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Secret Army: Ring of Rosies (1979)
Season 3, Episode 5
10/10
The Bubonic Plague - Airmen via North Africa
14 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
THIRTY YEARS AFTER THE ORIGINAL TRANSMISSION DATE: This is still a tense and gripping tele-drama. Clifford Rose, who plays KESSLER is very much on form so is his colleague Major Hans Dietrich Reinhardt.

Written by John Brason - This episode deals with a rather unusual scenario - a safe house that slowly becomes infected with the Bubonic Plague - The Doctor works out that the only place that it could originate is North Africa - latterly in WW2 a place from which fighter pilots made a 'rund trip' Once the doctor diagnoses the infection, he warns that if it was peace time that hundreds and thousands could be infected and killed by this disease - which is airborne. It is therefore decided that all those infected in the safe house REMAIN in solitary confinement until the epidemic is over, Monique takes the strain on behalf of Albert who is in prison on a trumped up charge of the murder or his wife's (accidental) death - he has in fact been framed by Paul Vacor - leader of the Communist Party in an attempt to take revenge for the slaughter of his men, as Albert wanted rid of Max as He held strong and dangerous Communist views and was infiltrating lifeline to take over as a cell; Albert's suspicions were found to be true, so the ambush of the communists was in fact arranged between himself and the Head of Belgian Police wit whom he collaborates.

The MAIN theme of this episode is to highlight the Wider effects that the spread of the Bubonic Plague could have.

Many had to be burned to contain infection, and as Monique sings her song in the-Candide later, the presence of a lighter in her hand brings back deep emotional memories of the last few days.

Monique manages to visit Albert in prison and makes an effort to look pretty - this goes un-noticed by Albert mostly, as his main focus is ALWAYS on the Candide and LIFELINE - Monique is currently making the decisions.

Another stunning episode.
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Chasing the Dragon (1996 TV Movie)
8/10
Single/Separated Mother with Young Teen Kid Gets Hooked On Heroin
14 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Based on a True Story . . .

The premise of this film is to illustrate that through fairly normal events its possible for an outwardly 'decent' mother to get drawn into Heroin addiction.

***semi spoiler*** Some of the scenes are fairly inaccurate - whilst others almost make you want to get the 'fix' yourself.

Computer technician/graphic artist woman with good relationship with her young teen kid spirals into addiction after work colleague, who is a 'chipper' (-someone who can take + enjoy it now and again - ) Then spirals into an addiction that leads her eventually to scoring off 'street' dealers after losing contact with her steady dealer.

The scenes that show her coming down and getting 'sick' are often VERY real - especially the first real 'night sweat' Prior to all these events she began a relationship with a guy who just happened to have lost his wife to the bottle, and insists he has an inner radar not to get hooked on such women. Some radar! However after after some late turn ups and weird behaviour, the boyfriend challenges her as to 'what is going on' His radar begins to get more with it and demands that she empty out her bag; she hits the roof and storms out.

Because of the excellent and open relationship she had developed prior to this tragedy, he is the first to 'find' some real evidence in her bag; he then looks around the hose for her 'stash' - apparently his sensibility is from school lessons on drug taking - and when he discovers a large stash in the bathroom he flushes it! NOT A HAPPY WOMAN when she takes her next bath and its 'disappeared'.

The kid keeps one back and places it on the meal table - she then goes into further denial - admits it and says its no worse than dope.

Thge kid does all the right things and calls her friends and generally puts her in a position where she has to come 'clean' - if you'll pardon the pun.

The movie takes the viewer through some pretty arduous situations where danger is not far away.

Eventaully she gets help from a professional organisation and does cold turkey - you'll have to watch the film to see what happens next . . . .
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Passion and Prejudice (2001 TV Movie)
8/10
Modern psychological perhaps sexual slavery?
11 February 2007
A reformed prisoner shares a grateful kind of "lurving" with a lustful & jealous prison psychologist on his out/rehabilitation days. It all ends with revenge in a style that is both deceitful and prejudicial.

The locations used include the breathtaking Nova Scotia.

The lead female gives a convincing performance showing great versatility - because of the building of her relationship with him is mainly built upon materialism and openings otherwise closed to a black guy in the small minded community - when she realises he wants a life of his own - and there are early signs she turns and its nothing short of the same penetration on which she thrived.

