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xander-2

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11 reviews in total 
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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
First-rate comedy, 7 February 2000

Superior example of British comedy film making amongst a sea of duds. British film-makers never got it more right than here. Tremendous story and script plus wonderful performances from a whole host of character actors, especially Peter Sellers and Terry-Thomas.

Very funny satire on British industrial relations.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Superb and clever fast-paced comedy, 6 February 2000
10/10

Brilliant stupid fun with the excellent Eddie Bracken as the hapless hero. Lacks the sophistication of many screwball comedies to it's enduring credit. Knockabout slapstick is so often maligned by people who can't appreciate a simple good laugh. The scene where Betty Hutton encourages Bracken to propose to her is one the cleverest pieces of comedy put to film.

Possibly Preston Sturges' masterpiece; then again 'Hail the Conquering Hero' is just as funny.

Betty Blue (1986)
11 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
The acme of pretentious drivel, 6 February 2000
1/10

These comments contain a public health warning. I strongly urge all decent citizens to NEVER see this film unless it is for free and you have done all you want to do in life at least twice. Maybe not even then.

A few words to explain this courtesy to fellow sentients. I won't waste 178 Director's Un-cut minutes of your valuable time.

Pretentious. That's a good word to describe my opinion on this overblown melodrama, this shallow, hideously glossy examination of two worthless souls.

Irritated. Another excellent word which encapsulates my feelings as the tedious protagonists exposed their unconscionably dull lives to me. I felt as though I was the single guest at a dinner party of tepid acquaintances who drone on about their bathroom grouting for three hours and then have a fight about it whilst you're downing the last of the lambrusco.

Murderous. A very pleasurable state of mind. All those involved should have been smothered with a pillow; Betty Blue herself for her puerile psychotic petulance; Zorg for his definitive depiction of a vapid loser and of course the director who should also have been riddled with a full-clip for having the audacity to perpetuate this gallic monstrosity without a trace of irony.

For those of a carnal disposition, there are a couple of decent sex scenes but you can see those anywhere you sad person.

It is incumbent on a film-maker to make his characters and the story interesting for the poor viewer. Betty reminds me of an intense bratty child though with pneumatic lips, forever slitting her wrists and screeching to gain attention. Not interesting after three minutes Monsieur Beineix. Here's the last word.

Painful.

Baraka with Bombs, 21 February 1999

About an hour after settling into my nice comfy high-back chair, I began fiddling in my left ear and discovered a rogue hair growing far out away from its pals. I tugged on it and found it rather tenacious. The pain this tugging caused was mildly pleasurable, but after a while I gave the hair a good yank and its short life was over My nose hairs need plucking more regularly too.

Later on, the cinema whisperer who is always behind me on my right (4 o'clock high), started up. This time he was a young lad, continually asking his father questions like, ‘Why did that man fall over?', ‘What's that red stuff he's holding? Why does he keep staring?

Why indeed does Private Witt keep staring? And staring. For once I was not irritated by such dumb cinema noise. I had finally given up caring after two hours that seemed like five, yet this crashing bore of a movie droned on for nearly another hour in much the same manner.

To be honest I was suspicious from the early scenes which were un-involving and documentary like. But this was Terrence Malick I said, who had given us two superb films in the seventies, he knows what he's doing, so sit back and enjoy the lovely scenery. Well it was nice and we saw lots of it, again and again; Lots of fabulous shots of light streaming through the tree-tops; Little story mind. Little characterisation though as we are introduced to many characters in a fleeting manner, all rather numb and one-paced.

When the action finally kicks in it is very effective and gruesome. However having had such a brief introduction to the characters we don't know how to relate and can't feel for them. They're just Grunts. Some with stomachs, some without.

Nolte gives us the strongest performance as the pushy colonel, but it is also the most physical. The performances of the other actors take place behind the eyes, we see what they feel, what they are thinking. Voice-over after voice-over relate some grunt's philosophical mumblings. This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so repetitive and half the time I couldn't distinguish one grunt from another, they were all so similar.

The central performance of Jim Caviezel as the human AWOL was the most tedious of all. A face to get fed up with.

It is Malick who is seriously at fault here, over-doing the beautiful haunting imagery, the flashbacks and the voice-overs, and under-doing the story. He re-visits the well dug trenches of Paths of Glory, Full Metal Jacket and Saving Private Parts - War is hell, men become savages, generals are morons, doesn't this little scenario sum up the stupidity of war etc etc. Only this time it's shot like some new age nature documentary where a bit of David Attenborough's clearer diction would have certainly been of help.

Only David would have cut better. A good hour could have been sliced out with little loss to the story. What would have been far better though would have been better dialogue and more rounded characterisations.

I bet they were there in the book.

The music score matched the visual proceedings perfectly, being one-noted and always straining toward a point of finality without ever reaching it. When I found out it was from Hans Zimmer whose scores never fail to bore me, it all made sense. The cinematography however was superb throughout,the images were stunning, the action set pieces, exceptional and gruesome.

Be poetic and haunting Mr. Malick but please get on with it next time; and I sincerely hope there'll be a next time.

20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
One of the funniest comedies ever made, 13 February 1999

Brilliant farce with more than a bitter-sweet tang about the attitudes of small town Americans towards the war and the people who served. The dialogue and pacing is first rate and Preston Sturges' stock cast are all excellent, not least Freddie Steele as the slightly dented Bugsy. His performance gives an odd edge to the film, being an awful actor and a poor comedian helps him stand out and appear as someone more real and genuine.

