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shikiraclare
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Member since: 19.04.2010

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    • Morphy Richards 40685 / Iron / 33 Readings / 28 Ratings
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      30.06.2010 03:52
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      Keep cool, it's only an iron

      Some like it Hot: This Iron is not the usual run of the mill 2000w laundry press, it is perhaps one of the most advanced steam irons yet to have been born: Morphy Richards spent considerable time and money perfecting a product that undoubtedly had major flaws in it's design from the start, as in the case with all electrical goods before they become mass produced commodities. The result of their efforts to bring the Turbo steam Iron into good repute, means that it must therefore be a popular choice of laundry accessory compared with the original patent. Morphy Richards has been selling electrical goods since 1936, so they have a wealth of expertise and are innovative pioneers: The pilot light indicator for example, is not new according to their history page, "The Senior iron, from 1938, had a unique pilot light to indicate when the temperature was right for different fabrics" so is an age-old addition to the clothes press that has been modified over time to give greater luminosity. I always like to buy electrical products knowing that they are designed upon earlier foundations because it changes your perspective of it's economical value - these aren't expensive and what your paying for is more than just it's optimal performance but more precisely, the company's progressive achievements. You can however buy them a lot more affordable online or from other retail stockists than if you went directly to the firm's store, so if you are on a tight budget, then they need not be unfordable. This specially designed easy to grip Iron comes in a variety of nine shades, so you can purchase one to match your décor if you are colour conscious: I preferably like the soft Lilac one simply because you can see the water level and control it better as it is translucent and not a heavy solid shade. However, once you plug it into the socket, you have to give it at least a few minutes to heat properly and allow the steam to do its hissing and puffing, otherwise if you use it beforehand, it is likely to burn your fingers if in close contact - All steam Irons create the same/similar effects however, so I just accept this as part of its powerful charge and not some fault with the model itself. The mock steel ceramic plate is jet smooth, though you find yourself in a hurry to get your clothes done quickly in the event that they don't get the stamped mark effect that often occurs in ironing situations, yet because it is non-stick, this isn't going to happen even though you anticipate that it could. Again, this demonstrates just how remarkably advanced the Iron itself is. The steam function is ultra powerful: it bursts into full throttle and gives you a free sauna even though it doesn't spit out hot water spots as in other similar models, so this is what makes it so unique and exquisitely so. The ceramic plate base most definitely gets into difficult creases because of the steam function and because of the tapered pyramid point at the end and makes my bed sheets flatter than a shrove Tuesday pancake! You can use this on silk fabric on the lower setting, but you need to squirt the water from the top button so that it creates the uncreased effect as desired. The iron need not be heavy if you fill it with too much water, you can put as little or as much as you like in it but you will need to continually refill it if you are doing a large job, but this is not a technical flaw, just a necessary task. It is so featherlite that it is the least heaviest iron I have ever used, so is definitely worth its monetry value on this desgin alone. Here is what Morphy Richards description of the product specification: Tip Technology - Produces the most dedicated powerful shot of steam ever, allowing you to get into the trickiest of places. This can be used in a horizontal or vertical position. No drip Soleplate Material: Non-Stick Soleplate Wattage: 2000W Steam output: 35g/min Steam Shot: 90g Power cord: 2m Water tank: 400ml Vertical steam: Yes Fine water spray Easy fill tank Easy View Tank It's full features and capacity mean that no other steam Iron manufacturer can replicate this Turbo genius when it performs as an optimal home essential and why more expensive designs are not more popular than the cheaper varieties when they function in the very much the same way. Personally speaking, it is their sheer range of design that is the pulling power of their Turbo press and the fact that Morphy Richards are a keen leader in reducing the carbon footprint when it comes to electricity, they make their Irons with this in mind so they are an ethical company, I have a great deal of trust in their products. How it is they produce a Turbo steam Iron with a low carbon capacity is not something I can answer as am not educated in the subject, but it's amazing nonetheless that they are made to safe ecological standards. They have given me the pleasure of ironing I'd never thought I would ever experience, so my overall conclusion is that they are deserving of their award winning products title, I will always use them as my main electrical goods supplier.

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      • Saracen X-Ess / Bikes / 10 Readings / 7 Ratings
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        30.06.2010 01:51
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        An adult BMX

        As far as 1989 I used to ride a Shopper bike that lasted me a good ten years until I decided that cycling wasn't something I could enjoy as a life-long activity. Recently however, I had some spare cash from my wages and had been thinking of keeping fit for the first time in a long time and so bought this cross-terrain Saracen as a means by which to tone my leg muscles, walking alone doesn't achieve the same results. Although these contemporary mountain bikes retail from anything between £170 to £900, depending entirely where you purchase it, I was fortunate enough to have got mine for free from a friend who continually upgrades their cycles every few years and for reasons to do with a compulsive obession! - she bought this one for £370 but used it only twice so gave it to me as a birthday gift. Even though this manufacturer has been making mountain range bikes for approximately 20 years, Saracen have endevoured to make their cycles a competetive brand ever since the tough terrain BMX entered into a slow decline in the mid 1980s, so something needed to rival the former bestseller and appeal more directly to an 'all-age' market as oppossed to a teenage one. The Urban range is definitely a more popular choice for adults as they are impressively stylish and great for travelling to work as they are designed to withstand all terrains in all weather conditions, though extremely expensive if you are only going to use it for occassional leaisure. The X-cess mountain bike is from the Amplitude range yet is equally just as brilliant as the Urban assortment because it is manufactured in much the same way at a much more affordable price. The Chrome frame is ultra durable against damage so you can't easily dent it as you can other similar makes of bike if the feel of this solid metal is anything to go by. The gears can easily be adjusted to whatever speed you prefer, I usually keep mine to a single one because it produces a smoother ride on the whole but will be a lot harder on the legs on a higher setting, so it is all to do with preference more than anything else. The great thing about this bike though asides from its super-sporty design, is that it has the same cycling quality as that of a racing bike at single speed, though slightly more heavy duty by comparison. Despite this minor technicality, it is a fantastic alternative if you are wanting a hybrid sort of bike that can perform excellence under duress. It's great for going up steep hills and even better going down them so isn't tempramental in anyway and you have full control and grip of the handle bars that are slightly raised at the ends to provide maximum support. Other features of the bike include: Comes with a guarantee in case of any design fault or accidental damage Uses a standard tire pump not a specialist presta valve one that are more costly and used primarily for racers. Seat extention: suitable for anyone of average height up to six feet tall (300mm) - The handle bar can be raised though only to some few inches, so if you are lofty, you will be cycling from an arched back position so could be an uncomfortable ride, my partner if 6ft5 and cannot rise this at all. Do not require a full set of spanners to adjust the settings - it comes with tools provided that are simple and easy to use. Cushioned seat so is not a hard plastic strip of plastic and makes your journey a very comfy one on the bottom! Saracan claims that "Our entry CR1 features a 100% cromo frame and fork, 3pc cromo cranks with sealed BB and runs on 24" wheels" so is clearly manufactured to the highest standards - I'm useless at describing technical terms to do with cycles, or understanding what their sole functions are, so if you are knowledgable about bikes, then this information might be of some use to you? Some people might consider this bike to be a street surfer because of just how urban it does look, though in my opinion it is definitely a multi-terrain hybrid that can do a lot more than just look cool - I once breifly lent a racer for a week a few yeara ago and you would not be able to tell the difference in terms of the quality of ride, only except that it is a fraction more heavier. The key thing with all bikes however is that you get them stamped for free at your local police station so as to give it some protection against theft, but this doesn't necessarily mean that it is a fullproof safety measure as many of my friends have had their bikes stolen regardless of whether it was stamped or not, but just gives you an added sense of security. Oiling the chain every few months is also very important as it can get locked when you least expect it to and so isn't good when you are in a hurry to get somewhere and have to take it off to sort the problem out. I remember going head over heels on my Shopper for failing to oil my chain, so I recommend doing this at least every eight weeks. My only real concern is that the fork suspension (the bit that is attached to the wheel) although gives brilliant steering, can create a spring effect whenever you break, so worry that this will eventually damage the bike's durability over time, though it is too soon to tell as haven't had it all that long.

