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Beachcomber1964 (UK)

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The Great Pat Hobby
The Great Pat Hobby
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Welcome Return of Pat Hobby, 27 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote seventeen Pat Hobby stories towards the end of his life (he died in 1940). Had he lived, it seems certain that Fitzgerald would have continued with the sequence. However, Richard Foreman has now brought Pat Hobby back to life and back onto the studio lot! The personality of Pat remains unchanged; he’s still a hang over from the silent movie days, but clinging on, desperately trying to recapture the glory days of the 1920s, when all a screenwriter had to do was compose some movie inter titles and invent the scenario. Pat is a lovable rogue; Richard Foreman’s stories are in the spirit of the original tales and are equally enjoyable.

Twelve Red Herrings
Twelve Red Herrings
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing Yarns, 18 Mar. 2015
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There are those that sneer at Jeffrey Archer's writing style, but to be fair to him, he has stated on many occasions that he regards himself as a story teller, rather than a writer. The stories gathered in this book are engaging and most have the added frisson of being based on real events, as told to the author by some of the very wide variety of people he has met. The last story has no less than four alternative endings, this is a bit tiresome...two alternatives would surely have been enough. But overall, this collection of tales is very entertaining.

The Great Gatsby [DVD] [2013]
The Great Gatsby [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: £5.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gatsby for the MTV Generation, 6 July 2014
Music videos are designed to hold the attention with rapid fire editing and overblown action sequences and CGI. But when the same techniques are stretched into feature film length, the results can be rather draining.

Baz Luhrmann has said that had he included everything that was in the original novel, his film would have been seven hours long. And yet three other film versions have made good attempts at adapting the whole story.

This version starts to go down hill with the rendering of the scene where Nick visits Daisy and Tom for dinner. Some of Fitzgerald's dialogue is employed, but easily missed with characters talking over each other. The episode then sinks into slapstick with Nick taking a pratfall. The symbolism of the green light at the end of the dock is taken up and exaggerated into a surreal fluorescent search light shrouded in fog. Perhaps more of the original story could have been included if the film hadn't invented unnecessary scenes, such as Nick narrating his tale in a sanatorium, with a psychiatrist in the room. Where did that idea spring from?

The burgeoning relationship between Nick and Jordan is completely ignored. In fact throughout, there is a bizarre determination to portray Nick as a loser. All subtlety is lost , with scenes taken to simplified extremes. The afternoon party at Myrtle's New York apartment just stops short of becoming an orgy and the business lunch with Meyer Wolfsheim takes place in a speakeasy complete with dancing girls and a floor show. This is lunch time, for goodness sake!

In an essay about New York, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: "Restlessness of New York in 1927 approached hysteria". The Great Gatsby was set in 1922, and Fiztgearld was specifically referring to the year or two before the Wall Street crash in 1929. However the "Hysteria" quote has been picked up and used as part of the film's marketing campaign, and it seems a driving motivation of the movie is to show the roaring twenties in glorious CGI.

It's impossible to know how much time the director spent with his actors, when not pre-occupied with his 3D camera rig, but Leonardo DiCaprio makes a good Gatsby and Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim is very enjoyable to watch. The director has said that he dropped a line, as too negative, where Gatsby says Daisy's voice is "full of money". An odd decision as one of the themes of the Great Gatsby is the ability of the very rich to retreat into their wealth. However the film goes some way to redeeming itself by covering the meeting of Gatsby with Dan Cody, and Gatsby's subsequent re-inventing of himself; a central theme of the novel and still relevant to many self made people today.

Shakedown (Kindle Single)
Shakedown (Kindle Single)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lowdown on Shakedown, 13 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This story can be regarded as Ellroy lite, but is no less pleasing than his major works. In fact it's gratifying to see him reference the internet and modern day political figures, even though they are entwined with Ellroy's beloved 1950s L.A. There are also plenty of the author's usual hallmarks such as his fondness for alliteration and uncompromising use of violence and very strong language...but Ellroy has never compromised in the past, and he clearly isn't going to start any time soon.

