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Terrahurtz (Kidlington, Oxon)

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The Descendants [DVD]
The Descendants [DVD]
Dvd ~ George Clooney
Price: £3.00

3.0 out of 5 stars worthy but dull, 12 Oct 2014
This review is from: The Descendants [DVD] (DVD)
this is well enough acted but downbeat throughout (perhaps not altogether surprising given the subject matter) and you spend most of the film waiting for something dramatic or interesting to happen, which never does.
Maybe somebody else read the first draft and agreed as the eldest daughter's friend fulfils no dramatic purpose, but seems to have been tacked on to provide some attempt at comic relief (largely failing given the cariciature he has to play).
Clooney carries the film fairly well from an acting standpoint, ably assisted by Woodley, who provides some eye candy for the male audience while she's about it (it's OK to say this, she was 19 when the film was made!). The younger daughter is also good and the cuckolded wife has a very affecting scene 10 minutes from the end.
To paraphrase Michelle of the Resistance, worth watching very carefully, but only once.

The Air That I Breathe: The Very Best Of The Hollies
The Air That I Breathe: The Very Best Of The Hollies
Price: £5.39

3.0 out of 5 stars few strands of chaff with the wheat, 4 Oct 2014
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This has a lot of great pop songs on it, probably 15 or 16, which is some achievement.
I went for this CD over 20 golden greats because it had 'King Midas in Reverse' which the latter doesn't. There are 4 or 5 other tracks that serve to lower the overall quality of the disc though (notably the very last track from the days when prime movers Clarke and Nash had long since departed).
That's not to say there aren't a lot of great tracks on it ('can't let go' and 'stop ,stop, stop' being personal favourites), it's just a mild irritant to have to keep reaching out for the skip button.
The Hollies (with a couple of members left over from the 60s) are still touring today - which is in some ways very sad for a group that hasn't had a hit in over 40 years, but it is also a testament to how good they were in their heyday.

Die Another Day - Special Edition [DVD] [2002]
Die Another Day - Special Edition [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Pierce Brosnan|Halle Berry|Rosamund Pike
Price: £1.40

2.0 out of 5 stars Not one of the best Bond films, 26 Sep 2014
Piece Brosnan was an excellent Bond, but this was his least successful outing.

The plot is on the sillier ide of un-credible, gadgets ditto, and while Halle Berry and the the baddie are OK (but why an Oscar winning actress would want to play a bimbo like this is a moot point), not everyone else is.
John Cleese is the same as he always is whatever the part, Madonna is awful (although is thankfully only in one scene) while Rosamund Pike combines being probably the least attractive Bond 'babe' in the entire canon with one of the most wooden performances. Odd really as she is otherwise a moderately successful actress.
Not bad, but not a patch on Goldeneye.

Our Version of Events [Special Edition: Bonus Tracks]
Our Version of Events [Special Edition: Bonus Tracks]
Price: £5.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning debut, justifies the hype, 5 Sep 2014
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This is an excellent album. Given the ongoing flow of singles from it - last single Clown makes 6 by my reckoning - casual observers will be familiar with nearly half it already. While there are inevitably a few average tracks in here, there are still a few relatively undiscovered gems that could easily make hit singles 7, 8 and 9 if the record company were so inclined, `Daddy' is probably the pick of the remainder, whilst hundreds of millions of people watched her perform John Lennon's `Imagine' at the Olympics' closing ceremony and, given the indestructability of the song, that would no doubt be a hit too.

The $64,000,000 dollar question is whether Sande can succeed where female singer songwriters over the last 40 years from Kiki Dee through Kate Bush, Sade and Judie Tzuke to the present (with the exception of Adele) have tried but failed to produce a follow up as spectacularly good as the breakthrough. It is now nearly 3 yeas since this album came out. The world waits...

