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David Rowland
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Party Animals: Complete BBC Series 1 [DVD] [2007]
Party Animals: Complete BBC Series 1 [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Patrick Baladi
Offered by Revival Books Ltd
Price: £26.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Party animals, 11 Jan. 2013
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This is a very well made, enjoyable, intelligent and absorbing series about young people who work behind the scenes for MP's, about MP's themselves and lobbying firms. It paints a grubby picture of ambitious, ruthless scheming youngsters who are unprincipled, anything goes with regard to them getting on and pleasing their political masters, they will sleep with anyone to advance themselves and stab anyone in the back they regard as obstacles to their careers or in order to advance it or the MP's they work for. Briefing against their political opponents, hatching schemes to undermine them, perpetrating all manner of intrigue and digging up sleaze are seen as essential requirements of the job.

It would be easy to dismiss this series as an exercise in bashing politicians and slagging off those who work for them that bears no relation to what it is like in British politics which is far cleaner than what is portrayed in "Party Animals" but the revelations of the last three decades has severely damaged the faith of so many people in politics and politicians leading to public cynicism and apathy and it suggests that what is shown in this series may not be far from the truth.

The performances are great, the locations look real and it is entertaining and perceptive and even allowing for the inevitable exaggerations for dramatic purposes it should be seen by every politician and those who work on their behalf. If they were honest they will see something of themselves in this portrayal of political life in Britain and it will hopefully lead to them questioning what they do, how they do it and why the public feel the way they do so that the standard of political life in Westminster can improve.


This Is Personal - The Hunt For The Yorkshire Ripper [DVD]
This Is Personal - The Hunt For The Yorkshire Ripper [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alun Armstrong
Price: £6.50

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is personal: the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, 9 Jan. 2013
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I remember very well the Yorkshire Ripper's reign of terror through Leeds, Bradford and other cities in west Yorkshire between 1975 and 1980 and this superb reconstruction of his crimes and the long agonising police investigation produced a powerful performance from Alun Armstrong who playes George Oldfield, the leader of the hunt for the elusive serial killer for many years until his retirement in 1983 with the killer still at large. It shows the frustration of the police as the killings continue without them being able to catch the perpetrator, the increasing physical and psychological strain on Oldfield as his health starts to fail and he has to continually face the grieving families of the murdered women and cope with an increasingly critical press and public. He also has to deal with the friction between himself and some of his colleagues who he is convinced are trying to undermine him because he had earlier investigated police corruption. The police were deceived for many years by a hoax tape recording sent by a man with a Geordie accent in June 1979 who claimed to be the Yorkshire Ripper but the real killer turned out to be a lorry driver from Bradford called Peter Sutcliffe who the police had interviewed nine times.

The perpetrator of this cruel hoax known as "Wearside Jack" which had such disasterous consequences for the police and the people of west Yorkshire was identified in 2006 as John Humble by matching DNA found in his saliva on an envelope he had sent to the police. He was subsequently imprisoned for eight years. Sutcliffe was found guilty of killing thirteen women, the attempted murder of seven others and in 1981 he admitted to killing two other women, including one shown in the film whose report was dismissed by the police as not being the actions of the Yorkshire Ripper. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and is currently in Broadmoor and his appeal in 2010 was turned down.

With the wisdom of hindsight we now know the mistakes made by the police, the inefficient method of their recording and their conviction that the Yorkshire Ripper was a Geordie which took them on a wild goose chase in the wrong location for so long. You can really feel for Oldfield who is portrayed as a thoroughly decent and dedicated copper who is tortured by the crimes he is investigating and deeply frustrated at not being able to crack the case before he retires. He died in 1985 only two years after retiring and it is hard not to think of him as the Yorkshire Ripper's last victim.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2015 4:30 AM GMT


Enigma Secret [1979]
Enigma Secret [1979]

1.0 out of 5 stars Enigma Secret, 6 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Enigma Secret [1979] (DVD)
I am very interetsed in the subject of this film but despite trying all the likely options I could not get the English sub-titles to come up. Can any kind soul help me to do this?


