Reviews written by registered user

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82 reviews in total 
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Liked this episode a lot, 11 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Thought that the writing on this episode was way better than usual, and even the somewhat ridiculous plot-line of the suspects playing out a live game of Clue/Cluedo didn't get in the way.

I ended up watching it a couple of times, and found it just as enjoyable even when I already knew the outcome; there's a lot going on. Although I never did figure out quite what was happening during the Clue game, with people moving the weapons around etc; luckily it doesn't really matter.

Its a clever episode, and fits the quirks of the lead characters well. I get a chuckle out of how well actress Fern Sutherland plays the bemused reactions of Kristin Sims to all the nonsense swirling around her.

Ex Machina (2014)
50 out of 97 people found the following review useful:
When Real Dolls go bad..., 9 May 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Umm, say something nice... ahhh... well... Domhnall Gleeson's American accent wasn't bad. A bunch of extremely pretentious, implausible hogwash, beautifully crafted to mainline straight into the gonads of horny young geeks without girlfriends. Its yet another litmus-test for your friends and acquaintances; you can tell a lot about a person by their reaction to this film; if they rave about it, or just find it dumb and annoying. Its getting a whole lot of positive reviews from people who really should know better, which speaks volumes about the state of film and film criticism today. I was left with one question; right at the beginning the helicopter pilot mentions something about having been flying over a private estate for 2 hours already; so is it possible for a chopper that size to carry enough fuel for a round-trip over 4 hours?? I doubt it. Such a long way for a pizza delivery! Out of curiosity, I checked out the website for the hotel in Norway where some of it was filmed, but its not very easy to navigate.

9 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Post-moderne garbage, 13 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just awful. I forced myself though the first episode, and half-way though the second I could not take it any more. From the first moment he opens his mouth, Piven is so horribly, unrelentingly, stunningly, and embarrassingly terrible that it was like watching a never-ending massive train wreck. I would LOVE to know what the experienced British actors were saying about him behind his back, it must have been good. The direction is equally bad. Villains twirl virtual mustaches. Nothing works. The viewing public will be blithely unaware of how relentless the CGI backgrounds are in this production; the entire thing is mostly computer-generated, and looks machine-made. Very much in keeping with most future productions of this ilk, I expect.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
"Paradise" cabaret number, 1 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just a comment that the segment of this film where Pola sings "Paradise" in a cabaret is available to view online, and I found it quite, quite remarkable. The image quality is very poor, and the performance is dated and stylized, but compelling none the less. Also its noticeably similar to - "inspired by"? - Marlene Dietrich's number in "Morocco" from 2 years earlier. Unfortunately at this time there is no source I am aware of for a quality version of this film, and its original elements may be too far gone for restoration.

Recommend that Pola's fans consider viewing the 2006 documentary "Pola Negri: Life is a Dream in Cinema" which was released on DVD in 2012.

Marilyn (1963)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Obscure interesting curiosity, 7 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fox released this tribute to one of the studio's greatest stars a year after her death. Its virtually unknown today; I once added a reference to it to her Wikipedia page; typically it was soon deleted by some clod, much to my amusement. I saw it several times many years ago; it used to be shown on TV on rare occasion. It contains clips from many of her films, along with some newsreel footage etc. It was interesting particularly because for many decades this was the ONLY way to see clips from the unfinished "Something's Got To Give", but even more fascinating were the costume and makeup tests she did prior to beginning filming, where she exhibits this amazing uncanny ethereal radiant beauty. She had been dieting to prepare for the film, allegedly on champagne and oysters, and it really shows. Unfortunately behind the scenes she was continuing to wreck herself on drugs and alcohol; today she would be seen as a major candidate for an "intervention" and a stint in rehab. Hopefully someday the rights-holder will at least make it available for streaming. Unfortunately the existing film elements may be badly deteriorated by now.

27 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Yet another blown opportunity; wasted actors and wasted money, 11 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ghastly, incompetent screenplay by a writer who has previously butchered a number of the recent so-called "Marples"; followed by completely wretched direction by some greenhorn who makes "ham-fisted" seem like a compliment - much of the acting goes completely over the top. And the editing is pretty bad also, but that may be due to the choppy direction they were given to clean up after. Its yet another in a series of productions controlled by people who seem to really loathe Christie; possibly they get assigned to these productions against their will, and take their frustration out on it? Some of the CGI of the train running through snow-covered mountains was passable, but I was constantly distracted towards the end by all the fake snow machine-blown all over the trees and the exterior of the train.

