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No-one can take away Julia Robert’s Oscar from her, and nor should they. The star, who had caused many to gripe and groan because of her two-stroke acting (anxious or joyful with nothing in between), finally - in Erin Brockovich - filled in the gaps, delivering a highly textured performance, boosted by her own natural glow. It must, then, be difficult to return to the kind of role which, though certainly amusing at times, only requires her to be, er, anxious or joyful, shrieking one second, grinning hugely the next. It must also be tough for her to be comprehensively overshadowed by a more recent star, James Gandolfini (the shrink-addicted mobster in The Sopranos), who, it must be said, has the richer role here and so provides a lot of ballast when Roberts – and Brad Pitt, for that matter – are just chatting or shouting. Roberts plays Samantha, Jerry’s intense, worried girlfriend, a can’t-sit-still borderline neurotic for whom therapy is all, a noisy, demanding sort who believes that, if only Jerry (Pitt) will agree to attend a self-help group, then their relationship has some chance. She is only one of two pressures placed on Jerry, a low-intelligence bagman for the mob, an untogether dimwit who – having screwed up big-time - has only one chance to redeem himself (and save his life) by retrieving an antique pistol from Mexico. Samantha orders him to stay, naturally he goes, and her life is abruptly invaded by Leroy (Gandolfini), a complicated killer who is good at discussing emotion. As this shaggy-dog story becomes ever more loose-limbed, and you sense that director Gore Verbinski (only feature to date, Mouse Hunt) is happy just to let his two pricey stars strut their stuff, you become hugely grateful for the grounding effect of Gandolfini, an actor who only has to stare at Roberts to suggest a hypnotic blend of violence and empathy, thuggishness and charm. He may be a paid casual killer but he is a good listen
er and – surreal in the world of hit men – gay. The exchange of eyes between him and another man is one of the many enjoyably funny moments which are spread across the film (even when it becomes too bulky), another sharp example being the scene where Gandolfini and Roberts chat in the ladies’ loo (as she tries to pee, he combs his beard). And it is the usually amusing, often charged conversations between them which are well dramatised, exchanges which also highlight the soggier stretches of the film. After admiring Gandolfini hook the audience in a movie which mixes nonsense with violence (a recipe Quentin Tarantino would recognise), you wonder just how versatile the Sopranos star might be. But even if he eventually proves to be effective only across a narrow range, he is undoubtedly a class act.
It’s good to know that if your entire family turns out to be spies, and embarks on a series of daft antics with the help of equally barmy gadgets, then the family unit will stay intact. Phew. That’s the message being sent out by Spy Kids, an innocent action romp involving two generations of spies, with (in the tradition of children’s stories) the frailest kid developing both physical prowess and inner strength. But he has at least learned from his dad that it is more important to have a good heart than a strong punch. As the whole spy-family tries to stop a baddie who is more eccentric than evil (Alan Cumming), the joy and wonder of the children, as well as submarines which steer themselves, castles filled with illusions, and a villain with three odd growths on his head, are enough for certain stretches of the film. Yet what it lacks is the wow factor, big, splashy sequences which are high on invention and would have children demanding a submarine for Christmas.
