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J. N. Valente "jnscav" (Evora, Portugal)

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The Cherry Orchard: A Comedy in Four Acts (Modern Plays)
The Cherry Orchard: A Comedy in Four Acts (Modern Plays)
by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.70

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime play,a good read & a fantastic radio adaptation: a classic sunk by some teenage's proud ignorance so called "review", 19 May 2011
Unlike the philipsad I was not forced at gunpoint to read this. I went willingly to see it when a local company was having an international theatre festival and even at 12 it struck me as powerful, moving, deeply honest, relevant and affecting. Years later I saw a television adaptation, still as powerful though lacking some nuances and minor sub-plots. Then I bought this radio adaptation which I found to be very much abridged, so that some of the power was lost. But the acting was still top notch for the medium.
I wonder why those who commented on the only "review" were - I think - genuine in their appreciation for the play but not enough to save it from having an average rating (out of just the one person with an ax to grind but no idea of what he was writing about) by writing another review. Could it be that amazon no longer accepts all reviews? Surely not. If it turns out to be so I'll post this as a "comment" to sadphil's review even he's not worth it with his violent tendencies and mental instability. Chekov is worthy of being saved from this sort of groundless dumbing down by dumb people. I use dumb as an euphemism, of course.
I don't much care for amazon's policy of having this single review present on different versions/edition of the play. I', m all for pitying the stupid but I have no sympathy for major corporations validating their narrow-mindedness.

900 Nights (With Janis Joplin) [DVD] [2009]
900 Nights (With Janis Joplin) [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Big Brother & The Holding Co
Offered by CP UK And Global LTD
Price: 4.97

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 41 years since Janis died and they are still bitter..., 11 Mar 2011
I had high hopes. I liked Big Bro & the Holding Co. I thought this might focus on telling their history. Well, part of this DVD is dedicated to that. Most of it is a peculiar combination of slagging off Janis abusing her and minimizing her contribution to the band when they were still all in equal footing and displaying jealousy when she left to pursue a semi-solo career. Since the one crucial Big B & the H Co. not to have been interviewed for this is Janis herself (and there are plenty of interviews with her about why and how she left the band, this a one-sided (the original BB guys still alive when this was.. "produced") account of what went down. The 2 stars are for the music contained here. The missing 3 are on account of a pervading feeling of sourness and inferior complexes and even outright resentment that emanates from the machos and disagreeably permeates the whole DVD.
Fine, if you think the male members of BB&tHC were musical genius or musical virtuosos. Since I don't think they were either I found the experience of enduring an less than an hour of their rants disturbing. It is also unsettling that the extra features include so much material from when Janis had already joined them. It's not that her commercial potential was bigger without them (probably true). Her artistic one wasn't. Nor was theirs and I feel their current-day obscurity is thoroughly deserved. That I felt nothing of the sort before watching and listening to this is possibly the best reason not to invest in it. Janis was no altruistic angel. We knew that as far as career goes, right? She was trying to find the path she felt to be truest to her unique persona. The other members & hangers-on from other bands who appear here to raise their profile and have cheap digs or whatever at her are unworthy of any attention as are most attention seekers when they lack 'soul'.
I say stay clear of them and of this poor excuse to make money for a couple of old white conservative men. Probably evangelical or pentecostal by this time. It doesn't pay to admit to drug-taking in the US of A these days. Much less to have inclined to consider any eastern philosophy a better ethical and self-developping guide in this world than any abrahamic faith. Religious played no part in Janis' solo career and precious little in the after-Janis BB. Here it disgusts the eye and the ear.
Not a tribute, not historically accurate, not factual.
Just a way to make quick million.

And Furthermore
And Furthermore
by Judi Dench
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a letdown (though-not-all-the-way-through-It), 2 Jan 2011
This review is from: And Furthermore (Hardcover)
First of all let me make this clear: I think Judi Dench is THE greatest living actress of our time. I apply that with full force&heart to her career on the stage and also to the very few bits of tv she has graced us with: from 'Talking to a Stranger' through 'Fine Romance' and 'As Time Goes By' onwards to 'Absolute Hell' - a particular favourite of mine - to 'Cranford'.
I don't extend that unqualified praise to her film career in equal measure only because for each "Room With A View" or "A Handful of Dust" or "84 Charing Cross Road" there seems to be a Bond movie or something equally awful or overrated ("Tea with Mussolini"; "Mrs. Henderson Presents" anyone?) to match.

Having said that, of course I bought this book with huge expectations, few of which were fulfilled. The chapters relating to her early career and her life with her husband the great, sublime Michael Williams are interesting, moving, funny and yes, *informative* enough. But elsewhere there are too many facts already known from previous so-called biographies and too many anecdotes that hardly seem worthy of the inclusion.

It is a good autobiography (with a qualified *auto*) but from such a superb actress and human being not quite 'It'.
I hope Dame Judi or her publishers have another go at it(please?)
At least I hope Judi herself does even if I respect her privacy to the point of feeling a little bit guilty about pre-ordering a book where she would potentially bare her soul at all.

