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Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16
Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16
by Ann Rule
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
174 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just going through the motions, November 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
You don't expect genius writing from a True Crime book. There are some classics of the genre including In Cold Blood and Homicide by David Simon, but most true crime books were written to be as disposable as the evening papers where the story was first presented. Ann Rule has been one of the most popular true crime writers since The Stranger Besides Me because she manages to balance clear writing with an eye for details and an ability to capture the character of the victims and perpetrators.

However, Ann Rule has probably churned too many of these books out and it's really starting to show in this one. The first story about the guy that killed and disappeared his wife is tragic enough but the second story about the girlfriend of the billionaire who may have killed herself or been murdered after the son had a fatal accident is just all over the place. Her findings don't even touch upon the main theory which is that the ex-wife killed the girlfriend. Even more important is the way that Rule stacks the presentation of the evidence away from it being a suicide. The story doesn't end with anything other than speculation.

What also bothers me about the story is the way that it focuses a great deal on the pornography usage. This story takes place in 2011. There's this thing called the internet. People look at porn all the time.

The rest of the stories are barely even stories. They are barely interesting anecdotes. These two old people were killed. The one neighbor had mental illness and finally confessed. There was an arsonist who kept trying to play a rescuer. He was finally caught. I understand that authors pad their books all the time, but these are miserable ways to up the page count.

Endless Love (2014)
Endless Love (2014)

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Who thought this was a good idea? You can't blame the tweens for everything., September 14, 2014
Somewhere in Hollywood there is a producer who is getting very rich making romance movies starring the blandest actors possible in movies that were purposefully made to look like perfume commercials. I truly hope that this producer dies of something painful and humiliating very soon because I check out movies from the library and every so often I get one of these things and think "how bad can it be?" And inevitably I hate the answer.

This one is not as painful as the Julian Fellowes Romeo & Juliet, but that's only because the source material is so less popular. Of course, the ONE decent part about the source material, ie. the boyfriend is a total nutcase and this puts the whole idea of endless love into sharp focus, is cut out of this movie. Even the terrible Brooke Shields movie did not flinch away from the actual story.

Instead we get a lot of set pieces and cute 20-something actors pretending to be teenagers as music plays. Oh sure, there are many parts where it's obvious that David is a controlling psychopath, but these are only highlighted to point out how bad Dad is for trying to keep them apart. Sure, the bland actress is losing out on an internship and giving up on her dreams (then again who gets an internship BEFORE college begins) for this loser, but it's all about TRUE LOVE!!!!!

This is an ugly movie full of pretty people which doesn't even pretend that it's not endorsing stalking and domestic abuse.

Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It just goes on forever, August 24, 2014
This review is from: Heat (Amazon Instant Video)
I wanted to like this movie. In fact, I remember seeing this movie about 10 years ago and having similar feelings. But I've changed since then. I've learned to appreciate Michael Mann. I've become less critical at this point. I don't need to see shootings and gun play all the time in a crime movie. Character development and small character moments are excellent.

Upon re-watching this movie, I do find that I appreciate the moments that I appreciated the first time. Michael Mann loves Los Angeles and loves filming Los Angeles in the night when it's particularly spooky. The scene between DeNiro and Al Pacino is a landmark in film history (and cannot be exceeded by the movie where they were together in almost every scene). There are even some genuinely fascinating moments like Hank Azaria doing a Quentin Tarantino impression and cameos by Henry Rollins and Dany Trejo.

But overall, this movie is way too long. It seems to be leading up to a bank heist but then that's over and there's still an hour left to go. By that point, it just seems like everyone stops dead in their tracks in order to drag out the narrative even longer.

I know people love this movie and I can see some of the appeal, but there's a lot of moodiness without much payoff over all.

Curse of Chucky (Unrated)
Curse of Chucky (Unrated)
DVD ~ Brad Dourif
Price: $5.00
51 used & new from $2.25

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lifeless and misses the point of the series, June 18, 2014
This review is from: Curse of Chucky (Unrated) (DVD)
As much as the craze is to reboot movies and return them to their roots, there is a time when this is just not a good idea. I can see the writers thinking Bride and Seed of Chucky were too goofy, let's make him scary again. The only problem is that Chucky was never as scary as people thought. Or more accurately, you have to be a certain age to be scared by a killer doll.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers think that Child's Play was a classic for all the wrong reasons and that the sequels were cool but then the movies went off the rails. So they do as much as they can to imitate the first movie, including a long slow build as a kid walks around with an ugly doll acting weird and saying things like "Chucky says we're all gonna die". The problem with this strategy is that we KNOW it's Chucky, the killer doll with a New Jersey gangster tough guy routine and so there's no tension and no shock when Chucky finally starts talking. Instead, it's a long dreary march through horror movie cliches leading to a lot of chasing around and Chucky saying lines like "women, can't live with them...period." which was never really Chucky. Chucky was funny because he took himself seriously and was a total jerk. Chucky was not the one-line Henny Youngman imitator that Freddy Krueger became.