Feminists will be affronted by Sandra Bullock. As indeed will any intelligent, independent woman. Given that Miss Congeniality is essentially a wish-fulfilment, My Fair Lady-style comedy (wrapped up in thrills), it is still impossible to accept for one minute that FBI agent Sandra Bullock would make such a volte-face that she goes from chippy, surly, tomboy professional to actively embracing the beauty contest (in which she takes part so as to trap a mad bomber) and understanding its contestants. En route she is comprehensively remodelled and rebuilt (like a car whose parts have been assembled in the wrong order) by beauty-pageant consultant Michael Caine to re-emerge as an ultra-feminine, high-heeled stunner. And that’s fine, an acceptable part of the fantasy we expect and accept in this kind of comedy. Bullock, who also produces, ought either to have had much more input, or input of the right sort. She does, for example, rely on her familiar gaucheness and irritating snorty laugh as a substitute for wit, and on a simpering Rhode Island bimbo (a contestant) for the satire. Since she is quite a character in real life it is odd that Bullock readily accepts her own role, that of an upstart agent who is brighter than her colleagues, who suffers from a by-the-book boss and who, naturally, will solve the crime and redeem herself by the end. In other words, a tiresome cliché. Bullock has also chosen wrongly in director Donald Petrie who doesn’t seem to realise that this kind of comic fantasy needs zip. Too many scenes are too long, resulting in a big blancmange of a film. By contrast, the burgeoning romance between Bullock and a colleague is barely there, as is the thriller sub-plot which regularly takes a hike. Yet there are moments which are crisp and funny, and most of them occur in the encounters between Bullock and Caine, whose way with one-liners enlivens several scenes. As she attempts to walk like a beauty queen, he mutters both sarca
stically and lugubriously ‘I haven’t seen a walk like that since Jurassic Park’. Still, a few cute lines and a smattering of lively scenes do not an entire movie make.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is very very funny indeed. A mixture of big, amusing moments and quick asides (both verbal and visual), it plays down the brooding introspection of Bridget, turning even it into a further source of fun. This I know, not because I read the book, but because I watched the film in the company of two young ladies whose lifestyles (at home yearning for a man, with only fags, red wine, a good book and Frasier on the telly for company) are similar to Bridget’s and who were about to be interviewed for TV. Certainly as an upbeat romantic comedy, Bridget Jones’s Diary is the most accomplished example in ages. Beginning with Bridget’s mother’s turkey-curry Christmas party (Bridget: ‘I call him uncle, even though he gropes my arse’), and following Bridget through her tatty-flat and autopilot office routine in London, to her intense emotional muddle caused by her fancying the boss (Hugh Grant) and being confusingly drawn to Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), a family friend she dislikes, the movie is lifted by crisply-timed comedy, inventive, punchy set-ups (literally in one scene, where Bridget’s two suitors brawl while singing Happy Birthday), and an enchanting performance from Renée Zellweger. Whether playing Bridget as dopey and girlish or grown-up and in charge, the star always makes sure we know the needy lady is nice. She is matched in excellence by both Grant, gifted at suggesting there is something less pleasant beneath a charming veneer, and Firth, the comic (and sometimes poignant) epitome of the repressed, inarticulate upper middle-class Englishman. Like Bridget, Mark has a hole in his life, and the sadness of this – as well as the sense that he is a prisoner of himself - is highlighted economically by the warmth, spontaneity and chattiness of the relationship between Bridget and her boss. These are three performances which are just brimming with life. Look out for the blue soup.
Name: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Author: J.K. Rowling. Type of book: This book is a mixture between an adventure, mystery and a thriller. Main Characters: Harry who goes to Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry and his friends there Ron and Hermione. The bad guy in this book is Voldemort who is a dark wizard that Harry stops from stealing the Philosopher’s stone that is hidden beneath Hogwart’s castle. Main Events: Apart from learning to cope with the everyday life of being a wizard, harry realises that a stone that gives eternal life and makes gold is hidden in Hogwarts. Harry and his friends think that their potions teacher Professor Snape is trying to steal the stone and they try to stop him. They know that the stone is hidden underneath trapdoor on the third floor corridor, so when the headmaster is away, they realise that this is a perfect opportunity for Snape to steal the stone, they go after him. Harry, Ron and Hermione have to go through series of tests to get to the stone including a giant chess set where Ron gets knocked over and a logic test where Hermione sends Harry to get the stone and she goes back to help Ron. Harry is on his own now. He stands face to face not with Professor Snape but with Voldemort. Harry defeats him, Harry gets the stone and they all lived happily ever after. Mark out of 10: I would give Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone massive 9 out of 10.
