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T. S. C. (Somewhere in NW England.)

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The Halfway House [DVD] (1944)
The Halfway House [DVD] (1944)
Dvd ~ Francoise Rosay
Price: £8.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good film, shot during the 2nd World War., 23 Sep 2012
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I love Ealing films of all kinds, especially the comedies, but Ealing also made a lot of films that were more dramatic in nature, and this is no exception.

It is set in a rural part of Wales called Cwmbach, a place that in reality doesn't exist, to my knowledge anyway.

The story is centered around the pub and B & B called 'the Halfway House' and it involves a place that was bombed a year before but somehow still exists. There are a number of people all visiting at the same time, including a famous conductor who has very terminal health, a divorcing couple and their daughter and a sea captain and his wife who have lost their son in the war, to name but some of the visitors there. As the film unfolds, we find out by clues that the proprietors of the pub are not what they seem, but we also find out that the problems of each person gets either solved or they are helped to resolve what they are going through.

I must add that wherever it was filmed it is beautiful scenery and where the Halfway House is situated is the place that many of us dream of going from time to time, a lonely wooded valley miles from anywhere and far from the madding crowd.

I highly recommend this film if you like Ealing films and if you like films that have a sense of moral rightness and just a feel-good movie that is a little off the beaten track.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 25, 2012 12:20 AM GMT

In the Beginning [DVD]
In the Beginning [DVD]
Dvd ~ Martin Landau

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good movie, well acted., 18 Sep 2012
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This review is from: In the Beginning [DVD] (DVD)
I have the other version with George C. Scott as Abraham and decided I would buy this version as well. I am a Christian so I enjoy films about the Bible and characters from the Bible. I noticed however that some of the films about the Bible are rather expensive, some pushing even to £10 or £12; that seems a little pricey but what's new?

I really enjoyed this film and thought that the stories were well acted by the various actors, some whom you will know and other characters generally unknown to a mass public. This one captures the excitement of the early Bible stories very well and for the price is excellent value for money. It starts with the wanderings of Abraham and ends with the story of Exodus: 'Let my people go!' is Moses fervent cry to the arrogant Rameses II! Yes, most people know the stories and know them well but there is always room for a good movie about those wonderful, thrilling, exciting and passionate stories of people long ago.

Malcolm X [DVD] [1992]
Malcolm X [DVD] [1992]
Dvd ~ Denzel Washington
Price: £5.34

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great film, of a great, but misunderstood, man., 2 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Malcolm X [DVD] [1992] (DVD)
I watched this film years ago, and felt moved by it. I recently bought it on Amazon and just watched it last night. First off, I might say that the film is a long one but needs to be, in the same way Richard Attenborough's 'Gandhi' is long and David Lean's 'Lawrence of Arabia' is long; it needed to be long to convey this highly interesting man's life and all the complexities and even contradictions of Malcolm X's life. Why should a white working class person from England really be interested in a black working class guy from America anyway? Well, why not? Malcolm X the film stands comparison with the two films I just mentioned because Malcolm X is an important person in the history of civil rights in America and perhaps the whole world.

Malcolm, in his life, went from being a tough thug and former jailbird, into a civil rights leader for his people, with an extremely sharp brain and some of the most uncompromising and electrifying speeches you've ever heard. It's been said that Martin Luther King was a man of peace and Malcolm was a man of war, but I feel that both men were two sides of the same coin, and when it really boils down to it, were 'fighting' for the same thing, which was emancipation for black people in America, all kinds of emancipation, certainly economic emancipation.

There is a kind of feeling that comes to me from the time of Malcolm X; America was changing and all kinds of people, not just black people, were beginning to feel that they deserved a bigger slice of the pie and demanding fairness and equality and perhaps most importantly economic justice so that it wasn't just white middle and upper class people who could live well and prosper but everybody. The same things were probably happening in Britain but on a more understated level. For me quite simply, when black people and other ethnic minorities stand up for their rights and their social justice, it can also be about ALL people who are oppressed, in one way or the other, fighting for their rights. In America, it was much about racism and probably still is, in Britain, although I won't tell you there isn't racism here because there is, it can also be about class. In Britain, like many other countries, certain white people are allowed to prosper, perhaps because they have been to private schools and they talk with the 'right' accent and know the 'right' people and are connected or have influence in one way or the other; if you aren't part of this clique you are meant to accept it and fight for the crumbs of the rich man's table. Malcolm X teaches me that we all have dignity and we all have the right to challenge oppression wherever we find it, and especially in our own lives.

