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48 reviews in total 
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A brilliant and horrifying depiction of a hideous disease, 28 May 2013

I find it incredible that such a marvellous documentary should have such an absurdly low rating. Kuru: The Science and the Sorcery is at once a great piece of anthropological documentary, an exciting medical detective story, and a shocking and extremely moving piece of human tragedy. It is difficult to see how it could have been better made. It is also an important piece of medical speculation, given the relevance of the discoveries about kuru to the ongoing problems prompted by the British Government's shocking mismanagement of the "mad cow disease" epidemic and the very real risk that new victims of that sorry incident will continue to come to light.

The "review" by Mr Zigas is very scornful of the fact that his father's work was ignored by the film-makers. I can understand Mr Zigas feeling so hurt by their failure to even mention the doctor's work, but it is usual for documentary producers, working on a limited budget and limited run-time, to cut out anything not directly relevant to their main theme, which in this case was the work of Professor Alpers. It certainly does not imply that they were intending to slight Dr Zigas. It is a great pity that Mr Zigas himself says almost nothing about his father's work and how much he discovered, so the significance of his complaints is difficult to gauge. It is interesting to note that Professor Alpers gave considerable credit to Dr Zigas in his published article "The epidemiology of kuru", so it is most unlikely that he is to blame for the omission.

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
This movie has not aged well, 2 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Watching Temple of Doom again after all these years was probably not a good idea. Apart from the final chase sequence, which is brilliant, I am not quite sure what I saw in this movie in the first place. It starts with a ridiculously over-the-top and quite illogical sequence set in Shanghai, aka Macau (why would a gangster bother to offer Indy a genuine poison antidote when he has no intention of giving it to him? For that matter, if he finds Indy so useful as a supplier of valuable artifacts, why kill him?), followed by one of the most absurd Hollywood clichés ever, when a plane with an empty fuel tank hits a wall and bursts into flame.

After that, it doesn't get much better, with many more clichés and the excruciatingly bad performance by Kate Capshaw (though, to be fair to her, who could possibly perform well with such appalling lines?) Then the grotesque absurdity of a man pulling out another man's heart with his bare hand (apparently without encountering a ribcage on the way) and the heartless victim continuing to scream for a couple of minutes before being lowered into a cliché burning pit.

The only reason I kept watching was knowing that the chase sequence was coming up - and even that wasn't as good as I remembered.

Bruiser (2000)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Has Romero really fallen this far?, 6 October 2005

This has to be one of the worst movies ever made; I know that's a cliché, but I can't remember a more pointless, stupid film than this. The story is just dumb. The dialogue is appalling. The direction is, at best, erratic. The only notable performance is Peter Stormare's, and that is only memorable because it is so absurdly over-the-top. Any possible credibility the movie would have had went out the window when we were expected to believe that a magazine could be even published, let alone successful, with this idiot in charge. The Living Dead movies are horror classics because they show originality, intelligence and directorial flair, as well as being genuinely scary - all qualities that are conspicuously absent from Bruiser.

Madre Teresa (2003) (TV)
8 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Could have been so much better, 30 April 2005

Making a film about a religious figure is a perilous enterprise, particularly if the person involved is still alive or recently dead, and even more so when she is one of the outstanding personalities of the twentieth century.

Happily this movie has managed to steer very effectively between the opposing dangers of cynicism and over-the-top enthusiasm which are the hallmarks of most religious movies. They have stuck very firmly to the facts, while allowing the personality of Mother Teresa to shine through, effectively revealing her powerful faith, her amazing strength, her heroic charity and self-sacrifice, but also her moments of doubt, weakness and vulnerability.

There are few really great religious movies. This could have been one of them.

The production is superb, the direction and the acting excellent, and Olivia Hussey does a magnificent job in a very difficult role. What spoils it is the structure: a series of excellent parts which do not really make a very coherent whole. The producers have tried to do too much, to include too many incidents, and as a result the storyline is sadly lacking in continuity.

I see from the IMDb notes that the Italian running time is 180 minutes, almost 40% longer than the English language version. Perhaps the problem lies with the editing, and the longer version does a much better job. All I can say is that they should have opted for doing some bits of Mother Teresa's story extremely well rather than attempting the whole thing and botching it.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
One of the best war films ever., 8 July 2004

I find it hard to believe the incredible amount of hostility to this movie and the many criticisms of it, most of which are either absurdly nit-picking or just plain false.

It is easy to say, with the benefit of hindsight, that America's whole involvement in Vietnam was a huge mistake, but the victory of the North caused a tremendous amount of suffering, unhappiness and loss of freedom, and still does. I'm not going to comment on the politics or history of the war, because obviously a lot of other people know much more about these issues than I do. But as a piece of cinema, and as a comment on war in general, the film is superb.

Certainly the battle scenes were some of the most gruesome ever filmed. Perhaps they were over the top, but surely they are more true than the old movies where everybody died cleanly, with a minimum of pain, and frequently had time to speak their last will and testament before they signed out by closing their eyes.

What I loved was the human dimension. Some critics have complained about the depiction of men having babies just before they go to war and get killed, but the fact is that it happened. After all, these were young men, many of them were married, and it was the time of the baby boom. I loved the intercutting between the battle field and the women back home. Sure it was excessively emotional, but if you can't get emotional about the waste of lives in war, then I think you have a serious problem. It was also great to see them humanise the enemy, particularly in the bit about the man who was killed after writing a letter to his wife or girlfriend. Is this racist? Don't be absurd.

