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hammer6

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28 August 2006
ROBBIN' HOODS HIT BBC
 
Gangsters hold Beeb to ransom over top show.
 

THE BBC's new flagship drama Robin Hood is being held to ransom by gangsters who stole the master tapes for the £8million series.

Jonas Armstrong in the new BBC version of Robin Hood

Jonas Armstrong stars as Robin in the new BBC series

An extra is thought to have nicked the tapes during filming in Hungary.

Now an eastern European mafia gang are demanding a ransom for the footage of the series, which had been set to be shown this autumn in the Saturday night slot vacated by Dr Who.

Newcomer Jonas Armstrong takes the lead role of Robin Hood previously played by stars such as Errol Flynn and Kevin Costner.

Dozens of Hungarians played extras and one of them is thought to have stolen the tapes to order.

The series, which also stars Scot Gordon Kennedy as Little John and Keith Allen as the sheriff of Nottingham, is expected to be a worldwide hit.

It was the first BBC drama to be shot in high definition - a digital format set to be the next revolution in viewing habits. But now the BBC and production company Tiger Aspect face paying a ransom demand to regain the four HD tapes.

Yesterday, the companies issued a joint statement about the theft.

It read: "Tiger Aspect have been the victim of a break-in in Hungary where Robin Hood is currently being filmed and some high-definition tapes and other equipment have been stolen.

"The thefts are causing inconvenience and have resulted in a delay in finalising some of the episodes. Tiger Aspect are taking all reasonable steps to recover the tapes."

Industry experts claim the thief had inside knowledge as they stole tapes guaranteed to cause the most problems.

BBC controller Peter Fincham had high hopes for the success of the series and is expected to be furious at the security breach which now threatens the show.

Speaking before news of the theft he said: "This exciting drama will be a unique blend of exhilarating action adventure, wit and romance."


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WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?

 

http://www.wdydwyd.com/index.html

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Well, waddaya know ...

I was posting in the NaNoWriMo forums today. Again.

I’m kind of torn about how to handle these public forums. I don’t know if people are serious when they talk about how scared they are about writing a novel, about how little support they’re getting, about how little they know about writing. Sometimes I think that it’s a kind of posturing, a way of soliciting supportive responses, even if you don’t really want or need them. But I’m a trusting soul; I answer as if they’re honestly looking for support. But then I think I’m coming off as some sort of pompous twit or something.

If I knew it all, I’d be a guru or something. And I’d practice what I preach.

But I do know this. You cannot write something that isn’t in you. But that doesn’t mean that you have to write about yourself. There is a huge difference between what you know and what you can find out. What’s inside of you is your experience, not just what you’ve done. I’ve seen too many novice writers limit themselves by writing about themselves ... plain and unadulterated. Yes, the story of a kid trying to come to grips with being different is interesting and universal. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t set that story in 14th century China with a young warrior trying to come to grips with his homosexuality in an Imperial Palace. Or set it with a leper at the time of Christ or a woman faced with losing her job after World War II when the men returned home.

I write to understand. The stories that pop into my head are more questions than anything else. I get characters that pop in there and then circumstances and then occasions and then conflicts. They perform for me, they have their lives and I watch and write it all down. If I don’t understand hate or intolerance, something in the back of my mind will construct a framework to help me understand in some small way.

Most of the things that have been popping into my head for the past year or so have been about faith. We can all guess what that’s all about. And some of them address it head on, but I think the more interesting approach is to go at it from another angle. Because that’s where the surprises come in.

I am looking forward to this coming month where these things will open up to me. I worry that I haven’t picked the right story to tell. But these characters and scenes have been following me around for some twelve years now. I’ve got to get them out soon. And who knows what it is that they have to teach me. Oh, I long for those moments where things suddenly click and I’m taken away from whatever keyboard I’m at and into that world.


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Reply with quote  #49 
Hello.
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone home?

Come on, now.
I hear youre feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain,
Get you on your feet again.

Relax.
I need some information first.
Just the basic facts:
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin.
When I was a child I had a fever.
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I got that feeling once again.
I cant explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

Ok.
Just a little pinprick. [ping]
Therell be no more --aaaaaahhhhh!
But you may feel a little sick.

Can you stand up?
I do believe its working. good.
Thatll keep you going for the show.
Come on its time to go.

