18 Reviews
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Jackie Brown (1997)
Disregard the plot holes and it's still just above average.
6 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Jackie Brown is one of those films that captures the feel of a 90s LA expertly. Specifically the scenes in Ordell's apartment and the mall. The high production value helps with this. The choice of editing, sets, props, and cinematography pull you right into those scenes.

The plot tends to get a little too convoluted. It contains some big holes. i.e. There would be CCTV all over the mall. The store clerk at Billingtons would have been interviewed by the police. Not to mention the fact that people NEVER get handed a bag full of cash and just assume it's all there without checking immediately. Everything was just too conveniently tied up at the end making the heist utterly unbelievable..

The above issues pale in comparison to the films fundamental flaw. Our bad guy (Ordell) is a much more likable character than the good girl (Jackie). Even though we know Ordell is a degenerate criminal we still root for him. Jackie Brown is given the moral high ground to steal the cash. The viewer is supposed to feel good about her intricate back stabbing scheme. We don't though because it's much harder to emphasise with Jackie. We understand Ordells motivations in a much clearer way. This problem is compounded by the fact that Pam Grier is a mediocre actress surrounded by actors and actresses that steal every scene she is in. All of the other characters are more interesting to watch than hers.

Tarrentino overused 'Didn't I' by The Delfonics too. It got dreary hearing that song played in the final act.

Overall I give a 7/10. Mainly for the supporting cast and the production value.
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The Giver (2014)
Forgettable, bland flick
11 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The Giver shares an uncanny resemblance to Equilibrium, which in itself is a rehash of 1984/Fahrenheit 451/Brave New World. However at least Equilibrium had a real sense of danger and suspense.

This film is one of a long line of dumbed down teeny bopper movies that are dominating the cinemas as of late. They seem to follow a safe, homogeneous formula that most young people won't realize has been served up numerous times before.

I'm trying to balance my review with some plus points, and I'm struggling. Jeff Bridges certainly has a few good moments but everything else about this film is forgettable, and unremarkable. Even the CG is bland.

If you catch this film for free on Netflix, it's worth a watch, but don't pay money to rent it.
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Formulaic Cheesefest
19 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The trailer got me into the cinema and it wasn't even at the halfway point that I realized I'd made a mistake.

The premise is interesting. The outline seemed reminiscent of the dark and clever Cube. Unfortunately this film is squarely aimed at the younger, hunger games crowd.

Pacing is terrible. There's endless exposition and pointless dialog throughout. The characters are cookie cutter predictable. I feel like we've had variations on this story 1000 times. Instead of using a really interesting premise, the film went exactly where you'd expect. Right down to spelling out the sequel for us in the final act.

Uninspired garbage. It's the kind of film Christopher Nolan could turn into a piece of art. It's a pity the writers and director turned this film into derivative mediocrity.
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Homeland (2011– )
Slow and formulaic
5 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Homeland has been receiving rave reviews and I can't see why. It's predictable, corny and incredibly slow at times. Our lead character is a troubled, stubborn, renegade agent who constantly disobeys her Superiors (she also can't stop shouting). This formula has been used in every buddy cop show ever made. Not to mention shows like The Shield, 24, etc. Although this time I found myself siding with the villain. Clare Danes makes for a very annoying and unlikeable Jack Bauer clone who over acts every scene with the same three facial expressions.

The middle east is portrayed in the usual black and white over the top Hollywood style. Then comes the slow pacing, with hollow characters going through predictable motions the viewer has too much time to realise not enough effort went into the story. 24 got away with insane plot holes because it was so fast paced, the viewer is on a roller-coaster ride.

Damian Lewis is a good actor but he has nothing to work with here. As is Mandy Patinkin, their talent is wasted on this shoddy 24 clone.
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Touching story of some amazing men
29 August 2011
What incredible human beings.

Henry Marsh's attitude is astounding, as is Igor's. The dedication they have for saving and improving peoples lives is nothing short of heroic. They have to deal with a system that is in pieces; consultations with desperate patients who have been treated so poorly by the health system that their only hope is incredibly risky surgery. Surgery that has to be done with the most basic and primitive medial instruments. Most of which are provided by Henry himself. Patients have been treated so badly by the health care system, by the time they reach Igor or Henry there is often little to no hope, and huge risks involved if there is any hope at all.

Despite all this, Igor's own government has tried on numerous times to shut him down, rendering him unemployed for 2 years at one point in his career.

Yet both men are determined to keep pushing on and keep helping these unfortunate people. On patient Marian, who had to endure brain surgery with nothing more than a local anaesthetic is incredibly brave. I don't know how he went through such a brutal ordeal. The man was laying there with a pulse of 72 while they were boring into his skull with a cheap black n decker rechargeable drill. Astounding.

