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Profile for Mr. D Burin > Reviews

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Mr. D Burin

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Special Relationship (HBO Films) [Blu-ray]
Special Relationship (HBO Films) [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Michael Sheen
Price: £10.00

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blair and Clinton, 15 Sept. 2011
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Engaging, well-written and even-handed, 'The Special Relationship' is another film to add to the list of good political dramas of the last five years. The film's focus, though, differs to most other political dramas in that it is largely low-key and family based; an interesting tack that allows the film to showcase Bill Clinton's admittance of his infidelity to the beleaguered Hilary (a superb Hope Davis), and Blair's personal struggle to gain popularity and political power; being the junior partner of the relationship at the film's opening, in a more personal context. Indeed, this family-oriented setting provides a solid backdrop to the revelations on everything from the Lewinski affair to Northern Ireland; and the approach of seeing how it may have affected the Blair and Clinton households gives the film an interesting and original extra dimension. The performances as a whole are good; Dennis Quaid grows into his role of Clinton well, and Michael Sheen is decent, if a little meek as Tony Blair; whilst the supporting cast (Hope Davis in particular) are very solid. 'The Special Relationship' is also a film which looks great, especially on Blu-Ray; with it's panoramic shots of the White House, the intimate scenes of Downing Street's kitchen, and the faux-'90s press-conference style footage. Though there's nothing incredible about 'The Special Relationship', it is a very good and insightful political piece that will strongly appeal to anyone interested in the PM/President political dynamic, or politics in general.


Friends Season 1 - Extended Edition [DVD] [2004]
Friends Season 1 - Extended Edition [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Aniston
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £7.93

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 10 Sept. 2011
'Friends' was one of those shows that managed to get into its stride almost instantly, and after a slightly awkward Pilot episode, Season 1 offers some of 'Friends' funniest moments, as well as some of its best written and most affecting serious issues; from Ross' break-up with his wife Carol, to, Monica's frustration over her opening-episode date with the philandering 'Paul the Wine Guy', and beyond. Though most people will have likely seen 'Friends' before, for the uninitiated, the show begins in the mid-1990s, set around six friends living in New York City, and dealing with the search for work, and the more personal search for love and happiness, and almost all (at this stage) sporting some pretty cheesy '90s haircuts. For fans returning to take a trip back through the earliest year of 'Friends', don't worry, it's every bit as good as you remembered. From Monica handing out free lasagne to a man she hates, to Ross' pining after Rachel, there are some of the show's most enjoyable moments in here, and the episodes are consistently very well written and deft. Definitely reccomended.


Calvin Coolidge (American Presidents (Times))
Calvin Coolidge (American Presidents (Times))
by David Greenberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good introduction to 'Silent Cal', 4 Sept. 2011
Ruling over the prosperity boom of the `Roaring Twenties', from 1923-29, Calvin Coolidge, nicknamed `Silent Cal' for his quiet demeanour, was a president both assuredly old-fashioned and strikingly modern, championing both the hard-work ethic and values of honesty of the 19th century rural Vermont he grew up in, whilst also being a strong advocate of big-business, and a trickle-down economy (believing that prosperity from big business would come down to the lower classes, to make them financially better-off as well). Greenberg provides a very good portrait of these two sides of Coolidge's personal and political persona, and explains concisely but thoroughly, why Coolidge was so popular with the Americans of his era, but why, after the turmoil of the `Great Depression', he has been a figure discared and discredited by many. Coolidge is a far more complex figure than he has been portrayed by many historians and critics since, and Greenberg evokes very well, the multi-faceted nature of Coolidge, as well as the pros and cons of his economic vision, his tentative foreign policy, and his manipulation of newspaper, radio, and other media, to gain wide support with the people of the USA.

