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Reviews Written by
Laurence R. Hunt "Laurence Hunt" (Kenora, Ontario, Canada)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

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Kingsman: The Secret Service (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
Kingsman: The Secret Service (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Colin Firth
Price: CDN$ 37.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Best of its genre... and it might be a new genre!, April 1 2015
Kingsman is just a little over the top, as it's laced with comic book violence, but somehow, that manages to stay in the background. So, start with a little bit of the Matrix, add in a big helping of "JB" (James Bond, Jason Bourne or Jack Bauer, your pick), and finish, maybe, with Mars Attacks and exploding heads (sorry about that part!)... and wrap it up in a Saville Row suit. How does that sound? Samuel Jackson is a smashing (eccentric) bad guy, newcomers Sofia Boutella and Taron Egerton look to be on the rise, and then you have the dependability of Colin Firth, Michael Caine, and a couple of other familiar names. In summary, a suitable evening's diversion. I hope they do a sequel... I have a soft spot for underground lairs and high tech gimmicks, etc., etc.

We Are The Best! [Blu-ray]
We Are The Best! [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Mira Barkhammar
Price: CDN$ 29.98
2 used & new from CDN$ 28.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh and unsentimental take on how children really grow up...., March 7 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is absolutely one of the freshest of the recent crop of movies. Simple and disarming, the gentle narrative takes you in and brings alive the stories of young people growing up in Stockholm in the 80s. We begin with two girls, Klara and Bobo, both of whom are somewhat invisible to the adults in their lives as well as to their peers. They are creative enough to explore and experiment with the freedom that their marginal status paradoxically accords them. We see Klara, the dominant personality, challenged in subtle and direct ways by Bobo, who, though more reticent, is actually an equally strong character.

One of the most touching aspects of the film is the girls' decision to take in Hedvig, a talented classical guitarist who is more socially disconnected than they, as their close friend. Hedvig proves also to be their equal. Together, the three girls literally ignite as they discover their ability to collaborate in forming a punk band and writing their own music, taking on largely innocent modes of rebellion to create their own niche in a world that mostly leaves them free to find their own way.

The girls are up to the challenge, with the result that the viewer's time spent with them on-screen is richly rewarded. A highlight is the girls' theme song, "Hata Sport" ("Hate the Sport") in which they argue that there are more important things in the world than the next sports competition and "throwing your ball." The real delight of the film is watching all three girls' personalities develop. A breath of fresh Scandinavian air.

Predestination (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
Predestination (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
Price: CDN$ 22.96
5 used & new from CDN$ 15.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only recent film presentation of a Heinlein story that has truly succeeded, March 5 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Almost nothing written by Robert Heinlein has been translated from novel to screen. In fact, only his minor works have ever been done, and until now, the film translations of these minor works have failed or at least disappointed (Puppet Masters; Starship Troopers; 2-3 low budget 50s movies). Well, the short story that Predestination is based on is still a minor work, but the realization on film is jawdropping. From my perspective, this film is a 100% success --- a minor masterpiece. And who is/are the main character(s)? You'll figure it out. With Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook... both at the absolute peak of their form. Noah Taylor is solid in a supporting role. An Australian production (obviously to its advantage.)

Vikings: Season 2 [Blu-ray]
Vikings: Season 2 [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Travis Fimmel
Price: CDN$ 39.99
6 used & new from CDN$ 36.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing almost every desirable feature, including subtitles: This inferior Canadian version should be taken off the market!, Feb. 23 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This inferior Canadian edition of a superlative series is without subtitles, extended episodes, alternate tracks, high quality sound, and possibly other features. As a person with moderate hearing loss, I depend on the subtitles, and I challenge anyone to catch every word in the heat of action without them. Given that the US edition is fully-featured, and that this is a Canadian production, there is no excuse. I was also too late to return this shoddy product. For shame on Phase Four Productions for churning out this piece of sheer junk. And I challenge Amazon.ca to obtain the superior American product. It is more disappointing because I love the series so much! DO NOT BUY THIS. Amazon.com will ship the high quality US version to Canada for a $10 premium, from a lower base price. It's worth it, based on quality alone.

