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M. Gardner "Afro Matt" (Somerset, England)
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Flight Of The Conchords: The Complete HBO First Season [DVD] [2007]
Flight Of The Conchords: The Complete HBO First Season [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Bret McKenzie
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, wonderfully balanced comedy, 7 Aug. 2008
Fans of the Boosh will delight at the exploits Flight of the Conchords, the self-styled 4th most famous New Zealand folk-parody duo. This is a comedy show that takes a little from many of the best comedy shows from the past decade and then mixes it all up in a relatively fresh and gloriously quirky way. The deadpan humour of the Office is highly evident as are the flights of comedic whimsy and humourous fantasy one might find in any Boosh show. The offbeat tone will appeal to anyone who loved Napoleon Dynamite and the musical numbers (some of the best musical comedy I've heard in recent years) come across as a mix between Bill Bailey and a less rude Tenacious D (in improvisational tone anyway). Bret and Jemaine play off one another superbly and are ably supported by unsung hero of the series Rhys Darby as their goateed failure of a manager Murray. Kristen Schaal as fanatic sole fan Mel and Arj Barker as the would-be-cool-Brooklyn-boy-but-still-lives-with-parents Dave also provide giggles along the way.

With fewer tendencies to go off on a random tangent than the Mighty Boosh, and the odd whiff of the Pythonesque at times, this might just be the hip new comedy series that everyone both old and young can get into.


27 Dresses [DVD] [2008]
27 Dresses [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Katherine Heigl
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.72

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustratingly Flawed, 7 Aug. 2008
This review is from: 27 Dresses [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I love rom-coms. I loved The Devil Wears Prada (even though I got blackmailed into seeing it, when I did I found it to be very good indeed. And I love Katherine Heigl. I think she is fantastically talented. It is for these reasons that I was looking forward to McKenna's newly penned work 27 Dresses. Unfortunately in spite of Heigl's best efforts this film frustrates more than it pleases. Marsden is solid, but the depth of his character isn't. The dialogue is snappy to begin with but when it comes to any emotional depth it seems that the fast forward button is pressed. We never really understand why Heigl's character eventually falls for Marsden's after so much verbal sniping and the 'explanatory' scene is patronising and hideously contrived. Heigl is superb, though, and raises this two star film up to three. Her comic timing is brilliant, as is her repartee with Malin Akerman. The opening ten minutes are wonderful. Unfortunately in the end, good ideas and an encouraging start give way to sloppy plot and little focus, with a seeming emphasis of the slick and snappy over a heart that would make this movie at least twice as good.

The 'Making of...' serves to throw up the ideas that McKenna was trying to get across - a romantic relationship that didn't start the easy way and as such serves as a nice comparison to a final product that never quite delivers where it needs to.

Shame.


Sony PSP Media Manager Pro 2.5 (PC)
Sony PSP Media Manager Pro 2.5 (PC)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential to get the most out of your PSP, 6 Aug. 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The PSP is an excellent piece of it, and the new slimline ones with added external video support are excellent but let's face it; UMD's were never really going to catch on. This is where the Media Manager comes in. You simply install th MM onto your computer, plug in your PSP via USB (the cable is mandatory, but they're really cheap if you don't have one and trust me, it's worth it) and drag and drop your way to media heaven. As with the other reviewers here I'd advise boosting your memory card size to at least a couple of gigabytes particularly for larger movie files, but the Media Manager is so easy to use and relatively fast (especially if you have USB 2.0) that swapping and changing every once in a while for music or images is childsplay.


Chicago
Chicago
by ʿAlāʾ Aswānī
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read from a much needed alternative perspective, 6 Aug. 2008
This review is from: Chicago (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Alaa Al Aswany's newest novel, Chicago, is a tale of several Egyptian migrants looking to forge a life for themselves in the Windy City through academic success against a background of a dictatorial and repressive state in their home country. Shaymaa is an idealistic Muslim woman coming to grips for the first time with a world that is completely different from the one she left behind. Danana is a self-serving bureaucrat desperately trying to hold on to his position. Ra'fat is an old migrant who seems to have embraced the new culture into which he has immersed himself but finds old tenets tested as his daughter goes off the rails. Nagi is a self-styled patriot and political firebrand, banned from his home country's educational system and hunted in this new 'land of the free'.

