Reviews written by registered user

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48 reviews in total 
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M (1931)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Perfect metaphor for the Nazi Machtergreifung, 26 September 2014

I get my students to base their essays on the collapse of the Weimar Republic just on this film- how the authorities, no matter how well-intentioned, were out of their depth and so the public decided to finally enlist the criminals to deal with an intolerable situation. I also like the idea that for the first time, Germans were getting their news free from censorship from a multitude of outlets. There had always been horrific crimes, but only now are they being reported nationwide. With the perceived degenerate art in which men were cripples and women shameless whores in the manner of an Anita Berber, Weimar seemed to have opened a veritable Pandora's box.

Exodus (1960)
13 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Unashamedly Biased, 29 March 2014

A boatload of illegal immigrants are granted entry into a 3rd World country after threatening to blow up their own women and children whilst on hunger-strike. Showing their gratitude, they then embark on horrific terrorist attacks against the beleaguered British (fresh from liberating Belsen and helping free Europe from Nazism) and the indigenous population. Eventually being successful through bombing and killing, they then graciously offer the indigenous population the right to remain in their homes and shops to be treated as "equals" under an alien system. The final speech, ostensibly spoken in front of the two dead (an Arab appeaser and blond 15 year old Jew fortunate enough not to have had her hands and legs cut out and eyes gouged out) describes the speaker as angry enough to bark like a dog before saying, God help him, that he will one day see all living in peace and harmony. Just before going off to kill more Arabs.

Only one Arab is presented in a positive light- a fresh-faced American-accented chief who is clearly a good guy as he has no problem with giving his people's land away to those wanting all the land eventually for themselves. Morality is never treated when it comes to the Irgun's terrorism, but rather political expediency. Jews are portrayed as blond and blue-eyed in a way to make Americans at the time, a mere four years after Suez, identify with them (in the book all are portrayed as dark in hair and complexion). Scenes are shot at an excruciatingly-slow pace or just thrown in to reinforce the justification of the terrorists (as in one scene where the Irgun leader asks Mineo to relate his experience in Auschwitz, seemingly for the hell of it). The acting is atrocious, Mineo's in particular. I have no idea why he is held up for praise given the unforgivable emoting he is required to do. But then, with such two-dimensional acting (when showing this in class, my students had no idea what Saint was talking about when she complained about her "accident" whilst driving), that is to be expected. Given that this film was made as propaganda to justify continued abuses of the Israeli state, it is deplorable that it enjoys such a high rating on IMDb.

Nosferatu (1922)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Seminal but flawed, 20 January 2012

Those who rate this film a full 10/10 do film criticism a disservice by lowering standards so low. While containing powerful scenes that remain landmarks in film history and have seldom been matched, the film itself is overlong (I have just seen the 85 minute version at the town cinema here in Germany) and, at times, incoherent. The acting alone is a major flaw and makes one question how anyone could overlook the stilted mannerisms and over-acting to describe this as a masterpiece. The stop-motion may have been revolutionary at the time, but it seriously dates the film. Where the film retains its value is in the context. Made three years after the Great War, Nosferatu can be seen to represent a Germany that was untouched by the battles but saw its population decimated by a hidden killer courtesy of the British blockade which saw perhaps as many as 750,000 die of starvation-related illness. Soldiers returned home to a familiar landscape but with everything upside down courtesy of the revolution and constant assassination and coup attempts. Within a dozen years the NSDAP will have taken power and a true symphony of terror occur.

A cult classic, 16 July 2011

Patrick McGoohan (I immediately thought of the Prisoner when I saw a brief shot of a silhouette on a beach without knowing McGoohan was in it- he even keeps saying "Be Seeing You!") and a pre-Police Squad Leslie Nielsen appear- in fact McGoohan directs as well. "The Director" spoken of sounds like 'No. 2" Columbo certainly seems much more absent-minded and even dopey, more interested in a belly dancer than a murder victim. In fact, I notice again that he chats up little girls; two sisters in this episode. He even passes around photos of murdered men to people without warning. Apparently China was thinking of pulling out of the Olympics at the time of the episode! But then, this was during a strange time in history when people would fly by helicopter to ask a couple of obvious questions a 40-second phone call would have managed before having to suddenly rush off again. Chief suspects being told to get their stories straight by the next day when they should show up, whenever they felt like it, at police HQ. Before this can happen, the most inexplicably complex way is seemingly devised to kill them that is sure to only raise more questions than let things quieten (although it is explained). McGoohan speaking in some mock-language to his servants who can only respond in English. Columbo is much more convincing with his Italian! I won't say anything more, but the ending is straight out of the classic Prisoner episode "Chimes of Big Ben.'

