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Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England)
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Black Sails: Season 1 [Import]
Black Sails: Season 1 [Import]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pirates for Grown Ups in a simply excellent Show, April 15 2014
Well everything you heard was true this is just rollicking good fun. Designed to be a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's `Treasure Island' this show takes real pirates and some fictional ones and throws them into a bawdy mix of greed, lust, jealousy, violence and pirate folklore. Real pirates include Anne Bony, Charles Vane and Benjamin Hornigold - their real stories are explosive enough but this adds to the fun.

The plot is centred around the pirate stronghold of New Providence Island, where Captain Flint is trying to broaden his power base by biting off more than he can chew by capturing the prize of the biggest Spanish Galleon `Urca de Lima'. The island is run by the daughter of the corrupt governor and she has a taste for power, money, men and yes ladies too! We also have John Silver and a more sly opportunist would be hard to come across even on such a lawless island.

Then there is the Royal Navy, the shenanigans of the local brothel and bawdy house, double deals a-plenty and more swashes than you could buckle in a life time (probably). This is a full grown up `Pirates of the Caribbean' with all the filth and bedroom action thrown in to make it both believable and modern enough to cater for a spoilt twenty first century palate.

The actors are all universally brilliant as are the sets and attention to detail. It is hard to single out any for individual praise but here goes; Toby Stephens as Flint and Toby Schmitz as the wonderful rake Rackham are just excellent. We all know this has gone down so well that a second ten episode run is already in the pipeline and if that is not enough to shiver your timbers then you are truly hard to please - absolutely ruddy excellent.

Bad Country Bilingual
Bad Country Bilingual
DVD ~ Willem Dafoe
Price: CDN$ 21.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Yes this is flawed but actually quite a good watch for all that., April 13 2014
This review is from: Bad Country Bilingual (DVD)
Set in Baton Rouge in 1983 this is based on a true story. Detective Bud Carter played with veteran zeal by, possibly the most reliable character actor in America, Willem Dafoe realises he is on to something big when a chance undercover operation leads to him being given the name of someone higher up the crime food chain. This is Matt Dillon playing white supremacist and life choice criminal, Jesse Weiland .

He is at first a hard nut to crack but the ineptness of his underworld cronies soon leaves him with little option but to turn informant. That is when the whole thing starts moving inexorably towards the demise of one side or the other.

This is a really well made film production wise with strong performances and convincing conviction from all the players most notably the two leads and Tom Berringer who owns nigh on every scene he is in. There are a couple of plot holes and incidents of what has to be called `poetic licence' but this is `based on' a true story and as my Granddad used to say `you should never let the truth get in the way of a good story and by jingo the makers have taken that to heart. There is a fair amount of action, plenty of earthy language and enough plot to keep you hooked right from the very start, so long as you can suspend belief a few times - easily recommended for some `not to be taken seriously' viewing.

Kelly + Victor [Blu-ray] [Import]
Kelly + Victor [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 47.20
7 used & new from CDN$ 14.72

4.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous Liaisons – Liverpool style, April 5 2014
Set in Liverpool we meet Kelly (Antonia Campbell-Hughes - `Lead Balloon' TV series) who at first glance looks like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. She has a bit of a sexual proclivity that takes her outside what some would consider the normal social mores of coital intercourse. She is into asphyxiation. Whilst at a nightclub she meets Victor (Julian Morris - `Valkyrie' to name but one credit). They seem to have an immediate rapport and end up `getting it on'.

Well after the taboo of her `need' is out, it seems to grow and their sexploits seem to add more meaning to their lives which, aside from the odd gig with a dominatrix for Kelly, do seem to be a bit mundane. Victor though sees things going too far - the question is where will such dangerously charged sexual needs end?

To say anymore would be a plot spoiler and there is so much more to this film. It is a bit layered and some would argue subtle to the point of obscuring the real message - if indeed there is a tangible one. I felt that it was all about love, lust, real emotions and sexual needs. It plays out like a damaged poem with some of the scenes taking on the surreal to the grotesque - though not literally. Some commentators have berated the film for doing exactly what I feel it sets out to do. That being it is not meant to be a damning indictment on sexually driven desires or as a lesson to `beware', but a story albeit a very moving one about two people who try to connect on a very deep and emotional level.

