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Simonster

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34 reviews in total 
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Outrage (2010)
13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Yakuza mayhem à la Takeshi Kitano, 30 March 2011
8/10

Viewed at the Festival du Film, Cannes 2010

Takeshi Kitano's return to his familiar stamping ground, the Yakuza, their intrigues, vendettas and highly inventive ways of inflicting extreme unpleasantness on one another, was given less than a stellar welcome by critics at the Festival. A common refrain was that there was nothing new on offer here, no new insights, just a retread of the familiar. Well, they are right, but is that really such a bad thing?

I say no, not when we get tough guys, sharp suits, black humour, extreme violence (you might never want to visit the dentist again), a convoluted plot that is hard to follow but has something to do with rivalry, inheriting the reins of power and inflicting extreme violence on the other team. Oh yes, there's also betrayal and extreme violence.

Outrage is old-school Takeshi Kitano, a (for me) welcome return to his glory days, not that he ever left them behind (I've time for all his films, if not his gameshows). If you like the man, as actor or director, then you won't be disappointed by this film, just as long as you are not expecting something new and different, that is.

15 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
It's a start, but not a very good one, 30 March 2011
3/10

Viewed at the Festival du Film, Cannes 2010

There's no doubt France's colonial history is a treasure trove for film makers, and the country certainly has some coming to terms to do with its past, but Outside The Law, for all the fuss it raised in Cannes (including a protest by former white residents of Algeria), is, sadly, a missed opportunity.

True, the film does try to cover all the bases, and the French treated the Algerians appallingly, both in Algeria and in France itself. But what comes out is a very anodyne and clichéd soap opera about three brothers who eventually end up taking criminal paths, either within the Algerian terrorist movement or the underworld.

Although great care has been taken with the costumes, sets, props etc. to create a very credible sense of period, Outside The Law is let down by its script which, in striving for balance and neutrality, robs the films of any drama or tension and purses a by-the-numbers narrative. Everything is signposted in advance and duly arrives on time.

Outside The Law is to be applauded as a start in tackling this incredibly complex and still painful subject, but it's not a very good one. The protesters, who most likely had not seen the film, would find nothing to fear here. And they too also have a story that should be told. Whether other film makers pick up the gauntlet remains to be seen, but I suspect box office results for this film will show that this is a market best served by TV documentaries instead.

51 out of 95 people found the following review useful:
Polarises, love or loath, and I loathed it!, 30 March 2011
1/10

Viewed at the Festival du Film, Cannes 2010

I saw this film with two friends at the evening, red carpet screening in Cannes. Lucky us, right? Well, no. The walk-outs began about six minutes in and continued unabated. My two companions both fell asleep! I managed to stay awake, although I tried otherwise, and when A and B both woke some 45 minutes later, we also joined the line for the exit.

I realise a film is always a personal experience, but there is absolutely no story on show here, no character establishment or development. The camera lingers and busks to the point that you are mentally screaming "CUT!! CUT!!"! Whole interminable scenes do nothing to drive a non-existent narrative forwards.

Visually, it often looks like it was shot on mini-DV and mastered through an unwashed milk bottle. As for the characters, especially Uncle Boonmee, do we get to know him? What do you think? Do we even care? What do you think again?

The best thing about this film is, I kid you not, an electric fly swatter! Now that's something I want!

It won the Palme D'Or, of course.

6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
So bad it drove me out the cinema, 30 March 2011
1/10

Viewed until it proved too much for me at the Festival du Film, Cannes 2010

Bad in every respect, Space Girls in Beverly Hills is the absolute nadir of ego-driven, no talent film making. All concerned are clearly having a great time but it should be illegal to inflict such suffering on a paying audience! Isn't there something in the US constitution or legal code about cruel and unusual punishment being forbidden? At best, at the very best, the film looks like a cheap and tacky piece of porn - but with all the sex edited out. If so, maybe the makers should put it back in and give us something worth watching. Except... the actors, both male and female, reek of skank and one of the reasons I baled out was the fear that sooner or later they might indeed show some skin. Burning books is wrong, burning films, if this one's at the top of the bonfire, would be a very good thing.

18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Swedish madness!, 30 March 2011
8/10

Viewed at the Festival du Film, Cannes 2010

Now that you've read the plot summary... Okay, a group of drummers terrorise a city with their daring musical 'raids' while a tone deaf, music hating, detective tries to track them down... The Sound of Noise is the kind of dark comedic madness only the Scandinavians do so well: percussionists as musical terrorists laying down the beat for an entire city.

This is a conceit built around the musicians themselves, taking several of their set-piece numbers and weaving them into a narrative structure. In this sense, seen as a film with the classic three act structure, story and character development etc., Sound of Noise is less successful. But as a showcase for amazing musical ability and sheer imagination, this film cannot be beaten.

Rubber (2010)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Radial or cross-ply?, 30 March 2011
8/10

Viewed at the Festival du Film, Cannes 2010

Rubber is in a genre of its own, the sentient serial-killing tyre, the kind of film you find either great or complete rubbish. Robert simply rolls across the desert, using his psychokinetic powers to kill people and destroy inanimate objects. There's no reason or logic on display here: it's what it (he?) does. Basic serial killing 101, really.

In those terms Rubber is very much a one act / one note film. It's not like there's any character development or even story arc on show here, more a series of vignettes. Robert does this, then that, then this again, and then that again.

All of which begs the question: what is there here worth watching? To begin with, writer- director Quentin Dupieux makes his off-the-wall concept actually work. In as much as a black rubber tyre can have a personality, Robert does! He takes time off to check into a motel and have a shower, for example! He picks and choose whom and what he offs! Dupieux uses his camera to give us a tyre's-eye view of proceedings, and then there's that wonderful landscape, endless horizons and sky. Visually, this is one very good looking film.

