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m "macey" (United Kingdom)

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Parade - Music From The Motion Picture Under The Cherry Moon
Parade - Music From The Motion Picture Under The Cherry Moon
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tends to be unfairly forgotten, 1 Oct. 2007
Not that there is any such thing as a typical Prince album, but this album more than many of his others is a mixed bag but with some great highlights.

Originally part soundtrack to Under the Cherry Moon and part ordinary album, most fans seem to want to forget the movie association (and with some good reason) and in any event the whole thing does stand up on it's own.

Songs are either filler-style (Venus De Milo, Do U Lie?) or brilliant (Kiss, Mountains) so it can make for an uneven listen. Some songs are very slight - in terms of length and also instrumentation. For example - New Position sounds like a little experimental demo but in other places Prince gets to emotional areas in a way he very seldom does (particularly the brilliant Sometimes it Snows in April, one of his most touching songs, record with very bare instrumentation.)

Having absorbed a small horn section into `The Revolution' they are put to good use on minor classics such as Anotherloverholeinyourhead and also the very funky Girls and Boys (the only proper song to be performed in the film by Prince.)

By his own admission, there was a dearth of sufficient material to fill a full album, but if you approach it as a kind of EP, it hits all the right spots and deserves a dusting down. After this of course he gave us the Sign O the times double album, so the quality/quantity balance was restored.

This was the swansong for The Revolution and Sometimes it Snows is a fitting epitaph

Miami Vice (Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx) [DVD] [2006]
Miami Vice (Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx) [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Colin Farrell
Offered by NetsavesUK
Price: £2.40

2.0 out of 5 stars Grasping for greatness, but failing, 12 Sept. 2007
On paper this promises a lot - Mann has been on great form in recent years (Insider, Collateral etc) plus Farrell seems to be waiting for that one big successful role that will propel him into mega-stardom.

But it's a let down. Here are my main complaints (!)...

1. An opening sequence which doesn't really explain things too well and the beginnings of a story there which is simply abandoned after those first few minutes
2. Practically no rapport or sense of friendship between the two lead male roles
3. A ridiculous piece of unbelievable coincidence towards the end whereby (small spoiler alert) the police locate the kidnapped female officer - the guy might as well have looked into the camera, winked and said "Oh, I know where she'll be..."
4. The romance story ends up being the most meaningful thread of the tale - did they intend this? I don't think they did, nice though that element was.
5. Dialogue barely audible at some points, and other times characters using terminology which I guess is only understandable if you are a drug dealer or a policeman
6. Too much reliance on great visuals, not enough emphasis on good story.

This last point seems to be the key to me. Mann's films have become more (on the surface at least) visually complicated lately - this one doesn't even have any opening credits, it just chucks you in - but I think that only works with a very strong story and really big performances. Something like HEAT is almost endlessly watch-able mainly because the story is so compelling and the performances so strong, Collateral too - although that has a simpler plot.

As mentioned, the little romance story is a lovely little surprise at the heart of the film - I've never seen the actress before, but she was great, and so was Farrell, but the main story is just too loose, sprawly and to be honest, uninvolving. Like the man says: if it `ain't life and death, we don't care. Now, OK it IS life and death at some points in this film, but you see what I'm getting at - it needs to be a on a grander scale.

But Mann is determined to weave every film into a giant quilt of a drama with lots of night shots and moody dialogue and bit characters who come and go and sub-plots galore. Sometimes, like HEAT, you can't get enough and you want to wrap that quilt around you for the whole film. Here, like waking up fuzzy in the middle of the night, I was struggling to get out from under the thing.

Down The Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan
Down The Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan
by Howard Sounes
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars solid but not definitive, 11 Sept. 2007
Good, but my feeling is it rests too much on the laurels of the newly-uncovered information at the expense of covering other ground more fully. For example, the born-again period is light to say the least, and other apparently important moments seemed to get sidelined.
As often the case, there's a practically day-by-day account of Dylan during the mercurial '63-'66 period, but thereafter noticeable blank spots start to appear.
It may be that BD is too successful at keeping things under wraps, or, more plainly, that he wasn't doing anything interesting during those periods (although I find that hard to believe.) In any event, particularly during the final couple of chapters, things do tend to tail off into almost reportage and that is a shame.

What we really need is a biographer part Sounes and part Heylin, to give us the right balance of personal biography and musical assessment.

Definitely worth a read - if only because there is a lot of new info on the personal side.

