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Denis Joe "Denis Joe" (Liverpool, Britain)

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Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters (Library of America)
Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters (Library of America)
by Elizabeth Bishop
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.60

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to love, 29 Dec 2009
This is an outstanding collection that is intelligently put together. I didn't get this so much for the stories (they are good, but that is about all I can say). the non-fiction is interesting as are some of the letters. It is the poetry that is the thing. There is a greater selection than Complete Poems and it is well worth the extra view quid. For me, Bishop is not my favorite poet but I regard her as the greatest 20th century poet. Her discipline as an artisan jumps out from every word, her heartfelt constructions, even when doing something as demanding as a sestina, pour our and drown the reader in their beauty. If you are not familiar with Bishop then it is the poem `The Moose' that one should turn to and experience again and again until it is recognized for what it is: the most perfect poem of the last century.

This is a book to love and that needs a word on the quality of the book itself. It is not any old print on some recycled garbage. Even the book is shown loving care. the Library Of America produces some outstanding collection and is one of the best book publishers I have come across. these are books made with one eye on eternity.

Viridiana [1961] [DVD]
Viridiana [1961] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Silvia Pinal
Price: £5.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding masterpiece, 27 Dec 2009
This review is from: Viridiana [1961] [DVD] (DVD)
The blurb on the DVD box and the Amazon blurb, do not do this film much credit. It is an outstanding film that reminds me a bit of Weill/Brecht the Thruppenny Opera. The acting is outstanding and has some the to Tristana (the same novelist wrote both) Along with Exterminating Angels this has got to be one of the greatest early films of Brunel.

Never A Dull Moment
Never A Dull Moment
Price: £5.64

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There was a time. . . . . . . . ., 24 Dec 2009
This review is from: Never A Dull Moment (Audio CD)
When you are young it is the little things that seem so important and pop music plays such a large role in your life because it provides the soundtrack to your love life, your philosophy and your whole lifestyle.

For many working class youth who wanted a break from dancing but couldn't be arsed with the po-faced head-wanking of the likes of Pink Floyd and ELP, Rod the Mod provided us with everything we could wish for: He wasn't particularly good-looking but he managed to bed all the best looking women. He sometimes sang about a life that was beyond us, but one that we could wish for:

Daddy says he'll buy me car
to drive just as far as I need
He wants me back at any expense
He's got a lot more money than sense
(True Blue)

His singing range was well within the grasp of any of us who could hold a tune and he was a bloke that many hetro young males could actually be in love with without being accused of being gay.

Rod seemed to sum up life for us: Football (when it actually meant something and was not something for middle-class kidults to read about in the Guardian and force themselves to watch boring friendlies on Skysports), girls and money (or lack of). He was one of us: a kid; though his voice sounded as if it knew so much of life.

Rod was one of those who wrote simple lyrics that sounded more profound than they actually were:

She was tall, thin and tarty
and she drove a Maserati
faster than sound
I was heaven bound

(Italian Girls)

He could make other people's songs his own, think Angle. Each Faces period album had a song by Sam Cooke and Bob Dylan and like most Dylan songs they sounded much better when sung by someone else. The version of Mama, you've been on my mind on this album is a perfect example and is the first time I realised that Dylan was capable of writing really beautiful songs. As for Angel, well for any of us who were aware of the Hippy crap, Hendrix might as well have been doing a bad job of a Rod Stewart song. Lines like "silver wings silhouetted against a charred sunrise" lost all their PO-etry pretentiousness and were brought down to Earth as if this was the sort of thing that you said to your loved-one every day.

You Wear It Well is one of the few tracks that still sends a shiver down my back. The lines:

Remember them basement parties, your brother's karate
the all day rock and roll shows
Them homesick blues and radical views
haven't left a mark on you,

may not mean anything to young people today but it said to us that Rod was well in tune with the things that concerned us.

It is quite common to think of working class youth (particularly males) at that time as bigoted scumbags, yet we thought nothing of the obvious homosexuality of Ziggy Stardust or Alladin Sane and were defiant enough to plaster our faces with our girlfriend's make-up (a decade before the narcissistic, poncey, New Romantics)and likewise we saw nothing strange in Rod Stewart - this epitome of working class laddish lifestyle - proclaiming his predilection for cross-dressing in the line "and I'll wear it well".

It is always easy to slag off other people's tastes and passions for pop music because pop, by its very nature, relies on appealing to a certain sentiment and, as such, is very subjective. Although many critics think that pop can be treated in the same way as classical music, and will go on and on about the competence (or lack of) of some guitarist or the production of some album, at the end of the day it is completely meaningless. Pop music just isn't that important (and by `Pop music' I include all those prog rockers and politicos) its value lies in the moment and the fact that an old bastard like me can spend an hour or so writing a review of a pop album says more about me than it does the album. I do think that the state of youth music today is awful, but not for the reason that my father found Rod Stewart awful. For him my tastes in pop were offensive to his aesthetics. Today's pop music sounds stale, and much of it is just a rehash of stuff I was listening to in the early 70s.

