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I Give It a Year (2013)
I give it a 5
I file this in the same category as Death at a funeral and A few best men: a nominally funny premise where the comedy is shoveled on with a trowel in a 'quantity equals quality' approach. Stephan Merchant's lines in particular are so cringe-worthy that after the 10th faux pas you know he's going to say something offensive every time he opens his mouth so there is no shock value left. Rafe Spall seems to be treating this as a movie-length episode of 'Pete vs Life'. This is a British film but it has all the hallmarks of a typical U.S. gross-out comedy, and all the shortcomings of that genre too. If you don't believe in the characters as real people then the comedy becomes like watching a cartoon. Be warned: if you have seen the trailer, then you have seen all the best lines in the film.
Interminable and irritating
It's a pity the interiors and set design were so good-looking on this film, as it all was a waste. Hoffman and Rickman give hammy performances, and the overall pace is s..o s..l..o..w.. that it could have been edited down by a good hour without losing anything of consequence. It's like staring at a pretty garden... it looks fine, but 2 hrs later it's just damn boring. I'm told, if you hadn't read the novel first the whole film is fairly incomprehensible, and being in that position, I would agree. However even my friends who had read (and liked) the book thought the film was just awful. In my 'boredum' ratings this would score equal with 'Rosetta'.
Clever, but not funny
Many people have been disappointed by this movie as it was misleadingly shown as a sort of broad comedy in the trailers, even though Anderson is not known to make that sort of film. If it's a comedy at all, it's quite a black one, and much of the humour is wry to the point of being imperceptible. I sat through this without once even feeling like laughing, and there are some quite downbeat moments as well. I think most people would be advised to avoid this unless they have seen Anderson's previous films like The Royal Tenenbaums and enjoyed them. It's certainly not a film with wide appeal. That said, at least it's interesting, in an un-Revenge of the Sith-like way.
21 Grams (2003)
Ugly and pretentious
The only thing which made me sit through this interminable movie was to see if I was going to get any value at all for my ticket price. Well, I could at least have saved time by walking out after the first 30 minutes. Sure the performances are OK to good, (but not outstanding) and who cares anyway? I felt nothing for any characters in the film, and the confusing jumps between scenes and forwards and backward in time are irritating and pretentious. I get the feeling this film was inspired by that bumper sticker "life sucks, and then you die." I'll remember this only by it being the benchmark of bad films I might see in 2004
Perfect Strangers (2003)
Weird to the point of looniness
I was reminded slightly of a current Australian release, 'Japanese story" which is also largely a two-hander, and has lots of time spent in remote locations. And it too has a fairly major plot twist along the way. But comparisons run out there. Rachael Blake is just as fine an actress as Toni Collette, but what she has to do here seems quite ludicrous. I get concerned when people begin to talk to whitegoods, for instance. You might find that at one point you think, where can this film go from here? And I don't think that question is resolved at all. The second half of the film in particular gets more and more bizarre and kooky, and even at the end I think many people would say "huh?'. Sam Neill was OK too, but I can't for the life of me think what possessed him to do this film. As a student film it would be acceptable, but not as a general release.
A live-action cartoon feature
This is the flip side of 'Toy Story' and "Shrek'. Those were animated films with characters which looked and felt like real people. This movie has all the realism and excitement of a Road Runner cartoon.
So much of the action is not at all live - I don't mind CGI in films but this is so obvious that many sequences look like a B-grade PC game. A l-o-n-g and tedious dirt-bike sequence has so many patently absurd 'movements' that you start to wonder if they even bothered to employ any stuntmen or just went straight from actors to sprites.
I'm not sure if the director has done anything other than music videos, but he (or she, a name like McG gives nothing away) seems to have approached this as if it was just another one. Virtually every scene is filled with gratuitous music backing and some even have J-Lo style dance segments thrown in for some inexplicable reason.
I guess the 'Angels' are not much worse than in the first film, but there are so many awful cameos by good actors who should know better. Demi Moore rolls out her evil-bitch "Disclosure' persona, Bruce Willis could have been anyone else, and John Cleese takes on possibly the worst role of his career.
