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31 reviews in total 
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Disco Pigs (2001)
8 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Thumbs down, I'm afraid., 17 October 2001

Disco Pigs has a wonderful beginning. Our heroine narrates as she escapes from her mother's womb. Her narration is wonderfully bitter about coming into the dreaded world. The images are startlingly original; the babies large eyes comparable with the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. We meet the baby's mother and father who, we're told, will never be as happy as they are at that moment. Then the baby is laid to rest. It starts to cry but stops when it sees a crying baby next to it. The neighbouring baby stops crying. The infants stare at each other, put their hands out and hold hands. I don't know how this scene was achieved. I can imagine recently born babies aren't easy to direct. What I do know is that this is a remarkably effective opening. One of the best and most original I've seen.

Unfortunately, the remainder of the film is not so great. It tries hard and its young director clearly adores the source material but it is this material that's the problem. There's very little new here. And the characters often let themselves down with strange shifts in their traits. For example, the bitter narration I've just spoken about is conducted by Sinead (Runt), the female lead. She's never as bitter again as she is at the beginning. It's a shame the movie focuses on her character at the start. It should have concentrated its efforts on Pig (played by the remarkable Cillian Murphy). His motivations are far more realised. Runt is a much shadier character and the audience never really understands her. Why does she not take to Pig? Why does she take to the bartender, is it his almost illiteracy or his red jumper? Is she gay? Does she fall in love with her roommate?

Comparisons to A Clockwork Orange or The Butcher Boy are unfair. It doesn't possess the soul of either of these. In fact, the violence here is far more sickening because its so gratuitous. Comparisons to Heavenly Creatures are more apt, but that movie was based on a true story, a trait this movie seems to think it has.

The acting from the leads especially Murphy is very solid, though he has a tendency to mumble. They both have a strong screen presence. The direction from Kirsten Sheridan is inconsistent. The beginning is fantastic and flashback scenes seeing the pair as children are equally remarkable but she chooses cliched editing for the disco scenes and leaves in a soliloquoy which betrays the films stage origins and leaves the audience desperately uncomfortable. Otherwise, she has plenty of potential.

Lastly, Disco Pigs was the first film I've seen that focuses for a large part on my native city. It was wonderful to see and I hope to see more. Sheridan though seems to have missed a few geography lessons. When Pig takes the bus from Cork, the film cuts to him on the bus and back to an establishing shot of a restaurant that's in Cork, he then hitchhikes to Donegal, which is about a five hour drive, then miraculously arrives back in Cork, all in the space of a day. Goofs aplenty.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fonzilicious, 5 January 2001

Where would the world be without Fonzie? Pretty much the same place, I suppose, but the character remains special all the same. He was a superhero in a leather jacket. When Ralph, Potsie or Richie were in trouble 'The Fonz' would come to the rescue. Henry Winkler was cool, Henry Winkler was slick, Henry Winkler was the Fonz.

Winkler never did outgrow this role. In fact, he stayed in it far too long. The later episodes of Happy Days retain some of the magic of the earlier episodes but the Fonz is a caricature of his former self. His gut sticks out through his shirt; the guys look up to him because he's a teacher, not because he's cool; he still has the catchphrases but not a lot of the charm.

This is the only fault of Happy Days which was a remarkably innocent memory of the 1950's. I somehow doubt the 50's were this wholesome but the show was entertaining. The jokes rarely fell flat and the acting was strong, especially Tom Bosley, Winkler and Ron Howard. However, the show outstayed its welcome. When Fonz became the star, the show deteriorated. Sure, Chachi was appealing but Fonz should never be a lead. He was the supporting character. He was the guy who saved the day; not the guy who needed to be saved.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
I'll have a B please Bob!, 2 January 2001

In the UK, everybody knows the quiz show Blockbusters. All you have to say to remind them of the show is: "I'll have a P please Bob". The Bob referred to the host Bob Holness who gained quite a large following, during the running of this quality quiz show. Watching the new Blockbusters hosted now by the lively Lisa Tarbuck, it seems that Bob wasn't the only reason behind Blockbuster's success.

The format is wacky. Two players play against one play in a strange game of hexagonal tic-tac-toe. The game board has been cleverly designed so that every game has a winner. The winners then try to win the Gold Run for a pretty generous prize.

The quiz is quick and entertaining even when the guests are not. The host keeps things moving. Both Holness and Tarbuck are blessed with sure-fire wits that keep the game interesting. The questions are often difficult. Each answer beginning of course with a different letter. I don't know if it ever made it to the shores of the USA but it stamped itself on the culture of Britain for sure.