I caught this melodrama/thriller on TRUE MOVIES FREEVIEW (SKY TV) - and s the premise of the film is fairly easily worked out - its quite taught throughout.

NO Spoilers HERE - but joy for the two of them turns to tragedy, as soon as he meets up with girl of his own age at college.
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Secret Army: The Last Run (1979)
Season 3, Episode 1
9/10
The Allied Advance Thretens to Cut The Evasion Lines - Albert Rethinks
9 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
30 Years after the original transmission date . . . on UK TV DRAMA Feb 07 Brante took his own life in the previous episode - introducing Reinhart - his replacement to the series (Terrence Hardiman) - he gets off to a bad start with Kessler - and his general attitude is that of truculence.

However, he seems more determined and more able to collect little facts and place them together than his former colleague.

Kessler takes his ladyfriend, the Belgian ex high class prostitute and former lover of a Baron - Kessler is falling for her more deeply.

Reinhart immediately begins work on continuing the interrogation of an airmen who has already had contact with lifeline - therefore creating a dangerous situation in that under interrogation the airman could lead the SS to the safe-houses.

The head of the aggressive communist wing blackmails the head of local police to discover how his friends were ambushed previously. Alber Foiret's name is mentioned - thus begins an internal war between the Communist Party and Lifeline - Events really begin to hot up in this brilliant series now - as with all of the old BBC series, the lighting improves, the scenery improves, and - this is where the GRIPPING story lines begin!
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Secret Army: Day of Wrath (1978)
Season 2, Episode 13
8/10
An evader places both his own people AND Lifeline in Danger
8 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
BROADCAST ON UkTV DRAMA in Feb 2007 - 30 years after the ORIGINAL transmission date and every bit as good!

A FEW SPOILERS

An RAF evader (De Beers) manages to escape whilst being interrogated at SS Headquarters. His brother was killed during the same interrogation, and the airman is filled with hate and revenge.

Kessler the head of the SS hits the roof and threatens the guards that they will be posted to the Eastern Front! The escaped prisoner seeks out Alan - an old friend of long ago - not knowing that Alan is deeply involved with Lifeline. The prisoner's anger swells as time passes, as the thoughts of his brother's torture that lead to his death.

Alan reports the events to Albert the head of Lifeline - and forewarns Alan that he must have a close eye kept on him. Albert's intuition serves him well - he has gone on his return having stolen some money from Alan.

Alan awaits for his return; in the meantime news has spread quickly of the killing of a German soldier for which Kessler orders the lives of 20 random Belgian citizens to be executed.

It all gets very messy, and its decided without the knowledge or permission of Albert that De Beers shall go 'down the line' back to Britain for the purpose of coming back another day to take part as an airman in the war.

His return to Britain and Revenge happens very quickly; Kessler takes leave and leaves his colleague in charge.

Albert in the meantime learns about De Beers being taken down the line, and makes it clear to his lover and colleague that it can never happen again - threatening the demise of Monique's life should she go behind his back again.

Whilst the SS are being shown new technology involving TV cameras and 'Big Brother' tactics, a British Fighter Plane is caught in the sights of the plane - piloted by DE BEERS. Kessler returns early from his leave.

De Beers takes the opportunity to inflict great damage on SS headquarters, and this is seen through the new camera surveillance technology - during the shooting commotion, Kessler is saved by Airman colleague Brante.

A special delivery letter giving hard evidence of disloyalty to the Fuhrer was left unopened before the shooting due to the meeting they had to attend about the technology.

Even though Kessler's life was saved by Brante, Kessler opens the letter and is disturbed by the contents - leaving Brante with a pistol, with an intimation to do the right thing.

It was necessary to summarise this episode due to the fact that there were many threads therein that needed to be mentioned.
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Secret Army: Guests at God's Table (1978)
Season 2, Episode 10
9/10
Lifeline (The Belgian Resistance) have to Negotiate With Orphans
5 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Repeated in Feb 2007 & Apr 2007- UKTV Drama (Sky) - Over 30 years after its original transmission!

