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Merlin's Owl (Norfolk Bayou)

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After Hours [1985]
After Hours [1985]
Dvd ~ Griffin Dunne
Offered by Popcorn and Candy
Price: £12.98

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yuppie Nightmare Stuff, 19 Feb. 2013
This review is from: After Hours [1985] (DVD)
I was 21 in 1985 when this movie came out and I vividly remember the impact it had on me. It is a movie about gentrification and the Yuppies (Young Urban Professionals) who moved into working-class areas. My generation loved to sneer at these urban pioneers - many of them gay - who had the foresight to see the potential of cheap city-centre areas and lofts. At the same time as I was doing my right-on Thatcher-hating stance a big part of me loved the idea of these trendy, arty, 24-hour enclaves where anything goes. Yes, anything goes but I sense the spectre of HIV / AIDS informing the script. '85 was the year Rock Hudson died of AIDS and the romance between Marcy and Paul is overshadowed by the hidden horror of some awful disfigurement from burns. For burns read AIDS. Look at those rat traps in a circle round Julie's bed. She finds a piece of papier-mache on Paul with a tiny newspaper article about a mob who beat someone featureless in the neighbourhood last night. Later, Gail starts a witch-hunt against Paul.
So, After Hours captured some of the zeigeist or spirit of that age. For the young me it was a confirmation of my love of urbanism and a revelation on the themes of alienation, anxiety, hysteria, obsession and neurosis.

Dredd [DVD]
Dredd [DVD]
Dvd ~ Karl Urban
Price: £3.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Block Mania, 28 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Dredd [DVD] (DVD)
I used to read Judge Dredd in 2000AD when I was a teenager in the 1970s. It was a revolutionary comic for me. It showed a type of future where everything was not a shiny new utopia - it introduced the concept of the grimy dystopia. Not only did it show that the future was not going to be better for everyone, but it hid its social criticisms through using wit to do it. So, Dredd hits the dystopian target perfectly in conjuring up Megacity 1 as a ghetto we would recognise today. So, what about the satire? I think it's off target here because the story is so limited. We already know about drugs and gangs taking over whole neighbourhoods.
Using Judge Anderson could have got quite interesting because with her psi ability she begins to sense exactly what makes Dredd tick. As a clone with knowledge implanted electronically Dredd remains an enigma. Anderson herself suffers from the curse of psi without any depth of characterisation. How would you like it if you could read your boyfriend's, best friend's or bosses thoughts? Wierd.
My major criticism of Dredd, and actually of the hijacking of the whole comic genre, is the way it has been taken away from young teens and moved towards over 18s. The use of (usually comic) violence is part of the Judge Dredd story but the violence of Dredd is almost a fetish. It is so lovingly portrayed that I started to worry about the mental health of the makers (and I suppose those that get off on it). And yet I enjoyed Dredd and hope that this is just one day at work amongst many more we may see but I just think its got to say something more and return to a younger audience.

LEGO The Hobbit 79003: An Unexpected Gathering
LEGO The Hobbit 79003: An Unexpected Gathering
Offered by OSR GAMES
Price: £159.90

11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You've Gotta Bag Bag End, 27 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This set is quite simply a Lego classic. It will possibly be one of those sets that you can't get for love or money in a few years time. So, if you are looking for a toy that will hold its value, look good when on display, as well as provide hours of enjoyment, then this could be a contender.
The only downside we found was the stickers which Lego know everyone hates but they bring costs down. There are just a few and are for several wooden pieces and a book and maps. My 9 year-old finds stickers fiddly and sometimes adults need to help. The only printed piece is the beautiful round green front door. It even has the mark that Gandalf's stick leaves on it.
The build is fun and out of the 650 pieces there are plenty of unique and useful ones to use in other projects. The minifigs are pretty awesome too. The rotund Bombur is cleverly made plump through using his beard. Inside the Hobbit-hole there is a feast with different breads, fruit and meat.
My favourite thing about the set is the fenced garden with flowers and vegetables growing and a bench for Bilbo to sit on. Bilbo sits there smoking until Gandalf comes along and says "I'm looking for someone to share in an adventure..."
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 27, 2013 5:34 AM GMT

