sun 30/04/2017

World War Two

Their Finest review - undone by feeble female characterisation

Yet another excuse to snuggle down with some cosy wartime nostalgia, Their Finest is purportedly a tribute to women’s undervalued role in the British film industry. Unfortunately it comes over more blah than Blitz. Gemma Arterton plays Catrin Cole,...

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DVD: Slaughterhouse-Five

“I never saw anything like it,” declares Billy Pilgrim in wonderment. “It’s the Land of Oz.” He has just seen Dresden’s splendour from the train carriage into which he and other American prisoners of war are crammed en route to the city. They’ve...

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Love in Idleness, Menier Chocolate Factory

What's in a name? Terence Rattigan’s Love in Idleness is a reworking of his 1944 play Less Than Kind (never staged at the time, it was first produced just six years ago). It reached the London stage at the very end of the same year with the Lunts,...

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SS–GB, Series Finale, BBC One

In the end, SS-GB promised more than it could deliver, but it still left us with some memorable images (not least in the cleverly-crafted opening titles) and several excellent performances. The ending even dangled the faintest hint of a sequel,...

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DVD: The Spring River Flows East

There’s rich irony in the timelining of 1940s Chinese blockbuster The Spring River Flows East. Cai Chusheng and Zheng Junli’s melodrama dates its 14-year timespan – events unroll from 1931 to the end of the war in 1945 – with reference to the...

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CD: Vera Lynn - Vera Lynn 100

She hasn’t sung a note in a year or too and her regular appearances at veteran reunions have come to an end. In 2015 Dame Vera Lynn wasn’t well enough to attend the 70th anniversary celebration of VE Day. But she is still among us and on 20 March...

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Casablanca

You must remember this. It’s December 1941, the month of Pearl Harbour. Richard Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), an American, probably a Communist, who fought Franco in Spain and ran guns to Ethiopia when Mussolini invaded, has given up the fight against...

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Timeshift: Flights of Fancy - Pigeons and the British, BBC Four

Pigeons were described in this riveting programme as man’s best feathered friends, as well as an urban pest: the 35,000 of them that used to flock round Trafalgar Square deposited some 390 tons of unharvested guano – bird poo, in simpler words –...

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Hacksaw Ridge

After doing his time in the Hollywood wilderness, Mel Gibson is back with a bang – a cacophony of bangs, frankly – with Hacksaw Ridge. With six Oscar nominations including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Picture, it's enough to tempt a man to...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Anthropoid

Let’s explain the peculiar title first: Operation Anthropoid was the code name given by the Czech Resistance for the planned assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague during World War Two. The events have been portrayed on film before, a notable...

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The Halcyon, ITV

The most surprising thing about ITV's latest period drama is that they've scheduled it for Monday nights. Since you could soundbite it as a mash-up of Mr Selfridge and Downton Abbey, you'd have thought The Halcyon was a shoo-in for that peachy...

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Allied

While it makes for a moderately amusing evening out, this World War Two espionage-romance caper doesn't stand up to a lot of scrutiny (I'm trying to work out where they managed to find the "Best Film of the Year!" quote used in the TV ad). Stars...

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