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m.bison (Cheshire, UK)

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Cracker: Cracker                                                        [DVD] [2006]
Cracker: Cracker [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Robbie Coltrane
Price: £3.10

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More of the same is a good thing here, 8 Oct. 2006
It's been about 10 years since Cracker was on our screens and it's been even longer since a Cracker episode has been shown that the creator of Cracker, Jimmy McGovern, penned. When I first heard the news that Cracker was coming back for a one-off special, I was surprised and excited ... but also apprehensive. When I saw the Cracker teasers on TV, there was no way of knowing if McGovern was writing the comeback show. Thankfully, he did. As Robbie Coltrane himself admitted in a recent interview, it was the only reason why he stepped back into Fitz's shoes again after all this time.

Looking at the Cracker back-catalogue, it's very easy to weed out the great episodes from the average ones. You just look at who has written them. If it's McGovern, then the episode would be brilliant and insightful; if it was someone else, it was bland and not nearly as clever as it thought it was.

The question is how does the fantastic and original show that was Cracker stand up today, more than a decade on? Well, it's still easily the best police drama out there, no question about it. The McGovern written episodes have always combined some kind of statement about the state of the government or society (for example, in `To Be A Somebody', it was the aftermath of Hillsborough and people's preconceptions and prejudices) and realistic psychological insights (in `True Romance' a sister learnt to despise anything beautiful because she had grown up describing such things to her blind sister) with unique, interesting characters and gripping story lines filled with suspenseful scenes. This 2006 episode is no different. Despite the flashy, edgy `Seven'-like credit sequence, this episode fits right into the shows from the mid-nineties.

Fitz is still gambling (although, after many years of suffering, his wife seems to have accepted this and is only interested in curbing the addiction rather than curing it altogether) and preaching about gambling (instead of getting a Gamblers Anonymous group gambling by making a brilliant pro-gambling speech, Fitz offers a funny yet painfully true reason why people stick with their lucky gambling numbers). Moreover, people in Manchester are still being murdered.

Just like Sue Townsend with `Adrian Mole and The Weapons of Mass Destruction', McGovern uses an age-old, familiar character to air his views on terrorism, Iraq, Bush and Blair etc. In the same way McGovern wrote about Hillsborough, he's not writing a one-sided polemic and simply getting things off his chest. There's a disturbed protagonist with psychological problems; there's a story with twist and turns (the murderer is also a police officer who escorts and guards the victims parents) and very clever touches (entering a house by using a dead pigeon to cover up smashing a window and deconstructing a crime scene in the urinals of a nightclub); and, most importantly, there's two hours of thought-provoking, great entertainment.

I don't know about you, but for me Cracker was at its best when the suspect had finally been apprehended and Fitz got to interview him or her in a blank white room. There was just a table, two chairs and white walls, and yet the interaction between the two characters was one of the best things you'll ever see on television. With the new episode, this happens in a canteen and does quite match the heights of say Fitz being one-and-one with, say, a skinhead Robert Carlyle. In addition, there are one or two plot twists that are a bit too convenient and one or two important scenes that seem to have been deleted. If you were going into a house with an armed and unstable murder, wouldn't there be some kind of discussion first. Some people will also criticise Cracker for being too much like the old shows, not taking risks or trying something new. All I can say is that when something is this good, you don't change it.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] [2006]
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Larry David
Price: £9.87

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Return To Form, 20 Sept. 2006
I'm a big fan of CYE and I've just seen Season 5. Although season 4 was one of the best comedy sit-coms on TV, there was an ever-so-slight dip in quality when certain episodes became a bit too farcical. Thankfully, season 5 has more in common with the earlier CYE seasons. Right from the off, `The Larry David Sandwich' in Episode 1 is hilarious - particularly the scene where Larry is told that he is adopted. This becomes a running theme throughout the next 9 episodes. Other standout episodes include when Larry thinks the bingo at an OAP care home is rigged and when Larry and his manager must decide who should donate their kidney to a mutual friend.

For those of you unfamiliar with CYE, the show revolves around the life of the 59-year old co-creator of Seinfeld, Larry David. A stand-up comedian, Larry observes the grey areas of life and writes shows about the unwritten rules of social interaction. Not ringing a person at home before 9 pm and not starting a meal while someone else is waiting for their order at a restaurant are two good examples of this. As the real Larry David admits, the character on the show is the guy he would like to be ...a curmudgeon who speaks his mind, confronts people and says the things that we all think but are too polite to utter out loud.

It's a great show with nothing else like it on TV - entire half an hour shows centre on the small details of human interaction which we are all aware of but are so intangible and vague that we struggle to articulate them. It's the things that we are supposed to know as normal, functioning members of society ...and it's these things that Larry rages against in CYE. With an amateurish feel to the camera shots and an improvised script, CYE may take some getting used to for newcomers, but stick with it. The show is 100% unique and well worth the effort.

