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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.
Bloody Sunday (2002)
In 1972 the British Army was still bemused as to how it had become to be regarded as an invading force when only 3 years earlier it had been welcomed by the Catholic community as a means of protecting them against Protestant aggression. The Marxist IRA had done its work well and the Brits were hated,despised and murdered if it could be done with no risk to the killers. The Army was embittered and resentful,confused as to its role . Bloody Sunday was a disaster waiting to happen in a testosterone - fuelled cauldron of mutual distrust and hatred. In Mr Greengrass's film the blame for this tragedy is laid firmly at the door of the British Government. The only innocents are those that died. Mr J.Nesbitt is superb as the Stormont MP leading the march to protest against Internment. As in real life,the moment the first stone is thrown all bets are off. The two sides confront one another,and not surprisingly,the one with the biggest guns wins. Over 40 years have passed and vested interests amongst Republicans and senior British officials have ensured that the truth will never be known. The film is chaotic,jagged,noisy and bloody.There is no time for reflection,again as in real life. As details of the casualties filter through,the senior RUC man - hardly a provo sympathiser - says to a clearly shocked army officer,"Is this what you call a measured response?". The truest and most significant line in the whole film.
Black Work (2015)
The path from fine actor to National Treasure can be treacherous.
Amongst the risks is the danger of over - exposure on television,and Miss S.Smith,possibly through no fault of her own,finds herself on the borderline between being regularly and successfully in work and being chewed up(and eventually spat out) by greedy TV programme makers. Barely a decent period has passed between her appearing as a terminal cancer patient and her latest role as a police officer "Blackwork". Indeed her hair hadn't had time to grow back to its usual length,so she decided to play her character with an urchin - cut rather than wear a wig. Nothing wrong with that per se,but it illustrates the haste with which the "Industry" wants to proceed when they have decided to promote someone "from the chorus" as it were and ensure the viewing public whom presumably they believe to have the attention span of a goldfish do not lose interest in them. So the smart and talented Miss Smith takes centre - stage as the producers hope she will give a bit of a boost to "Blackwork" which otherwise is a bit of a dog. Same old stressed Northern cops,a Chief Constable who goes jogging (an uncomfortable - looking Miss G.James) and a creaky old plot about an undercover detective who might or might not have gone rogue. By the end of the first episode I no longer cared one way or the other. An elfin - looking Miss Smith moved from being miserable to being very miserable and back again at random. You can make an original and gripping TV show about cops oop north even in 2015("No Offence")but it has to be rather less of a one - person band and you need to fill it with characters that the audience can empathise with. The arrival of Mr P.Davis in episode 2 may help,but it shouldn't have been left to Miss Smith to carry the show until his arrival. She is clever,she can be subtle and moving,but frankly,"Blackwork" will not be a highlight on her C.V.
The Vice (1999)
The "Toms Squad"in all it's sordid reality.Uncomfortable and mean.
They're not "Working Girls","Tarts with Hearts"(or otherwise),"Sex Workers",Prossies" or Ladies of the night".In Met parlance they are "Toms".Nobody seems to know why and I guess it doesn't matter much. Many nowadays are of course "Trafficked",but that wasn't such a big problem in 1999 when "The Vice " started. Already in 16 years much of the ethos of the "Toms Squad" and the women they target has changed..Nowadays the Met use specially trained officers to try to offer the women an alternative to "The Life". In my day our efforts were laughed at,the girls were fined 20 or 30 quid at Bow St. for soliciting and the merry - go - round carried on as usual. The splendid Mr K.Stott and his associates are more pro - active(if you'll pardon the pun). Like many coppers he feels a certain guilt in treating the women as criminals in what is basically a customer - led profession. But he is compassionate,angry and frustrated at the lack of support from above and the craven attitude displayed by his superiors to rich and well - connected punters. The women in his team,Misses R.Marcel and C.Catz,are equally excellent being unblinkered and firm without seeming to be judgemental. Both these actresses are adept at displaying strength and authority as exemplified by their roles in "Doc Martin" and "Holby City". So intense is Mr Stott that "The Vice" isn't an easy series to watch, but it is worthwhile getting beneath its skin to get a glimpse of the dangers of a very dangerous way of life . Prostitution has always seemed to me to be like legalised rape - not much to do with sex,mostly to do with the exercise of power by men over women. Nothing I saw in "The Vice" leads me to change that belief. No sex,just brutality expressed in another form. A very good and disturbing series.
