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Plom de Nume "Rob" (Wolverhampton, United Kingdom)

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Breaking Bad: Season 1 [DVD] [2008] [2009]
Breaking Bad: Season 1 [DVD] [2008] [2009]
Offered by Sent2u
Price: 10.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Constantly equals and frequently surpasses the many superlatives heaped on it!, 30 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
And here come some more. Oh my God! This is, no contest, the most drop-dead, gasp for breath, shout at the screen, run-around-the-block-at-the end-of-every-episode in sheer exultation series I've ever seen on TV. It's a unique, sustained, tragi-comic masterpiece of the very highest quality - in any medium.

To put it in context, I adored the Sopranos from start to finish; my wife and I have watched the whole set several times, having accumulated all the disks from around season 4, when we first got hooked. Other programmes we've loved as a couple have been Huff: a delightful surprise and, in its time, another product of taking a chance with the Amazon reviewers of seemingly similar taste and being blown away by the quality of the work.

If it helps you into our mind-set, the same thing goes for Rome, in its way; and ditto for mutual matrimonial appreciation of Boardwalk Empire. Jimmy McGovern's The Street, Mad Men and the Andy Whitfield Spartacus also make it onto our conjugal video juke-box - although on slightly differing criteria, respectively.

So that's a couple of factors to frame my absolute respect for Breaking Bad and its creators: the fact that my wife loves it, too - and I trust you can see from the above that we're selective with our devotions - plus the rare justification of a same-breath mention with, above all, the Sopranos. Indeed, if the creators of Huff and the Sopranos teamed up with the Cohen Brothers... you might just about get into the quality zone established by Breaking Bad.

My gratitude goes to the combined deities of taste, luck and internet browsing for dropping me onto the Breaking Bad page a couple of months ago. It could have been one of the better "if you liked this" links; then the synopsis and reviews - at that point, intriguing and suggestive, rather than fully bought into.

Well, thanks Heavens for chance, informed guesswork and 1-Click! Because season 1 of Breaking Bad arrived soon thereafter. Still not entirely convinced that Sarah would go for it (actually at the "possibly" rather than "probably" point right then) I left it a couple of weeks before we ventured on the first episode...

...and that was it - hooked from the start! Amazing! Family narrative, left field content, a plot that never stops thickening, oblique ideas centre stage, difficult moments and material, hilarious comedy, quite astonishing action set pieces, suspense. And some of the longest conversations, effortlessly engaging, moving, touching, side-splitting and the rest, that TV has been brave enough to entertain for a long time. For me, it's the ultimate compliment; that is, a flawless, no compromise, sustained reciprocal compliment to the audience's intelligence. Combined with sheer entertainment value - and here we are getting into Shakespearian territory - Breaking Bad cannot be judged any less than, as I said, superlatively superlative! Oh, by the way, that's me doing the shouting, because I'm so excited. Please don't let me mislead you: my glee and enthusiasm is stirred by the quiet subtlety and sheer good taste that more accurately characterises Breaking Bad than my ravings do. My excuse for the hurrahs and eurekas is the comparative rarity of this level of artistic brilliance, well, anywhere nowadays.

It really is quite magnificent. Literally never a dull moment. With Breaking Bad, it's actually almost an "of course" paragraph to mention the cast (every single character selling every single line and moment to maximum, utterly authentic value); the overwhelming cinematic production values, photography, soundscape (glorious for home cinema), music - even the dressing of the actors - sublime editing. But it must be done; as the team assembled here, with the world-class writing they have to work with, pulls off some of the greatest televisual strokes ever accomplished.

I ordered season 2 after 3 episodes. These quickly followed by 3 and 4 from Amazon Germany (thanks again to Amazon contributors - yes, they come packaged for the German market but with pure English disks in the box). With just 2 episodes left, we've gone through all 4 series from start to end in one unbroken sequence. And, guess what; yes, we'll be starting all over again as soon as we've finished. It starts great and just keeps getting, miraculously, better. Superb.

