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Henry Ford once said that if he asked customers what they wanted they would say a faster horse. People stick to what they know and trust. But in the betting industry its all change as the internet and technology gobbles up another traditional high street industry, worryingly bringing gambling it into everyone's homes. The internet allows us to perform most of our vices in the comfort of our homes and so no wonder pubs, restaurants and shops are closing down as we waste our money elsewhere. The only things we can't do online are what are left to rot on the high streets, charity shops, libraries and gyms. The highstreet betting shop made a recent comeback after Labor introduced new gambling deregulation and the profits increased rapidly - as did betting tax - mainly driven by the fixed terminal betting machines. The big betting chains will simply open a new shop just to get 4 more machines on the higshtreet as they are that profitable, the maximum number of terminals they can have in their shop only 4. On average these roulette style machines bring in £47,000 each nationally for the big chains and a lot of that profit squirreled away in tax havens. At anyone time it's believed 67% of the people in the bookies are unemployed. Couple that fecklessness with payday loans and alcohol and you can see where a lot of a single men's dole cheques go. New gambling aware rules have just come in to counter that where higstreet bookies staff are supposed to curtail problem gamblers on these fixed terminal machines but as these addicted gamblers are the bulk of their shops profit margin its a good way for the shop manager to get the sack if they do intervene. The high street aside more and more people are gambling online, the biggest increase being women on the bingo and casino sites. Husbands and partners are unaware of the 7 billion they bet every year. The clientele in the shops is a bit rough and the girls behind the counter not much better and so far more relaxing gambling online at home while you can watch the match or the racing with a cuppa or a glass of something. Mixing alcohol with gambling has never been a good idea but that's where we are now. With mobile phone betting options you can place your bet on Mount Everest if you want. Coral online is the site I use and mainly because I win vouchers to play free there from various sites. I have not yet used my credit card to download credit on the site and have no intentions to do so. When I download credit to the site it's always with PayPal. Credit card would be the start of a downward slide. At the moment to get free credit I play Lucky7 with the Daily Mail where you have to predict 7 football games and if you get 4 or 5 right you win a fiver to bet on the Coral website. It's free to play and you win about three times in nine. You bet the £5 bets by joining Coral.co.uk and, if you win, you keep the winnings but not the bet stake. Alas you have to play your winnings on the casino side of the site and so a spin of a coin if you keep it. It's just a free offer to get you to join rather than make easy money. I am a 100% skill better and will not play games of chance. I do not play the lottery or in casinos. The satisfaction for me is working out the odds of something happening with my sporting knowledge and getting as close as I can to that result. Even If I lose and I am close I still get a buzz. This game is all about the buzz. If you take a pretty girl to the racing for the first time then trust me, if she wins, she will want to go back with you and get that buzz. Life is about getting that adrenalin flowing. Even the biggest betting prudes enjoy the traditional pound or two on The National and get very excited although they would ever admit it. The Coral site is very busy like all betting sites to keep you betting and you can bet on most sports around the world and things like casino games and novelty bets, like the general election or TV shows like The X Factor. They also let you bet during the event which can really gobble your money up as you start chasing your loses. Heroine addicts say they keep taking the drug after a while not to get a high but just to get back to normal. I do bet in play but only when it's like 10-1 on. I don't take big risks. The bets I like are ones you have the information the bookies have, like Man United winning away at West Brom last week at 11/8. Rather surprisingly United have the second best away record in the Premier League and have won seven away matches and so a good chance they would win their eighth against a lowly struggling side, which they did and job done and a small profit. That's satisfaction. Betting on black or red means nothing to me and idiotic. It's fairly simple to place bets although I always struggle to find where the accumulator button is on Coral. I love playing the football accumulator on the high street for a 50p stake as you can get great odds by betting on odds on matches, especially for international fixtures. I get around 10/1 for ten odds-on home or away matches with Ladbrokes and William Hill these days. I win around 33% of the time. The site is easy-ish to navigate although a bit squashed up on net books. The bet slot is on your bottom right and a bit fiddly as the box is quite small. I suspect this is for a reason. You tap the amount you want to bet in decimals and the bets listed are also in decimals, your traditional 1-4 on is now 125.00. That stuff can be confusing. You just donk on the bet you want to place and then place your stake and press bet. You do have to be careful as it is possible to press something you didn't know you have if you are fast and easy with the mouse. You generally can't cancel online bets once they are made and so these sites are designed for you to do just that. Don't have drink before you use them. You can bet high amounts although I have never bet more than a fiver on one event. The hard bit is when you are down on your bets and you can bet in play and you are tempted from the multitude of bets and offers. The negatives are having your credit card number online and once they have that they know you will be back. Also, those bargain deals you see of <<<FREE £50-£200 >>>>bets if you join for wagers on events like Cheltenham and the Grand National that bet is non refundable and so you only get your winnings in cash in your account, and then those winnings often restricted to casino bets thereafter. And as a microprocessor decides if you win or not on the casino then it's fair to say you probably wont, and even if you do its still remains casino winnings and never leaves the casino until you build enough to make it worth cashing out. On the whole I would say Coral are perfectly fine and do the job and offer a healthy mix of bet types and events to bet on. I would only join if you are a skill better though as there is no such thing as a random spin on an online casino wheel. The value seems consitent with other sites and really not that relevant unless you bet big. I still prefer to bet on the high street but Henry Ford knows the world is changing and so I had to surrender to technology. Like when they put the green zero on the roulette wheel to make sure the house always won in the long term from straight odd/evens/black\white bets, the online sites will always win in the end.
Star - Matt Damon Genre - Action Run Time - 109 minutes Certificate - 18R Country - USA Awards - 5 Nominations Amazon - £3.99 DVD (£15.25 Blue Ray) = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = Since Matt Damon sloped off from the Bourne franchise he has never really given a reason why. He was never typecast as Bourne as he is rare actor able to jump from action hero to romantic lead, politics to cerebral and so could have stuck it out. Little Jeremy Renner is just not the same as JB, and judging by Damon's movie picks since; he hasn't really distanced himself from Bourne with a stand out movie. Ever since his breakthrough role in Goodwill Hunting that second Oscar has actually drifted further away (he shared one with Ben Affleck for the GWH screenplay). At the moment he has gone all Sean Penn and spends most of his time at the United Nations trying to fix the world he has spent his career blowing up! He does seem a very laidback guy when you see him interviewed and he did spend four years at Harvard and so the more important things in life a responsibility he feels he has to take on with his clout and celebrity but apart from his notable camp performance in Behind the Candelabra alongside Michael Douglas as Liberace (it was a TV movie so not eligible for the Oscars) he hasn't really troubled the scorers, Damon's career right now reminiscent of an opening batsmen blocking at the crease. When he does sci-fi action movies like Elysium he may as well be doing the next Bourne Movie. But we are here for Elysium and the follow up movie from director Neil Blonkamp of the fabulous District 9, again mixing his experiences of the apartheid South Africa with his beloved science fiction dystopian futures, here the year of 2154, the same year as the dreadful Avatar. Although mostly shot in a slum on the edge of Mexico City it looks and feels very similar to District 9 on similar themes of poverty, apartheid and discrimination. Damon was actually third choice for the lead role here behind rap stars 'Ninja' from South Africa and Eminem, who would only do it if it was shot in his native Detroit. . ===Cast=== Matt Damon ... Max Jodie Foster ... Delacourt Sharlto Copley ... Kruger Alice Braga ... Frey Diego Luna ... Julio Wagner Moura ... Spider William Fichtner ... John Carlyle Brandon Auret ... Drake Josh Blacker ... Crowe Emma Tremblay ... Matilda Jose Pablo Cantillo ... Sandro Maxwell Perry Cotton ... Young Max Faran Tahir ... President Patel ===Plot=== In the 22nd Century the world is an over populated arid cesspit with the people living in shacks and mega cities. The 00.1% elite live luxuriously 400 miles above Earth in a giant rotating space station city called Elysium (heaven: in Greek mythology, the home of the blessed after death), a powerful gravitational shield allowing green vegetation and grand avenues, a Manhattan in the sky. Back on scorched Earth and ex con Max (Matt Damon) lives in the ghettoes of what's left of Los Angeles and always one parolee violation away from losing his job in a grim industrial factory so returned to jail, order on Earth kept by machines and rather stern androids, Robocop style. Everyone's dream is to escape the poverty and get to Elysium one day with local criminals running illegal space shuttles up to the station in the hope they can gain refugee status. But what the trafficked humans don't know is the authoritarian Madame Delacourt (Jodie Foster), who runs Elysium on behalf of the Amadyne Corporation, has no qualms in making sure no interlopers breech the barriers and shoots down the ships full of mostly women and kids. They risk everything to take the deadly trips as Elysium has medical pods able to cure any illness they or their family have. Max, however, has no intentions of going to Elysium and has recently met up with his childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga), hoping to rekindle a romance a pretty nurse and, that is, until, he suffers a near fatal accident at the factory, a deadly blast of radiation meaning he has just 5 days to live. Frey tries to help him but they know he is doomed on Earth and so Max has to call in a favor with his old partner in crime Spider (Wagner Moura) to get him to Elysium and the med pods. But he has to pay like everyone else for the chicken run and so agrees to do one last job for smuggler Spider. To do this job he has to boost his decaying strength and body fried by the radiation and take on a painful operation to be part of a metal spinal frame that implants into the back of his brain and back. His mission is to download the keys to Elysium in his head by capturing Amadyne Corporation boss Drake (Brandon Auret) and his laptop during his visit to Earth on business. So time for the Amadyne Corporation to deploy their number one asset on Earth to take out Max and Spiders crew of crooks, deadly bounty hunter Kruger (Sharlto