By trying to recreate Chucky and the "horror" of the first movie, the screenwriters and director took out all the excitement and fun, leaving us with a by-the-numbers horror movie that plods along without much to offer anyone.

When Jews Were Funny
When Jews Were Funny
DVD ~ Rodney Dangerfield
Price: $19.99
18 used & new from $10.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I suppose your goyish friends might like it., June 13, 2014
This review is from: When Jews Were Funny (DVD)
Jews are funny. Old Jews are hilarious. Let me tell you these really old Jewish jokes. And by the way the old world Jews were much funnier because Holocaust. Alan Zweig has assembled a mostly male cast of comedians to talk about Jewish comedians, Catskills and not much else. The comedians give their stories and mostly talk about all the cliches in Judaism including "old Jews" and the like.

So pretty much if you're Jewish, you've heard all these jokes before. If you're Swedish and have never met a Jew in your life you probably heard at least half of them.

What really stinks up this movie is the insistence of Alan Zweig to insert himself into every interview. We learn way more about Alan Zweig and his daughter and his obsessions with his goyish wife than we really learn about these guys. When one of the comedians mentions that his son died the answer is to a dumb question about what he is going to do about raising Jewish kids. It's also the last moment in the movie. Then the guy sings a song and Alan Zweig decides taht it should be the theme song of the movie. Way to put yourself in the interview, Alan Zweig, good for you.

I like the fact that Bob Einstein seems to really hate Alan Zweig. I actually find Einstein much more endearing for his unwillingness to be patient for this terrible interviewer.

The rest of this movie is pretty standard. If you want to know about Jewish humor, there are thousands of movies with Jewish comedians, and many of them are telling jokes that were written after the Holocaust. And if you want a documentary, try either Seinfeld's Comedian or the one on Joan Rivers. At very least they won't have the cheesy klezmer.

Broken Wings
Broken Wings
DVD ~ Neco Smart, Howard Collado Liliana Zapata
Price: $13.46
20 used & new from $2.44

2.0 out of 5 stars A student film, June 12, 2014
This review is from: Broken Wings (DVD)
I am giving this two stars because this is obviously an amateur production and you can tell that everyone involved had that "let's put on a show" obsession where they were helping out a friend who had a couple of video cameras (or maybe just one - most likely taken from his computer). There are also some interesting moments of washed out colors that work despite the production.

However, one can only forgive so much and even in a low budget production, one has the right to expect certain things like dialogue that makes sense or people who can act. The few interesting shots are overwhelmed by the points where the colors are all washed out and no one thought to light anything in any format that went beyond "that lamp next to the bed - yeah that should work". The characters are types instead of real people and they are extremely boring. Even if they had the best actors in the world acting them, they would have been boring because the dialogue just thuds along without much to bring in interest.

I wanted to like this movie because it is independent and everyone has a dream, but there is really very little to recommend it. Ok, the song at the credits is a little catchy.

Saturday Night Live: Season 4, 1978-1979
Saturday Night Live: Season 4, 1978-1979
DVD ~ Don Pardo
Price: $12.49
12 used & new from $11.39

2.0 out of 5 stars Do not say 'why are things not as great as the old days' that is the phrase of idiots, May 15, 2014
I'm paraphrasing the Bible with that line but you get the point. This dvd set is a refutation of every statement about how SNL used to be great but now it's awful. SNL has had great seasons and bad seasons in its run. The mid-90s were particularly painful. The 1980 season that had many great comedians like Gilbert Gottfried and Eddie Murphy and barely used them earned its reputation as the worst season ever.

Still, the first few years of SNL were supposedly the gold standard for the show with all the great comedians flexing their comedy muscles. And there were funny sketches back in the day, but as these dvd sets show, the worst aspects of SNL were also on full display. In fact, the reputation only makes watching these shows more painful since one expects more from early SNL.

