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Phelthew
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    • Doubt (DVD) / DVD / 29 Readings / 29 Ratings
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      01.04.2013 15:31
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      Story about possible abuse in a Catholic school

      It's awful hard to trust priests these days. With countless scandals involving children people it has got to a stage where almost every dog collar gets viewed upon with an eye of suspicion. Here in Ireland there are still a few old women who think the sun shines out of every priests backside and my own granny is still convinced I should become one. But the truth is that even the nicest of priests get a cold reception when it comes to being in anyway left alone with children.

      It has fundamentally changed the way the Catholic Church is viewed. They used to be a bit of a laugh. Just think back to Whoopee Goldberg in Sister Act as opposed to the more recent Magdalene Laundry's film. In some 20 episodes or so of Father Ted at no point is there ever a joke about any of the priests having a thing for kids and I don't think it's because Graham Linehan is above such humour.

      In Doubt the Church is painted in the bleak colours it has come to be associated with. The film starts in the heydey of a Catholic School during the autumn with old nuns sealed within their habits running a tight ship of neatly presented Irish and Italian American children. The nuns live under the reign of the principle Sister Aloysius or the dragon as she is referred to in whispers. She surveys the children from her balcony above the playground like Ralph Fiennes' character in the concentration camp in Schindler's List and when one child steps ever so slightly out of line she silences the whole school by calling the boy to her office where he is ominously punished behind closed doors.

      She strikes as much fear into her fellow nuns as she does her pupils. Several times in the film we see the nuns stiffly up-right at their quiet meals with Sister Aloysius coldly observing all of them. The only nun to ever really have a voice within Sister Aloysius reign of terror is the mousy and young Sister James. An innocent young woman who seems to fear Sister Aloysius but at the same time wishes to please her just as much. Sister James, however, finds herself in the middle of a conflict in the school as in complete contrast to the conservative old-school Sister Aloysius there is the likeable Father Flynn the pastor of the school. Father Flynn is a great hit with the boys of the school who he teaches how to play basketball and who ask him innocent enough questions about girls at dances. He charms young Sister James by offering her a friendly face and escape from the pristine order of the nunnery, however, Sister James soon finds herself in the middle of a titanic clash between her mentor Sister Aloysius and the charismatic Father Flynn as Sister Aloysius becomes convinced that Father Flynn is interfering with one of the boys at the school.

      The film becomes a story of the old meets the new and Sister James confronts Sister Aloysius telling her that she simply hates Father Flynn because he represents progress. He is happy to embrace secular songs at the Christmas show whilst Sister Aloysius considers "Frosty the Snowman" to represent paganism. Father Flynn uses ballpoint pens whilst Sister Aloysius reprimands children for writing like monkeys when they use them. With this notion of a reluctant changing of the guard it becomes hard to believe Sister Aloysius' accusations. Maybe she is simply too afraid to let go of the old-school and is doing anything to stop her school embracing progress. When it appears that the young boy in question seems to be very fond of Father Flynn I started to think of her all the more as the old witch just stirring the pot. We doubt her just as much as we doubt Father Flynn and doubt exactly what the often too naive Sister James thinks she saw. Father Flynn himself starts the film with sermon on doubt. What do you do when you don't know exactly what's happening when you can't be sure ? What's is the right thing to do? The film surrounds this dilemma of what is right and is the right thing in the end sometimes tainted with wrongful acts and how does one act when riddled with doubt.

      This film is an accomplishment in storytelling and acting. It started life as a play by John Patrick Shanley who directed the film. As film from a play it still relies on strong character performances. Very little action happens in the film but the script and the real performances keep you gripped throughout. Meryl Streep is barely recognisable as the stern face sticking out of her habit and I usually remember Hoffman as a bit of a lively good-time character from films like Charlie Wilson's War and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead but he was the perfect priest. He reminds me so much of many priests growing up. He had the big Irish priest head on him and his big cheeks and good humour were uncannily apt. The only other real character in the film other than the children who said little and the nuns who spoke not at all was Sister James. Beautiful Amy Adams in real life she just goes to show how ugly a habit can make you in this fil. She's so lovely and innocent throughout the film she's little more of a child herself. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Award for her role. Hoffman was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Streep nominated for Best Actress. Unfortunately no-one went on to win the award. Another achievement of the film and it's actors is it's ability to real challenge your perception of both Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn. Throughout the film Sister Aloysius is trying to do what really all of us would consider to be the right thing but we rail against her whilst we warm to Flynn who is committing the horror of horrors. Even at the end our perceptions of the characters are oddly not what we expect given their actions. It takes great writing and great actors to create such an effect.

      My only irk with the film is it's take on child abuse. It suggests a certain amount of complicity on the part of the child that I think many find insulting. Especially all of those who have been victims themselves. Father Flynn is also seen to be the embodiment of progress yet how can we consider such a man to be progress? It worries slightly as to the writers take of the child abuse scandal and their views on paedophilia as a whole. Maybe I'm a little over-sensitive on the issue but my take in things isn't helped any by the fact that Roman Polanski directed a notable presentation of the play in Paris some years ago. Mr Polanski himself being no stranger to similar accusations. I think this is something each viewer need think about himself.

      In conclusion it's a great film. A must see and an artistic accomplishment by everyone involved. I would highly recommend it.

      OF NOTE

      Philip Seymour Hoffman does have a big priest head on him

      There were an awful lot of protestant looking people in the mass scenes.

      Americans are forever drinking milk with their meals in films.

      WHO I'd PUNCH

      The blind nun. Because I'd definitely get away with it.

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      • More +
        31.03.2013 15:56
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        2011 debut album by Rizzle Kicks

        When I was a youngster, a pup, I was very limited in my musical tastes. I was a real zealot about rock and grunge style music and considered everything else to be pure pish. Fans of pop music were either little girls or wannabe girls in my eyes and wee pale Irish fellas who went about listening to rap music were just laughable. Now that I'm sooooo much older (24) I've mellowed. I don't know what happened exactly but I have a much more eclectic taste in music these days. My days of listening to layered guitars and whining voices have now been replaced by a medley of pop music, electronic music and even rap that I'm still a bit embarrassed to be heard listening to. I've become a pale laughable little girl.

        One such guilty pleasure are the two wee lads who make up the Rizzle Kicks duo. Two mates who met at school and then rose to fame posting their work on YouTube. They're an instantly likeable down-to-earth pair who play a kinda of summery youthful hip-hop that's very English whilst without being irritatingly so (like The Streets).Jordan Rizzle seems to be the main rapper of the pair spilling out the harsher lines whilst he is complimented perfectly by the more melodious Sule who is noted to be a fan of such artists as Pete Doherty. Whether you see them on a poster, doing an interview or in one of their music videos they always present themselves as innocent looking, vacant and a little like River Island clothes models but undoubtedly likeable.

        "Stereo-Type" the band's one and only album was surprisingly released in 2011. They only came to my attention in the last few months with probably their most famous track to date "Down With The Trumpets"

        DOWN WITH THE TRUMPETS 5/5

        A lively track laden with blast of trumpets throughout. It's full of great lyrics both by Jordan Rizzle's straight forwards rapping style and Harley Sule's more melodic lines. It's a song that you can listen to over and over again. Musically it's also probably their strongest card on the album. It's a song that almost always gets put on when we're having a bit of a drinking session in the house and it's a track I like to listen to to perk me up. Definitely one of my favourite songs from 2012 albeit it was released in 2011
        .
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ip8OsExL​Js

        Has Inspired such YouTube comments as:

        EHCMSheppard, "0:32 Rizzle looks like teddy out of Hangover :D"

        DREAMERS 4/5

        My second favourite song on the album. It's a song about the guy's dreams and ambitions. It's got the same air about it as does Tinchy Stryder's Bright Lights where an artist just breaking out takes stock of where they've come from and where they are going. It's musically sound and the boy's different styles recount their dreams in lyrics that sound well quite simply like young boys recounting their dreams. I've read that before their music started to kick off Sule was working as an assistant teacher and Rizzle was working flipping burgers and the song is all the more enjoyable in that context.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkrO0Itjr​vU

        Has inspired such YouTube comments as:

        "Why is Jordan looking so sexy in this video lls" by lilchrissy08976

        MAMA DO THE HUMP 4/5

        I remember hearing this song a lot last summer. Rizzle Kicks weren't on my register at the time so I just thought of it as a FatBoy Slim song as the chorus is unmistakably Fat Boy Slim. It has the same life that all Rizzle Kicks tracks radiate and it's complemented by a lively home-video style video ,just like how the boys got famous. The only problem I would have with this track is a problem I have with most things Fat Boy Slim rather than Rizzle Kicks and that's that it can get a bit repetitive.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxEINSBsb​eo

        WHEN I WAS A YOUNGSTER 4/5

        Finding myself working unwillingly as a solicitor at 24 I can empathise completely with this song. The boys sing about how all their dreams of becoming such things like a fireman but how it all went to pot as soon as they opened their first bottle of cider. It's another summery lively pop song with great upbeat music that's not as bleak as the lyrics really are.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc2iUwMpb​8Y

        PROPHET (BETTER WATCH IT) 4/5

        Perhaps the darkest song on the album. It makes great use of the difference between the pair. Rizzle raps about sniffing at raves and holding up convenience stores and seems to mock Sule for sitting making airfix models whilst Sule's chorus softly sings about how "You and I belong together" It's a great little song but not as memorable as Down With The Trumpets and Mama Do The Hump

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lLyr76L5​Ic

        Inspired such YouTube comments as:

        ImTheVelum: "Am i drunk?!?!! O.o"

        DEMOLITION MAN 3/5

        The music to this track is a bit more experimental than the rest. Slightly different style all round. Not bad.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPM-ezfZg​ik

        STOP WITH THE CHATTER 3/5

        Another track with some nice lyrics. Maybe a bit unremarkable in and of itself.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-cBigmRv​wk

        HOMEWRECKER 3/5

        Track about liking another guy's girlfriend. Has a really nice beat throughout.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZAUCROM7​8A

        MISS CIGARETTE 3/5

        I don't find it a very listenable song. The music is a bit repetitive but the lyrics are very clever about the boys nicotine addiction.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA_tBIOt8​MY

        Inspired such YouTube comments as:

        HMP Lock: "cigarette... i prefer weed"

        TROUBLE 2/5

        Sule delivers a nice poetic chorus in this track but Rizzle's dry lyrics about getting into a fight are a little ill-suited to the bands style as the nice guys on the playground.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUxBCiXMh​QA

        TRAVELLER'S CHANT 2/5

        To me the Rizzle Kicks main attribute is their energy and life. I love their songs that are great party numbers and they seem like two lads who'd be great craic. So I don't really take to songs like Traveller's Chant like I do to the others. It's not a bad song. Lyrically it's not bad but it's a big long miserable lament to me.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWvQxFU1B​3o

        EVEN ON A RAINY DAY 2/5

        So so track. Never find myself coming back to it much to be honest. If it comes on I don't flip it over but I never seek it out. Forgettable.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFt0m4exJ​3Q

        LEARN MY LESSON 2/5

        Likewise

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPM-ezfZg​ik

        ROUND UP 2/5

        Ditto

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lp_tVlz_​lM

        IN CONCLISMO

        There's no doubt that these fellas have made a mark for themselves. The album has delivered some the unforgettable Down With The Trumpets and with other strong pieces like Dreamers and Mama Do The Hump they'll definitely not disappear as one-hit-wonders and I'm sure that there is more to come. Nonetheless the album has it's weaknesses. There are a lot of songs I've only listened to more than once for the purposes of this review. Songs such as Traveller's Chant and Round Up kind of all merge into one long dreary song in my head. But I don't wish to focus on the negatives. When these guys are strong they're damn strong. There's a few songs here that I know I'll be listening to for many years to come. They're more than a flavour of a moment band and it's 2013 two years after their album was released and it's still going strong. I'm not especially a hip-hop fan so I wouldn't want people to think I'm reviewing this album on that basis. As I say I find that my taste in music is getting wider and wider and Rizzle Kicks style stuff isn't something I would listen to a lot. I think they can appeal to a lot of people with their more mainstream songs which is what got me sucked in in the first place whilst the general public are just going to get a bit lost and bored with the pure rap driven tracks.

        FINANCIALISTICS

        It's on sale in Tesco for £5 which is fair price.

