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penseur

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72 reviews in total 
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Anorak of Fire (1998) (TV)
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
An eccentric film about an eccentric subject, 5 December 2005
7/10

While railway photography as a hobby makes sense, it is harder to comprehend trainspotting, that is writing down train names and numbers as they pass by. The film's portrayal of trainspotters - wearing their anorak "uniforms" - in general as geeks is therefore not without justification. But, one pretty girl (Natalie) who works in a pharmacy takes on a bet from a co-worker that she can entice such a young man, who she obviously fancies, into other pleasures. Wearing a very short black skirt and boots she partially succeeds in a signal box (switch tower) but her ministrations still produce less of a climax for him than some historic passing locomotives. Eventually though, that changes. Trainspotting is not the only thing parodied, among other things, women's obsession with cake decoration is the object of some fun too. But the central action is around the "train spot" and a High Noon style showdown for the fastest spot, one with with a cigar in the corner of his mouth a la Clint Eastwood is quite amusing. Those who like historic trains will enjoy the obvious anachronisms for a setting in the 1990s.

Flightplan (2005)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Script causes it to crash despite valiant efforts, 14 November 2005
4/10

There are several positive aspects to this film - right from the opening surreal scene at a deserted Alexanderplatz U-Bahn station in the centre of Berlin, the film is great visually, if at times a little clichéd. It's well edited, the acting is very good, Jodie Foster of course but also some of the supporting actors too. And the exploration of the initially apparent explanation for the absence of the little girl is worthwhile. But then... well things become frankly silly. Other commentators detail some of the plot holes so I wont repeat their observations, except to say that they get progressively worse towards the end. Overall, it's worth a viewing if there's nothing better on the other channels.

L'enfant (2005)
8 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
An engaging if not entirely convincing drama, 25 July 2005
8/10

*May contain spoilers*

The scenario is one that most people are able to often observe if not relate to themselves: an 18-year-old girl has just had a baby, which she naturally loves but has little money to bring it up. The father, Bruno, her 23-year-old boyfriend, does bring in money but not from any honest endeavor, he considers it much easier to burgle, steal and beg. Briefly fatherhood seems to appeal to him but not for long; his devious mind leads to something scarcely credible: without consulting his girlfriend (Sonia) he decides to sell the baby. That in itself is a simple but attention-assuring premise and the two directors put it on the screen superbly with "reality style" hand-held camera-work using unfiltered natural light, and the editing paces it all just right. These are common techniques nowadays but often they are not well done. Bruno is the central character and is well cast, but the young mother is also important and competently played by a newcomer to the screen (at least IMDb has no other details about her). Some of the plot devices designed to inject tension work superficially but raise question marks on further thought. As examples, why are the 'baby brokers' so keen to conduct the transactions away from Bruno's sight, yet a minute or so later one is happy to reveal himself to demand more cash, and then 2 more later in a bar; just prior to this in the bar Bruno seems a bit quick to engage in a gambling game without finding out what it is; the car chase following the bag snatch on the scooter seems a little contrived, and Sonia's reconciliation with Bruno at the end is quite inconsistent with her attitude earlier. Irrespective of these issues, the film gives a strong didactic message that if you steal, swindle or cheat it's very likely to rebound on you.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Boring but nice visuals, 3 May 2005
5/10

Uninvolving or irritating characters, minimal plot with a few old clichés (e.g. a weakling with acne gets bullied by the Adonises who get the girls, so he takes up weightlifting to fight back; a loudmouthed American eventually has a heart attack - no doubt we are supposed to cheer)... it all soon makes you want to switch channels. However, the sets, settings (both in Paris and in the countryside), decors and photography are lovely and make it worth sticking with. In some respects, without the boorish characters it could just about be the sort of program you could expect to see on the Living Channel. The underground cathedral-like cave shown certainly had my attention.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A fascinating pseudo-documentary, 19 April 2005
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

* MAY CONTAIN A SPOILER * For those wanting something different and are interested in how other peoples of the world live their lives this film has much to be recommended. The title suggests that camel scenes predominate and they do, but it is much more a portrait of lifestyle and culture. The physical environment of Mongolia is harsh and desolate but not unattractive. There is little in the way of modern conveniences for those who live in it, although the "local shopping center" does have a few temptations for those who can afford them. Although nominally a documentary, it is reasonably obvious that this film was scripted to some extent. Other comments here describe what happens accurately, and there little to be added, except that I wonder if the solar powered satellite TV we see fitted to the family's tent at the end constituted the "actors" fees?

