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Driving Miss Daisy [DVD]
Driving Miss Daisy [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jessica Tandy
Price: £5.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Simply a Lovely Film, 20 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Driving Miss Daisy [DVD] (DVD)
Georgia – the Deep South, a Jewish family have their own business, the mother, (Miss Daisy), an ex-school teacher, is struggling with her driving skills as she gets older. Eventually she is persuaded, by her son, to have a chauffeur, but she’s not going to do it willingly!
The film touches on racial prejudice, but it is very slight and not hard hitting at all.
The film is about a ‘begrudging bond’ that perhaps one day will be acknowledged?
There are many charming moments to this film and none better than when Hoke (Morgan Freeman), approaches the son (Dan Ackroyd), angling for a pay rise – this is just brilliant!
This is just a lovely film to allow to unfold in front of you – it won’t get you off of the edge of your seat but it is a very satisfying experience.


Mr Turner [DVD] [2014]
Mr Turner [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Timothy Spall
Price: £14.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Period Piece, 18 Dec 2014
This review is from: Mr Turner [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
This is Mike Leigh's biggest project by a long way and will most certainly be his biggest ever success. Anyone who follow his work will know that a lot of the actors in this film have been used before in his many television plays - Abigail's Party etc., his previous films and of course his theatre plays.

For me, This is an interesting history lesson concerning the life of Turner - seen as one of `Blighty's best and most prolific artists.
Turner was late Georgian / early Victorian and the film scores very heavily on the detail of these periods. It seems quite apt that George the 1V, the Prince Regent, a king who loved the arts, shared this period with him. From what I have read of Turner, his `characterisation' in the film is quite accurate - he was regarded as rather slovenly, insular and a work obsessed man.
The highlight of the film for me was the cinematography, which I found delightful - crystal clear and always very interesting, sometimes brilliantly eye-catching. It was in many ways a perfect `period piece' of the life, styles & inventions of the Georgian & Victorian periods.
Turner did indeed have two daughters,Evelina & Georgiana, and it would seem that there was a certain emotional coldness about him - certainly concerning them and many others? Mrs Booth, whom he eventually settled down with, sold up in Margate and funded the new Chelsea property herself. Apparently Turner never contributed anything towards this or paid her any ongoing keep, even though he was a very rich man by this time!
His loyal but `psoriasis' inflicted housekeeper, Hannah Danby, was thankfully left a large legacy in his will. She is also now, thought to be the mother of his two daughters. She only unfortunately, she only lived for a further two years after Turner's death.
Whilst this film could not, in any way, be called exciting, I still found it a very satisfying watch and thoroughly enjoyed it.


Alabama 24/7: 24 Hours, 7 Days, Extraordinary Images of One Week in Alabama. (America 24/7 State Books)
Alabama 24/7: 24 Hours, 7 Days, Extraordinary Images of One Week in Alabama. (America 24/7 State Books)
by Rick Smolan
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Such an Entertaining Book with Great Photos, 7 Dec 2014
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During one week in 2003, 25,000 photographers were invited to go out and take digital pictures of where they lived, to record the now modern America. 6,000 of the best photos were collected, graded, and put into 51 volumes - the states of America. These are `real life' pictures of excellent quality, showing the life, places and moods of those States. Each book usually has a little of: religion, recreation, family shots, pets, weddings, wildlife, local industry and generally local flavours of that state. These are not tourist books, they do not contain detailed maps or the like but there are samples of what the state is famous for.
I started with Alabama as it conjures up so many pictures from the past - The slave trade & racism, the Civil War, Martin Luther King and ` To Kill a Mockingbird.'
All the photos are in brilliant digital colour, full of poignant moments which capture the history, the joy, beauty and stresses of life.
I really enjoyed working through these a 100 or so pictures and what better way to spend an hour or two than to be taken away to the land of Nat King Cole, Hank Williams, Actis Finch and Bo Ridley! I bought mainly the 'Deep South' books, This one, Louisiana & Georgia are very good but I found Florida a bit less so.


