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Mr. D. Glover "Supersexykingofcool" (Manchester)
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The Raid 2 [DVD] [2014]
The Raid 2 [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Iko Uwais
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: £4.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Completely different and every bit as good, 15 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Raid 2 [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Must admit, I didn't really enjoy Part 1 the first time around. There'd been too much hype. The film felt excessive and bleak, but I knew there was something brilliant going on there. It wasn't until the second or third viewing that I could get my head around how blisteringly intense it was. However, if learning to appreciate the first film was like falling in love with a song, The Raid 2 is like getting to grips with an album.
Unlike Die Hard 2 (which was quite ridiculously the exact same film in a different location) this sequel expands in every direction. I had my doubts. A sprawling crime epic seemed a little ambitious, but somehow Gareth Evans has pulled it off. Technically, the film is astounding, with gritty exteriors contrasting stylized interiors and plenty of the frenetic set-pieces that we've come to expect. Plus, more characters, deceptively tight storytelling, some quite surreal imagery and no shortage of violence and gore. I find it hard to judge a performance in a foreign language, but Iko Uwais seems to be that rare thing: an action star who can actually act. And fight. The last hour, covering the duration of a single day, is basically just one extended action sequence, much like the first film.
Contrary to some of the promotional info, this story does not pick up a couple of hours after The Raid. Instead (after the pre-title sequence) we find Rama in prison a few weeks later, with flashbacks explaining how he got there. The story is quite simple, with two major families ruling the criminal underworld and observing a long-standing truce. Rama is committed to a long term undercover operation, working his way into one family with the end goal of nabbing Reza, the most corrupt cop in the city. This is hampered by a rising crime boss who, having killed Rama's brother, is looking to spark off an all-out gang war. He goes about this by manipulating an ambitious but reckless pawn and causing bloodshed with his rather amusing cronies. It's all been done before, but rarely with this much brutality and skill. The score music isn't quite as good as before, but apart from that, this is a masterpiece. Roll on Raid 3.


The Sacrament [DVD]
The Sacrament [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joe Swanberg
Price: £4.00

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars West is Best, 19 July 2014
This review is from: The Sacrament [DVD] (DVD)
During promotional interviews the director Ti West found himself debating whether or not this film should be classed as Horror, as although it does depict horrific events, there is no supernatural element. It really doesn't matter. Just rest assured that, although definitely not a family movie, The Sacrament is terrific. West deserves all the hype that Quentin Tarantino received with his first few films, but he still doesn't seem to be getting the exposure he deserves (unlike his over-rated friend, Eli Roth).
As you've probably already worked out, The Sacrament is a modern-day reworking of the real life 1978 Jonestown massacre, shown in a faux documentary style. There's a great performance from Gene Jones as "The Father" and just a general air of quality to the whole thing. Is it in bad taste? Well, that's possibly a reason for the limited distribution, but it does have the same disclaimer at the bottom of the end credits as any other work of fiction.
Anyway, I would urge anyone to see this, and West's previous two films: the retro 80's pastiche "The House of the Devil" and his spooky slacker comedy "The Innkeepers".


V/H/S [DVD]
V/H/S [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lane Hughes
Price: £3.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr Terror's Video Shop of Horrors, 29 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: V/H/S [DVD] (DVD)
I must admit, the horror genre is, for the most part, a swirling vortex of dross. As a result it seems that the excellent VHS isn't getting the exposure or recognition it deserves. It's a shame because this film really should have found a wider mainstream audience.
In fairness, there's nothing particularly new here- Hammer horror were doing portmanteau films back in the sixties and the found-footage/fake documentary thing has become a cinema standard since Cannibal Holocaust. However, VHS has a subtlety, simplicity and off-kilter sense of humour that lifts it a cut above the rest. The short film format works particularly well for the crudeness of horror, allowing the tales to be unsettling and ambiguous. Plus, the framing scenario of these videos being found & viewed by some looting bozos casts doubt over the validity of each one, which conversely adds a layer of realism to the whole thing. True, a lot of the characters are obnoxious morons but the acting is fine, the dialogue naturalistic and the special effects are exactly the way they're meant to be.
On the downside, the fourth story (about a medical student talking to his girlfriend via webcam) is pretty naff, has the most gratuitous nudity and doesn't really fit with the overall feel of the film. Also, the jerky cameras can be a bit annoying. Apart from those niggles, though, VHS is an unsung classic.


