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Wales Since 1939
Wales Since 1939
by Martin Johnes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best study of contemporary Welsh history, 7 May 2012
This review is from: Wales Since 1939 (Paperback)
Martin Johnes traces life in Wales since the war, especially the rise of national sentiment, in a scholarly yet highly readable work. His impressive command of the sources spans economic and social statistics, newspaper editorials, and contemporary novels; he highlights that Welsh opinion has never been monolithic - even on totemic events such as flooding of Tryweryn. Johnes is good at highlighting how the Welsh have often had distinctly different visions of their country and its political future, depending on their language, class and geographic origins. For some, Welshness has been at the core of personal and political life; others have had a much more ambivalent attitude, seeing their identity as (in a great quote) "a cottonwool fuzz at the back of the mind". But Johnes is not just about nation and politics, and his book also offers an excellent survey of changing views of class, consumerism and even sex over the post-war decades. Probably the most complete, and objective, survey of modern Wales that I've had the pleasure to read.

Onkyo TXNR609-BLACK 7.2-Channel Network A/V Receiver in Black
Onkyo TXNR609-BLACK 7.2-Channel Network A/V Receiver in Black

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant home cinema amp, 8 April 2012
The Onkyo 609 has been winning plaudits from numerous magazines and websites, and deservedly. The amp is easy to set up and use, and with its wide range of connections and features, from Spotify to DLNA to 4k video upscaling, it's good value for money. Matched with a decent set of speakers the Onkyo 609 sounds absolutely great whether playing movies or music. If I've got a criticism, it's the lack of Airplay support - but this is a petty little point. Overall, a fantastic piece of kit.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 30, 2012 9:22 AM BST

The Inbetweeners - Series 1-3 - Complete [DVD]
The Inbetweeners - Series 1-3 - Complete [DVD]
Dvd ~ Simon Bird
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crude but charming, 2 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
One of the best sitcoms on British telly in years, 'The Inbetweeners' is triumph of taut writing, memorable characters and recognisable sixth form dilemmas. The chemistry between the mis-matched Will, Simon, Jay and Neil is a joy: they may be teenage stereotypes but they're well-observed and endearing ones. The main players are backed up by an excellent supporting cast including emotionally-abusive parents, a cynical teacher, the unattainable popular girl and the classic school bully.

'The Inbetweeners' crams lots of laughs into its sharp 25-minute storylines, and brings back memories for anyone who can recall their embarrassing first attempts to chat up girls, learn to drive, or get served in a pub. Although the jokes are frequently crude, and the level of humiliation meted out to the boys is often over-the-top, there's also a real honesty and charm about the series. It's a pretty accurate picture of immature sixth formers - you probably knew kids like this in school, or were one of them yourself - and its depiction of the ordinary, awkward, suburban adolescent experience (played for comic effect) is a welcome antidote to the glamorous fantasy world of 'Skins'.

The Inbetweeners Movie Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
The Inbetweeners Movie Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
Dvd ~ Simon Bird
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £4.24

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, but not up the standard of the fantastic TV series, 29 Feb. 2012
From modest beginnings on E4, "The Inbetweeners" became - in my view - one of the greatest British TV comedies of recent years. If you'd ever been a teenager in suburbia, you could relate to Will, Simon, Jay and Neil's ham-fisted efforts to get drunk, impress girls and navigate their hormonal way through sixth form.

The transition to the big screen brings a few moments of sheer comedy gold, such as the hilarious nightclub dance and hotel pool scenes, but the movie generally doesn't have the same wit or invention as the TV series. Whereas the TV episodes were short, sharp and usually ended with the boys' failure and humiliation, the movie is drawn-out and sentimental, and a happy ending is telegraphed from early on.

The film's plot, which revolves around the group's encounters (and growing bond) with four holidaying girls, doesn't really convince. The girls themselves are well played, but their interest in the boys - despite the latter's charmless, gauche and sometimes obnoxious behaviour - beggars belief. None of the romantic possibilities in the series were ever so forgiving, and four attractive girls on holiday in a party resort are hardly going to hang around after being ignored and offended. Elsewhere, the main 'villain' of the piece (a nasty club rep) doesn't get enough screen time or play a coherent role, and Simon's tedious obsession with Carli is overdone. A couple of amusing cameos from sociopathic teacher Mr Gilbert simply remind you how much better the series was.

While the story allows the boys to mature a little - even Jay gets a poignant scene when he realises that he and Simon will soon go their separate ways - I had the feeling that none of the lads travelled far enough along their character arc to justify the movie's upbeat conclusion.

Overall, despite its weaknesses, this is a nice postscript to "The Inbetweeners" that will entertain fans. Sure, it's lewd, it's crude and it's unsophisticated, but the movie's depiction of teenage boys, and their typical drunken holiday antics, is faithful and amusing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 1, 2013 12:49 PM BST

Apple iMac 27 inch All-In-One Desktop PC (Intel Core i5 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor, 2X2GB RAM, 1TB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 1GB graphics) (Launched May 2011)
Apple iMac 27 inch All-In-One Desktop PC (Intel Core i5 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor, 2X2GB RAM, 1TB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 1GB graphics) (Launched May 2011)

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful piece of technology, with a few disadvantages, 23 Sept. 2011
The iMac is a design classic, leagues ahead of any Windows PC in the looks department. The aluminium unibody, with a huge glossy monitor built in, looks simply stunning whether it's powered on or off. The 2011 models all come with quad core Intel Sandy Bridge processors, and feature the new Thunderbolt I/O ports for ultra-fast peripheral connections - which will be great when devices with this port finally start shipping in numbers. The new Mac operating system, Lion, is pretty slick with a useful App Store and few of the security headaches common to Windows. No silver lining comes without a cloud, however. An all-in-one iMac is both more expensive, and harder to upgrade, than a standard Windows box. Gamers will rue the fact that the machines feature the less powerful mobile versions of AMD's graphics cards. It's hard to recommend the iMac to a gamer or for casual home productivity. But as a beautiful piece of technology that's easy to use, with something of the "wow factor", this computer stands at the apex.