LMA Manager 2007 (PS2)
LMA Manager 2007 (PS2)
Price: £27.56

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still The Best Football Management Game on PS2, 16 Sept. 2006
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
I have been dutifully buying LMA and the old January Transfers LMAs for years now and it's one of the few games I buy on the day it is released. After playing the new 2007 version, I can say that it does take some steps forward from LMA 2006. There isn't a great deal of change from 2006, just minor alterations here and there. For example, goalkeepers have seemed to stop catching high balls and falling backwards over the goal line. Also, you can now buy and sell players in their first season at a new club and if you put your players on the transfer list, foreign clubs take an interest whereas in 2006 only English clubs seemed to make offers for your players.

Indeed, the game has been polished and improved, but there is no radical departure from the previous instalments. It's basically the same game as 2006, but with several small problems ironed out. Speaking as a guy who's been buying the same £30 game for years, I couldn't care less that nothing has really changed. I just wanted to play around with the brand new, updated squad of the premiership side I love. I wanted to play God to the new players that my team bought in the summer. To be honest, that's why I keep buying this game ... the updated databases (with the proper, official player names, of course). However, you should be warned that you need to download off the internet the more recent transfers that went through towards the end of the transfer window. Without the download, William Gallas is still a Chelsea player and Ashley Cole is still an Arsenal player in the game, for example.

You could buy LMA 2006 on the cheap and update your team yourself in the transfer market so it looks like your teams current squad, but often the players don't have the rating/value that they have in real life. I'm not a Man United fan, but as an example, there's no way you could get Michael Carrick 9 out of 10 overall rating and an £18.6m value unless you buy the 2007 game.

There are some small gripes with the game. For example, 4-5-1 formations are used all the time in football today, but it is still absent from this game. Also, why don't free kicks ever hit the wall like in real football? Moreover, there are some very unrealistic transfer moves during the first season like John Terry going to Newcastle and Gary Neville going to Chelsea. This said, if you are looking for a football management game on the PS2, there is nothing that touches this. Recommended to new and old fans of LMA.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 1, 2014 10:37 AM GMT

Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies
Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies
by Rob Yeung
Edition: Paperback

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, helpful interview book, 10 Sept. 2006
I found that this book gave some good answers to the "Give me an example of..." questions that crop up time and time again in interviews. The book will provide a decent script of what to say in interviews and when filling out application forms. After several interviews, giving an example of team working, organisational skills, communication skills etc will become like telling a long joke or a familiar story. The answers aren't perfect and they can be specific to a certain role, so you have to be creative and re-work the sample answers to fit into your employment/education background. Overall, though, they offer a good starting point of what employers what to hear from you in an interview.

The competencies-based chapter is a big plus with this book. Competency-based interviews are all the rage these days and a lot of interview books do not deal with them at all. Although there is only one chapter that deals with competency interviews in this book, it is one chapter more than most.

Although it may seem like it, this book won't get you a job if you are good at simply memorising lines. Until that book comes out (and I'll be first in the queue when it does), this is probably the best interview aid out there.

Path To War [2002] [DVD]
Path To War [2002] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Gambon

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great film for fans of The West Wing, 13 days...., 28 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Path To War [2002] [DVD] (DVD)
About 58'000 Americans and approximately 2'000'000 Vietnamese died during Vietnam. If you ever wondered how and why America and the Johnson Administration got itself into such a mess, this film is for you.

Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) will always be associated with - and vilified for - Vietnam. However, during the early years of his Presidency, he spent the political capital from winning a Presidential election with the largest majority in history on creating `The Great Society' in his country. A skilled, veteran politician, LBJ passed hundreds of bills that tackled poverty and racial injustice. Under Johnson, for example, the right to vote became law for all African Americans. In light of the Vietnam body count, this achievement is often glossed over. Nevertheless, as we see in the film, without his stirring address to Congress and his manipulation of the racist Alabama Governor (great Cameo from Gary Sinise) in the Oval Office, this may not have happened for another five or so years.

Indeed, in this film, you get a sense of how LBJ could have truly been one of the great American Presidents if it wasn't for a small country in South-East Asia. In this sense, the film is almost a tragedy. The person who gets the blame for this tragedy is Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara (Alec Baldwin). After helping to avert World War III in the Cuban missile crisis, McNamara's counsel to the President carried a lot of weight. In one pivotal scene in the movie (and in the build up to the war), LBJ invites McNamara and a lifelong friend (Donald Sutherland) to Camp David before making his final decision to commit a vast number of troops to Vietnam. Like an angel and a devil on LBJ shoulders, the two take turns to present their case for and against the war. The audience knows the outcome of the Vietnam War and scream for Johnson to listen to his old friend. Of course, LBJ doesn't have the audiences' powers of retrospection and he listens to the man from the Pentagon (to be fair, though, the seeds of Vietnam were planted during the Kennedy Administration).

