Reviews written by registered user
David_Niemann

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39 reviews in total 
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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Mostly good film ruined by empty ending, 5 September 2003
6/10

The setting is modern day urban France. Maria, her boyfriend Karim, her best friend Linda and Karim's best friend, Manu, are the main characters in this at times powerful and intriguing yet ultimately empty film.

The first 20 minutes or so are very dull, especially the scenes between Karim and Manu. But Linda has charm and is a nice character, and whilst Maria isn't the most likeable character to ever appear in a film, she does have a certain quality that engages the audience, say, an X-factor.

Once the film gets going it's mostly a good to average experience. One of the film's main strengths is its portrayal of the ethnic melting pot that is modern day France. Racism is a subject running through the film, from inter-racial relationships to police brutality and ignorance, which is the other main aspect of the film. After she is caught shoplifting, Maria is taken to a police station. And what unfolds will become one of her worst nights ever.

And while all of this is very moving and involving, towards the latter part of the movie everything really kind of sinks. A plot turn is handled very messily and our feelings toward certain characters are almost turned on their head. And the ending is empty, trying to tie up everything but tying up nothing.

One aspect of the film that I must mention is the cinematography, which is excellent, especially towards the end of the film. Also, the editing, also near the end, is wonderful. The editing of Maria thinking back to what happened to her is superb.

Pascal, the Police Inspector, is a very nice character who is very chipper. The `evil cop' character seems a little over done, but at the same time you never think what he does cannot or hasn't already happened in real-life, and I'm sure, sadly, it has.

While the film isn't terrible, and does have it's good moments, I can't really recommend this ultimately empty experience.

6/10

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Good film, but shock might over shadow finer points, 1 September 2003
7/10

The general outline of the movie: 5 minutes of sex. 40 seconds of no sex. 5 minutes of sex. 30 seconds of no sex. 10 minutes of sex. 40 seconds of no sex. 5 minutes of sex. 20 seconds of no sex. 10 minutes of sex. Etc, etc, etc. And no, I'm not exaggerating, that is literally how it is.

Oh my goodness! This definitely has to be the most graphic movie I have ever seen. This film was banned for over 20 years, and while I do not agree with censorship, I can certainly see why it was banned. This has to been some of the rawest, brutality honest and just plain bona fide scenes of sex ever captured on film.

The plot centres on a young Japanese geisha, Sada Abe, and her boss, Kichizo. He takes a shine to her and they spend quite a lot of time together, and decide to get married. And the film is pretty much just them having sex. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of sex. Did I mention they have sex a lot?

Kichizo seems to be a sex addict. In fact, it's pretty much the only thing he does and talks about. I was interested to find out this movie is based on a real-life story, so in a way I feel the sex is justified if this all actually happened.

If you're the type of person offended by breasts, DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE! This movie is so graphic I was happy for a reprieve of just breasts. In fact this film is so graphic breasts shouldn't be defined as nudity here. And I can tell you I'll never eat eggs again!

You might think I'm talking too much about the sex, but really there's not much else to discuss. Being liberal I'd say the film is about 85% sex. But the scenes that do not contain any sex (about 4 minutes, I'd say) are quite beautiful. Japan is such a beautiful place, not only the landscape but also the architecture. It's disappointing that these elements were not utilised more. I think in retrospect there is much more to this film than just the sex. However I feel as if I was so taken aback by the sex that the film's finer points may have passed me by. Certainly, the film gets better as it progresses and continues until it reaches it's shocking but surprisingly beautiful ending.

This really isn't a bad film. Technically it is very good and the significance it had on Japanese film culture and world censorship needs to be explored. I feel as if I can't recommend it, but as the credits went up I didn't feel as though I'd wasted my time. If you don't see this movie you're not really missing out on anything. However, if you think you can handle a lot of extremely candid sex scenes and are quite interested in the real-life story or film culture from around the world, then, with extreme caution, I'd say the film is worth it.

7/10

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Illegally Bland, 1 September 2003
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Elle Woods thinks she has it all. She goes to the coolest parties, has great friends and has a total babe for a boyfriend. And things are going to get even better! He's going to propose to Elle! Or at least that's what she thinks. But things go horribly wrong at dinner when instead of asking for her hand in marriage, he dumps her. In his mind, for his time at Harvard Law School to be successful he can't have such an unserious girlfriend, he needs a much more sophisticated and conventional girl. But Elle is heartbroken, for she is in love. But what's a girl to do? Duh! Isn't it obvious! Just improve your grades insanely high almost overnight, get into Harvard yourself and show him you're the smart girl you know you are. Like totally cool!

