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Nausicaa Valley of the Winds
~~~ Background ~~~
Princess Nausicaa of the valley of winds was produced by the World Wildlife film for nature and is considered the start of the Studio Ghibil portfolio all though it was made prior to their formal creation. The film was released in 1984. The Director was Hayao Miyaaki, who is also one of the co-founders of Studio Ghibil who has directed other well received works such as Castles in the Sky and the 1997 box office hit "Princess Mononoke". The music was managed by Joe Hisaishi. The DVD is currently manufactured by Optimum Home Entertainment.
~~~ Synopsis of Plot Synopsis ~~~
Princess Nausicaa of the kingdom "Valley of the winds" lives in a post-apocalyptic world due to the collapse of civilization from pollution. (How the pollution was caused or brings about said collapse is never stated explicitly in the film). She must battle monsters, poisonous plants and other kingdoms in order to stop the destruction of her people and bring peace and harmony to the world. Will she be able to make her people and the other kingdoms learn to respect one another and nature? Or is mankind destined to destroy itself and nature in spite of one red headed beauties best efforts?
~~~ Plot Synopsis ~~~
The film enters by showing us a man in a gas suit and rubber clothing much like that worn by scientists in nuclear power facilities. He enters a barren town where we see tiny speckles of white dust fall to the ground. The scene seems very reminiscent of what one would expect a hypothetical nuclear winter to look like. He tells us that he is leaving before the "fukai" take control of this town too. At this point in the film the viewer wonders who or what the "fukai" are. The film then displays text on screen which tells us that civilization fell apart 1000 years ago and all that remains now is barren lands of rust and ceramic. A rotten sea known as the fukai threatens the earth (although we later learn the fukai is actually a type of plant).
In the present day princess Nausicaa of the kingdom "valley of the winds" is tasked with looking after her people from the threat of giant octopus-worm like creatures known as "Ohmu" (which look a lot like a Cloyster from Pokémon...), massive insects and poisonous plants. However, as the film develops, she faces a far more malevolent and threatening enemy; other human beings.
First her kingdom is invaded by a rival tribe called the Tolmekians, whom want to control the world with a giant warrior who had previously been used to cause the "seven day fire of the earth" which was possibly the cause of said pollution of the earth that caused the collapse of civilization, although this is not stated explicitly in the film. Then her tribe becomes collateral damage for another rival tribe called the Pejite who want the giant warrior back from the Tolmekians who stole it from them. They know the Tolmekians want to dominate the earth as their tribe and the Tolmekians have been warring for years and the Pejitians see themselves as protecting people from the Tolmekians war like nature.
As the paths of the three kingdoms collide; so too, does natures path, collide with that of mans. The other two kingdoms think that by burning the fukai ) - a pink cactus like plant that produces poisonous spores (it is also a tree, which is a little confusing!) -they can make more of the earth inhabitable again. However, Nausicaa discovers that the fukai evolved in order to absorb the pollutants in the soil and are slowly purifying the land. She knows that the fukai crumble and wither after the end of their life cycle, where they turn into harmless, purified, sand. By burning the fukai they will stop the purification process and end up causing more fukai to grow (we are told this is what burning the fukai in the past led to, by an old women called Osaba) causing more of the planet to become uninhabitable due to the poisonous spores (the spores are poisonous because they contain heavy metals from the soil, in pure soil they are not poisonous).
The film slowly builds up in pace and threat till a monumental final show down occurs, the Pejitians are jealous of the theft of their giant warrior and angry at it being utilized to destroy one of their towns. They are also partially motivated by concern about the threat the Tolmekians pose to humanity; which causes them to unleash a plan to drive the Ohmu to the valley of the winds to kill all the Tolmekians with the people from the valley of the winds being seen as collateral damage. As the film enters its final phase the viewer wonders how, or even if, disaster can be averted; which leads them to place all their hopes in Nausicaa coming up with something beautifully brilliant or courageous. Will she save the day and lead humanity to a new age of peace and understanding or will she come up short against the unabaiting tide of man's insanity and inhumanity to man?
~~~ Characterisation and Character Development ~~~
Princess Nausicaa is a voluptuous, slightly tall, red headed athlete. She is about 15 or 16 years old and has a kind and caring nature. She hates killing (at one point in the film she asks for the killing to stop when Pejite airships are battling Tolmekian airships) and is a literal tree hugger (She literally hugs a tree after discovering how the Fukai are purifying the world of toxins, and in doing so; they, themselves, are dying). She is a highly courageous and brave individual this is exemplified by a point early on in the film where she is bit by a fox-squirrel ( an orange and black creature that looks a bit like a smaller evee from Pokémon) so hard it draws blood yet she doesn't even flinch. This same episode in the film also exemplifies her empathetic and forgiving nature; she doesn't blame the fox squirrel or lash out at it, instead she knows it bites because it feels threatened and is acting in self-defence. She reassures the fox-squirrel and takes it as her pet, calling it "Keto".
As the film progresses we rarely see her anger and her bravery and kindness seems to grow and grow. All of which makes her very endearing to the viewer as she embodies all the best aspects of the human condition; love, empathy, peace, intelligence, and compassion. The forces opposing her seem to represent all that's wrong with the human duality; anger, greed, fear, revenge, stupidity, selfishness and an over eagerness to act before establishing the facts.
There is, however, one point in the film where she acts very humanly - that is to say weakly--. That is when her bed ridden father, Lord Yiru, whom has been poisoned by the fukai's spores, is murdered by Princess Kushana's Tolmekian forces during the initial invasion of the valley of the winds by the Tolmekians who see it as an ideal place to set up their own new civilization after conquering the world. (They see it as ideal both for its tranquil beauty and also for the fact it is relatively sheltered from the fukai's spores). She reacts angrily and slays several of the Tolmekians men and is about to kill several more before Lord Yupa stops her.
In private, Lord Yupa tells her that they have to wait till the time is right before fighting the Tolmekians, because if they attempt to fight at this time, their inferior weapons and man power will result in the destruction of their tribe. She tells Lord Yupa in a late scene that she is afraid of herself, she does not know who she is anymore and what her own anger is capable of driving her to do; she tells him does not want to kill again.
Such real reactions make her character insanely likable and also surreally real - especially considering it occurs in a film set in places that look like 18th century Japan, and which have a bizarre mixture of swords, guns and high tech futuristic weapons; such is the nature of the bizarre juxtaposition of past, present and future technologies that often occurs in anime films of this genre--. Her character is very believable and in a film with giant octopus like monsters, massive flies and weird combinations of technologies this is no bad thing. I especially like how she does not see killing as a good or required thing, and yet she acknowledges there are times when there are no other options available. Such a balanced and reasoned approach is more credible than the innocence of super heroes like superman who in most iterations never kill anyone, which is not really possible in fights with evil and anti-heroes like Batman who think almost nothing of killing the "Bad guys". It is an approach which strikes very much the right balance between reality and idealism and pays suitable heed to the warning "those who fight monsters need to take care not to become what they fight".
Lord Yupa is the man whom effectively rules the valley of the wind whilst Lord Yiru is sick and after his death he does so in conjunction with the consultation and approval of Nausicaa. He is a tall and courageous man with super samurai skills. He very much admires Nausicaa's outlook on life and aspires to match his younger peer in both his dealings and actions with people. Throughout the whole course of the film, no matter how bleak things become, he never stops believing in her.
Asbel, is a young man from Pejite who is about 15 to 17 years old; he is Nausicaa's love interest and is also the twin brother of Princess Lastelle of Pejite who died after her airship crashed as a result of the attack by the Tolmekians who stole the giant warrior which was on board the ship (she is a very minor character in the film who has little to do with the plot other than it being her ship whom the Giant Warrior was stolen from). Asbel, unlike his twin sister, is a character very central to the story whom is only eclipsed in importance by Nausicaa and Princess Kushana; he receives about equal screen time to Lord Yupa. He is a kind, compassionate boy who has similar qualities to Nausicaa but unlike Nausicaa wants to burn the Fukai down, not realising their beneficial effect on pollution and the deleterious consequence of doing; namely that the Fukai will spread thus making more of the planet uninhabitable. His Bravery and empathy, and also the average Pejitians good natured spirit, is revealed when Nausicaa - in a Pejite Prison for opposing a plan to kill her people as collateral damage in order to get the Tolmekians - is smuggled out by Asbel and the average Pejitians, she is replaced by a decoy girl. The average Pejitians know that some of their leader's plans are immoral and vile. Physically Asbel is quite a short character at around 5ft 5 and Nausicaa being around 5ft 7, which is my perception of how tall they are based on their height relative to other characters. He might be short but he has a big heart and to the viewer that is all that really matters.
Princess Kushana, the afore mentioned princess of the Tolmekians, is a fierce warrior filled with both greed and fear; she fears nature and wants to get rid of what she perceives as the threat posed by the Fukai and their "poisonous" spores and she is greed because at least twice in the film she wants to take what is not hers. First she steals the giant warrior from the Pejitians, murdering their princess in order to do so, and then she occupies the Valley of the Wind because of its natural beauty and its relative safety from the Fukai's spores which make it a very attractive region for her and one she feels is her right to use inspite of it not being her tribes land.
Princess Kushana seems to be the polar opposite of Nausicaa, uncaring and selfish instead of empathetic and altruistic. There is also a poignant moment in the film where her attitude is compared by Nausicaa to how a fox squirrel acts, she destroys other people and plants because she is afraid of them, is the point Nausicaa is making. What's also interesting to me is the fact that Kushana is the senior princess yet the middle teenaged Nausicaa is the one who is brave and fearless. This is shown early on with the previously mentioned fox-squirrel incident where it bites her and she does not even flinch; ultimately this is exemplified and expanded on near the end of the film where she risks her life to save animal and human kind alike.
I also want to talk a little bit about the contrasting nature of the various peoples in the film, firstly I will be comparing the Tolmekians to the Valley-of-the-Windians. The Tolmekians respect their leader for her military prowess and part of their respect is more from fear of what would happen to them if they did not show loyalty to her. Their also seems to be much deceit, disloyalty and selfish ambition in regular Tolmekians attitudes which to a large extent mirrors the example they have been set by their leader. This is typified by the actions of one senior ambitious soldier, Karotowa, whom assumes at one stage that their princess is dead and he fancies himself as the leader of the tribe. Needless to say he is rather incompetent as a leader and nearly completely losses to a rebellion by the occupied Valley-of-the-Windians after he foolishly had given them flame throwers to burn back some of the Fukai which was encroaching on their land. This also somewhat shows the lack of faith the people have in their princess.
By contrast the people from the Valley of the Winds, and their leaders, are much more peaceful natured; they are a close knit community and they all have near total faith and trust in the motives, values and aptitude of their leaders. The contrast is typified by one of the people from the valley of the winds telling Princess Kushana that she is nothing like their princess after she looks disgustedly at his blistered covered hands. He tells of how his hands are infected with the same illness that had made Nausicaa's father bed ridden and when Nausicaa seen the hands he said they are the hands of hard workers.
In between the polar opposites of the Tolmekians and the people from the valley of the wind we have the Pejitians. The average Pejitian are mostly compassionate as are some of their leaders. However, other parts of their leadership are motivated by the dual motives of revenge (a negative motivation) and a belief they are saving other tribes from the power mad Tolmekians and the "poisonous" Fukai. The Greek tragedy of some of their motives is that the Fukai are actually helping to detoxify the soil and are not actually poisonous, it's just that their spores are contaminated by heavy metals from the soil.
A final character I would like to briefly mention is Obaba, whom is a wise old witch like women from the valley of the winds. Who throughout the film offers helpful advice and insight and functions almost as a narrator at points in the film. At one point in the film the people from the valley of the winds faith that their princess is going to save them briefly falters and Obaba tells them "As long as Princess Nausicaa has faith we can't give up". Then later on in the film when one of the giant warriors crumbles after trying to kill all the Ohmu stampeding towards them when one of the people from the valley of the winds laments its demise Obaba tells them "If we are to survive by using such a monster then it is better not to survive."
~~~ Theme's ~~~
The central themes of this film include man's inhumanity to man, and their ability to destroy each other and nature through greed, fear and revenge, as well as covering man's capacity for good and the virtue of faith in humanity and in helping your fellow man. Another of the films central themes is the unintended consequences of disrupting the planets homeostasis and interconnected wildlife systems such as by burning the Fukai only produces more and makes the Ohmu mad. Finally it teaches man that we can learn from nature how to forgive and how to love (for this one you will just need to watch the film to see what I mean).
~~~ Music and Visual ~~~
The visuals are surprisingly clear and pretty for such an old film and do not feel that old, they feel somewhat around a good late 90's standard and not the mid 80's era they where produced in. It is also refreshing to see old fashioned animation in the film rather than some of the CGI movies that western studios have made of late (as some can feel very like a video game and not an animation). I find the music good by today's standards and I appreciate that back then it would have been absolutely at the cutting edge of technology.
There is a wide variety of styles of music from resplendent orchestral numbers to fantasy dream like piano music infused with eastern musical influences to the game bleep electro music that sounds very much like it was made by todays "chiptune" artists and not by people in a time when the Sega Mega drive did not even exist! It does sound highly modern like it was made by the people of today inspired by the game music of the past but yet whilst it is based in the past it feels post-modern. My favourite piece of music in the film is played in an early scene in the film where we see a picture of a cloud and Nausicaa on a sort of engine glider in the sky. She is in a rubber suit and has a gun and a gas mask. The track playing in this scene is very ethereal and mellifluous sounding.
~~~ Cost ~~~
I watched it for free on film four and enjoyed my time watching it, initially I found it a bit of a slow burner but by the end of the film I was hooked and could overlook the slightly bizarre juxtaposition of technologies, old and new, which stood out for me more than ever on this film. It is currently retailing at £7.73 pounds on amazon, correct as of June 2013, for this price I'd say if you like anime or films about fantasy pets; you should definitely go for it.
~~~ Voice Cast ~~~
The Voice cast, as is typical in most anime, do an exceptional job of putting real emotion and inflection into their voice and their performances are all top rate and highly emotive. Princess Nausicaa is voiced by Sumi Shimamoto, Asbel is voiced by Yoji Matsuda, Kushana is voiced by Yoshiko Sakakibara. Lord Yupa is voiced by Goro Naya, Obaba is voiced by Hisako Kyoda and Karatowa is voiced by lemasa Kayumi.
~~~ My summarising thoughts and recommendations ~~~
Not one for people who have got no interest in anime, or even for those who have never seen an anime and are curious to try one as there are better films out there but this is in no means a bad film; in fact it's quite a good film. However, if Japanese dodgy school girl jokes are not your scene this might however suit your tastes more as it's a very family friendly film. I'd say it falls somewhere between good and very good and is certainly not a film I'd tell people to avoid if they are looking into watching their first anime, however in the main I'd say this a good film for anime buffs to add to their viewing list if they haven't already, it shows what was achieved technologically at the time with some of the best music and visuals for a film of its vintage. It also has a refreshing human and moral protagonist whom we actually want to be like and who is ultra-brave but touchingly compassionate.
As far as recommending this film on DVD or blue ray it comes down largely to how much you are going to have to pay for it, for less than £8 I'd say any fan of anime should definitely purchase it and watch as they will be getting a good film. For less than a fiver I'd say even those not interested in anime should give it a try unless they really have no desire to ever watch any anime, but for over £10 I'd say largely only fans of director Hayao Miyazaki should consider buying. My Dooyoo star rating for this film is 3.5 Dooyoo stars out of 5, but as I can't give half stars in the rating I give it four stars as it deserves that rating more than a 3 rating.
