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The King's Speech
The King's Speech
DVD ~ Colin Firth
Price: $5.99
188 used & new from $0.01

346 of 369 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enthralling journey which is heart-warming, humorous and genuinely sincere.**** 1/2, December 18, 2010
This review is from: The King's Speech (DVD)
There always seems to come a time in every British actors career where they must play the role of a historical British monarch. Riding on the success of his career defining performance in "A Single Man" and sampling the glory of Best Actor nominations across the award circuits, Colin Firth comes storming back with another film, determined, this time, to take the all the prizes with him too. But is "The King's Speech" worth its pre-Oscar hype?
Set across the years between the First and Second World War, "The King's Speech" concentrates on the rise of King George VI (Firth) and his personal woes, including his infamous stammer and disdain for public speaking. Obviously being royalty, having an ability to engage the public in moving and inspirational speeches tends to be a necessity of the job. In attempting to overcome this disability, he's entrusted in the care of the eccentric and flamboyant speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).
Over the course of the film, the two men of distinctly different social classes come to blows but ultimately forge a friendship which will last a lifetime.
Colin Firth's portrayal of George VI (or simply Bertie to his family and friends) was a fascinating insight into the king's troubled personal life. His tragic inability to speak, both in public and to his family, was also tender and, in a way, heart-warmingly humbling.
While Firth will deservedly get the plaudits for his regal starring role, it was Geoffrey Rush's witty, genuine, off-the-wall performance as Logue which personally blew me away, with immense comic timing and inability to be overwhelmed while in the presence of his most prestigious client.
The supporting cast was littered with enough real quality to make any award body take notice, and make most audiences marvel in delight.
The graceful and articulate Helen Bonham Carter gives a honest and loving performance as the late Queen Mother, Elizabeth.
Michael Gambon is sharp and somewhat intimidating as Bertie's father, King George V. Guy Pearce is arrogantly brilliant as Firth's brother and predecessor, King Edward VIII.
While the excellent Timothy Spall shone once again, in his second portrayal as the great Winston Churchill (his first was in October's god awful stop animation, Jackboots on Whitehall). It was also a pleasure to see the classy Jennifer Ehle - who starred opposite Firth in, perhaps, his most famous role as Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice - as Lionel's wife.
Hooper should also be credited for making a visually engaging period drama, which never once felt tired or dull on the eyes, as a lot of these quintessentially British affairs can so often become.
The film's themes are also an uplifting and enjoyable treat for all; a story of friendship between essentially a prince and a pauper, a man's journey to overcome his own personal adversaries and become the king he was born to be.
Yes we won't lie, this isn't original by any means: these are classic tried and tested formulas that transcends cinema of the ages - but rarely to this level of detail and panache.
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush's performances make "The King's Speech" an enthralling journey which is heart-warming, humorous and genuinely sincere.
Highly recommended.
Andrew Moore
**** 1/2
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2011 1:50 PM PDT

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26 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Their achievements are not without merit in any way and the Brits award is a clear proof., April 21, 2009
This review is from: Yes (Audio CD)
They had theit hits in the 80s, when everything was pretty much a novelty. The Pet Shop Boys added to that curio-laden era.
They've never been away, but the last couple of albums never seemed to have that spark that earlier material seemed to have.
To some people, the duo's last studio release "Fundamental" suffered slightly due to political subject matter.
Having such a reputation as great musicians, it allows the Pet Shop Boys to call upon other musical geniuses to work on their album. Johnny Marr who was in a band called the Smiths was called in to work his magic on guitar arrangements. Owen Pallett, who is well known amongst Arcade Fire fans, also lends a hand to work on various string sections. And Philip Oakey ( Human League) helps the proceedings as well.
For their 10th outing, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have hooked up with hitmaking production team Xenomania in an attempt to return to core values and reaffirm their pop relevance.
Thankfully, collaborating with Xenomania, the pop production house behind hits from Girls Aloud and Alesha Dixon, hasn't goaded the Pets into trying anything undignified. "Yes" sounds clean, fresh and contemporary.
It all starts promisingly: "All Over The World" samples a nutcracking snatch of Tchaikovsky to deliver a grand, mordant hymn to global pop songs and everyday desires.
But the heart of the album lies in more low-key numbers such as the slightly delirious "Pandemonium", "King Of Rome", an exquisite tale of post-break-up loneliness, and the tortured melody of "Legacy", inspired by Tony Blair, which recall the windblown balladry of 1990's "Behaviour".
Maybe the characteristically titled "The Way It Used To Be" - is about a once brilliant love that disintegrates over time - is one of the best thing here, defiantly struggling against easy nostalgia, along with the gorgeous, string-filled 1960s fantasy which is "Beautiful People" with its flamboyant Bacharach and David-like stylings.
It's a bunch of joyous pop songs. The real pop feasts are in the first half of the album . Although they are well received, nothing major ever surfaced to get people excited like the first single "Love Etc." Complete with a mesmerising animated video, it caught the balance perfectly of synth pop without being too sickly sweet.
"Yes" isn't perfect. "Does the union of Pet Shop Boys and Xenomania work as well on record as it does on paper? Are the middle-aged Tennant and Lowe, now in their 25th year as a hit-making duo, relevant in today's musical landscape? Will lapsed fans who enjoyed their triumphant performance at last month's Brit Awards find plenty to enjoy here? For the answer to all those questions, you need only glance at the album cover". - Nick Levine.
If "Yes" doesn't do well, there can be no such excuses. The timing couldn't be better for a Pet Shop Boys comeback, after all - synthpop is, inescapably, the sound of 2009.
Some people may say, at the end of the listening, that the CD is a little too predictable and boring, and that it's just their past legacy that continually keeps their fan-dom alive.
Well, certainly their achievements are not without merit in any way and the recent Brits award is a clear proof.

