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Profile for T. J. Cotterill > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
T. J. Cotterill "Smog_Monster" (West Midlands, UK)

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The Ladykillers (The Studio Canal Collection) [Blu-ray]
The Ladykillers (The Studio Canal Collection) [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Alec Guinness
Price: £15.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice restoration but where are the vibrant colours?, 19 July 2013
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I approached this edition with excitement, being one of my top 100 films. Alas although the restoration is very good, the work carried out being showcased in the restoration featurette, but why are the colours so muted?
The overly dark sections have been brightened, however, this appaers to be at the expense of the very well lit scenes and the colours particularly of the oufits worn by the ladies at the tea party appear muted to me. On the other hand, the exteriors tend to retain the vibrancy of the early technicolor process.
Overall a great improvement, but I would expect a revisit to the restoration in a few years time. Extra supplied are superb. Overall, this release is worth the extra money for the extra's over the "vanilla" edition.

The Lavender Hill Mob (60th Anniversary Edition) - Digitally Restored [Blu-ray] [1951]
The Lavender Hill Mob (60th Anniversary Edition) - Digitally Restored [Blu-ray] [1951]
Dvd ~ Alec Guinness
Offered by Rikdev Media
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice restoration but by no means faultless, 19 July 2013
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As Blu Ray resotorations go, this is a little disappointing, although perfectly undersatndable. I read that early in Studio Canal's ownership (when they were Lumiere) several of the Ealing negatives were destroyed in a fire whilst awaiting transfer. The print here appears to bear that out. Whilst it is very good, with the contrast levels being particulary crisp, problems such as visible . sprocket printing are obvious and the dirt and scratched left are still very noticeable. That having said, it is a wonderful film that is in the best state that i have seen it in since the late seventies and even then, i'm sure a high res source of the day would have proved me wrong. Nice to see the Mavis interview with T.E.B Clarke and the Channel 4 Documentary, alas both in SD, but never mind. Keep up the good work Studio Canal, but how long do we have to wait for Mr Crichton's Hue and Cry?

They Came From Beyond Space [DVD]
They Came From Beyond Space [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert Hutton
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally Studio Canal deliver reasonable print after many (out of copyright?) releases of this UK low buget Sci Fi classic, 19 July 2013
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If you read all the reviews, most prior to the Autumn 2012 issue refer to numerous mainly U S releases that may or may not have been released when the film was out of copyright. I myself have been stupid enough to buy one of those titles and can only agree with the other reviewers. This Studio Canal release dating from 2012, however is a monumental increase in Video and Audio qualuty. The print is showing it's age and may never get to the stage of the Blu Ray restorations that Hammer and Ealing are receiving. That having said, this is probably the best you'll ever get. NB The last image on this print indicates it was an Embassy release, which would have been the original US distibutor. Amicus who made the film were (to my knowledge) never distributed by Embassy in the UK) so this print was for overseas release but is far better than those releases by other companies. NB As freddie Francis directed both this and the Man In A Suitcase episode Which way did he go McGill?, it looks like he might have shot them back to back as the garage is featured in both. If you are interested, The Terronauts, 'sister' film to They Came.. is to be release shortly by Network DVD in the UK and features a pre-Doomwatch Simon Oates amongst other in the cast.

Sunshine Special E.P.
Sunshine Special E.P.
Price: £2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hawks year zero, 7 Oct. 2011
The sunshine special E.P. from Hawkwind Zoo featues tracks recorded by Hawkwind prior to their first eponymous album release. There are early mono versions of Hurry On Sundown, Kiss Of The Velvet Whip and a mono mix of their
cover of Pink Floyd's Cymbaline. Hurry... & Kiss... are also featured in stereo remixes of the tracks made in 1972.
None of the material here is unknown to diehard Hawkfans as it has been around on flicknife releases and bootlegs, however, they have never sounded better and are an important record of the genesis of the band who, within two years would be releasing the classic In Search of Space album.

The reason for 4 rather than 5 stars is the sample rate used. Being just a shade off 50, I prefer my music on CD to MP3, however, as the EP is only availabe as a download, I purchased it to complement the Parallel Universe 3 disc set (which i think is definitely 5 stars!). The EP has been sampled at variable bit rate, which i feel having paid hard earned money should be 330 kbs as an industry standard.

