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Michael Brooke (Worthing, Sussex, England)

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Toshiba BDX1200 Blu-Ray Player with BD Live
Toshiba BDX1200 Blu-Ray Player with BD Live

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly great, but..., 12 Sept. 2012
I've been using a Toshiba BDX-1200 for the better part of a year, and I've mostly been delighted with it - the picture and sound quality are both first rate, largely because it doesn't seem to "enhance" the signal so you're essentially getting what's on the disc with no interference. It's played every Blu-ray and DVD that I've thrown at it, including BD-Rs and DVD-Rs, though it won't handle DVD-Audio or SACD.

My major niggle, which is why I'm only giving it three stars, is that with certain discs there's a brief but very noticeable judder - the first time I saw it, I assumed it was down to a faulty disc, but on investigating further it turned out to be a known problem - have a look at the opening car chase in 'Drive' for a good example. Most discs play perfectly, but when they're affected by the judder it can be very noticeable indeed (it was so bad in 'A Separation' that I ended up watching it on my PS3) - and after several months with no sign of a fix I upgraded to the BDX-3200, which has all the advantages of its little brother, but also doesn't seem to have any playback problems (at least so far).

Czech and Slovak Cinema: Theme and Tradition (Traditions in World Cinema)
Czech and Slovak Cinema: Theme and Tradition (Traditions in World Cinema)
by Peter Hames
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.98

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Sight & Sound review in full, 30 Oct. 2010
After I finished laughing at the way Amazon unconvincingly turned my Sight & Sound review into a series of slam-bang money-quotes by taking sentences out of context and adding exclamation marks, I thought it might be useful to post the original in full. So here goes:

Peter Hames' previous book The Czechoslovak New Wave (2005) was the seminal English-language history of Czech cinema, casting its net far wider than the title's 1960s-centred remit would suggest. It's still the first recommendation for anyone seeking to explore the region's film output, though Hames has now produced a follow-up that, while unavoidably overlapping his previous work, also addresses many important omissions.

As the title implies, it's not a chronological history but a collection of themed essays on history, comedy, realism, politics, the Holocaust, lyricism, the absurd, the avant garde, surrealism and animation. It draws on almost the entire corpus of Czech and Slovak cinema, from its earliest pre-World War I fumblings to brand new features such as Agnieszka Holland's just-completed Polish-Slovak film about Janosik, 'the Slovak Robin Hood', one of many historical/ legendary figures to be thoroughly contextualised. Essential but formerly marginalised talents such as Jiri Trnka and Karel Zeman now rightly enjoy pride of place in the chapter on animation, alongside the inevitable Jan Svankmajer.

Eager to rectify a shortcoming of the earlier book, Hames devotes much space to Slovak cinema, including an entire closing chapter on its main proponents (Stefan Uher, Juraj Jakubisko, Elo Havetta, Dusan Hanak and Martin Sulik) and numerous citations elsewhere. He doesn't pretend that the essays are all-encompassing (for instance, the chapter on politics is heavily weighted towards post-1960s films); one of his stated aims is to provide inspiration and encouragement for further research into still under-explored fields. Accordingly, a 14-page bibliography offers an admirably comprehensive list of English-language resources. A list of English-subtitled DVDs would have been equally welcome (the total is well into triple figures. albeit mostly on Czech and Slovak labels), but that's a minor quibble about an otherwise invaluable book. (September 2009)

Coi Collection: Volume 4 - Stop! Look! Listen! [DVD]
Coi Collection: Volume 4 - Stop! Look! Listen! [DVD]
Dvd ~ Documentary
Price: £9.48

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The full list of titles, 18 Oct. 2010
Disc One

Thirty Miles An Hour (1949)
A Moment's Reflection (1968)
Highway Code - Woodenhead (1949)
Too Close For Comfort (1971)
Ending It All (c1970)
Mind How You Go (1973)
Sewing Machine (1973)
Drive Carefully Darling (1975)
Accident in Park Road (1988)
Look Out For Trouble (c1980)
Joe & Petunia - Coastguard (2006 version)
No Short Cut (1964)
Betcher! (1971)
Magpies - House (1984)
Bonus on Disc 1:
I Stopped, I Looked and I Listened (1975)

Disc Two

20 Times More Likely (1979)
A Game of Chance (1961)
Apaches (1977)
Lonely Water (1973)
Building Sites Bite (1978)
Never Go With Strangers (1971)
Absent Parents (1982)
Searching (1974)
Every Five Minutes (1951)
Fire Routine (1979)
Andy Lights The Fire (1980)
Drink Drive Eyes (1992)