Easy Come, Easy Go
Easy Come, Easy Go
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ten vintage gems for music lovers., January 17, 2009
This review is from: Easy Come, Easy Go (Audio CD)
Marianne Faithfull has been a recording artist for four decades, since being discovered by Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham.
"Easy come easy go is her 22nd album, a collection of covers and songs written by others.
If you know M.F.' s work you are in for a treat not because you are about to hear another "Broken English", "Strange Weather" or "Before The Poison" (her three most acclaimed albums) but because you are about to be set on a sonic adventure that still carries Marianne's brand.
There are hooks, there are twists and they are grounded by her voice which is like a haunting, raspy wail that sustains the record.
The production is simple, unadorned, perfect for the songs. The arrangements are sparse, but extremely subtle and well conceived. Hardly ever do you hear an album where you feel like every note and drum beat has been placed exactly where it needs to go, with nothing extra and nothing left out.
All the songs have been chosen by Marianne and her long time friend and producer Hal Willner, according to her sensibilities and affinities, both musically and emotionally, and range from Billie Holiday's "Solitude" to "The Crane Wife 3" by current band The Decemberists.
Other tracks are "Sing Me Back Home" by Merle Haggard, "Children of Stone" by Espers, the title track "Easy Come, Easy Go Blues" by Bessie Smith, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles "Ooh Baby Baby" and Dolly Parton's "Down from Dover".
They all hint at an evolution of an artist who is looking outside the comfort zone and pushes beyond the boundaries.
As usual, Marianne's interpretations are darkly poetic, her singing just cutting to the marrow of the stories she tells. The theme running through most of these songs is loneliness and isolation, and folk instrumentation gives the songs a jazzy/folksy feel.
She is supported by a bunch of superb guest stars: Keith Richards appears on the aforementioned "Sing Me Back Home" and Antony Hegarty on "Ooh Baby Baby". Another guest appearance on the album comes from Rufus Wainwright who contributes vocals to the powerful "Children of Stone".
There's plenty of great guitar playng by free jazz virtuoso Marc Ribot, Warren Ellis plays his magic violin on three songs, and Nick Cave lends some vocals to "The Crane Wife 3". Sean Lennon and Teddy Thompson play guitar on a couple of the tracks, and Chan Marshall of Cat Power harmonizes on "Hold On, Hold On".
Those who seek a more pop-y, light-hearted, immediately consumable affair should pass on this album, for that is not its aim. However those who enjoy a little puzzle, a little intimacy, a little allegory and critical listen will find that this album reveals itself beautifully.
It hints at the joy of evolution and, like Marianne herself suggests, it's not a somber, gloomy record, but a record that revels in the dark. And invites you to enjoy the dark with it.
For those who are willing to work with the album and give it a critical listening, the album offers rewards especially on songs like "Solitude", "In Germany, Before the War", " Easy Come, Easy Go", "Oh Oh Baby" and "Sing Me Back Home"
It's clear, especially on repeated listenings, that this is a great album: original,emotional and full of gravity,
It is one of the most sensitive and spontaneous-sounding of Faithfull's recordings, with a disciplined but freewheeling sense of adventurous interaction that is sometimes missing on her more carefully structured earlier projects.
Warmly recommended.
Broken English
Strange Weather
20th Century Blues
Before the Poison
Release the Stars
A Piece of What You Need
The Crying Light
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2010 12:31 PM PDT