The Normans [DVD]
The Normans [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert Bartlett
Price: £6.90

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1066 and All That, Plus a Bit More, 6 Sept. 2011
This review is from: The Normans [DVD] (DVD)
The Battle of Hastings, Norman Castles, the Domesday Book, etc. The story is so familiar it takes a good presenter to breath new life into this period of history. Professor Robert Bartlett might not be as easy on the eye as Bettany Hughes, but he does have gravitas and a complete command of his subject.

Much of the filming was done in winter and a good attempt is made at creating darkly atmospheric scenes; for instance, Ely Cathedral is approached in convoluted fashion, via the Fenland Marshes. And there is much use of the phrase: "The Chronicles tell us...."

The series gets really interesting when it delves into the much less familiar story of the Norman conquest of southern Italy and Sicily; leading to the First Crusade. Bartlett contends, that although the Normans eventually disappeared, they successfully survived by a process of integration. He delivers a great line: "They came, they saw, they conquered, they married the locals and assimilated themselves out of existence." Nice one Prof!

The Hour - Series 1 [DVD]
The Hour - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Romola Garai
Price: £9.95

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hour, 12 Aug. 2011
This review is from: The Hour - Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
This series has suffered as a result of confused comparisons with MAD MEN, a situation not helped by the BBC's own publicity department. THE HOUR, is in fact a complex story of conspiracy in high places, where events are viewed via the prism of a busy news room and against the wider back drop of the 1956 Suez crisis.

However there does seem to be a real muddle going on. The BBC's promotional blurb describes the series as having: "a passionate love triangle at its heart." The romantic drama of the "love triangle" is developed and focused upon to the extent that the conspiracy mystery aspects of the show hardly seem necessary. It's as if two separate scripts have been combined in effort to increase popular appeal.

Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) is a very bright but troublesome reporter. Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) is Freddie's producer and friend. She falls for the upper-class Hector Madden (Dominic West), a well meaning but not very bright presenter; the triangle is complete! Probably the most believable character is Lix (Anna Chancellor), she also works on the news team and is very reminiscent of the extraordinary women that occasionally popped up in the TV world during that era; an authoritative spinster with the gift of inspiring others, and of course dedicated to her career to the exclusion of all else. It's a shame that Lix is not the boss as it would have helped credibility. Instead Bel has to shout at Freddie: "I'm your producer." He doesn't always seem convinced!

The pace is slow and methodical and not for those with a short attention span. It takes a ridiculously long time for the clever TV news folk to realise that their phones are bugged. Also an MI6 officer spends ages planted in the office before making an effort to do some spying.

The period detail and atmosphere is bit hit and miss. A significant quibble is the amount of smoking that goes on. Although it's true that in the 1950s everyone smoked and few places were off limits, there is a self-consciousness in the near continual smoking; we have to wait for actors to deliver their lines, because they are usually dragging on a cigarette. And why is the series so selective in striving for period realism? For instance; Hector Madden is upper-class and a news reader/presenter. In 1956 he would have spoken with an excruciating "posh" accent, and yet he speaks like a 21st Century metro male!

In summary; this DVD would probably appeal to a devotee of John Le Carre, rather than a MAD MEN fan.

Made in Dagenham [DVD] [2010]
Made in Dagenham [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Sally Hawkins
Price: £2.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a Look Under the Bonnet!, 31 Mar. 2011
Historical inaccuracies are a stock-in-trade for Hollywood movies, but when the film is British and set only about forty years ago, any liberties taken can prove to be more controversial, and so it has been with MADE IN DAGENHAM. The story follows the battle for equal pay that a group of female machinists fought in the late '60s at the Ford Dagenham Factory. Several of the original workers have given interviews saying that some of the scenes, such as women sitting in their underwear, are absurd. The film's director has replied that he was trying to show the sweat shop conditions that existed. There is also the problem of conveying the vast (nearly 500 acres) size of the plant which included a large foundry. This is, after all, a relatively small scale Brit Flick.

Contemporary news reports and press photographs show that the strikers were all sturdy women and not the waif like girls and dolly-birds that are depicted, but the film has an eye on the box-office and is also breezy and up-beat in tone.

