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1,000 Times Good Night
1,000 Times Good Night
DVD ~ Juliette Binoche
Price: $13.47
15 used & new from $11.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Film Movement has has just released 1000 Times Good Night on DVD, December 26, 2014
This review is from: 1,000 Times Good Night (DVD)
Film Movement has has just released 1000 Times Good Night on DVD. As with all their titles, 1000 Times Good Night is a multiple winner and official selection of numerous film festivals.

Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche stars as Rebecca, a war photojournalist. Rebecca is fearless, going to the front lines in war torn zones, putting herself in extremely dangerous situations. While documenting a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, she is badly hurt. It is only when she is in the hospital that we learn she is a wife and mother - and that her husband has had enough. An ultimatum is issued - her job or her family....

I was drawn in from the opening scenes of this film, fascinated and then horrified as I realized what was happening. The juxtaposition between the chaos of the opening few scenes and then cutting to the peaceful Irish countryside is jarring. And it mirrors Rebecca's feelings, emotions and state of mind.

Conflict, desire, want and need are wound throughout the film - the wars Rebecca covers, the struggle between staying at home and capturing conflict and exposing it to the world, to tamp down her desire to be where the action is, the need to document these atrocities for the world, the wanting to be a good mother, wife and friend and more.

Binoche is a brilliant actor. Her performance in this film is remarkable - moving and oh so believable. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays husband Marcus. He too, turned in a good performance - I understood his need to protect his daughters, but I grew angry with his behavior. Young Lauren Canny plays daughter Stephanie. The scenes between her and Rebecca are poignant, as Steph slowly comes to understand what it is her mother does - and why.

As I watched, I was thinking to myself how well this film was done - the cinematography, the attitudes, the passion and the drive to expose atrocities to the world. It was only in the film's bio section that I discovered that director Erik Poppe was a war photojournalist himself in the 1980's. He too went through the same personal and professional conflicts he's given to Rebecca.

Excellent acting, compelling topic, eye-opening situations - and definitely recommended.

Maze Runner [Blu-ray]
Maze Runner [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Will Poulter
Price: $19.99
23 used & new from $15.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I always wait with bated breath to see if a great book can make the leap to film without losing ..., December 24, 2014
This review is from: Maze Runner [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I participated in the Twitter viewing party of The Maze Runner on Blu-ray with author James Dashner last Friday night. I always wait with bated breath to see if a great book can make the leap to film without losing the original premise and everything I loved. Director Wes Ball's adaptation absolutely did.

There were a few minor differences, but Ball nailed it - helped along by a marvelous cast of characters that captured the mental images I'd created for these characters. The setting brought the Glade and the maze to life, the Grievers were suitably frightening and the action non-stop. And if you've read the book - the twist is beautifully played. Fans of the book will not be disappointed!

The Good Lie (Blu-ray + DVD)
The Good Lie (Blu-ray + DVD)
DVD ~ Reese Witherspoon
Price: $19.99
18 used & new from $19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think we also need to slow down and think just how fortunate we are and of those who have not been ..., December 23, 2014
The countdown to Christmas is on - there's a flurry of buying, a plethora of ads and a huge sense of urgency to be 'ready'. But at this time of the year, I think we also need to slow down and think just how fortunate we are and of those who have not been so blessed, to celebrate the joy in being alive and to remember the best gifts cannot be unwrapped.

The Good Lie starring Reese Witherspoon releases today. And it's a movie you need to watch.

In my place of work, I have met and had conversations with Sudanese refugees. Their stories are horrific, but need to be told, so the world knows. The Good Lie tells the story of some of the lost boys of Sudan.

Who are the lost boys? In 1983 civil war broke out in Sudan - approximately 2.5 million people were killed - and thousands of children were left orphaned. Over 20,000 children trekked over 1000 miles, looking for safety. Ethiopia was not the safe haven they had been told of, so instead they journeyed to Kenya - and the Kakuma refugee camp.

The Good Lie is the story of three boys and one girl, who spent 13 years in the camp and were then sponsored to relocate in the US. Witherspoon plays Carrie, a hardened job counselor whose life become inextricably entwined with these four.

Oh boy, my emotions ran the gamut on this movie - horror at the war, fear for the children, hope for a new life and sadness for those still in the camps, awe at the courage shown and joy. I laughed out loud in many parts (the chicken crossing the road joke gets new life) and I cried many times. (The reason behind the title will break your heart.)