Copley), a man who doesn't do subtle niceties with his cool array of weapons and munitions. Let the battle begin. ===Results=== Good stuff and although not a patch on the originality of his first film I did get enough from this to recommend it, although it will end up just another special effects Sc-Fi film at the end of the day. As he did with District 9, Blonkamp grounds his sci-fi thriller in present-day society, telling a story that resonates with a strong political kick from his native South Africa. It again looks visually distinctive and the majestic space station reminiscent of Kubrick's Space Odyssey masterpiece, clearly paying homage to, the giant wheel a second moon high in the sky that offers false hope to those on the dyeing Earth. It's not really made clear in the film why the same rich corporations can't build a similar high security walled compound on Earth far cheaper but we will let Blonkamp off on that one. The director's signature special effects and funky munitions keep the film moving forward nicely with all manner of guns, grenades and mines for Sharlto Copley's psychotic character to play with, Damon doing the best he can to keep the tension of the chase high as Kruger kicks him up the bum. The love interest only contrives to slow and contort the film down and so not needed. It was an expensive movie to make at $115 million dollars and so a risk but doing $286 million back so all ending well. Clearly District 9 impressed many and they fully supported his expectantly inferior second effort but the money well spent. His movies special effects and look and feel are unique to the action Sci-Fi genre and I'm already looking forward to the next one. The only downside would be that pretty much anyone could have played the Matt Damon character and so Sharlto Copley takes over the show with his cartoonesque video game character with the funny South African hybrid accent. The ending is a first for both Matt Damon and Jodie Foster on screen as our hero and villain face a rare fete, always a good sign the actors want to work with the up and coming director rather than the other way around. ===RATINGS=== Imdb.com - 6.7/10.0 (189,345votes) Rottentomatos.com - 68% critic's approval Metacriitc.com - 61%critic's approval ===Special Features=== ---Collaboration: Casting to Perfection on Elysium--- We meet the cast & crew behind the scenes and explore what the films themes are about. ---Engineering Utopia: Operating a society in the sky--- A look at the 2001: Space Odyssey style space station and special effects. ===Critics=== This is London -'Just as the creation of a future nightmare, one that disturbingly resembles the world we already know, Elysium is masterful - definitely worth seeing. Electric Sheep -'A project over-designed yet under-thought'. Daily Express -'It's great to watch an original blockbuster with some ideas in its head'. Little White Lies -'A confident sidestep from District 9 rather than an ambitious leap forward, Elysium confirms Blomkamp as an expert genre director. Question is now: can he become more?' The Times -'Neill Blomkamp cements his science-fiction credentials as a filmmaker with a genre vision the likes of which we haven't seen since the socially conscious SF of the 1970s.'. The Memphis Times -'[Blomkamp] really needs to learn that too much action blunts his more interesting statements'. Film4.com -'Visually stunning and with flashes of inspired genius, Elysium shows promise but is let down by an uneven structure, weak characterization and an over-reliance on extended fight scenes. ===========
Ben Fogle is an example of how lucrative reality TV has become. He was one of 36 people who chose to go back to basics to live on the remote Scottish island of Taransay for one year with the cameras following their exploits and interaction in the community. Handsome posh boy Ben did so well after the show with media appearances that he managed to get together a 1.5 million pound bid for the island just ten years later, enjoying his experience so much and the cash he had made thereafter. But, alas, what was once an interesting television genre is anything but reality TV today. Dave Hester, the ex star of Storage Hunters, a great example. Dave was one of the stars of the first two series but started blabbing that the show was fixed and the production team placed valuable items in the storage lockers that the buyers then bid on to make it all more exciting, rumblings that he was going to be let go from the show anyway why he started slagging the show off. He also squealed that the show paid for one of the female stars to have a breast implant to sex up the show. A Hester law suit followed and it was revealed in court just how much these guys were earning. Hester revealed that he received $25,000 per episode, a guarantee of 26 episodes, $2500 per month for travel, a $124,500 expense account and a $25,000 signing bonus. In total his salary for the year came to $829,500. This was basically the owner of a junk shop. Hester was especially upset that the cast members were not allowed to re-sell any of the valuable and 'alleged' planted items as is portrayed on the show. Normally the winning bidder sells the items and keeps the proceeds, but Hester says the planted items must be returned to the producers. It was an interesting example of lifting the veil on just how set up these shows are. Storage Wars is exactly the same format as Storage Hunters, some of the stars crossing over to be in their sister show. If you haven't seen these America auction style shows it's basically about a collection of characters that go to public auctions and bid blind for the contents of storage lockers and bins - that can be garage size to wardrobe size - where the owners of the bin/locker contents have failed to pay their rent on them and so the contents seized for collateral and the payment. It is somewhat confusing why the owners can't use valuable items in the lockers to pay those bills. The punters can also bid on luggage and shipping containers but mostly storage locker/bins in Storage Wars. To make it interesting they are not allowed into the storage bin to inspect the goods and have to go by what they can see to calculate their bid. Nearly always there's a tarp over the top of the mystery item that may, or may not, be the money. Bidding tends to be macho and above what they would normally go, purely because they have twenty-five grand burning a whole in their pockets. The types and characters that make their living from the auctions end up being selected for the show and if they score well on an audience poll then get paid cash to appear. Obviously most lockers are full of junk and so you suspect they do indeed spike them with good stuff. Dave Hester is/was the professional locker guy with a company logo and uniform here waved his money around bully boy style to buy the best lockers; his signature bid of 'yeeeuppp'... very familiar to those who watch the show. Young couple Brandi Passante and Jarrod Schultz, who own their own second hand store, are also stars (sexy Brandi who had the implants, allegedly) along with poser and likeable antiques collector Barry Weiss (also leaving the series). Darrell Sheets and his son Brandon the couple of rednecks from the flyover states to bring in the social class element. Sexy Brandi has used her fame to earn a place in a sitcom on ABC. As we have got used to the pure volume of reality shows being about the people and not so much their jobs and lifestyles the 'contestants', and that's what they are now, have started to be 'selected' for the shows on looks and volatility and so no longer about the psychology of the interactions. The people who come on want to be famous, simple as, so perform like seals to achieve that. They get too big for their boots and shocked when the get asked to move on, believing the illusion of television they helped to create. The first two Big Brothers in England were fascinating viewing and an anthropologist dream but now its just show offs and plastic people who do these shows. If you can get past the obvious that these shows are set up then Storage Wars is good fun because of the chemistry between the bidders but also the excitement and history of the valuable stuff they find, whether it's placed there or not. Antiques and collectibles in England are the boring old furniture collected by likewise people where as in America its stuff from events that shaped America that tends to hold value, like the Civil and War of Independence and the film industry, many of the auctions in the show in the California area. Some of it is interesting stuff and you do learn things when the bidders take the stuff to the experts. On the whole through is throw away TV and broadcast on ITV 4 Monday night
Star - Andy Lau Genre - World Cinema Run Time - 119 minutes Certificate - PG13 Country - Amazon - £ DVD (£ Blue Ray) Awards - 6 Wins & 12 nominations = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = So 'Detective Dee: The Mystery of the Phantom Flame', the 42nd film from prolific Vietnamese director Tsui Man-Kong in a career spanning 32-years, also producing 62 films in that time period and starring in 25 of them, somewhat vain me thinks. This guy likes to be involved. Detective Dee is China's Sherlock Holmes, created from a series of books in the 1940s by Dutch novelist Robert Van Gulk, who visualized his Detective Dee hero from the adored 18th century Chinese crime novel Di Gong'an. It has the look of a no expenses spared film from China, mostly shot in Zhejiang, the city that host the Hengdiang World Studios, the planets largest, China yet again showing intentions to dominate yet another industry. Sadly too much sugar can make a cake sweet, and a very big cake too. ===Cast=== Tony Leung Ka Fai ... Shatuo Zhong Chao Deng ... Pei Donglai Carina Lau ... Empress Wu Zetian Bingbing Li ... Shangguan Jing'er Andy Lau ... Detective Dee Jean-Michel Casanov. General Aspar Sos Haroyan ... Assistant to Umayyad Ambassador Yan Qin ... Jia Yi Jinshan Liu ... Xue Yong Aaron Shang ... Shaizi Deshun Wang ... Xiazi Ling ===Plot=== It's 689, the year of the Tang Dynasty, Wu Zetian (Carina Lau) about to be crowned the first Empress in China despite opposition from Tang elders. To celebrate this occasion, the Empress elect is having a monstrous Buddha built to overlook her impressive palace. However an official inspecting the majestic Buddha's progress mysteriously erupts into flames. Very strange. Penal officer Pei Donglai (Deng Chao) points the finger at the chief builder, a man named Shatuo (Tony Leung Ka Fai), who was imprisoned by the Empress after he took part in a rebellion 8 years ago to try and overthrow her kingdom. Alas, Pei's boss catches fire soon after in the palace courtyard in front of the Empress, this internal combustion catching. The Empress and her pretty female attendant Shangguan Jing'er (Li Bingbing) receive a message from the Imperial Abbot, who speaks through a magical deer. Yep, a magical deer! He/Deer says that De Renjie (Andy Lau) must be the one to solve the mystery of the fire. The Empress assigns Jing'er as Renjie's assistant to keep an eye on Detective Dee, as he is now known. While staying at an inn, Jing'er tries to seduce Dee on the Empress's orders but they end up facing assassins. Someone wants them dead. De then meets Prince Li (Xiazi Ling), who is against Wu becoming Empress, trying to persuade De to lead another rebellion: De refuses. During a visit to the now nearly completed Buddha, Dee reunites with his old friend Shatuo. Shatuo suspects that the venom of insects called "fire beetles" were used to create the igniting poison. He points De to a man called Donkey Wang (Xue Yong), who is hiding in a network of caverns called the Phantom Bazaar. Pei orders Shatuo arrests for not telling him of this connections, but Detective Dee waves off the order saying that he can trust his old friend as the mystery deepens and the Buddha ready for its royal opening. . ===Results=== You have the distinct feeling when watching this film that director Tsui Man-Kong had access to one too many special effects tools and gadgets in his fancy big studios, the CGI somewhat lavish and certainly extravagant. There are pedantic moments