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Cherry "Cherry" (South Oxfordshire, England.)

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Great Expectations [DVD] [2012]
Great Expectations [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Helena Bonham Carter
Price: £5.00

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother, go watch the infinitely superior David Lean version instead., 15 May 2013
Dreadful. Truly dreadful. Utterly appalling. A complete dog's breakfast. Following Mike Newell's other notable clunker (2007s "Love in the Time of Cholera", based on Gabriel Garcia Marques' glorious book) it begins to look rather as though he's forging a career of destroying brilliant epic stories by reducing them to considerably less than the sum of their parts.

The murder of Mrs Joe is clumsily glossed over - unfortunate, this, as hers is one of the better performances, and that's not saying much, I fear. The best work here comes almost entirely from the supporting cast - Joe Gargery, Biddy, Wemmick and Herbert Pocket (both young and grown-up incarnations) achieve well-nuanced and deft portrayals.

Among the leading actors, the standout performers are the two Estellas - child and adult. Jeremy Irvine and Rafe Feinnes each turn in solid, if unexciting characterisations, although Fiennes is altogether too fresh-faced for a man who has spent years as a convict and yet more years as a sheep farmer under harsh Australian sun, and his Magwitch is devoid of serious menace. Robbie Coltrane's Jaggers is pallid enough to be almost transparent (see David Suchet's Jaggers to truly understand him); "Molly" is played with the clear, but sadly erroneous conviction that a set jaw and flinty expression will suffice for portrayal of both brutality and emotional torment.

Worst of all: David Walliams' Pumblechook is pathetically, infuriatingly and attention-seekingly camp, and surely must seal his fate as one who will patently never, ever, be able to sufficiently forget himself to be taken seriously as an actor. I've known pork butchers to provide less ham.

I was distracted from Helena Bonham Carter's bizarrely heavy C20th make-up - almost punk! - and provincial-pantomime-appropriate performance (one moment wildly over-acting, the next, barely acting at all - just being herself) only by the woeful inaccuracies in the film. One particularly irritating example: when taking Joe to a London inn to eat, and rebuking him for allowing the rim of his wine-glass to touch his nose, Pip himself eats his soup exactly as a 21st century middle class oik does - by drawing the soup spoon towards him, rather than away, and putting the whole bowl of the spoon in his mouth - utterly unthinkable for even a half-educated mid-C19th gentleman. Please, if you're going to highlight social conventions, at least do so consistently, and "of the period"!

Costume and hair are passable, if unexciting, but another travesty - the "jewels" Estella keeps reverentially mentioning are actually hopelessly over-the-top paste, and to me (a jewellery historian by profession) clearly entirely devoid of the quality of manufacture and delicacy of workmanship so ubiquitous in genuine pieces of fine jewellery of the time. Several of the colours were, frankly, garishly impossible, given the more limited palette of gemstones and cutting processes then available to jewellers.

And, horror of horrors... who on earth deemed it necessary for Biddy to hurl herself at Pip? Are we, the audience, deemed to be so much creatures of our own time that we're entirely unable to conceive that a young country girl might just have possessed enough modesty and self-control to refrain from making an entirely unsolicited assault on the person of any moderately good-looking young man with whom she happened to be left alone for a few moments? Do, please, credit those of us sitting out here in the dark with a little understanding of the mores and conventions of societies other than our own! They may behave like that in the streets of Kent's towns every Saturday night now (more's the pity)... but not then.

Seems like everyone came at this with their own agenda, and never bothered to compare notes, or to measure up their own agendas against that of Dickens. If I'd invested in this travesty, I'd now be seriously repenting my investment - not because of the money, but because of the poverty of experience and sheer wrong-headedness that the result provides.

Not a patch on the David Lean version which, although itself not quite perfect, at least managed to avoid the unforgivable sin of being self-indulgent. This film isn't just a failure, it's a parody. I fervently wish I could un-see it, and would have given it a minus 5-star rating, had that option been available.


Scandal [DVD]
Scandal [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Hurt
Price: £5.95

1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressed, 12 Feb 2012
This review is from: Scandal [DVD] (DVD)
I'd hoped for an intelligent movie. Alas... this made me feel dirty and voyeuristic, but I suppose the title should have prepared me for the fact that this would be an exploration of the grubby and salacious parts of the story, as well as a justification of the hedonistic lifestyles that led to it. These are exploited to the full, whereas the numerous personal tragedies are glossed over in a transparent attempt to whitewash Ward, who, while he may not have been guilty of living on immoral earnings, was certainly a nasty and deviant character. Even his suicide is played as a calculated dramatic flourish, rather than a desperate tragedy. And what of the true innocents whose lives were blighted/destroyed.. Valerie Hobson and Mrs Keeler, to name but two? (Jean Alexander, as Keeler's mother, gives one of the very few solid performances in the film - and she does it in two or three brief scenes.) Bridget Fonda's is the only one of the primary characters whose performance rings true. Ian McKellan, with hooded eyes and a laughable wig, looks like an extra from an amateur production of The Mikado, and is as one-dimensional as it's possible to be without actually being a cardboard cut-out - I searched in vain for any whisper of the man who went on to redeem himself by cleaning toilets for an East End charity. My very strong advice would be - don't bother.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2013 4:12 PM GMT


