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Dad's Army (2016)
Enjoyed every minute of this
I have to say, I enjoyed every minutes of this film. The cinema was packed when I saw it. And there were plenty of people laughing aloud, which is what I went for... a thoroughly enjoyable entertaining film and I thought they must have had fun making it. I've read reviews which puzzle me. Have we British lost our sense of humour? Or has it changed so much we no longer laugh at "Round the Horne"-type innuendo and silly things like Pike saying "are we there yet" and brilliantly timed slapstick like the pompous, self-important Mainwaring falling behind the map? Classic Scotsman's kilt joke, iconic white cliffs, such eccentricity it throws the potential invading Germans completely, a nice young heroine, Godfrey's sisters... a pair of "Miss Marples", Godfrey's completely irrelevant German, wide boy become's hero, splendid ATS group led by Mrs Mainwaring saving the day... I could go on. Those women reminded me of my teachers at school... formidable... absolutely no-nonsense tolerated more than a match for any potential invading force. Great stuff. Can we have another one please? Same cast, crew, writer, producer, director etc etc?
The Shipping News (2001)
I found it compulsive watching
This was a film I hadn't seen before and I hadn't read the book, so I could assess the film on its own merits. I was interested to see Kevin Spacey was starring as I have enjoyed a few of his productions at the Old Vic in London. It was on late and I had been watching a programme on TV abut Judy Dench. I found the film engaged my attention from the start. I had no idea how the story would develop. By the time the bleak landscape of Newfoundland was revealed I was completely engaged in the film. With its undertones of child abuse, incest and neglect, this film was disturbing in some ways, but the portrayal of the village newspaper, the remote community life, the bleak landscape and the stormy coast, gave it a powerful impact, which stayed with me long after it was finished. There were top notch performances by a strong cast, not least, the child who played Bunny. In fact a lot of it deals with how children cope with abuse and neglect and can come to terms with it, even when they are adults. The last words in the film, spoken by Kevin Spacey, "A broken man can heal", perhaps sum up the film's ultimate message of the triumph of the human spirit against all odds.
The Guard (2011)
This is a watch-again film
Seeing the Guard was on Film 4 I decided to watch it for the second time. The first time I saw it, it was on TV and I had half a mind to switch it off because of the swearing in it from the beginning, but the subtle humour and the story was so good, I watched it to the end. I like the ironic humour in it. The drug smuggling gang discussing philosophy in the car. The IRA man querying the loss of the Kalashnikov and then it turns up later for the FBi man to use. Why the IRA use the little hand guns to attract MI5 agents. His mum waiting to confess to being in a orgy. The couple who only speak gaelic to the FBi agent and others who are so unhelpful, he eventually tries talking to a horse. And the main character, Boyle, a loose cannon, a maverick, but he gets the gang. This is a brilliantly scripted film with a great narrative and the tremendous scenery of the west of Ireland. There are so many memorable scenes in it. The little boy who finds the cache of weapons in a peat bog and tries to pocket a small hand gun. The IRA man who turns up in a VW beetle and goes to open the engine to put the cache of weapons in. The best and most unexpected bit is when Boyle seems to be at the mercy of the philosophical psychopath and has the small hand gun where he has been told "gay" IRA men put them when they go to meet MI5 agents... you need to watch the film to find out what happens next and the best thing about this film is, you are never quite sure what will happen next. film to find out what happens next...
The Sweeney (2012)
I was keen to watch this as I remember the original TV series with affection
This film is strong on action which is violent most of the time. The London depicted in it is very different from the London of the original TV series. This is a re-developed London and Docklands, the night photography was good and enjoyable. So were the interiors, clinically clean. The dialogue contained too much swearing for my taste. it was strong on the "macho" short on the witty. The car chases were great. Just as well there were no cyclists on those country roads with that psychopathic driving from villains and Sweeney. Perhaps I was looking for the TV series Sweeney-speak... "OK son you're nicked" and the rhyming slang, but then would you call a mobile phone a "dog and bone"? The final car chase was good with hand-break turns worthy of rally driving. I was expecting the tyres to blow before the guns went off. The filming was good. The Regan and Carter in the film lacked the camaraderie of the original characters and the dialogue was coloured with so many swear words, I didn't really notice much else. For me the film dialogue lacked the humour and wit of the original TV series, but the setting and filming made up for that.
A Is for Acid (2002)
Brilliant portrayal of a psychopath
I saw this TV-made film for the first time last night. I know "sociopath" and "psychopath" are labels and that everyone is an individual and no label, even attached to a mass-murderer such as Haigh could really explain his actions which can only be described as destructive and evil. Martin Clunes was clearly relishing the role and I have to say, I found him completely convincing in it. Whilst the adaptation does suggest the strict religious sect his parents adhered to was a strong influence in his development into a psychopathic murderer, I think this film interpretation of his character indicated he had a sense of entitlement to taking what he wanted in life and he had no boundaries, no conscience, saw no reason why he could not do what he wanted to do to get it all. He would appear to be one of those people who believes their own lies to the extent they can successfully convince many others. I think the reason he committed the murders was because he could and he seems to have committed them for personal gain. He had none of the normal moral and ethical boundaries in place to prevent him. He was unable to understand or foresee the consequences of his actions. Since the explanation he was influenced by his religious background came from Haigh himself, who was a practised and pathological liar, I leave it to the experts to determine whether such people as Haigh are the products of nature or nurture or a tragic combination of many contributing influences.