The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan (Rough Guides Reference Titles)
The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan (Rough Guides Reference Titles)
by Nigel Williamson
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small and beautiful, 18 July 2007
It's only a personal prefernce but I like the smaller-sized rough guides and this one is real treat. I consider myself a big fan of BD but there's an amazing amount of detail in here that all but the most anorak bob-o-philes will not know. Lots of pictures to, discussion about albums, tours, notable people in BD's orbit, with even a little section on books and websites and the top 10 bootlegs!

A great book for the beginning fan, and sure to please the harder-core amongst fans too.

Well done rough guides!!

Serendipity [DVD] [2002]
Serendipity [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ John Cusack
Price: £2.56

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fated to be a minor classic, 11 July 2007
This review is from: Serendipity [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
OK so the rubbishy cover is going to put a few people off but this is one of those modern `romance films' which are actually quite good.
The central premise of meeting someone once and knowing they are `the one' isn't new, but it is handled very nicely here with our star-struck couple deciding to leave everything to fate, with problematic results which ensue. There are some great moments and ideas - the writing down of the phone number on the dollar bill etc but you get the sense that they weren't really sure if the whole thing would work. In my experience they always set things at Christmas if the idea is a bit quirky - a kind of `if all else fails' philosophy.

They needn't have worried - John Cusak is in his element in his niche role of the ordinary guy trying to do something extraordinary with his life. And the two supporting actors - Cusak's best friend and Beckinsale's daft eastern flute-playing boyfriend are standouts, worth an honourable mention. Beckinsale is good, but it's a hard job keeping up with Cusak on any day of the week.

All in all, very nice - and `nice' in a good way I mean. One to watch with your other half if you have one. Nice package too - commentary and feature on the making of etc.

The Holiday [DVD] [2006]
The Holiday [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Cameron Diaz
Price: £2.40

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Guilty Pleasure, 9 July 2007
This review is from: The Holiday [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Like a box of chocolates kept all to yourself, this film is a guilty pleasure. If you can get over the slightly unbelievable elements - Kate Winslet left on the shelf for example, there's a lot to like here. It is quite atmospheric and seasonal - the little house where Winslet's character lives belongs on a postcard. One of the biggest shocks for me was the like-ability - I'll say it again LIKE-ABILITY of Jude Law.

Not being a fan of his -hats off here to him for pulling off something in the way of Hugh Grant in `Four Weddings' for sheer English affability - he really does leave you smiling.

Like I said, you have to ignore some of the daft elements - for example no-one, although they all have jobs, seems to do a stroke of work (I kept expecting to see the cast of `Friends' come in!) and Jack Black, although never unlike-able just doesn't really sit right in his part.
And I think the writers need a slap on the wrist for using a sub-plot about an old screenwriter reluctantly accepting an award from the writers guild (!) Check those egos boys, there are other stories to be told...

But in the end it all ties up and leaves you feeling warm and happy. It's not a film designed to provoke, inform or incite, but we can all do with a break once in a while.

The Last King of Scotland [DVD] [2006]
The Last King of Scotland [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Forest Whitaker
Price: £2.40

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but..., 25 Jun. 2007
There is much to recommend here, but I was a bit disappointed in some respects. The central character was too...ambiguous. The move from ethically driven and humanitarian doctor in far off lands, to hard drinking, morally compromised laky of Amin just seemed too quick. He just didn't seem that nice a person! And we like our heroes to be nice, don't we?

Were it not a true story, then the level of disbelief on this point would almost be fatal to the film.

Needless to say, Forrest Whitakker is great, but I was expecting a much larger role for Gillian Anderson given her billing on the DVD box! Her role was tiny compared to the blurb!

There is a great story here, but the problem seems to be the very fact that it is based on real events. A fictional work like, say, Training Day can hit deeper because it can explore all elements for a story like this, without having to worry about straying too far from `what really happened.'

Worth a watch.

Die Hard Trilogy (6 Disc Collector's Edition) [DVD]
Die Hard Trilogy (6 Disc Collector's Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bruce Willis
Offered by sierrabogart
Price: £9.00

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Now I have a box set...ho ho ho, 25 Jun. 2007
It is one of the great mysteries of our time, up there with `why does the toast always land butter-side down' or `why do the really big direct-debits hit my account just before I get paid and have no money in it?' Why are the Die Hard sequels not as good as the first one? Much as we love them, cherish them, we know in our heart of hearts that they just don't quite reach the fab-ness of movie numero uno.

`Die Hard II - Die Harder' established the problem clearly: how can you spend more money doing the same thing but bigger, and yet still have lesser results? Bruce is still there, still kicking ass, still `Yippee Kaya-ing' and the effects are still great. Plus - the old Hollywood failsafe (at least for me!): it's still set at Christmas time. Money in the bank, right? Hmm...