        Written by Phelim McC. Steal it if you want the IMF condones that kind of carry on sure

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      • More +
        19.03.2012 12:51
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        A 2011 prequel of The Thing which is is much more of a lack lustre remake. A Norwegian scientific ba

        Producers Marc Abraham and Eric Newman aren't known for their imagination having already made a Dawn of the Dead remake they instantly reached for something else that was in no need of a remake and remade it. Well they say they didn't, they call this a prequel. They said that to remake John Carpenter's The Thing would be like "painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa". That being the case it looks like Mona's got two big handlebars going down the side of her mouth because the plot of this film recreates almost identically what happens in the original bar a few minor changes.

        A giant spaceship is discovered under the ice in Antarctica (as if that never happened in Alien v Predator) by Norwegian scientists and they draft in Kate (played by the hot one from Death Proof (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)) to help them investigate the body of a creature frozen in the ice. Lo an behold the bloody thing escapes and in a mass of tentacles and teeth the disgusting mess of a creature that really could only ever be described as a "thing" starts taking members of the crew out. Luckily just as in the original the crew are all heavily armed. Sure when you're running a research base in the South Pole with no civilisation within miles you need a lot of armaments such as flame-throwers, phosphorous grenades and all types of guns to keep you safe just in case you ever find a dormant alien. The problem with the Thing is that Kate soon realises that it can replicate humans and you can't trust anyone as they could in fact be the Thing. And so they're picked off one by one until only the ones you expected to last the longest, last the longest.

        It really does play out almost exactly like the original. Bunch of bearded men chilling in a rec room on a base. Dogs get a bit peeved at the aliens presence. The paranoia and the feeling of isolation that takes hold. Even Joel Edgerton as the American helicopter pilot amongst them doesn't look unlike Kurt Russell with his tiny eyes (like a vole). However, it really lacks a certain something that the original had. It's not as gritty and as dark nor as exciting. Maybe due to its lack of originality you just feel like you've seen it all before. It's been said that it was a lack of female cast that caused the original to flop at the box office but I'd also say the all male cast in the original gave it more of an edge of the world, brink of civilisation feel.

        The creature gets a lot more screen time and the CGI is rather hit and miss. At times creating some truly gruesome creatures and other times creating something that looks just like CGI. A dissection scene unveils a human body in the gut of the creature which allows for a more realistic looking style of gore, however, the original film was never about gore horror. It was about the suspense and tension which this film sorely lacks as much as it lacks Ennio Morricone's original score.

        There are more Norwegians in this film than you'll ever see in one place ever (except maybe in Norway) and they're an unremarkable bunch as far as acting goes but they're lack of fame and general bearded genuineness is a nice touch. Joel Edgerton of Warrior fame plays an insignificant role and even Mary Winstead isn't all that exciting nor as attractive in a Parka coat as she is in a cheerleader costume in Death Proof. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje of Oz fame is notable in that he didn't die first as you'd almost expect of the black gentleman and as what almost looked like what was going to happen. It's never quite clear as to why the main Norwegian scientist is such a prat either except that he's a lot like the scientist in the original. Hence remake.

        All in all it's lack lustre and I've seen the term premake thrown about referring to it's remake-prequel amalgamation. If you've seen the original you just don't need to see and definitely won't want to see this film but I reckon for those who've never experienced the original they'll find this entertaining in itself. It does very nicely dovetail into the plot of the original which would start immediately after this film ends and there's a certain fan boy moment of excitement as you recognise what's happening at the end but that does not save the whole creation which is nothing but a great big dirty moustachioed Mona Lisa.

        Of Importance

        The Norwegians drive about in these yellow track vehicles that look like Wall-E's big brother.

        These guys find a massive spaceship and the body of an alien. They NEVER actually bother looking at or investigating the spaceship whatsoever! It's also bizarre that this bloodthirsty disgusting mess of a creature would be capable of driving or inventing such a spaceship.

        The big decayed creature that Kate is cutting up at the beginning of this film looks like a Kebab.

        If you don't want to make a remake don't base all your characters and your plot on the original film and don't give it the same name etc etc.

        Trailer

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1OpwEu7l​uk

        Written by Phelim McC. Back off.

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      • Burial Of The Rats (DVD) / DVD / 44 Readings / 43 Ratings
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        30.01.2011 17:43
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        Rather poor T.V. film

        To be taken prisoner by a clan of scantily clad women may be the crude fantasy of many men but they may change their mind when they discover that these women have some sort of rat fetish and an interest in mauling male genitalia.

        Bram Stoker is played by a foppish and very clean and shiny haired American (Kevin Alber..whoever that is) who is kidnapped by two women of this rat clan and taken prisoner. These incredible looking women live in a giant castle in France and are led by their Queen (Adrienne Barbeau) who describes herself as the 'Pied Piper's twisted sister'. They're all women who've had some bad encounter with men at one point or another so have cut themselves off from male society to live with the Queen who is also the master of rats in the city...well about seven rats in fact. These women now spend their days wearing practically nothing and dancing topless in front of the Queen relentlessly, a lot of lesbianism is insinuated and poor old Stoker doesn't know whether he's in heaven or hell.

        The Queen orders Stoker be put to death but he is spared by the incredible looking Madeliene (Maria Ford) and some weird technicality in Rat Queen law. Once the Queen learns of Stoker's writing "skills" she actually employs him as her chronicler and sends on raids with the women so he can write about their exploits. Meanwhile Stokers father is looking for him with the rather unwilling help of some French soldiers.
        Cue some Madeliene - Stoker romance, a bit of sexy (and clumsy) swashbuckling and some jealous rat women and hey presto you have an utterly terrible film that need never have been made.

        The problems with this film are manifold. It's sleazy without being sleazy enough, it's funny without being a comedy and it's penned as a horror without there being any discernable reason why other than the fact that it has a famous horror writer as one of its characters.

        The wealth of stunning and largely naked women in this film may for some be a massive selling point and worth a star or two in the rating system but who really gives a sh*t? It's 2010 now and we have the internet. Naked women are just a google image search away so maybe soft core erotica in films was a litte more appealing in 1995. But most of the nudity isn't even sexual and there is one limited sex scene but if it's sleaze you want just watch porn, I don't understand films centred solely around nude women to be honest. Naked women is a slight bonus in a film but it can't carry an actual film without being pornographic. In this film there just seems to be too much nudity and it gets boring (I know, never thought I'd say that). The first few seconds of the topless dancers was fun but that went on for a few minutes and then this exact same scene happens a one or two more times. It's just ridiculously gratuitous. When Madelienne brings Stoker his food we have a close up of her ass as she bends down. Seriously either make a porn film or don't. Bit of nudity is all well and good but after a while shut up and get on with the film. The director Dan Golden seems to be more suited to porn having titles such as Bad Girls From Mars and Curse of the Erotic Tiki under his belt as a still photographer.

        There is one 40 second scene in this film though that is genuinely sheer genius. The Queen tends to dispatch of unruly rats callously and once when a rat crosses her she has it beheaded in a little guillotine perfectly sized for rats and that was comic gold. It came early in the film and it filled me with hope that this may be a comedy and if this film maybe took itself a little less seriously it would be a whole lot better. It's a film about naked rat women for God's sake, could not one of the four writers have decided to lighten it up a bit?

        The script is horrible and the very American actors can't pull off being from the 19th century or being French at all, for instance there are the very strong American accents and the French officer who tries to be very prim and give an attempt at adopting the role who all of sudden goes on about how 'the bitch refuses to talk'. Stoker rants on and on about the power of words and Maria Ford is a complete bimbo whose acting pretty much involves sticking her chest out, flicking her hair and breathing heavily and sensuously (she is almost worth giving this film an extra star for). The Scream Queen Adrien Barbeau as the Rat Queen spends the film uttering a lot of b*****ks and has definitely fallen from grace somewhat to be a in TV movie disaster like this.

        The sword fights are lack lustre with several very fake stabbings going on and some over ambitiously choreographed moves that are so obviously acted out at half speed and clumsy. The rat killings are also woefully fake with a body being completely eant by 2 or 3 rats within seconds until all that is left is a skeleton that's been bleached and has obviously been bought from a shop. There are embarrassing scenes also where a French soldier lies on the ground with 2 rats on top of him and just screams with his hands on his face. Just knock them off for God's sake. The rats are also rather ancillary to the actual plot of the film. There are 4 or 5 scenes were they're involved but largely the film revolves around the women who really don't have anything to do with the rats. The film claims to be based on an obscure story by Bram Stoker himself but I can imagine it's very, very loosely based on some story of his and one perhaps a little more concerning the rats and a little less about pointless topless dancing scenes. Other than these few rat scenes which aren't scary there's nothing to indicate that this should be considered a horror film at all and it falls more neatly into either the 'Adventure' or 'Plain Crap' genres.

        Despite my criticisms that must seem endless this film isn't without its entertaining features, be this the naked women or the sheer idiocy of some of it and there's the odd attempt at humour albeit rather scarce. It's not really 'so bad it's good' it's mostly just plain old bad but it's getting there. It should have been a comedy and the potential was there but I think too many writers all with their own ideas didn't let the film find a steady direction. It did have some very convincing sets and costumes, be they skimpy bikinis or the uniforms of the French soldiers and the music was actually quite good being sort of baroque and like the score to Barry Lyndon ...slightly.

        In all, I wouldn't recommend anyone buy it and even if it was on the T.V. it's probably best to play Ludo or walk the dog instead but if you don't have a dog or a Ludo set it's not a completely banjaxed flick. Just almost.

        ~~Of Importance~~

        I loved the scene when Stoker first enters the Queen's courtroom full of her female followers and cries: 'For God's sake where's the man in charge?'

        The French police/army/whatever they are try to discover the Rat Queen's lair during the course of the film only to discover at the end that it's a big frikkin castle. How'd they miss that?
        The Stokers were protestants and not Catholics as this film implies.

        Maria Ford is smoking hot.

        Stoker's father looks at a skeleton and shouts 'What a horrible death!' and then shouts 'What happened to him?' Those seem opposing things to say, don't they? Maybe I'm wrong.

        The French arrest Madeliene and when we next see her in the torture chamber she's wearing a white dress whilst she was wearing a bikini when arrested. How nice of her torturers to dress her up.
        Roger Corman had a hand in this as an Executive Producer. **Raise my fist in the air and scream Cooooooormaaaaaan*

        ~~Who I'd Punch~~

        Maria Ford gently in the boob.

        ~~Trailer~~

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMk68UctQmc&feature=related

        Not really a trailer just a short scene of one of the raids

        ~~Written by Phelim McC using good bacteria instead of ink so it's good for you~~

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        • More +
          22.01.2011 20:51
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          A below par fantasy novel

          The nice security lady at Gatwick airport decided to throw my newspaper on the floor because I hadn't put it in a tray and because I'd "thrown" it back as per the instructions of the security man at the gate who said, "You can just toss it back on the tray there, sir." Anyway I refused to pick it up the paper that had played everywhere much to her annoyment and left myself without anything to read during my two hour wait for my easyjet flight.

          I had a notion for something a bit plain to rid coupled with another notion for something Fantasy-esque. I picked up the Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan in the airport's Waterstones for £7.99 which is frankly a little steep for any book in my estimation as I think they're all overpriced. I chose this novel as I saw another book by her that was a Sunday Times Bestseller. Now I'd recently read 1812 by Adam Zamosyki which was also a Sunday Times Bestseller and amazing so I'd thought I'd try another of their recommendations. I decided to start at the beginning of Canavan's work so either her later books get a whole lot better or any old crap can be a Sunday Times Bestseller.

          I was looking for something simple and simple this book indeed is. It tells a very basic story, set out in a very plain standard fantasy world. It centres around Sonea, a young street girl whose age is never discernable. At times she's treated like she's about ten, at others we're led to believe she's in late adolescence, the author doesn't seem to think it an important detail. The cover shows a woman who could be in her twenties in a black robe, I don't know if this is meant to be Sonea but it certainly represents nothing from within the book.