0 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
An enjoyable romp, 13 July 2011

I show this in class more because of its unintentional humour than for any serious merit. Tom Baker's Rasputin is remarkable and makes the film memorable. Lenin is played the usual lapel-grabbing way with such lines as "You have the right to criticise me. But I have the right to kill you for doing so." A peasant telling Father Gapon how he just wants to kill people because he's living in a dive of a place. Stolypin waiting an extra two years to get killed. Alexei constantly climbing mountains or falling over hedgerows to be saved from certain death by his trusty minder. And Olivier playing the usual prophet respected by none playing up the role to the hilt. The set pieces are more American 70s TV shows than Lawrence of Arabia, but for teenagers it's enjoyable to share a laugh with.

8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Shock value over quality, 12 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The writers are throwing in the kitchen sink by now. The victim wasn't even a "special victim", so why SVU is wasting its time and resources on the case is left unexplained. What was the point of putting so much effort in presenting a suspect who happens to be an Italian immigrant who has not been able to sleep for 15 months, three shy from what is usually determined to be the time victims expire, only to drop the character and move on? It's no wonder that Stabler himself looked bemused when they were taking leave of him. It was a lazy attempt at a MacGuffin which did nothing to move the plot in a sensible direction. To end the episode with a forced use of 'twincest' also reeks of desperation for scandal rather than imaginative writing. The final nail in the coffin is the re-used music that is heard at the club playing in the background which is identical to that used in the background of the Law and Order: Criminal Intent episode "Purgatory." Even the stock music is redundant.

7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Can they not just settle on a single plot at a time?, 26 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

No wonder my wife watches these episodes twice without remembering the first time; all these plot convolutions and deus ex machinas popping up would confuse anyone. Let's see: A woman is killed by another woman at a party. The deceased (or soon to be) is raped by a member of the ambulance crew. Who then kills himself by smashing a window in a café, running from police with guns drawn into his ambulance, locks the door, and has the police watch helplessly as he jabs his neck with the kind of fast-acting poison one expects to find in ambulances. Sod that, because it just so happens that they stumbled upon him and his partner by determining that they were involved in theft at an open house. But instead the theft just so happened was caused by the mother of the child Olivia is looking after. How many live in New York City currently? I thought things were getting better there... Anyway, this woman is now living in sin with another woman who, out of their minds on drugs, manage to nevertheless completely manipulate the judicial system. Until the other woman is killed by the biological father of the boy Olivia is looking after. But not before another guest appearance occurs involving the earlier suspect in the killing of the boy's mother's rapist. But he just happened to be there. No connection to the murder at all. Then this woman, who is allowed to walk around the streets of NYC at will, connives to have her son taken from a respected pillar of the community to live with the parents of the man who killed her "soul mate." Wait a minute- wasn't there a woman's murder at the very beginning that was supposed to be dealt with? I shudder to think what Law and Order UK must be like....

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Shallow, empty, forced advertisement for nothing, 13 September 2010

The film is forced, predictable, and brainless. The plot makes no sense and replaces plot for machismo. The scenes were thought up to provide self-reverential homages to former action stars; replace the nostalgia for current actors and all excuse for a film disappears. One need only see the scene between Planet Hollywood alumni Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzenegger to see the phony emptiness behind this plastic film- absolutely worthless and meaningless in terms of plot. The actors are given soliloquies to emote with which, no matter the background music, again signify nothing. I appreciate that this was never intended to rival Shakespeare, but at least 80s films tried to engage the emotions of the viewers; this is simply a paint-by-numbers exercise with many of the colours missing.

