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Ciao’s biggest drawback as a product review site is we tend to review new things as soon as we get them, which I am about to do, and which we are encouraged to so. It’s a bit of a contradiction. Six months from now my review on this phone maybe very different, as it definitely would be for my last PAYG smartphone, hence me buying a new one. That was a brand new Nokia 520 on the Vodafone network, which I really liked but it soon began to freeze up, eventually totally frozen and unusable after 11 months use. Even with soft and hard reset and taking the battery out it remained frozen, and because you cant get in their and run virus protection to manually fix it there is nothing you can do but hope for a refund or a place locally that honors the guarantee and fixes it for free. The old style mobile phones maybe basic but they are way more durable. Phones are no longer for making calls and texting with though. Fortunately, Amazon were remarkably understanding and quick in giving me a full refund for something I had been using for 11 months and so I had enough cash to buy another smartphone on Amazon. That would suggest Windowsphone’s freeze up a lot and they aint going to argue the toss. I would highly recommend you use the online help center on Amazon to try and blag a refund. Just ask where the nearest under guarantee repair agent is.
So this time I wanted to try android software as I now know they have far more free apps than windowsphones and the only one to have the BBC app that runs live county cricket commentaries, a big reason why I bought a smartphone for work. Because of my low end price range I was limited on the smartphone model I could buy on Amazon to exploit my refund. My range was £60-£80 pounds and so a discount sort, which means an older model. But I’m not remotely influenced by brands and newness and won’t be paying an extra £100 for an Iphone that is no different to a £100 cheaper Sony. All that extra you pay to Apple goes straight in their top pockets anyway. Yes, you are mugs.
After a lot of uming and arring I narrowed it down to two models and chose the HTC Desire 310. I let other and more pedantic electronic centered product review sites like techradar.com put me off other models. The HTC was android, PAYG and Vodafone so need to worry about switching networks and numbers.
The android operating system looks more like the ubiquitous Windows PC operating system than the actual windowsphone operating system looks like a windows operating system. Part of my review will be comparing the two. Actually I quite like the simplicity of the windowsphone square stacking Jenga but not happy when that tower all falls down. If you imagine WindowsXP in a 4.5 inch by 2 inch space then that’s android on your phone. The 310 has a bigger screen than the Nokia 520 and another reason I bought this model. I’m not interested in the bigger screen showing off as I want the phone to remain a portable phone that fits in my pocket and not obvious for villains. The bigger they are the more likely to fall out off your pocket - and into somebody else’s.
Setting up the 310 from out of the box is quite awkward as you don’t get very good instructions on how to put the simcard in and deal with the padlock symbol when the phone is up and running. This model uses the larger simcard and you have to slide it under a metal bracket thing quite forcefully, not detailed in the instructions. My last phone had the smaller smart sim on it and so no transfer credit options. I wasn’t expecting the biggest sim size in this.
The phone shows you the battery charge screen on first boot so best get it up to 100% first to be on the safe side. The battery is larger than the Nokia 520 and so a heavier phone all around. Once you have the start screen you need to drag up the screen to the padlock symbol and it takes you to your google search. Its really awkward and no instructions how to do that in the box either. I decided to use a YouTube tutorial to set up and explore the phone correctly. I advise you do the same with all of your technology. Mistakes on the boot up can be a problem to fix.
I purchased a magnetic clip case to go with on Amazon as the screens scratch and crack easy. The Nokia 520 had a dreadful screen removal method involving your nails to get to the battery and cracked very easily. I had to buy a new digitized screen just to send it back after it finally shattered from trying to fix it. It’s much easier and safer to get to the battery on the HTC 310 and the back clicks back nicely.
It looks nice in the hand and a good clear screen. I left the thin plastic protective film on the phone screen as it kills that irritating reflection some. It’s like those peel offs in Grand Prix racing on the drivers helmets, splattered flies replaced with smudgy fingerprints. It also helps to stop the screen cracking so may as well leave it on. Its touch screen is sensitive enough and the apps only require one click to load. The buttons on the side of the phone for on/off and volume are a little fiddly when the case is on and if you are worried about battery ‘out and about’ you need to turn it off sometimes. From what I can tell of battery use it’s pretty good on this phone and far better than the Nokia. I fully charged it last Friday and still going. It also has a slot to add a STD memory card and an earphone jack.
It feels durable in the hand, and in the case would survive a big drop. For £55 (reduced £80) it already feels like a good deal. I’m not sure why anyone would want to pay £300 for an Iphone when lower range phones do pretty much the same things. Security wise this one does have face recognition but it does warn you that people with ‘similar faces’ could get access to your phone? I know some phones have fingerprint and retina display security but that’s pointless as the thief (or your partner) need only put the sim in another phone. You can also pin protect but more messing around there.
Good virtual keyboard on this one and way better than the Nokia version. My fingers tips actually fit the tabs and don’t press two at the same time. There is a slight issue with the 4.5 inch screen in that if you look at it straight-on it’s quite bright and loses resolution but if you tilt it up the color is even brighter and if you hold it down, much richer. It’s not so noticeable with general text website just color and definition stuff. You can customize that front screen the way you do Windows PC desktop software.
Video looks great and easy flip and rotate with the wrist to adjust for how you hold the phone (YouTube is preloaded). It has the standard 5MP camera with 1080p HD images and a powerful 1.3 GHZ processor that enables you to hop around apps quickly. The drag and drop thing to get rid of apps and files is a bit tetchy. The Blinkfeed software is cool and enables you to run stuff like Facebook and Twitter on your front screen at the same time in different windows.
On the whole it does everything you ask of it and if you are not pretentious about brand and spec great value although a little pedantic on things like shutting down and which browser to use. It’s hi-res and preload apps mean you are ready to go. Once you have registered with Google (G-mail address) it’s very easy to download free apps from the Google store quickly. Also there are lots of useful Vodafone updates available from the off. There are things to mess around with in the guts of the phone like games and calculators and you can also have the Google version of ‘Cortana’ where the voice talks back to you to help with searching and using stuff online. Remember that only 25% of smartphones are windowsphones and so most apps geared towards android.
Star – Diane Lane & John Malkovich
Genre – Disney
Run Time – 123 minutes
Certificate – PG
Country – USA
Awards – 2 Wins & 6 Nominations
Amazon – £3.70 DVD (£7.27Blue Ray)
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"It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword."In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds."
If you don’t really know horseracing you won’t know Secretariat, the greatest racehorse that ever lived, or so say the Americans. It’s hard to judge their triple crown against ours, or, indeed, Ireland or anywhere else. Until this year no horse had won the fable American Triple Crown for 37 years. But American Pharaoh did exactly that by winning all three in 2015, The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness in Maryland and the Belmont Stakes in New York. American Pharaoh didn’t win all three in just four weeks to Secretariat six weeks.
Not only did Secretariat set the all-time record for the fastest time at the Kentucky Derby (1:59 2/5), each of his quarter-mile splits were faster than the preceding one, which means he was still accelerating at the end of the race. In the Belmont Stakes, both Secretariat's winning margin (31 lengths) and his winning time (2:24) still stand after 37 years. Secretariat's time in the Kentucky Derby is still the record for that race (1:59 2/5). Preakness officially changed the time for Secretariat's run to 1:53. Secretariat now owns the fastest times for all 3 Triple Crown races.
So with such a wonder horse from American history there has to be a Disney movie about it at some point. We had the film Phar Lap from Australia and Sea Biscuit from America on similar equine triumphs and so inevitable we have Secretariat. Problem is something is always lost in translation in sports movies, especially animal ones, and the case for all three here. I think deep down the audience understands the racing business, ultimately, doesn’t really care about a horse once it stops racing and so lose our sympathies, too, Kauto Star the latest to realize that if you are injured and ain’t going to make the stable any money because the operation costs so much, even as a show jumper, it’s the knackers yard for you. I wonder how many greats have ended up as Sainsbury’s sausages over the years?
• Diane Lane as Penny Chenery
• John Malkovich as Lucien Laurin
• Otto Thorwarth as Ron Turcotte
• Margo Martindale as Elizabeth Hamm
• Amanda Michalka as Kate Tweedy
• Graham McTavish as Earl Jansen
• Kevin Connolly as Bill Nack
• Carissa Capobianco as Sarah Tweedy
• Drew Roy as Seth Hancock
• Scott Glenn as Christopher Chenery
• James Cromwell as Ogden Phipps
• Nelsan Ellis as Eddie Sweat
• Dylan Walsh as John Tweedy
• Fred Dalton Thompson as Bull Hancock
• Eric Lange as Ed Beyer
• Dylan Baker as Hollis B. Chenery
• Penny Chenery made a cameo appearance during the final race
It’s 1969 and respected and retired trainer Hollis B. Chenery (Dylan Baker) has dementia and his trainer wife has just died. At the funeral the grandchildren and their lawyer think its best to sell the farm and stable to clear the debts. Head trainer Ed Beyer (Eric Lange) has been taking advantage of Hollis and his dementia by selling the Chenery’s best horses cheap to the family’s biggest rival stable where he also works. Hollis daughter Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) has discovered this and quickly fires him. She knows horses and the business and decides to run the yard from now on, much to the disapproval of those around her.
Hollis had made a deal with leading trainer Ogden Phipps (James Cromwell) to bread Ogden’s best stallion with Hollis two best mares, resulting in two foals. Penny honors’ the deal and they flip for it as Phipps wins and chooses the younger Hasty Matilda and Penny gets Secretariat, the older horse but likely to have more staying power. Now she needs a trainer, crackpot French trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich) recommended to her, who eventually agrees when he learns the horse’s impressive pedigree.
Due to its lineage there is expectation at its first race but it tails in third, the young jockey not up to it, fuel for those who say racing is not a woman’s place. Penny and Lucien decide on rough house and experienced jockey Ron Turcotte (Otto Thorwarth) instead and the results start to happen, Secretariat winning its next three races. Her stable lad Eddie Sweat (Nelsan Ellis) knows this horse is very special and the Kentucky Derby is his next challenge as the media attention builds. The question is that it if wins the race can they hold on to it as the stable debts rise?
