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R. S. Stanier "Robert Stanier" (London)

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River Of Dreams
River Of Dreams
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £4.24

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good collection of songs, Joel's last studio album, 18 May 2007
This review is from: River Of Dreams (Audio CD)
Contrary to another review, this is manifestly not Billy Joel's best CD yet. Far from it, and if you are looking to start in on the Billy Joel catalogue, go to The Stranger and An Innocent Man first.

That said, it's still got some excellent stuff on it.

The core of the album is the triptych of songs that kick off the second half: All About Soul, Goodnight My Angel and River of Dreams. This is rock but with the cares and perspectives of middle-age.

All About Soul is that rare thing, a love song not about falling in love but about marriage. It's lyrically moving, while musically it really rocks. The only tragedy for Joel is that Christie Brinkley was just about to dump him for a better looking model.

(But he didn't know that at the time.)

Then there's Goodnight My Angel, a quiet piano lullaby from a father's perspective about how to answer his young child when she asks about what happens when people seem to die. The next song, River of Dreams, completes his answer, with Gospel backing while the lyrics explore what it means to be sort of agnostically spiritual. How music helps you to live on.

Otherwise, nothing really stands out and the first half in particular lacks the melodies that cover so much else in his back catalogue. Still, it's never less than respectable and 2000 years is a good finisher, albeit lacks contemporary reference as it's dated itself to the Millenium.

For fans, there's definitely enough to enjoy. For fringers, go elsewhere first, or just download the core three songs from i-tunes.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 5, 2012 3:32 PM BST

The New France: A Complete Guide to Contemporary French Wine (Mitchell Beazley Wine Guides)
The New France: A Complete Guide to Contemporary French Wine (Mitchell Beazley Wine Guides)
by Andrew Jefford
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perceptive, enlightening, witty: wine with soul, 2 April 2007
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This book is brilliant on so many levels that it's hard to know where to start.

First up, it operates as a guide to French wine. It explains French wine law (why labels on wine tell you what they do), it gives you vintages assessments for every region in recent years, and it lists recommended producers from every region in France (and even which within their range are worth trying). The information here will bypass absolute beginners, but will still please a broad range of people, from those with just a drop of knowledge to geniune connoisseurs.

Second, it is a wonderful evocation of France. Time and again, descriptions of scenes and moments drip with atmosphere: Jefford's witty, eloquent prose is a pleasure to read. And he's strong on describing the current issues in the French wine industry.

Yet what's most significant is that Jefford is a man with a thesis whose implications are in their way both moral and spiritual. In the new France he envisages, wine should become more truly reflective of the terroir from which it grows. Far from lambasting the AOC system (tying labelling to terroir rather than grape-variety), he rejoices in it.

And this delight in the invidivuation of wines, to reflect every nuance in the land, leads him to lament two things: first, the increasing branding of wine, which inevitably seeks to iron out variation.

His vision is to get rid of the marketing departments: let the vignerons become both viticulteur and salesman. Let those who understand the land, and the wine from which it grows, be those who communicate it to the world. That way, truth lies.

His second lament is that of winemakers who do not acknowledge their land in which they work. He laments New World winemakers and British winewriters who seek only after 'fruit'. Fruitiness in wine is for him a temporary, superficial pleasure, because fruity wine can come from anywhere. Wine should emphasise its terroir, for only that piece of land can produce that bottle of wine. Choice of grapes should therefore not be decided on by what pleases the public, but by what best draws out and delineates the terroir from which it comes.

It is possibly an elitist argument, but in the five years since the first edition of this book was published, it has been substantiated rather than damaged. Chasing the consumers led to widespread planting of chardonnay in the last 90s, only for consumers to head away to sauvignon blanc and viognier. The Robert Parker inspired Merlot phenomenon led to hectare upon hectare of Merlot but "Sideways" led a counter rebellion against it.

For Jefford, yes, grow Merlot, but only where Merlot draws out the land. His heroes are those who insist on, Carignan, say, in Provence, because that's what works there. The vigneron should submit himself to the land, not try to make the land grow what is not 'true' to that land: that is too arrogant. Jefford's not uncritical of the AOC system - it's clumsy and slow to change in many places - but the fact that it that has preserved pinot noir in Burgundy, chenin blanc in the Loire, and syrah in the Rhone etc. is something for which he rejoices.

