Tag Archives: Film Reviews

Don’t Breathe (DVD Review)

It’s been a while since I last posted on this blog.

Back then, I was fresh out of my Masters, and still debating how I was going to proceed with my final project/other blog, ‘New to Comics’. I do intend to keep that going, but in the intervening months between then and now, I’ve been a cleaner, then unemployed, and now work part-time at That’s Entertainment.

For a lot of that time, I haven’t been able to afford to keep buying the comics and films that I would need to keep it going, so until I do, I’ve decided to take a different route; I figured, why let my collection of DVDs sit there, some of them barely touched, when I could just go back across the decades and review those? So that’s what I’m going to aim to do; at least one new film review every week. It’ll be anything from recent releases like Don’t Breathe, to classics like The Godfather.

So here we go, welcome back to my blog (or just welcome, if you’ve never been here before), let’s get to it!

First up? As the title would suggest, it’s the aforementioned Don’t Breathe.

RELEASED: 26th August 2016
DIRECTED BY: Fede Álvarez
WRITTEN BY: Fede Álvarez & Rodo Sayagues
PRODUCED BY: Fede Álvarez, Sam Raimi & Robert Tapert
STARRING: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto & Stephen Lang

REVIEW: I’ve been wanting to watch this film for a while, and now that I’ve finally gotten round to it, almost a year after release, I can safely say it doesn’t disappoint.

The film follows three teens (Levy, Minnette & Zovatto) who have been robbing from numerous houses that have security systems installed by one of their fathers (hence how they have the keys and technology to disable the alarms). Although they shy away from stealing money, they realise they may be able to end their criminal careers if they pull off one final big score. Targeting an wealthy elderly veteran who lives in a mostly abandoned neighbourhood, they soon discover the man is blind. However, after breaking into his house that night and quickly becoming locked in, they discover something else… he’s a murderous psychopath.

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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in Film & TV


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Can you still make money from film critiquing?

Time was, when people wanted to know if a film was good, they’d look to the experts.

But nowadays, everyone and their aunt can watch a film, type out a review, and lay claim to the title of ‘film critic’. Furthermore, some moviegoers even argue that the word of the professionals means nothing. Using Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as an example; following a horde of negative reviews, claims came out that the film ‘wasn’t made for the critics’ and that the critics were following ‘an agenda’.

I’ve always been interested in this as a possible career path; but in a world where everyone has the tools at their disposal to write their own reviews and disavow anything career critics say, is that even possible anymore?

So when we started our ‘Research and Development’ module in class, and were told that we had to research a section of the industry, I instantly knew what I’d look into.

At first, I questioned how one would become a major film critic, but it was eventually whittled down to ‘Is film critiquing a viable means of making money?’

After agreeing that that was a feasible topic to research, my lecturer quickly interjected that the answer was ‘no’, unknowingly crushing my future prospects. My hopes and dreams were further beaten to a bloody pulp after a meeting with my supervisor, who told me to stay away from a portfolio of film reviews for my MA project. And a career in it.

I’m sure it’s not just me whose been told all of this. But I was determined to set the record straight. Obviously it must be possible to get paid for reviewing films, otherwise, who would write publications like Empire and Total Film?

The boundaries for our research were clear; the lecturers wanted us to talk to people in the industry and find work experience.

So, I started e-mailing around. If I could think of a blog, publication or prominent YouTubers who may be able to help me out or offer me experience, I messaged them.

Meanwhile, I began scouring indeed to see what sort of jobs were on the market. The first related results I came across were these:

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I applied to VultureHound and No Salt Popcorn, mostly out of curiosity.

I heard nothing from the latter. Likewise, I heard nothing from most of the other people I tried to contact.

But what I did get was a job offer from the former. As you can see from the advert, it was unpaid, but I took it anyway, painfully aware of the fact my lecturer and supervisor were still in the right, and that I was perhaps destined to work at Subway until the end of time.

Fortunately, as anyone who reads my blog on the regular will know, that was not to be the case.

Unfortunately, I still had to get by that whole ‘not getting paid’ thing. I searched on.

