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19 reviews in total 
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Once (2007)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
sing a long with the Frames, 22 February 2008

The first few minutes of the film Once tell the whole story and have humour and music and the possibility of love between Glen Hansard (Frames singer) playing the busker and the also unnamed Czech girl played by Marketa Irglov. Their possible relationship is cleverly uncertain. The relationship between Hansard and his Hoover Repairman Father is also charmingly balanced.

But for me the music grates after a while. The story and the relationships are secondary to the music; if you like the singer you'll like the film; if earnest ardour is not your cuppa then the film will begin to taste like tepid tea.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
through deception know the truth, 3 February 2008

Whilst reading John Le Carre's "Absolute Friends" I happened to see this Robert de Nero directed film. Both spy thrillers; both are stories about the abandonment of family for the ideals of State (Good Shepherd) or Beliefs (Absolute Friends). In fact in both all values are lost to an assumed greater cause. In my opinion the book has more depth; certainly depth of character. The film charts the evolution of the CIA as seen through the experience of Edward Wilson (Damon) through his college years at Yale to his humourless and quiet dedication as one of the CIA's eventual masters. Only star missing is Dame Judy Dench. But, who IS the Good Shepherd of the title? Not Edward Wilson; the word good could hardly apply to him; he's brilliantly played by Matt Damon as a cold psychopath; all 3 Brits acting in the film are double spies; Wilsons underling and overlings kill easily. His son is forever frightened; everyone deceives everyone. The only spy I ever knew was a decent chap; with humour and courtesy; he got blown up by the IRA. No mention of the CIA's involvement in that terrorism; although this was set in the era when it was learning its subversive craft. A thought provoking film. Why look at the CIA at its inception rather than what tricks it does now? Who is the Good Shepherd? Do you have to be deceptive to know the truth?

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Dream Expert gives thumbs up, 12 October 2007

The Science of Sleep I can talk about as an expert on sleep; although we all are of course but I suspect that not many reviewers have spent 25 years in a "Dream Group". I'm not sure what that qualifies me to do other than know that I learnt how to influence my dreams a bit as Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal) does in this film. I also found that mid sleep dreams are much more fluid and basic than waking dreams. So much for the science. the film? Great fun. Stephane slowly gets the hots for Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Both are delightfully artistic, temper mental and time their relationship in a schizo metric way.

The film was written and directed by Michel Gondry. Of course it compares with the Sunshine of the Eternal Mind. It also stands alone and there are so many layers to this film. I loved the switching between conscious and unconscious, between French, Spanish and English; between worker and friends. People in and out of roles and relationships. The most inventive and unreal bits happening within the waking times; excellent. I also liked the humour of the time switching device. Yes, fun

Infamous (2006)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Self adoring writer man ingratiates himself into small town folk, 14 September 2007

If you are not American and haven't seen the two previous films about the murder of the 4 members of a Kansas farming family and Truman Capotes book about it "In Cold Blood" what are you meant to make of this film? I know little of Truman Capote - its a natty name for sure. There are references to what is presumably an American literati. I also missed the earlier film "Capote" so came to this fairly blind. Self adoring writer man ingratiates himself into small town community to write first about the murder then about the murderers and in getting access to the killers falls in love with one of them.

Its hard to say whether this is good acting because everyone seems to ham things up in line with their characters. Daniel Craig as Perry Smith the murderer had the most complex character to play; he waxed and wained between detached and angry. I quite liked Sandra Bullock as Nelle Harper Lee; she didn't overplay her character and had some telling silences in response to the Capote drama Queen. As for this version of Capote by Toby Jones; who knows. The character demands camping it up so he does it. I kept misinterpreting Capote into Frankie Howard and the film at times seemed to be a "Carry on Gossiping".

Was it really surprising to find that Killers had background and personality? I thought this was set in the early 1960s and assumed that the lessons of WW2 that showed that the Nazis were just the folks next door were fairly well embedded by then. Maybe not, there's always such a drive to reduce everything to simplicities; so a Baddie Baddie is easier to stomach.

Frankie Howard? Titter ye not women. It is of course that Englishman Kenneth Williams and that line from Carry on Cleo that resonates under this film: "Infamy! Infamy! they've all got it in for me!