Not for the easily offended or sexually squeamish, although that side is not graphic, it was never meant to be. If you like you films to push boundaries then this will probably one you would want to see.

You Will Be My Son (Version française) [Import]
You Will Be My Son (Version française) [Import]
Price: CDN$ 25.99
20 used & new from CDN$ 15.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars French tale of wine, envy and familial relationships gone sour., April 3 2014
Niels Aerstrup plays the vineyard owner Paul de Marseul; his son has been off the University to study wine making and has returned with an eye to taking over. Meanwhile the head grounds man, Francois, and to be honest the guy with the real know how is dying. The harvest is due in and Paul does not think his son, Martin, is man enough for the job.

Then due to a fortuitous happening for Paul, the son of Francois returns home – hot from the vineyards of the Nappa Valley – this is Philippe. Paul wastes no time in getting him to be a bit more hands on. He soon reveals his full intentions and makes Philippe an offer to come and take his father’s place. Once that does not move him he offers him instead an offer he will find more tempting than a Château Mouton –Rothschild ’45.

This is heavy stuff and no one comes off looking too good. As greed and self interest are laid bare, like temptations in a Biblical tale, so do people start finding that they are not as egalitarian as they may have thought they once were. Once the tenuous truce between father son, wife and friend is broken then there can not be any going back.

I really enjoyed this film it oozes tension and smouldering resentment in a way that a full on thriller would keep you hooked. Arestrup is just excellent and can be both horribly unlikable and yet totally understandable all at the same time. His over looked son never seems to grow a pair and yet you can’t help but root for him and his wife is as ineffectual as she is beautiful. There is so much going on here, like a great glass of red that I simply can not recommend highly enough – I’m off to find a cork screw.

Inside Llewyn Davis (Bilingual)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Oscar Isaac
Price: CDN$ 31.19
7 used & new from CDN$ 14.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Coen Brothers do sixties folk., April 1 2014
The Coen Brothers are always going to make an exceptional film, but not always one that you would expect. This falls into the latter category. Set in 1961 we follow a short time in the life of Llewyn Davies; he is barely scraping a living playing bars and hoping to get some royalties. He was in a duo that had shifted some units and then his singing mate jumped off The Washington Bridge.

Then after getting a kicking in an alleyway he gets taken in by a fan – he manages to let their cat escape and so starts a bit of an odyssey carting this cat from place to place till he can reunite it. He is also sleeping on the couch of his best friend Jim (Justin Timberlake) and has been sleeping with Jean – Jim’s wife. Everywhere he goes he seems to make things worse as his sister says he has the Midas Touch in reverse. So he goes on a road trip to Chicago to try his luck there as the New York winter in Greenwich Village seems to hold no joy for him. He takes car share with drug addled jazz musician Roland Turner – John Goodman in a bravura performance.

The songs are done beautifully and Oscar Isaac as Llewyn is a piece of perfect casting – he can sing too and is very engaging. The part players are all spot on and the attention to detail is done with care and an eye for the authentic. The cars are often dirty and the streets look 1960’s New York. This though is not a celebration of ‘folk’ music – it is a rather sad tale of a man trying and not really getting anywhere yet keeping the will to go on. There is a feeling of going round in circles which is exemplified by the ending – as if he will never learn from his mistakes. When it did end I was in two minds about what I felt; I thought on it for a number of days and realised that just because it is hard to pigeon hole does not make this a bad film – it makes you think, it is entertaining, it is a tad depressing and yet it is undoubtedly about life, art and love and as such I can only recommend this highly original film.

Missing Picture (Bilingual) [Import]
Missing Picture (Bilingual) [Import]
Price: CDN$ 28.01

5.0 out of 5 stars 'Sometimes a silence is a scream', March 30 2014
This was Cambodia's entrance for the 2014 Oscars as best foreign language film. It tells the story of Rithy Panh who narrates his tale of what happened to him and his loved ones when Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia. Renaming it Kampuchea and taking the country back to year zero. He uses a mix of archive footage and clay figures which have been carved by hand to recreate what took place. The missing picture are the parts of history that was not photographed and as such only those who were there can bear witness to the atrocities that took place.

