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12 reviews in total 
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Tepid but competent sequel, 29 August 2016

This sequel to Spud follows the same group of boys at their South African boarding school as the country navigates its way out of apartheid. The searing political backdrop is occasional mentioned but mostly ignored and the film focus is instead on the teenage growing pains of the titular character.

Where the first film explored the complex social relationships at such an establishment this sequel skips straight to escapades and actions. This distances you from the characters, less bought into their situation and potential outcomes and instead watching remotely as a potentially disinterested observer.

The escapades range in scale but are often tinged in nastiness. The bullying is sharper, more malicious in nature and has far greater consequences.

I left the film with less sympathy for Spud and his fellow students than I entered it, and less entertained than the first film had left me hoping. On the whole a misfire, lets hope Spud 3 resolves these challenges.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One sided look at 'Cop Watchers', 22 August 2016

This documentary mixes footage from 'cop watchers' with interviews and footage of those same people in New York.

The general theme is one of denigrating the NYPD, highlighting specific examples of perceived abusive behaviour and the impacts it has on individuals involved.

What's missing is any semblance of balance. Although two NYPD members are interviewed neither is in a position to represent the organisation and their inclusion is constrained to support the documentary narrative. No visible attempts or quotes come from New York officials, police or otherwise; all the footage and interviews are with the perceived recipients of injustice.

Although there may be an issue with the NYPD and some of the scenes are not pleasant and do infer a behavioural challenge, ultimately this is a propaganda piece, biased in its outlook, biased in its presentation and doing a disservice to the very people that contributed to it.

It's a shame, there is material here that could have become a good documentary. Better journalistic investigation, proper interviews with officials and even a delay in release so that story arcs could be completed would have made this a far stronger piece of work. In its current form, it can't be recommended.

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Astonishingly awful, 18 March 2013

Dance movies are simple, and generally good fun. You expect a strong lead, gets embarrassed, pulls together a crew, tracks down that one missing ingredient, falls in love with her, loses the crew, regains the crew and beats the opposition in one big massive dance-off. Works that way in the Streetdance franchise, the Step-Up franchise, even Bring It On.

But not here. It's lovely to see a dance film step (skip, somersault?) away from the generic plot line, experiment, do something new.

Unfortunately The LXD: The Secrets of the Ra forgot to replace the generic plot with any sort of plot. It forgets to replace the big dance-off set pieces with beautifully choreographed demonstrations of high quality dancing. It doesn't even have dialogue.

Instead there is an incredibly disjointed series of set pieces, in which individuals do a few seconds of acrobatics. Sometimes someone else is involved. A few times there were actually coordinated choreographed pieces of dancing, but frankly I've seen better from the local Gilbert & Sullivan Society. A lot better.

Much of the dancing isn't done to music. There may be sound, but it's seldom actual music, and it's even rarer that the movements on-screen actually acknowledge the music.

So the plot's non-existent, the dancing's awful, but what about the actors: There aren't any. There _may_ be some acting in this film, but if so it was hidden well.

As for the cinematography, it's tough to call. The decision to heavily overexpose windows, doors, light wells - any light source - must have been intentional, and may well work for some people. I found it distracting, it prevented properly seeing the activity in the foreground and it wasn't the greatest of the technical issues for the film.

Finally, the set design. The plot less disjointed set pieces all had their own sets, themed around common film genres: The museum, the ship, the school, the factory, the saloon. Quite why any given theme was chosen was never explained, and none of them fit together.

Taken individually though, the set designs were quite good. So at least one thing in the film wasn't utterly terrible. Shame about the rest of it.

Second Sight (2007) (TV)
7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Very much worth avoiding, 18 April 2009

Second Sight isn't a bad film as such; it just isn't any good. Easily identifiable as a TV movie it's competently created, the acting is fine and the camera moves well. However, a film like this relies on tension. Second Sight has no pretences at being an action film, has minimal (intentional) comedy and instead seeks to entertain through drama and intrigue.

Unfortunately the characters fail to draw your attention, or sympathy, the plot is at best tenuous and the editing is frankly poor. While the dialogue is uninspired, the music is a bad identikit "cheap TV movie drama" collection that would have felt derivative in the 1970s.

In all, this is a film that is very much worth skipping.

They should have made this a 2 hour film, 22 December 2005

Short films have no time to provide a back story, to do more than touch briefly on the life of their participants. Within that constraint, some short films don't try and pull together all the threads, answer all the questions.