The Dictator (2012)
Very funny, very clever
On one level, this film is extremely funny slapstick, but it's very clever too. For me one of the funniest bits was when Aladeen hangs on a wire above the streets of New York and gets rid of a health drink which he says has as much potassium as three bananas and then he gets rid three bananas from another pocket, in case the drink didn't work. He also voids himself of his pooh (he's been a bit constipated) to make himself lighter. Of course it lands on someone's head. Aladeen lists many of the 'advantages' of having a dictatorship in his speech to the United Nations. Some of his arguments, I noticed particularly the point about allowing banks to gamble with people's money and having the prisons mostly populated by one ethnic group are actually features of certain western democracies. I was laughing all the way through this speech! It's a laugh out loud film, although some of Aladeen's apparent exploits as a dictator, talked about, not demonstrated, were a little bit too near the knuckle for me. I particularly loved the way he made up names for himself out of notices and the way he took over the running of the shop. The whole film is clever and i probably need to see it more than once to appreciate all of it.
Great film with the feel-good factor
This, for me, is a "watch again" film. My "watch again" films create a world I'd like to go back to. I don't know if it is the magic of India, but "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" has the same attraction for me as "Passage to India". This is in spite of the fact "Passage to India" is set in the era of the British Raj and "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" is in modern India. The film is funny and quaint and sentimental with a superb cast. I have to single out Maggie Smith especially. There were aspects of her character I know only too well. The concept of Britain not wanting its elderly people any more, "so they can come here" is great too. I loved the way in which things were resolved and characters seemingly defeated by life and sinking into an elderly lethargy, found new roles and a new lease of life.
The Artist (2011)
Great film.... it was over too quickly
This film was over much too quickly and created a world I didn't want to leave. It is a demonstration of the film- makers art to be able to explain everything visually. After seeing The Artist I wondered if we ever needed sound in films. George Valentin's smile is infectious. Without speech, facial expressions are everything. The sequence when sound is added is visually witty and funny. Above all the music is great. Rather than reproduce music from the time, the elements of the 1920s style have been reworked into an original and thoroughly enjoyable film score. Elements of the film could stand alone. It could be enjoyed in complete silence. The photography is stunning. The clothes and sets are stylish. The music is great. Together they sparkle.
The Woman in Black (2012)
Dark Gothic film which may give you the creeps
The Woman in Black. A dark Gothic tale which uses every creepy trick in the genre and finishes in a plethora of loose ends! The filming, where you can see it, is good. A lot of the atmosphere is generated by the music and loud bangs will make you jump. There are few characters who appear to be sane and the story line takes spite and hatred into infinity. If you know England, the Yorkshire village is filmed near the Essex marshes, which perhaps only have the east coast in common. The village and its people are like in the comedy series "The league of Gentlemen". Not much in the film is understated or left the the imagination. it perhaps would have been creepier if it had been. The ending is a bit predictable, fatalistic and expected. The most disturbing aspect of the film, from my point of view, is that superstition, ignorance, spite and hatred are the dominating themes. It wouldn't appeal to a tidy mind. The bereaved hero, Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) has gone to a Gothic house ( which looks like Satis House in Rochester, Kent) to sort out the estate. The mess of papers is never sorted out. The house never gets on the market. Disturbed minds are never sorted out. Wherever there might appear to be normality is an undercurrent of extreme insanity. I really liked the vintage car and the vintage railway scenes, although I am reliably informed that the locomotive used dates from the 1930s not the 1910s. I once stayed in a Yorkshire Inn, which had that kind of atmosphere. I decided to go into the small communal lounge upstairs where there were a lot of stuffed animals around the room, the rain beat against the window panes and the wind howled around the eaves. I put the television on and the film Damon Omen started. I heard an uneven rhythmic tramp on the wooden staircase which led to corridor outside the room I was in. The door opened with a creak. My heart was racing by this time. There stood the black- bearded landlord and it was his wooden leg I had heard on the stairs. We both jumped in surprise to see each other. I decided the warmth of the open fire in the flag-stoned bar and a draught Theakston's Old Peculiar with my friends was preferable to watching Damon Omen on my own that night. I was reminded of that incident when I watched The Woman in Black.
War Horse (2011)
Stunning film, a visual feast
This film is a treat to watch. I was keen to see it, but had reservations about watching scenes from world war one. I had no need to worry. The whole thing was beautifully handled and even the filming of the trenches and the front were carefully composed and lit. Joey the horse is the lead actor. And what an actor! What a handsome horse! He certainly stole the film. Some scenes stay with me. The race with the car, the friendship with the black horse, the Geordie regiment bagpipe player in the trench, the German soldiers helping the worn out horses drag those great guns up the slope. Joey bolting through the barbed-wire fencing. A friend I was with remarked afterwards that Roses of Picardy had not been written in 1914 and that the record it was being played on was from about three decades later. These are really small details in what appeared to me to be a meticulously researched film. I hope it has a world wide audience. It deserves one.