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THE STORY: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010, Damon Galgut's latest novel, In a Strange Room, tells the story of the relationships formed by a traveller on his journeys through Greece, India and Africa. The tale depicts tragedy after tragedy, as the chameleon-like Damon goes from being 'The Follower' of the beautiful, yet enigmatic German, Reiner; 'The Lover' of Jerome, the complex Swiss and 'The Guardian' of troubled Anna, who requires round the clock attention and care. Throughout the book we are reminded that there is something missing in the traveller's life. Damon is hopelessly restless, travelling with just a backpack and a sense of, searching for that something that makes him whole: something to make his home feel like home. He searches in back-street motels and tackles corrupt border controls to find the love and completion he so desperately needs. We soon learn that the traveller appears to have something of an antidote to the 'Midas touch' about him as we see many of his pursuits ending in despair. Damon crosses paths and builds friendships with many other wandering waifs and strays, yet the traveller's isolation seems to intensify with every 'goodbye'. The story, whilst captivating and emotional, holds no moral for the reader. No matter how kind or grateful Damon is, just as in real life, it does not prevent him from experiencing terrible loss. Despite being laden in heartbreak and anguish, In a Strange Room leaves the reader with a sense of beauty, rather than dejection. The novel is superbly written and Galgut's unprecedented flouting of the conventions of grammar adds an interesting dimension to the tale. Damon the traveller and Damon the authorial narrator become confused by the use of first and third person narration, sometimes even in the same sentence. With the line between protagonist and narrator blurred, the reader is left questioning if and where fiction ends and autobiography begins. However, the destabilising effect of this fractured voice involves the reader all the more as we seem to step out of the novel, reflecting on Damon's character and his relationships with the other travellers, and then back into the story, seeing life through his eyes. This does not necessarily make for the easiest of reads, and so this is probably not a novel for bedtime reading if you really want to keep track of the story. Another noteworthy aspect of the novel is Galgut's extraordinary ability to breathe life into landscapes and scenes. We are taken by the hand and both the grandest of plains and smallest of detail are pointed out with such exquisite accuracy and talent that the romantic poets of yesteryear would, no doubt, be envious of. From the breathtaking mountains of Greece to the squalid Indian hotel, the reader is seamlessly drawn in to the surroundings. Overall, In a Strange Room, provides a superb read. At times devastating, at times enchanting, Damon Galgut has pulled out all the stops in this stunning rollercoaster novel. This is sure to be a bestseller. THE COVER: The cover of the book isn't necessarily one that would jump out from the shelves and grab you by the neck, in fact, it seems an almost direct copy of the sleeve from Ian McEwan's 'On Chesil Beach'. In fact, the only reason I picked the novel up in the first place was because it was part of my uni course's reading list. THE PRICE: At the moment, this novel is only avaliable in hardback, and therefore, when buying from a bookshop, it is rather pricey. Waterstones are offering it for the RRP, £15.99, but amazon.com is offering the novel for £7.04 with free delivery. OPINION: I'm not entirely sure what to think of this book. Yes, it's modernist in it's approach to story-telling and yes, it is thought-provoking, but for me, this wasn't an easy read. In truth, I only read the book because I had to for my university course! To take in the story properly, I would recommend two readings, and although this probably won't take long (it took me 3 hours to read from cover to cover), it can be tedious to repeat read. This book isn't the sort of book I'd recommed taking on holiday for poolside reading, nor is a novel to read if you want a story with a happy, uplifting ending, but, having said all this, I would still recommend this novel (providing you don't have to pay £16 like I did!), as it is something a bit different from any other novel I've read. OTHER INFO: This 256-page novel was published in 2010 by Atlantic.
*THIS IS A FILM ONLY REVIEW* Not being a particularly avid gamer, when my boyfriend suggested we should go and see the latest instalment of the 'Resident Evil' film saga, I was somewhat reluctant, but after watching, I found that I really rather enjoyed the film. // THE FRANCHISE // Resident Evil, for those who don't know, began as a video game series created by Shinji Mikami, and with the help of Capcom was later adapted into graphic novels, comics, figurines and, most recently, a series of films. The films do not follow the storylines of the main games, but instead have their own protagonist: Alice. While the films do not exactly follow the games to the letter, the main characters from the games such as Chris, Jill and Wesker do appear in the film and in some sequences directly mimic action from the game. The films so far have assumed the titles: Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Extinction and Resident Evil: Afterlife, and there is set to be a fifth (and possibly final) film entitle 'Resident Evil: Degeneration'. In this review, I shall deal solely with 'Afterlife'. // THE PLOT // The film begins with a violent 'zombie-esque' attack (although my boyfriend assured me that the creatures in the film *weren't* zombies, the 'T-virus' victims eat flesh and seem to be after blood... so to me, they're zombies) on the streets of Tokyo. We, in time, discover (assuming you haven't seen the other films) that these 'zombies' are the accidental creation of the 'Umbrella Corporation', who created the 'T-Virus' in order to create super-human abilities in their test subjects, but soon found that it was not compatible with all human DNA... That's where Alice (Milla Jovovich) comes in. Alice, or 'Project Alice', is the sole human who has been found to be compatible with the virus. She arrives all-guns blazing at the underground headquarters of the Umbrella Corps., in order to exact her revenge on Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), Chairman of 'Umbrella', as he was responsible for her initial infection with the virus and has subsequently tracked her in order to attain her DNA as this is how he believes he can control the ill-effects of the virus in other humans. With me so far? Oh yeah, and all this is happening while the zombie apocalypse - sorry, T-Virus outbreak - rages on above the underground lair. During Alice's encounter with Wesker, Wesker injects our protagonist with an antidote to the T-Virus, leaving her devoid of her super speed, replication ability (at the beginning there was a whole army of Alice's storming the underground headquarters - forgot to mention that!) and healing powers. In short, Alice becomes human again. Alice then scours the coasts of America by plane (no, I don't know where the plane came from...) searching for 'survivors'. She hears a radio transmission from a place called Arcadia, promising a virus-free haven for survivors with food and safety. She then travels to Arcadia, Alaska, but finds nothing but a field littered with hundreds of aircraft. After leaving herself another video log - something which she apparently does