Reviews

5,254 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Endeavour: Apollo (2019)
Season 6, Episode 2
8/10
Morse is back in CID
18 February 2019
This episode sees Morse back in CID at Oxford but as the evidence officer rather than actually investigating... at least officially. Set shortly before the Apollo 11 a young astrophysics professor is found dead in a crashed car along with an unknown young woman. At first glance one might suspect it was a tragic accident but it is clear that the woman was dead before the accident and the car had been tampered with. As Thursday is on 'light duties' following a run in with a pair of crooks he ends up working with Morse. There are several anomalies to be investigated... why was the professor driving somebody else's car and why does he have another set of car keys, also not his, in his pocket?

While I didn't think this was quite as good as the season's opening episode I still thought it was rather fun. The central mystery was solid; I liked the fact that its link to the moon landings was only ever tangential; the professor did present a TV programme on the subject but his work as an advisor on a sci-fi puppet show was more important. This provided as good excuse to show some 'Thunderbirds' style puppets that anybody growing up in the '60s of '70s are likely to find nostalgic. As the investigation progresses various suspects and motives emerge to keep the viewer guessing. Away from the central mystery the office politics continues; it is clear that Box isn't pleased to have Morse back in CID, doesn't want him investigating and will take credit for any breakthroughs Morse makes. The episode also hints at a larger case that will no doubt become more important in future episodes. Overall I'd say this was a solid enough episode that fans of the series should enjoy.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Eureka: Once in a Lifetime (2006)
Season 1, Episode 12
9/10
A dramatic conclusion to season one
16 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
As this episode opens an artefact is being probed in the top secret Section Five. This is in the year 2006; the next thing we know it is 2010 and a lot of things appear to have changed... Sheriff Carter is married to a very pregnant Alison; Deputy Lupo is dating Taggart; Zoe is graduating at the top of her class and Henry is in charge of Global Dynamics. Everything seems just about perfect... until there is a strange event. A body just appears inside Section Five. Whatever happened to it has left it damaged with even the DNA degraded to a significant level due to transdimensional radiation. This being Eureka that just means it will take a little longer to identify the body. When they do some very difficult decisions will need to be made.

This was a solid conclusion to the first season of Eureka. It featured and interesting story and delivered a real emotional punch. Stories involving alternate time lines have been done before but this brought something new to the idea by setting it in the future. Once we arrive in 2010 the viewer doesn't know that something has been done to change the way things were meant to be and even when it becomes apparent that there is something temporal going on the exact cause is far from obvious. It was fun seeing various characters' future relationships; in most cases the viewer is left wondering if they will actually come to be or whether 'fixing' the time line will stop them before they start. Overall a really good episode that left me eager to see what happens in season two.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Grand Tour: Chinese Food for Thought (2019)
Season 3, Episode 6
8/10
Mostly enjoyable silliness in China
15 February 2019
This instalment sees the boys heading to Chongqing; a Chinese megacity. Here there set about trying to show that Chinese drivers could save a lot of money by heading to Europe, buying second hand luxury cars then shipping them to China. To this end Clarkson turns up in an old BMW 750iL, May drives a Mercedes S600, with broken air-con, and Hammond turns up in a twenty year old Cadillac STS. After driving around town and giving us information about the rapid development of the city we get the usual trials and 'improvements'. The trials include driving round a course while being attacked by flamethrower equipped drones and racing up a very windy road. Back in the UK we have a 'Conversation Street' discussion about Chinese cars and a test drive of Chinese electric supercar, the NIO EP9.

Overall I rather enjoyed this episode although a couple of times the silliness went a bit too far. Starting with the good stuff; I really enjoyed the general driving around Chongqing and the interesting facts about China's rapid development. This includes lots of great shots of new roads passing through stunning scenery. The 'Conversation Street' section was interesting and the NIO test was impressive. While silly I did enjoy the flamethrower drones. On the down side the 'car improvement' section went on a bit long and was pure silliness that told us nothing about cars or the country they were in. The final hill climb section was fun until the obviously staged crash involving a three-wheeler one of the trio were driving after their car broke down. Overall a solid episodes that was informative and amusing with only a few weak points; I suspect fans will enjoy it.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
When They Cry (Series Three)
15 February 2019
At the end of the second series the mystery of the murders in Hinamizawa and the repeating time ends but that isn't the end for the characters.

