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S. Ahmad (Surrey, UK)

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The Hunger Games [DVD]
The Hunger Games [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Lawrence
Price: 5.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Lord of the Flies - American Style, 8 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Hunger Games [DVD] (DVD)
Interesting how Art mimics Life. The Americans produce many films about bad men, desperadoes, maniacs, killers, gangsters and the like - exactly reflecting the kind of society they have. They also produce many films about extremely wealthy people lording it over the general population, who are often depicted as relatively poor or living in squalor - just like in real life. And of course there are countless Science Fiction films where assorted aliens and monsters make America their first port of call - wreaking havoc and destruction on a wayward, Godless society. A case of just desserts?

The Hunger Games - America sometime in the future - where you have wealthy, powerful people living in the lap of luxury and controlling the lives of the masses who live a hand to mouth existence. Nothing far-fetched about that. The masses are sketchily depicted and not a patch on the film Elysium, which I saw before Christmas. Where the dispossessed really do live in a squalor that you can believe in. And then you have the Games - which is what the film is all about: unlucky children selected in a 'Lucky Dip' and forced to run around in a patch of woodland killing each other - until one is left. All this being eagerly lapped up by a degenerate populace.

In many ways it reminded me of the Romans and their idea of entertainment in the Circus Maximus. But at least the Romans had culture, which is something conspicuously lacking in the United States. So what we have now, 2000 years after the Romans, is a population hooked on Game Shows and Celebrities and glued to one sort of screen or another. Nice one. Is that progress?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 9, 2014 5:58 PM BST

Inside Llewyn Davis [DVD] [2014]
Inside Llewyn Davis [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Oscar Isaac
Price: 10.00

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A long, slow, sparse and sad film. Different from your usual fare., 27 Feb 2014
Other reviewers have covered the plot in detail, so I'll be brief. The film is about the life of a folk singer, desperate to find work. And the people who, to a greater or lesser extent, are part of his life. And a lovable ginger cat who is the only constant throughout the film. The film homes in on his relationships with his ex girlfriend, family friends, father, music agents, night club owner, fellow singers, people with whom he has hitched a lift. Three locations - New York mainly, Chicago briefly, and a long road journey between the two. Pleasant 1960s folk music, huge landscapes with never ending roads, muted colours: it all could be quite boring. But, interestingly, all the characters have been slightly exaggerated and made ever so slightly eccentric - so there are ridiculous arguments and flashes of humour that punctuate the dreariness of it all. And in the end, you are left surprisingly moved and feel you have seen a film that is quite unusual that has perfectly captured the essence of its' subject.

The Wolf of Wall Street [DVD] [2013]
The Wolf of Wall Street [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: 10.00

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing succeeds like excess., 30 Jan 2014
The American Dream... or is it a nightmare? This film revolves around the life of one man, his work, his relationships with the people around him, his marriage, his home, his possessions, and above all his money. All these things are very important to Americans, especially the last of these - money. In fact you could say that money rules. It buys power & influence, many lovely material possessions, the company of beautiful women (and men), unlimited quantities of high quality food, alcohol, drugs and sex. All this simply achieved by exploiting, cheating, defrauding, and walking all over other people. Easy, just be single-minded and throw all moral values out of the window.

Yes, the film is unsavoury, gross, offensive. Yes, it has endless boozing, drugging, and sex of all varieties in all situations. And shouting. So obviously, utterly fascinating, even spellbinding. And very funny. And, on reflection, follows an old American tradition of exaggerated zaniness - think 'Mad' Magazine (of fond memory) and all the early cartoons, which Americans excelled in - Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, etc. So while we tut, tut, about all this unseemly materialism, we revel in the sheer, over the top
madness of it all.

Sweater Bag
Sweater Bag
Offered by Amberskies Gifts
Price: 7.25

2.0 out of 5 stars Misleading advert - not quite as described, 22 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Sweater Bag
The measurements are correct - 45 x 35 x 10cm

The following are misleading:
- The image on Amazon and the label which comes with the item show a transparent, expandable, Sweater Bag.
Fact: The Bag is not transparent, but opaque and black.
- The image on Amazon and the label which comes with the item show zipped access on one side of the Bag.
Fact: The Bag has 2 zips which start on each side at the rear, and zip up, meeting at the front to 'close' the bag.
- The image and text on Amazon claim that the Bag is made from (heavy gauge) soft PVC.
This leads one to believe that the Bag is made of a thick, soft, transparent, 'plastic' type of material
- The label which comes with the item describes it as 'Heavy duty non-woven material which is strong, but lightweight
which allows contents to breathe' and 'Environmental friendly made from polypropylene material'
Fact: Neither of these claims are on the Amazon advert.
- The image and text on Amazon claim ' Protects contents from moths and other insects'
Fact: The label which comes with the item makes no reference to 'protection from moths or other insects'

PVC (Polyvinylchloride) and PP (Polypropylene) are totally different materials. 'Non-woven' materials are a cheap
substitute for traditionally woven cloth, and have a thick, papery feel to them. I will still use my purchase to store
2 thick woolen sweaters and wait to see how 'mothproof' this Bag is.

You have been warned!