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin.
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.




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Reply with quote  #50 

SONG:

 

The Green Fields of France by The Fureys

Well how do you do, young Willie McBride
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside,
And rest for a while 'neath the warm summer sun
I've been walking all day, and I'm nearly done.
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the great fall-in in Nineteen-Sixteen.
I hoped you died well, and I hoped you died clean,
Or young Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene

Did they beat the drums slowly,
Did they play the fife lowly,
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down
Did the band play the last post and chorus,
And did the pipes play the flowers of the forest

Did you leave any wife or a sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart, is your memory enshrined
Although you died back in Nineteen-Sixteen,
In that faithful heart are you forever nineteen
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Enclosed in forever behind the glass frame
In an old photograph torn, battered and stained,
And faded to yellow in a brown, leather frame

Chorus: Beat the drums slowly

The sun now it shines on the green fields of France.
There's a warm, summer breeze that makes the red poppies dance.
And look how the sun shines from under the clouds:
There's no gas, no barbed wire; there's no guns firing down
But here in this graveyard, it's still no mans land,
The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand,
To a man's blind indifference to his fellow man,
To a whole generation that were butchered and damned

Chorus: Beat the drums slowly

Ah, young Willie McBride, I can't help wonder why,
To those that lie here, now why did they die
And did they believe when they answered the cause,
Did they really believe that this war would end wars
Well, the sorrows, the suffering, the glory, the pain,
The killing and dying was all done in vain.
For young Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again and again and again and again!

(Chorus repeated twice)
Did they beat the drums slowly,
Did they play the fife lowly,
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down
Did the band play the last post and chorus,
And did the pipes play the flowers of the forest


 

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WEBSITE: http://www.sacl.info/dummy_lawyers.htm

 

 

SACL* = spending taxpayers money on botched attempts to close this website. Totalitarian, cowardly and an affront to Justice.


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http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/ 

MoneySaving is about cutting bills not cutting back. It's about being a sassy consumer. Companies try to screw us for profits. MoneySaving shows you how to screw them back

Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert is a 34-year-old ultra specialised journalist. He's in constant media demand, including his own ITV1 series 'Make Me Rich', regular Radio 2 phone-in, weekly Guardian column and his 'Money Diet' book is a bestseller.

Martin created this site in Feb 03 and it's now the UK's biggest money site, with over a million users every month due to its binding principles that it's 'Free, Ad Free, Independent, Unbiased and Journalistic'. And all the analysis, recommendations and MoneySaving logic still come directly from him.

 

 

This is a good site for all matters relating to money.

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Reply with quote  #53 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magpie

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/ 

MoneySaving is about cutting bills not cutting back. It's about being a sassy consumer. Companies try to screw us for profits. MoneySaving shows you how to screw them back

Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert is a 34-year-old ultra specialised journalist. He's in constant media demand, including his own ITV1 series 'Make Me Rich', regular Radio 2 phone-in, weekly Guardian column and his 'Money Diet' book is a bestseller.

Martin created this site in Feb 03 and it's now the UK's biggest money site, with over a million users every month due to its binding principles that it's 'Free, Ad Free, Independent, Unbiased and Journalistic'. And all the analysis, recommendations and MoneySaving logic still come directly from him.

 

 

This is a good site for all matters relating to money.


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Books:

 

Cut-throat: The Vicious World of Rod McLean - Mercenary, Gunrunner and International Drug Baron

 

 
Synopsis
Fact is often stranger than fiction - and when escaped drug baron and MI5 agent Roddy McLean was mysteriously found dead in a London flat after two months on the run, even Hollywood couldn't have scripted it better. McLean had only served 7 years of his 28-year sentence, following a 1996 sting operation off the Caithness coast in which a Customs officer lost his life. Described as one of the most ruthless and important figures on the country's drug scene, McLean had found his security status downgraded from Category A to D and had been transferred to HMP Leyhill, an open prison which had seen 82 prisoners escape in 2002 alone. Only four days after the media had accused the security services of helping him to escape, McLean's body was found. But not only did it take the Metropolitan Police 29 days to make it public, it took them that long to inform Avon and Somerset - the very police force who were still trying to recapture him. Why? Who was McLean and what made him so important? So important, in fact, that even the Home Secretary, David Blunkett MP, was compelled to order a report, much of which still remains secret to this day. The Roddy McLean Story is a truly unique account of his life, death - and the aftermath of both - told in the first-person using material from McLean's diary. Whether as a mercenary in the Congo, an armed robber in Newcastle or an international drug smuggler and gun runner, McLean will take you through his life as he struggles against the darkest realms of humanity - and himself - right until the very end; an end which overshadows the greatest secret of all - not of how he died, but of how he lived.
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Reader's Digest Crime Casebook
 
