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Andrea Smith (London, UK)

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London River [DVD] [2009]
London River [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Brenda Blethyn
Offered by DaaVeeDee-uk
Price: 19.88

3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Parlez vous francais????, 5 Jun 2011
This review is from: London River [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Because if the answer to the above is 'Non' then there is little point in watching this film. The subtitles are sporadic to say the least; occasionally one is thrown in as an afterthought to humour the viewer. Very sloppy and doesn't add to the viewing experience, which isn't great to start with. There really is not much to say about this film other than it just drags on and is not particularly gripping or engaging. Clearly the director wanted to tackle 'multiculturalism in Britain', but did so without much conviction in my eyes.

The film apparently was not on at any cinema for very long when it came out - I can see why!! Given the subject matter - two people from different countries searching for their children in the aftermath of the London bombings in 2005, it could have been great but it's actually a bit of a damp squib.


Past Imperfect
Past Imperfect
by Lord Julian Fellowes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.79

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Back in the day", 2 Jun 2011
This review is from: Past Imperfect (Paperback)
Think having your grandfather rambling on about how things were in the good old days, only far less enjoyable, and you've more or less got the gist of what Past Imperfect is like. I struggled to page 45 and hit a wall - I was reading the same chunky paragraph over and over again, but wasn't taking in much at all. It was a tough and unenjoyable read thus far, so I am sorry to say I admitted defeat on this. The characters are dull and unlikeable and I couldn't get to grips with the writing style of the author, who goes off on a tangent sometimes and loses the reader in the process. From the little I read, it seemed to me as though Mr Fellowes is writing a book for the sake of writing one to express his own views on what is wrong with the world today, rather than actually having a decent story to tell.

Ultimately, when your eyes are glazing over as many times as mine were so early in a book, it's never a good sign and I could see little point in carrying on with it.

That said, the positive views on here seem to outweigh my negative ones, so I accept I am in the minority of people who didn't enjoy this.


The Help
The Help
by Kathryn Stockett
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.86

5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!, 28 May 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Help (Paperback)
I was looking forward to reading the Help due to the rave reviews from my friends. A quick glance on here shows almost 600 reviews and an average rating of 5 / 5 stars. Incredible. So many people can't be wrong can they?

The story is told through the eyes of the three key characters: Aibileen and Minny are black maids working for white families in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s. Miss Skeeter, missing her beloved maid Constantine, has bravely committed herself to writing a warts-and-all book about what the working conditions are for the maids.

The rather moving afterword from the author, offering a personal explanation of why she wrote the Help, was a lovely touch. She has, as Miss Skeeter did in her book, tackled a subject as delicate as racial tension with commendable ease and created a modern day masterpiece out of it. No mean feat.

There are no boring parts, and at no stage did I feel that reading the Help was a chore, it was riveting throughout and indeed, when it finishes, you are left wanting more and missing the wonderful characters dreadfully.

It is very hard to find fault of the Help, but I have seen a few poor reviews on here that claim the book is hard to get into due to Aibileen's dialect in the opening chapter. Whilst this may be true for the first few pages, it is a real shame that people will give up on a book so easily - had they persevered they would have found that in no time at all, the reader adjusts to the dialect quite quickly.

Such is the popularity of this book that whilst engrossed in it on my daily commute I had a few people lean over to ask me if it was any good. I assured them, as I would assure you, that it is more than good - it is brilliant.


The Slap
The Slap
by Christos Tsiolkas
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.50

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written and an engaging read, 25 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)
This book was languishing on my bookshelf for far too long before I made a start of it, mainly due to its poor average user rating on here. Looking at my now well-thumbed copy, with its broken and curved spine - a book which kept me up well past my bedtime, reading for so long I gave myself a headache - I can't help but feeling glad I bought it before I read all the dismal one-star reviews of it on here!!

The Slap is set in Melbourne and is about a grown up hitting a child that is not his. The plot is simple and I did wonder how the author could possibly fill a book of this size about this subject. Indeed, as others have remarked on here, the book is more a character study and less about the actual event itself. However, the same reviews seem to imply that Tsiolkas was just using the Slap as an excuse to write a book about modern day Australia. I didn't get this impression at all: the story flows nicely from the scene of the slap itself, it goes on to tell the story from the eyes of various characters that were present at the time of the incident. Tsiolkas shows his exceptional talent in the very manner he slips into each character, regardless of their age, ethnic group or sexuality, with incredible, admirable ease. He invites the reader into the character's lives and thoughts with his frank and realistic writing, shows us their individual beliefs, and delves into their upbringing so we can see where these morals come from. Whether your belief is that the slap was right or wrong there will be times through the book where you will question your own standpoint as you get to know each of the main characters and their differing views on child discipline (amongst other things), and for this I think Tsiolkas deserves credit.