This review may appear on Ciao under my "newprideexperiadj2" user name. The source for factual information on the films cast and director and such non plot or personal experience based background information was Wikipedia. The facts are reworded in my own words like always as best I can manage.
The Quorn Tikka Masala comes in a sleeve box, in which there is a smaller container that contains the meal which has Clingfilm covering the contents. The sleeve box has a picture of the meal in the centre of the box and on the left hand side of the box is an orange vertical stripe that has white text which contrasts well with the bright orange background.
The white text says "Quorn, Tikka Masala and Rice", below the white text is yellow text which says "Succulent Quorn Chicken Style Pieces in an aromatic Tikka Masala Sauce, Served with Pilau Rice". At the very top of the orange stripe is a small yellow portion with the words "NEW" printed in a darker, almost pinkish, orange.
The sleeve box features the nutritional information at the bottom right of the box and in the far right of the bottom of the box is the use by date.
The backside of the box features a clear and well-presented ingredients list on the right hand side of the box, as well as clearly presented cooking instructions on the left hand side of the box. In fact I am highly impressed with the presentation and legibility of the nutritional, cooking and ingredients information which is a hell of a lot easier to read than other packaging I have come across.
For the microwave the box tells us to remove the sleeve, pierce the film lid in several places and then cook for 2 minutes 30 seconds for an 800W microwave. Then the user should take the product out of the microwave, stir the masala and put back in the microwave for a further 2 and a half minutes before finally allowing the product to stand for a further minute, after which the product can be consumed.
If the user decides to go down the oven road then that is catered for too, the instructions tell the user to pre-heat the oven and backing tray to 190oC. Once again the film lid should be pierced in several places prior to cooking. The Tikka Masala should then be put on a backing tray, popped into the oven on the middle shelf and cooked for 25 minutes. For fan assisted ovens the cooking time should be reduced by 2 minutes.
Taste, appearance, Texture
The curry is a medium orange colour and has a pleasant, slightly sweet smell which however is not particularly easy to describe or discern from the scent of many other cooked meals. When you bite into the first Quorn piece the first thing that hits you is the spices which are strong and slightly sweet tasting. The spices are more Mediterranean in taste than Mexican which is a good thing from my perspective as I far prefer the sweet, clean, sassy tasting Mediterranean spices to the dirty, slightly smoky taste of Mexican spices. The curry is quite sweet and I can taste the ginger in the meal most prominently as well as the Cumin and Onion which are nice notes in the taste.
Overall it's a sweet, gingery tasting meal that is also rather spicy. In fact from a spice perspective I would say it's very hot indeed, which I like, however it would not want to be any hotter than it is as then all the flavours would be lost and it would become discomforting rather than pleasurable and invigorating to eat.
The texture of the rice is pretty typical of any generic rice and it isn't too hard which is also nice. The Quorn pieces have a very soft texture which is very easy to eat and goes well with the sauce; it also makes the Quorn pieces blend well into the overall Quorn Tikka Masala product.
~~~Health, Nutritional Information~~~
Each "New Quorn Tikka Masala and Rice" contains 15.2g of protein per pack, 53.6g of carbs and 14g of fat, of which 7.2g are saturated fats. The protein content of a single meal is very good and helpful for dieters as it will keep them full for longer. The carbohydrate content is reasonable for a 400g meal however the fat content is quite high; especially the saturated fats content which is half of the 14 g of total fat. This is a rather large amount which could really do with being less. Overall it's not a particularly unhealthy meal, nor, however is it a particularly healthy meal.
I paid £2.50 for it at my local Tesco though it is available from Asda online for £2.25 for a 400g product that represents the bulk of your main meal this is good value as you could feed yourself, at dinner time, on little more than £20 pounds a week after accompaniments are taken into consideration.
~~~Would I recommend?~~~
Yes, I absolutely would; indeed these little soft spicy snacks are not only great tasting for those who do not eat meat - which includes pescetarians, vegetarians and vegans - but also for those carnivores who love spicy, sweet gingery food. Not only does this snack taste great but for those of us who don't eat meat its high protein content helps to replace what they are missing from not eating meat.
However its high saturated fat content means it has to be eaten as part of a balanced, varied diet. The high protein content is even useful for meat eaters, who just want to bulk up, yet don't fancy eating a steak every day, which would be more fattening than this product. It's five Dooyoo Stars from me.
This review appears on Ciao under my "newprideexperiadj2" user name.
Marshals Cheesy Macaroni
Marshals comes in an upright cardboard box, which is moderately uncommon among macaronis which tend to come in ready meal boxes that sit down, not so for Marshals or its rival, Kraft's.The box it comes in is a light azure shade of blue with the words "Marshals Cheesy Macaroni, inspired by tradition" blazed on the front, a central red circle with yellow ribbon that says "JUST ADD MILK & BUTTER" in the red portion, the ribbon portion tells the consumer it's made with cheddar cheese. Finally, at the Bottom of the box is a picture of some scrumptious pasta with a fork placed invitingly into some pasta. I personally like the design as it's appealing but understated, it knows that it's just a food product, that it's not a film noir.
The history of marshals is printed on one the side of the box - which the 2 dimensional picture on Ciao can't show us - the other side tells us the ingredients, which are clearly printed and the nutritional information, again the information is clear and easy to read. Finally, we are given the cooking instructions round the back of the box (which we can't see in a 2 dimensional picture). They are well printed and easy to read for most folks all though for some the print may be a bit small.
As mentioned the instructions are laid out clearly though printed in a smallish print which may be hard to read for those with poor eyesight. This meal was a breeze to prepare all I had to do was cook the pasta in boiling water for 10 minutes; then I drained the pasta and returned the pasta to the pan before I added 50g of butter, 90 ml of milk (which I measure in a measuring jug) and the cheese sauce mix. Finally, I returned the heat and stirred thoroughly until the sauce was nice and smooth. It requires no standing time and it total it took me a mere 16 minutes to prepare it on my most recent consumption. I pre-boil some water in a kettle at the start before bringing it to the boil properly in the pan and then following the steps out lined above.
It's not hard at all to do and the sauce is always creamy and the pasta never tastes under-cooked or burnt when following the above steps.
~~~Smell, Appearance, Taste and Texture~~~
Marshal's Cheesy Macaroni has a faint, cheesy smell when cooked and when it is cooked it has a orangey golden yellow colour which is similar but slightly darker in tone than Kraft's Macaroni.Its taste is not as cheesy as Kraft's, but much more creamy and has a very soft and tender texture. The creaminess makes up for its slight lack of cheese relative to Kraft's macaroni (which also comes in a cardboard box).
Like Kraft's it manages to be very, very cheesy, yet not at all sickly and totally scrumptious and moreish. This is my current all-time favourite macaroni with no other product being quite as good as it, Kraft's comes close but a lack of creaminess lets it down and another macaroni I can't name, off the top of my head, is nearly as creamy but is not as cheesy as this delicious, milky , cheesy, creamy pasta. All in all an addictive and intense taste that is very invigorating to the taste bud; just gorgeous.
The texture of the pasta is very soft, with the pasta pieces being a bit shorter than Kraft's Macaroni Cheese but also a bit thicker. I find it even softer than Kraft's which is my second favourite out of many many boxed Macaroni products and most ready meal macaronis too so this is high praise indeed.
Health, Nutritional Information.
Each box contains 190 grams of pasta which around half of what I eat, per 100 g serving (close to what I eat) the product contains 5.2g of protein (a modest, not insignificant amount), 21.9 g of carbs (an acceptable amount for a pasta product) and 6.3g of fat of which 4.2 g are saturated (Both figures are bad as It's a less than 1 to 1 ratio of protein to fat and approximately 66% of the fat is the unhealthy saturated kind). Finally a 100 g serving provides 165 kcal which is a mere 15% or so of the average women's RDA and a mere 12% or so of the average man's RDA (2500 Kcal).
## Allergy Advice ##
This product contains lactose and wheat.
It cost me £1.20 from my local Tesco though on occasion it has been as low as 80p which is good value for a product which can either serve 2 or can last two meals for one person, yes it's a little on the expensive side but with such a great taste and the fact it's not going to be bought every day then it really is worth the investment, it might not be as wholesome as ready meals but it's a good deal cheaper as ready meals are often over £2.00.
~~Would I recommend?~~~
Absolutely, 100% yes if you are looking for a luxurious, cheesy, cream Macaroni that tastes great, then this is one for you, It's the best tasting Macaroni I have come across with only Kraft's and one other brand I can't remember the name of, come close to rivaling it. The only thing I have against this product is its high fat and saturated fat content which do not make it ideal for dieters who are trying to lose a lot of weight, though for those with more modest weight loss goals with good planning there is nothing to stop you including this in your meals as long as you have a balanced diet with appropriate complimentary foods.
Overall it's 5 Dooyoo stars from me; just. The high saturated fat content nearly made me take one off.
Disclaimer: This review appears on Ciao under my username "newprideexperiadj2"
Yeah sorry for the big headed intro but at drinking mug shots I am a heavy weight! Mug Shots are an instant meal/ready meal snack product which are simple to prepare and save a lot of time cooking. They are produced by the company Symington's which is stated on the back of the packet. The flavour I will be reviewing is the Basil and Tomato Mug Shot.
It comes in an appealing red coloured package which is very inviting to the consumer as red and green are some of the most eye catching colours I personally find, along with black. I like the simple front which shows a mug of soup with a fork in it which to me makes anyone passing by immediately think of food and makes them want to buy this brand.
I also like how the fact it is suitable for vegetarians is stated in quite large print in a black circle on the front of the product because if you're like me, a piscetarian this info being so easily available makes me home in on it, relative to brands where the text is smaller, or the message is on the back, as I don't always have time to look round the back to see if a product is suitable for vegetarians.
Finally on the back (should I choose it on any given supermarket trip) of the package is clear instructions on how to prepare it, the list of ingredients and the nutritional information are printed in a font and size which is easy to read. Again this is something not all products manage, so the product design impresses me as much as is possible for packaging to be impressive.
~~~Appearance, Smell, Taste, Texture~~~
It is a sort of light brick red colour, fairly similar to Cup a Soup's. It smells just faintly of tomato it's definitely not pongy or off putting, in fact I find the scent quite inviting and it makes me even hungrier when I am smelling it whist waiting for it to stand, to cool down to a drinkable/eatable temperature. From a taste perspective it is just exquisite.
The first thing your taste buds recognise when eating this is the thick creamy, tomato sauce which is also ever so slightly sweet. Sweet, that is, in a good way. Next comes the strong, powerful taste of basil, as basil is one of my favourite herbs for me this is just delightful, finally as the taste of tomato and basil meld together you can taste some gorgeous paprika extract which is used in the colouring of this product.
All the flavours come together wonderfully to create a rich, vibrant taste that just scintillates and delights the taste bud, very very nice is all I can say! Although I love basil I do not like basil if it is the only thing you can taste and whilst this product tastes strongly of basil it's not so strong that its off putting, rather it just adds to the delicious mix, finally the paprika extract flavour is just another flavour I really like in these surprisingly complex tasting instant food meals.
As for the texture as mentioned previously the sauce is very cream, rich, and is nice and thick; it's just the way a pasta sauce should be. It's not a soup, thank god! The pasta is very tender unlike some cheaper brands where the pasta can be quite hard and crunchy, maybe some people prefer crunch and poor pasta but I personally find the tender nature of this product far better than any cheaper brand equivalent I have currently come across.
There are five simple steps to prepare this meal. First you fill a kettle up with water, set it to boil. Then once it's boiled you pour into the cup containing the mug shot until approximately 15cm from the top. The third step is stirring thoroughly to separate out the pasta and dissolve the sauce. The fourth step is letting it stand for between 4 to 6 minutes and the final step is stirring again and tucking in! One thing is to always check your kettle has water in before boiling, as without sufficient water a kettle fuse or heating element will blow... One time when I was lazy I nearly did this, many moons ago, the kettle had the bare minimum and luckily it lived.
~~~Range of Flavours~~~
Other than Tomato there are Tomato and Herb, Creamy Cheese, Roast Chicken Flavour, Minestrone Flavour, Spicy Tomato, Mediterranean Syle and Tika Style. I have not tired the other flavour however minestrone looks like one I would like to try as do Spicy Tomato and Mediterranean style (I love food with a bit of kick to it). Chicken not so much as I do not eat animals, I eat fish which I do not class as an animal, ditto insects.
~~~Nutrition and Fullness Feeling~~~
Each 258 g sachet (quite a generous portion size) contains 271 kCal which is a lot of calories however the breakdown of where it comes from is where things get interesting. It contains a mere 2.1 g of fat (a tiny amount) and only 1g of those is saturated. It contains 55.7g of carbs and 5.9g of protein ( a surprisingly high number for a pasta product sans cheese, cheese contains lots of fat too). It is very healthy with these numbers as it has a protein to fat ratio of nearly 2 to 1 which is very impressive. Protein fills you up for longer and helps you build muscle not fat.
I find that after eating one of these, unlike with a cup a soup, it plugs the hole completely, more often than not. So this is a product that could well help dieters as it helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing the chance you are going to gauge on unhealthy things like chocolate and crisps!
I paid 89 pence for this at my local co-op which is quite a lot for a 258g pasta, however it is a lot more filling than a Cup a Soup and from memory it also is heavier than what cup a soup provide (will update this with more specific info on the weight of a cup a soup). However whilst its dear a four pack of cup a soup in my local co-op is 1 pound 39 unless there is a special deal on so yes it's a little dearer than a cup soup but as a treat it's not that expensive, it's a little dear to be purchased frequently though, so for this I take one point off, as the taste is great and nutrition is quite strong too.
Online it can be purchased for 50 p from Asda for an individual "Shot" for a limited time and several stores are doing a promotion of 5 for £3.00 till the 02/07/13, as of the time this review was written on the 13th of June. I am sure this offer will appeal to those of us, like me, needing some sessions from the MSA (Mug Shots Anonymous).
~~~ Any Final comments and Would You Recommend this product?~~~
A final point in this product's favour is that unlike cup a soup and to a slightly lesser extent pot Noodle, this sauce has a far better solubility in water than those rival competitors whom often have some sauce/powder clumped to the bottom no matter how much you stir and add more hot water. This product seems to dissolve all the time, even if you add a little less than the recommended amount of water. I have not tested how far this goes, I might be sad but I am not that sad. I thoroughly would recommend this product as on taste, and nutrition it guns down its rivals in a blaze of glory.
My list of favourite products in this field goes like this Mug Shot>>>>Pot Noodle> Cup a Soup. With Mug Shot from Symington's being far superior to both the products I am comparing it to, with the other two being even Stevens, more or less. I prefer one over the other based on my inclination and any special offers on a given day determining which I fancy. The only negative I can think of is that Mug Shots are more pricey than the competition as regards cup a soup but cheaper than individual Pot Noodles (which as a multi-pack probably beat Mug Shot). For these reasons I award it 4 Dooyoo Stars as the price is the only thing that stops me buying it more often. I guess you pay for quality.
Sainsbury's Pink Lemonade
I am reviewing the 2 litre bottle which comes in a clear plastic bottle with a plastic label wrapped around the circumference of the bottle. On the front side the background colour is a greyish silver with a small blue rectangular box at the top in which the words "no added sugar" are written in white. Below the box is the words "pink lemonade" which are written in pink in a slightly larger font, then comes some more blue text telling us it's made with lemons and raspberries.
