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Amanda Richards (Georgetown, Guyana)
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Max Payne
Max Payne
DVD ~ Mark Wahlberg
Price: CDN$ 31.91
10 used & new from CDN$ 6.12

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Riding with the Valkyries, Dec 18 2008
This review is from: Max Payne (DVD)
Max Payne: I don't believe in Heaven. I believe in Pain. I believe in Fear. I believe in Death.

Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):

1. This is an action movie based on a video game
2. Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is a detective whose driving passion is to find the people who murdered his family.
3. While following up on likely leads, he meets a young woman named Natasha, and having no etchings, he takes her home to see her tattoos
4. Things go very wrong, and he chucks her out, only to have things get much worse.
5. Payne follows the ride of the Valkyries, and is soon caught up in a web of drugs, hallucinations, lies and betrayals.
6. To be continued...

If you're in the mood for a dark, violent action movie with a script that reads like a graphic novel, then this one is for you. Look for great performances by Wahlberg, Beau Bridges, Mila Kunis, Ludacris, Chris O'Donnell, Amaury Nolasco, Olga Kurylenko and Nelly Furtado (Yes, THAT Nelly Furtado)

(Rated PG-13, but deserves a PG-17 rating.)

Amanda Richards

The Duchess (Bilingual)
The Duchess (Bilingual)
Price: CDN$ 7.99
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let's give them something to talk about,, Dec 18 2008
This review is from: The Duchess (Bilingual) (DVD)
Lady Spencer: All of London is talking.
Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire: Oh, let them talk!

Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):

1. An arranged marriage to the older and wealthy Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes) made young Georgiana (Keira Knightley) a Duchess.
2. Unfortunately, the Duke was a man of few words, and the job description for his wife included only three tasks - bear heir; look pretty; no talking.
3. This did not sit well with the vivacious, articulate and charismatic Duchess, whose baby switch seemed set on pink instead of blue, and who had a natural flair for partying and politics
4. Soon the Duke starts triangulating the relationship, and the Duchess retaliates with a bit of Earl Grey.
5. Everyone lives scandalously ever after

Excellent acting performances are given by Fiennes and Knightley, as well as by the always impressive Charlotte Rampling (Lady Spencer, mother of Georgiana), Dominic Cooper (Earl Grey, also from Mamma Mia!) and Hayley Atwell (Bess Foster, really close friend of the Duke and Duchess)

The costumes and settings are breathtaking, and although somewhat lacking in depth, this movie adaptation of the life of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire does not disappoint as pure entertainment.

Amanda Richards

August Rush (Bilingual)
August Rush (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Freddie Highmore
Price: CDN$ 4.88
29 used & new from CDN$ 2.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A song, a song, high above the trees, Dec 18 2008
This review is from: August Rush (Bilingual) (DVD)
"Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere. In the wind... in the air... in the light. It's all around us."

Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):

1. Boy musician (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) meets girl musician (Keri Russell) and they make beautiful music up on the roof before going their separate ways
2. Little orphan boy (Freddie Highmore) hears music in the wind and feels a connection to the parents he never knew
3. Desperately seeking parents, he winds up in New York City where he is taken in (in more ways than one) by a man named Wizard (Robin Williams, channeling Fagin)
4. He discovers a previously dormant musical talent, and impresses everyone
5. Fairytale ending will leave you asking or more

This movie is actually a modern day fairy tale, with an incredibly talented cast and a fantastic soundtrack. In fact, it is the music that makes it so special, and I can't recommend it highly enough. This is one to own and watch over and over again.

"All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do... is listen."

Amanda Richards

Semi-Pro
Semi-Pro
DVD ~ Will Ferrell
Price: CDN$ 8.98
31 used & new from CDN$ 0.74

3.0 out of 5 stars Here comes the Alley... and there goes the Oop!, Dec 16 2008
This review is from: Semi-Pro (DVD)
Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):

Time: The `70s

1. Will Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, a one hit wonder who owns, coaches and plays with his basketball team the Flint Tropics.
2. As you would expect, the team isn't doing very well
3. Down and out, but not giving up, Moon negotiates a chance for his team to join the NBA
4. Maybe white men can't jump, but he trades a major appliance for Ed Monnix (Woody Harrelson) anyway
5. Coffee Black (Andre Benjamin) finds his form and soon the team is no longer considered the "OutKast" of the ABA
6. Moon raises the entertainment level to include dancing seahorses and bear wresting at half time
7. After receiving some valuable advice from Patti Labelle, the team almost achieves the predictable.

This is typical Will Ferrell stuff - I'd rate it better than Step Brothers, but worse than Blades of Glory. Ferrell's over the top antics are the main reason for watching this movie, even though at times it's more like morbid fascination. Andre Benjamin is good, even though his impressive afro is even better, and Harrelson? He hasn't changed a bit.

