42 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Jindabyne (2006)
Too many issues
26 October 2007
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER This is a well made and a well acted film. Pity there were just too many issues going on. I mean what was the point of the Laura Linney character being pregnant and suffering from morning sickness throughout the film? Or the fact that she was supposed to have had postnatal depression after her first child or that she hadn't told her husband played by Gabriel Byrne that she was pregnant? And anyway what had that to do with the main storyline about four guys going fishing and finding a dead woman in the river and instead of reporting it immediately tethering her body while they enjoyed their two day recreational jaunt? Or for that matter why did the weird old trucker kill the girl in the first place? OR why throw in the white/aboriginal issue if it really wasn't going to be played out fully? This film was directed by the same guy who did "Lantana", however I found "Lantana" rather more satisfying though I did have some issues with that film too.
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Bobby (2006)
Emilio's Bobby
29 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It has to be realised upon sitting down to watch this film that this is Emilio's hymn to RFK. He'd met Robert Kennedy once a few weeks before the assassination; and afterwards Martin (Sheen) had taken him to the Ambassador Hotel and told him "This is where Robert Kennedy was killed." So I think one has to accept that this film is in no way meant to be an objective appraisal of RFK. However as a film capturing the feel of the time, that it occurs less than five years after JFK's assassination and only a few months after Martin Luther King's assassination, it forcibly reminds us who were alive then and old enough to have some idea of what we thought it all meant, of how desperate we were for someone (some Messiah-like figure) to come along sort out the world, ie get rid of communism and end the war in Vietnam. As such this film is a work of genius. The film represents a moment in time. We see the lives of a number of people in the hotel up to and immediately after the assassination and get a glimpse of the turbulent mess it certainly threw the US into for a while. As for the acting it is uniformly good throughout, though I feel that Sharon Stone deserves a special mention and should get at least nominated for an Oscar. Sir Anthony Hopkins' accent is a little insecure in places, but what the heck. Sheen and Hunt are fantastic together, generating on screen chemistry due not least to Emilio's insightful scripting. Some of the roles are allegorical as opposed to real but lose nothing for that (specically Edward Robinson played by Laurence Fishburne). It's a haunting piece. I would like to finish by quoting from diary entries I wrote at the time. Wednesday 5th June 1968 "Robert Kennedy was shot in the head in Los Angeles today. It's pretty doubtful that he shall live. Isn't life awful and bastardly. God I despair sometimes." Thursday 6th June 1968 "When I got home (from school)I heard that Robert Kennedy had died. I felt incredibly cold and now I feel futile."
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Analyze That (2002)
Great funny film, great mickey take
22 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I loved Analyze This because DeNiro and Crystal had a good and funny script and worked so well together. Well, they are on top form yet again in this film too. DeNiro is released from prison into Crystal's care which inevitably proves pretty well impossible for both of them. Clearly the two actors are having a ball and this spirit is infectious, endowing the film with that feel good factor that is so essential in order to make a comedy work.I know that some will say that parts of it are clichéd but again in a good comedy it is comforting to revisit good jokes. It's a bit like hearing a favourite song on the radio. Everyone in the film is good and I loved Cathy Moriarty's line to her daughters about hurrying up in order not to be late for their ballet lesson (I'm far too polite to repeat it verbatim here!!)The film has the added bonus of the running joke/mickey take of a TV show called "Little Caesar" in which an actor frequently associated in the viewers minds with playing gangsters is shown playing the role of a gangster. This actor with the director and film crew of "Little Caesar" employ DeNiro as the true gangster Vitti to give them some insights and tips on gangster mentality and behaviour. The actor in question here is Anthony LaPaglia who is uncredited. He basically plays himself complete with broad Australian accent. The whole notion of DeNiro and LaPaglia both playing or pretending to play gangsters is very funny. Facing each other, LaPaglia as Anthony Bella attempts to imitate the accent and actions of DeNiro as Paul Vitti, this is even more amusing when you bear in mind that Australian Mr LaPaglia honed his Brooklyn accent by watching that other perennial gangster actor Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon! This is a super little nonsense film, well made and plain good fun.
