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Thriller Connoisseur London (London)

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Up Pompeii : The Complete BBC Collection
Up Pompeii : The Complete BBC Collection
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £24.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Fresh and Enjoyable, 19 Aug. 2012
I saw 'Up Pompeii' as a young teenager when it was first broadcast. I used to wait avidly for it each week. I am happy to say that it remains fresh after all these decades. Frankie Howerd is at the zenith of his comedic powers and is very likeable and engaging as the slave Lurkio. He always makes you feel that he is your friend, sharing some salacious gossip with you. All the other main performers are excellent too. There are many 'laugh-out-loud' moments. This is definitely a 'feel-good' show. Even the lighting (nice and bright and cheery) makes one feel happy - an antidote to the depression that can easily set in during an English winter! If you like Frankie Howerd, you will surely like 'Up Pompeii'.

Nostromo [VHS] [1997]
Nostromo [VHS] [1997]

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Drama, with Superb Music, 11 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Nostromo [VHS] [1997] (VHS Tape)
It is so sad that this, the only filmed version of 'Nostromo', has never been transferred to DVD and is generally not easy to obtain. I am lucky enough to have bought the original VHS tapes shortly after watching this excellent mini-series on television in England back in the 1990s when it was first shown. As a teenager I had read Conrad's 'Nostromo' and found it rather turgid and difficult to understand, due to the compexities and convolutions of the plot. But this TV version is eminently watchable and definitely aids in the understanding of the original text (to which I hope soon to return). I found myself glued to this great story of corruption, greed, hypocrisy and venal human weaknesses, and this fascination was brought about by the first-rate acting of the leading characters (Albert Finney in particular is, as always, ablaze with humanity, foibles, yet inner integrity), backed up by marvellously evocative and touching music specially composed by the unique Ennio Morricone. Particular praise should go to Claudio Amendola, who plays the eponymous anti-hero: despite acting in a foreign language (he is Italian), he oozes sexual charisma and screen presence. He is masculine sex appeal on two legs - perfectly cast for this version of 'Nostromo'. The actor who portrays Captain Mitchell is also very fine. In fact, I did not find one actor who seemed miscast: everyone is splendid, and the ending of the story may well have you in tears, due to the first-class acting and the supreme music of Ennio Morricone. I recommend this VHS (which has rather good colour for its age) without hesitation. It is most suited for viewers who are drawn to dramas dealing in the imperfections of man, and which yet give examples of rich humanity even in the midst of moral weakness and degradation. I am happy to give this marvellous version of 'Nostromo' a full 5 stars.

Romeo And Juliet [DVD] [1968]
Romeo And Juliet [DVD] [1968]
Dvd ~ Leonard Whiting
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £12.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection!, 5 Feb. 2011
This is, in my opinion (and I lecture on Shakespeare at university), the best version of 'Romeo and Juliet' that has ever been filmed. It is sheer perfection. The performances of the leads are superlative and the music is utterly enchanting and heart-wrenching. I advise serious students and lovers of Shakespeare to watch this film rather than the dreadfully acted Leonardo DiCaprio version. Zeffirelli and his actors run rings round all other competitors. I give this film a full five stars. It deserves every one of them.

Romeo + Juliet [DVD] [1996]
Romeo + Juliet [DVD] [1996]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.98

14 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Appalling, 5 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Romeo + Juliet [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
I came to this film with an open mind. I lecture on 'Romeo and Juliet' regularly at university and was well prepared to give this film a friendly viewing. I thought that its updating could be very effective (as with Bernstein's 'West Side Story'), and, indeed, the first few minutes of the film were extremely impressive (visually) and well acted, I thought. Tybalt was especially charismatic and menacing. But what a huge disappointment the performances of Leo DiCaprio and his Juliet proved to be: they seemed neither to fully understand the words they were speaking, nor to care or 'feel' them. Everything was shallow, slick, superficial, and the dialogue was delivered without inner engagement and with horrible diction. I was appalled. Almost as bad was that the director changed the ending of the story, so that Romeo is still alive as Juliet wakes up from her seeming death-sleep. This is not what Shakespeare wrote and is taking liberties with the text. For a salutary contrast to this overall awful film I can only recommend the masterly film version of this great story that was produced in the late 1960s by Franco Zeffirelli: Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey are superb as the hero and heroine - full of youthful naturalness and utterly convincing emotion. The music, too, is heart-wrenchingly beautiful and has become a classic. I think Leo DiCaprio (who has shown himself to be a good actor in other films) and Claire Danes (not sure of her spelling) should study the Zeffirelli film to see how beautifully and convincingly the leading roles can be performed. Of course I am massively in the minority on, with most people seemingly loving the Leonardo version. What can I say? I just found his acting dreadful, flat, and shallow. I could not believe in his Romeo for an instant. I think he (and his Juliet) were totally miscast. Still, these things are very subjective. Other people adore this film - so who am I to say they are wrong? Each to his own. But this version of 'Romeo and Juliet' (despite some impressive visuals) was certainly not for me.

