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A. Willard (Kent, England)

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Frantic [DVD] [1988]
Frantic [DVD] [1988]
Dvd ~ Harrison Ford
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.71

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Have you and your wife been to Paris before?, 8 April 2010
This review is from: Frantic [DVD] [1988] (DVD)
A Doctor and his wife visit Paris on a business trip. She gets kidnapped. He tries to find her - but he doesn't speak much French.

There! Nice simple synopsis. Of course what happens after that is the important thing - what does happen after that? I must have seen this film 3 or 4 times and each time when the actual `plot' turns up I think `Oh yeah, that's what it's all about!'. You see it doesn't matter - `Frantic' is not a `why' film, it's a `how' film or even a `what' film, as in `What the ---- is going on?' It's not a thriller - it's a comedy. It's Polanski having a laugh at the expense of Yanks abroad and Arabs abroad and basically anyone who's not from Paris trying to get things done in Paris.

Aside maybe from `The Mosquito Coast', it's my favourite Harrison Ford performance. I'm not, I must confess, his biggest fan, but his look of angry bafflement as he receives no help from U.S. Embassy officials or French police is a joy. The scene where he slips and slides around on the sloping roof also shows a real gift for physical comedy. Emmanuelle Seigner is also perfect as the French girl who `helps' him. I think she's Polanski's embodiement of Paris; irritating, pretentious, shallow, but also beautiful, charming and sexy. She's got it all.

There are some terrific scenes; Ford's adventures on the roof as mentioned above, him trying to `buy' drugs in the nightclub, and, best of all, Ford and Seigner `dancing' in the second nightclub towards the end - a wonderfully funny scene.

There's no getting away from it - the ending jars and, to me, stops it from being a `great' film, but it's still hugely enjoyable and never fails to raise a smile.

Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.25

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've seen this happen in other people's lives and now it's happening in mine, 5 April 2010
This review is from: Singles (Audio CD)
The Smiths never meant that much to me - they were a little after my time, but I always enjoyed their singles. I did try a couple of albums; `Meat Is Murder' and `Strangeways' but somehow that was just too much Smiths.

The real fan won't want this album but for the casual dipper it's perfect. I never found Morrissey particularly depressing - amusing certainly - but not depressing. Most of the time he's taking the mick isn't he? `Now I know how Joan of Arc felt', `Hang the DJ', `Girlfriend in a Coma', come on he's taking the mick and very droll it is too. What a talent that feller Marr was and, let's be honest, how disappointing his subsequent career has been.

There are some great songs on here, almost too many to mention, but a special huzzah! for `Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' (tell me he's not taking the mick), `William It Was Really Nothing', `That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore', `Boy With The Thorn In His Side' and `There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' (a geniunely moving song); all of them terrific and a must for anyone's collection.

Heaven [DVD] [2002]
Heaven [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Cate Blanchett
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £8.47

8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Far from Heaven, 3 April 2010
This review is from: Heaven [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
An Englishwoman living and teaching in Italy attempts to assassinate (by bomb) the man she thinks is the drug-dealer responsible for the deaths of her husband and pupil. The bomb misses its target and instead kills four innocents (including two children) and she is arrested.

There's the plot - sounds quite good doesn't it? Well it's not - it's tripe.

Where to start. Philippa (Cate Blanchett) `finds' the bomb in her apartment (ho hum). She's arrested by police and then discovers that her plan has gone wrong and she has killed innocent people (she hasn't bothered watching the news?). The interpreter in her interrogation, (presumably as a teacher living and working in Italy her Italian is quite good?), Filippo (gosh see how similar their names are!), falls in love with her and helps her to escape. They run off together to rural Italy, where they disguise themselves as a pair of identical butch Lesbians (that should go unnoticed!), and then something happens with a helicopter.

I'm amazed the Italian police didn't sue; according to this they make the Keystone Cops look like Mossad. Blanchett is at her most po-faced and Giovanni Ribisi, who was incredibly annoying in the remake of `Flight Of The Phoenix', is incredibly annoying here as well.

Maybe I'm not romantic or soulful enough (always a possiblity), but I thought this was awful.
Italy looks beautiful, of course, but you'd have to work pretty hard to make it look otherwise.
I know the plot's not supposed to be the most important thing here - but really, you've got to have something to hang your hat on, haven't you?

True History of the Kelly Gang
True History of the Kelly Gang
by Peter Carey
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars True said he your ma is your donah as everybody knows., 31 Mar. 2010
When I were a young man (a long time ago...) I read a great short story by Peter Carey, `War Crimes' it was called, and I've had an on/off relationship with him ever since. I thought his first novel `Bliss' was superb but he lost me with `Illywhacker' which I found rather dull. I've dipped in and out ever since (must read `Oscar And Lucinda' again - couldn't make my mind up about it first time around), but this is a fine novel by an obviously hugely talented writer.

Ned Kelly certainly deserves something a bit better than Mick Jagger or Heath Ledger (not that it was really the late Mr Ledger's fault - it was just a pretty rubbishy film) and here he gets a worthy memorial.

