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36 reviews in total 
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13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Season eight half-time report, 30 September 2014

I'm writing this after watching The Caretaker, episode six in the twelve-part series eight. And what an atrocious series it's been so far.

I speak as a (40-something) lifelong Doctor Who fan. So why the ire? Many reasons. It's not necessarily because of Peter Capaldi, who may be a decent actor. But one problem IS the character of the Doctor, which is all over the place. One example: in Into The Dalek he takes coldly logical decisions, including ensuring a colleague dies; the actions of a level-headed military commander. And yet he now appears to hate soldiers. Huh? How do they square that one? (I'll reveal how they do later.)

Worst of all, character-wise, he's now an idiot, a fool, someone who gets it wrong, as in Robot Of Sherwood. A darker side was hinted early on but more often they just make him look silly and out of step. His companion, or whatever the PC term now is, Clara, is now the wise one, the dynamic one, the one who does brave stuff. Clara was actually quite likable in the last series but is now deeply irritating: Jenna Coleman's mannered, twitchy, doe-eyed performance is enough to make you wish your toenails were being pulled out. Acting-wise, though, she's nowhere near as bad as Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink, an actor with roughly the same versatility and range as a park bench, unable to show more than one emotion, no matter what he is faced with.

And the two together: forgive me for yawning when I'm not vomiting. Their sub-Coupling romance is not only totally unconvincing but utterly boring. Yes Mr Moffat, you're oh so clever with your snarky dialogue ticks and the use of the word 'stuff', but do you really think the kids are into all this talky, tedious stuff that belongs 1,000 miles away from Doctor Who? And having characters continually tell one another to 'shut up' is not only lazy writing but grating and unpleasant to hear.

I also hate the way the Doctor and Clara aren't properly travelling together, and the way he comes to the school or her flat and picks her up occasionally - if there's anything that'll remove any sense of wonder from the show this is it.

Other problems? Well how about the basic stories? Deep Breath was indigestible stodge; Into The Dalek feeble fan fiction; Robot Of Sherwood had people getting locked up, shouting at each other and then saving the day in an absurd way; Listen was portentous and made no sense; Time Heist was a joyless heist caper; The Caretaker was like a cross between The Sarah Jane Adventures and a bad episode of Coupling, a boring, verbose, parochial smudge of an episode.

A major issue is that the show is so full of itself. Bolstered by a wildly successful 50th anniversary episode, it now believes its own publicity. It sniggers to itself, it binge-eats its own mythology, it believes it's so much more than a kids' show, it thinks it has to convey 'socially important' messages. It's forgotten its primary objective, which is to be an entertaining adventure programme with characters we can take to our hearts.

And finally, just to fully ensure that I get plenty of NOs on the 'was this helpful to you' bit, a comment on how left-wing the show now is. It's pro-gay, pro-multicultural, pro-feminist, anti-military (which explains the absurd contradiction in the Doctor's character). Stridently so in fact, so it interferes with, and warps, the storytelling. In short, it's everything the left-wing socialist Steven Moffat believes in. That's why you don't get, for example, messages about standing up for cherished institutions, fighting for what is right as dictated by common sense and human nature, or getting from life what you put in to it. These sorts of messages are alien to the left. (How appropriate that Clara was clutching a copy of cherished left-wing bible The Guardian in one episode.)

But to end on a non-political note: Doctor Who simply isn't as much fun as it used to be, it's not exciting or suspenseful or thrilling. Declining viewing figures may confirm that am I not alone in this opinion.

About Time (2013/I)
24 out of 57 people found the following review useful:
About the worst film ever made, 7 September 2013

I'll admit straight off that I hate Richard Curtis with a passion generally reserved for mass-murdering dictators, but I was willing to give About Time a fair chance and see whether he could in fact charm me. I was wrong, and how.

From the start he makes the bile rise in your stomach. There's a character called KitKat ("who is always bare-foot"); her family have Sunday lunch on the beach all year round ("no matter what the weather"); they even watch a film projected onto a rock on the beach, in the rain.

But things get much, much worse. Curtis basically recycles scenes and ideas from all his previous crimes (sorry, films). We get the eccentric older family member, the kooky friends, the cute and nondescript American girl wooed in a fantasy London, the births, a death and of course a ****ing wedding. Mawkish music on the soundtrack tells us when to be happy, when to be miserable. The cynicism of the project and the vapidity of its intentions would be unbelievable were it not for Curtis's previous form.

Do not see this film. Watch a Hitchcock, a Kubrick, a Wilder, something that is proper cinema. This is an abomination, a dreadful, lazy, meandering, actually quite nasty (how on earth did a film with numerous F-words get a 12 in Britain?), vomit-causing, stupid slice of celluloid which, if there was such a place as hell, would be shown there on a loop.

