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Rich B

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285 reviews in total 
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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Edge of your seat thriller, but aged and in need of a Special Edition, 24 October 2005

I remember watching Nick of Time, forgive me, a long time ago. Ever since then whenever people talk about how revolutionary 24 is, I mention this movie. Nick of Time is filmed in real time, and I don't think it's the first one, but it's definitely the first I've seen. Yet it's not overly in your face, there's no ticking clock all over the screen, and even without the knowledge that it's happening in your time frame it's still suspenseful.

Movie You'll be forgiven at times for thinking you're watching a TV Movie, that's very much the feel here and it's just legacy of the times I'm afraid, but if you hold with it you'll have some payback. The story is simple yet very strong, a mans daughter is kidnapped and he is told that he has under ninety minutes to kill someone in order for her to survive. What would any Father do? Exactly, he looks for a way out at every opportunity, and every time he's foiled by his watcher.

Johnny Depp stars as the Father willing to do anything to save his daughters life but struggling with a strong sense of morality. Christopher Walken plays the man who sets the situation up and shadows him at every moment, forcing him to make the killing. Both perform very strongly, and Walken is just classic in this role, relishing the moments to turn totally crazy in a second. The only problem is that Walken sometimes just goes totally over the top, there are a few moments where it just doesn't fit, and you wonder if he would just be drawing too much attention to himself.

The plot is great though, and there are strong twists and turns throughout. Just when you think he's found a way out it's closed with a dramatic crash. You'll find yourself getting to the edge of your seat for the final acts, it does build the suspense and tension really well, and it delivers. The ending is strong, fast, and not entirely expected. Not that it's a big surprise, but it takes you in some good directions.

At times though the use of the camera becomes so blatant it's cheesy. It's used to over explain certain moments, like mad zooms or repeated closeups that just don't need to be there, the audience doesn't need spoon fed they've already guessed what's happening! There's a lot of hand-held in the film too, and at times it does get a little too much, however overall the filming is good and does help to build the harassed feeling of running with the main character.

The other noticeable affect of the time in which it was filmed is the totally overpowering soundtrack. The music tends to overtake the scenes and drown out the action, distracting you from the movie and fighting for your attention. While I'm talking about the soundtrack, the use of the echo effect is also overused, and it would end up annoying me rather than heightening a feeling.

Audio Presented: Dolby Digital 5.1 The sound is fine for watching, but there's nothing to really take advantage of a decent Home Cinema, or for that matter of any Home Cinema. You could just as easily watch this on a Stereo TV, and I actually ended up doing just that.

Picture Presented: 1.85:1 Anamorphic It's quite obvious that this is the straight DVD offering of the movie that Studios churn out from their back catalogue, checking the the sale figures to see if they could invest in a Special Edition and then re-issue. The picture looks as though it's taken straight from the stock print without any digitisation or clean up. It's not awful, but it's not DVD quality.

Extras Presented: Trailer No, I will not write down that it has scene access, that is not an extra, that's a standard. So all we have to offer on this release is the movie itself and a trailer. Very disappointing. It would have been wonderful to find out the inside story on the creation of a real time movie, but alas no.

Overall It's a great story, well executed and filled with blocked turns and a few twists. You'll enjoy it and most likely you'll have that anticipation in the final act wondering how the lead is going to get out of this situation. However it could really do with a Special Edition treatment, a revitalised picture and audio, with a good audio commentary to boot. For now though, it's worth a rental for the story alone.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Great performance from Moore, but a poorly executed story, 23 October 2005

Moore and West are very strong in this movie, and very convincing, but it's Moore that totally steals the scenes as she does in just about every movie she's in. She's so natural and engaging, not only beautiful, and that what makes her acting so believable and pulls you right into her character. West is also very good, but he's not as strong.

Sinise is good too, but the difficulty is that he always seems to play his characters very similarly, however he does fit here. I'm surprised that Edwards managed to so easily pull off his role, I expected that I'd just be staring at him and thinking of that character I always saw and loved in ER, but no, he totally pulls it off. Finally, there has to be a mention to Roache who plays his friendly man character chillingly to perfection.

Now, that's the easy stuff out of the way. Let's get to the movie itself, and until the NSA arrives you'll be enjoying the movie, pulled into the thick of it and as confused and paranoid as all the characters you're watching. Up until this point it's a pretty good thriller, with good camera work, lighting and direction, from here on it's a hurried mess.

For no reason the film races from the NSA to the next premise, there's no explanation and a huge leap, in fact the NSA aren't really on screen long enough to intrigue you. No sooner have they arrived than their threat is replaced with something else, and you can't help but look back on that and think that there should have been more time building that paranoia only to replace it with the next level.

