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Category Archives: Review

The Professor And The MadMan

The film is about the professor, James Murray played by Mel Gibson, who in 1879 began compiling the first comprehensive edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, (aiming to find the first usage of, continued usage of, correct spelling and correct pronunciation of every single word) a task led the overseeing committee, and Doctor William Minor played by Sean Penn, a doctor who submitted over 10,000 entries while he was undergoing treatment at Broadmoor Criminal a Lunatic Asylum, London.

There was something very gripping about this based on true events film. We see the hidden power of women behind these men, as well as the blind patronising manner of those in authority. Not only the Overseeing Committee and it’s inner politics but also the medical officer at Broadmoor.

The story behind the story that brings these people (and so many others) together is the true glue. The kindness of the guards when the Doc helps one of them who is injured, saving his life. The anguish of the wife of the man Dr Minor shot dead accidentally one fateful night. The family support and strength of the Professor. The Committee members supporting and dropping allegiances at the drop of a hat.

The one thing above anything that spoilt this film, was not Mel Gibson’s Scottish accent, but the diction and clarity of Sean Penn’s American one. There were numerous times where due to his gravely tone and quiet manner it was almost impossible to hear what he was saying and I nearly resorted to subtitles.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2020 in Films, Review

 

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Review – Hunters

It’s been a while since I wrote a review, after binge watching this series I thought I’d put digits to keys.

WARNING. :: This series is not for the faint hearted, it is highly explicit in language, violence, sex, torture and gore, if you are alright with that sort of thing then it is a very watchable series.

PREMISE :: Shortly after WW2 there was another kind of battle, who could claim the highest intelligent scientific and medical minds for their country. Thousands of former card carrying or oppressed into Nazi-ism people were given opportunities to relocate around the globe, some to the U.K., a high number to Argentina and other South American countries but the biggest tussle was between the USSR and the USA.

This brought much conflict in the USA as the nation had also become a refuge for many thousands of Jews, who either fled Europe or survived the atrocities. Known as Operation Paperclip, many Germanic scientists were instrumental in the space program, as well as thousands living peaceful lives as doctors, teachers, business leaders, bankers, police officials, government agency personnel etc.

Across time these hiders would be discovered, or recognised and attempts would be made to bring them to war crime justice, but the politics often meant they were just spirited away to another part of America.

THE SERIES :: A very affluent Jew puts together a rag bag of people to hunt down these villains, the torturers of the Death Camps and administer a little retribution of their own. Centering around the young teen Jonah, whose Safta (Grandma) was shot by a Nazi when she threatened to uncovered his truth, he is taught the horror and truth by those connected to those haunting names of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen and how it is right and relevant for his generation to keep up the fight. But it is not that straightforward, everyone has their secrets, their own reasons and motives for working together. The biggest being that potentially a fourth Reich could rise and take over the largest democratic country, from the inside, with help from those in South America (and an enigmatic leader with eyebrow raising connection).

THE DELIVERY :: I didn’t really ‘get’ into the style of delivery until the third episode. In general I found the whole thing frustrating and gripping, straightforward and complicated, over exaggerated and subtle, far fetched and plausible, thought provoking and fanciful, and list of contradictions. Other reviewers have labelled these contradictions as Tarantino-esque and that’s a deserved description.

The interspersed stories of Meyer (Jewish Nazi Hunter leader) and Ruth (Jonah’s Safta and Meyers true love) during their time in the death camp, and others cleverly connects the past with the present, which for this series is 1977 New York.

THE ENDING :: Hmm, without giving too much away, the ending was equally satisfying and not so. I don’t know if this was written as a one series drama or whether it was written with a potential second or spin off, let’s just say that door is slightly ajar.

There were some excellent plot twists, confessions and character actions. There were also some very annoying confusions, I’ve no idea why the Vietnam Vet was kidnapped and taken to the Argentinian hub of the uprising, other than to reveal a twist. I’ve no clue about the English catholic Jew nun (don’t ask, I’m not sure either) her story, motive, truth.

Over all it was worth the watch and I would watch a second series.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2020 in Films, In The News, Review

 

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Tick Box Engineering

I’m at it again. Another customer survey has dropped on my mat. This one a lot more properly put together than the previous poorly photocopied double sided single sheet job, this is a twenty page booklet.

As you can see, the choice of options for the various questions is rather well thought out and worded, with seven levels of perception. It went on to ask how I felt about particular situations in my personal circumstances.

However, it was the next question that let it down. It was “Does the service help you to achieve this” with a yes or no answer. I had a problem with this because I wanted a third option, so I could put “sometimes” or “to some degree”. Putting no, is not justified but putting yes seemed to give the impression that all was hunky dory.

