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Pouring Poison (BBC Radio 4: Afternoon Play)
Pouring Poison (BBC Radio 4: Afternoon Play)
Offered by Audible Ltd

5.0 out of 5 stars "Perhaps this is what love looks like. It has the shape of a smile, the soft edges of a shared whisper." - Hazel, 16 Feb. 2016
Through channels like BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 extra, writers, directors, and actors have produced excellent radio plays. Adaptations of classics/original dramas that last 15 minutes serial pieces, or hours long adaptations, or several episodes serials; BBC has succeeded in preserving the tradition of Radio Drama. Which is wonderful for I wish more radio channels would pursue this form of entertainment. Whose art relies on the listener's imagination to visualize the story's characters interactions while the actors speak their words.

Among BBC's various radio dramas exists "Afternoon Plays", 45 minutes dramas with a complete storyline. Among them, one that the writer Lou Ramsden wrote and called "Pouring Poison", an excellent love story between Hazel, an audio describer for Visually Impaired People (VIP) who watch plays at the theater, and Davy, one of the patrons to whom she described the play's actions, costumes, light effects, and choreographies. Thanking her for her marvelous description of Hamlet, Davy starts a friendship with this woman who soon falls in love with him. Though things take a big twist as their relation evolves. In a punch that, when it starts, will give many surprises for the audience.

Of the storyline, the characters were charming and realistic; having both qualities and defects. As for the main character, Hazel's the perfect narrator for this story as her perspective is the main fuel behind the story's twists. Not only that, her qualities and her defects are clearly revealed and plausible at the start of the story, and with Kathryn Hunt's acting, we gain all the empathy for her life and her love for Davy. Making us wish she succeeds in revealing and gaining his passion in return. As for Davy, played by the excellent Nicholas Boulton (Dragon Age, Wolf Hall, Albatross 3rd and Main, and other BBC radio productions), he displays the perfect charisma, vulnerability, and strength to make us understand how she falls in love with him and how he appreciates her company. By the way, I do have to commend how Lou Ramsden and Nicholas Boulton portrayed Davy's handicap. Indeed, they give a very accurate and realistic point of view of his life after he became blind due to health issues, but they don't treat him with pity and condescendance like how some people point fingers in public and how scandal talk shows treat differences under a freak show philosophy. Instead, Nicholas, Katherine, and Lou treat Davy with dignity and respect, which I applaud as I have a relative who has become visually impaired; and with the way those three did their story, I am sure my family relative would have appreciated the honorable presentation. Also, Lou's portrayal of the career of visual describer is precise and fascinating, making us want to know more how one could apply for such a career position.

As for the technical transfer, the work is excellent and the volume at very good balance to fully appreciate the play. Therefore, "Pouring Poison" is a great radio drama and a wonderful suggestion for those who'd want people to get introduced to this entertainment realm.


Ancient Egypt  The Glory of the Pharaohs (Unabridged) (Naxos Junior Classics)
Ancient Egypt The Glory of the Pharaohs (Unabridged) (Naxos Junior Classics)
by David Angus
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £10.55

4.0 out of 5 stars "In knowledge lay power" - the Goddess Isis (22:58 to 23:00), 5 Feb. 2016
Naxos, the musical editor, also releases audiobooks. For adults and young audiences. In the latter's case, a historical piece on Ancient Egypt by David Angus. Titled "Ancient Egypt: The Glory of the Pharaohs", the author presents to us a condensed history of those monarchs that have inspired so many films, novels, comic books, and video games, and painters. Especially their gods; part of the Egyptian's folklore and mythology, but also possible metaphors of the Ancient Egypt life.
In his audiobook never released on paper/ebook form, Angus divides his work in two parts; the first on the rise of the Egyptian Gods (Seth, Horus, Ra Atum, Sekhmet, etc.) and the second on their more realistic counterpart (building of tombs, pyramids, creation of hieroglyphs, etc.). Also, The author mentions that Empire's Fall and its rediscovery by important Europeans like Napoleon and scholars like Jean-FranÁois Champollion. In short, 2 hours of material on the culture of the pharaohs. Not necessarily the most extensive informational source as the audiobook is meant as an introduction to the world of Ancient Egypt for young audiences, but in the end a nice foray.

Now for the audio representation of Angus's work, "Ancient Egypt" offers a marvelous reading through Nicholas Boulton. Actor for BBC radio, but also on movies like Topsy Turvy, TV series like Arn, and video games like Dragon Age 2, Nicholas is the perfect narrator to engage readers of all ages into this fascinating topic. Lively and enthralling, his narration turns what could be a two hours bore into a two hour thrilling adventure. Even better, we dive into a past and cultural world everyone knows its images in pop culture (pyramids, pharaohs, etc.), but not their full meaning. In between his narrations (ex: Chapter 1-3, 5, 8, 22, etc.), Naxos installed excerpts from classical music by artists like Arensky's Egyptian Nights and Chausson's Viviane. Five tunes the leaflet and audiobook encourages us to purchase as it displays each melody's catalogue number.

And with an excellent sound recording with no hiss, clicks, pops, and time lags between tracks, Naxos released an excellent product.

