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Keep The Lights On [DVD]
Keep The Lights On [DVD]
Dvd ~ Thure Lindhardt
Price: £6.26

11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Weak, unconvincing and boring, 3 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Keep The Lights On [DVD] (DVD)
'Keep the Lights On' charts the highs and lows (mostly lows it has to be said) of the relationship between filmmaker Erik and troubled publishing lawyer Paul, following them over an eight year period. Although there are occasional interesting moments, particularly early on, the film suffers from a series of problems that render it stilted, unconvincing and, perhaps worst of all, dull, thanks to paper-thin characterisation.

As a regular filmgoer I'm utterly sick of seeing these knackered old stereotypes about gay people writ large on the big screen. The portrayal of gay life here is miserable in the extreme and the normalisation of drug misuse - not casual pot smoking but in actual fact smoking crack - is completely bizarre. We know from an early stage that Paul has a drug problem but the film presents a semi-glamourised, sexualised image of crack use that undermines the dramatic tension and urgency of Erik's later 'intervention'. Meanwhile, Paul as a character has virtually no backstory whatsoever - we learn nothing about him, moments of potential characterisation are glossed over, and his descent into drug-addled hotel room sessions feels almost entirely unbelievable. It is as true of Paul as it is all of the characters in this movie - their emotional world feels completely remote.

I came away from the film feeling a little grubby - there's an uncomfortable ambivalence and emptiness at the heart of it all and I felt myself wondering if what I was really detecting, underneath the well-shot surface and decent production values, was the unsettling vision of a self-hating gay.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2013 9:58 AM GMT

The Cabin In The Woods [DVD]
The Cabin In The Woods [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Hemsworth
Price: £3.00

6 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An utterly over-hyped damp squib of a 'horror' movie, 2 May 2012
This review is from: The Cabin In The Woods [DVD] (DVD)
I made the fatal mistake of seeing the glittering, well-publicised reviews for this film - one drescribing it as a 'gamechanger' in the horror genre, the other using the term 'breathlessly entertaining' - and fell completely for all the hype. Unfortunately this only underlined my disappointment at what was ultimately delivered: an odd, inconsistent film that felt curiously lacking in suspense throughout (the only fun I got was wondering what Chris Hemsworth was going to reveal next...).

I will not divulge any spoilers here, but in my opinion the crucial 'sub-plot' (if I can call it that) never really melded with the rest of the film, and actually undermined dramatic tension and any sense of genuine 'horror'. And while there were some fun moments, the ending was so inane it seemed to render the whole excerise pointless.

To me this was a teenage boy's hackneyed movie fantasy which ran out of places to go. The next time I see such bold claims on a movie poster, I won't be quite so quick to check it out... 'gamechanger' this ain't.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 28, 2012 10:47 AM BST

Weekend [DVD] [2011]
Weekend [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Tom Cullen
Price: £5.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blown away..., 24 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Weekend [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
This is such a strong piece of work: sensitive, thoughtful and - most of all - truthful. There's so much truth in this movie that at times I found it hard to watch. And although the pace is undeniably slow (particularly at first), the story is admirable in its refusal to resort to the kind of melodrama and commercial movie clichés we've grown so accustomed to. This film is important and it has something to say, so watch it.

Giovanni's Room (Penguin Great Loves)
Giovanni's Room (Penguin Great Loves)
by James Baldwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary book..., 10 Sept. 2011
This book builds to a level of unrelenting emotional intensity: I have never so much as "teared-up" on finishing a novel, but this book reduced me to a quivering baby. The almost complete focus on the emotional worlds of the tortured protagonist and central characters here utterly draws you along and gives Baldwin's work an eerie sense of timelessness (not given the date of publication I am convinced few would be able to identify the decade this was written in). I have never read anything else by Baldwin but at least if his other works are this emotionally vicious I will be prepared the next time for a demanding, uncomfortable yet completely enthralling read.

by Roberto Bolaño
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the investment..., 2 Nov. 2009
This review is from: 2666 (Paperback)
Weeks of reading later (...I'm a slow reader) I've finally finished this sprawling work and have mixed, although generally positive, feelings about the book...

It has to be said: in places the quality of the writing and the depth of character detail accomplished here is simply staggering. Although I may have only just finished, I already expect the contents of this novel to linger inside my mind longer than any book I've read in recent memory. Certain passages are intensely macabre but the cumulative effect of the lengthy and highly repetitive "crimes" section is more numbing than shocking (which is, of course, precisely the point).

My favourite sections are the first (a semi-satirical look at the lives of four academics who are so cerebal they only really achieve any true release in a moment of terrifying violence) and the final section dealing with the mysterious German writer at the "centre" of the book. Yet while I never expected the novel to be tied up neatly in a bow, I can't help but wish that certain questions had been dealt with a little more definitively. Having read that Bolano died several months before managing to put his final finishing touches to 2666, it's impossible not to wonder how a more polished version would have compared...

Inland Empire [DVD] [2007]
Inland Empire [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Laura Dern
Price: £10.00

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leap of faith, 31 July 2007
This review is from: Inland Empire [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I fell in love with Mulholland Dr, and when i heard Lynch say INLAND EMPIRE could be read as a "companion piece" to Mulholland I became obsessed and was counting down the days until its highly selected release in UK cinemas.

