Reviews written by registered user

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55 reviews in total 
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King Charles III (2017) (TV)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful acting but a deeply flawed concept., 14 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The day has finally arrived. Charles is at last king and without the restrictions of his mother. Almost immediately he finds himself at odds with his prime minister and refuses assent to a bill passed by Parliament.

In typical Shakespearean style Charles then finds himself tangled in political intrigue and family betrayal. The politicians seek his abdication. William is portrayed as a rather weak character entirely under the ambitious thumb of his ruthless wife who lusts for power. Harry seems more obsessed with finding love somewhere in an East End council flat than the duties of his birth whilst Camilla does her best to keep everything together.

So far so good. All the characters are entirely believable and extremely well cast although perhaps Prince Harry is somewhat better looking than his stage counterpart.

But sadly there is major flaw in the script. The bill in question would restrict press freedom and the plot suggests that public outrage at the King's refusal to allow this is sufficient to cause 'bloodletting' in a virtual civil war. Such is more than unlikely. Moreover both William and Harry turn against their father as the crown is wrestled from him by force with their support. Such is even more absurd. Eventually Charles accepts the betrayal and crowns his own son with bitter sentiment. Never can one imagine that the ancient rites of kingship would be so trampled simply because the king would protect free speech. And were that to transpire I am certain that Charles would invoke the Plantagenate curse that saw the Tudor usurpers extinct in three generations after their treachery at Bosworth. Now that would have been a far better ending as Charles crowns the son that stole his throne. What a pity the writer did not compose with greater imagination and less absurdity.

"Spies" (2017)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fake show making entertaining nonsense, 19 March 2017

For a short pleasing unwind before bedtime this show can suffice. It is well paced and mildly interesting excepting the repeated introduction sequence which is tediously long and pompous. But the show is fake. The short listed candidates are described as 'highly intelligent' and 'especially gifted' whilst in fact they were mostly quite ordinary people who could have been picked at random. However some of the candidates were quite special. They were so incredibly inept, so amazingly dull and so ridiculously clueless that the show collapses on take off.

'How could any professional body accept such fools for intelligence training?' is the first question that arises when the show's cover begins to crack. Even amongst the final four a candidate is stupid enough to call the emergency safety line simply because no one has contacted her for a few hours. Julian Fisher, supposedly a former intelligence officer of some rank and now the organizer of this 'course' for MI5 hopefuls exclaims "intelligence officers are made and not born" as if his business model can actually create gold from lead. But it cannot. In fact the whole show proves that his training cannot succeed where the raw material simply isn't good enough.

Finally towards the end of the series Justin blows his own cover. He tells the viewers that arrested agents must achieve a rapport with their interrogators and not antagonize them. This is absolute nonsense. The relationship between agent and interrogator is entirely dependent upon the cover being used. Posing as an experienced international businessman an agent might well strike a good tone with his interrogator. Successful businessmen are normally cool and smooth. But these candidates were posing as tourists. Innocent holidaymakers do not take kindly to police interrogations for no apparent reason. After five hours of solitary confinement the average tourist would either be absolutely livid with his interrogator or so deeply shocked that their responses would be muted and sullen. Anything else would raise suspicion.

One candidate acted as if the cell experience had blown his mind and so hardly responded to his interrogator. He was immediately suspended from the show and thrown off the course as a failure. As I wrote, this is absolute nonsense and entirely fake. Justin Fisher was either never in MI5 or was removed for being an idiot. Watch this show with a bucket of salt.

"Tut" (2015)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A trash production that trashes history, 23 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is difficult to describe just how bad this production is. Besides depicting interior design in 18th. Dynasty Egypt as a carbon copy of 21st. Century luxury hotels, the events described are almost entirely fabricated.