The Girl (2012) (TV)
15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Unpleasant motives, 17 January 2013

As Total Film magazine said of this one-off drama, "it amounts to nothing less than a wholesale character assassination". They were right – it makes Albert Goldman's biography of John Lennon appear hagiographic.

While it looks great and Sienna Miller is fine as Hedren and Jones captures Hitch's voice well, The Girl is a narrow and nasty portrayal of the world's greatest film director. In its attempt to construct a drama it forgets some important points: people often have to suffer for their art; Alfred Hitchcock was a film director who knew his audience better than anyone, his understanding of the human condition was deep, and he realised that the thing that mattered most was the experience that the audience would derive from his work. If it meant discomfort and long hours on the set, that was a price worth paying – there's no room for fluffy dressing gowns and tea and biscuit breaks when you're trying to create a masterpiece, something that might last for centuries.

To suggest that Hitch unexpectedly sent a model bird crashing through a telephone box window just to terrify and "punish" Hedren, as opposed to being a desire to frighten the wits out of the audience, is absurd. The shoot of The Birds had been meticulously planned for – literally – years, and in any case, why would Hitch risk harming his leading lady's features? The greatest of people are endowed with light and shade, and possess the ability to view human existence from deep and differing positions. Hitchcock was one of these people. This greatness is something to be lauded – not bemoaned and belittled, as was the case with The Girl.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Quite a playlist, 20 September 2010

Four lookalikes perform the songs of the Beatles. And here are the 30 songs they perform, in order:

I want to hold your hand, She loves you, Please please me, Help!, Day tripper, If I fell, Can't buy me love, Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, We can work it out, Nowhere Man, A day in the life, Strawberry Fields forever, Penny Lane, Magical mystery tour, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Michelle, Get back, The fool on the hill, Lady Madonna, Got to get you into my life, Come together, With a little help from my friends, All you need is love, Revolution, Helter skelter, Hey Jude, The long and winding road, Let it be, The End.

A good selection then, although I would have preferred a few more lesser well known ones. I understand the film was a cut down version of the play so maybe some got left on the cutting room floor. I guess it's a reasonable split between John and Paul songs. Sadly there are no George ones.

As a nitpicking Beatlemaniac I found it slightly annoying not so much that the songs are performed in the 'wrong' order but that many of them are performed in clearly the wrong 'look' for the time. A bit of crossover is acceptable, but having the guys sing If I Fell in their Magical Mystery Tour outfits feels a bit weird.

This isn't a great movie, in fact it's barely a movie at all, but it's nice to hear these songs again. It always is. But as always the ear wants it to be the originals. Oh well, I guess there are other films for that.

7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Low key drama of a little interest, 24 January 2010

Here's an obscure British drama now available on DVD.

It is about two 'nightclub hostesses' aka prostitutes working in London. One has to deal with her dad (Hartnell, just before Dr Who) and the other a married businessman who's been having an affair with her.

The front cover of the DVD has Ritchie in bra, panties and stockings and suspenders but there's not a great deal of titillation here. It was an X back then and a 12 now. Her character is a little irritating; Sims gives the better performance here - there's meaning beneath those eyes.

This rather downbeat drama, with flashes of style, is lifted by extensive location shooting. For those who want to see 1963 London it's a treat. Particularly good is the scene where Hartnell walks through Soho amid the flashing neon lights advertising the sexy delights on show. He also walks past a film poster for West End Jungle.

The director did better than this (Village of the Damned) and worse. Now it's difficult to judge how ersatz it is.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
No 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand', 19 September 2009

In 1964, a group of youths form a group to try and win a competition which has as the prize the chance to support the Beatles in concert. Because the director knows nothing about cinema, this insipid, lifeless and cheerless musical drama has these faults: amateurish performances, charmless characters and a non-script that fills it redundant scenes with long pauses, pointless profanity and dodgy covers, mainly of Beatles songs (including Misery, I Saw Her Standing There, She Loves You, A Hard Day's Night, PS I Love You, Love Me Do and From Me To You). Dismally painful, it even shows footage, on television, of the Fabs in 1965 rather than '64.

27 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
RTD proves his genius, 21 June 2008

I have to calm myself down to write this because that was such a brilliant ending to a fantastic episode.

I feel like when you've been supporting a fair-to-middling football team for years and then they go and win the cup - and you feel marvellous, and you say to everybody 'See! I told you we were great!' Because Doctor Who is now terrific, spine-tingling television, with ace acting, ace writing and ace technical values. It is galaxies ahead of the old series, and series four may even be better than the first three seasons of the new one.

