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since 30/11/2000

70

American Psycho - Brett Easton Ellis 30/08/2001

Utterly disgusting but brilliant

American Psycho - Brett Easton Ellis Now, a great deal of us have seen the film, but I doubt many even knew the book existed until recently, what with its having been thrust upon the unsuspecting casual browser amongst the shelves of HMV or WHSmiths since the release of its highly controversial celluloid cousin. Why do I say “unsuspecting”?, you ask. Well, for this reason: the book is, quite simply, obscene. Of course, the film was hardly something you’d take your Granny to see either and probably had more than a few punters quietly stifling an urge to vomit onto the person next to them (poor old Gran), but the book does, I think, take it just a little too far. I’d really love to quote from one of the passages of extreme, explicit and sadistic violence, rape and torture, but I fear it would never be allowed on these pages. A good thing if you ask me. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this book should have been banned. But I sometimes think it’s strange that an ‘obscene’ film will be released amidst an almighty kerfuffle of administrative “hmming” and “hahing” that will often go all the way to the top (take The Exorcist for example), and will either be banned outright or have a protective age-limit stamped on it, yet a book (in this case the very one which spawned said ‘controversial’ movie) which is clearly many times more extreme will be published, placed on book store shelves around the world, and sold ...

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (DVD) 03/02/2001

Don't take my word for it, see it for yourself

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (DVD) I think someone on Ciao has already described this film as an ‘epic’. Well I’m going to go right ahead and plagiarise him I’m afraid, as this is the word that sprang straight into my mind as I left the cinema after watching this film of truly gargantuan proportions. And I mean this in several different ways. Firstly, putting aside the obvious fact that this is a pretty long film at well over 2 hours in total (although it felt a lot longer), the storyline seems to cover so much and takes the viewer on such a monumental journey that it has distinctly ‘epic’ overtones. I really felt after watching this that I had been through almost a lifetime of experience with the characters of the film. I had experienced love, hate, violence, peace, adventure, death, good and evil. Rarely does a film manage to encompass such a spectrum of emotion and experience without it feeling stretched and over-played, but CTHD does just that, and more. Secondly, CTHD is ‘epic’ in its wondrous use of contrast. You cannot fail to be awestruck at the range of the film and how it moves seemingly effortlessly between exhilerating fight sequences and the sense of serene calm derived from, for example, the sight of two lovers holding each other in their arms or the immense beauty of ancient China. One prime example is a fight scene that takes place up amongst the swaying tree tops, hence combining aggression and calm, depicted by the quietly rustling leaves and the gentle breeze swirling about. I think ...

IC 24 31/01/2001

Genuinely free ISP but has its faults

IC 24 If you're looking for a cheap Internet Service Provider (ISP) and you think you will be able to bear all the little idiosyncracies of IC24 then you can't go far wrong here. Basically it's quite a new ISP company and is only just beginning to start advertising itself fully - you may have noticed a few IC24 ads on the TV recently. As a result of its relative infancy, they're currently running an offer whereby you get free internet calls every night from 8pm until Midnight. It used to be weekday nights and all day and all night on the weekends but it seems they're starting to cut back. There are no subscription costs either meaning that you can have your normal ISP account sitting alongside your IC24 one and switch between them quite happily. You can also use IC24's local-rate connection at all times, day and night. You may have noticed, however, that I used the word 'offer' when describing this deal from IC24. Well this is becuase, officially, it's only a 'promotional' offer to get people to sign up with IC24 - I suppose they hope that once you're used to using IC24 you'll then start logging in during the daytime aswell and then make them some money. However, while it is a 'promotional offer' officially and only for a set period of time, they keep extending it and extending it. For example, originally the offer was going to end (I think) in August of 2000, they then decided to carry it on until New Year. Then they extended it again so that the offer would run until ...

Fabric, London 26/01/2001

Good but not great

Fabric, London If you’re at all into clubbing then you’re sure to have heard of Fabric, in London. I went there with 4 others last weekend because I’d heard so much about it but hadn’t yet actually got around to going and checking it out. While it’s unarguably a top class club in its own right, I enjoyed it less than others I’ve been to in London due to the music it plays there. For those of you that don’t know, Fabric (at least on the night we went – a Saturday) is mainly for the so-called ‘hard-core’ clubbers. If you’re into the repetitive, thudding beats that it offers then this is the place for you. If, however, you’re like me and prefer more varied and ‘interesting’ music to dance to then I wouldn’t recommend this place. Most of the people there are out of their minds on E (don’t be surprised if you get offered some at least three times in a night here) and so probably don’t notice the repetitiveness of the music being played – and others actually enjoy this type of stuff whether they’re ‘sorted’ or not. Well, onto the actual club then. Once inside you realise it’s a pretty massive place – after paying (it was a pretty steep £15 to get in on the night) you have to go down a series of stairs to get into the club proper, and it opens up into a large underground chamber. There are two main areas – one large dance floor immediately to ...

