13 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Welcome to the manipulation ride of your life! (spoilers)
23 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The film is, to any standards, incredibly well made technically and superbly acted by all actors (which explains the one point I gave it). But, what on earth was the rest of it?! It is one of the most unabashedly manipulative and exploitative films I've seen in a long time, and that includes American ones. This police story is trying desperately to reach a higher level of intensity and emotion by the cheapest of the cheapest means possible; the exclusive of the medieval-style fear our modern 'big bad wolf', 'boogie man', or 'witch'. Understand: 'the pedophile'. Yes, that unknown sadist gazing (upside down and from a roof...: we are never really explained how this is possible) who prey on, then attack defenseless small children . (they tried in the film to make it a pedophile 'ring' but that failed). Then to take us on this manipulation ride, we are force-fed child mutilations, real- time raped child post-mortems, pornographic child rape photos, etc. ad nausea. This film reminds of those drivers who stop their cars to look at mangled bodies in a car wreck... The list of crassness' are in-exhaustive: the lone policemen with a deeply personal motive solving the case all by himself (with bare hands in the end), cryptic symbols 'inadvertently' left by baddies, car number plates visible on found videos, a fully detailed and beautifully designed scrap-book created by the criminal (who is completely insane and unable to even keep his hands together), we even have …maps, yes maps that lead the goodie to the hidden treasure cove of evidence! Since I'm here to save you from having to see this piece of idiocy, one more crassness: the Big Bad Wolf, on his way to (indirectly) rape a small boy, takes a lift… and comes a tiny 6 year old, alone. And we are supposed to feel 'fear'? All we feel is the stupidity of it: so now little 6 year old's take the lift down to the cellars ...alone? The only missing crassness was …there was not catholic priest involved in this inexistent 'pedophile ring'. Where was he in this film? They must have cut his scenes out. The film takes the audience manipulation so far as to force us to believe the swimming teacher (gazing longingly at little boys bodies underwater) is a pedophile, then told he ...isn't one at all. Shameful cheap tricks, truly.

Some absurd moments? One minute the child victim at the end is screaming his head off as his father anal rapes him, then next second he is completely flaccid and lets himself taken quietly by B.B.W, without a sound, or a single movement. He is put down whilst B.B.W tries to kill the cop (with spit), and…just stays there! Literally waits for BBW to come back and take him away to ...(well, we don't really know to where, just somewhere). What?! The film gets so carried away by its blatant attempt to force-shock us, we are made to believe the child's fathers themselves were made to rape their sons... You mean to say that, half dead with fear, hunger and thirst, they manage to get an erection over their tiny son, penetrate them anally and get an orgasm enough to fill their cavities with their semen (and thus lead us to a false suspect again)?! What, what, what?!!! What are you on about?! What kind of sick joke is this grotesque film trying to sell? What kind of idiots does it take its viewers for? The entire film is carried by a detective-man who clearly belongs in an insane asylum, not as the head detective in charge of child crimes.

We have not changed one bit since the witch hunts, people still exploit these themes and make money from it...

Rather than exploit human fear and stupidity, why not, for once, make a film about the truly scary thing about this modern world? The real horror, the most atrocious suffering ever in our modern times. A film about the 95% of all crimes against kids, the highest number of killings, rapes, tortures, mental tortures, and abuses of all kinds, carried out by ...their own parents? Oh but no, that interests no one, not medieval enough. And whilst we keep these figures and truths silent, we pat these exploitive filmmakers on the back with gold-leafed awards, and talk how great and useful these films are that 'break the silence'. Go on, take the ride. You know you want to.
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The Horse Boy (2009)
Compelled to respond to a reviewer above
14 August 2013
it's slightly odd that i even feel the need to write this... it's about Mr 'rick James' review above.

