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156 reviews in total 
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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
I loved it. That's not to say you will though., 19 July 2016

This is a marmite number I would say.

In Drive, Nicola Wynding Refn made a stonewall classic that was so cool, so violent it just oozed class. No real reference points although I think some people found it reminiscent of Heat.

In this latest outing however Refn is wearing his influences on his sleeve and most obvious of them all is David Lynch (in his Twin Peaks/Mullholland Drive era).

Again it oozes class thanks to the superb cinematography by Natasha Braier and this astonishing electronic soundtrack (following up his Drive opus) by Cliff Martinez.

It's achingly slow partly so that Braier can seduce the film's lead ( a very young looking Elle Fanning) with her camera, and boy can she look stunningly beautiful (albeit verging on Lolitaesque).

The violence is slow in coming but eventually it does with an ending that smacks a little of Heathers.

The story is slight. The theme is around natural beauty that only Fanning possesses. Her rivals on the catwalk world, that she breezes into in LA, have been nipped and cut to blazes in a vain attempt to preserve their once natural beauty.

Needless to say, they hate her; the new Queen Bitch.

Overall it feels a little voyeuristic. The treatment of Fanning verges on the uncomfortable and the plot is pretty weak.

But it's a thing of beauty. An artifice. But so what?

Sometimes art survives on artifice alone.

This does.

best kid movie ever, 8 June 2016

School of Rock is actually beyond a classic.

I endured Disney and to a lesser extent Pixar until this baby appeared.

Jack Black. Thank you for saving every Dad in the world from bad kid movie sheet.

It's nothing short of awesome.



Rock and roll.

By 10 year olds.

And Jack Black at his peak.

Just watch it man.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
pitch perfect., 8 June 2016

In advertising among my design friends we call exclamation marks dogs' c•cks I think because they just look rotten.

I like that Richard Linklater uses two of them in the title of his Jock movie.

It's appropriate as the central focus of it is 16 baseball players looking to put that part of their human anatomy to good and frequent use.

As in Boyhood Richard Linklater is light on narrative, big on meaning, and the meaning of this rocking great movie is the three days before term starts when partying on campus for Freshmen, Sophomores, in fact right up to thirty year old ball players, is the actual meaning of life.

And partying means pulling.

But this is no Animal House or American Pie. Sure it's hilarious in parts, but naturalistically so, not slapstick and not gross out.

Just real guys being real funny.

Jake, our hero, is the quiet sensitive type, but plays great ball and has joined the fictional University of South Eastern Texas to do just that. The Baseball team is the star sports team of the College and is feted for this. Free drinks in bars is common. Sure, Jake has a degree to see to (history as it happens) but this is incidental.

The Jocks he houses with in two, eight-bed, suburban family homes are brutal. Well, they're Jocks. (but actually, scratch the surface and they're all big softies underneath looking out for each other). Nevertheless, no taboo is off limit and any weakness at all is clinically punished amongst the laddish, highly competitive banter.

They drink, they blow, they get laid, they drink, they chat up girls, they get laid, they dance (pathetically), they fight (pathetically) and they ride around in cars.

Linklater has a documentary style and this is continued in this movie.

Here's how it opens pitch perfectly as Jake cruises into town with his gear.

Ooh, my little pretty one, my pretty one When you gonna give me some time, Sharona Ooh, you make my motor run, my motor run Got it coming off o' the line, Sharona

Never gonna stop, give it up, such a dirty mind I always get it up, for the touch of the younger kind My, my, my, aye-aye, whoa! M-m-m-my Sharona

The soundtrack is chock full of late 70's/80's classics and their word perfect singing along to Rappers Delight by The SugarHill Gang is a highlight.

For my money this is a better movie than Boyhood, despite the epicness of his achievement. It's an utter delight from start to finish. Covers every teen cliché in history but believably and engagingly.

The ensemble cast (led by Blake Jenner from Glee) is outstanding. The period styling impeccable. The script taught and witty.

It's near perfect actually.

I expect it to win prizes.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A bit disappointing to be honest, 30 April 2016

This movie is not taken on lightly as an audience member.

To classify it as 'entertainment' would certainly be wrong because the subject matter is so uncompromisingly challenging.

I wanted to love it unreservedly for the bravery of its content but I'm afraid I was left a little cold.

The film is shot in square format (possibly 4:3) which is immediately disarming and unusual (the last time I saw this was in the very different Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel) and it's used effectively because it gives the viewer a voyeuristic look into the mayhem that is Dachau where the movie is set. It also helps the director from a budgetary point of view because it eschews the need for expensive wide shots.