STA Travel 24/01/2001

STA in Mile End - quick, easy and good prices

STA Travel This place has all the benefits of STA -- but without the queues. What more could you possibly ask for? For directions, I've described how to get there (it's on the Queen Mary and Westfield University campus - but you don't need to be a student there, or anywhere) at the bottom of this review. To explain for those that don't already know, STA is a travel agency for people aged 26 or under - the idea is that you get discount prices for flights around the world aswell as reasonably expert advice from the staff. So if you're 26 or under and are looking for discounted flights then you should definitely check out STA. The one thing to bear in mind is that if you're looking for a short weekend holiday, then STA is probably not the best place to go as there will be some better deals for that sort of thing if you go through a company such as EasyJet. It struck me that STA's forte is in the longer trip - both in terms of time and in terms of distance. This makes it the ideal place to go if you're a student looking to take a year out and do some travelling. They offer all the usual options for flights right the way from simple one-way tickets through to open-jaw tickets (where you fly out to one destination and fly back from another) and round the world tickets. And all at good prices.... I went to Trailfinders in London to get a quote before I settled with STA and it turns out that I'm saving £100 on a £400 open-jaw return to Bangkok - that's 20% off! They also ...

hotornot.com 22/01/2001

Good for a laugh - worth a go

hotornot.com Basically the idea of this website is that you give them a photo of yourself, they add a page dedicated to your individual photo and then people rate your appearance, on a scale of 1 to 10. Sounds simple then. Well, not quite. Due to the large amount of space that such a picture would normally take up on a hard disk, they do not allow you any webspace on their server to upload your picture. Instead you have to have your own webspace on the internet somewhere - whether it be on the free space that you can get when building your own web site or, I suppose (although I haven't tried this), on an e-mail account such as Hotmail which alllows upto 2 Mb of files on its system. However, assuming that you have a photo, you've scanned it in and saved it to your web space where ever that may be, all you have to do then is sign up to AmIHotorNot (which just means your name, or alias, and your e-mail address - this won't be made public on the site) and provide them with a link to your on-line piccy. It will then usually say something like "Your photo is currently being checked by our moderators" - which means that until they've cleared your photo as 'suitable' it will not be available on the site for public voting. Basically they say this is to make sure that the site remains 'clean and fun' and so that people don't submit pictures of celebrities, animals, cartoon characters or...err...whatever. The 'moderation' usually takes a maximum of one day, and then your photo will be ...

Lonely Planet South East Asia - Lonely Planet 22/01/2001

Not enough detail

Lonely Planet South East Asia - Lonely Planet As I'm going to S.E. Asia in February for 6 months I bought the Lonely Planet (LP) guide to Asia & India and, while it clearly has its merits, it's got some crucial flaws aswell. Let me explain.... Basically the LP is a general, starter guide to the basics of travelling the world, where ever that may happen to be. Half the book (200 of the 366 pages) is taken up by an introduction to the region, the hazards you're likely to meet and how to go about living here. Now, while this is very useful (especially for those, like me that have never done any extensive travelling before), it does mean that they scrimp slightly when it comes to going through each individual country. For example, the Rough Guide has 70 pages on Cambodia alone, whereas the LP has only 7 pages on this country. Infact the LP manages to summarise China (a VAST place, incase you hadn't noticed) in just 10 pages - and a fair portion of this os taken up with links to internet sites and recommended books and videos to watch if you want to find out more before going out. The result is that the LP is an invaluable aid for the totally unitiated traveller (like me), guiding him gently through the change in lifestlye that he will have to come to terms with and providing him with a base from which he can go off travelling at least with the confidence that he's not going to wave at someone with his left hand (in parts of Asia, people...err...'clean' themselves with their left hand, if you know what I mean!). This is ...

