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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.
P.S. I Love You (2007)
Not since "The Quiet Man"has there been such Oirish whimsy.
Like an Irish theme pub,full of shillelaghs,four - leaf clover,Guiness and bar staff who insist on making shamrocks on the head of your pint of porter. There is even a man dressed as a leprechaun. Only the Americans could believe that an Ireland like this actually exists. John Ford perpetrated a crime against Irishness with "The Quiet Man" with Sean T'ornton and "God Bless all here" from a brave rebel(or murdering terrorist according to one's point of view) and "P.S.I love you" merely perpetuates the stereotype. Mr G.Butler is the wild Irish Rover in New York who suffers from a fatal brain tumour so swiftly it might almost appear rude. His Coleen is Miss H.Swank in a role Miss J.Roberts must have thanked god she was too old for. Prior to his unfortunate demise he wrote a series of letters to his widow which are delivered throughout the film in some mysterious fashion that is only mysterious if you are under ten years of age in which case let me stop you and warn you that there are one or two rather raunchy scenes your mom and dad might not want you to see. Miss Swank follows these letters to the letter - if you get my drift and ends up in old Oireland having sex with one of her late hubby's best mates.Way to go,eh? It will surprise nobody that this bloke eventually ends up with her(and her mother who is casting covetous looks at his fellow farm worker) so it all ends up happily and predictably. Is it just because I'm a bloke?
Le Week-End (2013)
La Vieille Vague.
Right from the start,"Le Week - end" pins its colours to the mast.That Miles Davis soundalike ultra - cool 1950s jazz,the sharp close - ups,the moving cameras,yes folks it's a retro nouvelle vague picture but instead of Moreau or Belmondo it has stolid old Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan as pension - age Brits stumbling(literally in his case) around movie - cliché Paris apparently in a bid to save a thirty year marriage that's about as salvageable as the "Titanic". The dialogue has that Oxbridge veneer of cleverness that you just know would never be delivered by any human being except on late - night TV shows replete with smug intellectuals greedy for Channel Four's money.
Even Mr Broadbent with his hurt Labrador eyes looks as if he is trying to get his words out as quickly as possible to get it over with. Miss Duncan - his shrewish wife(and if I'm being unkind to shrews I herewith apologise) dons a false smile occasionally but is as unpleasant in her own way as Miss Thora Hird in "A kind of loving". She is the kind of woman who would shrivel a man's gonads at a glance,except for poor old Jim who returns to the scene of the crime like a whipped cur. Mr J.Goldblum has lines even smarter and his New York Intellectual schtick is amusing in his first scene but quickly deteriorates into parody. He plays Jim's old Cambridge buddy(natch),quite possible his alter - ego if you want to go into things a bit more deeply - which I didn't. I bet he liked the soundtrack as he's a nifty jazz pianist himself. Not funny,not dramatic,not romantic,"Le Week - end" joins the legion of British films that flash across the sky like a comet to disappear and come back in five hundred years time when large brains welded to wheelchairs may well wave their tentacles in delight and proclaim it as a masterpiece. It is the sort of film that lends credence to M.Truffaut's oft - quoted maxim that the words "British" and "Cinema" should not be uttered in the same breath. Something that will never be said about him.
Tommy the Toreador (1959)
Was this blond,blue- eyed cockney Britain's Elvis?...
Well,he was a refreshing change from impresario Larry Parnes' usual indenti - kit smouldering,greased - up Teddy Boys whose pimply faces adorned the bedroom walls of many a middle - class English schoolgirl in the late 50's. Tommy had nice teeth,loved his mum and came from Bermondsey which might as well have been Bermuda for all that most of his fans knew about it. He wasn't rally rock ' n ' roll,we all knew it. Now Gene Vincent..there was the real thing,and Jerry Lee till he married his 13 year old cousin. So Tommy was loved by mums and dads,a fact that immediately alienated him from 80% of his potential audience and before "Tommy the Toreador" was released he was already moving from pop star to entertainer. He did his best but the material,which defeated some of Britain's top comic talent of the time,sadly,did for him. Filmed determinedly at Elstree,it looked about as Spanish as The Old Kent Road apart from a few stock shots of a fiesta that scarcely blend seamlessly with the rest of the movie. The overwhelming impression is that the makers were desperate to milk this worn-out cash cow one more time before it dries up. The songs are very poor and that's suspending my critical faculties for the sake of courtesy. Some of our favourite actors make hurried almost furtive appearances before hurrying off to cash their cheques. Ten years later Tommy,his brief rock ' roll career mercifully forgotten, sung and danced gloriously in the excellent "Half a sixpence". That,I feel sure,is how he'd rather be remembered.
I Want My Wife Back (2016)
It might be a farce if it was actually funny......