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      • Miss Potter (DVD) / DVD / 33 Readings / 30 Ratings
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        26.06.2010 21:25
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        sublime stuff

        There are absolutely no films I can think of in which Renee Zellweggar is a dissapointing disaster, perhaps because of her vocal versatility or her spontenaiety or a mixture of both, I don't quite know except that she has an innovative presence that just seems to leap in bounds and adapt terifically well to any role she is assigned. Personally I dreaded the idea of an American actress playing the part of the english treasured Beatrix Potter out of fear that she would be made way more glamorous than she simply never was. Renee isn't one of those pretentious actresses, though it is easy for directors to stylize period drama films for instance, with some degree of passion. Much to my surprise however, Renee did an outstanding performance that actually gave the elusive Beatrix spirited character even if it was a slightly scatty rendition, very few people knew this illustrator and author who will now associate her as slightly eccentric, yet very pioneering lady with such exquisite talents in this biographical drama. The film takes an appropriate subtle shooting of Beatrix (Zellweggar) from afar as she sits and writes in a vacant field in the opening scene so as to give the audience a legitimate scope of her introversion from the start and which we are not anticipating someone vivacious, just a blank canvass that we can make an immediate impression before she swings into full character as the film progresses. This shows intelligent sensitivity of the scriptwriters who have approached the initial introduction of Beatrix to the audience in a non-assumming manner, a prerequisite method of writing of any biographical account if it is to execute an unbiased person portrayal. Zellweggar's Potter is a timid woman of 32, her upright mother Helen, is eager to find her a suitor so that she is married off and live the reserved existence as all respectable Victorian women were encouraged. Helen's formidable presence and rigid values means that her relationship with Beatrix is one of discontent, that her daughter is desperate to be freed from the shackles of a burdened lifestyle, her imposing mother wants her to set the right example and to be accepted into wider social circles, all far too pretentious for the astute Beatrix who simply wants recognition and appreciation of her graphic creativity. The director Chris Noonan, casts her from a binary angle, one in which she is assertively passionate about her own work that she performs an over-excitable personality, engages only with those who are interested in her work, makes her appear slightly self-absorbed if we were to misunderstand her from another perspective. On the flip side of the same coin, she is reserved, sensitive to new experiences as well as humanely spirited, it's as if Beatrix has a split personality accompanied by momentary regressions, it's not easy to decipher what Noonan or even Zellweggar, the executive producer, is trying to inform us when Renee is such a high-keyed actress, renowned for her impulsive quickness that stamps out any contrived role playing, she is an adept invention all of her own creation and why it is she stands out above all other accomplished celebrities of this contemporary generation, who can act the part of any bohemian character victoriously. Something that wasn't so clearly obvious in the film, is that given that Beatrix never received a formal education of any description, had meant that Noonan had to convey this lack of fundamental development without it appearing as if she was mentally disabled - Zellweggar did manage to make Beatrix slightly on the cusp between being a little neurotic and innocently child-like, so the audience are left to make their own analysis about why it is they think the famous author displays extremes of aroused responses to disparaging circumstances. Noonan's weakness is revealed here to some degree as there is a definite feeling that Beatrix has gone a bit potty after 32 years of reclusiveness!. However, it took until the ending of the film for me to feel firm about who I think Beatrix really was in real life asides from her legendary creative writing and remarkable illustrations. The producers helped to explain why it was she talked to her character drawings as if they were engaged in a mutual conversation when they cast Lucy Boynton as the child Beatrix, making friends with immaginary creations that became her life companions even throughout her womanhood years. We receive a fuller account of what we may well not have understood if it hadn't have gone back and forth between the past and present of her life. The special effects department gave bewitching animation to her drawings, it illuminated the actuality of Beatrix's convinced relationship with Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck, you regress yourself back to childhood stories in which you placed so much belief in your favourite imaginary creatures, adults often lose touch as they become responsible subjects and, Beatrix breaks all the rules and teaches the grownup population the importance of keeping your inner child alive, this film is precisely targeted for an adult audience, though equally enchanting for children alike. There were hauntingly sad scenes around every corner, a sure-fire certainty that this is moving biopic and not just a period drama of the life of a celebrated writer. Beatrix business relationship with Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor) was the beginning of her self-governing journey that also gifted her with a swirling romance, she and Norman got engaged, much to the dissaproval of her parents given that he wasn't of affluent stock enough for their daughter. The conflict of relationship tensions within the potter circle were far more physically audible, the scriptwriters deftly seized an oppurtunity in which the cast could communicate contention through body language expression so as not to invite unnecessary biased judegment on the strict family values. The most heart-rendering moment of the film for me is when Norman takes ill and dies whilst Beatrix is on vacation, returns home to her room and dances with tears in her eyes to the same wind-up music box track, that she listened and cried to after Norman proposed to Beatrix earlier in the movie. Even Beatrix's special bond with Millie (Emily Watson), Norman's fiesty sister, is an emotional matter simply because they both share the same loathing for contrived tradition, upper class Victorian society demanded that women played a certain function, Mille's positive influence on Beatrix aided in her own desires to become her own person and why the scriptwriters included her character so as to draw emphasis upon where Beatrix acquired inspiration to win additional self belief in her writing career. Something else this film does remarkably poigniant is that it unveils the revolution of maiden colour printing technology that without it, Beatrix would never have managed to sell so many copies of her stories in shaded format, just a two-tone black and white which would not have made her illustrations as delectable as they were and had a profound affect on their marketing value. Beautifully included was her purchase of Hill Top farm in Cumbria for which was left to the national trust after her death. Although the film location didn't feature the estate, it certainly captured an idyllic country house with acres of land for which Beatrix required seclusion having gown up in isolation in her bedroom with just her brother and house servants for companionship. The film didn't include all her other brothers, perhaps because in reality, they were somewhat older and didn't really participate in her world for them to be included in the script? 92 minutes, doesn't divulge everything about Beatrix life and ends with her friendship with Heelis (Loyd Owen), the handsome young man that featured earlier in her childhood years. However, the rest of this liason they share, is left to our own immagination, just some concluding text at the end of the film that announces that Beatrix and Heelis went on to marry and much to the dissaproval of Helen, her father had shown enthusiasm for his daughter's ambitions earlier in the film, yet equally dissaproved of her marriage to Norman and, perhaps under duress to his wife, but if this were not a biographical project, his relationship with Beatrix could have been a very inspirational one and rendered a contrary result. Overall, this will be a treasurable archive even for generations to come if Beatrix's books continue to remain just as popular in the future as they are now today.

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          26.06.2010 09:51
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          More than just a hypnotist

          I am the first to write a review on this, so perhaps this is one of Paul McKenna's least popular programme? It's pretty amazing to think that this world acclaimed leading hypnotist is also somewhat of a therapist and without ever having studied years of psychology as I had done, but I like the fact that he approaches his subject from a very affirmative knowing: he doesn't waffle complex terms or even include them in his books and why it is they are so popular as self-help guides. The introduction, he begins by explaining that this programme is written for those of us who have gone through a split in our realtionship with someone we love and cherish, but affected deeply by the ensuing pain and suffering that occurs as a result. The first chapter then goes into some depth about what heartache is all about and how we can recognise its devestating affect: as always however, he draws upon his own personal experiences of loss and so this makes his influential quality that much more credible - you can't help but feel that you are listening to a wise Jedhi knight instructing you on how to survive the plights of outer space navigation! Even the fact that he uses a self-designed three core systems of human being model makes his teachings that much more expert - he does however acknowledge that he has spent some 15 years of his career in conferences with psychiotherapists, he has clearly studied their own counselling methods in some depth as discusses in his book how it is that their own approach has some major flaws. He claims that even though they are competent speakers, they have a very different view of the human being compared with himself, so understands very well that most of these trained professionals, although they are extremely intelligent, lack the kind of people skills that are fundamental tools whilst working as any kind of therapist. In total there are seven chapters: 1)What is Heartbreak? 2)How do I stop feeling so bad? 3)What is the point of these feelings? 4)How do I cope with my ex? 5)Why did it happen to me? 6)How can I feel better about myself? 7)Falling in love again. Most, if not all of us will be seduced by the fact that he seems to understand human trauma in ways that we ourselves have some idea of how pain manifests in our hearts, but have no idea of how to manage and cope with the overwhelming feelings that often need expression - we are stuck for words in how to interpret our feelings and where it is that McKenna comes in. He gives voice to those painful feelings and gives good solid examples of where they come from and why they are afflicting the human mind, body and soul. To me, he is the father of psychology and makes far more logical sense than even some of the greatest therapists that have ever been born such as Jung and Rogers, though they were from a very time capsule and involved in experimental psychology techniques and were encouraged by the heirachy of their career objectives to be clinical, not personal and people-orientated as McKenna undoubtedly is. I lost the CD that came with this book but imagine that it has a similar hypnotic trance effect to that of his earlier programmes - I couldn't stop myself from laughing at the spawning whale sounds in the background, or what appeared to be something of that nature, so was left feeling unable to take his audio therapy sessions seriously even though his written works are far more engaing and full of practical excercises you can follow. If you haven't yet read it, I shan't write more in case I ruin the review, but in my opinion is a fantastic read if it is relevant to yourself or you are studying for a degree in psychology. I bought my copy for £1.00 in a local charity shop as ordinarily they retail at £10.99 or even less if bought from on line stores such as Amazon given that the book is four years old.