This should be the most celebrated TV programme of all, by any fair standards. So, whatever: do yourself an unregrettable favour and join the comparatively rare but incomparably satisfied fan-base of this exquisite programme. Now, please.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 7, 2012 11:54 AM BST


Brilliant Selling: What the Best Sales People Know, Do and Say
Brilliant Selling: What the Best Sales People Know, Do and Say
by Jeremy Cassell
Edition: Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They walk the talk and I'm buying!, 24 Mar 2012
In the twenty-five years since I left teaching to become a salesman, I've "passed (in the style of Sam Goldwyn) a lot of water..." and attended lots of courses - and read (you guessed it) a library-full of Selling Books. Talking of passing water: a significant proportion of the aforementioned training - and an even larger portion of the reading - has felt like a reverse bowel movement. There are some styles of Sales-Training and -Authorship that really should be administered in suppository form. From posturing "authorities" and macho "motivators" who give double glazing salesman a bad name, to the hideously pretentious "consultative/professionals" with their wrist-slittingly contrived formulae and (oh no) "structures": I've had a sample-case of them all! (Aside: actually, one of the best salesmen I've ever encountered was a double glazing purveyor who had a mature, honest, reserved and utterly credible way of "helping people to buy" that not only rehabilitated the species completely for me but also (you guessed it) made the honourable gentleman in question a shedload of (commission-only) money.)

Anyway; of all the training I've done and all the tomes I've read, certain examples have shone out and stayed with me. The first company to educate me, Xerox, set a pretty high benchmark, as anyone in the know will anticipate. The TACK methodology (sixty years young and still wowing them) was also especially effective: I recall vividly the original treat of discovering Alfred Tack's own book (How to Succeed in Selling) to be - amongst all the proper advice on open questions and such - more of a disquisition on basic manners than some slick, glib "How To" volume. The key lesson running through all the better examples of this wrung-out subject has always been the same: by all means remember and exhibit the (oh no) "behaviours" that tend to work - but never forget that your human qualities of honesty, credibility, humour and decency will put you at a huge advantage.

So, after that contextual preamble and with a nod to all the familiar dross and the rarer gems thus far encountered... I come to Brilliant Selling. And this is why I approached it by that long but apposite path: because I have to say that, of all the books of this genre I've read to date, this one has spoken to me in by far the most sympathetic and agreeable voice (or pair of voices). I count myself a successful and (I trust) relatively likeable example of the sales creature at large. So I hope I can say with a modicum of authority that this is the book that feels like the right one. It resonates with me more than the rest.

Of course, it's possibly no coincidence that one of the authors taught English and Drama, as I did. OK, that's certainly common ground as far as our mutual entry point into the commercial world. But there's a deeper rapport at work here; and it boils down to the simple fact that (as Tony Soprano would say) "When you're right, you're right!" It strikes me as absolutely no coincidence that Brilliant Selling singles out as its most laudable salesperson-trait the quality of credibility.

In some ways, this excellent, perceptive and approachable text feels like the end of a journey or quest: "At last, the selling book that actually gets it right and tells the truth." It almost makes me nostalgic for a better way of doing business; if not for the fact that this is actually a message whose time has well and truly come. Indeed, it's actually the most quietly radical and genuinely "new" volume on selling for a long time, treating, as it does, all concerned with a respect and camaraderie that cuts delightfully through the mountain of sewage that has accrued around this topic over the past couple of decades.

It's all good advice, eloquently put. There is, in truth, not much new to be said: but this one chooses the right messages to put across - and transmits them in a clear, helpful, memorable and, above all, engaging way. So, in brief, Brilliant Selling: what it says on the tin - a brilliant book about selling brilliantly... a familiar friend and a refreshing change, all in one very informative and useful package. A genuine message of Doing It Right and Winning that resonates with a modernity and humanity for which the whole field was more than ready!


Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 (3 PC, 1 Year subscriptions) (PC)
Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 (3 PC, 1 Year subscriptions) (PC)
Offered by a_book_in_the_hand
Price: 29.95

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pronounced "Krapspersky", 6 Dec 2011
Second year running I've renewed this only to find major problems with renewal. Was once a fan, been a customer for eight years but my loyalty is fast disappearing. Attempt to install on laptop running XP froze mouse and took three hours to fix - not the KIS "support" fix but my own fast-waning patience and sleuthing. Now a "database corrupt" issue on the main PC (Vista) which so far proves unfixable. Crap, obscure "help" pages and general product navigation;, plus it's still the slow crock it had become last year with email. Bad, sad: what an increasingly bitter disappointment this once-fine product has become!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 25, 2012 8:25 AM GMT


Monsters [Blu-ray]
Monsters [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Whitney Able
Price: 6.57

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy to add to the acclaim for this one!, 19 Nov 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Monsters [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
...and have to start by noting that it's probably unfairly penalised in the ratings averages by being downmarked by an unbalanced (ahem) number of consistently disappointed contributors who were probably looking for something different - that is, the same... as in "same old same old creaturefest." No, let's not get into a mud-slinging thing: each to his or her own. And it's also fair to say that the marketing of Monsters doesn't exactly manage the expectations of a certain type of viewer (of which I actually am one a lot of the time).

So, let's start by saying that Monsters is decidedly different, certainly some distance from even its nearest genre-mates (which, naturally, include District 9 and Cloverfield - although I'd argue that Apocalypse Now is more stylishly and thematically mated to Monsters). If people could just set aside comparisons from the outset, though, I think we'd all be able to acknowledge this film for the quiet, understated gem it really is. You don't even have to make allowances for the low budget and the small cinematic miracle wrought within those restrictions.

Indeed, the restricted money, the pace of its making (scenes edited on laptops whilst others were filmed ad hoc on location) and the preference for improvisation over script - all these clearly added to a focus in the movie's execution that sings out to the audience; tight budget equals tight performance in this instance and it's an absolute delight to experience. This is particularly felt in the spontaneity and authenticity of the leads, whose relationship is actually felt realistically to evolve over the course of the story (Whitney Able is quite wonderful in this regard, actually charming us in real time so that the couple's final bonding feels perfectly (tragically) timed, rather than just obvious and inevitable).

That's the real value of this existential little masterpiece: nothing is obvious or inevitable. It's all a compelling, entertaining and often poignant surprise - which is the exact opposite of the demerits unfairly accrued through its very refusal to be conventional. Here's the point: it's a fable about people's values, positive and negative, that happens to have hit on a really clever, not exactly original but wildly potential (and fully realised), narrative device of having the unknown, wild card, random nature of circumstances that impinge on the human story here "embodied" in extra-terrestrials. The creatures are also there, of course, because the director could... I mean, Gareth Edwards knew he could insert some CGI relatively economically - and did, to wonderful effect.

Monsters looks - and sounds, beautifully scored - more like Koyanisqaatsi than Predator. There are also times when it looks (and sounds) more like a gorgeously photographed wildlife documentary than a sci-fi actioner (which it actually is, although the natural history is more that of the humans than the aliens), especially in the exquisite sequence when two creatures go through a courtship ritual - the symbolism of the light pulsing in them, as in their "eggs" in the trees, during what looks like a mating dance, is not lost - just before our human protagonists finally declare their love... and the final mortal/monster tragedy (heralded at the very beginning) ensues.

Fantastic! Epically accessible. Major themes and huge originality. All this plus a terrifically engaging "journey to love" from two intriguing, appealing, talented leads. I was also reminded, in this connection, of certain delicious "Desert/Road" movies (a kind of Mex Noir), certain elements of David Lynch, Pekinpah and such equally unlauded triumphs as Delusion (a 90s beauty with Jennifer Rubin and Kyle Secor, seek it out) or Red Rock West - you know, that funky, gritty vibe and chemistry, Elmore Leonard style storytelling.

So: no, I certainly wasn't disappointed - quite the opposite. Monsters is a very fine film indeed and its makers deserve huge respect and massive career boosts all round.


Don't Look Now (Special Edition) [Blu-ray] [1973]
Don't Look Now (Special Edition) [Blu-ray] [1973]
Dvd ~ Donald Sutherland
Price: 12.03

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rediscover this gorgeous classic on a wonderful Blu-Ray copy, 22 Oct 2011
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Apart from excellent extras, the DVD was a huge disappointment, as many people noted: with Don't Look Now, the film's the thing, very much so - it's one of those rare examples of "pure cinema" in the mainstream. And whilst the imagery looked as recalled from original cinema viewings (complete with grain in the close-ups and washed out areas of unintentional chiaroscuro), the sound was just execrable.