          Anyway the most interesting aspect of the story happens at the beginning. Sonea is one of the poorer people in the city and once a year every year the city is purged of the vagrants and the lower classes and their all driven into the slums outside the city walls by the city guards and more importantly by the city's magicians. The people are deeply resentful of being treated like this by the wealthy classes and the magicians so the young ones usually get together and make a bit of a fuss and put up a small showing of opposition by throwing things at the guards and the magicians however there is very little point to this as the magicians are protected by a magic wall and probably stand behind it giving the finger to the powerless people on the other side. Sonea gets whipped up in this show of rebellion and throws a stone at the magicians wall only to have it go straight through the force field and crack a magician up the side of the head. An act which reveals that Sonia in fact as potentially very strong natural magic powers.

          She runs away from the magicians who come after her and kill a young boy standing near her in the process and later finds herself in the slums with her old friends. The magicians start to search the city for her but she is assisted by her quasi-Thief friend Cery in hiding from them as she believes that the magicians are going to kill her. However we are treated to the other side's story and the magicians are being led in the search by Lord Rothen who is more concerned to find the girl in order to teach her how to control her powers which will grow out of control as she is left untrained and will eventually kill her and those around her in a big mushroom cloud...probably. Added to this is also Lord Fergon who also wants to find Sonea but for apparently more sinister reasons...I don't think he was a pedophile but it's possible.

          The problem with this novel is a distinct lack in imagination, Canavan seems to be a newbie to the fantasy genre whose snatched a clichés from here and there and put them together without really trying to carve out a significantly unique world of her own. The title itself is lacklustre. Why has she chosen to call her magic men magicians? To me, at least, a magician is someone who goes to children's birthday parties and asses about with colourful handkerchiefs whilst wizards and sages sound a little more arcane. The magicians are split into three kinds, the warriors, the alchemists and the healers and all live in the magicians' guild under oath to the King. They seldom use any magic through out the novel except for telepathic communication.

          Outside of the guild and the city live the thieves who have banded together in secret underground tunnels under the slums. Yet again this is hardly anything new there are piles of fantasy novels and computer games with thieves' guilds etc but Canavan brings nothing new. She doesn't provide any back story to the thieves in fact they never actually do any thievery really.

          Her whole approach lacks imagination. She has a habit of giving mundane things a different name, for instance bol is beer and raka is coffee, but that seems to be the height of her craft. There's an embarrassing little glossary at the back that gives you the meaning of all her little made up retard words for things. A successful fantasy novel relies on a richly imaginative world, Tolkein spent his life creating Middle-Earth and designing it's languages and history. Canavan I think created her land Kryalia in a few seconds.

          As I've already said I found the purge and the class division within the novel to be the most interesting aspect of the story. It doesn't harm a novel to have a theme or two and Canavan makes a fair scratch at one here. Sonea doesn't want anything to do with the magicians and the guild because to her they are the wealthy oppressors who look down on her and her kind and she's conflicted about abandoning her people. The problem with this is that it's never really paid a lot of attention to and it comes to a unsatisfactory conclusion. Sonea does not become a magical Watt Tyler - that would have been a much better novel. Canavan's only other attempt at approaching any sort of social issue lies in her small show of feminism. Sonea wonders whether female magicians are accorded the same respect as others and the street children discuss how some of the woman are driven into prostitution by the men. However, Canavan seems to then undermine this diminutive blow for women. The Healers are largely women as women are more caring which is fair enough but whenever we're given a tour of the Healer's building it appears that all the healing is really done by men whilst the female healers assist. So only men can be doctors whilst the women are nurses...very feminist.

          There's very little to say about the characters as they're all rather basic. Sonea is conflicted about her magic blah blah blah. Lord Rothen is oh so good blah blah blah. There seems to be a lot of insinuation (maybe unintentional) that his friend Lord Dannyl is gay but otherwise blah blah blah. Then there's Lord Fergon who is the exact same character as your man Malfoy form Harry Potter but a little more two dimensional. The most interesting character is Cery, Sonea's friend, whose provided with a whole lot more personality than the rest. He's always wanted to be a thief and he knows all the theives' secrets which he uses to help Sonea who he's madly in love with ....blah, blah, blah. He's only relatively more interesting.

          To be fair the book fitted my criteria. I just wanted something I could read quickly as I waited on my plane. Whilst not a whole lot happens in the book and the first half of the novel is basically Sonea hiding from the magicians it does manage to hold your attention without you getting bored somehow. Canavan is not one for descriptions and her writing is very plain so it can be finished and discarded in no time.

          In all I would not really recommend it. It's very basic and it's more for children around ten or eleven, despite the fact that it has references to prostitution which may not be appropriate. It is basically a children's book.

          ***Stupidest bit***

          "It wasn't right, Cery fumed. Villains were supposed to reveal their plans, either by mistake or during a bout of gloating."

          As much as that's true how the hell would Cery know that? Is he an especially avid fan of James Bond films or something?

          ***Shelve, Burn, Charitise***

          I reckon I'll probably charitise The Magician's Guild (i.e. give it to a charity shop). It's the type of crap that has an "edgy" enough cover to sell quickly but it'll probably only garner the hungry Africans a mighty 50p after sitting around for years until some half-reared eejit buys it on a whim.

          ***Some other nonsense***

          If my review isn't rambling and inarticulate enough for you, put yourself through this:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTRrpgjkUao

          ***Written by Phelim McC. Review thieves will be magiced to death***

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          • Frozen River (DVD) / DVD / 43 Readings / 42 Ratings
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            08.01.2011 23:41
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            Film about desperation in America

            All really great Christmas stories centre around people struggling with adversity and the pressures of modern consumer life styles; all made with the purpose of making us step back and assess how greedy we all become at this time of year. All the Scrooge film variants depict this in one way or another with Scrooge's awakening and the poor Bob Cratchet's family and there are also great little films like The Greatest Store in the World and a few weeks ago on the BBC an even more bleak assessment of how this time of year provides a soul crushing expectation on less well off families was to be found in the film Frozen River .

            Smoking has never appeared less sexy as Ray Eddy, a weary looking middle-aged woman with one of the manliest names possible, takes drags of her cigarette, sitting at the open door of her car. The yard in front of her trailer, scattered with scrap metal. Her gambling addict husband has left her just days before Christmas and her new house is about to be delivered but she can't afford to pay it off as he's taken all the money with him.

            Her eldest son is a bit of a pain but obviously frustrated at the life he has to lead as a result of his father's addiction. He makes things difficult for his desperate mother who searches around the sofa to try and scrape enough cash together for her two boys to go to lunch. Her youngest boy is about four and wants his daddy to bring him a new house for Christmas. The trailer they live in seems wholly inadequate against the harsh winter that lies silently across the dead landscape of up state New York where they live and whilst she pretends that she is probably going to be promoted to manager at the discount store in which she works, in reality she can't even get moved from part-time to full-time duties.

            Eddy goes looking for her husband at the bingo hall at the local Mohawk reservation only to discover her car being driven away by a burly Mohawk lady. She gives chase but comes to a dead end of sorts as this girl, Lila, claims to know nothing about her husband and says she simply found the car abandoned. The women come to an awkward agreement to sell the car to a smuggler friend of Lila's but Eddy finds herself in the middle of a smuggling trip as she drives across the frozen river dividing the US and Canada with a Mohawk in her boot. Terrified at first she can't believe the money that Lila gets for this but finds herself left with nothing but the car she wanted to sell as Lila takes off - only to leave the money at the doorstep of a house. Lila too is a mother who has been abandoned by her husband but she has had her child taken off her by her mother-in-law and spends her nights watching the baby through the window and leaves it money when she can.

            Debts surmount for Eddy, her TV will be repossessed if she doesn't get the money soon, her children have to eat popcorn for breakfast because it's all they have and she has nothing to give her youngest boy for Christmas. Her boss at work on a whim refuses to make her a full-time worker and she is faced with adversity and merciless people at every turn. Her angst riven son tries to help by fixing up an old merry-go-round but is increasingly driven to more desperate lengths as he wants to work for a guy from school who is known to sell drugs and he even starts to dabble in credit card fraud merely as a means of getting by. Eventually Eddy resigns to actively engaging in smuggling with Lila and is an asset to her as her white skin means she's never stopped by the police. The money starts to roll in and things start to look up for these very different women who are initially held back by their own prejudices. Lila has a natural suspicion of the whites who have plagued her people and who divide the Mohawk people and territory into two different countries without considering them and then go on to criminalise their movement across this artificial border. Whilst Eddy on the other hand has a somewhat snobby approach to the Mohawks' way of life and a subconscious racist ideology. As abandoned women and mothers they come together and bond and rely on each other even when disaster strikes. Which it inevitably does.

            This is a gloriously grim film that shows us the bleak reality to America that we're always distracted away from by glitzy Hollywood. Poverty is everywhere in America, even more so today and it may surprise some to learn of the deprivation in New York state which we so often associate with city lights and wealth. Eddy's trailer is small, cramped and in the middle of a barren snow scape. Lila lives in her brothers caravan in the reservation that appears like a prison camp containing people desperate for work. Unemployment is rife in upstate New York, I personally walked for miles through abandoned neighbourhoods in U.S. Niagra when I was there a few years ago because all the factories had closed down and the scale of the desolation was incredible.

            Melissa Leo as Ray Eddy is like a woman with the weight of the world on her shoulders. She's admirable honest at first but understandably stoops to smuggling to get by. It's interesting because we are seeing people smuggling from the perspective of the smugglers and the smugglees and it smashes the preconceptions of the racist anti-immigration demagogues who dehumanise and demonise these people. The Chinese workers are coming across their border to work off their debt and Eddy fears the Pakistanis who are little more than a young couple trying to provide their new-born with the best life. Ironically Eddy cannot understand why anyone would want to come to America were she's struggling to make ends meet. It provides a moment of realisation that there's always a smaller fish in the sea (to contradict Obi Wan in A Phantom Menace ). Some one is always worse off and you should be grateful for what you got. Leo's performance is second to none and she is like every other heavy smoking miserable looking working class woman you see on a daily basis, dealing with the travails of life. She was beaten by Kate Winslet for the Academy Award for Best Actress which is a disgrace as we can see Kate Winslet take her clothes off any day of the week but Eddy really provided something truly humanely driven.

            Misty Upham is the chubby lesbian looking Lila who is a perfect window into the lives of many Native American women today and this is yet another reason why this film is so well crafted and informative. It's rare to see Native Americans in a film unless it's a Western and in many ways they are a forgotten race internationally, despite being one of the most deprived and having suffered some of the worst prejudice. In Canada extraordinary amounts of First Nations' children are taken off families and put into care by white social workers out of touch with the idiosyncratic and distinct styles of motherhood that these First Nation women wield. They are more likely to be imprisoned and vast swathes of their male population succumbs to alcoholism as a result of the shame they still endure as a result of white oppression and the powerlessness they wield in the modern white society. In Frozen River we're given a glimpse of their real selves and it's a far cry from the deserts of the American west. Lila shows a bitterness towards white people and refuses to consider her actions as smuggling as it's all Mohawk territory and the U.S and Canada mean nothing to her. She is not a Christian and feels a certain disdain for those who have converted. She's a fascinating insight into this hidden society and an important example that the world should take a real look at. But more than this, like Eddy, she's a mother and the undying pull she feels towards her child is heartbreaking as she is powerless within the misogynistic Mohawk system that does not interfere in such affairs.

            Courtney Hunt has created the type of film that she should be thanked for. It makes us all take that step back and reassess our Christmas greed but it also opens our eyes to the underbelly of American society and the gritty world that's hidden away. She blasts holes in anti-immigrant racism and class level prejudice and even makes us think about our preconceptions of criminals; Eddy's son's criminal exploits as well as her own smuggling trips with Lila are shown to be necessary and acts of desperation and not the acts of evil soulless career criminals as the press would have them painted if this were to occur. Everyone likes to agree that it's okay for a mother to steal bread for her starving child when given this hypothetical situation but no-one is ever prepared to even consider that the people we brand as criminals daily are often in such hopeless situations. My only criticism of Hunt would be that she's created a world were absolutely everyone is a complete bastard other than the main protagonists. Every one creates further adversity for Eddy, there's the man with the house who won't take her word and let her pay the house off but is instead an arrogant rude scumbag, there's the lady in the bingo hall who won't let her take one look to see if her husband is there unless she pays five dollars, there's the guys who come to repossess the T.V. who won't give her five minutes to get there with the money and even the police man is a by-the-book asshole with out any compassion. There comes a point were someone has to break a little and give out a helping but Hunt has instead opted for a mean world of emotionless money grabbers. Otherwise this is a borderline masterpiece bleakly portrayed in the barren wastes of New York/Quebec were no camera has ever gone before.