This is not always an easy read, it is actually sometimes a little uncomfortable, as Tsiolkas bravely tackles taboo subjects such as racism, domestic violence and more notably, ethnic minorities and how they are sometimes portrayed in society. If you are of sensitive disposition, find swearing offensive and dislike sexual references then perhaps give this book a miss. On the other hand if you are looking for a gritty, well-written novel of modern living that really gets under your skin and gives you food for thought throughout, then give this a go.

I hope my five stars goes some way to restoring credibility to this literary gem on here and that people are not put off by the poor reviews. I will definitely read more by Tsiolkas in the future. Incidentally, I also note from the sticker on the front cover that The Slap was nominated for the Galaxy National Book awards; a much deserved accolade if indeed it did / does win.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2012 3:35 PM GMT


Sony ICFC7IP Clock Radio for iPod - Silver
Sony ICFC7IP Clock Radio for iPod - Silver

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Compact and easy to use, but lacking in quality, 25 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I think this product has a higher overall star rating than it deserves on here and I just can't see what all the fuss is about with it. Yes it is compact and if you've got a very limited amount of space on your bedside table then perhaps this is the right alarm clock for you but it certainly isn't worthy of 5 stars in my humble opinion.

PROS:

- Easy to set up
- Once set up, the alarms activate and deactivate at the click of a button
- Small enough to look neat in even the most elegant bedroom; the iPod tray slides neatly away when not in use
- Very good FM radio signal is great, with no fuzziness
- The brightness that others report isn't an issue for me at all

CONS:

- As others have mentioned, it is very lightweight and easy to knock over but, more frustratingly, the slide out iPod tray is awful. It's flimsy and unlike most docks where you can just slot your iPod in easily, with this you have to hold the delicate tray while you do it, for fear of it snapping off if you don't. This is very annoying because I normally manage to knock a few buttons in the process of trying to get my iPhone or iPod in / almost tip the unit over / muffle the speakers. Similar care must be taken to extract my iPhone in the morning.

- There are only two alarms, A and B. I might sound a little ungrateful here but my old PURE alarm clock and CD player which I replaced with this had 6 alarm settings, so maybe I was spoilt with that but I would have liked at least three different alarms from Sony on this one. Sometimes I do have to get up at different times during the week and on weekends and with only two alarms it means constant re-programming of the alarms.

- Also on the subject of the alarm, the buttons for A and B are on the side which is unfortunate given that it is quite easy to switch the alarms on and off accidentally, as I found out this morning (luckily for me I realised before it could wake me up tomorrow at 5:25am on my day off!)

- I don't think it's that cheap for a clock radio (considering the quality), so I can't really say it's value for money and I would actually have rather paid a little more to have had a higher standard alarm clock. After all, a good one should last years.

So although it's not terrible, it's far from perfect and given that I only bought this on the basis of all the five star reviews, I hope that the above gives you a little more insight and inspires you to consider other alarm clocks before this one. Maybe because I bought this product at the same time as my new docking speakers for my living room: the Sony RDPX50IP iPod Speaker Dock, which is absolutely excellent (but unfortunately not an alarm clock), that I was a little disappointed in this clock radio but I do actually wish I'd chosen a different product.

*UPDATE* (4th August 2011): some three months later and the radio reception is poor and fuzzy on all stations (I live in an area which has a very good FM radio reception so this is unacceptable). It makes no difference where I move the aerial. As a result, I only use it for the iPod function, and listen to the radio on it as little as possible and cannot recommend this product. I have deducted a star from its overall rating and I will never purchase anything that doesn't have DAB again!!


Sony RDPX50IP iPod Speaker Dock for iPod/iPhone with Media Playback
Sony RDPX50IP iPod Speaker Dock for iPod/iPhone with Media Playback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe the reviews!!, 22 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It has to be said that in recent years I've avoided Sony products as I thought their standards had slipped a little given the problems friends and family have had with their Sony purchases. However I decided to buy this iPod dock for my living room because it's one of the few that is small enough to fit onto the shelf below my TV and also based on the reasonable price and outstanding reviews. WOW. What can I say other than it has blown me away!! Simple to use (just plug in and go, I didn't even bother opening the instructions) I turned it on and couldn't believe my ears at the rich sound that eminated from the speakers. It really is incredible and definitely worth the 5 stars that the majority of the reviewers on here have awarded it. I haven't compared it to a similar Bose system as others have but I'm not surprised in the slightest at how well it fares against its pricier counterparts. It looks the part and performs beautifully and is absolutely amazing value for money - I really cannot recommend it highly enough.


