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50 minutes ago, A Lark Ascending said:

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Grim, taught thriller set in Belfast as 'The Troubles' hit their first nasty peak. Viewed largely from the perspective of a rookie squaddy thrown into the mayhem, a victim of the internecine politics of the province and the mysterious undercover connections between the army and the various sectarian groups. Apart from an early scene where the RUC take apart a Catholic home the film didn't give much of an idea why the anti-British hostility was so high. 

that`s a good one ...

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14 hours ago, A Lark Ascending said:

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Grim, taught thriller set in Belfast as 'The Troubles' hit their first nasty peak. Viewed largely from the perspective of a rookie squaddy thrown into the mayhem, a victim of the internecine politics of the province and the mysterious undercover connections between the army and the various sectarian groups. Apart from an early scene where the RUC take apart a Catholic home the film didn't give much of an idea why the anti-British hostility was so high. 

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Dominic Sandbrook - Let Us Entertain You (BBC)

Sandbrook has written 4 excellent books on Britain from 1965 to the late 70s (well, 3 of them are excellent, I've still to read the fourth)...even though he shows his Tory inclinations! Manages to balance the political and economic complexities with cultural changes. 

A highly dubious thesis to this series - Britain lost its place as the workshop of the world and instead became the pre-eminent entertainer of the world!!! Erm, what about the USA (let alone the cultural preferences outside the Anglocentric world?)?

Nevertheless, an entertaining series so far (I'm two episodes in) - Sandbrook is always good on the continuities of history where most popular TV series stress the changes. Good second programme on the British entertainment industry's obsession with the aristocracy, public schools and the monarchy - I think he's dead right in his argument that all the 'rebellious' culture over the years has been co-opted by the establishment and used to further shore up its defences rather than being undermined by it.     

Vastly preferable to Dominic Sandbrook's books is David Kynaston's excellent 'Tales Of A New Jerusalem' (1945-1979) series which is up to about 1962 so far. Much more depth and insight, and although it has yet to reach the mid 60s it has all the signs of being the definitive work on modern British history.

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9 hours ago, Jazzjet said:

Vastly preferable to Dominic Sandbrook's books is David Kynaston's excellent 'Tales Of A New Jerusalem' (1945-1979) series which is up to about 1962 so far. Much more depth and insight, and although it has yet to reach the mid 60s it has all the signs of being the definitive work on modern British history.

I did start the first Kynaston about three years back but found it too detailed to hold my attention and gave up after 100 pages or so. I think they are writing for different audiences - Kynaston is more the academic, Sandbrook writes for the wider audience for popular history. I get the impression Sandbrook's real passion is popular culture.

Will hopefully have another crack at Kynaston now I've not got the distractions of a working life! 

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Really enjoyed this adventure yarn based around Melville's interviewing of an old whale captain prior to writing 'Moby Dick'. One of the reviews I read grumbled about the quality of the special effects but can't say they bothered me. Some of the shots were clearly Turner inspired.

Might now take another crack at Moby Dick....not to mention get out all those records of sea shanties and whaling songs! 

First time also I've invoked my senior citizen status for a cheaper ticket. The £2 saved almost paid for the car park. 

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Leningrad and the Orchestra That Defied Adolf Hitler (BBC2)

The story of Shostakovich's Seventh has been told many times in recent year in books and radio broadcasts. This 90 minute programme told you nothing new. But it's well worth watching for the film images and, above all, the testimony of a number of survivors who attended the first Leningrad performance. Incredibly moving as they recollect the horrors of the siege and the impact of hearing music in a situation where staying alive was the priority.

Two presenters wandering around in places, Amanda Vickery and Tom Service, neither TV naturals. The section where Service listened to a rather over-the-top singer, clearly very self-conscious about being filmed and then turned to the camera to make a pertinent point during an instrumental section, was particularly naff. 

Voice overs, voice overs BBC please; celebrity (or otherwise) presenters are a distraction. The most compelling parts were easily when the witnesses were allowed to talk into the camera with no flipping over to the interviewer.  

Edited by A Lark Ascending
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2 hours ago, erwbol said:

I'm watching this now. Thanks for the tip. 

At least Russian speakers are subtitled, because those kind of voice overs are infuriating.

Wasn't this once a film? Or am I confused? I remember seeing a film in the 80s about this symphony and his sly defiance of the Russian regime.

Edited by fasstrack
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27 minutes ago, erwbol said:

I'm going to start that tonight. Apparently it's about Operation Abel Archer, something I knew nothing about until I stumbled on it while teaching the Cold War. Major misinterpretation of a military exercise that had both sides in the Cold War on the highest alert...and we were totally unaware. Wish I'd asked by father about it - he was in the military in Germany at the time and might have known something. 

17 minutes ago, fasstrack said:

Wasn't this once a film? Or am I confused? I remember seeing a film in the 80s about this symphony and his sly defiance of the Russian regime.

You might be thinking of:

Testimony Poster

Tony Palmer's film - it's a film about his wider life. The new BBC programme is specifically about the Leningrad Symphony and the siege of Leningrad.  

**********************

Watched the first of the new 'Endeavour' series last night (Morse prequel). As usual, convoluted and very nostalgic but a nice couple of hours. 

Edited by A Lark Ascending
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13 minutes ago, A Lark Ascending said:

I'm going to start that tonight. Apparently it's about Operation Abel Archer, something I knew nothing about until I stumbled on it while teaching the Cold War. Major misinterpretation of a military exercise that had both sides in the Cold War on the highest alert...and we were totally unaware. Wish I'd asked by father about it - he was in the military in Germany at the time and might have known something. 