            I would just simply recommend this film on basis that I'm a big fan of all things Native American and this film is one of the few that really shows the Native American plight to the world. It's a DVD that's a keeper and should be hauled out every Christmas for that little reminder of how lucky you are and how bad things could get and as an independent film it is the type of thing that should be bought on DVD in order to support the independent film industry that at the end of the day actually informs you about the world in ways, as does this film.

            ***Of Importance***

            Eddy literally picked a house out of a catalogue and was having it delivered. Isn't that crazy? I can never understand why Americans have all these wooden houses. I mean, they seem to suffer from worse winters than us and houses in the UK and Ireland are by in large made out of stone which seems like a much better option. We don't have hurricanes yet we have foundations to our homes whilst they don't.

            For poor people they did have one absolutely huge TV.

            The US police don't have any jurisdiction on Native American territories. They are like semi-sovereign states, kind of like South Armagh.

            At 4 o'clock in December on the Canadian-U.S. border it was bright daylight - I don't think it was bright day light here today the 12th of December at four o'clock.

            There is literally the grimmest looking strip bar you'll ever see in this film. It's like a rural Irish parish hall with a pole in the corner with some woman in from the fields sliding up and down the pole to Joe Dolan.
            Her kids are peeved at having to eat popcorn for breakfast. I would love popcorn for breakfast. Imagine toffee popcorn covered in milk.

            ***Who I'd Punch***

            Probably everyone other than the two lead women. Even Eddy's son is a prick at times. The Native American dude at the carsales yard was cool though. I'd kick back with him after the punching massacre.

            ***Shut the F*ck up .... Nigel Andrews***

            Mr Andews considers this film to be over praised and uses the word "penurious" in his review, thinking he's all that. You're not "all that" Mr Andrews and 'penurious' has probably been the most pretentious word of the week for some one who does a Most Pretentious Word of the Week thing every week so shut the f*ck up.

            http://www.ft.com

            ***Financialistics***

            I actually watched this on the iplayer and it still might but up there but I will be buying it on DVD and think it's worth the money at £4.93 from LoveFilm.com

            ****A Bittle Lit of Film****

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5pPQdLN4mga

            ***Written by Phelim McC who gives out reviews for sexual favours but not for free***

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            • Our Man In Havana (DVD) / DVD / 31 Readings / 31 Ratings
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              27.11.2010 00:12
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              Comedy film based on a Graham Greene novel

              If I worked for the secret service I would walk down the office corridor on my first day and say MI - 5 in place of 'High 5' to passers-by and make an ass of myself generally. Eventually I'd get fired for putting the gadgets they give me on ebay, having the 3 twats from Top Gear conspicuously trailed and their pets murdered and also for frequently giving away that I'm a spy, in a bid to seduce women. I am indeed fully prepared for for the eventuality of becoming a spy but poor Alex Guinness as Wormold has the whole ordeal thrown on him rather unwillingly in this classic comic filmisation of Graham Greene's Our Man In Havana .

              Wormold is vacuum salesman in bustling, dangerous pre-revolution Cuba. A man characterised by a pervading anxiety according to the novel and depicted fabulously by the fidgety Alex Guinness he spends his days drinking at the the Wonder Bar with his friend Dr. Hasselbacher, worrying about his daughter Milly. Milly is a beautiful young woman with very expensive tastes. She prays for a horse and entry to the country club and her doting father can't refuse and not only this but her beauty has attracted the attention of a local police captain nicknamed 'The Vulture' who is reknown for his cruelty. Wormold is constantly plagued by the pressures of keeping Milly out of danger, keeping her happy and also with the dream of moving away with her to Switzerland where she can go to an international school.

              Far-fetched dreams in the trouble ridden Havana. Yet luck comes to Wormold in the guise of a very hasty secret service agent who recruits a confused Wormold within a matter of minutes. Luring a reluctant Wormold into the gents (Wormold has the wrong idea at first) he finally brings him round to idea of becoming an agent with the promise of lots of money. But there's more to being a spy than the money Wormold soon learns but being far too domestic a man for real spy work he decides to just make up all the reports he sends back to London. He invents agents, missions and draws designs for weapons he claims to have seen but which are infact pictures of his vacuum cleaners. Of course the ruse can't last forever, the Vulture gets suspicious of him, as do other unsavoury types and the secret service begin to think him very important so send him a secretary (Maureen O'Hara) to help out, which only makes matters more complicated for the poor man.

              Rarely does a film stand up to the quality of the novel and I having read the novel a month ago I have to say this film really isn't far off the mark. This is of course in large part because Greene himself wrote the screenplay and directed by Carol Reeed who had collaborated with Greene very successfully before on The Third Man .

              Greene considered the novel to be 'an entertainment', one of his less serious works but of course thoroughly entertaining and perfect for the big screen. The story is brilliantly satirical and funny, it never lags but keeps a steady progression kept alive by a lot of the same dialogue from the novel itself and by the fantastic performance of Alex Guinness. He is not perhaps how you would imagine Wormold looking but seems to capture the gestures and the character that I gathered from the book perfectly. The rest of the cast seem to meet Greene's original descriptions minutely but are nevertheless rather uninteresting. Jo Morrow as Milly, Wormold's daughter, is perhaps the weakest link. She looks a fair bit older than 17, her acting is a bit over emphasised and I can't say I find her as beautiful as Milly is meant to be. She has this wide head which makes her look like what I would describe as a 'German mountain maiden'. What exactly thay is, I don't know. But the shoe fits. Maureen O'Hara plays a fairly small role as Wormold's secretary and doesn't stand out in any significant way. Ultimatley, however, Our Man in Havana is a one man show and Guinness doesn't need any help.

              The one way the film diverges from the novel is the that the film is certainly a lot funnier. Little touches like Lorenzo, Wormold's assistant, constantly trying to set him up prostitutes as a result of a misunderstanding and the hilarious scene were Wormold brassly tries to re-enact his own recruitment by luring a horrified professor into the gents create some very mature and honestly funny humour that cracks through the strictness of the Golden Age of Hollywood and are all the funnier for their subtlety.
              Though an 'enterainment' the story isn't without its point. It satirises the paranoia of Cold War and reduces it all to some man's fancy and also really sticks the boot into the secret service depicting it as thoroughly inadequate. Considering the novel came out not long after the extent of the Cambridge 5 was eventually fully discovered, the film hit a sore spot. It's also very suprising in that here was Wormold drawing pictures of a secret imagined military installment in Cuba many years before the Cuban Missile Crisis and Greene was even writing in pre-Castro times.

              Carol Reed is a fantastic director and he keeps the life of the novel within the film, he manages to re-create perfectly what you imagine from the novel and the cinematography shot in Havana itself is idyllic of the Cuban/Latin atmosphere. All this bolstered by a very hispanic soundtrack complete with lots of flamenco.
              In all Our Man In Havana is one of the few films that you can watch repeatedly. It recreates an excellent novel to perfection. It's brought to life by an excellent director and perhaps more importantly by Alex Guinness who could have, at any moment, killed all the dudes in this film with his lightsaber.

              ***Of Importance***

              As I said Milly = German Mountain Maiden.

              I don't know if it was intentional but the scene in which Milly has saddles and whips and other leather paraphenalia in her bedroom was a little kinky. Guinness picked a bridle up and put it round her neck.

              Bit of racism in Guinness saying that all women look the same without their clothes on, like the Japanese.

              ***Who I'd Punch***
              This little kid walks up to Hasselbacher and points at his fat belly then points at his own skinny belly. How rude. Punch the starving brat.

              ***Financialistics***

              It costs £2 for a DVD with Lady Godiva on it as well. So that's 100 pennies for this. When I was a brat I used to throw pennies into the groove on the back of swans. You could do that 100 times or puy this. Bear in mind 100 pennies may sink the swan. I know what I'd rather do.

              ***Written by Phelim McC all over my body. To steal it you'll have to skin me***

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              • Witchcraft (DVD) / DVD / 47 Readings / 46 Ratings
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                19.08.2010 11:48
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                Crappy craperton (the first)

                Anat Topol (whoever the hell that is) plays an oddily attractive young mother who after having given birth to her new-born baby is convinced to live with her mother-in-law by her very smug husband. A disastrous set of affairs for any young wife without the additional bother of the mother-in-law looking like a disgusting blend between Zoe Wanamaker (My Family) and Olive Oil from Popeye; horrible dreams about foresaid she-b*tch of a mother-in-law; and, a largely unfounded sense of paranoia connected with the attic. Topol has to deal with being alone in this house as her over-bearing mother-in-law is controlling and her husband seems to disappear most of the time deffering to his mother's judgement. She finds solace in a camp priest and her skinny-faced friend Linda, who seems to be intended to be the comic relief within the film, but without being anything other than funny looking.

                Then....

                Scary dreams, lots of crap music, a whole lot more disgusting mother-in-law who has the deportment of butter (watch the film and you'll understand) and so on.

                It shocks and appals me that this film has spawned TWELVE sequels! Twelve! I was so fooled by this, I was led to believe that this film must have been able to garner enough of a following of people who wanted more and more of a story that was fertile enough to spawn further tales. Yet, in reality I wasn't sure that I wanted to watch past the first 5 minutes because of the cancerous music score that plagues this already horrible lifeless film. The track that seems to play relentlessly throughout the film and drive anyone to, at least, turning the volume to mute is some cheap-ass highly repetitive synthesiser music that really could have worked if it had been used with some moderation but you honestly find yourself sick to death of it and it just won't quit. In the opening five minutes, this plays over and over again ,to almost neatly spliced scenes of witches being hunted 'back in the day' and a Topol giving birth. There are two problems here: firstly, who wants to see someone give birth in a film? NO-ONE! Not ever, seriously stop doing it film-makers, I don't care if it's some sort of acting opportunity for women, I don't like it. Secondly, the directing is clearly trying to hide the fact that the house that the witch-hunters invade is actually a 20th century one, by lots of close-ups of the hooded figures running and focusing on non-descript parts of the house like a mirror for too long...very exciting... This combined with shaky camera work, some noticeably horrible lighting and that damn theme tune make a terrible scene that should not last almost 5 minutes!

                After that we're treated to one of the most disgustingly happy scenes you'll ever see in a film by the worst actors. It's like everyone's taken that drug the humans must take on Sesame Street and it makes you wanna puke.

                The film beyond that descends into boredom until the underwhelming conclusion. For a film that does seem to be trying to emulate the whole demon child genre like Rosemary's Baby and The Omen the child gets very little camera time and apparently very little mother-child time. Even witchcraft is never really an element of the film until the end. Topol has a few nightmares and is understandably uncomfortable by her mother-in-law but beyond her little ventures into the house's attic, which she is at first unduly obsessed with, there's no real horror. I mean, the music gives away that something is meant to be scaring us but it isn't. The scariest scene is actually a very odd one were for some reason we're treated to a slow close-up of the mother-in-law eating under-cooked meat which will make you feel sick, mainly because she's such a disgusting woman. What horror that does eventually come up is let down by very poor special effects, for example, what was clearly a soft toy is used to represent a sacrificial dog at one point. The film tries to hit the major demon child buttons by including the rich family with the big house and the Catholic priest who's savvy to the demonic nonsense but this seems almost ancillary and an after thought to the main plot. He's brought in and disposed of without really adding anything as are flash backs Topol has to the suicide of her father which is completely irrelevant to the rest of the film.

                Whilst it would perhaps be unfair to say Topol is a bad actress (because at the end of the day what the hell is she meant to do in this crap film) she does have an accent that makes her sound like she has some sort of disability half of the time. Gary Sloan played her husband and is largely irrelevant throughout as he clears off on business a lot. The mother-in-law was played by an actress named Mary Shelley who is either a tremendous actress or she's just naturally disgusting and a complete b*itch. Considering that her only ever film role after this was Witchcraft II I'm going to have to go with the latter.

                As a whole this film is a bit pathetic I'm afraid. It's got second rate actors in a plot that just drags along without ever really entertaining you, especially after it delivers a conclusion that seemed rushed and is terribly cheap looking.