This is such a film. In just a few short minutes we find out so much about Anis; at the same time, many questions are posed. To tie everything together, to explore the situation to its fullest would take an entire full length feature - maybe a mini-series on TV.

Instead just one thread is explored. It is beautifully filmed, acted sensitively, and leaves you wanting to know what happens next, how things turn out.

That's probably why I gave this film less than a top class rating. It isn't dissatisfaction with the film, more a disappointment that it ended, that I have been left with so many questions.

As with the very best short films, this one I shall remember. And not just because of the beautiful neighbour.

In the Dark (2004/I)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
subdued and intense, 21 December 2005

This is a very long short film, and yet less happens than in most shorts.

Anne Coesens plays a very understated middle-aged woman in this film that explores a tiny portion of her (apparently) troubled life, involving her neighbour.

The film contains minimal dialogue, which matches its very subdued lighting. Attention is demanded, as much of the tale is portrayed through glances, facial reactions, subtle responses. This adds realism, gives the film a very compelling reality, and draws the viewer in.

Anne Coezens seems perhaps over-acting in her portrayal of disability, but after the first couple of minutes this doesn't matter, and the rest of the film focuses entirely on emotion and interaction, almost ignoring the physical flaw that leaves her so desperate and seemingly vulnerable.

I liked this film. Exceedingly little happens, and what does occur is very understated. There's no great denouement involved, no sense of catharsis for the viewer, but also no disappointment, no lack of fulfilment for watching the film.

Perhaps this film could only be done in French; to produce it in English may lose its hidden passion, it's sense of self, all reason for its being. Despite, or maybe because of, its subtitles, I found myself gripped, from start to end, and enjoyed the experience. I am left thoughtful, and slightly attracted to Anne Coesens, and want to go back to the world portrayed and see more of it. Watch this film, expect little, and enjoy what is shown to you.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Fantastic skills; shame about the film, 20 December 2005

This film is really just an excuse to show off the skills of its stars. And they are immensely talented, with quite magical skill.

A simple premise, perhaps inspired by TV adverts also starring Edgar Davids, but ultimately too simple, inadequately explored. I wanted more from the film than just showing off the talents of the cast. Those talents would be better served as half-time entertainment in the final of a major tournament.

There is minimal dialogue in the film; there's minimal acting really too. This sparsity helps focus on the skills on display; regrettably it also highlights how little happens in this short film.

Watch it anyway - or fly to Holland and seek out these people. They are something to behold.

Yellow (1998/II)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A bit of a 'nothing' film, 9 January 2005

This short film challenges the viewer. It forces them to ask why they watched it, and indeed, why it was made.

It's not that it's badly filmed, and the acting is competent enough. It just doesn't have a story. There's almost a story there, but it never really develops.

The makers of the film clearly tried in several places to lead the viewer astray, hinting that there might actually be a story in there. Some of those leads, had they been taken through to fruition, may have led to an interesting and thought provoking film.

There is also nothing to help you identify with any of the characters. They can be summed up as 'woman', 'man' and 'girl'. That's as much character development as you get. By the time you think there's genuine peril for any of them, I found myself not really caring.

This short film could easily have become a single scene in a longer film. It would fit superbly in the average Mike Leigh film. But he'd have given you well-developed people to watch, and there'd have been a point to the scene. Without those, it's just a bland filler, worth avoiding.

3 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Lacks storyline, 15 December 2004

This short film is professionally enough filmed, and as a showcase for the skills of its makers is extremely effective.

Unfortunately for the casual viewer it fails to deliver. Although the story drags you in initially, it seems to founder, and you finish thinking there should have been something more.

The base premise is actually good; there is much scope for introducing tension, and some obvious story twists that could be included. Perhaps credit should be given for skipping the typical clichés, but nonetheless something more was needed.

I certainly don't recommend that people go out of their way to see this short; however, don't be surprised if the makers go on to bigger and better things.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Very simple film, 2 September 2004

Filmed with a predominantly stationary camera, The Platform comes across as a B- effort in the final year at film school.

There's nothing really wrong with any of the film; there's just little to write home about.

As a (very) short film it's impossible to describe the plot without giving it away. Suffice to note that it is well executed, with a mix of suspense and humour let down only by a sense of what is going to happen next.

Alas, the film ended just as it had the chance to get very amusing - perhaps an opportunity for a sequel?

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