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Tommy Dooley "Tom" RSS Feed (London, England)
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Stalingrad [Blu-ray]
Stalingrad [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Stalingrad
Price: $17.99
9 used & new from $17.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Russian CGI-fest about some house called `Stalingrad', July 12, 2014
This review is from: Stalingrad [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This is Russia's entry to the 2014 Academy Awards for best Foreign language film. Problem is the version I saw was dubbed into American. I know there have been issues with the huge sub titles that did not necessarily match the dialogue, but I would always prefer to watch in the original language - which I have now found out was an option but I could not sit through this again. The Germans all speak German so that bit was alright.

Anyway the movie tells the story of a band of Russian soldiers and navy who have to defend a strategically important house in the centre of Stalingrad to protect the Volga crossing. [If only the Germans had brought some planes they could have flown over!] Still never mind, and in this house is Katya who they are all smitten with. They are up against a German of ambiguous disposition, Kahn, who could be a good German or a crazed rapist and xenophobe, the debate is a bit wide open.

We have a number of battles and fighting scenes, which are mostly done in slow motion and with some bizarre camera angles, which are there I suspect, as this was also shot in 3 D so has to have the pizzazz factor for the pop corn addicts. It has very little to do with the actual battle of Stalingrad and the story line could be placed in a fair number of other locations. The action was done very well and the CGI money was generally well spent. The acting is hard to gauge because of the awful dubbing.

There is a lot of pointless dialogue too that seems to act as padding. The soldiers being afire and attacking the Germans at the beginning was a bit of a stretch and set my mind against the film from that point. There was a lot of cash spent on this and yet the overall accomplishment is somewhat flat. It comes across as a bit propaganda filled too but is so unconvincing that it doesn't matter. The German film from 1993 also called `Stalingrad' is a much better watch. Directed by film royalty Fedor Bondarchuk who is a superb actor and he clearly has talent but this film has too many issues to be called `good' so only really watch if you must see all war films. Recent Russian films such as `Fortress of War', `Admiral', `The Star' etc are all much better than what we have here.


Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here
DVD
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Holiday Nightmare Tale from Australia, July 12, 2014
Married couple Dave and Alice are expecting their third child. Alice's' younger sister, Steff, has just started dating an entrepreneur who is based in Cambodia and invites the couple for a week of hedonistic fun before their world is rocked by the wailing of the new baby. They go for the party scene full throttle; then after one particularly busy night, Steff's boyfriend goes missing. This is Jeremy and his phone is still on but there is no sight of him.

Dave and Alice return to Australia and after more fruitless searches so does Steff. The events leading up to the holiday and indeed the happenings in Cambodia are played out in flashback. The narrative can jump around a fair bit so you need to pay attention (or is it me). This is happening as the present events are also unfurling and begin to have an effect on all those concerned. What will be revealed will have resonance for all.

This is a `slow burner' and whilst the story line, at first glance, seems to lack a bit of originality - it actually will keep you guessing for quiet a while. Joel Edgerton (`Warrior' and `Gatsby') as `Dave' puts in an above solid performance but his long suffering wife, Alice, played by Felicity Price gives a performance that would stretch the best of them. It is also well directed and very well shot. The supporting actors are all very good too. It was also part sponsored by Screen Australia which is a credit to them. All in all a film that is recommended for fans of thrillers but who like a slow reveal.


Easy Money: Hard to Kill (In Russian, English Subtitled)
Easy Money: Hard to Kill (In Russian, English Subtitled)
DVD
Price: $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars More Nordic Noir Action from Sweden, July 12, 2014
This is the follow up to the enormously successful `Easy Money'. It has the same actors and picks up where the first one left off - but the good news is you do not have to have seen part 1 in order to be able to follow this one, as everything is put into context. We meet J.W. who has been banged up for his past indiscretions and is reunited with Mrado; who despite his injuries being down to J.W. they have become friends. J.W. has spent his time in prison developing software that will earn him a bucket load of money and hopefully rehabilitate him with his former life.

We also have two stories running in parallel; that of Mahmoud, who is a small fry foot soldier, working for Mr Big - Radovan- who is a Serbian crime lord. And would be drugs trafficker Jorge, who seems to leave a trail of dead behind him wherever he goes.

Although they are all working on their own scams, fate has a hand that will conspire to ensure all their paths cross and the result will not be a happy one. This is a tale of drugs, prostitution, crime lords, violence and money laundering. The violence is gritty and often, but it all felt totally in place given the context of the film.

It is a full on adrenalin rush too with edge of seat action and jaw droppingly good camera work. Joel Kinnaman as J.W. does a superb job as does all the cast. This is in Swedish, Spanish, English, Serbian, Arabic and Croation with very good subtitles and a run time of 96 minutes. Another movie adapted from a novel by Jens Lapidus and another great film to add to the impressive list of Nordic Noir - absolutely recommended.


