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Reviews Written by
C. Clay "drakkar91" RSS Feed (St Paul Minnesota)
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Compliance
Compliance
DVD ~ Ann Dowd
Offered by kylakins
Price: $7.99
48 used & new from $2.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly Executed Film Making at Best - Nothing Brilliant or Superb, November 15, 2014
This review is from: Compliance (DVD)
"Indispensable filmmaking" says Rolling Stone. Wow, I couldn't agree less! 45 minutes along, 2 of 3 in my viewing party wanted to stop the film or at least fast forward to the end. I'm usually a huge fan of independent films based on true stories, but in my opinion, the directors took this project more towards a soft porn than a true documentary of the horror that took place at this fast food restaurant (search Bing for "compliance film true story" and read the true story of where it actually took place). Like most viewers, it was challenging to watch the utter lack of common sense, but I comprehend that is what freaks like this caller pray upon. That said, about 45 minutes along, we got the point they were trying to make and at that point the film could have started moving towards what happened after the ordeal.

Instead, in the final 10 minutes, the producers fly us through a series of poorly linked events and as the film ends, the viewer is sitting there going "what the heck happened"? Absolutely NO wrap-up! Horrible ending. Such a shame because this is based on true events, and the viewer at a minimum should have had a wrap-up summary - even if it was just words on a screen.

The true story is horrifying and like most viewers, I would love to see the perpetrators locked up for life. This film didn't do the story justice. It was painful to watch (because of the film making) and I'm being kind by offering 2 stars vs. one simply because they brought the story to life in film.


No Night Is Too Long
No Night Is Too Long
DVD ~ Lee Williams
Offered by out of this world
Price: $3.81
19 used & new from $2.51

5.0 out of 5 stars Delivers What It Promises - Dark, Twisted & Bizarre, November 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: No Night Is Too Long (DVD)
Often a challenge are movies that deliver on their promise - "No Night is Too Long" packs a punch and lived up to my expectations. With a plethora of unexpected twists and turns, I doubt many will see the end coming by a long shot! Just when it spins you in one direction, it adds yet another unexpected twist. The production was high quality and the actors and ensemble cast were strong and believable. Considering this was not a big budget major studio release, that says a lot for the production team.

I won't repeat the film description or summary, but if you like dark romantic plots, this will fit the bill. It reminds me a bit of The 24th Day, though with a very different plot. Keywords for the film include: bisexual, gay, heterosexual, siblings, sexual, dark, dramatic, Alaska, cruise, murder, European.

The film runs about 2 hours, and I'm okay they didn't edit it to make it shorter. I've seen films that were 90 minutes and needed editing - this one didn't. There are virtually no DVD features except the film. I'll be keeping this film in my library for a future viewing.


Absent
Absent
DVD ~  Javier De Pietro, Antonella Costa  Carlos Echevarría
Offered by Fulfillment Express US
Price: $12.05
12 used & new from $10.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Deep and Dark with a Unexpected Outcome, September 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Absent (DVD)
"Absent" brings forward the demons hiding in many people. In this case, the young student Martin and his swim coach Sebastian. Ironically, both have them repressed feelings, and how each comes to terms with them presents a powerful impact.

The haunting soundtrack accompanies some of the darkest scenes as the two explore their unusual relationship as student and teacher. For the first part of the film, it's Martin misleading his coach in hopes of a romantic interlude. The same scenes beg the question of responsible educator relationships, but leaves the viewer on a gray line between right and wrong.

Midway through the film, true feelings are expressed by Martin and the rest of the film leaves you wondering which direction it will take. However, it takes an unexpected turn (one I think most viewers did not expect). The film concludes as Sebastian realizes his own demons inside. In this world of apparent openness and acceptance, "Absent" reminds us the road to our own sexual comprehension is often filled with challenges and pain. I was impressed with secondary message that relates specifically to respect and understanding of our differences, as Sebastian has to come to terms with his own actions towards Martin.

While at times a little slow, the film is tasteful and well done overall.


Gasland Part II
Gasland Part II
DVD ~ Josh Fox
Price: $16.87
11 used & new from $16.87

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Distrubing Programs You May Ever Watch, September 8, 2014
This review is from: Gasland Part II (DVD)
In his follow-up to the documentary GasLand, Josh Fox brings forward a horrifying glimpse of the future landscape of America in Gasland 2. You'll learn that under the current administration that the federal government, the EPA and most members of congress and the senate have sold out to multimillion dollar corporations (in particular the oil and gas industry). You will witness lie after lie from elected officials at local, state and federal levels.

You will meet homeowners, people just like yourself that have been bought off and silenced by big business - they had no choice, as they could no longer drink their water, and/or their children, their animals or they themselves were sick. You will see homes uninhabitable as a result of fracking - excuse me - as result of irresponsible and unsafe methods used by huge corporations to extract (i.e. fracking) gas from American soil.