We all know people who like family Disney movies tend not to go racing at Uttoxeter for a three race bumper in mid January and so an audience they wont be getting. They don’t really give a stuff about the horse unless it wins. There is no emotional connection to the sport. Young girls who like ponies tend to watch Black Beauty returns but that’s about it. For some reason champion horse race movies never quite work. That’s why it’s always difficult to pitch sports films to studio execs, why the Aldernitti movie was a surprise hit for me. Disney, of course, only makes films one way and this one far too clunky, family friendly and cute to be thrilling, not one single swear word in it. The director had obviously not been to the track of late.
The acting is as safe as the script and only Diane Lane brings anything extra to the performance as the determined and feisty Penny Chenery. The real Mrs Chenery is alive and well and briefly cameos in the movie although know where near as beautiful as the actress who plays her. We have not heard her comments on the movie. Malkovich, on the other hand, plays yet another loveable eccentric with a remarkably English accent for a French national trainer. But you gotta love him. Everyone else in the film you won’t have heard of and so Malkovich left alone with his bib to much away at the scenery.
It cost $35 million to make and did $60 million back and so relatively good business for an ok sports film. I think the problem with this to an America audience is they already know an often told story and so expected more whereas we don’t know the story and so got less from it. It’s interesting to learn about the horse’s feat and the record Secretariat broke that still stands to date (wining the Belmont by 31 lengths particularly astonishing) but the film does take liberties to increase the jeopardy and excitement. It makes no mention of Riva Ridge, a Chenery-owned horse that had won the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont, and helped keep the Chenery farm afloat during the rise of Secretariat. If the time line was real in the movie then Chenery says she would have sold Secretariat to make the bills. Too much was tweaked to make what is an interesting story rather dull.
The major disappointment for me is Disney seem to have lost the knack to make the inspirational family movies they used to do. The last decent one I saw was Mark Wahlberg in ‘Invincible’, about a local kid who tries put for an NFL team on trial day for the general public and unexpectedly gets picked. Secretariat can’t make the horse the star as it’s a dumb animal so we go with the emancipated Mrs Chenery to tell the tale. But the American public is not stupid and knows there is no adversity here and the Chenery extremely rich and successful with or without Secreteriat…
Imdb.com – 7.2/10.0 (19,546votes)
Rottentomatos.com –64% critic’s approval
Metacriitc.com – % critic’s approval
The Guardians –‘Just when we thought John Malkovich didn't have another semi-intentionally deranged performance left in him, he has come storming back with another uproarious turn...’
What Culture –‘Secretariat is clichéd, unrealistic and predictable, but it will make you feel good’.
The Mail –‘a safe, enjoyable movie that can be watched by yourself, on a date or at your mother's house after Sunday dinner’
Time out –‘This horsey, 1970s-set Disney film doesn't boast the most imaginative script and is too long and businesslike for youngsters -- yet it still produces a lump in the throat’.
Empire Magazine –‘Despite a decent performance from Lane as the homespun trainer, Secretariat is more blind alley than Blind Side’.
Little White Lies –‘This tale of wealth, horse-breeding and good old Christian faith is just about as hammy as a study of commodified horse sex can be’.
Film 4 –‘Bum-numbingly long bore that has a worrying number of talented actors seemingly involved for a cheque. Watch a film about dinosaurs instead; much more fun’.
Whatsapp is one of many free messengers online that you can chat and send photos to each other on, as long as they are on whatsapp. It pitches itself as ‘simple online messaging’. These apps are the main reason mobile phone networks offer unlimited texts now with contract phones and PAYG bundles. For some reason Microsoft got rid of their MSN messenger service just as smartphone use was accelerating and merged it with Skype and so Whatsapp the first to fill the gap. If you have, or had, a message limit on your smartphone you have one of these downloaded. There are more voice centered versions like Viber that you can actually have free phone calls on anywhere in the world, if you both have the software on your phone, but for some reason not cool. It isn’t as popular as whatsap and the likes of snapchat so you have to go to the whatsapp’s of the world to hook up with people. I don’t use it to hook up with people but it is my default online messenger service.
It’s available on all mobile platforms like windows and android phones and there are unregistered online versions you can use to replace your msn messenger on PC although Skype is fine for that. Some people want to webcam to get their clothes off so Watsapp ideal for that on your phone. You can send files, pictures, webcam and video through it. If you do pay more for picture messaging avatars and emoticons are classed as MSM picture texts on cheaper non smartphones that can run apps and so at the higher message rate.
There are no adverts on the site! The company says because they wanted to provide the consumer with a free and easy non cluttered service! Bo**ocks!!!! They have to earn to keep it going so will be selling your data on the sly. Also, it’s hard to actually attach targeted adverts to smaller app sites. The app makers have yet to crack that problem of ads on smartphones and smartphones not making any money for anyone as those calls and text become free.
It’s straight forward to load from places like Google Play and Windows Store and free of charge. Simple registration and you can have more than one account administered through your phone. If you want to be anonymous then not a problem. When has the person you speak to in a chatroom ever been the person you think you are speaking to in that chatroom? The saying goes that if you are speaking to a 45-year-old guy online then he is probably that but if you are speaking to a 15-year-old girl then you are also speaking to a 45-year-old man. Whatsapp isn’t really a chatroom like snapchat to be honest but does the job to replace MSN.
So hands up who hasn’t rated an opinion ‘Excellent’ because it’s really long and written by a respected Cioa member? I wouldn’t have 75% of my rates if that wasn’t the norm. Trust me I’m not complaining. But, as long as the better consumer reviews get roughly the correct rates then job done, right? The E debate, of course, is an age old one here and there are members who expect a reciprocal E rate so to target Diamonds. These members write three of four reviews a month and some soon on your back if you don’t rate them accordingly. I won’t name names but if you read this years diamond awards you will see some familiar names. I finally got my first diamond after 7 years here and nearly 2000 reviews after a long whining campaign to get one and realized you will never diamond unless you play by the reciprocal rules. I think its time to change those rules. On dooyoo I campaigned for the site to list crown nominations under reviews to see which influential members were was rating who. It never happened. If it had of happened it would have listed that very same reciprocal rating cartel. There must be a way to spreading diamonds more liberally here, especially for newer members. The roll-call reads like the House of Lords these days, dusty old members collecting gong after gong for services rendered.
Ciao has been in the news later, or, at least, websites like it. Apparently up to 40% of consumer reviews on some sites are fake, most of them written to order by companies in Bangladesh and India. I have noticed on dooyoo a big batch of well written reviews on the same obscure products in the same typeface popping up every week or so. Dooyoo really don’t seem to care if these reviews are professional or not and ‘bigging up’ products the reviewers have never owned or used. But as they are not plagiarized and inside the word limit they seem to stay. These fakers are paid decent money to write glowing reviews and some of you will have been emailed by them to do just that. I haven’t seen much evidence of it here as we have the photo member system but some of the SU+NU reviews clearly are spam to promote - or deface - other websites or products. For some reason Ciao wont delete those 1300 PCspecialist reviews yet dead keen deleting any well written review in the Ciao Lotto with no proof photo. If we have to show proof of ownership here then why not the transient members who write all that short crap, sometimes 30% of the reviews here? To me there is no doubt ciao are wanting two kinds of reviews on site. They want the goods reviews people read on search engines and they want the irritating 150 word churn that drives us mad to make the site look busy for those banner advertisers. The POW competition is a classic case where we do need to see proof of ownership so to award the cash. But again this rule was removed because no one was reviewing the product suggested.
United Kingdom - 49.7%
India - 8.9%
United States - 6.6%
Germany - 1.9%
Ciao have the IP details of overseas and regular spammers here but fail to act, it appears. It’s definitely time to end the 150 minim word limit. That rule is there just to encourage churn to make cioa look busy. Anyone who can’t be bothered or articulate enough to write 500 words or more should be banned. I’m fed up of trawling through crap to get to the best reviews. I get that some of those are genuine new members and will progress but most are foreign national or delinquent scrawlers. If 50% are not British based visiting here you have to wonder what the plan is. As members we have to do everything we can to warn these people they won’t be paid for 150 word churn by ciao even though it’s suggested they could. Ciao should really make that clear. I will try ‘cut n paste’ comments to ‘encourage’ longer reviews but I suspect ciao will tell me off.
===Keywords that bring traffic to ciao===
For some reason swingers are drawn to ciao. I have a few member names in mind that may be bringing those websites here…
1. Ciao - 6.72%
2. Tesco direct - 3.32%
3. Fab Swingers - 2.59%
4. Cbfsms - 2.57%
5. Halifax online banking - 2.45%
This aside the new search engine is pretty dire and not helping us to find things quickly. Before it was pretty good and at the top were the product you actually wanted and the shopping options below for the same product. Now it’s all over the place on one big page. While ciao were messing around with this they could have added a mechanism where we could ‘donk’ on products that do come up on search that are not listed as products we can write on that would activate them to write on by that action. It could be Amazon only to trial it and see how we go. It would save all of us a lot of time.
One of the great mysteries of ciao is why they hide away the suggestion tool? We still have to run our finger over the top line of the keyboard in the search engine box to get it to appear, ‘ertyuiol’ thankfully not a product yet. Yes, Querty’ is listed. It’s really odd that the link isn’t in plain sight. Next time you guys tinker with something then tinker with that!
As far as writing reviews goes I reckon 750-1000 is fine for complex products and 500 for things like food and toys. There are certain products we own that you know there isn’t much to say but we feel guilty if we only write 400 words on them, maybe a mark down to Useful. I know ciao would like us to write shorter and concise reviews, and dooyoo have forced many to, I still want to actually treat this place as a writing site.
