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Profile for J. Mcdonald > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
J. Mcdonald "Yelochre" (Glasgow, UK)

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Jeune & Jolie (Young and Beautiful) [DVD] [2013]
Jeune & Jolie (Young and Beautiful) [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Marine Vacth
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jeune & Jolie., 6 Aug. 2016
This film from director François Ozon has rather a dark aspect to it, but the subject matter is delicately handled and non-judgemental in presentation.

Teenager Isabelle (Marine Vacth) is an attractive and intelligent girl on the verge of adulthood; she is, however an inscrutable, enigmatic character and remains so throughout the film; apparently unable to find satisfaction with her relationships, she embarks on a double-life as an escort, meeting older men for paid sex; inevitably, she is found out...
I've seen this film dismissed as vacuous, voyeuristic, a male fantasy, etc., but I found this to be a compelling and honest film; Vacth gives a remarkable performance, cool but magnetic throughout and ably assisted by a strong cast - particularly Fantin Ravat as her little brother (perhaps the only one who truly understands her) and in a brief appearance towards the end, Charlotte Rampling.
Beautifully filmed, slow paced, but hauntingly intriguing; the melancholy-themed pop songs used in the soundtrack (several by Françoise Hardy, often on the subject of failed love) provide another subtle clue to Isabelle`s psyche.
It is a film that raises a lot of questions - perhaps answers none, but nevertheless has some depth; I suspect how one reacts to or interprets it will say more about the viewer's attitudes and insights than it reveals of Isabelle`s.
A finely nuanced, sensitive and thoughtful film.

The DVD extras are two short interviews with Ozon and Vacth.

Think Dog: An Owner's Guide to Canine Psychology
Think Dog: An Owner's Guide to Canine Psychology
by John Fisher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Think Dog., 5 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This was an interesting book; I don`t currently have a dog – though we`ve had two in the past. Several friends and relatives own dogs and I can`t help but note how well the dogs have trained their masters to their own ends – so I thought I`d explore this a bit further using this book as a helpful reference.

This is a reprint and as several other reviewers have stated, some of the advice is out of date with contemporary thought, but much of it seems to me to be fairly good, common sense psychology, coupled with sensible information on diet and selection of the right type of dog for your particular circumstances – something many owners in my area haven`t considered. Where I parted company with Fisher`s advice was on his promotion of homeopathic remedies for various conditions – but I leave other readers to judge on that aspect of his advice for themselves.

Probably a useful volume to have alongside other guides; I shall certainly recommend it to my dog-owning circle with the above caveat.

by Jane Lee
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Derain., 4 Aug. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Derain (Hardcover)
I remember seeing the exhibition this book was published to accompany, but at the time I couldn't afford to buy it – now I have.

What was most apparent – and attracted interest at the time – was that this show concentrated on Derain`s later work, when he adopted a neoclassical style, a trend that became widely popular with many painters during the inter-war years.
The exhibition also chimed with a brief neoclassical revival in contemporary painting in the 1980s and early 90s when artists like Hermann Albert, Peter Chevalier, Thomas Schindler and Stephen McKenna (shortlisted for the Turner Prize in `86 when it still had credibility) were emerging at the same time as Glasgow-based New-Image painting – which also echoed neoclassical elements.
Good luck finding anything about this seminal phase of figurative art in any current art history.
The book is still a valuable resource; it was the first major monograph on the artist for 30 years and - in truth - there hasn't been much published since. It is well-illustrated and the text is authoritative.

Apart from paintings of his Fauvist period, Derain is currently a fairly unfashionable painter, his neoclassical period probably something of a niche interest; there is, however much to be gained by studying his painting from the later periods and this is the best available volume that provides examples and narrative of this mature work.

Carmex Vanilla click stick duo pack
Carmex Vanilla click stick duo pack
Price: £6.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Carmex Vanilla Click Stick Duo Pack., 3 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Summer isn't perhaps the best time of year to be testing this product out generally; I don`t know how this balm works for others on the basis of daily use, but as a sax player (and one who's neighbours are currently on holiday) I've been getting some playing in and this lip balm has a really nice feel applied just after a practice session.

