Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A Lonely Place to Die (2011)
A good effort but a bit disappointing
This movie started off well with an interesting idea, but somehow ran out of steam, or commitment, about half way through.
Melissa George and her friends go climbing in Scotland and stumble across a secret buried in the woods. They try and go for help but discover that they're not alone. The movie starts off as slow burning and intriguing, with plenty of sweeping shots of the rugged Scottish landscape, it then changes abruptly about half way through, losing all of its subtlety and becomes a standard chase movie with guns. It's almost as if the director lost their nerve and decided to go for blood and glory just in case the audience gets a little bored. Some scenes seem to be thrown in just so someone else can be killed, and the body count by the end of the movie is a bit on the high side.
The acting is fine, and I don't have any huge issues with the script, it's just it could of been a nice little thriller rather than half a good movie, and half a predictable one.
The Boat That Rocked (2009)
A missed opportunity
I was hoping that a movie celebrating pirate radio, written by Richard Curtis and with a host of stars would be a festival of fun, and to a certain degree it is. However the quality on board this boat feels like the leftovers from other Curtis movies as this is clearly his poorest effort yet.
The plot, which is incredibly thin, involves an uptight government minister (Kenneth Branagh) who is instructed to remove the radio station from the airwaves, meanwhile the station is merrily going on about its business having a lovely time partying along with having various guests on board from the mainland.
But here's the problem, the government vrs pirate radio plot never gets fleshed out and what's left is just a series of self contained sketches that keep the movie ticking over until the big finish. Branagh is in no more than half a dozen scenes which appear at regular intervals in what seems an attempt by the director to say 'hey folks, if you've forgotten, he's the bad guy!'. The scenes on board are all too similar and get a bit tiresome because once you've seen all the DJ's do their thing into the mike, have a sexual encounter then have a bit of a dance to some music why bother doing almost exactly the same again for another hour.
The music is obviously from the period but is used so liberally, and by that I mean a new song at the start of nearly every scene, that it loses any emotion that it may be trying to help convey. You get a bit punch drunk. For UK readers - think of an episode of Heartbeat then times by 10, you'll know what I mean.
Performances are OK but nobody really stands out, the script is pretty flat and although there were quite a few people giggling around me at the cinema there were no real laugh out loud moments.
If the script had been tighter, the movie 30 minutes shorter, and a more complete plot been in place then it may have been a nice little movie, however.....
The Diary of Anne Frank (2009)
A very moving TV mini-series
There can't be many people who haven't heard of the story of Anne Frank. The 13 year old girl from a Jewish family who, to avoid evacuation from Holland by the Nazis, hid with her family in the rooms above her fathers business for 2 years before being caught. The diary she kept during this period was published after the war and has since been translated into a number of languages and has become the most widely read piece of non-fiction apart from the Bible.
The rights to the story are rarely available and it's pleasing that this new production transmitted on the BBC over five half-hour episodes on consecutive nights is a great example of quality, thought provoking and moving television that should be enjoyed by all.
Ellie Kendrick stars as Anne, the teenage daughter of Otto (Iain Glen) and Edith Frank (Tamsin Greig). In her diaries Anne comes across as a precocious teenager, sometimes impertinent and always with something to say regardless of other peoples feelings and Ellie Kendrick's performance captures this perfectly. She is a teenager after all and we get to know all her growing pains through her diary entries. Iain Glen is the solid and almost perfect father and is amiably assisted by Tamsin Grieg as a quiet and dependable mother. The supporting cast including Lesley Sharp, Ron Cook and Geoff Bretton as the Van Daans are all exceptional, particularly Lesley Sharp whose performance as the selfish and head strong Petronella was always entertaining. The production values were first rate and the recreation of the rooms where the families lived really made you appreciated how claustrophobic, stressful, and monotonous their daily lives must have been. As the series concludes and you get more and more attached to these characters the sudden discovery of the secret annex by the police is well handled and very emotional.
A very strong series that is never preachy or over-dramatic and which I hope is transmitted in as many countries as possible. Highly enjoyable and recommended.
Seven Pounds (2008)
Blame it on the Blackberry!
This is one of those movies that will divide audiences as it relies on you buying into the emotive reasoning behind the story.
Will Smith is an IRS investigator who visits various people purporting to be reviewing their financial affairs. It soon becomes clear that this isn't the real reason for his visits and that maybe he is trying to atone in some way for his previous actions.
Performances in this movie are first class. Will Smith and Rosanna Dawson are both excellent and the supporting cast, which are used sparingly, include Woody Harrelson and Barry Pepper are pitch perfect. The movie's style can be a bit slow at times and is deliberately misleading so as to prevent you from guessing what the eventual outcome from Will Smiths's activities will be. To some this will mean the movie is boring and predictable, to others a joyful and rewarding experience, with a romantic sub-plot that may have some reaching for the Kleenex. Personally I did not guess the eventual twist in the story but there are enough clues laid out for people to realise the ending from early on. It is crucial however that you believe in the main character and the motives for his actions.
The movie reminded me of The Fountain in the sense that if you allow yourself to be immersed in the storyline you may be rewarded with a thoroughly enjoyable, interesting, and thought provoking experience. Personally my jury is still out on The Fountain. If you just don't buy it then your feelings will be the exact opposite. Professional reviewers, according to the Rotten Tomatoes statistics, have so far been pretty harsh on the movie, but some of the more notable journalists have really liked it.