I think the answer must be this: the problem lies with the relatively unrepeatable scenario and story of the first film. It is both blessing and curse in one. Whilst brilliant, well acted, irreverent in places and if not wholly original then certainly fresh, there are certain key elements which the sequels, to their detriment, have not been able to utilise. But it's only when you watch the films in close proximity - which this box set allows you to do, that it's possible to fully appreciate the problem: most of the things which made the first film so much fun would have been impossible to repeat without leaving us the viewers feeling short-changed.

It's counter-intuitive in a way because on paper, you should almost be able to shoe-horn John McClane into any decent action script and, with some work, turn it into a DIE HARD MOVIE.

But, consider the elements of the first film which made it so appealing:

The confined space

The larger than life baddy

The time-pressure factor

The wife in jeopardy element

The great character actors

The seasonal setting

And you start to see, whilst they were able to include some of these in the sequels, to have included ALL of them would simply have been too much. `Hang on' we would have shouted from the aisles `we've seen this before - we want the same - but different!'

The thing is, we the audience were probably never going to accept our hero in the same set of circumstances - the whole point of the first film was the unique-ness of it's setting. After that, whilst DH 2 tried to imply some of the elements of the first, you can see how creative hands were tied.

By the time of DH 3 John McClane was pretty much a run-of-mill action character, with a few passing references to the events of the first film (giving us a vague sense of continuity) but basically inhabiting an action role feels like it could be played by any number of established stars.

The whole charm of the first film was as much the character of the hero as the setting but it seems that the two could not really be separated.

There's still a lot to enjoy in the two sequels and the extras are generous - commentaries for each, documentaries. The third film too, is a `grower', great story that it is (although not written as a DH film per se, the writer was a self-confessed mega-fan.)

Secret Wars TPB (Graphic Novel Pb)
Secret Wars TPB (Graphic Novel Pb)
by Jim Shooter
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revisit those childhood days!, 2 Mar. 2007
OK, so I'm actually 33 years old BUT! I have very fond memories of getting the original comics when I was small and thrilled I was to see this collected edition by Marvel available.

Eventually I convinced myself to order it without shame (old as I am now) and am glad I did. The memories came flooding back. How clearly I remembered some of the story threads and scenes. Looking back, what a big leap this was for Marvel, an epic-style story involving all their main characters. The art still looks great and the quality of the paper is good too. True, expository dialogue is everywhere ("thank goodness my ion-clocking shield device protects me from this vicious laser attack" etc) and seemingly every sentence ends with an exclamation mark! Which! After a while! Sends you mad!

But I suppose that is part of the charm.

It was a grand vision. Also to note - I was partly confusing in my mind this series with what is apparently the SECOND series (i.e. "Secret Wars II") where the Beyonder actually turns up on earth, but that is not part of this series, so I will have to track that down separately.

No extra bits or essays - perhaps that would be a bit pretentious given the straight ahead action-fun core of the story. If you want deep, buy Alan Moore, but if you want nostalgia, you could do a lot worse.

Outrage: the Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got away with Murder
Outrage: the Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got away with Murder
by Vincent Bugliosi
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely Compelling, 28 Feb. 2007
I totally recommend this book to anyone with an interest in this case. If like me you were only aware of the trial in a general way and not really sure what to make of the verdict, this is for you.

I read the author's book on his Manson prosecution and if you've read that, you know that you are in safe hands. His simple Hemmingway-esque style conveys with clarity what went wrong, when it went wrong, and how it went wrong. Bugliosi is clearly on a mission, of that there can be no doubt - and there are the occasional tirades that the reader must endure but, as he reminds us, this case was about the TWO VICTIMS and their killer.

Time and again jaw dropping facts are succinctly put forward which build toward the irrefutable conclusion: justice was not done.

Bugliosi is a master at showing us that it was not - as history would suggest - the skills of the defence that won the day, but the failures of the prosecution. Infact, the defence are exposed as only a step up from the weavers of the emperors new clothes - making bold assertions and claims about prejudice and evidence contamination and frame-up for which no evidence was ever actually produced. The astounding hoodwinking they pulled over the jury, and the judges or prosecutions inability or unwillingness to do anything about it is the single most shocking thing in the book. That or the statements of the jurors after the trial.

True, Bugliosi is a feted criminal lawyer who knows his stuff inside out, and it is easy to criticise with hindsight, and you get the feeling that few can measure up to his high standards, but the truth of the matter is that one failure and/or mistake built up upon another and another until...the inevitable verdict.

Bugliosi bookends the start and end of the book with discussions about incompetence in society generally and thoughts about God (respectively) and although these are digressions, they are still within the spirit of the book as a whole.

But don't take it from me - make your own mind up when you've read it.

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