Category: Recent picks

New DVDs for January

New DVDs for January include new TV shows from Ashley Judd as an ex-spy searching for her missing son, Lena Dunham with her acclaimed NYC sitcom ‘Girls’ & Poppy Montgomery as a Police Detective with perfect recall. Also out this month, the acclaimed Ralph Fiennes Shakespeare update ‘Coriolanus’; ‘Hope Springs’ with Meryl Streep & Tommy Lee Jones as an aging married couple attempting to reconnect with each other; & Steve Carell & Keira Knightley seek a friend for the end of the world…

Cover imageMissing. The complete first season.
“How far would you go to save the person you love most in the world? Emmy Award nominee* Ashley Judd stars in Missing, ABC’s riveting new series, bursting with international intrigue and thrilling twists and turns. Becca Winstone (Ashley Judd) learns that her son, Michael, has disappeared while studying abroad, and it’s a race against time when she travels to Europe to track him down. It soon becomes clear that Becca is no ordinary woman, but a former CIA agent deactivated after the devastating death of her husband, Paul Winstone (Sean Bean). If she wants to find her son alive, Becca will have to rely on old friends, as well as old enemies, ex-lovers, and spies, and will be forced to reopen old wounds. Her resourcefulness, skill, and determination will be put to the test – but a mother’s love knows no limits. ABC’s action-packed drama grabs you from the very first minute and never lets go. Relive Becca’s search through the streets of Europe, complete with exclusive bonus features that take you even deeper into her journey.” (Description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe devil’s double.
“Summoned from the frontline to Saddam Hussein’s palace, Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) is thrust into the highest echelons of the “royal family” when he’s ordered to become the ‘fiday’ – or body double – to Saddam’s son, the notorious “Black Prince” Uday Hussein (also Dominic Cooper), a reckless, sadistic party-boy with a rabid hunger for sex and brutality. With his and his family’s lives at stake, Latif must surrender his former self forever as he learns to walk, talk and act like Uday. But nothing could have prepared him for the horror of the Black Prince’s psychotic, drug-addled life of fast cars, easy women and impulsive violence. With one wrong move costing him his life, Latif forges an intimate bond with Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), Uday’s seductive mistress who’s haunted by her own secrets. But as war looms with Kuwait and Uday’s depraved gangster regime threatens to destroy them all, Latif realises that escape from the devil‘s den will only come at the highest possible cost. Featuring a riveting double performance by Dominic Cooper (An Education, Mamma Mia) in the roles of Latif Yahia and Uday Hussein, The Devil’s Double is a dynamic, chilling adaptation of Latif Yahia’s autobiographical novel, charting one man’s defiant struggle to survive a viper’s pit of corruption and brutality…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageCoriolanus.
“Fiennes’s bullet-headed, battle-scarred General Caius Martius may be willing to put his life on the line for his people, but he has no interest in actually listening to their concerns, a development that anticipates the Occupy movement. As Rome’s food supply dwindles and rioting begins, Martius suspends civil liberties, and heads off to battle against a man he both despises and admires, Volscian leader Aufidius (Gerald Butler). In the script by Gladiator’s John Logan, automatic weaponry replaces swords, contributing to an especially visceral Shakespearean adaptation (Hurt Locker cinematographer Barry Ackroyd’s handheld camera work reinforces the rough-hewn quality). At home, Martius’s wary wife (Jessica Chastain) and proud mother (Vanessa Redgrave) fear for his life, while his most ardent supporter, Senator Menenius (Brian Cox, excellent), defends him against his detractors, like Tribune Sicinius (James Nesbitt). Though successful on the battlefield, the political neophyte–now known as Coriolanus–soon finds himself an exile, eventually aligning with Aufidius, but what looks like a turncoat move proves more complicated…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageHysteria.
“What do women want? Well, science may debate that for years, but Hysteria provides a very entertaining answer in the form of a historical romp through early psychology. Based on the story of a young British doctor who essentially invented the first vibrator, Hysteria handles its offbeat subject matter lightly and amusingly. And its cast is splendid. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Felicity Jones play Victorian-era sisters, Charlotte and Emily, daughters of the prominent physician Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce). Into their lives comes an ambitious, thoughtful young doctor, Mortimer Granville (played by the dreamy Hugh Dancy). Dr. Granville’s life work has become focused on women’s issues, including the all-encompassing diagnosis “hysteria,” for which he is experimenting with therapeutic “pelvic massage” treatments. When he comes to Dr. Dalrymple for mentoring and approval of his rather unorthodox treatments, the doctor’s two daughters vie for his romantic affections. In lesser hands, this film could have been a Victorian-era 40-Year-Old Virgin or The (Sexual) Hangover, but director Tanya Wexler keeps the action crisp, light, and focused. Hysteria is a great date movie or a splendid escape for history, and hysteria, lovers…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageSmash. Season one.
“Emmy Awardr winner Debra Messing (Will & Grace), Academy Awardr winner Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor), Megan Hilty (Broadway’s Wicked) and American Idol’s Katharine McPhee star in the groundbreaking, critically acclaimed series Smash. Talented newcomer Karen Cartwright (McPhee) is up for the role of a lifetime in a new Broadway musical based on the iconic Marilyn Monroe. The only thing standing in her way is Ivy Lynn (Hilty), a seasoned theater veteran who is determined to land the part herself and will stop at nothing to realize her own dreams of fame. Also starring Tonyr Award winner Christian Borle (Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher) and Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean).” (Description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageHope springs.
“Kay and Arnold are a middle-aged couple who have been married for 30 years and now are sleeping in separate rooms and barely interact in any meaningful loving way. Finally, Kay has had enough and finds a book by Dr. Feld which inspires her to sign them up for the doctor’s intense week-long marriage counseling session. What follows is an insightful experience as Dr. Feld manages to help the couple understand how they have emotionally drifted apart and what they can do to reignite their passion.” (From syndetics summary)

Cover imageYoung Montalbano. Volume 1
“Before Detective Salvo Montalbano became the seasoned and mature chief detective we already know, he was just Salvo, new to Vigata and new to being a police chief. He didn’t always live in that glorious house by the sea, or have Deputy Chief Mimi Augello as a best friend, or Fazio as a loyal assistant. He didn’t always go out with the beautiful Genoese architect, Livia Burlando. Perhaps the only constants have been his unbridled quest for good food and the inability of his overly enthusiastic deputy, Catarella, to pronounce anyone s name correctly. In this prequel series to Detective Montalbano, watch the genesis of the friendships, the rivalries and the romance as the players arrive to take their places in the beautiful Sicilian town of Vigata. In the crucible of solving crimes together among the unforgettable people of Vigata, they become a team. Savor these stories that set the stage for the group s transformation from rookie cops to the experienced crime-solving ensemble we ve come to know and love…” (Adapted from Amazon.com description)

Cover imageFlipped.
“Even if you’re not a child of the early ’60s, Flipped’s tale will resonate with your heart. Director Rob Reiner treats viewers to a sweet but honest glimpse into the lives of a young girl and boy during the early 1960s as they maneuver through first crushes and heartbreak. Reiner once again shows he understands how to put together a compelling, yet simple, human story. We meet Juli Baker (Madeline Carroll) and Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe) on the day Bryce’s family moves across the street from Juli’s. Told by “flipping” between Juli and Bryce’s voices, a tale of early childhood love emerges. Juli loves Bryce’s baby blues from the first moment she sees them and she just knows he’s holding onto her first kiss. Bryce thinks Juli, who raises chickens and loves the neighborhood sycamore tree, is weird. The story doesn’t merely flip between the two stories, though. In 1963, the year eighth grade comes around, Juli begins to wonder if there’s any substance behind those baby blues… just as Bryce starts to see Juli’s eccentricities as endearing instead of embarrassing. Sweetly reminiscent without a saccharine aftertaste…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageUnforgettable. The complete first season.
“Poppy Montgomery is an NYPD detective with a flawless memory. Carrie Wells (Montgomery) has a medical condition known as hyperthymesia, which allows her to remember everything – except for what happened the day that her sister was murdered. Carrie’s ex-boyfriend, Detective Al Burns (Dylan Walsh), invites her to join him on the force, where he believes her gift will come in handy, but will it allow her to get to the bottom of what happened to her sister?’ (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageSeeking a friend for the end of the world.
“A sweet and subtle love story, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World begins when Dodge (Steve Carell) watches his wife run away from him because she’s just learned that an asteroid is going to destroy the Earth. Dodge finds himself unmoored in a world that’s lost its bearings in a much bigger way; some people surrender to hedonism, some cling to the mundane patterns of their lives, and others just kill themselves. Then Dodge is given one last chance at meaning in his life: a neighbor named Penny (Keira Knightley) reveals that she’s failed to give him some of his misdirected mail… including a letter from his cherished high school sweetheart, who reveals he was the love of her life. As civilization falls apart around them, Dodge and Penny set off on a road trip to reunite Penny with her family and Dodge with his lost love. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World could have been broad and goofy, but instead the movie takes the scenario seriously (without, mind you, losing its sense of humor). Dodge and Penny discover that their lives, disconnected from a possible future, aren’t what they were, and the result is both comic and surprisingly heartfelt…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageGirls. The complete first season.
“Lena Dunham mocks the idea of being a voice to a generation, but there’s no question she’s captured something ineffably of the moment in her sitcom Girls. Dunham writes and directs most episodes and stars as Hannah, a smart but self-flagellating writer floundering in the urban wilds of New York City. Both an homage and a counterpoint to Sex in the City, Girls has its own quartet: Hannah, who’s just been financially cut off by her parents; Marnie (Allison Williams), lovely but uptight, who’s bored by her too devoted boyfriend Charlie (Christopher Abbott); Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a transplant from England who keeps her true feelings hidden under a cool surface; and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), a hapless chatterbox who’s ashamed that she’s still a virgin. All of these girls, grappling with adult life, can be funny, irritating, embarrassing, and richly sympathetic–sometimes at the same time.
Girls doesn’t tackle themes per episode; instead, it’s a series of moments, vividly observed and often joltingly funny social interaction and sexual relationships (some graphically depicted, with all the freedom that cable television allows). Dunham doesn’t explain everything all at once, but gives only glimpses into the characters in each episode…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageCheerful weather for the wedding.
“On a crisp December morning in 1932, bride-to-be Dolly (Felicity Jones) hides in her bedroom as her many family members arrive for the wedding with all of the cheerfulness, chaos and grievances that go with such occasions. But trouble soon appears with the arrival of Joseph (Luke Treadaway), Dolly’s lover from the previous summer, who, to her mother’s (Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey) exasperation, throws Dolly’s feelings into turmoil. With lavish costumes and beautiful English countryside, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding is a joy from start to finish in the grand tradition of English period comedy-dramas, filled with light-hearted humour and steamy romance.” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

New books on TV and Movies

From HBO’s Game of Thrones to the legendary film stars. Enjoy a wide range of sellection.