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Special Restoration Edition) [DVD] [1943]
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Special Restoration Edition) [DVD] [1943]
Dvd ~ Roger Livesey
Price: £6.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Incurable Condition of Being British, 13 Dec. 2012
I watched this movie in three sittings due to its Hobbit-like length.
The first sitting was like - OK when is the action starting? In fact, the only action - a duel - was just shown in its aftermath. What a curious way to make a movie.
The second sitting was like - wow, whenever this guy gets sexually frustrated he kills a whole continent of animals. And, if he likes all his women to look like his first love can he really care for them?
Finished, at last, whew. Actually, I think it was well worth watching but I can't quite figure out the propoganda message. We have to be like Nazi's to beat Nazi's? Surely that cannot be right: Kill all the fifth columnists, liberals, Jews and homosexuals in gas chambers disguised as tea rooms? No, but seriously, Total War meant bombing civilians to bits and to reconcile that with being a civilised, sporting and decent British citizen is hard to do. This movie doesn't dumb down its message and has a sympathetic German character, its clever art is in its ability to get us thinking and it doesn't do this by preaching.

The Amazing Spider-Man (DVD) [2012]
The Amazing Spider-Man (DVD) [2012]
Dvd ~ Andrew Garfield
Price: £3.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bloated Mainstream Pap, 7 Dec. 2012
I was surprised that there was going to be another Spiderman movie but I gathered that the ethos was an exploration of Peter Parker's college years. Good, but that isn't what we get here particularly. I am a fan of the comics and Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1 TPB: Amazing Spider-Man v. 1 my son and I read the first 30 or so issues together. But, he did not want to watch this as he thought it might be too scary (he's nine) even though the cinema classification was 12A. I'm glad he didn't - this is big and bloated at 2h15m long and it is short on laughs too.
I suppose the target audience is teenage but Peter Parker isn't much of an outsider. One of his big motivations in the comics is to get some cash for his poor ailing aunty's operation but here he is not financially challenged (no J Jonah Jameson neither). Peter worked as an amateur masked wrestler (there is a nod to that here) before he became a freelance photographer.
In this movie Peter is involved in a romance that is actually reciprocated - the thing about the comics, if I remember correctly, was unrequited love.
The irony of Flash Thompson bullying Peter Parker but admiring Spiderman isn't played out to its full extant either. Where is all that teenage angst?
While I wasn't expecting a faithful retelling I thought we would get more of the brooding, troubled Peter who lives two lives. This is something that teenagers might recognise: the double life of child / adult and having no-one to share your secrets with...

Boardwalk Empire - Season 3 [DVD] [2013]
Boardwalk Empire - Season 3 [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Steve Buscemi
Price: £13.49

31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars .....Al Capone's Guns Don't Argue........, 4 Dec. 2012
This superb series continues to broaden its outlook whilst at the same time it deepens our understanding of characters and the impact of their actions. Nucky's life is one of increasing isolation from his adopted family. The meaning of "you can't be half a gangster anymore" is made explicit by showing that the harder Nucky becomes the more distant he gets from Margaret and the children. When Nucky's away, the children miss a father figure, when he's there the influences of his gangster world poison the family. The impact this has on young Teddy is portrayed in his fire-setting and blaming the fires on a scary gypsy.
Speaking of which, Gyp Rossetti is pretty scary, and possibly the last word in psycho-gangster. So the lesson is clear - if you want to play at gangsters you will lose an important part of your humanity as well as damaging your family.
Margaret occupies herself with being a modern woman and fighting to change the world into a better place. At the beginning we see an aviatrix reminiscent of Amelia Earhart. The male responses are typically dismissive and allude to the fact that she should spread her legs and leave the spreading of wings to her husband. Margaret has intelligence combined with grit and she starts setting up a pre-natal care unit steam-rolling over any opposition. She also finds that maybe she doesn't need Nucky.
Richard Harrow finds time away from polishing his guns and doting on Tommy Darmody to find romance also.
Van Alden is on the lam in Chicago with his former nanny turned formidable wife Sigrid, and he gets mixed up in the gang wars there. The stand-out scene of the entire three series for me is when he cracks and discovers just exactly what he is good at. And it is not selling irons.
I couldn't say if this series is better than the other two but it is cleverly written and slowly builds tension to a fabulous twisting ending with several characters lives hanging in the balance (poor Eddie). This season is also full of clues as to what might be coming in the fourth series but all I can tell you is Cicero look out.

Romper Stomper [DVD]
Romper Stomper [DVD]
Dvd ~ Russell Crowe
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.59

4.0 out of 5 stars The Eternal Triangle With Swastikas, 22 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Romper Stomper [DVD] (DVD)
The core of this story is about love, friendship and beliefs. When damaged Gabrielle joins a skinhead gang the dynamics begin to alter subtly. Davey sees the group through new eyes as he has something else to believe in. Davey sees the good in her and she brings out the best in him.
Hando, the leader, is one of those guys that society occasionally needs - in times of war he is the psychopath that will lead an assault throwing caution to the wind. He is the original flawed hero who in times of peace inevitably ends up in prison or believing in lost causes.
So Davey has to take Gabrielle away from Hando but Hando doesn't really care being psychotically bent on revenge against other slights. Maybe Hando doesn't actually care for women that much...and his lack of empathy is his downfall.

