Reviews written by registered user
|72 reviews in total|
I first saw this at the 2002 Wellington film festival and it didn't make a lot of impact then, but watching it again on cable impressed just how well written it is, and the lead character Jessica Stein is so delightfully played. None of the characters are too goofy or silly, something which spoils many American comedies. "Sex and the City" must have been an influence on the scriptwriters/lead actresses but this is different, and the lesbian (or more correctly bi-sexual) theme makes a refreshing change from the usual, and should appeal to straight men as much as bi's (in fact the reasons why this should be the case are addressed directly in a scene in a bar). In all it's very well done.
This is one of those films that succeeds on the strength of its characterisation rather than on anything else. The script is so simple as to be plausible, although there are still things that made me wonder: doesn't Fin have any belongings prior to moving into the depot? Isn't walking over railway ballast for any distance quite uncomfortable and doesn't the railway company care about this practice? Isn't it a rather too tranquil spot to have a profitable hot dog stand? And why are Joe, Olivia, Emily etc so endeared to Fin when he is so asocial? Still go and see it, it's an enjoyable change from Hollywood, and who knows there may be part 2 of the story.
Those into 1940s period atmosphere and those interested in classic cars should like this. There's plenty of nice clothes, colors, swing music and of course cars. Jeff Bridge's portrayal of Tucker is charming even if it doesn't quite ring true. And maybe Vera Tucker was as sexy as Joan Allen. The problem is that the real story is a bit different from this typically Hollywood camped up version. Tucker was ambitious and daring but took on more than he could succeed with for technical and practical reasons in the time period that he set himself. The SEC took him and five associates to court because his cars didn't have all the technical features that he had promised investors in his prospectus they would. That stymied his ability to raise the money he needed to produce the 300,000 cars he had orders for. It was not a case of the "big three" motor companies acting to crush him - in fact Ford gave him steering wheels for the Lincoln Zephyr as a gesture of help. The legacy is those attractive 51 cars that were produced which are today very highly valued.
Near the end there is a comment by the lead character: "logic is overrated". Which seems to sum up the attitude of the script writer: let's not worry about any of this making too much sense, let's fill it with in-your-face shock horror elements that people who like this genre seem to expect. Thus, on a dark and stormy night in a macabre institution full of loonies where the electricity doesn't work too well... However, cast and crew overall do a good job with what they have to work with. And I kinda liked the notion of a psychiatrist being incarcerated in her own institution...
It's as if the screenwriter/director has carefully selected ingredients for
a great cake but which doesn't turn out right after baking. In the credits
at the end there is a comment that the film is based on the book but
"characters have been fictionalized for dramatic effect" which leaves you
wondering what it might have been like if the book had been adhered to more
closely. The Tuscan landscape is nice (if overrated in reality) and the
townscapes of Cortona and Positano are lovely. But you wonder why the lead
character would want to buy to a decripit old villa in the first place,
except perhaps to get as far away as she can from her girlfriends in SF
which given their portrayal is understandable - except that one shows up
again, pregnant, to have a baby in Florence. Later a hack author from her
home country whose book she has written a poor review of turns up to say
friendly hello...oh yeah? Marcello, the archetypal latin lover, is
certainly cause for enthusiasm - but she doesn't see him for weeks at a
time, with the not unexpected consequence. The romance between two
secondary characters is skimmed over rather quickly, this again could have
been made more of. There are irksome scenes which seem to have been thrown
in on the screenwriter/director's whim - lightning bodily lifting a
refrigerator and a snake slithering up a vine into a bedroom window being
the worst. An allegory about a railway built through the Semmering Pass
south of Vienna before it connected to anything is mentioned more than once,
and then we are shown a scene of the Rhaetian railway in Switzerland!
Identifying all the shortcomings and faults would fill a book (many are commented on by others) but suffice to say this drama/comedy/romance/travelog mix doesn't work well.