I have nothing to do with anything or anyone in the film, or even autism. I guess I enjoyed the film, especially the Mongolian landscapes. What, on the other hand, struck me as I read that review was how simply deranged he sounded. Having serious personal issues is one thing, but not taming them and then going so far as to write such a pretentious review, wreaking of self-importance and instability like this one, is another thing. I guess I write this as I sometimes tire of fully grown 'normal' people, so clearly suffering from issues they choose to ignore, and who confuse their need to expiate personal venom with a 'review'. It sounds grotesque, and helps no one to understand anything about the film - more about the author's instabilities. In passing, I congratulate the filmmakers on a well made and touching near-zero budget film. We'd be so much poorer if we didn't have such people making these films.
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The Presence (2010)
High hopes came crumbling down, audience manipulation alert.
20 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I went into this film innocently, I came out finding it ...stupid, grotesque. I found it interesting, daring. That lack of dialog (not forced but due to solitude of characters), that ambitious music which pretty much works (almost fully fledged 'old- style' organic symphonic orchestration), the beautiful photography, some eery feeling that went beyond what I expected of this film, and given its very low votes. I was, I could even say, 'into' the film. Which is not bad at all considering I am a difficult film spectator, not least because I have directed 5 features. But then... . The whole things came tumbling down with one stupid, stupid stroke of narrative stupidity: once again, ONCE AGAIN, just at the crux of when we are to understand the curious, if not downright ...stupid behaviour from the protagonist, just when things are starting to have to start making sense, we are thrown into the most trite, basic narrative trick, the most North-American over-used audience manipulation, the simplest way out, the easiest way to trap people's attention and trick them into 'empathy' for the lead character, yes, you guessed it... we discover the lead was raped by her father as a child. Yawn, yawn, triple yawn. What a waste, what artistic dishonesty to fall prey to such easy crass tricks. When, when will American films learned to go beyond that plain manipulation? When will they realize that for one 100% of people have not been raped in childhood, and that it just doesn't work anymore to use an over-used socially fashionable (for the last 20 years) cheap artifice. As a film teacher, I would say 'oh, for God's sake! What do you think you are doing? Do you take all viewers for imbeciles? Go back and re-write the story, work on it like you were paid to do so, and stop taking the easy way out of a narrative dullness'. Film director's should NOT have to be lectured to, they are supposed to be professionals.
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Michael (II) (2011)
Review from another filmmaker
6 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Having just seen the film 'Michael', what so say? For one, it is clear one has to try and see it from a purely objective point of view, and try to forget that this film reinstates stupid medieval superstitions about human child- eating monsters, and calls upon our most basic instincts: the instincts created by media that has us believe that dark lonely beings are the most immediate threat to our children - and not the parents that regularly kill about 300 times as much as any external criminals, or indeed simple cash crashes, that kill about 500 times as many per year. Watching this film felt like being taken for as exploitative ride about the death of children in car crashes. It was like watching a films about how smelly black people are, shown to a Mississippi white audience in the 1930's, or showing a film about the evil of Jews to a group of neo-Nazis. Superficial, false, and totally stereotypical. However, forgetting about this aspects, and being objective, what was the film like? It is well made, has artistic homogeneity, and has consistent mood creation. It also has good acting. Otherwise, trying to be objective still, the film was stupid, pointless, exploitative, highly pretentious, and predictable. (I also founds it shameful, but that is a personal idea). We are a long, long way from any masterpiece which being entered in competition in the Cannes festival supposes. (A quick look shows up that the director is a friend of Michael Heneke, the 'enfant chéri' of the Cannes film festival if there ever was one). The film is completely stupid... though I'm not sure I can explain that one so clearly. Like a stupid person, it goes nowhere, does nothing, and worst of all, thinks it is intelligent. Every human emotion in the film is another reason for censorship in this film, which consistently cuts before anything gets too explained or too 'deep', as though it were 'cool' or profound to do so. This, I imagine, for the director, would be called 'style', in actual fact it is just plain stupid. It is utterly pointless, because despite its desperate attempt to seem 'deep' about something, it says nothing at all or about individuals, about society, or anything else for that matter, other than the closed mind of an unlikely psychopath who tortures children and kills cats. And it doesn't even make the effort to try and explain the psychopath! Some watching the film may feel there is something going on beyond their understanding. There isn't. It is little more than an ego trip taken by the director down an emotionally exploitative route, having not found a better way to grasp people's attention than usual the most crass and cheap means: a perverted pedophile mentally and physically torturing his defenseless child victim over 90 minutes. It doesn't matter how much you cover the cheap and easy theme with pseudo 'style', it remains as exploitative of our basic instincts as making a film about 20 different ways of slowly ripping the wings off a butterfly. The pretentiousness, is, above every else, not to be believed. It can only be understood maybe by the fact this is the director's first film. It is a cold and distant style we have seen from German cinema for decades now, and much better done than him. No it is not 'cool' anymore to take such emotional distance from everything, it is stupid, and a waste of a film. The experiment is over, try something new. Maybe I watch too many films but from the very start I heard myself saying 'please don't let him use the grotesque image of him spending a lonely sad Christmas with the boy'. And ...he did! No, worse, he had then singing carols! Please don't let this become a 'vengeance' story, and it did! (it was simply a basic story of how the boy took revenge on the evil man in the end). Well, that and about 10 other predictable events. From about half way through I knew he would finish the film JUST as his crimes are discovered, and leave us dangling. I just didn't know if he would be alive at that time, or if he died in a car crash. That ending the director might call 'mysterious', or something deep the audience should think about for weeks after seeing the film, when in actual fact it is simply ...stupid. But this film fits in well into such festivals. It is well made. That is enough to put any friends of yours in the biggest festival in the world. There are PLENTY, I mean plenty of much worse films than this one that take an incomprehensible precedence over others. That's how fickle the market is.
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Incomprehensibly poor narrative drivel.
24 March 2011
I write this short review with the hope the director of this film reads these reviews, and to ask her to answer one question: After winning the Oscar for best foreign film, did you phone to apologize to the other film directors in competition?

