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M. Wilkinson (Portsmouth, Hampshire)
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Hk119
Hk119
Price: 5.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The bleeding edge of retro!, 1 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Hk119 (Audio CD)
Yeah ok, cutting edge retro is a bit of an oxymoron. Nevertheless in her stylings and vocals, the Finnish vocalist harkens back to Kate Bush and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The album is great fun to listen to, the songs are very accessible, being about modern life. The second track 'Friend for Dinner' reminds one inescapably of Anthony Hopkins final line in The Silence of the Lambs' as Hannibal Lector when he says he is having an old friend for dinner. The lyrics go 'She's alive, alive and hungry, she's so hungry she'll be having an old friend for dinner tonight'. Another song 'In-valid' is about some sort of computer or shopping problem and its amusing for its literalness 'I feel so valid, why do they tell me I'm an in-valid member?'.

The music aside from the vocals is modern and has a lot of sample noises and speech which doesn't detract from the music. She's certainly not as popular as she deserves to be. This is a great little album that you'll almost certainly enjoy and then find yourself wanting to tell people about her.


Ritual Union
Ritual Union
Price: 15.09

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great album, 24 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Ritual Union (Audio CD)
I first heard of this band from their collaboration with the Gorillaz on the album 'Plastic Beach'. The I discovered the moving video for 'Twice' on Youtube and I thought 'I have to hear more from this group'.

I only just learned today that this album is their 3rd, listening to it and the album simply called 'Little Dragon' I'd assumed that Ritual Union was an earlier album because it is more minimalist, maybe a tiny bit more experimental. Its good to know that they're looking to make their sound even more avante guarde and not just try to please a larger mainstream audience.

The band's sound is mainly due to the understated and husky lyrics of Yukimi Nagano. The album uses a variety of beats and melodies and there's only as many instruments as are necessary, nevermore. Songs like 'Summertearz' are striking due to a beat which is reminiscent of some 'world' music from South Africa. All in all the album has a haunting quality and a sad tone but the music is beautiful. Well worth a listen.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 4, 2013 12:04 PM BST


Absolute Midnight(Books of Abarat 3)
Absolute Midnight(Books of Abarat 3)
by Clive Barker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.00

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but somehow also a little disappointing, 24 Oct 2011
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I found this book hard to put down. After a ridiculous wait when I wondered if Clive Barker would ever finish the series I heard rumours that the book was nearly complete and a few months later here it is. The book picks straight up after the end of two. Without any spoilers, characters you probably expected to return, do return. Its a dark book and death - though not for any of the main characters - is frequent throughout. I bet any film company thinking of securing the rights to a movie version would be troubled by the events in this, the third book of the abarat.

So what was wrong? Well, despite it being a decently long book and despite following two others, the events in it still felt a tiny bit rushed. The setting up of various characters like Rojo Pixler and the heroes, like Finnegan sees little development. Only Mater Motley gets much time but she is pretty much pure evil so there isn't much of a way for her character to grow. Pixler the ambitious founder of Commexo city in particular is given short thrift and though a lot happens to him (again no spoilers) it feels like too much, too quickly and with a huge number of unanswered questions. The rising of the Requiax, the coming of the darkness, it all seems to come a bit too quickly and although the descriptions across the islands leaves no doubt as to how horrible it all is for the inhabitants of the abarat it still feels a little like 2 books squeezed in to a single one.

I wonder if after such a long delay Barker was under some pressure just to get a book out - its still Barker and has the same taste and as many wonders as the other volumes but to me, the whole book had a rushed feel and the cliff-hanger ending is excruciating, considering how long we might have to wait for a 4th instalment. If you're new to the Islands of the Abarat then its a wonderful, spell-binding book, no question, but I can only really review it in the context of the other volumes. The first starts at a good place, and the second continues it, but here things seemed to get a little out of control. Hopefully 'The Dynasty of Dreamers' (as it will be called) will be at least as long and find the time to clear up many unresolved issues.


Three Idiots [DVD]
Three Idiots [DVD]
Dvd ~ Aamir Khan
Offered by SUPREME DVD LTD
Price: 12.19

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply moving masterpiece, 4 May 2011
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This review is from: Three Idiots [DVD] (DVD)
This is a wonderful film which transcends labels like 'Asian Cinema' or 'Bollywood' and indeed, you don't need to be a fan of either to get a lot out of this film though at the very least, you should not mind subtitles too much. If you can get past that you will get to see one of the greatest films of your life, on a par with movies like Shawshank Redemption that are just classic feelgood movies.

The story is that two friends and a rival of theirs meet up hoping to meet their friend Rancho who vanished after going to the same engineering college with them. The days when they met him, getting to know him and all their adventures and shared experiences is displayed using flashbacks, there are a few songs but not many, and not enough to distract from the plot of the occasional song and dance is not your cup of tea.

There is a serious side to the movie which is easy to ignore, the theme of the pressures inherent in Indian society, boys should become engineers, girls should become doctors and the resultingly high suicide rates among students there. Even the caste system is scorned by Rancho and his open and vibrant philosophy of doing what you love.