                ***Of Import***

                There is one excellent scene in this film that's excellence lies in its realism. Topol's character, Grace, and her friend Linda are walking about and laughing hysterically and saying things like 'Stop it' and then laughing even more. Women do this. They just laugh when they're together and nothing funny is happening. Has anyone else noticed this?

                The film gets its second realism point for having the priest be camp. Has anyone ever really seen a priest like Father Karras from The Exorcist ? No, they don't exist.

                Film's should avoid having grand paintings in them because they almost always look sh*te. Especially when they're meant to be of characters in the film.

                You can actually hear the camera man's footsteps very loudly over the creaking floorboards in this film, an actress at one point who's meant to be laughing hysterically also keeps getting noticeably distracted by something off-screen.

                There's mute butler called Ellsworth in this film. Who doesn't want a mute butler called Ellsworth?

                The DVD case does give away a bit of a plot twist. So if you do buy this and still give a damn after my review, avoid looking at the back fo the box.

                ***Who I'd Punch***

                The mother-in-law without a doubt. She looks a lot like Zoe Wanamaker but instead of exuding that pleasant aura Wanamaker seems to have this woman seems to ooze greasy bitchiness. I didn't like her one bit which worked for her character to be fair.

                ***Extras -- Or the crap that people try to plump a DVD up with***

                This was just stills from within the film that show how crap and cheap looking it is.

                ***Financialistics***

                This DVD cost £2. It's not worth £2 and if you buy it they're only going to keep on making more sequels to it. No-one wants that. Even the people making these films don't want that. Don't buy this on DVD. Set them free.

                Written by Phelim McC. Don't steal it scum. Over and out.

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                • Intermission (DVD) / DVD / 38 Readings / 38 Ratings
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                  19.06.2010 17:18
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                  Irish comedy about people in Dublin

                  _Intermission_ is a film that has sat on my shelf a long time without tempting me at all. I've heard too many people compare it to _Love Actually_ which really doesn't appeal to me and other than that it seems to be simply treated as a romance, which I have to say after watching the film is not a significant element of the film at all. You also get the other crowd who talk about the film being all about a heist gone wrong which really isn't this film either. Indeed, _Intermission_ has elements of the romance and the botched-heist genres but it is very much it's own film and I regret not watching it sooner on the grounds of these generalisations.

                  Intermission is and foremost a dark comedy and a brilliantly entertaining story. It follows the seemingly independent lives of a large cast as they cope with their dreary lives . Firstly there's Lehiff, a small time criminal played by Colin Farrell who immediately sets the tone for the film in the opening scene. He charms and chats up a young waitress before suddenly punching her in the face and running away past a woman who has just told her child to "Shut the fuck up".

                  On to this we also have John and Oscar the supermarket workers who've recently stole hundreds of bottles of brown sauce which they're trying to get rid of anyway they can including adding it to their tea. John (Cillian Murphy) has recently broken up with his girlfriend Diedre as acts like a bit of a stroppy prick which Murphy masters brilliantly. You don't know whether to feel sorry for him or hate him. He's clearly very upset but he then takes it out on people unnecessarily and is rotten in between breaking down when he's on his own. Oscar has his own problems as he can no-longer orgasm and is being driven mad the frustration and despite John's complaints he isn't shy about giving John the details.

                  Deidre is now going out with a middle-aged banker who wants to do nothing more than watch T.V. He's recently left his wife, Noeleen, to live with Deidre and Noeleen is becoming a bit of a violent lunatic in the aftermath. Deidre's sister and mother are a comic duo with the mother being a little overbearing whilst the sister, Sally (Shirley Henderson), is living in depression after her last boyfriedn stole all her money and took a sh*t on her chest. So much is her depression that she's letting herself go and growing a moustache (a ronnie). Then there's the bus driver Mick, (Brian O'Byrne) who loses his job after a young boy throws a brick through his bus window causing a massive crash. This same young boy seems to plague all characters at one point or another. Mick and Lehiff start to pull together to work on a job to earn some money but there's lastly the hard-ass Garda detective played by Colm Meaney. A loner who works amongst Dublin's underclass and is nemesis of Lehiff. He's being followed by a documentary maker who wants to capture the dark side of Dublin and Meany tries to show it to him, sometimes by provoking crime just for the craic.

                  These stories beautifully all start to weave together as the film moves along. Whilst some characters may never meet some of the others they've all had a part to play in the fate of each other whether they know it or not, as has the young brat who flies about on his bicycle throwing bricks and eggs creating a butterfly effect. It's easy to compare this film to Guy Ritchie's films _Lock, Stock..._ and _Snatch_ when you consider the way apparently unrelated stories are made to wrap up as one at the end and of course there is the botched-heist element but that to rely solely on such comparisons would really sell _Intermission_ short for its emotional depth, characterisation and masterful story-telling. It's important for a start that you remove the botched heist from your mind. This is mainly only nearer the end of the film and is not at all the main focus of the film. If I had to compare it to anything I would say _In Bruges_ has a similar dark comedy tone and also manages to uphold a strong story with real characters.

                  The characterisations in this film are brilliant and its almost a shame that people are over-emphasising it's ensemble cast for in fact the biggest stars in this film probably fare the worst. By which I mean Colin Farrell and Colm Meany who although delivering spot on performances here in their respective roles as thug and police man, it's nothing new from either of them. We've seen them play these roles before. Meany's detective is genius though as he's attention seeking and seems to be a little mad whilst Farrell's is probably the least developed character in the film. Cillian Murphy is excellent as John and really is an enigma of a character and you're never quite sure how to feel about him. He seems quite natural in his role as a heart-broken dick. Murphy really is quite a good actor when he stays away from the more meaningless big Hollywood films he seems to be flopping in of late. Brian O'Byrne who plays Mick is surprisingly good. He's given lukewarm performances as I.R.A. characters in the T.V. shows _Oz_ and _Brotherhood_ before but he's literally more at home here and I wouldn't be put off if anyone recognises him from these other shows. People may remember Shirley Henderson as Moaning Myrtle from _Harry Potter_ and I think everyone will be surprised to know that she actually seems to talk like that but to give credit to the girl she keeps up a sound Dublin accent being one of the few non-Irish cast members along with Kelly MacDonald who plays Deirdre and who similarly fits right in.

                  The film is extremely funny. As I say the opening scene with Farrell and the waitress sets the tone and keeps that dark humour through out. But it's all very natural and fits in normally. If you liked _In Bruges_ you'll certainly like this. All the characters are quite candid with one another and they swear a lot though not more than the normal person. I have to say, I'm sick of people not swearing in films that are giving a rating over 12. For instance, how many horror films do you see with people running terrified and being beaten etc. but at no point do they give off the inevitable string of expletives? The director, John Crawley, does try to maintain a natural feel throughout and it's filmed as if like a documentary by slightly shaky camera and is given to impromptu zooming. Whilst Meany's character is actually being followed by a camera in the film there's no significant change in the filming style so it's apparent that this style is intended to be documentary-esque. Indeed the director following Meany seems to represent John Crowley himself and as he lays down his intentions to the producer in the film we are given access to the actual director's intentions here which is yet again another example of the extremely clever screen-writing. Also, at no point do these numerous parallel plots become confusing it's appropriately paced and well meshed.

                  The film was written by Mark O'Rawe and directed by John Crowley who've also worked together on _Boy A_ which, of course, I now have to see. Neil Jordan the godfather of Irish films is also credited as producer. O'Rawe was a playwright before becoming a screenwriter and I think this shows in the genius of the film's story. I've probably complemented it enough by this point by I think it really is a film that would make a good novel and I don't think you can complement a film's story anymore than that. Beyond the characterisation and the humour and the ultimate weaving together of the whole thing; it has these little touches that show an attention to detail that really tends to enhance the film. For instance, later in the film Oscar goes into the café and flirts with the same waitress Lehiff punched (she now has a bandaged nose) but she instantly recoils in fear after her earlier experience. Lehiff also has this penchant for kitchen supplies that is completely random but keeps coming up. The only fault I can see is that it now and again slips into a _Father Ted_ level of ridiculousness that undermines the reality they seem to be going for. Exemplary of this is one scene where a man who looks like a caricature is trying get rabbits to race and seems to have names for them all and talks to them like people.

                  I highly recommend this film and I apologise for the lengthy review. It's funny, entertaining and with an original and masterfully crafted story.

                  == Of Import ==

                  Bit of brown sauce in your tea is apparently quite nice

                  Older women are a lot easier and kinkier than younger ones.

                  Shirley Henderson looks like a young Susan Boyle

                  This film has a perfectly accurate amount of swearing.

                  == Who I'd Punch ==

                  The guy who played Oscar. His eyes really goggly so I reckon they'd probably fall out after a good punch to the forehead.

                  == Best line taken out of context ==

                  "There's no taking dumps in this, is there?"

                  == Financialistics ==

                  £3 in HMV and well worth the money.

                  _Written by Phelim McC. Don't steal it, it's got herpies (not from me)_

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                  • How Awful About Allan (DVD) / DVD / 59 Readings / 54 Ratings
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                    09.04.2010 16:14
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                    dull dull dull

                    So what's the deal with Allan then, eh? Well, other than being performed in a wooden, pissy, spoilt manner by Anthony Perkins - the man who seemed to fail at everything other than playing the same Psyhco character, Norman Baites, over and over until he made that eventually fail - Allan has hysterical blindness. The film starts with a fire in Allan's house in Allan's father's room. His father is burnt to death as Allan watches, held back by the flames which don't deter his sister who runs into the room to only have her face horribly burnt.

                    Allan can no longer see clearly, the film occasionally slips into first person perspective and his eyesight is like looking through frosted glass (which is probably how they've achieved this). Why he's gone blind is not really convincing. He blames himself for his father's death and sister's disfigurement apparently. Why he does so, isn't clear. He didn't start the fire and he tried to stop his sister. It's a bit far-fetched to be honest. So after 8 weeks of some sort of therapy he returns home to the house.

                    His now scarred sister (who sometimes looks like an older Jennifer Aniston) mollycoddles him as he acts incredibly weird and wooden and like he has some massive attitude problem. She has put their father's old room up to rent and Allan who wants to be treated like a big baby is very shaken by the idea. The lodger's name is Harold Dennis (a name they say fully over and over again for some reason) and one day he walks down the wrong staircase and makes Allan jump. This starts to ball rolling on Allan's irrational paranoia. For some reason he believes Harold Dennis is out to get him and at night he hears a voice whispering his name and trying to lure him to the top of the attic stairs. The smiley horny bitch, Olive, from next door tries to help him reintegrate from being a prat into normal society whilst clearly wanting a piece of Perkins and Harald Dennis is rarely seen whilst Allan's paranoia rages. And so is this film.

                    This film has a major handicap from the start with Anthony Perkins as its star. He acts like a spoilt child throughout the film. His performance varies between stiff and lifeless irritating man to deer-in-the-headlights whenever any sort of emotion was required. His character was horrible as a result and you have no sympathy for his self-induced, for no good reason blindness or his hang-ups about trying to be part of the real world again especially as he seems to go on and on and on about being blind. His paranoia seems completely unfounded and seeing as this is the basis for the film undermines any potential merit it may have.

                    His sister (Julie Harris) is pretty nondescript, the scar makeup looks a little dodgy but that's all and if Julie Harris was ever really worthy of that Academy Award nomination there's nothing really indicating it here. Olive played by Joan Hackett too is nothing special but perhaps provides the little entertainment in the film by wearing a stupid headscarf thing.

                    Curtis Harrington was the director and is of some fame for his films Who Slew Auntie Roo? and What's the Matter With Helen? but I can't say I have any big love for the man after this terrible production and the quantity of made-for-TV films he has made probably say a lot more about the man. Surely he could have kept the film a little more alive. Allan being scared by someone whispering "Allan" is pretty much the whole plot and takes up 80% of the screen time. The first person perspective was really all the film had going for it. Allan's blurred vision that comprehends only shadows adds a sinister element but in the end thank God this film is only 1 hr 13 minutes long because it's in no way scary or entertaining the only thing keeping you watching is how are they going to provide closure to this nonsense. There's mystery but you on the end of your seat only slightly bored at the same time with a sense of confusion in a bad way. Also pitched as a horror film on the DVD case I have at no point was this film in any way scarry despite the few scenes were you saw some shadows through Allan's eyes and that just looked like you were looking at someone through the shower glass.