Is the film worth seeing? Yes. Am I rushing out to buy "In Cold Blood"? No

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
a road movie through prejudice territory, 15 August 2007

Walk on Water is summarised well in many reviews. Some of them avow and generate extremes by using terms like "Terrorist". The film grapples with extremes of prejudice. The Mossad agent Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi) assassinates a Hamas leader at the start of the film returning home to find his wife has committed suicide. Eyal is detached. He has to be to do his job. His boss Menachem gives him a safer temporary job of pretending to be a tour guide for the grandchildren of a Nazi war criminal, Alfred Himmelman, with the idea that the tourists will lead him to their grandfather.

This German brother and sister with their own issues open up the eyes of Eyal to his own prejudices; he is challenged by Axel Himmelmans (Knut Berger) sexuality. He is also challenged by Axel's sister Pia (Carolina Peters), a German lass who lives and works on a kibbutz in Israel.

I saw this film on television. I chanced upon it with no reviews or prior knowledge and got quite gripped by the tensions of the main character. Other reviewers have said that Lior Ashkenazi is an attractive actor.

What intrigued me was the struggle to let go of being hurt. I've been working with a couple who can't let go of their anger with each other; of the hurt that comes through being violated in different ways. I'm not sure that love overcomes everything is quite the answer. I'm not sure that this film answers that question although it does highlight it so well.

It felt like a film in black and white; lots of deep shadows and in the end...

well go see and decide

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Whale meat again, don't know where, don't know when...., 7 August 2007

Noal Baumbach has directed this auto-biopic set in Brooklyn and telling the story of a wrenching divorce. Jeff Daniels as the arrogant, self obsessed downwardly mobile Father is excellent; this film would have been awful with Bill Murray in the lead as it would have been too hard to separate the actor from the character. Laura Linney as the wife is also rather good in playing her gently emotional part as Counterpoint to her husbands Intellectual snobbery.

Its quite difficult to believe that such people exist; I guess that one of the values of film is that it opens up the possibility of other worlds. Brooklyn in 1986 is a complete mystery to me; I know I was in New York in 1981 when I first discovered that people might have a coffee on their way into work. But a world so filled with language I still find slightly unbelievable. Even when playing tennis or table tennis there is an endless aggressive chatter going on.

I am even more in awe knowing that this is a film about the actual Directors life events. I have no experience of divorce; nor of a world of words; nor of children so confident in voicing their opinions. In fact, now I think of it, I have never encountered a squid.

So, quite a success all round. Well, if one is looking at it from across the pond.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
heaven scent or a stinker?, 13 July 2007

Help me out. Who is the actor playing the Assistant to Dustin Hoffman's Baldini in this film Perfume: The story of a murderer? The official website doesn't hold his name and even the longer IMDb credits show his wife (Dora Romano) and yet we are introduced to Baldini through the efforts of his assistant. I think it is Russ Abbott. Russ Abbot who we all thought had given up acting and humour. Could it really be Russ?

So, what's the story? Well, first the story of the story. The film is based on Patrick Süskind's best-selling novel and both Ridley Scott and Tim Burton failed to direct it; just as well as it is already too fruity and redolent in black humour. Set in eighteenth-century Paris the story begins with the plans for the execution of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille ( Ben Whishaw), a borderline autistic blessed with a super-human sense of smell. We then go back to follow his life and the development of his unique talent, Grenouille eventually discovers his calling when he becomes apprentice to master perfumier Baldini (Dustin Hoffman).

it's always the fruit. After murdering an apricot seller, Grenouille becomes obsessed with capturing and preserving the scent of women. He leaves Baldini and heads for heaven-scent Grasse where he encounters Antoine Richis (Alan Rickman) and his stunning redheaded daughter (Rachel Hurd-Wood). It is here that Grenouille perfects away of capturing the scent of women and begins collecting the 12 women that will compose his ultimate scent... by paying with their lives. But will Richis be able to prevent his daughter becoming the final victim?

Early on the superbly camping-it-up Hoffman (Baldini) tells Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Whishaw) how to make the perfect perfume. "Each perfume has 3 chords, 12 notes in all. There is a head, a body and a base. The head is the first to be noticed; the body then comes to the fore and the base lingers after the others have gone". Watching this my first thought was Chocolate but its nowhere as magical as that film. The obvious theme is "Scent of a Woman" but it does tell a bit more than that. And with the Hoffman connection and the autism of the Winshaw character one of course thinks of Rainman; but its much less enjoyable than that. There is however a long lasted impression from this film, visually its stunning; so rather odd to have a film about aroma that is so visual. But was it Russ Abbott I saw?

