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238 reviews in total 
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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Genius performances in Italian black farce, 23 August 2001

Very funny Italian film with a killer punchline. Heard the expression 'the scum always rises to the top'? Here the bureaucrats and middle managers of society are mercilessly lampooned. Seeing themselves as aristocrats and persons of taste and refinement, they fail hopelessly to get any cultural references right, let alone understand them. They also fail to stamp their authority on even the pathetic debauched party they've thrown, with their captives disobeying their rules for reasons of comfort or defiance. The look on their faces as a prisoner they've caught in flagrante delicto gives them the fascist salute is priceless and their uncomprehending response one of the great moments in the film. Ignoring the fact that the party has been a bit of a flop or too lazy and drunk to care, they are made to look ridiculous dancing in nightgowns and dresses swinging bull whips in their own banal concept of decadence.

An obvious exaggeration and probably unfair, not to mention fantastically ideological and distressing, this is still a work of genius although Pasolini's belief that DeSade was a revolutionary now seems quaint.

What a handle and door, 20 August 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


This film's a laugh. Love the voice over and dodgy graphics showing a spinning earth and red pouring over the globe until we hit Stalingrad with a DAN-DAN! Over the soundtrack. The first thing that grabs you by the Niagra's is the English accents. It's 'Eastender's' with more guns and less blood.

The film begins at the dock and a figure emerges from a submarine. Blimey, it's Bob Hoskins *giggle*. How are you, me old Cockney SPARRAH? Diamond geezer and all that, but what's he going to say? "I've put Vodka in all your pockets. I've treated you reds well even when you was out of order. Now, there's been an ERUPTION!" The ruck in question is between two heavy firms fighting for their Eastend Stalingrad turf and Bob is here to give his firm a good kick up the Aris. Stalingrad is Gypsy Nell at the moment, what with the red army cream crackered and the bombing making them all Mutt and Jeff. Everyone is in dire need of a Chas and Dave and a nice warm Steffi. Commisar Danilov, in a poncy public school accent straight out of 'Another Country', suggests Bob uses a China plate of his called Vassili Zaitsev for propaganda purposes. Vassili, whose in Stalingrad via sarf London, is a crack shot and when he's around everyone has to hit the Posh and Becks. His nemesis is a rainbow trout called Erwin Konig whose a bit of a roll and butter, although tasty with a custard and trifle himself. I've seen some performers in my time, but he enjoys his work. For the duration of the film, Zaitsev and Konig crawl around the ruined city on their biscuits and cheese trying to off each other. But Zaitsev has lost his bottle and is getting cold plates of meat over his mythical status. He tells his mate Commisar Danilov that he's not so lemon dash and asks him to ship his Khyber Pass to another firm altogether. But Danilov is under pressure himself. Bob Hoskins has been sent by uncle Joe 'the tache' himself and tells Danilov they cannot lose Chevy Chase over this. If Zaitsev doesn't deliver the goods he hints they'll both get a bullet in their pants and vest. In a splendid bit of over-acting Danilov tells Zaitsev that he has total "FAIIIITH!" In him.

Just when things are complicated enough along comes this posh bird called Tania Chernova who likes a bit of rough. Her plummy accent is a scream. Quickly, Zaitsev falls head over heels in turtle dove with her and they soon get down to a bit of rumpy pumpy in the ruins amongst a row of sleeping soldiers. Her mince pies bulge so much it's hilarious. Is a large uncle Bob causing her problems or are Zaitsev's feet a bit potatoes in the mould? But Danilov has had his eyes on Tania's Gregory Peck in a previous scene, and seeing her as more his class, decides she should be his Richard the Third instead. So out of sheer read and write, Danilov grasses his mate up to the firm accusing him of disloyalty. Now, you may think these porkies makes him a bit of a strawberry split, but he redeems himself in the end.

