Profile for F. S. L'hoir > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by F. S. L'hoir
Top Reviewer Ranking: 499
Helpful Votes: 3048

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Sarah's Key [DVD]
Sarah's Key [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kristin Scott Thomas
Price: £6.80

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Acted Film!, 1 Dec 2011
This review is from: Sarah's Key [DVD] (DVD)
I cannot say that I 'enjoyed' "Sarah's Key", because the word 'enjoy' does not apply to this harrowing account of man's capacity for inhumanity.

Nevertheless, this exceptional film, which focuses on the horrific Vélodrome d'Hiver incident of 1942 Paris, is beautifully cast and beautifully acted. Kristin Scott Thomas turns in one of her most sensitive portrayals, and Mélusine Mayance, as the child Sarah, is simply phenomenal. The compelling performances of the children, in fact, render the story especially heart wrenching. Because of its stark realism in portraying one of WWII's innumerable horrific episodes (of which I had been previously unaware), in which Parisians were complicit in turning over their fellow-citizens to the Nazis, I found the film very difficult to watch.

I recommend the extensive bonus feature on the making of this largely French-language film. Far from being run-of-the-mill, it actually delves deeply into many aspects of modern filmmaking, including direction, special effects, stunts, makeup, rehearsals, lighting, and solving problems of location.

The DVD provides subtitles in English as well as English for the hearing-impaired.

Reviewed for Vine; Amazon.com


Page Eight [DVD]
Page Eight [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bill Nighy
Price: £5.00

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bill Nighy: the Lord of Laid Back, 8 Nov 2011
This review is from: Page Eight [DVD] (DVD)
I love anything with Bill Nighy in the cast. Suave and sophisticated, he is the master of the pithy understatement. In "Page Eight" he plays a jaded MI5 Officer, who is caught up in secret political skulduggery that could bring down the government, headed by Ralph Fiennes as the Prime Minister, who has been too chummy with his American Cousins in the war on terror. Coincidentally, Nighy also becomes involved in a political coverup of a war-crime, which has hit the family of his beautiful neighbour, convincingly portrayed by Rachel Weisz.

The cast, which is top drawer, includes Michael Gambon, who used to be Nighy's tutor at Cambridge and subsequently became his boss at MI5; Judy Davis, a rather nasty piece of goods, who is his colleague and nemesis in the security service; and a still lovely and charismatic Marthe Keller, cast in the role of an old love of Nighy and possibly a professional contact who is a source of ready cash.

Although I was totally absorbed in the story, which moves at a fast pace, the finished production contained some lapses in continuity. For instance, Nighy sensibly locks a plastic shopping bag containing £60,000 (notes with the Queen's face plainly showing through the translucent plastic) in the boot of his car, and then in the next scene, he pulls his car up to the verge of the road in the middle of the fens, opens up the boot--leaving it wide open--retrieves a dinner suit, and walks off toward the bushes--minus sack of money--apparently to change his clothes, because in the very next scene, it is night and he turns up at his old college dressed for a dinner at High Table in honour of the Prime Minister. In still another scene, we discover Nighy standing at a hotel reception desk; he is deep in conversation with Ms Weisz, and the plastic sack of money is sitting open on the counter, unattended. By the time he reaches the airport in the final scene, plastic sack of money in hand, I kept wondering how he was going to get it through security (which, from my own experience, is fierce at airports in the UK!). The point is that the director seems to have forgotten that the plastic sack contained a fortune in pound notes; nor does it seem to have occurred to him that, as far as the collective memory of the audience is concerned, the prop might consequently become a maddening distraction from the plot.

Nevertheless, the stellar cast kept the film on track, but I do think that a strong dose of continuity control ought to have been exercised in the editing of this otherwise riveting film.


Margaret [DVD]
Margaret [DVD]
Dvd ~ Roger Allam
Price: £7.08

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd Give this Film Seven Stars If I Could!, 2 Nov 2011
This review is from: Margaret [DVD] (DVD)
"Margaret" is like the final act of a Greek tragedy. The film excels because of the astounding performance of Lindsay Duncan, who endows Margaret Thatcher with a very human dimension.

