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Soumission
Soumission
by Michel Houellebecq
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.50

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Houellebecq Forever - 7 January 2015, 24 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Soumission (Paperback)
This is a brilliant book, published as if by surrealist objective chance the same day as the Charlie-Hebdo massacre (7th January 2015). It is a state of the nation novel, crafted with dystopian lucidity, and thrown like a time-bomb into our troubled political arena. Houellebecq satirises with astute melancholy the State of France in 2015. As we have come to expect from this enfant terrible of French literature, blazing his trail of sardonic vision in the tradition of Celine, we get the full disabused nihilism of a visionary whose style is Swiftian in its black humour, and whose message is Orwellian in its prophetic insight. No crimes and misdemeanours in the French body politic are spared. And yet the author's persona is darkly innocent, in the spirit of Voltaire's Candide. And just as Voltaire had to make habitual escapes from the persecution of the intolerant, so, without police protection, Houellebecq is in great danger. His anti-hero, Francois (sc. Hollande) is ultimately destined to submit himself to a newly formed Islamic French State, elected in opposition to the National Front's majority in the polls. Readers will remember that the same thing happened in Orwell's 1984, where Winston Smith finally submits himself to a love of Big Brother. Houellebecq writes with insouciant wit and gives us a hilarious but ominous manifesto in line with Charlie-Hebdo's jovial struggle for freethinking as an ultimate human right in a world cursed by bigots, fanatics and stupid hypocrites. Submission, dear readers, is not for us (even as I submit this review!).


Moderato Cantabile - Stunden voller
Moderato Cantabile - Stunden voller
Dvd ~ Jeanne Moreau
Offered by zoreno-uk
Price: £7.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique treat of a film from Peter Brook, Marguerite Duras, Jeanne Moreau, and Jean-Paul Belmondo, 27 Oct. 2014
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Why is this classic film so difficult to find? We have to get a German dvd, and fiddle the nobs to get the French soundtrack with English subtitles. Then, at last, over 50 years later, we can enjoy Peter Brook's 1960 masterpiece (script by Marguerite Duras) which brings together (a unique ensemble?) in their prime of youthfulness those two amazing performers, Jeanne Moreau and Jean-Paul Belmondo. The faces and places are magical, minimalist and poetic in the high modernist mode of the New Novel. Filmed around the Gironde near Bordeaux, the location is dazzling in its bleak banality. And there's a murder. And not a hint of Alfred Hitchcock in any of the carefully composed shots. And nothing happens. O, yes, there is a sadistic piano teacher (a rehearsal sketch for Haneke's Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Teacher, perhaps), who torments Jeanne Moreau's long-suffering son. There's a foul capitalist husband who coldly dominates in the manner of Louis Malle's Les Amants (a previous show piece for Jeanne Moreau's role as a real woman trapped in an unreal marriage). There's loads of picturesque extras drinking gloomily in the local cafe. And there's this wonderfully delicate experimental relationship between Moreau and Belmondo, which gets nowhere slowly. Moreau's face so young, austere and passive (far away from her fey charismatic energy in Jules and Jim); Belmondo's face so solemn, self-contained and pensive (far away from his nonchalant exuberance in Breathless); that's a double treat for film lovers. Add to it Peter Brook's fastidious sense of theatre and Marguerite Duras's limpid reportage, so cool and objective, and you'll want to watch this film every weekend.


Medea (1988)
Medea (1988)
Dvd ~ Udo Kier
Offered by VECOSELL
Price: £8.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Why the Outsider Medea kills her children, 27 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Medea (1988) (DVD)
This is one of Lars von Trier's best films. Hidden away from spectacular publicity, it gives us (via Danish television) a Medea which does justice to the notion that Euripides's Medea is not a character out of Ibsen or Shaw, a conflicted psychologically motivated modern woman, but rather an elemental force of nature, an outsider, a witch, an asylum seeker, and strange to say a terrorist. Trier shows her as a chthonic creature, at home in the water and mud of the earth. Her epic jealousy over her husband Jason's new wife is a force of nature, as revolutionary and subversive and disturbing as the destruction wreaked on the male dictator by the wild women in The Bacchae. Pasolini was to pick up the atavistic aspect of Medea's primitivism, presented as a resistance through ritual against the globalist modernity of the powers that be. The recent National Theatre production failed completely to do justice to the luminous vision given us by Euripides and Trier. And that in spite of the leading actress introducing the play with some rousing and militant remarks about infanticide and women being too easily criminalised for killing their own children. Trier's Medea is a wonderful piece of cinema, taking us to poetic places way beyond the prescribed cliches of Hollywood culture. Buy it, watch it, bring back real cinema as poetic vision.


