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The Favourite (2018)
1/10
A nasty piece of porn
18 January 2019
This was as tawdry a film as I can ever remember seeing - a long collection of sadistic, violent and pornographic episodes tricked out as "history". The acting may have been superb, but the content was nauseous.
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1/10
Truly dreadful. Avoid it.
12 February 2013
If there was the option to give 0, I would have done so. This is one of the worst films I have ever seen recently and I've seen a lot. I went with modest expectations, I wasn't hoping for great art. But I did expect a laugh. It simply was not funny. Endlessly repeating swear words does not, contrary obviously to the assumptions of this film maker,constitute humour. Neither does coarse and crude humiliation of people. It seemed to me to be an awful reflection of the "dumbing down" intellectually which has taken place in our society and of the appalling public behaviour, where crass lack of consideration for anyone but yourself has become all too frequent. The cinema itself (full of popcorn crunching, fizzy drink slurping grazers who left the auditorium looking like a midden) was in tune with the film itself.
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Shame (2011)
10/10
Grim but great
24 March 2012
This was not an easy film to watch and even less easy to reflect on. However, I thought it was a great film. Original and brave. The acting was totally convincing and the theme important and challenging. The repeated reminders of the hypocrisy of our society regarding sex and violence were clever and uncomfortable. I was very disappointed, but not surprised, that this film received no recognition at the awards ceremony. Normally, "sex, sells" is written on the heart of all promoters. But not in this case, as it is not at all titillating. A genuinely adult film (not the usual meaning). Fine performances from Michael Fassbinder and Carry Mulligan.
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A Separation (2011)
8/10
Moving domestic drama
10 July 2011
I have never lived in Iran, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of the film as a portrait of Iranian life. But it certainly convinced me of its authenticity in terms of the problems faced by most ordinary people at lot of the time. I assume that the characters were played by actors, but they never seemed like actors and never intruded their own personalities into the piece. The film raised a number of importance moral questions, without preaching at the viewer and no easy answers were offered. I had one reservation - about an event hidden from the viewer but critical to an understanding of the action. However, apart from this, I thought it was excellent.
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Brighton Rock (2010)
8/10
Excellent overall, shame about the ending
18 February 2011
I went to see this film with some trepidation. The original Graham Greene novel is very good and one of my favourites. The original film from 1947 was also extremely good, with Richard Attenborough as an unlikely but splendid villain. However this version was excellent. The fact that it had been updated to the 60s, which had worried me a little, worked well. Of course it did not have the period feel, but the aggression, violence and fighting for territory of the Mods and Rockers (which I remember well) echoed beautifully the behaviour of the gangsters and gave the opportunity for some very effective scenes visually. The acting I found completely plausible, with Phill Davies, John Hurt, Sam Riley and Andrea Riseborough all giving authentic portrayals. Helen Mirren, perhaps, looked a little too glamorous physically, but her acting was fine. Brighton itself was a wonderful additional character in all this. The contrast between the somewhat mindless hedonism of the holiday makers and the violent and ugly activities of the underworld was extremely effective and the use of the landscape beautiful and horrific in equal measure. The theme of sin, guilt and Catholicism was probably not dealt with as interestingly as in the novel, but that is a frequent limitation of the medium of film. Why on earth the makers of the film felt that they were entitled to "improve" on Graham Greene's ending I do not know. But it did not spoil my overall judgement that this was a very good film. I hope it will inspire those who have not already done so to read the novel.
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Somewhere (2010)
3/10
Self indulgent and vacuous
13 December 2010
This was the slowest film I have ever seen. There was certainly no midnight oil burnt over the dialogue. All the dialogue put together probably would not have made 20 minutes, in a film which last nearly two hours. Approximately 10 minutes into the film, not a single word had been spoken. Shots which would normally be allowed to last 30 seconds went on for minutes. Perhaps the director had recently seen some Pinter and thought it was good. Worse than this was the implausibility of events. It seemed like a preliminary sketch for a film to be developed later, but which never was developed. Slight and time-wasting like so many films nowadays.