Though this is a very good, and succinct biography, which tells the story of Coolidge's life and politics well; whilst challenging previous, oversimplified views of the man; there are a few flaws. Firstly, Greenberg spends a little too much of the book trying to unravel Coolidge's persona from his shy, protective shell, and thus sometimes this begins to engulf the political analysis a little. Additionally, the book quotes too much from wits and satirists of the time, instead of within the Coolidge camp itself, which devalues the attempts to portray Coolidge as more than his stereotypes, a little. Still, these are fairly minor flaws in a succinct, enjoyable and enlightening portrait of an unfairly forgotten President, and a fascinating and balanced portrait of a lost America.


Jimmy Carter (American Presidents)
Jimmy Carter (American Presidents)
by Julian E. Zelizer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.80

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The unconventional leader, 30 Aug. 2011
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Born into humble origins in the southern state of Georgia, Jimmy Carter was one of the United States most unlikely, most unorthodox, and most compelling presidents; and Julian Zelizer's biography does well to do justice to the life and career of Carter in 150 pages. This biography is generally focused on Carter's political career, and though the text does deal engagingly with Carter's upbringing in rural Georgia, his mixed fortunes in the navy, and relationship with his wife Rosalynn, they are issues which mostly remain in the background once the text moves into the realm of Carter's political career. Zelizer writes very well on Carter's campaign to win the Democratic election, and his accounts of where and why Carter succeeded in the Democratic election, and which demographics he appealed to, is one of the most fascinating sections of the book. Zelizer also writes well, and is even-handed in his assessment of Carter's presidency; dealing even-handedly with everything from Carter's attempt to radically reform US energy imports and consumption, to the struggle to bring home the hostages from Iran, and Carter's failure to rejuvinate a failing economy. In truth, there are no poor sections of the text, and this is a concise, informative and largely enjoyable work. The only minor criticisms I have of the book; are the fact that Zelizer seems to have conducted few interviews with those involved in Carter's life, and thus the text sometimes feels a bit distant, and perhaps even cobbled together; and that he fails to provide a successful summation of Carter's time in power; though he does provide a very good overview of the Carter years in the book as a whole. For those looking to learn more about Carter, or just for a good political biography, I would definitely reccomend Julian Zelizer's 'Jimmy Carter'.


My Nigeria: Five Decades of Independence
My Nigeria: Five Decades of Independence
by Peter Cunliffe-Jones
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A varied history of Africa's giant, 13 Aug. 2011
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Interspersing family history with telling interviews and personal insight into the condition of independent Nigeria, Peter Cunliffe-Jones has achieved here, a detailed and informative, but also intimate and enjoyable portrait of Africa's giant. On the personal side, Cunliffe-Jones tells the stories of his ancestral cousin, Edward Spenser-Burns, a well-travelled opportunist who visited Nigeria during his service acquiring Congolese territories for King Leopold's Belgium, and of the author's grandfather Sir Hugo Marshall, who was heavily involved with the drawing up of Nigeria's constitution for independence; a well-intentioned but misguided constitution, which he gradually developed strong misgivings about. In these family histories, there is a good level of detail, and it is fascinating to see such clear accounts of a Nigeria and Congo which naturally differ to the regions as they are today. Most importantly though, Cunliffe-Jones refuses to give their stories a sugar-coating because of their family connections, and thus his portraits are firm and fascinating depictions of two decent, but somewhat misinformed figures, who did more damage than good to the regions they were posted to.

The book flits between these tales, and Cunliffe-Jones' potted histories of Nigeria, as well as his own musings on the region, and interviews he conducted in Nigeria. Though he tackles each of these facets of the book, in an interesting and enjoyable manner; the threads of his narratives seem to clash a little too much, and the book sways rather too much between different stories, and issues at times. The book's other downside is the fact that some of the material in the later, issue-specific chapters of the book, on issues like Corruption and Oil, go over some of the material discussed earlier in the book, a little unnecessarily. Still, these are minor qualms. Cunliffe-Jones' interviews are solid and inquisitive, the histories he gives of post-colonialist issues like Biafra, are concise and well-grounded, and his style is likeable and readable, if without a real flourish. All in all, this is a very good book on the politics, problems and people of both colonialist and post-colonialist Nigeria; one of the most populous and most misunderstood regions in the world. For students of the region, or for those with an interest in the Nigeria, or just looking for a good African history, I would definitely recommend 'My Nigeria'.


