Review: 5-star DVD, “Sherlock, Season One”

Sherlock: Season One

Best Sherlock Ever?, December 15, 2010

Dragging Sherlock Holmes into the 21st Century? A big risk, but they succeed beyond belief, and the Great Detective is more fun and relevant than ever in this mini-series of three 90-minute films. Aficionados will love all the subtle nods to Doyle and the original stories, but it’s startling how easily the canon slides into 2010 settings and technology. Jeremy Brett? Basil Rathbone? Debates over the best Sherlock ever now must include Benedict Cumberbatch, whose chemistry with the new Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman) is spot-on. I own the complete Granada TV series with Jeremy Brett and considered it the best-ever dramatization of Doyle’s stories, but now that this Masterpiece Mystery BBC series has been renewed for a 2011 season, I believe Cumberbatch and Freeman will surpass their predecessors, if they haven’t already. The premiere “Study in Pink” is the best of the 3 initial films, acting is superb and the injection of humor delicious.

Review: 5-star Kindle Cover

Tuff-Luv Leather case cover & stand for Amazon Kindle 2 / Global Wireless 6″ (Flip Style) – Black

Ideal, October 30, 2010

Best thing about it: you can read hands-free, even when lying in bed. A small stand in the back enables you to prop in up. I flip the main cover over the back of the Kindle for an even larger stand, and it rests on my chest while reading in bed or on the couch. Top-notch quality cover, lifetime warranty. Well worth the price.

Review: 5-star Kindle Light

Mighty Bright XtraFlex2 Clip-On Light (Kindle Version) Black

Great solution, October 30, 2010

Just the right amount of light (two brightness choices) for reading in bed in the dark while your “other” sleeps. Works with any book as well as Kindle, but clip grip is better if your Kindle has a cover. Flex tube enables you to direct light and avoid glare. Doesn’t add noticeable weight. LED lights would last 11 years if you never turned them off, or 264 years if you read 1 hour a night, every night, so don’t worry that they’re not replaceable. But you do have to buy new batteries. I use it on planes or low-light areas too.

 

Review: 5-star Book, “Fair Tax: The Truth”

FairTax: The Truth: Answering the Critics

A whole new world, August 26, 2010

Could the FairTax actually save the economy and change the world for the better? Yes, that’s a logical conclusion to draw after reading both of the Boortz-Linder books. I suggest reading them in order (The FairTax Book, and then FairTax: The Truth), although the second contains some repetition. Boortz’s humor and breezy writing style make this potentially dry and esoteric subject a fun read. It’s exciting stuff to ponder. I hope to see the FairTax become reality in my lifetime.

Review: 4-star Camera Tripod

VidPro Gripster Flexible Compact Camera Tripod

Works as advertised, July 25, 2010

I bought this because many reviewers of my recently purchased FlipHD camcorder warned about very bouncy video results from a handheld camera. This little tripod is handy for getting yourself in the shot, but I rarely use it just to steady the camera because (1) if I keep my elbows against my body and try to stay still, the video turns out fine, and (2) most of my video is shot as real-life events are happening, so I don’t have time to pull out the tripod and set it up, even though that only takes 60 seconds. That said, the tripod is inexpensive and worth buying. If you want to pose yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower, you can do it without handing the camera to a stranger who might run off with it. And if you’re not worried about missing a fleeting moment, mounting the camera on the tripod WILL give you beautiful, steady video. It has a clip-in shoe so you don’t have to screw in the camera every time. Just set the tripod, clip in the camera and you’re rolling.

Review: 4-star Camcorder

Flip UltraHD Video Camera – Black, 8 GB, 2 Hours (2nd Generation) OLD MODEL

Flippin’ cool, June 15, 2010

Great little camcorder, video and audio are terrific. Rather than rave about the great points, I’ll point out minor caveats: Be aware that the only way to charge the battery is via the Flip USB port, so if you’re filming your vacation in Europe or wherever, having access to AC power isn’t enough to get a recharge — you need a computer or AC-to-USB adapter, too. The AC-to-USB adapter is a cheap and easy solution. Also, the HD video will only be HD if you (a) feed it directly from camcorder to TV via HDMI connection for unedited viewing, or (b) if you burn an HD DVD and have an HD DVD player (and, of course, an HDTV). But the video looks great in standard def, too. You might want to buy a little Gorilla-type tripod or learn how to use your arms and elbows against your torso to minimize that hand-held jiggling.

Update Aug 15, 2011: I tried charging my Flip camera with my Kindle USB-to-AC adapter, and it works!

 

Review: 4-Star DVD, “Sherlock Holmes”

Sherlock Holmes

OK, it works, May 10, 2010

As a devotee of the Sherlock Holmes novels, short stories and Jeremy Brett TV serials, I couldn’t even picture Robert Downey Jr. as the Great Detective. If anything, he seemed better to play Watson and let Jude Law take the lead. But I suspended disbelief and bought the DVD and am very glad I did. The experience is very similar to a Trekker who resists director JJ Abrams’ 2009 version of Star Trek with young new faces as Kirk and Spock. But that worked, too. It’s not your father’s Star Trek and not your grandfather’s Sherlock Holmes. But director Guy Ritchie gave us enough of the Holmes canon to satisfy and plenty of new twists to entertain. Thumbs up.

Review: 2-Star DVD, “The Prisoner of Second Avenue”

The Prisoner of Second Avenue

See the Stage Play, May 10, 2010

It’s a moving stage play but a disappointing movie. Jack Lemmon gives a one-note performance, playing the same aggravated character he did in “The Out-of-Towners.” Anne Bancroft, however, is flawless as his wife. The script is dark comedy, but Lemmon left out most of the comedy and left us with just his angst. Sloppy, hurried direction would be my guess.

Review: 4-Star DVD, “Victory at Sea”

Victory at Sea

A Landmark Achievement, May 10, 2010

Considering “Victory at Sea” was made for TV in 1952, this series of 26 episodes is remarkably gripping, real and honest. I remember watching a few episodes as a kid and being awestruck. Today, long after seeing Director Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor” and visually riding the tail of a bomb down to the deck, it would be easy to dismiss “Victory at Sea” as antiquated, jingoistic newsreels, but it’s far better than that and worth every penny of the DVD price. A few of the scenes are obviously staged (OK, run fast, now hit the deck like you’ve been shot), but most of the footage is real war and chilling, real death. I just wish someone had put together a special feature or two: the making of the documentary, its impact on the future of TV documentaries, etc. This set just has 2 DVDs, 26 episodes, nothing else.