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          • Strike - The Baseballs / Music Album / 16 Readings / 14 Ratings
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            26.06.2010 08:53
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            They ought to have done a real Elvis comeback tour

            If your looking for something different to listen to then this CD is it. The Basballs Strike compliation comprises of three young male musicians: Digger, Sam and Basti. I'd never heard of them before and wasn't even certain of wether I would like their sound when the album cover renders a picture of the pack, dressed and posed in the same way you would expect of the sixties Rat trio: Sinatra, Martin and Davis Jr. It looked suspiciously uncool even though Swing is back in town with the gifted Ray Quinn who made it universally more acceptable for this distinctive style of music to be re-popularised. It spawned a new generation of Jazz singers, we are currently blessed with Michael Buble', who although has been around a lot longer than Quinn, has only of late, become an international sensation. The Baseballs are primarily a rock and roll triad and this certainly comes across in this album, though has such a jazz quality that it is difficult to decide what genre the band actually fall more precisely into. Perhaps because there are some hidden technical manipulations is uncertain, though what is clear, is that the exciting array of musical instruments gives it a real kick in each of the action tracks, you can't help but play this on full volume - All tracks are produced by JMC music and engineered by A.John who could be the first Canadian Primeminister if searching for this character on Google is anything to go by! Each song is a cover-version of other recent songs: the first Track is "Umberella" initially sung by queen of R&B Rhianna, whose own original creation has since been covered by other artists, so the Baseballs struck lucky that she didn't mind them doing a version of their own if only to keep the song alive for as long as possible because music listneres, will always associate the hit with this diva, whoever does a recital of it. The very sombre tempo that Rhianna vocalizes it, gives it a deep and meaningful power, the Baseballs jump right ahead and spark it with fire-crackers to liven it as if it were a tango twist! The most striking thing about their sound is that all three, equally resonate as Elvis Presley, though could be mistaken for the 80s' Elvis impersonator Shaking Stevens or even Elvis Costello. They whop the beat that give all the tracks an authentic 1950s bebop quality that only adds to the confusion as to whether this is jazz or rock themed or a bit of both? You get 12 tracks in total, though each have a slightly different quality apart - some slow, some whizzing fast, so you get a mixed bag of goodies, this CD is great for parties but not everyday listening unless you are a big Elvis fan. Perhaps something your mother would like if she is in her 70s, though a great introduction to old rock styles the younger generations can get themselves interested! It cost £10 in sainsbury's but wouldn't have spent this amount if I were buying it for myself as it was something my partner picked out and twisted my arm to get it for him! A fuller summary I posted on Ciao.

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          • In The Cut (DVD) / DVD / 20 Readings / 19 Ratings
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            23.06.2010 02:32
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            rather watch paint dry

            Meg Ryan fans might like this simply because it resonates as a more erotic version of when Harry met Sally, though made some 14 years after she initially came to fame not that long after pursuing a career in Journalism. Even though In The Cut is a crime thriller, there's something about Ryan that makes it mildly horrendous, your mind is elsewhere throughout the film because of the way she toys with the camera men/women like a playful puppy, demanding attention. At the time of watching the film, I had the volume low because it was after 11pm and where I live you have to keep the noise to a minimum after this time. As a result, I could barely hear the dialogues taking place so had to read between the lines which I am actually quite good at as used to teach basic Makaton sign language and lip-reading, so all wasn't lost. I arrived at the scene where Ryan (Frannie) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Pauline) were exchanging a personal heart-to-heart moment, Pauline bestows a beautiful charm bracelet to her step-sister, one particular piece is a pram with a baby that later features as a crucial artifact of evidence in Pauline's murder case. This part of the film where the two are discussing their personal issues, you get a sense that nothing fast and furious is going to follow, though you assumme Frannie to be the one in danger at some point due to the fact that she acts oblivious, carefree and less decisive about her needs or wants whilst Pauline is far more emotional; seemingly self-assured as well as a little neurotic/deluded given the narrative that takes place. Their bond is particularly strong even despite the fact that Frannie is in the know about their deceased mother and father, Pauline is like a fascinated child wanting to learn all about what she is otherwise in the dark, so from this perspective, their personal vulnerabilities switch roles: a clever approach from Jane Campion, its writer and director, to conflict our notions about who we might assume is the more weaker/stronger of the two and therefore resistent or not to viscous attack, you instinctively know from this that the film isn't about a girls night in: the title of the film and its heavy pouring of rain, thunder claps in the dark that it's going to be about killing but is far too benign in the immediate circumstances to make a fuller decision. I wasn't amazed that this movie was based upon a novel, the acting signified that it wasn't fresh material, plenty of films such as Fatal Attraction could have all been written by one author, not a string of them who run out of orignal ideas so do their own accounts of a same-themed projects, usually with predictable outcomes. More precisely however, this tale has a definite touch of Stripped To Kill about it from 1987, the 1980s saw an explosion of erotic thriller films, so watching In The Cut seems outdated given that it was made in 2003 - the quality of the camera-work and all other visual effects, placed you back in a twenty year time capsule. Nicole Kidman and Campion apparently spent five years working on the movie, they really ought not to have bothered. The real highlights were about repressed sexuality (not to be confused with sexual orientation), the dangers of getting too frisky with someone you hardly know or trust and the bizzare theatrical scenes of Frannie's fantasized memories of her newly engaged parents skating on a frozen pond dressed like characters from the Night Before Christmas. These clips were disturbingly surreal and a fantastic addition to an otherwise, exploited drama - They were pretty menacing and skin-crawling so the artistic producers creative efforts are to be commended at least if nothing else. One decision Campion got right was casting Mark Ruffalo as detective Malloy, he is always a great choice of actor for any kind of thriller, I recall him in the real-life based film WACO - he truly creeped me out and so his familiar presence put me on guard at least momentarily, but was a pussycat in parts of In The Cut so now unsure if he will ever be credible in any other role he might act in the near future? Overall I certainly wouldn't have gone out of my way to watch this film, it's nothing as roller coaster scary as Fatal Attraction nor even as spine tingling as Jack The Ripper, it misses the point it tries to make mostly because the acting was floppy and lacked direction, so for this reason as Debroah Meaden from Dragon's Den put's it: I'm Out!

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              23.06.2010 00:19
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              Not just crisps and tea, breakfast and evening meals too!

              "On the National Express there's a jolly hostess Selling crisps and tea She'll provide you with drinks and theatrical winks For a sky-high fee Mini-Skirts were in style when she danced down the aisle Back in '63 (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah) But it's hard to get by when your arse is the size Of a small country" The Divine Comedy kind of sums up the fifty year life span of public passenger transport in general, the (quality of service) has remained largely unchanged even since the advent of privatisation in the early 1990's, 'Since flotation, the company has developed a strong reputation for successfully transferring companies from the public to the private sector, primarily in the UK but also overseas' according to the National Express Group history site, so have expanded rapidly in just twenty years alone and, without compromising its loyalty to its 1972 origins when it first officially became established by its branding. Time Line of significant dates taken from the company history information: 1992: National Express Group floats on London Stock Exchange 1995: Acquisition of West Midlands Travel, one of the UK's largest bus companies 1996: Enters UK rail market with acquisition of Gatwick Express and Midland Mainline 1998: Enters US transport market with acquisition of Durham School Services 2004: Enters London bus market with acquisition of Travel London 2005: Enters Spanish coach and bus market with acquisition of Alsa 2007: Acquisition of Continental Auto in Spain Because I hate travelling by coach, I regularly get the train to where I want to go and there is a National Express train that runs from Woking (where I am located) to London, this is the East Anglia route and costs £16.40 anytime day return or around £11.60 single. Given that I usually have a bike with me, its esential that there are cycle racks onboard, so the National Express is fully equipped with these in the standard train coaches for which you don't have to pay any extra fee. I also like the fact that they have spent a lot of their generated profits in recent years, decking their coaches out with suspended luggage racks; mother and baby suites; larger waste bins and even national current affairs papers/magazines in some of the first class sections. South West Trains on the otherhand, are nowhere near as spacious or styled in an accommodating fashion, they simply are designed with business commuters in mind as oppossed to families and everyone inclusive and yet, charge extortionate prices for even standard day return tickets, I'd rather walk to London than pay their fayres! Breakfast? Normally I eat before I leave my flat in the morning so have no need to buy breakfast anywhere. However, I was overwhlemed by the smell of Bacon and Sausages, a couple at one of the tables had ordered a full English at 11am that made me feel so ravenous, I wanted to go up and ask them how on earth they were being served specially made food on a train without appearing as if I wanted to rob them of their elevenses. I had no idea that people could order a cooked meal on a train journey, just sandwhiches, crisps and tea etc, so this was a quiet little surprise at some point, I am yet to experience this additional privilege even if I have to dig deeper into my small loose change. I am aware that National Express have always served food on their coaches for instance, but certainly nothing more than snack type delights, so they really have made significant progress: a new song needs to come out to rival the contemporary parody of life on the buses/trains so that it reflects the 21st century modernization of public passenger transport services. Value for money What I will say about National Express trains in particular, they are definitely a cheaper commuter alternative than any public transport service I have ever known and yes, they even have reclining seats! - I used to dread those long coach trips when I lived in Birmingham (National Express headquarters) to the South East. They felt like really long slow journies even though the coach was doing a minimum speed of 65mph on a motorway! - The rural pastures beyond the pullover horizon were always fascinating, but screaming babies, tittering oldies and the scrunching of crisp packets just irritated me after six hours of not being able to drop off for a short while. I also recall the queues to get to the toilet at the back of the coach, I would sit and hold on until the driver eventually stopped at a station where you could get off and do your essentials. Surely after having many decades of such experience in travel, the multimillion pound business have by now, arrived at the peak of their expertise and finally giving commuters value for money. I am certainly of the opinion that they distribute their gross revenue to better their services in everyway (unlike) many other public transport industries, refurbishment of seats is no indication that they care about their customers feelings - they need to follow example of what National Express have achieved to which they even publish brochures of their full services. They may be an age-old industry, but they have continued to thrive without losing their primary identity and pour every resource into satisfying rewards you don't pay a sky-high fee - The joke in the song is meant as a contradiction, not a serious reality.

