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Wilfred1

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6 reviews in total 
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19 out of 39 people found the following review useful:
Naive, Implausible, Shallow Nonsense (apart from that it's a decent movie), 11 June 2005
2/10

I'm easily pleased in the cinema, I promise you, but after an hour of Die Fetten Jahre Sind Vorbei, known over here in Limeyland as The Edukators, I was ready to leave. Respect for social niceties bade me stay (my wife wouldn't have been pleased to have been left in Derby without the car, and no means of getting home), in addition to the fact that I have never left a movie prematurely anyway, but I could easily have broken my duck here.

This is almost a bad movie, its single redeeming feature being the excellent acting throughout, of Bruhl, Jensch, Erceg and Burghart Klaussner, particularly, in his role as the kidnapped Hardenburg. There are three deficiencies and they are all considerable. First and least, the first hour is slow and turgid. In short, we learn of a futile pseudo-revolutionary, young double-act, the self-styled Edukators. We learn what they do and we watch while Peter, essentially a good looking, shallow dope, lose his girl to the sullen Jan. Talking of shallow, were I not myself sufficiently weak as to be a willing target for the considerable visual charms of Julia Jensch as Jule, I'd have caught up on some sleep, I'm sure.

Problem two involves the plotting. It's asinine throughout the movie. The narrative development depends upon the retrieval of a left-behind phone – oh, crikey – and at the end, an implausible move by Hardenburg. The three-second shot of his supposed agonising next to a packet of cigarettes was laughable. Whilst it's fair to say that human beings are nothing if not strange, illogical and outright daft, if writers Held (and director) Weingartner had held their nerve, the film could have ended as a pleasant, if lightweight and flawed (see problem 3) piece. However, they chose to go for an endgame clever-clever flourish that had me frothing at the mouth and scowling as the credits rolled (a difficult trick to pull off simultaneously).

Character and plot are like Siamese twins. Held and Weingartner's plot is badly wrong because they allow their characters to behave in ways that stretch credulity. The hard-nosed renegade Jan allows his attraction to Jule to break activist vows. Jan and Peter fall out, then resurrect their friendship for the sake of politics. Hardenburg decides to change his attitude to his kidnappers (as already referred to above). Here for this author, were three rank bad writing moves where the writers failed to let their characters – very well created, to be fair – to be true to themselves. If they want to make the point that humans do act irrationally, they didn't set it up conscientiously.

Worst of all we have the appallingly unbelievable spectacle of the bourgeois Hardenburg revealing himself to have once been the associate of the Beider Meinhof terrorists. Unless Held/Weingartner have him lying through his teeth, then this was like Mickey Mouse trying to convince us that really, he was Tsar Nicholas II. If he was lying, then it wasn't remotely hinted at in any way in the script or body language of the actors. This was rank bad stuff.

Thirdly: if characterisation was poor in the movie (leading to disastrous plot moves), then the thematic content here in terms of modern young attitudes to 21st century materialism, was nothing better than GCSE level stuff. We see Edukators shake their political thing, breaking and entering, and whatnot; this is merely dull; to hear them expound their philosophy to Hardenburg was excruciating. The outlaws would have been better deployed so as to make a study in socio-political immaturity. The writers came over as being sympathetic to their counter-cultural philosophies through atrociously amateurish dialogue. I wouldn't have followed the trio down to the corner to buy a bar of chocolate, let alone man the barricades. It was all I could do to stop myself shouting, "Go out and get a bloody job!" at the screen. Admittedly, my view is skewed by my own bourgeois materialist attitudes, but really, after a hundred years of cinema, anyone making a movie, expecting anyone with a shred of intellect and a movie-going back story has to be and do better than this.

One final point: anyone making a movie these days also has to do better than dump Buckley singing 'Hallelujah' onto the soundtrack, hoping that we're not noticing what a miserable cliché that is. CWT

169 out of 182 people found the following review useful:
Movie-Making Of The Highest Order, 6 March 2005
10/10

I'm somewhat taken aback by a lot of the criticisms of this masterpiece. It is a masterpiece in my view, and that "fact" occurred to me only when examining the cries by the writers here. I found myself dismissing every single one of them without difficulty.

Firstly, I am aghast at those who are not happy with films that produce an emotional reaction on the part of the movie-goer, as if to make an emotive piece of work is somehow limp or uncool or a cop-out. The best films are those that mirror humanity, whether that be in terms of violence committed by Man/Woman to Man/Woman, love, hate, envy, ambition and the others which make up the full range. Let us be clear: any film that deals with pain and heartbreak is not one that is choosing a soft option. How many of us do not feel pain and heartbreak? None of us presumably, so to state the obvious, this is valid ground for the modern writer and director to tread.