Tried & True: The Best Of
Tried & True: The Best Of
Price: £8.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Worth having, although her best days are 25 years behind her, 5 Sep 2014
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I bought her eponymous first album when it came out and pretty good it was too. The second, Solitude Standing, achieved more commercial success, although was IMHO not as good as its predecessor. That, however, was 25 years ago. Since when the trail has gone colder and colder. The repetitive Left of centre, with Joe Jackson on piano, achieved some success but even that was some time ago.
And the problem is that she slipped into obscurity for a reason, namely the later stuff wasn't as good as the first album (or two). The best 4 tracks here are Luka and the three off the first album (Marlene on the Wall, Small Blue Thing and my personal favourite Queen and the Soldier). The very repetitive and rather dull (with or without the disco people) Tom's Diner got a lot of airplay, but is but one of a number of songs with a remarkably limited vocal range. My daughter on listening to this declared 'it sounds like she's just talking' and it has to be said that Vega doesn't have the vocal range or allure of many other female singer song writers of the last 30 years (from Judie Tzuke through to Adele) or even other folk-influenced singers like Joni Mitchell or Sandy Denny for that matter.
Some of the other tracks are quite good. I particularly like Caramel, which has a smoochy late night groove rather untypical of most of her own work, and 99.9%. Apart from Queen and the Soldier and Small Blue Thing, however, most of the latter half of this album struggles to be memorable, which for a compilation spanning 15 years is a bit sad.

Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Odd mix of juvenilia and worthwhile mature pop, 18 Aug 2014
This review is from: Red (Audio CD)
this is a bit of a thing of shreds and patches.
I bought this CD for my daughter, who loves the singles off it. I had assumed, given the nasal delivery, brattish mannerisms and juvenile content of these tracks, that Ms Swift was an 18 year old in the vein of, say, early Britney. It was therefore something of a surprise to discover that she is in fact (in musical terms) an experienced pro. In fairness to her, several other tracks bear this out. Swift has a good voice and, when used normally on some decent material, the results are quite enjoyable. She also has a third voice - when she sings low, she sounds just like Suzanne Vega.
Overall, not a bad album, personal favourites being 'All too well' and the duet with the guy from snow patrol, but this is despite '22' and 'we are never ever getting back together', not because of them. My 10 year old daughter loves this album, but will insist on playing what I consider to be the worst tracks all the time!

The Look Of Love [DVD] [2013]
The Look Of Love [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Steve Coogan
Price: £6.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither fish nor fowl, 14 Aug 2014
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This film can't quite make up its mind whether it's a sex comedy or something more dramatic. The first half of the film is riddled with cameos from modern comics and with Coogan in bright and breezy mood dispensing one liners there are a fair few laughs to be had. Coogan is never going to win an oscar but is good enough to make you forget Alan Partridge, his characterisation being much closer (slightly worryingly) to Jimmy Savile.
As drugs begin to take over everyone's lives, however, things get a bit more depressing and consequently less entertaining. By the end of the film viewers are on something of a downer and it's not really very entertaining - even the nudity, which had been a bit cheeky and enjoyable early on, only gets seedier, in line with the dowmmarket direction of the content of Raymond's 'revues' and magazines.
One other rather sad development. I have been happily gazing at Anna Friel for the last 20 years since her days in Brookside. There are a couple of very attractive sexy young ladies in this film, but neither of them is Anna, who is reduced to the supporting role of the cuckolded/thrown over for a younger model wife. Even when she makes her reappearance in Raymond's life (and magazines) in later life, it is very much in the vein of 'not bad for a 40 year old.' If this film is the tipping point where Anna crossed over from playing sexy young girls to character roles, I'd just like to say thanks for the last 2 decades.
And the film? First part's fine but overall a bit depressing and not the most entertaining way to spend 90 minutes on the couch on a saturday night.

Lovelace [DVD]
Lovelace [DVD]
Dvd ~ Amanda Seyfried
Price: £6.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing rather than erotic, 14 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Lovelace [DVD] (DVD)
I guess most people coming to this would expect/hope for a spot of titillation, with the hot but wholesome (if mildly irritating) one from Mamma Mia getting her kit off to discover her inner porn star.
Well, things go moderately to plan for the first half of the film, with plenty of 1970s period detail, a few laughs and Amanda Seyfried obligingly showing off her top half on several occasions, whilst being just a bit too famous to show us her bottom half, or indeed to explicitly engage in the act that made her character famous. This section of the film suggests that Linda thoroughly enjoyed her 15 minutes of fame and had no issues with either making Deep Throat or the wider porn industry.
Half way through, however, we get an abrupt change of gear and (allegedly) the unvarnished version of the events of her life that we have been watching quite happily for the previous 40 minutes. This involves drugs, being pimped by her husband, domestic violence and eventually - in a particularly disturbing scene - gang rape, with the acquiescence of her husband, presumably as part of a deal to pay off his debts. Which version of events is true we will never know for sure, as both principal protagonists are conveniently dead. What is true is that none of this can pass as entertainment.
frankly while it's well made, I really wouldn't recommend anyone watch this. It's far too depressing and likely to upset sensitive female viewers.