 
Reader's Digest Crime Casebook (1st Ed.) Book
 
 
Includes various crime stories from around the world including Scotland(Paul Ferris)
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cocky: The Rise and Fall of Curtis Warren, Britain's Biggest Drugs Baron
 
 
Synopsis
At eleven he was stealing cars. At fifteen he was beating up policemen. At twenty he was an armed robber. And by thirty, Curtis Warren was the biggest drugs dealer in Britain. Curtis Warren is the richest and most successful British criminal ever to be caught. He had a hotline to the Columbian Cali cartel, direct links with the Turkish heroin Maffya, and unlimited credit with the cannabis dealers of Europe and Africa. He organised shipments worth hundreds of millions of pounds and had a small army of violent soldiers prepared to do his bidding. His power was such that he was able to control the price of drugs on Britain's streets. And he did it all with a mobile phone, a photographic memory and an extraordinary criminal mind. COCKY has been extensively revised and updated to tell the amazing story of the rise and fall of Curtis Warren. To catch him, police and Customs officials throughout Europe set up Operation Crayfish, a unique operation, putting together a hand-picked team working from a secret location. In doing so they stumbled across police corruption at the highest level, walked smack into a bloody gang war, and uncovered an organised crime network linking the whole of the British Isles. Finally, Warren was caught in an SAS-style raid by Dutch police. Today, he is serving a twelve year jail sentence under maximum security. One of his gang has already escaped, and he has murdered one of the inmates.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Powder Wars: The Supergrass Who Brought Down Britain's Biggest Drug Dealers
 
 
Synopsis
The first gangster to fall foul of Grimes's change of heart was Curtis Warren, aka 'Cocky', the wealthiest and most successful criminal in British history. Grimes infiltrated his cocaine cartel and led Customs to the largest narcotics seizure on record, putting Warren in the dock in the drugs trial of the twentieth century. After turning his attention to heroin baron John Haase, Grimes rose to become the boss of the villain's notoriously bloodthirsty 'security firm' - a professional gang of rapid-fire, round-the-clock racketeers addicted to cocaine, explosive violence and non-stop criminality. His crew would fight gun-slinging turf wars with rival door teams, kidnap drug dealers and broker the sale of swag - lorry loads of stolen whisky and designer sportswear worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Finally, as his net began to tighten, Grimes was confronted with the ultimate dilemma. He discovered his second son was now a rising star in the drugs business. Should he shop him or not, was the life-or-death question. "Powder Wars" also reveals the secrets behind one of the most controversial episodes in British judicial history - how former Home Secretary Michael Howard was duped into granting John Haase a Royal Pardon, a decision that has come back to haunt the Tory leader.

From the Publisher
Powder Wars is the true story of the supergrass who brought down Britain's biggest drug dealers. Gangster Paul Grimes was a one-man crimewave with a breathtaking capacity to steal. Any villains who got in his way were made to pay - often with their blood. But when his son died of a drugs overdose, the old-school mobster swore revenge on the new generation of Liverpool-based heroin and cocaine dealers. Against all odds, he turned undercover informant.
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Lima 3: Taking on the Heroin Traffickers
 
 
Synopsis
In Lima 3 Harry Ferguson leaves the Kilos behind for a new call sign and a tougher assignment with the Lima team, the 'Allstars' of HM Customs Investigation Division. His new work brings him up against brutal Liverpool gangster John Haase. and it soon becomes clear that Haase works closely with a Turkish heroin smuggler known as 'Volkan'. But Volkan doesn't only supply Haase, he also supplies an equally ruthless gang in Brixton and before long the Limas are dangerously stretched trying to keep a grip on the London-Liverpool axis. Harry's health begins to suffer and his wife Nicky, fed up with his long absences and no-shows, walks out on him. Back in Liverpool, the team are poised to 'knock' Haase's gang just as they unload Volkan's drugs, but then something goes badly wrong. Full of shocks and surprises, Lima 3 finishes with such an extraordinary twist it's hard to believe that what you are reading actually happened.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Druglord: Guns, Powder and Pay-Offs
 