You will be heartbroken hearing the story of what is happening to wildlife once a staple of the Wyoming landscape. You will watch in horror as everyday tax paying citizens light their water wells on fire.

You will witness elected officials including the President lie to the American people. And before it's all over, you will witness your civil rights and those of your neighbors being stripped away by government corruption.

You will learn the same company used to "sell the people" on how safe fracking is also once told the American public how safe cigarette smoking was!

You MAY get a sense that we have the potential to destroy the water supply and eventually planet Earth. All in the name of gas and profit for the elite. You will not see anything that is being done to lead the country (and the world) away from fossil fuels and instead towards methods of power from water, wind and the sun --- as promised to the American people by the current President.

Is this a political film? No. It's a film about the horrific dangers of fracking and the consequences we WILL FACE. As in "we the people". You may ask if this isn't political, then why is this review and this film speaking out against the government? Because the government is supposed to be "of the people, by the people, for the people". You will learn, it's none of those.

Don't take my word for it - see the film! Tell your friends, family and neighbors to see it. Tell them to teach their children. Become educated yourself!

Can fracking be done safely and if errors occur will the companies engaged and supposedly regulated by the EPA be held accountable? The stories in Gasland 2 indicate in many instances it is unsafe, and the EPA did not hold the companies responsible. The film begs the question of just who is regulating the industry, if not the EPA?

While Gasland and Gasland 2 are real, if you would prefer a Hollywood style version of this story, then see the film Promised Land with Matt Damon. Prefer to read the story? Consider Hydrofracking: What Everyone Needs to Know®. Whatever you do, do something - write a review, post it on Facebook, and learn what fracking can do in our world.


Van's Gluten Free Snack Bars, PB&J Strawberry, 7.05 Ounce
Van's Gluten Free Snack Bars, PB&J Strawberry, 7.05 Ounce
Offered by My Favorite Things LLC
Price: $14.95
7 used & new from $8.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Whole Grain and Gluten Free Breakfast (or Anytime) Bar Alternative, May 23, 2014
For gluten free diets or anyone with celiac disease, the Strawberry and Peanut Butter Sandwich Bar from Van's Natural Food is extremely tasty alternative to standard wheat filled breakfast bars from major manufacturers. I love peanut butter and I am a fan! The bars are good as an anytime snack, are moist and flavorful. And anyone can safely eat them, even if you are not on a gluten restricted diet.

Basically, everyone should throw away their name brand treats packed with GMO's or other unnatural fillers and chemicals and BUY NATURAL. You spend a little more money but you get quality in return! This box of 5 individually wrapped bars is about $3 to $4 in stores. I found mine at a suburban Shop-Rite store, and many a Target store sells gluten free foods.

From the Package (Purchased in May 2014):
No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
No hydrogenated or GMO oil.
Certified Gluten-Free

Nutrition:
Calories (Per Bar): 160
Calories from Fat: 50
Total Fat 6g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 115mg
Total Carbohydrates 25g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 14g

Ingredients:
Gluten Free Oats (Whole Oats and Oat Flour), Invert Cane Sugar, Cane Sugar, Peanut Butter (Peanuts), Non-GMO Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Sweet White Rice Flour, Strawberries, Apple Powder, Fruit Juice Concentrate (Pineapple, Pear, Apple, Peach, Tapioca Starch, Rice Bran, Peanut Flour, Peanut Extract, Glycerin, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Pectin, Locust Bean Gum, Sea Salt, Red Cabbage Extract and Annatto (For Color), Baking Soda.
Contains Peanuts. Made on equipment that also processes tree nuts.


Trader Joe's Gluten Free Granola Cranberry Maple Nut, 2 packs
Trader Joe's Gluten Free Granola Cranberry Maple Nut, 2 packs
Offered by ABC Convenience
Price: $16.34
14 used & new from $13.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Gluten Free Granola - Lots of Flavor, Lower in Fat and Carbs, May 21, 2014
Trader Joe's is well known for great products and great prices! They also have terrific gluten free options and their Cranberry Maple Nut is a hit. I love mine mixed in nonfat plain yogurt, but you could snack out of the bag or just add your favorite milk (be in traditional, Almond or Coconut). In stores, this runs about $3.50 for a single 12 ounce bag with easy zip lock for freshness.

I purchased a bag in May 2014, and here is the product ingredients and information from that bag.

Ingredients (From the bag - no option to upload a product photo):
Corn Meal, Evaporated Cane Syrup, Brown Sugar, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Dried Cranberry (Cranberry, Sugar, Sunflower Oil), Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Sesame Seed, Flax Seed, Corn Starch, Rice Bran Extract, Pecans, Natural Flavors, Caramel Color, Sea Salt. Contains Almonds and Pecans. May contain traces of peanuts and other tree nuts. CAUTION: May contain nut shell fragments.

