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Denis Joe "Denis Joe" (Liverpool, Britain)

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Being Cultured: In Defence of Discrimination (Societas)
Being Cultured: In Defence of Discrimination (Societas)
by Angus E Kennedy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Importance of Discrimination, 27 April 2014
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Today it seems as if it is nigh on impossible to criticise without inviting condemnation. The domination of relativism that accompanies the multicultural doctrine ensures that there is little tolerance of making distinctions between pop music and classical, doggerel and poetry, even childish paintings and masterpieces. We no longer see the finished work but are exhorted to consider the effort that went into creating a work. The demarcation between entertainment and art, between the amateur and the professional, that has served mankind well for centuries are, today, routinely ignored.

So Angus Kennedy's 'Being Cultured: In Defence of Discrimination' is not just timely but is also a very importantant book that questions the stultifying atmosphere that surrounds much of our understanding of culture today, and shows us the importance of discriminating:

"Without discrimination we would be plunged into a Protean chaos where no sooner something is the it was not: a world without boundaries; of fantastic and unlimited imagination, a world of unreason." [p.51]

In discriminating we create our morality and build an understanding of the world about us and how we live in that world.

By enforcing the view that one culture is no less inferior to any other - the insistence on referring to African culture, women's literature, gay poetry, etc. - is not liberating in any sense, but only re-enforces identity that further sets us apart from each other.

This relativistic approach also denies reality. So, for instance, by equating entertainment with art is to deny our relationship with those forms; entertainment allows for us to passively accept it; we see ourselves in it it affirms us. Art, on the other hand, demands our engagement, it challenges us, daring us to re-evaluate our world. Entertainment will bring enjoyment, because it is secure that it can only flatter us, art can have the ability to destroy our preconceptions.

'Being Cultured: In Defence of Discrimination' touches on these issues examining classic and contemporary thought on culture, clearly and intelligently. It calls on us to reinstate that most vital aspect of humanity: to say what is good and what is not. For without that we can not go forward, either as individuals or as humanity as a whole.

Cold Sweat
Cold Sweat
Price: £6.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What to say?, 26 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Cold Sweat (Amazon Instant Video)
Daft, just plain daft. Not really worth wasting an hour and a quarter of your life on. One of the worst films I've ever seen.

ESS Gents Mechanical Skeleton, Black Leather Look Strap Watch WM119
ESS Gents Mechanical Skeleton, Black Leather Look Strap Watch WM119

1.0 out of 5 stars A nice watch that doesn't last, 25 Jan. 2014
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Admittedly I bought this on looks as I wanted something that I could have as a dress watch and I actually wanted a wind-up watch. Having worn it only twice the spring broke. I suppose you get what you pay for. Nice as it may appear, it is crap when it comes to functionality.

Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalization
Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalization
by Kevin L. Yuill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £55.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The difficult case for living, 29 July 2013
Dr Yuill's book on assisted dying provides us with a moral, though humanist, view of why we should value human life and why allowing the state to legislate over the issue is dangerous in that it allows the authorities to dictate the terms of what is ultimately the most private decision anybody can make.

How we view death says how we, as a society, place a value on human life. Whatever one may think about suicide (and Yuill argues forcibly and convincingly, that this is no 'assisted dying')it has to be the decision of the sufferer and cannot be decided by some sort of sliding scale.

Dr. Yuill's argument is a powerful and compassionate one that gets to the heart of what it is to be human.

The Francois Truffaut Collection - 6 Disc Box Set (Exclusive to [DVD]
The Francois Truffaut Collection - 6 Disc Box Set (Exclusive to [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jean-Pierre Léaud

7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What if you don't speak French or understand it well enogh?, 6 Jan. 2013
What Amazon don't tell you is that three of the films in this collection are not subtitled.