Synopsis
When ruthless drug baron John Haase was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment for heroin-trafficking in 1995, it was a major victory for Customs and the police. But in a shock move, after Haase and his partner Paul Bennett had served only 11 months, then Home Secretary Michael Howard signed a Royal Pardon for their release. Howard defended his extraordinary decision by revealing that, while on remand, Haase and Bennett had become invaluable informants. But Haase had in fact duped the authorities and he returned to his life of crime immediately upon his release. Far from being forced into hiding as a supergrass, he had gained new kudos among the criminal underworld for beating the system so audaciously. Graham Johnson interviewed Haase at Whitemoor Prison and has obtained a copy of his sworn affidavit revealing the truth behind the Royal Pardon scandal. Allegations of huge bribes, fabrication of evidence and dark powers at the heart of the justice system all point towards a spine-chilling conspiracy. Interwoven with secretly taped testimonies from many of Haase's closest associates and co-conspirators, this an explosive expose of Britain's number-one drug kingpin.

About the Author
Graham Johnson has been a Sunday Mirror journalist since 1996 and the paper's investigations editor since 1999. He has covered a wide range of stories, including drug dealing in Britain, people smuggling in Europe, child slavery in India and Pakistan, and war in the Balkans. He currently lives in London and is also the author of the bestselling Powder Wars.

 
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------
Gang War: The Inside Story of the Manchester Gangs
 

Synopsis
In the mid-1980s, a Chicago-style gang war erupted on the streets of one of Britain's major cities that continues unabated to this day. Gangsters with automatic weaponry brought terror to the streets of Manchester. Investigative author Peter Walsh traces the inside story of the Manchester mobs and their bloody internecine feuding. He reveals how top villains took over the drug trade and nightclub security, leaving more than three dozen dead, and tells how a new gang culture evolved unlike anything seen before in the UK.
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Homeboys: The Birmingham Gang War and the New Year's Eve Murders
 
Synopsis
At a New Year Party in 2003, two teenage girls were cut down in a hail of machine gun fire. The brutal killings of Latisha Shakespear and Charlene Ellis made world headlines - and brought the Birmingham Gang War to national attention. Two warring factions had brought death to the city's streets over several years in a battle for control of the booming crack cocaine market. But who were they? Investigative journalist Amardeep Bassey was the first to identify the rival gangs - the Johnson Crew and the Burger Bar Boys - and detail their bloody feud. In HomeBoys he traces their roots back to the mid-1980s, when groups of young black men banded together to counter threats to their community from the Far Right. They evolved into criminal street gangs that could call on almost 300 street soldiers. The Johnson Crew's territory was Aston and Nechells. The Burger Bar Boys claimed Handsworth - scene of the 1985 riots - Lozells and Perry Bar. From the beginning they were at war, fuelled by the growing market for crack. They forged links with gangs in Manchester and London and acquired a fearsome array of weaponry. Through dozens of interviews with current and former gang members and law enforcement sources, Bassey pieces together the extraordinary story of their conflict, the police operations against them, and the emergence of a plethora of young gangs willing to take their place.
 
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------
   Gangsters
 
 
Synopsis
***THE INSIDE STORIES OF THE MOST DANGEROUS CAREER CRIMINALS IN LONDON...*** Included are such underworld legends as: * The Adams Family * Kenneth Noye * John 'Little Legs' Lloyd Investigative journalist Wensley Clarkson is an acknowledged expert in this field, and has encountered the villains he writes about. The conclusions he draws are astonishing: that crime is the third biggest industry in the UK; that it even helps legitimate businesses survive. The life stories of the various career criminals featured in this book will amaze and shock any law-abiding citizens that read it...
 
 
hammer6

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Munich (2005)

 

Directed by
Steven Spielberg

Writing credits (WGA)
Tony Kushner (screenplay) and
Eric Roth (screenplay) ...
 (more)

 

Israel attacks Spielberg over 'Munich', his movie on 1972 Olympics massacre

By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles

Published: 24 December 2005

Steven Spielberg had hoped that his new geopolitical thriller, Munich, which opened on limited release in the United States yesterday, would generate debate on the morality of the Bush administration's war on terrorism and offer, as he put it, a "prayer for peace". Instead, the director finds himself at the centre of a storm, with conservative commentators, pro-Israel lobbyists and even the Israeli government accusing him of creating a false moral equivalence between the "terrorists" he depicts and those mandated to hunt and kill them.

