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Gary170459

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739 reviews in total 
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Maytime (1937)
Will You Remember : Unforgettable, 30 May 2016
8/10

This is one of my all time favourite sentimental melodramas – seen again tonight after a 20 year gap it's holding up well. It helps that it's always been soft-focus other-worldly to me like most of the Macdonald-Eddy films - probably was in 1937 to most people.

Mysterious old lady Jeannette Macdonald tells old story to young woman setting out in life, with or without her beau. In flashback we learn her tragic history, she had been moulded into a successful opera singer by John Svengali Barrymore in love with her but she fell in love with dashing opera singer Nelson Eddy instead. Some fine singing and lavish production values along the way - especially singing for Louis Napolean and the Maytime scenes - to the logical climax and wishful-thinking ending. A lot of people today may consider savage the depiction of monkeys on chains, smoking, and the immutable law that a woman's existence is mainly for her submission to the whims of her man. Me, I duly note how times have changed and get on with enjoying the film for what it is: One of MGM's most wondrous and enduring musicals. Watch it and weep - and not just for what movies have lost over the decades.

It also helps having a wondrous tune with thoughtful words in, even excellent if hummed whilst having a bath. Will You Remember (Sweetheart) especially as reprised was perfectly built up to – if after over two hours you aren't moved by the torrent of beautiful corn you're made of stronger stuff than me!

1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
For the kids, 22 May 2016
7/10

Back in 1977 I enjoyed the original Star Wars, all six passable follow-ups since have only left me wondering why I bothered with them. This time, for the last time.

The preliminary rolling script tells you in advance all you need to know: it's straight-faced and interminable - by the second paragraph I was glazing over. It's an updated cgi copy of the original, only right down to the corny plot and hackneyed characterisations as well. Although the threadbare Nazi comparison looms larger in this. If you've seen the original and aren't a kid or are childish you've no need to see this – the franchise will survive and thrive without us, and vv. Film companies have long written over 50's out of their plans – although Hans Solo was humorously shown up with Routine Early Onset in here. And just for the record for the kids: don't bother watching the originals either in case you choke with laughter on your cocaine - What you have with this film is something that will live on in your memories and imaginations.

It's a well-made time-passer, but I got so little out of this film that it's made up my mind to watch any more instalments only by pure chance, during post-Christmas dinner subsidence. Let's see, that'll be The Empire Awakens And Strikes Back followed by The Returned Jedi Awakens won't it?

The Busy Doing Nothing Film, 25 April 2016
7/10

This was a pleasant Bing Crosby vehicle, sitting in a comfort range somewhere between Abbott & Costello Meet Captain Kidd and The Court Jester. It was a favourite family film in ye olden days of mine; to which there's no going back.

A young American blacksmith in 1912 relates his story – that he was whisked mysteriously back in time to King Arthur's Court in Camelot, England in 528, where he instantly proved a hit with the denizens and fell in love with one of them, the Good Lady Rhonda Fleming. Great Hollywood liberties were taken with Mark Twain's text of course, intentional and unintentional anachronisms abound. Especially with the flat van Heusen & Burke score – pleasant enough ballads but the only one turned timeless was Busy Doing Nothing. To me, 50% of the reason to watch the whole film now is just for that song, a wonderful 3 minutes I only wish was longer. The irony was never lost on me that Crosby, Cedric Hardwicke and William Bendix were joyously celebrating their freedom on the road whilst simultaneously looking out to verify the kingdom's human suffering and despair! Later on, another irony was that apparently the first American manufactured product on British soil was a gun… Plenty of familiar faces in here to watch out for: Alan Napier as the executioner heads the list, Merlin, sorry, Murvyn Vye as a rather slapstick wizard, Richard Webb playing Sir Nelson Eddy, Joseph Vitale having stopped giggling from his previous film's laughing gas, Henry Wilcoxon never looking more like a brick toilet block, etc. Director Tay Garnett seldom put a foot of film wrong in the '30s and '40s.