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                21.06.2010 22:17
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                Not everything has to buzz to be a sky-rocket success

                Of a different opinion: Surprisingly, although this film has received mixed response in other film reviews: my own view is that it is one of the most credible Sci Fi thrillers I have ever yet felt satisfied of its plausible reality. Perhaps because of the mega chromium android Gort or because of the dazzling special effects? I don't know why I found myself so pulled into the the whole thing, except that the entire film presents itself as a Marvel Comic revival about a robot at its most superlative: the original writer's intention when he wrote "The day that the earth stood still" was to render it convincing fiction in a time when 1950s cybernetics/nanotechnology and aliens were something of a novel idea and something that science fiction authors exploited these notions, if only to make conclusions about an uncertain future. Having never seen the original 1951 release, the highly anticipated new film emerged as a slow project that was meant to have debuted in May 2008 according to movie news reports, but arrived in Dec that same year. The 2008 version features an all-star creative cast such as Keanu Reeves, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Jennifer Conolly, all of who have worked on big budget films before, so understand the pressures of making a box office film for which they have plenty of experience. The writers consist of Harry Bates, who wrote the original short story, David Scarpa, Ryne Douglas Pearson (Mercury Rising) and Stuart Hazledine (Blade Runner, The Knowing) all of who have worked on similar Sci Fi thrillers themed films, so therefore understood what juncture in which the director Scott Derrickson wanted this film to lead. Derrickson himself, a lesser experienced controller of artistic productions, managed the psychological thriller "Hellraiser Inferno" series in 2000, so was prepared for something with greater ambition that The Day The Earth Stood Still provided insatiable scope. The film chillingly opens in the year 1923 in an Antartic terrain of India when a bioscientist (Reeves) discovers an extraterrestial phenomenen, he attempts to pick-axe at the illuminous sphere that sheds blinding light: You wouldn't think this opening scene has anything to do with the rest of the movie, yet fastforwards to some leap years ahead into the near future, so makes it full of intrigue from the start. Originally, even before 1951, Harry Bates and Edmund North wrote the story from a very early post-war perspective before it was made into a film, so the writers for this 2008 adaption, had to create their own futuristic society equally as convincing. It is hard to tell in what decade of the 21st century we land up, but we know that technology is far more advanced and, for which makes this jump from the past into a present territory, something we can't make any logical connection from this end of the bridge - a hallmark of brilliant Sci Fi film. Now in the future, earth is visited by alien beings who receive a welcome shooting from the American military defence, one drops to it's death but is then revived and begins the mission he is assigned to save the planet and some of its species from human destruction. I haven't gone into any detail precisely for the reason that I don't want to ruin anything for anyone who hasn't yet seen it. However, if you have ever seen Independence Day, then this film bears striking resemblance and not merely because of it being alien-themed, but more specifically because of what it entails. Perhaps if Roland Emmrich directed The Day The Earth Stood Still instead or as well as Indpendence Day, then his approach may well have been fully loaded with special effects, yet the issue with this exploited area of film-making is that we grow too accustomed to what it can achieve and what its limitations are. Personally, I think that Derrickson has the edge over quite a number of contemporary directors simply because the film doesn't rely entirely upon technical and visual manipulations to unecessary extremes. Keanu Reeves and the family he befriended featured far more in this film than any special effects - exactly the intention and purpose of derrickson so as to tell it from the perspective of a moral inquiry, not from a point of view that it is pure terror, likey why those who didn't enjoy it couldn't get to grips with it's bare essential human-bonding effect or the fact that Gort was indestructibley dull given that there are only two or three scenes in which its cyberoptic lazer killing eye does some impressive damage. We make the assumption that this lofty, well armoured andriod, is going to be center of stage simply because of how it emerges from out of the thick fog after landing on earth, the defence army realise just how bomb-proof it is - often a reliable indication in a film that the enemy must be destroyed, so therefore will need a lot of plots in which to bring it down. The production team's strength is witnessed here in that they deliberated over what approach to take and, thankfully they made an informed decision to place more emphasis upon other aspects of the movie that if it had of been all about Gort, then it would be nothing more than a predator verses prey thriller and leave plenty of room for valid criticism. Another poigniant thing that works for this film is that Helen Benson's son, Jacob (Jaden Smith) acts brilliantly well as Reeves' defiant adversary before a friendship is later struck. Jacob raises the time old question of whether it is moral to destroy the enemy before it gets you - his immediate response is to have the alien forces eliminated, something he believed that his father would have done if still alive. The hairs on my neck stood up when Reeves began going after Jacob - the film scene had made a dramatic shift and felt as if we were entering into The Shining, a demon-spirited Jack Nicholson wildly chasing his son through the ground's maze! What really worked for me was when Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates) United States secretary of defence was cast as one of the central supporting characters, her previous acting roles have mostly been of strong-tempered women whose authorative presence made all the difference to the quality of this film that could easily have flopped into oblivion if someone with lesser personality had have been chosen. She doesn't have to appear for long in any scene when her stealth sharpness does all the key work, she is a memorable actress that stands high above even her own platform and why I was pleased she was also given an exclusive identity in Titanic. The sheer creative talent of this film cannot be underestimated when Acadamy Award winning Weta Digital, is one of the most celebrated digital visual effects company that has made millions of contributions to the film industry over the course of almost two decades: I often read about their artistic achievements in The Film Goer guide, so am fully aware of their successes on the whole. The spectacular sphere's for instance, were merely made from custom plastics with lights placed inside to create the illusion of them being gaseous giant planets: you would never have guessed this when they genuinely appear so outer-worldly and intangible to the imagination, but their website discusses how they created such intergalactic domes so you can read all about it if you visit the WETA site. Clearly, everything about this film is carefully thoughout - even Gore, who was originally designed as a 7 or 8 foot structure in the 1951 film, Harry Bates made him frightening, but not anywhere as near as a 28ft giant in this remake: his uber-build without a voice, makes him something we ought to run and hide. Perhaps the reason as to why people disliked this film is that it is of the old school 'use your immagination' kind - the original would most definitely have frightened plenty of people simply because they didn't live in such an informed society as we do now: televised documenatries expose UFO phenomenen in weekly formats on Sky as well as all other fascinating science programmes, so nothing is left for us to form our own mental images and concepts of extraterrestial life, especially given that so many Sci Fi fantasy films exploit special effects, our expectations are matched to coincide with this. The Day The Earth Stood Still is a rare peculiar and precisely because it isn't brimming with too much information - we must think deeper about it and why I conclude it to be a very exceptional science fiction thriller.

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                • More +
                  21.06.2010 17:13
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                  Will there be an official come back?

