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Jack Downey (Ireland)

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Jeremy Clarkson - The Good The Bad The Ugly [DVD] [2006]
Jeremy Clarkson - The Good The Bad The Ugly [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Clarkson
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.57

3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing, 10 Jan 2011
I struggled to pick a start rating for this. If you like Jeremy Clarkson, you'll probably enjoy this. If you're American, you probably won't, because this is essentially a hatchet job on the American performance car.

It's set on the race track and there is lots of tire smoke as Jeremy goes sideways with each car. However, he sets out his bias at the start - he's not a fan of America in general and doesn't like its cars. The rest of the DVD sets out to "prove" that these are no good.

However, some of the comparisons are ridiculous. For instance, he has the Stig lap the track in a Dodge Ram and then in an Ariel Atom. Unsurprisingly, the Atom is significantly quicker. However, Jeremy doesn't then bolt a tow bar to the Atom, so they can compare their towing abilities.

Another strange scene was Jeremy driving a Jaguar XK8 through Death Valley and waxing lyrically about its wonders. How come he doesn't race an American car in this? Or even acknowledge that it was an American company, Ford, who taught Jaguar the meaning of quality.

So at the end of this DVD, you will know that American cars are not like European cars. But you probably knew this already. What I think would have been more interesting is if Jeremy had explored what makes a great car for an American. I'm sure he'd quickly realize that Americans have a different set of requirements to us Europeans and maybe our cars are not so good in an American context.

Robin Hood - Extended Director's Cut [DVD]
Robin Hood - Extended Director's Cut [DVD]
Dvd ~ Russell Crowe
Offered by 247dvd
Price: 2.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don;t take it too seriously and it's great!, 22 Dec 2010
There has been a lot of controversy about the historical accuracy of this version of Robin Hood, but if you forget all about that, it's a rattling good yarn. The director's cut makes a substantial difference - it explains who those weird youngsters in the strange masks are.

Okay, the accents are all over the place. I've spent some time around Nottingham and one of the labourers in one scene struck me as having the real rural Nottingham accent, but Russel Crowe's is strange to say the least. The last battle scene seems to come straight from Saving Private Ryan. I'm sure landing craft with opening front doors weren't invented in Robin Hood's time.

But overall, I found this immensely entertaining. Go for it!

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
by Jimmy Carter
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Balance, 20 Dec 2009
Anyone who takes an interest in the Israel/Palestine situation will quickly be confronted by two distinct discourses. On the one hand, we have those who laud plucky little Israel's existential struggle against all those dastardly Arabs, while on the other we get a picture of pastoral Palestinians, happily tending their flocks and growing olives, until those dastardly Zionists arrived. Jimmy Carter's book stands out for being somewhere between these extremes. The former president is four-square behind the state of Israel, but is not blind to its excesses. For that reason alone, this is a worthwhile read.

However, there are a few disappointments. During the first half of the book, I enjoyed Mr Carter's personal account of the Holy Land. However, the book becomes more formal as it proceeds and events like Yasser Arafat's death and Ariel Sharon's coma are baldly recited, without learning how he felt about them.

There is also a sense of trying to get ideas out there under the censor's radar. For instance, when he gives brief descriptions of Israel's neighbours, Mr Carter's account of Saudi Arabia is positively idyllic. Yet in the last paragraph he mention's the U.S.'s "willingness to overlook in Saudi Arabia serious human rights violations". What violations? This is the first we've heard of them.

Also, I found his basic premise that the "Two-State Solution" is the only answer a bit simplistic. When I visited the West Bank in 2008, moderate Palestinians I met expressed no problems with having an Israeli flag flying over the whole territory - as long as they could be equal citizens in this "One-State Solution". It seems strange, in our modern, pluralist world, that the notion of a state that guarantees hegemony to a particular ethic group is accepted without question.

In summary, this is a well written book that offers something for both sides of the argument.

No Man's Land: Dispatches from the Middle East
No Man's Land: Dispatches from the Middle East
by Richard Crowley
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Good reporting, but weak analysis, 29 April 2009
I would advise anyone reading this book to skip the introduction - it's the weakest part of the book. It contains a potted history of the conflict and gives the impression that a two-state solution is the only possible outcome.