Finally at the bottom of the front cover there is a picture of pink lemon in a circle which has a light pink background (like the picture shows) then there is a thin outer ring which has a darker more red pink embroidered with flowery patterns round the ring. Round the back of the label we have a clear design telling us what the ingredients are and the nutritional values, per 100ml, and per glass as well as the RDA values. It does a good job of clearly explaining all the key facts and constituents of the product. Visually the cover is pretty nice and very much in tone with a pink lemonade product although the design doesn't blow me away it is nice to look at and fits the pink theme very well. The Picture shown here does not totally reflect the design of the lemonade I purchased had, though it was the same product, confirmed by nutritional stats being the same. It had pretty much the same as the picture shown except for the first paragraph where the slight differences are covered.
The taste of this product is quite sweet, sweeter than regular lemonade but a nice thing about the taste is that it does not taste as gassy as regular lemonade even though I can see, if anything, more bubbles in the product, and this is confirmed by a glass bloating me up more than regular lemonade does. Initially the taste is more refreshing than a regular bottle of lemonade and it is possible to taste a fresh, juicy, delicious berry base note in the drink which impresses me because as a percentage of the product it is only 3% Raspberry (actually less because that 3% is composed of Lemon , orange and raspberry in unspecified quantities). Whilst initially the effects of the juicy, hydrating noticeable raspberry and undetectable orange base notes make the product more thirst-quenching after one glass this effect is outweighed by the increased sweetness of the product relative to regular white lemonade from Sainsbury's. I would say this product initially is actually less sickly than regular lemonade perhaps paradoxically because of its sweetness and not in spite of it as one would initially assume. However in the longer run, i.e. after a single glass (our glasses are about ¾'s of a pint) I find it far to sickly to carry on drinking whilst regular lemonade sort of grows on you after a single glass.
Whereas a 2 liter bottle of regular Sainsbury's Lemonade costs £1.00 at my local Sainsbury's the cost of the bottle of pink lemonade was £1.45 which is not an earth shattering difference. At the time of writing Sainsbury's were either not selling it online, or I was a bit computer illiterate, so I could not find how much cheaper it was to buy it online, albeit it would have to be part of your regular shop in order to benefit. I think for a 2 liter bottle that will last you around 10 small glasses that's reasonable as you will only be consuming one or two glasses max per day and its not like you will want to drink it every day either.
Per 250 ml glass, which is the size of your bog standard glass which contains about half a pint the product contains 12 kilo calories, 0.2g of protein, 1.2gs of carb and only a trace of fat. Worryingly for tooth and weight well being 0.8g of those are sugars which is rather fattening and damaging to the tooth to boot. I think a lot of people will have the slightly larger ¾ pint glasses like we do in which case you will be getting 1.8 g of carbs, 1.2 g of sugar, 0.3 g of protein and 24 kcal's.
* Novelty factor of drinking a pretty,shimmering, pink lemonade.
* Highly refreshing initial taste with an invigorating subtle berry taste in the background flavourings.
* Quite cheap as a product relative to more "posh" brands of pink lemonade.
* Tastes less gassy.
* Initially less sickly than Sainsbury's regular clear lemonade.
* After the first glass or so it becomes more sickly than regular clear lemonade.
* The sweetness becomes overpowering after 1 glass and the ability to taste the subtle berry flavor largely destroyed (think the spicy chilly effect on food as an analogy)
* A little dearer than Sainsbury's bog standard clear lemonade
* Whilst not tasting as gassy as Sainsbury's lemonade I found this product more bloating than Sainsbury's clear lemonade
~~~Summary and recommendation~~~
All in all Sainsbury's pink lemonade is a great product that positively sparkles and is pound for pound a better bet than the more fancy pink lemonades offered by chic brand's whom yes taste a little better (from memory of testing such brands) but not to the extent to warrant the several fold increase in price. As far as taste goes compared to regular Sainsbury's lemonade it is superior, at least initially thanks to the subtle refreshing raspberry tone which invigorates and revives the mouth. However after more than 1 or 2 glasses, depending on the size of glass you are using, it quickly becomes far to sickly to drink and whilst I prefer the initial taste to regular lemonade later on it just becomes horrid.
I would definitely recommend this product but on the proviso that the product is used only occasionally because regular use of such a sweet product is likely to put you off the product and when it's used it should be used in moderation as drinking too much is very sickly and not advisable. I therefore award 4 Dooyoo stars.
These come in a dark black wrapper with the words "Mars Bar" written in red, with a gold outline. Round the back, on individual bars, is printed the nutritional information and ingredients, the text is really rather hard to make out but that's mainly due to space limitations so I cannot fault the product here!
~~~ Appearance, Smell, Taste and Texture ~~~
They are a moderately light shade of brown, on top. They are 10 cm long and just over 1 cm thick. They contain a thin top layer of caramel under the chocolate outer layer and then the rest of that 1 cm or so material is light brown, soft nougat material. When sniffing them they have a sweet, chocolaty aroma that is very appealing and inviting, it does get the taste buds salivating in anticipation of the mouthful that is to come; unfortunately this is where it all goes downhill for me, the taste does not, in my opinion, match the inviting and masterful smell.
It tastes too sweet for my tastes; it immediately dries my mouth out due to all the sugar, the caramel and the nougat acting as a triple action threat on the mouth. I am immediately made very thirsty with the sweetness of this taste and the gloopy, gluey texture makes this effect even more severe. Further my lack of saliva makes it hard to eat (radiotherapy to the jawline will do that to some), and sore on my teeth due to the caramel penetrating the teeth more than even just chocolate.
I find it overly sweet, dry and sickly, with the caramel (unlike in roses fondant sweets it does not flow smoothly, is quite gloopy and is far sweeter than I would like) being the main culprit but the nougat just makes it worse as it is also gloopy and nearly as sweet as the caramel. I am not averse to nougat, nor caramel but this product does deliver them in a manner I find pleasing, I prefer runnier, less sweet caramel fondants than the kind of gloopy, sickly caramel present in this product and Twix. Similarly, the nougat fails to deliver, as unlike in a milky way, it is not flowing and it sticks to my gums to a large extent and it does not just dissolve like a milky way does.
Per 58g Bar - Which is quite a decent size for a chocolate bar in today's ever smaller chocolate sizes (in 2020 a bar will probably be 1.5 bits of chocolate....)--it contains a massive 260 Kcal (that's over 10% of the average women's RDA, and is a figure that somewhat applies to smaller men) and it contains 9.9g of fat and 4.8 of those fats are unsaturated. These are just terrible numbers, yes this bar is a little bigger than the competition but even taking that into account it contains far more fat per gram than Cadbury's Dairy milk. It also contains a massive 40 g of carbs and 34.6 of those are sugars making it very bad for teeth, which is something to think about too. Finally it contains a mere 2.5g of protein making its Protein to fat ratio far less than one, indeed its fat to protein ratio is roughly 4 to 1, very unhealthy. Usually you'd say treats can be taken in moderation but the higher than average fats per gram of material in this product makes me question if that applies to this Mars Bar. From a health consideration point alone I'd say any consumer would seriously have to consider alternative sources.
I paid 64 p for it in my local co-op though it can be bought for 59p online on Sainsbury's and less in value packs. I bought one for the review (well really I was given the money by someone who likes them in my house so it served two purposes, I just had a small nibble), I used to love these but for years I have found them far too heavy and sickly. Sometimes we buy value packs, although they are not for me! Others in my household like them. I would say it does represent good value for money if you do actually like the product because 58 g is a fair bit more than say a Galaxy or Cadburies Dairy Milk yet it generally costs the same or a similar price in my local co-op.
~~~Would I recommend?~~~
I personally would not recommend this product as it is sickly, sweet and overly gloopy. It's not that caramel, nougat and chocolate are bad, it's that the implementation is bad, with the caramel not being runny and being far too sweet are the worst parts of this product but there were other problems as mentioned in the body of the review. Finally, from a nutritional stand point it is diabolical with high sugar, fat and calorie content, definitely not one of your five a day.
If there is anything positive to be said is that I can at least tolerate this which is more than can be said for Twix. Because there are products worse than this on the market, I give this product a rating of 2 Dooyoo stars. I know tastes will vary, and for some this product may be their thing, but even for those folks the sheer fattening nature of this product knocks some stars of the score any one could rate it. There are some circumstance it could be useful, like if you were going somewhere where a lot of energy was required then this would be ok such as if you were into extreme sports, this is another reason why I give this product 2 stars and not one, as all the things that make it bad for the regular person could be functional for certain niche markets. Summo wrestlers would probably find use for it too with all the fat in it! (attempt at a joke).
This review may appear on Ciao under my user name "newprideexperiadj2". I hope my review does not read too much like a spurned lover!
It comes in a box which is golden grain in colour at the bottom and has a red backbound at the top, in the middle there is a picture of blue sky and the bottom is a picture of grains. At the top of the box in yellow writing is printed "50% extra free, 36 biscuits for the price of 24", not sure if this is on every box. In the middle is printed "Weetabix" in blue text, below which white text states "fuel for your day". Round the backside of the box is a picture of a glass of milk and a picture of Weetabix, and the ingredients, nutritional advice and allergy advice are all printed in a clearly legible fashion. I like how it informs us to add milk as the very young, mentally less able and the elderly might not be aware of this fact unlike older or younger individuals respectively.
~~Appearance, taste, texture~~~
They are a sort of grainy wood brown colour, they have no strong smell to speak of. The first bite into a Weetabix give a firm but yummy response. They taste very much of wheat and grains and are quite scrumptious; they have a quite frim, harsh texture at first but as the milk dissolves them they get quite soft and pliable and this is when they taste most delicious, they are quite plain so to speak yet I find them very succulent. Finally I would say that if you leave them in milk to long the texture goes to mush, I find my first bite a little unpleasant but by the time I have eaten most of the first Weetabix I find them truly moreish and succulent despite having no sweetness or prominent flavour to speak of beyond a carbohydrate taste.
~~~How to prepare~~~
As with most cereals they are best eaten after adding some milk to moisten them as they tend to be very dry with out milk. I once tried a taste test on a raw Wetabix and it was very dry indeed and made me cough due to the sort of shrapnel texture prior to wetting. I have found around per 100ml of milk per Weetabix is what I like but others may use less or more milk, however I seriously would not recommend eating them with less than 50 ml of milk per bar as they are quite dangerous when dry, when I ate them with no milk they were nearly making me choke! I had to swallow a glass of juice. I did this test as I wondered if they were like Rice Krispies which in some forms can be eaten without milk, such as in a cake, however it appears not.
~~~Nutritional Info/Health/Allergy Advice~~~
Weetabix are very nutritious and healthy per 2 bars they contain 134 kcal of energy, 4.3 g of protein, 25.7 g of carbs ( not to excessive or low), only 0.8g of fat of which only 25% of that is saturated fats which is truly stunning. The Protein to Fat ratio is over 4 to 1 which again is superb as protein fills you up more and helps you build muscle mass at the gym. The product contains wheat and barley and is also suitable for vegetarians. The fact the box does not mention it was made in a factory containing nuts implies its fine for people with a nut allergy which is another massive plus.
I paid 2 pounds 40 for 36 in my local Tesco in what appears to be a special offer where I got 36 for the price of 24 which means I got 12 extra bars free, a massive 50% extra! Given I eat 3 at a time that's 12 days' worth which is nearly 2 weeks, not a bad deal though not as cheap as Cheerio's however a little better value than Rice Krispies I think. Online these can be had at £2.40 for a 24 pack which is quite expensive, although Tesco's is offering a 24 pack for £2.00 which is somewhat a better deal though still not as good as the special offer I got in store, at the special offer price they are a pinch, at the regular price they are quite expensive, £2.40 for just over a weeks' worth works out around £9.50-9.60 per month which is a lot for cereal, which pushes £110 per year just for cereal.
~~~Would I recommend?~~~
Yes they are not quite as tasty as my scrumptious favourite of Cheerio's, nor as interesting as Snap Crackle and Pop, or as yummy as Rusks (I know, I know it's embarrassing but I like food designed for babies... lol its cause they are very sweet). But for days when I don't fancy any other type of taste these make a more than adequate requirement, and very few other brands offer the same level of nutrition whilst still tasting superb, for me Special K is only ok and Bran Flakes are a no no, however these bad boys taste great and offer great nutrition stats, definitely an item to be included in any ones diet who is serious about either losing weight or training for events as diverse as weight lifting or charity running competitions. I kind of fall in between the naff wanting to lose weight category and the serious amateur athlete category.... Probably closer to the naff wanting to lose weight category though... For all these reasons I rate it only a 4 out of five Dooyoo stars as their are tastier or cheaper alternatives out their but on health value it takes some to beat it.
Review may appear on Ciao under my newprideexperiadj2 user name.
Radox for Men, Hair Shampoo 2 in 1
The Radox Shampoo and Body wash comes in a slightly irregular cylindrical shape that curves out at the sides and in at the bottom and top of the bottle like an inverse hour glass shape that is supposedly the most desired body shape by women. At the top it features a neat swivel device that forms a sort of hook to hang over doors its shape is best described as an uncompleted 3 dimensional 6 shape where the bottom of the 6 never finishes by coming back round and the top of the 6 curves down into the downward plane (when the bottle is laid along its length and the downward plane is assumed to be the zx or zy planes (assume x measures width and y length and z height).
The Central Portion of the front of the bottle features a picture of a green flower and a blue purple s vortex-like shape. Above this, a white bubble with the words "feel good fragrance" are printed in a purplish blue colour, the box is bordered by a metallic silver outline. The product tells us on the front that it contains fennel and sea minerals. The bottle features a removable cap which makes it green friendly as the bottle can be recycled. The bottle is translucent which allows us to see the shower gel and we can see it's a rich deep blue colour. The back of the bottle features a clear ingredients list and advice to rinse your eyes if you get shower gel in them.
~~~ Dispensing Design ~~~
This product has a latch design lid, which is born on plastic hinges. It is a simple design to use. Depending on which way you are holding the bottle you either push up and away or out and away in order to open the lid, which then has a small hole about 3-4mm in diameter for shower gel to come through. If you do it correctly the path your thumb will make as it opens it is a 2 dimensional arch shape. Whilst being easy to use this design can often lead to a broken lid as it is hinged on plastic bearings that can break under repeated stress. One clever point of the design is that the hole has a cover which functions as sort of a membrane, when tipped upside down with the lid off no gel will come out unless pressure is applied to the body of the bottle.
~~~ Appearance, Smell, Use, Duration ~~~
As mentioned earlier it has a rich azure blue colour, when looking through the backside of the bottle you can see lots of little air bubbles and it looks somewhat like a glistening lava lamp. It really does look very pretty. Smell wise it has a faint smell that smells a little flowery and also quite soapy; it's a pleasant smell without being strong or distinctive. It quickly lathers when used due to the excellent foaming agent Sodium Laureth Sulphate and it feels really smooth and kind to the skin. I have quite sensitive skin and it caused no redness or sensitivity. I found that when massaged into my skin it proved a soothing effect to my muscles when they were tense and sore, over and above that of which I get just from being in hot water. The Shampoo part of the shower and body wash also impressed me as it felt not too gloopy whilst on and after rinsing I was left with smooth, shiny hair. One negative about this product is that its scent, whilst pleasant, was a little weak. It did not last particularly long either; it was undetectable by even me after a few minutes. Whilst I don't want to smell like a lady boy of Bangkok I also would like to be able to smell something, a flower scent can be masculine, and this fragrance was, but whilst it was a nice masculine smell I found it too faint.