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The Architect (2006)
"...but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
19 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In this film each unhappy family is, to a greater or lesser extent, the architect of its own demise.Many people have criticised the film for not saying much, or for being overloaded with story lines; for not following through or following through too explicitly. All in all it clearly confuses and divides people. I think there is a problem and it is not the movie that has the problem but the audience.This story touches on some of the last taboos in cinema namely the actual visualisation of homosexual sex, and even worse in the eyes of the beholders it addresses incest. The cross cultures/cross races thing seems to me to be a side issue to the main problem illustrated here which is that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way to quote Tolstoy (apt here as Shawn the black homosexual is reading "Anna Karenina" at one point in the action, and like Anna unable to come to terms with himself and the world in which he lives, eventually commits suicide.)The film comes originally from a stage play set in Glasgow. Some of the dialogue has been lifted straight from the play and so can sound a little stilted, but in my opinion this device helps to maintain the necessary distance between the action and the audience. This plainly is an allegorical piece, each actor fulfils a function rather than a character but the story is none the worse for that; many art house movies do likewise. It is the subject matter here that is so difficult. As for the actual movie, it looks good, in fact is amazing considering it was shot in 20 days in New York masquerading as Chicago (I assume to keep the costs down). The acting by the whole ensemble is excellent. And I think one has to give Anthony LaPaglia especial praise as the Architect in question clearly in the grip of an incestuous passion. This cannot be an easy kind of role for any actor to play, but, as one has come to expect of Mr LaPaglia, he carries it off to perfection which may go a long way to explain the uncomfortableness felt by some moviegoers. Within his oeuvre this film seems almost like a companion piece to the more hopeful "Winter Solstice". My advice to anyone wishing to see "The Architect" would be to go along with an open mind, expect to be challenged and perhaps you'll come away with the same feelings as me, that this is a good film, a thought-provoking film but not one to watch just for the pure fun of it, go and see Mr LaPaglia's other current film "Happy Feet" if you want that!
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Deja Vu (2006)
Minority Report hits Back to the Future hits Blade Runner hits Without a Trace hits Bill and Ted head on!
18 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a really good, exciting, action/romance type movie. From the word go it looks fabulous. The photography and the management of the crowds of extras all boarding the ferry, partying on board and then the aftermath of the explosion is amazing. The explosion itself is a visceral,breathtaking experience. The story is peopled with so many nice characters that you can't help but be drawn in. Denzel Washington gives yet another superb and riveting performance (Tell me? How is it he never ages?)and strips off beautifully too. The story involves time travel, and as with any story that makes use of such a device one has to be prepared to suspend disbelief. The idea of going back in time to stop a "Perp" before he commits a crime clearly has been done before in "Minority Report", but this story is an exciting new take on that theme. Both "Back to the Future" and "Bill and Ted" have examined the difficulties of time travel but in a jokey context, thus there is room for this serious piece within the oeuvre. The investigative reconstruction methods owed something to "Without a Trace", sign of Mr Bruckheimer's hand in there I think. In my opinion the story holds up pretty well under scrutiny; its internal logic works well. It is an intelligently written piece. Those who have problems with the plotting perhaps are not adept time-travellers like some of us. All in all this is a very enjoyable film that I would confidently recommend to anyone who likes good quality action movies.
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Without a Trace: Check Your Head (2006)
Season 4, Episode 17
1 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
As everyone has already said this is an episode about an agoraphobic journalist who disappears without a trace. The resulting story is a fantastic and wonderful piece of whimsy. From the start where Elena walks in on Jack talking (assumedly) to Anne on the phone and holding a garish electric blue tie in his hand, apparently a gift from the aforesaid lady, which he (clearly embarrassed) at first tries to hide by sticking it under his left arm and then hurriedly into his left pocket so that the end of it dangles free, to the scene in the bowling alley at the end where Jack and Danny burst into song performing a duet of "That's Amore", it is altogether wonderful. I have absolutely no idea why anyone should dislike this piece, unless perhaps they have no sense of humour. The whole episode was pleasingly uplifting and it is so nice to see Jack relaxed for once. Mr LaPaglia is an excellent comedy actor and so it was really good seeing him make use of this area of his undoubted talent within "Without a Trace" for a change. The script was v. funny, so all the cast had some good lines to deliver. The three female FBI Agents being referred to by the Mob Boss as "Charlie's Angels" was inspired. But Jack's conversation with the agoraphobic journalist as she lies in the bowling lane is the high spot and a must-see for all WAT fans.
