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Balraj Gill (Slough, Berkshire, United Kingdom)

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Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics: An A-Z of Roguish Britons Through the Ages
Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics: An A-Z of Roguish Britons Through the Ages
by William Donaldson
Edition: Paperback

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential reference book, 4 April 2006
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This is a book that truly makes me feel proud to be British. France may have the finer wines, Germany produce the better cars and the USA have the biggest burgers, but no other country in the world can produce the quality and quantity of rogues that Britain has over the centuries. If it weren't for the people profiled in this book, what would this country be? We would just be a bigger version of Belgium.
As well as the patriotic feelings induced, this is one of the funniest books I've ever had my hands on. It's the perfect book to turn to if you have a few minutes spare and need a quick pick-me-up, as you can just dip in and out of it.
The only shortcoming, rather predictably, was the absence of some of my favourite rogues, such as Frank Bough, Stephen Milligan and Cecil Parkinson. But I suppose, everyone will have someone whom they think should be included but isn't.
In that regard, the book's biggest strength is to include many non-famous people, as it would have been far easier to have just profiled the "A-List" rogues. So, for example, we have the case of Gladys Elton, an 81 year-old resident of an old care home, who decided to do a striptease in front of the other residents and so caused 1 death and three further hospitalisations.
This book should be an essential addition to anyone who's sense of humour is slightly warped and who is appreciative of the seedier side of life.

Whisky [2004] [DVD]
Whisky [2004] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Andres Pazos
Price: £6.63

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never have I laughed so much at so little, 20 Mar. 2006
This review is from: Whisky [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
The routine banality of life amongst a trio of middle-aged Uruguayans may not strike you as being something that will have you splitting your sides with laughter, but my wife and I were often laughing out loud and wiping away the tears whilst watching Whisky.
Jacobo, the lonely owner of a small, dilapidated sock factory is faced with the prospect of a weekend visit from Herman, his more successful brother (who also makes socks) from Brazil. He asks his most loyal employee, Marta, to pretend to be his wife for the weekend, to fool his brother into thinking that he is not as lonely as he really his.
To be honest, on the surface, not much really happens in this film, which is actually a good thing. For it allows us to linger on the minutiae of stilted conversations, deadpan expressions and the general awkwardness that the trio have to endure, and which provided me with so much laughter.
However, underneath the surface, there is a lot more happening, as Marta awakens to the reality that life does not have to be so dull and constricting. Indeed, the abrupt ending leaves the audience with the question mark of really how much Marta has been affected by a few days in the presence of Jacobo’s more outgoing brother.
The three main characters will remind people of many mums and dads, aunts and uncles, work colleagues etc. for whom middle age has become a crushing, flat line endurance test, rather the “Second Youth” so often portrayed in the media. Whisky recognises this and deserves to be applauded for taking the risk that audiences will find middle-aged banality so upliftingly funny.

King Kong [DVD]  [2005] (2 Disc Special Edition)
King Kong [DVD] [2005] (2 Disc Special Edition)
Dvd ~ Naomi Watts
Price: £1.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars King Kong? More like King Turkey., 9 Mar. 2006
I could not believe what a big turkey this film was. It should have been cut down by half an hour, the jungle looked too false, the end sequence with Kong on top of the skyscraper had absolutely no excitement, the actors' performances had no conviction and trying to make it a love story between the woman and the great ape was just out of place - it should just be an action story, with any love being a one-way process from Kong. Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody were terrible, they looked as if they had escaped from a cheesy Bollywood film. The 1933 film was better acted, tighter and more exciting.

And there were 2 ludicrous scenes - one where the cabin boy shoots those giant insects and doesn't injure the other man over whom these insects are crawling and then where King Kong finds it so hard to chase that Model T Ford (top speed about 25mph), when he had no problems fighting 3 T-Rexes in the jungle.

If you haven't seen it, save yourself for when it gets shown on a Bank Holiday afternoon on ITV, sometime in 2014.

Love for Sale: A Global History of Prostitution
Love for Sale: A Global History of Prostitution
by Nils Ringdal
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent insight, not just for academics, 7 Mar. 2006
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At first acquaintance with this book, its heft may well intimidate you into thinking that this is a book best left for academics festering in the Sociology departments of provincial universities, but start making progress into this book and you realise the writing style and subject matter give this book a very broad appeal.
One of the main impressions you are left with after reading this book is how, in many phases in history across the globe, prostitutes ranked as being some of the most important and respected women in their societies. It actually seems a recent phenomenon that prostitutes are widely regarded as undesirables, living on the fringes of society.
Ringdal’s book gives both a broad overview of prostitution over time and also takes the opportunity to look in-depth at various countries (e.g. India) at particular times (British rule). The book also has two sets of illustrations and photos from around the world, that have been well chosen to complement the global sweep of the text.

