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29 reviews in total 
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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Tediously implausible, 4 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The budget for this film was over $100 million. The hours subsequently spent watching it by people who could have been otherwise employed for nearly two and a half hours might have been sufficient to rebuild the Great Wall of China.

Technically 'The Martian' is impressive. An unbelievably huge spacecraft with space that puts the grand hotels of the world in the shade. Real potatoes that germinate when a presumed dead survivor is stranded. Miraculously not dead Mark grows them in Martian dust and human poops. A crew of five in a spacecraft big enough to house a thousand Syrian refugees.

As gentlemen in Dubai are likely to be offered by imported ladies of easy virtue, there is a happy ending. No tension, it was bound to work out well.

Ridley Scott doffs his directorial hat to political correctness. The Commander is a gorgeous woman, as is another of the crew. Persons of what are inaccurately labeled black and yellow skin feature strongly in key back-room roles. We have a Hispanic in the heroic rescue gang.

The dialogue is banal throughout, with plenty of f**ks and s**ts. I don't remember a single ear-catching line. To call the characters two-dimensional is to give them more substance than they deserve.

Well done Matt Damon for nursing your planetary rover over 3,200 kilometers of a path that was forever smooth.

This film is rubbish, all show and no substance.

I liked the closing scene. Mark (Matt Damon), now a retired spaceman, lectures in the middle of a circular venue. Why would anyone talk to an audience, half of whom are behind him? That must have been a Scott Ridley joke to give his cameraman a license to swoop and circulate.

It was obvious from the start that Mark would survive. All the excursions and alarms came to nothing. Clever stuff, but about as gripping as a pair of teflon pliers.

9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
A funereally slow, nasty, implausible bladder-burster, 12 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fabian, a pretentious, pseudo-intellectual leads a small adoring clique of fellow law students. Imitating Raskolnikov in 'Crime and Punishment', he brutally murders Magda, a heartless money- lender, and her teenage daughter.

For unexplained reasons Joaquin, a poor man with a young family, is convicted of the crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Fabian gives the deprived wife some money and asks his friends to do what they can for Joaquin. He then rapes his god-fearing sister and slaughters a dog to round off the nasty, sadistic episodes that punctuate what passes for a story. The film ends with him taking a canoe ride.

How can this implausible, unresolved plot occupy 250 minutes of screen time? No problem, just point a camera at something and let it roll while next to nothing happens. Scenes go on and on for no obvious purpose. They can be repeated knockings on a door with cries of 'Fabian, are you in there', to lighting and smoking cigarettes, to plodding along paths, to observing landscapes. More than four hours could have been edited to, say, 90 minutes without any significant loss of material.

What director Diaz has produced is a semi-motion picture, a mildly intriguing but generally tedious variant of the wham, bam, thank you ma'am school of frenetic film-making with eternally swooping and sliding cameras and cuts every few seconds.

Diaz changes the appearance and tempo slightly with fuzzy landscape shots, probably taken from a drone with an inexpensive camera, and some jerky hand-held footage that could have been borrowed from Lars von Trier.

Almost at the end, Diaz cocks a snook at his audience with a ludicrous levitation scene.

Norte, despite its faults in pacing and plotting, is not short of striking visual images. If they had all been reduced to about a third of their displayed length and allied to a plot that made some sense, a watchable film might have been the result.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Clandestine butchery, 23 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I admire the way authors and directors have fun with their readers and viewers by including scenes of great dramatic impact that are completely unexplained.

The Godfather has a perfect example in the 'horse's head in bed' vignette. Implicitly we are required to believe that intruders armed with equipment to decapitate a stallion in the prime of life breezed into the stable block of what was presumably a fortified estate belonging to a movie mogul. Khartoum is somehow subdued without startling the other horses, stable lads, nightwatchmen, burglar alarms etc. His head is severed with stealth and silence. Then the slaughterers break into the movie producer's house and make their way to his bedroom, carrying the bleeding head with them.

After what has already been accomplished there's no problem in placing the head under the duvet at the foot of the bed and smearing blood all over the slumberer's pyjamas, hands and face without waking him. Whistling a happy tune, perhaps, the horse butchers, recruited from afar at a moment's notice, make their exit without difficulty or detection.

More nominations please for the most outrageous, impossible scene in a vaguely serious movie. I give this only 9.9 out of 10 to leave the slightest of breathing spaces for anything even more improbable.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An amazing story beautifully told, 31 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm writing this when there are only seven other reviews. Compared with the hundreds or thousands of reviews of popular cinematographic dross (the greater the dross, the more the reviews), is there any point?

The Journey of the Corps of Discovery is an amazing story, beautifully told. President Jefferson sends his secretary to find a route to the Pacific Ocean across thousands of miles of largely unknown territory. The adventure proves that truth can be stranger than fiction. This is an epic trip. Ken Burns has made some marvelous series, but none better.

There are so many memorable moments that it seems pointless to select a sample. I'll never forget Meriwether Lewis's diary entry on his 31st birthday, rueing his indolence and lack of achievement at what he thought would be the half-way stage of his life.

