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Brian Levine

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Secret Britain: The Hidden Bits of Our History
Secret Britain: The Hidden Bits of Our History
by Justin Pollard
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.20

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem, 12 Dec 2010
A gem from the hand of Justin Pollard, QI genie and film and TV history boffin. This book invites you into the secret world of British history that the schoolbooks don't really go into and each story is quirky, amusing and in many cases downright unbelievable, despite the fact that they are all true. A great Christmas pressie for young and old alike. Great value, class act, well-reviewed, you can't go wrong really.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Lens
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Lens
Price: 495.00

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic daylight outdoor telephoto zoom, 14 Nov 2010
This lens is for outdoors daylight telephoto shots requiring F4 or higher: in a low light it MUST have a tripod or you'll only get 1 in 5 shots, and forget moving subjects. If you need indoors then get a faster (and much more pricey) lens (F2.8) because your shutter speed will be so slow you'll go soft as jelly.

Outdoors it is a dream: it really is just as good as the F2.8 or IS equivalents: superb bokeh, lovely sharpness, good colour. The AF/USM is fast and quiet.

For the money this is as good a telephoto as you'll get: it is relatively light when compared to its faster incarnation but it is still a little heavy on a 7D with battery pack carried for a few hours. It is a long lens when you have the largish hood on, so camera bags need to be chosen accordingly.

The Loewpro backpack/rucksack with weather-sealing is pretty good because you can carry this on the camera with the hood on and still have room for 4 primes, filters. cables, tripod ring and a netbook.

On a 7D which is what I use it on there is no noticeable vignetting and the focal range is 112mm - 320mm which gives at its shortest fantastic portraits worthy of a good prime and at its longest is almost a paparazzo lens.

Just remember, what you need for this to show off its potential is daylight.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 23, 2013 3:44 PM GMT

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest [Blu-ray] [1976] [Region Free]
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest [Blu-ray] [1976] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Jack Nicholson
Price: 7.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films of all time in any viewing format, 14 Dec 2009
I've seen the film in every format and 35mm will win every time, but for a home viewing experience on a massive screen then this version is worth getting.

It is an '18' for good reason: a safe and easy world, harmless fun and high-jinks, knowing that you'll be set free in 68 days is one thing. Pretend to be nuts to get off doing some manual labour - people have been doing this all the time. But the consequences of this decision for R P McMurphy, played to perfection by Jack Nicholson, in his prime, are horrifically unexpected.

The conflict between RP and Nurse Ratchet has been discussed ad nauseum in other reviews: yes, it is superb, and the inner workings and motivations of the nurse will keep you up at night, especially if you're planning a hospital visit at any point in the near future. But there are many many more things about this film that are truly brilliant, and creepy. It is difficult to set these out without nudging into spoiler territory, so I'll just say that the supporting cast is magnificent: a young, non-bald Devito, a crazed Christopher Lloyd and other lesser known characters make up the rest of the nut-house.

The most worrying thing for me is: who's to say who is mad, and what's going to happen to them?

A buy, definitely, although definitely not for the under 18s.

Secret Britain: The Hidden Bits of Our History
Secret Britain: The Hidden Bits of Our History
by Justin Pollard
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a secretive little lot we are..., 20 Oct 2009
If you like dipping into a book in bite-sized pieces and you like quirky, well-researched and entertaining historical nuggets then this new work by historical expert Justin Pollard (QI, Atonement, Elizabeth, Time Team) might just be for you.

Like a cross between a literary 'Little Britain' and 'Bleak House', you'll find yourself puzzling over strange conundra that foxed the Brits of yesteryear and will find yourself wondering how many of our modern-day secrets and mysteries lie buried, waiting to be exposed...

Mesrine - Parts 1 & 2  [DVD]
Mesrine - Parts 1 & 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Vincent Cassel
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 7.23

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nostalgic violent thriller with superb performance from Vincent Cassell, 26 Aug 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mesrine - Parts 1 & 2 [DVD] (DVD)
This is the first of the two part 'Mesrine' films based on the true-life story of one of France's more colourful bank robbers. It's filmed in true 1960s French style, grainy, split-screen and the detailing of the rise of the criminal, French style, contrasts with the rise, say, of Tony Montana in 'Scarface'. The French just have their own way of doing things, and Mesrine, although violent, uses bravado and cunning intelligence as well as a winning smile to get what he wants.

Vincent Cassell is superb: a true chameleon, he performs best in his native language (this is a French film with English subtitles). He can snap at any moment and his volatility drives the plot forward. Cecile de France was almost unrecognisable in a black wig and she plays her role in an ultra- realistic way.

