96 Reviews
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Rocco (2016)
Fascinating but largely a whitewash
5 March 2018
I watched a couple of Rocco Siffredi porn videos many, many years ago and was always put off by his "nasty" streak. In fact, he likes the word "nasty". I hated his bullying attitude, disguised as a love of women. This is an interesting documentary regarding his decision to pack it all up. It's a shame he didn't take that decision long ago. I felt sorry for the poor, degraded victims of his particular brand of punishment. They probably have their reasons for participating. I only hope they'll learn a lesson and move on.

I don't know why he carries his idiot relative around with him to do the photography. They obviously dislike each other and he's incapable of doing a professional job. Why not hire a proper photographer? It only makes sense in the context of his being Family. A distinctly Italian thing.

So he loves his Mama, hates his partner in crime, and seems to be ignored by his kids (sensible pair of boys). What his ex-porn wife sees in him, God only knows. After watching this I felt primarily sad for his victims.

An interesting watch, as long as you read between the lines.
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The Tunnel (2013– )
I'm very sorry that it's finished
19 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm going to put in a good word for The Tunnel. Yes, I enjoyed The Bridge first, but The Tunnel stands on its own. The scripts are good, the direction is good, the locations are good, and the characters and their relationships are especially well drawn. Of course, the whole thing is held together by the close friendship between the two lead characters, played by Clemence Poesy and Stephen Dillane. They both deserve awards for their performances.

So, after watching the end of season 3, it's not only sad that they will not only be absent from our screens in future, but it's an added sadness that the UK is leaving the EU so that this kind of cross-channel cooperation may be scaled back. It was great to see French and English police forces getting on well and cooperating with investigations.

Many crime series go beyond their watch-by date, but this finished at least one series too soon. I'm going to miss Elise and Karl.
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Gugu vs clichés
30 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Other than gorgeous Gugu, this is a collection of clichés strung end to end. All the mandatory scenes are there, including the breakdown, the on-stage embarrassment, the beach montage, the hair removal (normally using scissors but this time removing extensions), and many, many more. The writer must have read the Hollywood Big Book of Clichés.

I rented this DVD simply because Gugu is in it, and hoped that it would at least be okay. But it's not. It's just pants. I actually skipped through some of the clichés without missing a thing.

Minnie Driver is pretty good, and it's nice to hear British accents for a change. But it's an afternoon TV chick-flick, not a thriller, blockbuster or art film.

I still love Gugu and I forgive her, but I'm going to forget this pile of poo as fast as I can - which will be very easy.
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The Affair (2014– )
Life's a mess
19 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
So Dominic West plays this complete tosser who hasn't the first clue about how to deal with people, so God knows how he manages to write a best selling book. Maybe if he were magically extracted from the whole thing, everyone would have happy lives. Well, happier anyway.

I'm just polishing off series 1. I really do not know how they can make more. I have to say that I really like the script, the acting, the locations and the direction. I thought it would be a bit too chick-lit and, I suppose, it is to an extent. But it stands on its own as an involving drama which grips you and keeps you wanting to know what happens next.

I love the way it's shown from each of the main characters points of view. And it constantly kept surprising me. Overall, it's an above-average drama. The only annoyance is that Dominic West can't quite do an American accent, but Ruth Wilson's accent is flawless.
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Arrival (II) (2016)
Amy Adams Saves the World
12 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I have to write a review about this long, stretched out piece of hokum. But what to write? All the obvious, predictable stuff is in there, including the rogue army idiots. Like Gravity, it has the dead daughter.

Amy Adams whispers her way through it, forcing me to turn subtitles for the hard of hearing on. Did she have something wrong with her voice? I found the slow pace really annoying. The "music" starts out really irritating but eventually becomes classical.

The word that occurs to me is "tedium". Oh - and there's "unbelievable rubbish", especially with regard to the alien language. But then I'm obviously no expert.

I was hoping for better. Thank goodness it's over. I can watch something interesting instead. 6 out of 10, but decreasing to 5 as I watch the credits.
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Case (2015– )
For pity's sake
12 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Well, it started out like a regular Scandi noir crime drama. But, as it progressed, it became apparent that there are no bad guys or good guys because they're all idiots. The police are idiots. The bad guys are idiots. The minions are idiots. The teenage girls are idiots. The parents are idiots.

I think the best thing for everyone is if they all got locked up in a nice cosy institution.

