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18 reviews in total 
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Cold Souls (2009)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Only watch if you've no sense of humour, 16 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well, the reviews made this sound fun.

Apparently there is supposed to be humour in this film and some reviews suggest that it is even supposed to be clever.

It's a long, grinding bore. If there is anything funny about it, then it must be for people who tell jokes to appear funny and have a sense of 'humor' - nothing to do with humour.

It might help, I suppose, if you've some sort of notion that 'souls' could be real - I was expecting that it would be exposed as a silly medical/hey-wow/rip-off scam to make people think that they'd got souls. Apparently, though, this silly idea was supposed to be taken seriously.

Avoid. This is compared to the 'Being John Malkovich' film - it is equally deliberate, trivial and boring - but somewhat less annoying.

3 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Disturbing, shocking, but brilliant, 28 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Capital Punishment is such a primitive and savage activity, it's a wonder any practitioner or supporter is considered house-trained.

To say that I'd been 'looking forward' to Werner Hertzog's film would give the wrong impression. I can say that I'd been anticipating watching it with interest for several months and it, so far, has been excellent, if disturbing.

The cruel and unusual torture involved in Death Row is made very clear in the first episode. It's, to me, evident, that, even if the man being interviewed had committed the murders, and done them in cold blood, rather than when out of his mind, the 17 years of torture he has been forced to suffer has more than covered any punishment he deserved.

Jeremy Bentham observed that punishment should always be in proportion to the suffering that the crime caused, it is hugely unjust, and wicked to punish with many times over the amount of pain and suffering caused. It is criminally uncivilised that the authorities have been unable to see this and have persisted in treating this man in such an ghastly, horrific and savage manner, for such an interminably long time.

Of course, Herzog is not naïve. He's chosen a very unusual inmate to make the case. Not only is the inmate articulate, sensitive, mainly rational, and intelligent (though not always sensible, as is made clear!), but he's white (most people executed in the US are black), and was convicted as an adult - and there's some doubt (supported by the Supreme Court) of his guilt. I supposed Herzog looked for a similarly white, articulate, possibly guiltless, murderess, but was unable to find one. I think that this is all quite fair - if people are such moral imbeciles as to think such torture and execution acceptable, then any means of persuasion is legitimate (even if, ultimately, unlikely to succeed). After all, it is wrong to execute anybody, not just wrong to murder, judicially, people like us... Alhough one wonders a bit about mass-murderers of the Mao, Pol Pot, Tony Blair, George Bush, Stalin variety - the question of punishment for causing such massive pain, suffering, mutilation and death is more difficult in the cases of such extreme monsters, it is still true that it would be wrong to torture and execute them - after all, stringing Mussolini from a lamppost hasn't done anything to deter murderous fascists since then..

The film also makes a good case for the profound depth of the depravity of executioners. Is it possible to imagine any human activity more depraved than operating a human slaughter- house? Particularly one attached to torture chambers that mete out incessant, cruel treatment, over decades, against human beings. Even soldiers have the merit of arguing that their victims can, sometimes, fight back. At least DIY home murderers can argue that they seldom, even prolific serial killers, manage to kill 200+ people a year, and that they do it for passion, or serious money - not just 'extra pay'.

10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Epicurus would have approved, 12 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This week's Black Mirror is, again, brilliant. Epicurus would have approved of the mirror it holds to modern corruption.

Perfectly portrayed parody, portraying the pustulating, pestilential, purgatory of perpetual, pervasive, plebvision puerility - pandering, pathetically, to perverse passions - producing pure pornography *.

A dystopian present all too real to some already. The only real objection that I have to my iPad is that it makes it more difficult to turn off the advertisements - no doubt, as 15 Million Merits so marvelously makes clear, the intention is to make them compulsory.

If the writers of Black Mirror aren't on my exact wavelength, they're certainly absolutely in phase with my prejudices.

['pornography' is, originally, defined by the authors, not the subject matter]

5 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Brilliantly observed comedy, up there with the best!, 9 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm really looking forward to the next of this series. It's brilliantly observed and very, very funny. It has, of course, a good many important points to make - it shows the instinctive dishonesty of the civil servants, the force for good that the internet is in making such dishonesty more difficult. It has echoes of 'Yes, Minister', but it is funnier.

The question that is evident, but not tackled explicitly is why the life of a country pet, pampered and useless is considered a more serious matter than the life of the over 100,000 civilians, real living people, not kept pets, killed by the war in Iraq. Why not just let the silly bint die?

I hope that future episodes explore this sort of thing - and deal with some important plot points. Apart from being illegal, bestiality is unkind to the beast. What about the feelings of animals? Even more fundamentally, how would somebody not used to it manage the requisite arousal? Doesn't that suggest something of a secret yearning in the Prime Minister? Had he, perhaps, known ( in the biblical sense ) the pig before? No attempt was made to introduce him to the animal to make friends before the act, it was simply rape. I'd be interested, too, to know what became of the animal afterwards - you'd have thought that it's bacon might fetch a premium - 'as touched by the PM'.

I haven't laughed so much for a very long time - it was pure tonic for the soul.

3 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Probably the best episode in this recent season, 19 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It was a good episode of 'House', most amusing. What was oddest about it was that three, apparently responsible, doctors enjoyed watching boxing. I wonder if they also enjoy watching dog fights and car accidents for fun.

