Reviews written by registered user

Page 1 of 161:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]
1609 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

Green Room (2015)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Dire confined settings horror film, 22 March 2017

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

A group of aspiring grunge singers unwittingly accept a gig at an event where a Neo-Nazi element is likely to be present. They soldier through it, and make it out in one piece, until they stumble on a murder and find themselves held against their will while the perpetrators figure out what to do. A battle for survival ensues, while the group await the arrival of Darcy (Patrick Stewart), their chief in command.

It's still a very effective formula in horror films to have characters who start off in fairly controlled situations where something happens, and events spiral out of control, leaving them in a terrifying predicament that they never even dreamed of. And from this angle, Green Room had as much potential as any other, but Jeremy Saulnier's deathly drained piece is sadly an uninvolving, totally unsuspenseful thriller that you will struggle with to the end.

It's as if the cast can sense how bad the screenplay and dialogue are, and most of it is barely audible, with all of them mumbling everything at a really low murmur, where you almost can't hear a word. This is complimented by an overly drained camera lens that adds nothing to the atmosphere. Performances wise, the late Anton Yelchin fails to stand out any more than any of the other charisma free young cast, and you know things must be bad when even the accomplished Stewart turns in a terrible performance, doing an unconvincing American accent.

Not so much the Green Room, this one should have just been left on the Cutting Room floor. *

The Intern (2015/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Successful, sweetly observed comedy from Nancy Meyers, 20 March 2017

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

Ben Whitaker (Robert De Niro) is a seventy year old widower from New York, who answers a job vacancy for a senior intern at an online fashion agency, run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), in order to give some direction and meaning back to his life. At first, he couldn't look more out of place in the modern open plan, tech savvy work place he now occupies, but his old school ways eventually endear him to his co workers, as well as Jules herself, until Ben becomes her driver and she finds his age and wisdom coming to save her in her personal as well as professional life.

The pace of technology over the course of the last forty to fifty years has accelerated to the point that the modern world resembles something of a science fiction movie come to life, and one in which the older generation would understandably feel quite bewildered and overwhelmed by, and this is the inspired premise that Nora Ephron chooses to explore in this gentle, bittersweet comedy, that eschews an old fashioned charm that isn't to be found in many films of the genre these days.

In the lead role, De Niro excels as the kindly old widow with advise and wisdom to dispense in droves, in a role with similarities with, but a complete contrast to, his role in the execrable Dirty Grandpa, which actually followed this. While he seemed totally out of place and degraded in that film, this is a part he fits much more comfortably, which suits his personality and talents a lot better, allowing him to create some genuinely decent chemistry with co star Hathaway and the rest of the youthful cast, which works wonders.

By creating a genuinely inspired concept and not just nose diving for cheap laughs and crudeness, it's paid off for Ephron and she's created a hugely rewarding and successful comedy that will manage to generate equal appeal to audiences young and old alike. ****

Britney Ever After (2017) (TV)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An unexplainable, amateurish mess, 7 March 2017

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning NO STARS End of Days

A made for TV biopic of the pop icon Britney Spears (Natasha Bassett), from starting out with her breakthrough single Baby One More Time in 1999, where she was shoved into the limelight by her pushy mother Lynne (Nicole Oliver) and domineering manager Larry Rudolph (Peter Benson), who both naively thought she was old and mature enough to handle such massive media exposure and pushed her to lie about her virginity to keep up an illusion, through to the trials and turbulence of her relationships with Justin Timberlake (Nathan Keyes) and Kevin Federline (Clayton Chitty), before a revealing 2008 documentary aired.

Sometimes, something can give you a really bad vibe, yet you still feel utterly compelled to see it. Your instinct can tell you it looks really bad, and you can see no end of bad reviews, and you can almost write a review before you've even seen it, but still you're still interested in the subject matter and you just have to see it yourself. While I've never been a massive fan of her music, something about Britney Spears has always captivated me and kept my attention, being such an icon of popular culture as she is. For all this, though, I've never gotten the feeling she was comfortable with this status, and so a dramatisation of her life, as inevitable as it was, was never something I thought she'd be happy about (and, from what's been said, that's definitely the case with this.)

Such a popular name is Britney, that a big studio could quite willingly have thrown its clout behind a production of her life, so why this no budget monstrosity is even in existence is ripe for question. And what little budget it must have had, as the terrible production values are in evidence from the opening credits, and from there, like a crashing plane whirling down from the sky, it just becomes an even bigger amateurish, terribly made mess. Lead star Bassett looks, and pretty much sounds, nothing like the real Britney, and her portrayal of her is just excruciating, as is Nathan Keyes's cringe-worthy performance as first love Justin. You never get the feeling you're watching a real life unfolding, just a corny, overblown childish imagining.