Incestuously bred, Tutankhamun was a genetically deformed cripple who could not even walk unaided let alone lead his army into battle. He was unusually tall and slightly built and yet the production shows him as a muscular young hunk, a modern day action man valiantly defeating the odds in every battle and able to slice the heads off men twice his age and size. He was also intensely religious and quickly reversed his father's drive towards monotheism by replacing the ancient Gods in common worship. He restored the traditional priesthood and yet the production shows him in constant struggle with the polytheist faction to the extent that he has the entire priesthood exterminated whilst personally dispatching the high priest himself. Murder rates high in this production. In fact there are so many slit throats, hacked off limbs and graphic impalements that blood flows like wine throughout the experience. And yet there is no evidence of any large scale wars or mass executions during his reign. In fact records show him to have been something of a peacemaker and diplomat who established peace with several major enemies.

But it is the modern day interpretation of style, behavior and reasoning that really renders this mini series into the trash level. The women are all glamorous and dominant. The male heroes are all good looking 'alpha' hunks and the bad guys are all ugly, gay or old. The bedrooms are straight out the Hyatt Regency Presidential Suite in Dubai, the haircuts are pure Hollywood and the costumes garish facsimiles of Egyptian tomb images.

Quite frankly I wanted to vomit the production away but struggled through it largely because no other detailed dramatization of Tutankhamun's reign exists. What a pity; the series could have been quite good if only Hollywood had not taken it on.

Simply Unique, 24 August 2016

Based upon a real life incident involving Lucas de Métairy (1970-98) this quite remarkable film relates his experiences as 12 year old staying at the home of one of his mother's friends. He is alone with Erwan, a boy of similar age, who is resentful that his mother has left him behind as she takes a holiday with Lucas' mother.

That resentment is immediately visited upon Lucas. Erwan simply treats him as a dog forcing him to sleep in a cupboard and to eat only bread and cheese in the kitchen whilst Erwan enjoys fine food in the dining room that Lucas has prepared for him. Perhaps more significantly Erwan forces Lucas to be entirely naked at every moment throughout his stay.

Whilst Erwan is of undistinguished social class, Lucas is clearly aristocratic and the host thereby clearly enjoys forcing his social 'superior' to act as his naked personal slave under the most humiliating circumstances. Lucas for example is obliged to lie beneath him as a foot stool and even to sit on the floor like a dog.

The drama which ensues covers fascinating and largely unspoken territory. Sullivan Jeray playing Erwan throws the naked boy a number of looks which could be interpreted as secretly lustful. But with entirely amateur and untrained young actors these glances may be simply natural responses rather than scripted gestures. Meanwhile Lucas expresses undying love for his tormentor claiming that sex has nothing to do it. But as a 12 year old that response might be considered naive and perhaps his submission to what is effectively sadomasochism denotes a deeper sexuality of which he is yet unaware.

Although the photography is extremely basic and the direction is almost entirely unimaginative, the young actors do their best to bring a quite remarkable story and insight into child behavior at the dawn of sexuality into focus. Sullivan Jeray provides us with wonderful gestures and expressions whilst Quentin Ladrière, playing Lucas, seemed the very personification of his part and deserves much praise for his courage to be naked on set throughout the production at such a delicate age.

But most of all it is the tantalizing glimpse of the almost saintly Lucas de Métairy that beguiles the viewing experience. And I was left thirsting for more knowledge of this remarkable young man who eventually died under heroic and tragic circumstances 15 years after these events.

Endgame (2001)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A portrait of boy exploitation which itself exploits the boy actor., 18 August 2016

It is no wonder that Gary Wicks who wrote, cast and directed this effort has found his career limited to low key gay productions ever since. This film suggests a peculiar personal bent which has little relevance to the wider public whether gay or straight.

A rather cute rent boy is retained by a wealthy gangster to be exclusively available to him in a posh West End apartment. He uses the lad to service business clients or entrap business rivals or debtors. Sessions are filmed for subsequent blackmail use.

The gangster himself is turned on by violence and rape and we see the youth seriously abused on several occasions. Plainly there is little humanity in his treatment. Eventually a series of deaths occur as the plot evolves into a search to retrieve blackmail tapes hidden by our attractive young hero.