Your film is a sham, a con. It is shameful.

The acting is superb, and the photography was also, for the first 15 shots (then repeated ad nauseum). I won't go into the details, suffice to say this is the most shamefully artistically dishonest film I have seen in years. The narrative shortcuts used are not to be believed. A 15 year old film student would have more honesty than this. How much can a script depend on the desperate needs of a clueless scriptwriter and so little to do with reality, and human nature. How much can one force events to fill in a moral need for the filmmaker, and so little to do with credibility, truth.

Perhaps later I will go into details, but I am too appalled that this film conned the simple-minded side of the Oscar committee enough for them to vote this film.

Please DO apologize to the other films: all but yours were actually all good.
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Surveillance (I) (2008)
More sickness of mind, ineptitude, and drivel from the USA
12 December 2010
I went to see it because of the name behind it (Lynch). That's my own stupid fault. Or is it? Or was I victim of a system to puts forward these idiotic, senseless films and cheat to sell it off as art? I can't say much: it was so bad I walked out halfway through. Just can only offer a word of warning to those who might be drawn to the name as I was: it is pointless, unintelligent, drivel, from start to finish. And, by God, we are getting so, so sick of those Americans throwing us their deep sickness of mind to other countries. So sick of their violence, they pointless, insane violence. So sick of their scripts relying upon that, and only upon that. Film schools in the States should include a psychiatry department, so they can rid themselves of that sickness before claiming to create art through film. Everyone would be much better off. And the world out there wouldn't be so infected by their disease they export so shamelessly.
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Perversion is in the Eye of the Beholder
25 June 2010
It is said (and I have noted to be true) that people see in other people, in works of Art etc. or anything subjective, what THEY actually are. They project their own being, or shortcomings or fears or hidden secrets. That the author of the review below attack this sensitive film is such a disproportionately virulent (and plainly erroneous) way has said much more about him as a person than he probably intended to express. And to call a 17 year-old a 'child' (and who is in his full legal right to consent to any relationship he wishes to pursue, protected by the law itself) is so absurd as to suggest the author had a North American education. To see rape, to see perverted seduction in what is most obviously all but that, would be an alarm calm for anyone reading his review on this subtle film. What is sure is that with such a serious imbalance within him to feel the need to explode in this way, I would make sure no one below 18 walk near him. We have many recent examples of those who shouted far above the rest, and ended up being caught with their pants down, and I don't mean figuratively. His review reads like an open book of serious personal issues, as yet unresolved, and if his review serves any purpose it would be to help him seek assistance. More to do with the film now; it is of course slow and bleak like many European films, but like many European films dare to recount real life, real subtleties, real complexities of relationships that much cinema avoids - and that many like the author mentioned above would like to push so deep into (their subconscious) perversion as to ...create a perversion in itself, quite aside from the what the filmmaker made. It somehow makes them feel they have crushed their demon for a while - little to do with a review.
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An Education (2009)
All (pseudo) seduction and no content
27 February 2010
It is simply beyond me how this film is seen as anything more than light moralistic drivel. I see about 400 films a year, and this was one of the 5 worst. Awful acting from the father, totally unbelievable and silly-easy plot, the sort of script that make film students wonder why they need to bother to study. It is moralizing nonsense from a woman who obviously fell too easily, got her feathers burnt, then spent the rest of her life avenging herself, and blaming him for being a cad. There are plenty of age-gap relationships that have lasted lifetimes, and even more same-age relationships that fail dreadfully, with abuses all around. It feels the film was made to score social points in a puritanical Britain. No depth of any kind, just that one lovely fake-teen, and a story that no doubt titillates older men to score it over a 5. Don't fall for the publicity-made hype. It is a TV movie at the most.
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Agora (2009)
A really very dull review of the film
9 October 2009
Too tired to write decently. Saw the premiere here in Spain. Good film. Not bad, not great. Totally crap compared to his other more intimate films. No idea why so many see Rachel's role as good. It was contrived, and we never believe she could have been a 'brilliant astronomer'. Music was a COMPLETE disappointment from a genius composer. Photography outstanding. Story gets lost in too many sub-stories. Too vague. Love the ambiance of the 4th century, though far too clean. We see 'hundreds of thousands' of people, yet...not a single child at all. We all know kids in film double its budget (the poor little protégés have to be sooo carefully looked after, they are soooo delicate), but still. it's a glaring falsity. Been to Cairo, seen the trillions of kids everywhere? Well, it was worse then. Mmmmm what else? How yeah, a personal note to Alejandro: OK dude, you got your big lump of cash, now come back. Indie film needs you, and we DON'T need another Hollywood megalomaniac effort. I'll buy you a beer.
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Tres días (2008)
Pathetic movie: the best Spanish movie of the year.
2 August 2009
Great photography. Good acting (within the Films very limited range), including that of the kids. It's the best Spanish film I've seen in 2 years. The film is pathetic. In a deserted village 72h before the end of the World, there's fire, a 4 year-old girl plays with a broken and dirty doll…? Wow, we're already in absurd cliché land. But then comes… a man's hand, offering her… a candy. Yes, a candy, can you believe it! Because we are supposed to understand that a few hours before the world ends perverts roam deserted villages in search of 4 year-old girls. Oh dear. Who on earth are those responsible for such Hollywood-influenced narrative stupidities in Spanish films? Maybe the director lives too long in the States; maybe he was seeking to fulfil the necessary dose of superficiality and gratuitous sensationalism in order to secure USA distribution. Is it a thriller? An apocalypse movie? A romance? A horror movie? A child abuser story? It's trying to cover as much territory as possible and manages nothing. Unmotivated and repeated cruelty towards children, child killings (by hanging), child rape, …my God, there is serious narrative prostitution to the service of the easy manipulation of audiences 'fears'. It is inexcusable. Shameless in fact. It seems they complained in the Spanish press that no one went to see the film in Spain, and they had the gall to claim the film was not at all a copycat version of American models. Oh please. This is omitting to detail the enormous gaps in the script, in-credibility (a girl playing the flute under the andalucian summer heat at midday?!), ridiculous coincidences, completely illogical moments (they still have lights after the apocalypse has smashed onto earth?), but all so useful when one wants to avoid having to work over a script. False synthetic music (but OK effects), clichés ad-vomitum, I tried to hold on till the end but... When in the final scenes the unknown 'pretty woman' shows up out of nowhere and for no reason, I just turned the thing off. There is a limit of ridicule that medium intelligent people can bare in one session. There should have been a new edit made of the film, in which 93 minutes was removed.
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Australia (2008)
A complete con of a film, a national embarrassment
10 January 2009
I'm sorry, I'm going to say it: those people who have found anything remotely good about this film, a single saving feature, they are either Baz Luhrman's friend, worked on the set, or lobotomized.