Game of Thrones - Season 2 [DVD] [2013]
Game of Thrones - Season 2 [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Lena Headey
Price: £10.80

37 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gluttonous Feast, 8 Oct. 2012
For starters, to sharpen our appetites, we have the opening credits which, like the first series with The Eyrie and The Twins, introduces new locations seemingly interconnected by cogs and moving like some giant orrery. As the camera travels over the map we see the islands of Dragonstone and Pyke and the desert kingdom of Qarth and the ravaged fortress of Harrenhal. There are reminders in these sequences that the seasons are important to the story and that winter is coming...
The meat and veg of these ten episodes is the developing plot of the North and the battle for the throne at Kings Landing. At last we go beyond The Wall and get an inkling of what those Wildlings have been up to on those long dark nights. For me though, the best storyline and scenes are when Theon Greyjoy returns home to the Ironlands and the inhospitable island of Pyke. His story arc is unpredictable and enjoyable.
Well I say that, but Arya has a really interesting journey too. There are dozens of minor characters to enjoy from the kitchen lad Hot Pie to the female champion Brienne. Major characters are consolidated - I found Tywin Lannister, played by Charles Dance, almost likeable. On the other hand there is an illuminating scene where Tyrion hopes to get King Joffrey to lighten up a bit by losing his virginity with some prostitutes.
That reminds me, for dessert we have a bit of rape, infanticide, torture and general all-round deviousness and trickery. The icing on the cake must be the dwarf Tyrion Lannister who is catapulted to the top and somehow finds that he is not only quite capable of playing, but he enjoys, the Game of Thrones.

How Can Man Die Better: The Secrets of Isandlwana Revealed
How Can Man Die Better: The Secrets of Isandlwana Revealed
by Mike Snook
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Thinnest of Red Lines, 1 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book dispells some myths that have arisen about Isandlwana which seem to have passed into well-known facts:
1 The ammunition was hard to get at or the quartermasters would not distribute. Rubbished.
2 The Zulu overwhelmed the British line by sheer momentum and power of numbers. Not true - after the 80 or so survivors left the field the disciplined troops continued to fight for 40 or more minutes.
3 The survivors accounts are true - kind of, but they felt that they had to elaborate some points to prove they were not cowards.
4 The official account is true - claptrap - this account sought to salvage Imperial pride and so blamed native levies.
There are plenty more well explained revisions to the story of Isandlwana and the book is so well written that I felt a creeping sense of doom as the story gathers momentum.

Absolute Beginners [DVD]
Absolute Beginners [DVD]
Offered by dvd-uncut
Price: £19.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars West End Story, 8 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Absolute Beginners [DVD] (DVD)
People tend to come to this movie from various directions - the readers of the much-loved book, the David Bowie fans and those with an interest in the work of the director Julien Temple. I come from the last camp - (I hope to read the book yet) and this movie is really quite interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is an examination of the 1958 Notting Hill race riots. These riots were pivotal in London's history and led to the formation of the Notting Hill Carnival. Secondly, there is a slum-landlord like Rachman who uses Teddy Boys as muscle.
One thread that runs through the film is that of change - the old tenements of West London are about to be demolished and developed. The main character Colin, is developing his career in one direction whilst his (ex) partner goes in another. Colin, at the beginning, has that Romantic notion of Soho as cosmopolitan and anything goes but he comes to see it as exploitative and seedy. Colin grows and develops / London grows and develops.
Really, I could go on and on about this movie - the dozens of British actors and musicians (and no doubt technicians) involved. The mighty budget and poor return of this movie led to the collapse of Goldcrest Studios. The film was panned by critics and I remember seeing it in the late 80s and being ambivalent. The thing was that there was so much going on at the time that nostalgia wasn't relevant. Although, saying that Quadrophenia had done well. Critics saw Temple as an accomplished diecter, of that new phenomenon, the music video so an obvious criticism of the movie was that it was just a series of videos.
Anyway, Absolute Beginners has become cult now and is worth watching at least to see Eddy Tenpole as a nutty Ted, Smiley Culture as an immigrant, Sade as a jazz singer, Steven Berkoff as a facist and to see David Bowie dance on a 60 foot type-writer!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 14, 2017 9:44 AM BST

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