Still regarding Empire as the pinnacle of British film publications, I applied for a work experience placement. Empire don’t accept these placements directly, and so I was forced to do it through a company called GoThinkBig.
GoThinkBig were nice enough to let me know just the other day that I didn’t have a place on the program. Y’know, almost two months after I applied and after several of the allotted times for the placements had been and gone. Gee, thanks for that. I obviously wouldn’t have figured that out myself…

That was sarcasm.

I did figure it out by myself.

It was starting to seem like getting to a point where you could be paid to review films was an impossibility for anyone not already inside the review world. In fact, this was compounded by a little anecdote I heard when I attended a guest lecture by Mark Fisher, who revealed that he happened upon his career in journalism while he was renting a room from the former publisher of The List. With his job as a box-office assistant about to come to an end, Mark was offered a a job at that same aforementioned magazine as a production assistant, and soon began taking on editorial work.

He’s now a theatre critic who writes for The Guardian, Scotland on Sunday, The Sunday Times, The Herald and The Scotsman. He also gets the award for ‘fastest reply in regards to this assignment’, after I e-mailed him to confirm the details of that story. Ten minutes. Winner.

So y’know, he’s kind of a big deal.

Fortunately, the rest of the lecture was amusing and informative; perhaps one of the most interesting and enjoyable that I’ve been to in my time here in Falmouth.

Unfortunately (yes, I’m doing the whole ‘fortunately, unfortunately’ thing twice in the space of 300 words. What of it? It’s my blog. I’ll do what I want) it, unintentionally, suggested that if you really want to be paid to write reviews, you had to have connections and a lot’a luck.


And that’s when I realised for the first time, despite having been collecting Empire for more than half a year, that they actually have their phone numbers on the intro page. No more faffing about in the hopes that someone would respond.

In other words: stalker time.

So I called the reviews editor at Empire, Nick de Semlyan. Initially, he sounded skeptical hearing an unknown voice on the other end of the phone, but he’s a stand-up guy, so he agreed to help me out.

His words provided some much needed positivity, as he explained how enjoyable it is to be a film critic; to get paid to do something that you love. In regards to becoming a prominent film critic, he stressed that practice was what it took. That one would need to be constantly reading (/watching) and writing to perfect their craft.

True words, and ones that reminded me of a speech we had been given by our lecturers at the start of the course. Words that they gave to all of us, whether we wanted to write novels, non-fiction, copy or script. We needed to keep reading (/watching) and keep writing.

He recounted his own journey; revealing his origins as a writer for Sheffield’s university paper, before eventually moving on to bigger publications like Rolling StoneFHMStuff and Time Out.

So Nick essentially confirmed for me that it was possible to get paid to review films, but
that it took a lot of practice and preparation.

However it was clear Nick was quite like Mark; he was already embedded in the system. But how would one get to their level?

It was following these encounters that I managed to get hold of a freelance critic by the name of Chris Edwards. Being a freelancer, Chris was able to look at this from a different point of view.

Chris explained being a film critic, for him, is fulfilling and claimed that being treated like the rest of the press was an odd privilege. But it wasn’t always that way, as Chris spent three years writing for a blog site for free. He described that part of the process as frustrating, saying he doesn’t think editors should use a writers words purely for exposure, as it’s a skill that deserves payment. He then went on to give the most decisive answer I’ve had. He said that he didn’t think it could be viewed as a viable means of making money. But when he said that, he wasn’t talking about film critics as a whole; so much as people just starting out, a.k.a. me; the guy whose blog you’re reading.

He went on to reveal that he’d built his entire career around Twitter; promoting himself and his work; and from a combination of experience and his social media profile, he was able to get to the stage where job offers come ‘thick and fast’.

So surely that’s the key then? Mark, Nick and Chris stressed how important a wealth of experience and practice is, and how social media is perhaps the most useful tool of a critic in this day and age.

Except, I guess… their words.