I have only read two sports books this summer – and not the first time I have read these two books, updated biographies of Jimmy White and Kevin Pietersen. The White book is a cheap rehash with the emphasis on ‘hash’, Jimmies undisclosed love of soft drugs and cocaine deemed worthy of volume two and not exactly great for his loveable cheeky chappie image he crowned with his I’m a Celebrity Win. But Jimmy has an ego and his current form on the snooker table isn’t getting him much attention and so couldn’t resist a book deal. Kevin Pietersen, on the other hand, is just plain angry about the loss of his A-List sporting status and his treatment by the ECB to end his England career and wants revenge. He is the like the sulky lead singer in a rock band that feels he is the band and so leaves to do his solo project.
As a cricket writer of little repute I have interacted with Kev a couple of times. He is polite and to the point. Once he told me to f**k off and the other time was a snatched conversation on the boundary at the Oval about his declaration and that wasn’t much better. Me, like everyone else in cricket, is below Pietersen in his eyes. He is one of those sportsmen that knows they are good and as long as he performs in a team at the top level and helps them win matches he doesn’t feel the need to change his selfish method, attend silly team meetings and be like the rest of the guys. He reminds me of me. Team meetings are about putting you in your place. These guys need to be in a different place to perform, a place were we don’t exist. He enjoys publicly taking responsibility for losing as that makes him the most important guy in the team. He takes a perverse pleasure in that attention, sulking on the outside when he is picked on by the press for his attention seeking antics, and appears upset, but on the inside its clarification that he is the most important person in the set up. In the book he clearly marries his loss of form through his knee injury and conflicts with the England set up to England’s loss of form and eventually Ashes thumping Down Under in 2013.
The 2014 book sales were revved up some this year with new ECB Chairmen Colin Graves surprise suggestion that KPs England career may not be over and if he went away and got some runs in county cricket this year he could perhaps make The Ashes team. Pietersen immediately cancelled his IPL deal and signed for Surrey. But even that extraordinary triple hundred off the feeble Leicestershire attack wasn’t enough and the new Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss would get his sweet revenge for losing his job to KP as England captain by humiliating Pietersen in public by saying Pietersen would never play for England again. Strauss had famously been caught calling Kev a c**t’ on a live TV feed. If the stuff from this spring was covered in this book it would have been extremely spicy from Kev. But I can tell you there was never anyway back for Kevin as Cook doesn’t want him and neither does most of the England team. His injury probably halved his test average but at 34 you get injuries and few batsmen last until they are late 30s in this sport. Once you stop performing at the highest level ad you are disliked the pack will turn. The ECB and Strauss knew KP would go to war with whoever the current English coach is in pursuit of that special treatment.
The thing that narked the England players the most was his IPL contract. He was bought for 1.4m dollars in his first season and given special treatment to play there. In the book he details a test match when he was caught watching his IPL team on the TV waiting to bat and not watching the test match on the dressing room balcony. Little things like that can be interpreted in many ways. Some thought he was more loyal to the IPL than England whilst others thought it was that attention seeking stuff he was doing to draw a reaction. That’s one of very few things KP regrets in the book.
The book is not about his early days in the game or his move up the chain but straight into the last few years, his decline, but to Kev, his deliberate destruction by the ECB and those England coaches he hated. I spoke to Peter Moores at Northampton last month who was there to see his lad in the Nott’s second team and after he quickly said he never wanted KP in the team and the decision was made on high. He, to, used an expletive to describe Kev, just as Strauss did. There is a pattern here folks.
Kevin has zero time or respect for two of his England coaches in the book, ridiculing both throughout. Worse still he confronted these guys face-to-face as a player as the senior pro and so both parties soon undermining each other. Kev claimed both Flower and Moores sucked the enjoyment out of the team with tight regimes and too many rules killed team spirit and so results. Kev often tried to miss warm up games and lesser tours because of his special status he presumed he had and that made the coaches look weak to the rest of the team. Kevs idea of a team is to compete in it to achieve his often selfish objectives but not really be part of that team. As he puts it. There is an ‘I’ in team. The individual”. He wanted to be top run scorer and top hundred maker for England and beyond, that, there, is no doubt in my mind why Cook plays down his personal milestones and records. I think most top players are not really team players but appreciate that there has to be some tolerance of each and lesser players for it to work and the team to get results.
The book is full of insults about other players and the main reason there was no way back for him. This book was his tombstone and he knew that when he wrote it. He is cruel about little James Taylor and enjoyed pointing out the Nottinghamshire openers dad was a jockey. He calls captain Alistair Cook, who took over him after his unsuccessful captaincy, Ned Flanders and, of course, spent most of the book firing his main guns at Mathew Prior, who he calls the ‘Big Cheese’. He really doesn’t like this guy and certainly wasn’t going to take orders from the Vice Captain. There is also stuff about the senior clique in the dressing room of Swann, Broad and co and he calls them for bullying younger players for dropping catches and misfields. But that is part of the game and makes men out of junior players in all sports. If you don’t stand up to your teammates in a British dressing room you will have the piss ripped out of you until you leave. That ‘banter’ is really about generating team spirit by bringing players up and dragging down the bigger egos to a middle ground. I know Swanny and he can be ruthless if you don’t go along with his style of humor. It’s not a nice feeling when your ego is pricked and you publicly deflate in public like a burst whopper cushion, what Kevin always wants to avoid, his confidence totally dependent on this aloof character he has created. It’s called hubris. Players need mutual respect to function as a team. This was clearly not what makes Pietersen tick. He kept himself to himself to avoid a lot of that banter that would eventually expose him.
Summing up the book is full of paranoia, contradiction (especially around what he said in his previous book) and a vindictive piece of writing to hurt the team and country he is supposed to have loved. It’s controversial as it’s sad. You will chuckle at bits but most of this has been serialized in the newspapers so nothing new for cricket fans. I never liked the bloke and he should never have been picked for England, however good he is. The England team should be English and not rely on cherry picking guys from abroad to win matches. We can fill grounds without them .Prior and Strauss grew up in England and played against their English piers and so a fair enough to be selected. But every time a KP is picked who played all his cricket in South Africa until he was 21 and so effectively taken the place of a young English player who had come through the age group and county system here, a system set up to feed the England team, its counterproductive to the game here. Trott and Balance should also have been banned from playing for England. My rule around dual passports would be you must have been playing cricket in England from under 16 years of age for your junior years. We have seen in athletics this increasing need to steal people from other countries to the point where ten years from now half our medal winners won’t be born here. What’s the point of celebrating England winning a test series if less than half of the team are born and played junior cricket here? Those guys should be playing for their own national teams. As a Northants fan this selection policy is really hurting us as our best players leave for the bigger counties in the hope to be selected for England but England moving away from those guys making the moves and poaching abroad instead so there are fewer opportunities. Why would a talented young player go anywhere nearer Northants if he has England ambitions? That never used to be the case. Northampton born and bred David Willey is set to leave us in September because of this policy.
There is no doubt the Metropolitan Police Force get unfair stick. It’s a majority white enforcement agency policing a majority ethnic criminal class. Inevitably there is going to be friction. They are so careful and cowered around PC policing these days that they almost ground to a halt during the riots. Because of that stand back approach to policing and the fact they aren’t generally armed they have killed just three black guys in 50-years with firearms, two of them drug dealers, yet the black community is still outraged ( although it Tends to be in the smaller part of that community that needs to feel outraged). If you want to look at the corresponding figures for Chicago and Los Angeles you would be extremely happy to live in London with the MET police on the streets if you are a black guy. It’s safe here for them and the police incredibly tolerant. I’m sure some armed cops get carried away but there is simply no conspiracy to kill young black men. Its young black men who are killing young black men in London.
The London Riots around the killing of Mark Duggan were absolutely disgraceful. We have yet to hear any apologies for 2011 from ‘community leaders’. Yes, I totally get ‘stop and search’ is bloody annoying and racial profiling (so technical racist) but with 61% of gun killings, 67% of knife attacks and most muggings done by young black men ( black people twice as likely to be victims) I’m afraid this community in certain boroughs needs to be heavily policed. White Glasgow has a similar gang and knife problem and the Glasgow police, guess what, target the same amount of that particular race and social class to get results. Unless London’s black community start helping the MET rid the streets of the gangs and criminals by reporting them then the stop and search will continue. All that stuff stolen in the riot was purchased by someone. It is as simple as that. It would also help if more black people applied to be coppers. If the policing represents the community then it can’t be racially prejudice, can it? Not joining the Force because your mates and family say you are a traitor to your people attitude is nonsense. Get in there and change things guys!
Because the MET have been forced to reduce Stop and Search for politically sensitive reasons the crime rate is shooting back up again. Of the 3,924 jailed for the riots some 1,551 have reoffended with some 6000 crimes, most of those the sort of guys that get stop and searched. This isn’t rage about poverty but London’s criminal class helping themselves. The media were terrified of calling the riots what they were. The more PC the cops have to be the more crime.
Because the cops have to be in the face of the black and ethnic London community the tensions never go away. I feel sorry for both sides. Like dementia care it’s an unfixable and prejudiced problem that will never go away and no one wants to deal with. To tackle the perception the MET are “institutionally racist” what better way than a BBC documentary series that presents all the criminals as non white and angry - or that’s the way it seems. There is no doubt The BBC MET series was made on behalf of the police and not the black community. This is a TV series trying to put over just how difficult it is to police London’s ethnically diverse population. In one bit where they turn up to help a stab victim in an East London block of flats the crowd refuses to be witnesses and accuse the police of being mob handed with spittle and stones soon flying. The police are out there in numbers because of the spittle and stones. Another Turkish teenager dies for demanding ninety pounds back owed to him for a bike he bought. The boy kills the lad for the ‘disrespect’. Even the most liberal white police cadets are changed men after their first few weeks on the streets of London. ‘The people you are trying to help are at you from day one’, said one rookie. We don’t see many black cops either. We have the typical no nonsense rotund confident butch female cop doing a boy’s job and the young idealistic white upper working-lass lads in the cars. What we don’t witness are those nasty racist white cops. This is the new BBC being subjective to the Tories needs as they fear the end is nigh.
