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MT (England)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor quality product, late delivery, 12 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Item arrived day after the end of the estimated delivery window, which was already quite "generous". The biggest issue is the screen protector, which, in addition to being difficult to apply (but I guess this is true of most screen protectors out there), came with a sticker on it. Once removed, this sticker left a sticky, messy mark which is virtually impossible to remove.

The case itself came with fingerprints/marks on it. It has a cheap feel to it and makes the use of the power button very tricky.

I guess you get what you pay for--or in this case, even less.

In the House (Dans la maison)
In the House (Dans la maison)
Dvd ~ Francois Ozon
Price: £12.88

9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promising start that descends into farce, 18 April 2013
I guess it would be easier if the entire movie was a let-down; I could dismiss it as the case of "emperor's new clothes" seen so many times with certain directors. However the first half hour is genuinely intriguing, which makes the utter failure that follows more difficult to watch, and a failure more difficult to comprehend.

I enjoy movies that challenge us, that do not offer easy ways out or formulaic happy endings. However this movie doesn't challenge anyone; it simply loses the plot. Mr Ozon clearly bit off more than he could chew with this attempt at dissecting the delicate fabric of a "perfect" middle class family. A third in, the movie loses every sense of direction and can't decide whether it is a critique of the suburbia, a look at mental disorder, a study of a disintegrating marriage, all of the above, or something else.

I am not a fan of Ozon; the one movie of his I did enjoy was Potiche. A simple, fluffy, entertaining story with no attempts at art was perfectly acceptable--Potiche does what it says on the tin. With "In the house" we are promised one thing by the trailer (and many, many rave reviews in the press and on this site) and are presented with a muddle than even crème de la crème of French cinema, and the one and only Kristin Scott Thomas, could not make work.

The Guilt Trip [DVD] [2012]
The Guilt Trip [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Barbra Streisand
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: £2.71

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected gem, 20 Mar. 2013
This review is from: The Guilt Trip [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
With a simple premise and some run-of-the-mill dialogue shown in the trailers, you can see why I went in not expecting much. I don't know if it's just me, but I love when a movie proves me wrong! I would not call it a laugh-out-loud comedy but rather a touching (and at times really quite poignant) exploration of a slightly lost thirty-something and his lonely sixty-something mother and how they reconnect in the course of a coast-to-coast road trip.

What really sets this movie apart from other similar family movies is the ingenious Streisand-Rogen pairing. With perfect comedic timing and out-of-this-world acting they convey one of the most convincing portrayals of a mother-son relationship that I have seen on the big screen. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. The only reason why I am reluctant to give it five stars is because I feel this rating should be kept for movies which break new ground (which I guess you could argue this movie does not do), but speaking from the heart it left a five-star impression on me which lingers long after the screening. It makes you think about families, about the generational divide, about loneliness and finding your way. Very funny and moving without being schmaltzy.

Price: £11.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Angelic voice, excellent choice of arias, but not the best technique, 17 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Opera (Audio CD)
In my search for a contemporary soprano who would live up to Callas and Sutherland, it was inevitable I should turn my intention to Anna Netrebko. And I am delighted that I did. I would say that this disc is a great overview of Anna's repertoire and her vocal prowess.

And what a voice has been bestowed upon her! In many ways it's 'fuller' and more soothing than Callas's, and certainly stronger, more secure than that of Angela Gheorghiu today. One quibble that I have with Ms Netrebko's signing is her breathing technique. I am not an expert but she does need to work on it. She is often out of breath and you can hear her breathing in quite often. During 'Brindisi', for example, she is literally gasping for air.

Anna is without a doubt the most beautiful soprano out there, and if she could only perfect the signing technique and eliminate the breathing issues (make it less audible so as not to detract from the singing) she would in my opinion also be the finest voice of Opera today.