During the past quarter century, abortion has joined race and war as one of the most debatable subject of controversy in the United Kingdom. It discusses human interaction where ethics, emotions and law come together. Abortion poses a moral, social and medical dilemma that faces many individuals to create an emotional and violent atmosphere. Abortion is the operation that expels the foetus prematurely from the womb. There are many points of view towards abortion but the only two fine distinctions are "pro-choice" and "pro-life". A pro-choicer would feel that the decision to abort a pregnancy is that of the mothers and the government has no right to interfere. A pro-lifer would hold that from the moment of conception, the embryo or foetus is alive. This life imposes on us a moral obligation to preserve it and that abortion is tantamount to murder. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 allows a pregnancy to be terminated up to 24 weeks (normal full term pregnancy is 40 weeks). This is unbelievable considering premature babies can survive at 25 weeks. Surely this baby was a human being in the womb a few weeks earlier. This human being has the right to life. The UN Declaration of the Right of the Child states that children need protection before, as well as after birth. The 1990 Act protects the mental and physical health of the pregnant woman over the life of the baby. The pregnant woman’s decision to terminate the pregnancy is taken as greater than the right of the unborn child, conveniently called foetus, to live. Modern science proves that the unborn child is a separate human being from conception, not at any time part of his of her mother’s body. Abortion has always been part of society often sordid and dangerous. However having legal abortions has meant that pregnant women have been protected from unscrupulous practise, back street abortions This is a viable argument. However the number of
abortions is increasing. Why? Is this perceived as a quick fix? Is society taking the easy way out? or is our promiscuous society being irresponsible regarding contraception? Abortion means the premature expulsion of the foetus from the womb, an operation to cause this. Medical people are required to perform this. Abortions are carried out in a number of ways depending on how far on in the pregnancy. This can be by drugs to induce labour or by surgery using vacuum aspiration to suck the foetus from the womb. Some medical staff who performs these operations have difficulty in coping with the ethical questions especially healthy babies being discarded. Many staff chose not to take part. In Northern Ireland the UK law on abortion has not been adopted due to political pressure. Ireland also has no provision for abortion for religious reasons. There are people out there who want to adopt babies but few are available. The Pro-life argument would say that pregnant women with “unwanted pregnancies” are forced into making a decision to abort as early as possible without having time to examine to consequences and the alternatives. James Dobson has quoted that in America there are almost as many couples wanting to adopt as there are getting abortions. These couples are having to look to other countries for babies to adopt. Scientific research has successfully shown that abortion causes many psychological side effects. It leaves the woman with many strong feelings about their decision. They feel sadness, wishing things could have been different and grief for a lost life. Guilt arises because they know a foetus represents an independent life. Anger builds up towards other people having to do with their decision. Sometimes the mother may feel that she has in fact been abandoned. Most of all the mother feels ashamed and embarrassed about her action. People close to the mother may be angry with her for ending her pregnancy and make it difficu
lt for her to deal with. Even years after the abortion, women tend to remember the regretful experience. They usually wonder what the baby would have looked like and its birthday. A woman from Florida had five abortions. She realises now that they all left emotional scares on her that are unbearable. "It wasn't just a mass of cell it was children I was killing." It maybe a month or a year but feelings do catch up with the mother. Symptoms like nightmares, panic attacks and flashbacks are signs of a recently discovered Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS). According to a study published by Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Valves and Social Change, one in five women studied had diagnosable stress disorders. Also two in five had sleep disorders and flashbacks following abortion. In the UK it is legal to have an abortion at any stage when the child is disabled. Only one thousand, nine hundred and forty three of those aborted are “Substantial risk of serious disability of child” just over 1% of total abortions in 1996. Unwanted pregnancies often occur due to ignorance and lack of available contraception e.g. the “morning after pill” is a drug available from doctor or A and E hospital dept. it has to be taken within 72 hours of conception. This information alone could lead to the reduction of the number of unwanted pregnancies. The pro-choice lobby could do more education in contraception and ensure easy access to the post conception pill that would reduce fears of pregnancy and avoid the mental distress of unwanted pregnancy and abortion. The 1990 Act defends the rights of the pregnant woman to choose to end the pregnancy. There are a few points, which are positive for abortion. Doctors in India have transplanted light-sensitive cells from the eyes of 14-19 week-old healthy aborted foetuses into the eyes of blind adults suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa. Healthy foetal tissue used is in expe
