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93 reviews in total 
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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Decent Animated Version of Terry Pratchett's Masterpiece, 2 April 2004

In many ways this Discworld cartoon is perfect -- for example, who else could play Death but Christopher Lee? And the soundtrack, which charts the history of rock n' roll from Elvis, through the beatles and psychodelic rock as 'Music With Rocks In' is introduced to the Discworld, is simply brilliant.

But there are times when it just fails to capture the same atmosphere and intelligence that is present in Pratchett's writing.

Maybe someday soon a film with be made, after the success of Lord of the Rings, and particularly if the upcoming Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie is successful. And cast Christopher Lee as Death!!!

Amusing British Crime Caper, 2 April 2004

In this memorable Ealing comedy, Alec Guinness proves once again that he is the ultimate chameleon of the screen. He's perfect as the immoral, coniving Professor Marcus -- leader of a gang of robbers who set up headquarters in an old lady's house while pretending to be a brass band.

It's not quite my favourite Ealing film, but there are some great sequences here -- with the ending being quite probably my favourite thing about the whole film. Peter Sellers also appears here in an early performance.

And I await the remake, directed by the wonderful Coen brothers, with mixed feelings ...

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A Memorable and Important Thriller, 2 April 2004

This 1962 political and psychological thriller dealing with brainwashing and assassination generally tends to appear on most 'Top 100 Movies of All Time' lists. Frank Sinatra is decent as always, but it's Laurence Harvey as the brainwashed sleeper agent who is the highlight of the movie.

It features some great performances and memorable sequences, and ultimately it's an important film because of the sensitive issues that it deals with. It's always been a controversial film, banned in all of the 'Iron Curtain' countries and even taken out of circulation in America after John Kennedy's assassination -- on Sinatra's own wishes.

This is easily John Frankenheimer's best film. And as if it had somehow cursed him, when in 1968 he drove his friend Robert Kennedy to the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, the senator was assassinated there that same day.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Entertaining David Lynch Movie, 2 April 2004

This film came out around the same as Twin Peaks made David Lynch a household name. I'm not a HUGE fan of his early work, but as a general rule anything by Lynch is worth seeing at least once.

It stars the brilliant Nicolas Cage as ex-convict Sailor, who is obsessively in love with Lula (Laura Dern). The two of them set out on a road trip to escape from Lula's evil mother and her croneys, and plenty of Lynch-style weirdness ensues. To top it all off there are numerous references to 'Wizard of Oz' in the story.

It's not an easy film to watch -- lots of violence, gore and unsettling scenes as you'd expect from this director, and most of them don't really add anything to the film. Nevertheless, there's some great stuff here and I'd definitely recommend it to Lynch fans.

Platoon (1986)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The greatest film about Vietnam., 10 March 2004

This is the first in a quadrilogy of reviews I'm set to write on the four great Vietnam movies (Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, the Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now).

Even before I learned about the background to this movie, I had decided that it was my personal favourite film about Vietnam. After I learnt about how Oliver Stone actually was a soldier in the war and wrote the script based on his own experiences, I believe more adamantly than ever that this is probably the greatest war film ever made.

Charlie Sheen's character arrives in Vietnam, a principled kid from a privileged background who simply wants to do his part and fight for his country. The war very quickly takes it's toll on him, and over a period of weeks he becomes completely exhausted and more than a little insane. In the platoon he's joined there are two veteran soldiers played memorably by Tom Berenger and William Dafoe, who are depicted as supermen, almost unkillable -- and they represent the morality of the story. None of the men are exactly 'good' anymore, they're all killers certainly, but these two characters show us that there IS a line, and they stand on opposite sides of it. The main character perceives that these two men are fighting for possession of his soul, a typical ego-centric philosophy student kind of conclusion, but in a way they do represent a battle that is going on within this man, and that's what the story is really about.

All of the actors involved had to endure two weeks of intense training and exercises which were aimed to teach them exactly what it was like to be a soldier in Vietnam, and in the making of this film there were moments when they really seemed to believe that they were there. There's one scene towards the end where John C. McGinley's character is upset because he doesn't think he'll make it out of the next battle alive, and he gives a great performance where he is extremely emotional and close to tears -- but there's just one snag. He wasn't supposed to cry during that scene. The only take without tears was the one that they used in the film. On the DVD, there's an interview with Charlie Sheen where he says with a straight face that there were moments during shooting when he didn't think he'd make it out of there alive.