The Good Lie lets us see North American life through the eyes of a newcomer as they try to learn and navigate the rules, regulations, customs and everyday life we take for granted, but still live by their own core values. I think one of the most telling scenes was when Jeremiah, one of the four, is sent out to throw away the 'old food' to make room for the 'new food' at his grocery stocking job. He helps a homeless woman pick through the food destined for the dumpster - and is promptly berated by the boss. Jeremiah's reaction is one we should all have.

Witherspoon is one of my favourite actresses. She was perfect in this film. The actors playing the four (and their younger selves) all had personal ties to the Sudan either as refugees themselves or children of refugees.

Sadly, I don't think this movie has received the press it should have while at the theatres. It's a five star, thumbs up watch for this viewer. If you're looking for a film that celebrates the human spirit and that will resonate with you after the credits have rolled, The Good Lie is for you.

Angels Sing
Angels Sing
DVD ~ Angels Sing
Price: $9.96
19 used & new from $7.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I love that moment when I realize I have finished my ..., December 21, 2014
This review is from: Angels Sing (DVD)
I love that moment when I realize I have finished my shopping, the wrapping is done, the work week has ended and Christmas is around the corner.

And this is when I load up on Christmas cheer, with holiday books, music - and movies!

Angels Sing is a new addition to my holiday shelf. The movie is based on the book When Angels Sing by Turk Pipkin. I had read the book - and enjoyed it. As always, with book to film adaptations, I was curious to see how close the movie would stick to the original story.

Harry Connick Jr. stars as Michael Walker, a family man who refuses to celebrate Christmas. His reason is understandable - and heartbreaking. When the family unknowingly moves to a street known for its elaborate Christmas celebrations and tragedy strides, Michael is forced to confront his past as the impact on the present is too great to ignore.

There's a great cast in Angels Sing - most with a musical bent - notably Willie Nelson as an angel, Lyle Lovett as an neighbour and Kris Kristofferson as Grandpa. All of them contribute musical moments to the film.

And this is a feel good film for the family. (Although there is one sad event that parents should be prepared to discuss with younger children) But there are some funny bits as well. (watch for the snowman's smile turning into a frown) The music is great, the decorations on the street lovely and the overall sentiment can't help but put you in a festive mood. The family interactions are positively portrayed and families viewing together will find lots of food for thought. The plot is somewhat obvious, but that's what I'm looking for in my holiday viewing - happy endings.

by Anthony Horowitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.87
47 used & new from $13.25

5.0 out of 5 stars The game is afoot...., December 19, 2014
This review is from: Moriarty (Hardcover)
Well, mystery buffs, fiction fans and television lovers will all recognize this name - Professor Moriarty - the arch nemesis of Sherlock Holmes.

Anthony Horowitz's new book, Moriarty, takes place mere days after the final confrontation of Holmes and Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls that resulted in both men's deaths.

Pinkerton Detective Frederick Chase arrives from the US. He is tracking an American criminal kingpin who was to join forces with Moriarty. Could there be a clue left on the body pulled from the bottom of the falls? Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones (who appeared in Doyle's story The Sign of Four) is also at the falls to view the body pulled from the bottom. Jones is a devoted fan of Holmes' methods and escapades. The two join forces to hunt down the kingpin. Chase is the narrator of Moriarty

I had read Horowitz's book The House of Silk (a Sherlock Holmes mystery - my review) and knew I would love this novel as well. The tone, the language and the settings all capture the feel of Doyle's writing style. But Horowitz does not try to mimic or copy the originals. He does put his own stamp on the book. Doyle's estate has approved Horowitz to write these novels.

I felt a delicious frisson of anticipation as the phrase "The game is afoot" was uttered. The clues are there, the deductions are made and twining together of the threads begins as the mystery is slowly pieced together, then the action starts to ramp up as the pair get closer and closer to their quarry and....

....and the final few chapters were fantastic. I had a small little voice saying...'maybe' I read, but Horowitz still caught me unawares. And then I had to go back and read the beginning again! Absolutely loved it! Moriarty is definitely recommended. (And I'm really hoping there's another book in the works.)

Lines of Wellington
Lines of Wellington
DVD ~ John Malkovich
Price: $22.99
9 used & new from $17.88

4.0 out of 5 stars were really good. As was the setting and the extras, December 12, 2014
This review is from: Lines of Wellington (DVD)
3.5/5 This historical film is set in the time of the Napoleonic Wars. The lines are Wellington's fortifications, built over 18 months to turn back the invading French. The film is told through the eyes of numerous characters - a British major, a Portuguese sergeant, and some of those following the war - a prostitute, a mute beggar, a travelling merchant, a wealthy pair of siblings and more.