Its WW2 - Neither the Gestapo nor Lifeline rest with their activities; The Gestapo to pursue lifeline whose task is to help get Airmen back to their country. It's set at Christmas time. A group of children have discovered an airman; the elder child (Whim) is knowledgeable of Lifeline through an older friend, and sets out a list of child-like demands for his Brothers and Sisters - wishing to give themselves a decent Christmas - which is just a few days away - a memorable time.

Through a network of contacts, the deal is put together with handing over times worked out etc.

In the background, the thread of a previous storyline builds in the background concerning the division of loyalties in the Third Reich and its Party Members.

Rheinhart and Kessler have an argument when the subject of 'extermination' and 'grave' matters is brought up in conversation; Rheinhart thinks back to the recent death of his family during heavy bombing in Berlin, and struggles to remain composed when Kessler suggests that death of ANY kind for the 'beloved' Fatherland is in good cause.

Kessler leaves the Candide restaurant (paid for by British Intelligence) in a temper.

Meanwhile the trade off with airman is ongoing.

Whim's older friend has Whim stealing more snapss, and gets caught by the German Police. but due to Lifeline's connections they get the charge changed for him to be let go.

Quite a simple, uncomplicated wholesome episode peppered with simple values to create profound thought... AN EXCELLENT drama from the 70s - not lost or out of place in the year 2007. 9/10
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Baby M (1988 TV Movie)
9/10
Altruism in Surrogacy - ?
2 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Warning: spoilers.

This film drama is factually based on the surrogate birth of what the media and justice system opted to call "Baby M" - The film is set in the 1980's. The surrogate mother in real life was Mary Beth Whitehead, and the receiving parents (who donated US$10k EXPENSES) were Bill and Betsy Stern.

Mary Beth agreed to become artificially inseminated by Bill Stern. Mary Beth, by contract agreed to carry the child, and at the time of birth, give the baby up to the receiving infertile wife Betsy.

All parties signed surrogacy contracts.

BUT - Although as soon as the baby was delivered it was handed to Mary Beth - uh uh - as she held it, you could see in her heart she had decided she was not about to go through with it all.

Then after much emotional wrangling and pleading, Mary Beth was allowed by the Sterns to have the baby for the 'weekend' - this was the begnning of a dash to Florida to M.B.'s family, where a year avoiding and court battles came about, eventaully, after a court order, which culminated in the court order demanding she give up the baby. Mary Beth's husband sneaked off with the baby out of the window, during the commotion.

I hope that's enough spoilers! (and to get you into the film of course) but it does show equally all parties involved in the mess, and warns of the problems that the depth of the human soul can be embroiled.

The above is but the START of the film! - Do give it a chance - I guess we were lucky here in the UK as we get chunks of such films even on commercial channels in half hour slots - we can obviously see that its pieced together from a mini series with fade to blacks.

The film is driven by pure emotion and inner turmoil, it was a success being nominated for many awards - and winning one.
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Secret Army: Weekend (1978)
Season 2, Episode 7
9/10
Two American Airmen Decide to Go It Alone - Causing Havoc
31 January 2007
For anyone who has never seen SECRET ARMY - let me tell you its an absolute BBC masterpice from the 70s -

although I must admit I enjoyed 'allo 'allo too (which was BORN from the very real and serious Secret Army) as a spoof - Its hardly a 'take' on secret army.

Its fascinating to watch these BBC series grow in strength and quality as its success grows - the sets get better and the filming is extended to more expensive locations.

This is an episodes with many nodes running through - It portrays the SS (Kessler) removing priceless paintings from a Belgian Convent after a tip off.

The two American airmen who were shot down decide not to seek a 'friend' from Lifeline as is their usual instruction - they unintentionally capture and kidnap the head of the SS along with his colleague.

Their plan fails as they choose to hide and travel along with a Dutch Bargee - who knows far more than the airmen.

Also in this episode the bargee's wife is taken along with her husband for questioning at Gestapo headquarters, and severe consequences ensue.

As its a series, its difficult to convey the electric atmosphere of this well-researched WW2 drama - focused on 'Lifeline' run by Albert Foiret, its realism even in 2007 - some 30 years on is incredible! Its available of course of DVD - but is often shown as a whole series (2 seasons) on UKDrama.
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1/10
A 1963 Look At The UK's Swinging 'pop' scene/showcase/story
10 December 2006
Quite a weird one this! Maninly revered for the Joe Meek production of pop, appearances of Steve Marriot, David Hemmings, Gene Vincent, and Meek's understudy 'Heinz'.

