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6/10
Nationalism & Independence
28 May 2012
After reading the reviews, which seem a little unfair. The costumes, the production and the acting was actually good. The sub-plots were at times, tedious and opportunities were certainly lost in character development. However, if criticism is to be laid at the film's door, surely its the lack of or omission of the complex political struggles that were happening in this new-independent state. The lead character Martin, a nationalist, but never given the meat to espouse the nationalist cause. I saw two opportunities in which a real grasp of the issues could've been explained, even a debate! But no, it was just nationalism in the face of imperialist aggression, whilst in the midst of these political forces a new Bolshiveik/Communist regime was now in existence. The battle scenes were thorough and realistic enough. Some individual scenes in the latter half of the film should be best forgotten. Overall a reasonable film that was dis-jointed by useless sub-plots that did not enrich the film, the political radicalism and confusion was missed, this meant that a film about Riga will only be for an audience of Riga. Latvia is a part of the world, so ....show yourselves to the world.
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The Star (2002)
8/10
A Triumph of Russian Cinema
28 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The last couple of months have been great when going shopping as I have re-discovered Russian cinema. Especially war films! The first Russian war film, I ever saw, was "Come & See". Perhaps the most outstanding war film of the last 30 years. However, the Russians have re-emerged with numerous war offerings, from Fortress of War, to The Bomber. The former being absolutely stunning!!! The Star however, was a film certainly made in the same vein. The realism and the style of the film was direct. The stealth, guile and intelligence of Soviet soldiers behind enemy lines was thorough and admirable. By 1944 the Red Army was perhaps the most battle-hardened and skillful soldiers in existence. Night manoeuvres and fighting was by that time a master-class in Red Army operations. All I can say, is that it seems that the Russian film industry is returning to this genre, without the communist baggage. All one can hope, is that the Russian film industry keeps making these types of movies.
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Beer League (2006)
Brilliant, Funny - But Don't Expect The Other Half To Enjoy
21 May 2010
Watching this movie was one of the highlights of the year. Being from England, you never really can get a handle on soft-ball/base-ball. However, the character of Artie was brilliant. An endearing slob, who seems to take a break from the harsh realities of life, but clings to a team, that gives dimension to his existence.

The adult-centred jokes, pressures and incidents carrys this movie, with rude, crude and hilarious moments. It also shone a light on the under-side of New Jersey with mis-fits, never-do-wells and cynics who live up to a reputation foisted upon them from popular TV Shows.

The crowning piece of comedy has to belong to the bachelor party episode and the aftermath of it, in which Artie's approach to life rebounds spectacularly on to him. His self-loathing and immature personality nearly wrecks the very thing he holds dear, his new found partner and his closest friends.

However, he has a nemesis to defeat and a monkey on his back to remove. Although he does not get it all...Artie certainly gets what matters most. Love and honour. A must see film for adults over 18. It is a film that men - especially blue collar...can certainly identify with.
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Sicko (2007)
10/10
Hard truth, is always tough to swallow.
25 January 2008
I saw Sicko last night. I have watched all Michael Moore's movies from The Big One to Farenheit 9/11. The film and its subject matter looked aqs if it would be hard going for the viewer.I don't think anyone could say it was impartial or objective, it wasn't! The whole point of the film was to start a clarion call for Universal Healthcare in the United States. As an Englishman, the film serves to remind our own citizens the way we take our health care system for granted. To project the NHS as free is not exactly true. The Health Service is paid out of a National Insurance scheme on top of our PAYE taxes. However, the system is available, free at the point of need! We don't worry about affordability or bills, if we need acces to healthcare in an emergency.

It is tempting to gloat to our American cousins, about the benefits of Universal Health provision. A provision that is socialist inspired and is probably the most humane aspect of our society. Polls after polls which features pride in Britain, the NHS is always guaranteed a top 3 placing. The system is by no means perfect and is always being under-mined by right-wing Tories who feign how much they care about it...but always push forward proposals that undermine the Institution with words like "independence" or "choice". Using spurious and calculating arguments to wheen people off their collective instincts in relation to healthcare.

The criticism that can justifiably be aimed at MM, is that yes Universal Healthcare is humane, rational and more efficient in covering people's healthcare needs....unfortunately, it is a system that is always subjected to the whims of "democracy".

In Britain, we had to learn the cruellest lesson, that if you want low taxes, don't expect high standard services! Now, people are looking to repeat that mistake, as people grumble about taxes, but also grumble that their taxes are wasted. Even though the evidence is overwhelming, that Britain has cut heart disease, cancer (many forms of..) and other illnesses substantially.

I hope this film is seen by all...and all the people of Britain. Forget the rosy tint spectacles of MM...but what he did achieve, is that the NHS is something to be proud of and supported. That collective interests/concern & action do make societies function far better, than crass individualism and the pursuit of profit.

