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21 reviews in total 
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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Local Hero for an earlier generation, 31 August 2002

This film deserves to be better known. If you liked Local Hero or Gregory's Girl, you will probably enjoy this one as well. It has the same quirky charm and unbelievably good weather to display the beauties of the Celtic fringe of Scotland. Some of the accents sound more Irish than Scottish, Bill Travers particularly, but he does make valiant efforts.

Not a deep film but a real delight, and well worth keeping to put in the VCR on a miserable winter's night.

Gilda (1946)
91 out of 126 people found the following review useful:
Nothing from our era seems to compare, 21 June 2002

The 40s and 50s produced many alluring performances from beautiful and sexy actresses and Rita Hayworth's in Gilda is one of the most provocative of all. The film is good and quite deep, the male leads are better, but Hayworth's performance is simply stunning and unforgettable. She may not have been the most beautiful 40s actress (Gene Tierney and Veronica Lake were more classic beauties imo), but if you look closely her ability to show the sweet, the vulnerable, and especially the wanton, in women has not been bettered. Somehow her character gets under the male viewer's skin in the same way as it does to the male characters in the film.

Modern film femme fatales are a pale shadow by comparison, for example Linda Fiorentino or Sharon Stone. I'm not sure why. It could be either that nowadays allure is too much equated with sex or nudity (less tantalising than several dashes of suggestion) or maybe it's that present day equivalents are portrayed as hard as nails without the necessary mix of sadness and vulnerability.

Whatever, if you've never appreciated what the appeal of 40s noir is, this is definitely one to try.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
More human than Kane, 13 March 2002

What a magnificent work this is! Even in its sadly butchered state, it seems like a masterpiece. Citizen Kane may have scored higher on technical innovation, but it is less touching and involving than this.

I always thought of Gregg Toland as the master b/w cinematographer of all time mostly for his work on Kane, but the cinematography by Stanley Cortez on the Ambersons is as good if a little less showy, and surprisingly similar to Kane's.

Maybe, like the Venus de Milo, the flaws resulting from the petty interference with the director's vision somehow add to the overall impression. We can look at the film and imagine what if? how about this? rather than merely saying the film is perfect.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Dreamlike 70s western, 27 February 2002

This western has much to admire - cinematography with a dusty autumnal sheen, Dylan soundtrack, some fine performances from regular western actors, most especially James Coburn's as Pat Garrett. It has two typical Peckinpah characteristics - a pervasive air of death and decay throughout and the detached observation by children of scenes of extreme violence, though they do not take part in them. This second characteristic leads one to imagine that the future is likely to be as violent as the present.

Interesting western then and one that gives a unique viewpoint rather than retreading someone else's work as lesser westerns often do. However there are some problems with this film that prevent it from being a classic. Historic liberties are taken, no problem, but having Billy the Kid (who died aged 22) played by a 36 year old Kristofferson must be dubious to those who know anything about the history. The part was played as a mature, experienced villain rather charismatic and heroic instead of an immature young thug. Bob Dylan was a great singer and pivotal to the times, to be sure, but his acting talents as Alias were unfortunately not in the same league.

The main difficulty I found with this is that it's so clearly of its time of making. I cannot in any way imagine this as the reality of life in 1880s New Mexico when all the actors have early 1970s hairstyles and Maria (Billy's squeeze) is played like a hippy chick by Rita Coolidge with the appropriate sexual mores to that era. This, together with the faded effect cinematography gives a distancing to the viewer's perspective and leaves the impression of an interesting dream rather than a true to life western.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fantastic ending will stay with you..., 18 November 2001

The second best ever Brit gangster movie is a brilliant energy-filled piece. Lock, Stock, Barrels is fine if you want a jokey gangster film bailed out by lucky coincidences, but this is the real thing, believable and intelligent.

The film reminds me a bit of the gritty Glasgow-based TV detective series Taggart, which presumably owes this film a considerable debt, having more than its share of overt violence, explosions and generally hard men.

What really raises this movie into the stratosphere is the bravura performance by Bob 'Oskins. The much-praised ending is so fine. Surely it's the most dazzling display of an actor's craft to hold in close facial shot for a prolonged time showing a variety of emotions cross the features? Hoskins does this to perfection, showing (at least) disbelief, anger, realization, fear, grim amusement and acceptance over a 90 second period, all the while set to pounding soundtrack and flickering lighting from passing streetlamps. Not many movies include such prolonged close facial scenes. Jack Nicholson is another actor who can do them, for example in a long scene in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest.