The Callas Effect
The Callas Effect
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £8.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unusual selection of arias with variable and often poor sound quality, 13 Dec. 2011
This review is from: The Callas Effect (Audio CD)
The three stars (two and a half if I'm honest) are in no way a reflection on Callas, whom I admire no end. The problem with this CD as I see it is twofold:

1. The quality of some of the recordings is quite poor. As another reviewer points out, these are 'historical' recordings and I agree. However I cannot in good conscience recommend buying this CD when the vast majority of arias are available for download (or on other CD compilations) in much higher quality, without the irritating crackling.

2. The selection of the songs (or rather the selection process) is at best quite odd. I understand from other reviews that the idea was to try and map the events in Callas' life to the arias she sang on stage and/or recorded in a studio, which if true is in my opinion an exercise in futility. I mean, honestly, what are the parallels between her and Lady Macbeth?

Having said all this, this CD has provided me with a handful of gems I was unfamiliar with, such as a delightful polonaise-like aria from I Vespri Siciliani, as well as a wonderful recording of D'amor sull'ali rosee from Il Trovatore. But this is all I got out of this CD. The truth is, a Callas fan will already have all of the arias on this CD in much better quality anyway, and a newcomer should really look elsewhere for an introduction to the legacy of one of the greatest artistes of all time. To those only just discovering Callas I would recommend "The Voice of the Century" double CD, plus Callas sings Verdi (the latter for an overview of some of her more dramatic roles).

I cannot comment on the DVD as I only purchased the music CDs (i.e. NOT the deluxe edition).

The Look Of Love
The Look Of Love
Price: £9.97

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sultry and atmospheric, yet ultimately bland, 11 April 2011
This review is from: The Look Of Love (Audio CD)
It's a wonderful selection of songs and if you were to judge the songs on their individual merit you'd be amazed. Ms Krall's voice is smooth and sultry, with the potential of evoking the atmosphere of a swanky New York night-club. However the natural intimacy her voice possesses is drowned out in what I'm guessing experts would call over-production. Some of these songs are essentially very simple, but the unnecessary embellishments spoil what could have been a truly remarkable CD. Furthermore, even though the songs are quite varied, they are all recorded in the same style, tempo, arrangement, so that it's occasionally difficult to tell which song is currently playing. What I'm getting at is that ultimately the CD sounds like a single really long tune. Individually the songs are great but the entire package is just too bland.

The Voice of the Century
The Voice of the Century

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incandescent, 10 Mar. 2011
I'm a recent convert to classical music, and am only slowly discovering opera in all its glory (and loving every minute of it), so I will not be speaking with the authority of someone with an educated ear, but I still hope you'll find what I have to say useful.
I'm going to start off rather bluntly (possibly due to my ignorance), and speak from the heart: the truth is that there are more pleasing voices to my ear than one which adorns these recordings. It's Ms Callas' characterisation of each and every of the roles, and the passion with which she approaches them that I have observed in the recordings of her TV appearances that prompted me to buy this disc.
And that theatrical prowess, the acting that she excelled in, shines through these recordings even though it's only the voice, without the stage presence. And it's mesmerising. And 5 stars does not do this double CD justice.
Allow me to elaborate further. For instance, I prefer Montserrat Caballe's 'Vissi d'Arte' to Maria's. Furthermore, and again speaking purely from the vocal point of view, I prefer Renata Tebaldi's rendition of 'Un bel di, vedremo' to Maria's. I could go on. All this may of course be due to the fact that these recordings were made (according to many scholars) when Ms Callas was apparently past her prime. But irrespective of that, no other artist that I heard puts so much soul in it. Translation is unnecessary--every note speaks for itself. The voice may appear fragile at times, but the emotion is permeating every word she utters. And I guess this is what makes her unique in my mind--no other artist could do such a consistent job of breathing life into so many women, into such a varied repertoire.
In conclusion, while I am still in search of the soprano with the most soothing, strong, full, pleasant timbre, my search for the one with the most life, the most humanity, in it, is over with the purchase of this disc.
A nice bonus is a very informative CD sleeve that gives a very brief but wonderful overview of the main arias and opera styles in Italian and French opera covered on this CD. Sadly no lyrics but there's Internet for that.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 28, 2011 5:35 PM BST

Finance: The Basics
Finance: The Basics
by Erik Banks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.50

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not at all what I was expecting, 30 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Finance: The Basics (Paperback)
The two reviews to date lack more detailed description of the product so I thought I'd chime in with some more information on the book and why it did not strike a chord with me at all.

