Reviews written by registered user

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238 reviews in total 
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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Try boring day, 2 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I guess the reason Columbus actually had a day is because he made the prescient career move of actually arriving somewhere. If you want to see Val Kilmer wondering al fresco for forty minutes then this is the movie for you. I say forty minutes because that's about as much as I could take. Incredibly, the script won some sort of award for being in the top thirty scripts read by some film body. I can only cower in fear at the quality of the other twenty nine. And what about the rejects? It was already ominous that Val Kilmer showed up in a recent Orange commercial, the graveyard of has-been movie stars. There is a jarring moment early in the picture when Kilmer shoots someone then disappears off camera. The next shot someone has a bag pulled over his head. We're not sure to whom this is happening at first but subsequently it looks like someone bearing a vague resemblance to Kilmer. So I guess it must be Kilmer. He is ambushed by a gang which he fells quite easily despite being somewhat milquetoast for the "rest" of the picture. It turns out this scene was added by a producer for the straight to video market, a sort of Columbus Cheap-Day return. So it wasn't Kilmer. It was someone dressed up to look like Kilmer. Which is confusing because sometimes in films characters dress up to fool each other or the police. Only this wasn't one of them. So maybe I should shut up. Sorry, not your day.

Kilmer then wanders into a park on a hot day dressed inconspicuously in a heavy overcoat so as not to attract the attentions of bad guys, cops and half pint coloured stick up artists. But I'll get to that. Call it following in the footsteps of Columbus. Like him, I harbour lofty ambitions; unlike the producers of this flick who are conspicuously having an off-day. Anyway, to get back to Columbus Day, which is sinking fast without even the benefit of a ship to bail out from. In a stunning piece of every day realism, a school kid follows Kilmer around and engages him in conversation. In a further astounding piece of racial profiling, the kid attempts to hold him up as kids are want to do alone in a confined space with a possibly dangerous felon.

With straight to video you take your chances. I guess this just wasn't my day. Kilmer may be difficult to work with. Trouble for him he's getting even harder to watch. Perhaps he knows this, hence his attempts to look as much like Jeff Bridges as possible, only on a bad day. Maybe Clint will make my day. It's called Gran Torino and not an Orange phone in sight. Have a nice day.

Britz (2007) (TV)
6 out of 55 people found the following review useful:
Blown to britz, 1 November 2007

This was portentously long and teeth grindingly slow. This is to signify that it wants to be taken VERY seriously and to do so, make you SERIOUSLY suffer. It forced me to watch bits and pieces of Jeremy Paxman just to get to the end, which should define for you what boredom really means.

Apparently the guy who wrote it couldn't find any bomber types to research his story. So he decided to "draw on his own experiences." Must have been his experiences waiting at the bus stop. That is, back in the days before Channel 4 sent a limo to pick him up.

Suffice to say, the best way to cast light on a serious issue in British society is to come up with the most corny Hollywood plot contrivance. Reverse the obvious gender roles (Gosh, how ironic, how cutting edge) and have two members of the same family but on opposite sides end up chasing each other's tails. Brilliant!

No idea what the ending was meant to signify. The ambivalence of the Muslim in British society today? I've no idea. Trouble is, neither did the writer/director if he had been honest with himself in the first place.

I don't know what's more frightening. Islamic terrorism or the money wasted on this project.

13 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Banged up again, 24 October 2007

I'll probably get kneecapped for saying this but these films are starting to suffer from predictability.

You sit there knowing that there will soon appear the foul-mouthed guard who will indulge in a random beating for no reason. You will also know that the same guard will spend the duration randomly bursting out laughing in a sleazy manner. There will be the baby-faced officer who is a family man. There will be the sympathetic who is then cruelly taken out and shot.

One after another you tick these boxes in grim succession to the final frame. So what actually is the point? Why masochistically go through being told what one already knows, so that one can patronize oneself that this is "serious" cinema and we are all true humanists for dutifully sitting through it? Well maybe.

The film is competently acted and respectfully directed although I do wish "shaky cam" would hang up its coat. But the necessity of another such film is a big question mark for me. There, I've said it. Do I feel better? Not much.