Bit rate gripe aside, I heartily recommend the EP to die hards or to people who only know Hawkwind from Silver Machine, a record which although it put Hawkwind in the mainstream for the next 10 years is to my mind, a lesser work when compared with Wind of Change or Spirit Of The Age.

Robocop [DVD] [1988] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Robocop [DVD] [1988] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by passionFlix UK
Price: £16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Shootin' Son, What's Your Name?, 2 Sept. 2010
if you haven't seen the movie, then I refer you to other reviews. My review concentrates on the technical quality of this release over others. This is one of my favourite titles, I have over the years, seen it theatrically on its release in 1987, rented it some months later and bought the sell through VHS when released. I later bought (and still have) the Criterion Collection "Director approved" two CAV laserdisc edition which cost me about £80 at the time. The picture quality was superb and was the first time the directors cut was available to buy. DVD brought the MGM trilogy set, which to my mind had too much blue in the clour and the branching between the theatrical and extended cuts was far from seamless resulting (on my players) in a pause not unlike that seen at layer change only worse. This 20th Anniversat edition is in a Steelbook, has DTS for the first time and the print has a colour balance much nearer to the Criterion Collection edition and as the two versions of the movies are on seperate discs, no branching issues apply!. There are also some new interviews. All in all, the best editon available so far,
pity no PAL region 2 release yet, but if you can play region 1, I recommend this one whole heartedly.

PS, if you have the Criterion set, don't ditch it as it has a commentary by Paul Verhoeven that has not been released on any other edition (and that 12" brushed stainless steel effect gatefold sleeve is superb!)

Noah's Castle - The Complete Series [DVD]
Noah's Castle - The Complete Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Annette Ekblom
Price: £12.99

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adult themes in an eighties children's TV classic, 22 April 2010
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I was really excited when I found out that Noah's Castle was to get a DVD release. Made in 1980 by Southern television, the ITV region serving the southeast, the series was intelligent, gripping and above all thought provoking. Unlike most childrens TV drama of today, it demands a lot of its audience and has a storyline you
would expect to have been written by the likes of Nigel Kneale and be broadcast after 9pm.
The plot is fairly straightforward; the UK's food supplies are running out causing the beginnings of unrest and
resulting in martial law. The main characters in the story are the Mortimer family and their friends.
Norman Mortimer sees the coming troubles and decided to make contingency plans. The family move to a house that has extensive cellars and begins stockpiling supplies. As the situation in the country as a whole worsens, the family
become fragmented with some allied to Norman and the rest sympathising with the plight of neighbours and friends.
In the midst of all this is Vince Holloway, a character one would have called a spiv in the 1940's but with an 80's edge, Vince (played by Mike Reid in one of his best performances) is made aware of the Mortimer's hoard by his
son, played by Lee Macdonald (several years before his Zammo Mcguire portrayal in Grange Hill). Also featured in an early role is Alun Lewis (Birds of A Feather, Emmerdale). The seven part series is still as gripping as it was on first viwing 30 years ago and i'm sad to say far more accomplished than anything currently being offered for
children's viewing.It may not have CGI or fast cutting but it does have a story and characters you belive in and care about. No M I High, Sarah Jane's Adventures or My Parents are Aliens here, why? because the writers treat their audience like adults not like an sdult's version of children. Watch it and be both entertained and engaged.