At the end of the day I can only say that Never A Dull Moment is one of the few albums that produces a feeling of nostalgia in me. It is everything that student bands like Oasis tried, and failed, to be. And although Oasis were more commercially successful than Rod Stewart (at the time) you just couldn't get past the fact that it was all pretence.

But isn't all pop music pretence?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2013 8:09 PM BST

Kind Hearts And Coronets [DVD]
Kind Hearts And Coronets [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dennis Price
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £14.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zeitgeist, 24 Dec 2009
Art is sometimes a barometer of the time of its creation. This film can be seen as such. having governed Britain through `its darkest hour' the Churchill government were rejected by the post-war electorate who viewed Attlee's Labour party as promising support for the people `from cradle to grave'. The Tories still represented the old Britain of deference and Royal patronage, Labour came in on a promise of a new world. it was during this brief period that Kind Hearts And Coronets was released.

The title comes from the poem `Lady Clara Vere de Vere' by Tennyson (`Kind hearts are more than coronets,/ And simple faith than Norman blood.') which was rather ironic as Tennyson was the longest serving poet laureate who could count queen Victoria amongst his ardent admirers.

`Kind Hearts And Coronets' is no tribute to the monarchy or royal peerage. Louis (outstandingly played by Dennis Price) is aware that he can only inherit what he sees as rightfully his through murder and it is the acceptance of this that gives the film its comedy.

The figure of Louise is very much like that of Dianne Spencer. Both were opportunists who had some support amongst ordinary people for their perceived rebelliousness against the monarchy. But in the end both figures were avid supporters of the monarchial principles.

That said, there is a rebelliousness within `Kind Hearts And Coronets' that must have appealed to a war-weary population who may well have felt that the suffering they had undergone was too high a price to maintain a system of hereditary privilege.

Many of the Ealing films caught the feeling of the time `Passport To Pimlico' springs to mind, but nothing compared to this.

Ealing films are sadly dismissed as quaint but they were made in a time of massive social and philosophical upheaval in Britain. There is an outstanding scene when `The general' opens a jar of caviar saying that the `Ruskies' did produce some good things, before he puts his knife into the jar and it blows up. it may mean little to a younger generation but after the war the Communist Party of Great Britain was at its strongest (electorially) and the people of the Soviet union had a great deal of sympathy.

Many of Ealing films capture a feeling of class defiance which later gave way to the Angry Young Men and their nihilist view of the working class (eg: `Saturday Night, Sunday Morning'; `Billy Liar'; etc.). Perhaps `Kind Hearts And Coronets' is one of the most perfect film in capturing zeitgeist. Added to the fact that it is beautifully acted by all concerned and an outstanding direction from the great Robert Hamer.

Also [[ASIN:B000I0QSRQ The Definitive Ealing Studios Collection - Volume 3 [DVD]g Studios Collection - Volume 1 [DVD]]]The Definitive Ealing Studios Collection - Volume 2 [DVD] and The Definitive Ealing Studios Collection Volume 4 [DVD]
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 8, 2011 1:48 AM BST

Johnny Got His Gun [1971] [DVD]
Johnny Got His Gun [1971] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Timothy Bottoms

0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There are many great war films. This isn't one of them!, 24 Dec 2009
The movie is dated so some of the things that I found irritating about this film may have had a different impact.

The music (especially the very unimaginative snare drum) was annoying and felt as though it belonged to a different film. The dialogue was very annoying and I think the film could have done without the 'what is she doing now?' commentary. It might work on paper but it is very intrusive on film.

Trumbo picks a very conventional subject as if he was scared to openly criticise US foreign policy at the time.

The first world war is interesting in what it actually means as a metaphor: I feel that the War poets, like Sassoon and Owen were questioning modernity more than they were criticising war and I think Trumbo is doing the same thing here. The actual distance (time-wise) suggests that he was shirking his duty if he saw that as commenting on war, by avoiding the contemporary.

The approach to film making that Trumbo uses is novel but falls flat a lot of the time, meaning that it really doesn't stand up as a classic.

Oddly enough the approach also makes the film that more distant (reality-wise) from the topic.

I don't know! I guess I could recommend this as an example of interesting film-making gone wrong. Some of it is quite (unintentionally) comical especially the acting.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 13, 2013 11:29 PM BST

The Barbarian Invasions [2003] [DVD] [2004]
The Barbarian Invasions [2003] [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Remy Girard
Price: £4.80

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disappointment, 22 Dec 2009
I'm not sure why this film is so acclaimed. The storyline is pretty mundane and the script is full of pretentious referencing.

I enjoyed watching the film but when it comes to family get-togethers it is hard to beat Festen: 10th Year Anniversary Edition [DVD] [1998].

This just left me feeling bemused at all the fuss.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated [DVD]
This Film Is Not Yet Rated [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kirkby Dick
Price: £16.80

3 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Another Pointless Documentary, 18 Dec 2009
If you like Michael Moore then perhaps this is your type of documentary. Like Moore, Dick is annoyed at something that is really of no importance. That the MPPA is a secretive organization, who has a massive impact on society is not a good thing for a democracy and especially one that has such a powerful constitution. However although the real issue of importance: censorship; is touched upon it is not central to this documentary's aim.