Blessed By Fire [DVD]
Blessed By Fire [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tristan Bauer
Price: £9.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blessed by fire, 6 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Blessed By Fire [DVD] (DVD)
I remember very well being shocked by the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina in 1982 and I followed all the twists and turns of the story after that. The film provides a fascinating view of the war from the "other" side, something that we have unfortunately very rarely seen in this country. At the time, unlike many people in Britain, I always thought that there was likely to be a war and that the Argentinians could not be seen to lose face and flee back to their own country as soon as the task force sailed. No military junta can afford to appear weak as soon as their actions are challenged, Galtieri knew he had the support of most of his people and his actions proved a necessary distraction from the mounting opposition that he was facing at home. I rarely agreed with Margaret Thatcher about other issues but I supported her at the time and thought that in the event of all the diplomatic moves failing that expelling the forces of occupation should be undertaken. Anyone who believes in democracy and self determination and that international bullies must not be seen to succeed in crushing other countries could do no other.

Tristian Bauer's film shows very well a number of factors that were not readily apparent at the time of the invasion - the Argentinian soldiers, other than officers, were almost entirely young poorly trained conscripts who had the bad luck of being in the army when Galtieri decided to carry out the invasion, they were bullied and mistreated by their officers, unlike the British army they had no experience of warfare in their recent history and they totally underestimated the determination of the British armed forces and their ability to carry out military operations so far from home.

In the film which covers the last phase of the war the soldiers spend most of their time shivering in their foxholes, miserable, hungry, homesick, wet through and buffeted by the cold south Atlantic wind. When a group of them catch a sheep to eat they are caught by an officer and as a punishment are staked to the ground for a long period exposed to the elements. With all this to face and with the British army choosing to fight at night it is not surprising that the Argentinian forces were no match for the British army. Bauer shows vividly the chaos and confusion of combat and the collapse of the Argentinian morale and it is a moving and memorable film that reinforces that there has got to be a better way of settling territorial disputes than by going to war. Like soldiers in all wars what keeps them going is not god and country but the comradeship of the men around them and their desire to survive and not to let down their mates.

When the Argentinian soldiers returned home, defeated and humiliated they were largely ignored by the rest of the population and talking about the war became a taboo subject until recently but ironically the beneficiaries of the defeat in the long run were the Argentinian people who threw out the military junta that caused the war and decided to embrace democracy and the rule of law.

I would urge you to view the extra item which is a very interesting and illuminating discussion between the author of the book on which the film is based, Edgardo Esteban, himself a veteran of the war and a group of British Falkland veterans. It shows that the experiences of people on both sides of the conflict were similar and that one of the terrible but rarely publicised legacies of the war is that hundreds of veterans in Argentina and Britain have suffered post traumatic stress disorder, high rates of mental illness, suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse. Long after the war is over these veterans every day of their lives are fighting another kind of war, often alone and unsupported, where the outcome is uncertain and their suffereing largely goes unnoticed by everyone else.


Borgen - Series 2 [DVD]
Borgen - Series 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sidse Babett Knudsen
Price: £14.70

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Borgen - Series 2, 6 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Borgen - Series 2 [DVD] (DVD)
I found Borgen Series 1 extremely impressive and gripping so I was really looking forward to series 2 and 3 coming to our screens. Borgen 1 and 2 are everything that most Hollywood films are not - mature, sophisticated and subtle and you have the feeling when you watch Borgen that its creators actually treat its audience as if they are intelligent people who don't need obvious, crude devices thrust in their faces to make a dramatic point. The first two episodes in series 2 have been shown so far and they were very promising and a clear indication that the high standard of film making in series 1 has been retained in series 2. The first episode in Series 2, is particularly memorable and moving as it is concerned with an issue that is also close to the hearts of British people - the war in Afghanistan and the consequences of the loss of life of young soldiers in a war that is far from universally popular in either Denmark or the UK.

