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Eat, Shop, Save (2017)
Absolutely Unfounded and Pointless Programme!
In my opinion the first launch episode shows a budget expert who is overweight and a presenter who could do with losing a few pounds herself. Nobody was monitored so the parents' claims of losing 10 pounds (the wife), and two stone (the husband), was left unsubstantiated. The budget expert claimed they spent a massive £15,000 on take-away foods per year which doesn't add up with the tally the family claimed they had saved - £600 in 8 weeks. But never mind, they rewarded the family anyway by buying them what they saved for in the first place - a special buggy for their Down-Syndrome daughter. Waste of time and no real lessons leant.
Nail-Biting after all this Time!
I have all of the movies made in the SAW franchise but this is not for the faint of heart. That said, a lot of the footage takes place in a very large and decidedly dingey type of "public"bathroom (but enough to sustain suspense) - enough suggested faecal matter and dirt/rust to put you off any pizza you may be planning to eat. But it was an excellent piece of writing with a few twists along the way along with just enough gore to interest the cult viewer.
Naturally there are scenes along the way that feature prior events for the two men locked in this bathroom and chained to opposite pipes which are relevant to the developing story. Highly recommended.
Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris (1992)
I was delighted to see this available on a popular video site online (even though I have it on dVD it is good to have on just as background on the iPad at nighttime).
Lansbury plays a widowed charlady Ada Harris, who is anything but work shy. On arriving one morning at her employer's stately home, Lady Dant's, Mrs Harris espies among the mail an invitation to a ball at Buckingham Palace. As she turns with the mail to hand she spots two beautiful Dior dresses hanging on the closet in preparation for the ball. Lady Dant sees Ada admiring them and tells her they were from Dior in Paris along with revealing the hefty price tag.
Wanting a grand dress for herself at all costs, Ada makes a great many sacrifices and scrimps and saves for three years aided by a small win on the football pools and then makes her solo trip to Paris where she wastes no time in taking a taxi directly to "Dior's dress shop". Not realising there is no shop as such she finally pursuades one Madame Corbet to squeeze her in at that afternoon's viewing much to the disgust of other clients and one staff member who deems her too common and too shabby to be in the same room.
She eventually chooses a pink gown modelled by a pretty young French fashion model, Natasha and when she realises the dress has to be made especially, Natasha convinces the dull accountant Andre (who drools over Natasha), to accommodate Mrs Harris for the week they promise it will take to have her dress made. During this time she does some matchmaking between the duo, reunites a Marquis with his estranged daughter and grandchild and helps through the Marquis to see to it that Madame Corbert is awarded a medal for her brave deceased husband where she is also promoted within the House of Dior.
When finally her dress is ready she has not a penny left for custom fees so her new friends concoct a way around it. this is pretty much a film that requires a suspension of belief but it is just so uplifting and morally on track. It is quite simply delightful.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Enjoyable for Genuine Raiders
I'll be honest with you here, I hadn't even heard of Angelina Jolie until my brother gave me his copy of this DVD having abandoned it during some of the early scenes.
By this time I was already playing and enjoying the early games - notably TR II before I played the original and progressed to TR III in that order.
TR II was a masterpiece in terms of gaming. It was vibrant and diverse, covering many locations - most notably Venice and China, locations that were covered in the two Jolie movies combined to my recollection, among others.
In order to play the heroine, Jolie had to gain muscle and play the games - in essence she had to BECOME Lara Croft. She had to absorb the quirky traits of this steadfast character in order to deliver an accurate portrayal to fans of the games ("Raiders" as we call ourselves). Jolie performed many of her own stunts to her credit and was on a high protein diet in order to bulk up to the athletic standard required.
The only thing that lets this movie down is arguably the dialogue in spite of a very touching scene between Jolie and Voight - her then real- life estranged father. It was the pain of their real-life situation that oozed through the screen with a sense of great sadness. Jolie's accent was flawless but I feel the dialogue could have been less twee in parts.
The reason my older brother abandoned the movie was due to a rather reality-suspending scene of an ambush in Croft Manor. Character Lara was engaged in some form of indoor bungee exercise wearing some sort of satin pyjama set yet, initially unarmed, managed to single-handedly take out an entire SWAT team with her cunning and athletic prowess, only managing to tool-up when she snatches a weapon from one of her bungee- captives.
