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since 30/11/-0001


Bringing Out The Dead (DVD) 26/05/2001

Refreshingly original

Bringing Out The Dead (DVD) Scorcese's Bringing out the dead comes as a breath of fresh air against a background of American "gross out" drivel and convoluted cockney gangster rubbish. The film is brilliantly shot, the sleazy environs of the hospital hark back to the streets Travis Bickle wanted to sweep the scum off. In many ways Cage's character is similar to De Niro's in taxi driver. Both characters feel the desparation of the city a little too deeply, while others just get on with their jobs. Both characters eventually take the law into their own hands. Although the ambulanceman's act of euthanasia is a little less dramatic than Bickle's purge of the pimps, the suspense sustained throughout the film meant that Cage's actions came across as no less momentous. The ambulanceman's story alone would not be sufficient to sustain the audience's interest and therefore the script is embellished with some very funny one liners and some very amusing characters (or possibly charicatures). Cast-wise the film is very strong. The eery Cage looks as though he's just been exhumed and does well not to overplay the part with undue histrionics. Patricia Arquette does well to maintain the awkward relationship with Cage and there are excellent cameo roles from John Goodman, Ving Rhames and the actor who plays the psychotic ambulance driver (his name escapes me). The message at the end of the film is somewhat confusing. Cage's act of euthanasia seems to lead to him getting the girl and everything being happy ever ...

Monty Python's Life Of Brian (DVD) 24/02/2001

He's not the messiah he's a very naughty boy

Monty Python's Life Of Brian (DVD) This is one of the funniest films of all time. It's hard to imagine today the fuss that was kicked up on its release by various prudish religious groups as the humour is quite harmless. Although it is based loosely on the story of Jesus the amusement comes mainly from the Python team's keen eye for the surreal and a satirical view of the past rather than any petty snipes at Christianity. This film is so funny that you can watch it again and again. Some of the finest moments in this film are wonderfully purile. For me the greatest scene is that with Pontius Pilate and his speech impediment. You can't explain why this is funny but it is absolutely hillarious. More historical moments include, what have the Romans ever done for us? and the disorganised Judean people's front or is it the People's front of Judea? In my opinion this was Monty Python's finest hour, narrowly overshadowing the dead parrot sketch and the Holy Grail. I think it's better than the Holy Grail because the story runs throughout the film more strongly. Although like the Holy Grail it can easily be seperated into sketches. ...

X FM - 104.5 X FM 18/02/2001

London's former alternative

X FM - 104.5 X FM A few years ago London radio station Xfm won its long battle for a permanent place on the capital's airwaves. It's tagline and major selling point was that it was London's only alternative. This boast was justifiable as in its infancy it promised to breath fresh air into the stale radio scene. Dominated by boybands and other spectacularly dull groups the capital's music scene was woefully misrepresented on the radio. It also had the extra bonus of providing an escape from the mindless cretins who dominate most radio stations' programming schedules. Filling up a few hours everyday with inane chatter interspersed by two songs an hour. More talk than music is not bad in itself, indeed it can work very well with djs who are actually funny on occasion, for example Chris Moyles and formerly on Xfm, Ricky Gervais. Gervais, was a strangely everpresent figure on the old Xfm. Not only did he have his own hillarious show with his mate Steve Merchant on Sunday afternoons (for those who saw Gervais' chat show Merchant was the tall, unsettling man in charge of the programme) but he made numerous appearances during other djs shows putting them off with his own brand of humour (i.e. bad taste humour). Then, disaster struck, the cash-strapped heads of Xfm were unable to resist the opulent overtures of the satanic beast that is Capital fm. That was it as far as the alternative tag went, Gervais was out and so was the wide ranging and playlist. Capital fm managed to ...

Tottenham Hotspur 11/02/2001

Up for the cup

Tottenham Hotspur Watching the cup match against Charlton a week ago I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Almost exactly the same side who had performed so spinelessly in the 0-0 draw between the two sides at White Hart Lane not a week managed to score four goals. Even more remarkable than this however was the fact Spurs had come from two goals down. Anyone who has seen Spurs away this season will know that the usual reaction to going a goal down is to roll over and hope that the opposition take pity and don't score too many. A main factor in the transformation however was the colossal performance by Gary Docherty. A defender by trade Docherty's versatility has been a great asset to injury riddled Spurs in recent weeks. A towering six footer Docherty's commitment to the cause has never been in doubt but on Wednesday need he added to this a performance of some skill. He was instrumental in the first goal, turning his man with ease he charged into the box and his teasing cross was turned in by the unwitting Richard Rufus. Another important factor was the long awaited comeback of Norway international, Oyvind Leonardsen. Leonardsen tore a hamstring a few months back in a game against Derby when he was playing outstandingly well, having already scored two it was only a question of when he would complete his hat-trick. With Leonardsen back in the side a very one-paced midield looked full of running and he capped his performance with a great finish. However for any Spurs fan the most ...

