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Top ten films;-(in no particular order)
Laurel&Hardy's Big Business
Ride the High Country
A kind of loving
Follow the fleet
Red Rock West
A night at the opera
Much ado about nothing
Top 10 albums:-
Thr Atomic Mr Basie
Such Sweet Thunder
The Magic Flute
The Goldberg Variations
Yoyoma plays the Bach cello suites
Sacre du printemps
Virtuoso :- Joe Pass
Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins
Louis Armstrong 1947 NY Town Hall concert.
What We Did on Our Holiday (2014)
Enid Blyton storyline,but,like,totally cool,yeah?
Are there no happy families any more?Does anyone find the sight of parents yelling,screaming and gesticulating at one another in the p*ssing rain on the hard shoulder of a motorway while their children cringe in the car even vaguely hilarious? "What we did on our holiday" is the BBC's take on middle - class family life in the second decade of the 21st century with roles that might have been taken by Mr K.More and Miss D.Sheridan back in the day when British pictures were loved throughout the civilised world(apart from France of course). Now,sixty years on and "British" films being 90% American cast and financed,only a few maverick directors can put together a home - grown product that is recognisable as part of the England I inhabit.Sadly, this is not one of them. BBC stalwarts like Mr B.Miller - or is it Mr R.Brydon,I sometimes have difficulty in telling them part - and the wonderful Miss A.Bullmore adopt excruciating Scottish accents that would send Nicola Sturgeon into paroxysms of rage and Mr B.Connolly undoes all the good work he did in "Quartet" by playing the same role with what sounds like very similar dialogue. Even the ubiquitous Miss C.Imrie gets in on the act as a sort of Highland child catcher brought in when a day on the beach for the children and their grandfather turns out rather unexpectedly. As might be expected from the writers concerned,the children are smarter and far nicer than the self - obsessed adults who are supposed to be nurturing them. The message is it's survivable to be a kid with appalling parents as long as you're cool and do your own thing. It's something the BBC thrust into our children's faces on a daily basis on CBBC to the extent that it must seem to many impressionable 10 year olds that that if they live in a secure,happy and loving family they're doing something wrong.
Murder in Successville (2015)
Funny,but not as funny as the cast thinks it is..........
"Murder in Successville" is reminiscent of an overlong sketch in a "Footlights" Christmas Panto.You laugh at first because it's quite funny in a clever - clever way,but people showing off their post - modern ironic grasp of current popular media trends can quickly become tiresome then bum - numbingly boring.At that stage I normally look around for the "Exit" signs and pop out for a fag - which is bit desperate because I don't actually smoke. However,last night at home,trapped on the sofa,short of turning the TV off,which would be a bit ungracious because I would have disturbed my sleeping Labrador,I fronted it out and stayed with it to the bitter and not very surprising end. It told me nothing I didn't already know about British comedy where,particularly in "stand up",it has become the norm for the performer to laugh more than the audience. Written by smart - arses for smart - arses just about sums it up.
Home Fires (2015)
Perms,pinafores and print dresses alone are not enough.....
...to evoke the England,lost under an ocean of nostalgia,of the early days of the second world war. I was born after the Dunkirk debacle that somehow had been turned into something of a victory by government propagandists. It needs a suspension of disbelief almost on that scale to consider "Home Fires" anything but a bread and butter TV series rather cynically timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe. The events are simply not far enough back in time to have period charm, no snappy chaps with plus fours or spats,no flappers or cloche hats,no long - nosed Bentley open - tops whizzing down country lanes where straw - chewing yokels touch their forelocks as Lord Snooty or whoever rolls by. No,the women concerned here could be my mother,grandmother and aunt - staunch W.I. ladies all who would rather have faced the Wehrmacht than dig up the village cricket pitch to grow vegetables. Cricket was England.All right,the Australians were getting good at it but they were only displaced Englishmen after all. Probably the Germans' main problem was that they couldn't play cricket. Not one of the female characters looked as though they got their vegetables from anywhere but Waities. Even the redoubtable Miss S.Bond looks as if she has strayed in from a retro production of "London Pride" The rest of the cast appeared ready to burst into "The Lambeth Walk" at any minute. Posh officers,cheeky cockney airmen,rebellious teenagers,the population of the village a bizarre mix of RADA "country" accents,cut - glass vowels and various regional Britsh dialects - we could be looking at a War Office production of 1940 reminding us of what we are fighting for; a never - never England. But because it's 2015 we have posh doctor's daughter snogging cheeky airman in a field on their first date(just how any "wouldn't happens" do you want?) and a violent controlling husband just to remind us that all men,not just the Hun,are bastards. As I stood waving my union jack in Guildford High Street at the Victory Parade how little I knew of what - according to ITV - was going on in my country.
