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lisarull

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18 reviews in total 
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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Fantastic trashy wonder now repeated in the UK, 23 May 2003

Hilarious to see the praise heaped on this programme here - and of course all of it long after the original air-date. In the UK C4 picked it up and I became hooked on its spooky qualities (remember we didnt have Buffy back then - thats the GOOD Buffy series before it all went a bit pear-shaped). Now Sky are re-showing it on Thursdays (after Buffy and Angel) and its a delight to remind myself why I liked it. After years as "Midnight Caller" (which people either loved or loathed for its goodie-morality) Cole's performance as the maleavolant Buck is fantastic. Is anyone else still haunted by the episode with the mirror and disfigured face? That STILL spooks me when I recall it! Good to have it back and can I add my support for a DVD/video release to include the UK? We liked it here too you know!

4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
A great idea, but SOOOOO SLOOOOOW, 17 June 2002
3/10

We came in about 15 minutes after this started on TV. Hmmm. Interesting cast, Mike Figgis directing, liked the cast iron building set-up. Within 20 minutes we knew why we hadn't heard before about this movie. it was pretty dreadful. Clearly only about half a normal screenplay had been completed because there was no other plausible reason for those -- tedious -- pseudo-meaningful (meaningless) -- pauses. In my partner's inimtable phrasing Harold Pinter seems a laugh a minute screwball comedy writer of speedy proportions alongside this. Elephants have gestated quicker than this progressed! Everything was invested with 'meaning' to the point where, oh heavens, not ANOTHER drawn-out sex scene, one just longed for some EXPLICATION about what was going on. Yes there was some nice cinematography, and many of the cast deserved better than this. The hapless lead has disappeared almost without trace. poor boy. For a story so laden with pseudo-pyschobabble subplots and personal histories repeating I have just one question; exactly WHY is Bill Pullman's character so defiantly intent on destroying the building? MOTIVATION, MOTIVATION, MOTIVATION.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Stunning performances that avoid the worst kind of schmaltz, 14 February 2002
9/10

Yes this is high Oscar-fodder: it's the kind of material that makes the awards judges go weak (and look, nominations galore and wins for all concerned... except of course, in the final analysis one fears, for Ron Howard - like Michael Mann, the system rarely forgives popular TV origins).

And let me say first off that it would be foolish to deny that a goodly portion of the audience for this are going because they long to see something to erase the critical disaster that was "Proof of Life" from their memories (because, facing facts, this would make a great movie anyway, but Russell Crowe is what will have drawn most of its audience). And, thank god, it succeeds in that. In POL we had that body in a black vest struggling to act in an incredibly formulaic action drama. Here, RC is back to what he does best - ACTING - and we get a white t-shirt... well, I'll definitely settle for that.

I dreaded that this would be a real schmaltz-fest: don't get me wrong, I liked "Apollo 13" and I'll cry at almost anything, but I was rather wary of how much ABM would be wringing my tear-ducts. In the end it's an incredibly tempered depiction of mental illness and what directoral/camera trickery is done is subtle and nuanced - in keeping with the performances. Knowing as much as I do about mental health issues and the experiences attached to them, I felt moved - but not in an obvious way - by the way this was dealt with. Jennifer Connelly (as Alicia) does a magnificent job in portraying the quiet, and then raging, frustration and love felt by a partner in such circumstances.

It seems unfair to pick out individuals from the cast for comment - above and beyond Crowe's touching performance which truly inhabits the character of John Nash - since each makes such a great contribution to the overall storyline. However, Harris and Bettany especially could have found themselves caught in the worst kind of roles, yet they lend the film immense solidity and depth.

Given the storyline there is not much that is radical or previously unseen, but what is done is done very well and avoids the worst excesses associated with this kind of film. And it is not exactly about 'overcoming' schizophrenia (which implies 'cure') but rather 'dealing with' it.

