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the treepster (Devon)

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Private Peaceful [DVD] [2012]
Private Peaceful [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ George Mackay
Price: £24.04

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A QUIET FILM WITH A LOT TO SAY, 16 Nov. 2012
Private Peaceful is an adaptation of a source book originally written for older children but providing a powerful and intensely humane commentary on what it is to be human.

It invites us to consider how we can be so eminently capable of learning while finding it so hard to learn. The film is understated and eloquent and very well played by a distinguished cast. It is beautifully shot so that we don't miss Devon too much, and has a very evocative score.

I was tempted to say that it could hardly fail to be moving, but that would manifestly be untrue and a disservice to the screenwriters. If the adaptation does not always completely capture the power of the book, it may simply be because a film is not a book and shouldn't try to be one, and because the emotional impact of the source material here is breathtakingly strong.

It is interesting to compare the film of Private Peaceful with Steven Spielberg's high Hollywood take on Michael Morpurgo's War Horse. The source book is no less powerful, though Spielberg did face a daunting task in further adapting a story which had already been translated into a stunningly successful theatre piece, where the sheer emotional power of puppets for horses somehow caught the spirit of the book while distilling it for the stage.

War Horse was a film I desperately wanted to love but found I could only like, and the sure touch Spielberg brought to 'Schindler's List' seemed to elude him here at crucial times. On balance the film just survived its misjudgements, but they did stop it being what it might so easily have been, and that was a chance lost.

I can also never quite forgive an honest Dartmoor farmhouse being turned into the sort of gingerbread confection which troublesome children often seem inclined to eat in fairy tales, though I have to question whether this is just the rejection felt by another Devon architect who wasn't asked to be a production consultant.

Oh, and if those sunsets were real, they really did need taming artificially.

So the film of Private Peaceful, while not perfect, offers much to admire, and although it may be destined for a somewhat limited theatrical release, I would really recommend people to seek it out in any format.

For its honesty and humility and its messages of hope in the face of shame, pity and pain. And for all those young men who now have some justice at last, thanks in part to books and films like this.

We know that less is often more, and I think the fact that this film is more successful than its much grander Hollywood companion is a real tribute to all concerned.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2012 6:53 AM GMT

El Mirage
El Mirage

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Webb reborn, 4 Jan. 2010
This review is from: El Mirage (Audio CD)
This is about 4 point nine stars really, because there are three or four really great songs here. But the production occasionally seems just a bit too much, and you wish you could be left to listen to "The Highwayman" and "The Moon's A Harsh Mistress" with a little less company.

In this respect the album may just fall short of the balance of 'Lands End'.

Nevertheless "Highwayman" is a revelation, particularly if you only knew it in the renowned version by Cash, Jennings, Nelson and Kristofferson which for some reason seems to edit the melody into something less convincing than the one here.

You have to persevere with George Martin's busy arrangement and strings, which are fine but hardly essential. For the distilled essence of the song you may need to seek out the late maturing 'Ten Easy Pieces', but the chance to have more than one 'songwriter' version of a song as original as this has to be a luxury.

A worthwhile album, incidentally containing a song written for a beloved child which does not have the listener recoiling in toe-curling embarrassment. A rare distinction and a tribute to the writer.


5.0 out of 5 stars Good for the oboes but hard on the cellos, 4 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Letters (Audio CD)
Completing the trio of early Seventies Jimmy Webb albums, 'Letters' offers some terrific songs.

If you seek originality in love songs you really need to listen to "Simile", with Webb putting into words feelings you may have had but couldn't express. Jimmy can, apparently, making you feel envious and grateful at the same time. He has a knack for weaving lyrics round subjects you didn't think could carry a song.

And then he hits you with what "Galveston" might actually be, as opposed to what you had become used to thinking it was. The long and subtly shaded guitar introduction from Fred Tackett has you wondering what's going on, and then they show you. However much you liked Glen's version, there are things here he did not find. It's masterly stuff.

Words and Music
Words and Music
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £34.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Better Get Out of LA, 4 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Words and Music (Audio CD)
More challenging and apocalyptic stuff from the early Webb songbook, with songs like "Jerusalem" maybe giving an inkling of what the fringes of cutting edge music in LA must have been like at the beginning of the Seventies.

Can be read along with "Letters" and "And So On" as seminal works in the forging of a lasting and original talent. Fred Tackett much in evidence again. Low budget maybe, but high on just about everything else.

