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djwill

djwill
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Member since: 07.03.2006

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      17.05.2006 08:30
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      A story that will make you rethink your life and morals. A great book!

      Whilst casually flipping through some so-and-so Sunday newspaper magazine something caught my eager eye. It was a Top Ten of books we should all read before we're six feet under. And the number one book was none other than Harper Lee's 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. I was compelled to read it and am now, (about half a year later) proud to say that I have and that it was well worth it!

      'To Kill A Mockingbird' is narrated from the perspective of Scout Finch, a young girl who lives with her older brother, Jem Finch, and her father, the well respected and esteemed lawyer of Maycomb, Atticus Finch. Scout and Jem have mini adventures, and one summer, befriend a boy named Dill. Immediately a strong friendship and sense of unity is established between the three, causing a growing fascination with a spooky house on their street named the Radley House, where one of the residents is known as the shady Boo Radley, who's never come out of the house. It's a long story, with a lot of in depth characterisation, especially Jem, but what perhaps the epitome of the book (and ultimately what it's most revered for) is the story surrounding Atticus. To the consternation of Maycomb's racist white community, Atticus defends a black man named Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping a white woman. Because of Atticus' decision, Jem and Scout are subjected to abuse from other children and are forced to grow up, to realise the prejudice in America, and how the differences of colour really are shamefully important.

      When I started to read this book, I couldn't put it down. That may sound clichéd, but they're always handy at conveying certain emotions. Simply put, the book was a revelation to me. Although going into the book, thinking it was a courtroom drama (as the film had led me to believe), I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't. Instead it was about a little girl, growing up in an environment of racial tension that divided a community. How, through the wise and indomitable teachings of her father, she grew up to realise that 'you never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around in it'. The book is compelling because it focuses from a naïve perspective (Scout's) and we are able to witness the great teachings of Atticus Finch through her eyes. The style of narration chosen elevates Atticus' character, making him noble, which I believe was Lee's intention. As a result the book is perhaps well known for creating one of the most respected and admired literary characters in history! It focuses on relevant issues, which is unfortunately an eternal struggle of racism and perpetual myopia! The fact that we see these events through Jem's eyes makes us, the reader, the child, with an immature and selfish outlook on life. But as Jem changes through the book, we do too, and that is how Lee manages to hit the message home. She enlightens us, by making us climb into Jem's skin and have a walk around in it…

      I have to wholeheartedly agree with the newspaper magazine. 'To Kill A Mockingbird' is indeed one of the (if not the) books you should read before you die. In many ways, it's a Bible to how you should treat others, how to overcome prejudice and discrimination, and in many ways it is a book that will forever set the standards for you life and how you interact with others of different race, colour, religions, beliefs… This is a timeless tale, because it touches on issues that will realistically never fade away. But we can try. And that's the point of this book. Try to accept others, try to see the world from other people's viewpoints and maybe… just maybe we can make the world slightly better. The book has stirred a moral passion within me, and a book that can touch and make one feel strongly, deserves first place in the Top Ten of any book list. So "remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird… Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy… but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

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      • More +
        07.03.2006 22:40
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        A treat for the ears!

        You can always trust Feeder to release a great album. With predecessors such as Echo Park and Polythene, Comfort in Sound really shows what the band are capable of. Every song (apart from Godzilla - we'll talk about that later) is a masterpiece and deseves to be listened to properly- go out and get the best hi-fi money can buy, set it up in a quiet place (eg. the desert), crank up the bass and endulge in pure aural bliss.

        By far one of the best songs on the album is "Comfort in Sound"; heavy on the bass, yet with excellent guitar riffs it is a treat for the ears and I guarantee that after hearing it once, you will be humming it for the rest of the week.

        Other tracks such as "Just The Way I'm Feeling" and "Come Back Around" show modern music at its best, with excellent lyrics by vocalist Grant Nicholas that will literally blow you away.

        Most of the tracks are very slow and calming- sorrowful songs such as "Forget About Tomorrow" reflect the band's sadness at thier tragic loss of drummer, Jon Lee.

        The album's only low point is the track "Godzilla" a heavily distorted, guitar overload which really goes against everything the album stands for.