Meanwhile, stuck in the ruins of Stalingrad, Zaitsev gets some news which makes him go a bit radio rental. He's Schindler's list over the whole sorry situation and decides it's time to put his money where his north and south is. He can't leave it any Christian Slater so he goes to face that three card trick Konig all Jack Jones. Whose run out of Frair Tuck and ends up brown bread?

This film is quite the biggest load of pony and trap I've seen in quite a while. It is excrutiating to sit through. The acting pen and inks and the script belongs in the biscuit tin. The director should have got the hammer and tack after the first day. Howlers abound, like the appearance of Kruschev and the endless music with bits of 'Schindler's List' floating in and out. Ron Perlman plays a soldier who slags off the communist system in a way that would have had him shot in the real war. I bet Russians are having a real laugh over this picture and the war was no laughing matter for them. If you haven't seen it then spend your money on something useful like guide dogs for the blind. I know who should be first in line for one.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Doing the do, 16 August 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Terrible disappointment? Come on chaps, that precludes really having a burning desire to watch such a film in the first place. But people do. I did, but then I'm only half a person. After viewing, not even that. It's the chaos factor, you see, it has a strange effect on you. A normal sense of rationality concerning the real world is slowly eroded leaving you feeling strangely vulnerable. This movie tells it like it is, but not necessarily in the right order. Or even the same film. And like it is, as delivered by Fred Ward with a snarl that looks like his lips have been stapled to his cheeks, is this. The Chinese are very, VERY bad people whom, if left to their own devices, may do something terrible, we don't know, they haven't done it yet. But they MIGHT do it, so send in Fred Ward and some young, myopic thugs to stop them even THINKING about doing something Americans don't do. Or do do, but shouldn't. I lost track, it's the chaos factor.

Yes, my friends, all this chaos can only end in one place. You guessed it, an abandoned warehouse. It's always an abandoned warehouse. Well, not totally this time, it's got presses. And in an obligatory torture scene, Fred Ward must impress upon the good guy that he really shouldn't stop him from stopping the Chinese from doing what they haven't done yet but might do, so he crushes the poor man's motorbike. Gosh, forget water torture, that's really showing him. Then he hurls some very distasteful racial abuse in our hero's face, the like of which is un-repeatable on a family film site. Actually, it's completely incomprehensible. Didn't Fred Ward used to be an actor? Perhaps the script failed to make it through the presses. Suddenly, our hero is rescued by a couple of those leather clad chicks with an uzi in both hands and a steering wheel between their teeth. There follows an impressive chase between two cars and a helicopter. My God, this actually looks competent. So competent in fact, you could say it's from another film. Sadly, the girl who is driving our hero is shot and he jumps out at the last minute while the car speeds down a cliff towards an electricity box. Now, hang on, this looks familiar. It reminds me of a scene in 'Species'. If it has been lifted whole sale from 'Species' and inserted into this film then any moment the helicopter should shoot missiles into the car. The helicopter shoots missiles into the car. So that's why (left brain clicks into gear) the heroine had short cropped blonde hair, to match up the two films. Here we see the chaos factor working again. You're not sure from one minute to the next what film your in, let alone what country. It must be a fiendish Chinese plot. They've stopped not doing and started doing or maybe not. Maybe the film makers are just a teensy bit short of cash and hoped we wouldn't notice. I did, impressive as my right brain's asleep.

Anyway, our hero survives and meets another tasty young oriental lady who embroils him in another car chase. The trouble is, the car chase takes place in another film all together. Back and forth they cut, mostly in our film to close ups of the actors sitting in their cars with someone rocking the sides. Spare no expense! Everybody's going this way and that, maybe even backwards in a manner that can best be described as, well, chaotic.

