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Reviews Written by
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England)
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

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The Grand Seduction / La grande séduction à l'anglaise (Bilingual)
The Grand Seduction / La grande séduction à l'anglaise (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Taylor Kitsch
Price: CDN$ 6.88
8 used & new from CDN$ 6.72

4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant and heart warming comedy from Canada, Feb. 9 2016
The town of Tickle Head used to be thriving fishing port on the coast of Newfoundland. Then the Cod dried up and the town fell on hard times. We join them at a time when everyone is on Welfare and the civic pride has ebbed from the small community like the fish stocks that once sustained them.

Then a petro chemical company turns up willing to build a reprocessing plant on the coast ' their bid is in with a chance. They like the community but they must have a resident doctor which they do not have and with a small community are unlikely to get one. Brendan Gleeson plays Murray French erstwhile fisherman and now ' by default ' the Mayor and they think all is lost when fate deals them a one off chance. A plastic surgeon gets sent to the community as a way to avoid awkward questions by the law. The community decide to do a charm offensive in order to persuade this man that their little community is heaven. Problem is he loves cricket, jazz (and they don't) and he has a life he is already missing. Can the plan ever work?

Now this is a gentle comedy and the laughs are more smiles than guffaws. However, the film has a warmth and charm that makes you want to watch it. Taylor Kitsch is nice, charming and plays the part to a tee but Gleeson as ever is the scene stealer though he is ably aided in this respect from a supporting cast that all do a fine job. If you like your humour on the slow side but don't mind a tale from left field then I think there is a lot here to enjoy.

Frozen [Blu-ray]
Frozen [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Shawn Ashmore
Price: CDN$ 9.93
18 used & new from CDN$ 7.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Nightmare on a ski lift in a very tense film, Feb. 9 2016
This review is from: Frozen [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
From 2010 this film is about three friends who want to enjoy some winter sports at Mount Holliston. The three blag their way onto the slopes by bribing the guard – so they are not on the official manifests. After some not so great fun they decide to go up one last time before the slope closes for the week – this being a weekend only slope.

However, their guard is called away and the new guy thinks everyone is down from the mountain and shuts down the power. This leaves our three friends stranded on a ski lift with no way of getting help. What follows is how they deal with their life threatening predicament.

Now this was a film I was not expecting a lot from, however, once it got into its stride I was well and truly hooked. That is quite some achievement for a film which has basically three characters all stuck on a chair lift. The twists are not the stars here but the actual tension itself that keeps the momentum right to the end – this is one I can recommend and you may think twice about going snowboarding again.

Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale [Blu-ray]
Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Lin Ching-Tai
Price: CDN$ 28.40
13 used & new from CDN$ 19.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Fact based Taiwanese Epic, Feb. 7 2016
Japan took possession of Taiwan from China when it was ceded to them after China’s Qing Dynasty lost the first Sino Japanese war of 1884 – 1885 and we first pick the story up there. The Japanese were a more controlling Colonial force and did not tolerate aboriginals such as the Seediq and called them ‘Seiban’ or ‘barbarians’ and treated them as inferiors. They ruled harshly and built up resentments that led to a number of insurrections that led to The Wushe Incident of 1930 that is the central point of this film.

The indigenous tribes had also fought one another over hunting grounds and other causes for centuries and the divisions that this caused are exemplified here and indeed how the Japanese exploited such to turn tribes against each other. The chief of the Seediq was Mouna Rudau and he ha tried appeasement but one slight too many pushed him to seek to join the tribes together and make a stand against the vastly better equipped Japanese. Once the die was cast they had all foreseen where it would end.

Now this film sticks to the documented facts extremely well, the acting is all excellent and there is a ton of action. It was made in 2011 but some of the CGI is a bit obvious. Despite that this will bring you along for a great roller coaster ride of action. The fight scenes are all done extremely well and when people get hurt they really are hurt. This is a great tribute to the culture of the Seediq and their allies and to a part of history that we have not heard much about. It is also the sort of film you could easily watch again. In aboriginal, Japanese and Hokkien with pretty good subtitles and a run time of just over two and a half hours – every second of which is put to good use – completely recommended.

Camp X-Ray
Camp X-Ray
DVD ~ Kristen Stewart
Price: CDN$ 24.95
6 used & new from CDN$ 18.00

4.0 out of 5 stars ‘To Defend Freedom!’ at Guantanamo Bay, Feb. 6 2016
This review is from: Camp X-Ray (DVD)
Kristen Stewart plays Cole – she is a young woman who joins the army to make a difference and escape the mundanity of small town life. Then she gets assigned to Guantanamo Bay to guard ‘detainees’ of ‘The War on Terror’. Not what she had hoped for. On arrival she enters a World of machismo and casual violence.