Some Other Time
Some Other Time
Price: $8.99
55 used & new from $0.01

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of her best records to date., February 26, 2008
This review is from: Some Other Time (Audio CD)
This is an album to savour for jazz enthusiasts, given that it showcases some popular jazz songs Diane grew up listening to.
It's clear from the outset that Diane Schuur is enjoying the opportunity to revisit such past favourites and there's a warmth and glow to many of the tracks that's difficult to resist - especially in the best known material.
This is a celebration of the jazz form that's equally capable of appealing to long-term fans of the genre as it is to newcomers. Hence, timeless tracks by George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein are delivered with such verve and panache that you'll probably find your head nodding along in appreciation in spite of yourself.
Diane brings maturity, class and no considerable amount of good humour to most of the recordings and ensures that the mix is reflective of the genre as a whole, rather than just the obvious classics.
Diane Schuur's new contribution to the ever-growing number of albums devoted to the Great American Songbook is mostly notable for what it lacks: vocal fireworks.
She handles the challenging material with grace, showcasing her impressive abilities, but never at the expense of the melody.
Her voice is pure, strong and flexible, her band,­ centred on the versatile piano of Randy Porter, the muscular but sensitive bass playing of Scott Steed, the intelligently judged guitar of Dan Balmer, plus Reggie Jackson on drums, ­is discreet and sensitive but vigorous and exuberant where appropriate, and the songs constitute Diane's one of strongest recorded set to date.
Needless to say, "Some Other Time" (her Concord Jazz debut) shines brightest when operating on most familiar territory.
It is an engaging listen and provides also perfect laidback Sunday afternoon listening even for people who wouldn't otherwise consider the genre.
Standout tracks : "September in the Rain", which Schuur made when she was 10 years old and a voice-and-guitar arrangement of "Danny Boy".

10 used & new from $11.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Buena Vista....Sensuous, fresh, modern..., June 5, 2007
This review is from: Zamazu (Audio CD)
Fresh from producing, arranging and playing on Ferrer's posthumously released album of boleros Mi Sueño, Fonseca now delivers his fourth album, "Zamazu", a disc as innovative and exciting as "Mi Sueño" is dreamy and traditional.

With Fonseca posed, Justin Timberlake-style, on the cover in leather Byblos hat and black Agnès B coat (the Parisian designer became his self-appointed stylist after being blown away by a concert in France), "Zamazu" redefines Latin jazz with 14 wide-ranging but eminently spiritual pieces recorded in Havana and Brazil.

Most are original compositions: paeans to family, friends and Santeria, the Afro-Cuban religion that merges Catholicism and African beliefs and informs Fonseca's life. All are uplifting and beautiful, modern and outward-looking.

As a legacy of his international travels with Ferrer, "Zamazu" embraces sounds from elsewhere, feeding flamenco, Celtic or North African influences into a fluid and compelling personal style.

Buena Vista were keepers of the soundtrack to a long-isolated country and were celebrated for their traditionalism.

But Roberto Fonseca could pull up a piano stool at a jazz club anywhere in the world and trounce the competition with his gift for melody, virtuosity, invention.

Bird of Music
Bird of Music
Price: $13.79
32 used & new from $0.39

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting., May 15, 2007
This review is from: Bird of Music (Audio CD)
Looking as if they've just stepped off the set of Sofia Coppola's "Virgin Suicides", "Au Revoir Simone" are three Slimcea girls who rejoice in Sunsilk hair and Laura Ashley frocks.

The trio share keyboard duties and play them in the tentative manner of a young child reading Braille.

Their songs have a twisted charm that's half cute and half disturbing and also strangely catchy.

Occasionally, as on the wondrous sunshine pop of "The Lucky One" and "Fallen Snow", they hit on the kind of blissful marriage of pop, harmony and weirdness that worked so well for Polyphonic Spree.

Elsewhere they excel in retro electro - kind of 60s MOR with a Casio beat.

As a record, it's much more approachable than their debut album, "Verses of Comfort, Assurance and Salvation".

You'll either fall in love with "The Bird Of Music"or feel queasy - or quite possibly both.