Yes, it is all utterly stupid and lacking in all logic, European auteur self-indulgent film making at its best. I wonder how on earth Dupieux got this by his producers and funders. It must have made for some great pitch meeting! Maybe he even brought his lead 'actor' along with him!

Taken as a curio, as being a film that exists on its own terms in its own niche, Rubber is great fun - for those who get and appreciate the conceit. Anyone else will find their fun elsewhere, which is fine.

GasLand (2010)
5 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
The truth is often stranger than fiction, 30 March 2011
9/10

Viewed at the Festival du Film, Cannes 2010

There are times when a documentary can be more dramatic and gripping than many a feature film and Josh Fox's Gasland is one such documentary. Offered $100,000 to let a natural gas company do some exploratory drilling on his land, Fox sets out to investigate just what's involved and opens an ecologically nightmarish Pandora's box.

Basically, the gas companies use a process called hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") to crack open the underlying rock strata and release the natural gas. This involves pumping in a chemical cocktail of great toxicity and where nature has a way...

Fox and his sometimes wobbly camera then travels around the country, meeting people whose lives and health have been irreparably damaged. He might play the effect one or two times more than is needed since we've got the point by then, but being able to set light to your drinking water is not a benefit! And the mud brown chemical concoction coming out of the tap is not something you would wish to drink anyway.

Unlike Michael Moore, whose preaching has become a turn off, Fox is laid back, non- dramatic, letting people tell their stories. The calm, matter of fact narrations add even greater drama to the story. These are ordinary people whose lives have been destroyed.

With the natural gas industry in full hue and cry after greater profits, the lawyers riding their coattails sorting out the settlements, compensation and gagging clauses, Fox is a lonely voice but his quiet resolution makes him even more worth listening to.

To those reviewers who really do seem to be paid flacks for the gas industry, I am not a socialist, do not hug trees, do not dislike capitalism, I am a guy who loves watching films and being moved by them. If you can watch Gasland and can come out still thinking life is wonderful and nobody has anything to be worried about here, then you need to look to your conscience, because we all should be very concerned indeed.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A glorious failure, 30 March 2011
3/10

Viewed at the Festival de Cannes 2010

A sequel to the way, way better 2005 film, Evil In The Time Of Heroes is, sadly, a mess on every level. Previous reviewers have said this is a Greek film for Greeks! And I am sure in the original language the characters and situations have far more resonance. But nothing can disguise the fact that in terms of what matter; story, script, characters, development, direction and, well, everything that goes into a film, this production got away from all those concerned and, at best, looks like it's being made up and improvised as it goes along.

Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing, because let's-do-the-show-right-here can still have its charms. But for Evil In The Time Of Heroes this doesn't apply because the film is so confusing in terms of narrative and continuity it's impossible to figure out hows and whys. Historical flashbacks, featuring Billy Zane (I think a sad effort to throw in a 'name' after everything else has failed) try to make sense of what's going on but serve only to add more confusion.

Okay, so the story makes no sense but there's always the acting, right? Not in this case! This is one of those films best viewed with your eyes closed! But maybe these people are big in Greece and household names, so who knows? In any event, there is every Greek stereotype on display here, but since that's the Greeks poking fun at themselves I've no beef with that.

To end on a positive note: I really do respect anyone who makes a film and Evil In The Time Of Heroes makes a real effort. Unfortunately it doesn't go anywhere. If the film makers return to their roots, examine how and why the 2005 film works and this bigger-budgeted one doesn't, then here's all success to their third outing.

The Pack (2010)
14 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Meandering but still entertaining sort-of-Zombie film, 30 March 2011
7/10

Viewed at the Festival du Film, Cannes 2010

One of the best things about the Festival is how everyone who loves film, whether it's for fun or profit, often piles into a cinema for a shared experience, whereby you get folks of all nationalities and tastes often watching a film they normally might not bother with. The Pack is a perfect example.

This is a cross-genre horror film that also wants to make some social comments, especially about the how and why of the creatures, hence my use of "meandering" in the summary. As has been mentioned by a previous poster, it starts as one film, changes to another and then goes a different way. At the same time, the elements do work, perhaps better individually than as a whole. Even so, The Pack is fun and it's nice to see a European horror film get a good reception.

The usual genre rules are there: Don't pick up hitchhikers, don't stop at a desolate restaurant run by a weirdo, don't get caged up in the basement as a snack for locally marauding monsters. In fact, maybe give all of France and Belgium a miss?

There are the obligatory jumps and shocks, some black humour, the requisite gore and the final last standard. In that sense don't expect anything new from The Pack. But at the same time there is a sure hand on the tiller, except for this meandering, which could have been sorted out at script stage. It doesn't damage the film as more as weaken the effect it could have. But my criticism is more the disappointment of how a good film misses being great, so on that basis The Pack was given a very good reception and makes for some enjoyable thrills, chills and spills.

Dino Time (2012)
13 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Cute!, 29 March 2011
7/10

Viewed at the Festival de Cannes 2010

An animated film that doesn't insult kids' intelligence, isn't about shifting as much merchandise as possible and won't have parents hitting the booze in the middle - that's Dino Mom.

Technically, as in terms of animation, Dino Mom hits above its weight. It's no Pixar of Dreamworks, or Disney, but nor is it churned out shovelware either. There is ability and care on show here, which extends to the characters, both humans and dinosaurs, too. The moral of the story, moms are a good thing, is simple and nicely done. The film might not stand up to repeat viewings but for a one-off treat, something the kids can be left to watch while parents do something else (Get drunk, maybe?), it's perfect.


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