Now with this Blu-Ray, the sound is as remembered, a wonderful collage of music, dialogue and stunningly atmospheric effects (Venice really is a place that sounds as distinctive as it looks); even in mono (you don't notice: decent kit allows the soundscape to resonate impressively). The crackles and inaudibility have been expertly cleaned up; you can actually hear what Donald and Julie are saying now - which is a welcome step, as the dialogue is compellingly naturalistic and beautifully acted.

Even better, the picture is now - with Nicholas Roeg's supervision - of a reproductive standard that allows any decent modern home set-up to render the movie probably more beautifully than any of us will have seen it before. On this disk, the film is back to all its exquisite glory and arguably visually superior to anything we might have been able to appreciate back with the cinema technology of its original release.

It's lovely to have this film back, and - take this the right way - improved. Julie Christie never looked more heart-breakingly lovely; watching this as a married couple, we both found our responses to her and Sutherland's performances going even deeper than before. The restoration is so well done you can forget about the allowances for age and print-wear and just enjoy the charming, profoundly insightful job she does in portraying a grief-stricken mother whose inner child often bubbles out to compensate. As for Donald; well, he just rules as ever!

It all looks incredible, basically. It always did, of course: beautiful people in breathtaking locations magnificently photographed tend to have that effect. But what a joy it is to be able to luxuriate in the full effect of that achingly beautiful cinematography (even - no, especially - of bleaker, non-touristy, out of season Venice in the rain) and exceptionally creative editing. For my money, Don't Look Now is on a direct line, from Citizen Kane through to Let the Right One In, of films that transfix you with pure imagery, that make you look and feel the resonance at a level that is genuinely poetic in its impact.

In this respect, the renowned love-making scene feels more natural and touching than ever, so much less salacious and pure of intent than you'd have imagined from the media yelping that attended its release. It's truly poignant and utterly erotic, an affirmation of love and tragedy with amazing depth, timeless; and how great that the "simple" (excuse me) device of cross-cutting between carnality and routine plays its technical part in the sequence's very human achievement. How could we ever have labelled this "notorious"! It's a quiet glory of domestic sexiness, underlying sadness and sheer lyrical craftsmanship.

(Am I getting this across, my point about the imagery being so artful and essential? I mean, in Kane, when Rosebud is revealed, it's just a sled - but (if you're anything like me) your heart constricts and the little hairs go up when you see it, set against Herrman's music; just the object and the score... and the same applies for so much of Don't Look Now, where we find ourselves riveted by shots of liquid smeared over slides of a church interior, or oil and water trickling onto marble, or shadows and reflections at night along a canal; plus, of course, with this film, there's that supernatural thriller element in the narrative that pulls us in, too.) Roeg's visual rhymes looked and felt positively metaphysical at the time - especially in the murder scene at the end, as aesthetically and narratively climactic as any I've seen - and now they come across more powerfully than ever. Even the early cutting from chuckling mother Laura indoors to giggling daughter Christine outside (soon to drown), and the chucking of the ball/cigarettes - these little ploys (and their psychic overtones so appropriate to the story): these little but striking gestures are that bit more noticeable and appreciable on the new disk.

If they never put anything else on Blu-Ray, just be glad they did this. It's absolutely gorgeous, new-minted and even more revealing of the film's riches, this copy. The package is a true celebration of a masterpiece. Perfection. Enhanced! Essential. Get it and Look Now!


Spartacus: Blood and Sand Season 1 [Blu-ray]
Spartacus: Blood and Sand Season 1 [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Andy Whitfield
Price: 18.25

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They really went for it - you should, too!, 2 Aug 2011
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You have to admire the utter fearlessness of this project. They really do go for it; and with great success! It would be surprising not to encounter such phrases as "over the top" and "no holds barred" in collected reviews - and they'd be right. The thing to bear in mind, though, is that the actual time and place, let alone the semi-legend built around the historical character, held a fair amount of behavioural licence when it came to sex and death.

