Reviews written by registered user
|7 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Polanski's adaptation of Robert Harris' novel is strong on atmosphere,
humour and Hitchcockian tension, but is pure fantasy from start to
finish. Although the allusions to Bush, Blair and Halliburton may lend
the film an air of authenticity, the locations, drama and plot twists
are a posse of Hollywood clichés. Most of the action takes place on a
desolate, windswept island, to which ex-PM Adam Lang has retired, in
order to write his memoirs - a classic thriller location, and a far cry
from Tony Blair's Buckinghamshire estate. The meetings in motel rooms
and clandestine discussions with 'the other side' are pure Cold War
John Le Carre, whilst the ending zeroes in on a code breaking cliché
which could have been lifted verbatim from a Famous Five novel.
Polanski focuses on intrigue, but Harris' script cannot keep up; by
half-way through the film, our hero 'The Ghost' has learnt almost all
that he will ever know, and his consequent research consists of him
being stonewalled by Lang and his old Professor, Paul Emmet, whilst
founding a conspiracy theory on Intelligence gleaned from a Google
Search. The Ghost, clearly unaware of recent Wikipedia hoaxes, states
emphatically, 'It's true - it's on the internet'. Polanski guns for a
big denouement, but unfortunately, it is only a slight variant on what
we had known for most of the film.
In such a talky film, it's up to Alexandre Desplat's Hermann-esquire score to do most of the work, a role that it fills impressively. Polanski's movie is certainly an enjoyable ride for the first hour and a half, but as it splutters towards a weak climax, where character and motivation come second and third to a supposedly neat plot 'twist', one wonders whether the journey had any point to it at all.
Katz's third feature is a rather sweet offering about a boy and girl
who meet accidentally and form a close friendship over the space of a
weekend. It's best viewed without too many expectations - the rough
cinematography and absence of plot will disappoint some film-goers,
however both the characters and the performances are convincing and
endearing, and the mood is suitably quirky throughout.
Yes, the movie is somewhat self-indulgent; some scenes would have benefited from a trimming-down, yet the narrative flow is unhindered by the slower pace. Although Katz doesn't emerge from 'Quiet City' as a director with an agenda, after his tedious comment on teenage rape, 'Dance Party USA', it's perhaps for the best that he sticks to observational film-making, and leaves social commentary well alone.
It's February 2007 and Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright are back
from the undead and bringing in the new year with Hot Fuzz, a crime
caper, a rural whodunnit and a Charles Bronson revenge flick all in one
neat two hour package.
Sounds too good to be true? It almost is. After the huge success of Shaun of the Dead, the filmgoing community have been hanging on tenterhooks, with little information to go on. And it seems that anyone who doesn't want to watch Hot Fuzz simply wants to appear in it - the film includes some of the UK's most seasoned comedians and RSC actors.
Once again, the movie is expertly made, stretching out what one can only assume was a comparatively small budget. There are funny lines and an involving and amusing relationship between the two leads, Angel and Danny. However, the extra glamour tacked on to the film, in the shape of Hong Kong-style gunfights and heavyweight actors like Timothy Dalton and Jim Broadbent adds very little to the film. The most enjoyable part of all of Pegg and Wright's work has been the interaction between the characters. The complex 'whodunnit' plot is as perfunctory as anything penned by the writers of Midsomer Murders, and merely a distraction from the comedy. And when the final set-piece arrives, it is too late in the film, and possibly too daft to be wholly compelling.
The principal problem with the film however, other than its generous length, is that Pegg and pals have created a product equally disposable as the films they have lampooned. Did they mean to achieve this? Who can say?
Bad acting, bad hair, one-dimensional characters, a truly daft
ending...if this film were in English, it would have been laughed out
of the multiplexes. As it is, set in pre-revolution Mexico, subtitled
from Spanish, it has an authenticity and quirkiness that's missing from
most Hollywood features.
The story is familiar - three sisters growing up, struggling with their emotions, repressed by their ghastly mother. Tita, the youngest, cooks for the man she loves, the immaculately blow-dried Pedro, though he's now married to her sister and living at the family ranch. Cue numerous connections between food and eroticism (much in the same vein as Chocolat, or Tampopo) which provide the film's selling point, as well as the inspiration for its title. The food looks fantastic, and if you like the idea of watching a tormented Mexican Nigella Lawson in a long frock, this is the film for you. I'd rather go out for a meal instead.
As I remember, the first series of this was well-cast and good
humoured, more immediate than 'Cold Feet', and with less soap-opera
situations. Emma Fielding and Steve Nicolson were particularly good,
and even Ardal O'Hanlan showed a bit of range.
The second series was horribly sentimental. Most of the cast were replaced by worse-looking, worse actors. All responsible should never work in television ever again. But they probably don't, because it's a fickle industry.
The funniest episode had a German getting high on the herb and vapourising cows with a shotgun. I remember it well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This Aussie crime caper starts promisingly. It introduces an offbeat
cast of villains, a clinically-executed heist and a foul smell of
duplicity emanating from our heroes' slick lawyer, Frank, aka the
world's shiftiest man. So far so 'Lock-Stock', but the film fails to
live up to these early expectations.
All apparent intricacies within the plot are then swiftly abandoned. Frank, it transpires, is a very bad man indeed, just as our hero-criminals are rather good-humoured, decent sorts. And so our three goodies (Dale, Shane and Mal) go off to work for baddie Frank, knowing full well that he's a baddie and don't seem too astonished when Frank rips them off, stealing their $10 million and Dale's wife. Eventually everyone gets fed up with Frank, and in a truly bizarre final scene, they turn him into a sausage.
The underlying flaw in the film is that it fails to explore the characters or situations in a new or interesting way. Furthermore, there is no suspense after the first hour - the tension seems to decrease as the film progresses. And although the brothers interact very entertainingly, we learn next to nothing about their lives together, making it hard to empathise with them, or to feel that they even deserve their final happy end.
Most fans of Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish's groundbreaking 'Adam and Joe
Show', which played to the student population in the late 90s, were,
I'm sure, fully aware of the pair's limitations. Their sets were cheap,
their impressions even worse, and most of their skits were performed by
poorly animated teddy-bears.
Neither of the pair seemed set to foray into the world of TV drama, so I was surprised to see Adam Buxton taking the lead role in this ho-hum sitcom about a deluded, past-it office worker who despite his years of worthless gigging, a lacklustre fan base, and a band-name that is easily confused with a toilet cleaner, still pines for rock super-stardom.
I've got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about this, so I'll let it fly. Firstly, why are so many music-minded sitcoms so drastically unfunny? The comedy in this show was very, very gentle - the televisual equivalent of easy-listening - and completely missed out on the irreverent, exaggerated spoofing of rock music that made movies like 'This is Spinal Tap' or 'Still Crazy' so enjoyable. Adam Buxton wanted to pull off a David Brent or Alan Partridge-like loser, whilst still maintaining a relatively pleasant character. It didn't work. Secondly, it pains me to see first rate TV-presenters convincing themselves that they can act, when they clearly have no more experience than operating the lighting board for their school nativity play. Adam Buxton's performance was decidedly un-charismatic - an Alan Davies without the charm, an Angus Deayton without the ham. And seeing that he was the leading man, I found this a bit of a turn off. Still, he was five times better than Jamie Theakston. And five hundred times better than Paul Merton. Anyone remember the Paul Merton show? Stick to what you do best, Adam. Just be yourself.