The film is long but it never drags - not once - and is violent from start to finish. It is also very French, and if you are used to Hollywood cop-killer fodder then this will either be a breath of European fresh air or an education or both. There is no lingering between scenes, or even years. The director and editor have cut this movie very tightly.

Well worth a look.

What Just Happened [DVD]
What Just Happened [DVD]

5.0 out of 5 stars Oh my good God..., 18 Feb 2009
This review is from: What Just Happened [DVD] (DVD)
As someone who has the pleasure of sometimes working in the wonderful and wacky world of film, I have to say that there's a lot of this that is so true it hurts.

The massive egos of the stars are massaged by the thrice-divorced producer played by De Niro whose life is one of ferrying estranged teenage daughters to school and then finding out about their extra-curricular activities (think Californication and you have it).

Bruce Willis was brave to play himself in such a vicious, preening, footstamping way. Likewise Sean Penn. Dear old 'Jeremy', the Keith Richards lookalike director with feathers in his hair and white powder up his nose is so ridiculous he actually reminds me of a real film director I once met, and the Machiavellian studio exec is played to a tee by the delightful Catherine Keener, whose similarity to certain real-life Hollywood personae must not have gone unnoticed (this film would have been a bigger hit at the box office because of De Niro's classic performance but for the decision to max it out at only 88 screens).

There's a great washroom scene where De Niro is made an offer most red-blooded males would simply not refuse...

And then, of course, there's the dog.

Watch it to find out what's so key about our four-legged friend.

It's a great film. If there were a school for film producers (the closest is probably Ford Open Prison) then this would be required viewing.

Buy it.

Shine A Light [DVD]
Shine A Light [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mick Jagger
Offered by Discs4all
Price: 4.19

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Want to see the Rolling Stones live?, 16 Jan 2009
This review is from: Shine A Light [DVD] (DVD)
This is a one-off recent concert which is fun, has all the big recognisable songs, guest spots by Jack White III and Christina Aguillera, and some lovely old footage from forty years before. The Scorsese bits were a little too staged for my liking, but the fact these guys are even walking let alone jumping up and down and wiggling their hips well into their sixties is a testament to their drive and the timelessness of their music.

You'll love this if you're a real Stones fan: the harsh movie lighting highlights the dimples in Keith's arms and the gnarled state of his knuckles, accentuates the lines on Mick's face and the sheer age of good ole Charlie Watts, who does a good job in appearing bemused during the gig itself and in the black and white footage.

The Stones executive-produced this film themselves, but it's too easy to pass it off as another money-spinner because it is fun and although the sound quality is not amazing, you do get a chance to get up close and personal with some of the oldest rockers on the planet.

A nice gift for a Stones fan...

Charge!: The Interesting Bits of Military History
Charge!: The Interesting Bits of Military History
by Justin Pollard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.45

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth is stranger than fiction - and war is stranger than peace, 1 Dec 2008
A great stocking-filler and fun read, especially for anyone with either (a) a sense of humour or (b) a love of history.

A fun present for dads everywhere!

Chart Throb
Chart Throb
by Ben Elton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.46

4.0 out of 5 stars A great romp if you like watching Sharon, Simon and Louis at work..., 20 Nov 2008
This review is from: Chart Throb (Paperback)
Think X Factor pushed to the max in terms of absurdness, and you have 'Chart Throb' in a nutshell. Ben Elton does not remotely try to hide the similarities between his fictional judges and the real ones.

The funniest moments for me in this novel involved one unlikely and well-known contestant in the 'reality' contest. I'm sorry, but the notion of this particular dignitary having a 'pleasant light baritone' and singing the songs he is given by the Cowellesque judge evokes ribald images as good as anything Elton has ever conjured up.

It's a great book, unless you belong to the 0.00001% of the population that doesn't have a TV set.

Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360)
Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360)
Offered by Gameline GmbH.
Price: 12.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting view of the 'real world'..., 25 May 2008
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
I like the premise - a thinly disguised NYC - but the underlying anti-immigrant/Eastern European/only way to make money message is disturbing when you consider that although the game is slated as being an 18, I think you'll find that a hell of a lot of under 18s are playing this. I didn't find the graphics mind-boggling. They're good, but I have yet to find a game that can mimic a studio-engineered TV sales trailer.

I think that if you want a bit of escapism then this'll do the trick; just don't expect it to necessarily live up to all the hype. Remember, it's just a sequel...
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 30, 2008 12:06 PM BST

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