~~~ Ingredients ~~~
It contains sodium lauryl sulphate which snopes.com confirms is totally safe and that the myth of it being bad for you developed because of confusion with ethanolamine lauryl sulphate which is harmful. It is a great cleaning agent which is far more powerful than natural equivalents and really helps to get the dirt and grime of you when you are in the shower; it also contains the ligand peg 40 which can aid in nerve repair (Wikipedia). It does not, sadly, contain EDTA which is a ligand used to treat people who have overdosed on drugs or are the victim of heavy metal poisoning, it is an agent which makes the cosmetic more air stable but is not in this product. There is nothing particularly alarming in the ingredients list just a shame it lacks EDTA which can remove toxins.
~~~ Cost ~~~
I paid £2.35 for it in my local Tesco's for a 250 ml bottle which I find totally reasonable for the superior quality and prestige associated with the Radox brand relative to own brands and even the likes of Adidas (whose "Ice" shower and shampoo can be purchased online at super drugs for £2.30 for 250 ml and is on special offer right now for £1.29). Thus whilst being comparable in price to many other brands, Radox has that relaxing effect on the skin that many brands struggle to match. Online it beats the Adidas Ice product as its only £1.90 from Tesco's and £1.00 from Asda; superb value.
~~~ Would I recommend? ~~~
Yes I would, it smells nice, if a little faint and short acting, it leaves my hair very shiny, it comes in a bottle that has a clever diaphragm design that stops stuff coming out if you accidently leave the lid off and it makes my muscles feel somewhat more refreshed than hot water alone and even relative to other brands of shampoo and shower gel. Finally, it does not cost the earth it's pretty similar in price to its competitors but looks nicer and works better but maybe they have a more strong and lasting smell. Thus due to its lack of EDTA and its weak smell which doesn't last very long at all I give it 4 Dooyoo stars.
Elbow: The Seldom Seen Kid
~~~ Background ~~~
Elbows are a band whose members are from Manchester, UK. They formed in 1990 and have been producing albums since 2001; however they only really burst into the mainstream consciousness in 2007 when the album "The Seldom Seen Kid" was released to critical acclaim. So impressed were the music aficionado's with the material that they saw fit to give it a mercury prize. -- The mercury music prize is a prize given by the British phonographic society to the best album of the year, at the time they won it was sponsored by Barclay. It tends to be won by "serious" music i.e. music with meaning and great instrumentation -- All tracks in this album, except "the fix" were written by elbow, the fix was a collaboration between elbow and the guest vocalist Richard Hawley of the Britpop band longpigs. The track "the bones of you" was based off of the aria "summertime" by George Gershwin who was a composer from 1898-1937. The band consists of Guy Garvey on vocals, Mark Potter on guitar and his brother Craig on keyboards with Pete Tuner on bass and Richard Jupp on Drums.
As to why I bought it, I heard the majestic "One day like this" and decided that anyone capable of producing that kind of beautiful, evocative and cosmically challenging music can't have done so by fluke and are worth paying a little more attention too. I wasn't disappointed as we will go on to see.
~~~ Artwork ~~~
The artwork in the sleeve is produced by Oliver East, an artist who has illustrated music albums for a number of years. The back of the box is in a sort of cream colour and the printed song titles are in a metallic silver colour except the last rack which is in a dull gold yellow like colour. This gives the album a very classy, refined feel much in keeping with the orchestral and synthetic feat the listener is about to voyage into to.
The sleeve of the box has a cube at the front and a picture of a car with yellow headlights. Pictures of people who look like they were drawn by a five year old and look a bit like bananas, there are pictures of streetlights again in school child style and these look a little like trees. I really don't know what it's meant to mean, perhaps some art connoisseurs could enlighten me, cause from my vantage point it looks like absurdism, and yet it's strangely stimulating. The first track features the same cartoon style with the drawing of an apartment; the next track features a picture of a road and trees. Track three is a train station and track four is more apartments.
Throughout the other tracks the same themes appear; city complexes and apartments. It seems to be an ode both to the industrial revolution and to humans capacity to build things (quite a few of the tracks are pictures of brick walls). It may be a comment on how humanity is a social creature and is programmed either by chance or design to work together and create a whole which is better and stronger than its constituent parts. Finally, it might be a criticism of how we all just act like cogs in a machine; for the most part we never take a small step back to appreciate the beauty of the world.
I quite like the artwork as its seemingly very straightforward and of superficial meaning yet you just know the art is actually subtly loaded with meaning; it very much compliments the intelligent music and poetic lyrics of the tracks.
~~~ Track by Track ~~~
Starts with a very watery, bubbling synth that sounds ever so slightly of pidgeons cooing and also like the hypothetical musical sound a stone would make if you skim it in the water and make ripples. This ripple sound comes from a synth that has a sort attack and sort decay with low sustain volume, it definitely has some sine wave character the other components seem to be triangle waves or square waves (probably both). Whilst the synth plays at the start a soft, slow, held back drum beat plays which is sparsely populated with just a few kicks and hi hat hits. A vocal choir in a lower mid register sing "ah's and ooh's". Then a gentle piano riff enters before a contrasting high string stab explodes into life at massive volume which is answered with a lower register legato string piece playing far softer and drawn out part, musically it's called fortesimopiano or subito, this is a classic question and answer phrase in music.
Lyrically it's very poetic and simple yet surprisingly deep and multi-layered. The singer describes how he will put off going to meeting the premier (it's either a literal statement in which case it infers it may be an older powerful man of political clout, or as I think a metaphor for where his priorities lie, like many of the lyrics in the song it works as both) of his country to meet the girl of his dreams. "You're the only thing in any room your ever in", means that she captivates him such that she is the center of everything he sees such that the rest of the world is just noise, it also hints at an individual who may be a little introverted such that she knows how attractive and pleasant her look and personality are. Finally, it may also be referring to how her looks and personality captivate every ones attention such that everything else pales in comparison to her.
"But find a man that's good for you; find a man that's truer than, find a man that needs you more than I". This is another devilishly clever lyric with multiple correct interpretations such is its clear yet ambiguous meaning. Which, on one level is him putting himself down because he is scarred of commitment and does not think he is handsome or interesting enough for her, on another it's a rhetorical question or challenge to a women who is not at all interested in him to see the good things he can offer, stability, loyalty and commitment.
"I'm stubborn selfish and too old" is both a statement from a man who is apparently too cynical for love and not wanting to commit to anything such as marriage, and yet it is also like him talking to himself and telling himself reasons why it won't work because he is scarred of declaring his love and being rejected as it would break it.
"I sat you down and told you the truest love is for oneself, you pulled apart my theory with a weary disinterested sigh", on the one level (the most obvious) this is a cynical older man telling a beautiful slightly younger women that he can't be with her because he loves himself too much to be married (but really as an act of misguided love because he wants her to find someone who is truer and needs her "more than I"). On the deeper, perhaps more precise level it's actually detailing how he is telling her that her love for him won't last because she loves her self too much and will eventually turn to someone more attractive than him whom she finds more in touch with her, she sighs because she thinks that he is fretting needlessly and she won't ever do that (yet her sigh is merely confirming how much she loves her self and doesn't listen to others). I really adore this lyric because on level she is sighing because she is the one with the pure love and lack of cynicism, on the other interpretation of this song he is merely a pragmatist and she is a dreamy narcissist who is likely to end up doing exactly what the singer fears, and yet that should be no reason for the singer not to try in the hope of it not happening. Finally, a third interpretation of the song is an old guy who has so much to offer a young women but she is not interested in him and he longs to tell her but lacks the courage to do so.
What do I think it all means? I think it means a little of all three possible interpretations, however I think that the main theme of this song is of an older man and young women who are in love but the older man longs for something more from the relationship to her it's just a fling as she has more of her life to live and is not ready to settle down. She is a bit of a narcissistic character but not consciously malevolent. He tries to argue with himself why asking her to marry him is not a good idea (too old, too selfish, not good enough, she loves her self too much) and she is rather unimpressed with the drama as she thinks she won't fall for someone else even without a ring.
There are some lovely hollow sounding woodwind instruments and chirpy swirling (like a swallow would sound if musical) synths in this piece in addition to the afore mentioned slow drums and sensational loud-quite string parts which are truly emotional, haunting and captivating. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that orchestra and composition is something Mozart would have been proud off. This track literally moved me to tears with its poetry, intelligence in lyrics and the transcendent instrumentation.
2. The Bones of You
"The Bones of You" is a faster paced track with a very catchy chorus and a driving drum beat. It enters with a fast acoustic guitar backing track. In the chorus a heavy distorted guitar enters, before the second verse kicks in with a different drum beat and shakers.
It has a very addictive and sing-along like chorus "and it's you and it's may and we're sleeping through the day, and its five years ago and 3000 years ago". At 2 minutes 35 seconds an emotional driving guitar solo kicks of that is both harsh and lush sounding before a synth choir pad section enters which is then followed by a very dirty bass guitar riff where the music gets very loud and thrashes about the most of any point in the song. I think the juxtaposition of soft sounding sections and harsh sounding sections are a metaphor for how love can tame even the fiercest of individuals.
The song is about how love can reduce even the most powerful and serious man into a babbling, gushing teenager and yet this is not a cynical song about love; far from it, it is a homage to the power of love to transform cruel and uncaring individuals into caring, empathetic, emotional individuals. Beyond what I first interpreted it's a tricky song to pin down but one person on the internet has it pegged exactly; it's a song about a man who had a past relationship and how he still pines for five years ago even though he tries to persuade himself he doesn't need love (from songmeaning.com see refs section). So in addition to how love can tame the professional or aggressive man; "So I'm there charging around with a juggernaut brow", "Stood in the street walking teenager? No" it is also about how he himself needs love. It tells us how he remembers his love from five years ago "And it's you, and it's May". In this song love is literally being compared to a favourite song; "a song I have known, and the world moves in slow mo. Like the first cigarette of the day".
By comparing it to a song we also get another understanding of the change in dynamics, force and pace of the sections, it is also his conflicting feelings and thoughts in his head fighting each other; trying to tell himself he doesn't need her but he does. This track is just another brilliant lyrical feat as it manages to speak of the personal experience of the singer as at the same time also having a more generic, universal message which the listener can relate to (the message of how even the fiercest of people need love).
Finally, a further point is that this song makes reference to religion when it has a line about smashing rosary beads, as we will find out later it's not the only track that has religious references. Interestingly the references are often catholic suggesting some of the band had a catholic upbringing and the references are apparently neutral on religion which is a nice refreshing way to include religious mentions in songs.
3. Mirror Ball
Mirror Ball, is another track which is a massively dramatic change of pace from the previous track. It starts with a very soft acoustic guitar accompaniment and a medium paced soft drum beat soon enters. The track features a soft acoustic bass guitar in the backing, some more sonorous string sections and some gentle piano notes. Again the lyrics are very poetic in nature and the strings sound very heavenly. "We made the moon our mirror ball" meaning they used the moon as the shiny ball you get in disco's. It's a very sweet sound and yet a little slow for my tastes and does not have either quite the same intrigue or thought provoking lyrics as the first song, nor the catchy sing along chorus like the second track. For these reasons it's not one my favourite tracks on the album.
4. Grounds for Divorce
This track has a driving rock and blues styles and is an up-tempo toe tapping song. It's another great track with a really pulsating vibe to it. It enters with an energetic driving drum beat and funky acoustic guitar accompaniment. It's a song about, not as one would assume divorce, a cocktail called grounds for divorce. It mentions a pub in the chorus "there's a whole in my neighbourhood down which of late I cannot help but fall" which is a pub in Manchester from where the band come that started out as a toilet but was converted into an indie music lounge.
It is about how the singer (the actual Guy Garvey and not a fictional protagonist) losses direction in his life after the death of a friend, which the album tells us in the back sleeve, is dedicated to a guy called Brian whom elbow personally. "I will bring you further roses but it does you know good and it does me no good. And it does me no good". Is both a literal references to the roses he brings to his friends graves and how it can't bring him back and help him, and it's not helping himself heal either. The second literal reference in this line is possibly to glasses of roses he buys his friends in the bar to drink to their sorrows in losing their much love friend. "Someday we will be drinking with the seldom seen kid" is a reference to how one day they will be underground too, when they die he hopes he will see his friend again in some sort of afterlife.
The chorus line "there's a hole in my neighbourhood down which of late I cannot help but fall" is as well as being the previously mentioned allusion to a bar the band used to drink at is also both a reference to how there is a hole in the community and their band after the death of their friend and also how they themselves will one day be in the ground. Its Morbid yet is very catchy with a karaoke-friendly chorus.
The rocking guitar riff at 1 minute 41 seconds is very funky and is accompanied by deep, pounding bass guitar backing riffs. This track is really pounding and heavy but very musical and groovy at the same time.
Rating : 8/10
5. An audience with the pope
Is a slow track with a sort of Parisian feel to it, which is backed by a descending guitar riff and a tinny, thin sounding piano sound the same pattern. It enters with a Venetian harp effect strumming up and down a scale, which makes constant interludes in periodic intervals in the song. There is a deep bass in this song, a slightly slower tempo than the last track but faster than track 3. There is some nice, haunting, eerie synth choir pads in this song and at 3 minutes 6 seconds a pentatonic blues guitar riff plays which is very slow before a guitar riff plays the same melody of the chorus. It has a laid back vibe to this track, yet is never boring due to the nice backing track, interesting lyrics and melodious vocal melodies of Guy Garvey.
The chorus is incredibly catchy and yet very profound and majestically poetic, rarely have I heard such a catchy chorus being so poetic and yet memorable at the same time. Guy Garvey sings; "I have an audience with the pope and I'm saving the world at eight but if she says she needs me, if she says she needs me, then everybody's going to have to wait" which means he'd put her before saving the world and meeting the most important political and religious leaders because she is the most important thing in his universe. It is very much about a temptress who tempts him to commit sexual acts "and the things she's asked me to do will make the most senior saint forget his name". "She turns the minutes into hours and hours into days" means every moment she is with him time goes slower because he is totally content and every minute she is away seems far longer as he can't bear to be separate from her side.
A good track with a memorable chorus that I sing along to, again quite poetic but something missing for me in this track, possibly because there are less lyrics in this song and the chorus only is sung a few times relative to a lot of other songs.
6. Perfect Weather to Fly
This song enters with a lovely dream sounding piano and a crystal sounding synth key that slightly vibrates after its note is finished, a short decay sound played in the upper octaves. It starts of at a slightly slower pace which then speeds up a little when the drum beat enters, which is a soft yet driving, deep beat. A high male vocal which sings some words is used as a sort of additional instrument and this sounds very much like a choir singing "ah" even though the voice is actually singing meaningful lyrics. It sounds very mellifluous and euphonic. The vocals of Guy Garvey in this song are just divine, his singing in all his tracks is somewhat sweet sounding but in this track it is so relaxing and yet I sing along to it as it is not in any way dragging on.
The song is about both how the band formed "we had the drive and time on our hands. One little room and the biggest of plans" and asking the listener are they happy with their life. It is also a song about how they wanted to do things differently from other bands and not be in the mainstream and dictated to by record companies into making "cheap" music. This is seen in the line prior to the chorus and in the chorus. "we decided instead we should pull out the thread that was stitching into this tapestry vile, why wouldn't you try, perfect weather to fly". I love simple chorus "why wouldn't you try, perfect weather to fly", which is asking the audience to look at their lives and if it's not going how they would like attempt to change it, the time is now because if you look for the perfect time you will be looking for ever, for ever procrastinating.
I love the trumpet section that plays us out at the end, the shakers and the crystal sounding electronic piano like keys. It's just a really nice try that works well without being overblown or extravagant.