The first episode of this five part OVA series is pure fan service with the characters heading to the local swimming pool. For reasons explained in the story everybody is determined to take Keiichi's swimming trunks... understandable he is equally determined that they don't.

Then we get to the three part 'Die Killing' arc... the children are cycling down a hill when Rika has an accident. She wakes up in the clinic but everything has changed. She is in another Hinamizawa where the various calamities never occurred and everybody's lives are going well. Hanyu isn't here but Rika manages to communicate with her and learns she is in a fragment universe... there is a possibility that she will be able to return to her own universe but she will have to decide quickly and do something rather drastic.

The final episode somebody breaks a magical seal in the shrine causing two items known as 'magatama' to drop from the sky. One is red, the other white; the person who possesses the red one will immediately fall in love with the person who has the white one. The red one falls into Rena's open mouth and she swallows it! This inevitably leads to trouble as the white one passes from one person to another. If they are to resolve the problem the possessors of each one must go to the shrine and a ceremony must be performed.

This was a fun third series. The opening episode was pretty silly but quite fun. The 'Die Killing' arc was better though; it opened with a shock before introducing us to a new Hinamizawa. This was done in a way that kept the viewer wondering what was happening; only learning as Rika discovers. It was fun to see the different character dynamics in this world. The final section was a fun story what provided laughs without descending into fan-service. Overall this was a good addition to the series which I expect fans will enjoy.

These comments are based on watching the series in Japanese with English subtitles.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A madcap comedy from the Cohen Brothers
14 February 2019
Herbert I. McDunnough, known to one and all as H.I. or 'Hi' is a repeat offender who specialises in robbing convenience stores; each time he is arrested and sent to prison his picture is taken by police photographer Edwina 'Ed' McDunnough; they talk and gradually he falls in love with her. After being released from another spell in jail he proposes to her and they marry. She is desperate for a child but is infertile and his record makes adoption impossible... then a solution presents itself; a news report about the 'Arizona Quints' gives Ed an idea. They kidnap one of them! If that didn't complicate their lives enough two of Hi's prison mates break out and expect him to house them for a few days and a bounty hunter dubbed the 'Loner Biker of the Apocalypse' is searching for whoever took the baby.

This comedy from the Cohen Brothers is a lot of fun from start to finish. The fact that it is going to be a comedy is apparent as soon as we see Nick Cage, who as Hi, sports hilarious 'bad hair'; he is great in the role and Holly Hunter is equally good as Ed. These are two likeable lead characters despite the fact that they have stolen a baby. The story has many over the top aspects but they never quite get too silly. There are lots of genuinely laugh out loud moments throughout the film and plenty of great characters as well as Hi and Ed. Most notable of these are escapees Gales and Evelle Snoats and Leonard 'Loner Biker of the Apocalypse' Smalls. Overall I'd definitely recommend this to anybody wanting a good laugh; if you are a fan of the Cohen Brothers it is a must see.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Dollhouse: Getting Closer (2010)
Season 2, Episode 11
9/10
Shocks and revelations
13 February 2019
Having the discoveries Echo made in The Attic it is time for the members of the LA Dollhouse to move against the Rossum Corporation... there is something they need to do first; access Caroline's memories as she is the only person who has met the director. Unfortunately the wedge with her personality and memories has disappeared; there is just a damaged copy. Fixing it is beyond Topher's abilities but he has an idea who might be able to fix it. That person is brought to the LA House and they set about fixing the wedge. Intertwined with this we see Caroline, before she became Echo, as she befriends Bennett Halverson. Together they infiltrate Rossum intent on destroying the corporation. Bennett is injured and Caroline captured... finally she meets the people at the head of the corporation.

