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Triestino "Giovanin" (Trieste, Italy)

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Remington R91 Dual Track Rotary Shaver
Remington R91 Dual Track Rotary Shaver
Price: £19.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-designed and convenient little shaver, 17 May 2013
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This is a good, handy little shaver that is fine for everyday use. It fits in the hand well, and is quiet in operation. As might be expected, at this price you can hardly expect outstanding quality, and the R91 does not quite deliver the ultra-smooth finish that can be achieved by a razor and hot water. But for a quick, acceptable morning shave, and for a tidying-up job during the day, this product is extremely convenient. Moreover its small size and intelligent, compact design make it the ideal travel shaver. Recommended.

Perfect English Farmhouse
Perfect English Farmhouse
by Ros Byam Shaw
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice survey, but the photos are sometimes disappointing, 18 Nov. 2012
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This book's predecessor - The Perfect English Cottage - was a real winner, mainly because it was adorned with many extremely fine photographs, which made it a joy to look at. This one, on tastefully restored farmhouses, hasn't the impact of the book on cottages and seems somehow colder, and while there are some good photos, there are rather too many that are shot into the light with the result that the eye is drawn to sun drenched windows rather than to the interiors. Moreover the quality of the paper seems to be not quite as good as in the earlier book. That said, there are many things to admire and the text, as always, is informative, though like the photos, perhaps a little cold.

The Darling Buds of May - Complete Collection 20th anniversary [DVD]
The Darling Buds of May - Complete Collection 20th anniversary [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Jason
Price: £9.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining bucolic fantasy - well worth viewing, 24 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Darling Buds of May was a smash hit when it first appeared on British television in 1991, and deservedly so. In case there are those who don't know what it's about, the series is a mini soap that follows the life of a large, warm and gregarious family - the Larkins - in rural Kent during the 1950s. This is by no means a filmic version of The Archers. Rather, it's a cheerful fantasy that requires the viewer to suspend belief more or less throughout (that said, immense pains have been taken to make the backdrop as authentic as possible, from the old farm implements to the 1950s cars).

The Larkin family spend dosh, eat gloriously gargantuan meals, and knock back the booze - bottles of bubbly included - as though there's no tomorrow. No-one gets liver problems, no one falls prey to diabetes, and no-one runs out of money. In other words, we are presented with of a kind of earthly Paradise (or Land of Cockaigne), and one well filled with high comedy and good simple jokes.

The series takes a little time to get into its stride, and the first two episodes lack the drive and coherence of the later ones. Be warned, moreover, that this is medium-brow stuff - the poetry-loving Charley is the nearest we get to anything intellectual, and a rather jolly and bucolic bawdiness gets a fair old run for its money.

As Pop Larkin, the brilliantly cast David Jason gives an astonishing virtuoso performance that never flags. Pam Ferris, in the motherly role of Ma Larkin, provides an excellent foil. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Philip Franks give well judged interpretations. If towards the end the relentless earnestness of Philip Jones (as Charley) begins to irritate a little, that's probably the fault of the novel rather than the fault of the actor.

Unlike some of the other reviewers, I found the box complete and the DVDs physically without flaw. Be warned that the on-screen episode titles are confusing - to select the episode you want, you have to click on the white title and not on the yellow one. The supplementary "commentary" (included on the first disc) is lazily thought out and not really worth viewing. Otherwise the production of the discs, in my experience anyway, leaves little to complain about.

Recommended for all but the most fastidious.

Dandelion Dead [DVD]
Dandelion Dead [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Kitchen
Offered by angel_bookstore
Price: £29.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward murder story, nicely directed and well acted, 17 May 2012
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This review is from: Dandelion Dead [DVD] (DVD)
This is a straightforward murder story with no real surprises - we know that the hapless solicitor has committed a murder, and he is found out in a fairly mundane way. That said, excellent acting from a surprisingly distinguished cast and good direction and cinematography help to maintain an atmosphere of suspense, and one watches the proceedings with real interest. But there are no really unexpected twists in the tale, and for detective story addicts, the final chapters will come as something of an anti-climax. Michael Kitchen captures the deviousness and essential amorality of the murderer brilliantly well; Lesley Sharp shines in one of the supporting roles. Bernard Hepton and Peter Vaughan, as always, are very much worth watching. A good film, in short, but whether one would want to see it again and again is perhaps rather debateable.

Daniel Deronda [2002] [DVD]
Daniel Deronda [2002] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Bonneville
Price: £9.24

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A first-class rendition, highly recommended, 29 April 2012
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This review is from: Daniel Deronda [2002] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a brilliant version of Daniel Deronda, a highly courageous and contentious novel in its day, and one that contains some of George Eliot's finest writing. The story as filmed develops slowly, and the pace of the first part is noticeably slow. But the action thereafter steadily gathers momentum, and the narrative is brought in due course to a satisfying and moving conclusion.