As I got to the last page, I wondered whether I had been sent the survey in error, because the question asked whether I purchased additional care independently and how this was paid for. You see folks, I self-fund, I get zero financial assistance from any Council or Benefit. So cheekily I added a box to the set and added that.

Yes, I am a rebel!

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2020 in General, Review

 

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X-rating Review

I’ve been ‘selectively chosen’ to complete a service user questionnaire…. hmmmm, not sure if it is wise of them, or me. I have issues.

To begin with, I am not impressed with the quality of this questionnaire (pictured above), I didn’t need a hidden words game in trying to read the darn thing. Whilst they did provide a stamped addressed envelope, the covering letter failed to give a deadline, so can I give it a week or a month to ponder over.

It is difficult to ‘grade’ competency when over the past five-six months I have had at least thirty different people visit me, some excellent and others not so good. Some I saw once and never again, some are my infrequent regulars, some are my oftens and a handful are my always. Wouldn’t it have been better to say “For the week x to y, how did we do?”

Grading is so subjective, after all two people could receive the exact same service yet one grade it as average and another as very good. How does this highlight areas that need attention. Hmm, maybe I’ll add an anonymous letter suggesting that maybe sending out ten or twenty of these a month asking how they did the week prior, would give a better overview across, say a six month period.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2020 in Life, people, Review

 

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Jane Eyre Tour


It is a reasonably well known tale, orphaned child reluctantly brought up in disdain by Aunt, sent off to an ‘educational institution’ at the age on ten. Many years later the child as an adult is a teacher in the same institution, working for bed and board, wishing for something better. She secures a post of Governess at an isolated mansion for a child, where Jane for the first time has freedom, warmth from friendship, and a sense of inner contentment. When the master returns from his travels, his aggressive demeanour, their differing stations in life, her straightforwardness, fuel a tender passion. But there is a heavy secret, locked in the attic is his mad first wife. When Jane discovers the truth she runs away from the lies and the liars as well as trying to distance herself from the distress and disappointment, however something draws her back, and when she returns she finds the mansion in ruins and Mr Rochester blinded from injuries. 

Both my sister and I had seen several adaptations of this classic Charlotte Brontë story.  As this was a National Theatre production we knew it was not going to be the traditional theatrical setting, however as we took our seats the stage was set with what looked like a grown-up sized childs playground climbing frame. Slowly the auditorium began to fill but with just five minutes before curtain up, there were still more than half the seats vacant. The complete cast of 12 took up their starting positions.  Whilst the dialogue, accents and costume stayed close to the original story, the staging was contemporary and sometimes difficult to properly grasp its concept and symbolism. The introjection of music and singing sometimes felt disconnected. By the third act seeing the quiet cast move and climb up and down the various ladders and stairs without seemingly purpose, became rather annoying and children climbing in the playground.

This in no way means the performance was bad. The actors did a brilliant job of portraying the various characters, and by far the most enjoyable was a bearded gentleman who played the part of Pilot the dog, who often raised a mild laughter from the audience with his instantly recognisable dog like antics. The actor portraying the arrogant Mr Rochester brought with it a sense of distraction, of brooding resentment of how his life had been mapped out for him by his father without making him evil or wicked.

For us the thing missing from the production was the sense of a sinister secret. In everything we have seen or read there was always a sense of foreboding, of Jane being told not to go into the attic, of sounds and happenings that indicate all is not right. There was absolutely none of this at all throughout the whole performance, only twice was manic laughter heard. For us it was a significant element that was missing.

With a mixture of live music and recorded sound effects these had a tendency to drown out the dialogue of the actors, and on occasion I felt I had missed a vital piece of information that carried an element of the story. This is not unique to this production but something I have experienced at other performances at this Theatre.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Books, Films, Review

 

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The Play That Goes Wrong


The Comley Polytechnic Am Dram group ‘attempt’ to stage the acclaimed murder mystery, the leaders directorial debut (pronounced day-boo) “The Murder At Haversham Manor” set in the 1920’s. They are excited to bring this to the stage as  their limited cast and tight budgets have somewhat hampered their past productions of James And The Peach, Snow White and a few Tall Broad Fellows, and Cat.  However not everything goes to script!

The fun starts before the start, as the auditorium is filling the stage hands are asking if anyone has seen a dog, a springer spaniel with brown ears called Winston. On stage there is a door that won’t stay closed, every time someone closes, slams it, pushes and holds it closed, it slowly opens, of course at the start of the first act it sticks resolutely shut. The mantle shelf keeps falling down and an audience member is enlisted to hold it while a stagehand gets enthusiastic with sticky tape.