This was a really great episode; we get so many revelations and surprises that make it hard to describe in much detail while avoiding spoilers. It is a real treat that we get to see many characters who haven't appeared for a while; this is done in a way that feels natural not just an excuse to please the fans. Both storylines provide real surprises most notably a tragic event that came very suddenly and left me stunned and the identity of one of the heads of Rossum right at the end of the episode. The cast was one really fine form; I especially enjoyed guest star Summer Glau's performance as Bennett, Amy Acker's return as Dr Saunders and Fran Kranz as Topher. Overall a really impressive episode... it is just a pity that the series is nearly over now.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
8/10
Cannibals in the Old West
13 February 2019
As this film opens a pair of murderous thieves bushwhack two men as they sleep; hearing approaching horses they flee to a remote valley where one of them is killed by members of a tribe of cannibalistic troglodytes. The other escapes to the town of Bright Hope, where he is arrested. During the course of his arrest he is shot in the leg and Samantha O'Dwyer is called to tend for him. That night the savages raid the town; stealing horses, killing a stable boy and taking everybody in the town jail... Mrs O'Dwyer, the deputy and the prisoner. The next day an unlikely foursome set out to rescue them; Sheriff Franklin Hunt; his elderly Deputy 'Chicory' Kory; gunslinger John Brooder; and Arthur O'Dwyer, Samantha's husband who insists on accompanying them despite having a broken leg following an accident. The journey will be tough and they will face a variety of adversities before they ultimately reach the savages in the 'Valley of the Starving Men'... then they will face their greatest danger yet.

For the most part this is a classic western in the mould of 'The Searchers' with settlers trying to retrieve kidnapped people. The early part of the film does a fine job of introducing the key characters without telling us too much about the cannibal tribe. The journey section goes through impressive scenery which creates a good feeling of their distance from any potential help. When they get to their destination the sense of tension increases significantly. Some of what we then see wouldn't be out of place in a horror movie; this includes some very disturbing sights. The cast does a fine job; notably the four leads Kurt Russell as the Sheriff; Patrick Wilson as Arthur O'Dwyer; Richard Jenkins 'Chicory'; and Matthew Fox as John Brooder. Lili Simmons impresses as Samantha O'Dwyer although her role is smaller. Overall I'd definitely recommend this to fans of westerns who also like horror films... or vice versa even though it is more western than horror.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Koroshiya 1 (2001)
8/10
Ichi the Killer
11 February 2019
This infamous film from Takashi Miike is set in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo and is centred on two very violent characters. There is the eponymous Ichi, a troubled individual who kills those he is told are like the people who bullied him at school. One of those he kills is yakuza boss Anjo; the crime scene is cleaned up and his superiors believe he fled with their money. His enforcer is Kakihara, our second protagonist, and he is determined to discover what happened to Anjo... to this end he brutally tortures anybody he suspects might know. This leads to considerably more violence before Ichi and Kakihara finally face each other.

If violence on screen bothers you then this certainly isn't the film for you; even if you aren't usually bothered by it there will probably be material that shocks you here... to give a few examples: a man has boiling cooking oil poured on him while he is suspended from hooks; a man cuts off the tip of his tongue; wounds spray blood and a man is sliced in half... actually the last of these is the least offensive as it didn't look as real as some of the other events. Thankfully it isn't just disgusting violence; the main characters are interesting if a little strange. Kakihara is a masochist when he isn't torturing people and Ichi is a sadist even though he constantly says he doesn't like killing people. As well as these too there is an ex-cop yakuza whose son is bullied and a woman, who for no apparent reason, switches to speaking perfect English half of the time. The cast does a fine job making their extreme characters believable; this serves to make the film more disturbing. Given the material it is a bit of a surprise that it manages to be quite funny at times... sometimes it even manages to be funny and disturbing at the same time. This film certainly won't be for everybody; in fact I suspect it would offend the majority of people; but if you can take it then it is well worth watching; it is certainly a must for fans of Takashi Miike's work.