However, once Richard Crowley plays to his strengths in the rest of the book, it becomes a worthwhile read. Crowley is a reporter and he is at his best when he reports on facts and particularly when he recounts his interviews with locals. He is a good writer - one of the few modern journalists who doesn't split infinitives - and the book is an easy read.

Besides the weak introduction, I would also quibble with his tendency to be subjective in his reporting. However, having said that, he does not seem to take sides - giving the impression that he does not approve of either the Israeli or Palestinian leadership. I also think the book would have more weight if he provided references for his background information.

Overall, I liked it!

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
by Naomi Klein
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and frightening book, 15 April 2009
Many years ago, I read Milton Friedman's book "Free to Choose". At the time I thought it made a lot of sense, but I came away with the impression that Friedman was a one-trick pony - believing that the private sector held the answer to everything.

Now, having read "The Shock Doctrine", I realize that "Free to Choose" was written after Friedman got the chance to try out his theories in real life. The fact that his free market reforms lead to massive unemployment and spectacular inequality in societies that practice them didn't seem to give Friedman pause for thought. What is particularly striking about Naomi Klein's book is her assertion that the free market has nothing to do with democracy. Effectively, the neo-liberals and later neo-conservatives are actually neo-colonials out to get their hands on countries' public utilities for the greater good of massive multi-nationals.

"The Shock Doctrine" is that rare book where scholarly research is presented in a readable formet. If some of the things that have happened in recent times don't make sense, read this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Cult Car - The Ford Capri [DVD]
Cult Car - The Ford Capri [DVD]
Dvd ~ Cult Car
Offered by Not2day Media
Price: 5.95

1.0 out of 5 stars Not what you'd expect, 2 Dec 2008
Although John Hill is a legend in Capri circles and has done done more than his fair share to keep the Capri legend alive, I'm afraid I have to give this a thumbs down.

If you read the blurb on the back of the DVD, you are led to expect a run-down on all the Capri models. Sadly, the only Capris you see are those that turned up at the show in Badger's Hill. So I found it visually disappointing.

The interviews aren't much better. John talks his way through the Capri's evolution, which would be useful for a novice, but of little interest to the hard-core Capri owner. The interviews with Capri owners at the show are a bit stilted.

Overall, a disappointing production.

Big Babies: Or: Why Can't We Just Grow Up?
Big Babies: Or: Why Can't We Just Grow Up?
by Michael Bywater
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.43

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well argued piece, 27 Feb 2007
Michael Bywater hit the nail on the head by opening this book with the statement: "Something has gone wrong". I've felt the same way for years now, but could never articulate exactly what it is, unlike Mr. Bywater. It seems that all our woes can be traced back to the Baby Boomer generation refusing to grow up and both behaving and treating others like big babies.

I found this a much better read than his 2004 offering, "Lost Worlds". Instead of being a collection of snippets, the entire book develops the Big Baby thesis in Michael Bywater's unique style. It's thought-provoking and entertaining - what more do you want!

Be a (wo)man and buy the thing!

Little Fish [DVD] [2006]
Little Fish [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Cate Blanchett
Offered by rightpricediscs
Price: 4.25

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, but harrowing, 31 Oct 2006
This review is from: Little Fish [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
First off, if you're looking for mindless entertainment, this is not for you. It's the tale of a recovering drug addict and the director makes us work to pick up the story - there are no voiceovers or flashbacks, so all we're left with is the dialogue. That proved to be a problem for me as there is a lot of muttering in strong Australian accents and my hearing is not the best. Also, subtitles are not available.

Having said that, there are some very strong performances. Cate Blanchett is as good as ever, looking a bit like David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase. You spend the entire film wondering if she'll fall off the wagon. Hugo Weaving is superb as the bi-sexual, heroin addict, Lionel Dawson.

It has a low-budget feel to it and some of the editing is sloppy. But it's powerful stuff and having watched it several times since I bought it, I always seem to get a bit more out of it each time.

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