It is really that last phrase that sums up the focus of Al Aswany's novel. Egypt only ever really provides a backdrop, a comparison. Instead, this tale is a look into the very nature of what the Statue of Liberty stands for, and Al Aswany's characters all find it wanting in different ways. Sex plays a big part in the novel, and in this representation of Chicago it is all transaction or bargaining chip. Even the few real moments of connection are later sullied by accusation or denial.

It is a skilfully written novel for the most part, Al Aswany drawing the strands of his characters together carefully., knowing when to leave the action on a knife edge and switch the focus of his narrative eye. It is also an incredibly accessible novel. Abdel Wahab's translation flows easily which helps when one has so many characters to follow. Reading this book never becomes a chore. My only few negatives are to do with dialogue and the final quarter of the novel. The dialogue does, on occasion, feel somewhat forced and the are times when the narrative pacing is questionable but these are pretty rare. My other negative, which I shall concede is arguable, is that the book seems to rush towards an ending that never really comes. Some character's strands are left more or less open, some are neatly tied (or burned to a cinder); and for whatever reason the feeling at the end of this novel, which has emotional highs and lows, is one of slight anticlimax. However, this may very well be Al Aswany's point. Hollywood has happy neat endings, that bastion of rich, white America can afford it. But for people such as Chicago's Carol, a black woman desperately searching for employment, there is always going to be a price.

Don't be put off checking this novel out, the narrative style and the subject matter is ambitious but predominantly well executed. As Al Aswany continues to write fiction (he is already a highly regarded political and journalistic writer) we can only hope that he'll continue to get better: a prospect that, having finished Chicago, is a rather exciting one.


Send Away The Tigers
Send Away The Tigers
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.40

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MSP on form!, 13 May 2008
This review is from: Send Away The Tigers (Audio CD)
Send Away the Tigers is a cracking album. The opener and title track is fast and simply riff-tastic, and the album doesn't really let up from there. The tracks here are concise but expertly measured and it nevers feels like the Manics are overreaching or underplaying, everything here is to the point and very very good. Your Love Alone Is Not Enough and Rendition are two more standout tracks, that grandiose feel to the former providing an excellent lead-off single to counterbalance the rockier intensity of the latter. The guitar work here is outstanding too and rounds of the package nicely. Solid, punchy and with very little fluff, this is an album well worth investing in.


Superbad (2 Disc Extended Edition) [2007] [DVD]
Superbad (2 Disc Extended Edition) [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jonah Hill
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and funny teen comedy, 13 May 2008
Superbad, coming from the team behind the hilarious Knocked Up, is a film also destined to polarise opinion. The story is simple: two high school finalists are charged with obtaining the alcohol for a large house party and so they hook up with a third friend who happens to have recently gotten himself a fake ID in the hope that they might impress the ladies and finally 'become men' before going their separate ways for college. Jonah Hill is fantastic as the energetically potty-mouthed Seth as is Michael Cera, whose deadpanned performance perfectly compliments that of Hill and makes us bemoan Fox once again for canning the wonderful series Arrested Development. But it is Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fogell, the uber-geek with the fake ID that reads 'McLovin', who steals every scene he's in, whether standing in the face of Seth's ranting, or going joyriding with two cops (Seth Rogen and Bill Hader) who just want to show that being a policeman doesn't necessarily mean a dull existence without fun. The dialogue is witty and funny, the improvisational quality of many scenes providing a very natural feel to he film, and there are laughs aplenty to be had here and a wealth of quotable lines to fill the halls of any school/college.