Squeaky appearance of the girl who played Lucile Hewitt in Coronation Street around the time, as well as an appearance of Peter (Crackerjack!) Glaze ! Yes really!

Its a mish-mash of pop songs of the time, and follows a shallow story line of a guy who is in a band called "The Smart Alecs" & works for the Post Office! who loses a tape that his band makes but is accidentally found by a producer - the story is small fry compared to the delights of the performers popping up, including Gene Vincent.

A real wacky short film, that catches the imagination.
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8/10
Dirk In The Dark
19 November 2006
Not much about the film itself - just a few wacky observations . . .

A very astute version of Shaw's classic play - director Anthony Asquith, allows the characters to revel in the pathos that The Doctor spills over each scene.

Although Dirk Bogarde has his comedy smirk on, his performance is utterly commanding.

A nice little quote is *when you're as old as I am it doesn't matter how old a man is when he dies* :) In the latter scenes, the high jinks continue with (poor) old Dirk in shot in the background.

The colouring of the film is quite brutal - but lends a hand to the mystery of the plot - IMHO.

A nifty film for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
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Essex Boys (2000)
9/10
Essex Boys ... "She Done The Lot Of Us!"
30 March 2006
Gripping - often complicated (so watch it twice) - true (fact) based UK roots driven thriller, with all the hallmarks of the UK (Southend) 'Urban Myths' for enjoyment AND the realities of Essex Boys & Gangsters in contemporary UK - yep, Southend have a few nights out.

Gutsy, violent, nasty paybacks, pill-popping, surprising, brilliant acting (considering Bean is in it) - its one hell of 'sexy' flick!

Everything is happening so fast at times, you really need to do a mental rewind during the less demanding scenes - Essex Boys allows you to meet some of the more 'curious' as well as stereotypical 'known' type villains - don't let a fur coat fool you - on a man or woman!

For our international friends, bear in mind that Southend is a place where shooting is not just reserved for photographers.

(In REAL LIFE the shootings of Patrick Tate, Anthony Tucker and Craig Rolfe were carried out by Michael Steele and Jack Wholmes) (1995) who were played convincingly by Tom Wilkinson and Peter Chase; Steele is almost amphibious on those marshes!

Loads of local scenes to goggle at - something for everyone - in a weird way it - I guess it depends who and where you are!

New to the country? It Could act as a 'Public Information Film' for the curious! lol - ENJOY!

The pace is slowed occasionally and reviewed with a narrative by a young Charlie Creed-Miles - who plays 'Billy Whizz' and his description - without which, you may be left - well maybe just left... and remember - its dark out there.

***MUSIC*** The soundtrack often gives a manic pace in exactly the right places - and its carefully chosen for the 'era' of the 'pill-popping' (e) house - type stuff around then.

It really DOES add to the film; the music that is ;)

I'm probably not alone at being surprised at the groans of other comments referring to the 'cheap' or 'no class' touch to the film - sure there's no Spectacular Hollywood effects, but the pathos of the acting dispenses with the need for a multi million budget.

OK, it only grossed just over 100k the opening weekend - but what the heck? - it a pretty off the wall gritty EXCITING Crime Thriller, and pacey film; Absolute Cult Value in years to come.

I'm giving it a NINE (9) coz as a reviewer, it really floated MY boat!

Look out for it on ITV4 during April 06 (FREEVIEW!) as well as the now FILM4 (Freeview) which it will no doubt pop up on soon.
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8/10
A Teacher of piano teaches just piano - oui?
29 January 2006
The more 'disturbing' scenes are in fact very disturbing and the gut reaction is to alienate ourselves from the characters in the scene as layer after layer of human vulnerability is exposed. The photography, whilst close up is hardly pornographic - there's no need as the story carries itself.

Although a simple comment - Its really a brilliant title -for this film- - "The Piano Teacher" - ask yourself - what ELSE could this be about? A Teacher of piano teaches piano oui? Whilst what I am about to say may appear trivial - but I hope you'll agree it has a point... If the film and all its posters were British - then the mere title may serve to suggest eccentric behaviour or perhaps a piano teacher who has other gifts.