From beginning to end there are numerous mishaps of physical, verbal, set and props. But stoically the play must go on. The split second timing of stunts and interaction is incredible. The whole audience were in fits and waves of laughter throughout, I am sure we drowned out the Take That gig at the football stadium. The dexterity of positioning, the glamorous fiancé of the murdered Lord, the flamboyant over acting of the lord’s Brother in Law, the faithful butler who had the difficult words written on his hand or cuff which he mispronounced (morose, as mo-rose, cyanide as Ki-an-idd, philanthropist as Philand-rope etc). The slap stick antics of trying to move the corpse onto the stretcher, or when trying haul the unconscious fiancé through the window makes you wonder why they are not covered to bruises or marks because dumbies are not used in place. 

Valiantly battling on as the stage collapses around them, we reach the denouement, the Police Inspector did it.

This absolutely is the most hilarious entertainment I’ve ever seen. I’d go again, tonight, to see it and strongly recommend you do too. To this, or any other Mischief Comedy productions, Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Bank Robbery That Goes Wrong.  But take hankies, or a hand towel, you will be crying with laughter!

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Life, Review

 

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Running Wild

Last night Big Sis and I went to see this amazing play, an adaptation of Michael Morpergo’s 2009 novel about the Boxing Day Tsunami in Indonesia in 2004.  Lily Macready was riding Oona the 12-year old elephant along the beach, but she was behaving awkwardly, wanting to turn away from the flat calm waters, her flight or fight senses took hold and she took off deep into the rainforest as the devastating wave hit the shores taking the lives of many and destroying countless buildings.  The story details how Lily learns to understand Oona and how this majestic animal protects and guides her young charge. Stumbling into the dark dangerous world of greedy gun wielding animal hunters and bullying farmers burning the forest to plant plams to make the highly profitable palm oil (used in many products from soap and shampoo to cooking oils and convenience foods). Eventually stumbling into an animal sanctuary, sunburnt, shot, dehydrated and exhausted and being reunited with her Grandma.

I was not prepared for the play to be so dark and violent in places, something which noticeably upset the young children in the audience. The plot brought attention to the environmental plight of the region, the global zealous need for commodities and the cruel lengths the ruthless go to exploiting that market. 

Oona the elephant is mesmerising, her puppeteers seemingly effortlessly bring life to this charismatic character. The orangutans were lively, cheeky and the babies (being hunted to be sold as pets) were utterly mischievous. Even the tiny details as the fire flies were completely believable. There was a palpable gasp from the audience as the tiger was carried into the hunters camp, dead, valuable as a skin, a trophy, medicine, even though earlier we had seen the same tiger attempting to attack Lily and Oona. 

I would have liked Oona’s trumpet call to be a little louder, as compared to the volume and depth of the orangutans and forest noises it was almost overpowered. Also, we did not really get a sense of time Lily was missing, whether it was a couple of days or a couple of weeks.  But none the less it was a very engaging performance.

After coming home I took a look online to see if I could find out a bit more, and ended up confusing myself further. I thought the story was based on a true life event, although there was a story of a child being taken into the forest on the back of an elephant, Michael Morpergo’s book tells the tale of a boy called Billy, yet the play is a girl called Lily.  There was very little information about what Lily had experienced, or whether she stayed in Indonesia or returned to the UK, whether her father had died prior to the holiday and whether her Mother was killed in the Tsunami, key elements in the plot.

Never the less, I would recommend going to see the performance.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2017 in Books, Life, people, Review

 

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Granny & Death & Terry & Me


It began by chance, a book sent in error from a club, a blurb that struck a chord, that became a twenty year trek through the wit, the word play, the entendres, the sideways swipe, the unobvious parody, the literal and the Literal musings of a man’s meanderings of a fantasy land. I have no idea why Sir Terry caught my imagination, whether there’s enough reality in the fantasy to hold a ring of truth or I was just entertained.

When two of his books, Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music were made into an animated series, I practically wore the VHS out watching them over and over, the colourful characters firmly in my mind I could see and hear them as I read and reread the books. The dulcet tones of Tony Robinson reading the audiobooks often accompanied sleepless nights.  Later when tomes like Hogwatch, Going Postal and The Colour of Magic were filmed, they were top of my birthday/Christmas lists, staying close to the story, capturing much of the books comedic quality without tipping over into absurdity. 

