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65 reviews in total 
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11 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
Wake me up when it's finished..., 17 September 2014

I feel sorry for Nicole Kidman. It must be depressing having to work with Colin Firth so much. Here they are again, back together after the OK but not quite good Railway Man in a dire take on the Memento/Groundhog Day riff of memory loss. None of the story really adds up, there are plot holes bigger than those in the Ozone layer and in the end it just sort of gives up. I could spend much time on the turgid script or the complete lack of any character development, but I won't. Instead I will simply note that Colin Firth has cornered the market in middle-class, stick-up-the-rectum English bores without actually requiring any acting skills, which is just as well given that he possesses none. Rather like the other hopeless exponent of diffident English "chaps", the execrable Hugh Grant. His supposed acting prowess, which garnered him an Oscar, A Golden Globe and a Bafta for The King's Speech, is nothing more than him being himself. It is a constant source of amazement to me that these two products of the public school system have been able to fool so many people into believing they can act. But acting has always been the preserve of the more affluent types and those who have achieved some kind of fame in other ways, such as modelling or just being the offspring of someone famous.


Kidman does her best with the rubbish she's been given to work with, but in the end she fails to rescue this mess from oblivion. It doesn't bode well for her after the excruciatingly bad Grace of Monaco that she appears in dismal rubbish like this, but at least she has a varied and interesting body of work to prove her credentials. Unlike Firth who continues to prove only that he got very lucky.

It's lucky for us - and Nicole Kidman - that Firth dropped out of Paddington Bear. Who knows what horror may have been unleashed by a bear voiced by a middle-aged English twit.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Does anyone know you're here?, 9 June 2014

You've probably already read the previous reviews of this movie, so I'll refrain from repeating what others have said, as far as possible. This is the best of the Comic Strip offerings by a very large margin and the reason is because it is funny without trying to appear as if the makers are concerned about social issues or any other questionable "point" which was all the rage with the painfully unfunny Ben Elton and his acolytes. Mr Jolly is just about being funny for the sake of it. Stupidly funny, childishly funny, disgustingly funny but - praise the Lord - not "we care and we're going to lecture you about it" funny. Two blokes spend 80 minutes causing mayhem and havoc - very often to each other - mostly in pursuit of any kind of alcohol, including embalming fluid, and get involved with various other lunatics, in particular the eponymous Mr Jolly, played by the great Peter Cook, of the title and a lugubrious gangster called Mr. Lovebucket, who pays Mr Jolly to "take out" his enemies, wears a white cashmere overcoat and apparently isn't a w_anker, and the heroic Nicholas Parsons. For those who don't know him, he was a stalwart of the family entertainment side of television programmes, a man who would never, ever say rude words or wear jeans. I take my hat off to him for having the confidence to put his reputation on the line, as it were, by getting involved with something which is the complete antithesis of his genre and having a bloody good laugh at the same time. As the two lunatics are fond of screaming: "Nicholas bloody Parsons!"

Anyway, the movie speeds along like a turbo charged idiot on industrial strength speed driving a truck full of explosives with no hands on the steering wheel. There is every kind of bodily function and bodily fluid involved as the two insane Escorts hurtle mindlessly towards oblivion and an explosive conclusion. In the words of one of the gangsters: "If it's tonic ye want, it's tonic ye'll get". It's a tonic for those who like their slapstick with added vomit.

In memory of Rik Mayall who died today age 56.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The road to ruin, 6 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this during a French film festival in London. Both Fanny Ardant and Marion Vernoux were in attendance for a Q&A session afterwards.

The basic story is of an older woman in Calais having a brief affair with a younger man after retiring from her job as a dentist and re-discovering the sexual spark missing from her long marriage, before seeing the error of her ways. All this is set in motion because her daughters buy her a membership package to a kind of club for retired people. And therein lies the first of several problems. I cannot believe that a woman with such apparent vitality as the erstwhile Caroline would, even for a moment, consider joining a club for people who have nothing else to do. I also cannot believe that anyone - and especially daughters - would buy such a risible gift in the first place. Maybe it's a French thing.