This book is essentially a CORPORATE finance textbook, something that a finance/economics undergraduate might be using for their exams, or someone with a non-finance degree who's about to embark on a career heavily focused on corporate finance. The book is overflowing with terms which (it is to be expected) will be unknown to the reader (as its title is: "Finance: the BASICS"), and complex finance notions follow each other with such speed that I found myself having to flick back and re-read and underline and revise, just to be able to follow the next chapter.

It's not even a textbook actually--even a textbook would pause occasionally, giving you some time to assimilate and revise. This book is more like a refresher course that a student would use just before an exam, at times almost like a glossary of terms. Or perhaps a book which an experienced banking professional may use for quick reference. So much material is condensed into its 250 pages that I feel it should not be marketed as basics of finance; it is just too encyclopedic.

Don't get me wrong, the author clearly knows his stuff, and the book is visually very nicely done, on nice paper with a nice choice of type. But it is essentially written for banking professionals or people embarking on a career in finance. The book does not deal with personal finance (which you might expect from a finance book from The Basics series, especially one that claims it will enable the reader to 'apply and relate financial concepts to daily activities'), but almost solely with corporate finance and economics.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2011 8:19 AM GMT

No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Look wonderful from afar but beware..., 14 Aug. 2010
I was completely taken by the photos of the product and the one review to date. Every book-lover will at some point need bookends, either to tidy up the underused shelves or to display some of their favourite books on a coffeetable. They were dispatched promptly and arrived safely packed and on time.

The problem is the following: the finish is not as good as you would expect from a product you paid £[] for (incl. delivery). There are a number of scratchmarks, and you can clearly see the line where the two pieces of wood meet (as if they were glued together rather clumsily and then someone forgot to paint over/smooth out the edges). All of this is only noticeable if you actually take the bookends in your hand and inspect them closely, so your visitors are unlikely to even notice it and they will probably only notice how lovely they look from a reasonable distance. It's just not the sort of quality you'd expect from a product from the high end of its market.

Verdict: 3 and a half stars.

The Bridge Over The Drina
The Bridge Over The Drina
by Ivo Andric
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of storytelling in every sense of the word, 1 July 2010
For anyone interested in the Balkans with its rich but tumultuous history this book should be the starting point. Written by one of the most celebrated authors of Serbian/Serbo-Croatian literature, member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences, and one of the most prominent intellectuals and diplomats of former Yugoslavia, it chronicles the lives of ordinary people in the town of Visegrad. Visegrad, in present-day Bosnia, is a town on the river Drina, a place where East meets West, where cultures clash, where two dominant political forces--the Ottoman and the Austro-Hungarian Empire--collide and take turns in governing the region with its intricate ethnic and religious divisions. This novel is a work of fiction and not a history textbook but it is remarkably historically accurate, which should not come as a surprise as Mr Andric was an expert on the history of the region and drew on it in his never-ending quest for the essence of human existence.

The bridge is the focal point of the novel, which can be seen as a collection of inter-connected stories depicting lives of people in a place and time whose fragility is contrasted with the awe-inspiring permanence of the bridge. The bridge is the only constant throughout the changes that occur, the place where locals get together to chat, where lovers meet under the cover of the night, where shady deals are made and promises are broken, and where armies march bringing ever more change and misery.

Some of the scenes of cruelty and torture, common at the time, are difficult to stomach. Some stories are simply heart-breaking. But the novel, winner of the Nobel Prize, has been one of the most rewarding reads of my life. While dealing with a specific and often troubled part of Europe, its story of loneliness, oppression, and the human desire to break free, is so universal in its wisdom and depth that it transcends borders, regions and languages. And despite the often grim events its message is ultimately one of hope, of perseverance, of triumph of good over evil.

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