It wasn't an easy project for Oliver Stone either, as there were certain scenes that seemed to spark memories for him as he'd obviously written them about something that had happened to him. The film provoked pretty much the same reaction from the veterans who saw it, everyone felt that he'd truly captured something, which is probably why it won the oscars for best picture and best director that year.

You'll never hear Adaggio for Strings in quite the same way again. 5/5 (a classic, absolutely unmissable).

M (1931)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Creepy stuff ..., 10 March 2004

Honestly, I'm still kind of surprised that a film like this actually existed back in 1931. Because of the extremely dark subject matter, even today the project would have plenty of difficulty getting off the ground. But the important thing is that it DOES exist, and even back then it's clear that at least somebody out there knew how innovative and brilliant cinema can be, which leaves no excuse for all those bloody awful films the studios churned out at the time.

Fritz Lang as usual allows things to unfold at a leisurely pace, which is fine although he does linger too long on some aspects particularly in the middle section of the film, which means that it very nearly suffers from that age-old disease whereby a film has a great opening and a great ending, but is ruined by the fact that it lags heavily in the middle. But there are enough to great scenes and original ideas in there to ensure that this is among the greatest films of all the time.

I'm sure today's directors must envy Fritz Lang in that back then he had pretty much a blank slate, and so was free to experiment without fear of borrowing from other places, so ultimately you have to admit that this is not a film about other films -- it's a film about life, inspired by real life and shot in a way that truly tries to memorably capture everyday life.

The highlight of the film as far as the acting is concerned is of course Peter Lorre's haunting, creepy little performance as the child murderer himself. There is one point in the film where the killer is standing in front of a shop window, and his reflection in the glass is dark and murky except for his eyes when he looks over at a little girl, which glow like those of a demon -- almost certainly an accident, but a great-looking accident nonetheless.

This film easily deserves 5/5 (a classic, absolutely not to be missed).

Dogville (2003)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An incredibly important film., 24 February 2004

If you don't already know, the interesting thing about Dogville is that there are no real sets. It all takes place in a theatre where the individual houses in the village of marked out with chalk and labelled, and there are even boxes with "Dog" or "Gooseberry Bushes" written on them -- the only things that appear are generally props which are actually used in the film. From a practical, film-making point of view this means that von Trier can show whats going on in all the houses at any time, and also he can show the whole town and all the people from overhead, as if some great god was looking down on them, which is a device he uses several times.

Many people presume that Von Trier was attempting to make the film something like a play, but I definitely felt that he is more blurring the line between a film and a book. Tarantino attempted the same thing with "Kill Bill", but not to this visionary extent. This film is also divided into chapters, but he takes it further by including summaries of the events as a novelist might, and it also has a narrative throughout that sounds an awful lot like writing from a literary novel. The fact that there are no sets also makes it a lot like reading a book, in that you have to use your imagination. If a writer failed to describe the buildings of a town in a book, your imagination might conjure up something that looks like Dogville.

What I'm trying to explain is that I feel this is something more than just a clever gimmick, it is a device of some importance and hopefully other artists will take inspiration from von Trier's vision. But this is not something inherent in the writing of the film -- it could just as easily have been filmed in a conventional way, with actual sets and all, and it still would have been worth watching.

And so, onto the film itself. It is a heavily philosophical piece of work, and the writing and the dialogue is very strong throughout. I felt somewhat let down by the ending, but I won't give too much away there. This is not an easy film to watch, but hardly anything that is shown is gratituous -- von Trier doesn't linger on anything, in fact, for longer than is necessary. It also seems that the fact that the actors have to use their imagination more than usual has definitely brought out the best in them. The two leads, Kidman and Bettany, are both excellent in their roles, as is the entire supporting cast.

It's a film you should see if you're interesting in it as a form of art, and I'm sure in time it'll be shown on pretty much any self-respecting film course. As far as people who watch films solely for entertainment go, I'm not sure how much you'll like it. Not because there are no sets, as you practically forget this after about an hour has gone in the same way you imagine what isn't there when watching a stageplay, but because of the harshness of the story itself. I only hope that it can be appreciated, and that a general audience of Nicole Kidman fans when it's released in US theatres doesn't reduce the film's rating too much.

