Reviews written by registered user
Theo Robertson

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3892 reviews in total 
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Mother! (2017)
0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Trump Towers, 4 October 2017

For me a film directed by Darren Aronofsky is very much event cinema and much of my admiration for him is the way he divides critics. He is a director with unlimited talent and absolutely no shame and for that alone he deserves much credit . On the surface MOTHER! seems to be a mystery drama involving a home invasion of sorts. However the way both the critics and the mainstream audience have reacted to its release gives a clue that you're not going to be seeing a mainstream thriller. We are after all watching a film by Aronofsky

One vocal criticism is that MOTHER! drowns in its own obsession with metaphor and allegory. Again this shouldn't be taken as a negative point. For much of the early part of the film we have something not too far removed from other home invasion movies where a couple take in a stranger and the stranger isn't who they seem. The plot turns start coming very thick and fast and before you know it the film has mutated in to something else very quickly

There's a downside to all this and that is that it stops being in anyway realistic . Okay you can excuse Javier Bardam's "Him" naive stupidity in order to set up the story but there has to be a limit and Aronofsky doesn't do limits so you have been warned

One gets the feeling that it's an extension of the director's previous film NOAH where these nasty human beings are destroying mother Earth but equally you can jump to the conclusion that it's a metaphor for America under the Trump presidency. Of course the production dates make this very unlikely but the constant conflict between Mother and Him as to letting strangers in to the house does strike a cord and perhaps in the future this film will be remembered as a social comment on America in the early 21st Century ? It's certainly a memorable film regardless of your politics and it's a movie that will take you a long time to work out if it's memorable in a good or bad way

24 out of 42 people found the following review useful:
Scum Of The Earth Portrayed As Naive Wretched Of The Earth, 24 August 2017

I was looking forward to this. World headlines over the last few years have catalogued the continuing terrorist atrocities of Daesh (ISIS) against the West but how much does the average Westerner understand the Hell on Earth created by ISIS in their self styled Caliphate where at one point 8 million human beings lived under their theocratic jackboot . ISIS portrayed themselves as heroic defenders of the Sunni faith and with the Shia majority in Iraq and Shia minority in Syria making things difficult for the average Sunni in these two countries ISIS was quickly seen as Sunni saviours hence innocent men , women and their children flocked to this new found society. Very quickly the inhabitants found out that while they weren't going to be tortured and murdered for being Sunnis they could be tortured and murdered for countless other reasons such as smoking cigarettes or rejecting forced marriage

If nothing else I had hoped THE STATE would show this misery to a wider audience but my heart started sinking that it was written and directed by Peter Kosminsky , a writer/director of social issues and current affairs I once had a lot of respect for but who blew it by making a "Based on a true story" drama called NO CHILD OF MINE. As it turned out the "truth" involved a composite character whose ordeal of child sex abuse was on a constant daily basis by literally every adult she knew and it quickly stopped becoming real in any way and was pulled by several regional broadcasters at the last moment . This obscene sensationalism might have destroyed other film makers careers but since Kosminsky is the type of broadcaster lauded by the Islington dinner party mob it didn't hurt his career in the slightest, Nevertheless I gave THE STATE a chance because I have visited the Middle East a couple of times and you can't give a dog like ISIS a bad enough name but even so I wasn't expecting much

As it turned out THE STATE didn't even meet my low expectations. It's produced as a "disillusionment drama" but does not work on any dramatic or factually logical level . Set in 2015 a handful of Brits head to Syria to live in the caliphate. Let's think about this for a moment . In 2015 the ISIS stronghold had been established for a year and daily horror stories had made world headlines , not least aid workers , journalists and prisoners of war being beheaded . It seems these thinly written cyphers must be the only people in the Universe who are unaware of the barbarity of ISIS. Oh and one of these idealists off to fight for ISIS just happens to be a white former squaddie from Scotland. As one of the characters points out "He might be a spy" and this is why ISIS wouldn't be accepting Western former soldiers with combat experience , though of course the Kurds of the YPG and Peshmerga would accept him . Indeed several hundred brave and noble Westerners , some with military experience , some without have fought in the various Kurdish militias and some of them have paid the ultimate price for their courage in fighting for radical democracy in a region of the World needing democratic values