It starts out intriguing and fairly entertaining, if you're keen on drug taking and under age sex. No-one is introduced but we gradually find out each character's role - sort of. Then they all start to get annoying - especially the police. No-one talks to anyone else. None of the characters are sympathetic. They all make stupid choices.

So it started out as a 7 but dropped to a 6 by episode 7 due to my utter frustration with these fools.
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Westworld (2016– )
What is all the fuss about?
31 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Not interested in westerns. Not interested in violence. I do like science fiction but I don't understand why anyone would spend so much on such an elaborate theme park. I'm only watching the first episode, but so far it hasn't grabbed me. I don't see why these robot humanoids continue to play-act when no-one is watching them. I'll give it a little longer but I must be missing something.

So, in conclusion, if I want to watch a western I'll watch a western. There are some good actors in this. Why??

The violence is really over the top. I'll never understand why it's necessary to see people's faces being blown off. I've now seen the pilot. I'll look for something better to watch next time.
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This Is Us (2016– )
I can't spoil this as it's already spoiled
28 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Okay - what am I missing? I noticed a Tweet from the wonderful (and underrated) Janet Montgomery, saying that she's in episode four of this series, so I thought it must be British. But no, it's American. So I thought I'd better catch up with previous episodes via All4 streaming. I also read a review online - from the Evening Standard, I think - which said I should have tissues handy. I may be a grown man but I have been known to sob out loud at certain scenes in movies and TV, so fine.

I watched episode one and had no desire at all to continue. There isn't one sympathetic character in it. It's tacky, corny, predictable and completely unbelievable. I didn't need tissues, I needed a bucket. I don't know how anyone can like this twaddle.

I shall watch episode four, just for Janet, but I may cringe all the way through and I certainly will not be watching any more.
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Wynonna Earp (2016– )
Hanging in there despite shortcomings
21 October 2016
A few episodes in and I'm still watching - despite not being able to follow fifty percent of the dialogue (especially Doc Holliday) - and trying to skip through anything which involves graphic violence or blood and guts. I occasionally catch snappy one-liners from Ms Scrofano, but she talks so quickly and quietly that it's a struggle. Doc Holliday is the worst for dialogue as he just mumbles everything into his moustache.

My biggest issue with this series is that Janet Montgomery should be in the lead role. Melanie Scrofano looks a lot like Janet, but she isn't Janet. Perhaps I'd be able to follow her dialogue if Ms Montgomery was in the role.

Kudos to another Brit - Dominique Provost-Chalkley - who is eminently watchable. And her name alone pads out a sketchy user review.

So take out the gore, add intelligible dialogue (no subtitles on Spike, sadly), and substitute Scrofano with Montgomery - and you have a winner! As it is, I'm close to deleting the episodes I haven't yet viewed or hoping for a rebroadcast with subtitles in English (rather than Drawl, or whatever they are speaking).
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Extant (2014–2015)
Bad habit television
18 February 2016
I'm up to episode 2.6 and I really don't know why I'm still watching this. It may be on SyFy (which really should be called Sci-Fi), but it should really be on Really. I've been borderline giving up on it since episode one season one, but for some reason I'm being hooked in by glowing eyes - and wanting to know what happens next.

I've never been much of a fan of Halle Berry, and this series doesn't help. Molly's behaviour as a human and as a hybrid don't seem to be much different. Either way she's emotional, unpredictable and - though I hate to use the word - hysterical. I don't understand how she ever got through the astronaut training. I'm glad her stupid husband is out of the picture but, sadly, her stupid robot boy is still around.

It's not quite a soap opera, and it's not really sci-fi. It's actually mushy melodrama with a science fantasy coating. So I'll grit my teeth and struggle through to the end, despite all my reservations.
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I Origins (2014)
Pretty but flawed
31 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I thought I Origins started out quite promising, but the further it went the sillier it became. Initially a vapid love story between a scientist and a flaky foreign model - two people who would obviously break up after a short fling as their basic belief systems were polar opposites. They then engineered his spectacles off in the lab so that she could stupidly accidentally get formaldehyde in his eyes so that they could then get into the ricketiest and probably illegal elevator in New York so that she could die and maybe get reincarnated according to her own spiritual belief system.

There are several plot flaws such as why on earth did the two married scientists not contact the specialist conducting the tests on children with iris pattern matches. Instead, flying off to India on a wild goose chase.