I was a little disappointed that the reputation of syphilis as the 'great pretender' wasn't explored further.

It was right that Wilson got his come-uppance after being unkind enough, as a friend, to let poor house be left at home watching plebvision instead of at the boxing match.

I think that House' thesis about parents ( pretty much the same as Philip Larkins ) was shown to be flawed in the last case.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Really bad film - no attempt to avoid anachronisms, 20 September 2011

This is a truly bad film. Terrible dialogue - and no attempt whatsoever to fit into the time period - they might as well have worn watches and looked up things on their iPads. Yankland hadn't been invented yet, but most of the characters talk in Yank, with yank idiom, as if the action is taking place in Los Angelese. You'd have thought that just a tiny bit of effort to fit into the period would be worth making.

The plot is badly thought out - as you can tell by their dreadful attempts to explain the plot later on. The effects are hopeless.

It's so bad that, occasionally, it's unintentionally funny - that's all that can be said for it. The deep-seated inability of the actors to act is a standing joke. The 20th century attitudes force- fitted onto a badly imagined past has the other standing joke.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Life in a Day is, unusually, worth the huge praise - it is truly brilliant! Sad, humbling, trite, yes, but that's us., 4 August 2011

Wow! This has exceeded all my expectations - & I had a lot. It isn't a film, it's an experience. If aliens were to watch any film about humanity, I'd want it to be this one. It is really sad, really happy, really genuine. We are such amazing, and (mainly) wonderful apes:​87247/ We're so used to false, manufactured, artificial emotion in films that it's quite an unusual delight to find the real thing.

Yes, of course, any editing of so many clips has, perforce, a point of view, an agenda, but I can't help feeling that this is a sound one, a humanistic one. I'll have to watch it again - it just has so much, so many perspectives on what makes us human, what matters to us, what we fear, why we are what we are.

I'd recommend it - humanity in the raw. Ourselves. What is best about the film (given my comment above) is that it just is what it is (as far as is possible in such a duplicitous medium).

I'll watch it again, and consider more what it really has to say - but my first impression is that it is brilliant.

Sad, humbling, trite, yes, but that's us.

26 out of 53 people found the following review useful:
Nasty propaganda, 14 July 2011

It's odd, but we happened to watch another unashamed propaganda film - perhaps propaganda is like buses, they arrive in clumps - we also watched a propaganda film about creationism ('Expelled'), this week.

Again, it's just Leni Riefenstahl re-make. Only somebody ignorant of history since WWII and naive to the techniques of emotional manipulation, lying by omission and logical fallacies would be persuaded by this rubbish.

Amazingly, for what claims to be a documentary, the film ends with a long clip from a post- apocalyptic science fiction film, full of scenes of destruction & weeping children - not as a reminder of what was done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki (and the firebombing of Tokyo), but to try to support the claim that the world needs the 'protection' of those who committed the atrocities to be safe....

I do wonder about this sort of propaganda. It can't actually be intended to persuade anybody who has a mind. I suppose that it must be, like Leni Riefenstahl's films, something to persuade those who follow the party line, but can't help having strong moral qualms, that the end justifies the means. Atrocities, massacres, assassinations and invasions are all fine, decent things to do, as long as they are done in the name of the right Fatherland.

5 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
A nasty piece of propaganda, 14 July 2011

It was interesting to watch this very nasty propaganda film. It is a tiny comfort to see that the methods of distortion, false argument, emotional manipulation and direct lying haven't changed much since Leni Riefenstahl. The film does work hard, though, to exploit all the techniques of deceit quite unashamedly - there are some clever and skilled liars at work.

Sadly, somebody naive to propaganda methods and ignorant of philosophy and evolution might find some of it convincing. It's a wicked waste of money - it's only use would be as an exercise for students of propaganda films.

I had to watch the entire lie-fest just to see if it contained a single genuine argument. Cleverly they did actually, late in the film, allow Richard Dawkins to point out what was wrong with their position, but they glossed over and perverted it very quickly.

Terry Pratchett pointed out the flaw quite nicely when he wrote of a world balanced on a turtle - which, in order not to fall, stands on another turtle, and so on - turtles all the way down. If you want to argue that life was designed, then you only move the question to who, or what, designed the designer - a silly and pointless exercise that adds nothing but sophistry to the argument.

I suppose it's, in a way, impressive that they managed to spend a whole two hours pretending that they believed in evidence without actually producing a single, tiny, piece of it in support of their foolishness.

Yes, anybody stupid enough to think that there is anything rational in the 'argument' for intelligent design should be fired from a teaching or research position for incompetence.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Excellent, but what a pity about the poor actor as the Frenchman, 16 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is very funny. The main problem is that they couldn't find a decent actor for the Frenchman and had to put up with a mediocre performance from John Malkovich. You'd have thought that they could, at least, have found a voice coach to help him with the French accent even if his acting couldn't be helped.

Austin Powers is a better James Bond spoof, without a doubt, but, nevertheless, this is very entertaining.

The 'just look busy' line is one of the best that could be chosen for an Archishoprical tattoo, and the Mr Bean style incompetence is done as well as ever.

The end suggests a sequel, but I'm not aware of one having been made. Why not? If he teamed up with Austin Powers it could breath new life into both bond alternatives.

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