Not only that but it seems so hard for the characters to believe that the NSA are involved, but believing that there's a level of conspiracy higher than them is taken at complete face value with no truth whatsoever. This just doesn't seem right for any character, never mind these ones which we've just been shown are sceptical and unsure.

This is a running theme throughout the latter half of the movie actually, in that many of the surprises and twists fall flat as there's no real build up of suspense or contradictory feelings. Events just kind of appear and characters accept them and deal with them. You almost feel like you're watching a played out story already as the tension is gone.

There's another major flaw, and I don't believe I'm giving anything away here because it's no surprise. From the outset you, the audience, side with the main character Paretta. You're made to feel for her and to understand her pain, and this is a great connection but the effect for the rest of the movie is that you believe her, you trust in her, at no point do you think she's crazy. This goes against what the movie tries to do, it tries to make you believe that she may be mad, and she may be losing it, but there's just no way you can believe that as the performance that Moore brings is that of an utterly devastated Mother who is clinging onto something that is actually tangible, and the movie continually backs her up, this contradicts what it tries to do to the audience.

Add to that little mistakes that are crucial story points but just seem idiotic when you think about them. For instance there are memories being erased, photos being wiped, videos cleared, and yet there's the need to physically re-paper the walls in a room...what happened to all that technological magic to make the paper disappear like everything else? Sorry, that just doesn't wash and smacks you in the face to get you out of the movie.

However, visually the movie is excellent, the overhead shots to give the feeling of being watched and of isolation are superb, wherever the characters are the locations and lighting are really well carried out and provide for a superb looking movie. There's also the most amazing car crash scene you'll have seen, it's so realistic and this is one of the moments that actually defeats what I've said above. The suspense and surprise is built really well for this scene.

I was surprised at the Audio Commentary which features the and the director. Ruben mentions quite a few times that he's unsure what the audience want and what they feel from scenes. This struck me as surely being a problem, as the director would surely be building a scene to look and sound great, fit in with the rest of the picture, but also to manipulate the audience in some way and illicit an emotional reaction. Yet it sounds as the the director doesn't really know how to do this and continually questions the audience.

Combined with the comments made between the writer and director about some key expositional scenes makes me think that there was also a distinct lack of understanding between them, and perhaps more cooperation might have produced a better movie. At one point the writer talks about a great expositional scene and how he likes the way it makes the audience understand an aspect of the character, the director sounds surprised and says he wishes he had known that at the time, to which the writer responds "Yeah, maybe you'd have left some of it in". Joking or digging, I'm not sure but it certainly is telling. For these reasons it's a very interesting commentary track.

40 out of 51 people found the following review useful:
Excellent entertainment, superb characters and great detail, 23 October 2005

There are a few aspects to Park's movies, and in particular Wallace & Gromit, that I would say make them so great. The first is subtlety and observation, the flagship of which is the character of Gromit. He doesn't speak, he doesn't make any noise, all he has are his eyes, brow, and body posture, and with these he commands the film. Park manages to give us everything we need from this silent character through his expression. The comedy and the emotion is conveyed through the subtlest of movements and it works superbly well.

Watching the movie you have to be aware of the entire screen. Normally you'll be guided to things in the movies, the screen won't be cluttered too much, there won't be many things to take your eyes away from the main clue or action. Park seems to need to look the other way with his movies. He throws extra content at his audience, there's action in the background, to the side of the screen, even off screen, and there's just about always something in the foreground to catch your eye. His movies are about multiple viewing and discovery, they're layered with jokes and ancillary action.

Throughout this film there are layers of things happening on screen, jokes in the foreground maybe on a jar label and background shadows that give away action. You can imagine that for Park the movies has always been an event, and the movies he loves are ones which he wants to watch again and again. This is what shows in his movies, and in through his most beloved characters.

Then there are the bizarre and wacky inventions which Wallace make, something which is reflected in the storyline and the twists and turns of the plot, everything is bizarre and off the wall, yet it seems so perfectly normal in this world. You can imagine that inside Park is the mind of Wallace.

There's also one more thing that make these movies so unique, and that's the modelling and precise hand animation. I must admit I was concerned when I knew Dreamworks was involved in the making of this movie, and I thought that they would bring their computer animation experience to the forefront. What I was scared of was Wallace & Gromit becoming CGI entities, or at the smallest, CGI being used to clean up the feel that the modelling brought to the movie.

Not so. You can still see thumbprints and toolmarks on the characters, and far from distracting from the movie, this just adds so much real feeling to it and a feeling of physical depth to the characters and the scene on screen.