The film recounts the aftermath of the notorious kidnap and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, sends agents to kill those it believes are responsible, but the effort becomes bogged down in moral ambiguity as doubts emerge about how closely the targets for assassination were involved, and whether perpetuating the cycle of violence ultimately achieves anything.

The parallels with today's world, in which President George Bush has characterised the hunt for al-Qa'ida as a battle between good and evil, are both compelling and a big part of the reason why the film has touched such a raw nerve. The Bush administration doesn't like to be accused of moral ambiguity any more than the Israeli government does, which explains why defenders of both have attacked Spielberg in similar terms.

Two weeks ago, Israel's consul general in Los Angeles, Ehud Danoch, emerged from an advance screening and promptly denounced the film in a series of interviews as "presumptuous" and "superficial".

Accusing Spielberg and his team of putting Mossad and the Palestinian guerrilla group Black September on the same moral plane, he complained: "This is an incorrect moral equation. We in Israel know this."

Yesterday, after several days of doubt over whether he was speaking officially or merely giving his personal reaction, Mr Danoch's remarks were fully backed up by the Israeli foreign ministry, according to a report in the entertainment newspaper Variety. That had to come as a surprising slap in the face to Spielberg, who has donated generously to Jewish and Israeli causes in the past through his Holocaust charity, the Righteous Persons Foundation.

In an effort to counter the charges against his film - which several critics and supporters say are unfair and unjustified - Spielberg has retained the services of Eyal Arad, a senior adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to organise screenings and generate more sympathetic opinions. Spielberg's staff say he has also been talking to numerous Israeli officials and Mossad officers.

The PR effort has already had some success. Earlier this month, two widows of the athletes killed in Munich were treated to a private screening in Israel in the company of Spielberg's producer, Kathleen Kennedy, and one of the screenwriters, the renowned playwright Tony Kushner. Ilana Romano, whose husband, the weightlifter Joseph Romano, was killed, said: "I feel Mr Spielberg has put the tragedy of our loved ones into a billion homes the world over. Munich handles the terrorist attack and the plight of the Israeli victims with great accuracy."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Mean Streets: A Journey Through the Northern Underworld

 

 
---------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Death Warrant: Kenneth Noye, the Brink's-Mat Robbery And The Gold
 
 
Synopsis
On a cold grey morning in 1983 a gang of masked and armed men stole 26 million in gold bullion from the Brink's-Mat high-security warehouse near Heathrow. The biggest robbery in British history, it unleashed a trail of murder, betrayal and revenge; forced a young woman into hiding for the rest of her life; and kick-started global money laundering. In on the heist from the very first, Kenneth Noye helped turn the gold into cash - and stabbed to death the undercover policeman sent to catch him. Acquitted of murder, Noye spent ten years in jail for handling the gold. Released, he stabbed another man to death in Britain's first 'road rage' killing. This time, he ran. Will Pearson's searing, no-punches-pulled page-turner takes us from the grimy back streets of Peckham via secret Spanish villas and a Cosa Nostra Florida condominium to the high life in Switzerland, playing an expert light on one of the most extraordinary stories in the history of crime: a tale of criminal cunning and stupidity in equal measure; of brilliant detective work marred by Keystone Cops-style failure; greed, ostentation, high-rolling gangsters, their wives and mistresses, and 'Brinks' & 'Mat', the Rottweilers bought to guard ill-gotten gains. Pearson brings us right up to date with the suspected location of the ton of gold that is still missing presumed buried. If you've bought gold jewellery since 1983, you are probably wearing part of the melted-down Brink's-Mat hoard.
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Costa Del Crime

 