Caroline then spends much time either in the company of a bunch of ageing nonentities, who seem to enjoy the idea of hurtling towards eternity via the purgatory of a seniors club, or in the lustful embrace of a younger bloke and his energetic tumescence, while her husband - who still works as a dentist and therefore has a rewarding, if somewhat boring life - appears to have all the charisma of a stunned hamster. But at least he's not filling other women's cavities while his wife is playing the lusty pink oboe instead of playing bingo in the afternoon. The story takes the usual turns and follows most of the usual clichés about such affairs until the film ends with another unlikely scenario. We all get old, we all need something to live for and we all need a bit of a spark in our relationships, but do we need yet another fairly uninteresting film to remind us of our mortality and apparent fragility when time starts to accelerate us ever faster towards our ultimate - and unavoidable - oblivion?

Not really.

The film is nicely photographed but ultimately it fails to engage on any level. The story is thin, the characters are not really developed beyond the cliché level and the script doesn't give the actors much to work with.

After the screening Fanny Ardant gave s few fairly unilluminating comments in reply to some hideously embarrassing questions from a bloke who thought that asking her whether she changed the sound of her voice for the film was an example of an interesting question.

Fanny's reply was "I was acting".

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Vacuous tosh, 30 July 2013

Imagine the scene: Vanessa Redgrave is sitting on the terrace of her lovely Tuscan holiday home with Franco Nero, her Italian husband. The phone rings, she picks it up and answers it: "Hello darling! yes it's a beautiful day. Franco and I were just having a spot of breakfast on the terrace. What's that? A movie in Tuscany about a young girl who finds a romantic letter and decides to write a book about it? Sounds ideal darling. Any chance of a part for Franco, I'm sure there's a little cameo for him. No, he's happy to play anything, he just likes to hang around on set. Still thinks he's a bit of ladies man you know! OK, lovely, send me the script and I'll have a look at it of course, but you know I don't really need a script. I'm from a real acting dynasty you know! Bye darling, love to the wife and kids" Franco picks up a banana and asks:"Who was it Cara mia?" "Oh, just my agent. He's got a movie for us and it'll be filmed right here in Tuscany" "Fantastico! Who else is in it?" "Oh, some American girl and a young Australian chap" "What's the story?" "Something about a letter and a love affair and a pair of star-crossed lovers" "Shakespeare?" "I don't think so, but it's got a bit of Romeo and Juliet in it I think" "So what do I play?" "The long lost lover" "Just like real life" "Not really darling, you were never lost. I just ignored you for a couple of decades" "Mille grazie bambino, I love you too"

and so off they went and made a movie about something or other, with a vacuous American girl and an Australian chap whose idea of acting is to look like Heath Ledger's untalented brother. It's not very good but at least it looks nice. There isn't any acting talent on display and the story is puerile and silly, much like most of the garbage churned out by Hollywood. Vanessa does her old lady act on auto-pilot while Seyfried and Egan struggle with even the most basic requirements of acting. Like having more than one expression. I've seen more expressive faces on postage stamps. It's just a pity that so many good actors can't get a job while simpering twits like Amanda Seyfried and hopelessly wooden dopes like Christopher Egan are making movies rather than doing something more in line with their talents, like tossing burgers.

Salt (2010)
1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
There are no words to describe this abomination, 30 July 2013

For the record, this abomination should have a zero mark. Even one star is too many. This excrescence is an insult to humanity. Angelina Jolie should hang her hypocritical head in shame for taking part in this stinking pile of ordure and then berating the rest of the world for the plight of starving children, or whatever her pet project is this month. Just think about it Angie dear: this malodorous movie cost in excess of $100 million to make - including, no doubt, many millions for your pathetic "acting talents". Would it not have been so much better to spend even half of this eye-watering sum of moolah on getting clean water and sanitation to some of the world's less fortunate children. Or do you think that adopting a few of them salves your conscience enough for you to continually make enormous sums of money from your somewhat less enormous "acting talent"? Anyway, enough of the Angelina berating (for now). What about the movie? I hear you ask. Well, what about it? It is a waste of time, unless you're a brain-dead nit-wit. That's all I can say about it. There is nothing worth writing about. But Angelina...oh dear Angelina... I suggest you donate every penny of your unwarranted fee to one of your favourite causes and take up a career as a real charity worker, as opposed to a part-time celebrity UN ambassador, or whatever it is you're supposed to be, instead of asking the poor of the world, i.e. Me, to contribute a brass razoo to your bank balance. Be ashamed, be very ashamed.

1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Cab for Mr. Allen!, 5 July 2013

The scene opens with a small red haired guy sitting in a movie theatre staring at the flickering images on the screen. The black and white images are reflected in his black framed glasses. His eyes are wide in wonder and awe, he holds a bag of popcorn in his hands but he never eats any. The movie finishes and he remains transfixed as the sparse audience leaves the darkness of the cinema.

