Reviews written by registered user
jmlawton

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12 reviews in total 
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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Dismal with "dismal" inscribed on it in filigree., 20 November 2014
1/10

Reviewer Ketzer said (and I've only read this since I came back) "Should your cinema be graceful and insert a break, USE IT, get out, the rest of this thing will seem to last 7 years." and boy was he right. Fortunately my cinema did insert a break, and while I'm home writing this a bunch of poor souls are still suffering.

I thought the tedious preamble to the film went on too long, wishing we could get on to the interesting bits. Little did I realise that the tedious preamble *was* the interesting bit!

The "story" and "characters" were so unengaging that when (as was bound to happen) one of them expired, I looked at the remaining ones, and couldn't figure out who'd gone.

Some people giving one star reviews have said they've done it to balance up the over-puffed 9s and 10s. I don't. This is a 1 star film.

It is abysmal. It is truly abysmal.

Mr. Turner (2014)
6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Not very interesting., 11 November 2014
4/10

I was quite looking forward to what I thought would be an intelligent revelation of the latter part of J.M.W. Turner's life. I was really disappointed. There are some visually lovely shots true enough, but Timothy Spall characterises Turner as a grunting boor, and having decided on that character becomes a caricature of it, in the end communicating almost entirely in grunts. Why on earth any woman would find him attractive at any level is beyond belief, only in his visits to the Royal Academy was there anything to suggest we were dealing with a person with any sort of personality whatsoever.

The film is at least half an hour too long, and really, apart from the visuals, its only saving grace was the performances by Dorothy Atkinson as Hannah Danby, Turner's much put-upon servant, and Joshua McGuire as John Ruskin.

I would not recommend this film to anyone.

15 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Like watching paint dry, only slightly less interesting., 3 January 2013
1/10

Reviewers of this film seem to fall into two camps. Those who think it is high art, full of significant silences, meaningful exchanges, astonishing cinematography and (good grief) moments of intense humour, and, well, those who don't.

It may be that this film is so sophisticated that only those who have refined their critical faculties to a fine edge and learned the vocabulary of high cinematographic art can properly appreciate it. In the same way that some people might be able to distinguish between the exquisite flavours which subtly identify the boiled intestines of different Mongolian Marmots, or who think the finest coffee is only that for which the beans have been eaten and excreted by an Asian Palm Civet (that's true by the way). Unfortunately I am just an ordinary Joe, and eclectic as my tastes might be, I found this to be a pretty pointless, boring film.

I understand that the dialogue was improvised. It's a strange thing, you would think that professional actors would know how to generate dialogue that resembled natural speech, instead we got something on a par with the sort of improvisation a crow uses when it makes a hook from a twig to fish stuff out of a hole. Oh, except that's actually clever; and interesting to watch.

As to the "humour" which various commentators have observed, I can only assume that their measure of jollity is to stare at a blank grey wall for half an hour, and then to turn slowly to a distant image of dead sheep. Laugh? I could have.

So, should you see this film? No.

Prometheus (2012/I)
31 out of 50 people found the following review useful:
Dismal stuff., 4 July 2012
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well really it's all been said by others posting this sort of score, so rather than repeat that, let me try to get to the nub of why this film seems so terrible to me.

When I watch a science fiction film, I want internal consistency for the plot and the (pseudo)science and believable behaviours from the characters.

In Alien, for instance, we know why the crew are in space and so do they. We see that some of them are well educated and highly motivated - the officers and engineers, and some are blue-collar and motivated by money. In general their behaviours back up these characters. When the exploratory team leaves to investigate the alien ship, you really feel the environment, they act the way you think they might. When they come back with Kane and the "face sucker" there are sterile procedures which Ripley tries to enforce. We see how these get overridden, we believe.

There is none of this in Prometheus. Everyone is a cypher, from the ice blonde controller (who oh gosh is Wayland's daughter - didn't spot that coming)through the android to the gung-ho black pilot - who should actually have been chawin' a big ceegar like the top-sergeant in Aliens, to really stamp the card.

No one behaves logically in the face of any external threat, and there are bizarre holes in the pseudoscience for no apparent reason.

I said I wasn't going to list all the faults that others have done before me, but they are peppered throughout this atrocious "B" movie. Only worth 3* because of the visuals, but that's no reason to go and see it. In fact, I just demoted it to a 2*

29 out of 58 people found the following review useful:
Dismal stuff., 14 May 2012
1/10

I usually like the Burton/Depp combination, sometimes a lot, sometimes not so much, but this, I'm afraid, is very poor stuff indeed. I have no idea what Burton was aiming for, but the general ambiance is of a low-grade afternoon TV film aimed at the early-teen market. The female characters were straight out of "Bewitched", and many of the special effects were a mishmash of "Beetlejuice" and "Death Becomes Her" coated in the usual Burton eye-shadow (not intrinsically a bad thing, but now starting to look like last year's "colourway"). There is no character or plot development, the film is neither scary nor humorous. Would uncritical twelve year olds like it? I don't know, but it's not for critical adults, that's for sure. Spend your money on something else.

"Birdsong" (2012)
8 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
A very poor work, 9 March 2012
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like both romance and war stories. I recall, although it is some time ago now, liking the novel, so it is something of a triumph that I found almost nothing to like about this "glacial","turgid" (to steal other reviewers' words) adaptation.

I found the acting in general to be stilted, only two characters came alive for me, Marie-Josée Croze as Jeanne, and Joseph Mawle as Firebrace, the latter absolutely stealing the show from the leads.

Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Wraysford was dire, and where did those awful botox lips come from? Clémence Poésy as Isabelle was decorative but empty. And Oh! the endless, endless staring. Pauses in dramatic dialogue, or as punctuation in scenes of rigour can be very effective. Stopping talking and going blank is just boring. I was watching this on a recording and I don't exaggerate when I say that some of the pauses were so long I could actual fast-forward through them.

Elsewhere the producers have been congratulated for using French actors for the French characters, but unfortunately their English was so perfect that they might as well not have bothered.

The sex scenes were so anachronistic - I mean, we didn't know about oral sex even in the 1960s until someone read Frank Harris's "My Life and Loves".

The scenes in the trenches were marred by the casual way the men treated the officers. in even semi-formal situations (as when entering or leaving the officers dugout) saluting is automatic (but in the British Army only when caps are on) and I don't recall seeing a single one, and no enlisted man would refer to an officer by rank, it's always "Sir", and "Sir" all the time., it's drummed and drummed into you. Actors and directors in war films should have it dinned into them, you cannot say "sir" too often when an enlisted man talks to an officer, or a junior officers speaks to a senior.

The tunneling scenes were also badly realised - some of those tunnels were big enough to drive a horse and cart down, and the obligatory flooding scene , explained as "due to the rising water table", looked more like the effects of the sea or a river breaking in from above. Oh yes, also, when Wraysford sets off the trail of gunpowder in order to free himself from the tunnel, do you not thing he would have put his hands over his ears and turned his back rather than looking down the tunnel straight into the wall of flame. This was, I assume, so we could have the obligatory "tossed in the air/down the tunnel" image.

I think though that the absolute utter failure here is the casting and direction of Redmayne. And that final scene where he crawls out of the hole in the ground and raises his fists to the approaching Germans, before falling into their arms when they tell him that the war is over - what drivel.

The three stars I've awarded are for Joseph Mawle and Marie-Josée Croze.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A series of cameos rather than a history., 7 March 2012
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am not a fan of Tarantino's (I got a third of the way into Kill Bill before I decided it was trash) nor of extreme violence or shlock, so I approached this film with some trepidation. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were only a couple of scenes with the actual "Basterds" themselves being "ruthless", indeed, they could almost have been omitted from the film without affecting it. The show was stolen by Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa, with excellent performances by Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus and Diane Kruger as Bridget von Hammersmark. Landa's mixture of creepy humour and immense intelligence has all the attractiveness of a hypnotic cobra, and the scenes in the small-holding, in the party where he comes face to face with Shoshanna for the second time, and in the cinema with von Hammersmark are sufficient reason to give the film a decent rating, together with the cliff-hanger basement scene. Brad Pitt is absolutely hopeless, his characterisation makes no sense and his acting is bizarre. Apart from the scenes mentioned above, the film varies around the mediocre, but was always watchable, except for the mutilation and baseball-bat scenes, which were entirely prurient, unnecessary, and should disgust any right- thinking person. If your side in a war sinks to that kind of level, well, you've lost.

9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Astonishingly unapproachable, bored me to tears, 6 March 2012

I have been forced to watch the Godfather trilogy by a friend of mine who thinks, as do most people, that they are the best thing since sliced bread. I found "The Godfather" just about watchable, but no more - I would have given up if my friend hadn't been there, but this was completely intolerable. I couldn't follow who the people were (and didn't care) I couldn't relate it to the previous film. I couldn't relate the 1930s stuff to the 1950s stuff. There is no excitement no tension, no nothing. A complete waste of an evening. And it's so interminably long too. I'm having trouble filling out my ten lines for the review, because the film left almost no impression on me - except that feeling that I used to get at school when I was forced to sit through the most boring lesson in the world. And God help me, I'm going to have to watch the third one. Like taking cod-liver oil. Ugh.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Dull and difficult to follow, 5 March 2012
3/10

I saw the critics reviews of this film and thought I should make the effort to watch it, even though I do find John le Carré a bit impenetrable. I think it is the job of a director to make the difficult approachable, and in this film, it seems to me exactly the opposite is achieved. The characters are never introduced or there relationships explained, and the plot is full of flash-backs which are often very short and have no distinguishing indicators (bring back the wavy lines?), so that the viewer can't grasp if we are in the present or the past. I found the first part of the film unbelievably dull, and gave up at the half way point, almost abandoning it. I did go back to it though, and found the last hour slightly more interesting, which I suppose is why I'm not giving the thing an even lower score. I didn't find any of the characters had any, well character, I never latched onto the story, and in the end, I didn't care. I suggest you read the synopsis and then skip through it to see what it looks like, otherwise you are wasting two hours you could have been watching reruns of the Muppets, or something else more useful.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Unrealistic, 1 November 2011

I recorded this when it appeared on UK Channel 4. I was looking forward to it because of all the Oscar hype etc etc. I did manage to watch it to the end, but I fast-forwarded a few of the closing scenes.

I'm nothing to do with the military, but it was just so unrealistic. Gung-ho James going "off-piste" and doing stuff no one in their right mind would do. There are systems for doing stuff in the army and you don't survive long by needlessly stepping outside them. Got a robot? Use the robot! - what idiot puts his life on the line for no reason.

And the Iraqis all appeared to be stupid or weird for reasons I couldn't fathom.

Sorry, this was poor stuff. Read some of the low score reviews from serving soldiers here and on metacritic, they'll tell you it like it is.


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