For this ep RTD took the Sliding Doors/Run Lola Run template and entwined it with the show's mythology and history (and what mythology!). Tying in everything from the Racnoss to the Adipose to the Sontarans was sensational; to link it forward with what looks to be a classic finale is beyond sensational.

There were so many good things about Turn Left: the unsettling feeling of doom that was conveyed thanks to world order collapsing (and it also made us feel extra adoration for the Doctor); Catherine Tate's strong, versatile performance - she carried the episode and not once were we wishing the Doctor would show up (quite an achievement, which Love And Monsters didn't quite do); the ingenuity of the plot structure; the 'something on your back' terror; and of course THAT next episode preview. Boy oh boy.

I'm not ashamed to say I shed a few tears during these 50 minutes.

2 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
For the politically naive and or lefties, 10 April 2008

A kind of compilation of bits from the director's previous features, this honest, vivid drama gains from its naturalistic performances and observant asides, but has brutal and hysterical extremes that may alienate many audiences.

The director no doubt fells strongly that yes, this is England. As a left winger he will be keen to play up the bad aspects of his country and down play anything positive. Such is his policy on this movie. Don't get me wrong, the film is well made and well acted but to say it offers an unbiased view of England is laughable.

The left in the media love to paint anyone who questions mass immigration as a Nazi or a fascist. It is just not credible to them that the National Front had people in it who were perfectly normal, decent people who felt frustrated about the changing face of their country and the mainstream politicians' inability to do anything about it. Sir Keith Joseph voiced such an opinion. According to people like Meadows, skinhead thugs were the prototype NF members. This was not the case.

Where this film really falls to pieces is at the end when the Falklands conflict is equated with what has gone before. The determination to embed the narrative in a political context is misguided at best and insensitive at worst.

It is really no surprise to me that lesser film critics, who are all liberal left, have praised this film so much, where the odd wiser one, like the chap in the Telegraph, have exposed it for what it is: a blustering, fake, sham of a picture with pretensions to say so much more than it has the genuine intellect to.

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Dire studenty film project, 4 March 2008

Felt I had to counter the comments on this film, many of which may well have been written by PR types or those close to the makers.

Just my opinion, but I thought this was appalling and amateurish and tedious. From the word go I hated it. It's shot on video, which is never a good thing: it exposes the dreadfulness of the acting, it makes the violence look fake, it makes the gore look unconvincing. It looks cheap and nasty, which is what this film, if you can call it that, is.

The gang simply aren't scary either, they're just idiots. The plot is banal. The statements it tries to make about the media's treatment of violence are portentous and unconvincing. The makers would like it if people bandied round the names of other, better films in relation to theirs, but I'm not even going to do that.

Avoid at all costs.

Action (1980)
14 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Tinto goes crazy, 15 February 2008

Wow, I'm the first to comment on this title, what an honour. I suspect others haven't bothered because the film is so incredibly, unbelievably, jaw-droppingly awful.

Now, I love Tinto Brass (kind of - I love the way he shoots women in movies like Cheeky, Miranda, The Voyeur etc) but this is his worst film by far, even worse than Snack Bar Budapest and Caligula. It is desperate. It's incoherent, pretentious, stupid, impenetrable and intolerable. Even the music is dire and often hilariously inappropriate.

Set and seemingly part-shot in London, it offers not one iota of English culture. It's very much Italian - lots of noisy jabbering and angry gesticulating. The 'story' follows an idealistic actor who goes on a strange odyssey in which he meets various bizarre types. That's pretty much it.

Some of the weird and ludicrous scenes: an actress is forced to defecate on set or be thrown off, so men cajole her into doing so; half naked mental patients sing a song with the staff; men with penises for noses and women with cooches for mouths dance in a field. And it's all so utterly meaningless!

This being Tinto Brass there is nudity but the ladies are not shot in his usual loving fashion and there are no lingering vulva shots or upskirt shots. For those interested, here are the sexy scenes available: a woman climbs out of a bath slowly (breasts and bush), a woman pulls her skirt up and panties down (bush) to sit on the loo; a woman dances around wearing only hold ups (boobs, fur); a woman climbs out of a taxi in just hold ups (again boobs and fur); a woman dances completely naked in a field; a couple dance naked in a field.

You may have to see this to realise how bad it is. The dialogue is bathetic, cod philosophical nonsense, and the director displays zero skill in keeping a narrative together. The actors are bad and unattractive.

Quite a mess indeed, and not yet available on R2 DVD. It might struggle to get approval from the BBFC (partly because of the unpleasant and misogynistic toilet scene) but might sneak an 18.

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