                    Oh and the end! How far-fetched and such a load of BS. I just didn't really think the motivations of the protagonists made all that much sense or that Allan's initial paranoia was in anyway ever justified enough or his theories sense-ical.

                    My DVD had four other films on it and maybe it was just a cheap copy or the production as a whole was really poor the colour and general film quality was terrible.

                    ***Of Import***

                    As soon as Allan discovers evidence of the whisperer (i.e. a tape recording) he smashes it. Why?

                    You have to love the old woman in this film who screams "HER FACE IS BURNED" as if it disgusts her and she'd be safer put down.

                    ***Trailer***

                    You can actually watch this film online free and legally here:
                    http://www.archive.org/details/HowAwfulAboutAllan

                    But take my word for it, it's a waste of time. (And I should know all about wasting time as that's all I do)

                    ***Who I'd Punch***

                    Perkins in the Perkins

                    ***Lastly***

                    This film is an abomination. Anthony Perkins is a waste of space and although it cost me next to nothing and can be watched for nothing I feel like I've wasted money on it.

                    Written by Phelim McC using a ghost-writer.

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                    • More +
                      03.04.2010 14:36
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                      Hammer Horror Dracula Film

                      After a brilliant opening with red, gothic-font credits over Count Dracula's castle we are given a quick re-cap of what happened in the last Dracula film with Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) destroying Dracula by forcing him to enter daylight where he crumbles into dust.

                      It is ten years later, in Transylvania and the body of a young girl is being carried out into the forest by a sombre group who all look like English puritans and all with English accents. They're going to stake her through the heart as they believe she has been bitten a vampire. A distraught mother doesn't want them to do it and before they can Father Sandor the super cranky priest arrives on the scene and berates them for their superstition and takes the girl away to be buried decently.

                      Four English travellers are in local pub, they are two brothers and their wives. Chris is enjoying a yard of ale with the locals whilst Helen, his sister-in-law, whinges about his generosity. Father Sandor then arrives in the pub shouting at people and tearing down their garlic for being superstitious and then casually warms his ass at the fire. He learns of the travellers plan to go to a certain mountain for a climb. Sandor warns them against it, the castle is dangerous he says and advices them go to visit his monastery instead (who's being superstitious now?).

                      They see no castle on the map and think the priest a little eccentric so they go ahead with their plans. However, their coach driver won't take them near the castle, yet refuses to admit it exists and abandons them in the middle of no-where and just as they're about to stay in little wooden shack an unmanned coach mysteriously appears. They decide to use it but the horses won't go where they're told and take the travellers straight to Castle Dracula.

                      It is inhabited by a man-servant called Klove who is carrying out his masters last wishes in keeping the castle always ready for guests. After a boring bit of Helen whinging a lot more and Alan and his wife talking about nothing of real consequence Klove in a ritual sacrifice brings Dracula back to life with the blood of Alan. And the proverbial hits the fan and about time, it took forever for Dracula to arrive in this film.

                      ***What I Thought***

                      I at first intended on reviewing all the Dracula films in this Christopher Lee series, however, I couldn't find the first one but this film can stand on it's own. All you really need to know is that Dracula is a vampire and Van Helsing vanquished him into a pile of dust. The previous Dracula film being loosely similar to the book. The little re-cap tells you enough.
                      The film had a nice idea for a story, Dracula's resurrection was gory, with quite good special effects and an original idea that really worked, the weird blood-bath woman in Hostel 2 clearly took her inspiration from here . Christopher Lee was back as Dracula and he is very much the archetypical Dracula.

                      However, Dracula in this film does occasionally go from looking quite sinister (note the scene where he's standing at the top of the stairs in the house with all the red light - my laptop won't play the disc for some reason so no pics) to just a bit stupid with that constant stupid teeth bearing expression. Dracula is silent the entire film and this is rumoured to be because Lee refused to read the terrible dialogue given him. I think it does lose a certain something with a silent Dracula. He's not the same suave character and though that rumour is subject to some debate, I think it may well be true because if you had Christopher Lee in your film would you fail to take advantage of that fantastic voice?

                      What makes the rumour all the more believable is the fact that the dialogue in this film is terrible and so, so boring at times. Helen was the epitome of this, the woman just never shut up about nothing. I could not care less about one thing she said and there were so many times where she would just go on and on talking about being afraid. Played by Barbara Shelley, who acted a few other Hammer Horror films it's such a relief when she becomes a vampire and the actress starts to become a bit more bearable, mainly because she keeps her mouth shut.

                      Alan is obviously going to go first and anyone could tell this by the precious little screen time he gets and Chris's wife Diana (Suzan Farmer) too, is pretty characterless. Chris on the other hand is the hero of sorts along with Father Sandor, our Van Helsing for this film as Peter Cushing didn't return to play the man himself. I didn't understand Sandor at all, the man spends the vast majority of the beginning of the film refuting the existence of vampires and making fun of, and criticising all those who believe in them but then it turns out he's the authority on the matter. What's that about?

                      This film did make up for a lot of these flaws simply by the look of it. The costumes and the scenery and the castle are all picture-perfect and probably where most the money went. I loved the look of Castle Dracula (although it's clearly a different castle from the last film) and the scene where Dracula with his cape fluttering behind him marches through the court yard was almost arousing. It had a decent enough story to lead on from Dracula. Terence Fisher, a director with pretty much nothing but horror films under his belt did make a decent, watchable film out of the script. It was possibly more adventurous than horrific and we can thank the BBFC for this who had the film cut to their dull specifications. The horror would seem relatively mild by today's standards. The censors were so strict in those days that even the line "Pleasure in this life is important, there is little enough of it in the hereafter" had to be changed. The film I think, also lacks atmosphere that, there were too many daytime scenes and even the castle seemed too bright but as the film went on it got darker. Only problem is it took too long for this too happen and too long for Dracula to come about. Similarly the music was more something that would go with a perilous climb up a cliff than a gothic horror.

                      ***DVD***

                      The DVD had an hour long documentary called The Changing Faces of Christopher Lee which involves Christopher Lee sitting in his living room talking about himself and his films. He seems to have a prop from each one he talks about and has a story to tell about each. He confirms that in Prince of Darkness he refused to talk because the lines were terrible and also shows us some behind the scenes footage taken during the making of that film. He also gives us a demonstration of sword fighting when talking about the musketeer films and how to draw a gun when talking about his westerns. He even still has a piece of the actual wickerman from The Wickerman . It's a very good documentary with lots of information about Lee and lots of entertaining stories. It is pretty much the highlights from his book Lord of Misrule but with footage from the films.

                      My DVD came with the Hammer Horror box-set of 21 Hammer Horror films, which I got for £25 new

                      ***Overall***

                      To it's detriment the film had boring dialogue, not enough Dracula and censored horror as well as a relative lack of atmosphere. In it's favour the film had Lee as Dracula, a respectable follow-on story and great scenery as well as complying with all the usual vampire requirements with the garlic, the running water, the inviting etc and it even had a character, Ludwig, who was pretty much Renfield (except camper). Add to this the unique character that Hammer productions, Terence Fisher and Christopher Lee manage to bring to the film it manages to be quite good. It has it's flaws and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but Christopher Lee and Hammer horror fans but I enjoyed it. It's not the best in the series and the previous two films are superior but it's not a massive let down either and done quite well at the box office in 1966. It's more and adventure film than a horror film and I think that's worth bearing in mind.

                      ***Of Importance***

                      Helen was a boring, whiney b***h.

                      Ludwig is Renfield's gayer counterpart.

                      Sandor emphatically doesn't believe in vampires one scene and then he does the next.

                      Do you pronounce the 'T' in claret? Sandor does, every time, with emphasis.

                      The Romanians around Castle Dracula all speak excellent English with accents like natives.

                      Sandor likes to complain about filthy weather on sunny days.

                      If you don't talk a lot you're going to die first.

                      Christopher Lee kicks ass.

                      ***Who I'd Punch***

                      I'd punch Helen and after I punched her unconscious, I'd admit to everyone else that she was probably right but she didn't have to go on and on and on and on about it. Then kick while she was down.

                      ***Trailer***

                      http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi2963472665/

                      Pretty good trailer too.

                      Also if you want to see Christopher Lee, kick the sh*t out of a door check 1.51 here.

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BecT8EwZ9ag


                      Written by Phelim McC. Don't steal it, it's got cooties (whatever the hell they are)

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                      • More +
                        31.03.2010 20:02
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                        Climb Ulster's Highest Mountain

                        It is the crack of dawn on Palm Sunday. An aunt of mine had gone to mass the night before and informed us that the priest had given a mass that lasted over an hour the night before and he'd be likely to repeat the same fiasco in the morning so we decided to make (better) use of our Sunday and climb Sliabh Donard.

                        Sliabh Donard stands at 852 metres and is the highest mountiain in Ulster and the fourth highest mountain in Ireland. In comparison to other places our mountains aren't really all that big, Mount Everest stands at 8,848 metres so a good 8,000 metres higher than all we have to show here. It's a big mountain though, at home with my ma and da for Easter you can see it from our house 25 miles away outside Banbridge.

                        And whilst the Nepalese can boast that they have this big mountain in their land I very much doubt they can boast to have such a fantastic place as Newcastle town at its foot (nor can anyone in Ireland boast that Newcastle is fantastic with a straight face). Newcastle is about a 15 minute windy ould drive from Banbridge and about 20 minutes away from Belfast. It's a seaside town that's likely to be bunged with people at even the slightest hint of sun. It's got a fantastic big hotel where Charlie Chaplin once stayed amongst others (also called Slieve Donard); lots of crappy little arcades for you to waste your money in; and a great place called the Shimna for you to great a fry in if you're just after a horrible camping trip. It's also got an apparently very good golf course that Tiger Woods patronises (so I expect there may be a few of Tiger Woods' bastard children in the area as well). Camping, Climbing and Swimming is really all the place is good for despite it's more grotesque attractions. Tullymore forest is a fantastic camping spot, Bloody Bridge is a great place for a summer swim and then there's loads of wee mountains. The less wee of which is Sliabh Donard.

                        Donard park is at the far end of the main street in Newcastle and very easy to find and accessible. There are an abundance of parking places. So it's now 8.30 a.m. (7.30 a.m. really if the clocks hadn't have gone back) for the 20 minutes we've listened to two women with horrible Dublin accents talking about Coronation Street on the radio. I was too tired to turn it over or to bother asking my da to do so and my brother had sanctuary in his ipod speakers whilst I think it's quite possible my da was enjoying it. Anyway, we three had escaped that torture to embark on another and it was freezing!

                        Well, dairy milk bar each and we're ready to go. The first part of the climb is through the forest. It's quite steep but it's a nice walk. You're walking along side the cascading stream along the way and there are plenty of little waterfalls and rapids and little pools. I'd avoided the urge to jump in, a tradition of mine is that I can't leave Newcastle without having jumped into the water somewhere but it was too cold at the minute and being wet all the way up didn't appeal to me. Walk, walk, walk. My brother (13) has already started to ask for a break (we'd only been going for about 15 minutes) but we're starting to wake up and it's not all that hard. From quiet zombie-like climbers I become a lot more lively after walking past out first sight of other climbers. An Australian couple greet us as they pass and for the next two hours I talk nonsense in an Australian accent. I pretend to be an Australian tourist interested Irish sheep and generally piss the other two off for a while.

                        Out of the trees there's then a mountain path you follow. The river is now on our left as is a big mountain. The path seems to go around this mountain and to us, that doesn't seem right. Why don't we just go straight on up it? So seeing a fancy old 'ice-house' on the other side of the river we decide to cross over it and check the ice-house out and just head straight on up the mountain and abandon this cowardly path as we're real men. The path we reckon must go around the mountain we're it's easier to climb up from behind (how wrong we were)

                        So the ice-house is not interesting but from here we see a sort of chasm between the two mountains which has a waterfall in it. We decide to head towards it and then straight to the top. Two men can be seen on the path done below, we sneer at the bunch of wimps. But after having a little look at the waterfall our manliness was put into effect. From here the climb was steep and I mean steep. Being in no way equipped to do anything as we were all just wearing normal clothes and trainers it wasn't easy. It was not far off vertical at parts and very, very wet ground. We would hold on to the little bushes to get a grip and more than once our hands went into the neverending amount of sheep shite on this mountain. My da's builder's arse in front of me was in no way an incentive to keep going but keep going we did and after a bit of that torture you get to a bit of ground that's relatively level but very marshy. Trying to keep to the bushes and not in to sinking bog or sheep shite is nigh on impossible but that's not the worse thing. The worse thing is that as we come to the top of this mountain we realise where the earlier path was actually going and why no-one went this way. THIS WASN'T SLIABH DONARD!! This was just the mountain in front of it and the big bitch of a thing was still in front of us and looked like the same distance of a climb all over again.