The acting throughout is uniformly excellent, with Romola Garai and Hugh Bonneville giving beautifully nuanced performances, and Hugh Dancy, in the central role, delivering an outstandingly intelligent and sensitive interpretation of Daniel Deronda's character. Edward Fox excels as Deronda's guardian. By comparison, Jodhi May seems a little subdued and predictable - but that's probably the fault of the novel rather than of the production.

One of the reviewers has written somewhat disparagingly about the DVD's quality, but I have to say that my disc was delivered in faultless condition, and fully does justice to the magnificent photography.

In all, a first-class rendition of Daniel Deronda and one that I would recommend without any hesitation whatsoever.

Enchanted April [DVD]
Enchanted April [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alfred Molina
Price: £4.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but let down by slack direction and indifferent photography, 5 April 2012
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This review is from: Enchanted April [DVD] (DVD)
My wife and I came away from watching this film dumbfounded at what it was that had caused all the critical acclaim. We found it amateurish, slackly directed, and sometimes unconvincing.

That said, important qualifications must be made. Earlier in the week we had watched, enthralled, the BBC's magnificent production of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, and had been captivated by the excellence of the adaptation, the high quality of the acting, and the stunning photography. With Daniel Deronda still in our minds, Enchanted April came as something of a let down.

The fact is that film-making technology has moved on by huge leaps and bounds since Enchanted April was made in 1992. The advent of digital photography has revolutionized camera work, and has allowed directors to exploit all kinds of new possibilities that were not present during the days of film. By present-day standards, the photography in Enchanted April is not really up to scratch. The camera work is very old fashioned and not very imaginative, and the outdoor scenes are often hopelessly over-exposed, producing a wishy-washy print in which the detail is often indistinct, and the colours dull and flat. This matters, because the story revolves around the marvellously healing effects that the beautiful Italian castle and its garden are supposed to exert on the visitors. We need to see the beauty in all its glory before we can be fully convinced of the message.

Visual aspects apart, the plot of the film sometimes seems rather trite, and following the dialogue occasionally demands quite a lot of concentration - the very slow pace of the film and the near-inconsequential character of some of the conversations don't help. The actresses (and actors) do well with a rather undemanding script, and Joan Plowright, as always, is quite wonderful. It is entirely absurd to claim, as one Amazon reviewer has done, that this is one of the great films of the twentieth century. If you can put up with the slowness of the proceedings, the film is a generally pleasant and undemanding way of spending an hour and a half - nothing more, and nothing less.

It would be very interesting to see another attempt at filming the Elizabeth von Arnim novel, but with far tauter direction and with up-to-date photography. As it is, for the time being, fans will have to put up with this one, and to be fair, it certainly isn't all bad - just, in our particular case certainly, a little disappointing.

Hachi - A Dog's Tale [DVD]
Hachi - A Dog's Tale [DVD]
Dvd ~ Richard Gere
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: £4.72

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Conceived and executed as a sentimental tear jerker, 18 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Hachi - A Dog's Tale [DVD] (DVD)
I know that I'm going to be vigorously jumped up and down on, but this is what I think about the film. First, the film was planned and executed as a tear jerker, and everything is crafted to make the viewer weep. I'm always uneasy with any type of art that sets out to make viewers and/or readers cry. I remember reading "Black Beauty" when I was a boy, and crying copiously over it, which of course was the author's calculating intention. I do not think that making people cry in return for money is a laudable enterprise - personally I think it's a cheap and rather cynical ploy - but that's my personal opinion and others will no doubt think differently.

Second, Richard Gere has a track record for starring in Japanese stories that given an American twist, lose all their original subtlety - see for example the appalling American version of "Shall We Dance?". In Hachi, the transposition of the action from 1930s Japan to 1980s America for me doesn't really work. In the 1980s, the American commuter station, and the road along which the dog daily trots (Hachi is hardly ever protected by the use of a lead) would be thronged with dangerous motor traffic, but in the film version, other than the vehicles owned by the family, there are virtually no cars, and no taxis and no motor transport whatsoever. There are many other implausibilities besides, too numerous to mention. But yes, perhaps these are besides the point.

If you like a good unrestrained sob, by all means watch the film, but try to remember through your tears that someone, somewhere, is making money out of your warm-hearted sentimentality. If you can live with that, fine.

Two stars for the well-trained dog (not easy to train an Akita) who on balance acted far more convincingly than the humans.

by Jan Morris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Jan Morris at her best, 10 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Hav (Paperback)
I found this book almost impossible to come to terms with. With a different approach - one that took places and their inhabitants far more seriously - there could have been something worthwhile here, but I found the approach slightly snobbish, often supercilious, annoyingly knowing, and irritatingly British middle class.