As you watch the film and follow the `Path to War', you may put yourself in LBJ's shoes and wonder if you would have done things differently. It took a long time for Johnson to respond the aggression against America by the Viet Cong and, when he did retaliate, it was measured and considered. He certainly didn't rush into war, all guns blazing. As LBJ, the English actor Michael Gambon deserves a special mention in his portrayal as the no-nonsense Texan who agonises over the decision/consequences of Vietnam.

All in all, an excellent film showing how the horror of Vietnam ever came about.

Peter Kay - Live At The Bolton Albert Halls [DVD] [2003]
Peter Kay - Live At The Bolton Albert Halls [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Peter Kay
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £3.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect thing to watch while getting ready for a night out...., 9 Aug. 2006
I dont know about you, but before I go out on a Saturday night, I throw this on. I watch it while I have a few 'cheap ones' and I get myself merry before I hit the clubs with their £4 drinks. More often than not, this is the best part of the night!

I'm sure you know how good Peter Kay's stand up act is and you dont need me to repeat what 70-odd people have said before. It goes without saying, that for working class observations and catch phrases, there is absolutely no one better. I used to work in a shop ("Your tens, your ones, your twos...") and watch Bullseye, so you can imagine how funny I found this.

Six stars!

License To Drive [1988] [VHS]
License To Drive [1988] [VHS]

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The quintessential 80s teen flick, 22 July 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I love this film! I first saw it in the early 90s when I was in my early teens and it has stayed with me ever since. For me, this film is the ultimate 80s nostalgia trip; it is the text book example of a 80s teen flick. It's a travesty that when people think of 80s teen films, they immediately think of John Hughes's back catalogue, i.e. The Breakfast Club, Ferris Beullers Day Off etc. How this film got overlooked is beyond me. It has two of the biggest teen idols of the 80s (Corey Haim, Corey Feldman), a wide-eyed teenage Heather Graham, a sleek red Ferrari sports car and the entire film is based on one of the most pressing matters facing any teenager - learning to drive.

I watched this film when I was learning to drive and it's a great film to watch on the nerve-racking night before your driving test.

Hole Truth & Nothing Butt
Hole Truth & Nothing Butt

4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the money for Wnyu Interview alone, 21 July 2006
This is a Butthole Surfers live album. It's not really their greatest hits played live; it's more a collection of crowd-pleasing moments. The album features their earlier work, and when you look at the date when each live song was recorded, you realize just how unique and far ahead of their time the band was. Out of all of the Butthole Surfers albums, I'd have to say that this, along with ElectricLandLarry, is one of their most accessible.

The Butthole Surfers are not a jukebox when they play live. They do not copy their songs note for note from the albums. 'Something', for example, is much heavier than the very `pop' album version. There's a lot of improv in the live songs and there's also some great banter with the rough Southern audiences.

The live version of 'Moving to Florida' stands out, but the undisputed highlight of the album is the last track, a live interview on a local radio station. Trust me, it is by far one of the funniest things ever recorded to tape. I used to play it for everyone I knew. If you are a Butthole Surfers fan or not, buy the album for this.

Lost - Season 2 - Part 1 [DVD]
Lost - Season 2 - Part 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matthew Fox
Offered by cornerstonedeals
Price: £13.55

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's down the hatch, you say?, 17 Jun. 2006
I know what you want to know. What's down the hatch? Well, I'm not going to spoil it for you, but I will set you this challenge. Think back to the great cliff-hanger from season 1 (the hatch has finally been blown open by dynamite) and try to come up with the most creative and imaginative idea you can for what could be down there. I guarantee you that whatever you come up with, it won't be as good as what the writers of Lost came up with. I will say this, though: the washing machine was a great touch!

The things that made the first series of Lost a word-of-mouth phenomenon do not fizzle out in series 2. Instead, they get stronger. Big questions are answered with even bigger questions. Clues are everywhere - on the belly of a shark, on the label of a medicine bottle and in the total sum of adding Hurley's lottery numbers together. New characters appear with a great twist and some of their back stories are the best so far.

If you've seen series 1 and you're considering buying part one of series 2, there's no question as to whether or not you should. I have seen the first 12 episodes of season 2, and its much more compulsive and addictive. I watched the 12 shows in marathon sessions, waiting patiently for answers. I would recommend buying the box set because when you see things like the dead priests in the private plane linking up with a great back story and when you see things like a missing reel of film from the hatch's initiation/welcome film, you just have to keep going. You can't possibly wait another week for your next fix!

The Da Vinci Code (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD]
The Da Vinci Code (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Hanks
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.14

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just like the book..., 30 May 2006
Like the rest of the human race, I went to see this film recently. I had already read the book and I found the film to follow the book nearly word for word. I don't think there are many people left on Earth who haven't read the book so this review is very simple: if you liked the book, you'll like this film; if you didn't like the book, you won't like this film.

The film generated a lot of publicity, so I wouldn't listen too much to the critics who gave the film bad reviews -- they simply wanted to capitalise on the hype and get some of the publicity for themselves.

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