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The Grudge [DVD]
The Grudge [DVD]
Dvd ~ Megumi Okina
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.46

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Creepy, 2 Dec. 2004
This review is from: The Grudge [DVD] (DVD)
Like Ringu (aka The Ring) and The Blair Witch Project, you'll either love it or hate it. To some it is simply not scary, just daft, confusing and a waste of time. To others (like me) it's psychologically disturbing, extremely creepy and uses lighting, angles, shadows and VERY creepy noises to great effect.
It's been criticised for the lack of character development but to me this wasn't a problem. The fact that the curse seems so indiscriminate and unstoppable makes it all the more disturbing. Watching it alone in a dark room just before bed added to the mood somewhat. Even watching an episode of the Simpsons before going to sleep wasn't enough to stop me thinking about the creepiness.
There are a few moments when you're not sure what the significance of an action or plot device is and due to some time shifting in the narrative, it's worth a few viewings. Again though, this didn't distract from the horror of this film. It's better, I believe, to leave a film--particularly a horror film-- without everything explained.

Mona Lisa Overdrive
Mona Lisa Overdrive
by William Gibson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Cool in the Sprawl, 2 Dec. 2004
This review is from: Mona Lisa Overdrive (Paperback)
It's just the way Gibson describes his universe. It's just so, COOL. Even with all the violence and socio-economic polarisation, I'd love the chance to be put there, assuming I was accompanied by a lethal street assassin that is.

Tomie: v. 1: The Junji Ito Horror Comic Collection
Tomie: v. 1: The Junji Ito Horror Comic Collection
by Junji Ito
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Creepy, 2 Dec. 2004
I "read" this a while ago while in Korea, a Korean translation. Even though I didn't understand the words I was taken in by the pictures and got the basic story. The artwork is very creepy and fills you with a feeling of dread and, sometimes, claustrophobia.
When I came to England I found the English translation. I think the words didn't really add a lot to the horror of this manga but it did clear up a few questions. Personally I though the impact was greater when I had to guess the plot through the pictures only!
Anyway, if you are new to manga horror, you can't go wrong with this one. He's one of the better writers of this genre.

Zatoichi [2004] [DVD]
Zatoichi [2004] [DVD]
Dvd ~ 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.12

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun and back to form, 21 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Zatoichi [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
I'm a huge fan of Takeshi Kitano's films in which the main characters, for the most part, are modern day gangsters or people invloved with gangsters. His newest film Zatoichi however is a period piece set in feudal Japan and follows the adventures of a blind masseur who also happens to be a highly skilled swordsman. The character of Zatoichi is pretty famous in Japan and there are loads of films featuring the character - I guess in the same way that the Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung has been portrayed in over a hundred Hong Kong films, though I don't think Zatoichi was a real person. So, samurai sword film by Kitano. Joy!
Zatoichi is excellent and more light hearted than expected. It contains Kitano's own brand of humour and swift violence, has some great characters and an involving and sometimes poignant story - the geisha twins' tale of lost innocence comes to mind here. He's also added some really neat touches to the sound; the scenes where Zatoichi passes workers in the field and where a house is being built are actually percussive pieces which slowly build up layer by layer until its becomes obvious your listening to music. It might seem a lttle odd in description but it sits well in the overall film. When I first saw these scenes I thought they must be an attempt to get inside Zatoichi's world; he can only hear after all and Zatoichi's finding of rythm and music in everyday sounds might explain his superhuman martial skills. After seeing the ending however, I'm not so sure.
Kitano plays the lead really well (with a Gazza haircut) and his reserved style of acting is ideally suited. He adds a subtle kindliness to the role and acts the "doddery old blind man" quite convincingly. The fighting scenes see him shift instantly into a hyper-alert, super-deadly swordsman and back again in the space of a few seconds (think Yoda in Attack of the Clones). He's also tricky much like Kurosawa/Mifune's lone samurai in Yojimbo and Sanjuro. It reminds me alot of those films actually - because of the setting (village with yakuza), the humour and the lead characters - but it stands out as firmly unique because of Kitano's inspired direction and his homage to the genre.
The fights themselves are marvelous and two stand out as particularly cool. Swordplay in some martial arts films get lost in themselves with just slashing noises and facial close-ups. Thankfully Kitano mixes up the long, wide and close shots and we're treated to nice range of filming styles during the duelling and brawling sequences with some inspired swordplay. Also to be thankful for is the absence of wild acrobatics which, whilst I enjoy them in kung-fu flicks, would have been bad for this film.
The other main badass in the plot - an ambiguous good/bad guy - is pretty deadly too. Like most of the other main characters he has his own personal dilemas to contend with (killing to pay for his sister's medicine) and this is portrayed really well. He should have his own movie. Other memorable characters include the chubby, naked samurai wannabe charging round and round the house all day and the two murderous geishas. The antics of the main characters during the middle of the film reminded me fondly of the scenes in Sonatine where the gangsters kill time whilst hiding out in the beach house.
This film is well polished, more than his others, and is probably one of his most 'approachable'. Its easily his best film since Hana-bi although the genres are not really comparable.

