Reviews written by registered user
pmforster

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11 reviews in total 
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26 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
An important movie, 31 December 2006
10/10

I wanted to see this movie because I had read the book on which it is based and found the book impressive. I thought this was a great film and a great adaptation of the book. Its exploration of the almost entirely different worlds occupied by those fighting a war and those watching from a distance grabbed me from the first moment and kept me totally absorbed until the end of the final credits. I found it moving and thought-provoking in a way that nothing else has since I saw 'Molokai: The Story of Father Damien' a few years ago. It got me thinking deeply about what is really important in life and I can't ask for anything more from a movie than that.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Into the void, 25 October 2003
3/10

This is a very stylish film - a very imaginative film, full of creative touches and thoughtful references. Tarantino draws fine performances from his actors. He also makes the extreme violence of the fight scenes appear stylish - sexy even. It will appeal to young audiences everywhere. Which is why Tarantino makes me sick.

9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Strong on action, 17 June 2003
6/10

Imagine a sandwich of gun fight, car chase, fist fight, gun fight, sex, car chase, gun fight etc, with thin slivers of dialogue in between to explain why the protagonists are fighting or chasing each other. Our hero, Captain Strong, is diverted from his day job in the Special Air Service to take on a diplomatic mission to one of the former Soviet republics. With steely eyes and firm chin he manages to avoid several million rounds of ammunition fired in his direction by some very bad men and still finds time to engage in unprotected sex with attractive women who can scream very loudly when necessary. Nice to see that Brits can still save the world and avoid STDs.

Noteworthy for providing an account of how Saddam Hussein hid some of his weapons of mass destruction. Turn off brain, forget about plot and enjoy some jolly decent baddy-bashing.

Fight Club (1999)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Mad, bad and dangerous to know, 23 March 2003
7/10

Fight Club is a movie of two halves. The first half establishes Edward Norton's character as dissatisfied with his life and his small job in a large organization. His initial response is to participate in support groups, which provide the emotional support lacking in the rest of his life. After a fire damages his home, however, rather than looking to any of the people he met in those groups, he seeks out Brad Pitt, whom he previously met only briefly, but who offers a more satisfying way out of the drab pettiness of his life. It is from the interactions between Norton and Pitt that the Fight Club develops. The tangible contact of fighting and feeling pain revitalizes Norton's life, and gives it a meaning previously lacking.

Although it is extremely violent and includes graphic portrayals of the effects of the fights, I enjoyed the movie to this point. It explores a theme that Pitt's character makes explicit when he talks about fighting as a means of recovering a masculine identity in a culture in which young men are brought up and feminised by, and also implicitly betrayed by, overexposure to women as mothers and teachers. The reduction of Norton to a weak, needy consumer is the outcome of that process. I was looking forward to the development of that theme when the film began its shift into the main feature of the second half - the exploration of individual psychopathology. I am being deliberately vague here because I don't want to give away detail that will spoil the film for some, but I found this aspect of the film less satisfying. This was partly because it is not a particularly good account of a dissociative disorder, but also because I was enjoying the themes of the first part of the film and wanted to see them given prominence.

However, there was still much that I enjoyed about the whole movie. I thought that all performances were very well done - not just the main characters, but some of the minor characters such as Norton's boss. Finally, the cinematography and direction help sustain dramatic tension throughout the movie. 7 / 10.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Could do better, 7 July 2002
3/10

The plot and characters are hardly worth commenting on - you have seen them before. The performances are competent and the sets adequate for a low budget drama. The most noteworthy thing about this series is that it was meant to be set in large part in the country now called New Caledonia. This is a French territory in the south west pacific which has a troubled history, largely as a result of colonial occupation and which is still unstable. The real history of those islands is interesting and dramatic. This mini-series reduces it to dull cliches. It is rendered even more unwatchable by the main characters having to preface what they say to each other by phrases like, "You are melanesian...." They have to say things like that because they so obviously have not the slightest drop of melanesian blood in their bodies. Perhaps they assume that the audience for this will be too stupid or ignorant to know the difference. There are many fine melanesian actors - the makers should have made an effort to use some of them here. A sad waste of celluloid devoted to what could have been in interesting subject - as colonial in its attitude as the colonialism it attacks.