In London there is an underreported war raging between Turkish and Somali gangs over London’s heroin and cocaine supply. Class A used to come in from South America via the Caribbean and so Yardies and black Londoners the foot soldiers but now it’s coming in through Eastern Europe, via Turkey, from Afghanistan, and a billion dollar business in London. You only need look at the chaos at Calais to see more problems down the line as far as supply of foot soldiers go. These mostly twenty something guys are heading for London and most of them will end up in the black economy or around criminality. The French are just helping them on to the lorries because they know the problems caused by this hardcore coming down the line and so the lorry drivers then carry the responsibility and fined two grand per head at the port for having them in the back.
Due to Boris Johnsons crackdown on knife crime and muggings a new form of Mediterranean crime has arrived, the moped bag snatch. Any ciaosters living in London will know all about this. Young men steal scooters, put on their helmets and scoot into rich areas and rob people of their stuff or do smash and grab raids. When the police make chase, somewhat counter intuitively, the lads simply throw their helmets away so the police have to back off as the law says the chase could cause a head injury and so the police libel. We have reached that point where political correctness is helping criminality. The villains know that the younger the foot soldiers the less chance or prison sentences and arrests. 10 and 11-year-olds sent out to target the scooters for bigger boys to steal.
The series is four hour episodes and looks at various parts of the Mets policing. The Notting Hill carnival proved to be their biggest headache as the increasingly gentrified area of London is still lumbered with the traditional ethnic carnival. Not surprisingly the residents are not keen and some board up their driveways to stop drunk hipsters and skanky girls peeing in their front gardens, which they do. The police are out mob handed to extract gang members from the crowd, a good chance for rival fights and the occasional ‘shanking’. The music and food battles with fluorescent jackets and growling helicopters above. The cops want it finished as fast as possible as its very expensive to police. London’s black community just wants to party their way which involves a fog of marijuana, jerk chicken and the throb of brainless urban music.
General policing is tough and most calls are for general nuisance. Some are more serious, like the black African guy who follows and attacks Muslim women. A female detective with bleached blonde macho hair and a suit is determined to get him and thinks she is an America cop series, thumping the desk when they finally catch the fiend. I suppose if you are in a documentary you want to enjoy it and present an image of yourself. It’s great to know for Londoners there are good cops out there like her. With London’s all-seeing CCTV most villains know they will get caught soon and don’t really put up a fight. Most detective work is done from computer databases now. The Moped gang where simultaneously taken down as residents of one affluent London borough being targeted demanded action. These guys would be armed with hammers and knives and pull up beside you and demand your stuff, terrifying stuff. It’s believed one-in-eight Londoners will be a victim of street crime. A lot of the time the muggings are simply bravado acts to impress other gang members. For the victims it can ruin their lives.
There has been quite a few found-footage movies of late and some of them rather good, Cloverfield one of my favorites. Most have fed off that post 911 paranoia of the unseen threat and suggested terror and many low budget firs time filmmaker efforts, why I was surprised to see Barry ‘Rain Man’ Levison behind the camera for this one. This is an Oscar winning director messing around with B-List money and actors. This type of films appeal also married with the rise of cellphone cameras and ever intrusive CCTV footage, the all seeing eyes that scared is all to think about threats that never really exist. I loved Cloverfield because it was essentially a media monster attacking the sitcom world of Friends Manhattan that is full of hipsters and coffee drinking white yuppies. Anyone who has been to New York will know it’s very different from that. Essentially though, found footage movies are cheap to make and that’s why we have seen more of them.
Nansi Aluka ... Jaquline
Christopher Denham ... Sam
Stephen Kunken ... Dr. Abrams
Frank Deal ... Mayor Stockman
Kether Donohue ... Donna
Kristen Connolly ... Stephanie
Will Rogers ... Alex
Kimberly Campbell ... Nurse Rebecca
Clayton-Luce ... Charles
Dave Hager ... Fisher Jerry
The film opens with the explanation of the footage we are about to see, confiscated by the U.S. government until the anonymous source leaked the footage for the entire world to see. It centers on Claridge, Maryland, a small costal resort community popular with families. It’s nearly the 4th of July and the place is busy. Then, through various camera phone footage, dashboard cam and CCTV images…. we see things are going pear shaped. Somebody has been bitten in the sea by an unknown predator and another man lies dead in the street. Others start to show up at the local hospital covered in boils and lesions. Rookie local newsreader Jaq (Nansi Aluka) is the only media on the scene, an easy gig reporting on the holiday festivities, she thought, but has to step up and cover the impending chaos and disaster unfolding in front of her eyes.
Out at sea two scientists are alarmed by the levels of toxins they are finding and recording their research. But back on land the local major (Frank Deal) is not prepared to close the beach off to waders and swimmers because of the threat. ‘Toxic events’ have happened before in other towns and resorts and got away with it and so why risk his towns tourism profits the attitude.
Through the chief surgeon (Stephen Krunken) of the Claridge hospital reporting to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta through Skype we learn the unknown contagion is spreading fast and the body count rising. The CDC say they have seen similar but not moving this fast. It appears a juxtaposition of various toxins in the Ocean may be contributing to the rabid threat, the local poultry factory tipping all the chicken poo in the nearby Chesapeake Bay adding to the pollution. It appears all those toxins from various discharges have created something nasty. Through found dashboard cam footage we learn how the guy in the street died and through CCTV we see the fete of many others, but, as yet, no sign of the military and no sign of a corden as Claridge becomes a disaster zone.
I enjoyed it to a point but wasn’t that gripped by it for very long. The mix of comedy and cheesy acting as the disaster unfolds sucks some of the intended horror out of it and with no real twists and a B-Movie enemy it becomes unlikely. Once we learn the threat it falls into standard horror routine and its eco terrorism message somewhat lost. I get that dumping crap in the ocean is bad but you can’t really do a B-Movie around that unless it’s chunkier. Two scientist with white coats is not enough. And, how come there are so many unseen people and recording devices capturing every death, even underwater? The found footage method is definitely stretched to incredulity.
The movie had a big buzz around it before it surfaced and proved popular with critics as heavyweight director Levison tackled found footage with a cute and composite angle. But the audience didn’t go for it with just 43% giving it the thumbs up on rottentomatos compared to a 77% critic’s approval rate there, ending up an advert for cell phones and Go-Pro devices. Its not quite that bad but its all been done before and this would have been better as a tongue-in-cheek horror movie without the silly environmental message, perhaps the rejigged ‘Day of the Dead’ zombie film by George A Romero a better approach.
Man Bites Dog remains the best foreign found footage for me and darkly funny on a sick topic and what that the genre should be. Trollhunter was another that got it bang on as jokes are pinged off the absurd monster situations. The Spanish film Rec remains the most terrifying in the genre and Chronicle impressed as the anti superhero movie whereas Paranormal Activity was too much a parody of The Blair Witch Project that started all this. It’s always worth seeing these films but they need growing uncontrollable threat and tension to work and this doesn’t really have that.
Rottentomatos.com –77% critic’s approval
Metacriitc.com – % critic’s approval
Leonard Maltin Film Year Book –
Many say Appetite for Destruction is the greatest contemporary rock record made. It’s a great record but not the best for me. But it is exactly what heavy rock was supposed to be and very welcome after the genre went through commercial cleansing in the 1980s to sell to the masses. Rock is supposed to scare you parents and be the music of the rebel, not a mist of hair lacquer, corporate spreadsheets and the mullet, as it became by the mid 1980s. Guns bought things back to where they should be (or shouldn’t, as far as those parents were concerned) in the early 1990s as they replaced that fog of hair spray with a blizzard of cocaine and some serious acid rain. By then Bon Jovi had cut his hair, started reading the New York Post and sponsoring poverty charities, hardly rock n roll. Axel Rose just wanted to f**k, scream and do drugs, often at the same time. I recall the court trail in the late 1970s where the parents of a young man who killed himself claimed their son did it after listening to a Judas Priest record and playing it backwards and received ‘messages from the devil’. God only knows what you will hear if you play a Gun n Roses record backwards on the old vinyl!! Axel Rose was seriously naughty back in the day and a surprise he is still alive.
Its greatest song is Sweet Child of Mine, a brilliant guitar tune with Slash likewise iconic riff, a rare rock song where the riff kicks off the song and not ends it. Slash, real name Saul Hudson, was an interesting character, as enigmatic he was on stage behind those exaggerated mirrored shades. Sounding very American with a Jewish surname, he was actually born in London and grew up in Stoke, of all places. He was not Jewish and not poor, his mother a costume designer for acts like David Bowie and Duran Duran and his father designed album covers for bands like Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. This guy was born into the ultimate rock creativity, unlike Axel, who was a bought up by a child abusing, drug popping step father, and Axel’s real dad shot dead in a raid, who Axel never knew.
Axl Rose – lead vocals, piano, keyboards (1985–present)
Dizzy Reed – keyboards, piano, percussion, backing vocals (1990–present)
Tommy Stinson – bass, backing vocals (1998–present)
Chris Pitman – keyboards, backing vocals (1998–present)
Richard Fortus – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals (2002–present)
Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal – lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2006–present)
Frank Ferrer – drums (2006–present)
DJ Ashba – lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2009–present)
It was well received by critics and topped the Billboard 200 chart, selling 28 million copies to date. By September 2008, the album has been certified 18× platinum by the RIAA, making it the best-selling record released on Geffen and best-selling American debut. Apart from the brilliant Sweet Child of Mine the record is packed with hits but revered for its roar and honest rock delivery and non compromise of the NY punk scene and nu metal. This was pure angry white boy’s music. Judas Priest were the last hedonistic band to make records like that. There is no preening here or lipstick ballads and full on rock noise as the boy’s blast out 54 minutes of ballsy energy packed punk metal. We simply had not heard a record like this for ages. The Bon Jovi’s of the world were simply flushed away like the bands drugs on a police raid after Appetite arrived. Nirvana would do the same for Guns.