Do you hate recurring characters who aren't funny? There are tons of them including Cheeseburger Cheeseburger guy and Gilda Radner/Bill Murray's annoying teenagers. Do you like funny voices? Almost every skit has a whacky accent! How about racism? Well we got some "funny and crazy guys" to say their catch phrase. How about a good old 1970s sexism with repetition of the "Jane you ignorant slut" act with diminishing returns. And for an extra bonus we got some terminally un-funny hosts like Buck Henry returning for his painful insurance salesman persona and his "hilarious" child molester character. Or better yet, let's get Frank Zappa to sleep walk through the show as if he's way too good for the show.

There are funny routines amidst the dreck. Still, by no stretch of the imagination is this the best season of the show or even a good season.

Neverwhere (15th Anniversary Edition)
Neverwhere (15th Anniversary Edition)
DVD ~ Neverwhere
Offered by Chicago-Media
Price: $9.99
20 used & new from $5.98

2.0 out of 5 stars Bad acting, cheesy effects and a pedestrian story ruins my nostalgia, May 13, 2014
The first time I watched this series, Neil Gaiman could do no wrong. Sure, the Sandman series dragged a little towards the end but the man was the greatest fantasy writer of his generation and he took fantasy out of the Tolkien imitation ghetto in a very clear way. I enjoyed every moment of this silly miniseries and overlooked most of its faults which tended to center on the cheesy special effects that were actually quite charming if you are a fan of the original Star Trek or Dr Who.

Since then I have stopped being so enamored with Gaiman's writing. i still like American Gods and Sandman but I read his short story collection Fragile Things and wondered openly why I was reading a bunch of writing exercises. So the poor writing is much more apparent now. The story is pretty interesting for the most part, but how many times do we have to see the "poor shmoe ends up in a magic world" tale? The magic of the world is not so interesting. Characters disappear without explanation and other characters are flat. The only black woman is called The Hunter who never says anything but cliches and she walks around with a spear waiting to use it. Not since Robert Altman named a character in MASH "spearchucker" did the unfortunate racial histories seem to be so disregarded. Beyond that, the 'big plot twist' is NOT a plot twist when it's been done hundreds of times before. Firefly encapsulated the trope best with the line "damn your unexpected but inevitable betrayal." Most of the dialogue is from the "clever" school of dialogue writing - meaning that it sounds much better in the writer's head than it sounds in real life since it's pretty impossible to imagine anyone talking like this.

Beyond the cheesy writing, the acting is sub par. The one actor that has any talent is Peter Capaldi and he's stuck playing an angel without emotion. Everything seems shot on a sound stage and there is nothing done with lighting or camera angles that has any depth or originality.

If you remember this fondly from your childhood, let it remain in your childhood. If you're curious about this one, let your curiosity rest. If you love Neil Gaiman and think he can do no wrong, then hurry up and get this before you change your mind.

The Hollow Crown: The Complete Series
The Hollow Crown: The Complete Series
DVD ~ Tom Hiddleston
Price: $23.49
12 used & new from $23.45

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So many good actors, so much waste, April 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There are many great things to recommend in this series. First, most of the main actors are quite good and they are giving it their all. However, there are too many choices made by the directors that just undercut the drama at every turn. Why do we need monologues in voiceover? Wasn't that bad enough when Oliver did it with Hamlet? How come Prince Hal needs to give the Saint Cripian day speech as if he's annoying people at a board meeting? Why does the DRAMA music have to come up in every important scene, practically announcing that the director doesn't trust the actors to deliver the goods?

There are also unprepared actors in the important roles. Does Hotspur have to walk around in leather pants like a high school actor that doesn't quite know what to do with his hands?

There are good bits. Falstaff is a great part for any actor, but there are too many problems to fully recommend it.

Zinwell ZAT-970A Digital to Analog TV Converter Box (for Antenna Use)
Zinwell ZAT-970A Digital to Analog TV Converter Box (for Antenna Use)
Price: $60.18
12 used & new from $27.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Well it did give me almost five months of slightly adequate service, March 23, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have had problems with this converter box from the beginning. Sound wouldn't come very well on it. I would have to blast my television volume to maximum levels to even hear it (which was not fun when I went back to the DVD player) and it never got ABC. There weren't many channels that it did get, but I only watch a few television programs during the season anyhow so I didn't think it would matter.

Unfortunately, now it has just stopped working altogether. Ok, that's a misnomer. It works in a way that doesn't do anything for me. I can move the antenna to the window and I get three channels and that's it. I can't program anything else. I move the antenna back to where it was and I get a blank screen. It's not turning off. It's just blank and the information says "channel zero".

The only thing that I could say for it is that it was a slightly better value than having cable for the last five months, but I am starting to think that cable television makes these things in order to convince people to just give up and get cable already.

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