So, the movie. A really good film, notwithstanding its length, and one that I could watch again and again. Denzel Washington is absolutely convincing as Malcolm X and is as usual enormously charismatic in the role. The film goes from Malcolm's early life to the very end, where he is assassinated whilst giving a speech. It is a sad end of an amazing life. As the film, and Malcolm's life progresses, there is the feeling that Malcolm is shedding his skin; he sheds the skin of his life of crime to re-educate himself in prison and then becomes an apostle of the honourable Elijah Muhammad; he sheds his skin again after feeling badly let down by Muhammad, and becomes a free spirit. He goes to Mecca and finds that all kinds of people, of all different colours including white, are all worshipping together. I feel this made a strong impact on him and he began to see all humanity, not just black people, as worthy of concern, love and consideration.

In the racial climate of America in those times, it could be easy to understand that someone black would despise white people and the mainstream white culture of America; it is then good to say that Malcolm X at the end of his life changed his perspective and had the courage of his doubts and convictions and began to see the bigger picture. He was a great man.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2013 5:31 PM BST

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for a penny!!!, 1 Sep 2012
As is sometimes the case, I bought this book for a penny off Amazon, and even though you pay packaging of £2.80, getting a book for a penny can't be too bad can it?

I have always been interested in the origins of mankind and I have always been interested in the origins of human civilisation, I can't really say why; for some people it's football, for someone else it's Coronation Street and for me it's the beginnings of civilisation, amongst many other things. Being a Christian, I feel part of my deep interest in the origins of civilisation has been because of reading Genesis' account of the creation and origins of human beings. It does seem that there is a correlation between the story of man's creation and the beginnings of civilisation. It seems that though the story of creation to me is a reality, the story is set down like a folktale, with little if any nuances and little sophistication.

There are 6 chapters to the book, all covering different civilisations. These are: 1) IRAQ: The Cradle of Civilisation 2) INDIA: Empire of the Spirit 3) CHINA: The Mandate of Heaven 4) EGYPT: The Habit of Civilisation 5) CENTRAL AMERICA: The Burden of Time 6) THE BARBARIAN WEST

All of these chapters cover, in not a great detail, each civilisation, accompanied by a number of good pictures throughout the book. Although the book doesn't cover each civilisation in thorough detail, it is a good taster for getting other more in-depth books on the said subjects. I can say that I really enjoyed reading this book and remain a big fan of Michael Wood; he has a knack of writing good books and making very good TV programmes that leave you interested and satisfied.

So, this book certainly couldn't cover any real in-depth study of any of these civilisations but it is a very good potted history of the beginnings of human civilisation.

Luther [DVD] (2003)
Luther [DVD] (2003)
Dvd ~ Joseph Fiennes
Price: £4.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Really good film, and a great cast!, 25 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Luther [DVD] (2003) (DVD)
I have always been interested in history, especially Mediaeval history and ancient history, and actually will buy anything on DVD that is something I can get my teeth into, history-wise, if you will. To be honest, when I saw the price of this film I snapped it up.

This is a really good film, and whatever your position or viewpoint, is also a really good piece of entertainment too. I am not an expert on Luther or his beliefs, although like most people I am aware that he really helped kickstart the Reformation by criticising corruption in the practises of Catholicism and the Catholic Church. I have no axe to grind here by the way, I am a Christian but consider myself neither particularly Protestant nor particularly Catholic for that matter.

So, the film. Well I thought on balance that it was an excellent film, that put some religious philosophical thought in the mix, but also enough interest for people not particularly transfixed by the history of the Reformation. In short, you don't have to be a theologian or an expert on Luther to watch and to enjoy the film. I suspect that some of Luther's hard edges, and also some rather controversial ideas of his, are gently airbrushed out of the picture but this in no way detracts from the film; what historical film is ever absolutely historically correct anyway? Probably every film about any major historical character is changed slightly, or even extremely, to lend weight to the film and sell it to a modern audience. The past is a foreign country I've heard; they do things differently there.