Ultimately though it was a pleasure to see such a return to form for an actor who deserved better than dross like "Mystery, Alaska" and "Proof of Life" (note these both followed great critical/popular acclaim pieces like "L.A. Confidential" and "Gladiator") as ludicrously entertaining as these may have been in their own right if Crowe had not demonstrated such immense talent elsewhere.

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Sublime acting by all concerned, 15 October 2001
9/10

Why the BBC has not yet put this out on video, let alone DVD (there was some great camera work) is beyond my comprehension. It resurfaced the magnificent David Morrissey in my brain as a superb actor and for that alone I am grateful to those who made the series happen. Dubbed "Our Friends in the South" on first appearance, as it followed hard on the heels of that other great BBC series, it soon commanded its own fanbase. I can still see in my mind's eye the scene in the travel agents with Morrissey when his world truly begins to come undone, all moral certainty abandoned in an instant. I crib this from a Guardian review of the time - and thank you to whoever wrote that, I still keep the cutting at home. But nevertheless even before I had read the review of that episode that scene had been haunting me and I had been driving everyone insane that day whittering on about how stunning it was.

The coming together of characters and stories is something that derives from 19th century literature (think Dickins if nothing else) but in the cinema and television drama is rarely done well. "Magnolia" would be the main other example of this kind of connected narrative that comes off.

If you saw it, I expect you will know exactly what I mean by raving about Morrissey. If you did not see it, hassle the BBC to put it out again on video/DVD if not repeated on the channel (and try to tell them that putting it on the damn cable channels as yet cannot constitute a proper repeat).

I have my reasons for liking this but its not a great movie, 14 September 2001
5/10

The photography here is stunning but it is heavily let down by a cast who seem largely disinterested in what they are trying to portray. Kristin Scott Thomas struggles to make a believably dowdy but sexually explosive character of feminist leanings come to life. Rylance has a compelling voice - how rare to hear such a strong accent anywhere - but my goodness! None so blind! Tales of the upper classes versus the lower orders (especially those who may be intellectually or morally above them but demoted by income) are never easy to watch and this is no exception. Kensit can hardly act her way out of the clothes she (sometimes) wears here, but it is a patchy performance by all concerned. As a foppish and maleavolent spirit in the Alabaster household, Henshall may stir those with a liking for rough cads, but its a 'by-the-numbers' piece all round. It has potential to be better than it is and maybe the Haas tried to hard to bring to the screen the complex writing of Byatt.

Still, for afficiandos of how far the censors will allow film-makers to go this may cause raised eyebrows if you let your granny catch it. Not a period piece for all the family

"Psychos" (1999)
9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
A wonderful wonderful series, 14 September 2001
8/10

The posters drew me in and then I watched and just felt overwhelmed. I know it had a lot of criticism - for its title and handling of subject matter - but for those of us who watched utterly transfixed by the nuanced performances and its approach to such difficult material the lack of a second series or its release on video/DVD is a nightmare. How long will my videotapes hold out from replaying!!!

Many of those not already established when this came out have since cropped up in other excellent dramatic works: Douglas Henshall, who for a brief time seemed to be everywhere, surely deserved something for his magnificent performance here (can I confess that I can't hear Talking Heads 'Once in a lifetime' without seeing the image of Henshall as Dr Nash, slumped on his bed with the rabbit... if you saw it you will know what I mean!). Neve McIntosh was just stunning and Alastair Mackenzie was compelling as the steadily unravelling Shug.

If you find it, see it.

Sumptuous, fatuous but strangely endearing, 14 September 2001
7/10

I know it failed to connect with a lot of viewers but Jonathan R-D was an absolute revelation here (Velvet Goldmine anyone? pur-lease!) The cinematography and the sets were amazing but in an effort to encapsulate the weighty detail of the books a lot got lost in the translation. the cast was to die for with some hilarious cameos (did they love making this I wonder?) and Neve MacIntosh especially was as luscious as ever. But overall its excess seemed to lose momentum and though I kep watching - hey it was better than a lot of TV - it ultimately seeming rather fatuous. A bit overblown...

