Amazon Vine Freebies – June 2015

Yikes, I’ve fallen behind with these posts, and I know you’ve all been gnashing and wailing furiously in anticipation, so here you go – one from a whole year ago that I have neglected to post. UNTIL NOW!

A summer breeze brings with it expectation, and a new pile of free stuff for me to play with:

Oxford French-English Visual Dictionary of Animals (Oxford Visual Dictionary)

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A haw-he-haw madame monsieur dictionary for kids. Remember when you studied French and each section of the single text book you had would be focused on a particular subject – directions, numbers, accommodation, family and friends etc?  Well this one is entirely based around animals, or as the French say – Les Animals. In all seriousness it’s very useful, with plain text (French first, then English) and would go a long way if your child ever needs an on the spot translation of ‘Excuse me, can somebody please call the veterinary authorities because this penguin is choking on my arm’.

Black Coal, Thin Ice [DVD]

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Look, you can check my review here!

Sealy Posturepedic Optimal Latex Pillow – Firm

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I’ve always had neck and back pain and my mattress is terrible, so I couldn’t wait to give this a try and -oh, oh, okay, my wife has claimed it. Oh well.

Early Rider Alley Runner 12-inch Aluminium Balance Bike – Age 2 to 4.5 Years

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I’ve never really seen the point in this –  a bike with no pedals. Why not just straddle a broomstick and gallop up and down the street, cackling? What’s that you say? It’s for kids?

Black Coal, Thin Ice

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* Note – based on a free copy provided by Amazon

The first film I’ve seen by Diao Yinan is as cold and harsh as it’s name suggests. Taking place in the frigid, frozen north of China it seems like the bleak surroundings are seeping into the lives of the inhabitants. Focusing on one Detective’s fall from grace and sobriety after he gets involved in a case of murder and scattered body parts, the film is a well acted but detached affair.

Liao Fan packs on the pounds to play the central role, a man who doesn’t seem to care what happens to him, yet is seemingly looking for love or something resembling it. Gwei Lun Mei plays the mysterious woman who appears to be connected to the murders – everyone she becomes entangled with ends up dead. She spends much of the movie mute and reminds us of a Hitchcock archetype, enticing our protagonist and others not by her actions but her passivity and the fact that these terrible things just keep happening when she is around.

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There are a couple of standout scenes where the violence is swift and shocking in stark contrast to the slow nature of the rest of the film. It’s a decent film, one with occasionally striking visuals and good performances, but it rarely offers anything new, exciting, or memorable. People not familiar with Asian cinema will likely not find anything to convert them, while regular viewers may be frustrated by the cold disjointed nature of the film and its characters. Let us know in the comments if you have seen this one, and share what you thought!