Profile for trottman > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by trottman
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,606
Helpful Votes: 286

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
trottman

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-15
pixel
Damages - Season 4 [DVD]
Damages - Season 4 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Glenn Close
Price: £10.75

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still good but not as good as it was, 17 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Damages - Season 4 [DVD] (DVD)
The fourth season of Damages lacks the killer punch evident in the three previous seasons. The production values are still very good and the sheer expertise of the film making always holds the attention. That said it is extraordinary that such an experienced production team should go fishing for a plot line in such over tested waters as a rogue security company on the loose in Afghanistan. It is also a surprise that it was felt necessary to introduce such stock characters as an alcholic disbarred lawyer and a bible thumping warmonger. The actual writing is still good but the hackneyed subject of illegal doings in Afghanistan does impose limitations. The script and action flow are not helped by the inclusion of too many and unnecessary dream sequences.

As with the previous seasons the acting is at a very high standard. Dylan Baker and John Goodman make good contrasting villains. The well known character actor Judd Hirsch does a good turn as the alcoholic lawyer and Zachary Booth still successfully maintains his cool detachment as Patty's wayward son Michael. The real surprise is th lower key performance of Glenn Close. Always a consummate professional the actress is always watchable but somehow the definitive commitment evident in the first three seasons and also in season four of the Shield now comes across as not so intense. Here it is hard to accept that Patty's excesses are now more muted for the character is as ambitious and manipulative as ever. The flair of the old Patty is fortunately still evident in the complexities of the relationship with Ellen Parsons and here that special interaction has been maintained.

Despite the mild strictures set out above the DVD is still a very good buy and will provide much enjoyment for the committed Damages fan. On its own it does not stand up so well as the other seasons

Trottman


The Comanche Empire (Lamar Series in Western History) (The Lamar Series in Western History)
The Comanche Empire (Lamar Series in Western History) (The Lamar Series in Western History)
by Pekka Hämäläinen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.51

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional history, 11 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an absolutely fasicinating book. It is an easy read and packed full of information. The style is never dry and to his great credit the author is prepared to provide an alternative to any conception of an idealistic, innocent life eventually wrecked by the ceaseless push of European immigration towards the west. For any reader interested in the American west this book is an absolute must.

No wilting violets the Comanches, who could claim the dubious accolade of being the coshboys of the southern plains, were first identified as a tribe in the very early 1700s. They were to control a vast land mass and a political empire for some 150 years. Forget any ideas of the noble savage fighting to save his anchestral homeland from the unquenchable greed of the invader for their aggressive male dominated horse culture was continually engaged in making war on other indian tribes, hunting the bison almost to extinction, stock rustling, slave raiding and extracting gifts from the hapless groups who had the serious misfortune to get in their way or who failed to honour their demands. It was the massive immigration in the wake of the American Civil War plus the horrors of imported disease and the decimination of the bison which was finally to finish the Comanches and end an empire which extended from the north of Mexico into Texas.

I was unable to put the book down

Trottman


Soldiers of Fortune: The Story of the Mamlukes
Soldiers of Fortune: The Story of the Mamlukes
by Sir John Bagot Glubb
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A subject that demans updating, 10 Aug 2012
The extroadinary story of boys, purchased on the Steppes and then taken to Egypt to maintain an established warrior caste would delight a Hemmingway. For nearly forty years the standard work has been provided by a famous soldier who turning to copious writing in retirement. The book provides a substantial overview of the Mamlukes military exploits and the progress of their history but has little to say on the social systems that maintained an empire that lasted for 267 years.

Hard to find (this edition dates from 1988) the book is set out like a manual and is written in a style befitting the classroom. Many of the author's
observations are rooted in common sense and his questions deserve answers but many a novice and a seasoned reader will find the style exasperating as with his countless homilies, comparisons and opinions the author endeavours to parallel the vicissitudes and decline of the Mamlukes to the numerous misfortunes of today's imperfect world.

The Mamlukes still possess the power to fascinate and here they deserve the attentions of a historian who writes on a much broader canvas than is provided here.