                  There are few befitting words I can use to describe this invincible band that have continually reinvented themselves over the course of at least three decades to appeal to new and loyal fan bases alike. I recall their "Tell me Lies" hit single in 1987 when I first ever became familiar with who Fleetwood Mac were and assumed the song to be about a rebellious provocation against religion or politics given the nature of the lyrics. I was just 14 years old when I first heard this hit single from their Tango in the Night album, just before the dreaded Australian sitcom Neighbours spawned music artists such as Kylie minogue and Jason Donavon, the teenage market were encouraged to develop a new taste in pop music, so alternative bands were increasingly losing their grip on a wider audience, Fleetwood Mac by this time, perhaps appealed more precisely to a different, older generation. I had no idea that they were responsible for the creation of 'Rhianna' or 'you make loving fun' when clearly I had heard these songs before in the past, but hadn't made artist associations with the choice of music I listened. The sheer diversity of their sound, means that they have such an eclectic quality as a rock band, whose members are all instrumentally gifted to create anything from ambient ballads right through to soft metal, though they do have a fundamental folk overture, they cannot escape this traditional hallmark for which they have often been more famously celebrated. The remastered compliation has 21 tracks, all of which begin right from the music underground years of 1975 right through to the late 1980s, so this most definitely is a nostalgic album, anyone who has a more longer history recollection of the band will emphatically appreciate this for the memories it generously lavishes, wether you are 30 or 60!. It deservedly belongs at the front-bow of any eclectic music accumulation, where mine currently takes pride of place ahead even of Van Halen but not before Paul Weller Hit Parade - the most gifted musician that ever walked the soil of Surrey. Without question, their music is distinctive and foremost ethnic sounding, you would think that "Little Lies" for instance, was composed with Japan in mind with it's synthesized rendition of a traditional yamatogoto that, creates a thinly distributed rhythm, in the very same way that the DX-7 keyboard had done in the opening theme of this track. Some might think it's a wind device that makes that oriental tune, yet surprisingly not when you consider that electronic instruments were well exploited to great effect within the music industry in the late 70s to the late 80s, Fleetwood Mac were by now, a newfangled invention and shed their folk-fur for legitimate rock and pop. However, I'm still unclear of the meaning of "Little Lies" song when it could be about personal anguish or something more poigniant, Christine McVie gives it some welly with her octave dynamism that just gives the entire hit a mystique identity, it stands alone as a highly emotive piece, even further apart than "Go your own way" that is entirely about her troubled marriage to John McVie who, incidently became the missing link to the Fleetwood-Mac duo soon after him and Mick formed their band in 1967 when disagreements split them temporarily. This song was originally written by Lindsey Buckingham, the 1975 new male addition to the band in which the pain-felt birdcall took on a very different personal meaning and, likely concerning the tensions running through the relationships that disunited the band, especially given the public separation of Nicks and Buckingham. My favourite track is Big Love because it signifys the very best of Fleetwood Mac, the other tracks are superb, but don't have the same revolutionary spirit that this song jumps some feet ahead of the rest, possibly because it is a definite rock composition or because it is sung by Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, whose phenomenal acoustic work lifts the heavy strain of their lyrics so far off the ground, it takes on a unique life all of its own, you wouldn't necessarily recognise this opus as belonging to the same band! "Everywhere" was, and still is popular because it's catchy and memorable pop with such amazing audible depths and heights, Christine individualizes it in the exact same manner as when Katrina and the waves released "walking on sunshine", it is positive as well as sunny. Lots of synth and percussion music is present in this track with a faint drumming contribution from Mick, so is delicate as it is muscular. Just to acknowledge the band members musical strengths, I have written a concise list of who plays what instruments etc, they are as follows: Stevie Nicks ~ tambourine, singer, songwriter Lindsay Buckingham ~ guitar, singer, songwriter Christine McVie ~ piano & keyboard, singer, songwriter John McVie ~ bass guitar Mick Fleetwood ~ drums & percussion, sometimes writes songs The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac remastered compilation is a sharper, crispier and fresher sound overall that some technical editing has refined the audibility of the songs, they are definitely now more compatible with advanced music systems, older ones can create inharmonious listening even with higher-definition CD albums inserted. The tracks on this CD are as follows: 1. Go Your Own Way 2 Don't Stop 3 Dreams 4 Little Lies 5 Everywhere 6 Albatross 7 You Make Loving Fun 8 Rhiannon 9 Black Magic Woman 10 Tusk 11 Say You Love Me 12 Man Of The World 13 Seven Wonders 14 Family Man 15 Sara 16 Monday Morning 17 Gypsy 18 Over My Head 19 Landslide 20 The Chain 21 Big Love (Live From Danc British or American? 1975 was the official beginning of the Feetwood Mac settlement after a lot of upsetting band member replacements/additions from 1967-1975. Surprisingly, a lot of people I know, not the entire general public, misunderstand the origins of Fleetwood Mac and because they have long been associated with Ireland and/or Scotland for reasons even I am not clear, but most people I know often assume that because they have often played instruments such as the tamborine and even Cello, as well as dress casually in Romany outfits, that they therefore must be a Celtic set of some description!. It doesn't help that a significant number of even their newer music covers, feature 30 year old photographs, so are stereotyped as a direct result. In fact, the members are both American and British given that Mick Fleetwood, the only existing original member, took his musical talents to the United States in the late 1960s and formed allegiances with other artists such as Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, as sourced in their biography. Conclusion: The band's rich history is strongly experienced in this compliation and especially more so that their songs have been made supremely sonic without them falling into defiant obscurity as you would assume they easily could with many retro numbers being the target of unkind technical manipulation this century. The result of it being remastered means that it brings the Fleetwood Mac set into the present if only through this gift. The band themselves, have hung their jackets up, we have no idea if they will ever return with new sounds in the near future is uncertain, the album at least keeps them alive and more importantly, their music that has stretched a lot further than all the expiration dates, this band has retired more times than a Conservative government, only to return to the world as if they hadn't been away at all!. It's beautifully exhalting however and something that leapfrogs from one tempo to another, so eliminates the consistency of meloncholic sadness, some of the tracks are bittersweet whilst others just electric.

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                  • Mouse-Hunt (DVD) / DVD / 25 Readings / 25 Ratings
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                    21.06.2010 10:28
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                    special features from the cutting room floor

                    If ever there were a reincarnation of the king of comedy Jerry Lewis, *Lee Evans* is it. The pair could easily be related just by their similarity in looks alone, but it is their identical performance styles that Evans was born as the contemporary twin, bringing colgate comedy to the screen that had only really ever been assigned to radio shows in post war days. 1997 gave back audiences real slapstick tickle with Mouse Hunt, a low budget $38 million project that amassed a whopping $122,417,389 in total gross revenue! - proof enough that a great majority of film enthusiasts recall fond memories of the Laurel and Hardy time-machine, television broadcasting industries kept running these classic greats well after their acting days expired but still live in the minds of everyone they made a wide impression. This Verbinski directed film is a nostalgic comedy act that would have sunk deep if it had made it to cinema in circa 1937, directly because we already had two of the most sucessful stand-up actors in the film business, rival twosome performers faced impossible competition unless they were as skilled as Charlie Chaplin or Norman Wisdom but they were an exception to the rule and a one man band. The combination of Lee Evans (there's something about Mary, Funny Bones) and Nathan Lane; voice-over for many Disney films, are a superb match, they were born to work together if this film is anything to go by! Gregor Verbinski, or Gore as he is more famously addressed, is largely synonomous with his fabulous dire thriller, the ring and the action fantasy, The Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy, so his directing career is a mixed bag of genre, I am in such awe that he was in command of something so archive generated as Mouse Hunt when essentially it is revived filming material for someone of his generation, he created a unique masterpiece that is a two-tone talkie, people in their 90s will unforgettably remember when sound was first given to motion pictures as far back as 1928 - A world apart compared to Gore's 40 something life span! However, the film opening scene witnesses the funeral of Rudolf Smuntz - catastrophe begins when the newly deceased man's sons get into a tussle about the colour of a suit - we make just a brief impression of current events, Verbinski builds on our expectations by eliminating them at this juncture of the film when suddenly silence breaks out as Lars (Lee Evans) manages to create a bombshell of a situation when accidently letting go of the coffin's handle: the weight of it places too much pressure on the other pallbearers that results in Pop tumbling down some stairs and catapulted several feet into the air only to land in a sewer. A fantastic beginning to something that rolls out the laughs as things move on. The duo, Ernie (Nathan Lane) and Lars Smuntz are left to operate and run the stale string factory as instructed by their father's will, neither of them have the passion nor drive to continue on with the business, they are individual entrepreneurs, Lars an unsucessful entertainer and Ernie a chef, both couldn't be more different from oneanother and why their on-screen personalities clash so complimentary - here they are most definitely a Laurel and Hardy reinactment! Several doomed business opportunities await the brothers, Lars attempts to sell the string factory to break free of his father's legacy that has by now gone to ruin but his endevours come to nothing. Ernie is a celebrated cook who regularly serves Mayor McKinkle (Cliff Emmich) at his Chez Ernie restaurant, loses his trade after a cockroach accidently spawns offspring into the food, the Mayor suddenly dies later from a heart attack. Both are left jobless and homeless, so access all resources their father had left behind such as the deeds to a deserted frail mansion, the rest of the film then becomes all about this ill-fated property, occuppied by a slefish mouse bent on sabotaging the Smuntz brothers financial pursuit to auction it off. Amazingly, real mice can be trained to be smart if this film is anything to go by: it escapes all the traps laid down as well as performs acrobatic stunts to get to food and escapes capture, Lars and Ernie are driven to near insanity at just how astute their antgonist makes a mockery of their frustrations. It's not a malevolent creature though, it snuggles like a baby in a self-made bed, surrounded by personal belongings in a home all of its own, stares longingly at a picture on the wall as if it were human with thoughts and feelings and only ever fights for survival, the scriptwriters clearly didn't want to make a thriller flick when this is also suitable for children to watch. Neither is it an animal rights activism stance, it only advocates the intention that places that remain empty, must find someone or something to occupy them and given that the mouse had long settled into the building, Lars and Ernie were the intruders that came to take it all away. From this perspective, we acknowledge what it is the writers and filming crew have set out to achieve: some things in life are far more important than success and wealth, something their father hadn't taught them - perhaps the mouse is the father reincarnated to positive effect? If so, then he is brought back as noble mammal, its charming characteristics and similar human traits to survive, make it less of a threat and make the film as appealing as it is when Mice are considered to be companiable pets. The brother's love hate relationship with the occupant is hysterically funny when they realise that it cannot be outwitted nor destroyed: it becomes a continuation of the very same paralleled desperation they feel to severe all bonds with their father's legacy but circumstances backfire because of their confident greed and lack of humility. The lucky piece of string is thrown into the equasion as a symbol that all will inevitabley turn out well, though is a great teaser, the film encourages the audience to think more deeply about what it represents and how it relates to everything that is happening. As a DreamWorks picture, Verbinski was privileged to have his film onboard this prestigious Speilberg, Katzenberg and Geffen (SKG) ship, a multibillion film studio industry that develops, produces, promotes and markets films, video games in particular. The SKG trio saw the potential of Verbinski's creation who incidentally contributed to the visual effects in his Pirates of the Caribbean works for which the film received five Oscars. Mousehunt didn't do anywhere near as well with just 2 nominations and 2 wins, yet profited massively from all the sales. Perhaps because of it's genre type, it may have succeeded far better under a different, more specialist film studio, experienced in modern splapstick drama? The marvel of this film is that it betrays its colourful packaging - this only adds to its magical quality, even Laurel and Hardy films do the same thing. Personally, my preference is for classical comedy and why I find it appealing in a way I don't Pirates of the Carribbean or Shrek the third etc, they are definitely more child/family orientated wherease MouseHunt is this yet much more than this, you need to grow accustomed to the old gray and white talkies as earlier generations in order to appreciate the overall beauty of it that should have aquired at least one Oscar for its sheer inventiveness! A world with string creates marvellous riches!

