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Does Anything Eat Wasps?: And 101 Other Questions (New Scientist)
Does Anything Eat Wasps?: And 101 Other Questions (New Scientist)
by New Scientist
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay in a laze on the beach kind of way., 2 July 2007
This type of book is the perfect book to take on holiday and read on the beach. Rather like the sea itself, you can dip in and out of it as you wish without worrying about losing your place (unless you are in Spain!!)

Most of the book is mildly interesting, some of it is tedious and to be honest not only do you not know the answer to certain questions, you don't actually care either. On the other hand, one or two of the questions and accompanying answers are absolute gems.

There are better examples of these answer odd question type of books or general reviews of life itself. That said, it's worth the price for a decent read (ideally on holiday) but I doubt I'll bother reading my copy again and again.

Blood Diamond [DVD] [2007]
Blood Diamond [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: £2.74

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DiCaprio comes of age with this thought provoking film, 2 July 2007
This review is from: Blood Diamond [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This is a very touching film which draws attention to the deeply disturbing areas of conflict diamonds and child soldiers in Africa, subjects about which comparatively little is known. The scenes where the young solders who are either orphans or press-ganged are brain washed into becoming killers is compelling and awful in equal measure. The film is very bloody and graphic as it needed to be and should have been when dealing with such subject matter. As in Schindler's List, some topics are too important to gloss over.

The cast are good, especially the always excellent Djimon Hounsou and Leonardo DiCaprio who with this film and the excellent performance given in The Departed shows that there is so much more to his acting than we saw in such films as Titanic. Surely its only a matter of time should he continue with these types of films and his strong performances before his nominations are converted into awards.

The film is well shot with some stunning African landscapes forming the backdrop and this adds to the juxtaposition of the landscapes natural beauty witnessing such disturbing and patent evil. 'Enjoy' is hardly the correct word to use to describe watching this film but it is a rich, rewarding and above all enlightening experience. Great story, great performances and very, very good film.

Cinema Paradiso (4 Disc Deluxe Edition Box Set)  [1989] [DVD]
Cinema Paradiso (4 Disc Deluxe Edition Box Set) [1989] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Philippe Noiret
Offered by youngarchy
Price: £24.99

53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical film presented in a super box set, 1 July 2007
Many box set deluxe editions are something of a disappointment, the barell being well and truly scraped for a morsel of an extra which will justify the repackaging and re-labelling of a film. Not this one. This edition offers both the original theatrical release, the far superior extended cut, a disc of great extras and the CD of the film's memorable score. The packaging is also quite innovative with a nice double page opening type of thing, not one I have seen before. I really don't think there is anything more to ask for in a de-luxe edition.

In terms of the film, it is masterful and touching with just the right mix of emotion throughout. The film is beautifully shot and the director's eye for detail and attention to the images are evident in almost every shot. The acting is brilliant, especially from the two lead actors.

This package is worth double the price and it is a great presentation of one of the best Italian films ever made.

Agatha Christie's Poirot - The Complete Collection (24 Disc Box Set) [DVD]
Agatha Christie's Poirot - The Complete Collection (24 Disc Box Set) [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Suchet
Offered by kaboodal
Price: £124.95

84 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb., 15 Jun. 2007
It will come as no surprise to hear once again from a reviewer the accolade of the definitive Poirot being given to David Suchet but he just so very simply is. This is undoubtedly the most important part of any dramatisation of a fictional character, the actor used to play the part needs to be right. There are however at least two other elements which make Agatha Christie's Poirot such a resounding success.

First, there is the attention to detail in both the visual aspects and the stories themselves. Visually, the Poirot episodes are sumptuous and rich and the use of period props and vehicles is an outstanding achievement which to my mind has never been bettered in any period piece. In terms of the stories, things are often easier to write than they are to film and I'm thinking here of the balloon used in Hercule Poirot's Christmas or role of the wirehaired fox terrier, "Bob" in Dumb Witness and many others besides yet they all seem to work and the producers have used no easy shortcuts to tell the stories, by and large each of the crimes and investigations are as they are down on paper in the original books.

The other key ingredient to the success of thise seies is the supporting cast. While Suchet is the definitive Poirot, the same can be said of Hugh Fraser's Hastings, Philip Jackson's Japp and Pauline Moran's Miss Lemon. Staunch and solid support is offered throughout the series by these characters.

The series taken as a whole also turns out to be a little bit of a spot the famous face with further one-off great support from a variety of acting talent including James Fox, Christopher Ecclestone, Nicholas Farrell, David Soul, Zoe Wannamaker and Elliot Gould.

This box set may not actually be a definitive collection as they are still making Poirot stories with the much awaited Murder on the Orient Express due out in 2008 but for so many excellent stories filmed to perfection with excellent production values and great casts led by a superb lead actor, this package offers outstaning value for money.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 23, 2011 1:39 PM GMT

Blade Runner (Remastered Directors Cut)
Blade Runner (Remastered Directors Cut)
Dvd ~ Harrison Ford
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £11.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An undeniable masterpiece but..., 24 May 2007
Ridley Scott delivers a fantastic film here, a bleak and thought provoking look at a polluted and seedy future after the wealthy and powerful elite have abandoned the Earth and set up on the offworld colonies. The premise of the film, the emergence of self thinking artificial humans to work as slave labour but who develop a thirst for life itself is also very poignant. It is an example of what Noel Carroll called "The Over-Reacher" plot, typical of certain gothic horror novels such as Frankenstein and Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde where humanity is warned of the potential disasterous consequences of meddling with or "over-reaching" into areas of science which challenge morality, the consequences of such meddling are usually disasterous. In the modern world with gene therapy and stem cell research, humans playing some kind of deity is again very much in the consciuosness. The film is aesthetically pleasing and has stood the test of time very well. The effects are still fresh and the cityscapes are breathtaking. Ford delivers the first of a batch of performances from his career in the 80s which stands out above the general standard of his films and Rutger Hauer is fantastic as the replicant leader Roy Batty. His "Tears in Rain" speech towards the end of the film is worth the cost of the DVD alone. Very moving and superbly delivered (and rumour has it that it was ad-libbed).