Final Curtain: The Last Gilbert and Sullivan Operas
Final Curtain: The Last Gilbert and Sullivan Operas
by John Wolfson
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight into creation of famous partnerships final operas., 18 Jun 2014
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This a good read for both the afficionado and the more casual reader. Being a Sullivan society member I am used to reading things written very much from the composer's standpoint and on the subject of the carpet quarrel Wolfson is kinder to Gilbert than many other commentators.
People might not realise that Utopia was a triumph initially and for a 'failure' had a run on a par with that of Princess Ida, written in the early/mid 1880s when the duo were at the peak of their popularity. The Grand Duke by contrast seems to have been a flop from the start, although - musically at least - it seems to me to be the stronger of the two, even if the dialogue is verbose in the extreme and in need of massive pruning, something that must have been clear to Gilbert in rehearsal.
I would have liked to have read more about Nancy Mackintosh. Given that WSG is widely considered to be an overgrown little boy emotionally and to have had a largely celibate marriage, quite why was he so enamoured of Mackintosh, particularly as she seems to have been no great talent. Furthermore, why did Lucy consent to her coming to live with them at Grim's Dyke?
Similarly, given he had spent years fomenting a team philosophy, why was Gilbert so keen on importing an established Hungarian singer to play Julia? She was hardly his discovery and unlike Mackintosh, he does not appear to have been attracted to her at any level. More analysis would have been welcome.
Anyway, these quibbles aside, a good read about two works which, whilst assuredly at the weaker end of the canon on overall merit, do not deserve the almost complete obscurity in which they languish these days.
Read and enjoy.

Demon Dentist
Demon Dentist
by David Walliams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.45

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too long. And just who is it aimed at exactly?, 10 April 2014
This review is from: Demon Dentist (Hardcover)
I have just finished slogging through this book with my 9 year old daughter reading it to me.
Firstly it's not been sufficiently stringently edited. It;s far too long for a book for someone of that age and several scenes go on far longer than is dramatically necessary.. There's a supposedly 'madcap chase scene' around half way through that goes on and on for several chapters and isn't funny at all, just annoying. How 9 year olds are supposed to understand jokes about pseudy drama teachers is a bit beyond me too. The tendency for self indulgence and to show how clever he is gets in the way sometimes.
Some of it is quite dark for a sensitive 9 year old, but I think anyone much older than this would find it rather childish. The set up is certainly rather dark. Boy lives with his ailing Dad (who slightly creepily keeps calling him 'pup') in abject poverty is not a sound basis for a funny story. There are lot of adult-facing jokes here that sailed over the head of my 9 year old. Then again the scene .where the social worker gets a virulent attack of wind is completely puerile and unlikely to amuse anyone apart from 6 year old boys.
You can see the Roald Dahl influence. The characters are grotesques or caricatures, rather than believable people, something I also don't like in some Dahl books. Winnie is simply irritating.You just know if this ever ends up on telly (as it surely will) she will be played by either Rustie Lee or that woman who started off on big brother a decade ago and has had a career as minor tv presenter and E-list 'sleb' ever since. (Alison something. Or someone equally irritating, but I'm struggling to think of anyone, apart from possibly Jessie J or Paloma Faith, both of whom are too young, the wrong colour and not actresses.) Anyway, I digress..
On the positive side it's quite well written - unlike other people who have taken the Simon Cowell shilling as judges on various programmes and supposedly written books you can at least believe that he wrote this. There are a fair number of laughs in it. I just think the target audience varies almost from page to page and don't think many children would find the whole thing satisfying - it's too depressing and scary for primary school children and too puerile in places for older children.. But then most (admittedly adult) reviewers seem to love it, so what do I know? My 9 year old stuck with it but found it depressing and a bit scary in places..

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