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Well, this is a nice change for me, whenever I have been tempted to do a review on a mobile phone I have never had strong feelings on it either way. Having now owned this phone for a considerable amount of time though I am pleased to say that I am still incredibly happy with my choice.
I was due an upgrade from T-mobile, and as ever when contacted to be made aware of this I had a look through the web site to see what was on offer, the G1 caught my eye straight away, a lot of people I knew at the time had blackberrys but having seen men with thumbs far to large to make this phone practical I was put off instantly.
The other key decision for buying this was the fact my friend had just bought one in white, he recommended it as a tremendous phone and so I was sold; a few days later and I had my new toy through the post and I was set to start playing.
The first thing that struck me when I started to charge it up was how quickly it told me it was fully charged, this concerned me somewhat as I figured that this would prove to be an eventual problem with the battery life. I was right.
Initially I found the phone hard to use, this was my first 'touch screen' phone experience as well as my first time with a phone with a QWERTY keypad, the result being it took me a while to get to the section I needed to be at and then when it got to messages I would often type the wrong thing or hit enter before I was finished. I had also uploaded my sim details from my previous phone, this played havoc initially with my contacts - all my previous contacts were sorted in a unique way, so for instance if I had met them out and about then it would be sorted 'generic bar - name', or for some of my other friends who were saved by nicknames it would be 'Agent Green' which became 'Green Agent', the guys name is Chris Green, I'm not sure where it came from but ho hum, the other example is 'The Duck' who became 'Duck, The', in this instance the lads name is Ed and his nickname comes from Edd The Duck.
Once I had come to terms with these initial problems though I then started using the phone as it should be used, the first thing I found was that sending messages with a QWERTY keyboard made the whole process incredibly quick, it now takes me a matter of seconds to be able to return a text. It was also a joy to have this very large screen that I could see everything with (this comes in particularly useful when viewing web pages as you are no longer forced to cram a whole page on to a tiny screen).
The massive selling point for me though is the full list of free applications available for download - I currently have downloaded a flashlight, all this does is make the screen go bright white, but in my job I often have to go to dark places without lights even if it's just till I find the fuse box so this has made life a lot easier; also I have a shopping utility, you may have seen this advertised with the Iphone, you simply scan a bar code and it will tell you the places where the same product are cheaper, for instance if you were out looking for a DVD or computer game then by simply scanning the bar code it will tell you where it's cheapest, also including Internet results. I also now have BBC Iplayer, which I think is just brilliant, if I am honest I rarely use it but it's nice to have it - finally I have a football application that once pressed will give me all the live football scores across the globe in all major divisions. The phone does come with an extensive list of applications ranging from games to a compass, whoever you are you can tailor your phone to your needs.
It is also worth noting that my friend has an application that allows him to download full music tracks and listen to them for free, I obviously don't promote this as its theft, but the application is there.
Where I have had the most use out of it though is the Internet, free to use I found found this a godsend as I have recently moved house - while doing this in the transition period I have had no broadband in order to keep me entertained, however by having this G1 I have been able to keep in touch with the outside world throughout.
In my role as an estate Agent I am often out valuing and listing Properties, some time ago though the office camera was broken and we were forced to take other measure, during this time though I found that the camera on my phone works easily when taking photos and they still come out at good quality - at the same time the upload from camera to computer was easy, this has been a massive problem for me in the past as I have used the phone on nights out and then not been able to move the photographs.
As its a Google Phone it comes loaded with googlemaps, I have not had to use this yet but have had a look through it and it seems to work just as the website does, the scary thing is though you can ask it to pinpoint your location and direct you from there - scary but brilliant.
Now though, to talk about the phones one serious down point which I touched on earlier, the battery life, I have had to condition myself to rarely use this phone as the battery life flies down once active, it could be worse for me but I have the USB adapter in work and charge it over night, however, you would not get through a full 24 hours without charging this phone one way or another, had it not been for this then I would have given the phone five stars but it really is a killer.
At a quick pricing level I have just done an e-bay search, so if you still feel safe using e-bay then this will set you back in the region of £100-£180.
As a quick summary though, this is the best phone I have ever had, once I have finished with it and when I am due an upgrade I will going for the upgraded version, but apart from the battery this phone can do no wrong in my eyes!
I have to admit Babel passed me by at the time, this is rare as I am a massive fan of Brad Pitt, off the top of my head I can't think of a bad performance he has performed in an amazing array of roles, Snatch, Fight Club, Burn After Reading to name just a few examples. While in Morrisons the other day we stumbled across this as part of a trio pack, three movies in one case. The whole thing was about £5 and so we thought we would give it a crack (the box also contained Munich which I think is excellent).
It's another film where seemingly unconnected people are connected by a random event. The film is set around four different situations spreading over the distance of Morocco, Japan and Mexico. An American couple who are having problems are having a Holiday in Morocco to get away from things and an attempt from the husbands side to reconnect to his wife. Two young boys who lives in the hills are given the task of shooting jackals in a bid to have their flock from being eaten. A young deaf girl living in Japan struggling with a whole host of teenage problems as well as the disability itself and the suicide of her mother and finally a Nanny from Mexico who is looking after the Americans kids while they are abroad.
This is the series of events which brings the plot lines together; the father of the Moroccan boys buys a rifle for his sons to save his sheep, while out hunting for jackals they decide to test the range of the rifle having been told it could fire up to 3km, it is their idea to shoot at a bus traveling on a nearby desert road - unfortunately for them the bullet does reach and goes through the window killing the wife of the American couple. Due to this horrific incident the Americans cannot return home as planned and the Nanny is forced to take their children to a wedding across the border from America to Mexico - elsewhere in Japan it turns out that the deaf girls father is the actual owner of the rifle.
Brad Pitt - Brilliant as ever, a worthy string to his bow - plays the role of a devastated husband and you can see the gradual effects in his ability to cope with the situation the more and more the control slips from his grasp, heavily aged for the role he really does look the part of the tourist.
Cate Blanchett - I couldn't explain to you why, but Cate bothers me, it therefore suited me that she was playing a role where you aren't meant to like her. As a whiny germaphobe American you really feel no sorrow for her when she is shot. A good performance though and towards the end she has a part with Pitt that she really couldn't have relished when she read through the script.
