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lucy-19

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66 reviews in total 
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The Krays (1990)
3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Could do better, 14 May 2008
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I preferred Hale and Pace as "The Management". This film is episodic, and slow. Some scenes are like tableaux in which nothing much happens. It was made in the 80s, so tribute had to be paid to feminism with plonking speeches about the war being much harder on women, and Violet's part being padded. Her dialogue is embarrassingly poetic and grammatical - she talks nothing like an East Ender. Also she and her mates/family never have ordinary conversations. Much more could have been made of the way she served tea and biscuits to violent gangsters. Kate Hardie is very good as Reggie's wife Frances - but in reality the marriage only lasted a few weeks. The clothes and settings, though, are brilliant, getting the look of the 50s/60s absolutely right. I rather fancy Violet's "trees" wallpaper and multicoloured teacosy. Many episodes of the Krays' life are left out, and where are their famous friends? Surely they could have got someone to play Diana Dors?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Yet another take on the Pardoner's Tale, 2 May 2008
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Pardoner's Tale - that's the one where some ill-assorted characters get their hands on some free money (it usually ends with banknotes wafting away across the desert sands). I saw this ages ago and as far as I can recall nobody dies in a desert in this one, though the main characters don't end up living happily ever after on the dough (they never do). I do remember it being a wacky kind of road movie as short, plain Michael Emil and the other guy drive off with a fortune stuffed in their hub caps. They run into two girls in a motel who'd like to take some of those banknotes off them. I'll never forget one of the girls' favourite pickup line: "I think you're a really sweet person. Would you like to have sex with me?" Why didn't it catch on?

Forbidden (1949)
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Interesting minor British noir, 18 February 2008
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I found Douglass Montgomery a bore. The setup is good, though. He's a chemist who's forced to manufacture and sell patent medicines from a fairground booth in Blackpool to keep his sluttish wife. She's the best thing in the movie, played well by Patricia Burke in a succession of alarming costumes. When she dresses up for best she puts a couple of cabbage roses on her head, plus a veil, drapes a dead fox round her neck and sticks a large bow on her bottom. Her love rival, played by Hazel Court, is far more stylish. Hazel makes only the faintest attempt to sound anything other than stage school ("I'll stick with me own kind.") She's meant to be a soft drink and candy floss seller with a lot of shady mates. She lives in a terrace house, but Montgomery and Burke live in a rather wonderful art deco block. What's interesting, though, is that it's quite clear that Burke is sleeping with an older admirer in order to get a part in a play. And when Montgomery gets off with Court they make love in the sand dunes and he then practically moves into her place. And we think we invented sex! Or as Philip Larkin wrote, "sexual intercourse began in 1963" - a long way after this movie.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The best performance ever from a Venetian blind, 1 February 2008
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Objection! Overruled! Can we take a sidebar? I love American courtroom dramas. Just rewatching the first series on DVD - at last. The show would never be made this way today. No hand-held cam? No high speed editing? No rushing down corridors? What we've lost! I love the way Daniel Benzali sits on a leather sofa, his head in the middle of the shot, against those Venetian blinds (it was their best work), and sits there utterly unmoving - and TALKS! Sidney Greenstreet in the Maltese Falcon? Just a touch. Then I'm the only one in the wide, sweet world... The "cell door slams shut" noises were stolen by the BBC's recent Bleak House. And if you don't have your head silhouetted against the blinds, they cast their shadow on the floor. Like prison bars, don't you know. I love it! I love it! I love them all, especially the gay secretary.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
In my top 10, 9 January 2008
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One thing I love about this film is its strangely cosy atmosphere, and the way it's confined almost completely to people's homes (Guy and Rosemary, Hutch, the Castevets). In those homes people do ordinary things - they dish up food, they grow herbs, wash up, redecorate. It's like a page out of Good Housekeeping. And Rosemary is surrounded by sweet, kindly older people (Hutch, the Castevets, Laura Louise). But then they turn out to be... waah, waah, waah waah! On watching it again (and again, and again) I noticed that the camera is right in among the actors a lot of the time, the frame sometimes cutting off their head or half their body. This makes you feel you're really there with them, not watching them on a stage or through a picture frame. And everybody speaks naturally - not a method "naturalistic" mumble, but the real thing. All the characters have their own way of speaking ("Call me - not your Aunt Fanny!"), and for a lot of the time they are talking about mundane things like making a window seat or picking up eggs from the store. The setting is fabulous (I keep trying to work out the plan of the apartment and how it fits onto the Castevets'). The casting is brilliant. Ruth Gordon, Sydney Blackmer, Elisha Cook Jr., Patsy Kelly, Maurice Evans, Mia and John. As someone else pointed out, Guy is much older than Rosemary, and though handsome he's short, and he's never made it as an actor. Are they living on her money? Even his attempts at taking off the neighbours ("on account of it's one of her specialitays") are lame. He constantly laughs at things that aren't funny. The music, even when it's just a descending chromatic scale, is brilliantly creepy, and I love the theme song (sung beautifully by Mia).