I have a few problems with it – the technicolor has washed away on a few prints which can be annoying at times, the sound was never great, the acting variable and the plot veered from inspired to winceable corn, and the ending was too Zen to laugh at – but still, a pleasant entertaining film for all that. Hopefully I'll be able to revisit it again sometime soon.

Spectre (2015/I)
1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Batmanesque, 27 March 2016
7/10

I would rather watch silly escapist entertainment films like this any day over films which disappear up their own arthole in the pursuit of grim meaning. Because of that I'm sure this was the best "British" film of the year even though I haven't seen any other; I'm also sure nearly everything produced nowadays has to be sadistic and/or perverted to have any money spent on it at all. The colour in this is so subdued most of the time for the sake of modern realism it may have looked more realistic to have pressed the monochrome button. Whether it would look more believable is another matter though!

James Bond is on the chase after baddies variously in places like Mexico, Rome, Tunisia, Austria, and London of course with all of its splendid under-publicised tourist attractions. He gets some, and a few women along the way as usual with many slick nail-biting obligatory chases and fights. What more needs to be reported and what more could anyone want of Bond? Daniel Craig as 007 and Sam Mendes as director have helped make a huge improvement in the Legend that Sean Connery left us; those poor quality extended Saint episodes in previous decades that were passed off as Bond are getting more risible with every new episode. Favourite bits: the delicate artiness with Monica Belucci; the sinister meeting of the baddies in the ridiculous banqueting hall; the romance with Lea Seydoux and then the violence on the empty train – I can't believe they'll throw big Dave Bautista away just like that.

If there was product placement it was very subtle - but I personally wouldn't know a Rolex from a Reebok. The whole plot and almost every character in it is nonsensical and Batmanesque with its cliffhangers, resolutions, cars and gadgets but the actual climax bordered on ludicrous and was rushed (among other things there was no fanfare for Q), however there was a lot to savour in the overall mammoth running time. And I admit it - I preferred it to Skyfall.

Stayin' Alive, 20 February 2016
7/10

As soon as I saw Jeff Daniels I realised this picture was going to be Dumb And Dumber than I was initially hoping; most of us live in hope. But at least he makes sense paired with Sean Bean. Serious scientist Matt Damon in a life and death situation relishing using naughty adult words doesn't help. I hadn't seen Robinson Crusoe On Mars for decades either and to see him brought up to digital date was the next best thing – although continually and sometimes hopelessly incongruous 70's disco music kept taking me back to the ye olden primitive days when NASA actually had some of their employees cavorting about on the Moon.

Damon is left for dead on Mars after a big storm and disaster and has to survive and fend for himself until death or rescue. It's all extremely well done, with the usual seemingly minute attention to detail looked after, and is sufficiently gripping and entertaining. All of us millions of news-hungry space fans cheer Bravo! from Times Square, Red Square and Trafalgar Square for CNN to cover this opinion as Breaking News. And great that the making of the film gave 15,000 people jobs and purpose (the end credits seemed to be much more populous), and I only wish there could be many sequels to keep them all employed. But now to delete it.

Unlike Damon I'm not going to have to science the poo out of this but – I would rather recommend the equally corny, escapist and similar film but with more honest human characterisation and emotion Mission To Mars instead. And Jeff Daniels wasn't in it either.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Crimson Cheeks, 14 February 2016
7/10

With an atmospheric Gothic horror storyline and looking very stylish from the clips I'd seen, as a genre aficionado I considered it almost obligatory to see this effort. And I'm glad I've seen it – it was OK and brought back pleasant thoughts of Gaslight, Notorious and Ghost Breakers during the watching – but I also realise that del Toro has a violent cheek fetish. He portrayed one sliced open in Pan's Labyrinth, wrecked one and stabbed another to the bone in here. Whatever gets him through the night!

