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Colin J. Herd "colin j herd" (Edinburgh)
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I Served the King of England [DVD]
I Served the King of England [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ivan Barnev
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £6.99

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an embarassment of riches, 6 Dec. 2008
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There was a great deal of anticipation (in the overheated greenhouse of my heart at least) for this film, and especially so since i missed it at the cinema. This dvd is a real treat, and it doesn't disappoint. Jiri Menzel secured his place in world cinema history with his 1967 smash 'Closely Observed Trains' for which he won an oscar for best foreign language film at the age of just 28!. If you go to his wikipedia page and click on the external link to an interview on the Czech official website then you can see a photo of a very fresh faced young man getting the gong, and that is Menzel. Like his earlier smash, 'I Served the King of England' is based on a book by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, with whom Menzel closely collaborated. This is the sixth film of what must rank as one of the most fruitful collaborative artistic friendships in cinema. It is a collaboration the magic of which has most likely run its course since this was the last Hrabal novel that remained to be filmed. All the more reason for it to be savoured, like a dinner thrown at a fancy hotel. It is a satire, but it is without viciousness as such. It is bitter, but it is also sweet. In an interview, Menzel has described his use of humour in the following way:
'I can't stand artistic declarations, the need for a work to say something. In the theater and on film, I want people to laugh and at the same time to discreetly see themselves as they are. In a way that isn't too painful. '
This quotation sums up what the film does for me. There ARE some great laughs, some fantastically choreographed set-pieces and a wealth of beautiful moments that i don't want to spoil. This film is an embarrassment of riches in every sense. It has some great performances by, among others, the finest (in my view) German actress of the moment, Julia Jentsch, and in the leading role Ivan Barnev (young man) and Oldrich Kaiser (older man)


Hunger [DVD] [2008]
Hunger [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Michael Fassbender
Price: £5.00

56 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not for the faint of heart, 3 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Hunger [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I watched this film last night at the cinema and it justifies the hype that is surrounding it. The director, Steve McQueen, is of course most famous (up till now anyway) as the winner of the Turner Prize in 1999 (when he pipped Tracey Emin to the prize). He has been a film-maker for a long time, (his debut was Bear in 1993 which is a stark, stripped-back look at masculinity), but this is his first feature film. It retains the stripped-back feel, focussing mostly on one location, the Maze Prison, and the brutal horrors that go on therein. It is not for the faint of heart at all. Some parts of it are shocking, and yet Mcqueen has a great talent for stalling at particularly striking images and holding the shot for some time while action continues. I find this really effective, noticing the eery beauty in even the most brutal, unhappy, awful situations. This for me is the opposite of euphemism (an example of which, 'the troubles', used to refer to the war that went on in Ireland, is exposed as the lie it is in this film)... it takes a searing, brave, honest look at things, sees their terrible beauty and holds it so that you revile yourself in even thinking of beauty. These conflicting emotions are also embodied in the central character, Bobby Sands, who led the tragic 1981 hunger strike that resulted in 10 deaths.

Mcqueen's film is remarkably un-cluttered and yet a wealth of different kinds of scene are employed. We have a scene of extended dialogue in which Sands discusses the ethics of hunger striking with a priest. Thatcher's ugly voice is used as a voice-over. There are very violent scenes. A scene where a man is in tears, while extreme violence goes on beside him.

I think this is must-viewing for anyone interested in film, interested in recent history, interested in the way history is formed. It is not a simplistically judgemental film. The performances, particularly Michael Fassbender, are similarly uncompromising, brave and dedicated.


The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen (Wesleyan Poetry)
The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen (Wesleyan Poetry)
by Philip Whalen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £41.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'practised laziness', 30 Nov. 2008
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I love this book. Philip Whalen is a poet that I cannot get away from when I think about writing or write about thinking myself. His writing is so intricately bound up with the act of writing (which is dramatised so beautifully in his calligraphic poems) and the act of thinking, it really does feel as though you are in the presence of cognition when you read this book. And of course you are, but it's you, not him- him through you, or you on the back of him, or just you.