        However, all in all this is an album that really shows Feeder at thier best, and as I'm sure you'll soon agree, complete musical perfection. The album can be bought for £6.97 (well worth it for what you get) from Amazon.co.uk or downloaded from sites such as mycokemusic.com or the iTunes Music Store for around 70p per track.

        Quick summary of the tracks:

        1. Just The Way I'm Feeling (9/10)
        2. Come Back Around (8/10)
        3. Helium (10/10)
        4. Child In You (7/10)
        5. Comfort In Sound (11/10!)
        6. Forget About Tomorrow (9/10)
        7. Summers Gone (8.5/10)
        8. Godzilla (3/10)
        9. Quick Fade (7/10)
        10. Find The Colour (8/10)
        11. Love Pollution (9/10)
        12. Moonshine (7/10)


        P.S: Sorry about the short length of this review - I don't have much time as I have GCSE exams coming up. Thanks for reading!

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          07.03.2006 22:37
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          Exciting, ironic and funny - A good read

          HOW DOES PRIESTLEY USE DRAMATIC DEVICES TO CONVEY HIS POLITICAL VIEWS IN AN INSPECTOR CALLS?

          The play An Inspector Calls conveys a strong political message. It promotes the idea of socialism, as a society in which community and responsibility are central. This is strongly contrasted with the idea of capitalism, in which 'every man is an island' and has to work for himself, with no second thought for other people. The playwright, J.B.Priestley, uses many dramatic devices, such as dramatic irony and tension in order to effectively convey this political message throughout the play. He uses them appropriately for the time in which he is writing the play and for the time in which the play is set.

          The play is set in 1912, Edwardian England, just before the war. This was a very difficult time for England. It was a period when there were many strikes, food shortages and great political tension. In contrast to that, the play was written and published in 1945, just after World War II, when the country was also in disarray. Priestley uses this time difference effectively, showing people that the way forward is socialism. He implies that in order to move forward and to rebuild the country, people have to work together as a society, instead of reverting back to capitalism.

          At the beginning of the play, Priestley sets out an extensive series of stage directions. He applies them effectively as a dramatic device, in that he uses them to show how the Birling family are cold, distant people and how capitalism has corrupted them as a family. He illustrates how the family are very well off, alluding to "dessert plates" and "champagne glasses" as well as other expensive items. However, there is also a sense of formality and distance between the family members as he writes that "men are in tails and white ties" and that it is "not cosy and homelike". He also emphasises the remoteness between Mr and Mrs Birling by situating them at opposite ends of the table.

          Included in the stage directions is the colour and brightness of the lighting. Priestley also uses this as a dramatic device skilfully. The lighting first used is described as "pink and intimate" showing a 'warm' and 'joyful' atmosphere. However the audience gets the sense that it is just a screen covering up secrets and that they are in fact looking through 'rose-tinted glasses' and that it is not really what it seems. This is confirmed when the Inspector appears and the lighting changes to a "brighter and harder light" where it gives the impression of exposure and the revelation of truth.

          In this way, the character of the Inspector has also been used as a dramatic device. He is used to convey a message, as a mouthpiece to Priestley's views. He makes it seem as if socialism is the true and honest way to live. The Inspector does not use euphemisms and instead uses graphic imagery in order to shock the Birlings into giving him information, "she'd swallowed a lot of strong disinfectant. Burnt her inside out of course". He also has a feeling of omniscience and an almost ghostly presence. His name, Inspector Goole, indicates this as Goole sounds like Ghoul and Inspector sounds like spectre. The Inspector is used to 'correct' the capitalists and makes a strong statement in favour of socialism in his final rhetorical speech. In this speech he states that for lower class, "Eva Smiths and John Smiths" there is a "chance of happiness" in socialism. The Inspector also makes the audience realise that they are "members of one body" and that they should try their best to help people like Eva Smith, otherwise, as the Inspector implies, "they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish". This almost acts as a threat to the audience and incites them to recognize the value of Priestley's message.

