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Thespionic "Thespionic" (West Country)
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Stardust Memories [DVD]
Stardust Memories [DVD]
Dvd ~ Woody Allen
Price: £6.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Strange Days, 5 May 2015
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This review is from: Stardust Memories [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of Woody’s more complicated movies and whilst quite stunning to look at and full of his usual wit; it is not easy to follow. It’s probably best not to worry about it too much and just go with the flow!
The story is about a famous director who has a nervous breakdown; he revisits the loves of his life, searching for some harmony and sense to it all. Where ever he goes he is bombarded by his fans for autographs and showered with questions – his manners here are exemplary all things considered – you can certainly see why some stars shun public life?
The plot, if any is told through a series of flashbacks, fantasy sequences, his own movie clips and mental snatches from his breakdown - in no particular order!
We take Woody’s humour for granted of course but the B&W cinematography in this film is quite stunning. It was filmed by Gordon Willis, who has helped make many of Woody’s films, but is most famous for the ‘Godfather’ trilogy.
The ‘shooting’ is most memorable for its ‘Strange Days,’ almost nightmarish, grotesque, close ups of the crowds’ faces, as they surround the popular director in the public areas. It highlights their strange and surreal characteristics – I can still see one woman with outlandishly huge glasses and people with all sorts of ridiculous hair styles, large noses, crooked teeth etc. It’s just fascinating to see and take in. It’s a never ending flow of wonderful caricatures.
This is a film that will linger with you for a long time, and you’ll soon realise that to enjoy it to the max it doesn’t have to make too much sense – as indeed, a breakdown certainly wouldn’t?
This is as good as any of Woody Allen’s 5 star efforts and by his own admission is one of his favourites and is NOT about himself.


Radio Days [DVD]
Radio Days [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mia Farrow
Price: £6.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Adored It, 4 May 2015
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This review is from: Radio Days [DVD] (DVD)
What a wonderful, wonderful, film this is. It is definitely one of Woody’s very best and I would rate it in his top five – having seen most of his middle to top rated movies.
The nostalgia of the 1930’s simply flows from the screen and pours over you – the whole thing is so very atmospheric, but also a superb feast for the eyes. It captures those ageless fashions when tailors were tailors! I just love the men’s & women’s fashions of the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s. The film won BAFTAS for Costume design & Production design. You are simply transported to that age – with the sets, the clothes and the music – Cole Porter and a lot of the big bands / orchestras of the period, there are 45 short tracks in the film!
The film is one of Allen’s more ‘Jewish’ films and it flows with his great little sketches and wonderful humour - the local kids nick Mum’s teeth and play hockey with them, as they haven’t a puck, and they’re about the right size!
Mia Farrow plays one of her best cameo roles for Woody Allen here, and looks just great, and rather sexy have I have to say - as the ‘cigarette seller,-a la ‘Trixie,’ from the ‘Rocky Horror Show.’ The way the film is screened as a 'life at home' period piece also reminded me of Terrence Davies, ‘Distant Voices, Still Lives.’ Like a few Woody films, this one barely broke even and yet it's possibly a lot of people's favourite 'WA' film?
I have Just one disappointment! This classic is out on Bluray in America.. But not here …(hears head thumping against a wall and a mature male crying!)


Born on the Fourth of July [DVD]
Born on the Fourth of July [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Cruise
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.31