Sally Hawkins plays Rita who has leadership thrust upon her and represents the female workers. She is delightfully hesitant when she first has to shout: "All out", to begin a strike. Bob Hoskins is the sympathetic but traditional shop-steward who along with Rita has to battle the Union Barons, as well as Senior Management. Another dimension to the real life saga was the fact that a woman, Barbara Castle, was Secretary of State for Employment. The formidable Castle is played by Miranda Richardson who really gets her teeth into this meaty role.

There are some nice touches in the script, such as occasional references to the war, the memory of which still loomed very large for many people.

The period setting of 1968 is created very pleasingly, helped by a lively musical score. The scenes of Rita's home and family life are a bit weak and could have been firmed up, particularly when the strike grows into a national political cause. However this is a genuinely inspirational film.

Sherlock: Series 1 [DVD]
Sherlock: Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Benedict Cumberbatch
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century, 14 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Sherlock: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Benedict Cumberbatch glides onto the screen as a tall upright, but not ridged Sherlock Holmes. With long flowing overcoat and flapping scarf he is reminiscent of Richard E. grant in WITHNAIL & I, in this BBC version of the Conan Doyle stories. Set in contemporary London, smart phones and laptops are pivotal to the plots and you start to wonder how Basil Rathbone ever managed without GPS!

The role of Sherlock Holmes comes with more baggage than Joan Collins at an airport, but Benedict Cumberbatch has freshened up the character while at the same time projecting a timeless quality.

After Jude Law, the role of Dr. Watson is becoming a fairly tall order, but Martin Freeman does a fine job as a grounded and pragmatic ex-army doctor supporting the startling performance from Cumberbatch.

Rupert Graves plays the harassed Inspector Lestrade for two of the three episodes. Graves is in fact probably the most experienced screen actor in the production and is looking slightly careworn since his Merchant Ivory days.

There are of course echoes of the 19th century; Hansom cabs have been exchanged for modern black cabs and Limehouse has been swapped for modern day China Town.

Apparently there were rumours within the TV industry that the BBC regretted embarking on the "Sherlock" project. However it seems what actually happened was that after seeing the pilot episode the BBC, although, happy with the concept demanded some re-working of the production. The pilot was never broadcast but is included in the DVD release as an "extra" feature

Sherlock Holmes [DVD] [2009]
Sherlock Holmes [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Jr Robert Downey
Price: £2.62

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Guy Ritchie Directs Sherlock Holmes, 14 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Sherlock Holmes [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Director Guy Ritchie storms back to top form, helped by a large budget and two stars (Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law) both of whom are determined to make the movie work. Downey Jr gives an alternative interpretation of the great detective, playing him as a highly physical and also eccentric character.

The original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made reference to the boxing and martial arts skills of Holmes, while Watson occasionally carried a revolver. These aspects are hugely played-up with lengthy fight scenes and plenty of gun play. Never forget this is a Guy Ritchie film!

Jude Law gives a cracking performance as Dr Watson, an army surgeon returned from the 1879 war in Afghanistan who is torn between a taste for adventure and his desire to settle down to marriage and a medical practise. The film also makes some effort to explore the friendship between Holmes and Watson with a nice level of humour.

The plot isn't too convoluted and rattles along at a frantic pace. There is extensive use of CGI but this stops short of being excessive and is counter pointed by real locations. The grim and dirty streets of Victorian London are conjured up very effectively.

Mark Strong as the evil Lord Blackwood is careful not to slip into a pantomime villain and pitches his performance just right. However the two main female characters Irene Adler (Rachel Mc Adams) and Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) come across as far too modern and more time could have been spent developing their roles.

This enjoyable family film concludes with edge of the seat suspense and neatly sets up a possible sequel.

Beowulf and Grendel [2005] [DVD]
Beowulf and Grendel [2005] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stellan Skarsgard
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.57

4.0 out of 5 stars No CGI Required, 14 Dec. 2010
The epic poem from the dark ages is brought to the screen in this UK/Canada/Iceland co-production. Filmed on location in Iceland, the breadth of the natural scenery makes the need for CGI redundant. Gerard Butler takes the role of Beowulf, with Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard giving a convincing performance as King Hrothgar, broken-down from his war of attrition with Grendell the troll. Eddie Marsan is intensely energetic as Father Brendan the "Celtic priest" who frantically baptizes anyone he manages to grab hold of. Amongst the warrior action the central messages of the poem are put across with some sensitivity.

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