Funky President (The Very Best Of James Brown Vol.2) - James Brown (Soul) 11/02/2001

the hardest working man in showbusiness

Funky President (The Very Best Of James Brown Vol.2) - James Brown (Soul) Funky President is a collection of the godfather of soul's slightly lesser known compositions. Don't be led into thinking however that there is any compromise on quality. This is an official best of released by Polydor records, none of the cheap rubbish you find in the bargain bin at your local record shop, which sounds like it's been recorded live on a dictaphone. James Brown is not a singer so much as a conductor, backed by an extraordinarily talened group of musicians, the JBs, Brown leads from the front. He not so much sings as directs, for example on funky drummer when he prophesises "Take me into the change" leading up to the break. The breaks themselves are truly awesome, interrupting some funky groove or other like a lightning bolt and introducing a new, usually more laid back riff. The musicianship is quite simply breathtaking, the guitar (used as an instrument of rhythm) cuts like a knife, chopping on extremely irregular beat pattern while the bass thumps hypnotically and occasional swirls of hammond organ cover everything in glorious sunshine. The irrepressible Brown is at his best on songs like the blaxploitation inspired, The Payback where he comes across as every bit the tough gangster "I can do wheeling,I can do dealing, but I don't do no damn squealing". The best song on the album however is the truly majestic Funky Drummer. A hypnotic trumpet riff is clothed in august hammond organ and supported by staccato rhythmguitar. ...

Velvet Underground & Nico/Velvet Underground - Velvet Underground (The) 10/02/2001

The dark side of the sixties.

Velvet Underground & Nico/Velvet Underground - Velvet Underground (The) The Velvet Underground and Nico was the first album from the most influential band in the world.........ever! This unlikely crew was brought to the public's attention (or not as was mostly the case by Andy Warhol). Led by Lou Reed a former production line songwriter the band included John Cale an incredibly talented classical musician trained in the avantgarde, Maureen Tucker, a superbly unconventional drummer and Sterling Morrison, a great guitarist. And of course they were joined by one of the remarkable voices ever recorded, that of Nico. Diametrically opposed to the hippy movement simultaneously sweeping America, Reed sang of the seedier side of life. He wrote about all the problems of the sprawling metropolis that hitherto no one dared touch, he wove superb tales of junkies, dealers and god knows what else. But what really set Reed apart was his lack of judgement. He was painting a picture of the way things were rather than getting on his high horse with some social comment. The album feels as fresh today as it must have done to the lucky few who heard it at the time. The music bristles with a rare energy, notably on the barnstorming Waiting for the man and Reed's touchingly autobiographical Heroin. Venus in Furs shimmers with sinister suggestiveness, as Reed seethes "Taste the whip, now bleed for me". There are certainly brighter moments however, with the anthemic all tomorrows paries and my favourite song on the album, Sunday Morning. Sunday ...

Little Kix - Mansun 10/02/2001

Its electric man

Little Kix - Mansun Mansun's third album marks yet another metamorphosis for the changing men. From a harder guitar led sound on Attack of the Grey Lantern to the epic proportions of Six to this album which is their most pop album yet. The first single, I can only disappoint you promised much from the knew album. The catchy piano hook and some superb vocals confirmed that Mansun are still a long way ahead of the other indie hopefuls. The album itself however was somewhat harder to fathom. It's one of those albums that grow on you, for the first fortnight or so my feelings towards it were no more than indifference. But oncce I had acclimatised to the fact that it was not going to be another six (in my opinion their best album) I began to like it. Paul Draper has certainly capitalised on his talent for anthemic string arrangements, paricularly on the refulgent soundtrack 4 2 lovers. The third single Fool is pure pop bliss with doo wop style harmonised backing vocals and a great build up to the chorus. For my part I thought that electric man was a poor choice for the second single as it is one of the weaker links on the album. Mansun's new direction has however come at a cost, although most songs are well-written the album as a whole is woefully over-produced. All possible sharp edges which could have brightened up the album have been removed and what is left is a little too sanitised for my liking. A good effort nonetheless and I look forward to the rumoured release of a solo album ...

