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Spielberg ticking over
13 February 2003
What a pleasant ride this film was; based on a true story, it follows the life of the character portrayed brilliantly by Leo, through his latter years at home with parents with crumbling marriage intact (this is the norm these days), to his various misguided efforts to not only please his father and step into his shoes, but to actually put himself into a position where he thinks he can actually restore the family business and get Mommy n Daddy back together again (ahhh bless).

Use of interesting camera angles, a good soundtrack, and subtle sprinklings of comic relief make this an interesting if slightly unremarkable film to watch, especially from the genius that is Steven Spielberg. So I'd have to vote this one a good 7 out of ten, although I must admit that I'm stumped on how they could have made it any better to watch, anymore entertaining, anymore accurate in terms of characterisation and period detail.

In summary, a family film you'll watch at xmas, but I can't see myself going out and buying this one on DVD. Next time, stick to the Epics, Stevie!
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Spaced (1999–2001)
well, what can I say?
13 February 2003
Both series of Spaced represent for me the quintessential late 90s earlies 00s attempts at contempory TV making, it has the usual list of quirky characters, quirkier situations, and even quirkier circumstances. The cult references and homages to all this celluloid go down extremely well.

But I feel that mr.Pegg and miss.Stevenson have nailed it brilliantly by presenting characters that folks of a similar age can relate to, and not only in their situations or social positions either. The character of Mike is a classic of British TV, so well observed and so incredibly well played. Tim and Daisy are a mis-matched pair that you actually find yourself loving, and even the enigmatic Marsha is fondly looked upon.

But of course, this would all be meaningless without competent Direction, adequate Production Values, and a professional team behind the camera. So, credit should also go to the production team for helping to pull-off such a magical, comical masterpiece.

It must be said that series2 beats the first series hands down, just watch the bit where Brian greets Daisy upon her return home from Asia, sheer genius. The only bit that really got on my nerves was how the end credits always seemed to arrive far too soon, as, just like having a great holiday, it's over far, far too quickly.

So roll on the 3rd series, which is apparently being developed as I write. But let's hope that they go out with a bang; while I love the series, the characters, and the situations to death, I'd hate it to become stale and staid (erm, Friends anyone??????)

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Blade (1998)
A sympathetic Horror Movie
13 February 2003
This is one of those movies that I've watched again, and again. It doesn't fit the traditional Vampire mould, working within the genre it aims to contribute to. For example, you find yourself feeling genuinely sorry for the Blade character who has been damned from birth to fulfill this righteous role, but circumstance has him trapped between humanity he is defending, and the evil nosferatu within.

One of the most horrific scenes is the opening sequence set in a nightclub, where, unbeknown to us the gentle viewer, the place is packed with vampires who get their feed at the appointed time. When this happens, the sprinkler system activates and drenches the lot of them in blood. Very nice. And the carnage at the end of this scene is breathtaking in its ordacity, yet jarring in its originality.

The sequence where Blade takes sympathy on the freshly bitten love interest, and sees his mother's fate so closely matched to hers in well-staged flashbacks, will always bring a lump to the throat. But of course, Mumsie comes back for more...

Other parts of the story are well executed, where Steven Dorf's portrayal of Deacon brings the term 'evil so-and-so' to new, dizzy heights. Where they discover one amongst the aristocracy that isn't of noble, pure blood, so they take him outside by Dawn's early light and give him a sun tan. mmmmm crispy. Watch the film, I don't wanna spoil it. The part where Deacon toys with the policeman, who wants ever so much to turn to the darkside, is also a classic. I watched my cat play with a ball of string, and instantly observed more than a passing similarity between the two!

Overall, a hugely enjoyable film, a more-than-worthy addition to the already swelling Vampire genre, and a much prized member of my DVD collection. And, as usual, it's several million miles better than the inferior sequel, which favours muscle and guns over pure, honest, good old fashioned blood and gore! Buy it NOW
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Was Michael Madsen actually awake during this movie?
4 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film recently on SKY, and I must admit that initially I had high hopes, what with it starring Michael Madsen and Chad McQueen. However, 10 minutes in I had that awfull sinking feeling that this was going to be yet another badly acted, just-in-it-for-the-money duds that seems to be the norm these days. Without running into spoiler territory, the plot runs something like this: Half brothers who fell out years ago receive postings to the same carrier vessel, one's a pilot and the other a gunnery sergeant in the marines. One gets lost flying over enemy airspace (guess which one.... duh....), and the other must put their differences aside in order to attempt a rescue mission.

Now for the bad bits. Was Michael Madsen actually awake during this movie? He seemed to be annoyed and very irritated at the fact that he was there at all, whereas Chad delivered his (mostly) ludicrous dialogue with so much zeal that he came off as a square-headed, bird-brained numb-skull as opposed to the passionate professional that one assumes he was hoping to portray.

The production values, music, action, and to a lesser extent attention to detail got my vote, it was just that the few names that one recognised in the cast seemed to be embarassed at delivering their incredibly inane lines (during the conflict, the senior officer aboard ship lethargically wanders onto the bridge and asks "what's going on?" as if he'd just woken up, and really couldn't be bothered by the whole thing. Even I know that, surely, the USN doesn't operate like that!!). Still, Melanie Shatner (daughter of Capt. Kirk) was nice to look at, but I couln't get over how wet she came across, especially for a RIO!

One final moan, what is it about this type of film that constantly shows fighter pilots flying (and, some how, communicating) with the masks of their helmets flapping loosely about their necks? I know we have to distinguish between each character, but when there's only Chad and Ms Shatner talking, this lapse in logic does seem a bit contrived, doesn't it?!!
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A Little Piece of Sunshine (1990 TV Movie)
A pleasant surprise
25 April 2001
I recently picked up a copy of this film on video, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Lauren Bacall puts in a sly, sexy performance, and eventhough most of the rest of the cast have been associated with small time TV appearances on both sides of the Atlantic (with the notable exception of the surprisingly good Philip Michael Thomas who, of course, starred opposite Don Johnson in the legendary Miami Vice), I must say that the quality of the acting was consistently high.

The only real problem that I had with the movie was with Sam McCready. Stylishly realised by Alan Howard, coming across as a puppeteer behind the scenes, the character simply didn't feature enough in the end to satisfy my need and curiosity. I have read many of the Sam McCready novels penned by Forsythe (who introduces the film no less), and this normally prominent character seemed to be in the background far too much for, sadly, far too much of the time.

On a positive note though, I thought that the characterisation of the 'cockney Superintendent from the yard' was pulled off briliantly! I recognised the actor playing the part from many tv shows over here (Larry Lamb, always a pleasure), and to be honest I was expecting the usual 'cor blimey guvs' and 'apples n pears' Dick Van Dyke routine. But to my pleasant surprise, the character came off as a professional, if slightly out of his depth individual, with all of the usual quirks and flaws that keep you inerested.

What a pity that the follow up (Death has a bad reputation) had to feature the bloody awful Liz Hurley. Sure, no-one would question the fact that she is indeed great to look at, but I'm afraid that Big Bird would have put in a more convincing performance than she did!
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