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Ah, it's fortunate that the only Delonghi oven on here is the one I have!
I bought this oven as part of an all in kitchen deal, and I had to pay a little more in order to get a Delonghi. Why did I do that? Because I've used Delonghi products in the past (This one was in fact replacing an older Delonghi model) and I've always found them to be really efficient and hard-wearing.
So, does this one live up to its heritage - Yes!
It's very quiet, (noise was a problem I must admit was a bit annoying with the last one.) It really cooks "in the round" that is, it doesn't get 'hot spots' which can leave your food cooked enevenly, and best of all, it's very power efficient. We have one of those little power meters, and this oven actually uses a lot less than our two bar electric fire!
In short, I would recommend this to anyone. You might not be able to get this exact model, but do try to get this brand, as I've used many different cookers, but I've always found Delonghi to be the best!
Well, I've just been given a shiny new Xbox, and it's time for me to start playing all those titles that I wanted to when I saw them reviewed, but couldn't because I didn't, er, have an Xbox.
This one fascinated me the most, as I ama big "Heroic Bloodshed" fan (this is the name of the film genre to which the source movie, Hard Boiled, belongs), and John Woo is its undoubted auteur.
The game is a third person shooter, and you navigate Tequila, through gunfight after gunfight, a true shoot em up, in that you can not only shoot people, but do a lot of collaterla property damage as well. This gives the game settings bags of atmosphere, and really captures the splendid chaos of the movies.
I played it by first watching Hard Boiled (a review will follow) to remind myself of Tequila's backstory, and then getting stuck right in to the action.
The game has very little exposition, and you can forget about any need for stealth. Its kinetic mayhem really carries you along, and although the modelling suffers in comparison with more recent 3rd person games, such as Red Dead Redemption, it really is, literally a blast, and very cheap now. Recommended.
Well, after having had the Wii for about six month, I think it's time to put my hands up and say I don't actually like it very much.
Perhaps I'm using it wrongly, but I've got to say that despite the impressive interaction system, it's just not very engaging. I find the games much less immersive than, say, my old Xbox (which I still surreptitiously dig out and plug in when no one's looking!)
I've thought long and hard about why this should be, and I've come to the conclusion that the games available are are just not very good. The sports games feel very cartoony and slight (and also left me with considerable RSI - something that's never happened to me with REAL sports!) Once the novelty of the controllers have worn off, these active game feel a bit of a chore, more than anything else - my Mii has gotten quite chubby!
In the arena of FPS and spinoff games, they really feel like you're on rails, beeing led by the nose through the game. "Star Wars Force Unleashed" is a missed opportunity, with sluggish controls and repetitive corridor wandering; the only other non-exercise game I've tried is "No More Heroes" which simply just gave me a headache (mainly out of boredom!). I should point out that I'm talking about these last games as an illustration, only - they're not included in the bundle!
The Wii actually becomes useful for watching the BBC Iplayer, though - and that's actually it's main use in our house now!
In short, I think it'd be a good console for a house full of little kids, or people with a lot of friends that come round for community giggles like the folks on the advert, but for people like me and my partner, who are actually quite interested in immersive gaming experiences, it's actually pretty poor.
I know I'm going against the flow here, and a lot of people love the Wii, I'm just being honest when I say it's not for me!
This is actually quite an important book for me, for a number of reasons, the prime one being that I acted on its advice.
Let me set the scene - The late eighties. There are two young, randy heterosexual men sharing a flat in Edinburgh - one of them has been given "Praise of Older Women: the amorous recollections of András Vajda" - to give the book its full name, and begins to read it on a Friday morning. He sits for four hours reading it, stopping only to pop the top off and belime Coronas. Meanwhile, his flatmate tries to get through the third level of "Aztec Challenge" on the Commodore Amiga. The sounds of the city float in through the open widow. An idyllic scene.
"What a book!" Our hero exclaims as he read the last sentence.
"Yeah, whatever." Says his friend. Not a big reader. "Ah! These bloody aztecs keep stabbing me in the neck! What do you want to do tonight?"
"Let's go out an pick up OLDER WOMEN!" I - oops! Our hero, rather, says.