Where this package fails is in the DVD presentation. Such a good film deserves a better DVD with commentaries and extras to match. I am also not entirely convinced that the director's cut is a better product. There is something about the version with the narration which makes it an equally enriching experience. As FOX did the the Alien films, surely the producers of this film could produce a definitive DVD package with both versions of the film. I reserve the five star rating for that product!!

American History X [DVD] [1999]
American History X [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Edward Norton
Offered by Revolution Media
Price: £2.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important films of the past 20 years., 22 May 2007
As a medium, film has always had the power to inspire thought. However, this has not always been fully exploited by film makers who are under pressure from the studios to produce films which make money through entertainment first and foremost. This film is certainly thought provoking. The motivations behind racially motivated bigotry will always be a difficult area and one which courts controversy but this film manages to tackle the issue in a manner which makes the viewer feel uncomfortable and yet uplifted by the redemption of the central character. It is not the kind of film you watch and say that you "enjoy" but the towering performance by Edward Norton coupled with the underlying message of the sheer stupidity of racism make the film nevertheless and "enjoyable" one.

In the modern world with the movement toward racial equality it is plausible for people to see themselves in an non racist vaccum "racism is not a problem here" is a frequently voiced opinion yet this film shows that it hasn't gone away but what this film does is viscerally remind us of this and challenges us all to do something about it.

Rocky Balboa [DVD] [2007]
Rocky Balboa [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Sylvester Stallone
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £2.48

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You can't help but like it., 15 May 2007
This review is from: Rocky Balboa [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
If the history of cinema has taught us anything it's that you can overdo things, wear them out and ultimately thrash them to death. The Rocky series declined from the original film's zenith and hit its creative low with Rocky IV but the two offerings since then have had much more in common with the original film than with episodes II, III, IV and so much the better. Despite Sylvester Stallon's own dislike of Rocky V, it is not at all a bad film but this one is actually very good. I think that Stallone is right not to be happy with where Rocky V left off and this film very nicely leaves the series with a satisfying ending.

The film is sad, uplifting, hopeful and warm in equal measure. Stallone's return to the role which made him is timely given his recent flops and he proves once again that he is no Brando but if the role is right, he can turn in a decent performance.

A Brief History Of Time: From Big Bang To Black Holes
A Brief History Of Time: From Big Bang To Black Holes
by Stephen Hawking
Edition: Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Popular physics (if that isn't a contradction!!), 30 April 2007
I don't know what it is about this book but I just keep coming back to it now and again and never seem to tire of it. It could be that the subject matter, so complex in reality, is made to sound so much more simple by Stephen Hawking, or it could be simply to marvel that someone could have such a clever mind that it is possible to actually understand enough about this topic as to write a book like this.

There are certain parts which require several readings in order to make head or tail of it but generally it is accessible and it is enjoyable. Hawking demonstrates how humans should theoretically never be able to travel the kind of distances required to go to other planets outside our own solar system and how time travel also breaks the laws of physics but he rather humorously admits that once upon a time air travel seemed to break the laws of physics so he admits that it might be possible. A further aspect which was rivetting was the analysis of quantum mechanics or to put it simply, the workings of the very small rudimentary units of matter which combine to the atoms which make the molecules which make the universe. The problem facing cosmologists and physicists, Hawking tells us, is that the laws which govern the mechanics of large scale bodies such as planets do not co-incide with the laws governing small scale bodies such as atoms and that a race is on to find a theory which allows both laws to co-exist. How Hawking has managed to make this topic sound interesting shows not only his genius as a physicist but also shows that he is no mean writer either.

The book is truly a fantastic achievement. Quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity for a mass audience? The whole project beggars belief, it's a wonder that a publisher touched it with a barge pole but they did and the reader is all the richer for the experience.

Richard III
Richard III
by Paul Murray Kendall
Edition: Paperback

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Ricardian biography., 30 April 2007
This review is from: Richard III (Paperback)
This book is superbly researched and written. Naturally, much of the content of any book on Richard III will always involve an element of conjecture or interpretation of what few facts surrounding the most fiercely debated mystery in English history are actually known. However, this book is written with such a commanding presentation of points and of evidence as to leave the reader with little doubt that it is the definitive book on this most fascinating king.

Despite its thickness, the book never delves into tedium and unlike many other books on the subject is not at all hard work. The chapter on Bosworth is excellent and presents a very detailed anlaysis of both the events and of the military strategies employeed by the three sides (Richard, Richmond and Stanley).

This book is a must have for anyone with aan interest in this subject, it is the biography of Richard against which all others should be judged.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 29, 2013 4:51 PM GMT

Achtung Baby
Achtung Baby
Offered by Revolution Media
Price: £5.83

8 of 50 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A magnum opus? Try a damp squib., 8 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Achtung Baby (Audio CD)
This CD lacks direction and lurches from one average song to another, none of which compare to earlier gems such as "Gloria" "I Will Follow" "Sunday Bloody Sunday" or "Two Hearts Beat as One".

Instead of treading their natural road and releasing great 2 minute riff-led new wave anthems, as they did up to and including War, and then fading politley away before emerging as solo artists, U2 led by the messianic Bongo and The Hedge, flog the horse for all its worth and produce this load of pseudo-American tosh.
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 9, 2017 11:33 AM BST

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