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Richard White "withnail101" (London)
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Detectorists [DVD]
Detectorists [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mackenzie Crook
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Striking Gold, 10 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Detectorists [DVD] (DVD)
Once in a long while a programme comes along that appears to have been sprinkled with a liberal helping of magic dust and Detectorists is such a show. Typically, I missed it first time around and stumbled upon it completely by accident, whilst channel hopping.

To draw an unsubtle comparison between viewer and show, I’ve felt for many years like the eponymous Detectorist, pacing through the endless fields of televisual mud looking for the occasional glimmer of treasure and at last, after a seemingly endless search, payday arrived!

A comedy about a small group of disparate metal ‘detectorists’ (the correct technical term, it would seem) does not immediately spring to mind as something likely to be imbued with greatness, but great it is. The writing is superb, the direction is brilliant and the acting is faultless. The chemistry between on-screen best friends, Andy (Mackenzie Crook) and Lance (Toby Jones) gives the show a rare authenticity and I found myself rooting for these unlikely heroes as they battle through their daily trial and tribulations.

It’s written and directed by Mackenzie Crook with a very deft touch and the show richly deserved its BAFTA.

It’s funny and touching and has a very human quality, perhaps also a very British quality that drills deep into our National love of odd hobbies and pursuits and making the best of an average situation.

The world really is a slightly better place because of the detectorists, real and fictitious, and long may they continue to roam.

Roll on series two. I can’t wait.


Tracker
Tracker
Offered by Tom-Media LTD
Price: £11.99

98 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Magic, 17 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Tracker (Audio CD)
I haven't written a review of anything for years and only one person was ever going to inspire me to foist my opinions on the unsuspecting public again and it was always going to be the great Mark Knopfler. He remains the only artist whose output I simply cannot wait to hear. There's the slightest hint of anxiety occasionally that after so many years of outstanding output, one album might come along that's below par but I should know by now that he just doesn't do sub-standard.

If you're looking for Dire Straits 'light' this is not for you, but if you're looking for beautifully crafted, immaculately performed, lyrically stunning gems then you will be completely satisfied.

I've noticed a few commentators saying that MK probably won't appeal to a wider audience with the music he makes now, but that's just the point; he has no interest in this. He's moved on and makes no apology for it. If he wanted attention, he'd presumably re-form Dire Straits.

He's always had a remarkable gift for lyric writing and nothings changed. He can just slip a little phrase into a song that imbues it with an incredible poignancy and then follow it up with the melodious guitar that just takes it to another level.

As with all his other albums, I'll listen to this endlessly and my favourite tracks will change and evolve over time but for now, Basil, Beryl, Lights of Taormina and Silver Eagle are the leaders of the pack.

Just a quick mention on two of those. Basil, particularly, has a deep sadness and beauty and tells the story of unfulfilled Poet Basil Bunting, stuck in his dead-end job as a sub-editor for a newspaper. What makes it all the more fascinating is that it's sung from the perspective of a young man, watching the unhappy older man and that young man really was MK in his early days as a copy boy for that very newspaper. "Bury all joy. Put the Poems in sacks. And bury me here with the Hacks...."

Silver Eagle apparently refers to Bob Dylan's tour bus and has at its heart an adoring Lady fast asleep in the small hours, whilst the Silver Eagle containing her hero silently wafts past her little town. And she'll never know. Haunting stuff.

As with previous albums, this will be released without much fanfare but the songs will start to take on a life of their own as they melt into people's consciousness.

An extra mention to Ruth Moody whose lovely vocals appears again, as with the previous album and naturally the whole band are impeccable.

I hope you enjoy the magic as much as I have.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2015 9:07 PM BST


Shoreditch (DVD) Joely Richardson Shane Richie (Region 2)
Shoreditch (DVD) Joely Richardson Shane Richie (Region 2)
Dvd ~ Shane Richie Joely Richardson
Offered by AVALON
Price: £18.69

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How bad is bad? This bad., 7 July 2012
A vanity project part-funded and produced by one dimensional Red Coat, Shane Richie, this film really has nothing for everyone. The story is so poor you'd think it has been conceived by a four year old and acting so wooden you really need to think of the cast less as people and more as furniture. But that's enough about the film's best attributes........ If you fancy a couple hours of misery watching Shane Richie attempt to act himself out of a paper bag, this old tosh is for you.


Birdsong
Birdsong
by Sebastian Faulks
Edition: Paperback

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best novel I have ever read, 4 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Birdsong (Paperback)
I started reading Birdsong with some trepidation because amongst the many glowing reviews there seemed to be some that pointed out serious flaws in the structure and content of the book.

I finished it last night and having had a day to reflect feel it is probably the finest book I have read.

To review this epic story of sacrifice, pain and human nature properly would take pages, so I will try and point only to the main elements.