But it seems it takes time for those words to make an impact. As I stated at the start of this post, anyone can write a review if they feel like it. And a lot of them don’t ask for pay. I spoke to my own editor at VultureHound, Michael Dickinson, who confirmed that VultureHound doesn’t need to advertise paid positions because they know they can hire writers who are simply looking for exposure; a chance to make a name for themselves and write about things that they love.

Taking the other writers I’ve spoken to’s words into consideration; this is a necessary step. VultureHound itself is still growing; and so perhaps looking for big-time, well-paid writers might be slightly unrealistic. But by allowing people to write for free, as long as they can write to a good standard, it helps elevate VultureHound‘s status and give aspiring writers a much needed platform for their work before they get the chance to seek employment at bigger name publications.

The importance of this was further highlighted when a friend from my previous degree forwarded a job advertisement on Twitter to me the other day. The site, Polygon, asks for writers to submit previous examples of their writing, but highlights these pieces must not be from one’s own personal blog. Hence the need for magazines like VultureHound.

So at the end of the day you, obviously, can get paid to watch and review films. But firstly, it may well take a while. And secondly when you see these jobs advertised, you might notice that they’re not just looking for ‘film critics’, they’re generally looking for ‘film journalists’ or ‘writers’ or ‘article contributors’ as well (/instead).

Still, it’s good to know that I’m on the right track.

Also, I feel like the longer this post gets, the more frequently I say VultureHound.

So, speaking of VultureHound, keep an eye out this Saturday for my next feature and a review of The Tunnel: season two at some point next week [read: whenever I actually write it].

Thanks for reading, and good luck to any prospective film critics out there! We can do this!

And yes, the first film I chose to review for something other than my own blog was 50 Shades of Grey. Please don’t judge me.

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Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Film & TV, Life


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Deadpool (Film Review)

I’m still working on my other site;, but before it’s up, I thought I’d showcase some of the stuff that’s going on over there. First off, my ‘NewToComics’ review of Deadpool.

Release Date: 12th February, 2016

A 20th Century Fox Film, Directed by Tim Miller

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarino, Ed Skrein, T. J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand and Stefan Kapičić

deadpool taxi

Review: If you scan the internet following the release of Deadpool, you’ll be faced with countless articles about how it has changed the comic-book film industry by successfully releasing a R-Rated film which toys with continuity as much as it wants whilst still adhering to the much coveted cinematic universes that everyone is chasing after.

Whilst this is untrue, as it ignores the earlier releases of films like Kick-Ass and Super, it tells you one thing you should know; Deadpool is a hugely popular and very enjoyable movie.

Currently ranking in the top ten of a lot of comic-movie ranking lists, Deadpool tells the story of Wade Wilson; a former soldier who is confronted by the fact he has terminal cancer. Approached by a shady government type, Wilson undergoes a procedure that awakens his mutant gene; granting him a healing factor to rival Wolverine’s and a face that, in his own words, is completely “unfuckable”. But when his ‘creator’, the sinister typical British villain, Ajax, kidnaps his girlfriend, Wilson must don a superhero suit, and slice his way through Ajax’s grunts so that he can get revenge.

deadpool drawing

If we’re honest, in terms of storytelling, the plot doesn’t really break any boundaries. If you reorganise the non-linear film, you’ll see that it is your basic ‘guy gets powers, fights bad-guys, saves girl’ story. This is highlighted particularly by the villains; neither of whom ooze personality, but this film isn’t about them.

No, the beauty of Deadpool comes from the title character himself. For those of you unfamiliar with Deadpool, he is known as the ‘Merc with a mouth’ due to his capacity for non-stop witty banter and crude jokes. It is probably one of the funniest comic films to date, with near every line the character utters having some sort of joke or hidden meaning in it. Does it always work? Of course not. But that’s true of most comedies. But with his ability to break the fourth wall and talk to the audience directly, Deadpool gives us something a bit different; whether that be commenting on his own film’s lacking budget or the smoothness of Hugh Jackman’s testicles; it which makes for interesting confrontations with established X-Man Colossus, and his protege Negasonic Teenage Warhead (the latter of whom was chosen entirely because of her name).

deadpool colossus negasonic2

It’s hard to believe that this is Director Tim Miller’s first big-screen outing, because on top of the hilarity brought on by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s script, the film also has beautiful choreography, a great sound track, and is beautifully well-paced. He’s been given great tools to work with, and he’s utilized all of them well.

