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329 reviews in total 
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Sky Riders (1976)
Pretty bad: from mediocre to dumb, 7 June 2014

I am struggling to pinpoint some clever stuff in Sky Riders. The plot, as the whole movie is mediocre at best. The story itself and story editing are really awful: boring stuff happens for most of the movie before we get to real action.

Coburn is good in a pretty lame role, but no actor really shines anyway since they've all been given stock characters to play without a personal touch. The gliding scenes are OK but it is really nothing close to tense action getting you to the edge of your seat. The Greek Monastery was a fine location/plot idea but it is totally wasted by the dumb script: assault is piece of cake, freeing the hostages is so easy that we have the annoying scene were the hero even has a little chat with the girl. I simply stopped to hope for something interesting by that point and even stopped watching the movie ten minutes before its ending. The escape and final shootout were simply the worst action finale I can remember.

The Hit (1984)
Some fine stuff but not quite a real hidden gem, 6 June 2014

I am quite surprised people tend to overrate The Hit and say it is truly a great little-known movie. Among little known movies it certainly has great qualities, but on the whole it is pretty average.

I guess it depends whether you are touched deeper by what is great and then blissfully skip the lesser stuff. This is a fantastic cast indeed. Terence Stamp, Tim Roth and John Hurt do make the show. And the Spanish girl helps too. As usual you may say there are no good actors without a good director. Well no, very good actors can shine in a very average movie and that is exactly the point here. Not that Stephen Frears is a mediocre director - which he proved later - but his work here is hardly adequate.

Basically this is a noir film: Past catching up on a guy who did Wrong. There is a fine contrast with shining Spain, the wonderful locations and cinematography, but the script is really not tense. The story runs more like a not too serious fable about Life and Death. The main character appears to have a very philosophical stance on life, while the Spanish gang and Roth's character are on the dumb and clumsy side.

I am never too impressed by stone-faced characters. They simply are not interesting, visually and in terms of action. I really think they are the brainchildren of over-indulging authors. John Hurt is great, but frankly his cold-blooded hit-man character is not really convincing. He is not so cold-blooded after all? He has some kind of a slow Epiphany? He just forgets to be the uptight professional he used to? The ending is really not satisfactory. The Hit spent like 1h20 making us appreciate every single character as a human being and then it tips the house of cards. Actually every one is discarded, except the Spanish actors (the girl and Fernando Rey doing little more than multiple cameos) who played the least developed characters.

Great cast doing good in a very complacent storyline, 19 May 2014

The problem with Stuck in Love is that you just want to enjoy a sweet little indie movie with good actors playing heartfelt characters. The cast delivers - although I would say Greg Kinnear's character is close to wooden - and you enjoy their precise rendition of the script. Jennifer Connelly is underused here but she is very convincing as usual. Lilly Collins is the only reason the movie gets going, and the only reason why you would want to keep on watching. Fortunately the actor playing her brother is good too so it does not take away from the global interest she sets.

Well, there is nothing else. Take a less talented cast and the movie would be simply unwatchable. The stubborn falsehood of the script is here from the very start: What, a writer's block/mid-life crisis again? A peeping tom set to educate his children alone in their coming of age? A family where everybody is an artist, has the talent to get a book published before 20? A fantastic house on the beach and very little deep concerns about life except for their little private lives? This is all so fake.

The worst is yet in the gross character arcs. I guess you can't really fault that kind of movie on originality. But having every single character just go from A to B in a snap and no real evolution, this is bordering insult to audiences. Yes the writer-director shoots the individual scenes OK - frankly I insist the cast does 99% of the job - but the editing, the lack of idea to suggest time convincingly - as in "meanwhile" or "3 months later".