The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia - The Rough Guide 22/01/2001

Anything but rough

The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia - The Rough Guide As I'm off to SE Asia for 6 months in February I thought I'd better get a couple of guidebooks to help - so I got the The Lonely Planet Guide and The Rough Guide to SE Asia. This, however, is a review of the latter - I have also reviewed the LP Guide for what I hope will be a useful comparison. The book may be expensive at £12.99 but you certainly get your money's worth. Ignore the title 'Rough Guide' - it's just being modest. This is anything but a 'rough' guide - it is, in fact, incredibly detailed. While the Lonely Planet books are good in their own right as a more general guide to travelling, giving you the real basics to start you off, The Rough Guide is essential reading for anyone that's going travelling for an extended period of time. Why? Well, I'll tell you for why. The RG (Rough Guide) covers each country in extraordinary depth - for example there are 70 pages of small type on Cambodia alone, and Cambodia is one of the smaller SE Asian countries. And it's not just pages of waffle, either. You can tell that for each page, an incredible amount of pain-staking research has been undertaken and it's rare that a sentence goes by without there being some useful piece of information there. In that way, they certainly don't beat about the bush and waffle on about "how beautiful the beaches are here", or about "the equisite mountain ranges over there" - they simply give you a brief description of each place (even the most seemingly insignificant get a mention here), ...

Liverpool 18/01/2001

Can succeed this season

Liverpool After a somewhat disappointing start to the season, Liverpool look to be getting it together again as, in particular, the defence begins to get back to the form it showed last season when it was the most effective in the league. Defensive errors (and Westerveld bloopers) aside, I believe Gerard Houllier's men are on the path back to success and in my eyes will be major challengers to the title within a couple of seasons, if not next season. They now have the squad to cope with European and domestic duties and there is enough cover at Anfield to allow for some rotation of players. Of course, having a large squad carries with its own problems with it, too. One of these is how Houllier is supposed to keep four international strikers happy, when there is only ever room for two of them to play at any one time? Liverpool now boast three England forwards in Heskey, Owen and Fowler aswell as one from Finland - Jari Litmanen, who was picked up on a free transfer earlier this month from Barcelona - and keeping them all on the top of their game is going to become increasingly difficult for the manager. But it's in the midfield where Houllier really has room to tinker. None of the nine midfield players that Houllier can call upon (Smicer, Diomede, Murphy, Gerrard, Mcallister, Biscan, Redknapp, Hamann and Barmby) seem to have an automatic place in the team, and the juggling act that takes place every week is sure to unsettle the playing squad and indeed the resulting ...

Manchester United 17/01/2001

Champions again -- yawn

Manchester United Is the Premiership really all over by mid-January? Well, yes actually. The fact that Manchester United are already 11 points clear suggests that the record 18-point margin by which they won the title last season is under threat. That they are in such a position having gone through the season so far without the services of Jaap Stam, Ronny Johnsen, Jesper Blomquist and David May makes their position all the more depressing for all the would-be title contenders. That they have also had to go about their business without Andrew Cole, Dwight Yorke and Teddy Sheringham for long periods of the season make it all the more incredible that there is not a single team in the Division capable of matching Man United blow for blow throughout the rigours of an entire season. Of course, there's always the occasional upset, where United stumble and a Chelsea or Arsenal manage to raise their game enough to defeat the Reds. Queue all and sundry proclaiming that this year, just maybe the title will be more of a close-run thing. Not this season, though. Since losing a seeminly unassailable lead on Arsenal slip two seasons ago, Manchester United have never looked in the slightest bit threatened by the piffling attempts from clubs such as Chelsea, Liverpool, Leeds and Arsenal to tear from United their air of supreme dominance. There is now a feeling of dreaded inevitability that a challenger for the title will eventually fall away, leaving Manchester United to stretch their lead as per ususal ...

Arsenal 17/01/2001

Not enough consistency

Arsenal Arsenal have simply not shown enough consistency this season to provide worthy challengers for Manchester United. Where Man U excel is in their ability to raise their game for the matches against even the minnows such as Bradford City and Southampton. For Man U know that the title is won not as a result of beating the top teams (although this is also vital), but as a result of going away to places like Highfield Road and getting three points. This is something that Arsenal have not yet mastered - their defeat at the hands of Charlton at The Valley being a case in point. Their failings this season can be attributable to very specific problems in my view. Firstly, Arsene Wenger has yet to find an adequate replacement for the ageing David Seaman who, even when fit, seems more and more prone to lapses these days. Alex Manninger has been touted as the natural successor to 'Safe Hands' Seaman, but has shown this season that he still has a lot to learn. Polish 'keeper Dudek is reported to be attracting the interest of Arsenal, and he seems the more likely man to take over the role as the Gunners' custodian. Secondly, Arsenal sold two key players in he summer to Barcelona - Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit. Although the fee was high, the loss of Petit has effected the team massively this season. The purchase of Robert Pires has adaquately replaced Overmars but the signing of Edu from Corinthians to replcace Petit fel through due to his carrying a forged passport. And besides, ...

