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Raphael (London,England)

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The Terence Rattigan Collection [DVD]
The Terence Rattigan Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sean Connery
Price: £14.75

69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fitting Tribute, 23 July 2011
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Sir Terence's Centenary has been marked by high calibre theatrical revivals of FLARE PATH and CAUSE CELEBRE, and a BBC Radio season of both new and vintage productions.Now comes this Collection drawn from BBC Television Rattigans broadcast over forty years: it is both interesting and inconsistent,what is good being outstanding and where there are failings, they are surprisingly intriguing.
HEART TO HEART and ALL ON HER OWN were commissions, the latter a monologue for Rattigan's favourite actress Margaret Leighton, and demonstrate the esteem in which the single drama was once held.
ADVENTURE STORY appears to have been taped from a live performance, so the acting is somewhat stagy, but after a fashion that suits the material: Sean Connery as Alexander the Great, what more need be said?
In SEPARATE TABLES Eric Porter and Geraldine McEwan splendidly follow the tradition of adopting dual roles with excellent support from Pauline Jameson, Cathleen Nesbitt and Annette Crosbie.
FRENCH WITHOUT TEARS is beautifully played by a fine cast, but suffers rather in that it is a piece which needs a live audience.
Alan Badel's low-key interpretation of Sir Robert Morton in THE WINSLOW BOY lends it a rather strange atmosphere, some dynamic is lacking, but Eric Porter is most effective as Arthur Winslow.
AFTER THE DANCE authentically captures the demimondaines of the inter-war period, and is only slightly marred by the camera exposing the leading players as a tad too old for their parts.
The surprises, not altogether pleasant, begin with THE BROWNING VERSION. The essence of Mr Crocker-Harris eludes Ian Holm, and as his wife Judi Dench seems to have thought she was in an episode of MARPLE, playing the eventual murder victim, so egregiously unpleasant that she deserves what she gets.A rare but telling off-day for everyone's best-loved Dame.
Karel Reisz's take on THE DEEP BLUE SEA has the actors improvising around the original text, which destroys any nuance of class distinction and sensibility, and allows too much histrionic abandon;the penultimate scene loses its effect by being insensitively cut, spoiling the impact of the final moments, and it all goes to prove the disadvantage of being a deceased author when your play is being revived.
However, the value of this selection is its preservation of outstanding performances of first class writing.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 14, 2012 7:08 PM BST


Queen Bee [DVD] [1955] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Queen Bee [DVD] [1955] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Joan Crawford

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hive Of Activity, 10 July 2011
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After the noir of MILDRED PIERCE, the Technicolor of TORCH SONG and the trousers of JOHNNY GUITAR, whither La Crawford? To a vehicle constructed for her by writer/director Ranald MacDougall. Our Joan is in top form as a wealthy and beauteous matriarch whose pathological control issues almost devastate her already-dysfunctional household. She moves from scene to scene, by turns charming and venomous, sporting gowns by Jean Louis and an eye-popping array of jewelry. Hardly pausing to spit out the scenery she has chewed, she then devours the supporting cast- with the honourable exceptions of Betsy Palmer as her high-strung sister-in-law, and King Kong's former sweetheart Fay Wray, who gives an effective cameo.The male leads are no match for Joan in the testosterone stakes, and the ingenue was obviously cast because she was almost pretty.
This is melodrama without stint- rather how DYNASTY might have played had it been written by Tennessee Williams - and so its pleasures might be spoiled by a plot summary, but not to be missed if you are a fan of Crawford, Camp or grisly Southern Gothic.Queen Bee [DVD] [1955] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]


Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease
Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease
by Herbert Fingarette
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.83

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Outdated And Ill-Founded, 10 Mar 2011
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Despite my best attempts to be always polite and respectful, I can only say of Herbert Fingarette: the man is an idiot. And a dangerous one, what's more.