Good movie, great car, 10 April 2005
8/10

This was a road movie with a sizable dollop of feminism thrown in which, judging from the comments here, produces a very mixed response in viewers. The general theme appeared first and best in "Vanishing Point" (1971) but there is plenty of originality with this. The screenplay is pretty good although I have a problem with Louise shooting the would-be rapist simply because he was insulting her - surely while holding him at gunpoint she would get Thelma to call the police? You don't just shoot people because you don't like them. And things get silly at the end, but not irritatingly so. The car, a 1966 Ford Thunderbird, is one of the nicest looking from the 1960s, I cringe at the thought of any of them being wrecked.

19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Great period movie, 21 March 2005
9/10

It's easy to appreciate how much of a morale boost to a country sporting victories are in international competition, particularly when that sport is almost the national religion as soccer is throughout Europe. But you don't need to be a soccer fan or a German to appreciate this wonderful film, where the pathos of a bittersweet family reunion when the father comes home from a Soviet work camp after 11 years is as much the centerpiece as the quiet optimism leading to the football win and the joy following it. Obviously Germany in 1954 was a country still rebuilding from its recently shattered past and that feeling is conveyed superbly. The end is charming, in fact the nicest closing scene I can remember.

15 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Meritorious but tries to be something it is not, 18 March 2005
7/10

A successful crime fiction author, Sarah, is suffering from writer's block and needing solitude and a change of scene her publisher suggests she take a spring break in his holiday house in the Luberon part of France, which she does and it seems to be working. Then the publisher's sexpot daughter, Julie, shows up unexpectedly and Sarah finds her presence, let alone pertness and promiscuity, a major irritation. To this point it is all perfectly believable, but then things start to become a little strange and, from a script point of view, rather ad hoc. For example, no explanation is given for Sarah finding one of Julie's bikini bottoms in the garden and why it should result in Sarah rummaging through Julie's belongings. The murder seems clumsy and pointless (and would leave a lot more evidence at the scene than that shown) and the disposal of the body rather pedestrian (not that more inventive methods in real life have prevented detection). The ambiguity presented at the end is designed to make us ponder whether it all really happened or was just a real-time fantasy with the eponymously titled book the result, unfortunately it rather draws attention to the script's shortcomings instead. On the plus side, the casting is good, it is nicely filmed and edited, the location is very pleasant and those who like the poster shouldn't be disappointed.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The car and the scenery are the stars, 16 March 2005
9/10

When I first saw this as a teenager in the 1970s I thought it was a great commercial for a Challenger R/T and it still is - Dodge must have been pleased. The movie owes a lot to "Easy Rider" and a little to "Bullitt" which preceded it, but it set a new benchmark for the road movie genre, one which hasn't been surpassed, although many of the elements have been copied since. The cinematography is simply beautiful, and even if you're not into cars it should be watched for its presentation of the great wide open desert areas of America. It isn't all about speed thrills, there are occasions where Kowalski slows or stops to appreciate forgotten still life and tranquility. From a social perspective it was made at the transition from the 1960s to the 1970s and captures this phase well; the idealism of the "love, peace and good vibes" period was being replaced with something else. I give the movie a 9 overall, it doesn't quite get a 10 because of a few elements - such as the gay robbers - which could have been dropped in favor of developing other aspects more.

A movie of proportions befitting Howard Hughes, 8 March 2005
9/10

This is one of the few movies of recent times that I came out of wanting to see again. While in no way a thorough docudrama of Howard Hughes' life (I recommend viewers at least read the IMDb biographic details of him before seeing the movie) we get a good insight into his complex nature, aspirations and mental problems. His two most most extravagant projects, the movie "Hells Angels" and the Hercules aircraft get the major attention as we would expect, but it is a pity that his role in producing "Scarface" receives only passing mention. Unfortunately I agree with those who say Leonardo di Caprio was the wrong person to cast as Hughes, but he does put in a good performance, while everyone else is superb; I particularly liked Alec Baldwin. Gorgeous sets, costumes and cinematography make it all a sumptuous visual delight which at no time becomes tedious. A must see.


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