And that's what we did. At the age of 19, we go to a singles bar an pick up a couple of thirtysomething women. ( - or rather WE were picked up by them!) I went out with my one for several years before we parted amicably (she went back to her husband).
Anyway. All that happens in the book is that the eponymous András Vajda - quite a young man - cuts a swathe through thirty and forty somethings across Europe, specifically in Hungary, Italy, and, eventually, Canada (the location of the author.) It's a well-written book, not mysogynistic at all -just a paen of love to the experienced older woman. it's erotic without being coarse (although you might not want to give it to your maiden aunt!). All in all a fun read for the liberated.
I'm older than the women in the book now, and I have a different perspective, but I still take down this book and read favourite passages, and the happy memories associated with it are as clear as ever.
All in all, a book that might just stay with you for life, if you read it at the right age.
I recently had to buy a new fridge as the old one finally gave up the ghost after many years of sterling service.
I've got to say, buying a fridge is a minefield - there are about a million different things to take into account: efficiency, capacity, daily cost and myriad other factors. In white goods stores, the tech guys will blind you with science if you're not careful.
So what did I do? I bought one I like the look of and that fitted in with my kitchen decor. This fridge certainly looks great - it has a sleek sliver door and sides - magnetic. and a little bump at the top. No handles othe than neat little swoopy indents. It looks like one of those super computers that try to take over the world in old episodes of the Outer Limits.
Apparently it's quite efficient - as all new fridges have to be nowadays, and it does seem to draw less power than the old one as it needs to start up less often.
The downside is that it is ebagum NOISY when it does start up. When I first heard it I thought "Dear god, is someone starting a motorboat in my kitchen?" But it was just the fridge.
Anyway, had it for a wee while now - food is nice and cold, the thing doesn't need defrosting and I've got used to the motor noise.
My advice is ask them to turn on the demo model in the shop, and then see if you can put up with the noise. It might be a problem if you live in a little house. otherwise, it's pretty good.
I bought Cache (Hidden) as part of a French movies binge started off by the masterful "Diva" (of which I will write a review some other time).
Firstly, the plot. Georges Laurent (Daniel Auteuil) is a highly respected literary TV pundit (a bit like Mariella Frostrup, I suppose.) He begins to receive weird surveillance tapes of his own house. At first the tapes appear harmless (and the police ignore him for this reason) but the recordings begin to come with crude crayon drawings attached, and these begin to uncover unpleasant truths about his early life. Laurent begins to probe unhappy memories and the stress begins to have a deleterious effect on his home life. Then his young son disappears...
There really isn't much to the film rather than mounting unease. It does have a bit of a wtf ending, but one that provoked debate amongst my friends, and it made me want to watch it again.
The DVD has quite an interesting "making of" documentary, and an interview with the director - but neither leave you any the wiser as to the meaning of the ending.
I would recommend it, but it's not an easily accessible film, and the disturbing and off-kilter ambience will stick with you for days.
I must admit I've never read the book that this film is based on, but rather I chose to watch it because I so much enjoyed the director's next film "Pour Elle" (Anything for her) - a film that this one rather resembles.
This is one of those difficult instances where it's hard to write too much about the plot, so as not to give too much away, but suffice to say it's a clever thriller. A man - a doctor, in fact - has a wife who is murdered by a serial killer. He is gradually getting his life back on track when a new bombshell drops...to say any more would be to reveal too much, but our main character is in for a pretty confusing and frightening time - and the director manages to convey his shock and horror well to the audience.
This is one of a crop of recent French thrillers that really grip you - unlike their US counterparts, you're neber sure what's going to happen or whther the characters will win out - or even survive.
An unnerving and satisfying thriller that really does keep you on the edge of your seat. Sure there are plot holes, but so what? - the suspense really carries you along.
I've been wanting to see "Nowhere to Hide" for some time. I'm a fan of Korean thrillers, and there have been some real doozies. The late lamented Tartan Films had a yearly Asian film festival here in Edinburgh, and this was one of the ones I had to miss (ah, work. The curse of the cinema classes).
Anyway, I picked the dvd up recently, expecting the kind of frenetic, kinetic kick ass action that typifies the cop genre. I wasn't disappointed, and yet, it does lack a certain cohesion, and as other reviewers have noted, much character development.