How funny a lot of these poems are too: wry, amused but NOT at all superior. An example of this is the first line of a poem called 'To the Muse': 'You're late today'. Or one of my favourite poems, 'Heigh-Ho Nobody's at Home', which I am not going to quote but which is beautiful, philosophical and witty.

This is a huge body of work, which is deceptively, and delightfully, unassuming in its parts (as one poem has it: 'penniless because I have practised laziness instead of industry and thrift') but which as a whole demands to be taken seriously. That phrase, 'practised laziness' hints at the zen-influenced philosophy that is worked out in these poems. Intellectually, Whalen is not at all 'lazy', he is rigorous. And the lenght of this book points to his 'industry' too.

Look out for a copy of his brilliantly titled novel 'You Didn't Even Try'. It has a great cover for one thing but is a great read too apart from that.


A Day At The Beach [DVD]
A Day At The Beach [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Sellers

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simon hesera where are you?, 29 Nov. 2008
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This review is from: A Day At The Beach [DVD] (DVD)
After this release, and the even recenter 'What?', one is left wondering just how many 'lost' Polanski films there are. It's nice to have it, though. Unlike the other reviewer I don't see this as especially typical of Polanski's style. I think it's more conventional, and less manic. But then, there is a central mind-on-the-brink being pushed at from all angles. I am intrigued about Simon Hesera, the director who took over from Polanski in the making of this flm- he seems to have made only one other film, which is not available on amazon.

The film features popular tv actress Beatie Edney in her first role as Winnie, the little girl. I think she is just brilliant in this film, and call me sentimental if you wish. I'll bat your remarks away like ping pong balls with my eyelids.

And then there's Sellers. This is a really good performance. I don't waant to put it in such clunky terms as the other reviewer (shame on you), he plays one of a gay 'couple' (this isn't clear) who run a shop on the beach. As usual he treads on the wire of over-acting but it is just toned-down enough not to seem out of place. He doesn't steal the show and that is a compliment.

There are moments that are difficult to get through, a very sad and very real depiction of alcoholism.


Powerless: Selected Poems 1973-1990 (High Risk)
Powerless: Selected Poems 1973-1990 (High Risk)
by Tim Dlugos
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of my favourite poets, 29 Nov. 2008
I am boiling and bristling with anticipation for Dlugos' Collected Poems which, according to his wikipedia article, is due out in 2009 edited by the poet David Trinidad. In the mean time there's this very good selected which came out in 1997, also edited by Trinidad. The long, intensely moving, though unsentimental poem 'G-9' is here, the title of which derives from the ward in which Dlugos suffered with AIDS.

A selection of Dlugos' earlier work is also represented, from 1973-1990. Dlugos is a fascinating poet because, as Dennis Cooper points out in his valuable introduction, he doesn't seem to 'fit' easily into other tendencies in American poetry at around the same era. Nevermind all that, this is a poet who can't be ignored. In poems that are often elegant, often experimental, with startling humour, startling lyricism and great sensitivity. There is something dramatic in these poems that really engages me. They beg for consideration and response.


ROMAN POLANSKI'S - What? [1972] [DVD]
ROMAN POLANSKI'S - What? [1972] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Marcello Mastroianni
Offered by 101Trading
Price: £7.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Think 'Carry-on' crossed with 'The Tenant' and you're almost there., 28 Nov. 2008
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I must say I am surprised to be the first reviewer of this item. It's been out a couple of weeks now and I've been waiting til I choked down my bafflement before posting here; maybe all the other reviewers are similarily dumb-struck. What is there to say? Well whoever chose the title got it dead on for me because that word was on my lips, silently, all the way through watching.