I read the books afterwards, my partner long having outgrown them (they're not really 'suitable' for children but they're still on his shelf of fiction) and I really enjoyed reading them. Peake was a strange old bird and if you feel you didn't get a handle on the mini-series because of the relation to the books then maybe reading a good biog of Peake may help.

I went back to the TV series recently and I still found it beautiful in its own peculiar way. And though Steerpike is an evil little bs, and his motives always unclear, I did find it quite endearing as a work of television drama. (But wasn't Titus insipid!)

How to make an action film with no action, 3 September 2001
9/10

This was undoubtedly the movie that Russell Crowe won the Academy Award for, since the Academy invariably hands the little oscar out for the wrong movie in the wrong part of someone's career. (Not that Crowe's performance in "Gladiator" wasn't life changing for many - ahem - but "The Insider" was where he truly ACTED his socks off and then some. And all power to the Academy for being only ONE year late; most actors wait till their twilight years to get their hands on the deserved statuette).

It's a sublime piece of work from Mann, as his fans have come to expect - thoughtful, driven by well-written characters, intelligent scripting and wonderful direction. But of course much of this story comes from the real-life inspiration of Mr Wigand and the 60 Minutes coverage of his whistle-blowing activities on the tobacco industry. It is also a fantastic demonstration of how to make an action movie with NO action. Well, not in the Jerry Bruckheimer sense of the word. For man the action is all in the characters and the beautiful way that Pacino, Crowe and Plummer especially draw you in to their inner worlds. For some, latter-day Pacino is just too much like prime ham - but here just give the movie a couple of viewings and you'll realise how well he acts. It's a wonderful turn and utterly appropriate for a TV producer.

If you want to see a gripping movie this might not be where you would instinctively turn, but trust me - just for the scenes on the golf course, and when Wigand is on the stand about to give his deposition (I climbed the sofa the tension was so immense!) - this film can provide excellent and stimulating 'action'.

Fight Club (1999)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Truly enthralling, 2 August 2001
10/10

I saw this film before "The Sixth Sense" and I have to say that in the spirit of "Fight Club" I came out of the cinema truly understanding the film's tagline of "You do not talk about Fight Club". I spent the evening I came out from the cinema phoning everyone I knew cheering that it was an excellent and truly enthralling movie - but then what? Well, they all wanted to know what it was about; and of course I could say absolutely nothing because the more I thought about how to describe it and the plotline the less sense I could make of it and the more clearly its twists and turns became integral to any description.

For anyone out there who has not yet succumbed to the delights of this movie, I'd hate to spoil their fun. But trust me, Norton and Pitt turn in applause-worthy performances; the script is taut and funny; and Meatloaf actually makes you believe he can act. It's a dark comment on these dark times and well worth the ride.

Gentlemen's Relish (2001) (TV)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
I couldn't help myself enjoy this, 2 August 2001
7/10

Okay, fair cop, I confess that with Douglas Henshall in the cast list I would have watched this regardless. But what a way to begin the New Year (it premiered on BBC1 on New Year's Day 2001). It's a charming tale and beautifully presented. The costumes are lush and the setting is just right. Billy Connolly's relationship with Sarah Lancashire is so tenderly played that it captures your heart. She's come a long way since her soap opera days on "Coronation Street".

It has a sparkling script and each of the main characters has their own star moments. Why Henshall thinks he's playing Michael Caine is beyond my comprehension, but for all the incongruity of hearing Cockney geezer-speak coming from his Glaswegian born and bred mouth it is still a charming performance. The piece has adult content, but much of the script and performances are pure nostalgia with nudge-wink humour and old-fashioned romance. As someone who mostly loathes slapstick it's a joy to find farce so well presented. Even the minor characters (caricatures) fit the storyline well.

If granny has a rather ribald humour you might find that you can take her back in time with such a gentle-humoured drama. It wouldn't win any prizes for radical experimentation or high-quality anything, but it is a light and frothy way to fill any evening.


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