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Suspiria (1977)
3/10
Wooden acting, weak plot = masterpiece?
31 December 2007
I searched out this movie after seeing it included several "best of" lists on the internet. Maybe it was my high expectations but I found myself disappointed with this film. While there are several genuine eerie scenes, the whole film as a whole didn't work for me. It concerns a young American ballet student, who enrols in an exclusive ballet school, only to discover sinister goings on involving witchcraft. There's not a whole lot to the story beyond this. I didn't find myself gripped to know what was happening next as the film rattled along its wooden acting tracks. The acting for me was the biggest drawback. The delivery tends to be dull, even from the American actors. There is some interesting use of colour, but for this viewer I can only express disappointment on this movie. At around 80 minutes it is mercifully short so it may be worth seeking out if only to see what all the carry on is about.
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The Queen (2006)
9/10
The Monarch and the Moderniser.
5 January 2007
A well acted , well scripted gem. Mirren as her maj. and Sheen as PM Blair are both excellent. The contrast between the young Tony Blair and the staid monarch and how their relationship develops over the Diana crisis is interesting. While the film in no way is flattering to the royal family - by humanizing the lady, Mirren makes her a complex figure, we feel for her bewilderment and hurt as she totally misjudges the mood of the country in the week following Di's death. The mutual respect that Tony Blair and the Queen seem to develop over the crisis is also one of the pleasures of the film. Despite their very different world views one gets the feeling at the end of the film they have a regard of sorts for each other.

Its all speculation of course, we will never know exactly what transpired between these figures in those August days, but its all been gloriously imagined in this film. I found it a great reflection on the loneliness of high office and the fickleness of power. The film reminded me how impressive Tony Blair was in that amazing week. It made it kind of sad comparing this with his impending exit from politics, and the high levels of cynicism regarding his political legacy. As Mirren says to the PM in the movie "they all turn on you eventually".
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Pure (I) (2002)
5/10
Mum's on Herion.
3 November 2006
This film examines the pain of drug addiction through the eyes of youth. Molly Parker plays the young mum who can't get off "the gear" and the film is seen through the eyes of her young son who loves his mum but hates what the drugs do to her. The film is OK but not great. The performers all do well with what the script gives them but the film seems to lack something - it almost seems the film is script by numbers. All the usual drug clichés come out - the cold turkey scene, the evil dealer (played by David Wenham) and the death by overdose of one the characters. I don't know why the travails of drug addiction seems to interest film makers repeatedly - it certainly contains enough misery and human suffering which can make for fine drama - the problem with Pure, despite its confronting subject matter, the characters seemed poorly fleshed out. To this middle class art house viewer the film contrasted poorly with other films set in a similar depressing circumstances - eg the stunning Nil by Mouth.

On the plus side, the actors all do well - David Wenham has that man ever done a dud performance?
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Grizzly Man (2005)
7/10
A Madness too much to bear.
21 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Like most of Werner Herzog's films this was worth the hire fee. The bizarre and ultimately sad story of Tim Treadwell's obsession with the bears of Alaska is interesting but I found it hard to sustain interest for 100 minutes.

Tim obviously had issues and the main interest point outside of his grizzly demise, is his mental health. The scene where Tim rants at the camera about his enemies and defeating them is amusing and sad at the same time. His self shot video footage makes him out to be a highly annoying character, and maybe in the bears he thought he'd found a world he could be accepted in. The fact that he had an attractive girlfriend whom ultimately followed him to her death, shows that there is always someone for somebody in this world , no matter how outside the mould they are. One feels however that Tim's true love were the bears - a world he longed to become part of but could only ever be an observer. Werner's comment of the bear's indifference to him in the hundreds of hours shot is telling. Tim's alleged connection with the bears I fear was one sided.

There is a lot not to like about Tim but Werner attempts to show us the humanity and good side to him as well which is a tribute to his humanity and film making. The film's most powerful but also possibly sensational moment is when Werner listens to the audiotape made of Tim's death. He is obviously horrified but his plea to Jewel (tim's best friend), to not listen to the tape and destroy it is strangely moving.