Everybody frantically overacts,speaks very loudly and generally gives "Look mum,it's me" type performances presumably to cover up the fact that "I want my wife back" is hack writing and "let's move hurriedly on to our next project" acting. The lovely Miss C.Catz,unlucky enough to have been lumbered with one underdeveloped 9 year old in "Doc Martin" has the double misfortune of finding herself partnering another one here. At least Doc Martin could help you out if you got a nasty rash. Mr B.Miller,chewing scenery as if he'd been on a 5 and 2 diet for six months is totally unbelievable as the idiot whose eternal dedication to his employers has finally driven his wife to call time on their marriage.He discovers this via a third party and spends the first episode in complete denial whilst their respective unknowing families prepare for a celebration for the happy couple. Mr S.Wright,another refugee from the beast of Port Wenn plays his boss in an echo of the Jack Lemmon Fred MacMurray relationship in "The Apartment". All concerned looked very uncomfortable and I only hope the remuneration compensated for the embarrassment. Farce isn't easy to pull off.I doubt if Sir Brian Rix would have been impressed. The producers should sit and watch "Dry Rot"and have another go if they dare.
The Lady in the Van (2015)
An inveterate observer reluctantly becomes a participant...
Mr A.Bennet was always the most difficult of the "Beyond the Fringe" cast to pin down.Miller was pure intellect and limitless versatility, Moore,all fart jokes and sublime piano playing masking a huge inferiority complex,Cook,cruel and cutting,bullying his fellow thesps into submission;but Bennet,well,he was prissy,almost OCD,pedantic,an observer and devastatingly accurate recorder of life whilst maintaining a sufficient distance from it to avoid being too involved in the oily rag side of being human. A writer and playwright,actor and raconteur of the highest order,he eventually became the poster boy of the 1950s Oxbridge generation of artists,a man whose eclecticism was legendary. Before "The lady in the van",together with Nicholas Hytner,Bennet produced and wrote a number of plays - later filmed - that were both enjoyable and stimulating,which is a nice trick if you can pull it off. Here he shows four Alan Bennets;the human being,the writer,the actor narrating his own work and finally the real Mr Bennet who rides his bicycle triumphantly through crepuscular London streets to his old house where most of the action of the film takes place,to unveil a Blue Plaque to the eponymous lady. Miss Shepherd temporarily parks her van in Mr Bennet's driveway and goes about her rather fraught business from day to day whilst Bennet the observer takes notes and Bennet the human engages him in a long dialogue which is briefly put, about being outside life and looking in and joining the hoi - polloi which absolutely goes against the grain. Eventually,this prim and ascetic man descends from his self - imposed Olympus and interacts with this odd lady,who,rather than appreciating his efforts does little but insult him,thus reinforcing his taste for separateness. He does not become all touchy - feely.."I am not a "Carer",he tells a Social Worker," I loathe the term",his lips turned down with distaste. Mr A.Jennings does a fine job with three of the four Bennets. Miss M.Smith is more restrained than of late as Miss Shepherd,but the only time she shows any emotion other than "actor's emotion" is when she is playing the piano,at first haltingly,then more fluently in a Care Home.This was the best and truest part of the film for me and in all probability didn't really happen,as it is debatable which portions of the story were brought to life in Bennet's fertile mind. Yes,it is clearly theatrical,but my goodness it is good theatre,and darn good cinema too.
Daylight Robbery (2008)
Carry on Blagging.
Hugely funny,I hardly stopped laughing throughout.Wonderful comic performance from Sean Williamson as the copper in charge at a bank siege who couldn't find his own backside with a telescope and a sniffer dog. Brilliantly satirises stereotypical Cockerney Geezers ..Luvv'ly Jubbly,Leave It Aht....Yer'avin a tin barrfff incha...etc etc...I absolutely howled at their sharp - witted London Patois...and then I realised it was meant to be serious!No,honestly,the makers of "Daylight Robbery" intended it to be edgy,urban and gritty.So you could believe,if you were very,very silly,that this is what it's really like to rob a bank. First you put on stocking masks that actually show your every feature very clearly,then you employ complete morons who can't stop talking all the time.Then you fix an alibi that only holds water if nobody has ever seen "The Italian Job". And a method of retrieving the money that went out with "The Great Escape"which,incidentally,is all you'd be dreaming of for the next thirty years or so if you carried on like that. So,hardly "Rififi" then,and threatening to kill an SO.19 officer would merely have caused you to have been blown the f*** away whilst trying to escape. Get real,guys. Frankly I have yet to see a British caper movie that is remotely convincing because the bad guys never seem bad enough or the cops ruthless enough. We always want to give our villains dear old mums or heavily pregnant wives/girlfriends as if that abates their villainy somehow. And our coppers,who,strangely like the popular belief,never seem to have mums at all,dear and old or otherwise.And their wives,if seen,are thin lipped beehived brow - beaten creatures for ever preparing their husbands dinner then throwing it in the bin because he's going to be late home again. Till that day when British cinema comes up with something like the real McCoy(and I shan't hold my breath) it inflicts the likes of "Daylight Robbery" on us with depressing regularity. Unless one of your loved ones is in it I should give it a miss.