If you are happy to suspend belief then your kids will enjoy it. The sequel is more Bond-like however and a more believable movie. Nice to see a younger Daniel Craig in this debut TR film though!
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
The singular act of borrowing a Princeton jacket to play piano in place of an injured friend at a high class outdoor function becomes the catalyst in a series of life-changing events for Tom Ripley - a lowly lavatory attendant.
On seeing his jacket, the party's host, Herbert Greenleaf, an affluent ship builder remarks how his estranged son was of the same class at Princeton. Reluctant and perhaps too embarrassed to deny ownership of the jacket, Tom pretends to know of Greenleaf junior, probably expecting never to cross paths with the man again. However, Mr Greenleaf has other ideas - tired of his son Dickie's (Jude Law), playboy life where he squanders his generous allowance in Italy with girlfriend Marge (played by Gwynneth Paltrow), practically throws $1,000 at Tom to travel there to bring his errant son home.
Spoilers: Barely having a chance to refuse the forthright offer. Tom soon finds himself travelling first-class to Europe on a Cunard liner having first educated himself in a crash course of jazz in order to mirror Dickie's own interests in music. However, Tom inadvertently makes an unwise error when he is approached by a rich heiress from the textile industry upon disembarkation in the form of Meredith Logue (Cate Blanchette). Enjoying the illusion of being a First Class passenger he introduces himself as the man he seeks to bring home, again not expecting to cross paths with the mystery admirer again. He thought wrong and so ensues a cloak and dagger plot of maintaining a fake acquaintance with Dickie & Marge and evading Meredith who reappears at certain tense moments in Italy - moments a little too much of a close call.
Dickie's recollections of Princeton are decidedly hazy so he takes Tom Ripley at his word when he first enthusiastically approaches him and Marge languishing on an Italian beach and enthusing about the rare coincidence. Marge invites him for lunch and soon Tom begins to covet Dickie's lifestyle and will manipulate the situation in any way he can in order to maintain and prolong their friendship - even after Dickie outgrows Tom and dismisses him as both a leech and a bore.
The movie is bursting at the scenes with tense anticipation and yet we as viewers find Dickie (although every inch the charming playboy), a leech upon his father and we route for Tom as somewhat of an impoverished, socially awkward underachiever. He has an almost childlike innocence at times yet he can think adequately on his feet when being forced into corners. He is both to be pitied and yet admired as he manipulates whilst managing to look like a hapless amateur that you want to love and protect. It's one movie where for a long time afterwards you wonder what can possibly be in store for his future long after the credits roll.
We'll Meet Again (1982)
A Must for WWII Enthusiasts. (Minor Spoilers).
This classic 1980's drama charts the lives of the residents of a rural English town upon the arrival of the American Air Force.
Typical of it's genre, the story revolves around loves, losses, jealousies as well as exploring the resilience of the war-torn British.
It's 1943 and we see a jeep enter the small village of Market Wetherby. The locals are out in force going about their usual daily business when two "Yanks" appear asking if anybody speaks English. The local girls are of course overwhelmed by the sight of American GIs but one particular shopkeeper (Albert Mundy), views them with utter contempt. As a survivor of WWI having fought in the Somme and the father of a love-struck teenage daughter, he sees only trouble ahead.
Meanwhile, the local gentry - Major Ronald "Ronnie" Dereham and his wife, Dr. Helen Dereham (Susannah York), face both marital intrusion via the handsome American, Major Jim Kiley (played well by Michael J. Shannon), and Ronnie's ensuing war wounds.
The series flows well as we witness good character development. However its conclusion leaves the viewer with many loose ends to tie up. It may well be expressed that "This is not the beginning of the end but merely the end of the beginning" but this is how I felt the series concluded. Thankfully, author David Butler went on to make a written sequel named "The End of an Era" which I have just purchased and look forward to reading.
In conclusion, a very enjoyable series which really cried out for a continuation. It ended in the middle, effectively.
I, Daniel Blake (2016)
A Poor Representation.
As a long term claimant I find that the character Daniel Blake somewhat lets the side down with his impatience and attitude. Hello there! We are not all opposing the system and nor do we lack gratitude.