Mysterious English Baronet and his sister inveigle themselves into American society in Buffalo and whisk away a rich young woman in search of romance and life; who finds only horror and death at her new husband's cold country home in Cumberland. There are expert jumps and gasps galore while their secret is being unravelled – but as usual with this director, he leaves many plot lines unfulfilled. What about the supposed body rising out of the vat of masala – nice thought, but they may have wanted something to show in the unused extras section of the DVD. The cgi cartoonery is generally superb, only the once reminding me of a Bugs Bunny cartoon when one ghost theatrically pulled himself out of a floor just begging for a hooting audience to tell him to Pull Himself Together.

I enjoyed it – Tom Hiddleston always puts in a er top notch performance and this is worth watching at least once solely for him. Best seen in the cinema or with the lights off as even lively party scenes are set in the gloom for economy, sorry, atmosphere. However, as a modern Gothic horror movie it's almost faultless. It's only because of its occasionally childish undisciplined bestiality that means it won't live in my or even probably the collective memory fondly. Unless over time the running time too gets cut.

10 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Not weird at all: It easily holds its own, 20 December 2015
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Against the excellent previous Avengers film I mean. Seen this four times now over the last few months so it seems to be a film I enjoy for one reason or another. It definitely helps that when I was a kid I briefly got into superhero comic book adventures, then left it for other things but think I still understand the genre…and even a few of the plots. Marvel will worry about alienating people who can't keep up, as they first started to in the '70's; but ultimately no one can keep up, including their scriptwriters. However, they're by far the best ones to do their stories.

More or less superhuman Goodies vs Baddies led by a violent peacekeeper Ultron in a breathless bone crunching nail biting 2 hours, mixing mayhem and wise-cracking comedy effortlessly. It's pointless describing anything in more detail even if I understood it: the plot's deliberately barmy but engrossing, with cgi cartoonery used as it was always meant to be used - with many variations we've seen it all before and with many more variations being presently dreamed up expect to again and again. As with the first film there are many iconic comic booky scenes for posterising. Ultron cynically sings I've Got No Strings from Pinocchio occasionally, but the original Thunderbirds were just as realistic to me. Worthy of note is the almost Shakespearean scene on the train between baddie Ultron and Scarlet Witch after her brother's surprising demise.

Highly enjoyable and recommended non-essential viewing by this non-expert non-purist, the running time whizzes by every time I see it. At this rate I may understand it all in about a year's time too. Do Marvel include Howard The Duck in their Cinematic Universe?

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The first fine careless rapture!, 10 May 2015
8/10

It's the earliest extant example of the Marx Brothers work on film, made at the dawn of sound and while primitive still has the power to amuse and entertain all these years later...if you want to let it. It was originally a successful stage play and was filmed in New York whilst the brothers were performing Animal Crackers in the evenings on Broadway in 1929; it shows as being very stagey in acting and sets - but I wouldn't want it any other way. As it is it has an unrivalled historical authenticity and charm.

It concerns a hard up Florida hotel and its owner during a land grab. Groucho was as he always was, the main reason why people went to see this back then, or want to now – his surreal zaniness transcends Time, whether or not he or George Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind wrote whichever side-splitting lines he spoke. His opening speech was meant to soothe his rebellious unpaid staff who eventually break up satisfied: wages means wageslaves and who wants to be a slave? The one-liners are thick and furious from him, very often with Margaret ("Ah you and the Moon - you wear a necktie so I'll know you") Dumont as the unwitting butt, and all impossible to humorously convey in print. Apart from Why A Duck, Chico's best gag was when he announced his first number, Harpo's was in continually pulling horror-struck faces at the dinner table. Zeppo Who? It was Kay Francis's first film, and very different from the elegant potboilers Paramount put her in during the next five years. On the other hand I thought the In and Out of the ladies' bedrooms routine palled after a bit – but over time they adapted and perfected it. The points that Groucho, Chico and Harpo especially were sex-mad off and on set, and Groucho held director Robert Florey in low esteem don't detract from the overwhelming charm and other-worldliness of all of the proceedings.