Not all us arthouse film types understand enough French.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 23, 2013 12:28 PM BST

Full Blood (Salt Modern Poets)
Full Blood (Salt Modern Poets)
by John Siddique
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strong commitment to the art of poetry, 8 July 2012
Full Blood is one of the most exciting collections of British poetry I've come across in the last few years. John Siddique stands apart from the much of the poetry scene in Britain that, with a few exceptions, seems to be dominated by crude confessionalism and even cruder moralism. Here Siddique presents us with poems that call on his life for inspiration. Whether about childhood or adulthood, Siddique's poems draw you into experiences rather than places in time.

Whilst it appears that Siddique is telling us his own story, he uses many voices to do so. This approach puts me in mind of the great American Objectivist poet Charles Reznikoff (1894 - 1976). The basic tenets of Objectivist poetics as defined by Louis Zukofsky were to treat the poem as an object, and to emphasise sincerity, intelligence, and the poet's ability to look clearly at the world. Reznikoff's works drew on his own personal experiences, yet they went beyond mere autobiography. The `sincerity' that Zukofsky spoke of should not be confused with the Romantic concept of `truth', in which the artist was expected to present his version of truth about the world almost as beautified fact. The `sincerity' of the Objectivists was a commitment to the poetry as an object, to be appreciated as a poem.

John Siddique fulfills this definition, though one gets the impression with each work that it does not want to stay in the same world, that it wishes to keep moving ahead: finding new expressions and new voices to convey the poetry to the world. Full Blood is an outstanding collection that displays all that is great and exciting about the art of poetry. John Siddique is disciplined without being distant, and intimate without being dogmatically self-referential. He stands as one of today's finest poets and one that serves as an example to others (including the `big names') of how the art of poetry should be approached.

Read the full review at

Wagner 4-DVD Box Set
Wagner 4-DVD Box Set
Dvd ~ Richard Burton
Offered by MMRSALES
Price: £14.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A great work spoilt by bad sound and editing., 2 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Wagner 4-DVD Box Set (DVD)
The price for this film is rather sheap. This is perhaps because the sound and the editing of the film itself is so bloody awful. Large chunks of dialogue are inaudible and the discs end without a proper denoument to each section. Needs BFI to sort it out.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 17, 2012 1:02 PM GMT

Power In The Darkness
Power In The Darkness
Price: £6.99

4 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The politics is dead and the message has worn thin, 18 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Power In The Darkness (Audio CD)
The reviews of this album are either young kid(ults)imagining days of revolution or nostalgic old sods like myself.

I remember TRB from so many Anti-Nazi League rallies and the occasional paid gig. They were times of pessimism (and if you listen to the lyrics, a lot of that seeps through) and playing at revolution. The targets of our anger were as irrelevant as much of what goes for protest these days. Whilst we whined about imagined fascist coups the Government were busy making sure that Immigrants couldn't get into this country.

Tom Robinson was a middle class kiddie who knew where he stood. He exuded charisma more than Strummer or any of the other angry young men at the time. His songs (2 4 6 8, Sing if you're glad to be gay, Ain't gonna take it, all used the football terrace chant technique, which is what made these song so great at the time. We could all sing along and it all sounded so meaningful.

But it was no different from any other rock theatrics.

Listening to this album again is like seeing photos of how I dressed in the 70s: it's embarrassing. The lyrics are full of desperate rhymes ("That was the year Nan Harris died/And Charlie Jones committed suicide" or " Better get it together/Big trouble to come/And the odds are against us/About twenty to one") or just plain stupid ("You better decide which side you're on/This ship goes down before too long/If Left is right then Right is wrong/You better decide which side you're on") and whilst `The man you never saw' is perhaps the best song the Clash never wrote it doesn't really say much about the spate of political song writing.

Robinson was great when he was playing at being the English Bruce Springsteen, and `Grey Cortina' is a fantastic example of that. He just didn't have the talent and dedication to song writing that `The Boss' had. And the theatrics of the title song quickly wore thin.