We are treated to vignettes, both past and present as Sarmiento explores war and its effects on all classes. I became caught up in many of the stories, particularly that of the mute beggar and the Portuguese sergeant. Some of them seemed awkward though, and not to belong - such as the sister of the siblings and her sexual appetites.

I didn't know much about this time period and actually learned quite a bit.

Although John Malkovitch has been given front and centre on the cover, he is really only onscreen for a small amount of time - part of that is reciting the recipe for Beef Wellington. I found it very hard to take him seriously. The other actors, none of whom I knew, were really good. As was the setting and the extras. (although their clothing seemed a little too clean for being on the road)

The film is 150 minutes long, and I ended up watching in two sittings. And honestly, my attention was starting to wander a bit. I enjoyed Lines of Wellington, but not as much as other viewers. As always, there is a bonus short film included. Two Laps was quite funny - a story of two older gentleman and their annual swimming match.

Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian's Adventures in Newfoundland
Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian's Adventures in Newfoundland
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $13.00

5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the glimpse into life in Newfoundland and I also ..., December 10, 2014
A young friend of mine has just started her professional career in Newfoundland, leaving behind friends and family, knowing not one soul in her new home.

When I saw Andrew Peacock's newly released memoir, Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian's Adventures in Newfoundland, it struck a chord. Hailey, this one's for you!

In 1982 newly minted veterinarian Andrew Peacock and his physician wife (also recently graduated) move from Ontario to Newfoundland to start their professional careers. They too, knew no one. The plan - stay two years.

In Creatures of the Rock, Peacock recounts those first days and the ensuing years in a practice that spanned twenty eight years on the Avalon Peninsula. Peacock was the only vet for 130 miles, on call night and day - and on his own.

His patients ranged from the smallest house pet to one of the largest animals you could imagine - a whale! And of course the owners of those animals are a large part of the story as well. We meet the neighbours and the clients as Peacock and his wife settle into life on the Rock and raise their three children in the small community of Freshwater. I enjoyed the glimpse into life in Newfoundland and I also picked up some animal husbandry knowledge!

Peacock's writing has an ease to it, a tone of conversation almost. His warmth, humour and compassion and love of his profession are evident in his recounting of his years tending to the creatures in his territory. He's a very engaging storyteller.

There are photographs included with the book - it was nice to put a face to a voice I really enjoyed reading. There will be inevitable comparisons to British vet, James Herriot. Peacock acknowledges that those tales were a model for his own. My advice? Pick up Peacock's book - it's homegrown and a really great read. Here's an excerpt of Creatures of the Rock.

Andrew and Ingrid still make their home in Newfoundland. And Hailey's adventures are just beginning....

Bolse® [Apple MFi Certified] 3-Port (25W / 5A) High Output USB Car Chargers, Build-in 2-in-1 Lightning & Micro USB Cable With SmartIC Technology Charging Station for iPhone 6, 5, 5S; Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, Galaxy Note 3; iPad Air, 5, 4; LG G2; Motorola and HTC; Touch Screen Tablet; GPS (White)
Bolse® [Apple MFi Certified] 3-Port (25W / 5A) High Output USB Car Chargers, Build-in 2-in-1 Lightning & Micro USB Cable With SmartIC Technology Charging Station for iPhone 6, 5, 5S; Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, Galaxy Note 3; iPad Air, 5, 4; LG G2; Motorola and HTC; Touch Screen Tablet; GPS (White)
Offered by LowerPriceUSA
Price: $39.99
2 used & new from $22.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I pretty much live on my Ipad, December 8, 2014
I was impressed with the care taken to package this item - there's no way it would have been damaged in transit.

I have been meaning to get a car charger for awhile now. I pretty much live on my Ipad, (This charger is Apple certified) but charging at work isn't always an option - and I am really bad at remembering to plug in at night. I have a fairly long drive to work, so thi charger is just what I was looking for. The cord is tightly coiled, but extended to almost five feet when stretched. There are two other ports (and they're nicely angled away from the main cord), so being able to charge my phone and any other electronic gizmos at the same time as the Ipad is fantastic! Or letting a passenger charge as well. The ports provided a snug connection. LED lighting lets you know when you're connected and was enough to see by in the dark.

There's protection built in - a fuse makes sure there's not a power overload. And it detects what kind of device has been plugged in and provides the fastest charging time. (And I found the time and charge time really good) I loved the flip-out micro USB connector at the end of the cord! How cool is that!

I see some other reviewers are having trouble plugging in the lightning connection to their protected Ipad. I have the Ultra Thin Magnetic Smart Cover and it works just fine.

The unit has a solid feel to it, seems very well made and comes with a 12 month warranty.Good value for the price.