of self indulgent special effects that George Lucas would be proud of. The characters are as equally cartoon like in this exaggerated world and the dialogue lost in translation. Saying that it's enjoyable and bombastic enough and worth the subtitles and over the top sets and that CGI. It's also rather silly at times with my first ever fistfight on horseback (two guys standing on the saddles of two different horses and trading blows) and the chopsuey fight scenes always just around the corner. The acting is consistent with most of this Hong Kong/Chinese cinema with lots of exaggerated facial gestures and body movements to appeal to the widest audience possible, 75% of the region sill illiterate. Intimacy is also restricted in the romantic bits. On the whole not one of the greatest martial arts pictures I have seen and the special effects way over the top, the wire work particularly amateur and bonkers, men in tunics and funny hats flying all over the place. The film just doesn't calm down to take a breath. But you have to love them for being so crazy with these oriental epics, even though they seem to make them up as they go along. ===RATINGS=== Imdb.com - 6.6/10.0 (6,259votes) Rottentomatos.com - 81% critic's approval Metacriitc.com - 75% critic's approval ===Special Features=== ===Critics=== Chicago Reader -'Three decades into his career, Tsui Hark stands as one of the movies' great entertainers, displaying a dancer's sense of rhythm and movement and manipulating physical space with an abandon worthy of Chuck Jones. Toronto Star -'A colorful carnival of relentless action and artful images'. Boston Herald -'Directed by the master Tsui Hark, 'Detective Dee' is one rip-snorting piece of action-movie eye candy'. Arizona Republic -'It is a peculiar conflation of history -- there really was an Empress Wu -- and pure cinematic fantasy'. Memphis Times -'The game's afoot, and the foot knows kung fu'. NY Times -'Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame is a thriller, an action movie, an effects-heavy mythical adventure and even a little bit of a love story. In short, it's every sort of film director Tsui Hark has made in the past all rolled into one. The Sydney Morning Herald -'Spectacular and spectacularly goofy...Even if you find the story ludicrous, the visuals will keep your eyes occupied--if not your mind'. ===========
Star - Jonah Hill Genre - Comedy Run Time - 93minutes Certificate - PG13 Country - USA Amazon - £10.29 DVD Awards - 4 Nominations = = = = = = = = = = = = Anyone who loves film knows that the 1980s were the glory years for America teen/high school/college comedy, classics like the Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and 'Ferris Buellers Day Off' always enjoyable repeats when you need some nostalgia. It all went a bit puerile in the 1990s with stuff like American Pie and Road Trip and a real turn off and only briefly rallied with Judd Apatow's stuff in the last ten years that introduced us to guys like Steve Carrell, Jessie Eisenberg, Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill to the scene, the later the Hollywood comedy name in Accepted. It just became bromance and not the comedy we all loved. ===Cast=== Justin Long ... Bartleby Gaines Jonah Hill ... Sherman Schrader Adam Herschman .... Glen Columbus Short ... Daryl 'Hands' Holloway Maria Thayer ... Rory Thayer Lewis Black ... Ben Lewis Blake Lively ... Monica Moreland Travis Van Winkle ... Hoyt Ambrose Mark Derwin ... Jack Gaines Ann Cusack ... Diane Gaines Hannah Marks ... Lizzie Gaines Robin Taylor ... Abernathy Darwin Dunlap Sam Horrigan ... Mike Welsh Anthony Heald ... Dean Richard Van Horne ===Plot=== Likeable geek Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) tanks on his SATs and is not going to college and unable to break the news to his expectant parents. His best friend Sherman Schrader (Jonah Hill), however, is going to college, his father's prestigious school 'Harmon' all lined up. To help out his friend Sherman agrees to fake acceptance papers for a made up college for Bart to give to his parents to buy time. Sherman fires up his laptop and South Harmon Institute of Technology (S.H.I.T) is born, and with its own website. The plan works, to a point, but now mum and dad want to see the actual college Bart is being packed off to and meet the Dean. So he and his other high school friends, who also missed out on college and enrolled in the imaginary South Harmon Institute of Technology, have to carry off that deception to get their parents consent. The plan is to rent an old sanatorium and do up the fascia to appear as a college and entrance hall and hope to get away with it, Sherman's eccentric uncle (Lewis Black) to play the Dean. But there's an even bigger problem, Sherman pressing the wrong button and the website going live, meaning hundreds of kids in the same bind with no college to go to have enrolled, and all arriving at once. And so the real South Harmon Institute of Technology is born and the parents buying into it and just proud their kids got in somewhere. Not only that but the kids and parents have bought $10,000 each for the years tuition, and with money like that you can actually build your own fully function college and open for business, as they do. The rules of the college are there are no rules and the kids create their own courses, from heavy metal to henna tattoo courses, bikini design and face painting. All day every day is party time and the kids not quite smart enough for real college have finally found a home. The head of the nearby Harmon College, Dean Richard Van Horne (Anthony Heald), also has expansion plans, the construction of the 'Van Home Gateway', hoping to buy up and level all the nearby properties and land to construct lush green parkland with the arrogant marble structure in the centre, a buffer zone to 'keep ignorance out and knowledge in', But, after dispatching his best student Hoyt Ambrose (Travis Van Winkle) to buy that land they discover there's another Harmon College nearby and its bringing down the neighborhood. Let the battle begin... ===Results=== Although critics hated this for its retroness I rather enjoyed it, as did the mainstream audience out there, an impressive 73% approval rating from users on Rottentomatoes.com, 50% higher than the same websites professional critics. The professionals said we have seen this all before. The audience said exactly, that's the point, this, a homage to what we loved about the genre and we want more. The geek gets the girl coming of age comedy is nothing new but it's what works and always has in American comedy. Their high schools are as cliché as the movies and you are either the picked upon who hated school or the popular one. For the best comedy we need to be a character in the film. We all picked one of the characters in the Breakfast Club that represented us, why that film worked so well, all the bases covered. Throw in a cool soundtrack and you have your audience. The film is heavily improvised and the gags pitched by the actors on the day of the particular shoot to add rhythm and authenticity. As its set in the 1980s there was a shameless opportunity for some product placement, 39 shots of Apple Computers throughout, Justin Long ending up as commercial spokesman for Apple just after the movie. It did $38 million off the back of its $23 million budget and not a bad earn considering the critics panning and the pure volume of other teen comedies available to see and rent in 2006. It is still the go to genre by studios to make back its money. The cool soundtrack with a retro twist to fit the 1980s helps to make this appeal and I did chuckle away at the sharp writing and that homage to those 80s teen clichés. Who wouldn't want a rock band playing at your pool party and you're allowed to drive a car at 14! Yes it's a very implausible idea that the kids could set up a college and get away with it but who ever said movies should have rules? It's no Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield but its good fun and way above its ratings. If you are over 40 you will laugh at this and tap your toe to those Weezer and Killing Joke tracks. Oh how I miss Molly Ringwald and the two Corey's... ===RATINGS=== Imdb.com - 6.5/10.0 (85,537votes) Rottentomatos.com - 36% critic's approval ( Users 73%) Metacriitc.com - 47%critic's approval ===Special Features=== -None- ===Critics=== Baltimore Times -'Even the characters in the movie are saying at the beginning, 'This is crazy. This will never work.' And I'm like, you know what? You're right. It never will. Not for one second. Even in a whacky comedy like this'. San Francisco Chronicle -'If you can lighten up for an hour and a half, the film delivers one good laugh after another'. Film Journal International .com -'The movie works on the pure energy of its straight-faced silliness'. Toronto Star -'Here's the final mystery about Accepted: Why title a movie that so readily invites the headline Rejected as a critical riposte?' New York Times -'Average comedy that's low on jokes and doesn't quite live up to its premise, though it remains watchable thanks to a charming performance by Justin Long'. Maxim -'Slackers, Rejoice! Makes the comedy honor roll for being inventive and riotously funny'. Northwest Herald -'You have to cheer a film that chooses the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" as its anthem and not something by Matchbox 20'. ===========
Morton Olsen has been manager of the Danish national team for 14 years. For the first seven years the team stayed around the top 15-20 in the world under his leadership with qualification for the 2002 World Cup and the 2004 Euro's. They then plunged to the lower 40s and it wasn't until the 2010 World Cup in South Africa they were back in the mix, also making the 2012 European Championships, continuing to bat above their average. The Danish FA kept Olsen in charge and were rewarded for their faith. Why-o-why doesn't England do this. They were extremely unlucky not to make this years World Cup after winning their final qualifying game 3-0 in the Czech Republic but losing out on goal average as the best second placed qualifier in the European groups. A devastating and unexpected 4-0 home defeat earlier in the campaign by Armenia would cost them Rio. Their best world cup was in 1998 when they made the quarter-final but best known for their bizarre victory in the 1992 European Championship in Sweden when they won the bloody thing, only earning a place in the competition at the last when Yugoslavia were kicked out 10 days before the tournament started, booted due to the Balkan Wars. They were also semi-finalist in 1984, some good players back in the day, Allen Simonsen the most famous. ===Denmark V England @ Wembley=== Obviously we got a look at them in the recent pointless friendly at Wembley - and didn't learn much, Peter's son Kasper Schmeichel the highlight. He plays for Leicester City. of course, and steaming towards the Premiership to join Bendtner (Arsenal), the exciting winger Eriksen ( Spurs) and Danish captain Daniel Agger ( Liverpool) in England's top league. 