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Critical Reader (Norfolk, England)

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Sherlock Holmes - Tangled Skeins - Stories from the Notebooks of Dr. John H. Watson
Sherlock Holmes - Tangled Skeins - Stories from the Notebooks of Dr. John H. Watson
by David Marcum
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Entertaining Stories!, 30 May 2016
There are five highly entertaining stories in this collection, courtesy of the pen of David Marcum. They are all very varied, both in setting and in plot, which makes for a great, absorbing read. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, too, so you never quite know what is going to happen next. I would definitely recommend this collection to any Holmes fan feeling in need of a fresh 'fix' of the great detective's adventures.
I'm not going to repeat what others have said, but I'd just like to draw attention to one particular aspect of these stories, namely the opening paragraphs. These are always interesting and highly atmospheric, drawing the reader quickly and smoothly into the story. Mr Marcum seems to have a particular gift for this. For instance, the setting at the beginning of 'The Mystery at Kerrett's Rood' is a crowded train running into London from the north-western suburbs, stopping at every suburban station, in which Watson is idly eyeing the other travellers climbing into the crowded compartment. What develops from this? You will have to read it and see. Another example: at the beginning of 'The Gower Street Murder', Watson is walking back from Westminster to Baker Street under heavy skies when he is caught in a sudden very heavy downpour. He takes shelter in a doorway in a street just north of Piccadilly, where he is joined by another man. As they stand there, waiting for the rain to lighten up a little, the other man turns to him and speaks. 'You don't recognize me, do you, doctor?' he says, and from that beginning the story develops.
All in all, these are excellent stories, both original and effective, and I have no hesitation in recommending them.

Where the Truth Lies [DVD]
Where the Truth Lies [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kevin Bacon
Price: £5.99

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Very Boring Film, 21 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Where the Truth Lies [DVD] (DVD)
We have rented loads of very different films in the last year, but found this one the most boring by quite a way. After about twenty minutes of flahbacks, flash-forwards and flash-sideways I was in a state of almost catatonic boredom and confusion, and came close to turning it off completely. However, I stuck it out to the end, but it didn't really get much better. One of the basic problems with it is that every single character in it is both unpleasant and at the same time boring, and one has almost no interest in learning anything about any of them. From the very beginning of the film, it is clear that Vince and Lanny are a pair of utter sleaze-balls, so nothing you can possibly learn about them can make them seem any worse.
Clues to how poor this film really is are a) the complicated narrative style (the flashbacks etc), and b) the large amount of soul-less, boring sex in it. These are the two desperate remedies that film-makers always, but always fall back on when they realize that they have a real turkey on their hands. Save yourself an evening of tedium, and don't rent this.

The Way Ahead [DVD]
The Way Ahead [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Niven
Price: £4.00

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest, 25 Jan. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Way Ahead [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of the most affecting films I have ever seen, and makes me wonder how I could have passed so many years of life and never seen it before. It's difficult to pin down why it is so good - after all, to simply describe the bare bones of the plot would not make it sound anything special - but I think the sheer quality of the script is probably the most important thing. That is not, however, the only good thing about it: the direction, acting, and even the special effects are all exceptionally good. Above all, every character in the story is so realistic, and interesting to the viewer. As for David Niven's performance, that is close to perfection. If I had to mention just one specific scene from the film, I think it would be that unforgettable moment when, in a run-down bar, somewhere in the Western Sahara, the men start singing 'Lily of Laguna'. That must surely be one of the most memorable scenes ever put on celluloid. If that scene doesn't move you, nothing will. If, like me until a few weeks ago, you have never seen this film, buy it now, and experience a beautiful piece of cinematic history, made in England during the dark days of World War II.

Dunkirk [DVD]
Dunkirk [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Mills
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £14.99

110 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best war films I've ever seen, 10 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Dunkirk [DVD] (DVD)
I thought I knew the titles of just about all British war films (and had seen most of them), but for some reason I had never even heard of this one. This made me suspect that it wasn't very good, when I saw it advertised on Amazon, but I decided to buy it anyway, on the strength of the good reviews it seemed to be getting. How glad I am that I did! It is absolutely superb! It is brilliantly directed, so that it is gripping from first moment to last, and so utterly realistic and consistently interesting (it reminded me a little in that respect of the best parts of the recent "Band of Brothers"). I only ever bother to write reveiews of products that I think have been somewhat overlooked or under-appreciated, or which are surprisingly good, and "Dunkirk" falls into all those categories. It is, also, incidentally, educative, in that it deals with that part of World War II which has probably had least attention from film-makers, namely the early days leading up to the fall of France. What, precisely, was the British Expeditionary Force trying to do, and where did they get to before they were beaten back? You will get some idea of the answers to these questions from this film. You will, also, I think, get a pretty good idea of what it was like to be an infantryman at the time.

I must also mention the special effects. For a modern film they would be very good indeed, for a film made in the 1950s they are simply amazing - gunfire, bombs, explosions, ships sinking - all horribly realistic and terrifying. For anyone wondering whether or not to buy this film, hesitate no longer: it is simply one of the best war films ever made!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 30, 2014 9:32 AM BST

Back to Bataan (John Wayne) [DVD]
Back to Bataan (John Wayne) [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Wayne
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £3.45

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than expected, 30 Aug. 2006
I'd never heard of 'Back to Bataan' before, and only got it because it was in a 'special offer' double pack with 'Bataan'. I thought it would be a run-of-the-mill sort of war film. However, it is much better than that. It is a serious film, giving some idea of the suffering of the Philippine people during the second world war. There is plenty of violent action, as you would expect, but it is some of the 'in-between' scenes that are the best, as the script and the dialogue are unusually good. Everyone talks intelligently and interestingly (even the enemy), and this makes it realistic and believable. John Wayne is good, as the man given the unenviable task of trying to organize guerrilla resistance against the Japanese, and so is Anthony Quinn. I have never thought Quinn was much of an actor before, but this is definitely one of his best films. Also impressive is the actress who plays the elderly schoolmistress, who has seen her fellow teacher hanged in front of his pupils by the Japanese. There are two or three particularly powerful scenes, and, as the film is based on true events, you never quite know what is going to happen next, and who is going to survive.

This all-but-forgotten film is an example of the effort and care which was put into film-making in the past, where the characters were real, and you cared about them, unlike some of the stuff produced nowadays. To my surprise, I have to say that 'Back to Bataan' does not really suffer by comparison with that other great John Wayne war film, 'They Were Expendable'. It's certainly worth a few pounds of anybody's money.

Scaramouche [DVD] [1952] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Scaramouche [DVD] [1952] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £26.55

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a swashbuckler!, 1 Feb. 2005
This is one of the greatest action adventure films ever made. The swordfights are absolutely breathtaking (it has been said that this is the best ever fencing film) and the cast are all first rate. Something that struck me particularly now that I am older, and was watching the film for the first time in thirty or forty years, was how good Mel Ferrer was as the sadistic 'villain' (when you're younger, you tend to focus more on the hero and don't notice the other roles so much). If you have a taste for romance and adventure, and incredible, thrilling swordplay, buy this DVD. You won't regret it! The reproduction of the DVD is beautiful and clear, by the way, and the DVD also contains a very interesting interview with Mel Ferrer about the making of Scaramouche.

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