a lot - she is pounced upon by a wild looking woman, who we later discover to be her old friend Claire Redfield (Ali Larter). Claire has been drugged by a spider-looking implant on her chest and once she has been calmed, it becomes apparent that she has retrograde amnesia and cannot remember Alice, or even her own name. Alice ties Claire up, puts her in the back of her plane and flies back off on her hunt for survivors. After flying over many deserved and burnt streets, she spots a 'HELP US' sign on the roof of an old prison in Los Angeles. The prison is protected from the hordes of infected T-Virus victims by huge iron gates and, after landing her plane on the narrow roof of the building, Claire discovers that there are a small group of survivors holding up in the prison, including Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), a basketball star, Bennett (Kim Coates), a mutinous, opinionated movie director and Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller - who you may recognise from 'Prison Break'), Claire's brother (although she doesn't remember) who has been locked in a cell by the previous inmates of the prison as he was mistaken for a prison guard (ironic, Michael Scolfield?) while in his military uniform. Redfield states that he was combating the infected when he was locked up, but knows a way out of the prison. Eventually the team have no choice but to let Chris out after a giant, axe-wielding, jute-sack toting zombie brute breaks his way into the prison via the sewers and gatecrashes Alice during a shower (tough break for all you guys out there - Alice/Milla doesn't even have time to take her boots off for her shower before finding unwelcomed intruders). The story then follows the team's attempt to escape from the prison to the nearby ship, Arcadia; which is, they deduce, where the emergency broadcast has been sent from. *TRIES NOT TO CONTAIN SPOILERS* Without trying to give too much away, those that make it to the ship then come face to face with Wesker and his next generation of experiments and are forced into a 'Matrix'-esque battle for survival. There is also a nod towards a probable sequel. And from there I shall say no more. // 3D // I saw the film in my local cinema in Panasonic 3D, which, for me, didn't add anything to the plot itself and therefore I feel the 3D aspect is not particularly integral for the enjoyment of the film. If you're an action/gore fan, 3D might, however, be the way to go as the innumerable blood splatters and soaring bullets do look impressive when they're flying towards you. I can see how some of the film's 'wow-factor' would be lost in a 2D version of the film, however. The graphics and action sequences are well formed for 3D and if I were to watch it again, I'd probably see it in 3D, although mostly because for me, the novelty of 3D filming technology has not worn off. // MY OPINION // I rather enjoyed this film. Despite not having seen the other films in the series, I managed to catch on quite quickly, although, admittedly, it does help to have someone with you who has not only seen the films but also read the books and played the games religiously from the very beginning. There is quite an obvious target market for this film (as with the others, I expect). The ninja-style throwing stars slitting the throats of guards, the flesh-eating undead, the exploding penny bullets, the water-logged fight between the two main female characters of the film and the axe-wielder in which both women end up soaking wet and grunting as they battle (but still somehow have time to pose)... it's not exactly the most subtle of testosterone fuelled films is it? In spite of all the cleavage and explosions, however, I did find the plot engaging, and Paul W. S. Anderson (writer/producer/director) has done a superb job of putting together a film which is intensely gripping, terrifying (my boyfriend reported that I physically leapt out of my chair at one point when an unexpected zombie attack occurred), thrilling and action-packed. This is not a film that you will get bored while watching it, although I wouldn't exactly call the plot thought provoking (unless, of course, you begin to formulate a plan for handling a zombie, sorry, undead apocalypse). Also, whilst watching I did not only discover a few plot holes but also when the scenery wobbled in a fight scene, my 'suspension of belief' was somewhat thrown into turmoil. This is the sort of film that, for me, really can break a film. In this case however, these errors can be overlooked by anyone not out to really analyse the film. Also, I noticed a very strange on-screen chemistry between the Redfield siblings, even if one of them is supposed to be suffering from amnesia. It may have just been me, but I saw a tension between the two in the latter part of the film which struck me as being more like reluctant lovers than long-lost brothers and sisters. This definitely didn't sit right with the plot of the film for me. Otherwise, I felt the most of the actors each gave a competent, believable performance, even if the plot at times became a little easy to guess. Wesler, as a character, does seem to be a generic bad-guy and I had hoped that his character might have some sort of development during the film, or at least shown some depth or actual personality (other than 'I'm a mean person, but still cool', although I may have missed something in this character by not seeing the other films. He also struck me at times to be a carbon copy of 'Neo' from the 1999 film 'The Matrix' with his dark sunglasses and long black, jacket and his ability to duck, dive and somersault around speeding bullets. Jovovich's character on the other hand, did show light and dark, exposing a fear and sadness in the character during her monologues to her video camera, although this does taper off once she really gets in to fighting off the undead. // CONCLUSION // I'm not exactly sure I'd be willing to pay a great deal for the DVD, but if I come across the film on TV one day, I will most likely watch it again (and not just because I have formulated a little bit of a girl-crush on Jovovich). This film has made me want to see the first three films in the series, as well as the rumoured fifth film. // SUMMARY // A worth-while see, but if you're looking for a chick-flick love story, you're barking up the wrong tree. *THIS REVIEW CAN ALSO BE FOUND ON MY BLOGSPOT PAGE: 'SOPHIE'S WORLD'*
OVERVIEW: The 'Twilight' series has shot to fame in the last few years becoming one of the most successful series of books, and subsequently films, of recent years. 'Twilight' the movie, released 2008 became one of the highest grossing box office hits of that year and the soundtrack quickly became just as successful, selling roughly 165,000 copies in it's first week of release. The soundtrack is an eclectic mix chosen by the movie's musical supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas. The standard edition of the CD contains 12 tracks, but 3 extra tracks are availiable when downloading from iTunes (including another song by Rob Pattinson - a definite selling point for many a Twi-hard), and 5 different tracks can be found on the Deluxe CD/DVD edition. COVER ART: The cover art for the Twilight OST is rather plain and no frills. The image used is that of Edward and Bella, as in the movie poster and the single disc DVD. If I hadn't have liked the film, I'm not sure I'd have picked up this album just by looking at the cover. TRACK-BY-TRACK: 1. Supermassive Black Hole // MUSE If you have read any of the books from Stephenie Meyer's 'Twilight' series, you may have noticed a few frequent occurances on her list of thank-yous. After scanning through the names of Meyer's family, management and friends you will have come across a list of Meyer's musical influences, most prominent of which appears to be Muse. It is apparent that Meyer finds this British rock band truly inspirational, and so it seems only fitting that one of their biggest tracks from recent years be included in this soundtrack. 