Everyone should see this wonderful series. Unfortunately, the bulk of the popcorn-eating, couch-potato viewing public prefer banality and fantasy to fact.

Treat yourself to one of the best series ever.

Downfall (2004)
4 out of 77 people found the following review useful:
The worst film I've ever seen, 17 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Forget 'Battlefield Earth', 'Wolf Creek', 'Dancer in the Dark', 'Catwoman', etc. 'Downfall' is inexcusable and unforgivable. This trivialisation of one of the bleakest periods of human history should never have been made.

There's a loose correspondence with real events: World War Two happened, Hitler died, and that's about it. Almost every scene rang false. There was no mention of the holocaust, just a few anti-semitic ravings, briefly confined to the later parts. The acting was uniformly (as befits a Nazi drama) awful.

It's a blasphemy against humanity to make a film like this. Show what actually happened, or get as close to it as possible when the records are lacking, but don't make an 'entertainment' of those dreadful days.

Any return to the evil and slaughter of 1939-45 should leave a viewer stunned and outraged. 'Downfall' fails at every level. It fails to tell the truth. It fails to involve any viewer who has any inkling of the truth. It shows scenes that certainly didn't happen.

Until watching 'Downfall' I'd rated 'Inglourious Basterds' as the worst war film ever. After what I saw tonight, Tarantino's greatest folly is now reduced to a mistimed joke. If you're going to falsify history, why not immolate Hitler in a Parisian cinema, cocking a snook at reality?

I can only think that 'Downfall' was made by persons wholly insensitive to human suffering who hoped to wring a few tears from a popcorn-gobbling audience by showing human suffering.

I kept watching, with increasing reluctance, for a long, long time. Then I felt so disgusted with the film, and with myself for being dragged along by a manipulatively false and farcical story, that I hit the off button.

Everyone involved with the making of this loathsome film should be ashamed of themselves. The favourable IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes ratings can only have come from reviewers not old enough to feel connected to the unspeakable vileness of Nazi Germany.

I thought it would be a hard call, but 'Downfall' is the worst film I've ever seen.

The Road (2009/I)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Okay, okay. Hard to believe, but the film is worse than the book, 24 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At the age of 60 plus you accept that life's high and low moments have already passed by. I watched 'The Road' in a mood of masochistic appreciation. The competition for the worst film I've seen is high: 'Sex Lives of the Potato Men', 'Once Upon a Time in the Midlands', 'Breaking the Waves', 'Dancer in the Dark', (and anything directed by Lars von Trier) etc. How wonderful and depressing to plumb new depths.

The last two words on the soundtrack are 'okay', 'okay'. There are two instances of 'okay', 'okay' in the opening scene. Take away 'okay' and 'poppa' and there's not much left of the spoken word. What remains is largely unintelligible mumblings.

Nothing is explained, half the film is in near-total darkness. I emote easily but not to this art-house tosh. Goodonya Cormac McCarthy for selling the film rights and laughing all the way to the bank.

'The Road' is a bad book, despite being rated as the best novel of the first decade of the 21st century by at least one agency. The film is worse, much worse.

The book has to be a joke, but the film makers seem to have taken it seriously - okay poppa? We saw the cellar filled with humans destined to be eaten; although everyone knows that keeping meat alive in times of hardship is a waste of food.

In the interests of good taste (yum yum), we were spared the sight of the abandoned spit- roast baby that McCarthy includes in his cynically successful book.

I don't mind films that know they're bad. But this is a film based on a dreadful book that has been widely acclaimed. Sorry to the other turkeys, all worthy in their own right, but this is the new low point of my film watching.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The long, the unsynchronised and the improbable, 30 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Has 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly' acquired too much of a halo over the years, putting it beyond criticism? To me it was a rehearsal by Leone for the vastly superior 'Once Upon A Time In The West', my all-time favourite.

When I last watched Blondie, Tuco and Angel Eyes I missed the start. The Man With No Name (except the endlessly repeated 'Blondie') was stumbling across the desert. Tuco was carrying on in a sadistically clownish manner that was simultaneously tedious and repellent. It was only sloth that held me in my seat.

Most film directors are forever pulling the legs of their audiences. Leone is no exception. Using all sorts of tricks, he allows the story to creak along in the most improbable manner, either hoping that viewers won't notice or don't care. One of Sergio's little jokes is that if something isn't seen by the camera, neither will it be visible to the characters, even though they're looking in different directions. The best gag of this kind is when Tuco and Blondie are captured as they stumble into a huge army camp they somehow fail to spot.

In like fashion, useful props materialise out of nowhere. While Tuco scrambles in the cemetery to dig up the stolen gold, Blondie manages to construct a makeshift gibbet from a convenient tree and a length of rope long and strong enough to tie up the 'Titanic'. And where did the the shovels come from in the treasure-hunting scenes? Almost every new twist was improbable.

You have to admire the mixture of frailty and resilience of participants in Leone's films. Baddies are dispatched with a single shot. Tucos and Blondies are beaten or baked to within an inch of their lives but bounce back as readily as cartoon characters flattened by steamrollers.