You might be thinking of:

Testimony Poster

Tony Palmer's film - it's a film about his wider life. The new BBC programme is specifically about the Leningrad Symphony and the siege of Leningrad.  

That's it, Testimony. Thanks! (It had a performance of the Leningrad Symphony featured, hence my confusion).

Edited by fasstrack
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A couple of 'pleasant entertainment but not exactly classics':

Deutschland 83

Enjoyed the first episode but just found the ease with which they got the hero into the top general's office and then the lax security as they go to lunch a bit unconvincing. 

War and Peace (new BBC production in the Sunday night frilly costume slot) 

I read this on trains whilst going for job interviews in 1977 and it left a powerful impression. Good to be reminded of the story. But, as many reviews have pointed out, it's more than a bit Downton Abbey. Trying to do it in 6 episodes was never going to produce a TV classic.  

My abiding memory of the book was Tolstoy's brilliant evocation of the utter confusion of battle and the way that those in command were constantly lost in the fog of war. The first battle scene certainly didn't convey that - just a frightened rooky getting out by the skin of his teeth (a pretty standard scene in war films).

Edited by A Lark Ascending
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Britain's Outlaws: Highwaymen, Pirates and Rogues

Nice little 3 part series about naughty 17th/18thC boys (and a few gals). Willis is best known as a naval historian - his book on the 'The Fighting Temeraire' is a fantastic read. He turned up at the Sidmouth Folk Festival last year playing a coup[le of songs with Martha Tilston and Jim Causley and they both appear here illustrating the broadside ballads that helped turn the real life villains into myths.

All the usual dressing up and jumping around in front of the camera in locations around the world. Must be hugely expensive to make programmes like this. Wonder how they recoup their costs.  

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On 4 January 2016 at 6:04 PM, A Lark Ascending said:

I'm going to start that tonight. Apparently it's about Operation Abel Archer, something I knew nothing about until I stumbled on it while teaching the Cold War. Major misinterpretation of a military exercise that had both sides in the Cold War on the highest alert...and we were totally unaware. Wish I'd asked by father about it - he was in the military in Germany at the time and might have known something. 

You might be thinking of:

Testimony Poster

Tony Palmer's film - it's a film about his wider life. The new BBC programme is specifically about the Leningrad Symphony and the siege of Leningrad.  

**********************

Watched the first of the new 'Endeavour' series last night (Morse prequel). As usual, convoluted and very nostalgic but a nice couple of hours. 

'Exercise Able Archer' - isn't that the one where paranoid commies (Andropov and co) totally misinterpreted a routine NATO exercise as evidence of war preparations - until someone got on the phone to calm them down and put them right.

Interesting program - just working my way through it. They overdo it a we bit with the 'Nena' music though.

Edited by sidewinder
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55 minutes ago, sidewinder said:

'Exercise Able Archer' - isn't that the one where paranoid commies (Andropov and co) totally misinterpreted a routine NATO exercise as evidence of war preparations - until someone got on the phone to calm them down and put them right.

Interesting program - just working my way through it. They overdo it a we bit with the 'Nena' music though.

That's the one. 

Tense year, 1983. Abel Archer, the Korean Airliner shot down, cruise missiles in Europe and a very old bunch running Russia. And yet a year later everything started to change. 

Can't remember if it was '83 or '84 when that film 'Threads' went out on TV about Sheffield in a nuclear attack. Gave me nightmares. I saw it again about 15 years ago and it looked much more like a 70s Dr. Who episode.  

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Arne Dahl second series

Was initially a bit unsure about this series - seemed a bit like a group of superheroes with special (investigative) powers. But it grew on me. Went out in the UK last October/November but I've eeked them out and finished last night. Not as all-involving as The Killing or The Bridge but very good TV nonetheless. 

My Swedish is no better, however. 

Edited by A Lark Ascending
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9 hours ago, A Lark Ascending said:

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Arne Dahl second series

Was initially a bit unsure about this series - seemed a bit like a group of superheroes with special (investigative) powers. But it grew on me. Went out in the UK last October/November but I've eeked them out and finished last night. Not as all-involving as The Killing or The Bridge but very good TV nonetheless. 

My Swedish is no better, however. 

I quite like Arne Dahl. Halfway through the second series but still to catch up with the first. I agree, not as gripping as The Bridge or The Killing. There was another series either just before or after Arne Dahl was broadcast here - Beck. Downbeat (as usual) but good stories and characterisations. I enjoyed it more than Arne Dahl. 

The thing with these Swedish series is that you can't really temporarily switch off or catch up with you emails etc as you'll end up lost in just a few minutes. 

There's a new series on More 4 tonight (2200 UK time) called 'Spin' which seems to be from the same team as the excellent French series, 'Spiral'.

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On 1/8/2016 at 6:02 PM, Jazzjet said:

There's a new series on More 4 tonight (2200 UK time) called 'Spin' which seems to be from the same team as the excellent French series, 'Spiral'.

Did you watch it? I saw it advertised and meant to set the recorder but forget. I'll have to see if it's on one of the replayers. 

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30 minutes ago, jazzbo said:

Shetland, episode 1

Worth watching if only for the dreadful weather (assuming you mean the police series set in, well, Shetland). 

Third series starts here this Friday. I only caught up with it on rented DVD but really liked it. Didn't get a lot of attention here; but must have got enough to get commissioned for a third series. 

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