Now although I have enjoyed this audiobook, I have some criticisms over its presentation. Indeed, if practical for research material, I find its lack of a glossary problematic and confusing. For if someone wanted to find information on locations like Thebes, legends like Ra Atum, or the pharaohs Hatshepsut, and figures like Napoleon, it would be useful if the CD's leaflet offered for each term a time code that identifies the second/minute when Nicholas/David mention them. Even if they appear once, twice, or thrice, that simple attention would make this audiobook a very easier tool to consult for personal research or academical needs. Even better, it would have been good to have a bibliography that presents all the sources David Angus used for his book. Material to suggest those who loved that listening to further consult that documentation to enrich their knowledge on this fascinating topic.

Nevertheless, this audiobook is an excellent educational tool to know more about Egypt and a fascinating adventure that thanks to is, allowed me to know more about this Ancient time period.
Thank you Naxos, David Angus, and Nicholas Boulton for a wonderful trip.


Delius: Orchestral Works, Vol.3
Delius: Orchestral Works, Vol.3
Price: £7.11

5.0 out of 5 stars 'That is how I want my music played. Beecham is the only one who has got the hang of it!' - Frederick Delius, 4 Feb. 2016
The composer Frederick Delius is an artist I fell in love with thanks to Ken Russell's biopics, in particular "Song of Summer" which many consider as Ken Russell's most accomplished film. Done for the BBC, that biopic also had the collaboration of Eric Fenby, Delius's assistant who recognised the film as an accurate description of his master's personality and lifestyle. That of a genial composer, but a terrible human being. And of this artist, Ken Russell used him again for his epic miniseries of Lady Chatterley which was watched by 15 million viewers. Taking the Appalachia composition for the Series intro theme.
So whenever I read the Lady Chatterley's Lover novel or miniseries, Delius's music always springs forth to my mind as well as Elgar's. Both representative of the mysterious and envigoriting powers of the wood over humans and its destructive machines.
For yes, Delius's music is as much as a romantic hymn to nature as Lawrence's litterature.

Of course there are many releases of Delius's compositions. Some of them excellent, and others less than surprising. But with this recording done in 1938, another chance of discovering Delius is before us. Through the recording technology of the time; therefore a sometimes grainy sound, this album remains however listenable and the instruments as charming as if we were in the room musicians were playing them. But more than that, we are grasping how Delius wanted his music to be heard through Beecham's recording since he himself stated to his assistant Eric Fenby that this man had mastered his compositions.

And so for all music lovers of this planet, I think anybody who admires Delius must have this magical recording.


Les Liaisons Dangereuses: Read by the Cast of the Stage Play
Les Liaisons Dangereuses: Read by the Cast of the Stage Play
Offered by Audible Ltd

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Revenge is a dish best served cold... and sometimes best frosted" - Brigitte Bardot, 29 Jan. 2016
Released for free in conjunction with Donmar Warehouse's Production of Christopher Hampton/Choderlos de Laclos 's classic "Les Liaisons Dangereuses", this audio adaptation with the cast is a jewel of performances and emotions. Excerpts from the original letters translated into English, this audio is another chance to experience at home the performances of the mesmerizing actors whose work was also broadcasted around the world in cinemas. Chance for people around the world to know English theatre, luck to see how this literary/theatrical classic is still strong and actual. Though again, it was a great idea to keep it in its 18th century period and not put it in a twentieth century period which I remember years ago of a production doing just that; an artistic idea that, of the video excerpts I saw, I felt made the work lose part of its historical context and magic as "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" is ironically a great representation of the 18th century Monarchy culture in Europe and UK; one that ironically forewarned of the 1789 events and Revolution that shook France and the world's view of Nobles and courtesans and their privileges gained by birth.

Of the adaptation, it is great to see how when Valmont or Merteuil quote the other characters' statements, we hear their corresponding actors saying their declarations. Which is great as it makes the audio version livelier. Also, not once are we being told which letter are we listening, therefore making the listening a very comfortable dive-in, without any technical description breaking the rhythm of the show; though we have at certain portions of the story violins playing out music to enhance the emotion of the story and to strengthen the dramatic conclusion of characters' certain declarations like Valmont as he learns the truth of the sneak who forewarned Madame de Tourvel about his past and what he decides to do for the Marquise.

As for the audio recording, the sound quality is crisp and clear. Each actor saying his lines perfectly, and comfortable to express the appropriate emotions to tell their story, which is important as I remember hearing well known actors doing audio performances in video games, but not exhibiting the proper tonality to make their performances efficient. Hurting their work and the final product.

But in the case of this audio adaptation, we have here a spectacle at the tips of our eardrums. One to listen and to treasure. Especially as the theatrical production of yesterday was done in tribute to Alan Rickman who passed away a few weeks ago. An important homage toward that man as he was the original actor for Valmont just like Fiona Shaw (Aunt Petunia) was the original actress for Madame de Volanges.


Two Golden Balls [Region 2] (English audio)
Two Golden Balls [Region 2] (English audio)
Dvd ~ Kim Cattrall
Offered by Amazin' Movie Store
Price: £22.10

3.0 out of 5 stars Quick and on the go, 15 Jan. 2016
Since my Dragon Age 2 playthrough, I developed an interest in what the actors of that video game did through their careers. In the case of the marvelous Nicholas Boulton, who did Hawke's voice, I learned that he did a great range of voice acting for the BBC on radio plays and audiobooks, but also did plays like Wolf Hall, and movies like Topsy Turvy and Shakespeare in Love, a Hollywood machine production I watched mainly because of his appearance, but didn't finish as the storyline was too disappointing, corny and Hollywood-centric more than sincere story-telling.