Fascinating story , but maybe could have been culled a bit down time wise.
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Mean Creek (2004)
7/10
Compelling and sad ride down Mean Creek
17 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Good little film about a group of boys ( and one girl) whose plot for revenge on a school bully goes horribly astray. A lot of the power of the film comes from the way the bully is shown to be a sad, lonely and misguided young man who wants to belong and how the plotters deal with this as it complicates their plans for revenge. His character though not sugar coated is very sad and makes what happens to him on the river even more sadder. I read reviews of the film which says the film lost its way the last third. I disagree. The struggle of these kids to come to terms with what has happened and take responsibility for their deeds was powerful for this viewer at least. Great to see a film which explores the moral consequences of actions and taking responsibility for them.
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9/10
Superb true story about an extraordinary women
3 January 2006
This was a beautiful film, Dench and Hoskins are a fabulous match in this charming story. Full of old world charm, you cant help but fall in love with Laura Hendersons (Dench) passion for life and all that that entails. Don't go and see this film for the nudity, for you will be very disappointed! As beautiful as the women (and men) are, the nudity is entirely appropriate and is not exploited in this film, which is true to the story. If you love theatrical history, see this film. If you love good music of the thirties and forties, see this film. If you love brilliant acting, see this film. If you are a Dench fan, then don't miss it!
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Young Adam (2003)
4/10
Joyless Rutting in Post-War Scotland
9 September 2005
I felt I should like this film more, fine acting, interesting settings but for me it failed to ever get out of second gear. I thought about it afterwards & a couple of things struck me as lacking. Firstly the 2 main characters played by Ewan Macgregor and Tilda Swinton failed to generate any interest either positive or negative for me - a failing of the script and direction not of these 2 fine actors. Their main way of relating via quick and unerotic couplings was for me anyway - boring ! We never really get any true insight into their motivations and feelings. Some might say, that people from that time, class, background etc may have been taciturn , quiet etc - fair enough, nevertheless it doesn't make good cinema. The only character that I thought generated interest (and sympathy) was Les (played by the excellent Peter Mullan) the cuckolded husband but he largely disappeared from the film half way through. Unfortunately for this reviewer anyway the emotional coldness of the characters proved an insurmountable barrier in actually connecting with the film on either an emotional or intellectual level.
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9/10
Confronting and Sensitive
2 September 2005
This beautiful film is possibly one of the best Australian Films in the past few years. The performances of William McInnis, Justine Clarke and Anthony Hayes are real convincing portrayal of characters trapped in a moment in time. The delicate performance of McInnis as the cancer suffering Nick, brings home the real feelings of disbelief, fear and anger that a person has when they are told for the first time that they have the "C" word. The blend of film and animation is done brilliantly. The tragedy for writer / director Sarah Watt has come with her own diagnosis after the film wrapped - the Australian Film going audiences such as myself wishes her a speedy recovery so she can continue to provide us with powerful pieces of cinema such as "Look Both Ways".
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Middle Class manners disappear under strain
17 July 2004
Coming in at 83 minutes I can recommend this a decent investment in time. It is a standard thriller with some nods towards sexual, family and class politics and the story though never rising to great levels nevertheless holds the interest as two women become involved in an increasingly bitter struggle following the theft of one's dress from a clothesline by the other. Coming from a middle class Australian background it is interesting to see middle class Australia as the canvas this story is told on. Though not a great film, it nevertheless hits the modest mark it aims for- certainly I enjoyed it more than the average big budget overblown levithian that is usually thrown at the screen these days.
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Come and See (1985)
charnel house in occupied Belarussia
8 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie many years ago and scenes still remain imprinted on my mind. Though it was still made in the USSR, in was made when the winds of glasnost were starting to well and truly blow. The movie whilst still sticking to the maxim that the Soviets were the good guys, nevertheless portrays the casual brutality of partisan warfare in a realistic unromantic way.

The SS "action" in the Belarussian village is one of the most disturbing depictions of the second world war ever directed outside of the real footage of these things. The SS troops are on a anti-partisan operation and enter the Belarussian village. The next 10-15 minutes remained in my memory for many years after. Though the suffering of the occupied peoples under Nazi's was often used for pro-Soviet propaganda in art and film, even if it was the case in this film, the sheer horror of these scenes transcends the political.

