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The Hollow Crown - Series 1-2 [Blu-ray] [2015]
The Hollow Crown - Series 1-2 [Blu-ray] [2015]
Dvd ~ Ben Wishaw
Price: £29.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The complete series on Blu-Ray: a feast for the eye, the ear and the mind, 20 Jun. 2016
Shakespeare’s history plays (excepting ‘Henry V’ and ‘Richard III’) have rarely been committed to film, but ‘The Hollow Crown’ has breathed new life into these texts and reveals them to be not only theatrical but highly cinematic. This star-studded seven-film series is the best drama screened on any network (including the Shakespeare-inspired ‘House of Cards’) for many years, an epic achievement which confirms the BBC as the world’s premier production & broadcasting network for classics such as this.

Every aspect of the production is excellent: A-List casting, the fabulous landscape cinematography & great use of surviving mediaeval interiors, gorgeous and convincingly naturalistic costumes, subtle and powerful performances, clever direction allowing the stories to reveal their complexities and an exciting narrative continuity between the plays which holds the attention throughout. There has been some pruning, the most blatant example being the three parts of Henry VI, but the result is nevertheless a coherent & even racy storyline designed for a modern audience.

The embarrassment of riches includes Ben Whishaw’s subtle, complex and sympathetic performance as Richard II (the crown-handover scene destined to become one of film history’s most dramatically poignant moments); Jeremy Irons as a deeply troubled and guilt-ridden Henry IV; Tom Hiddleston's astounding performance as Henry V which adds a new level of understanding to the character; Tom Sturridge’s weak and unworldly Henry VI and Benedict Cumberbatch’s scheming, malevolent Richard III. The large supporting cast is also excellent, particularly Patrick Stewart, Lynsey Duncan, David Suchet, Julie Walters, Simon Russell Beale, Sophie Okonedo and Dame Judy Dench.

If you have always thought “I don’t like Shakespeare” or “I find it difficult/don’t understand it” then this production may unlock the door for you. One aspect of the cinematic treatment is the intimacy of the camera close-up which enables a greater focus on the nuance and subtlety in Shakespeare’s magnificent language, and characters with lesser prominence in the text as a result often come alive on the screen. Tom Hiddleston (Henry V) thoughtfully observes: "Shakespeare is at its best when you speak it like you're making it up" and Julie Walters agrees with "You've got to speak the lines, not in a stilted isn't-the-verse-beautiful kind of way; it's got to be the way you talk".

Overall: fabulous, brilliant, a feast for the eye, the ear and the mind. The quality of the Blu-Ray is uniformly superb.


Harder & Steenbeck Evolution Silverline 2 in 1 Airbrush
Harder & Steenbeck Evolution Silverline 2 in 1 Airbrush
Offered by GDL Supplies Ltd
Price: £147.97

5.0 out of 5 stars A professional-artist quality airbrush, 19 Jun. 2016
Harder & Steenbeck is a Hamburg-based company which specialises in high quality airbrushes for professional artists. The ‘Evolution Silverline’ is one of the company’s earlier and most successful designs, and this premium product is now available at an affordable price.

I have used Badger and Iwata, both of which were dependable and well-made, but the Silverline is in a different class altogether. The double-action trigger is very sensitive in controlling graduated paint flow from just an air blast to mass-cover paint spray, and is superb for fine detailing. The whole product just oozes quality.

The airbrush is a breeze to clean and disassembles/reassembles easily. As another reviewer points out, the H&S cleaning tool is a great help for a thorough clean, as is (for example) using a specialist airbrush cleaning fluid like the one from Vallejo which I would recommend using even for acrylics as the result is much better than just using water.

The 2-in-1 is delivered with a 0.2 nozzle fitted but the box also contains a 0.4 and a spare needle securely packed in a plastic tube closed with a sharps-proof bung. A quick-release spring-coupling for the air hose is fitted to the airbrush as standard, which makes disconnecting/connecting the hose much quicker & easier than unscrewing it.

Verdict: a 5-star airbrush well worth the money. If you are planning to upgrade from a budget-priced or starter-airbrush you will be amazed and delighted at the difference this Evolution Silverline makes to your work.