Kosminsky claims he went to extensive lengths in interviewing former ISIS fighters. I don't doubt he did but you have to ask yourself if a former Jihadist is capable of telling the truth. Put it this way - if you've spent a couple of years breaking every international military and humanitarian law and are now in a jail somewhere are you really going to tell the truth that you've been raping kids and murdering civilians ? The induction for ISIS 2014-17 involves the mass murder of captured prisoners , a fact easily researchable via Google. This fact isn't propaganda. To watch THE STATE you'd think these Jihadists naively joined Daesh in the same way someone naively volunteered to operate the gas chambers at Nazi death camps , and like Nuremberg no one denied that genocide and mass atrocities had taken place "but I personally wasn't responsible for any of that" Yeah right

As I write this in the late Summer of 2017 the self styled caliphate of ISIS is about to become extinct and consigned to history. Hopefully the career of Peter Kosminsky in about to follow suit and if you want to educate yourself on the horrors of theocracy please read up on it via the countless articles and books on the subject and give this ridiculous so called drama a miss

Zygote (2017)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Well Made But Frustrating Calling Card, 25 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Neill Blomkamp ? Hey I remember him . He shocked the cinematic world with his exciting sci-fi thriller DISTRICT 9 that combined action with biting satire. He then directed a couple of flops which means Blomkamp is now known as "Hey I remember him .He directed DISTRICT 9 all these years ago"

With ZYGOTE one wonders if Blomkamp is trying to put himself in the shop window as in "Look I can make an effective hard hitting sci-fi horror movie" and indeed he can. The monster itself is derivative visually owing elements to John W Campbell's WHO GOES THERE and the works of Clive Barker but as far as imagery goes it's a superbly designed monster that is guaranteed to make your flesh creep


The fundamental problem with ZYGOTE is that it is not self contained in anyway . Imagine you're watching the most compelling DOCTOR WHO story ever made with the scariest monster in the Universe when all of a sudden there's a power cut. That's how the story is structured. It starts off sudden and ends even more suddenly. You'll be frustrated and you're left with the cynical feeling the director is asking for funds to film another 70 minutes of screen time . If Blomkamp gets his wish does this mean everyone who has commentated on this site get cheap tickets for the feature length ZYGOTE ?

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Interesting Foreign War Film, 25 July 2017

In Afghanistan a joint Spanish American patrol is ambushed. A rescue helicopter crashlands at the site. Back at base the commanding officer decides not to destroy the helicopter on the grounds that it could be used in a propaganda coup by the Taliban so tells the patrol commander to sit tight and set up a perimeter at the crash site where the grounded helicopter and patrol will all be evacuated the next day. As it turns out the Taliban are preparing to over run the perimeter and by morning there may be no one left alive to evacuate

I had RESCUE UNDER FIRE down as some sort of feminist girly type of movie since we're quickly introduced to a couple of female characters. This isn't really how the film plays out. Instead we have a rather traditional type of tale similar in some ways to how LONE SURVIVOR played out with a small team of Western soldiers trapped by the Taliban or to make a further allusion a bunch of homesteaders surrounded by Injuns . You've no doubt seen all this before but what the film does do well is draw you in to the action and create tension. It also helps that being a Spanish film with a Spanish cast the faces were unknown to me so I could easily buy in to these being real people in a real conflict with Jacobo Dicenta totally convincing as Sgt Agullar

Just in case you're wondering why NATO didn't just extract the troops , bomb the copter and have a press conference sinking any Taliban claims that it was shot down by the Taliban I wonder why they didn't do that either . Same I'm puzzled why NATO didn't have constant press conferences saying they're delivering medical aid to countless civilians while the Taliban were raping boys and throwing acid in the face of unveiled women .

