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Mr. Philip Baird (Isle of Man)
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The Curse of Brink's-Mat: Twenty-five Years of Murder and Mayhem - The Inside Story of the 20th Century's Most Lucrative Armed Robbery
The Curse of Brink's-Mat: Twenty-five Years of Murder and Mayhem - The Inside Story of the 20th Century's Most Lucrative Armed Robbery
by Wensley Clarkson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

2.0 out of 5 stars If it's cockney geezers you're looking for....., 10 May 2014
This is comic book crime loosely based on Brinks-Mat, the basic facts of the case, and its cast of characters; the writing is particularly bad, and it doesn't ring true at all. It feels more of a fictionalised account aimed at the semi-literate wanting some vicarious easy thrills and a fairground ride through East End villainy. It's full of cliches and stereotypes and at many points it's just not believable. The saving grace is the story itself, and it deserves a better book. This just skims the surface and if that's all you want and you don't mind the racy style then I suppose that's fine. I think there's a huge story to be told about this and much more that could be said. Sadly, in this case, you really can judge a book by looking at the cover.


Ooh La La: An Island Harvest
Ooh La La: An Island Harvest
Price: 10.60

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh Ronnie, how we miss you, 14 Mar 2014
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I'd held off buying this at first, thinking that I had most of the tracks on other CDs, and that there were a few essential cuts not on here. A foolish mistake. This is an absolute 'must buy' for all Ronnie's fans, or anybody who likes real homegrown music from the 1970's. The remastering has really buffed up these songs, and this is how they should've been heard in the first place. Tracks which I'd thought were fairly mediocre by Ronnie's standards, shine like jewels here, and really come alive for the first time. It's a lovely old box of treasures, full of love, warmth and humanity, and Ronnie's charm and character really comes through in the remastered vocals, so much more than on previous releases. It's music to take to the shed, with all your old fishing rods, magazines and memories; for there are better days contained in these songs, wisdom, experience, and lessons learned along the way. Ronnie was wise, way beyond his years; and I wonder if he knew how good a song Debris was ? It's perhaps the best song about fathers and sons ever written; beautifully understated, with vivid imagery of a time and place, and so much of life's awkwardness left unsaid, between the lines. The version here captures it all.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2014 7:08 PM BST


Tommy
Tommy
Price: 5.91

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The genie doesn't quite get out of the bottle...., 25 Jan 2014
This review is from: Tommy (Audio CD)
I can see what Pete Townshend was trying to do with Tommy, but although it has been hugely popular and successful in all its forms, the end result doesn't quite work for me. I admire Pete and the Who tremendously but IMHO I think he should have perhaps left it for a few years and reshaped it. You wonder if his Lifehouse project a few years later would have also been the same curate's egg, had it not been reconceived and given early birth as a single album in the masterpiece that was Who's Next. This is what should have happened with Tommy. The later Quadrophenia was a far stronger and consistent piece of work, a wonderful blend of everything the Who were about, and a narrative rooted in a real world, wholly recognisable and beautifully worked out in its marvellous conclusion. Quadrophenia was grandly conceived but far less overblown than Tommy, with only the occasional longeur in between some of the greatest rock music ever written and performed. Ken Russell's film of Tommy was a complete mess, and took its excess even further instead of cutting it back into a leaner and sharper vision of alienated and abused youth. Part of the problem is the central character of Tommy being deaf, dumb and blind. The metaphor is obvious, but he would have been a much stronger character had he, like Jimmy, been more of a recognisable figure, and the world as deaf, dumb and blind to his emotions and anxieties. The Who had already visited this territory successfully in their three minute singles and the mini-rock opera of A Quick One While He's Away, but Tommy was perhaps a product of the times, of spiritual fumblings and the push towards the art form that rock was very soon to become. Townshend and the Who were at the very centre of this movement and in my book its greatest exponents, but Tommy, despite some wonderful passages, lacks coherence and consistency. There's a wonderful concept and vision in there but sadly it wasn't quite realised.


Live At Koko, Camden Town, London, March 2013 [DVD] [NTSC]
Live At Koko, Camden Town, London, March 2013 [DVD] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Wilko Johnson
Price: 14.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilko shoots out the lights with guns blazing, 24 Dec 2013
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The best twelve quid I've spent this Christmas, and the gig of the year. Wilko turned a sad farewell into a joyous celebration of life. The audience who got to see their hero were very lucky to be there, for they witnessed something very special. Thankfully, for the rest of us, it's all captured in this wonderful concert video. The sound is absolutely superb and even on my pre-Edison system you can hear Wilko's telecaster in all its glory. The editing is superb too and really enhances the excitement and, shall we say...'ombience' of the occasion ! Norman and Dylan play their socks off for Wilko, and clearly enjoy being behind the master. Wilko does most of the old tricks that age and health still allow, hoovering around the stage like a mad dalek and pulling those tombstone faces. There's a lovely moment when he comes back on for the final encore and the emotion just catches him for a split second when he thanks the audience. The very last number even picks the energy up a notch further and then off he goes for the final time. The audience would have carried him off, borne aloft like a triumphant Roman if only they could have. As I write this, Wilko's still going, recording a new CD; and I like to think that at least a part of this is down to the adulation and affection of his legions of fans the world over, who are with him to the very end.