Twin Peaks: Season 2 (UK Version) [DVD]
Twin Peaks: Season 2 (UK Version) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kyle MacLachlan
Price: £12.36

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy Accidents, 29 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
During his early years David Lynch spent a long time working on a piece of stop-motion animation only to find out, once the film was developed, that there must have been a fault with the camera leaving him with little more than a strange blur. However, rather than being angry or frustrated, he was pleased by this strange accident and the results.

It's fair to say that Twin Peaks fell apart after the revelation of Laura Palmer's murderer halfway through season 2. Lynch had intended the mystery that formed the hook of the show to remain unsolved indefinitely, but the network wanted answers and his co-creator was up for it so the case was concluded, the ratings plummeted and quality declined. Perhaps the show might have had a fighting chance if Lynch hadn't been busy with other projects, leaving his precious little dream-world in the hands of others who didn't really have the skill to do it justice. The newly introduced bad guy Windom Earle went from intriguing enigma to 60's Batman villain, a slowly developing story arc was abandoned due to cast quibbles, the sub-plots were boring, new characters were lame... Like a great band succumbing to every rock'n'roll cliché, this once brilliant show crashed and burned.

Perhaps there was no avoiding this. A murder mystery isn't the kind of hook that you can leave running forever. If they'd really wanted it to be more about the oddballs & misfits of this small town they should've worked harder to develop the peripheral characters. Or maybe they should've given FBI agent Dale Cooper (the unofficial main character) another proper case to solve. It doesn't matter. What they ended-up with was a soap opera spoof/homage in every way, right down to the inevitable melt-down. It might not be what they intended, as no network would ever deliberately start running a show into the ground as an artistic choice. But perhaps, looking back at it after all these years, the death of Twin Peaks was an accidental blessing. After all, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.


The Innkeepers [DVD]
The Innkeepers [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sara Paxton
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £5.41

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before Sunrise, 25 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Innkeepers [DVD] (DVD)
If THE SHINING had been made as a low-budget indie slacker movie, well, it would probably have looked something like this. Not gory, ironic, extreme, ground-breaking or particularly commercial, THE INNKEEPERS is an understated little film about a couple of under-achievers idly whiling away the final weekend of business in the real-life "haunted" Yankee Pedlar Inn. They half-heartedly (and for one of them, insincerely) investigate the supernatural reputation of the place as little more than a way to pass the time, in between bouts of grudging customer service.
Some people have commented that nothing much happens, but I guess that depends on what you want or expect. Of course, things are actually happening all the time, even if it's just a bit of slapstick about a bin-bag or some cynical banter. At least the characters aren't just cardboard cut-outs exchanging a few quick words before getting down to the business of being killed.
In fairness, it's a film that shouldn't really be classified as horror, as it doesn't fit with most of the other stuff under that banner. Instead, Ti West has made another cool, old-fashioned, quietly intelligent piece of storytelling that reminds us how overblown and ridiculous almost everything else is, and just how desensitized & impatient we've become. The misleading DVD cover doesn't help. The original poster was so much better.


House Of The Devil [DVD] [2009]
House Of The Devil [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Jocelin Donahue
Offered by FilmloverUK
Price: £9.21

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old School, 16 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Remember your attention span? Well, if you're a horror fan feeling a little disenchanted by the endless slew of overblown remakes and noisy gore-fests, here is the antidote. There have already been a few minimalist low-budget horror flicks in the last decade or so, but they've mostly relied on the found-footage gimmick. Instead, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is a traditional 80's chiller pastiche (complete with retro opening titles) that plays like an extended episode of "Tales of the Unexpected". It's a subtly well-crafted slow-burner with a couple of bloody moments that relies more on suspense than shock value. Admittedly, there's nothing particularly new here. Of course things aren't going to end well for our intrepid babysitter alone in the creepy old house, but it's been a very long time since I actually cared. Writer/Director Ti West seems to be starting horror over again from scratch. He had a bit of a blip with CABIN FEVER 2, which he has since disowned, but if he carries on like this he'll be fine.