'Supermassive Black Hole', originally released in 2006, is a mixture of heavy distortion guitars, deathly screams of 'Supermassive Black Hole!' and Matt Bellamy's usual haunting vocals. This is a pristine rock song and makes for a superb start to the soundtrack. A word of warning though: this song will be caught in your head for hours. 'Ooooooooh, you set my soul alight'... 2. Decode // PARAMORE This Grammy nominated song was penned by Paramore's lead vocalist, Hayley Williams especially for the film after Williams read, and subsequently fell in love with the storyline. The song itself is a cracker. Electric guitars compliment Williams' somewhat subdued singing in the initial verse. The track really begins to take shape, however, when it builds ominously to a shout-along chorus. This is a great pop-rock tune laden with feisty vocals, tot-notch lyrics and guitar and drum instrumentation ripe for some sort of air tribute. This is Paramore at it's rock-out best. 3. Full Moon // THE BLACK GHOSTS 'When the thorn bush turns white, that's when I'll come home...' The opening bars to this the song echo as the opening bars of music in the film. It is this prominent position in the film, however, that makes me tend to skip this track. The initial musical motif if repeated throughout the song to a drum machine and strings backing track, but, unfortunatly the building layers still leave the track with something missing. Don't get me wrong, this song fits in perfectly in the film, but alongside powerhouse bands like Muse and Paramore, this song falls by the wayside a little. For me, this song doesn't translate well outside of the movie. 4. Leave Out All The Rest // LINKIN PARK If, like me, the only Linkin Park track you'd ever heard before this one was 'Numb', you'll hopefully be pleasantly suprised by their latest offering. LOATR is a dark tune with smooth, breathy vocals in the verses leading to an all out alt-rock explosion in the chorus. A great choice for this compilation. 5. Spotlight // MUTEMATH This is a high-octane, jump-around-your-living-room track which made me want to go out and download the whole of the MuteMath back catalogue. A fantastic rock song from a band which deserves all the exposure this soundtrack has given it! 6. Go All The Way (Into The Twilight) // PERRY FARRELL 'TONIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT, LIIIIIIGHTNING STRIIIIIIIIIKES!' Anyone who has seen the film will recognise this track as the upbeat disco pop tune which blasts out as Bella arrives at the prom. This track seems somewhat askew from the rest of the album, with an electro-pop feel opposing it's neighbours more alt rock style. It's a killer track if you like that sort of thing, but unfortunatly this tune just isn't my cup of tea. 7. Tremble for my Beloved // COLLECTIVE SOUL This is a hugely happy tune with an explosive 90's feel... Hardly shocking as this song was initially released as an opening track to CS's 1997 album 'Dosage', but you know what they say: the old songs are the best. And this one's a belter. A hidden gem on the movie's soundtrack, the energy brought by Collective Soul's 'Tremble for my Beloved' is bound to have your head bobbing to the bouncing electric guitars. A perfect song for a bright, sunny day. 8. I Caught Myself // PARAMORE The second offering from Hayley Williams and co. comes in the form of 'I Caught Myself'. This is a good pop-rock tune but is lacking a little of the 'POW!' from 'Decode'. Worth a listen, but I admit, I will skip this track more often than not. 9. Eyes On Fire // BLUE FOUNDATION This track is moody, dark, catchy and very distinctive. From the opening bars of deep, grungy guitar, the lazy drumming to the husky but somewhat child-like vocals of lead singer Kirstine Stubbe Teglbjærg. This song is far from ordinary but it fits in perfectly in the film's soundtrack (played as Bella waits for Edward in the car park in order to confront him). I had never heard of Blue Foundation before hearing this track, but now I know I definitely want to hear more. 10. Never Think // ROB PATTINSON Story goes that Catherine Hardwicke (Director of 'Twilight') heard about Pattinson's music through costar Kristen Stewart. She insisted on hearing the music for herself after Pattinson refused to give her a CD of his singing and they ended up in a friend's recording studio for hours. The end result was this song. Putting aside the fact that Pattinson appears on the bedroom wall of almost every teenage girl in the country from his acting rolse in the Harry Potter and Twilight films, this song serves to prove that Pattinson is, in fact, an extraordinarily talented musician. 'Never Think' is a slow, acoustic song in which Pattinson's guitar playing prowess is showcased alongside his haunting vocals. This is a beautiful yet melancholic track - I can only hope that this showcase might one day lead to a whole album from this very talented young man. 11. Flightless Bird, American Mouth // IRON + WINE This melodic walz was suggested for the film's soundtrack by Kristen Stewart (actress who plays Bella Swan). The track appears in the film as the final dance at the prom and even from hearing it in the film it was clear to me that this track deserves to be heard alone - this is no background music! Iron + Wine are a well established back, but despite their vast, beautifully presented back-catalogue of stunning songs, they are largely unknown to the mainstream market. Far from being just another filler track, 'Flightless Bird, American Mouth' is a soothing lullaby of a song containing lyrics of young love being lost and regained. This track is by far my favourite on this album. Simply captivating. Five stars. 12. Bella's Lullaby // CARTER BURWELL The soundtrack is rounded off by Bella's Lullaby, which contains the main recurring motif from the film's score. This is a beautiful piano piece, but unfortunatly, not what many fans had expected, myself included. In the novel Meyer describes Bella's Lullaby in such exquisite and intricate detail that I found upon listening to Burwell's beautifully moving piece, that something just wasn't right. However enchanting this track is, to me it just isn't Bella's Lullaby. The track is simplistic in it's melody and the piano flows majestically between moods, but I find, if you are a huge fan of the books, 'The River Flows in You' by Yiruma appears to be more in keeping with the song as described in the novel. PRICE & AVALIABILITY: Although the soundtrack is now 2 years old, it is still avaliable instore in most branches of hmv. I bought mine instore under the 2 for £10 offer, the cd alone being £7. The album can also be found online at: - amazon.co.uk: £4.99 - play.com: £4.99 - cdwow: £13.99 (overpriced!) - hmv.com: £8.99