Dallas: The Complete Season 1 and 2 [DVD] [1978]
Dallas: The Complete Season 1 and 2 [DVD] [1978]
Dvd ~ Victoria Principal
Price: 15.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Totally addictive, 3 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Although I was yet to be born when Dallas first hit the screens in 1978, my childhood is filled with fond memories of the whole family gathering on the weekends to watch the latest episode of this fabulous TV series, so I could not resist when I stumbled upon the 1st and 2nd Series being sold on Amazon at such a bargain price.

From the minute you hear that familiar, exciting theme tune, you can't help but get totally sucked into the world of Dallas. Yes, series 1 and 2 may be over 30 years old but, save for the fashion (much of which has come back into fashion in recent years anyway!), it is as relevant today as it was then: with topics such as alcoholism, drug use, infidelity and relationship break-ups still ones that we can all relate to. It's easy to see why this was one of the most successful TV shows of all time.

What more can I say, other than I ordered Series 3 and 4 before I had even finished the 2nd! Series 2 ends, as I can expect from future seasons, on a cliffhanger. The viewer gets to see a rare, touching moment: the sight of the normally ruthless, hard-as-nails JR breaking down in tears. I won't say anymore as I don't want to spoil your viewing pleasure if you haven't seen it yet, suffice to say I cried along with him. And promptly ripped open the cellophane wrapper of series 3!

Don't be put off by the negative comments about the quality of the DVDs; they are not perfect, marred by the odd blip - and there is one episode on my copy that didn't play at all (boo, hiss!!!) - but on the whole they are perfectly watchable and before we are too harsh on the producers, lets not forget what they had to work with to start with. Technology in the Dallas days was not as advanced as it is now so it's unrealistic to expect blu-ray quality. Personally I'm so happy to have it back that the odd jumpy screen is something I'll happily put up with. Buy this and enjoy a nostaligic trip to Southfork!! I wish you many hours of Dallas viewing pleasure.


Tamara  Drewe [DVD]
Tamara Drewe [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gemma Arterton
Price: 3.69

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A confused film that somehow works... just, 2 April 2011
This review is from: Tamara Drewe [DVD] (DVD)
After a promising start the film meanders off into a whirlwind of plots before wrapping up surprisingly sharply at the end. It is almost as if Frears acknowledged that the film was drifting off into nothing towards the middle and hastily injected a dramatic twist to save it. The cast is good and the acting hard to fault, although I can't shake off the feeling that the film tries to cram in too much and cover too many characters, flitting between all of them which makes it feel a bit more like a TV show than a film. In terms of genre I think it doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be a drama or a comedy and floats somewhere between the two. Ultimately it doesn't quite cut it as a comedy, although there are some amusing, witty lines in there. As far as the "romance" goes, the outcome is entirely predictable and thus a little disappointing.

This is not one of the best I've ever seen, not by a long shot, however the strong, realistic acting and the twist at the end, together with the odd chuckle the film elicits, just about keeps the viewer's attention throughout.


Due Date [DVD] [2010]
Due Date [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.92

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A comedy, you say?, 1 April 2011
This review is from: Due Date [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Hilarious?? Really? I had very high hopes for this film after two of my friends told me how funny it was. I'm relieved to see, judging by the the vast number of one-star reviews of this film on here, that I didn't have some kind of sense of humour bypass just before watching it. Because believe me, I usually laugh at anything - and I love even the most macho comedies (the Hangover being one of them), but Due Date isn't remotely funny (number of laugh-out-loud moments during the film...mm...zero!!).

Zach Galifianakis as Ethan played pretty much the same character as in the Hangover, which is starting to look a bit tired, but might have worked had they not made Robert Downey Jnr's character, Peter, uptight, hostile and downright unlikeable from start to finish.

I watched it right through to the end only to see if it could raise one laugh from me. It didn't. Even the dog failed to amuse. If punching a 10 year old kid in the stomach, spitting in a dog's face and mocking a disabled man is the kind of thing you find humorous then go ahead and watch this. Personally I found it unsettling and seriously unfunny!


Winter's Bone [DVD] [2010]
Winter's Bone [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Lawrence

6 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Deep and meaningful... or boring and depressing?, 1 April 2011
This review is from: Winter's Bone [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I can't understand all the rave reviews this film; it is not deep and meaningful and intelligent - it's dull, boring and very depressing. Ree spends the first 70 odd minutes of the film wandering from house to house trying to find her missing father and being told to go home by various gormless hard-done-by folk. It just didn't do it for me, if that makes me unintelligent in others' eyes because I failed to see how 'profound' this film is then I make no apologies for that. This is just my honest opinion of the film.

I've given it an extra star for the quality of the acting - they did a very good job of the hillbilly accent to the point where most of the time you have no idea what they are saying - but overall I didn't enjoy this film and I wouldn't recommend it. I've heard that the book is better but having watched the film, I think I might just give that a miss too!


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