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

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Fear and Desire [Blu-ray]
Fear and Desire [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Frank Silvera
Price: CDN$ 16.99
21 used & new from CDN$ 16.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Kubricks’ First Feature Film that he tried to disown, Nov. 22 2015
Made in 1954 this was Stanley Kubrick’s first film and shortly afterwards he tried to disown it and not deciding not to re-release the print. However, it was processed by Kodak and they had a policy of making a spare copy for their archives and this is the version we see today. It is set during a fictitious war with fictitious armies and no explanation as to why they are at war.

Four soldiers are lost behind enemy lines and have to get back to their side. On the way they encounter the locals, the enemies air base and have to face up to a few demons of their own – not always successfully.

Now some have panned this film, whilst fans still rave about its authenticity etc. The main characters wear German WW II helmets with camouflage on them and are American – the enemy also speak English and are white American looking. The acting is very one dimensional with no one writing an Oscar acceptance speech. The concepts of fear and desire are examined but in a way that is far from in depth, but it still is watchable but is not a film I will be recommending to friends unless they are a massive Kubrick fan.

DVD ~ Hugo Bolton
Price: CDN$ 32.44
17 used & new from CDN$ 14.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Ménage a trois for all the wrong reasons, Nov. 21 2015
This review is from: Wasp (DVD)
James and Olivier are going to stay in Olivier’s south of France country home for a romantic holiday. Caroline is a friend of James’s and has just been dumped by her boyfriend and James being a thoroughly nice bloke – invites her along only quelle horreur she accepts!

Once they start to kill time enjoying themselves it soon becomes obvious that Caroline is having an effect on the pairs relationship and as the French summer slowly and languorously ebbs past so too the shifting emotions of the three start to change.

Now this is an independent film and the only characters are the three aforementioned ones. However, it does not suffer for it. It is well acted and filmed with only a few moments where I felt the scene added not very much or indeed went on a bit too long. That said the overall effect is of a confident and well made indie effort that actually does credit for all involved.

Connection [Blu-ray] [Import]
Connection [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 39.73
15 used & new from CDN$ 24.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Period Drama – the real ‘French Connection’, Nov. 18 2015
This is the other half of the story of seventies classic - ‘The French Connection. Jean Dujardin (‘The Artist’) plays Magistrate Pierre Michel who in 1974 gets promoted to deal with organised crime in Marseilles. Gilles Lellouche (‘Mea Culpa’ and ‘Mesrine’) plays the drugs uber lord ‘Tany’ – who rules with an iron fist and any other implement that can come to hand. He runs a crime network that includes night clubs, casinos and restaurants and will do anything to keep what he has and make tons more cash

This is one of those times when crims made so much money that they could buy their way out of trouble – even before they were in it. So inevitably Michel has more than the crooks to do battle with. It follows the story from the mid seventies and into the eighties and it is one helluva ride.

The period detail is excellent, the cars, fashions and the music are all spot one – even the decor. There is violence and plenty of potty mouth goings on, but it is all in context. It is also a stylish film that means that most shots are great to look at as well as being intensely entertaining. This is a film that should get a lot more attention and if you are a stranger to French cinema it may be a good one to start with to see just how well they can make them.

The Great Swindle
The Great Swindle
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inventive, Ingenious, Irrepressible and any other compliments beginning with the letter ‘I’ - this is an outstanding novel, Nov. 15 2015
This review is from: The Great Swindle (Kindle Edition)
In the dying days of World War I an ambitious and ruthless Lieutenant d’Aulnay Pradelle orchestrates one last – and pointless- attack on German lines. In doing this he commits the worst of crimes. His crime is discovered by two soldiers, but this causes events to take an unexpected twist. The two soldiers will have their lives changed forever and also have their fates tied to the coat tails of the very ‘bad lieutenant’.

These two are the low born Albert Maillard and the moneyed- if troubled- Edouard Pericourt. The fututre for both men seems less than bleak – but to say more would ruin the plot. Lieutenant d’Aulnay Pradelle gets his promotion but faced with a falling down country pile he decides to do a little gold digging for himself, after all why should war profiteers have all the fun? This means he embarks upon a course of action that will too bring changes to many.

