Shoes

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make me feel like I'm in Wonderland!, 2 May 2011
I' m more for one to buy shoes on the basis of comfort and practicality - but I love ALICE IN WONDERLAND so when I saw these couldn't resist buying a pair.

I bought them in the black patent and they are absolutely gorgeous. The attention to detail is wonderful - from the tiny hearts that line the edge of the shoes to the triple straps and heart/paisley interior; even the sole has a flower shape on it. The heel is a decent height (a couple of inches) without being ridiculous or difficult to walk on. The hearts on the trim are cut-outs - so you can either wear black tights underneath to hide them - or something with some colour to highlight them. White ankle socks work a treat and make me feel even more like I'm in Wonderland!

As you'd expect from Hush Puppies they are really comfortable (so tick my functionality box) with a well padded sole and plenty of room round the toe. I recently wore them to an event when I was on my feet most of the day and I felt fine throughout. As the previous reviewers stated, you only need to undo one of the buckles to be able to take them on/off, so they're not as fiddly as they look. The straps themselves feel sturdy despite the dainty appearance - so should last.

Combining a beautiful aesthetic with durability and comfort, I can see these shoes destined to become one of my favourites. They also make my calves look great. What more could I ask?


Inception
Inception
Price: £7.25

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Time' in my head, 21 April 2011
This review is from: Inception (Audio CD)
Film scores generally come in two forms. The tracks either follow the film chronologically or you're offered a selection of the music ordered in a concert-like fashion by the composer/producer. The INCEPTION CD is in the latter camp.

And that's why I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5. I was hoping to follow the music exactly as it is in the film. I find this is a perfect way to 're-watch' the movie in your head without being distracted by the pictures.

Aside from this one criticism, this is a very good, haunting score.
I often find Hans Zimmer's music a bit samey but here he has written some startlingly original music combining pounding percussion with Jonny Marr on the guitar and a range of synthesised sounds. In places it made me think of BLADE RUNNER and, appropriately enough, TOTAL RECALL.

The most effective tracks are 'Dream is Collapsing' and the wonderful 'Time'. It was this latter track that convinced me to buy the CD as I couldn't get it out of my head after seeing the film. 'Mombassa' is good too - though I suggest you don't play it in the car as it might cause you to press a bit too hard on the accelerator!

One other omission. I was hoping that the CD would include the full version of Edith Piaf's wonderful 'Je ne regrette rein'. But it doesn't, which is a shame.


The Tenderness of Wolves
The Tenderness of Wolves
by Stef Penney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This just didn't work for me..., 4 Mar. 2011
I wrote this review ages ago... but for some reason it got deleted off the system. Am trying again...

It's not often I feel compelled to write a review, but TENDERNESS OF WOLVES (TOW) roused me sufficiently to submit one.

Having read the other reviews on Amazon (as well as in the press) I don't know if I'm missing some subtle point but I thought the book was dire. I really wanted to like it, but it just didn't work for me. Too many characters (most of whom I didn't care in the slightest about); too many sub-plots (several of which lead nowhere); too many red herrings (that lead to a lack of focus - the bone tablet, for instance, is pursued throughout only to be literally lost at the end); too many point of view shifts (in places the POV was like trying to hold a fish with well-oiled hands; and utterly confusing).

The consequence of all this is that I felt the pace was ponderous. Normally I read every day, but with TOW I found I could put it down on a Monday and forget about it till the end of the week. I also felt it was completely emotionally unengaging - always a fatal flaw. I just didn't care what happened to the characters.

I will admit it is well written and researched - but even these positives have a self-conscious quality to them which I found distracting. The writing is too obviously clever in my opinion.

Although personally glad that Stef Penney won the Costa (how could you not be for a debut novelist?), I am astounded that her book beat William Boyd's Restless - a much more satisfying novel. Maybe it's just down to personal preferences.

So sorry, but I just didn't like this at all...


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