So what of the movie? Well I must say that the plot twist was something I had thought about well before the film was in the cinema and it came as no surprise, but that did not affect my enjoyment one little bit. Actually watching the twist unfold and the comic timing of the discovery and reactions was everything, and it had me just as sucked in as if it was a thriller, yet all the time I was laughing.

Watching the movie was fascinating in various ways. To see the animation completed, how wild the inventions are, how Wallace is going to get into trouble and Gromit get him out, where all the cross references are in the movie, and where all the jokes are! I must admit afterwards talking with my friends I couldn't believe how much I had missed.

There's something different in this movie than with the others, there's a new level of adult humour in here, and I don't mean rude jokes (although there are a couple that are just so British you can't help laughing), I mean jokes that simply fly over kids heads but slap adults in the face. The kind you are used to seeing come out of somewhere like Pixar. This just adds even more appeal to the movie.

Okay though, let me try and be a bit negative here. I didn't notice the voices in this movie, you know how you usually listen to the actors and see if you can recognise them? Well I was just too wrapped up in the movie to care or to notice who they were...okay, that's not negative. Let me try again. The main plot wasn't as strong and gripping as I'd expected, and I found myself being caught up in the side stories and the characters themselves...again...that's not a bad thing, the film was just so much rich entertainment.

I honestly can't think of a bad thing to say about this movie, probably the worst thing I could say is that the title sequence at the end is quite repetitive...until the final title! Really, that's the worst I can say.

The story is a lot of fun, well set-up, well written, well executed. There's lot's of fantastic characters in here, not just Wallace & Gromit. There's so much happening on screen, so many references and jokes (check out the dresses of Lady Tottingham), cheese jokes everywhere, jokes for all the family. The characters are superbly absorbing and you'll find that you've taken to them before you realise. There's just so much in this movie for everyone.

There's so much I could say and write about, but I know it will quickly turn into a backslapping exercise for Park and Aardman, it would also just turn into a series of "this bit was really funny" and "there's a bit when...", and what I would rather do is tell you that this is a superb movie, to go see it, and to experience the whole thing for yourselves. I will say though that the bunnies are excellent!

73 out of 85 people found the following review useful:
Superb movie, well directed and a stunning performance from Connelly. Shakespearean Tragedy in a modern setting., 21 October 2005

Movie It's a great movie, without a doubt, a strong and intelligent offering with some of the strongest and most heartfelt performances I've seen for a long time. Jennifer Connelly is stunning, and I don't just mean in looks, her acting is amazing and is picked up on the audio commentary again and again. One scene early on requires her to shed a single tear while talking quite normally on the phone, as if on queue it drops. You can hardly believe someone could give such a heart wrenchingly emotional and confused performance as this and manage to retain a normal life, watching her you believe that she is in a downward spiral of depression and self destruction. A totally believable and emotionally charged performance.

Ben Kingsley also gives a great performance, although not so outwardly recognisable in emotion, it's only really until you watch the audio commentary and listen to the praise given by the Director and author that you realise how subtle and exacting his performance is. His character is defined by strength, beliefs and pride, and Kingsley gives an excellent performance, Shakespearean in stature.

The film itself is emotionally draining, and you feel you're being taken on that roller-coaster drop along with Connelly's character, but don't for a second think that you shouldn't see it for those reasons, it's a journey that is superbly rewarding as a movie and an education in the miscommunication of people. Particularly people of different cultures.

As the movie progresses and the events step further and further down towards their tragic conclusion, the characters become more and more complex. Starting as simple, pigeon holed characters that you've seen before, they soon become more real and pull you into the movie, wrapping you up in them. They become utterly engaging and you totally disengage from life around you.

There's a strong supporting cast, although the performance from Jonathan Ahdout is not too convincing, those around them are, I think a particular mention is required to Shohreh Aghdashloo who provides an emotional balance for the coldness of Kingsley's character and an emotional mirror to the devastation of Connelly's character.

Two things are mentioned in the audio commentary that I didn't really pick up on until then, but retrospectively you realise these contribute greatly to making it a great movie. The first is the subtlety, there are many images and scenes without words that you don't truly appreciate until a second viewing, or a very careful first one. The second is the way that Kinglsey praises the Director's style of never telling the audience what did happen and is going to happen, events just occur. For instance the breaking of the marriage of Ron Eldard, where there is no explanation given, it's just happened. This has the effect of treating the audience with respect and realising that they have intelligence, and it also makes for an excellent way of keeping the pace of the movie.

Picture Presented: The picture is crisp and sharp, a superb use of lighting in the movie moving from the bright opening beginning of the story it darkens through time to the bleak and dismal closing scenes. The light is always warm and inviting, with any artificial light looking sterile, and the darker shots bleak and dismal. Some of the time lapse shots between scenes are beautiful.