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                    • Wolf Creek (DVD) / DVD / 30 Readings / 29 Ratings
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                      16.06.2010 10:00
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                      I anticipate the sequel to be equally as good

                      Not all horror films can be accussed of trying to shock, certainly this is true in the case of Wolf Creek, but it is such a calculating probability, you will be checking that you don't drive off the beaten tracks from civilization for the forseeible future. Nothing terrifies me more than a brilliant chilling film, but not just any ordinary frightfest. It has to feature a likely scenario and why many of Hitchcock works for instance, have failed to disturb me enough for me to think of them as thrillers, but more as horror parodies given the context in which they were filmed more than half a century ago now when audiences were still fresh to even slight terror flicks! Greg Mclean on the otherhand, wrote and directed Wolf Creek from an inexperienced perspective if we take into account that this is his first hand at making a biopic thriller film, you would think that he had been doing it for more years than Steven King, one of the most expert suspence authors that began unleashing his sadistic immagination with a gothic account of the fictional telekinetic gifted Carrie, four decades ago. It has been reported that the film is loosely based on Ivan Milat, responsible for the murders of seven people, though the film only casts four victims, so it's difficult to decide if this relates more precisely to another serial killer when Australia lists as many as 14, though the dates start from 1826 right through to the mid 1990s. Mclean's directing strength, goes right into every crevice of lurking danger, though paces you steadily from the start through the Australian outbacks to disclose the real life account of three travellers who, subsequently fall victim to a serial killer that perversely holds them hostage before attempting to mutilate them. Although John Jarratt is a mere actor, he certainly resembles a striking physical similarity to the authentic Ivan Milat - the only real indication that this is who the film is documented and, who is currently serving seven life sentences as attested in the televised criminology report of this malevolent man, a few years after the release of Wolf Creek. The way in which Mclean introduces this desert stalking predator is truly skin crawling: we immediately begin to form an impression of Milat's overly generous friendliness as soon as he starts striking up a conversation with the stranded teenagers. We must assume that he is the killer from this perspective, from the beginning, his presence typically frames him in the very same way that actors who portray murderers, usually begin with a charming or extremely helpful veneer, so this is the initial clue that Milat is something a lot more sinister, we are invited to doubt his motives from this juncture of the film. If this character snapshot isn't enough, then the fact that he emerges as a sweaty, rough and obligingly dubious lurker, should have warning signs written all over the screen! In addition, the fact that he tows them in their broken down car, securely attached to his well weathered and travelled truck, is a sure fire certainty that they are most definitely not being given a lift to a populated zone where there might be a garage and some fastfood joints or even telephone booths from which they can make contact with concerned parents or friends. Milat's driving is far too military and desperate as the night draws in for it to encounter a tranquil outcome, it has a similar feel to that of the 1986 'The Hitcher' film starring a tormented Rutger Hauer, a killer on the loose who gets his kicks from pursuing a young man through a road racing duel, all the while, grinning like a Chesire cat . Hauer and Milat share the same excited obscurity on the road to hell, is a telling fact that serial killers must therefore get thoroughly titillated by their own acts of evil and something Mclean has studied his subject advantageously well. Once the film reaches the vital heart of terror, escaped victims clamber for life by running as far from the chamber of horrors as possible to get help, you are immediately thrown into Texas Chainsaw Massacre territory, the hideous killing machine hunts down the half-hacked prey so as to bundle them back into their home and complete the job they started. I couldn't quite grasp as to why Mclean cast an all teenage set however when most of the murder victims were likely to be of varying ages, so had taken a biased stance, that if the film itself wasn't as good as it was, could easily have turned into another teen-slashing gore and completely devour the validity of a very truthful narrative that this film is precisely about. With David Lightfoot on board as Mclean's producing partner, must also have had a strong savvy notion about what direction to steer the film, though the few films he has directed and/or produced, are fantasy based thrillers such as the film Rogue about a mammoth sea creature who prefers the companionship of human divers to that of regular fish. It is difficult to ascertain where both of these film makers drew inspiration to focus upon the Wolf Creek project when no references are made regarding their interest in a factual murder profiles, neither of them having directed more than six films between them, most, if not all, fall outside this thriller genre. Lightfoot did produce the frighteningly disturbing Coffin Rock, though it was fiction based nontheless, so Wolf Creek is his first attempt at concrete horror, both he and Mclean executed illuminating brilliance considering their fresh film making acclaim. Inevitably it is dramatised to appeal to the young teenage audiences unlike the biographical account of say Ted Bundy, this film featured his female victims as young women, but because of when his killing sprees had taken place as far back as the 1970s, would undoubtedly be of more interest to a maturer movie goer given that they only had a convicted profile to make assessment of his disturbed nature. The film unearthed facts in much the same way that Wolf Creek had, though in a far more plausible reality, the latter is more gore generated which has the dissapointing effect of it culminating in a spiced-up creeper. It therefore would have been a far more believable account if it had have cast a diverse age range and made connection with a wider audience, though these types of films are precisely made to satisfy a younger market.

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                      • More +
                        14.06.2010 01:04
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                        Bring back steam locomotives!

