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zellex

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10 reviews in total 
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Mamma Mia! (2008)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Abba-mania & Meryl, 20 July 2008
8/10

I went and saw Mamma Mia on the weekend, as I was in the mood for a pleasant bit of fluff. And it met expectations - a fun romp, with ABBA songs to sing along to (but please, please, please, please restrain yourself and sing in your head not out loud).

Most of the cast members give credible performances, although Pierce Brosnan looks and sounds like a fish out of water every time he has to sing (Oh all right, he did an OK job with SOS).

But what blew me away was Meryl Streep. Who knew she could actually sing? I mean, *really sing*? If anyone could make singing an ABBA song Oscar-worthy, Meryl has done it with her emotional performance of The Winner Takes It All. Seriously.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Faithful to neither history or the book, 13 April 2008
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Historical novels often take liberties with history; its expected. And screenplays often take liberties with novels; also expected. And historical screenplays based on historical novels? Hmmm.

Predictably, then, this movie takes huge liberties with historical fact and Phillipa Gregory's historical fiction, and that is not a good thing.

Firstly, events taking place over a number of years are condensed. Mary's rise to Anne's fall appears to be over a maximum of about three years in the film. Events that did not occur were created to "add drama" but they have a bad effect on the narrative (eg. Mary pleading with the king to spare Anne and the King's last minute note warning Mary not to do so again just before Anne was executed). And key real (or at lease reported) events were cut, despite the inherent dramatic effect (eg. Anne's use of the young Elizabeth to appeal to Henry, Henry deserting Anne during a tournament without a goodbye).

Secondly, despite the cumbersome, heavy-handed exposition by just about every character, the movie fails to convey the harsh realities of court life in the Tudor period, where one's progress up the ladder or descent to the scaffold could be the result of either or both intricate plots by rival courtiers or simply the king's mood.

Thirdly, the overall characterisation is pitiful. Oh, Anne has one or two moments, but what about the other characters? Mary is portrayed as weak and, despite the movie's name, seems to be only a foil for Anne. Where was Mary's triumphant courtship with Henry, where was the proof that she was a worthy rival of Anne's (eg. the ship named in her honour) and Mary's romance with Stafford was so lacklustre as to be unbelievable. Queen Katherine is left on the sidelines for most of the movie (except for her magnificent display of queenly outrage before the court when her marriage is called into question). The young men in the movie were almost indistinguishable - Stafford, Carey and George Boelyn all had so little screen time and looked so much alike, the director could have saved money by having one actor play all three parts.

And lastly, a little bit of costume research would not have gone astray.

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Short and Sweet, 19 December 2007
3/10

This bowlderised version of Kiss Me Kate lacks lustre, though its sanitised lyrics and dialogue apparently did well enough for 1953 audiences.

Howard Keel is blustering as always, singing in a his semi-operatic style that does not suit the material. The dialogue is declaimed, not acted - although I do grant that that was the stereotype of Shakespearean acting at the time. And even Kate lacks fire/

The candy coloured costuming and set does the film no favours, either.

If you want to see the musical sparkle, see a live production or check out the 2003 DVD of a live performance.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Simply Fantastic, 19 May 2006
10/10

Glamorous Harlem fashions coincide with great music and that particular Jazz Age buzz that you don't find anywhere else in this short about a 1930s radio station!

Nina Mae McKinney shines with a great vocal and acting performance, and The Nicolas Brothers astound with their amazing and precocious dancing. In fact, all the performers in this short are extremely talented, and are very under-acknowledged.

If you are want to see this short, buy the DVD of King Vidor's 'Hallelujah' (available from Amazon). 'The Black Network' is included as an extra on the 'Hallelujah' DVD, along with another short that Nina Mae McKinney appeared in, 'Pie Pie Blackbird', which is not quite as good as this one.

Wolf Creek (2005)
4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Wolf Creek's ironic outlook overlooked, 10 November 2005
9/10

Wolf Creek subverts a number of genre horror expectations. While it is a disturbing view of a sociopath\psychopath in action, it does not run true to the Hollywood horror style (or even the Blair Witch anti-Hollywood style). Its murders are presented as a fact of life - something that happens to some people, like it or not. Its bad guy is not an chuckling evil maniac. Instead, he is chillingly down-to-earth, a larrakin. There is killing and blood, but little gore for the sake of gore. It is disturbing and creepy, but there are few screams milked out of the audience (at least in the cinema I saw it in).

Instead, Wolf Creek has a very unique Australian ironic outlook. It quotes and even pisstakes (translation for non-Aussies: mocks) a large number of films, horror and otherwise: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Blair Witch, the first Mad Max (thrumming V8s on the open road when Mick is chasing the girl), Picnic at Hanging Rock, Walkabout, Wake in Fright, Crocodile Dundee and even Galipoli(!!) to name a few. Maybe the not-so-gentle send up is not so apparent to non-Australians, but the film is far more intelligent than people are giving it credit for.