No Offence (2015)
Audacious.Extraordinary..A jolt in today's "no offence" society
"No offence" has been marketed as a comedy and if taken as such,I can imagine it might well cause offence as it is as bloody and in - your - face as inner - city police work is in real life,with grim and bitter humour providing relief for the coppers whose job it is to cope with the madness and desperation that is abroad in 21st century England's green and pleasant land.And in Manchester. Imagine "Scott and Bailey" on steroids. Refreshingly free from the usual macho bullsh*t that cop show writers seem to think is obligatory,"No offence" centres round three women detectives,two of whom are smart,tough and clever and one of whom is clever but not smart enough to know that cleverness isn't enough in what is still predominantly a man's world. The first episode starts off with an extraordinary sequence where an off - duty woman detective spots a wanted man and chases him.In attempting to escape he is hit by a coach that runs over his head. Horror -stricken she leaves the scene,hoping no one had seen her. This is a straight if beefed - up steal from "Scott and Bailey",but "hommage" is a perfectly acceptable device providing it is not over - used e.g "The delivery man" slavishly following in "Green Wing"'s footsteps. Unfortunately for her,the uber - tough DI has found CCTV footage of the accident and recognises her. They reach a deal where the DC withdraws her application for DS and the DI forgets to recognise her best officer on telly. The plot revolves around a killer apparently specialising in women with Down's Syndrome,a theory that is so politically incorrect in today's "no offence" society that it is a reality check,an intrusion by the real world into the comfortable and often smug world of the middle - class sensibilities that have prevailed for years in the media. A young girl leaving the A&E dept with facial injuries is mistaken for a Down syndrome sufferer and kidnapped. Redeeming herself,the DC tracks her down and jumps into a freezing, open sewer of a river where the girl has been dumped still alive and wrapped in plastic,and pulls her out. There are no easy solutions in "no offence",i's are not dotted nor t's crossed at every turn.The coppers are often vulgar,dirty - mouthed and intolerant - just like in real life.But,as in real life,they hang together lest they be hanged separately. There is also a wonderful coppers' joke about a woman killed in an RTA whilst performing some sort of sexual congress with her Jack Russell terrier.No offence. This is a police world I recognise after having served over 30 ,years in the Met.Just the accents are different.No offence.
Anzac Girls (2014)
I'm sorry,but Anzacs warrant a far better epitaph.
Before Mr M Gibson became a social pariah in Hollywood he starred in "Gallipoli"which told the story of Australian and New Zealand soldiers in the Dardanelles campaign without reducing the subject to the level of an afternoon soap opera(albeit an expensive one). Sadly "Anzac Girls",presumably to catch what its makers regard as the "yoof" element piles cliché after post - "Neighbours" cliché in an attempt to dumb down a long and complex tale into "bites" its intended audience can digest without yawning and reaching for their mobiles. This is not only sad,it's downright insulting to the nurses and soldiers it portrays. There are no characters,merely caricatures,naive Aussie troops,nasty Brits ready to fight to the last drop of Aussie blood,flirty nurses that the"Carry on" team would find it hard to top. The scenes of Kensington Gore are not convincing to people weaned on "24 hours in A & E". I appear to be the first person outside of Australia to have commented on "Anzac girls" and I truly wish I could have been more positive about it. Watch "Gallipoli" instead;and weep. Literally.
