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Opulent but little really happening
There's a lot to like about this film. The acting is brilliant, the script strong, the costumes and sets are amazing... yet there is a sense that it moves from point A to only point A.0001. And even that fairly languidly. The action is set over essentially one day (actually slightly longer) and of course only so much can happen. As Miss Pettigrew is thrown into a somewhat strange world of relative extravagance and frivolity she adapts remarkably well, or, more correctly, reminds this peculiar world of what the real world is like. This is a somewhat old fashioned tale of what can happen in a world on the brink of war but the biggest changes happen in the lives and hearts of the story's main characters. Many reviews here just gush about the film. As I have said, it is throughly splendid - but be prepared. It is more like a gentle boat ride than a roller-coaster.
Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
Truly beautiful and heartwarming - but FULL of clichés
OK, let me say right off the bat that I really enjoyed the movie. It was a lovely story and well told BUT it is incredibly predictable and clichéd. It really feels like a Hallmark special or a midday movie, made for TV type film. It is somewhat reminiscent of Spellbound and has some of the charm but although it makes you feel like it may be based on a true story it just doesn't quite ring true. The clichés - 1. the poor, working class, unappreciated but intelligent minority girl who triumphs over all odds, 2. the hard-working tough-exterior single mum who wants Akeelah to get her head out of the clouds but is eventually won over 3. The brother getting into trouble hooking up with the wrong crowd 4. the brilliant but irascible professorial type who is carrying his own baggage but learns to come to grips with his challenges through the medium of the bright young courageous heroine 5. the cold, heartless driven Asian types who must win at all costs (BTW - a bit racist that) Is there room to squeeze in just one more cliché...??? Well, yes there is - the young, single mum older sister, the geekiness of the other spellers, the early failure only to be saved at the last minute by the disqualification of a cheat... If you took the clichés out of this movie there's be nothing left. I thought Javier was great, Akeelah was stunning, Larabee played a great role, and it was good to see Booger back on the screens - that college education really paid off for him going on to be a school principal.
Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
That this film is running at a 5.2 is a shocking and sad indictment on the IMDb voters quite frankly. OK, maybe its not for everyone - fair enough. But it is a quirky, whimsical and occasionally startlingly beautiful piece of film-making with some powerful messages... I guess it's true - most people are walking around asleep... OK - apparently I have to write some more lines - 1) It has a magnificent cast, 2) It has some truly laugh-out-loud funny moments, 3) it touches on some serious issues and addresses them with great sensitivity, 4) It has a sharp script, and 5) who can't relate to a dead-end job, crap boss and the fear of stepping out into the unknown? I didn't watch it when it first came out and I'm kinda glad - it might have ruined it for me this time around had I not appreciated it originally. Wake up and give this movie another try - it might surprise you.
This is a truly rare creature, a storyline without a single sympathetic character or redeeming feature. The four chief protagonists (a word chosen deliberately) are so thoroughly unlikeable that I had no interest whatsoever in watching their misery unfold. I also struggled to imagine anyone acting in such a way as the ensemble - an impressive cast indeed - and simply could not relate to any aspect of the film. Jude Law's dialogue and Julia Roberts' reactions when she was photographing him were nauseating and the notion that she might not have simply laughed in his face defies logic. In my experience people seldom act like they do in this movie and, for the very few who do, their lives end up in nothing but misery. I have and had no interest in watching this train-wreck happen on screen.
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Heavy-handed piece of political propaganda
This film has clearly provoked strong reactions and that is a very positive thing. It has also helped break down some of the political apathy that plagues the West. Another positive thing. However, as a documentary it resorts to bludgeoning its viewers with its ideology rather than advocating for it and that I found hard to swallow. I have enjoyed Moore's efforts being a fan of the Awful Truth and even finding Bowling for Columbine thought-provoking but there were too many strained conclusions in this movie for me to not rebel. There were probably three key points that nauseated me: 1) It assumed its audience would be basically ignorant of most of its key premises (or possible alternative facts and hence conclusions), 2) It drew the worse possible conclusions from the facts available or the conclusion most suggestive of Bush family incompetence or conspiracy, and 3) It was definitely not above using its subjects in the worse possible way either to be held up to ridicule or manipulated for its own purposes. One key example - the Bushes are responsible for special treatment of Saudi Arabia... The US and the Saudis have had a close relationship for decades and Saudi Arabia has long been seen as one of the few Allies the US has in the Middle East. This is a relationship which has been extremely valuable to the US and will continue to be, regardless of the President of the moment. The Wahabist involvement in terrorism is well-known as is the funding coming out of Saudi however, that doesn't change the fundamental state relationships. That it got a rousing ovation at Cannes is certainly no surprise - it played right up to the prejudices of the Europeans and Hollywood's liberal luminaries. Some interesting and important points could have been made in this film - it is just a shame they weren't. As propaganda this film was highly successful, as a piece of advocacy it was sadly lacking.
