dalliard.net

He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.

iPhone SE (2020)

Is this phone some wafer-thin, all-screen vision of the future? No. But it's very good at what it does….

edge Read More...
Comments

This War Of Mine

Should all games by light-hearted and fun? No, they shouldn't - here's a good example why. Read More...
Comments

iPad Mini 2 (Retina)

At the time of purchasing my iPad Mini, stock was limited and purchase was by reservation only. Would I advise you to get in the queue? Read More...
Comments

13" Macbook Air 2013

Expensive door-stop, or mobile-computing dream? Read More...
Comments

Kindle, Schmindle

Other book-reading devices are available…. Read More...
Comments

There Will Be Blood

Plot overview: The rise and fall of an oil tycoon in the late 19th/early 20th century, along with the relationship between his son and everyone else around him.

Who's in it?: Daniel Day-Lewis is the main man, in more ways than one - he's amazingly good, even if he does sound a bit like a certain someone from The Matrix.

Is it any good?: The first twenty minutes or so has no dialogue in it whatsoever. This doesn't mean that you won't know what's going on. You'll feel the pain of his initial prospecting and the struggle he goes through. Likewise, the last 10 minutes has some of the greatest dialogue that I've heard for years and equally, you'll love it. The film score is wonderful. The eery sound used at the beginning of the film is enough to make you feel ill. Day-Lewis puts in an amazing performance througout, although that's not to say that anyone else doesn't do well. Honourable mention should also be given to Paul Dano, who is Eli the preacher, the man with the stranglehold over the local community.

Should I go and see it?: Yes. And if you don't like it, you're either mentally deficient or a communist. There's a lot going on and you'll need to concentrate, but the pay-off will be worth it. Everyone in the film is deeply symbolic, representative of love, greed, ethics, family, religion and much more besides. This will be remembered as one of the greatest films of all time and is certainly one of the best things I've seen for about three or four years.

Have I gushed enough about it yet? (5/5)

Other reviews: Here, here and here.
Comments

Cloverfield

Plot overview: A New York twenty-somethings leaving-party gets ruined by a giant monster that attacks Manhattan. As the ground shakes, people go onto the street, chaos ensues, buildings get flattened, lives are lost and the Statue of Liberty becomes detached from her head. Some of the initial scenes that depict building destruction may be too close to 9/11 for comfort.

The military drop in - and admit that they're losing. In the meantime, ordinary people are running very quickly to get out of Manhattan before things get nastier. The central group of four that we're introduced to during the party mount a rescue operation for a girlfriend, and as the chaos unravels it's all caught on a shaky handycam - and boy, is it shaky. If you suffer from motion-sickness, this is probably going to make you feel ill.

Who's in it?: I'm not good with names and faces, but the cast list did look like a list of relative unknowns - and for a film such as this, that was a good thing. You won't be distracted by a big name attempting some heroics or something out of character. Why the monster is here, you don't know - but that's not the point. The film is about ordinary people trying to escape a major disaster, but despite its subject matter it will still amuse. Indeed, as we learn more about the guy who spends the majority of his time holding the camera, we find that despite the awful situation the group face, things can still be funny. I found myself chuckling occasionally - and that's not because I'm some sick puppy.

Is it any good?: The first twenty or so minutes act as a fairly pedestrian introduction to the characters that you'll be following, whereas when the action hits, it's relentless and doesn't give up right up to the end. Whilst the film is actually just under an hour and a half long, you'll feel like you've sat in on something that's more like 2+ hours. Keeping up with the action will make you feel tired with all that's going on - and there's a lot going on.

On another note, the film seems to tease you with regards to how much of the monster it shows. Initially you might just see a bit of leg, then a bit more - until you get to the full sight of the beast at the end. Only then do you start to realise the full scale of the thing - it's huge.

Should I go and see it?: Oh yes, you should. This is the sort of stuff that cinema is for - and you might just drop your popcorn every so often. The film appears to be a cludge between Gozilla, Blair Witch, Alien and Independance Day, but possibly I'm doing the movie a big injustice by saying that because retrospectively, The Blair Witch Project got on my nerves. This certainly didn't - and I might even go and see it again. (4/5)

Other reviews: Here, here and here.
Comments

Efergy Energy Meter

It's a smart electricity consumption monitoring device - and it doesn't need any wiring. How does it work? Or indeed, does it work at all? Read More...
Comments

Sweeney Todd

As you'll have seen from my previous post, I was duty bound to see this film. I guess that now means I'm duty bound to review it.

Plot overview:
Set in 19th century London, the story features Benjamin Barker the barber (say that after a drink or two) who seeks revenge on the judge who sent him away for fifteen years - robbing him of his wife and daughter. Barker sets up business as Sweeney Todd the Barber, situated above a pie shop. It's not long before an unholy alliance is made and the bodies from his kills turn into pie-filling.