It made me feel so lucky, living in the western world with our comparatively luxury health care, and all because I got lucky by being born here and nothing more.

It also made me feel a huge admiration for these surgeons, both of which could have quite easily given up on the seemingly futile efforts of improving that part of the world, and move to somewhere like America where they could command outrageous salaries and live a much higher quality of life.

It's sad that here in the west we idolise singers and football players over truly remarkable selfless people like Henry Marsh.

This documentary really touched me, I hope that I can be even a tiny bit as altruistic as the people featured in it.
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Rampage (2009)
Completely Flat
18 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Rampage as the title suggests is a film about a young man who goes on a killing spree with the intent to cause as much death and destruction as possible.

A film like this which places almost all the focus on one person must have some character development. Rampage has non, we see our protagonist Bill in a few everyday life situations where he just seems like an asshole. The attempt at social commentary was ham fisted, and almost every scene had atrocious dialogue. The conversations between Bill and his parents felt particularly forced and unrealistic.

With all these things missing we end up with a bunch of scenes watching a guy blow up buildings and kill people, it's almost like playing a video game, but less interesting because there is no cause or meaning. The film becomes violence for the sake of it.

Bill is also portrayed as far too untouchable, he possess James Bond esq skills and gadgets when it comes to blowing people up. In addition to this everyone who comes against him is stupid. Police officers in real life know that their pistols are no match for assault rifles, they would not stand in open ground unloading clips on a man covered in armour. Towards the end of the film Bill creeps up on a sheriff in the forest in complete silence, predator style, and stabs him to death. Even though he is clearly weighed down with heavy, noisy metal armour.

On top of this there is the dreaded shaky cam. I really hate this fad of shaking the camera to try and make the audience feel on edge. How about using actors who can act and giving them something to work with instead of trying to force the viewer to feel a certain way?

I have bashed this film a lot so I will say that it's two saving graces are the scenes in the bingo hall and the chicken den. These scenes sparked some interest for me in Bill, and what the director was trying to convey.

The end of the film is undoubtedly the worst part; Bill seemingly gets away with framing his friend for all the murders, just before the credits roll some on-screen text tells the audience he was captured and sentenced. This kind of writing is what I would expect from a 12 year old.

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Boy A (2007)
Thought provoking
4 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Boy A is one of the best British films I have seen in a long time. It provides excellent drama full of thought provoking questions that are cleverly weaved into the story.

The ability for the writers and the director to take sensitive subject matter which many people have strong emotional opinions about, and then craft that into a film that lays out a moral issue in a balanced way is remarkable. Everything from the bleak setting in Manchester to the melancholy score fits perfectly within the storyline.

Our lead Jack Burridge has an incredible back story that is referenced through flash backs to when he was younger. It shows him being bullied by older school kids, and his father. We see the non-existent relationship he has with his ill mother. Jack has become a socially awkward boy in a mans body. I feel that Andrew Garfield should be praised for his very convincing portrayal of Jack. Jacks naive and timid manor, and the internal struggle with his old self comes across perfectly.

The supporting cast also gave excellent performances, one of note has to be Peter Mullan as Terry (Jacks case worker). Terry comes across as a very non-judgemental, loving man who devotes himself to his work. This has repercussions with his own family, the way it's played out is so subtle and not without purpose, it's a subplot that has a key role in advancing the story later on in the film.

The remaining characters have a lot of depth too, and they all feel very real. The dialogue between the characters is always spot on, the way Jacks friends talk to one an other, and how they behave on a night out is very much in line with reality. I found it very easy to relate to Jacks awkwardness which addresses itself again when he becomes intimate with his new girlfriend Michelle.

As the film progresses we get more flashbacks of when Jack was a child and his interactions with his only childhood friend Phillip. Phillip who is obviously more troubled than Jack and has had a much rougher deal, stood up for Jack when he was bullied. They play truant together, presumably in part to avoid the older bullies. Here I can't fault anything either, the two children are written very realistically and it is at this point that Jacks crime is revealed.

The director does this in such a way that we the viewer really question that gut feeling you often experience when hearing about cases like James Bulger. Our instant reaction, that reflected by Jacks new friends when they find out his past is one of repulsion, hatred, and anger. But the film forces us to really question this knee-jerk reaction, and for me personally it did a great job of showing the other side of these kind of crimes and their contributing factors.

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Heaven (I) (2002)
Waste of what could have been a great film
3 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Heaven had almost all the ingredients to make a great film; A good cast, Cate Blanchett giving a superb performance, and some beautiful cinematography. But the plot which is arguably the most important item on the list was one of the most unconvincing, ill thought out stories I've ever seen on film.