2 scenes are particularly powerful in this section of the film:

The scene were the SS officer lunches in a village hut, in front of a cowering peasant family, desperate to placate the soldiers, is quite terrifying and suspenseful and all the more effective for the violence that does eventually occur.

Secondly, at the end of the slaughter,the Nazi soldiers are seen laughing carry out on a bed an old bedridden blind babushka lady from a burning farmhouse. They make some horrible joke about saving her to be a breeder, and as the village burns behind her she is observed blindly staring into the smoke filled sky full of incomphrehensible terror.

From memory the movie does lapse into propaganda abit heavily at the end. Nevertheless at the end of the film the credits list the number of Belarussian villages destroyed (buildings and people)....I cant remember the exact number but it was hundreds and it is quite a sobering figure....regardless of the Soviet spin the film is valuable in shining a light into a dark corner of mans inhumanity to fellow man.
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Wonderland (2003)
Coked up murder mayhem in the Hollywood Hills
4 February 2004
Came to this film with low expectations - I thought the John Holmes thing had been well and truly done to death by Boogie Nights, but to its credit the film takes on a different tack. It examines how a particularly brutal and squalid drug murder went down. History and cinema would have forgotten it before the blood was dry if not for the involvement of the porn star.

The movie's narrative is tight and the performances excellent. Kilmer is quite a chameleon. He hits the right note of sleaze for JH, a thoroughly unlikeable character but more weak than evil and partly buffeted by the circumstances of the lifestyle he inhabits. Also excellent are the cast of villains. The chief wonderland heavy Ron played by Josh Lucas is particularly incendiary, made even more so by a very seventies Jesus beard which seems to accentuate his coked up menace.

The murders though not explicitly shown are nevertheless quite brutal. The suggestion and quick images shown I found very disturbing. Though I imagine the directors didn't have this in mind - they have made an very effective anti-drugs film
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Unexpected Victory for Victor Vargas
31 October 2003
In spite of what you have heard Victor Vargas is not a masterpiece or even a particularly strong piece of film making. It is does however have an integrity and care for its characters that most big studio movies lack these days. The story has been done a million times before in a million different scenarios - the young man coming of age struggling with first love. In this case the backdrop is a hispanic community on New York's lower east side. Victor Vargas is the main protaganist, a young man whose brash self confidence around the ladies, is just a front- he is like so many teenagers totally clueless when it comes to the ways of love. What elevates this film above the average teen love story is the care it shows for its characters. Victor's family is sensitively and amusingly portrayed. His grandmother/guardian while used as a source of amusement throughout the film is nevertheless accorded respect and dignity as a character- part of the film's journey is how her and kids must struggle to live to together with such differing values. For a movie about teen love the ending is quite refreshing. Instead of the obligatory love scene , we see Victor mature as a young man , realising that there is a whole lot more to loving someone than mere phsyical interaction.
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Time isn't always a healer.
12 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
While not a great film there is plenty to like about this film. It concerns the relationship between a "bohemian" bookshop owner and a prostitute whom he meets when researching an article prompted by the suicide of an ex-girlfriend with whom he had lost touch many years before.

As the title alludes to, the film is in a sense about the passing of youthful idealism, so it is some extent permeated with a certain sadness. What is refreshing is the understatedness of the whole film. The relationship between the prostitute, admirably played by Judy Davis and Bryan Brown the bookshop owner has parralells to the relationship between the dead lady and Brown in the turbulent days of the sixties in their youth. Extracts from her diary which has been found by Davis who was the dead girls friend reveal that her love was largely one sided and he rejected her after several months. She was obviously a lot more infatuated with him than vice-versa and the infatuation the junkie prostitute develops with him is a parallel to this.