Yes, she is iron willed at the Despatch Boxes in the House of Commons, giving no quarter to her opponents. But we also see her with her hair down, as it were, confiding her doubts to her dresser Crawfie; sharing her worries with her husband Denis. We see her at her most vulnerable, as she is toppled from the pinnacle of power, falling victim to the underhanded political manoeuvrings among her own cabinet, including Michael Haseltine, who wields the political dagger for his own benefit, and John Major, who with dedicated passivity, opportunely reaps the reward of the Party leadership.

The film is by no means heavy handed; the writers have added just the right amount of humour, as when, in a flashback, Margaret takes speech lessons before a general election, learning, with some difficulty, to modulate her voice so that she will sound like an average member of the electorate. According to the film's scenario, one of Margaret's most annoying characteristics, as far as her male cabinet was concerned, was that she tended to lecture her ministers like a Head Girl or a School Mistress.

Lindsay Duncan's portrayal is three-dimensional; she reserves her 'Margaret voice' for speeches in the House of Commons. Ably assisted by an outstanding ensemble cast, including a cameo performance by Rosemary Leach who plays Queen Elizabeth, Duncan portrays the dedicated Prime Minsister as being both robust in her determination and steadfast in her political ideals. Her initial strength of character renders her near breakdown at the end all the more moving.

Her portrayal, in fact, achieves the status of tragedy, when she unsuccessfully attempts to hold back the tears as she reads her letter of resignation to her perfidious cabinet, who dare not look her into the eye. As Margaret composes herself, and looks around the table at every member of the cabinet, she comes into her own, achieving an ironic dignity as she thanks them all for their continued support.


The Falklands Play [DVD]
The Falklands Play [DVD]
Dvd ~ Patricia Hodge
Offered by rebeccathackray
Price: £29.95

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Margaret Takes Charge, 2 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Falklands Play [DVD] (DVD)
Patricia Hodge is formidable in her role as Margaret Thatcher. She portrays the confidence of a woman in utter control, who deftly manages the escalating crisis as Argentina becomes ever more belligerent in its attempts to claim the Falkland Islands, which had been a British dependent territory since 1832. We see Margaret Thatcher at what was arguably the pinnacle of her career, undertaking complex and risky negotiations, finally sanctioning the war as a last resort. Well aware of the consequences, she is, at the same time, stricken by the loss of life, when the casualty lists come in.

Ably supported by an outstanding ensemble cast, Patricia Hodge, a consummate actress, turns in a powerful performance. She makes no attempt to imitate any of Mrs Thatcher's characteristic speech patterns, and perhaps because she is playing for truth of character, rather than imitation, she convinces us absolutely in her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher's statesmanship; her exercise of diplomacy; her frustration over Argentine intransigence and Washington's attempts to straddle the diplomatic fence; her anger over the plight of the Falkland Islanders; her profound sorrow at the deaths of the troops that she has sent to war; and her sincerity in personally writing letters of condolence to each of the families of the fallen.

Even though we know the outcome of the Falklands War, this film is compelling in its suspense as the negotiations unfold.

Highly recommended.


Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk To Finchley [DVD]
Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk To Finchley [DVD]
Dvd ~ Samuel West
Offered by Discountdiscs-UK : Dispatched daily from the UK.
Price: £8.71

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maggie's Metamorphosis: One Foot in the Door, 2 Nov 2011
"The Long Walk to Finchley" gives us a light-hearted take on young Margaret Roberts' determination to stand for a seat in the House of Commons. On the whole I enjoyed the film. Andrea Riseborough acts the part with panache, and she nails that unforgettable voice to such an extent that her portrayal sometimes slips into parody.

