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chrisow

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48 reviews in total 
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Batman (1989)
Impressive, but lacking the x factor, 11 August 2005
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film tells the beginning of the Dark Knight's career, and his battle with the Joker (Jack Nicholson). Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) is trying to balance out his relationship with Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) with the commitment he made to his parents after their death.

Keaton gives it his all, but he reduces Wayne to a brooding loner, while only paying lip service to his playboy lifestyle. This is a huge error, as Wayne was always a complex character who could never be pinned down to one particular image. Another problem is that he's not on screen enough to justify the film being called 'Batman.' However, the action sequences are handled excellently by Tim Burton who captures Gotham City perfectly in the industrial,Gothic imagery, and it's a nice twist to have Nicholson the murderer of his parents, but it's not explored enough.

Although it has been superseded by Batman Begins (2005) it's still highly recommended.

New Order 3 16 (2001) (V)
6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
'When routine bites hard, and ambitions grow old...', 8 July 2005
10/10

This isn't a documentary, but two completely separate concerts performed by the legends. The first finds them in 1981 playing New York. It's fascinating to see, because they still have that Joy Division image hanging over them. Brilliantly, they don't speak to the audience, or themselves. Heavily relies on the 'Movement' album, but has a proto Temptation, which is always good to hear.

The second is their appearance at the 1998 Reading Festival, which is basically a greatest hits set, but there's nothing better than a New Order greatest hits: Regret, Bizarre Love Triangle, True Faith, Temptation (again!) and, of course, Blue Monday. The Joy Division back catalogue is also given a dusting down: Isolation, Atmosphere, Heart and Soul.

Then there is an interview with the original four (we miss you Gillian) which reveals them completely at ease with their legend. God bless them.

Poignant, but life affirming, 6 July 2005
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With this documentary, the legendary band pretty much reveal all the battle scars they picked up after 22 years in studios and on the road. It can make for depressing viewing, especially as it's revealed that their relations were deeply fractured at the end of their careers.

Johnny Ramone has been the subject of controversy among fans. He DOES comes across as an unpleasant, controlling *%$£. However, it cannot be denied that he kept the Ramones going at their lowest ebb, and if it hadn't have been for him, they'd still be playing CBGB's for two dollars. His passage on Joey's passing, while it did make some sense, still came across as deeply mean spirited. Although we'll probably never know the full story of Johnny stealing Linda from Joey, I could deeply sympathise with Joey. Johnny didn't seem to care, which angered me.

At the same time, the film shows how it IS possible to form a band and become the trend setters. It just seems they never had as much fum being The Ramones, as much as I have loving The Ramones.

This film is unbelievable., 21 June 2005
10/10

Just back from seeing the latest installment to the Batman legacy, and to say that I am deeply impressed is a massive understatement. Christian Bale manages to portray all the sides of Bruce Wayne which were severely lacking in the previous films (foppish playboy, troubled young man, dark avenger) and make us believe that he IS the one Batman.

Christopher Nolan's direction of the film is astonishing, as he manges to hold together the psychology and the action together, which is some feat to pull off.

The plot is deeply faithful to the Batman legacy, and has the depth to win over even the most narrow minded of souls.

See it on the big screen. See Gotham in all it's grimy, industrial glory.

Casino (1995)
Harshly judged, 30 August 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Many consider this film as a sub - GoodFellas (1990) rip off, due to the style of the film and the nature of the violence and dialogue. While I agree that there are certain similarities, it must be considered independent from Martin Scorsese's 1990 masterpiece. Indeed, Casino expands on GoodFellas and improves it.

We are now forced to care about Sam 'Ace' Rothstein (Robert De Niro) and his downward spiral. In GoodFellas, we viewed the world of Henry Hill, but we were never really cared about him or his friends. Joe Pesci's performance as Nicky Santoro is, for me personally, far more disturbing than Tommy De Vito. Santoro is more vicious and is prepared to back stab Rothstein over business and his wife, Ginger (Sharon Stone, in an Oscar nominated role, and rightly so).

Even the violence is considered more graphic. I know a few people who were distressed by the intensity of the violence and had to stop watching the film. This is, surely, a success on the part of Scorsese and his cast on the fact that they are able to get such gut reactions from people who have been raised on slasher films, such as Halloween (1978).

There's also more of a story to Casino, which makes it a more engaging tale. No detail is too small for Rothstein, even down to the number of currents in a bun. It's a fascinating view about the rise and fall of the mob in Las Vegas, the playground of the world. The interesting thing about Rothstein is that he isn't actively involved in the violence, but he certainly doesn't condone it. Watch his face as the guy's hand is smashed with the hammer.