"I gotta make this movie in Rome, Fellini made his movies in Rome"

The red haired guy is now a grey haired old guy and he's talking to someone in staccato, stuttering phrases.

"Whaddya mean, I'm no Fellini? Did Fellini ever win an Oscar?"

A woman's voice replies like a patient parent trying to explain to a five year old he has to go to bed.

"And Bergman made his movies in Sweden but you never went there did you?"

"Yeah, I know but Sweden is cold and gloomy"

"So were all your Bergman homage movies"

"Whaddya mean? hey I gotta tell ya, I got great reviews for those movies and.."

"...very few paying customers"

"It's not all about money, Fellini never made any money either"

"That's the only thing you have in common with Fellini"

"Oh, funny! who writes your screenplays?"

"Not you, obviously"

"Listen, I'm going to make this movie in Rome and that's that"

"Enjoy your holiday"

"It's not a holiday, I'll be making a movie"

"With you it's the same thing"

"Listen honey, people will love it, I guarantee it"

"Sure they will, everyone loves to look at holiday snaps"

"Oh! you really gotta start putting this stuff down on paper"

"And you should stop making holiday movies"

"Fellini never had to put up with kind of stuff"

"He didn't think he was Woody Allen"

This is a terrible movie. Don't waste your time. Woody Allen has lost any plot he may have had, as has this movie. It is a hopeless attempt by the once great director to be Fellini and it fails on every level. Apart from the nice photography it is rubbish. It is with a heavy heart that I must write these words about a man that has produced a few of the truly great movies, but I'm afraid I must. Midnight in Paris was bad but this is even worse. Except this doesn't have Owen Wilson, which is the only saving grace I can think of.

"Birdsong" (2012)
21 out of 61 people found the following review useful:
A crime against acting, 29 January 2012

To give a flavour of the pace of this turgid production here is an example of the script: When (five seconds of silence) do (five seconds of silence)you (five seconds of silence with staring eyes)have (five seconds of blank faces and silence) to (more silence)leave (the silence between words is boring by now)for ( silence and staring with additional meaningful looks)the (silence punctuated by annoying piano arpeggio stolen from Arvo Paart's Spiegel im Spiegel) front (piano, staring, silence.....etc,) etc....all of which is delivered in a series of mumbles that make Marlon Brando seem like Olivier in Henry the Fifth by comparison. And the acting! Oh, the acting! In short, where is it? Eddie Redmayne goes through the entire 3 hours with nary a hint of emotion. Whether he's in the throes of battle or soft-focus intercourse, his expression remains that of a lobotomised wide-mouth frog. He would make a very good double act with the other non-entity of the moment, Douglas Booth, the pneumatic-lipped drip who gave us a magnificently one-dimensional performance in Great Expectations. A more superficial pair of perfunctory performers I cannot imagine... However, I digress...rather like the author Sebastian Faulkes and the scriptwriter whose name escapes me...fortunately. There seems to be a fad at the present time for all things steeped in ersatz history, Downton Abbey being the most obvious contender, which itself was nothing more than a complete re-hash of Upstairs Downstairs. Perhaps there is a longing for those oh-so-romantic Victorian and Edwardian days when men had moustaches, women were merely decorative and children died of malnutrition and a multitude of diseases. Ah, but the romance of war, let us not forget those glorious days when thousands of men were sent to their very avoidable deaths every day by Generals who cared nothing for the damned Germans and even less for their own soldiers. It was all done with the best intentions, in other words the preservation of their rapidly disappearing lifestyle and fortunes, or to put it another way, the British way of life. And this is just the sort of fallacious hypocrisy that productions such as Downton Abbey and Birdsong seek to exploit and present as historically accurate with their sepia tinted whimsy and risible story lines. It wouldn't be so bad as long as the acting was up to scratch but it isn't. The only saving grace of this production is the photography, which is quite beautiful most of the time. And as a previous reviewer has so accurately written, tortoises and marathons do not an entertainment make.