The Malta Story [DVD]
The Malta Story [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alec Guinness
Price: 5.34

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Had to correct the positive reviews of this one, 13 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Malta Story [DVD] (DVD)
I'm a huge fan of Ealing films, and they made some real classics, but this is not one of them. Even if they didn't and couldn't (This was 40's / early 50's cinema) achieve a high degree of realism, many of their films still carried an emotional truth, or a truth of the heart that somehow captured the best of Englishness. Their war films, for all the phoniness and RADA trained lovelies playing Corkney gels, kerryin' orn an' all thet, still captured something of value and a spirit that we could recognise behind the propaganda. Usually, a decency and essential values still shone through and a correct tone of sorts was struck.

The one star rating here is for the newsreel and documentary footage of Malta in wartime, and for the fact that at least many of the scenes were actually filmed in Malta. This footage and location shooting is the only glue which holds this bad Airfix model together. It completely fails to tell the story adequately, even given the limitations of a two hour film, and the production values of the period. It's almost a betrayal of what the people of Malta went through. Alec Guinness, as brilliant as he was in Bridge Over The River Kwai, is as awful in this, betraying no emotion or any evidence of acting or involvement whatsoever. Jack Hawkins, although a fine actor, plays Jack Hawkins, and the rest of the cast is mostly the usual round-up of tally-ho Charlies and chocks away. I think the very first line of the screenplay sets the tone for the rest of the film: "If there's a doctor in the house, could he please come to the stage door."

I think there's a new film in the making but I suspect that it will be the usual parade of British acting aristocracy and those born into the purple of the English theatre. I hope I'm wrong because the wonderful people of Malta deserve so much more.


Top of the Lake [DVD]
Top of the Lake [DVD]
Dvd ~ Elisabeth Moss
Price: 7.50

9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Jane Campion, No !, 11 Sep 2013
This review is from: Top of the Lake [DVD] (DVD)
Truly awful tosh this one. Watched it with an open mind, expecting something good but dear oh deary me. Hysterical characterisation, awful dialogue of the 'did she really just say that ?' variety; and a warped feminist revenge plot. Even worse than that earlier over-rated nonsense in paradise, The Piano. What was Holly Hunter doing here again ? The normally excellent Peter Mullen must be regretting ever going near this, and poor Elizabeth Moss's wonderful career trajectory was sadly misdirected. I hope she can recover from this. Some terrible supporting characters too, as implausible as they were too often stereotypical. Thank God for Montalbano on a Saturday evening.


Caribou
Caribou
Price: 5.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Strong contender for 'Best Album In The Worst Cover' award, 25 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Caribou (Audio CD)
Very under-rated entry in the Elton and Bernie catalogue. Although there were moments of indulgence and excess here, they didn't dilute the overall quality of the album nearly as much as with the overstretched and flawed masterpiece that preceded it. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is a towering achievement but there is a nagging feel of the kitchen sink and Uncle Tom Cobbly about it. Caribou has a much smaller palette but all the songs are very strong, many of them equal the quality of the pair's finest work, and the dramatic highlight, 'Don't Let The Sun...' is arguably their greatest commercial release. Many of Elton and Bernie's best songs are less well known, tucked away among the more familiar, and several of them are here on Caribou. Its main weakness is perhaps the lack of a coherent, unifying theme and a sense that things were rushed; certainly the album cover was a ghastly mistake, but I also miss the acoustic feel of his earlier work. By the time of this release Elton was a superstar and the music had moved on. While still writing fantastic songs and lyrics, the production, instrumentation, and vocal delivery had changed, commercial stardust had been sprinkled over it, and the simple and effortless artistry beneath had become slightly obscured. All that said, this really is one of their best works; it has drama, emotion, fun, intelligence, silliness, seriousness and grit, probably all knocked off in a couple of weeks between tours. Just a shame about that cover.