The DVD extras are welcome as well, with a number of shorts highlighting the various takes on certain improvised lines, a hilarious little wind-up on Jonah hill where he is confronted by all kinds of terrifying creatures, and a little docu-skit entitled 'Everyone Hates Michael Cera' that is uncomfortably chuckle-worthy. But by far the best set of extras involves Rogen and Hader's two cops. 'Cop Car Confessions' sees a number of probably improvised sketches in the back of the cop car with a host of celebrity comedian cameos. I wanted Rogen and Hader's characters to get ore screen time, and they gave me just that!

If you liked The Forty Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up then I strongly suggest that you give Superbad a try. I laughed until I actually ached. You might too.


Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation
Offered by STOCKTASTIC
Price: £39.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As close to Top Gun as you're likely to get!, 13 May 2008
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Ace Combat 6 has an opening video that, even rendered on a television without HD, will make you squirm with delight. They say that graphics don't make a game and I would agree, sure thing. But it certainly doesn't harm a game to look this good. Mid-flight it is incredibly difficult to tell whether you're still playing a game or watching an RAF training video. The photo-realistic mapping is superb from a distance, but admittedly vague and blurred when you're a few feet away from the ground. But when cruising at a couple of thousand feet, smoke trails from missiles pouring out of the sky, and snow capped mountains below your thundering wings it's hard to find a game on the X360 that looks this good.

Right......graphical gushing aside, AC6 has much to offer the roving eye of a potnetial buyer. The flight system is intuitive and very easy to pick up, the left stick controlling pitch and turn, the shoulder buttons for yaw, the right stick for camera and A and B for guns and missiles respectively. Sounds simple? Well it is. On top of that there's an even more simplified version of the control system for absolute novices but to be honest just playing through the helpfully thorough tutorials will have you doing barrel rolls in no time. The missions are fairly varied (although there aren't enough of them) and many of them have multiple parts involving different styles of aerial combat. There aren't as many planes in this version as there are in the also excellent PSP game but there's enough of a range to keep both dogfighters and rainbringers happy.

The story is pretty weak, the various strands ladling on heaps of poorly written pathos, but the in-flight banter between wingmen is excellent. You are made fantastically aware that you are part of a squadron and there is nothing quite as satisfying as targeting a large number of enemies for an allied attack and watching your flight partners deploy a huge number of missiles that streak through the sky all around you. Wherever you are the battles are constantly raging all around you, immersing you in the action.

Ace Combat is not a particularly deep game, it has to be said. But it does what it says on the tin, and it does it very well. The online play is excellent and brings the closest thing to an interactive Top Gun experience than ever before. You could do far far worse.


Shrek The Third (Shrek 3) [DVD] (2007)
Shrek The Third (Shrek 3) [DVD] (2007)
Dvd ~ Mike Myers
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.70

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't live up to legacy at all., 28 Dec. 2007
If you're looking to buy Shrek the Third because you're aready a fan then good for you I'll get to you in a second. If you're new (how, I have no idea!) to this then you need to get out of here and go and buy the first one. This is an awful place to start for Shrek newbies.

Having said that, though, perhaps this is the perfect place to start for Shrek newbies if you really want to see all three.....at least in terms of humour this might be good place to start - progress from least funny onwards. I found Shrek the Third very disappointing. Maybe it's because I was just having a bad day (though looking at some of the other reviews here I doubt it!). Maybe it's because I was spoilt by the first two. But I doubt it. Shrek the Third suffers from a severe lack of ideas, and those original ones that ARE implemented are sorely underused. Take for example a wonderful parody of high school life in fairytale land. Humourous, inventive and .........oh........it's gone. Puss and Donkey, comedy gold in the first two movies are reduced to bit parts and a cheap bodyswap gimmick that only really serves to show just how underwritten their parts are with only a few glimpses of their past glory. Princess Fiona's entourage provide a few laughs, the particular highlight involving Snow White's cross between Dr Doolittle and Led Zeppelin, but the pop culture references that abounded in the first two movies are few and far between. Prince Charming, whilst camped up gloriously by Rupert Everett, is also without support from the Fairy Godmother and without this double act serves to remind us just how much better a villain Lord Farquaad was.

