Reviews written by registered user
freelancethinkers

3 reviews in total 
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257 out of 479 people found the following review useful:
Major players deconstructing the film-making paradigm, 2 December 2009
5/10

I suppose the first thing that needs to be said is that I'm not Jewish and, as such, a lot of what was obviously a deeply personal movie went over my head, and I was left feeling like an outsider, almost a voyeur.

However, perhaps as a result of this I'm able to view the film more objectively. Visually, it is beautiful. There are so many perfectly framed scenes that even when the story seems to drag it keeps you captivated.

Having said that, for me, it did drag. The central figure was a neurotic, cerebral, awkward, middle aged Jewish man. Not entirely a cinematic first. Add to this the fact that he was possibly the most passive character in cinematic history - he literally made no decisions in the entire movie until the final scene. Instead he was drawn from one catastrophe to another, on the basis that he was a good, upstanding man surrounded by stronger people.

Normally in this situation we would see the character challenged and grow, but this is the Coen brothers, so it's not going to be that simple. Instead,,we are left to squirm at the relentless nature of the man's incessant failings - a frustrating experience, particularly if you're not privy to the Jewish humour that pervades this intimate film.

It seemed to me almost as if the Coen Brothers were seeing how far they can stretch their high profile. With No Country For Old Men they robbed us of the pivotal, climactic scene and I for one left feeling cheated. Here they simply don't introduce it at all. They break every story paradigm there is, as if to suggest that they are now so great they can present a piece that has no development, no conclusion, a prologue that seems to have no relevance to the main body of the work, and no redemptive quality to extract from any of the characters. A bit like real life I suppose. But who wants to see that on a forty foot screen?

I need to lay down.

Nativity! (2009)
15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Warm and cuddly, if very predictable, Brit flick, 29 November 2009
7/10

Nativity centres around a 30/40something primary school teacher who, being a loser in love, has allowed himself to become bitter and resentful towards his pupils.

Needless to say he needs to win back the love of his life and re-find his love for his job, and people in general.

It comfortably falls back on the rich British heritage for nicey nice romcoms and does a fair job. Not one aspect of any of the characters came as any surprise or helped to enrich a two dimensional plot - but who cares, its a Christmas heartwarmer and it does its job well.

Marc Wootton, in particular, was excellent as Mr Poppy and both his visual performance and his well drawn out character were responsible for the majority for the laughs - the remainder falling on the narrow shoulders of a funny looking kid, well cast for his comedic value, but possessed of a face that I was sick of seeing after 90 minutes of obvious set ups, but then that's probably because I'm as misanthropic as the lead character!

I took my seven year old daughter, and she absolutely loved it. If you're not a parent and hate children, this is definitely not for you. If, on the other hand, you love Christmas and still have a tender, warm spot in your heart then you could do a lot worse than to go and see this.

39 out of 82 people found the following review useful:
A visually beautiful mess of a tale, 25 October 2009
3/10

It breaks my heart to have to give a Gilliam film 3 out of ten, but here it is.

I adore the man, and would spawn his children if it were physiologically possible ( and we got on) but I can't defend the complete lack of cohesion and narrative structure in this movie.

Some of the effects are spellbinding, so it's safe to assume that a fair few million has been ploughed into it. Why wasn't some of this diverted into developing the script?

The acting was also terrible, but then you can't make a Prada handbag from a sackcloth. Or something. Even Heath Ledger, God rest his soul, couldn't rescue a script this bad, and it's lamentable that this is his last feature.

The vast majority of the film passes without the introduction of a storyline, and when it does it is almost as an apology. It felt to me like I was watching footage from the cutting room floor, from disc 2 of the DVD, and that somewhere out there is a really good movie from the stuff that actually made it!