I loved this album back in '78. It meant something to a stupid rebellious teenager. But I grew up!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 31, 2013 8:07 PM BST

Borderline [DVD] [1930]
Borderline [DVD] [1930]
Dvd ~ Paul Robeson
Offered by Rapid-DVD
Price: £11.26

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Personalising the Political, 6 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: Borderline [DVD] [1930] (DVD)
There is something a bit disturbing about watching `Borderline' and it is the same feeling that arises when people today discuss issues such as racism as if it were a personal, rather than social, issue. It is the arrogance of the implied statement; `the world revolves around me'. A film that purports to deal with racism ends up by saying `black=good, white=not so good'.

Judging from the notes that accompanies this DVD the only reason that the Robesons agreed to staring in this film was to amuse themselves at the expense of this bunch of self -indulgent (and self-deluded) bourgeois group: the POOL group. That isn't to pass judgement on Macpherson and his group. They were, no doubt, very sincere about their anti-racism. It is just that they could not see a world beyond their own parochial one.

As such, the viewer is made to feel like a voyeur. It seems as if we have gate-crashed a therapy session rather than a serious appraisal of a social issue. Things are given: you either accept it or you don't. There is little room for manoeuvre when it comes to the discussion of racism, sexism or gay rights (no doubt these people would have loved the social- issue-as-mental-health-problem, that peppers the etymology of social issues today; reducing racism or anti-gay pronouncements as `phobias').

But there is also something really beautiful about the film. Macpherson's constant close examination of Paul Robeson seems to suggest that, far from examining racism, he was more interested in the beauty of masculinity (sometimes Macpherson borders on portraying Robeson as the `sauvage noble'). And I found the film worked best on this level.

We are not encouraged to either see anything worthy in the white characters, who come over like a bunch of silly teenagers, and thus it is hard to sympathise with them. But it is also difficult to actually sympathise with Pete because we actually don't know how much of his misfortune he brought on himself. The closing shot of Thorne and Pete shaking hands is, perhaps, the only political (however naïve) statement. But it doesn't fit comfortably with the rest of the film's navel-gazing.

If self-indulgence was a reason to dislike a film (or any work of art) then there would be very little to appreciate. Borderline is a great work. Macpherson certainly embraced the new trends in art with az passion and, in doing so, has created a greatly unique film.

However one has to wonder at what it was that drove BFI to include a soundtrack by Courtney Pine. The music gives one the feeling that what we are watching is some porn film. I half expected a half dressed hunk with long sideboards and a near-handlebar moustache to burst on the scene and give Bryher `a good seeing to'. I ended up turning the mute on. It was just so imposing as well as being irrelevant to the film.

What is sad about this 2 DVD set is that we are told nothing about Véronique Goël whose film `Kenwin' takes up the second disc (actually it would appear that there should be two films by Goël, but `Close Up' is melded into `Kenwin'. I don't know if this is an accident, but it works really well). The films deal with Macpherson's group through a series of correspondence and (in `Close Up') a series of family films. Oddly enough this seems less voyeuristic than Borderline. They have a very ethereal feel that makes the concerns that are related in the letters, secondary.

I am delighted with this DVD with the exception of the soundtrack. Macpherson captures the feel of Hilda Doolittle's imagism really well and forced the viewer to see beyond what is in front of them. It is sad that Macpherson never made any more films as `Borderline', at least, suggests an interrogating mind. He did produce Hans Richter's `Dreams That Money Can Buy [1946] [DVD]. Surprisingly it was Bryher who, literally, put her money where her mouth was, when it came to social conscious, by devoting her money and energies to helping refugees from Nazi Germany.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 20, 2014 11:19 AM BST

Metropolis [Reconstructed & Restored] (Masters of Cinema) [DVD] [1927]
Metropolis [Reconstructed & Restored] (Masters of Cinema) [DVD] [1927]
Dvd ~ Alfred Abel
Price: £12.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cinema as Symphony, 9 Jan. 2011
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One of the most important events of film history has been realised with the editing together of Lang's masterpiece.

It was the first time that I had seen Metropolis in 30 odd years, and seeing it today illustrates, to me, how much it reflects the confusion of modernity; making it a work that also taps into our own times.