The difficulty for the film-maker in 2005 is finding the money to make a piece of work that is not compromised by commerce: to use music, action and dialogue in a clichéd manner to satisfy the warped idea of producers that the masses will only pay money for films that use such devices. Auerbach manages in this movie to almost completely avoid these pitfalls. There is no sex, no bulging orchestral interventions, no truly happy ending. I would however have removed the awful song by the awful Damien Rice and taken the dopey look off Emily Mortimer's face when she realised that the stranger was a decent guy as well as a bit of alright, but these in the end are trifles; for the director makes us emote without manipulation and without using plot devices which strain credulity (I don't care what any of you think).

Critics here are being too cynical. The searing melancholy of Bergman might satisfy them I suspect, but they seem to be missing the fact that there is precious little humour in this movie. The Mortimer character here is almost humourless enough for a Bergman movie, as is the Stranger for the most part, so the criticism of mawkishness isn't remotely credible. The mother is also a fairly grim presence. Auerbach could easily have tweaked her film to emphasise or exaggerate the sense of internal pain of all three leads, but she happily and smartly eschews still shots of these nomadic characters wallowing in their isolation. Instead, their internal lives are displayed with a greater sense of reality. There is a humdrum quality to their lives which is as it should be if a director is shooting for naturalism. Contrast this with Leigh's Vera Drake where for more verisimilitude, there should have been more dirt, more roughness to the people and their homes. True the working class often prided themselves on cleanliness, but in the terraced house in Tottehnam I encountered in the late-50s and early-60s you smell the lack of true cleanliness and see it too.

In terms of characterisation Auerbach also got things right. Far from The Stranger being too handsome, handsome people can be found anywhere, and he's a scruff! Furthermore, the idea that he is Mr Perfect is risible. He is emotionally stunted initially, callous and unfeeling in his first meeting with Mortimer, and for me - not that I know any seaman - is plausibly detached from regular land life. The criticism seems to be that is implausibly seduced by the admittedly dysfunctional family unit. I don't buy that. His inability to relate to the child when they meet for the first time is either perfect or too much, but he's anything like the Disneyland father- manqué some reviewers here are suggesting. Auerbach has him thawing out very slowly. The movie too slow? A slicker 95 minute version wouldn't have allowed this. If some viewers have a retarded attention span that's their lookout.

That the Stranger is won over is not feel-good nonsense, it's entirely believable and well executed. Why? Because the father instinct is in all men. He responds to this splendid child in a way that is merely human. Sure, some men would not have responded, so go on, be cynical, but then there's no film. And if Mortimer's search for the surrogate father seems far-fetched, most of us can tell you miseries that the truth of everyday life is often far stranger than reality.

The denouement is magnificent. I'm rubbish at seeing twists coming in movies, and I saw this one accidentally. My reaction (look away if you've not seen the film) when the child first sees the "Father" was, 'he knows he's not his real Dad.' The direction is brilliant, the acting brilliant or Aerbach got lucky. In the end it doesn't matter; this key scene is superbly subtle however achieved.

There are indeed moving moments. The gift of the sea horse was profoundly affecting. The boy's talking to the Stranger to show how he felt about the crucial surrogate fathering that he's just received could for me also have been very, very upsetting. The direction of Frankie at this moment is fantastic: to keep his reaction under control is how we are: in our lives few lose control, weep hysterically or throw the punch. Frankie doesn't here, so tears us apart.

Finally, the real father: moral ambiguity? Life has many of these moments. I don't agree with the point anyway. Mortimer's reaction to the violent father is beautifully poised between the hard-heartiness part of her wants to show him and the dignified humanity the other part of her wants to reveal.

Such precious, subtle moments make for a tremendous piece of film-making. Fortunately most reviewers here liked the movie. If that weren't the case, we might as well all give up and start praying for the human race.

CWT

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Movie-Making Of The Highest Order, 6 March 2005
10/10

I'm somewhat taken aback by a lot of the criticisms of this masterpiece. It is a masterpiece in my view, and that "fact" occurred to me only when examining the cries by the writers here. I found myself dismissing every single one of them without difficulty.