Syndetics book coverInside HBO’s Game of thrones / Bryan Cogman ; preface by George R. R. Martin ; foreword by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss.“HBO’s Game of Thrones reigns as cable’s highest-rated series. This official companion book gives fans new ways to enter this fictional world and discover more about the beloved (and reviled) characters and the electrifying plotlines. Hundreds of set photos, production and costume designs, storyboards, and insider stories reveal how the show’s creators translated George R. R. Martin’s best-selling fantasy series into the world of Westeros. Featuring interviews with key actors and crew members that capture the best scripted and unscripted moments from the first two seasons, as well as a preface by George R. R. Martin, this special volume, bound in a lavishly debossed padded cover, offers exclusive access to this unprecedented television series.”(Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Doctor’s monsters : meanings of the monstrous in Doctor Who / Graham Sleight.
“Doctor Who has been on global television screens for nearly fifty years, and many of its most memorable protagonists have been its monsters, The Daleks, Cybermen, Slitheen, the Sonterans, Ood, Wiirrn, and others. Entertainingly and provocatively written, and introduced by Who scriptwriter Paul Cornell, The Doctor’s Monsters takes a new look at these and many other creatures, and asks what inspired them and what lies behind them.”(Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe science fiction universe– and beyond : Syfy Channel book of sci-fi / introduction by Thomas P Vitale ; text by Michael Mallory.“Travel where no man has gone before with this comprehensive journey through the universe of science fiction film and television! From the wildly imaginative European masterpieces of the silent era to compelling, character-based weekly television series like Twilight Zone, X-Files, and Battlestar Galactica, to the CGI-realized world of Avatar, science fiction film and television has pushed the boundaries of the visually and dramatically fantastic for more than a century. The Science Fiction Universe… and Beyond offers a breadth of knowledge, insight, and passion to the spellbinding and entertaining realm of close encounters, black holes, time travel, distant planets, impossible quests, alternate realities, futuristic technology, spaceships, extraordinary monsters, and incredibly imagined worlds” (adapted from Book Cover)

Syndetics book coverThe Top gear years / Jeremy Clarkson.
“We now know all about — the world according to Clarkson. In a series of bestselling books, Jeremy has revealed it to be a puzzling, frustrating place where all too often the lunatics seem to be running the asylum. But in The Top Gear Years, we get something rather different.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rough guide to 21st century cinema / by Adam Smith.
“Celebrate the centurys’ finest movies in The Rough Guide to 21st Century Cinema, a lavishly illustrated homage to the world’s best movies of this new era of cinema. The best 101 films: a run down of the finest films of the millenium from Hollywood blockbusters to indie gems. The hottest stars: features on the up and coming actors and actresses who have made a mark. The winning genres: best-in-class features on drama, comedy, horror, sci-fi, animation, documentary, superhero movies and all the genre-mash ups in between. The unsung heroes: the finest talent behind the camera, including directors, cinematographers, set designers and special effects specialists. The Rough Guide to 21st Century Cinema is the essential companion to movies of the moment.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverBritish crime film : subverting the social order / Barry Forshaw.“British Crime Film is a celebratory and comprehensive social history of this idiosyncratic genre. Barry Forshaw focuses on the strategies used to address more radical notions than those presented in mainstream product, exploring such themes as the treatment of sex and violence, corporate crime and the maverick criminal. Covering every major – and most minor – British crime films up to and including the twenty-first century, Forshaw contextualises the films within the crime fiction that inspired them. He explores new developments including British urban crime movies and the wave of new crime/horror hybrids such as Kill List, and predicts what the future holds for the genre.”(adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverAudrey : the 60s / David Wills and Stephen Schmidt.“Audrey Hepburn charmed cinema audiences in the 1950s as a new type of screen presence – gamine, doe-eyed and refreshingly casual. By the 1960s she had metamorphosed to become a trendsetting sophisticate, achieving unrivalled status as an actress, model, movie star and champion for underprivileged children worldwide. Curator and archivist David Wills has amassed one of the world’s largest private collections of original Audrey Hepburn photography. Now, in Audrey: The 60s, he has gathered a spectacular selection of work from her key photographers – much of it digitally restored from original negatives and transparencies – to create a truly breath-taking portfolio of images which pays homage to the most beloved and enduring style icon of the decade that changed everything.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverElizabeth Taylor / Susan Smith.
“Elizabeth Taylor was one of the major film stars of the twentieth century, embodying all the glamour and allure of Hollywood stardom. Yet her achievements as an actress have often been overshadowed by her beauty
and tumultuous life off-screen. To redress this imbalance, Susan Smith offers an illuminating study of Elizabeth Taylor’s work in film, exploring her fascinating trajectory from child to adult star. Smith reveals the influence that Taylor’s early work exerted over her later career and the ways in which her on-screen identity is profoundly rooted in her association with animals and nature.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

New DVDs for November

New DVDs for November include plenty of new TV shows, with the real-world Fantasy mash-up of ‘Once Upon A Time’; the new series from the creator of ‘Heroes’ featuring Keifer Sutherland; the first season of ‘Rizzoli & Isles’ based on the series of popular mysteries by Tess Gerritsen; surveillance themed crime-drama ‘Person of Interest’ from Jonathan Nolan, brother of Director Christopher Nolan; and the return of Kenneth Branagh as Henning Mankell’s ‘Wallander’. Also we bring the action with recent blockbusters ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ & ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’, and for the more literary minded we have the lavish adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’s bestseller ‘Birdsong’ and Kenneth Lonergan’s ensemble drama ‘Margaret’ with Anna Paquin in the lead role…

Cover imageBirdsong.
“Busy screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Hour, The Iron Lady) adapts Sebastian Faulks’s 1993 bestseller…Costume-drama veteran Eddie Redmayne (The Pillars of the Earth) plays Stephen Wraysford, a British textile man based in Amiens in 1910. While staying with Isabelle (Clémence Poésy, In Bruges) and her controlling husband, Stephen falls in love with his hostess, but her marriage and stepchildren stand in the way. The story continues to proceed along two tracks: Stephen’s time with Isabelle and her sympathetic sister, Jeanne (Marie-Josée Croze), and his time as an imperiled lieutenant in the trenches of World War I…as memories of Amiens spur him on. Flashbacks reveal that Isabelle eventually returned his affection, except the course of their relationship did not run smoothly. By the end, he’s lost most of the things he once desired, but an alternative path lies ahead. In this sense, Birdsong bears some comparison with Atonement and Downton Abbey, though the downbeat nature of the material won’t be to all tastes…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageMargaret.
“A film whose initial release was held up for five years, thanks to a series of legal wrangles, the eventual cinematic debut of Margaret was, perhaps inevitably, strangely muted. Margaret is an ensemble drama, the catalyst for which is a bus crash. The crash is witnessed by Anna Paquin’s Lisa, and it forces her to question whether it was really an accident. Things spiral from there, affecting more than just Lisa herself, and drawing the film’s large cast together. Margaret is an involving, intelligent and absorbing piece of cinema, that if anything feels a little bit short. Running to well over two hours, there’s nonetheless still a sense that one or two of the story fragments are missing. But still, there’s plenty here to feast on. Furthermore, there are interesting themes that Lonergan’s film isn’t shy about exploring, and there’s a good deal to dissect once the credits roll. Don’t be put off by the relatively low-key DVD release, then. Margaret is a gem, the kind of film that’ll be discovered for some time to come…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageWallander. 3.
“The British television series Wallander boasts eerily beautiful scenery, intricate plotting, and, above all, Branagh, who delivers a masterpiece of interior acting. The less he lets slip, the more fascinating the character somehow becomes. Based on Henning Mankell’s novels, the series follows the downbeat adventures of Kurt Wallander, a world-weary police detective who operates in the Swedish town of Ystad. An Event in Autumn, the first installment in this third collection, finds Wallander attempting to construct something like a normal life, moving in to a cottage in the country with his girlfriend and her son. Fate soon comes knocking, however, as a gruesome discovery in his garden leads to the uncovering of a murderous legacy. Based on the second novel in Mankell’s series, The Dogs of Riga finds the inspector traveling to Latvia, after a murder at sea entraps him in a deadly case of police corruption on unfamiliar ground…This collection finishes up in fine style with Before the Frost, an exploration of belief and religious mania that ranks among the top episodes in the entire series…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageTouch. The complete first season.
“At the story’s centre is Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland), a widower and single father, haunted by an inability to connect to his emotionally challenged 11-year-old son, Jake (David Mazouz). Caring, intelligent and thoughtful, Martin has tried everything to reach his son. But Jake never speaks, shows little emotion and never allows himself to be touched by anyone, including Martin. Jake is obsessed with numbers–writing long strings of them in his ever-present notebooks–and with discarded cell phones. Social worker Clea Hopkins (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) believes that Jake’s needs are too serious for Martin to handle…However, everything changes after Martin meets Arthur Teller (Danny Glover), a professor and an expert on children who possess special gifts when it comes to numbers. Martin learns that Jake possesses an extraordinary gift–the ability to perceive the seemingly hidden patterns that connect every life on the planet…As he puts the pieces together, he helps people across the world connect as their lives intersect according to the patterns Jake has foreseen…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