14 of the Danish squad play their football in Denmark, Spain Holland and Germany housing five more. It's fair to say playing together in the same club sides in the Danish League helps to keep them in the top twenty-five teams in the world. The Danish lads that do play abroad bring something extra to the side and they have the balance just about right to be a side that can compete higher than its population number suggests. Looking at Denmark we are seeing where England are headed fast, just another Northern European side playing percentage low skill football and in England's case only qualifies for the World Cup these days because weaker European teams are added to the groups to make sure they do progress for TV reasons. There is no way this England team would get through a 4 team European group like we had back in the day. In fact England only started to get back into tournaments when the groups got bigger in the late 80s. I comfortably expect heartbreak in Brazil and England getting just one point. England are horrible right now, one goal away in that Denmark games from not scoring for three straight home matches, last done in 1979. England can no longer beat the top tear sides. The nucleus of the England team for the future looks good. I'm a big fan of Lallana and the Southampton lads but they will soon lose that freedom to play for England when they move to the big clubs and the manager's whisper in their ear to pull out of those England games, or not get injured in them. The heart has gone from England and the will to win no longer there. When Italy are 1-0 down they fight for their country and give 100%. When England are 1-0 down the players think, 'well, I'm on 100 grand a week in the Prem and so if we don't win then I have that... The fear of losing is huge in the England national team and so they just look to someone else to do it on the pitch, usually Wayne Rooney, who looks burnt out now and ready to disappear like Gazza. The guy still smokes and drinks pints and chasers and looks red and flustered early one on in the game and why he gets injuries. His joke United contract is just so they can sell him for a free in 2015. ===Danish Squad== GK Stephan Andersen (age 32) ---- Netherlands Go Ahead Eagles GK Kasper Schmeichel (age 27) ------LEICESTER CITY GK Jonas Lössl (age 25) -----------------Denmark Midtjylland DF Lars Jacobsen (age 34) --------------Denmark Copenhagen DF Daniel Agger (Captain) (age 29) ----- LIVERPOOL DF Simon Kjær (age 24) ------- France Lille DF Andreas Bjelland (age 25)--------Netherlands Twente DF Peter Ankersen(age 23) --------Denmark Esbjerg DF Jesper Juelsgård(age 25) --------Denmark Midtjylland MF William Kvist(age 29) ------- FULHAM MF Christian Eriksen (age 22) ---------TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR MF Michael Krohn-Dehli(age 30)--------- Spain Celta Vigo MF Thomas Kahlenberg (age 30) --------- Denmark Brøndby MF Jakob Poulsen (age 30)----------- Denmark Midtjylland MF Niki Zimling (age 28) ------------Germany Mainz 05 MF Casper Sloth (age 21) --------- Denmark AGF MF Kasper Kusk (age 22) -----------Denmark AaB MF Emil Larsen (age 22)------------- Denmark OB MF Thomas Delaney(age 22)--------- Denmark Copenhagen MF Danny Olsen(age 28)--------- Denmark AGF MF Jakob Ankersen (age 23)----------- Denmark Esbjerg FW Nicklas Bendtner (age 26) ---------- ARSENAL FW Morten Rasmussen (age 29---------) Denmark Midtjylland FW Simon Makienok (age 23) ----------- Denmark Brøndby ===Top Scorers=== It's very noticeable just how their goal to game ratio is in history. This is due to an understanding in the team and the same group of players repeatedly picked. Their next striker may not be all that but they will pass to him and he will score. Position - Player - Year - Goals - Caps. 1 Poul Nielsen 1910-1925 52 (38 games) 2 Jon Dahl Tomasson 1997-2010 52 (112 games) 3 Pauli Jørgensen 1925-1939 44 (47 games) 4 Ole Madsen 1958-1969 42 (50 games) 5 Preben Elkjær Larsen 1977-1988 38 (69 games) 6 Michael Laudrup 1982-1998 37 (104 games) 7 Henning Enoksen 1958-1966 29 (54 games) 8 Nicklas Bendtner 2006-2014 24 (56 games) 9 Michael Rohde 1915-1931 22 (40 games) 10 Ebbe Sand 1998-2004 22 (66 games) ===Appearances=== 1 Peter Schmeichel 1987-2001 129 2 Dennis Rommedahl 2000-2014 126 3 Jon Dahl Tomasson 1997-2010 112 4 Thomas Helveg 1994-2007 108 5 Michael Laudrup 1982-1998 104 6 Morten Olsen 1970-1989 102 7 Martin Jørgensen 1998-2011 102 8 Thomas Sørensen 1999-2012 101 9 Christian Poulsen 2001-2012 92 10 John Sivebæk 1982-1992 87
Star - Tom Hanks Genre - Action Run Time - 134 minutes Certificate - PG13 Country - USA Amazon - £10.00 DVD (£13.00 Blue Ray) Awards - 6 Oscar Nominations (3 Golden Globe & BAFTA nominations) = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = When ever you watch a Hollywood action movie based on a dramatic true story involving American you know it's making a story the patriotic audience want, rather than the true story we should get, the case with Captain Phillips. Pack it full of American heroes and third world villains you can hate without prejudice and the multiplexers will flock, which proved the case for Captain Phillips. The film is based on a memoir called 'A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea', an account of an American captain (by Richard Phillips) and crews hijacking of his container ship off the Somali coast. In the film Phillips is portrayed as the calm and calculated hero who keeps the body count a sow as the ransom paid out when the armed Somalia pirates board his ship. After greedy industrial trawlers from the west purchased lucrative fishing licenses from a Somalia government in need of money after the civil war in the late 1990s, and so hovered up all of the local guy's fish in the process, some of those locals turned to crime to make those bills, hijacking the big trawlers to get them to leave their waters. Things got out of control when the trawler companies started paying those ransoms and so the pirates chased much bigger rewards in international waters as those rewards reached crazy prices, the hijacking of American Captain Phillips and the US military reaction the beginning of the end for those pirates. Although based on real events Phillips crew was not happy how they were portrayed in the film and said their captain was far from heroic in some of his actions and recklessly steered his vessel into pirate waters to get to Mombasa quicker, endangering all their lives. The shipping company even sent him a warning email to steer clear of those notorious waters. Director Paul Greengrass countered that by saying his version was true and loyal to the book although admitting liberties taken with dramatic license to drive the narrative on. Captain Phillips wouldn't trouble the Oscars as much as the real Captain Phillips did the US military back then and some big name critics rather surprised at that, Hanks not even making the final Academy nominee list for Best Actor, this his best work for a while. It would be his co-star Barkhad Abdi as the chief Somalia pirate that grabbed all the plaudits, earning the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor last month in London. Ironically, Barkhad Adbi would ALSO be a victim of being undercut and exploited by the west, the Minneapolis limo driver paid just $65,000 in total for the movie after answering a casting call for Somali actors. Greengrass seemed to keep the cost down on the $55 million movie by employing untested actors. Indeed, Hanks first meeting with co-star was when Adbi burst onto the bridge in the movie trailer you have all seen, the plan to add extra tension to the key scene of the movie through their first meeting. . ===Cast=== Tom Hanks ... Captain Richard Phillips Catherine Keener ... Andrea Phillips - Pirates - Barkhad Abdi ... Muse Barkhad Abdirahman ... Bilal Faysal Ahmed ... Najee Mahat M. Ali ... Elmi Mohamed Ali ... Asad Issak Farah Samatar ... Hufan - Crew - Michael Chernus ... Shane Murphy David Warshofsky ... Mike Perry Corey Johnson ... Ken Quinn Chris Mulkey ... John Cronan Yul Vazquez ... Captain Frank Castellano - US Military - Max Martini ... SEAL Commander Omar Berdouni ... Nemo ===Plot=== Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) kisses his pretty wife Andrea (Catherine Keener) goodbye before heading to a New Jersey airport to fly to Port Salah in Oman, where he will take charge of the huge container ship 'MV Maersk Alabama'. He is tasked to sail it around the Horn of Africa to Mombasa in Kenya, apprehensive as this route will take him near the coast of Somalia, pirate seas. At the same time in Somali we see local fisherman being bullied by AK47 wearing militia to get out in their boats and hijack a ship, locals bullied and picked to support the pirates on their souped up skiffs, powered by two outboard motors. The head pirate Bilal (Barkhad Abdirahman) picks his crew of 4 and they head out to rendezvous with a support trawler to catch a stray tanker or container ship in their nets, all this done in international waters and so quite a way out. Phillips, meanwhile, is briefing his crew to be on their toes for any threats as the Maersk Alabama edges out of the industrial and bustling port, straining pilot tugs waving Phillips off into uncertain waters. The captain fastidiously drills his crew on standard anti pirate measures just to be sure as the ship nears the redzone. 12 hours into the trips and Just as he dreaded, the radar beeps and two skiffs with heavily armed men are approaching his ship fast. He calls the international help line on what to do and is there help on the way, the reply, 'probably not'. After one evasion and failed attempt by the pirates there is near mutiny on both boats on the attempt. Some of Phillips crew want out and back to port whilst Bilal has been usurped as captain of the skiffs for failing to board the American container ship, ambitious and aggressive Muse (Barkhad Abdi) now plans the second attempt. This time they catch up with the ship and board with ladders, battling their way through the power hoses, but still no help coming from the authorities on the phone for Phillips. By international law merchant ships can't carry firearms and so they are on their own for now. But once Muse assumes the captaincy and takes over a US registered ship the White House is informed, military assets on the way as the game of cat and mouse begins between the two captains. Muse wants a $6 million dollar ransom for the ship and assures 'Irish', as he calls Phillips; 'everything will be ok', if he does as he is told. Whilst Phillips tries to persuade the pirates to take the $30,000 cash in the safe and make a run for it before the military arrives and blows them all to hell. Muse and his fellow pirates never really see any money from previous hijacks and clearly on the unsophisticated sharp end of a very sophisticated and lucrative piracy operation, naively pressing on for the big payday. You don't want to mess with US military with shoot to kill orders. ===Results=== What surprised me most about this film is just how critically acclaimed it is, earning 6 Oscar nominations no less for what turns out to be a pretty perfunctory action drama. The acting by Hanks is certainly worth a mention in dispatches and unlucky not to get an Oscar nod as he is the film, but the rest of it is really Paul Greengrass doing his best to squeeze some tension from some uneducated Somali oaths boarding a huge expensive ship and expecting six million dollars for their trouble. Make no mistake; the Somalis are painted as chaotic quat chewing drugged up desperados that haven't got a chance of completing their mission and you are encouraged by Greengrass's direction to scream at the screen for the 'good guys' to wipe them out, uncomfortably so at times. British director Greengrass does make some gentle political comment about why these guys do what they do to try and level things up (naming American military assets on the way as Halliburton and Blackwater) but this still ends up as bombastic and patriotic as any Hollywood war movie I have seen. It's an actual fact that the US military won't let you use their kit in a movie unless you show them in a positive light, clearly the deal here. Captain Phillips is simply too calm and reserved a guy in the film to be real and that contrast with the wide eyed Somalis is bordering on stereotyping. These pirates are organized and smart and bought in $58 million dollars in 2009 alone. But Americans don't want to watch a film with subtitles (there are more than you think here) where the third world are smarter then them. I don't dislike this film and enjoyed it enough but it just wasn't the hyped up film I was looking forward to. I hate it when everyone talks up a movie and you just don't get a buzz from it. Hopefully that's why it didn't win any Oscars and for once I was right that it was over-hyped. It is tense and if you don't know the outcome then engaging and so a good story but once you understand the dynamics of the film there's only one winner. Hanks is the film in the lead and fair play to the roar Somali actors for their carton version of their fellow countryman. It looks as good as it should for its $55 million and a good tempo throughout. The battle of wits engages and those bias stereotypes pulled a decent audience, $217 million back to date. Remember this is not a Bruce Willis style action film and so that return pretty darn good. But what it isn't, is an Apollo 13 true story and just another ship being hijacked off the African coast of many isn't really a big enough true story to be told for me. I would recommend it just for Hanks performance but also one to wait for down the road and enjoy as the terrestrial Christmas movie slot if you want to save on rentals guys. ===RATINGS=== Imdb.com - 8.0/10.0 (159,234votes) Rottentomatoes.com - 93% critic's approval Metacriitc.com - 83%critic's approval ===Special Features=== -Audio Commentary - Greengrass waffles away on his own for two hours chasing that Oscar. ===Critics=== Independent - 'The disappointing aspect to Captain Phillips is that it doesn't go beyond action movie conventions'. Metro Times -' Tom Hanks gives a fine, un-showy and sublimely focused performance'. Film4 -' With Greengrass an expert navigator of choppy waters and Hanks the assured hand at the wheel, Captain Phillips is one of the year's most thrilling cinematic voyages'. SF Weekley -'While the events depicted here do at times suggest a sort of Die Hard on the high seas, the tone is refreshingly anti-triumphalism.' The Mail -'Captain Phillips is far more successful in terms of authenticity and tension that it is characterization or depth'. ===========