Stylistically it's very nice, with beautiful actors, including the lovely Archie Panjabi from The Good Wife, pretty photography, appropriate incidental music. But otherwise it's just too silly. And what's with the sudden mystical ending?
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Nice to look at, but boring, chick flick
20 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Nicely directed and photographed chick-flick with wooden performances and tame sex scenes. Reminds me of rubbish like the Emmanuelle films in the seventies. Jamie Dornan reminded me of George Lazenby.

I really didn't detect any chemistry between the main actors and, if she needed persuading to be submissive, why did he bother with all that effort to convince her? I'm not convinced, either.

Overall it's not convincing. They are obviously a miss-matched couple who have nothing in common so I'm not sure why they persist in constructing a relationship against all odds. It's a shame it took Ana the whole film to figure out what the rest of us knew all along.

I had no desire to watch this, but it was there as a freebie on Sky Movies. It has to be the most unerotic erotic film I've ever seen. And what on earth is a classy Brit like Jennifer Ehle doing in this?
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Jekyll & Hyde (2015– )
Well made but not for kiddies
5 November 2015
High production values, competent acting talent, rich period settings, exotic locations and a rollicking yarn.

I'm very impressed by this "boy's own" style version of Jekyll and Hyde on ITV1. What concerned me was the degree of well-designed and constructed horror at this early time of day (7pm) on a Sunday.

My first impression was that it's a combination of Sherlock (period setting), Buffy (monsters and some of the snappy dialogue) and The Incredible Hulk (Hyde). Overall I've been very impressed so far but, if I were ITV, I'd shift it back to the watershed.

Nice to see "Abbey" from Misfits looking gorgeous and sophisticated in this. She looks great in evening wear. I have to say that the acting talent is very good throughout. Some roles could be regarded as a little "hammy", but that fits with the genre.
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Spectre (I) (2015)
Yet another Bond film
31 October 2015
Yeah, it was okay. Quite entertaining but no more or less than any previous Bond films. There was no chemistry between Bond and Swann. Unfortunately I had to take a comfort break about half an hour in and missed Monica Belluci entirely, but apparently didn't miss any of the plot. Moneypenny wasn't in it enough. Q was nicely portrayed by Ben Wishaw. The action scenes were good, but it was soo slooow at times - and very dark (in terms of foot candles rather than plot).

I heard it was very funny and easily passed the "six laugh test" for a comedy (Kermode/Mayo). Er ... no. I laughed once and sniggered once, maybe.

The main thing I enjoyed was the incidental music. The fact that I noticed it says something about where my attention was (not on the plot or characters).

I hope Daniel Craig doesn't make another Bond film. I'm not a fan. The end credits said that Bond will return, but I hope someone "re-imagines" the franchise before they make another.

I've been a big Bond fan since I first saw Dr No at the cinema way back when, but it is definitely getting a bit tired. I need another Daniel Craig Bond film like I need a hole in the head. ;-)
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Sense8 (2015–2018)
Good start but
17 August 2015
So these eight people who all happen to be young and good looking and have interesting lives suddenly find they are in telepathic contact with each other, except they don't know what is happening and, at the same time, they don't seem to be freaked out by it. Oh, and they all speak English as a first or second language. Very convenient. Why they haven't been telepathing since they were kids, I don't know. Why some of them aren't old or disabled, I don't know.

At first I was really impressed. The acting and the locations and the music are superb. Then the ridiculousness of the whole premise started to get to me and the surface veneer wasn't enough to keep my attention.

The biggest surprise for me was Freema Agyeman. Since she was Doctor Who's companion way back, I knew she was gorgeous, but in this she's a breath of fresh air and she's lost her awful native British accent and sounds convincingly American. Go Freema!

So I'm up to episode five but I'm beginning to struggle. I'm sure the Bad Guys are just around the corner. There are always bad guys in American drama. Once they turn up I can stop watching. I only hope their first victim is Lito, as he's really annoying.

It's all rather silly, but I am enjoying it so I'll keep watching.

My vote is eight, going on seven.
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Ex Machina (2014)
Mad scientist creates life
26 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I seldom go out to a cinema to see films any more, but this one drew me in. It is fascinating throughout and delivers a few plot twists towards the end which are just elegantly satisfying.

I give it 8/10 as I enjoyed it so much, but also because I think there were 20% plot holes. The denouement happened so fast that I doubt that it could have happened in practise. Too many practical issues. The same is true of the mad scientist's laboratory - certainly with today's technology. Maybe if it was set 20-30 years hence it might be more credible.