This is just the typical sort of thing you see on the Hallmark Channel/True Entertainment, only the worst kind of example, and one which you can really see from the outset and just trust your instincts on. NO STARS

La La Land (2016/I)
1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Uplifting, sweet centred detour from the norm, 6 March 2017

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

Mia (Emma Stone) is a barista on a Hollywood film set, who dreams of becoming a famous actress, but keeps having bad luck on auditions. She crosses paths with Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a brash, abrasive musician, who also wants to make it big, and is frustrated at anyone's inability to appreciate jazz. Although irritated by Sebastian's manner, Mia does admire his musical ability, and on this tender footnote they develop a friendship that blossoms into romance, and the ups and downs their paths take from this point.

Damian Chazelle's glossy celebration of Hollywood from a time gone by suffered at the cruel, mocking hands of fate in the most humiliating of ways over the last fortnight, when the unbelievable drama of Oscars night unfolded across the mainstream media and, after being announced as the winner of Best Picture, it turned out this was a mistake, and the award actually went to the urban drama Moonlight. While drawing more attention to this catastrophic farrago seems tactless, I had been planning to see it even if this hadn't happened, and Oscar embarrassment aside, it's still a swirling, magical re-ignition of a genre that was popular in the golden age of Hollywood.

While it's a celebration of something from a by-gone age, it's very much updated to modern times, capturing all the funk, style and spirit of the modern music and fashion scene, and so enthralling to those who are fans of musicals from the olden days, and appealing to those who are up on current trends. Considering the nature of both the main characters, lead stars Gosling and Stone are inspired choices, since their personalities match their demeaneurs so well, Gosling's moody, withdrawn but appealing character perfectly complimenting Stone's sturdy, downtrodden but hopeful and resilient heroine.

And, just so it doesn't forget what it is that makes it so appealing to modern audiences, the song and dance numbers are perfectly magical too, really springing to life at the right moments and lighting up an already beautiful homage to the bygone musical. ****

1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Thorough, sobering re-enactment of a recent tragedy, 1 March 2017

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

Monday April 15th 2013. The people of the city of Boston come together to watch/participate in the annual city marathon. It is a day when friends, families and acquaintances came together to share a joyful experience- all except for warped brothers Tamerlan (Themo Melikidize) and Dzhokhar Tsarbaev (Alex Wolff) who were responsible for planting and detonating a series of explosives in amongst the gathered crowds soaking up the days events, causing mass pandemonium and devastation, resulting in the maiming and killing of many. Officer Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg), demoted to crowd control after excessive force in his work, is thrust into the centre of this terrible madness, and forced to keep a level head as a city wide manhunt for the evil pair ensues, culminating in a dramatic shoot out between them and experienced Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons) that brought them down.

With the dust from their previous collaboration, the similarly real life centred oil rig drama Deepwater Horizon (also, similarly, about comparatively recent events), barely brushed off their chests, director/screenwriter Peter Berg and lead actor Mark Wahlberg have once again joined forces to deliver Patriots Day, an unflinching dramatisation of the April 2013 Boston bombings, that has sparked some notoriety for being made so fairly soon after the tragedy happened. Whatever your thoughts on this, Berg has certainly done the victims justice in terms of portraying the raw human physical and emotional suffering that happened after the attacks, never allowing you to be entertained and just soberly reflect on what happened. Aside from this, how far it tows the line between Hollywood sensationalism and real life depiction is in constant flux.

Not having gotten round to seeing Deepwater Horizon just yet, I'm unable to comment on Wahlberg's conviction as an oil rig worker, but he embodies the role of a Boston police officer perfectly, breezing through the part as a rough around the edges, self depreciating, foul mouthed blue collar guy, whose reactions to the events that unfold around him seem uncomfortably accurate. But in far more of a supporting role, it is Simmons who has the pivotal part, as the experienced, world weary sergeant whose exploits brought the killers down in real life. In the roles of the evil doers, Melikidize is impressively cold, joyless and drained as the domineering older brother of the two, complimented by Wolff as the eager protégé. In other supporting roles, Michelle Monaghan is Wahlberg's wife and a seriously slimmed down John Goodman works with Kevin Bacon as procedural FBI guys.

