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johnsw

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4 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An E-type hearse and a zest for life, 29 August 2004
10/10

Harold and Maude rates highly in any film connoisseur's list as, perhaps, the black comedy of all time. The film was released in 1971 and has a superb cast, lead by Ruth Gordon (who won and Oscar for her role in Rosemary's Baby in 1968) as the 79-year-old Maude, and Bud Cort (Romero in Coyote Ugly) as the 20-year-old Harold.

Harold is a rich kid, who craves attention from his mother, but only gets it when he fakes his own suicide. Discovering the power of death, his curiosity takes him to the funeral of someone he doesn't know. His fascination leads him to more funerals, where he sees Maude and realises that she, too, is an uninvited guest.

Harold doesn't have much of a life; he has left school, but doesn't know what to do with his future. His mother lives in a social whirl and isn't very interested in him – apart from her aim to find him a wife and get him off her hands.

Maude is a dear old lady, with real vitality and a zest for life; she wants to cram in as much as she can before the Grim Reaper knocks on her door!

From the day they meet, Harold and Maude become inseparable. She has so much to teach him about life, and he has so much to learn.

On his journey of self-knowledge, Maude helps him as no person ever has done before. The film has some excellent humour and comedy lines, bordering on slapstick that hit the nail on the head every time.

As the relationship between these two eccentric souls strengthens, Harold's personality and self-respect grows, whilst his mother, even more worried by his affection for an old lady, goes to all lengths to save him – even buying him an E-Type Jaguar (which he converts into an E-Type hearse).

This black comedy is not all black. It has a certain feel-good factor about it and it is incredibly funny. There are elements of suspense, romance and intrigue, as well as a large portion of satire.

The opening sequence will make you wonder if you really want to watch the rest of the film, but after the first few minutes you will not feel so uncomfortable and will be gripped by the storyline that will not release you until the credits come up at the end. And what an end it is!

Ironically, the soundtrack music is by Cat Stevens; surprisingly, it doesn't feel out of place, and it helps to bring the 70's ambiance to the screen.

There are so few films around these days that do not insult your intelligence, if you get a chance to see Harold and Maude you really should. And if you can, take a very close friend so that you are both guaranteed a shoulder to cry on.

Give yourself over to absolute pleasure, 29 August 2004
9/10

The first time I watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a real let-down. This was in 1975, after having had my fill of The Rocky Horror Show in the King's Road Theatre. Goodness knows, I had seen the stage show so many times and knew every nuance of every actor, from Tim Curry and Meatloaf, to Little Nell, and, of course Richard O'Brien himself.

As each actor changed (the stage show ran and ran) so did the performances. Little did I know that I was caught up in the making of a cult. We would dine at the trendy Borsch & Tears if we had time before the show, and scoff Donner Kebabs on the way home, often rubbing shoulders with the cast and crew. On the final night in the King's Road, Richard O'Brian threw a party. Johnny Rotten wore his Suzuki Sweater inside out (ooh – the little rebel) and we all had a fine time. Stage props, including the ushers' transparent masks, Rocky's black knickers, suspender belt and stockings, and Dr. Everett Scott's wheelchair all ended up at my house!

So what was the problem with the film? Well, nothing, but I guess, at the time, the stage show was so exceptionally good; filled with atmosphere and unexpected interpretation by the cast, that it made the film seem second best! Now when I watch the picture show it brings back the glow of my misspent youth, and the great times we had; Hot patootie, bless my soul! I really love that rock n' roll!

The scene is set when Brad Majors, and his fiancée, Janet Weiss (a couple of ordinary college kids) get a flat tyre on a dark, wet, lightening-filled night and go to the nearest house to use the phone.

The door of the Gothic Transylvanian-style mansion is answered by Dr. Frank n Furter's butler/handyman – a punk rocker named Riff Raff (Richard O'Brien).

On entering the house they are subjected to an internecine night of deceit, and sexual trickery that introduces them both to carnal knowledge – not of each other, but of Dr. Frank n Furter (Tim Curry), the bisexual scientist who is making Rocky "a man, with blond hair and a tan'.

