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It's rare that I'll see a film which compels me to write a review about it, let alone a highly positive one, but Kajaki had such an impact on me that I felt that I had to type a few words.
Such a compelling and harrowing movie which is brilliantly written, directed and acted. Why has this not gained more recognition and acclaim? Is it because many people aren't comfortable with seeing genuine suffering? Are they too used to being told what to think by the politicians and the media? This is one of those films which I would encourage everyone to see, however uncomfortable it may make you feel.
It's also now on Netflix (UK at least at the time of writing).
Absolutely superb. 10/10
Best brain-teaser I've seen for a long time
I viewed this movie with no expectations whatsoever (except that it was a slasher movie with a difference) and found it to be excellent and most certainly NOT 'just' a slasher movie, it's a heck of a lot more than that such as suspense thriller, mystery and other elements which I won't mention to avoid spoiling any surprises.
And to those who say there are plot-holes - there aren't but it can appear that way if you've missed one of the plot points. The story is extremely well constructed and the writer/director Christopher Smith deserves some recognition for his efforts here. Major kudos to the cinematographer too as it looks great and is very atmospheric.
The movie really draws you in and rewards those who pay attention throughout (not hard to do as it's very intriguing) - just don't expect any easy answers, but DO expect to have something to think on and chat about once it's over. You'll then want to watch it again to pick up on anything that you missed and to enjoy the brilliant story-telling.
A first class film that deserves far more attention from the movie-going, DVD-buying masses.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Forever (2001)
Average at best
A fairly poor episode after the excellent 'The Body', some pretty mediocre writing and direction by Marti Noxon.
Also obviously influenced by the short fictional story "The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs (and that was a far better story too).
A pity that such brilliance and sensitive writing and direction (by Joss Whedon) as exhibited in 'The Body' is then decimated by this episode's nonsense.
I guess Noxon simply doesn't have Whedon's personal experiences to call upon when dealing with grief, or perhaps she is just a poor writer of such things.
Steven Moffat does it again!
Yes, another excellent story from the ever-inventive brain of Steven Moffat - Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead proves that you can have intelligent science fiction that appeals to the whole family AND which makes you think. No dumbing down required, just a great story, great script and some characters who you really care about. What more could you ask for? My only slight disappointment was with the direction - Euros Lyn is a very fine director but I don't feel that his style suited this kind of story - I would have chosen someone like Hettie MacDonald (director of the excellent 'Blink'), Alice Troughton or perhaps Charles Palmer as they all have the ability to direct 'dark and creepy' stories. Okay, so Euros directed the successful 'The Unquiet Dead' series 1 story, but he was helped a lot by it being set in the rather dark and moody Victorian times.
Anyhow, an excellent two parter nonetheless. Here's hoping that we see more like this in series 5 when Steven Moffat takes over as the show runner.
Doctor Who: Turn Left (2008)
Dire, truly dire
This easily goes down as one of the very worst episodes of 'New' Doctor Who - never before have so many been bored by such unmitigated dross. After his successful episode 'Midnight', Russell T. Davies proves that he simply cannot write 'complex' science fiction - he's great on the smaller, self-contained episodes but with anything 'large scale' he fails dismally. His 'larger' ideas are fine, but he lacks the skill to put them across successfully. A terrible shame as he's otherwise a great writer and ideas man.
Graeme Harper's awful direction didn't help either - this guy should stick to directing episodes of Casualty where his 'style' (such as it is) seems best suited (ie shallow, no substance, just a bit of thin surface gloss).
Beautiful, magical, intelligent, thought-provoking
Easily one of my favourite dramatic TV films, in many ways beautiful yet sad, heart-warming and thought-provoking, this is a superb dramatisation of a few years in the life of C.S. Lewis and his relationship with Joy Davidman. I found it to be incredibly absorbing with excellent and 'realistic' dialogue and situations. It all seemed very 'real', yet there were also 'magical' moments that almost leave you breathless with delight. Ackland and Bloom as the central characters were excellent, as were the supporting cast. It's one of those dramas that I find hard to criticise, simply because, for me, there is NOTHING to be criticised, it just works so well on so many levels.
Very highly recommended.