The camera work is both artistic and indulgent for admirers of boy beauty. Daniel Newman, a prolific 90's UK child star with elfin good looks and a well tuned physique, is filmed in every glamorous method. Soft lighting, superb make up, imaginative angles, explicit full frontal and frequent erotic posterior shots provide the viewer with a definitive 'soft porn' experience that has probably made the young actor into masturbatory fantasy image for millions of gay men ever since. But did Daniel Newman ever realize the motivation of Gary Wicks to produce this effect? The young man probably had to spend hours on set stark naked for the 'artistic' pleasure of his employers. And what we see in the finished film is probably just a censored fraction of the full unexpurgated footage taken during shooting. Gary Wicks went on to produce an intimate portrait of real life boy porn star Johann Paulik and, unless Dan Newman was entirely unmoved during the filmed sex scenes, I expect there is an archive of XXX material depicting him somewhere.

In short I got the distasteful impression that an innocent former child star was hoodwinked into appearing in a soft porn production that ultimately wrecked his career. He has done very little since, despite the fair reviews of his acting performance, and runs a fitness center in Wimbledon today for his living. Type cast as an effete boy prostitute with nothing of his body left for the public to imagine, there was very little future in the industry for him and he was just put on the sidelines.

This film portrays homosexuality as a sick violent disease, boy prostitutes as 'trash' figures without any sense of self esteem and women as the only qualified givers of worthy love - even though they betray their husbands to sleep with boy prostitute neighbors that happen to need their help. I give the actors top marks for this production - especially Dan Newman who probably suffered a lot for it - but the film itself is nothing more than soft porn masquerading as respectable drama.

Sacrifice (2016/II)
7 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
A complete waste of time, 12 August 2016

This is just about as bad as could be for a film with such fine actors. But Rupert Graves has shown us how tough times can be in his profession. The star of such great films as Maurice and a Handful of Dust has finally descended into formulaic feminist pulp in order to pay the taxman and we are left with 91 minutes of entirely predictable stomach shriveling drivel.

An American doctor is childless and married to the heir of a Scottish estate. The Laird, hardly older than his son in appearance, is the wealthy benefactor of a State of the Art maternity hospital built on a remote Western Isle where he has his castle. He has kindly helped his son to adopt a child from this facility in order to progress the line. And then a dead body with a slashed open rib cage and ancient Runic brand marks appears in the garden - and the rest is depressingly obvious.

The entire cult involved here is naturally made of evil men and all the heroes are wonderfully motherly women with the exception of fading heart throb Rupert who is scripted to be a great husband and potential father - unless one dwells upon the notion that he must have known and supported everything going on in the past - and is therefore just as guilty as the rest of them.

This film is simply a waste of time and space. Put it in the recycle bin where it belongs.

"Jericho" (2016)
4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Perfect Pulp, 13 March 2016

This series is simply a classic example of mainstream pulp fodder aimed to push modern political idealism by setting it in the past and trying to convince a mindless audience everyone has always thought what Hollywood wants us to think now.

OK it wasn't directly made by Hollywood but a quick check on the production associates and the financial origins behind this rubbish will identify the link. Independent UK productions are just a dream of the past: now we have to suffer virtual Westerns set in Victorian Yorkshire.

And we have to suffer the pulp of beautiful young women in carefully contrived modern make up playing mature mothers in poor villages 150 years ago. And colored bosses behaving as if civil rights had been won before time began. The plot is contrived and predictable, the sets are designed by fashion students and the acting gives as much feeling for the 19th century as Macauley Culkin in Home Alone.

You are better off watching WWE wrestling: avoid if you value you time.

Room (2015/I)
0 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Jacob Tremblay deserved the Oscar but not Brie Larson., 10 March 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The scenario is interesting enough. A mother and her little son are imprisoned for 7 years by a man in small shed halfway down his garden. We think of the horrors experienced by similar victims publicized in the media and we are immediately intrigued to learn more about this phenomenon. But very sadly this film does not fulfill its potential. It concentrates almost entirely on what appears to be a hackneyed feminist agenda - namely the love of a mother for her son - rather than breaking new ground and explaining to us how and why such things occur. In short it leaves far more questions unanswered than it manages to solve.

