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wabrit (Derbyshire)

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AmazonBasics Micro Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Speaker - Black
AmazonBasics Micro Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Speaker - Black
Price: £18.49

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Handy Accessory, 10 Nov. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've found this to be a very useful accessory to my smartphone, allowing me to listen to things like music, podcasts or digital-only radio stations with very acceptable sound quality. The setup was very easy and quick (just ensure bluetooth is enabled on your source device), and the range and charge life are pretty good too. You don't get a lot of oomph from the speaker, but that's to be expected given the (very convenient) size of the device. Comes with a carry pouch and USB charge lead, and has a earphone socket (although the utility of that defeats me).


The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared [DVD]
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert Gustafsson
Price: £5.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Go sell quirky someplace else, we're all stocked up here, 24 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've not read the book on which this film is based, so can't comment on the qualities of the original, nor how faithful an adaptation this may be. It's a picaresque tale of an idiot savant with a penchant for explosions and a habit of getting involved in the key moments of the twentieth century who, at the age of 100, embarks on a new adventure gathering various oddball companions along the way and trying to evade the attentions of a rather inept Swedish biker gang. The film itself is subtitiled, although for some reason the voiceover narration is in English on the DVD I watched.

How much you enjoy this may depend on whether you need "funny" music to let you know when something is funny or not; I found the thing overcooked - not a moment was lost to demonstrate how quirky the film thinks it is, and the characters are never developed beyond our first impressions of them. I groaned when the elephant made its appearance; the final nail in the coffin for me alas. Give me some genuine Scandinavian deadpan drollery in the form of an Aki Kaurismaki film anyday.


Hama Shiny Headset for Apple iPhone - Black
Hama Shiny Headset for Apple iPhone - Black
Offered by BestStuff UK
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice sound, but let down by some usability features., 14 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The sound quality is good, and the buds fit comfortably into my ears (although there's probably a star to be docked for the lack of alternative sizes that can be swapped in - not everyone has the same sized earholes).

My package was missing a user manual - I may have been unlucky, as I've read elsewhere that there should be one included. Without it, puzzling out how to unlock all of the features is like one of those puzzles you get in Christmas crackers; it took me 10 minutes to figure out that double-clicking the "on/off" switch was the way to advance to the next track, but I just couldn't work out how to go back to the start of the current track (which the back of the package promises can be done)!

Eventually I found an online manual, and it turns out that to do this you have to "triple-click" the same switch. Now double-clicking is an art most people have mastered, but triple-clicking is pretty tricky to get right (I've been practising for a few minutes now and my success rate is about 40%). So an extra control would have been a much better option.


Pasta: The Essential New Collection from the Master of Italian Cookery
Pasta: The Essential New Collection from the Master of Italian Cookery
by Antonio Carluccio
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps not essential, but useful nonetheless, 27 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Currently Amazon has around 11,000 books on pasta, so it's a crowded market in which any new recipe collection has to compete; so does Antionio Carluccio's new book have what it takes?

Firstly the bare facts - there are around 216 pages (excluding index), of which just over 40 are devoted to background information on different types of pasta, the history of pasta, and how to make fresh pasta dough. That leaves around 170 pages for the actual recipes, which are divided up into sections (soups, pasta with sauces, fresh/filled pasta, pasta salads and desserts).and I reckon around 120 actual recipes. I would have preferred fewer pages on background and more recipes.

I've tried out around 5 of these so far, and generally results were good, such as a very good cheese and pepper sauce, and a delicious combination of tomatoes, bacon, olives and pecorino cheese. Instructions and ingredients were clearly laid out, and for most of the recipes there are photographs to show you what to aim for! Things went slightly awry with one of the more ambitious dishes (Stuffed Cannelloni with Taleggio and Truffle Sauce) where I found the sauce was too thin and of insufficient quantity to properly coat the pasta prior to baking. A second attempt with roughly double the amount of sauce, left to stand for a while to thicken, worked much better.

Overall I'd recommend this to anyone who isn't looking for lots of what might be called "midweek supper" recipes; quite a few of them need more time, and a lot of them start from the premise that you will be making your own pasta. But, one or two reservations aside (e.g. it's no longer acceptable in this day and age to use "curry powder" as an ingredient), I found the recipes interesting and the results worthwhile.


Inside Llewyn Davis [DVD] [2014]
Inside Llewyn Davis [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Oscar Isaac
Price: £5.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't think twice, it's alright, 16 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Greenwich Village, New York 1961 is the Year Zero of American Folk Music, and "Inside Llewyn Davis" takes place just before the explosion that was Bob Dylan blew pretty much everything else away; it's a triumphant return to the top of their game for the Cohen Brothers (up there with "Miller's Crossing" and "Fargo") after some less than essential forays into remakes ("True Grit", "The Ladykillers").

