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All reviews - Movies (45) - TV Shows (4) - Books (8) - Music (1) - Games (2)

Pure Genius

Posted : 5 years, 10 months ago on 11 September 2012 01:42 (A review of People Like Us)

This is one of the funniest mockumentaries of the deadpan documentary format I have ever seen. As an avid fan of Spinal Tap I'll say that they have many common elements - awkward silences after thoughtless speech which is taken the wrong way by the interviewee, misunderstandings of ineptly phrased questions and ludicrous situations that are rooted in everyday life.

It's important to listen carefully to the speech to get the densely packed humour - not a single word is superfluous - but it soon becomes a habit and a delight. If you can find the original radio series (which I heard first) from which this TV version was derived, I highly recommend it. All you lose are the visual gags and there are very few of them because the genius is in the writing and delivery.

This is a real gem and a great example of the comedy in life itself. Once you've seen/heard this you may, like me, start to notice the natural comedy in life - but beware laughing too hard when you catch it happening around you or you may get some odd/stony looks, at the very least.

I still get a headache from laughing at the scene where Roy Mallard (Chris Langham) is trying to explain the state of his clothing (which is slowly dissolving from spilled developing fluid) to a gallery owner:
Mallard: "I don't normally look like this only I dropped some acid earlier."
Owner: (disgustedly) "Yes, well I hope it was worth it."

Brilliant. (Also, if you like radio shows, look for The Sunday Format - by the same team.)

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A solid thriller

Posted : 5 years, 10 months ago on 11 September 2012 02:52 (A review of Copycat (1995))

An atmospheric thriller with good pace and balance the story unfolds smoothly. The computer sequences date the film but solid performances by Weaver, Hunter, Mulroney and Connick Jr give this film a slightly Silence of the Lambs feel which I suspect is not accidental.

Even though we're privy to much of what is going on and there are few surprises the film manages to maintain its suspense throughout. Since Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver) is the focus of the copycat killer, logically her agorophobic fortress becomes the focus of his efforts to terrorise her. Hudson appears to be addicted to both antidepressant and/or anxiolytic medication which she (unwisely) washes down with fair quantities of brandy. The net effect of this is that she has believable lapses in the confidence of her own memory which is an intelligent plot device to lend some credibility to the final sequences.

Holly Hunter performs very well, as Monahan she is an alluring character with her compact feisty frame, large brown eyes and softly spoken but precisely measured script delivery. Quite a package.

Definitely worth seeing if you like thrillers.

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Mostly drivel

Posted : 5 years, 10 months ago on 10 September 2012 12:47 (A review of Inglourious Basterds)

I can't understand the high-rating this film seems to have garnered. I like films with a plot, with characters that are even remotely human and with a heart. The first 20 minutes actually looked promising but that still left 2 hours and 13 minutes to fill and there were numerous times when I wanted to throw things at the screen as Tarantino made an obvious point with infuriating glaciality. This film is, as so many of Tarantino's films are, slices of questionable dialogue between semi-drawn characters then pointlessly sandwiched between fatuous bursts of extreme violence and gore. Cartoonish to the extreme with some of the most half-witted half-formed characters I've ever seen in film. Pitt should have stayed home instead of trying to frown his eyebrows off his head with the most unbelievable drawling accent. Waltz plays his role very well demonstrating range and a proficiency with languages that is atypical of Hollywood's dumb-it-down rule but his script shows signs of insanity towards the end. Some of the visuals are cleverly composed and a handful of the actors turn in good performances but for all that, there's no message in this film and nothing to learn. I'll avoid his work from now on.

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Excellent storytelling

Posted : 5 years, 10 months ago on 3 September 2012 04:42 (A review of Avalon)

I was skeptical when this was recommended by an acquaintance with very eclectic tastes but it was good advice.

It is well crafted and draws the viewer into several assumptive positions (if you're that kind of person) which are kindly refuted as it begins to deploy its real payload. The washed-out first part seems to hint at the emptiness and purposelessness of the initial narrative yet alludes to a richer and more valuable further realm in the way we see our lives at certain times.

My take is that it is about nobility, of spirit, of action and of choice. Our immersion into reality is a choice; we can change it and view things through any shaped lens, or no lens at all. There seems to be no love in the film yet it is hinted at by the loyalty and forgiveness of Ash for a 'crime' she did not commit but remained silent about.

