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Ok, I found a decetnly tacky italian title for this review - that's one job out of the way I guess. Now for the restaurants. I'll start by saying that I love Italian food, the way it is served in Britain. The food tastes better in Italy but the way they eat everything seperate really bugs me. I want my meat with my veg sometimes! Bella is very Italian, there is little else on the (centrally set) menu. So if you don't like Italian, you can write it off your list. If you do like Italian you will fare pretty well here. The menu is kind of rigid - the sort of inflexibility you would expect from a chain restaurant. But having said that, do not be put off. They try hard to spread the menu in a lot of areas so that cheeses, wines, seafood, pasta and pizza are all covered, if not in detail. The ice creams, the other good reason to eat Italian, are alright but not perfect. The ambience of each of these Bella's is the same - if you want an example try to tell the difference between the two in Leicester Square! But then again, it's no worse than a pizza hut or express pizza in that respect. I ate Bella in London because I was on a budget and the prices are always at Pizza Hut levels without the place being quite as common as even the most upmarket Pizza Hut seems. Overall, service is usually average, food on the good side of average, the menu fairly steady and the bill reasonably light. If you want a really cracking Italian treat in London then look for Tuttons in Covent Garden - whilst ludicrously expensive and not a through-and-through Italian, they will cook you whatever you like and their Italian dishes are heaven. Bella Pasta is mass-Italian on a budget, but fits the market segment well.
People have been hailing this as an ultimate chick flick. But with five gorgeous women playing the leads and only the odd bloke in the background scenery, I think this film has got plenty to offer guys too! The story is pretty soft, all things considered, and from that front, yes, it could suit the ladies. After-all, it is all about a country-girl who hits NYC with a dream and gets there despite a rough ride at the start. The bar she ends up working in is full of barmaid/dancers called 'Coyotes' who serve the bar's clientele with eye candy as well as expensive beverages. OK, so it isn't an original idea and it isn't attacked from any new direction at all. It's a sappy plot line and some nice women thrown in to keep it afloat. But somehow I thought it worked. I actually quite liked it as a movie - or perhaps I just didn't hate it.
I remember being worried when I was heading to New York. I wasn't worried about the crime or being mugged. I wasn't worried about talking to the cab drivers in some strange pseudo-american, nor about getting lost on the easy to remember streets. I was worried simply that it wouldn't live up to expectations. I needn't have fret. Whilst being the backdrop to most of my favourite telly programmes and films, New York surpassed my very high expectations. But not from the building - the drive from John F Kennedy airport left me thinking I had flown to a slum - until I went over a hill in Queens and saw Manhattan's skyline. You have to lean your head out of the cab window to catch it all. It's a wonderful sight. You feel like you're in a movie. New York is the best of most worlds: it is one of those cities that you can enjoy just walking around aimlessly, observing the hussle around you and the vibrant street life, but also has so many things to see and to - all excellent with few exeptions - you wouldn't do everything if you stayed a year. I spent only 3 days there and have longed for the Big Apple ever since. During my three nights on the 21st floor of the Wellington Hotel (57th and 5th, 3 star, not plush but oddly spacious for NYC) I saw Liberty, Ellis Island, Central Park (a must all year around), FAO Shwartz, the Ritz, Guggenheim, Wall Street, Empire State, World Trade Centre, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square (buzzing and safe at night)... everything I could. Don't expect to sleep, nor to be disappointed.
Everyone descibes NYPD Blue as gritty and it isn't a bad label. The style of this cop drama, set in New York is down-to-earth and abrasive. Don't expect to pick it up and catch on immediately and start loving it because, unless odd language and bouncy cameras is your thing, the programme isn't instantly likeable. If you think normal Americans incomprehensible then you should see these guys. They are literally speakign modern-day Shakespeare. I'd love to get the scripts to the show, some dialogue seems so comic. Half the communication is by sideward glances and winking. But if you want to buff up on odd slang, its the place to be. The male characters, Danny and Andy are loveable. Andy is a prejudiced and begrudged old-timer with a penchant for 'laying a beat on perps'. Danny is an all-round honest, good egg. The women cops are annoying after a while, despite Kim Delaney's unspeakable beauty. The streetlife punks that wander in demanding a detective make the show though. I laugh all the way through this. The bouncing camera angles make you think the Camera Lackey is on pills and could endice nausea. Otherwise a great program to waste away late Thursday nights!