Overview: Even if you aren't a 'Twihard', it's fair to say that the New Moon OST is easily one of the best stand-alone soundtracks of the past few years as the songs blend and contrast well enough without the images of the film. The mix includes tracks from rising stars, old favourites and hidden talents. There are a few 'custon-written' tracks and some remixes which work well together to create a firecracker of a soundtrack. Track by track: 1. Meet Me on the Equinox - Death Cab for Cutie This is a satisfying start to the album. I'd not heard too many Death Cab songs before hearing this (a couple of 'I Will Follow You Into The Dark' covers and a small clip of 'I Will Possess Your Heart'), and to be honest, after listening to this track I don't think I'll be running out to buy their albums. 'Meet Me on the Equinox' is a New Moon exclusive track (as it was apparently written just for the film, it isn't featured in any 'Death Cab' albums) and the lyrics tie in to the whole Twilight saga story quite well. The song begins with U2-reminiscent guitars ringing out in a welcoming fanfare but after the few bars everything that isn't the chorus fades to a repetitive, uninspiring noise. Don't get me wrong, this track's ok and the chorus should get you doing some air-drumming, but the best is definitely yet to come on this album. 2. Friends - Band of Skulls I keep forgetting this song is on this album, if I'm honest. It's a great little track with a heavier, grungier guitar feel than other tracks featured on the soundtrack. This song was initially dropped from Band of Skulls' album 'Baby Darling Doll Face Honey' with had been released earlier in 2009, but after being used on this soundtrack has warranted the release of it's own self-titled EP (released in March 2010). The track has an edgy vibe and is enjoyable, but not my favourite track on the album. 3. Hearing Damage - Thom Yorke This 'In Rainbows'-esque track Radiohead's front man Thom Yorke is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. If you're not a fan of Radiohead's most recent offerings, Yorke's solo work and indeed this dark, electronic piece, may not appeal to you. For me, however, Yorke's vocals, heavily laden with reverb though they are, provide a strange and different mood to this soundtrack. It's worth a listen and unquestionably stands out from the pack (if you pardon my wolf-based pun). 4. Possibility - Lykke Li It is said that Lykke Li (known to her family as Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson) was asked quite early on if she would contribute to the soundtrack of 'The Twilight Sage: New Moon', but was by and large unenthusiastic about the offer. It was not until she saw an early cut of 'The Twilight Sage: New Moon' that Li was inspired by the story to create 'Possibility'... and how inspired she must have been! Having downloaded her song 'Little Bit' as a free iTune some time ago, when I saw Li's name on the track listing for this album, I was intrigued to see how her child-like vocals would react alongside the other artists on the mix but once again this Swedish songstress fails to disappoint with this ethereal and melancholic piece. With a perfect mix of breathy verses and strong choruses, this song provides an excellent highlight for this album. This is perfect listening for a bit of self-reflective down-time. 5. A White Demon Love Song - The Killers If you have seen New Moon you can easily be forgiven for not remembering this track. It doesn't actually appear in the main film, but instead in the credits. This track has a spooky feeling for the first minute and a half especially and it is probably because of this uneasy sound that I tend to skip it. This song is yet to feature on a 'Killers' album and, to be honest, I'm not sure that it will. 'White Demon Love Song' is a far cry from the upbeat rock-pop of 'Hot Fuss' but suits the eerie edge of this film about blood-thirsty vampires. Fits in well with the soundtrack, but not exactly typical Killers... 6. Satellite Heart - Anya Marina This is a slow and serene track in which Marina's vocals create a lullaby feel. To me this song sounds like a sleepy and love sick version of Macy Gray - but I by no means mean that as a bad thing. It's a very likable part of the soundtrack and I eagerly await the arrival of more material by this very talented lady. This track gets better with every listen. 7. I Belong To You [New Moon Remix] - Muse Ah... the inevitable Muse track. Due to Meyer's love of this Devon-born band and her accreditation of their music in each of her books as her *ehem* muse, it is quickly becoming somewhat of a tradition to include a track of theirs on Twilight films' soundtracks. In this case, the track comes in the form of a remixed version of 'I Belong To You' (see track 8 of their album 'The Resistance' for the original). This track isn't your typical all-guns-blazing, electric-storm-type Muse extravaganza, but instead provides a heavy, pulsing beat to which Bellamy's signature vocals provide a melody so coloured with chromatics that it creates an almost eastern feel. This is a great tune from a great band. 8. Rosyln - Bon Iver & St. Vincent This song has a definite folk edge which conjures comparisons to bands such as Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons. Spectacularly haunting in both vocals and guitar. 9. Done All Wrong - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club 'Done All Wrong' is very much along the same folk lines of Rosyln, although this song has a more typically American feel buried somewhere in the harmonica and heavily accented voices. 10. Monsters - Hurricane Bells This, for me, is a standout track. Distorted guitar riffs accompanied by a bouncing melodic line create a joyous rock-pop anthem. Certainly not bad for a song discarded by Steve Schiltz's (AKA 'Hurricane Bells') band 'Longwave' and posted to a myspace.com page as a last resort. (FYI, he has now recorded a 10-track album under 'Hurricane Bells' entitled 'Tonight Is The Ghost', but this song will not feature on that album.) 11. The Violet Hour - Sea Wolf Anyone who has seen the film will recognize this track from Bella's birthday party, but this song appears on the soundtrack with a happy, uplifting, incredibly bouncing vibe. This is easily my favourite song on the album. Five stars! 12. Shooting the Moon - OK Go OK Go's contribution is a kitschy, acoustic guitar driven number featuring a refrain with a space-y twist. Definitely worth a listen. 13. Slow Life - Grizzly Bear feat. Victoria Legrand 'Slow Life' slows (*duh*) the tempo down again with a fascinating and unusual sound. The eerie, echoing voice of Legrand floats alongside electronic twinkles and plinky-plonky plucked guitar to produce this charming track. It appears in the film as Bella begins to drown and, to me, even without the visual aid of the film, this atmospheric piece takes the mystical, unknown feel of the alien world that lies in the ocean and plants it delicately in the listener's mind. This track is, to quote Aqualung, 'Strange & Beautiful'. 14. No Sound but the Wind - Editors Previously unreleased, 'No Sound but the Wind' offers dirge-like piano chords under strong, echoing vocals. I can see how this song could be called inspirational by some people, but for me it is lacking melody-wise and I tend to skip it more often than not. There is very little joy hidden in this track. 15. New Moon [The Meadow] - Alexandre Desplat The soundtrack is bought to a close by a piece from the score of the film. It is a haunting, piano driven piece which flows beautifully between major and minor keys to create an outstanding theme. Think Yann Tiersen's 'Amelie' score for this piece. A simply stunning composition. Price, Value for Money and Avaliability: The New Moon Soundtrack is available from most music stores for little more than the cost of a Large Big Mac Meal (amazon.co.uk and hmv.com are now selling it for £4.99), and it is definitely the healthier, and as far as I'm concerned, smarter option. It is a beautiful composition which works out at about 33p per track. Great value.
