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The Score (2001)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Somewhere inside, a better movie was waiting to get out, 12 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While watchable, The Score was ultimately disappointing. I felt a much better movie could have come out of the plot premises, which were genuinely engaging.

The real question for me, which the film left unexplored, is why does a man who has such a lot (tasteful flat, successful restaurant and jazz club, girlfriend he obviously loves, lifestyle in Montreal he evidently enjoys) risk everything to carry out "one last job", in the process breaking all the rules he has set himself about not operating in his own backyard, taking unnecessary risks, etc.? If the producers had saved some money on Brando's salary - he is wasted here - and spent it on a writer who explored the characters more thoroughly, a better movie might have emerged.

Incidentally, I am not sure the plot ending hangs together. Could Nick really get away so cleanly? Assuming the authorities ultimately catch Jack, won't they cut him a deal where he splits on Nick to reduce his time? How is Nick going to explain where he got the funds to pay off his loans on the flat and club (the only motivation offered in the film for his participation in the heist)? This loose end could have been avoided by letting Nick escape the scene of the crime without leaving evidence of a second thief, thus setting up Jack as the sole suspect.

At a deeper character level, will his girlfriend really believe he's given up criminal activity for good this time, seeing as he's just clearly put it above his relationship with her?

You can say these are misguided questions about a "heist" action movie, but my point is that The Score could have been a cut above this.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Lightweight, but not unenjoyable, 26 April 2012

A lightweight comedy - amusing rather than laugh-out-loud - this film is carried by the attractiveness of its leads (Kim Basinger at 50 is stunning, and more than a match for John Corbett, eight years her junior).

There are a number of good supporting actors - Philip Charles MacKenzie's gay receptionist is a joy - and cameos, notably Tom Hanks. Mike Starr and Phill Lewis's two cops routine is a little too hackneyed for my taste, although their two Elvis impressionists' number is worthwhile.

Altogether a very silly movie, but not unenjoyable.

8 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Too many historical bloomers, 10 January 2007

Two things spoil this episode for me. First, the plot line and situation is too close to "Patterns of Force" (the Nazi episode). Secondly, there are some notable historical bloomers.

"Parallel development"...apparently proved by the fact the "Romans" speak English. Shouldn't that be Latin?

"Rome had no sun-worshippers" (McCoy)... actually, Mithraism (sun-worship) was the biggest religion among the Roman soldiery in the first two centuries AD.

Surely they could have afforded a historical consultant!

A pity, because there are some nicely ironic touches - I particularly like the commercial breaks during the gladiatorial combats!

7 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
More time travel than space travel, 1 November 2005

I haven't seen such a mess as this on the BBC in a long time.

The script is straight from the pioneering 1953 TV series, when spying on earth from a satellite was a futuristic idea, and travelling in a spacecraft 500,000 miles from Earth was a step into the unknown.

But crazily, it is updated to the 21st century, where all this is massively anachronistic.

The production is also 1950s-style. It is shot in live action (much was made of this at the time, but what does it add?), hand-held cameras are artlessly handled, the sets and cast are both dreadfully impoverished, e.g. Mission Control consists of three people in a bunker with a couple of laptop PCs! The woman in Mission Control takes over as the sole nurse in the hospital room, etc, etc.

In a genuine 1950s production you could live with all this, of course - or perhaps if it was a spoof on the 1950s. But this is apparently intended as a serious drama! It didn't work for me.

24 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Haunting performances, camera work, music, 6 April 2004

I've just watched Fortunes of War again after a 17 year gap and it is every bit as good as I remember it.

The fact that Branagh and Thompson's marriage fell apart in the 1990s adds poignancy to their acting of marital tensions here.

Much of the drama revolves around Harriet's struggle to get Guy to "see" her as a person in her own right, although Branagh's portrayal of Guy's grief is the emotional high point.

Two supporting roles deserve a special mention - Ronald Pickup as the (ultimately) lovable aristocratic rogue Prince Yakimov, and Alan Bennett as the blinkered, snobbish and self-important Lord Pinkrose. Thank God we were spared more than the first five words of his lecture!

Even the small roles (e.g. Simon's army physiotherapist) are beautifully played.

The camera work is also wonderful - particularly the final shot.

The only drawback of seeing it on video, as opposed to the original TV episodes, is that the haunting theme tune is only heard right at the end of the film.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Great, but not the greatest, 10 January 2004

This was a great TV version, with some great British character actors, but it was surpassed IMO by the BBC's version of 8 years earlier. Colin Jeavons was the definitive Uriah Heep - his ubiquitous refrain "ever so 'umble" became quite a catchphrase in the UK at the time.