                        I used to work for South West Trains through a company called Evolution recruitment in 2005 and at the time, there was a business merger happening between another rival rail commercial enterprise so as to expand the entire SouthWest trains rail netwok. The political tensions were always very high, even amongst station staff, so for me, I just wanted to be on the other side of it all and become a mere passenger, not a cleaning operative scrubbing Graffiti from the inside of the ill-scented shunter coaches, seven nights a week at a rate of £7 per hour from 10pm till 6am. I don't know how I managed it for a year, but the recruitment agency depended upon employees like me who were never sick and worked religiously hard to get the trains miraculously clean before the drivers were ready to take them on their early morning runs often in a tired or grumpy mood, though some were more chirpy happy than a lottery winner, you often wondered what they had in their coffee after getting gout of bed! Even though I worked on the trains, I also travelled on them and still do each week to get to and from college. SouthWest trains really do look after their staff and even employees who aren't directly employed by them but by some recruitment agencies that just want a diligent, uncomplaining workforce. I was given a train pass when I first started to get to and from my job location, so felt acknowledged as part of the Network Rail Industry even though I was extraneous to their own manpower services. They even paid for my track safety awareness course based in Eastleigh, so had a great day out when the training finished early. To receive similar privileges to that of their own staff was the one memory I will always associate and have high regard for SouthWest trains and because you see the other side of rail life when you are not only just a busy commuter enamoured by the speed at which the silent Blue Desiros can travel at something like120mph on a 750 voltage cable. This is a rough guess, but used to know all the electric powered current values concerning rail lines ect, I've actually forgotten most of them until now, so this review is bringing back some great mathematical knowledge - essential if you ever work on a railway as there are even coach numbers that have to paired up correctly before they can depart the station. Clearly the trains would not have operated at all if there were no cleaners, so I did my job with a great deal of passion in the beginning until I found myself the target of unwelcome bullying from two older ladies who felt threatened by my good rapport with my all male colleagues, it wasn't an easy ride being the only female when I first began and had to toughen against some of the workplace banter, many women would have run a mile by men making references to breasts and politically incorrect speech!. I took it all, tried to expose what was happening but soon realised that the railway is perhaps a place that has it's own culture, you must have a very thick skin to fit in. It's very difficult when I have to travel into Guildford now from Woking, but it is such a short 10 minute journey that I don't stop to look out of the window to see if I can see old colleagues I'd rather not be reminded of those awful times. However, what SouthWest trains provide for their commuters is comfort and mostly if you are travelling second class. However, although I enjoy the privacy of the first class coaches, they are nowhere near as spacious as the second class coaches, you can actually stretch your legs with more ease, you can't do so in the elite compartments, the seats are far more compact against the tables, you have to sit pretty upright with legs firmly pressed together, which isn't great if you are going on a long excursion. All the first class coaches are identifiable by their blue themed fabric with white detachable bibs draped over the top of the seats, are often empty whenever I board the train. The toilet facilities are pretty dire and simply because they malfunction from time to time, so the automatic locking system can pack up whilst you are doing your business! - This has happened to so many people, I've been witness to these embarrassing scenes time over and astonished by the fact that there isn't even an emergency door lock in case you get caught out, only a panick button which isn't going to rescue you from shame, but great for people with disabilities or those just about to have a coronary heart attack and can't reach the open dial, that when you press into the center, is slow to react anyway. The Desiros are the fastest and most presentable of trains and are often called silent widows because of their mute locamotion as an electrically operated transport system, plenty of children playing on rail lines are unaware of just how dangerous these killer bullets are as they are nothing like the old shunter ones that are at least 25 years old and have a top speed of 60mph. It wasn't safe to play on tracks even when I was a child, but your chances of survial were much greater than now, so shows you just how mechanically advanced these British coach manufactured ones really are and why they are expensive to travel in them. You can tell the difference between the two as the Desiros are blue and red and look as sophisticated as they really are, the shunters are the blue red and white, faded from years of service with slam doors throughout the coaches, they are an unpleasant feature of these trains that these rail vehicles should be completely demolished as are an eye sore, even the seats are detatchedable from their plastic bases, I've often discovered loose change and mobile phones when I cleaned them, but fairly handed them in unlike some of the staff I worked with. Overall, this rail network that has been running ever since before the sinking of the Titanic in 1914, is such a revolutionary transport scheme because it has contuined to redevelop it's services within the past decade, there is a complex heirachy of management that could have hindered progress but instead has provided commuters with the very best they can and, even though this might not be reflected in the train fayres or corrupt toilets, most definitely in their treatment of their staff. There will always be delays with trains because they have to wait for the tracks to change to connect to the direction it's heading. This is a timely process that doesn't match the excellence of the superior trains themselves and why it is commuters get so frustrated as they can't understand why trains and rail lines don't share the same equality when they ought to. This is such a great example of how it is that old and new technology coexist as a hazard rather than a marvel. Commuters don't get the treatment they deserve or value for money even if the staff can enjoy the fruits of their labour when network rail create so much revenue, they could stop charging passengers for tickets if the trains run more than half an hour late or re-design their first class accommodation so that it is more user-friendly and even install proper toilets where the doors don't take on a life of their own.

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                          13.06.2010 21:49
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                          A small hidden treasure of Warwickshire

                          The curtain call guest house is a mock, semi-tudor style bed and breakfast centered on the Alcester Road, 5 minutes walk from the railway station. Typically the lodge looks like a sea-front property with large bay windows, a large 'Vacancies' medallion sign swung across the breast of the them to let you know that this is a B&B. Although the property is not as impressive as many of the surrounding wooden houses, that many are imitative of the genuine Tudor herringbone patterns, it is a very home from home kind of accommodatiion as oppossed to something austere. Inside is another story as it is like walking onto a luxury liner with everything so neat, though not unwelcoming by any means. I know Stratford upon Avon like the back of my hand as used to live in Warwickshire, so when I booked a few nights stay at the Bed and Breakfast earlier this year, I at least knew how to get there as it is just a 15 minute walk from the center or 2 minutes by car. The roads are pretty flat in Stratford with less traffic on the roads than you might imagine as it is still considerably rural despite the expansion of the Cotswolds to make room for new properties. The homely bed and Breakfast is run by a well-informed couple, Dave and Cheryl who are so friendly, they make you feel as if you are part of their own family and discuss anything you may you want to know, places to go etc as they know Stratford inside out and even many parts of Warwickshire and even the Midlands, so you don't need to visit a tourist information center if you stay here. They are also very eager to make you feel settled in as soon as you arrive, but never invade your privacy unless you have the television on full volume and wake the guests at night, though am sure this has happened to them at some point with a difficult guest! Initially I wanted to stay in the Teddy bear suite that is meant for families, but had already been booked, I had the option of staying in a double room for just £25.00 even though there was just myself, but it somehow didn't feel appropriate to have an entire 2 person room so opted for a single room at the same price. It's usually £60.00 for a double room, but they are so accommodating that if the room hasn't been pre-booked, will let you stay in it for £30.00 so is immensely cheap for a luxury board in a Tudor mansion with priceless service. I've stayed at plenty of guest houses in many locations and even some hotels, but so far this has to be one of the most rewarding I've ever stayed and for so many reasons I would need to write a five page review to list them all. It is also worth mentioning that board fees will be less between January and March because and instead of £30.00, you may only pay £25.00 as I had because again, it depends upon what time of the year you visit and during the Christmas/Summer season, will undoubtedly be a very busy time, both Dave and Cheryl are extremely eager to please their guests, though they are not a charity and have a business to run so if they do you a deal, it is only out of hospitality and if they aren't running a full board of lodgers all at one time. My single room wasn't as big as I would have liked to have been, but then I would have been absolutely spoilt if it had have taken the double at no extra cost, but the en-suite and laundry facilities and extremely fresh towels and bed linen more than compensates for this. The double rooms I imagine are by far larger than they appear from the outside because I once stayed in a Tudor pub in Somerset and the rooms were really wide and spacious, you would think that they were match-box size from the tiny windows on the outside! They do quite rightly have a non-smoking rule so as to preserve the rooms from being nicotine stained or from going up in a blaze of fire. I'm sure that there have been plenty of incidents in other similar places where guests have dosed off from being exhausted from a long drive and accidently dropped their lit cigarette onto the floor. Cheryl and Dave had to to place a non smoking ban some years back for kindred reasons and especially so given the wave of recent intolerance to smoking in general, so if you are desperate, it's best to get it out the way with beforehand. Stratford Upon Avon is steeped in medieval history given that it is Shakespeare territory. The town has many visitor attractions such as the famous Bard's birth home, his mother Mary Arden's house and Anne Hathaway cottage. Most haunted television program are yet to feature the Fallstaff house, claimed to be one of the most haunted in the whole of Warwickshire. I lived in Nuneaton in the late part of the 1980s and used to spend my teenage years hanging out at the demolished Astley Castle, that if hadn't have been burnt from the inside in the 1970s, would have been an excellent visiting haunt as the temporary queen of England for nine days, Lady Jane Grey apparition roams this location with her chopped head carried underneath her arm! If you are fascinated by this period center, you will be interested to know that not all of the town's Tudor houses are listed buildings, just the main visitor ones that are made entirely from wattle and daub with the striking and authentic Herringbone beams and posts that give them such an exquisite look. Bricks were too expensive in Shakespeare's day, so only the very wealthy could afford them and why poultice was the better affordable filler choice, the same stuff that mummified the ancient Egyptians!. The timber frames were typically made from solid oak, not such an expensive commodity in those days as deforestation wasn't an issue as it is today, so England was once full of forests that didn't come under legal protection until the last few decades. You won't fail to notice the large stretch of the Avon river as it is one of the most sizable features of Stratford town center that only adds to it's overall romantic heritage. Regardless of even dour weather conditions, it's magnetic ambience just pulls people toward it. You will see plenty of swans and ducks, boat hiring if you want to journey along the waterways and a nearbye butterfly farm that houses all manner of exotic dragonfly. As with all commercial town's, it is brimming with cafe's, bars and fastfood restaurants, but some diners understandably will be more costly than others as this is one way that the town manages to survive the way it does. As for the Curtain Call guest house, it is perhaps named so because the property was built on a 16th century theatre stage site, the term refers to when a show has come to a close and the curtains therefore go down. A well appointed name for a Bed and Breakfast lodge that resonates precisely with the fact that a large percentage of Stratford geography was teaming with play houses and reinactment societies even before Shakespearian times and, in which there are preserved archive records in Warwick University that will testify to this correct information. Overall, this is one of the most comfortable and satisfying of places to stay in Stratford and can't recommend it enough, I shall be revisiting again at least by next year.