rimental treatment for Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Abortion is a gift to society? Abortion is gift to the pregnant woman who for whatever reason does not want to continue with her pregnancy. Each one has their own story and individual difficulties that have led to this option being considered. For her abortion is a way out with proper medical care and a legally clear conscience. Abortion or adoption? That is a difficult choice when we humans are made to care for our young and anything else causes guilt. Alas the ‘problem’ removing abortion leaves another kind of problem, one of lingering guilt and grief. Abortion is not a gift to society. At least the legalising of abortions up to 24 weeks is not. The debates of Pro-life and Pro-choice continue to indicate that the 1990 Act is not universally supported. Perhaps therein lies the gift to society. Individuals are forced into thinking of a life when the law in general places no value on the unborn child. (The mother 8 months pregnant with twins who were killed in the 1999 Omagh bombing was counted as one death, not three) Abortion is a curse to society; rose tinted spectacles and wishful thinking aside life has some awful hardships to deal with. Rape and incest do happen and it’s the girls, some too young to know about pregnancy and to frightened to ask or even where to askwho live with the consequences. It is probably for such as these that abortion has been made legal. However abortion has become a ‘way out’ of a problem pregnancy that has resulted from irresponsible sexual activity. The 1996 Abortions for England and Wales statistics showed an increase of 8.6% (13,333) from the previous year. The comments said there was an increase of 15.25% in 16-19 year olds and 11.3% increase in abortions for under 16’s, women late 30’s also increased 12.1% The increase in all teenage abortions is worrying and i
f the availability of abortions removes any deterrent for teenagers sleeping around and risking pregnancy then yes abortion has been a curse to society. This social behaviour will lead to other physical and psychological problems that will affect these teenagers for life, this includes the possibility of being unable to have children when they do want to have them. The Government has put a lot of money into promoting virginity in response to this information. The increase in abortions in women in their late thirties suggests they fear disability or perhaps this is a late pregnancy and does not fit with their career plans. Personally I feel that it's an innocent child inside of a woman’s womb. It has a brain and a heart therefore it also has a right to life. "Abortion is the unnatural end of pregnancy”. That child has a right to` life that is equal to the mother’s right. One cannot kill another human being just because they wished it wasn't around. “Abortion is murder of the innocent practised on a national scale." Overall it has been proven that the foetus is a real person. It responds to noise, has feeling and fears. To have an abortion it will destroy an innocent life, which is directly connected to murder. I was reading in a newspaper and found that a man in America punched and kicked is wife in the stomach to kill the baby that she was pregnant with which he knew he wasn’t the father of. The man was taken to court and was sentenced to jail for murder of the baby, which was only 3 months pregnant. I found this quite hypocritical of the American government considering doctors are legally doing the same thing but in a different way which is less harmful to the mother. In the UK abortions are too easily available 95% of abortions in 1996 were done on statutory ground C i.e. risk to the mother’s physical or mental health. This has allowed complete freedom up to 24 weeks. Apparently over
90%of the cases were for ‘emotional disturbance’ which means ‘I don’t want it.’
I have been to venice a number of times at different times in the year. I find it one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities in the world. The city of Venice is fortunate to have a very moderate climate. As a matter of fact the average yearly temperature is 14 degrees centigrade. Winter is rarely very cold and summer is not too warm. Rain however falls as it does everywhere else in the world. This mainly falls from summer to autumn. A peculiar aspect assumes the city during the so-called high tide, or high water as the locals call it. As a rule the waters invade the square of Saint Mark and reach a height of over 0.5 metres. There is walk-ways put there for tourists but personally it is much better to see the square in the dryer season. With the pigeons about and the beautiful blue-grey istrian stone under foot. The gondolas can come over the square in the high tide and you can be taxied around St marks square and all round the city in the one trip. As far as wind is concerned the city is most frequently hit by a north-east wind but never anything disastrous. In mid summer the temperatures average about 25 degrees C. and is very easy to be outside in. The weather is lovely outside. I have been to Venice many times and would go back because of the beautiful weather.
this swap shop website is a great idea! it allows one to swap old things that you dont want for things that you do want. instead of perhaps throwing some old stuff out. think before hand. someone out there could want it. you could swap it for something better and esstenialy you are getting something youwatn for free. the site is in bright contrasting colours and is very easy to work your way around. you can swap anything from computers and telephones to music and videos. the site also allows people to swap vouchers. everyone hates it when you recieve a voucher from someone to spend at a shop that you dont really like. and it just seems like a waste of money. at this site you can swap them for vouchers at froma different shop. i like the idea of this idea a lot and it would be especially best for students or for people on low incomes.