It has been a while since I saw this production, but speaking to a couple that saw it only a month ago, it doesn't seem to have changed in that it is still universally held by all that have seen it as a marvellous musical. The idea is pretty unique, and whilst it may sound naff, it comes off very well. Trains, rollerskates and some very moving songs are the orders of the day and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every second of this modern classic. No wonder this show has been so successful: it has all the ingredients of great family entertainment and it works on all levels. It is very dynamic and active, one of the runways goes all around the stalls - the theatre must have taken ages to adapt to it!
I have visited Oxford pretty regularly - not least for University interviews over the past year. As such I have seen it in most weathers and seasons. I have to say that in the summertime it is a very pretty city, the buildings seem to radiate tradition and heritage. The open areas are very pretty and on the most part well-kept. The pubs are friendly, if a little dear, but the clubs are chaeper in both targetting and price! Oxford has some great restaurants, which are quite dear as they are aimed (I would guess) at American tourists. These are one of the only disadvantages of the city in the summer, they invade completely. They are helped, as all visitors to the city are, by the proximity to London and the cheap train and coach fares. It would be a complete thumbs-up to Oxford were it not for how grey and unwelcoming the place looks in the winter. It's bleak and deserted. The students are absent, the streets are grey and cold and the buildings turn spooky.
At least everything designed to celebrate the Millennium wasn't a flop. I have been to the Dome twice and on the Eye once and I have to say I enjoyed my 30 minutes on the Eye a lot more than both trips to the Dome. I hadn't booked tickets, which is definitely advisable, but I was lucky and because I went in the morning, early, I could book some for twilight that evening. I came back at that time, or a short while before, and the queuing was no problem: it was just a little cold and open to the elements. Once inside the capsule, it starts to get warmer. They are air-conditioned to keep a nice temperature all year around and are nice and shiny, so seeing though windows is not a problem. Expect nutters in your goldfish bowl cabin to start opening champagne, it seems to happen all the time. Also, you will get a nice 'flight attendant', normally only a treat you can expect on a plane! Seriously, they are well briefed and know London pretty well. They'll show you the bits you don't know and most of them are unemployed actors, so they're pretty affable. Don't go at twilight if you can help it. Try straight daylight or night-time. Still, at any time this is a blissful and surreal experience.
There are times when I watch television to be entertained or informed and others when I just want to occupy my mind when my body re-energises. Neighbours is a programme that serves the latter need reasonably well, occasionally even trying to entertain me as well. On the positive side, it is bright and chirpy, most unlike EastEnders or any of the institutionalised miserablity that us pommies produce. It's full of pretty young lads and lasses and although features no sex, smokng, drug use or violence (unless set against a moral message backdrop) what can you expect from something that is pretty much just kids TV. I don't care if I miss Neighbours, I will always catch up pretty quickly, which is great. The plots are simple and guessable, but I don't think that makes it any the worse. This is because unlike other programmes, Neighbours makes you just veg out and relax. It's a good show to watch passively, but anybody too into it would scare me. It's only a laugh, so don't freak about it, but if you fancy vegitating for while, then go for it.
I cannot get over this series' brilliance. I didn't watch it from the start but I picked up on it early on. I had heard tell it would be good, but not exactly how good it would be! The show is mind-blowing, not to mention ground-breaking. It takes the ideas of ruthless violence and killing and stable family life and tries to put them in bed with each other to exlain the contradictions that exist in the life of Mob boss Tony Soprano. Starting out as a Capo, under his Uncle Junior, Tony worked himself up into a position of power. Yet he's a nervous wreck, with a family trying to hang together and the Feds breathing down his neck all the time. He has a shrink who he has driven so mad that she needs a shrink too. I'm rarely one for all-out comedy, I find the sitcom a boring and outdated form of TV, but I love drama that can be profoundly funny whilst still unnerving. You never know what to make of the Sopranos as characters - you may get to like Tony and then the next week see him act like a brainless ape and kill people, or sleep with one of his mistresses or lap-dancers. Yet by doing this, the characters are never made boring and, in their contradictions and unpredictability, become more human. An added bonus is the soundtrack. It's all non-original, but so well choosen that it could have been made for the job. Andrea Bocelli's 'Con Te Partido' is the best example... a wonderful piece used to the full.