Straight On Till Morning [DVD]
Straight On Till Morning [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rita Tushingham
Offered by Rikdev Media
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly Acted Film, 28 Nov. 2010
I agree with the reviewer who found this a very fine film indeed. I, too, feel that the film is very attention-holding and unusual for a 'Hammer horror' (employing, as it does, intelligent cross-cutting of flashback scenes and 'now' sequences, plus a contemporary look and feel to the society depicted). It is brilliantly acted by Shane Briant (whom some will find incredibly sexy and appealing, with his androgynous appearance) and Rita Tushingham, as the well-intentioned but hopelessly naive, lonely dreamer. One feels pity and compassion for both of these characters. The story uses clever reverse patterning (Rita's character is the girl who is unhappy because she is so 'unattractive', while Shane's character is deeply disturbed because he is so gorgeous!). The commentary on this DVD is disappointing, however, as it is somewhat superficial, and it is true that Sothcote (not sure of the spelling of his name!) does indeed make a few factual / interpretative errors (one gets the feeling that he had not studied the film very carefully before discussing it with Rita Tushingham). The film's theme song is very atmospheric, I think, and the music generally is quite evocative of the period. In any case, I recommend the film to anyone who likes a good psychological thriller and is able to feel compassion for those (however evil or demented) on the margins of 'normal' or sane society.

The Witches [DVD] [1966]
The Witches [DVD] [1966]
Dvd ~ Joan Fontaine
Price: £5.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Film Excellently Acted, 24 Nov. 2010
This review is from: The Witches [DVD] [1966] (DVD)
I first saw this film on 'Pay TV' (British Relay) in London back in the 1960s (shortly after the film came out) and have remembered it all my life. It is good. Joan Fonataine's performance is excellent - so full of sensitivity and compassion, she comes across as a truly good and caring woman - the very best side of the English, one feels. The other leading players are also first-rate. The film has a lot of atmosphere, and I think this is one of the best features of Hammer films - a blend of homeliness and growing unease. It is true that this film is not in the least 'scary', but it is carried mainly by Joan Fontaine's utterly committed performance. Why she was disappointed with the finished product, I really cannot imagine. I am not. I recommend it to anyone who feels willing to identify with a well-intentioned but highly-strung headmistress doing her best in a village beset by witchcraft. The humanity of Joan Fontaine shines through in almost every scene. Yes, I recommend it as a gentle and interesting, sensitive 'horror' film (without much horror!).

The Sherlock Holmes Collection Box Set [DVD]
The Sherlock Holmes Collection Box Set [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Cushing
Price: £9.00

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best 'Baskervilles', 28 July 2010
I saw the entirety of this BBC series when it was first broadcast in England back in 1968. I thought it extremely fine then, and still think the same today. For me, Peter Cushing IS Sherlock Holmes. He had the perfect features and perfect voice for the part. Many people prefer Jeremy Brett, but in my opinion Brett was sometimes excessively camp and over-the-top, and physically he sometimes looked too podgy and bloated for Holmes (certainly this is the case in the Brett 'Baskervilles'). But Cushing is just ideal (closely rivalled only by Basil Rathbone). The BBC 'Hound of the Baskervilles' is surprisingly good - really atmospheric and well acted. It ranks, in my view, as the second best screen version of the story, next to Peter Cushing's own Hammer film version, which sees him give one of his all-time best performances. The other stories in this collection are all enjoyable, with 'The Blue Carbuncle' and 'The Sign of Four' being perhaps the best of them. The most outstanding one of all, however, is 'The Hound of the Baskervilles': the first half in particular is richly atmospheric, and Gary Raymond is very fine as Sir Henry Baskerville. But as always it is Peter Cushing whom one always wishes to see, and this great but humble actor (I met him personally in 1972 and chatted with him for 30 minutes or so - a very self-effacing and kindly man) does not disappoint. I warmly recommend this set to Peter Cushing fans and to fans of Sherlock Holmes.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 8, 2012 11:40 PM GMT

Friedrich Halm's Werke, Volumes 11-12
Friedrich Halm's Werke, Volumes 11-12
by Friedrich Halm
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Friedrich Halm a First-Class but Underrated Writer of Novellas, 1 July 2010
Few people today have heard of, still less read, the dramas and short stories of Friedrich Halm, the 19th-century Austrian writer. Yet, as this volume of his major novellas makes abundantly clear, he was a splendid writer of considerable talent and insight.

Around the middle of the 19th-century, Halm's beautifully versified dramas pulled in all the crowds at Vienna's famous 'Burgtheater'. But today they are never performed - regrettably, since several are actually very good.

Far better, however, are his Novellen. Here Halm is a master. He specialises in depicting obsessive characters, persons with one overriding and unbalancing fixation. The two stories in this collection which best illustrate that are the supernaturally tinged 'Das Auge Gottes' ('The Eye of God') and the psycho-sexually probing story, 'Das Haus an der Veronabrücke' ('The House at Verona Bridge'). I recommend these strongly to anyone who can read German and who is interested in fiction which explores the darker deeps of the human psyche.

The volume itself is a smart-looking and large-sized reprint of the original 19th-century edition. Be warned, however, that because it is a reprint of an original 19th-century edition, the print is of the old 'Gothic' German type, which is not particularly easy on the eye.

In sum, I unreservedly recommend the stories of Friedrich Halm to any readers who enjoy such tales as those by Kleist (with whom Halm shares some stylistic resemblance) which penetrate beneath the outer layer of the human personality and expose how obsession will inevitably lead to moral collapse and tragedy. Halm is a significant but unfairly neglected novella writer. I hope this volume will begin to restore his once European-wide reputation.

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