Cover imageRizzoli & Isles. The complete first season.
“Angie Harmon has never been better, as the tough Boston detective Jane Rizzoli. Her partner in crime (solving) is the equally impressive Sasha Alexander as Dr. Maura Isles, the by-the-books medical examiner who always has Rizzoli’s back, but is often appalled at the cop’s hard-charging tough-Boston-girl approach. Rizzoli & Isles is based on the series of popular mysteries by Tess Gerritsen, and adapted faithfully and engagingly for TV viewers. One thing that sets Rizzoli & Isles apart from the average police procedural is its crisp direction and subtle writing; even the most die-hard cop-show viewer will be engaged and surprised by the plots’ twists and turns…The key in any double-starring series is chemistry, and Harmon and Alexander have it in spades–their sparring and intellectual one-upmanship are completely believable. The cases in season one are varied, though focus mostly on serial killers, with one particularly gripping case flashing back to the notorious Boston Strangler case…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imagePerson of interest. The complete first season.
“Series creator Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher) lays out the premise at a furious clip: an eccentric tech genius (Lost’s Michael Emerson) enlists a shadowy soldier-of-fortune (Jim Caviezel) to help with his pet project–a machine with seemingly endless surveillance capabilities. Utilizing the device’s ability to identify threats before they happen, they set out to right future wrongs, attracting the attention of a dogged New York cop (Taraji P. Henson) in the process. Were Person of Interest content to remain at the level of weekly procedural, it would be a very good one, with every installment boasting well-choreographed fight scenes, Emerson’s impeccably weird comedy timing, and a thorny morality that keeps the methods of the protagonists edging into the black…Thankfully, however, Nolan and co. also show an ability to play the long game, cannily inserting flashbacks that hint at a bigger mystery, introducing a strangely empathetic recurring supervillain, and laying out minor plot elements that pay off big further down the line…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageFriends with kids.
“It’s a stroke of good fortune that Friends with Kids features a hefty portion of the same cast that made Bridesmaids such a hit. The stars of Friends with Kids are Jennifer Westfeldt (who also wrote and directed) and Adam Scott as Julie and Jason, BFFs who are strictly platonic but decide to have a child together out of mutual need, convenience, and familiarity. Their married friends have all brought kids into the world with mixed results, and they feel a little left out. Neither wants the burden of marriage and both profess to have no romantic inclination toward the other.. Concurrently with their parenting, each one is also playing the same old dating game that ranges from simple hookups to what looks like true love when Julie meets Kurt (Edward Burns) and Jason meets Mary Jane (Megan Fox). That’s when the emotions start getting complicated and both realize that they may not have thought through their child-rearing plan or their honest feelings for each other thoroughly enough…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe comeback. The complete first only season.
“How wickedly ironic–and delicious–that Lisa Kudrow’s single season of The Comeback provided the talented actress with enough meat for her to be nominated for an Emmy–after the show was canceled by HBO. Kudrow went for the Anti-Phoebe role after the demise of Friends, demonstrating her spectacular acting chops and range of comic abilities. The show centered on Kudrow’s playing an actress, once the ingénue of the moment, trying ever more desperately to get back into the limelight. The vehicle of choice: a reality “series” that follows Kudrow’s Valerie Cherish into scenarios with the deck more than stacked against her. Kudrow’s acid delivery and willingness to show Valerie’s raw pain, ambition, and obsequiousness make for engrossing and poignant, if squirm-inducing, viewing… The series, though short-lived demonstrates why Kudrow is one of our most talented actresses; here’s hoping for a succession of more Comebacks…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageSyndetics book coverThe amazing Spider-man.
“The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans), his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero…” (Description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageSnow White & the huntsman.
“Definitely not your average retelling of the classic Snow White fairy tale, Snow White and the Huntsman is a dark, action-fantasy film that’s based more on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale than the well-known Disney version of the story. It features intriguing concepts, impressive special effects, and some disappointingly lackluster acting. The essence of the “Snow White” story is preserved in this recounting: the queen’s beautiful daughter Snow White, who is heir to the throne, is displaced and persecuted by an evil stepmother after her mother dies. Here, the evil stepmother Ravenna possesses a disturbing power to maintain her own perpetual youth by stealing youthfulness from the hearts of the young and beautiful, but her magic mirror warns that Snow White’s innocence and purity as she comes of age will destroy Ravenna’s chance at immortality. When Snow White escapes from the castle prison, Ravenna hires a downtrodden Huntsman to bring her back so that Ravenna can steal her youth and achieve personal immortality…This film is full of fascinating imagery that’s brought to life through powerful special effects, great costuming, and captivating cinematography…” (From Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageAttack the block.
“Full of gory practical effects and fluent pop-cultural references, Attack the Block–an alien invasion scenario squeezed into a single apartment building–belongs to the same species of British genre comedy as Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Director Joe Cornish takes some clever routes around the limitations of his budget, filming on location in London’s Heygate Estate (itself a once utopian science-fiction experiment) and mining the freshness of his young cast’s authentic street slang. When the aliens arrive (they simply drop, during a frosty Bonfire Night, out of the shining pepper of the stars) ..the block’s defence is up to a group of teenage hoods, lead by the imposing Moses (John Boyega) and reluctantly helped by middle-class neighbour Sam (Jodie Whittaker). Armed with fireworks and mounted on muscle bikes, they launch an entertaining and Spielbergian resistance through the block’s labyrinth of corridors and walkways…More alien to each other than the beasts on their tail, the survival of these divided class members hangs on the recognition that they have a stake in each other…(From Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageOnce upon a time. The complete first season.
“Immerse yourself in the magic and mystery of Storybrooke – a sleepy little town where every fairytale character you’ve ever known is frozen in time and trapped between two worlds, victims of an evil curse. On her 28th birthday, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) meets Henry (Jared Gilmore), the son she gave up for adoption 10 years ago. Henry believes Emma is the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), prophesied to break a powerful curse. Unconvinced, Emma returns Henry to Storybrooke, where she encounters the enigmatic Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) and clashes with mayor Regina Mills (Lana Parrilla) – the boy’s adoptive mother – who Henry insists is none other than the Evil Queen!…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

New DVDs for October

Some new DVDs for October include the family friendly ‘Big Miracle’; ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ from the producers of ‘Bridesmaids’; ‘Dark Shadows’ with Johnny Depp; some spooky horror with ‘The Innkeepers’; and the chocolate themed French rom-com ‘Romantics Anonymous’…

Cover imageDark shadows.
“In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy… until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe five-year engagement.
“Planning a wedding is no easy task, and finding the perfect moment for the big occasion is nothing short of impossible, but Violet (Emily Blunt) and Tom (Jason Segel) have no idea of the challenges ahead of them when they decide to get married. This slapstick comedy plays like the art of awkward: Violet, Tom, their friends, and families all have huge propensities for saying and doing the absolutely worst, most awkward thing in any given situation. From a bungled marriage proposal to a multimedia presentation about Tom’s ex-girlfriends at the couple’s engagement party, and an inappropriate hookup between Violet’s sister Susie (Alison Brie) and Tom’s good friend Alex (Chris Pratt), the impending nuptials promise nothing but trouble for everyone but viewers in the mood to laugh. Rising chef Tom sacrifices a job he loves in San Francisco, along with the promise of swift promotion, to follow academic Violet to a teaching fellowship in Michigan. The only job Tom can find there is in a sandwich shop, and the move puts their wedding plans on hold… Eventually, the strain takes a huge toll on their relationships with one another, their friends, coworkers, and families. But one thing is certain, director Nicholas Stoller makes sure that their journey is just as funny as it is sad…(Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageMirror, mirror.
“In “Mirror Mirror” two 14-year-old girls discover they can see through identical mirrors 100 years apart and that they can travel to each other’s time. At first this is a source of wonder and delight but the two girls, Jo and Louisa, quickly discover they must solve an enormous problem. A canister of toxic gas threatens Jo’s friends. The girls must somehow find a way to alter the past so they can avoid a catastrophe in the present. While they struggle through the layers of space and time, Jo discovers the young Nicholas, Tsarevich of all the Russians, living in Louisa’s time. Captivated by each other, Nicholas and Jo work together to save their friends and to find a way of spanning time so they can remain together.”…(Syndetics summary)

