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All reviews - Movies (107) - TV Shows (28) - DVDs (14) - Books (35) - Music (49) - Games (24)

Complex tale of the human psyche

Posted : 14 years, 3 months ago on 22 April 2008 07:00 (A review of Double Vision (Barker, Pat))

Pat Barker is a very gifted writer. She writes about her characters like she has known them all her life and her portraits of them are intimate and complex. All her books have a smattering of damaged and/or twisted characters. She can create these characters without even a hint of a false note. They are not the rabidly violent killers than seem to inhabit most thrillers. Rather, they are people who have a more pronounced dark side than the average person (a point she does not fail to emphasise by exploring the dark sides of the more 'normal' characters in her stories).

This book is another in a series of exceptional books she has produced. A fantastic read from start to finish with more than it's share of surprises, right to the very end.


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The actors get better each time around

Posted : 14 years, 4 months ago on 21 April 2008 02:45 (A review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

The great advantage of keeping your main cast together for (presumably) the whole movie series is that they get more comfortable with their characters as the go on. With the Harry Potter movies, it's paid off handsomely. The acting in the fourth (Goblet of Fire) and fifth (this one) movies has been the best of the series.

The thankfully got rid of Chris Columbus as director after the first two clunkers and started to take a few more liberties with the story. Slavishly following the books led to two pretty dull movies, that I could really have done without. Although, it must be said that the directors that came later had the advantage of experienced actors and less effort required for character development.

Looking forward to the remaining movies.


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Same old wine, new bottle

Posted : 14 years, 4 months ago on 21 April 2008 02:33 (A review of The Forbidden Kingdom)

Jackie Chan and Jet Li finally make a Hollywood movie without embarrassing themselves or the audience. The story isn't original but the acting is pretty good and the production quality is excellent. If you like martial arts movies, this will be satisfying enough.


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Sharp witted Star Wars spoof

Posted : 14 years, 4 months ago on 19 April 2008 07:05 (A review of Robot Chicken: Star Wars)

Star Wars will always have a special place in movie history. That makes it a target for all kinds of spoofs, it's almost a cottage industry. It takes something special to stand out of the crowd. I was surprised to learn that Seth Green co-wrote the material. He's a very talented comic writer.


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Engaging in some parts, mostly just blah

Posted : 14 years, 4 months ago on 18 April 2008 09:42 (A review of The Thomas Crown Affair)

The movie has some clever and engaging parts. For most of it, it's dull, the acting is mediocre and it's just not very interesting. I really wanted to like it but by the time it ended, I was glad it did.

Maybe the original is better, I've certainly heard better things about it.


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Oh, what a voice!

Posted : 14 years, 4 months ago on 17 April 2008 06:36 (A review of Rockferry)

She sounds like the saner younger sister of Amy Winehouse, except Duffy is Welsh, not English. She has a beautiful voice, deep and rich. The debut album is awesome pop music, tinged with a little 60s style soul. The songwriting is varied and the production is immaculate. The album just *sounds* so great. The best new album of the year so far.


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Underwhelming re-edit of TV series

Posted : 14 years, 4 months ago on 15 April 2008 12:10 (A review of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man)

The OVA is a re-cut version of the first season of 'Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex' anime series that follows the major story arc of the series about the hacker, 'Laughing Man' and his motives.

The editing cannot hide the disjointed nature of the story, which is inevitable given that almost all the footage is from the original episodes which had their individual emotional crescendos. Unfortunately, the character development has been almost completely edited out of the movie since those episodes generally did not form part of the main story arc. All in all, it's a poor substitute for watching the original anime series and works only as a recap of the main plot, rather than something that can stand on it's own.


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Quite boring

Posted : 14 years, 4 months ago on 13 April 2008 05:44 (A review of The Unbearable Lightness of Being)

The book was a dry read but what the movie also lacks is most of the intellectually engaging parts. So it is interesting at times but for the most part is dry and un-engaging on an emotional level. Good acting cannot save this either. It reminds me of 2001: A Space Odyssey, in that the movie was hard to completely understand without having read the book. However, 2001 was still a very good movie.


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Expected more than what I got

Posted : 14 years, 4 months ago on 12 April 2008 07:03 (A review of Smart People)

The premise of the movie isn't the most original. Dennis Quaid plays a widowed professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He is pompous, acerbic and having a hard time moving on from the death of his wife. He doesn't have much of a relationship with his son and his daughter is an isolated teenager who tries very hard to fill the gaps in their life by being the perfect housekeeper of sorts. The characters in the movie are 'smart people', smart as in intellectual and brainy, but not very good at the social lubrication that is very much a part of everyday life. This makes them isolated and lonely.

Life forces some changes on them and brings in new people into their lives. What I really like about the movie is that none of these characters have any epiphanies or life changing revelations and suddenly become 'better' people. The characters gently come out of their shells and try to become happier people.

The movie traces the several months of the story with good humor without going overboard and the acting is top notch. However.... I liked the premise so much that by the midway point, I was expecting a little more than the rushed climax. It was a little incongruous considering the languid pace of the rest of the movie. So, I came away a little disappointed.

'Smart People' is a mostly smart movie.


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Thoughtful and thought provoking

Posted : 14 years, 4 months ago on 7 April 2008 06:24 (A review of The Left Hand of Darkness)

From the summary of the book:
"On the planet Winter, there is no gender. The Gethenians can become male of female during each mating cycle, and that is something other cultures find incomprehensible.

The Ekumen of Known Worlds has sent an ethnologist to study the inhabitants of this forbidding, ice bound world..."

This book speaks at different levels. It is a tale of politics and war. It is a tale of contact between two species, It is also a commentary on gender and gender roles. Being science fiction, it talks about technology and other scientific aspects of the tale such as biology and evolution as well.

There is no romanticising of any of these aspects in the book, which makes it something less than a breezy read. Le Guin takes her time to flesh out the landscape and characters (the landscape could very well be considered a character in it's own right). However, the same quality also makes it intelligent and thought provoking. Unsurprisingly, the last quarter of the book is the most rewarding as the story rushes to a climax. Even in that, it never sacrifices the harshness of the writing, one that edges on brutality. The harshness is reflected in the permanent winter of the planet where the story is set.

This is what all great science fiction should aspire to be.


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