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Content by Tommy Dooley
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Reviews Written by
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England)

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Vinyl: Season 1
Vinyl: Season 1
Price: CDN$ 45.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent depiction of the music scene in the early seventies, April 30 2016
This review is from: Vinyl: Season 1 (DVD)
This series is set in the early seventies when music was going through a few changes. Lead man is Richie Finestra who is head of American Century – a record company with an impressive stable that includes a few names you may remember and includes some real greats and some others like Donny Osmond. He is a man with a taste for music but also the hedonistic lifestyle that can only be described as excess.

From the start though it is as fast paced as a thrash metal gig on amphetamines. The recreation of a New York Dolls gig was simply joyous and the actor playing Bowie totally convincing and there is also a treat for Led Zeppelin fans. The story deals with the main player’s private lives, the financial woes and the double deals and shenanigans that helped to get their ‘artists’ into the charts and stay there. If there was a dearth of talent then they simply changed the rules until the real deal came along.

We also have the burgeoning of the Punk scene as well as disco and all the fabulous fashions. This is big hair, wide flairs. Collars that you could hang glide with and centre partings galore. The acting is all brilliant, the period detail is spot on and the plot is one of the most compelling I have ever seen. The pilot is two hours alone and I watched it and the next three episodes back to back and was absolutely buzzing at the end. There is going to be a second series and I am already looking forward to it like a five year old does Christmas. I just can’t rave enough about this and guarantee it will move you. It has humour, pathos, love, crime and just about everything needed for one amazing programme – unreservedly recommended.

Zero Boys, The [Blu-ray & DVD]
Zero Boys, The [Blu-ray & DVD]
DVD ~ Kelli Maroney
Price: CDN$ 36.44
10 used & new from CDN$ 32.69

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Slice of Eighties Exploitation, April 28 2016
The plot is as tired as any in that a group of friends go off into the middle of nowhere to have some fun. Once there they happen upon an empty house and decide to impose on the hospitality of the erstwhile residents. Only the big problem is they are not alone mwah!

Now this starts off fairly lame as it is full of macho centric twaddle and the ladies have that big eighties hair and attitude etc. At times it looks just like a really bad MTV video of the time especially in the over long road sequence. However, as things get more interesting the group start to behave in a much more believable way and then the twists start coming and it is actually quite inventive – and that is where it pulls it back.

The acting is all ok with no one making a new space in their awards cabinet but they all manage to convince. If you want a no brainer then you could do a lot worse than this and the restored picture quality makes it look as good as new. If you want something high brow then steer well clear but for some big haired frights then this is worth a go.

Noble [Import]
Noble [Import]
Price: CDN$ 18.98
17 used & new from CDN$ 11.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational true story of one woman’s life, April 24 2016
This review is from: Noble [Import] (DVD)
This is based on the real life of Christina Noble. She is an Irishwoman who hails from Dublin. The film chronicles her life in flashback form. But we start in Vietnam in 1989; the terrible wars are over but never forgotten I fear. The scars are everywhere including in the many street children, some of whom have been orphaned and others have trauma that has left them fending for themselves in a country that is trying to rebuild itself with scant resources.

Enter Christina and she immediately knows that she has to help, not so easy in a country that has had enough interference from foreigners. We also see what happened to her when she was growing up in Ireland and the abuse and suffering she had to endure. Some of her experiences would be enough to make the strongest give up, buy she seems made of very rare stuff indeed.

To say this is inspirational is an understatement and I stumbled on this as it stars Deidre O’Kane who played the mother in the great ‘Moone Boy’ series. She is simply superb in this as indeed are the entire cast. Special mention to Liam Cunningham who plays her alcoholic father and puts in a brutal but convincing performance. I had few expectations of this but once it got started I was blown away. This is one you will want to recommend to your friends.

Show Me a Hero
Show Me a Hero
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 23.99
8 used & new from CDN$ 23.99

4.0 out of 5 stars HBO Series on the true life battle to build homes for the needy, April 22 2016
This review is from: Show Me a Hero (DVD)
Nick Wasicsko was a councillor in the city of Yonkers, New York, when he went for the allure that power wields and became mayor. This was at a time when the council was being told that it had to build low income housing and 'affordable' homes. The problem was that these had to go in the nice part of town where all the white voters loved. And if you want to be re-elected then you do what the voters want.

Now this sounds like the usual tale of haves and have nots but it is more than that. The series follows the lives of some of the 'would be' new tenants and the people objecting and all the lovely Machiavellian politicians and their scheming ways. It is a warts and all kind of approach and at times you find it hard to single out the god guys and indeed the gals.

It is very well made as you would expect from HBO but it does take its time to get going and find its stride, but at 6 episodes long it does have the time to do that. All acted really well with good period detail and a kind of inevitability about it that made me keep coming back for more. A social drama with a heart but it kind of wears it on different sleeves and is all the better for it.

Price: CDN$ 24.99
16 used & new from CDN$ 18.35

3.0 out of 5 stars The worst Bed and Breakfast ever in a Spanish ‘horror’, April 21 2016
Made in 1973 this was an apocryphal tale about package holidays. Two Spanish sisters’ run a guest house or ‘pension’ and take in paying guests. However, they have been brought up as proper God fearing Catholics and have a moral code that the elder sister decides will be up held at all odds.

Despite the locals enjoying the colour that scantily clad holidaymakers, with loose morals, bring to the town – the sisters see it as disgraceful. So when a girl goes ‘missing’ her sister starts to think there is more going on behind closed doors than the vigorous application of ‘after sun’ if you follow.