In exploring this thesis, the whole book is transported beyond a guide to French wine to something much deeper and more profound. I didn't agree with all of it, but in its quirky way it's made me think more than almost any other piece of non-fiction I've read in the last five years.

A brilliant book, then, full of pleasures and with much to ruminate on. One you will keep wanting to dip into.

Mission-Shaped Parish: Traditional Church in a Changing World
Mission-Shaped Parish: Traditional Church in a Changing World
by Paul Bayes
Edition: Paperback

58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Argues parishes are core to the "open dechurched", 22 Jan. 2007
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This is essentially a sympathetic and worthwhile restatement of the case "for" the parish system, that has been under attack ever since "Mission-shaped Church", Nick Spencer's "Parochial Vision" and the like. Undergirding it is an argument that in essence goes like this:

1. assume the nation is made up of 10% in church, 60% or so "unchurched" (i.e. never been) and 30% "dechurched" (i.e. have been before, just not at the moment).

2. the "unchurched" is the growth area, but parishes are unable to deal with this: this is where the "fresh expressions" must come in, to meet people at this juncture

3. the parish system should be better at calling back and reinvigorating the section of "dechurched" who are still open to the call.

As Tim Sledge puts it "In 1900, 609 out of 100 children were baptized in the Church of England. by 2000, that number was 211 out of every 1,000. That is 21% - nowhere near as many, but still not a bad pond to fish in!"

Core to this idea, Sledge suggests, are the occasional offices, and Chapter 6, "The chores of grace?" is a substantive contribution to this, filled with useful ideas and fleshing out the new orthodoxy that funerals, baptisms and weddings can be effective mission opportunities, so long as they are done with strong follow-up.

All this is fine (and certainly worth stating), but what worries me is that, as numbers of baptisms and weddings decline, it's rather pinning one's hopes on a sinking ship.

And are parishes really entitled ideologically just to abrogate responsibility for the "unchurched"? Bayes' preface, which is short and snappy, only implicitly argues this: but it must underpin what he quotes George Lings as saying: "I hanker after clarity in the wider Church about the different courses that can broadly be set, depending on where we need to travel to."

I would have welcomed an explicit statement of the case to match this, because even if the point is right, it needs to be debated: the traditional justification of the parochial system ("we are here for everyone") pretty much collapses if this is indeed the case.

Moreover, the give-away that this is from a catholic, rather than parish, perspective is the fact that there are also chapters on cathedrals and civic churches. Though different from parishes, guess which constituency they consider they appeal to the most? Yes, it's "the open dechurched". Mark Rylands is perceptive in warning against over-optimism based on the recent 20% increase in attendance in cathedrals: "There is a danger that some cathedrals may be focussing primarily on being centres of worship because it is the traditional worship that currently attacts regular Sunday worshippers. If, however, this growth is really transfer growth and not new disciples, then there will be problems in the long term." (And, after all, 30,000 worshippers a week in all the cathedrals in England put together is hardly going to revitalise the entire Church.) Here he cites initiatives like those of Robin Gamble at Manchester Cathedral as ways to cut past the fringe into the unchurched. This is good stuff, and supplies some of what was absent in John Holbrook's chapter on Civic churches. I got to the end of his chapter not quite sure what his point was, except that they needed more imagination.

But the great gap remains meeting the "unchurched": the cathedrals barely do it, civic churches don't do it, and parish churches don't do it. The only hope to meet the "unchurched" (and again this is never explicitly stated, but all the relevant examples fit this area) is when someone in the traditional instutitions is doing schools-work: if you meet an entire class, you meet everyone, be they on the fringe of church or not. Do parishes need to reaffirm their commitments here? Do training institutions need to acknowledge this more? There's a lot depending on it.

The thing I was looking for that barely featured at all was the eucharist, which is ironic given what I suspect are the sympathies of all involved. The only time it was mentioned in the "worship" section is to claim the practice advocated by Justin Martyr as mission-shaped for its time! And the only other point it came up in the rest of the whole book was tangentially, with regard to the eucharistic overtones of Martin Seeley's dinner parties inviting different stakeholders in his parish to consider the area's development.

