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Victoria Craven

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The Day After Tomorrow - Single Disc Edition [2004] [DVD]
The Day After Tomorrow - Single Disc Edition [2004] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dennis Quaid
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.08

46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If the world's future is threatened, find a public library, 22 July 2004
The Day After Tomorrow is everything you'd expect from the director of Independence Day; spectacular special effects, a beautiful cast who manage to look immaculately groomed throughout - despite their lives being turned upside down - and a good stack of dramatic one-liners. In a surprise twist to the trend of big-budget action films depicting America as the good guy however, the writers should be praised for the alternative stance they take. The film is often thought-provoking in this way, and the political statement it makes regarding important issues allows it to stand out from the deluge of mediocre blockbusters of the same genre.
The story follows Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) as a government climatologist who, when he learns of the powerful storm forming a path of destruction across the world, treks through the killer conditions to find his estranged son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal). Sam, however, has found safety a long with a group of friends and fellow citizens, in the New York Public Library. As the storm closes in around the terrified crowd, they attempt to salvage food, warmth and - cheesy American film as it is - hope. The thing that most surprised me about the film is that it was often very funny. There are numerous memorable lines, and a clever use of ironic humour.
The special effects are, of course, outstanding. Then again, you'd expect nothing less from a film of this capacity. In particular, the birds eye view of New York City conveys the lengths the art department have gone to to create an authentic look. It is interesting to note that director Roland Emmerich (who also directed Godzilla) makes a point of emphasising the carelessness of the world's inhabitants, and the destructive effects their pollution is having upon the planet.
It does, of course, have its disgustingly sentimental moments, and is often highly predictable. Saying that, it is a film i'd watch again, not least because it seems to have somewhat of a prophetic air about it. It's well worth watching.

The Road to McCarthy
The Road to McCarthy
by Pete Mccarthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Road to McCarthy is paved with gold, 2 July 2004
This review is from: The Road to McCarthy (Paperback)
It was always going to be difficult for Pete McCarthy to match the runaway success he had with the wonderful McCarthy's Bar. I was fully prepared for disappointment upon opening the second book, and am therefore pleased to announce that it is nothing short of brilliant. Fans of the author will be aware of his fondness for obscure places and unwavering ability to land himself in ridiculous and often bizarre situations.
The Road to McCarthy is similar to its predecessor in the sense that it once again follows Pete on his quest for identity: He explores his roots - just as he did last time around - and stumbles upon the history of the McCarthy clan, and the supposed McCarthy Mor. Sounds unusual - far-fetched even? That's because it is. Far from tainiting the feel of the book however, it adds a mysterious quality and sees the author trekking the globe in a highly unusual detective adventure. McCarthy frequently reprises his role of teacher and historian as he lapses into fact mode, interspersed with tales of the unusual people and places he encounters on his travels. So entertaining are the accounts of events he has witnessed or conversations he has taken part in, that I frequently found myself asking 'how does he FIND these people?' The answer is simple; they flock to him. He is a magnet for strange personalities, and thank God he is because I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a long time.
The author journeys further afield in this book than the last, with his adventure taking him to Montserrat, Montana and Tasmania. It was the section set in the latter that I found the most interesting, with its often moving documentation of convict settlements upon the Australian island. It's certainly eye-opening, and I frequently found myself staring at the words in disbelief. The treatment of the prisoners - many sent there for stealing just a hankerchief or a loaf of bread - was shocking. It is exactly this storytelling technique that gained my respect for the author. One moment I was laughing alound at the absurdity of a situation, and the next saddened by his descriptions of these historic events.
It is rare for a sequel to surpass its predecessor in terms of entertainment value, but The Road to McCarthy does just that. It is a warm, witty and marvellously entertaining read, which is at the same time educational. Whether or not Mr McCarthy draws any conclusions from his experiences I really couldn't say. One thing is for certain however; I can't wait to see what he's got in store for book number three.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2015 3:59 PM BST

Looking for Andrew McCarthy
Looking for Andrew McCarthy
by Jenny Colgan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £12.99