Rinko Kikuchi - Plays the deaf Japan girl and I would personally say she was the standout performance. A troubled young thing who ranges from bitter angry to pilled up ecstatic. Her role involves a lot of nudity as well which far from cheapening the role makes her into even more of dark confused character.
I went into watching this film really having no idea what it was about or even what category of film it fell into, all I knew is that it had never received massive acclaim (despite having won an oscar).
I can honestly say it is was of the best drama's I have seen for some time, the film leads you into total confusion not knowing what to expect, why some of the people are interlinked - due to the fact it doesn't have a big finish it was in danger of leaving me feeling a bit hollow but none the less this is a film I took great enjoyment in watching.
It is however a clever film that takes it time, as you can see from the tag line of the film (which is the title of this review, as ever), the main message of the film is communication, our ability to listen and interact with one another - whether that be your spouse or even at a top political level, not taking things for granted and making no assumptions.
Linked heavily with 21 Grams (same director) and Crash, same premise of bringing a few stories together with one eventual message, it is better than both though for two different reasons. 21 grams didn't have a character I could relate to or really cared about even though it had actors in that I have previously marveled at, and Crash in my opinion just had too many story lines going on at the same time, babel swings gently and solidly through each story allowing us to connect with the characters as well as completing each story.
IMDB users give is 7.7/10, although I believe this to be slightly lower than I think it deserves.
Available on Amazon for £3.98 and £6.98 on blu-ray although as said previously I did get it is a triple pack of DVD's for a fiver.
This game was never going to be brilliant, I owned the original and whereas all my friends hated it I found it great fun for a short term solution. The real FIFA takes itself quite seriously being as close to real life as a game can really get, the idea with FIFA Street is to make the whole process a lot more enjoyable.
Okay, so in truth it's rubbish, I am not going to make any defence for the prosecution that this game is a classic but it is still brilliant because it's different and fun. The idea of the game as the title would tend to suggest is instead of playing an 11-a-side game of football on a full size pitch for the mundane 90 minutes you are instead thrust into the world of Street Football playing five-a-side in a world where tricks and skill are king.
In terms of graphics EA Sports appear to have tried not to take it too seriously, people may complain about the graphics but I believe it is intentional. If you look on the front cover of the game you will see what you could only call caricature versions of some top football players, the picture of Peter Crouch for instance is really quite amusing, in the normal game every detail of a players physique is taken care of to the point of almost being flawless whereas Street keeps is comic by doing the polar opposite.
The game itself becomes quite boring fairly quickly, once you have mastered the art of keeping the ball in the air between players and pulling off some cheeky stunts then goals soon follow, as you pull off stunts then you fill a 'gamebreaker' bar, once this is filled then all your players for a limited time only becomes great in every position, the result being that if you get the ball and shoot then it's fairly likely that you will score.
The Street team did put an awful lot of players into this though and the categories they fall into are fairly amusing, for instance (and this really is for football fans now) Gattuso and Rooney fall into the 'stocky' team, but there are actually 250 players on the game split into the groups of tricksters, enforcers, playmakers and finishers, all come with their own abilities during the games themselves.
A nice addition to this game rather than the original is the ability to interact with your surroundings, so for instance when you try and beat a player you can pass the ball against a wall and run up it so get round your man. Some of the locations are quite funky at the first time of watching but soon become annoying, some of the walls don't go all the way to the top of the screen so when you try and play a pass off a wall it can sometimes soar out of the playing arena (which automatically gives possession to the opposition goalkeeper). The music also tends to stop and start in as much as when a track finishes it can take some time for the next to begin leaving you playing in silence.
All in all I would suggest this game is worth a cheeky punt as long as you don't expect the world from it, if you don't appreciate the fact that it's meant to be fun and not as slick as it's big brother then leave it alone. Amazon currently has it priced at £12.45 although I think I picked it up for £8.00 from CEX (see earlier review).
In short, this game should be awful, but I still like it :-)
I had recently been watching a lot of movies with John Malcovitch in and had found him a very enjoyable actor watch in a diverse range of roles, Changeling, Burn After Reading and Ripleys Game to name a few. Browsing some of the movies in CEX (please see previous review) I was interested to see this listed for £1.50.
Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a misfit puppeteer who finds himself stuck in a rut, his edgy shows are not accepted by the public and as such he struggles to get any sort of paying work. His wife Lotte (Camerian Diaz), an animal obsessed type who appears to also struggle with life outside of her apaprtment urges Craig to go out and get work.
Craig finds a job as a filer, sorting documents at a bizarre office on the 7 and half floor which can only be reached by using a crowbar on the lift doors between floor seven and eight, this odd floor has three quarter height ceilings with the idea being to save money on 'overheads'.
It is here that Craig meets Maxine, and instantly begins to fall in a strange obsessed sort of love. Maxine (Catherine Keeler) is a sexually dominant female force and quickly has Craig jumping through hoops to impress her as she is effectively the polar opposite of his wife. The plot thickens however when Craig drops a file behind a cabinet one day and when retrieving it finds a portal, this portal eventually turns out to lead into John Malcovitch.
Let me explain that - John Malcovitch will be doing whatever it is that he is doing at the time, but by entering the tunnel you can watch what he does from his own eyes for 15 minutes before being thrown out onto the New Jersey Turnpike.
This film is beautifully weird, imagine a remake of Alice in Wonderland, from the very start to the very end I was sat there with a sort of 'what the hell is going on?!' type of face. Everything from when it turns out that the office isn't the right height to when Malcovitch goes through the tunnel and enters his own alter-ego.
Well, a hell of a cast, I have become quite a large fan of John Malcovitch overnight really although always having had respect for the films that he makes, I think this was a wonderful performance as he does end up playing himself numerous times with different directives (watch the film to understand what I am truly trying to say with that comment). I also think it was a very brave role to take as it puts him out there as an actor leaving his personal life on display.
John Cusack, technically the lead character in this movie does a great job once again, I have always liked Cusack as an actor even if I haven't liked all of the movies he has been in, High Fidelity for instance, poor adaptation of the book but Cusack comes across well in it. I would say that this role falls out of his normal comfort zone as he plays this socially challenged failure without much going for him at all but he does pull it off and pull it off well.
I really enjoyed this movie, it is truly different for that of the normal mainstream and I glad I took a chance on it. It won't appeal to everyone though, if you don't like quirky films or situations that don't necessarily make complete sense then I would perhaps give this a miss.