Then she meets Ali who has been detained for years in a small cell. He loves Harry Potter and misses his old life but detention without trial means he has no rights not even the basic ones established under The Geneva Convention. He is visibly lonely and hanging onto sanity and life by a thread but he is attracted to this new guard and slowly he breaks down her reserve and they connect on a very human level. This though is verboten and soon she has to work out who really is her enemy.

Now this is a very well made film, it avoids over sentimentality and crass judgements and instead focuses on the ordinary and by doing so shows how extra ordinary it can be. Upstanding performances are found across the board here but Peyman Moaadi (‘A Separation’ and ‘About Elly’)as Ali is particularly noteworthy. This is a film about conflict but also about removing the barriers that cause it; it is thoughtful and manages to hold your attention throughout- a rather excellent watch and so recommended.

The Frozen Dead
The Frozen Dead
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars French noir that is begging to be made into a TV crime drama, Feb. 4 2016
This review is from: The Frozen Dead (Kindle Edition)
This is a translation of the French book by Bernard Minier which was a bit of a hit over the Channel. It starts with the grisly find of a mutilated animal up in the cold wilderness of the Pyrenees. Commandant Servaz is brought in to solve the case as it was the property of a wealthy industrialist. He is in the middle of a case of three young lads who have killed a homeless man and is far from impressed with his new assignment.

Then things get very interesting very quickly when the mitochondrial DNA of a notorious serial killer is found at the scene. What makes it even more bizarre is that this killer is in a maximum security psychiatric ward and is still there safely under lock and key.

Then the crimes start to pile up and he realises he is up against a very skilful killer or is it killers and so he has to bring in his best team as well as work with the local gendarmerie and a new case judge who’s personality and his are on a collision course.

This is a real page turner with enough twists to keep you hanging on until the end but also enough drama to make it easily devourable. What it may have lost in translation is more than made up by the story itself and has the sort of pace and bombshells that would make this ideal for TV adaptation – until then you could do a lot worse than getting into this riveting crime novel.

Hometowns (Vinyl)
Hometowns (Vinyl)
Price: CDN$ 26.90
13 used & new from CDN$ 16.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Low- Fi Americana that oozes energy and talent., Jan. 31 2016
This review is from: Hometowns (Vinyl) (LP Record)
This is a rather great record from one of my favourite bands. There is not really a duff son here but I will run through a few of them. ‘Edmonton’ mixes jangly strumming guitar with the simple but effective rhythm and riffs so catchy it needs some sort of health warning – nice to have tambourines in the mix too.

The album has the feel that the productions were aiming for the sound of ‘Neutral Milk Hotel’, and despite the low fi intentions it makes it more immediate. ‘Frank AB’ being a case in point, it is only after several listening that you appreciate the layers – brass etc. ‘Luciana’ though is even more of that genre with the cymbals peeking the speakers in an underplayed thrash alternative. It is also a great exemplar of the high energy performance that these guys can deliver.

‘Rush Apart’ is more of a barn dance sped up with some great lyrics and great acoustic guitar. ‘The Air’ is more laid back but it is still completely complimentary with the rest of the album. But for a real mental blow out check out ‘Dethridge in Lethbridge’ which sounds like they borrowed Animal from the Muppets to smash their drums up – but in a very good way indeed. This is a band and an album that should get a lot more attention. They are carrying the flag of Americana well and have some very good company on that mission. Well crafted songs delivered with energy and flair and a good ladling of passion to boot – not a lot to find fault with here at all – recommended.

Sicario [Blu-ray + Digital Copy]
Sicario [Blu-ray + Digital Copy]
DVD ~ Emily Blunt
Price: CDN$ 22.96
4 used & new from CDN$ 19.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Great performances in a gripping and entertaining film, Jan. 31 2016
Emily Blunt (‘Looper’) plays Kate Mercer who is a US Police officer tracing down hostages. As the Mexican drug cartels up their game and bring death and destruction to mainland USA she gets picked to help an elite team to take on the bad guys.

She is introduced to Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) who takes her by, the proverbial, hand and they head off for a mission that she grows ever more uncomfortable with as she starts to realise they may not be playing strictly by the rules.