The main detective is called Woo, in what I imagine is a tip of the hat to the HK master, and lets not leave hats there, as the main character sports a battered pork pie hat for most of the film. what did that remind me of - of course! Gene Hackman as Popeye Doyle in the "French Connection" movies.
...And with that insight, I really started to enjoy the film. This is not your usual tight-plotted Asian cop movie, a la "Infernal Affairs" - it's a joyful film student celebration of most of the cop movies you can think of: Buddies? Check. Silly Hat? Check. Love for the moll? Check. Iceman killer? Check. Meaningful-sounding but rather silly one liners: "The typewriter...a cops's lullaby..." Check! - I could go on.
So I advise you to enjoy it for what it is. A portmanteau movie of cop cliches, but one made with love and style.
Well, I don't often write grocery related reviews, but I thought that I would this time, as I'm just back from the place.
I live in a rather pricy neighbourhood, and the downside is that the only two stores we have locally are a Waitrose and a Marks and Sparks, so it's Hobson's Choice, really.
The good thing about Waitrose is that it is quite a welcoming place. I remember the site it is now on well - when I was 12 it was a garage, then a Safeways, a Morissons and now a Waitrose. The stripped out all of the gloomy, dingy stuff from the previous incarnations and now it feels like you're entering a bread-baking spaceship - the floors are spotless, the veg is scrubbed - as are the staff, the air is redolent with flowers and crusty rolls. What's not to like?
Ah, the rub. Waitrose is pricy, there's no doubt about it. I would say things, in general are about a 1/3rd pricier than, say, Tesco's, but then it is situated in the middle of a village, within easy walking distance (so good for the environment). These big out of towner megastores are a bit cheaper, but a bloody nuisance to go to, and park, and walk round and queue, and then find your car again - but they are cheaper.
Waitrose certainly has high quality vittles, and again you have to expect to pay a bit extra for this. One tip, though, is that if you go an hour before closing, they do mark stuff down quite considerably, and I've always found it to be fine (Sometimes it still has a day or so to go before the "best before") A recent example was a Greshingham duck reduced from £7.99 (ouch) to £1.79 (neato). That duck was lovely - and all the better for going cheap (as it were...)
One other thing is that Waitrose is part of the John Lewis chain, and they adhere to that thing about "never being knowingly undersold", so I suppose you could argue the toss on generic items, although I can never be bothered.
All in all, not to bad a place - the food is high quality, and the way I do it is to buy fresh food and stuff on offer from there, and just get all of the staples like Juice and loo paper from Asda, online. That way, you can have the best of both worlds!
I rewatched this recently, being on a bit of a Science Fiction kick, and working my way through a rather vast shelf of futuristic movies. I was also prompted to watch this again by seeing an old programme in the "Outer Limits" strand, but more of that later.
The premise is simple, it appears that a robot, logically hardwired to be incapable of murder, has, in fact, committed a murder. Wisecracking detective Del Spooner is despatched to find out what's going on - crash bang boom ensues.
The story is loosely (very loosely - I spotted a logical flaw that would have irritated him hugely) on the "scientifiction" stories of Isaac Asimov, most notably the ones based around the so-called "three laws":
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Asimov manages to construct elegant logical puzzles out of these in the stories in the "I Robot" series (a common misconception about these stories is that they constitute a novel, but they do not - they are a tightly connected series of stories that test the boundaries of man/machine interaction, all published at different times with different, though recurring, characters) - this film appropriates the laws, but uses them more as window-dressing than a core sensibility.
Actually, the film is much closer to the Eando Binder book of the same title (otherwise unrelated, and published earlier) which concerns a apparently murderous robot. This was adapted into an "Outer Limits" episode twice - and is not credited at all, as far as I can see.
It sounds like I'm quibbling, but I was really disappointed to see what was basically a Will Smith "rougue cop" vehicle, with a really hoky plot, superimposed on a terrific concept - to the detriment of both (rather like in the more recent "Omega Man" - although Smith was better in that, I thought).
On the upside, Smith is good at what he does, and the film is diverting, but the crazy product placement (particularly a long and curiously unexciting car chase which is clrearly there just to advertise the car) and the retro-future styling of the robots themselves (they look like walking Apple computers) really makes for an unsatisfying watch. The mawkish, hokey ending supplies one final kick in the bum on the way out.