Survivors: The Complete Series 1 [DVD] [1975]
Survivors: The Complete Series 1 [DVD] [1975]
Dvd ~ Lucy Fleming

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very British drama, 27 Sept. 2005
I had never seen Survivors before, but I had heard of the basic premise of 99% of the population being wiped out by a virus. This sort of post-apocalyptic story has a robust tradition in British minds - witness 28 Days Later and The Last Train. But I think Survivors is the best example of this "end of the world" scenario.
Nowadays, it seems all the dramas on TV are either concerned with the police, hospitals or other public sector workers like the army or fire brigade. Survivors cuts through all this and simply deals with human nature and its many faults and shortcomings.
There are 13 episodes in the 1st series. The 1st episode "The Fourth Horseman" depicts the spread of the virus and is fantastic in its pace and scope. The other episodes are all gripping, but special mention must go to the 9th episode "Law and Order", which made me feel physically sick at the end. This was not because of any violence but due to the concealment of a miscarriage of justice that shook you to the core.
I also have to mention that it makes a refreshing change to watch drama that does without overbearing incidental music. There is no background music whatsoever in Survivors and it adds to its "naturalness", if that is the correct adjective.
Overall, Survivors is great, thought-provoking television. Just be aware that some of the thoughts provoked can be quite depressing and rob you of a good night's sleep.

Spongebob The Movie [DVD]
Spongebob The Movie [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Hasselhoff
Price: £2.72

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hasselhoff's Finest Performance, 21 Sept. 2005
This review is from: Spongebob The Movie [DVD] (DVD)
Great little film, that is refreshingly free of any moralising or any desire to overwhelm the viewer with eye-searing special effects. Just good old-fashined animation and some funny gags, plus a slightly surreal appearance from David Hasselhoff.
The best part for me is when the 2 main characters get absolutely sloshed on ice-cream (I suppose for a kid's film, they had steer clear of alcohol) and wake up looking in a very bad state...

Raincoat [DVD]
Raincoat [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ajay Devgan
Offered by Green DVD INC
Price: £11.99

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I want 2 hours of my life back please!!, 31 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Raincoat [DVD] (DVD)
This film was the most mind-numbingly dull experience I have ever had in my life. It attempts to be an art house film by eschewing the usual Indian film staples such as songs, fights and comedic goons. But it also dropped any storyline and any sense of excitement.
It basically consisted of 2 people sat in a room spinning lies to each other, interspersed with a few flashbacks to a time when these same 2 people were lovers. If you want a claustrophobic film set mostly in 1 place with a limited cast of characters (and some excitement), go for Hitchcock's "Dial M for Murder" or "Rope".
A huge cheer went up when the credits started to roll. It was worse than sitting in an M25 traffic jam. Thank God I only rented this instead of buying it.
Please learn from my experience and do not rent or, God forbid, purchase this film.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 4, 2013 5:37 PM BST

Dil Chahta Hai [DVD] [NTSC]
Dil Chahta Hai [DVD] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Aamir Khan
Price: £2.66

3 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A mind numbing three hours, 6 July 2005
This review is from: Dil Chahta Hai [DVD] [NTSC] (DVD)
This film was dull and ponderous.
Other reviewers have said it was different from the usual Bollywood fayre, but many of the same boxes can be ticked e.g.
1. One of the characters going abroad (in this case Australia) and becoming an instant business success
2. Unbelievable conincidences like being sat next to the same girl on a plane (first class of course) that you had previously declared your undying love for at a college disco
3. Driving along Indian roads in some foreign luxury car (this time a Mercedes SL convertible, which must be one of the rarest cars in India)
4. Being able to fall in love at the drop of a hat.
The reason why I have given it 2 stars instead of 1 is that the film did have one original idea, namely a young man falling in love with a much older woman.
But unless love stories that span the generational gap are your speciality, avoid this film.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2008 8:00 PM BST

Sideways [DVD] [2004]
Sideways [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Paul Giamatti
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.95

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get your bone smooched, 27 Jun. 2005
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This review is from: Sideways [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Alexander Payne's previous films, Election and About Schmidt, have been notable for how they extract the funniness from everyday human behaviour. Sideways continues this wonderful tradition.
It's one of those films that makes you want to follow in the footsteps of Miles and Jack, from staying at the same tacky motel to savouring the latest Pinot Noirs at the vineyards they visit. This is because it all seems so close to how people behave in real life, that you can really picture yourself there, whilst watching the film.
Sideways is not some sickly-sweet rom-com featuring a perfectly manicured Richard Gere or Hugh Grant. It is a very funny film that holds up a mirror to how modern men cope with so much of what life throws at them.
Highly Recommended.

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