1 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
More Of A Walk Than A War, 25 July 2017

Their stronghold attacked by humans where several apes are taken prisoner Caesar leads a posse to defeat the humans in their own stronghold

I can't say I'm a fan of this Apes reboot. Okay the Cap-Mo brought to life by Andy Serkis and others is impressive and unlike the original film franchise the apes don't look like Homo Sapiens wearing monkeys masks that were bought from the nearest fancy dress shop. That is sadly the only aspect of the reboot beats the originals. The originals had a deranged quality that had you convinced it'd be impossible to bring out a sequel but not only brought out a sequel but even managed to develop key point plots seen in earlier films. Just to repeat I'm not a fan of this Ape reboot but still caught WFTPOTA to see how things panned out though expectations were far from high

These low expectations were just about met but even so I still felt the film could have been much better. The main flaw is that Caesar and the other apes are the focus of the story. Yeah I know we're supposed to sympathise with the simians but who'd you rather run in to during a nice nature ramble ? Would it be another human being or a monkey with a machine gun ? Yeah exactly . There's also a limited amount of drama you can wring out of monkeys on horseback and almost an hour of chimpanzee characters riding about on horseback gets very boring very quickly . Then when the human antagonists make an appearance you're instantly struck that the film's trump card - Woody Harrelson as the nameless Colonel - hasn't featured enough. Make no mistake Harrelson is by far the best thing about the movie and leads to this latest- last ? - instalment is something of a disappointment in a trilogy that has been disappointing

Dunkirk (2017)
13 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Made Me Proud To Be British, 24 July 2017

Christopher Nolan ? Someone is rather over-hyped in my opinion. He's a director who often reverts to gimmicks in order to sell a movie. Woul MOMENTO have worked in a completely linear structure ? Would INCEPTION have worked without the groundbreaking special effects . Would THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy have worked without the ready made audience for a BATMAN reboot ? To be fair at least with a Nolan movie the film sells itself and with DUNKIRK there's always the problem that a film like this is going flop big time due to the fact that it involves a military defeat of sorts which is box office poison along with the fact that British stiff upper lips don't translate very well to an international audience. In other words I didn't have exceptional hopes for DUNKIRK but even I have to admit this film really delivers and it's all down to the director

If you've seen the trailers you know you're going to be watching cinematic spectacle and that's what you're getting . What the trailers don't convey is the oppressive and hypnotic soundtrack by Hans Zimmer which will grab you from the first scene. It's intrusive for sure and crushing but adds to the tension. Make no mistake this is a masterwork in tension . The fractured storyline concerns itself with three distinct sections . One involves the dilemma of the aptly named British soldier Tommy , one involves a RAF fighter patrol over the channel and the final storyline involves a civilian boating expedition to the Dunkirk beaches . These story lines are developed and edited superbly . One storyline is structured so ends on a cliffhanger cut to another storyline ending to a cliffhanger then cut to the dilemma being resolved but is really a case of out of the frying pan in to the fire

What also makes DUNKIRK noticeable and sets it apart from other recent war films is the lack of star power . Yeah okay we've got familiar faces like Hardy , Rylance , Murphy and Brannagh but it's the unknowns and up and coming actors like Whitehead , Barnard and Lowdon who carry the film and helps you buy in to the real life situations these characters are experiencing. It's refreshing that we don't get to see a name actor like Pitt or Cruise turn up to save the day complete with colonial accent . Despite the heart stopping tension and carnage constantly grinding the audience down there's also a distinct lack of gore and "war porn" which is also refreshing

One biting criticism the film seems guilty of is that it's somewhat cold and aloof with a lack of backstory to the characters lack development. I can understand these points but as I said this film is all about heart pounding tension. One also concludes that there's expressionistic elements in that the characters are shocked by what looks like nihilistic inevitable defeat and this is conveyed to the audience Imagine if Spielberg had directed it where sentimental clichés are to the fore , some soldier pulling out a photograph of his pregnant wife saying how much he loves her and the audience knowing there and then he's not going to make it the end credits. Here however you're thrown in to the cockpit of Collin's Spitfire , of Mr Dawson's small boat or being stuck in a sinking ship with Tommy

If there's one thing I regret after seeing this film it's that I didn't watch it in a proper IMAX cinema. I was left gasping at some of the scenes thinking "How could this scene be possibly be better ?" but a couple of days later after I've calmed down I do think not watching it on a proper IMAX screen has been a major mistake and I hope anyone reading this doesn't make the same mistake because DUNKIRK mixes spectacle with distressing personal dilemmas. Some people class the real life evacuation of Dunkirk as a defeat for the allies while other like myself class it as a "Victory grabbed from the jaws of defeat". Regardless of this opinion DUNKIRK is a victory of filmmaking . Filmmaking that made me bloody proud to be British