The viewer is treated to the usual `too much violence' argument as if violence is not an aspect of human life. Trotted out are the pointless minority spokespersons such as Kimberley Piers who complain of discrimination against lesbians by the treatment of her (very good film) `Boys Don't Cry' and the usually feminist `they don't like seeing women getting pleasure' whine, which had some validity when James Joyce and D H Lawrence works where being banned, but in this day-and-age of inclusiveness, it just doesn't stand up.

This documentary never keeps its focus but that shouldn't surprise us when the starting point of the secretiveness of the MPAA is a given thing and hunting down individual members is just boring even if the film was only 10 minutes long (which would have been justifiable).

The issue of censorship is one of the most important issues facing democracies. It says so much about how government see their citizens as children in need of protection. Censorship should be the issue when dealing with bodies such as the MPAA; their secretiveness is a secondary issue.

The avoidance of tackling the censorship issue suggests that Dick is a coward who is no different from governments who do not trust the population to decide right and wrong for themselves.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2014 2:20 PM BST

H.G. Clouzot Boxset [DVD]
H.G. Clouzot Boxset [DVD]
Dvd ~ Yves Montand

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars French Cinema At Its Very Best, 8 Dec 2009
This review is from: H.G. Clouzot Boxset [DVD] (DVD)
This is an outstanding box set with some of the best in French (or any) cinema. Clouzot was one of the giants of film and if only for these films alone. Along with Les Diaboliques [1954] [DVD]they show an artist who was prepared to go to the very depths in order to explore the extremes of human kind.

Clouzot did not present a comfortable personality. Unlike, say, Jean Renoir, he was an opportunist, even prepared to work with the Nazi/French Continental Films. But having made Le Corbeau for the company his films were banned. Even after the War Clouzot had difficulty finding work as his collaborative past was held against him. Fortunately two of his post war works are represented here: Quai Des Orfevres and Wages Of Fear. It is hardly surprising that Le Corbeau was banned. The story concerning an anonymous letter writer who stirs up a rural village to heights of extreme paranoia may well have reflected the reality of Nazi occupied France.

It is a shame that Clouzot is compared to Hitchcock because nothing in this collection suggests that. The nearest comparison I can think of is Fritz Lang, especially with Le Corbeau.

Quai Des Orfevres may seem like a run-of-the-mill detective Noir film, but Inspector Antoine seems as if he would have been right at home working for the Vichy. The story pulls no punches and there is hardly a likable character in the film in a film that openly deals with the sordidness of post-war France.

Wages Of Fear is, perhaps, Clouzot's most famous film and is one of the greatest films of all time. The story seems mundane: when they are on the skids people will risk anything in order to survive. But the film is one exciting critique of the wage system, worthy of the pen of B. Travern.

The relevance of these films still holds today. Even though they deal with lives at the very extreme of society, Clouzot never stoops to the misanthropy of say Camus or that which is sadly passed of as conventional philosophy these days. Clouzot showed the humanity that exists even when people are at their most desperate.

There are not many of Clouzot's films available on DVD but this set and Les Diabolique may be all you need.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2012 8:42 PM BST

Prokofiev: Eugene Onegin
Prokofiev: Eugene Onegin
Price: £30.84

3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A poor compositition, 1 Sep 2009
This is not a recording that many Prokofiev lovers will want. It reminds me of Peter and the Wolf. Whereas that was a short piece and for children Eugene Onegin is long and dragged out.

The thespian recounting of Pushkin's great work is irritating and the translation is immature making it sound like third-rate Shakespeare.

There is a lot said in the sleeve notes about distancing Prokofiev from Tchaikovsky, but the music is as lush as that composed by the elder composer and I always felt that was haunted by the spectre of Tchaikovsky. That is notable in the ballet Romeo and Juliette but also in this piece.

There is nothing special about this recording and Downes and Sinfonia 21 can not do any more than they have to bring this music above the ordinary.

If you must have this then better to get the incidental music of this recording Prokofiev: Eugene Onegin.

Sátántangó [1994] [DVD]
Sátántangó [1994] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Berling
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £12.15

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humanity in seven Hours, 30 Aug 2009
This review is from: Sátántangó [1994] [DVD] (DVD)
I think that David's title sums up my feeling about this film. It is one to watch over and over. The length of it may appear daunting, but by the end of it I felt that it was not long enough.

The plot is simple enough: group of people on a run-down collective get swindled out of their livlihood. But it is the drama and the intricacies of the lives that make this fil so watchable.

Bela Tarr creates some of the most memorble scenes, not least the long tracking shots.

The comparison with Tarkovsky is lazy thinking. Tarr is an unique film maker (as was Tarkovsky). There is nothing quite like Satantango in any field of the arts (just as there is nothing like any Tarkovsky film) and much the same can be said of his other films that and especially those on the three DVD set The Bela Tarr Collection [DVD] which is a must for any serios film buff.

This is an outstanding achievement and a testimony to the genius of Bela tarr.

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