Control (2007)
15 out of 48 people found the following review useful:
No thanks, 5 October 2007

I thought this was a dreadful film but then I've never liked Bio-Pics because they can never capture the charisma of the original performers. I did like the Glenn Miller one and the Buddy Holly Story but even with that, Holly's wife said their courtship was laughably inaccurate in its portrayal. So what's the point? Is this social realist/ kitchen sink drama? In which case, why all the inaccuracies? I remember us all listening to that EP where Joy Division first appear (I think as Warsaw.) We kept playing the opening: "You all remember Rudolf Hess?" over and over again as it sounded so dodgy, what with the band's alleged "reputation". I'm pretty sure the song that follows is "A Later Date", not "Leaders of Men." But maybe that wasn't the case in reality. And I seem to remember the bassist telling the story of how Rob Gretton became their manager and it was nothing like the macho confrontation depicted. Just the opposite, to an amusing degree. And the band confessed the "blood letter" was apocryphal. Does any of this matter? Well, according to the critics you would think "Control" is the second coming of Tarkovsky. But there is no such poetry here as the director is a photographer turned director. Film is another discipline altogether, and the crucial failing is that Joy Division arguably have that mysterious mojo called "artistic talent", while the director's lack of it sticks out like a sore thumb on the screen. Why did he want to make this film? I was left none the wiser, and I heard yawns around me.

Do we need art? Is it in any way essential? Maybe the film is not interested in the question. The really uncomfortable aspect of "Control" is we know the outcome, and the songs are merely box after box to be ticked as they bring you ever closer to that event. Really quite dreadful to sit through. The whole minute by minute depiction of the tragedy was unpleasant and unnecessary, at least to me. Yes, it was sad but is this helping?

The final shot was particularly repulsive and seemed to allude to the controversy of their name and image, hardly touched upon in the film itself. Sadly, this is a trite little film and definitely made by a fan.

Outlaw (2007)
9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Dubious fun!, 22 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

FIRSTLY, lazy plotting:

1) If you are threatened on a high profile case you are given protection. This is standard.

2) During the hanging scene didn't someone say to the Barrister: "He killed your wife and kid and you want him to live?" In which case, having ears, the bad guy would have come after the Barrister. He didn't.

3) Kneecapping your fellow outlaw. Risking him shopping them all to the police out of revenge?

4) Lewis shows the unmasking of Bryant to the outlaws to warn them of the dangers of exposure and then doesn't destroy the footage? He stores it in his flat to be found by the bad guy and broadcast to the media?

5) Dekker is approached by the ex-outlaw of doubtful loyalty who reminds him of the huge reward waiting for him if he shops Bryant. Yet he trusts him with information about the location of the crime Boss?

SECONDLY, camera-work made to look like "footage sent in by member of public who caught the moment." Very NOW concept, but an utter headache to watch.

THIRDLY, in the extras, Love and cast seem to echo the sentiments of the characters, talking up alleged leniency of paedofile sentencing, etc. This is disingenuous as the film suggests that becoming an outlaw makes you even more stressed, alienated from the workplace and in greater physical danger than ever before. Despite the solemn atmosphere, you don't get the impression Love cares about any "message." It is the means to an end to make a "Lad's Mag" film and tongue never strays far from cheek. Also, was Love joshing when he called Sean Bean a "movie star"? He is a respected journeyman, not a star. That is why he is in your film, Nick, and not "War of the Worlds." Bean does his usual Major Sharpe routine competently enough.

FOURTHLY....there isn't a fourthly because I found it impossible not to be entertained by this film. I didn't expect much when seeing the words "OUTLAW" and "NICK LOVE" together, but it does what it says on the tin. It is gripping and ends on a real belly laugh. I would watch it again. What he did get right is the fact that not all men are macho in real life and are more often than not afraid of confrontation.

5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
NO ESCAPE? Try the door marked "EXIT", 12 May 2007

The opening scene plays like the climax, as if they muddled the reels. It is so terrifying that you know they cannot possibly follow it. Unfortunately, it is also confusingly shot, which did not bode well for the rest. Like SUNSHINE, I had no clue what was happening most of the time. Why do filmmakers do this?

Another miscalculation is the characterization. The original saw the world through the eyes of one individual. The sequel begins with one individual who is not sympathetic then shifts to Jurassic park kids who are less relatable. These children are forced to witness such brutal scenes, not least an unnecessarily explicit torching, that it is a turn off. The original actually had only two really violent scenes. Danny Boyle wisely pulled his punches for the rest of the picture so as to let the human drama breathe. His film had a heart. The sequel parades its heart in a token way before plonking it on a blooded sideboard so as to get on with gratuitousness. Apparently, a sequel has to have more, more, more. I think less is always more. The producers think we want another eye-gouging, but that worked in the original because it was delivered to someone unsympathetic to the audience. The sequel is about nastiness for the sake of it.

The script has not an idea in its head, even resorting to a redundant lift from "The Silence of the Lambs". I presume the inclusion of so many Americans is due to the original's success in the States. I like the idea of America colonizing Britain but nothing is really done with the idea. Only the opening scene lingers uncomfortably in the memory. This really is a poor film.

If you see Dick Wittington outside the cinema, tell him: "Turn back, Turn back!"