And, it seems that parody is what the writers may have had in mind, as the flippant musical score lets us know. Sometimes, in fact, I was under the impression that the story of the Tory politician had been scripted by spin doctors for the Labour Party, because Maggie comes off as a bit of a tartar, not to say a budding banshee, who uses any means--including seizing the opportunity to marry wealthy Denis Thatcher, inveigling him to put her through law school, so that she will become more politically viable in the selection process. The arrival of their twin children is presented as an annoying speed bump on Maggie's road to political power. She even resorts to [gasp!] bleaching her hair, crossing her shapely legs at [tsk-tsk!] Tory Party Headquarters, and batting her eyelashes at [horrors!] Ted Heath, after engaging him in a hot fox trot in which she assures him--in a retrospective overdose of political irony--that she will allow him to lead.

The element of parody also emerges in the portrayals of Samuel West and Geoffrey Palmer. West plays Ted Heath as a Public School twit who would not be out of place snoozing next to Bertie Wooster at the Drones Club. And Palmer, as the Finchley incumbent who is standing down at the next election, huffs and puffs, as he plumbs the lowest depths of political sleaze to prevent 'that harpy' from succeeding him.

Although I could not help laughing at the film's humour, I would have preferred that the writers and director had played it straight, since the scenario deals with valid issues, such as the difficulty--no, the near impossibility--of a woman in the 1950s being taken seriously as a politician, having to fight prejudice and Party tricks from the Old Boys' Club, as well as having to field continual questions as to how she could possibly sit in the House of Commons, when she ought to be on her feet in the house of Thatcher, taking care of her husband and her children. Even though the situation has improved for women in politics in the twenty-first century, the battle to be taken seriously continues (as recent debates in the House suggest).

I have never, by any stretch of the imagination, been an admirer of Mrs Thatcher or her policies, but I quite resented the film's snide implications, in the guise of comedy, that she was inherently an unprincipled conniver as well as a domineering wife and an indifferent parent. Despite its polished veneer of Parliamentary politesse, politics is a cutthroat game. One can hardly blame Margaret Thatcher if she had to claw her way into the front door of Westminster Palace. Whether one approves of her or not, one must grant her respect, not only for winning the Party Leadership, but also for serving the nation for eleven years as Prime Minister. The 148 women sitting in the Commons today, on either side of the House, certainly owe her a great debt of gratitude. I simply wish that the filmmakers had given the topic the serious treatment that it deserves.

Three-and-one-half stars.


The Rise and Fall of Margaret Thatcher - The Collection [DVD] [2008]
The Rise and Fall of Margaret Thatcher - The Collection [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Andrea Riseborough
Price: £9.37

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different Perspectives of The Iron Lady, 31 Oct 2011
[Please see the comments section below, in which a disappointed viewer informed me of the lack of "The Falklands Play" on this set. It seems that the BBC has made two versions (both in black boxes of similar design and appearance) with the same title, "The Rise and Fall of Margaret Thatcher," one version with only two of the films, and the other with all three. I posted on the wrong one. My chagrinned apologies. My reviews of the two plays are nevertheless pertinent, and I shall leave my comments on "The Falklands Play" in place by way of comparison.]

Two very different perspectives on the extraordinary political life of Margaret Thatcher: the first depicts her persistence in breaking the glass ceiling of the male-dominated Tory party; and the last, her political assassination at the hands of her perfidious cabinet. Since both of these portrayals differs from the other, I shall discuss each film individually.

*** "The Long Walk to Finchley" gives us a light-hearted take on young Margaret Roberts' determination to stand for a seat in the House of Commons. On the whole I enjoyed the film. Andrea Riseborough plays the part with panache, and she nails that unforgettable voice to such an extent that her portrayal sometimes slips into parody. And, it seems that parody is what the writers may have had in mind. Sometimes, in fact, it seemed as if the story of the Tory politician had been scripted by the members of the Labour Party, because Maggie comes off as a bit of a tartar, not to say a banshee, who uses any means--including marrying wealthy Denis Thatcher in order that she be selected as a candidate (The arrival of their twin children seems like an inconvenience in this scenario). Samuel West as Ted Heath emerges as a Public School twit who would not be out of place at the Drones Club; and with his well-bred sneer, Geoffrey Palmer, as the incumbent who is standing down at the next election, huffs and puffs as he sinks to any depths to prevent 'that harpy' from succeeding him.