BUT lets not fool ourselves we're - The posters and promo promise its a deliciously dark European masterpiece - and we know that *THIS* piano teacher is going to be a strong catalyst on many sensual levels.

The pathos and inner journey(s) of the film keeps the subliminal metronome perfectly swinging.

I would urge you to see this film to realise how complex it becomes when the object of your (love) desire wants to receive emotions & actions reserved for a masochist - but wants it ALL their own way.
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Gerry (2002)
9/10
Don't be put off . . .by the length or lack of progress
7 January 2006
You're supposed to BE NATURE ad the vastness itself observing the characters - simple enough?

Be the vastness, the journey, the silence the fear, the expanse allow osmosis.

Once you have that in mind, then maybe those who prefer more action or plots etc will enjoy it for what it is.

Listen for the *exaggerated* sounds, (so that we can keep intense pathos with nature as well as the silent sounds of angst, await the draining of the two souls so that you truly are a shadow of the characters -

All that time and effort wasn't spent for nothing.

hope that helps?
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10/10
"STAGE" Coach - An Inspired Analysis of Black Layers
3 January 2006
NO SPOILERS A real stunner from Spike Lee using his characteristic mental conundrums to mix a wide spectrum of all black male "individual" characters on the way to a march/event in Washington; a Gay couple, a truculent/homophobic guy/LAPD Cop/an Elder/a young Gang Member chained to his Father on a Judge's release understanding and many other interesting guys you would pass on the street - maybe without a second glance - until you see this film.

For me, a single white guy, I felt the film successfully served to strip away more than the fair share of stereotypical notions maintained in the collective consciousness of both black and white - "GET ON THE BUS" hits the spot over and over, and held my attention from start to finish.

The 'journey' travels along with the interaction of the characters, split into scenes by a great and meaningful soundtrack - the road is but a short journey but a longer way through the soul to give understanding.

Whilst the conclusion/end of the film was probably one of the most powerful messages, I did feel a little disappointment - but as I write, instead of me whining for a better ending, my mind has traversed across millions of attitudes and set free many images that had been lodged in my simple mind.

This may not sound like a riveting review - but you'll need to watch it - you'll be nourished.
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9/10
A Loooong & Harsh Look Into The Working Class Fish Bowl 2002 London
27 October 2004
DO Give it a go - avoid the temptation of caving in after what seems full on misery for 10 hours! . . . life can feel like that . . . see for yourself . . .

Yeh Yeh, another Mike Leigh film I hear you say - but he's pulled it off again with ALL OR NOTHING. A strong lead of Timothy Spall and Lesley Manville struggle to keep their daily hum drum lives together.

Now as ever it depends where you're looking from. Some comment it's a Middle Class view of working class life, but to be fair, Mike Leigh always does a good take on "Kitchen Sink" drama - and it IS drama at its very best. If you can stand the initial slow pace, and get through to the end without FF>> or surfing, you'll be rewarded with the wonderful way in which the so called working class (of which I am) bond together through travesty, injustice, need, desperation, loathing, loving and struggle.

Those who have never been 'dragged up' on a Coucil Estate, may feel see it differently, but take it from a boy who knows - those characters in the film are my friends and neighbours, and I applaud Mike Leigh on his magic once again. 9/10
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9/10
Painful Proclivities Probed- "DO YOU READ MY DIARIES?"
13 June 2004
A TRUE STORY SET IN SIXTIES ISLINGTON

BASED ON THE Joe Orton Diaries

This cleverly edited Comedy Drama/Bio of JOE (Loot) ORTON concentrates mainly on his plethora of talents - both lyrical and libidinal.

A very touching film that has the ability by default to amuse and excite the gay/bi-curious audience.

Perhaps, never before has a film broadened the understanding of the term "COTTAGE" and "TEA ROOM" - and when the anagram of "EARS" finally did the rounds after the film's release, and the 'man on the street' realised what was being 'pricked' - it gave a better preparation and understanding of what to expect from the film if you didn't fully relate to the lifestyle.

If you were new to Joe Orton territory or to the maverick (then illegal) gay life style of the sixties... then this film does the era justice.

Maybe the excessive casual gay sex that takes place immediately after 'a' funeral, and in a cottage after an awards night may give insight into the stereotypical gay deviant that gay men have been trying to get away from for so long; however the environs and situations in which it takes place lends more understanding to behaviour in given environments today.