Cover imageBig miracle.
“The oil business, politics, Inuit customs, and animal preservation normally don’t mix, especially when the press gets involved. But a funny thing happens when Alaska television reporter Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) discovers a trio of gray whales trapped in the ice near the small town of Point Barrow. Adam’s report gets national exposure, and his ex-girlfriend and Greenpeace worker Rachel (Drew Barrymore) hears the story, begins lobbying politicians to save the whales, and hops a plane for Alaska. The story reaches the local Inupiat people and millions of Americans, including oil tycoon J.W. McGraw (Ted Danson), presidential aide Kelly Meyers (Vinessa Shaw), Marine colonel Scott Boyer (Dermot Mulroney), and Los Angeles reporter Jill Jerard (Kristen Bell). Each gets involved in the fight for their own distinct reason…The group forms an unlikely alliance and pools their resources in an effort to save the three gray whales, but the experience leaves each of them unexpectedly changed…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe kid with a bike.
“The Dardennes create tension out of human drama and draw believable, excellent performances from their entire cast. Cyril, almost 12, has only one plan: to find the father who left him temporarily in a children s home. By chance he meets Samantha, who runs a hairdressing salon and agrees to let him stay with her at weekends. Cyril doesn t recognize the love Samantha feels for him, a love he desperately needs to calm his rage. This affecting and gripping drama is one of the finest films from the directors of ‘The Child’ , ‘Rosetta’ & ‘The Silence of Lorna’…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe source.
“In a remote and primitive patriarchal village between the North of Africa and the Middle East, the land has dried and the women traditionally bring water from a distant fountain to their houses while the idle husbands drink tea in the bar. The educated Leïla, who is the wife of the local teacher Sami, begins a sex strike movement among the women, supported by the elder Vieux Fusil (meaning old flintlock), to force the men to bring water to the village. Overcoming the wrath of the village elders and an unexpected visit from an old flame, Leila brings the colourful local traditions face-to-face with the modern world. Fun, lively and unforgettable, this is an entertaining journey through the African mountains to the heart of one vibrant community…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe innkeepers.
“At a time when the horror genre seems to consist solely of cheap jump scares and MacGyverish torture contraptions, writer-director-editor Ti West’s The House of the Devil proved a pleasant anomaly: a slow-building ’70s throwback which understood that the process of getting spooked is at least half the fun. The Innkeepers, West’s follow-up, winningly continues the retro streak, doling out the murk and gloom by steadily escalating degrees, anchored by Sara Paxton’s wonderfully appealing mope of a lead performance. Kicking off with a knowingly chintzy Internet gag, the story follows a pair of bored clerks (Paxton and Pat Healy) working at a rickety Victorian inn during its last few days of business. Taking advantage of the lack of guests, the not-so-dynamic duo begin investigating the building’s reputation for housing things that go bump in the night. After a boozy psychic (Kelly McGillis) checks in, however, the once-quaint creaks and moans become terrifyingly tangible…(Adapted from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe Raven.
“Baltimore 1849. While investigating a horrific double murder, police detective Emmett Fields makes a startling discovery: the killer’s methods mirror the twisted writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Suspecting Poe at first, Fields ultimately enlists his help to stop future attacks. But in this deadly game of cat and mouse, the stakes are raised with each gruesome slaying as the pair races to catch a madman before he brings every one of Poe’s shocking stories to chilling life, and death.” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imagePrometheus.
“Yes, folks, Prometheus is a prequel, in a sideways sort of fashion, to Scott’s 1979 Alien original–or at least it’s a long-distant stage setter for that story. This one begins with a space mission that could reveal the extraterrestrial roots of Earth, although what’s buried out on the planet turns out to be much more complicated than expected. In the midst of suspenseful episodes (and a few contrived plot turns), Prometheus reaches for Big Answers to Big Questions, in a grand old sci-fi tradition. This lends the movie a hint of metaphysical energy, even if Scott’s reach extends well, well beyond his grasp. The hokier moments are carried off with brio by Michael Fassbender (the robot on board), Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba, and then you’ve got Noomi Rapace entering the badass hall of fame for a long, oh-no-they-didn’t sequence involving radical surgery, which might just induce the vapours in a few viewers. Even if Prometheus has its holes, the sheer size of the thing is exciting to be around. Because this movie is gigantic…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageRock of ages.
“Anyone with great affection for ’80s big-hair bands (Journey, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, and the rest) will be doing a lot of head-bopping to Rock of Ages, the film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. Director Adam Shankman (Hairspray) has assembled a winning cast to tell the story of an aging rock legend, Stacee Jaxx (played with deadpan aplomb by Tom Cruise), against the I-wanna-be-a-star yearnings of a newbie, Sherrie (Julianne Hough). There’s not much of a plot, but the music is really the star, as well as the great supporting roles played by Catherine Zeta-Jones (Patricia, a belter with style), Paul Giamatti (Paul, a jaundiced rock promoter apparently intent on quashing everyone’s dreams), Mary J. Blige (Justice, the owner of a strip club), and Alec Baldwin, whose Dennis is a rawk-on club owner and head-banger from way back. Everyone in the cast looks like they’re having a blast, and that feeling is contagious, especially if you love the music. Some parts of Rock of Ages don’t seem to know if they are supposed to be played in earnest or ironically, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. And Cruise, though his part is small, seems to be channeling late-era Axl Rose in a performance that’s a little unnerving, yet hilarious. Rock of Ages appeals to the rocker in us all. Don’t stop believin’…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover image Vera. Series one.
“Few would suggest that television is crying out for a new detective to solve the crimes of Britain, and thus the original announcement of Vera hardly set tongues wagging. But this is a show that has a special weapon in its midst, namely Brenda Blethyn. Blethyn is a terrific actress, and here, in the title role, she gets to play an obsessive murder detective. Vera is based on the novels of Ann Cleeves, and in truth, the stories themselves are hardly radical additions to the genre. But they are intriguing ones, and the cases in this maiden series are significantly lifted by Blethyn’s investment in the title character. Vera, inevitably, doesn’t have life very easy. And working in tandem with Sergeant Joe Ashworth, she battles not only the crime in front of her, but the challenges in her own life. Boasting good quality production values, a strong cast, and cases that hold the attention, Vera is a fine piece of television drama. But the main reason to watch it? That’d be its exceptional leading lady. Just watching Blethyn take on such a meaty role is worth the time and financial investment in itself…’ (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageRomantics anonymous.
“Jean-Rene is the boss of a chocolate factory and Angelique is a talented chocolate maker. They are both emotionally challenged people. Drawn together through a shared passion for chocolate, Jean-Rene and Angelique fall in love, but neither is able to express how they feel. Sadly, their crippling shyness is driving them apart. But eventually, they manage to overcome their lack of self-confidence, and risk baring their true feelings.” (Syndetics Summary)

New DVDs for September

Some new DVDs to hit our shelves include the latest season of the Private Eye send-up ‘Bored To Death’; the latest Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation; Daniel Radcliffe’s first post-Potter role; Lasse Hallström’s adaptation of Paul Torday’s novel, ‘Salmon Fishing in Yemen’; Joss Whedon’s Marvel super-hero epic; and the much touted Emmy winning ‘Homeland’…

Cover imageHomeland. The complete first season.
“Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA Agent battling her own demons becomes convinced that the intelligence that led to the rescue of Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a US soldier who had been missing and presumed dead for eight years was a set-up, and may be connected to an al-Qaeda plot to be carried out on American soil. Already on thin ice with the CIA, and now assigned to a desk job after an incident in Iraq, Carrie is forced to break protocol in order to prove her theory that Brody was “turned” during his many years in captivity and is now working for al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, Brody receives a hero’s welcome at home, and attempts to reconnect with his family whom he hasn’t seen in eight years…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageBored to death. The complete second season.
“Bored to Death fuses the anxieties of literary life with a pastiche of detective stories in eight tidy episodes. Floundering writer Jonathan Ames (played by Jason Schwartzman and named after series creator and main writer Jonathan Ames) now not only has his sideline as an unlicensed private detective, but also starts teaching a creative writing class (and starts flirting with one of his students). His best friend, frustrated cartoonist Ray (Zach Galifianakis), has a burst of self-esteem when his self-published comic book (about a well-endowed superhero named after himself) grows bizarrely popular, leading him to think he might be able to get back together with his ex (Heather Burns, Miss Congeniality). But this season really takes off when Jonathan’s mentor, magazine editor George (Ted Danson), gets diagnosed with prostate cancer. Somehow, this heavy topic gives the show just the hint of gravity it needs to maintain its balance, and gives Danson the opportunity to take his marvelous portrait of pot-smoking self-absorption in new and delightful directions..” (From Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe Fades. Series one.
“A teenage boy named Paul is haunted by apocalyptic dreams that nobody can explain. As if that weren’t terrifying enough, he begins to see spirits of the dead, known as The Fades, all around him. The Fades can’t be seen, smelt, heard or touched by other humans. When an embittered and vengeful Fade, Polus, finds a way to be human again, it’s up to Paul to stop him – and all of the dead – from breaking back into the world and destroying the human race…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSalmon fishing in The Yemen.
“Lasse Hallström’s breezy adaptation of Paul Torday’s satiric novel, Salmon Fishing in Yemen, features dedicated anglers and arid Middle Eastern vistas, but it’s a screwball comedy at heart (with Morocco standing in for Yemen). Bridget (Kristin Scott Thomas), the prime minister’s steamroller of a press secretary, sets the story in motion when she reads about a fabulously wealthy sheik (Amr Waked) who longs to bring fly-fishing to the desert. She believes that cooperation with his country would be good for Britain’s image, while the sheik has more altruistic goals in mind. This leads her to mild-mannered fisheries expert Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor, effectively cast against type), who feels certain the endeavor is pure fantasy until hyper-efficient Harriet (Emily Blunt), the sheik’s land agent, brings him some surprising data about the region. Though Fred’s marriage has been running on fumes, Harriet has been seeing a soldier stationed in Afghanistan. Initially, the two are all business as they devise a plan involving a system of dams, but their feelings for each other gradually rise to the surface…” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Cover imageEpisodes. [Season 1].
“Matt LeBlanc plays a deliciously outrageous version of himself in this laugh-out-loud comedy from creators David Crane (Friends) and Jeffrey Klarik (Mad About You). Episodes offers a peek behind the curtain at the insanity of Hollywood. You’ll never watch TV the same way again. Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Grieg) are a happily married English couple, who are also the successful creators of a hit British TV show. Their life seems complete. That is until a hugely powerful and charismatic US network president persuades them to move to LA to remake their show for American television. He’s full of praise and promises “not to change a thing”. However, things begin to unravel as soon as Sean and Beverly arrive in LA. They discover that the network president has never even seen their show. To make matters worse, he insists that they replace their brilliant lead actor (Richard Griffiths), an erudite Royal Shakespeare veteran with… Matt LeBlanc! Sean and Beverly are appalled. But the decision is out of their hands. Matt comes on board, and soon Sean and Beverly find themselves in a complicated triangle which threatens to destroy not just their TV show but also their marriage.” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe best exotic Marigold Hotel.
“Some of the finest actors in England lend their formidable talents to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a charming fish-out-of-water yarn. The Brits, who include Evelyn (Judi Dench), Muriel (Maggie Smith), Douglas (Bill Nighy), and Graham (Tom Wilkinson), are planning retirement in a less expensive country. After “thorough research on the Internet,” the group chooses what looks to be a grand, peaceful retreat, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It turns out that the bloom is off this marigold–it’s shabby, antiquated, and as chaotic as the city in India, Jaipur, where it is set. Who can adapt to this very different retirement experience, and who founders? That question lies at the heart of the plot of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The cast is uniformly superb, as the retirees bond and bicker and fall out and then try to encourage one another. And Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) shines as Sonny, the barely-holding-it-together Marigold Hotel manager…At its heart, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, deftly directed by John Madden, is an uplifting journey, allowing the viewer to feel what the retirees are discovering on the screen…” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe lucky one.
“U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive – a photograph he found of a woman he doesn’t even know. Learning her name is Beth and where she lives, he shows up at her door, and ends up taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Despite her initial mistrust and the complications in her life, a romance develops between them, giving Logan hope that Beth could be much more than his good luck charm…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe woman in black.
“Fans of classically structured haunted house/ghost stories will relish the skillfully unnerving chain of events in The Woman in Black, whether or not they’re fans of Harry Potter. The good new is that Daniel Radcliffe leaves Harry behind for good in his first post-Potter role. Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor tasked with resolving the affairs of a recently deceased woman and her brooding estate in the gloom of the remote Victorian England-era village of Crythin Gifford. The mood is melancholic all around, starting with Kipps himself, who lost his wife to childbirth a few years earlier. His employer has had just about enough of his moping about and gives him the assignment as a last resort to save his job. When he arrives in the small village, the icy response he receives does not bode well for successful completion of his mission. All the townspeople want him gone, and possibly for good reason. Many of their children have died mysteriously gruesome deaths that they blame on the titular black-clad woman whose own child was tragically sucked to his death in the muck surrounding her seaside mansion. This new stranger who wants to unearth the deadly secrets trapped in the decrepit old house is a threat they cannot abide, and sure enough the deaths keep on coming as he delves deeper into the dark recesses of the house and the history of its ghostly occupant…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe duel.
“In Anton Chekhov’s The Duel, escalating animosity between two men with opposing philosophies of life is played out against the backdrop of a decaying seaside resort along the Black Sea coast. Laevsky is a dissaipated romantic given to gambling and flirtation. He has run off to the sea with the beautiful, emotionally empty, Nadya, another man’s wife. Laevsky has now grown tired of her, but two obstacles block his route to escape: he is broke, and he faces the absolute enmity of Von Koren, an arrogant zoologist and former friend who can no longer tolerate Laevsky’s irresponsibility. Soon Laevsky confronts Von Koren, accusing him of meddling in his affairs, but Von Koren maneuvers a criticism Lavesky makes of their mutual friend. Dr. Samoylenko, into a challenge to a duel. Utterly discombobulated and honor bound, Lavesky agrees to this absurdity-a duel it shall be! A duel as comically inadvertent as it is inevitable…” (Description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageA dangerous method.
“With a lucid analyst’s eye, director David Cronenberg turns his steady gaze toward a trio of brilliant people in the early, and somehow defining, years of the 20th century. In Zurich, a young psychoanalyst named Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) takes on an intellectually gifted but deeply neurotic young woman, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), as a patient. Through the course of a lengthy analysis, their relationship takes a turn for intimacy, despite professional policy against such encounters. Meanwhile, Jung is entwined in another important relationship, with psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), whose enthusiasm about Jung being the golden boy of the science will eventually dim. What’s bracing in Cronenberg’s keen reading of this situation, based on Christopher Hampton’s script, is that no aspect of this situation is more important than any other; the sexual tumbling between Jung and Spielrein might provide a few hotsy moments, but the careful lines traced between Freud’s pragmatic wisdom and Jung’s idealistic ventures into the mystic are equally significant…” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe avengers.
“Blasphemy? Perhaps. But the best thing about what may be the most rousing and well-crafted superhero movie since The Dark Knight is not the boffo action scenes that culminate in a New York City-destroying finale that rivals Michael Bay’s obliteration of the Chicago skyline in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. No, the real appeal of The Avengers comes from the quiet moments among a group of decidedly unquiet humans, extra-humans, mutants, and demigods. In no particular order those are Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), S.H.I.E.L.D. world-government commander Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and indispensable functionary Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). That’s a superstar lineup both in and out of character, and The Avengers brilliantly integrates the cast of ensemble egos into a story that snaps and crackles–not to mention smashes, trashes, and destroys–at breakneck pace, never sacrificing visual dazzle or hard-earned story dynamics…Yet it’s the deeply personal conversations and confrontations among the very reluctant team of Avengers that makes the movie pop. Full of humor, snappy dialogue, and little asides that include inside jokes, eye rolls, and personal grudge matches, the script makes these superhumans real beings with sincere passion or feelings of disillusionment…That spirit of fun and pure adventure makes The Avengers the greatest kind of escapist Hollywood fantasy $250 million can buy. A blockbuster in the most literal sense…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageSam Hunt: purple balloon and other stories : a film about Sam Hunt.
For forty years Sam Hunt has been a force in New Zealand poetry and culture. He is a storyteller who has spent his life struggling with his, often very public, demons. In that journey he has gone from outcast to icon, he has crossed paths with outlaws, Prime Ministers, literary and artistic giants and the public. This doucmentary explores how Sam reflects the New Zealand landscape – literary and physical. The film examines what has made him a great poet and an enigma. Sam is undoubtedly our best known poet, by far the best exponent of performance poetry and one of the most recognisable Kiwis alive today. In the words of the later Peter Smart: “Sam Hunt is important to us because he is that extraordinary, rare person – someone who is prepared to illustrate with his life the value of poetry and the making of poems…” (Syndetics Summary)