Also, I did learn that he started his career with a 65 minutes TV movie called Two Golden Balls, starring Claire Skinner, Kim Cattrall and Angus MacFayden. This story concerns Linda's adventures as she, an anti-pornography feminist played by Claire Skinner, participates in a mass protest (4 members actually) where they attack a shop selling porn magazines. An incident that ends her up in jail, into the cell of an american porn actress called Sydnie. Played by Kim Cattrall, Sydnie makes Linda confront the reality of pornography, acknowledging the flaws of that business — like its connections with organised crime, that several movies offer stereotypical, demeaning, and dangerous representation of women, and how certain sick people exploit it for disgusting games — while making her realize that pornography could be more than just pointless titillation. Instead a tool for erotic storytelling with explicit sex scenes.
Something that was attempted by Lars von Trier's production company Pussy Power where they tried to do such films like All about Anna and Constance, and evolved in the epic Nymphomaniac. Something that Henri-George Clouzot wanted to try in his career but never did. Something that even Osamu Tezuka wanted to do for indeed, as the mangaka Machiko Satonaka said in the postface for the Kana edition of Triton's first volume (ISBN: 9782849468456), he said to her, during a train ride, that he wanted to do an erotic and sexually explicit adult story. Which he never got to do, but had revealed through other projects like Cleopatra, One Thousand and One nights, and his executive production of Kanashimi no Belladonna, a Berlin-Film-Festival-Nominated film that influenced the anime Gankutsuou.

So, as interested as I was in seeing unconventional storytelling, I gave this TV movie a chance and watched it one evening. Seeing how all the actors and BBC could pull through such a project.

But as a whole, the end result is unfortunately disappointing.
Not bad, not great. But unsatisfying.

Indeed, the production design and the shooting looks cheap and rushed-rushed. Lacking the proper honing for some scenes and their comedy to work. Which is quite logical as the movie lasts sixty minutes, a too short time length for such a film to develop its topic. Of course all the actors are very good and talented. That is when the scenes work and the dialogues are well written. But when they're not and the jokes come off pretty badly, like in Randall's case played by Nicholas Boulton, then the end result's atrocious. Which is too bad as Nicholas Boulton is excellent with the right script and character. But in this Freshman situation, he is neglected as some comical scapegoat for the major crime lord Vince, played by Christopher Ellison. Getting punches on his nose, threats, and other forms of attacks. Of course, Randall comes out victoriously out of that conflict, but the payoff is so weird to watch that we wonder if in the end, he was even necessary. Personally, I would have rather seen Nicholas playing either as Dexter — Linda's boyfriend — or even as Viscount Osgood, the rich gentleman who helps Linda and her friends do their own production.
And when you consider the quick way they get rid of Linda's feminist friends with a very underdeveloped denouement as they deserved a richer presence after Linda's prison experience, you'd wish the script could have had more time to be complete. Especially with the anticlimactic way the final conflict between the gang lord and the girls' porn crew ends. Because I still feel as the movie ends, that there was a potential for a more satisfying story, conflict, and conclusion.

But looking back at the production values of this film, with its cheap budget, very corny intro, and dreadful music and short feature length, you realize that this TV movie's constraints could not offer such a chance.


Lars Von Trier's E-Trilogy - Element Of Crime / Epidemic / Europa - Subtitled [DVD]
Lars Von Trier's E-Trilogy - Element Of Crime / Epidemic / Europa - Subtitled [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jean-Marc Barr
Price: £27.93

4.0 out of 5 stars The first three films of Lars von Trier. Not his best, but a signal of what he would reveal, 11 Jan. 2016
At last, the first trilogy of Lars von Trier has been released by Tartan Films. In an excellent transfer visually and in its audio quality, the European Trilogy is faithfully reproduced in here. Displaying in here all his love for the German art (German expressionism, Nazi aesthetic) and for other film genres like Film Noir and Thrillers, and Apocalypses, Lars von Trier offers a foray of what he would reveal in his future films. Impressive technical effects, though all of them suffer the same weakness he later recognized. An emotional coldness that hurts the access of this film for audiences. Something that his family life taught to him. Until an important revelation on his mother's deathbed about his real biological father made him search for a quest of truth that would soon glitter out in his future films.
Though with the special features inside, like the future film Nocturne, and other documentaries like how his crew defends him as a very nice and decent human being, offer very accessible and human analysis of the genius that is Lars von Trier both as an artist and as a philosopher.