If you haven't seen this, do yourself a favor.

56 out of 77 people found the following review useful:
A feast for the senses, 5 November 2001

It's hard to understand why this film doesn't get better reviews. Yes of course it's a reflective arty film where evoking feelings is more important than narrative drive. The amount of nudity, though in keeping with the story, does perhaps hinder its being taken seriously by some.

Surely though it succeeds as well as any film has in painting a cinematic picture of the experience of being a stranger in a strange land? The cultural barriers, dissonances, language, the maze of similar streets - everything comes together to create the feeling of utter helplessness Kit experiences when she tries to get help for the ill Port. The confusing weird relationships, often only partially depicted in the film heighten the sense of being adrift in life.

Together with some of the best ever desert cinematography rivaling even Lawrence of Arabia, North African music, noises, characters and colors this film is a rich feast for the senses indeed. And what a wonderful final voice-over, one of the most deep and thought-provoking lines in all the movies.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
One of the earliest twist endings?, 31 October 2001

Very clever and brilliantly acted film. The sense of menace comes across despite the censorship of the time. Maybe not the best ever British gangster film (probably Get Carter in my humble opinion), but certainly in the top five. What a revelation (and how unrecognisable they were) to see William Hartnell (best known for the first portrayal of Doctor Who) and Nigel Stock (Dr Watson in 1960s Sherlock Holmes series) as sharply-suited villains.

And this film surely has one of the earliest twist-type endings? After reading reviews I was looking out for something when I watched it first. Yet I didn't see it coming!

The Thief (1997)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Sensitive and Poignant film, 18 October 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a moving and delicate film this is! The intensity of the acting seems to counterbalance the cold forbidding vastness of the Russian winter landscape. All the performances are outstanding, and surely that by Misha Philipchuk as the 6 year old Sanya must be one of the very finest ever by a child actor?

Minor spoilers warning! The film takes you deep into many emotions. Hope at the original meeting of Katja and Toljan, fear in Sanya's early experience of Toljan, pain when his character becomes clear to Katja, pity when people who are already poor are robbed, pleasure when Sanya sees the Black Sea for the first time and many other emotional shifts.

Only one thing extra I would have liked. Much of the film's fascination was in seeing how a boy at the impressionable age of 6 would learn from both the positive and negative influences that surrounded him. We were given a fascinating glimpse of the middle aged man he became, but it was not enough to determine his character. I would have liked to have seen a little more of what sort of man he had become.

One comment to those seeing the film with English subtitles - a few of the subtitles are unreadable (white against a snowy background). This doesn't detract from viewing as the film is easy to follow. Overall, a really worthwhile film giving fascinating insights into Russian life 50 years ago.

What a sad film..., 16 October 2001

this is. Not really because of the ending, but because everybody in it are like lost souls, trying somehow, anyhow to find meaning in their lives, but not able to do so, and destroying things in their efforts.

Best thing about the film is the cinematography. As well as the stunningly realised ice storm, the dark subdued tones which permeate much of the film impress, as does the brittle oriental soundtrack which reflects the tinkling of ice.

It's not nearly as watchable a film as American Beauty though. The characters are pathetic rather than sympathetic, the beauty and humour are lacking. Like Altman's Short Cuts, this is another film about the dark side of life that's technically very good (in a different way) but quite joyless. I wouldn't put it in the same league as American Beauty at all.

Short Cuts (1993)
0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A glorified soap opera?, 26 September 2001

How does this differ from a soap opera? Similar largish number of characters (22 main ones), so-called real life situations, problems with relationships, no real resolution of situations, one or two shocks thrown in? Are expert direction and very fine acting performances enough to separate Short Cuts from the many meaningless and time-wasting (though popular) TV soaps? I can't see much difference, though admittedly it's in a different dimension for quality.

In Britain, there is a soap EastEnders which has a reputation for being particularly gritty and depressing. That sums up what I felt during and after I watched Short Cuts. Depressed. What pathetic lives, with their petty miseries, and nobody trying to even aspire to anything more meaningful or spiritual. Even the doctor (Matthew Modine) who somehow one wants to show a bit of humanity fails and turns away not making eye contact while telling parents devastating news about their only son's condition.

American Beauty (in my opinion) is a far more watchable film about malaise in modern American life. It has haunting beauty, and laugh-out-loud humour as well as its sweet and rotting sadness. Short Cuts however is difficult to assess. It is one of those films which are undoubtedly great, yet are not enjoyable to watch. Maybe 8/10 for film making quality, but only 1/10 for enjoyment.

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