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This film has been crafted almost to perfection, the touch used is delicate and very realistic. It is interesting that such a slow pace should be so engrossing but it is. Thanks I think to the brilliant acting from everyone. Kirstin Scott Thomas stands out for such an understated performance, that when she does towards the end of the film show such deep emotion you are blown away. Her co stars do a great job keeping up with her, specifically Elsa Zylberstein playing her sister,the woman can cry on demand a face full of expression. Frederic Pierrot as the policeman, whose brilliance is only realised at the end of his part of the story. Jean Claude Arnaud as the grandfather, who without saying a word through the whole film is masterful. There could be a danger that this film is seen as a trudge through human emotion but I can assure you it is more than that. You will leave the cinema for filled and uplifted by the whole experience.
Back on Track
After five films I have come to realise that it is very difficult to translate these books to the screen. Imagination is far more powerful than CGI,and we all have favourite bits that end up being left out, unless we want to sit through a 15 hour movie that is.
After the disappointment of the last movie, I was apprehensive about this one, though hopeful, there was much that could be dropped from the book, which was a touch overlong. I am pleased that we are now back on track.
The film flowed, what was changed worked well and did not feel disjointed, like No 4. It built up to the action well and the cast have developed strongly. The three leads all putting in solid performances. Those that stood out for me were, in no particular order, Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood, an odd character handled in a subtle, gentle way, top marks. Matthew Lewis' Neville Longbottom has come to the fore and the scene where he tells Harry about his parents was moving. The two adults that I enjoyed the most were Imelda Staunton as Delores Unbridge and Helena Bonham Carter's Bellatrix Lestrange, admittedly both parts were showy so were already larger than life, but the danger with any part like that is the temptation to go over the top. Neither actress fell into this trap.
I enjoyed the DA classes, which cleverly developed the story line leading to Harry's first kiss, Ginny's spell strength, Neville as already mentioned above and much more, each scene drew you in as if you were part of the action and you cared. The final action sequence was gripping and just a little confusing, which was what I felt when I read the book, by confusing I mean not the plot but the fact that so much is happening all at once, the group are living on their wits, on the edge of death they are fighting for survival against a much stronger enemy.
So all in all much more enjoyable, better edited, thought out and directed than NO 4, the skill of the young actors is growing and we have two more films to look forward to. With the new book out on Saturday, let's hope Harry lives.
The Eurovision Song Contest (2007)
How can you not love this, every year I sit down with family and friends, some wine and a voting sheet and every year I am surprised, entertained and by the end just a little drunk.
There has been a lot of talk in western Europe about the domination of eastern Europe. There is no denying that the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia do have a numbers advantage, but that does not mean they will always win. To win the Eurovision Song Contest your song has to be popular with many more countries.
Of course there will be national pride and if your country takes it seriously then you will be disappointed that you did not win or make the all important top ten. Usually you will like one song more than the others and you will want it to win, this is the beauty of the competition especially one that encompasses such a diverse demographic as Europe, we all have different opinions, I for one thought our UK entry to be truly awful. So no national pride there then! Before the contest my favourite entry was from France, unfortunately they did not perform very well, which was a shame. On the night there were a number of entries that I liked, Sweden, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Bosnia and Serbia, so quite a mix. Going back to my point that any potential winner has to be popular across the board, the eventual winner Serbia received a top three vote from Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Malta, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands, point proved I think. I did see a web site that had taken all of the eastern European votes out, Serbia still won.
So when you start to bemoan the fate of the contest and the perceived way it is going, remember that it is just a bit of fun, yes it's great when your country or your favourite song wins, but there are 500 million people out there voting and we all like different things. Sit back enjoy and don't take it too seriously, you never know next year it might be your turn and think how excited you'll be then.
El laberinto del fauno (2006)
What a truly remarkable film, there are so many things about it that are good that this could turn into a list but I will resist.
Visually this film has everything you could wish for, with fantasy scenes that are masterfully created, from the journey through the tree and the giant toad, to the fawn and the very sinister and quite frightening, what shall I call it, child eater with eyes in its hands thing. The use of light or lack of it sometimes invokes emotions throughout, I was also taken with the scenes in the rain, not only visually but the sound, it felt oppressive, a great link to what was being felt by the rebels.
Who would not resort to a fantasy world when faced with a sadistic and down right evil step father like the captain. I flinched when he continually stabbed the bottle into the farmers son's face. When that poor stuttering lad was being tortured and after, did you see what had happened to his hand ooh. But sowing your own mouth up, I was watching through my hands. This part was played amazingly well by Sergi Lopez a brilliant actor, we believed in him and welcomed his death at the end.
Having seen only one other del Torro film the devils backbone, also very good, I am amazed at his ability to get such good performances from children. Just remarkable here, Ivana Bagelro should have awards heaped upon her. So moving, at the end when she is dieing, even through we know it is just her fantasy, she believes it and somehow that makes us grateful in her last moments.
The supporting cast were outstanding, especially Maribel Verdu who played Mercedes, she brought to the role real passion, brilliant.
You don't have to know anything about the war to appreciate the film or story. It will go down as one of the best films of all time, an experience that you will be hard pushed to forget.
