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The Cave (2019)
Awful film of an amazing story
We need to separate out the amazing story that was the rescue of the football team, from this awful movie.
There are many lessons to be learned from this dreadful project - first to market is not always a good thing. Getting real life participants to recreate their parts often doesn't work - and ends up in repeated scenes where they just grunt. Employing low cost actors (perhaps to make them look like real people) doesn't work well either. Focussing on little bits of story that haven't had much coverage (water pumps man) just gets tedious. Repeated scenes of people cheering and congratulating each other gets really tedious. Repeated shots of murky diving gets exceedingly tedious.
Wait for a better movie version of this story, save your time and money, and avoid this film.
Don't waste two hours of your life
The 2019 London Film Festival gave this movie a prime spot - not sure if they actually watched the whole film beforehand - but the half empty screening suggested the audience has better taste than the festival programmer.
So many things are wrong with this movie - mostly the acting. Apart from a few of the leads, most of the performances from the rest of the cast were patchy at best, and more consistently poor. It does give the viewer an appreciation for acting in other films - but it is painful to watch.
Whilst the first church scene was vaguely interesting, and the second only mildly dull, the third and the fourth church scenes just made me want to pull my hair out.
Some of the sound is pretty awful too. Whilst I understand that re-recording sound is expensive - surely a competent director does not shoot a scene beside a major road. Avoiding noisy roads isn't rocket science!
Then there's the grim script. Most films where misery is the central theme have "comic relief" moments, where the audience can breathe, before the next onslaught. This film doesn't really have any let up, as it piles misery on top of misery, with the just briefest hint that there might possibly have been some pleasure happening elsewhere.
The basic summary is that grim stuff that happened in the west 40 years ago still happens in Guatemala today - that's it! Save yourself two of the longest hours of your life, and go watch paint dry instead - it will be more rewarding.
The ending is more like a European film ending than an American one - there isn't a nicely sewn up drawing together of the characters on screen ... it's more left up to the viewer to come up with their own ending.
I loved the ending - but I can see some people hating it !
The director was challenged in the London Film Festival screening as to whether he had considered another ending - but he said absolutely no way - this was the only ending there was ever going to be !
The very mixed London Film Festival audience loved the screening - I've never seen so much applause during the Q&A.
It really is a film with widespread appeal. Go and see it for yourself !
I Do (2012)
gay male chick flick
I saw this at this year's London Lesbian & Gay film festival ... and whilst I normally stay for the Q&A after each film ... this was one of the few that I couldn't bear to!
Don't get me wrong, I was carried along the emotional roller coaster with everybody else - I was welling up with the best of them ... but ultimately it was a fairly trashy film.
Some of the clichés and poor writing was simply inexcusable ... and some of the scenes felt as clunky as a home video. And some of the acting was fairly grim too!
Highlights were the male bodies, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and the beautiful Mike Manning.
If you want a slushy cry-fest, go for it, just be prepared for the issues listed above!
Beautiful short ... will stay with you ...
I saw this as part of a collection of short films at last month's London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival ... and this was the film that stayed with me most.
The location is absolutely stunning, and the film makes the most of it with truly haunting images - and it is these that linger in the mind long after the film finishes ...
The storyline is somewhat derivative, but the character of Jan is well formed, and you can really feel his emotions.
The ending is one of those which leaves it up to you to decide - which I like, as I imagine the different possibilities ... but if you're the sort of person who wants everything to be nicely sewn up, prepare to be disappointed !
Beautiful, moving film ...
I saw this recently at the London Film Festival, and the organisers tried to keep quiet about the gay element ... but Time Out described it as a Basque Brokeback - so, the cover was blown ! When the director introduced it, he warned the audience that it was a slow film, but hoped it wasn't boring. It was definitely slow, but definitely was not boring. The slow pace of the film mirrored the slow pace of rural life, and the stunning scenery helped too.
A friend commented that the lack of soundtrack was disconcerting, but I found it concentrated attention on subject of the film ...
The lead performance was outstanding, as he wrestled with his sexuality ... and the rest of the actors were very good too. Everything about the film rang true.
Afterwards the director mentioned that the film had been made on half a million euro - a truly phenomenal achievement.
Definitely worth seeing.
Plan B (2009)
not very original (minor spoiler warning) ...
I saw this film recently at the London Film Festival ... and whilst the organisers had tried to keep the gay storyline quiet, it was fairly obvious, and the Time Out review finally gave it away ! The story ambles along pleasantly, but the obvious clichés of a man falling in love with another man appear ... but with Lucas Ferraro being quiet pleasant to look at, it's not a bad way to spend a couple of hours ...
