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Tom Hughes "tomhughes2005" (Baldock Herts)

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JCVD [2008] [DVD]
JCVD [2008] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jean-Claude Van Damme
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £2.00

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A five star film for fans and a performance to match from Van Damme, marred by poor support and suspicions of ego-mania, 8 Feb. 2009
This review is from: JCVD [2008] [DVD] (DVD)
For fans of Van Damme this film is an absolute must buy and for me, it is his finest all round film since Legionnaire in 1997. It offers a genuinely fascinating insight into a very complex actor and man, captured with some of the finest cinematography ever displayed in any of his previous films. If this film proves anything, it is that with the right director and resources, Jean Claude can still deliver truly highly entertaining films.

The problem is, that while this is a personal triumph for Van Damme against his critics, his audience is left rather short changed. If you are a fan, you will be buying it for action and his martial arts ability. Van Damme always pushed the limits of these stunts, even right upto The Order in 2001. It is totally marketed around the expectation of excitement, "a man on the edge" is the tagline, surrounded by apocalyptic scenarios that we have loved to see him tackle with an array of breathtaking set pieces.

Fans are left with a soul searching drama, that is well done but lacks any real urgency. Jean-Claude saves this film, because thankfully he gives a truly fabulous performance that could have dragged this film into becoming an hilarious melodrama. He cross the line at one point though, his moving speech on his loves when his life appears in danger is marred by his truly naff "If I die in the post office tonight..." line that moved me from tears of empathy to laughter. It is incredible how Van Damme manages to make such a self indulgent idea so compelling for so much of the running time, but he does and it is a real tribute to an acting ability that has elevated him above his peers.

Non-fans will not buy into any of this and will probably view it as Van Damme enjoying an EU-funded love-in with his belgian chums. This view is sadly endorsed by the woeful special features that see him tootling round Brussels in Bono-a-like shades and waving regally at his fans, while giving an Alan-Partridge style commentary from a car into a hotel about, all the people who have wronged him over the past 10 years!

The script is totally fine, really tight and easy to follow but the whole heist is ruined by some really poor supporting actors. They are b-rate Tarantino-esque baddies without the wit or menace and are probably best suited to panto. Were they really meant to be this camp?

Bottom line is, Van Damme is truly superb, the direction is magnificent but the whole thing is dragged down by the poor support acting and total lack of action. If you care for Van Damme, buy it, if not and you want a good bit of drama then season four of desperate housewives is probably better and has hotter females!

Confessions of a Fake Sheik: 'The King of the Sting' Reveals All
Confessions of a Fake Sheik: 'The King of the Sting' Reveals All
by Mazher Mahmood
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning celebration of how the Sheik sheiks the celebs!, 23 Oct. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is perhaps one of the most insightful, yet accessable books on journalism ever written. While many journalists write self-celebratory career reflectives that focus on their own record of sacrifice and devotion, Mazher Mahmood focuses on the fact that journalism is ultimately about people. We do get personal insights but these are lightly sprinkled with a relevancy to each story.

It is effectively a "greatest hits" compilation that deals with all of his most high profile cases including Sven, The Beckhams, Britney Spears and Sophie Anderton amongst others. However, as he explains, it isn't all glitz and Mr Mahmood has helped to nab a whole rogues gallery of crooks, including the shocking tale of the woman who tried to sell her young daughter's virginity to the highest bidder. In fact, to date, over 230 criminals have been brought to justice because of his work and it is this fact that elevates this book from being not just great fun but "Exhibit A" into the importance of journalism today.

Mr Mahmood writes in a very engaging way that covers all the stings without delivering rehashed versions of the News of the World stories. He expands upon them by giving un-expected anicdotes at the point of scene with a particularly explosive insight into his expose upon chat-show legend Jerry Springer. Generally, we all know what happend, but Mr Mahmood makes the book engaging by telling the reader how it happend, why it happend and what happend next.

It all works on so many levels, it is great fun to read for celeb fans but for journos it does deliver a timely reminder that journalism is no "pen and paper" trade. The Sheik delves into this to excite and entertain with the public interest at heart. It is this attitude that has helped save lives and bring down the corrupt.

Off With Their Heads
Off With Their Heads
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.29

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Chiefs are back as potent as ever but Ronson spoils the broth!, 23 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Off With Their Heads (Audio CD)
I bought this album the day after an awesome album launch gig at London's Forum. The new material sounded awesome live and I had hoped that the raucious magic that had filled the previous two albums was present here.

It is..for the first half but then things go completely askew with "Tomatoes in the rain" with a series of songs that are overproduced and frankly ponderous. Unsurprisingly none of these songs made appearances at that gig, but at least the songs pre "tomatoes" are really good.