EVOLUTION SILVERLINE 2 in One 2 & 5 ml cup noz set .15/0.4 m
EVOLUTION SILVERLINE 2 in One 2 & 5 ml cup noz set .15/0.4 m
Offered by Aerografando
Price: £125.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Professional-artist quality performance at an affordable price, 19 Jun. 2016
Harder & Steenbeck is a Hamburg-based company which specialises in high quality airbrushes for professional artists. The ‘Evolution Silverline’ is one of the company’s earlier and most successful designs, and this premium product is now available at an affordable price.

I have used Badger and Iwata, both of which were dependable and well-made, but the Silverline is in a different class altogether. The double-action trigger is very sensitive in controlling graduated paint flow from just an air blast to mass-cover paint spray, and is superb for fine detailing. The whole product just oozes quality.

The airbrush is a breeze to clean and disassembles/reassembles easily. As another reviewer points out, the H&S cleaning tool is a great help for a thorough clean, as is (for example) using a specialist airbrush cleaning fluid like the one from Vallejo which I would recommend using even for acrylics as the result is much better than just using water.

The 2-in-1 is delivered with a 0.2 nozzle fitted but the box also contains a 0.4 and a spare needle securely packed in a plastic tube closed with a sharps-proof bung. A quick-release spring-coupling for the air hose is fitted to the airbrush as standard, which makes disconnecting/connecting the hose much quicker & easier than unscrewing it.

Verdict: a 5-star airbrush well worth the money. If you are planning to upgrade from a budget-priced or starter-airbrush you will be amazed and delighted at the difference this Evolution Silverline makes to your work.


Santana IV
Santana IV
Price: £9.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars After 40 years they’re back, and the mojo is still there, 19 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Santana IV (Audio CD)
Well here’s me for 40 years thinking that ‘Caravanserai’ (which featured Carlos, Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, Mike Shrieve plus other musicians) was actually ‘Santana 4’. But now in 2016 we have a brand new album of 100% new music in the style of the first three from 1969-71 featuring the original Santana band, including Mike Carabello. Even the lion’s head artwork from the debut album cover has been revived and updated.

So what’s it like, and can these late middle-aged guys still work-up the mojo? The answer is mostly, yes they can.

A common criticism seems to be that it’s too long, and this has some merit. What I think is meant by ‘too long’ is that the music contains a few directionless meanderings and would benefit from judicious editing to give the overall package more punch. Also the song lyrics – never Santana’s strong point, even when delivered by the expressive vocal power of Rolie – are well, not that great.

However, for the diehard fan of the first three albums there is plenty here to like. The band is very tight with a great sound. Latino-Afro rhythms predominate, and the best of the songs are very, very good: ‘Filmore East’ is a gem, and Carlos’ guitar piece ‘Suenos’ echoes ‘Samba Pa Ti’ in structure, starting with a Spanish guitar and moving seamlessly to electric with an increasingly upbeat tone underscored by the classic, subtle & complex Santana rhythm section.

Overall: good just short of great, which it might have been with some sensitive editing. Production is first class and the best of the music has all the energy, vitality and virtuosity of classic Santana; quite a trick to pull off after 40 years. Way to go, guys.


StarTech.com 1m (3 ft) Apple 30-pin Dock Connector to USB Cable for iPhone / iPod / iPad with Stepped Connector - Charge and Sync Cable
StarTech.com 1m (3 ft) Apple 30-pin Dock Connector to USB Cable for iPhone / iPod / iPad with Stepped Connector - Charge and Sync Cable
Price: £9.87

4.0 out of 5 stars ‘Startech’ Apple iPod charging cable; works fine and a good price, 18 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This ‘StarTech’ 30-pin-to-USB cable is in white, like all Apple cables. It seems well-made, with a thickness slightly greater than the Apple-branded cable delivered with the iPod when new. It works perfectly and fit at both connections is tight & secure.

It’s Apple-certified and works when either connected to a mains outlet or to an in-car socket.

A bargain price seals the deal; it’s a fraction of the price of a similar cable bought in an Apple retail outlet.


..It's Too Late To Stop Now...Volume I
..It's Too Late To Stop Now...Volume I
Price: £12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best live album of all time by any artist? Probably, 18 Jun. 2016
The original Volume 1 of ‘It's Too Late to Stop Now’ was first released in 1974 and showcases the best moments distilled from three live performances on Van's 1973 world tour: at The Troubadour in LA, the Santa Monica Civic and the great and much-missed Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, London (which, alas, is no more). Many make a convincing case that this is the greatest live-performance album of all time, by any artist.

