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Miami Vice (2006)
I eagerly awaited the release of this movie and must say I was disappointed when I eventually watched it.
Having enjoyed the 1980's series I had high expectations. The series had chemistry between all of the leads, especially Johnson and Thomas. It had humour, great music, and interesting cameos from guests such as Phil Collins and Gene Simmons. It wasn't intellectual but it was good fun.
The movie, despite sharing the same director, Michael Mann, was a letdown. It had a plot that was hard to follow. This was compounded by poor and frequently imcomprehensible diction from the actors. Perhaps a DVD with subtitles may have lessened this problem.
The movie didn't break new ground.
In keeping with the overall theme of disappointment the end credits rolled on accompanied by an insipid interpretation of Phil Collin's "In The Air Tonight".
Bangkok Hilton (1989)
Just as topical today as it was 20 years ago when it was made
If you're an Aussie you will be well-aware of the recent Bali-based drug cases involving Schapelle Corby and the "Bali 9". The latter are clearly guilty and will pay for their crimes, many will say justifiably.
Schapelle Corby's case is another matter altogether with opinion as to her guilt or otherwise being divided. Her case is very similar to Kidman's in that the drugs are alleged to be someone else's.
If anyone saw Corby's reaction to her conviction on TV last November it is identical to Kidman's in the BH with shortness of breath, deep breathing, shocked look. The resemblance is uncanny: life imitates art which imitates life.
Acting in the BH is superb all round. The story is well-written and harrowing, especially given those recent events. One can accept the Asian countries' reasons for their tough stance against drugs but emotions and sympathy for those jailed are stirred in the BH.
It's amazing that this miniseries was made 20 years ago as it could have happened yesterday. Indeed the only differences are that the barbaric firing squad was replaced by more humane lethal injection (just 3 years ago) and that actors such as Kidman and Weaving have moved on to even greater acclaim and Elliott has unfortunately passed on.... and the callous Ehlers has left an indelible impression, typecast for life by me at least.
Don't waste your time at this big top
Boring, cliched and predictable. The only original bit was the Brighton location for gangsters. It is certainly no "Lock Stock etc......." Hannah was likeable in "Sliding Doors". In "Circus" I developed no empathy with his character and couldn't give a toss what happened to either him or his girlfriend. Although this movie was so cliched and predictable the ending was no surprise I was so uninterested I didn't even care why the movie was given the name "Circus"....... Booooring.......Don't visit this big top.
Worthwhile movie to watch
The one constant in Somerset Maugham's short story of "Rain" was the incessant rain and the oppressive, claustrophobic and maddening effect it had on the participants. This effect is translated and conveyed effectively in this movie. The opening 5 minutes are dated and boring but if you get past this you will thoroughly enjoy the movie.
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
The original and the best
Gripping adaptation of Forsyth's novel. Fox's detailed planning is the highlight of the this film rather than the finale. It succeeds in translation to the screen better the "The Dogs of War" which also had a very detailed buildup in the novel. The finale is more realistic than the Hollywood version and the movie is better all-round. Fox's character develops well as the story progresses and one's opinion of him changes appropriately especially towards the end. He's well cast as are the supporting actors. Good European travelogue is a bonus.
Die Another Day (2002)
What product placement?
I was warned about excessive product placement before I watched this movie. Frankly I don't know what the complaining was about. Other than the cars, which are an essential part of every Bond movie, I detected no product placement whatsoever. Which leads us to the story. Sure it's the usual megalomaniac who has delusions to control who is thwarted by Bond but it is done well. It's action-packed, has witty dialogue, the characters are all interesting with the "goodies" likeable and the baddies suitably villanous. The double DVD in particular is good value with the 2nd DVD consisting of the "making of" including interviews with all the cast and production staff.
C'era una volta il West (1968)
Excellent buy the collectors edition dvd to appreciate
Most of the superlatives are justified. Without repeating them simply go out and hire or buy the collectors edition dvd to further appreciate the subtleties of the movie, the symbolism, the inspirations, borrowings and similarities with others.
Schizophrenic movie - but entertaining
Although this movie changes moods many times it doesn't mean it is not a good movie - it is. It is the classic werewolf story transposed into 20th century London. It is laced with black humour "being undead isn't fun", drama, tragedy, action and pathos. The music (all moon-themed) is used to good effect eg. the "Blue Moon" played right at the end completely turns around the viewer's frame of mind. The DVD contains many extras including the making of the award-winning prosthetics/effects. Go watch it - you'll be rewarded.
The Others (2001)
A creepy movie - possibly Kidman's best
No blood and guts needed, just atmosphere, quality direction plot and acting is all that's needed to make a movie creepy. Better than "The Ring", almost as good as "The Shining". Kidman proves that she's more than just a pretty face with good support from the other actors with Eric Sykes, renowned as a comedian, playing well against type. This movie will scare you - go see it but not by yourself. Probably Kidman's best, along with "To Die For" (haven't seen "The Hours" yet).