          Dramatic irony is also used in many ways as a dramatic device. It is used to promote the Inspector yet mock Mr Birling. In Mr Birling's speech at the beginning of the play, he proudly states that "as a hard-headed businessman" he thinks that "there isn't a chance of war" and that the Titanic is "absolutely unsinkable". With the play being published after two world wars and the sinking of the Titanic, Priestley makes the audience think that Birling is a fool. Whereas the Inspector, who states in his final speech that "they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish" indicating that there will be a war, is elevated by the use of dramatic irony. This makes the audience believe the socialist views of the Inspector instead of the 'foolish' views of Mr Birling.

          During the play, Priestley uses the juxtaposition between the Inspector and Mr Birling as a dramatic device. Mr Birling and the Inspector's views completely oppose each other. As the Inspector puts others first, whereas Mr Birling believes that you are responsible only for yourself. An example of this is during Mr Birling's and the Inspector's speeches. The Inspector talks about how "we are members of one body" and that we "are responsible for each other". However, Mr Birling makes a speech about how "a man has to make his own way" and how "a man has to mind his own business and look after himself". Priestley uses this opposition in order to dishonour capitalism and instead promote socialism. Another effective device used by Priestley is that of timings. He times the entrance of the Inspector so that he enters just after Mr Birling has made his speech, as if to discredit everything Mr Birling has just said.

          Priestley uses symbolism extensively as a dramatic device during the play in order to express his views. He uses Arthur Birling as a voice for capitalism, who is ridiculed by the Inspector, a representative of socialism. The dialogue between them shows this, as the Inspector repeatedly twists what Birling says, showing that he is the voice of truth. For example,
          "INSPECTOR: I'm sorry. But you asked me a question.
          BIRLING: And you asked me a question before that, a quite unnecessary question too.
          INSPECTOR: It's my duty to ask questions"
          The Birlings could also be symbolised by the seven deadly sins; Mr Birling being greed for sacking Eva Smith, just to save a few shillings, or pride for boasting about his wealth and high status. Mrs Birling could be wrath for being angry with Eva Smith over calling herself 'Mrs Birling'. Sheila could be envy for being jealous of Eva in Milwards, and Gerald could be lust for having an affair with Eva. The fact that they can be identified as sins shows how Priestley emphasises the immorality of capitalism, placing An Inspector Calls within the genre of a morality play.

          Eric and Sheila's positive response to the Inspector's message, compared to Mr and Mrs Birling's negative response, is also greatly symbolic. Priestley uses this generation divide to show that the younger generation symbolise hope for the future. The fact that they are remorseful of what they have done suggests that they (and the future generation of adults) will make a conscious effort to improve human relationships. Unlike their parents, who are only interested in wealth and material items, Priestley shows that the younger generation will endeavour to perform their moral duties towards their fellow citizens - especially people such as Eva Smith.

          Throughout the play, tension is continuously building up both between the Inspector and the Birlings as well as within the Birling family. An example of this is when Sheila asks about where Gerald was "last summer" and Gerald tries to cover it up. This shows how the underlying secrets within the family create lots of tension. Another example of this is when Arthur Birling tells Gerald about his possible Knighthood, then refuses to tell Eric about it when he enters. Priestley also uses repetition in order to build up tension, even before the Inspector arrives Mr Birling keeps hinting that they might have done something wrong, he emphasises "so long as we behave ourselves". Priestley also uses uneasy laughter and accusations between members of the Birling family, such as "unless Eric has done something", in order to build up tension. Priestley uses tension as a dramatic device in order to keep the audience interested and anxious to find out more, and so alert to his socialist message.

          Priestley also uses cliff-hangers to create tension. Such as at the end of the play, when Birling answers the phone to find out that a second Inspector is on his way and that what they thought was just a hoax was in fact true. Ending the play on this cliffhanger makes the audience want to watch more and find out what happens next. It also keeps them thinking about the play and it's meaning afterwards. Another example of the use of a cliff-hanger is at the end of Act One when Gerald admits to Sheila that he had had an affair with Eva Smith. The Inspector then enters and simply says "Well?" this hooks the audience, as they want to find out what happens next in the play, keeping them on the edge of their seats. Act Two then begins, exactly the same as Act One ended. Priestley decided not to change anything in order to achieve a sense of continuity. Continuity is thus used as a dramatic device to keep the play focused and concentrated on one subject. This also raises the tension and draws in the attention of the audience.

