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Reviews Written by
Tommy Dooley (London, England)

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Price: CDN$ 28.79
23 used & new from CDN$ 11.42

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Smorgasbord of Talent in a joyous album., May 23 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Mciii (Audio CD)
I had not heard of Mikal Cronin and then this popped up on my ‘recommendations’ list and I gave it a go – boy am I pleased that I did. Cronin writes and plays nearly all of the instruments here. Opener ‘Turn Around’ is just an assault on the senses with strings to the fore and a beat that thrums to the staccato of the piano. Next is ‘My Mind’ which is a full on pop song with guitars right up front. The lyrics are ‘very personal’ too according to the press release that I read, but these are just great melodious songs.

The styles do vary from song to song and indeed within songs – ‘Feel Like’ starts off with just an acoustic guitar and then by the time we get to the chorus it just takes off with melodies and everything including the kitchen sink being thrown into the mix for a sound so rich it ought to be floated on the stock market. ‘I’ve been loved’ is just a beautiful lament with just acoustic strings and guitar, but losing no power as a song in the slightest.

‘Alone’ is a stunning builder of a tune the sort that is worth waiting for and quite literally soars – brilliant. There is not a single bad track here – actually there is not one even below excellent – which is a rare accolade these days. Just a word on the instruments here, we have trumpets, French horn, saxophone, string quartet and a tzouras which is a Greek thing apparently and it sounds bloody lovely. There is also ‘rockin’ moments too and he knows how to get his ‘axe’ out too (that is muso speak for electric guitar apparently) actually ‘Ready’ has a rift that most grunge garage bands would die for. There is just so much crammed in here that to nail it in one pithy sentence is impossible – so I will go with poptastic and be done with it.

Skeleton Twins [Import]
Skeleton Twins [Import]
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 30.97
23 used & new from CDN$ 3.62

4.0 out of 5 stars Warm and Enjoyable offbeat comedy, May 23 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Skeleton Twins [Import] (DVD)
Twins Milo and Maggie have not seen each other for ten years then Maggie gets a call to say her estranged brother is in hospital after a failed suicide attempt.

She goes to see him out in L.A. and brings him back to New York. There he gets to confront his past, their joint histories and whatever the future may hold. This is essentially them getting to know each other again after such a long hiatus and in doing so holding up a metaphoric mirror to each other.

Now this started out a bit slow but once it picked up it is really engaging. Bill Hader as Milo manages to capture the complexities of some one full of life’s disappointment but still with reserves of joy that just need tapping. Kristen Wiig plays his sister who has more layers than an onion in terms of how she juggles her various needs. In other words they are both just really human with the same frailties we all have. This is a comedy but it is somewhat dark and often wry but I still found this to be extremely enjoyable for all that – recommended to those who like an offbeat comedy.

Hold My Home
Hold My Home
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 20.57
25 used & new from CDN$ 8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Band, Brilliant name and a stonkingly good album, May 18 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Hold My Home (Audio CD)
I have been a fan since I first heard ‘Hospital Beds’ and this is their fifth studio album and I have to say it’s as full of vim and toe taping, hand clapping tunes as any album I have ever heard. The opener has the signature piano riffs and Nathan Willet giving it all on the vocals and was the first single off this album - ‘All this could be yours’. Second track is ‘First’ and it has the aforementioned hand claps and the entire song is a singers dream from the get go. The drums are proper drumming that drives this along like a steam train on acid. The backing vocals are almost church choiresque – but in a really good way; it was a single too.

‘Hot Coals’ is up next and keeps the mood at just below fever pitch, with the guitars more to the fore. Track 4 is ‘Drive Desperate’ and this is a stopmathon party maker of a song. We finally get a slow(ish) number with atmos echoey drums in ‘Nights and weekends’, but like an unbroken Mustang this just itches to break free with a lovely chorus and is essentially a love song.

I find it very hard to say anything even slightly negative about this album – unlike some of the US critics who were not impressed with the production. It has the feel of a ‘live’ recording and I personally love that rawness that comes hand in hand with a minimalist approach to knob twiddling in the studio (and I mean that in both senses of the phrase). They do bring it down with the salutary ‘Harold Bloom’ as the pen ultimate offering here but it still drips with emotion that grabs your interest and won’t let go. Even where they are leaning towards keyboard funk grooves there is always one foot in soul and it always seems to be a marriage made in paradise. This is now one of my permanent fixtures on my MP3 – if this is what the Cold War spawned then we should bring Brezhnev back or someone with huge eyebrows and a big hat.