It also does have adult themes and nudity, although pretty soft, not the kind of film you would play to a kid but I think a 15 guidance is fair.
I will recommend this film to anyone that will listen to me, and it will make me go out and buy some of the other work which perhaps isn't quite as famous by Malcovitch, all in all I think it is a wonderfully different film that most people would enjoy for both amusement and sheer weirdness.
IMDB users give it a rating of 7.9/10 from 105,999 votes.
You can also buy this new from amazon on DVD for £4.98
I came across this store while looking for something cheap and cheerful to do on a weekend. Gone are the days where I can justify going to the pub and blowing a whole heap of money, gone are the days where going to the cinema and spending £6.50 per ticket, then food, and walking away £30 down are acceptable.
Instead recently I have been going down to CEX about twice a week and scowering through things that I can pick up on the cheap. I love watching movies but we also have a Playstation 3 and Nitendo Wii in the flat, so having a 'quick' look around will normally take me in the region of an hour.
Now this review is based on the Leeds shop, and I'm going to be honest from the very beginning, there are fundamental parts of this shops workings that I have had no dealings with, I will come to this further down the line.
So what is CEX, well, it is effectively a swap shop, now there are many different forms of shops likes these, some of them specialist and some of them not particularly cost effective, for instance you can go to a whole host of dark and dingy music CD exchange shops and some of them are specialist in the genre that they aim to, you could also go to a computer equivalent such as gamestation although I have never found this as cost effective as I would wish.
Now, I have never sold anything to CEX, various reasons for this, the first being that I have picked up some okay things for a pittance and I don't like the idea of paying for something new and then getting a stupidly small amount of money for it when I come to pass it on. The second being that I enjoy having a large collection of DVD's, Blu-Rays and games and wouldn't want to all of a sudden have a massive gaping whole in my living room store cupboard.
Cex also does exchanges on mobile phones and laptops, this isn't something I have ever done either, my mobile is updated regularly enough due to the fact it is a contract phone and when I come to upgrade my laptop it will probably be from a local computer technician who I can trust to do any necessary repairs. Due to these two facts this will unfortunately on be a partial review on what the store has to offer.
So anyway, the Leeds store is set up with games for all consoles on the ground floor, mobile phones and laptops can also be found here. Now games are one of the most aggravating things to me, I love playing them but I could not possibly justify paying £40-£50 for a brand new game apart from something special, any Grand Theft Auto for instance. I normally wait a few months before I invest in these things by this time virtually all my friends have completed the game in question - but ho hum I still get my enjoyment out of it. Over recent weeks I have picked up two Playstation three games and paid £24 for the pair. I'm not going to get into what games they were but I have had great fun playing them none the less.
Downstairs in the basement you have DVD's that are on all the walls, these are all alphabatised, then you have box sets, childrens, sport and international, something for everyone. Each time I go I spend at least thirty minutes going around looking at each letter and picking up the movies that I fancy, it maybe that I am only looking for something for that night, or it might be that I buy six or seven. The last time I bought six dvd's here it cost me £18, that is on average £3 a DVD. It can be amazing how some films hold their value, for instance the real classics rarely get traded in so therefore cost more - so what you find is even though a film may be released twenty years earlier it might still be more expensive than something released six months ago - I mean how many people want every Danny Dyer film as a reminder in their collection.
In the middle of this basement level you have all the music CD's, now I rarely buy these anymore but have had a gander through from time to time, sorted in exactly the same high detail as the movies you can pick up music from any genre and prices once again range from as low as £1 to £10 for a new release.
Now CEX is not going to be for everyone, I love owning the boxes for all the movies, games and CD's I own and don't mind too much if they are a little bit tatty, but I realise that some people like their belongings to be new and only theirs, but for price alone this is something I can put up with.
Please note that I have only written this review from a buyers perspective, I appreciate that I have never sold anything to CEX, but at the same time I have never had to return anything faulty either (although a couple of movies I have bought have made me think twice), but in general I would suggest that CEX is worth a look for anyone wanting to cut a few pounds out of their personal spend.
Every so often a childrens movie comes along that I really want to see, 'Ice Age' was one, I'm desperate to see 'Up' but last night I finally got to watch 'Wall-E'. This was a film that some of my friends had talked about some time ago saying that it was fantastically funny - and I would certainly have to agree with them.
The scene is set in the far distant future mankind has had to abandon earth because of the fact the whole surface is covered in rubbish meaning life is no longer sustainable on the plant. The villain of this particular part of the story is a company called 'Buy N Large', although this really could be a crack at any of the mega chains that litter every town in every country of our world.
Mankinds idea is to leave earth is a huge spaceship while leaving earth to a set of machines called 'Wall-E's', these machines task is to clean up the earth so that life is once again sustainable and humans can return. All however seems to have gone wrong as the only form of life, both artificial and living are one remaining 'Wall-E' and an indestructible cockroach.
Wall-E continues to stick to his task, spending every day tidying and then returning to his metal shell of a home for 700 hundred years until a spaceship lands and deploys 'Eve', a highly advanced robot dedicated to trying to find forms of fresh life on Earth.
Perhaps Wall-E is lonely, or perhaps it truly is love at first site but he instantly falls head over heals for Eve, she does not seem to understand this emotion (as robots are prone not to do), the rest of the tale is Wall-E the puppy dog trying to win over and eventually save his ideal robot.
I genuinely laughed out loud throughout this movie, which in itself is a rarity, some movies make me crack a smile, but to actually make me laugh is hard to do (what a grumpy old bum I sound like), both of the main characters seem unable to communicate on the most part with their only way to interact by saying their own names.
Wall-E is incredibly life like, and although his design was blatantly stolen from 'Short Circuit' he is one of the most humorous animated characters I have ever seen, you also feel like you can relate to him, the amount of times the words 'Wall-E' and 'Eve' are said should really get annoying, but somehow each time the true emotion of what the character is trying to convey comes across.
This was Pixars massive 2008 release, Pixar are probably the most recognised animation film production company around at the moment having comes out with such animation masterpieces as 'Monsters Inc', 'Cars', 'Toy Story' and 'The Incredibles'. I could happily argue though that even against such fierce competition that this has overnight become my favourite animated movie of all time.
