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since 13/01/2001


Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone (DVD) 20/11/2001

Not so potty about Potter

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone (DVD) Harry Potter is 11 years old when he discovers he is a wizard. Until now, he has been living with his pompous aunt and uncle (Richard Griffiths and Fiona Shaw) and spoilt cousin, who treat him like a servant. But then he gets letter (after letter after letter) from the mysterious Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, followed by a visit from a giant of a man, known as Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane). It is only now that he learns of his parents, who were wizards and who died at the hands of an evil wizard called Voldemort, who also left him with the lightning scar on his forhead, whilst he was still just a baby. That Harry survived this attack has made him famous when he arrives at Hogwarts and begins his real education. Despite an all star cast, the standard of acting was not outstanding. The young actors playing the three children (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint) were particularly disappointing, I thought. Child actors should be endearing for a film to work, but I just found them annoying. Alan Rickman as Snape was very OTT and my favourite actors (Julie Walters, John Cleese) only have small roles as Ron’s Mother and an ‘almost headless’ ghost. Maggie Smith puts in a strong performance as Hogwart's Headmistress, as does most of the more experienced members of the cast, but whether it was the direction, acting or script, much of it was very melodramatic. I found the entire thing a bit childish. I mean, Harry apparently defeats trolls, wins his ...

Thinking it Over (Single) 15/11/2001

Screw you Hear'say

Thinking it Over (Single) Liberty are Jess, Michelle, Tony, Kev and Kelli, the five rejects from the ITV phenomenon ‘Popstars’. They are the five wannabe’s who got into the last ten, but were pipped to the post by the people who were to become Hear’say. Having gone through ten (?) gruelling weeks of auditions, we can conclude that they do actually have some talent. Their voices are quite distinctive and unique (to such an extent to where you can instantly tell who’s singing a certain line), as are their personalities, and in both departments they seem to compliment each other perfectly. Their debut single, Thinking It Over, is a pop song, but with elements of R ‘n’ B and garage, and a Mediterranean flavour. It’s a chilled out, catchy dance tune about a girl needing space in a relationship to make sure this is what she wants. In it, the three girls and two guys sing to each other. Their new single, Doin’ It, out this month, is slower and sexier, a song about being unable to resist their boyfriend or girlfriend. The video is actually quite erotic, the five of them appearing wearing next to nothing and snuggling up to their honey’s. According to a recent interview, the album also combines lots of different aspects of modern music: garage remixes, happy-go-lucky pop, Latino grooves. There’s no news yet on when they’ll be releasing it. I think most people would agree Hear’say were better before they were manufactured by their record company to be just like every other mixed-sex pop group. ...

The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Facial Wash 25/10/2001

Spot on

The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Facial Wash THE PROBLEM I am lucky in that I have never experienced a serious acne problem. However, my skin is often red and blotchy before I plaster it with foundation and other cosmetics. This often gets worse through out the day, especially if I have the wind in my face. I also get blackheads on my chin sometimes and on the sides of my nose (sorry for the gory details) where it gets particularly greasy. THE PRODUCT The Body shop introduced the Tea tree oil range recently (within the last year or so). Although, I’m a frequent Body Shop shopper I’d never really taken much notice of it, until I read some positive reviews here on Ciao. Me always looking for miracle workers, I had to give it a go. I was surprised to find it priced so cheaply, in comparison with other products on the market. It was around 3.25 for a 250ml bottle. There is a larger bottle available, but I would estimate (as I haven’t yet used up a bottle) the smaller volume lasts at least 6 weeks anyway, even using twice a day. The packaging is fairly simple. The bottle is see through so you can see the lime green liquid inside and there is a black label with the tea tree oil symbol (a red ‘t’ with green leaves on top). I would be the first to admit it’s nothing special, but at the same time it’s unfussy and perfect for this product. The information and instructions are concise. It is suitable for normal, oily or blemished skin and may not be suitable for ‘very sensitive skin’. You get the ingredients and ...