The film cleverly blends references to the American Movie Theater of the late 1930's with sci-fi, monster, horror flicks and musicals! Performances by the maids Little Nell (Columbia) and Patricia Quinn (Magenta) stand up well against the overwhelming presence of Tim Curry. Richard O'Brien (who wrote the play, music and lyrics) brings his own personality to the film.

Susan Sarandon (later famed for her superb performance in another cult film, Thelma & Louise) plays excellently as the virgin fiancée who is a little more willing to experiment than her geeky partner Brad (Barry Bostwick). Meatloaf is Eddy – ex delivery boy who is the Geezer from the Freezer, one of Dr. Frank n Furter's failed experiments.

There is an uncreditied appearance by Koo Stark, and even Christopher Biggins sneaks into the cast as a Transylvanian!

The Rocky Horror Picture is destined to run and run – the 25th anniversary DVD has been released, and in 25 years from now we will all be going out to buy the 50th Anniversary version with 3D and Smell-o-Vision!

Maybe not a film to watch with the family, but if you like it, you will want to watch it again and again; if you don't like it, well… at least you won't forget it!

'It's not easy having a good time! Even smiling makes my face ache!'

10 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Once Upon a Cliché, 29 August 2004
3/10

This is not a bad film, it is only good - nothing more.

You could write The Dictionary of Movie Clichés from the script; it's predictable and disappointing.

There is some good acting, but nothing outstanding. The content does not warrant a movie of this length and it becomes a struggle to watch.

The characters are interesting and well-portrayed, but we only get into the minds of Max (the mind of a madman) and Noodles (whose sanity is also in question).

Historically, in the 1930's, OUATIA is magnificent, but it is let down by the weak portrayal of the late 1960's.

Once Upon a Time in America does not get into my top 100 movies, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

85 out of 95 people found the following review useful:
A Journey back to the 60s with George Harrison, 29 August 2004
10/10

Withnail and I is set in an old, run down student flat in London's Camden Town at the end of the 1960's. Withnail and I are a couple of unemployed actors from different ends of the social spectrum.

Withnail is a Harrow educated dilettante, and rather upper crust; his flatmate Marwood is a grammar school boy with a slightly more realistic outlook on life. To escape from the squalor of their grim, unemployed, existence in Camden Town, soaked in a near lethal cocktail of alcohol and drugs, the desperate pair call upon the generosity of Withnail's uncle Montague and secure the use of his cottage in the country for a weekend.

Uncle Monty is an eccentric middle-aged homosexual, who prefers vegetables to flowers. He considers that 'flowers are essentially tarts - prostitutes for the bees', and wears a radish in his buttonhole in preference to a flower. He grows vegetables in pots in his Chelsea house, and makes suggestive references to 'firm young carrots'.

Withnail (excellently played by Richard E. Grant), persuades Uncle Monty (a superb Richard Griffiths) to lend Marwood (a convincing Paul McGann) and him his cottage in the country for the weekend.

Their exploits at the cottage, and in Penrith where they spend their Wellington boot money on booze and try to sober up in a gentile tearoom are memorable, witty and entertaining. The incongruous uncle Monty reciting Baudelaire in the Cumbrian hills, seeking carnal knowledge of Marwood (apparently coerced by the cowardly and treacherous Withnail), are testament to the writing skills and humour of author and director, Bruce Robinson.

The film's soundtrack brings us 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', played by King Curtis on the Saxophone, 'My Friend' and 'Walk hand in Hand', performed by Charlie Kunz, 'Schubert's Piano Sonata in B Flat Major' performed by Leslie Pearson, 'All Along the Watchtower' and 'Voodoo Chile', by Jimi Hendrix, 'Hang Out the Stars in Indiana', performed by Al Bowlly, and 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', by the late lamented George Harrison, who provided much of the financial backing for this memorable film.

This is a thoroughly entertaining 108 minutes of humorous entertainment, a few too many drinks, a convincing 60's atmosphere, superb performances from the excellent cast, and music to make your heart, and your guitar, gently weep. Thank you, George Harrison.