The Rocket (English Subtitled)
The Rocket (English Subtitled)
DVD
Price: $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Life affirming drama based in Laos, July 8, 2014
This is a film that was made by Australians with the financial assistance of Screen Australia but is set in Laos. It tells the story of ten year old Ahlo. He was born as a twin, his sibling not surviving birth. In his tribe twins are seen as one being good luck and the other being bad - his grandmother decides that he is the bad luck one and thinks he should die.

His mother loves him and he grows up but the curse of his bad luck taints everything. So every misfortune can be related to him. Then the authorities turn up to build a new dam and they have to leave their ancestral home. What follows is a trip across beautiful Laos, a land that is still riddled with ordnance and the scars of the Vietnam War.

Ahlo finally thinks he might be able to prove he isn't cursed when he sees an opportunity to enter the rocket competition of a town. This town awards a big cash prize to the best rocket - in the hope it will please the gods and make it rain.

The journey that they all go on will feature adventures with electricity, malaria, unexploded bombs and Laos' answer to James Brown. This film is one that has at its core a very positive message, but the road is a very rocky and my heart went out to Ahlo and his friends and family on a number of occasions. Writer and director Kim Mordaunt has made a film to be proud of and it is Australia's official entry for an Academy Award 2014 for best foreign language film. In Lao with good sub titles and a run time of 96 minutes, this is a film it is very easy to recommend indeed.


Jackpot (Arme Riddere) (English Subtitled)
Jackpot (Arme Riddere) (English Subtitled)
DVD
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rollicking Good Yarn from Norway., July 6, 2014
This is from the much talented Jo Nesbo and is another fine adaptation of one of his books. This is about Oscar Svendson (Kyre Hellum), he wakes up under a fat lap dancer covered in blood, surrounded by dead bodies and holding a pump action shot gun in the not so up market `Pink Heaven'. Unfortunately for him the cops are already there and after a half arsed escape attempt, he sort of comes quietly.

Once back at the cop shop Inspector SolÝr (Henrik Mestad who is great) starts to interrogate him and we start to piece the story together. He works for a company called Evergreen that makes those fake Christmas trees out of recycled rubbish. They specialise in employing ex offenders and to say there is a mixed bag is a tad of an understatement. Any way the new recruit gets him and three others to go into a syndicate on their football pools with a fail safe plan to win. Needless to say they do and get the life changing sum of 1.7 million kroner. So like all self respecting Norwegians, they celebrate with far too much booze, then the fun begins as does the headcount.

This is billed as a comedy and there are some comedic moments but not the sort to give you face ache. It is humorous especially in how inept everyone is and the completely over the top performances from all concerned, which is a compliment by the way as that was the only way to play something like this. There is a fair amount of gore and some up close and personal violence, the cops are all absolutely nut jobs or useless and his best mate Thor is a great sidekick.

This is a really good film but there is an issue with the sub titles as they are all white and that causes them to be hard to read on occasions, but that did not really detract from the enjoyment. It just whizzed by and kept the surprises coming right until the end. I ruddy well loved it, so for some fun, violence, gore and lap dance fun Norwegian style you need look no further.


Cinema Komunisto
Cinema Komunisto
DVD
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Documentary on the Golden Age of Yugoslav Cinema, July 5, 2014
This film tells the story of Yugoslavian cinema; it features interviews with the players which include the film makers and the actors who all had a part to play in the state run media giant. They built their studios from scratch, not really knowing what they were doing and decided to start making propaganda - which everyone knows is a great tool for getting your political message across.

They went on to make `partisan' films, which were all very formulaic about the struggle to kick the Nazi's out in World War II and what a simply great leader Marshall Tito is/was. As the films started to work they started to make bigger and better films and then the World came calling. That is when they started making blockbusters and using the army as extras by the truck load. The Battle of Neretva - 1969 took so long to make that two lots of soldiers did their military service purely as extras. It starred Yul Brynner and featured a cast of thousands. `The Long Ships' was also a foreign production that was made in Yugoslavia.

Tito was finally played on screen by Richard Burton (Tito asked for him to do it). These are films that do stand the test of time and that Yugoslavs were genuinely proud of. Then 1991 came and the war broke out, despite their best efforts to try to unite against violence the film industry were unsuccessful and the Balkan Wars led to the break up of all that Tito had built.

This is an excellent and rewarding watch, I knew a fair bit but this is a mine of useful information, with loads of archive footage and original shots as well. Anyone who is a real cinephile will want to see this brilliant documentary.


My Last Round
My Last Round
DVD
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gay Pugilist Story from Chile., July 5, 2014
Released in Chile as "Mi Último Round" this tells the story of Octavio (Roberto Farias who appeared in the excellent `No'), he is a boxer who is getting on in years but still loves his chosen sport. Then he meets Hugo (Hector Morales) who has matinee idol good looks and easy charm that soon captivate Octavio.