I really enjoyed the Bryan Brown character. Bryan Brown is a very underrated actor..seen by some unfairly as a one dimensional "ozzie" type. I think this film , is an example of how good he can be. His character is not a bad man, he never promised anything or lied to either his ex or the Judy Davis character - he may want to keep her at arms length but he wants the best for her. He has however a detachment to life that some would find admirable, some would find strange. He and his wife live in an "open" relationship, they are quite loving and seem to have a strong relationship, but she has a young lover while he quite happily seems to stay at home reading a book when shes out. It is quite interesting the junkie prostitute is quite puzzled, even surprised about this aspect of their relationship. He is fairly unshockable, not at all condemning of the prostitute and her lifestyle. Interestingly however he does not make excuses for her..he is fairly contemptuous of the whole Junkie scene, but not moral about it. My reading of the film is that this detachment and coolness is probably a symptom of a certain coldness in him. It never is spelt out, but his final scene where he is sitting all alone in a locker room after standing up the hysterical and possibly suicidal Judy Davis for a lunch date is quite effective. There seems to be a realisation of his own failings, the passing on of the ideals of youth, the disappointment of life..the "Winter of Our Dreams" of the title.

footnote...Keep an eye out for Baz Luhrmann of all people in a support role as a teenage junkie!
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Curious pastiche of morality tale and exploitation movie.
10 December 2002
I read the book many years ago and I remember it as being quite good, hence the decision to seek out the film at my local video store. The plotline basically concerns a sexually promiscuous young women whose cruising in the New York bar scene in the 1970's for sex without any other type of emotional commitment leads to her demise.The film I think can't make up its mind on the reasons for her behaviour. The film appears to be quite disapproving of the sexually permissive disco/bar scene but then seems to suggest a whole range of reasons , conservative catholic upbringing,childhood illness for her particular behaviour.As someone who was too young to enjoy the sexual revolution of the 1970's I suspect the film is abit disengenuous in its socalled critique. Much of the sleeping around then I suspect , as it is today, is enjoyed by both parties and isn't quite of the desperately and totally emotionally uninvolved as portrayed by Diane Keaton's character cruising the bar scene. The characters both hers and her various male sleeping partners/protagnists don't seem to ring true.They men are by and large all creeps. She does have one suitor whose a half way decent guy, but even he resorts to stalking her and is quite pushy with his demands for her love..Incidentally part of the reason why the film doesn't quite ring true for me, is that such a attractive, articulate and successful young women would link up with such a disfunctional losers...even if she was only after casual affairs she seems to be slumming it with this lot... However critical I might seem, the film is worth seeking out..It is an interesting time-piece.Having been shot in the same year it was set it does have that seventies feel via locations,scenes and references that give it a real time capsule attitude. Richard Gere gives a performance of incendiary menace as a petty crim lover to the Diane Keaton character. The final scene where the teacher meets her demise is creatively shot via use of strobe lighting, and I loved the title montage of the film which is strangely haunting black and white stills of the film yet to be shown over the disco soundtrack which works suprisingly well...oh one more brickbat , probably more to do again with the attitudes of the time, the gay characters are shown as hysterical disfunctionals and her final nemesis is a psycopathic kept young man of an aging queen from the disco scene - though to be fair to the film most of the characters straight or gay are kinda screwed up. In summation an interesting failure,
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Equus (1977)
Perversely fascinating and turgid adaptation
10 December 2002
In an age were basically anything goes on film, its interesting to see a film that is so disturbing and challenging in some of its ideas that was made nearly 30 years ago. The plotline is well known, a young man and his interaction with his doctor who is treating him following his commitment to a mental institution following a horrible act of mutilation committed on some horses. The core of the young man's problems his sexual, religious and compulsive obsession with horses is quite disturbing and eyebrow raising even in this jaded age where every possible mental disorder seems almost routine. Richard Burton as the doctor plays his role well enough, but is limited by the theatrical confines of the script somewhat. While the boy precipitates a mental, professional and emotional crisis in the man, part of it doesnt ring true. While Burton's disillusionment seems genuine enough,part of his crisis involves the "fact" by curing the young man and making him normal he will also be homogenising him and taking away the esctacy he reaches with his deluded nocturnal jaunts with his four legged friends/gods/lovers...while intellectually interesting enough, for this viewer it just didn't ring true - the boy's mental problems seem too weird and unhealthy to even think twice about getting rid of them...