 
Synopsis
Ever since the collapse of the extradition treaty with the UK in the late 1970s, Spain's southern coastal strip of the Costa Del Sol has been a safe haven for criminals. Drug smuggler Howard Marks; Ronnie Knight and Clifford Saxe, both involved in the $6 million Security Express raid of 1983, and Kenneth Noye, eventually convicted for a road rage murder, are some of those whose dramatic stories are told in this thrilling account. Spain's unique status became a thing of the past when the governments agreed fast-track extraditions. But now there's a new threat. These days, drug dealers make runs over to the tip of Africa in nearby Morocco, some meeting gruesome ends at the hands of rivals, and unscrupulous property barons hatch dubious deals to provide homes for the rapidly expanding population, much of which is made up of UK ex-pats. This is the fascinating history of the criminals' favourite playground.
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Killing Charlie: The Bloody,Bullet-riddled Hunt for the Most Powerful Great Train Robber
 
 
Synopsis
Killing Charlie charts the extraordinary rise and spectacular fall of Charlie Wilson, the most powerful villain to emerge from Britain's crime of the twentieth century: the Great Train Robbery. Wilson's life story is one of greed, corruption and an eventual descent into a living hell as his rivals decide to wipe him off the face of the earth - with the tacit approval of Spanish, British and US drug enforcement agencies. Although he first made his name in the underworld following the Great Train Robbery, it was as a drug emperor of unquenchable savagery that Wilson came to be regarded as an all-powerful criminal capable of cold-blooded brutality that spelt the end for many of those who crossed him. Killing Charlie takes us on a roller-coaster ride though five decades of the London underworld, including a long spell on the Costa del Crime and forays into the deadliest killing fields of all: South America. Meticulously researched, it uses a strong narrative to pull the reader into Wilson's bizarre, sordid, crime-filled world; one that took him from the slums of south-west London to the drug barons and playgrounds of Colombia and Spain via a lucrative role in developing London's Docklands. A complex web of killings, armed robberies and multimillion pound drug deals lay behind the criminal life and times of Wilson. Yet his story also provides a history of organised crime in Britain, starting when Jack Spot faded out in the '50s as the Krays came to prominence and ending with Wilson's own violent demise in the '90s. Containing interviews with many of Charlie Wilson's former associates, Killing Charlie reveals how Wilson struck fear into many other criminals; how his love of pretty women almost cost him his life; and how he desperately tried to 'retire' only to discover the inevitable - that gangsters never rest in peace.

About the Author
Wensley Clarkson is a investigative journalist and the author of many other true crime books, including Killer On The Road, Bindon, Whatever Mother Says, Hit ’Em Hard and Moody. He has also written screenplays and television documentaries and his books have sold more than a million copies in 17 countries worldwide.

 

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I don't walk into a situation I don't know how to walk out of.

Ronin Poster

With its exotic European locales, double-crosses, spectacular action sequences, and brooding protagonists, "Ronin" has the look and feel of one of those old-fashioned espionage/caper films of yesteryear. Though this action thriller benefits from the scenery-chewing presence of Robert De Niro ("Wag the Dog", "Great Expectations"), the film falls short with a plot-driven tale that eschews emotional resonance and character development in favor of gun battles and car chases. It's good... just not great.

On a dark night in Paris, six shadowy characters converge on a seedy-looking bar, all modern-day equivalents to feudal-Japan's 'ronin', or samurai without masters. Disowned by their masters in the intelligence community, they wander the world in search of jobs that will make use of their deadly talents. Sam (De Niro) is an ex-CIA operative in search of some extra cash. Vincent (Jean Reno, last seen in "Godzilla") is Frenchman who can get his hands on equipment. Gregor (Stellan Skarsgard of "Good Will Hunting") is a German electronic surveillance whiz. Spence (Sean Bean of "Goldeneye") is a British ex-military man and weapons expert. Larry (Skip Sudduth of "54") is an American brought on as a driver. Finally, there is Deirdre (Natascha McElhone of "The Truman Show"), the no-nonsense lady of ice who hired them.

You ever kill anyone?
No, but I did hurt somebody's feelings once.

Their job is to retrieve a mysterious metal briefcase, contents unknown, from the Russian mafia, which is about to be sold to Russian buyers. It is Deirdre's intention to ambush the criminals before the exchange can be made, and the five hired guns get to work planning the specifics of the job. However, what they are unaware of is that another man, Seamus (Johnathan Pryce of "Tomorrow Never Dies"), is lurking in the background, commanding Deirdre's every move. Despite the careful planning and meticulous execution of the operation, a number of serious setbacks and bloody betrayals occur, leading to a relentless and action-filled pursuit across France.