It's certain, whatever your religious viewpoint, whether you are a Catholic or Protestant or even whether you are a Christian or not, that Luther is worthy of serious consideration, not necessarily because he challenged and debased Catholicism particularly, but because he gave free rein to his own misgivings and doubts of what were undoubted corruptions and licence in European religion, Christianity, at the time. He was a thinker and a critic in an age when people didn't seem to think, or were scared to do so for fear of what might happen to them, either in this world or the next. Luther opened up debate about Christian belief, practise and ritual in a way that still speaks to us today. Are we meant to be religious robots just doing ritual things over and over again, rituals that can appear to have no meaning, or are we meant to think about what we are doing, and think about belief and question? Luther decided to question things...

Whatever your view on Luther, this is a really good film with an excellent cast and a fairly decent grasp of the fundamentals of Luther's arguments, or some of them anyway. All in all, I think this a very good film however you view it.

Historias mínimas [DVD] [2002]
Historias mínimas [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Javier Lombardo
Price: £9.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great road movie., 25 Aug 2012
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I love, and always will love, road movies. And Historias Minimas is a really good road movie; well three really good road movies! It is three stories, of no particular consequence, of people trying to get to a town called San Julian, for their own private reasons. An old man is trying to find his lost dog. A young single mother wants to take part in a televised game show. And a man has made a birthday cake for his son.

Do they each end up getting what they want? I guess you'll have to watch the film to find that out. As I wrote, these stories in themselves are of no particular consequence, perhaps they are just little stories about ordinary people, no more and no less. But in these stories are worlds of wisdom and acres of joy; if a journey is a metaphor for life, then each story is important to these three people; important only to themselves, but still at the end of the day important nonetheless. Forgive my waffling; I'm trying to find deeper meanings in simple stories and maybe there aren't any!

Philosophical points aside, I really enjoyed this film a whole lot, partially because as I said I absolutely love road movies of all kinds and love simple tales crafted well, even if the tales seem not so out of the ordinary. Also, the landscape of Patagonia, where these stories are set, is stunning and epic and vast, so what we are unused to in our little European countries. In such vast and unconquered landscapes the mind can wander and dream and literally go where it may.

Well, I loved this movie and will look for more like it.

The Odd Angry Shot [DVD] (1979)
The Odd Angry Shot [DVD] (1979)
Dvd ~ Graham Kennedy
Price: £10.35

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good little movie!, 4 Aug 2012
There are two main reviews here, both by soldiers; one says that it is authentic and the other cringing that it isn't at all authentic! Who do you believe?

John Jarratt, the main star of the film has been in a number of other Aussie movies, and is probably best known for being in 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' but if my memory serves me correctly he was in a film about Ned Kelly as well, where he played the role of Ned Kelly.

I've always liked Aussie movies and liked the Aussie humour, way of life and attitude; it's very much like the British working class mentality, which is to not worry too much about anything, oh and having a beer or two now and again!

There's a lot of very good Aussie movies out there, and they make a refreshing change from American and British and European movies because they are always coming at things from a slightly different angle, a slightly different perspective than other movies.

I really enjoyed this movie a whole lot, and whether it's supposed to be a comedy, or a comedy-drama, or a serious movie with touches of comedy, is entirely down to the person who watches it. Whatever the case I rate this movie highly as another good piece of Australian film culture and a worthy addition to many other war movies that don't take themselves too seriously even though the subject is hardly one a sane person could really laugh at, especially if they were in a war situation!

Force Of Evil [DVD]
Force Of Evil [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Garfield

5.0 out of 5 stars What are you doing here getting drunk and talking so crazy?! I'm celebrating!!!, 9 July 2012
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This review is from: Force Of Evil [DVD] (DVD)
I must first say that with regards to this film I'm extremely biased; I have liked John Garfield for a very long time. He had that certain star quality and charisma, that even though he was a very talented actor, it is this star quality and charisma that shines through nearly all his screen performances. He was the real deal as well, a street kid who grew up in poverty in New York City, so when he played desperate and vulnerable roles, he wasn't really acting so much as just being himself.

The film is about the Numbers Racket, where millions of usually ordinary people bet on three numbers which, in theory, can't be fixed in any way; even though in this film that's just exactly what the underworld do. Joe Morse (Garfield's character) is a lawyer for the mob and also really a consigliere or advisor for the ganglord Tucker who controls the numbers racket. The problem is that Morse has a brother Leo, who runs a numbers racket himself free from serious mob entanglements... for the time being. I won't give anymore of the plot away as I think it is a fine film and if you like Film Noir and like John Garfield this is a movie you should see.