When the capital Pnom Penh was emptied - over two million people were uprooted and moved into the countryside. They had every modern thing taken away and were only allowed the clothes on their back - except the shoes and a spoon. The clothes had to be dyed black. They were forced to work in the collectivised camps often doing menial back breaking work that had no real value except to crush the will of the people. The individual as a concept was ended - the party was all that mattered. Death and disease were rampant and this is all told using the clay figures. The Khmer Rouge used to fire slogans at the people all day so that even now Rithy Panh can remember them all verbatim - like `Each being will be a revolutionary or fertiliser for rice'.

There are scenes of animal cruelty here from the archives too as well as humans being mistreated. It can be a difficult watch in places but the narrative is often quite poetic. It is all in French with good subtitles. A very moving and sad account of what this poor man went through and told in an unusual medium. Whilst it may seem to be less immediate because of the little figurines, it still packs quite a punch when you hear what took place in 1975 to 1979 to a country the world seemed to have forgotten about.

Metro Manila [Blu-ray] [Import]
Metro Manila [Blu-ray] [Import]
Offered by Rarewaves-CA
Price: CDN$ 73.26
4 used & new from CDN$ 73.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Philippine Tale of Poverty Geed and Crime, March 15 2014
This is the latest film from British born director Sean Ellis (`Cash Back'). It is set in the Philippine capital Manila - hence the title. We meet Oscar Ramirez who has to leave his farm as it won't pay the bills. He takes his wife Mai and his two daughters and with a few savings heads off to find work n the big, bad city. On arrival he finds out that trust is one character trait he should have left in the village. Desperate for work Mai is soon touting her wares at a seedy bar. Oscar finally gets a job working for a security van company.

What he first thinks is his lucky break soon turns sour when he realises his new partner is not the nice guy he has been pretending to be. What follows is the story of what Oscar is forced to do and a roller coaster of a ride it is.

This film captures some of the horrific poverty that exists in Manila and juxtaposes it with the incredible wealth of some of the inhabitants. The issues can be viewed as universal and that helps gain empathy for all the players - well the nice ones. But you can even see why greed becomes a motivation for erstwhile law abiding people. There is some violence here but it is all incidental. The acting is all excellent and it can be very emotional. It had me glued to the screen for the full 115 minutes. In Tagalog so there is some English and with some very goods sub titles; this one is very easy to recommend.

The Reluctant Cannibals
The Reluctant Cannibals
Price: CDN$ 7.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Guess who we are having for dinner?, March 15 2014
I was drawn to this book by the truly splendid title, but don't think this is a tale of desperate survivors of an air crash or some such incident; no this is set amid the enchanting spires of Oxford University. We meet the members of the dangerously exclusive, `Shadow Faculty of Gastronomic Science. This is a dining society of Oxford Dons who make it their life's aim to turn gastronomy into the science they believe it truly is and to taste all that the world of culinary delights has to offer - and drink a fair bit too.

Then one of the members - Professor Arthur Plantagenet gets the unwelcome news of his sudden and unexpected demise due to a dicky heart. Undeterred by this quite catastrophic news, he sees it as a way to further push the envelope of culinary frontiers - and comes up with a plan. This he entrusts into a meticulous and detailed will of what is to be done with his `remains' once he has shuffled off his `mortal coil'; oh and he leave a rather generous legacy too.

Soon the doctors are proven right and his plan swings into action, as well as the normal directions one of the more galling parts is that he wants to know what `we' taste like and he is only too ready to donate his body, or at least a bit of it, to the field of gastronomic inquiry. That's right he wants them to eat him - and make some tasting notes too. What follows is a tale of subterfuge, modest rebellion, lots of eating, some marvellous recipes and some rather ungallant behaviour by certain individuals.