The Durrells (2016)
Farce and furious
Eccentric penurious middle - class English family re - locate to Corfu and the result is rather like "Carry On Abroad" without the subtleties of plot and dialogue. In a desperate attempt to "sex up" Mr G.Durrell's charming if rather slight tales,ITV have somewhat confusingly retained the 1930s timeframe but superimposed what it considers to be the appropriate 21st century updates in order to prevent its audience from falling into a stupor induced by what was originally a charming portrait of a rather eccentric nuclear family placed in an unfamiliar setting. The "otherness" of the native islanders is coarsened to become a stereotypical interpretation of an E.U.citizenry,blase and cosmopolitan and liberal. After about 3 weeks the second oldest Durrell child is seen kissing his newly - acquired Greek girl - friend in public,an act for which in the 1930s he would probably been shot by her father. None of this would have seemed out of place in a Whitehall Farce,with sniggering insinuations,silly foreigners and ingénues seeking to lose the virginity. The performances are loud and boorish with the exception of the little lad playing Gerard Durrell himself who appears as a one - boy Green Party,and understands animals,a bit like Crocodile Dundee but without the knife. He alone seems to appreciate that he is a long way from Bournemouth in every sense. The title sequence is pretty neat though.
The Night Manager (2016)
Not as good as it thinks it is.Thank God for Ms Colman.
The Night Manager gets his kit off at every opportunity but is still shown as sensitive and empathetic towards women which his not a bad trick if you can pull it off. Mr H.Laurie is not convincing as a megalomaniac evil arms dealer(are there any other kind?)and in fact is rather hammy,which is a disappointment. At the very start of the first episode when Pine(Mr Hiddlestone - now promoted as the "new" Poldark" who in turn was promoted as the "new" Mr Darcy...yawn,yawn) walks through a serious riot in Egypt it is clear he is not merely a hotel employee.Here is a man who is accustomed to being in the midst of anarchy and chaos.As imperturbable as Noel Coward in "Our Man In Havana" he strides towards the British Consulate. Clearly a person to be reckoned with. After that,Im afraid,things went a bit south for me. Various shades of crookery displayed by British diplomats,Spy vs Spy, typical le Carre minutiae regarding the S.I.S.'s different tentacles and rivalry and corruption at the very top of M.I.6. And these are just the good guys. Mr Laurie and his bad guys ( lots of requisite East Europeans included,natch) all overact like mad and it is left to the great Miss Colman to provide the only portrait of a believable human being as the woman who handles the material sent over by Pine. It must have cost a few bob to put together and doubtless the cast had a fine old time in Mallorca at the home of some multi - millionaire financier with links to the disgraced "Kids Company". Nice to see my licence money going where it is needed.
Birds of a Feather (1989)
Was fresh and funny once.Now it's crude and embarrassing.
The "girls" are nigh - on pensioners,Dorien looks like something from the health warning on a fag packet....please give it up ladies. Yet still it prospers and is being re - run on "Freeview" about every ten minutes - then there's the stage show...I'm obviously missing something. Most weeks either of the three stars are on the front page of the women's mags and it's a shame that these fine actors are mainly known for what is their least work. Miss Quirke in particular has real presence. Only Miss Joseph has maintained her accent over the years,unfailingly hitting the right note. Mesdames Quirke and Robson wax and wane with their Cockerney,sometimes in the same sentence. Back in 1989,bright - eyed and bushy - tailed,Sharon and Tracey were prison widows,dutifully visiting their worthless blokes in the nick,exchanging witty banter over the kitchen island in Chigwell. By the end of the last series they were dull - eyed and raddled,spouting crudities and less than subtle innuendo like Alan Carr without the inhibitions. Still,as long as the cheques keep coming in,eh ladies?
Message from Nam (1993)
War is hell....on the hairstyle.And the acting.
Miss R.Mclanahan,adored by many for her work on "The Golden Girls", sets the tone with an hysterical performance as a Grand Guignol type Southern mother even Tennessee Williams would have thought twice about inventing. She winces,she wrings her hands,she sobs,she pats her hair..I don't recall her actually saying "Well,I declare" but it must have been very tempting. Her rebellious daughter (well,it was 1964) decides to go to Berkeley instead of a nice Southern college and despite the warnings of her Mammy (yes,really),falls in love with the first bloke she sets eyes on as if cursed by the Bad Fairy. It is the beginning of the Anti - War protests and...well,you can make up the rest yourself. Her man gets drafted and killed so quickly it's almost rude. She gets a job on his daddy's newspaper(how convenient is that?) to see for herself what it's like on the lot where they made "M.A.S.H. and discovers early on that her blusher gets smudged real easy under fire. She falls for another soldier-boy and he buys the farm too. By now I'm aching to switch to the Shopping Channel where there's a special on Tanzanite by I won't give up so easy so I stay on to the end which re-enacts the Fall of Saigon rather less convincingly than the stage show in London. I will protect the identities of the other artistes involved with Ms McLanahan in ruining my Saturday afternoon,I just hope their cheques cleared.