Hawkwind: At The BBC - 1972
Hawkwind: At The BBC - 1972
Price: £30.90

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After the Machine and before the Ritual, 22 April 2010
Nice to see the stereo edition of this Radio One in Concert from 1972 finally seeing an official realease.
Although poet & swazzle were missing as Bob Calvert was absent from the mothership at the time, Nik Turner
makes a valiant effort to fill his shoes. The concert and the previously unreleased BBC sessions were recorded
just after Silver Machine gave Hawkwind their first and biggest hit single and an appearance on TOTP.
The session is credited as being for Johnnie Walker, who along with John Peel would be the DJ's at radio one
who were most in tune with the music of Hawkwind, however the voice you hear is that of Mr "Sounds Of The 60's"
himself, none other than Brian Matthew! The content speaks for itself, almost an hour (on the mono disc) of a
typical set Hawkwind performed at that time, just prior to the "Space Ritual" tour to promote the "Doremi" album.
The session tracks are Silver Machine and a heavily truncated version of Brainstorm. The mono sound on disc one is about the best I have heard and the remastering tries its best to mask the condition of the tapes which although very listenable show signs of tape damage during the concert. The Stereo disc is an edited version of the concert.
The rationale in 1972 being; Radio One shared an FM frequency with Radio Two and was very much the junior partner, only being allocated a miserly number of stereo slots.Consequently, the concert was broadcast in full in mono on AM. However, as was the policy from late 1971 / early 1972, all concerts were recorded in stereo for the overseas markets. The stereo version had to be edited to allow for advert slots for the commercial radio stations of the world. The stereo version of the complete concert was junked at some point as the likelyhood of a repeat in the UK
was deemed either unlikely or would again be broadcast on AM.The mono concert has aready seen an official release by Windsong in the 90's but other than on bootlegs, the sessions and the stereo concert are only now reaching an
audience legitimately.The stereo mix is more involving than the mono but some of the vocals are lost in phasing and other effects, however as a testament to early Hawkwind, I would recommend it (half a star off for the sloppy session credit and the tape damage). Hopefully, the title At The BBC - 1972, means more material from other years may see the light of day. Roll on a re-issue of Live at Reading '86 and the Radio One in Concert from the Xenon Codex tour!

SERIE 01 - SCANAVO BOX - THE H (The House of Elliot)
SERIE 01 - SCANAVO BOX - THE H (The House of Elliot)
Offered by ____THE_BEST_ON_DVD____
Price: £7.43

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frocks in the Roaring Twenties, 5 Jun. 2009
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The First series of the House of Elliot spends roughly half of it's 12 episode run establishing the principle characters and their journey towards establishing The House of Elliot. Stella Gonet is particularly good in the role of older sister Beatrice, it is a pity that her tv appearances post Elliot have been few and far between.Louise Lombard on the other hand went from strength to strength in the UK and left for America to increase her profile. This may have been a mistake as she went from being a big fish in a little pond to a little fish in a big pond, a second string semi-regular role in a couple of seasons of CSI notwithstanding, she is still far from getting a-list recognition.
Back to the series, created by Eileen Atkins & Jean Marsh whose earlier creation Upstairs Downstairs needs no introduction, is very well made and
the serial format of the series keeps you coming back for more.
The only downside on this release would be the mastering and general presentation of the discs by the dutch company Memphis Belle. The episodes have a number of glitches, the menu system is a little strange and the four disc box is ugly and clunky, but the latter two quibbles are minor. The mastering is not Memphis Belle's fault as I borrowed a friends set of the series made by Acorn and the same faults appear.
I am sure that had BBC released it's own series, the faults would have been rectified by BBC resources prior to release. That is the price one pays for buying licensed product, but at least the licencees are prepared
to release the product that the BBC presumably feels there is no market for.In conclusion, if you are a fan of good period drama or just interested in nostalgia, I can recommend this series.

The Benny Hill Annuals 1970-1979 - The Complete 12 Disc Box Set [DVD]
The Benny Hill Annuals 1970-1979 - The Complete 12 Disc Box Set [DVD]
Dvd ~ Benny Hill

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hill is still alive with vintage Benny, 5 Jun. 2009
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This box features all the Benny Hill shows made by Thames TV between 1969 and 1979 plus a bonus unrelated show featuring Benny from 1970.
The sketches and songs still stand up very well and the picture and sound quality of the shows are excellent for a programme of it's age.
The only downside is the various musical interludes by the Ladybirds and others.
For the most part, I found them cringeworthy, but on the whole no, worse than other such slots in comedy shows of the 60's and 70's (remember the Fraser Hayes Four from Round the Horne? you get the idea).
I recommend this set wholeheartedly for people who are not afraid to enjoy archive comedy that is unashamedley politically incorrect, just skip the guest slots and you have TV heaven.

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