These comments are based on watching the cut UK DVD of the film which omits about three minutes of sexual violence... to be honest there was enough disturbing material without needing that as well!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Grey (2011)
8/10
They survived a plane crash but can they survive the Alaskan wilderness?
11 February 2019
John Ottway is a hunter hired to keep wolves away from a remote oil facility in Alaska. However when the plane carrying him, and fellow oil-workers back to Anchorage crashes in the wilderness he finds himself among the hunted. Seven people, including Ottway, survived the crash but there numbers are soon reduced; they are in the territory of a pack of wolves and the weather is extreme. Knowing that their only chance of survival is to move they head to the trees but getting there is nowhere near the end of their troubles. Tempers fray, the wolves get closer and the weather worsens.

It may be argued that the behaviour of the wolves isn't realistic but that didn't reduce my enjoyment of the film as the tension was constantly high once it became clear that the plane was going to crash. I wasn't surprised to learn that this was filmed in a real frozen wilderness as one could almost feel the extreme cold. Liam Neeson does a solid job as Ottway; he certainly feels like the sort of person who might survive such a situation. The rest of the characters are less interesting, their constant bickering was a distraction from the real concerns... thankfully as the numbers reduced the characters of the survivors improved somewhat. The story progressed well with various new threats arising as well as the constant threat of the wolves. Overall I'd definitely recommend this to fans of 'man versus dangerous animals' films; it may not be as good as 'Jaws' but it beats most examples of the genre I've seen.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Endeavour: Pylon (2019)
Season 6, Episode 1
9/10
Morse returns but he is now in uniform
11 February 2019
After the closure of Cowley Police Station at the end of the last series things have changed for our protagonists; Morse is back in uniform as a sergeant with a rural beat; DI Thursday is still in CID but he is now the junior partner to new comer DCI Ronnie Cox; Strange has been transferred to Banbury CID and CS Bright is in charge of the traffic division. Events will bring most of them back together again. A young girl goes missing on the way home from school; her body is found under a pylon in a field by Morse. When CID turn up Cox is fairly dismissive of Morse but when the latter reports that there have been claims of a young drug user in the area he fixates on that one suspect... especially when it emerges that Thursday had helped convict his father of murdering his mother. Morse isn't convinced and continues to investigate; further suspects emerge and the urgency increases when a second girl goes missing.

I wasn't sure how the series would progress after the protagonists separated but this story effectively brought them back together without feeling overly forced. The dynamic had obviously changed somewhat but that worked in its favour as it enabled development for established characters. The story also provided a good introduction for new character DCI Cox. Having the death of a child as the central mystery naturally gave things a down beat feel that fitted but not excessively so. Things developed well with more suspects arising and possible links to other crimes, including a previous disappearance. The final resolution wasn't too obvious but was satisfying. The cast were on fine form; especially Shaun Evans, now sporting a moustache, as Morse and Roger Allam as Thursday; Simon Harrison was also solid as new character DCI Cox, a character who appeared to have attended the Gene Hunt (Life on Mars) school of policing. Overall a welcome return that managed to add plenty of development despite this being the sixth series as well as a good mystery.
13 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Road House (1989)
8/10
Solid '80s action from Swayze
10 February 2019
This '80s classic sees Patrick Swayze playing James Dalton; a cooler called in to turn around a rough bar and make it the sort of place civilised people go to. He is given a free hand and quickly bars troublesome types as well as sacking a bouncer with anger issues, a barmaid selling drugs on the side and a barman who is helping himself to money. He quickly makes a number of enemies; most noticeably Brad Wesley, a character who has got rich by forcing every business in town to give him a cut of their profits. He doesn't like the fact that the barman Dalton fired was his nephew... he is even less pleased when Dalton starts seeing Dr Elizabeth Clay; a woman he has had an eye on for some time. Dalton prefers to avoid a fight but when he gets caught up in one he tends to win... it isn't long before he is caught up in a lot of fights and it is rarely against anybody who fights clean. Ultimately he will have to take the fight to Wesley and his thugs.