Van has always been a multi-talented writer, producer and arranger and this tour featured his Caledonia Soul Orchestra with string and brass sections complementing the rock music instrumental backing line-up to highlight every mood change during the gig: brass for the full-on rock/soul numbers, strings to fill out the more atmospheric pieces, and the whole held together by Van's unique, powerful and insistent vocal. The result by any logic shouldn't even work, but Van's extraordinary genius for synthesising different styles into his own trademark sound makes for a one-off, an all-time great. Even if you're not a committed Van Morrison fan, listen and you'll understand why he inspires such respect and has such a loyal fan base. From the explosive opener ‘When you got a heartache’ you’ll just be overtaken by the irresistible urge to jump to your feet and dance – even if you’re driving, which can be a problem!

I saw this line-up live at the very first Knebworth One-Day Festival on a hot summer Saturday in 1974 (I was very young and it was my first ever outdoor concert), and have never forgotten Van belting out those powerful, soulful vocals into the summer afternoon sunshine backed by a band so tight, so seamlessly unified yet infinitely flexible and responsive they were one beautiful organic whole, to treat the listener to a truly awesome, unforgettable experience. Since that day, I have been a die-hard Van Morrison fan.

The 18 numbers performed on this album are the best of the best, performed by one of the world's great musical artists in his prime, still with the power and restlessness of youth in his soul but with enough experience and maturity to understand the complexities of sound and instrumentation mix and the discipline necessary to pull it together and make it work. The power of Van's vocal delivery and his ability for on-the-spot improvisation to go with the mood of the moment often belie the committed professionalism of execution, the attention to minor details behind the performance. It's masterful.

This album is a true classic. It's outstanding; it has soul. Whichever of the various releases over the years you listen to (it doesn't really matter), just listen to it. Then buy the 2016-released package containing volumes 2, 3 & 4.


2 Pieces Nail Care Buffer Sanding Block File Art Salon Manicure Tool Sponge
2 Pieces Nail Care Buffer Sanding Block File Art Salon Manicure Tool Sponge
Offered by highqualityforyou
Price: £1.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Buffer block is good value & OK, but be prepared for long shipping time, 15 Jun. 2016
This buffer block is good, and sold here at a fraction of the price you’d pay in a mall or high street retail outlet.

Delivered as an identical pair in a polythene zip-bag the two initial (most abrasive) faces of each block are back-to-back; then the usual four remaining areas of finer grade to buff and shine are divided into half-lengths. Each ‘step’ is numbered, which is helpful because the printed descriptive names are a bit eccentric i.e. ‘clean’ and ‘correct’ which may be a direct translation from the German, as the descriptions are also printed in that language.

The block is around 17cm long and very lightweight.

Overall: good value, acceptable product which does the job, at a very good price. NB the product will be shipped to you direct from China so may not be delivered for a couple of weeks.


The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses [DVD] [2015]
The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Dominic Cooke
Price: £17.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wars of the Roses: brilliant, passionate, bloody - and abbreviated, 13 Jun. 2016
The second set of Shakespeare’s history plays produced by the BBC follows-on chronologically from the “Henriad” concluding with Tom Hiddleston's magnificent performance as Henry V.

Here we have three films rather than the four of the first series. The tag-line to this second series is ‘The Wars of the Roses’ as the films chronicle the conflict between the houses of Lancaster and York as they fought for the English crown between 1455 and 1485, culminating with the death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, the end of the Yorkist dynasty and the dawn of the Tudor Age.

Here Shakespeare’s three parts of ‘Henry VI’ are pruned down into two films called ‘Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’. These are not identical to the plays so titled, but are basically parts 2 & 3 with an abbreviated part 1 (about the loss of territories in France won by Henry V) slotted into the first film. The difficult role of the weak, vacillating and unworldly Henry VI is here played to perfection by Tom Sturridge, who like Ben Wishaw’s excellent performance as Richard II in the first series makes the character of the young King both pitiable and sympathetic, whilst here Sturridge’s Henry VI is revealed as a fish out of water, completely unsuitable for kingship in the violent and bloody Middle Ages. His adulterous French-born queen Margaret is played superbly by Sophie Okonedo (with no trace of a French accent!), who brings strength of character, ruthlessness and vindictiveness to the role of this warrior-queen.