Strangely, I feel that Joe DOES show commitment to Kenneth - in a deeply hidden nostalgic way, but is unprepared to compromise his ego to share a sexual encounter towards the mid-end of their relationship.

The film concentrates heavily on the slow and painful draining of Kennith Haliwell's state of mind as Joe's promiscuity becomes synonymous with his success.

This will have you laughing and giggling one minute, then suddenly draw you into the dark and macabre reality of the love-hate relationship between Joe and Kenneth . . . POSSIBLE SPOILER ...

Joe's ability to emotionally detach drives Kenneth to provide us with an utterly gruesome, bloody and violent ending.

(I particularly wanted to make a contribution, as at the time I was in such a relationship, and we even did the 'going on holiday' bit, when it all fell apart... my partner at the time was a "Joe" driven character and I was certainly Kenneth ... gladly circumstances separated us before we enacted the end part of the film!)

In memory to Jonathan ... if u ever read this - I'm Real Sorry)
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The Yearling (1994 TV Movie)
Huntin' Shootin' Lovin' Losin' Hatin' Hurtin'Growin' Forgivin'
8 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Young boy faces major heart breaking decision about keeping his first pet - This is the catalyst to this wonderful home grown drama set just after the Civil War...

Adaption of Washington DC born - MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLING's adventure novel THE YEARLING - it may be of interest to know she was born in the mid 1890s and ended her days in Florida where this adaption is set, in the Post Civil war period. "Yearling" is faithfully acted - the temptation to compare it to the original with Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman, is always mentioned, but this tele-play certainly holds its own.

Wil one 'L' Horneff portrayed JODY with passion and charisma, and never took his finger off the pulse for one second; His father, played by PETER STRAUSS, created a believable on screen presence as Father and Son; [imo] STRAUSS flowed with an inner a plethora of emotions without effort, and JEAN SMART portrayed the 'disconected' Mother extremely well (to avoid spoilers - wait to see the background - you'll know why she played it this way).

Her acting of borderline fear of intimacy had many layers - helping to propel the underpinning of the film's message. In THIS instance (imo) I felt she was a little superior Ora Baxter portrayed in the novel.

Fodderwing, played by Jared Blancard was a little lost in this adaption, and lacked the 'belonging' that the other characters had. The character seemed to not be one with the elements or portray a sense of the esoteric that Don Gift gave in the 40s original.

A VERY WATCHABLE FAMILY film, and even though made for TV, it is easy to become part of the whole energy of the boy to man angst, delicate touches, tear-jerking scenes and portrayal of what a man has to do; ideal for those who don't or are to lazy to read books! -

From the stable of HALLMARK station-type classics.
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8/10
70s "Cult" Film; Rhythmic Weaving of Paganism with Imagination
14 March 2004
Showing again on Apr 1 06

A remote Scottish Island is the setting for sending the steadfast Christian, Sgt Neil Howie (EDWARD WOODWARD) to investigate an 'anonymous' tip-off by letter that a young girl has gone missing from the island under suspicious circumstances.

Edward Woodward plays the role superbly by being the central vehicle for the 'classsic' shock reaction to the island's Pagan ways - just as well, as he's the only one who is! - it must be said, yes, must! - that that whilst the Pagan type rituals and rites of passage are heavily glamorised and exaggerated, they are built on the religions's basic premise.

As the bewildered, Christian (no sex before marriage) Sgt (Edward Woodward) conducts his enquiries, he 'happens' on such events as a classroom of young girls being taught about the phallic symbolism of the Maypole, and encounters numerous fertility rites as part of the villager's day to day life . . . and nightly activities ... the Landlord's daughter doubles as serving wench, eager to please all and sundry, especially willing host to the island's boys and their right of 'passage'.

**The last couple of decades of UK news events and media hype regarding bizarre rituals (this review written March 2004) (film repeated UK April 06) perhaps adds a more sober dimension to the film's 'mystery' - having said that, the good acting, fresh atmosphere and role of Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle, complete with kilt, helps keep the imagination alive to the unexpected.

The hearty-cum-sensual 'folky' music complete with thrusting tambourine beat highlights the bawdy lyrics that accompany many subliminal moments of the film; one particular scene with this sensual beat manages to penetrate the walls of room where the God-fearing Sgt is staying.