There is a kind of atmosphere some movies have from this era (the 1940's) that thrillers and dramas and gangster dramas today just do not have. New York is a magnificent city and so vast and so downright dirty, dangerous and exciting; it makes every other city in the world look like a small town. So you can set dramas there that work simply because New York is big and tough enough to contain them all. When I watch a very good Film Noir like this, I am transported to another time, a timeless era in fact, of wiseguys, sheister lawyers, scary mob bosses, millions of people on the make and a city that is exciting and wonderful and dangerous by turns. Did they know when they were making these movies that people years later would still find them fascinating and exciting? I do wonder; and just what makes a film a classic anyway, and makes another film something we all forgot? Yes, Force of Evil is a timeless film that speaks of another time, our grandparents days, when things were in some ways innocent and yet more dangerous at the same time.

Bird - The Charlie Parker Story [DVD] [1988]
Bird - The Charlie Parker Story [DVD] [1988]
Dvd ~ Diane Venora

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good biopic of a culturally important musician., 8 July 2012
I've seen this movie a few times now. For me it is a great film because it is about someone who helped shape the future of popular culture in America, and so hence the rest of the world. Charlie Parker was his name, but the world remembers him simply as 'Bird', which is also simply the title of the film.

Many of my heroes are African Americans because we should never forget that popular music for the most part and the popular culture that was conceived in the United States largely has its roots in African-American culture, history and experience. The Blues, Jazz, Soul, Funk, Rhythm & Blues and many other forms of popular music really come out of the African-American experience and their originality and creativity and their different take on life from the dominant mainstream White culture of America.

The 60's is well remembered by millions of people, and the happenings and films and music and art and photography of that deeply exciting era are still celebrated today all over the world. The 50's by contrast seem rather neglected, but it was the 50's, particularly in the United States of America, that really saw the birth of one kind of popular culture, which was Rock and Roll and all that went with that, the fast life, more egalitarianism, an eroding of race differences, fast food and that whole 'want-it-yesterday' sort of society that really could have only been born in America. Again, the music of the underclass, primarily African-American, would come to dominate American popular culture, even if the first greatest proponent of it was a poor White boy called Elvis.

Bird was the forerunner of other improvisational musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Peter Green and Eric Clapton, to name but three, who would shine in the next decade, those wonderful, heady, exciting, world-shattering 60's. Bird's playing was seat-of-the-pants and thrilling and exciting, much like the later guitar heroes of the 60's and he stands out from many of the great Jazz men of his era. His music is for me eternally nostalgic and yet fresh as the day it was made-it makes me feel good and just glad to be alive. His music hasn't dated, whereas someone like Herb Alpert, as great as he was, seems dated now.

America has always had two themes running through it; one was that a person should be virtuous, clean living and godly; the other was that you should find your pleasures where you could, be hard living, hard drinking and a fast living kind of person always looking for the next exciting thing to come along. Bird fits into the last category; his America is the underbelly, the rootless, the fast living kind, the kind that is most interesting. I say this as a Christian who doesn't take illegal drugs and lives moderately and drinks alcohol in moderation too! But you get my point; Bird is part of that American dream, that freedom, that raw excitement that America seems to have and certainly the 1950's America had in aces. The freedom of the open road, the freedom of going where you please, the freedom of free-form Jazz with those powerful improvised solos and the wonder of America with it's long straight roads, and lonely town and villages, and big dirty dangerous and downright wonderful big cities filled with every kind of person on the make and all looking for something that will thrill them and give some meaning to their lives, and the forests and coasts and all that America had to offer; Bird's music encompasses all this and more; he wasn't the only one but he was one of the greatest exponents of explaining the freedom of America in an art-form that was originally and uniquely American, and African-American at that.

Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £15.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Love the film, love the music!!!, 3 July 2012
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This review is from: Bullitt (Audio CD)
I've loved Steve McQueen for many years, and he was in a lot of good movies. Bullitt stands out for being exciting, thrilling, loud, violent and epic all at the same time.

The music is something else; it's perfect late 60's music for a perfect late 60's film; if you like Bullitt well you'll probably already like the movie score too.

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