          Priestley emphasises the difference between the upper and lower classes very strongly throughout the play. He uses the Birling family as a representative of the Upper Class and Eva Smith as a representative of the Lower Class. Priestley shows how in 1912, Upper Class citizens, such as the Birlings had no respect for Lower Class citizens. He uses this class divide to convey his message and to show that the rigidity of the class system is incompatible with his views on community and responsibility.

          The fact that a meaningful message is represented would indicate that An Inspector Calls, as well as being a murder mystery, in the way that Preistley uncovers the story of the death of Eva Smith, is also a moralistic play. Preistley shows the audience how not to live their lives, using dramatic devices to demonstrate this. He makes the audience contemplate over the fact that they are actually "members of one body" and that they are all "responsible for one another" and has made them realise that socialism is the way forward instead of capitalism. In this way, An Inspector Calls is very relevant today's society where people still do need to work together and help others in need. J.B.Priestley effectively uses many dramatic devices in An Inspector Calls, such as symbolism and timings. He applies them in order to portray his political views, using an upper class, Edwardian family to do so.

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          • Shaun Of The Dead (DVD) / DVD / 15 Readings / 14 Ratings
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            07.03.2006 22:35
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            Funny, sad and scary at the same time - Not to mention the great actors .

            Have you ever laid awake at night scared of the living dead? In Shaun of the Dead, nightmare becomes reality for Shaun (Simon Pegg) who struggles to save his family and friends from hoards of zombies which have invaded his seemingly ordinary life.

            However, if you think this is your usual horror movie, think again. Described as " A romantic comedy - with zombies" Shaun Of The Dead definitely lives up to the comedy genre, parodying the classic "Dawn of the Dead". On the other hand if you are looking for a feel-good "rom-com" to watch with the family, the tagline may be slightly misleading. Be warned: this is not for the faint-hearted.

            Written with all the elements of a classic zombie horror movie, scriptwriters Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg create a gripping plot, full of twists, turns, cliff-hangers and of course, plenty of blood and guts.

            The main character, Shaun, is having a bad day. His job is going nowhere, his girlfriend has just dumped him. And zombies have just invaded North London. His friend, Ed (Nick Frost), is no consolation either, being a lazy, drug-dealing, Cornetto-eating idiot. However, when they finally realise that there's a chance they could be eaten alive, they go and lock themselves in the local pub, the Winchester. On the way, they rescue Shaun's mum, step-dad (Bill Nighy- Love Actually), reluctant ex-girlfriend Liz and her friends: Dianne (Lucy Davis- The Office) and abominable David (Dylan Moran- Black Books).

            As they "wait for it all to blow over", living off peanuts, beer and pork scratchings; their patience starts to fray. With David being as anti-social as ever, Shaun and Liz's relationship breaking up all over again and, zombies scratching at the door, it makes a film that is well worth watching.

            Cameos by actors such as Matt Lucas (Little Britain) and Martin Freeman (The Office, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy) add to an overall fantastic storyline, which, with a run-time of only 95 minutes could easily be much longer.

            However, you may be disappointed if you are looking for a gory horror movie. The 15-rating (UK) does come with a large portion of slapstick comedy and a bit less of the horror you would expect from an 18-rated film like "28 Days Later".

            The film is also a bit slow to start. Emphasising the fact that Shaun and Ed are so oblivious to the fact that zombies are taking over, Wright leaves the main storyline until 30 minutes after the film has started.

            But (and it is a BIG but), the film does redeem itself when it eventually does come to the meaty part. The Director, Edgar Wright, adds particular weight to the 'mock of typical horror movie' style using the trademark close-up camera movements, sombre lighting and rapid cuts. Not to mention the excellent soundtrack, which makes the film flow and adds a comic, light-hearted touch to the general atmosphere. Especially, in a fantastic scene where a zombie is hit with snooker cues in time to "Killer Queen".