22 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Just what I've been waiting for, 10 September 2010

This is another outstanding effort by the BBC, from the same producers of Nazis: A Warning From History, Auschwitz, Between the Wars, War of the Century et cet. Many of those interviewed in those earlier efforts are shown here. The actors performing the roles of these historic men are almost perfect, right down to Voroshilov and Beria. The first episode provides what should be the bombshell- the USSR and Nazis working together as partners to conquer Europe. However, I was dismayed to find absolutely nothing at all about Russia's aggression outside of Poland's borders; nothing at all about the so-called Winter War against an helpless Finland for which FDR in a speech in Feb. 1940 complained that Russia was no different to Germany; nothing about the invasion and annexation of the Baltic states. Nothing about Soviet action in Bessarabia which helped in no small part to convince Hitler once and for all to attack. As terrible as Russian atrocities are presented here, they get off lightly. No doubt Rees's book would cover this (I haven't picked up a copy yet) but thought, with four episodes, the first could have at least mentioned more. This is in the end a minor issue in comparison to the overall quality of the series. Nevertheless, overall I was dismayed by the total lack of mention of the Dieppe fiasco which had served as the preliminary to the second front. By omitting this event, the series fails to provide a balanced view of how Britain had in fact tried to carry it out before it was feasible. The war between the USSR and Japan was completely jettisoned; as Max Hastings pointed out in his outstanding book Retribution, the USSR fought its own war completely outside the US; it didn't end its war when the series states the war ended on August 15. By failing to mention the Soviet army's sacrifice, again we only see half the story. I feel too that the Poles, who were the the most aggressive of all European nations in attacking Vilnius, Teschen, Melma, Silesia, Russia, the Czechs again at Munich etc, were made out to be martyrs when the land that was taken from them by the Soviets had, after all, been stolen through acts of wantan aggression only the decade before. Finally, despite the title, the last episode goes beyond a discussion of the alliance against the Nazis, but far too little on the origins of the Cold War to justify such a diversion. No mention, at all, was made of the Fulton Speech of March 5, 1946. Nothing at all about the Marshall Plan or a real discussion of the Truman Doctrine before it. Berlin Blockade? NATO? Korea? Lacking such crucial events, I honestly can't understand why an episode was devoted post May 8 1945. Having six episodes with which to describe an alliance lasting less than four years, I was rather dismayed by how much was left out. One small quibble I also have is to the use of the 1960 US flag of 50 stars on the cover and in the titles; so much attention to detail is shown in these series that it seems glaring to me (and lazy and the part of the makers) that the flag of the United States is incorrect. One wouldn't use the current German flag to represent Nazi Germany...

"Sherlock" (2010)
22 out of 58 people found the following review useful:
Visually strong with cut-out characters, 21 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My main issue with this series is the complete lack of nuance, of subtlety. Holmes is manic in a way to draw attention to it rather than to use it. His order to "shut up" to someone for simply thinking is a case in point; written in not to develop the story or add to the characterisation but rather to make an empty and quick guffaw. Watson is the not "the perfect foil" as another reviewer would have it. Unlike the stories, his presence is completely superfluous. Far from convincing anyone that this could have been a man back from the wars who has seen more than most, this Watson pathetically gets picked up by the police with a tin of spraypaint in his hand, or is reduced to constantly moaning about being left outside crime scenes whilst Holmes does the work. His expertise and experience count for nothing, he shows no interest in recording his observations or demonstrate anything more than a blank look after seeing Holmes's inductions that he is a character without purpose. The "Blind Banker" was an extremely weak episode not only in leaving none of the characters with a strong enough personality to drag along the pace, but rather ignorant assumptions about China which, although unnoticed by the average viewer, rather put off my Chinese wife whose hometown apparently has a unique code of numbering unknown to her. Having lived in Dalian, the use of Cantonese for people made to come from there was strange, especially given that the so-called 'spiderman' was given a Mandarin term. The music is intriguing but its Arabesque flavour irrelevant to the storyline. This is not to criticise the fine acting, crisp pacing and editing, and impressive visuals. But it is clearly a product of its time- Sherlock Holmes done in an age of advertisements and ipods rather than a fully- textured product. In other words it serves not as a work of its own, but rather is left merely as an interesting retelling without adding to the tale.

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