Who's in it?: Mr Depp is Benjamin Barker, Helena Bonham Carter is Mrs Lovett the pie-shop owner and Alan Rickman is the evil judge. Add in Sacha Baron Cohen for a bit of randomness and you've got quite an impressive cast.

Is it any good?: My partner, who had been gagging to see this film came out feeling a bit let-down, saying that the music score was at times inappropriately over-dramatic to the point of annoyance. The guy sat to my left fell asleep during the film and snored. That's hardly a good start and I'm not a musical sort of person, but I managed to get to the end without feeling my life had been robbed of a couple of hours, which is quite an achievement. Even more of a surprise is that Johnny Depp can actually sing. It's just a shame that he can't do a British accent very well. In Pirates of the Caribbean he sounded like Keith Richards, but in Sweeney Dodd he sounds like David Bowie. Helena Bonham Carter does a pretty good job of being the piemeister, but I'm not entirely sure she was as sordid for the part as we're led to believe she should be. There's plenty of CGI in there too, which generally succeeds in making 19th Century London look downright grey and awful.

Should I go and see it?: It's an interesting notion to see a film that combines music humour with blood, gushing at times as per Kill Bill, but it gets away with it. It's an 18 certificate - and deservedly so. If you're squeamish, don't see it. If you like laughs with your body count, do. (3.5/5)

Other reviews: Here, here and here.
Comments

No Country For Old Men

Plot overview: Whilst out hunting antelope, a Texan man finds two million dollars, a pick-up truck full of drugs and an assortment of dead people. Do you call the police, or take the money and run? Well, it would be a very short film if he did the former, so as you might have gathered, he takes the money and runs - but he doesn't realise there's a tracking device in the money-case. After not too long, he's being hunted down by a man who can only be described as the embodiment of the pure evil. Oh - and the police eventually discover the bodies, but they're not really the ones you need to be scared of. The film develops into a chase, with guns. Lots of guns. The body count is quite high.

Who's in it?: If I'm honest about it, it's only Tommy Lee Jones (who's the sheriff) that I could identify. Don't let that put you off, though. The acting is superb and the cast are well selected.

Is it any good?: I went to a preview screening with my partner. I generally enjoyed it, despite a few flaws, but my partner really didn't like it at all. I now have to watch Sweeney Todd with her by way of an apology - make of that what you will. So as I'm the one writing the review, I'll recommend it. The film is bleak, very bleak indeed. The dusty Texan landscape, the western-esque parallels and the nutjob who kills with a gas cylinder - they're all there. The film does have some minor flaws (which I shan't elaborate on, as they'd be big spoilers), but generally it's well executed throughout. Chigurgh (our psychotic nemesis) tosses coins to decide the fate of people's lives, the sheriff and his colleague seem to bumble their way from day to day and the body count of Mexicans piles up. Perhaps there's an analogy there somehow.

Should I go and see it?: To me, this film as more of a modern-day western. If that sort of thing floats your boat, then perhaps you should go and get your film of dust, guns and fine-talkin' - with the odd bit of humour thrown in. The film has been nominated for a good few awards - and I can see why. I'll be surprised if it doesn't come away with something. (4.5/5)

Other reviews: Here, here and here.
Comments

Asus Eee PC

Looking for a very small (and cheap) computer? Read on - this seems to fit the bill... Read More...
Comments

I Am Legend

Plot overview: The film commences with a smug Emma Thompson, telling the world that a cure for cancer has been found - and the next thing you know, the majority of the world's population has been wiped out by a virus called KV. That's with the exception of Will Smith of course, because when he's not playing golf on an aircraft carrier or talking to shop dummies or hunting deer, he's trying to find a cure for the disease in his laboratory back at home in Manhattan.

Who's in it?: The cast is not particularly extensive in this film. Will Smith. And a dog. The dog deserves an Oscar. Will Smith doesn't.

Is it any good?: If there's one thing that you can't fail to be impressed with, it's the cinematography. Maybe I'm easily impressed, but it's quite a sight to see an area such as Manhattan completely empty, bar one man who's hunting deer. The problem is that the nature of film means you immediately draw comparisons with other films such as 28 Days/Weeks later. In fact, with an abandoned city and raging hordes of nasties coming out at night, this film could have easily been called 2.8 Years Later - but it was a few years too late for that. The first 60 or so minutes of the film are generally pretty good, with Will Smith (and dog) pottering around, along with momentary flashbacks to before mankind's annihilation. It's only when the nasties (which are very evidently CGI generated) come into play that the wheels fall off a bit, resulting in the last 10 minutes lacking all credibility - which is a shame, because it had potential.