In order to accept the story and follow it you have to accept the two main characters, who are both reprehensible. Philippa murdered 4 innocent people because of her ill thought out, cowardly assassination attempt on a drug dealer. We the viewer are supposed to let this slide because: a.) She didn't mean to, and b.) This drug dealer indirectly caused the deaths of 2 people close to her.

Filippo falls for her, and decides to help her break out of custody. He has a bit of an excuse in getting her free, he knows that people high up in the police establishment are complicit in covering up the actions of the drug dealer that Phillipa was trying to expose.

That is he could be excused if he broke her out of custody in order to uncover the truth about the crocked cops. That's not what happens, he falls pathetically in love with her at first sight, and devotes himself to keeping her away from the police for his own selfish reasons.

Phillipa states that she will answer for her actions, she just wants to murder that evil drug dealer. Filippo dutifully obliges with her wish and assists her in murdering the dealer. At which point Phillipa should now turn herself in, if she has one shred of integrity. She doesn't, they both continue to run from the police.

Filippo's father; Remo, is equally unbelievable. Police officer all his life and head of the police constabulary in Rome accepts his sons choice for aiding and fleeing with a fugitive because he is "in love". He even provides them with a chunk of money and offers to help them escape.

The final scene is hardly worth explaining; the police tighten the net around the duo and they again seemingly escape to yet another slow motion piano scored scene. I didn't mention the score - it's poor, the excessive piano used in every scene just drags on to monotony.
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Average at best...
5 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I was a little concerned at the IMDb rating of 5.7 for Beyond a Reasonable Doubt so I kept my expectations pretty low.

Unfortunately I still found it a disappointment. The first thing that struck me was how poor the casting was (except Douglas we will get to him later). Jesse Metcalfe overacted most of the time, and when he wasn't being frantic and over the top Amber Tamblyn would come in and deliver completely flat lines. I found Joel Moore to be an unusual choice, I think his awkwardness is best suited to comedies.

It wasn't all their fault though, most of the dialogue was terrible; C.Js attempt at being funny felt forced and Ellas last line in the film made me cringe it was so pathetic. All of this was hinged on a very implausible plot that was crammed with the usual clichés. The twist at the end had the potential of surprising the audience and redeeming some of the lesser qualities of this film, but it ended up contributing to the implausibility even more.

Michael Douglas was this films only redeeming feature and unfortunately he takes up very little screen time. The way he delivers his lines really shows how great an actor he is compared to the rest of the cast (Jesse Metcalfe in particular). As a viewer you identify more with Mark Hunter than you do with C.J or Ella. Their link is vital for the plot to work but there just isn't anything between them and instead of rooting for our underdog I actually wanted Mark Hunter to get away with it.

My final gripe with this film is the editing and cinematography. There are some cuts when the characters are talking that really throws the viewer off. Lots of fast edits from wide shots to mid shots for no apparent reason, there were a couple of jump cuts when C.J was talking to Joel that just looked like mistakes. Then there is the lighting, something you shouldn't really notice because it should be part of the mood. But often characters faces or certain scenes would be in complete shadow. Apparently C.Js boss at the news station works in a dark room. It didn't feel like film noir, it just felt like badly lit subjects.

If you do decide to watch this film be prepared to roll your eyes every 5 minutes.
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Heat (1995)
THE best heist film ever made.
20 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I believe that Michael Mann wasn't completely satisfied with Thief, or perhaps he thought he could do more and improve upon the genre. He was right, there is no better heist film out there.

The realism of this film is one of the main reasons for it's success. The viewer is taken into this criminal underworld and we believe it all, there is no reason to suspend disbelief like you have to with so many "Hollywood" films out there. Ex SAS soldier Andy Mcnab was a weapons adviser to the film and in an interview he stated that Mann was completely obsessed with getting the realism of the gunfight. As many will agree, the thrilling downtown gunfight is one of the best scenes in the film.

Mann made LA look beautiful too, there were shots that created such a strong mood, and that complimented the characters and the moment perfectly.

The characters have a lot of depth too, we understand what drives all of the main cast, especially De Niro and Pacinos characters. The cat and mouse between Pacino and De Niro and his crew is brilliant, there aren't many directors who could pull off a scene where the two face off in a roadside café/restaurant.

Finally the ending is spot on, I won't reveal it here but it isn't something expected and works so well because of such great character development on De Niros part.
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District B13 (2004)
Fit for purpose action film that could have been better
20 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The first 20 minutes of Banlieue 13 are excellent, the cinematography, editing, and action sequences blend perfectly together. The premise of a crime ridden area of Paris being cordoned off by a wall and left to it's own devices provides a very intriguing first act.