The main body of the story is set shortly before and then during World War 1 and the central character is Stephen Wraysford, a lonely and somewhat cold young man who initially goes to France on work related business. Whilst there, Stephen engages in a passionate affair with the wife of his French host that results in, unbeknown to Stephen, the birth of a child. Their relationship falters and before Stephen is aware that his partner is pregnant, she terminates their affair and returns to her husband.

The story then moves forward to 1916 and the hell of trench life on the battlefields of France. Stephen is now a Captain in the British Army and a man questioning his very existence in the mud and death of the French countryside. He is single and unlike many of his fellow soldiers does not have the sustaining thoughts and memories of a wife and children waiting at home for him. He lives, as all the men do, with the terror that every minute that passes could be their last, as the German snipers do their worst and they are bombarded with shell fire day and night. Every day, men he knows and cares for are literally blown to pieces in front of him and he has to contend with the finality and pointlessness of their deaths.

As the story of Stephens war unfolds, we are transported to late 1970's London and a late thirtysomething woman named Elizabeth whose biological clock is ticking loudly. Elizabeth has been yearning to discover some of her family history for some time and although she cannot explain to herself why, she feels it strongly enough to research her past. She begins to do this and is drawn to her grandfather, of whom she knows practically nothing.........

I won't spoil the intricacies of how the two plot lines connect but suffice to say that I was deeply moved by the potency of the story.

The real tragedy for me is that so few of us know anything about what all those men went through, just a few short decades ago. We don't know the hardships they endured, the horrors they saw and how it affected their lives until the day they died. None of us will know what it is like to have to remove body parts of obliterated friends from rancid fields, to starve and to suffer in agony and be crawling with lice. I felt that Sebastian Faulkes was trying to get this point across within his beautifully written prose. He seemed to be saying `you are gone, but not forgotten.'

Birdsong is a fantastic book and I urge you not to listen to the fools that seem to have been expecting some sort of Ramboesque tall story and were bored by what they read.

Stephen Wraysford is of course fictitious, but he represents every one of those millions of men that fought in that terrible conflict, many of whom never came home. He was in many ways a typical man, with his own life and story to tell, his own hopes and his own fears, which makes this a real story, a powerful and beautifully written story about the folly of mankind and the chance for redemption that is sometimes almost too panful and moving to read.


World of Warcraft (Mac/PC)
World of Warcraft (Mac/PC)

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dawn of a new age in gaming, 13 Mar. 2006
It's impossible to know where to start with World of Warcraft. It is simply the most detailed, imaginitive, compulsive and addictive game ever created. An online only game, you must subscribe and pay a modest monthy fee to the manufacturer but this is indeed a small price when you consider what you get for your money.
An entire online World is waiting full of Humans, Dwarves, Gnomes and Orc's and they inhabit breathtakingly beautiful Kingdoms ranging from Snow and Ice through to partched desert. As the game is online only, you will meet and work with countless other players and forge friendships and grudges.
As far as the programming and constructing of the game is concerned, the feat displayed here is simply mind boggling and the level of detail is way beyond anything I have ever seen before. The game play is also extremely sophisticated and as you work up through the levels you can earn money, trade, learn professions and all manner of other ingenious things. This is the first time I have ever been aware that the latest generation of online games are genuinely producing a sort of alternative reality - locations full of hills and valleys, buildings, trees, lakes and rivers that become so familiar that they seem real.
On a cautionary note, I have recently read stories of players becoming dangerously addicted to this game and it's easy to see why. Within the game, a player can attain status and wealth - something they may not have in the real world. When you consider that in 20 short years we have gone from playing Pacman to games so sophisticated that an alternative reality is beginning to emerge is hard not to feel slightly apprehensive about the next 20 years. This aside, World of Warcraft is spectacularly good and is by some way the best game I have ever played.


Scooby-Doo 2 - Monsters Unleashed [DVD] [2004]
Scooby-Doo 2 - Monsters Unleashed [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Freddie Prinze Jr.
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.49

4 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful, 18 Jan. 2005
I wouldn't have wasted my time writing a review of this film had I not realised that somebody may purchase this film based on the positive reviews listed on this site. This is not to say that my opinion is correct, but it certainly is different.
I thought the film was dreadful. I wasn't expecting much and despite me low expectations was let down badly.
The script is hopeless, the humour is feeble and the special effects are awful. Scooby himself is one of the least convincing CGI creations in its history and utterly unconvincing. At no stage during the arduos experience did I think that Scooby was either a cartoon or a real dog (Im not sure which hes meant to be)- only an irritating computer effect. The makers idea of humour is either belching or farting or sometimes falling over in a theatrical, over the top fashion. None of it is funny.
Plus points? Its hard to find any really - at a push, I suppose the four main human characters are passable and its loud enough and colourful enough to keep kids entertained(ish).
What worries me is that for a piece of entertainment that is aimed primarily at Children it is so utterly brainless and crass. The thought of a generation of Children sitting through such rubbish over and over fills me with a sense of dread. Long term exposure to films of this type (and they are the majority now) will have no positive effect on the thoughts and minds of tomorrows adults.