The dvd I have included a fair amount of ramble about the laws - much of which made little sense, and some stuff on the special effects, but I couldn't be bothered watching very much of it.
This is a film that wasn't all that when it first came out - and hasn't worn well.
Well, I'm not a huge game player (in either sense of the word) but I like a quick bash about, and my new wii has been rather sadly underused since I bought it (I still find myself sneakily reconnecting my Xbox classic, because, well, I like shooting and blowing stuff up - not so many games on the old wii that have that, although maybe I'm loooking in the wrong place).
I jumped at this game because I do enjoy the Star Wars franchise (although it contains, frankly, a lot of rubbish stuff) and I really like games where I can pretend to have psychic powers.
This one starts quite well, although it feels a bit weird playing old Darth. The graphics are nothing to write home about, as other reviewers have noted, and I got a bit lost among similar-looking corridors (why are there always so many corridors in Star Wars games?)
I've got to say, this game gets really old, really quickly - the music begins to grate, the corridors get tedious, the change of point of view (Starkiller is a rather campy character, I thought) doesn't add anything to the gameplay, the level bosses do the same old moves, the cutscenes are a bit blocky and boring. In short, the game just goes through the motions.
If it wasn't a wii game, I'd give it one star, but - the wii interface turns the humdrum into the really fun, and if you really get into it, it provides quite a good workout, so I think I'll persevere with it, if only to work up a sweat in the morning and maybe shed a few pounds.
Just bought a second hand one of these from Ebay, and I'm delighted with it.
I've been on a bit of a retro Dr Who kick recently, and I wanted to trip down memory lane with this fun little toy, but I couldn't find one anywhere - hence ebay.
On with the review, though - Firstly, the model is apparently exactly a quarter that of the real robodog, and it is very highly detailed. It has a removeable side panel which covers a rather funky steampunk goldy-looking machine, which has a rather fetching blue glow when powered up. The eyepanel glows red and the little buttons on top have a multicoloured hue. The nose extends in response to a RC button, and the ears waggle when the dog is in motion. He also sports a rather natty tartan collar.
The remote control is a little flimsy, bit seems to work fine, and there are a variety of phrases, including:
"Confirmation of analysis"
"Maximum defence mode"
"Power supply failing"
"Capacity for one shot master, for maximum impact I must be stationed directly besides the vat"
"The master rebuilt me. My systems are much improved with new undetectable hyperlink facilities"
These last two sound a little weird to me, and the voice, emanating from the robodoggy's bottom, sounds a bit high pitched and slightly tinny. That's just a quibble, though.
Overall, this is a great little item, a bit hard to get, but some shops and amazon still have it, apparently.
Funwise, I can't recommend it highly enough.
I had wanted to see this in the cinema, having read Gilbert Adair's excellent short novel. Somehow, it never seemed to appear, so I must only assume that it went straight to DVD, often a bad sign.
I duly rented said DVD form tescos, popped it in the player, expecting a labrynthine two-handed thriller, a la Sleuth (the original), but what I got was a damply fizzling squib, a la Sleuth (the remake).
Firstly, the performances. Tom Conti is quite on form in his role as wily sightless art critic Sir Paul Napier, although the script mainly calls for him to look smug and indolent, and occasionally perturbed. Daryl Hannah shines rather less in her role as his new assistant and 'amanuensis' (it means 'scribe' - at least I learned a new word for Scrabble!). She glowers and grits her way through the role ( a man, in the book), completely scotching any suspense, as it is clear from the start that she is a wrong 'un. She's easy on the eye, at least. Rather than a foil to conti, she is simply a grumpy bully.
Secondly, the plot. Lame, unbelievable, and brought to a conclusion far too quickly. I'm surprised that Adair adapted it himself, as it lacks any of the tension of the book.
Thirdly, the direction. I was surprised how many filmic cliches appear. Crash zooms to scenes of 'horror'. Swirly camera pans to connote confusion - these look dated in 70's films. and are presented completely without irony here. It seems more like a film student production than anything else (and I should know, I was a film student once!)
In terms of film transfer and sound, the DVD is OK, although sometimes Daryl mumbles a bit and it's hard to hear her sometimes. The film is as empty of features (a rushed job?) as one of Sir Paul's picture frames.