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Singin' in the rain
Although some features of the movie such as interior decor, clothing and hairstyles date it to the early 1970's, the themes covered in this excellent satire are timeless. Themes such as choice in society between good and bad, insincerity in politicians (and others), aversion therapy. Beware: it features sex, violence and nudity and adult themes. However those who watch will be rewarded. "Singin' In The Rain" will never sound the same again!
Classic stylish British gangster movie among the best
This movie is up there with (Caine's) "Get Carter" and "The Long Good Friday" as my favourite British gangster movies. However it is vastly different from those two eg. voice-overs, black humour (throughout and very funny), the central characters are not vicious killers. However the gangsters are evil nasty characters (I love the way one practices his golf), the plot has many twists (the ending is a classic!) and various seemingly unrelated groups move inexorably closer as the end nears. There are some violent scenes and there is swearing so it's not a "G" rating. Guy "Mr Madonna" Ritchie's direction and feel is excellent as is the involved plot with interlinked "stuff-ups". In this movie he works the new movie genre: a stylish humorous gangster movie. There are Tarantino similarities but this movie stands up on its own. A classic worth the watch. (By the way, an earlier reviewer said that there is only 1 woman in the film - there are in fact 2 - the card game supervisor is the other one and she talks. It's still a "blokey" film however).
Get Carter (2000)
This one's OK but watch it before you watch the original
An OK action thriller rates 5/10 but do not watch it if you have already seen Caine's 1971 masterpiece otherwise you will be disappointed. Stallone's Carter is a more likeable guy than Caine and the ending is different. The plot (except for the ending and locations) is very similar and the later version's production quality and affects are possibly better, its just that the portrayals of the major characters are very different. Personally, I believe that gangsters such as Carter are more effectively portrayed as _ _ seholes as in Caine's characterisation. Indeed, it may be difficult to imagine Stallone as an evil character but then again good-guy Tom Hanks managed it in the "Road To Perdition".
Don't Look Now (1973)
Unsettling well-crafted "horror" movie
Forget the Halloweens, Elm Streets etc, this movie is creepy. Its a well-crafted and scary adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier short story. It uses the imagined and the unseen to unsettle and indeed frighten the viewer instead of the all too common guts and gore. The setting in a flooded Venice in the winter provides a moody and sombre backdrop to the events that unfold. A sense of tragedy and impending doom pervades the movie from beginning to end. Plus it has the excellent Sutherland and Christie in the main roles. This movie ranks alongside "The Shining" as my favourite movie in this genre.
Get Carter (1971)
The original and the best
Spoilers follow: A gritty depiction of a gangsters revenge on those who killed his brother. Caine plays a nasty cold-blooded killer with no conscience. Much more realistic portrayal, including the surprise ending, compared to Stallone's weaker 2000 version. When will Holywood realise that most stories do not have happy endings, especially those about gangsters? "The Godfather"(an exception) was done right but if you want happy endings go see "Sleepless in Seattle" not "Get Carter" (or "The Vanishing" for that matter). Also the lead character does not have to be a nice guy wronged (like Stallone) he can be evil (and therefore more realistic and like a gangster) as was Caine. 8/10.
Sudden Impact (1983)
The 2nd best after the original
Dirty Harry has to track down a rape victim who extracts revenge by shooting her assailants in the goolies before killing them. Probably a more apt punishment would be to let them live after the initial shot and let them suffer forever like she and her sister has...Anyway..... an action-packed story set again in San Francisco and Santa Cruz. The chief rapist, played by Andy Drake is suitably vile and gets his punishment at the end (of course!). Not a classic movie but better than the others except for the original Dirty Harry.
Magnum Force (1973)
The 3rd best of the Dirty Harry series
Watchable film with plenty of action and a good plot about renegade cops who take the law into their own hands when they become frustrated with the justice system. Although one sympathises with the "bad" guys they eventually go too far in meting out their form of justice and Harry has to stop them. Not as good as the original Dirty Harry or Sudden Impact - probably because the bad guys in those two movies are well acted and portrayed as extremely vile and detestable characters whereas here they are just misguided. Nevertheless a good film watchable for the action, the plot, and the lovely San Francisco. "A man's gotta know his limitations".
Play Misty for Me (1971)
Eastwood's best movie - vastly underrated
Forget Fatal Attraction - this is the original and the best. A tense drama with a good plot. Eastwood plays his disc jockey role well. However, Jessica Walter gives an excellent and chilling portrayal as his vengeful creepy ex-lover who expected more than just a one night stand. She betters Glenn Close's performance (which was good) in Fatal Attraction. What makes this movie excellent (as with the original Dirty Harry) is the extreme creepiness of the bad character. I can never understand why either Walter or Robinson never featured in very many other movie roles after both portraying such nasty sick characters so well. I regard this as Eastwood's best movie and give it a 9/10.
