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Captain Cook (Leeward to the Sandwich Islands)

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The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer (Princeton Classic Editions)
The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer (Princeton Classic Editions)
by Erwin Panofsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: £36.85

17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unen-Durer-able, 9 July 2007
Erwin Panofsky was one of the founders of modern art criticism and a very learned man who wrote many books on such abtruse subjects as the difference between iconography and iconology with all the seriousness of a central European academic.

This lavishly illustrated work on the great German Renaissance painter and print-maker, Albrecht Durer (1471 - 1528), starts with a reasonably good introduction, mentioning the differing historical views on Durer, such as the belief common among 19th-century German Romanticists that he was a meek and pious soul wholly devoted to the interpretation of Christian subjects and contented with a quiet and dependent life.

This picture of a pedantic, conservative craftsman is countered by a suggestion that there might have been a Faustian element in Durer's nature, typified by a restless craving for a perfection never to be attained and an acute awareness of irresolvable artistic problems.

Unfortunately, this lively opening is not lived up to. Panofsky's treatment of the biographical details of Durer's life - including the revelationn that he was unhappily married - leads to a long, shapeless, rambling account, governed more by the intricate chronology of Durer's artistic production than any profound sense of the man himself.

There is no denying Panofsky's erudition. He definitely has all the colors on his mental palette. But like a bad painter he mixes all the hues together in a messy attempt to show off how vast and detailed his knowledge is. An intrinsically fascinating subject is thus rendered increasingly murky and morass-like by Panofsky's inability to make clear points or structure the rich detail of his knowledge. This work is the classic example of a book written by an academic with his nose too deeply buried in his subject. A strong editor would have been a godsend.

Titanic (2 Disc Special Edition) [1997] [DVD]
Titanic (2 Disc Special Edition) [1997] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Leonardo Dicaprio
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.59

5 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars That Sinking Feeling, 9 July 2007
When you raise the dead from the depths of the ocean, you should show some respect. This movie insults the past with its anachronistic characters, especially DiCaprio who spits and brats his way through the movie and falls in love with that pug muffin Kate Winslet. All around good actors are dying and we're supposed to care what happens to these two amateurs.

Since making this DiCaprio has matured into a better actor, but at the time he was just a surly, cocksure little tyke with a big head and the arrogance of youth.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2010 11:50 PM GMT

Katsura Funakoshi: Sculpture and Drawings
Katsura Funakoshi: Sculpture and Drawings
by Katsura Funakoshi
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars 'Wood' You Believe It?!, 9 July 2007
Contempoarary art is all about separating the wheat from the chaff. Much of the current art that is now lauded and lionized will simply fall to the bottom of the deep pool of oblivion in a few years time. For example, I can well see Damian Hirst's disgusting creations down at the bottom of the pool 10 years from now as they literally begin to disintegrate. Katsura Funakoshi, on the other hand, like the trees which provide his medium, is destined to grow in stature over the coming years.
Funakoshi makes life-sized figures (albeit missing their legs) with beautiful, blank, wistful expressions that appeal to us in a very human way. Like ancient totems, Byzantine icons, or primitive idols it is impossible not to anthropomorphize these figures made out of camphor wood and skillfully painted. The material used also gives them a warmth and an ability to age beautifully.

This book, which focuses on work exhibited in Europe in 1998, is already out of date, as Funakoshi's more recent work shows the results of his constant gradual improvement, in particular he is now producing sculptures that incorporate two figures. Furthermore, this book, with works selected and words written by German curators and art critics, reveals too much of that alienated unquestioning sense of wonder that sophisticated Europeans sometimes assume for things Japanese. What is needed is someone who takes a less mystifying stance.

In lieu of the fact that outside Japan few works exist on this great Japanese artist, this work firmly comes under the heading of "Dull but Worthy."

Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life
Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life
by Spencer Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cheesops Fable, 9 July 2007
As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, "The only constant is change." The worlds of business, politics, and culture continually bear out this unsettling truth. Unfortunately too many of us have become creatures of habit and refuse to go with the flow. Instead of benefiting from changing winds of fortune, we prefer to dig our heels in and let opportunities slip. These are the problems of attitude addressed in this easy-to-read book by Spencer Johnson, a medical doctor and the co-author of the best-selling business classic "The One Minute Manager."
Johnson specializes in helping people discover simple truths that can help them to enjoy more success with less stress. Among his many published works, he has also penned a number of popular children's books. This perhaps explains the simplicity of style in "Who Moved My Cheese," which is best described as a kind of parable that takes place in a maze and features four characters, two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two mouse-sized people, Hem and Haw.

The outlines of the story are reflected in the names of the characters: Sniff and Scurry suggest their uncomplicated, go-getting attitude to cheese, while Hem and Haw are synonyms of acting indecisively. Although some people may find this book patronizingly simple, the adventures of the mice and mini-humans in this Aesop-like fable carry a profound message. While cheese is equally important to all four, the two mice, by having less intellectual baggage, are more adept at adapting to the change represented by the moving of the cheese. Hem and Haw, by comparison, find change more difficult to manage, as it involves changing their self-image and belief systems. Many will see this as a subtle poke at CEOs and politicians who prefer to stick to old formulas instead of embracing the challenges of the future.

Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style (Oxford Paperbacks)
Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style (Oxford Paperbacks)
by Michael Baxandall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.67

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Splitting Attractive Hairs, 8 July 2007
This is the kind of book that History of Art departments throw at you early on in their courses to instil the right respect and awe for the whole academic ritual.

When I first saw this book at Birkbeck College (2003 History of Art MA) I was duly impressed and intimidated into thinking this was somehow a classic. In this work Baxandall is the exemplary academic, slowly building up a case from painstaking research and cleverly interpreted trivia.