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
One of the good 80s Christies, 8 January 2008
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The 50s setting is effortlessly done, right down to the genteel faded chintz of Miss Marple's "sitting room, Cherry dear, not lounge". Angela Lansbury made a great Miss M and I wish she'd reprised her role. The story is streamlined and told well, with characters filling each other in on background (in the book it was all dug up by Miss M from old movie magazines). Don't watch the terrible Evil Under the Sun, whose makers must have thought Christie+hasbeen stars+witty insults = box-office smash. Mirror's makers have taken the same formula, but the stars do a good job, and (this is the magic ingredient) the witty insults are actually witty. (He takes his job seriously! So did Attila the Hun!) However, the reasons why X killed Y are both clunkily telegraphed, and muffed in the revelation. Christie's own wartime (both world wars) dispensary and nursing experience is given to Miss Marple - and it is odd to see Miss M smoking!

By the way, Dermot asks Fenn what "the N" in his name stands for, not "The End"! Dermot is not that thick.

9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
John Gielgud as you've never seen him before, 11 December 2007
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Actually Gielgud is not bad at all as the novelist turned soldier turned spy. He has a fine, brittle way with a one-liner. Madeleine Carroll is excellent. This being Hitch, there are some tense scenes, like the one where the alleged baddie's wife is giving Madeleine a German lesson. As she stumbles over "Was kostet es...?" she can't help thinking about what's happening to the woman's husband. So the gossip is that Gielgud was persuaded to play the role because it was "Shakespearean", and his disappointment shows through? What an incredibly silly theory. Next you'll be telling me that you can see ghostly figures in the net curtains. But I can believe Hitch told Gielgud the character was like Hamlet. What happened to Hamlet? (Now listen carefully, this could help with your English essay.) He was told by a mysterious figure that it was absolutely necessary for him to kill a man. He spends a lot of the play wondering if he should, and wondering about the moral implications, and incidentally kills an innocent bystander. Now d'you get it?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One of the early, funny ones, 27 November 2007
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The girls (Liz Fraser, Joan Sims) stand out (cue laugh). Liz gets to model some undies and Joan dolls up to greet guests at a wine-tasting with predictable results. Mainly the cast wander round London of the 60s meeting a lot of eccentrics and chimpanzees. Kenneth Williams shines as usual as a toffee-nosed language expert who is the only one who can understand Unwinese (as gibbered by Stanley Unwin). Of course the jobs get mixed up, Joan Hickson gets to reprise her hospital Sister role and Kenneth Connor gets sent off on a 39 Steps parody where he bumps into rarely-seen radio star Betty Marsden (why wasn't she made a Dame?). The non-plot descends into slapstick when the team are sent to renovate Unwin's country house (which would now be worth millions). And is that German or Yiddish the mismatched couple are speaking?

Mona Lisa (1986)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Typical of 1986, 29 August 2007
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's typical of the 80s because it's preachy. Prostitution is bad and causes suffering to the people involved. Well, who would have guessed? This is a patchy film, and what others see as great acting I often see as shouting. As well as the shouting, there's a lot of grabbing people by the arm and hustling them along. There are some very good bits, though, including Hoskins' visit to a clip joint, his meeting with the girl in a grim cafe near Kings Cross (now long gone, as are most cafes like it). Another good bit is his rescue of the girl from the clutches of a horrible pervert in a room with a two-way mirror. (Did you enjoy that? You weren't meant to!) Robbie Coltrane is meant to be a bit of light relief but he is embarrassingly sentimental and unfunny in a peculiarly eighties way. I think "quirky" is the word I want.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Gently comic?, 6 August 2007
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's odd that "gently comic" (as another reviewer put in) usually means "quite unfunny". Or rather, it means "we laugh at a harmless, good character". This film could have done with trying less hard to make us laugh. I can't stand seasickness jokes (tho I rather liked Flambeau's line when disguised as a priest "I must partake of the suffering of others"). And the bit where Brown and the librarian keep dropping/stepping on spectacles - I watched it stone-faced. Brown is quite bumbling enough without being "blind as a bat without my glasses" as well. The film opens well with Brown apparently robbing a safe (of course he's putting the money back). Sid James and Cecil Parker give sterling support, and the friendship between Brown and Lady Warren is touching, and I love the garage man who whisks the priest into the dance. This could have been a good film. Occasionally Guinness becomes entirely serious about saving Flambeau's soul and we glimpse what it might have been. It's based on the first Father Brown story in which Flambeau appears, and some of the plot is retained - the chase across town/country, the swapping of parcels, the wrestling holds, the man who's unmasked because he gives the wrong answer about... in the original story it's sin, not drive shafts. Read the story, it's one of the best (also read the one about the silver forks and the extra waiter). And it whisks you through a wild vision of Victorian London (Camden Town is as benighted as Darkest Africa, and they end up on Hampstead Heath - standing in for the high place where the Devil tempted Christ).


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