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critical_bill (UK)

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Who On Earth Is Tom Baker ? :
Who On Earth Is Tom Baker ? :
by Tom Baker
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is it bad to be left wanting more?, 3 Jun. 2007
I've been a huge fan of Tom Baker since my childhood exposure to his wonderfully charismatic performance as Doctor Who in the 70s. I bought this autobiography to enjoy his personality once again and find out more about his perspective and experiences, especially during his time with the show that made him a household name. Having finished reading the book last week, I was left with mixed feelings, though this partly reflects the great affection I feel for the guy.

His legendary irreverence shines through enjoyably during the telling of his story and there are several memorable anecdotes, especially during his early years. In fact, his childhood, education and early career are explored in satisfying depth whereas his glory days as the Doctor feel disappointingly glossed over, despite seven years of potential material to mine. His stint on the show is characterised as one long adrenaline rush - he obviously relished the fame, the admiration of children and parents, and the attention of groupies - but I wanted more anecdotes about the show itself as well as his relationships with cast and crew. These elements are treated rather perfunctorily.

Finally, the period from the end of his Who to the present day makes for a very dull read, mostly consisting as it does of vaguely recalled episodes of heavy drinking in London pubs. I think even Tom himself had become bored by this part of the book. In fact, the sense I have is of a

book that was begun with an enthusiasm and energy that gradually evaporated as he worked his way through his life.

Unexpectedly, there is a regularly recurring sadness and resignation at his own failings, especially in his relationships. I admired his honesty here and I related to his sense of feeling terribly vulnerable to the whims of others but I would dearly liked to have been allowed more detail. For instance, the story of his first marriage is never quite concluded, while his marriage to the gorgeous and witty Lalla Ward is covered in just a few sentences. Perhaps such aspects or events were simply too uncomfortable for Tom to revisit.

I don't agree with the book jacket's claim that it stands comparison with Spike Milligan's autobiography, which is a far more developed and sustained piece of writing. However, it's certainly worth a read if you're already a Baker fan and want to fill some of the gaps in your understanding of his career, or be reacquainted with his wonderfully skewed perspective.

Rendez-Vous [DVD]
Rendez-Vous [DVD]
Dvd ~ Juliette Binoche
Price: £9.40

22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Painful, 10 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Rendez-Vous [DVD] (DVD)
Ugly cinematography, embarrassing dialogue, unpleasant characters; even the subtitles were strewn with errors. It probably didn't help that I watched Rendez-vous straight after Claude Sautet's glorious Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud, a tough act for any to follow.

At least the actors appear to give it their all. Perhaps Techine had convinced them they would be starring in a film of importance and profundity rather than the pretentious, bone-headed nonsense that actually resulted.

Finally, if your interest is primarily an unobscured view of Ms Binoche's lovely form then I recommend instead the infinitely [..] The Unbearable Lightness of Being, also available on DVD.

Gurdjieff/Hartmann: Piano Works, Vol.1 [IMPORT]
Gurdjieff/Hartmann: Piano Works, Vol.1 [IMPORT]
Price: £23.80

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How d'you like your Gurdjieff?, 26 April 2006
I've bought two albums of Gurdjieff's music from Amazon: Music for the Movements (played by Wim van Dullemen) and this one. Which you prefer will likely depend upon how you like these minimal yet melodic compositions performed. My own preference is for a quiet, contemplative approach and for this reason I prefer Music for the Movements. Cecil Lytle, the pianist here, is obviously skilled and plays with feeling, but seems, to my (no doubt philistine) ears overfond of pounding the keys. On the other hand, perhaps this was the approach intended by the composers. Either way, if you don't mind such an aggressive attack you might wish to give it a try, otherwise I would recommend Music for the Movements as it's generally a lot more mellow.

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