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
ever deeper into the do do, 11 July 2007

This funny french film by Francis Verber predates the wonderful Tais Tois and has made me want to see others by this director. Two funny films by the same chap bodes well. What came to mind in first viewing was "Hoisted by your own petard" What is a petard? I discover it was a small metallic bell shaped engine of war used to blow breaches in gates or walls. The significant feature was that they were full of gunpowder - basically what we would now call a bomb. And there is also another French word 'péter' - to fart, which it's hard to imagine is unrelated. But this isn't one of those gaseous comedies and although light it is full of wit.

The film is about a group of snobbish friends who once a week have a meal and invite a victim. The victims are stupid and the winner is the person who can find the imbecile of the Week. The story mostly centres on Pierre Brochant (Thierry Lhermitte) who selects a boorish tax accountant François Pignon (Jacques Villeret). But Monsieur Pignon fails with every task he is set and gets monsieur Brochant into ever deeper do do.

It struck me that this must have first been a play as only one scene is really needed for the play - the affluent flat of the arrogant Monsieur Brochant. Its like the old Brian Rix Whitehall Farces. Jolly funny as everyone gets the fate they deserve. I think its worth checking out this and other films by Francis Verber.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Obediant or Impulsive?, 6 July 2007

There are hundreds of individual reviews of this film. Why? Because it is so moving. Set at a time when Franco's troops were finishing of the resistance to their move to power after the Spanish Civil War it is a fable of the the roles of duty and independence. The sadistic Fascist army captain Vidal played by Sergi Lopez has to be one of the most awesome Top 10 Movie Villains. The themes for each of the many intertwining plots seems to be the conflict between the importance of unquestioning duty or obedience and the importance of impulse or affect.

But I think it is almost better to go into this film knowing very little about it and just go with the tale. Magical

Black Book (2006)
8 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
a Dutch Hello Hello?, 29 June 2007

I defy anyone not to like the Dutch. Apart from their astounding ability to speak several languages straight from birth and make some odd guttural noises that no-one else in Europe can do; they are engaging and open and a very tolerant people. Besides which I went to see Zwartboek directed by Paul Verhoeven after being in Holland for a fortnight. So, a film set in the wartime Netherlands directed by a successful Dutchman, one would like to be gem. I just found it despairingly trite.

Let's start with the positives. The background music? It underlines every mood with crescendos and cadences to exaggerate the mood if we haven't understood it from the story but was way too prominent. Maybe the photography that had crisp colours and showed some of the wonderful Dutch buildings and orderly landscapes? But it had none of the lighting contrasts of the Dutch painting masters. Well, maybe the acting then? For sure, the lead actress, Carice van Houten, who plays the heroine throughout the film is very easy to watch and , as you can see from the picture clips supplied to IDMB has a natty way of looking over her shoulder (in all 8 of the supplied pictures of her she stands looking over one shoulder or the other). I thought she and all the actors did a fine job, but....

About 2 hours into the film van Houten's character, by then having changed her name from the too Jewish Rachel Stein to the Dutch resistance nom de Guerre of Ellis de Vries, says "When will it end?" I had been thinking the same thing for about 90 minutes. In England ITV have programmes that are advertised as "a stunning new DRAMA". They are well made, well filmed, set in caricatured locations, full of well known actors who make their mark by bursting with "drama" meaning they always have some turmoil with a close up shot. This film struck me as a good ITV drama. Just right for a Tuesday night at 9.00pm.

My immediate reaction to the film was that it managed to equally offend everyone. Would Jewish people want to be portrayed as money and diamond grabbing; with the Rachel Stein character having to be noticed all the time even when trying to slip past the Gestapo? Do the Germans still want to be seen as sadistic power crazed peoples? Are we Brits ineffective wishy washy nice chaps ( well OK probably). Were the Dutch so bound up with their religious fervour? All much too caricatured for me.

I think the main disappointment for me is that one has no deeper understanding of people or their motives from this film. There is no exploration of character. The SS Officer Ludwig Müntze excellently played by Sebastian Koch collects stamps; so another German with obsessional characteristics. Stereotyping again; and he is the most developed character. And van Houten's Rachel Stein had to be noticed all the time; it drove me potty her showing her legs off at Germans whilst apparently trying to sneak through their lines; putting on candles in a transparent tent whilst again hiding; all the time that woman drew attention to herself.

Probably the biggest flaw really was the script; superficial and silly. I'm so glad my mother never saw this film; I think it's an insult to anyone in their 80s.

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