I find it promotes a distinct tingling sensation, has a pleasant taste and smell and a really relaxing effect on the lips. My father (a trombonist, - he got the other stick in the pack) has reported the same relaxing effect – it's probably even more pronounced for a brass player, as their lips have to work harder and tire more (but don't tell them that, they'll act all superior).
Brass and woodwind players can get pretty hung up on particular lip salves; I don't play at a level for it to matter to me much, so I don't have any favourites, but I hadn't tried this particular brand before and I was pleasantly surprised.
I've been using it once a day for the last few days and so far I`ve been quite pleased with it - it's certainly better than the plain old Morrisons lip balm I`ve been using for years (little more than a variant of Vaseline, really).

At the current asking price - just over £5 delivered - this is a bit more expensive than I'm used to, but certainly soothes and moisturises well; long-term use will determine whether it's right for me/us or not.

Ewe & Me "Patrick" Figurine
Ewe & Me "Patrick" Figurine
Price: £12.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Ewe and Me “Patrick” Figurine., 2 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My mother is an avid collector of ornamental figures of all kinds and she was absolutely delighted with this.

“Patrick” is a nicely realised ceramic figurine; (actually, in close examination, this might be resin – there are no manufacture details provided). Carefully hand-painted in fine detail, the textured modelling is intricate and precise, splendidly reproducing the textures of both the sheep's wool and the knitted sweater and bobble hat; the gloss of the Wellington boots contrasts nicely with the realistic mat finish of the shamrock designs picked out on the knitted garment.
Designed for Border Fine Arts by Toni Goffe, “Patrick” the ewe may have a slight problem with gender identity, but that doesn't alter his appeal one bit and I'm sure the other characters in this series will prove just as popular!

The figurine comes well-packaged in a shaped polystyrene container within a glossy gift box bearing the series logo, nicely priced and presented.
Excellent little novelty ornament.

Kaleidoscope of Rainbows
Kaleidoscope of Rainbows
Price: £9.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Kaleidoscope of Rainbows., 31 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm delighted to have this classic album back in my collection again and remastered on CD.

Ardley`s seminal album has always been a favourite of mine – I stole phrases from Ian Carr's flugel horn and Ken Shaw's electric guitar solos which I fitted into my own playing at every opportunity for years...!
The piece is entirely constructed on simple (but beautifully arranged) melodies built on the Balinese pelog scale, which gives a unity and multi-layered complexity to the whole work; the soloists are outstanding, Barbara Thompson's impassioned soprano sax solo on Rainbow Four is possibly one of the best she ever recorded. The 13-piece band (with a couple of substitutions on some tracks) was basically an augmented version of Ian Carr's Nucleus with Ardley at the helm; Paul Buckmaster, the surprise electric cello soloist was a composer/arranger working with the likes of Elton John around that time – and what a sterling, funky contribution he makes! Like-wise Bob Bertles, whose mercurial soprano sax picks up from Shaw's guitar solo cheekily quoting “High Society” in it's opening phrase before storming to the end of Rainbow Six.
The album is notable, too, for it's inspired use of electronica; synthesisers, electric keyboards and various sound distorting devices and studio techniques still being pioneered in jazz at the time are subtly but very effectively deployed; the piece was indicative of how creative and distinct British jazz had become from it's American counterparts during this decade.

“Kaleidoscope” is just one of those timeless recordings that endears itself to just about everyone who hears it; listen to the sound samples above or go to the mp3 download page; playing time is just under 55 minutes.
Buy this, it's a great album.

Rapesco Stapler with Staples Set - Spinna Stapler with 5,000 26/8mm Staples
Rapesco Stapler with Staples Set - Spinna Stapler with 5,000 26/8mm Staples
Price: £12.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Rapesco Spinna Stapler + 5000 26/8mm. Staples., 29 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a good, serious office stapler with a reassuring, solidly made metal construction housed in a tough, charcoal grey plastic casing.