DWP staff are largely rather accommodating so long as you don't backchat. The one thing I find concerning here is that a carpenter of Blake's age had no savings put aside. It is a common trait these days, even among pensioners who have worked all of their lives yet invested nothing into their futures.
We simply can't expect to be fed via food banks in 2017. Daniel Blake really let the side down - not for his compassion but for his self- serving attitude which at times failed us all.
A Poor Man's "Misery"
I had already noted a low rating for this movie on various sites but the subject matter appealed to me as a fan of Misery, Play Misty for Me, Misery et al so I gave it a go expecting nothing of any shock value and was not disappointed on that front. This film had elements of all three of the aforementioned films but had too few pearls stretched out on a decidedly threadbare string.
Almost immediately the viewer becomes frustrated at the stupidity of Mike and his girlfriend Elizabeth as they take a trip back to his roots where his "intense" - as Mike describes her - ex-girlfriend, Shelby, runs a bowling alley. After meeting some of Mike's friends, Elizabeth decides she wants to follow them on with Mike to the Bowling alley in spite of being informed about the existence of Shelby. After Shelby plies Elizabeth with tequila whilst playing the amiable ex, Elizabeth, keen to make a good first impression on Mike's parents decides she is too drunk to meet with them that night so Mike's police officer brother drives Elizabeth to a remote hotel and Mike back to his folks. This is where the first major flaw of the plot is seen. Would you seriously drop your young girlfriend off in a hotel car park in a strange and remote area without seeing her safely inside and ensuring she has secured a room? Apparently not as she is left to wheel her case in and wave from the door as her chaperones speed off into the night before being told there are in fact no vacancies and the sign that says otherwise is broken. This leaves Elizabeth to walk four miles West in the dark to locate another hotel until she flags down a passing car which promptly knocks her into a ditch.
When she awakens, Elizabeth finds herself in a strange bedroom attached to a drip and being "nursed" by Shelby who is intent on hiding the injured girlfriend away whilst she desperately tries to win back the affections of her ex, Mike. It quickly becomes evident that Shelby is a dangerous psychopath and one wonders why the smart Elizabeth didn't just play along with her games and manipulate Shelby by asserting that she wanted to break up with Mike. A girl of her calibre could have easily cooked up some fictitious and feasible story which would have placated Shelby and ensured Elizabeth's relative safety. This is a common flaw in movies of this ilk. The hostage making ill-planned escape attempts, showing the fear that only feeds the hostage-taker or to the contrary, antagonising their captors and sustaining more injuries for their efforts.
The characters were hard to care about in any capacity which is so often the case where teenagers are involved. Predicable diatribe in my opinion, lacking every ounce of substance that Misery brought to the screen.
Nine Months (1995)
Depending on your comedic taste and if you like Hugh Grant you won't be disappointed by Nine Months.
Ever afraid of commitment, Grant's character, Samuel, has it all - well certainly as much as he is comfortable with. With a successful practice as a child psychotherapist, pretty girlfriend (Julianne Moore), an age old cat and a Porsche, life couldn't get any more demanding. However, unbeknown to Samuel, his girlfriend Rebecca is starting to feel as though something is missing from life - a child.
During a drive home one day, whereby Samuel is voicing his disapproval of modern parenting and the amount of troubled kids he has to deal with, Rebecca announces she is pregnant which causes him to crash the car in disbelief. In spite of the pregnancy being purely accidental, Samuel begins to feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights and inwardly cowers at the thought of how his perfect and self-serving existence may have to be compromised.
What follows is his deceitful and feigned interest in his unborn child once it becomes evident that Rebecca wants to keep the baby. But as the pregnancy progresses his indifference becomes clear to Rebecca as he misses or turns up late for scans, protests when he is told by the doctor that his cat will have to be re-homed and that his beloved Porsche will have to be traded in for a family friendly alternative.
Throw in his friend (played by Jeff Goldblum), his friend's sister, husband and three errant kids who are nothing but a harsh omen of what the future holds and both external chaos and inner turmoil ensue.
Hugh Grant is a master at portraying the suppressed British buffoon and this movie is by no means an exception. Will he eventually accept he must grow up and take responsibility or will he call time on what he once cherished as a relaxed and chaos free partnership?