There's no more help, there's no more men. Are you afraid?
What, you think I'm reluctant because I'm happy?

There's a lot to like in this action-thriller. The detailed deconstruction of the caper, and the complications that result when the plan goes awry, offer plenty of material to maintain audience interest. Director John Frankenheimer, who helmed such classic thrillers as "French Connection II" and "The Manchurian Candidate", excels in creating an atmosphere of pervasive paranoia and duplicity, and also adeptly captures the film's numerous action sequences, including the clip-burning ambush and a lengthy car chase through the crowded streets of Paris. The actors give superb performances despite the scant material they are given to work with, especially De Niro as a suspicious skeptic, Reno as the cool and aloof sidekick, and McElhone, who is alluring as the tight-lipped and seemingly cold-hearted ringleader.

Of course, this troupe of actors could have truly excelled if they had more material to work with. The plot-driven script of "Ronin" does not give any time for the characters to develop-- instead they scurry between double-crosses, gun battles, and car chases. What is really glaring in this relatively emotionless script is that the characters do not seem to reflect or care about the consequences of their actions. In their wanton chase across French countryside for the mysterious briefcase, their reckless abandon lays waste to Paris and Nice, and results in the deaths of numerous innocent bystanders. Another dimension to these characters could have been added had they actually been confronted with the consequences of their actions, or balanced the importance of securing the briefcase with the costs of doing so. But alas, it never happens, relegating them to nothing more than your archetypal stock espionage/heist movie characters.

Further complicating the already serpentine plot is the fact that much of the dialogue is spoken with thick accents, making quite a bit of it incomprehensible. Which is a shame, since celebrated screenwriter David Mamet ("The Edge"), who is a master at writing insightful dialogue, was brought on board to punch up the script (he appears on the credits under the pseudonym 'Richard Weisz'. Fortunately, there are two trademark Mamet-isms that do show up in "Ronin": the numerous sharp and satirical lines uttered throughout the film, and the use of 'McGuffin'. The 'McGuffin', coined by Alfred Hitchcock, is a plot device that drives the motivations of the characters. It is not important what the McGuffin is, or how it works-- what is important is that the characters feel that it is important. In David Mamet's directorial debut "The Spanish Prisoner", the McGuffin is a mathematical model that would allow a company to profit from the stock market. In "Ronin", the McGuffin is the briefcase-- nobody knows what's inside, but they do know that it is important enough to kill for it.

In spite of the shortcomings of its script, "Ronin" is still a thrilling roller-coaster ride full of pyrotechnics and intrigue. Had it not been for the superb cast, scenic vistas, and superb action direction of Frankenheimer, this probably would have been just another bone-headed action movie.

Stellan Skarsgard, Natascha McElhone, Jean Reno, Robert De Niro, Jonathan Pryce, and Sean Bean

Images courtesy of MGM. All rights reserved.


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Hi All... thanks for your posts with regards to Movies, Books, Music, Websites, Blogs....

 

Perhaps it's just me, but the film 'Ronin' sent me to sleep quicker than a dose of Nytol ever could.  You want a film worth watching?  Then check this one out...

 

Man on Fire (2004) - Review

  MAN ON FIRE
 A scene from 'Man on Fire (2004)'

In the film (a remake of a 1987 flick of the same name) Denzel Washington coasts through his role as John Creasy, your average ex-undercover operative now saddled with a drinking problem and a yen for his own death. His buddy from the bad old days, Rayburn (Christopher Walken), now a wealthy Mexican businessman of ill repute, gets Creasy a job as bodyguard for the nine-year-old daughter of Mexico City industrialist Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony). The average parent might have noticed that Creasy might not have been the best man for the job, seeing as he drinks, is temperamental with the daughter, and tries to off himself one lonely night. But the girl herself, Pita (Dakota Fanning), takes to crusty old Creasy anyway, saying to her mother (Radha Mitchell) that “he’s like a big, sad bear” and filling her notebook with moony scribblings about how much she loves him. Creasy finally warms up to Pita, an irresistibly personable ball of energy as played by Fanning, who also brings a powerfully adult presence to her scenes with Washington, complementing his character’s world-weariness: they’ re like the only two adults in a world full of corrupt, venal teenagers.
 