I notice in the forum, the quotes of Winston Churchill. However Churchill is a person who ordered the shooting of striking miners and he expended thousands of lives on the beach head of Galipolli. Yep, he was a great War Leader...but he was know friend to ordinary hard working people. It was those very hard-working people that removed Churchill in 45...to reclaim democracy and establish "our" NHS!

The film came to its climax with the veterans of 9/11 obtaining medical treatment in Cuba after refusal from Guantanomo and its free healthcare facilities...OK the irony was compelling. The Fire crew in Havanna...well, I'm not ashamed to admit, but I wept.

It was a human display..a display of empathy, solidarity and the potential of human beings to break down their barriers of citizenship & Nationhood...and feel...for one moment!!! A true citizen of the world!
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300 (2006)
A Stunning Visual Feast.
7 October 2007
I have actually been to Thermpolaye, when I went on a Classical Tour in the mid 1990s. The setting of the battlefield in the 300 looked nothing like the terrain that I saw, but it makes for a better picture I guess. I've been waiting for this film on DVD ..I wanted to see it on cinema, but time wasn't on my side.

Well, finally watched it, thoroughly enjoyed it. Its the rumours that circulated around the film, "its homo-erotic" or "its racist"... Maybe I missed something, but I didn't really see that aspect of it. Yes there's nudity and the uglier features of Spartan Society are actually laid bare. The Spartans were very, very religious and that really should've been explored more.

Anyway, the film, a visual feast, for those who like battle scenes. The slow motion scenes were truly effective and the mixture of animation and reality was brilliant. It added to the mystique of the times. If I was to cast my eyes on disappointment, it would be the historic inaccuracies and the geographical betrayal. Cold winters and cloudy weather....Were talking Greece here!!! Its hot and the Countryside, especially around Thermopolaye, is hilly and arrid. Olive trees and bushells. The water was calm and battles spanning from the time of Antiquity to the Mediavel era were campaigns that took place in the summertime. Anyhow...A visual feast, I was impressed with Gerard Butler's Leonidas, when he calls to his men, eat hearty this morning, for by the night we shall be dining in hell...unfortunately, he should've said..with the gods!!! David Wenham, as Pelios, commanding performance, excellent narration and a mixture of his previous character in Van Helsing was a nice touch!!! Anyway, definitely a "must view"...Just for the Battles and the mysticism. The biggest contradiction of all, ws that Spartan society was not only religious, it was extremely conservative, when hearing Leonidas talk of freedom, justice and reason...I did think, "hang on a minute"!! Because it was the Spartans under Lysander that beat Athenians in the Pelyopinesian Wars..and destroyed a society that actually strived for those virtues. Anyway...Enjoy the film.
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Joyeux Noel (2005)
Recalling The Christmas Truce
3 December 2006
The film was highly enjoyable and was laced with emotion, humour and tragedy in equal measure. The whole production was excellent.

The recollection of this event was one of those defining moments in history. To some historians, the 1914 truce was the last gasp of high civilization of Edwardian Europe. To some, it was soldiers along with Officers giving themselves an unofficial break from the war, as the soldiers were spending Xmas in the trenches, instead of at home, as they were promised by the Generals & politicians of their respective countries. To some, the episode conjures up romantic notions of idealism and the futility of war. The film, tried to give areas to all those notions and dreams. With no criticism attached to the actress and the writers, but allowing a woman at the Front, especially - most especially at that time, would never have been allowed to happen. Theirs artistic license, but this was overboard. A beautiful woman spending time with soldiers who have been in the trenches....not a good mix. It added, I suppose to the story-line and allowed a romantic interest...but it could've been omitted, in the name of authenticity.

The only other criticism or comment, is the ending. The soldiers/participants having their regiments mixed up, or being sent to different fields of operations, left a very sour taste in the mouth, especially for a film, that was made in the hopes and idealism of Xmas. It would've been a better ending, if we had seen, the German singers united together at the End of the War. But hey..I'm a romantic at heart. I would've liked to have seen a little bit more emphasis on the football game...as the Allies won that!!! Anyhow, a good film, with good performances..Ian Richardson gave a sermon, that a KKK meeting would've been proud of...brought home the hatred and fear, that usually blunders humanity into war..and of course, sustains that war. The Priest left his crucifix at the dressing station...but he was exposed to real Christianity...In the madness, hatred, strain and horror of war, he had witnessed men of numerous Nations come together and discover that they were and always will be fellow human beings, with all the same emotions, hopes and aspirations as each other. The nicest touch in the film, was the German Officer, making it known that he was Jewish...That captured a fleeting truth of the absurd notions of Nationalism in Germany, that was to inflict greater catastrophe further down the line. A special mention should be made, about the kindness and co-operation that soldiers of opposing sides did for each other. The German Officer returning the French Officer's wallet. The importance of mail and ensuring they were properly distributed. It all added to the humanity and niceties of mankind....That it is possible to do a kindness in the midst of conflict and savagery.