Understandably for some, it may be too much, but it can't be accused of doing the victims a disservice, creating perfectly real human characters and dramatisation that cause you to reflect rather than enjoy yourself. ****

The Witch (2015)
Brave, ambitious horror film-making, which may be lost to some, 27 February 2017

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

1630, rural England. A devout Christian family find themselves banished by the elders of their local community, on account of their father William's (Ralph Ineson) puritanical, uncompromising religious ways, into the wilderness. They set up a home in the forest, and live their lives strictly in accordance with the teachings of the Bible. But then, a mysterious curse seems to befall them, where their crops fail and the infant child of the family disappears into thin air. The family find their dynamics closing in on each other, with accusations flying around, culminating in daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) being accused of practising witchcraft.

Of all the genres, in recent times, horror is probably a strong contender for the one that's become the most stale and stagnant, a field that's become over loaded with remakes or original work that's highly derivative of other works that's gone before, and it's all become pretty samey and interchangeable. And so it's refreshing, at least, that feature length debut director Robert Eggers has delivered something like The Witch, a period horror piece that takes us back to the times of Ye Olde England, and drowns us in dialogue that recreates to a tee the spoken dialect of the time, a move that will wrap up and captivate many, and will sadly make it impenetrable for just as many others.

If the dialogue and text is something the average viewer might struggle to get their head around, one thing that will manage to appeal to horror aficionados of all ranges is the beautiful, perfectly creepy and unsettling sense of atmosphere, with the dense, barren forest and the thick, glimmering mist used to beautifully haunting, spooky effect, complimented by a soundtrack that jeeps and jars at just the right times for maximum effect. In the lead role, Ineson's gravelly Yorkshire drawl lends his spoken dialogue an added air of vitality. The climax sacrifices solving the mystery of the missing child for something more startling and ambiguous.

In an age where the average horror flick seems to think frequent jump scares, excessive gore, young teen stars with questionable acting skills being chased and a whiny grunge soundtrack playing over the end credits is enough, it's certainly a breath of fresh air for something like The Witch to come along, and receive a lot of the acclaim it has. And deservedly so, if only so much of the historical recreation wouldn't have proved so overwhelming to so many. ****

An interesting and appealing drama, if a little under cooked, 20 February 2017

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

In the early 1950s, salesman Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is travelling around America trying to sell his milkshake machine to various catering establishments, with no success. Then he stumbles upon the McDonald's restaurant, run by brothers Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch), who have developed a magnificent system that allows burgers, fries and beverages to be mass produced in record time. Initially, they establish a working bond together, but eventually Ray's ruthlessness and cut throat mentality come to rob the brothers of everything they worked for.

If the history of McDonald's has no bearing on you, its legacy certainly does. Today, the franchise food chain will almost certainly have a branch on every high street or major retail outlet across the country, wherever you are, and they continue to be manned mainly by low income teenagers barely paid the minimum wage, whose exploitation has been highlighted over the years, just as they were when they started nearly half a century ago. Given this massive cultural impact that it's sustained, a dramatisation of how it all began certainly provides interesting food for thought (no pun intended.) And the name Ray Kroc sparked my attention even more, as I remembered hearing his name in Food Technology class many years ago. Given his depiction in this biopic, his name may even have come to have been used to coin such derogatory terms as 'what a kroc' and 'kroc of sh!t.'

In the lead role, Keaton slips into another dynamic powerhouse role, as a man determined to succeed and driven by his theory of 'create supply and demand will follow.' Kroc is a petulant, spiteful character, who is anguished that two other people have adopted this idea and had far more success with it before him, and feeling that he is owed something, hones in like a snarling vulture on their more gentle, passive nature to take it from them. He is certainly a great example of the 'American Dream' gone bad, and John Lee Hancock's film provides a sterling show of how it all began, but you wish a little bit had gone into what it developed into, and how it was ingrained into the public conscious a little more (Ronald McDonald is not even mentioned!), and its present day position after the healthy eating scare, all of which would have given it that little extra vitality.

It's generally well made, deftly acted and engaging, but, all the same, if it were a Big Mac you were nibbling on in one of those many McDonald's franchise outlets, you'd probably still send it back for being slightly underdone. ***

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Well made and hauntingly accurate real life portrayal, 19 February 2017

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

A dramatisation of the real life tale of Shannon Matthews, a nine year old girl from the Dewsbury area of Yorkshire, who went missing for a short while in early 2008, and sparked a nationwide appeal for her safe return (but received substantially less coverage than Madeleine McCann, from a more affluent background...but who's never been found.) Julie Bushby (Sheridan Smith), a close friend of Shannon's wayward mother Karen (Gemma Whelan), spearheaded the local community into action, and all the local residents turned out to look for Shannon in a unified show of solidarity, while Karen's behaviour was just disinterested and odd. Eventually, in what appeared to be a rare happy ending for this type of case, Shannon was found...but the truth, in it's own way, was as earth shattering as if she hadn't, when it was discovered Shannon had been abducted by her own mother and her friend Michael Donavan (Sam Chapman), while her current partner Craig Meehan (Tom Hansen) was arrested for possessing child pornography.