Cover imageMIB3: Men in black 3.
“In Men in Black 3, Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back… in time. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K’s life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that K never told him — secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency, and the future of humankind…” (Description from Amazon.com)

All About Great Movies

Have an insight into great movies such as Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ and Orson Welles’ ‘Citizen Kane’ which have recently been voted as the top and second respectively in the ‘Sight & Sound’ magazine’s Greatest Films all time poll.

Syndetics book coverVertigo / Charles Barr.
“Vertigo (1958) is widely regarded as not only one of Hitchcock’s best films, but one of the greatest films of world cinema. Made at the time when the old studio system was breaking up, it functions both as an embodiment of the supremely seductive visual pleasures that ‘classical Hollywood’ could offer and – with the help of an elaborate plot twist – as a laying bare of their dangerous dark side. Although it can be seen as Hitchcock’s most personal film, Charles Barr argues that, like Citizen Kane, Vertigo is at the same time a triumph not so much of individual authorship as of creative collaboration. He highlights the crucial role of screenwriters Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor and, by a combination of textual and contextual analysis, explores the reasons why Vertigo continues to inspire such fascination.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverCitizen Kane / Laura Mulvey.
“Mulvey provides an accessible account of previous scholarship on the 1941 Orson Welles classic, as well as a psychoanalytic reading of the film that sees Kane as “suspended between a pre-Oedipal love for his mother and rivalry with his father and the post-Oedipal world in which he should take his place.” She explores Welles’s anti-fascist politics in terms of the film’s implicit critique of conservative media magnate William Randolph Hearst. The book concludes with a scene-by-scene analysis of the film’s narrative and dramatic structure.” (adapted from CHOICE summary)

Syndetics book coverMetropolis / Thomas Elsaesser.
“Metropolis is a monumental work. On its release in 1925, after sixteen months’ filming, it was Germany’s most expensive feature film, a canvas for director Fritz Lang’s increasingly extravagant ambitions. Lang, inspired by the skyline of New York, created a whole new vision of cities. One of the greatest works of science fiction, the film also tells human stories about love and family. Thomas Elsaesser explores the cultural phenomenon of Metropolis: its different versions (there is no definitive one), its changing meanings, and its role as a database of twentieth-century imagery and ideologies.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverSingin’ in the rain / Peter Wollen.
“Wollen situates Arthur Freed’s Singin’ in the Rain (1952) within a history of American dance, the evolution of the Freed unit at MGM, and post-WW II investigations by the House of Representatives Un-American Activities Committee (”a plot to blacklist Kathy Selden launched by an informer”). His analysis of the title number makes astute observations about the use of sound and Kelly’s ecstatic descent into the pleasures of infantilism as he splashes about in puddles.” (adapted from CHOICE summary)

Syndetics book coverSnow White and the seven dwarfs / Eric Smoodin.
“In 1937, when Walt Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the film became an immediate, international sensation. Years earlier, when Disney decided to produce Snow White, his first animated feature-length film, even he couldn’t have imagined the hundreds of artists required, the cost involved, or the necessary technological innovations. But all of this effort resulted in a film experience like no other. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs now stands as one of the most important of all Hollywood films, and its influence on movies. Based on extensive research in materials from the period of the film’s production and distribution, Eric Smoodin’s study presents a careful history of the events that led up to Snow White, the trajectory of Disney’s career that made this extraordinary project a logical next step, the reception of the film in the US and around the world, and its impact on so many aspects of contemporary culture.(adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverDon’t look now / Mark Sanderson.
“Don’t Look Now, released in 1973, confirmed director Nicolas Roeg as one of the most stylish and innovative British directors of the postwar period. Adapted from a short story by Daphne du Maurier, it is both a complex study of how people come to terms with grief and a chilling tale of murder set among the canals and churches of Venice. Featuring telling performances by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland as the couple whose daughter has tragically died, Don’t Look Now depicts the way in which the macabre and the everyday are intertwined. The book includes an exclusive and in-depth interview with Roeg as well as rare and unpublished comments from Christie.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk. summary)

Syndetics book coverThe science of Avatar / Stephen Baxter.
“James Cameron’s Avatar is the biggest movie of all time. Now the movie’s legendary director has leant his support to an exploration of the world of Pandora with bestselling science-fiction author Stephen Baxter. From journeys into deep space to anti-gravity unobtanium, from Pandora’s extraordinary flora and fauna to transferring consciousness, Baxter and Cameron reveal that we are often closer to world of Avatar than we might imagine. Stephen Baxter is the master of `what-if?’ science fiction. In THE SCIENCE OF AVATAR he’s written a book that will appeal to fans of both science-fiction and popular science. THE SCIENCE OF AVATAR will offer fans the unique opportunity to explore the spectacular world of Pandora, from the creator himself.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

We need to talk about our new DVDs

New DVDs at Wellington City Libraries in August include the adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s bestselling novel ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’; the Royal Shakespeare Company’s version of ‘Hamlet’ featuring David Tennant; the Ken Follett mini-series ‘The pillars of the Earth’; a new documentary on Woody Allen; and the acclaimed HBO series ‘In Treatment’ with Gabriel Byrne…

Cover imageWe need to talk about Kevin.
“A suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller, Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin explores the fractious relationship between a mother and her evil son. Tilda Swinton, in a bracing, tour-de-force performance, plays the mother, Eva, as she contends for 15 years with the increasing malevolence of her first-born child, Kevin (Ezra Miller). Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, We Need To Talk About Kevin explores nature vs. nurture on a whole new level as Eva’s own culpability is measured against Kevin’s innate evilness. Ramsay’s masterful storytelling simultaneously combines a provocative moral ambiguity with a satisfying and compelling narrative, which builds to a chilling, unforgettable climax.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageHamlet.
“It’s to director Gregory Doran’s incredible credit that his staging of that most familiar of English-language plays, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, should be completely reinvigorated by a modern interpretation of the tragedy as a true psychological thriller. This Hamlet, filmed in 2009, presents the inner torment of the Danish prince Hamlet as a believable, relatable controlled explosion of emotions, each more unmanageable than the last. Besides the director, the casting is also brilliant, including the Scottish actor David Tennant (Doctor Who) as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as Hamlet’s uncle Claudius and the ghost of Hamlet’s father–who, Hamlet becomes convinced, was killed by Claudius. The direction is brisk, and the acting is first rate. Tennant plays a heartbreaking Hamlet, whose paranoia and weird inner reflections are given a modern spin by the lush, shiny mirrorlike surfaces in the palace, as well as by small but excellent details, like a closed-circuit camera system. And Stewart is menacing but completely collected as Claudius, and unnerving as his brother’s ghost…The impact is unforgettable; this Hamlet is a terrific achievement.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageLike crazy.
“Like Crazy beautifully illustrates how your first real love is as thrilling and blissful as it is fragile. When a British college student falls for her American classmate, they embark on a passionate and life-changing journey–only to be separated by circumstances beyond their control. … Like Crazy explores how a couple faces the real challenges of being together and of being apart.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe pillars of the Earth.
“Ken Follett’s massive page-turner offers all the scheming and plotting of royal potboilers like Elizabeth and Showtime’s The Tudors. The story takes place in the 12th century, when King Henry I loses his son at sea. After Henry’s death, his nephew, Stephen (Tony Curran), assumes the throne, against the wishes of the Earl of Bartholomew (Donald Sutherland, star of Follett’s Eye of the Needle) and Henry’s daughter, Maud (Alison Pill, convincing as a Brit), which pits them against Bishop Waleran (Deadwood’s Ian McShane) and Lady Hamleigh (Sarah Parish) and her bloodthirsty son, William (David Oakes). Tom (Rufus Sewell), a mason, and his apprentice, Jack (Savage Grace’s Eddie Redmayne), enter the fray when they offer to construct a cathedral for Prior Philip (Matthew Macfadyen). In the decades to come, Philip and the earl’s children, Aliena (Hayley Atwell) and Richard (Sam Claflin), battle the bishop and the Hamleighs to complete Kingsbridge Cathedral and restore their family name. As fortunes rise and fall, there’s rape, incest, and executions, resulting in nudity, profanity, and splashes of blood… but the multi-character story line is involving, and the principal cast, particularly Sewell, is up to the task.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)