Remarkable, 29 December 2000

The Simpsons began as an animated version of the stereotypical dysfunctional American family. Lazy father, weary mother, troublesome son, prodigal daughter and of course, the baby. Fortunately it has been allowed to develop into something more. The show has expanded to include a whole community of characters. No other show can claim to have as many characters developed than the Simpsons. It is this that makes the show special. That, and Homer.

Homer is the star. It's hard to argue this point. Though the show originally had Bart at its centre, the writers found that they could only milk so much comedy from an 8 year old boy. Homer was a much bigger cow to milk and so they grabbed his udder. 11 years later, it has yet to run dry.

Homer started as the archetypical angry family man. It is difficult to watch an early episode where Homer tries desperately to improve the family - this is more Marge's business. Homer grew into the lovable goof that he is today. He loves his family sure but he's not afraid to choke the boy if the does something wrong. It is from Homer that the rest of the community has been developed. Apu, whose role increases every season, has been allowed numerous conversations with Homer. Mr Burns and Smithers, Lenny, Carl all work with Homer. And Moe and Barney provide comic relief at Moe's Tavern, Homer's second home.

The Simpsons is classic comedy. Homer is the classic leading man. He doesn't know that he's funny. He doesn't want to be funny. But he is; and so is the Simpsons.

13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
True Lives, 11 December 2000

The Royle Family is successful because it's true. Political-correctness is non-existent in this household as it is in most. The dwelling is a mess. Who's house isn't? And the dialogue is never intelligent. It's silly, it's crude, but because it touches so close to reality, it's very, very funny.

Performances are perfect. The script is dead-on. The direction is perfect in that it is unobtrusive.

It is a strange ride watching the Royles. Most episodes are set entirely in front of the TV screen. So it often becomes a "Truman Show" experience as the Camera seems to be placed in the TV. Their lives are so real. And it is filmed in documentary style. It is the ultimate voyeuristic experience.

Royle Family is a remarkable TV show. There is none like it. The fact that only six episodes are created a year helps to keep the show fresh. We will never become bored of these characters. Far from it. We would love to see more of this household.

I urge you to watch an episode. From start to finish. There won't be any big scene to catch your attention but the entire episode will keep you entertained. And when the credits roll I guarantee you'll miss them when they're gone.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A true story? Yeah right., 10 August 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Okay there was a storm; a pretty major storm in 1991 and 6 fishermen died out there. That part of the movie was true but the most intense and best parts of the movie are complete fiction. What happened to the fishermen? Nobody knows this.

Petersen and his writer come up with an action adventure flick that works. The action is exciting. We care enough about the characters to make it interesting. The special effects are amazing. Wow! Can you imagine being out at sea in a storm like that? I wouldn't need to drown, I would have a heart attack.

However there are problems. The dialogue is rubbish and the director fails to make any of the relationship's any bit touching. Mark Wahlberg (impressive) and Diane Lane's (not so impressive) relationship gets the most screen time but she is a thinly drawn character that we don't care for. George Clooney gives a fine performance as he underplays the role of the Skipper beautifully but his so-called relationship with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is much like their sea adventure; a disaster. Were they lovers? Were they friends? Her tears at the end suggests the former. Also Bugsy's relationship is laughable. He meets a woman the night before he leaves and we are expected to believe that because they barely spoke one night that she is in love with him and she is going to miss him for eternity. PLEASE!

This film is based on a true story. We are told this at the beginning and though the word "based" must be taken into consideration, I was disappointed that nobody survived because 75% of the movie takes place out on that boat and there is no chance in hell that we know what honestly happened out there.

** (out of four)

Witness (1985)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An unstereotypical view of a very misunderstood culture., 9 July 2000

The Omish are a strange culture who have been tormented for having such a backward way of living. The movies are as much to blame for this torment as anyone. Kingpin anyone? I'm not complaining about the Farrelly Brother's farce, it was undoubtedly funny but I needed a less stereotypical view to better understand this misunderstood culture.

Peter Weir's "Witness" is such a movie. He accomplishes a lot in this picture. He has a fine romance, some accomplished action and expert acting. However, the movie succeeds most in its depiction of the Omish people. Their very religious ways were greatly contrasted with the ordinary way of living. Weir doesn't preach however that their way is better, he gives an objective view. Weir highlights their sensitive culture but his praise of it in the beautiful barnraising sequence is contrasted by the obvious taunts of their unbelievable stubborness to enter the twentieth century.