Welcome to the Jungle kicks things off the record and full on attitude with great guitar and then Nightrain the next notable song, more commercial than anything else on the record. Paradise City is a sing along anthem for the crowd to raise their lighters and for the girls to lift their T-Shirts to and Rocket Queen was the other single off the record. Think About You is the only ballad here and that would have been the record companies pick. Every rock record needs a ballad to draw in that female demographic. Thye always make great videos to attract the female fan more. That was extremely noticeable on Guns double album Use Your Illusion 1&2. My Michelle should have been released as a chart single for me. You get the feeling they had written a lot of material by the time their eponymous record went out.
===CD track listing===
1. "Welcome to the Jungle" Axl Rose, Slash 4:31
2. "It's So Easy" Duff McKagan, West Arkeen 3:21
3. "Nightrain" Rose, McKagan, Izzy Stradlin, Slash 4:26
4. "Out ta Get Me" Rose, Stradlin, Slash 4:20
5. "Mr. Brownstone" Stradlin, Slash 3:46
6. "Paradise City" Rose, McKagan, Stradlin, Slash 6:46
7. "My Michelle" Rose, Stradlin 3:39
8. "Think About You" Stradlin 3:50
9. "Sweet Child o' Mine" Rose, Slash, Stradlin 5:55
10. "You're Crazy" Rose, Slash, Stradlin 3:25
11. "Anything Goes" Rose, Stradlin, Chris Weber 3:25
12. "Rocket Queen" Rose, Slash, McKagan 6:13
Total length: 53:52
I do feel the band could never better this record and why there was such a long break between their difficult second album and Chinese Democracy, the Spaghetti Incident record not classed as a new music release. Chinese Democracy would be the most expensive record ever made, coming in at $14 million dollars. It’s a bit like the Stone Roses knowing they couldn’t better their first album and so simply walking away. I kind of admire that. A great record burns the best of them out.
After two cracking New Zealand tests here we have enjoyed an equally entertaining One-Day International series this month. England were dreadful in the 50 over World Cup and determined to try a new brand of cricket to bury those demons. The pure volume of Test cricket England play means they tend to prioritize the five day game mentally and so the short game is only given 75% effort. That 25 % drop is fatal in international cricket. Normally these 50 games are all rather perfunctory with England involved and they don’t really care if they win or lose, especially away from home. As long as the ground is full and the crowd singing and drinking it’s job done. Now, when a new coaching regime begins its very different, the players upping their game dramatically in pursuit of favor with the coach and sectors to tie down those lucrative Central and Incremental Contracts that effectively compensate them for not being able to enjoy the lucrative IPL in the spring. They can be in access of £300,000 for the 18 month deal and the nice life for a while thanks very much.
A home ODI series is also an opportunity for guys coming through to impress and chase those deals with that new coach, none more so than in Ashes year. Bowling is where we need more. Broad and Anderson are nailed on for The Ashes and Wood sure to make up the first three, then between Finn, Jordan, Plunkett and maybe Footitt, the likes of the Overton twins from Somerset and young Willey from Northants tested out in the ODIs to se how good they are. England are clearly looking at everyone here but I have been told that Footitt is their outside bet as the red ball pick for the first test on July 8th.
===1st match – Edgbaston (June 9th)===
===The Butler did it===
The best way to get a mind set around changing 50 over cricket for the good is to hit a record one-day international score, England’s 408-9 off the full 50 overs the highest ever by England and the highest ODI innings in this country by any team, beating their 391-4 against Bangladesh ten-years-ago. Why McCullum put them in on the flattest of pitches should be investigated. It was dominated early on by Joe Root, England captain elect, his 78 ball 104 impressive stuff, no fewer than 15 boundaries. This guy can score tons at will in both 50 and the 5-day and could well hit 10,000 test runs. But Butler stole the show, smashing 129 off just 77 balls with 18 boundaries. When he reached 100 off just 66 balls it was England’s second fastest ever ODI hundred, Butler holding the record from 65 balls. Joe Root claimed the fourth fastest hundred in the same innings. England captain Morgan making 50 would tune him up for later on. 6 of England's 7 fastest ODI hundreds have come in the last 18 months.
=== England’s Fastest ODI hundreds===
121 61 (4 sixes)JC Buttler - England v Sri Lanka (Lord's 31/05/2014)
129 66 (5 sixes)13 JC Buttler - England v New Zealand (Birmingham09/06/2015)
100* 69 (7 sixes)KP Pietersen - England v South Africa (East London09/02/2005)
104 71 (2 sixes) JE Root - England v New Zealand (Birmingham 09/06/2015)
119 72 (5 sixes) Moeen Ali - England v Sri Lanka (Colombo 26/11/2014)
113 73 (5 sixes) EJG Morgan - England v New Zealand (Nottingham 17/06/2015)
101* 74 (5 sixes) RS Bopara - England v Ireland (Malahide 03/09/2014)
100 76 (0 x 6s) ME Trescothick - England v Bangladesh (The Oval16/06/2005)
112* 77 ( 5 sixes) PD Collingwood - England v Bangladesh (Nottingham 21/06/2005)
Butler, one of the world’s best hitters, clubbed 5 mighty sixes in his 177 partnership with the returning Rashid in just 17 overs, who helped himself to 69 off 50 balls to replace fellow token British Asian spinner with a beard Moeen Ali. Trent Boult impressed with 4-55 off his 10 but resting Tim Southee let England in to that big score.
New Zealand’s reply wasn’t great and the total simply way too much, 198 all out, tumbling from 160-3 off 30 overs. The talented Ross Taylor (57) and Kane Williamson (45) looked to be building something but Rashid bamboozled them and the middle order with his full repertoire for 4-56 and that was that, Finn finishing things of with 4-35.
===The match records===
• England's biggest winning margin (210 runs) in ODIs
• Highest ODI total by England (and 10th highest of all time)
• Highest ODI total in England
• Highest ODI score by a number six batsman for England
• Most sixes scored in an ODI innings by England (14)
• Highest seventh-wicket partnership in all ODI history
• Buttler's 100 is the second-fastest in England ODI history
• He already holds the record for the fastest, scored off 61 balls
• Root's 100 is the fourth-fastest for England
===England win by 210 runs===
===2nd Match – The Oval (12th June)==
Anything you can do I can do better was the war cry from New Zealand captain McCullum as his team piled up a record 398-5 in the wide open spaces of The Kia Oval, the highest score by any visiting team. The captain smashed 39 off 22 balls to set the frantic tempo with Guptill’s run a ball 50 keeping it all going to bring up the hundred before Kane Williamson stroked 93 off 88 balls before Ross Taylor (119) played one of the most elegant hundreds of the season off 96 balls with 4 sixes, Ronchi’s 33 off 16 balls with 5 boundaries almost brining up the 400. The England bowling was ugly and they all went to the ropes for 63 boundaries.
England’s reply was much better than New Zealand’s in the first match and up with the rate at half-way. Jason Roy (39) and Hales (54) put a hundred on the board before captain Morgan (88) took it on with various cameos alongside to 275-6. Rashid (34) and Plunkett (44) accelerated things for an unlikely victory but a rain break skewed the DL equation and that was that for 365 all out, the highest match ODI run aggregate score in England.
===More records tumble at The Oval===
763 runs - the highest match aggregate in an ODI in England, and the third-highest overall
398-5 - the highest ODI total at the Oval and highest against England
53 - New Zealand scored the most boundaries in an innings in England
191 - England recorded the highest 25-over score in a 50-over ODI since 2001
===New Zealand win by 13 runs on the D/L===
===Ageas Bowl – Southampton (June 14th)===
England hit first and again looking on for a big score on a flat pitch. What constitutes entertainment for the type of fans who go to an England one-day game are runs and big hits. You feel for the bowlers these days as the ropes and fielders are pulled in with bias rules. Roy and Hales went cheaply but Root (54) and Morgan (71) took it on with a hundred partnership before Stokes accelerated things in pursuit of 300 with a brutal 68. But England collapsed on the slog and only Billings with 38 could post a score of note in the tail as the last 5 wickets went for 14 runs. 302 all out off 45.2 overs was a muck-up with Southee’s 3-44 the bowling of the series so far.
New Zealand are a brilliant one-day side and this total would not prove a problem. After they also lost their first two cheap to good swing bowling from new boy David Willey there would be a hundred each for Williamson (118) and Taylor (110) in a scintillating and record 206 3rd wicket – and any wicket – partnership in a NZ ODI. 242-2 off 37 overs left them plenty of space to get over the line on 306-7 off 49 overs for a tighter victory than it should have been. I’m pleased for Northants player David Willey (3-69) as I have always encouraged him he would play for England and although he has no real time for me because I criticize some of his team mates in the local rag at least I was right on that one. He should have had five wickets in the match if catches were taken. He bowls 80mph but a real winner the way Botham was and makes the most of what he has. But can he hit it!
===New Zealand win by 3 wickets===
===4th Match – Trentbridge (June17th)
New Zealand set another record as they piled up three hundred for their third consecutive ODI. Guptill (53) and McCullum 35 blasted 85 in 10 overs to get the ball flying before in-form Williamson made 90 off 70 balls with 13 boundaries, the fifth fastest player to 3000 runs in ODI history. Taylor bought up the 200 in the 37th with his 42 and Elliot with 55* guided the score past 300 with a violent 44 from Santer off just 19 balls to set England 350 off the 50. David Willey came in for some tap for 2-89 with Wood’s 1-49 off ten the best bowling on offer. Rashid conceded 28 off the 47th over, the second most expensive ever by an England bowler, Stephen Finn going for 29 against the same opponents in this winters World Cup.
England’s reply was almost perfect. Roy (38) and Hales (67) smashed 100 for the first wicket in just ten overs with 15 boundaries and then Root and Morgan helped themselves to a hundred each in a 198 run partnership to set up the 7 wicket slaughter, needing just 44 overs to do it at 350-7. To put this insane series of games in context England’s previous best chase was 306-5 in Pakistan in 2000. It was England’s highest ever ODI run chase and the second highest in ALL ODI cricket and England’s fourth straight 300 plus run innings, seven of the eight in the series so far being over 300. It’s going to take sometime for the bowlers to recover from this series! Southee and Boult went for 144 off their 18 overs. England's previous highest aggregate number of runs scored in a five-match series was 1,399. They already have 1,425 with a game to spare.