We remind ourselves of this humanity in the hope that we and our representatives will learn the lesson. Sadly, and always, we never do!
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6/10
A Comic Homage to the West Midlands
16 November 2006
I've watched Sex Lives of the Potato Men about 3 times. I have a great friend in the West Midlands, that I actually bought it for. My friend is from the area that this film is made, and he loved the film. I actually challenged him, on whether lads from the West Midlands were actually like that, as it played to my friend's lewd, crude and rude humour off to a tee.

Even the music was supplied by bands from the Midlands. Its almost like a back-handed compliment to that much loved, yet not well publicised region of England, where humour, generosity and gritty reality emanates from.

The film is unashamedly aimed at the younger generation and those approaching middle age. Exploring how some men, avoid or cannot deal with concepts, such as responsibility, emotion and commitment.There are of course plenty of laughs, ably assisted by crude scenarios dreamed up from some singles contact magazine or some lurid story from a "bloke who had a mate and his mate told him"...variety.One particular classic moment was,a Mother-in-law's mum meeting one of our heroes in a front room...that was stomach churning funny!!! As for the film, it was ably directed, great location, good soundtrack, well acted by natural comedians and well worth a view if you want some easy laughs and uncomfortable grins. The film however missed the opportunity to be considered a "classic" or "timeless". That accolade,with time will belong to films like Shaun of the Dead.

The remarkable point is, how the hell did this film get Lottery Funding? Thats the funniest concept!!!
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From Hell (2001)
Jack the Ripper - A good film
16 November 2006
Jack the Ripper continues to allude people, even to this day. First and foremost, the suspect list is very extensive. However, this version from the film, From Hell, goes with the popular theory of a Royal/Freemason conspiracy.

From Hell, is a film that captures late 1880s London very successfully. The technical and production skills that provide the haunting slum appearance of East London is superb.

As for the film, many liberties were indeed taken. Johnny Depp was magnificent as Frederick Aberline...but Aberline cannot be said to be a drug-addict and the ending is fanciful. I understand artistic license, but when a film embarks upon a non-fictional event, the truth or facts, should still be used as the fixture and fitting of a film's direction.

I enjoyed the film, and the actors and actresses were extremely good. The story and caveats were interesting, but its the omissions of the case that confused me. For example, Jack the Ripper was identified, not facially, but his clothes were identified. I believe it was a deer stalkers hat and tweed clothing and a small suitcase, which was obviously used for his surgical apparatus. The mystery of the Ripper rests on how the hell, no-one noticed anything and the lack of witnesses. London during the late 1880s was a very over-crowded place, especially the East End, with arrivals from Eastern Jews escaping the pogroms and also Chinese immigrants.

The film could've projected the social and political pressures more, as it was these issues, that made the Police work even more daunting, as it was an area that was afflicted with radicalism and communities in perpetual transit. This would mean, many false leads and greater pressure as a result.

However as a film, the atmosphere, the production and acting, all combine to make a great film....but not a factual film!
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Dragnet (1987)
A Comedy that needs appreciaton
14 November 2006
I have the film on DVD and I admit it...I watch it, when I need a giggle. One of the commentators has noted how Tom Hanks is such a great comedian in this film. I personally wish, that he would find his way back to his comic roots. As he has more than proved, that he is a great and versatile actor. The one-liners and the comic situations are endless. What makes this work so well, is the characters are absolute opposites in opinions, style and outlook. The whole story is ably supported by all participants. Special mention for the bait-mates scene, where Hanks and Ackroyd get information from Caesar. The whole thing was brilliantly funny. Hanks behaviour when meeting all those girls, and revealing his taste for soft-core porn issues, clearly rankled Ackroyd's Friday. The scene with Sylvia Wiss...well, you just have to see it! I must admit, that if being a Police Officer was anything the way Hanks played his character, we'd all want to join up!

Anyway, I enjoyed the film and the humour that was engaged in, is timeless.
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Great film, shame about the ending!!!!
22 July 2005
Well after reading other comments, its the ending of the film that undid all the hard work and yards of this movie.

Tom Cruise was actually good in this film. What was most refreshing, was the character played by Cruise was a worker on the docks. In the original book, the hero was a journalist.

Written by the famous socialist HG Wells, War of the Worlds is a classic in terms of story and literature. Bringing that story into a 21st century setting was interesting. Unlike the 1953 version, which showed America prepared to use the atom bomb on its own Country...somehow, that temptation was avoided by this release.

The special-effects, were stunning...the aliens were similar in looks to another famous modern Sci-Fi film...so a minus on the ideas front for that one!Other than that...the effects were great.

The plot was true to the book, except the part played by Tim Robbins.

However, the ending...how, what, why, where?????? Unbelievable! Would still urge people to see the movie, tension, fear and terror from 10 minutes in to 5 minutes from the end! Great job on Direction!
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Ive missed out all this time!
20 October 2003
I saw this film for the very first time, last night on BBC. I turned this film on to kill time as Catch 22 was on the other side. The TV remote stayed on the table, from the first scene to the spectacular last...this film was nothing short of superb.