In the end - provided you got there - you just feel as if you had left a salesman throw his sales-pitch at you. He was not exactly boring, just uninteresting from the start; it was vaguely entertaining to watch him and now you have to speak and you just have to say no but you realise you lost that many minutes. So you feel angry about yourself: that was simply not worth watching, you knew from the start but some tiny detail kept you hooked (his outrageous tail, his eyes, his accent...). And if I watched Stuck in Love in the first place it is because there are many suckers who gobbled the whole bait and graded it above 7 because they can't tell a crude sales pitch from a refined storyline.

RoboCop (2014)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Some good ideas floating on the surface, 19 May 2014

The - intended - reboot is overall a big failure. The encompassing theme of Security Vs. Freedom was already a challenging one but they aimed too high with that since they weren't able to deliver on the basic goods: sharpness and action.

It is fine to have Samuel L. Jackson doing a show as a pundit, but is that really well integrated with the movie? Once we get to Murphy he looks bland and his first scenes are horribly written. And the movie only really starts after one hour.

The action scenes are not really impressive: they only achieve to look like dumb noisy and messy shootouts that don't really get better as they pile up (training, run into small-time villain, run into big villain).

The fine ideas, the fine performances (by Gary Oldman mainly) are too much scattered over the whole quagmire to say the movie somewhat succeeds despite its flaws and the risks taken not to be a dumb actioneer.

Her (2013)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Yet another fancy gimmick, 22 April 2014

I was curious about Her, as much as I was curious about Being John Malkovich exactly 14 years ago. Both are gimmick movies: they start with a clever idea and try to elaborate with more or less creativity and lightness.

The problem when you start with a clever idea is that you have to create the visuals to match, the inner rhythm to dispatch the concentrate subtext. In all these respects Her looks like a bland near-dystopian experience.

The basic idea of having a man fall in love with an OS is clever, but it is a writer's idea. On screen images can't but leaden-limb the original idea - provided it had legs in the first place. And the best actors in the world can only act what a movie is supposed to be or is potentially about.

Pretty soon it feels vain: a depressed loner, living a depressing lonely life, having an epiphany when he installs the promising AI OS? When did so-called independent film-makers decide boring was cool? It really looks like a contemporary Art Hack: "Let's mix a lonely boring character and a lonely clever idea!" A first I thought: "A writer as main character? Yet again?" but soon enough I was relieved to see that it was only a web-era chained-gang writer. And that was the beginning and the end of good surprises.

Red Eye (2005)
Effective but overall simply a run-of-the-mill thriller, 13 April 2014

Red Eye is pretty well done, Rachel McAdams is perfect as usual - maybe we could have hoped to see her showing something different in the end - and Cillian Murphy is great. Except that when you cast Cillian Murphy it gives away some of the plot.

I don't think it's me but I had not read the synopsis before watching Red Eye and I was expecting Jackson Rippner (Murphy) to be an evil psychopath from the moment he entered the frame. This could be a good thing with some plots but here I think the flimsy script definitely requires an actor that you can mistake for a good guy.

The plot is really thin and they did a good job to make a movie lasting more than 75 minutes because the script is only worth a MOW slot. Except it is never cheap with fine direction and great leads. In the end you may have enjoyed it while it lasted but the suspense was not that tense after all (there's the main action in the plane + two other important locations) and eventually it simply feels unoriginal and unimpressive.

Very weak crook comedy, 10 April 2014

Peau de banane is only watchable thanks to its top-notch cast, but they cannot make it unforgettable. There is simply no rhythm in the plot, stuff happens and there never is a consistent effort to come up with a real twist so it is all boringly linear.

The worst is that with this cast you hope something will eventually happen, so you seat the whole movie through and unfortunately this only helps to prove it is entirely devoid of imagination, snappy situations or even finely chiselled characters.

I would say crook comedy is basically an easy genre just like heist movies, yet you have to really try to make it interesting. It cannot be the story of a sting only with minor bumps. I can't even think of one great scene - let alone a brilliant one. So this movie fully deserves to have fallen into oblivion: it is a real time-waster.

