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Reviews Written by
Andy Millward (Tiptree, Essex, UK)
(VINE VOICE)   

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The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook Guide to Getting Published (Writers & Artists Yearbook Gde)
The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook Guide to Getting Published (Writers & Artists Yearbook Gde)
by Harry Bingham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good advice well told, 4 April 2011
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This is a competent, well-researched and practical guide for writers, and especially helpful in the somewhat alien world of publishing contracts, financial deals and the many pitfalls surrounding both. Bingham goes methodically through each stage in the publication process exhaustively, giving examples of what works and what does not. His style is well-honed and easy to read, though it is not the best design for dipping in and out of, since some nuggets of truth are contained within lengthy paragraphs. Worth reading cover to cover if you are a first-time author ready to aim for the sky!


Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs the Mob (True Crime)
Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs the Mob (True Crime)
by Dennis N. Griffin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.50

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true page-turner, 28 Feb. 2011
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This is a fascinating glimpse into the seamy world of the mob and how the promise of Las Vegas as a source of gambling profits lured mob men from Chicago and the East coast towards the mid-West. From there it became a deadly power struggle among the ruthless, larger-than-life mobsters and the sometimes corrupt, sometimes incompetent but always persevering police force bringing them to book. These beautifully graphic tales are brought to life lovingly by Griffin, who obviously knows how to spin a yarn or two, and with such juicy material to go from he could hardly get it wrong. Apart from the many violent deaths contained within these pages, every anecdotal detail and nuance of the battle for power and supremacy has been thoroughly researched, but written in a thoroughly entertaining way. Imagine the Sopranos shipped from Jersey to Vegas and you wouldn't be far wrong, with Tony Spilotro playing the Tony Soprano anti-hero role. Splendid stuff and a true page-turner! :)


Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead [1991] [Dutch Import]
Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead [1991] [Dutch Import]
Dvd ~ Gary Oldman
Offered by thelastplace
Price: £19.75

3.0 out of 5 stars A deceit too far?, 28 Feb. 2011
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Rosencrantz And Guidernstern Are Dead, the movie, is everything you would expect from Tom Stoppard, writer and director: dazzling in its wit, knowing in its cleverness, acted with verve and sharper than a box of knives. For any unsuspecting viewer who is not highly familiar with Hamlet, you will miss much in the rampaging dialogue and glimpsed scenes from the play, viewed from the ignorant angle of our two protagonists (heroes seems the wrong word, given that they are in Shakespeare and Stoppard versions two dimensional and missing any form of back story). Perhaps as a movie RAGAD ends up chasing its own tail for slightly too long - a deceit too far, maybe? Certainly too stagey, despite being opened out so R and G can explore in full the palace at Elsinore, and its surrounding landscapes too.

As a DVD it lacks a lot, with no extras and even subtitles only in Dutch (this being a Dutch import.) A shame - deserved rather more than that.


The Social Network (2-Disc Collector's Edition) [DVD] [2011]
The Social Network (2-Disc Collector's Edition) [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Jesse Eisenberg
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £1.97

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Geeky social inadequate gets rich, loses soul, 26 Feb. 2011
In summary: a geeky social inadequate loses girlfriend, takes revenge, steals winning idea, gets rich, screws buddies, loses soul, hopes for redemption but ultimately fails to regain his humanity. In so doing, he takes advantage of flashy but effective direction, fine fizzing acting and a wisecracking script that never lets up for a second. No, on second thoughts maybe wisecracking is not the right word, since wit is not the primary weapon of choice here. At times Zuckberg's verbal dexterity is used as a battering ram to wear down participants in the urinating contest (as it were), and at others to obfuscate, dazzle and ultimately deceive himself, though he is almost outgunned in the wordplay stakes by Sean Parker of Napster fame.

This is a good film with lots of fine ingredients. it hangs together far better than it has any right to, though whether it ultimately satisfies seems to be a very personal thing. The Social Network, just like Facebook, seems to polarise opinion. At least one friend of mine claims to have fallen asleep while watching it, while others felt it tried to browbeat them or even insult their intelligence. Like Enron, the inhabitants of The Social Network think they are "the smartest guys in the room" and they never tire of saying so in any number of ways. To some this appears merely vulgar and obnoxious, though the accuracy of the script in portraying Zuckerberg and cronies as they truly are seems never to have been questioned.

Perhaps the motto is that films do not necessarily have to portray likeable characters and to have a regular romantic hero. Truth be told, none of the characters are very sympathetic, and the lack of a likeable person is what makes this unappealing to some. This is not, however, a reason to avoid it!! TSN is endlessly fascinating and worthy of at least two viewings. Enjoy!


Burke and Hare [DVD] [2010]
Burke and Hare [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Simon Pegg
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £2.62

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chewing gum for the eyes?, 26 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Burke and Hare [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
According to the blurb on the cover of the DVD box, this film is "outrageously funny" (Daily Star.) Actually, it's a mildly amusing and fairly conventional comedy using the renowned grave-robbers as a starting point, enough well-known British (and occasionally American) faces to make it worthy of a Carry On film. By the standards of most 15-cert films these days, it's not highly outrageous, almost all taboos on death having long since been exploded on film. Having 16 and 12 year olds of my own, I know only too well that teens would not find this version of Burke & Hare remotely shocking!

