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Bedinog (North Shields, England)

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The Bridge on the River Kwai/ The Key
The Bridge on the River Kwai/ The Key
Offered by gillihams
Price: 4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Key Issue, 14 Jun 2010
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We have had the Bridge on the River Kwai from Columbia Legacy, and my dodgy ears may not detect the improvements of this latest remastering over the previous issue, but the dry recording certainly complements Malcolm Arnold's spikey, unyielding music.
My principal interest in acquiring this CD was, however, the second offering here, ie some 32 minutes from the underrated 'The Key' a WW2 story of Royal Navy salvage tugs, and their near suicidal attempts to rescue merchant ships crippled by enemy action. This score has all the long dissonant brass motifs which make Arnold's music unmistakable, and highly descriptive of the onscreen action. The recording is taken from vinyl issued at the time of the film's release, and it has to be said the current engineers have done a wonderful job, any remaining flaws being entirely acceptable given the age and technology of the original. The only niggle is the fact most of the music is in the form of two 'suites' which don't follow the action of the film and are a little bit of a mishmash. Having said that, it is only a niggle and a small price to pay for the pleasure of listening to a score I've long hoped would see the light of day.
This first issue from Filmophone is hopefully a flavour of what is to come.

Barabbas [DVD] [2002]
Barabbas [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Anthony Quinn
Price: 4.95

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Search for Meaning, 3 April 2010
This review is from: Barabbas [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
Thankfully, a number of 50s and 60s epics derided at the time have been positively reappraised in recent years, and in such doubting and insecure times, this film's always intelligent script refreshingly challenges the black and white of oversimplified religion and dogma. From the very outset, the disciples of the crucified Jesus struggle to make sense of their faith, and Barabbas(a marginal character in the gospels) in counterpoint throughout the story is trying to make sense of why he lived when Jesus took his place on the cross, and trying desperately to find some meaning, some belief, some faith, and as with most of us, goes down many a blind alley. It's part of what makes this wonderful film so relevant nearly 50 years after its release.
Acting styles have changed, but there's nothing stilted here, dialogue being delivered with conviction by all the actors who matter. We see real people in crowds,a real amphitheatre (Verona)and the magnificent crucifixion scene shot against a real eclipse. Who needs bland CG effects.

The DVD comes up far better than the old VHS release with sharpness and contrast well defined, and is as good as anything we have a right to expect short of a full restoration. Other reviewers here have already described various technical aspects, and no duplication is required.
A wonderfully made, powerfully acted film which has as much to say now as when it was made. It's right up there with the best of its type.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2011 11:18 PM GMT

Big War Themes
Big War Themes

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Nostalgia, 23 Feb 2010
This review is from: Big War Themes (Audio CD)
I have this in its previous HMV own label incarnation as well as the old MFP LP.
Geoff Love was a well-known dance and TV band leader and friend of Ron Goodwin, whose music he always made a good fist of conducting. This disc is a lot of fun, and I can't help but smile at the incongruous 60s jazz arrangement in one or two places such as Lawrence of Arabia. Listeners are likely to have soundtrack recordings of their favourites anyway, so there's no harm done. The sound is full, and sounds remarkably fresh. This really is a disc to take the middle aged among us back to bygone days of different musical styles, and say wistfully 'Oh yes, i remember that..'
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2011 8:14 PM BST

501 Minutes to Christ
501 Minutes to Christ
by Poe Ballantine
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.15

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shades of Grey, 4 Jan 2010
This review is from: 501 Minutes to Christ (Paperback)
I write as an ordinary paying customer, not as a literary expert.
Ballantine's 3 decade long experience of drifting around the underbelly of the Great American Dream yields atmospheric landscapes, and sharply drawn characters which evoke not the technicoloured fizz of Hollywood but the grim monochrome of life just off skid row.
Other reviewers find his work runs the gamut of emotions, but for me this collection of short stories drift like tumbleweed from one shade of grey to another,largely because I can find so few characters to invite my sympathy, other than the helpless baby, offspring of a disturbed mother, and Shorty his dog. There's little to amuse in the recollection of many drink and dope sessions, for the characters he describes seem to exist only for themselves and without apparent concern for anything or anyone. Some find the author quite a raconteur, yet for the most part he comes across as shallow. Without doubt, his close encounters with possible suicide are disturbing, yet these do not appear to be as a result of wrongs done him by others, more a consequence of his own unfocussed life, the reasons for which appear to be his own choice. It is very difficult to actually care about what he's done or where he's going, it becomes so dreary.
An interesting read in short doses, but not for the depressive, and I'm not sure I'll be accompanying him on further journeys; I've attended more humorous funerals.

Alexander The Great / Barabbas: (Original Soundtracks)
Alexander The Great / Barabbas: (Original Soundtracks)
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 26.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Epics with Atmosphere, 27 Jun 2009
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It's almost obligatory these days to mock the films themselves, and sometimes the music that served them if they are pre 1970, and fall into the epic sword and sandal category. Both these scores are such examples and up to a point are as far removed from the style of today as are the films themselves. I say up to a point because Mario Nascimbene is one of those composers prepared to take a risk in experimentation in both combination of instruments employed as well as the manipulation of the sound, which in his day was the equal of any experimentation in film music today. It is therefore a pity that this DRG reissue did not contain the appendix track present on the old Citadel LP of Barabbas, which explained in layman's terms the build up of a number of musical effects in the score.
It is also a pity that the 'bolero' arrangement of the Barabbas theme ,the first track of the LP was not included here either,if for no other reason than that it was by Ennio Morricone, and the fingerprints of his future Italian western phase are very clear. It's also a cracking arrangement, but sadly missing here, although there was plenty of room with the CD total playing time of only 49 minutes.

