Reviews written by registered user

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57 reviews in total 
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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
A surprisingly powerful film, 8 July 2017

The DC Universe gets a powerful boost with Patty Jenkin's engaging, thrilling modern tribute to the Wonder Woman legend. The trailer did not do justice to this polished, beautifully rendered film with an uncommon heart, contrasting the increasingly tired, smug Marvel tone.

The British supporting cast add a deeper flair to the proceedings, with Lucy Davis and David Thewlis offering smart performances. Gal Gadot channels a mixture of innocence, strength, wisdom and humour which reminded me of Christopher Reeve in Superman (1978). The script gives her performance a spirit and urgency which the origin story frame allows to flourish. Chris Pine is equally fine, balancing a challenging mixture of humility and bravado that gives the film a distinct edge.

The parallels with Superman (1978) are particularly apt. Both films kick-started modern takes on legendary figures with colourful, exciting adaptations of origin stories. The actions sequences are intense, clever and filled with emotional resonance.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Tom Holland soars but Marvel stumbles, 8 July 2017

Marvel has had a dream run with exciting, engaging films until meddling with the latest reboot of Spider-Man. Instead of expanding the universe, this ho-hum exercise in Marvel franchising wastes the considerable talents of Tom Holland while working an increasingly tired Iron-Man tone into proceedings. The film is salvaged by the performers from Michael Keaton to Zendaya, who are able to bring an engagement the Marvel heavy footprints crush with their self-serving empire building.

The story is deliberately Lo-Fi, aiming for a point of difference within the recent film history by scaling back the action and emotions. This works surprisingly well in the high school and home settings but undermines the intensity of set-piece sequences which, instead of building the excitement, come off as distinctly average CGI scenes. DC took the lead for me in Super-Hero movie magic with Wonder Woman, combining action, drama and emotion with intensity. The problem with Spider-Man Homecoming is the lack of potency for the plot development, the investment doesn't have great pay-offs.

On the plus side, letting the film be better than it deserves to be, Tom Holland does make Spider-Man his own character despite the teen-movie conventions and Marvel tyranny. The refreshing take on Peter Parker's high school friends works in the film's favour with good performances from the young cast, especially Zendaya. Michael Keaton does well to add dimensions to a fairly standard villain. Maris Tomei, however, isn't quite right as Aunt Mae which is a script and plotting issue rather than a performance one.

The production has made much of the local setting being true to the comics, but the lack of narrative drive takes away from the many promising elements. It's not a bad film, just an average one. It lacks genuine threat, suspense, tension and engaging excitement. Thankfully, the cast push this one beyond the Marvel Franchise limitations, offering hope for future films.

Dirty Girl (2010)
Wildly Enjoyable Camp Trip with youthful Heart, 21 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Imperfect gems are the joy of the Hollywood mine, this one I found by accident on cable during a flu ridden autumn day home from work. It certainly made me feel better, reminding me of the old youthful heart which yearned for connections and answers desperately, which the two central characters Danielle and Clark, beautifully struck by Juno Temple and Jeremy Dozier, embody in a film rollicking somewhere between John Waters Polyester, John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and The Angry Inch and Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. A relatively simple framework of a road trip movie set in 1987 sees two high school outsiders embark on an escape from the trials of teenage struggles towards adult life and answers only to find they come with their own pain. It's a fun ride with lots of great 1980s stylings and a popping soundtrack with great tracks like Strut by Sheena Easton and more from the likes of Melissa Manchester, Pat Bentar, Rita Coolidge, Belinda Carlisle and Nu Shooz.The support cast is fun with Mary Steenburgen and Milla Jovovich in fine form. It's a very 1980s film and while it's imperfect it's so much fun it transcends it's own limitations to be a delight.