The story is told in Kelly's words and, once you get the rhythm, is easy to follow. It doesn't seem particularly anti-English to me; rather it's the eternal story of the poor being persecuted by the rich if they get too `uppish'. Class rather than nationality is the issue.

Kelly is given sympathetic treatment but is not let off altogether. The murders at Stringybark Creek are understandable but, nevertheless, brutal, and Kelly's relationship with his mother is a little odd to put it mildly.

It goes on a little too long and Mary, Kelly's girlfriend, is not particularly well drawn but Carey's ability to create a world through a first-person narrative is very good indeed.

The Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot
The Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot
Price: £6.38

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Zoot Horn Rollo - hit that long lunar note - and let it float, 28 Mar. 2010
For those of you unsure of how to approach the good Captain - this is the place to start. Two great albums in one - what more could you ask for? Apart maybe from `Safe As Milk' these are his most commercial albums, and none the worse for that. I love `Trout Mask Replica' as much as the next man (well not him, maybe the one next to him), but it's not actually an album I play much as a whole, just bits and pieces now and then.

`The Spotlight Kid' doesn't seem to get much love but it's pretty damn fine by me. It's a short, cool, less frenetic album than most of the Captain's other work; it needs a couple of listens but virtually everything on it is worth the trouble. Particular favourites are `White Jam', `Blabber `n' Smoke', `Stacks', `Click Clack' and that ode to a Mermaid `Grow Fins'.

`Clear Spot' however is right up there in my all-time top ten albums. A fantastic blend of blues, soul and funk slashed through with surrealistic wit and played by, in my opinion, the greatest ever Magic Band. It's their dance album! (though, admittedly, dancing to `Golden Birdies' may be a little difficult...). It's produced by Ted Templeman who produced an awful lot of old tat in his career but was also the man behind the knobs on Little Feat's `Sailin' Shoes' which, if not quite in my top ten, is certainly in my top twenty, so I'll forgive him Van Halen.

The album starts off pretty well and just gets better and better. The last 7 tracks are just greatness piled upon greatness; lots of great singing, slide-guitaring, drumming - there's even a ballad! If you're thinking of taking a leap of faith then I strongly urge you to do so, and just remember, `Women like long neck bottles, And a big head on their beer'.

There Will Be Blood (Single Disc Edition) [DVD]
There Will Be Blood (Single Disc Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Day-Lewis
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £2.89

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That was one goddamn helluva show., 25 Mar. 2010
Pretentious boring drivel? One of the greatest films of the last decade? Who knows - I'm very much in the latter camp but even I can see that there are real problems with this movie.

For one I think it should be longer (I know as if two and a half hours isn't enough!), but the sudden jump to Plainview lurking in his mansion for the last reel is, for me, just too sudden. The final split with his 'son', while being chilling, just doesn't seem to ring true with what's gone on before. Also I have a bit of an issue with Paul Dano; mostly it's a very fine performance but when he gets excited and starts shouting or screaming he ends up sounding a little too much like Stan Laurel. Also the soundtrack - a little too much dissonance at times, it gets a little distracting.

But having said all that I think this is a great film with a capital G. There are just so many great scenes. The opening `wordless' sequence of Plainview's struggle to strike it rich is simply extraordinary. The scene where they strike oil; Plainview abandoning his son on the train; the final scene with his 'brother'; the restaurant; the bowling alley - I could go on and on (and fear I just have). The film kept me pinned to my seat for it's entire length, and being something of an incurable fidget, that was no small achievement.

I suppose you could count `Boogie Nights' as a period piece but there's certainly been nothing else in P.T. Anderson's work up till now which suggested he could make this kind of historical epic so perfectly - the film feels like it's in black and white (or maybe sepia) even though it's not. These people look and act like they're from the beginning of the last century.

And then there's D D Lewis. What to make of him? Again there seems to be mixed views. Some feel that it's pretty thickly sliced ham and/or the same performance he gave in `Gangs Of New York'. Well he scowls a lot in both films that for sure, and there's nobody else who gives quite such good scowl. But I think he's utterly brilliant, every line seems to be wrenched up from his guts and, unlike some, I felt there was more to Plainview than the 'personification of evil'. Dammit I felt sorry for the guy; he tries to be a better man, he wants to have a son and a brother - someone he can share his wealth with, (why does he have no interest in women? I can't figure that bit out myself), but things just don't work out that way. He still seems to me to be a far more honest and, dare one say, admirable character than the weaselly hypocritical Eli Sunday.

P.T. Anderson once again has made a film which is far from perfect but still manages to be great (see 'Boogie Nights' and 'Magnolia') - if he ever gets it completely right it really will be a goddam helluva show.

