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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Drivel, 7 June 2007

This was actually one of the worst movies I've ever seen. The scriptwriter should be sent back to school - albeit for the fact that the community in which these people live is remote, the stiltedness of their language is so excruciating that it is either to the credit or shame of the actors who attempted to deliver it. I surmised that the writer/director Manoj Night Shyamalan was trying his best to make the lines meaningful and potent, however he forgot to make them readable with the resulting effect that they become flabby and laughably meaningless.

The actors were very patchy, and with such a strong cast, one would have thought that they were able to carry it off with more aplomb, and to be fair, in some cases this did happen. Particularly Joaquin Phoenix, who was gamely trying to make as much as he could of the script to be as naturalistic and as colloquial as possible. The rest of the actors seemed resigned to the fact that it was nearly impossible and gave in to the inevitability that this was one of the more turgid scripts committed to celluloid.

The plot was farcical and the cutesy homespun scenes were rather clichéd. There were noticeable appearances of the furniture, all of Shaker design, or similar, rather telegraphing the fact that this was an Amish-like community but without the religion, oddly.

The only good point in this film was the scene in which the red-cowled creature first appeared, which would have been more chilling if the film had not thus far been ridiculous. The inexplicable leap from the apparent recent death of a child in 1897 to the appearance of a modern 4x4 was baffling - a directorial fault, or conceit. It rather reminded me of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Except without humour.

Bunkum. And nothing else.

27 out of 52 people found the following review useful:
Russ Meyer on LSD, 23 November 2006

This has to be one of the most disappointing films ever made. The beginning promises well with some low-grade Bunuel rip-offs, but quickly descends into exploitative pseudo-meaningful porn with some deliberately sensationalist sequences that undermine the quality of the stream of random set-pieces with which it begins.

The film takes a massive downturn when the director cops out and introduces speech, which makes it appear that he has run out of ideas and cannot sustain the momentum. The dialogue that ensues is pretentious and insubstantial, which makes it appear as though the director is so unhappy with having had to introduce a narrative that he has attempted to mask the comparatively tedious action with it.

This film is definitely of its time and indebted to the 60s notion of free love that in actual fact meant free love for men who exploited women in the process. The imagery towards the end of the film becomes repetitious and most of the acting is appallingly bad and at times laughable. If this film perhaps did not take itself too seriously then we might have had a half-decent curio, but as it is, it becomes a self-indulgent piece of tawdry exploitation.

Unsophisticated drivel.

King Lear (1982) (TV)
8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
I loved this film most, 22 September 2006

As a devotee of this play I was absolutely relieved to find this version is expertly done. Jonathan Miller perfectly captures the dark and brooding nature of the play with an unfussy and shadowy set and costumes.

The acting is by and large excellent, especially that of Michael Hordern who is in my mind an unrivalled King Lear out of the 7 I've seen attempt the part. He conveys the irascible, foolish and finally 'fond old man' with an absolute truthfulness, making the final scene in Act V utterly heartbreaking. Frank Middlemass, reprising his earlier role as the Fool is perfectly cast as one who can chide his master with the right level of Shakespearean humour that never becomes too telegraphed or obvious.

The roles of Kent, Gloucester, Cornwall and Albany are played again very well. John Shrapnel stands out amongst these with his level of tenderness, humour and heroic righteousness that such a part demands. The 3 sisters are played excellently by Penelope Wilton, Gillian Barge and an early Brenda Blethyn. I couldn't help thinking that there was some off-screen rivalry between Regan and Goneril, so convincing was their on-screen chemistry and sparky interaction. I hope this was fanciful, and if anything serves to illustrate how well the two actresses delivered these plum roles.

Another outstanding performance was given by Michael Kitchen as the villain Edmund. Kitchen is an excellent character actor, nowhere better exemplified than in his delivery of Edmund's terrifically Machiavellian and cruel speeches, with a wry devilry and ignobly attractive flair. Edgar's portrayal was sensitive in the main part and intelligent, but through no fault of the actor, the scenes in Act III on the heath became a little overplayed for my liking. It is however a very difficult line to tread between the portrayal of 'madness' and provoking a reaction of laughter in an audience. This would have been less of a concern in the early 17th century when the play was first performed however.

To me, this is still the definitive production and well worth obtaining a copy if you can.