Element of Crime (3/5)
"The worst thing that can happen in the name of science is when the system becomes all-important" - Lars von Trier
Before doing his wonderful "Kingdom", then his "Golden Heart", his "American", and his "Depression" trilogies, Lars von Trier did another series of movies he called "The Europa trilogy". Movies that revolved around Europe's social issues in a possible future; which he started in 1984 and completed in 1991. Among them was his first movie, "The Element of Crime", that he presented at Cannes in 1984, where the jury awarded him a technical prize, but no Golden Palm mostly due to the hostile reaction of Dirk Bogarde, President of the Jury that year. Then again, several members of that same jury were sympathetic toward the filmmaker, among them Isabelle Huppert who, ironically, would end up seeing and awarding Lars's Antichrist when she would be President of Jury in 2009.
As a fan of Lars von Trier, I have appreciated many of his movies for their rich stories, the excellent acting and editing, but also their humanity, their sincerity, their emotions, and the excellent roles his female actresses always get to play. Movies where he got to express, as Katrin Cartlidge once explained, his "emotional side". Which he then cohabited with his "technical side" during his "Depression Trilogy" (Antichrist, Melancholia, and Nymphomaniac). Technical side that was very present in "Element of Crime". Too much present.
Indeed when watching the movie, I felt that in focusing too much on his camera effects, his lighting, and his cinematography, Lars had neglected the storyline and the characters. In other words, the human side of the story. Because if I were doing a film noir like Element of Crime, which concerns a detective who tries to stop a serial killer from attacking little girls, I would focus a lot on the characters' pain and emotions. But here, we don't have any of that. The story is cold, detached, and the acting's wooden. Giving me the feeling that in focusing too much on his special effects, Lars had inadvertently installed a glass panel between himself, the audience, and the characters. Making us indifferent to the story and to the characters , but also distorting their real reactions, making them on screen wooden, forced, and frigid. Not only that, some of the dialogues were very confusing, had nothing to do with the story, and dragged the movie instead of advancing it. Making me wonder if the movie wouldn't have been better if trimmed to a shorter length.
Now I don't deny the visual qualities of the movie. Using no computer effects, but many lights, smokes, monochrome palettes, and human pyrotechnical effects, Lars has done here one visual spectacle of German expressionism. But as a story, I felt "Element of Crime" could have been better, and he admits it in the book "Trier on Trier" he did with Stig Bjorkman. In that book, he admitted his script mistakes, his detachment to the characters, to the story, but also the terrible dialogue.
So personally, I take "The Element of Crime" as a pre-version of the Lars von Trier we all know today. The remains of a Lars von Trier that had followed the philosophy his family had taught him all his life. Which was to refrain and condemn his emotions. A stupid philosophy he broke off when doing the Kingdom, then his masterpiece of a movie called "Breaking the Waves" he did with Emily Watson, Katrin Cartlidge, and Stellan Skarsgard.
PS: During "Element of Crime", one to the characters narrates the tale of "The House that Jack built". Detail that ironically foreshadows his upcoming TV series, but also his upcoming "fairy tale" storytelling done in a modern setting.