Serving Size: 1/3 Cup (about 11 servings per bag)
Calories 140 (From Fat 60)
Total Fat 6g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.5g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 15mg
Total Carbohydrates 20g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 8g
Protein 2g


The Master
The Master
Price: $15.57
44 used & new from $4.05

4.0 out of 5 stars Classical and Haunting with Several Vocal Performances (Much Better than the Film Itself), May 21, 2014
This review is from: The Master (Audio CD)
If there was one redeeming factor in the film The Master, it was this soundtrack. Melodic, classical, haunting - many tracks fit the film perfectly, though I would suggest you simply buy the CD vs. see the film. My favorites included Ella Fitzgerald with "Get Thee Behind Me Satan" and Helen Forrest with "Changing Partners".

Tracks Include:

01 "Overtones" 2:19
02 "Time Hole" 1:41
03 "Back Beyond" 3:42
04 "Get Thee Behind Me Satan" (Ella Fitzgerald) 3:46
05 "Alethia" 4:04
06 "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)" (Madisen Beaty) 1:36
07 "Atomic Healer" 1:23
08 "Able-Bodied Seamen" 3"54
09 "The Split Saber" 3:40
10 "Baton Sparks" 2:19
11 "No Other Love" (Jo Stafford) 2:59
12 "His Master's Voice" 3:34
13 "Application 45 Version 1″ 5:39
14 "Changing Partners" (Helen Forrest) 2:41
15 "Sweetness of Freddie" 3:24


The Master
The Master
DVD ~ Philip Seymour Hoffman
Price: $9.01
19 used & new from $1.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Painfully Slow Aimless Plot - Story Had Potential, Totally Not Delivered on Screen, May 21, 2014
This review is from: The Master (DVD)
This clearly falls in the "I want that 2 hours of my life back" category of films (more than 2 actually). Films like this being nominated for awards make me question the process for determining great films. Did someone pay for the accolades so every one would go out and buy or rent this? I have viewed and enjoyed plenty of slow moving films that have inspiring story lines, tremendous character studies and draw you in emotionally and otherwise - "The Master" is not one of them. Consider instead the Oscar worthy Philomena - a great film with a slower moving storyline that was a 5-star experience. Or try an Independent production with little funding such as Arizona Sky and you'll still be better entertained.

I'm sure like others, I waited, and waited - surely, something will happen that pulls it all together? Nope, nothing, Nada. Just kept waiting, then all I could wait for were the credits to roll. The premise (so I'm told, and for which the movie may have spent 10 minutes focusing on) was a concept of healing through reliving past moments (lives) to correct the errors of our ways. If that's the premise, certainly do not see this film, because it fails to ever go there or anywhere near.

I watched with 2 family members, one gave 1 star and the other ZERO. I couldn't argue with either review. I'm being kind in offering 2 stars because I liked the melodic soundtrack ("Get Thee Behind Me Satan" and "Changing Partners", but most are classical tracks). Check it out at The Master. Secondly, Philip Seymour Hoffman was excellent in his role / acting, but he alone could not pull this film out of the abyss.


Nokia Lumia 521 (T-Mobile)
Nokia Lumia 521 (T-Mobile)
Offered by TronicSpot
Price: $64.30
135 used & new from $37.90

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Value, Great Reception, Restarts Too Often, Challenges Out of the Box/Setup, May 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Once T-Mobile introduced the all inclusive (talk, text, web) for $50 a month with no contract, I knew it was time to buy a new phone and replace my "known memory issues" phone, the Samsung Gravity Smart Android Phone, Sapphire Blue (T-Mobile). My first cell phone ever (in 2004) was a Nokia no frills model. That would be followed by 3 Samsung models (2 flip phones that were very good and a smart phone that was utter junk). Based on how poor the Samsung product was I was using, I looked away from Samsung and decided to give Nokia a chance again - and this time with Windows 8. I must admit, I had little clue what the major differences would entail.

Opening the Box and Basic Start-up:
Out of the box and initial setup was a 1-star event. The back cover is as tight (or tighter) than a spaceship cover. I had to actually take it to a T-Mobile store and have them remove the back (which they did easily). Next up, the battery. Inserting it was no issue, but getting it out? To this day, that requires a paper clip! Even a veteran Smartphone user at work couldn't get it out. Why did I need to get it out you ask? After charging it, I needed to insert my SIM card from my old phone.