Harsh words, perhaps, an on its own without the context of the first two movies it might stand up (hence the 3 stars), but as part of the series Shrek 3 falls flat on its face.


Persuasion (Penguin Classics)
Persuasion (Penguin Classics)
by Jane Austen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So very annoying....but undeniably wonderful, 28 Dec. 2007
Anne Elliot is without a doubt one of Jane Austen's most irritating heroines; indeed if one was to use a colour to describe her character it would be that horrible shade of beige that one sees on old Saabs. Unfortunately, though, much as I want to dislike this novel, centred around Anne, I really can't. Persuasion, written when Austen was in failing health, is possibly second only to Mansfield Park as her greatest novel, and it is precisely because of Anne flaws that it is such a wonderful book. Gone are the simplistic epitomes of high society. Gone are the heroines of old with perfect looks and perfect temperament. Anne is a sufferer of 'the-one-that-got-away syndrome' and right up til the end of the novel, the narrative, featuring a lot more free indirect speech than usual, is tinged with a sense of resignation and regret. For those that don't know, Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot, a woman now of 27 who fell in love with a young naval officer - Frederic Wentworth - eight years ago but never married because of the impending Napoleonic Wars and her family's disapproval of his low station. Now Wentworth has returned, an established Commander (but still hurting from the snub of nearly a decade ago) and the Elliot family's fortunes are growing thin. Anne has to stand by as Wentworth courts her younger, free spirited neighbour Louisa Musgrove; and, after the Elliots' move to Bath for financial reasons, a courtship of her own by the charming yet suspect William Elliot.

Persuasion is, like all Austen novels, wonderfully easy to read, and it has more than most to take from it. It is a wonderful bok to study as well, marking the parallels between Austen's life and Anne's, the historical significance of the Navy in Austen's time and their increased social standing because of the war, the subplotting is effortless, and for Westcountry lovers Bath is portrayed beautifully as one would expect. But most pleasing is the story - it isn't a one of perfection, it doesn't have every single end tied neatly, and there is still the sense of there being a certain way to go at the end of the novel. It is a very personal novel full that really blurs the lines between author and character, full of flaws and tinged with palpable nostalgia. That is why it is great.


High Fidelity
High Fidelity
by Nick Hornby
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book......if a little male orientated (...but then why not?!), 28 Dec. 2007
This review is from: High Fidelity (Paperback)
It's kind of comforting to have a book that men can call their own, and whilst this fairly, short, very accessible novel by Nick Hornby isn't going to win a sweeping amount of awards for being high literature, it is a book packed with very astute and clever insights and characterisations. Hornby's novel centres aroung protagonist Rob Fleming who has just broken up with long term girlfriend Laura, and how he is (not) dealing with it. It is a novel all about liminality, a novel of transition. An adult novel (finally) about growing up without being patronising or condescending with moments and characters that make you jump up suddenly and go 'I know someone like that!' or 'That's exactly right'. This is Hornby's gift, he textualises the most ambivalent emotional states of being and writes them down in easily identifiable form. Rob is both endearing and annoying. He can be sweet and also an utter a***hole. It is also a novel about music and its changing states. Rob's job as the store owner of Championship Vinyl provides a metaphorical backdrop for his emotional life - his inability to move with the times in terms of musical production parallels his inability to 'allow for things to happen' to himself. Supported by a wealth of interesting accomplices (in particular his co-workers: the wonderully obnoxious Barry and the beautifuly crafted, incredibly shy and nervous Dick) Rob provides a fundamentally flawed everyman to express male neuroses and anxieties that Hornby explores. No it is not a book for everyone, and I know several female friends of mine who found it rather misogynistic, but my defence of it would be that finally an author has created a novel using a that has been monopolised by female authors for decades, even centuries. With so many books out their detailing the female inner monologue and their side of emotional issues, it is rather refreshing to find a book describing the male side of that coin.


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