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runamokprods

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875 reviews in total 
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127 Hours (2010)
Masterfully directed and acted, 7 October 2013
9/10

On one level there's no reason this film should work as well as it does. The story is public knowledge so there's no real suspense in the traditional sense. But between the brilliant direction by Danny Boyle, and the smashing performance by James Franco this transcends to be not a film of suspense, but a character study of a very real, flawed but likable person in a nightmare situation any of us can imagine. We descend into his lonely hell with him and emerged amazed by the resilience of this young man in particular, but also by life in general. Less thrilling, but – more important – far more moving than I expected, Boyle works wonders in making what is essential a one character single location film never feel static or dull, and the gruesome climax almost unbearable to watch without ever feeling exploitive.

20 Fingers (2004)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A worthwhile, unusual Iranian film, 28 May 2010
7/10

An interesting experimental Iranian film, shot on DV, with shades of John Cassavettes. A series of 7 vignettes about married couples. Each story is about different couple, but all are played by the same two actors. Each scene is one shot only, mostly close ups panning back and forth, while the couple is on some mode of transportation (a motorbike, a train, a ski lift). The acting has a rough, improvisational feel, that works very well for the most part. The only negative is that the film starts to get repetitive in theme as well as style. Each story is about women being repressed in some way, and while I understand that's an important theme (in Iran, but really anywhere) I wish it had covered more elements of how couples relate. Still, I'm glad I saw it.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A remarkable first film, 15 December 2012
9/10

A remarkable first film, made by Amadei from his own real life experience of going to Iraq in 2003 to be an assistant director on a film, and almost winding up dead.

The war sequences are terrific and powerful in execution; harrowing, cinematic, real and yet stylized, largely seen from a subjective camera.

The film is quite moving in the end, and Amadei is willing to let himself (played very well by Vincio Marchioni) come off as a flawed, real human being. Re-examining one's self and one's traumatic experience with a sense of clarity, but without losing emotion would be a challenge for any artist, but as a first feature it is very special.

I also liked that the film wasn't afraid to be a very disturbing film about the realities of war, but still have a comedic edge at time. Life is both tragic and funny, but rare is the film that can walk both sides of that street.

Once in a while the style gets a bit overdone, to the point of breaking a sense of reality, but that's a small fly in a very rich ointment.

I hope Amadei's immense talent can translate to telling stories other than his own.

21 Up (1977)
Unique and amazing series of films, 26 February 2011
10/10

The 'Up Series' represents one of the most fascinating and unusual uses of film in cinema history - a documentary life-long chronicle of the lives of 14 people starting at 7 years old, revisiting them every seven years through age 49 (so far).

While I could quibble, wishing for a bit more depth here and there (especially with the women, where there's a bit too much emphasis on love and marriage at the expense of all else), it's really an astounding, moving, frightening and uplifting document. There's no way to watch this remarkable series of films without reflecting deeply on one's own life, and how you have changed (and stayed the same) over your own lifetime.

While Michael Aped deserves every bit of credit he's received for this amazing piece of cultural anthropology, it's important to note this first film, 7 Up,was actually directed by Paul Almond, and Apted was a that point a researcher for the project.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Is there any genre Danny Boyle can't do?, 23 September 2013
8/10

A very well made, thinking person's zombie movie. This avoids most of the silliest elements of the genre, adds some very clever twists, and interesting complex characters. It still doesn't quite rise to being a great movie, through a combination of not really exploring the many political and social themes it hints at (George Romero takes that further), and pushing its internal logic pretty far at times. But it's always entertaining, has a lot of genuine suspense, and isn't over- reliant on easy scares and shocks. Interestingly photographed on video.

I would have rated this even higher if it had one of the darker, more emotional and complex endings included on the DVD special features. That would have brought it to 'classic' status.

28 Up (1984) (TV)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Unique and amazing series of films, 26 February 2011
10/10

The 'Up Series' represents one of the most fascinating and unusual uses of film in cinema history - a documentary life-long chronicle of the lives of 14 people starting at 7 years old, revisiting them every seven years through age 49 (so far).

While I could quibble, wishing for a bit more depth here and there (especially with the women, where there's a bit too much emphasis on love and marriage at the expense of all else), it's really an astounding, moving, frightening and uplifting document. There's no way to watch this remarkable series of films without reflecting deeply on one's own life, and how you have changed (and stayed the same) over your own lifetime.