If you're like me, you love her and you admire her tremendously. This book will not detract from that. Nor will it add much.
4/5 because it is Judi Dench. 2/5 for actual content.
3 stars it is then

Janis Joplin - Piece Of My Heart [DVD]
Janis Joplin - Piece Of My Heart [DVD]
Dvd ~ Janis Joplin

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality less than brilliant (2 stars) / Janis a Force of Nature(5+ stars), 21 Feb 2008
I must confessed I was slightly disappointed with technicalities such as sound and picture quality, poor editing, a mess of a selection from any Janis performances that could be grabbed hold of.

BUT - It's Janis. It's raw, emotional, powerful, unique. She makes up for any flaws the DVD itself could easily have overcome. She would still be an inspiration in VHS or bootleg, audio tapes. Here she occasionally glows, occasionally takes your breath away.

It leaves you with a hunger for more (and dare I say it, better) "pieces" of her heart (and Soul) as captured on film.

Overall? A must for Janis fan, an interesting introduction to the "just curious" but a serious let down for the "I didn't know her before, now that I do I feel I don't like her music". Of course in/on my book the latter category is a bit of a lost cause in any case. And when preaching to the already converted this isn't pure magic and sheer expression of her talent. It is still an amazing experience, though.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 10, 2011 11:50 AM BST

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive
by Jared M. Diamond
Edition: Paperback

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent case studies - Questionable as universal manifesto, 16 July 2006
There are several "First of all" I would like to start with the most obvious one perhaps being that this isn't a manifesto at all and the author cleary states it.

Another is that I thought his book "Guns, Germs & Steel" (in whichever spelling the edition or translation that has come into your hands has it) was an excellent book, made some serious points was well-written and original and deserving of the many accolades it got.

Finally I was unlucky enough to buy an edition so plagued by lack of revision of the final text that at some points it made reading the book a frustrating experience - but this one was just my bad luck since no other reviewer has noticed it in this particular edition.

Having got rid of all that 'intro' - the case studies are fascinating. But in most cases the author seems to have gone out of his way to portray the collapse of societies where even today (or before the societies studied) conditions for sustaining human life - let alone some complex sort of social organization - were always extremely precarious. Tiny islands in the South Pacific thousands of miles from the nearest population centres, artic societies established by european settlers, native american societies of increasing complexity living off the nutrient-poor soils of the rainforest or on the edge of desert regions under extreme conditions of weather... Each has its own lessons to teach to contemporary encroachments on such fragile biomes and they are important.

But as has been noted by a previous reviewer the final chapter where he extrapolates from past examples (and present ones - again located in very fragile regions that have already reached overpopulation and social desintegration such as Rwanda or Haiti) to planet-wide problems is less convincing. I believe that there are problems, urgent problems to be solved at a planetary level and that the risk of not acknowledging them is extremely dangerous. I am just not convinced of the way he reached his catalogue of challenges facing us from what has gone before in the book.

I'm sure if I could talk to the author I could be persuaded but that is not the role this book sets out to play.

It's important, it raises your awareness, but it fails to connect the dots or give you access to the information that will allow you the reader to connect the dots.

Ultimately that's why it falls short of the 4th star I was hesitant to give it. Overall 7/10

Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew (Yale Nota Bene)
Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew (Yale Nota Bene)
by John Felstiner
Edition: Paperback
Price: 25.00

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential to understand one of the Great Poets of the XXth Century, 16 Jun 2006
To my great regret I came to the poetry (and the life story behind so much of it) of Paul Celan somewhat late in life, unpardonably late, even. But from the moment I did I knew that this was not just the Poet of the Holocaust - he was an unparalled poetic genius in the second half of he last century. This is a personal and totally biased opinion, so go read the poems, surely they speak for themselves. Yes they do.

But in this book we have contextualization, translations almost dissected (mostly in the German to English angle) and biographical notes along the way.

Paul Celan was himself a polyglot and a prolific translator. Born in a Romania that has changed borders to a jewish family that did not escape the fate of most others in Eastern Europe, eventually a French citizen, one of the great poets and shapers of the German language of all times.

His legacy is tremendous. His suicide perhaps a powerful statement of guilt or alienation - perhaps something entirely different that need not be dwelt on to enjoy the work.

Though "enjoy" seems to me to be an entirely personal approach.

He leads us to a labyrinth. To the depths of human cruelty. But he can see that all human passions have great surviving power.

Maybe not just after witnessing and enduring their extremes can one hope to reconcile itself with the humanity and the passions within.

The book is extraordinarily well-researched and written in a style I'd call 'academic but unassuming'. It will leave you with a longing to read more from Celan. That alone would justify its writing, apart from all its many merits.