                        We mosied on.

                        This part of the climb is much marshier than before and we finally get a glance at those incontinent sheep and my Australian impersonation returns and keeps me up beat even if it drives them crazy. After finding a sheep's jawbone I start to pretend to be an Australian detective throwing accusations at the other two.

                        The final climb of Sliabh Donard if you come at it from this unlikely angle is awkward. The wind was incredibly strong and pushed even my 17 stone self about but steep as this last climb is it's more fun and less marsy thanks to all the boulders and rocks. But be careful because some of them are loose and if you're behind me I am going to push some down to try and start and avalanche.

                        The top gives an incredible view of the surrounding land. Newcastle is tiny and you can see both Dundrum castle and Castlewellan castle from up here. On a clear day you can see Belfast and Dublin wikipedia says but I didn't. Apparently there's a tradition were you bring a rock from the bottom of the mountain to the top and there's a massive pile of rocks at the top here that we had nothing to add to. Someone's left a hat under a rock at the very top of the pile as well for anyone who needs it. From this pile of rocks we can see another just ahead and the Mourne wall. Seeing as we've made it this far we sprint to the final bit along the level top of the mountain being pushed more and more towards the sea by the wind but make it and there are those two men we saw earlier on when we were at the ice-house. The bastards! How'd they get up here so quick? "We took yon path there" says the old white haired eejit. The path goes all the way up! I climbed up the wall that goes all along the mourne mountains and looked to see it and surely there was a bloody path that looked smooth and took you easily all the way here. Yes, we were right that the path was going around the moutain back there but that's because that mountain wasn't sliabh donard! I condescendingly pointed out that they'd taken the 'easy way up' which they didn't like and thankfully cleared off (leaving their rubbish sitting at the top it should be noted).

                        We sat and ate our sandwiches with sheep crap covered hands and took in the view of the Irish sea and the surrounding country side behind the shelter of the Mourne wall. The stone Mourne wall goes along the top of all the mountains in the Mourne mountain range and seems to have absolutely no point. But it's stood over 100 years now and keeps the wind of people relaxing at the top. There's also a litte building at the corner of the wall here that's equally purposeless (except for throwing rubbish in some people seem to think). You do feel like you've accomplished something here at the top and it did make us feel better that we'd done it the hard way. The path was too pedestrian for a couple of hard asses like ourselves. "Shall we take the path down?" asks my da. "Damn Straight".

                        So we get to our feet to make the descent but I freeze and grab my brother back. "Shhhhhh". They look at me puzzled and I feel puzzled. "Serioulsy stop. I'm not joking and I don't have my glasses but I swear there's a wolf over there." I had a glimpse of it just down below. It was too close and too big to be confused with a sheep but I couldn't see it now for all the rocks. My da thought I was a lunatic and laughed at me and walked on, my brother told me I was just probably seeing some snow as there was a fair bit still lingering at the top of the mountain. Snow doesn't move, I thought, or for that matter snow doesn't look like a wolf. But maybe I was wrong...But NO a big bloody wolf then jumped over the dip! Thankfully, it was followed by short talkative man who owned it. Half-husky and half-grey wolf I wasn't wrong about it; well I was expecting to have it eat my brother as I ran away but instead it was friendly and playful. Beautiful dog as it was I wouldn't pay the 5,000 Canadian dollars that guy apparently paid for it.

                        The way down is soooo easy. We start to see lots of people now as we're on the civilised route and it's a more civilised time but this path is nothing compared to the way we took. My dad has a couple of friends in the Irish army based in Dundalk who apparenly run up Sliabh Donard and I was highly doubting this story on my way and wondering if it were true whether the Irish Government should start putting these super-fit soldiers to work and conquering the Isle of Man with them but when I was on this path it seems a lot more believeable that Sliabh Donard can be ran up. We passed many people on this path on the way up. Many of whom had some serious hiker's gear on them. They had their fancing climbing sticks and boots and clothes and rucksacks and we just laughed at them inside as we passed. But don't get too cocky as you descend the mountain because it was only here that we all had a fall. My da slipped in a puddle and pulled my brother down with him as he fell and whilst walking backwards and talking nonsense with an Australian accent I fell backwards down the steep riverbank.

                        That was it done though. It was 10.45 when we reached the top and it took us an hour and 10 minutes to get down. Not to skimp on tradition I jumped in to the freezing river at the bottom and we had conquered Sliabh Donard and got home just in time for Sunday dinner.

                        It was fun to climb and tough considering the route we went and you get fantastic views and plenty of exercise and a feeling of accomplishment so it's well worth a visit.

                        ***Price***

                        It's free. Parking at the bottom or almost anywhere in Newcastle is free.

                        ***Transport***

                        Buses between Belfast and Newcastle are usually of the older type for some reason and take a long way round so it's quite a long journey though I remember them being fairly priced. There aren't a great many buses though. In the summer expect lots of traffic going into Newcastle. There are no trains.

                        ***Family Friendly***

                        You could take children up this mountain if you went by the path. Not so sure they'd be interested though.

                        ***Who I'd Punch***

                        The cocky get at the top of the mountain who thought he was great for getting to the top before this even though he took the disabled access route. He also littered at the top.

                        ***Careful Now***

                        At the top there are plaques in memory of a man who died at the top of the mountain after being struck by lightning in 2006.

                        You can see a video I took at the top here:
                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fe-92zTLiCk

                        Written by Phelim McC. Don't steal what's already been stolen

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                        • The Dummy (DVD) / DVD / 27 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                          30.03.2010 13:56
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                          Horrific film

                          The Dummy is written, directed and produced by Keith Singleton. It also stars Keith Singleton and so given all that we can quite fairly put all the blame for this travesty on Keith Singleton.

                          The film opens with some first person persepective. The dummy walks around a house and for no apparent reason kills some bad actors who have bright red blood squirting out of them. A very cheap trick, the old first pereson perspective thing and cheap epitomises this film. Leaving behind this little masacre that we know nothing about, Keith Singleton goes back to what is apparently his wife/girlfriend. She doesn't know where he's been nor does she ask and he doesn't really explain. They just flit about the house a bit aimlessly.

                          But his girlfriend isn't the only woman in his life, when Keith puts on a absolutely awful ventriliquist comedy show with his dummy not one, not two but three women all yearn for him. One likes him for no real reason and this character then disappears from the story; another likes him and is rejected, she then (in revenge?) appears to come on to the dummy which leads to bad consequences for her; and the third is a psychologist who has an interest in the whole dummy thing. Keith surely knows how to flatter his own ego by writing in all this love interest. He spends most of the film wearing this ridiculous open buttoned shirt that makes him look like a porn star and pulling a gormless face.

                          Anyway as the story goes on Keith flits about with these women. He's either going a bit mad or the dummy is real and torturing him. It's slow paced, it's uninteresting, there's absolutely no real horror and it's just baaaaaaaaaad.

                          The dummy scenes are pathetic. There are no real special effects in this film. Instead we just have the dummy standing perfectly still and the camera zooming in and zooming out in a wonky, speedy fashion.
                          The acting was atrocious. Keith must be a porn star in real life. I said at the beginning there would be a graphic sex scene in this film, after I saw that he wrote and directed it and looking at how he dressed and the whole thing with all the women falling over themselves for him and I was right. His girlfriend doesn't really seem to have much of a point and there's a 5 minute long scene were she wonders about a house after she hears a noise and there's later also a 4 minute long scene were the psychologist does the same thing. This isn't tense because firstly, I don't give a crap and secondly, because none of these characters have been developed and it's all just going too slow.

                          The psychologist especially gets on my tits, she types at her keyboard making the most over exaggerated facial expressions possible. Maybe it's some sort of Sex and the City thing but God was it annoying. She also dresses like it's the 80s, as do most of the cast and this one dude's moustache doesn't help. The general production value of the film also screams 80s but I was shocked when I saw on IMDb that this was made in 2000. Honestly.

                          The story is under developed. So there's a dummy killing/Keith going mad plot but why? The ambiguity as to whether it was really Keith or really the dummy was an interesting angle and should have been left open but clumsily they give you an unnecessary conclusion to that. The whole killer dummy thing has been done so many times before and in every case better than this whether it be an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Goosebumps.

                          The directing is just awkward and amateur, he must have been using ancient cameras and the 'special effects' with the dummy were laughable. The horror sequences were lame. I don't like puppets and stuff like that. I'm not scared of them, they just make me feel uncomfortable so I'm approaching this film from a disadvantage but it all looks so fake. It looks like something a bunch of children could improve on.

                          I hated this film.

                          ***Of Import***

                          Ventriloquist shows are never funny.

                          Keith Singleton loves himself

                          Women apparently find ventriloquists very attractive. Some are even attracted to the dummy as well though.

                          ***Who I'd Punch***

                          Keith Singleton, with gusto.

                          ***DVD Extras***

                          Just some trailers of equaly crap looking films.

                          ***Lastly***

                          Overall, this film is just a waste. It's a waste of my time, your time. It's a waste of money buying it and it was a waste of money making it. They drove cars in the making of this film, our environment was destroyed that little bit more just so this piece of crap film could be made. It honestly has nothing of redeeming value whatsoever in it.

                          It only cost £1. They're selling 2 Double-Decker bars for a pound in the
                          Co-op. Think about it.

                          Written by Phelim McC. Don't steal it and I'll give you some magic beans

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                          • More +
                            09.03.2010 15:19
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                            Documentary on Palestine-Israel conflict

                            Avenge But One Of My Two Eyes is an attempt by Israeli journalist Avi Mograbi to highlight the Palestinian plight and more significantly to underline a martyrdom tradition that exists in Hebrew history that is strikingly similar to the situation Palestinians find themselves in.

                            It's a curiously arranged film and at first appears amateurish. An unsteady camera documents an Israeli tour guide talking to some American(?) Jews at the site of Masada. This is the site were in 72 A.D. 960 Jewish men, women and children made a last stand on the top of a mountain were they were surrounded by Roman soldiers. Rather than be subjected to slavery and sexual abuse at Roman hands they committed mass suicide. The tour guide implores the tourists to close their eyes and be quiet and imagine the sacrifice that their ancestors made.

                            Then Mograbi takes us to one of several fences dividing territory in the West Bank. Some Palestinian men wait on the other side looking to get across so they can tend their crops; a woman wishes to see her daughter on the other side and another needs to tend her vegetables. The soldiers are meant to be there at noon one of the men says but whether or not they open the gate will depend on what mood they're in. Today they don't even come. The people wait for hours to get to where they need to go for nothing. 'This is not a life' one man laments, the old woman waiting to see her daughter cries 'It is better to be dead.'

                            Intercutting the film are scenes were Mograbi is on the phone with a Palestinain Christian friend, Shredi Jabarin, who I think also lives in the West Bank. They (the Palestinains) do not live he laments. They solely exist, they do not have a life. He really just discusses his feelings and frustration on the phone and it's heartbreaking to listen to. Should he go out and throw a stone at a tank and get killed? What else is there for him to do, he says. The Israelis have them cornered and shattered their morale. He pleads that the Israelis need to change. The Palestinians are powerless and the utter lack of hope and any sense of self-determination in what Jabarin feels is so cutting. Oddily, I discovered that though a actual Palestinian Shredi Jabrain is a professional actor which makes me question the authenticity of his contribution somewhat, however, it makes it more likely that he is actually a friend of Mograbi and he does seem sincere.

                            Following from showing further scenes of the tour guides praising the zeal of the zealots at Masada we also have Jews in Israel talking about Samson. A hero from the Bible/Torah who tore down a temple and killed himself and killed many Philistines with him. Here we have clear parallels with suicide bombers from Palestine. The Israelis shown love Samson. A bunch of young men who all act really immaturely for some reason (I think they might have been high to be honest) call him the Jewish Superman, the Jewish Popeye. One of them comments on how Samson killed thousands of Philistines in Gaza with a donkey's jaw bone and how they should follow his example...