Ultimately they made a tremendous little film, a record of a time which was fast disappearing, with primitive technology - the cameras were unwieldy monsters which left the cameramen gasping for air after a few shoots – but with such a careless vivacity from all concerned to get the nonsense onto film. Irving Berlin's two songs When My Dreams Come True and Monkey Doodle Do weren't hits for him and also pall after many reprises during the film but are essential in the viewing and enjoyment of this historically important document.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Preordained entertaining sequel, 4 May 2015
8/10

Not only does the Mummy return but his friends and enemies and all the romance and adventure they brought with them in the first film. Stephen Sommers, Brendan Fraser, Rachael Weisz, Arnold Vosloo and John Hannah were back to do the second part of the franchise, this time up against an even more powerful adversary. Parts of the plot are amusingly retrodden from the first part too; and again not much makes or is expected to make sense.

The former servant of Anubis the Scorpion King and his vast army have lain dormant for nearly five thousand years biding their time. Young Imhotep would like to control this power, meanwhile the Fraser's are chasing after them all to get back their precocious eight year old son who has been kidnapped by Imhotep, and to fight Evil with Good too of course. It's a swift film with no messing about but favourite bits out of many include the London Bus ride, the boy's journey on the train, the barmy dirigible flight, the race to get to the pyramid before dawn. With this movie it's only the ride that matters - all the way from 3067 BC to AD 1933, not the reason for it. The cgi cartoonery was laid on with a trowel but usually complemented the action even if a bit brutal at times. Fraser and Weisz certainly had a delightful rapport.

It only worked because it was the same team on and off the screen - take one part of the jigsaw away and you don't have a jigsaw, witness the later disastrous part three. However I still wish it originally could've been a three-film franchise instead of two, simply because we would've had even more of this pleasantly nonsensical hokum to enjoy all these years later!

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Muddled and mediocre, 4 May 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I grew up on a steady diet of science fiction stories, which is my excuse for still watching science fiction movies good bad and indifferent of any era. Star Wars, The Matrix and Cloud Atlas were all reasonable science fiction films, not so this. It reminded me more of Dune, but it had elements within of Terminator, Phantom Menace, even a smattering of the Fifth Element and probably others too. And of course strip it right down to reveal Buster Crabbe's non-pretentious Flash Gordon. This was a film designed primarily to satisfy little girls' little princess wish fulfilment with Mila Kunis playing Dale, Channing Tatum as Pygar borrowed from Barbarella (cheating with rocket skates) and Eddie Redmayne as Ming.

Fed up lady toilet cleaner suddenly discovers that many swift monstrous things from the universe are out to kill her, others to marry her and kill her. Why? Because her recurrent DNA apparently makes her Her Majesty the Queen of Something but also the rightful owner of Earth which is shortly going to be harvested of its human population to ensure the longevity of the current owners. The interesting hypothesis presents itself: will the capitalist owners of the universe of the future value Time more than Money, and will they still be called capitalists? There are other interesting plot possibilities during the film, all sadly thrown away in the drive for debatable spectacle. The cgi cartoon gamer sequences take up the majority of the film but fail to impress – they're generally lame and taken at such a breakneck speed with conflagration in every pixel that it all ends up risibly incomprehensible. I couldn't laugh though in case I felt motion sick.

Kunis's character was named Jupiter Jones - which only made me wish Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews of the Three Investigators could've made an appearance to find out what was going on here. As usual the good point is that it kept a lot of people in a job but what a wasted opportunity to make something entertaining and worthy of its own longevity! At the end of the movie the owner of planet Earth is back to toilet cleaning, almost Whistling While She Worked and surely about to say There's No Place Like Home! I could've forgiven the waste of time if the end credits had rolled to Chicago My Kind Of Town. Colourful but utterly confusing and non-engaging.


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