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Magicalthinking (London, U.K)

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Longtime Companion [DVD]
Longtime Companion [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stephen Caffrey
Price: £5.48

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An underseen classic of American cinema, 11 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Longtime Companion [DVD] (DVD)
I've loved Longtime Companion ever since I first watched it as a teenager in the mid-90's and it loses none of it's power rewatch after rewatch.

It follows a group of mostly gay friends in New York over eight years in the 1980's as they initially become aware of HIV and AIDS and subsequently how the disease makes a devastating impact on all of their lives. Norman Rene's direction is unobtrusive and Craig Lucas's script is insightful, occasionally hilarious, non-preachy and has excellent characterisation. Something else I love about this film is that with this material, the script and performances could have easily veered into mawkish territory at times but they never do. Acting-wise, a terrific ensemble of actors are in this film and Bruce Davison more than earned his Oscar nomination - his `let go' scene is incredibly poignant. I would say that the single greatest thing about this film is that you care immensely about the characters, which is why the last five minutes has such a massive impact, a great tribute to Lucas's magnificent screenplay. It's perhaps the most moving scene I've ever seen in a film. I won't say anymore about it but be prepared!

No extras whatsoever but the film speaks for itself.

It's a really wonderful film - an emotional celebration of friendship, beautifully realised. I only wish I could give it more stars!

Leonard Maltin's 2011 Movie Guide (Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide)
Leonard Maltin's 2011 Movie Guide (Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide)
by Leonard Maltin
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable! Every one I've had gets well used, 10 Feb. 2011
I've been getting his movie guide most years going back since 1992 and it's so invaluable, whether you want to see what he thinks of your favourites, or what I do more often, which is to check reviews in this book of obscure films I quite fancy watching but aren't sure about. None of the reviews are in-depth but that's not really the point of this book. They're concise, often funny, and always informative and the film index of stars and directors, past and present, is really useful too.

Baking Made Easy
Baking Made Easy
by Lorraine Pascale
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

22 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It could have been so much better, 26 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Baking Made Easy (Hardcover)
I really feel this was, on the whole, quite a missed opportunity from Lorraine.

The presentation of the book is quite dull and plain so with that and the lack of pictures I sense a rush job here. It could have done with some illustrations and more colour. Exactly half of the 100 recipes have photos and I don't imagine this being helpful in a book that will inevitably mainly appeal to less experienced bakers simply by virtue of the book's title. There's a little too many photos of Lorraine also, which is a bit distracting and tacky.

What's going on with the inclusion of the eleven recipes that aren't baked? They're either cooked on the hob, chilled in the fridge or both, or in the case of the chocolate and raspberry swirl cheesecake, it's just a matter of putting the ingredients together with no cooking involved at all. This is a book about baking and Lorraine says in her introduction that she `wanted to offer a series of recipes to showcase the magical chemistry of baking' so why are they are in here? I might have been a little more forgiving if Lorraine had mentioned at any point in the book about why they're in here but she doesn't. Perhaps she just didn't have 100 baking recipes ready before her deadline and shoehorned these in instead. If so that's fine, but she should have said something in the book. As C.M Dunne said earlier, it's totally misleading to have these in a book about baking.

Most of the recipes have been done before many times and therefore would appeal more to beginners. Not keen on some of them at all - grated cheese lollipops for a dinner party? Much more suited for a children's party, surely? And vol-au-vants? Who wants all that puff pastry crumbling down your clothes when you're with company? Nothing much original here at all in here and I wouldn't recommend this for experienced cooks, not buying it anyway. But last night I cooked the hazelnut and lemon Madeleines as I've never seen this recipe before and wanted to do something super-quick after work. Lovely, and good as petit-fours, as she says. I look forward to trying the baked butternut squash with quinoa, feta, basil and mint. The instructions for the Madeleines and all the other ones I read in the book, including some of the fairly tricky ones, were no more `easier' to understand than in the recipes of most other food writers.

A baking cookbook that will mostly appeal to beginners should have a section on the equipment you need, why you need it, and stockists for it all but this doesn't. Tips for each of the recipes should have been included here too in a separate section on the recipe's page (though there are general tips at the beginning), and a glossary also.

Why no note about using free range eggs and some organic ingredients? It seems a bit strange not to have mentioned these for issues surrounding ethics, health and taste as most cooks do these days. If Lorraine doesn't believe in using them then she should really say.