Comedown Machine
Comedown Machine
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars What kind of a**hole drives a Lotus?, 2 April 2013
This review is from: Comedown Machine (Audio CD)
Another great LP from The Strokes, featuring the familiar mix of funky grooves and abrasive guitar riffs that we've come to expect since ROOM ON FIRE with a little more of the retro synth sounds from ANGLES. It's also tighter than the bloated FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF EARTH and far more interesting than the over-rated IS THIS IT.
To be honest, I'm struggling to pick faults. Track 2, "All The Time" ends with 30 seconds of virtual silence, as if they were recording a demo and left the tape running. It's not a big deal, but it does stop the album dead just as it was getting started. The set ends with an experimental little oddity, "Call it Fate, Call it Karma" which kinda feels like a bonus track stuck on there to make the numbers up, but I quite like it.
COMEDOWN MACHINE seems to be the first time The Strokes have really considered the album as a whole, rather than just a bunch of catchy songs. The mix of garage rock and 80's pop works surprisingly well. Julian Casablancas sings in a sort of broken falsetto on a few tracks and his vocals are quite low in the mix, but this is an album intended to be played loud. The songs may take a while to sink in, but after a few listens they all start to click into place. So, apart from a few minor quibbles, this is probably the cleverest, most coherent album the band has ever produced. Almost a concept album (some of the tracks quietly bleed into each other) but without any prog-rock indulgences. This is the one they'll never be able to beat.


First Impressions Of Earth
First Impressions Of Earth
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £14.33

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Album (plus 3 duff songs at no extra charge), 12 Feb. 2013
Thanks to a new producer, First Impressions... is the first Strokes album to sound good on your iPod. It's also the longest Strokes album to date, but that's not necessarily a good thing. The songs "Ask Me Anything", "Killing Lies" and "15 Minutes" really should have been left off as potential B-side fodder. However, if you trim away this flab you're left with another 11 track classic from one of the best bands of all time. The signature sound feels fatter, deeper, more polished, but still angry. Julian Casablancas' issues may have changed, but his voice and attitude remain as potent as ever.


Dredd [DVD]
Dredd [DVD]
Dvd ~ Karl Urban
Price: £5.00

5.0 out of 5 stars I am the law and you can't beat the law, 23 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Dredd [DVD] (DVD)
It's a real shame that Dredd didn't receive the international box-office returns that it deserved, because it's one of the most enjoyable films I've seen in years. Refreshingly violent, funny, slightly retro and made in the rebellious punk spirit of the original source material, I loved it. Unfortunately, most of America's only point of reference for Judge Dredd is the awful 1995 Sylvester Stallone effort. As such, this better, more faithful incarnation went down like a low-budget British remake of Rocky.

All of the hard-core fans have their own specific ideas of what a Dredd film should be, often involving the futuristic, complex and towering Mega-City One portrayed in the comics. The run-down, decaying sprawl presented here is more akin to the rotten Old Detroit of Robocop. Not that it matters, as most of the action takes place in a sealed tower block. This was probably more of a budget issue, but I quite like the limited glimpses we get of this crumbling metropolis. It gives us all we really need to see.

This isn't a sci-fi epic, just a first day on the job for rookie Judge Anderson with Dredd as a sort of late 21st century Gene Hunt. It's Anderson, well-played by Olivia Thirlby, who provides the human hook of the story, although Dredd does have his moments. The violence and gore are quite extreme, but this is still a comic book universe with impossibly versatile handguns, robotic eye implants and a utility-belt first-aid kit that can heal a bullet-wound in seconds. It might not be such a bad thing that there won't be a sequel. I have a feeling that if they'd tried anything more ambitious they'd have messed it up, which would have cast a pall over this little gem.


Room On Fire
Room On Fire
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £6.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Mind the Gaps, 4 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Room On Fire (Audio CD)
The amount of hype that The Strokes generated with their skinny, raw and actually-not-that-good debut album pretty much doomed them to a future of unrealistic expectations. However, regardless of the mooted response this follow-up album received upon its release, Room On Fire is an absolute classic. Experimental and adventurous, this is the band building on their signature sound and striving for more variety. Plus, it includes one of their best songs in the form of Reptilia and a successful departure with Under Control.
It's not quite perfect though...
One fundamental problem with Room On Fire, which nobody else seems to have picked up on, is the large gaps between the songs. Perhaps in an attempt to replicate the crackly spaces between songs on vinyl, there are long silences at the end of each track which hamper the pace of the album. I managed to get rid of these pauses on iTunes by amending the finish times of the songs, trimming a full minute of silence from the album in total. It may seem petty, but I find it plays a lot better when these punchy little numbers come at you thick and fast. Also, tracks 5,7 & 9 really need a bass boost, but that's a minor quibble.


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