My only complaint is that James Woods is pretty weak as Lester Diamond, Ginger's former pimp. Considering his performance as a gangster in Once Upon a Time in America (1984), we know he can do much better than that. I don't know what Scorsese was thinking there.

Other than that, I give Casino a 9 out of 10.

Realism redefined, 28 August 2002

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is a 26 year old Vietnam veteran who has insomnia. Taking a job on at the taxi depo, he begins to focus his anger and disgust at the underbelly of New York City.

His anger subsides when he meets campaign worker Betsy (Cybil Shepherd). He sees her as the only sign of purity in New York, but Travis' inability to properly communicate with others lead to the relationship being terminated. He then meets Iris (Jodie Foster), a twelve year old prostitute. He is disgusted by this fact, and is determined to save her, despite the fact she does not want to be saved. Travis' downward spiral erupts in explosive violence.

Director Martin Scorsese has created a film that blends together so well, that the term ''endlessly watchable'' was probably invented for this film. Watch out for the many subtilties that indicate where Travis is heading. The seedier side of New York is captured in all it's glory (!) bygiving the film an almost documentary feel. Credits to cinematographer Michael Chapman for this.

Acting wise, nobody puts a foot wrong. Jodie Foster, although in a small part, shows us the raw talentthat eventually matured into two Oscar wins. Shepherd is understated, yet sympathetic. De Niro: what can I say? He may have won the Oscar for Godfather II, but this is his defining role. He inhabits Bickle and makes him a character that we can sympathise with, even as he goes on his rampage.

Special mention must go to Harvey Keitel, as Sport. By giving him some little oddities, such as long hair and a pink fingernail on his pinky, he evolves the character into something much more memorable. To think that, in the original screenplay, he only had five lines.

If I was being critical, I could criticise the ending, saying that it was implausable, but sit down and think about it. There is a reason for it there.

Overall, a classic that will be rightly revered in fifty years time.

I give Taxi Driver a 10 out of 10.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
''You're s**t out of luck.'', 18 August 2002
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

--Possible Spoilers--

After a five year break, 'Dirty' Harry Callahan is back in his old stamping ground of San Francisco. After putting away a mob boss, Harry becomes a media hero. His superiors decide to take advantage of this to promote the image of the department. Harry is partnered with Al Quain and together they investigate the murder of Johnny Squares (Jim Carrey). Discovering that he was on a list called 'The Dead Pool', Harry digs deeper and discovers that the director of Squares' last film, Peter Swain (Liam Neeson), was playing the game. And that Squares' name popped up on his list. Not before long, Harry's name appears on the list.

Director Buddy Van Horn, who appeared as the suicide jumper in Dirty Harry (1971), has gone for all out parody of the character. And it works. Eastwood places his tongue firmly in his cheek, and the action is staged very well. In many ways, it's like a greatest hits collection: the one liners, the 44. Magnum, the fights with superiors, the partner and the steel look.

However, the violence of the movie is more slasher movie oriented and sometimes the film becomes confused as to what it is: a parody, an action movie or a slasher movie. It does not suit Dirty Harry.

On the whole, I enjoyed this as a no brainer. Quite sad when you think about it, because Dirty Harry was born with serious intentions, but that's Warner Brothers for you.

I give The Dead Pool an 8 out of 10.

RoboCop 3 (1993)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Mass marketing failure, 31 July 2002
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

----Possible Spoilers----

O.C.P have been bought over by a Japanese corporation, and intend on beginning construction for Delta City, the 'perfect city'. To do this, certain places need cleared. Cadillac Heights is one such place. Hiring a group of mercenaries from the Amazon Nuclear War, O.C.P have six days to clear it for demolition, or O.C.P's stock plummet and they're ruined. A small band of residents do not take kindly to this and are determined that the destruction of their homes does not go ahead. Officer Alex Murphy (Robocop) sides with them, since the mercenaries (called the 'Rehab Unit') killed Officer Lewis and nearly put Murphy off line.

Once again, it appears Frank Miller's vision has been taken over by a director, intent on aiming this for a kiddie market. The story is very interesting (due to Miller, I suspect) but Fred Dekker reduces the blood letting, the language is cleaned up, and there's a cute little girl who befriends Murphy. Aggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh. Hell, there's even new attachments for Murphy (jetpack, removable hand, machine gun) and he's lost the inner turmoil that made him someone to root for and care for.