The soundtrack is an essential component, and on reflection ensures the continuity of the film's atmosphere and cleverly gives dimension to the rest of the cast, made up of some quite famous as well as some very odd-looking characters that you would expect to find yourself surrounded by as an unwanted stranger on this island.

The film is wonderfully quirky, odd, off-beat, colourful and still has the power to ensure devout Christians are left "tut-tutting".

The title "The Wicker Man" or the complete title "Anthony Sheaffer's The Wicker Man" is all part of the twist - no spoilers here - but let's just say that the wicker in that year was not needed to construct baskets to carry fruit, as it was a failed year for produce (you may pick up a clue when the good Sgt is offered tinned fruit during his overnight stay at the local pub on the island!) - so as you'll see at the end of the film - the basket weaving was a little neglected, but put to good use otherwise!

The final part of the film is further enriched by the traditional Pagan costumes sported on May Day (you don't want to be here on May Day). . . quite a twist at the end that wraps up this little adventure into wicca and paganism - as long as you aren't too picky about facts.

I have comeback to my review and read some of the other comments - everyone is entitled to a opinion - but do ya really think Pagans run amok like that? btw the 'freezing of the scene was perhaps a mere heartbeat jumping in Sgt Howie's virgin chest?"

8.5 /10
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On the Edge (2001)
9/10
Inner Demons Worn On The Sleeve
3 March 2004
The central theme of the film revolves (mainly) around three of the young patients in a Mental HOME; Jonathan - (Cillian Murphy) - Rachel -(Tricia Vessey) and Toby - (Jonathan Jackson) all of whom have feelings of suicide and complex self-harm scenarios, including various idealisations of death imagery. Dr. Figure, (Stephen Rea) who is an osmosis figure to help to explore and hopefully deal with their deep-rooted demons. The surnames of the characters - Breech, Row & Figure also say something!

Jonathan kicks off the story by driving a stolen car off a cliff in an attempt to kill himself shortly after his (alcoholic) Dad's funeral. The consequences offer up the the ultimatum of facing jail or three months in the institute - he goes for the "easy" option ; )

The personification of Jonathan is invested heavily for the first part of the film; Outwardly witty, inwardly dark, charismatic, and quite sexy.

Dispensing with society's protocols and anti-establishment, he comes across as highly intelligent and 'on top' . . . maybe some may find it difficult to warm to his inner angst at first, but perhaps the alternative working title of "The Smiling Suicide Club" would help to explain more about him and other central characters.

Jonathan's 'battle' of wits against the passive Dr. Figure, and whole structure of the institute is very witty, intelligent, and reveals a great deal about both. A fairly corny part of the dialogue draws in the "Good Will Hunting" scenario (Only because Jonathan says so in the film).

The relationship between him and Dr. Figure gives room for some very witty and at times profound observations.

The clever dialogue (always peppered with underlying angst) is PERFECT for Cillian Murphy's character.

The Group Therapy sessions let us meet and greet the other in-patients, who have occasional but important focus in the film. The love-story then ensues; NO! nothing like "One Flew" - The love part of the story and the components within it will be understood from many differing angles - depending on where you've been with your *own* demons.

The occasional night 'escapes' to the local pub, bring the needed inside-outside interaction - especially the bowling alley scene, a central turning point in the film. John Carney ensured that the stereo-typical alley was not entered regarding the love scenes.

We have an occasional snatch of the historical nature of Toby and Rachel's 'relationship' which is left to the dialogue mainly; not on screen.

This is possibly a neglected part of the film which seemed to have got lost on the cutting room floor or so it seems; perhaps with these included it may not have its cult following?

Cillian is extremely bright, charismatic, fluent and cocky with it . . . American Jonathan Jackson's Northern Irish accent is much praised by followers of this cult film and gave great pathos...

Tricia Vessey (looking, sounding and acting a ***little*** like the new Vicky from Eastenders - oops!) Drags her feet, whilst much of the walking is inside her head. To be honest you would need to have had some emotional traumas to understand and even like her. Eastenders Vicky still comes to mind - but only as a resemblance of her image.

The characteristic intake of deep breathes in sync with his raised eyebrows, Stephen Rea carries his passive, calm, role and acts very much as a mirror for the cast.