This is such a boring, unfunny, hypocritical, lame and unintelligent movie.

I'm not sure if it's because the last movie I watched before this was Spike Lee's legendary `Do The Right Thing', but I found this movie to be terribly white. I just got so sick and tired of seeing so many white people in this movie. (And I'd like to point out that I am white.) There are very few black or ethnic people in the film, with just three customers in a beauty salon (one completely in the background), an Asian woman in another beauty parlour and a judge only coming to mind. And the scene that includes the Asian woman turns disgusting as the subtitles say she swears. I found this terribly offensive and quite distasteful. Are there actually people out there that would find this drivel funny?

In one rather poorly constructed and pointless scene, a rather average looking guy asks a girl out on a date. She flatly refuses and call's him a loser. Upon overhearing this, Elle wants to help. So she pretends she spent a night with him filled with red-hot passion. The girl that called him a loser is now impressed and wants to go out with him. Yay for Elle for saving the day! Does anyone else see the immorality shown in this scene? The disgusting lack of ethics displayed in this atrocious scene pretty much sums up the movie. It is well meaning and wants to make a difference but is severely unintelligent in the way it goes about achieving its goals.

And how are we to believe that Elle truly has intelligence? In my mind anyone that actually believes someone that despises them has just genuinely invited them to a party is not only stupid but also profusely naïve.

The character of Vivian (played by the excellent Selma Blair, who struggles with the pathetic material she gets here) is ludicrously 'written'.

***SPOILER***

Vivian's turn around is just incredible. It was at this point that the film really lost me.

*** END OF SPOILER ***

The character of Paulette, who becomes a sort of confidant and shoulder to cry on for Elle, is one of the worst characters. Her character should have been limited to her first scene or completely cut. Words like arduous, pointless and inane spring to mind when thinking about Paulette. And the 'bend and snap' scene is one of the most truly horrendous moments ever captured on film. I felt like I wanted to be sick. It is the stuff nightmares are made of.

Reese Witherspoon is a great actress and here she comes off quite well. Though I never felt sorry for Elle, and in the end I didn't care about her at all. With some better writing this could have been the `Election' of law. Certainly, it's the writing and direction that makes the film a disaster, not the acting.

Elle's boyfriend, Warner Huntington III, at least adds something to the movie with one of the most truly funny lines in the film, `If I want to be elected Senator by the time I'm 30, I need to marry a Jackie, not a Marilyn.'

Luke Wilson is as wonderful as ever. But it's a shame he isn't in the film more as it's a case of blink and you'll miss him. And the same goes for the unbelievably talented and beautiful Holland Taylor (who plays a judge in The Practice). But she is in so little of the film it's very disappointing. And her last scene is awful; I felt sorry for her having to deliver such dire lines.

The film is very hypocritical. One of the main themes is 'don't judge someone's intellect by what they look like'. But the film goes back on its own words, when, shock, horror; Elle begins to show signs of intellect. Her wardrobe, even though still colourful, becomes much more conservative. And becomes more and more conformist as the film continues.

*** SLIGHT SPOILER ***

And the film's lasting message is cruel, deluded and just plain moronic. Good people end up with good lives and bad people end up alone and with bad lives. How could anyone find that uplifting and inspirational when a message like that is totally fraudulent and fanciful?

***END OF SLIGHT SPOILER***

I love anything to do with court cases. The Practice is one of my favourite television shows, and I even loved Ally McBeal. But the court case in this movie is so boring and insanely predictable. It felt like a rejected script from Ally McBeal. The woman, who they are defending in a murder case, is very dislikeable and ugly.

I understand the movie is not meant to be serious or realistic; I didn't watch it thinking it was going to be a hard-hitting drama. But if a film is meant to be light and fluffy it should at least be entertaining and funny. But this movie is just one boring and arduous scene after another. If you want to see a simular film (in style, not story), try the much superior 'Never Been Kissed'.

