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Holy Water (2009)
A poor effort
One of the weakest films I've seen in a long time. Some talented actors are assembled but the script is lazy and lets them down. They could have literally phoned their lines in and in some scenes they may well have done just that. The characters don't know whether they are Irish or Northern Irish and they sound like neither. For instance the postman's van is marked 'Poste' and looks like a Republic of Ireland post van but seems to be delivering across the border.
Potential wasted in my opinion.
Interestingly there is a huge disclaimer from 'Pfizer' at the start of the movie which must mean there was conflict over the depiction of their product in the movie.
Wide Open Spaces (2009)
Roll up, roll up for the famine theme park................
Wide Open Spaces is one of the UNfunniest comedies I have ever had the misfortune to watch. Gerard Ring (Owen Roe) is a chancer of the highest order with seemingly an endless supply of failing get rich quick schemes. The latest of these being a 'Famine Theme Park'. Myles (Ardal O'Hanlon) and Austin (Ewan Bremner) are flatmates who owe people a lot of money after selling fake merchandise on e-bay and they land jobs with Ring setting up his park.
Characters are introduced all over the place at random with seemingly no thought and all are idiotic. Inevitably disappear just as randomly and with little or no explanation. The dialogue is flat, boring and pointless. The plot is non-existent. The only good things about this movie are the Neil Hannon soundtrack and the fact that it's mercifully short. If you have this DVD and haven't watched it yet pop on the special features and go through them. The bits they have there are ten times better than the movie itself.
Mutual Friends (2008)
Watch it just for Patrick
I picked this up recently in a DVD bargain bin and seeing as I hadn't caught it on TV I threw it on the DVD player yesterday to see what it was like. I found it reasonably entertaining if a little clichéd. The story centers on a group of 'middle class' friends and their various interactions following the suicide of one of the gang. Martin & Jen (Marc Warren & Keeley Hawes)have been married a few years with one child and things have gone stale between them. I really liked Keeley Hawes in both 'Spooks' and 'Ashes to Ashes' but her character in this is so shallow, whiny and self absorbed she is totally unlikeable. Her useless lawyer husband Martin is more likable in some ways but you still find yourself wanting to give him a good shake to cop himself on a bit. Leigh (Claire Rushbrook) is the grieving widow and she carries the part off reasonably well without ever looking like she's particularly upset. Liz (Sarah Alexander) is the ex of Patrick (Alexander Armstrong) sand there are some brilliant scenes involving both of these actors. Liz is a bit of a spoiled type who never seems entirely content with her lot no matter what. Alexander Armstrongs 'Patrick' saves the whole kit and caboodle even though this seems unlikely given his feckless free spirit / would be layabout outlook on life. Armstrong is perfect for the role and to be fair he accounts for at least 5 of the 7 stars I give this programme. Interestingly from about the 2nd episode on I was wondering if it was meant to be a continued series or would it have a neat 'one off' 6 episode arc with things all neatly tied up at the end. I have to say the ending surprised me a little - particularly since a lot of the content was fairly predictable at times - but it worked for me. I was quite please to find here on IMDb that there was intended to be a continuation ie another series but I for one am glad there wasn't. Not because it was bad, just because I think sometimes less is enough. Finally I think 'Sarah' (Martin's boss) deserves a mention. Emily Joyce was very watchable as a vampish domineering solicitor.
Linda Green (2001)
Not the worst
I picked up series 1 on DVD very cheaply about 4 years ago but never watched an episode until this week. I have watched 8 of the 10 episodes now and I have to say overall I found it quite enjoyable. The show was created by Paul Abbott who went on to do 'Shameless' so it has a good pedigree.It doesn't always hit the mark but the dialogue is witty and generally sharp even if none of the story lines amount to a whole lot. But life is like that isn't it.
Liza Tarbuck carries the title role well, she's big brassy and confident - most of the time anyway. The singing is probably a bit overdone, I felt there was no need to sing a full song at the beginning, middle and end which is pretty much how it goes in each episode.
I really like Daniel Ryan, Claire Rushbrook and Sean Gallagher who are the principal members of the supporting cast - being Linda's best mates. I love watching out for early appearances of established stars or cameos even and this series is packed with them. Pam Ferris is brilliant as are David Morrissey and Christopher Eccleston - he plays twins - which I thought was a great storyline. I also spotted Maxine Peake (later to be Veronica in Shameless) as a receptionist in a gym.
How Harry Became a Tree (2001)
When is a feud not a feud?
When it's all in your head! I found this a bit of an odd movie but I liked it more then I thought I would after the first 10 minutes - 'How Harry Became a Tree' stars Colm Meaney, Cillian Murphy and Adrian Dunbar. It's a 'funny tragedy'.