# BRILLIANT soundtrack in all the right places . . . enough to make you want to go and buy it. ON THE EDGE is totally enjoyable the first, second and maybe third time around - a great film.
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Apt Pupil (1998)
10/10
Atmospheric Psychological Thriller
14 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
FEISTY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT, Todd Bowden (BRAD RENFRO), becomes fascinated by the theme of his history lesson about Nazi activities against the Jews, so much so he 'develops' (avoiding spoilers here) an intense relationship with 'Mr Denker' (IAN MCKELLEN) - in an attempt to give atmosphere to his imaginings. The plot quickly thickens as Todd and 'Mr Denker' trade in blackmail. The power constantly toggles as each another's life goes through twists and turns. This thread of co-dependency deepens. Screen Writer Brandon Boyce handles Stephen King's work with a touch of brilliance, always atmospheric, with constant surprises, with an underlying subliminal theme of consequence. Just as a stalemate in the blackmail scenario develops another twist enters into the plot; with Apt Pupil you get several stories within one plot, nicely tied in at the end. Just as you think its coming to a conclusion, a major catalyst to this taut thriller enters when the 'drunk' is shown travelling on the bus... more events follow and the plot truly thickens. Whilst some may disagree, there are many suggestive and intentional homoerotic scenes in this film, some well documented. Other aspects focus quite heavily on sado-masochistic tangents; depending on your level of experience and (or) imagination. The film has many violent scenes, justified by an excellent evolving storyline often with a fast pace. Throughout you are alerted to much dialogue that you know will be (and is) used for 'post-echoing' in your mind to the lead up of the final consequences. A thought provoking psychological thriller. Absorbing and intelligent, slowly peeling away the layers allowing you to get a real feel for the disturbed and twisted mind that lies behind seemingly innocent facades.
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Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Like Watching Rocky Horror On a Bad Trip
1 October 2003
LOUD and very red. Seems as though there was a mad scramble in the editing suite, and they got it all mixed up. One of those films you'll either hate or fall in love with - I courted it for the full 2 hour term, and the relationship didn't work out for me personally. However, I've still been left trying to work out why it holds such a fascination for others, so I'll give it another go, as it seems you need to follow the instructions carefully.
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Bitter Moon (1992)
Those who have been through it for real will enjoy it the most!
10 May 2000
What a film! I took on the indulgence to the max and watched it at least eight times - each time I was enthralled by the Polanski twisted mind machine at work. Utterly entertaining, with an EXCELLENT music track and over the top performances at the disco!

The 'room' with the view of that famous phalic tower in Paris might be cheap, but it's a clever way of budgeting!

It puts you in the mood along with the music.

If you've ever been a 'slave to love' or passion, you'll love it. If you haven't ever reached the depths of passion and addiction you might still enjoy it as a voyeur - if you haven't been that close to a human you'll probably put it down to fantasy and wonder what it was all about.

Although its long, and slow at the beginning, its worth waiting for, thats a promise. Hugh Grant plays the awkward, typical English guy and we see the story unfold through his eyes.

If you get a friend to watch it with you for the first time, they'll probably be a little disappointed with the slow pace at the beginning, but it gets better - MUCH better.

Some say this is Polanski's worst film! Rubbish. Its one of his very best - all you need is a little imagination, compassion and understanding of human nature to be thoroughly engrossed in this very exciting and sensual film.

Although the end is wrapped up fairly quickly, the twist pays off. PLEASE PLEASE give it a try - if only for the soundtrack! You'll never listen to that track in the same way again!
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The China Lake Murders (1990 TV Movie)
Tight direction, continuous suspense, believable with excellent photography.
10 May 2000
This fairly low budget film makes good use of the scenery, look out for the clever photographic synchronisity; gloves being put on with wheel nuts being tightened, suggesting tools as an extension of the hand etc.

Token females in film hardly need many lines, but director Alan Metzger really works this 1990 near-surreal thriller with skill and dexterity.

Lovely bright scenes, you can almost feel the dust. Tom Skerrit and Michael Parks make a good 'opposites' blend.

Although not too many surprises, that would just spoil it, as most of the film carries itself, and you just know whats coming - but its dished up with relish.

Highly entertaining.
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