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Slight Let Down After Last Week, 4 July 2017

Not often I lavish praise on a Moffat produced NuWho story but credit is due after last weeks instant classic. The only thing is how are you going to follow that up in order to maintain the momentum ? One problem with the previous season of DOCTOR WHO was that the stories were composed of two parters which when watched consecutively failed to gel as solid narratives. This season's weak point was the Monk trilogy which was effectively three different stories whose only common link was having the same race of villains

To be fair to Moffat and co. the story does hang together as an extension to last week. Unfortunately it's the plotting that lets things down . A homestead of humans hold out against "scarecrows" coming back to life. Would it not be a better idea just chopping their arms and legs off instead of shooting them then chaining them up hoping they don't come back to life ? There's also countless Moffat tropes such as child characters - something the show 1963-89 managed to do without - a companion converted in an unfeeling machine not realising what they've become and the dreaded reboot button . Add to this the drawn out will he/won't he regenerate which becomes so drawn out it ends up being cynical and irritating instead of dramatic in anyway

Credit to where credit is due though and this is by far the most satisfying Moffat finale. The story is easy to follow. The cast are on fine form and Simm as cemented himself as my second favourite Mater behind Roger Delgado, Very special praise must go to Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts. When I heard the new companion was going to be a black lesbian I thought "Political correctness gone mad" but as Bill Potts she has been absolutely superb except when the writing feels the need the need to point out she's either black or gay and let's hope more roles beckon for this previously unknown actress. Capaldi is also good but much of his unlimited potential has been let down by poor writing where his persona changes from story to story and I for one has felt his entire era has been sabotaged by inconsistent writing

So one more Christmas special and then it's goodbye to Capaldi and Moffat and hello to Chibnall and a new actor playing the Doctor . Yes that's ACTOR and not ACTRESS . Oh and no more timey-wimey rubbish . And no more everyone lives and ....and...and...and

15 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
The Danger Of Promotion, 24 June 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The viewing figures of DOCTOR WHO have been falling. Don't believe me ? Well go and research the viewing figures. Better still compare them with the RTD/Tennant era and you'll see that for a show constantly making the top ten shows for that week it's now in danger of slipping out of the top 30. The buzz that the show once had where you'd overhear strangers talking about the show on the bus or down the pub has long gone. What is left for the BBC to reverse this ? There's only one thing that's left and that is to launch a massive counter-offensive featuring trailer in between every other BBC show broadcast. Even in the halcyon days when the nation fell in love with David Tennant I don't think I've seen so much promotion. If nothing else it does show that the BBC still has faith in DOCTOR WHO


The problem ? It effectively kills one of the greatest pieces of NuWho ever produced. Make no mistake even this hardcore reactionary fan of classic Who was blown away by what I've just witnessed but because of the promotion it gave a little bit too much away which lessened the impact. We know The Master as played by John Simms is returning so when Zathras Razor turns up it's very easy to second guess who his real identity is before the shock revelation. Patients in bandages sit in a hospital ward. We know where this heading. Bill is shot dead and is taken away by bandaged figures. We know where this heading . We know what this dying planet is and the fate of the inhabitants and what the shock plot turns are. Make no mistake these are shock plot turns that surpass the cliffhanger of say episode one of Earthshock in 1982 or the Dalek/Cybermen ending of Army Of Ghosts and if I hadn't known any of this in advance I'd consider this the greatest piece of NuWho. If Moffat can come up with something as wonderful as this then why has he been serving up so much dross over the years ? If the production team can come up with something as wonderful as this on a consistent basis then the BBC wouldn't have to promote the show because the word of mouth would have kept the show in the hearts and minds of Mr , Mrs . Ms and Master Joe Public. Let's hope Moffat can carry on the momentum for next week and the Christmas special

Does No One Love Scorsese Then ?, 22 June 2017

It took me a very long time to finally watch BOXCAR BERTHA. The prime reason for this is simply because it's hard to find. I can't recall it ever being broadcast on television and I'm including obscure cable channels and not just network television. I can't recall it being available on DVD either or being shown in the filmhouse , Edinburgh's foremost art-house cinema. Strangely it is not held in high regard by people who have seen it and it's shocking to see it has an average rating of 6.1 on this site. If there's a film by Scorsese that can be described as "forgotten" this might just be it. How can a film by this great American auteur be forgotten ?