The New York humour was sensational, the characters were completely believable, especially the Underground staff. Walter Matthau was brilliant, the comedy was a compliment to the movie, especially as a serious situation was getting even more critical as the time ran-out.

Robert Shaw was great as the criminal mastermind...now we know the United States fascination with english speaking criminal masterminds (Alan Rickman & Jeremy Irons of Die Hard). Also the Mr Blue, Mr Grey for the hijackers...I bet Quentin Tarantino wishes he could acknowlege his debt to the writers of this film.

The political machinations were brilliant, when the Mayor was told to get out of bed and support the victims of the hijack..."but they will boo me" as he languishes 20 points behind in the opinion polls. Classic.

The final scene. There are many great endings to a film, most Clint Eastwood films get them down pat.War movies never usually go wrong with endings, but this one, this is just top shelf and its the face of Walter Matthau.

I cant believe I have missed out all this time. My favourite crime movies in the 70's was films like, Dog Day Afternoon or The Godfather.Now I have to re-evaluate.

Spreading the word!A must see.
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Windtalkers (2002)
Great action, but a missed opportunity
17 February 2003
Ive just this moment, saw Windtalkers. I was really excited about seeing this movie about Navaho Indian codes and the Battle for Saipan. The budget for this movie was immense and I was not dissapointed in the special effects department either.

However, as some commentators have noted, I did find the shooting of Japanese soldiers a bit over done. Scene after scene involving conflict, the US soldiers were shooting the Japanese with a bit of impunity whilst the US soldiers suffered more from artillery than the bullets fired from Imperial Japanese forces. The military adviser in this film really fell down on his job. Thank god I've never been to war, but I do feel the Director made the conflict just a bit one-sided in terms of fighting capability as the Japs it seems couldn't shoot properly. Im sure the veterans either laughed or cried at the ease in which the film demonstrated the taking of Japanese trench positions.

The duty of a Director is to get a story across and a war movie, especially now, is to show how war really is, so that the audience can actually get a closer understanding of conflict and its consequences. The film Windtalkers, did at key stages look at how war brutalizes people, and the characters involved explored that concept, but after suffering traumatic and terrible scenes of carnage that brutalization was replaced by deep friendship and the spirit and comradeship that only a combat soldier could experience.

Windtalkers should be rated as a great action movie, but it was a missed opportunity in regard to the Navaho Indians and their unique story & contribution in World War 2. The next time the Director embarks on a war movie, a little more substance in plot in place of action and unessacary diversions is advisable.
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Conspiracy (2001 TV Movie)
Brilliant yet disturbing.
10 February 2003
Conspiracy brought a new meaning to the phrase "power lunch". Set in January 1942 just outside Berlin a meeting on the Final Solution took place. The way the meeting was organised , and the preparations made for the participants at this meeting was disturbing yet brilliant. Meticulous and efficient and it somehow prepared the viewer for the tone and planning for what was about to take shape. When the waiter smashed the plates , you could sense that no hindrance or opposition would be countenanced as the waiter and later two participants at the meeting would find to their cost.

The acting from all quarters was brilliant. Kenneth Branagh , Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci walked away with the accolades in this film, but not to put their brilliance aside, a special mention for Barnaby Kay ( Rudolf Lange )should be noted. The way Lange behaved in the meeting , with courtesy and culture , yet somehow this man was commiting mass murder on what was then an unknown scale. A man who distrusted words. Yet he managed to come to terms with this butchery by the reassurance of Kenneth Branagh's Heydrich..."We are but servant-soldiers ". When pressed for a political opinion , Lange without shame betrayed his own sense of compassion and intelligence. Barnaby Kay played this character with depth. All I can say, is that the actor must've had an awful lot of sleepless nights playing Rudolf Lange.

Conspiracy has now been played by the BBC every year since the Commemoration of the Holocaust. I can only hope that they will continue this tradition , and to serve as a warning and reminder of what the State , fascism and totalitarianism is capable of.

A brilliant yet disturbing film , but I would recommend this piece of work to anyone who is ignorant of the holocaust or has an interest in history.
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Footloose (1984)
Retro-Heaven for thirty-somethings
18 February 2002
At the moment in Britain we are enduring a retro revival of the 80's. Pop Concerts involving Adam Ant , Howard Jones , ABC and that shining glint of quality , China Crisis will be appearing, to kick off another tour dedicated to the 80's. A time in Britain afflicted by the social/political division of Thatcherism and the decay of long held values that only confused and discarded the generation that was brought forth in that era of unemployment and greed.

The generation that I myself come from , all wince at the events and the backward motivation of our political & social leadership. Instead we hide in that piece of muscical & cinematic period that somehow expressed our desires , our joy and our hopes.