Ryan Reynolds has spent around a decade campaigning to make this film made; whether to see Deadpool in a film or to correct his previous failings in the previous films X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern (both of which also get little in-jokes) and the result is one of the most enjoyable, comic-accurate and nonsensical characters ever to hit the big screen.

deadpool load

(Although, that probably depends on your sense of humor, my hairdresser, for one, wasn’t a fan of all the swearing, so be prepared for that).

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Posted by on March 24, 2016 in Comic Books, Film & TV


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The Professional Writer: Ike and I

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking more and more about my second blog.

Actually, that’s a lie.

I haven’t been thinking about it, and that’s exactly the problem.

A problem that led to a bit of a panic last night when I realised I had to pitch my ongoing idea for my ‘Professional Contexts’ module and came to the conclusion that I don’t have the motivation to keep a ‘writers blog’ going; mainly due to the fact that since it’s creation, I’ve posted a total of one thing.

And that one thing is something I wrote in class, ie. not for the blog.

So here’s how things are really going to be (I’m serious this time):

The new blog, now with the new domain name of BLERD Reviews is going to take a focus on reviewing comic books, comic-related movies, and whatever geeky extra film and television I deem relevant (read: Star WarsDoctor WhoAsh vs. Evil Dead, etc).

Meanwhile, the writing I do for my course that I deem readable will return here.

Starting with Ike and I, my retelling of the Icarus myth.

And as a sorry, I’ll throw in an alternate telling of Rapunzel (The Last Ride of Erhard Jäger) at the end.


Ike and I

I first met Ike Caruthers some years ago. He was quite a sight to behold; one of those muscular men you see parading around who know exactly how good they look. He had a perfectly square jaw, with beautiful flowing blonde hair and deep piercing blue eyes. His nose was long and straight, with a Grecian look about it. I usually take an instant dislike to such men; their overconfident personalities; their bodies that look like they’ve been pumped full of steroids. But Ike was different.

Although his bravado occasionally neared the overwhelming levels of his muscle-headed peers, I could see that he had a sensitivity about him. When he first entered the salon, his smile betrayed a sense of nervousness. In my eyes, he was already close to perfect, but he assured me that this was not the case.

I welcomed him, and he explained to me that he was preparing for a prestigious party at ‘The Labyrinth’ club in a few months time.
He had found a positively gorgeous angel costume, and with it he hoped to be the most beautiful man at the event. He made a joke about something called ‘peacocking’ before winking at me, as his smile grew increasingly more confident. He would go on to tell me his only regret was that his fair complexion left him with pale skin. He claimed that for his costume to be truly perfect, he had to look more sun-kissed than his rival, Martin ‘The King’ Minos. Minos was hosting the party, and the previous year had said some absolutely devilish things at Ike’s own event. This year, he was hoping to settle the score by outdoing the host with his gorgeous looks.

Ike continued to frequent my salon, continually complaining that he wasn’t yet ‘beautiful enough’. I warned him that he was in danger of overdoing it, but he assured me he would be fine. I had grown quite fond of him over the course of his visits, but eventually I had to deny him service. And so, just as quickly as he’d entered my life, Ike departed; making claims that he would find another tanning salon.

I often wondered how his party had faired, but in time, I found myself another man and we moved on with our lives.

I must admit that I was both shocked and saddened when I bumped into Ike once more. I was in the hospital waiting room when someone croaked my name, “Dave..? Dave Dalus?”

I turned, finding myself looking down upon a leathery, balding man who appeared to be withering away in the corner. With a heavy heart, I looked into those same piercing blue eyes and recognized him as my old angelic customer. He had skin cancer, he explained; the very thing I had warned him of all those years ago.

I ignored his continued claims that he was no longer beautiful and embraced him, knowing, unlike all those years before, that this would be our last meeting.