This Morning (1988)
Fodder for the Brain-Dead
Although just occasionally the programme boasts a decent discussion and/or notable guest, for the main part this show drones on like a bout of manic depression.
If I want cookery tips I'll consult a cookbook. If I want fashion tips I'll buy a copy of Vogue and if I wanted advice, I would never call the "This Morning" agony team unless I'd been magically abducted by aliens and subsequently partially lobotomised overnight.
The trouble with magazine shows is that they attempt to squeeze far too many bulletins into the schedule, rendering this particular show rushed and exhausting. When a topic comes on that is actually half-way intelligent, it is given barely enough airtime to enable the viewer to gain much clarity before the enforced serious expressions of the presenters suddenly revert to the joyousness of competition time - ergo trivialising the nature of the previous bulletin.
Personally I find it insulting to my intelligence, not unlike most daytime TV that is pumped out for the masses and spoon-fed to those whose only interest in this life is to figure out how to pull off a pair of Primark denims whilst simultaneously baking an Alaskan pie.
Come Dine with Me (2004)
Not Always Hygenic Food Preparation
I am consistently amazed by the total cleanliness that the homes of the contestants boast only to then observe some decidedly poor cooking hygiene.
That goes for the celebrity versions too. On one Celebrity Come Dine With Me, we see Anneka Rice drop a bag full of fresh squid rings onto her kitchen carpet, only to scoop it up, request that the clip not be included before throwing it all unrinsed back into the paella pan. Inexcusable lenience for the most basic food handling laws.
The ongoing narration adds well to the humorous side of the show although many recipes are not helpful for regular home-cooking since in order to impress the dinner guests, hosts have a frequent tendency to push the boat out and many dishes are decadent in terms of calorific content and unsuitable for daily consumption. Contestants also have an allocated budget meaning they can afford a more upmarket joint of meat or the better catch of the day.
What is appealing is the "fly on the wall" aspect of this programme. Once the small talk is over with, we the viewers get to see the real opinions of the guests as they are interviewed separately and on occasion the over-the-table banter leads to upset and disquiet as we see dominant personalities clash.
Somewhat of a cult show, it is definitely worth one watch, even if, like me, you do not necessarily favour cookery programmes. The comedic element is what sells this truly worthwhile programme!
Goodnight Sweetheart (1993)
Nostalgic, Original and Humorous
When happily married TV repair man, Gary Sparrow (Nicholas Lyndhurst), asks a policeman for directions to a customer's house, he inadvertently walks down an alleyway and straight through a time barrier.
Oblivious at first, and still lost, he enters The Royal Oak public house and observes the period decor and costume, assuming he has walked into a "Theme Pub". But he soon realises he's somehow travelled back into the past. When an air raid begins, he finds himself in the Landlord's cellar with other regulars and also the Landlord's attractive daughter, Phoebe.
The two become close when Gary performs "miraculous" first aid on Phoebe's father and he agrees to return and pay her a visit. To his relief, Gary finds he can travel at will between the 1940's and the 1990's via Duckett's Passage - and both lives become often perilously intertwined.
In order to access the passage with greater ease, Gary leases a new shop in a new, nearby complex and fills it with war memorabilia which he easily acquires from his other life. To survive in the 1940's, his 1990's friend, Ron, a printer, forges wartime monetary notes and he passes as an important war worker (spy).
Neither his modern wife, Yvonne, nor his wartime sweetheart, Phoebe, are aware of his double life and this leads to some hilarious near misses.
Gary impresses the Royal Oak customers with his renditions of modern popular songs which he claims he wrote himself whilst maintaining his bogus spy career with advanced war information which he learns from his present day history books.
Almost every possible scenario is covered, making each episode truly entertaining. Highly recommended if you like nostalgic, wartime Britain.
Adrenaline ride from start to finish!
James Caan stars as author Paul Sheldon who has made a good living writing romantic novels based around the character Misery Chastaine.
However, fearful of being type-cast and tired of continuing the whole Misery saga, he pens his last ever "Misery" novel, hands his manuscript to his publisher and retreats to a remote cabin to write a more gritty novel about slum kids.