For what it's worth, the plot looks dangerously like a Lord-of-the-Rings rip-off: two rings with names of witnesses in hiding have been stolen and the Angels have to get them back. This is the cue for lots of scenes that make any James Bond film look hyper-realistic.
This film is a sort of modern-day 'Robot Monster'. It's so dreadful that it comes close to being a parody of itself, but the jokes in it are so lame and the plot is so uninspired that you can't even laugh at it, let alone with it.
Marie-Jo et ses 2 amours (2002)
Ordinary but absorbing
I found this film easy to watch (as might a lot of males given the amount of skin shown on the screen) because as well as the plot which is apparent from the title of the film, it gives a great feeling of what the ordinary parts of Marseille are like. It's like walking or driving around in the city. One of Marie-Jo's lovers is a builder, the other a ship pilot. We see what their lives entail, and how she complicates them. It's interesting to see a woman nearly 50 years old carrying off a sexually-charged role with such self-assuredness. One can't imagine this happening in a Hollywood movie like this. It also refuses to take a moral tone on what she is doing, and overall the action seems more matter-of-fact than melodramatic. Whether you see this as realistic or boring depends on your expectations of this sort of film. To me, it seemed realistic, at least for the French, and it more or less kept me guessing how or if things would be resolved, right up to the rather odd conclusion. I found this was the most unsatisfactory part of the film, mainly because it was hard to see why things happened the way they did, it almost looking like the ending was tacked on merely to put some sort of conclusion to the film. Overall I quite liked it, for showing that ordinariness can still be interesting, and that everyone has to decide on morality for themselves.
Superb performances in witty caper film
If I'd looked at reviews on IMDB I might not have gone to see this film, so I'm glad I didnt. In the whole spate of 'heist' films that have emerged over the last couple of years, this stands out with the best of them - better than the over-hyped "The Score", for example. In fact the only film which measured up to this is the remake of Ocean's Eleven, which is a similar format in that you can't help rooting for the 'bad' guys.
I was astonished to see reviews describing it as "boring" as it is not, not for an instant. Sure it does not have spaceship chases like "Attack of the Clones" but that film had huge turgid 'romance' scenes which were far slower than anything in this movie. I guess if you think all Woody Allen films, including "Bananas" and "Play it Again Sam" are boring then you might think the same about this.
As one might expect in a Barry Levinson film, the dialogue and pacing are crisp and witty, and the way the two main characters bounce off each other is often very funny but never silly. Cate Blanchet, who appears quite late in the film, is breathtaking as a sort of femme fatale who doesn't seem to ever realize what her effect on others is. This is not a star vehicle, it's an ensemble film, although Thornton stands out with a role far removed from his 'typical' performances such as in "Monsters ball" or "Sling Blade". I'd rate this in my top 3 for the year so far.
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Hah. If it wasnt for the "out-takes" and other stuff at the end, this would be a very average film, suffering from typical Disney saccharin overdose. It's a pity, given the attention to detail in the animation and sound effects, that they decided all they needed to do was churn out another 'Bug's Life'. Surely once was enough!
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
Biggest disappointment of 2001
For what it could (and should) have been, this film must be one of the biggest disappointments of all time. Given the competence both behind and in front of the camera, it is hard to see how things went so wrong, or how Hollywood with all its test-screenings and feedback, has produced such a jumbled piece of work, which is all the worse for dragging on so long. Just when you think it's hit rock bottom, it finds new depths to sink to. I avoided this for months after hearing so much bad press & word of mouth, but even so I was astounded at how BAD it really was. I wish I'd taken my friends' advice and saved myself the chore of sitting through this junk. I have seen worse films than this, but none with less excuses for turning out so bad.
One, Two, Three (1961)
Loud, fast, but not funny or clever
I was tired of hearing Cagney's bellowed one-liners less than 30 min. into this film. I can't fathom why anyone considers it even vaguely funny. All of the characters are two-dimensional caricatures which presumably pandered to the anti-communist dogma of the late 50s in the US, but now it is truly embarrassing. One has the feeling of thinly disguised political rhetoric under the superficial humour. I'm not a big fan of Wilder anyway, but this is by far the worst of his films that I've seen. The only thing in the film worth seeing is the scenery of Berlin before the Wall, although I'm told the Brandenburg gate was in fact a fake, constructed in Munich!
