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Valerie J. (West Yorks, UK)

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Possession of Michael King [DVD] [2014] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Possession of Michael King [DVD] [2014] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Shane Johnson
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £9.25

3.0 out of 5 stars Get Out the Popcorn, 3 Nov. 2014
Michael King (Shane Johnson) is distraught when he is widowed. He's left with a young daughter (Ella Anderson) to care for, with help from his sister (Julie McNiven). He blames a fortune teller (Dale Dickey) for the death of his wife, Samantha (Cara Pifko). Naturally enough, he cannot help but wonder about the afterlife, whether or not he will ever see Samantha again. He's always scorned the idea of God and the Devil, of Heaven and Hell. In a state of bereavement, he foolishly decides to invoke the Devil, to prove to himself and the world that there is no such being and provide evidence by way of video recordings. After visiting various Satanists and suchlike, and submitting himself to drugs and rituals, he wonders whatever possessed him.

The Possession of Michael King (2014) is a bit different, I suppose. It's entertaining enough in a low-budget kind of way and I couldn't help but think that I could make a movie similar to that with my camera set on video if I messed around in front of the camera, pulling faces. In some ways it's not bad but the flash photography probably wouldn't be safe for those with epilepsy, and I got a bit fed up of the toing and froing between what's on video and what is real time. There are lots of clichéd moments like crashing sounds and noise, video footage with interference, and certainly a number of moments to make the audience jump. He lives in a normal neighbourhood yet his house has a round tower and looks as creepy as any you might see in an old Hammer Horror movie.

It's a horror movie with scenes of violence and could be disturbing for some. This is definitely one to watch with friends who are not of too nervous a disposition or likely to lose sleep over demonic scenes. Get out the popcorn, watch it with the lights off, and have a spooky time.

VJ - Movies and Books World blog


A Walk Among the Tombstones [DVD] [2014]
A Walk Among the Tombstones [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Liam Neeson
Price: £9.45

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Should have been great, but..., 3 Nov. 2014
New York, 1991; Matt Scudder is a detective with the NYPD. He drunkenly shoots hoodlums down dead in the street following the killing of a bar attendant. 1999; Matt Scudder is an unlicensed private investigator, and a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. He's approached by Peter Kristo (Boyd Holbrook) who tells him that his brother, Kenny, has a job for him. Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens), a wealthy drug trafficker, has paid $400,000 for the release of his kidnapped wife (Razane Jamal), but they killed her anyway. He wants Scudder to find the killers and bring them to him. Scudder takes the job but soon realises that the kidnappers (David Harbour and Adam David Thompson) are crazy, and Kristo's wife isn't the first woman they have murdered.
A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014) had an interesting enough storyline and for a short while I thought I was in for a real action thriller. It had all the potential of being another Se7en (1995) but there was more drama than thrills and spills, and the constant references to the AA, the flash backs to Liam sitting in at meetings, was obtrusive. That, however, was not so obtrusive or absurd as when tension started to pick up during one late scene, only to be spasmodically difused by some unknown woman's monotonous voice reciting the 12 steps of the A.A. over it all. It was enough to turn me to drink and I was praying that there wouldn't be a 13th step and she would shut the wotsit up. In another short scene, loud music blared out and seemed so misplaced that I thought for a minute that Liam Neeson was carrying a ghetto blaster, or a Pimp-Mobile was about to cruise by. Having said all that, flaws or not, it's watchable (Neeson nearly always is) and I thought the casting was good, particularly the cocky young smart a** (Astro) who aspired to be Scudder's partner in crime-fighting.

VJ - Movies and Books World blog


The Two Faces Of January [DVD]
The Two Faces Of January [DVD]
Dvd ~ Viggo Mortensen
Price: £8.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eternal Triangle gone pearshaped, 3 Nov. 2014
It's Athens, 1962, and a handsome young American called Rydal (Oscar Isaac) is acting as a tourist guide to earn some money, as well as conning a few tourists into parting with theirs. His attention is caught by a couple of wealthy-looking American tourists, Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and his pretty wife, Colette (Kirsten Dunst). Chester becomes aware that Rydal is watching them and Colette light-heartedly makes it her business to meet the Greek-speaking young American and find out about him. Rydal seems harmless enough and so Chester invites him, and a friend, to dinner. What begins as a casual and amusing acquaintanceship turns into something more intimate and sinister when a man with a gun turns up at the MacFarlands' hotel room and Rydal, returning a bracelet left accidentally by Colette in a taxi cab, finds Chester dragging what appears to be an unconscious man along the corridor. Suddenly the triangular relationship of Chester, Colette, and Rydal turns into one of compromise, jealousy, distrust, and danger.