When I first saw the film a few months back I was staggered. As a cinematic experience it is nothing like what i expected and what's more it is very different from Mulholland Drive (aside from the fact that both films examine the all or nothingness of the Hollywood 'dream factory'). The beautiful graininess of the DV provides a low budget docu 'look' which makes watching this a fairly atypical experience. Not to mention the fact that Lynch adds the post-modern twist of making sure the audience is constantly aware they are watching a film, nothing more images projected onto a large screen (e.g. the whole 'film within a film' concept and the blurring of the line between Dern's character and the actress she is playing).

As for characterising the plot this would be a fairly futile exercise (and perhaps too linear for Lynch's latest work) so i won't even bother. What i would say, however, is that this is a rewarding experience for anyone interested in Lynch or in 'film-as-art'. The way Lynch toys with the audience during the scene where one of Dern's characters meets a nasty end on the walk of fame, for me cements the director's position as the most uniquely brilliant film-maker working in Hollywood today.

A Scanner Darkly [DVD] [2006]
A Scanner Darkly [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Keanu Reeves
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.19

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Faithful Adaptation(?), 17 Feb. 2007
To my mind, whether you like this film or not will largely depend on IF you have read Philip K Dick's orignial 1977 masterpiece novel. I have, and I consider it to be one of my favourite books of all time. That obviously changes the way I view the film.

Many reviews of the film claim it to be the most faithful adaptation of a PKD novel so far (taking Blade Runner, Minority Report and the others into account). In a sense this is definitely true: the chronology of the film is much the same as the book, and Linklater uses much of PKD's original dialogue in his screenplay. But, that said, there is one extremely big difference from the book: the tone of the film is completely different. The book shows us an oddball, occasionally amusing, but in the main a DISTURBING world of burnt out California dopers. Jerry Fabin (a character axed from the movie) is a poster boy for the scarily thin rope on which all the characters walk; constantly only a few steps away from losing bodily functions and their mental health.

Instead the film seems to satirise the dopers to a great extent - Freck is played in a rather amusing but charactertured fashion - nothing more than weird mannerisms, ticks, and the odd humerous one liner. The portrayal of Arctor's fragmentation is also much more terrifying in the book, and just mildly so in the film. It could be argued that the animation ultimately helps to make light of what is an extremely dark and challenging book.

Jungle Drums
Jungle Drums
by Graeme Base
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Book, 12 Sept. 2005
This review is from: Jungle Drums (Hardcover)
The Aussie artist/book illustrator Graeme Base remains best remembered for his 1986 'alphabet book' Animalia, which has sold over 2 million copies world-wide.
In latter years Base has published a series of books, aimed at children (but not exclusively), in which he has thoroughly explored his fascination with the animal kingdom (The Eleventh Hour; The sign of the Seahorse; The Waterhole).
JUNGLE DRUMS follows Ngiri Mdogo - 'the smallest warthog in Africa' - as he is presented with a mystical pair of bongos, capable of granting him wishes.
The book will certainly be extremely popular with its intended audience. Kids will marvel at the brightly illustrated animals and the interesting hint of Swahili vocabulary. Yet JUNGLE DRUMS continues a several year trend: Base simply doesn't pack each page with the mind-exploding level of detail he once did.
It is still an exceptional childrens' book, but lets hope Graeme spends a few years on the next one and blows everyone away with a detailed and unexpected title: more 'Animaliaesque' in terms of its age appeal.

I am Alive and You are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick
I am Alive and You are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick
by Emmanuel Carrere
Edition: Hardcover

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Convincing & Compelling Portrait, 13 July 2005
This is a fascinating read for anyone with an interest in sci-fi guru Philip K Dick. Not only does it provide a moving account of Dick's 53 years on earth, but explores in detail how the author's personal circumstances influenced his writings - and not just the ones you'd expect (i.e. VALIS).
The story is frequently disturbing - especially as it chronicles the most bizarre epoch of Dick's life, spent in a house with drug-dependent young people, who inspired the characters for his 70s masterwork A SCANNER DARKLY.
Negatives: The book does spend perhaps too much time on simply retelling the plots of various PKD novels (though some of this is certainly needed); photographs would have aided the account; a bibliography would have been good also.
Good Points: The biographer conveys events in a literary yet lucid written style and cleverly mixes demanding passages with lighter anecdotes.
I have never read anything as compelling as this about Philp K Dick.

Team America: World Police [DVD]
Team America: World Police [DVD]
Dvd ~ Trey Parker
Offered by Todays Great Deal
Price: £2.06

25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Puppet Satire, 9 May 2005
This film draws together much of the stuff that has been banged on about since 9-11. Islamic terrorism, something that breeds fear and therefore serves as an effective way of controlling the public. The only words you can make out from the muslim terrorist characters in the film are 'mohammed' and 'jihad'. Each time these characters appear they have their own musical motif (think snake charming), which contrasts with the American characters' theme (Team America F*** Yeah!). Its all brilliantly handled and well executed, and rather than picking at any one particular group - it satirises the present situation.
Some say that this results in the film failing to convey a clear 'message'. Why does that matter? This is a wry comment on the current political climate, not a lobbiest movie, and it comes with several scenes of memorable puppet sex. What else do you want?

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