Things eventually calm down, possibly due to the fact that the other film was probably shorter than this one. The entire cast then decamps to a hotel where Fred Ward wants to cause trouble at a meeting between the CIA and the Chinese. At least, I think that's the plot, the left half of my brain is still stuck in the other film. Dressed rather unconvincingly as kitchen staff, the hero and heroine are attacked by bad guys in the lobby and things suddenly become slow. So sudden it looks like someone accidently hit a switch in the editing suite. It's that chaos factor again. Our heroine manages to fill the baddies with holes from two Uzi's without a drop of blood being spilt. How ironic, this is China and there's no red. One of the baddies creeps up on our heroine and orders her to put down the weapon and turn around. She kills him. She then runs up some stairs killing some more bad guys before finding herself in the same professionally embarrassing situation as before. "Put down your weapon and turn around." Why not just shoot her? It's that chaos factor again. When in doubt, drop your IQ through your left trouser leg.

Then, just when you think things can't get anymore chaotic, what with foreigners running around doing what they weren't supposed to be doing followed by a lot of Americans not even sure what film they're in, let alone having the time to stop them from doing anymore of what they weren't supposed to be doing, things stop being chaotic and start getting static. Fred Ward and the hero stand still on the hotel roof and actually have a conversation. I would dearly love to quote it in full, as it is without doubt the most gob-smacking sequence of dialogue I've ever heard. It so perfectly encapsulates the state of race relations in the world today, not to mention life, the universe, politics and everything else, but the video packed up. It's the chaos factor. Even so, the writer has changed my life for the better and I want to thank him from the bottom of the my heart. What he has to say works on so many levels, none of them remotely accessible by ladder. Basically, what it comes down to is this. Men and women of different races have been doing what they are not supposed to be doing in doing something intimate with each other that produces children, one of which is the hero. Fred Ward is not pleased. After all, he's spent the whole film (and half someone else's film) telling them what not to do and blow me down if they haven't gone and done it already. His snarl has become a grimace although admittedly it's a value judgement. It seems that doing what you are not supposed to be doing can actually be pleasurable. So an American gets on to a podium at the end of the film (or films) and tells us that he's sorry he got it all wrong and by order of America it is now decreed that all those of different colours and creeds have his permission to all get along together and start doing or even thinking about doing what you originally shouldn't have been doing, but have done anyway. Also, doing it in a hotel room with someone in leather, like our hero, is even more do-able. I think the podium is actually in this film as opposed to spliced in from a fifties western so we should give the CIA a round of applause for beating the chaos factor. I guess that at the end of the day (and a very long film) there's an even bigger factor than chaos and that's schmaltz. So what are you waiting for? Start doing it.

0 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Good, 16 August 2001

Rare intelligent drama with brilliant script. Great fantasy scene towards the end about getting even. The only drawback in this film is another vanity role for Newman in which he is yet again enigmatic, cool under pressure and always saying and doing the right thing at the right moment while being absolutely irresistible to women who almost immediately jump into bed with him, despite the fact he's getting on a bit. Wry smiles at the fact that his character gives all his sympathy to the drippy, ineffectual woman who can't live without him and beats up the career woman who shows a bit of initiative (no matter how misguided) and assertiveness in a scene that has a disturbing undercurrent of sexual assault. Something going on there, me thinks.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A blast, 16 August 2001

Spielberg isn't good at art, he's a showman who makes must see movies that put things on the screen we haven't seen before. He has terrible taste sometimes, such as Hanks shooting at the tank on the bridge which reminds us of 'Jaws' which wakes us up to the fact that it's only a movie.

I watch it for the middle and end which are thrilling, although that may not have been the emotion intended, but that's Barnum for you. The middle section is more traditional and recalls the morality scene in 'Guns Of Navarone' where they have to execute the informer. It works there but is incongruous here, because of the verite style of the war sequences.