However as the plot develops it's clear that this film posses much more style over substance. The biggest issues for me were how far fetched the film was, and how thin the plot became as it developed.

The bad guys of the film felt like caricature's of typical Hollywood baddies. As for the good guys, it seemed like the director saw their parkour skills and tried to cram as many running/jumping/sliding into as many scenes as possible.

I'm disappointed with Banlieue 13 because it had so much more potential. You can tell Luc Besson is behind the film when your watching it, but it's missing that something extra, the difference between a good film and a great film. For me it's obvious; Luc Besson needs to stop letting his friends direct his movies. He has proved with Angel-a, Fifth Element, and Leon that he can create fantastic films whens he directs. Likewise with Transporter 3, Taken and Benlieue 13 - when he doesn't direct they aren't quite there.
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Brilliant and underrated cop drama
7 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Prince of the City is an excellent film by Sidney Lumet, a director I feel doesn't get enough praise for his work.

I noticed a lot of similarities between Lumets earlier film Serpico, and I was worried this was going to be a bit of a rehash. However once the film got going the story developed in a completely different way. Not only that, it was shot differently too. Even NYC feels like a different city than it did in Serpico.

I was going to go on and explain the plot a little bit, but I really can't do it justice. What I will say is that this film feels very real, and gritty. Treat Williams (our lead) does an excellent job of playing a character who is at odds with the decisions he has to make. At times he overacts a little, but the majority of his performance is perfect. The supporting cast are also excellent, Jerry Orbachs performance sticks out as one that was particularly good.

The cinematography is solid, and the sets are convincing, everything seems to add to the realism of the film. For me this film alone puts Sidney Lumet up there with Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. It's a shame this film didn't get the recognition it deserved.
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Style over substance
6 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The trailer for The Hurt Locker got me hooked - It looked gritty and realistic and the opportunity for the war to be told from a different perspective intrigued me.

Unfortunately The Hurt Locker failed to deliver on the above, in quite a big way.

One of the main issues the film has is that it's shot in a documentary style, this gives the viewer the impression of realism. However in almost every scene there are glaring inaccuracies and Hollywood embellishments that contradicted any sense of realism.

Examples are numerous but two that stick out are; Sgt James "going it alone" by using a smoke grenade as a distraction on the first mission. Soldiers do not do things like this, survival for soldiers relies on teamwork with your buddies, not lone wolf die hard crap. The second instance was the sniper scene where the almost certainly elite ex-special forces soldiers are taken out like sitting ducks leaving the EOD team to clear up and shoot all the remaining bad guys. Not to mention snipering a running insurgent at 850m in one shot.

The other main issue with this film is our main character Sgt James. This is a character driven film, with the plot consisting of us being taken through Sgt James's tour of Iraq. Because of this it is vital for the viewer to understand his actions so we can accept them and be along for the ride. However there is no sufficient evidence to explain why he acts psychotic and puts his life and others on the line with everything he does. There is also no explanation for why he leaves his wife and child to go back to Iraq and continue with his suicide missions.

On the plus side I think this film was entertaining, the acting was good, and the special fx shots were brilliant.

4 out of 10 for me.
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Moon (2009)
Clever Sci-Fi Flick
12 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
*Spoilers Below*

Moon is an excellent and refreshingly original Sci-Fi film. It tells the story of Sam Bell, a lone employee of lunar (a multi-national energy company) who is under a 3 year contract extracting H3 from the moons surface and sending it back to earth. During his daily routine he starts having hallucinations followed by an accident which reveals some shocking truths about his existence.

Sam Rockwell gave a fantastic performance, the story was clever and you really felt like you were going along for the ride. In parts the pacing felt a little slow but I think this actually helped accentuate the loneliness and isolation Sam was feeling.

Another thing I liked a lot about this film was the fact that the robots/computers were not evil sentient beings that caused problems for the crew. It felt more realistic and it also prevented the film going down a 2001 route that so many films have copied.

The modern futuristic but dirty look was really nice too; it felt more authentic and believable.

Overall I give this film an 8/10 - if you are a fan of Sci-Fi you should definitely watch it.
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April Showers (2009)
A wasted opportunity
11 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
When I picked this film out I was expecting to feel some kind of connection with our main character, and to empathise with what happened to him and come away with some kind of minute understanding of what effect the events from that day had on him.

