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A very important film - the history, including the recent renaissance
A beautifully produced film describing the history of the of LSD, with interviews with Hofmann, Leary and Dr. Roland Griffiths who is now opening up research again, and finding important uses for psilocybin in psychiatry again.
The sad story of the 20 years of darkness where psychoactive drugs have been daemonised and attacked - mainly because of the threat that they posed to the war mongers who didn't wish for peace marches to interfere with the Vietnam War.
It's sad to see the sickness of the military 'mind' that sought to use LSD for CIA interrogation and, when that failed, as a means of attacking whole cities.
It is wonderful that such an important means of enhancing human life is coming back into the open again.
The film also has appearances from Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead!
The Last Word Monologues (2008)
Comedy as black as blindness
If you like your humour as black as blindness, then you'll find these comic. They're on the border between profound and touching emotion and mawkish sentiment. I think that the brilliance of the acting mainly keeps them on the profound side, but I see that one reviewer finds that just that brilliance kept him from experiencing the raw emotion because, ironically, it made them seem less real, but that wasn't my experience.
I say mainly because Bob Hoskins obsessive-compulsive gangster was the weakest of the three, though it was funny.
Sheila Hancock's was the strongest performance but I might be swayed by the sound argument it presents for the legalisation of assisted suicide - why should people have to travel to Zurich? What tiny act of kindness could not, in the cold light of a courtroom, be judged to have been 'assistance' to suicide?
Rhys Ifans was amusing in a grim, Welsh way, and the bleakness of the story reminded me of 'House of America', another sodden Welsh blanket of a film. The plot, though, was not packed with surprising twists.
Ghastly piece of rubbish
Slow and pointless. Strangely it manages to be confusing too, jumping between various yanks, all notable for being loud and unpleasant.
I hadn't realised that Madonna was involved with this project. It makes sense, though. It's loud, brash and empty.
I thought that I was doing a favour to my wife by getting what looked like an entirely girlie film - awash with anti-male prejudice. Sadly she didn't like it either.
What a waste.
I can't imagine who would want to watch this sort of rubbish. It must appeal to somebody or, presumably, the time and money wouldn't have been wasted on it.
Excellent - fun and though provoking - a timely examination of corruption.
We're really enjoyed the BBC series 'Bodies' (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398427/).
'House' was an excellent platform for Hugh Laurie's wonderful acting skills, with a pleasant little medical mystery woven in, particularly in the early episodes. 'Bodies' seems much more like the real thing.
It's, naturally for a BBC series, got the standard political stance - elective caesarians are seen as sins against the Holy Ghost, though, to be fair, even there the episode makes the proponents of both sides of the (very simplistic) debate such unlovely characters that the BBC opinion isn't shoved too firmly down the throat. It is a little heavy-handed to have the pro-elective party also the hysterically litigious one, but, there you are, the laws of the BBC universe can only be bent so far.
What I like most is its examination of complicity, camaraderie and their insidious conversion into corruption. It looks as if the rest of the series will be examining corruption, and it's always an important matter - humans can never be rid of corruption, it can only be dealt with by constant vigilance.
I am, and always have been, a huge fan of the whistleblower - one of the few genuine heroes, in my opinion. This series makes it clear just how much honesty of this sort is hated and how difficult it is for even brave, principled and intelligent people to blow the whistle - even on corruption with extremely grave and wide-spread consequences.
I enjoyed the scene of the 'golden corridor' - the enclave of the administrators. It is interesting that the decision to wrest hospital administration from the dead cold hands of the Lancelot Spratts, of Richard Gordon's delightful fictions, was both the most obviously sensible, and the most clearly barmy decision one could imagine. Naturally the corruption simply passes from the medical to the administrative - without, of course, removing the opportunities for medical corruption so ably depicted here.
The acme of corruption is where the self-interests of both the medical and administrative staff coincide - I look forward to a good battle with, one hopes, humanity winning over the Kafkaesque Leviathan of the NHS.