Kudos to all the actors, including Sonoya Mizuno who was just as accomplished in her small part as the others in their three-hander. I somehow doubt that Nathan could have acquired his massive volcano - er - villain's lair in Norway with that abrasive alcoholic personality, but hey.

Don't think about it too much, just enjoy the mood, the photography, the effects and the amazing score. I want to see it again just to confirm my suspicion that there are plot holes aplenty, and I have to see that disco sequence again!
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What am I supposed to relate to?
24 January 2015
There isn't a single sympathetic character in this whole mess. It's like getting on a fairground ride while it's in motion after you've eaten too much. It's vaguely nauseous, meaningless, pretentious, expensive drivel.

Beware the Bingety Bong of the Throob and the Doodly Squot of Broot. Made up names with made up personalities, if they have personalities at all. How anyone can relate to this tripe is beyond me.

Sorry for venting. It just makes me angry that so much time and money went up in virtual smoke to put this on the screen. Oh - someone said it's supposed to be funny. Huh? There are jokes? I must have missed them while I was fast-forwarding through the action sequences.

Painful waste of everything. Cinema is better than this. I actually like graphic novels, but please leave comics on pulped trees where they belong. 5/10 is generous.

Edit: I just remembered that I saw "John Carter" (of Mars) on TV recently and enjoyed it much more than Guardians. Yeah - I'm surprised, too! But I could relate to the characters and follow the plot much better in Carter than in Guardians.
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The Spirit (2008)
I enjoyed it
27 December 2014
It's not that I feel especially motivated to write a review about this film, I just feel that all the negative reviews fail to take into account people like me who know little of the genre or comics books and have no desire to compare it to Sin City (which I have seen).

I watched The Spirit on TV recently and I enjoyed it! There, I've said it. I thought it was stylish throughout. It had lots of tongue-in-cheek self-deprecating one-liners which I actually laughed at. I really didn't have a problem with the plot. After all, the plot doesn't actually have to make sense. Plus it had several foxy actresses (female actors) camping it up for all they were worth! As was Sam L, for that matter.

It might not bear a second viewing, but I'd be happy to take another run at it if I happen across it again.

It was fun and good to look at and entertaining. I enjoyed it! Seven out of ten.
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Her (2013)
Is everyone else being hypnotised somehow?
25 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
What a load of baloney. She's a piece of software running on a server somewhere, so naturally she can multitask. She could be talking to thousands of people at once in thousands of different voices while writing several books and chatting with other computers. What did he expect? Doesn't he understand I.T.?

Also, this film is so sleazy. I had no sympathy with the main character at all. I felt more sympathy for the software. And who was paying for this service? Did he get bills from his Samantha-provider? How come she wasn't delivering commercials every few minutes?

She's an "operating system"? What is she operating? So she's a software platform, like Windows or Linux? No! She's just a computer program running under an operating system. And who is programming her? Google?

And that poor surrogate girl. He was lucky (except this is a movie) that she was young, slim and pretty. What I would have done in his place is ditch the ear-bud and make love to the real live girl!

Too slow. Too silly. Too ridiculous. The only redeeming feature was Amy Adams. Oh, and really pretty cityscapes. But primarily utterly unbelievable and one big yawn.

I despair.
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Watching bad people spend other people's money
9 August 2014
I must have missed something as I didn't find this film humorous in the slightest. For the best part of three hours we watch despicable leeches making money from innocent investors who have no idea what kind of animals are on the other end of the phone. This is the ugly face of capitalism taken to an extreme. Unfortunately, I suspect that this kind of extremism still exists.

As a film, it's good enough but could have been heavily edited to remove all the tedious orgies and rousing speeches. As I was watching this on blu-ray I fast-forwarded through some of the awful druggy episodes and long-winded treatises.

I have to admit that Leo does a good turn and puts his all into chewing the scenery, and the drugs, and the female talent. Talking of which, Margot Robbie is radiant. She looks amazing and puts in a good performance, although she is sidelined for most of the middle of the film. I hope to see her in many more films to come.

So this is one of those movies which I'm glad I didn't see in the cinema as I'd hate to be trapped in a room with these low-lifes.

Or maybe I'm just jealous...
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I enjoyed it
10 May 2014
I really do not see why everyone has such a downer on this. Maybe I was in just the right mood (having just watched "Saving Mr Banks") but beautiful Kate Beckinsale in tight, shiny black PVC shooting impossible guns at ridiculous monster Lycans was just what I needed. Resemblance to the TV series "Believe" (and the girl did look a little like Bo) kept my interest. The cameos by local (to the UK) Thespians was a bonus. Everyone was attractive, the action was great, the soundtrack was punchy and it looked good throughout.