I like to have a camera for all situations. I have the expensive Nikon D series for sports photography for my summer job and an old carry around 35mm in my bag as a bad habit, there for the immediate photo op, out and about, the picture that rarely comes and nobody else gets because they didn't have a camera handy. Today, of course, everyone has a camera phone handy and the quality good enough from the public and their phones to be displayed in newspapers and websites as eye witness accounts. In essence we have all become reporters because we have these digital eyes. I don't know why I still have a 35mm habit (like having an E-Cigarette instead of a fag) but the old Olympus still takes good shots and I still enjoy having photos developed. But I had to get real and now I have a new little digital carry around Olympus camera for social occasions like concerts and parties and its doing the job. No messing about with putting film in and developing and simply press the button and shoot and let the chip do the rest. The Olympus VR range is around £60-80 and reasonably new models and design. They are ranged in funky colors and very much marketed to younger people who are out and about, the pitch being that you can have a cool little camera in your bag as well as your posy camera phone. Most people on a night out seem to use their cell phones to take pictures of themselves and their friends to reassure themselves they are still attractive, or hoping to point them at celebrities, and so no REAL photography actually taking place with either if we are honest. The days of the awkward balancing of the old Pentax on a rock as the timer is set and you have run to get in the shot with your friends seem to have long gone. Leisure time cameras have been reduced to documenting Saturday night with a 'selfie' and a cocktail or two. The 310 VR range has a healthy 10 x zoom that can do decent macro and panorama stuff through both video and camera with the 24 mm wide-angle lens. Big and sharp LCD window measures around 3 inches square to inspect your images - taken, or about to be. It's a 16 Megapixel job, which I'm told is quite good for this type of small hand sized camera. It's a solid composite build quality with a strap and decent case coming with to protect it when you drop it. The Lithium battery doesn't come cheap to replace so keep it away from liquids in your bag. It's not ideal for action shots as there is a lengthy shutter lag and auto - zoom. Rooney will have taken the penalty by the time the lens whirs into focus and the settings in place. It's more for parties and get-together than the more creative stuff. I found slight detail loss at higher ISO settings and so I would keep the ISO setting below 400 to keep it sharp and avoid grainy crap. The video option is not top end and also a little grainy, especially if your hand is not steady, perhaps that of mobile phone standard. You can a good minute though without the levels dropping too low. Greta for filming naughty girlfriends. There's a USB port, of course, which doubles as a charging point from the supplied charger. Other VR models don't included USB chargers so pick your model carefully. You can save photos and videos in the various standards on the likewise memory cards.... SD, SDHC, or SDXC...through the likewise slot. You do not get a memory-card with the camera, or, at least, I didn't. They are about a tenner in the shops and a standard for most cameras. Another cable is supplied to move data from the camera to your laptop or tablet. You can download a lot of stuff on the cards. One annoying thing is you can't zoom while you are filming, or zoom the recording. There is no Bluetooth with this model either. It's light at 6 ounces and a compact size. Happily there is an Intelligent Auto shooting mode that controls almost every discipline on the camera's settings. You can set the flash, resolution, a Self Timer, and zoom and the lens manually if you so chose. That's reassuring for older folks. As I have said before, women in general prefer to leave technical tasks to men and so things quickly become complicated. With this you can just point and press the shutter. You do have to hold that shutter down to center and focus the picture so that two second wait takes time to get used to. You have all tried to take pictures with other peoples phones and cameras and bungled the shot.
Star - Jack Black Genre - Comedy Run Time - 104 minutes Certificate - PG13 Minutes Country - USA Amazon - £5.00 DVD (£5.90 Blue Ray) Awards - 1 Golden Globe Nomination = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = ===Quote=== Townspeople: In a small town, people will always suspect the worst of someone. But they'll also suspect the best. ============ So, 'Bernie', a film based on an article in the Texas Monthly Magazine publication of 1998, which chronicles the 1996 murder of 81-year-old millionaire Marjorie Nugent in Carthage, Texas, her rather camp 39-year-old companion Bernhardt "Bernie" Tiede number one suspect. It's a true story and director Richard Linklater quickly identified the film possibilities and set to work, Jack Black the only man he wanted to play Bernie. Black jumped at the chance to work with Linklater and co-star Shirley MaCLaine and earned himself a Golden Globe nomination for his prissy comic performance, Bernie a film that charts high on movie sites with the critics. When you see that consistency it's worth a rent, however 'hit n miss' Black is. Black met the real Bernhardt Tiede in Telford Unit State Prison to research the film and the man himself, whilst co star Shirley MacLaine also spoke to this intriguing character on the phone. For further authenticity, director Richard Linklater cast some of the real residents of Carthage that knew, or were aware, of the Tiede and Nugent story, providing commentary on the events throughout the documentary style drama. Texan and co-star Matthew McConaughey's mum Kay also cameos, as does Linklater. It's very much a family affair type movie. ===Cast=== Jack Black ... Bernie Tiede Shirley MacLaine ... Marjorie Nugent Matthew McConaughey ... Danny Buck Brady Coleman ... Scrappy Holmes Richard Robichaux ... Lloyd Hornbuckle Rick Dial ... Don Leggett Brandon Smith ... Sheriff Huckabee Larry Jack Dotson ... Rev. Woodard Merrilee McCommas ... Molly Mathew Greer ... Carl ===Plot=== The rather jovial Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) has been employed at the local funeral home in Carthage, West Texas, his comforting style and amiable manner making him very popular in town. He knows everyone and they want to know him. His funeral services are memorable and bespoke and he puts himself about the community to make sure he knows the people he is burying. But life is about to change for Bernie when he befriends the towns most hated resident, grumpy and mean octogenarian Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), recently inheriting her husbands oil wealth when he dies of a heart attack. Bernie is clearly gay but flirts his way into Marjorie's affections after an extra special funeral service for her beloved. Gay men like to live well and he is soon receiving gifts from Marjorie. After appointing himself her business manager he starts to redistribute some of the family wealth to the town's folk who took him to their hearts, the foreign holidays and trips to fancy restaurants piling up and Bernie living the life. But Mrs Nugent treats the seemingly well-meaning Bernie like a slave and it may be time to get rid and have power of attorney to go with, something the townsfolk are not going to argue with, Sheriff Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey) soon on the case when there appears to be no sign of Mrs Nugent. ===Results=== I struggled with this. I didn't laugh once and a rye smile was the best I could do. It starts of slow and stays that way, chugging along like a pensioner on a Sunday drive. Black is clearly very good at playing this oddball camp character and that's what won the critics over but they understand small town America more than an English bloke from the Midlands does. All the jokes were clearly in the quirks and nuances of small time America and aimed at the audience. Now Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey is wasted here as the matchstick chewing cop although good to see Shirley MacLaine playing diva's again. Including the towns folk was good fun, ill give you that, relishing in relieving their experience of the case and hate for Mrs Nugent. But I need more than that and it would have been nice if Linklater explored the reasons why Bernie did what he did and more about his background to lead him down this path. It's hard to recommend this film to you guys as it's clearly not aimed at you or me. Jack Black fans will probably like it more as it's his best performance since School of Rock and the rather underrated Be Kind Rewind but not really for me. At least it's not the fat mouthed irritating Jack Black. Richard Linklater is the man who bought is the amazing Before Sunset and the cool and slick Dazed and Confused and so I'm a little surprised this is so understated and bland in subject matter, humor and emotion. ===RATINGS=== Imdb.com - 6.8/10.0 (30,497votes) Rottentomatos.com - % critic's approval Metacriitc.com - 75%critic's approval ===Special Features=== -Amazing Grace- -True Story: Russian Roulette- -The Gossips- A lot of the locals of Carthage took part in the movie and here they chat more about what really went on. ===Critics=== Film4 -'A sweet, dark, funny true-crime story with a dream cast - and that includes the real-life residents of the town of Carthage, Texas'. SKY Movies -'There's not many movies that leave you wanting to give a convicted killer a great big hug. But this is one'. Empire Magazine -'Linklater's Fargo, its funny peculiar and funny ha ha'. The Baltimore Times -'You may be amused, but the laughter like the man, rings hollow'. Financial times -'Almost vaudeville in spirit, it delights in American social clichés and kinks'. MovieTalk.com -'Black is a marvel as Bernie, reining in his usual manic persona to give his prissy, camp character an endearing sweetness but leaving what really makes him tick a puzzle'. The Daily Mail -'Richard Linklater mixes comedy, drama and documentary to tell a frankly outrageous true story, and in the process he also gives Jack Black one of his best-yet roles'. Daily Mail -'I didn't find it very entertaining, but it is at least trying something different'. ===========