Its yet another in a series of British "period" productions done in recent years by young production crews who have absolutely NO interest in or feel for the material; like they're just shooting another music video or commercial for McDonalds. I doubt that they can tell the difference.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Strictly for ardent fans of the actors, 21 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Its a somewhat interesting curiosity, strictly for fans of the actors. I assume that 90% of people these days will watch it because of Montez, and they will probably be a bit confused and disappointed; "Cobra Woman" this is not! Its very much kind of a version of "She" in the Sahara, with the odd low-budget feel of an old B&W Saturday Matinée serial; but this is very adult and not for the kiddies! Its intellectual and philosophical in some ways, and the Queen plays games of chess with her victims. Unfortunately for all sorts of reasons it ends up being a disjointed mess. My feeling was that its most fatal flaw among many is that it has several excellent actors struggling to give serious performances against the odds, and needs Montez to come up to their level; unfortunately she was absolutely not up to this task.

Up in the Air (2009/I)
43 out of 79 people found the following review useful:
Wish that I'd walked out, 31 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the grimmer, unpleasant, and dehumanizing films I've seen in some time. Basically, its also an extended product-placement ad for American Airlines and Hilton Hotels, whose corporate logos are smacked in your face about every 10 minutes. Also its vaguely like the film "Koyaanisqatsi" but with actors and a story-line. I think that if the friends that I saw it with had put our heads together half-way through and done a whispered conference, we would have happily agreed to cut our losses and walk out. We wouldn't have missed much, including one of the more predictable plot "twists" in recent years.

I've been speculating on how on earth it could possibly win awards, let alone get much attention or praise. I'm guessing that - - Industry-insiders (and some reviewers) know Clooney personally and like him a lot (and they probably also know and like others involved in this production) - Like the main character, industry-insiders also spend a tremendous amount of their lives jetting around dealing with airports, accumulating air-miles which they have no time to use up, and staying in airport hotels. They probably closely identify with that part of his life.

- Adults are so incredibly desperate for movies aimed at a mature adult audience that they're grabbing anything that comes along (for example "It's Complicated") and celebrating it just because it exists.

I'd say that the fact that this film was generating major Oscar-buzz is a telling indicator of just how twisted and desperate an age we're living in. Its like the world of "Idiocracy" keeps inching a few years closer...

7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Comes off well despite tinkering, 8 January 2010

Screen adaptations of Christie's books usually play fast and loose with the original story and plot, with varying degrees of success. I always marvel at the audacity and hubris of producers and adapters confident that THEY know how to tell a story better than Christie herself, what a laugh - where is THEIR record of sales topped only by the Bible? In recent years they've been going kind of wild with very ambitious, high-gloss productions of Poirot, the results of which have been uneven to say the least, from "Five Little Pigs" (sublime) to "Sad Cypress" (hmmm) to "Taken at the Flood" (a vile wretched grade-Z trainwreck, and criminal waste of talented actors).

This one manages to come off fairly well, although there is considerable tinkering with the original story. The camera-work makes heavy use of diffusion filters throughout, giving the effect of the entire story taking place in a kind of a dreamy beige fairy-tale haze.

The lead Harriet Walter is an actress whom I respect, and who in the past I have repeatedly tried and failed to warm up to. Here she is less guarded and unusually accessible, and does an excellent job, in spite of the bizarre "period" hair and makeup inflicted on her.

My French isn't very good, but it seemed to me that the script had Poirot (and Mlle Blanche) using expressions that would never come out of the mouth of a native speaker. Also I had the English subtitles on while I watched the DVD, and there were some hilarious mistakes in the French, for example "pas du tout" showed up as "pas do tout", "oui, bien sûr" as "oui, bien, sure", and "Je vous en prie" showed up as - I swear! - "je vous emprie"!! I was in stitches and wondering what next, were they going to render "oui" as "wee" or something? Maybe it was done by computer voice-recognition software? Good lord, hire somebody who has a clue, or have someone competent copy-edit it.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Harmless bit of period fluff, 3 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Nothing serious here; this is strictly a harmless and amusing British period costume "romp" through castles and countryside of 1920s France. A very considerable amount of time is spent watching 3 classic Rolls-Royces zipping around on mountain roads. The story is extremely simple, the characters black-and-white; a handsome unattached young man and his manservant (in Rolls Royce #1), a white-gowned damsel in distress in a castle, and a totally evil villainess and her henchpersons (in Rolls Royce #2) up to no good creating an ever-rising body-count. The Foreign Office comes to the rescue (in Rolls Royce #3) and the outcome is never in doubt. The acting, such as it is, is pretty stiff and perfunctory, and the whole thing feels rather cartoon-like. The villainess (and a female accomplice) sport huge globs of black eye makeup which look quite literally like they were troweled on with black shoe polish. Her castle is actually kind of interesting, and the filming (its all done in color 16mm and the picture is decent if grainy) appears to be done on location, and I kept wondering where it was. The tall picturesque castle has a dry moat, a bridge, and a portcullis which comes into play several times, either keeping people in or out, and in one case it graphically kills a bad guy.

This will probably be of interest only to fans of the lead actors, particularly the formidable Eileen Atkins of course. And to fans of 1970's BBC TV mysteries, whose numbers are presumably dwindling.

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