I found the film amusing but not hilarious its just such a great journey and you have time over the 170 minutes (It won't feel that long) to feel like you're one of them and the ending itself is about as neat and happy as anyone could want. I watched it recently on Channel 4 (It prompted me to own a copy) and the subtitles on the dvd version are not quite as good in some bits but it probably won't detract from the movie at all.

The acting is great from everyone except maybe Chatur whose toadying and boasting may have been a little overdone. Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor are the male and female leads and are perfect for their roles. If this gives you a taste for Indian movies a nice follow up might be 'Asoka', 'My Name is Khan' or 'Like Stars on Earth' / 'Ghajini' if you want to see more of Aamir Khan, though I can't comment on the latter two as I haven't yet seen them.

Coming back to look at this review a few weeks after I posted it I wonder if I praised it highly enough. I mean for better or worse, people give 5 stars to films they liked quite a lot, I've done the same - so what do you give those movies that are truly magical and wonderful and stand head and shoulders above so many other 'good' films? Despite the length of this movie I've watched it at least 10 times by now, and could happily watch it without the subtitles since I know all the lines. Still, I plan to watch it many more times, and introduce all my friends to it.

Almost everyone will enjoy this modern classic and its a great family film. Watch this film as soon as you can.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 4, 2013 2:05 PM GMT


Return to the 36th Chamber [DVD] [1980] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Return to the 36th Chamber [DVD] [1980] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Chia-Hui Liu
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: 1.96

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic martial arts movie, a true Shaw Bros classic, 1 Feb 2011
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This is, technically, a sequel. That might be obvious from the title but the film doesn't seem like a sequel so finding it after enjoying it so many years ago was not easy. In fact, it was the third film with the phrase '36th chamber' in it that I bought. The first film ( The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin [DVD] [1983] )starred Gordon Liu (or Chia Hui Liu)of KILL BILL 1 & 2 fame as San Te, who founds the 36th Chamber and takes revenge on some Manchus (The Chinese love their scapegoats, luckily its not the English this time) in this sequel, San Te makes an appearence, but played by someone else and Gordon Liu plays Chu Jen-chieh; a conman who imitates San Te. Confused?

Its not that convoluted, especially if you forget about the earlier film and watch this as a self-contained movie, which is essentially what it is. There are some great ideas in it, notably the idea of learning martial arts without being aware that that's what you're doing - a notion made much more famous in the 80's with the release of Karate Kid [DVD] [1984] though this does it well and maybe with more humour. In fact there is quite a lot of comedy in the film, from Chu's doomed attempt to portray a shaolin monk to his realisation that he does indeed know some kung fu. As martial arts comedies go the only thing better might be the amazing Kung Fu Hustle [DVD] [2005] - but back to this one, this is a great movie, good action, good comedy and everything you want from a cheesy late 70's (it was actually 1980 but you know what I mean) Shaw Brothers movie.

Get it!


D&AD 2010, the Best Advertising and Design in the World
D&AD 2010, the Best Advertising and Design in the World
by D&AD
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Right format?, 10 Jan 2011
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This is a nicely presented volume which is to be expected from Taschen. I got the previous volume, the first that time that Taschen had printed the award winners from the prestigious D&AD awards. Some doubts I'd had from the first volume came back more strongly this time though so let me explain why I haven't given this a higher mark. The first problem is that although a book for illustration and graphic design awards can be delicious eye candy, the examples in this book tend to use more and therefore smaller pictures which makes it harder to fully appreciate the detail in these works. The second problem is that many of the awards are not for work presented in such ways, direct marketing, radio advertising (transcripts are provided but these have little impact) and TV commercials. Some of the commercials from the previous volume were hilarious when I watched them - but I had to watch them on Youtube, you can't get it from looking at the book.

If you're looking for graphic design 'Contemporary Graphic Design' is a great book, or 'Illustration Now' in several volumes (Illustration Now! 3: Vol. 3 is my favourite) but if you want to see the D&AD awards in the various mediums they have a list of the award winners on their website then you can look up the various different names to see what they're all about. Might not look as good on your book shelf but maybe you could make some room for something else.


Asian Graphics Now!
Asian Graphics Now!
by Julius Wiedemann
Edition: Paperback
Price: 24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great little window in to Asian graphic design, 17 Dec 2010
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This review is from: Asian Graphics Now! (Paperback)
The format carries on from the popular 'Illustration Now' series (no.3 is excellent if you're in to illustration) but this is more about graphic design. What I appreciated best about the volume is that unlike comparable books out at the moment it is not just a showcase of Japanese products, drink cans, cereal boxes etc but a look at more artistic and creative side of graphic design. Some of the work inspired me by their simplicity and elegance and some of it was interesting from a purely photographic point of view. Its an excellent coffee table book for anyone interested in graphic design, not just specifically design from Asia. I only take off a star because its such a brief glimpse in to an enormous field but if there's going to another couple of volumes then even that may not apply. A nice addition to a graphic design collection.