The graphics are fantastic throughout, a lot of the movie is based out in space, but also on the giant spaceship carrying the humans you have hundreds if not thousands of things going on at once, I imagine this film took an awfully long time to make as no stone appears to have gone unturned.
I have made my feelings quite clear throughout this review, but as a general recap I think this is a lovely family film that will amuse all ages, it had my other half on the brink of tears when she thought something awful was going to happen and it had me in near hysterics at times as well. This wouldn't generally be the sort of film I would go in for as you can tell by the fact I missed the boat with this one by over a year but my word am I pleased that it is now a member of my DVD collection.
Hands up please, how many people reading this review would regard themselves as English? Okay, now please keep your hand raised if you can tell me off the top of your head when St. Georges day is (it having recently passed should keep it in some people's memories), I am willing to bet the number of people if they are completely honest are in the minority.
Now before I start my rant I would like to make the point that I am in NO way racist, the friend I spend most of my time with is black and I vote for a Political party that believes in an integrated society. This rant is not meant to be on the basis of Politics, but more perhaps a bit of lost National pride and sense of being.
What is St Georges Day?
St George is the Patron Saint of England, much as St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland. The popular story of St. George is thus; George saved a young Princess from a dragon by giving it a grevious wound, then leading it to a local town where he told the villagers should they convert to Christianity then he would slay the dragon before them.
The more accurate story is that George was the son of a man named Geronzio who in turn was one of Romes finest soldiers, George also joined the Roman army and rose rank quickly. In 302 AD it was ordered that every Christian soldier should be arrested and every other should be a sacrifice to the Pagan gods. George refused to denounce his faith giving up his possessions and wealth to the poor before being executed and dying as a martyr.
St George is also the Patron Saint of Aragon, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal and Russia.
Does it matter who George was?
I personally don't think it matters two hoots who St George was and what his contribution was to England, it is pre-ordained who the Patron saints are and they hold very little relevance to who people really believe should be the Symbol of this Country.
For instance, St Patrick was a slave before escaping and returning to Ireland ordained at approximately 400ad.
Why do I care if this Country celebrates St Georges Day?
I am personally proud to be English and believe it is our right to have a day dedicated to the great Country in which we live in. I am not alone either, if you visit http://www.stgeorgesday.com/home then you will see the kind of support that this has received.
Over One Million people have voted to agree that we should have St Georges Day, and celebrities like Sir Ian Botham are firmly behind the cause as well.
Every Year, Millions of people come to the United Kingdom and England for a whole host of different reasons, these holiday goers could not possibly claim they came for the weather, so why do they come?
Let us hypothetically say that these merry sight see-ers don't in fact leave London, but perhaps they go and see the London Tower, perhaps the Bridge or even the Palace. Or maybe they prefer to leave the Capital and go and see the birthplace of Shakespeare, maybe Stonehenge.
England throughout History has provided key moments, some of them we can put our heads up high about, and others that didn't make us look quite so clever, but we have rarely been sat on the side lines and watching History form around us.
Now consider just how small a Nation we are and what an integral part of History we are, does that not make you Proud to be English?
I am going to skip to Politics slightly as obviously it does have a rather large key in this debate, some people claim they want St George's day to regain National Identity, I can relate to this, but not for the reasons that others may. I do believe in a Society built on integration, people making the most of their skills especially if they have been forced to leave their Country through asylum, but I do not want to ram English pride down anyones throats, this year a good friend of mine from the Sudan came over to my flat where I had a St George's day flag hanging from the balcony and we just sat around having a couple of Beers, what would the difference be if the day was a recognised?
There has been talk about celebrating St Georges being racist, and I myself have come across this before. I used to celebrate this day every year with my friends in Chester, going from bar to bar and perhaps singing pro English songs - Sweet Chariot, Jerusalem for instance, but would immediately be asked to leave, now can you imagine a bar having the courage to do that on St Patricks day? I very much doubt it.
So tell me, why do we insist in the Country on going to the local pub on Patricks day and having a pint of Guinness, and yet we cannot bring ourselves to make any effort at all when it comes to the support of our own patron Saint.
For those people who claim not to be proud to be English, then I cannot force you to agree and nor would I want to, I have made the point that this Country over the years has done things that we couldn't possibly be proud of, but let me say this, millions of people worldwide wish they could life in a Country that has as much to offer an England, and whereas we have not always been responsible with our power we still have much to offer for the average Englishman. For the man on the street who gets run over and gets rushed to a NHS Hopsital, for the local businessman who through no fault of his own has been made redundant and needs some help from the state in order to survive while he gets on his feet, are these not the reasons that we are envied?
I do not expect everyone to agree with this review, but please tell me this, if I feel patriotic about this Country, and millions of people feel the same, then why should we not be allowed a day celebrate our Patriotism?
Continuing on with my WWII theme I would like to do a quick review on a story worth telling (unlike Anne Frank, see review for my feelings on that waste of time); Defiance, released in 2008 was advertised at the Cinemas and available to watch at roughly the same time as Tom Cruise's remake of Valkyrie a film that held no interest for me whatsoever, however this was a film I wanted to watch and remember being intrigued during an advertisement but never got round to watching, however, now available on DVD I am glad I got the opportunity again.
The films begins in Belarus, Jews are being rounded up by the Germans and local Police and being executed or being transferred to local death camps, the film centres around two Jewish brothers named 'Bielski', they return to their small town to find their Parents murdered and take to the Woods to seek shelter from Nazi rule and to defend their lives.
Over time they are joined by more and more people and eventually they become reluctant leaders of their own Town, a society is created in the Forests where every man and woman works and assigned duties in order to best serves the interests of the People whose only wish is to stay alive.
Eventually the bothers fall out, Tuvia (Daniel Craig) believes in a community set on survival and not revenge, Zus (Leiv Schreiber) believes in a much more aggressive front though and would prefer to actively seek out Germans and followers of the Reich in order to defeat them. Zus leaves the camp taking with him some of his faithful and joins up with Russian non-Jewish Militia.
Both Brothers face their perils, Zus is fighting alongside men who have no real respect for Jews and who believe their only purpose is for dying, Tuvia, as leader of a whole community faces struggles to keep leadership as well as directing his new civilization in the best way he knows how.
Will the brothers and the community Tuvia formed survive?
As a film it was a very enjoyable watch, it is nice to see a film that doesn't centre around the main story lines like D-Day for instance.