Star - Moody Moscow Genre - World Cinema Run Time - 109 minutes Certificate - 18R Country - Russian Awards - 11 Wins & 7 Nominations. Amazon - £12.81 DVD (£27.24 Blue Ray) = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = As we are on the breech of Third World War today in the Ukraine I thought a grim Russian drama would be appropriate to start the week. It's from the director Andrey Zvyagintsev of the equally depressing Russian film The Return. Every Russian film I have seen seems to confirm it's a grim and corrupt place and so ideal for another Cold War. And trust me; it will get very cold, very soon in Europe if Putin cuts our gas off for getting involved. As we know Moscow is the most corrupt capital in Europe and an equally sharp poverty divide present, the subject of Elena. It did good businesses on the European awards and festival circuit and seemingly celebrated for its lugubrious textures, the director compared to the Russian greats by the critics. ===Cast=== Nadezhda Markina ... Elena Andrey Smirnov ... Vladimir Elena Lyadova ... Katerina Aleksey Rozin ... Sergey Evgeniya Konushkina ... Tatyana Igor Ogurtsov ... Aleksandr ===Plot=== Sixty something Elena (Nadezhda Markina) is a retired nurse, living with wealthy husband Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov) in one of the nicer suburbs of Moscow. Elena met Vladimir when she was working in a hospital caring for him after his first heart attack. Now married after ten years together life is pretty comfortable but still rather dull for Elena, willingly subservient to her husband because of his wealth and security. Elena is building a secret nest egg by prostituting herself in that lush apartment while her husband is out and about, Vladimir keeping his eye in as a consultant at a biotech company. Elena's son Sergey (Aleksey Rozin), from her previous marriage, lives on the other side of town and needs money to get by, an unemployed wastrel and content with his working-class existence half way up a grim tower block. Elena is far more sympathetic than perhaps she should be to her son's family's situation, and when grandson Alexsandr (Igor Ogurtsov) is facing compulsory military service at age 16 she decides to ask her husband for money to send him off to university to escape the Urals. But maybe her right wing son would enjoy the army, all too keen to join the local gangs to beat up immigrants. Vladimir, on the other hand, wants his step-family to learn some hard lessons in life and for Sergy to ask his own father to pay for it. But Elena is not beaten yet and when her husband has another heart attack and she is once again his home career she cooks up a plan that will resolve Sergey's money problems and give her more space in life to do what she wants to do. But only if she has the nerve to do that one thing that will make it happen. But there's a complication, Vladimir's daughter Tatyana (Evgeniya Konushkina) from his first marriage, a cold and calculating women who is just as feckless as her son-in-law and as scheming as Elena around money. ===Results=== As grim as it is to watch its well made and acted. I'm sure if you are Russian and have a better grasp of Moscow and the class system there you will get this movie more. The plot is straightforward and the drama understated the basic laws of that class structure applied to stereotype the characters. The most interesting part of the film is Nadezhda Markina's performance as Elena. The run time is about right and enough intrigue and emotion here to get you involved. The surroundings are a little nondescript to the Moscow we know and so it becomes about the practical capitalism required to keep the family going. Blood is blood and you are loyal to your own, however feckless, scheming, lazy or twisted. A family is a group of people generally bonded only by that blood. Subtitles are not too bad although this could have done with some more black humor as it gets too serious at times. I'm sure Russians do smile and laugh sometimes. It would have been nicer with some deeper twists and turns of the tension knife but no immediacy is injected and so it takes a straight-line to its conclusion. It's definitely for foreign film fans only and the sort of non mainstream movie most Russians would also probably ignore because of its subtle and domestic themes. But I enjoyed it enough to make the effort to review it and if you want some intelligent and well acted Russian domestic drama then Elena will do it. Now, where's my nearest nuclear shelter? Duck and cover... Duck and cover... Duck and cover... ===RATINGS=== Imdb.com - 7.3/10.0 (5,129votes) Rottentomatos.com - 93% critic's approval Metacriitc.com -' 87% critic's approval ===Special Features=== ===Critics=== Daily Telegraph -'sometimes tensions vie with tenderness in even the closest relationships'. Little White Lies -'A withering admonishment of capitalism and the emotional mindset that comes with'. Vue Weekly -'A chilly noir about the beaten paths and icy ruts of Russian life in the capital, post-Communism'. Sunonine .com -' The mundanity of the everyday is examined, but do you really want to watch someone slowly making a bed?' The Mail -'The kind of family drama that gives family dramas a good name'. Birmingham Post -'Though very Russian, there is an extremely universal story at the heart of this film...'. ===========
Star - Jonathan Rhys Myers Genre - Drama Run Time - 114 minutes Certificate - PG Country - USA Amazon - £ 3.89DVD (£6.79 Blue Ray) Awards - 1 Oscar Nomination (2007) = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = So, has there ever been a film that split the critics more than August Rush. Film is often made by dreamers and reviewed by cynics and this one really irritated the broadsheets for its saccharine approach and discombobulated plot and so they egregiously ripped it apart. But the audience, the important part, loved it and a word of mouth hit, especially with the youth of the X-Factor era, its musical themes and forbidden love exactly what dreamers want in their film. A good movie is all about escapism and emotions and not the nuts and bolts. Its Oscar nominated song 'Raise it Up' would be the only part the critics would let trouble the awards ceremonies though. The problems start with the films bold ambitious, clearly a mix of fairy-tale, fable, drama and musical. In the glorious days of cinema this would be standard film fair as the stars were expected to be all singing and dancing. But that died out (Thank God) in the 1970s and so this all a bit alien for our modern critics. ===Cast=== Freddie Highmore ...... as Evan Taylor / August Rush Keri Russell........ as Lyla Novacek Jonathan Rhys Meyers........as Louis Connelly Robin Williams......... as Maxwell "Wizard" Wallace Terrence Howard........ as Counselor Richard Jeffries William Sadler......... as Thomas Novacek Marian Seldes......... as The Dean Jamia Simone Nash.......... as Hope Mykelti Williamson....... as Reverend James Leon G. Thomas III......... as Arthur Alex O'Loughlin........ as Marshall Bonnie McKee......... as Lizzy Timothy Mitchum......... as Joey Becki Newton.......... as Jennifer Aaron Staton........ as Nick ===Plot=== It's 1995 in New York City where cheeky chappy Irishman Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) fronts a rock band called The Connelly Brothers. They are up and coming and have a big dreams and like the ladies, Louis charming pretty cellist prodigy Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) at a roof top party at a bar to celebrate. The two click big time and consummate their love and agree to meet the next day before Lyla heads to Chicago. But, somewhat unfortunately, she is run over by a car when she rows with her controlling father (William Sadler) leaving a restaurant and faces a long stay in hospital. Louis has no idea why she didn't show and goes about his life as the band head on to Boston to play some gigs. We then meet 10-year-old Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore), who has grown up in children's home outside of New York State and has never known his parents. But he won't give up on them showing up one day to claim him, and ready to run off and find them if they don't show, fed up of the bullying and ridicule from the older boys he gets at the home for his odd beliefs. Little Evan believes the music and rhythms from the sounds and motions all around him will eventually lead him to his parents, a long shot from a strange little kid with a musical ear. Children's counselor Richard Jeffries (Terrance Howard) promises little Evan he will do everything he can to find who bought the Evan Taylor into the world but no promises. Louis now lives in San Francisco with a responsible job but has never forgotten that night with Lyla, the love of his life. She lives in Chicago and has also given up on her musical dream, another quest occupying her time now, far more important than classical music. Little Evan does indeed run away and believes his parents live in New York somewhere, so say those musical notes and rhythms swirling all around him, where he meets various oddball and challenging characters in Manhattans underbelly, including the flick-knife carrying Maxwell "Wizard" Wallace (Robin Williams) and child busker Hope (Jamia Simone Nash). The Wizard runs a homeless street kid collective in a run down theatre and sees only dollar signs in little Evan, who manages to pick up musical skills very quickly, ideal profit for The Wizard. The question now is can Evans amazing musical ability find his parents ears somehow in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan? ===Results=== More fable than film, there is no earthly reason why August Rush should work. But it does. I would imagine an autistic kid would be tripping from this, especially the first twenty minutes when it is shaping up to be really weird, pretentious and really rather bad. But the concept of music and the rhythms of life leading you to your real parents is only ever meant to be a fairy-tale so why question it? Its certainly one of those films you need to go with, as earnest as any family film I have seen. That first twenty minutes does put you off and you quickly regret renting this, the critics at this point bang on. But it settles down and turns itself around once we get the point of the film and the main protagonists take their places. That likable and charming cast put things into place and we accept the film is going to be a little odd and schmaltzy in places but should hang in there although I wasn't quite expecting this much sugar poured over it at the end. The soundtrack is as equally interesting mix of sounds and those Irish and classic rhythms and the dialogue suitably safe and Disney like at times. It you like stuff like 'Step Up' and 'Glee' or you can remember cracking underrated films like Mr Holland's Opus then you will enjoy this. I think the critics bulked because it is so unconventional in its approach and pastes over the gaps with icing sugar and so way too sweet for a serious audience and so ending up a young adult movie it probably wasn't meant to be. It has got a certain charm to it and its $25 million did a useful $60 million back. The shameless crescendo of an ending is exactly what you want to save the day and August Rush certain delivers that. Films are supposed to be about teasing your emotions and taking you to another place and August Rush certainly does that, be it a trippy one. I suspect it's that emotion that bumps up its IMDB rating with film fans. Rottentomatoes had the fans rating at 73% fresh to the critics inverted 37% splat. It's that kind of movie folks. This is why tedious dramas nearly always win the Oscars. We have forgotten what cinema is supposed to be about, why it's so pleasing Gravity has been nominated this year. ===RATINGS=== Imdb.com - 7.6/10.0 (69,552 votes) Rottentomatos.com - 37% critic's approval Metacriitc.com - 38%critic's approval ===Special Features=== ===Critics=== Guardian -'Watching this yucky emotional drama is like being sprayed with treacle from a high-pressure hose'. Film4 'Passionate about the importance of music, August Rush is an ambitious family film that just about keeps its head above the rising waters of gushing sentimentality'. Time UK -'A show-stopping compendium of clichés, bogus emotions, duff dialogue and cringeworthy performances. Yet it's so naively idiotic that it's hard to hate. Better just to ignore it'. BBC -'Yes, August Rush is cheesy, almost embarrassingly so, but it's also irrepressibly sweet'. Reelz.com -'"The only thing astounding about this movie is how bad it is." The Mirror -'A music box trying to pass itself off as an orchestra? Urban Cinefile.com -'It's far-fetched and a leap of faith of Olympic proportions is required to keep abreast of the plot, but August Rush does deliver some charming moments'. MSNBC -'While many films require a suspension of disbelief, August Rush asks viewers to terminate their disbelief without severance and have security escort it from the building'. Windowonthemovies -'Its almost desperate earnestness actually turns out to be its greatest appeal -- August Rush does believe in fairy tales, it does it does it does!' ===========
