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Alain English (London, England)

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Shakespeare in Court (Kindle Single)
Shakespeare in Court (Kindle Single)
Price: £1.74

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun!, 31 Dec. 2014
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Wonderful stuff - Alexander Waugh presents his case fluidly with his usual mix of erudition and good humour. The essay is informative and takes a look at a side of the authorship question not usually discussed and the trial section is witty, insightful and enormous fun to read.

At a reasonable length and a good price, this is a good introduction to the subject for newcomers as well as a funny refresher to more experienced hands.

Not Hamlet: Meditations on the Frail Position of Women in Drama (Oberon Masters)
Not Hamlet: Meditations on the Frail Position of Women in Drama (Oberon Masters)
by Janet Suzman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and Insightful, 16 Oct. 2014
Acclaimed actress Janet Suzman has written this short book about her thoughts on acting and Shakespeare. I really like most of it but I had a problem with the disdainful and belittling chapter on the Shakespeare Authorship Question (SAQ). Despite Suzman quoting a number of scholars, she has simply not done her homework here.

She misrepresents the SAQ as being the domain of 'snobs'. It isn't. No-one is saying that a man from humble origins could not have written these works - there is just a lack of solid unambiguous evidence (something that Suzman finds unremarkable) that he did.

Of course writers can create imaginary worlds but with Shakespeare it's in the telling little details incidental to character and plot (accurate details of Italian geography, metaphors created from past-times of the rich) that suggest a well-travelled aristocratic background. Whatever cuts or rewrites the plays are sure to have undergone in production, as Suzman argues, these details are still there. Evidence is at the root of the authorship debate, not snobbery.

One more thing. Imagination is a human quality but does not exist in a void. It needs knowledge and experience to flourish and grow. She rightly cites science-fiction writers as being imaginative - but Frank Herbert's 'Dune' (a colossal work of imagination) still needed six years of research and one and a half years of writing to come to fruition. Shakespeare's plays, everyone agrees, took a similar titanic effort to achieve - something that the Stratford man, from his personal paper trail, clearly did not have time for. Consult Diana Price or Richard Paul Roe's books for a more balanced account of this question.

It's a shame, really, as the rest of the book is packed with warmth and insight gained from a life in theatre including some logical and imaginative ideas on the development of Elizabethan boy actors and their relationship with the Bard's many female roles. There is an interesting look at 'Hedda Gabbler, one of most complex female roles in drama. Suzman visibly enjoys herself as she delves into the play and the character's mind. All of this is rounded off with a despairing, but still hopeful epilogue about the future of women in drama. It's a good book despite the first chapter - entertaining, provocative and insightful.

by Richard Tyrone Jones
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and original selection of prose and poetry, 10 July 2009
This review is from: Germline (Paperback)
Richard Tyrone Jones is a legend on the London spoken word scene. As performer, as well as host of "Utter!" events in and around London, he stands in a league of his own.

The poetry and prose in this collection reflects his spontaneous, absurd and hilarious stage persona. Richard lampoons and wryly pokes fun at the many trivial and banal aspects of modern life that affect us all, from shopping receipts and bizarre encounters with crazed old man, there is something in here for everyone.

Be warned, though. This is definitely not kid's poetry, and the level of filth and obscenity may offend the purists who like it clean. This ironically where Richard is at his best, with an excellent limerick about coprophiles and a horrendously funny dig at Richard Dawkins among his best poems.

I have no idea of the appeal this collection will have beyond the network of poetry writers and speakers in which he operates but is definitely recommended to a wider audience.

The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones Vol.3 (10-Disc-Set) [DVD]
The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones Vol.3 (10-Disc-Set) [DVD]
Dvd ~ George Hall
Price: £16.62

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable if shallow history series, 20 Mar. 2009
The concluding volume of the "Adventures of Young Indiana Jones" typifies much of what is very good about this series but also shows the kind of flaws that let it down at times. As ever, the documentaries that accompany the episodes (detailing further the events and historical figures Indiana Jones becomes involved with) are as engrossing as the episodes themselves.