I admire Weir's unpredictability as a filmmaker. It seemed obvious to me that one of the Omish would become jealous of Harrison Ford's character but it never happened. I was surprised that the bad guy didn't struggle more at the end. I was surprised throughout.

The movie was in no way conventional but in some ways this let it down. It has dramatic elements but as a whole not a lot happens. The characters are strong and the acting is great but the plot itself is shallow. Sure the police corruption is a nice touch, but perhaps more of the movie could have been used to highlight the obvious culture clash.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A Patience Tester!, 8 July 2000

Mission: Impossible 2 fails in almost every aspect. It is a run of the mill action flick not a Mission Impossible movie. A Mission Impossible film has to have twists galore; surprises that don't make sense; a plot that nobody understands. Kudos to Brian De Palma. He got the genre spot on with Mission: Impossible and he was then able to flex his action biceps with the terrific train sequence and the awe-inspiring entry into the security vault. There was a romantic element to his movie also but it was always a supporting character. It aided but did not interfere with the spy movie.

M:I2 wasn't even a spy movie. It was a romance first and an action movie second. The romance was destroyed by the weak nature of Thandie Newton's character. Though she began the movie as a superior thief, she quickly was reduced to no more than a damsel for Tom Cruise to heroically save.

The action was also inferior to De Palma's version. Frankly, John Woo bores me. His incessant slow-motion shots were tiresome and what is his obsession with pigeons? The teaser before the credits was well done as was the rock-climbing sequence but the car chase and the overlong motor-race cum fight was to put it bluntly boring.

Who cares if Cruise did all his own stunts? There weren't that many to do in the first place. I'm not bitter towards Cruise, in fact he is possibly my favourite actor when he is in a worthy movie (EYES WIDE SHUT), however this movie reaks of his interference as producer and if he did greatly interfere then his own vanity may have destroyed what could have been a successful franchise.

Not a horror, it's a scary drama!!, 13 November 1999

Sixth Sense is not a horror film. It's about ghosts and possesses a number of shocks that will levitate you from your seat but it's not a horror movie. This is a drama about a kid who can see the dead and the psychologist that tries to help him.

The film opens with Bruce Willis and his wife (Olivia Williams) celebrating his achievement of winning an award for outstanding work as a child psychologist. The night is interrupted by a former patient who Willis failed to help. He attacks Willis before killing himself.

A year on and Willis has a new patient named Cole played by the outstanding Haley Joel Osment. Willis sees in Osment a chance to make amends for the patient who he let down a number of years ago. From here on there are two plots both revolving about a family. The most interesting of which is that of Osment's. He keeps many secrets and refuses to tell his mother. He confides in Willis; he has got an ability to see the living dead. This ability has to be the most frightening that a child would ever have to face. The other less interesting plot concerns Willis and his wife who seem to be be growing apart.

M. Night Shyamalan proves himself capable as both writer and director. He uses strange camera angles to suggest the eerie nature of Osment's dilemma. His writing is also adept; it is surely Oscar-nominated material. The opening 45 minutes are quitely effective before the film really grips you. The finale is successful in what it does. It was purely designed to promote the film's chances at the box office, and it seems to have worked.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Analyzing the movie..., 6 November 1999

The preview for Analyze This was misleading. I expected a laugh a second riot, what I got was a more thoughtful, serious movie but not a more successful one.

Analyze this possesses more dramatic than comedic scenes. It was advertised as a comedy but is more than that. However, myself and the other people at the cinema were unsure whether to laugh or not at some situations - especially when Robert De Niro's character starts to cry. Here is a fully grown man that has a reputation for being vicious and he is shedding tears like a baby - surely we must laugh. But we recognise this guy has serious psychological problems and we find it hard to. Not too long ago I saw Raging Bull. De Niro's crying in this movie is similar. It seems rather comic the way he blubbers but it's realistic.

De Niro is the star of this movie. His acting is spot on. He is adept at both comedy and drama. We feel for him. He is in an awful tough situation. He is expected to be strong but he can't. De Niro never parodies the situation. His action and especially his language are as violent as most of his other gangster movies.

Crystal fares well in his first good role in years. It is more than a supporting role but he is pushed back to that by the conviction of De Niro. He does have a number of laugh out loud moments especially when he is treating other patients or when he is parodying a gangster near the end.

The direction by Ramis is less than successful. There are a number of throwaway plots and Lisa Kudrow is used too sparingly. The opening scenes are ineffective - the movie takes an age to get into - but the acting saves it.

It's a good movie but unfortunately it's too easy to "forget about it".

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