Although The Two Faces of January (perhaps a reference to the two-faced Roman God, Janus, looking to the past and the future) is a bit of a slow-burner to start with it soon picks up and develops a distinctly Hitchcockian flavour. I half expected the profile of a pot-bellied director to appear for an instant somewhere in the background. It's quite a classy movie really with great locations and settings as the characters do a bit of country hopping, but I was surprised at the casting. I always think of Viggo Mortensen as an action actor but in this he plays an aging man who is jealous of a handsome young man who, in turn, is attracted to his wife. As for Kirsten Dunst, she always seems to be cast in the role of a woman with a lacklustre personality but in this movie, that seems to work out quite well for some strange reason.

The Two Faces of January (2014) is quite dark at times and there is a chase scene reminiscent of black and white cops and robbers movies. If it all seems a bit dated, it is in keeping with the storyline as it is set in 1962, two years before Patricia Highsmith, authoress of the book upon which it is based, actually wrote it.

It's not a movie I'd be in a rush to watch twice, but I was happy to have watched it and certainly think it's worth checking out.

VJ - Movies and Books World blog


Horns [DVD]
Horns [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Radcliffe
Price: £10.00

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Get Mad, Get Evil!, 3 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Horns [DVD] (DVD)
Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) is in love with Merrin (Juno Temple), and he has been since they were children. They were inseparable, until Merrin was found dead in a forest. Ig is now the chief suspect and wouldn't be walking free if it weren't for his lifelone friend and lawyer, Lee (Max Minghella). Merrin's father (David Morse) wants to kill Ig, half the town shuns him, although his parents (Kathleen Quinlan and James Remar) support him, and his musician brother, Terry (Joe Anderson) does too. Then, as if Ig doesn't have enough of a headache, he sprouts horns, and if that isn't weird enough, he now seems to have a strange effect upon people. They tell him the truth and carry out whatever secret actions, or desires, they have been harbouring. Ig, of course, uses this to his best advantage in discovering the truth that led to the death of Merrin.

I was all set to scorn Horns (2014) until Ig Perrish's devilish demonstration of demonic detective work sets the storyline on a dark and often adult path. Horns, a mystery horror movie with dark humour has been given an R rating and not without reason: there is strong language, sexual references, scenes of a sexual nature, a quick flash of male nudity, drug abuse, and graphic violence. However, it is all done in such a way that instead of finding it offensive, I found it absolutely hilarious.

I haven't seen Daniel Radcliffe in anything that I have liked him in since he grew up and out of the cute Harry Potter character. I liked him with his facial stubble and even the horns suited him. Reminded me of Wolverine's hairdstyle. Radcliffe's just perfect in this, in an imperfect kind of way. Sort of don't get mad, get evil!

Great supporting cast too.

VJ - Movies and Books World blog


Jersey Boys [DVD] [2014]
Jersey Boys [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Christopher Walken
Price: £6.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Music Sensation, 3 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Jersey Boys [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
It's Belleville, New Jersey, 1951. Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) is a streetwise New Jersey boy who leads a group called The Variety Trio which includes his brother Nick DeVito (Johnny Cannizzaro) and friend, Nick 'Massi' Macioci (Michael Lomenda). Tommy reckons he knows all the angles in life and has the right (and the wrong) kind of connections to make them famous. His pal, a short guy called Frankie Castelluccio (John Lloyd Young) makes a living cutting hair but he has a voice like an Angel, some might say. Tommy recognises his friend's talent, the unusual falsetto voice that could earn them both a lot of money, and they form a group called The Four Lovers, but something is lacking. Then a gifted musician songwriter called Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), who can sing too, is introduced to Frankie who has changed his name to Frankie Valli. However, it's almost a decade until the group takes off with the help of singer/composer/producer Bob Crewe. Tommy, Frankie, Nick, and Bob Gaudio, now calling themselves The Four Seasons, record a string of number one hits (written by Gaudio or Crewe). However, although their allegiance to each other is strong, touring and serious financial problems incurred by Tommy cause rifts between the group members as well as in their private lives.

Jersey Boys (2014) is a fun movie (originally a Broadway musical) which really takes off when The Four Seasons are formed almost half way through. The beginning covers their early lives as youths on the streets, getting in and out of trouble. As the film progresses, the main characters occasionally have a turn, individually, at interrupting the flow of the movie by speaking directly to the movie's audience, briefly telling us their thoughts about how the group is going, what they think of the others, etc., but it's not intrusive and actually adds to the storyline.

Although much of the movie is of The Four Seasons singing their hit songs on stage, it's not just about the music but digs into their personal lives, including the early problems of living in the projects (public housing) of New Jersey, of financial difficulties, of becoming famous, and of unwanted involvement with the underworld not least of all.