Black Sails, complete series two (Region 2)
Black Sails, complete series two (Region 2)
DVD ~ Toby Stephens
Offered by BonnieScotland
Price: CDN$ 46.35
2 used & new from CDN$ 46.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Avast there maties for another rollicking romp through Piratical History., May 18 2015
The first series was a scorcher and the second is just as good - if not even better. Picking up where the second left off with no -one getting the Spanish gold and Captain Flint out of favour. John Silver is still making himself indispensible by teaching Machiavelli a thing or two in duplicity.

We also have the well realised Anne Bonny revealing she has a taste for lady flesh too (as was the case in real life). The story also does a simply excellent reveal to explain why Flint is there in the first place and I must say I was a bit taken aback - but in a really good way. The action is thumping too with realistic canon and musketry and the language is spot on. The ale flows like the blood too in a few places and Charles Vane mumbles his way into yet more high jinks.

This is just a sumptuous presentation and it has that brilliant knack of being absolutely addictive. I wish Amazon had put the whole series out at once and I could have taken a couple of days off work to really enjoy it.

As ever there are brilliant performances throughout but I still think that Toby Schmitz as the rakish Rackham is a pure scene stealer as is the beautiful Jessica Parker Kennedy as Max. This is just great fun entertainment with violence, sex, bawdiness (love that word) and naked lust and greed through out - all wrapped with a flapping Jolly Roger - can't get much better than that.

Criterion Collection: Army of Shadows [Blu-ray] (Version française) [Import]
Criterion Collection: Army of Shadows [Blu-ray] (Version française) [Import]
DVD ~ Lino Ventura
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 120.22
8 used & new from CDN$ 85.07

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Film of a dark part in history, May 17 2015
"L'armée des ombres" was made in 1969 to tell the true story of part of the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation of World War II. It centres around Philippe Gerbier and his cell of operatives. He is given up by a traitor and sent to a concentration camp, but he manages to escape and takes up the fight again.

This documents the very real way that they had to operate and it is done in a completely unvarnished way. They had to be ruthless but often lacked the efficiency and / or training to do things properly. It is filmed in a way that emphasises the coldness of the time. There is a constant sense of unease and looming disaster throughout that keeps you entranced. At one point Gerbier says ‘all debts are paid in the end’ in a prophetic statement of their inevitable fate.

Starring screen great Lino Ventura as Gerbier who apparently refused to talk directly to the director for the duration of filming. Brilliantly supported by Simone Signoret as Mathilde in a role where she simply steals every scene and this is where minimalism is the by word, so some achievement. There are a number of films that all cinephiles need to see and I believe that this is arguably one of them it is certainly one of French cinemas finest films and a very fitting tribute to the members of the Resistance that are depicted here.

Shattered Glass [Import]
Shattered Glass [Import]
DVD ~ Hayden Christensen
Price: CDN$ 12.57
20 used & new from CDN$ 2.44

4.0 out of 5 stars Never Let the Truth Get in the way of a Good Story, May 17 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Shattered Glass [Import] (DVD)
The synopsis of this film is very straightforward – a young and up and coming journalist, Stephen Glass, lands a job at the prestigious and influential news magazine ‘The New Republic’. He is very much the rising star and apparent darling of his editor (Hank Azaria). He seems to have a nose for news and finds things other just don’t even get a sniff at.

Then one of his stories is challenged and all of a sudden he is revealed for the fraud that he really is. What follows is a gripping tale where I found my sentiments go through a complete shift when you see how duplicitous he actually was.

This is based on a real story and is amazing that someone could have gotten away with it for so long – some three years from 1995 to 1998. The actors here are excellent especially Hayden Christensen as the baby faced Glass. Peter Sarsgaard as Chuck puts in an emotionally under played performance too. This though is an ensemble piece and the whole thing has a quality feel from start to finish; a real gem of a film that I find easy to recommend.

DVD ~ Channing Tatum
Price: CDN$ 24.88
8 used & new from CDN$ 15.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Great Performances in a film that ached for some keen editing., May 16 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Foxcatcher (DVD)
This is not a bad film; problem is it should have been bloody great one. It is based on the real life shenanigans of John E. du Pont – one of America’s richest men. He is so rich he can have and do whatever he wants and he wants to have his own wrestling team, and go to the Olympics in Seoul and win gold and him pretend to be the coach and get all the laurels like some latter day Roman Emperor a la mode of Nero oh and have a real friend.