La Religieuse (1966)
La Religieuse (1966)
Dvd ~ Jacques Rivette
Offered by BMG-UK
Price: £15.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars These dvds do not exist as advertised, 3 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: La Religieuse (1966) (DVD)
The juxtaposition of these two films, one by an enlightened atheist, one by a sentimental Christian, looked very good on paper. Unfortunately all I got was the Rivette. I complained to the seller from Lyon. He had no excuse for what looked to me like a scam or false trading. I have already reported all this. It doesn't happen very often. But since you ask again, I tell you again what happened. I have already seen and studied the Rivette with Anna Karina. It is splendid. I was prepared to put up with the sugary Symphonie Pastorale. But, like the dead parrot, it exists not.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 25, 2014 11:02 AM BST


Hotel Terminus: The Life & Times of Klaus Barbie [DVD] [1988] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Hotel Terminus: The Life & Times of Klaus Barbie [DVD] [1988] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £14.80

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember the Butcher of Lyon, 3 Feb. 2014
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Marcel Ophuls gives us the lowdown on one of the Nazi regime's most notorious practitioners. Klaus Barbie was very good at his job, and his job was torture in the name of Germany. He did his best work in the gruesomely named Lyon Hotel Terminus. And that terminus was not only the end of the railway line, but also the end of the Lyon Jews, a hotel where they were tortured and from which they were sent to extermination camps in the East. Barbie was spirited away from Nuremberg justice and allied denazification by the American CIA who were rescuing top-level Nazis to work for them in the Cold War against communism and the Soviet Union. The Americans employed Barbie quite openly, the French were not too keen to extradite him, given that he would do the dirt on those who had collaborated with the Vichy regime. Eventually the Americans sent Barbie to the military regime in Bolivia where he openly organised Nazi activities which were instrumental in the capture and murder of Che Guevara, and the persecution of anything to the left of the American way of life and death (eg the overthrow of Allende in Chile).. Ophuls traces the eventual French kidnapping of Barbie and his trial in Lyon, where he was defended by the Maoist lawyer Jacques Verges. There was a kind of perverted logic in Verges defending the indefensible. He had originally defended the Algerian freedom fighter ('terrorist') Djamila whom he later married. Get hold of Barbet Schroeder's Terror's Advocate for the full story of Verges's anti-colonialist position. It is to Ophuls's credit that he carries on his ground-breaking exposure of Vichy France in Le Chagrin et La Pitie in this study of the Butcher of Lyon. Vichy had been censored and suppressed in the French historical memory. The French did not want to know how many of them (Mitterand and Clouzot among them) collaborated with Petain's Vichy. It took Ophuls, a German Jew, to open this can of worms. You will learn a lot of unpalatable truths about France and America in this brave and iconoclastic documentary.


Literary Sizzlers
Literary Sizzlers
by John Hoyles
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to enjoy literature, 29 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Literary Sizzlers (Paperback)
This is an exciting record of an English Literature teacher's experience getting students to love the texts they read. Emphasis is placed on the Modernist and Renaissance periods, with Milton's Paradise Lost the centre-piece. Any one who has studied English Literature from Marvell to D.H.Lawrence and T.S. Eliot, via Rochester and Swift, will find new provocative angles designed to challenge, disturb and transform our received ideas. The book makes us think and sizzle. Try it out. See what you think.


