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Tommy Dooley "Tom" RSS Feed (London, England)
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Blue Caprice
Blue Caprice
DVD ~ Joey Lauren Adams
Price: $13.99
49 used & new from $5.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Eerie Telling of the 2002 shooting spree, July 26, 2014
This review is from: Blue Caprice (DVD)
Released in the UK as `The Washington Snipers', this tells the story of John Allen Muhammed and teenage accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo who went on a random shooting spree in 2002. John Allen picked up the younger Lee in Antigua where he was attempting to get his three children away from the maternal mother.

The plot jumps back to the States where John Allen has taken his charge to show him all that America has to offer and then take it apart for being corrupt and against him and his ambitions. He leads the young boy to meet some unsavoury types and seems to have some sort of mental hold over him and is able to demand almost total obedience. What transpired managed to make news around the World.

Director Alexandre Moors is making his big screen debut and has chosen a very controversial subject. It is essentially a character study of the two protagonists and what appears to have driven them. That said it never pretends to offer any answers nor does it graphically depict the murders. It uses archive footage and recordings at the scenes to put over the horror of what took place.

It has been criticised and praised for the same things; the way the narrative jumps around leaving parts of the plot hanging or unexplained. As I mention earlier we are offered no great insights or answers as to why these crimes happened, but then this is intelligent cinema in that we really don't know and all speculation is worthless without evidence. The lack of violence has also been seen as an issue and also if this is a character study then why do we still feel as if we don't know either of them at the end?

Well I for one found this to be compelling, very well directed and acted and it manages a cold sense of foreboding right from the start; a kind of deliberate unsettling quality that means you always feel a bit uneasy. This will not be for everyone, but I feel t is a thought provoking piece of cinema that deals with an horrific episode and does so with tact and understatement that adds to the overall impact - recommended.


The Rise & Fall of Great Powers: A Novel
The Rise & Fall of Great Powers: A Novel
by Tom Rachman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.08
78 used & new from $12.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbindingly Good book about a young woman's life., July 18, 2014
Tooly Zylberberg owns a little bookshop in a sleepy Welsh market town. Her sole employee - Fogg - is superfluous to requirements as they are seldom bothered by customers. Then one day she is contacted by an old friend - whom she had left years before without an explanation. She decides to go and tidy up loose ends - find out what happened to the people from her past or just go travelling once more - we never really get to know.

The story flits between episodes in her life when Paul took her around the World as a small child - moving always before any real roots could be put down. A strange and self absorbed woman - Sarah - whom she always found hard to categorise. An eccentric Russian Humphrey who loves reading (non fiction) and playing chess and Venn a mysterious `super hero' type man whom she bursts with admiration for.

The story of her quest and the story of her past are all told back to back and each time a little more is revealed. Sometimes though all is never what it appeared to be and what you have really always wanted could be staring you in the face.

Tom Rachman has woven a wonderful tale of the lives of all the people in this work. He manages to capture the essence of all the characters so well that they just come alive. His writing style is descriptive and fluid and he manages to pull off that wonderful knack of making you want to know more whilst simultaneously not wanting the book to end. An absolute joy from page 1 - simply excellent.


Flu
Flu
DVD ~ Jang Hyuk
Price: $9.96
55 used & new from $4.09

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Korean, Epidemic Actioner, July 14, 2014
This review is from: Flu (DVD)
Yes it's Korean and about an outbreak of nasty flu - the sort that has numbers and letters like HN5D1 or something, so we know it is gonna be bad. What happens is a group of illegal immigrants who are being trafficked in a shipping container all get infected. On arrival in Bundang (just a few miles from Seoul) it is opened and one of the traffickers foot soldiers gets infected. There is only one survivor and he, quite sensibly, does a runner. Said trafficker then goes on a cough and sneezathon across the city.

Then in as little as 36 hours the virus starts to spread, with no incubation period and cold like symptoms in the early stages, this is going to be hard to deal with and then people start dying. The authorities are very soon overwhelmed and drastic measures are taken to contain the outbreak. The story is told through the eyes of a young, attractive, female doctor Kim In-hae (Soo Ae) and her young daughter; and an Emergency Response Team, man called Jigu (Hyuk Jang) - they meet after a car crash and he sort of falls for her, oh and he's good looking too, but you had guessed that.