Time and Time Again
Time and Time Again
Price: $14.99
43 used & new from $4.73

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational three-way music-making ., April 3, 2007
This review is from: Time and Time Again (Audio CD)
Paul Motian once again teams up with guitarist Bill Frisell and tenor saxophonist, Joe Lovano.
Each of these artists have done very well on their own, but their combined force is, as the platitude goes, far greater than the sum of its parts.
There's a genuine sense of luxuriousness to "Time And Time Again".
Whether it be the muted blue textures of Frisell's sensitive guitar passages or the sheer effervescent sparkle of Motian's cymbals, there's an uncommon richness of atmosphere to this recording.
Although predominantly made up of original compositions by Motian himself, the trio tackle a couple of standards in the shape of Rogers & Hammerstein's "This Nearly Was Mine" and Thelonious Monk's "Light Blue" and and Lovano's drifting "Party Line" to particularly great effect.
Throughout the album the mutual respect between these three players is abundantly evident, with no one voice intruding upon another.
Motian's own performance, in particular, remains remarkably accommodating to his fellow performers, allowing the compositions themselves to take centre stage.

Modern Romance
Modern Romance
51 used & new from $0.01

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Distinctive grooves., March 7, 2007
This review is from: Modern Romance (Audio CD)
The daughter of notable jazz musicians -- pianist Smith Dobson and singer Gail Dobson -- Sasha Dobson has the genes and a strong musical foundation to make powerful, uplifting music.

She carries on in the jazz tradition of past greats like Ella Fitzgerald, with a sultry voice and extensive performance experience, but she remains an unconventional performer. Now 26, Dobson has been performing professionally since she was 16, in the process crafting a unique fusion of Brazilian and American jazz.

With 10 years of professional experience under her belt -- she's long performed with the Dobson Family Band and the Chris Byars Octet -- Dobson likely has amazing success ahead of her.

"Modern Romance", Dobson's new album, is a fine collection of originals and genre-bending covers of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Modern Romance" and Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo".

Like many young jazz singers nowadays, Sasha is trying for a mellow pop-jazz groove à la Norah Jones.

Her plangent, almost vibrato-free voice rides over a mélange of island rhythms, bossa nova and folky acoustics, mostly in new songs she has co-written. They go down as easily as frozen margaritas, never more beguilingly than when she slips in scat syllables like "dit-doo, die-yah-da-doo" in 'Four Leaf Clover', or simply "ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh" in 'Cold to Colder'.

Listen to this very nice album and enjoy.

Turned to Blue
Turned to Blue
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Price: $7.63
59 used & new from $0.01

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Timeless., March 7, 2007
This review is from: Turned to Blue (Audio CD)
"Turned to Blue" puts Nancy Wilson into situations she can handle extremely well.

She is surrounded by jazz stars such as sax players Bob Mintzer, Jimmy Heath and James Moody, flutist Hubert Laws and bassist John Clayton.

She sings with small groups and big bands featuring arrangements by Pittsburgh's John Wilson and Jay Ashby.

The nature of the songs range from the soft jazz of "Knitting Class" to the swinger of "Taking a Chance on Love" and sad blues of "Just Once." All of the songs show Wilson's marvelous talent as she cruises through the title cut and other pieces such as "This Is All I Ask" and "Old Folks".

The years, nearly 70 of them, don't seem to wear on her voice at all.

She is a timeless, ageless, beautiful soul.

Just Feels Right
Just Feels Right
33 used & new from $5.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Soft touch, serious goooves., March 7, 2007
This review is from: Just Feels Right (Audio CD)
Being that this is his 4th album and the fact that he has toured with the likes of Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Tower of Power (one of my all-time favorites), Richard Marx and Huey Lewis, Steven Eugene Grove, better known as Euge Groove, has been making noise on the scene for a minute. His latest effort, "Just Feels Right", will be one those CD's that you rotate from the car to the bedroom!

It's Euge's strongest album to date with relaxed funky grooves like 'Get Em Goin', the slower 'Chillaxin' and the heavier 'Straight Up'.

Peter White adds his distinctive acoustic guitar to the easy going "This Must Be For Real".

Recorded using real drums/bass, this CD harks backs to its Jazz Funk inspiration - and the year 1976.The groove is the key to the whole, with a mix of funk, smooth jazz, and what almost sounds like quiet storm popping in from time to time.

Whether you're cruising the FDR Drive, the PCH or down 20 West to B'ham, this is the perfect music vehicle to get you to your destination. From 'Ballerina Girl' and '' to Euge's interpretation of 'Just My Imagination', he will have you in serious groove.

Then, to create a nice bedroom mood, lay back to either the title track, 'This Must Be For Real', '12:08 AM' or 'Chillaxin'' (a love-making song if there ever was one) and the night (or day) will be complete. Seemingly reminiscent of many of his contemporaries (see Kirk Whalum, Boney James, Steve Cole, Joshua Redman, etc.), Euge is in some great company, yet forges a sound all his own that helps him to stand apart. For all the grown folks, this will also be a good choice for your parties!

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