I've always thought that the belief that baking is difficult is a fallacy. You just need a book that's well written, comprehensive and from an erudite author with as many pictures of the recipes as possible to give you the guidance and there's loads out there already that provide this. Best of the bunch in my opinion are Mary Berry's Baking Bible and Bake. It feels like Lorraine's tried to appeal to the novices and experienced cooks but I think she should have focused on one or the other. If you're interested in the book then I would get it from the library if you can as I did or buy a better all-round baking book.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2011 12:12 PM GMT

What Would Audrey Do?: Timeless Lessons for Living with Grace & Style: Timeless Lessons for Living with Grace and Style
What Would Audrey Do?: Timeless Lessons for Living with Grace & Style: Timeless Lessons for Living with Grace and Style
by Pamela Keogh
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful, charming, and inspiring gem of a book, 23 Jan. 2011
I accidentally stumbled upon this book a couple of years ago one rainy Saturday afternoon while I was browsing in a bookstore and I've read it three times since. There's very few books I have the inclination to read more than once but this is one of them.

The chapters cleverly combine biography with tips on how and why to emulate Audrey Hepburn, including things on her fashion sense, her spirit, her home, and her relationships. It's clear that Pamela is a huge fan and has really done her homework yet her tone isn't deferential. I love the ten gorgeous illustrations of Audrey by Monika Roe that begin each chapter and they're really the icing on the cake of this divine book, which is masses of fun to read. It's informative too and never worthy or pretentious.

Buy it (it would make a wonderful gift), or at least get it from your library. You don't need to be earning movie star-type big bucks to take alot away from this book. As Pamela says in the introduction, 'don't you think we could all use some Audrey in our lives, right now?'

Judi Dench: And Furthermore
Judi Dench: And Furthermore
by Judi Dench
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings from a fan..., 14 Jan. 2011
I think this works best for someone with a slight or mild interest in Judi, really. She skips over so much and so I feel that hardcore fans like myself are short changed. I did find out some new things that I didn't know from Scenes From My Life and With a Crack in Her Voice by John Miller (the best of the three, which she and her family helped with), especially from the past few years but not a great deal. As a book about her life and work it's a bit of a let down. Yes, you can feel her voice coming out strongly, which as she says in the preface is one reason why she chose to do this, and a lovely one it is too - reassuring, funny, affectionate and occasionally mischevious. But I don't feel it justifies another book and as for the gaps she says in the preface that were in John Miller's book, well, there aren't that many and I feel Judi is being somewhat disingenous when she says that this is another reason for agreeing to do this book. It's certainly a very readable book but I can't help feeling it's a little redundant.

Gizzi's Kitchen Magic
Gizzi's Kitchen Magic
by Gizzi Erskine
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

40 of 68 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yet another beginner's book with not enough magic!, 12 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Gizzi's Kitchen Magic (Hardcover)
If you're like many and have at least one Delia book and a couple of Jamie's or somesuch then this book is not for you. Virtually all of the recipes here have been done to death and it's hard to say who this book would appeal to - maybe first jobbers straight out of University probably not familiar with the classics and some of the basics. I appreciate that Gizzi wanted to present some classics and basics but there's nowhere near enough a balance of these and her original recipes. Talking of recipes, her millionaire's shortbread with rosemary-infused salted caramel feels and looks uncomfortably close to the chocolate and salted caramel squillionaire recipe by her ex-colleague Harry Eastwood as featured in her book, Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache.

I like the tips and tricks sections that begin each food chapter, again good for beginners but nothing new here all in all.

Jamie Oliver did the same kind of thing with much more style and knowledge in his Cook with Jamie book a few years ago. This is just too generic and ordinary to really take off.

Also, the book wasn't published until 4th March so I'm puzzled as to how the six or seven reviewers who submitted their glowing reviews before this date got hold of this book? And of all the glowing reviews, most of them are by reviewers who've never reviewed anything before on amazon....
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2011 12:38 PM GMT

Fay's Family Food: Delicious Recipes Where One Meal Feeds Everyone. Whatever Age!
Fay's Family Food: Delicious Recipes Where One Meal Feeds Everyone. Whatever Age!
by Fay Ripley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fay Ripley - who knew she could cook?! This is fantastic!, 7 Jun. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is one of the most useful cookery books I've used for a while. Fay's lovely writing, clearly influenced by Jamie Oliver, is so encouraging, funny and warm and she uses pretty much very accessible ingredients.