Epidemic (4/5)
"You have read the words! Enter the film! Enter Epidemic!" - The medium
Before the Danish film director Lars von Trier got his worldwide success with The Kingdom and his marvelous Breaking the Waves, he made a trilogy called The trilogy of Europe. Movies whose titles start with the letter E and dealt with the traumas of Europe. Past, present, and possible future. And in the eighties, with the Cold War and fear of attack, there came the panic of imminent death from a nuclear apocalypse. Something that medicine could not cure. And with the apparition of AIDS in the worldwide language, death through an incurable illness could be an unpleasant possibility. So with this film, Lars von Trier and his co-writer Niels Vorls attempt to dive into that subject matter. That is a plague epidemic that spreads through Denmark, Germany, Europe, and, as a possibility, the world. Catastrophe scenario that, in Hollywood, would involve lots of death, guts, and gore. The kind of script you'd see in a zombie film like Night of the Living Dead.
Unfortunately for fans of that horror genre, this is not what happens in Epidemic.
In it, Lars and Niels, playing their own roles as writers, try to summon a new script that they want to present to a Danish Film Institute Executive producer. Abandoning their former detective story with a cop and a prostitute (small nod to Element of Crime!), their new project revolves around a bubonic plague epidemic. Reminder of a crucial past in Europe's medieval history, Epidemic's title appears on the screen the minute the characters start writing their work. Half-diving into scenes from the script then going back to the authors' ups-and-downs trying to write it, the movie happens through this back-and-forth as chapters, an upcoming feature for Lars's future films, appear on the screen. Titles for the days of writing until the eventful meeting, their presence make us dread the dramatic conclusion the movie's narrator warns us about at the beginning. A dramatic irony that the characters are unaware of except us and which epitomizes the thematic of this film. The coincidences between fiction and reality when they blur together and how, when tragedies we take for granted as fictional or of the past do occur, the possibility of escape becomes impossible.
Unlike Element of Crime, whose human interactions were disjointed, confusing, and cold, I preferred Epidemic. Stronger presence of human interactions, emotions, and drama, the story's easier to connect to. This is a movie that presents the reality of scriptwriting, that is the friendship and complicity between scriptwriters as they try to organize their plotline. Speaking of plotlines, it's interesting to see Niels and Lars painting on the apartment's wall their plot's progression because that is what Lars also does in his Zentropa office. A fact that further strengthens the blur between reality and fiction with this film.
At times, the movie fluctuates like a dialogue. With digressions going on subjects like Niels correspondences with American girls to the actor Udo they meet in Cologne and listen to his grief over his mother's death and, as I was happy to see, his condemnation of the racist belief surrounding Germans that they are all Nazis. Which too many people still believe even today and which we got a troubling example through the British reporter Kate Muir from The Times of London who, during Lars's Melancholia press conference (still available on Cannes's website and which I watched in May 2011 the day it happened), dove in right after Charlotte Higgins's (The Guardian) intervention about "Tristan und Isolde" and attacked Lars with this question:
"Kate Muir from the Times of London. My question follows on from the German Romantic thing. Can you talk a bit about your German roots and the Gothic aspect of this film. (Lars:gossip?) And also, you mentioned in a Danish Film Magazine also about your interest in the Nazi Aesthetic and you talked about that, German roots, at the same time. Can you tell us a bit more about that?" (Cannes Melancholia Press Conference 2011, 34:30 to 34:57)
A wordy question that insinuated a sick display of germanophobia as she connected together his taste for the Nazi culture with his "German roots", that is his secret biological father's blood: the German Fritz Michael Hartmann who, when Lars met him, NEVER recognized him as his son and NEVER had any influence in Lars's life and art. A filthy "personal taste-blood" connection she accused Lars of doing during his interview for a Danish film Magazine she never took the time/decency/professionalism to identify in her question at Cannes, but later revealed as the Danish Film Institute Magazine Film #72 in her May 20th 2011 article "No let-off this time for the enfant terrible after "Nazi" rant". Article that she wrote as an excuse for asking her sick blood-racist question and where she has the nerve of twisting the words Lars used to describe Inger HÝst's (his mother) deathbed revelation about his biological father being Hartmann rather than Ulf Trier — fact every fan of Lars von Trier knows and which every biography describes and which any common film critic should know regarding Lars as it's the central pillar of his cinema — to state instead that he was talking about his mother being a German. Inaccurate reporting that proves her quill is as much as a "quick-quotes" as her accusation that Lars spoke about his German blood and his taste for the Nazi culture TOGETHER as they were instead mentioned in complete different contexts during the Danish Film Institute Interview. That is his secret biological father during an enumeration of his passion for Nietzsche and his current reading of Thomas Mann to show the irony that his whole life (artistic and private) has revolved around Germany; while for his taste for the Nazi culture in another context where he was describing his opinion that the Nazis' Stuka's artistic design was more impressive and memorable than the British's Spitfire. Artistic belief, not ideological, that I strongly suspect is the real "root" of Kate Muir's attack on Lars as the UK has extreme pride and nostalgia over its military history — especially for World War 2 — and Lars's artistic opinion could be seen, for many British people, as a "whole spiel" which was how she described his Nazi aesthetic interest in her May 20 2011 article I wrote about earlier.
In the end, her question and accusation at Cannes had the result of making Lars uncomfortable — as he was Jewish but not practicing, as his family is raised under that culture (ex:children' names) just like he was by his parents as a child — and made him reply with sarcastic Danish and Jewish jokes (badly formulated and without a punch because of that stressful situation he did not expect and which made him nervous) where he was trying to pinpoint out the germanophobic nature of her question that implied that "German equals Nazi" and how her question hurt/insulted his Jewish background and faith his parents raised him in, his denunciation of the holocaust in his Europa film, and his interest that he had years before knowing the truth about his biological father. A reply which reporters/artists didn't understand, or knew but did not want to admit, or heard but instead wrote/stated the opposite in complete bad faith to up their sales and images like the Rita Skeeters they behaved that day. A situation that infuriated people in the public I spoke with and other fans like me as we saw the conference on Cannes's website, on YouTube, and clearly reported on blogs and other websites detailing the affair; condemning the reporter for what had happened that day as Melancholia's conference was going well before her confrontational intervention-question, had none of the lousy atmosphere Lars suffered in other Cannes years (ie: Antichrist), and that her sudden question as the second-to-last reporter didn't allow a proper comeback for what had just happened. Ending the conference on a sour note that made fans and people in the public I spoke with (ex: Film Institute employees, University students, shop employees, etc.) think that Cannes should have sacked "her" and not Lars and that the moderator should have intervened and confronted the reporter over her statement and its racist insinuations; ordering her to either specify what she wants, or retract, or reformulate, or pass the mike to someone who has something intelligent to ask. In short, the large majority of the Public and of the Web demonstrated a sympathy and defensive support towards Lars which must have infuriated Kate Muir as she wrote in September 30 2011 a headmistress editorial subtly entitled "Stop indulging Lars von Trier and his grotesque stunts" that proved she did not expect that reaction-and-devotion for Lars from the public and his fans. Although it reveals the cunning/spiteful/two-faced nature she revealed in her articles and which contrasted with her behaviour at Cannes where she had asked her question with a candid and over-kindness/gallantry that I had instantly recognized as phony because it wasn't natural and honest, making me therefore not trust that journalist at all and extremely suspicious of her as she spoke. Not only that, a friend felt that the reporter's behaviour at Cannes made that woman, along with her racist question, more dumb than intelligent as she described Kate Muir as a "C-four-letters-curse-word" that I will not write, but which I quite agree with. Again everything that I just mentioned in this paragraph is an opinion of mine on this whole incident that had an impact on Lars's filmography like the movie Nymphomaniac, but it is an opinion which many family members, co-workers, friends, shop employees, and people I met on the street strongly believe and share with me. In conclusion, this scandal is an event that pinpoints to the kind of prejudice Lars mentions in Epidemic, which he would end up being a victim of, as his movie forewarns that even decades after the end of the War and in the 21st century, there will still be people who think all Germans and those with German blood are Nazis.
As for the technical aspects of this film, Lars is again a master at work. Strong black-and-white as in Night of the Living Dead, delicious lighting, well induced sound effects, and soundtracks with Tanhausser's overture, the movie's machine is perfect. Nothing to reproach at. Nothing clunky for our eyes and ears.
However the restraint in some of the performances makes the film a bit more difficult to appreciate it. Indeed, Lars and Niels sometimes are very timid in their way of acting out their scenes. Though of course, that restraint might be to make their performances more real rather than theatrical, the way the movie presents their feelings makes it a bit more colder than necessary. And of the cast members that do release that energy, Udo Kier and the medium's wife add pain and sadness. Emotions that enrich this film some might find too cold for the dramatic tension in this film. But which the climax explodes toward us.
As for the sound, it is in mono and the definition is, even though not in HD, very enjoyable on a HD TV screen. In particular for a large one.
In the end, this movie is, although better than Element of Crime, still more restrained than necessary and I think that it could have had more humanity in the story. Nevertheless, a fine rendition in Lars's filmography that displays future elements in Lars's works. Which are Hand-held cameras, Wagner soundtracks, the Kingdom hospital, and an apocalypse, and main characters that are self-portrayals of him. Like how Madame Bovary is Gustave Flaubert.