Octavio also is suffering from an illness that makes boxing a less than desirable occupation, so the two of them up stakes and head off to Sunny Santiago where Octavio can become a hairdresser and Hugo should be able to easily find a job. Only it is winter - so not so sunny and jobs are not that easy to come by. Soon they settle down but events are going to conspire to come between the two lovers. What happens next is a story of love, obsession, homophobia and missed chances.

This is the sort of film that brings northing new to the table, it does however tell a story you may have heard before but in an original and interesting way. This is far from being a bed-fest too so if that is your thing then please avoid. It is convincingly acted and the character portrayals are all spot on. It is all filmed in real locations and that adds to the fly on the wall realism that also makes this so engaging. It is in Spanish with good sub titles and runs to around an hour and a half; made in 2011 but only getting a release here now, this is one that was worth the wait.


Hawaii (English Subtitled)
Hawaii (English Subtitled)
DVD
Price: $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Slow Burning Argentinian Bromance., July 5, 2014
Director Marco Berger has already proven he can make great cinema with `Plan B' and `Absent', so I was expecting great things from this. Initially I was a tad disappointed as the first fifteen minutes of `scene setting' don't seem to go very far. Then it all changes and I was drawn in hook line and sinker.

It is about Martin who is down on his luck and has returned to the area where he grew up but is surviving by doing odd jobs for a few pesos and food. He asks at the house of Eugenio, who is house sitting for his Aunt and Uncle, if there is any work and Eugenio tells him to come back tomorrow and he will see what he can do. What starts out as a handyman, soon turns into a passion of unrequited love that sees both men going on a journey of discovery.

This film has a smouldering quality that makes you want something to happen to break the tension - a mood very reminiscent of `Absent'. Most of the action is concerned with the two male leads and yet it does not feel stifled for it - quite the opposite. It is well written, very well acted and thoughtfully filmed with some beautifully framed shots. It is in Spanish (Argentinean) with a run time of 102 minutes and had me captivated - so I can highly recommend especially if you liked Berger's earlier films.


In Bloom
In Bloom
DVD ~ Kyle Wigent
Price: $17.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `The Spark That Fades', June 28, 2014
This review is from: In Bloom (DVD)
This indie, gay based drama has been compared to Brit, indie hit `Weekend'. I can see the comparisons but actually found this to be a better story. It is about two men Paul and Kurt, the film starts out with them meeting at a party and it is clear that they are somewhat `estranged'; we then go back seven months to when their love was clearly `in bloom' and find out how they got to this stage.

Whilst Paul worked in a supermarket to pay the bills, Kurt was a drug dealer and got to meet a lot of laid back people - some might say too laid back. A chance encounter then starts the clock ticking on the road to separation. We also have a back story of a serial killer who is targeting lone men. What we then have is the painful deterioration of the two lovers relationship and I have to say it was done completely convincingly. Things never just end and this was like watching nails being hammered into the coffin of their shared love.

I found this completely absorbing even though it was far from being a `feel good' movie. Quite the contrary; it dealt with an aspect of relationships that is all too often ignored and that is the breakdown. Director Chris Michael-Birkmeier has made a very good film and has also got two excellent performances from his leading men Kyle Wigent as Kurt and Tanner Rittenhouse as Paul - both of them virtual unknowns but both showing great ability. Not a bedroom fest more a study of a relationship past its best and if you are up for a challenging, intelligent and very human story then you could do a lot worse than giving this one a chance - recommended.


The Undesirables
The Undesirables

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boer War Tale of the Concentration Camps., June 27, 2014
This review is from: The Undesirables (Kindle Edition)
We meet Aletta Venter who is a young girl living on a remote farm in Boer country at the time of the Second Boer War. Her Grandfather, Father, Uncle and elder brother have all gone off on `commando' to take a guerrilla fight to the invading British. The women and children are left behind to face the music. The war was dragging on and Britain's army, being led by Haig, decided on a scorched earth policy to starve to Boers into submission.

So the `Tommie's turn up and burn the farms, kill the livestock, loot anything of value and lead the women and children into concentration camps. Aletta likes to write and she tells her story partly at the camp and partly in retrospect as to what her life had been. We get to hear how god- fearing they all are and as tough as old boots and don't accept that they nicked the land from the resident tribes in the first place. There is a good mix of characters here and everyone should be able to find a kindred spirit to identify with. A story like this needs to build up an empathy bank and this one tries its level best, but most of the qualities of the Boer made it very hard to fall in love with them.

I think it also helps if you did not know much about the history of this period - I did and so the `shock' value was completely lost on me. It was nice to include the works of Emily Hobhouse in her efforts to bring the plight of the camps to the general public. We don't meet too many Brits either but we do have a sympathetic guard - called Tommy who acts as a barometer for the conscience that most would have felt. Dave Boling has researched this very well and is more than a competent writer but don't think this is a Boer Anne Frank - though it is based on actual events. However, if you are a lover of historically based fiction then I think you will find much here to keep you interested - recommended.


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