Every one of the forty-one works has had its own flavour, often parodying cliches of religion, science, mythology, folklore, business acumen, dynasties and continents or authors like Shakespeare, Tolkein, Dicken’s and Potter.  A few of his notable characters have burrowed and set up home in my psyche, Granny Weatherwax and Death being the primary.  I can loose hours perusing numerous quotes or mini scenes. Such as (in exaggerated witchy hag voice), “When shall we three meet again”, “I can do next Tuesday” replies Nanny Ogg in her West Country tone; or “On nights such as this, witches are abroad.  Well, not actually abroad. They don’t like the food and you can’t trust the water and the shamans always hog the deckchairs.” In this time of election decisions I’m reminded of Ankh-Morpork’s take on democracy, “Ankh-Morpork had dallied with many forms of government and had ended up with that form of democracy known as One Man, One Vote. The Patrician was the Man; he had the Vote.”

With the death of Sir Terry and the publication of The Shepherd’s Crown, the final novel, something had an end. I delayed reading the book as I wasn’t ready to say good bye to this comforting friend. Last week I took up the book and began. The first few chapters were pure Pratchett even if the content was the death of my favourite character, but after that the book felt disjointed and unpolished. After the epilogue Sir T’s PA Rob added a letter, he told of their working methods and how books came together, but with the last book there had not been the time to fully work on the drafts, although often the final draft had to be crowbarred from his hands as Sir T was ever quite totally ready to say it was complete and done. It’s well known that this is not his finest, but it is his last and maybe demonstrates that despite his failing mental faculties he was determined to write to the end and not leave us hanging.

Farewell Sir T, Granny and all. 

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2017 in Books, people, Review

 

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The Book Thief

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This read was recommended to me by a fellow blogger sometime ago and when the book was available on offer, I plumped for it.  It tells the tale of a small child growing up just outside Munich during the Second /world War.  It is narrated by the fictional persona of Death, of things that happened across a brief number of years, to her and those around her.

We have all been taught and told about the war, the battles and conflicts, the soldiers, sailors, resistance workers, we’ve seen films and television shows about war time Britain and how it affected various lives in various areas of our island.  I’ve read accounts of the occupation of Jersey but never have I come across anything relating to ordinary people living ordinary lives within Germany, during this epic period in history.

Liesel experiences a great deal of hardship, the disappearance of her father, the death of her brother, the distress of her mother, all which bring her to Hans and Rosa Hubbermann, her foster parents.  Strangers become her closest kin and she sees first hand the power of word, the unity of struggle and the erroneous understanding of a dictator.  How work became a struggle, rationing cripplingly severe, the affects of suspicion, forever being watched, every action suspicious, division within family and tragedy after tragedy.  Words are her saviour, learning to read, to write, to understand all that kept the nightmares away.

The twists, turns and fear through out the book are gripping, the people technically an enemy but really victims, just the same.  A generation of youngsters whose childhood, education, life, has been like no other.  A nation today that would be deep in the grips of PTSD. in an age where you just got on with it.

Enjoyable read, it wrong to say, it kept me enthralled, it shone a light on an area I had not thought about, it entertained and showed strength of character within these people.  It maybe a fictional story set in a real life time, but I am sure there were many people who could relate to her experiences and probably experienced worse.

I rated it 5*

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in Books, Review

 

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Alan Cumming :: A Memoir

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Rarely have I come across a book, especially a biography, that was so page turningly gripping, when I do, it stays with me after I turn the final page, there is a sense of wishing for it to continue and an astounding amount of wonderment.  This book is firmly in my top five of those books.

This is not the run of the mill celebrity life biography, the rage to riches, poverty to prosperity, violence to vindication, with extreme luck and persistence.  The book comfortably switches between three areas, “Then” is the period in Alan’s history that highlights a personal decision or illustrates a cause, “2010” the filming of his episode of “Who Do You Thin You Are?” and the “Now” the time of writing in 2012.

We all have those triggers in life, a smell, a sound, a place, that take us straight back to a memory either warm or cold.  For Alan who describes the fear and violence of his childhood as something locked away in the box in the attic of his brain, an unexpected phone call from his estranged father caused the hinges on that box to collapse and a life time of suppression had to find somewhere to go.

Walking alongside him as he discovers the history of his maternal grandfather Tommy Darling, while keeping what was bubbling and boiling in his private life, you wonder how this cheeky charming bouncy Scot can keep the smile on his face and in his eyes.

I don’t want to go into the contents of the book as it would spoil it for other readers, but this agonising memoir, part mystery, part tragedy, part history, is such a strong moving read I cannot recommend highly enough to those who like this genre.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2015 in Books, people, Review

 

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