Firstly, I am aghast at those who are not happy with films that produce an emotional reaction on the part of the movie-goer, as if to make an emotive piece of work is somehow limp or uncool or a cop-out. The best films are those that mirror humanity, whether that be in terms of violence committed by Man/Woman to Man/Woman, love, hate, envy, ambition and the others which make up the full range. Let us be clear: any film that deals with pain and heartbreak is not one that is choosing a soft option. How many of us do not feel pain and heartbreak? None of us presumably, so to state the obvious, this is valid ground for the modern writer and director to tread.

The difficulty for the film-maker in 2005 is finding the money to make a piece of work that is not compromised by commerce: to use music, action and dialogue in a clichéd manner to satisfy the warped idea of producers that the masses will only pay money for films that use such devices. Auerbach manages in this movie to almost completely avoid these pitfalls. There is no sex, no bulging orchestral interventions, no truly happy ending. I would however have removed the awful song by the awful Damien Rice and taken the dopey look off Emily Mortimer's face when she realised that the stranger was a decent guy as well as a bit of alright, but these in the end are trifles; for the director makes us emote without manipulation and without using plot devices which strain credulity (I don't care what any of you think).

Critics here are being too cynical. The searing melancholy of Bergman might satisfy them I suspect, but they seem to be missing the fact that there is precious little humour in this movie. The Mortimer character here is almost humourless enough for a Bergman movie, as is the Stranger for the most part, so the criticism of mawkishness isn't remotely credible. The mother is also a fairly grim presence. Auerbach could easily have tweaked her film to emphasise or exaggerate the sense of internal pain of all three leads, but she happily and smartly eschews still shots of these nomadic characters wallowing in their isolation. Instead, their internal lives are displayed with a greater sense of reality. There is a humdrum quality to their lives which is as it should be if a director is shooting for naturalism. Contrast this with Leigh's Vera Drake where for more verisimilitude, there should have been more dirt, more roughness to the people and their homes. True the working class often prided themselves on cleanliness, but in the terraced house in Tottehnam I encountered in the late-50s and early-60s you smell the lack of true cleanliness and see it too.

In terms of characterisation Auerbach also got things right. Far from The Stranger being too handsome, handsome people can be found anywhere, and he's a scruff! Furthermore, the idea that he is Mr Perfect is risible. He is emotionally stunted initially, callous and unfeeling in his first meeting with Mortimer, and for me - not that I know any seaman - is plausibly detached from regular land life. The criticism seems to be that is implausibly seduced by the admittedly dysfunctional family unit. I don't buy that. His inability to relate to the child when they meet for the first time is either perfect or too much, but he's anything like the Disneyland father- manqué some reviewers here are suggesting. Auerbach has him thawing out very slowly. The movie too slow? A slicker 95 minute version wouldn't have allowed this. If some viewers have a retarded attention span that's their lookout.

That the Stranger is won over is not feel-good nonsense, it's entirely believable and well executed. Why? Because the father instinct is in all men. He responds to this splendid child in a way that is merely human. Sure, some men would not have responded, so go on, be cynical, but then there's no film. And if Mortimer's search for the surrogate father seems far-fetched, most of us can tell you miseries that the truth of everyday life is often far stranger than reality.

The denouement is magnificent. I'm rubbish at seeing twists coming in movies, and I saw this one accidentally. My reaction (look away if you've not seen the film) when the child first sees the "Father" was, 'he knows he's not his real Dad.' The direction is brilliant, the acting brilliant or Aerbach got lucky. In the end it doesn't matter; this key scene is superbly subtle however achieved.

There are indeed moving moments. The gift of the sea horse was profoundly affecting. The boy's talking to the Stranger to show how he felt about the crucial surrogate fathering that he's just received could for me also have been very, very upsetting. The direction of Frankie at this moment is fantastic: to keep his reaction under control is how we are: in our lives few lose control, weep hysterically or throw the punch. Frankie doesn't here, so tears us apart.

Finally, the real father: moral ambiguity? Life has many of these moments. I don't agree with the point anyway. Mortimer's reaction to the violent father is beautifully poised between the hard-heartiness part of her wants to show him and the dignified humanity the other part of her wants to reveal.

Such precious, subtle moments make for a tremendous piece of film-making. Fortunately most reviewers here liked the movie. If that weren't the case, we might as well all give up and start praying for the human race.