It is simply one of the worst film's of this decade. It is a scandal, a sham, a complete con. Had the film been made by a lesser name it wouldn't matter so much, but after Romeo+Juliet, and Moulin Rouge, this is simply shameful.

Narratively is it all over the place, no sense of emotional rhythm at all, it a roller-coaster ride whose only result is nausea. It has as much originality in the script as 'Independence Day', and as many plot-holes as a cartoon comedy. 'Suspended disbelief' is an unknown concept here. Its music is a showcase of plagiarism (Arvo Part, English Hymns, Elgar etc.), when it is not grotesquely mis-matched or uses re-heated pieces of safe classics (ending with the Nimrod? Baz, have you gone completely ga-ga?!). I'm sure no one could disagree this is the worst Kidman has ever performed. Characters are not even two dimensional, they are stereotyped, shallow, souless, flat as cardboard. Use of aerial photography is used no doubt in an attempt to convey some form of 'grandeur' but succeeds only in aggravating an otherwise contrived set of failed picture postcards - when they are not blatantly flawed Never-Ending-Story level computer generated images. Baz has beaten the Americans at their own Hollywood cliché game, and the result is a badly kept promise by the director. Shame on him, shame on this sham. 150 million$ to produce such despicable drivle?! He should never be entrusted to make another film again. Australia the film, if it is not already, is a national embarrassment, with its over-kill socially correct and exploitative issues, and unrelenting absurd stereotypes it is not only doing harm to the country, but to cinema as a whole.
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4000 euros (2008)
What should we expect of an indie film?
11 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I support indie films, especially REAL indie films, like this one. But...should one 'give the benefit of the doubt' because a film is indie? 'Forgive certain weaknesses' due to its lack of funding? No, we can't. The film is thrown out there with the 'bigs' and no one (except actors and filmmakers) care HOW it was made: they only care whether the film works or not. Money has NEVER been necessary for this. Talent always has.