Now this is a beautifully written book – translated from the French by Frank Wyne – and hats off to him for such a good job. There is also a glossary at the back as some of the references do not translate very well especially social references. It was the winner of The Prix Goncourt, and deservedly so. This is one of those books that mages to paint pictures with words and as such is exactly the sort I appreciate. It is around 450 pages but none of them are wasted with padding and it is one of those books I found hard to stop reading. Completely and utterly recommended.

VAMPYR [Import]
VAMPYR [Import]
Price: CDN$ 35.69
15 used & new from CDN$ 35.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Ach Mein Gott this is scary, Nov. 15 2015
This review is from: VAMPYR [Import] (DVD)
Made in 1932 this black and white chiller from acclaimed director Carl Theodore Dreyer (‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’) is considered by some to be the best horror film of all time. I think it is up there but there are others of more merit – ‘Nosferatu’ being a classic example. This is all about a young man Alan Grey who is obsessed with the supernatural. He turns up at some eerily old World boarding house in the village of Courtempierre, where an old man enters his room, leaves a parcel and goes away.

He then follows some ghostly shadows to an old castle where he uncovers evidence that vampires do exist and they feel one is active in that area and in that house from there on things get more macabre but.

Now this not only ticks all the boxes needed for classic horror but it’s fair to say it probably invented a few of the boxes in the first place. The use of reverse camera techniques, the shadows that tell the story, the overlaying of pictures for ghostly effect and repeat imagery to heighten the senses are all here. The use of lighting is phenomenal and the acting is just the right side of spooky to have you on the edge of your seat without appearing to be hammy. Most of the actors only ever appeared in this film – they were not professionals. Julian West who played Alan Grey was actually minor Russian nobility who funded the film on the proviso that he got to star in it. His real name was Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg.

This was made just at the end of the silent era and so you still have great facial acting and brilliant use of the eyes to convey emotions – mostly fear. It is in German with good sub titles and it’s just over an hour long – this is one of the greats and should be on your must see at least once list if you are a true cinephile.

Coming Out Saison 2 (Version française)
Coming Out Saison 2 (Version française)
DVD ~ Mélanie Pilon
Price: CDN$ 14.99
15 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars More from the Canadian Gay Friends, Nov. 14 2015
If you did not get Season 1 then no need to worry as you can pretty much pick this up from the start and the references to the past are all pretty much fleshed out. It is basically the story of a group of Montrealers and their troubled love lives and day lives. Mat seems to be the main character; he has returned from New York but one of the first people he meets is his ex boyfriend. This is the man he left to get away from – but is there still a spark?

We also have the two doctors the husband of one has left her (this is the cop) and now lives with her colleague playing ‘not so happy families’ with his two daughters. Plus the lesbian social worker, the fabulous Mexican art promoter and a ton of other larger than life characters all vying for your attention.

This series follows a similar format to the first in that there are twelve episodes that all last around 10 minutes each. Now this is good and this can be bad. Good in that they do not waste any time at all and bad because as soon as you get hooked the bloody titles come up and you have to fast forward for the next tantalising nugget. It is though worth the fast forwarding effort as altogether this is nearly two hours of excellent television – the main language is French and the translations are mostly good. This is not a sex fest either bit it still has its ‘boudoir’ moments – all in all rather good and I watched the lot in one hit which has to be a sign of something a tad addictive.

Tell No One [DVD] [Import]
Tell No One [DVD] [Import]
Offered by usedsalesca
Price: CDN$ 14.54
4 used & new from CDN$ 14.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab, Italian gay comedy, Nov. 11 2015
This review is from: Tell No One [DVD] [Import] (DVD)
Original title of this was `Come non detto' roughly meaning best left unsaid. Released as `Tell no one' which makes it sound a tad sinister but it is actually a very warm comedy. It is all about Mattia who is gay but is too ashamed / afraid to come out to his parents, he has to his friends and has had to suffer abuse at school too. So he is moving to Madrid to live with his boyfriend - Eduardo. The thing is he has told Eduardo that his family are all in the know and are all happy swinging liberal types who welcome his gayness.

The problem is that his father keeps displaying behaviour that is almost homophobic, his mother is a bag of nerves, his sister is a resentful baby making machine and his 83 year old gran keeps applying for any job that is advertised irrespective of how unsuitable that it may be for her. Then on the eve of Mattia's leaving, Eduardo tells him that - big surprise - he is arriving in Italy that night for his farewell diner party.