Europa (4/5)
"If the scars of this war are to heal, then we must turn to one another." - Max Hartmann
Ultimate part of his European Trilogy, "Europa" is quite a work of art to look at. Indeed, with German expressionism, Nazi Aesthetic, Film Noir, and Hitchcockian references all melded together, "Europa" is the story of Leopold Kessler, an American who comes in Germany to work on the train Zentropa where his uncle works as Sleeping car Conductor. Hoping to help the fallen Germany while staying in a Neutral political position over the reality he lives in. An opinion that harms him for the worse as he encounters the path of the Hartmann family. Family whose name is in reference to Lars's biological father, Fritz Michael Hartmann. A man who never recognized Lars as his biological father and never had any influences in Lars's life and tastes. A man Lars uncovered the secret truth only when his mother Bente Host told him the existence on her deathbed that this man was his real father. Therefore, making a movie one of the first works where Lars dives in part of himself into his work, which he didn't do in Element of Crime or in Epidemic.
But also, this movie is a tragedy which condemns the taboos of World War II and its post-War period. The culture of silence, of lies, of collaboration, of despair, and of germanophobia that still plague Europe today. Whether from the Germans or the Americans. A movie whose opinion is that in the upcoming future of Europe, World War II will leave a deep scar over the world.
Also, it is a movie of visual and musical references that made Europa one of the most well-received among film critics. Which is understandable as many cinema references populate this film what unfortunately, lacks emotionality and human connection with the characters and with the audience. Making the movie hard to connect with as the technical wizardry of retro-projections, black-and-whites, and color film stocks turn Europa into "a block of ice" as Lars himself told Stellan Skarsgaard. A work so controlled in its presentation and control of its actors that there are no chances for mistakes that make the story more real. More human which is what Cocteau did with "Beauty and the Beast".
However, Europa has the merit of bringing out a talent that Lars would continue in his future films. Strong, determined, and brave female characters. Nothing to do with the sexist archetypes of American TV soap Operas where women think over Prince charming stereotypes and weddings that soon end up in divorces at the end of the season. Instead, Lars's women are strong invididuals with personal agendas and goals; in complete control of their lives and interests. One that Barbara Sukowa plays very well. As much as Udo Kier played her brother Lawrence, and Jean-Marc Barr for the role of Leopold Kessler.
Of the special features in this DVD, which I wish they could release in Blu-Ray, "Europa" offers a Danish commentary with Lars von Trier talking in a very pleasant and not pretentious way with his producer Peter Allbaek Jensen, another interview over the European Trilogy and its hypnotic thematic that, among others, unites the three films. And also a bonus feature where Lars's collaborators defend him as a very nice and kind human being who does movies that unfortunately upset pretentious and obnoxious people. Which I noticed straight away when Lars had his Antichrist Press Conference, first time I ever saw a public interaction with Lars von Trier, and was shocked to see him treated with violence by the reporter from the Daily Mail; one of the most trashiest and filthiest British Newspaper that pollutes the crassest common denominator of the world. Making me therefore realize that the attacks on Lars come from the twisted minds of biased reporters and Lars's replies are just his chance for him to slap back at the stupidity of their questionning. And that a film venue, for all its glamour and poshiness as the Elite of Film Festivals, harbors such idiotic Reporters makes you realize how toxic Cannes's Festival is. With people asking questions of which they already know the answer and treating Lars like they did since his first arrival with "Element of Crime". As a weirdo, a prankster, a fraud, and a manipulator. Though that latter definition would take bigger proportions with Breaking the Waves and Dancer in The Dark as they would start calling him other names like Misogynist.
As a whole, Europa made him receive the technical prize and the Jury's prize, award that would make him call Roman Polanski, head jury of that Festival, as "The Midget"; in nod to his role in ChinaTown. Both in irony and in anger at not receiving the Golden Palm. A calling that I find well deserved; a lack of recognition that however maybe was for the better as had it not been for that, maybe Lars wouldn't have tried to push himself away from all his technical wizardry of his European trilogy and start what he would do next.
Movies centered around himself, his emotions, and his view of the world. Bovarist fables where he would display women as main characters.
Emotional work he would start doing with "The Kingdom", then his gorgeous and spectacular, and incomparable "Breaking the Waves".