Footloose , a very popular film in 1985 , caught in some respects the mood. The need and joy of partying and dancing , to find some joy from the drab , repressive existance that our Institutions in Britain had planned for us all. Footloose , showed a moment involving the Preacher of what is percieved truth & wisdom as what it actually was ignorance and repression. How wisdom , even from the bible can be manipulated and become a weapon designed not to lift mankind closer to god , but to push that which is pure , into the very arms of evil. The book-burning scene showed the Preacher the folly & error of his ways.

Kevin Bacon as the rebellious teenager held the film and Lori Singer was good as the wayward teenager , trying to break free from a Preacher Father who suffocated not only a town but also his own family with his predjudices & beliefs.

Footloose had a great soundtrack for 80's lovers , music from Australia as well as the US. Unfortunately , Kevin Bacon's Wren said his favourite band was Men at Work. None of their music was played.

Some brutal ommissions and inappropriate songs & music bogged down the general mood of the film. The film however , had its desired affect for the generation I come from. We have the right to party & have a good time. Regardless of anyone or anything.
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Billy's boots meets Man City
26 November 2001
When I got this film out , I thought Ray Winstone & Robert Carlyle in the same film , must be good (memories of Face). Well instinct and a little knowledge can be a great thing. Both actors were great in this film. Set in Manchester and in area where social and community decline is evident. The story begins with a boy , like millions of British lads , playing football.

Football is the means in which he escapes from decay and bullying. A Man City fan in a school filled with Man Utd supporters.This is the hard luck kid of the ages. His mum is a single parent and he is not impressed with the new boyfriend.

The story is probably from a Scorcher cartoon , Billy's boots.The usual rivalry with a lad whose Dad is rich and uses his wealth and importance to further the prospects of his spoilt bully of a son who is Jimmy's chief tormenter and probably every boys nightmare at school, because he pulls the girls and is considered the best footballer in the school.

The story is one of imagination and inspires belief. Misfortune and mistakes may hold people back , but in this film , it is that which makes the characters human. Achieving a dream which is against the odds (appearing at Man City) and finding love as well. Both Jimmy and Ma.

The musical score in the film was superb. Happy Mondays , The Charlatans and Stone Roses tracks keep the story and background flowing.

This was a great film , I even rate this film, better than Billy Elliot. The acting , subject and the music made this film unforgetable. Sadly , I saw this film on video not on the big screen. Again the British Film Industry is let down in the marketing department.

Great film 10/10
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The Dish (2000)
Not as good as The Castle
20 November 2001
The boys from 'The Panel' try to emulate the success of The Castle with this nostalgic look at the role Australia and a Dish in the middle of a sheep paddock play in making sure mankind got to see the famous ( or should I say legendary ) moonwalk. Sam Neil as always , puts in a fine performance. The NASA specialist was also great in that film. Unfortunately , I felt that the film in places , lost some of its thread. The local mayors daughter and the soldier next door....what was that all about?

The underestimated dry Australian wit was good , but that really isnt a challenge to most Australians , because that form of wit is so natural to their own surroundings.

I feel that the power cut that affected the Stations operations could have played more of a feature. The Ambassadors visit to the station was good comedy , but an opportunity was missed .If only they added the Australian Prime Minister into the mix , the potential of better drama and comedy would never have been missed. I feel that the freak weather was an add on...again an example of how the thread was lost.

I feel the sub-plots didnt add anything to the film , the love interests didn't er er love...

The Australian Prime Minister was only one of two that swore in the film. Im sorry , Ive been to Australia and the people , especially in that part of the world are just a little bit more colourful with their language than the boys from 'The Panel' served up. Perhaps they had an eye to the safe middle-American market in which the success of the film aspired to catch? Unfortunately, they only succeeded in compromising the portrayal of Australia.

I dont wish to sound or be harsh about this film. In fundamental essence , it was good , but now Ive seen it , I wont be naffed off if I ever missed it on National TV. The boys from 'The Panel' can do much better , as The Castle proved . Perhaps they should be bolder and be willing to experiment more. I simply make this plea to 'The Panel' , we dont all read The Daily Telegraph or The Mudgee Guardian. Be daring , make us laugh , make us cry but more importantly , make us think.

Again , not as good as The Castle.
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Mad City (1997)
Out there is public opinion
19 November 2001
Mad City was a fair film. Great story , great actors but it lacked that powerful 'must see factor' which Falling Down had in spades. A story of our time. Uneducated Sam Bailey ( John Travolta ) loses his Security Guard job and pleads for his job back , with a shot-gun and bag full of explosives. Not the brightest thing to do , but who is in the Museum with the kids and Curator. Brackett( Dustin Hoffman). This is his last shot at the big time after apparently humiliating his last boss on live TV.

The plot thickens once a shooting accident occurs and the Police surround the Museum , Sam Bailey has lost control ...after all , he only wanted his job back. The town and Police begin to crave Sam Bailey's blood , and the journo Brackett gives Sam his only way out. Public Opinion.