Some thinking needs to be done here: how does the eucharist feature in the world of the mission-shaped church if it doesn't feature in the mission-shaped parish, which is doing the eucharist week by week, or day by day? If meeting people on the fringes must inevitably be non-eucharistic, how can these people come to find God in this sacrament, when they don't see it. Or if you think you can meet people on the fringes with the eucharist, let's hear some examples.

In conclusion, this is a friendly, accessible approach that rearticulates parish mission in the light of "mission-shaped church". All those who work hard in their parishes, lay or ordained, will find material to stimulate them here, both with regard to overall thinking and specific examples. It gives great hope for growth among the 30% of the population who are the "open dechurched" and if "mission shaped parish"'s recommendations were followed sensibly, the Church as a whole would undoubtedly grow, both in faith and in number.

But the authors here aren't claiming that parishes offer the whole answer: the 60% of unchurched are still out there, blissfully untouched by the centuries-old parish system. This is where the fresh expressions need to come in.

English Rugby's Six Of The Best - The 90s [DVD]
English Rugby's Six Of The Best - The 90s [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rob Andrew
Offered by sport_and_leisure_specialist
Price: £8.73

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good selection of 90s rugby, but not the best choices, 22 Jan. 2007
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It's the same format as other "Six of the Best" series: six England wins, introduced by a player of the period, in this case Rob Andrew, with about 12 minutes of highlights from each, and then one 'bonus' game.

The games are:

1991: England 21, France 19: the one where France score the miracle length of the pitch try started by Blanco from behind his try line, but England still win the Grand Slam thanks to their forwards.

1992: England 24, Wales 0: a dull game, but England win the Grand Slam

1994: South Africa 15, England 32: England pull off an unlikely and unique win in South Africa. The days when Ben Clarke and Tim Rodber made a lethal backrow and Rob Andrew played his socks off. Quiz trivia: name the England fullback (answer at foot of review)

1995 (the bonus game) England 24, Scotland 0. Yes, it's a Grandslam decider but eight Rob Andrew kicks does not a thrill a minute highlights package make

1995 England 25 - Australia 22. The World Cup quarterfinal with the Rob Andrew drop goal to win.

1997 England 26 - New Zealand 26. This is a classic. One of the best matches at Twickenham ever. The first time Clive Woodward showed what he might be able to achieve: new era with Dallaglio, Hill and Greenwood. The first time England really exploded from all corners of the pitch. Unbelievable try by David Rees, outfoxing Lomu. What happened to him? New Zealand come back, but England hang on for a draw.

1998 England 13 - South Africa 7. England win, but a dull match.

A real shame they miss out the 1990 season entirely: England lost at Murrayfield but the win in Paris was one of their best ever performances.

Even in these winning matches, too often you see the problems: England backs simply could not pass as well as any other international team (and still can't). Carling and Guscott and Underwood were all great runners, but none of them could pass properly. So you will be getting frustrated as well as inspired by memories of England wins. A classic example of that is the 1995 win against Scotland, ground out by a solid pack performance, but that's all.

Still, a good DVD to dig out if England should end up losing to Italy in this year's Six Nations.

PS Fullback in South Africa in 1994: Paul Hull

English Rugby's Six Of The Best - New Millennium [DVD]
English Rugby's Six Of The Best - New Millennium [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lawrence Dallaglio

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars England's Six of the Quite Good from 2000 to 2002, 16 Jan. 2007
The matches featured are:

England 45 - Ireland 11 (2002)a good home win

England 29- South Africa 9 (2001) when South Africa got dirty and lost

England 21 - Australia 15 (2001): eminently forgettable game. England didn't score a try, but ground out a win

England 48 - France 19 (2001). Now this is good. We destroy them in the 2nd half and they look miserable.

England 25 - South Africa 17 (2001). Solid display but not much for highlights

England 27 - South Africa 22 (2001). Yes, epic victory in the circumstances: away to South Africa, but 9 Jonny Wilkinson kicks does not make a thrilling highlights game

England 22 - Australia 19 (2000) The one where the video ref says that Dan Luger did touch down in the last minute from the chip ahead in the corner and Twickenham goes ballistic.

You get about 12 minutes from each game.

This DVD was put together very early on in "the new Millennium", and the Dallaglio commentary is all about: "we need to keep doing this in a World Cup".