There are many who subscribe to the mediums of film and television, strictly as a means of escapism, to retreat into a world of fantasy, with limitless possibilities and an almost certainly predetermined happy ending. There is not much interest, from these people, in seeing re-enactments of tales constrained by the boundaries of real life, even happy tales, played out with all the grubby, unavoidable trappings of reality. A tale set somewhere like Dewsbury Moor, a place that perfectly encapsulates the gritty, unglamorous surroundings/way of life that are probably the norm for a no doubt many unidentified number among us. In bringing this dramatisation to the screen. director Paul Whittington has shoved this bleak landscape straight in our face and left us to witness the car crash that proceeded.

In what appears to be the most meagre common ground with a fantasy film as opposed to the hard, brutal depiction of reality that it is, the lead character is the good guy, or certainly the person with the most noble intentions, even at the expense of not really being the main antagonist of the story. In this role, as the bright, bubbly spark of flickering decency in a sea of relentlessly, depressingly immoral, grubby people, Sheridan Smith truly exemplifies what a terrific actress she is, demonstrating her ability to transform and really immerse herself into any role she's doing, and really bringing the character of Julie Bushby to life like no other. The supporting performers are also strikingly accurate, but it is truly her who steals the show.

The dichotomy of Matthews is simply as a figure who took dysfunctional to a whole new level, who skipped her appearance on The Jeremy Kyle Show and gained public notoriety in a different, far more shocking way. The Daily Mail/Tory Party would probably have you believe she's symptomatic of hundreds of others across the country, and while that's most likely very debatable, this is still a well made and hauntingly accurate portrayal, spread out over two series, of a case that'll probably never be forgotten. *****

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Enlightening, thorough documentary with strong food for thought, 8 February 2017

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

Seasoned journalist John Pilger casts a light on the amount of US Naval Bases situated around China and the amount of warships pointing in their direction, and the globally catastrophic consequences this hostility could create. He charts the shameful, untold history of the US army's activities on the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific, where they were lied to about chemical testing and the terrible consequences it's had years later, as well as revealing how General Mao may not have been the monster the imperialist west made him out to be.

China is certainly the main contender looking to take it's shot at being top boy on the world stage, from trade to military might, but it seems the almighty US of A doesn't want to go down without a fight, and, knowing its enemy, is aggressively trying to keep it in its place. At least that's the picture that director John Pilger is trying to portray, and although he offers alternative viewpoints to speak their mind, it's clear throughout which country he thinks is most to blame for this feud. At any rate, he's certainly produced something that is a contrary assault on the western media's presentation of Chinese life under a 'communist' regime.

Pilger highlights what could only be described as one of the US's dirty little secrets, questionable testing on minuscule little islands tucked out of sight off the coast of China, where untold damage was inflicted in pursuit of a rich, powerful countries aggressive expansion. Not being familiar with any of his work before, it's hard to know if any political affiliation is swaying his views, but he's certainly created a well researched and eye opening documentary that just about manages to excuse the just under two hour running time.

An absorbing and, ultimately, chilling account of what may be to come. ****

Split (2016/IX)
2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
A fairly decent Shyamalan film, but that's faint praise, 2 February 2017

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

A trio of girls find themselves abducted from a shopping mall by Dennis (James McAvoy), a man with Disassociative Personality Disorder, who is struggling with twenty three different personalities and who the girls must try and escape from before the 'monsterous' twenty fourth personality emerges.

After really disliking 2006's Lady in the Water, I became quite averse to M Night Shyamalan (wasn't a great fan to begin with, really) and after avoiding 2008's critically savaged The Happening never bothered with any of his work again. This has come to an end with Split, an intriguing psychological thriller that taps into the world of multiple personality disorders and unlocks the potential that this condition has for a thriller. While signs (or Signs!) of his Sixth Sense promise do shine through, it's still all a pretty hit and miss affair with some major flaws.

In what's at the very least a challenging performance, James McAvoy has to portray twenty three different characters inhabiting one body and mind, and yes, as others have noted, he does do a pretty brilliant job, especially with such a heavy workload on him. Although the character's motives for the multiple kidnappings or his ability to carry them out with such an affliction does make you wonder, before it builds up to a nonsensical ending where he's turned into some werewolf type thing, that messy, self indulgent and overly labourious.

Although it's just slightly above rather than below average, to be honest 2003's Identity took this concept of a psychotic multiple personality and worked it to much better effect, and in half the time of Shyamalan's skin of the teeth comeback. ***

Page 1 of 161:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]