De Broca and Audiard moving away from light-hearted comedies, 4 April 2014

Le Cavaleur had the potential to be a fine comedy but Philippe de Broca and Michel Audiard went on a far more serious path and the light vaudeville gradually turns into a sad story about the meaning of life: getting old, building something and above all finding joy in the routine of day-to-day life with those who are willing to give you more than you manage to give them.

De Broca and Audiard were past there buoyant prime although Tendre Poulet was perfectly crafted, yet already with ageing characters that were no longer as vivacious and light-hearted as Belmondo in L'Homme de Rio or Cartouche or the Bebel shows of the 70s. Characters have more depth and it's more about tongue in cheek jokes, and in Le Cavaleur more about dead-serious life matters.

The funny thing is that both de Broca and Audiard became famous - and derided by the high-brow types - for their entertaining added-value and were firmly convinced in the 60s that movie-goers are craving for escapism, not to find the same issues they were having in their private lives blown up on the big screen.

Edouard Choiseul (Jean Rochefort) naively thinks he can continuously escape the realities of life, taking women for granted, only to find himself grounded with his family life and the need to accept ageing and eventually growing up beyond that selfish young stud he once was. The movie does a good job of telling this story, unfortunately this is all very disheartening as it starts with high comedic expectations. Quite a sobering exercise.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Wants to be a clever cool movie. Fine images, poor despicable story., 4 April 2014

I was curious about this movie that went right below the radar and ends up with a big score on IMDb years after release. Usually when a movie nears 8.0 stars on IMDb you can expect a sure amount of quality. Now if quality is the good start it is not sufficient to make a good movie.

Lucky Number Slevin has many qualities: high production values that translate into fine photography and direction, with a great cast. The editing is precise and smooth to blend all this too. Now you start a production with a script and I very much doubt that the script for Lucky Number Slevin was ever that great. I have a name for that narrative category: Pretty Clever Whodunnit. It is a tired plot device to draw an apparently convoluted story where you only tell what it was all about at the very end.

I know that most people are suckers for this kind of a story, especially when it is very well packaged such as in this movie. Personally I find this to be more deceptive than really clever. I enjoyed Usual Suspects on first viewing but I cannot stand a second viewing. I enjoyed Sixth Sense too but I would never watch it again. Obviously not everybody is able to come close to Psycho in the sense that the point of the movie shouldn't be concentrated in a final bang.

Aside from that, Lucky Number Slevin has a tonal problem. It has a cartoonish approach to characters (especially with Morgan Freeman as The Boss and Ben Kingsley as The Rabbi) that is really at odds with the core story of a mistaken identity case that implies lots of - cold blood and gratuitous - murders. Does it aim to be a light realistic Tarantino endeavour or a dark thriller? It does not choose, it wants to be a funny and cool story where people happen to go murder somebody else just like that. And this puts the movie very low on my scale.

Unknown (2011/I)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Loose storyline, you never really get the sense of someone fighting to get his life back, 21 March 2014

I guess anyone deprived of his identity would feel shocked and be willing to do anything to get his life back. In Unknown there is a lot of passivity all around from Martin Harris (Liam Neeson). I do not know if the book was better at this but on the big screen you spend more time waiting with the protagonist than watching him actually fighting to solve the issue.

You get a sense of despair but it is a mainstream movie so this development is minimal and entirely left to Liam Neeson's acting skills - which have been stretched to the point where you may have grown tired of with all the Taken-like flimsy thrillers that do rely on him to flesh up dumb archetypes.

There is a bunch of fine actors here but the movie is totally uninteresting. The storyline only gets us from a first part where we have no clue about the solution to the final part where everything is gradually exposed - without Martin Harris ever fighting for any part, everything is just thrown at him 'ex machina', in due time.

And worst of all the solution is boring, it feels like a plot written by a 12 year old, and doesn't look any better in moving pictures. Non-stop by the same star/director team is equally unimpressive, with the same loose script approach that quickly undermine the potential for suspense and tense action.

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