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3 reviews in total 
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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Curious, surreal and not particularly well made road movie., 31 December 2013

Two-Lane Blacktop has all the ingredients for a truly applauding film. Bad acting, weak script, sparse action scenes and a throw away plot.


This curious little film constantly finds its way into my personal top 5 films over and over again. It's the epitome of B movies, particularly the road movie genre. It borrows heavily from Easy Rider and the romance of an era where free living heroes occupied the minds of young men and women. You get a sense that Two-Lane was something of a swan song for the nomadic road warriors who would live for the road, drifting from race to race as a means to indulge their free spirits, for within a few years with various legislation introductions and rapidly increasing fuel prices, it would soon become an archaic, out dated romantic dream of yesteryear.

The film charts a few days in the lives of two young men (The Driver and The Mechanic) and their beaten up, but much loved '55 Chevy (barely) street legal dragster. Never more than one bad race away from losing everything as they struggle to make ends meet, they enter into a country wide duel with the mysterious 'GTO', a man who is not too far from imploding himself, possibly already deep in the throws of a midlife crisis. Attracted more by money and image than natural skill and pure talent, GTO finds himself goaded into challenging the two younger men in a winner takes all cross country race. So there you have the film then and you know how it's going to end up? The young heroes putting the load mouthed big shot in his place. Well, no. That's the beauty of this film, it never quite plays out to your expectations.

The relationship between the two younger men is intriguing. They play it as more of a professional agreement, finding strength in their individual talents on the road and under the hood. Equally interesting is the relationship they develop with GTO. It's clear that they don't think much to his driving or his flashy, brand new muscle car which he believes makes him king of the road. But you do get a sense that there is an underlying mutual respect from both parties, appreciating what the other is doing and how far they are willing to go to preserve their lifestyle and love of the open road.

It's an uneasy film, always tense and never far from seeing all three of the main characters descend into conflict, particularly when 'The Girl' comes into play, but somehow, they just about manage to hold it together long enough to take us to the end of the film.

Much has been said about how the film ends. Some love it, some hate it. There's no last minute blaze of glory here, just an indication that after everything that had taken place within the film's time frame, ultimately nothing really changes and the hint that these characters will never live their lives any differently to the only way they know how to live life right up until the point where they either burn out or fade away. It's a very brave way to end the film and it's an ending that I personally love.

Two-Lane is a funny little film. There's no glitz, no glamour and no heroics. It's more of a window into a bygone era. It's very much a love it or hate it affair and a fascinating curiosity. Which ever side of the fence you come down on, it's one that you will remember.

There within perhaps lays the films biggest strength. After watching it for the first time, you can't help but feel that it stays with you for days afterwards as you try to make sense of it and explore its quirks in your own mind. If you eventually decide that it's one that you like, I can guarantee that it won't be long before you find yourself back for a second viewing.

A classic road movie that refuses to conform to expectations.

7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
An honest review from a red Manc., 30 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's flawed. It would be very easy to see this documentary through rose tinted glasses and praise it to the hilt, but I came away from it wanting more of some parts of this incredible story of six young footy players, but also wanting less of other unnecessary distractions.

The story is a classic, no doubt. Love or hate Manchester United, the 98/99 season had most of Europe's footy supporters gripped on the antics of this old football club from an old industrial town in the north of England, both of which had looked to have long seen the best of their glory days come and go. Some wanted to see their opposition fail in achieving what even the pundits thought was impossible when the film's namesake began to make themselves known. Others wanted to see just how far this roller coaster ride could go and whether these young kids that seemed to dominate the back pages of the tabloids could live up to the hype.

The film mixes the on pitch dramas with the real life own accounts from all six players of life growing up with Manchester United, including very amusing recollections of how Scholes developed his devastatingly accurate passing on the training grounds and Sir Alex emptying a late night house party in seconds whilst looking for a young Ryan Giggs. There's also quite a heart felt piece from David Beckham and how he tried to cope with the lowest part of his career. Even now, well over a decade later, it's clear to see how close these six are not only as team mates but also as lifelong friends, coming to his defense of the criticism against him.