Friends Season 3 - Extended Edition [DVD]
Friends Season 3 - Extended Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Aniston
Offered by Rapid-DVD
Price: £14.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They'll be there for you..., 11 Aug. 2011
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With the show firmly in it's stride, Season 3 provides some of 'Friends' very best moments, in a season which is consistently funny, engaging and often genuinely heartwarming. From Ross' Princess Leia fantasy to Monica's accidental purchase of a racecar bed, Season 3 is never short on laughs, and would be worth a purchase for some of the brilliant quips and hilariously awkward situations alone. But this is also one of 'Friends' best seasons as regards more serious moments, and character development, with issues like Monica trying to get over her break up with Richard, Ross' and Rachel''s moving and tumultuous relationship, and some new situations for pretty much everyone else. There's nothing really to moan about here, at all. The episodes are pretty much all superb, the DVD quality is fine, and though the extras aren't particularly great, there are still a few decent interactive features. For those new to the show, you'll enjoy this, though I would suggest beginning with Season 1; and for those returning to a show they know and love, don't worry, Season 3 of 'Friends' is every bit as good as you've remembered.


Prime Minister Box Set: Douglas Home (20th Century PM)
Prime Minister Box Set: Douglas Home (20th Century PM)
by David Dutton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Home Rule, 3 Aug. 2011
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Prime Minister from October 1963-October 1964, Alec Douglas-Home was the first Lord to have taken the position of Prime Minister in over half a century, but is a figure little discussed in analyses of 20th century British Politics, and a figure entirely unknown to many Britons. David Dutton's confident, informative and enjoyable short biography (from Haus' Publishing's '20 Prime Ministers of the 20th Century series) attempts to put that right. Dutton offers a good insight into Lord Home's persona and politics, evoking well Home's genuine kindness and firm beliefs, softened by good manners; as well as his attempts to move the Conservative party further to the right-wing than had previously been the case. Dutton writes particularly well on Home's first period as Foreign Minister, as well as on his initial attempts to gain a seat in Scotland; and the wealth of detail and interesting anecdote in this part of the text is superb.

There are a few issues, however, with Dutton's text. Most notably, the 20 page 'Assessment' section, the last part of the biography, feels too much like the author is just trying to fill pages, and unnecessarily repeats quite a lot of the material and points already used in the text. Equally, the section on Home's premiership is also a little disappointing. Whilst preparation for the election against Wilson was definitely at the heart of Home's year as Prime Minister, very little is mentioned in terms of Home's wider ambition were he to win the election, and also focuses too little on the issues he tried to involve himself with whilst in government. Still, these flaws are not enough to marr the fact that Dutton's introduction to Lord Home, is, for the most part highly informative, entertaining and eminently readable. For those looking for a short, but authoritative introduction to one of a largely forgotten, but important figure of 20th century British Politics, Dutton's 'Douglas-Home' is the best book available.


Rules of Engagement: Complete Third Season [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Rules of Engagement: Complete Third Season [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by Moref Designs
Price: £17.44