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                            12.06.2010 15:32
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                            I know what could happen from here

                            I know what you did last Summer, surprisingly renders as one of the most scariest horror flicks of this century despite the fact that it is a teen fested movie that are often predictably gore or slasher orientated. Jim Gillespie however, directs this film in a very sophisticated way and proceeds with a subtle shock so as not to jump start the audience into something too promising too early. The first and only indication that something horredous lurks is right from the start with a dark metal singing performance of a what sounds like a drugged Alice Cooper, slurring the once serene 1972 summer breeze soft rock hit! This is accompanied by the sound of audible rushing sea waves, so unearths a very mystifying thriller suspense right from the beginning, you know that it is going to pop up some real nasties along the story line, though not immediately so. However, dissapointingly it doesn't and to summarise the plot without giving anything away, four close friends have just finished high school and want to enjoy what is left of the summer hoildays only for it to interrupted by a brief series of unfortunate events, they eventually separate to do their higher education studies before encountering the horror that is about to unfold, sometime into the opening of the film. Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) who wins the local beauty pageant contest, typically plays the role of a material girl with a wannabe actress mentality, the producers had to provide their male audience with a female icon to keep the film from being dull. At just 20 years old when she was cast for the film, she didn't play someone far younger than her herself as is often in the case with a lot of Hollywood starlets who have been known to act as characters even twenty years their junior! - Thankfully, Gillespie only made her two years younger, so there was nothing unnatural about her being cast amongst similar age groups, the film does center around a specific teenage culture. Her boyfriend Barry (Ryan Phillippe) is going to Boston to play football with their friend Julie (Jeniffer Love Hewitt) who is to study law and Freddie Prinze Jr. so this is a teriffic mix of character, all with different ambitions and personal identities, so makes it a more interesting and sincere story as oppossed to everyone being in the same boat and at the same time. Even when they do end up in the same mess together, it didn't begin as so and why the casting of rotten events rightly appear spontanious and legitimate, this is made more credible when Helen hasn't spoken to her boyfriend and friends for over a year, so there is no opportunity for the four to engage in any plots as you would likely assume if they had been in cohesion throughout. Typically the movie goes down a who done it route as you might expect after Helen receives an unfriendly letter stating that "I know what you did last summer" and begins hunting down potential candidates known to her, including her boyfriend that she hasn't crossed his path since they all left for college. Everyone knows nothing, blames someone they think is responsible and this is where the juncture of the film begins opening up the real box of blood-thirsty delights! The teaser trailor for the film only gives snippets away, but certainly not the entire thing. Originally it was sugessted that there be a different ending to the film, which would have meant casting Muse Watson (Ben) in a more benign or dispensible light, yet as it is, has left room for the sequel that is guaranteed to continue with the killing spree expedition with a plausible outcome that would have drawn this movie to a complete close if he had have been captured and killed. Gillespie did a cut version of a 1 hour and 30 minute of this film that in fact is roughly almost two hours long, so depending on whether you want a drawn out suspense or a quicker one is entirely optional, I prefer it short and sweet as can't stomach movies that are extendibly gruesome. The greatest advantage of this film is that it continued with the 1990s slasher-themed emphasis on low-cut projects such as when Sunset Bay had their own Hooked killer, though this was by far more unrealistic! Wikipedia encyclopedia

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                          • I Robot (DVD) / DVD / 11 Readings / 11 Ratings
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                            12.06.2010 13:18
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                            Even some computers have a life of their own!

                            Director Alex Proyas is currently working on his Tripods film project, inspired perhaps by the 2005 movie adaption of War of the Worlds writer H.G Wells given the striking similarity of lofty-martian themed Science Fiction. It is a very difficult task for any director to rival one of their own films unless they are passionate about what genre they choose to pursue, I Robot for instance bears amazing twin reference to that of the Kirby Silver surfer comics, recently coming back to life in the 2007 Fantastic four sequel: rise of the silver surfer, the superhero 'absorbs and manipulates cosmic energies' as a super power humaniod who saves earth from destruction but later becomes a corrupt villain in much the same way that I Robot soon super-functioned. Proyas saw the phenomenal potential in Issac Asimov's collection of short stories on the co-existence between humans and robots in which has always been one of the most exploited subject areas of science fiction authors, very few directors can render fiction into brilliant reality unless they are well researched in their field of expertise and at least adopt written ideas in the process. I Robot therfore is very likely a culmination of Asimov and and Wells works that each have written about superior life forms, that contemporary film making techniques keep the stories alive as well as adapt them to modern science fiction relevance. Will Smith, the youngest non-cosmetic looking 41 year old actor in Hollywood, plays the ultimate role as detective Del Spooner, a techno phobic cop who isn't at ease living in a robot-benign society set some 25 years from now in the future. He is assigned a mission to uncover the truth of a supposed suicide of a robotics scientist, he suspects that one of new NS-5 models was responsible but is sometimes decieved by the advanced emotionally aware magnificance of Sonny (Tudyk) whose virtual interactive intelligence gives him the same reasoning abilities as any other human, though with a more flexible curcuiting, so already is designed to escape the three laws of robotics when he is given the added advantage of negotiable human characteristics with even a gender identity. Sonny initially represents equality and harmony in which he is programmed and controlled, but his creators hadn't bargained on how mature he could override their own making of his overall intellignece in which they must have considered the posibility that he is just more than a mere resourceful servant. The special effects department made him tangibly factual though cyber graphically virtual, so in some respects you feel as if Sony is a plausible life-form, it must have cost the producers at least half of their $120 million film budget to utilise all of the technical applications on this virtual robot and then reaped the rewards of the gross $144,801,023 revenue it amassed domestically. The choice of actor to play detective spooner perhaps wasn't the best when I will always associate Will Smith with his hysterically amusing role in the fresh prince of Bellaire. He is foremost a comedian and performs his very best as one, so any serious acting he does must have some flexibility, otherwise he is liable to become typecast outside of his own acting talents and we lose our orignal familiarity with him forever. However, he acts superbly well as an action figure but lacks the kind of rough edge soldierly as say Bruce Willis or Peter Weller in Robo-cop, I Robot would have been far more sensational if Proyas had included an accompanying tougher character to set about assassinating Sony and the army of repilcas, Smith alone was like a timid paper boy on the run from a growling Spaniel! There was plenty of great suspense as we worked up to Sony's looming grievous capabilities, it was an edge of the seat ace, but you also knew what was going to happen before it did, so there was nothing thrown in the way to keep the anticipation growing. I would have preferred it if Sony was met with a more reckonable force that would torment him into submission before unleashing his evil marvellous and then to be partially destroyed by a whopping muscle-bound C3PO. There is so much more that Proyas and the film creators could have done to make Sony a less predictable character with more challenges other than an endless chase situation that compensates for the lack of creativity in an otherwise gripping story. 2004 was a great time to make a film like I Robot when we witness the computer animated success of The Incredibles, both movies inspired to a large degree by the once traditional science fiction comic papers, children would spend their days engrossed in these pre and post war amusements before film became a widely accessible commodity. A new generation of audience is now invited to follow in the same wonderous footsteps as previous ones, albeit on the movie screen. However, I robot is rated a mature 15, would easily have been a 6 or 8 in the 1950s even with the increasing sophistication of etched animation that created overwhelming 'dissaproval from parents and teachers' - This Proyas film is perhaps age appropriate given it's murderous machine, but is therefore only accessible to a marginal audience, there is nothing that fearsome about it that even a 13 year old can't watch as long as they are supervised. Marvel.com Wikipedia encyclopedia

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