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Shot in the dark
Well I approached this movie with trepidation thinking this was going to be some pseudo babble about higher powers and higher beings. Instead I was pleasantly surprised without being blown away. Basically this is the story of George Malley (Travaolta) a small town mechanic who though an unexplainable phenomenon becomes able to function of a higher level, gaining the ability to process information like no other human being. This plays out affecting all his relationships and drawing attention from the wider world. There is lots to like here and Travolta is earnest enough, and maybe this is just me but I really struggle to accept him as a small town mechanic he is just not every day enough for me to carry of these sort of roles. But on the plus point he is supported by the ever wonderful Robert Duvall and Forrest Whittaker and his best friends. This has a good message at its core without being spectacular at anything. Would I watch it again. On a rainy day yes and preferably with my wife.
Ghost Town (2008)
Charming subtle comedy
This is a lovely subtle movie which is held together well by Ricky Gervais in what is his first lead role. Gervais is always going to play versions of himself, but here he reigns it in more than normal and gives a performance of depth as Doctor Pincus a lonely dentist who has problems forming relationships. Pincus then has a near death experience which leaves him able to see ghosts. Pincus is asked by the ghosts to perform acts that will enable them to be released to the after life. Pincus is reluctant to do so until he meets the ghost of Frank the dead husband of Gwen who lives in his apartment block. What we end up with is typically Gervais is three characters seeking redemption through different means. Frank through forgiveness, Gwen through the need to move on and Pincus through human contact. This is all handled well with much more subtlety than your average Hollywood rom-com which for me works so much better. Highly recommended.
Dark yet comic
Right better start by admitting I am a massive fan of both Batman and Tim Burton. With that out of the way it will come as no surprise that I really like this movie. I also think that this movie has stood the test of time well. So much of this movie suits Burton especially it's Gothic setting making for a marvellously dark and moody setting with just a touch of comic book. It was brave of Burton to do away with the typical comic book back story and tale of origin that normally hangs like a mile stone around he neck of most super hero franchise initial instalments. Instead we get a much better slow release of Bruce Wayne's back story. Michael Keaton is great as Wayne / Batman though inevitably he completely upstaged by Jack Nicholson's tour de force performance as the Joker. Yes this performance had now been superseded by the awesome performance of the late Heath Ledger. This Joker really is a different beast. Nicholson dominates every scene he is in almost getting the hero treatment from Burton. As shown in the scene where Batman battles the Joker from his air craft. Missing with numerous shots whilst I just takes the Joker one shot to take Batman's air craft down. My only gripes with the movie ar Burton's weakness at shooting action sequences (they feel to much like choreographed clown sequences). Also Kim Bassinger dos not really work for me as Vicky Vale. But then weight that against the rest of the great movie which especially works in the symmetry of Jack / the Joker creating the Batman and the Batman in turn creating the Joker. This added to the legend Prince submitting th soundtrack makes this a classic to be enjoyed time and time again.
The Haunting (1999)
Little in the way of frights or empathy
This is a movie that does not start well and gets worse the longer it goes on (and it does go on). The basic premise of Liam Neeson's character Doctor Marrow conducting a study into fear by inviting people to a so called "haunted house" under the misinformation of it being a study into people who suffer from insomnia is interesting enough. This could of lead to some good psychological scares. However when the house itself does turn out to be haunted we really do gets by numbers horror where I found it incredibly difficult to find any empathy for any of the characters and also struggled to maintain interest in the film. Even the normally likable Owen Wilson was poor here. Certainly one to avoid abd not one for re-watching.
Just about okay
This is pretty sub standard Indiana Jones style family capers with a bit more of the supernatural thrown in. This is the third movie in the series and quite frankly I am surprised they have made it this far. Everything here is done by numbers and I for one find it hard to accept Noah Wyle as an action hero. Still maybe children will find it more entertaining than I did but for me a great family movie has to work for the adults as well. So if you want to amuse the children for a few hours then maybe this will fill the time, but I for one will not be watching it again and I will not go out of my way to seek the other movies.