I was surprised to learn that this film earnt several 'Razzie' nominations; it might not be Oscar material but it is far from a bad film... sure it is a bit cheesy at times but it is a lot of fun. The story is simple enough but it provides plenty of decent action. This isn't the highly choreographed martial arts that comes close to dance but the rough and ready sort that looks like a real fight with the ensuing real pain. It is also a bit gruesome at times; but not excessively so. The dialogue, it must be admitted, is pretty poor... but that just adds to the '80s charm. The romance between Dalton and Dr Clay seemed a bit forced; as if it was just there to give Wesley another excuse to hate Dalton. Patrick Swayze is a lot of fun as Dalton and Ben Gazzara hams it up as Wesley... a character who seems to be a meaner version of Boss Hogg. The rest of the cast are fun enough. Overall I'd say this is a must see for fans of '80s action.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Tango & Cash (1989)
7/10
A solid 'buddy cop' movie
10 February 2019
Ray Tango and Gabe Cash are the two top cops in LA when it comes to sending down the bad guys. They are also rivals with very different characters; Tango is always seen in sharp Italian suits while Cash is definitely blue collar. This doesn't affect how the bad guys think of them though... they are fed up of losing million dollar shipments of illicit items so one of them, Yves Perret, comes up with a plan to get rid of them. First they are framed for a crime they didn't commit then they are sent to a violent and corrupt prison where they will be lucky to survive more than a day or two. If they are to survive they will have to overcome their differences and work together to escape and hunt down Perret.

In the '80s and '90s there were plenty of 'buddy cop' movies that show two very different cops forced to work together... this isn't the best example but it is still a lot of fun. From the start it is clear that it isn't taking itself too seriously as Silvester Stallone's Tango is compared to Rambo in the opening sequence. The story isn't great but it serves to deliver plenty of action and a decent number of laughs. Stallone and Kurt Russell are solid in the lead roles, neither taking things too seriously nor letting things get too silly for the most part... at least until the end when things get a bit too silly. There are some good tense moments, especially when they are in prison, as well as lots of impressive action which includes fights, shootouts and explosions. The secondary cast was decent enough although I've no idea why Brion James's character was meant to be English... his lines were straight out of the 'Cliché English Gangster' book! Overall though this was rather fun; I'd recommend it to fans of the genre.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Safe Harbour (2018– )
8/10
Moral questions are raised in this Australian drama
10 February 2019
Five years before the events depicted in this drama a group of five Australian friends enjoyed a sailing holiday in the seas south of Indonesia. Then they came across a boat overloaded with refugees hoping to cross to Australia; after some discussion they decided to give them a tow. In the present Ryan Gallagher, the boat's skipper, meets Ismail Al-Bayati, one of the refugees, who is now a Brisbane taxi driver, and invites him and his family to dinner. It soon becomes clear that the Australians hadn't towed the refugees back to Australia. They are accused of cutting the tow rope during the night and abandoning the refugees, leading to the death of Ismail's sick daughter.

As events unfold questions are raised... did one of the people on the yacht cut the rope, and if so who? Or was it cut by one of the refugees when they realised that the yacht was in fact towing them towards Indonesia as a storm approached. The pressure rises further when the police start an investigation and truths start to emerge.

This was an impressive four part drama. I raises interesting moral questions that has the viewer wondering what they would do if they found themselves in a similar situation to the five sailors. There is a good sense of mystery as we wonder who cut the rope and the finger of suspicion moves from one character to another. If there I have one complaint it is that the identity of the person who cut the rope is revealed at the end of the third episode leading to a rather melodramatic finale. The cast does a solid job bringing the various characters to life and making the dilemma seem real. Overall I'd say this is well worth watching.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
When They Cry (Series Two)
10 February 2019
In series one we saw the same few weeks in 1983 in the village of Hinamizawa playing out like a twisted 'Groundhog Day'... each time ending in paranoia, insanity and murder. We are told that there is a curse that caused the deaths but we don't know why time is repeating or the cause of the curse... that was the 'questions arc'; now in series two we get the 'solutions arc'.

Over the course of this season we learn that one of our school-aged protagonists is fully aware that this time is repeating and has endured the weeks leading up to their murder over and over for about a hundred years... different actions may change how things come to pass but the end result is the same. The something happens; others have ideas of what happened before leading to the hope that the events may finally end. Intertwined with this we learn that another character has far more to do with events than anybody could have suspected.