The opening scenes are astonishingly harrowing as we see the "pieces" of Jewish bodies essentially processed through the factory of death with disturbing, off screen, dog barks, German soldier orders and mechanical noise. It's brutal and affecting in the extreme.

In some ways this is what I grotesquely wanted from the movie. I wanted to be horrified like no horror movie could achieve.

Forgive me for this but it didn't happen. Yes, the mood was grotesque thanks, in particular, to the extraordinary sound design, but on screen I felt it shirked its potential too much.

In the end this voyeuristic cinematography ultimately becomes both tiresome and limiting.

The fundamental weakness of the movie, in my opinion, is in the storyline. Frankly it's not that credible and doesn't stack up. The main protagonist (Saul) discovers his (illegitimate?) son as a gas chamber survivor and smuggles him out of the situation to seek a Rabbi to give him a proper Jewish burial.

This leads to a sequence of events that side stories with an undercover camp breakout in which he is also inexplicably involved.

Sorry, it's not credible.

And Géza Röhrig as the lead didn't really do it for me. And so the early wonderment of the movie, it really is very moving, starts to erode and gradually descends into incredibility.

I love what this movie stands for. I respect every iota of it.

I just didn't think it was particularly good overall.

High-Rise (2015)
16 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
Abba's SOS given a great makeover., 19 March 2016

Two thirds of the way, maybe more, into this movie the voice of Beth Gibbons cuts through the mush.

Beth Gibbons is gifted with the voice of an angel.

Her new song, with Portishead, that colossus from Bristol, is a cover of Abba's SOS and it's the first time we've heard her in many a year.

Eight, to be precise.

So when SOS is delivered, a la Human League's Travelogue/Reproduction era, with those early doors synthesisers sparkling through the cinema speakers, it's like God sent us a little gift.

It's miraculous. Beautiful.

The song stripped to its bones and crafted back to life outrageously.

The trouble is, it's set in the midst of an utterly parlous movie. A film so bereft of greatness that it is pearls within swine.

I love you Beth Gibbons.

But sorry Ben Wheatley - you mucked up. Big style.

This movie is otherwise horrendous.


But the poster (the unofficial one) is great.

I suppose it's not surprising because Jeremy Irons is in it.

I'm sitting in the middle on this one. Certainly Tarantino's worst but that doesn't make it bad., 12 March 2016

Tarantino doesn't make bad movies but he nearly does here. t

Te very,very long dialogue scenes feels like he is trying to recreate the schtick he clearly has with male actors with women and for the most part I thought they pulled it off.

The trouble is the dialogue is kinda boring. However Kurt Russell saves the movie by being manically demonic. His character is frankly ridiculous but it's hilarious every time he is on screen.

And just when you thought it might never get going it erupts with a third reel that is truly remarkable. Outstanding car chase and stunts.


1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Why the Big Short disappointed me so much., 23 February 2016

Let's start positive.

Christian Bale pulls another great performance out of the bag.

(Possibly his second Oscar.)

And so does Steve Carell. (Should have been nominated.)

And the music is amazing.

As you leave to Led Zeppelin's crushing 'When The Levee Breaks' you could be striding, like a Wall Street Trader, all big balled and bouffant into the night, wind rushing through your long shiny hair all attitoodinal.

You could be walking into a high maintenance Strip Club to be drooled over.

You could.

You really could.

Except you're not.

Because the last two hours of your life were a mess.

You've seen an edit room meltdown. Let's face it, in places the editing in this movie is just sub frickin' prime man. But I can see why Hank Corwin is nominated. It's original. (But it's style over story telling).

This movie is an economics lesson that wants to be so, so, so cool that you might even start to like economics in such a way that it blows it.

But it forgets one very important thing.

Great movies tell stories.

This movie is not a story. It's SO NOT a story. It's just a mess. And any amount of Led Zeppelin and Steve Carell at his best and Bradd Pitt at his most subdued, modest, handsome, pouty self doesn't save it.

It's a mess.

And that's why it fails.

(And as for Margot Robbie. Oh come on.)

I kinda liked it all the same.

Spotlight (2015/I)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
An important movie treated with great respect and compelling from start to finish., 31 January 2016

"I'm just a poor boy from a poor family" says one of the victims of systematically covered up child abuse by paedophile Priests in Boston "and when a priest pays attention to you, it's a big deal. How do you say 'no' to God?"

The victim might well have added, as I did, subconsciously, the paraphrased words of Freddie Mercury "spare me my life from this monstrosity."

