3 Reviews
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Hungover Viewer
17 April 2007
A deserved adaptation of one of literatures great 'lost' novels this is not. Whilst the performance of Laird Cregar as George Bone was good, the rest of the film was an entire mess. There was no characterisation, the acting was appalling, the plot was rushed and the conclusion lacked any urgency or tension. From the very start of the film it is clear this film is a dumbed down exercise for cheap thrills, though the thrills are absent, The device of using 'Hangover Square' as an actual road name is ridiculous, it is supposed to be a metaphor! Yet the whole concept of social drinking and alcoholism are absent, rendering the title completely redundant.The cast consists mainly of Americans without any attempt of an English accent, despite the film being set in London. Whilst the Guy Fawkes scene provided the only highlight of the film (a truly disturbing scene which must have brought the house down at the time), this was a rushed, watered down travesty of a thriller. The device of using loud sounds to trigger off murderous urges stank of avoiding the core of the novel, George's schizophrenia. Though it would seem pointless to make comparisons between the novel and the film because there are so few. This is why the film fails. It takes several random aspects of the novel to turn it into a trashy crime thriller. The problem with this is that there is no tension in George's murderous rampages, nor do we like (or even know) the victims. The presence of George Sanders dilutes this tension even further with Sanders playing his usual relaxed, dismissive character-type. This was a huge disappointment to me but it seems obvious why this film has remained dormant since it's original theatrical release. There just is not enough time in 77 minutes to achieve an effective story of this nature. For the love of god, read the book instead! This remains one of the most tragic pieces of modern English literature, whilst expanding on the anguish and suffering of the characters that are barely hinted at in this cheap cash-in of a film.
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Manderlay (2005)
Death To The Trilogy
20 March 2006
After being blown away by the cinematic masterpiece that was "Dogville", I eagerly anticipated the follow up. The anticipation however was thwarted. Firstly Nicole Kidman and James Caan did not reprise their roles. I am not sure as to the reasons why, maybe they had busy schedules, maybe they were too scared to commit to another Lars picture? There was also no media buzz around "Manderlay" which was disconcerting as it seemed that nobody thought it worth a mention (despite being nominated at Cannes). Secondly, it's arrival in the UK came with a whimper. In it's first week it only showed at no more than four cinemas in London. By it's second week, only one. I also have not heard about screenings outside the city. However I managed to find a screening and was about to enjoy what everybody else seemed to be missing out on. This was not to be. Firstly Bryce Dallas Howard can not act. She played Grace as an ignorant, arrogant and self-righteous spoilt brat. Now these were the criticisms of her character in "Dogville", yet Nicole Kidman made her into a sympathetic American heroine. Bryce was not this. To add insult to injury, the script was so corny and over-sentimental it seemed just as well that Nicole didn't have to speak such crap. The use of actors from "Dogville" (Jeremy Davies, Chloë Sevigny and Lauren Bacall) in different roles was an excellent idea, however they just weren't used enough. It felt like they had just been borrowed from their break during the filming of "Dogville". The whole film feels like it was filmed alongside "Dogville". The spark, the effort and the originality is lacking from "Manderlay". It's a terrible shame as this film has all the makings of a great story. The performances from the slaves are outstanding considering their acting backgrounds (Blossom from "Eastenders", Aunty Pearl from "Family Affairs" and Llewella Gideon from "The Real McCoy") as they manage to hold their own alongside Danny Glover. however the film focused on Grace's plight and not theirs. That was the central mistake of the film. For by the time the film ends, what should have been shocking and heartbreaking (and even offensive) becomes about Grace's own plight. The film ends with a nasty taste in the mouth but not as bitter as the one in "Dogville". What should have affected me deeply left me scrambling for the exit in time to catch the last train home. It is therefore no surprise that the final part of the trilogy "Wasington" was announced as on hold as of 10 February 2006. Whether this will remain so is uncertain as it seems Lars' great idea has extinguished. In my opinion, start something new. "Dogville" was a masterpiece, that is enough.
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work in progress
9 April 2005
Despite being widely publicised as a return to form, I felt that the film was almost unrecognisable from any of Allen's previous work. This does not mean it is a bad thing, but here it is. My main problem with the film is that the alternate stories are supposed to be approached, one from a tragic angle, the other comic. However neither were particularly tragic nor comical. They both felt like the same film only with a different cast and slightly altered storyline. Chloe Sevigny looked uncomfortable throughout the entire film, whilst the dinner party sequences just made the four conversationalists look smug, pretentious and arrogant. It just looked incredibly uncomfortable and staged. I felt let down with this film as the project had so much potential and originality. I think it's a terrible shame because the performances from Radha Mitchell and Will Ferrell are exceptionally enjoyable. The film just felt unfinished and hurried.
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