'Legally Blonde' is laborious and unintelligent garbage. I insist that you don't watch this putrid mess.

My score reflects how many times I laughed during the movie.

3/10

Tuno negro (2001)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Lightweight slasher flick fun, 27 August 2003
8/10

Alex has just arrived at university and before you can say ‘slacking off on studies' someone is hacking up students. But who would ever want to harm a university student? Well it seems as if someone in a Black Minstrel costume has a serious problem with the students, as who ever is underneath that costume is killing students at the university. Alex starts to think she might be on to the killer, but could her detective work make her the next victim?

I found myself really enjoying this slasher flick. I never found myself terribly scared but I was entertained nevertheless. If taken seriously, this film will disappoint. But if taken as the lightweight entertainment that it is, you'll probably have a good night in. This is one of those horror movies that fairs better when watched with a group of friends. You can all try to predict who the killer is; it's great fun! There are a few frights here and there but nothing to really scare you.

Technically the film is kind of average to good. The soundtrack is efficient but hardly noteworthy. The cinematography does what it has to. The horror effects are good, but the computer graphics look cheap and nasty. At least the setting of the university is beautiful.

The acting is competent from the main characters. The lead character of Alejandra (Alex), played by Silke Klein, does a good job but is sometimes lacking in emotion that some scenes require.

Recommended to horror fans looking to see a Spanish version of the teen hack ‘em up, or people who want to enjoy a good party movie.

8/10

1900 (1976)
100 out of 135 people found the following review useful:
Under-rated epic, 3 July 2003
10/10

"1900" follows the lives of two friends (although sometimes they seem more like enemies!) born on the same day in a beautiful part of Italy. Olmo is born a bastard to peasant farmers and Alfredo is the son of a wealthy businessman. We watch their lives unfold with vivid cinematography and lush visuals of the exceptionally beautiful countryside. The movie jumps forward, to the end of World War 1, and Olmo returns home after fighting. And essentially the film follows the exploits of the two protagonists as they deal with love, friendship, money, death and the evils of war.

The film unfolds like a finely crafted book, taking its time to tell its story.

Unfortunately, the version that I watched was horrendously dubbed. It was so bad my brother couldn't continue watching. I tried to look past this major fault, as I started to love the film's story and visuals, and it does get better, but I'd be extremely disappointed to find out a subtitled version doesn't exist. And to make matters worse, it was also a Pan & Scan version. This doesn't bother me too much if I'm watching, say 'Mrs. Doubtfire', but "1900" is definitely a wide-screen movie. Some scenes were practically ruined as characters are framed to the extreme right or left. For example, at the beginning where Olmo lays on the train line, I couldn't see him in the wide shot! I couldn't see what was going on. Terrible! And the version I watched came in at about 4 hours and 35 minutes. So it was a cut version, and this is blindingly obvious. The cuts are dreadful. This has to be some of the worst editing I have ever seen in my whole movie viewing life.

But for all these problems (easily solvable problems that have nothing to do with the movie itself (unless the dub is the original)) I fell in love with this movie. I didn't really notice the hours passing by; the story and the characters suck you into their world, and don't let go until the final credits roll. And even then they are stuck in your head, along with the more memorable scenes. I couldn't help but be reminded of my own childhood, even when the scenes had no context to my memories. For instance, the simple setting of workers ploughing a field bought back memories of playing in a big dirt mound in our backyard as a child, or beautifully lit scenes at sunset; I could almost feel the warmth. These memories made me feel really good, and whether it was intended or not to remind the audience of their childhoods, the film certainly had this wondrous effect on me.

I was quite shocked with some of the scenes in this film, especially the rape scene. While there is no sex shown at all (at least in this version), the crying eyes say more than any words or images could. You should be warned this film has some pretty graphic violence and contains a few explicit sex scenes. But the sex scenes are refreshingly realistic, as opposed to Hollywood's fraudulent version of sex.