Audio Presented: The audio is very good, although there is nothing to really take advantage of a surrounding speaker system, the sound is kept sparse and atmospheric, with an extremely subtle and limited soundtrack it gives everything to the movie and never distracts.

Extras Presented: What strikes you about this DVD are the beautiful animated menus, black and white shots from through the movie fill the background giving you the feeling of mystery and indeed sadness.

The Deleted Scenes are good, although alongside they have a dull and very annoying commentary. Rather than talking about the scene and giving some insights you are treated to noises of laughter, snorting and approval interspersed with over the top bouts of backslapping. Awful, before it's over you're dreading the onset of the audio commentary. The Behind the Scenes is good, but nothing new.

The Photo Gallery is very well done as it's not a gallery at all, it's a featurette that is filled with stills between interviews with people talking about actors, characters and key scenes. It's a very engaging way of creating a gallery. Another huge extra is the Shohreh Aghdashloo Audition, it's truly amazing to see this actress work through some very emotionally harrowing scenes one after the other right in front of your eyes, it gives you a superb grounding in what it really means to be an actor and auditioning. With this performance it's hardly surprising she gained the role.

Finally there is the Audio Commentary, and after the pathetic commentary on the deleted scenes I was really concerned. However the backslapping was slightly subdued for the full commentary, still very evident but much more bearable due to the amount of information that was given about the story, filming and the actors themselves. Combining Kingsley, Vadim Perelman and Andre Dubus III, you are treated to a really wide view from story conception through development, filming, acting and ultimately post production. I really enjoyed this insightful commentary, although bordering on the crawling at parts, it gave you a lot more about the movie and the story. It also provides an interesting look at the actors and their methods.

Overall The movie is superb and firmly fixes itself in the realms of classic tragedy. The acting from both leads is stunning, particularly Connelly, and the supporting cast provide strong backing. Powerful, emotional and at times quite harrowing, this is superb entertainment and a movie deserving far more recognition than it did, again particularly for Connelly.

5 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Too comic and loses focus on the possible rich thriller it could have been, 21 October 2005

The trailer makes this movie seem like a slick visually rich thriller about a cop chasing down a cold killer, unfortunately the film doesn't live up to that premise.

Movie There's certainly some strong character moments but they are left under developed and under explored, they're treated all too lightly and often too comically. The visually slick scenes are also too underused and separated by weak character follow through, so one strong moment on screen isn't built upon with the characters.

The film is very much a merging of two styles, taught thriller and often slapstick comedy. For me this just doesn't work, these two styles belong far apart.

The story focuses on the rise of a killer pitched against the fall of a cop, a cop who has given up on his career and any morale boundaries, believing only in himself and obtaining cash any way he can.

As the killer rises in his chosen path the cop stumbles upon him, realises and then finds a purpose to his job. Yet this is not is salvation, it comes as he reaches his lowest point and all there is left is the single, all consuming cause of catching the killer.

It's really interesting to read the plot like that as it does read as a good movie, but intersperse the comedy and the unexplored avenues of the characters and story, and it really does bring the movie down. It's not just a case of realising these lost opportunities after the fact, as they pop up I actually caught myself audibly questioning why they'd just walked away from a scene. At times it was a frustrating movie.

You'll see this in some of the decisions the cop makes and the investigations. They're all too convenient and almost too much of a leap not only to believe but also to understand. This and the weak, unexplored characters don't bring any affinity to the audience.

That's the failing part of the movie. As it could have been such a great film combining American Psycho and Heat, but it just never gets that far and just gets distracted.

Audio Presented: Dolby Digital 2.0 / 5.1, DTS The audio is solid here with a good DTS soundtrack, but nothing special that takes advantage of the speakers available. The music sometimes overpowered the story at key points, and at others was quite effective, but overall quite forgettable.

Picture Presented: 16:9 Anamorphic Good picture overall with some difficult scenes combining night and rain together, they look dark and dreary yet retaining a bold contrast.

Extras Presented: Behind the Scenes, Deleted Scenes, Music Video, Outtakes, Asia Extreme Trailers The Behind the Scenes were interesting, showing such things as the recreation of full upper body sculptures from the actors for the dead characters. There's also a lot more insight into the characters and how the actors played them.

The Deleted Scenes and Outtakes were simply that, although some proved quite amusing at repeating the slapstick moments. The music video is quite good, as are the Extreme Trailers, but an overall poorer offering in terms of extras.

Overall A very interesting plot that just gets glossed over far too quickly, and with the concentration seeming to be on the comedy rather than character and story progression, it doesn't really attract too well. It's an interesting DVD to watch, but an unfulfilling story.