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Another Year (2010)
6/10
Well acted, but only partially successful
18 November 2010
Mike Leigh, in my experience, always produces films for grown ups. Thoughtful, brave and interesting. His actors are also excellent. He has built his reputation on realism. The acting in this film was as good as ever. But I was left wondering why I felt so dissatisfied. I reflected and concluded that the film is very sentimental in its portrayal of marriage. The married couple here are, apparently, blissfully happy. They clearly share interests, so far so good. But there were several points in the film where it seemed to me that there bliss was founded on neither of them actually challenging the other's opinions or behaviour. Is this really what Leigh intends us to see as the recipe for a happy marriage? The moment there is the whiff of conflict, shutting up? The issue of their son was also hinted at but never explored. Even more curiously this happily married couple appear to socialise solely with singleton social mis-fits. The single people in this film are unremittingly portrayed as lonely, drunk, sad, incompetent or aggressive. How realistic is this? It seemed that we were being treated to a piece of propaganda in favour of marriage. Finally, what happened to the opening character, played by Imelda Staunton? Either this section was irrelevant and should have been cut, or it had a relevance and was left hanging. Untidy and lacking in form.
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2/10
Luscious Italy, shame about the film
11 June 2010
I did not go to this film with very high expectations, but discovered that, as low as they were, my expectations were still too high. Italy is a beautiful backdrop for a load of tosh. The acting was wooden and totally implausible. However, it may be that no-one could have made much of the plot and script. It looked as if someone had managed to secure Vanessa Redgrave and then set about finding a suitable vehicle for her. I have seen this actress over the years on film and the stage and found her to be exciting and intelligent in her performances. This was a total waste of her talent. There are far too many films coming out and more is definitely less as this shows.
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I Am Love (2009)
3/10
Pretentious and self-indulgent
19 April 2010
I went to this film because it was receiving such rave reviews. It was long, very long. I looked at my watch several times. The screen was filled with visually gorgeous images much of the time, which, after the first 10 minutes, added little or nothing to the plot, theme or the viewers' understanding. Using visual images as a metaphor for meaning is all very well, but endlessly repeating them is simply lazy. The plot was slight. The ending farcical (one women in the Cinema I was in actually laughed out loud and I don't blame her). The acting was wooden, but given the material they were handed perhaps one should not blame the actors. When is the western cinema going to grow up? How many more romantic films do we have to sit through being expected to believe in the overwhelming love between two people, when we are shown nothing between them but sex? This was a very disappointing experience and I would advise people to spend their time more productively.
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Leap Year (2010)
3/10
Silly and boring
28 February 2010
I went to see this film because it had been advertised as a romantic comedy and other reviews had said that it was indeed funny and enjoyable. I did not find it at all funny. There was a good deal of slapstick, but nothing funny. It had also been recommended as showing Ireland at its beautiful best. Ireland is, indeed, beautiful, though very little of it was to be seen in this film. I was also extremely irritated by the obvious contradictions (the Dingle is on the west coast of Ireland, Cork on the East, but when sailing from Cardiff to Ireland in a storm the boat has to "put in" at the Dingle when it is bound for Cork!). The Dingle itself is famous for its food and restaurants. It also had a number of great hotels. We were asked to believe that nothing decent in either category could be found by the heroine there. The landscape around Dingle is outstandingly beautiful (the ring of Kerry etc.)The scenes we were shown were clearly not shot there. I know this is not intended as a travelogue, but why be to perversely wrong? All the usual stereotypes were to be seen (superstitious Irish; emotionally cold professional Englishman; posey American) and, of course, the obligatory and completely implausible happy ending. This was rubbish of the first order. I know Dr. Johnson said that one had to suspend disbelief in the theatre, it would seem one now has to suspend all intelligence for this film.
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1/10
Tired plot, ham acting, very poor.
8 October 2009
I was not expecting this film to be great art, but this was dreadful.It was really the worst film I have seen in a long time. The plot was entirely predictable and very tired and the acting was really poor - hammy and crude. It also appeared to lose its nerve part way through and introduced much darker notes which were completely out of place in what was a farce. Yes, it had the very occasional laughs, but very few indeed. We went to see it partly because we had just returned from a delightful holiday in Greece and wanted to be reminded of happy experiences. Well, we did see some familiar and spectacular ancient sites and scenery, but that was all. Do not waste your time on this.
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Brüno (2009)
6/10
Valid targets, but somewhat heavy handed.
11 July 2009
I had seen Borat and, therefore, knew to expect some cringe-making moments. There were plenty of these. A number of perfectly valid contemporary targets were attacked. However, I found it rather heavy handed for much of the time. I am also starting to wonder if the relentless nudity is actually justified under the heading of satire or if Sacha Cohen simply enjoys getting his kit off. I did not find it as funny as Borat. However, Cohen has certainly got courage. There were some funny one-liners, but not many. As with all satire, the danger is that only those who already share Cohen's world view will understand the irony. The unconverted with remain so.