The acting is, for the most part, admirably handled. Robert De Niro is convincing as the rich son with a poor peasant as his best friend. This role could have descended into cliché, but De Niro steers it clear of any such event. Towards the end of the film De Niro's performance is terrific. It's remarkable that in the same year that this was made, De Niro played a certain Travis Bickle in the seminal 'Taxi Driver.' 1976 was certainly De Niro's year! Gerard Depardieu is wonderful as Olmo. I have never seen a movie of Depardieu's where he was young, and I must say he was very handsome in his day! His performance elicits emotion without settling for sentimentality. The supporting cast do a good job. Burt Lancaster is both charming and divine, yet in one scene I was quite uncomfortable as to where it was going to lead. But he portrays this without the cliché of a `dirty-old-man' but rather a lonely man who may not remember where the line of decency may now lie. Donald Sutherland is disgusting beyond description. No, not his acting, but the character he plays. I haven't seen too many of Sutherland's films (unfortunately, off the top of my head I can only recall 'Fallen') but I'm keen to see more of his work, as his acting here is top notch. And the hunchback (sorry, can't remember his name) is delightfully endearing. Only some small characters have questionable acting talents, but in a film with so many bit parts this may well be expected.

The word 'epic' seems to imply greatly to this film. While the scope and size of the film is epic, the film relies heavily on the lives of the main protagonists. In a way this is an intimate epic, if such a thing could exist.

This is an excellent film that is highly recommended for people interested in Italian history, the landscape of Italy and beautifully crafted films. This particular version is recommended to people interested in gaining evidence that Pan & Scan is the work of Satan and that dubbing should be a sin.

If you enjoyed the films `Schindler's List' and `La Vita é Bella', then I'm sure you'll get something out of this film.

You shouldn't be turned off by the long running time of this film, you get so engrossed with the story the time just flies by. This is certainly an under-rated classic, treated poorly by some versions.

10/10 If in wide-screen, un-cut and subtitled. 9/10 If Pan & Scan, cut and dubbed.

But as I have to give one overall score, I'd have to say 10/10.

14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
One of the greatest television series ever made, 1 July 2003

When I was a kid I absolutely loved "Press Gang".

I really feel sorry for the children of today, who get served up so much crap. This show never once underestimated the intelligence of its audience. The story-lines and characters were believable, intelligent, gripping and emotionally powerful, as well as being incredibly funny.

I wanted to be just like the people in this show, and I even started writing my own "newspaper"!

Lynda Day was such a great character, played with real enthusiasm by the wonderful Julia Sawalha. And the supporting cast were magnificent.

The show was not afraid to address confronting social issues that were relevant to its audience. In some ways it is quite like the "Degrassi" series.

I long to see this show repeated on television here. Oh Press Gang, I love you!

"The Mole" (2000)
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
One of my favourites, 1 July 2003

"The Mole" is my favourite 'reality' television show, along with "The Amazing Race".

The show's format consists of around ten contestants who compete in a series of challenges, both physically and mentally straining. If the group succeed they win money. But there is one catch, among the group is a player deliberately sabotaging the challenges so that the group get less money. That person is the mole.

Unlike other 'reality' television shows such as Big Brother and Survivor, where people are voted off, this show rewards good thinking. At the end of the show each of the contestants must answer a series of questions relating to who they think is the mole. The person that is least right is eliminated. In the end there are only three people left: the mole, the winner and a loser. The final episode is always very tense and exciting.

This show is so captivating. Once you've seen one episode you're hooked. One hour a week isn't enough!

The show's host, Grant Bowler, is wonderful. He is sympathetic to the losing contestants and he has a devilishly fun side to him. But he always remains smooth, calm and relaxed.

"The Mole" is one of the best shows on television. I love it!

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful comedy/drama, 1 July 2003
9/10

Marva is an overweight teenager who regularly participates in karaoke competitions. Her father really believes in her and is always pining for her to win. Unfortunately she doesn't seem that good and gets low scores from the judges. This angers her father, as he knows she is capable of winning.

Early on, it seems as if he is just a loyal father, and would support his daughter no matter how bad a singer she was. But during a puppet-show for children, Marva (hidden behind the puppet-show stand) starts singing. Her voice is incredibly beautiful and passionate.

It seems that her confidence is severely under pressure in front of adults, who judge her for what she looks like. But children don't care what she looks like, so she is free to sing like an angel (I know its a cliché, but her voice is so sweet.) Her father, Jean, has dreams of success for his daughter, but is there a way to show-off her real talent to people at the record company?

Jean works a gruelling night shift in a bottle factory. When he loses his job, the family finances are put further into jeopardy. Producing a CD now looks impossible. But a chance encounter may provide Jean with the perfect opportunity for Marva to achieve a singing career.