One of the works that it brought to mind was Mahler's 3rd symphony, with its quote from Nietzsche's `Also sprach Zarathustra' (`O man! Take notice'). Like Mahler, Lang introduces us to the ethereal as well as the mundane. Even Huppert's score echoes Mahler (as much as the music of new romanticism did at the time, composers such as Zemlinsky, for example).

Enough words have been said about the style of the film, and the impact that it has had on later filmmakers ( It is suggested that Stanley Kubrick based Dr Stranlove - the character played by Peter Sellers - on Rotwang, but I wonder if he may have also had Lang in mind; when one sees the interview with Lang on this disc, the comparison is quite stunning).

Though I don't want to dwell on Lang's biography too much there has always been this image of Lang as some sort of progressive, whilst his wife (of the time), Thea von Harbou, who wrote the novel and screenplay for Metropolis, is portrayed as some Nazi-loving bitch who stayed behind when Lang `escaped' to the USA. Jonathan Rosenbaum, writing in the accompanying booklet, compounds the image by referring to Metropolis' `[naïve]' socialist notions' [p.11] and though the compromising of capitalist and workers interest fits in with the reforming socialist ideals of Social Democracy, much of the film seems to be a product of the ideology of the rising Nazi party.

In hindsight we can see the clips where the workers go to and come off their shifts as the later images of Jews being herded into concentration camps (even the dream-like image of workers being thrown into the furnace/mouth of Moloch, reinforces that). But there are other aspects of the film that makes it understandable as to why Hitler loved Metropolis and could say of Lang: "Here is a man who can give us great Nazi films!" Rotwang can be seen as the cause of all the problems of the city and although he does not appear as a caricature Jew, we do see a star (though not the Star of David, exactly) on his door, suggesting the Jewish conspiracy theory, so loved by anti-Semitics. Added to that Rotwang can easily be seen as a Rabbi Lowe figure who, using one of the Nazi's theories of the Jewish Bolsheviks, creates an evil Maria, who later stirs up trouble amongst the workers (and it is wondered if Lang and von Harbou had the murdered revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg, as the model for the `evil' Maria).

But if anything, it is the elitist fear of `the mob' that dominates the second half of the film. The workers are portrayed as mindless `idiots' for allowing themselves to be swayed by the `evil' Maria, and, as if to reinforce the contempt for `the mob' taking revolutionary action the music during the scenes of the workers destroying the machines is a twisted `La Marseillaise'.

The story itself is, to put it mildly, garbage, but the ending (seen as being one of the worst conclusions to a film) seems to me to be the only one available. It works as a compromise between the totalitarian ideals of Nietzsche inspired Nazism and a liberal democracy where `we are all in this together'.

To reject Lang's German films on the basis that they were applauded by Hitler and Goebbels and, to some extent, acted as Nazi propaganda, would be wrong. Art calls on whatever is available at the time and this was the climate of Germany during the period when Lang was making this film.

I think that this film (though I prefer `M') is one of the greatest films ever. It matters little about the politics (except for analytical purposes)for an appreciation of the work as a whole. Like Wagner's Ring Cycle, Metropolis did not bring about the rise of the Nazis, the Nazis exploited those things that, ideologically, the could relate to in those works.

Metropolis not only reflects the confusion of Modernity (a confusion much abound these days as well) it portrayed that confusion in the most far-seeing manner that the time allowed.

It became the benchmark for other films (mainly, but not solely, science fiction _ there is a scene where the water pours through a crack in the ground, which made me think of the bleeding walls in Kubrick's `The Shining') and even the recently found scenes, that are scratched and of poor quality, still seem amazing.

But for me, I find that the film is the height of modern aesthetics. Whilst life for the workers is brutal, the architecture of the city, that dominates the film, is simply beautiful.

This film has suffered the worst butchering of any work of art I can think of. Not only having so much cut out from it but also having to be put through the indignity at the hands of Mororder in 1984. It is indeed a great pleasure that we have been given this version today. The film world and audience should be forever grateful to those that found and worked on this restoration and then released it.

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