A note to M.G.M: the best way to look at Robocop is as Batman. Both are similar characters, and both were destroyed by eager production companies intent on making a few bucks from eager kids, and then sell them as action figures.

The action scenes, although pretty short, are quite enjoyable, in that Saturday night 'nothing on T.V, so we'll go and get out a film' sort of way. The whole film has a cheap look about it. This doesn't suit, since you need big action scenes and gunplay and a futuristic look in Robocop. The ninjas, Otomo, are interesting villans. They are like Japanese Terminators, and would have been great in a few more scenes.

Admiringly, it tries to go back to the tone of the original and even borrows certain elements from Verhoeven's direction, but it just doesn't work.

I give Robocop 3 a 4 out of 10.

(Watch Robocop: Prime Directives (2000) for the true sequel.)

RoboCop 2 (1990)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Whoops, what a disappointment, 29 July 2002
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

----Possible Spoilers----

One year has passed since Alex Murphy (Robocop) wiped the likes of Clarance Boddiker and his gang off the face of the planet. However, the police strike is continuing, and a new breed of criminal is developing on the streets: an army of drug abusers, clinging for a fix of Old Detroit's new narcotic, Nuke. Their leader, Cain, has declared war on the city. Meanwhile, O.C.P plan to take Murphy off line and replace him with a new cyborg: Robocop 2.

This sequel to the 1987 smash hit has potential, but squanders it for full on action. While there is nothing wrong with this, the original had a social commentary and satire to back it up. Frank Miller, the genius writer behind the masterpiece comic books Batman:The Dark Knight Returns and Ronin, gives the audience his bleak outlook of modern life in his first movie script. Apparently, the script was altered to include more action scenes, which explains certain plot holes.

Hob, the ten year old kid, is a little b******. He deserves everything he gets in the end. Full credit to Gabriel Damon for giving the character this edge. However, the fact that the Nuke gang are able to easily dismantle Murphy sickens me. Seeing a childhood hero being cut apart with a jackhammer and a saw is degrading for him, especially after dispensing justice in the original. Also, the idea to reprogram Murphy as a P.C cop is also nausea inducing, seeing your hero dragged through the mud. Prehaps this is why the fans didn't embrace it.

The main point of contention is that it feels like O.C.P tried to make a Robocop movie. It's mostly action, and tries to give it the little touches that made the original work, but it's mostly lip service. The action is well staged, during the nineties it held a record as the film with the second highest body count, but doesn't drag the viewer in enough. If Orion had allowed Paul Verhoeven, Ed Neuminer and Michael Miner to make their own sequel, then who knows. However, Verhoeven is (allegedly)working on a sequel, so fingers crossed.

I give Robocop 2 a 6 out of 10. (Despite my ranting, it's not a bad film to watch if nothing's on. Just don't expect the original.)

Goodfellas (1990)
What more can be said?, 9 July 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

====Possible Spoilers=== What could have been ''...just another gangster film...'' has become one of the truly great modern classics of our time. It seems every decade, Martin Scorsese makes a classic ( 70's = Taxi Driver, 80's = Raging Bull and 90's GoodFellas)

The rise and fall of Henry Hill, half - Italian and half - Irish, would always make captivating viewing, since it focuses on the lower parts of the mob: the people who go out and do the dirty work. Pop music from 50's, 60's and 70's are all included to evoke the feel of the era. Songs such as: Rags to Riches = Tony Bennet, Sunshine of Your Love = Cream, Layla (Piano Exit) Derek and The Dominos and My Way = Sid Vicious.

The camerawork and dialogue also make this stand out. Mob movies (at that point) were content with pointing cameras at actors. While there is nothing wrong with that, GoodFellas makes full use of it's cameras. There's tracking shots, zooms, freeze frames and misplaced frames, such as the last scene: a suburbanised Henry, in his dressing gown, picks up the morning paper. At that point, Joe Pesci's character, Tommy, points his gun at the camera and starts firing. There is no fat in the story and it moves at a quick pace.

The movie gives us memorable, quotable and pop culture referenced dialogue before Tarantino. It draws us into the world of Henry and shows us how a simple remark results in violence.

Acting wise, nobody puts a foot wrong. Ray Liotta shows us why he's the most underrated actor working in America today. Robert De Niro is, surprisingly, understated and unflashy in his role as Jimmy Conway. Joe Pesci carefully balances the violence and humour in an Oscar winning role. Thelma Schoonmaker's editing is flawless.

The real plaudits go to Martin Scorsese. He's produced a masterpiece that perfectly counterbalances The Godfather.

Well done to all concerned.


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