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Alec Tronn (London)

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Billion Dollar Caine
Billion Dollar Caine

5.0 out of 5 stars Not a lot of people know this..., 9 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Billion Dollar Caine (Audio CD)
It may seem strange for a soundtrack compilation to be based around the work of an actor like Michael Caine, as opposed to a composer or director, but Billion Dollar Caine (on the Top Kapi label) works incredibly well. It helps that the movies it draws from (Get Carter, Alfie, Billion Dollar Brain, The Italian Job and The Ipcress File) are all from Caine's heyday as a supercool swinging 60's icon, and these tunes were all written by some of the greatest composers of the time - Roy Budd, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach, and the superlative John Barry - so it's a high quailty selection throughout. Add to that Caine's own vocal interjections between the tracks ("Yes Sir, I Will Miss That Sir" is a personal favourite), and you have an excellent hour in the company of one of the UK's best-loved movie stars...
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Diary of a Teddy Boy : A Memoir of the Long Sixties
Diary of a Teddy Boy : A Memoir of the Long Sixties
by Mim Scala
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Actually, more "Diary of a Hippy Traveller", 19 Dec. 2012
The first half of this memoir of a semi-hidden swinging sixties "face" is excellent, a tremendously evocative conjuring of late-50s and early-60s London, well-told and anecdotal, an almost parallel story of the times to that told by Andrew Loog Oldham in his own autobiography, "Stoned." However, once converted to flower power, our author hits the hippy trail, and the rest of the book is a tiresome cycle of drug-taking and supposed spiritual insights, which while undoubtedly sincere, could have happily been condensed into a chapter or two. Things pick up in the final stretch once Scala returns to London to become a record industry figure, but it's covered all-too-briefly, and comes to an ending so sudden I suspect some major editing to have taken place. Half an excellent book!

Nice to See It, To See It, Nice: The 1970s in Front of the Telly
Nice to See It, To See It, Nice: The 1970s in Front of the Telly
by Brian Viner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less BV, more TV, please., 29 Aug. 2012
I was hugely disappointed with this book, which I expected to be far more informative than just the expanded pub chat about 70's television in the UK which this proved to be. Author Brian Viner seems a nice enough chap, but this is really a disguised autobiography with the accent on his favourite TV shows, as opposed to a book about TV with some added personal reminiscences. I knew this wasn't an encyclopedia, but it's incomplete and inaccurate (e.g. the cars with gullwing doors were in "UFO", not "Space: 1999"), and moreover is about 25% TV to 75% BV (Brian Viner) and that ratio should be at least the other way round... it's an inoffensive enough read (hence me giving it 2 stars rather than 1) but very light going indeed.

Clean [2004] [DVD]
Clean [2004] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Maggie Cheung
Price: £4.77

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less than the sum of its parts, 20 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Clean [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
The story of an ex-MTV presenter living with an ex-rock star, whose child lives with her in-laws in Vancouver... the rock star dies of an overdose, the TV star spends 6 months in jail, then jets between Paris, London & San Franciso to the sounds of Brian Eno, while trying to stay "clean", get a record deal, and access to her son. I'm sure we can all relate to that, especially with Maggie Cheung playing the world's most gorgeous recovering heroin addict, Nick Nolte phoning it in to get a free holiday in Paris & London, and the rest of the cast attempting to set the Olympic smoking record... it's not a bad film per se, just the kind of movie that's clearly been made by someone who's spent too long with the media crowd in Cannes and thinks that this is "real life".

Death Proof [DVD]
Death Proof [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kurt Russell
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.96

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dafter pooh, 20 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Death Proof [DVD] (DVD)
Evidently the result of Quentin Tarantino trying to write a whole film around the admittedly impressive talents of stuntwoman Zoe Bell, this is an ordeal from start to finish. The "story" is weak and slow, and Tarantino's "trademark" dialogue is overworked and plain boring. The 70's exploitation movies Tarantino is paying "tribute" to here tried to be good and failed - he's tried to make a bad film and succeeded only too well. Do yourself a favour and avoid this dreadful, dreadful movie.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Nassim Taleb
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the Gladwell-alike it wants to be..., 10 July 2009
A word of warning to anyone who might be tempted to buy "The Black Swan" after reading any of Malcolm Gladwell's superficially similar books - don't!!

Taleb spends the book castigating those who use anecdote and graphs to prove spurious points, before going on to do the exact same thing himself. He even spends a whole subsection telling us about a person who exemplifies the notion of The Black Swan, and then admits in the next chapter that she's fictional!

On top of which, the persona Taleb adopts throughout the book (which may or may not reflect his real-life personality) is annoying in the extreme - smug, patronising and condescending - which, in tandem with the faux academic langauage, makes this very heavy going indeed.

Which isn't to say there's nothing interesting here - there is. It's just a single idea, but told in such a dull way, and repeated ad nauseam, that it seems twice as long as it is - one of those books where once you've read the blurb and a sample chapter, you've had the best of it.

The Unknown Soldier
The Unknown Soldier
by Gerald Seymour
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Ambiguous" or "Shaggy Dog"? You decide..., 5 Sept. 2008
This review is from: The Unknown Soldier (Hardcover)
I would never have even picked up this book under normal circumstances, but a friend recently found himself in a foreign hospital for a while, and from their very limited library of English-language books read this and recommended it to me on his return... and I'm frankly sorry he did, because this is really just a very (very!) long shaggy dog story (minor spoilers follow.)

"Torn from today's headlines" it may be, but this is a tale driven by coincidence and ridiculous character motivations (it's the first book I've read in a long while that uses the notion of "love at first sight" with no irony whatsoever to trigger a huge plot shift.)

I'd have been far more interested in a whole novel based on the efforts of the UK and US agents travelling the UK to identify the terrorist, but sadly this was sidelined into a minor subplot, which in the end didn't even impact on the main story. Seymour can clearly write, but the story structure (is he paid by the word?) and characterisations could have done with a lot of editing, and the annoyingly inconclusive ending (sequel-friendly as it is) compounds the bad impression... no more for me I'm afraid!

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