===Match 5 – Durham (20th June)===
This would be first match of the five that didn’t see 300 runs scored in an innings as the two teams started to show fatigue after their extravagant and intense cricket. NZ managed ‘just’ 283 on a slower pitch with Guptill (67) and Williamson (50) again the main scorers to sit at 150-2 off 25 overs. But the hundreds didn’t come as Taylor (47) and Elliot (35) ran up the 250 and a rapid 39* from Wheeler closed the innings on 283-9 off the 50 overs. Stokes posted the best numbers on 3-53 and more good stuff from our David Willey with 2-50.
Rain arrived at the interval leaving a revised target of 192 off 27 overs. It would be a good test with a Twenty20 international to come between the two but England soon in trouble as they struggled with the right tempo, 45-5 of 6 overs. So enter yet another Yorkshireman in the England side, Jonny Bairstow in for the injured Joss Butler taking control to steal the match with a powerful unbeaten 83 with great support from Sam Billings with 41. Their 80 partnership leveled the match and Bairstow took England to a well deserved 3-2 series win at 192-7. New Zealand pulling in Sam Mathieson from club cricket proved fatal as his 4 overs went for 40 and little experience in the situation as Bairstow stole the series….
===Yet more records in the series===
England score highest run total by a team in a five-match series - 1,617
Most boundaries from both sides in a five-match series - 390
England score most boundaries in a five-match series by any team - 209
First time a combined 3,000 runs is surpassed in a five-match series - 3,151
New Zealand score their highest total of runs in a five-match series - 1,534
===England win by 3 wickets and the series 3-2===
As flat as the pitches were English cricket needed this thriller and now thye go into The Ashes in good shape. Australia have just beaten West Indies 2-0 in the Caribbean and also tuned up sweet. This is going to be a fabulous Ashes folks!
Rock music belongs to rock fans and we get kind of narked when a genre ignored by playlist mainstream radio over the last five decades suddenly play a classic rock track to death because it’s on a TV show, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ an example of. Journey was - and are - a fabulous soft rock band but would never get airplay on British radio because of various silly prejudices. The whole scene was totally ignored, even though it was the second top selling music genre of the last century on CD and tape cassette. That meant a lot of great music never left American shores and lot of British rock bands like Def Leopard and Whitesnake had to go there to get famous. I know what you are thinking. Rock and metal is for Beavis & Buttheads and not for you. That may well be the case, and in the flyover states in America, but when a big redbrick university researched the types of music listened to by I.Q, rock music came out third behind indie and Jazz as the genre listened to by the more intelligent. I was surprised at that too. Maybe it’s because rebels like rock and rebels are smarter. Yes, Journey fans are smarter than Beyonce fans. You will not be surprised to learn that the dumbest people out there listen to ‘Drum n Bass’. I think you have all seen and heard the irritating chav playing it super loud on his cell phone.
‘Don’t Stop Believing’ is not on this album but Raised on Radio still my favorite Journey album of the seven I have had on vinyl. Its very West Coast Rock FM radio friendly stuff and what the Americans call AOR (Adult Orientated Rock), almost evangelic in its delivery with searing guitar riffs from Neil Schon and rather synth heavy to marry with Steve Perry’s alto voice. It had a revised band line up and the only Journey album to have bass players Randy Jackson and Bob Glaubb and drummer Larrie Londin on a Journey record. Lead singer Perry decided to fire long term members Ross Valory and Steve Smith just before this one was cut. It feels different and more commercial to previous Journey albums, and not detrimental in my opinion.
It spawned four top 40 singles in the US: "Girl Can't Help It" (No. 17), "Be Good to Yourself" (No. 9), "I'll Be Alright Without You" (No. 14), and "Suzanne" (No. 17). It went to No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart, and it was certified double platinum in the USA. In the United Kingdom it barely registered anywhere. Those seedy Radio One DJs were far more interested in other stuff in the 1980s.
The cover of the album was modeled after the studios and antennas of KNGS radio station in Hanford, California, which was owned by Perry's parents, Ray and Mary Perry. Even in the 1980s you need to know people to make it in the business and get your stuff heard. 40% of current British musicians in the album charts went to private school, middle of the road music more middle-class than ever. In America anyone can make a record, however pretty or musical you are, hence Kiss having 40 hits!
8. "I'll Be Alright Without You" 4:49
9. "It Could Have Been You" 3:37
10. "The Eyes of a Woman" 4:32
11. "Why Can't This Night Go on Forever" (Perry, Cain) 3:43
There are some average tracks here but all very similar in tempo and style with that distinctive Journey sound cranked up a notch. When they happens it all blurs into one for the better. Perry is not a screamer and unique in the way he can blast out the high pitched notes without sounding like a shrill female football commentator. Journey are classed as classic rock but not for me. I can’t see the people who like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath liking Journey, as I don’t like those bands much. Journey wee top end commercial soft rock geared towards radio play and so a little cheesy on the lyrics, as all rock music is. But rock fans know no one really listen to the lyrics and so it’s all in the tune. There are some sickly ballads on this one but that’s all part of the vinyl experience back then as record companies like rock bands to have female fans too. And what pretty girl back then didn’t want Jon Bon Jovi seeking their love and affection in his songs? Like most famous stand up comedians, most rock stars don’t write or own their material and simply perform other people’s words, their looks able to get the message across.
Some of the tracks are high tempo leading up to the perfunctory riff whilst others are obvious album tracks to complete the 40 minutes of music on the record. To me it’s like being in church and rock is my requiem. They say you don’t find you music but your music finds you and resonates in your soul. Radio or not the greatest band in the world but certainly epitomize American rock radio for a large West Coast audience.
Amazon is now part of the very fabric of the retail experience and we shop there with confidence now. We know Amazon prices are competitive rather than the best around these days and the postage & packaging on top for orders below £20 means you could buy most of this stuff on the high street for the same price, if not cheaper. But the fact we are used to trusting Amazon and they have our credit card digits we just keep spending there. Rather surprisingly, even though it generated $14 billion dollars sales world-wide it doesn’t make much profit, and when it does, it tends not to want to pay any tax on it. It does try to run at a loss in various countries so to avoid that tax though. Amazon income in the U.K. is around £3 billion pounds a year but because all sales go through their Luxembourg office they generate just £147 million profit in the U.K. They basically don’t want to pay tax here because they employ lots of people in the U.K and know the government back off collecting it because of.
Amazon accounts for around 14% of all online retail visits in the U.K., Ebay the highest with 19%. But it accounts for 23% of all entertainment & electrical sales and the biggest reason that physical retail sector has been wiped out in our town centers. You have to track down your local Argos or walk to the out of town retail centers to buy a camera or computer these days. Without a car you are stuffed. Why not have it delivered free from Amazon is the answer. If you are poor and don’t have a debit or credit card I’m afraid you still have to buy your washing machine in cash and carry it on to the bus as Amazon don’t accept cheques and cash anymore.
Recently that free postage for orders over £10 moved up to £20 and that simply pushed up the prices of popular smaller gifts and orders and put people off. Amazon obviously hopes you buy another item to go above the £20 limit. Buying a new CD or DVD for £9.99 plus £2.75 Royal Mail postage isn’t worth it. Tesco’s entertainment sales surged once Amazon moved to £20 pound. I am primarily a gift voucher user on Amazon through online surveys and work so not too bothered about that. But if I was paying monthly interest on a credit card on Amazon purchases the goods would work out expensive in the long run and Amazon no value at all.
You can buy pretty much anything on Amazon these days and with clever algorithms and search facilities break down the brands, tech and price to your needs. I’m currently looking for a new smartphone after my Nokia 520 froze up for good and the search box enables me to narrow down to around 10 PAYG phones in my price and technology range. And that brings me to their refunds policy which is surprisingly polite. I bought this phone in July 2014 from Amazon retail and well passed its return policy in June 2015. But I tactically used the online Amazon help chat and explained the problem and asked where my nearest Nokia repair center is. But the Indian guy gave me the return label postage in my Amazon email bit for a full refund straight away. I was surprised to say the least as you expect corporations to block you all the way. Before you ask I went through all possible methods to fix it, including soft reset, hard reset and removing batteries and fitting a new digitizer screen. I have packed it up and sent it back with the printed off supplied paperwork and free postage barcode and expect £55 to be credited in my Amazon account soon. Maybe because I am a good customer they did the refund or maybe it was because it would be more hassle to all to fix the phone. Some companies will refuse returns and so refunds as they say things that could leak that they sent you in the post could leak on the return?
It was the same deal for refunds with Amazon Marketplace last month, which I also buy from, the shadow secondhand site on Amazon. I accidentally sat on my portable DAB player and wrecked the LED screen so it couldn’t tune channels. I emailed the private seller/company with a story about the screen packing up well outside the two week refund slot and they also gave me the full refund. It seems the sellers like the platform and can make a profit after Amazon take their cut. In return I bought the same item again from the same people for the same price. Both Amazon and Marketplace appreciate the need for good customer grace to keep you spending. Some of the deals on Marketplace are really good and car boot prices. You can get older popular box sets not seen on regular TV here like Entourage and Prison Break for less than a quid.
Amazons real value is for people who don’t like high street shopping and perhaps live out in the sticks or old or inform. The postie can deliver to your house, work or the local named drop off-point and you get your goods quickly. Sometimes Marketplace traders are third party types and thye don’t have the goods when you order and so you do have to wait longer. But if you order directly from Amazon they tend to be rapid. If packages are tracked you can sometimes follow their journey to your home. They will drop the packages next door without asking though.
On the whole the Amazon experience has been positive with me. I have always been able to return items for a refund and spent that money with ease on site, be it credit card (my new TV) or gift vouchers. Selection of products is good and rarely out of stock of popular items. Their buyers have got the supply and demand and range down to a tee. The big discounts and sale stuff comes from knowing when to move older kit on. Now is the time to buy a smartphone if you have not yet made the move.