This movie I suspect will bomb at the box office although I encourage you to see it to make your own mind up. Not Oscar worthy by any means but an interesting take on the need for inner redemption.
Awards are sure to follow.
It's always tricky with remakes particularly as those who like the original will always be critical of the newcomer however well intentioned and efficiently made.
I have no issues with Hollywood exploring its vaults as long as the eventual film is entertaining and is value for money - a Cape Fear or Oceans Eleven. However taking the plot from an old movie and adding a few modern special effects hoping it will work is simply just not enough. Compound the problem by having a script that draws on every sci-fi cliché in the book, have a soundtrack that constantly reminds you that 'danger is near' or 'something creepy is about to happen', and ensure that the lead roles are just stereotype after stereotype after stereotype, and you get, probably, the worst movie I have seen in years.
The plot has Keanu Reeves being abducted/simulated in the past, not sure which, then along with a big old earth like globe he lands in Central Park in the modern day. The Government is weary of the UFO and therefore utilises the military to prepare for an attack whilst observing the alien. The alien now morphs into Keanu Reeves, who was accompanied by a giant robot like being that stays in the Park. Is he and the big globe here to help us or to kill us all? Well, yes that's basically it. There's a lot of shooting, by the military, a bit of soul searching by the scientists, an adopted young boy with issues with parenting, the kids mother who is important enough to bypass security checks at military control centres. I'm sorry, I can't go on with this drivel.
In summary Keanu Reeves is just a piece of talking wood, Jennifer Connelly spends most of the movie saying 'give us a second chance, we can change!!' - saying it once is poignant, say it a dozen times and it's just irritating. I feel sorry for Oscar winner Kathy Bates who plays the Government official who has to make all the tough decisions but is a tortured soul in the process, yes the role really is that shallow, her agent should be shot for their involvement in her taking the role.
As pointless as a movie gets adding nothing new to the sci-fi genre.
Oh and those awards I mentioned, the 29th Annual Razzie Awards, expect the mantelpiece to be full.
Blade Runner (1982)
A truly gorgeous final cut
It is a wonderful thing to take a old movie and, with the help of modern film processing, give it a new lease of life, and Blade Runner is the latest film to have such a makeover. Its all very well having fond memories of the first time you saw a movie - grubby cinema, crackly sound, but to see an old favourite after it has been cleaned up, the colour and sound improved, and if you're lucky be transferred to digital is fantastic, and in the case of Blade Runner a rare treat.
The film looks gorgeous, from the imposing Tyrell building to the sharp beams of lights from the advertising ships that float in and out of the LA 2019 skyline, the improved colour and excellent digital transfer really does make the film look as if it was shot yesterday. Having only seen the film on TV or DVD the chance to watch it in its full glory was something I'll treasure for a long time.
It's only on in the UK for a week, and only at a few independent cinemas so catch it before it disappears. Failing that buy the forthcoming DVD and watch it on the biggest TV you have!
I Want Candy (2007)
Confessions of a dirty movie maker?
For every great film there must, somewhere, also be a turkey. For every Citizen Kane, we also get Little Man. And so it seems is the case for British comedies. Shortly after the fabulous Hot Fuzz, surely the best British comedy since Life of Brian, we get the dreary, predictable and not very funny I Want Candy. The film follows two film students who, desperately trying to make their first great movie, decide to make a porn film with the help of some fellow students. They manage to persuade an American female porn star, who just happens to be visiting the UK at the time, to take the lead in their film, which in turn helps them persuade a dodgy porn producer to finance their project. And that's about as deep as the film goes. Tom Riley and Tom Burke play the two students and are supported by Carmen Electra as the porn queen and Michelle Ryan as the film's production manager (romantic sub-plot). All of them give OK performances despite a script full of bad innuendos, boring sight gags, and wafer thin plot. The film is not supposed to be a cinematic work of art, clearly, but bad writing that has more than a hint of influence from those god awful 'Confessions of...' films of the 1970's makes this a cinematic experience to forget.
Marie Antoinette (2006)
A long long movie
Marie Antoinette looks lovely, the music is nostalgic (if you remember the 80's) and the performances from the actors are fine. So why doesn't the movie work? Sofia Coppola takes us into the closeted world of Versailles where people gossip, eat fine food, wear lots of nice clothes and are generally oblivious to any national political activity. And that's about it. If Coppola's intention was to make us feel as if we were in Versailles i.e the routine, the royal protocols, the slow pace of life, then she succeeded. But it makes for a very dull movie indeed. How many times can you show Marie Antoinette choose a new pair of shoes, or a new dress, or the number of times she failed to get her husband interested in making babies! At one point I thought the film was going to last as long as it took Marie Antoinette to conceive her first child (7 years into her marriage). Then in the space of ten minutes the revolution is here and the film is over, no epilogue, no exploration of her time in jail, no head losing.
If the purpose of Coppola's film was to show how insulated the people staying at Versailles were, and Marie Antoinette in particular, then she has achieved this. Unfortunately the slow pace of the film coupled with the lack of any emotional involvement with the characters means you will be shouting Vive la Revolution after only an hour.