12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Visually Commanding and challenging, 14 July 2006

A companion film to Come and See and The Guard, 100 Days Before The Command offers a very different rhythm and style to the war training film. Where films like Full Meal Jacket and Jarhead present the behavioural disintegration of their subjects, this film offers a more subconscious vision of where the personality goes when fragmented by the rigours of a depersonalising military command. This is not a film for viewers after a coherent narrative or a dialogue-driven journey, but for those brave enough to surrender their militant devotion to narrative film boundaries and spoon-fed cinematic experiences there is plenty here to explore. If films such as Father and Son excited your urge to introspection, this film will be a worthwhile venture. If a slowly evolving, visually commanding exploration of the male psyche and body in the Russian military and the relationship between men in such circumstances isn't where you are at I would settle for something less challenging.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The heart and soul of Superman Returns, 1 July 2006

Expectations were heavy when I first saw the trailer for Superman Returns and desperately wished that the film could deliver some of the magic of the original Superman and its excellent sequel. Superman 3 and 4 were somewhat enjoyable but disconnected films which I couldn't embrace with the joy of the first two films which I saw at ages 5 and 7. I feared maybe I was too old for Superman. With Superman Returns, I discovered the magic was not gone.

Bryan Singer has done a wonderful job putting Superman back in the emotional and visual context of the superior first two Christopher Reeve led Superman films. He is faithful and genuinely careful to reinvigorate the Superman legend but not without a super-twist which I won't spoil for impending viewers and which I would avoid seeking out as not knowing what was to come made this film a much better experience for me.

What also made this film work for me was the careful balance of characterization and action which made the earlier films so magnificent in tone and pace. Kate Bosworth is no Margot Kidder and lacks the vibrant intensity of her predecessor, but she and Brandon Routh have chemistry and she does well to make the role her own in a slightly less edgy way. Its the only slight disappointment but it didn't hurt the film for me.

Kevin Spacey runs riot with Lex Luthor in a way not dissimilar to Gene Hackman but with a more sadistic edge.

I enjoyed and was thrilled by Superman Returns which offers all the fun and excitement of the films which I loved as a kid. Although I am older,it was nice to be roused and moved by the music, characters and skillful direction once again. Can't wait for more. Excellent.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
In truth you are freed, Chumscrubber or not, 9 June 2006

In the fine tradition of "Heathers", "Welcome To The Dollhouse", and "Donnie Darko", "The Chumscrubber" provides compelling and essential viewing.

At first this film appeared from early advertisements to be a possible sequel to "Thumbsucker". It also features Lou Taylor Pucci who played the title role in the earlier film but "The Chumscrubber" is a different beast. While also supporting a knockout cast of mature actors to complement its teen stars, this current film has a strong design theme and a sure sense of momentum which drives the film relentlessly on from the somewhat absurd to the outright wacky. The final shot is a masterful touch not worth missing.

The film spends a few days in the life of Dean Stiffle, a young man getting by on the happy pills which dominate so many of the lives in the planned, homogenous town where he lives a rather solitary life with his game-addicted brother, vitamin obsessed mother, and self-help espousing and desperately exploitative writer/father. When a young man in the town dies, the links between surrounding strangers, acquaintances and friends are thrown into disarray and the dependence of the townsfolk on their various drugs and relationships of choice are revealed in new lights. The results include kidnapping, blackmail, and dark, dark humour highlighted by the film's new media superstar "The Chumscrubber" character itself.

Jamie Bell, so striking in Billy Elliot, plays the subdued Dean with an intensity that promises to glow ever brighter. The supporting company of especially fine performers such as Glenn Close, Ralph Fiennes, William Fichtner, Rita Wilson, Carrie Ann Moss, Allison Janney, Jason Isaacs, Lauren Holly and John Heard amongst others all get their moments to shine in a script which maintains the right blend of character development, absurdist humour and frightening parallels with the world outside the film.

"The Chumscrubber" is all things a good film should be; entertaining, provocative, intelligent and insightful. As painful as the journey may be, in truth we are all freed. Even the Chumscrubber. But not everyone, not even us personally, always wants the truth. In which case, there are many coloured pills and potions to hide behind and within.