This approach is fine and dandy until you reflect that at the end of it the conclusions Baxandall has laboured so hard to arrive at are perhaps a little banal -- i.e. Renaissance painting was influenced by such contemporary phenomenon as religious practices, dancing, and the ability to judge quantities by eye.

The only reason this book works as a book is that the Renaissance is such an attractive period that Baxandall's painstakingly dull technique receives a charming counterpoint in the endearing trivia of the period. Unfortunately this effect is not replicated in other works by Baxandall that I have looked at. To college students getting a dose of this, I would say, 'Enjoy the period, but think about how relevant this kind of hairsplitting really is.'

The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici
The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici
by Christopher Hibbert
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Polaroid View of History, 8 July 2007
This book focuses on a fascinating period, but the camera (i.e. Historian Christopher Hibbert) is a polaroid camera, so the image is not particularly sharp and enchanting.
As I read this book I realised that it could have been written by almost anyone in a university history department. It didn't have a disntinctive style or anything particular to say. It just ran through the gamut of the subject in an entirely predicatable way -- the rise of the city state, trade more important than before, new ways of thinking but respect for the ways of the Church, the rise of the 'new man' and the threat this posed to the putative democracy of the city state, the fate of the Medici tied to the varying abilities of different members, an interest in the arts, the gradual co-opting of the Medici to the old nobility, etc. etc.

The phrase 'scissors and paste attempt' kept running through my mind as I turned the pages, a thought further emphasised by the poor quality of the paper on which the book was printed and the cover, which soon curled up even though I had read it quickly and only once.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2010 8:26 PM GMT

The Young Ones: Series 1 [DVD] [1982]
The Young Ones: Series 1 [DVD] [1982]
Dvd ~ Rik Mayall
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.75

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Funny Side of the Thatcher Years, 8 July 2007
The Young Ones epitomised the confusion of the generation that came of age in the Thatcher Years. Caught between a right wing government, the residue of punk and left-wing ideas from the 60s and 70s, and the continued disolution of the class system, British youth went through an identity crisis, struggling to find a suitable sub-group to belong to, whether it be punk (Vyv), spiv (Mike), hippy (Neil), or 'right-on' left-wing radical (Rick). Throwing these 4 student-types together in an anarchic, surreal house-share was a stroke of genius.
The main focus is the explosive relationship of the pretentious Rick (Rik Mayall) and the brutally straightforward Vyvian (Adrian Edmonson). These 2 actors later reprised a stripped down version of this relationship in "Bottom". Neal the Hippie and Mike the Spiv provided useful ballast and a wider range of plot options preventing this central comedic relationship from imploding.

People who saw the Young Ones the first time round tend to remember it as much funnier than it really is. With repeated viewing the some of the weaknesses in the writing become apparent. Nevertheless there is also a lot of comedic genius and an anarchic spirit that remains eternally refreshing.

Black And White 050505
Black And White 050505
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple Minds Finally Overtake U2, 8 July 2007
This review is from: Black And White 050505 (Audio CD)
Forget about U2 (Bono seems more interested in being a Pope or politician these days). Their old Celtic Rock Compatriots from the 80s, SIMPLE MINDS have finally released a towering album of greatness, after years of rather disappointing releases.

This album is something that you can play non-stop for days (as I have been doing), something that works both as foreground and as background music at the same time, something you can immerse yourself in. It is very modern (in the good sense of that word)and urban (in the good sense of that word), but also deeply, spiritually Celtic.

When I listen to these tracks - especially "Underneath the Ice" - I can see the orange street lights of Glasgow shining through the twilight rain in the shadows of the tower blocks. If you love (or once loved Celtic Rock), I highly recommend this album.

The Green Mile [DVD] [1999]
The Green Mile [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Tom Hanks
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.99

0 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE SECRET of THE GREEN MILE, 8 July 2007
This review is from: The Green Mile [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
When I saw this film I LOVED IT.

Afterwards, discussing it with close family and friends, I couldn't decide exactly WHY I loved it. I mean the story isn't that great - in fact it's a bit unrealitic and just silly.

Also, none of the actors are heroes of mine - I'm more of a John Wayne-Arnold Schwarzenneggar-Steve Buscemi-sort-of-guy. I don't even like Tom Hanks and that old Black guy, or the big bald guy.

Anyway, this conundrum got me thinking, until FINALLY I realized THE SECRET of THE GREEN MILE! It's all done with horrorscopes!!! For example, Tom Hanks is a Cancerian. It is no secret that the Cancerian colors are silver - like prison bars - and GREEN, as in 'Green Mile'! Also the Cancerian keyword is `SECURITY' and Cancerians are known for being sensitive and motherly guys. Obviously, one of the best jobs for sensitive, motherly guys is prison warden, like the one portrayed by Hanks in the movie.

I haven't checked this theory out with other movies yet, but I'm sure this example proves pretty convincingly that Hollywood uses horrorscopes for casting.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2009 5:29 AM GMT

Back to Basics
Back to Basics
Price: £61.39

4 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Socialism Sells (Out), 8 July 2007
This review is from: Back to Basics (Audio CD)
What I like best about Billy Bragg is his wonderful, quirky sense of irony. While he croons on about his working class `identity,' social justice, and the wonders of multiculturalism, he is careful to live in a posh mansion in 100% rural White Dorset - as far as one can get socially and geographically from the multicultural chaos, confusion, and high crime of his native Barking.

Well done, Billy, keep selling 'Socialism' and 'Multiculturalism' to Guardian readers and keep living the good life in nice, White, safe, upper class Dorset. No doubt Gordon Brown will make you a Lord soon. Meanwhile all your fellow working class Whites who couldn't escape from the socialist multicultural chaos of Barking seem to have started voting for the 'far right' British Nationalist Party.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 13, 2013 12:16 PM BST

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