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Casino Royale (2006)
Best Bond ever
20 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Initially I had been teased into thinking that Clive Owen was up for the vacant role of Bond. He seemed perfect for the part so I was a little disappointed when I discovered it had gone to Daniel Craig. In the event Mr Craig was stunning. His acting ability won me round completely into believing him to be the best Bond ever; and let us face it great acting is not what we have come to expect of a Bond movie. And he more than looks the part, unlike some of the earlier Bonds. The opening free-running sequence amongst the cranes is genuinely terrifying, particularly for anyone with a smidgen of acrophobia. He kills brutally, he loves passionately. He exudes an air of vulnerability which makes the character so much more real. He falls in love; he fights, he runs like the wind, he gets poisoned and is forced to self-administer both emetics and defibrillators. We see him totally stripped of his clothes and dignity and whipped with a heavy duty knotted rope. We watch as he is transformed into a detached arid killing machine during the course of this very long film (2 hours 30 minutes). One hopes however that he retains some of his more human feelings that were on display for us in this Bond outing for the next instalment; and that like this film it is almost gadget free. I watched this on Sunday morning and have to say it was a great way to start the day. It is a must see for anyone who likes action films not just die-hard Bond aficionados.
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Frank Nitti: The Enforcer (1988 TV Movie)
Surprisingly good
11 September 2006
I believe that this made-for-TV-biopic was Anthony LaPaglia's first major leading role on screen - and what a great start! The film is beautifully made and acted by all throughout. As has been already mentioned it is illuminating to see a member of the mafia being depicted as a truly caring husband and father, thus making the scene concerning the death of his wife intensely poignant - LaPaglia is always streets ahead of most other actors in putting over the deeper emotional aspects of a character and here in this role he excels. I assume the story keeps basically to the truth though as a Brit I'm not totally au fait with the intricacies of Nitti's life. I think anyone interested in the US mafioso and who found "The Untouchables" film and the old TV series enjoyable but a little far-fetched would thoroughly enjoy and appreciate this incarnation. For any LaPaglia fan out there I would have to say that this film definitely falls into the category of compulsory and compulsive viewing!!
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Brilliant Lies?
11 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film was formulated out of a stage play and unfortunately its origins are all too obvious. Though there are some interesting camera and editing devices utilised I do not think that ultimately as a film this piece has worked. And nobody lied brilliantly! None of their scheming was accomplished with panache. The plot is that Suzy (Gia Carides) is claiming $40,000 Aussie dollars from her boss Gary (Anthony LaPaglia) on the grounds of his sexual harassment of her. As to be expected they both give differing versions of what happened and whereas the story according to Gary never really wavers (ie in his opinion he has done nothing amiss)Suzy changes her story nearly every time we hear it. The result being that though I think overall we are supposed to be more sympathetic for the wronged lass, in the event the scene in which Gary is eventually reduced to burying his head in his hands elicits for more sympathy from the viewer. I have to admit by the end of the film I loathed Suzy. I suppose my reaction has to be a good reflection on the part of the actors involved, in particular the two Carides sisters, and Anthony LaPaglia. The story is rather clichéd, though the scene where LaPaglia stands before his so-called victim undoing his flies was unusual, unexpected and more than a little scary. But alas the image was repeated a few times too many so it did lose its punch as the film progressed I fear. One good visual idea does not a brilliant movie make!!
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30 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I had doubts about Linklater's reasons for using "rotoscope" on this movie. But after having watched it I can understand that in order to utilise the "scramble suit" phenomenon this was the only way in which to make a fully coherent, homogeneous film. The effect in the event is stunning. The story is typical Philip K Dick and none the worse for that, discussing problems of identity and ensuing paranoia in this case brought about through the use of a drug known as "D". Personally I found the story quite simple to follow (however I am a bit of a Dick aficionado so to speak!)Both Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr are glorious in the respective roles of Fred/Bob and Barris. Reeves in particular pulled off a masterful job of creating an intensely sympathetic character in a role where any spontaneous emotion is lacking. Ryder,Harrelson and Cochrane were also excellent. The film is a visually stunning and surprisingly beautiful experience. The story is telling and yet at times very funny - Downey Jr here excels. This film is destined to be one of cinema's great cult classics, and one of Reeves's and Downey Jr's great performances.
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