The negatives are it’s yet another corporation destroying the town centers and high streets with unfair buying power and tax avoidance policy. Small businesses simply can’t compete and go must. Once you hand over your credit card numbers to online sites you are more likely to spend there. It’s easy in the comfort of your own home with a glass of plonk or can of beer in your hand to spend away, especially for single men and women living alone. Another negative is Amazon broad range tends to deter you from buying form other websites that may well offer you better niche deals. One thing is for sure. Amazon and the new mail order isn’t going away any day soon. It won’t be long before your neighbor is complaining that your Amazon drone delivery has landed in the wrong drive and waking the baby up.
Star – Wentworth Miller
Genre – Crime Drama TV
Run Time – minutes
Certificate – 15
Country – USA
Amazon – £9.00 DVD (£31.46Blue Ray)
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So, after starting Prison Break: Season 2 before watching season 1: part 2 after mistakenly thinking the Season 1 disc of 12 episodes I had was the only season 1, I have finally seen season 2, and it was quite a marathon. It’s the longest box-set I have ever endured, no less than 24 x 50 minute episodes (an hour with commercials). That is a lot of TV for the summer but with no summer in sight then it didn’t take long to blast through it.
Whereas Season One was smart, sexy and entertaining TV with no expense spared with a beautiful cast and a great idea, Season Two seems rudderless away from prison life routine. Because of the success the first season had the writers were clearly under pressure to drag out the cash cow by stretching the on the run season to more than one box set. I believe there are two more seasons to come after this one. Even Breaking Bad had to suffer the networks greed by having a sixth season.
If you haven’t seen Prison Break the basic concept is super cool and handsome Michael Schofield (Wentworth Miller) gets himself sent to a high security prison so to bust his brother Lincoln Burrows out, who is facing the death sentence there. All appeals have failed and Michael knows ‘Linc’ has been set up for the murder of the Vice Presidents brother and determined to free him. Schofield just so happens to be an architect and his company designed the prison. Michael plans the intricate escape down to the last nut and bolt. In fact it mirrors a real prison break in New Jersey State quite recently and I am surprised the media didn’t pick up on the obvious connection.
• Dominic Purcell as Lincoln Burrows
• Wentworth Miller as Michael Scofield
• Robin Tunney as Veronica Donovan
• Amaury Nolasco as Fernando Sucre
• Marshall Allman as L.J. Burrows
• Wade Williams as Captain Brad Bellick
• Paul Adelstein as Secret Service Agent Paul Kellerman
• Robert Knepper as Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell
• Rockmond Dunbar as Benjamin Miles "C-Note" Franklin
• Sarah Wayne Callies as Dr. Sara Tancredi
• William Fichtner as FBI Special Agent Alexander Mahone
• Jason Davis as FBI Agent Wheeler
• Reggie Lee as Agent Bill Kim
• Barbara Eve Harris as FBI Agent Felicia Lang
• Matt DeCaro as Roy Geary
• Lane Garrison as David "Tweener" Apolskis
• John Heard as Governor Frank Tancredi
• Silas Weir Mitchell as Charles "Haywire" Patoshik
• Anthony Denison as Aldo Burrows
• Stacy Keach as Warden Henry Pope
• Jeff Perry as Terrence Steadman
• Peter Stormare as John Abruzzi
• Patricia Wettig as President Caroline Reynolds
• Joseph Nunez as Manche ‘fastfood’ Sanchez
Burrows (Dominic Purcell) and Schofield (Wentworth Miller) have finally escaped Fox River Prison, delayed two weeks after a late change of plan, and three more runners unfortunately added to the escape roster late on, David "Tweener" Apolskis (Lane Garrison), psycho Charles "Haywire" Patoshik (Silas Weir) and the rather chubby Sanchez (Joseph Nunez).
The alarms sound and they are soon on the run under the Illinois night sky to the chorus of barking dogs and wailing sirens. Fox River governor Henry Pope (Stacy Keach) is seething and dispatched the guards to bring the Fox River 8 back, dead or alive, sadistic head guard Brad Bellick (Wade Williams) mad as hell and his shotgun cocked.
The plan for the Burrows boys is as detailed outside the prison as in, hoping to board a private plane to Panama, why mid level mobster John Abruzzi (Peter Stormare) has been invited on the escape committee. When that fails the guys split up to go their own way, some willingly, some not. Schofield’s cellmate Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) is off to meet his girl and plans a new life in Mexico whilst gangbanger Miles "C-Note" Franklin (Rockmond Dunbar) is off to scoop up his young family, unsure of their fete. Sociopathic sex fiend Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell (Robert Knepper) is not welcome and soon on his own, as are Tweener and Haywire.
Just before they broke out 4 of the Fox River 8 learn from one of the inmates that there is five million dollars buried in a hole somewhere in dusty Idaho, a cash amount that could set the runners up for life. But cons are cons and they want the money for themselves, enough clues for at least five of them to be on the trail of the cash. Someone else who is keen on the swag is Bellick, prison guard wages not that high, soon bounty hunting with fellow Fox River guard Roy Geary (Matt DeCaro) as his wingman, money they can keep all to themselves if they get their first in the treasure hunt.
On top of all this is the biggest threat of all, the high level conspiracy that actually got Burrows locked up in the first place, a shadowy big business secret organization called The Company, which has fingers in every pie, however high up the chain. They want the Fox River 8 dead, especially the Burrows boys, who may hold secrets that can bring down The Company that goes right to the top. They have deployed ruthless Secret Service Agent Paul Kellerman (Paul Adelstein) to do just that. Also on the FR8 tail is FBI Special Agent Alexander Mahone (William Fichtner), a rather intelligent individual who enjoys the chase and more than a match for the likewise Schofield and his escape plan to Panama. Can the boys reveal the truth about the conspiracy or will fete intervene…
I really enjoyed the first series as Schofield sophisticated plan came together to bust out of jail. He is Tim ‘Andy Defraine’ Roberts from Shawshank in all but name here and who didn’t enjoy that movie. After a while Schofield’s plan to escape jail does stretch credibility and you do shake your head sometimes but you still stay with it as its great at keeping the tension high with those cliffhangers every episode finish. That’s not easy and no surprise some of them are unlikely. But for series two, free of the prisons claustrophobic tension and suspicion, it doesn’t work as well as the designer stubble boy’s race across America to the cash. They don’t grow beards or wear disguises due to television reasons so that unrealistic and so not surprisingly they get recognized every ten minutes. But actors are extremely vain and writers don’t like them to wear sunglasses and raincoats every scene. There are plenty of women out there that are very happy to gaze into the Burrows boys eyes, I can tell you. Wentworth Miller is impossibly handsome.
The series suffers as the runners are sidetracked by chasing the money, a plot mechanism that simply enables more and more of those cliffhangers to stretch and stretch the series out, incredulous at times. As I say, 24 episodes of the cops and FBI constantly having run in’s with the escapes silly at times. But Americans love this glitzy expensive dramatic TV and box-sets will keep coming if the audience keep tuning in. But what started out as a really cool idea for a TV series with a solid cast of characters and ideas has turned into bog standard US TV drama. I am pondering whether to bother with season three now as it has got so silly and far fetched. Pretty much every episode one of them gets caught and then escapes and the police and FBI made to look ridiculously incompetent. Its just not remotely realistic anymore, its original attraction.
So ‘Jackpot (2011)’, the film version of popular Norwegian crimewriter JO Nesbo’s book ‘Arme Riddere (2007)’, yet another Scandinavian pulp writer making a ton of cash dramatizing criminals and deceit with a twist of comedy for a mostly female readership, the creator of the Headhunters books agreeing for yet another one of his books to be carved up into a movie. To be fair he writes his stuff to be movies so no great stretch. With a dash of Coen Brothers and a whiff of Tarantino its populists stuff here. I don’t know why women love crime fiction so much but apparently they buy most of it. What they don’t do is buy the subtitles movies of the books, why the film took just £65,000 here.
It’s the present day as the film explodes onto our screens with a gruesome shootout in a seedy strip club in a rural Norwegian suburb. The last man standing is the rather ordinary Oscar Svendson (Kyrre Hellum), a community worker from Tromso. The cops arrive at the blood splattered scene with Oscar holding a shotgun, the only living suspect.
In the police station he is questioned by the somewhat gregarious Detective Solør (Henrik Mestad), who attempts to peace together what happened. His methods are unorthodox but non violent as Oscar slowly peels back the layers of the story of how a 10 stone community worker ended up underneath ten stiffs with a bag full of money.
Oscar is more than willing to tell as Solor applies his interrogation skills and quickly learns his suspect works with his best friend Thor (Mads Ousdal) for a project that provides jobs for ex convicts, currently making plastic Christmas trees for the coming holidays. It seems Oscar was persuaded to join the football pool at work and it came up, a jackpot of 1.7 million Kronas no less after Rosenborg draw late on with a header.
The two other syndicate members, Billy (Arthur Berning) and Treschow (Andreas Cappelen) are ex cons and need Oscar to cash it in. But it’s not long before the cons get greedy and one of them ends up dead at the celebration party at Oscars flat. Now planning to split it three ways the innocent Oscar is now implicated as they set about disposing of Billy’s body in the flat, the tool box the chosen method.
Hearing a rumpus from below, landlord FGjedde (ridtjov Såheim) comes up to investigate, his normally mild mannered tenant smeared in blood only just able to talk himself out of trouble. But if the money can be split three ways then it can be split two ways and with Thor owing local mobster Peter Lasse (Andersson) big money it looks like either Oscar or Trescho are next for the claw hammer.
Like Headunters and stuff like the Stig Larsson ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ trilogy these Scandinavian films don’t quite transfer to film, especially if they are dubbed like Headhunters was. I suspect the book text is far more gruesome and the conservative Scandies are uncomfortable putting that up on screen. Director Magnus Martens has tried to make it more appealing to a bigger audience by ramping up the comedy writing and situations, which there are plenty with a headless corpse around. There are genuinely funny bits here and Henrik Mestad as Detective Solør almost stealing the movie with his eclectic detective trying to be PC with young Oscar.