Enter The Dragon (Box Set) (DVD) 09/02/2001

cool kung fu

Enter The Dragon (Box Set) (DVD) Enter the Dragon is probably the best known film made by the remarkable talent that was Bruce Lee. The first actor to make the transition from the east to Hollywood Lee looked to have a long and illustrious career ahead of him before his untimely death which has been the subject of endless amounts of speculation. With any other actor the plot of this film may have been too weak. However as a vehicle for Lee's spectacular art it works very well. Put simply(and it is relatively simple) the James Bond-style plot runs as follows. Some British secret agency which seems to conduct its business out of a small room in Stepney have detected something fishy going on, on a remote island off Hong Kong. They have therefore enlisted the well known skills of Mr.Lee to see what the evil mastermind Han is up to (no doubt he is harbouring plans for world domination). Conveniently Lee has the perfect opportunity to go snooping around as the reclusive Han is hosting a kung fu tournament. The tournament comprises some great characters from the brusque New Zealander to the suave but hapless Mr. Roper. What ensues is a great kung fu tournament closely followed by that old martial arts film favourite the fight between two or three main characters and seemingly endless numbers of gormless enemies. Lee's acting although often mocked is certainly individual. When he's on screen he emanates an all encompassing calm that seems to transcend arrogance. With his fantastic facial ... 04/02/2001

Napsterrific Possibly the second most talked about thing on the net (after you know what)is napster the self-styled music community. A sort of communist notion the basic principle is that the members form a huge database of mp3 files. Everyone shares their own files and everyone has access to everyone elses files. After spending what seemed like hours searching on the net for free mp3s (most searches took the form of hopeless wild goose chases which went round in circles almost eternally) I turned to napster. I was amazed at how simple it was to download for something so controversial. Having downloaded the programme I was incredibly impressed by the unbelievable range of mp3s. As yet I have found with ease the first ever Manic Street Preachers single (when they were somewhat more radical), and the first and last recorded B-sides by the Smiths. When I say I found these with ease I mean that I had the choice of approximately 20 ;locations to download them from. Downloading the mp3s can be a slow process, especially if you've only got a 33.6K connection like me. My rudimentary advice is to look for the best connection, ideally ISDN or Cable or failing that 56K and the lowest ping value (I have no idea what a ping value is but it tends to follow that the lower it is the quicker the download). Downloading can often be a frustrating process as when there is a connection error files cannot be salvaged and restarted. As a result on several occasions I have had connections terminated ...

WHSmith High Street (Shop) 27/01/2001

Only good for magazines

WHSmith High Street (Shop) If you have a hospitalised friend or relative WH Smith is the place to go. Here you will find a host of magazines catering to almost every past time, even the most anally retentive. From complete fly fisher to crocheting monthly they've got it all. However if you're looking for a book (yes they do still exist in some rarely visited corners of the high street) then you will be sorely disappointed. Unless, that is you are a fan of the work of Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper or John Grisham. In the world of Mr. WH these are the only authors that exist. As regards audio and video WH Smith has never really made its mind up whether to make a concerted effort to sell products in this area. Whilst rifling your way through their usually sparse CD collection you may find a gem like classic hits '93, featuring such acclaimed artists as Shabba Ranks, Shakademus and Pliers and Bitty McClean. However it will be still priced at what is incredibly the standard levek, around 16 quid! On a more appreciative note they do stock a wide range of stationary, exam-help books and the like which are seldom found elsewhwere. So all in all WHS is O.K. for a browse but if you know what you want, go somewhere a bit more specialised. ...

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess 27/01/2001

More relevant now than ever

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess The culture of drugs and violence recently brought to public attention so dramatically by the murder of Damilola Taylor shows just how relevant this book is. Unfortunately the book and even more so the film is often misinterpreted. Though it is hard to criticise Stanley Kubrick for withdrawing the film because of copycat attacks, the banning of the film gifted it a certain notoriety that has meant that it is more remembered for the violence (which is all too often glamourised) than the real message of the book. What is the message then? Well my own interpretation is that firstly it is obviously a warning note sounded against the development of a culture of youth violence. In the book Alex and his Droogs rule their housing estate with the terror that is ultra-violence. Burgess description of the landscape I believe gives some kind of hint as to what conditions would foster this behaviour. What is described is not unlike a communist city in layout. The homogeneous housing areas complete with tower blocks form a concrete landscape that is not unlike Soviet Kiev in the Ukraine. Another strong message of the film is that of mind control by the state. This is again perhaps a reference to the Soviet regime and secret, repressive organisations like the NKVD in Russia and later the Stasi in East germany. Burgess' book creates a magnificent atmosphere of distopyian violence. Nor does it make it easy for the reader, there is no good guy and bad guy. At first one feels ...