Criterion Collection: Europa [DVD] [1991] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Criterion Collection: Europa [DVD] [1991] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £22.10

4.0 out of 5 stars "If the scars of this war are to heal, then we must turn to one another." - Max Hartmann, 11 Jan. 2016
Ultimate part of his European Trilogy, "Europa" is quite a work of art to look at. Indeed, with German expressionism, Nazi Aesthetic, Film Noir, and Hitchcockian references all melded together, "Europa" is the story of Leopold Kessler, an American who comes in Germany to work on the train Zentropa where his uncle works as Sleeping car Conductor. Hoping to help the fallen Germany while staying in a Neutral political position over the reality he lives in. An opinion that harms him for the worse as he encounters the path of the Hartmann family. Family whose name is in reference to Lars's biological father, Fritz Michael Hartmann. A man who never recognized Lars as his biological father and never had any influences in Lars's life and tastes. A man Lars uncovered the secret truth only when his mother Bente Host told him the existence on her deathbed that this man was his real father. Therefore, making a movie one of the first works where Lars dives in part of himself into his work, which he didn't do in Element of Crime or in Epidemic.
But also, this movie is a tragedy which condemns the taboos of World War II and its post-War period. The culture of silence, of lies, of collaboration, of despair, and of germanophobia that still plague Europe today. Whether from the Germans or the Americans. A movie whose opinion is that in the upcoming future of Europe, World War II will leave a deep scar over the world.

Also, it is a movie of visual and musical references that made Europa one of the most well-received among film critics. Which is understandable as many cinema references populate this film what unfortunately, lacks emotionality and human connection with the characters and with the audience. Making the movie hard to connect with as the technical wizardry of retro-projections, black-and-whites, and color film stocks turn Europa into "a block of ice" as Lars himself told Stellan Skarsgaard. A work so controlled in its presentation and control of its actors that there are no chances for mistakes that make the story more real. More human which is what Cocteau did with "Beauty and the Beast".

However, Europa has the merit of bringing out a talent that Lars would continue in his future films. Strong, determined, and brave female characters. Nothing to do with the sexist archetypes of American TV soap Operas where women think over Prince charming stereotypes and weddings that soon end up in divorces at the end of the season. Instead, Lars's women are strong invididuals with personal agendas and goals; in complete control of their lives and interests. One that Barbara Sukowa plays very well. As much as Udo Kier played her brother Lawrence, and Jean-Marc Barr for the role of Leopold Kessler.

Of the special features in this Criterion DVD, which I wish they could release in Blu-Ray, "Europa" offers a Danish commentary with Lars von Trier talking in a very pleasant and not pretentious way with his producer Peter Allbaek Jensen, another interview over the European Trilogy and its hypnotic thematic that, among others, unites the three films. And also a bonus feature where Lars's collaborators defend him as a very nice and kind human being who does movies that unfortunately upset pretentious and obnoxious people. Which I noticed straight away when Lars had his Antichrist Press Conference, first time I ever witnessed Lars von Trier behaving in public, and was shocked to see him treated with violence by the reporter from the Daily Mail; one of the most trashiest and filthiest British Newspaper that pollutes the crassest common denominator of the world. Making me therefore realize that most of the attacks on Lars come from the twisted minds of biased reporters and Lars's replies are just his chance for him to slap back at the stupidity of their questionning. Which occurred before as in one of the special features of this film we see Europa's welcome at the Cannes Film Festival. A film venue that for all its glamour and poshiness as the Elite of Film Festival, really harbors idiotic Reporters. People asking questions of which they already know the answer and treating Lars like they did since his first arrival with "Element of Crime". As a weirdo, a prankster, a fraud, and a manipulator. Though that latter definition would take bigger proportions with Breaking the Waves and Dancer in The Dark as they would start calling him other names like Misogynist.

As a whole, Europa made him receive the technical prize and the Jury's prize, award that would make him call Roman Polanski, head jury of that Festival, as "The Midget"; in nod to his role in ChinaTown. Both in irony and in anger at not receiving the Golden Palm. A calling that I find well deserved; a lack of recognition that however maybe was for the better as had it not been for that, maybe Lars wouldn't have tried to push himself away from all his technical wizardry of his European trilogy and start what he would do next.
Movies centered around himself, his emotions, and his view of the world. Bovarist fables where he would display women as main characters.
Emotional work he would start doing with "The Kingdom", then his gorgeous and spectacular, and incomparable "Breaking the Waves".


Sacred Sites Series: Isle of Avalon
Sacred Sites Series: Isle of Avalon
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Island of Apples at the tips of our ears, 5 Jan. 2016
Sacred Mystic resting place for King Arthur until his return among our world, the "Isle of Avalon" is part of our folklore and legend. An inspiration for many authors, painters, poets, and romantics. A location which, through this album: "Isle of Avalon: A Pilgrim's Memoir", listeners can now dive into its plane of reality. Indeed, with harps, flutes, lutes, electronic soundwaves, choir, and other instruments whose names I do not know, Rusty Crutcher's music allows us to connect our reality with the mystical. Improving our well-being in the process as we realize our hearts are part of a big chain of life. In sum, it is a music that is meant to help the listener relax and connect with his inner being.

But more than that, this album, with its chevaleresque attributes, can also accompany other activities related to the medieval. For example, reading medieval stories like the Belgian comic book Chevalier Ardent, or Tolkien and C S Lewis's works, or Jean Cocteau's play The Knights of the Round Table. Or even accompany a medieval activity you might be planning with friends or a large group of people.
Indeed, the choices of uses are multiple with this album and very advantageous for everyone.

