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Coming Home for Christmas (2013)
Quite enjoyable if expectations aren't too high
At first, this has all the appearance of a low-budget Christmas movie and to be fair that is exactly what it is - however, it is a cut above some of the really bad ones like The Town that Cancelled Christmas. Some of the acting is fairly mediocre, the story though is quite engaging with likable enough characters and some nice scenery to enjoy. There are even a couple of well-known musical numbers to sing along to. You can tell that everyone involved in making the film has at least tried to produce something decent and if you give it a chance, it's quite watchable. One the younger members of the family will probably quite enjoy along with mum on a wet Sunday afternoon.
Round Ireland with a Fridge (2010)
An amiable hour and a half with Tony Hawks
The book 'Round Ireland with a Fridge' is a great read and its author, Tony Hawks, comes across as someone you'd happily stop to offer a lift to or spend a pleasant few hours exchanging amusing anecdotes down your local pub with. The film attempts to recreate the same light-hearted tone as the book; Hawks is engaging in the central role, coming across as a slightly world-weary individual who is searching for his raison d'etre in the most preposterous of situations. The film never quite matches the subtle humour of the book; nor does it do itself any favours with the portrayal of some of the characters who come across as somewhat clichéd in a 'Father Ted' kind of way (though Sean Hughes is good in a brief cameo appearance). Expect gently amusing rather than laugh out loud but with a fair degree of charm, a fine soundtrack and the likable Hawks as a genial travelling companion this is worth a watch, especially for fans of the book.
Rocky V (1990)
A worthy entry in the series - really!
I just watched Rocky V again for the first time in a few years. I have always maintained it is a better film than many give it credit for and wasn't disappointed. Okay, there are a few flaws such as the way in which Rocky loses his fortune is unconvincing; a few scenes such as the press conference following Rocky's return from Moscow could have been tighter; the fight scene at the end is a little anti-climatic.
However, there are some great things about the film too: the opening & closing credits for one; the references to earlier films including the Mickey flashbacks; the whole 'back to the streets' scenario. 'Rocky Balboa' picks up on some of the threads from Rocky 5, notably the father-son relationship. I can see why people found Rocky 5 a disappointing ending to the series (as it appeared to be in 1990) but in the light of Rocky Balboa, it becomes a worthy addition to a great series!
Attack Force Z (1981)
A decent war movie
A little-known World War 2 drama despite featuring the talents of Mel Gibson and Sam Neill. The film follows an Australian Special Forces team led by Gibson on a mission to rescue the occupants of a plane crash-landed on a Pacific Island. Naturally, the island is swarming with Japanese determined to thwart the mission at every turn.
The film is not without its weaknesses; Gibson & Neill are a little flat thanks to a script that doesn't allow them to show off their talents to the full(compare to Gibson's brilliant performance as Frank Dunn in Gallipoli made around the same time). The music is poignant but fails to add much to the drama and there is a low-budget feel to much of the film in general.
Having said that, Attack Force Z is fairly entertaining; it moves at a good pace and there are plenty of well-staged action sequences. The ending makes a strong statement on the futility of war. A decent addition to your war movie collection but for fans of the genre only.
15 Storeys High (2002)
A real hidden gem!
I had never heard of 15 Storeys High until a friend recommended it. I didn't have great expectations but ended up watching all 6 episodes in one go! This is a weird, wonderful, surreal comedy with brilliant characterisation. Locke & Wong are just terrific as the undynamic duo -a morose swimming pool attendant and a hapless fish-factory worker living together in a rather run-down apartment block. Their dull, aimless lives are interspersed with moments of absurdity; the story lines border on the ludicrous, made all the funnier by the deadpan delivery of the actors. 15 Storeys High can rightfully take its place among the very best of BBC Comedies - a real hidden gem that hopefully one day will receive the recognition it deserves. If you haven't seen it and you like slightly off-the-wall comedies like The Office,you shouldn't be disappointed!
Death of a Salesman meets Falling Down
I had read mixed reviews of this film, but the subject matter intrigued me and a Sean Penn film is always worth a look. It didn't make the mainstream cinemas over here so it was off to the small 'arthouse' theatre. There were only a handful of people in the audience. A shame, really, as this turned out to be one of my favourite films of 2005. The plot had echoes of Death of a Salesman and Falling Down - smalltime guy increasingly frustrated at his inability to rise above the mundane but determined to make his mark... with catastrophic consequences. The film is low-key, without pretensions, superbly acted by Penn who gives a terrific portrayal of a man on the edge. "The Assassination of Richard Nixon" could be another Glengarry Glenross - overlooked at the time but destined to become a cult classic in years to come...
Tedious at best!
I was really disappointed in this film. The premise was interesting enough but in order to engage, a certain amount of tension is required. Most of the scenes were tedious; the only scene I can really remember is the rather excruciating torture sequence which momentarily wakes the audience from their slumber. The film introduces a succession of bland and uninteresting characters and a bewildering array of sub-plots to no real effect. Clooney's character had the potential to be terrific in the 'reluctant hero' mould but he was involved in so few scenes of any substance that this was never really fulfilled. I would like to say that Syriana was at least a well-intentioned and thought-provoking film but frankly, I was too bored to care much.
Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
Better than Syriana!
Having been very disappointed by Syriana, I was looking forward to my faith in Mr Clooney being restored. To a certain degree, it was, but I was still left with the feeling that this could have been a wasted opportunity. Goodnight & Goodluck has an intriguing story, excellent cast (though Clooney and Robert Downey Jr are somewhat wasted in supporting roles) and the black and white cinematography works well. Some of the key scenes, however, lack genuine tension. Unfortunately, the sparks fail to fly; there is little drama,few really memorable scenes and a rather lacklustre ending. Overall, an admirable film but hardly a classic.