The humour isn't quite up to the level of Jo Brand's 'Getting On', but it's getting on for being as good in places.
It's a dramatisation, and a good one, so you can't expect too much complexity, but the stark line between medical incompetence and administrative error is badly drawn. There seems to be no room left for the genuine and real possibility of misadventure through pure chance. The slimy, incompetent surgeon is seen to make a mockery of the judgement that 'nobody is to blame' - but, often, that simply is the case.
I look forward to the treat of watching the rest of the series!
The Hunger Games (2012)
A mediocre idea that could have been made into a good film - but this is not it.
A mediocre idea that could have been made into a good film - but this is not it.
Watching 'Hunger Games'. Pity about the Apple-loops excuse for music. Nice to have it all so predictable - perfect watching for Alzheimer's patients.
What a horrifying film, though, far, far, in the future and humanity hasn't evolved beyond 'reality' plebvision....
Isn't it fortunate that, as Yogi Berra pointed out, 'It's difficult to make predictions, particularly about the future'.
Pathetic, really. They don't even know what 'star crossed' means. How sad, they could have made an interesting film, instead of this tosh.
I thought, for a while, that it might be anti-fascism, instead it was a bad modern re-make of 'Triumph of the Will'. Yankland Über alles in der Welt'.
Well, I suppose that you have to accept that it reflects the Zeitgeist. I think that Neitzche, if shorn of all his aesthetic sensibilities, might have liked it.
What is worst about the whole thing, really, is that such a badly made, fascist film is so popular - if it had just gone straight to DVD, where it belongs, it wouldn't be such a sad indictment on popular taste and popular sentiment (sentimentality, really).
I suppose that we have to accept that, like the depression in the 1930s, this depression has, almost inevitably, led to an adoption of fascist mawkishness. Wouldn't it be nice if humanity was capable of something better.
Four Christmases (2008)
Deeply depressing, but probably accurate
Well it's a highly predictable film, in every way, and every character and situation is a stereotype of the sort of things and people you'd expect to find in the US.
So it's deeply depressing - from one point of view. From the other, like reading the book of Job, it's funny, not in the way intended, but because it shows just how utterly ghastly life can be for some people.
There was virtually no humour in the whole film - tons of humor, though, with all the actors clearly thinking that they were being deeply amusing.
In the 'Celluloid Closet', Quentin Crisp remarks on how people who travel to America return to England and remark on how it is so exactly like the films - and, he adds, 'it is'. This film has the hall marks of accuracy.
Dear Wendy (2004)
More like a documentary than anything else
I'm afraid that I don't really see the ironies that other reviewers seem to see. Maybe the film is too good, or maybe it's just difficult to be ironic about this sort of thing.
It comes across, to me, as a documentary. This is just the sort of thing that children, particularly inadequate ones, do in that part of the world. The use of massive lethal force against a group of , essentially unarmed children (their weapons are ancient and don't work very well) also seems par for the course in that part of the world.
I suppose that buying a real gun in a toyshop by mistake is a bit of a stretch, but, in the context, it seemed quite likely - I'd not be surprised if it had happened.
So, what's the moral message? I suppose, if you have children, bring them up in a civilised country. That's all I can see.
10 Days to War (2008)
Good film, but very depressing
This film is about the lies and deceit that led up to the second illegal invasion of Iraq.
It is told through a series of short films showing how various parties were deceived and how the deceit was pushed through.
It's a well-made documentary, but, of course, deeply depressing. How could two of the worlds larger democracies (the US and UK) allow themselves to be duped into making an illegal war by two psychopaths? This film mainly covers Phony Tony and his role in both creating and spreading the lie that there were 'weapons of mass destruction' in Iraq and suggesting that this false claim justified his invasion, even though the UN had not sanctioned it.
There are some unanswered questions - why didn't the UN pass a resolution forbidding the war? That probably wouldn't have stopped the mad duo from the invasion, but it would have made it easier to prosecute them.