Unfortunately I suspect the 1966 TV version (which was in B&W) has long since been lost. The IMDB entry for it is very skimpy.

15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Jacobean drama for the 1990s, 10 January 2004

Daniel Baker has mentioned echoes of Macbeth in HOC. One of the many clever things about it and its two sequels was the liberal use of quotations from Shakespeare and other dramatists of the period (I think I caught some from Middleton's "The Changeling").

After all, this really is Jacobean drama set in the 1990s!

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Still a favourite, 23 October 2003

I first saw this film over 20 years ago, but it remains one of my favourites.

Key ingredients are the black comedy and the 50s/60s/70s soundtrack - I can't hear "Blue Moon" or "Bad Moon Rising" any more without thinking of this film. However, there are also some moments of genuine horror including one - the "nightmare within a nightmare" sequence in the first half of the film - that I think ranks up there with a couple of scenes in Psycho, in terms of its shock effect the first time you see it.

The transformation scene is also well done. It's the evident painfulness of the process that gives it an edge. The special effects used in the scene are also excellent, although I seem to remember that I slightly preferred those in "Company of Wolves" which was released about the same time (but which I've never seen since because, unlike AWIL, it's never shown on TV).

So it's a hardy perennial. If you've never seen it, watch it. And if you've seen it before and liked it, I bet you'll enjoy it on repeat viewings.

22 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Angry film that changed attitudes and the law, 22 September 1999

Not many films can claim to have resulted in a change in the law. "Cathy Come Home" is one of them.

This graphic, sympathetic depiction of a couple who become homeless in 60s Britain is still powerful. I watched just the eviction scene recently on TV and I felt intense anger at the injustice rising in me.

The film is plotted like a Greek tragedy - the couple's decline from prosperity is gradual at first, then accelerates horrifically. Unlike a Greek (or Shakespearian)tragedy, however, the characters are not the architects of their fate. They make mistakes, but their punishment is out of all proportion. They are the victims of a harsh and unfeeling system - but most of all of the hostile attitudes of their fellow citizens towards the homeless.

Most viewers at the time would have shared these prejudices - but the film showed them that there, but for the grace of God, they could go too.

The film gave a huge impetus to Shelter, the campaign for the homeless that had just started up. Few other campaigns except (later) CND have had such widespread support. Pressure from Shelter eventually led to a change of the law in 1977 which means that homeless families can no longer be treated as the protagonists of "Cathy" were (although the law certainly has its defects - for example the use of bed and breakfast as temporary accommodation, and its non-applicability to single homeless people).

"Cathy Come Home", if I recall rightly, was written for the BBC's famous "Wednesday Play" slot. Many brilliant plays were filmed for this series, including some early Dennis Potter, and that other influential polemical masterpiece "The War Game" - which the BBC refused to show in a cowardly acquiescence to Government pressure. "Cathy" shares with "The War Game" a quasi-documentary style, without commentary, which provides much of its realism. However the performance of the two leading players in "Cathy" is also perfect.

34 out of 39 people found the following review useful:
It's a personal thing...., 20 September 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've seen Ice Cold In Alex three or four times over thirty years. Each time I find it more impressive. At one level of course it's a classic adventure story: four people pitched against an amazing, hostile environment, one of whom is evidently not who he appears to be. Incident by incident, (and the pace of the film never flags) the tension builds and our view of the characters deepens. But what struck me most last time I viewed it was how untypical a 50s war film it is. Most films of that era have an uncomplicated, patriotic message - in this case, they would usually concentrate on the adventure itself, and the unmasking of the spy, as the main points of the story. ICIA is quite different. It is ambiguous, not simplistic in its political values. The British characters act in a way which is practically treasonable themselves - they hide the fact that Quayle is a spy from the authorities. Of course the shock element of the ending is that you don't expect them to do this until the actual moment in the bar in Alex when they confront Quayle. But in retrospect you can see how early in the film the Mills character prepares the ground - the critical moment is when he throws away Quayle's jacket after saving him from the quicksand. The nearest the film gets to patriotism is presenting tolerance and loyalty as quintessentially British values. Mills as the alcoholic anti-hero is particularly good. I love that line "It's a personal thing.." Sylvia Sims is also good as the woman who sees the admirable qualities of Mills beneath the lush, and "knows what she wants". The very end of the film also seems to me to buck convention. We might expect to return to the British characters after Quayle is taken away (as a POW, not a spy), to witness an emotional parting. Instead, we see events from Quayle's eyes, looking out from the back of the lorry that takes him off through the streets of Alexandria. What happens to the Brits is left to our imagination.