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good season from one of the better current sitcoms, 1 Aug. 2011
Fresh, funny and with just the right amount of sentimentality, 'The Rules of Engagement' is one of the best current US sitcoms, and the show's third season is probably its most promising to date. Starring Patrick Warburton and Megyn Price as bantering thirty-something couple Jeff and Audrey Bingham, Oliver Hudson and Bianca Kajlich as their neighbours and younger couple Adam and Jen, and David Spade and Adhir Kalyan; as the sex-obsessed Russell, and his long-suffering assistant Timmy; the show's setup works well, and the show's plotlines and character setup is fairly similar to 'Friends', and in particular, to 'How I Met Your Mother'. The style of comedy is fairly broad, and the show is never cutting edge as such, but there laughs are consistent (Audrey and Timmy's secret car meeting about Russell in 'Poaching Timmy' providing possibly the best laugh-out-loud moment of the series), and though Jeff is still prone to foot-in-mouth comments, and Adam to effeminate mannerisms; the characters are never one-dimensional, and there is definite character growth in the show (which is always important in a sitcom). 'The Rules of Engagement' might not be the most revolutionary or inventive sitcom on TV, but it has all the right ingredients of snappy one-liners, funny but plausible plotlines, and surprising twists to make it well worth watching. For those who've seen the first two seasons, you'll find plenty more to like here, and for those new to the show, I'd suggest beginning with Season 1; but all in all, Season 3 of 'The Rules of Engagement' is definitely worth a purchase.


Phaic Tan: Sunstroke on a Shoestring [jetlag travel guide]
Phaic Tan: Sunstroke on a Shoestring [jetlag travel guide]
by Santo Cilauro
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent spoof, 31 July 2011
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Following Jetlag's guide to the hilariously unsanitary and wonderfully bizarre nation of 'Molvania', comes the guide to the pastiche South-East Asian nation of 'Phaic Tan'. 'Molvania''s consistently hlarious musings on weird local traditions, (lack of) health and safety and hilarious oddball history is the general foundation for 'Phaic Tan''s content, but despite being sporadically very funny, this guide fails to hit the heights of its predecessor. There are quite a few genuine laugh-out-loud moments in 'Phaic Tan', from its incompetent health service ("If you do get sick in Phaic Tan the best thing to do is phone home and confirm that you have made a will"), the punishment of criminals, which includes "teaching English as a second language" and the country's questionable kids clubs/child labour camps; but these sort of comedy gems aren't as consistently visible as in 'Molvania'. Equally, some of the book's ideas seem a bit overused, or don't quite work. The tips on 'Luxury Travel' are fairly short on jokes, and oddly serious-sounding, the inclusions from moaning travel writer Phillippe Miserere aren't as fresh as in 'Phaic Tan''s predecessor, and some of the captioned photographs aren't particularly funny. 'Phaic Tan' is still well worth a purchase for those looking for a comic antidote to the often sugar-coated depictions of 'Lonely Planet' and 'Rough Guide', and this is a good coffee table book to dip into, but those who read and enjoyed 'Molvania' will probably find themselves a little frustrated with it's follow-up's inconsistency.


Heath (20 British Prime Ministers of the 20th Century)
Heath (20 British Prime Ministers of the 20th Century)
by Denis MacShane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb introduction to Heath, 24 July 2011
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Prime Minister from 1970-74, Ted Heath's political career, and most notably his time as PM, have been overshadowed by his more enigmatic and hard-lined successor Margaret Thatcher; but Denis Macshane's superb little biography is a very useful, much needed, and highly entertaining review and re-assessment of the Heath years. The text deals confidently and fairly with issues such as Heath's attempts to bring Britain into the EEC (now European Union), his Government's struggles over the issue of Home Rule in Ireland, and his (more personal) decent, if unsuccessful attempts at negotiations with Britain's left-wing Unions. Macshane's style of writing on these issues is impressive, with the book going at a decent pace, whilst including much interesting factual information and solid analysis of Heath; whilst remaining very readable. The book is split into sections, but unlike those in most of Haus Publishing's other '20 Prime Ministers of the 20th Century' collection, Heath's years as PM are dealt with by issues, as opposed to chronologically; which helps the reader get a clearer idea of his policy implementation, without issues constantly tripping over each other, as is sometimes the case in other volumes in the series. Overall, there's much to like, and very little to fault in this useful and enjoyable introduction to Ted Heath; which provides a clear and concise insight into an often forgotten or misunderstood leader, and the political and social background that surrounded his time in politics, as well as his personal life. Definitely reccomended.


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