Angel of the Skies (2013)
"Roger that,lootenant"....somebody should have.................
Navigating through heavy flack despite the fact that they appear to be flying across a mountain range,the crew of an RAF Liberator,a multi - national mix of English,American and South African aircrew with dodgy accents,conduct a terse conversation in 21st century media - speak. It sounds as if it had been texted from the writer's smartphone. Having miraculously evaded the attentions of numerous toy 109s they then rather carelessly crash "Somewhere in Germany" having lost their rear gunner who fell out of a hole in the fuselage someone made earlier. This poor chap was then shot by a passing SS officer instead of being captured and interrogated for useful information which would have rather spoiled the point about Germans being nasty buggers all round and likely to be dangerous to the health of any RAF types stooging around Hunland looking for a trip back to Blighty. Sheltering in a passing barn - as it were - our heroes,under the command of Captain Kirk(I couldn't believe it either)encounter a comely farmer's daughter who tells them "The Germans are down the road",which,as she is German herself,seems a little bizarre,textually,but never mind. Our heroes run off and lo and behold the SS Officer from a bit earlier has the girl shot before chasing after them. Eventually only the brave South African survives to return to Blighty and save the Empire with scarcely a twitch of his moustache. 50 years later Apartheid came to an end. Possibly those two events were connected. But then again,possibly not. "Angel of the skies" was made in 2013.Presumably by two 12 - year - olds on their dad's old Apple. It is the worst war film I have ever seen and that includes "Escape to Athena".Think about that.
The Interceptor (2015)
Mr T.Eve will have to dig pretty deep to rescue this..........
Once upon a time there was a short - lived TV series called "By any means" which featured the splendid Miss G.Mckee in an unlikely mother hen role as a senior detective in charge of a bunch of undisciplined young mavericks working on the very edge of legality in pursuit of serious criminals whom orthodox police methods had failed to subdue. In "The Interceptor" we have a senior Customs officer shepherding a bunch of mavericks working on the very edge of legality in pursuit of serious criminals whom etc etc..... I'm afraid that on the evidence of the first two episodes there is very little to indicate that it will fare any better. Everyone does a lot of running about and shouting and stereotypical Eastern European criminals and Gangstas are given full vein but it all amounts to absolutely nothing we haven't seen before and better acted. The story is over - reliant on a technology that is ludicrously unlikely and would be no doubt illegal if it existed. The only hope the BBC might nurture is that the charismatic Mr T.Eve will take this show by the scruff of its neck and shake it like an angry pitbull.So far he has only exuded menace veiled by a cool confidence born of years of rescuing dead - loss TV shows by sheer force of his personality alone. If he doesn't,"The Interceptor" will go the way of "By any means".
Shutter Island (2010)
Cop who liberated the Death Camps goes into meltdown........
Not a "Horror Flick" as far as I'm concerned,but a Hitchcockian exercise in delving beneath the surface of a routine Cop story. Much the same as "Psycho" in many respects then. Clearly Mr Scorsese has studied The Master's oeuvre and come up with a smart tribute hiding behind the schlock - horror label and the trappings of slasher - flickdom. It is 1954.Traumatised cop Mr L.de Caprio is called to what used to be known in less sensitive times as an Insane Asylum when a patient goes missing. He has his own agenda as he believes the arsonist who killed his family may be detained there. With his partner he starts making investigations that lead him to believe some kind of "Reds under the beds" conspiracy has taken place. The Superintendent,Mr.B.Kingsley,is less than helpful,adding credence to the cop's suspicions. A convoluted plot ensues whereby - aided by liberal use of flashback - Mr de Caprio is drawn more and more deeply into the mystery of the missing patient and its wider significance for him. Twist follows twist until the ultimate turn at the end which is open to various interpretations. After about 15 minutes a vague memory was nagging at me and eventually I recalled that I had read "Shutter Island" in novel form two or three years ago and it says much for Mr Scorcese's skill that I still found the ending brilliantly ambivalent. Mr de Caprio plays the deeply troubled detective quite brilliantly. He is a man who has seen things no person should have to see,both in wartime and peacetime.Just how much more can he take?
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.