Rumours that Hollywood is going to give this superb film its remake treatment are a cause for real concern - there are so many examples of ruining classic films from other countries (and even old American ones)just to make a fast buck ("The Vanishing" "Open Your Eyes" "Psycho" to name just three of a very long list), that it's sure to be the case with this one too. The film's ending is deservedly the number one cause for favourable comment, with the scene of nude Britt Ekland singing and dancing in her bedroom the next, but there's plenty of other aspects about the film that just makes it better with every viewing, not least of them being the settings, the costumes and the cinematography. The island that the police sergeant flies out to seems not to have caught up with the 20th century - no sign of cars, telephones, televisions... an explanation perhaps for its clinging to Celtic paganism. Admittedly there are problems with the script if you think about them - for example, how do the islanders even know about this low ranking policeman to send him an invitation in the first place? But overall there aren't too many. It's almost impossible to imagine how this subtle and absorbing exploration of aspects of Celtic history will survive the sledgehammer treatment of Hollywood.
It doesn't take much thinking about the porn industry to realise that the issues involved with it are complex. To its credit this film manges to present most of the issues lucidly and without moralising. There are a heap of problems with the coherence and logic of the script, but the characters are strong and credible, which helps to overcome this to some extent. The film attempts to analyse users and makers of, and participants in, porno videos and continues with this as the theme throughout until the concocted ending, which like a few other situations within the plot (for example the arranged second meeting with the girl in the park) is quite irritating. No doubt like a lot of other viewers I kind of wish that I could have taken the script and ironed out the problems with it, as it does have a lot of strengths.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although often people regard the Australian outback as featureless and uninteresting, the cinematography of this film, shot in and featuring the Flinders Range in South Australia, demonstrates that it has plenty of scenic delights. The first film to feature the same region, the amazing "Walkabout" from 1970, also features the same aboriginal actor in the lead role as the tracker. This time he is much older of course and this time it is also a speaking role. The scenario here is simple and most of the events that occur are believable. The racist attitude of the search party's leader ("the fanatic" - none of the characters are given names) seems rather over-the-top but when it remembered that Aboriginals in Australia were regarded officially as part of the flora and fauna, without the same rights as whites, until 1967, and that in much of Australia in the past they were hunted and shot like wild game, then it is quite plausible (even if rather ill-advised, one would think, given the party's dependence on the tracker). There are however a number of contrivances and flaws - but as mentioning what they are would act rather as spoilers, I wont. I will say, however, that I found the long stills of paintings interupting the action and the singing on the soundtrack intrusive. Obviously the purpose of this film, like "Rabbit Proof Fence" is to put the record straight about how white Australians regarded and treated the indigenous people. So how successful it it? On a scale of 1 to 10 I give the impact of the film overall a 7. Without the singing and the paintings I would have given it a 9.
In a similar format to her earlier "War Stories" documentary, Gaylene Preston interviews former (and one current) air hostess who have worked for Air New Zealand and its predecessors, TEAL and NAC, and splices their comments with a mix of publicity film footage, training film footage and TV news footage. There is little original about any of it - even the title has been used before by at least two other films and a book - and reminiscences of this type from former hostesses have regularly been broadcast on New Zealand National Radio. The themes which are mostly presented here are obviously those of particular interest to the producers, namely feminism, sex discrimination and women's industrial fights. Thus the film is in turn most likely to appeal to similarly interested people - if you are an aviation enthusiast, this isn't a whole lot here for you. There is an adequate amount of time spent about the glamour (or otherwise) of the job, attitudes of male colleagues, uniforms and grooming in the first half; thereafter it generates into a tedious discussion about the union's industrial fights with the airline during the 1980s. If the director and producer had instead continued with presentation of what the air hostesses actually did, how they trained, included the peculiarities of particular aircraft types, interactions with passengers and how the image corresponded with reality this would have been a whole lot more interesting.
The scenes of sexy Sharon Stone getting around in a very short black dress are about the only redeeming feature of this awful movie. The story line is implausible - just one example: the action hero gets to learn from a phone call that the bad guys are coming up the elevator, but he manages in those seconds to drill sufficient explosives in the floor and ceiling that the whole room of the apartment falls into the sea when the bad guys enter it. The director tries to compensate for the script and cardboard cut-out characters by setting off plenty of explosions; yawn. The actors do their best with the atrocious script but to no avail.
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