Rent (don't buy) for the basketball, and stay for the half-time show.

Jackie Moon: Everybody panic! It's just like the Titanic but it's full of bears!

Amanda Richards

The Lazarus Project (Bilingual)
The Lazarus Project (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Lambert Wilson
Offered by kingoftradeonline
Price: CDN$ 14.99
4 used & new from CDN$ 9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes, they come back, Dec 16 2008
"For I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"

Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):

1. Ben Garvey (Paul Walker) is an ex-con who has done his crime, his time and his parole, and has just become a free man
2. He has a wife (Piper Perabo) and a daughter to support
3. He loses his job
4. Before the ink on his termination papers is dry, he proves that he's not so reformed after all
5. Big mistake - huge
6. In defiance of several books written by John Grisham, his trial and sentence are over in a jiffy
7. He dies
8. Or does he?
9. He wakes up to find that he has a job as a caretaker at a hospital, a second chance, a guardian angel (Lambert Wilson) and the shadow of Death on his shoulder.
10. Or does he?

This is a fairly good psychological thriller if you can skirt around the plot holes and stop yourself from screaming at Garvey when he fails to do things that are blatantly obvious to everyone else, or does things that are incredibly dumb.

Walker does a good job in the lead role, and Perabo deserves a medal for tolerance. Bob Gunton (Rendition, The Shawshank Redemption) is especially effective as Father Ezra, the administrator of the hospital, and Wilson shows some of his Matrix mettle even though his is a relatively small part.

A good one to rent, if only to watch Paul Walker come forth

Rated: 3.5 stars

Amanda Richards

Kellie Pickler
Kellie Pickler
Price: CDN$ 9.49
17 used & new from CDN$ 2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, Dec 16 2008
This review is from: Kellie Pickler (Audio CD)
"If the three of us were on Jerry Springer, I'd be pulling her hair
And I'd kick that lying sack of shoulda-known-better in the you-know-where"
(lyrics from "Rocks Instead of Rice")

This is a solid second album from Kellie Pickler, the sixth place finisher on American Idol Season Five. The track list points the way to a very personal album which explores the time-honored country theme of broken hearts.

The songs to watch are "Best Days of Your Life", "Rocks Instead of Rice", "Makin' Me Fall in Love Again", "Don't You Know You're Beautiful" and "Lucky Girl". This album also firmly establishes Pickler as a songwriter, especially on the humorous songs, and she is credited on five of the ten tracks.

First single "Don't You Know You're Beautiful" is a song with a positive message, advising women to accept themselves for who they are, instead of comparing themselves to others and putting themselves down. Then comes "I'm Your Woman", a personal shout-out by a confident woman, and a nice upbeat song.

"Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You" is a classic break-up song with plenty of hurtin' (re-recorded version from Small Town Girl), and "Lucky Girl" expands on the same theme.

"Did you tell her she's your second choice
'cause I wouldn't be your little toy"

"One Last Time" is a slow ballad which starts off like "Total Eclipse of the Heart", and once again, it's about breaking up, and then comes the upbeat "Best Days of Your Life" (co-written by Pickler and Taylor Swift), which is about ..... you guessed it!

"Somebody to Love Me" deals with loneliness, and then unexpectedly the mood changes with the bouncy "Makin' Me Fall in Love Again" about a new beginning. The album closes with a humorous ode to a shop-a-holic in "Going Out in Style" where she sings:

"Don't be sad or broken hearted
Spread my ashes in the shoe department"

Recommended for any American Idol or Country Music Fan on your list.

Amanda Richards

Anne Murray's Christmas Album
Anne Murray's Christmas Album
4 used & new from CDN$ 10.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going with tradition, Dec 16 2008
If you're looking for a traditional Christmas album of old favorites, then look no further.

Canadian country legend Anne Murray delivers fifteen warm and fuzzy songs for the yuletide season, ten of them from previous albums and five previously unreleased tracks.

The new tracks are:

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
Jingle Bell Rock
Blue Christmas
Baby it's Cold Outside (with Michael Buble)
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (with Diana Krall)

Murray puts a country spin on the songs, but the difference is more in the instruments than in the vocals. Simple, subtle and stunning intros and bridges complement that famously timeless voice, making for the perfect album for opening gifts on Christmas morning (providing you were nice, of course - naughty children won't need this album this year)

Anne Murray has six other Christmas albums, and her latest doesn't disappoint. If you're looking for a new album of traditional material, then this is the album to put you in the mood for eggnog and mistletoe.