This box-set sees Indy (again played by Sean Patrick Flannery) survive World War One, attempt a reconciliation with his father back home and become involved with gangsters, Broadway stage actors, and Hollywood film directors during his time at university.

The best episodes are "Masks of Evil", where Indy has a tragic love affair working in Istanbul and is then sent to Transylvania, in probably his first encounter with the supernatural, to tackle a crazed descendant of Vlad the Impaler who is raising an army of the dead. The first part is notable for it's complex realism, and the second part for it's hoary but still enjoyable Gothic horror imagery.

An intriguing episode is "Winds of Change" where Indy finds himself in France at the end of World War One, and faces the horrifying treatment of the Germans, who unfairly shoulder blame for the entire war as well as marginalised individuals like the Vietnamese whose fate is cruelly ignored in the process. This episode some good thoughts on the nature of war and evil, and an excellent recreation of the tortured President Woodrow Wilson by actor Josef Summer. Lloyd Owen also makes a welcome return as Indy's distant father.

"Mystery of the Blues" is bookended by 1950 segment with Harrison Ford playing an older Indy recounting his days at college playing the blues. It is terrific to see Ford playing Indy again, and it also features great performances from Jeffrey Wright as jazz musician Sidney Bichet and Nicholas Turturro in a chilling depiction of a young Al Capone.

The series suffers significantly in translation to these DVD editions, and many of it's flaws are exposed. The DVD documentaries, in exploring the people Indy meets in more depth, expose at times their comparatively shallow portrayal in the series. As the series was originally shot out of chronological sequence (with George Hall playing an elderly Indy randomly recalling events from his youth), the episodes don't always follow on coherently from each other in the DVD format. Crucial to this is the depiction of Indiana Jones himself. In spite of all he goes through (war, intrigue, countless love affairs and near-death experiences), he never seems really affected or changed by what happens to him. It's not really Sean Patrick Flannery's fault, as the original format of the show would have hindered his developing a proper through-line for his character, but throughout the show Indy is played in pretty much the same way. This reduces the audiences ability to properly relate to him and damages his believability as a character.

These are tiny nit-picks, though, and it shouldn't put anyone off buying this boxset, as it continues the high performance and production standards of the first two. Recommended for history buffs and hardcore Indiana Jones fans.

The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones Vol.2 (9 Disc Box Set) [1992] [DVD]
The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones Vol.2 (9 Disc Box Set) [1992] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Corey Carrier
Price: £16.00

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent continuation of the series, 11 Mar. 2009
The second volume in the adventures of "Young Indiana Jones" and it follows Indy (Sean Patrick Flannery) through World War One, surviving the trenches in France and becoming a spy, going on missions to Africa, Barcelona and Russia.

With the flux of documentaries that accompany each episode, the DVD collection is almost like a mini-historical library with breakdowns of the significant events and people Indy meets in his travels.

I think Lucasfilm must have plundered Spotlight or the British casting agencies as a number of popular British actors (James Nesbitt, Colin Baker, John McInnery) pop up throughout all the shows.

The depiction of warfare is realistic but not nearly as grim as Spielberg, Lucas oft-time collaborator, showed in "Saving Private Ryan" and Indy (who can survive anything and is, thanks to his education, something of a genius) is not seriously affected by what is going on around him. This hinders the drama a little bit.

Nevertheless this is recommended to Indiana Jones fans.

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Volume 1 [DVD](1992)
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Volume 1 [DVD](1992)
Dvd ~ Vanessa Redgrave
Price: £16.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating series of adventures, 11 Mar. 2009
I was not much of a fan of the "Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" as a child but the release of the fourth movie last year reignited my interest in the series so I rented out these DVDs from my local blockbuster.

I have to say I really enjoyed these stories. Although at times they substitute talkiness for adventure, young Indy's encounters with famous historical figures are laced with enough intrigue and action to hook both kids and adults. He encounters all kinds of figures in the fields of the arts, sciences and politics so really there is something in here for everyone.

