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Reviews Written by
Alan J. Stedall "yoss_uk" (Birmingham, UK)

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Female Agents: Double Disc Special Edition
Female Agents: Double Disc Special Edition
Dvd ~ Sophie Marceau

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Film: Gripping to the End !, 6 Mar 2010
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I bought this DVD having seen a short excerpt of it on the charity compilation of military films "Heroes".

I had pretty mediocre expectations of it, thinking it would be perhaps a bit along the school-boy adventure lines of "Where Eagles Dare" or "The Eagle has Landed".

Instead, I was very pleasantly surprised indeed.

Yes, the action sequences are exciting, filmed partially in a hand-held camera, almost documentary, style that makes them all the more involving.

However, I found the plot fascinating: Would the team of female agents achieve their mission, would they survive ? And I thought the characterisation of the actors, including the German "opposition", was excellent, very convincing.

Please be aware: The sound track of the film is in French, supported by English sub-titles. Like other positive reviewers on this page, I didn't find this at all off-putting.

Is the film historically accurate ? Probably not at a detailed level. But in terms of atmosphere and sentiment, certainly real enough for me. I don't think members of the French Resistance combined with the German Gestapo in WW2 to make documentary films of their actual activities ?

I will certainly watch this film a second time. It is one of the most exciting, gripping and under-publicised films I have come across. The title "Female Agents" really doesn't do it justice; it sounds a bit too much like "Charlie's Angels".

By the way, I bought the two disc edition of the film. I found the second disc, that contains a description of the making and some cut scenes, very interesting in itself. It makes one appreciate the complexity and planning that is involved in making this type of film. Hence I recommend the two disc set.

Finally, I am surprised at some of the negative reviews I see on this page. Perhaps I am too easily pleased ? If so, I consider that that is my good fortune, and the bad luck of the detractors !

LAMY vista Ballpoint Pen
LAMY vista Ballpoint Pen
Offered by Avatar Express
Price: £6.33

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great ball-point pen, 21 May 2009
Some simple, every day, inexpensive things in life not only fulfill their basic function, but are a pleasure to use and to own.

So it is wiith the Lamy Vista M16 ball-point pen. It does its basic job as a writing tool, but also looks professional, without being OTT, and feels great to handle and in use.


However, why Amazon should class pens as "toys" baffles me....

Blue Slipper
Blue Slipper
Price: £9.40

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iconic Album, 15 May 2009
This review is from: Blue Slipper (Audio CD)
This is just a great and unique jazz/blues album without a single bad track. The songs themselves travel through a variety of styles, ranging from tough rock (You're the Exception) to gentle nostalgia (Blue Slipper).

On this album Helen Watson demonstrates her own unique, versatile and expressive feel for jazz styles that is a pleasure to listen to.

One of my most favourite albums, cruelly overlooked and hugely under-rated.

Highly recommended.

Bare Bones
Bare Bones
Offered by Hot Cakes
Price: £6.37

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Honey and lemon syrup for the soul", 15 May 2009
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This review is from: Bare Bones (Audio CD)
This is a beautifully produced album, with the musical backing perfectly complementing Madeline Peyroux's voice and unique singing style.

The very best tracks (I would single out "Damn the circumstances" and "River of tears") have a hauntingly exquisite quality that is just wholly satisfying.... a sort of "honey and lemon syrup for the soul".

Great album. I bought two more copies for friends.


Empire: Total War (PC DVD)
Empire: Total War (PC DVD)
Offered by Digitalville UK
Price: £7.68

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing !, 7 Mar 2009
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
I have most of the "Total War" series, including "Rome" and "Medieval II".

"Medieval II Kingdoms" is an excellent (if very addictive) game; great game-play, great AI and highly realistic graphics.

Given the step-change improvement on each release of the Total War series, my expectation of "Empire", supported by reviews, was huge.

However, I have found it a great disappointment.

Firstly, it has caused Windows to crash several times on my machine. No other game has ever done this.

Secondly, it runs like a dog. Again the game performance of previous Total War games on this same machine has not been a problem.

Thirdly, the graphic representation of figures in battle scenes seems to have gone back a decade; groups of figures "slide" in synchronised fashion over the landscape in a strange and artifical manner; as if superimposed on a two dimenional background, rather than inhabiting a three dimensional world.

As to the quality of its game-play: Don't know I have never managed to get that far.

I struggle to understand how the "Total War" team, having won such a great reputation for themselves over many years, should now want to throw it all away by releasing a game like this. Baffling ! Is this the influence of SEGA ?

I returned my copy of Empire Total War to Amazon today; I already have enough coffee coasters...

My advice: buy a copy of "Medieval II Kingdoms" or, if you have one already, stick to it !