As the contagion spreads things get ever more desperate and as is essential in these types of films we have to find a cure and turn it into a vaccine and the clock is ticking. As is always de rigueur for epidemic films, we have the authorities being spectacularly wrong and putting profit before people and we also get a load of action, explosions and even shooting. This is what Korea does best, a great big emotional roller coaster with clichés and coincidences by the truck load- sorry exploding truck load. It is over whelmingly sentimental and wears its plot holes proudly on its sleeve. We have the comic asides too that is often a feature of Korean cinema. There is a cast of thousands and the twists keep coming right till the end. If you like Korean cinema you will love this, if you want some serious, thoughtful and original cinema then this is probably not for you. I really loved it but it has its `issues' hence my rating, but I could watch it again and still enjoy it - recommended.


Getting Go
Getting Go
DVD ~ Tanner Cohen
Price: $22.98

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good gay indie., July 13, 2014
This review is from: Getting Go (DVD)
This is a low budget film made by the very gifted Cory Krueckeberg in his directorial debut. He wrote the wonderful `Were the world mine' which starred Tanner Cohen as does this film. Tanner plays Doc, he is a withdrawn, nearly graduated student who writes a blog, lives on Facebook and indulges in cyber sex. He has also gotten all gooey eyed over a go go dancer called `Go' - now you see where the title comes from.

Anyway he hatches a plan that Machiavelli would have been jolly well proud of. He pretends to be making a documentary about go go dancers and wants Go to be the star. As contrived as that is, it actually worked and so the journey begins. Go is played by the very good looking Mathew Camp who puts in a very good performance. Like all journeys though this one is going to have a few bumps along the way.

The two main characters are virtually the only players here and yet you don't notice as they manage to create such believable on screen chemistry. It also seems to be filmed on a handcam which is intentional. There are a few nods to Andy Warhol here too and some of it is filmed in monochrome. The use of split screens is also prevalent and is often done for visual impact rather than to give two perspectives. The soundtrack is rather good to featuring Patrick Wolf among many and always seems to fit perfectly with the on screen action - it has an innovative poetic quality to it. There is little in the way of bedroom romping but Go seems to spend most of his time in underwear which is absolutely not an issue as far as I am concerned. So for a thoughtful, different and quite intelligent gay film this one should be the one to `Go' with - sorry terrible pun.


Starlet
Starlet
DVD
Price: $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Film about Friendship a little dog and bingo., July 12, 2014
This review is from: Starlet (Amazon Instant Video)
This is one of those films that is absolutely unassuming and yet totally engrossing. It stars Dree Hemmingway as Jane a 21 year old worker in the `adult entertainment industry'. She buys a Thermos in a yard sale one day and on getting it home finds that it is stuffed with cash. She tries to take it back to the cantankerous old woman, whom she bought it from, but is rebutted.

So she engineers a way to be a `Good Samaritan' to Sadie (the late Besedka Johnson) with her faithful lapdog in tow - this is `Starlet' of the film title. What starts out as marked for failure in the relationship department soon blossoms into a real friendship. However, Jane lives with Melissa and Mikey - Melissa is one of those people who think the Universe revolves around them and everyone is here to do her a favour; so she finds it strange that her `besty' is hanging with an old lady and wont let it lie - to say more is straying into the realms of plot spoiling.

As I mentioned this is a film that plays out slowly but it is interesting all the way and actually quite a lot does happen. Dree Hemmingway is superb as is the pooch but then there are convincing performances from everyone. Director Sean Baker has made a film that will stand the test of time and has a subtle yet simple message about friendship. If you like your films a bit quirky and are prepared to take a risk then I think you will be happily surprised with Starlet.


Stalingrad [Blu-ray]
Stalingrad [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Stalingrad
Price: $15.49
42 used & new from $12.73

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

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.


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