"Profit" (1996)
42 out of 42 people found the following review useful:
Clever, sharp, multi-layered and dark. Superbly directed and acted, 16 October 2005

Profit poses many interesting questions, even before you watch the series. It was applauded by critics and failed when broadcast, so who got it wrong? The critics, the network, or perhaps it was the audience?

After watching the DVD, I'm convinced. This time the critics were spot on.

The creators looked to the corporate world and brought a complete sociopath into it, then layered style galore, and managed to keep the costs down and still produce some excellent drama which, although slightly dated in looks, could compete well with today's programming with its dark and edgy feel.

Series The series opens strongly in the first few episodes, the dating is apparent more in the quality of picture than anything else although some hairstyles do give away the years quite effectively as well as the phones they use, other than that you'd be forgiven for mistaking the release date.

There's a great sense of direction early on in the series and a real sense of Profit controlling and just how truly amoral he really is. The character is crafted so well and the events of each episode carefully orchestrated to show his slight and careful manipulation of other characters in order to manoeuvre them to his needs and his ultimate goal.

Unfortunately the careful crafting of the episode and the power of the character of Profit seems to dull towards the end of the series. His involvement in events becomes more direct, more obvious, much less clever. He actually feels much more like a henchman running to keep up with events around him than the opening sociopath.

That said, the first half of the series really does keep the focus on his power and manipulation, and to great effect. The whole premise of the show is superb, concentrating on the truly driven character at the centre, a character with no morals at all.

The episodes are multi-layered and complex, weaving multiple threads of the storyline together building them to a strong and very satisfying conclusion. They are dark and edgy yet it's not all serious and there is a far bit of comic value in the series ranging from the darkly comic to the odd moment of silliness. Neither overpowers the main feel of the movie though and these moments are well woven into the series.

One of the main devices used throughout the series is the voice-over of Profit, this is used to open and close each episode as well as providing insight throughout and some further exposition. Surprisingly this works really well as it does make you feel as though Profit is leading you through this journey as he does so many characters in the series. It's not so much used to say "Here's what's happening" but more "Here's what I'm going to make happen", it takes you right into his world from the opening moment.

Pasdar is superb as Profit, as is Szarabajka who plays the MD of G&G, there are some really strong performances from secondary characters throughout the series.

The two man team of David Greenwalt and John McNamara have done a wonderful job of developing this character and threading together the episodes, as well as the threads within each episode.

Sound: DDStereo The audio was clear and a very good soundtrack carried through the series. There was no real need for anything over Digital Stereo as there aren't any moments of loud action or explosions. The contrast of levels between shouts and whispers were good so that no volume adjustments were required.

Picture: 1.33:1 You can tell from the film style that this is from the nineties, it lacks the crispness of today's television, yet that's not a distraction. The picture does look really good, even on the then futuristic computer animation. The picture is good and clear with great colours and lighting particularly when visiting Profit's own private home. There's not an abundance of camera work and hand-held here, but there are some excellently filmed and framed scenes, with great use of crane and dolly shots.

Extras: Seven episodes including two hour pilot, Featurette with interviews and discussion from the creator and stars, Audio Commentaries on some episodes with Pasdar, Greenwalt and McNamara.

The Commentaries are interesting and entertaining, but perhaps the strongest and most revealing is that of the Pilot where the creators and main star give away most of the information you'll hear later on.

There's a lot of insightful discussion into the creation and development of the show and of the Profit character, as well as the story behind the sell of the series. It really does sound as though the show was developed around the character.

The discussions give us an impression of how much the actor was involved, how deep the character development of the series was, and how the relationships between the characters and the people on set developed and grew.

There's not many commentaries I can say this about, but this one really gets you excited about the show, the filming and the acting. Their passion for the character and the series really does get under your skin.

This passion extends into the other commentaries, all except the final episode which is surprisingly disappointing after the bar being raised so high on the first. There's little incisive examination of the episode, what was going to happen, and what could have been.

The featurette takes off where the commentaries left and builds more on the relationships of the characters and crew, as well as delving further into the darkness of Profit the series and the character.

Overall Profit is clever, sharp and superbly directed. It's a very clever and complex tale which when watched now, really does show that it heralded the dark and edgy television which we are now craving more and more of today. Who would have thought that watching someone this evil would be so enjoyable?

Wimbledon (2004)
30 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly funny and enjoyable. Well filmed and superb performance from Bettany., 7 October 2005

Straight off I have to make something clear, I wasn't really looking forward to watching this. A romantic comedy movie from some of the Working Title team based on Wimbledon didn't exactly set my pulse racing. I did not want another comedy from this stable, for me Love Actually had stretched the idea enough for me.