TV finally eats itself...and burps loudly! Gogglebox is by far the funniest program on TV right now and I'm surprised the team that makes it for CH4 didn't get a mention on the always entertaining Channel Four Comedy Awards. Forget Jack Whitehall and all these stand up comics reading autocue in sitcoms and boring panel's shows because this type of telly is the future. If you tune into Channel Four at 9pm on Friday night I guarantee you will chuckle away. This show is all about you and me and a sofa and that thing the rules our lives called the television, a kind of real version of The Royal Family. It's the first program for a long while that doesn't have to try to make you laugh. You just will. Forget all your snobbery and pretensions over what you watch and just give it a go. The concept of the show is a discreet camera is placed in a selection of British family's living rooms around the country (of which they are fully aware of) and records the family's reactions to the week's telly. They film three nights a week and a team edits the footage to go out on the following Wednesday night one hour show to keep it fresh and of the moment. It's the telly and news you and me have just watched and so always topical and current. The mix of families is certainly that and reflects multicultural Britain. The clipped English accents generating even more laughs and reassuring to some that should know better that people with different skins that have lived here awhile are just like you and me. That's its strongest quality and joy. As with all entertaining reality TV it's the normal people who don't go on these shows expecting to be famous that shine the most. I'm pretty sure no one on this show had that on their minds as it doesn't have that feel and essentially a group of very normal people that are overweight, spotty, and argumentative and not that attractive just speaking their mind. No one is looking for a modeling contract or to be on Richard & Judy. To quote Richard Nixon: When people look at JFK they see who they want to be. When they look at me they see who they are'. You would ask the question would fame accept those people anyway and is that the point off this show that there are those aesthetically meant to be on the TV and those meant to watch it, television finally eating itself here. The producers say they do have to edit out some grandstanding when family members briefly become self-aware but nowhere near as bad as shows like Big Brother. I suspect no one had any really high hopes of this show being a hit around such a simple and intimate idea anyhow and so didn't set out to spoil it. If a camera was hidden in their front rooms and they didn't know about it then it would probably be very different show and never broadcast but a show we would all love to watch, why I think tabloids get such an unfair ride. You have to watch your P's and Qs on this. The stars of the show from the 14 families featured would have to be rich couple Steph and Dom Parker. They flaunt their bourgeois wealth in their pastille colored living room over a glass or two of plonk and show their support for the Tories where possible. They have already tipped the sofa over when tipsy and the ones that swear the most. Dom announced they have 63 windows in their house when watching Downtown. Retired teachers June and Leon Bernioff from Liverpool are your typical comfortable chair old couple who still gently love each other and Leon enjoys irritating his wife his pointed comments whilst she tuts in her knitting. Hairdressers Chris Stead and Stephen Webb from Brighton are the essential gay element to all good reality shows and bitch and claw there way though the weeks TV, the permatanned Stephen particularly funny. East London 'sista's' and friends Sandy and Sandra get very noisy and Brixton and don't hold back on what they are watching and like to drink wine out of old Pot Noodle cups as they do that. I suspect they do cash in on their fame around town. They are great fun and not remotely bothered how they come across on telly and very natural. On Homeland Chris: We all like a bad boy, don't we? Stephen: Yeah, but not a terrorist, Chris. It's just a fabulous mix of what Britain is today and great to see the second generation mixed race family from Brighton and the German heavy metal loving family from Stoke just sitting around the box and saying exactly the same things as we all do during Strictly and X Factor. There is real warmth to it all and shows just how communal television remains and how important it is in the cold northern hemisphere when times are tough in keeping us together as a nation. Nobody over 21 goes out in the week anymore and well do the same stuff now. These girls and girls just make you laugh by representing you and saying exactly what you would say that you thought was outrageous. I love that side of it. We are all the same when it comes down to it and those moments can be very funny, what TV should be about. Gogglebox is TV Zeitgeist and you really should be watching a reality show essentially about you.
Star - Mark Ruffalo & Jessie Eisenburg Genre - Action Run Time - 115 minutes Certificate - PG13 Country - USA Amazon - £6.99 DVD (£10.00 Blue Ray) = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = Did you know those swanky Las Vegas hotels deliberately exclude mirrors from the casino floors as they don't want you to do is catch a glimpse of yourself. They want you to feel like James Bond or Elizabeth Taylor when you enter and the reality of a double chin, an unfortunate profile and a spare tire or two (as most Vegas tourists have) not conducive to making you blow your money feeling good. That deception sums up the film Now You See Me in so many ways. If you look too close the illusion quickly shatters, the rabbit very much out of the hat. It's from director Louis Leterrier, he of the Clash of the Titans, Transporter 2 and The Incredible Hulk, plenty of early warning signs there. But as concept movies go it's a great idea, magicians doing million dollar bank robberies scope for fun. If they can make the statue of Liberty disappear then why nota vault full of money? Problem is they had the concept but not the complete movie. ===Cast=== Jesse Eisenberg ... J. Daniel Atlas Mark Ruffalo ... Dylan Rhodes Woody Harrelson ... Merritt McKinney Isla Fisher ... Henley Reeves Dave Franco ... Jack Wilder Mélanie Laurent ... Alma Dray Morgan Freeman ... Thaddeus Bradley Michael Caine ... Arthur Tressler Michael Kelly ... Agent Fuller Common ... Evans ===Plot=== Four arrogant and youthful magicians are drawn together in a mysterious dusty room by a series of clues, their quest triggered by an equally mysteriously placed Tarot Card at their place of work. The four are slight-of-hand guy Jay (Jesse Eisenberg), who knows sexy escapologist Henley (Isla Fisher) from a previous liaison ; handsome pickpocket Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and hypnotist and general hustler Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) making up the quartet. They didn't call this meeting but who ever did knows what they want from them. In the room they are marveled by a laser light show and some complex blueprints and plans, projected in the centre of the room by a hologram. This is hi-tech stuff. We discover that the plans are for an outrageous bank robbery, the idea that the four should team up a year from now as 'The Four Horseman' stage act and carry out the perfect robbery live on TV from Las Vegas, the bank in question being located in France, not the easiest trick to carry off. If they are in Vegas and the bank is in France then how could they possibly rob it? 12 month son and the heist goes to plan and a pallet full of money vanishes from a sealed bank vault in Paris and so the four are arrested coming off stage in Vegas, the money from the vault appearing to rain down on the packed crowd on live TV. The kids are prepared for the grilling to come as part of their plan and chief FBI officer Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) assigned to the case, joined by pretty and very French Interpol agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) to cover the European side. Unable to prove they did it, of course, the four are released on bail but quickly set about planning robbery number two of three, this time twice as outrageous, which accelerates the hype for their next show in New Orleans, their rich businessman backer Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) all very excited with the turn of events as the sponsors and TV money rolls in. The number one suspect for helping the gang is magician and physic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), an unlikely alibi. His job is to expose magician's tricks and make their lives difficult and so hardly an ideal suspect. But Officer Rhodes needs a lead as the second show nears and Thaddeus is the best they have. And when the next trick works and even more money is magiced away and the gang escape it becomes obvious the magicians are indeed the smartest people in the room and the final trick could break the house. But who is the mastermind behind these elaborate illusions if it's not the magicians? ===Results=== Sadly this tries a little too hard to be The Prestige meets Oceans Eleven and ends up The Illusionists (Ed Norton) meets Oceans 13, comfortably the lesser two films. The ending is very silly and it's almost as if the writers didn't have one in mind and went with the left over pieces on the table. The art of this type of smoke and mirrors movie is to make you, the viewer, think you are intelligent by working it out, but you don't have to work it out because it doesn't make much sense at any point and becomes giddy nonsense. But it is good silly fun up until then and so the benefit of the doubt given by most who watched it. The Illusionist, a similar film about deception and magic, is spoilt by using CGI to recreate the magic tricks of the 19th century; the whole point being the film is only authentic if the tricks being done catch the wonderment of the time from its Victorian audience. This film has the same problem in that it explains away things with special-effects when it should be detailing how the trick is done. That is why The Prestige is so much better than The Illusionist. Its all in the intricacy. The cast are perfectly fine but play it too cocky with briefly clever and snappy dialogue. Although this is not pitched as nuts and bolts action movie that interesting premise driving things quickly becomes one as the bolts come undone and bits fall off, rather a shame as it showed promise early on. It's not particularly bad or anything and I enjoyed most of it but when you see the twist you will simply say that's just not on pal. It would be rather cruel to say it's a film that caters towards stupid people but the narrative certainly feels that way and the twist simply unacceptable in the context of the films narrative. Again not bad but could have been so much better. Generally when Mark Ruffalo is on a movie it's not that clever. ===RATINGS=== Imdb.com - 7.3/10.0 (256,765votes) Rottentomatos.com - 50% critic's approval Metacritic.com - 50%critic's approval ===Special Features=== -Now You See Me: Revealed- Behind the scenes stuff to try and explain how the trick went so wrong ===Critics=== Daily Telegraph -'Leterrier handles his camera like a Swingball set. Sleight-of-hand has seldom felt slighter than this'. Daily Mail -'The story moves jauntily toward its destination; the destination, unfortunately, is a disappointing wreck'. Empire Magazine -'Magicians as criminals is a marvelous conceit and Louis Leterrier gets a great deal of entertainment out of it, but it can't disguise a weak end with smoke and mirrors. Needscoffee.com -'If you look at the film as escapist fare where you just go: 'My brain's off, you got a good cast, you got a good concept, roll with it' -- I think you'll be fine'. The Standard -'Like a real magic show, Now You See Me is thoroughly entertaining for the most part, but is ultimately silly and substance less'. The Mercury -'Abracadabra! The character development has vanished. Concrete Playground -'Ocean's Eleven for Gen-Y; it's a 'pop heist movie' that's more concerned with looking cool than being it. Urban Cinefile -'Now You See Me is a picture that lays all of its cards on the table, only to uncover one or two jokers in the pack'. ===========