The movie is quite graphic - it contains nudity male and female but isn't in any sense prurient and I dont believe its gratuitious. More disturbing is the blinding of the horses which is as difficult scene to watch as I can remember in the last year or so anyway...worth seeking out for the ideas and for being one of the sadly too few films that Richard Burton showed some of vast acting talent.
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Loneliness & Sexual Perversity make for disturbing bedfellows
13 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
First let me put on the record, Isabelle Huppert gives a dynamite performance which is both disturbing,and ultimately very sad. It is a hard film to watch as the subject matter is quite disturbing. It is not the Caffe Latte S&M of pretty young twentysomethings exploring their boundaries here, it delves into the true nature of sexual perversity. Her character is a middle aged loner, successful musician and teacher , but incapable of having any type of life let alone a functioning relationship.Her sex life is also one of unhealthy obsession involving frequenting sex shops, voyeurism and sexual self mutilation. It also gets revealed as the film progresses that she holds deeply disturbing sexual fantasies that involve humiliation and violence being committed upon her. When she becomes involved with a student who has become infatuated with her, and tries to achieve the emotional salvation she longs for by sharing these obsessions with the young man there is tragic results.

, Loneliness is a terrible burden to bear and part of the strength of the film is that the director, never reduces Huppert to a freak show. Her pain is apparent even though she is at many times a fairly odious (and occasionally downright psycopathic character) Hints of what has led her to this situation are given, the unhealthy co-dependant relationship she has with her mother, the perfectionism and driven nature that pervades her working life, madness in the family.In the end it doesnt really matter how it came about as it is an examination of a person in that state and how they fall apart both emotionally and mentally that is being examined here. There are many scenes which stayed in my mind long after the film ended: 2 particular scenes stood out for me:

The scene both embarassing,horrific and also incredibly sad as the young student reads with disgust a letter Huppert has written to him in front of her detailing her sadomashocistic fantasies that she harbours.We are torn between horror at the graphic nature of the degradation she fetishizes and feel sorry for the horrible and humiliating rejection she receives at the hands of the young student.

Also the gut wrenching final scene , the act of self mutilation and look of madness and despair on her face, the director has captured the despair and horror of so much of human existence.

An important film to see but dont expect to be uplifted!
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Death in Inner City Poetry Scene
5 June 2002
Let me state first of all that I liked this film. It revolves around a female PI who is investigating the disappearance of young student poet who is later found murdered. She becomes involved in an affair with the student's teacher who may or may not be involved in the murder. It flows quite well maybe abit slowly for some but to me this is the right pace. The movie is delineated into sections much like a poem and in some ways the lead (admirably played by Susie Porter) seems to float through this world of poetry readings, steamy love trysts and threatening phone calls a player yet somehow disassociated from it all.

There were however some things that annoyed me a little about the whole film and while they didnt spoil it for me they nevertheless grated on me. Susie Porters character though solidly played nevertheless did not ring true to me. She is meant to be a working class ex-cop familar with the mean streets of Western Sydney now navigating her way through this bunch of artsy intellectual types. She didnt quite ring true to me - she almost seemed part of that crowd herself - her outsider status wasnt obvious to this viewer.

I found the some of the use of nudity and sexual profanity abit try hard. What I mean by this is that it was almost abit forced.To me It looked as though it was saying look how comfortable we are in showing nudity etc,I suspect it was almost there to spice things up rather than being integral to the plot (to be fair a pretty hard line to draw on many occasions).I also found the whole characterisation of the murdered girl and her parents abit annoying. The parents are cardboard carictures of what inner city intellectuals view the suburbanites (with money) as -dull boring and clueless , & the murdered girl is portrayed as some spoilt little brat from the leafy suburbs on a parent subsidised rebellion - another cliche. I find this more than a little ironic as the subject matter of this film is likely to draw an audience (in Australia anyway) that is largely the arthouse end of the market (ie monied and educated) Anyway these points though somewhat annoying to this viewer really are only minor distractions.Overall the film is worth seeing.
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Hart's War (2002)
Courtroom drama in POW cage
3 June 2002
I actually found this movie really good at first, it visuals , story etc really seemed to be going places. It concerns a young deskbound officer who is inadvertently captured by the Germans and sent to a POW camp in the final months of the Second World War. It is here he is involved in a court martial of a black airman accused of the murder of a fellow white inmate. Unfortunately as the action procedes despite introduction of some interesting plot elements it eventually waters down as a ultimately a routine mating between a courtroom drama/escape movie lacking any emotional depth from the performances.