Too often in the book, foreigners are treated as objects of amusement, and sometimes of ridicule. Jan Morris uses the opportunity to parade her very considerable and thoroughly admirable knowledge of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern history, but is weak and dismissive when it comes to modern and contemporary developments.

The result, for me at any rate, was sadly superficial. But for many of those who leaf through it on their hotel balconies in foreign parts as the sun goes down, nicely cooled G&T in hand, and an imported copy of The Times lying on the wickerwork table, with the crossword puzzle satisfyingly completed, it could well be a jolly good entertainment.

Those who want to read Jan Morris's writing at its best would be well advised to avoid this rather unsatisfactory attempt at fantasy, and read instead her excellent books on Venice, and especially her first-class survey of the history of the Venetian empire.

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium - Full Version (PC DVD), 1 User
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium - Full Version (PC DVD), 1 User
Offered by uksoftwareseller
Price: £235.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast and stable, but in the end just another MS operating system, 26 Sept. 2011
To begin with, I enjoyed using Windows 7, but perhaps inevitably, small niggles began to creep in, and nowadays I'm not quite so sure. The big advantages of Windows 7, as others have remarked, are its superior speed and stability - and on the cosmetics side of things, it's easy to make it look very nice indeed. But problems nevertheless remain.

I'm a keen photography enthusiast, and like all other digital camera owners, I rely on being able to load my photos directly and quickly from the camera to the computer - a task that in Windows 7 is handled by a built-in Microsoft utility called AutoPlay.

Two days ago, AutoPlay suddenly stopped working on my computer and consequently I couldn't transfer my photos via the camera's USB cable in the usual way. I spent ages trying to overcome the problem, and even resorted for a while to loading the photos directly from the camera's memory card - fortunately my computer has a memory card port. It then occurred to me that approximately at the time of the collapse of AutoPlay, I had uninstalled the W7-compatible shareware application Media Monkey. I re-installed the app and lo! AutoPlay began working again.

When I investigated via the Internet, I found that the sudden disappearance of AutoPlay is a fairly common problem - in fact it's a highly irritating glitch that Windows 7 seems to have inherited from Vista. Internet forums offer all kinds of complicated and sometimes barely comprehensible solutions devised by advanced computer geeks, but Microsoft doesn't seem to take the problem all that seriously, and its advice, such as it is, certainly didn't work for me.

It may seem perverse of me to devote all this time banging on about a single problem that may not affect lots of Windows 7 users, but the fact is that this seemingly mundane incident has seriously dented my confidence in the operating system as a whole. I now use other allegedly W7-compatible applications in fear and trembling lest they too suddenly and inexplicably give up the ghost. Sadly, I'm forced to conclude that Windows 7 is not really the breakthrough that it's sometimes made out to be, but is just another Microsoft operating system, albeit one that is somewhat faster and more stable than its predecessors.

Centurion [Blu-ray] [2010]
Centurion [Blu-ray] [2010]
Dvd ~ Michael Fassbender
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £4.50

10 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Seriously dire in almost every way imaginable, 29 July 2011
A film that is unbelievably bad from beginning to end. It is supposed to be the story of a small group of Roman soldiers, the sole survivors of a gory massacre perpetrated by the Picts, who make it southwards through forbidding enemy territory to Carlisle, in those days the gateway to civilization. There is almost continuous gouging, slashing, stabbing, beheading, and blood-drenched mayhem all round, but it's all done in such a wearily mechanical way that it's like watching a third-rate computer game, and one ends up beholding it all with utter indifference and a mounting sense of boredom.

It doesn't help that the whole thing is filmed through a dingy green filter (or perhaps through a normal filter smeared with green algae) and much of the action takes place in drab woodland and forest, invariably swathed in mist and drizzly rain. There is no sunshine, and no humour, and hardly any relief from the endless doing-it-by-numbers maiming and slaughtering.

Liam Cunningham at his most dyspeptic takes one of the main roles, but like his colleagues has been given little intelligible to say. Sparkling dialogue is most definitely not one of the film's strong points. An apparently dumb Pictish heroine wearing modern make up (Max Factor?) but otherwise got up like a Viking queen, has been cynically inserted into the action, presumably as a would-be sop to the feminists (as though feminists would want to watch this dreary tosh).

There is a fleeting shot of Roman Carlisle by night - it looks suspiciously like a small dunghill covered with flickering candles. "Not quite the Carlisle that I remember from my Roman youth", I remarked to my wife, but she was already fast asleep by then and my feeble attempt at wit went unheard. In fact it's not just the depiction of Carlisle that's out of kilter, but the film makes little attempt at achieving historical accuracy in anything - almost as though the director simply couldn't be bothered.

I normally end with the advice "watch before you buy", but on this occasion, I'd say "don't watch and don't buy - not if you can help it". Dire, derivative, lazily put together, tediously repetitive, a single-minded but unconvincing tribute to physical violence - Centurion is all of these things, and even worse besides. Buyer beware.

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