So back in the old days the big expensive cameras would be used by professionals and we would have an instamatic or portable jobby that we would carry around on holiday or use for family get togethers. Today everyone has a camera on their phone and some of those cameras are very good, if not better, as your average carry around camera and so the traditional camera in the case on the way out. Many Smartphone's have zooms, photo editing and powerful processors to produce really good pictures and so killed 35mm stone dead. Some have up to 8 Megapixel clarity, enough for a professional photo shoot in a studio. Global warming fear has been driven by the ability of you and me to take pictures of extreme weather as it happens, weather that has always been there, as example of how powerful we become with a camera to record and video instant events. These cameraphones are changing the media as we, the people, know it and we become the journalists. Everyone wants a cool camera on their phone but not so much the normal chunky camera we all used to lug around. The days of the traditional portable camera are coming to and end, Kodak already winding up its developing film departments. 35MM film has long since died a death and only mugs like me still carrying a 35mm SLR. I purchased a big Nikon D60 and likewise lens to take photos at sports events to go with my writing but I also carry a small camera around in my bag in case a photo opportunity arrives. I think a love of writing marries with a love of taking pictures as they are one of the same things, both telling a story. The great photos always tell a story of an exceptional event in an every day setting and situation. Nothing worse than staged and complex photos by professionals, like the macro shot of an insect on a flower. The most famous photo of all is of a Vietcong officer shooting a guy in the head on the street in front of the public that was snapped there and then. It's all about the moment and you need a camera on your for that moment. Even David Bailey carried a little 35mm around with him for that moment that could never be staged. My cameraphone isn't great and I hardly use it and so still have my old 35mm in the bag. I don't use it much either but its there to take the picture when I need to, be it at a sports event or out and about. It is an old fashioned film camera so I'm one of those people who still send photos off to be developed. I still find digital photography lazy and unromantic. I like the photos coming in the post although I will admit it's barely twice a year I do that now. Sports snappers can take 20 shots second and so not that difficult getting the right image, why their professional wages have fallen in recent years. The Olympus MJU is a standard SLR (Single Lens Reflex) that you point and click, the automatic telescopic zoom becoming erect like a porn star on cue and focusing the shot for you, powered by a small electronic motor. The 135mm file format is standard with likewise red eye reduction. If people have red eyeballs in your photos it means they are an alien being from another planet and this still the best way to discover that. Don't be alarmed as they come in peace. You can change the lens (comes with 30-80mm) for a more powerful one but this not that type of camera and the auto-focus perfectly fine for the job in hand. Its nota pretty looking thing so not a poser's camera. The flash is ok and the camera automatically loads the next shot. The film is a bit fiddly to load in the ack. This type of lens allows for decent indoor shots and panorama stuff, the ideal wedding and special occasion's camera back in the day with lots of automatic whirring when you pressed the buttons. I would also say a good tourist camera. It also has a button you can press to print the dates on the photos, plus all the other buttons that don't actually do much but add thirty quid to the price when the model is launched. Its light to carry but sturdy enough, designed more to 'bounce' than 'thud' off the pavement and has not suffered too badly from being at the bottom of my backpack for a few years, waterproof and not something that scratches and wears easy. I think it was launched around 2005 and I bought it about then, just before it all went digital. As I say I don't use it much but good for lending to older people at weddings and parties to take pictures, a method they are more comfortable with. You know what older women are like with technology and so these cameras reassuring. I don't think you can buy this model in the shops anymore and something you can only get on EBay ect. Obviously 35mm film is dinosaur stuff and only for the purist. Saying that if you are keen on sticking with 35mm and buying stuff off EBay it's hard not to put this camera down as it does everything for you - accept develop the film, of course, the reason why its on Ebay.
So Baggage Battles, the latest in a long line of somewhat contrived but annoyingly addictive American auction style shows hidden away on Freeview. We have Storage Hunters on Dave and the hybrid Storage Wars on ITV4 and then shows like Salvage Hunters (British) and Baggage Battles (American) on Quest. They are not like those naff BBC antiques shows with gay and camp presenters that really should be doing children's TV. Storage Hunters and Storage Wars are based around bin sales (storage garages) where punters bid blind on the reclaimed contents of storage facilities where the owner can no longer afford to pay the storage fees and so the locker becomes the property of the storage company. The bidding punters can't actually enter the locker and so have to assess what's in there by what little of what they can actually see. It's done this way so the storage company clears the whole lot at once (the buyer has to privately tip what they don't want) so no retail space required on site. The shows are obviously just that and valuable and interesting quirky items clearly placed in the bins by the TV production company to make it worth all our whiles and the show more exciting. The original bin owners on these American shows would know there was valuable stuff in there and would simply use that to pay their bill, right? I would say Salvage Hunters is the only one where they don't do that. The more prominent characters that do this type of trading stuff for a living end up the stars of the show, of course, this being America, bidders reportedly paid up to $10,000 per show by the producers, presumably on condition they spend it at the televised auctions so the bidding goes much higher than it should to add excitement. You get the impression it's all rather staged and the background member so the public that don't get to bid much extras from an agency. Baggage Battles is yet another hybrid of the above format and moves the buying and selling shenanigans to places like airport auctions and Homeland Security sales. Two billion dollars worth of freight and luggage is lost or confiscated in America every year and because of recent September 11 paranoia that number is rising fast, all sorts of stuff pulled off planes, lorries and boats for being suspicious. The Inland Revenue also sizes a lot of stuff for non payment of taxes and that kit also sold on in public auctions, like the way we have police auctions here for stolen property. You really can pick up some bargains. I once wrote a film script around these places just after 911 when everyone was forced to put their valuables into their main luggage hold and so that good stuff lost or stolen in transit material for a film narrative. It was rejected because, clearly, the concept was only ever an idea for a TV show, hence Baggage Hunters. I await my royalty cheque. The idea here is three 'characters' who bid at these blind auctions behave exactly like those colorful characters they have created and go head - to - head for the best stuff. In this show they are just like everyone else at these more popular public auctions and its a free for all and so you must have an eye for a deal and detail on touch and fee to make profit. You can't open the lost luggage or freight in the auction on offer in the hundreds of lots and must go by what you see and asses. You can shake it, walk around it or prod it. It's unsure if you can poke holes in it when no ones looking. I would. It's interesting how they do their assessments but most of it obvious. A lost Louis Vettonn bag, the cream of luggage, is likely to have nice stuff in it, right, and the bags alone worth a grand. Obviously lost luggage coming back from a holiday location is more likely to be dirty washing so best to avoid. The guys and girls prod around and rub their chins and then bid on the ones they fancy. But for TV reasons the featured characters always seem to go for the same bags, boxes and crates so it all gets predicable very quickly for the bidding showdown. I don't think they know what's in the baggage and freight they bid for and so not set up that way but they have enough idea through reasoning that they won't be far wrong. Again they are paid money to be on the show and so bid up stuff that may not be all that what they normally wouldn't touch. Obviously a lot of stuff at these things is rubbish or low cost items and so you have to sift the wheat from the chaff if you are an experienced dealer. In the English versions of these auctions near London's airports most of the bags are ripped open and pilfered of the best stuff by the companies who run the auctions before going on public sale. The characters are the debonair Manhattan antique shop owner William Leroy, who dresses like famous comedy film director John Walters (and has a suspicious amount of Imdb entries to suggest he is not all he seems), mouthy Jersey boy Mark and married couple Sally and Laurence Martin, who defected from Storage Wars. Laurence is an eccentric Brit, who runs an antique store in L.A and dresses like David Dickenson, his camera keen wife always smiling for the shot. These shows make millionaires of you so one suspect's people who go to these various auctions constantly auditioning, be it by being obnoxious or eccentrically dressed. This being America they are all frustrated actors at heart. Brandi Passante, the sexy busty star of Storage Wars, is now in a sitcom of her own. The appeal of the show is, of course, what's in the mystery package and will it be worth anything? Often it is as one or two of those items 'placed' in that freight and luggage for effect by the production team. Again, I don't think the bidders know what's in there but are certainly expecting those treats. As random bidders also chase the same kit I expect it as a rare art to work out what is most likely to be in there and so worth the punt. Obviously there is an issue over viewers watching the show only to see their belongings on the show. I presume its mostly insurance write offs and so tough mate although we have seen Mark return a sentimental item to an owner. And so summing up it's a case of for some reason you sit down watching these shows like the junk sold in them and end up looking forward to them down the line, the way you do Dads Army and Rising Damp repeats. They are TV comfort snacks in a whole afternoon buffet of it and once you start on snacks you eat them all, right? If Storage Hunters is the Jaffa Cakes of that particular range of fast-food then Baggage Battles is very much the Ritz Cracker, a good nibble but too much of it and you put the packet back down and they will go soft.