7. The Loneliness of a Crane Driver
"The Loneliness of a crane driver" is a powerful song in terms of arrangement, instrumentation and vocal singing. These elements transform one of the lyrically weaker tracks into one of the top tracks of this album. It enters with a slow delayed, reverbed guitar and soft bass; it has gentle strings at the start of the track and a moving drum beat that is full of energy. At 1 minute 50 or so a soft interlude enters with a gentle electric guitar piece and smooth synth pad section which is very mellow, before the same rhythm and backing track as before enters but this time with a slightly more deep, distorted bass, and ever so subtly louder strings. The song winds itself up like a crane (analogous almost to the songs titles) before long we have a massive crescendo and cacophony of sound with stirring strings and synth pads, guitar wails and emotive, tuneful vocal whining.
The music itself is very meaningful and emotional but the lyrics aren't quite as effective.
I'd say the song is about a man, who feels lonely and isolated and sees a crane driver and wonders if they feel the same, and he can't bring himself to say a prayer to god so asks the crane driver to do so for him (he prays to the crane driver that he will send a prayer to god for him, because he does not have the faith in a god, that allows him to do so of his own accord).
8. The Fix
The song enters with a walking bassline that is very prominent in the mix and a sort of synth organ that sounds very wobbly and tremolo effected. It also features a few whistle like sine wave based synth notes and after the chorus there is a sort of wah wah guitar that sounds a little bit like the effect Gorillaz use in a lot of their tracks. There is also the sort of "wah wah" effect from the harmonica that you here in "the good and the bad and the ugly" it's a very blues based track with hints of jazz, it feels very much like it would be appropriate in a smoky cocktail bar, or jazz lounge. At 3 minutes 30 or so a guitar solo layered in reverb plays a very laid back riff, the whole track is played at a slightly faster than walking pace but not as fast as your average track.
The song is quite simple lyrically; it refers to fixing a horse race, nothing more. I found the track a little one dimensional compared to some of Elbows tracks and not quite as interesting. It lacked the strings that made some tracks so great and the interesting lyrics that really captivate the listener, the lyrics where still interesting but seemed to be repeating the same theme and did not need multiple interpretations.
9. Some Riot
The song starts with quiet deep strings, quite ghost cymbal hits, and a beautiful broken chord piano accompaniment, as well as a sparkly, watery sounding synth tone in the musical background.
It's a song about a drunk who keeps drinking destroying himself "the booze turns a tall gentle boy into a terrible totem", is a reference to how drinking can change a gentle natured person into a violent, dangerous and detestable thug.
At 3.40 there is a lovely string piece playing in the background, sparkly dream piano keys smothered in reverb and a lovely vocal backing "ooh" track which acts like the main instrument and sounds very symphonic and mellifluous, we here a quite clean electric guitar piece at this point with a slightly bluesy tone playing a few quite notes towards the back end of the song. Overall it's an ok track but a weaker one of the album.
10. One Day like This
It enters with a slow violin peace, playing a beautiful, gentle, memorable melody that goes someway to making the track as the song develops. There is a gentle acoustic riff in the background, a soft deep kick playing a held back rhythm. I love the violin stabs at (pianoforte) at 1minute 25. The violin riff at the start reappears at about 1minute 50 in a higher octave and with more presence and brightness, and it sounds ever so sweet and symphonic. The music is beautiful and the songs lyric are beautiful. The tone of the song on its own brings hope and majesty to the listener, it's majestically transcendent and speaks to the soul, all of which is further emphasised by the clever and emotive lyrics and vocals from Guy Garvey.
The song is about a person who thought they would never find or experience love, who did not understand it because they had never experienced it that suddenly experiences it and it changes their whole outlook on life; it makes them appreciate the beauty of the world and almost gives them a sense of the unreality of reality. It seems to bring them close to faith in a god or if not god, in humanity and life itself.
The use of metaphors in this brilliantly poetic yet catchy track is astounding one such being the very first line: "Drinking in the morning sun". You can't literally drink the sun he's comparing the sun to a fine wine, he's savouring the rays of the sun like how you would with said fine wines. The next lines "what made me behave that way? Using words I never say. I can only think it must be love" refer to how he is whispering niceties and nothings that he would not normally use in his more cynical and clinical everyday life. Finally, the last line of the section says "oh anyway, it's looking like a beautiful day" which is both a literal statement of the hope he feels in his life, about his rebirth as a person into optimism and contentment, and a reference to the similarly beautiful and orchestral brilliance of the U2 track "beautiful day", which in my opinion this track surpasses and then humiliates!
There are references to fatality and possibly religion in this song, "Kiss me like a final meal. Kiss me like we die tonight" which is a description of how intense love is and how he wants to stay in the moment because the moment is so beautiful and soul touching. It also may hint at the final meal Jesus had with his disciples prior to his crucifixion (given the frequent use of the odd religious line in their songs this is not too much of a stab in the dark) and how he wants to cherish this time when one or other of them is dead and gone because he knows their love can't last for ever (people die) but he is focusing on the beauty of the here and now not on the tragedy that is to come, as comes to us all.
I love the anthemic, euphoric vocals Guy Garvey screams in the chorus, in a tuneful, emotive, melodious way, which are backed up with similarly profound and yet easy lyrics; "cause holy cow I love your eyes, only now I see the light" is a reference to how before he met her he was clouded in darkness and directionless and she has acted as his compass, she has given direction. It also means he has understood faith --In many religions coming to an appreciation of the divine, or of the self, is referred to as "seeing the light"-- either in the beauty and perplexing nature of life and love, or possibly in both that and in a source of external creation from whence evolution came. In the final stanza he sings about how when he is old he still wants her to be with him; "When my face is chamois-creased. Yeah, kiss me when my lips are thin".
Towards the end of the song a different section enters with vocal choirs, soft electric guitar riffs (played in jazz type settings on the guitar) and a varied vocal arrangement, all of which is backed up by more luscious strings and some pianos too. Guy Garvey sings a simple line "throw those curtains wide, one day like this year would see me right", which means that all the other days of hardship, woe and feelings of doubt (both self and in the external world) would be erased by one day of being with her, and the elation and completeness which it brings. As the final section builds we first have a single choir and a tense building staccato string section, before a second choir enters and the drums gradually get lowered, a slow bass string section enters. Then Guy Garvey sings the earlier chorus whilst the other choirs sing "throw those curtains wide". Finally, the soft electric guitar described enters. It's just a great crescendo of sound, to which the whole song expertly builds towards. This is music that will stand the test of time and generational barriers, and it's not every day an artist releases such. I have run out of superlatives to describe the beauty and hope infused in this song which is also tinged with sadness.
11. Friend of ours
Is a downbeat, somber affair with a gentle meandering bass line and slow down trodden vocals, there are however some more stirring strings in this piece which are majestic and divine sounding. It has very short lyrics, it's a song about their departed mate named only on the album sleeve as "Brian". Toward the mid-section some dreamy, sparkly piano sounds enter, playing a sort of waterfall/oriental melody. It's a bit of a damp squib in comparison to the last track, then again most tracks would be, it does give a more somber ending to the album but is actually quite a good track if we ignore the quality of the previous song. Overall it's a thoroughly decent track with nice strings and keys but weaker lyrics and a lack of melody in the vocal singing.
12. We're Away
Is an extra track that enters after track 11 in the album, it is another slow track, this time backed by mainly a piano and a very soft drum beat which sounds tinny and muffled. It has very few lyrics and I am not to sure what they mean. It is weaker than the previous track as although it is also very sweet sounding, it's a little boring and too slow to my tastes and the instrumentation never really makes it above "nice". It could do with a little more production and rich variety of sounds; it could also do with being more up-tempo, a slightly disappointing end to a great album
~~~ Cost ~~~
I paid seven pounds for it in HMV which I find exceptional value for such a masterpiece. It is available online from amazon for a fiver, which is great value for a cd which sounds better at loud volumes than mp3 recordings and has the pretty artwork and lyrics, you don't get that with a digital file!
~~~ Would I recommend ~~~
Yes, it has that one world class song in "One day like this" however this album is a rich collection of luscious instrumentation, quirky lyrics and dulcet singing. Tracks meander in a relaxing manner in places, in other places they sound dark and broody, and still further areas delight and enchant you. Yes, the uplifting, heavenly "One day like" is the center piece of the album but the extensive variety of timbres, styles, tempos and moods evoked in this album mean it is far more than just a one trick pony; indeed this album covers every sort of emotion humans go through and one may perceive the whole album to be a musical metaphor for the range of feelings we all experience as part of the human condition. I rate this 5.5 Dooyoo stars!
~~~ Packaging ~~~
Heinz comes in a turquoise green can with a part of the front of the can being a square like shape with a black background on which a picture of the beans are shown and the words "Heinz Beanz" are printed in white text below which the words "Baked beans in a deliciously rich tomato sauce" are displayed in yellow. It tells us that it's one of our five a day which is handy to know.
Round the back we have the ingredients, nutritional information and cooking instructions which are clearly laid out and easy to read, although I feel the text could be a little bigger. It also has their phone and contact details which are useful as not every product includes this and means you can complain or compliment them on their product if things go very wrong, or if you just like the product. Not all companies provide the contact information on their product.
~~~ Cooking Instructions ~~~
You can either Heat it on a hob or in a microwave; the instructions for each are given below.
* Empty Contents into a clean saucepan
* Get a wooden or plastic spoon and stir the beans prior to heating
* Turn on at a low heat, you want it such that the beans have steam coming off them
* You want very gentle bubbling
* The product starts of a deep red colour when it is not ready and turns lighter until it reaches vibrant red when ready
* Stir throughout heating
Microwave (850w instructions)
* Cook in a Perspex container
* Stir before heating for 1.5 minutes
* Stir again, reheat for a further min
* Heat for slightly longer in lower powered microwave oven (Our Microwave oven is 750 watts)
Typically it takes me around 6 minutes to cook the beans in a pan and around 4 minutes to cook in a microwave though the pan lets me cook faster or slower as required depending on what I eat my meal with.
~~~ Appearance, Taste, Texture ~~~
When uncooked the beans are a dark red colour, when cooked they change to a brighter more appealing warm red colour. They smell quite like a tomato soup, which is no surprise as they contain a lot of tomato sauce.
The tomato sauce is very rich and pure tasting, it has a distinctively "Heinz" flavour similar to their soup and tomato ketchup range, which I find refreshing and unrivalled by other brands which either taste bland, dirty or just lacking in some intangible quality relative to Heinz. What I like is that the tomato sauce is very rich but not sour or too sweet unlike other beans (as I find cold tomatoes either sour or sweet and other brands tend to taste like this when cooked), there is a slight sweetness about Heinz Baked Beans but this is nice and very much different from the taste of a cold tomato (which I am not too keen on).
The texture is softer than a lot of other beans and the beans blend into the mix of the sauce a lot more than say Branston, the other brands of beans are largely a little chewy and even dry due to the sauce not being as creamy or thick but these beans are easy to bite and accompany a meal very well, they have more sauce than a lot of other brands which is something I personally like.
~~~ Versatility ~~~
The great thing about baked beans is they can be an accompaniment to potatoes, waffles, fish fingers, Mexican bean burgers or fish, or a combination of the above at the same time! Indeed I often eat them with fish fingers and potatoes one night and a waffles and a piece of fresh salmon another night. Finally, I'd say another great meals utilizing beans, that takes little time to prepare, is beans on toast. These beans by Heinz work the best as far as I am concerned due to their extra sauce that makes this meal particularly delicious.
Heinz beans can also be handily stored in a plastic container and placed in the fridge whilst you are not using them which is quite handy as the whole can need not be eaten in one sitting but refrigerated provided you have not heated up the whole can. I usually put half a can in and if I need more put in another quarter etc. I usually leave at least ¼ of the can in the fridge to be used the next time I eat.
~~~ Nutritional information and Allergy Advice ~~~
A full 415g can (which I will sometimes eat, though not often) contains 328 kcal of energy which is around a 1/8th of an average man's RDA (2500Kcal) and around a 1/6th of a women's RDA (2000Kcal) which is probably what my individualized RDA is closer to. It contains 19.4 g of protein (a great amount), 0.8g of fat (Very low and a protein to fat ratio far higher than 1 which is great for fullness and health) and 53.4 g of carbs (not exceptionally high or low for such a big portion size). It only contains trace amount of saturated fats which means overall its great from a health perspective the only threat it offers is too much carbs but you would need a diet rather unbalanced towards pasta, cereal and bread with very little veggies, meat, fish or quorn for the carbs in this product to become fattening. It's one of the few products that I think it's possible to say; yes under more circumstances than not this product is good for health.
It tells us that this product is gluten free which is great news for those intolerant to gluten and that its suitable for vegetarians which is again useful information for the consumer, one thing I feel it could make clearer is if it contains mustard power or derivatives, or if it was cooked in a factory processing peanuts as mustard and peanut allergies can be quite serious to people relative to say lactose intolerance. I would assume naturally that it would not contain these things or be processed in a factory using these things but it does not explicitly say it wasn't prepared in a factory where mustard or peanuts where handled.
~~~ Cost ~~~
I paid £2.60 for a four pack in Tesco's; compared to a four pack of Branson's which was also £2.60 in my local Tesco's its comparable however the Tesco's Own Brand beans where only £1.70 making it 90 p cheaper for a 4 pack of beans this is £7.20 less a week (as it takes 8 cans to last a week in my home).
~~~ Would I recommend ~~~?
Yes for me personally the extra taste relative to all other baked bean brands makes them worth paying a little extra as the taste generally makes up for it. However sometimes it will be appropriate for a consumer to use another, cheaper brand if it's say a month like Christmas where presents and a fancy Christmas dinner have to be purchased which are quite expensive. I find times when I do not want to pay the extra cost thus I would say that this factor prevents me giving this product the full five Doyoo stars as the competition whilst inferior on the taste front are often around a pound cheaper for a four pack and this can add up over a month. It's four Dooyoo Stars from me.
The film is directed by Yoshiro Nakamura and was released in 2009. He has directed several films, all of which I have never heard of! The film uses almost exclusively Japanese actors with the exception of some of the extremely bit part characters. It is based on a novel by Kotaro Isaka although my research has yielded a fruitless search for the title of said novel.
I watched this film for free, after recording it on my family's Sky Box where it was shown on Film Four. Film Four described it as "a Sci-fi movie about how a song can save the world", although personally I think describing it as Sci-fi is pushing it. Sure it's a fictional movie and it does have a little bit of science in it, but the film's scenarios are very much understated and realistic.
A massive simplification of the plot of the film is that it deals with a seemingly inevitable end of the world caused not by flesh eating zombies or Doctor Who like Aliens but by an approaching comet and shows how people react to it. See what I mean about believable? Did I mention though this film asserts that a song can save the world?
Genre-wise, I feel the film is more of a drama meets buddy movie meets 3rd person "reality" documentary with more than a little humour thrown in. The film I viewed was subtitled, I don't know if there is a dubbed version but really I would highly recommend the subbed version as it is best to watch foreign language films closest to how they were intended.
The film is set in modern day Japan in 2012. It's a day like any other, except is it? The film starts with showing us an old super hero kids TV show called "Go-Rangers" which is shot in Plasticine using stop motion (like how Wallace and Grommet was shot). It then cuts to a row of houses which looks very much like the clay stop motion in the TV show. We see an ageing man called Taniguchi emerge in an electric scooter with a walking stick and a dialysis or chemotherapy bag.Scattered on the deserted streets are random bags. Taniguchi then knocks over some bikes blocking his way with his walking stick before he hears some music, which prompts him to investigate where it's coming from. He stumbles across a music shop which is playing the music.