For those who are about to Rock ..., 20 February 2004

We already know from the entertaining Dazed and Confused (1993) that Richard Linklater knows how to handle this kind of nostalgic rock n' roll movie, so it's right that expectations should be set fairly high, especially since the project also involves Jack Black. Okay -- so Jack can only play one character, but he is usually very funny and it's good that he is becoming a bankable comedian now.

The premise is straightforward, as is the movie itself -- Jack Black is kicked out of his rock band so he sneakily takes a job as a temp a prep school, and begins forming his class into a rock n' roll band. As far as the class is concerned, the performances are pretty much what you expect from child actors, and the most notable talent is the lead guitar playing of twelve year old Joey Gaydos Jr.

It manages to be funny and original throughout, and it's no surprise that it was such a success at the box office. Jack Black spends much of the time carrying the movie himself, and if anything this did result with a green-light for the upcoming project of the Tenacious D movie which I await with nervous anticipation ...

Big Fish (2003)
Uncatchable Fish., 20 February 2004

Giants, werewolves, witches, and some rather big fish.

Half of this movie is about a grown man brought up by a storytelling father who seems to be obsessed with the fairy tales he creates. Now, with the father on his deathbed, his son feels as though he doesn't know him at all and so attempts to bridge the emotional gap while recalling the fairy tales that his father told. And this brings us to the other half -- the fictional fairytale stories of the young Edward Bloom, who is everything from a soldier in Vietnam to a human cannonball to a bankrobber to a wealthy landowner ... he faces all kinds of fantastic creatures and people throughout his life, and befriends all of them.

The Father/Son relationship is easily one of the most over-explored in Hollywood, and more often than not signals schmaltzy background music, tender moments and a lot of heartfelt talk about baseball. Bleurgh. However, "Big Fish" actually manages to try something different with a tired old formula and actually pull it off superbly well. This movie is actually a lot like "Forrest Gump", what with the accents and the comedic, fantasy retelling of a person's life -- certainly not a project you'd associate with the Master of Darkness, Tim Burton.

Contrary to what some might say, Tim Burton just doesn't make bad movies. He makes great ones, and decent ones -- usually one after the other in sequence. As his previous movie was the heavily-flawed and ill-conceived "Planet of the Apes" remake, this one was due to be a great one anyway. It doesn't necessary feel like a Tim Burton movie the whole way through... sure, you've got those weird trees, some slanted houses and plenty of surreal, Gothic darkness here and there, but much of it could just as well have been a Spielberg project, particularly in the Father/Son sequences. The main difference, though, is that Burton doesn't pile on the Schmaltz as another director would. Even the inevitable death sequence is both abrupt and tasteful, and no longer than it needs to be.

This is another entertaining and heartfelt film from Tim Burton, at least of the quality we expect from this great director. Everyone should see this movie.

9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
"Join Us" ..., 13 August 2003

Or more accurately, "Invest In Us...", as that's exactly what this short 30-minute movie was trying to say. This 30-minute concept movie was intended to convince people to loan Raimi and his crew money to make the first "Evil Dead" movie.

We all the know the story by now surely : a bunch of teenagers are staying in a cabin and they awaken an evil curse that tries to kill them all off one by one blah blah blah ... only THIS time, rather than the "Book of the Dead", it is an ancient Indian curse that's causing all the carnage. Fun, huh?

First off, I can't believe that Raimi actually had the nerve to use the words "Ancient Indian Burial Ground" in a horror movie. But that and the vacuum cleaner sound effects aside, this is a great concept movie that showed exactly what it needed to - that Raimi even at that age was a competent director capable of making a successful movie.

There are aspects of this short movie that are present in the later ones, and it is interesting to note these ideas (the follow cam, the banging swing, "Join Us!") and exact sequences such as Linda trying to open the cabin door and the whole three minute "Zombie At The Door" sequence that appear literally shot-for-shot in Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2.

Serious Evil Dead fans should definitely take a look if you ever get the chance.

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