Sunshine (2007)
10 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Confusing mess, 6 April 2007

This is a disappointingly dire effort from Danny Boyle, although the real culprit is the script which reminds one of those cheap, straight to video eighties Sci-Fi exploitation movies in terms of plot credibility. The constant references to other classic (or moderate, in the case of "Pitch Black") Sci-Fi movies frustratingly takes you out of the picture (Kubrick's monolith even turns up) and is a major miscalculation by the director. A little less trainspotting and a bit more sun shining out of your backside next time.

Can ANYONE tell me what was happening in the last twenty minutes of this film? Bueller? The production designer may be aware of the layout of the ship and what goes where and how to drop the bomb, but you have to let the audience in on the secret. Not helpful is impossibly blurred and wavy impressionistic camera work.

The most annoying aspect was that you didn't believe the people on board were astronauts. Buskers, maybe, but professionals? As two crewmen go outside the spaceship to do critical work, we hear them addressed: "Okay, guys, listen up." You just need to listen to the original moon landings or the crew of Apollo Thirteen saving themselves from disaster to shake your head. Obviously, for the purposes of drama on screen you are allowed a little leeway, but punch up's in the corridor before they're even half way there, vulgar language and put-downs, suicidal and unstable personalities and inexplicable loss of bottle at unhelpful moments makes for an eye-rolling experience. Okay, so a couple of these slackers do eventually produce a bit of "the right stuff", but by then we're too bored (not to mention confused) to care.

It's a pity, because inside this rambling mess is a germ of an idea trying to get out. We see the sun as our friend - "what a lovely day" - and the beginning of the movie captures a terrifying vulnerability as it becomes our powerful, lonely nemesis.

If you're going to "Sunshine", take at least a twenty five sunblock to guard against blistering, skin peeling clichés. Splash it all over, Henry (or Henrietta.)

3 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
A load of rubbish, 27 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Watched "the making of" documentary with an interview with the original author talking cobblers. No, it is not common for serial killers to have partners. It is rare. Most are loners. The author made his killer a woman because of an anecdote by a worker in a psychiatric ward who claimed they were most afraid of the female inmates. Not a good enough reason to make his character a serial killer, which is very rare on the distaff side, let alone in the middle to upper classes. Add to that some banal observations on the moral deception of beauty and hey Presto.

This is in fact the usual middle class wankery, enjoying the frisson of playing with "dark" subject matter. Once again, the murder of children is nauseatingly paraded. Aren't we all sick of this? In one stupid scene we are expected to believe a five year old could commit a violent murder with a knife like the beginning of "Halloween". I hope it was computer faked because it would be pretty reprehensible to stage the whole thing with a kid for real.

The silliest moment is the sex scene between a wrinkled old priest and a gorgeous young girl with pneumatic breasts. Typical writers fantasy that. In the real world he'd be lucky to get it on with a bag lady in his congregation, if that.

On the plus side, I have a thing for Emilia Fox. Just as well, as she's in bloody everything.

17 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
Witty and moving drama, 22 September 2006

Papers of transit? A city under the jackboot and a furtive underground? A man who sticks his neck out for nobody but has an idealistic past? Well, Clive Owen, here's looking at you, kid. The man has aged like fine wine. I don't share the negatives about him doing the rounds on these boards. He is a gorgeous man with a charm that while not Bogey, is certainly winning. And you get two leading ladies for the price of one.

I do wish the trailer had not given away the shock opening. It made me jump anyway. Those expecting a bleak drama from said trailer will be surprised by how funny the film is, although the writer often wipes the grin from your face with a wallop to the jaw. There is some grinding agitprop to get through but it is the director's eye for the little details of life that wins you over in terms of authenticity, although there is one glaring cliché when a man is about to meet his maker.

'Children of Men' may not be a keeper, post-apocalyptic dramas being a dime a dozen nowadays. But it is definitely worth putting your coat on for once. I wept buckets.

9 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Somewhat gruelling, 23 April 2006

I *loved* Artemis 81 but struggled a bit with Penda's Fen. Artemis risked charges of meretriciousness due to its risky combination of high and low brow culture, but was ultimately sincere. Rudkin is one of these individuals who appears to have a vocation or higher calling to the services of art, which is always nourishing to experience but there is a certain problem of drama with Penda, that is the conflict is largely metaphysical. It is concerned with moral questions and the ending with Penda pontificating on his throne may be overly portentous or even risible for some. Tarkovsky's 'Nostalgia', with the self immolation of the 'madman' on the statue of the horse, seemed to express similar sentiments to Rudkin, so perhaps it's a timeless theme amongst artists the world over. Not being an artist myself, I wouldn't presume to know. I do question whether corporate man is necessarily spiritually bankrupt. Maybe he or she goes to sleep with a Herman Hesse paperback tucked under the pillow, who would know? Maybe Penda.

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