What should we expect of an indie film? Do we NEED poor lighting? Do we need, necessarily, a complete lack of aesthetic values? ...Of course not. Nothing stops a filmmaker making sure actors are not in a poor shadowed, back-lit light (sister and brother's walk in the park). Todays' cameras are able to catch the beauty of any light, even if one is Dogma-faithful. I don't remember that Dogma's dogma mentions 'though shalt make absolutely sure not a single picture is beautiful'. It's as though indie filmmakers feel they MUST avoid beauty at all costs (I refer, of course, even to 'rugged' beauty).

Do we expect the indie film story to be flawed? No. All it needs is to submit the film to a generous pro story writer. How are we supposed to feel empathy for the lead girl when she sees her so-called English teacher 'boyfriend' eating another females mouth, when there wasn't the shadow of an idea anywhere that they might have been together in any way. And she was way too level headed for a besotted 13 year-old type crush.

Does one expect fake blood to look ...completely fake in an indie film? No. Everyone filmmaker has a good recipe for fake blood, there was no need at all for that immense flaw. (blood is present 50% of the film).

Does one expect excruciatingly slow story development, insanely long walks from one building to the other, inane gazings-out-of-windows? No. Just show the film to a group of youngsters and they'll put you straight very soon! It feels as though the directors lack of scissors was very much present.

On the other hand. What we DO expect is poor acting. It wasn't the case. Not at all. It was both natural, and even very moving at time, if not funny, in the right places. Do we expect a star performance from the lead? No. But we get it here. Mark my words, this lead girl actress will move fast: she is wonderful, generous, sprightly, and tone-perfect nearly all the way through.

We also rarely expect to be moved by a hyper-indie film: I mean emotionally so, and not just pitifully so. But a couple of scenes in this film are exquisite, like the lead actress' call to her 'boyfriend' at the start of the film, or the rich uncles refusal of a loan: classic scenes, not at an indie level, at any level.

To conclude, a couple of personal taste points: we cant complain of the music: there is none. It's obviously a Dogma inspire decision, but a wrong one. Being a 'Dogma' film has never been a visiting card to anywhere (except Seville maybe). This film truly needed some musical foundation for the lengthy passages mentioned above. And...not specifically a criticism of this film but of SO MANY recent films... CAN YOU PLEASE STOP THIS ABSURD ZOOM-IN/ZOOM-OUT, Winterbottom, Greengrass-style hand-held camera movement!! It Doesn't look more 'real' and only creates severe seasickness and annoyance in the theater. Hand-held camera is just that, NOT specifically moving it on purpose to achieve 'realism'. Rapid zoom-in/zoom-out was an experiment, and a failed one, as so many reviews repeat over and over again regarding the two afore mentioned directors.

I'm a teacher, and this is the sort of work on which I would write 'real potential, poor presentation. Please try again. You are in university now, not high school'.
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Martian Child (2007)
To SHAME, you writers. TO SHAME.
19 March 2008
One of the two screenwriters mentioned above must be the writer of the book(alias David Gerrold) by the same name. What a shameful, shameful bit of artistic/moral prostitution the author has therefore indulged in...: the book related of the same story, yet one of the most important factors, and what makes it distinctly 'modern' is the fact that the single father, is a single GAY father. This is one of the reasons he is left with the sort of emotionally 'incurable' children like Dennis. This is why they are able to 'bond' - both being outcasts. The message of the book is a of course a positive one, not least (if not most importantly BECAUSE a gay man has been able to overcome all the hurdles, and become a good father). ......and appallingly...the writer is prepared to SELL HIMSELF, sell the moral foundation of his book, and sacrifice an otherwise progressive concept, and accept a book where the father is changed into a grieving heterosexual ....just for the money. Dear writer, you have let down a community that might have, otherwise benefited from this message a great deal. You could have advanced an otherwise delicate message. Instead, by selling yourself to Hollywood, you have simply confirmed that gays could not possibly make good fathers/mothers, and that it is wholly socially unacceptable. Your truly appalling person you are. Do not ever represent a gay person ever again. Take your money, and hide from now on. ..or once again give yourself another pseudoyme to try and cover up this profound dishonesty.

btw. I feel somewhat justified to say this that I am not myself nor a single father, nor gay.
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