Strange Days
Strange Days
Price: £5.69

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You are caught in a prison of your own devise, 23 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Strange Days (Audio CD)
The Doors second album was released 9 months after their first and follows a similar pattern, lots of shorter songs climaxed by an epic. In my opinion the short songs are better overall than their debut - especially the title track, the geniunely spooky `You're Lost Little Girl, `Love Me Two Times', `Moonlight Drive', `People Are Strange' (no, folks, the Bunnymen version isn't better) and `I Can't See Your Face In My Mind' are all very fine indeed.

But naturally, being the Doors, there are a couple of clangers which stop it from being a great album. `Horse Latitudes' is, let's be frank, hilariously bad. Morrison declaiming his `poetry' over an `atmospheric' backing is at least enjoyable in a silly way but the album's epic closer, `When The Music's Over' is not good at all; the first few minutes are ok but the middle section is very dull and clunky - it's a decent 3 minute song stretched out to 11.

Don't let this put you off though the album is well worth a listen - good 60's cover as well.

Hombre [1967] [Dutch Import]
Hombre [1967] [Dutch Import]
Dvd ~ Martin Ritt

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cicero Grimes - meet John Russell, 22 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Hombre [1967] [Dutch Import] (DVD)
A half-breed Apache tries his luck in the white world but is amongst the victims of a stagecoach hold-up. His fellow passengers who, up to now, have patronised or treated him with suspicious contempt, now look to him to help them survive.

Martin Ritt's film, made in 1967, has definite traces of mid-60's liberal sensibilities; Russell's treatment by the majority of the white characters, the corruption and hypocrisy of the `establishment' figures (Dr. and Mrs Favor), but, these elements of the film aren't over-stressed, and in the end you're just left with a darn good western.

Considering this wasn't long before his career-defining performances in `Cool Hand Luke' and `Butch Cassidy', this is a very different Paul Newman here. He's cold, self-contained, and aloof. It's a good performance and he gets good support from the likes of Martin Balsam, Frank Silvera and Frederic March. Diane Cilento's character, a boarding-house landlady, becomes a little tiresome in her worldly-wise seen-it-all-before way, but the film's most enjoyable performance comes from Richard Boone as the bad guy, Cicero Grimes, a man who's natural expression seems to be a sort of sweaty leer. The scene where he `persuades' a cavalryman to give up his ticket on the stagecoach is menacing, but also very funny.

There's not quite enough incident to make it a `great' western but it's certainly a very good one.

Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £3.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rebel without a clue, 17 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
Once heard a song by Tom Petty that you liked? Can't be `arrised to buy all the albums? Then this is for you (unless it's a song he made after 1993 - well, do you know any Tom Petty songs after 1993? Thought not). Sometimes `Greatest Hits' are the best way - I've bought a couple (well four actually) Tom Petty albums over the years and I've always liked them but always ended up losing/selling/chucking them and not been that upset about it. I don't think he's an `important' artist or someone you feel passionate about but, let's face it, who's life isn't made a little bit better when they hear `American Girl'?

There's a few on here that I wouldn't have chosen and a few that aren't on it that I would have chosen, but that's the same with every Greatest Hits. This has got `American Girl', `Breakdown', 'Free Fallin'', `Runnin' Down a Dream' and all those other songs that would sound so great if only I could drive (they sound pretty great anyway).

It's amazing to think that when their first album was released they were regarded as `new wave'; Petty always had much more in common with Roger McGuinn than he did with Tom Verlaine. It must have been because, in an age when American rock had become bloated, Petty wrote short, crisp pop songs which smacked you round the face with their tunes and choruses and then were gone before they could outstay their welcome.

Gunfight At The Ok Corral [DVD] [1957]
Gunfight At The Ok Corral [DVD] [1957]
Dvd ~ Burt Lancaster
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £14.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You think you're pretty tough, dont't you son?, 15 Mar. 2010
Not another bloody film about Wyatt Earp? Yes, Yes I say and I will keep watching them even when they're not much cop - like this one. This is one of those Westerns that people remember fondly when they either haven't seen it at all, or haven't seen it for a long time.

Considering the people involved: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, John Sturges et al this really should be better than it is. The main problem is good old Wyatt himself; I bow to no one in my admiration for Burt Lancaster but his Wyatt Earp is a very dull chap indeed - it's not all his fault, the part is too straight, too worthy, too DULL, and poor old Burt is unable to liven him up. I think at this stage of his career he was better when given something meatier to chew on, a chance to flash that frankly scary shark-like grin; `Vera Cruz' or `Elmer Gantry' for instance.

Kirk Douglas makes a good Doc Holliday (but then everyone seems to make a good fist of this character), and there's some decent baddies, Lee Van Cleef, Dennis Hopper, John Ireland etc, but the film is too long and takes an age to get to the actual gunfight, and when it does, sure enough, that goes on too long as well.

Sturges made a sequel in 1967, `Hour Of The Gun', with James Garner as a much more morally ambiguous Earp; but by then public taste had changed and the film was too serious and sombre to find an audience - shame, it was better than this.

The film certainly looks good and there's a rousing score from Dimitri Tiomkin - it's certainly not a bad film just not as good as it should have been.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 9, 2012 10:24 AM GMT

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