So Spartacus' makers have taken a modern medium we laughably consider "liberated" and given it a good stretching; for which they deserve our admiration. It's misleading to carp on about historical accuracy in this context (for instance, why let the odd Antipodean twang bother you when "realism" would demand a mix of Italian and Thracian accents); what's better accomplished here than in many other pretenders to ""gravity" is credibility and emotional resonance. "Having fun with moral entertainment plus added lust and bloodshed": I can't see the problem - and don't imagine Shakespeare would have, either!

What they've basically done is to reinvent, for TV and in a classical context, the good old pre-Shakespeare "Theatre of Blood" - complete with amazing contemporary graphics that combine verisimilitude with a striking, consistent visual style. Ultimately, the results are absolutely beautiful, a Blu-Ray cornucopia of astonishingly lovely pictures teased out of what's essentially a claustrophobic main locale (the ludus, or gladiatorial school) and a very focused tale to tell. Plus a couple of the most genuinely erotic sequences I've seen (especially the masked interlude that concludes with a literally eye-popping bit of skull-cracking...). And there you have it, really...

But there's more. The defiance of convention extends to our expectations never being cheated by the commercial constraints of the serial format and the dreary necessity for "open endings," over-extended plot-lines and falsely extended longevity of bankable characters. They have a lusty, concentrated story to tell; and never once dilute it. Indeed, in the climactic episodes, the wish-fulfilment count is amazingly high, a really determined effort to tie up threads and leave us gagging... for more, even though we know they're going to have to relocate and replace most of the established characters. Another reviewer mentions shouting at the screen during the last moments, and I can see why: fantastic denouement! ("Are they really going to give Aurelia her revenge for Varro... on a kid? Yes they are!") Yup, I confess to much whoopin' and hollerin' myself at that.

And, given the risks of character and performance being swamped in the sea of (amusing) obscenities, violence and sex, Spartacus triumphs again. Andy Whitfield gives us a tremendously solid hero around whose personal saga the intrigues of the ludus and Roman society are spun. John Hannah is great enough to be playful with his role and still give every scene of his a particular edge. Viva Bianca's vixenish Alithyia is pitch-perfect and offers a fine complement to Lucy Lawless' fantastic anti-heroine, Lucretia (these two both feature on some of the consistently excellent, vivacious commentaries you can enjoy, too). The best study for us is Manu Bennett as Crixus: the man gives an extended workshop on the Brute with a Heart and ultimately has us moved by his struggle with love and violence, a hundred and eighty degrees around from where we're launched into his initial presence as a hissable villain - marvellous, sensitive acting from a man with a killer build and obviously honed martial skills.

It's just great. Hats (and togas) off to all concerned. And encore, please!


Kaspersky Internet Security 2011, 3 PC, 1 Year Subscription (PC)
Kaspersky Internet Security 2011, 3 PC, 1 Year Subscription (PC)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Used to be a fan: Kaspersky used to help, not hinder, 13 Mar 2011
What a shame this release of the otherwise excellent Kaspersky is so sodding slow. Start-up and Outlook: well, if you like to have an otherwise swift PC turn into a "watched pot" whilst the anti-virus lumbers into action, go ahead and get 2011. If there were any way to revert to 2010, believe me, I would, as this version has made an otherwise efficient computer into a wheezing crock. This is clearly a case of KIS resting on its laurels. As I said: shame!


Collected Poems
Collected Poems
by R. F. Langley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.60

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of our finest poets and teachers, 30 Jan 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Collected Poems (Paperback)
The other reviewers say what is to be said about the work. I can tell you about the man: a true inspiration, without whom I wouldn't be able to write or read with the confidence he imbued through his love of language and people. He died a few days ago. Rest in peace, "Rolf"!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 19, 2011 11:05 AM BST


It's the People!: What Really Drives Great Management and Leadership
It's the People!: What Really Drives Great Management and Leadership
by John Dembitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passion and Pith: the best business cocktail, 13 Jan 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Shakespeare has Polonius (of all people - the Bard loved his ironies!) recommend brevity as "the soul of wit": the first meaning of "wit" to Shakespeare would have been "wisdom." That's right on the money for this book.

Alexander Pope later gave us one of the earliest indications of an evolving connotation for "wit" as "engaging expression," when he spoke of it as "What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed." This, again, applies perfectly to what John Dembitz presents here: a concentrated but extremely tasty distillation of business intelligence.