The man who loses his job , in order to protect his family and pride makes in-roads of support in public opinion . A folk hero is in the making , even songs about him are played outside. However the accident earlier brings all the 'media spinning' down to a thud. Events slip away , distortion takes the place of truth , vengeance replaces compassion and the increasing polarisation of feeling leads to a media and political frenzy that ensures the one and only outcome in this tragic farcical affair. Brackett is forced to confront his own hand in the fate of Sam Bailey and begins to feel that unknown quality that passes many an ambitious journalism by...conscience. The folk hero is quickly turned into a hate figure , all because the main story was passed on to the main competition.

The ending is dramatic , Dustin Hoffman's performance was nothing less than excellent.John Travolta was great in this role , but when I think of this film , the words " Is there anyone out there" takes on a complete new meaning. Yes Sam Bailey , we are out here and like you , we dont understand why? As well.
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Falling Down (1993)
Best anti-hero film of the 90's
25 September 2001
After reading the many reviews on this film , to call the film racist , right-wing or trashy all I can say is you have missed the point. This film was very much a picture set in the early 90's. The Cold War won and the promised peace dividend was a recession in which the tired old ideas from government and authority had been flogged to death. Bill Foster ( D-Fens) was a casualty of that world with the tragic case of not knowing it. Because it can happen to anyone of us. Lose your job , then your wife , then your kid and then probably the dog. Angry at everyone around him , even his own mother , who probably gave him values of hard work gets rewarded. The family man had his life turned upside down . Discarded by his Company , redundant and the feeling of betrayal is very easy to understand. Note the scene , where the plastic surgeon , living a life of splendour and opulence , yet Bill Foster , who studied , worked , got on with his own inner private life had everything taken from him. The plastic surgeon , no good to anyone but the vain and the wealthy , a world that was now closed to Bill Foster. The Land of Opportunity had now turned into a living hell. Where advertisers promote products that are sub-standard.( note the whammy burger scene )Where street gangs ran rampant , yet if they actually had jobs to go to then drive by shootings may well be a rare event. We have the first victim of Bill Foster's angst as a Korean shopkeeper blatantly profiteers , it could've been an Indian or a white guy , these small-minded petty bourgouis people are out there...his race is an irrelevance. I secretly cheered as D-Fens made his own price adjustments.

The most profound scene for me was the black guy , outside the bank , shouting , Not Economically Viable. Bill Foster acknowledges him , as he is taken away in a car , that knowing look of empathy and solidarity. The best is always the killing of the neo-nazi. When the arm store guy tells him that they are the same , Bill Foster says no , Im an American and your a sick f**k. Michael Douglas was great in that film. Playing Bill Foster was for me anyway , his best ever role. Robert Duvall was brilliant as the retiring cop.Facing a day , when it can so easily end in tears. Barbara Hershey was also good as Bill Foster's wife , who at times was neurotic , but believable. I actually wished for a very different ending , you already felt watching the film , that it could end in just one way. The missile scene was over-done. It wasn't nessacary. If you wanted explosions the drive by shooting was a good place or even the Whammy burger joint. Falling Down was one of the best anti-hero films of its time. The observations and incidents , we have probably all been there in one form or another , except perhaps the arms store. Im giving Falling Down 9/10. Great film , great cast , bit over-zealous in places , but a little bit of Bill Foster lies in most of us...its just we dont know it yet. Lets pray we never have to.
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The Castle (1997)
Australian way of life
5 July 2001
I first saw this film in Australia, and was told that if there was ever a film that could sum up the life , hopes and dreams of an Australian family , then this would be it.

The setting is a suburb outside Melbourne, where the International Airport is. The family home is somewhere near the end of the runway. Due to increased activity and growth, Property developers make plans to extend and build on the properties located where the Kerrigans and neighbours live.Faced with forced eviction the Kerrigan family aswell as the neighbours set out to fight the eviction notices.

With this backdrop , we see the life of the Kerrigan family, a son who is a tryer and has a thirst for knowledge..well a very basic knowledge, but is proud of his family and enjoys how tight and loving the family home is. Considering the lads age , when most kids rebel and play loud music , this character was a great success story for the Kerrigans. Darryl also has two other sons, one is an "ideas man", a sort of Del Trotter wannabe , but you cant get over the crap he wants to buy. He asks his father what a pulpit is. The other son is in prison. In a way , he was a tragic figure. In prison, but yet he and his family were never far from each others thoughts. It was a very touching story which really should've been explored more deeply. Darryl also has a daughter and is basically the apple of his eye. She is a hairdresser and marrys a Kick-boxer fanatic.When they return from their honeymoon, well the scenes and dialogue were superb. The newly married couple talk about the quality of entertainment on the plane , and the hotel service , not to mention the 24 hr channel on Kick-boxing.The Asiatic culture and history simply passed them by.