So after seeing it I'm very surprised I enjoyed it so much. Despite the rom-com badge and the almost unbelievable premise of Wimbledon it's actually very entertaining and the focus is very much on the com side of that genre label.

Movie The movie has a lot of style right from the very cool opening credits. The filming of the tennis scenes are well done and keep the flow of the movie going. Imagine showing all the crucial Tennis matches for two players climbing through the stages in Wimbledon without the story going dull and the cinematography going into a standard and repetitive style? Well it doesn't, it's almost matrix-esue in it's style in fact. For sports and romantic films, it certainly breaks the mould.

Putting aside the style and the fast paced music, what about the story? Well it's actually got a few twists which are quite unexpected and although it does tread typical ground, the turns are enough to keep you guessing as to the outcome and keep you hooked.

Neat the finals this really does come out and I was very surprised to find myself on the edge of my seat for some of the points, and indeed some of the matches.

It's very funny too, and Paul Bettany shows a particular talent for timing, comedy and looks on camera. It's Bettany that really carries this movie backed by strong performances by Kirsten Dunst, Sam Neill and some smaller British filled roles for Bettany's characters family.

Bettany is totally believable from playing the tennis matches through to the romantic moments. His acting talent shows through amazingly well and is aided by a fantastically written script with some truly funny moments. In particular the self talking moments when we travel inside the head of the tennis player during a match. They seem to capture perfectly the moments of self doubt we all seem to have, quite insightful.

Sound Presented: English - Dolby Digital (5.1) Sporting an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack at times you can hear the ground around you applauding, or the sound of a ball going past. When a moment of dialogue appears everything is dialled down and there's no attempt at over use.

Picture Presented: Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic Something that struck me was the potential to have the screen be overpowered by the greens of Wimbledon and with the traditional weather there was a thought that the movie would look too dark and dull. Neither is true.

The picture is sharp and vibrant through the movie, clear and bright and very colour rich, it retains this look through even the more complex of special effects match shots.

Extras Presented: Audio commentary with Richard Loncraine and Paul Bettany, 'Welcome To The Club' featurette, 'Ball Control' featurette, 'Coach A Rising Star' featurette, 'Wimbledon: A Look Inside' featurette, Trailers The featurettes are about how the tennis was filmed, how the actors were trained, looks inside Wimbledon itself, and some further looks into the movie. They are quite short and interesting, but they aren't the main draw here, they just serve as distractions from the superb audio commentary from Bettany and the director Richard Loncraine.

Insightful, funny and quite revealing, we hear much about the behind the scenes, shots that never were and how the actors got on together. This was one of the better commentaries I've heard and well worth listening to. Both Bettany and Loncraine are funny and self depreciating, typical British humour.

Overall It's a funny and very enjoyable movie, actually quite a surprise and in a way actually funnier than Love Actually. It also seems to capture the inner dialogues that people face daily very well, as well as some of the other dialogue being nailed rather well. Bettany shines in this film and it shows the huge talent that he has.

Prey Alone (2004)
7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Tight, dark, tense movie explodes into action coupled with a great story and satisfying conclusion...and in 15 minutes!, 24 September 2005

"...Prey Alone is a high octane, ball busting, roaring screaming chase movie set somewhere in the near future...

...It is in fact the first digital home movie. None of the backgrounds even exist - they were all created in computers...

...the only elements of live action in the movie are the actors and some hand props...'s not just an example of imaginative cinematic techniques, it has a powerful narrative with a thoroughly satisfying & clever twist in the tale that ties up all the loose ends and wraps up the experience with a big bow." Well. There you go. There's not much else to say really! Quote courtesy of the homepage.

The short is tight, dark and tense, giving a great feeling of paranoia and a bit of confusion from the beginning, and before long it's kicking into high gear to to reach a superbly satisfying and totally unexpected finale. The story is clever, and well woven in throughout the piece with clues and references throughout.

These guys really know where to place a camera and how to pull the audience along with them and into the action. Speaking of which there are some really cool moments that look superb on screen, and the effects that make up a huge part of this movie are complimentary and not overpowering. There's no Bullet-Time type effect that takes you out of the movie and you stare in awe at the effect itself, no all of this fits in and although there are scenes you're aware you're looking at an effect, it's not a movie drop out moment.

The acting is good as well, as this is often where shorts and movies alike with limited budgets can fall over. Not here though, not at all. The actors are strong, restrained and in particular Ger Carey who does a great job giving more with his facial expressions than with words.