Yossi & Jagger [DVD]
Yossi & Jagger [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ohad Knoller

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real, Intense, Poetic, Funny, 30 April 2006
This review is from: Yossi & Jagger [DVD] (DVD)
Yes, this film is all of the above. I could have added that it's immensely moving. It certainly packs a big punch considering its duration (a little over an hour).
I came to this film expecting a love story and, OK, something erotic. The film is a love story and the eroticism is there, albeit very subtly. But it is also a movie about personal priorities, about opportunities, only marginally about war - but very much about time being wasted. It is not about homophobia faced triumphantly or otherwise. Yossi & Jagger's characters are discreet by force of circumstance, but one suspects a heterosexual couple would also be. They are in the army, and fighting in a war zone after all. Yossi very much wants to focus on that for the time being. Jagger wants to make plans for the future and for him the future can't come soon enough.
I won't spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't seen this gem of a movie yet (do it now!) except to say that even there I was not sure of my emotions by the times the end credits started rolling.
I would have liked more scenes with... everyone, actually. Don't get me wrong, there's depth and development and insight. But I became so fond of this film. One of the all-time greats.

Pafuera Telaranas
Pafuera Telaranas
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 9.89

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Big Revelation of 2004 in Spain, 25 Mar 2006
This review is from: Pafuera Telaranas (Audio CD)
Unlike some Iberian critics, I don't think this is 'flamenco-punk' (or the other way about).
For one thing, Bebe hails from Extremadura, not Andaluzia - and for Extremadura this pop-rock-ska-folk *is* a breakthrough. I don't write *was* because her record is still selling strong in all of Spain and the next step will be Hispano-America (and France, curiously enough).
My favourite song is "Cuindandote" a very understated, restrained love song. "Ella" (which was the 2nd single) also speaks to me. No, I'm not a battered wife (I'd like her mega-hit "Malo" better if I were, I suspect) not even a "She" - but "Ella" is really about someone with a low self-esteem and limited horizons; both imposed upon her by society at large. Non-supportive family, abusive boyfriends, all springs from that. So she could spiral down - but the character in the song decides enough is enough - there's a whole world out there and who's to say/who's to tell her it doesn't belong to her?
Feminist songs? Not so. Emancipation ones.
Love songs in a more traditional style also make their way in, but to a new beat, and much improved production.
The almost hidden last song is not to be overlooked...
Keep in mind - no "new flamenco confusion". Bebe is pretty much in tune with her times, musically speaking - and is almost certainly the biggest thing to have happen to Extremeña music. Ever.

Mucho Mas Que Dos
Mucho Mas Que Dos
Price: 15.53

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great music from some of spain's greatest stars, 25 Mar 2006
This review is from: Mucho Mas Que Dos (Audio CD)
Glad that this isn't pigeon-holed as 'latin' music or some other thing that reduces its appeal. The songs are mostly by spanish singer-songwriters, particularly Victor Manuel, of course. But also the catalan Joan Manuel Serrat, the brazilian Djavan, the american Billy Joel (a powerful tour-de-force performance by Ana Belén of "Piano Man").
They are sometimes unashamedly pop (I mean both the singers and the songs), sometimes delicately they fuse romantic and protest song - as in "I was also born in '53" and "In a Lion's shade". Sometimes, they are outright bluesy: "Road Blues". Sometimes epic "La Puerta de Alcalá". Sometimes more overtly sexual as in "Lia". Or downright political correct with plenty of rythm to go along with it as in "Contamíname" ("Infect Me" - how about that for promoting contagiating the outrageous? - cultural exchange, rythm exchange, love)
Victor's duet with cuban great Pablo Milanés "Solo Pienso En Ti/I Think Only of You" - a love story between so-called mentally handicapped people taking place in one of those old school mental asylums that thank God are no more is absolutely heartbreaking. As is Ana Belén & Antonio Flores rendering of "Solo Le Pido A Dios / I Only Ask Of God".
This was recorded live in Gijón, Asturias - and the sound quality plus the inclusion of some songs that seem frankly minor compared to so many superb ones is my only reason for giving it 4/5 stars rather than the full (humble) endorsement.
Try not to miss this one in DVD. AmazonUK has it on region 1(NTSC), and in France, Spain & Portugal retailers it's fairly easy to get it on region 0 (all regions) or region 2. I would dare the blasphemy of saying this was meant to be seen as well as listened to. It gains in the process, despite the lack of extras.

Hickory Dickory Dock: Complete & Unabridged
Hickory Dickory Dock: Complete & Unabridged
by Agatha Christie
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 15.29

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reliable Hugh Fraser, 6 Nov 2005
It is not one of my Agatha Christie's favourite novels. But it shows how she can set it almost entirely among students and get away with it. Considering she described herself (with a reasonably claim to it, having been born in 1890) as a "victorian" it's remarkable that as time progressed she shed many of her prejudices and lived "in her times".
The plot is entertaining. Poirot comes to the case through an unexpected source, and as far as the audio rendition goes Hugh Fraser is extremely solid and makes each character come alive with perfect distinction and differentiation.
Overall 7.5 out of 10.0

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