Yes there may have been some goofs in there, but I wasn't looking for them as I was just enjoying it as pure entertainment and not being picky!
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Sex, smoke and pasta
14 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
So there's this naive girl called Adèle who's in high school and she's cute but she has this kind of blank look in her eyes like she's not really connecting with the world. Her main hobby is eating spaghetti bolognese voraciously. Also, she has yet to discover that facial tissues exist, but she does find one by the end of the movie, though it might be a napkin. On the plus side she has an amazing bottom, which the director enjoys photographing as much as possible from oblique angles.

Anyway, she meets this older girl called Emma who is arty-farty pretentious and has lots of similar pseudo intellectual friends. Adèle watches all these pseuds like they're a race apart, while serving them pasta and then washing up afterwards like she's a scullery maid.

Emma's only with Adèle for the sex but Adèle is in total lust with Emma. When Emma starts working late, Adèle gets bored and starts "seeing" a male work colleague. Emma finds out and is a total bitch about it, throwing Adèle out on the spot while being secretly glad to find an excuse to end the relationship as she feels that Adele is intellectually beneath her.

Adèle is completely distraught and pines for the intense physical intimacy she had with Emma. Nonetheless, she manages to get on with her life as a kindergarten teacher..

They subsequently meet up a couple of times but Emma is happily ensconced with her new girlfriend and child, despite being nostalgic for the intense sex she used to have with Adèle.

The end.

I really enjoyed living inside the head of a young French woman for three hours, which worries me slightly. Anyway, ignore all the complaints about scenes and takes dragging on for too long. It's the time taken over experiencing "real" life that makes this film unique and so absorbing.

My only complaint is that I had no clue as to the time frame of the story. It could all take place within six months for all I could tell. Plus there's far too much smoking going on!

PS: having seen Adèle Exarchopoulos in interviews I think she's as mad as a box of frogs (to re-use Matt Smith's description of Karen Gillan).
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Breathe In (2013)
Slow, turgid, awkward, embarrassing
5 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Very slow and meandering. Annoying hand held camera. Unintelligible dialogue (and no subtitles on the Blu-Ray). Washed out colours. Poorly improvised dialogue. Predictable plot. Awkward and embarrassing throughout. Quite nice music when it's not being intrusive. Saw the car crash coming a mile off. Lots of significant, meaningful looks. Watched the minutes slowly counting down on the player's display. Glad when it was over. A shame, as I quite like Felicity Jones.

Annoying hand held camera. Unintelligible dialogue (and no subtitles on the Blu-Ray). Washed out colours. Very slow and meandering. Poorly improvised dialogue. Predictable plot. Awkward and embarrassing throughout. Quite nice music when it's not being intrusive. Saw the car crash coming a mile off. Lots of significant, meaningful looks. Watched the minutes slowly counting down on the player's display. Glad when it was over. A shame, as I quite like Felicity Jones.
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Gravity (2013)
Crisp 2D High Definition would have been nice
18 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I don't know if this movie is being shown in 2D as well as 3D, but I found the picture to be dark and fuzzy. I kept wanting to remove the glasses in order to be able to see more clearly but, of course, that doesn't work.

Aside from having to suspend disbelief in several places, it was entertaining enough - but just enough. Yes, the special effects were good. But why did it have to have the usual element of schmaltz required by Hollywood films? If Ryan had to have a psych evaluation prior to qualifying as an astronaut, I think she would have been rejected. Who wants a potential suicide case in space?

I was looking forward to this (I don't visit the cinema much these days) but I have to say it didn't excite me. It wasn't a revelation. It was a good film, but that's all. So 7/10 from me, which basically means I liked it but have no desire to see it again.
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The Resident (2011)
Good components but average whole
1 December 2012
It's not great from a plot point of view, but in terms of production quality it's very impressive. The cinematography and lighting are superb, and there are some nifty camera angles if you keep your eyes open to spot them. The NY locations are terrific, but I don't understand what was filmed in New Mexico (or why). Also, the music is very discordant Hammer Horror style. I guess the problem is that I was listening to the superb soundtrack, and admiring the direction and lighting, instead of getting involved in the actual narrative. Ms Swank looks good, of course, but all the pluses are great on their own terms without gelling together into an entertaining movie. It's predictable, yes, but it still makes a pretty good 'B' feature.
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