The film is not without its faults, but take it as it is: a masterful piece of cinema steeped in film history, and one of the best Australian films for years.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Only about 3 laughs in the entire movie, 22 May 2005
3/10

OK. I was willing to give this film a chance. I am perfectly aware that radio, television, books and movies are totally different media, with different narrative and technical requirements. But after watching this movie, I have come to the educated opinion that it is utter, utter, utter rubbish.

Douglas Adams was one of the funniest writers on the planet. The radio series was hilarious, the TV series was funny, the book was inspired comic genius. But the movie? Mildly amusing only.

What a pity. What a waste. It could have been so good. Not to mention, they left out the most profound line ever spoken:

"Ford, you're turning into a penguin. Stop it!"

20 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
The Importance of Being Witty, 10 May 2005
4/10

I have always been a great fan of Oscar Wilde, and consider him as a playwright to be under-rated. His plays are often dismissed as shallow, but they are some of the greatest comedic writings of all time, in my opinion. The witty repartee that Wilde's characters engage in, particularly in The Importance of Being Earnest, is hilarious in most performances.

What a pity, then, that this production of it drags its feet like a drunken yeti (Yes, that's right, a drunken yeti. Use your imagination). It is slow and ponderous, where it should be quickly paced and light. It is morbid and dramatic, where it should be witty and amusing. The screenwriter of this adaptation and the director both deserve to be lined up against a wall and shot. And I simply cannot describe what should be done to Colin Firth, who plays an exceedingly dull and moronic Jack Worthington that would never have survived in London society.

In a movie that should have had the audience cackling with mirth from start to finish, the chuckles were very sparse. Most were provided either by Judi Dench, who brings some true Wildian spirit to the movie as Lady Bracknell, and Reece Witherspoon as the innocently shallow Cecily (but what the #@$& were those 'knight in shining armor' dream scenes?).

Wilde I may love, but not this movie. My rating? A disappointing 4 out of 10!

A childhood classic that is still magic, 10 May 2005
9/10

When I was growing up in the 70s, The Wizard of Oz was re-released theatrically. My mother made sure that I went to see it, even though I can't have been over 4 years old. I remember the thrill when Dorothy opened the door of her black and white house, to see the glorious colour of Oz. Each year the thrill would be repeated, as The Wizard of Oz was compulsory viewing in our house when it came on TV during the holidays. I even had Dorothy doll, complete with basket and Toto (I wonder what happened to that...).

As an adult, The Wizard of Oz has lost none of its charm for me. There is Judy Garland's incomparable version of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow', not to mention one hundred and one lines that have made their way into popular culture - like 'I guess we're not in Kansas, any more, Toto' or 'I'll get you my pretty, if it's the last thing I do.' or 'I'm melting. Melting.' or 'Ding dong the witch is dead.' Don't miss out on this film just because you are now grown-up... go and have a couple of kids so that you can watch this in high rotation.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Hallucination or Reality?, 10 May 2005
7/10

Donny Darko is a very original and disturbing film about a teenaged boy who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which causes hallucinations and delusions. On the day that an jet engine from an unidentified plane crashes into his bedroom, Donny's life is saved by a vision of Frank, a gigantic horror-bunny who leads Donny out of the house and gives him a count down to the end of the world - less than a month away.

As Donny's visions of Frank become more frequent, Frank leads him to commit more dangerous and more destructive acts. At the same time, Donny discovers that the 'crazy' old woman down the road once wrote a book about time-travel, and he begins to believe he can see people's path through time as well as wormholes. But is Donny really hallucinating, or does he simply see a reality to which the rest of us are blind?

23 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
See the German language version, 15 July 2002
6/10

Yes, there is such a thing, despite the fact that IMDb does not currently list it.

This film is a clever examination of how hard it was NOT to become part of the Nazi system. Willie is a German singer, in love with a Swiss Jewish conductor. She returns to Germany to help her lover with the resistance, however his father - who disapproves of their relationship - has arranged that she will not be able to return to Switzerland. Stranded in Berlin, Willie is forced to use a Nazi connection just to get some work...and he just happens to be the newly appointed Cultural Director. So Willie is given the opportunity to perform and record 'Lili Marleen'. The song becomes a hit, and Hitler becomes a fan. I won't go into the rest of the plot, but be assured that there are twists and turns.

By the end of this movie, you will not be able to get the song 'Lili Marleen' out of your head as it is repeated countless times. Believe me, I saw the film last week, and I am still singing it.