While all the cast are excellent, including Christopher Walken as a Mafia boss, my supporting actor award would go to Mike Doyle who was hilarious as the rather camp Bob Crewe (died 11 September 2014), singer/composer/producer who penned some of The Four Seasons hits, including 'Walk Like a Man'. Actually, I always find that hilarious, to be singing Walk Like a Man in a high-pitched woman's voice!

The music is sensational. You can listen to the Jersey Boys soundtrack at iTunes. John Lloyd Young won a Tony award in 2006 for Best Actor in a Musical on the Broadway version of Jersey Boys.

VJ - Movies and Books World blog


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [DVD]
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gary Oldman
Price: £6.90

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All Hail Caesar - Let's elect him President or Prime Minister!, 3 Nov. 2014
After man's attempt at finding a cure for Alzheimers and, instead, creating something that wiped out most of the world's human populations, there is a kind of peace on Earth. Instead of waging wars upon one another in the name of religion, or as a quest for land, power, and resources, those remaining humans now unite in their fight to get back the benefits of a civilisation they once had. Meanwhile apes, that were once caged in zoos or for laboratory tests, are free and evolving rapidly. Caesar (Andy Serkis), a talking chimpanzee leader of the ape population is all for peace and living a quiet existence with his family and followers. He thinks that maybe all humans are dead and is unaware that men are about to invade his territory in the hope of repairing the workings of an old dam and thus providing hydroelectric power. When a group of men lead by Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and a female doctor, Ellie (Keri Russell), trespass on Caesar's domain, one man, confronted by an ape and in terror of being attacked, shoots the ape dead. While Caesar choses to let that death go for fear of starting a war which would end in the deaths of apes, an underling called Koba (Toby Kebbell) plots to overthrow Caesar and wage vengeful war upon the human race.

I was not sure that I wanted to watch Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014). After all, there have been so many Ape movies already and this surely would be awful. Even more awful than that crock of monkey business, Planet of the Apes (2001) starring Mark Wahlberg. But I was wrong. After twenty minutes where I was beginning to think my instincts had been right, that I shouldn't have bothered, the movie suddenly stepped up. There is such a truth in the storyline, the way the characters (human and ape) acted and reacted, (evolving apes acting more like humans) that I found myself totally convinced that I was watching reality. I even started to get tearful when Caesar got hurt.

Caesar, played by Andy Serkis, is such a wise and powerful character in this movie that I was convinced that we should all vote him President of the U.S.A. and certainly the Prime Minister of Great Britain. I'm serious. Let's start a petition. We want Caesar! All Hail Caesar!

The soundtrack, the CGIs, the cast, the script, has made a sequel arguably better than the Ape movies that have gone before it.

VJ - Movies and Books World blog


Lucy [DVD] [2014]
Lucy [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Scarlett Johansson
Price: £10.00

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fiction based on, well, fiction, 3 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Lucy [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) has been tricked by a 'friend' into passing a suitcase full of a strange blue chemical to some gangsters. The gangster boss, Mr Jang (Min-sik Choi), plans to smuggle the chemical through customs at various airports by planting bags of the stuff inside the abdomens of innocent victims, including Lucy, and forcing them to transport the drug or he will kill their families. However, when Lucy is subsequently attacked the bag inside her bursts and it has a very strange effect. Suddenly, she has superhuman powers and supersensory perception. She fears for her life as her senses go into overload and in desperation contacts a scientist (Morgan Freeman) who gives lectures on the powers, or lack of usage, of the human brain.

It has to be remembered that Lucy (2014) is science fiction with little bits of scientific fact thrown in, and so it's best not to take it too seriously. Luc Besson, the writer/director seems to have let his imagination run berserk on this one and if you watch it for pure entertainment value rather for any kind of educational purpose, then you might enjoy it. Or maybe not. The storyline is wrapped around the assumption that humans use less than 10% of their brain. I expect many of us wouldn't argue with that in the case of some homo sapiens we have come across during our lifetimes, but I think that scientists have now concluded that it's just a fallacy and the majority of humans use all of their grey matter--to some extent.

Lucy (2014) is all rather silly and it gets even moreso as the movie progresses. It seemed to be turning into The Blob at some point and often reminded me of a foreign martial arts movie with gravity defying 'kick-ass' action. I was disappointed as I think if it had tried to stick within the realms of futuristic plausibility, it could have been a winner.

VJ - Movies and Books World blog


A Most Wanted Man [DVD]
A Most Wanted Man [DVD]
Dvd ~ Philip Seymour Hoffman
Price: £9.99

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Drama with lots of dialogue and little action, 3 Nov. 2014
This review is from: A Most Wanted Man [DVD] (DVD)
Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) is a Chechen/Russian Muslim seeking asylum in Hamburg. He has been tortured and he fears being deported. A lawyer (Rachel McAdams) is clandestinely recruited to fight his cause. Karpov is the benefactor of an ill-gotten inheritance left to him by his father and he wishes to be assisted by a banker, Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe) whose father was a business associate of Karpov's father. Meanwhile an occult security agency headed by Gunther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is keeping a close watch on Issa's movements in the hope of using him to ensnare a bigger fish, a Mulim philanthropist called Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi) who, on the face of it, seems to advocate peace. However, the German security agency and a representative of the C.I.A. (Robin Wright) have a different approach to 'softly softly catchee monkey'.