In the Q&A afterwards, the director was under pressure as to why he had made such a big deal of two men falling in love. Marco Berger handled it quite well, and insisted that whilst in London media/art circles it may be easy to be gay, it isn't in South America, and many other parts of the world.
Pop Art (2008)
a beautiful little film
A fantastically natural performance by the lead child actor is central to this beautiful little film. The rest of the cast also put in creditable showings, but it is the lead on whom the film hangs.
The scenery is beautiful - showing Britain at its best in the middle of summer, and an old school adds to the atmosphere.
The storyline is innovative, so I won't give it away, but it is both challenging and light at the same time !
I'm not sure why the title was chosen - it doesn't seem to relate to the content of the film.
Definitely worth seeing.
a good challenging visually stunning film ...
Reading a synopsis of the film, I feared that it would be full on sci-fi ... but thankfully there were two strands - one set in contemporary London, and another of the more fantasy version ...
It really is the sort of film where knowing too much about the plot before seeing it, will spoil. I would say that if you like films where all the strands are nicely tied up at the end, you will be frustrated. A few of the strands are resolved, but I still can't work out what a couple of the characters were up to !
Eva Green has the largest role, and is mostly good, but at times she seems a bit wooden. Sam Riley was quite convincing as a bit of a loser, and Ryan Phillippe seemed to enjoy his masked role.
I saw the premiere at The London Film Festival and the director explained that some of the sci-fi imagery was based on the spires of Cambridge. Ryan Phillippe said that he did indeed act in all the masked shots, even those where he fights the "clerics" - having studied martial arts since he was eight !
This film will make you think, but be prepared for a gradual exposition, rather than any great revelations.
The World Unseen (2007)
what a disappointment ...
i saw this film at the London Film Festival ... drawn to it by the subject matter ...
but what a disappointment - the acting was at times cringe worthy ... the script was at times so obvious and telegraphed, you knew at the start of a scene where it was going ...
and there seemed to be an over-reliance on the period props - just having a nice car, is not enough to carry a scene ! the writer/director was there to take the plaudits - she said that with the film being such a small, low-budget production, she had been able to chose the music, and the main casting.
unless you have a strong interest in the subject matter, this is definitely one to avoid.
illuminating, but leaves so many questions ...
I saw this at the London Film Festival, and was impressed by what appeared to be a balanced picture - of both the Peoples Temple church and Jim Jones himself. The film is captivating in its chronological story telling, leading up to the tragic events in Guyana.
However I did find the repeat use of some archival footage a bit weak, and unless I missed it, it was never explained that the "Planning Commission" was part of the Peoples Temple itself.
Like any good documentary, it left me wanting to find out more, but I did think that it was an omission not to attempt any consideration of what led Jones to turn what had been a beneficial organisation, into a murderous one. Neither does the film attempt to look into how the organisation was run - presumably Jones couldn't have directly controlled the 1,000 inhabitants of Jonestown? The source of the poison and weapons is also a subject that doesn't feature, or the question of what happened to the money afterwards?
Overall this is a really interesting film, especially for those of us who were too young to remember the events.
interesting attack on the porn industry ... but somewhat empty ...
It was a bit of a surprise to discover that the majority of the film consists of animated sequences, with just a bit of grainy video footage (the preview I'd read suggested otherwise) ... but after recovering from that shock, I found the film somehow lacking - whilst watching it, I suspended my disbelief, and was quite take by the characters and winced at the violence. But looking back, it all just seems a bit unreal - whereas thinking back to violent non-animated films, I recall them as violent ... this I just recall as being animated !
At the London Film Festival screening, the director was on stage afterwards for an interesting Q&A - where he defended the slow pace of the film, by insisting that he would have liked to make it faster, but the 1.5m dollar budget didn't allow. He also revealed that part of his inspiration for making the film was the work of Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, whose photos he initially found erotic ... but eventually he considered the women behind the photos, and how they must all be daughters and sisters (an issue he repeatedly brought up). Anders insisted that in Denmark, whilst pornography is openly available, the women involved are regarded as being a sort of underclass - and his film was partly an attempt to expose this hypocrisy. He admitted that they had considered different endings, but the one he chose was the only one that seemed to work !
fantastic film - more than just explicit sex ... with plenty of explicit sex !
First off the sex ... it really is a bit jaw dropping to be sitting in cinema watching the opening 10 minutes of inter-cut sex between the different characters ... if you've never seen any porn films (i'm sure there's somebody out there), then this might be a bit much ! The film continues to follow the lives of the main characters, without ever getting too morose, which seems to happen to most films of this ilk. The music is used to great effect - giving a lift, when despair is threatening to set it ...
