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2010s favourites (rated 8 or above)
Behind the Candelabra
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Kid with a Bike
Like Father, Like Son
The Secret World of Arietty
The Social Network
Testament of Youth
Two Days, One Night
We Need to Talk About Kevin
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938)
Pleasant but disappointing
Norman Taurog's 1938 Technicolor film is a nice enough time waster but suffers from being just too faithful to the story. All of the memorable incidents are checked off, the most memorable being the final confrontation with Injun Joe, all filmed on lavish and hugely impressive sets.
Tommy Kelly is fine as Tom like most of the kids in the film (apart from Ann Gillis' bland, boring Becky) he overacts at times, but he has the charm required for the part. Jackie Moran's Huck is barely developed, a wasted opportunity. David Holt's Sid, played very much for slapstick, gets some good laughs.
The adult cast are solid, although none are given much to do and May Robson is decidedly more ancient than I always envisioned Aunt Polly.
A nicely paced, likable effort, but more imagination would have been welcome.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Tommy Lee Jones steals it
I was a little let down by this drawn-out, rather plodding film. Some atmosphere, but not enough to carry a movie that felt longer than it was. Bardem's award-sweeping performance was fine but with such a juicy character any half decent actor would struggle to make a hash of it. It was Tommy Lee Jones who I found myself fascinated by a detailed portrayal, fascinating to watch. A shame he didn't have more screen time in the film's first half.
Roger Deakins cinematography was brilliant what a year for him, with The Assassination of Jesse James and this and the production design effective. But the storytelling is simplistic and James Brolin doesn't have the charisma to carry the central role.
Worthy, heavy-handed, oddly compelling
I watched the entire four hours plus of Britz in one bum-numbing session. It delivers exactly what you expect from a Channel 4 mini-series hard-hitting, topical, well-made edgy drama. Sadly it is also overwritten, more than a little preachy, and some of the acting is uneven.
Episode one, Sohail's story, plays like an endlessly drawn-out episode of Spooks. It has it's moments, and Riz Ahmed is rather good, but the highlights are few and far between, and an awful lot of scenes feel padded. Part two, Nasima's story, is more compelling and at the same time more predictable. The ending is a long time coming and you may spot it a mile off, yet the motivations and attitudes set up for the character lead one to feel that the outcome doesn't ring true. I won't give away the game, but I didn't entirely buy it.
This is the first of Kosminsky's celebrated contemporary dramas I've seen and while the quality of his writing and the power of the subject matter are enough to maintain interest for much of the story, it's hard not to feel he could have achieved more at half the length.
Island of the Lost (1967)
This was a film I enjoyed as a kid. Even then I knew it was pretty terrible - the hammy lines, the laughable special effects (ostriches with horns glued on are about the pinnacle of special effects on display), the way Richard Greene and the rest of the cast seem to walk in and out of the camera to represent scene shifts... subtle it ain't, nor art. I have no doubt that I'm influenced by nostalgia, but a revisit a few years ago revealed a film with plenty of charm alongside (or, more accurately, because of) it's extreme silliness. One comment - is this the only sixties Luke Halpin movie in which he keeps his shirt on throughout?