Amanda Richards

The Diamond of Darkhold (Ember, Book 4)
The Diamond of Darkhold (Ember, Book 4)
by Jeanne DuPrau
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.59
53 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Ember extinguished, Dec 16 2008
This is the fourth in the "City of Ember" series. In book one, The City of Ember, the residents of Ember live underground in a post-apocalyptic world. They have a generator for electricity, indoor plumbing, stocks of canned food and they have never seen the outside world. When stocks start running out, they are led out of Ember by two children named Lina and Doon.

This takes us to book two, The People of Sparks, where the newly emerged Ember people try to fit in to the rustic lifestyle of a small village.

Book three, The Prophet of Yonwood is a prequel, telling of the events leading up to book one.

This book picks up after book two, with Lina, Doon and the people of Ember and Sparks facing a harsh winter and possible starvation. The earth simply cannot produce enough food to feed both communities, and supplies of other essentials are also running low. A traveling trader or "roamer" (read: scavenger) visits the village and Doon buys a portion of an old book that the roamer was using as kindling. The few remaining pages suggest that there is a legacy left for the people of Ember, for the time when it became necessary for them to abandon the underground city.

Lina and Doon decide to return to Ember to find the item mentioned in the book, and find more than they bargained for.

Knowledge of the first two books will be an asset while reading this one. (You can forget about the third book) The book moves along pretty well and will hold your interest until the final chapters. Sadly, a reasonably good story is diminished by an ending that seems to drift away to practically nothing.

Recommended for people who have read books one and two.

Rated: 3.5 stars

Amanda Richards

Enchanted Again
Enchanted Again
by Nancy Madore
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.59
31 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And they all lived happily ever after?, Dec 16 2008
This review is from: Enchanted Again (Paperback)
...... Well, no, not really, if truth be told.

With this new collection of short stories, Nancy Madore reinterprets eight popular nursery rhymes in her distinctive style, each offering a witty, clever and titillating variation on old favorites like Humpty Dumpty and Georgie Porgie.

Written with the modern woman in mind, the collection includes stories about women who have loved, women who have lost, and women who perhaps would have been better off if they hadn't bothered in the first place. You'll need to read it to determine which is which.

Starting off with "Birds of a Feather", Madore tells the tale of a bored housewife looking for a different sort of stimulation, and things take a very strange turn when she finds what she thinks she's looking for.

Next comes "Curly Locks", which goes in a completely unexpected direction, followed by "Desperate Dan", "Georgie Porgie", "Hot Cross Buns", "Little Miss Muffet", "Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater" and "Humpty Dumpty".

They're all page turners, but the ones I'd pick as stand-outs would be "Desperate Dan", "Little Miss Muffet" and "Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater".

Although each story has its fair share of the juicy stuff, this collection is much more than just erotica, with its well developed and unique characters and situations, and lots of sneaky twists thrown in for good measure.

Recommended for fans of intelligent, thought-provoking short stories and steamy literary encounters.

Amanda Richards

Art Models 3: Life Nude Photos for the Visual Arts
Art Models 3: Life Nude Photos for the Visual Arts
by Maureen Johnson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.42
34 used & new from CDN$ 24.42

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Models 2 Go, Dec 16 2008
Once upon a time, two naive kids named Adam and Eve ate fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and discovered that not only did they have bodies, but that their bodies were different. For one thing, it took three fig leaves to cover Eve unless she carefully draped her hair, but only one small one for Adam when the weather turned cold.

Since the big "Garden of Eden" debacle, artists and students (and peeping toms, among others) have been studying the form of the human body, trying to recreate the nuances and curves on cave walls, canvas, paper, papyrus, dinner napkins, bathroom walls and whatever else was at hand. Naturally, not all were successful.

Unless you're Picasso or Willem de Kooning, you'll probably want to put things in their right places and proportions, and the best way to do this is by using a professional Artist's Model. Unfortunately, models don't grow on trees, so if you're model-deficient I'd like to recommend this book with the accompanying CD.

The book features 56 crisp, full color, two-page sets of nude male and female models in various poses, each pose being shown from 4 angles. The CD expands on this with 24 views for each pose, each of which are "zoom-able" to allow the artist to get up close and personal with the subject. The sets include frequently requested poses with high contrast lighting and even some two-model scenarios.

Male models include the hunky Jesse, the boy next door Michael, and the vintage Dan, while the female models range from petite to average-sized. There are quite a few poses by Carolyne, who was six months pregnant at the time, but please note that there aren't any Rubenesque or mature female models. The book includes a serial number to get free poses from the related website, and the CD contains over 1600 photographs.

For art students on the go, this book and CD are the next best things to toting around a live Artist's Model, and are a lot less likely to cause a commotion in public places.

Amanda Richards

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