I loved the use of the New York scape graphics ... it's another brilliant technique, and everything becomes slightly mellow as the film sweeps over Manhattan and out ...
At the UK premiere in the London Film Festival, the director, producer and 5 of the cast gave a great Q&A after the screening. They revealed that the excellent chemistry between James and Jamie was partly influenced by them starting a relationship a couple of months before the first workshop was held! And whilst they are still together, Justin Bond told us how he is no longer with a cast member which he was previously seeing. John Cameron Mitchell promised that many more details would be revealed in the DVD extras !
It will be interesting to see if they considered different endings - the one they did choose is a bit of a typical Hollywood ending, where all the threads are sown up, and the characters walk off into the sunset to live happily every after. This however doesn't spoil what will no doubt become a cult must-see film.
En folkefiende (2005)
Don't think Ibsen, think modern European film ... with great scenery ...
I went to see this film as part of the Norwegian Film Festival in London, with the director on stage afterwards for a Question & Answer session. I really enjoyed the film - the lead character was very interesting, it has a well developed plot, and a few great supporting characters/actors.
The director's insight afterwards was illuminating - he revealed that the lead character was loosely based on Michael Moore. He also talked about his other films - he expressed pride in Prozac Nation, despite the lack of a widespread release, and he even said that he was reasonably happy with the Hollywood remake of Insomnia.
Definitely a thought provoking film that is worth seeing for its examination of those who don't go along with mainstream opinions, and flawed hero characters ... without a nicely tied up ending!
Sud express (2005)
A moving story, with a challenge
The writer-directors introduced this film at the London Film Festival, and encouraged the audience to look to the film for the emotion rather than action, and to value the silences as well as the dialogue.
This is fitting advice for a film that is full of emotion - mostly loss and longing it seemed - and where the silences really are as important as the words. This is not just a film about the train route, as its characters and story lines are universal - it challenges viewers to consider how similar they are to those on the screen.
The project started off as a documentary, but the directors decided to turn it into a fiction film. Whilst it does have a feel of a film that has evolved, the story lines are more developed and rounded than many comparable projects. Some of the actors are clearly not seasoned professionals, but this doesn't detract from the qualities of the film.
The directors said that being from Salamanca, the characters with an inability to talk about emotions most resembled themselves - however they have managed to express on screen these character traits in a very revealing and challenging film.
A Cock and Bull Story (2005)
Well worth getting out of bed for ...
Just saw this at the London Film Festival - really enjoyed the film, proper belly aching laugh stuff ... and then we had Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on stage afterwards, not quite for a Q&A, more just putting on a show - it was almost like a continuation of some of the scenes in the film itself. Great fun.
For Little Britain fans, the David Walliams part is tiny, so don't expect too much. Whilst the "production assistant" who never gets named has a much bigger part than her "rest of cast listed alphabetically" billing would suggest !
Definitely worth seeing ... and then there's the South Bank Show feature about it as well to watch ...
Ma mère (2004)
Disturbing, but strangely amusing
I saw this at the London Film Festival - having seen "A Hole in My Heart" (Ett hâl i mitt hjärta) the previous evening I was prepared to be disturbed ... not sure which was more difficult - probably the Swedish film.
During Ma Mere, the usual trickle of audience members left throughout the film as they found various scenes too hard to take (or hadn't read the programme), but what was really weird was that at times the depravity in the film was so ridiculous that people just laughed ! This was the film's 3rd screening, and it was the last day of the festival, so I guess that the audience weren't committed fans.
At the end of the film, with the soothing music, there was a general amusement amongst the viewers - I don't think we took it very seriously !
Ett hål i mitt hjärta (2004)
Hard work ...
Just when you think that the film has done everything it can to shock and disgust you ... it gets worse ! Thinking about scenes in isolation, they shouldn't be too bad - but I guess it's the whole development of the characters that make events so disturbing.
The director was on stage afterwards (London Film Festival) and said that he thought there were something like 68 different messages in the film, but wouldn't expand on any of them, and wouldn't answer questions about why he had blanked out all the logos - other than to confirm that he had done it on purpose. He also claimed that he didn't understand the film himself, and that he would much prefer to be making children's movies rather than this type of film.
Before the film he had predicted that 9% of the audience would walk out during the film - he seemed pleased that the dropout rate was lower than expected !
Worth seeing, if you like being made to feel uncomfortable ...