Bedshaped
Bedshaped
Offered by jack_bauer_twentyfour
Price: £8.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 19 Sept. 2004
This review is from: Bedshaped (Audio CD)
Its a hard task to follow 2 instant classic singles - 'Somewhere only we know' and 'Everybodys changing' but Keane have outdone themselves with Bedshaped. My personal favorite of the 3 it has beautiful soaring lyrics and knee weakening piano chords. It is a song about pain and alienation but is none the worse for that. Try and check out the video which is absolutely mind blowingly good - extremely powerful and moving.
I was initially suspicious of Keane as they have no guitarist - not the recipe for a great rock band, I thought. How wrong can you be? Genuine talent and superb music.


About Schmidt [DVD] [2003]
About Schmidt [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Jack Nicholson|Hope Davis
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.39

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Gem, 18 Aug. 2004
This review is from: About Schmidt [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
I was not expecting too much from this film but was over come by its subtlety, intelligence, humour and honesty. How many other Hollywood films would you associate those four words with?
Jack Nicholson is the eponymous Warren Schmidt, a newly retired, newly widowed man who, with suddenly much time on his hands begins to assess and reflect on his life and its impact on others around him. He doesnt like what he sees and sets about making amends, and so begins a road trip that takes him from his home in Nebraska to his daughters wedding in Denver. Before he goes, he sponsors a child after having a pang of concscience whilst watching a television advert and it is via his letters to this little boy, Ndugu, that we have Scmidts narration to the story.
Along the way Schmidt makes stops at places from his childhood and we get more of an insight into a man who has let life pass him by while he was number crunching at an insurance company.
The film is packed with clever observations and desperately poignant moments as well as several side splittingly funny scenes although the overall tone is dark. The scenery and photgraphy is bleak (but beautifully shot)and deliberately so.
I have read several reviews of this movie and many reviewers (professional and amateur alike) have suggested that 'we all know a Warren Schmidt'. I would go further than that and say we can all see Warren Schmidt in ourselves - to a greater or lesser extent - and thats exactly what makes the film so powerful.
I would suggest that persons with a sensitive persuasion and an eye for subtlety would find this film hugely rewarding - I have heard the film described as boring but can honestly say it is the most thought provoking film I have seen in years. If you want explosions and ridiculous CGI effects this is not the film for you. If however you want to be made to think, even about uncomfortable questions, made to laugh loud and made to cry this is an absolute must.


Blackadder's Christmas Carol [1988] [DVD]
Blackadder's Christmas Carol [1988] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rowan Atkinson
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.81

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Special Edition, 22 Dec. 2003
Quite often the Christmas 'specials' of the most popular tv comedies turn out to to be anything but special.
This one, however is top quality.
Its a take on 'A Christmas Carol' - with Rowan Atkinson in great form as Ebeneezer Blackadder the "kindest and loveliest man in all of England".
His kindly nature is demonstrated at the start of the episode as, on Christmas Eve the townsfolk gradually take advantage of his amiability and fleece him of his Christmas gifts and money, leaving him and his sidekick Baldrick with nothing.
He is visited on Christmas eve by an apparition - a hilarious turn by Robbie Coltrane who, under duress shows Blackadder how well his ancestors had done by being anything but nice.
This of course turns Blackadder from the nice chap at the start to the hard-bitten cynic we all know and love.
The jokes are mostly excellent, as are the supporting cast with Tony Robinson always good as Baldrick and Miriam Margolyes putting in a hilariously camp performance as Queen Victoria.
The show also has a real seasonal feel to it with the snow falling in Victorian London.
If you want some Christmas cynicism and plenty of laughs, this is for you.


Raymond Briggs' The Snowman (Special Edition) [DVD]
Raymond Briggs' The Snowman (Special Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dianne Jackson
Offered by Fulfillment Next Day
Price: £29.95

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Magic, 18 Dec. 2003
Every so often a film or programme comes along that immediatley becomes synonamous with a time of year or event. Such a film is The Snowman.
I remember watching it as a child on its release all those years ago (21 years to be precise) and being instantly captivated by it from start to finish.
If you dont know (and I cant believe that you dont), its an animated film adapted by the Raymond Briggs story following the exploits of a little boy who builds a Snowman in his garden.
At night the Snowman comes magically to life and takes the little boy on a trip to see Father Christmas. Its impossible to say how spectacular and atmospheric the flying scenes are.
The animation is hand drawn and absolutely beautiful and there is no dialogue, just a perfect musical score giving the viewer all the feedback he or she needs.
Now its my own childrens turn to be captivated by this movie and we watch it over and over at Christmas time and never tire of it.
Do yourself a favour and curl up in the warm at Christmas with someone you love, put on The Snowman and witness some real magic.


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