Jaws 2 (1978)
The bite's back
So where to begin? This is not a bad movie but it is a movie that suffers from being the sequel to a superb movie that still stands the test of time. Well let's start with the positive. Roy Schneider is as usual superb and so is Lorraine Grey as his wife. But unfortunately they alone can not carry the movie. The new cast are a bunch of interchangeable teens that are so stereotypical they could be from any teen horror flick. Then there is the shark. For one he look so less realistic than in the original which I think maybe be down to less being more in the amount of the shark we get to see compared to the first movie. Also he seems to have to much personality and intelligence rather than just being a stone cold killer. Giving him battle scars and the intelligence to know how to destroy vehicles just does not work for me. Still there is some suspense and a satisfactory conclusion, it just does not cut its predecessors mustard.
Kojak: The Marcus-Nelson Murders (1973)
Solid and unexpected quality
I came across this movie whilst channel surfing and boy was I pleasantly surprised. I was expecting an episode of the TV series but instead got a gritty 70'd classic. This a low down story of Police and the systems corruption which is still relevant today. Telly Savalas is superb as Kojack the only decent cop in New York who is prepared to see the set up that is taking place. A slow reveal with excellent supporting cast makes this a recommendation for everyone. This is truly an undiscovered gem that if it was a cinema movie would still be lauded today. This is a movie that really needs wider exposure. Now how to I go about getting the to show it at the BFI?
Wanted dead and alive
Right first things first this is an extremely enjoyable action movie, but for it to work for you must suspend your sense of disbelief. With this done there is much to be enjoyed here. The premise of an agent order of assassin weavers is lets face it pretty ropey, and I am not sure how true it is to the comic source material (which I will probably dig out at some point), and Morgan Freeman is really playing it by numbers here. But we have some amazing and original action sequences that really do move the movie on at a frenetic pace. Yes we can see the massive influence of 'The Matrix' and 'Fight Club' and lets just hope if there are sequels they do not go the way of the shoddy follow ups to the Matrix. I like the fact that some of the characters are played by different actors than your normal action movie types, though to be honest I am not sure about McAvoy's American accent, though he handles everything else well. Still much better than your average action movie and worth repeat viewings if you are a fan of the genre.
Let me start by saying I for some reason had never really had any inclination to see this movie, for some reason it did not appeal to me. Well anyway I found myself watching the movie on a holiday I have just returned from and let me say I was pleasantly surprised (and pleasant it a word I would imagine you will not find associated with this movie very often). Where this movie works is in its simple premise. Cheaply made with a small set but this actually aides the suspense built up as the main characters slowly interact with one another revealing more about themselves. This is interspersed with reveals to Jigsaw the orchestrator of the two protagonist's fates. The movie moves along at a good pace introducing us to Jigsaws previous crimes as well as the police officers on his trail with a increasing sense pf dread and the payoff is worth it (as much as these things can be) with a very satisfactory ending. Yes there are some horrific moments but nowhere near as many as I expected and I believe the movie is better for this. A must for horror fans, and others with a strong constitution.
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
I had wanted to see this film for years and had attempted to watch a late night TV showing before but fell asleep. Well finally I have seen the movie and boy what a good film it is. This the true story of two girls in 1950's New Zealand who become inseparable friends who become transfixed with one another leading to a series of shocking events that they feel they are pre-destined to commit. The two teenagers are played fantastically by the then unknown Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynsky. With the now expected excellent direction from the future superstar Peter Jackson. Here you can actually feel Jackson playing and experimenting with some of the styles he later used to such great effect in the LOTR trilogy. The supporting cast are very good and we are drawn into a real mixture of emotions that is the wrong directors hands could have been an absolute disaster. But we go through the full range of emotions from shock to sympathy to repulsion leady up to the truly shocking ending. Stunning stuff that I will certainly view many times.