Throughout you don't know how it is going to end, will the civilization be caught and massacred by the Germans who are aware of their presence just not their exact location. Its this guessing game that adds the most intensity but also watching the personal relationships develop and the lengths that people would go to in order to survive the horrible fate that fell upon most of their friends and relatives.
Rubbish, almost completely factually incorrect in fact, let me draw your attention to some of the mistakes that were made without giving away too much of the plot line.
The Bielski's were Polish not Belorussian.
Polish Jews speak Polish, not Russian.
Translation's often incorrect in terms of context
The Bielski's never fought Germans, they fought Russian and Polish Guerrillas
In the film the town that they form is named 'Naliboki', however, this was a Polish Town that was massacred and has been blamed on both the Bielski's and a Soviet Group.
(Please note, this information was sourced from IMDB, and not my personal knowledge)
The point I am making is that factually the film was very incorrect, even though it does claim to be a True Story.
A lot of familiar British faces in this film, but I have to say that even though the Russian accent isn't very easy they did a fair part on the most part. Daniel Craig adds a new string to his bow with this one even though his accent does slip on numerous occasions.
Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) who plays the third Bielski gives in my opinion the best performance and should be very pleased with himself. On this back of this I would almost be persuaded to see his next projects just because of him.
All in all though, the acting on the majority conveys the struggle that the people went through very well and I have no particular arguments against it.
A very enjoyable film, if you can look past how historically inaccurate it really is. I obviously wasn't aware of just how far off it was until I started this review, and to be honest it has rather tinted my enjoyment.
After I had watched the film I would have given it an eight out of ten, but now it is verging on the low end of the seven. If you can look past this though then I suggest you go and give it a try.
Buy from amazon new on DVD for £10.98 or £16.98 on Blu-Ray.
IMDB rating 7.3/10 from 17501 votes.
Some books through History are regarded as essential reading, books that are used in simple off the cuff references that give the impression that everyone has read them, well, I had not read Anne Frank but fairly recently had it passed to me so that I may catch up on what I had been missing. A lot of people I believe are going to strongly disagree with this review but to be honest, this is a site built on personal opinion, so I'm going to carry on anyway.
If you are not aware of the concept of the book then let me give you a little back round, Anne Frank was a teenage Jewish girl growing up in the Netherlands when Hitler rose to power, as Jewish persecution rose Anne and her family took shelter in a hidden Annexe, her diary documents her time of the war, her personal feelings and her views.
I find modern warfare very interesting, I am 24 and the thought that these events happened such a relatively short time ago astounds me. I am interested in reading personal accounts as well viewpoints of what happened on certain events, I do not however have any patience for an annoying girl who spent her whole war time stuck in an annexe.
The majority of the content of this book is based on Anne, and obviously from her own view point, Anne thinks very highly of herself (I'm sure with a comment like that I'm going to get messages like 'oh she was just an insecure little girl', but I say poppycock to that), she talks about all her good points, to name a few according to her she is quick witted, able to access herself from outside her own body and fantastic when is comes to writing, she also claims that all the boys pay her attention and she is constantly surrounded by admirers.
It closely deals with the personal relationships between herself and the other people hiding in the annexe, these include her Mother and Father - Edith and Otto, her Sister Margot, as well and Petronells and Hans Van Dam and their son. It deals with her hatred of her mother for not getting enough support, her complete admiration for her father, her complete intolerance of the Van Dams and her love for Peter.
The problem for me with this book, and I would class it as a very serious problem, is NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS. Not one part of the book (apart from perhaps the last ten pages, and for anyone who has read the book will understand where I'm coming from) ever grasped me and made me want to keep reading - I read just before I go to sleep, and I have to tell you I was so thoroughly bored throughout that it took me a good couple of months to read, and left me feeling truly uninspired.
I think for a printed book to work as a diary you have to feel some sort of connection to the lead character, you have to want to get to know them, whether that be because you hate them or because you love them (for instance, I loved Nick Hornby's - High Fidelity as I could relate to the character and the thought processes), I could never develop strong feelings for Anne, I found her self obsessed and arrogant but at the same time nothing made me dislike her enough to hold my interest.
I truly don't understand how this book has become one of the most famous books ever written, and firmly believe that it could possibly be the most boring war story ever written, when you think of all the exciting tales to be told, and the people who suffered and became martyrs for their Countries and their personal rights, does this really deserve be marked out as a great piece of WWII literature?
Don't buy this new off amazon for £4.99
Don't read the 368 pages
And don't use these ISBN's
I had been drawn to this film for an awfully long time, most of the friends of mine who had seen it spoke very highly of it so while I browsing some DVD's down at the local shop I saw this and thought 'why not'.
Having grown up with wrestling I realised what a Battle Royale was, in that sense it is when all the competitors start in the ring at the same time, and the last man left inside wins, the concept for this film is roughly the same. Set in the early 21st century Japan, the country has fallen upon rough times and strong actions are required to get the youth back under control, the concept of the film is that every year the Government have a lottery of sorts to pick a school class to compete in the game.
From there they are shipped out on to an Island and left to compete, the films opens with just this scenario, a bunch of kids are found disorientated in a school they have not been before - here they are given their instructions. The premise for the game is simple, each contestant wears a necklace, from here the authorities can check on their progress around the deserted Island, should they try and take it off the necklace will trigger an explosion and effectively blow through the contestants throat.
They are also given a pack, this contains a weapon of some description, this may be an uzi, a tracker device, numbchucks or perhaps even a pot lid, it is down to each contestant to try and find the best use for the item they are given. They are then given a map of the Island and a compass and pen, regular updates are given to the contestants because at certain times parts of the Island become 'danger zones', the only way to survive these zones is to get the hell out of them.
As you may realise the only way to win the game is to kill every other contestant, if after three days a winner has not been found, they all die.
Okay, so it's an intriguing concept, and one that I enjoyed thoroughly, it also had its elements of humour, the callasnous in which some of the children go about their task but also some of the scenarios that are created. I suppose it's a very dry twisted humour, but hey, I am what I am.
The acting was not without flaw, now this film is subtitled, so some element of guess work is needed to work out if the characters behave in the way the subtitles would suggest at any given time, but I would certainly describe some of the children's acting at times as very over the top.