So it's of interest as it's the time that England started to win on the World stage and began to assemble their World Cup side, but as a highlights package, there are a few problems.

Crucially, England don't score many tries in these games. And watching Wilkinson belt it over from all corners of the pitch is admirable but hardly thrilling when seen years later.

And there are games I thought might be there which aren't. e.g. England's sensational win in Ireland in 2003. Or any of the summer tour to Australia and New Zealand in 2003, when England were sensational, let alone any of the World Cup.

What's happening in these years is that England's second row and back row forwards were strangling opposition and putting forward a platform for Wilkinson to kick penalties or the occasional break from the backs. Yes, Robinson does glitter here, and Greenwood shows what a loss he has been: the only guy to glue England's back division together in the last five years.

So it's good to remember a time when we could genuinely beat all comers, but it's not thrilling as a highlights package.

Taking the Long View: Three and a Half Decades of General Synod (Time to Listen S.)
Taking the Long View: Three and a Half Decades of General Synod (Time to Listen S.)
by Colin Buchanan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating, entertaining, also frustrating, 30 Oct. 2006
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There is probably no one alive who has a better knowledge of what the General Synod has decided upon in the last 35 years (i.e. since its inception) than Colin Buchanan, former Bishop of Aston and of Woolwich and founder of Grove Booklets. This book is an attempt to transmit some of that knowledge to current and future C of E members so that we can make better-informed decisions in the future. All the major topics are covered: women priests, eucharistic prayers, baptism and confirmation, the Anglican communion, homosexuality etc.etc. Moreover, the issues are divided into short, focussed chapters, so on that level it's an easy read.

His account is gloriously biassed, but in an endearing way. While Buchanan is a solid evangelical, he is open about it and acknowledges strong arguments that run counter to his own thinking when he finds them. Where he (feels he) doesn't, he lets rip, as with, for example, the oil used in baptism being justified by the practice of ancient athletes oiling up for competition. You don't have to disdain the oil to be made to think about why on earth we do baptise with oil, and consider what a right justification is.

A word of warning: this is an insider's book and if such matters don't interest you (and for 99.9% of the population, why should they?), then stay away. As someone who has only recently been ordained, however, it's been a revelation on so many levels.
For example, he details how "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again" entered into the eucharistic liturgy, having been initially drafted as "Christ has died, Christ is risen, in Christ shall all be made alive." (p73) Buchanan's point is that the first version sounds so much better, it's worth the change. My point would be that I find the earlier version more theologically accurate. But what's also amazing is that a certain generation of Anglicans actually got to just decide the key wording of the heart of our liturgy like that. I had no idea.

Yet while there are consistent moments of illumination it is ultimately too much of an insider's book to be fully comprehensible to all but the most phenomenally well informed. For example, in the section on eucharistic prayer, on p70, how is one to know Arthur Couratin's half-concealed agenda? (well, it's detailed in a footnote higher up the page, that he wanted a return to a wording of Hippolytus of the 2nd century, but you have to struggle to find it), or (on p72) why is Ratliff's death significant? Indeed, who on earth is Ratliff? What did he stand for and why does he matter? Or again, "Memorial" seems to be something the Anglo Catholics wanted (p73), yet I would have thought "memorial" would be fine for evangelicals. What's going on?

Time and again, you come up against issues which would have been clear with 10% more background information or tighter editing. That's very frustrating.
I am sure HE knows what he means, but he hasn't managed to communicate it to any but the most informed reader. Okay, I haven't been ordained long and I am not particularly liturgy-literate but I would have thought I am exactly his target market. Someone eager to learn what went on. All too often, you just can't work out the drift of how debates went because he's skipped a crucial bit of information.

Against that, there are hundreds of fascinating points. Like the fact that Lambeth 1988 was such an organisational farce: the output from his bishops' group on worship was utterly dependent on the fact that he happened to have driven down with a word processor in the back of his car. Or that Josephine Butler only squeezed in to the Anglican group of worthies by a 22-21 vote among the bishops (against their own original advice) following a vote from an amendment by a certain Mrs Adcock in 1978.

These anecdotes and incidents collectively paint a fascinating picture of a somewhat chaotic place where the laity are always more evangelical than either the clergy or the bishops and where motions frequently reach 60% approval in all three houses but can never quite carry the two thirds majority required. It makes for phenomenally slow governance.