Film Fun A Scrapbook
Film Fun A Scrapbook
by Dr John Hoyles
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Taking Cinema Seriously, 15 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Film Fun A Scrapbook (Paperback)
Fun and play are not trivial pursuits. They go to the heart of the matter. Cinema may be a vast spectacular entertainment industry. It is also a fine art. And this book does justice to cinema's duality, both play and work. Who decides what is good, what is best, what is rubbish? De gustibus non disputandum. Taste is subjective. But a lot of films are never seen by most people. So we need books which address the value of films, from however subjective a point of view. This book may be partisan, may be bigoted, but at least it is passionate. It should provoke film-lovers to argue and think again. Cinephiles of the world, unite: you have nothing to lose but your indifference, your philistinism, your Hollywood-based complacency.


Memoirs of a Revolutionary (New York Review Books Classics)
Memoirs of a Revolutionary (New York Review Books Classics)
by Adam Hochschild
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serge back in print, 22 Oct. 2012
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Victor Serge's iconic autobiography was a book we used long ago to introduce students to the subject of literature and totalitarianism. It did two things: it gave us a lively and imaginative overview of 20th century history and politics from the Bolshevik Revolution to the death
of Trotsky; and it did this with a determined and delightful commitment to the cause of communist revolution, in spite of every betrayal, every atrocity, every degeneration of the workers' dream. And Serge was there in the thick of it, registering the poverty, crime and alcoholism within the would-be utopian Soviet Union, noticing that the Belgians were too fat and prosperous to make a revolution, and dying stateless, the ultimate outsider and internationalist, in a Mexican taxi.

This book has been out of print for ages. Now it has been reissued with some previously deleted passages, and some introductory material which for the first time benefits from the collapse of the Soviet Union and thereby signals the even greater relevance of Serge's work to a post-communist Russia and a globalised capitalism in crisis. Read this passionate memoir alongside Eric Hobsbawm's Age of Extremes, and you will get a real grip of that most bloody and radical era, the terrible 20th century with its dreams, nightmares, utopias, and its unfinished efforts to create liberty, equality and fraternity.


Sex Stories [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Sex Stories [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £11.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pornographic Imagination, 13 Aug. 2012
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HISTOIRES DE SEXE(S) is unique in my experience, an intelligent film which incorporates some hard-core pornography in its project. This is revolutionary and refreshing. Not surprisingly it is the work of the French intellectual feminist pornographer Ovidie. Her film evades and transcends the norms of standard American porn. It makes you think as well as watch. It is in line with Ovidie's Porno Manifesto and her Osez ... Tourner Votre Film X. And it marks a step forward from her more traditional porn work, Orgie en Noir, and Lilith. Ever since porn films were sectioned into their specialised ghetto around 1975, there have been some faltering attempts to bring art into porn and porn into art. Nine Songs and Short Bus for example. And more substantially in the work of Catherine Breillat. In this film Ovidie continues the struggle to fuse the high and the low, the mind and the body. And she brings it off with style and aplomb. Susan Sontag, who wrote on Georges Bataille's STORY OF THE EYE under the title "The Pornographic Imagination", would be pleased.


La Litterature and Le Mal (Collection Folio/Essais)
La Litterature and Le Mal (Collection Folio/Essais)
by Georges Bataille
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literature and Evil, 13 Aug. 2012
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Bataille's book came out in 1957. It is a ground-breaking study of the way great writers grapple with evil as an intrinsic ingredient in great art. The shock for English readers is that William Blake and Emily Bronte appear beside the satanically revolutionary Marquis de Sade, Baudelaire and Jean Genet. It has been argued that blasphemy and obscenity are close sisters to all great art. But Blake, and even more so Emily Bronte, surely not! Bataille will tell you why and how. My reason for revisiting this seminal book was a desire to follow up my viewing of Kiju Yoshida's 1988 film version of WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Yoshida says he only came to film Wuthering Heights after reading Bataille's LITERATURE AND EVIL. Emily Bronte was not writing romance for teen-age girls, she was engaging with the problem of evil as part and parcel of daily life (even in Yorkshire!). Literature itself is an expression of evil. Food for thought even if you find Bataille extremely irritating. Check it out. Question More, as the mission statement of Russian Television puts it. Other chapters in the book are on Kafka and Michelet. This Folio paperback edition is a 2010 reprint. It looks, feels and smells beautiful!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 13, 2012 7:17 PM BST


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