Afghanistan: The Great Game DVD

Short heading: Hugely informative & very topical

Rating: 5 out of 5

Rudyard Kipling, the great British poet & novelist, introduced this extant term into mainstream consciousness. It referred to the strategic rivalry & conflict between the British & the Russian Empires for supremacy in Central Asia.

In comparing three “invasions” of Afghanistan viz the British in mid-19th century, the Russians in the 1978 & the Americans in 2001, Rory Stewart, the producer is guilty of disambiguation. Strictly speaking only the initial British forays into Afghanistan fall within the accepted definition of the Great Game.

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The Men who Built America – DVD

The chronicle of the rise of the Titans who built the key pillars of Industrial America

Rating: 5 out of 5

This History Channel documentary deals with the key individuals who single-handedly built the key pillars of Industrial America – steel, railroads, oil, finance & ultimately the motor car.

Prior to their rise, America which was recovering from the devastating effects of Civil War, was still not industrialised but within 30 years of unbridled capitalism, was converted into a worldwide power house & incipient super power.

In spite of their reputations as the poster children of uncaring capitalism, the motto should read “honour to whom honour is due”. Not to be held in thrall but rather as an acknowledgement of their achievements while recognizing their frailties. This quintet comprised Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, JP Morgan & Ford. Their signature trait was an intense focus

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Patton [The Movie]

Summation: Unrealistic battle scenes using non-period weapons

Rating: 3 out of 5

If there is one thing I cannot abide about historical re-enactments is when they are phoney. In this case they were phoney in every sense of the word from the use of the same non-period tanks to represent both the German & the American tanks. Furthermore the battle drills of the Germans in their attack on the Americans in Tunisia displayed an amateurish attempt at non-martial tactics. Underwhelming & unconvincing.

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Zero Dark Thirty

Summation: Graphic but realistic depiction of what it took to find Osama bin-Laden

Rating: 5 out of 5

Doubtless there will be many more movies of this genre but the graphic scenes of torture & the female operative’s – Jessica Chastain’s – first exposure to the horrors of torture will always be etched on my mind.


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Wild Africa in 3D DVD

Summation: Mediocre uninspiring production

Rating: 2 out of 5

Compared with a BBC Natural History production this is a damp squib, a colourless uninspiring copy. Even the 3D effects appear to be bland.

Do not waste your money on this Blu-ray. Rather purchase Africa by the BBC to view how natural history documentaries should be made.



Cirque du Soleil’s “Worlds Away” in 3D

Summation: A thoroughly enjoyable surreal fantasy

Rating: 5 out of 5

This video does not contain a plot as such which comprises a series of exuberant & dare-devilish stunts by the well-known Cirque du Soleil. There is a connecting theme, a forlorn maiden in search of her true love. This provides the continuity.

Being a movie instead of a live performance, it has allowed the creators the luxury of lush extravagant sets. Viewed in 3D, this results in an ephemeral otherworldly feel about it.

As can be expected the acrobatic acts are stunning & timed to perfection.

The production is a surreal transcendental fantasy where one should just float along in the extravagance of the production.



The Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut

Summation:  The Engrossing Saga of a Reluctant & Unlikely Crusader

Rating: 5 out of 5

It was mere happenstance that I ordered the Director’s Cut rather than the Cinema Release Version. It is a stunning period epic bringing to life the Crusades told through a blacksmith – Balian – as portrayed by Orlando Bloom – who unbeknown to him is the son of a Knight. “Convinced” to join the Crusades to escape justice after killing the local Priest, who we later learn, is his brother. Unfortunately his father dies en route at Messina in Sicily from wounds sustained preventing the arrest of his son. Cast as a sullen person either due to the script writer’s lack of character portrayal ability or due to casting him as being initially distraught due to the death of his wife & child or alternatively being out of his depth in a strange new land with strange new values.

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Take these Men by Cyril Joly

Summation: A vivid evocation & excellent cupola eye view of the armoured battles of the Desert war from 1940 to 1943.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Even though this is written as a work of fiction, the author based it 100% on fact. Presumably the main reason for this decision, I believe, was to protect his incompetent subordinates & fellow officers.

Unlike most of the other soldiers in the to and fro desert war, Cyril Joly served with the Armoured Corps throughout this part of the war. Unlike the other theatres of war, the desert was eminently suitable for armoured warfare. Without the distractions of civilisation such as towns & people, the true potential of armoured vehicles was unleashed.

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Challenging Beliefs – Memoirs of a Career by Tim Noakes

Summation: A Thoughtful Rebuttal of Medical Orthodoxy & Prevailing Wisdom

Rating: 5 out of 5

All serious runners have made an acquaintance with Tim Noake’s opus magnum, The Lore of Running albeit fleetingly. But what one is not aware of is that Time Noake is more than merely a writer on running propounding the sage & epiphanous thoughts of the greats whether as runners or as scientists. Instead Tim Noake’s must surely rank as one of the giants of Medical Exercise Research on a par with the best in the world. As well as being co-founder of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, he is also a world renowned researcher in his own right.

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