What follows is a very funny, often a bit madcap but always entertaining romp as Mattia and friends try to stop his whole world from blowing up in his face.

I really enjoyed this, it is well acted, over the top when it needs to be stupid in the right places and with good translations in the sub titles; everyone was engaging and even the end credits were good. This is one that it is very easy to recommend and I hope you ruddy well enjoy it as much as I did.

Offered by usedsalesca
Price: CDN$ 9.19
9 used & new from CDN$ 9.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Danish Tale of a father Accused of the worst crime, Nov. 11 2015
This review is from: Accused (DVD)
Henrik and Nina are happily married, he works as a Swimming Instructor and she is devoted to him. They do have a troubled teen daughter, who we find out is withdrawn, needs counselling and is prone to making things up. Then Henrik gets a call seemingly out of the blue, that lets him know that his daughter Stine, has accused him of sexually abusing her on a number of occasions. The authorities waste no time taking action.

What happens next seems to be totally unreal and Henrik is judged without trial by so many people. As more people find out, the strain on his marriage and also sanity start to take a heavy toll.

This was originally released in 2005, but it stars Sofie Gråbøl as Nina who has found deserved fame in TV series `The Killing' and if you are a fan check her out in `Aftermath' too for an outstanding performance. This then is another Nordic Noir treat, set in Denmark it is a story that is completely gripping and will hold your attention from the very start, a thing the Scandinavians seem to do rather well. This tackles a very dark subject and does so in a responsible way, but it is the anxiety and tension that had me transfixed.

It is also completely unpredictable which just added to the whole experience. The cast are all superb and as expected the direction and pacing are flawless. In Danish with really good sub titles and a smidgen of English. When you see quality you just know it is, almost instinctively, and this most certainly is that - ruddy excellent. If recent successes are going to cause more of these films to be resurrected, then keep them coming, I am a now a committed fan to the whole genre.

New Girlfriend [Blu-ray] (Version française) [Import]
New Girlfriend [Blu-ray] (Version française) [Import]
Price: CDN$ 32.57

4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing French Drama from the pen of Ruth Rendell, Nov. 11 2015
Claire has a best friend in Laura, they have been close since they met as children and have grown and lived their lives together. We start the film with Laura’s funeral – she leaves behind a loving husband and a baby daughter. Claire has promised to care for her friend’s family and after much grieving she goes round to the house to comfort David.
*Mild plot spoiler*
Once there she makes a discovery about David that will change all of their lives. Now to say any more would be a plot spoiler but if you notice that Romain Duris is credited with both a male and female part in this film it is a good indicator of where this is going.

Written by Ruth Rendell this is actually a very warm and caring film that has the air of realism throughout. It is the sort of film that pulls you in and keeps you hooked. In French with good to average sub titles regarding translation, you will also get some good make up and fashion tips. I really enjoyed this film and so find it easy to recommend.

Hidden Away [Import]
Hidden Away [Import]
Price: CDN$ 33.17
14 used & new from CDN$ 17.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, Moving and Brilliant Spanish Film of a first Love, Nov. 5 2015
This review is from: Hidden Away [Import] (DVD)
Original title for this Spanish gem is `A escondidas'. Rafa is fourteen and hangs around with his mates - some of whom are less than mature. They are also very `anti Arab' and display the usual teenage attitudes towards sex - being default heterosexual. He plays water polo in his spare time and then his path crosses with a strikingly good looking Moroccan boy called Ibrahim. Ibra as his friends call him lives in a hostel and has no-one back in his native home. The authorities though are falling over themselves to repatriate as many people as possible and do not always want the letter of the law getting in their way.

With that as the backdrop Rafa has an immediate liking for this new kid and goes out of his way to get the attention of Ibra. He is though crossing more than one line by so doing but Rafa is a tryer and god knows we all love one of them - this is their story.

This film is brilliantly acted with a script that gives life and clarity to a very real situation that most of us would never think we would be in. The music is excellent too I spotted the much under rated Fanfarlo in the mix but there is not a full listing on IMDb so I will keep an eye out for the other bands used here as they were all great.Yes this is essentially a gay themed drama but there is no bedroom antics - this is more about teen, first love under extreme circumstances and the friendship that such feelings can induce. I thoroughly enjoyed this and can highly recommend it to not just lovers of gay cinema but anyone who loves a ruddy good love story.

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