I have to declare a personal interest in that I contributed some of the booklet notes - but Amazon insists that all comments must have star ratings attached. But I'd give it five stars even if I was totally independent - and I suspect I won't be the only one. I grew up with the 1970s titles, and it's a particular treat being able to revisit longer films like 'Apaches' and 'Building Sites Bite'.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 28, 2010 9:47 AM BST

Shadows of Progress: Documentary films in post-war Britain 1951-1977 [DVD]
Shadows of Progress: Documentary films in post-war Britain 1951-1977 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Various

77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A full list of titles, 9 Oct. 2010

David (Paul Dickson, 1951, 38 mins)
To Be A Woman (Jill Craigie, 1951, 18 mins)
The Island (Peter Pickering, 1952, 25 mins)
The Elephant will Never Forget (John Krish, 1953, 10 mins)
Sunday by the Sea (Anthony Simmons, 1953, 13 mins)
Henry (Lindsay Anderson, 1955, 4 mins)
Foot and Mouth (Lindsay Anderson, 1955, 20 mins)
Birthright (Sarah Erulkar, 1958, 25 mins)
They Took Us To The Sea (John Krish, 1961, 26 mins)
Faces of Harlow (Derrick Knight, 1964, 30 mins)


Thursday's Children (Lindsay Anderson & Guy Brenton, 1954, 20 mins)
There Was a Door... (Derek Williams, 1957, 30 mins)
People Apart (Guy Brenton, 1957, 36 mins)
Return to Life (John Krish, 1960, 29 mins)
Four People (Guy Brenton, 1962, 41 mins)
A Time to Heal (Derrick Knight, 1963, 40 mins)
Time Out of Mind (Eric Marquis, 1968, 38 mins)


Three Installations (Lindsay Anderson, 1952, 23 mins)
The Film That Never Was (Paul Dickson, 1957, 30 mins)
Stone into Steel (Paul Dickson, 1960, 37 mins)
From First to Last (Anthony Simmons, 1962, 30 mins)
People, Productivity and Change (Peter Bradford, 1963, 44 mins)
Shellarama (Richard Cawston, 1965, 14 mins)
Picture to Post (Sarah Erulkar, 1969, 23 mins)
The Shadow of Progress (Derek Williams, 1970, 26 mins)


Today in Britain (Peter Hopkinson, 1964, 19 mins)
I Think They Call Him John (John Krish, 1964, 28 mins)
Portrait of Queenie (Michael Orrom, 1964, 46 mins)
Education for the Future (Derrick Knight, 1967, 10 mins)
Tomorrow's Merseysiders (Eric Marquis, 1974, 25 mins)
Time of Terror (Eric Marquis, 1975, 18 mins)
The Shetland Experience (Derek Williams, 1977, 27 mins)

There's also a new 42-minute documentary, 'Perspectives on Documentary Filmmaking' that interviews half a dozen of the filmmakers mentioned above.

I have to declare an interest in that I was one of the contributors to the accompanying 100-page booklet, but Amazon insists that all reviews have star ratings attached. That said, I'm pretty confident that this won't be the only five-star one when it's released: it really is an extraordinary collection, fully up to the curatorial standards of its predecessor 'Land of Promise'.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2011 6:16 PM GMT

Ultimate Ears Triple fi 10 Earphones - Metallic Blue
Ultimate Ears Triple fi 10 Earphones - Metallic Blue

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the Shure equivalent for one important reason, 17 April 2009
I've been a very satisfied Shure customer with regard to sound quality, but as a very heavy user (three hours' daily commuting plus extensive office use) I was less than impressed with the longevity of the E500's cables. I replaced my first set after less than a year (under warranty, fortunately), but they also wore down worryingly quickly, forcing me to look for a replacement once I lost the sound in one of the earbuds.

Thankfully, I found one - because while the sound quality and other specs of the Ultimate Ears 10 are more or less identical to the Shures, the crucial difference is that Ultimate Ears make the cables fully replaceable. As a result, I have much more confidence that they will last much longer.

I also found, contrary to expectations, that the 10 earbuds fitted my ears rather more comfortably than the Shures, and I wasn't the slightest bit bothered that they stuck out a bit more, though that's an aesthetic issue that might affect others more than me. And because of the better fit, I also found the sound of the Ultimate Ears to be more satisfying, though they're both absolutely outstanding.

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