MyLibDVDs7Weekend.
“This sensual, remarkably observed, beautifully acted wonder is the breakout feature from British writer-director-editor Andrew Haigh (Greek Pete). Rarely has a film been as honest about sexuality—in both depiction and discussion—as this tale of a one-night-stand that develops into a weekend-long idyll for two very different young men (exciting newcomers Tom Cullen and Chris New) in Midlands England. It’s an emotionally naked film that’s both an invaluable snapshot of the complexities of contemporary gay living and a universally identifiable portrait of a love affair.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageIn treatment. The complete first season.
“Adapted from a popular and award-winning Israeli series…each episode eavesdrops on a weekly therapist-patient session. “The magic happens”—as one observer sarcastically remarks—in the home office of Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne in his Golden Globe Award-winning role). Monday’s patient is Laura (Melissa George), a doctor who reveals in a harrowing “about last night” monologue in the first episode that she is in love with Paul (”You’ve become the center of my life”). Tuesdays bring Alex (Blair Underwood), a cocky fighter pilot whose last mission over Iraq went horrifyingly awry, earning him the media tag, “The Madrassa Murderer.” Wednesday’s child, Sophie (Mia Wasikowska in a breakout performance) is a teenage Olympic hopeful in need of an evaluation following a near-fatal bicycle “accident.” On Thursdays, Paul meets with Amy (Embeth Davidtz) and Jake (Josh Charles), whose rocky marriage is further shaken as they wrestle over whether or not she should get an abortion. Fearing he is “losing patience with my patients,” Paul turns to his former mentor, Gina (Dianne Wiest in an Emmy-winning performance), with whom he had a falling out years before, to talk out his own troubles. The therapist whose own personal life is unraveling could have either been bad sitcom or static and stagey talking heads. But with its insightful writing, powerful performances, and deft, unobtrusive direction, In Treatment avoids the pitfalls to become an intensely gripping drama.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageExtremely loud & incredibly close.
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close touches the viewer to the very core. In the way that Titanic and The Sweet Hereafter depicted tragedy by pulling back at the pivotal moment, only increasing the heartache portrayed, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close shows the massive losses experienced in New York on September 11, 2001, through the lens of one young boy. Thomas Horn plays Oskar, a boy devoted to his dad (played by Tom Hanks, in flashbacks), who is lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The devastation of that day shudders through Oskar’s family, including his mother, Linda (Sandra Bullock, in a subdued and affecting turn). Young Oskar is lost in the broken new world, but suddenly finds a purpose: a key left by his father. As Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close progresses, Oskar focuses on the key as a way to connect to his lost father–but finds, instead, connections in the unlikeliest of places…Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s best-selling novel, which was able to depict a bit more wry humor to leaven the heartbreak and history lessons, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close nonetheless faces human tragedy straight on, and shows how a broken family can be rebuilt, one small key, one subway ride, one awkward hug at a time.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageFootnote.
“Though it’s packed with subtextual meaning on any number of levels, the title of this Israeli import and 2011 foreign language Oscar nominee is also a reference to the only claim to fame of Eliezer Shkolnik (Shlomo Bar Aba). The cranky, crotchety, and exceptionally old-fashioned professor of Talmudic studies at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University has all but perished after not having published despite his relentless examination of obscure texts as a fanatical philologist… Yet he clings to his old-school approach to intellectual investigation with greater gusto as his final years tick by. His rival in scholarly pursuit is his son Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi), an equally serious man who also teaches at the university, but whose flashy, more populous approach to Talmudic study has earned him wide acclaim….When a mix-up occurs over which Shkolnik is to be awarded a prestigious academic prize, father and son exchange more cerebral bites, provoking barks of laughter from the audience as the mistake complicates itself so unpredictably. Writer-director Joseph Cedar navigates the sea of intellectual and family discord with a genuinely droll touch that’s as smart and stinging as it is funny…Footnote is a satire of intellect and domestic friction that cuts deep with dramatic tension and the insight of its often magical realist sense of high farce.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe decoy bride.
“David Tennant, Kelly MacDonald and Alice Eve star in this romantic comedy set in rural Scotland. When Katie (MacDonald) is jilted at the altar, she returns broken-hearted to her remote Scottish island home. But little does she know that Hollwood superstar Lara Tyler (Eve) has chosen the island as the secret venue for her wedding to her fiance James (Tennant). When the paparazzi gets wind of the location, Lara runs away in exasperation. Her management team decides to stage a fake wedding, hoping the paparazzi will fall for the deception and leave the island, and Katie is asked to don a white dress and walk down the aisle as a ‘decoy’ for the absent Lara. However, the path of true love is further complicated when attraction begins to grow between James and his decoy bride.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageThe big year.
“Never get between a birder and a Pink-footed Goose. As we learn from The Big Year, the intensity of birders (the term birdwatcher is dismissed here as insufficiently committed) is not to be taken lightly, and their quest of rare species creates the gentle comedy of this film, which is based on a real phenomenon. In the world of birders, there’s a goal set each calendar year, and based on the honor system: who can spot the most varieties of our feathered friends? All-time champ Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is a legendary name in the birding game, and this year he’s trying to beat his own record–but retired CEO Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) and slovenly upstart Brad Harris (Jack Black) are determined to topple the colorful and ruthless Bostick from his, er, perch. The movie’s at its best when charting the movements of these obsessed enthusiasts in the wild, as they scramble from Alaska to Arizona to New Jersey in pursuit of their goal; it’s less successful at trying to create human interest in the home lives of these guys.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageWoody Allen: a documentary.
“Beginning with Allen s childhood, ‘Woody Allen; A Documentary’ chronicles the trajectory and longevity of Allen s career, from his work as a TV scribe, standup comedian and frequent TV talk show guest, to a writer-director averaging one film-per-year for more than 40 years. Director Weide covers Allen s earliest film work in Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Sleeper, and Love and Death; frequent Oscar® favorites such as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Purple Rose of Cairo, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands & Wives, Bullets Over Broadway, and Mighty Aphrodite; and his recent globetrotting phase with Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and the recent success Midnight in Paris. Features interviews with: actors Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Penelope Cruz, John Cusack, Larry David, Mariel Hemingway, Scarlett Johansson, Julie Kavner, Diane Keaton, Martin Landau, Louise Lasser, Sean Penn, Tony Roberts, Chris Rock, Mira Sorvino, Naomi Watts, Dianne Wiest and Owen Wilson.” – (adapted from
Amazon.com summary)

New Books on Movies

We’ve got you covered for post-film festival reading with these examinations of cinema. Slasher flicks, Italian neorealism, David Lynch, the evolution of film, and gain a deeper understanding of “the Dude.”

Syndetics book coverThe complete filmmaker’s guide to film festivals : your all access pass to launching your film on the festival circuit / Rona Edwards & Monika Skerbelis.
“The first step-by-step “How To” guide to film festivals, offering filmmakers a bird’s eye view of what it takes to have a successful festival experience. Practical, hands-on information with examples and exercises to help the filmmaker include:Targeting the right festivals; Creating a press kit; Promoting and branding your film; Promoting and branding yourself; Filling out entry forms; Creating a logline; And much more.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book cover100 ideas that changed film / David Parkinson.
“This inspiring book chronicles the most influential ideas that have shaped film since its inception. Entertaining and intelligent, it is both a concise history and a fascinating resource. Each idea is presented through informed text and arresting visuals paying homage to the medium’s great classics. We learn why and how the ideas first evolved and what their impact has been up to the present day.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverConversations at the American Film Institute with the great moviemakers : the next generation / [edited and with an introduction by] George Stevens, Jr.
“Collects American Film Institute conversations with filmmakers from the 1950s to today, including Steven Spielberg, Nora Ephron, and George Lucas.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA complete guide to special effects makeup / [by Tokyo SFX Makeup Workshop ; editor, Yuko Sasaki].
“Acclaimed as the best book ever published on the subject, A Complete Guide to Special Effects Makeup covers everything from basic facial makeup styles, simple scars and gashes, to masks, molds and cast-making; everything you need to know to create vampires, zombies and other fantastical characters. With clear step by step instructions and hundreds of color photos, it includes stunning conceptual pieces from many of the contributing artists and a section on manga/cosplay hair and makeup. Bound to thrill anyone interested in creating realistic and unique makeup effects!” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverThe slasher movie book / J.A. Kerswell.
“The slasher movie is the most reviled but successful of horror’s subgenres. Taking its cue from Hitchcock, grind-house movies, and the gory Italian giallo thrillers of the 1970s, slasher movies brought a new high in cinematic violence and suspense to mainstream cinema. The Slasher Movie Book details the subgenre’s surprising beginnings, revels in its g(l)ory days, and discusses its recent resurgence. Packed with reviews of the best (and worst) slasher movies and illustrated with an extensive collection of distinctive and often graphic color poster artwork from around the world.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverHorror cinema / Jonathan Penner, Steven Jay Schneider, Paul Duncan (ed.).
“Horror is both the most perennially popular and geographically diverse of all film genres; arguably, every country that makes movies makes horror movies of one kind or another. Depicting deep-rooted, even archetypal fears, while at the same time exploiting socially and culturally specific anxieties, cinematic horror is at once timeless and utterly of its time and place. This exciting visual history, which includes unique images from the David Del Valle archive, examines the genre in thematic, historical, and aesthetic terms.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverAndré Bazin and Italian neorealism / edited by Bert Cardullo.
“Complementing an earlier work (Andre Bazin and Italian Cinema, this volume presents a collection of Bazin’s writings on neorealism in English for the first time. Editor Cardullo (Izmir U. of Economics, Turkey) provides introductory and contextual essays and writes: “[This book] is aimed, as Bazin would want, not only at scholars, teachers, and critics of film but also at educated or cultivated moviegoers and students of the cinema at all levels.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAuthorship and the films of David Lynch : aesthetic receptions in contemporary Hollywood / Antony Todd.
“This important new contribution to studies on authorship and film explores the ways in which shared and disputed opinions on aesthetic quality, originality, and authorial essence have shaped receptions of Lynch’s films. It is also the first book to approach David Lynch as a figure composed through language, history, and text. Tracing the development of Lynch’s career from cult obscurity with Eraserhead, to star auteur through the release of Blue Velvet, and TV phenomenon Twin Peaks, Antony Todd examines how his idiosyncratic style introduced the term “Lynchian” to the colloquial speech of new Hollywood and helped establish Lynch as the leading light among contemporary American auteurs.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Big Lebowski and philosophy : keeping your mind limber with abiding wisdom / edited by Peter S. Fosl.
“Explores many of The Big Lebowski’s key themes, such as nihilism, war and politics, money and materialism, idealism and morality, history, and more. Gives you new perspective on the movie’s characters–the Dude, the Big Lebowski, Walter Sobchak, Donny, Maude Lebowski, Bunny Lebowski, and others. Helps you appreciate the Coen Brothers classic even more with the insights of Aristotle, Epicurus, Kant, Derrida, and other philosophical heavyweights.” – (adapted from Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThe Rocky horror picture show / Dave Thompson.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show is simultaneously one of the iconographic touchstones of 1970s cinema, and a timeless romp that appeals equally to every fresh generation. Created with a sharp eye for cult and context alike, Rocky Horror leaped effortlessly from stage to celluloid, losing none of its immediacy and spontaneity in the process and maybe gathering more. Dave Thompson goes deep inside the phenomenon to trace the story and the strangeness that is The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