I was first given a Barry M eye pencil as a twelfth birthday present by a male friend who thought I'd benefit from bit of colour on my face. Despite his cheek, the kohl pencil quickly became the staple of my make up bag, especially the gray and black colours. To be honest, I now rarely leave the house without it. The kohl pencil is perfect for creating the 'smoky eye' look, as the nib is very soft. It allows you to draw on thick, dark lines which are easily pulled out and smudged to perfection. However, if you are trying to create fine, definite, controlled lines, this pencil may not be the best one for you. It is difficult to draw thin lines and without thickening the line it can wear off very quickly. The pencil's good for lining the top lash line and if like me you are hopeless with liquid eyeliner, the pencil can be sharpened thin enough to enable you to practice the 'bat wing' flicks from the corners of your eyes. By using the pencil rather than a liquid you get the darkness of the liquid without the risk of getting liquid in your eyes. In saying this, the pencil does not create a line as solid and as definite as that of a liquid eyeliner and if you touch the corner of your eyes at any point the flicks will smudge and can leave your fingers looking very dirty - so try not to touch it! I've also realised that no matter how thickly the kohl pencil is applied, with just a little water the colour will rub off. This is especially noticable on the 'ledge' of the eye (the bit of your lower lid which is above the lash line). As this part of the eye is often moist in order to lubricate the eye in blinking, when applying the pencil there for a darker line to make your eyes 'pop', it lasts for little over an hour (unless you cry, and which case it's gone in seconds), making it necessary to continually reapply. My favourite of the colours is the black as I find it provides the darkest coverage of any of the other eyeliners, but there are many other colours avaliable from metallic greens and golds to deep blues and purples. The metallic-y colours do not seem to show as well as the other colours and although you can see that you are wearing eyeliner, the colour is not as definite (I bought colour number 21, 'kiwi green', and it left my eye lid shiny, but not very green). This product is great value as it's cheap (£2 - £5 depending on where you shop - and, for some reason, the colours are placed at different prices on amazon) and lasts for literally ages provided you don't lose it(my first pencil lasted 2 years). You can also often get these products on special offers like 3 for 2 from high street stores so they're worth shopping around for. Avaliability-wise, this product can be found in high-street stores such as Boots and Superdrug as well as online at amazon.co.uk and from Barry M's website itself for £2.95 per pencil at barrym.com/kohl-pencils. Overall, I think this is a really good product. The competitive price and range of choice makes it a great choice for anyone on a budget. I'd recommend this problem despite it's smudgy downfalls.
After dying my hair red for the umpteenth time with a somewhat unreliable colourant, my hair quickly began to fade back to it's natural dull-brown colour. I looked around for a shampoo which promised to enhance the shade in the hope that it would then save me from having to redye my hair. I bought a bottle of John Frieda's Radiant Red as I'd seen it on TV, and the advert had promised everything I wanted from the product. After a couple of washes I found that the shampoo had indeed made the red parts of my hair more shiny and vibrant in colour (the difference was especially striking in the sunlight) but sadly the product had little or no effect on how fast the colour on the rest of the hair was fading, resulting in bright red roots and tips and a mediocre colour elsewhere. I also found that, as a shampoo, this product let me down. Straight after use my hair looked fine but after a few hours my hair began to look heavy and greasy again. To be honest, it was as if I hadn't washed my hair at all. It became clear to me that if I were to continue using this product I'd have to wash my hair AT LEAST every day. On top of this, I discovered that it was actually rather difficult to squeeze the product from the tube. The shampoo is thick and viscous and you'll need a fiarly strong grip to get more than a small trickle out of the rather tiny hole. Although the attractive bottle, colour and smell appear to merit the somewhat lofty price tage (around £6 per bottle which, with daily washing really won't last much longer than a month), I honestly think that there are products which offer the same, if not better colour care, clean your hair more thoroughly and cost a fair bit less.
For some time now I have been somewhat addicted to the Barry M range of eyeshadows. They come in every colour under the sun, are pretty hard wearing and the pots last for years (provided you don't spill them). As far as I'm concerned, 'Dazzle Dust' leads the way for eyeshadows in commercial shops as far as value for money is concerned. Although the pots may not be the cheapest eyeshadows you'll find on the shelves of Boots or Superdrug, the pots offer quality products, a VAST range of choice from glittering silver to jet black powder and a substantial quantity, rather than the slither of pressed powder which is offered by supposed 'competing' products. The only real flaw that I've found in comparison to some of the other products on the market is that a lot of powder can be wasted in applying the product. If you use a brush, it can be tricky not to put too much on the brush, resulting in coloured cheeks from excess powder. If you use your fingers, the product can get stuck in the ridges of fingertips and under your nails which can look really nasty and lead to smudging on other parts of the face. However, for me, there is no competition. If you want a subtle shading for a winter's day or a bold as brass carnival of colour for a night out on the town, Barry M is the first and last word in eyeshadow.