Samsung HT-C6930W 3D 7.1 ch Channel Blu-ray Home Cinema System
Samsung HT-C6930W 3D 7.1 ch Channel Blu-ray Home Cinema System

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but beware of its limitations, 23 Sept. 2011
I bought this in 2010 as a home cinema newbie. At the time I was blown away by the 3D, the 1080p picture quality and the 7.1 surround sound- it was AV nirvana. But I soon started bumping up against the inherent limitations of these 'all in one' systems.

Firstly, they're hard to upgrade- you can't just swap out an individual component, you have to replace the whole kit and caboodle. Secondly, there are only two HDMI inputs on the amp/blu ray player, so you can't connect many devices to take advantage of your speakers. Whats more, these inputs don't seem to support the 'audio return' functionality of my Samsung plasma's HDMI. Not a deal breaker, but annoying: it means rigging up yet another cable to carry the sound from my tv to the speakers, and sacrificing the amp's sole optical input.

I'd say this system would suit someone who just wants a good 3d blu ray surround sound package, who won't want to connect many games consoles, PCs or other devices. If your needs are simple, you won't go wrong with this. But if you start enjoying surround sound too much, you'll soon find the lack of connectivity and upgradability a critical weakness.


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for a style with a dry finish, 16 Jan. 2011
This review is from: BRYLCREEM PASTE 75ML (Misc.)
I tend to find that a lot of hair products advertising a "matt finish" actually leave the hair greasy. So hats off to Brylcreem for producing a matt finish styling aid that does what it says - provide a strong, flexible, matt hold. It comes in a funky cricket ball-shaped container and its pretty cheap too...

Brylcreem Styling Hair Cream 75 ml
Brylcreem Styling Hair Cream 75 ml
Price: £3.55

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invisible, remouldable hold, 27 Jun. 2010
A great product - goes in (and washes out) easily, doesn't go crusty or hard, and leaves a nice matte finish. Much better than many far more expensive salon products.

Wendy & Lucy [DVD]
Wendy & Lucy [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michelle Williams
Price: £9.50

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It only hits you later..., 5 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Wendy & Lucy [DVD] (DVD)
When I first saw this understated indie movie about a rootless, poverty-stricken young woman whose car (and luck) break down in a backwater Oregon town, I felt a little short-changed. The film's poignant sadness only hit me after I'd left the cinema. This is a moving story about loneliness, desperation and loss.

It's initially hard to empathise with the central character, Wendy, played in a powerful but low-key way by Michelle Williams. We learn almost nothing about her back story. She's driving a battered old Honda from Indiana to Alaska in search of a job in a fish cannery; her only companion is her dog, Lucy; she has very little money; her family and most of the strangers she encounters are indifferent to her plight.

There's a political and moral message behind the movie: that we as individuals, and society as a whole, should care about people on the margins. Perhaps a secondary message is that even when a few people do care, it's not enough. But the politics aren't laid on thickly, except when callous, officious young store clerk Andy is shown to be wearing a cross: a pretty obvious swipe at the Republican right.

The film's impact is a undermined by the lack of engagement we have with Wendy, and the lack of explanation of her history. We know she's desperate, but why? What's made her travel halfway across America on only $500? Did she have any other choices? Most fundamentally, *who is she*? I couldn't work out whether Wendy is a runaway, a drifter, or just an 'everywoman' who makes a desperate gamble in tough times.

Perhaps it doesn't matter - the point is that in individualistic America, if you don't have money or connections, you're only a inch from the economic abyss. For Wendy and others at the edge of American life, small misfortunes can spell complete disaster.

Michael Clayton [DVD]
Michael Clayton [DVD]
Dvd ~ George Clooney
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.48

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mature, intelligent corporate thriller, 11 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Michael Clayton [DVD] (DVD)
George Clooney is once again excellent; his acting is as effortless as the charm of his character, the legal 'fixer' Michael Clayton.

Clayton's suit, car and office scream "big shot", but he's actually a professional and personal failure: divorced, addicted to gambling and in debt to some unseen unsavoury characters. His employer, a prestigious Manhattan law firm personified by Sidney Pollack, regards the 'working-class boy made good' as a highly-effective janitor, but nothing more. In short, Clayton is a smooth-talking, immaculately-dressed disaster zone.

A bad week for Clayton gets even worse when his friend and senior colleague Arthur Edens (played by a somewhat OTT Tom Wilkinson) has a breakdown. Edens has spent years defending a toxic weedkiller made by agrochemical giant U North. His evasions and changes of venue have dragged out the case, earning his law firm millions while prolonging the agony of farming families affected by U North's carcinogen. But Eden's mental collapse causes a Damascene conversion, prompting him to secretly (then not so secretly) switch sides.

Clayton unsuccessfully tries to contain the situation while U North's highly-strung, ruthless chief counsel (Tilda Swinton), has more radical plans. Swinton's role is rather less interesting - a caricature friendless, obsessive career woman - but her verbal sparring with Clooney is fun. The whole film is beautifully shot and draws you into a rich world of Upper East side apartments owned by wealthy lawyers, Westchester retreats owned by their even wealthier clients, Clayton's down-to-earth family of cops and U North's sterile corporate videos.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 16, 2008 1:01 AM BST

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