Moulin Rouge (Special Edition) (DVD) 08/10/2001

Heart breaking, soul shaking LOVE

Moulin Rouge (Special Edition) (DVD) Baz Luhrmann has done it again – reinvented a flagging genre and given us a cinematic experience (and that’s the only word I can think of to describe it) that we’ll never forget. Moulin Rouge is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Its opening is a queer little man singing in introduction in the corner of the screen and a sweeping camera shot through the streets of Paris to a grimy looking hotel. From this dreary setting we move straight into a lively, vivid night out at the Moulin Rouge. It is the beginning of a visual masterpiece alive with colour, sumptuous set-pieces, pounding music, and action so fast paced you’ll have a job keeping up. The overall effect is breathtaking, vibrant, surreal and striking. The story is about a talented young writer, with an obsession with love. The year is 1899 and Paris is the place to be for Bohemian lovers of art and music. Naturally, it’s the one place Christian (the before-mentioned writer - Ewan McGregor – A Life Less Ordinary, Stars Wars: Episode 1) wants to be. By chance, he meets with a bunch of odd-balls who are rehearsing a musical play in the apartment above his, the first of its kind to be performed at the Moulin Rouge. Consequently, he gets roped into writing it but first must convince the owner, Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent – Bridget Jone’s Diary, The Borrowers). Toulouse (John Leguizamo – Romeo + Juliet, Die Hard 2) and his other new friends arrange a private meeting with the Moulin Rouge’s ‘Diamond’ showgirl ...

Channel 4 - Bar Wars 06/10/2001

A cocktail for success

Channel 4 - Bar Wars Five guys and five gals are given rival bars to run at opposite ends of the same beach. At the end of every week whichever team has made the least amount of profit has to sack a member, face to face in an open-forum. Another member is then hired to join the team who has just gone one down. If I’m correct at the end of a long slog the overall winners get some huge cash prize and the losers go home empty handed. With the same target customers (sex craving clubbers from nearby Kavos), competition between ‘Climax’ and ‘Temptations’ is stiff. Sex, theme parties, backstabbing and sabotage are just some of the delights awaiting the viewers. And from what I’ve seen of it so far, it’s rightly dubbed ‘the battle of the sexes’. ’Bar Wars’ is the latest in a long line of ‘real life TV’ game shows. As with ‘Big Brother’, ‘Survivor’, ‘Temptation Island’, etc, although there is the promise of x amount of money/holiday to an exotic location to motivate contestants, the real appeal for viewers is to take an in-depth look at a group of ‘ordinary’ human beings, being filmed every second of the day. Although it’s clear to me that the teams were picked because they are ‘extraordinary’ and had enough sex appeal to keep viewers hooked, it doesn’t make it any less interesting. Their relationships with each other and with the rival team are of particular interest to the nosy British public, especially when it involves cat-fights, one night stands and slanging matches. And if these are the ...

Bob and Rose 02/10/2001

Does true love still exist

Bob and Rose ’Bob and Rose’ is an old fashioned love-story, with the modern angle that it is between a gay man and a straight woman. This 6-part series is the tale of their atypical road to romance and their struggle to overcome their different sexualities and the negative opinions of their friends and families. The brainchild of Russell T. Davies (also the creator of Channel 4’s ‘Queer as Folk’), ‘Bob and Rose’ has a simplistic plot, wit and an all-star cast. Lesley Sharp (Rose) is one of the best TV actresses out there. ‘Playing the Field’, ‘Clocking Off’, ‘Nature Boy’ and ‘Daylight Robbery’ are just some of the highlights of her career, not to mention a principal part in ‘The Full Monty’. Not only is she completely natural, she’s also very talented. It’s about time she got the recognition she deserves. Her portrayal of Rose is feisty and down-to-earth, an admiral character who’s normal too. At the other end of the scale, Jessica Stevenson is fairly new to mainstream television and not especially well-known, but every bit as good. She’s perhaps best known for writing Channel 4’s ‘Spaced’, which she also stared in as Daisy. Her character in Bob and Rose equals Daisy for being bubbly, scatty and more than a little strange. Holly is Bob’s best friend, and also happens to have a secret crush on him. Finally, Alan Davies as Bob is not totally convincing as a desirable gay man, but is suitably camp and a bit naive in the other lead role. Other supporting roles include Penelope ...

