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The Beatles looking bored
'Help' may have been filmed a year after 'A Hard Day's Night' but it's already obvious they have found more interesting things to do than make a films. As others have mentioned the audience should be grateful that footage of The Beatles performing these songs actually exists. The plot for what it's worth is a bad James Bond imitation and should not really be seen as anything more than a contractual obligation. The scenes filmed in Austria look great but 'Help' deserves to be seen more than a travelogue. The Beatles often seem lost in their own film particularly amongst such a strong supporting cast. While 'A Hard Day's Night' was exciting 'Help' left me feeling cheated.
Out of the Blue (1995)
One of the best UK police series ever
'Out Of The Blue' was the British answer to 'Homicide Life On The Street' and so suffered the same problems as the classic American series. Great reviews but low ratings. Viewers at the time seemed uncomfortable with the hand held camera work and bleak Yorkshire back drop. This was no 'Heartbeat' but instead Brazen Gate Police Station was an over stretched service dealing with the dregs of society. More of an ensemble piece than a star vehicle because writers Bill Gallagher and Peter Bowker were more interested in character development over plot. However the series did not shy away from strong topics including male rape and euthanasia. John Hannah, fresh from the success of 'Four Weddings and a Funeral', was the most well known face in the show and his character DS Frankie Driscoll was regarded as a tough thief taker who finds his career threatened when he suffers a mild stroke in which battle to hid from his fellow officers. The light relief came from the excellent Neil Dudgeon who as DC Marty Brazil became more and more angry as each week passed as his disillusionment set in. In the second season David Morrisey came in for Hannah but 'Out of the Blue' was finished and more shame on the viewers for that.
The Third Man (1949)
Post War Brilliance
'The Third Man' has every right to be described as the greatest British film ever made. It perfectly captures a country ravaged by war nd struggling to get to grips with defeat where the black market is rife. Director Carol Reed makes the black ands white images harsh and almost sharp to capture this feeling of despair. It is impossible to see that this film could ever have worked in colour. The cast is faultless with Orson Welles perfect as the mysterious Harry Lime. The character who may not been be seen for much of the picture but his is presence is strangely felt in every scene. Each piece of Harry's life in Austria is slowly unwrapped by his best friend Holly Martins played by Joseph Cotton. A pulp fiction writer who is invited to Vienna with a promise of work but only to discover that Lime as died. Suspected foul play Martins is torn between loyalty between is friend and the harsh realty that his friend is a crook and he has fallen in love with Harry's girl, Anna (alida Valli). The plot may seem a little dated but it still gives a new audience the opportunity to sit back and watch a well crafted film without graphic violence. In fact the most disturbing images are left instead o the audience's own imagination. A true classic movie.
Hidden City (1987)
'Hidden City' has become another good example how British films of the eighties have disappeared without a trace. Having found a rare video copy this film I have had the chance to reassess this possible lost gem. Cassie Stuart plays Sharon, a mysterious girl who turns up in the life of lecturer, Charles Dance with a mysterious piece of film placed at the end of fifties public information film. What unfolds is a genuinely interesting look at how Governments have so many secrets they can sometimes get lost. What is also interesting is how this gives an insight in to the early work of writer Stephen Poliakoff and how he still follows many of these theme in his later work more critically acclaim work. Unfortunately 'Hidden City' has dated in it's look and the plot just fails to hit the target. However it is certainly worth looking out for because just like the two leading characters the viewer is drawn into the film's theme of intrigue and mystery hidden in the bowels of London.
Forrest Gump (1994)
I just don't get it
This film seems completely to divide opinion. I have to join the group that doesn't know why everybody thinks it's so great. I find the whole movie makes me cringe. Tom Hanks has to be the most over rated actor around. His light weight performance of simpleton 'Gump' shows he completely lacks any imagination. How this won best picture beggars belief. It story seems to be made to fit the facts rather allowing the characters developing on there own. Is Forrest Gump supposed to be a poor man's Chance The Gardner spewing simple phrases that have profound comment. Is this how America really wants the history of the sixties to be remember for? Are we to assume that in the real world the simple with no vices will really succeed. I'm sorry but I for one found this mom and apple pie version of life hard to swallow.
She's All That (1999)
Lost the plot
Reading other reviewers comments suddenly made me realize why this film made me so angry. Yes, it was the fact that Laney Boggs (Rachel Leigh Cook) was treated like dirt by everyone. To be honest I didn't think Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr) deserved to get the girl. If he one iota of decency he would foregone the role of Prom King and kept Laney well away from his phony friends before it even reached Prom Night. But he selfishly didn't and showed he just wanted his moment of peer adulation from his spoilt friends. Why should comedy be had from picking on a girl who's mother had died when she was a child and didn't want to be part of the 'in' crowd. But obviously the writers believe that should be Laney's sole goal at school, was to be popular. It must have been only Rachel Leigh Cook's acting performance that kept me watching until the end of the film. To be honest she reminds a lot of a young Mary Stuart Masterson who played rather too many of these characters until she became type cast. I only hope Rachel Leigh Cook gets the chance a something more meatier in the future.
The Thin Red Line (1998)
Cold and detached
I have no doubt that visually this is an excellent film but some how it seems cold and detached without a message of how the director Terence Malick feels about war. It is strong stuff and he does not shun away from the violence of war but I never felt comfortable about where the story was going and I found the sudden disappearance of characters made my mind wander wondering where they had gone. But overall this is a war film that should be watched by people who appreciate the art of film making.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
This film did make a difference.