Season one of 'When They Cry' earnt a reputation as a particularly disturbing horror anime with scenes at least as disturbing as many mainstream horror movies... this series sees a change of direction. The gore is almost all gone but there is a decent amount of action instead; particularly towards the end of the series. We also get some really good character development; not just for the main cast but also for the person revealed as the main antagonist. I liked the fact that this character was given a good back story that made it possible to have some sympathy for them even when their behaviour is clearly wrong. The animation is good; certainly better than the first season and while the character designs haven't changed they look better drawn. Overall I certainly enjoyed this and was pleased to see the questions raised in season one answered; I'd certainly recommend watching this if you enjoyed the first season; just don't expect the disturbing scares.

These comments are based on watching the series in Japanese with English subtitles.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Garden of Sinners 7: ...Not Nothing Heart (Murder Speculation Part Two)
9 February 2019
It is February 1999 and another series of brutal murders, similar to those that took place four years previously, has begun. Each time a woman in a kimono is reported near the scene leading Mikiya to fear that Shiki is in some way involved. The only other clue is that the victims had been linked to a new drug cocktail. As Mikiya investigates he crosses paths with dangerous individuals. As the truth about the killing becomes apparent it seems that this will be the most dangerous story for both Mikiya and Shiki.

This, the seventh 'Garden of Sinners' films is one of the best. It introduces the killings in a way that strongly suggests that Shiki is behind them without entirely eliminating the possibility of somebody else being involved. Mikiya's concern that Shiki, a person he has grown to care for, might be involved is brilliantly portrayed. As the truth becomes apparent the sense of danger increases dramatically as we approach the finale. This is surprisingly bloody and features elements that are more than a little disturbing. As anybody who has watched the previous instalments will expect the animation is top notch with detailed artwork, impressive movement and a fantastic use of light and dark. Overall I thought this was a great conclusion to original 'Garden of Sinners' film series.

These comments are based on watching the film in Japanese with English subtitles.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Grand Tour: An Itchy Urus (2019)
Season 3, Episode 5
9/10
A solid instalment; particularly the Jim Clark tribute
8 February 2019
This episode sees each of the three presenters fronting separate sections and some conversation in the tent. James May's section sees him reviewing the Alpine A110, a French sports car. Clarkson heads to Sweden to test the new Lamborghini Urus on the snow, and race against racing driver Abbie Eaton, who is in a Porsche, on a suggestively shaped racetrack. Finally Richard Hammond narrates a tribute to Scottish race car driver Jim Clark.

After a slightly disappointing episode involving silliness in pick-up trucks this was a return to form. The reviews of the Alpine and the Lamborghini felt like proper reviews while still having the entertainment value one expects. The highlight of the episode though was the tribute to Jim Clark. There was no silliness here; just a discussion of his successes in 1965 in several racing competitions, complete with footage and then onto his tragic death in 1968. This footage was interspersed with pieces to camera from people who knew him... this was top notch and very emotional. Overall a really fine episode.
7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
A modern film that feels like classic noir
8 February 2019
In 1949, Ed Crane works as a barber in Santa Rosa, a quiet Californian town. He suspects that his wife is having an affair with her boss, "Big Dave" Brewster, but doesn't say anything to either of them... at least not until a customer talks of a business opportunity requiring a $10,000 investment. He anonymously blackmails Big Dave and gets the money... and in doing so sets in motion a series of events that will lead to a death, accusations of murder and the destruction of many lives.

The Cohen brothers have really captured the feel of classic film noir here; if one didn't recognise the actors one might almost mistake this for a film made in the forties or fifties. The plot has the sort of characters and twists one would expect in the genre and it is shot in a similar way; this isn't limited to the use of black and white. The cast is great; most notably Billy Bob Thornton as protagonist Ed Crane who narrates his story. Other notable performances come from Frances McDormand, as Ed's wife; and James Gandolfini as Big Dave. All of the characters are well drawn with their own quirks that make them believable, even as things go very wrong. Overall I'd say this is one to watch if you are a fan of classic film noir or of the Cohen Brothers other films.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Dreams turn to nightmares in this tale of four Coney Island residents troubled by addiction
7 February 2019
In the summer four residents of Coney Island dream of better times. Widow Sara Goldfarb spends her days watching self-help programmes on television; then one day she gets a phone call inviting her to be on a show... she is determined to go on wearing her favourite red dress. Unfortunately she is a little too large for it; dieting doesn't work so she turns to pills. Her son Harry and his friend Tyrone are regular drug users who have a plan to fund their habit and raise money for a better life by turning to dealing... all goes well till their supply is shut off. Harry's girlfriend Marion is also using and resorts to prostituting herself to get her fix.