Wedding Crashers (2005)
Modern Romantic Comedy
Just watched this last night and I really enjoyed it. It manages to be something that is pretty rare, namely a romantic comedy that is both romantic and funny. Most romantic comedies go heavy on the romance and soft on the comedy (ie anything with Meg Ryan in it - the odd funny bit/moment - mostly about the every-girl eventually hooking up with the right man). This film is laugh-out-loud funny most of the way through. Its also a great buddy movie and has a great romantic plot line running through-out. The most surprising thing, however (at least for me) was the lovely Isla Fisher. I expected very little from her but she absolutely stole this movie from under her far more accomplished leads. She was cute, funny and utterly terrifying all at the same time. Nice to see a former Perth girl ripping it up. This is not sophisticated in any sense of the word but if you're looking for a light, fun watch this could be for you.
Brainwashing 101 (2004)
Interesting topic. decent effort, let down by obvious bias
I watched the free version available on the internet. This is certainly a topic that could do with greater exposure as the culture of speech bullying becomes entrenched on campuses around the world. This doco tries to make some worthwhile points but lets itself down by pushing far too obviously a conservative agenda. The stories presented were more than capable of making the point by themselves. A more impartial style of inquiry would likely have been more effective. Of course some will say this type of film-making is necessary to counter the obvious bias of left-leaning filmmakers (Mike Moore is one previously mentioned by other posters) but their obvious agendas also let their films down. Someone needs to make it absolutely clear that there is no right to not be offended/confronted/challenged. The expression of another person's opinion - no matter how stupid or ludicrous - that you may disagree with is never enough to justify stifling it. Universities should be bastions - perhaps the strongest bastions - of the defence of free speech. They were built on the notion of defeating bad ideas with exposure to good ones - no matter how unpopular those ideas may be.
A real curate's egg...
It seems from the more popular comments that people want to believe that this episode is a vindication of Lucas' genius. Firstly let me say that Lucas' genius needs no vindication but if it did - this film would not be it. It is a classic example of the proverbial curate's egg - absolutely breathtaking in its scope and vision in parts, and agonisingly, excruciatingly unbearable in parts. However, it really had to achieve just three main things, 1) marry the storyline up with A New Hope - achieved, 2) appease the die-hards - apparently achieved, and 3) create an engaging film which is capable of standing independently - highly questionable. The concepts and ideas tend to work well, the 'big' scenes and fights are pretty spectacular but the personal journeys of the major protagonists and the inter-personal and particularly the romantic elements were abysmal. I know I'm not the first to say this but I think Lucas is spectacular at what he does well. Unfortunately character development and romance are not part of his incredible repertoire. Just my opinion - no doubt some will agree, others call me crazy.
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Not quite the movie I thought it was
This is an interesting movie, well made and presents some important questions from a particular viewpoint. What it isn't is anti-gun, in spite of the publicity and the comments previously made. Mike Moore is great at what he does and he does it again in this film. I almost expected to see Crackers the Corporate Crime Fighting Chicken accosting someone at K-Mart for awhile there. But, although the movie is quite manipulative in many ways, I thought the juxtaposing of Canada's record against that of the USA was somewhat insightful. Coming from a Western country with superficially similar background to the USA (not unlike Canada) I came away from BFC with the impression that the real probelm is lack of social welfare - and that this problem is translated into gun deaths by dint of availability. This goes back to the question being asked by the Flint Sherriff (I think), is it false economy to take mothers out of homes from dawn til dark for minimum wage? Are the social costs outweighing the benefits? Many difficult questions, no clear answers. Sounds a lot like life. My vote 8/10
The Other Side of Heaven (2001)
Nice story, limited audience
I really did enjoy this film, although it is certainly no cinematic masterpiece, however I do think it would be of fairly limited appeal to a non-Mormon audience. It is a fairly slow and simple story, done fairly simplistically, but not without its charms. To really appreciate it I suspect one would need to have some background knowledge of the key elements of the movie. I was certainly surprised to see it as a Disney movie and was mortified to see other posters suggesting that the advertising for the film was less than forthcoming on the true nature of the storyline. For what it is, its very entertaining and uplifting, but I would strongly suspect that this film will not appeal to a wide audience. My Vote 7/10 (although I unashamedly admit my own bias)