On a sidenote, it is interesting to know that Crutcher allows in tracks, like "Mists of Avalon", noises of birds chirping in the background. As his CV on his website states that work for this album also involved "Field location sound recording", I think Rusty Crutcher really did took the time to record his music in the British environment that constitutes the Isle of Avalon. That is the Glastonbury region; in particular the Glastonbury Abbey, the Brigid's Chapel, and the Glastonbury Tor we see on the CD cover which, before the twelfth century, used to be an island. And according to experts the real Isle of Avalon. Which means that listening to this album does transport us to the open air and environment that constitutes the Arthurian legends. Making this album one amazing experience to enjoy as we are in the appropriate environment for such wonderful melodies.

An album so wonderful that I loved all its tracks. Finding each one of them a jewel of New Age and Medieval Music.


Ego Sum Resurrectio
Ego Sum Resurrectio
Price: £8.27

5.0 out of 5 stars "Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem. Amen." - Latin lyrics from the "Dies Irae" Latin hymn, 3 Jan. 2016
This review is from: Ego Sum Resurrectio (Audio CD)
From Naxos Records, a wonderful 1994 release of Gregorian Chants. Hymns used for the Mass or the Office, the music in this album is a historical dive into the medieval past and a discovery of the Gregorian Mass as these hymns are used for funerals. And under the vocal chords of Allesio Rondano and the Gregorian group Aurora Surgit, those voices from the past and of the Catholic religion are summoned to us and engulf us into their music, lyrics, and soothing atmosphere.

Among the tracks in this album, I have a fondness for the ever popular Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) who was even employed by Carl Theodor Dreyer for his 1943 movie he also called "Day of Wrath". One of the most difficult films on sacrifice and witch burning, but an experience as powerful as listening to this rendition of this trochaic melody. Of course other tracks stand out as well. For instance the Evangelium which retakes quotes from John's Bible 11, 21-27, Domine Jesu Christe with its linear singing structure, and also Subvenite with its lyrics of souls, angels, and saints that capture us the moment the Aurora Surgit group summon forth their voices.

Of the recording, it is wonderful to hear the voices of Allesio Rondano and the Gregorian group Aurora Surgit sing together with such a clean recording. Indeed, their voices are sharp and the latin pronunciations are perfectly pronounced. By the way, it is also a great idea of Naxos to offer a retranscription of the Latin lyrics. Though that chance isn't possible if you buy this release on Itunes and, I think, on Amazon's MP3 music services. Which makes me say how I wish MP3 releases of any album could offer lyrics so that listeners could have a chance to have the lyrics and know what are they been sung about. Especially if the album is in an ancient or other language like Italian or French.

In the end, this release of Gregorian hymns is an opportunity medieval fans or of choir music should get their hands and ears.


Radio Crimes: Dickens Confidential: Railway Kings & Darker Than You Think
Radio Crimes: Dickens Confidential: Railway Kings & Darker Than You Think
Offered by Audible Ltd

5.0 out of 5 stars "Tomorrow is not another day. It is today." Charles Dickens in "Darker than you Think", 2 Jan. 2016
With television and film flooding our culture, Radio Drama has become a rarity as several radio channels have stopped offering such entertainment. Displaying instead morning man shows, music shows, debate shows, host shows, and culture shows. Leaving out another form of storytelling for writers and actors and the public who can, with their imagination and visual interpretation, listen to voices and imagine their physical interactions in the world they live in as they tell us their story. Drama, romance, History, Suspense, Horror, Fantasy, and Children fiction. A pleasure for the listener's ears, imagination, and thrills.

So it is wonderful to see that the BBC still offers radio dramas, including some that are released on CD or MP3 format through Audible or Itunes. Among them the first two episodes of the Dickens Confidential, a BBC Radio Crimes Drama where the editor Charles Dickens, before his success as future novelist, has started a new newspaper. One that presents the true reality of England. One that reports actuality that other newspapers, like The Times, wouldn't have care and concern to display on its front pages. One that denounces the social classes divisions and injustices that plague the UK people, especially the working class who lives under very low wages and quality of life; at the expense of an upper class that looks down on them with sneer and contempt.

Therefore, it is in this climate of Industrial Revolution that the editor Charles Dickens creates this new publication. Engaging employees like James Marshall, a new reporter who starts working on the Railway Kings Case. A suspicious derailment that hides a horrible conspiracy, an incident that forewarns of a real incident Dickens experienced later during his life, the 1869 Staplehurst rail crash while he was writing The Mutual Friend.
Though with the help of his editor and Agnes Paxton, secretary who aspires to be a reporter and whose father owns the train company involved in the train derailment, the truth comes out just as in the second episode, Darker than you Think, as a serial killer attacks the city and leaves his victims in the Thames river.

Two what-if stories that last 40 minutes and educate interesting facts on Charles Dickens and on the nineteenth century Industrial Revolution. Two episodes that make me wish the BBC and Audible could release the rest of this two seasons Radio Drama. A series that involves excellent voice actors like Jamie Glover as Dickens, Freddy White as Jack Marshall, Jasmine Hyde as Agnes Paxton, and other guest stars among them Nicholas Boulton, of Dragon Age 2, who plays Doctor Jenkin in the "Darker than you think" story. Actors who all give very convincing performances while the directors and sound effects specialist make the story realistic, plausible, and not too bombarded with sound effects and music.
And with Mike Walker's scripts, the series is a pleasure to listen and one that we are impatient to follow the upcoming episodes.
Though it is unfortunate that the BBC hasn't released the rest of this series yet.
To which I'd say the only possible solution would be to write to the BBC and tell them to release all the other episodes on CD and on Audible or Itunes.


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