                            Children in school are taught about Samson and when asked questions about the tenets of the story they answer innocently that it is right to kill for your country and so the Israeli war machine keeps itself in perpetuity.

                            Meanwhile we are constantly shown scenes of Palestinian suffering. A man tries to take his wife to the hospital. The soldiers won't let them pass. Mograbi advises them to call an ambulance and when the ambulance comes the soldiers won't let the ambulance past. Her young daughter just breaks down in tears.

                            The army are bullying and inconsiderate. Several times they order people to do things that it turns out - thanks to the intervention of Mograbi or in one case a well-meaning Israeli lawyer - they have absolutely no right to do. They tell people to get off land but when asked to show the order they refuse to do so. They order Mograbi to stop filming and physically harass and intimidate him for doing so though it is within his right.

                            There's scene after scene of what is real-life, continuing on this very day oppression. Mograbi has created what is honestly a powerful, powerful film. Whilst at first it seems an amateurish production after the horrific reality of it all settles in you wouldn't have it any other way. I don't want crisp actors or fancy filming after this you just want more of Mograbi's reporting . Mograbi and his camera are there and his filming is largely quite good. His editing is poignant, contrasting scenes were Israeli tour guides talk of the possibility of Roman oppression to scenes of Israeli oppression. It's fascinating to see the mindset of so many Jews towards martyrdom but also to the conflict generally. There is a weird punkish group who sing a chorus that goes "Revenge, revenge, revenge on Palestine" at the memorial of Meir Kahane, a right-wing racist Rabbi who formed the Jewish Defense League. One of the tour guides at Masada refers to the people in Gaza as beasts and the soldiers in this film are just absolute scum with no respect for the Palestinian civilians and so on.

                            The emotions this film stirs become so apparent when you feel vindicated and almost relieved when Mograbi can't take it any longer. An impartial observer for the most part, when confronted with aggressive soldiers he has remained calm but when some soldiers refuse to open a gate and let a group of children on their way home from school travel home he can't take it any longer. He explodes with anger and shouts at the soldiers but they're so utterly beyond reasoning with. They ignore the children who all stand silently at the gate waiting. The frustration you feel throughout the film erupts with Mograbi, it's so human and real. It's a credit to Mograbi that he refrained from hitting one of them.

                            However, one thing I do have a problem with is the possible misinterpretation of the film as condoning suicide bombing. This could be inferred with all the references to how this has some parallels in Hebrew history. I do have a lot of sympathy for the Palestinian cause but I think that suicide bombing is too interconnected with Islamic extremism. In my opinion Palestinians need the PLO and not Islamic groups like Hamas. Hamas may wish to end Israeli oppression but will impose their own form through Islamic misogynistic and religious law. Mograbi does, nevertheless, provide a tender insight into what drives people to suicide bombing and how when a people have their back against the wall and are completely trampled all over they have no other option. I once heard an Israeli woman talk about her own son who had been killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber and she said she did not blame the 17 year old who blew himself up she blamed the Israeli government for putting that young boy in such a position were he felt he had to.

                            This is a very, very important film. It shows the day to day life of Palestinians and their suffering. It shows Zionist Israeli racist attitudes in their reality and uncovers their hypocrisy and their evil. I would recommend everyone watch this film. If I had enough money I'd buy everyone I could a copy of it. It is accused of being a one sided film (Take note that this film is itself made by an Israeli) but I have read a lot about the conflict and the Israeli condition is not comparable with the Palestinians. Last year 1,417 people were killed in Gaza by Israel in retaliation for the murders of 9 Israeli soldiers. 313 of those people murdered were children. That is not a true retaliation, that was not sincere or proportionate that was not legal and that should not be ignored.

                            I viewed the film at a showing by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Belfast and I would urge people to join that organisation or a similar one local to them. Palestinian suffering has gone on too long and is one of the major humanitarian crisis of our time.

                            ***Of Import***

                            The crazy racist song bit had horrible lyrics but sort of sounded quite good and you got to love the dude who looked like Fagin singing. See:

                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvpruBhMGpg

                            Samson was a rastafarian

                            The know it all tour guide who refers to Gazans as beasts says proudly that Israel stands whilst you'll only find the Romans in history books. I'd like to point out that there are about 3 million of them in Rome and incidentally there's a scene in The Sopranos were a Jew brings up Masada:

                            Ariel: You ever heard of the Masada? For two years, 900 Jews held their own against 15,000 Roman soldiers. They chose death before enslavement. The Romans? Where are they now?
                            Tony Soprano: You're looking at them, asshole.

                            Whilst saying that it should be strongly emphasised that supporting Palestine, anti-Semitism should be shunned and people who support Palestine whilst being anti-Semitic should not be tolerated in Palestinian Solidarity societies.

                            ***Who I'd Punch***

                            You wouldn't get tired of hitting some of the soldiers in this film
                            Trailer

                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuNYhyXAWlo

                            Not a trailer really. Just a scene, not even a particularly good one but it gives you a taste.

                            Written by Phelim McC.

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                            • Angels and Demons (DVD) / DVD / 24 Readings / 22 Ratings
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                              04.03.2010 02:13
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                              Poor film from a poor book

                              "Great, we can all relax, the symbologist is here." Says the angry dude in charge of the Swiss guard (Stellan Skarsgård) when Tom Hanks with a boring man's hair struts into Vatican city, in his second donning of the role of Robert Langdon.

                              The Pope has died and the Vatican has called a conclave of the cardinals to decide who shall be the new pope. However, the four preferriti, the favourites for the new position have all gone missing and a piece of anti-matter (a highly explosive substance) has disappeared from the international science lab C.E.R.N. . A group styling itself as the Illuminatii have threatened to kill the four cardinals and brand them in retaliation for crimes committed against the group (which consisted of scientists and academics) many hundreds of years ago. Langdon's an expert in the whole Illuminatii business so he's who the Vatican security turn to to get some answers. He uses his encyclopaedic knowledge and general Americanism to try and rescue each of the cardinals and find the antimatter before it explodes and wipes out Vatican City. Aiding him is a hot scientist woman from C.E.R.N. (Ayelet Zurer) and Ewan McGregor as an Irish priest in charge of Vatican City, as Carmelengo, in the Pope's absence.

                              This film is a fast paced thriller emulating perfectly the pace of Brown's five or six page chapters. Very, very clean shiny cars and men in suits give it all the style of almost every other action film going of late and Ron Howard has given this film "edge" BUT I have to say I find this film boring on second viewing.

                              Tom Hanks is an actor that I usually find incredibly likable. I don't like some of his films but he always plays a role that's entertaining and/or endearing in some way. Here he bores the crap out of you. Dan Brown's book was full of semi-interesting facts about the supposed Illuminatii, Vatican art and history but it just doesn't fit neatly within a film. Langdon comes across as a smug, lecturing bore. When we first meet him he quickly assesses, whilst wearing tinted goggles, that a man has just come off a plane from Rome, using Sherlock Holmes style deduction taking in within seconds everything from the bags under his eyes to a little symbol on his briefcase and he's just showing off like a prat. He walks down a corridor in the Vatican and starts preaching about the statues and arrogantly lords his knowledge over the Swiss Guard who he jeers at for not even knowing their own history. The woman isn't much better. Unrealistically hot for a woman that smart (I'm sorry but it's largely - though not entirely - true that the smarter they are the uglier they get) she's also unrealistically smart. In charge of some major scientific discovery, surely she's not old enough. Does experience not count for anything? Not only that but she knows about everything. She seems to know a lot about the architecture and history in Rome filling in for or cutting Robert off, she also knows Latin and far too much stuff. The Swiss Guard captain was maybe a bit too pissed off all the time and really needed to do more than slouch and have a hoarse voice. He's the most obvious red-herring of all time. I also note that he seems to be American (or so Swedish Stellan Skarsgard's accent sounds), aren't the Swiss Guard only Swiss? Ewan McGregor undoubtedly gave the best performance as the Carmelengo. His young Obi-Wan style loyalty and composedness coupled with an excellent Irish accent (though fluctuating) spoken in a calm priesty way made him perfect for the role.

                              It's not a bad story even if it is not altogether original in comparison with the Da Vinci code. It largely follows the exact same format but with a different mystery. Only this mystery is a little less insidious when uncovered. It's almost pro-Catholic, portraying it as a Church struggling to be progressive and in tune with the modern world and science. Perhaps an apologetic for the Da Vinci code. The level of pro-Catholicism in the film can be attested to by the fact that this was actually my more-Catholic-than-the-pope aunt's DVD that I watched.

                              I honestly can't really remember very well the Da Vinci Code film or the books but from what I do remember it is quite faithful to the book. It is entertaining to an extent, especially if you don't already know the story but so much of the plot relies on that final twist that once you know it you don't really care.

                              Ron Howard's directing is rather typical of action films. Portraying a crisp clean world, Rome is postcard beautiful and everyone is neat, trim and over-dressed and must spend almost all of their time getting their cars that shiny. Throw in a few gadgets and fancy looking modern paraphernalia and it's your typical 2000s action style that's been in everything like Casio Royale and Taken etc. It's no real feat by Ron Howard and I think he shouldn't waste time on a Lost Key film if he wants to be a serious director rather than money grabbing trash spinner.
                              The dialogue let this film down a lot. There's a horrible scene when Langdon appeals to the Swiss guard Captain for help in protecting "his church". The captain gets pissed off (more so than he constantly is) and starts going on about how great his church is and how Langdon has no church. There's also this strange sub-plot where Langdon is being revealed to be some massive secret believer and the Carmelengor comments on him wearing a priests clothes,"Would you believe me if I said that suit suits you?". It made me cringe and it felt very set-up as did several pieces of clichéd or corny dialogue.

                              Hans Zimmer's soundtrack was faultless. That fast-paced percussion and choir mix that you hear in the trailers is genius - better than the film.

                              ***Special Features***

                              **Writing Angels and Demons**

                              Not about writing the actual book but about adapting the script. It gave some information about how they decided to make certain changes and apparently a lot of it was Dan Brown's own idea. There are interviews with that teenager from Happy Days, Ron Howard (he looks very sick now), Tom Hanks and Dan Brown and others you don't care about. An interesting 9 minutes of useless information and licking Dan Brown's posterior. Howard says that Angels and Demons is "flat out different" from the Da Vinci code. It really isn't.

                              **Handling Props**

                              10 minutes of crap about the props. No one really cares, I didn't anyway and only half-watch it.

                              **This is an Ambigram**

                              Drawn out, half-interesting video of how the guy made the ambigrams. Robert Langdon is named after John Langdon, the guy who created the ambigrams.

                              ***Of Import***

                              She's just too hot to be a master scientist. I'm sure it happens but the odds are against it. If this were real, Langdon would have had some old German scientist wheezing after him.

                              The cardinal with the sunglasses and the cigarette whilst on his mobile in this film looked kick-ass.

                              The Vatican's library looks like the inside of a space craft in this film. Surely it's not like that really? Was that meant to be Hitler's car in there? There's some sort of old Mercedes.

                              If the Illuminatii are so smart how come they seemed to hold to this idea of there being only 4 elements for so long?

                              They're constantly under pressure for time in this film but if Langdon would only shut his mouth and refrain from lecturing every few minutes I'd imagine they'd get a lot more done.

                              ***Who I'd Punch***

                              Tom Hanks. Obviously for giving all those annoying little lectures in his smug way but also because of that hair. Seriously how can that not make you angry?

                              ***Trailer***

                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcE8QaKiTGk

                              ***Lastly***

                              If you liked the Da Vinci code film then you'll like this I expect. They're not a million miles different. For those who liked the book, I'm sure they may like it as a faithful film adaptation with minor changes but which doesn't translate that well. As for those who were indifferent or hated the book don't bother with this. It brings nothing new and is a pretty poor film on its own feet. I wouldn't recommend anyone buy the DVD as it really doesn't stand up to repeat performances. I watched it the first time and was just a bit non-plussed afterwards, and then I unfortunately watched it again and started to hate it as it went on and on. Fast-paced is, yes but it's too preachy for 2hrs 12 minutes and when you know what's gonna happen there's no suspense and suspense value, Ewan McGregor and Hans Zimmer's music is all this film has to its credit.

                              Written by Phelim McC. Touch it, it's still warm. Don't steal it though.

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