This dvd presents (supposedly for the first time- but what's this dvd on amazon- que?- if not a previous release, with a better cover at that) for the first time to an english speaking country on dvd Polanski's 'lost film' 'What?'. It feautures bizarre, stylish, very funny performances from Polanski himself, Marcello Mastroianni, Hugh Griffith and others, including Sydne Rome in a terrific performance as the central protagonist Nancy, a nakedly bemused and confusedly nude American traveller who has checked into a beautiful, if gaudy, italian villa that reminds me of the house in Joseph Losey's classic film 'Boom!'. It is filled with reproductions of famous art-works.

The set-dresser is a genius.

All in all this film is glossy and pretty, but nonetheless a frightening psychological-kinky-campy-thrillo-com, ( the psychological part is definitely in a vein that Polanski fans will have syringed before and with glee usually.) It is also a kinky romp that reminds me of Carry-on films, i.e. lusty old men and a willing dumb-beauty. Buy it, open a bottle, and shake your head and bite your nails and giggle through that funny gap in your teeth.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 23, 2009 1:15 AM GMT


Science Is Fiction/The Sounds Of Science [1927] [DVD] [1910]
Science Is Fiction/The Sounds Of Science [1927] [DVD] [1910]
Dvd ~ Antonin Artaud
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £8.98

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars seahorse reproduction and other marvels, 22 Nov. 2008
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i ended my last review with the words 'fascinating and strange' and that seems as good a place as any to start this one. This dvd features a selection of films by Jean Painleve, some from as early as 1927 and through to the late 70s. My favourite film is the one about seahorses. This film, which shows a male seahorse giving birth, is only 17 minutes long and it is JUST EXTRAORDINARY: beautiful, bizarre and 'balletic'. Don't miss the 'love life of the octopus' either.


Karlheinz Stockhausen: Helicopter Quartet [DVD] [2008] [NTSC]
Karlheinz Stockhausen: Helicopter Quartet [DVD] [2008] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Frank Scheffer
Price: £22.87

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nice braces, 22 Nov. 2008
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I can't recommend this film strongly enough. No matter whether you are a disciple or sceptic about Stockhausen's music, it is an extraordinary thing to do to send four musicians up into the air in four separate helicopters and feed this back via a mixing desk into a concerthall with towers of tvs showing them. Watching this film is surreal. I had to pinch myself sometimes, but it is also inspiring: i.e., hey why don't i try to think a bit more outside the box.

The piece that Scheffer interestingl documents is the helicopter string quartet from 1995. It is just one part of Stockhausen's wider exploration of 'space' in music. Stockhausen himself describes the genesis of the piece as coming from a dream that he dared not tell anyone about it was too wacky. Eventually, due to his enthusiasm for the idea of flying and some celestial signs, the piece gets produced. fascinating and strange.


BBC Radiophonic Workshop: A Retrospective
BBC Radiophonic Workshop: A Retrospective

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars stunningly good, 22 Nov. 2008
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this is the best thing i've bought off amazon for a while. i love it, and you will too. i am too young to remember most of these tunes, except for the really famous ones like doctor who but i have this cd in the car and it is such fun to think, 'that sounds like it has to be, oh i don't know, the royal wedding theme', and then find out it is actually 'magic carpet ride' or something.

i really really enjoy listening to this and i would recommend it to everyone. some of these pieces are really,,,,,, beautiful.


Savoury Snacks. A collection of recipes, etc
Savoury Snacks. A collection of recipes, etc
by Ambrose Heath
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars savoury snacks, 21 Nov. 2008
if you manage to get ahold of this book, which is apparently difficult (i got mine on ebay) then I would recommend it. With delicious savoury recipes like 'smoked cod's roe toasts' and 'kipper twists', you will have the wherewithal to throw the most savoury cockail party ever. Let's face it, a daquiri, a manhatten or a cosmo are only as good as the gougere in your fist. (I don't think gougere recipes are in this book but they're my favourite snack).

This book might have been a classic if it hadn't been for considerable ill-luck. It was published in 1939, before rationing came in but after war had broken out, so throwing drinks-parties was far from the good people's minds.


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