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argo
Author: Vinny Staggliano
Review Added 2014-12-20
Review Rating N/A/100 0 votes
Some people don't like Ben Affleck simply because he was one half of "Bennifer" - his relationship with Jennifer Lopez and the tabloid lot that came with it. But, I for one, am a fan. Take away stuff like Pearl Harbour, Gigli, and Daredevil, and this man can act. And act well. Now, it seems, he has proven himself as an excellent director. The under-rated 2007 movie Gone Baby Gone and 2010's brilliant The Town witnessed Affleck's first two gigs in the directors chair. His third effort, Argo, sees him as not only director and actor but also as producer. It's his best directed movie too.

The movie itself is based around the 1979 Iranian crisis and the events that became known as the Canadian Caper. Amid the chaos of when Iranian militants storm the US Embassy in Tehran in retaliation for the nation's sheltering the recently deposed Shah, more than 50 of the staff are taken as hostages, but six escape and hide in the home of the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). With the diplomats situation kept a secret, the US State Department look for ways to get them safely out of Iran. No easy task. At this point, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck), leads the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran under the guise that the diplomats were indeed actually Canadians scouting for a location for a forthcoming major Hollywood picture called "Argo" in the Iranian capital. A crazy idea but one, believe it or not, is true.

At times, the movie is tense, exciting and occasionally darkly comic. An excellent ensemble cast, including John Goodman, Victor Garber, Bryan Cranston and Kerry Bishe, make it one of 2012's finest films. Argo has an energy that sweeps the viewer along right up to the tarmac-chase at Tehran airport in the climax.

Truth is stranger than fiction. Well, yes. That's Hollywood for you.
noel gallagher and the high flying birds
Author: Vinny Staggliano
Review Added 2014-12-17
Review Rating N/A/100 0 votes
With the demise of Oasis back in 2009, it was brother Liam that first emerged from the ashes of the split with his new outfit Beady Eye's debut effort Different Gear, Still Speeding that kept fans of the Manchester group ready for more. Then it was over to the senior Gallagher brother.

Having taking inspiration from the Jefferson Airplane album track "High Flying Birds", the self-titled debut Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds opens with the cinematic and epic "Everybody's On The Run". A long intro and enormous vocals, this track could fit on an Oasis album during the band's mid-90's explosive Britpop days - yet it has an air of maturity about it.

"Dream On" is Noel being Noel. It's got all the 60's and early 70's influences written all over. "Excuse me if I spoke too soon/My eyes have always followed you around the room" sings the guitarist on "If I Had A Gun". One of the most gorgeous of Noel's songs, not just on this collection, but on any record the man has put out since his career began almost 20 years ago.

"The Death Of You And Me" was the album's first single. In hindsight, there was better options to put out first, but the song is as catchy as it is clever. Full of hooks, mellotron riffs, trumpets and that classic 60's feel to it. Pure Noel. As it "(I Wanna Live In A Dream) In My Record Machine". It was written during Oasis' Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants album in 2000. Here, and twelve years later, featuring euphoric guitar licks, a glorious choir section, it gets the High Flying Birds makeover. The finished product is phenomenal.

Things get a little more up-tempo (and the closest thing to dance music you will hear from any ex-member of Oasis) on "AKA...What A Life". Minimal lyrics, it will still be hard to remain still listening to this in a live setting.

Like "Dream On", "Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks" also has all of Noel's influences on it's sleeve as well as it's interesting lyrical content. "AKA...Broken Arrow" is another new song and one that wouldn't have been out of place on "(What's The Story?) Morning Glory". "Leave me peace/I'm all alone with my angel/She's dying a dream/So I could live my life" he sings. Lyrically, it's one of Gallagher Snr's finest moments on record.

"(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach" oozes Marc Bolan meets John Lennon. But with that Mancunian twist. How does he do it? Finally, "Stop The Clocks" closes the record. The elusive song, that Oasis fans had been waiting about a decade to hear after Noel declared it his masterpiece some years back. But he says that a lot. "What if I'm already dead/How would I know" is the spooky chorus in the psychedelic, uplifiting album-closer.

All in all, it's the best collection of songs Noel has produced since the mid-90's. Now over to you, Gallagher Jnr.
FIFA 13
Author: barca-rob
Review Added 2014-12-15
Review Rating N/A/100 0 votes
The latest edition in EA Sports' FIFA series witnesses a fine and detailed display of gameplay that closely resembles the real thing. When playing, the first thing you'll notice is the first touch feature. This calculates a player's ability to receive a pass based on his skill, his position, and the speed of the ball. In short, a missile-like hoof across the pitch will no longer be obediently and magnetically attracted to a team mate's foot. Sure, the likes of Andres Iniesta and Edin Hazard can - and do - take down incredible 50-yard passes comfortably, but other players, such an unfit Alessandro Nesta, an out-of-form Robbie Keane or a just-back-from-injury Charlie Adam will need to take drastic measures like slowing down, re-positioning, or just preparing to chase the thing when it ricochets off their shins.

Commentary has also improved. Martin Tyler and Alan Smith add their Sky Sports-esque words of wisdom, making a game feel like the real thing from the barstool on a Sunday afternoon, while Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend concentrate on the cup games. All commentators will throw in little facts mid-game, such as Alan Smith pontificating about how the Etihad Stadium regenerated the east Manchester area. In a nice little touch, Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves gives mid-match injury analysis, while Alan McInally gives us updates from other ongoing matches when in career mode. It all adds to this sense of occasion, something EA is also building on by enhancing Fifa 13's connection with the real sport. If you fancy having the commentary on in any other language, Inter Milan hero Giuseppe Bergomi is on hand in Italian ("Gol. Francescoooo Totti! Totti! Tooootti!!!) while a 10 second "Goooooooooooooooooool" in Spanish never gets old. Commentary is available in several languages from other real TV commentators.

Added this year also is the revised EA Sports Football Club section. Here, you'll find a catalogue page where you can spend the XP points they've earned in other sections of the game, buying classic kits, new goal celebrations, licensed boots, pro-player upgrades and other desirable swag.

The only down sides are the virtual pro mode - you have to start off as a 17 year old and work your way up. Maybe it's EA Sports' way of keeping you addicted and determined with the game until the release of the next instalment in Sept 2013. A nice touch however, is that when you play numerous seasons (a dozen or so), you can have the option of retirement and going into football management. But, by which time, all of the famous players of today would have been well retired. Except maybe an ageing Neymar or Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.

In all, it's EA Sports' finest moment. A few tweaks to certain aspects (such as the inclusion of the Camp Nou and Santiago Bernebeu stadia to name but a very few), and FIFA 14 could well be flawless. 'Til next year.