Ah I can see why some people might hold it in relatively low regard. The 70s was a zenith for American film making and perhaps only classic Hollywood beats this era. This is an era where "movie brats" came along and made films about angry young people take on the world single handed and anyone who has ever been young and/or angry will recognise the wish fufillment that drives the central narrative of these movies. The downside is that BOXCAR BERTHA is drowned slightly by the films surrounding it. You're often reminded of similar films such as BONNIE AND CLYDE and BADLANDS. If there;s a difference it's that the characters are maybe a little bit too Robin Hood in that they'd never think of robbing the poor and that they're far more sinned against rather than sinners

Some people have stated that it's more like a Corman movie than a Scorsese one. I can understand this complaint and it's obvious that the budget is limited but don't forget this is character driven which has always appealed to Marty and while there's lots of incident it doesn't really have much in the way of a core central plot, Can you see Scorsese making a film featuring a mindbending plot ala Christopher Nolan ? Me neither so this type of story is ready made for Scorsese. It's also far more enjoyable than much of Scorsese's latter output where he tries too hard such as GANGS OF NY or his spiritual movies like KUNDUN and SILENCE. In short BOXCAR BERTHA is a film for people who want to live fast and die young but never got round to it

Bombs Away, 22 June 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I popped down to see a couple of friends Danny and Sarah - a short time ago. I did mention to my hostess Sarah that if she ever wanted to terrify herself she should look up astrophysics on the internet and see what horrors the Universe has in store for this tiny speck of a planet. Things like gamma ray bursts and asteroid strikes. Sarah replied that she'd hope she die very quickly in those events which is probably the best anyone can hope for. Considering that my hosts are like most most of my friends half my age I went in to morbid nostalgia mode where as a teenager in the 1980s the youth of today don't know how lucky they are compared to then. There was constant films and documentaries made about thermal-nuclear conflict and the old cliché of "The lucky ones died first" and the world has changed beyond all recognition with Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) no longer a constant threat. This mockumentary from 1998 is a scary reminder of what might have been


The premise is something you've seen before. In 1989 liberal reformer in the Soviet Union ( Gorbachev) is overthrown and a hardline communist (Soshkin) leads the Politburo. Civil unrest in East Germany reaches crisis point and the Red Army brutally quells the protests. Within a few months tensions escalate between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. In February 1990 the first shots are fired in the North Atlantic as the Soviets impose a blockade against sea-lanes. Two weeks later the Soviets invade West Germany . Making slow headway Warsaw Pact forces manage to penetrate 50 miles but are then quickly pushed back as NATO technology and superior mobility wins through. By the end of the month NATO have reached Berlin and both sides are in a dilemma as to what to do next ?

What fascinated me about this speculative scenario is the conventional conflict rather than what might come next. Since this was produced in 1998 there's both more information available due to post cold war declassification and what is known about Soviet tactics and equipment. No one was saying it out loud at the time but Western analysts in the 1980s considered the Soviets unbeatable due their massive manpower and the fact that no matter how bloody a war is they don't have to answer to an electorate. The ill fated escapade in Afghanistan and the later Russian debacle against the Chechens showed the myth of Soviet power as being what it was - a myth. Add to this well trained Western forces against larger Arab armies equipped with Soviet material in various Israeli-Arab conflicts and two Gulf wars shows that quantity isn't always better than quality

The mockumentary uses extensive newsreel footage that you can often recognise such as footage from Khe Sahn in 1968 , the Falklands Conflict from 1982 and the first Gulf War in 1991. Much of the footage that you won't recognise unless you've had military experience comes from NATO training films and unless you didn't know better you'd think it was specially shot for the mockumentary . If there's a problem it's that it's yet another scenario where the Soviets are the aggressors and because of the ending all internal logic of what we've been watching has been ignored. Still it's a window on the world we used to live in during this period where as nowadays dying of boredom is more likely than being vaporized in a Nuclear attack

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