The SIM Card:
The SIM card slot is underneath the battery and smaller than the one I was using from a phone about 3 years old. TIP: The T-Mobile rep had a device that could cut the old SIM card to fit the new phone (while also allowing you to switch it back to your old phone if the new one failed). This is important if your cell phone is your only means of communication (nice to have a backup option). Otherwise, you would need to activate the new SIM card which comes with the phone and that renders the old SIM card worthless.

Contacts Import:
Another fail. The "oh so easy" process to import did not work. A 45 minute call with T-Mobile and a 30 minute chat with Windows Support and eventually we got lucky. Unfortunately, it created 2 Outlook profiles and now one had to be deleted. Because it's a Windows phone, my guess is it wanted me to create an Outlook account, vs. using my GMAIL account. I did that, then we had to send the contacts CSV file from GMAIL to Outlook. Then the phone could not import the CSV file and already was advising me to download an App for that! Enough already! There was not apparent option to download from My T-Mobile account to the phone. To which I ask why? Seems like someone missed a step.

Using the Windows Phone Platform - The Early Days:
This is no Android phone! If you have never used Windows 8, let alone on a phone, there is a huge learning curve. Be prepared - if you're not a fighter, you may give up (especially if you're still battling inserting the battery, SIM or importing your contacts).

Windows Phone - A Few Weeks Along:
It gets better! Once you realize sliding to the left reveals an alphabetical list of applications and options, you'll start to breathe again. It's a Windows Phone, not an iPhone, not an Android. All 3 platforms have their own quirks, challenges and successes.

The Phone and Apps:
The keyword is "tiles". As a Windows phone, it's got a 1 touch button to search Bing! I use it, I like it. Of course it has a tile for Internet Explorer, Messaging, your default email (be that Yahoo!, GMAIL or Outlook) and you can add tiles for other email accounts. Tiles for the Navigation App (Driving) - which is 1,000 times better than whatever was on my Samsung Android. Many apps are Nokia designed exclusive for the Windows 8 phone, and I like them all (but it takes time to understand and learn some of them, like the music app). It comes with a phone version of Office (have not used it yet), but no way to open a CSV file (commonly opened with Excel). Are there less app's for Windows Phone? Yes, which is also why these phones are still a great value. Nokia offers several apps titled HERE! and all I have used performed well.

Typing or Speaking?
Of course it has word prediction technology. What it doesn't have is memory to remember that you regularly type a word not in its dictionary! Here the Android beats the Windows phone, as it remembered funny words or names you used often. It has voice recognition so you can speak your messages - my Android did too, but the Windows Phone is better. However, within certain apps, the voice option does not appear, which is annoying if you want to speak vs. type your message.

Best 2 Pro's:
1. I actually have come to like the smooth Windows 8 tile interface. Very receptive to touch!
2. Great connectivity - no dropped calls nor failed messages sent (a constant issue with my Samsung Android on the same T-Mobile network). Proof it was the phone, not the network.

Worst 2 Con's:
1. As other reviewers I have seen mentioned, the phone shuts off / restarts way too often. Press the button to take a photo, and bam, your phone restarts. I have read this will be resolved when Windows 8.1 for T-Mobile phones is released, in July 2014 they estimate.
2. No flash! Really? My "free" (with contract) Samsung Gravity Smart acquired years ago had a flash! And flash is available on every other Nokia Lumia phone! Aaargh - the one cheap design flaw.

The Final Verdict:
I like my Windows 8 phone, and would recommend it - even buy it again! It truly beats my Samsung Android in almost every aspect. If the upper tier models were more reasonably priced, I would definitely consider the upgrade for more storage of apps and the camera with flash option. If you desire iPhone quality photos and video, you won't get it in a $70 to $90 Nokia Lumia, which is justified. If you are app addicted, you'll need to stick with another platform until Windows Phones become more popular. If you have had enough of over-priced phones, Android or iPhone living, or you're looking for a fresh, sweet phone with lots of features for an unbeatable price, try the Lumia 521 (but expect a learning curve and some early on challenges). Give it time!


Trader Joes Gluten Free Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies, 2 Packs
Trader Joes Gluten Free Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies, 2 Packs
Offered by ABC Convenience
Price: $19.96
6 used & new from $14.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cookies as Delicious as Gramdmom Use to Make, May 21, 2014
As someone who recently started working on eating "gluten free", I most missed sweets and cookies. Trader Joe's offers many options in their stores (and online obviously) and I was very pleased with their Chocolate Chip Cookies. Honestly, they reminded me of the Chocolate Chip Cookies we baked as a kid (in the 1970's), often around Christmas. Thin, crunchy and oh so tasty! The fact is, when you use quality ingredients, you get a quality product (and yes, quality costs more). Even my sister liked them and she loves sweets / cookies and does not eat gluten free.

These deliver a fresh chocolate chip cookie taste, and you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between this and another quality chocolate chip cookie. In store pricing is around $4 for the 7 ounce bag.


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