In the eponymous lead role Oscar Isaac is nothing short of superb; the film stands or falls on whether we believe Llewyn is both a gifted musician (good enough to be the "nearly man" of the 1960s folk scene) and a deeply troubled individual, and we do without any doubt. Here is someone who is almost, but not quite, good enough an artist to compensate for his inability to connect with people and treat them right - we indulge the flaws of great artists, but they have to be truly great,

In addition to the glorious music (produced by T Bone Burnett, and all played live), the cinemaphotography is extraordinarily good; New York in winter is beautifully captured. The film has that quintessential Cohen brothers trait of being simultaneously profoundly tragic and gloriously funny. The supporting cast features wonderful performances by Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and (in a brief but memorable scene) F. Murray Abraham.


Pieta [DVD]
Pieta [DVD]
Dvd ~ Young-Jik Jo
Price: £7.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I didn't care, 29 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Pieta [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Kim Ki-Duk, who rose to notoriety with The Isle, returns from something of a mental health crisis with this film, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It's a visceral tale of a loan shark hard man who meets a middle-aged woman claiming to be his mother, and the title (drawn from the Italian) hints at a sacred element (some might say, blasphemous) to the relationship between mother and son; the violent (and sexual) content will make it difficult viewing for some, but I found the film tedious, the lead character uninteresting and the story dull. There are much better Korean films out there - Poetry, I Saw The Devil and Night & Day, to name but a few.


Almost English
Almost English
by Charlotte Mendelson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost, but not quite, 16 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Almost English (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When reviewing a book, it's easy to fall in to the trap of being disparaging simply on the basis of finding one or more characters disagreeable, and there are certainly characters within this book for which it is sometimes hard to extend one's sympathy; one of the two central characters (the other being her daughter Marina, struggling to survive the awkwardnesses and pains of adolescence) Laura I found particularly exasperating. Someone more lacking drive or basic emotional intelligence would hard to countenance.

Adopting that yardstick however would be misguided; on that basis "Mansfield Park" would score low since it features one of the most suprememly dislikable characters in all fiction in the person of the bumptious Mrs Norris. However, while I enjoyed the book, I found a number of significant flaws:

- The title doesn't really fit the subject matter. I never got the feeling that Marina's travails were in any way the result of her being part Hungarian - they come across more as a simple case of growing pains.

- Missed opportunity; after a promising start (a particularly grisly party), Marina's Hungarian family slide into the background of the novel where they became faint caricatures. I would like to have seen these characters developed and differentiated more.

- About 2/3 through the book, the plot is taken over by a frankly unbelievable twist of coincidence, the effects of which struck me as not nearly as momentous as the author was trying to make them out to be. There is also the slightly irritating writing habit of breaking the parallel plot lines into smaller and smaller slices of time, where the effect of trying to manufacture too many false cliffhangers becomes wearisome.


Supernatural (2-disc DVD set)
Supernatural (2-disc DVD set)
Dvd ~ Robert Hardy
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £9.99

32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tales that went bump in the night, 31 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Anyone of a gothic turn of mind who remembers the summer of 1977 will have fond memories of Saturday nights when Supernatural was served up on BBC1 to be followed shortly after by a horror double bill on BBC2 under the title of "Dracula, Frankenstein - and Friends!"; happy days indeed, and it's splendid to see the BFI turning their hand to releasing this series after so long.

There are 8 hour-long dramas in the series, all excellently cast; by modern standards they may appear a little slow and studio-bound, but the best of them are superbly creepy. This was a series that got better and better as it went on, and the last 3 stories ("Viktoria", "Night of the Marionettes" and "Dorabella") are superb; indeed, "Dorabella" is one of the best vampire tales I've ever seen dramatised, with many unforgettable moments.

If you enjoyed Ghost Stories for Christmas then you should find much to savour in this set.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2013 4:44 PM BST


The Defenestration Of St Martin
The Defenestration Of St Martin
Price: £13.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's in his genes, 23 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is my favourite album of 2012; it's been too long since Martin Rossiter and Gene went their separate ways, but now he's back with a marvelous solo album that showcases his ear for melody, beautiful turn of phrase and emotive singing voice to full effect. Gone is the guitar band backing (apart from the closing moments), and instead we have a simple but enormously affecting bare stage of piano and voice. In lesser hands, such a combination would lead to repetition setting in around track 3; that simply doesn't happen here.


Barbara [DVD]
Barbara [DVD]
Dvd ~ Nina Hoss
Price: £8.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They're coming to get you, Barbara, 5 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Barbara [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Christian Petzold's previous feature Yella was an intriguing enigma centered on a woman whose past may be catching up with her, in more ways than one. There's a similar vibe to Barbara, in which the backstory of the central character takes a while to be brought into focus; it's this part of the film that's the strongest, as after that the gears of the plot are a little overexposed so that we can see exactly where the denouement will take us. That's not to say this isn't a stylish and absorbing drama, with a beautiful recreation of a particular time and place, but it feels a little too mechanical in places.


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