Sunderland 17/01/2001

Have done well but will fall away

Sunderland Living up to the standards set by last season was always going to be hard work but, after a shaky opening to the season that saw them languishing in the lower echelons of the Premiership, they have shown enough character and determination to climb straight back up again. They are now sitting pretty in second place as I write this, but don't expect it to last for much longer. Peter Reid's side relies on gritty determination and teamwork, but this can only get you so far. As Leicester are beginning to discover, you need class and individual talent inorder to stick with the chasing pack. My concern is that Sunderland simply don't have enough creativity in the centre of the park and, although they seem to be coping admirably well without the steady supply of goals from the dynamic strike duo of Phillips and Quinn that they becamse accustomed to last season, as a result I cannot see Sunderland maintain a challenge for a Champions League place. A place in Europe is definitely within their sights, however. Prediction: 7th ...

Ipswich Town 17/01/2001

Excellent start - can they keep it going

Ipswich Town Ipswich have surprised everyone this season, including themselves infact. After missing out on promotion from the 1st Division Play-Offs three times in a row, it was a case of fourth time lucky for George Burley's boys in blue. But this season, luck has had nothing to do with it - as I write they are in fourth place, and they are so for a reason: teamwork, workrate, movement and passing. Not to mention the fact that in George Burley they have a top-class manager that has moulded this current team for several years now, keeping virtually the same crop of players throughout. You have to wonder what they'd be like if they hadn't had to sell off the talents of Kieron Dyer and, to a lesser extent, Mauriccio Taricco who were sold to Newcastle and Spurs respectively for financial and personal reasons. In Richard Wright they have a future England goalkeeper and he has been just one part of a defence that has adapted excellently to life in the top flight. Jamie Clapham in particular has been in vibrant form as an attacking left-back and, given England's lack of decent left-footers, he must be in the thoughts of the new boss at international level. In the frame, too is the marauding centre back Titus Bramble. As a converted striker the big man is strong, powerful and quick aswell as a ferocious tackler and an intelligent aerial defender. At only 19 years of age, big things are expected. The midfield is expertly patrolled by skipper Matt Holland who offers creativity alongside a ...

Purdey's Multi Vitamin Drink 17/01/2001

Healthy but rank

Purdey's Multi Vitamin Drink I picked up a free bottle of this multivitamin drink today from some oddballs outside Liverpool Street station, and I'm certainly glad I didn't pay for it! While I'm sure it is very good for you, it was a real struggle to drink it all as it tasted really awful. It's a mix of fruit juices, fizzy water and loads of vitamin supplements, but a mix that just doesn't work it seems. I think it's the fact that it's sort of half-fizzy that makes it so weird-tasting - it's almost like it's been sitting around for a few weeks and has begun to ferment. The idea of these sort of things is that you enjoy a nice drink AND you get healthy at the same time. Well I'd rather just take some painless (and tasteless) vitamin tablets than force myself to drink this every day. It says the drink promotes an "Active life", but after drinking this I didn't feel like doing anything really - it just succeeded in making me feel rather sick and slightly bloated. To be fair, there are other flavours available, but frankly I'm not willing to shell out £1.50 to see if the others are any better. ...

easyeverything, London 15/01/2001

Convenient but there are better places

easyeverything, London EasyEverything is a chain of Internet Cafes - with lots in London including Tottenham Court Road, Victoria, Trafalgar Square (towards Charing Cross) and King's Cross. You can spot them a mile off due to the big orange signs that stick out into the street. There's never a problem for free computers as there are over 100 in each branch. The system is that you buy a ticket with a code word printed on it which you then enter into a free computer, choosing a password so that you can carry on using the same ticket for upto a month. The costs vary greatly - you can get anything from 25 minutes for £1 to 3 hours for the same price. Generally the times to avoid are lunch times, mid-morning and pretty much anytime during the day on weekends as you won't get much value for money at these times. If you're really looking to get your money's worth then you can always go in the early hours of the morning as the London branches are open 24 hours a day. There always seems to be quite a few people there, even at 2:00 am when I've gone in on my way home after a night out. The computers are reasonably quick, but could be better and do occasionally take an age to load up a site. They can also be used for wordprocessing, although the version of Word they give you is so 'user-frienfly' that it's irritating - those that know what they're doing with Word shouldn't bother as there's no option to construct your own pages as you must use the in-built 'wizards'. Another irritating thing is ...
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