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The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Great technical achievement. Not as much mystery as the first (understandable). Not as much streetwise attitude as the first (unusual). The second film moves away from being enigmatic, and leans closer toward being regular "epic" science fiction.
Also gets caught up in its own cleverness, particularly toward the end where parts become hard to follow (could be a problem with editing).
Great action (especially the fight with a great number of suited attackers).
The characters in this series have never been particularly charismatic or played with personality (I guess that's the comic book feel it strives for, and succeeds at), but it was the tough attitude that made the first one work (as well as its central idea). No charisma this time, either. Feels flat in parts. Gets very talky and dull in long stretches.
One heck of a car chase, though.
Enjoyable, though you'd be forgiven if you forgot it within half a day. Too mystical for its own good, yet still fun when you don't have to think.
Shaft didn't quite make my day
My impression is that the legend of Shaft out does the actual film! The character deserves better treatment, but that's not to say the flick shouldn't be checked out. It serves well as an early 70s time capsule, especially in the department of "Attitude". The character is far more enjoyable than the film itself. "Dirty Harry", which was released in the same year as "Shaft", stands up much better, with better plotting, characterisation and thrills.
All that glitters is Goldfinger
My favourite Bond movie. You won't find a great reliance on gadgets, although they do start running the show in this one. Perfectly tongue-in-cheek spy yarn. Over the top, cartoonish danger. Great henchman. Great villain. Great Bond. Connery, although he had put his finger on 007's pulse from the word 'Go', really has refined his portrayal in this one. Every move calculated, Connery impresses with his dry delivery of one-liners and his direct approach to action. Part animal, part gentleman - Connery set the standard. Goldfinger is just perfect as far as spy adventures go - or at least as far as not-too-serious spy adventures go!
The Avengers (1961)
The Avengers set the standard for TV espionage
One of my all-time favourite series, which hits its peak with the colour Emma Peel episodes. Style, humour, character and a wonderful hitchcockian macabre atmosphere.
Macnee is one of the greatest, most charismatic, leading men to ever grace Television. Rigg has become iconic in TV history, also appreciated was the groundwork set by Honor Blackman for strong females roles.
Great show. Great music. Great production values once it hit it's fifth series. Great atmosphere all round.
Play It Again, Sam (1972)
One of Woody's finest films (Finest = Darn funny)
Excellent early Woody Allen comedy. Makes great use of Allen's neurotic screen persona, and Diane Keaton is a great counterpart.
Well paced, and well timed comedy tale. Simple. Not forced. Laugh out loud moments, though not a slapstick comedy, the movie does deliver well with physical comedy when needed.
Everything is used wonderfully sparingly in this flick. Most enjoyable.
Citizen Kane (1941)
Technically brilliant film, but pacing flags for the most part and characterisation is not terribly interesting. The performances are fine, but apart from Kane himself, everyone else seems to be lacking in their delivery. Perhaps it is because Welles is a master actor and outshines everyone else, but there is definitely something lacking on screen.
It amazes me how this film often makes number 1 on most "Greatest Films of All Time" lists. The mood is magnificent and the musical score from Bernard Herrmann wonderfully brooding. Such a pity the emotion of the film doesn't live up to its potential.
Great game of cat and mouse
This film is fantastic. Great character turns by the leads and wonderful dialogue. A perfect study of character on film. Darkly comic and macabre in its own way.
K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
K-19 takes a dive
I'm no great fan of the submarine genre, so maybe my point of view is somewhat invalid, but I found this film dull. It plodded for the most part and didn't really contain anything memorable. Harrison Ford has a natural on-screen staunchness which made him ideal for his character. However, I still would like Ford to show us he actually has charisma on-screen when not playing Indiana Jones or Han Solo. Just a typical submarine drama. Nothing new here.
Nicholson's greatest role
This film stands above so many films of the 70s. It really scores high for realistic acting. Nicholson's performance is absolute gold. The film also mixes humour and drama extremely well, one minute we're laughing only then to descend into sadness. Powerful. The film also has respect for its characters, although not to the point of becoming sappy and being afraid to use them for comic effect when appropriate. Nicholson isn't the only actor to watch out for - everyone is on form, there's not a weak performance in the whole picture. Each character is crafted and endearing (or realistically menacing in the case of Louise Fletcher). Special note must be made of Sydney Lassick as Cheswick, a nice little character and a fine portrayal. The film is extremely quotable and full of memorable scenes.
Road to Perdition (2002)
An American Classic Waiting to Happen
This is an American classic waiting to happen. I'm sure it will gather a number of Oscars when the time comes, and I would have to say Best Cinematography is obvious. The strength of this film is its look. Every shot, every frame is a picture postcard, beautiful in its own grim, dark way. Not a weak performance in the entire film. I haven't seen a film in a long time that so perfectly captures old style movie-making as this film did. There was no music-video styled editing, it felt so much like a drama that had been produced in the 1970s, the decade when Hollywood truly tackled the grim reality of consequence. I'm writing this in October 2002, and although the year is nearly at an end, this is by far the only film I've seen this year, thus far, that feels like a 'Best Picture'. Wonderful, wonderful atmosphere. As I said, it's a classic waiting to happen, the only thing that needs to happen to it now is the passage of time for people to look back and remember it.