            With a script and actors this good, Shaun Of The Dead is probably the best British film ever made. It will have you hiding behind the sofa, doubled-over with laughter and mopping up tears. Not everyone will enjoy it as much as I did, but I can safely say that it will be the best 95 minutes you have ever spent.

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              07.03.2006 22:33
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              A Feature-Filled Fun Fest For a Fantasitc Price!

              If you are looking for a new Pocket PC, you've come to the right place. The HP iPAQ is definately a first class product.

              The looks hardly need describing, see for yourself... it's beautiful. The simple design and smooth curves complement this fantastic device greatly. When I took it out of the box for the first time I could hardly believe how small and light it is. You hardly realise it is in your pocket!

              When you first turn it on you have to select various options (time, date, language etc.) but as soon as you have done that you are greeAted with the standard Windows interface (all of which is customizable). The programs included are the basic ones: Word, Excel, Media Player, Activesync and games like Solitaire and Jawbreaker (a personal favorite).

              Playing the included games really shows off the incredibly fast processing speed and the response time which this device can achieve.

              The built in speakers sound OK however using headphones with it is highly recommended.

              The iPAQ can also be used as an MP3 and Video player (through the Windows Media interface, or using a separately installed program) which has a super-fast response time (no jitters) and pretty good quality (it depends really on the quality you encoded it in).

              The Wifi, Bluetooth and Infra-red are excellent, many PDA's do not have these, let alone all three!

              Through Wifi (and Bluetooth) the internet can be accessed, as well as instant messaging (via the pre-installed MSN Messenger). However, the pages are somewhat small and images cannot be copied and 'pasted' (normal internet downloads work well though)

              The battery life is good (enough to watch a movie and a half on it) however it does run out quicker than on other models.

              The PDA includes other functions such as voice recording, picture editing and viewing, SD interface and handwriting recognition, all of which perform excellently.

              Included (amongst other things) are a USB cable, dock, case and charger, however an SD card should be bought separately as the built in memory (64mb) is fine for basic use however not enough for music, pics, videos etc.

              All in all, the H4150 is a fantastic machine, well worth the money, beautiful in every aspect and has served me well for the past 2 and a half years and I hope yours will too!

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              • Samsung LE-32R41B / LCD TV / 13 Readings / 11 Ratings
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                07.03.2006 22:30
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                If you're looking for quality, performance and value-for-money - get the Samsung LE32R41B.

                If you are looking for a cheap, feature filled TV - This one has it all!

                This stunning LCD screen is definately one of the best TV's this year. It's low, low price (£874 from 247electrical.co.uk) thrashes other competitors producing similar High-Def 32" LCD's.

                I'll begin with the CON's:

                No major Cons, however there are a couple of minor points I thought I'd mention:

                - The TV never "turns off" completely, however stays on standby until unplugged at the wall, this is annoying especially if the wall plug is hard to get to. I would recommend leaving it on standby short-term and only fully turning it off if you are not going to use it for at least a couple of days.

                - The remote control looks and feels a bit cheap and tacky, I expect it is the standard remote control for all Samsung TV's. However, it's not too bad and can always be replaced with a much better looking remote (eg. an "all-in-one" universal remote (personal recommendation))

                However, do not let these minor points put you off, the Pro's definately outweigh the Con's.

                PROS:

                - Extremely cheap for the amount of features it has.

                - High- Definition TV (HDTV) compatible means that it works with the Xbox 360, the new Sky broadcasting later this year (I think!), new HD DVD players etc.

                - Built in Freeview, means that you get around 30 free channels and loads of radio channels (check out freeview.co.uk for details and channel listings). This can also be expanded using the TopUp TV feature (buy a card from your nearest Dixons or TopUpTV.co.uk - £7.99 a month for 11 extra channels).

                - LCD screen, does not get "screenburn" as with Plasma screens. Note: screenburn is where if you leave an image up too long, it "burns" into the screen and leaves a permanent shadow on it.

                - Really thin- about 10cm (don't take my word for it though it's just an estimate)

                - 32 inch screen size.

                - Beautiful design, will make a fantastic centrepiece in any living room.

                (Personal recommendation: Mount it on the wall- it looks great)

                All in all, if you're looking for quality, performance and value-for-money - get this TV.

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