And So: On
And So: On

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Early Surprises from Jimmy Webb, 4 Jan. 2010
This review is from: And So: On (Audio CD)
One of three early 70s albums which may have surprised or even shocked those who knew Jimmy Webb only for songs like "Up Up and Away" and "By the Time I get to Phoenix."

Sparse arrangements suggest limited funds but the ingenuity of Fred Tackett's multiple input matches the challenging originality of the material. Jimmy's vocal technique is individual at best, but you can forgive a lot to hear an important songwriter's take on his own songs.

There are really interesting ideas on show here, both lyrically and musically, and in "If Ships Were Made To Sail" we are offered a masterpiece in miniature. Economy and vision, with a lyric that seems to speak on many different levels. How can it not be better known?

In retrospect, songs like this can be seen as signposts to a long career of sustained invention which continues today. Good to know this early stuff is still available. It remains well worth checking out.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterworks.....up the long night reach to time gone, 3 Jan. 2010
It would be difficult to overstate the significance of Jimmy Webb in popular songwriting, but it would also be a great loss if appreciation of his work were to be confined to the better known recordings of his better known songs.

The variety and originality of his broader work is remarkable and confirms his place in a generation of important and innovative writers like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, among many. There is therefore much to admire here for established fans and explorers alike, with intimate, inventive songs full of emotion and experience of life.

This is a thoughtfully assembled package reflecting the quality of the work on show, and which has already attained something of a rarity value because of its limited edition. One can only hope for a similarly well chosen collection dedicated to Webb's later work in due course.

Soft Sea Blue
Soft Sea Blue
Price: £14.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy yet neglected, 3 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Soft Sea Blue (Audio CD)
A low key but really attractive collection from two genuinely talented musicians, with understated and original takes on some classic songs from important writers.

I know someone who had a minor credit for some lyrics on the album. No royalties, but the reward was to have his name on an album which mentioned the likes of Jimmy Webb on the same piece of vinyl, if not in the same breath.

Now on CD years later....maybe it's a sleeper.

Julie Mairs has a really interesting voice and is clearly a budding stylist here. As for Chris Stowell....well, don't you just hate talented multi-instrumentalists!

Give it a's never too late.

Paul Williams-Just An Old Fashioned Love
Paul Williams-Just An Old Fashioned Love
Price: £15.06

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD now please!, 3 Jan. 2010
I bought this on vinyl back in the early 70s, after watching a terrific concert on BBC which memory assures me featured the whole album....though this may be the rose-tinted spectacles again, it's a long time ago!

I think it may have been an 'Old Grey Whistle Test' Special, but anyway it had Lee Sklar on bass and Russ Kunkel on drums, and with a rhythm section like that it could only sound good. It did and so did Paul Williams, a really distinctive singer, even if his subsequent Phantom of the Opera turn was scarier than Karloff, Chaney and Lee rolled into one.

Did the Beeb wipe the tape? If not could they issue a DVD forthwith please. Oh, and the bearded Jimmy Webb solo Special from around the same time, and...........

Price: £12.82

5.0 out of 5 stars Happy to have Clouds and Rain for once, 3 Jan. 2010
This review is from: First (Audio CD)
It's true. This could be a perfectly pleasant 3/4 star album until the 5 star weather forecast arrives in Clouds and Rain.

You can't help wondering what might have happened if David Gates had worked out how to do this all the time, but we must be truly thankful that he managed to do it once.

And the original vinyl still works!

Land's End
Land's End
Offered by
Price: £21.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turn on to Jimmy Webb, 3 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Land's End (Audio CD)
I find it hard to believe that this is the first Amazon review for this terrific classic album, which like most of the songwriter's self-performed work, seems to have reached fewer people than it might have.

I bought this album on vinyl when first issued long, long ago, and it was my introduction to the World of Webb beyond the songs everybody knew. My younger self was blown away by the songs and the emotional weight of their delivery. Jimmy was clearly not going to challenge Mr Sinatra in the voice stakes, but there are notes in songs that sometimes only seem to sound for the people who wrote them.

That seemed to be the story here, and the feeling has followed through in later work.

Good orchestrations too, with everything seeming fresh and confident before George Martin may have slightly overcooked "The Highwayman" on 'El Mirage.' (How comforting that this could even happen to him occasionally!)

Standout track would probably have to be the stunning synthesiser rich "Lands End" evolving into "Asleep on the Wind". I can remember marvelling at how you could record a love song as good as this with such heavy drumming. I still do.

Once heard, never forgotten. It's not too late.........

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