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An American road trip adventure, 29 Jun. 2004
Having read and enjoyed Jenny Colgan's first two novels, I picked up a copy of 'Looking for Andrew McCarthy' and was pleasantly surprised to note that it's not your typical romance novel. Colgan's trademark storytelling techniques are present, fans will be pleased to learn: her easy to read narrative, witty (and often ironic) humour complements the feel-good tale of a thirty-something girl on a quest for answers about life, and why it didn't turn out quite how she had hoped.
The main character in the book is ditzy Brat Pack fan Ellie 'Hedgehog' Eversholt. As she reaches the dreaded three-oh, she realises that even though she has a group of wonderful friends, a steady job and a flat to her name, she is miserable with the cards she has been dealt in life. Often nostalgic about her adolescant years - the nineteen eighties - she ponders the movies she grew up with and wonders why it is that all the promises they held never quite made it into her life. With this in mind, she decides to take a trip to LA in search of her teen idol Andrew McCarthy (of Brat Pack fame) and demand answers.
I found the concept of the book superb. It is unlike any other story I have come across and contains such a colourful (if aometimes cliched) array of characters. Ellie is consistantly entertaining and her determination to complete her quest is admirable.
That fact that much of the story is set in LA, New York and - more unusually - Kansas City - provides many an opportunity for the landscapes and cultures of the places to have some impact upon the direction of the story. As it follows the theme of a road trip, Ellie and her friends have many an adventure in their search for Andrew McCarthy. Colgan should also be praised for her sensitive approach to issues such as inter-racial relationships, single-parent families and bereavement. 'Looking for Andrew McCarthy' is a wonderfully uplifting book in general, however, and contains many memorable lines and amusing moments. It's certainly worth a read.

Starsky and Hutch: The Movie [DVD] [2004]
Starsky and Hutch: The Movie [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Ben Stiller
Price: £1.48

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch Starsky and Hutch. Do it. DO it., 21 Jun. 2004
This could have all gone horribly wrong. When Hollywood gets its hands on the movie rights to a popular TV show, this is usually a good indiction of there being trouble on the horizon. Take an established comedy double act, a rapper with a penchant for faux-fur coats, and a talented director however, and you may just manage to pull off the impossible.
For those unfamiliar with the seventies cop show, Starsky and Hutch revolves around by-the-book, leather-jacket-wearing David Starsky (played in the film by Ben Stiller) and his partner, rough diamond Ken 'Hutch' Hutchinson (Owen Wilson). The film starts out with the two being thrown together as partners and forced to overcome their differences in order to bring down ruthless drug lord Reece Feldman (Vince Vaughn). With help from their friend, the hugely entertaining yet rather dubious character of Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), they make time for plenty of high-speed chases, visits to wig-makers and questionable dance routines. Bear this in mind upon viewing the film: it's cheesy as hell, but so, so funny.
The stunts in the film - particuarly those involving cars - are quite spectacular, and there is even a short section of out-takes at the end, showing how some of these stunts have gone wrong. The costumes, music, fashion, but most of all Ben Stiller's perm, all contribute towards making the viewer feel as though they have been propelled back in time to the decade of flower power. There are plenty of references to seventies technology and how ridiculous it now appears. Look out for the 'hidden' recording device worn by Huggy Bear; subtle it ain't. Talking of Mr Bear, as far as musicians-turned-actors go, the success rate has been minimal, and whilst Snoop Dogg isn't in line for any Oscars just yet, he possesses a decent acting ability all the same. It is the fantstic Stiller-Wilson partnership that makes the film however, and the two truly are superb in conveying the blooming friendship and tough life as a Bay City cop. They complement each other brilliantly, with Stiller the more serious of the pair and Wilson bringing a laid-back attittude to the film. I have viewed the film three times to date, and still find myself laughing aloud. There's bound to be a sequel in the pipeline, and I for one can't wait.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
by Helen Fielding
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bridget Jones: The Edge of Sanity, 21 Jun. 2004
Having read and enjoyed Helen Fielding's wildly successful 'Bridget Jones' Diary,' I was eager to get my hands on the sequel. I admit that I was skeptical as to whether it could match the charm of its predecessor, but I was pleasantly surprised by the truth: Fielding's trademark sarcastic humour is present, as is the set of bizarre, entertaining and downright far-fetched set of circumstances Bridget finds herself in. Without wishing to give too much of the plot away, it invloves a trip to Thailand and an unfortunate drug-induced experience. Needless to say, the reader is required to suspend his or her disbelief on occasions, but this book is provided for the purpose of escapism, so it's not necessarily a bad thing.
The Edge of Reason continues in a diary format, with Bridget once again stating her weight, alchohol units and cigarettes consumed that day. The last time we met Miss Jones, she was living happily ever after with the charming Mark Darcy. In this book however, Bridget is struggling somewhat with the idyllic images she had regarding her perfect relationship. As always, Jude and Shaz are on hand to provide support, words of 'wisdom' and intoxicating substances. One aspect of Bridget's developing personality I found irritating was the way that, when surprised or caught off guard, she would apruptly announce 'gaaa!' This happened rather more frequently than I would have liked.
I was pleased to note the reappearance of Bridget's eccentric mother and, true to form, Mrs Jones is off on an adventure to an exotic place. Her tendancy to acquire a young gentleman friend is repeated in this book, as she is introduced to an African named Wellington. I found this to be rather too reminiscant of the original book, and felt we could instead have been shown a different side to her personality. There are plenty of surprises in store for the reader however, in particular regarding 'Uncle' Geoffrey Alconbury, and the relationship between Jude and Vile Richard.
All in all, I have no hesitation in recommending The Edge of Reason. It would be benificial to read 'Bridget Jones' Diary' first, otherwise certain elements of the plot may be confusing for the reader. I think it would be fair to say that the original book would win in terms of humour value, but when you've got a sequel on your hands, that's only to be expected.