Some people don't mind poor lip-synchronisation, including Signor Leone, but I do. The distraction of mouths often moving independently of the words they purport to speak is aggravated by the laboured dialogue. Thank goodness Leone stepped up several gears for 'Once Upon A Time In The West' by using a brilliant writer and employing a much better cast (Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, etc) than the irritating Eli Wallach and the dull-as-ditchwater Clint Eastwood.

Despite these grumbles, there's a lot to be said in favour of 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly'. It's stylish, idiosyncratic and spectacular with a wonderful score by Ennio Morricone. But rather than be considered the greatest western ever, as judged by many enthusiastic IMDb reviewers, the film is better regarded as a highly creditable rehearsal for the undoubted masterpiece which followed.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Stupid rubbish, 28 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

According to IMDb, 'Ripley's Game' cost about $30 million to make. I suppose it helped a few people. John Malkovich, perhaps the most narcissistic, look-at-me actor ever to strike gold in Hollywood, presumably earned a million or two. What we have here is yet another example of the overpaid watched by the underemployed while millions or billions remain undernourished throughout this overcrowded, callous, corrupt, ill-governed world.

The plot is stupid beyond belief, and the way it unfolds is also stupid beyond belief. The plot is so stupid that I'd be stupid to summarise it, and any readers would be stupid if they read my distillation of all the stupidities.

Why, while living in a world where millions of infants die every year from preventable causes, do people make and watch nonsense like 'Ripley's Game'? Surely time and money could be put to a better use.

I thought that Patricia Highsmith, the authorial creator of Ripley, is regarded as a writer of some talent. If the film is even loosely faithful to her novel, the world would be a better place if her books were pulped. I can't help repeating the word: stupid, stupid, stupid.

Everyone who is listed on the credits, which run to the usual hundreds, should be ashamed. The only saving grace of this terrible film is the seductive European, mainly Italian, locations. Give me a plodding travel documentary any time.

What's the stupidest of a rich choice of stupid scenes? Perhaps the events in the German train toilet, where three garroted corpses (one of which returns to life soon after, wearing a stupid bandage on his ear to indicate that he was the guy almost killed by a wire round his throat) and two assassins comfortably fit into the toilet.

I could take a week to list a small fraction of the stupidities in 'Ripley's Game'. I was stupid to view it from start to finish. I'm being stupid to waste more time on this IMDb review. Nobody will read this before they see the film. Anybody who reads this after seeing the film is stupidly adding to the time they have already wasted in its observance.

There was a word in the back of my mind that might usefully provide the most concise of summaries. What was it? I remember - STUPID.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Unbearably sad and immensely funny - a human and claymation masterpiece, 26 January 2011

A few IMDb reviewers give this wonderful claymation film by Adam Elliott the thumbs down. They must be more severely disabled by Asperger's syndrome than Max, and completely incapable of normal human responses.

I don't want to seek words to describe how good 'Mary and Max' is. I don't want to think why others might object to some or all of it.

From start to finish, 'Mary and Max' is marvelous. Anyone who has a heart will love it, especially anyone who has a damaged heart and can't quite fit in with the regular world.

The most idiotic of the hostile reviewers are those who have a knee-jerk reaction to a pen-pal relationship between, at the start, an 8 year old Australian girl and a 40 year old American man.

Most of the words are narrated brilliantly by Barry Humphries. The claymation figures are grotesque but so skilfully manipulated that they evoke sympathy rather than revulsion from the viewer. The details are witty and charming, with many liable not to be noticed at a first viewing. Only Australians (fellow nationals of Adam Elliott) are likely to be familiar with the two most frequently recurring musical themes. Not many people beyond these shores will know 'The Waltz of the Wombat'.

In my IMDb reviews I normally give a plot outline, with the necessary spoiler warnings. My advice for 'Mary and Max' is to see it for yourself, without prejudice. If it leaves you unaffected, or hostile, I don't even want to start thinking about what you must be like in real life.

To repeat and expand, this is a wonderful, wonderful film. It hardly hits a false note, and I'm not going to highlight the few seconds that jarred with me. After watching it, I'm still in a daze. At the halfway point I thought: this standard can't be maintained; there's no way the loose ends can be satisfactorily tied. I was wrong.

I have to give up now. The immediate effects should have worn off, but I'm still overwhelmed.

Tommy (1975)
6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Dated, boring and spectacularly stupid, 10 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Imagine a really bad music video lasting about three minutes. Then imagine watching 40 of them in an uninterrupted row. That's what Tommy is like. Awful.

What induced Ken Russell, other than his obsession with Oliver Reed, to make this abomination?

The Lake District scenes at the start and finish are easy on the eye, especially the view of that finest of mini-mountains, Melbreak, at the end of Loweswater.

Elton John steals the show as the deposed pinball king, and if he's the best part you can imagine how bad the rest is.

Tina Turner provides a wonderful advertisement for cosmetic dentistry and hints at her famous constipated chicken dance.

Fragmented film, so disjointed review, in short snippets, lacking a story, making no sense.

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