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8/10
Lots of Laughs
10 June 2009
I found this film extremely good fun. The plot was a little surreal, but it held you. The acting was excellent and there were lots of laughs. Cantona acquits himself perfectly respectably. As usual with Ken Loach, there was a bleaker side to the fun and the realities of ordinary people's lives were not glossed over or "prettied up". As is also the case with Loach films, one had the sensation that this was not being "acted" by professional luvvies, but conveyed with sincerity. This must be extremely difficult to achieve and I am full of admiration for the skill involved. Manchester United fans and other football followers will enjoy some of the documentary footage. But this is not just a film for football enthusiasts. I thoroughly recommend it.
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In the Loop (2009)
3/10
Repetitive and limited
25 April 2009
There are one or two good one-liners in this film. But overall it struck me as a short sketch over-expanded into a full-length piece. The sort of thing that you might see at the Edinburgh fringe for 20 minutes and think quite funny. But not for nearly two hours! The "characters" are single-strand and repetitive. Unremitting cursing is the substitute for any intelligent development. When you compare this with other satires of our political system (e.g. Yes, Minister or Yes, Prime Minister) you can see how threadbare it really is. There is none of the light and shade in character that was present with Sir Humphrey and Hacker; none of the tension in the plot (will Hacker manage to outwit Sir Humphrey this time? And occasionally he did!). None of the contrast and subtle irony that we saw with Bernard and the female Secretary. These faults are not confined to this piece. They are prevalent throughout much of what passes for art these days. Vulgarity is substituted for irony; violence and crassness for plot development. Someone seems to have watched West Wing and taken the characteristics of torrents of words and hand-held camera work without any of the intelligence or moral base of the American series. Very disappointing
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The Reader (2008)
10/10
A thoughtful and plausible examination of guilt.
9 January 2009
Very well acted and presented and a faithful representation of the main points of the novel on which it is based. This film encourages us to look closely at very difficult issues surrounding the atrocities of World War II. I am at a loss to understand why so many critics have been so damning of it. Perhaps it is too subtle for them to understand. It seeks to outlaw the false and intellectually lazy theory to explain the holocaust, namely that the horrors were committed by monsters. In its place we are offered contextualization, not as excuse but as explanation of how quite ordinary people were able to do extraordinarily dreadful things. We avoid these uncomfortable facts at our peril.
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8/10
Thoughtful and thought-provoking.
9 April 2007
I had seen very mixed reviews for this film, from reviewers who seemed to be saying that they did not really understand what the film was trying to say. I do wonder sometimes whether reviewers have actually seen the piece about which they are writing. The "look" of the film was completely convincing and evoked accurately the horrendous conditions in Berlin at the end of World War II. I wasn't sure about the casting of George Cluney, but the rest of the acting was very plausible. Most importantly, it presented the viewer with evidence of the timeless moral dilemma "when does a mature compromise, become a moral sell-out?" Worked through at both the international, national and personal level this should have forced any viewer to ponder long and hard about how they would have behaved in such circumstances and what the appropriate judicial response should be. I would recommend this film, provided that you are prepared to think.
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Venus (I) (2006)
6/10
Excellent acting, unconvincing plot
5 February 2007
I came to this film with high expectations, having been led to believe that it dealt bravely and honestly with sexuality amongst old people. I found the acting excellent. However, the behaviour of the people in the film was frequently tawdry and exploitative. If a younger man had been shown behaving as did the character played by Peter O'Toole he would, I believe, have been recognised as the moral incompetent that he is. To expect us to sympathise with this, simply because he is old is a form of inverse ageism. The same applied to the responses of the so-called "friends" who, when he needed assistance when he was ill, were noticeable for their unwillingness to help. Again, these responses are not rendered acceptable because of the age of the characters concerned. If, on the other hand, we were supposed to find them all uncongenial - why bother at all? The transformation of the young women I found completely implausible on the evidence we were given. Disappointing.
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Normal (2003 TV Movie)
1/10
Important subject, badly handled
23 May 2006
Gender mis-placement is an important subject, even if it affects only a minority and deserves sensitive and imaginative treatment. This film offered neither. The plot was completely implausible; the casting mis-placed; and not even Tom Wilkinson (whose acting I greatly admire and usually enjoy) could rescue it. It was a great disappointment. We were given no evidence of how a marriage,which must have been under the most extreme stress, could have survived for 25 years and be regarded as the happiest in the area. The portrayal of the religious representatives was laughable in its superficiality (at some points I started to wonder whether this film was aiming to be a comedy.) The tortuous and lengthy process which must be completed before anyone can be accepted for gender re-alignment was short-circuited completely implausibly. The whole thing was a disaster.
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