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London Orbital (2002)

6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 45 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 1 critic

A filmmaker sets out to make a voyage of discovery on London's orbital motorway, the M25. He enlists the help of several others to film the motorway from several points, drive endlessly ... See full summary »

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Title: London Orbital (2002)

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J.G. Ballard ...
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A filmmaker sets out to make a voyage of discovery on London's orbital motorway, the M25. He enlists the help of several others to film the motorway from several points, drive endlessly around it and dig up stories and potential beauty behind the motorway. Written by bob the moo

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31 August 2002 (Italy)  »

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Pompous, pretentious, meaningless and totally pointless
2 November 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A filmmaker sets out to make a voyage of discovery on London's orbital motorway, the M25. He enlists the help of several others to film the motorway from several points, drive endlessly around it and dig up stories and potential beauty behind the motorway.

A film about a motorway? Sounds dull, doesn't it? However I have seen many documentaries about unlikely subjects that have surprised me with wonderful little snippets of information or analogies that are clever, witty or insightful. I gave this a chance because I had hoped it would be of that sort.

However this sets it art house stall out from the very first scene with a horrible narration and split screen footage of never ending roads. The narration is the key failing of the film. The voice is dry but tries to sound insightful and intelligent - it grates. However worse than that is the words he says - he speaks like he thinks what he is saying is poetry and wisdom inherently but in reality his `insights' and comments are nothing more than pretentious meaningless waffle that makes this feel like a student film from a one of our less well funded ex-polytechnic universities.

The film does try and follow some interesting tales during their journey. For example there is one about three men shot and the criminal ring that used the M25 regularly or the Jewish woman who visits a nearby Jewish cemetery and picks up on finishing the life story of one Rodinsky buried there. However these stories appear to be tenuously linked to the motorway itself and, worse than that, they are delivered and handled in such a way as to conceal any value they have and they feel cut off before we have the whole picture.

So instead of further stories we have more pretentious narration. Talking about fellow filmmaker John Sergeant who is so disturbed by a building with no security guards that he sits in a island by the M25 just staring before `vanishing, perhaps back to America'. Or the girl wanting to make a memory museum that surrounds the M25 who sits by the motorway frustrated until she `reads the mind of one of the drivers' and realises that her museum lives in the drivers and that she can now see the future.

On top of this we have the expected artsy liberal left talk. The narrator criticises the dome in London, takes swipes at New Labour, hates shopping centres, hates traffic and describes the drivers using the M25 (to go to work) as zombies or mindless automations. This pretentious artsy snobbery is unbearable and the film left me behind at this point. It was like it was looking down on everyone expect those few who were involved in the project who had seen the light about motorways!

I hate this view that says `I'm an art film and you'll never be able to understand me so just f**k off now'. I thought this was rubbish but suspect that the art-house crowd that made this will merely view my opinions as proof that I am just one of the lost sad masses who are programmed to only see what we're told to see. Overall I imagine the people who will love this film are art students who want to make `deep meaningful' projects just like this one (?!!?). Sadly I found this to be without any value at all and of no interest to me. Nothing more than the pompous ramblings of a bunch of arrogant `artists' who look down their nose at anything and whose every sentence is supposed to be like God spoke, so rich is the meaning they carry.

Please! Do yourself and me and favour and avoid this film like it had big teeth and a menacing look in it's eyes.


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