Pride [DVD]
Pride [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ben Schnetzer
Price: £12.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth a Watch, 26 Nov 2014
This review is from: Pride [DVD] (DVD)
This is a nice film to watch as its ‘subjects’ are always very topical; it’s politically 1980’s and an important part of our recent history. It’s very well-acted, laid out, and quite witty to boot.
For me it drew immediate comparisons with ‘Made in Dagenham’– a film of not dissimilar ilk?
I grew up through this period with the miners’ strikes & Maggie Thatcher, so the content is very real to me, though I have to say, I’m not from mining stock. The film wisely does not get embroiled in the politics and bitterness of the strike.
Bill Nighy is of course the star here but plays a fairly modest role. All the cast do a great job and in my view the plaudits are evenly shared around them.
The film can’t help but be a bit clichéd and rather predictable in places, but overall it still does a thoroughly good job. It’s not an outstanding film IMHO, but is one that will give a lot of pleasure to most regular goers to the flicks or those sat at home watching the DVD.


Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Metropolitan Opera
Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Metropolitan Opera
Dvd ~ Patrick Summers
Price: £15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars If I Could Give This Twenty Five Stars Then I Would!, 20 Nov 2014
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Madame Butterfly

This is my tenth or so Opera. I've watched the most popular ones I guess? This is without doubt the most compelling, tragic, and most definitely, beautiful performance to watch.
The whole experience is so wonderful on the eye and ear , and oh those puppets - especially that amazing scene at the beginning of Act two, with the ballet & Geisha girl puppet - just stunning, no other word will do, it's truly memorable.
The sets are wonderful, the songs' divine, as are the costumes and special effects. However, the performance of the `Butterfly,' Patricia Racette, is by a long way the best lead I've witnessed thus far and near brought a tear to my eye! What a performance! Yes, of course she looks older than 15, or latterly 18, but come on... who cares! For me it doesn't distract from the plot one little bit, her age is soon forgotten - I'm not even sure a 15 year old could bring to the part what's actually needed? Racette did this wonderfully well.
A special mention too for Dwayne Cross, as Sharpless, who I have to say, is a man after my own heart!
I can only finish by saying this was much more than a pleasure to watch - especially in a very sharp HD. If I could give this performance twenty five stars, then I honestly would! I really don't think that `DVD' opera gets any better than this.


Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) [DVD] [2001] [NTSC]
Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) [DVD] [2001] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Price: £10.73

4.0 out of 5 stars Timeless and With The Feel Good Factor, 17 Nov 2014
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I'm not sure that there are many of the top operas that are `feel good factor' operas ... but, this is definitely one of them.
This is a pleasure to watch and its production and players are also Brit's! Hooray!
I won't bore anyone with the plot. I would say immediately that Maria Ewing as the love interest, Rosina, was just brilliant - wonderful singing and great character acting. If you can't have a chuckle at her wonderful facial mannerisms then you really are past the point of no return.
John Rawnsley (Figaro & The Barber) was not far behind her and what a good character he was! It just seems odd that this was done some 30 years ago but looks totally fresh in every which way.
My only minus point would be that the 'disguised' characters and their scenes,were for me,a little unconvincing and not particularly funny. However, there were many fine moments - `The `Slander' scene was great with Furlanetto excelling in this role.
The sets were colourful & lavish, as were the costumes. For me this opera just reeks: pleasure & fun, a lovely evening in, nods of appreciation, smiles, etc. etc ...


Verdi: Aida. Metropolitan Opera [DVD] [2000] [NTSC]
Verdi: Aida. Metropolitan Opera [DVD] [2000] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Aprile Millo
Offered by Made in Italy
Price: £10.39

4.0 out of 5 stars In a Word - An Epic!, 16 Nov 2014
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There's only one word for this and that's - Epic! Just check out the triumphant return of Radames at the beginning of Act two, Scene two. The set is amazing, as is the number of people on the stage - soldiers, captives, priests, servants, Royalty, Gods, horses, chariots and of course Verdi's music! I've never seen a stage so full or more occupied - only in a motion picture!
Yes, some of the scenes are a little long-winded IMHO, the picture quality is a little poor at times too, as is some parts of the acting - it's a shade limp or lacks true / required passion in some quarters - Zajick & Domingo suffer a little bit at times of this , but overall, the singing is lovely, as is the score. The storyline is very good with quite a dark ending! I note some said the opera had a rather `dated' feel, I know what they meant, it was a bit Anthony & Cleopatra, Ben Hur, but it is a period piece, so I'm not sure how one would get around that?
The star for me was Aprile Millo (Aida), though all the main players did a pretty good job.
My favourite Verdi piece will always be Rigoletto, this of course is an entirely different kettle of fish, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it, even if it was slightly exhausting at getting on for 3 hours!