New DVDs for July

New DVDs for July include silent epic The Artist; Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe; the new Almodovar with Antonio Banderas; the acclaimed ‘Shame’ with Michael Fassbender & Carey Mulligan; the Iranian sensation ‘Circumstance’; Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar Hoover biopic; an adaptation of the Janet Evanovich novel ‘One for the money’; and Glenn Close’s Oscar nominated ‘Albert Nobbs’..

Cover imageShame.
“Firmly planting itself near the top of the memorable performances and films that have been overlooked by the Oscars, Michael Fassbender’s astonishing work in Shame is genuinely something to behold. Stripped bare, both physically and emotionally, he plays Brandon, a man struggling with a sex addiction, whose life gets yet more complex when his sister, played by Carey Mulligan, comes to stay. It’s comfortably one of the least titillating films ever made about sex, and in this case, it’s all the better for it. Directed by Steve McQueen, who also worked with Fassbender on the acclaimed Hunger, Shame is an ambitious, raw drama. As a study of a character in the depths of an addiction, it both breaks a taboo or two, and is unflinching in its portrayal. And while there’s an argument that the film itself isn’t quite the equal of its leading man, Shame is both important and courageous. McQueen, certainly, is a director who very much does things his own way…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageThe skin I live in.
“From acclaimed director Pedro Almodovar comes The Skin I Live In… Ever since his wife was burned in a car crash, Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), an eminent plastic surgeon, has been interested in creating a new skin with which he could have saved her. After 12 years, he manages to cultivate a skin that is a real shield against every assault. In addition to years of study and experimentation, Robert needed a further three things: no scruples, an accomplice and a human guinea pig. Scruples were never a problem. Marilia, the woman who looked after him from the day he was born, is his most faithful accomplice. And as for the human guinea pig…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageThe promise.
“Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) and Christian Cooke (Cemetery Junction) lead an international cast, including Itay Tiran (Lebanon), Haaz Sleiman (The Visitor), Ali Sulaiman (Paradise Now) and Perdita Weeks (Lost in Austen), in Peter Kosminsky’s new four-part drama serial. Just as 18-year-old Londoner Erin (Foy) sets off to spend summer in Israel with her best friend, Eliza (Weeks), she unearths an old diary belonging to her seriously ill grandfather, Len (Cooke). Intrigued by the life of this old man she barely knows, she takes the diary with her, and is stunned to learn of his part in the post-WWII British peace-keeping force in what was then Palestine. Left to her own devices when Eliza begins National Service in the Israeli army, Erin witnesses the complexities of life–for both Jews and Arabs–in this troubled land. And as Len’s story comes to life from the pages of the diary, Erin discovers the disturbing truths about his time in Palestine and the atrocities he witnessed in the 1940s. Retracing Len’s steps in modern-day Israel, Erin sets out on a heart-breaking journey in an effort to understand and fulfil a promise made by her grandfather over 60 years ago…” – (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageAlbert Nobbs.
“To his customers, fastidious butler Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close, re-creating her 1982 stage role) is a “kind little man” who works in an upscale Dublin hotel at the turn of the century, prioritizing his position above all other concerns. Little do they know that he isn’t really a man and that he dreams of running a tobacco shop. Until then, he’s quietly biding his time when two new workers arrive: Joe (Nowhere Boy’s Aaron Johnson), a strapping handyman, and Hubert (Oscar nominee Janet McTeer), a swaggering housepainter also passing as a man. After Hubert discovers Albert’s secret, they share their stories, and a friendship ensues. Hubert’s marriage to a spirited seamstress inspires Albert to find a spouse of his own, so he sets his sights on flighty housemaid Helen (Jane Eyre’s Mia Wasikowska). With money in short supply, her erstwhile lover, Joe, encourages her to play along, a move that brings out Albert’s tender side while jeopardizing his security….Though Close gives an admirably controlled performance, Albert’s closed-off character makes him more intriguing than sympathetic…” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover image3.
“Hanna and Simon, a couple in their early forties, live together in Berlin. With their 20th anniversary looming, they both become restless despite being truly and deeply in love. Unbeknownst to one another, they separately become acquainted with Adam, a younger man, and fall in love with him. Clearly not your typical 1930’s romp, this reinvention of those classic films … is a playful update: an intellectual study of a modern couple looking for redefinition in a world of absolutes…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageOne for the money.
“A film based on the incredibly popular Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, One for the Money reveals an unexpectedly versatile Katherine Heigl. Heigl takes on the meaty role of Plum, a laid-off lingerie buyer who turns bondswoman in a desperate attempt to pay the rent and put food on the table. Heigl is surprisingly believable as a blue-collar working girl who thinks fast on her feet and is not afraid to throw herself into the middle of even the most dangerous situation–especially if it means getting what she wants. Of course, Stephanie’s impulsiveness manages to get her into all sorts of awkward and potentially life-threatening situations. Throw in her desire for payback against an old boyfriend, a sleazy cousin, a gang of ruthless criminals, a couple of most unexpected allies, and a quirky family who can think of little more than setting her up with a good husband, and you’ve got an enticing blend of drama, action, and comedy…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverThe trip: the 6-part series.
“Steve Coogan has been commissioned by a Sunday newspaper to review half a dozen restaurants in the North of England. When his food-loving American girlfriend backs out, Steve is faced with a week of meals for one. Reluctantly, he calls Rob Brydon, the only person he can think of who will be available. Heading north in a stylish black Range Rover, the pair begin a journey of bickering jokes and reflection. Across the dinner tables of the North’s best restaurants the neurotic and sardonic Coogan and the genial eager-to-entertain Brydon spar on everything from Coleridge or career insecurities to which of them does the best Michael Caine impression. This two disc set includes the original six part BAFTA winning comedy series as seen on the BBC.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe artist.
“The Artist is a love letter and homage to classic black-and-white silent films. The film is enormously likable and is anchored by a charming performance from Jean Dujardin, as silent movie star George Valentin. In late-1920s Hollywood, as Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he makes an intense connection with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break. As one career declines, another flourishes, and by channeling elements of A Star Is Born and Singing in the Rain, The Artist tells the engaging story with humour, melodrama, romance, and–most importantly–silence. As wonderful as the performances by Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo (Miller) are, the real star of The Artist is cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman. Visually, the film is stunning. Crisp and beautifully contrasted, each frame is so wonderfully constructed that this sweet and unique little movie is transformed from entertaining fluff to a profound cinematic achievement…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageMy week with Marilyn.
“In My Week with Marilyn Williams takes on the formidable challenge of playing Marilyn Monroe, and does so with depth and assuredness, and without resorting to caricature. Williams’s Marilyn commands the screen with pain and delicacy, and doesn’t let go until the final credits. My Week with Marilyn focuses on a small time frame in Monroe’s life, right after her marriage to Arthur Miller. Monroe, already “the world’s most famous woman,” still feels the need for validation as an actress. What better way to achieve that, she believes, than committing to co-starring with Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl, a film she firmly believed would finally cement her reputation as a serious actress. My Week with Marilyn is based on the short memoir of Colin Clark, a crew member on The Prince and the Showgirl, who quickly became the confidant of the wildly insecure Monroe and watched a train wreck of egos–mostly Olivier’s and Monroe’s–collide in a fiery near-disaster…But it’s Williams who gives the revelatory performance, capturing with painful intensity the insecurity that begins to seep out of Monroe like a fearful sweat…My Week with Marilyn doesn’t attempt to answer the unanswerable, but instead shines a light on the very real woman who became lost in the giant shadow of legend…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageBlackthorn.
“It’s been said that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in a standoff with the Bolivian military in 1908. In BLACKTHORN, Cassidy (Sam Shepard) survived and is quietly living out his years under the name James Blackthorn in a secluded Bolivian village. Tired of his long exile from the U.S. and hoping to see his family again before he dies, Cassidy sets out on the long journey home. But when an unexpected encounter with an ambitious young criminal (Eduardo Noriega) derails his plans, he is thrust into one last adventure, the likes of which he hasn’t experienced since his glory days with the Sundance Kid…” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageContraband.
“This job should be a piece of cake: former smuggler Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) gets dragged back into the game in order to make things right with a nasty New Orleans gangster (Giovanni Ribisi) over a debt owed by Chris’s brother-in-law. So, Chris needs to smuggle in some goods on a cargo ship from Panama, pay the guy off, and return to a suburban life on the straight and narrow. No problem, right? What’s fun about Contraband is that despite its hero’s meticulous planning, all hell breaks loose in Panama City, where nothing goes as planned and where the cargo ship is, after all, due to disembark at a certain time, with or without him. Based on the Icelandic film Reykjavík-Rotterdam, this movie is full of stock characters and rancid dialogue, but the plot is so kicky and wild, it almost doesn’t matter, at least for as long as the movie is on screen…No one will mistake it for a classic, but Contraband has enough zip, and a few genuine surprises, to qualify it as a fun diversion…” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageJ. Edgar.
“The complicated life of J. Edgar Hoover is thoughtfully and quietly distilled into a feature film by director Clint Eastwood. J. Edgar is a movie, therefore, that’s free of fuss. Told mainly through an older Hoover reciting back his life story, it’s a conventional structure that allows Eastwood to cherry-pick some of the most interesting moments from the contrversial life of the man who was the first director of the modern day FBI. J. Edgar, as a movie, is sometimes a little too cautious for its own good, sidestepping one or two areas of its subject’s life. But in the title role, Leonardo DiCaprio is in excellent form. Sometimes weighed down by ageing make-up, but always able to hold the screen, it’s his central performance that’s the compelling reason to watch the movie. Judi Dench has less to work with as his mother, although Armie Hammer fares better as Clyde Tolson, the man who may or may not have been Hoover’s lover…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageCircumstance.
“A coming-of-age story set in the world of Iranian youth culture, filled with sex, drugs and defiance. A wealthy family struggles to contain their teenage daughter’s growing sexual rebellion and her brother’s dangerous obsession.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New DVDs for June