The Delivery Man (2015)
"I guess I picked the wrong day to give up gas and air"
"The delivery man" arrives via "Airplane!" and "Green Wing" and is quite unembarrassed in showing it's origins at frequent intervals. You have the bald guy(the excellent Mr A.Macqueen,brilliant as the acerbic anaesthetist in "Holby City) leaping into the frame and making non - sequiturs a la Stephen Stocker in the American comedy and the downright larceny and pulverisation of many a British hospital soap en route to "Green Wing"'s jerky movements and eccentric music score. Miss F.Ripley's character borrows heavily from Miss S.Lopez's performance - or at least the script gives her virtually the same ground to cover i.e.a hopeless lust for the handsome young medic . The sublime Mr Darren Boyd plays the new midwife,recently resigned from the police,who faces prejudice both from his patients and his colleagues and deals with it pragmatically and amusingly. The fact that he was in "Green Wing" acts to cement the two programmes even closer together. Now there is nothing wrong with "hommage" - many of the finest talents in TV and movies use it freely - but there comes a stage where it creeps over to plagiarism and some of "The delivery man" reaches quite close to the limit as far as that is concerned. But,as you might think considering it's origins,it is very funny,quite sharp and the lead character has an appealing vulnerability under his somewhat imperturbable exterior that makes him extremely likable. I have enjoyed this series so far,but I feel that if it is to keep my attention it really should wrench itself away from what has been done before rather better and try to give us something a little fresher.
The Virgin Soldiers (1969)
An accurate and piquant look at National Service life.
Mr H.Bennett is outstanding as the eponymous virgin soldier serving in the British Army during the euphemistically titled "Malayan Emergency". With a group of fine young actors many of whom found subsequent fame he is the eternal "Squaddie",faux - cynical,anxious to find his place in the hierarchy he finds himself him,equally determined to enjoy himself wherever and whenever possible. In 1951 England,few conscripts would have heard of Singapore except perhaps from their relatives who had served in the second world war. Certainly none would ever have found their way there or even point it out on the map. But there they were,old enough to die for their country but not old enough to vote,as they used to say. With messrs Davenport and Patrick as the senior NCO's,the soldiers somehow find their way through the army's labyrinthine structure, customs and mores and most of them end up older and wiser. National Service soldiers weren't wanted by the army as they lacked will and ambition other than to get some in and get out asap,most lockers had a calendar inside the door where days were carefully marked off and time left to serve,first slowly then,miraculously,rather more quickly,passed. Of course the film's title,and it's raison d'etre concerns Mr Bennett's deflowering,not,as you might expect at the hands(if that's the right word) of an Asian sex - worker,but with Miss Redgrave as his superior's daughter,determined to bad a bit of rough in order to upset her pa. But his silliness does not detract from an accurate and piquant look at a long - departed age that sociologists are only just becoming to show an interest in,an age where social differences did not necessarily mean class - hatred from either side of the barriers,where society was not,in fact,as polarised as it is today after over sixty years of liberal enlightenment later. If you don't believe me,try walking around holding hands with a fellow soldier.
Pie in the Sky (1994)
Eccentric British TV at it's best.....
One of the less - likely television detectives of the 1990s is D.I Henry Crabbe(the late Mr Richard Griffiths - massively missed),awaiting a well -earned retirement in order to run a small restaurant with his wife(the sublime Miss Maggie Steed). For somewhat contrived reasons he is forced to continue as a police officer and thus combine his new career with his old one. Cooking on TV?There's a novel idea.....well,it was before we were inundated with hundreds of appalling cheaply produced cooking programmes that dominate our schedules 20 years later. So Mr Griffiths gets to sniff wineglasses knowledgeably, and play with a military - sized oven with every appearance of huge enjoyment. Oh,and do a bit of detecting too,whenever the police are baffled,which they appear to be with worrying regularity. He is a gentle,contemplative soul,not given to saying "You're nicked sunshine" at every opportunity nor bending his captives' arms up behind their backs whilst snarling in their ears - indeed,one wonders why he became a detective in the first place. But still,the whole façade comes tumbling down if you think too hard about it. Best to go along with the flow and watch two lovely actors having fun without breaking into a sweat. Sadly the rest of the regular cast are put in the shade by Mr and Mrs Crabbe in every episode,so much do they dominate the screen. "Pie in the sky" is lovely,quirky TV,I doubt it could be made today let alone be allowed to thrive in this era of plastic - wrapped interchangeable "product" where to be "different" is to be cancelled after the pilot.