The Barabbas score generally seems to have lost favour with the passage of time, and some critics maintain that it does not easily stand alone, apart from the film. Well, I suppose it comes down to this; you either enjoy Nascimbene or you don't, and I do. The main title theme is an effective adaptation of the (anachronistic) Gregorian chant, Missa Orbis Factor. The same theme makes an entrance in 'Name of the Rose'(sung by monks, as you would expect), and in the TV movie 'Peter and Paul'(about the two Apostles), but here, in Barabbas, the gloom laden arrangement is appropriate in a film that focuses on one man's slow pilgrimage from darkness to (very fuzzy) light. It is often a spare score, and quite short, but manages to convey that emotional and spiritual struggle to find meaning in a dark and uncompromising world, while showing up the hollow grandeur of Rome for what it is in juxtaposing yet another variation of the 'Gregorian' theme with the harsh brassiness of Roman fanfares in the Intermezzo track.

Tremendously impressive is the accompaniment to the crucifixion of Jesus,famously shot against the background of an actual total eclipse in Italy, and the quiet, almost melancholy, yet questioning repetition of the main theme on flute and minimal instruments in the Empty Tomb track immediately following. It is this theme, in various guises, that crops up throughout the score, never sounding overly repetitious because, like Barabbas himself, it seems to search, grow and develop, right up until the final scene, where Barabbas, and his theme, are finally at the point of finding their answer to the search that has taken some two hours on screen, to find resolution.

Alexander the Great, an altogether different story, but also set in the ancient world, always seems to have a certain something missing on screen, and even after many viewings, it is difficult to define. Perhaps it is the lack of the idea of self discovery and redemption that characterises so many epics that leaves a certain emptiness and lack of sympathy for most of the characters,almost all of whom are self absorbed and seeking only power. The music certainly mirrors that with its harsh, tinny brass fanfares, and cold, almost impressionistic palace music, dominated as it is with flutes, other woodwind and harp- a reflection of the three-way distant relationships between Alexander, his father Philip, and mother Olympias. This musical picture of royal isolation is carried over into the lonely horn calls of the doomed Persian King Darius' theme. Only when battle comes, do we really perceive a substantial orchestra with batteries of exotic instruments, and Nascimbene, generously writes subtly different battle music for the different protagonists.

Neither score for these typical Nascimbene offerings are long, but for me, they are thoroughly worthwhile, and should be in the collection of anyone who cares about film music of this genre, even if some of it is 50 years old. The sound quality is not up to today's standards, but for musical quality, I have to say Nascimbene's Alexander knocks Vangelis' into a cocked hat. And I am a great admirer of Vangelis.

From The Earth To The Moon: Music From The HBO Miniseries
From The Earth To The Moon: Music From The HBO Miniseries
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 18.95

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More recycling, 14 Mar 2009
This is yet another example of the blatant rip-offs that pass for 'soundtracks' all too often these days. We get a couple of tracks of original score padded out with recycled contemporary pop/rock at minimum production cost. It does absolutely no justice to the absolutely marvelous tv series which had a wealth of terrific music, penned by several composers. A 2 or 3 cd box would have at least done the series some justice, but would undoubtedly have cost a lot more to produce, with consequent smaller returns. All we have is another 'pop' compilation album.

Is Paris Burning
Is Paris Burning

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Return, 13 Mar 2009
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This review is from: Is Paris Burning (Audio CD)
This typical 60's score from Maurice Jarre hasn't been widely available for some time, and I welcome it warmly. If you enjoy his other wartime scores for 'The Train' and 'Night of the Generals' this one you'll love. At just over 36 mins it isn't long, but the 4 section layout gives it the feel almost of a symphony, at times sounding curiously like Shostakovich. To my ears it captures the feel of the film, with the separate themes for the Germans (all clanging pianos and drums)the Resistance(represented by wonderfully defiant little marches and accordion chords), the Americans, and the wonderful waltz representing the great city of Paris itself.
The hopes,tensions, relief, and joy of the Parisians liberated are all there, perhaps with a little tear too.
Sound comes up very well indeed. Absolutely cracking.

Gli Atti Degli Apostoli
Gli Atti Degli Apostoli
Offered by Hottest Sounds Around
Price: 19.50

2.0 out of 5 stars Music or Dialogue?, 13 Mar 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gli Atti Degli Apostoli (Audio CD)
Amazon listing doesn't help here-this is the soundtrack to Acts of the Apostles
(Atti degli Apostoli)

Nascimbene wrote some very atmospheric and powerful 'period' film scores in the 50s and 60's. This one comes from an Italian TV series of the late 60's and dispenses with 'grand tunes', being an early ethnic type score, and spare almost to the point of insignificance. What there is, however would have been much more enjoyable but for the serious weakness of lengthy Italian dialogue dominating virtually every track,and totally ruining the underlying score. For non-Italian speakers it is an almost complete waste of time, whilst Italians might draw some inspiration from the spoken words.
Apart from a couple of tracks, a great disappointment; if only CAM had left out the dialogue.

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