Dirty Harry (1971)
Politically incorrect but entertaining
The best of the Dirty Harry series of movies. Modelled on the real-life Zodiac Killer who terrorised San Francisco in the late '60's. Eastwood is very good as the laconic Harry but the movie is "stolen" by Andy Robinson who plays the part of Scorpio, one of the most vile and hateable evil scum you could ever encounter - how he missed out on a place in the top ten film vilians in that recent poll astounds me. Sure it has its share of movie cliches but the movie flows at a good pace and the tension is maintained until the final climactic scene ".....you gotta ask yourself, do I feel lucky? Well do you....PUNK!?"
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
The best black comedy ever
This film is as close to perfect as possible - it is certainly the best of its genre. It has an interesting storyline, one in which we (against our better moral judgements)tend to sympathise with a "serial killer" akin to Richard III as Price murders eight people to get an inheritance he regards as his right. It's well-acted by Price,Guinness who plays the eight victims, Hobson and all the others. I loved many features of the film eg. the cool way Price carries on his conversation in the garden after watching his bomb blow up one of Guinness's characters; his matter-of-fact comments (James Bond style?) after he commits the murders; the twist at the end. "I fired an arrow in the air. It came to land in Berkeley Square".
Gangster movie has it all
Brilliant gangster movie that shows the rise (and subsequent fall)of young lads (Liotta, DeNiro and Pesci)up the crime ladder. The scenes with Liotta are particularly effective as is the general narrative. I liked the portrayal of Liotta's move into drug dealing and his and his wife's later descent into cocaine addiction. The frenzied moments when the police helicopter is tailing Liotta accompanied by the background playing of Harry Nilsson's "Into The Fire" captures the scene perfectly. An excellent gangster movie that has it all - on a par with the Godfather.
Trading Places (1983)
Very funny very entertaining movie - murphy's best?
I loved this movie the whole way through. All the characters are well portrayed: Murphy (at his funniest), Ackroyd (loved that Santa Claus scene with the salmon), Curtis who we see plenty of, Ameche and Bellamy as the amoral traders, and the utterly obnoxious Gleason (as Clarence Beeks) who gets his comeuppance in the end. Funny scenes all through this movie, lovely revenge-laden ending without violence - excellent movie, possibly Murphy's best.
Into the Night (1985)
Plenty to enjoy here in this escapist movie. Goldblum & Pfeiffer are fun in the main roles. Suspend belief and take the exciting journey that Goldblum has with Pfeiffer. Look out for the running joke with many famous directors in cameo roles. Look out for David Bowie and Carl Perkins in a knife fight (is this a metaphor for traditional rock v glam rock?). Although an escape action drama it has plenty of amusing scenes eg. the hoods eating peanuts and breaking candy with their guns.
And the title track and soundtrack by the worlds best blues guitarist -BB King.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
11 out of 10
A classic spoof on "rockumentaries". What makes it good is the lack of canned laughter. If you haven't heard about this movie you probably will listen to it for a couple of minutes before you realise that it is actually a satire and not a serious attempt at another documentary on a rock band. This film knocks the pretentiousness,pomposity,"cock rock" of many self-indulgent rock bands of the '70's (eg. Led Zep's Stairway To Heaven" comes to mind, as do songs by ELP, Queen etc). Many funny scenes including the "Lick My Lovepump" commentary, the world's loudest amplifier that goes up to 11 etc. If you like rock music, go see it - I rate this as an 11 out of 10!
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Redux......It smells like.........victory
Most of the superlatives mentioned by other correspondents are justified. More than just another gung-ho American war movie - a journey into surreality,hypocrisy,hallucigenics,insanity,the dark side of human nature etc.
I thought that the additions within redux were a success - the French plantation scenes provided an extra level of historical perspective; the playboy bunnies attempted to parallel the fact that they were being exploited just like the male troops but this part wasn't totally convincing; the additions to Brandos dialogue particularly were apt, eg. the part about how young soldiers were allowed to kill but not write "f***k" on their planes because it was obscene.
A masterful movie, one of the best of any genre.
15 Minutes (2001)
Disturbing look at the cult of celebrity
Warning: Spoilers follow:- In the days of "reality" TV this movie is most topical. People don't require talent to be (in)famous, all they need do is murder a celebrity as happens here. That a TV show is willing to pay murderers for their story is even more disturbing - this is a short step from reality today. Indeed, this has happened in Australia already eg. with convicted murderer Mark "Chopper" Read and various other lesser criminals - the so-called "chequebook journalism". In this movie De Niro is the victim as opposed to his roles in "Taxi Driver" and "King of Comedy". The movies only weakness is its ending that leaves the viewer with a feeling of satisfaction that the murderers get their "just desserts". In reality it is just as conceivable that the murderers would escape the murder rap and get paid for their story. Nevertheless a good topical story that stirs emotions 7/10.