Sturges is Hollywood's most forgotten great director, writer and producer. Even though he shone brightly but briefly he made far superior comedies than Woody Allen's and those are pretty damn good themselves.

Beer (1985)
5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
The end product will be tastier, 11 February 1999

I did watch this load of watered down brew right through to the end.When you are stuck out on the Atlantic ocean on a ship far from civilisation anything is watchable for the sake of something to do other than work,eat and sleep.If you occasionally have your mind in neutral the whole experience is similar to the end product of the beer you could be drinking right now. Give it a miss and go to the pub instead and have a pint of the real stuff.

what is this ?, 11 February 1999

Not being finnish,I did not understand a word.Travelling on a merchant ship to many parts of the world occasionally lets me see overseas T.V. programs of varying quality.Not understanding the dialogue actually helped in making it like a silent comedy. Any citizens of Finland who may shed some light on this series may allow me to see this program in a different perspective on my next visit to the waters.

52 out of 67 people found the following review useful:
One of best 40's film noir - and where is it ?, 6 February 1999

Tremendously stylish, brilliantly scripted and wonderfully directed noir classic about a man who cannot escape from his past. Rarely does the genre get away from the grimy city streets with it's dark corridors and alleyways only partially lit by un-realistic streams of bright light. In this film we not only see the underworld gangs, the bars and floozies, the heavies and the fatales, but we also see the bright beautiful countryside, the streams and the rocks - a complete otherworld.

Mitchum is superb as the man who has escaped the city to live a new life in the country only to be dragged back by powerful forces. This broadening of the cinematic landscape makes the movie more affecting than your assorted Bogarts' & Ladds'. As with 'I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang' I feel much more sympathy for the lead actor who gets dragged back into the bear pit to wrestle for his life and soul.

'Out of the Past' also has some of the finest dialogue and narration I have ever heard, probably matched only by 'The Maltese Falcon'. 'She was like an autumn leaf blowing from gutter to gutter', is one gem that sticks in my mind.

The mood of the film is pleasantly melancholic and the portrayal of the fatale figure (Jane Greer) is particularly sympathetic. In most noir movies the male perspective of the double-crossing woman predominates (not that there's anything wrong with that, it's usually very funny). Here however, whilst Greer presents one of the blackest of women you at least know why she does what she does and can sympathise with her plight. She is trapped too.

Tourneur, tragically made few films but was a master at getting messages deep into your psyche, into your soul. 'Cat People 'and 'I Walked With a Zombie' both had otherworlds where the demons lived. We all have otherworlds too, places we'd rather not go very often, but as with Mitchum we are sometimes confronted with those demons and have to do battle once again. When I go next I hope to be wearing my hat at an exquisite angle and have my trench coat well belted.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Interesting off-beat black comedy thriller; Oswald for President!, 5 February 1999

Very interesting take on the President Kennedy assassination, suggesting, ludicrously I know, that a single lone white male who was a lousy shot may not have been the real murderer.

The film was adapted from a Richard Condon book, who also wrote the brilliant 'The Manchurian Candidate. Whilst this is nowhere near the classic the Frankenheimer directed movie of the same name was, it has the same blackly comic, bizarre- paranoid style which raises it above the level of many more noted political thrillers.

I suspect this film did nothing at the box-office when it came out, but I found it very funny and off-beat. A bit of knowledge about the real life murder is handy as the references abound; there's a younger brother, a patriarchal knuckle-duster wielding father who's dealt with the Mafia for decades, a Jack Ruby type bar owner, A pseudo-Hoover, deathbead confessions, more deaths etc etc.

Conspiracy theorists with a sense of humour should enjoy this slyly funny story, but you don't need to be a sworn under-cover enemy of the Military /Industrial complex or to have written a devastating critique of the 'single bullet' theory.

Jeff Bridges is very good as the younger brother who follows the trail toward the truth. John Huston excels as the powerful 'Joe Kennedy' father.

I suspect this will be generally be found, if at all, in the $1 discount shelves of the video store. They're trying to keep it from us you know; trying to keep the truth hidden. They may be watching us right now.

Seconds (1966)
Grim, Creepy but brilliant story, intelligently told, 4 February 1999

I've often felt I was happier for not being Rock Hudson. Now I know why.

The Saul Bass credits set the tone and the theme, brilliantly as always, of this genuinely creepy, downbeat, kafka-esque (sorry) and thoughtful film. The mysterious nightmarish opening scenes lead one, intrigued into one of the most fascinating and interesting stories I have ever seen. The ending's no fizzer either.

Seconds is similar in tone and mood to Gattaca, another paranoid sci-fi cautionary tale, and the melancholy Dark City, so don't expect a knee-slapper or 'Carry on Identity Crisis!'. It lacks the black, sardonic humour of Frankenheimer's greatest film, 'The Manchurian Candidate' to it's detriment. He did seem to undergo a humour bypass which showed in all his later films. The rewards of Seconds though are considerable, not least in the brilliant cinematography by the veteran James Wong Howe and in excellent set design.

I don't know how Hudson got involved in the project, another cautionary tale perhaps given it's lack of box office success. Critically its reception was mixed ranging from wild acclaim to virulent hostility. That along with the involvement a director at the height of his powers makes it intriguing viewing.

Like Soderburgh's much neglected and already forgotten 'Kafka', this film deserves a full cinema re-release and a video issued at a price humans can afford.


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