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (PC CD)
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (PC CD)
Offered by Tracymuk
Price: £27.96

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New and improved slow-motion megadeath madness!!, 9 Jun. 2004
Superb fun. Its not deep and its very linear but I don't care. It fulfills all my John Woo fantasies, looks cool, sounds cool and plays, er, cool.
I enjoyed the first game immensely and even though its pretty much the same style of gameplay, it has visibly improved in terms of graphics, movements and environment. The small details are amazing (falling/movable boxes/chairs/etc, rag-doll effects, shrapnel and the like).
The plot is pretty good as far as computer games go. Its still full of cheesy noirish lines, but I enjoy chuckling at these and I suspect that its meant to be that way anyway. Note to one reviewer: I'm up to chapter three so far so thanks for the ending spoiler Mr. Harry "ending spoiler" Hall ... mutter, mutter ... (see below - or not if you want to enjoy the twist the story apparently takes).
The Mona Sax levels are great. They did an excellent job rendering her, probably the only computer heroine that looks real enough to ... take on a date.
The whole construction site level is fantastic actually, one of the best so-far. I also enjoyed running around the cop station. The dream levels are back too and these are really well done - spooky - and not at all annoying as a few of them were in the first game (the screaming baby one where you have to follow the red line).
I'm only running a 1GHz Athlon PC but fortunately I have a stupid amount of RAM (over 1GB) and a GeForce FX5600 (128MB) graphics card and the game runs super-slick with all the settings to high (except for some of the sound options and one or two others). I was expecting to have to run it pretty low detail, but was pleasantly surprised.

The Ring Volume 1: v. 1 (Ring (Dark Horse))
The Ring Volume 1: v. 1 (Ring (Dark Horse))
by Hiroshi Takahashi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Should've been alot better, 9 Jun. 2004
A little flat after watching the (very excellent) film. It basically transports each scene into pretty standard manga artwork.
"Its a comic, its supposed to be flat!" - yes I know but there is no suspense or feeling of impending doom in this version. Its like a movie storyboard really, with no thought gone into how to make the change in media more appealing.

Apple iPod 40GB - 3rd Generation [M9245B/A]
Apple iPod 40GB - 3rd Generation [M9245B/A]

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm happy, 9 Jun. 2004
I'll try not to add more gushing to all these other reviews!
I think my (Windows) iPod is fantastic but it has been greatly enhanced with these two additional purchases:
1. Sony Ear-buds. With these the sound improves dramatically (on any music device actually) and you'll never need to use any EQ settings. Plus you can jog and they won't fall out. White phones look sucky anyway and make you look a poseur.
2. Anapod Explorer software (from RedChairSoftware dot com). Lets you have full control of managing music and other files on your iPod and comes with other handy features (check the website). Basically you'll be able to use your iPod like the glorified hard drive it is, so transferring music files to a PC is as easy as using Windows Explorer - the interface is the same. Experienced iPodders claim this software has totally revitalised their iPod experience and its not hard to see why.
A note about the software supplied with the iPod, Music Match for Windows: once updated from the website its a pretty powerful MP3 ripper and tag handler. However I only use it for those functions.
The iPod loses a star for battery life, though to be honest I've only worn it down once (due to my non-use of the hold button actually ... ho hum). It will happen again though, probably at some inopportune moment, such as when trying to impress a girl.
Some general iPod tips:
To conserve precious battery life, put it in sleep mode whenever you stop using it, set the backlight to '2 seconds or 'Off' and whenever you're near a plug socket for any period, juice 'er up. The less fiddling you do with it while on the move the longer the battery lasts. A shame really since its design really does scream to be fiddled with (yes I'm still talking about the iPod).
If you do get the Anapod Explorer software, keep a copy of the set-up file and activation code on your iPod so if you ever want to 'manage' files on an alien PC all you need to do is connect it, go to My Computer and drag the set-up file to the PC and install it. Tried this on a trip back to England when I needed to get the rest of my CD collection ripped and transferred to my iPod, and it worked like a charm.

Cold Water Songs
Cold Water Songs
Price: £6.48

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome debut, 14 Aug. 2003
This review is from: Cold Water Songs (Audio CD)
I never know how to categorise music these days and its been years since I stopped reading the NME. Other people claim The Broken Family Band are alt-country-indie-rock. Fine if that helps you! All I know is that if you're into the likes of the Violent Femmes, Will Oldham and Pavement (amongst others) you'll love these guys too.
So what about Cold Water Songs? Well most tracks will make you feel happy, and you'll be humming and foot tapping in no time. Some will make you feel sad and you'll wonder why. A few will make you laugh out loud. And just when you thought you've heard all they have to offer, they let rip with a couple of great rock songs.
The range of music they play is inspiring really, and it all fits together perfectly due to the singer's very distinctive style and genuine lyrical wit. The guitars sound so totally at ease with gentle tear jerking chord riffs, complicated Spanish sounding solos, and the odd shred, its hard to believe its the same guy playing throughout. Drumming is solid, right from the first song kicking in (after the gentle intro) to the softly, softly brush styles later on. The bass work is also excellent (reminds me a little of Mike Watt in places) and very melodic (besides, I used to play bass and I know good bass!). Pedal steel, trumpets and organs turn up occasionally too and they enrich the songs nicely.
The Broken Family Band are a brilliant band to see live. Apart from the excellent songmanship they always create a friendly, feel-good atmosphere. This comes across on the CD to some extent which is definitely a bonus.
So to finish - I recommend that you buy this album. There, I've said it now!

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