The People Vs Larry Flynt (Special Edition) [DVD] [2003]
The People Vs Larry Flynt (Special Edition) [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Woody Harrelson
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £6.45

3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Whitewash, 2 Sep 2011
I bought this movie (knowing little about Larry Flynt) becasue I'm a fan of Ed Norton. Despite good (if unchallenging) performances by Norton and Courtney Love - I omit Harrelson's deliberately, because I think he was distinctly pedestrian in it - I was really disturbed by the film's agenda. My curiosity was first piqued by the singularly one-dimensional portrayal of Jerry Falwell (of whom I'm no supporter) as a smug and sanctimonious party-pooper. The film certainly seems to continue where Flynt left off in heaping ridicule upon Falwell. In that regard, if it doesn't have a hidden agenda, it certainly seems to have one that's wearing a heavy disguise. Flynt himself said of Falwell, after the latter's death "My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends. He would visit me in California and we would debate together on college campuses. I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling." This picture of Falwell - and in particular, his sincerity - is entirely absent from the movie (apart from a brief clip in the "Special Features" where Falwell himself appears, to endorse the correct mimicking of his appearance and mannerisms in his portrayal - while, significantly, obviously not having seen the film.)

Yet more disturbing was the blame laid at the door of Gloria Steinem, again in the "Special Features" interviews, for upsetting the film's trajectory to financial success. Harrelson directly criticises her, saying that her observations were made without having seen the movie (despite the fact that articles she wrote about it describe scenes in detail.) I found this allegation so very unlikely that I went looking for what she'd written about the movie and was shocked, but much illuminated, by what I found.

I had been in danger of swallowing whole the film's lie of omission that Flynt's magazine "Hustler" was harmless titlllation. Not so. Steinem writes: "In this film, produced by Oliver Stone and directed by Milos Forman, Hustler is depicted as tacky at worst, and maybe even honest for showing full nudity. What's left out are the magazine's images of women being beaten, tortured and raped, women subject to degradations from bestiality to sexual slavery. Filmgoers don't see such Hustler features as "Dirty Pool," which in January 1983 depicted a woman being gang-raped on a pool table. A few months after those pictures were published, a woman was gang-raped on a pool table in New Bedford, Mass. Mr. Flynt's response to the crime was to publish a postcard of another nude woman on a pool table, this time with the inscription, "Greetings from New Bedford, Mass. The Portuguese Gang-Rape Capital of America." "

I looked further, and, sparing you the very ugly detail, the lady ain't lyin'. Even Flynt's (now disinherited and estranged) daughter, Tonya, was so alarmed by this film's dishonesty that she joined women who picketed its opening in San Francisco. She also publicly accused Mr. Flynt of having sexually abused her when she was a child (a charge he vehemently denies, and attributes to her "mental problems.") "I'm upset about this film because it supports my dad's argument that pornography does no harm," she said. "If you want to see a victim of pornography, just look at me."

For me, despite being mildly entertaining, this film falls into the category of films I most despise: the category entitled "Hollywood Re-writes History". I wish I'd known all THAT before I paid good money for this movie. But you live and learn, eh?
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 28, 2014 12:06 AM GMT


The Six Wives Of Henry VIII [DVD]
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Starkey
Price: £6.90

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 13 May 2011
Thoroughly accessible history from Starkey, although it was somewhat disconcerting to find that the bride who was known to have been the least attractive (Anne of Cleves) was portrayed by the most attractive actress, by far, of the six! I'd have liked a little more reference to contemporary texts to back up Starkey's views, but, that apart, a throughly enjoyable slice of history delivered in bite-sized and easily digestible chunks. If you want in-depth and scholarly, it's not for you, but a creditable and - as far as one can tell - sound precis of the facts.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 25, 2013 8:12 PM BST


James Stewart Silver Screen Collection [DVD]
James Stewart Silver Screen Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Stewart

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Atrocious sound quality..., 27 Mar 2010
... on 'Made for Each Other', so much so that I'd have used the subtitles, had there been any. Not fit for purpose.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2011 3:41 PM BST


Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North
Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North
by Stuart Maconie
Edition: Paperback

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move over Alan Bennett..., 28 Feb 2010
... the Nation's baton of wit is passing to a Lancashire lad (and not a moment too soon - Bennett's work has long been far too formulaic, self-important and contrived.)

This isn't just laugh out loud funny, it's a book which requires special precautions if you suffer from bladder weakness. A "sandgrown 'un" myself, I headed first for the chapter which includes Blackpool, and the opening remark - 'I don't remember anything before Blackpool. A lot of people have probably said that, as they lie in intensive care, waiting for a stomach pump' - is the most perfect summing up in a sentence of my fabulous-but-fatally-flawed home town, making me laugh in a way that gave me, for the first time ever, a full understanding of why we call that a 'burst' of laughter.