Trottman


The Complete 1924-1926 Sessions
The Complete 1924-1926 Sessions
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very cheerful and very enjoyable, 6 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is yet another splendid offering from the excellent HEP Records with very good restored sound. These complete sessions of the cheekily names Tennessee Tooters were recorded during 1924/1926. The music is very much in the spirit of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band (plus banjo and brass bass) and the early sides of Red Nchols and the Five Pennies. The musicians on the various sessions changed frequently but Red Nichols (trumpet) and Miff Mole (trombone) are two well known names among the various participants. Appreciation of the music is not demanding but it is well played with contributions from a number of often unidentified soloists. Not only a traditionally minded jazz fan will enjoy this CD.

Trottman


The New World [DVD]
The New World [DVD]
Dvd ~ Colin Farrell
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A strange affair!, 6 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The New World [DVD] (DVD)
There is a tendency to talk about the publicity shy film director Terrence Malick as yet another unfullfilled genius of a demanding industry. I have never seen "The Thin Red Line" but continue to be impressed by "Days of Heaven" My present purchase of "The New World" was stimulated by a complimentary piece which had originally appeared in The Guardian newspaper.

The supposed brilliance of a film, which commands a dedicated following, escapes me There are certainly virtues for the film is well made and exceptionally well shot with some beautiful images. The production team have also succeeded in creating a certain period feel although costumes and sets are rather too clean for this period of history. The short action sequences are also well handled. Among the players the young Q'orianka Kilcher is easy on the eye and does possess some potential as an actress. It is always good to see the seasoned professional Christopher Plummer although here wasted in a poor little part. The negatives include some obscure and at times incomprehensible voice overs and a clumsy performance from a mumbling Colin Farrell who is not helped by an odd Oirish accent.

Reviews on Amazon swing from five stars, which describe the film as a work of sublime genius and one star when it is dismissed as seriously boring. The film certainly deserves a better rating than the one star but my own sympathies tend towards the lower end. I can appreciate why the film enjoys a loyal following but I doubt that it has great commercial appeal. Here it is no surprise that it had only a very limited release in England. As so often marketing necessities demand that the DVD cover gives a totally wrong impression.

Trottman


Simon Boccanegra: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2008]
Simon Boccanegra: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Anna Tomowa-Sintow
Price: £13.36

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute triumph, 6 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It is quite extroadinary (a disgrace?) that this marvellous 1984 version of Simon Boccanegra should have been consigned to the unwarranted oblivion of the Met's archives for well over twenty years. Marketing strategies being what they are one suspects that the decision was made to "push" the Met's 1995 version as the more commercially viable alternative. This very well staged version boasts the household names of Placido Domingo and Kiri Te Kanawa and is also the production used in 2010 for Domingo's elevation from the tenor role of Gabriele Adorno to the baritone title role. The 1984 production under review, also under the baton of James Levine, was not issued on DVD until 2008. Expertly staged by the uncredited Pier Luigi Pizzi with great emphasis on both height and space the production is certainly the equal of the better known version of 1995. Filmed by the very experienced Brian Large and marketed at a very acceptable price the DVD is a great plus to a Verdi collection.

The production is a tribute to two Met stalwarts. An accomplished and very experienced baritone Sherrill Milnes gives a mighty and carefully detailed portrayal. Here it is hard to believe that the singer could be bettered in the role. His delightful discovery that Amelia is his long lost daughter is especially well handled and draws attention to the composer's continuing interest in the complexities of father/daughter relationships. In the sturdy bass role of Jacopo Fiesco the Met's resident bass Paul Pliska is also very impressive. In recent years the singer has been obliged to take smaller and less demanding roles but in the early 1980s his voice was then at its very best. The baritone/bass duets in act three when the two long term antagonists finally reconcile are among the hight points of the production.

A great plus to the production is the presence of the rather matronly looking Anna Tomowa-Sintow. Possessing a strong, rich tone and a fine technique the soprano is also an expressive, gifted actress. The celebrated climax of act one, set in the Council Chamber of the Doge's palace, cannot be bettered. Here Pizzi's towering sets and traditional costumes are seen to great advantage and provide a splendid backdrop to the soprano's great accomplishments as she soars above the ensemble singers.