Are You Dave Gorman?
Are You Dave Gorman?
by Danny Wallace
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most unusual and entertaining book I have come across, 19 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Are You Dave Gorman? (Paperback)
After reading the blurb on the back of the book, I simply had no choice - I had to read 'Are You Dave Gorman?' if not just to find out what on Earth was going on. Has the world gone mad? Should everyone in the country be rechristening themselves Dave Gorman? Did the events in the book REALLY happen? Yes to the latter, yes to the former and er... 'probably not' to the other one. It's true that the pair of authors responsible for this unusual comic adventure really did trek all over Europe in the serach for fifty-four people named Dave Gorman, and thank God they did, as this book truly is one of a kind. I can honestly say that whilst reading it, I laughed so much that I was left with no option but to refrain from reading it in public.
As you may guess upon learning of the book's concept, the idea of the Gorman-hunting stems from a drunken bet. With Dave claiming there are sure to be 'loads' of Dave Gormans the world over, and Danny vehmently disagreeing, several hours later the pair find themselves on a train to Fife to meet the first of the fifty four. As the authors learn of more Dave Gormans all over the country, they work their way through them; interviewing and taking a photograph of each of them. As the Gorman-flow dries up however, they are forced further afield and Dave and Danny find themselves caught up in many a bizarre situation.
I was skeptical as to how the split narrative would work, but after a couple of pages it was clear that both Dave Gorman and Danny Wallace share not only an incredibly entertaining storytelling ability, but also a wealth of wit and warm humour: "It was agreed that Dave would drive, as he'd had the most speeding tickets, so we were likely to get there faster." I found the writing style of both authors to be somewhat reminiscant of travel writer Bill Bryson: they each manage to capture the essence of people in a wonderfully witty way, with an often ironic edge to their observations. I can't reccommend this book enough. It brightened my day to such an extent that I was forced to ration my reading of it, yet still managed to whizz through it in a few short days. Anyone who has enjoyed the book may also like "Dave Gorman's Googlewack Adventure" (by Dave Gorman) and "Join Me" (by Danny Wallace) Laugh until it hurts.