The effervescent wit of Maconie is all the better for the unpretentious, unselfconscious, simply natural flow of his writing; I'm a former English teacher, and do not say that lightly. There's tenderness, too, but not mawkishness, and romance without over-sentimentality. Better yet, there's not a trace of the other fatal flaw seen all too often in the works of professional northerners like Bennett, Bragg, et al - the irresistible urge to flaunt an Oxbridge education; this is because Maconie didn't have one. (He's not likely to develop such a flaw, either, thank goodness, because an honorary Masters Degree from Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, isn't exactly the sort of thing one's ever likely to want to boast about...) Nor is there the reverse snobbery they're often guilty of, either, and Maconie's writing is the better for seeking to prove nothing either way.

This is a work rooted in the simple joy of writing, coupled with the undoubted blessing of having been born a northerner. I get it, Stuart, and I really wish I'd written it!


Funny Girl / Funny Lady [Widescreen] - 2 Disc Box Set [DVD] [2002]
Funny Girl / Funny Lady [Widescreen] - 2 Disc Box Set [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Barbra Streisand
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £19.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No use to the deaf or hard of hearing..., 28 Feb 2010
Superb movies, with Barbra at the peak of her powers - and, yes, beauty, because somehow her face is always more than the sum of its parts.

BUT... and it's a big but for those with hearing difficulties... neither of these DVDs, listed as subtitled, has subtitles for the musical numbers. This is an issue because in both cases the action is explained or moved along by the lyrics. In one song from 'Funny Lady' we have Barb singing in the dark, so even the possibility of lip-reading is denied.

Huge, HUGE minus, and money wasted.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2010 10:36 PM GMT


Property
Property
by Valerie Martin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity, 22 Aug 2009
This review is from: Property (Paperback)
Slavery is an issue that forced itself on my family history, so I approached this novel with some eagerness; I was really disappointed at the waste of an excellent opportunity.

Reading 'Property' seemed to me a wasted effort, for it falls way short of the mark. Other reviewers have outlined the plot - which does have enough compelling moments to sustain one's interest - but the far too rapid and ultimately unresolved ending was frustrating in the extreme, as if the author had suddenly realised that she couldn't bring enough of the loose ends together to make a coherent conclusion, so threw them all down in exasperation that the characters had taken on lives of their own and had spiralled out of her control.

Most unsatisfactory, and not least because there's the shadow of an excellent plot here, but the characterisation is very one-dimensional (they're all equally distasteful) and the key scenes so sparely drawn as to be sketchy at some points. Very, very disappointing. I won't trouble to read more of this author's work. The other entries for the Orange must have been really dire that year.


Lazy Eye
Lazy Eye
by Donna Daley-Clarke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exquisitely crafted!, 26 Aug 2008
This review is from: Lazy Eye (Paperback)
I bought this book to read in tandem with Ian McEwan's 'Cement Garden' which has a similar theme and time-frame. The McEwan book has twenty or so rave reviews on Amazon UK, but I found it sordid, derivative and - unforgivably - very sloppily written, whereas this is both original, and simply and beautifully executed. This novel knocked the McEwan into a cocked hat, and this is sadly a reflection of the state of the publishing industry today, where anything by an 'enfent terrible' that just might get made into a movie is promoted way, way beyond anything of real quality.


Falling [DVD]
Falling [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Kitchen

13 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ugh!, 30 Jun 2008
This review is from: Falling [DVD] (DVD)
I utterly LOATHED this piece, despite adoring Michael Kitchen and recognising the subatantial talents of Penelope Wilton. It was a close examination of a fairly exploitative relationship, specifically that of a nasty, ultimately violent user with an unbelievably naive and rather spineless woman.
It didn't hang together: Daisy (daft name for a middle-aged woman) was highly intelligent, poised, confident and competent when with her friends in London, but the moment she set foot in Yorkshire, she turned into a completely limp and fragile flower, stupidly opening her home, her bedroom door and ultimately her heart for a bloke she barely knows and who was transparently ingratiating himself in a most suspicious and oleagenous manner. Has she completely lost her ability to ask even one intelligent question? Never mind 'Tell me about your relationship with Daphne, Henry?' What about 'How do you earn a living, Henry, when you're wasting all your time here making toast for me?' 'Where are your friends, Henry? Your family?' 'Why are you there every time I turn round, Henry - are you stalking me???'
Kitchen's performance was stilted, relying far too heavily on the facial tics for which he is famous. At times, he looked embarrassed at being cast as so utterly black-hearted a villain, with not a single discernable redeeming characteristic. Ms Wilton just looked unconprehending, as though she couldn't quite believe that she'd been paid good money to speak the vacuous lines she was called upon to utter.
There was nothing at all to redeem this sad and very ugly drama. There was nothing there to make me care about either character. My recommendation? Save your money and go watch the Coronation Street Omnibus inatead - it's far better-written dialogue.


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