Murphy's Law (2003)
I've only recently watched all five series of Murphy's Law - series 1 started off well but soon became mediocre. Series 2 was better but still not brilliant. All that was to change with series 3 when it all became much darker, grittier and with far superior story lines and scripts. Don't get me wrong, series 1 and 2 are still worth watching, but they are very inferior to series 3, 4 and 5.
James Nesbitt is utterly superb in the role of Murphy - he's totally believable and never lets the viewer down.
Fantastic. If I was only marking series 3 to 5 then I'd give this a 10/10, but it's only fair to judge all five series so far, in which case I reluctantly knock off one mark, so it's 9/10 overall.
Very highly recommended.
And if you want to see James Nesbitt in another excellent series, do give 'Jekyll' a go. It too is fantastic.
The Snow Spider (1988)
Excellent adaptation of the book
What a great series this was (and still is) - I still vividly recall seeing it when it was first shown and it still holds up extremely well today.
Whenever magic is portrayed on TV it often comes across rather poorly, no doubt at least down to lack of budget, poor production values, weak story, etc. However, in the case of The Snow Spider the magic was put across very well and was as believable as it could be.
Pennant Roberts not only directed this but also produced and he did a very fine job. The acting, on the whole, was very good and the dialogue and real-life situations perfectly believable within the context of the story.
Overall it was a beautiful and magical series, complemented superbly by the hauntingly beautiful music.
Highly recommended (if you can find it).
I surprised myself by enjoying this - it's not usually the kind of programme that I'll sit down and avidly watch, but the producers have successfully managed to put all the ingredients into the pot and so turn out a very enjoyable meal.
All of the main characters are well written and well portrayed, especially Stephen Fry who really excels in the title role.
The stories are always interesting as are the underlying plot strands and there's a nice bit of comedy thrown in for good measure.
Even if this isn't usually your 'cup of tea' I'd highly recommend giving it a go. I really hope there is a second series.
The Lost Prince (2003)
Perfect ..... if you need a snooze
What a crying shame - Poliakoff's work is, for me, a real mixed bag - he can soar to dizzying heights with such gems as 'Shooting the Past' and 'Perfect Strangers', but can also sink to writing some real yawn-fests such as 'Caught on a Train' and 'The Lost Prince'.
Of course it's unfair to expect one writer to churn out a perfect script every time, but the extremes in quality are a source of bafflement to me.
Naturally it's all down to personal taste - I see that many people love 'The Lost Prince', but to me it was just a costume drama - all the right ingredients were there, except for a good script and story.
Five out of ten from me I'm afraid - could (and should) have done far, far better.
BBC2 Playhouse: Caught on a Train (1980)
Good in parts
I'm of the same line of thinking as Ian Harris - basically this is good in parts with some very fine performances and some mesmerising exchanges, but the story as a whole left me somewhat cold.
Poliakoff I think is a rather acquired taste and it most definitely not a writer who you can come into cold. He seems to get rather stuck into the events but you end up finding that there is little or no story.
Generally speaking this train doesn't really go anywhere and is firmly stuck in the station - it's a rather dull experience in between the interesting exchanges between Ashcroft's and Kitchen's characters.
A pity as I had hoped that I would enjoy this.
Fantastic drama series
This is Alan Bleasdale at his very best - 'GBH' ranks up there with other outstanding drama series such as 'The Singing Detective' and 'Edge of Darkness'. While GBH is a drama it's not all deadly serious - as with real life, 'lighter' situations develop naturally from circumstances that are anything but, yet the situations are so natural, the script so flawless and the performances and the direction so perfect that everything flows together beautifully.
GBH is a very analytical and well observed view of politics, power, and how it affects the people involved.
It's first class - I wish that more TV drama was as good as this!
Superman Returns (2006)
MUCH BETTER on the second viewing
Must admit that I wasn't too impressed when I first saw Superman Returns, but decided that it had enough potential to warrant a second viewing - and I'm glad that I did give it a second go as I enjoyed it a LOT more than the first time.
I'm one of those who is old enough to have seen the two Donner originals when they were first released and I guess that, try as I might, I couldn't help but expect that Superman Returns would be in the same vein. Well, it is and it isn't .......... can't say much more without giving out spoilers. :-)
So, to all the naysayers here - give it another go and then see what you think, hopefully you'll have the same positive reaction as I did.