The Departed (2006)
Best film this year
So you get one of the best directors in the world, a cast of outstanding talent, a brilliant script and you end up with the departed the best film of the year so far.
There is so much that is good about this film, it is exceptionally well told, keeping you hooked from the word go, the music is great the cinematography outstanding. You move from scene to scene in a state of anticipation and excitement, not quite knowing what is going to happen next.
The acting, well the Oscars need to extend the number of nominees in the categories of best actor and supporting actor because all involved in this picture deserve to be up for a gong. It is difficult to pull anyone out from the crowd so I wont because it will just read like a cast list. I do hope that the Acadamy recognises this film, they tend not to go for adult rated movies but this one deserves the lot.
My best bits; Di Caprio's face when Martin Sheen is thrown off the building, outstanding acting. Marky Mark interviewing Di Caprio, Jack throwing cocaine at a babe and telling her not to come up till she's numb and all the shooting. I think I'm gonna have to stop here or I will go on for days.
If you read this and think not another glowing review it can't be that good, well it is, you would be mad to miss this film.
Marie Antoinette (2006)
There are some really good things about this film. It is beautifully shot, the costumes are outstanding and the music used one the whole works well.
I was really looking forward to this film, a modern approach to the period drama was intriguing, alas there was so little substance to it that the good things ended up amounting for very little. The most disappointing thing for me was the lack of seeing the whole picture. I can see where the director was coming from, showing us the isolation of the queen and therefore her inability to see what was happening in the country, but we should have seen it, it would have given us more to think about.
The dialogue was poor and too many images of nothing. Nothing really happened, I found myself getting bored. The one point that really made me laugh though, and I'm sure it was not meant to was when Marie was riding in a coach and they started playing the song "fools rush in", it was so out of place as to be really funny.
It is such a shame there is some real talent involved in the picture and it lets them all down.
Miami Vice (2006)
Not that good
I was looking forward to this film, after all, the trailers have been out for ages and it looked and sounded cool, alas it was not to be.
There wasn't much of a story to speak of, apart from Jamie Foxx the acting was only OK. He did a good job with a script that should have been re written 50 times. It just didn't feel stylish enough, yes I know the fast cars and boats were there but it was just a bit boring.I also couldn't understand the lead actress sometimes, though that could have been because I was loosing the will to live. It was over long and in fact they could have cut about half an hour off the run time.
So that's the moans out of the way, there were some good bits and it's always good to end on those, the soundtrack was good and I liked the shooting bits, though that does make me sound like a little bloodthirsty, I'm not, it's just that they had good pace and were well executed, excuse the pun! The whole film was dark lighting wise and it wasn't until we got out of the cinema in daylight that you realised it. So all in all OK to rent on DVD but don't waste your money at cinema
La marche de l'empereur (2005)
it's cold out there
This is a charming and beautifully shot documentary. You cannot help be captured by the remarkable Emperor penguins and their fight for life.
The natural backdrop of the antarctic is breathtaking and the harshness of the winter heightens your admiration for these creatures. The commentary though I found distracting and a bit cute, having been brought up with "wildlife on one" and the master David Attenborough the script here was not as informative as it could have been. That said, I watched this on DVD and the making of which had a significant amount of the film's footage in it was much better, being narrated by the the men that made it. It is when you watch this account of the journey from both the penguins and filmmakers position that you realise how awful the conditions are. In one scene we are shown the true carnage one of the storms causes, with the ground strewn with the dead bodies of the chicks, a very moving moment.
So all in all this is well worth buying on DVD, so one can sit and wonder at the world in which we live in.
Two Weeks Notice (2002)
A bit of chemistry going on
This film is not as bad as you might think. That said it is a run of the mill rom-com which is lifted by the performances of the two leads.
So Bullock plays an attorney who stands up for the little people and saving buildings. She goes to work for Grant who plays the face of a multi million dollar company that like to knock buildings down. So we have a bit of a conflict there, but that won't get in the way of a romantic storyline oh no. Needless to say after some messing around we get a happy ending.
I did enjoy the film because Bullock and Grant work very well together in fact they are great. Now I love Sandra anyway so it's no surprise I liked her but Hugh gives one of his best performances ever with a character that is shallow and not floppy like most of his outings.It has some funny moments which actually made me laugh out loud. The DVD, in the Uk at least has an alternate ending as an extra and that was good too.
So it's not bad, if you like the leads you will like this film.
Superman Returns (2006)
So a re-make of superman, I knew I would enjoy it, a good summer blockbuster I thought, and I was right it is. Interestingly though I think it has more about it than that. The special effects are very special, as superman brings the plane down to land on the baseball field and the crowd started cheering I felt myself welling up. It was at that point that I realised this film has heart.
I liked the way it captured a 1950's feel with the set of the Planet, but still maintained a modern edge. The plot worked well and for a movie that lasted two and a half hours, it fair ripped along. There is lots of comedy in it with great references to the classic superman story. Now I guessed that the kid was superman's there was a moment when I thought oh I've got it wrong but no it's superkid and I can see a spin off on the horizon, with any luck.
The acting was very good, the two actors I would single out were Brandon Routh a top superman, he captured a depth that we have not had before, good comic timing as well. But really this film belongs to Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther, just a brilliant performance.
So this is a must see film, with I think something for everyone.