Yes, a few good lines, fine performances from Ms Fisher and Messrs Pegg, Serkis, Wilkinson, Curry, Bailey and especially Corbett, but by the standards of John Landis this is a bit ordinary. Sure he could have reinvented the genre, much as he did with American Werewolf in London, for example. As it is, Burke & Hare is, in the phrase memorably coined by Frank Lloyd Wright of Television, "chewing gum for the eyes" - once seen, soon forgotten. A shame...


A Landing on the Sun
A Landing on the Sun
by Michael Frayn
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irony in retrospect..., 26 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: A Landing on the Sun (Paperback)
Frayn's wry, wily and touching yarn is all the more ironic, given David Cameron's current round of government-sponsored research into the nature of happiness. What goes around, comes around. Frayn rightly characterised happiness as a fleeting by-product of chance, a serendipity rather than something that can be engineered, and also sometimes followed by tragedy. This precarious balance casts a long shadow through Whitehall, where the mandarins are firmly opposed to anything which might suggest quality of life should be the aim of policy rather than sheer activity for the hell of it. Beautifully written and ultimately a love story uncovered.


Whitechapel Series 2 [DVD]
Whitechapel Series 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rupert Penry-Jones
Price: £9.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great ingredients but formulaic finish, 26 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Whitechapel Series 2 [DVD] (DVD)
This must have sounded a good bet to TV execs: build upon the legend of Jack the Ripper with a fresh new modern drama, not just another hoary old retelling of the Ripper story. Create credible characters, all with sizeable flaws and foibles, plus a modern day Ripper copycat, the finer detail of whose crimes would only be interpreted by a nerdy Ripperologist, then shake and serve. Given the potential interest in the raw materials, Whitechapel is perhaps slightly disappointing in the final analysis, though you can blame neither Rupert Penry-Jones or Phil Davis - whose on-screen chemistry and ultimate grudging mutual respect is the glue that binds this drama for three episodes, nor indeed Steve Pemberton as the eerie Edward Buchan.

Why the disappointment? Because ultimately it had nowhere to go except a predictable denouement involving the new ripper, the final victim and the police arrival in the nick of time... Personally I would have hoped for greater inventiveness, but it seems the return to formulaic cops & serial killers took over at that point. Shame, but full marks for all the good things to be seen here!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2012 1:47 AM GMT


I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again (Vintage Beeb)
I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again (Vintage Beeb)
by BBC
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £9.25

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anarchy with edge..., 26 Feb. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Following in the great tradition of anarchic radio comedy established by the Goons and Round the Horne, ISIRTA added a notably satirical edge to the general lunacy, brought to the mix from TW3. The cast, all of whom went on to distinguished careers in many and varied ways, performed with true pizazz and verve. Not difficult to see how Cleese went on to develop the Pythons and Garden, Brooke-Taylor and Oddie the Goodies. If the send-ups of radio seem dated this is hardly surprising for a programme in its pomp in the late 60s when a substantial number of households had yet to acquire a TV, though the inventiveness of the show is amply demonstrated on this recording - taking advantage of the fact radio can describe things that could not be portrayed visually on primetime TV!

Highlights include the news in Welsh, the Eddie Waring impersonation and Oddie's wonderful Sick Man's Blues. More of the wonderful Prune Plays in addition to the delicious Taming of the Shrew would have made it even better, but this is a splendid piece of nostalgia from a time when it was almost dangerous to think so!!


From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-line Dispatches from the Advertising War
From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-line Dispatches from the Advertising War
by Jerry Femina
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Critics? Eat your copy..., 1 Dec. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Forgive me if I find the critical reviews of this book somewhat nonsensical. It does not pretend to be anything other than what it is - which is themed chapters analysing aspects of the advertising industry with scalpel-like precision and a fund of excellent anecdotes to illustrate the points made. There is a wonderful cast of larger-than-life characters, some of whom appear in many of the stories told, and maybe there is some repetition and self-aggrandisement (it is an advertising man writing the book, after all), but it was never designed to be a single narrative, nor even a News of the World shocking expose. On the contrary, this is an amiable and richly entertaining stroll down Madison Avenue, and should be enjoyed for what it is :).


Jar City (Mýrin) [DVD] [2006]
Jar City (Mýrin) [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Baltasar Kormákur

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wallender on valium?, 1 Dec. 2010
This is a beautifully observed, superbly acted, brooding and down-played movie in a dour Icelandic film noir style, but none the worse for that. It's not crime fiction in the Hollywood style, which may explain why it's got critics who expect action sequences every 2 minutes and sex scenes every 10. That it plays not unlike a Wallender TV episode at feature film length is not an insult, but evidence that the astute but laconic Icelandic cop Erlendur, he of the deeply uncool 70s sweaters, and his Swedish counterpart share the same social awkwardness, the depressive mannerisms, the dry humour, the lack of empathy (excepting Erlendur's slightly grudging support for his pregnant junkie of a daughter Eva) and the gritty approach to their work. The atmosphere is heightened by the use of an Icelandic navy (?) choir. The storyline would be nothing exceptional were it not for the setting and the style with which Jar City has been made, and that alone makes it worth watching.


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