So, yes, Buchanan's done us a great service. He's enlivened a potentially deadly subject in an entertaining way, and brought home brilliantly the sincerity and yet the vagaries of how General Synod works. Yet with a sharper editing process, unfolding the unwritten assumptions, this could have been so much better.

Reformation : Europe's House Divided 1490-1700
Reformation : Europe's House Divided 1490-1700
by Diarmaid MacCulloch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.18

87 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly articulate, both historically and theologically, 2 Oct. 2006
Historians are always torn between writing chronologically or thematically. Here, MacCulloch offers his readers the chance to have their cake and eat it: first, a grand narrative of the Reformation through the 16th and 17th centuries; then, a thematic section treating subjects as varied as witchcraft, idolatry and homosexuality.

It both serves as an introduction to the Reformation, introducing and explaining the key figures and their roles (e.g. Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Borromeo and St Ignatius...), and as a critique on established ways of thinking.

For MacCulloch, it is the ideas behind the Reformation that are most significant and that must take priority over an interpretation of the Reformation that primarily views it as a contest for power e.g. between the Pope and nascent nation states or as a battle for Europe among key elite families.

Thus, he unashamedly has a chapter on St Augustine's theology since he views interpreting Augustine as so central to the issues. In this, overall, he is very convincing. More than that, he is brilliantly lucid. For example, his explanation of the distinction between Calvin's eucharistic theology as opposed to Luther's or Zwingli's (or the Pope's, of course)(p248ff) is both clear and also sympathetic. (Those five pages have allowed me to think through my own eucharistic theology more than any other article I have ever read, theological or historical.) That said, his intellectualism occasionally leads him to make some odd points: e.g. paraphrased from p83, "If there is one explanation of why the Latin west experienced as reformation and the east did not, it lies in listening to the New Testament in the new voice of Greek (not Latin)." Really? That sounds like the bias of an academic to me.

Furthermore, while this is definitely a balanced account, he nevertheless has his heroes. Reginald Pole, perhaps surprisingly, is one of them and it's a pleasure to have MacCulloch rehabilitate him from his reputation as a historical failure: generally, MacCulloch likes people who do their best to promote inclusivity in the Church, even if they failed to achieve their aims. Similarly, from the Protestant wing, he champions people like Philip of Hesse, sponsor of the Colloquy of Marburgh, who resisted a particular confessionalisation in his territories, but wanted a more open scene.

His other, related bias is to those who championed faith on the margins: such as Juan de Valdes, and the others in the Spirituali movement. Thus, MacCulloch may not have an established bias (as with Eamon Duffy and Catholicism) but that doesn't mean he lacks bias per se.

What he does have, however, is a great ability to empathise with religiosity from both sides of the spectrum. His chapter on "The Spirit of Protestantism?" (p528-33), seeing the potency of the locus on the spirit within the togetherness of the congregation, is a marvellous evocation of how a Reformed spirituality really does exist: it's not just a limping beast, as Duffy for example might imply. Yet he's also able, say, to empathise with the discipline and spirituality of the Jesuit movement (p219ff).

Moreover, he pointedly gives credit where it is due as well as highlighting times of shame: for example, he doesn't exonerate the Spanish Inquisition in any way, but he does credit the way it worked tirelessly to prevent burnings for witchcraft (that raged in northern Europe) because it was so sceptical about the phenomenon.

The chapter on sexuality is perhaps more idiosyncratic: do we really know enough to say that homosexuality "formed a common part of the family lifecycle" (p625) sating sexual needs between adolescence and marriage in one's mid-twenties?

But to pick up on and query such examples is really to pick up on how lively and full of vitality this book is. It fully justifies great praise.

It's very readable (though I found it a bit of a slog in the middle, as he explains the seemingly endless French wars of religion. But that's the nature of the subject, I guess) and full of choice anecdotes.

If you want a first introduction to the Reformation, you might be advised to go to Owen Chadwick's book, because that is half the length, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't miss out on MacCulloch.

"Reformation" is a magnificant work of history, but it's more than that. It's an exploration of human spirituality, of how that is shaped by theology, and then what the consequences are when theological convictions are given real political power and influence.