While out driving, Jean's car brakes down. A female cyclist turns up to help fix the car. The woman just happens to be Debbi, the biggest singing sensation in this part of the world. So Jean kidnaps Debbi, thinking he can bribe the record company into giving Marva a chance.

Okay, so the plot might sound rather ridiculous. But if you go into this film wanting it to be 100% realistic, you'll probably hate it. While many scenarios are very realistic, this is more of a dreamer movie. Something not to be taken 100% seriously.

"Everybody Famous!" has some very funny scenes (the Michael Jackson mask) and some very sad moments. The scene where Jean desperately wants to win some money with scratch tickets is heartbreaking.

The acting is superb. Eva van der Gucht is simply wonderful as Marva. It is hard to believe that this was her first movie role! Josse De Pauw as the father is excellent. His desperation and love of his daughter is extremely moving. And I particularly liked Werner De Smedt as Jean's friend Willy. Willy is a very nice character and is someone who has a good heart. And plus, he is very good-looking. The supporting characters are all handled splendidly. I just wish Marva's best friend were featured more. It's like she's in it for two seconds!

The film also focuses on how the media twists things and presents things in a different manner. It a way it's almost 'Natural Born Killers 2.0' without the violence.

I loved the locations, especially near the beginning. The photography is well handled and rarely does the music become irritating. As a nice extra (well, at least for Aussies) Melbourne is mentioned! And the very last scene is charming.

This is an incredibly engrossing, intelligent, beautiful, funny, sad and all around wonderful film.

9/10

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Hilarious, 30 June 2003

This is by far the funniest late night chat show on television.

In my opinion, the thing that really makes the show a winner is Conan's spontaneity and rapid-fire wit. For instance, I used to watch The Late Show with David Letterman a lot, but whenever there was a guest that was unappealing to me, I would not continue watching. With Conan, however, even if he had the most boring guest on the planet he would add his trademark humour and spice up the interview. He just has this wonderful knack of coming up with consistently funny lines.

The sketches veer from absurdly weird to spot on satire. One of my favourites had Conan going on a "drive" with his desk, along with an audience member. It was also very funny when the show poked fun at 24-hour news channels broadcasting police chases. The episode was filled with cuts to toy cars chasing each other in a mock-news style. Very Funny!

I started watching this show when Andy was Conan's side-kick, and I thought Andy was very good, but I don't think the show has suffered from his departure.

This is a very funny show, hosted by a charmingly goofy guy, who is also refreshingly not stuck up. Highly recommended for fans of slightly left of centre comedy.

"Bull" (2000)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
I wished it had ran longer..., 30 June 2003

"Bull" follows the professional and private lives of a group of Wall Street stock-brokers.

Robert Roberts III (nicknamed "Ditto", for obvious reasons) leads a revolt from his grandfathers firm to start up his own firm, HSD Capital. But things may not be as easy as they first thought.

I found myself getting really engrossed by the characters lives and the story-lines. The acting is well done, you learn a lot about the back-story and family lives of the main six, and I like the fast paced dialogue.

I think the theme music is good and is quite distinctive. Also, the show's score will be familiar to fans of 'The X-Files' and "Millennium' etc, as Mark Snow is responsible for Bull's music. I also love the scene dividers, which are beautiful shots of New York in fast motion.

I don't really have a favourite character, as they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Carson "Rookie" Boyd is very interesting, as he supports his wife and baby, and sometimes they affect his judgements. Martin Decker is an odd guy! The scenes with his wife and son are amazing. His son is obsessed with his father's job and will probably be a stockbroker as well. Martin's wife keeps him grounded by offering sane advice whenever he is cooking up an insane plan. And the scenes with Marissa and her family are heartfelt and meaningful. It was a nice surprise to see Ryan O'Neal from 'Barry Lyndon' and in the last episode Tippi Hedren, 'The Birds', makes an appearance.

With the events of September 11, 2001, I was interested to see how this affected the show and how the writers handled it. But it was axed before it had the chance to tackle this issue.

I'm very disappointed to find this show was axed after such a short time. Bull is an intelligent, engrossing and witty program, and you don't need to be a business freak to understand it (though, if you have absolutely no idea about business your patience might be tested.)


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