The biggest gripe I had with this film is that it's almost impossible to kill people, their were times when someone must have been shot about eight or nine times, and yet you would still see them stumbling to get away from their attacker, and also one of the characters seems to constantly have a problem hitting someone with an automatic from a distance of a few feet time after time.
Apart from these small grievances though I would suggest that the film is a must watch, now don't get me wrong, I would give it a seven or eight out of ten, but as a concept I thought it was brilliant, and can certainly see why it has claimed so many accolades over the years.
This may not be for everyone though, it deals with some subjects that are quite close to the line and was banned in America for many many years, I have said before that I believe some films rated 18 do not deserve the tagline, but this is one for the kids to stay away from, the continuous run of death and at such a young age could be a disturbing image for some.
Time for some facts
Buy new from amazon for £12.24 on DVD
Run time 109 Minutes
To mark my return I have chosen a very masculine book to write about, the way my reading at home goes is that I get left books to read by various people (mainly larachristina) and I work through them as best I can, having just struggled through a classic (which I will be slating in my own time) I wanted to read something a little bit easier on the pallet.
The book is based around Charlottle Merryweather, a successful thirty something businesswoman who runs her own small PR company in London, she is very happy with her lot, she has a boyfriend who fits perfectly and she dedicates what little amount of free time she has to keeping herself into shape. As a character she is fairly uptight and stereotypes the modern day yuppie, has all the food allergies and popular habbits that a lot of people have, her life is going fine until while driving she finds herself looking at her old car from when she is 21, she knows this can't be right as the car was scrapped, and so the adventure begins.
This initial character development carries on for what is probably a little bit too long but eventually Charlotte follows the car and after a few long drawn out processes ends up in a beer garden with her 21 year old former self. This is her chance, this is her time to grab her younger self and make up for all the mistakes she made while she was younger; a plan is hatched, lists are made, and the savior of her younger self begins.
Okay, so as a plot line it isn't up to much, time travel is one of those things that I imagine would put a lot of people off, but as a lighthearted British chick-lit book it all works quite well.
'Whose that girl' is a first person perspective, a view that I always prefer in literature, it deals with her troubles at work, her personal anxieties and a lot of personal feelings that have been brought up from her youth - these are rarely taken into great detail though as she does tend to flutter from one emotion to another as her life gives her very little time to be able to actually dwell on anything for long periods of time.
This book would appeal to virtually any female who has to balance work and play, as well as feeling the pressure to maintain appearance - as a 24 year old lad there are obviously some things I can't relate to, but the lead and I are both self employed and their were things that we have in common. The book provides and underlying feeling of humour throughout, in a sort of Bridget Jones meets Back to the Future-esque type way.
I had my suspicions as to how the book would turn out throughout, and where as some parts are fairly predictable you really don't find out to the final pages what the author is trying to portray in her message- in fact it almost feels as if she hadn't decided till near the end which way she was going to let the book finish.
I'm not going to pretend that this is the best written book ever, nor am I going to say that it is a must read, but in terms of page turners that you are going to get through in a relatively short amount of time then this book will please most readers I would imagine. I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and that's not something that I necessarily wanted in black and white on the Internet, but ho hum, a worthwhile read indeed.
Buy it new off amazon for £4.49
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (8 Jan 2009)
Shawshank Redemption is IMDB's number one highest rated movie of all time, that means from over 414 thousand votes, the people who have seen this movie think it is better than any other movie ever released, are they right? Well, here is my review and if you haven't seen it already it is up to you to decide.
Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is a straight laced banker from the City, he is wrongfully committed of killing his wife and the man he finds her having an affair with. He in sentenced to life in prison and now has to struggle with a world that he wants no part of and of which he has no understanding.
Andy is befriended in prison by Red (Morgan Freeman), he is the type of guy who can get you just about anything you want for the right price, Red is also due to spend life in prison but sees a quality in Andy that brings them together as best friends. Morgan Freeman also does the narration for this film, and it is perhaps on the back of the success of this movie that he has wound up doing so many other voice overs.
The film follows Andy's struggle as he tries to fit in with his surroundings and the trials and tribulations that make his stay an awful lot harder.
This is the first movie that for me really shows the impact of institutionalization, this is where inmates who have spent their lives in prison no longer know how to be. In prison they are bound by strict rules, strict times for doing everything and everything is based on the routine, place someone inside that system for most of their adult life and it is only natural to think that a man might struggle when faced with the realities of the outside world and even miss the life he has left behind in his cell.
Amongst this Andy never seems to give up hope that he will escape to the outside world, while many others have given up having spent so long in their cage, Andy later talks about beaches and owning a boat on the seaside, so that he can start fresh. Andy's actions help to keep the moral of his closest friends afloat.
I'm a sucker for a film with a twist, all my favourite all build to a fantastic ending that leaves the film firmly imprinted in your mind for the rest of time. This is no exception, the final few scenes to this film are once seen never forgotten and help to cement the films title reign as best film ever made.
This is undoubtedly Tim Robbins most famous movie of all time, and I would personally struggle to list him in many other films, even looking through IMDB as I type this I can't see one acting performance that jumps out at me, that might be me showing my age, but ho hum.
Robbins is phenomenal in this, as a character Andy very rarely shows true emotion and is always somewhat reserved, as a character this would have been hard to play not able to truly throw your self into the role and perhaps making the audience feel a bit cut off but Robbins never lets this happen and you constantly feel like you are connected to the character throughout.
Morgan Freeman is perhaps one of the best known actors on the planet, and for good reason when you see performances like this one, this character is well developed throughout the movie helped by the narration aspect of the film, you perhaps feel closer to the character of Red at times and sense the bond that has been created between these tow characters.
These are the tow main roles of the film and whereas the other performances are solid and good to watch I don't feel it would help the review by banging on about them.
I think this is one of the best movies ever made, and I think if you ask most people their top ten movies this would probably appear, however, it wouldn't be my favourite although I do understand why it has been given this massive accolade.
After watching this movie you will feel truly inspired, it delivers such a strong message of personal struggle that you can't help but feel slightly energised by the actions of some of these men within the prison.
Buy new on DVD from amazon for £4.18, it is one of the truly must see watches of the film medium, or buy on blu-ray for £13.98.
Clockwork Orange is, and has been for a long time one of my favourite films ever made. I watched it years ago, and went on to watch it on stage (although trying to get through the book is proving a little bit more difficult), however, flicking through my DVD collection last night it occurred to me that I hadn't seen it in an awfully long time, it was time to get reacquainted.