All in all, avoid. Better to read the book, and picture it in your minds eye.
It's a pity that David Tennant left on such a low note (I thought the final special - The end of time - was a really poor effort, mawkish and hammy). I was glad, therefore, to revisit happier times, with this real humdinger of an episode.
Firstly, the setting: although it seems rather borrowed Douglas Adams' (and Terry Jones') epic 80s computer game "Starship Titanic", the steampunk sensibility and lavish sets really make you feel as if you were there (I love the ball scenes).
Secondly: Kylie - who dazzles in her slightly naughty (or is that just me?) maid's uniform. I would really have liked her to become a permanent companion - I think she would have been terrific (much better than Catherine Tate - but that's another story).
Thirdly, Tennant skips and bounces his way through the events with his usual great aplomb, and the chemistry between him and Kylie is electric.
The downside: The angels make for rather unconvincing "monsters" (as soon as I saw them, I knew that those halos would become deadly frisbees), and the villain of the piece, when he is eventually revealed, seemed a little too much like end of the pier pantomime villain, rather than the Davros-style mastermind I had been expecting.
Just two rather lacklustre extras, though - a children in need spacial and a "confidential" feature, which I always find a bit boring.
Anyway, it's pretty cheap at the moment (I picked mine up in a Fopp for 3 quid), so it's worth getting it if you haven't seen it. Do be aware it's in the series box set, though, so don't buy it twice!
This Stephen King anthology film makes a nice companion piece to Romero's stab at the Master from Maine's back catalogue - the redoubtable 'Creepshow' (Which I've recently also reviewed on here).
This one was made three years after 'Creepshow', but seems, weirdly, much more dated. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, and the TV movie vibe, with the loud jackets and penny loafers (not to mention a diminutive Drew Barrymore) is comforting to anyone who watched a lot of films and TV in the 'eighties. But I digress! On to the plot!
A cat called "General" crosses the city to protect a young girl, Amanda, from a breath-stealing troll. On the way he witness two stories unfold, before confronting the tiny ancient evil in the final segment. The stories bleed(!) into each other somewhat, but I'll seperate them out to summarise them.
1: Quitter's inc.
This is, for my money, the best adaptation of a King short story I have ever seen - and I'm including the ones in Creepshow. I quite often think about this segment when I hear of someone wanting to give up something, and in fact I was speaking about at the water-cooler just the other day. An inverterate smoker - played by James Woods - wants to give up. He tries everything. The a friend tells him about a shadowy organisation called Quitter's inc. The guarantee to stop the subject smoking - and they will go to any lengths to make sure that happens. Will Woods risk his family for a cigarette?
James Woods is remarkable in this episode, and it's his twitchy, crotchety performance that really elevates this really far-fetched tale. Quitter's inc itself is horrifying, with its casual attitude to torture and violence, and there is a nice satirical edge to the story as the organisation might be seen as the reductio ad absurdum of the self-help boom. A gem.
It's an indication of how effective the narrative is that Woods was so freaked out by working on this film that he gave up smoking in real life!
2: The Ledge
Robert Hayes (the pilot with the 'drinking problem' from Airplane) barely manages to play it straight in this tall tale of a man who gambles his life on his ability to cling on to a skyscraper's ledge, while being teased and tormented by a pigeon, and the late Kenneth McMillan (The amiable boss from the old 'Rhoda' sitcom) who may have an agenda of his own for the wager.
All the tension in this comes from Hay's reactions to McMillan's cruelty - and it's all nicely handled - but nothing you won't have seen done better elsewhere. Diverting, but far from classic.
3: The General
The last segment, and our hero, the eponymous cat, finally makes it to Amanda's house after being involved peripherally in the previous stories. Unfortunately, this is the weakest story of them all, and is little more than a straight (and rather lengthy) combat between him and the troll.
The cat is great, Drew is cute, and the Troll is suitably evil, but the whole thing is hamstrung by poor matteing and the use of old "Land of the Giants" props, which really get in the way of engaging with the story. A bit of a flop, sadly.
So there you have it. The film is really good at the start, falters a bit in the middle and rather lands on its bum at the end, but is still head and shoulders above most other King adaptations. The DVD itself is nothing to write home about and has no extras.