4.0 out of 5 stars Not The Best Nam Film but an Historically Valuable Piece., 2 May 2015
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I bought the normal DVD version and I have to say that the film quality was very average and that the sound escaped me on several occasions. I was not particularly impressed from that point of view – the Bluray I would hope is a big improvement?
Compared to ‘Platoon’ and ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ this film lags behind in some areas, though the ‘moral’ of the storyline is of course more compelling, though less expansive on all things Vietnam?
The film won an Academy Award and Tom Cruise a Golden Globe. It recouped its budget five-fold. However, for me it is not a great film, though, historically it’s important in the tale that it has to tell. There are several ‘Oh my God’ moments here but overall I felt the camera work of war was better done on films like Platoon.
If this film is a true account of what the ‘vet’s’ went through then America has truly been shamed, I can’t understand how the American public and administration allowed the horribly wounded to be treated in this awful way? There was a staggering 75,000 ‘severely disabled’ war vet’s after Vietnam?
And for what? - An ultimate defeat (whatever way you gloss it up) and an eventual realisation (now admitted) that they should never have become involved in the first place.
Vietnam was an American nightmare, the all-powerful bully massacring an estimated three million Vietnamese (a third of them innocent civilians), wrecking their country, poisoning their land and children and yet walking away with nothing? Their own people condemning them for what they were doing and did, war legacies galore - of war crimes, 30,000 drug addicted soldiers, murder within their own ranks and ultimately the poor ‘vets’ treated like it was all their fault? 'My Lai' is touched on in this film, and yet the same public who turned on their own troops, campaigned for the release of William Calley, who orchestrated the massacre of 500 unarmed Vietnam villagers - Oh the irony?
And who are now putting the country of Vietnam back on its feet - the Communists!
What an almighty mess all round this was for America, and what a ghastly carnage they caused and then left behind - with some 6.5 million displaced refugees ( the boat people) fleeing their country?


Oh Lady Be Good! - Best of the Gershwin Songbook
Oh Lady Be Good! - Best of the Gershwin Songbook
Price: £10.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Background Music, 1 May 2015
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I have recently listened to Ella sings Cole Porter; I believe this one to the abetter as it has a superior sound quality. One very tiny criticism that I have of this type of album, is that it does of course, typify the music of that age, in that we have a wonderful singer, fronting a large orchestra, maybe a big band or swing band, however, this is nearly all ‘orchestrated,’ and so, though it is what I would call ‘ highly polished, easy listening,’ it doesn't overly raise the pulse too much? In the main it is not particularly exciting to listen to if you like the more up-tempo stuff. The exceptions are the opening track, ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ and the album’s finale, ‘I’ve Got Rhythm,’ here we actually get the brass section blowing and some real drive into the music. Ella finally raises her voice a little. Both tracks are very jazzy ( the opener is the best on the album IMHO) and the only tracks on here that get your feet tapping?
I know a lot of the female singers of this period sang with a little ‘containment,’ Billie Holiday was similar in that fashion.
I admit that I prefer something with a little more life or verve - like swing / big band, more jazzy if you like - Sinatra’s versions of this kind of music seems to have more ‘punch,’ the same of course can be said of the likes of Etta James? It’s all about styles I guess?
In summary, a very pleasant album, nice background music, no one can argue at the all round quality, but it's not an album that is going to blow you away.


Woody Allen: A Documentary [DVD]
Woody Allen: A Documentary [DVD]
Dvd ~ Woody Allen
Price: £5.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Getting to Know Woody!, 29 April 2015
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Woody Allen sort of passed me by when I was a young man, his stuff wasn’t for me!
Yes, I saw a few over years but they sort of faded away eventually - I always remembered ‘Manhattan’ though.
I am now in the autumn of my madness, and so recently - over the last two months or so, I have revisited Woody and gone into a bit of a ‘Woody Fest.’
I have already watched 17 of his films, with 6 still on the shelf to watch.
Firstly, I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed them all, though I have tried to steer clear of the ones that are overly slapstick, as I do not find that ‘art form’ particularly humorous anymore. All of his films that I’ve watched are 'interesting' as a minimum (3/5), most are excellent viewing (4/5) and several are classics (5/5).
I wanted to know more about the man and so readily bought this ‘Doc.’
On reflection it is ‘everything’ that I wished it could be. I learnt about his upbringing & family, his development from scriptwriter to comedian and then on to film maker. We see lots of his films with some good analysis to boot. We meet the stars – and yes, of course they’re all very complimentary!
Woody comes across as a little odd and old fashioned and so he is. He has typical Jewish modesty but is never frightened to tackle difficult subjects – he is a man who understands and has learned a lot about emotions and relationships – his films nearly always includes these.
Under his rather blasé and modest character is a steely determination and non-stop work ethic. No one tells him how to make a film; he does it his way or not at all. His actors get the script and he allows them to get on with it - he seldom gives them feedback, some were clearly uncomfortable with this.
It is very clear that he has a feminine side but also an eye for the ladies – again he gets what he wants! essentially he is an artiste, he cares little about profit - indeed, several of his films have lost money!
Woody is possibly one of the best screenwriters ever and no one writes one liners like him? You can pick holes with anything, but for me this documentary was first class and did what it said on the tin!.