The Last Ride of Erhard Jäger

In my time as royal advisor, I have come across innumerable tales of creatures such as lycan, vampyr and the walking dead. But by far the most fascinating of these tales was that of my good friend, the late Erhard Jäger; a monster-hunter of some renown.

It began when reports emerged that a peculiar sickness had overcome the prince whilst courting an anonymous maiden. After one such visit, the prince returned covered in crusting red growths that pulsated and seeped the blackest of liquids. With each day, his cries grew worse and Erhard was summoned to the king’s throne room. He was informed by the prince’s erratic and frantic screams that a monster now dwelt in his beloved’s tower.

The next day, Erhard set off for the tower, where he found the peculiar sight of a long braid of hair hanging from the window, up which he made his ascent.

Entering, he found the room to be dark and filled with the stench of death. From the other end of the room came a soft weeping that beckoned Erhard forward. Cautiously, he lit his torch and surveyed his surroundings. The room had naught but desolate stone walls and a simple kept bed. As he drew closer to the weeping, he felt something crunch underfoot. Looking to the floor, he found beneath him a corpse covered in the eerie black liquid that now seeped from the prince’s skin.  

He crept closer still; holding the torch high, so that he might look upon the maiden, and what he saw was a sight that would haunt him till his end.

Where once stood a beautiful girl now stood something spat from the depths of hell itself. On half her head, her long golden tresses had been removed to show the skin crusted over in a hue of bright crimson. Cracks leaked the same black liquid that flowed from both the prince and the corpse behind him. From her eyes, now blackened across the sclera, this liquid also flowed.

He stepped back in a moment of uncertainty, causing her to focus on his presence. Pouncing forward, she bared sharp nails at the hunter, tearing at his skin with unimaginable strength and ferocity.

Understanding now that the girl the prince had loved was now no more, Erhard swung his strong fist across her jaw, hearing it shatter with unexpected ease.

The maiden stared at him, her jaw hanging loose and her skin peeling from her face, as the black liquid continued to course from her wounds.

Pouncing once more, she ushered a bellow from Erhard, as her claws pierced his skin; scratching into his face and chest. Thrusting her away, Erhard lifted his mighty axe, relentlessly hacking into the screaming maiden’s body, drenching the empty room in her now-black blood.

It is my intent to relay this news to the king, who is now in mourning, as the curse that overcame the maiden eventually took his son.

Of course, Erhard did not know of this occurrence when he stumbled through my door, his skin slowly hardening around her scratches into the scab-like substance that covered the maiden’s scalp.

Neither did he know that there was only one cure for their affliction. And so, once Erhard had relayed his story to me, his expression turned from one of remorse to one of shock, as I plunged my dagger into his heart, halting the beast’s invasion of my old friend.

I worry now that by killing Erhard I have done the world a great disservice, and if this brings about some dark future, here before you lies my confession.


Posted by on November 17, 2015 in Life


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Film Score

About a fortnight ago, I was really in the swing of things. Post’s every couple of days, visitors steadily climbing.

Dog reading paper

I figured that perhaps I was getting into the right mindset. I finally plucked up the courage to apply for the student paper; asking if I could write some film reviews, of which the Ripple seemed to lack.

The culture editor got back to me in no time and asked to see some samples of work, so of course, I directed him to my biggest source: here.

Now I wasn’t sure that was the best idea, but I figured if I gave him a heads up to my reviews of Godzilla, Guardians of the Galaxy and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (sort of), then perhaps he would see some potential, and try me out.

I’m not really sure how long ago that was. But I’ve yet to hear anything. My friend Nick tells me that the culture editor is a busy man, and I understand that. But I can’t shake the feeling that my reviews aren’t very good (and that some of my last posts were long drawn out rambles about comic book movies, which I’m doubting people want to read about). I mean, each of them got a significant amount of views for the site, but the fact of the matter is that I really do need much more practice.

But with absolutely no money and not many films that I’d like to pay what I don’t have to see out at this moment, I figure the best thing to do is to look to my back catalogue of DVDs. The other day I found and bought Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Moon and The Ghost Writer for a fiver. So I guess I’ll start on those.