Middlesbrough 27/01/2001

El Tels midas touch creates north east El Dorado

Middlesbrough As the title suggests the reason for the sudden interset in Middlesborough football club is the return to English football of the errant managerial genius that is Terry Venables. The elevation of Tel's Euro '96 performance into near myth and some ill-advised jobs at Portsmouth and Crystal Palace had somewhat throne into doubt the potency of his undoubtable talents. However the past few months have shown that his incredible motivational talents have eclipsed the mediocre efforts of the sulky Brian Robson. In stark contrast to Robson, Venables is perhaps the most media friendly face in football (you would never see him sending his assistant out to do the MOTD interview). The mercurial Venables has also achieved this without delving into Middlesborough's Mary Poppins esque bottomless bag of cash. He is unbeatable with a team that is in most positions mediocre and in some poor. Venables has however been aided by the talents of two (although overpaid) very talented players. Christian Karambeu seems far more willing to play for his new mentor putting in some classy performances recently. However the revelation on Teeside has been Alan Boksic. Having stayed injury free Boksic has shown that he is, for me the most talented striker in the Premiership. His awareness is sometimes unbelievable, his touch is immaculate and he retains the pace and finish that made him a superstar. It is however with some degree of envy that I have witnissed this transformation with El Tel ...

BBC Radio 2 14/01/2001

Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks

BBC Radio 2 Over the past two years or so radio 2 has experienced a remarkable rennaissance. Once the erstwhile oldies station, playing Sir Cliff every second song, radio 2 has become dare I say it credible. So how has this dramatic transformation come about? Most importantly radio 2's controllers have exacted a long overdue purge on the station's deadwood. For example the delivery of Ed "stewpot" Stewart's P45. He has been replaced in the all important drive time spot by Johnnie Walker, who has, despite an infamous and potentially damaging run-in with a guy called Charlie been a roaring success. I particularly enjoy the cruising section where he plays rock n'roll classics by the likes of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis seldom heard on the radio. Perhaps the greatest success stories however have been those involving the introduction of people not only new to the station but new to radio in general. By this I refer to Jonathan Ross and Mark Lamarr. Jonathan Ross' Saturday morning show is frquently crude but always very funny. His humour is also interspersed (although sometimes sparingly) with some very good music. Mark Lamarr's show is in my belief the station's flagship. It is so refreshing to hear someone passionate about music on the radio as opposed to the usual ignorami (is that the plural of ignoramus?). Although his show focuses on rock 'n' roll he is also extremely knowledgeable on ska, hip hop and soul and his appearances chairing Nevermind the Buzzcocks of shown he ...

England 11/01/2001

Sven will the trophies come

England Being an Irishman I can write a reasonably objectionnable opinion on England's current predicament. To avoid another media witch hunt a la Hoddle and Keegan Eriksson will need to be realistic at the outset. As it stands England are a long way from winning a major trophy, years of quick fixes have left the team in bad shape. The main reason for such quick fixes was the pretty bleak outlook on the youthfront with very few top class players coming through. The results have been there for all to see, the England side have lacked the ability to put together the crisp passing moves essential at international level nowadays. One way things could be improved straight away would be to organise far more meetings with the players so they can begin to play as a time instead of the disjointed mess seen in recent qualifying matches. Having said that however the future is far from bleak. If Eriksson steps back and (horror of horrors) sacrifices qualification for the 2002 World Cup he can start to build his own team of youngsters. There certainly are some very talented youngsters around, with two incredibly promising midfielders in Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard, a whole shed load of young strikers and promising young defenders like Ipswich's Titus Bramble and Aston Villa's Gareth Barry. Being Spurs-biased I also put forward the name of Ledley King, a very promising midfielder and centre back. If Eriksson can combine this raw talent with more established players like Sol ...

BBC1 - Match of the Day 03/01/2001

Gary comes of age

BBC1 - Match of the Day Regular MOTD viewers will have noted the way that the man who is the butt of most jokes on They think it's all over has metamorphosised into an extremely relaxed and occasionally quite witty presenter. With Gary in such form one need not even think about the deserter. It also seems they are trying to breath new life into the old punditry spot, Mark Lawrenson continues to be the housewives' choice, Trevor Brooking retains the splinters in his backside from sitting on the fence for so long and Hansen is as beautifully cynical as ever however this season there have been some new kids on the block. While Mark Bright still seems a little nervous, Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy seems a natural, displaying a strange quality not often seen in punditry, a penchant for giving an honest opinion.
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