There are a couple of "no way" moments, but then you hardly have time to think about them, the action is moving too fast, and it's big toy action so you can't help but grin.

If only some of the big Hollywood movies had this much good quality in them, most probably wouldn't break the ten minute mark.

You have to see this short, and it's easy to get hold of too, just check it out from the site itself. Get to it through the Gallery section to find out more information and see the trailer, there's quite a bit of behind the scenes information and pictures, and hit the Mpeg section to download the 15 minute movie.

The Echo (2004)
13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Great cinematography, strong acting and script, and a very subtle horror., 20 September 2005

During the opening scenes the dark, decrepit apartment block provided plenty of claustrophobia and paranoia and set me at unease before the titles had even finished.

The story is a strong and very visual one, and at times does seem to borrow from Asian horror, a fact that Laranas disputes in the audio commentary, but it never feels wrong. The characters are quite identifiable, even from such a different culture, and the actors are surprisingly good. They have their moments though, and the beautiful Locsinplays a few moments awkwardly, while Gutierrez has a few lines where his dialogue feels wrong for his character. The other male leads Yllana and Blanco provide very convincing performances, and as for Calzado, well she has some truly terrifying moments.

Calzado and Yllana manage to give such a believable performance as the abused wife and abusing husband respectively. This is done with suggestion and intent, and no actual violence. It's the looks in their faces and their utterly convincing tone that captures this, and I suspect that many will find these scenes very uncomfortable without them actually having any violence. This shows the strength of the script and Director.

By far the creepiest moments are with the child . When the apartment door opens without warning it's enough to scare you, but when the child runs in and hides under the bed, and with a blood red face, I admit Laranas had me freaked out. This feeling is reinforced when it occurs again and there is no child, just the camera hinting at the movements of someone. An excellent method of building unease in the audience.

Laranas knows the tricks of the trade when it comes to horror, the scares, screams and tension building is done very well, and even without the child moments there are some very scary moments...The scenes in the cinema and the toilet cubicle are superbly filmed. There's great use of the camera throughout, and the understanding that less actually more and subtlety is a wonderful trait.

The cinematography and sound are very strong aspects of the movie, perhaps the strongest, and there are some superbly visualised and filmed scenes. The sound effects and score are very complimentary to the movie and provide for excellent tension building.

However all is not great, there is a short section of the film where the characters leave the confines of the buildings that they inhabit, both home and work, and this feels slightly out of place in the movie. Suddenly the world is opened up and it feels as though they could just leave and the tension is temporarily halted. As soon as they return to the confines of the apartment though, the tension returns and builds back.

The story builds to good climax, where you genuinely are unsure what's about to happen. Indeed I wasn't sure as the final scenes played out, and I was quite surprised at the ending.

Picture: 1.85:1 Unfortunately this is the failing of the DVD. The picture is extremely harsh in white balance, bright areas very over exposed and at times far too bright, with dark areas being very dark, but not overly. It gives a good feeling for most of the movie but there are some scenes where it's very distracting.

At first I thought this was down to the style of filming, and I found it was starting to annoy me more and more, however when I watched the trailers in the Extras afterwards I discovered that it wasn't the filming, it was the picture on the DVD. Since then I've read another review that says this very same thing. The picture on the DVD heavily let's the movie down, and that's indeed a shame.

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 \ 2.0 Subtitles: English The sound is one of the strongest features in this movie, with a good use made of the DD5.1 available to it. Effects happen around the scene, and it's not overly used so you're hearing sounds all around you, but it is used enough to provide depth to the scenes.

The score stands out and is a major contribution to the tension of the movie. It's very haunting and keeps itself in the background, slowly building and gently tapping at your shoulder. During key scenes it provides the weight to let you know the seriousness of the moment, but it never overpowers the movie.

Extras: Commentary, Behind the Scenes Featurette and Trailers Laranas is perhaps being one of the most mellow Directors I've ever heard. However he provides some good insight to the movie, the actors and some of the problems they faced. I actually found I enjoyed watching the movie a second time with his commentary, and it felt like it added more to the experience.

The Featurette provides direct footage of some of the scenes being filmed, but with no commentary it's not very interesting.

I was slightly disappointed that the trailers didn't carry subtitles. There are a number of trailers for other movies alongside all the trailers for Sigaw, and it is here that you see the picture was not filmed with this harsh contrast.

Overall This is a simple, and very effective story made so by excellent film making techniques in editing, cinematography and sound. This combination is what makes the movie effective in tension building and scare delivery. It's almost a traditional horror, a scary movie without the slasher and special effects that have been employed in the modern horror film.

The acting is strong, and provided a surprise for me in the quality of talent available to the Philippines. There are some weak moments, but nothing that distracts from the story which is kept going at an ever increasing pace.

