Reviews written by registered user

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1230 reviews in total 
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Red State (2011)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Liked it., 8 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I liked this movie, even though its flaws were plain to see. First of all, it seems to suffer a kind of schizophrenia as it switches from teen comedy to teens-in-peril to horror to action-thriller, and finally (arguably) revealing itself as a satire in which those who survive are made to look foolish or misguided. While this might make the film a little messy (as many here seem to have described it) that doesn't prevent it from being compelling from start to finish. Michael Parks and John Goodman give unforgettable performances as the malevolent leader of a religious cult (who looks a bit like how you'd imagine Richard Branson's evil brother would look) and the ATF agent assigned to take him out respectively. Some of the dialogue borders on the sublime, while the situations - while admittedly outlandish - always manage to remain believable.

MacArthur (1977)
0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Military Man, 7 February 2012

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All nations have their heroes, but few of them are of interest to residents of other countries, and such is the case with General MacArthur. The name's familiar, but the details of his life are not, and to be honest I still don't know a lot more about the man MacArthur than I did before watching this over-long drama, which focuses on only a decade or so of his life. Peck plays the General in his usual wooden style, when you'd expect the man to be a little more larger than life. He's depicted as a supreme strategist who clashes with his President during the Korean war, and while the film appears to sympathise with him, it also portrays him as something of an egotist, obliquely comparing himself to the likes of Alexander, Napoleon and Caesar (at one point we actually see him wrapped in towels, toga-style). We learn virtually nothing of his personal life, nor of the earlier events in his life which surely must have shaped him into becoming the finished article we see on the screen.

Good one from Linder, 1 February 2012

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Quite a cute comedy from Max Linder, who was by now firmly established as France's top film showman. He's in familiar guise here as a down-on-his luck playboy whose joyful plans to spend a night on the town with his mate are scuppered by the fact that neither has a penny (or franc) to their name. Max's goes to his father for a hand-out, but is angrily shown the door. Later, his father receives an invitation to a ball, but on the way there he and his wife are robbed at gunpoint. The thief manages to take only some of the coins from the stolen purse before a handy policeman gives chase and recovers the purse while allowing the robber to flee. There's a neat little twist at the end of the film, which is quite a pleasing little entry in Max Linder's canon.

Life and Death in 5 Minutes..., 1 February 2012

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The life and death of Alexander Pushkin is summarised in a 5-minute sequence of half-a-dozen scenes that don't make much sense - especially when the film's subtitles are in Russian. We see Pushkin playing in the snow with his mates - presumably in some sort of military academy, although I may well be wrong as I know absolutely nothing about Pushkin. Then we see him perhaps receiving his commission, before we see him getting all moody at a ball. Presumably this is because some cad has been dallying with his girl, because we next see him mortally wounded in a duel and carried off to his death bed. The quality of the film I saw on the internet was pretty atrocious, which detracts even further from an already lifeless portrait.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
How Max got into the movies..., 1 February 2012

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This Max Linder short comedy isn't one of his best, but it does bear the distinction of a rare example of pioneering French movie makers in its cast. The film appears to comically recreate Linder's entry into the world of movie-making. He appears at a studio where he is shown from one office to the next and undergoes an audition. A week later he receives a summons from the studio to appear in his first film, a comedy in which he is thrown from an apartment window by a couple of women who then proceed to throw various pieces of furniture - including a table and wardrobe - on top of him. Directors Georges Monca and Lucien Nonguet, as well as studio boss Charles Pathe, all make appearances as themselves, although exactly who is who is anybody's guess. Not particularly funny, the film nevertheless has some value as an insight into the early years of movie-making.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Wild Child, 27 January 2012

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Funny how we think of the loutish behaviour of some of today's teens as a modern-day phenomenon. Here, in a short film more than one hundred years old, we see two tearaways terrorising a bed-ridden old lady, sabotaging a number of honest workmen as they go about their daily work, vandalising a bakery and taking a vehicle without consent - all in the space of six frenetic minutes. The difference is that these two are a couple of outwardly demure young maidens who immediately turn into anarchic terrors threatening the fabric of society the moment their father finishes warning them to be good. The girls in question are the quite delectable Alma Taylor (as the eponymous Tilly) and her partner in crime Sally, played by Chrissie White, both of whom would go on to become major stars of British silent cinema. The film is pretty good, and features some impressively mobile camera work. This was the first in a series featuring the terrible two that ran for five years. You can read more about them at

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Kalem Goes to Ireland, 27 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Lad from Old Ireland holds a place in history as being the first film shot overseas by an American cast and crew - but that's about the only thing which distinguishes it. Gene Gauntier wrote the script on the voyage across the Atlantic. Now, I don't know how long it took to cross the Atlantic in those days, but I'm sure she could have spent a lot longer developing her screenplay than she actually did. A period of seven years is spanned in no more than twelve minutes as Sidney Olcott (who also directed) leaves Old Ireland to make his fortune as a politician in America. While he's there, his sweetheart's family face eviction, and are only saved from being thrown out of their home when Sid arrives in the nick of time to reach deep into his wallet. Only 12 minutes, but the film drags interminably. You can read the story behind the making of this film at

Max Goes Skiing, 26 January 2012

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I don't think I could have seen the full version of this Max Linder comedy. The film I found on YouTube was only 4 minutes long - a short running time, even for 1910. I've seen some of this forgotten comic pioneer's other early movies, and have to say that the quality of the comedy is variable to say the least, ranging from truly hilarious to completely lacking in laughs. This one, in which - believe it or not - Max decides to go skiing, comes somewhere near the lower end of that spectrum. Apart from the first scene, in which we see Max, still in his hotel room, putting on his skis and then having difficulty getting through the door, the film is mostly a sequence of snowy pratfalls.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Sweet Counter Beckons..., 26 January 2012

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Lord only knows what this one was about. Georges Melies was clearly running out of ideas by the time he made this, so there's nothing particularly new here. There's certainly no story-line as far as I could make out, other than perhaps one chap being drugged by some devil type and then awakening to perform magic tricks on a lady in a window that he brings to life. People appear, disappear then re-appear before disappearing again with monotonous regularity, apparently until Melies' camera ran out of film.

I can't imagine even audiences from 1910 being impressed by this one, and on this evidence it's hardly surprising that Melies' film-making career would be over in a couple more years.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Like a Live Action Looney Tunes..., 8 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Apparently inspired by the antics of Harry Houdini, Slippery Jim opens in the office of a police commissioner to whom a rather cocky villain is presented. The commissioner orders the prisoner to be clapped in irons, but this proves to be easier said than done because our anti-hero - presumably the Slippery Jim of the title - proves to be an expert escapologist.

Once shown to his cell and shackled by his elbows and ankles, Jim proceeds to free himself from any restraints the hapless officers placed in charge of him choose to use.

Trick photography was a favourite device of early filmmakers, and here pioneer French director Ferdinand Zecca moves firmly into Melies territory. The story, such as it is, is simply a succession of different trick shots and, in many ways, resembles a Looney Tunes cartoon in as much as the wretched cops in pursuit of Jim meet various fates - flattened, split-in-two, etc - only to miraculously return to their natural forms seconds later.

It's an amusing enough little film, but even at 10 minutes it runs a little long.

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