Typically Irish but could easily be transplanted to any nation or any era I imagine. Harry (Meaney) causes a feud when there is no reason for one and entangles his son (Murphy) and locals in a web of deceit and while he plots revenge for many imagined slights.
I am Irish and 'How Harry Became a Tree' is set in 1920's Ireland. I always fear that movies set in Ireland in this era give a very bad picture to foreigners about the Ireland of today.
There is of course a world of difference between then and now but sometimes Hollywood doesn't seem to have copped on to that - 'Leap Year' being the most recent paddywhackery schtick I can think of.
I think 'How Harry Became a Tree' would have been a much better movie if the writer / director / producer etc etc had been brave enough to set it in contemporary Ireland.
The Other Man (2008)
Fails to deliver
Being reasonable familiar with a lot of movies Liam Neeson and / or Laura Linney have been involved in I had relatively high expectations for 'The Other Man'. It doesn't always happen to me but on this occasion I foolishly allowed myself to be taken in by the blurb on the DVD box. Unfortunately as is so often the case, this potentially good movie missed it's mark by a considerable distance. Linney and Neeson are competent (even good at times) but the screenplay let them and us viewers down badly. Neesons scenes with his twenty something daughter were dreadful, truly dreadful. I feel it was trying to be 'Frantic' and got confused along the way so tried to morph into 'Terms of Endearment'. As a result it was neither strong enough in one genre or the other.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2001 - A Space Oddity
I have to say I found this very dull and boring and I did zap through at least a third of the movie to keep myself awake. The only reason I give it a half decent rating is for the special effects (must have been amazing to 1968 audiences) and the cinematography. The story is non existent and the acting nothing special.
It was impossible to feel any attachment or empathy for the characters as everything is so clinical and cold. Maybe that was Kubrick's intention and if so then hey he succeeded with me at any rate. The HAL storyline could have been even better but at least there was some semblance of a story to that bit. The rest no way.
Like at least one other reviewer said already on here this is for hard core SCI FI / Kubrick buffs only.
An underrated gem - probably......
'Heartlands' is a British made bittersweet tale of an ordinary guy, Colin, who is abandoned as his wife runs off to Blackpool with a copper (Colins local darts team captain and best mate to boot).
The tag line reads - an epic journey......on a small scale - and thats quite apt.
Michael Sheen is really good as Colin, very different role from Clough in 'The Damned United' or Frost in 'Frost/Nixon'. Loads of well known actors involved including Mark Addy (Dave in 'The Full Monty' & more recently Friar Tuck in 'Robin Hood') Ruth Jones (Nessa from 'Gavin & Stacey'), Celia Imrie ('Dinnerladies' etc etc), and another from 'Gavin & Stacy' - a very young looking James Corden is a member of the darts team although he has practically no lines.
The wife and her lover are a right pair of selfish creeps and while he was making his epic journey to win her back - on his Honda 50 - I had the sinking feeling of an inevitable cheesy happy ending. Much to my surprise about half way through, the film shifted in tone a little and a variety of possible endings appear. I think the one they went with works as it wasn't the one I feared but neither was it the one I expected.
Trust Me (2009)
A random TV episode...
Just happened across an episode (no idea which one) of this on RTE in Ireland very very late last night. RTE have this really annoying habit of buying random TV programmes from the US & Australia and sticking them into the 1am to 4am slot so no one realises they are on. They don't even have the name of the show up on screen at the 'ad breaks'.
I thought this might be OK with Eric McCormack from 'Will & Grace' and yer man from 'Ed'but it wasn't really very good and so it was no surprise at all when Ifound this note on the internet today (after I searched IMDb for the title of course :-)
'On Friday, April 10th, 2009, the New York Times reported that TNT opted out of renewing Trust Me for a second season due to low ratings.'
I wont be watching any more of it then.....
Man on Wire (2008)
Top class documentary
Hands up if you had ever heard of Philippe Petit before the release of this fantastic documentary 'Man on Wire'. I certainly hadn't but after watching this I will never forget him.
Philippe Petit (now 60) is an amazing high wire walker and had already performed unbelievably dangerous high wire walks in Paris and on Sydney Harbour bridge before he came up with the most audacious high wire plan of all time - to walk between the twin towers of the World Trade centre in 1974.
'Man on Wire' is truly a breathtaking experience from start to finish. I was absolutely engrossed from the first minute. Director James Marsh has assembled an incredibly beautiful combination of images using rare footage, live interviews, recreated scenes and still photography.
The film is set up like a heist movie, (Danny Ocean himself couldn't top this one though), we get to see the detailed thoughts, ideas, training and preparation of all the participants over a few years in intimate detail and I really had a sense of wonderment throughout the entire thing. Undoubtedly a fantastic movie and Michael Nyman's haunting and emotive score was the cherry on top.