Reviews written by registered user
Howlin Wolf

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526 reviews in total 
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The politics of ownership..., 15 August 2017
10/10

All of the classic Scorsese preoccupations (masculinity, fraternal bonding, religion, movies, music... ) are already here, and touched upon to quietly devastating effect.

Heresy as it may be to say this, this film makes me wish that Keitel had swapped places with De Niro, as Marty's primary leading man, before Leo came along...

It's refreshing in 1967 to see Scorsese wrestling with the treatment of women. The idea that everything goes back to 'blame', and that it's somehow the woman's responsibility to 'repent', instead of requiring a man to deal with his own insecurities. The subject presents perhaps a necessary reminder for some, that females have been getting a raw deal for a long time... even if fewer people were addressing it, back then.

(and just in case anyone is tempted to say anything... I'm a social justice pacifist, not a social justice warrior... It means you can hold a contrary opinion, and I won't fight you over it... but I still think you're wrong!) :-)

The main takeaway from this is: Don't expect the mere existence of suffering and pain to be the factor which repairs something that is broken... because sometimes, it can't.

They should have kept "I Call First" as the title, by the way!

This is a fabulous film, and despite having seen it for the first time today, is already up there with "Raging Bull" as my favourite Scorsese work (it's probably a coincidence that they're both in black and white!)

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Blank Canvas..., 28 October 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I didn't HATE it, but I really think it could have been told better...

To me, the movie wanted the story to have Gerda's perspective, rather than Lili's... The audience is with Gerda every step of the way from when she first encounters Lili as a genuine identity... but we never see Lili find herself, as a child; we're just told about it, and given the explanation that she was 'always there'...

I'm sure that's true, but if so, we needed to see it from the beginning - not have our first introduction be a crass 'dressing up' episode with stockings that the character has to embarrassingly retcon later, with a single line of dialogue. It just gives more fuel to the illusion that it's the outside appearance that matters, not the feelings inside... Since it's the first impression we're given, the lie stays imprinted on our minds, despite the denial later.

It's GERDA that suggests the stockings, and GERDA that suggests Lili come to the reception, when she first kisses Henrik... We see both of these things, but we don't see Lili first experience life on her OWN terms. That makes everything that subsequently happens to her feel instigated by other people - even if this was actually untrue, and not what the film wished to depict.

99 Homes (2014)
99 problems, but a ditch ain't one!, 30 August 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film was as much about corruption as it was about the ordinary and unfortunate.

The problem with the movie is that it took people who knew what they were doing (Nash) and people who were tricked (old guy), and tried to pretend that they're all the same and that they're all victims... They weren't. Some people didn't deserve to lose their homes, but some absolutely did.

I think it was trying to show 'all sides' - but if you're going to do that, then you don't turn your realtor into a ruthless villain... It's like it wanted to be realistic, but at the same time take things to an extreme to maximise drama. Pick a lane!

Shannon and Garfield are both great to watch, so the theatrics still make for great cinema even as they are sometimes ridiculously unbelievable. It's a good enough film as it is, so it's something poignant when it only makes you wonder how much better a REALISTIC film on the same subject would be!

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Bored of Mind - Time Out!, 24 August 2016
5/10

I admire what the film was trying to do, but all I got from it is that homelessness is a sad and unfortunate situation. I knew that before I watched the film; you don't need to take two hours to tell me that. I care about homelessness as a general issue, but if you're going to make me spend so much time with someone, then you need to give me a reason beyond his immediate circumstance to care about THIS particular person, and for all Gere's fine acting, I didn't feel that the film achieved that.

Making a documentary about people who sleep rough would be so much more emotional than the cliché of Hollywood star being made to slum it, and trying to get us to buy into them reconnecting with their estranged family... All the innovative camera angles in the world can't disguise the thinness of the main story.

Burnt (2015/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Looks reasonably appetizing - but there just isn't enough flavour..., 29 July 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

We're shown a guy who was given too much pressure at an early age and didn't know how to handle it... but instead of taking the audience through that period, the story picks him up on the rebound, when he's trying to rehabilitate himself and repair his reputation. His destruction in Paris would've added thickness to the stereotype of every hot-tempered chef we've ever seen, and yet this backstory is alluded to, but not included. Without the meaty conflict provided by losing everything, his tale of redemption tastes pretty bland.

Not to mention that the details the story DOES turn on are a little unconvincing... The entire minutiae of the quest to acquire a third Michelin star was ridiculous. The whole point is for the assessors to be undercover so they can observe usual practice... so the idea that they have a set routine that the chefs can easily spot would be counterproductive...