"Never Miss a Beat" is a true classic and was one of the earliest songs on the album, produced before Mark Ronson could get his meddling paws on the album. Spanish Metal is a good opener with a strong rift and "Good Days, Bad days" which was particularly awesome live, has that Kaiser trademark of being a great chanting anthem.

I hope this album is a grower, but other than that increasingly forlorn hope, I have to say I think the problem lies with Mark Ronson and "too many cooks" syndrome. So many tracks sound the same and are fussily produced with excessive layers of sound, lacking the simple hooks of previous albums. The Kaisers are the ultimate University band for chanting on a sports social and I thought "Yours Truly Angry Mob" was the ultimate "terrace" album. Mark Ronson is a brill DJ but his production is very limited. His influence stretches to the addition of Trumpets, strings, violins and Ago-go bells for crying out loud!

This isn't the Royal Symphony Orchestra, this is the Kaiser Chiefs! Such a blamcamage of sound is like too many toppings on a pizza, the good ingredients are still there but they lack the fusion of flavour that makes the sensation truly satisfying. That probably explains why these songs will sound great live, but struggle to have an impact on this album.

21 Nights
21 Nights
by Prince
Edition: Hardcover

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So very glam, so very prince, an indulgent pleasure!, 7 Oct. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 21 Nights (Hardcover)
Firstly this book is perhaps one of the most opulent, self-indulgent books I have ever purchased, but when it is the finest artist of his generation responsible for such extravagance how can you say no? Every photo appears to have been staged and feels more like a photoshoot than the intimate behind-the-scenes insight the book first appears. It features little in the way of photos from the shows and that is perhaps the biggest dissapointment. Especially as the Indigo o2 is not represented at all in the photography, a shame as I have great memories from seeing prince there and the CD is from his aftershow set there.

What makes this book special is the presentation, the quality of the paper and overall packaging is truly first rate, capturing the quest for perfection that prince has strived for in his performances. It is hard to knock such a well rounded product at such a fair price. It may be self-indulgent, but Prince is no egoist- he really loves to indulge his fans too and that is what we get in this lavashly presented book.

The CD is pure gold, you know why you want this, it is for the music and all that can be said is that it truly delivers. Okay Misty Blue and Alphabet Street do drag on a bit, but this is a wonderful exhibit to his musical genius. His live band sounded great in the indigo 02 and the sound quality of this live release is probably the best I have heard taken from such an intimate venue. It would be wrong for me to pick highlights as this is a largely flawless performance that is worth every penny, just wish the photos had a bit more soul to them.

Said And Done
Said And Done
by Roger McGough
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book that kept me gripped from start to finish, 3 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Said And Done (Paperback)
Roger McGough is not particularly well-known by people who are not interested in poetry, or were not alive when the 1960s boom of mersey-sound took the world by storm. Roger McGough was a major cultural influence in shaping this with the scaffold and in his poetry. This book acts as a great historical document towards growing up in post-war Liverpool (well, Crosby anyway) and how his upbringing shaped his poems.

I am far too young to remember any of this, but Mr McGough engages with the reader and writes in a way, that typically for a poet is fascinatingly visceral. For that reason, I was hooked and can now appreciate his poetry in a new light. The anicdotes of growing up and going to a restrictive catholic grammar school, show that writing was one of the few ways that Mr McGough could express himself unrestrictively.

Fans will appreciate all the banter and his creative partnership with Mike McCartney but for those of us who read autobiographies to hear a good story, few are told quite a eloquently as this.

Ferrari Challenge: Trofeo Pirelli (Wii)
Ferrari Challenge: Trofeo Pirelli (Wii)
Offered by sellatronic
Price: £24.44

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, poor graphics and lacks immersive wow factor, 21 Sept. 2008
This game is the biggest dissapointment to have ever graced the wii. I love realistic racing games and ferrari F355 challenge is one of my all time favourites. Trouble is, 9 years on system 3 have decided to make their own worse version on Wii. The only good thing about this game is the sense of speed, eveything else is a tedium fest. Oh alright, I suppose Tiff Needell is pretty good as is the music!

First off, it looks utterly awful, far worse than F355 challenge on the dreamcast that came out in 2000! The trees look like direct descendants from those seen on F1 world Grand Prix on the Nintendo 64 and the cars are so low res that the ones seen on Sega Saturn Sega Rally now appear sharp fifteen years on!

The menu system is fiddly and the technical changes to the cars can never be made subtly...they make a massive difference! The races are also deeply boring and have little option to increase the fun. F355 challenge only offered a few laps on shortish circuits but every circuit on here is nicked either from the F1 calendar or is designed for faster or less endurance focused racing. Hence every race either sees you miles in front or behind.

Such a missed opportunity and it only gets 2 stars because believe it or not I have actually played worse racing games on the wii!