I would have preferred that the writers and director had played it straight, since the scenario deals with valid issues, such as the difficulty--no, the near impossibility--of a woman in the 1950s being taken seriously as a politician, having to fight prejudice and sleazy tricks from the Old Boys' Club, as well as having to field continual questions as to how she could possibly sit in the House of Commons, when she ought to be standing in the house of Thatcher, taking care of her husband and her children. I have never been a supporter of Mrs Thatcher or her policies, but I quite resented the rather snide implications, in the guise of comedy, that she was inherently an unprincipled conniver as well as a bad parent.

***** "The Falklands Play" [on the NTSC VERSION ONLY!!!] is a very different cup of tea. Patricia Hodge is formidable in her role, as a woman in charge and in utter control, managing the crisis of Argentina's attempt to claim the Falkland islands (which Britain had settled in 1832). We see Margaret Thatcher at the pinnacle of her career, dealing with an incipient war--well aware of the consequences, and, at the same time, stricken by the loss of life, when the casualty lists come in.

Hodge, a consummate actress, does not emulate any of Thatcher's characteristic speech patterns, but nevertheless her portrayal convinces us of Margaret Thatcher's statesmanship in her use of diplomacy, in her anger on behalf of the British islanders, and her sincerity in writing personal letters of condolence to the families of every service man killed in action. Even though we know the outcome of the Falklands War, the film is compelling in its suspense as the negotiations unfold. [The only picky point for me--which no one else will care about--is that the set of the House of Commons had only four rows of seats instead of five, and the leather seats were too dark a shade of green!]

***** (I'd give this seven stars, if I could!) "Margaret" is like the final act of a Greek tragedy; the film excels because of the astounding performance of Lindsay Duncan, whose portrayal endows Margaret Thatcher with a very human dimension. We also get a more realistic and sympathetic view of her family life. Yes, she is iron willed at the Dispatch Boxes in the House, but we see her at her most vulnerable, as she is toppled from the pinnacle of power, falling victim to the behind-the-scenes manoeuvres for supremacy among members of her own cabinet, including Michael Heseltine, who wields the political dagger for his own benefit, and John Major who passively reaps the reward of the Party Leadership, becoming her successor as Prime Minister at the next general election.

Lindsay Duncan, whose portrayal is three-dimensional, reserves her 'Margaret voice' for speeches in the House of Commons; there is, in fact, quite an amusing scene in a flashback, when she is training with a speech therapist or acting coach, before a general election, to modulate her voice so that she sounds like an ordinary member of the electorate (Apparently one of the problems with her male cabinet was that she tended to lecture them like a school mistress.). Duncan's initial portrayal of the dedicated Prime Minister as both steadfast and robust, renders her unsuccessful attempt at holding back tears as she reads her letter of resignation to her cabinet--who dare not look her in the eye--all the more moving. As Margaret pulls herself together and looks around the cabinet table for the last time, she comes into her own, achieving an ironic dignity as she thanks all her ministers for their continued support.

This is an excellent set of films for anyone who is addicted to British Politics.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 15, 2011 11:14 PM GMT


A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy [DVD]
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy [DVD]
Dvd ~ Woody Allen
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £5.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Moon Methinks Looks with a Watery Eye . . . Lamenting Some Enforced Chastity", 14 Oct 2011
"MSNSC" is my one of my favourite Woody Allen films. I enjoy watching it every year. Its genuinely witty dialogue is delivered by one of Allen's best ensemble casts: Jose Ferrer as the stuffy Academic Philosopher, who refuses to believe in magic; Mia Farrow as his intended, Ariel, whose etherial appearance belies her salty past; Tony Roberts, as the perennial best friend, Maxwell, a doctor who specialises in philandering; Julie Hagerty, as his wide-eyed but willing nurse, Dulcie, who is extremely well-read in the Katzenjammer Kids; Mary Steenbergen, as Allen's repressed wife, Adrian, who conceals a secret; and Allen who takes his neurotic city-schlub character a charming step further in his role as Andrew, an inventor of wildly impractical wonder machines.