Should I go and see it?: If you can ignore the faults, then go ahead. The story still has bits that make you laugh and cry, meaning that for all its issues it's still worth seeing - even if it's just for the visual splendour. (3.5/5)

Other reviews: Here, here and here.
Comments

Sarcasm

If you'd like a chuckle, follow this link (*clicky*) and have a read of the reviews of Katie Price/Peter Andre's album, "A whole new world". It's good to see the art of sarcasm is not wasted upon this talentless couple. No doubt the reviews will probably get pulled in a couple of days....

Read the reviews and weep with laughter.

Quotes include:

"Restored my eyesight after 36 years"
"I cried strange tears"
"Saved me from killing myself"
"Blew my testicles off"
Comments

Zero 7 - The Garden

The Garden - Album Cover

The other day, I happened to be at the store of a certain music retailer, when I heard the first track of this album, futures, playing. Apart from the fact that it sounded distinctly like Zero 7's chilled out low-fi sound, the other thing that struck me was Jose Gonzalez's distinctive voice on vocals - and on that basis, I shelled out a tenner and bought the album. Hardly rocket-science, I know, but in listening to this album you start to think that actually Jose Gonzalez does provide the ideal voice. left behind Is yet another track that is typically Jose Gonzalez and wouldn't sound out of place on an album of his own work.

This album provides many tracks that are what you know Zero 7 for, such as throw it all away and this fine social scene - unobtrusive and chilled. They've occasionally tried something new too, with wobbly synth in you're my flame, which sound like something that's possibly come from an 80's arcade game - but it works.

Where Gonzelez has enhanced the album with his vocal talent, it's a shame the same couldn't have been reciprocated on one of his tracks. There's a rehash of Crosses on here and perhaps because I've heard the original so many times, I can't get my head around this one. It was perfect as it was. If there's a track I'll skip, it'll be that one. It's far too busy.

The album won't set the world on fire, but it's a good listen if you're after something that's a relaxed affair. It's well produced and it won't be gathering dust on my CD shelves.

Overall: 3.5/5
Comments

Jose Gonzalez - Veneer

Veneer Album Cover

I'd never heard of this guy before, but about a month ago I listened to a couple of tracks on a certain music store's "listening post" and fell in love with the album there. The music feels personal and conveys emotion - a stark contrast to most of the manufactured shit that appears to be churned out at the moment.

This album is just half an hour long and is simply a guy and a guitar, but it doesn't matter. If anything, that's the beauty. It's one of those albums best listened to when you're chilled out in a darkened room, with nothing but a pair of quality headphones for company. It's only April, but I'd rate this as possibly one of the best albums of the year - other artists will have to go some to beat this.

As a random nugget of info, I understand that the track "Hearbeats" has been used in a Sony advert - as someone who doesn't have a telly, this piece of trivia is wasted on me, but it might mean something to you if you've heard it before, but couldn't work out the artist.

Anyway - buy it. And if you want to listen beforehand, you can do so in two places.

Clicky *here* and you can listen to a few full tracks.
Clicky *here* and you can sample a bit of all of the album tracks.

Go on, bugger off and have a look now.
Comments

Coldplay - X&Y (2005/Parlophone)

X & Y Album Cover

"Their best yet", say NME. Well, at least, that's what the sticker on the cover says. Reading that, your expectations are high from the start.

I've listened to this album, many, many times. Normally, this would be because it's what I call a "grower" and the more you listen to it, the better it gets, but in this case I'm listening to it a good few times so I can get my head round why every other review I've seen seems to like it. Perhaps I don't get it?

Don't get me wrong, there's some damn good tracks on there. Square One, What If and White Shadows give you the impression that the little sticker means something, but then you get to Fix You.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Whinging vocals, almost sounding like another group doing a parody of Coldplay, I can't get through the first minute without skipping the track. Quite simply, it grates on my nerves. Forty-five seconds, tops, and I've gone on to Talk, which manages to claw back a little bit of credibility.

The title track doesn't really do much to help, either. This is blandness incarnate.

Does Speed of Sound sound just a bit like Clocks but with less soul? You be the judge....

The only remaining track that I can say has something good to it, is Low, which has a nice edgy sound, but by the time you've got this far, you'll probably not want to bother listening much further. Go to the bonus track if you want to hear something a little bit more like old style Coldplay, but there's not much here to ensure you play on repeat.

I've listened, listened and listened and tried to be fair, but this album is bland, offering little new from the previous two offerings. Some of it is quite simply overproduced and I can see this will probably replace the Lighthouse Family as the music that's universally played in elevators and department stores everywhere. This will be the anthem to all sales execs driving their Mondeos everywhere. Avoid. You won't be missing much. Mediocre at best.

Overall: 2/5
Comments