RoadMovie (1996) (V)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Total performance Art in full, glorious flow., 23 August 2011

In 1995 R.E.M. released an album of mostly crunching rock songs called "Monster". It was put together with the express intention of touring it as a full-blooded rock and roll band rather than the acoustic/electric songs on the previous albums "Out of Time" and "Automatic for the people" which the band had found difficult to tour with, even though the songs themselves were some of the finest they'd ever written. This concert movie is the record of that tour. Put together from three separate performances, it shows R.E.M. at the height of their powers. From the dark, stuttering crunch of the opening "I took your name" and the shimmering, flickering backdrop of images, the concert is a total performance. Meshing music, image and art - along with Michael Stipe's shape shifting presentation of himself as a performance artist. Some may find the editing of different performances into a single song awkward and jarring, but for me it adds to the art of the performance as a whole piece. Rather than a straight concert show we are given a work of art in itself. Ever changing, ever surprising, never boring. Then there's the music. The songs from "Monster" growl and rasp with heavily distorted guitars, sometimes shuddering with tremolo as on "Crush with eyeliner" or just over-driven to the max on "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" and "The Wake-up bomb". But the finest performance for me is the heartbreaking and yet sublimely uplifting "Everybody hurts". Michael Stipe's voice soars heavenwards as Peter Buck hits the power chords of the chorus. Watch out for the moment when the magnificently Nudie-suited Mike Mills - playing piano instead of bass - kicks away the stool and stands up to hammer the keyboard. A real rock and roll moment.

This is one of the great rock concert films, far superior to the later "Perfect Square". Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in music and movies.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Three idiots on a train, 23 August 2011

I wanted to like this movie...really I did. But it's a bunch of nothing happening as three idiot brothers travel across India on a clapped-out train, ostensibly to see their estranged mother. Having sat through this terrible movie, I can understand why their mother ran away from them. They spend the entire journey arguing like kids and being stupid, whilst the sumptuous colours and sights of the Indian sub-continent slide beautifully by. The script is agonisingly banal and the characters are shallow; it's impossible to feel anything other than antagonism towards them. I have rarely felt such antipathy towards characters before, but by the 30 minute mark I was ready to throw shoes at them. It's not just that I found them annoying but also because I was losing the will to live. But I soldiered gamely on until the end in the name of stubbornness. Owen Wilson was once again execrable and confirmed my belief that he cannot act at all, while Adrian Brody at least has a body of mostly excellent work to prove his credentials. It's a bad movie, don't waste your time with it. Watch Rushmore or The Royal Tennenbaums instead. This is a complete dud.

Satantango (1994)
3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Life cannot be edited, 28 February 2011

Some words commonly used in reviews of this movie: "It has no plot" "Nothing happens" "It's very long" "It's too long" "Beautiful" "Brilliant" "Masterpiece" "Boring" etc, etc...

Every word you read about this movie is true. Including the ones that criticize it.

It's not a matter of opinion so much as a matter of fact.

Every opinion about this movie is acceptable, there is no right or wrong. Which is something that cannot be said about most other movies.

The story of Satantango can be interpreted in many ways, you can make up your own mind.

Is it ostensibly about the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, when people in unprofitable collective farms found themselves left without a future, when the milk of human kindness stopped flowing from the abundant teat of the Communist State, when empty ideology finally gave way to grim reality? Possibly. The metaphors abound if you want to look for them.

Or maybe it's just a boring story of some boring people in a muddy village who get conned by a bloke they thought was dead, filmed by someone who didn't know when to shout "Cut!"

Why should you watch this very long black and white movie, where nothing much appears to be happening, about a group of forlorn and hopeless people living in a broken down village in the middle of nowhere, where it's either windy or raining all the time, waiting for a mysterious and slightly sinister con man to take their money in the hope of a better life?

Well, it really depends on you.

Few movies can match Satantango for beautiful photography and majestic cinematography. The camera either moves in glorious long tracking shots; slow, circling crane shots and long steadi-cam walking shots or it records long takes from a fixed tripod as the action, or sometimes lack of it, takes place. The few movies that can match it are mostly made by Bela Tarr.

Those that say nothing happens are watching from the narrow brief of what happens in other movies, which is that they exist to entertain. Satantango is not one of these.

Just as in Tarkovsky's movies, to which Bela Tarr's movies are closely related, time is just as an important dimension as space. Real time, as opposed to edited time fragments chopped together to present a story in non-linear real time representation. In other words, a movie edited to present a complete story in 90 minutes. A beginning, a middle and an end. Satantango is not a complete story. What it portrays begins before we start watching and continues after the cameras stop recording it. We are merely observing the minutiae of everything that happens, just as in real life we observe every moment of our life passing, it cannot be edited.

Maybe that's the key to Satantango.

Life cannot be edited.

Or maybe I'm just another pretentious reviewer who loves beautiful black and white movies like this one.

You decide.

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