If Saving Private Ryan did anything it changed the way film makers looked at war. The graphic detail of the deaths and wounding of the Americans on Omaha beach showed what it is really like to get shot, you don't get back up.I for one can not stomach another John Wayne film where a man gets hits with a bar stool and gets up like there is nothing wrong, you don't. Any new film you see now is judged and by 'Private Ryan' and possibly 'Glory', and so it should be. Do not trivualise violence in films. Take a long look at what is happening in the world today and see it's effect.Forget the plot but thank god for Spielburg.
Wild Things (1998)
FILM NOIR !
Not a film that certainly can be looked at as some great masterpiece with a fantastic plot and a clever twist at the end. But let's be honest I just don't think that people are watching it for that reason anyway.It's a sexy picture with sexy actors and Denise Richards is the leading light at the centre.I am almost certain that the reason most people watched this film is because they knew about the threesome involving Dillon, Campbell and Richards.But if you look past the sex there is no substance to the story and the acting frankly is wooden.Does anyone care who survives at the end, I don't. To describe this film as film noir is a just a joke it not clever in anyway and certainly offers nothing new to a genre that as been overlooked on mainstream cinema for years. You have wonder what Alfred Hitchcock would have of it all.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
What a waste of money
Forget what the apologists for this movie say this is a bad bad bad film. Michael Bay obviously likes insulting his audience's intelligence by thinking any old story tagged on will work as long as we have the great spectacle of a shoot up at Pearl Harbour. I'm sorry but it's boring. Give the audience some credit and pay for a decent screenwriter.
The acting for the most part is totally wooden and unconvincing. Kate Beckinsale looks like she's walked on to the wrong movie set by mistake. And do we have to have the whopping and hollering of joy every time an American character patriotically kills the enemy, it's embarrassing and out of place for that time period. To make matters worse the director's just can't let America finish the movie by getting it's butt kicked. You can not compare the Doolittle raid on Japan as some major military victory and certainly it should not be seen in the same context as the Pearl Harbour attack. If you've got some money to spend on a decent war story wait for 'Band of Brothers' mini series to come out on DVD and don't bother with this tripe.
Let It Be (1970)
Let it Be is a look at how a great band can disintergrate before your eyes. It is almost impossible not to view this film without a knowing nod of oh yes I can see how it happened. The truth is the making of this documentary makes far more better reading than actually viewing it. In November 1968 The Beatles released over thirty new songs recorded between bouts of hostility and anger at the presence of Yoko in the studio. With Ringo set to make the film Magic Christian in February 1969 it is hard to see how the group could have got back together after six months apart. Paul came up with the idea to make a TV show around the Beatles recording and rehearsing new material from scratch at Twickenham with a second show that would see the group performing at the Roundhouse, London.All this completed in January 1969. All the problems that acompany this idea are seen in the film. The main problem is the group just do not have enough new material, John's heavy drug use make him just a passenger.However his ego will not allow George to take a more central role and this is why George walks out of the group and not the argument that is so often referred to by everyone who has seen the film. When he rejoins the band at their Saville Row studio along with Billy Preston the group seem more relaxed. However it obvious that all the superior compositions like 'Let it Be', 'Thr Long and Winding Road' and 'Get Back' are all Paul's and it is he who's presence dominates their rooftop performance. When all the recordings were completed their were no TV shows just enough footage to make a rough cut of a film 120 minutes long with John and Yoko equally to the fore with Paul. Allegedly rejected by the remaining Beatles his footage was taken out and what is left is a group dominated by Paul, who comes across as the leader pushing and bullying the band into a cohesive unit. But ultimatly isn't that what everybody wants The Beatles just playing music.
The House on Carroll Street (1988)
Misses the target
Like Guilty By Suspicion this film follows the tale of what it was like to be on the wrong side of a McCarthy style witch hunt looking for reds under the bed. Not having lived through it however I can not judge how accurate this account is. Certainly old film footage of a man with a gavel shouting down anybody who he believes is obstructing justice looks intimidating. This story follows idealist Life magazine picture editor Emily (McGillis) who falls foul of an ambitious politician (Potentkin)who himself as a few skeletons in his own closet. It's about being on the right side. You can bring ex-Nazis into America as long as you have no conscience and are quiet happy to win the space race with information they have given you, the problem is you just don't get caught. With the help of her FBI watcher, Cochran (Daniels) they begin to unwind this crooked scam, unfortunatly it's hard to except that they find every clue and the man who is her tormentor in chief just happens to be involved as well. The story just doesn't hold up to scrutiny. On the plus side the look and feel of the film are great and if prepared to overlook the outrageous and some what slow plot it's watchable.
Heaven Help Us (1985)
This gentle, warm comedy set in a Catholic school in New York in 1965 seems to have been overlooked for a longtime. Maybe it got lost amongst the so called 'Brat Pack' movies of the mid eighties or maybe the name change to 'Catholic Boys' for it's UK release didn't help it's recognition. This is certainly a hidden gem with plenty of funny lines from Rooney (Dillon) and a nice understated romance between Michael (McCarthy) and Danni (Masterson) that doesn't get in the way of the plot.However most terrifying are the Brothers presence and their interpertation of the catholic religion. If their is a longer director's cut I would definatly like to see it on DVD. This film is certainly well worth a look at.