Because let's make no mistake here. This was a monstrosity.

The story is, on the surface, a journalistic procedural about the 'exposing' (no pun intended) of paedophile priests in Massachusetts (Boston specifically) by The Boston Globe's 'Spotlight' tiny hit squad at the turn of the millennium. The investigation is set into motion at the instruction of the ailing paper's then Editor, Marty Baron, played with callous inscrutability by Liev Scriver. It's a masterful performance.

Or at least that's how the movie's billed. In actual fact it becomes a complete deconstruction of the 'Three Estates' and commentary on their deep rooted self protection; the clergy, the news industry, the legal sector, the monied are all systematically pulverised in Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy's acid script.

No one comes out alive.

Including, tragically, many of the thousand and more victims of this institutionalised psychological 'phenomenon' that is peculiar to a significant minority (6% apparently) of the Catholic clergy, not just in Boston Massachusetts, but the first world over.

That's why this film is so important, because as we bemoan the effect of Islamic fundamentalism of the World order right now the Christian religion has been breeding just as insidious an evil, but from within and of its own, for decades (maybe, no probably, longer. As the movie opens it quickly becomes apparent that Spotlight is a commercial indulgence in the context of falling newsprint sales and the fledgling 'internet' bringing with it, as it did, almost unlimited free 24 hour news. The new editor, with a reputation for cutting the workforce elsewhere, initially looks at Spotlight (a team of four) with scepticism.

They grow their stories at leisure and have an unhealthily parochial attitude towards them. They look set for the chop until Baron learns of a priest who's been exposed and thinks it's a story for the Spotlight team. Apart from eager beaver, Mike Rezendez (another magnificent performance by the chameleon-like Mark Ruffalo) they're initially reluctant because they know the city 'mafia' (it's strongly Catholic and protects its own) will not make the task easy and could, in fact, boycott the title if the accusations are distasteful.

The Spotlight team go for it with vigour. The meat of the film gradually excavates the layers of deceit,and cover up executed by the Archbishop, his cronies and the legal profession who carry out extensive, but not particularly elaborate burial of evidence, misfiling of case reports and the turning of blind eyes right left and centre.

The police are implicated (no, accused) the most senior judiciary (some of them also Catholic) subvert and seal important files.

Frankly, the whole thing sucks.

And then 9/11 strikes, suddenly the world's eyes turn to Islam, including Spotlights'.

How ironic.

It's a tragic intervention in many ways because the team is making real progress; extracting victim stories from grown men, mainly but not exclusively, that agree to tell their stories and closing ion on the legal, clergy and city movers and shakers that are at the heart of the cover up.

But eventually the case resumes and we reach our inevitable and well publicised finale.

What Tom McCathy has achieved here is turn a movie into a fly on the wall docudrama, shot , as it is, in unglamourous fluorescent light for the most part. The lead performances by Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton and John Slattery are selfless. Spotlight is bigger than any of them. ( A special mention must also go to Stanley Tucci for playing the lawyer with a heart in an award worthy turn.)

The script is a whodunit of epic proportions and the content is both worthwhile and necessary and the sum is most certainly greater than the parts.

Praise to the real Spotlight team was ultimately massive (they won the Pulitzer prize for their efforts) but the impact it has had as it has resonated across not just the Boston Globe but its entirety makes this an effort of monumental proportions and the basis of a truly great movie that should win best picture at the 2016 Academy Awards.

Room (2015/I)
3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
So brilliantly conceived and performed it's almost as if you were viewing a documentary., 24 January 2016

Emma Donoghue's novel, inspired no doubt by the likes of the Josef Fritzl case in Austria, 2008, has been rewritten by the author herself for the screen. It's a mighty challenging undertaking and benefits to some degree by not being 'based on a true story' even if the inspiration was so obviously horrifically apparent.

It tells the tale of a young mother, credited as 'Ma' but actually known as Joy (how ironic) played to Oscar winning standard by Brie Larson and her five year old son, Jack, who was born in captivity some time after Joy was absconded by a man entrapping her with the aid of a sick puppy.

Thus begins Joy's nightmare.

At some point Jack is conceived at the hands of her rapist jailer, Old Nick, played by Sean Bridgers. (It's a casting that may have given him some personal nightmares because he's not what you could describe as a sympathetic character). It's fair to say that although Ma tolerates Nick's visitations, she has to to protect her child and to be fed, no Stockholm Syndrome has developed.

The movie begins on or around Jack's fifth birthday.