Why, still today, has Phony Tony not been prosecuted for war crimes and treason? Ditto, the Shrub? Can a democracy, operating under the rule of law really ignore war crimes of this magnitude?
We went to see this today. It's a long film, with far too much time spent in boring fight sequences. The plot is peculiar and convoluted to say the least.
Sadly, too, there is little novelty here. The same old characters, mainly, continue in the same old way.
If you enjoyed the previous two films, then there is much to enjoy here, it is fun, but it leaves you much less satisfied than before.
I was surprised, and impressed, that Captain Sparrow appears to be something of a classicist, or lawyer as, at one point, and aptly, he says 'res ipse loquitur' and there are no sub-titles to interpret the remark. Could this lead to more children taking an interest in Latin? If so, three cheers to the film, that sort of intellectually enriching stuff is seldom seen, or, rather, heard, in a Hollywood film.
There are some amazingly sloppy anachronisms, though. Early in the film a child sings before being executed, and shows us that he is undergoing modern orthodontic treatment. It'd have been easy to conceal his braces, or, better, to have used another child. Is this just laziness, or is it a deliberate signal that they're taking the peess out of the audience because they don't care as long as they get the money - or is there some excuse that it's a 'post-modernist' piece of deliberate rubbish (relabelled because of IMDb yankish puritanism)?
Some scenes appear to have been left in without any recollection of the original point. There's a rotting sea creature (a giant squid perhaps) on the beach at one point that the characters walk around, prod and consider it's huge eye - the reason for this isn't ever explained and there is no point to it in character or plot development, it's just there. Why couldn't it have been cut out? The film would have been shorter and less pointless - I suppose they spend a lot of money making the creature so had to include it as some sort of justification.
Keith Richards appearing as Jack's father has very little point to it, apart from just that - it's a self -indulgent reference to Depp using him as part of his character development. Clearly Keith manages to live, against all odds, but he can't act.
Unless you're really keen on the Pirates, and I'm quite fond of them, I must say, I'd avoid this. The little Latin isn't enough to make it interesting, not really. There were one or two rather good jokes, but, tellingly, I can't remember them a few hours later. The multiple Depp instantiations, as Sparrow's hallucinations, are, again, simply self- indulgence, it diminishes the effect of Depp's character and makes it all feel as if it is just a vehicle for his acting - good acting, certainly, in context, but shallow and mannered when isolated like this, it makes him appear simply hammy, an unkindness, I think, to Depp's undoubted talent.
Calypso, the goddess, apparently, was deeply unimpressive, as was the silly puzzle that looked interesting, but was trite in solution, to returning from Davey Jones Locker.
In summary, to long, to thin and too lazy.
Mawkish, bleak and unpleasant
I'd give this unpleasant film a miss.
It is extraordinary how such a good combination of ingredients - excellent actors, filmed in English, in England - can produce such a nasty result.
The plot doesn't hang together well. Various ideas are brought up in a scene only to be discarded completely, with no particular relevance to anything.
The film is maninly an attack on old age and it aims as many humiliations at the elderly as it possibly can. The gratuitous nastiness extends to all sorts of situations - there's an impossibly callous and cruel surgeon, an unconvincingly brutal boy friend and many others.
Peter O'Toole acts brilliantly, of course, but it is all such a waste. The film is maudlin and mawkish at the same time as being nasty - an unusual combination, I suppose, but that's no reason to waste time seeing this.
The girl acts fairly well too, but, again, to little point. Here character isn't well developed, and certainly not pleasant enough to warrant any attention from an old man. She is unconvincing on many levels. I'm sure, that with a decent script, and an interesting plot, she could be a reasonably good actress, but this would be thin material for even a top flight actress.
There are some feeble attempts at humour. Probably the best example is; 'You know what they say about blind prostitutes?' 'You've got to hand it to them'. Brilliant wit, eh? And that's about as good as it gets.