Having said this there are things to admire in it: The first 15 minutes are so are quite compelling. The capture of the American officer and the killing of his offsider are quite horrific. And the scenes of the chilly winter and the pows transit through it by train & march are quite evocative. I also found from an amateur historian point of view quite surprising for an Hollywood film about captured Americans that at least touches on the appalling treatment of the Russian Pows by the Nazis & the racist philosophy behind it, the Commandant berates the the American Pows for saluting 3 executed Russians saying they are saluting criminals and 'sub-humans'. Likewise the racism of the fellow inmates towards their black comrades is not sanitised. I liked some of the moral ambiguitues of the characters. The young Hart is not really a hero, though he tried he couldn't withstand the interrogation by the Wermacht and revealed information, The Bruce Willis character in spite of his Christ like sacrifice at the end of the film still didnt accord the black officers the protection or respect they deserved. I found most interesting the German commandant as a character, though it wasnt well developed.While his actions are generally brutal there are glimpses that he may not be the total party man- he listens to the bbc, drinks heavily and listens to Jazz (ie racially suspect ) music. Indeed I thought the relationship between him an Bruce Willis could have been developed more. I guess the problem is that the character is both the dedicated (and unlikeable) Nazi and the honorable (likable) military enemy officer and as such any sort of relationship based on mutual respect may seem tainted to the viewer.

For these reasons alone its worth a look. But ultimately it runs out of steam. The old patriotic/self sacrifice ending I'm sorry doesnt wash with me as a film making device. To work I've got to feel some empathy with the characters, and the characters seem too bland, indeed Bruce Willis character inspite of some interesting early ambiguities seems to end up yet another strong silent type. Not enough ummph in the story or performances to qualify as a great film and not enough in it to qualify as an action film - an interesting and worthy attempt though.
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Prepare to meet the Wicker Man.
19 May 2002
This is a great little film, which proves you dont need a bucket load of money, or star value (well A list anyway) to make a genuine classic.Part of the mystique surrounding this film is I believe it didn't exactly set the world alight when it was released (I could be wrong here.) Theres so much to like about this film I found I have revisited it several times over the years, it reeks atmosphere without any contrivance or tricks. I think this has alot to do with the plot, the Scottish island location and the pagan overtones that lie at the heart of the movie (and the celtic/folk soundtrack as well). It revolves around a devout Christian police inspector investigating the disappearance of a young girl on a remote Scottish Isle, where the inhabitants seem to have reverted to practising pre-Christian paganism.Its got afew names in it Britt Ekland as the village barmaid, Christopher Lee as the Lord of Summerisle , Ingrid Pitt (as the town librarian!) and in the main role Edward Woodward. Edward Woodward is solid in the role as the driven pious policeman looking a missing girl.The rest of the cast is adequate without shining but I dont think this matters because the main purpose of the cast of Islanders is to weave a air of mystery through which Sergeant Howie must negotiate. The much heralded plot twist at the end of the film is a genuinely great one. Its organic to the plot of the film and doesnt seem in anyway contrived. The ending is particularly haunting & eerie & has stayed in my mind since I first saw the film. A genuine cult classic that probably deserves wide viewing even outside confines of the art/cult video shelf.
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Human face of the aristocracy.
17 May 2002
I found this film quite fascinating apart from the fact that it is a well acted, structured story. Set in revolutionary France it tells the struggles of a Scottish emigre royalist and her life during the revolution and her somewhat complicated relationship with a former lover a aristocratic Duke with revolutionary sympathies. Despite being a revolutionary politician the Duke is eventually consumed too by the revolution.