Miss Meadows [Import]
Miss Meadows [Import]
Price: CDN$ 24.28
22 used & new from CDN$ 14.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A morality play dressed as satire, Feb. 6 2015
This review is from: Miss Meadows [Import] (DVD)
This is a morality play, lightly presented. There are comedic elements, but it is hardly a comedy. Katie Holmes is indeed brilliant as the (almost) entirely perfectionistic Miss (not Ms.) Meadows. While the film is easy to watch, it does force the viewer to give thought to its overarching theme, which is that citizens must take action to preserve community safety (this is not a film that revels in violence, though violence is used to set the stage and to drive the primary theme).

The film is also a particular treat for that small minority of us who care about the proper (if not overly exacting) usage of the English language.

While this may be a minority concern, the film lacks subtitles, and I found several of the characters to mumble to the point that I couldn't make out what was being said, even at high volume. There are several child characters, and I had to interpret their communication through their actions and facial expressions, as their words were wholly unintelligible to me. Hopefully in future editions, subtitles will be added.

Carnivale: The Complete Seasons 1-2 [Import]
Carnivale: The Complete Seasons 1-2 [Import]
Price: CDN$ 59.70
21 used & new from CDN$ 49.67

5.0 out of 5 stars It is always the best of the best that are cancelled, Jan. 10 2015
There is ample evidence that we are presently inhabiting a golden age of television production. I have just completed episode 12, season 2 of Carnivàle. Clearly, the series is only establishing itself at this point. The primary quality metrics I employ are (1) how much do I think about the program when I'm not watching it? (2) How high has it moved up on my list of free-time priorities? and (3) How much do I care about the characters and how events develop? On these three metrics, Carnivàle ranks as (1) a constant daily companion in my thoughts; (2) the most important thing I do in my free time; and (3) introducing me to characters I am only starting to know, want to stay with much longer, and get to know much, much better. May I add that something magical must have happened at this program’s auditions? Every character/actor match was inspired. I know that the characterization “unique” has frequently been applied to this series, and it is an appropriate choice. I can think of no other program that has (1) captured and developed the era of the dustbowl; (2) delved into the world of an itinerant, socially marginal subculture and brought it to life; (3) developed a unique (allegorical) mythology that says something authentic about our actual nature as humans; (4) left me thinking long afterwards about the themes explored by each episode; (5) so gloriously revelled in the magic and mystery of human differences and uniqueness; and, perhaps above all, (6) inspired me with regards to the importance and possibly lasting significance of the moral and spiritual struggles of daily life. If I were to fall into a small fortune tomorrow, I would consider using it to develop Carnivàle’s seasons 3-6, as had originally been planned for this series. Bring it back? Carnivàle still lives. Somewhere out there, it is real, even now. I’d sure like to bring it back to the screen.

Carnivale: The Complete Second Season
Carnivale: The Complete Second Season
DVD ~ Nick Stahl
Price: CDN$ 15.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 9.68

5.0 out of 5 stars It is always the best of the best that are cancelled, Jan. 10 2015
There is ample evidence that we are presently inhabiting a golden age of television production. I have just completed episode 12, season 2 of Carnivàle. Clearly, the series is only establishing itself at this point. The primary quality metrics I employ are (1) how much do I think about the program when I'm not watching it? (2) How high has it moved up on my list of free-time priorities? and (3) How much do I care about the characters and how events develop? On these three metrics, Carnivàle ranks as (1) a constant daily companion in my thoughts; (2) the most important thing I do in my free time; and (3) introducing me to characters I am only starting to know, want to stay with much longer, and get to know much, much better. May I add that something magical must have happened at this program’s auditions? Every character/actor match was inspired. I know that the characterization “unique” has frequently been applied to this series, and it is an appropriate choice. I can think of no other program that has (1) captured and developed the era of the dustbowl; (2) delved into the world of an itinerant, socially marginal subculture and brought it to life; (3) developed a unique (allegorical) mythology that says something authentic about our actual nature as humans; (4) left me thinking long afterwards about the themes explored by each episode; (5) so gloriously revelled in the magic and mystery of human differences and uniqueness; and, perhaps above all, (6) inspired me with regards to the importance and possibly lasting significance of the moral and spiritual struggles of daily life. If I were to fall into a small fortune tomorrow, I would consider using it to develop Carnivàle’s seasons 3-6, as had originally been planned for this series. Bring it back? Carnivàle still lives. Somewhere out there, it is real, even now. I’d sure like to bring it back to the screen.