In the shop a young man and an older shop owner, Okazaki, are discussing the origins of punk music, which seems to annoy Taniguchi who wonders if they know that the end of the world is nearing due to a comet approaching earth which is 100% certain to hit the earth. He seems annoyed they are so carefree about the end of the world, they talk in a very amusing manner "perhaps super heroes will save us" the young man says. When Taniguchi points out how silly that sounds, Okazaki unabashedly replies with absolute sincerity " Music will save the world".
Okazaki then goes on to describe how an obscure, band called Gekirin recorded the first punk record in Japan in 1974, a year before the Sex Pistols exploded onto the scene and made punk popular. The track they recorded was called "Fish Story", a song inspired by a fictional book called "Fish Story" (both fictional in real life and a book of fiction in the film). The film then introduces the first of several time warping story changes which at first are confusing but quickly become familiar and understandable.
The first Story the film takes us to is set in 1982 where a young man Masashi listening to a tape of various bands with his two friends who are into looking for occult messages in music. Both his friends are not particularly good friends to him as they boss him about and one of them is an absolute bully.
This section of the film details Masashi's timid and shy nature, and how he meets a girl in a bar who tells him he has to stand up for himself, or he will end up losing the girl of his destiny to someone else. It also introduces us to a situation where one night, after failing to stand up to his bully of a mate, he is travelling on the road listening to the track "Fish Story" when he hears a scream of a girl; he stops and sees a girl being attacked by a rapist, will he work up the courage to do the right thing?
The second story, which the movie flits back and forth between with the present day narration, is set in 2009. In this story a young, nubile teenage school girl called Masami falls asleep on a boat trip home and ends up missing her stop thus ends up back on board travelling to where she just came from. She breaks down in tears and is duly consoled by service worker Segawa, who tells a tale of how his childhood goal was to be "A champion of justice".
He describes to her how his father pushed him to become strong and to have Zen training along with martial arts classes. An old couple think he is just making it up for romantic purposes however when the boat gets taken hostage by a bunch of pseudo Christian cultists who think the end is approaching he gets a chance to show his intentions where honest, and practice his skills which he has told us he rarely gets the chance to use.
The third story that the movie tells us of is set in 1974 which covers how the formation of the band Gekirin occurred. This story shows us the typical quarrels between band members with each other and with their manager and their producer over the direction the band should be taking. We also see how the silence in the track was recorded.
Throughout the film the above stories are introduced before switching to the present day in the record shop or switching to another of the stories, and we wonder just what relevance do the seemingly disparate stories have to each other? The film slowly and brilliantly builds up until near the end of the film where all the various little stories mentioned slowly become interweaved with the deftest of touches from director Yoshiro Nakamura. Nothing is overblown or outlandish yet everything is connected brilliantly. I may not have exactly spelled out if a song can save the world and if it can how it can save the world. However by watching the interweaved stories slowly and subtly being brought together, you will learn how a song might just be able to save the world not just in the land of film, but in real life too!
~~~Cast and Acting~~~
The Shop Owner; Okazaki, is played by Kenjiro Ishimaru who manages to portray the hopeful nature of his character very well along with his love for music and his ability to not let seeming destruction get him down which to me very much exemplifies the very best of the human spirit. He does so very well and makes you feel like he is not actually acting which to me is the sign of someone acting extremely well. He even sets just the right tone when he briefly loses his tone over the incessant negativity and doom mongering from Taniguchi, and punches him!
Masashi is played by Gaku Harmada who portrays the shy, submissive young man very well; his face is also just right for the part as he looks very young and is physically small and weak. We see a person who has been intimidated for so long, who wants to stand up for himself but is too scared to. He is very relatable and believable as his character knows physically he is not a match for a lot of men and does not have some ridiculous fantasy confidence that a lot of small, slightly built men in films have which is often unbelievable because of the said fact they would be scared to fight because of getting battered unless they had had martial arts training or something. The part is well written and Gaku's hesitancy for most of the film is pitched at just the right level so as to not be beyond wimpish, nor to be appearing too willing to take on bigger opponents for the character he is meant to be playing.
Masami is played quite well by Mikako Tabe. She does the whole upset at being on a boat she intended to get off thing brilliantly and she has the innocence of youth. However I feel that there is not too much for her part to do other than what she does do. She is by no means bad in fact she is good, but her performance is not the best that there is in this movie.
Taniguchi is played generally extremely well by Kenjiro Ishimaru. Indeed he comes across as a thoroughly miserable git who is very hard to like, as was intended by the director Yoshiro Nakamura. In fact he is worse than a miserable git, he actually wants to be right just so he can tell people he told them so 10 years ago. He manages to make us feel everything from pity at the very start of the movie to anger for most of the movie to pity again when we realise his character has chosen to stop cancer treatment because the world could end. It's a classic case of not being able to stop the preventable death because of focusing so much on that which is not preventable. Indeed he makes such a big deal of the end of the world, yet little of a fatal illness. It seems he can't reason with himself that it doesn't matter how he dies as it's still death. There is however one time Kenjiro slips up, or it could just be a slip from the director, but at one point he gets up and walks about freely even though he was supposedly in need of a Motability scooter and a walking stick, yet he gets up just fine and walks about as if he had nothing wrong with him! That is the only slight criticism of his performance.
My interpretation is that the central theme of the film is that it is a metaphor about death, and how we can choose to react to it, or more generally how we attempt to react to the presence of the potential for tragedy in our lives. We can choose to be foolhardy and totally reject risk, ending up quickly coming unstuck, or we can choose the other extreme and be afraid of our own shadow, of never trying to fight back against the investable path of fate. Finally we can choose to stand up and fight, cautious about risk but taking both risk and tragedy in our stride, choosing to make the most of what time we have got and doing meaningful things, and changing things we have the power to change.
Other notable themes of the film include the need to have hope in order to function and be happy, of not getting hung up on the seeming inevitability of our destruction, choosing to live the lives given to us by nature or the divine for our own enjoyment and doing so in the service of others. Finally a possible major rival theme for title of main theme of the film is the power of music to inspire us and its impact in our lives.
At one point in the film, the band member Goro asks during the recording why such a good record can't mean something to someone. Why can't it reach someone? As the film cleverly shows us the song actually does manage to reach someone, indeed many different people. As the film shows the song does actually manage to reach someone, indeed multiple people. To find out exactly who and how, and the songs wider significance beyond just the small stories, you will have to watch the film! I don't want to over feed the audience everything in the film but instead attempt to get their mouths salivating and their minds intrigued.
The film is a very funny film. The humour in the film is present arises in an understated, not ridiculous way. The humour is subtle and intelligent, more often found in the way characters say something than what they say. Although there are plenty of jovial moments that are amusing on content alone. I don't want to give away all the good lines. However I will refer you to my favourite bit of the film from a comedy standpoint. Grumpy old bugger Taniguchi is telling Okazaki and the young man how the American ship missed the comet with its nuclear missiles and how they are all doomed when shop owner Okazaki says "But look here an Indian ship is attempting to fire nuclear missiles at it"... to which Taniguchi says something like " I didn't even know they had a space ship we're still domed".
As there are so many characters, space for character development is rather short as only a few develop massively, but those that do would be too long to write about from a length perspective, as it might bore you and may disincentivize you from going to see the film as you would already know exactly how they develop and what they are about. So instead I will talk about the traits of a few of the main characters and what I liked and disliked about them and the way the director used them.
I liked the kindness of Masashi, yet disliked his timid and cowardly nature for most of the film, however in the end I liked how he changed through the course of the movie. I was initially sympathetic towards Taniguchi who looked so frail and vulnerable, yet I quickly found myself disliking him as he was always looking on the down side of things and refusing to let the infectious hope and courage of the shop owner and the young man infect him. He becomes someone you just want to scream "get a grip" at, and yet by the end of the film we pity him because he has spent his whole life more concerned with being proven right about the end of the world than living his life and attempting to cause good in the world by helping people. Finally, I really liked the bravery of the service worker on the boat who was a bit of a hero in this film.
The band had reasonable characters, but that story, other than the actual track "Fish Song" and the scene where they record it, did not grip me as much as the other stories did and I would have preferred the pace to be a bit faster at this section and possibly another epic small story thread to have taken some of the time devoted to telling us the story of the band's formation.
The shop owner and young man in the shop stay upbeat throughout, only ever showing fear for a few brief moments towards the end of the film. Their infectious courage in the face of impending doom is highly admirable and shows us a blueprint of how to react to the unexpected, of the extraordinary hope at the heart of the human condition, and their childlike devotion to music is very refreshing in a world where people love things and not people, where people love drugs and not art.
~~~The Song Fish Story~~~
There is not much of a soundtrack to this movie and the songs other than "Fish Story" I did not really pick up on too well during the film. However the song that is meant to save the world is in fact quite a catchy and toe tapping song. It enters with a slow, long, crisp jazz guitar tone playing a sort of blues melody that sounds lush and serene, which is not very punk like at all. However before long, an infectious beat kicks in, a far faster tempo arises, gone are the dulcet, husky, sonorous tones of the lead singer, and in their place are raspy, shouty punk rock vocals that ooze with militancy and rage. It's a very upbeat track and has a great bass riff that really hooks you and some brilliant guitar finger burning solos played at breakneck speed.
The lyrics don't make a lot of sense. However they play a massive role in the film and match beautifully with many of the scenes in which major events occur and you will see just how important the lyrics are in this film when you watch. One of the reasons the lyrics don't seem to make much sense such as "My solitude is like a fish" is explained in the film; again it's not something you want to find out about until you actually see the film. The song fits the key moments in the film brilliantly indeed and in the context of the movie, they do make sense. All in all it's a great little up tempo track that is ever so slightly popish enough that it will be well liked by even people like me who aren't massive punk fans but do love sweet guitar and bass solos and some catchy chorus vocal hooks.
Fish Story is basically a movie about a fictional punk band made up of nearly men, the story of their song and how it came about, which is fused with a lot of other elements such that the whole story becomes much bigger than just a music movie or just an end of the world movie. The film ends up touching the viewer on multiple levels. With such a blend of styles and subject matters in the movie, it's the kind of film that could appeal to everyone and anyone. I especially love how all the little stories are largely interconnected and woven together nicely towards the end of the movie, all of which I did not see coming beyond the fact I had the faintest inkling as the movie progressed, that the stories were going to become interconnected, but did not know how or just quite the extent to which they would become interconnected.
One of the many great things about this film is that a large part of the plot is based on events which conceivably could have actually occurred, even though in reality they did not. In fact, the film fuses the real with the fantasy, the slightly implausible with the plausible, as hopefully any one that watches the film will come to appreciate and love, like I did. Whilst the events are fictional it's easy to see how most of them could occur as they are set in a world very much like the "real" world and not some grandiose futuristic world where people can teleport via de-materialisation!
The movie stylistically for me feels very much like a cleverer and more profound version of a Quentin Tarantino film meets a less sappy yet every bit as stirring, if not more so, romantic drama like Four Weddings and a Funeral. It is a movie that has everything, funny humour, strong acting performances, music, action, believable reactions of the characters and romance. It covers several central themes from the ability of music to touch all our lives in various ways to the way we live our lives, such as not fearing taking a stand as it is only by trying to alter our destiny can we hope to change it. Above all it is a movie which ties together nicely, never lets you guess ahead of time what is going to happen and has several emotional, poignant scenes that will make your eyes literally water, as mine did!
It does what a truly great film is supposed to do, transport us to another world, and in this case it manages to transport us to such a world which is largely like our own, and in doing so gives us hope that we may be able to achieve some good in our world which helps to change the course of history in a favourable direction. It's an escapist film and yet it manages to do so whilst keeping itself very believable and making the audience feel as if the events in this film could happen to anyone. It makes a point about how we are all connected together and how our actions can have a domino effect for both good and bad.
~~~Would I recommend?~~~
Yes films like this are few and far between, I watch many trailers and only ever fancy between 1 in 20 and 2 in 8 (depending on quality at a given time of year) of which most are only good or modest, some are actually poor and some are great, but this is another level up from great. Life of Pi, The Guardians and There's Something About Mary, those were great films. However this film is something even rarer than that, this is an astounding film. A film that makes you want to take back the word "masterpiece" from many great movies, cause only the 0.1% club deserves that title!
This film is so good that I put it up there with Mississippi Burning or..... Actually I'm struggling to come up with another one! I do know of one film but can't recall its name. It gets 6 out of 5 Dooyoo stars from me. A hidden masterpiece if ever there was one!
A region 2 version DVD, the format used in Europe and the UK, can be purchased just now on Amazon for £8.46. I paid nothing as it was on the television. I thoroughly recommend you buy this DVD because you will not be disappointed, unless you really dislike multi-interconnected story type movies.
This review appears on ciao under my user name "newprideexperiadj2".
Life of Pi is a film released to cinema in 2012. It is directed by Ang Lee, who was brought up as a Buddhist (Source Wikipedia), who has had several diverse films such as "Sense and Sensibility" and "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon". In his short catalogue of films he has covered every genre from Drama to Action and everything in Between. Life of Pi genre wise is hard to class with the best description I could give it is that it's a philosophical fantasy drama but that's a rather ungainly way to classify things, perhaps apt though as life itself can be rather ungainly and nigh impossible to put in a box.
The story of the Life of Pi is told using various methods, the principle one being an adult Pi reminiscing on his life as a young boy and young man; he does so as he is talking over a cup of tea to a young man who is interested to know the story of his life. The story he weaves is outlined below.
Pi begins by introducing us to the protagonist, himself, Piscine Patel a young boy in India with an eccentric uncle, whom loves swimming and strange clothes. He decides to change his name to Pi (played by Suraj Sharma at age 16 and Irrfan Khan as an adult) as his classmates call him "Pissing" Patel due to the homophonic nature of the French word for swimming pool "Piscine", which he is named after, and the word to pee "piss" which is obviously very amusing for young tweens and teens.
Early on in the story the nature of Pi's personality is quickly apparent, we see a character who is very sensitive about nature and whom is very intellectual. He is raised a Hindu by his mother (played by Tabassum Hashimi) but his father (played by Adil Hussain) is militantly secularist and "rational" to the point of being "irrational". His mum explains this at one point where she says, paraphrasing "science can explain the external, what's out there, but it cannot explain the internal, what's in the heart".
There is tension in the film between father and son, and mother and husband, for most of the film there is a titanic battle of wits between one way of viewing the world, as emotional and mysterious, and another as being robotic, predictive, and absolutely determinable and knowable; and never the twain shall meet or shall they?
As the film progresses we see Pi become first a dual Hindu and Catholic and next a tripe religionist when he becomes a Muslim, all the time his meal time rituals of prayer get a little longer, much to his father's annoyance. His conversion to Islam seems to most annoy his father perhaps even showing that although his father is atheist that some extra cultural tension still exists between atheists brought up as Hindu's and Muslims.
Pi falls for a girl at a Hindu dance class, where he spots that she is not following the same routine as the others; that she has added embellishments which seem aimed at him. Just as the precocious love between Pi and the beautiful, nubile girl is developing Pi find's out that his family have plans to move to Canada because they are not making a decent living off of the Zoo Pi's farther owns.
They then board a gigantic ship called "Tsistsum", and unlike one "professional" film critic who pondered why this film had "random" Japanese people in it, the name of the ship gives it away. Also on board the ship are all the various animals Pi's Father owns, including the tiger called "Mr Parker". Whilst at sea there is a massive storm which shows of the films stunning visuals and atmospheric music which causes the audience to feel rather on edge.