All the actors in Borgen turn in terrific performances, the pace of the plot is just right and it makes watching what happens a stimulating and exciting experience. I only wish we could make our politics as interesting when we make films about what happens in Westminster.


The Fifty Years War: Israel and the Arabs (BBC Books)
The Fifty Years War: Israel and the Arabs (BBC Books)
by Jihan El-Tahri
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fifty years war: Israel and the Arabs, 25 Dec. 2012
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Barely a day goes by when you don't hear about some issue between the Palestinians and the Israelis so you can't help wondering how all these problems came about. In 1998 the BBC made a television series called "The fifty years war: Israel and the Arabs" that tried to explain the history of the conflict since Israel was created in 1948. I remembered how much I learnt from watching these programmes, especially listening to interviews with the political and military personalities involved, many of whom are now dead. Unfortunately, I did not record the series and the BBC does not appear to have made a DVD of the series in Region 2 format or have repeated it on television recently which is a great shame but they did produce an excellent paperback companion to the series by two middle east experts, Ahron Bregman who was born in Israel and Jihan El-Tahri who was born in Berrut which covers events between 1948 and 1998 and attempts to cover the issues from "both" points of view. This is rare as most books about this subject are partial and are hardly balanced accounts of events so you don't get a full picture of what has taken place.

The book comprises seven parts - 1. Palestine, Egypt and the new state of Israel, 2. The 1967 war, 3. Sadat's historic quest for peace, 4. Homelands, 5. The long road to Madrid, 6. Peace at last and 7. Talks with Syria.

Many fascinating facts were unearted when the programmes were made that were not known when the events occured, expecially the secret conversations and negotiations that took place behind the scenes between the politicians of Israel and the countries in the middle east and it makes you realise the folly of making up your mind about issues at the time they take place and how different you would have felt if you had known at the time what you learn long after the event. That should be bourne in mind when you listen to events on the news today and you think you know what has happened.

If you want a relatively balanced insight of the middle east conflict you can do no better than to read this gem of a book. It will surprise you, inform you and make you realise how complicated the present day problems are but it does explain in a very readable way how they came about about and how they contributed towards the situation that we see today.


Nine Lives ( Ni Liv ) [DVD]
Nine Lives ( Ni Liv ) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jack Fjeldstad

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nine lives, 21 Dec. 2012
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In 1940, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave the go-ahead to set up the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in order to carry out surveillance and sabotage in Nazi occupied Europe and "Nine Lives" is the incredible true survival story of one of their agents, Jan Baalsrud, who was the sole survivor of a party of Norweigan agents that were landed on the bleak Arctic coast of northern Norway in 1943 after a voyage across the North Sea from the SOE's main base in the Shetlands. The party was observed by German troops as it landed and everyone except Baalsrud was killed. He escaped and is hunted across the vast expanse of bitterly cold snowbound mountains and is helped by sympathetic Norweigans at great risk to themselves and they have the task of getting him across the border to safety in neutral Sweden.

Baalsrud's feet became frostbitten and he was snow blinded and cannot walk so he has to be carried by his rescuers over the mountains into Sweden. He was placed on a sledge under a large rock and after a blizzard he was buried by a snowdrift but he survived and his rescuers try repeatedly in terrible weather to get Baalstrud to Sweden but they have to turn back many times before they are finally succesfull.

The film was made in black and white in 1957 so it's style is a little dated in places but it is very well made by its director Arne Skouens and it leaves a very powerful impression of the ordeal Baalsrud suffered before he finally reached safety. He was the technical adviser for the film so it must have been an accurate account of what happened. It is based on a book by David Howarth and I read it before I saw the film and the book is also a gripping account of a truly remarkable man who must have had the constitution of an ox and an iron will to survive his ordeal and we should be grateful that people like Baalsrud were on our side in the war and how people like him brought the war to a victorious conclusion for the allies and restored freedom to Europe.