Any business peer reading this should be moved, quite rightly, to observe "couldn't have put it better..". And one senses throughout (not really "senses," it's pretty explicit) that putting things into words and putting things into action are inalienable concepts for Mr. Dembitz!

So: back to wit - it's pithy (brief but with all the greater impact for it). It's quick, spare, never lavish; yet revealing and engaging - a sort of "best practice" for conveying ideas. Dembitz' book is bursting with such notions; but very focused on conveying that essential truth - so often reduced to cliché in the engorgement of weighty tomes and verbose gurus - of work: companies are bunches of people before anything else.

Dembitz does a capital (and really witty) job of rescuing that most valuable of realisations from the diluting floodwaters of all those who bang this particular drum without ever really getting to grips with what it actually means in action. Don't look here for whoops and yells and - oh, God - "feelgood" yipees of enthusiasm (another word with a useful older connotation in dilettantism). This book is very much a "real world" guide to business behaviour and lessons from experience.

Much more authentically than many in this arena, Dembitz puts across consistent, unarguable opinions as, well, not opinions but telling anecdotes with advice (oh, all right: action-points) derived thence. All the stories are in the service of doing things right for people at work (and in life, if you pay attention). All the hard-won experience is unerringly pointed at the target of organisational improvement. "Man of Action" doesn't even begin to cover the life in business (and, dare I say, "the business of life") so beautifully portrayed.

As with his views, there is indeed a great deal of the author's admirable character here - but, again, this is way too focused to come across as one of those "me-me" exercises in ego and ostentation. Generous without being lavish describes both the man and his prose.

Far too often, the idea of a "no-nonsense" business approach gets confused with unpleasant, impolite or bullying leadership. Dembitz' book, again, is an object lesson in putting a human face and context to such hackneyed phrases as "Just do it" (the F is silent...) and, a particular favourite, PUtfP (Pick Up the f****** Phone)!

This is a business book that people (well, they are the subject, honestly, for once) can read with pleasure and instruction. Perhaps I can best characterise the style here as one of "stern warmth": I guess that might be Dembitz' take on "firm but fair" and other trite sayings - it certainly gives a flavour of the style, the character and the exceptionally practical content of this book. It puts many "celebrity entrepreneurs" to shame with its honesty.

Finally, Dembitz will not let the reader come away from his words without realising that selling is the core skill in business: what he calls an "evergreen" competence. The beauty of his constant presentation of that knowledge lies in the fact that he keeps it about people. It's one thing to intone "People buy from people"; but quite another to demonstrate the real skill in real time - helping people make good decisions and take useful actions is the honest essence of honest selling, not just a business skill but, when done with generosity and for the common good, an invaluable life skill, too. Dembitz pulls it off here with great aplomb and a very entertaining line in brief, but oh so rich, autobiography. I suspect he would say to you - as, on the strength of this splendid book, he is perfectly entitled to do - Just f Buy It!


The Street: The Complete Series 3 [DVD]
The Street: The Complete Series 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bob Hoskins
Price: 6.70

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only cliche you'll encounter with this: "TV doesn't get better" - and it's true, 3 Dec 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Superlative. Incredibly, this series sustains and builds on the already unmatchable standards of the previous two series. Six engaging stories - of diverting variety and each with the trademark multiple hooks (from a "High Noon" showdown with a thug barred from Bob Hoskins' local, through the story of a determined single mother (a fabulous Anna Friel) compelled into prostitution , via the tale of a soldier disfigured in a suicide bombing, to alcoholism and reluctant bonding with a Downs Syndrome child) - all of this blessed with utterly authentic dialogue and performances from every single actor on screen that quite simply blow away everything else British TV has shown us since the Boys from the Blackstuff. The whole thing culminates in a heart-stopping, moving turn from Timothy Spall, present throughout as a great linking character but ultimately showing us what an absolutely peerless actor he is. Really magnificent work from all involved: six hours' drama of a quality you wouldn't get elsewhere in several years of TV or a long, long time in the cinema. Some disks are recommended as benchmarks for High Definition; I recommend these as the gold standard for every element that constitutes the true art of television theatre. Amazing.


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