This is a scary movie with some excellently filmed moments and superb soundtrack that will keep you tense and jumpy. A very enjoyable horror showing subtlety over slashing.

7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Great performances, good interviews, classic for the Hendrix fan., 12 September 2005

Jimi Hendrix: Delux DVD Edition Movie: The documentary is very interesting, and not just for guitar players like myself, I'm a big acoustic guitar fan not electric at all. It concentrates solely on who the man was and his amazing playing, it doesn't get distracted and bogged down with stories of drugs, mismanagement and the circumstances concerning his death. It really does give a sense of the person and the passion behind Jimi Hendrix and his music.

The film comprises of a series of a series of performances, some very rare and some considered classic, interspersed with clips of interviews of Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend, Little Richard, Lou Reed, Mick Jagger, Hendrix himself and the all important ones, from his friends and family.

The interviews are very frank and relaxed, and when interviewing friends you get a sense of sitting chatting with someone rather than the usual interrogation that half hearted interviews can become. With the interviews with other famous stars of the time, and indeed other amazing guitarists like Clapton, there is a real feeling of respect and admiration. They don't hold back about how good or influential he was and there doesn't seem to be any back stabbing or slapping, just genuine conversation and respect.

These aspects are something you can't just make in a documentary, and they enrich the interviews so much making them thoroughly engaging and make for much better documentary.

One of the most interesting parts for me were the live performances, they are excellent to listen to and some are pretty amazing just to watch his performance. These are absolute classic performances and should be watched by any aspiring guitar player, I certainly had a huge desire to grab my guitar and start playing...just don't set it alight!

My favourite piece was Hendrix playing a beautiful twelve string, I love the acoustic guitar and strive to find as many recordings of unusual songs and artists playing their songs acoustically, and this is undoubtedly the pinnacle of that search. It's amazing to see him play, and particularly interesting to see how nervous he was when he makes a mistake (like I heard!) and asks if he can start again. When he steams into the second play you can see he wasn't just an electric virtuoso. His talent is unmistakable and these performances have been selected to really show off his best playing.

Picture: Presented: 1.85:1

The picture quality is very good with a lot of restored and remastered footage. Still some sections show their age and that's not taking into account the hairstyles and clothes! Overall though, it's excellent quality for remastered 1973 footage and some of the older and more worn performances.

The interviews are perhaps the highest picture quality, however here it's the words that matter more than anything, and in the performances it's the music.

Sound: Presented: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Subtitles: English and French

I didn't quite understand this one, presenting the film in DD5.1 seemed a waste of channels without a proper remix to bring you into the performances, or let you feel you're sitting in the studio, park or stage that the interviewees were. It doesn't add anything to the experience over the DD2.0 track. The sound sticks firmly at the front, although at times it does spread wider, but just as much is achieved with the DD2.0.

Some of the older performance footage does sound old with cracks, clicks and hiss. Yet this achieved something else, like that feeling with vinyl, it just adds to the atmosphere and performance.

Extras Presented: From the Uklele to the Strat (63:00), The making of Dolly Dagger and Stone Free performance

From the Uklele to the Strat provides you with what appears to be the full interviews that were used to cut together to make the documentary. Although I did start to find this hard going, it really does provide a level of authenticity and would appeal to the hard bent Hendrix fan. The interviews are wide and extensive, and considering the purchase base for this I would think that there will be many Hendrix fans watching this.

The making of Dolly Dagger is a superb and very insightful feature into the recording process for any song, never mind one of Hendix's. Sitting with the Producer\Engineer from the recording, Eddie Kramer, we're treated to a break down of the track, how it was recorded, insights into the process, and even sections that never made it to the final cut. This was fascinating.

Finally there's a performance of Stone Free from the Atlanta Pop Festival in 1970 on July the 4th, apparently never seen before. This is a blistering watch, and much like the rest of his performances, amazing and very entertaining. Watching his guitar work just astounds me, and listening to how easily he produces the music fills you with envy. Roughly shot, but it again adds to the raw feel of the performance.

Overall: I think this is an excellent documentary for fans of Hendrix and of the guitar. It's an insightful film which doesn't get hung up on any of the contentious issues of the man's life, and instead tells us from his friends, co-workers and peers who he really was and how dedicated to his music he was.

However, if you're not a Hendrix or guitar fan, I think you might find this much harder going. I'd have preferred a more expansive DD5.1 track, or just sticking to the DD2.0, and some more intimate performances would have added to the overall attraction.

A good purchase for the performances, and in particular the acoustic performance, but add the interviews and the making of featurette, and you have a classic DVD for the fan.

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