Facing the Music (2001)
Beethoven v. Milton Friedman
This is an impassioned defence of all the worthwhile qualities in academia which are threatened with extinction by the ruthless application of 'user-pays' economic-rationalist funding regimes. What more eloquent argument is there than music itself which forms the backdrop to this angry, moving film. Basically the film charts a year or so in the life of Ann Boyd, head of the Sydney University Dept. of Music, which is facing death by a thousand cuts as its budget is whittled away year by year. All the philistines in the Federal government who are responsible for this disgraceful situation should be made to watch this film, a la "Clockwork Orange". Some of the scenes feel a bit intrusive of the people in them, but like all good documentaries the narration and captions are kept to a minimum and the situations and people speak for themselves
The Mummy Returns (2001)
Special effects in search of a story
Is it possible to fall asleep during an action film with countless explosions, bug-eyed monsters, hectic chases and last-minute escapes? This film just about makes it possible. Never have I seen such overdone, unconvincing and utterly unnecessary SFX. Ten-year old video games have more realism than this. I wonder how the actors went, they must have got sick of cavorting in front of blue screens and dodging monsters who wouldnt appear until post production. I saw this as a double feature along with the first one, which is far more substantial and involving. The acting was ok, but the live action seemed to have less screen time than all the animation. Yawn.
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Is this the Notting Hill for 2001?
Another sweet-but-painful film labelled as comedy by the marketers, in the style of British films which started with Four Weddings and a Funeral and has continued quite nicely ever since. This is by no means as good as the best of them, but is quite watchable, and shows that Renee, like Gwynneth can do a credible British accent. Its funny how the real actress now resembles what her character calls a 'stick insect', which only shows she didnt take any hints from the screenplay. All the British leads are terrific, of course, and it makes for a experience that this male thought was eminently worthwhile.
Thirteen Days (2000)
Historical thriller diluted by melodrama
If only this film had been made by someone else. It suffers from an excess of 'Costerism'. Here we have the President of the mighty U.S. of A. being told what to do by his assistant? I wonder what the real Kenny thought of being promoted to be the C-in-C's boss? This silliness detracts from the real drama being played out by the Kennedy duo, trying to stop the unpredictable Ruskies and prevent the mad generals from staging their own version of Dr. Strangelove. I rather doubt the accuracy of their portrayal too; they are a little too red-faced, blustering and over-the-top to be in a straight drama. I wish I'd liked this more, but these things just niggle all the way through.
I don't often fall asleep when watching films at 'normal' times of the day, but this one overcame my efforts to stay awake. Unfortunately, I awoke only a minute or two later, as if I had slept through the rest it would have been a better use of my time. To everyone who sees this film: if you like it, fine, though I can't imagine why anyone would - but if you are tired of it after 45 min. like I was, cut your losses and leave, it doesn't get any better than than that. Some parts of this movie look like the film is on a loop - how many time s do we need to see someone putting on a pair of rubber boots? It's amazing that this could carry the Cannes film festival - I don't think 1999 was THAT bad a year for film! I don't think the problem here is acting; but it's everything else that is wrong, and the dogme production technique means that it looks like home movies, and dull ones at that. It overcomes the effort the actors put into their roles, so that you basically don't care what happens to the wretched people in this wretched caravan park in Belgium. If a realist film fails at that, it fails completely.
Wo hu cang long (2000)
Most overrated film since Phantom Menace
C'mon, what is it with this film? Sure it looks pretty, and it has some accomplished stars, but all of them have done better things in other films. Chow Yun-Fat in particular is wasted. Is it a coincidence that audiences in China have not been so impressed by this movie? The stunt sequences are frankly boring, and editing them tightly would have saved about 20 min and made a distinct improvement in the film overall. Go and see this by all means, but don't expect anything extraordinary.
Mission: Impossible II (2000)
The dumbest film of the year (so far...) Or, is this Tom's promotional film that got lost by his agent and ended up in the wrong can? Whatever it is, to the viewer it's just a really stupid film. Sure, it looks fine on the big screen, but if you want to see it, leave your brain at the door.