The film is fascinating on several levels. The relationship between the Lady and the Duke is at some levels a doomed love story. They are interestingly former not current lovers but continue to have fond (if not strong) regard for each other despite differing political viewpoints and comprimised actions during the ups and downs of the revolution & I found it interesting watching the strains placed on this relationship by the buffeting of historical events. I think this relationship is at the core of the film. Though I did enjoy the political side of the film. It is somewhat refreshing to see a historical epic from the side of the losers (the despised aristocracy). Rohmer resists the obvious counter point in the film of the film in showing a side/viewpoint of the poor majority. Maybe he assumed that most film goers would be aware of the social/political/economic conditions that lead to the revolution. Whatever the reason I think the film is stronger for it because we see the events through the eyes of the Lady and the fear and terror of the Royalists (and moderate revolutionaries ultimately consumed by the more extreme fires of radicalism). The victims are shown as human beings and not some carictures.

Having said that I enjoyed some of the ambiguities of the film. The aristocrat the lady helps is someone she held no particular high regard for in the Royalist days, and indeed first helps him only out of a sense of duty. Even Robiespierre, the radical, is shown briefly in the film. Instead of some frothing of the mouth caricture he is shown as a focused almost reasonable type. He stops one of his underlings arresting the Lady at a revolutionary tribunal saying the revolution has more important things to worry about. I think possibly these interesting ambiguities arise from the fact the story is based on the actual experiences of the Scottish Lady who transcribed them after her eventual escape to Britain after the revolution.

Finally a commendation to the two actors (the Lady and the Duke) who I really enjoyed. The Duke was particulary good,he was the right mixture of idealist,charmer and self important but endearing pomposity and you can see why despite all his faults the Lady was still hung up on him.
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Relationship angst in Paris theatre scene
14 May 2002
I felt I should like this film more than I did. It is set in current day Paris where a theatre troupe is putting on a Italian production. The story revolves around a French actress in the troupe who is married to the director of the theatre group who is returning to Paris for the first time in years and still has unresolved feelings for an ex who resides in the city. The acting is solid if not very good, and the plot does hold interest and hangs together well. Having said this I could not help but feel the whole thing was somewhat slight and the payoff in time (it is or seemed like a very long movie) was somewhat unjustified. In some ways the characters seemed almost distant to me, they were real but I couldnt get inside their head, which in some ways is a silly criticism because life is like that and that is not necessarily a detraction for the film but I felt as though they were drifting through a series of set pieces with not all that much at stake. Having said this it is definitely worth a look and certainly should be sought if you enjoy cinema that goes beyond the pedestrian plot lines and pyrotechnics of all too many mainstream features today.
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Rosetta (1999)
Loneliness of one who longs to belong.
14 May 2002
I found this film quite effecting without ever straying into crass sentimentality. Rosetta is a young girl who is full of anger and yearning. She lives with a dysfunctional alcoholic mother in a caravan park. Little is given about her past but we can understand that due to her upbringing she has limited options available to her. Her desire to be find a job (any job) is both desperate and touching. For Rosetta the prospect of a job, even a job that many in middle class society (indeed the average art house cinema goer!) might regard as mundane and without prospects, represents to her a chance to escape the existence on the outskirts of society. Her drive however raises her above the mere status of victim, and it is a credit to the lead that she conveys so much of this, without it having to be spelt out.

One thing I did find a little disconcerting was the wobbly camera technique, don't see if you are feeling a little nauseous as I was however this is only a minor criticism. Its around 90 minutes and I think well worth the investment if you like a good character based movie.
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Early 70s London tug of love between petty crim & bobby
10 May 2002
I really can't recommend this movie, Sat through it in an early morning bout of insomnia, Set/Made in a working class district of London in the late 60s early seventies., The plot consists of the two men vying for the affections of a an attractive young lady living in a council flat. One a rather obnoxious crim type (I suspect he's meant to be a ladies man but the rather dated attitudes make him seem a sleaze) and one a copper (married as well). I think the film was trying to say something about class relations, male/female relationship etc etc, and while the acting is adequate the stodgy plot never raises it above the mediocre. Pluses are the sixties feel and location that is like a little window to a vanished world & lots of street scenes of London at this time, I think the large power station which dominates the area where the characters live is now a modern art gallery.
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