The story is very much nonlinear in the Tarantino style and the director admits he sets out to pay homage to the Coen boys in his movie style delivery; very much Fargo meets True Romance. The narrative is sturdy and efficient like the Volvo the boy’s race around Norway in (with the bloody headlights always on!) and the slapstick farce always engaging as it draws towards its unknown conclusion. There is always the chance of the big twist as you are led down one garden path with many more garden paths nearby.
On the whole I enjoyed the film and I would ignore the critics who say the sandwich doesn’t have enough filling. I’m sure something is lost in translation but it’s funny, quirky and morose in that Scandinavian way and you will be entertained. The subtitles are not too severe and the characters well rounded to earn your sympathies and I think you should give this one a go if you have it on demand or you like quirky foreign movies – or one of those naughty ladies who enjoy Nordic crime fiction when the hubby is asleep. Just think how many of those female partners are plotting to dissolve our bodies in a bath of acid boys.
Last year Bear Grylls was accused of sexism for only having men on his reality show The Island, where a ‘selection’ of guys of all ages agreed to be dumped on a small tropical island in the middle of nowhere with a limited amount of water and wildlife to try and survive a month. It quickly became clear half the guys worked for Grylls and had survival skills and the whole thing a farce and the television company not about to let anyone die of starvation on national TV for insurance reasons. This year they had a women’s and mans island to level things up and the women were, indeed, pretty useless, soon arguing, bitching, emaciated and dehydrated and unable to get on and organize. This was the first time in history a woman was moaning about losing weight. Not surprisingly all the women’s groups that were up in arms over the first series were very quiet this time around. The guys just cracked on with it and one or two wimps picked for that reason soon straightened out by the alpha males. So I wont be taking Bear Grylls to my island as he is a TV fake of the biggest order but I’m sure one of two of our ciao ladies would like to be left alone with him with his chopper and help with his rubbing stick!
I would like to take ciao member moistbabe onto my island but she is married and has a new pussy cat she loves too much not to look after so I will wait on that one. Little Charlie is cuter than the devil and keeps down the mouse population so already more useful than me. So the first ‘thing’ I would take onto the island would be Tony Blair. Firstly it would keep him away from you lot and causing more chaos and death in the Middle East and extremely rewarding for us all to stop him counting his money, raking in £70 million since he left parliament, most of that in the Middle East from the oil & gas industry he rejuvenated with the invasion of Iraq. Only last week he asked for a £325,000 fee ‘to speak’ at a ‘famine’ charity event although he did ask for ‘most’ of the fee to go to his ‘wifes’ charity. This is a despicable man. We all now know the Iraq War was illegal and disgusting and we also know Bush and Blair are ‘too white’ to face war crimes. Blair may think his legacy is the minimum wage and saving the NHS but in fact it’s ISIS, the most murderous cult since the Nazis, filling the void left by the removal of Saddam Hussein, who was doing a rather good job of keeping that place under control. With Blair on my island he would no doubt attempt to sell that sand to those Arabs. His narcissism and contempt for Muslim people may come from his pseudo religious beliefs and loyalty to that Conservative Judaism-Catholic alliance or simply a man unable to confront events from his ambiguous childhood (if you like conspiracy theories Google ‘Blair, Miranda, fined in Bow Street magistrate’s court) and wanting to take it out on someone else, the way short angry working-class blokes do down the pub.
Next would be Kate McCann, not only because she is fit and looks good in a bikini but because she holds a secret we seriously want to know. What happened to Maddy? I’m writing a screenplay about this type of mystery and she would be ideal to talk to. It was one of those polarized news stories that bought out the best of us and the worse of us. It’s pretty obvious that 'some' SIDS and child abductions are masked parental murder and the cot death thing came about as we are uncomfortable in charging mums with infanticide, a terrible crime. But in the animal kingdom it’s normal to kill your young and we are part of that evolution. 80% of SIDS happen in working-class families and most of those where the mom is young, poor, single, smokes, drinks and on prescription drugs, and often depressed. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the consistencies in a young child’s death are rarely the health of the baby. Still to this day we are most likely to be murdered in the first year of our lives. Because so few child abductions and infanticides happen in middle-class families there is this often vindictive guilt towards people that lose a child under suspicious circumstances. The working-class screamed the McCann’s are privileged and so why they got away it where as the middle-class say we don’t do these sort of things. That whole thing were social media brings notoriety and attention to just about anyone these days seeking that attention for whatever they have done or suffered – bad or good – is fascinating to me. I always put the name of suspects and people in the news in Facebook search to see what they are all about. People will do anything for their 15 minutes of fame.
My gut instinct is Kate and Jerry are innocent and simply unlucky - be it they are negligent for leaving their kids alone without the supplied nanny service. But this polarized hatred of them is about so many more things than just the loss of Maddy. They are attractive, intelligent and a successful middle-class couple and enjoy their lives. They don’t have guilt over leaving their kids alone. I feel sorry for them for that reason alone. Because of that I would row Kate back to the mainland to safety but leave Blair’s body to be picked at by the crabs. Sometimes things are as they happened. One will remain a mystery whereas Blair knows where his bodies and demons are buried.
Genre – Comedy
Run Time – 99 minutes
Certificate – PG13
Country – USA
Amazon – £3.75 DVD
Awards – 2 Wins & 6 Nominations
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Dementia is something you don’t think about as a young person. If a relative has it your parents tell you gran or granddad is forgetful and you patronize them accordingly when you visit twice a year. The reality of dementia for grown ups is a bloody nightmare and with 800,000 living with it here and three times that amount of carers effected by this cruel disease its beginning to collapse the NHS . We are simply living older now and the old have never been a priority as far as drug companies finding a cure go, terminally ill octogenarians on the wards often treated like Ebola sufferers in Africa. The west doesn’t seem to be able to deal with it and choose to sedate them in care homes or let them rot in their own crap and piss in their homes than actually accept this human misery.
One idea to save money has been to ship them off to the third world to be cared for in places like India whilst another is robots, the subject of this interesting dromedy from first time director Christopher D. Ford. In Japan, which has 38,000 people plus over the age of one hundred and 25% of the population retired, they are attempting to do just that. The idea is that robots can deal with the emotional nightmare dementia is and so the patient can relate to a cognitive machine adapting to the health situation. This frees up the careers to carry on working and living their own lives to help fund their parents care. Whether this movie really deals with that is debatable but the screenplay id funny and thoughtful enough for you to finally enjoy a dementia movie.
Frank Langella ... Frank
James Marsden ... Hunter
Liv Tyler ... Madison
Peter Sarsgaard ... Robot (voice)
Susan Sarandon ... Jennifer
Jeremy Strong ... Jake
Jeremy Sisto ... Sheriff Rowlings
Rachael Ma ... Robot Performer
It’s the near - and reasonably familiar - future and retired and curmudgeonly Frank (Frank Langella) lives alone in leafy New York State up in the hills. His mental health is deteriorating with early onset dementia and his buy son Hunter (James Marsden) and flakey daughter Maddy (Liv Tyler) visit when they can to keep an eye on him. Hunter wants him to go in a home whilst Maddy is travelling in Asia and leaves it to Hunter.
Frank takes a shine to pretty librarian Jennifer (Susan Sarandon), who has to help the new owners of the local library digitize the books and services. The desk assistant is now a robot as humans increasingly handover to machines to do menial tasks. Frank loves books like she does and wants to treat her with a first edition of Don Quixote to get her to like him more, not easy.
Hunter decides it would be a good idea to buy his dad a robot carer to help look after his health needs. At first Frank is not keen but once he realizes the robot can keep secrets he decides to exploit the situation to his advantage. Frank used to be a notorious cat burglar and when the library holds a fundraiser he sees some potential goodies around the necks of the rich donors he would quite like, teaching the robot how to cut keys and pick locks. But he still can’t get Jennifer out of his mind and drawn to this woman for some reason. It seems his memory is as bad as his manners these days.
I liked this and the first dementia film for a while that wasn’t maudlin. There are a lot of dementia movies around nowadays because it affects so many lives but they are often tough watches if you are going through the disease in your family. It has a neat twist like The Notebook and Frank Langella good at bringing comedy to the role on what is a very sad situation. Susan Sarandon is under-cast and wasted here and doesn’t get much to chew on. It’s always a pleasure to see the stunningly beautiful Liv Tyler in a movie.
The writing is solid and the tone spot on with an intelligent edge to it although at only 88 minutes it doesn’t quite nail the emotional side of the damage dementia does to families. The director’s major concern is setting up the twist around the memory loss metaphors and so other areas neglected and rather two-dimensional. Saying that the story and idea is interesting and you go with it as familiar narrative of screen robot becoming more human and aware does battle with the old fart having one final rebellion, the robots memory able to be switch off and wiped at any point, exactly what Frank doesn’t want. I think this will appeal to the arty movie crowd but also a mainstream one as there is nothing to understated and droll to put you off. One for on-demand if you don’t have a DVD or rental in mind.
Imdb.com – 7.1/10.0 (47,863votes)
Rottentomatos.com –86% critic’s approval
Metacriitc.com – 67% critic’s approval
Leonard Maltin Film Year Book –
The Patriot Ledger –‘A slightly futuristic treatise on aging, family and the pitfalls of mechanical screenwriting’
The Scotsman –‘Explores in subtle and heartbreaking ways how memory becomes a defining part of who were are and where we're going.
Las Vegas Life –‘Christopher D. Ford's seamless screenplay provides a light-comedy vehicle that Langella rides to a satisfyingly original, epiphanic finale’.
Fim.com –‘FRANK & ROBOT is a poignant tale of man and machine’
Film4 –‘An ageing Frank Langella and a disembodied Peter Sarsgaard make for an unexpectedly dynamic double act in this refreshingly unsentimental geriatric drama. Robust and frank’.
The Verge –‘One of the few movies I've seen where the future is not a dystopic nightmare, 3D-generated phantasmagoria, or otherwise unbelievable peek into a not-too-distant hellworld’.