It must be stated that this film isn't easy viewing; in the opening scene we see Harry taking his mother's television to pay for a fix. Then, even as things are getting better for him, we see his mother drawn into a different but no less dangerous addiction... prescribed by a doctor. As summer turns to autumn things get much grimmer and one wonders just how bad things will get... and it gets worse. Director Darren Aronofsky's use of rapid cuts captures the manic urgency of the addicts' lives. The cast is impressive; in particular the four leads; Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb; Jared Leto as Harry; Jennifer Connelly as Marion and Marlon Wayans as Tyrone. They really make us believe in their characters as their lives descend into a nightmare. Overall I'd certainly recommend this but prepare to be disturbed.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Solid action and some good twists
7 February 2019
Christian Wolff is an autistic savant with a skill for numbers. His clients are among the most disreputable criminals and now he is in the sights of Ray King, the director of Treasury Department's the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Looking for a more reputable client Wolff takes a job investigating an accounts discrepancy at a robotics company. He quickly finds that there is indeed a problem but his contract is terminated after the 'suicide' of the company's Chief Financial Officer. Soon both he and Dana Cummings, the company accountant who first suspected something was wrong, are targeted by killers. They hadn't banked on a mere accountant being proficient in martial arts and a crack shot... it isn't long before they are the hunted.

This is a solid action thriller with some interesting characters. Ben Affleck does a fine job as Wolff making us believe that this is a man who can both solve complex mathematical problems and dispatched trained killers with ease. Anna Kendrick was solid as Dana; it was refreshing to have a film like this where there is no romance between the leading man and leading woman. The rest of the cast are good too; notably J. K. Simmons as Director King, Cynthia Addai-Robinson as analyst Marybeth Medina and John Lithgow who runs the company Wolff investigates. The use of flashbacks to show Wolff's childhood, and how he came to possess his skills were entertaining and made the character more believable. There are plenty of action scenes; these are all well handled with a dynamism that keeps things exciting. The final twist was perhaps a little too far-fetched but it didn't reduce my enjoyment of the film. Overall well worth watching if you enjoy action films with a decent plot.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Dollhouse: The Attic (2009)
Season 2, Episode 10
9/10
Into the Attic
6 February 2019
The previous episode ended with Adelle dispatching Echo, Sierra and Victor to the attic. Shortly after Echo is processed she appears to die only to wake up, kill two attic workers and try to rescue Sierra and Victor only for them all to die and this be revealed as a dream. It then starts recurring although now Echo knows it isn't real... just life in the attic. As she explores she finds an unlikely ally who tells her about the true nature of the attic and about a dangerous predator who kills the attics inmates. Back in the main part of the Dollhouse Topher and Ivy are being pressured find a way to 'repair' Ballard.

After many mentions of The Attic it was great to finally see it and learn just what it really is. The way it is depicted nicely captures the strangeness of dreams with the constant feel that things aren't quite real but are still believable to those in the dream. The truth about the nature of the attic was interesting and not too obvious. The events back in the Dollhouse were no less interesting as ideas for what to do with Ballard were discussed. The cast did a solid job with Eliza Dushku being on great form as Echo and Reed Diamond makes an enjoyable return for the first time since his character left the series in the first season. Overall an impressive episode which answers some important questions.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Dollhouse: Stop-Loss (2009)
Season 2, Episode 9
8/10
Victor leaves the Dollhouse
6 February 2019
Victor has been at the Dollhouse for five years so his contract is coming to an end. Adelle uses for one last personal engagement but it doesn't end well for her emotionally. He is then released from his contract and Anthony Ceccoli walks out and restarts his life... or he would if another part of Rossum didn't have plans for him. They kidnap him that night and take him to a secret facility to recruit him into a military unit made up of ex-dolls whose minds are connected. Topher realises that something is wrong and tells Boyd; soon Echo, with Sierra's help, is mounting a rescue mission.