Abattoir Blues
Abattoir Blues
by Peter Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
9 used & new from $22.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Robinson is one of authors that can't write a bad book. I've enjoyed the few stand alones that ..., December 8, 2014
This review is from: Abattoir Blues (Hardcover)
For me, Peter Robinson is one of authors that can't write a bad book. I've enjoyed the few stand alones that he's written, but the Inspector Banks series is my favourite. Abattoir Blues is the newly released 22nd entry.

The new Commissioner has made rural crime a priority, so Banks's team is investigating, although the crimes seem a bit pedestrian for them - a stolen tractor and a break in at a seemingly abandoned airplane hangar. But when human blood stains are found on the hangar floor, the case takes a more serious turn. And when ties between the stolen tractor and the hangar are found......

Although Banks is on the case, he takes a bit of a backseat in this outing, with team member DS Winsome Jackman taking the lead. Winsome is a character I've always enjoyed and it was great to have her take a bigger investigative role, as well as getting to know her a bit better personally. DS Annie Cabbot also has a louder voice in this book. I'm very glad she's still around, even though the relationship between her and Banks has ended. I enjoy her prickly observations of life.

We still get a look at Banks's personal life - I have to say that I don't see his latest relationship lasting. He seems to be pondering his future in this book - wondering what it holds for him. I always enjoy Banks's musical choices and have often gone and looked them up to listen myself.

This is what I enjoy so much about Robinson's books - the characters change and develop with every book. I've feel I've come to know them and sitting down with the latest is like catching up with old friends.

Old friends with some rather disturbing stories. In addition to the great personal development of his characters, Robinson always crafts a great mystery. I wondered how these two diverse cases were going to be woven together. Gentle readers may be disturbed by the descriptions of what happens in an abattoir (slaughterhouse). But it provided a suitably gruesome setting for this latest crime outing.

Abattoir Blues was another great read for me - can't wait for the next in the series!

Polaroid POLC3 Cube HD Digital Video Action Camera Camcorder (Red)
Polaroid POLC3 Cube HD Digital Video Action Camera Camcorder (Red)
Offered by GadgetBasket
Price: $99.99
3 used & new from $99.99

5.0 out of 5 stars You might want to put this fun little item on your list for someone - or ..., December 4, 2014
Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? No? You might want to put this fun little item on your list for someone - or yourself.

Half the fun of buying gifts is seeing what's new, different - and quite frankly, catches my eye. (And yes, some of them do end up on my own list) The Polaroid CUBE certainly did!

I mentioned little - the CUBE measures out at 1 1/4 inches square. But it packs a lot into that small little case - it takes both pictures and HP video (resolution can be switched to 720 or 1080p), with a microphone as well. It accommodates a 32 GB SD card (purchase separately), the battery lasts about an hour and half (recharge by plugging in to computer or use a wall adaptor and transferring to my computer was easy. (USB cable included) Set up and learning to use it literally took minutes - instructions were clear and easy. One button on top controls everything - off, on, video and camera.

Being this small, there is no viewfinder - instead you can point and shoot. Polaroid is marketing this as a "lifestyle action video camera". And this is why it caught my can mount and attach the CUBE to just about anything. I also got the strap mount - in one and two meter lengths. What? Yep - there's a rotating mount that fits on the straps. So, think about it - you can strap it on anything and video film. Back of your backpack, dog's leash, on your wrist out walking, and really - anything, anywhere. It's winter in my part of the world - so it's going outside with me - on the snowmobile. (It's weatherproof and splashproof). I think I might get the bicycle mount for summer. The CUBE's case is sturdy and seems pretty shockproof, with a grip proof finish.

Why would you want to film this you ask? Why not? It's fun and action shots would be a neat perspective - I'm thinking of a friend who is a serious mountain biker. (Helmet mount) The magnet on the camera is incredibly strong, so you could attach it to anything metal. (The outside of the fridge comes to mind, inside on the dash of the vehicle on road trips and maybe even the hood of the car driving slowly)

I also got the tripod mount - it's headed to the staff Christmas party on Saturday. It's unobtrusive and I won't have to hold anything. It will sit nicely in the center of the table and I'll just turn it every so often. Plus, it fits in my purse!

The photo and video quality is of course not going to the same quality as a full size camera. But you know, it's really good for a one inch camera. Keep in mind that it's a wide angle lens, so there is a rounding of the edges of the images. Low lighting inside did result in somewhat grainy photos - to be expected. Outside, both video and images were very, very clear.

Lots of fun in a little package - for all ages. And the price is right. Two thumbs up.

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