The role of Gabriele Adorno is not regarded as one of Verdi's great tenor outings and here Placido Domingo is often regarded as the greatest recent exponent of the role. Vasile Moldoveanu, until know a singer unknown to me, simply cannot match Domingo's famous stage presence. His voice is adequate but as an actor his performance is that of the stand and deliver variety with added artifical hand gestures. He is at his best in act two when he delivers a spirited "Sento avvampar nell'anima"

Simon Boccanegra is often regarded as a quartet affair but here Richard J Clark deserves credit for doing well in the rather unrewarding role of Paolo, the villain of the piece. He gives an interesting and well sung version of a role often relegated to the sidelines. A conspirator in the tradion of Iago, this Paolo is very effective in the climax of the Council Chamber scene when the character is obliged to pronounce a curse upon himself.

The current DVD market is well served with productions of Simon Boccanegra and all those staged by the Met and Covent Garden are very acceptable. Potential purchasers are well advised to avoid the over priced 1976 offering from Tokyo. With such participants as Piero Cappuccilli, Katia Ricciarelli and Nicolai Ghiaurov much could have been expected but enjoyment is ruined by imperfect sound and dreadful picture quality.

Trottman


Pride And Prejudice [1980]
Pride And Prejudice [1980]
Dvd ~ Desmond Adams
Offered by brrsales
Price: £8.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good second choice, 5 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Pride And Prejudice [1980] (DVD)
I was pleased to purchase the BBC's 1980 version of Jane Austen's famous novel after listening to and enjoying an abridged version read by Jenny Agutter and then the full unabridged version narrated by Irene Sutcliffe. In the mini series Fay Weldon's adaption has captured much of both the feel and the elegance of Austen's prose and the production team deserve congratulations for creating an authentic, if rather slow moving, series. Here it is to be hoped that the DVD version will be allowed to remain permanently in the catalogue.

Production values and acting styles have changed greatly in the last thirty years but among the cast I was impressed by Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth and by the beautiful Sabina Franklyn as Jane. There are fine performances by such seasoned professionals as Moray Watson as Mr Bennet, Barbara Shelley as Mrs Gardiner and the ever reliable Judy Parfitt as Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The production was an early outing for the now well established Claire Higgins, although the actress looks far too old to play Kitty. Among the other players David Rintoul certainly has the aristocratic look but he carries the same wooden expression throughout the five episodes and fails to capture Darcy's changing moods. Marsha Fitzalan is not convincing as Caroline Bingley for she is unable to convey the character's manipulative nature and sarcastic turn of phrase (the nasty asides to Darcy fall flat). Least impressive is Natalie Ogle who has difficulty in expressing Lydia's loud, agressive and demanding nature.

Comparisons are often unfair and fifteen years is a long time but my own preference remains for the far more robust version of 1995. Here an additional episode and larger budget are two great advantages but I also far prefer many of the performances in the later version. Here I would include Darcy, Collins. the three younger Bennet sisters, Mr Bennet and the entire Bingley family. When the 1995 series was first shown a number of reviewers were anxious to award Alison Steadman the order of the wooden spoon for concentrating far too much on Mrs Bennet's excesses of temperament and thus almost losing control of the character. In the 1980 version it is greatly to the credit of Priscilla Morgan that she is capable of conveying Mrs Bennet's alarmingly silly nature but also succeeds in retaining a certain dignity. However the actual voice did not ring true.

The problems of casting Mrs Bennet highlight the difficulty that production teams experience in bringing this great work to the screen. The novel is designed to unravel slowly (Irene Sutcliffe's excellent reading takes over eleven hours) and is far better suited to a television series than to an actual film. The most recent attempt is graced by an enjoyable performance from Keira Knightley and just for once Mary Bennet is not portrayed as a plain bookworm but great difficulty is experienced in concentrating a story with such an abundance of exceptional characters into a two hour plus dash to the finishing line

After a second viewing, made in 2013, I believe that I may be guilty of certain initial misjudgements particularly in regard to David Rintoul's interpretation of Darcy and also the portrayal of Collins, who is in fact much closer to Austen's original interpretation than the enjoyable comedy turn provided in 1995. My wife, an Austen aficionado, is of the firm opinion that the production absolutely captures the spirit of the book and virtually all the performers manage to portray with aplomb the essence of the individual characters