The Other Side of the Story
The Other Side of the Story
by Marian Keyes
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant escapism, 17 Jun. 2004
Being aware of Marian Keyes' reputation as a talented author of intelligent women's fiction, I was eager to lay my hands on a copy of her latest offering. 'The Other Side of the Story' is full of amusing one-liners, a cleverly-woven web of sub-plots and a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a lazy weekend. It's not up to the high standard of 'Rachel's Holiday' however, with its sensitive portrayal of a woman broken by drug addiction. Saying that, all of Keyes' trademark story-telling techniques are present in this book: snappy dialogue, believable relationships and a warm narrative.
The book follows the happenings in the lives of three thirty-something women. The fiesty literary agent Jojo Harvey, struggling author Lily Wright and Irish woman Gemma Hogan, who is watching her father's mid-life crisis in horror. With their lives curiously interwoven by their mutual interest in all things literary, each of the three face troublesome times - often courtesy of their careers. Jojo Harvey quite the heroine in the book; giving her all to the cause she has so much faith in, and refusing to allow her gender to prevent her from gaining promotion.
One of my favourite aspects of The Other Side of the Story is the fact that none of the characters behave in a saintly, nor an evil manner. They have flaws, regrets and bad experiences just as 'real' people do. I found the way that each of the three women have a different perspective on extra-marrital affairs to be interesting, too. Different angles are explored as we see the story - as the title suggests - from many sides. In this way the reader may also understand how misunderstandings and wrong conclusions are formed.
I have no hesitation in recommending this book to others who have read and enjoyed Keyes' previous novels. I am pleased that the author has maintained her unique voice in the field of women's writing, but disappointed that the subject matter is not as engaging nor believable as her previous efforts. Relax with a cup of tea and enjoy.

Life, the Universe and Everything
Life, the Universe and Everything
by Douglas Adams
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Losing grip on reality, 17 Jun. 2004
Anyone who has read and enjoyed the sublime Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is sure to welcome the third book of the series with open arms. At the same time however, they may quite rightly be concerned as to whether the high standard of the earlier books can be matched by Adams' third effort. If at all possible, 'Life, the Universe and Everything' is even more far-fetched than its predecessors. Not that that's a bad thing, of course: "Arthur felt happy. He was terribly pleased that the day was for once working out so much according to plan. Only twenty minutes ago he had decided he would go mad, and now here he was already chasing a Chesterfield sofa across the fields of prehistoric Earth."
As far as the characters are concerned, Arthur - despite having spent five years living as a caveman since we last saw him - remains a blundering fool in a dressing gown. The only difference perhaps is the appearance of a beard, decorated with a rabbit's bone (this, surprisingly, holds some significance as the story progresses). Thrilled to find himself propelled back in time, Arthur has the dubious pleasure of witnessing a cricket match at Lords, and is partly responsibly for the mass-hysteria that ensues. Slartibartfast takes on a larger role in this story, as he leads the intergalactic group around the universe and attempts to thrust his authority upon anyone who will listen.
One of my favourite parts of the book is that describing the alien with a chip on his shoulder: Bitter about the treatment he has received from his fellow space creatures, he makes it his mission to personally insult every living organism in the universe. Arthur's reaction in particular is very amusing. I also liked the description of the party that had quite literally taken on a life of its own. The original guests, all too stubborn to leave, found themselves spending their lives in the alcohol-strewn room, and as they began spawning children, the phrase 'survival of the fittest' aptly describes the consequences. The strongest party-goer genes were passed on to the next generation, and so the decades of partying continued.
I was disappointed that the evil Vogons failed to make an appearance this time around. Vindictive they may have been, but hugely entertaining nonetheless. Instead, Adams opted to introduce a race of killer white robots. They are far less intereting unfortunately, but Marvin the paranoid android goes some way in readdressing the balance as far as entertainment goes.
All in all, Life, the Universe and Everything os a fantastic book. Short, yes, but I favour quality over quantity any day. It's an enjoyable way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, and fans of Douglas Adams won't be disappointed.

