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REVIEWS - Eken Magazine






– August 1st @ Phones 4 U Arena Manchester

A curious one this. When I heard that Hollywood legend, Sylvester Stallone, was coming to town for a Q&A and a bit of story telling my immediate instinct was that I definitely wanted to go. But at the same time I hesitated at the minimum of £65 ticket prices going up to £1500 which includes a meet and greet. Fortunately for me, I have some friends who were able to blag us some tickets and off we went. The evening was hosted by celebrity journalist, Sandro Monetti, who led Stallone into one anecdote after another. Stallone told us stories of how he was so poor he had to sell his dog. How he turned down $300k for his script of Rocky because he wanted to star in at as well. We heard how intense his rivalry was with Arnie, to the point where they were trying to steal film roles of each other. He also gave Manchester exclusive news of there will be no more Rocky (in his words if he did another Rocky he would be fighting “arthritis”!) but he is definitely making another Rambo. For someone who is an absolute legend of star and screen, Stallone came across as very approachable, humorous and even quite down to earth. Something us Mancunians respect very highly. He dealt with what has to be said, a rowdy Mancunian audience, with a great deal of patience and I found that I rather had a great deal of admiration for him. The only let down was the actual organisation of the evening, which was an absolute shambles. From the stage presentation, the handling of security all the way through to the end of the evening which finished with a open Q&A with the audience which to be honest, was just embarrassing. I was very happy that I went and even happier that I got it on a freebie. Stallone walked away with a great deal of respect and love from Manchester. I only feel, after the way the evening was handled, I think Stallone may have thought of Manchester as a bit of joke. Next up, Arnie Schwarzenegger in November. Lets hope its handled by a more professional promotional organisation.

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0 STARS - Reviews - Eken Magazine






Picking up from the very good Rise Of the Planet of the Apes (2011), we now see how Caesar and the other genetically evolved apes are coping 10 years after their first initial bid for freedom. We see how the apes have now created a life for themselves in the forests outside of San Francisco. They live a peaceful, harmonious existence, developing their culture and language. Humans are not faring so well. Earths human population has been ravaged by a flu pandemic leaving cities desolate and survivors fending for themselves. A chance encounter with a group of humans tests the apes strengths and determination. The humans are from the city trying to restore power to the damn. Should they turn the humans away, leaving them to a life without the means of power or perhaps help the humans and create a new bond of peace between the two species. For the first time Caesars authority is questioned by some of the apes, suggesting that they should attack and destroy the humans whilst they are still weak. If you liked the first film then you will definitely enjoy this continuing story. The CGI alone is excellent, to the point where you no longer can tell the difference anymore between what is real and what have been computer generated and a gold star for the excellent Andy Serkis and his motion captured performance of Caesar. The story line is carefully told, even emotional at some points and the film moves along at a good pace. And the action sequences are tense and engrossing. So far the pick of this summers blockbusters for me.

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I must be a good boyfriend, I really must because I went to see a film starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, set in New York where they sing to each other and I did it without kicking and screaming … too much! But and its a Kim Kardashian sized but, and please do not tell anyone, but I rather enjoyed it. More than that, I came out of the cinema rather happy. Mark Ruffalo is a washed up music executive. Keira Knightly, a singer songwriter, recently dumped by her boyfriend and just wants to get back home to England. Their paths cross and before you know it they’ve put together a band (ala Blues Brothers style) and record an album across the streets and roof tops of New York. Yes its cheesier than a kilo of cheddar and oh very melodramatic but I enjoyed it and I found it very likeable. James Cordon is in it and even he did not somehow annoy me so it must be half good! Honest opinion – 4 out of 5. If I am being all guyish 1 out of 5 !!

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Arnie, boy does he show his age in this one. I fear for the new Terminator film. I do not think there is enough CGI in the world that will help hide his true age. Even in his peak, Arnie wasn’t exactly the fastest mover in the world but now it just looks like his Zimmer frame is just out of camera shot. Now don’t get me wrong, I bloody love a good action film, especially with Arnie but his hey day really has passed. Perhaps he could do a bit of a Clint Eastwood. Rather than try to hide his age try playing on it instead. Just look how good Clint has been in Unforgiven, In the Line of Fire and Gran Torino. Anyway, this time Arnie heads a DEA team who take down the bad guys. Only this time, during a planned operation, $10 million of drug cartel money goes missing. The team (including Sam Worthington and Terence Howard) is taken down one by one with the remainder suspicious of each other. You know what to expect from Arnie films. It has action, lots of people die. It is entertaining..ish. I just think it is time Arnie hangs up his mini gun and rocket launcher.