This book sets out to discredit the disease concept of alcoholism first posited by E. M. Jellinek in 1960. Whilst acknowledging 'problem drinking', the underpinning theory maintains that claiming addiction as a disease is the ultimate excuse for those who wish to abjure their responsibilities, be they moral, social, financial, ethical or criminal: a get-out-of-jail-free card for those lacking strength of character.

Following a potted history (no pun intended) of social drinking in America, Herb explores the growing religious censoriousness of the 19th century, the establishing of the temperance movement, and the eventual founding of Alcoholics Anonymous which is, apparently, a cult.

The aforementioned danger of such ideas is that H.F. gave advice to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving two alcoholic Forces veterans, the fulcrum of his argument being that alcoholism has no biological or psychological pathology.
Hang on to your hat, Herbie: the World Health Organisation defines alcoholism as a disease, and in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (published 2013), the criteria for alcohol dependence add up to what is termed Addiction Induced Insanity. Mental health aside, if it is not a disease, how explain that it presents in physical symptoms including ascites, hepatitis, calcification of the pancreas, peripheral neuropathy, cirrhosis of the liver and organic brain disease (Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome).
I include this list because Herbert chooses to confine his discussion of alcohol's physical effects to a single page.

Fingarette offers poisonous nectar to any alcoholic in denial, and it is a moot point that Jellinek's findings were based on forty years of hands-on research, while Herbert's evident ignorance even of the difference between misuse and abuse indicates that he would not know an alcoholic if he was knocked down in a hit-and-run by one.
Calibrated according to this mythology, Dean Martin was an elegant social drinker, and David Hasselhoff enjoys a small sherry before luncheon.


Counselling Young People
Counselling Young People
by Ellen Noonan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theory and Practice Made Plain, 4 Mar 2011
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Although, sadly, Ms Noonan is no longer with us, her excellent book is still essential for the student counsellor trying to trace a path through the thicket of Psychodynamic theory. Given the plethora of analysts who followed Freud and developed his ideas, often disagreeing with them, and the resultant, confusing melange of concepts and terminology, Ellen Noonan's focus and clarity of expression offer a methodical explication of the key aspects of a therapeutic alliance, using case studies of adolescent clients as the homogenising agent.
Having worked through a considerable number of counselling textbooks, on all orientations, this is one that I would unhesitatingly recommend.


Jean Harlow: Tarnished Angel
Jean Harlow: Tarnished Angel
by David Bret
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blue Jean, 10 Dec 2010
Because the cover features an alluring still of Ms Harlow with which I was hitherto unfamiliar, I felt, from appearances, this might be an interesting biography: sadly, we shan't know whether it is until the book has been translated into English.


Streep
Streep
by Iain Johnstone
Edition: Paperback

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood Queen In Lese-Majeste Scandal, 22 May 2009
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This review is from: Streep (Paperback)
Streep
The merely Streep-friendly might find this an innocuous read, but Merylmaniacs will be cross, or bored. Mercifully, the text is brief- and would make an ideal accompaniment to a lavish portfolio of photographs,but exhaustive or ground-breaking it is not. And Mr Johnstone appears transfixed by Box Office Returns- as if audiences proactively avoid certain films that therefore do not make a mint,(though myriad factors cause this),and thus are Bad. Those pictures not to the author's taste are skimmed over or ignored.
The meeting of a Meryl-is-sixty deadline has resulted in slipshod work: elementary typos,(Lana Turner seems to have picked up the 'ell' that Sam Neill dropped), solecisms and errors,(Kevin Kline was directed in PIRATES OF PENZANCE on Broadway by Wilford, not Wilfred,Leach). Do we really need to be told that Cubiculo is Spanish for cubicle? The filmography uses
actors' names for those of the characters. Mr Johnstone also tends to tell us what, at certain moments, Ms Streep was thinking- an unhappy habit for a biographer.
The author's claim to fame is having interviewed the great lady at the National Film Theatre. In 1983. A lot of water has been passed since then,kid.
However, Mary Louise is a kind of latter-day Garbo: a passionate artiste with an industrial-strength core, and a dime to a donut she neither knows nor cares that there is a new scissors-and-paste job on her under the imprimatur of The Psychology News Press.


Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows [DVD] [2001]
Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Judy Davis

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hunchback of M-G-M, 21 May 2009
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Judy Garland:Me and My Shadows [DVD] [2001]
Not so much strolling down the avenue,more dashing frantically towards oblivion, Judy Davis gives a peerless portrayal of the girl next door who had the neighbours moving out.
Despite being adapted from a memoir by Judy Garland's daughter, there is no attempt to cosmeticise the star's flaws: Judy had a fixed idea of herself as a super-talent exploited till she dropped- by "those bastards" at the Studio, television executives, the I.R.S., concert promoters, right down to her family, her husbands, and even her children. When the teenage Lorna Luft suffers a nervous collapse from coping with her addicted Mom and frail younger brother, needing some respite time with her father, Garland telephonically professes sympathy, then goes on the turn "Oh, I understand," she hisses, sympathetic as an anaconda, slamming down the receiver.
Judy hears only what she wants to. Her musical mentor - Roger Edens - suggests that her life could be wonderful- if only she would let it.
By now one feels that La Garland would find such an option too easy, on herself and everyone else. Witness her low opinion of rehab,(she goes cold turkey), where she might have learnt that people treat us the way we teach them to. Run that one by your Victim Complex.
Ms Davis has splendid support from Victor Garber, Sonja Smits and Tammy Blanchard (adolescent Ms Gumm). The direction, production values and the recreations of the vintage films are uniformly excellent and, apart from the odd apocryphal chestnut, the screenplay is superior to those usually associated with a project of this type. Why some scenes were deleted from the DVD presentation is a puzzle- as the film could easily stand to run ten or fifteen minutes more.


The Public Image
The Public Image
by Muriel Spark
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Private Drama, 4 May 2009
This review is from: The Public Image (Paperback)
The Public Image
Dame Muriel's 1968 novel is regarded by some lit-crit nabobs as one of her minor works- but this tale of movie stardom, sex, drugs, suicide,gossip, glossies and paparazzi- played out in Rome- has, in the celebrity-infested latter-day, come up fresh as paint.

Typically Sparkian in being both witty and disturbing, there is true depth of feeling in the enigmatic finale.


Out at the Movies: A History of Gay Cinema
Out at the Movies: A History of Gay Cinema
by Steven Paul Davies
Edition: Paperback

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Brokedown Prosestyle, 4 May 2009
Out at the Movies: A History of Gay Cinema
This is a handsomely-produced and generously illustrated book- which is about all that can be said for it.
The titular 'history' is dealt with in categorising movies by decade,there are no surprises or revelations and Mr Davies writes in a style best classfied as middle-period-News-of-the-World.
An unexpected stylistic sparkle in a film synopsis soon dimmed when I discovered that said paragraphs were copped from the Production Notes on the DVD.
The real problem is that Mr Davies has no criteria, therefore no stand-point: what defines a gay film? Actor, writer, producer, director,audience? The inclusion here, for instance, of THE WIZARD OF OZ and MILDRED PIERCE bespeaks a confusion betwixt gay and camp, and an overall stream-lining might have meant more cogency, less lacunae.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 18, 2011 12:10 PM BST


Echoes Of My Life [European Import]
Echoes Of My Life [European Import]
Price: £18.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Whatever Happened To Class?, 13 April 2009
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Ms Mercer in fine form as she presents a generous selection from her catholic repertoire:Rodgers & Hart, Cy Coleman, Harold Arlen, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stephen Sondheim and, of course, Alec Wilder engrave some of the cartes de visite, so too does A.A. Milne in a sparkly-eyed recitation of 'Christopher Robin'. And 'You Came A Long Way From St Louis' only proves that, even in her seventy-seventh year, Mabel rocks!


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