John Q (2002)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Exploring moral dilemmas, 9 June 2002
8/10

I teach an undergraduate course in Child Development. During the course we look at children's moral development and particularly focus on the work of Kohlberg and his 'Heinz' dilemma. The dilemma concerns a man whose wife is ill and needs a particular drug to survive. The chemist who makes the drug is asking a price that Heinz cannot afford and so he breaks into the chemist's shop and steals the drug. Kohlberg determined children's level of moral development from the kind of answers they give to the question, "Was Heinz wrong to steal the drug." The youngest children usually say yes he was wrong - stealing is always wrong. As they get older they bring more factors into the equation and will often say that he was not wrong because human life is more important.

At the heart of the movie 'John Q' is a very similar moral dilemma presented in a thoughtful and sympathetic way. I give this move 8/10 for its treatment of an issue that is well worth thinking about.

BTW, on a 'Health and Community Psychology' course I also teach, most students see the US American health system as too deeply flawed to be a model other countries should adopt. The reasons why are also well set out in this movie.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A physiological and psychological exploration, 7 May 2002
9/10

I intend using this series on an introductory course in human development that I teach. Although the emphasis is on the physiology and mechanics of the body, those are integrated well with a psychological perspective. The series is interesting and accessible. The episode on the death of Herbie is outstanding and is a moving account of the end of life.

16 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
Party pooper, 4 May 2002
2/10

One of the themes that André pursues with enthusiasm is alternative conceptions of reality. He exemplifies this with the Findhorn Foundation - a spiritual community and eco-village founded in northeast Scotland in 1962.

Having lived at that community for eight years and taken considerable interest in the myths surrounding it and the care with with which they are sustained, I feel like I can write with some authority on the subject. Sorry if this spoils your favourite belief system, but it is all complete nonsense. There *is* a Universal Hall - I worked in it for several years. However, the roof stays in place, even in the fierce gales which are common in that part of the world. It does not mystically rise, turn or anything similar. The only things that are mystical about the Universal Hall are that it was ever completed at all, given the many financial problems of the Foundation, and the electrics, which are held together by good intentions.

Equally, there were never any giant cabbages produced by miraculous devic powers - that is a myth started by one of the founders, Peter Caddy, who was a nice guy who possessed the marketing ethics of Microsoft.

Finally, Eileen Caddy, another of the founders, was a very nice person but she did not talk to God. The 'still, small voice within' is better seen as Eileen, talking to herself and others, saying the things she was unable to put her own name to.

The only real miracle of Findhorn is how so many people can be so gullible for so long. It is a great testament to the power of appealing fantasies over less attractive but truly miraculous realities. Which brings us back to André and the film...

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Oh therapist, where art thou?, 1 May 2002
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just once I would like to see Hollywood portray the relationship between therapist/counsellor (Robin Williams here) and client (Matt Damon) in some way that is approximately like the real thing. It is NOT normal for counsellors to have sex with their clients (as in most British dramas involving therapy) or for the therapist to physically attack their client, as here. And then in the next scene their relationship is 'back to normal.'

This is a serious issue because inaccurate portrayals put people off from going to therapy; therapy that could really help them.

So, the acting is fine and the plot is interesting, but I guess I am just too close to the topic of counselling and psychotherapy to be able to enjoy a movie that portrays that so badly.

17 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
A struggle to stay awake, 30 April 2002
7/10

I echo other reviewers in their description of this as a film for those who are spiritual seekers. Others will probably find it rather slow and dull.

One of the main points of Gurdjieff's philosophy is that most people are asleep. This film depicts the effort it takes to become, and to stay, awake.

My impression is that this is a film by someone who has studied what Gurdieff said about himself and his philosophy (Try 'All and Everything' if you want to get into the details of that), but not what others have said about him. The more you get to know what those who knew him said about him, the less likely you would be to present him in such a rosy light. Frankly, he comes across as a bit of a git who used some rather naive spiritual seekers to his own ends.

I enjoyed the movie, but see it as something of a positive skimming over Gurdjieff's early years.


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