The Welsh Collection
The Welsh Collection
Price: 4.83

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too perfect, 13 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Welsh Collection (Audio CD)
If you like your singing to sound as if it was produced in a cathedral or concert hall, with occasional accompanying organ or piano, and to include a number of hymns: this is for you. Think classical perfection / think wearing your best evening clothes / think polite clapping. Emotion? Moved to tears? Natural spontaneity? The songs you know & love? Not a chance.

The back of the CD case listed the songs with their Welsh names. Nothing in English. The sleeve notes inside included a history of the Treorchy Male Choir and all their fantastic achievements. All in all, beautifully sung, but leaves you cold.

Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010, 1 User [Product Key Card] (PC)
Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010, 1 User [Product Key Card] (PC)
Offered by Perks
Price: 64.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Installing not straightforward, 6 Dec 2013
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Have a Medion computer purchased in 2010 with Windows 7/64 bit and 'Microsoft Works' installed. Having read reviews on Office 2013, came to the conclusion that newer isn't necessarily better, and that Office 2010 is perfectly adequate. Have used Microsoft Word a fair bit at work, so I do know that it's pretty good, if rather complicated. So no quibbling about the software.

However, Installing / Downloading / Activating this software isn't particularly easy. Firstly, it takes well over an hour until you have it finally on your desktop. Secondly, you have to go through a series of steps and you need to read everything very carefully. This includes having to set up an account with Microsoft (presumably so that you can get updates and help) Often you are presented with different options - including an option to get a CD version of the software at extra cost - so you have to ensure that you click on the right option.

So, beware if you are elderly / not very computer literate (like me) - you might find it useful to have someone young & up to date, to assist you.

Gravity [DVD + UV Copy] [2013]
Gravity [DVD + UV Copy] [2013]
Dvd ~ George Clooney
Price: 10.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different, 29 Nov 2013
Went to see Gravity 2D. Interesting and unusual - different to most films. Not your usual run of the mill stuff. Elegant and beautifully minimalist, it captures the 'empty' void that is space. Just 2 humans dwarfed by the emptiness, the silence, and the knowledge that the slightest mistake meant bye! bye! dear earth - all this emphasized the vulnerability of mankind. All movement was slow - except when something went wrong - and dialogue - apart from with her fellow astronaut, George Clooney - was limited to brief and terse communication with ground control, the orders from whom sounded quiet and distant, cleverly coming from one side of the cinema.

Weaknesses: not much action, except when everything starts to blow up / disintegrate. And some aspects were just a wee bit far fetched, in particular the ending, where Sandra Bullock makes it back to earth, with the capsule landing in the sea and then starts slowly sinking. This entailed her holding her breath for an unrealistically long time, swimming back up to the surface. Interestingly, although it was quite moving to see her clutching the sand in thankfulness, as she crawled onto the beach, it occured to me that it would have equally made a deeply moving ending had she not survived - been through hell and drowning, minutes from safety and a 'happy' ending. And, as some reviewers have pointed out, the film is somewhat repetitive and tedious at times.

All in all, a quiet, thoughtful film.

Trainspotting [DVD] [1996]
Trainspotting [DVD] [1996]
Dvd ~ Ewan McGregor
Price: 3.83

5.0 out of 5 stars Hard drugs addiction - up close & personal, 10 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Trainspotting [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
Amidst the serious drug use, the casual drinking, the casual violence, the casual sex, the casual theft, the non-stop expletives, indescribable squalor, wrecked lives & no-hope bleakness - and not least the unintelligible accents - there were genuinely hilarious moments, sharp observations & straight talking among 5 'friends' (I use the word loosely) whose lives revolve around the regular intake of narcotics. Moral: Abandon hope all ye who enter this drug-addled world.

Verdict: Grim subject, but excellently depicted & holds your attention despite being stomach churning. Therefore 5 stars.

Body Of Lies [DVD] [2008]
Body Of Lies [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: 2.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Smooth Middle East political thriller, 6 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Body Of Lies [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Action packed? Compared to Jason Statham? I don't think so. The overall impression was that it's a complex, slightly confusing story with many characters and some action - a torture scene, and, very effective and pertinent, what it's like to be at the receiving end of drones - and what it's like to be at the control end thousands of miles away. It raises the issue of the dubious morality of modern warfare, where people far away, in state-of-the art luxurious surroundings are effectively playing a computer game with peoples lives on the other side of the world - who may be genuine military targets or civilians & innocent bystanders. Additionally, you have a nice contrast between the controller in the Defence Department in Washington, who enjoys his pampered good life while at the same time being in constant contact with his agent on the ground doing the dirty & dangerous work. Talk about a disconnect. The film works well in that it shows the complexity of Middle East politics, the many different national, sectarian, racial groups,all with different allegiances - so that you never really know who to trust and if people are who they really say they are.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [DVD] [2011]
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Judi Dench
Price: 3.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet, 5 Nov 2013
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A group of retirees leave England for a 'retirement hotel' in Jaipur, India. Each has their own sad / unhappy / tragic story which they are trying to leave behind in the hope of starting a new life. The moment they arrive they come face to face with the shock of India - exotic, colourful, crowded, noisy, dirty, extremes of wealth and poverty. Bourton on the Water or Haslemere it isn't. They all adapt - or not - with varying degrees of success. There are moments of humour but this is a film mostly about relationships gone wrong and misunderstandings, and is quite poignant at times. As the old saying goes: 'East is East and West is West and ne'er the twain shall meet'

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