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Olav "?" (Oslo, Norway)

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Play Dirty [Blu-ray]
Play Dirty [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Michael Caine
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Men on a mission. Enough said., 21 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Play Dirty [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This is a competent "men-on-a-mission" movie where Michael caine and a band of misfits (of course!) venture behind enemy lines. There are no real surprises to be had here, but there's a certain friction between Caine and the rest of his men that makes the movie worthwhile to watch nevertheless.

Made in the late 60's, the movie is filled with the disillusionment with all things military that, with few exceptions, filled all films about war and the military in that era.

This is a good film for lazy sundays after a night out, provided the sound isn't on too loud. ;)


The Caine Mutiny [Blu-ray] [1954]
The Caine Mutiny [Blu-ray] [1954]
Dvd ~ Humphrey Bogart
Price: £7.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The mutiny that wasn't., 21 Jun. 2015
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We follow a young ensign from a rich family (one of the infamous 90-day wonders) as he gets his first comission aboard a minesweeper. He has issues with his domineering mother, but little is made of that other than that he has a little too much respect for people in a position of power. After a few scrapes with the Caine's original captain, he is delighted to hear that they'll get a new captain, namely Queeg. Queeg strikes you as tough but fair at first, but it soon becomes evident that he is anything but. The middle third of the film is a blow-by-blow account of how Queeg slowly comes unglued, and how he tries to assert control by more and more absurd means. It culminates in the eponymous mutiny, and a trial follows.

This film is a rare treat. Like "12 o'clock high" it's about the strain of combat and command. Humphrey Bogart's Captain Queeg is painted as a vain and slightly paranoid officer that is beginning to crack. I think this might be his most nuanced and complex portrayal of any of his characters, and I must admit that my admiration for him increased sharply after seeing this movie.

The best part of the movie is the trial and the impassioned speech Jose Ferrer makes when the trial is over and done with.

I don't really see the point of including the romance, and the acting is at times wooden. I subtracted one star for that, and for the few flagwaving moments thrown in there to appease the navy. (At least, that's what I suspect.)

Those minor points aside, I can easily recommend the movie for most adult audiences. It's fun to see a young Lee Marvin in a minor part as Sailor "Meatball". The actor later portraying sgt. Joe Friday in Dragnet (the TV series) also has a minor part.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 3, 2015 7:59 PM BST


Theirs Is The Glory Remastered Edition [DVD]
Theirs Is The Glory Remastered Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stanley Maxted
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £5.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Market-Garden recreated by the men who fought there., 21 Jun. 2015
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This movie is a good companion piece to "A Bridge Too far". I say companion piece because the two films complement each other. The focus in "Theirs is the glory" is exclusively on the british 1st Airborne Division and the battle they fought in the Arnhem-Oosterbek areas, whereas "A Bridge Too far" looks at the whole operation.

It is interesting to note the differences in the stories and the tones of the two movies. "Theirs is the glory" is a retelling of the battle with the veterans that fought there, in the actual battlefield. It is evident both in the wooden delivery of lines and the professional battlefield conduct that these are amateur actors but veteran soldiers, recreating a harrowing event. The tone in "Theirs is the glory" is one of a weary sort of pride. Conspicuously absent is any mention of defective radio sets, faulty intelligence, or the fact that the whole Market-Garden plan was, at best, a risky gamble.

The movie is intercut with documentary clips to heighten the realism. The most effective scene in the movie is one where a canadian reporter gives an account of a failed supply drop. His voice carries over documentary clips of transport planes crashing and burning and reaction shots of the troopers as they first smile at the prospect of being resupplied only to turn to despair when they realize that the planes are dropping the supplies to the germans.

It is also a treat to see real german armor in action. I counted at least two Panther tanks and two Tiger 1 tanks as well as a tank destroyer I believe to be a Hetzer. (But that's just nitpicking really.) I'd recommend this film to history buffs and war movie buffs. I think anyone else might find this film a bit dull. I for one enjoyed it.


We Were Soldiers [DVD] (2002)
We Were Soldiers [DVD] (2002)
Dvd ~ Mel Gibson
Offered by Amore DVD
Price: £3.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The passion of the grunt, or: Mad Max: Beyond Rolling Thunder., 17 July 2014
Having read the book, and being a veteran from a war zone myself, I found this film to be an appalling piece of propaganda.

****WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!****

I've read Galloway's book, "We were soldiers once... and young". The book depicts, unflinching and unwavering, the battles in Ia Drang valley in November 1965. Yes, battleS! The fight for LZ X-Ray was but one engagement in what would prove to be, up to that time, the bloodiest battle for the USA in Vietnam.

There is little to be said about the training footage and portrayal of the soldiers. They were often true believers and dedicated to the task at hand, and the training footage is a great way to get to know the men.

Then we get to Vietnam, and it looks good. The uniforms and equipment looks authentic. We get a simplified account of the events leading up to the battle which is fair enough, though irritating. It would have cost maybe five or six more lines to flesh out the why's and wherefore's. The bombardment of the LZ is spot on, and I love the way they use proper hand signals to maintain sound discipline. (Although that's a bit redundant after first bombarding the LZ before landing in noisy old Hueys and opening fire 'just in case'.) Then the movie starts going south in my opinion.

First off, 2nd Lieutenant Herrick is portrayed (by Marc Blucas) as something of a reckless... idiot. He spots a vietnamese scout and goes tearing after him with his whole platoon. They fly smack dab into NVA soldiers and are promptly surrounded. What really happened (according to the book) was this: Herrick didn't land with his platoon in the first wave. When they DID land they were sent to fill gaps in the lines. Due to miscommunication, Herrick charged through the american lines with his platoon and got cut off as a consequence.

Why, oh why do they feel the need to tell us beforehand that Jimmy Nakayama will meet a grisly end? The facts in the film are true: he was killed by american napalm, and his baby was born the same day he got injured. Joe Galloway really did carry him to the helicopter, and he still has nightmares about Nakayama's flesh being instantly cooked by the napalm and sliding off his bones. I find it bordering on disrespectful manipulation of the audience when Nakayama is introduced thus:

- Hi, I'm Jimmy Nakayama! My baby's being born today!
- (Joe Galloway answers) Oh wow congratulations! (They shake hands)

Bear in mind that this little exchange takes place with bullets whizzing over their heads...
That's all we get to see and hear from Nakayama before he gets cooked and gravely wounded.
Top marks for make-up of the burns, by the way.

I always wondered about the civilian in the operations centre. The guy with the weaselly voice that states that losing a bunch of draftees is a bad week while losing a colonel is a massacre. When Moore calls "Broken Arrow", the civilian, after being told what that means, growls: "My God. There's no hiding it now!" Hiding what, exactly? People KNEW they were fighting a war in Vietnam by then. An unnecessary and ridiculous addition that adds nothing to the film.

Finally, there's that idiotic bayonet charge. It never happened. What happened was that another battalion had to go in on foot to relieve Moore's 1/7 battalion. When Moore and his men had been flown out, the relieving battalion (2/5?) had to march back the same way they came in because the area was supposed to be bombed by B-52's to root out the remnants of the NVA units in the area. The relieving battalion walked right into an ambush, bringing the final american death tally of the Ia Drang campaign up to 239 KIA.

All in all, I was disappointed. I especially loathed how each american death was its own little passion play while we witness them slaughtering hundreds and thousands of vietnamese. If you want to watch a good Vietnam movie, I'd recommend A Bright Shining Lie with Bill Paxton, 84 Charlie Mopic, or The Odd Angry Shot. The latter is an australian movie about SAS troopers in the jungles of Vietnam.

Steer clear of this film.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 23, 2015 5:57 PM BST


The War That Never Was
The War That Never Was
by Duff Hart-Davis
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars A spot of bother in Yemen., 1 Aug. 2013
This review is from: The War That Never Was (Hardcover)
In 1962-1967, british and french mercenaries trained and led royalist forces in a guerilla war against egyptian and republican forces in Yemen. The story reads like a thriller with ex-special forces, implicit knowledge of operations by MI-6, financial backing by Saudi princes and covert supply drops by Israel.

Although the story is interesting I find the form in which it's presented to be lacking. The story should either be embellished with more details or be broader and less detailed. As it is, it is an unsatisfactory and very repetitive account of happenings deserving of a better author.

Having said that I still found it worth my while to read this book as it enlightened me on a hitherto (for me at least) unknown conflict.