It takes a truely significant brand to become synonomous with the description of the item. If you want to clean your house you'd probably get out a Hoover, not a vaccuum cleaner. If you want to leave a note you'd write it on a Post-It, not a sheet of adhesive paper. Similarly, if you've got dry lips and skin you'd probably not ask your chemist for 'petroleum jelly'. You'd ask for Vaseline. I've been, however unknowingly, been smothered in Vaseline since I was a baby, and when, over the last winter a severe case of dry, blistered cheeks and lips became increasingly painful, Vaseline was the first product I reached for. Vaseline Lip Therapy Rosy Lips has a delicately sweet scent (no doubt from the rose extracts contained in the recipe) and, with it's pale but striking pink sheen, leaves you ladies with absolutely no necessity to wear lip gloss. (Men, this product may not be for you, but there is a variety in a green topped tin with aloe vera extract. It's not as pungent and is colourless so you get all of the relief with none of the girlish side-effects) Needless to say, this tried and tested products helped to heal my cracked, sore skin and left my lips kissably soft. Vaseline lip care has many advantages over other products on the market, too. Another product I tried around the time was Blistex... and it did work, but the nature of the ingredients meant that I was advised to only apply the product 4 times a day. I found that after eating that product had disappeared entirely causing me to worry about what chemicals I'd just swallowed as well as how raw my lips quickly became. With Vaseline, I have no such reservations. You can apply the Lip Therapy as many times you like throughout the day and however liberally you feel is necessary with no severe consequences. (I found that by applying a large amount on and around my mouth overnight I acheived smooth, polished lips by the morning - almost like an intensive moisturising mask for my lips!) This product is small and compact, which means it fits really easily into a bag or pocket. I did have one problem with putting it my pocket, however. In keeping the tin so close to my skin, I found that after a few hours the jelly melted, making it a little difficult to apply without getting the product all over my fingers and getting too much around my mouth. Another problem is that the tin is not completely stable, and therefore easily bends and crumples if any pressure is applied to the lid or base, i.e. sat on (it's an unpleasant situation to find pink, melted jelly in your back pocket after a bus ride...) I would easily recommend this product if anyone suffers from dry or chapped lips or even if they were just looking for a light lip gloss. As it is avaliable in most places for under £2, it really is worth every penny.
Continuum, or more specifically 'Gravity', was my introduction to John Mayer's music (I had avoided him because of the tabloid tornado documenting his relationship with Jennifer Aniston - It seemed to me that if an artist was more famous than his music, his music couldn't be that good) and since listening to this album I have now downloaded his entire back catalogue. When I heard Mayer's silky smooth, blues-inspired guitar and soft, gravelly voice providing the background music for a youtube 'Grey's Anatomy' fanvid, it became instantly apparent that this was no background music. This was a song created by a musical craftsman. Much of the album creates a down-tempo feel: music to chill out and contemplate to. 'Slow Dancing in a Broken Room' portrays the heartbreaking moment where a couple teeter on the edge of splitting up while 'Stop This Train' reflects a moment of Mayer's awareness of aging. On the other hand, songs such as 'Waiting on the world to change' and the Hendrix cover 'Bold As Love' help to perk up the album, with brighter shades of mood. Many of the song's lyrics prove infinitely personal, documenting fear of mortality, disillusionment with global politics and religion and regaining confidence after a break-up, and it is these emotions that are so obviously poured in to Mayer's expert guitar playing. Whatever you may have read about Mayer in the tabloids and despite his occaisional social faux-pas, this album makes it clear that he certainly knows how to sculpt a magnificent album.
+ Overview: In the 10 years since the original 'Jagged Little Pill' grabbed theworld by the throat and shouted angrily in it's face, Alanis' style has obviously matured and in this acoustic version of the 90s classic, this maturity certainly shows. Jagged Little Pill Acoustic is a beautiful, more laid back approach to some of Alanis' classics, the album containing much warmer, ear-friendly versions of her international hits 'Head Over Feet', 'Hand In My Pocket', 'You Oughta Know' and, of course, 'Ironic'. The album is thoroughly relaxing, making it the perfect soundtrack for a walk on a crisp, autumn day or a quiet night's drive. It is, however, clear that there is a slight something amiss... The angsty lyrics of songs like 'Not The Doctor' and 'Right Through You' seem a little misplaced with Alanis' new found sugar-sweet singing style, but what the album loses in raw edge, it gains in sheer artistry. 'Head Over Feet' becomes the ballad that the lyrics suggest it always should have been and 'Your House', the hidden track becomes utterly haunting with it's new found piano accompaniment. + Album art: I like the concept of the album art for JLP Acoustic. In essence, the original album cover has been copied and pasted in a sepia tone and the word 'acoustic' added to the bottom. However, if you look closely, it is apparent that the photos have been reshot with a slightly older looking, but altogether more serene, smiling Alanis. The more mellow colours of the cover seem to reflect the new more mellow sound inside. + Brief Track-by-Track: 1. All I Really Want. This song provides a steady, up-beat introduction to the album. It has an Indian/sitar sounding opening which leads in to ... Not a bad opening to the album, but the best, for me, is yet to come. 2. You Oughta Know. This song was originally the first single from the Jagged Little Pill. In this version of the song, it does feel as if Alanis has began to grow past the pain of the messy breakup which she describes in the lyrics, as the relaxed, acoustic guitar and the far less staccato singing (rather than shouting) allow you to listen calmly to the story being detailed. Where the original version grabbed you by the neck and shouted in your face, this acoustic version calmly explains how she's been wronged... and then slams the door in your face (see the one expletive line in the song: you'll know what I mean). Generally, I do like this track. I see how some of the original appeal of this track has been lost, along with Alanis' angsty vocals, but it still remains a cracking tune. 3. Perfect. I like this song. I prefer it to the original and truly think that the vocals on this track are outstanding. The first few times of listening to the album I, admittedly, skipped this song. The beginning is slow and subdued and not at all what I had expected from Alanis, but upon giving the song a second and third chance I began to really appreciate what I was listening to. The song builds and twists as any good song should through a powerful bridge (with Alanis' somewhat trademark unintelligable lyrics) and finishes in a pool of mellow. A genuine suprising track for Alanis' vocal ability alone. 