9 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
New World We'll-take-your-order Mr Hauer, 14 August 2001

My goodness, what's happened to Rutger? I thought you had to stay in pretty trim shape to cope with the rigours of film work but how wrong, how, how...TERRIBLY wrong. "I've seen take-a-ways you wouldn't believe. Burger Kings on the hard shoulder's of Luxenbourg. I watched French fries shimmer in the pans of open-till-lates. All those pounds will be lost in time...." Yes, but how, Rutger? You look way wrong for any kind of vigourous movement, let alone taking on international terrorists. So wide in girth is he that they've had to hire a very slim actress just to be able to fit in the frame with him and even then she seems to be precariously hugging the walls. Who is this pipe cleaner of a girl? No, it can't be, but it IS! It's Tara Fitzgerald, one time doyen of glossies and the British great white hope to rival Julia Roberts (or something.) At what tremulous point does the tide turn for top talent and they slide down the greasy pole to appear in this asinine tosh? Who'd be an actor in today's climate? Poor Tara has enough make up plastered on her boat race to look like Marcel Marceau, I suppose to compete with American bright young things. Rutger wears a bow-tie and various other eccentric outfits, one of which is a dead ringer for Quentin Crisp during his ex-pat in New York period. Towards the end of the film, our Rutger huffs and puffs and sweats (he's actually standing still in Tara's office) and she asks him for a date. Oh, the indignity. The man needs to sit down not get involved in any more vigourous activity.

But pity the other actors. The tv guide lists the following, 'starring Rutger Hauer, Tara Fitzgerald, John Bondi, Hari Dhillon'. Yes, yes, but what about Andrew McCarthy, doesn't he warrant a mention? I mean, he once appeared in a film with Sharon Stone. Not a very good one, granted, but he was billed. Oh, it's too cruel, and he's miscast as well. Still, they all seem to be enjoying themselves immensely. But they can't say it beats working in an office because that's where they always seem to be working, although Tara is nearly forced out of windows every time Rutger barges in. When not in offices, Rutger is seen risibly driving up the same stretch of road with the same glass building in the background. The denoument always seems to take place in an abandoned warehouse with a balcony lacking adequate safety barriers. How do terrorists get access to these buildings? Do they just knock and when nobody answers, bite off the locks with their teeth? It explains why bad guys have such bad dentistry, scowl constantly and show constant ill will toward their fellow man. Estate agents ring a bell, Gentlemen? Oh, it's supposed to be America. Real Estate, then.

I've never heard so many non American nationals speaking in dodgy American accents in an EU country. It's pretty unsavoury working for the Yankie dollar. This 'cyber thriller' has the dubious distinction of being forgettable from scene to scene as opposed to thirty seconds after the end thus making it the world's first virtual movie.

Chopper (2000)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Chop-chop, 14 August 2001

The first twenty minutes of this film are funny if gruesome. There is an amusing running gag involving Chopper begging associates to let him gain entry to their premises against their better judgement only to inevitably pay the price later. It fizzles in the second half because at the end of the day there isn't much of a story to tell.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
To be brutally frank, 14 August 2001

There is an operatic scene in a graveyard towards the end of this film that a lesser director may not have thought of. Though irrelevant, it is a moment of pure exhilarating cinema as Wallach runs around in a dizzy attempt to locate a stone.

The problem with Leone's films are their curious lack of suspense and tension. They plod along, then end. The characters ignore the fact that people are dying around them for real issues and values while their own cynical interests extend only to money. This obsession that cinema has with unsavoury and morally worthless people soon becomes wearisome as no amount of inspired camera work and direction can prevent the film being pulled down towards dullness by dull people.

Paint it black, 13 August 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love a good cliche. Like, "we'll head 'em off at the pass." Someone got their foot shot off in a Mel Brooks movie just for uttering it. So this film gets off to a good start by having the captain of the spaceship blow up. And the ship's entire supply of toilet paper? Ooh, that's a tempting one, but we'll have to cross off a few more prominent cliches first, like frenetic cutting which makes the first ten minutes confusing. Who's who and who's where? This sort of constant controlling of the eye dissipates tension through out the film.