While Michael Aped deserves every bit of credit he's received for this amazing piece of cultural anthropology, it's important to note this first film, 7 Up,was actually directed by Paul Almond, and Apted was a that point a researcher for the project.

The western meets noir in this intelligent minor classic., 21 July 2013
9/10

The western meets noir in this intelligent minor classic. A psychological drama that is much more about the battle of souls and the slippery nature of good and evil than about gunplay and chase scenes.

Led by a great performance by Glenn Ford, going way against type as a low key, but highly charismatic, even sexy bad guy, who its hard to hate. And he's almost matched by a jittery Van Heflin as a down-on-his-luck rancher who agrees to bring the very dangerous Ford to the titular train to be taken to prison, Heflin doesn't take the job out of any great moral belief, but just because he desperately needs the $200 to have some shot of keeping his cattle alive and his family fed.

Beautifully shot, keeping the open feel of the south-west for the first act, the real climax of the film is a 30 minute set piece in a hotel room as Ford tries to gently, almost comically, bribe and woo Heflin into letting him go, promising far more money than the $200 Heflin is being paid. And we see just how tempting that offer is to Heflin, and how confusing doing the "right" thing can be.

A truly tense film. Whatever its flaws or dated touches fade beneath its great images, sly dialogue, forceful direction, complex characters, and 1st rate acting.

35 Up (1991) (TV)
Unique and amazing series of films, 26 February 2011
10/10

The 'Up Series' represents one of the most fascinating and unusual uses of film in cinema history - a documentary life-long chronicle of the lives of 14 people starting at 7 years old, revisiting them every seven years through age 49 (so far).

While I could quibble, wishing for a bit more depth here and there (especially with the women, where there's a bit too much emphasis on love and marriage at the expense of all else), it's really an astounding, moving, frightening and uplifting document. There's no way to watch this remarkable series of films without reflecting deeply on one's own life, and how you have changed (and stayed the same) over your own lifetime.

While Michael Aped deserves every bit of credit he's received for this amazing piece of cultural anthropology, it's important to note this first film, 7 Up,was actually directed by Paul Almond, and Apted was a that point a researcher for the project.

Betty Blue (1986)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A flawed film that haunts me, 2 January 2012
8/10

It's funny, on an 'objective' level this is a weaker film than Beineix's 'Diva'. Indulgent (3 hours long!), with a sometimes uneasy mix of comedy and dark drama, some over the top acting and a few scenes that make no sense at all (the robbery?!?). Plus a climax that's a painfully obvious steal from another film.

You could also make a good argument that the film's view of women is retrograde; they're crazy muses that help us to find the really important thing, ourselves. Then we can get along without them.

Certainly critics are much more mixed on this then on the seminal 'Diva'.

Yet for all that, I actually enjoyed this more than 'Diva'. There were more moments when I got caught up in the story, in the way the images and music and emotion interacted, and I appreciated that it lacked 'Diva's self-satisfied, self-referential 'cool'.

Not a great film, but an honest attempt to explore both the madness of love, and madness in love. (And, yes, all the hot sex and nudity is fun too.). My rating is probably too high, but damn it, images and moments just keep sticking with me.

3 Women (1977)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful moments, but didn't quite work for me on 1st viewing - but I'll watch it again, 17 August 2010
7/10

I feel a bit stupid on this one. Lionized by most critics as a neglected masterpiece, I certainly liked it, and respected it's lofty aims, but didn't flat out love it. The two lead performances by Sissy Spacek and Shelly Duvall are wonderful, and the film has more than its share of powerful and creepy moments.

But the film – based on a dream Altman had, and not trying to make any literal sense – feels overly self-conscious and arty at times. I found the music intrusive, almost shouting 'see how weird this is?' And a lot of the symbolism, like the paintings that run through the film, feels a bit heavy handed and obvious. Alternately some of the plot twists feel flat out arbitrary.

This is often compared to David Lynch's dream films Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway. But I found both of those films a little more fun, and they felt more cohesive in their dream worlds, even if I didn't always know what was going on.

Now, having said all that, I do look forward to seeing it again. I've often found some of my very favorite films are complex and challenging works that don't quite jell for me on 1st viewings, only to have those petty annoyances fall away on a second look.

In any case, if you're up for something challenging, this is a terrifically acted, unique and brave film, and certainly worth a look, whatever your personal reaction. And - since it's a film that plays on subconscious more than literal levels - I suspect no two people will react to this exactly the same way.


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