Released in 1972 is was a very controversial film at the time, and even now, with people much more desensitised to the topics that run riot through the first half an hour it can still evoke powerful emotions. Such was the controversy surrounding this film, both in content and the actions that followed by the public later that Kubric withdrew his own film until his death and it was only re-released in 1999.
The film is centred around Alex (Malcolm McDowell), Alex is a good looking lad who has major perversions towards rape and violence but also adores the music of Beethoven, a charismatic young chap he is the leader of his own gang 'The Drooges', together they go round in the evenings committing crimes which seem to be more driven by the enjoyment than the financial gain.
The film sets out with a number of these pieces of violence which have made some people I know turn the film off and never understand the true brilliance that is conveyed. At the beginning you have 'The Drooges' beat a drunken singing man to a pulp in an alley way and also gain entry into a Writers home in the Countryside where they proceed to beat the writer and rape his wife in front of him.
However, Alex's gang seem to believe that they should be focusing their attentions on bigger fish and be reaping the more financial rewards that these can offer, following a fight between them Alex shows his authority once more and power is restored. However on a copy raid on another house Alex is betrayed, having gained entry into the house he murders the female inhabitant in the heat of the moment, only to be floored by his gang and left for the Police to pick up.
The rest of the film is Alex's run through the system, new treatment to stop violent criminals like him from re-offending and the repercussions of such lines of treatment.
The film is set in futuristic Britain and so it is not having a crack at the way society was being lived at a certain time, it may show some of the fears that existed by the general public at the time but many of the fears are still rife today. Lets start with the basic ones.
Alex's parents take almost no responsibility for him, while he is meant to be in a correctional school his mother simply allows him to spend the day in bed on the premise that he has a headache, there is also a conversation at the breakfast table between his mother and father where they ponder what he gets up to at night. We still have thugs on the streets now, and will have for years to come, these can be pre-teens who are allowed out after school and can be seen at any set of village shops around the country smoking and drinking, the question remains, what are the parents doing, and I believe that is a question that is directed in the film.
Alex, for all his charisma is pure evil, this is a man that given free choice will always be led by violence and rape, the idea of the film is to withdraw free will, force him to not be able to perform such actions and effectively make him into a mindless drone or as is stated later in the film 'a perfect Christian', but is this really the way forward, is the way to control society to simply remove free will from doing something that the state finds wrong, and hypothetically, where would it end?
The problem being as I believe Kubrick was trying to achieve, is that the mindless few who will be set on reaping terror, pain and anguish are unforgivable, the pain they cause by their actions you wonder if they will ever comprehend, but for the state it is a case of the men with the power can do and get away with what they like, often giving no regard for the individual and often doing more socially immoral things when viewing on the larger scale and the position of the power they are in.
The film from start to finish is based around Alex, and because of this I don't think it is relevant to type mindless pages about each cast member. Malcolm McDowell is inspirational from start to finish, performing both the crazed psychopath to the scared little boy who is in way over his depth.
He didn't receive wide recognition in terms of awards, however, taking what is a very difficult form of language to read and putting it across on film in a way that the audience understands is wonderful. Even in times of misery you sometimes feel yourself chuckling away to the personal actions and movements of Alex.
Still one of my favourite films of all time, IMDB has it as number 51 in their all time top 250, but compared to some of the other pieces in their I think that's wrong. This film will not cater for every type of audience though, and I can see why people would be offended by the opening scenes and not bother too much about the rest of the film, it is worth sticking with as a film and does turn into a truly fantastic movie.
Please do not let under 18's watch this, it was a controversial movie at the time, and still is today.
The fact that it is set in a futuristic Britain loses its edge a bit nowadays, nothing about the film looks futuristic, but more like a cross between 1960's decor and modern day slums. Apart from that because of the fact that it wasn't set at any particular date I think it holds its age quite well. In my humble opinion I would say this is a must see for anyone who considers themselves a film fan.
Buy new on blu-ray for £17.48 or on DVD for £4.18 (do it)
A friend gave this to me to watch, and I have to admit it wasn't a film I had heard about, looking at it on IMDB now though they have it rated Number 116 in the top 250 films ever, fair praise indeed.
The film is set in Korea in 2003 and centres around the character Dae-Su Oh, when we first find our lead character he is in a small police holding cell making a big drunken fool out of himself, chatting up other prisoners girlfriends and shouting at the guards to let him go, this is actually quite an amusing start to the story in a film that will give you very little to laugh about in terms of plot line.
Once released Dae-Su Oh goes to a phone box where he rings his wife, he was on his way to his daughters birthday but appears to have got waylaid and got paralytic instead, when his friend takes the phone Dae-Su Oh disappears and you see his present lying on the floor in the pouring rain, deserted.
Dae-Suh Ho has been captured and is now destined to spent the next fifteen years of his life is a room with TV as his only companion, he is fed the same thing every day and is drugged by gas when it is time for him to go to sleep. While he is in his prison he compiles a journal of all the people he has hurt during his lifetime and the result is a journal that even the most fascist of dictators would be proud of. Dae-Su Ho keeps his mind together though and eventually manages to break free from this place where he has wasted 15 of the best years of his life.
On entering the real world he goes to a sushi bar where he meets a young lady chef named Mi-do, this is to be his companion in a tale set about revenge. When he passes out at the restaurant she takes him in and gives him a home and will eventually help him in his quest to gain revenge against the unknown person who has locked him away for fifteen years for a crime that he isn't even aware of.
Now I am not into my Korean movies enough to really know anything about these actors, which I can only describe as a shame, as the quality portrayed throughout is exquisite, from start to finish the level of intensity, irony and pain is perfectly portrayed in a very real way that can only help you to relate to the characters that you are seeing before you.
Min-Sik Choi is the lead characters and he plays it beautifully, I think when you watch a movie that is subtitled you concentrate a lot more and the raw emotion in Choi's performance was apparent throughout. Despite the fact that you know his character is not a nice man to be around you can really begin to relate to the suffering that he has been through in his life in uncertain limbo being held in a room with no idea of his crime. Even though Choi is the lead the film doesn't rely an awful lot on script and is more based around the relationships and emotions of the characters, this is something that Choi pulls off beautifully.