Apparently, the crew have crashed on a desert planet that looks like the Australian outback. So why are so many characters moaning when they have Australian accents? They should feel at home, as should the commander who has the useful surname of 'Fry'. But they do moan, because aliens are going to eat them. Which is another cliche not unlike having an escaped psycho on board. Riddick (for it is he) is played by Vin Diesel who apparently used to be a bouncer. There's a lovely bit where Riddick does a Sumo wrestling dance with an alien who has a blind spot. Now, if it was Mr Diesel himself in this unseemly predicament he could have used his full ammunition : "I'm sorry, Sir, members only. You don't have the right attitude" which is yet another cliche, but useless with aliens. Mr Diesel never finds his character possibly due to the film's blind spot, the script. Instead, he takes an idiosyncratic but not terribly convincing approach which involves looking enigmatic while hitting the same monotonous note over and over again in a gruff voice which makes me think of, well, a night club bouncer: "You can't come in, mate, it's aliens night" which is a coincidence but not a cliche. And speaking of cliches, jailbird psycho's can't just be psycho's anymore, they have to have a bit of breeding and be a bit brainy and existential like Nietzsche (the only philosopher ever to have had a preservation order placed on his beard). I was just waiting for Riddick to say "That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger!" It's a cliche that's only being used 2348 times in films like this and I was rather looking forward to it crash landing again. It doesn't, so black mark, writer. Next mistake and It'll be a pitch black mark and then you'll be sorry. We are led to believe that a convicted murderer who has vowed to leave the planet would risk all over a bit of intellectual curiosity over the mind of Ms Fry.

Never mind, the aliens are fun. In his 'Austin Powers' films, the comedian Mike Myers sent up the fact that the British have bad teeth. I looked at the alien's choppers and then looked at mine in the mirror and he's not wrong about that cliche. But how will the stranded crew, psycho in tow, deal with the aliens during an eclipse so pitch black that you can see the black and ethnic characters even better than the whites? (Don't ask me how, I'm still trying to figure it out). There's an empathy problem here. Amongst the crew, there is a whining Englishman who protests he's meant to die in Paris (anyone who shares my aversion to French films will understand his deeply held belief) and a man who loses two sons without batting an eyelid in grief. I mean, if he doesn't care why does the director expect us to? To be fair, he does get a bit miffed when the third son cops it but perhaps he was a favourite and the others owed him money. Either way, he's a funny chap who, despite being Islamic, speaks vaguely about 'God' rather than Allah, which is perhaps the source of all his misery on the planet.

The last quarter is rather gripping as the survivors make a last desperate dash along a canyon. Will they make it or will the aliens (wait for it, wait for it) head them off at the pass? It's worth a rental to find out as the visuals are very pleasing in that DVD way and the ending is moving and Christian despite not being entirely convincing in terms of credible motivations. The film makers want us to relate to Riddick's road to Damascus like conversion (actually, didn't that end in pitch black, last time?) Never the less, I think the relatives of the pilot he killed would rather he did a bit of time in a cell somewhere. Preferably pitch black. But he turned out cuddly enough for us to maybe toss in a few glow worms.

The producers miss out on that grand cliche of them all, the rock song play out. Okay, pitch black mark. They should have had Mick Jagger and friends wailing over the end titles. Which song? Now come on, there can be only one. Yes, I know it's been used before, but what are cliches for?

Lost Souls (2000)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Tick, tick, tick, 2 August 2001

Curious film that you watch happily all the way through without touching the remote but leaves no impression. Goes through the motions like a shopping list. Tick, tick, tick, tick. Sorry, that's one tick too many for the plot.

Ben Chaplin, so memorable as a house bound sitcom character in BBC's 'Game On' Sitcom (I'm not being sarcastic, he was good) preconises his talent to the broader masses by staring bemused and theurgically off camera in the absence of direction. John Hurt, seemingly content now with being a jobbing actor, continues his meandering swim along a river of inconsequence. Winona Ryder, well, Winona is critic proof as she's a cuddly little thing you'd be happy to take to your bar mitzvah, once we've discovered what they are.

So bereft of imagination it achieves a strange sort of purity, that of un-adulterated product. If one were a pretentious writer seemingly content to meander along a river of inconsequence one might say that the film makers, having achieved the former, have made some sort of crazed, existential statement.

The film makers have made some sort of crazed, existential statement.

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