Dark Angel 30/09/2001

Pushing it to the Max

Dark Angel The first season of Dark Angel is currently repeating on Sky One, 10pm Saturdays. Having enjoyed the first 5 or so episodes, I wish to share my initial thoughts… Set in the post-apocalyptic future, America is in depression. The society is an interesting one: not dominated by technology as one might assume, but with some significant differences - many for the worse. Max is a genetically modified human-being. She lived her pre-adolescent years in a military compound where she and others like her were studied and trained like twisted lab experiments. Although she escaped, she continues to be haunted by her past. She is hunted by her ‘makers’ (in particular the creepy Colonel Lydecker), who track her using a bar code imprinted on the back of her neck. She also suffers seizure-like fits for which only frequent takings of medication can treat. Together with Logan – a pirate broadcaster who exposes government corruption under cover as ‘Eyes Only’, who wishes to enlist her help and impressive fighting skills to battle the repressive society, Max searches for others like her. Jesscia Alba recently won a Saturn award for her performance as Max, and it’s not hard to see why - her intelligence and radiant personality really show through on screen. As the principal character, she is sexy, sassy and extremely watchable. The character itself is also an interesting, and complex, one, which I’m sure will develop significantly over the inevitable future series’. Max is a ...

Save The Last Dance (DVD) 23/09/2001


Save The Last Dance (DVD) After her devoted Mother is killed in a car crash, rushing to get to her daughter’s dance audition, Sarah (Julia Stiles – 10 Things I Hate About You) moves away, full of guilt and coming to the decision that she cannot continue to practise ballet without her. She finds herself living with her difficult Father (Terry Kinney – Fly Away Home) in a rough neighbourhood and enrolled in an inner-city school where she is practically the only white girl. Her quick-wit and intelligence luckily earn her a few friends, among them, Chenille (Kerry Washington) and her brother Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas – Cruel Intentions). After going to a club one night, he offers to teach Sarah how to dance hip-hop, opening her up to a whole new dance culture. Their united love of dance pushes them together and they gradually become more than just close friends. Derek even persuades Sarah to follow her dream, providing the motivation and support she needs for her to dance ballet again. However it’s not just the race card that’s holding them back. Derek’s pushy ex Nikki (Bianca Lawson – Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and loyalty to his violent, racist bud Kai (Fredro Starr) who wants Derek to back him up in a shooting that’s going down, must also be overcome. Even Chenille turns against Sarah (if momentarily), accusing her of moving in on their territory. Meanwhile, Chenille provides another aspect. She has a young son – the repercussions of under-age sex, and has problems getting the father (whom ...

Flowers in the Attic - Virginia Andrews 20/09/2001

Love and Betrayal

Flowers in the Attic - Virginia Andrews This powerful, moving and compelling novel is the story of Cathy, Chris, Cory and Carrie, four innocent children with a horrifying story to tell. The ‘Dresden Dolls’, as they are nicknamed, are beautiful, happy and have a seemingly perfect life. This all changes when their beloved father is killed in a car crash. After, their Mother suddenly announces they cannot pay their debts and must leave immediately to go to her parent’s house. They are wealthy, she say’s, and many toys and other fine things await her ‘darlings’ there. Later their mother reveals her secret, that her late husband Christopher was in fact her half-uncle, and because of their incest, they were long ago cast out from the family and removed from her father’s will. She intends to win back his trust, but in the meantime insists the children are hidden away in a distant quarter of the magnificent house until she receives her inheritance. Over the three year period they are locked away in just one room, with an attic as their only playroom, they are put in the care of their grandmother. Not only is she strict and heartless, but she has a particular disliking for these devil’s spawn. Originally, they follow natural instincts to trust their doted-upon Mother who brings them present after present but later they rightfully suspect her intentions are far more sinister and gradually whatever maternal feeling she had for them is also lost in her greed. The story which unravels is utterly heartbreaking. ...