Pi tells us that the ship sinks and he is left stranded on a boat all alone, or so he thinks, he discovers a tiger on board, whom we assume is Mr Parker although Pi's Father did have other tigers on board the ship when it capsized. Not only is there a Bengal Tiger on board the ship there is also an Orangutan, an injured Zebra and a Hyena.
Much of the film then deals with Pi out at sea, and how he manages to Survive on Board with the animals and most especially the threatening Bengal Tiger. When at sea there are lovely scenes of Pi looking at shimmering, shinning jelly fish, scenes with Pi questioning God. Why he has left him to be on his own in the middle of a storm with no food and a tiger to feed?
There are humorous scenes where he scatters from the tiger as he attempts to train it using fish and a whistle. We also, significantly see a scene where he jots down notes in a journal and reads a survival manual. The film manages to make us fear for Pi's safety early on even though we know he must be ok as he is narrating the story to us, I was still on the edge of my seat thinking the tiger was going to eat him!
Eventually, when Pi is exhausted and losing strength, he wakes up on a beach. Pi is found by some Mexican men and though he is relived to be found he is worried about where Richard Parker has gone, he looks around and can't find him anywhere then he spots him looking at him before he wanders off into the jungle. On seeing Richard Parker fail to acknowledge him he breaks down weeping because he feels Richard Parker has abandoned him, that their time together meant nothing to him, mostly it's the lack of getting to say a proper farewell that hurts the most.
The movie cuts to a scene where Pi is in hospital and is being interviewed by some insurance men who want to know what happened to the boat he tells them the story of the tiger, the fish, the magical floating island, and they find it all too much to take, so he tells an alternative, less fantastical and much more dark story, which they also do not like hearing and they tell him that they will go with the first story.
The viewer is not told which story is really true or even if somehow elements of both stories are true. We do not know what Richard Parker would have done if his dad had not saved his son when Pi was trying to bond with it prior to setting sail to Canada.
~~~What's in a name?~~~
The name "Pi" is significant because it is a Greek letter used to represent an irrational number which appears many time in nature from the result of the circumference of a circle divided by its radius, to the average "meandering ratio" of rivers also approaches pi and the inclusion of the variable Pi in Heisenberg's uncertainty principle (source: http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/2761​-what-makes-pi-special.html). In the context of the film it is very appropriate as was described in the plot section and will be further exemplified and explored in the character development section. Pi is a philosophical thinker and intellectual and he takes the philosophical view that the ubiquitous nature of Pi is part of some deeper, magical, truth about the nature of reality, and not simply random, absurdist, chance as some philosophisers will assert.
As mentioned earlier the film is highly philosophical, emotional and psychological. It ponders questions of such universal and unresolvable nature as what it is to be human and is the cosmos possible to reduce to a series of particles and random total entropy increases which somehow lead to paradoxical systems of ever more order in the macro and micro scale or is it only apparently random to the observer; and only measurable through a distorted lens, such that true reality is not measurable, and somewhat imperceptible.
The father believes himself to be a rationalist and thinks his son and wife are misguided for taking a different philosophical take on the nature of life where they believe the external to be of worth but so too do they believe the internal to be of value and they see it as a different aspect of reality than that which is tangible and knowable. Although for much of the film we are portrayed with a very hard Father figure who is in conflict with his son and his wife as the film develops we see occasions where he temporarily disposes of his almost robotic like personality in order to help his family. He shows that intangible quality he would regard as not existing; love.
Such an occasion in this film, which is a very poignant moment in the flim, is where Pi is looking into the eyes of a tigers his father owns called Mr Parker and he seems to be bonding with it, as he feels the tiger has a soul, when his father deeply concerned for his son's well-being rushes in and shows his son the tiger eating a goat to hammer his point home about animals acting purely out of instinct. And yet whilst this is shown to be correct on one occasion, it was also not proven to be false in the prior occasion as the film leaves you wondering what if the father had not rushed into "save" his son.
It does show that despite his father's attempt to deal purely in rationalism, beneath it all there is still a human who loves his son and wife very dearly and who just wants what he sees as best for them and who is acting on emotions not rationalism as if he was truly rationalist he would not want to save people from their supposed "irrationality", because in many absolute rationalists world such feelings as love are all just chemical illusions and there is no distinction between the external and internal, between observation of reality and its absolute nature.
The Father also shows such endearing human qualities of love and affection in the scene where he stands up to the cooks derogatory comments about his son and his wife. These help to form more of a bond between the audience and Pi's Father as well as acting as a self-expose of the flaws of absolute rationalism, in an absolute rationalists world there is no place for human emotions and empathy as such things are not "real".
As for Pi he goes from being an idealistic religionist believing in a magical universe and unknowable cosmos to a pragmatic religionist whom sees a darker side to the world and the cosmos and to his own nature. His faith is undoubtedly questioned throughout his ordeal on the boat yet he says, in answer to the man he is having a conversation with in the film asking him if he has any doubts, "Oh plenty, on every floor. Doubt is useful; it keeps faith a living thing. After all you cannot know the strength of your faith until it is tested".
One point or two in the film which I did feel needed more flesh to the meat of the characters where the characters of the brothers and uncle. Personally I did not really fully get the uncles purpose in the film other than to let us know why Pi was named Piscine and what kind of man his uncle was beyond the superficial. As for his brothers they looked fairly similar to Pi and seemed to often joke at his expense however their characters felt a little hollow and hard to identify with.
~~~Graphics and Score~~~
The film is visually stunning, especially when Pi is shipwrecked on the boat with the Bengal Tiger, Mr Parker. We see luminescent jellyfish, flying fish, a massive shark (or is it a whale? I'm not down on my wildlife) and a magical, mystical starry sky which looks just iridescent and a daytime sky which also looks very pretty and inviting. I watched it in 3d and it was a magnificent visual feat, which really draws the viewer in and takes them to a magical, magnificent, majestic world and what's more it paints a fantasy landscape really well whilst feeling so real you can touch it and being just ever so slightly beyond human experience that you can reach out and say "yeah this could definitely happen".
It's a bit like faith itself, to those people who have faith, it is often described as beginning with a small step into the unknown and so to do the magical visuals take the viewer into a small step into the unknown yet are not so overblown such as to become off putting or unrealistic. There are points in the film where the sky actually looks like an eye, and rays come down as if influenced by the divine itself.
The music is just superb, it fits the given scene's very well with tense scene's having dark foreboding music and sentimental scenes having emotional, profound, heart lifting music, indeed the music adds tremendously to a film which was already a ferocious assault on the sense and it even won awards, apparently, for best score 2012 (source Wikipedia). It's not hard to see why, to be honest!
~~~My take on the meaning of the film and its enjoyment factor~~~
This was a film I just loved; I loved the early, slow build-up of the film and the later rush of adventure that was injected almost out of nowhere. I really identified with the lead character Pi as I saw a lot of myself in him to be honest. The early scenes had a very French cinema vibe to them which was nice and quirky. I found myself laughing at him being called "Piscine" and likewise with the antics of him and his fellow pupil's at school and the funny scenes with the tiger as he tries to train it.
I found myself being drawn in by the brief love story and hoping he succeeds and intrigued by the ideological clashes between him and his father and enjoying a portrayal where religion is not stereotyped as being a source of division and where the secularists are not stereotyped as being somehow more compassionate and necessary for humanity than religionists as both have their flaws and positives. I however especially liked the message of the film, which to me was vaguely "you need both science and emotion, prediction and hope to live in a peaceful, enlightened world."
##########Spoiler, Only Read if you have seen the film##########
The twist in the film really challenges you and my take is that both stories are true, instead of the simplistic assumption that the second story was reality and the first story sheer fantasy. The first story tells us how one can psychologically change when put under great stress and is a look at the inward emotions of Pi, the second story is a look at the outward actions of Pi. So really the story is more a metaphor for Pi's emotions, in my view, than it is a straight allegory of the actual events. Yes the actual events happened but so to do did various changes in Pi's emotional and psychological state.
#####################End Of Spoiler#####################
All throughout the film there are loose ends and open ended questions, does Pi marry his girlfriend? How true is either story? What is it to be human? Is the film against or for religion or spiritualism? What was his uncle really like deep down?
The film very much feels like it gives validity to those religions or logic systems who state "you create your own reality" as with this film the viewer's perception of the film is key and I have seen everything from people who take the film as promotion of religion to those who think it belittles it and these two views are held by people on either side of the argument; who think it either promotes or belittles there stance.
My own take is far more inconclusive, and perhaps more realistic, that is it is quite neutral on religion with possibly it being slightly pro spiritualism and certainly at no point does the director disparage nor aggressively promote religious belief. In a world full of films with blatant propaganda messages for or against a given subject, it's nice to have an open minded, tolerant film which asks the person to challenge themselves, why is it they believe in a god or why is it they are so sure one can't exist? I feel such an unresolved tale is very much like the nature of the subjects the film explores, unresolved and very likely unresolvable. As adult Pi say's "Why does it have to have any meaning?"
Life of Pi is a beautifully crafted film with good humour, magical, engrossing visuals and a fantasy world that feels so real and plausible you could touch it. Though the impressive CGI and stirring sound track are elegant and imposing elements of this film, the dialogue and relationships between characters is just as impressive and the acting is of a high standard. The most enjoyable part, for me, is the life at sea part which really makes the film although the early character development sets the scene for said adventure brilliantly.
It is a film which captures the imagination of childhood for me as Pi as a child is very funny and bursts with personality yet by the time he is much older as an adult this has died down somewhat yet is still there more subtly.
I'd thoroughly recommend this film as it takes you into a world full of wonder, beauty and hope yet it is also incredibly dark, dramatic and tragic. It's like life itself, great yet depressing, beautiful yet horrific. The film offers no easy, clear or tripe answers, as like life itself the nature of the subject material this film ponders is ungainly, challenging and almost impossible to make conform to one way of viewing and interpreting things. Perhaps the greatest achievement of this film is its quite admiration of the unknowable which reflects very much the Buddhist philosophy that director Ang Lee was brought up with.
If you want a film with stunning visuals, characters you can relate to, and with a serious, deep story behind it, then this is one I really, really can't emphasise enough that you should go to see this film. For me it's a five star master piece, and I loved nearly everything about it.
I paid seven pounds for it in my local 3d cinema and found the price to be well worth what I saw. If you can get it on DVD or Blue Ray for less than 10 pounds I'd say go for it!
This Review also appears on Ciao under my "newprideexperiadj2" user name
Birds Eye Potato Waffles
Birds Eye Potato Waffles come in a box with a mainly red background. The front of the box has a small strip of sky with birds at the very top of the box below this their is a green smile shape above which the words "Birds Eye" are printed in white. To the right of this section is a section with "The Original Potato Waffles" printed in yellow text behind which a silhouette of a waffle sits. Finally at the bottom left corner there is a picture of a scrumptious looking egg on a potato waffle and in the bottom right the nutritional information is printed. It's not the most eye catching design save for the succulent looking egg plastered on the waffle which does help to attract the consumers attention somewhat and make them think of food.
~~~Taste and Texture~~~
These waffles taste very firmly of potato and are quite like a chip but not completely as they are also a little bit like a hash brown, halfway between a chip and a hash brown is how they taste to me. On there own they do not have the strongest taste and are a little dry, especially for me after my saliva glands have been damaged, however when eaten with something they taste really delicious and scrumptious the potato flavour really does burst into life. The texture is quite soft but a little bit gloopier than a chip thus I find them a little bit too dry on their own and so on their own I would need a drink to help me break them down. The great thing about these waffles is they taste really delicious without any salt. I tend to eat them with beans and fish fingers or vegetable samosas. I find with beans they are very moreish as the crispy yet soft texture is just delicious to eat and the scrumptiousness of the potato carbohydrates just invigorates the taste buds whilst not tasting of anything in particular other than potato. The first bite you take into a waffle that has been moistened with some juice from beans is quite a crispy one and then the waffle just effervesces and dissipates in your mouth which is a very gratifying experience.
~~~When to eat?~~~
The great thing about potato waffles is that an individual waffle is quite light so can be eaten at any time of the day, for example a breakfast could consist of one waffle, a small portion of beans and an egg. If you want to have lunch using waffles, you can easily do so by increasing the number of waffles you eat. So a lunch could consist of 2 waffles, a slightly bigger portion of beans and an egg or two. Finally they can be used as part of a main meal at dinner time, such a meal could consist of as much as four waffles, some beans or spaghetti and some potatoes and butter with a bit of broccoli.
~~~What to eat?~~~
Waffles are especially dry for me on there own and so I can not, now, eat them very well on there own. However even when I could eat them on their own I found them to dry to the taste buds for such to be desirable. They have been designed to be an accompaniment to a meal much like how chance dictated that potatoes themselves are an accompaniment to a meal. Things that go really well with waffles are eggs (the yolk really tastes nice on a waffle), beans, spaghetti and curry! Yes curry, anything with a little bit of sauce to moisten the waffle really tastes nice as it seems to make the waffle morph from a food which is dry, bland and unappetising to one which is succulent, scrumptious and salivating. One of my favourites of the afore mentioned list used to be eggs and waffle and that was a delicious combo and was a nice change from eating waffles and beans with something else. Sadly now I can't enjoys said combo because of the damage to my salivary glands which do still work but not as well as before, the egg just doesn't provide enough moisture. But for most normal folks if you haven't had Potato Waffles and egg I really recommend you try it, its delicious!
~~~How to eat? And Nutritional Information~~~
Waffles contain a lot of carbs per individual waffle contains 13 grams of carbs which is a lot indeed I typically will have 3 for my main meal which is a massive 39g of carbs which is 30% of the RDA for an average man (130g) so will be a decent bit more for me as I am not "average". With such a high carb content waffles should only be consumed as part of a balanced diet and you will want to make sure you're other meals are not full of carbs and ideally it would be best to limit eating these waffles to one time a day (or twice if its breakfast and lunch when you eat them). Definitely do not eat more than 5 of these a day as you will get fat and possibly have a lot of other complications.
Each waffle as mentioned contains 13 grams of carbohydrates, it also contains 1.5 grams of protein (decent but as a protein to fat ratio is less than 1 which is very poor!) and an unhealthy 5g of fat though remarkably only 0.6 grams of these are saturated (which is a very healthy ratio and absolute number), finally the total energy content per waffle is 105 kcal which works out at 315 kcal for a typical 3 waffle meal, these waffles alone provide the average man with 12.5% of their total calorie requirements (2500Kcal) which is quite a substantial amount.
~~~Cost of eating?~~~
A ten pack of waffles costs £1.00 from Tesco online which is a very good deal as it works out as only 10 p per waffle. As the most I get through is 4 a day that's only 40p for the bulk of one of my meals which means I am not having to buy other things. However the actual price I paid for my last 10 pack from my local Tesco's was £1.80 which is nearly double the price and works out at 18p per waffle or 72p per meal which is still great for something that forms at least half of a lot of meals I have.
~~~Is Bird Eyes Potato Waffles Recommended Eating?~~~
Yes I absolutely would recommend you try these, they work out as a cheap way of boosting a meal and saving resources for more health conscious items like fish and vegetables. On their own they are a little bland and far to dry however with an egg, some beans or some curry they truly come into their own with a scrumptious rich tasting potato taste which just makes you yearn for more aided by a texture which gives a crisp first bite even when dampened by sauce and then gives a dissolving sensation that is really satisfying. Overall I give them 4 out of 5 Dooyoo Stars.
Thanks for reading my review, this review may appear on ciao under "newprideexperiadj2"
Finally (C) thespacebetween2 !
U2: The Unforgettable fire
This album was released in 1984 and is the fourth album of U2's extensive s catalogue.