2 STARS - Reviews - Eken Magazine





Italian restaurants fit into one of two categories. The Tourist Italian, which offer all the usual Spaghetti Bolognese, Carbonara and garlic breads. The other is the genuine Italian, which highlights cuisine from a particular region of Italy, with fresh imported ingredients and genuine recipes and cooking. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a bloody good Spaghetti Bolognese, but I do a pretty good one at home. And when I go out I like to try something different. Fortunately, Salvis offers the traditional. Previously running a specialist mozzarella deli, they have now opened their first Italian eatery. Stavis offer a genuine Sicilian experience or so they say. The girlfriend is half Sicilian, her father a chef so she can certainly give them a good testing. We went on a Sunny Sunday afternoon for a bit of lunch, nothing too heavy. Decor is simple and the Kitchen is open for a good nosey which always adds confidence to the dining experience. The menu makes for extremely good reading. There are so many dishes on it you would love to try. We ordered some of the smaller plates but it is only small in the title, as these guys do not believe in small portions. We ordered the Verdure Fritti (fried vegetables £8), Arancini di riso con ragu di carne (Rice balls with meat £8), Zeppole e Panzarotti (fried dough fritters paired with potato croquettes £6.50) and the bruschetta con pomodori (£4.50). Each as good as the other, we were both thoroughly delighted with what was on offer. We also spent a fair bit of time rubber necking at what everyone else had ordered and their plates seemed to look equally as good. The only downside I would say is the pricing. I think it’s about 10-20% more expensive than it should be. Is this because a lot of their ingredients are imported from the homeland? Maybe, so perhaps it is worth it after all. We will be returning.

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There are several of these ‘Greek’ restaurants around London. I went with some friends to the one at the Westfield Stratford shopping centre following some glowing recommendations from them. It has all the hallmarks of a Greek themed restaurant – plates on a wall, bookshelves filled with Greek tragedies, the odd statue and a bloke in the corner playing a bouzouki. The food is ‘typical’ Greek – hummus, halloumi, falafel, chicken skewers etc. However, once we started tucking in my friends were soon apologising and scratching their heads at the rather lame efforts of food we received. We ordered a mixture of small plates to share which included falafel, prawns, meatballs and grilled halloumi. The portions were small and expensive. The quality of ingredients tasted cheap, under seasoned and criminally over cooked. I never would of thought that halloumi could be so dry but The Real Greek sure as hell does a very good effort. On the plus side the flat bread was good but that is the only positive from the evening. Even the bloke playing the bouzouki is not going to escape some criticism – turn it down mate, some people are trying to eat, drink and have a chat here! In a lame attempt of a pun and to summarise this review I would say The Real Greek is actually The Really Bad Greek … ho ho ho. If I were you and you found yourself at Stratford feeling hungry, I would go to the far better Wahaca instead. It is just opposite the Big Greek.

1 STARS - Reviews - Eken Magazine

Every weekend until the end of the year, Southbank is home to a mixture of food and drink stalls and vendors. I love this kind of market. They offer plenty of choice and always something different from the norm. I promised myself to try something different, something new and after a quick waltz around the stalls … I went for a burger! But not just any old burger, this was a duck confit burger, with crispy skin bits and your choice of cheese. I plumped for goats cheese and honey and the end result was an extremely tasty burger and provided a nice break from the norm of beef. The vendors of the stall are called the Frenchie (https://twitter.com/thefrenchieuk) and I’ll be keeping an eye out for these guys in the future.

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A wet walk around Soho on a early Sunday afternoon, with growling stomachs and a lack of patience to wait for tables for some of the more popular venues led me and the girlfriend to Vinoteca. We checked out the menu outside and liked what we saw but when we looked through the window it looked rather empty and we could not even tell if it was open. What to do? Surely if it was good there should be someone in here by now. I know its 12.30 on a wet Sunday but surely someone, anyone must already be here if its good. I hate going in to somewhere when it’s empty. I think it must be my caveman genetics of wanting safety in numbers. But we got brave and bold and popped our heads in and apologetically asked if they were open – and they were. Too late to back out now, we were committed to eating here whether we liked it or not. Vinoteca likes wine, lots of it. The walls are stacked with it and you can you even buy a bottle of plonk to take away with you. I can’t stand the stuff personally (come on it all tastes like vinegar) so onto the food. Vinoteca offers a very rustic, very oaken and all rather nice and comfortable decor. Service was spot on but then again we did have our own personal waiter at the time! And the food, it was blooming lovely. I ordered the roast chicken leg with puree potato and the girlfriend had the goat’s cheese salad (this if you haven’t noticed is what the girlfriend likes to eat about 99%of the time!) And the prices are pretty darn reasonable. In fact by London standards and not just London, but Soho, the bill for the 2 of us for breads, mains and drinks came to a rather surprising £23, which to me is a bit of a bargain! I see on their website they have several other dotted around London so they must be rather popular. I guess we just got lucky and got them when it was a bit quiet. Oh and it looks like they change their menu daily so there is always something new to try. On our list to go back to again.

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