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Cider with Rosie (1971) - BBC [DVD]
Cider with Rosie (1971) - BBC [DVD]
Dvd ~ Philip Hawkes
Price: £5.95

0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good enough to convince me not to read the book, 12 April 2015
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I have always loved the title of this book and have often thought of reading it. The reviews of the dvd were positive and it seemed an easy way to get a sense of the book before trying it. The production offers a bucolic vision of childhood in an England long gone. I guess the book is full of poetic impressions and the serial tried to convey the same impressionistic poetry. Everyone seemed very good but to be honest, nothing about the production piqued my interest or imagination. I kept watching hoping things would pick up but it was all very low key right to the end - a child's eye view of growing. Neither my intellect or my emotions were enaged and nobody was presented with sufficient depth to make an impression on me. The production was good enough to convince me I won't try the book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 1, 2015 6:28 PM BST


Girl, Interrupted [DVD]
Girl, Interrupted [DVD]
Dvd ~ Winona Ryder
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.91

3.0 out of 5 stars mad but too scatty, 16 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Girl, Interrupted [DVD] (DVD)
Dithered between two and three stars for this one. Opted for three because I was largely 'entertained' and felt Ryder in particular put in a good performance as someone who was rather frail, and a bit lost.

The Ryder character is unwilling /unable to engage with her life and the changes involved in finishing college and embracing imminent adulthood. Rather than confronting her fears and immediate dilemmas of deciding who she is and what she wants, she chooses to opt out and attempts suicide. Psychiatric assessment concludes that she has a borderline personality disorder and rather than offer her help to confront her fears she is offered a second opt out life clause of being commited to an upmarket mental health institute. This she passively accepts. Initially, she like the other inmates becomes an unquestionning, uncritical follower of Lisa (Jolie) a monumental if supposedly charismatc bully. She becgins to take her first steps towards living again after she passively watches Lisa goad another ex-inmate to commit suicide.

The story was reminiscent of 'one flew over the cuckoo's nest' without any of its power or credibility. I found it hard to believe that people in a mental institute could access a key and basically run riot on a regular basis, through the institute and on the outside. Lisa (the bully / sociopath) repeatedly escaped but kept being brought back and seemed able to retain her key for getting in and out without anyone wanting to remove it. There were many other things that just seemed to happen with little explanation and after a while I found it irritating. Lisa (the Jolie character) was thorougly unpleasant and I found it hard to believe anyone would want to follow her. She did offer flashes of charisma but not enough to nmake her believable.

By the end of the movie, I was happy enough to have seen it, but concluded I would be unlikely to look at it again. I might try the book. It is supposed to be excellent.


Spoils of War [1980] [DVD]
Spoils of War [1980] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alan Hunter
Offered by FREETIME
Price: £19.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay of its kind, 2 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Spoils of War [1980] [DVD] (DVD)
I did not see this when it was first released but it sounded quite interesting. My grandmother was young in this era when classes mixed and the old order changed with the end of the war. I was interested to learn a little about what life would have been like for her in post-war England.
I quite enjoyed what I saw and learned a little bit but not enough to justify the time spent sitting there. It was very much in the soap mould with lots of different stories threading in among each other. The acting was only so-so and the script was not a lot better, none of the characters particularly caught my imagination and all in all I was quite glad to get to the end. I sent the dvd set straight to the charity shop. No repeat viewings for me and no particular desire to further serials. I guess ok for those that like soaps.


J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys [DVD]
J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ian Holm
Price: £12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story of a complex human that leaves the viewer with much to ponder, 9 Feb. 2015
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oh boy this is wonderful. I first came across this story in 'finding neverland' which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was thinking of buying it to go back down memory lane then found this production. The two are chalk and cheese. This is a staggering production. Ian Holm captures everthing about a complex man who is talented, lovable, odious, lost, difficult to decipher, kind, cruel. You the viewer see a human in action and I found it difficult to say what I thought of him and his relationship with the boys. I will never watch 'finding neverland' again. Johnny Depp simply could not capture this fascinatingly complex human at all. One production is mild and somewhat vapid entertainment while the other leaves you with food for thought. The interview at the end with Andrew Firkin is also very interesting for explaining how much research went into the production.


A Moment of War (The Autobiographical Trilogy Book 3)
A Moment of War (The Autobiographical Trilogy Book 3)
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful bauble of faction, 9 Feb. 2015
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This is a beautiful exercise in lyricism. It is hard to piece together a coherent story from what is written and most of it seems to be about a man's interface with random situations in a war, with bitter cold as much as anything being the enemy. I was glad not to be there.

The book is short and beautifully written, but I found it hard to believe it was based on much fact, especially as it was written about 50 years after the events described in it. By the end, I was left quite cold by the book. I felt style won out over substance. I questioned how much was fact, and how much fiction. More the latter than the former was my conclusion. If looking for a non-fiction account of the Spanish civil war, I would by-pass this in favor of homage to Catalonia. It is vastly superior. Quality writing and the raw edge of the lived experience. However if beautiful words are your thing, then this is a very good read.


Homage to Catalonia (Penguin Modern Classics)
Homage to Catalonia (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A personal and honest record of living and fighting in a war, 17 Jan. 2015
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I read this as a kindle version, my first experience of reading with such a device, and I have to say I did not like it and this might have coloured my feelings towards the book.