New DVDs for June include the adaptation of Andrea Levy’s ‘Small Island’; the return of ‘The Boys’ in ‘Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business’; the second season of ‘Sherlock’; Western-crime series ‘Justified’ based on the work of Elmore Leonard; ‘Call The Midwife’ from the memoirs of Jennifer Worth; & the award winning ‘Tyrannosaur’…

Cover imageSione’s 2: unfinished business.
“Five years ago our heroes the Duckrockers thought they had figured it all out – they had found themselves girlfriends to take to Siones wedding and the future was looking bright…Fast-forward five years and things havent quite gone as the boys might have planned: Albert is now married to Tania and they are living in suburbia, both working in insurance and also trying (unsuccessfully) to have a baby; Sefa and Leilani are still together and now have two kids although despite Sefas proposal, theyre still not married. And while Sefas business is falling apart, Leilani seems to be living life to the full; Stanley is now a trainee Deacon in the Future Church; Michael has moved to Australia but the boys dont hear from him often; and Bolo has thrown in his job with Sefa and taken up work with Sione, Michaels younger brother. Growing up appears to be driving the Duckrockers apart but when theyre confronted with one of lifes unexpected turns and Bolo goes missing, their Minister once again brings them together and sends them on a quest. Their mission: to find Bolo.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSmall island.
“Adapted from the award-winning 2004 novel, this mini-series stars Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean, White Teeth) as Hortense, a young ambitious Jamaican woman thrust into the grit of 1940s post-war London. Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken but her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie, raised as a farmer’s daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve. Small Island is a courageous story of tender emotion and sparkling wit, of shattering compassion and reckless optimism in the face of insurmountable barriers…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageTyrannosaur.
“A powerful award-winning drama written and directed by Paddy Considine (Dead Man’s Shoes), Tyrannosaur follows the story of two people brought together by circumstance. Joseph (Peter Mullan, Neds) is an unemployed widower, drinker, and a man stifled by his own volatile temperament and furious anger. Hannah (Olivia Colman, Hot Fuzz) is a Christian worker at a charity shop, a respectable woman who appears wholesome and happy. When the pair are brought together, Hannah appears to be Joseph’s potential saviour, someone who can temper his fury and offer him warmth, kindness and acceptance. As their story develops Hannah’s own secrets are revealed–her relationship with husband James (Eddie Marsan, Sherlock Holmes) is violent and abusive–and as events spiral out of control, Joseph becomes her source of comfort…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageThe Bang Bang Club.
“Screenwriter-director Steven Silver aspires to pose, if not exactly answer, some serious questions in his 2010 film The Bang Bang Club. What is the role of photographers during a time of war? Are they merely journalists and observers whose only duty is to use their cameras to let the world see what they have witnessed in the flesh? Or, when they see violence and suffering, do they have a responsibility to get involved and try to help those in need? The titular “club” refers to four photographers–Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach), and João Silva (Neels Van Jaarsveld)–who, in the early to mid ’90s, when the South African system of apartheid was in its death throes, worked together to chronicle the violence and upheaval leading up to the 1994 election of Nelson Mandela as president (the film is based on a memoir written by Marinovich and Silva). Pulitzers are won, but not without accompanying criticism. One black character describes their work as “white photographers making money off the blood of South Africa,” while one of Marinovich’s prize-winning shots is derided as “a white man’s photo taken for white men’s purposes”; they also have to defend their decisions not to intervene in some of the more horrific scenes they recorded, while attempting to keep the police’s hands off their work as well…All in all, a worthy study of some conflicted men whose job, as one of them puts it, was mainly to “sit there and watch people die.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageSherlock. Complete series two.
“This sophomore season exceeds the pleasures and promise of the Emmy-nominated first season with three feature-length mysteries that fully test Holmes’s mettle and cunning, and shake his very high self-regard. The first and third episodes do full justice to two figures who loom large in the Holmes canon. The first is Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), a.k.a. “the Woman,” in “A Scandal in Belgravia,” a ripping and naughty yarn involving a high-class dominatrix and some scandalous royal photos. The second, of course, is Moriarty (an Emmy-worthy Andrew Scott) in “The Reichenbach Fall,” who hatches a mad scheme to bring about Holmes’s ruination. The middle mystery is perhaps Holmes’s best-known, “The Hounds of Baskerville,” a psychological thriller that lacks the other two’s worthy central adversaries, although Holmes’s rare moment of bafflement sets the stage for the seemingly game-changing finale that has Dark Knight echoes. Sherlock’s high concept–transplanting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s master consulting detective to 21st-century London–is brilliantly realized, but at the heart of this series’ success is the casting and chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson, who chronicles their adventures in–what else–a blog. While some may make innuendo about the nature of their relationship, it is their friendship that unfolds by degrees that holds the most fascination. “I don’t have friends,” Holmes confesses to Watson in one of his rare quiet and less prickly moments. “I have one.”…” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageJustified. The complete first season.
“Prolific and much-respected author Elmore Leonard’s novels have fared poorly when they’ve been adapted to the small screen…but the Western-cum-police-drama Justified breaks the losing streak thanks to the tightly wound performance of star Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood) and solid scripting and direction. Olyphant’s Marshal Raylan Givens, whom readers met in the novels Pronto and Riding the Rap (as well as the short “Fire in the Hole,” which serves as the basis for the pilot episode), is a man of few words and deadly aim who is sent back to his hometown of Harlan County, Kentucky, after shooting first and asking questions later with an oily gangster. Once ensconced in the coal belt, Givens runs afoul of childhood friend Boyd Crowder (the terrific Walton Goggins from The Shield), who’s gone from mining to white supremacy and murder. Also competing for Givens’s attention are local girl Ava (Joelle Carter), whose crush on the marshal doesn’t quite obscure the fact that she’s just murdered her husband, and his father, Arlo (the always-solid character actor Raymond J. Barry), whose criminal career is a millstone around Givens’s neck…” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageYoung adult.
“Diablo Cody (Juno) has written another nuanced, psyche-skewering masterpiece with Young Adult. And Charlize Theron turns in an amazing performance that takes the audience along for a darkly comic and deeply rewarding ride. Young Adult centers on a woman, Mavis (Theron), who was all that back in high school. After a crushing divorce, she returns to her small town, Mercury, to regroup, and, she hopes, reclaim her high school flame, Buddy (the blandly handsome Patrick Wilson, also excellent). But unlike Mavis, Mercury and its residents have changed, and grown up…Mavis’s focused cluelessness and sense of entitlement cause the viewer to cringe, but are also black-comedy funny. Comic Patton Oswalt is also a revelation, playing Matt, a sort of Greek chorus of Mercury who relates to Mavis (sort of) and isn’t afraid of telling her the truth…Young Adult is a truly interesting and nuanced comedy, and Charlize Theron will have the viewer thinking long after the film is over…” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageThe first grader .
“The First Grader is the triumphant true story of one man’s battle to overcome his past in order to be educated. When the Kenyan government promises free education for all, 84 year-old Maruge (Oliver Litondo in his debut role) makes his way to a remote primary school in the Kenyan bush to get himself the education he has always been denied. A former Mau Mau warrior, fifty years earlier he fought for the liberation of his country and now he must fight for his right to learn to read and write in a class of six-year-olds. Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane supports his struggle to gain admission and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don’t want to waste a precious school place on an old man. Full of humour and vitality, THE FIRST GRADER uncovers the shocking untold history of British colonial rule in Kenya and tells the remarkable, inspirational story of one man’s determination to learn in the face of adversity…” – (adapted from
Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageCall the midwife.
“Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth; the story follows twenty-two year old Jenny, who in 1957 leaves her comfortable home to become a midwife in London’s East End slums. Jenny is welcomed by the nuns and befriended by the other midwives – good-time girl Trixie, sensible Cynthia and fellow newcomer, the posh, fish-out-of water, Chummy. We are introduced to the local community through the eyes of the young nurse as she cycles out to tend to her patients. Although the life that greets Jenny is a world away from what she’s used to, she immerses herself in the births, deaths, intrigues and romances of a community she rapidly learns to love…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageA film unfinished.
“A Film Unfinished, a harrowing look at the devious art of a propaganda film made by the Third Reich, is a rich and well-researched investigation into the filmic history of the Warsaw Ghetto. Made by Yael Hersonski, this documentary begins by explaining how a film found in a Berlin vault, called “The Ghetto,” depicting Polish Jews living in luxury among the squalor of the three square miles that made up the real ghetto, has served as cinematic historical documentation of Warsaw only because it contains actual footage of the destitution there. However, by offering the viewer multiple takes of each scene, Hersonski argues that viewers need to remember that this propaganda film was completely staged to manipulate the viewer into believing in a contrast between what fortunate Jews allegedly could have had under the reign of the Third Reich…By presenting the entire 60 minutes of “The Ghetto” spliced with new footage, Hersonski proves the falsity of the propaganda film and also analyzes the history of how it was made and the psychology behind that historical impetus…” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageWarehouse 13. Season one.
“After saving the life of the president, two top Secret Service agents find themselves abruptly transferred to Warehouse 13, a massive, top-secret storage facility in the badlands of South Dakota that houses U.S. government. Now the pair, off-the-cuff Agent Pete Lattimer and by-the-book Agent Myka Bering, must chase down reports of supernatural and paranormal activity in search of new objects for their eccentric new boss, Artie Nielsen, to safeguard at the Warehouse…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)


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