It's a classic.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 18, 2012 8:59 AM GMT

The Old Curiosity Shop (Radio Collection)
The Old Curiosity Shop (Radio Collection)
by Hablot Knight Browne
Edition: Audio Cassette

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous dramatisation of one of Dickens' less known works, 1 Aug. 2006
The book may be a bit of a mess, written on the cuff as Dickens tried to salvage a misguided attempt at a magazine, but it's richly full of his brilliance, and this dramatisation is sensationally good.

Some outstanding scenes linger long after one's first listen, such as when Little Nell's father grapples with his gambling addiction (and how depressingly relevant that is these days) and when Dick Swivveler's discusses with an inanimate Punch doll whether or not he should start acting responsibly.

I bought the book afterwards to read them in full, but I discovered they weren't actually in the book: they are just part of the adaptation, but an adaptation that captures Dickens so well it weaves the created scenes seamlessly in with the Dickens own narrative and often these scenes are highlights of their own.

It's far from a perfect novel. Quilp is devilishly evil but of limited motivation, the narrator's role is unclear, as is the age of Little Nell, and there are several ludicrously contrived plot devices. But then, Dickens was writing it on the hoof.

Apparently, the novel's of interest to scholars for Dickens' attitude to pop culture (Punch and Judy shows, mime shows etc.): for me, it was a wonderful way to pass some long car journeys. At times, it got me so wound up as I listened that I found myself literally pleading aloud with Nell's father not to gamble the money... But Dickens is so brilliant that he captivates you and this production, uniformly well acted, delivers all that brilliance.

Languedoc-Roussillon: The Wines and Winemakers
Languedoc-Roussillon: The Wines and Winemakers
by Paul Strang
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informed, fun, but hard to use, 9 Jan. 2006
My parents-in-law have bought a place near Beziers and I now visit the area about once a year, and buy wine at some point during the visit, so Strang's book is invaluable.
It is also addictive to read, and beautifully illustrated with photographs. He knows the area unbelievably well and his views are invariably based not just on tastings, but on visits and long discussions with the vignerons.
These lead to great vignettes: there's the Communist grower whose family has been insisting on organic techniques long before 'organic' entered the vocabulary, the glamorous middle-aged woman (with whom Strang falls slightly in love) who gave up her bigshot career in the city to follow the dream of growing wine on some family land...
Yet whilst Strang writes fluently and his taste buds are faultless, it's quite a hard book to use. Actually tracking down a vineyard he has recommended is far from intuitive and there's no index of vineyards either. This would come into its own for when you driving around the various country roads and pass a vineyard: then, you could see whether it's listed and, if so, how Strang rated it. As it is, you end up thumbing around trying to remember where you saw a vineyard listed.
Of course, it is still possible to find vineyards he has recommended, but it's not always easy, and there are, inevitably, quite a few great places that he doesn't list.
Still, great fun.

Don't Look Now [DVD] [1973]
Don't Look Now [DVD] [1973]
Dvd ~ Julie Christie
Offered by Revolution Media
Price: £5.84

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing portrayal of a husband and wife, 8 Dec. 2005
This review is from: Don't Look Now [DVD] [1973] (DVD)
This is an arty film that still tells a good story, albeit one that isn't a laugh. Don't watch it if you need to unwind: it makes you feel uneasy at the end.
The directing is rightly celebrated: every angle is interesting, lots of clever motifs, amazing atmosphere etc..
What I think are so fabulous, though, are the central performances by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie (who otherwise aren't actors I am particular fan of). I think they are the most believable couple I have ever seen on film: they are so natural around each other, and they manage to portray how they carry the shared sorrow of the death of the child with them.
Even the sex scene is utterly believable.
There's a good little documentary with the DVD in which Roeg makes the point that most sex scenes on film are seductions: it's the first time that the people are making love together. Here, you watch a couple who are familiar with each other, this is part of an ongoing sex life together, and it's brilliantly done.
I thought it was quite erotic, but my fiancee reckoned it was spoiled because it's intercut with Sutherland putting on a ridiculously Seventies suit and tie: Christie's clothes are still classic, she noted, but Sutherland's look ludicrous today.
That's as may be.
The whole thing is really, really good.
A minor criticism: the ending only partly makes sense of it. Maybe that doesn't matter.

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