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The Passion of the Christ (2004)
2 hours of torture. Entertainment?!?
For those who are Christians I'm sure the film has a lot of deep meaning and undertones, but for someone who is not, I would not have chosen to go to the cinema and watch someone being tortured for 2 hours, since this is what the film is.
The film starts in the garden of Gethsemane and carries on until the moment of Jesus ressurection, however it hardly lets up on the violence for more than a few minutes at a time, going through the capture, a beating scene which takes a good half hour of the film, the march of a bloody Jesus through the city to the place of crucifixion and more (I couldn't watch beyond this point but i'm told it got no better)
There are a few moments of respite. Pontius Pilate gets a few minutes of film time to come to terms with his decisions and Mary appears in the croud, as a helpless bystander to her son's death.
It is a powerful, dramatic and brave attempt by Mel Gibson, however after a while the brutality became too much and I had to give up watching it.
It may have helped to start the film with Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem and the joy and happiness that everyone felt at the time. Contrasting this with the brutality of his betrayal and death, the message could surely have been put across with less blood and beating but the same amount of emotional impact.
The Tailor of Panama (2001)
How not to be a spy
Although this story starts off as a fairly standard spy story, taking a poke at Bond. with Pierce Brosnan waiting in his office for his superior to give him his latest posting, we soon find out that Brosnan's character, Andrew Osnard, is the opposite of Bond. He is a bad spy and rather a scumbag and he is being sent to Panama to keep him out of everyone else's way.
In Panama he recruits a British tailor, Harold Pendel (Geoffrey Rush) to gather information from his high class customers. Unfortunately the tailor is a weaver of tales as well as cloth and when his customers are not as well informed as expected he begins to feed fictional tales to Osnard, including stories about his drunken friend being the leader of a revolutionary movement which includes his secretary. This makes for an amusing, if low key plot until Osnard tells his superiors in Panama and London about his "priceless" information. His superiors demand to know more so Osnard demands more from Pendel. Since Pendel's wife works for the government (and the canal project which is currently a controversial issue), he has to photograph his wife's documents. Quite unsurprisingly she sees him doing this and thus gets involved with the deception. As the British and the American Government's get more concerned about Osnard's information, they put pressure on him and his friends to reveal their sources, this leads to increased violence which seems to be unstoppable without everyone revealing their deceptions which they are not prepared to do.
It is nice to see Pierce Brosnan acting as a scumbag for a change (and trust me he is) and Geoffrey Rush is excellent as usual as the tailor who starts out providing some entertainment which stops being funny as violence threatens. Also the whole story flows nicely from being light entartainment as Osnard stumbles around Panama collected tales, becoming a darker tale of how people react when violence threatens themselves and their friends and also when they realise that it is at least partly their fault.
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Strangers on a Train - a Review by Jo Henshaw
"Lets swap Murders- your wife, my father"- seemingly innocent conversation between two strangers - Bruno Anthony and Guy Haines when they meet over lunch on a train journey. Guy, a solid, respectable tennis player, whose problem is that his wife, the flirtatious Miriam, won't divorce him so he can marry senators daughter Anne, laughs the whole conversation off as a joke. The following week he isn't laughing any more. In a scene of classic Hitchcock suspense, Bruno stalks Miriam through a carnival and strangles her. As he does, her glasses fall off and we see the murder eerily reflected twice through her lenses. Cold hearted and amoral Bruno, his part of the deal completed, approaches an appalled Guy expecting, even pressuring him into 'doing his bit.' Matters are not helped when Anne's precocious and outspoken younger sister turns up suspecting Guy of Miriam's murder. So accused of a murder he didn't commit and expected to commit another, what is Guy going to do? The power of this film is in the presentation of human beings as having a murderous side to their nature - and this Hitchcock does to perfection.
That Thing You Do! (1996)
That Thing You Do - A Review By Jo Henshaw
That Thing You Do! In every life there becomes a time when that dream you dream becomes that thing you do.
That Thing You Do begins with a group of friends practising for their college talent show. Their band - the amusingly named One-ders win the contest with their catchy song - That Thing You Do. But this is only the beginning of their success story. In a blur, the newly renamed Wonders become a hit - playing at their local clubs, and then moving on to a national tour with Playtone records under the guidance of Mr White (Tom Hanks) The beauty of the film is there is no conflict, just the excitement and exhilaration that the band feels as they become celebrities and this is can't be shown better than in the scene where they first hear their song on the radio and they are literally dancing in the street, you can't help but feel happy for them too. Tom Everett Scott plays the charming Guy Patterson - the electrical store assistant who becomes the band's drummer and a national sex symbol with his trademark sunglasses. Lenny (Steve Zahn) is the carefree guitarist who sees the bands success as a huge lark and just throws himself into enjoying every day. Jimmy (James) Mattingly II is the band's creativity - writing the songs - and also its serious side. He sees the commercialisation of the wonders as stifling his creativity and is reluctant to sign anything to do with his music. Liv Tyler is also a delight as Jimmy's girlfriend Faye and the band's biggest supporter. The success of That Thing You do lies in the little things that are so easy to miss yet are the glue that brings the whole film together. Watch out for how well Guy's family react to his success and how the bands first drummer with the broken arm keeps turning up. Also notice how it is Guy that keeps looking out for Faye. It is these little things that will bring you to the film and that find you leaving with a smile and a desire to see it again.