The Anglo-Irish War: The Troubles of 1913-1922 (Essential Histories)
The Anglo-Irish War: The Troubles of 1913-1922 (Essential Histories)
by Peter Cottrell
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Overview and Taster for More, 12 Nov 2014
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I love this series - so ideal to get a brief and basic history of historical events. Yes, you have to look further if you want more than that but then that's up to the individual isn't it. This is my ninth book from the series.
One thing no one can argue about is just how complicated the Irish scenario is and seemingly always has been. No wonder then most ministers have become quite perplexed by the whole journey.
Quite apart from the obvious deep religious divides between the Catholics and Protestants and all of the historic anti- British bad blood to wade through , there's also all the political factions and off shoots to sift through as well - no easy task!
Overall, at 90 pages the book does a pretty sound job - I did not find it overly bias, I took it for what it is - a very brief overview.
To say that the demolition of Dublin centre, (Easter uprising), was a bit of an over-reaction is an understatement of he highest order!
I found the stories of Thomas Hornibrook interesting but of course ultimately sad. The story of David Neligan is again interesting, no wonder our intelligence struggled? To think he received a pension from our government too!
Michael Collins was always going to be the villain of the peace; he lived by the sword but also came a cropper by it t? It was certainly an age when you trusted no one?
Overall this is a good book with some fine illustrations. I really enjoyed it and it certainly encouraged me to study further.


Prince of Pleasure and His Regency, 1811-20: Prince Regent
Prince of Pleasure and His Regency, 1811-20: Prince Regent
by J. B. Priestley
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Class Read of the Regency Period, 10 Nov 2014
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Firstly, this book was written by J B Priestley, a prolific writer of novels, a dramatist – ‘An inspector Calls,’ and historical works such as this. He passed away in 1984.
This book is the second book that I have read on the ‘Regency’ period, which is such a fascinating period for all sorts of reasons with many outlandish characters and behaviours.
It was too a period of great culture with the likes of Austin, Shelly, Byron, Yeats, Constable, Turner and Wordsworth to mention but a few.
Many things were invented during this era and came into being – steam trains, cotton mills (Arkwright), mining, gas lightning, again to mention but a few.
The times saw beautiful, if ‘over the top’ décor and architecture - Brighton Pavilion, though it is hard to believe that people were still hung and then beheaded in public! It was a time when the rich stayed rich and the poor get poorer and poorer and their little boys were sold or kidnapped and then thrust up chimneys!
This book is very well researched with limitless details of major players and events. I found ‘Peterloo’ particularly interesting and informative.
The book deals with the ‘extravagant’ reign of George 1V (The Prince Regent) but encompasses so much more of the period, events and players. The pictures and plates are first class. I found it an excellent and thoroughly satisfying read, not to mention quite humorous in places.


Puccini: Tosca (Royal Opera House 2011) [Blu-ray] [2012]
Puccini: Tosca (Royal Opera House 2011) [Blu-ray] [2012]
Dvd ~ Angela Gheorghiu
Price: £18.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative Entertainment, 7 Nov 2014
This was wonderful and spell-binding entertainment for the full two hours. It had a great story line, great characters, wonderful costumes & sets.
The singing and music were also truly lovely, the acting was top drawer – what else could you ask for?
Angela Gheorghiu just oozed a woman in need of love, and so willing to give it back. Bryn Terfel as Scarpia was for me, not far behind in being the star of the show – his performance was utterly awesome. Now that’s what a nasty ‘baddy’ should be like? Jonas Kaufmann (Mario) too came across perfectly as the unlucky love interest for the rather clingy Tosca!
This rates up there with the best as far as I am concerned. I just loved it. If I could give this 6 stars I would!


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