That Lucky Old Sun (CD + DVD)
That Lucky Old Sun (CD + DVD)
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £4.25

5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beyond disappointing !, 16 Oct 2008
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I am a long-time Beach Boys fan. I have most of their albums and certainly all of their hits, which I listen to frequently. Brian Wilson's composition of numbers such as "When I Grow Up (to be a Man)", "Here Today", "Wendy" and of course, "God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations", reveal, in their melodic construction and satisfying coherence, a talent nothing short of musical genius.

Encouraged by five star reviews on this page, I bought this "That Lucky Old Sun" album.

The album has some interesting harmonies but, for me, that's about it. I find the music aimless and lacking coherence. It's as if we are exposed to Brian's own vain, internal mental searching to re-find the magical keys of his previous great talent.

So, in a way I found this album more than simply disappointing. I found it intensely frustrating to realise that such a once brilliant talent has apparently been finally lost to us and reduced to almost meaningless meanderings.

My advice. Don't buy the album. Simply remember Brian Wilson for the great musical genius he once was and don't impoverish his memory with what you hear on this album.

Plato's Children: The State We are in
Plato's Children: The State We are in
by Helena Frith Powell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.76

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 24 Aug 2008
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This is an extremely well written book and a great read, both in terms of its highly perceptive intellectual "thrusts" and the author's fluid writing style, which makes for a highly enjoyable "read" in itself. It is true that it does contain typographical errors and also that at times, O'Hear comes close to being a "grumpy old philosopher".

However, in my view, these minor issues do nothing to dilute what is, in effect, a set of excellent essays that challenge the comfortable, consensual and politically-correct moral relativism of Britain today, and the resultant intellectual and spiritual vacuity.

You don't have to agree with O'Hear, but his criticisms are sufficiently rational and pointed that they give pause for consideration and reflection, if only to think through one's grounds for contending his viewpoint.

Perhaps one of the principle accomplishments of any worthwhile philosophical work is to place the reader at sufficient distance from the "zeitgeist" of his time that he can actually perceive it, i.e. "allowing the goldfish to see the water in which they swim". On this basis, "Plato's Children" qualifies as a worthwhile and, dare I say it, very accessible philosophical work.

I would recommend this book to anyone who finds life in 20th Century Britain vapid, but cannot grasp why. O'Hear points the way.

A damn good book

Sennheiser Eco Ear Canal Headphones - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)
Sennheiser Eco Ear Canal Headphones - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Value !, 10 Aug 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The CX300's offer exceptional sound quality; in terms of revealed detail, tonal range, "roundness" and just overall musicality.

When listening to familiar mp3 tracks, I hear new detail for the first time and find new interest and pleasure. A bit like having an old familiar painting cleaned of acquired grime and smudge.

At £17 they almost put to shame my Sennheiser HD650's (fully-enclosing head-phones) that cost almost ten times as much: I have to admit the HD650's are more comfortable to wear, though :-)

I understand from the reviews below that the CX300's may fail after six months or so. Well at £17 this will still have cost me less than £3 per month, so even if they do fail, in my view they will have been a bargain.

Well recommended.

Logitech Harmony One UK - Advanced Universal Remote Control
Logitech Harmony One UK - Advanced Universal Remote Control
Offered by 3B-IT Ltd
Price: £89.00

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of kit !, 19 Mar 2008
This device is light-weight, built to a very high quality and beautifully sculptured, all of which makes it a real pleasure to use. The layout of the buttons is a considerable improvement on previous Logitech models. The programmable built-in screen display is clear and touch-sensitive: even this is adjustable.

You need to have a PC to program the Logitech, but once you are familar with the concept of defining "devices" and then assembling these into combinations of "activities", it is a piece of cake.

If you find that one of the infra-red functions doesn't work for a particular device, you can easily "teach" the Logitech using your old remote for that device.

The buttons and the touch-screen are programmable, so if you need to change say, the volume control to activate your amplifier rather than your TV, this is easily achieved.

Even small details have been well thought through. For instance the power cable to the charging "holster" can either be connected to the top of the holster or the bottom of it, thereby reducing the length of cable left dangling.

All in all, a very nice piece of kit to own and use. I can't really fault it. Well recommended.

English Landscapes
English Landscapes
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £17.98

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, another Halle Masterpiece !, 23 Aug 2007
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This review is from: English Landscapes (Audio CD)
Having previously purchased the Halle Debussy/Matthews "Lar Mer & Preludes" CD and thoroughly enjoyed it, I purchased this CD very much "on spec".

I wasn't disappointed. I had never previously heard the "Tintagel" composition, but was immediately taken by it. Powerful, moving, evolving are the best descriptors I can offer of this piece. "The fall of the leaf" is equally touching and enigmatic. I have many copies of VW's "Lark Ascending", but the Halle version on this CD is second to none.

Each of the chosen pieces on this CD wonderfully complement each other. A true situation where 2 + 2 = 5 !

Well (and easily) recommended to lovers of English Musical Landscapes.

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