Is it propaganda? Well, it seems that if you disagree with the views expressed in a book or film, it is propaganda, while if you agree, it is honest, probing, important, etc. I certainly didn't agree with all the opinions expressed in We Were Soldiers. I think the policy of sending men to their deaths in order to bring back the bodies of those already dead is insanity, and I don't believe the use of napalm is ever justified. But this movie is not in any sense propaganda. It is possibly unrealistic in the sense that it is dramatised, not documentary, but it is a very honest portrayal of real men and women trying to cope with a real, ghastly situation.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
It's all there, 28 February 2004

It is almost amusing to see the attempts to find the hidden subtexts, devious pretexts, cynical motives and religious-political machinations behind this movie, when there has never been a film so transparently open about what it is attempting to do. The key lies in the opening quote from Isaiah: `He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.' The motive, the passion behind The Passion, is the traditional Christian intent to help people appreciate what Jesus suffered for them and to lead them to repentance for the transgressions and iniquities that made the passion necessary.

To speak of this as the definitive portrayal of the redemption of mankind would probably be to undervalue the massive qualitative difference between this and every previous attempt to depict the life of Christ. Speaking as a believer, I cannot hope to appreciate its impact on unbelievers; I can only speak of its profoundly moving effect on me and on those who saw it with me. It is, both in watching and in retrospect, the most emotionally powerful film I have ever seen.

Some parts of the movie may possibly have been a little overdone – there is actually no way of knowing for sure – but the most-criticised aspect, the scourging, appears to be absolutely true to life. The shroud of Turin, for example, shows blood traces from at least 50 separate strokes of the lash, and there would probably have been many other strokes which did not draw blood. It really was that bad. (And for those who choose to believe that the carbon 14 tests reveal the shroud as a 14th century fake, please try to explain the following: how could a 14th artist manage to create a technology so advanced that every attempt to reproduce it has failed miserably and even 21st century science cannot work out how it was done, a technology so sophisticated that, unlike every picture ever painted, it can produce 3-dimensional images on a computerised image analyser? and why, having invented this unbelievable technology, would the artist use it only once, anonymously, to create an image which would not be properly appreciated until the invention of photography five hundred years in the future?)

As for the absurd accusations of anti-Semitism, there is far more anti-German sentiment in the average World War II movie than anti-Jewish in this one. The script makes a point of showing that Jesus himself did not hold the Jewish leaders totally responsible for what they were doing, and Mel Gibson showed graphically that he held himself personally responsible for the crucifixion by wielding the hammer that smashed the nails into Christ's hands.

14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Incredibly disappointing, 18 July 2003

John Baxter is an absolutely brilliant short story writer and apparently a life-long student of films, so I was very interested to see what his only screenplay was like. I simply could not believe that he came up with such a piece of total crap. There is nothing to recommend in this film.

Good movie, worst ending ever, 22 February 2003

I notice that the credits list two screenwriters, one of whom (W. Peter Iliff) did the script for Patriot Games, while the other seems to have done nothing else worthy of note. So it is tempting to think that the producers employed a good screenwriter for the bulk of the script and a total moron to write the ending. Not that I think it really happened that way, but how else can you explain it? Not having seen the original movie or the book on which this film was based, I don't know how much blame the present writers should take.

Most of the movie is really good. Ignore those who talk about poor acting and direction. The direction is a bit quirky, but it is certainly competent. The concept of the movie is very restricting, as almost all the action takes place in two adjacent rooms, a technique that is perhaps better suited to the stage than to the screen, so I think the director's decision to place the actors in scenes as they discuss them, while rather confusing at first, helps to relieve the pressure on the audience. And the main actors: Gene Hackman does a very sleazy job of playing a very sleazy character, and Morgan Freeman is always good - his worst performance is better than most actors' best.

At one stage the Gene Hackman character refers to being unwrapped like an onion, and that is exactly what the movie is: one character unwrapping another to reveal the core of emptiness within. As a piece of psychological detective work, it is excellent.

But the ending. I have seen plenty of movies with bad endings: endings that reveal nothing, go nowhere, make no sense, even detract from the rest of the movie. But this is the first time I've seen an ending that absolutely makes a mockery of everything that has happened before and makes the whole thing seem pointless.

I'd like to be able to recommend this movie - but I can't.

3 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Embarrassing, 7 October 2002

This was so bad I felt embarrassed watching it. Young Einstein looked very amateurish, but Serious seems to have regressed a long way since then. The jokes are exactly what you would expect from a teenager's home movie. What is Hugo Weaving doing in a film like this?

Red Planet (2000)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Reaches unmatched depths of inaccuracy, 20 July 2002

Red Planet seems to be based on the premise that it's science fiction, so we don't need any science facts. I've seen some pretty stupid sf movies before, but this one outdoes them all. Did the producers deliberately try to make it as scientifically inaccurate as possible, or did they just not try at all? I mean, we're not dealing with difficult concepts here. They only had to pick up a basic biology textbook to find that the bases in DNA are A,T,C and G. Any sort of dictionary would have shown how totally absurd the label "nematode" is for the arthropod-like creatures shown. And surely such an important mission, built by a technology so advanced that they can afford to waste ship space on things like showers, would have anticipated possible problems and included some fairly sophisticated landing gear (not to mention teaching the team members proper CPR techniques). And a massive solar flare all the way out near Mars? Etc, etc, etc.

After establishing its credibility at somewhere well below zero and having practically no plot (just a compilation of cliches), the film then fails to have any sort of point. Particularly puzzling was all the congratulations at the end for accomplishing the mission. What exactly did they accomplish? I give up.

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