CWT

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Extremely Sound Michell Outing - No More, No Less, 15 February 2005
8/10

The wild spectrum of opinion on this film here is fairly baffling, even given the fact different folks like different strokes. It's undoubtedly a decent film-those hereabouts who don't like it can have their views quickly dismissed as they obviously don't like serious movies. Pretentious? Notremotely. Camera problems? You must have nerve problems. The playing is fine right across the board. Ifans, an obviously gifted actor when given an opportunity to deploy his talent, presents us with an extremely credible disturbed stalker. Craig is suitably complex here,but the beefcake body is ludicrous: psychology lecturers just don'twork out, folks. Morton is excellent and subtle, presenting the first arty-farty character in ages in TV and film that I haven't wanted to smack across the chops. Bill Nighy was a pleasant surprise: a supporting role delivered with commendable understatement.

The problem with the movie must spring from the eternal difficulties of re-working a great book for the screen: the unravelling of the affair doesn't have its dots joined up for instance. There is the problem of time-shortage here too: the pulling apart of character by the awful opening event and the subsequent stalking doesn't have a large enough pool of time in which to convince us completely and genuinely affect our emotional interior.

This said, I really liked the fact that Michell seems to have steered clear of the clichés of the genre. "Tense, psychological thrillers"? Surely we've all seen enough of those already to last us a number of lifetimes. Though to know McEwan's work is to expect something ghastly around the next bend, the moments that made you wince here still came as something as a surprise, and I left wanting to read the book to see in much more detail to see what happened to the Morton-Craig relationship. This for me was testimony of the skills of the director and whoever penned the screenplay.

Having seen now this and two other films in the last three days (Aviator and Meet The Fokkas), I'll have this on top, well ahead of Fokkas (good, harmless fun w/ great acting) which itself was miles better than Aviator, which excruciates me more, the farther the distance from actually seeing it on the screen. Anyone who thinks Enduring Love is a bad movie should get along to see TA before it's too late. The rest of one's life suddenly seems like a heavenly prospect, a feeling I wish upon all of you.

CThos.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Aviator Wins Bafta and Tipped For Oscar? - Everybody Panic!, 13 February 2005
3/10

I'm all for technical excellence in my movies, but no amount of "consumate professionalism" can redeem this dull, dull fare. Moreover, the fact that it won the coveted BAFTA fills this writer with dismay. It's one thing blaming the praise already heaped upon this dry and soulless piece of movie-making upon the stupidities of "Hollywood" (cf. last year's win for the essentially ephemeral LOTR 3 and that vacuous gaudy bauble Chicago in 2003), but when the UK homeland industry movers and shakers give it the Big Gong, it really is time to panic.

I saw the movie last night merely to see the Dicaprio and Blanchett performances and to check out the whole thing in the light of impending awards and got less than I expected. To start with, Howard Hughes was off my radar aside from "Howard Hughes smiling at the majorettes smoking Winston cigarettes" line from Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974), and one does like to keep abreast of history. But considering the fellow had such an interesting life it was some sort of "triumph" of Scorsese and whoever turned in the script to present us with effortlessly one of the most boring movies I have ever paid cash to see. Though illuminated by Blanchett (and cheered enormously to see mon hero de musique, Rufus Wainwright in the early moments), the thing collapses in the last hour or so pretty much completely as a piece of drama. The lack of care in terms of narrative presentation was truly shocking, I thought. In short, what drama? Where dramatic tension? This by the end was a film dying on its arse. And then one has to contemplate its triumph over infinitely better films last night: Vera Drake is inferior to The Aviator in British judgement? I can only imagine that many of the voters were pulling for Raging Bull and Goodfellas and hadn't even seen the film they were nominally voting for: in effect, this has to have been a vote for Scorsese.

What an utter travesty.

Craig Thomas

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Boys Don't Cry - Exceptional Swank, Exceptional Movie, 23 January 2005
9/10

It's hard not to come back at posters who have given this film such a poor rating when this is clearly exceptional movie making. One wonders too whether some viewers were voting their personal discomfort with the protagonist's problems with sexual identity, rather than assessing a movie. Hilary Swank's is a truly exceptional performance: gut-wrenchingly real, winning you over with her stunning ability to create a living character that is so real one forgets that one is watching fiction. The fiction is merely apparent in this case. The writing and direction too is superlative. There are only 2 problems with Boys Don't Cry: 1) it is so convincing that it is truly upsetting to watch. 2) it's hard for Swank to go anywhere other than down in terms of performance. Having watched her last night in the also excellent Million Dollar Baby, attempting to assess her work for me is very difficult; one can't help comparing her performance to BDC and finding yourself thinking that she hasn't had to produce that much out of her locker. The fault is mine, I'm sure, not Swank's. In short, though, Boys Don't Cry, a film that got almost no release in the UK, is one of the most under-known and underrated movie in recent times.

CT