Allen's setting of the film in the early 20th century allows viewers to suspend their collective disbelief. The guests, who arrive for their country weekend in jaunty roadsters, are clad in head-to-toe dusters; the women with their long wasp-waisted skirts and lacy blouses look as if they have stepped out of a Gibson Girl calendar. Adrian's repression, in fact, is emphasised by her tightly-strung corset, and the trouble in her marriage to Andrew is made evident by the camera's focus not on husband and wife but on their mirrored image on the wall of their empty bedroom, with its striped wallpaper and old-fashioned framed sentimental prints of blissful couples.

Andrew and Adrian's white wooden Victorian gingerbread house is set in a New York meadow surrounded by lush woodlands in which the light dances as it filters through the leaves, constantly altering our perspective. Andrew and his guests participate in badminton and archery contests; the Professor discovers that there is more to Dulcie than meets the eye over a leisurely game of chess; Adrian learns (surreptitiously) that there has been far more to Andrew's life than met her eye from Ariel, as the two women rock back and forth on a white face-to-face garden swing. The Professor entertains the company with one-too-many Schubert lieder, accompanied by Adrian on an old rosewood upright piano, illuminated by the glimmering light of glass-chimneyed oil lamps. A soft-focused ambience of nostalgia--like peering into a stereoscope or at an old picture album--seduces the viewer into accepting the delightful absurdities of the scenario.

Allen uses Shakespeare's comedy as a point of departure. For example, the Shakespearean quotation, with which I have entitled my review, could well represent the state of Andrew and Adrian's marriage, which has been reduced to one of enforced chastity. As in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "MSNSC" begins with an impending wedding, that of the elderly pontificating Professor and Ariel. Like Shakespeare's comedy, Allen's pastiche focuses on benighted lovers chasing each other to no avail through the woods, and just as Shakespeare's enchanted woodlands held room for low comedy with lots of belly laughs, so do Allen's. One could even envision Andrew with his preposterous flying machines and spirit lantern as a wacky Oberon (or, since he has borrowed Ariel's name from "The Tempest," an equally wacky Prospero). By combining the elements of Shakespeare's comedy--the rushing brook, the creatures of the forest, the shadows, the moon slipping in and out of wispy clouds (all captured by splendid cinematography)--with Mendelssohn's magnificent music, not only "A Midsummer Night's Dream" but also his sublime violin and piano concertos, Allen has conjured up cinematic magic that keeps the viewer suspended between laughter at the antics of his mortal fools and tears at his spirits and shadows, which, by no means, offend.


The Odyssey (Oxford World's Classics)
The Odyssey (Oxford World's Classics)
by Homer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkably Accessible Translation of Homer's Odyssey, 9 Oct 2011
I have adopted Walter Shewring's splendid translation of "The Odyssey" many times in my undergraduate classes on Greek Civilisation and Women in Antiquity. Because Professor Shewring has rendered the epic into prose, it is especially accessible for students who may be unaccustomed to reading lengthy assignments of poetry, no matter how beautifully rendered, as is the Lattimore translation. Shewring's version, moreover, retains the excitement of the narrative as well as the poetic sense of the original, without dumbing down the language, as do some of the current ghastly Shakespeare-made-easy books (I name no names here).

One of the best aspects of this translation is Professor Shewring's use of Homer's recurrent themes and epithets. These not only demonstrate the oral tradition behind the epic, which was written down sometime in the seventh century BC, but they also illustrate ongoing Greek attitudes towards women, attitudes that changed little, as far as literary portrayals are concerned, from the Bronze age through Homer's Archaic era and the 5th-century BC Classical period until post-Alexandrian Greece of the 4th-century BC (Of the many inspired--and readable--scholarly books on Homer's women, I recommend Nancy Felson Rubin's "Regarding Penelope" for further study).