Jack has never left the room in which he was conceived and into which he entered his insular world. He knows no place other than this, has never experienced any weather (or air even), never played with other children, never been admonished for fear of upsetting a very delicate ecology between him, his mother and the 'room' where they live.

Aside from the nightly visitations of Old Nick for the daily rape of his mother he knows no other human being.

Ma and Jack have a TV, so Jack has a perverse awareness of the 'world' but it's seen through juddering images and is as real to him as martians are to you and I.

But somehow Ma and Jack soldier on.

We catch them at the end of Ma's tether. After five years of protecting Jack from the fact that they live in a parallel existence she's decided it's time for the facts of life and so begins a plan to escape. You'll have seen the trailers so you'll know that ultimately the escape bid is successful and so begins the painful psychological process of leaving an almost feral yet totally sheltered existence into a world that's overwhelming.

Relationships in the family have moved on in the years since Joy's disappearance. Mum and Dad, although both still alive cope in very different ways. The media go mad for the story, Joy finds the whole thing extremely difficult to cope with and we spend a very moving hour or so watching them come to terms with an existence that's completely alien to Jack and totally overwhelming for Joy.

This is a life affirming movie. It's directed with great skill and sensitivity by Lenny Abrahamson and in Brie Larson and five year old Jacob Tremblay we can pretty much believe that this is not fiction but very real reality.

A remarkable film that deserves all the awards that are about to come its way.

Deep respect.

3 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant Tarantino as he parodies himself. Ignore the critics., 24 January 2016

In which Quentin Tarantino sticks two fingers up to the American film industry and thinks to himself; if there's nothing else left to parody it's time to parody myself.

Tarantino's films have increasingly taken themselves less and less seriously. Look back through his seven previous movies and you'll see that he started with a pretty full on, totally original, but relatively serious 'take' on Mean Street type hit men, mafia stooges and mobsters with his only real moment of pure humour being the Stealer's Wheel 'ear scene' in Reservoir Dogs..

Pulp Fiction was a full blown paean to, um, pulp fiction and rather than reaching for the humour button instead drew entirely on style.

Jackie Brown was a stunning tribute to blaxploitation and pulp fiction of a more cerebral kind, drawing as it did on Elmore Leonard's superior crime noir and was an instant classic.

But Kill Bill 1 & 2 started to see Tarantino play games with his audience. This time he sought out humour as he dialled up the violence to ridiculous, but glorious, proportions drawing from Manga, Kung Fu, Bruce Lee, and Monkey to delight all who sailed with him. Death Proof I'll have to comment on only from reviews I've read. It pastiched B movies and Grindhouse. His descent into levity was beginning in earnest.

Inglorious Basterds (war films) continued that journey and it reached new highs with the remarkable performance of Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained; this time Westerns being the genre of choice.

It's perhaps a surprise to see him tackle the same genre two movies running as Westerns are the source of The Hateful Eight's inspiration but, for me, it's actually Tarantino that is the inspiration, because he's made a conscious decision to rip the p*** out of himself in this wondrous three hour epic. Every excess that Tarantino has brought to our screens in the past is amplified in this shoot 'em up, completely joyous and utterly unpretentious homage to Quentin Tarantino.

He lampoons himself by appearing as a voice over, very briefly, on two occasions, thereby giving us his 'Hitchcock Moment" - another nod of reverence to a master of the big screen.

But it's the killings (and there are many) that provide the greatest glee and give Tarantino the most fun. Buckets of blood mixed with suet and bits of bone spray liberally across the set, and regularly onto the magnificent countenance of Jennifer Jason Lee (an actress that's clearly up for the ride and vies with Samuel L. Jackson for star billing).

Cowboys vomit gallons of gore in brilliant fountains of rouge and heads are dramatically obliterated with barely a by your leave.

Even his cast is a parody of itself.

Michael Madsen is back for the first time since being Mr Blonde, as is Tim Roth who was Mr Orange; Kurt Russell follows up his Death Proof appearance, Samuel L. steps out for the sixth time, Bruce Dern does a quick reappearance after Django, as does Walter Goggins who is terrific as the Sheriff.

It's glorious (inglorious really). A pure romp. A very clever storyline, beautifully filmed, hilariously, and I mean laugh out loud hilariously, scripted and the ensemble cast is a pure delight.

From the very first bar of Ennio Morricone's masterful score (in itself another parody) to the last note of the closing credits this is filmmaking at its most uninhibited, most irreverent (the n word appears many more times than any other white man could get away with) and most crafted.

A triumph.

I cannot wait for his forthcoming horror movie.

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