Trottman


Giuseppe Verdi/Nhk So/O De Fabriti - Simon Boccanegra [DVD] [2009]
Giuseppe Verdi/Nhk So/O De Fabriti - Simon Boccanegra [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Verdi
Price: £24.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly filmed production with two great Verdians, 4 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After La Traviata and Don Carlo(s) Simon Boccanegra and Un Ballo in Maschera are my two favourite Verdi operas. In recent weeks I have greatly enjoyed the performances of Katia Ricciarelli as Amelia in two DVD versions of Un Ballo and consequently felt moved to purchase the DVD of the 1976 Tokyo production of Simon Boccanegria in which the clebrated soprano sings the only female lead, also called Amelia. The purchase was made with certain reservations for my only other purchase from Tokyo is the very badly filmed 1971 production of La Favorita, which is at least blessed by the outstanding singing of Alfredo Kraus and Fiorenza Cossotto

Unfortunately any such reservations are entirely justified for this DVD now enjoys the dubious distinction of being the worse filmed production of my entire collection. The closeups are almost acceptable but the long shots are seriously dreadful with both fuzzy and out of focus images. Both costumes and staging are predominately red and blue which tends to add to the confusion. Things are so bad particularly in act 1, scence 2 (often regarded as the opera's high point) that the viewer is often confused by what is actually happening on stage. Misfortune does not end with the visual image for the sound quality is not over impressive. Matters are further complicated for it is impossible to eliminate the embedded Japanese subtitles that remail on screen throughout. There is no booklet and what information there is remains confined to cast identification and chapter headings.

Katia Ricciarelli is always an impressive singer but on the day of the filming the impression remains that she was simply not at her best. As far as her acting is concerned her performance is devoid of the elegance, grace and vunerability so evident in Un Ballo. The performer is not helped by an untidy wig and a series of costumes that if anything tend to enhance a quite serious weight problem. Giorgio Merighi, a singer until now unknown to me, has a tenor voice only adequate for the rather underwritten role of the hero Gabriele Adorno. He lacks the ardent intensity of a Placido Domingo and has only a very limited stage presence. Often relegated to the sidelines is the part of Paolo Albiani, a companion Iago, but here Lorenzo Saccomani succeeds in creating an interesting villain. That said things go seriously wrong at the climax to act one when during the doge's denuncination of the hidden conspirator Saccomani over acts absurdly thus complicating appreciation of the action that is to follow in the next act. Foolishly the decision was made to cut out the short but vital exchange in an earlier scene during which Paolo and Pietro plot the abduction of Amelia. Such may have been done to heighten dramatic intensity but the exchange is essential to the plot.

The benefits of the production are limited to the fine contributions of Piero Cappuccilli as Simon Boccanegra and Nicolai Ghiaurov as Jacopo Fiesco, Simon's nemises until the final act. These celebrated Verdians, who appeared together on many occasions, in effect carry the production and without their participation I cannot believe that this recording would have survived. Their presence justifies quite an expensive purchase

As a homage to Katia Ricciarelli this DVD is a disappointment but a dedicated Verdi aficionado will appreciate the production as a record of the contributions made to Verdi's operas by Piero Cappuccilli and Nicolai Ghiaurov. There are a number of DVDs available of productions staged by both the Met and Covent Garden all of which eclipse the messy offering from Tokyo. The most satisfying is the Met's most splendidly staged version of 1995 under the baton of James Levine with the great cast of Vladimir Chernov, Kiri Te Kanawa (far superior to Katia Ricciarelli), Placido Domingo and Robert Lloyd. It is a particular pity that a 1979(?) production with Mirella Freni, often regarded as the Amelia of her generation, is not presently available on DVD.

Trottman


Verdi - Un Ballo In Maschera - Verdi [DVD] [2006]
Verdi - Un Ballo In Maschera - Verdi [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Placido Domingo

5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable production, 3 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For a number of years I have regarded the Met's 1991 production of Un Ballo In Maschera, under the baton of James Levine as the best available on DVD until, after surfing on Amazon, I belatedly discovered the 1990 production from Salzburg under the baton of Sir George Solti, which is a great plus to any Verdi collection. There are certain parallels for both Leo Nucci as Renato (Anckarstrom) and Florence Quivar as Ulrica grace both productions. The staging and costumes for both productions are excellent and in particular the staging at Salzburg for act two, set in the field of execution and the ball scene of act three are most impressive.