Hye-jeong Kang is the female lead and the love interest for Choi, a beautiful young girl who is caught up in a web of events that she doesn't truly understand or comprehend how much danger she is in. She plays the rabbit in the headlights role exceedingly well. The majority of the action is focused around the 'villain and hero' though, and so while she enjoys quite a lot of camera time, she isn't given an awful lot of script.
Ji-Tae Yu, the bad guy, introduced to us early he is a dark creature and we don't realise if he is the villain or if he is just a worker bee following orders of those above him. As the role progresses, and especially at the end you really see some fantastic levels of acting, the likes of which we don't see every often anywhere. Ji-Tae Yu commands attention and shows beautifully the pain and suffering in which he has been through while also putting across the wonderful facade of a man completely in control of his own emotions and feelings.
Probably the best I have seen in a good while, and that's not because they have the most people dying, or the most explosions, it is because they are more real than the majority of what we are forced to sit through on television nowadays, you know, generic hero walks into a crowded room and beats 30 guys up on his own. What was also amazing about the action scenes is they quite often had me laughing away to myself, is this a good or a bad thing, you decide.
Do not let an under 18 watch this, while the plot line was stunning, and it is a must see film for anyone, some of the moments of violence are fairly disturbing, I am thinking of two scenes off the top of my head, and I would suggest that younger audiences or those who are easily put off from these things give it a miss!
I generally like subtitles, you will see by the reviews I have done that movies like Apocolypto and Elite Squad have received a very good reception from me, however, if this isn't your thing then I suggest you give it a miss.
I would suggest that this is a must see, it won't make it into my top 10 ever made, but it will certainly go down as one of the best films I have ever seen.
A deep dark thriller that keeps you guessing throughout, and whereas I had an incline as to what the ending was building to, I may have been partially right but was still blown away when it was put out in front of me, with the facts and the evidence of how the film had been gearing up to such a great final act. I cannot think of one substantial draw back not watching this film, and suggest that everyone with a strong stomach watch it at least once.
IMDB gives it 8.30/10 from over 73 thousand votes.
Buy it on DVD from amazon for 10.96 or on blu-ray for £11.98, for the sake of a pound you might as well invest in blu-ray, however, the effects aren't such that I think it would really compliment it that much, that's a guess though.
That's better, back on to movies, all that talking about crisps and books has brought me out in a sweat. Anyway here goes, I remember the reason why this caught my eye at the time, and why I subsequently went to go and see it at the cinema, it was because I had bought a lads mag (I forgot which one), who ran a piece of the real story of the main gangster in this film, his revolutionary ideas about how to smuggle drugs into America and some of the things he got away with, and some he didn't. I'm a sucker for a true story, that these people actually existed, I think it's a much better base for a film or a book than a completely fictional tale.
The film is based around Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), he works for one of the local black mob leaders in Harlem who dies at the beginning of the film through natural causes, Frank as the right hand man is pushed into the limelight and now has to try and run the affairs with limited sums of money and not a lot of street respect. Frank was brought up with respect in his blood, he doesn't believe in living the life of a film star and he doesn't believe is working for a man that does.
The film is set in 1960's when America was at war with Vietnam, back then the popular drug of choice was Heroine, on hearing a report on the news he decides to go directly out to Bangkok to see his cousin that works in the military. There he sees just how strife the heroin problem is. The problem as he sees it is that the heroin on the streets of Harlem has been cut down so many times so that the end product is just powder rather than anything of any substance, Frank wanted to get right in front of the makers and cut out all the middlemen.
Frank manages this amazing feat by having the drugs brought back via Military aircraft, paying all those along the way good money so as their eyes wouldn't wander and he would get his shipments. What he is then left with is a product he can sell on the street that is twice the potency but he can sell at half the price. The effect of this is Franks one man show begins to grow and he soon becomes one of the biggest Gangsters in America where even the Italian mobs are forced to buy off him.
But we wouldn't have a film without a bit of cat and mouse action, and in this case the cat is Detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe), here is a man who gets every single aspect of his life wrong but police work. At the beginning of the film they show Richie and his partner uncovering just short of 1million dollars in unmarked bills in the back of a deserted car, this was a time when every single cop would have back pocketed it, but instead Richie hands it in, the result, no cop trusts him or his partner and whatever he does from now on will have to be alone.
Eventually Richie gets his own drug squad, not small time dealers allowed, only significant arrests, this is where the cat and mouse action begins as Richie as to find out who is bringing the drugs into the Country, and also how. You will have to watch the film to find out the rest.
You think of most actors and you can name good movies they have been in, and you can name bad movies they have been in. But with Denzel even if the film he is in isn't great, his performance always is. This is no exception, the character of Frank is a cool and calculated character, who doesn't like to take ricks and expose himself but at times erupts in fits of rage. This is kind of character that Denzel can play flawlessly and he certainly manages it in this.
Russell Crowe is painted as a bit of Lothario in this which didn't make an awful lot of sense to me, it shows times where he is working out and he certainly hasn't been spending an awful lot of time in the gym, but apart from the characters traits Crowes acting as a special forces officer is great, he platys a neutral role quite well and there is nothing sensational about the way in which he conducts himself.
I enjoyed this throughout, it isn't the quickest or most action paced film you have ever seen, but it moves at a fluid pace and keeps the cat and mouse sport going throughout. Such was the exceptional directing and cast performances.
Some elements of the film are very dark, both including violence and also there are scenes of nudity, so not one for the kids this, even if you do let little Johnny watch films that are perhaps a little bit too old for them. The other problem is that we know just how destroying heroin can be and yet this is rarely pointed out during the film, I mean it shows people doing stupid things to score a fix, and a couple of scenes where people have died, but no real element is shown just on how much heroin brought communities to it's knees.
The thing I remember walking out of the cinema and thinking was 'holy mother, what a businessman', Frank was a guy that built his empire up to the point where they are still making films about him Forty years later, which is a fair testament.
Now I'm not a massive gangster movies fan, I was watched the majority of the classics, but what was different about this is obviously it was the Italians doing the organised crime and that it was in fact black people providing for black communities and the different ethics that went along with that. How much is true I don't know, but it certainly was nice to see a different viewpoint.
Buy it now from amazon on DVD for £5,48 or blu-ray for £13.68
IMDB members give it 8/10 from over 93 thousand votes, I think that's a fair reflection.