Darryl employs a solicitor , who cant operate a photocopier , then chastises him for losing his faith in his legal abillities. The solicitor was great in this film , thrown in a legal dispute in which he was clearly out of his depth , yet still went along for the ride.

The Castle was a story of independence and sentiment.Most notable however was the Aussie wit and the idealistic call for the'fair go ' society.Darryl had a Lebanese neighbour , an old poor bloke who had obviously seen better days and a divorced woman who somehow represented the independent knocked about Aussie woman. This I believe was a bit of social commentary where the old values and ways of Australia adapts to the new cultural and social diversification represented in this picture.

All I can say is , is that this film was special in terms of Australian identity and pride. Internationally though , this is as close to how Australians really are , funny , loyal and lovable.
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1900 (1976)
A great film if you have four hours of your life to kill.
30 May 2001
I saw this film on the Bank Holiday , remembering I'd seen it before , but wanted a refresher. Anyway the film was set in Italy at the turn of the 20th century. Italy was still by far and away an agricultural country. Held by tradition and class. Burt Lancaster was great as the grandfather , who although was the owner or boss. He seemed to have a very philosophical and benign view of the world. One great scene was when one of the labourers daughter joins him in the milking hut , and tells her that a mans idea of disaster is not the loss of a limb or the death of someone close, but when a man is struck down by impotency. Shame viagra wasn't available. The story briskly moves on to the rise of fascism and how the bosses who met in the Church conspired to destroy the growing force of socialism and communism. What follows is disturbing to see. How the true and real nature of fascism is shown , with scenes of murder , decadence and unashamed greed. Resistance is broken among the peasents and friendships are strained as the chaos and surrealism begins to take control of the principle characters. The idealism and humanity that was displayed in childhood are somehow eradicated as the inevitable class conflict overwhelms a community that in all ends and purposes have suffered much under the murderous and villany of Attillo ( played by Donald Sutherland).

Anyway if you have four hours of your life to kill , 1900 is well worth a view , but dont expect the Mrs or girlfriend to sit through it with you , only unless she is well into war , politics and serious drama.
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A good film with a good cast.
3 April 2001
After reading a sample of reviewers notes on the film , I felt compelled to give a defence. First and foremost , this film is a treat to war-buffs like myself , and a good all-round entertaining and at some times disturbing look at what happened at Stalingrad.

Jude Law was brilliant as the young Red Army sniper, he has picked up criticism for his South London accent...no problem with me. Isnt it actually better to have a peasent/working class tone in the voice , because lets face it..Red Army soldiers were not made up of middle class types who knew there p's and q's. Red Army soldiers were stoic , rough, repressed and extremely tough men and women .So Jude Law should ignore the critics over accent , because people, we have truly moved on from the hashed pigeon accents that were served up for far far too long.

Joseph Fiennes was good as the Red Army Political Commissar, especially when he was confronted with the dream ..and noble dream of equality , justice and socialism turned to dust as he was forced to confront his own behaviour that made the fundamental philosophy of communism flawed.

Rachel Weisz did a good job as the love interest...I felt the director missed an opportunity to expose the evil the Red Army was up against when Rachel Weisz talked of what happened to her family...a flash-back would've done wonders for the film , as the cinema audience would be compelled to appreciate the Red Army and the atrocities they endured under the Nazis.

Which brings me on to Ed Harris...little dialogue , which I thought was pretty good. What can a German sniper possibly talk about , when his stock in trade is patience , silence and being completly cold in his relationship with everything and everyone around him. His performance was pretty good.

The Film..well its great , but then Im a war buff. Come and See is still the best film to see when looking at the Second World War on the Eastern Front...Saving Private Ryan and the Thin Red Line still better in effects and story...but this film does not deserve the unjust criticisms that have been laid at its door.

A good film, with a good cast.
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Come and See (1985)
Awesome , powerful and brutal.
20 February 2001
Come and See , well if you hate violence and brutality then you certainly wont want to see this. This Picture set in 1943 occupied Byelorussia is most probably the most true to life war movie ever, only Saving Private Ryan and Schindlers List can come close. What is amazing in this picture , is how the director uses a child's perspective and view in circumstances that you can only describe as evil. The director pulls no punches in how bad times actually were for peasents and partisans alike as German and collaborators show the viewer how low and depraved a fascist military machine actually is.

I dont want to go into the plot , as this film is a MUST for anyone who considers themselves a film buff. Disturbing and terrifying scenes do not in anyway spoil the flow of the film , but when viewing this film , please desist from seeing this movie in the early evening , as you wont sleep.