Once completed, he tucks his manuscript into his trusty old leather wallet, checks out and begins his car journey back to New York - home of his daughter and his publisher. However, a recent blizzard causes Paul to lose control of his car and he subsequently rolls it off the road and down a snowy embankment, sustaining multiple injuries as well as knocking himself unconscious.
We, the viewer, witness a passer-by free Paul from the mangled car with a crow bar and carry him off by way of a fireman's lift. We are given no clues as to the identity nor sex of the rescuer.
All this occurs in the opening scenes but the real story gets going as Paul awakes in a strange room, slightly concussed and also confused as a strange, rotund woman comes into focus, declaring herself to be his "Number one fan". She also declares herself to be a nurse but, due to the blizzard, she declares the roads to be closed and the phone lines down, making it impossible for an ambulance to get to her remote farm...
In spite of carer Annie Wilkes' inventiveness in stabilising Paul's legs via home made splints, she has a presumably illegal stash of various meds and equipment that she has hoarded since her days as a paediatric nurse.
Very soon into Paul's incarceration, he allows Annie to read his new manuscript - something he has previously never allowed due to his superstitions but makes an exception due to his acceptance that she saved his life. Upon reading a few chapters, Annie returns to Paul's room with lunch and, when asked for her opinion, she quickly becomes irate about the profanity within. So much so that she launches into a verbal faux pas whilst consistently spilling hot soup all over her victim and subsequently holding him culpable. Realising she's gone too far, she attempts to redeem herself by apologising and thereafter telling Paul that she loves him, before adding 'Your mind, that's all I meant' Almost at once, Paul realises he is in the company of a sociopath and from that point on he plays to her tune in a bid to make good his escape.
But escape is never easy when one has broken bones and when he shows signs of recovery he is disabled once again...
...But best of all, she's British.
Lara Croft - Lethal and Loaded is an absolute must in terms of viewing for all Tomb Raider fans and their friends & families.
Even non-gamers could be forgiven for being utterly captivated by this exceptionally informative and entertaining peek into the world of the original 3D environment that it's star, Lara Croft, both inhabits and explores.
Upon the release of Tomb Raider, gamers worldwide were almost hypnotised by Lara's charm, figure, stealth and tenacity. Perhaps more importantly, however, gamers were favourably astounded by the concept of a 3D environment in which they could quite literally lose themselves.
This documentary adequately explores Lara's rise to international fame and gives the uninitiated a chance to gain better understanding of the character's popularity whilst also justifying the enormity of her fan base.
The documentary features Lara Croft official models both past and (then) present, her fans, her life story and many enticing and mouth-watering scenes from the games themselves.
This DVD is very hard to come by, I might add; so if you see it on sale don't hesitate to snap it up! You won't regret it.
Ring of Bright Water (1969)
Effortlessly Enjoyable ( Possible *Spoilers*)
Graham Merrill is a disillusioned White Collar worker in London. One lunchtime he ventures to the pub with his colleague and is persuaded to buy a raffle ticket. Little could he know that the purchasing of this ticket would dramatically change the course of his life forever.
Graham wins first prize - a juicy fresh salmon and he carries it wrapped in newspaper along the streets of the city until it slides out and lands directly beneath the window of a pet shop, behind which sits a curious looking little otter.
The otter seems to instantly bond with and thereafter recognise Graham every time he passes - as though he senses his presence, even in spite of Graham's various attempts at disguising himself or shielding his face with a book as he passes. The daily passing of the pet shop becomes somewhat of a ritual and when Graham one day overhears two men discussing the benefits of buying and training the otter for circus work, Graham wastes no time in purchasing the furry friend.
Once home, it is not long before the newly-named Mij makes his destructive mark on Graham's flat and before long he is told to vacate the premises. This leads him to change his lifestyle completely when he spots an advertisement in a local paper for a remote Scottish cottage that would suit a writer.
And so begins the journey to pastures new, where Graham must live off the fat of the land, repairing and furnishing the cottage largely with driftwood and just about any resources he can find lying around in and around the bay.
Graham's love interest is local doctor Mary (Played by Virginnia McKenna), and between Graham, Mary, Mij and Mary's dog, the four become close companions as they face new challenges with the change of seasons.
A relaxed setting and pace, this film is an absolute must for a dreary afternoon but do get the tissues at the ready!