Now this shows its age and modern horror fans may find this bordering on pantomime as opposed to being in the slightest bit horrified. The acting is in parts good and in parts a bit ‘oh dear’. It has also been dubbed so there are sound depth issues and lip synch etc. It is restored but still in narrow aspect. The lighting and atmosphere are both to be commended though. It has a certain charm but do not expect to be blown away – hence my rating.

Fear of 13 [Import]
Fear of 13 [Import]
Price: CDN$ 17.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and well made documentary, April 20 2016
This review is from: Fear of 13 [Import] (DVD)
Nick Yarris was convicted of a horrible crime and sentenced to death – this is his story. It is basically Nick telling the story of his life to camera and mostly done in a chronological fashion. There is some re enactment of his past life as a child but that is a small part of the film.

For a film that basically just has one man talking to the camera for the majority of the time, this is incredibly powerful. It is an amazing, sad and moving story and I challenge anyone not to be moved by it. I watched it over a week ago and have only just decided to write a review to see if the film had lost any of its potency and nope it has not.

To say any more runs the risk of spoiling the story so I will demur, this is recommended to anyone who appreciates the uniqueness that real life can portray and who appreciate quality in their film making.

Hyena Road
Hyena Road
Price: CDN$ 20.00
2 used & new from CDN$ 16.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Canadian Film on the war in Afghanistan, April 17 2016
This review is from: Hyena Road (DVD)
This is a true war film; it starts out with some serious and well realised action and manages to maintain the calibre throughout. It is set around the work of a sniper an intelligence officer and the locals. Set in Kandahar province where the Canadian Army fought, along side her allies, to secure the area for five years. It deals with the violence, corruption and the human side of the conflict and is all done within the microcosm of the effects this has on those involved.

It was written, directed, and stars Paul Gross and whilst I generally feel that you should never be so involved in a project there can be exceptions and this is one of them. The acting is all above average and the special effects are very convincing. It also manages to keep up the tension levels throughout. The relationship angle could have been stronger but the overall package somehow makes up for any perceived shortcomings.

It is in English with some Pashtu but that is not translated and for the context of the film does not need to be. If you are a war film fan or just like a story about ordinary people coping in extraordinary times then there will be a lot here to find of interest.

Against the Sun
Against the Sun
DVD ~ Garret Dillahunt
Price: CDN$ 13.88
19 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars True Story of the US Airman who ditched in the Pacific, April 16 2016
This review is from: Against the Sun (DVD)
Based on true events this tells the story of three US airmen who ran out of fuel on a raid in World War II in the Pacific theatre and had to ditch in the sea. They were unable to salvage much from the plane and ended up in a tiny rubber raft and had to try to survive. This is their story.

Now this is filmed mostly in and around the raft and so the three main actors have to do an excellent job and I think they do, I really like Garrett Dilahunt (‘No Country for Old Men’) as Dixon who has to go through the full range of emotions but both Tom Felton and Jake Abel as his companions are both commendable. The make up crew deserve a pat on the back too – very convincing.

This is not one you will gain from seeing a second time though but is still worth a stream, or a rent as I found this to be both compelling, well made and eminently watchable.

Joplin, Janis - Janis: Little Girl Blue
Joplin, Janis - Janis: Little Girl Blue
DVD ~ Cat Power
Price: CDN$ 18.16

5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Moving Documentary on the life of one of the greatest artists of all time, April 16 2016
I will say up front that I am a fan of Janis Joplin and looked forward to seeing this (on the BBC) it details her life in chronological order from her days growing up in Port Arthur, Texas to her many incarnations with all of her bands including ‘Big Brother and the Holding Company’.

There are interviews with friends, lovers and family. There is plenty of archive footage but only snippets of songs which includes the Monterey Pop appearance. Many songs are featured but the real reason here is to tell her story and her battles with drugs and alcohol and her of love of the blues, which she could sing so beautifully that even watching this I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rising.

It is amazing how she managed to put so much emotion and passion into her music and it seems the people around it saw that in her too. Her firmament burnt for too short a time but while it did so it was also one of the brightest and most loved. I truly think this is a great tribute to Janis Joplin – not just the star but the person – highly recommended.

Welcome to Leith [Import]
Welcome to Leith [Import]
Price: CDN$ 31.61
12 used & new from CDN$ 19.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Documentary on the town that the white supremacists tried to own, April 14 2016
This review is from: Welcome to Leith [Import] (DVD)
This is a feature length documentary filmed in the small North Dakota town of Leith. When I say small I mean there were only 24 inhabitants and one bar. It is the sort of place with dirt roads a slow way of life and a sense of community.

They like to welcome new comers and then one day Craig Cobb moved in and started buying up lots. The recent oil boom in the area had made real estate suddenly more valuable. Cobb though is one of the top (if that is the right word) white supremacists in the USA and probably the world. He and his followers (seemingly recruited in a trailer park sale) decided they would move in enough of his anti Semite and racist mates to be able to take over the town council – through democracy obviously – and then the town would be theirs etc.

This is filmed over a period which saw things coming to a head. It is not an action fest of bad stuff happening but it is alarming at how this could happen. He had flags of all the white countries and this includes the Union Flag (Jack) with a ruddy great swastika stuck in the middle of it. The man has nothing going for him and best bud Kynan Dutton was equally as vile.

This is not a show stopper but it is eminently watchable and tells its story in as balanced a way as it probably could have. There is a lot of profanity and offensive language but it only exemplifies the level of feeling that such people provoke in others. If you are a documentary fan then this is well worth a watch.

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