A Knight's Tale (DVD) 11/09/2001

Historical meets contemporary

A Knight's Tale (DVD) *ALTHOUGH ITS A PREDICTABLE STORY, YOU MAY WANT TO KNOW THAT I DO GIVE AWAY MAJOR PLOT DETAILS IN THIS OPINION* With the help of his companions Wat, Roland, Kate and real life famous playwright and gambler Geoffrey Chaucer, a peasant squire by the name of Will Thatcher, disguises himself as a knight of noble blood, hoping to fulfil his life long dream. Entering tournaments all over France, he meets and falls in love with Lady Jocelyn and makes an enemy of her potential suitor and jousting champion – Count Adhemar. Will fast gains fame and fortune, in a similar style to football heroes of the modern day, but whether he’ll be able to convince Jocelyn of his love and to hide his true identity is another question. You must have seen the adverts with a crowd at a jousting tournament clapping in time with Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’. Equally memorable are the medieval-costumed cast jiving to the ‘The Golden Years’ and one of the funniest lines in the film is Wat’s sarcastic ‘Hello!’ Throughout the film there are more scenes of medieval Europe combined with 20th Century rock music and modern slang. Scenes like this are both ironic and surreal, but ultimately, very effective: a lot of laughs were raised from the ‘Nike’ symbol imprinted on Will’s armour and the jousting being treated as a football game or wrestling match complete with Mexican wave, face paint and flags. Heath Ledger (10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot) has the look of an Australian blonde surfer ...

Jane Norman (Shop) 06/09/2001

Designer chic

Jane Norman (Shop) Jane Norman is well known as the classiest women’s high street clothes shop out there. Although I suspect it’s aimed at young women in their twenties, it really caters for everyone. My mother is 43 and size 14/16, whereas I am 15 and size 10/12, but we can both find well fitting, trendy clothes here to suit us. The majority of Jane Norman clothes are dressy going-out attire. You’ve got the sexy, the smart and the outrageous, depending on what occasion you’re buying for, be it a family dinner or clubbing. However, there are some more casual, plainer clothes (trousers, zip-up tops, etc) if that’s what you’re looking for and larger stores also sell shoes, bags and other accessories. I bought one top for last New Year, which was backless, snakeskin patterned with a glaze of glitter. This is practically their trademark design and one that is so distinctive that you can often spot Jane Norman clothes from a mile away. I saw a similar top and dress this year, only they were light blue and had criss-cross backs. A lot of the tops are made of the same flimsy, expensive-looking material made of over 80% polyester. Even the trousers (both wool and cotton based) feel really soft on your skin and I always feel assured of the quality when I try anything on. The latest instalment to my wardrobe (called ‘High Twist Crepe’) is a black halter-neck that bunches in the middle on the front and back. It’s a really unusual style and one I’ve only seen worn in America up until now. Jane ...

Midsomer Murders 29/08/2001

Picturesque villages that are crime central

Midsomer Murders With so many crime/mystery/thrillers on television today, producers have got to come up with something special to get people’s attention. In my opinion, Midsomer Murders is the perfect ideal. It has everything your average who-done-it has, with a little extra kick. Main character Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) is somewhat of a rarity. He isn’t your token lonely, miserable old fart that made Frost, Morse and Wyclif such a success. He even has (shock, horror!) a wife, Joyce (Jane Wymark) and daughter, Cully (Laura Howard) who are actively involved in many of the plots. All he has in common with his fellow TV-detectives is a dry sense of humour. Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), his dense, but loveable sidekick is the comic relief next to his more serious boss. Together, they make quite a team, solving murder after murder in the cluster of picturesque little villages over three series of 2-hour episodes. In each instalment of this creepy crime drama, there is usually more than one victim at different points – makes it a little more interesting than your average crime-buster. And there are usually at least half a dozen suspects, who conveniently have a grudge against the deceased and were in the right place at the right time. So it’s not so much a case of finding the killer, but deducting him from the rest of the characters with the evidence that slowly builds up. Mysterious clues are often left for the audience. For example, in Sunday night’s episode (the first in the new series ...