The stand-out performer at Salzburg as so often is Placido Domingo, who is at his ardent best both as singer and actor and here the purchase of the DVD is justified by his contribution alone. The fine Italian baritone Leo Nucci is, I think, in better form at the Met but he is always a true professional. With her fine low voice Florence Quivar impresses as the witch Ulrica. One of the productions few misfortunes is that the Oscar of Sumi Jo comes across as under recorded and at times it is not always easy to hear her. That said I far prefer her performance to the strutting Oscar of Harolyn Blackwell at the Met. Among the smaller but still important roles the two bass voices of the conspirators Horn and Ribbing (Kurt Rydl & Goran Simic) are excellent. They are especially effective during the mocking chorus of act two.

The production's one outstanding pecularity is the surprise casting of Josephine Barstow as Amelia, who comes across as not being ideally suited for Verdi. Her performance is a very "good try" effort but she simply cannot match the masterly interpretation of Aprile Millo at the Met, who possesses marvellous voice control and who is certainly my favourite exponent of the role. Barstow's acting is certainly believable and here she succeeds admirably in avoiding an excess of both British reserve and Latin passion.

The Met production does of course have the reassuring presence of Luciano Pavarotti, who is in very fine voice and for once turns in something akin to an acceptable performance but Domingo's singing in scene two of act three ("Forse la soglia attinse" & "Ma se me forza perderti") is unbeatable.

I am convinced that any true Verdi aficionado will want to own both DVDs but if forced to make a choice I would still go for the Met's production.

Trottman


Verdi: La Forza del Destino (Scala, 18 June 1978) [DVD] [NTSC]
Verdi: La Forza del Destino (Scala, 18 June 1978) [DVD] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Montserrat Caballe
Price: £29.93

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maximum stars for impeccable singing, 15 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For many years my only DVD of La Forza Del Destino was that of the Met's 1984 production under the baton of James Levine. Often regarded as a definitive recording the opera is magnificently staged and boasts a fine cast of singers although the best years of Leontyne Price were then behind her. Anxious for an alternative version I picked the 1978 version of the opera from Teatro alla Scala, under the baton of Giuseppe Patane which was a wise decision.

Only finally restored from the original video in 2011 this great production was allowed to languish in the obscurity of La Scala's vaults for far too long and it must be a profound hope that the DVD version will now be allowed to remain permanently in the catalogue. Not unexpectedly the transfer to DVD from the original video is not always perfect (a fact acknowledged in the booklet) for there are occasional problems with picture quality. Fortunately the sound quality is excellent. Comparisons often serve little purpose but the Met's staging is far superior to that of La Scala. This is a traditional production with appropriate costumes but some of the backdrops (although they complement the action) look amateurish and give the impression of having been conceived in a hurry. Others are seriously peculiar and on one occasion can be identified as something not unlike an Arthur Rackman fairyland.

The award of five stars is justified by the glorious singing. Reviewers have commented that it is now rare to find an Italian opera headed by a cast of Latins but such is the triumphant case here with the outstanding singing of the then young Jose Carreras as Don Alvaro, Piero Cappuccilli as Don Carlo and Montserrat Caballe as Leonora. From begining to end the production is full of wonderful things. The many high points include Leonora's "Madre. pietosa Vergine" and the tenor/baritone duets which are received with prolonged applause. This production predates the current obsession with opera theatre and many of the hand gestures are now dated but the three performers possess great stage presence. Among the other solo parts Nicolai Ghiaurov, although hampered by a silly wig, is impressive as Padre Guardiano; Maria Luisa Nave makes a spritely Preziosilla and Sesto Bruscantini is very good in the character role of the grumbling Fra Melitone. The chorus is also in good voice.

The highly professional staging of the Met's production still makes it my first choice but such is the standard of the signing at La Scala that many a Verdi aficionado will consider this version an essential purchase.

Trottman
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 4, 2013 3:59 PM GMT


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-15