Students enjoy tracing the identifiable recurrent attributes in the portrayals of Homer's women, for instance, who entrap Odysseus, keeping him from his masculine pursuit of adventure for adventure's sake, and making him forget his homeland (an unforgivable lapse in ancient Greek and Roman thought): the nymph Calypso, and the enchantress, Circe. Both women, in this edition, are portrayed as having long braided hair (symbolic of entrapment in the ancient world), beautiful singing voices (used to enchant); Circe even has the powers of human speech, which Homer designates as unprecedented and bizarre in a woman; both Calypso and Circe move to and fro with golden shuttles before great looms (Like long braided hair, weaving represents entrapment, and the fact that they move to-and-fro with their shuttle/wands demonstrates their power; Professor Rubin has noted that even Faithful Penelope uses her loom as an instrument of trickery.). Finally, both Calypso and Circe are presented as "potniae theron", the powerful mistresses of beasts, women who, using magic potions, transform their lovers into both figurative [Calypso] and literal [Circe] pigs. Professor Shewring's rendition of "the nymph Calypso, a goddess of strange power and beauty" [who] "had kept [Odysseus] captive within her arching caverns" is especially evocative, and the latent sexuality of such Homeric passages has not been lost in translation.

This Oxford World Classics edition provides an enlightening Introduction by G.S. Kirk, which discusses the historical background of the epic, the "Homeric Question," whether the epic was written down by one author or many; or whether it harks back to bards of the bronze age (It is thought that the epithets, such as Queenly Calypso and Dawn of the Rosy Fingers, were intended to keep the "unlettered bard" on track during the long epic, which was originally sung and passed down through the generations until it was set in concrete, as it were, when the poem was committed to writing.). The Introduction, furthermore, discusses the geography of the Odyssey, and some of the differences in style between "The Odyssey" and "The Iliad".

One of the best features of this edition is the thorough Index and Glossary of Names, which not only identifies each character but also gives the page numbers where each character is to be found. As a practical issue, this feature alone makes the book especially suitable for written assignments on character analysis [The lack of an index--yes, I mean you, Penguin, in your various Plutarch's 'Lives'!--renders any book an exercise in frustration, as far as the classroom is concerned!]. The specific naming of chapters (e.g., "Odysseus Among the Ghosts") also makes the book 'student friendly.'

Oxford World Classics is to be congratulated by keeping Professor Shewring's splendid translation of Homer's "The Odyssey" in print. I could not recommend it more highly.


Lewis - Series 5 [DVD]
Lewis - Series 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kevin Whately
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £14.96

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder Top Drawer!, 27 Sep 2011
This review is from: Lewis - Series 5 [DVD] (DVD)
This series gets better and better with its complex mysteries, its spectacular settings, its superb musical score, and its outstanding cast, both the continuing characters and the supporting players, which, in each episode, present us some of the luminaries of London theatre as well as film and television (This set includes Juliet Stevenson, Sian Phillips, Ronald Pickup, and Anna Chancellor).

The mysteries may be formulaic, but what a formula! They are elegant old-fashioned 'who-done-it?' puzzles that are nevertheless convoluted enough to keep us guessing, as we follow Robbie Lewis and James Hathaway gladly through the lanes of Oxford (and the camera focuses, for our benefit, on a carved gargoyle or gives us a closeup of one of the colleges' many gothic spires) to the gloriously picturesque scene of yet another ghastly crime in the hallowed university city where the bodies seem to pile up like cordwood.