Given that the film is called Man on Fire and not My Bodyguard II: Pita’s Happy Adventure, it’s inevitable that Pita is going to be taken away from Creasy. And when that happens, it’s like the roof of hell got ripped open as Creasy extracts vengeance from anybody even remotely attached to Pita’s kidnapping. Although it’s pretty standard stuff plot-wise, the depths to which the film will send Creasy on his rampage through a network of petty crooks and powerful, corrupt policemen are darker and queasier than one would expect. Fortunately, the filmmakers knew that to justify this volcanic rage, they’d have to provide a pretty good reason for it, which they did early on with the segments with Creasy and Pita that hover over the rest of the film like a haunting melody.

It’s a testament to the strength of the film’s actors (a uniformly excellent bunch, with the exception of Anthony, who’s sleepwalking) and Scott’s powerful visuals that they are able to at all transcend the limitations of the schlocky screenplay by Brian Helgeland (Mystic River), who appears to have made himself a purveyor of Catholic-tinged revenge flicks. Scott ups Helgeland’s aura of doomed religiosity – already pretty thick, what with all the Bible quotes, references to St. Jude, and discussions of God’s forgiveness floating around – by shooting much of the film in cavernous, cathedral-like interiors. Crucial exchanges are criminally underwritten, though, making several stretches of this overlong film feel like a slog. Helgeland has a tendency to fall back on the hoariest old standards (“she taught him to love again”) when he’s not making up embarrassing new lows. One scene in particular stands out in its ineptitude: Rayburn is discussing Creasy’s vendetta with a Mexican federal agent (Hannibal’ s engagingly rumpled Giancarlo Giannini) and says, “His art is death, and he’s about to paint his masterpiece.” It’s a laughable line, but at least Walken is there to give it his trademark snap.

Man on Fire is never less than sumptuous visually, Scott having made full use of his fecund Mexico City locations, mixing painterly shots of decayed beauty that recall Amores Perros with his own trademark stuttery expressionism. Although the film’s impressive look, the undeniable power of its cast, and Scott’s laudable attempt to push the envelope emotionally can’t quite overcome the screenplay’s limitations, it provides a welcome dose of heart in a month of gimmicky revenge fantasies like Kill Bill: Volume 2 and The Punisher.

The DVD includes two audio commentaries from Scott, Fanning, and various cohorts.

Liar, liar, man on fire.

 


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Quadrophenia (DVD)

 

 

Synopsis
It's the Mods versus the Rockers in this striking adaptation of the Who's classic rock opera about alienated youth in the 1960s. The film follows Jimmy (Phil Daniels) an angry young man who feels that he can only achieve a sense of identity and meaning in life through his gang and rock and roll music. This edgy time capsule also features Sting (in his acting debut), Leslie Ash, and Ray Winstone. In addition to Who songs such as 'Love, Reign O'er Me', 'The Real Me', and 'My Generation', the soundtrack includes R&B classics by James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and others. Acting debut for rock musician/performer Sting.
 
 
Quadrophenia: Remastered (CD)
 
Description
By the early 1970s, rock & roll had been around long enoughto begin to examine its own past. In the States, this resulted in Sha Na Na, but in Great Britain, where the popular culture of the young was more complex and coded, the Who's QUADROPHENIA was the most powerful example of this nostalgic view. Reviews at the time focused primarily on the obscure psychological aspect of the story--supposedly, the four sides of the original double-album set are meant to examine the four sides of the main character's personality, each one represented by a different member of the Who. However, the most interesting aspect of QUADROPHENIA is its seamy but poetic depiction of London's early-'60s Mod subculture, from which theWho originally sprang.
Set during the weekend of a climactic seaside gang fight between the Mods and their archenemies the Rockers, Townshend's story follows Jimmy, the archetypal Mod. The impressionistic songs tell an elliptical tale, but also function on their own as vintage '70s Who at their hard-rock height--the sneering "The Punk and the Godfather",the driving "5:15" and the anthemic, redemptive closer "Love, Reign O'er Me" are among Townshend's finest work.
 
 
 
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