Price: £2.22

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The most boring album of the year! Where are the hooks?, 16 Sept. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shine (Audio CD)
Estelle has a good voice no doubt about it and American Boy is one of the songs of the summer. Sadly, such elements have failed to contribute to a memorable album which feels like a rushed cash in with production values so tired, you can ever hear them yawn!

American Boy sounded really fresh with a brilliant use of horns but the rest of the album is just derivative R&B that could have been produced by any female artist within the genre. Estelle struggles to stamp her own identity on any of the tracks and she just sounds like a vocalist singing someone else's work. Generally there is little passion and soul in this, I found myself barely noticing any differences between tracks. As a result, it feels more like lounge music than anything else.

There are highlights as the first three tracks are very good and are funnily enough the ones plugged on the case promo sticker. Then we have to wait until the duet with John Legend called You Are before anything interesting of note is heard. Nothing is bad, but I have so many albums in my collection like this and those artists do it better. The whole thing left me cold and it plods along at an anaemic pace, it felt like it ran for about 3 hours!

Madden NFL 09 All Play (Wii)
Madden NFL 09 All Play (Wii)
Offered by Tracymuk
Price: £9.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Much improved but still needs a complete overhaul, 11 Sept. 2008
This new version of Madden initially had me very excited on first play as it looks far removed from the previously solid but uninspired 07,08 versions.

The player models have a far greater level of detail and the stadiums look to have been rendered at a higher resolution. In addition, the gameplay is far smoother, without the jerkiness of previous wii efforts. A cool new menu system to choose plays via the remote and a "call your shots mode" that acts as a watered down telestrator in-game to direct your players is great.

Problem is, all of these wonderful ideas have been bolted on to a game that is no different in feel to Madden 2004. It uses the same basic engine and has the very same player animations and cut scenes. The use of Madden and Michaels might be preferable to the guys in the 360/ps3 version but this ain't the case when they say the exact same things since 04, with no vocal changes or lines. Such a lack of these changes is not due to wii hardware limitations but down to lazy programming/time constraints to meet deadlines for the new season.

Overall, I feel it is worth buying over the 08 version for the new graphical style and fluid application of the wii controls at last. Online play is also much improved, and I rarely get kicked off due to server troubles. It is not worth buying if you felt that you didn't like previous versions or that you were bored with the lack of new features. These are few and far between, with aged franchise mode, superstar mode failing to excite with the new gimmicky mini-games.

My Word
My Word
by Terry Christian
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sad to see such a promising presenter turn so bitter, 3 Jun. 2008
This review is from: My Word (Hardcover)
This book is full of the same feeble excuses in that whenever Terry Christian faced any adversity or looked at him a bit funny it was because they came from a "narrow, public school background". His bitterness towards southern media types wears very thin, especially as he found fame standing in a dole queue in Manchester after dropping out of uni in London. He is very lucky, and the fact he fails to acknowledge this at any point in the book is unbelievable.

He doesn't seem to know anyone with any great depth and just keeps judging people, including former The Word cast members like Mark Lemmar and Dani Behr according to their basic social profiles. There is very little depth to his encounters with any celebs and the fact that the best bit of the book is about his anal fissure just about sums it all up really.

My copy also has several paragraphs that appear in an early part of the book only to reappear later on examining a different section. It also has some really bad typos, which is rather embarassing for a bloke who claims he found it hard to shake off perceptions that he was a bit dim.

So why 2 stars? Well regardless of his convictions, it is a very honest book and at times is very funny for this. Fame clearly never changed his attitudes and the fact that he still refuses to embrace the media luvvie set is highly commendable as it would be so easy for him to become part of that fraternity given his success. Just wish that as a home counties boy, he would acknowledge that it isn't easy to just swan into some cushy job and that some of us went to comprehensives too....
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2009 10:12 AM BST

Roy Chubby Brown - The Good, The Bad And The Fat B*stard [DVD]
Roy Chubby Brown - The Good, The Bad And The Fat B*stard [DVD]
Dvd ~ Roy "Chubby" Brown
Price: £2.37

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is his best! This plays like a greatest hits show!, 7 Feb. 2008
This is easily chubby's finest release since "thunderb*llocks" and shows that he is the British stand-up tour-de-force. Recent releases have taken the shine off his legend and frankly I didn't feel they were the best examples of his tours. This addresses the balance in some style and was full of end-to-end laughs. It features the usual ones about his wife, weight and Northern life, but throws in some really sharp socially observational humour about the state of the country. He keeps in good humour throughout and my personal favourite bit has to be his tribute tune to his home town. It is near faultless comedy, the only poor bit is the really bad rap at the very beginning which isn't really part of the show and was probably cobbled together in 5 minutes when Chubbs was asked for some front end material. Buy this or better yet, his 40 year box set because I feel this compilation offers his best three shows.

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