An essential ingredient of the formula is the ensemble cast of continuing characters: Kevin Whately as Inspector Lewis, Laurence Fox as Sergeant Hathaway, Claire Holman as Dr Laura Hobson, and Rebecca Front as Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent (What an ironic choice of a surname for a hardbitten Chief Superintendent of Police!). Their interaction--their humorous exchanges, their misunderstandings and tensions, as well as their mutual respect as professionals--represents the 'sand' that the brilliant writers have thrown into our eyes to distract us from solving the mystery until the last 'aha!' [or 'oh no!'] moment. In fact, Lewis, Hathaway, Hobson, and Innocent interact so beautifully that one can easily believe that they have become longtime colleagues, about whom we, the viewers, have come to care, as we would care about old friends.

I find myself laughing with Lewis and Hathaway at their little running jokes; hoping for the best as the romance between Robbie and Laura threatens to blossom; sympathising with both Lewis and Innocent, for different reasons, as each tries the other's patience; and even shedding a tear or two at some of the poignant moments that occur from time to time in the exchanges between Lewis and Hathaway.

I attribute my feelings of empathy to the remarkable abilities of Whately, Fox, Holman, and Front. Considering that the majority of the characters' dialogue is devoted to the questioning of sundry suspects [Lewis and Hathaway]; the enumeration of gruesome details about the current corpse [Hobson]; or barking at her wayward detectives because of pressures from swingeing budget cuts, one-or-another Whitehall Mandarin, or the dreaded Chief Constable [Innocent], we are actually glimpsing only fragments of their 'lives'--fragments that have progressed gradually from episode to episode, providing the bread, as it were, for dozens of delicious murder sandwiches (slathered with dollops of ketchup).

To appreciate the subtlety of these performances fully, one must watch "Inspector Lewis" consecutively from the first episode. And the Inspector Lewis mysteries are so rich and complex that one can enjoy them again and again (the Public Broadcasting Service has thoughtfully provided closed captioning so that we NTSC viewers won't miss a word of Lewis's gruff Geordie, or Hathaway's silken Cambridge, accents).

I'm sending out three hearty cheers: to ITV, for continuing this outstanding series; to PBS for sending us Region 1 viewers the original uncut UK edition, and to Amazon.com for bringing it to us at such a reasonable price.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 1, 2011 1:03 PM BST


Bidú Sayao - Arias and Songs
Bidú Sayao - Arias and Songs
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £36.33

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incomparable!, 19 Sep 2011
I was so delighted to discover (belatedly) this Sony digitally remastered CD of Bidú Sayão singing so many of the arias that I used to love--and then lost when the LP record went the way of the dodo. The sound on this CD, which includes arias from Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette" and "Faust" and chansons of the French répertoire as well as folksongs of Brazil, is full and clear.

For me, the highlights of this recording are the cantilena, "Bacchiana Brasiliera #5", and the arias from Massenet's "Manon," especially Mme Sayão's poignant, "Adieu, Notre Petite Table" from Act 2 of the opera. Her interpretation conveys Manon's momentary self-delusional sincerity, just before she abandons her first love, the aristocratic but impoverished Chevalier des Grieux, for the glittering and lucrative excitement of the Parisian demimonde.

Mme Sayão's interpretation of the former aria, which Villa-Lobos arranged especially for her, is both effortless and sublime--imagine humming in a high pitch, which ends in a rising octave interval, while still maintaining vocal purity. My fondness for the latter derives from seeing her, when I was a schoolgirl, as Manon in an unforgettable scintillating performance (with Giuseppe di Stefano as Des Grieux and Ezio Pinza as his father--what a cast!). When she sings "Profitons bien de la jeunesse . . . nous n'aurons pas toujours vignt ans!," ("Let's enjoy our youth . . . we shan't always be twenty."), I can still envision her in her shimmering white paniered gown with its rose satin bodice and overskirt, as I travel back in my mind to that night in the darkened Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium, when I fell in love with the opera and its principal singers. The true meaning of those words has come only with the hindsight of Time, as has the realisation of how privileged I was to be experiencing what was, essentially, once-in-a-lifetime theatrical magic.

I hope that Sony's retrospect on the splendid career of Bidú Sayão brings you as much continued enjoyment as it does me.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20