The acting accolades of course goes to the main characters , but I wish to give a special mention for the Russian Partisan Commander , who was just simply , superb. Everything about him was what you'd expect a Red Army Officer to be. The looks , the attitude and the steely determination is simply a credit to the actor. The best scene involving the Red Army Commander was when they had captured an Einsatgruppen Unit , and the SS soldier , who knew they were facing death was allowed to speak , after there own Commanding Officer was pleading pitifully for his own life. The SS soldier tells his captors that they are sub-human and that there peasent belief in Marxism was grounds enough that they should be eradicated. The Red Army Commander then in just a few words tells his men , that they are not just fighting for Socialism , but also the right to exist.What happens after...well you'll have to see.

Come and See is nothing short of disturbing, awesome, powerful and brutal. This is the best film I have ever seen regarding films portraying the Eastern Front 1941-1945 war. This film should be engraved in gold as the standard for any budding war film director. Only Saving Private Ryan and Schindlers List can be put in the same League table.
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An eighties insight
19 February 2001
When I watched The Breakfast Club on TV the other day , I was surprised that I felt the same emotions after viewing the film the first time round. As an 80's kid , admittedly an English one. The characters of the film were so similar to how we all actually were. The geek , we all had one of them in a class , the wannabe rebel who thought he was smarter than everyone else , and the Sporty type , filled with a demanding father's high expectations. Im so sorry that Ive omitted the female cast , as I myself went to an all boys school...gives a clue to why you find Englishman sexually and emotionally repressed , but hey thats another story.

Anyway , the film showed an insight to the social-strata of America , it seemed that safe nice middle-class types only get into contact with the Plebians at High School...Im sure thats not really how it is. The Film I believe is a top drawer offering on how confused and demanding the 80's really were for children portrayed by The Breakfast Club. Ally Sheedy's character (Allison I believe) was a real eye-opener , the Cinderella , a girl enforced into obscurity by Parents who ignored her , and yet with one make-over we see a real princess who instantly seals the affections of Andy (Emilio Estevez)...

For American readers , the kids in the 80's in Britain were not only so-so similar to the kids in the film , but if you somehow added the Industrial and Political conflict that existed outside the School gate then you would've had an even more sharper and cynical scope for characters if a Breakfast Club version was ever made or set in the UK.

For the lighter version of the film , the music and dancing was pure escapist brilliance. Especially when the scene follows on from the Teacher talking to the Janitor , saying "these kids are gonna run the Country". Well lets hope the leaders in 2010 will be able to dance and do make-overs as they try and pay for Pensions and Healthcare and keep us all from bombing each other..

Anyway the best line in the film is when Bender says to Brian after doing an impression of his home life(which Judd Nelson's character was secretly jealous of) saying "your a parents wet-dream". That was such a great line.

I recommend The Breakfast Club , because one it is like a film anthem for the p***ed off kids of the 80s , which I will gladly admit that Im a definate one of that Generation B club. (B is for Betrayed)
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Aces High (1976)
Journeys End with WW1 planes
15 February 2001
Ive seen this film about four times. A great film that didn't flinch from showing a class-ridden and brutal look at the reality of World War 1. Malcolm MacDowell was excellent as the Squadron Leader and Christopher Plummer was superb as the 'kindly uncle' figure who gave allowances and understanding to young pilots who were faced with the prospect of death every day on active duty.

World War One films are very hard to make , simply because the Director has to capture and expose the horror of a modern war in a period where the participants are caught in a mood of adventure and duty.Aces High demonstrates this fact entirely.

The film is based on the book Journeys End , and damn I missed it when it was on at the theatre , but hey. Anyway this film version is turned into the Play with Planes.

Anyway a great Film and brilliantly acted. I highly recommend this film to any war film buff , like myself.
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A non-serious porno flick
13 February 2001
Yeah yeah , Ive watched this film. Georgina Spelvin opens the scene with a display of middle-aged romping that leaves her wealthy husband dead. The plot runs along the lines , that the rich lady , in order to remain in her expensive lifestyle pairs her daughters off with rich heirs to millions, so that a problem is taken off her hands. One of her daughters is Annette Haven , I use this term with a firm tongue in my cheek , but she is actually pretty good in this picture.

The usual shots of oral and penetration scenes abound...but the great moment in the film , is when Georgina Spelvin takes her daughters to this rather over-indulged Jeremy Irons character (He even sounds like him)and there have this sexual competition which involves Sado-Masochism and lesbian scenes...not bad. The clincher for arousal goes to the 3 in a bed romp , with one innocent (you have to smirk) man being introduced to the world of Menage Trois by 2 maids.

Quite rightly one of Georgina's daughters runs off from this horror of orgy and finds true love with an earlier partner in the film. Meanwhile like Annette Haven does , she is having the time of her life by grinding a wealthy fat playboy into submission. To sum up, this is a non-serious porno flick ( Which porno is serious??) but Annette Haven's performance is actually quite good , for a woman with an insatiable appetite for sex. Georgina Spelvin went on to (smirk) better things with The Devil in Miss Jones and Police Academy , which I think was a cameo...

Anyway an Annette Haven's fan must this flick...Whatever happened to her????
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