**Mild spoiler Alert**
Now this is a fairly mainstream and has had a lot more ‘press’ from my normal fare in films. However, for once the ‘hype’ is actually well deserved. Benicio Del Toro is sublime playing the avenging gun for hire. There is a palpable tension for a great majority of the film and whilst there is some violence it is actually fairly tame – on the whole that is. It is though a very well made film that will have you gripped. It makes a passing attempt at the ‘victims’ being everyone but mostly it is a ‘them or us’ scenario from the start and through out. This still comes up as being a rather good film – so I can easily recommend.

Dawn Patrol [Import]
Dawn Patrol [Import]
Price: CDN$ 26.20
19 used & new from CDN$ 16.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Slow and very one dimensional revenge flick, Jan. 30 2016
This review is from: Dawn Patrol [Import] (DVD)
Scott Eastwood plays John who lives in California where the sun always shines and they all just live to catch a wave because surfing is all that matters. Then there is his brother Ben who is so good that everyone wants a photo of him pushing the boundaries of mans understanding by seeing him splash about a bit in the ocean.

Enter a femme fatale who Ben is having some sort of emotionally unstable relationship with. But oh dear she has also caught the eye of the local Latino cartels’ son and heir and, as in a bad film string Daniel Day Lewis, ‘There will be blood’. We also have side issues of anger management, drugs and some trite story from the Iraq war.

Now this is not a bad production and there are a couple of performances of note; indeed Scott Eastwood can act – see ‘The Longest Ride’ but this just lacks all the essential ingredients that make a good filmatic experience. The actual script is the main failing but overly one dimensional, stereo typical characters do not help and despite the well realised plot twist I found myself just not really caring. It is not a surf film either or a thriller of really a revenge tale just a bit of a not all the believable drama. If you are still interested then go for a rental as I can guarantee you will never even consider seeing this twice.

99 Homes [Bluray] [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
99 Homes [Bluray] [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Andrew Garfield
Price: CDN$ 19.96
4 used & new from CDN$ 17.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Stonkingly good thriller about a corrupt real estate man, Jan. 30 2016
Andrew Garfield plays Dennis Nash who is a hard working man in construction down in Florida. It is the 2008 bank crash which has left the world – though not the banks – reeling from the greed motivated incompetence of financiers. Nash is about to find out how devastating this can be when the bank forecloses on his family home. This leads to him being thrown onto the streets with his mother and young son.

He thinks all is lost then a chance meeting sets him on the path to working with the man who evicted him. This comes in the shape of realtor Nick Carver (Michael Shannon). He is scamming the system to make money from other people’s misery as he has indeed done to Nash. However, every cloud has as silver lining and in this case that cloud turns out to be lined with dollars – lots of them. The irredeemably low Carver shows Nash how to do this through coercion, theft, lies – you name it. The problem is Nash has now become what he hates and his conscience is about to be shaken.

Now this is described as a ‘nail biter’ and it actually is just that. It starts with the pressure and the seconds to act scenarios and keeps that going right till the end. Shannon nearly does the impossible here and cracks a smile, but in the end he doesn’t need to as his dead pan approach and screen imposing self manages to out act nigh on every scene he is in – without mirth. It is always easier to play the baddie, but to do it convincingly and with a degree of ambiguity – albeit wafer thin – is just something special and he makes it look easy. A good supporting cast and based on a real story this is one of those films that may be missed due to the seemingly uninspiring title, but this is one you will want to tell your friends about – absolutely recommended.

Just Jim [Import]
Just Jim [Import]
Offered by Rarewaves-US
Price: CDN$ 23.43
7 used & new from CDN$ 23.42

3.0 out of 5 stars Loser tale in a black comedy based in Wales, Jan. 24 2016
This review is from: Just Jim [Import] (DVD)
This is the directorial debut for Craig Roberts who also wrote this and starred in it – which is never a good idea. He takes the character he has played before in the likes of – the admittedly very good – ‘Submarine’ and plays him, again only in Wales. There are liberal scattering of clichés throughout and the only reason this is in Wales? It was co funded by The Welsh Film Board.

The plot is Roberts plays Jim whose best mate has stopped talking to him and his dog goes missing and then Emile Hirsch moves in next door and is ultra cool. Despite this Hirsch actually has time for him until strange things start happening and then Jim gets to grow a pair.

Now to call this slow is putting it mildly, it wears its quirky heart shakily on its loner sleeve from the start but the script is just so uninspiring and there are some massive plot holes too. I found this to be as funny as a phone directory and equally unedifying. Never write direct and star in your own vanity project. I admire Hirsch for making such films he did the same in ‘Prince Avalanche’ which is actually better than this. There is clearly a market for these types of films and there are some good parts to it but rating it as ‘ok’ is still being generous. If in doubt go for a rental – preferably getting some one else to pay for it – that way the disappointment smarts less.

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