Now onto the food - well I must confess that I don't have children but have tested the recipes with a friend who enjoyed what I made from Fay's book as much as I did. These were the pasta bake, tomato risotto, apple cake and the utterly heavenly lemon drizzle cake which believe me is the absolute business. I simply haven't tasted one quite like it before and everything what I cooked from the book didn't take long to do at all. Actually I did all four within a week and I've never cooked that amount of recipes from one book within that time before ever. I know that this is one cookbook that won't be sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

My only quibble is that a tiny minority of the recipes are a little bit too basic. I also could have done without the plug for two of her mates' book, by the same publisher. Hmmmmmm...

For a first time cookery book I'm so impressed and I look forward hugely to her next one.

Neris and India's Idiot-Proof Diet: From Pig to Twig
Neris and India's Idiot-Proof Diet: From Pig to Twig
by India Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

45 of 77 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problematic but worth a look through, 10 Jan. 2008
I bought this book as I need to lose a couple of stones and like India's writing and her observations on Grumpy Old Women. Another selling point were the before and after pictures of Neris and India, who both now look terrific. But not long into it I realised their diet is essentially a new spin on Atkins and now that I've finished the book I feel hugely disappointed. I read alot of books and hardly ever feel compelled to write reviews on amazon but this book annoyed me so much that I just had to express my thoughts.

I love how they write about understanding emotional hunger and how this impacts on putting on weight because let's face it, this is the indirect reason why most of us are carrying around a spare tyre or two. This is definitely an important and pertinent issue that is still not publicised enough - I've been inspired to write my own dieting history and would advise anyone to do the same. Then forget about this diet for the reasons I mention below, cut the calorific foods and drinks to a minimum, move around more, refer often to your dieting history and think about the food you put in your mouth.

I don't approve of a diet that encourages you to consume huge amounts of saturated fats and this is my biggest concern. The number of recipes containing not an insignificant amount of cheese or butter or cream or a combination of these was quite astonishing. We all know how dangerous saturated fats are and the ironic thing is that the authors actually deplore the use of these fats on page 64. How did this get past the editors?

This is a very restrictive diet at first and yes I'm sure you'll get wonderful results in terms of weight loss if you do it. I personally used to eat a colossal amount of carbs and I plan to reduce the amount I consume but not as much as this diet dicatates (and the tone of this book can be very dictatorial). But restricting them as much as they say? No thanks. Eating carbs often - yes even `bad' carbs - can be synonymous with losing weight and keeping it off. Weight Watchers points plan gives you much more choice and anyone who's been to France will have noticed how slim French women generally are. Yet they eat white baguettes, croissants and chocolate often. Mireille Guiliano talks about this in her book French Women Don't Get Fat.

Any diet that requires you to take supplements, especially for at least eleven weeks like this one does, is, frankly, dubious.

I don't have any intentions of following this diet for the three reasons I've mentioned but if I were to I'd probably lose weight at a faster rate than any other diet. I'm addressing my emotional issues with food and now I'm doing Weight Watchers. I've lost 4lbs in one week eating a balanced diet so I would say that if you're considering buying this book and embarking on the diet please think about what the long term implications could be to your health.

More comments on a mostly rubbish book, 19/2/2008:

I notice that no-one has made any positive comments regarding the criticism about the ridiculous use of supplements in this diet.

I also wanted to say that I find the part in the book when the authors belittle anyone who is attracted to big people as a 'weirdo' horribly judgemental, narrow minded and offensive.

I wish I'd waited to get this from the library now.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 4, 2011 10:43 PM BST

Cook Yourself Thin: The Delicious Way to Drop a dress Size
Cook Yourself Thin: The Delicious Way to Drop a dress Size
by Harry Eastwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth buying but a few problems, 31 Aug. 2007
There's some great tips in here and I especially like the lower calorie alternatives to favourite snacks. I've been dieting most of my life and thought I knew it all about healthy eating but I have learned lots of new things. It was a very shrewd move having versions of the classics and I absolutely cannot wait to try the banoffee pie.

I made the lemon and almond cake which annoyingly and inexplicably isn't in the book but you can find it on the website. The taste was great but it hardly rose, certainly not as much as the one featured in the show. I had to let the lemons cool down for a while after cooking otherwise the mixture would 'cook' in the bowl but the recipe doesn't mention this and there's bound to be some novice cooks who put the lemons straight from the hot saucepan into the bowl with the mixture.

As has been noted, gas marks would have been nice.

Ladies, if you get to read this, it's rather frustrating there are no vegetarian dishes in the main meals and meals with friends sections. A few token recipes would have been welcome.

I look forward to trying out more of the recipes in this and the inevitable next book.

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