I'd heard good things about A Most Wanted Man (2014) and noted that it had received mostly great reviews, so I was all set to be thrilled, or at least greatly entertained. I have to be honest and say that, like some, I found it rather dull. I wasn't anticipating or demanding a lot of action, violence, bombings, explosions, or anything of the kind but I would have liked a bit more tension, even a bit more electricity performance-wise. It's classified as a thriller but which bit was supposed to be thrilling? I spent a lot of time watching the late, great, Philip Seymour Hoffman, puffing on cigarettes or pouring booze down his throat. I think the accents used by Hoffman and McAdams were supposed to be German but I thought they sounded South African! The most exciting part was the very end, and a bit in the middle when Bachmann punched a fella. I think what might have ruined it for me was total apathy with all the characters concerned and anticipation of a thriller that wasn't one.

So, if you have not yet watched it, expect a steady drama with scheming and underhand carryings-on, with little by way of action, and a lot of dialogue, and you might not be disappointed.

What a disappointment too that Daniel Brühl (Rush 2013), a fine actor, was cast in such an insignificant role. What a waste!

I did like Tommy Brue's car!

VJ - Movies and Books World blog
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2014 2:26 PM GMT


The Judge [DVD] [2014]
The Judge [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Price: £9.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Repeat Viewings, 3 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Judge [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is arrogant and irritating, but pretty much unbeatable as a defence lawyer. While he adores his little daughter, Lauren (Emma Tremblay), his dedication to his job has alienated him from his wife, and he doesn't visit his parents and siblings in Carlinville, Indiana, like he should. When his mother suddenly dies, Hank guiltily heads back to the family home to show respect, but he's given cold treatment by his brother Glen (Vincent D'Onofrio) and his father, Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall). The only one who treats him kindly is his gentle-natured and mentally challenged brother, Dale (Jeremy Strong), who has plenty reason not to. In a rush to get back to his life in Chicago, away from the family unwelcome mat, Hank gets a call that stops him in his tracks: Judge Joseph Palmer is suspected of being a hit and run driver, and the victim is dead. Some are calling it premeditated murder.

The Judge (2014) is unsurprisingly good viewing due to its superb star cast and despite implausibilities in the storyline. For example, would a Judge of 40+ years standing want a lawyer who lacks courtroom experience, let alone murder trial experience, to defend him? Of course, I am not speaking of Hank Palmer but C. P. Kennedy, played by Dax Shepard who kept reminding me of comedy actor, Martin Short.

There are one or two scenes which are downright silly and I would have preferred a more serious tone throughout, but, nevertheless, this is a highly watchable courtroom drama with actors that are at once charismatic and convincing. Of course, it's stating the obvious for me to say that the performances of Downy, Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton (prosecuting attorney), Vera Farmiga (Hank's love interest), Strong, and D'Onofrio were exemplary.

The scenes between an ailing father (Duvall) and his estranged son (Downey) alternate between shocking and heartwarming. While this could never be my favourite courtroom drama - a genre of which I am particularly fond - it is certainly worth repeat viewings.

VJ - Movies and Books World blog
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2014 1:41 PM GMT


And So It Goes [DVD]
And So It Goes [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Douglas
Price: £8.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good thing he has the neurotic singer, 3 Nov. 2014
This review is from: And So It Goes [DVD] (DVD)
Widower, Oren Little (Michael Douglas), has an ambition; he wants to sell his grand house for over $8 million dollars and then he wants to retire to Vermont. For now, he lives downstairs in an apartment block which he owns. His tenants despise him, for some reason. Perhaps because he's self-centred, and intolerant, and rude. Then his estranged son turns up, announces he has to go to prison, and dumps his ten year old daughter, Sarah, (Sterling Jerins) on the grandfather she's never met. Good thing he has neurotic singer, Leah (Diane Keaton) living right next door to help him out, whether she likes it or not.

And So It Goes (2014) is a rather corny romantic comedy which is sometimes endearing and sometimes far from it. Little Sarah was enchanting with her caterpillars and love of icecream but the scenes with the upstairs neighbour giving birth on Oren's sofa, a dog humping a giant teddy bear, and uncomfortable references to a child's penis were not. Those and scenes of a sexual nature (mild) between Keaton and Douglas earned what should have been a wonderful comedy starring two great actors a PG13 and a thumbs down from me.

VJ - Movies and Books World blog


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