4. Hand In My Pocket. A soft sound of picked guitar, introduction of light, soothing vocals, a twinkling xylophone rings... I adore this track. It was the sole single from the album in America and I really can see why. The song is the ultimate 'sleepy-end-to-summers-day' track. Definitely a highlight of the album. 5. Right Through You. This is another example of angry lyrics coupled with a simple, laid back style. However, with this track Alanis' vocals still pack a meaningful punch. The inclusion of violins to this track are genius, in my opinion. they help the track go from smooth, sliding lines to more gutsy ones with ease. 6. Forgiven. I never used to like the original version of this song. I didn't get it. The lyrics didn't match with the song and I found Alanis' vocals somewhat questionable. Having listened to the acoustic version with some trepidation, I was pleasantly suprised by what I heard. This song reminds me of a fountain, not just because of the lyrics 'If I jump in this fountain, will I be forgiven?'. The opening bars sound, to me, like a waters ripple, with an echoing guitar playing with a slight Spanish inflection and brushed cymbles, however the rest of the song is not so peaceful. Although the somewhat spanish-sounding guitar continues throughout, the chorus builds up, and as the initial album showed us, Alanis knows how to do gusto. This song is a real grower. 7. You Learn. This song is ultimatly not a whole lot different to the original. The more matured vocals sings the song with a air of experience and the acoustic guitar compliments this voice well. A nice track, but nothing suprising. 8. Head Over Feet. This is easily my favourite track on this album. The song begins with just Alanis and a piano, and to be honest I'd have been contented for it to continue without any additional accompaniment, but in comes subtle drums and strummed guitar and the song becomes a light, bright declaration of love... It's a far cry from the angry 'You Oughta Know' of 1995. This song really suits a more mellow setting and it has become, for me, the pinnacle of the album with it's happy vibes. 9. Mary Jane. In 'Mary Jane', the tempo of the album is grounded to a slow, lullaby-esque, waltzing pace. Alanis' vocals are both solid and sweet. This is very much a song to contemplate to. A very worthy track. 10. Ironic. If you ask anyone to name a song by Alanis Morissette, 9 times out of 10 they will say 'Ironic' and whine along to the lyrics 'It's liiike raaayyyeeeeaaaaaiiiiinnnnnn... on your wedding day!'. Chances are though, they've never heard it like this. The first couple of bars sound almost identical to the original... After all, why should she change too much of this song? It seems silly to mess with something which was so popular in the first place. This song definitely benefits from the smoother singing style and there are a few other differences (notably in Alanis' little trick on whoever is inevitably warbling along to the line 'meeting the man of my dreams and meeting his beautiful wife'. You'll have to listen to it to see what I mean though, I don't want to spoil the joke!)... But as the song progresses you will notice that the whole thing has been brought down a few notches and the excitement scale. This is an iconic track with very little differences made from the original. A little disappointing if you were expecting something new, but by no means is this track a bad one. 11. Not The Doctor. This track's intro sounds very much like that of 'All I Really Want' for a couple of bars but then breaks into the main tune of the verse. Alanis' vocals are once again good, but this is another track that I will, more often than not, skip. It seems to missing the 'wow' factor that is, in my opinion, prevalent in so many of the other tracks. 12. Wake Up. This song reminds me a lot of 'Not The Doctor' in the fact that I feel it's missing something special. The chorus is smooth and melodic, but really there is some of the power and meaning lost in the translation between the original and the acoustic versions. Once again, it's an alright track, but when placed in amongst such fireworks, this track is a little more of a fizzle than a bang. 13. Your House (Hidden Track). I'm so glad that this hidden track was included in with the reworking of this album. The lyrics are so beautiful but take a melancholic turn and the acoustic guitar only adds to the mood of what was previously a track recorded a cappella. This is a bewitching way to close the album. Ten stars for this one. Even if it is only out of five. + Avaliability & Price: This CD is not commonly found on the high street anymore. Although you could go in to hmv and order it in, it's much simpler (and cheaper) to buy it from one of the numerous internet media sites. hmv.com will sell it to you for £7.99, listing the RRP as £15.99, but amazon.co.uk offers the CD for under a fiver, with numerous outside sellers offering the CD as new for just over £1. + Conclusion: Overall I love this album. This album is definitely worth the £4.99 that amazon is now selling it for. Well done, Alanis. I can't wait to see what she does on Jagged Little Pill's 20th anniversary.
Being a HUGE Delta Goodrem fan, when she first announced the arrival of her third album, I immediately preordered it to have it imported from Australia and then again from America when I found the track listings were slightly different. Upon listening it's clear to see that Delta, along with her music, has matured immensly from her debut 'Innocent Eyes', and this album, 'Delta', appears as an amalgamation of the harder, more heartfelt songs of 'Mistaken Identity' and the catchy, poppy tunes of 'Innocent Eyes'. The album contains happy, summery songs ('Possessionless' now being a staple of summer playlists on my iPod), a striking bubblegum pop anthem in track five, 'You Will Only Break My Heart', as well as the newer sounds of 'Bare Hands', which has a darker, more electronic edge. I have to admit, however, that the album underwhelmed me somewhat. Upon reading the inner leaflet I found that my favourite track on the album 'The Guardian', a piano driven ballad which reminded me somewhat of an acoustic 'Lost Without You' and overall seemed very Delta-ish, was not written by Delta herself, but chosen as a 'filler' track after she realised that there were no real piano ballads on this album - the very style which earned her such fame in 2003 with 'Innocent Eyes' and 'Not Me, Not I'. Tracks such as 'In this Life' (the first single from the album in Australia), 'One Day' and 'Brave Face', although obviously from the lyrics very personal, seem under-par and insignificant in comparison to the lead track on the album, 'Believe Again', which introduces the album in an immense wave of strings and haunting vocals. 'I Can't Break It To My Heart' creates an heartfelt, post-breakup mood but initially sounds strangely like another track on the album, 'Woman'. Overall, from a fan's perspective, it seemed to me that Delta's album just seemed a little... un-Delta. Having taken almost 4 years in the making, I'm afraid to say that I expected a little more from Delta. Although 'Believe again' promises a knockout of an album, I fear the inclusion of Delta's claim to fame 'Born To Try' may just show her lack of confidence in this new material. I loked the album, but it wasn't the Delta that I had come to know.