Caution: some of the battle scenes portrayed in these plays are realistic to the point of being X-rated, as heads and limbs are severed and rivers of blood flow. The filmmakers’ decision to pull no punches when portraying these scenes can be questioned: while they hold the attention and convey the brutality of the time they are not for the squeamish or easily traumatised. Swords and axes cut into flesh, severed heads are hoisted on pikes, people squirm as they are hanged from trees in the open and Joan of Arc screams as she is burned at the stake. You have been warned!

In the concluding film of the series Benedict Cumberbatch turns in an outstanding performance as Richard III, complete with scenes of his skeletal deformity convincingly created by CGI. The running time of this play – one of Shakespeare’s greatest - has been halved and the necessary editing may not be to the taste of the purist, as many witty asides in the original text from Richard to the audience have been excised to serve the needs of brevity. But Cumberbatch’s performance as Shakespeare’s malignant usurper-king is nevertheless seriously impressive, conveying all the malevolence, intelligence and ruthlessness with few redeeming features.

As with the first series, the production is lavish. Fabulous costumes and sympathetic use of contemporary interiors (many in surviving buildings from the Middle Ages) are juxtaposed with epic landscapes in England and France, offering a rich theatrical experience which at the same time is magnificently cinematic.

This first class drama is a triumph for the BBC production team and has raised the bar for all future performances of these difficult plays on stage and screen. Unconditionally recommended.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 20, 2016 4:42 AM BST


Evolution Silverline 2-in-1 Air-Brush, 126003
Evolution Silverline 2-in-1 Air-Brush, 126003
Offered by TheatermakeupDE UK
Price: £125.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent airbrush offering professional-artist performance at a good price, 12 Jun. 2016
Harder & Steenbeck is a Hamburg-based company which specialises in high quality airbrushes for professional artists. The ‘Evolution Silverline’ is one of the company’s earlier and most successful designs, and this premium product is now available at an affordable price.

I have used Badger and Iwata, both of which were dependable and well-made, but the Silverline is in a different class altogether. The double-action trigger is very sensitive in controlling graduated paint flow from just an air blast to mass-cover paint spray, and is superb for fine detailing. The whole product just oozes quality.

The airbrush is a breeze to clean and disassembles/reassembles easily. As another reviewer points out, the H&S cleaning tool is a great help for a thorough clean, as is (for example) using a specialist airbrush cleaning fluid like the one from Vallejo which I would recommend even for acrylics as the result is much better than just using water.

The 2-in-1 is delivered with a 0.2 nozzle fitted but the box also contains a 0.4 and a spare needle securely packed in a plastic tube closed with a sharps-proof bung. A quick-release spring-coupling for the air hose is fitted to the airbrush as standard, which makes disconnecting/connecting the hose much quicker & easier than unscrewing it.

Verdict: a 5-star airbrush well worth the money. If you are planning to upgrade from a budget-priced or starter-airbrush you will be amazed and delighted at the difference this Evolution Silverline makes to your work.


Brabantia Metal Soil Spear for Rotary Dryer, 50 mm - Metal/Yellow
Brabantia Metal Soil Spear for Rotary Dryer, 50 mm - Metal/Yellow
Price: £10.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Tough and simple design; a challenge to hammer-in, 11 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought the 50mm size to replace a more expensive and over-engineered German-manufactured ground spike made of tough polycarbonate, which broke after 3 months in use.

The Brabantia ground spike is a simple but well thought-out design about 50cm in length. It takes a lot of hammering-in and you must ensure you drive it into the ground perpendicular or the clothes dryer pole will not be vertical. The spike will go into soft ground and subsoil but you will need a large mallet or sledgehammer for the job plus bodily strength and determination, and once seated you will not easily get it out.

The spike is 100% aluminium so it won’t rust and has tough side fins which help keep it vertical when hammering into the ground, and then makes it more resistant to lateral movement once the dryer pole is inserted and the wind starts to blow the structure around.

The 50mm diameter size has a detachable yellow plastic cap to more easily locate the aperture in long grass, and also protects the channel from rain filling it up during prolonged wet periods.

Overall the product is tough, simple in design and looks permanent, and comparatively cheap. The only caution is that hammering it into the ground is a major operation, and may be virtually impossible if the ground is hard or stony.


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