He sets up a state of the art gym and lures two wrestling brothers, the Schultz brothers – played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo to come and join his team called ‘Foxcatcher’. Du Pont is played Steve Carell and all of them put in credit worthy performances and this must have been a very physical role. There is a lot of wrestling – the Roman – Greco sort not the sort that is basically bad choreography (but much more fun) and the need to be very emotional too.

The ‘however ‘here is that some scenes go on too long, even the so called scene setting at the beginning just goes on forever, this is 134 minutes long and there was so much that could have been cut that would have given this more immediacy – which is what is needed in a film that posits itself as a thriller – I would have called it a drama to be honest but that is a small point. This is still well worth watching but I think director Bennett Miller could have left a bit more on the editing suite floor as this story did not lend itself to ‘lyrical delivery’ as it is often euphemistically called and there was a lot more to the story that would have risen it higher in the entertainment ranks too especially about Du Pont, but that is always the choice of the makers.

Lucky Them
Lucky Them
DVD ~ Toni Collette
Price: CDN$ 17.85
6 used & new from CDN$ 7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rock Journo, Road movie Rom Com., May 16 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Lucky Them (DVD)
Toni Collette plays Ellie Klug – a rock journalist on Stax magazine. She has been around the block a few times and not really moved with the times; but she has a ‘Belle and Sebastian’ poster on her wall so I would read her column any day (and that is not a badly phrased euphemism). So her editor (the marvellous Oliver Platt) gives her an ultimatum. And that is to track down her ex – boyfriend and Rock wunderkind, Mathew Smith, and get an interview. He went missing ten years ago and is one of those guys that has more myths about what happened to him than you can shake a stick at – or even a rolled up rock mag.

So she sets out to track him down and enlists the help of a few people along the way and seems to be a bit of a magnet for men with guitars too.

The plot reminded me of the real life story of Rodriguez who was tracked down by a South African documentary team but this has comedy written all over it. Toni Collette really brings her character to life but she is ably supported with an especially sterling performance from Thomas Haden Church as the completely eccentric Charlie. This is not ‘laugh a minute’ stuff but it is very warm and wants you to go along with it and enjoy the ride. It did not get that much attention when it came out which is a tragedy (as the Bee Gees would have said), but it is well worth giving a chance.

Breach (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
Breach (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Chris Cooper
Price: CDN$ 12.97
68 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping tale of espionage at the heart of the FBI, May 13 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Breach (Widescreen) (Bilingual) (DVD)
I streamed this as it sounded interesting and also had Ryan Philippe in it whom I quite like. It is based on the true story of Robert Hanssen who was caught after spying for 25 years and was at the very heart of the FBI - he was though extremely clever.

The story then jumps back two months and we see how rookie Eric O'Neil is assigned to work with him and told to look for the most unusual aspects of everything that his new boss says and does. What pans out is a really taught and well acted piece of film making. Chris Cooper (`August - Osage County') as Hanssen plays it both as `Mr Nasty' and the church loving `born again' Catholic.

Made in 2007 this is a film that has not lost any of its punch but seems to have been mostly ignored - which is a pity as I really enjoyed it and feels it deserves a much wider audience; great acting, great story and great production values - recommended.

DVD ~ Andreas Lust
Price: CDN$ 34.95
18 used & new from CDN$ 13.98

4.0 out of 5 stars German true crime story of running from Justice, May 13 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Robber (DVD)
Well I say it’s a true story it is, as usual, based on real facts. The film is about a marathon runner called Johann Rettenberger played by the uber brilliant Andreas Lust (‘Munich’). After being released from prison for armed robbery he goes on to win a Viennese marathon. He is though a loner and his parole officer is concerned that he seems to shun the company of others – ‘the loneliness of the long distance runner’ personified as it were.

He soon moves in with an old flame who is still carrying a torch for him. He meanwhile remains as cold as a fish and aside from practice runs he starts to do armed robberies all over Austria. He seems to love the thrill of the chase as much as the loot he is making off with. What follows is a really extraordinary story of a life quite literally on the run. This is in German with good English sub titles.

This is a very well made film, with Lust putting in an excellent performance of a man who is so far removed from societal norms that he has his completely own set of values. This is based on a novel but the real story comes from Johan Kastenberger who did all his robberies in a Ronald Regan mask and his story is probably more sensational than as depicted here. Either way a really superb way to spend 100 minutes and a film I can recommend to all lovers of Euro based crime cinema.

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