Carnivale: The Complete First Season
Carnivale: The Complete First Season
DVD ~ Nick Stahl
Price: CDN$ 16.99
18 used & new from CDN$ 7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars It is always the best of the best that are cancelled, Jan. 10 2015
There is ample evidence that we are presently inhabiting a golden age of television production. I have just completed episode 12, season 2 of Carnivàle. Clearly, the series is only establishing itself at this point. The primary quality metrics I employ are (1) how much do I think about the program when I'm not watching it? (2) How high has it moved up on my list of free-time priorities? and (3) How much do I care about the characters and how events develop? On these three metrics, Carnivàle ranks as (1) a constant daily companion in my thoughts; (2) the most important thing I do in my free time; and (3) introducing me to characters I am only starting to know, want to stay with much longer, and get to know much, much better. May I add that something magical must have happened at this program’s auditions? Every character/actor match was inspired. I know that the characterization “unique” has frequently been applied to this series, and it is an appropriate choice. I can think of no other program that has (1) captured and developed the era of the dustbowl; (2) delved into the world of an itinerant, socially marginal subculture and brought it to life; (3) developed a unique (allegorical) mythology that says something authentic about our actual nature as humans; (4) left me thinking long afterwards about the themes explored by each episode; (5) so gloriously revelled in the magic and mystery of human differences and uniqueness; and, perhaps above all, (6) inspired me with regards to the importance and possibly lasting significance of the moral and spiritual struggles of daily life. If I were to fall into a small fortune tomorrow, I would consider using it to develop Carnivàle’s seasons 3-6, as had originally been planned for this series. Bring it back? Carnivàle still lives. Somewhere out there, it is real, even now. I’d sure like to bring it back to the screen.

The 100: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
The 100: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 25.49
2 used & new from CDN$ 25.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A relatively strong entry in the teen/young adult genre, with more science fiction themes than most, Oct. 26 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a teen/young adult show that is in competition with franchises such as Twilight, The Hunger Games and Divergent. For those who like science fiction, it is much more science fiction-based than the others. The space station is incredible, a real advancement in CGI and physical set. That being said, the action takes place primarily on a post-apocalyptic earth, and the storylines are built primarily around teen/young adult themes -- varying in maturity level. The protagonist and her family are really great, and there are several strong characters. Quite a few of the foundations and premises of the show are questionable, though obviously you can take them or leave them. In summary, I will call it "best in class," but it's for the younger ones in the family. It's not really an adult show.

Continuum: Season Two [Blu-ray] [Import]
Continuum: Season Two [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 56.62
21 used & new from CDN$ 30.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Continuum creates an imaginary world that draws us in and makes us want to stay, Oct. 25 2014
It has already been said that the Continuum story is improving, and I agree. By season two, it has become much more than a "time travel/police procedural" series. The reflections on developing technologies and where they might go are particularly interesting. Every episode starts with a scene of future Vancouver, and these are particularly well done -- I would rate these among the best I have seen in the development of possible futures! The characters are varied and multi-dimensional, though perhaps not all of them deeply so. A lot of thought has gone into how evolving technologies might influence human behaviour and culture. As is so often the case in film and television, the effort to delve into political topics is amateurish by contrast, though the basic idea that a combined anti-business/anti-technology movement might influence how the future unfolds is a good one, and obviously woven from current and quite realistic threads. Bottom line: I found myself easily suspending disbelief, and liking both worlds depicted (present and future), to the point that these were places I felt I would really like to be, if only to develop greater understanding and to capture the feel of what these worlds might be like. Simon Barry is a fairly junior creator, who has done limited previous work. If this is what he's capable of, I think his future lies ahead of him, and it's going to be a necessary one to follow. My understanding is that this is not a big budget show, though it hardly feels cheap. In balance, I view this series as an advance in the production of television science fiction, one of the best on now, and one that will stand among the best as time passes.

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