Duplex [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Duplex [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mediocre slapstick comedy, 12 Jun. 2004
Duplex, by rights, should have been a major success. It stars the brilliant Ben Stiller and is directed by the hugely talented Danny DeVito (who made a superb job of directing Matlida in 1996). I expected it to be hilarious. It wasn't. That's not to say it was a bad film, just that I was disappointed by its inability to fulfil its potential.
The story centres around young married couple Alex and Nancy (Stiller and Drew Barrymore). After months of searching, they finally come across a magnificant, roomy duplex in Brooklyn. The only problem is the little old lady - Mrs Connelly - who rents the top floor. Alex and Nancy are keen to evict the elderly Irish woman in order to make both floors theirs. It soon becomes clear, however, that their neighbour is not quite as sweet and frail as she appears. Unwilling to give up her much-loved home, she turns Alex and Nancy's life into a nightmare. Among other things, Mrs Connelly subjects the couple to an unbearable amount of noise by inviting her friends around early in the morning for brass band practise, late night TV at maximum volume, and a rendition of Riverdance in the early hours. It's not just the noise that irritates Alex and Nancy however, but the fact that she constantly calls upon her neighbours for help with trivial tasks, and at one point accidentally sprays Nancy's boss in the face with mace.
There are some funny moments in the film: when Mrs Connelly chokes on a chocolate caramel, Nancy forces a reluctant Alex to perform mouth-to-mouth recusitation, whilst she gives air compressions. When the elderly lady regains conciousness to see her lipstick around Alex's mouth, and Nancy straddling her however, she soon get hold of the wrong end of the stick, and the police are called in. The occasion on which Alex, in a deadpan tone, reels off a lengthy list of methods he has contemplated employing for killing Mrs Connelly, was also very amusing.
In conclusion, the main thing Duplex lacks is wit. I'd like to say that with its elements of slapstick it is aimed more at children than adults, but perhaps murdering an (albeit hugely irritating) old lady is not a subject most parents would allow their kids to view. Fans of Stiller and Barrymore may well enjoy the film, as the acting of said performers is top-notch. Otherwise, I'd give it a miss.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4)
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harry returns in a story much darker than its predecessors, 8 May 2004
Having been told many times of J K Rowling's fourth installment of the Harry Potter series being considerably darker than the first three, I was simultaneously skeptical as to whether or not the effect would be successful, and at the same time eager to experience the change in her storytelling technique. I wasn't disappointed. Yes, it's a long book, and although that seems to put some people off, let me assure you that the effect has the author drawing the reader in to an enchanting and many-layered plot like never before. The level of detail is far more enhanced than the previous books containing Harry's adventures: The author seems aware that the original Harry Potter fans have now matured along with the young wizard, and are now capable not only of understanding the changes Harry is experiencing, but also able to take on board a more complex storyline than is usual within the set of books.
The first hundred or so pages see Harry suffering at the hands of his wretched relatives - the Dursleys - before finally being released for long enough to enjoy the exciting atmosphere of the Quidditch World Cup. Upon returning to Hogwarts, Harry and his fellow witched and wizards learn of a once-annual tradition known as the Triwizard Tournament. It is at this point that J K Rowling unleashes information about magic schools in other countries: Durmstrang and Beaxbatons are the names of the other two schools that compete against Hogwarts for the Triwizard Cup. Times are stressful for Harry during the competition, and it is then that we glimpse changes in his personality and angry outbursts caused by his awkward adolescant phase.
There are, of course, plenty of new characters introduced to the reader: The new Defence Agsinst the Dark Arts teacher - the eccentric and - some believe - dangerous 'Mad-Eye' Moody. We also come across some familiar faces, such as the amusing house-elf Dobby, formerly seen in book two - The Chamber of Secrets. Not only this, but surprising facts are uncovered about characters such as Neville Longbottom, and sinister pasts of thoses working for the Ministry of Magic. There is plenty of excitement within the Goblet of Fire, and suspense during difficulties Harry must overcome during tests of friendship between himself, Ron and Hermione. There are lots of surprises in store, plenty of twists and several weepy moments. It is my personal favourite in the series, and I urge you to give it a read.

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