Reviews written by registered user
|5 reviews in total|
This is director Alejandro Amenábar's first feature film in English,
having previously worked in Spanish, and certainly the film does
have a European quality to it, making a welcome change from the
recent crop of Hollywood thrillers such as What Lies Beneath and
Unbreakable. However, this is not to say that The Others is an
outright success. Nicole Kidman deserves credit for taking a
chance on a relatively unknown director, but despite when of her
best performances to date, her character is too neurotic and her
religious fervour which she inflicts upon the children, prevents her
from gaining our full sympathy.
However, the main reason that The Others disappoints is that it
simply isn't scary enough. The children lack any kind of creepy or
eerie qualities, so we never believe they are malicious, which
would have added an extra dimension to the suspense.
Likewise, the servants are too homely to ever really be scary and in
particular for a British audience, Eric Sykes as the gardener is
never going to be spooky. The children's allergy to light was
intended to subvert the horror convention of dark bringing fear and
light bringing salvation. Unfortunately, this doesn't quite work and
instead just seems like a convenient device to allow most of the
film's action to take place in the dark.
Nazi occupation of Jersey is mentioned, but doesn't form a major
part of the plot, which is certainly a missed opportunity to explore
more interesting themes than the straightforward supernatural line
the film chooses to follow.
There are two things that I don't understand about this
Why was it made? Why is John Carpenter so keen on being associated with it?
B-movies from the 1950s have a cult following with people
enjoying them for their bad acting, poor effects and stupid plots.
There are good reasons why these films were so bad - a lack of
money and limited special effects technology. But there is no
excuse for making films like that anymore.
John Carpenter seems to have had a hand in every aspect of the
film- the credits were full of his name. If a director wants to
disassociate themselves from a film the name Alan Smithee is
used - if ever there was a time when a director should have used
this option, Ghosts of Mars is it.
The acting was pretty awful, but anyone would have struggled with
a script that didn't contain a single original un-cliched line of
The music was alright - again by Mr Carpenter - perhaps that is
where his future lies.
I expected great things from this film, not from the hype (I've learned not to pay much attention to that), but from the opening sequence about coincidences. This part promised a thoughtful original story, when really all it turned out to be was a third-rate Short Cuts. The acting was great, but I felt that casting Tom Cruise was a bit of a cheap gimmick, deliberately setting out to make viewers marvel at Tom Cruise acting well and against type. The bit where everyone sings made me cringe and seemed like another needless gimmick. As for the ending, I think the director must have suddenly realised that it had already dragged on for three hours and he needed to end it quickly.
Like the three young actors who star in it, this is a good looking film and
the director has done a great job with what is, in my opinion, an
unremarkable storyline. The music video style may seem at odds with the
serious message of the film, but I think that this is the only way the
director could inject (pun probably intended) some interest into an
uninspiring plot. We all know about the dangers of drugs and the comparison
between addiction to illegal and prescription drugs is one that has been
made plenty of times before so I think that any film about drugs/addiction
made these days needs to offer something more.
I don't think that you necessarily have to care about characters in a film, but you at least have to be interested in them. Whilst the mother is a fairly sympathetic character (and fantastically acted), her fate is pretty obvious from the start, so seeing her pop pills soon becomes boring and the other three characters are weak, in particular the girlfriend Marion who is nothing more than a series of cliches. I lost interest in all of them for the middle section of the film and although the sheer brutality of the climax drew me back in, it didn't compensate for the boredom that had gone before - perhaps this is a comment on the boring repetitive nature of addiction, but it doesn't make good cinema, no matter how fancy the editing techniques are.
Comparisons have been made with Trainspotting, which to me is a far better film, not only because the characters are more realistic and interesting, but because its portrayal of drugs is more honest, showing that people take drugs for pleasure and not always end in tragedy. In comparison Requiem comes across like a reactionary education film.
I normally avoid action films and car chases bore me, but I
watched Taxi on a friend's recommendation and have to say that it
is one of the best films I've seen in a long time. Everything about it
is pure class which may be something to with it being French.
The premise of the film is beautifully simple - a speed-freak taxi
driver Daniel and an inept policeman have to work together to
catch some bank robbers. The relatively trivial nature of their
mission is the perfect vehicle (excuse the pun) for the ever-so
French humour of the script. They aren't out to save the world or
stop evil for the good of all mankind (as is too often the case in
American action films), but both want to stop the criminals for their
own purely selfish reasons. In this setting the witty banter of the
heroes is perfectly natural, especially compared with the cliched
one-liners said in the face of doom found in most films in this
A mismatched pair of heroes is pretty much standard in action films (Lethal Weapon being the most famous case), but here is works well as they manage to be more than just stereotypes and are believable even if their circumstances aren't. Both characters come across as real people, flawed, but likeable, especially the roguishly charming Daniel.
Despite being an action film, special-effects are kept to a minimum and although they are a large part of the film, the high speed car sequences are never self-indulgent, peppered with humour and brilliantly directed so as to hold the attention of even of the most "seen it all before" viewers (i.e. me).
All in all a refreshing change from Hollywood comedy or action films and one which I would happily watch again and again.