Boogeyman (2005)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Deep Inside Fear, 16 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Boogeyman was a refreshing horror film which explored the depth of male fear - which may or may not be a fear of what is inside oneself. Barry Watson carries the film with an intuitive performance which capably envelopes the film in the torment and terror of childhood abandonment and having to face an ever darkening past he has tried hard to abandon. After the death of his mother, a young man returns to his empty childhood home to overcome the horror which haunts him. Exactly what this horror is drives the film successfully for quite a way until faltering in its final third when terror predictably gets an embodiment reducing the devastating expectation of the unseen, ominous darkness which makes the first two-thirds of the film so creepily unnerving. As with the Butterfly Effect, its a film that shirks the irritating comedic-horror-style that practically diseased horror films from the success of Scream onwards. There are no cheap moments of light-relief here which makes the thrills so much more startling. Here is the tale of a disturbed young man having to face up to the demons he's tried to ignore. A successful, unusual blast from the past genre piece. Refreshing, mostly, because its subject is male and his fear is destroying him.

Spider (2002)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
the complex nature of identity in spider, 14 August 2003

Of the ways to capture the sadness and melancholy of the loss of

self through a cataclysmic event, this film chooses a meditative

path. Cronenberg's films have become increasingly focussed on

the complex nature of identity with this being the most dissociative

and yet oddly engaging. With a topline cast of Miranda Richardson,

Gabriel Byrne, Ralph Fiennes and Lynn Redgrave, these quiet and

quaint performances are filled with frailty and a lurking unease.

These characters - as channelled through the disturbed Spider

(Fiennes) - are both oddly aware of their possession by the central

character and yet remain rebellious and ultimately uncontrollable.

Spider's dilemma throughout is his inability to reconcile his identity

with his actions and his warped mindscape. He remains dispersed between experience, perception, outer expectation and

his own web-spinning. Reality in the film is represented by the

objects that Spider weaves into his various mental states - the

ropes, his journal, his cigarettes, his clothes, his parents - while

the events in the film are inseparable from Spider's sexual

obsession and emotional withdrawal. Its a film which relies upon

a patient and gentle viewer who can accept the various levels of

operation - cinematic, literary, philosophical, psychological and

emotional. Its a rewarding experience for viewers willing to engage

with the implications and intimations but may be too subtle and

gradual for some viewers.

The Little Feller (1982) (TV)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Hand That Rocks the PotPlant, 17 July 2003

A rarely seen small, unambitious Australian film about obsession in the "Hand That Rocks The Cradle" mode which fits neatly into the tv movie mould except for the sexy, brazen performance of Steve Bisley (from Mad Max) as the cut-off-denim-shorts wearing stud-muffin pursued by a desperate, psychotic misty-wannabe determined to ruin his sweet marriage to her best friend. She also wants to get rid of the child (the little feller) to have her dream man all to her trampy, saucy self. Its a very upper middle class Brisane (more sydney like at times) depicted in the film with a very early 80s Australian filmic style both very naturalistic and breezy. The melodramatic grand finale is worth the wait for camp value (the swinging, hanging potplant as instrument of fear!!!).

Heaven (2002/I)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Maybe this is Heaven?, 17 September 2002

There are films about loss and films and learning and "Heaven"

unites the two in a subtle but painful union. Maybe the distance

between these two opposites is not ever as measurable as when

united and Heaven may be the place.

Based upon a "screenplay" by Krystof Kieslowski and his writing

partner, Tom Twyker has created from these ashes a film

necessarily different but maybe closer to its source. In uniting

difficult partners - dead and living, criminal and police, innocent

and guilty, honest and dishonest, alive and dead - Twyker

manages a film so impossibly, absurdly beautiful it threatens to

cave in upon itself but never does. Rarely does a film so

provocative and yet gentle leave me so still and yet moved. I

haven't the desire nor passion to tear apart the odd feelings this

film left me with...except to say maybe this is heaven.

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