Tunes of Glory [1960] [DVD]
Tunes of Glory [1960] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alec Guinness
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: 18.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful little oddity in the canon of great British films, 26 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Tunes of Glory [1960] [DVD] (DVD)
Hadn't seen this in years until recently, and am very impressed by it. Despite most of it being shot in the studio it achieves a real authenticity with the establishing shot of Stirling Castle and little more than a couple of location scenes. The dialogue is of the highest order, with some rich and fruity lines for Guinness in particular, in a part that is to die for. There is some marvellous tension and moral conflict at the heart of this drama that reminds me a little of that other masterpiece of ensemble acting about military loyalty, The Hill, with Sean Connery. Perhaps what Tunes of Glory does lack is that harder edged attack of the later films and acting style of the 60's. I'm a huge Alec Guinness fan but I'm not entirely convinced by his performance here, even though it's certainly one of his best. I'd love to see what a slightly later generation of Scottish actors could have done with the role, and I could imagine someone like the great Ian Bannen digging even deeper into the character of Jock Sinclair. John Mills also gets one of his most interesting screen roles, and although it's a very fine performance he too doesn't quite convince as the psychologically damaged victim of a harsh prisoner of war camp. He really showed what he could do in this area in the later Ryan's Daughter, but here it's as if he let Guinness slightly overshadow him. I'd have liked to see what Richard Attenborough could have done as Barrow in Tunes of Glory, and I think, as he would prove many times on screen, that he could have painted a character more haunted by his experience. Kay Walsh was wonderful in everything she ever did, and reason alone for watching this movie. She was always a lovely blend of opposites, sexy, yet with a touching fragility; innocence and experience all rolled into one. Next to Kay, Susannah York is a bit 'one-note' but then she has much the lesser part. The film builds wonderfully to its climax, and the scene where Barrow shoots himself is indicative of the quality of this movie. Nothing in the scene is rushed, it all happens almost in real time, the under-playing is faithful to the mood and event, nothing is over-dramatized. This film is now over fifty years old so my slight reservations probably owe more to the fact that it was shot just on the cusp of a new era in British cinema, but already in Tunes of Glory you can begin to see the sort of doubt and self-examination that would characterise the new psychological realism and heightened emotion of the 1960's. When all is said and done it's a great movie of wonderful depth, complexity and intelligence, with marvellous acting, that repays repeated viewings, and I urge you to revisit it as I did.


Tokyo Decadence [DVD]
Tokyo Decadence [DVD]
Dvd ~ Miho Nikaidoh
Price: 4.72

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A metaphor for lost values in modern Japan ?, 14 Aug 2012
This review is from: Tokyo Decadence [DVD] (DVD)
I'm not sure if I'm falling for a familiar cliche of cinema here but it seems to me that you need to go beyond the explicit depiction of perverted sexuality here and see Tokyo Decadence as a critique of a hyper-capitalist urban Japan in which traditional and wholesome bonds of love and family connection have been twisted, and have metamorphosed into the dark interior world of fantasy, narcissism, individualism, and alienation. All the characters in this movie are victims of this cold and soul-less society, where 'love' has been commodified and packaged into strange shapes and forms. Traditional characteristics of a pre-capitalist Japan such as respect and submission have been perverted into egotistic self-gratification and abasement before the new invisible god of money and exploitation. From the outset, the biggest victim, like a refugee from an Ozu film, is the beautiful and fragile Ai (the Japanese word for 'love' apparently) played by Miho Nikaido, adrift in a world where she doesn't belong. Instead of giving her selfless love to the man she has lost, she is reduced, perhaps out of a false sense of inadequacy and rejection, to servicing and fulfilling the desires of men who she can satisfy and make happy, although even in this she feels a sense of failure. It is one of the most heartbreaking aspects of this film that such a beautiful girl is wanted not for who she really is but for what she appears to be. The saddest episode is the most poetic scene where she journeys from the city into the suburbs to find her (and Tokyo's ?) lost heart and innocence. High on the drugs that she has become dependent on, she appears now as the little girl lost, a doll in a pretty dress trying to find her way back home to innocence, love, and nature. Her search is fruitless and she meets nothing but grotesques and the phantoms of her mind. Even her child-like dreams have become like the dark underworld of her clients. A beautiful shot of a simple bench and trees in a park gives us a glimpse of a world that she would once of inhabited but the film ends powerfully with her anonymously in motion through the rush of the city and a close-up of the red leather carrier that contains the 'tokens' of the love she brings.


White Mischief [DVD] (1987)
White Mischief [DVD] (1987)
Dvd ~ Charles Dance
Price: 4.74

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully realised piece of cinema, 13 Aug 2012
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This review is from: White Mischief [DVD] (1987) (DVD)
This film is a great achievement, makes its points with balance and subtlety, beautifully acted and directed and looks fabulous. It's like looking at an exotic aquarium as all these brightly coloured fish swim before your eyes, cold and unemotional but beautiful to look at. The acting bats right down the order with Joss Ackland magnificent as the cuckolded husband. His scenes with Charles Dance are marvellous, and his character carries so much authenticity and weight. Charles Dance is at his very best too, utterly convincing as the rakish cad, never overplaying his hand and acting with great restraint. Greta Scacchi is luminous as Ackland's adulterous bride and her acting is of the highest order when she could so easily just have been beautiful eye candy. The only character I'm unsure of is Sarah Miles but her fay portrayal of an American socialite is never intrusive, and had she played the character in a more expansive, and perhaps stereotypical way, it might have upset the balance of the film, the fulcrum of which was the central love triangle. She does however have some memorable scenes, not least the mortuary scene (a brave and bold piece of direction) and is the cause of the wonderful last scene in the cemetery as the mourners drink cocktails while floating around her grave. The closing shot of the beautiful Kenyan boy, centre frame, with the last drink left on the silver tray as he turns to the camera, is full of dramatic meaning and is marvellously prophetic. The screenplay is wonderfully written with not a word wasted, and there are some very convincing cameo roles for great acting talent such as Trevor Howard in his last role. Having played this sort of character many times in a glittering career he really brings gravitas to the part and with the rest of the supporting cast really gives the film a solid foundation. A real triumph for Michael Radford and a wonderful production team that pulled off this forgotten masterpiece. Cocktails all round.


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