Not one of Ridley's best
If you don't like this film after the first half hour you'd better leave and save yourself another hour or two - it goes on & on and doesn't improve with age. This is an epic with no heart and soul - lots of oh-so-evil bad guys and goody-two-shoes, sweetness & light nice guys. You don't feel much for anyone in it, unlike other modern 'epics' like Braveheart, and computerized SFX or not, it can't hold a candle to the likes of Ben Hur/Spartacus etc. In fact, even the effects are not really all that impressive - and if the acting and script had been better I probably wouldn't have noticed, but I had so much time on my hands that I started trying to guess where the 'real' actors and sets stopped and the 'virtual' ones started. It's not quite like Titanic - the effects are not so impressive, and the acting is nowhere near as awful - but it does unfortunately come to mind. Still, at least go & see it in a decent theatre, it will shrivel away to nothing on the small screen.
Fight Club (1999)
Gratuitous violence in search of a message
I don't think I've ever been put off a film by its violent content .. until this one. You come out of it feeling like you've been swimming in a tub full of offal. After two hours or so it really starts to become boring, which is disturbing in itself. After it finished though, and I got the more disgusting images out of my mind somewhat, I thought, it really doesn't make much sense either - did anyone ever hear of data backups, maybe? and just how do you wire up a condemned old house for a heap of electronic gismos to conduct a urban warfare campaign? Cronenberg manages all the creepiness and shocking images (e.g. Videodrome) without stooping to the goriness that this film revels in.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
More hype than Phantom Menace
We waited about 5 months for this film to get to Australia, and you know what, it wasn't worth the wait. Even the underwhelming Star Wars ep.1 wasn't this much of a disappointment. Is it well acted? Yeah, mostly. Does it look "real"? Well it *does* look like they're wandering in the woods... Is it plausible or realistic? Well.. no, not really - do teenagers really react that way to things that go bump in the night - I dont think so! Is it SCARY? Well, er.. no frankly it isn't. I tried to be scared, really I did, but I've seen plenty of TV movies that were a lot better at scaring me than this mediocre film. And lastly, was it boring? Unfortunately, yes it was, at least a lot of the time. I think the only thing that was true was the effect of the handheld camera - I dont get affected by that sort of thing, but my partner felt quite sick by the end of the film. The biggest let-down of the year, overall.
42 Up (1998)
The 7-up phenomenon gets better each time...
This film and its predecessors are the most fascinating documentaries released cinematically, not because of their breathtaking cinematography, whiz-bang special effects or even revelation of secret or unknown information. What it does offer is a look straight into the personal lives of a group of people with nothing much in common except this series of extraordinary films which every 7 years throw their experiences open to the world. For the most part they are ordinary lives but they are engrossing as only reality can be. There is no gloss applied, no smoothing over of rough edges. Apted has become a friend to many of his 'subjects' and the warmth of their relationship with him comes into the film. In this program, even the effect of the film series on the people in it is examined, so in some ways it is a film about itself. Like a classic serial cliffhanger, at the end one is impatient to see the next instalment, but it will be seven years in production...
Take off the rose-coloured glasses & listen to the critics!
Hey, this is NOT the best film ever made, despite what you might read elsewhere in the IMDb. Just because people have waited 16 years for a sequel doesnt mean any bit of celluloid with the Star Wars logo is worthy of adulation. Where is the Star Wars excitement or grand design? OK the pod race was exciting, but there was more to Ben Hur than a chariot race, George. Not one of the Star Trek films, oft-criticised for their slow pacing, is as limp or un-involving as this film. If this is meant to set the scene for Episode 2, then we could have had a 45 min. short with all the necessary detail. Everything else is just padding, and pretty unentertaining padding at that.
The Matrix (1999)
An intelligent action movie. Stylish and thought-provoking. If you go to see it for the special effects, you'll be intrigued by the premise. At times it feels a lot like The Terminator, but the plot is not really that similar. However this film is also likely to become a cult classic too. Overall an immensely satisfying cinema experience.
Amazingly pretentious, boring and pointless
I sat (uncomfortably) through this film becoming more and more staggered at just how it got made at all. The script itself makes the acting look embarrassing, and it fundamentally becomes a waste of time for everybody concerned. If you avoid seeing one film this year, make it this one.