The problem is the film doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. One minute it's charting the first steps of their professional careers, then in the blink of an eye we're treated to a piece of on pitch action from much later on in their careers. As a fan, that's not much of a problem as what is shown from the on pitch escapades are all memorable moments from that era of the club. But for the neutral viewer, there is no clear cut time line. What you would think would be the natural culmination of their story, the 98/99 Treble winning season is told chronologically, but it's scattered into small sections that the film seems on occasion to randomly jump into. I would personally liked to have seen a much smoother progression through the timeline.

There are a few too many very strange contributions from ex Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Some very thinly disguised (and quite cringe worthy) comparisons to his own political ideas for Britain at the time, which just seemed completely unnecessary and very out of place for a film focusing on one of football's most dramatic stories.

The Man United fans will enjoy it for the interviews and the memories of the 6 grown men as they look back on their incredible journey into adulthood and sporting super stardom. But for anyone else, I can't see it having much appeal. There's probably too much in there that fans of some other clubs just won't want to remember, where as it's probably too focused on the 6 men who will only be heroes to those Man United fans who saw them play during that era for it to be of much appeal to the casual football fan.

This is main problem the film encounters. There just isn't enough for the neutral viewer. The club was much bigger than just those 6 lads and no more so was that true than of the Class of 92 era. The heroics of big Peter Schmeichel, the brutality and determination of Keano, the brilliance of King Eric, the Cole and Yorke strike partnership, the managerial mind games, the relentless late comebacks from being behind in a match but to name a few are all either missing, or are unfortunately a blink and you'll miss it affair. Perhaps the biggest issue that I have with the film is the lack of material from their biggest influence, Sir Alex Ferguson. The little of him that there is totals probably less than a minute of material. It's a shame as together they were all instrumental elements in getting these 6 young players names into the football history books.

I enjoyed it as a Man United fan, enjoying the trip down memory lane and listening to the players tell their story was both interesting and amusing. But unless you are a fan and want to see your boyhood heroes together again one more time talking about old times and what it meant for them, there isn't really much here that isn't already documented just as well, if not better in many other club DVD's and online fan videos.

3/10 for the none fans.

6.5/10 for the fans.

Rush (2013/I)
207 out of 232 people found the following review useful:
Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt? Really??!, 15 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


His performance in Rush came as a huge surprise. This is his best performance by quite some margin, a role which he plays with a great deal of maturity and respect. He plays Hunt with just the right level of arrogance, cockiness, confidence and audacity to convince you that he was real life 70's playboy James Hunt, a man destined to live fast and die young.

Bruhl is superb as Niki too. It's a role that he deserves much recognition for, particularly his accent and mannerisms. Lauda was one of the first of a new generation of professional driver, driving the old playboy characters out of the sport and Bruhl nails this icy determination to succeed magnificently.

A particular nod goes to Christian McKay's portrayal as the slightly eccentric, petrol head extraordinaire, ever so aristocratic but hopelessly financially incompetent Lord Hesketh.

The camera work is spectacular, none less so than with some very creative angles of the beautifully filmed on track action. The brief in-helmet camera shots are inspired, giving you a glimpse of the drivers world. CGI work will be spotted by the keen eyed, but you have to consider that without it that there are certain scenes involving priceless period machinery (the sound of a Cosworth DFV firing up and filling the cinema was worth the ticket price alone) that would be just impossible to film as accurately as they were depicted here with real machinery. As a result, they are able to use the CGI sparingly and to good effect.

The main facts of the 1976 season are on the whole handled very accurately. Certainly, some liberties are taken with poetic licence, but this is still a scripted film and not a documentary. The factually heavy writing of the script along with beautifully filmed and liberal use of period machinery being recorded at pace on real asphalt will be enough to keep the fans of the sport well represented.

It's a gripping telling of the 1976 Formula 1 season, which whilst not sharing the same shear spectacle of Howard's other 'too unbelievable to be true' film Apollo 13, Rush tells a story which would be just too unbelievable in terms of human bravery and personal destiny for any fictional story to be given credence. It's a tale which will be enough to hold the unfamiliar or casual viewer's attention with a steel firm grip to see how the different personalities handle the pressures of life both on and off the track and how rising to the top takes it's tole on these two polar opposite real life gladiators of the race track.

With the lead actors clearly committed to giving their best performances yet and a tastefully handled script, Ron Howard delivers a visually impressive account of events that may well become one of his most respected directorial efforts yet.