However, even if they DID and DO have such a routine, the notion that some random software salesmen from another part of the country would unwittingly duplicate it EXACTLY, just so the movie can create a false crisis, is ridiculously unbelievable!

The dish we're served on screen looks pretty, and is adequate enough whilst we're watching it, but if you're looking for lasting nourishment, then there just aren't enough fresh ingredients included!

Bang to Rights..., 10 July 2016
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Naked Gun movies had a character who didn't know he was stupid, mostly based in reality... Leslie Nielson flopping over a waterfall with some dolphins (instead of salmon?) is not in any way based in reality... Take out the jokes and Naked Gun still sort of vaguely hangs together as a police movie, but Wrongfully Accused is not in any way thrilling... All of the Naked Guns are far better movies. This and Spy Hard (haven't seen Dracula Dead and Loving it, and I suspect I don't want to!) are terrible.

They may be spoofs, but Naked Gun still went to the trouble of providing a solid context for the absurdity... Wrongfully Accused isn't remotely interested in the setup to a joke, just its negligible payoff, and regrettably, this haphazardness shines through in the final quality of the film.

Boyhood (2014/I)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Maturity erases innocence..., 5 May 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I definitely enjoyed the second half less than the first... but the mom having a meltdown made it bearable, because it kind of brought things around full circle. She's upset that life has passed her by, and it just makes you wonder if he's going to be looking back on his life in 30 years, and thinking the same thing...

That's the point about growing up, I guess - you don't realise it's happened until it's already gone...

The beauty of the structure of this film is that it allows the audience to preserve moments that have already become foggy, for the characters.

There are slow spots over the runtime, but it has a stronger point than some of Linklater's other slice-of-life projects ("Slacker", for instance!).

Mr. Self-Absorbed ..., 28 April 2016
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The narrator was beyond annoying - show, don't tell! It's forgivable if the narrator is there to establish proceedings, or is in fact the main character commenting on his own actions, but neither of those functions were in use, here... If you can't create interest in a character without telling us what he's thinking, your premise doesn't work for me.

The storytelling technique made the film as a whole insufferably smug; my opinion is that Baumbach has done much better work, and it's a shame, because I liked Stoltz and Sciorra together.

The subject had potential, but was ruined for me by a framing device that only serves to keep the viewer at arms length from the characters, instead of preoccupied with them. I couldn't gain any satisfaction from the optimistic ending, because I was constantly being told who the characters were (or weren't!) instead of being afforded the luxury of discovering them for myself.

Ted 2 (2015)
I, Ted ..., 5 March 2016
6/10

I don't expect it to make sense, it's a comedy; the real issue is why MacFarlane thought that the legality of identity would be funny, because it's... not. The philosophical semantics kill any laughs because they're so dry... All the amusing bits are cutaways and side gags of the type that MacFarlane is famous for, but they have nothing to do with the main plot, so a naturally lighter subject should have been chosen for the story, to make the whole thing flow better and feel funnier.

Macfarlane seems to think he can take heavy subjects like big screaming fight scenes, (a "Raging Bull" homage) and they will automatically be made funny because a teddy-bear is there... Not true; you have to be cleverer than that. He's a funny guy, but he surrounds his amusing ideas with belaboured bits that go on too long, and then has to use a pop-culture joke or a movie reference to reverse himself out of the cul-de-sac his singlemindedness has created... The longer a misfire goes on, the more you're likely to notice it; keep the attempts at humour snappier so that the duds are likely to slide off quicker.

Just because you've created a character and it's funny doesn't mean that everything you do with them is golden. He should be thankful for the few genuine laugh-out-loud moments he's got in the tank, because they get him out of jail and earn this movie a higher rating than it would otherwise deserve.

The laughs are there, but they're not as diverse as the first movie. It tries to be oddly serious and 'weighty', for some reason, and it's not a great choice. Recommended only for those who would watch Ted in anything!

John Wick (2014)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Got on my Wick..., 10 February 2016
4/10

You could have written this on the back of a napkin... 'Guy's dog is murdered; guy goes mental, efficiently killing those responsible. The End'. There's no colour to the story, whatsoever; there are only garish colours in the nightclub scenes. If all you need to think something is cool is to see people getting beaten up or shot, then join the Army...

Indiscriminately colouring random subtitles to look like comic book speech panels got old fast, too.

This is going to make me sound all 'get off my lawn' (if I hadn't already!) but action movies used to be done so much better... These days, apparently all you need to make a popular action film is some fast editing and fight choreography, with the barest hint of a premise that absolutely no thought has gone into fleshing out - the end result being that the finished product has less depth than a puddle. I must be demanding, but for what I want out of even the most streamlined revenge flick, that just ain't good enough!


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