Fatal Contact [2006] [DVD]
Fatal Contact [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jacky Wu Jing
Price: 15.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 7 out of 10 good martial arts flick but not great, 17 Dec 2010
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This review is from: Fatal Contact [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
I gave 3 stars but I'd consider it about 7 out of 10, though I don't think I could round up this time as the problems stop it being an 8 out of 10 movie. Jacky Ju Wing has been described as the next Jet Li but his rather boyish face renders him unsuitable for many serious roles and he does not have Jet Li's on screen presence or charisma. The martial arts fights in the movie are very good but the plot where he is manipulated by a woman who he takes to be his friend seems to distract, rather than enhance the action and you might wish at the end that they had taken out the fights and transplanted them in to a movie with a better plot. If you want to see him do some amazing fights in a movie with a powerful plot and strong performances you only need to look as far as 'Kill Zone' an excellent new film with Donnie Yuen and Sammo Hung where Wing plays a talented assassin.


Modern Warfare 2: Ghost
Modern Warfare 2: Ghost
by David Lapham
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice art but it takes more than that, 16 Dec 2010
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To be fair the story is not that bad, told as a story by a hostage, the character 'ghost' himself known from Modern Warfare 2. The artwork is very good and the action is frequent, there is even a nice attempt at explaining the backstory in poetic terms with bones a recurring theme. What I feel lets it down too much is the sudden lack of mystery - you may find out more about the character than you wanted to know. I assumed that with a masked character known only as ghost you might like a little bit of mystique preserved, but no, you'll find out which regiment he's from, his real name and his family life in the space of this volume. Still its fairly entertaining and if you like graphic novels and Call of Duty, you'll like this too.


Call of Duty: Black Ops (Wii)
Call of Duty: Black Ops (Wii)
Offered by Acrodeal UK
Price: 8.13

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 out of 10 - Probably the best FPS on the Wii, 16 Dec 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
The graphics are better than Modern Warfare but slightly more cartoony in terms of colour gradients which may or may not be to your taste. I'll start talking about multiplayer because that's what most people will play to get the most out of the game. I probably spent about 10 hours playing single player in COD4 whereas the multiplayer online kept me entertained for at least ten times that so this should be no different. Aside from the different game types such as deathmatch, free-for-all, demolition etc you can now play wager matches which are great fun. I've only just discovered 'sharp shooter' where you all have the same guns and they cycle every 45 seconds. The large variety of customisation makes for some fun character class building but because of the grind involved in getting the pro versions of the perks (similar to MW2 which we didn't get on Wii) you may not relish that, especially if you're going to prestige and lose them all when you've only just got a few of them. There's some good maps and the perks are actually very well balanced - no stopping power, so you'll have to get used to putting a few more bullets in to your adversary before they go down. Combat training allows you to play against AI's and setting them to the easiest difficulty might allow you to burn off some stress after an unsuccessful session against real players - Its a bit of a pain that you need to be online to use combat training, but there you go.

The single player campaign is well designed, it really weaves a tale of cold war conspiracies ably helped by some good voice performances from Sam Worthington (of Avatar fame) Ed Harris and reprising his role as Reznov; Gary Oldman. There are some nice twists which you won't expect, however on replay some of the cutscenes seem to drag on and you don't have the ability to skip them all. Still, the level design is fun and some stand out for action and strong plot combined with challenging play, the level 'Vorkuta' springs to mind featuring a prison break, but you might also enjoy running across the rooftops of Hong Kong while fighting off Spetsnaz troops in 'Numbers', or creeping through dense Vietnam jungle or crawling through its tunnels fighting off the VC. A couple of parts seem very difficult and make you go for too long without a checkpoint but I was playing it on Hardened so that was kind of bound to happen since I'm not that great at shooters anyway. One part though where you have to use barrels filled with napalm or petrol isn't at all clear and may have you pulling your hair out because the enemy has infinite spawns until you can push up the map.

Finally, zombies are back! Better than that, now you can attempt to defeat the undead hordes with 3 cohorts online or offline - tackle them solo. This is great fun, difficult, if you die, you're right back to the start but that's the challenge and there are even weapons you don't get in the other game types, futuristic (though retro-fashioned) blasters like the Ray Gun or Thunder Gun.

So why 9 out of 10? Well some of the things missing from the Wii version didn't need or deserve to be taken out. X-Box or Playstation gamers will be able to tackle zombies on the 'Five' map set at the Pentagon and featuring an unlikely cast of zombie battlers, but on the Wii? Sorry that map is unavailable. Also getting out of the chair in the intro screen works on the wii but don't expect to play Dead Ops Arcade like on the other versions. Don't expect Valkyrie rockets or Chopper Gunner or Gunship kill streaks or flame thrower attachments on your guns (didn't flame throwers work in world at war on the wii?) and this is one of the worst, because the amount of data saved from this must have been minute - no facepaint, emblems or custom reticles. Still, its an excellent game and has a lot to keep you busy and challenged.


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