Get Some In! (1975)
"Chips with everything" minus the pretensions.............
And far more true - to - life. 'orrible NCOs,crafty cockneys,miserable Jocks....all 1950s human life is here - except for a marked absence of the calming influence of the opposite sex;from the colonel's lady to Rosie O' Grady they are seldom seen,as was the way in those primitive testosterone - fuelled years. Did they really put bromide in the tea? One thing's for certain - if you'd asked for coffee instead you would have been laughed out of the NAAFI. "Get some in" goes where "Carry on Sergeant" and countless army comedies had gone before,exploring the cultural differences of young conscripts and making brilliant comedy that reflected it's era. It could hardly do otherwise,of course,and to find it unacceptable to today's tastes does not mean that it was not hugely funny in 1975. Blokes with droopy moustaches and flares rolled about laughing at their TVs and again on the factory floor the next morning. Of course,today we may laugh at their clothes and their "juvenile" sense of humour,but we regret the passing of their factories and sense of comradeship and shared experiences they invoked. This series saw the first flowering of the great Mr R.Lindsay as a Teddy Boy - a species that was coming to the end of it's time by 1955. A few more years fuelled by the music of Bill Haley and they would fade away as Ruby Murray and Dickie Valentine crooned their way onto our record - players. But the shining star of the series was Mr T.Selby as the Hut NCO,a blustering bullsh*tter who tried but failed to rule by fear,whose façade was soon seen through by the more shrewd members of his squad. His was the performance that remains in the mind thirty years after the programme was televised. The intolerance towards "poofs",though regrettable,merely reflected that of society as a whole. But then we drove Austin Allegros and Vauxhall Vivas,went to Margate on our hols and loved our Queen and Country - what did we know?
Lucky Jim (1957)
A good Boulting Brothers comedy,but not a filmed novel.....
Kingsley Amis was not an "Angry Young Man",Jim Dixon was no Jimmy Porter full of contempt and loathing. He was,no doubt,and rightly so,contemptuous of his boss Professor Welch but desperate to keep on the right side of him as he struggled to retain a permanent position in Welch's History Dept in a less than inspiring provincial university in the early 1950s. "No other Professor in Great Britain",thought Jim,"set such store by being called Professor". Welch is played in the Grand Manner by Mr H.Griffith whose plummy Welsh tones roll around Common Rooms and Dining Rooms alike. He feeds off the sycophancy of his inferiors - anybody who is not a Professor - and accepts Dixon's unquestioning advocacy as his due. His son Bertrand(Mr T - Thomas;quite brilliant) is an objectionable would - be writer,also assiduous in seeking acolytes and admirers. His girlfriend Christine(Miss S. Acker fitting a fifties stereotype) becomes the object of Dixon's fantasies as he struggles to rescue himself from a somewhat bizarre relationship with a work colleague. Mr I.Carmichael is a slightly more assertive Stanley Windrush - the character he played in other Boulting comedies. The novel relates Dixon's thoughts and no one else's so with the film we are seeing Jim from the outside for the first time and the Boultings actually make a good job of fleshing him out,perhaps making him "nicer" than Amis intended,but giving Mr Carmichael a chance to move away from his nervous city gent,junior - officer persona. James Ellroy said of the filmed adaptation of "L.A.Confidential".. "The book was mine - the movie is theirs". Mr Amis may not have been so pragmatic,but the sentiment remains true. His novel was a bit more subtle,his Dixon perhaps more complex,and there are some jarring differences that will surprise and perhaps offend the more sensitive of the book's admirers,but the fact remains that the film "Lucky Jim" is very funny with some fine British actors at the top of their game and a worthy addition to the Boulting Brothers' oeuvre.