There are too many absurdities to list in this production.

With only a single door between her and freedom it beggars belief that the mother was not able to force it open or make her escape at the moment it was opened. There was a skylight to the roof but in 7 years she had not the ingenuity to smash it and escape. There were various metal objects around the room and it would not have been impossible.

The man enters the room and sleeps with her regularly. Indeed their relationship seems quite calmly domestic. He does not need to force sex upon her but they simply undress and relate as if normal husband and wife. And both are able to sleep peacefully at night as if everything was normal. She complains at the food and he tells her that he has no work and struggles to keep them both. He buys presents for the boy and seems reasonable normal and decent.

It doesn't make any sense. Any man who would imprison a woman and child in a tiny shed for 7 years must be insane. And yet every action of this man is rational. And we are told nothing about the origins of the story. How did her relationship with the man ever materialize? How long after meeting did he imprison her? How did it ever happen? Instead of covering this ground we are subjected to nearly two hours of thoroughly predictable motherly behavior as if we could not imagine it ourselves. Brie Larson executes the task quite competently but this was not an Oscar winning performance. She merely left her Gucci gowns in the closet, left her make up in the drawer and acted herself. Her award was purely a boost to the underlying feminist message of the film.

But the boy was something else. Jacob Tremblay dominated the film in every way. His mood swings, his emotions, his play as a boy half his real age and his capture of our imagination in every scene was nothing short of masterful. Not only should he have been given the Oscar but his performance illustrates the need to introduce a new category in the annual ceremony: Best performance by a child actor. He certainly deserved it.

Bungalow (2002)
1 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Even worse than the 'Killer Tomatoes', 27 November 2015

This has to be one of the most tedious, pointless and plot less films of all time. It's only redeeming quality is that the experience of sitting through an hour of it allows an appreciation of every other film one can think of - even the ubiquitous 'Attack of the killer tomatoes'.

In the days of compulsory National Service, a young man deserts the Army and goes home where he finds himself attracted to his brother's girlfriend. That's the plot. The pace can only be described as static. The lead actor is a handsome young man who drops his underpants in at least four scenes. In fact one might be forgiven for thinking that the whole point of this production was the director's urge to get this young unknown actor to be naked on set for as long as possible. There is even a scene where he actually begins to explicitly masturbate on camera. This did not exactly propel him into stardom as he appeared in only 4 more productions. One really has to question the value and the purpose of his displays in this production.

After an hour I had to fast forward the last fifteen minutes to reach the climax. It was that bad. So boring are the characters that any interest in their fate evaporates in the warmth of drowsiness. And when I opened my eyes the plot had advanced to an entirely predictable, utterly unpoetical and completely banal ending. Don't bother watching this.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Much underrated drama underneath a mask of horror, 7 November 2015

The truly brilliant film is built upon a mood of mystery and suspense that I would not wish to breach by revealing the plot too much. It tells the story of a wealthy mother and her two sons who experience an immense tragedy together. Their isolation in the remoteness of wealth is a major element because the events that transpire are perhaps less believable in normal society. Certainly this tragedy could never have occurred in the past when society was stronger and more communal.

But it is the plausibility of the story today that gives it the greatest power. However unusual these circumstances might appear there can be no doubt that such mistreatment, such grief and such insensitivity towards others can and does occur. And the results of such a nightmare are mostly terrible.

This is not a horror film in the standard sense. There are some gory scenes but they are entirely in context with the drama and not at all contrived for pointless spectacle. The horror here lies in the mental state that tragedy brings upon its victims. It is a nightmare for all involved. And the horror for us is realizing that black and white, right and wrong and good and evil become very blurred when reality is fully examined.

Lovers of serious drama should certainly watch this film intently. The ending is both dramatic and strangely poetic. But it is not at all clear rather like the truth of any tragedy. If you like standard escapist horror for entertainment then go somewhere else. This is too close to the core of our Psyche.

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