The ending was a very well balanced denoument for the story. Really worth seeing and highly recommended.

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Tough to like

Posted : 5 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2012 02:10 (A review of The Hotel New Hampshire)

The story and characters behind this film are so laden with idiosyncrasies that they took me way out of my comfort zone. I don't mind when films do that but this did it in a way that was deeply depressing. Incest, gang-rape (of Jodie, naturally), homophobia, voyeurism and an assortment of people so stangely matched as to give the impression that it's actually several stories woven together. I tried hard to get a positive out of this film and simply couldn't manage it. The film begins, plays for a while and then stops at, possibly, the n-thousandth word because, apparently, in New Hampshire (or Bartledan) that's how long scripts are.

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Napoleon and Samantha review

Posted : 5 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2012 01:58 (A review of Napoleon and Samantha)

Disney all over. The simple plot aided and abetted by very soft-pedalled disapprobation from Danny (Michael Douglas) "Mark is unwell and needs to go to a hospital" plays well for children although such a subject would not pass muster nowadays. Particularly since Major the lion got the fidgies and carried Jodie off during filming leaving her with some physical scars. Johnny Whitaker and Jodie Foster made a cute pair, Whitaker showing particular talent.

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Made for TV and no surprise

Posted : 5 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2012 01:47 (A review of Svengali)

For a man who professes that the bond between teacher and pupil is a sacred trust, Anton Bosnyak (Peter O'Toole) clearly doesn't much listen to himself or he would have kept the amorous Zoe (Jodie Foster) at arm's length. But hey, he's just flesh and blood, somewhat obsessed with himself and Zoe is very easy on the eye. At that stage, the film ceases to have a real point since the Great Artist can't be trusted to keep his knobbly fingers to himself, I found myself wondering what else would be out of kilter.

Costume for one. Zoe's outfits were often chic and showed a taste (and budget) that was too advanced for her background and completely at odds with the dress sense of her contemporaries. But with a plethora of cooks spoiling the broth it becomes a futile exercise to find a solid foundation in this.

This rather disappointing film doesn't really go anywhere useful and the only memorable scene was Zoe singing "One Dream at a Time" with admirable courage if not deftness - she does have a lovely voice even though it is not well trained to sing. A cameo from Holly Hunter made me smile.

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Blood of Others review

Posted : 5 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2012 12:40 (A review of Blood of Others)

Some of the cinematography and location shots in this are easy on the eye but for the most part it's a poorly balanced and choppy abbreviation of Simone de Beauvoir's acclaimed book.

The dialogue is in English when French is the only logical choice (some of us don't mind reading subtitles and getting free language lessons) and at least one of the players could have spoken her lines unassisted. Instead we hear "geddowdahere" from her which was cringeworthy.

The sound quality is very variable with outdoor scenes that sound like they're spoken in a carpeted room. Tsk. Bergman (Sam Neill) oscillated between overdone and sinisterly intense as he obsessed over (the vacuuously self-obsessed) Hélène (Jodie Foster) which was probably truly creepy for her.

The ending is plain annoying.

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Little Man Tate review

Posted : 5 years, 10 months ago on 29 August 2012 12:11 (A review of Little Man Tate)

This is an odd little film about how we relate on different levels within a family that might seem strange to outsiders. A gifted child, Fred Tate (Adam Hann-Byrd) has some social difficulties mainly because he understands things that a child normally does not. His pragmatic mother Dede (Jodie Foster) is torn between wanting his gifts to develop and not making him feel isolated or strange. As it turns out, Fred cares less about this than Dede does and helps her understand why it's not important what others think of us, particularly when their opinions are rooted in ignorance. It reminds me of a quote made by Jodie: "Normal is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from." Methinks that would be a good tagline for the film.

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Wistful & melancholy

Posted : 5 years, 10 months ago on 26 August 2012 12:21 (A review of Stealing Home)

I enjoyed this film more than I expected to because Mark Harmon was better than I anticipated. The soundtrack is nostalgic and the flashbacks are well constructed. The film struggles a little towards the end but the scene of Katie (Jodie Foster) lying in the hammock looking wistfully out to sea lingers on the retina and mind when I close my eyes.

It's quite a sad film, Katie's capriciousness would never allow her to settle down with a suitable man and that meant only one thing ultimately for her; heartbreak. Just like in life; the dynamic component needs a stable support or it spins itself apart and self-destructs.

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