The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD]
The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mia Farrow
Offered by Side Two
Price: £5.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Magic, 27 April 2015
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What a great little film this is and what a fantastic idea? Like several Woody films this is set during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The cinema was one of the great ‘releases’ of that era for the stricken folk.
There is one scene which is truly brilliant acting from both Farrow (Cecelia) and Daniels ( Tom Shepherd)– they are outside her house, she is praising him every which way for his acting ability. He modestly accepts what she says, but at the same time totally agrees with her! It’s a brilliant piece of cinema.
The film won a BAFTA. This is right up there with the likes of Manhattan, Broadway Danny Rose & Midnight in Paris – IMHO.

It’s very atmospheric - switching from B&W to colour, has a clever love triangle and is very original – not to forget of course the brilliant Allen script & wit. A special mention also to Danny Aiello (Danny), who does a great job as the ‘no good’ husband of Cecilia.
This is 82 minutes of pure magic.


Bullets Over Broadway [DVD]
Bullets Over Broadway [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Cusack
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Up There with Woody's Best, 26 April 2015
This review is from: Bullets Over Broadway [DVD] (DVD)
This is right up there with Woody’s best films. It was nominated for numerous Oscars across the board, with Diane Wiest winning ‘Best Supporting Actress.’ Set in the Roaring Twenties / Jazz Age, the costumes / sets & scenery are gorgeous , the film was nominated for academy awards for this category and thoroughly deserved it.
Woody loves his ‘black & white film but this is shot in a noticeably rich and deep colour palette. The script is just great with lots of Woody witticisms – here’s one of my favourites.
David, (Playwright) and Helen (Diva & leading Lady), are in a bar. The waiter arrives...
What can I get you?
Helen - Two martinis please, very dry.
David - - How'd you know what I drank?
Helen - Oh, you want one too?
- Three.
- Three martinis!
If you like Woody then you’ll like this, even though he’s not in it himself. This film is just great on the eye and ear!


Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook
Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook
Price: £9.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Just a Thought!, 25 April 2015
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Ella will go down in history as one of the very best female singers.
There are more than enough Ella fans on here giving her due praise – I have nothing to add to that – it has all been said!
There is just one downside with this album IMHO, in getting one artiste to sing so many songs from the same composer. Some are classics of course, but many are not? Even allowing for a top artiste and fantastic band / orchestra, it is asking a lot to hit the mark with the listener again and again, over what is a very lengthy 35 songs?
Her voice is as smooth as silk and legendarily crystal clear, like a Rolls Royce if you like, but it’s not an exciting voice and tends to stay at one obliging level most of the time and seldom reaches the higher notes or exciting crescendos. It is rather like an expensive time piece, accurate, on time and seldom lets you down. I do not find her singing exciting on this album. The likes of Etta James would seem to me a far more expansive, evocative and an exciting voice to listen to – just my opinion, no more that!
I also bought Ella singing Gershwin and had the same thoughts.
Back to the album and 35 songs? My problem was maintaining an interest, as over the piece, one song morphed into another, eventually sounding so similar that I lost interest, even the orchestration started to sound the same – as I suppose it would, but the two together, failed to lift my senses and eventually became no more than pleasant background music.
I am therefore coming to my main point. To sing the songs of a great composer like Cole Porter, I believe it is more enjoyable to have a ‘compilation’ of singers and backing bands – it gives the songs more verve, variety and interest, without distracting from the music of the composer in question.
For instance, Michael Buble does a great version of ‘Begin the Beguine?’ Manhattan Transfer’s version of ‘Love for Sale’ can’t be matched? ‘I’ve Got You under My Skin,’ by Frank Sinatra is as good as anyone’s, and there are other Cole Porter songs that he sings that I could say exactly the same about?
Sammy Davis’s ‘Too Darn Hot’ takes some beating, Bet Midler’s version of ‘ Miss Ottis Regrets’ is superb and so full of life?
Natalie Cole’s ‘Every time we say Goodbye’ is every bit as good as Ella’s version on here? Even Charlie Parker’s ‘I love Paris,’ as an instrumental, is worth considering for some variety, not to mention 'Deano's' version of course? Finally, 'Night and Day' by the Temptations is such a stunningly beautiful version?
I think you get my point, though I accept that most of you ‘Ella’ fans will never agree to such sacrilege!


Lost in Translation [DVD] [2004]
Lost in Translation [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Bill Murray
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.96

4.0 out of 5 stars A Nice and Very Easy Film to Enjoy, 25 April 2015
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Well, this film certainly divides opinion? Here on Amazon, over 60% gave it 4 or 5 stars, however, 30% scored it with just 1 or 2 stars! I actually enjoyed it and thought it worthy of 4 stars. I found it very interesting, mildly amusing and the budding relationship quite captivating. For me the storyline is very simple.
Bob is never going to sleep with Charlotte? Whilst his marriage is as flat as a proverbial pancake, he does love and worship his children, who presumably are near to Charlotte’s age, and so he can easily relate to her, though he would never misplace that trust. He is not though, above cheating on his wife, with someone in his own age range, this takes him temporarily away from his humdrum existence with his wife, who half the time can’t even be bothered to talk to him for more than a few seconds.
The film still scores well on RT & IMDb. It was also a huge financial success, with a profit in excess of 100 million $!
Having watched the film, I did wonder what the Japanese thought of their portrayal? There was apparently some criticism of the perceived racism that the film may have characterized?
The screenplay won an Academy Award and both lead actors won Bafta’s for their fine performances.
Films are so subjective aren’t they?


The Ultimate Collection
The Ultimate Collection
Price: £9.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Class and Enduring Act for Sure, 24 April 2015
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This review is from: The Ultimate Collection (Audio CD)
Cream always rises to the top and just to illustrate that point, on its first week of release this album has gone straight to the top of the UK album charts.
The album is split equally between Paul’s solo career and his earlier career with Art Garfunkel.
This is Paul’s fourth No1 Album in the UK - Paul Simon (72),
Graceland (86), Rhythm of the Saints (90), and now the Ultimate Collection.
He has also had 3 top ten singles here – You Can Call Me Al’ (4), Take me to the Mardi Gras (7) - unfortunately not on here,
and lastly, Mother and Child Reunion (5).
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, was his only No1 single in America. His last album was in 2011. He is now 73.
Graceland is one of my all-time favourite albums and Paul has written so many terrific songs. Everyone should have a PS album and this one must be as good as any… a part from his Graceland of course!
It is almost impossible to not include the Simon & Garfunkel music, so just to set the record straight… they had 2 No 1 albums, Bookends and Bridge Over Troubled Waters. They also had 4 top 10 singles: The Sound of Silence (9), Homeward Bound (9), Mrs Robinson (4) and Bridge Over (1), his only number 1 single.
Yes, there are a couple of songs that I wish had been on here, but hey, what an impossible job and I have to say that they've done a rattling good job with this album?


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