I really enjoyed this book, Ian Flitcroft has a way with words that is almost Wodehouse in that the humour is both dry and full of wit and insight. The characters really come alive - except for Professor Plantagenet of course - and the story is totally addictive. An absolute joy of a read from start to finish. You should also read the notes at the back as they add to and explain even more of the motivation for this original and rewarding piece of literature.

Tomorrow's Hits
Tomorrow's Hits
Price: CDN$ 15.01
21 used & new from CDN$ 10.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Why are these Guys not huge? (and don’t say ‘probably on a diet’), March 15 2014
This review is from: Tomorrow's Hits (Audio CD)
I was drawn to this by the 1970’s style cover and after listening to a couple of samples downloaded it. I had never heard of The Men before but this is their fourth and most expensively produced album to date – apparently. Well it sounds like the band are having an absolute blast, the opening track is ‘Dark Waltz’ and is like a driving anthem with a run off that doesn’t want to end it just stomps its way through with a melody fighting to get out and a great piano banging away. We even get guitar and harmonica solos – one lyric says ‘tried to double park my dreams’ - ruddy marvellous.

Track 2 ‘Get what you give’, is equally great but also completely different and after the intro it kicks in with a simple but very effective beat and an easy on the ear melody and I am sure we have hand claps in there too – which is always a mark of genius (or having run out of instruments). ‘Another Night’ though sounds like a refugee from a ‘Blues Brothers’ out take as it features a horn section that makes this sound like a lost sixties’ classic. The mood keeps on changing though and some of these feel like they were done in one take – which is actually a good thing. ‘Sleepless’ slows it down a tad but still manages to fit in with the rest of the album. Now this is only eight tracks but is a case of quality over quantity as they have cut out any song that wasn’t up to muster in their sessions.

‘Pearly Gates’ is a bit like Captain Beefheart meets Chuck Berry and for me is the hardest song to like here. ‘Settle Me Down’ is much more melodic and borders easy or at least ‘cumfy’ listening with a laid back vocal but still all the instruments are working away with some lovely lead guitar. I have been listening to this for a week or more now and this was a whim purchase as I had three other CD’s to listen to; so I have been more than pleasantly surprised by the original and surprising album. I shall be getting their back catalogue now – I now know what I have been missing.

In Fear
In Fear
DVD ~ Iain De Caestecker
Price: CDN$ 21.98
20 used & new from CDN$ 18.55

3.0 out of 5 stars Brit Horror with a few Scares and a few Issues., March 14 2014
This review is from: In Fear (DVD)
This is yet another low budget, British horror and yes I am a bit of a fan. It tells the story of a couple who have only been together for two weeks but decide to go to a music festival together in Ireland. Once in the Emerald Isle Tom announces to Lucy that he has a wee bit of a surprise; that instead of heading off to a muddy field for the first night, he has booked them into a luxury hotel which he found on the inter web.

This entails following a Land Rover to the destination as it is a bit remote. Well it only takes them part way and then they are told to follow the signs. The problem is that they seem to be going in circles and appear to be lost. The fuel starts to drop as they endlessly try to get back to the main road or the hotel. Then night closes in and as darkness engulfs them so do their options get less easy to see. What follows will give all concerned a night to remember for all the wrong reasons.

Now this received a very wide variance of reactions on its release. It is one of those that has either been loved or at least `liked' or downright hated. One of the issues is it is mostly filmed in the beleaguered car; so we are heavily reliant on the couple for emotional build up to get the fright fest we all want. Some have said they could not see the point and there was no `plot'; well if you blink at the right time you will miss the whole point of what is to come, so I can sympathise with those who have expressed such concerns. The action when it comes seems stilted though and there are a lot of actions that are questionable. The sort of things that people only ever do in horror films, you know go into the dark scary room with no light etc.

Overall it managed to hold my attention right up until the end (it is only 85 minutes long) and it had some very scary moments which worked really well, the cinematography is very good given the limited scope and the scenery looks great. It was actually filmed in Bodmin Moor, Cornwall and not Ireland but it had me fooled. It is on the whole a reasonable effort that I would give 6.5 out of ten hence my star rating. The lessons I will take from this film are always drive straight to a festival and if you are going to book into a hotel give Trip Advisor a go first.

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