Ölü Deniz (Turkey) 22/08/2001

The best holiday I've ever been on

Ölü Deniz (Turkey) I just got back from a two week break in Oludeniz, Turkey, and I can say without a doubt that it is the best holiday I have ever been on. We had such good service from the fabulous staff at the hotel and so much loved the pretty, lively little town and stunning lagoon that we’ve already booked up for next year. The resort (Oludeniz): Oludeniz is a small town surrounded by mountains on three sides which has recently become a popular destination for British tourists. It is traditional enough to feel as though you are in a foreign country, yet it is a lively place both at night and during the day. Beach-front shops, bars (check out Help! And Soho) and restaurants, as well as the beach itself, are among its many attractions. Extreme sports are big in the area – scuba diving, bungee jumping and paragliding are all offered all over town. Although the prices are originally £50+, as with the other sight-seeing day trip offers after haggling they can be reduced dramatically. The other popular sight is the crystal clear waters of the Blue Lagoon. With stunning views, safe water and plenty of free loungers, this idyllic beach, situated in a national park, is ideal for families and costs less than 50p per head. The hotel (Asena Beach): Facilities include a health and fitness centre, gorgeous pool, all-day kids club, market, pool bar and terrace bar (both open till late) and a seafood restaurant and a buffet-style restaurant, which serve excellent food for very good ...

How to use the Circle of Trust 16/08/2001

The danger around every corner

How to use the Circle of Trust How I believe you should choose, use and maintain your Circle of Trust: Members worthy of being in your Circle of Trust should generally write opinions which you consider to be Very Helpful – informative, detailed, accurate. If their work isn’t perfect but it has potential to develop into something more, they may also be candidates. See if they actually bother to read other peoples opinions. I look at the ‘total ratings given’ statistics. If it is a substantial number (roughly the same as the ‘total reads received’ figures) then that’s okay. But if, judging by these numbers, the member obviously isn’t interested in involving him or herself in the Ciao community and reading other people’s work, the chances are they won’t read yours either and aren’t worthy of a place in your CoT. Read more than one of their opinions. To put a member in your CoT based on an on-the-spot decision after reading just one of their opinions would be foolish – after all how do you know that it isn’t just a one-off? Not only that, you ‘d end up putting hundreds of people in your circle, as everyone can write the odd good opinion. To make an informed decision, I read at least 2-3 opinions. CoT potentials have got to have something special. CoT candidates must write about something which interests you. However wonderfully written their opinions are, if most are written on a subject which completely bores you, I don’t think it’s a very good idea to put them in your CoT, as it is unlikely ...

Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham 20/07/2001

Something a bit different

Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Having just spent a week’s work experience at the Rep, I feel suddenly inspired to write what of I think of this fantastic place. I now feel I have the knowledge to write a decent opinion giving information to people across the country who may not even have heard of it. The Rep is a contemporary theatre that not only brings us the best new productions and adaptations of the old, but who also give the community the chance to participate and learn more. Needless to say it’s well worth a visit, if you’re after a more unusual theatre experience. Main Stage: The stage in the main auditorium is one of the largest in Britain. Although the whole of it is not always used, it goes a long, long way back and reaches very high up. The seating itself it very unusual too – instead of stalls, circle and upper circle, it goes up in tiers. It’s modern and most likely very daunting for anyone acting on the stage, although there are only actually 900 seats. One other interesting fact is that they have infra-red facilities for the hearing impaired and wheelchair spaces among the normal seats. Although some of the productions are touring companies using the Rep for a short period time (I know recently there was a visiting dance company), most of the plays are produced in the building. The plays are a mixture of famous classics and new plays. For example, two of the next season’s performances are John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ and ‘Life x 3’ by the people who brought us ART to ...
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