I really liked his sojourns in Vienna, where he sneaks into a castle after taking advice on love from Freud. Even better are his adult adventures first in Mexico, then in Ireland and England. The sense of time and place is captured very well and each of the famous people Indy meets are incorporated plausibly into his story.

The documentaries that accompany each adventure are also worth looking at, adding greater depth to the action in the series.

Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
by Matthew Stover
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific work, 27 July 2007
As good a book as could be expected, Stover's novelization of the last "Star Wars" film develops the script and better realizes the characters and the story.

He splits the tale into sections that philosophize (appropriately) about matters of light and dark. Anakin Skywalker's tragic journey is placed in a much more epic perspective, as is that of other characters including Bail Antilles, Padme and most notably Count Dooku.

For a four-hundred plus page length it's an astonishingly quick and addictive read (I got through it in one night) and Stover chronicles the movie's big events well, notably Mace Windu's betrayal and death, Palpatine declaring himself Emperor and the Sidious/Yoda battle in the Senate.

Fantastic stuff and (as with the best "Star Wars") left me wanting more. Recommended.

Star Wars Labyrinth of Evil (Star Wars (Del Rey))
Star Wars Labyrinth of Evil (Star Wars (Del Rey))
by James Luceno
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good buildup to the movie, 27 July 2007
James Luceno is one of the better "Star Wars" authors, having penned the excellent "Cloak of Deception" about the downfall of Chancellor Valorum, and the very start of Palpatine's rise to power. In this excellent prequel to "Revenge of the Sith", he gets the balance right between politics, characterisation and space battles and it is a highly thrilling read.

As the Clone Wars come to a close, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi continue to pursue the Separatist leaders Count Dooku and the cyborg General Grievous, while Jedi Master Mace Windu on the capital Coruscant leads the hunt for Darth Sidious, the treacherous Sith Lord behind the war...

The space battles in the book will have the hardcore fans excited, as well as the details of Windu's search and, in a splendid sequence, Palpatine's "capture" at the hands of General Grievous.

Seen as the beginning of a trilogy of books (that continues with Matthew Stover's novelization of "Revenge of the Sith" and Luceno's follow-up "Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader"), "Labyrinth of Evil" is highly recommended.

Alan Rickman: The Unauthorised Biography
Alan Rickman: The Unauthorised Biography
by Maureen Paton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enthusiastic if repetitive, 15 April 2005
The only biography available on this interesting British actor, Maureen Paton's work is an enthusiastic but occasionally repetitive work that could have benefited significantly from a better editor.
For the most part the text flows well, and I thought the author got a feel for the man's personality as an actor: the combination of intellectualism with an understated sexual allure.
However, as an individual her portrait is confused. She douses her work with far too many praising quotes, the end result feels more of a hagiography than a biography at times.
There is cutting criticism and analysis of some of Rickman's work on film, but there is too much repetition and a chapter about his bid to take over a theatre is just plain dull.
I don't think it's as bad as some folk are making out, but an autobiography from the man himself would be arguably more definitive than this.

American Dream, Global Nightmare
American Dream, Global Nightmare
by Ziauddin Sardar
Edition: Perfect Paperback
Price: £7.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accessible work about the nature of American power, 3 April 2005
Another well-written tome from Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wynn Davies (effectively a sequel to "Why Do People Hate America?"), this book takes an intricate look at the myths and realities of the American Way.
To summarize the argument, the authors use Hollywood movies ("The Player", "Groundhog Day", "Universal Soldier") as a template for examining the fear-driven myths that motivate American actions at home and abroad and hinder self-reflection and examination of those actions. They contrast the myth of American democracy with the historical realities of the country's technically flawed Constitution whose design and application permit privileged minority rule over the masses.
In choosing to use films as the basis for nearly all the books discussions, the author's best critique is that of Hollywood, effectively the creator and exporter of American myth and the country's vision of itself as a global, rather than merely a provincial narrative. With the flurry of American films in our multiplexes, and the country's recent Iraq invasion, this rings very true.
The book's sarcastic tone occasionally hampers things, and there is too little mention of it's principal ally, Britain, but otherwise the book is an articulate and thought-provoking read.

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