Unfortunately, the saddest part of this story is that I would have a new review for you in the form of Gone Girl. Me and Nick set up a little outing to go see it, but I was forced to pull out due to my duties to a help-line I volunteer for. But on the upside, I just helped train a load of new volunteers, so I can put ‘teaching experience’ on my C.V., if not ‘contributing writer’.

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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Film & TV, Life


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The Legend of Arnie

Well, here at Leicester we’re well into exam period, and I’ve just got my final (and only) exam in eight days time, and as such, I’m in the mood to write as much as I can so as to neglect revision in anyway possible.

Film Reviewers

So I was just listening to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s film review podcast from last week, and am eagerly awaiting this weeks edition; due in a couple of hours; featuring an interview with Patrick Stewart. However, in last weeks piece, the guys primarily talked about Godzilla, whilst discussing other recent films such as Sabotage, starring the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger. As such, I particularly enjoyed podcast for a number of reasons; as an aspiring writer (potentially a film critic) it was interesting to hear Kermode’s contrasting review of Godzilla to my own, and listen to the depth of which he knows cinema. But it was also interesting due to his critique of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who he claimed, in his latest film, has not shown much progress as an actor since the original Terminator film.

Whilst I can’t really fault Kermode’s point, as he and Mayo go on to explain that despite Arnie’s shortcomings as an actor, he is an excellently entertaining personality, it did remind me how, strange as it may sound, Arnold Schwarzenegger remains a source of inspiration for me, despite the fact that I only got round to watching Predator for the first time yesterday. Here’s why…

Total Recall

In recent years, a lot of the reading I’ve had to do has revolved around whatever texts come up on my course, whether that be A Level English Literature, or the Literature-based modules of my American Studies degree. For the most part, I only end up reading half of a book to get it’s feel, and then perhaps finish it later if it is actually required for some sort of written analysis. What this of course means is that I don’t do much reading outside of course-books, bar comic books, but that’s a different matter.

So towards the end of last (school) year, when I found Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography half-price in WHSmith, I was compelled to buy it. By this point, I hadn’t seen many of his films; I had only just seen Terminator, and I had yet to watch Total Recall, the film his book is of course titled after. So this purchase was more of a spur of the moment thing than some sort of self-fanservice. I thought it would be a humorous read, and something I could laugh about with my friends at a later date.

But then I started reading, and I became hooked. What I’ve since come to learn is that many people don’t actually know much about the former ‘Governator’. Yes, he worked in politics. Yes, he’s a movie star. Yes, he’s known for his physique. But after reading his book, I can admit to having spoken to people who did not realise he was a former body-builder, knowing him only from his days as an action hero.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in poverty in Austria in the 50s. Following the war, conditions were grim for the man who would eventually become Mr. Olympia.

From his teens, Arnie became focused on achieving perfection, and by the age of 16 had arms that were probably thicker than my waist. As was expected, he joined the army, and became a frickin’ tank driver! I mean, how awesome is that? If you ever watch Epic Meal Time, you may be aware that he still owns his own tank, which again, is pretty awesome.

From there on, the book details his ascent to become the body-building champion of the world, before breaking into the movies. From there, you of course know the basics, but the book is filled with interesting facts and stories that prove that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the living embodiment of the ‘American Dream’. As an American Studies student, that’s something that I personally find very interesting indeed.

Arnie of the 21st Century

Lets just look at that progress for a second, he’s gone from living in a small house without water, to having run one of the largest economies in the world, starred in countless movies, owned multiple real-estate properties, whilst having two handsome sons, and two gorgeous daughters, and those are just the one’s who share his name!

I jest, obviously, because although he may have made some mistakes along the way, if you read Total Recall, you can see that this is a man who is committed, and the book rightly ends with Arnie offering valuable life lessons that he has amounted in his 60+ years.

In short, in recent years, Total Recall is one of the few non-course-related books that I can have claimed to read from cover to cover, alongside books like the Hobbit. It’s a thoroughly interesting read, full of joy, achievement, and a love of stogies, and just reaffirms that Arnold is the man!



Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Film & TV


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