Playing this game was one of the most fun gaming experiences I've had since multiplayer Crash Team Racing on the original Play Station. You begin by playing as Harry or Hagrid to collect coins and other treasure in order to unlock new characters and attend lessons to learn spells to tackle Boggarts and Dementors alike. The game is, quite obviously not really intended for the most serious of gamers and, unfortunately for die-hard Potter fans, some parts of the plot are completely glossed over, but Lego Harry Potter does SPELL (*bad pun*) out a tremendous amount of fun if you don't take it too seriously. Also, it's good if you want to earn some easy trophies. The game's quite user-friendly, as I found I picked up the controls fairly quickly after spending the last 7 years with an Xbox controller in my hands instead of that of it's Sony conterpart, although switching between spells can be confusing at times... and it took a very long time to master the art of flying! The LEGO aspect of the game is ingenius. Having never played a LEGO console game before, I was unsure what to expect from the game but I was soon in awe of the concept. The on-screen characters are pleasingly true to their physical LEGO counterparts and LEGO Crookshanks and Fang certainly pump up the cute factor. The storyline is good, but there is a glitch in the game that makes it very difficult to move on from a certain section (the dragon dungeon) without finding some sort of 'cheat' online (you have to use Herminone/Crookshanks to get out which is no help if you aren't playing as them when you go down there!). Until a patch is fixed, I'm sure this glitch will make the game near-on impossible to complete without seeking online help. Also, in some parts of the game certain spells do not work easily and Lego bricks don't snap together properly when using spells on them which can get pretty frustrating. I could understand that to a young player, a glitch meaning they are stuck on a level would lead to them getting bored with the game, or upset that the game isn't working properly... Not really hat you want from a game you have to fork out over £30 for. I will be buying this game for the Wii as that it my own console and be writing a review about the difference in controls, no doubt, but until then I shall pester my boyfriend again in order to spend some more time in the magical wonderland that is LEGO Harry Potter: Year 1-4. Overall this is a very good game, but at the moment it is quite expensive for me. It is still over £30 in the supermarkets, game shops and online, which I guess is about average for a new game but it is a lot of money to pay out if you are not sure about liking the game or don't think you will play it often.
I shall preface my review by saying that Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse are three of the most captivating books I have ever read. I began thinking that the screaming tweens who were falling over themselves to buy the next book and watch the next film could only mean one thing: a vacant storyline about hot guys and a girl caught between the two... Same old, same old. After reading the novels I found that the storylines run much, much deeper than that. The saga contains the trials and tribulations of any ordinary girl in love aswell as dealing with the issue of personal control, restrictions and sociological perceptions of what is right and wrong. After devouring the first 3 books, I ordered the last book and watched the postman come and go with much anticipation before the book finally arrived. I like Meyer's use of different character perspectives in the novel (and after seeing the hype surrounding the leaked copy of Midnight Sun have become eager for Meyer to lift her embargo on completing the piece and for it to be published), and of course the character descriptions are more vivid than ever despite a prominent lack of evolution in writing style, but imagine my disappointment when the longest of all the books contained very little story and instead found that there are many pages in the novel where very little actually happens. As for the love triangle, *and I'm trying not to contain spoilers here*, I found it's resolution unsatisfying. Jacob's emotions change so fast that I found it played on my mind about the reality of his emotions in the previous books. The book is, of course, a must read if you've read the rest of the saga, and there are definitely some gems contained within the text of the work, but I found the overall resolution to the series somewhat of a let down. Breaking Dawn is just not as memorable as Meyer's other vampire page-turners.
Schwartzkopf have, no doubt, managed to create the largest collection of intense, shocking hair colourants under a trusted name and their constant production of new colours and formulae are a testimony to how popular the brand has become. Almost everyone I know and have spoken to about their coloured hair have, at some point or another, used Schwartzkopf's Live and love the colour it gives. Having used Live Colour XXL myself on and off for the last 4 years, I have always found that the permanent colourant has had the same effect: beautiful, shiny, vibrant colour for the first 3 or 4 weeks which then fades quickly leaving patches of seemingly undyed hair. I have quite dark brown hair and very pale skin and therefore am limited to the colours of the collection that I can use without using bleach or just looking odd, so I generally stick to reds and red-browns. I have generally found that, although the red colour can linger in some parts of my hair even after it has been redyed (generally the drier tips of the hair), it is unreliable for good all-over coverage in spite of the vibrant, rich colours that are shown on the box. One colour in particular, the 'XXL red black' I found produced a colour which looked no more like the colour on the box than my hair had before I had dyed it.
After watching Marley & Me in the cinema (and sobbing most of my way through it), I seized the opportunity to buy the book it was based on while it was on special offer in a local bookshop. In the evening it took me to read (300-ish pages is easily devoured when they contain such a beautiful story) I laughed out loud (causing various members of my family to ask me to repeat what I had just read) and sobbed uncontrollably as Grogan records Marley's growth from a naughty puppy to a greying 'old boy' with such detail that the story resonates alarmingly with anyone who has ever owned, or known, a playful pup. Grogan's account of his home life is explicit in its portrayal that the pain and playtime in the Grogan household are recreated so finely that the reader cannot help but fall in love with not only Marley but the rest of the family too. The book itself is fairly short and easy to read. It is comprised of 29 chapters, which are all fairly short. This is good because it allows you to pick it up and put it down after 5 or 10 minutes reading - perfect for a tea-break at work where a little comic relief is needed. The language used is poetic but not too complex, and there has even been 2 children's versions released: one, 'Marley: A Dog Like No Other', is similar, but skips over the sexual content of the tale; and two, 'Bad Dog, Marley!', which is a picture book meant for young, primary age children. This means that Marley is avaliable for the whole family to enjoy! The content isn't, however, entirely focussed on Marley, which makes the story more than readable for people who wouldn't exactly class themselves as 'dog people'. Grogan's family life is what makes this biography so touching. It follows the young family through some harrowing ordeals (miscarriage and a local stabbing) and these heavy subjects are dealt with in such a tasteful but honest manner that there is no choice but to feel a bite of the pain which the family have dealt with. Having said this, this tale is not one of sorrow and sadness, but of joy and happiness, as these dark events are counterbalanced by Marley's excited antics. From the moment he is introduced to the house it becomes clear that Marley, although fiercly loyal, is somewhat of a trouble-maker. After chewing his way through dry-wall and riding a washing machine, Marley's character is enough to make anyone chuckle. The fact that the book is told in such a personal way is what makes it special for me. Through Groban's descriptions and detail, he brings the reader into the heart of his home and points out the delicate intricacies of family relations. To be honest, the story was so well-told that I felt like I knew John and Jenny, and that I too had lost Marley. Another really nice touch for me was the photos which my edition of the book contained. The centre pages are occupied with images of Marley throughout his life, which really helps to tie the story to reality. I really feel that in seeing these photos, I really began to understand that this story is not a work of fiction as I could see the adorable miscreant growing old in the mini-scrapbook. Overall, this autobiography is more happy, sad, touching and compelling than any book that I've read in a while. At times, the story is stomach-muscle-achingly funny and at other tear-jerkingly painful. I'm sure it won't be long before I read this again.