1. A sort of homecoming
A nice guitar track with ambiguous lyrics which seem to hint both at passing on to heaven with lines like "she will die and live again" and "across the fields of mourning to a light that's in the distance" but also hints at Irelands potato famine and later the troubles with lines like "the city walls are all come down the dust a smoke screen all around see faces ploughed like fields that once gave no resistance" the first part here is referring to the song "Guard Old Derry's walls" with the second part referring to either the potato famine that caused much death or simply referring to having lines on the face due to conflict. I like the lyrics but don't find the tune or melodies to be particularly distinct.
2. Pride (In the Name of Love)
A really nice song which evokes images of religion "one man betrayed by a kiss" and is about people who offered non-violent resistance against injustice and who were killed for trying to promote kindness and decency among people. Overall its one of the few songs on this album that I enjoyed and actually sing to. It's also one of the few songs with a clearly positive message. The chorus is really catchy and the song is well known for even non U2 fans.
The song begins with a dark sounding spacey guitar riff, before the main vocals enter. There is a powerful bass in the song and some nice tremolo reverbed guitar chord stabs. There is also ultra fast palm muted guitar notes playing as a backing riff at points in the song. The drum beat is fast and aggressive sounding and shakers accompany the palm muted guitar riff which work very well. I like the vocal ahs and oohs in the song at about 2 minutes 50 seconds. Whilst it's an up-tempo song and has a smoky, dusky feel to many of the guitar riffs and interludes vocally and lyrically I am not impressed, especially when compared to the Epicness of the last track "Pride (In the Name of Love)" . I find the singing to be a bit whiney, and the song lacks a catchy, clearly defined chorus and indeed seems to be made up of different sections that just sort of come in and out. Lyrically it's not particularly profound or interesting, as the song is about a friend who has a drug addict who wants to cause harm to themselves but the singer wants to prevent it. I just find songs about such topics unoriginal, and out with my own experiences, thankfully. Further whilst many songs could be out with the listeners experience a lot of them would make the listener want to listen but to me drugs and such are very boring topics I have no desire to engage with.
4. Unforgettable fire:
The song starts with some nice quiet ah synth sounds and piano like glassy guitar tones that sound very dark yet tranquil at the same time. Then the bass enters and the synth ah pad's and sweet sounds get some what louder and a little darker. At 1 minute 16 the short chorus begins and at 1 minute 30 or so we here some lovely iridescent synths and guitar playing that is haunting, tense and foreboding all at once. The bass is deep and pulsing, the fluttery guitar synthy sounding sequences at times sounds very like what I would imagine water to sound like if it had a sound which is quite clever as at one point around the times it plays, the lyrics mention water. I personally really like the ultra dark, heavily reverbed, smooth guitar tone that plays long slow legato notes in this track.
It is a great track musically which stirs the soul and is mathematically just a source of serious beauty and mystery such that it engages the emotions and makes one wonder about the metaphysical and philosophical questions of life, as truly great music does. I love the dark stabs string stabs at 3 minutes 15 or so which are very dark and ferocious sounding. The song is more catchy than a lot of the other songs on the album and the singing is less whiney and more pleasant and interesting tonally to the ear.
Lyrically its far superior to the previous track and is actually quite deep.
My favourite excerpt is given below:
"Stay in this time
Stay tonight in
Ever after, this love in time
And if you save your love
Save it all
Don't push me too far
Don't push me too far
What this is basically saying is that a friend is rebuking the advances of some one of the opposite sex whom they just don't feel attracted to. "Don't push me too far, tonight" is possibly saying that they are not ready to try a relationship with the person making advances. The song also has biblical implications as it seems to be about a god unhappy with his creation and a person pleading with their god to not give up on loving all his creation instead of only loving those who try to follow the path of empathy and kindness.
And can be seen clearly in:
"And if the mountain should crumble
Or disappear into the sea
Not a tear, no not I"
Where its saying god doesn't shed a tear for the destruction of a wicked world, it also sounds a little like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Old Testament for the sin of being unwelcoming to strangers and violent.
The song starts with more delayed and reverbed guitars, and at an initially slow tempo with no drum beat but slowly the drum beat enters, then trumpets enter and the vocals are very nice in this track and for some reason remind me of "Vida la Vida" by Coldplay, ever so slightly. Compared to the more uptempo and upbeat "the Unforgettable Fire" this track is quite slow and mellow. It doesn't really grab me very much and is another quite bland track though not as bland as "Wire" which I found very monotonous. It is also, cleverly played at walking pace and I did think that was nice, but like the lyrics of this track is a somewhat superficial gimmick as the lyrics sound poetic but are very much extemporaneous and have no real meaning behind them, if analysed. The track is also very short in comparison to the track preceding it; 2 minutes 35 and 4 minutes 55 respectively.
6. 4th of July
The song enters at a very laid back pace and has a sort of delayed timing feel to it. It features guitar slides, heavily reverbed and delayed sonorous sounding guitar notes, ethereal, serene synth pads and synth Fx's as well as a slow meandering acoustic bass guitar. The song is a very chilled and tranquil, atmospheric instrumental. It is a track which I really enjoy listening to even though it has no words. The official reason given for the name of the track is that it commemorates the Birth of band member "Edge's" daughter "Holly" (source Wikipedia) yet it is interesting because this is the day America won its independence from Britain. The song lasts a mere 2 minutes 12 seconds.
The track again enters slow with glistening delayed guitars, slightly higher than other tracks and more sparkly sounding than moody. Slowly it builds up into a crescendo of noise as first a palm muted backing guitar enters quietly in the back ground and a soft drum beat with soft kicks and gentle hi hat hits. At 2 minutes 20 or so Bono sings some lovely scat words. The song has a simple meaning about people addicted to things, it could be a drug but it could be anything for example social media or exercising.
"If I could, you know I would
If I could, I would
Let it go..."
The song clearly says the person, the addict, if they could give up whatever their bad habit is and then explains why they would fall into addiction such as being isolated or looking for some meaning in life and also how their addiction can lead to condemnation. It's a nice track played just ever so slightly slower than the 120 beats per minute "average" track. One of the better ones on this album. It is a long track at 6 minutes 9 seconds.
8. Indian Summer Sky:
This track enters with a very deep bass and has a very dark, mysterious, Machiavellian, nebulous vibe to it. I like the gentle, vibrating, square wave synth tone at 1 minute 22 that plays a descending rapid trill pattern. There is again much synth pad euphonic sounds which are simultaneously nefarious sounding in this track and a deep memorable electric bass riff. I find the chorus in this song quite catchy as well as the faster than average beat and instrumentation which builds a sense of musical tension in the song though that is never really released with say a screaming, mellifluous, pentatonic guitar solo none the less it's a good track and one of the plus points of the album for me. The lyrics are actually quite intriguing and I interpret them to mean the last day of life of a person who has lived a long life and who hungers to leave the physical world and go to the spiritual realm, be that heaven or Valhalla.
"In the forest, there's a clearing
I run there towards the light
It's a blue sky"
The life of a person is metaphorically like a forest, where you can't see the meaning for the trees and the physical constraints on the way a person's brain thinks because there are apart of science and not apart from it. The light is death, is the hope of a better and deeper life after death, where all the misunderstood aspects of the cosmos will be resolved.
"You give yourself to this the longest day
You give yourself, you give it all away"
Means the person no longer hungers for materialistic things instead hoping, or knowing that they will have far greater riches after death. This song lasts for 4 minutes 17 seconds.
9. Elvis Pressley and America
Is a simple song about Elvis Losing his daughter and the consequences of riches and fame causing you to lose what's most real and important, of objects that are not objects and cannot be priced up. I find it however quiet boring even though I like the soft drum beat, strings and acoustic guitar in this track and it's a nice break to have a track with little delayed guitars on it for a change. It is a decent background music track but really does not have a catchy chorus and the verse and chorus are almost totally indeterminable from each other. Whilst it has nice ethereal pad sounds in it, most of the time I find myself switching of when this track comes on, and at 6 minutes 27 its no wonder why. The tremolo vibrato phased guitar chords can't save this track from boring me, even though I love said phased guitar tones, the slow tempo does not help the tracks cause.
The song enters with a sustained ethereal warm sounding synth pad and some lovely mellifluous, delayed vocals, which are song in a very dulcet, almost sickly sweet tone. A very simple song with no over production, its nearly totally accapella , and its message is about Martin Luther King, its wanting his ideas, to rain down on us. "And may you're dreams be realized" is a reference to MLK's Speech where he declares "Let a man not be judged by the colour of the skin but the content of their character". It's also something which sometimes the left in America, in particular, forgets with praising people or criticising people solely based on their skin colour rather than their morals and actions. It's a short but sweet song at only 151 seconds, much like the nature of the song itself. Another Plus for me.
* Pride (In the Name of Love), deep lyrics, a positive message and a catchy chorus
* Unforgetable Fire, lovely instrumentation, deep multi-layered lyrics
* MLK and Indian Summer Sky, haunting tracks with a serene and edgy vibe respectively
* Wire, rather whiny vocals, uninspired lyrics, boring track
* Elvis Pressley and America, decent instrumentation but spectacularly boring vocal melody and is very long but played at a very slow pace, always lose interest in it.
I got it for £7 as a birthday present though the CD can currently be bought of amazon for £3.40 which is good value, especially if this is your kind of music or if you are a U2 fan.
Would I recommend?
It depends, for the price paid for it for me, and if you are not a massive U2 fan then I would say no it was not worth the seven pounds however for £3.40 then it's definitely worth it even for the casual U2 fan and people who just like the track "In the name of Love" which is one of U2's biggest hits along with "Beautiful Day". I rate it 2.5 ciao stars which of course has to be rounded up in the star rating.
This review will also appear on ciao under the user name "newprideexperiadj2"
Walkers Cheddar and Onion Crinkles
Walkers Cheddar and Onion Crinkles, come in a bag which has a cream colour as the background in the top one fifth of the bag and has in this area a circle with a golden sun coloured orb that contains a wavy red banner with the text "WALKERS" streaked in white. The bottom four fifths of the bag has a dark sky blue background with the words "CRINKLES", "MORE FLAVOUR IN EVERY GROOVE" displayed in the creamy colour used as the background for the top half of the bag and the words "CHEDDAR AND ONION" are written in yellow below these words in a smaller font. Below all the words is a picture of the crisps contained in the bag which you can clearly see are irregular slightly undulating crisps with no sharp points and with four or five grooves per crisp. Finally in the bottom left is all the nutritional information clearly laid out to aid the consumer in making healthy choices.
It's a nice design, with a very oceanic feel to it and it suits this relatively new product well as it has a feel of modernity about it yet familiarity with the past. It states to the consumer "this product is a natural evolution not revolution of what came before; it serves not to break ties with the past that bind us together". I think it reassures the consumer that what they are getting is something familiar yet also excites them into buying because it's not totally conservative, it's managed risk.
~~~Appearance, Taste and Texture~~~
The crisps are all quite irregular shapes, but they are the same irregular shape. They are a light yellow colour with some being a little orange to the point of being a light bronze colour. They are darker than regular cheese and onion crisps from walkers but they are not as boldly orange as the Cheese and onion crisps from Golden Wonders. Each crisp has four or five grooves in the crisps which are quite interesting to eat.
They taste very strongly of cheese but not so strongly that it is overbearing or off putting, that said the cheddar used in these Crinkle crisps is not exactly like your cold cheddar cheeses it's much more like a regular cheese flavour found in most cheese crisps with just a little cheddar edge.
The crisps also tasted quite salted, which gives a really scrumptious taste which is quite moreish however the salting is not so extreme as to make you thirsty, the amount of salt in these crisps is weighted just right to give you a lovely, yummy tasting crisp. It contains0.3 5g of salt which is permissible from a health consideration as its just over 5% of your RDA of salt which leaves lots of margin for error in respect of salt consumption in your diet. (Salt RDA is quite fixed and nearly independent of size and sex).
The onion in this crisp is quite a subtle base flavour that melds in well with the salt and cheddar cheese in this crisp. It is there in the background but is not a prominent taste, just a subtle note you can taste throughout each crisp.The distribution of the flavours is good as well as the whole crisp tastes the same, like Golden Wonder, where each part of the crisp has a constant distribution of cheddar, salt and onion flavours such that you don't end up with one part of the crisp that tastes too cheesy or too strongly of onions and other areas devoid of onions or cheddar.
Texture wise each crisp just dissolves on biting and is hard enough to give you crunch but soft enough to be very easy to eat and effervesce in the mouth whilst the taste gently strokes the taste buds, not exploding into life like golden wonder but not dying either like so many other brands. Overall I am very impressed with the taste and texture of the crisp which just dissolves in the mouth and is not far behind Golden Wonder in terms of being crispy yet smooth, crunchy yet soft.
Per individual bag in my local co-op its 70p for a 28g bag and similar sized bag of Walker's Cheese and Onion is the same price but golden wonder is 60p for a 25g bag. Thus it is slightly dearer than Golden Wonder for an individual bag but a 6 pack is on offer at Tesco right now for 89p which is very, very good value and better than the £1.48 for 6 as of the time of writing, available from Tesco online. However from memory normally they are slightly dearer than golden wonder multi pack and this is confirmed by the fact that on Tesco online the regular price is £1.89 for a 6 pack however you are getting 3g extra per bag which is 18g or over half a bag extra, it's still dearer but only around 20p or so not the initial 41p difference assumed.
Whilst they are on the special offer they offer exceptional value with one pack costing only 13.333p (Tesco online). Compared to 70p for a single bag as a non-multi pack! Clearly multi packs are the way to go however if you are feeling snackish and your local paper shop doesn't stock Golden Wonder individual bags, these are a good alternative and definitely superior to regular Walker's cheese and onion crisps which have less taste and are a little too crunchy and still taste soggy.
~~~Nutrition, Ingredients ~~~
This product contains 9g of fat per bag which is still fairly high but only 0.8g of saturated which is healthier than a lot of crisps out there. There are 14.4 g of carbs per bag and 1.7g of protein and as mentioned earlier there are 0.35g of salt per pack which is fairly typical of most bags of crisps, yet it manages to taste very salty indeed! Each bag provides 150 kcals. There are healthier snacks out there indeed Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps contain slightly less saturated fat per bag, similar salt and slightly less carbs and calories per bag.
The product contains sunflower oil (26%), Rapeseed oil and cheddar and onion seasoning. The seasoning is made up of among other things; dried milk, whey, salt, sugar, dried cheese and milk lactose. Thus as with many things this may not be suitable for those with lactose intolerance, bigoted cowists!
~~~ Would I recommend? ~~~
Absolutely one hundred percent yes. They have a taste and texture to rival Golden Wonder and they are a big step up from the traditional Walkers Cheese and Onion fare which had soggy yet jaggy texture, not so with these bad boys. They offer crunch and bite whilst managing to be silky smooth at the same time yet not damp or moist tasting. Cost wise they are generally dearer on an individual basis or multi pack basis than golden wonder however when on special offer they can be cheaper than golden wonder and it is then I would snap em up. In a straight fight with Golden Wonder they still lose, but not by much and most of the time it will be cheaper to buy Golden Wonder too so its not even a straight fight. However when the dice are loaded in their favour price wise I'd have no hesitation going for these as they are delicious.
I would always go for these over the regular Walkers Cheese and Onion Crisps which are simply made redundant by this product which is of similar nutritional worth, tastes as good (better in my opinion) and has a far more delicate, desirable texture than the regular Walkers Crisps. They are an evolution of Walkers Regular crisps and I'd give em 5 stars, very few cheese and onion crisps can even come close.