None of the above happened; the film did a terrible job at helping us relate to our main character and his close friends. Even though this film is depicting true events, for the viewer to care and connect with a character there still has to be some kind of character development. This is a key reason as to what made this film so poor. It's like switching on the news and seeing 20 people killed in Iraq. Yes I am sorry for their families and it's a shame it happened, but I don't care because those people are so loosely connected to me.

The acting was average and the score seemed to drone on with little variation. What we are left with is just the events as they happened on the day, which even then were poorly told. There was no tension or fear when the shooting began, and I didn't feel the kind of frenzy I imagine you would get in a situation like that when you don't know what is going on.

Then once the shooting had taken place the film spent an hour and 10 minutes showing people crying. I love films, and I get immersed in a good film - if it is sad I will generally cry. I did not feel a thing watching this film.

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Horsemen (2009)
Started out good, went downhill FAST
10 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
*spoilers below*

The first 30 to 40 mins were good, the cinematography was decent, and the cold and frosty atmosphere created a nice mood for a thriller. Denis Quaids character and his murder case was beginning to get interesting too.

However, it all started to fall apart when Ziyi Zhang's character revealed her true colours.

Ziyi Zhangs English is bad to the point I can only just understand her, this should not be allowed in a film without subs. This was only a small part of the beginning of the end for Horsemen;

The sub-plot between Quaid and his emo son was far too cliché, the "you are never there for me so I'm gonna get revenge" plot line has been done too many times already. Also it's absurd that Quaids son was annoyed at his fathers absence, he was causing it along with his emo friends by killing everyone!

The twist and subsequent dialogue between Quaid and his son puts the nail in the coffin for Horsemen, The plot is just too weak to base the film on. I find it hard to understand the motivation for the people committing the murders, and you never really get to hear their reasons other than them feeling abandoned by their parents.

If the motivation for the killers had been scripted better and had they avoided the shitty twist with Quaids son this film could have turned out much better. The film had some interesting characters they could have elaborated on too (such as the guy who could stab people with incredible accuracy so they didn't die).

All in all it gets a 5 out of 10, not a terrible effort, but Fincher did a better job with Se7en.
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The best Crime/Thriller film of all time
16 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Usual Suspects is the best crime/thriller film out there. It has a great combination of good directing, an amazing script, and a brilliant cast, not to mention the fantastic score by John Ottman. It is undoubtedly Bryan Singers best work.

I have yet to see a film that will stand up to as many repeat viewings. A lot of the films success has to do with the cast working so well together. The films main characters are very different from one and other, but they compliment each other too, from Kevin Pollaks humour and Benicio Del Toros crazy accent/ad libbing, to Kevin Spaceys fantastic portrayal of verbal.

I heard in the directors commentary that the cast also got on very well behind the scenes, and spent lots of time interacting. I think that is partly the reason why they gel so well on screen.

It's not unusual to get a film with a twist in it, but I don't know of any other that pull it off so well. I was lucky to have not been told anything about the film, I happened upon it when it was first released on video. I think not knowing much about this film creates the best enjoyment, the viewer obviously tries to work out who Keyser Soze is, but because so much is going on people don't think too hard about it.

The Usual Suspects is at the top of my favourite 5 films, I'm not surprised Al Pacino regrets not taking the part of Dave Kujan.
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Miami Vice (2006)
Not half the film Heat was
4 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I went into this film hoping it would be as good as Collateral and perhaps even Heat (one of my favourite flicks). It was one of those films I really wanted to like, I was hugely disappointed.

The film is not without it's merits; the cinematography is top notch, there were some fantastic shots, particularly the aerial photography. It reminded me of Collateral in terms of the way it was shot but the visuals were more stunning. John Murphy's score is excellent, as usual.

Having said all that I'd say the plot, or lack of plot is the main problem in this film. The story is very simple, but its told in a convoluted and complex way. I don't really think there is a story; two undercover cops get in with a drug ring and provide transport. Their mission is to expose a leak within the justice system, but there is hardly anything on that, they don't even find the rat. Doesn't seem like anyone is bothered about that come the end of the film. Not only was the plot convoluted, there were some ridiculous scenes which can't be ignored.

First things first, why did Sonny's character start kissing and dancing with Isabella (Li Gong) in José Yero's club? Especially when they knew Yero did counter intelligence. Isabella was probably the weakest link in the film, mainly because you could barely understand what she said. If you have to think about what someone said after they said it just to understand the words it's not good. I'm not on my own here either, I heard other people in the cinema remarking that they couldn't understand the dialogue.

Finally, it didn't really feel like Miami. This is something I don't really care about, but it has to be noted that it felt more like LA. Yes they wanted it to be gritty but they still could have done that and had it feel more like the sun washed streets of Miami.
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