Angels of Vengeance
Angels of Vengeance
by John Birmingham
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Payback's a bitch., 25 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Angels of Vengeance (Hardcover)
Part 3 in the "Without warning" trilogy. We follow three female protagonists on missions of vengeance, hence the title.
As always with Birmingham, the action is tense, bloody and decisive. He manages to create believable characters, often at odds with each other, each with his or her own justifications and agendas that seem reasonable enough when seen from their points of view.

What started out as a globe-encompassing story in "Without warning" has ended up, through "After America", as a story of personal (and in one case petty) vendettas. Characters from book one resurface, complete with their own backstories.
Without giving too much away, the book ends on a satisfying note but....

SPOILER WARNING! SPOILER ALERT! READ NO FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY READ THE BOOKS!

Why do we never get an explanation of what the energy wave that laid waste to North America was?


Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II
Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II
by Keith Lowe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Liberation. Then what?, 23 Jun. 2013
This book is a very thorough and evenhanded review of Europe after World War 2. The author touches on most aspects of goings-on in Europe 1944-1949. The book is filled to the brim with stories about a continent torn apart, trying to reconcile itself with what's happened. It is not an easy read, but a rewarding one if you're tired of the myths of a unified Europe on the one hand and the Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theorists on the other.

No punches are pulled in the retelling of post-war genocide and pogroms, as well as stories about mistreatment of german POW's and civilians and the abuses of girls who loved german soldiers. We are told about how some axis countries got off lighter than others, how fascists sometimes stayed in power and how some reforms in the name of justice became undone. We also get a good account of how communists seized power in many countries and the conequences thereof. To recount all the grim stories in this book would be counterproductive and would take far too long.

This is a thoroughly researched book with excellent critique of its sources, and the author goes to great lengths to elaborate whenever numbers he cites are in dispute. He also strives to serve stories and numbers in their proper context, ensuring that the reader manages to follow the authors thread throughout.

I found this book to be a remarkable eyeopener regarding post-war Europe. The consequences of the war are felt to this day.
Read it!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 22, 2013 8:30 PM GMT


Passport To Pimlico [DVD]
Passport To Pimlico [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stanley Holloway
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £8.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Eccentric Londoners in a kerfuffle., 23 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Passport To Pimlico [DVD] (DVD)
This movie is set in the early post-ww2 years. Rationing is a part of everyday life and ruined buildings after the Blitz still pepper the cityscape of London. After a left over bomb detonates, a tomb with treasure and a parchment proclaiming that Pimlico is a part of Burgundy is found. Being suddenly inhabitants of a piece of France in England, the inhabitants of Pimlico no longer feel they need to ration or pay taxes to Great Britain. Then it escalates.

Light in tone, this film deals with real problems facing the citizens of most countries post-ww2. After the war, rationing was still in effect for many years and sometimes it was hard to make ends meet. This film addresses these issues with humour and wit.


After America
After America
by John Birmingham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Apocalypse, what now?, 23 Jun. 2013
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Set a year or so after the apocalypse that depopulated most of North America, this book deals with the resettlement of the continent, predominantly the USA. The main perspectives are; a mexican farmer and his daughter, uprooted after a massacre, on a cattle drive; a british adventurer and her comrade-in-arms The Rhino on a journey to New York to retrieve some important papers; President Kipper and his unwanted burden of responsibility and leadership; Caitlin (Commando Barbie!) and her continued search for a terrorist who continues to make her life hell. We also get a few chapters where the story is told from the viewpoint of a young jihadist, a nice touch.

Chaos, lawlessness, opportunities and opportunists are words one can use to describe the overall story arc. One does not always sympathize with the main characters, but their motivations are understandable, given their circumstances. What Birmingham does well is to create well-rounded and believable characters. He also makes such bold moves storywise as to leave you gasping for air. A thrilling read!


Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories (Oxford World's Classics)
Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories (Oxford World's Classics)
by M. R. James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Eek! Ghosts and unpleasantness!, 14 May 2013
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This annotated collection of M.R. James' ghost stories is a good buy if you like stories about professors and other scholars in tweed (often while on holiday) stumble onto something that releases dark powers.

The stories aren't very suspenseful, given that you can spot key plot elements a mile off, but it's still a charming and fun read. This book is best when read in a cottage far away from other people while the wind howls and the rain spatters outside. :)


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