The unit is stable and heavy with a dependable, easy functionality; the makers claim it will staple up to 50 sheets of paper, depending on the staples loaded; I haven`t needed to take things that far, but I believe them – the stapling action is quick, strong and efficient.
The spring loading mechanism is controlled by the pull-back button located on the hinged end and the staple cartridges are easy to load, the magazine is easily pushed back into place after loading. The stapler can be used with two sizes of staple as specified above 26/6-8mm. and 24/6-8mm. The adjustable margin guide located on the base is a useful feature.

A very capable stapler that feels comfortable in use and should live up to the maker`s 15 year guarantee; a quality home/office product.

Watteau: The Drawings
Watteau: The Drawings
by Pierre ; Prat, Louis-Antoine Rosenburg
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Watteau: The Drawings., 28 July 2016
This review is from: Watteau: The Drawings (Hardcover)
This is a very beautiful and finely illustrated volume; it presents 88 drawings by Watteau in full colour, with many examples of the trois crayon technique popularised by Rubens and taken up by French artists of the period (notably, Fragonard, Boucher and of course, Watteau himself). The illustrations are large, well-reproduced and supported by a selection of details and comparative figurative illustrations placed within the four short, but authoritative essays which comprise the text of the catalogue; the bulk of the book is taken up by the illustrations which are accompanied by commentary texts on the facing page.
An excellent book on this often overlooked master draughtsman.

I was fortunate to buy this hardback exhibition catalogue at the time it came out; it`s price has been steadily creeping up since then; I suggest you keep an eye to it as reprints (and second-hand bargains) do happen.

Mister Memory
Mister Memory
by Marcus Sedgwick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mister Memory., 27 July 2016
This review is from: Mister Memory (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I rather enjoyed this intriguing turn-of-the-century tale by Marcus Sedgwick - a new author to me, but one I will look out for in future.

Set in Paris, this murder-mystery quite effortlessly evokes the period and draws the reader into it's clever premise, that of a character with hyperthymesia who apparently commits a murder in an open-and-shut case; as the young detective Petit and independently, the psychiatric doctor Morel begin to dig deeper into the events of the crime and Marcel Després` curious memory condition, a much bigger case emerges which has implications at the highest levels of French policing and security.
Sedgwick's prose flows well and I found this novel rapidly became a page turner; it was well plotted in the main and only the rather over-contrived ending let it down for me, otherwise this would have had a five star rating.
As it is, this was a good and absorbing story with plenty of unforeseen twists, a nice period feel overall and good characterisations, with the rather hapless Marcel as it's central figure.

A fast, worthwhile read, despite my reservations about it's closing chapter - an entertaining and well-researched novel.

The Red Baron [DVD] [2008]
The Red Baron [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Tomás Koutník
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Red Baron., 27 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Red Baron [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I hadn't seen this film all the way through, having caught bits of it when it was shown on TV a few years ago, so I thought I'd take a chance and order the DVD.

It's rather a disappointment; the CGI flying scenes are fairly well done – the flying is a little fast for the period, but the aircraft manoeuvrability is fairly accurate – unfortunately the characterisations in this wartime drama are woefully inaccurate.
Whatever kind of person the real Manfred Von Richthoven was, he was certainly a product of his class, upbringing and the times he lived in; what is presented here in the character portrayed by Matthias Schweighöfer is a modern projection, quite out of period and attitudes of the times; it says more about modern sensibilities than any historical accuracy and the cringe-worthy invention of a Jewish character – just so Schweighöfer`s cardboard invention can emote over his demise - is pretty tawdry, coming close to insulting the viewer`s intelligence given the likelihood of such a relationship; and that's in addition to the spurious romance he has with a nurse that takes up too much of the film time.
It`s not dire, but this isn't even a remotely representative biopic, merely a wartime romance with some acceptable action scenes and a good deal of dumbed-down history; the front-line scenes look reasonably authentic - one assumes that the intentions of the film makers was to make an anti-war film that would appeal to the digital generation – but it does come across more as entertainment than dramatic enlightenment. Spotting the historical howlers probably adds to the value of it in that respect, but given the obviously large budget spent on it, it ought to have been something better than this.

DVD extras include a “making of” documentary, some outtakes, deleted scenes, a very brief visual FX clip and - (Gawd `elp us) - a German pop video.
Not quite a turkey, - 2 ½ stars ideally.

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