The Killing - Series 3 [DVD]
The Killing - Series 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sofie Gråbøl
Price: £16.25

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Killing Series 3, 21 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The Killing - Series 3 [DVD] (DVD)
The first two series of "The killing" were really great and series 3 is even better and I was glued to it from beginning to end. The plot is mature, intelligent and sophisticated and so well developed that you never guess who the killer is until it is actually disclosed. The twists and turns of the story are superbly done and keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. Something of this quality could never have been made by Hollywood but I dare say that as usual someone there will jump on the bandwagon and try to imitate it but the end result is bound to be crude and naff in comparison.

The story of "The killing 3" is built around two seperate themes that eventually come together - the kidnapping of the daughter of a powerful and influential industrialist and the political mascinations of Danish politics as a general election approaches.

"The killing 3" is exciting and very well made and I strongly believe that it should be seen in one sitting so you get the maximum impact. The story is driven forward at a cracking pace, the climax is brilliantly realised and you will be left breathless with admiration and looking forward to any further series.


Of Time and the City [DVD] [2008]
Of Time and the City [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Terence Davies
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £7.71

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of time and the city, 13 Dec. 2012
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I have just watched "Time and the City" for the first time and I was completely bowled over by its power, beauty, honesty, sensitivity and humour and its glimpses of a long gone Liverpool took me back to my own 1950's and 1960's childhood and adolescence in Plaistow, Canning Town and Silvertown in the east end of London. I have never been to Liverpool in my life but some of the scenes in the film very much reminded me of the world I inhabited that like Davies's Liverpool is no more.

Davies's has made a superb, deeply personal film, it is essentially his view of what life was like for him in Liverpool in the 1950's and 1960's. His combination of achive footage, still photographs, literature, poetry and music is very imaginative and moving and reminds people of my generation what it is was like for us who grew up in a post war inner city area and how so much has changed since then. Like in the east end of London in the two decades after the war there was complete transformation in Liverpool and a great deal of destruction, not all of which produced the improvements that were hoped for. The film also shows youngsters of today that it was an utterly different world to what they are familiar with now. Modern teenagers must wonder how on earth people managed to live in such deprived conditions and why so many people put up with the poverty and injustice that prevailed then and the vast gulf that existed between the rich and the poor of Britain. In the early 1950's particularly there were severe shortages after the war, the country was virtually bankrupt, there was very little money around, there was widespread rationing, hardly anyone had cars or television sets and there were none of the modern labour saving gadgets that we all take for granted today. Although this is very apparent in Davies's film the people shown managed to cope in their own way and he shows how people enjoyed themselves in ways that seem very unsophisticated to us now but there was a rich working class culture where people made the most of what little they had. His use of children at play in the dingy streets and older people at work and in the home perhaps illustrates this best.

A terrific film, uplifting and saddening, enlightening and depressing - I wonder how a filmaker in fifty years time would portray life in an inner city setting in the second decade of the 21st century?


84 Charing Cross Road [DVD] [2002]
84 Charing Cross Road [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Anne Bancroft
Price: £4.10

5.0 out of 5 stars 84 Charing Cross Road, 5 Dec. 2012
This is a little gem of a film - gentle, moving, amusing and sad and to use a well worn but truthful phrase in this case - they don't make films like this any more. I used to love regularly touring second hand bookshops in Charing Cross Road that looked very much like the one in this film before they demolished them or changed them into modern vast open plan book supermarkets that are cold, characterless and with no individuality so I mourn the passing of the string of lovely little bookshops that used to be in Charing Cross Road that sold old out of print books. There was something timeless, intimate and pleasurable about exploring through their nooks and crannies looking for out of print books that you couldn't buy anywhere else and the changes that have taken place in the last decade have destroyed all this.

Anne Bancroft plays an aspiring author in New York with a taste for obscure, out of print books on English literature who has a long range love affair with a bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road and the people who work there over a period of twenty years and Anthony Hopkins plays the main provider of her books and they are both great in their roles and the increasingly close relationship between Bancroft and the booksellers over two decades is a pleasure to watch and I delight in constantly revisiting the film that for me has an important personal element in that it is a glimpse of a world I greatly valued that is no more.


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