The book is short with two chapters from the original being converted into appendices. It is beautifully written and was written very soon after Orwell left Spain. As a consequence, there is a real sense of immediacy in Orwell's reactions to his experiences. However having been written so soon after he left, it has all the rawness of someone who has not fully processed everything. Orwell is clearly very close to the people and the places and at times details predominate sometimes at the expense of the needs of the reader for a broader perspective. This was clearest to me in his descriptions of the fighting in Barcelona. I found this section a bit tedious and hard to follow. By contrast, Orwell's responses to the Spaniards and to trench life were beautiful and warming. It is not a book I would want to read again but I recommend as personal insight into being part of a war and also being part of a life going on around the war. the difference was quite surreal at times!


Northanger Abbey (Repackaged) [DVD] [1987]
Northanger Abbey (Repackaged) [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ Peter Firth
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £4.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars quirky but lacking in charm, 17 Jan. 2015
Not one of the best productions. It takes a slightly quirky approach to Jane Austen's more quirky story .... but does not pull it off to my mind. The music is modern and there is a tongue in cheek approach to illustrating how a young girl's imagination can run away with her. The trouble for me was that I could respect the attempt to capture the spirit of the book but there was no on-screen chemistry between the lead actors and the support actors were on the whole totally horrible - fully of folly but not funny with it. I really did not care whether I saw it or not and only watched it to the end because it was short and then it was straight to the charity shop with it!


Boys from the Blackstuff [DVD]
Boys from the Blackstuff [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Angelis
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Blackstuff indeed!, 11 Jan. 2015
Brilliant and hard hitting. I was in tears at the end of two episodes (Chrissie's and Yosser's stories).

I gather the serial developed out of a 'play for today' which resulted in five plays focusing on individual characters who were introduced in the first play. The first play is about a job laying tarmac away from home. The boys get up to no good and the job goes badly pear-shaped just as the boss arrives. It ends with the whole gang losing their jobs. The behaviours of the boys on the job were shocking. They showed a serious lack of intelligence and a slightly criminal turn of mind. As Chrissie acknowledges, with the exception of the foreman, they got what they deserved.

The shorter plays take up the story 18 months or so later. They focus on impact of those 18 months on the dole on the "boys'" lives. Harrowing is to put it mildly. It was supposed to be anti the Thatcher era, and I was expecting lots of political discussion, but there isn't. It really does focus on the lives of the men and how they self-destruct as unemployment and poverty take their toll. All plays are interesting for different reasons, though I admit the serial goes out on a whimper with the last play. It is a bit surreal in mood and George, the topic of this final play, had a personality makeover. He morphed from the sweet old guy in the earlier play-for-today, into a man with a heroic past as ex-shipyard union leader. Very hard to marry the two characters (hence four stars), but that aside, if you like gritty 'entertainment', this is definitely worth looking at.


Lillie - The Complete Series [1978] [DVD]
Lillie - The Complete Series [1978] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Francesca Annis
Price: £15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating life, with lessons for the viewer too!, 11 Jan. 2015
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I had heard of Lillie Langtry and knew she was Edward VII's mistress but that was it. As I learned through watching this serial, she had an absolutely fascinating life. I expected the story to become boring once the relationship with the King ended, but in fact that period of her life was the most boring part of the whole serial. It was all about parties, dresses, and effete people with not very much to do. Her story became truly fascinating with the conclusion of her affair with the King. She turned into a entrepreneur who exploited the fact of her royal connections to the max... but oh so charmingly.

As a viewer you make a full emotional journey with this fascinating woman. You feel pain for her as a young ignored wife. You see her find a way through that time to join society and feel something of her initial insecurity which soon hardened into being an accomplished PB (professional beauty), you see her be as brutal and unsympathetic to her husband's needs, as he was to her's in the early days of their marriage, you see 'the don't get mad get even' entrepreneur slowly emerge with time and experience, and finally you see and feel the pain of the old woman who has lost the one thing she truly loves... her daughter.

Francesca Annis captures it all. She is very ably supported by Dennis Lill (the King) and Anton Rodgers (her husband). The King is very lovable and fun, while the husband turns slowly before your eyes, into an alcoholic as he is emasculated by his increasingly domineering and manipulative wife. For me the weakest character in it, was Oscar Wilde. He was a little bit too posy, shallow and irritating - just like his plays. But then again, maybe OW really was just like that.

The costumes are superb if a little gaudy at times. The script was good but not brilliant. Lillie was apparently very witty and this did not come across.

If I were teaching people skills of assertion and conflict management, I would refer them to this production to watch Lillie in action and anyone interested in developing these skills could learn a lot from watching Lillie in action.

One other thing, I had a look at images of Lillie. Francesca Annis was absolutely beautiful in the part, but if you want to have a sense of what the Jersey Lillie looked like, I would suggest looking at images of Diana. To my eyes at least there were similarities, and both Diana and Lillie clearly had the power to attract and hold a viewer's attention through their photogrpahic images. Not sure I would say the same of Annis despite her great natural beauty.


North and South [DVD]
North and South [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rosalie Shanks
Price: £9.47

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less appeal than the Richard Armitage version., 28 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: North and South [DVD] (DVD)
I came to this via the Richard Armitage production. That was full of strum und drang, while I suspect this is closer to the book. As such, it lacks all the romantic stuff aimed at capturing the 21st century viewer's imagination. Patrick Stewart is very good and gets across a lot about a man who is self made and wants to improve himself. Rosalie Shanks is less appealing and somehow seems quite old in the part.

I enjoyed the production but have no great desire to see it again. I would have to say for once the newer production, for all its 21st century production values, appealed to me much more than this stagey wordy, true to the book version. This would be one production where I would say better to see this version first and enjoy it for what it offers, and the later version second.


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