This was another enjoyable episode. It provided good character development for Adelle, Echo, Sierra and particularly Victor as well as some fine action sequences. It opens well with Adelle's disappointment as Victor's 'Roger' persona dumps her; while this section could easily be seen as a mere prologue it serves to set up Adelle's emotional state for the remainder of the episode. Victor's release from the dollhouse and subsequent kidnapping were interesting as was the revelation about those who took him. Echo gets good development as we learn more about her relationship with her various personas. The cast does a solid job; most notably Enver Gjokaj, who takes centre stage as Victor. The episode's main plot line is nicely wrapped up by the end but the final scenes set things up for the next episode. Overall a fine episode which left me keen to discover what will happen next.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Law of Desire (1987)
8/10
Law of Desire
4 February 2019
This film is centred on two siblings; Pablo, a gay film director who makes homo-erotic films; and his sister Tina, who is a transsexual lesbian who dreams of being an actress and is raising a ten year old girl named Ada who is the daughter of her former girlfriend. After Pablo's lover, Jaun, goes away for the summer he begins a relationship with Antonio, not suspecting that the latter will get dangerously jealous of his love for Juan.

As with most films by director Pedro Almodóvar the plot is secondary to the characters; it is there to put the characters in an interesting, and fairly melodramatic positions. This of course requires interesting central characters and here we get those. As is often the case they are a fairly unconventional group. There are things that may disturb some viewers such as Tina talking about her incestuous relationship with her father who persuaded her to get a sex change before leaving her... particularly shocking is that she doesn't feel abused. Pablo's relationships with Juan and Antonio are surprisingly frank for a film made in the eighties. The cast is solid with Eusebio Poncela and Carmen Maura really impressing as Pablo and Tina; Antonio Banderas is great as Antonio and young Manuela Velasco impresses as Ada. Things do get melodramatic towards the end but that doesn't feel out of place; in fact it is relatively mild compared to some of Almodóvar's other films. Overall I'd say this won't be for everybody but it is a must see for fans of Almodóvar's work.

These comments are based on watching the film in Spanish with English subtitles.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Crash (1996)
8/10
Disturbing... even by Cronenberg's standards
3 February 2019
This film is centred on married couple James and Catherine Ballard; they are in an open relationship and seem to get more pleasure hearing about the others 'activities' than when being intimate together. Then one day James is driving along the freeway and loses control of his car; he ends up in the oncoming traffic and crashes head on with another car. He survives, the driver of the other car is killed and his wife, Dr Helen Remington, appears to be aroused. He meets her again in the hospital and she introduces him to a man named Vaughn, who he'd previously thought to be a hospital worker. It soon becomes apparent that he is part of a strange subculture of people aroused by car crashes... so much so that he and stuntman friends recreate various infamous celebrity crashes; his latest project being the crash that killed James Dean. Soon the Ballards are caught up in this dangerous world.

When this film was released it was considered controversial... which probably led to more people watching. Often when that is the case as the years pass one grows to wonder what the fuss was about but this is still quite disturbing. It isn't just the subject matter but the way it is filmed; there are numerous sex scenes but there is something sterile about them; almost as mechanical as the cars many of the scenes take place in. This is clearly deliberate and serves to make the scenes more disturbing than erotic. The cast do an impressive job playing characters who are for the most part cold and detached; the only one who seems to show real emotion is Elias Koteas, who as Vaughan, is most alive when he is about to be involved in potentially fatal car crashes. Overall this is a hard film to recommend but that isn't to say it isn't a good film just one that won't be to everybody's taste.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Hollywoodland (2006)
8/10
Who shot Superman?
3 February 2019
In the summer of 1959 the actor George Reeves, famed for playing Superman on television, was found shot at his home in Los Angeles. The LAPD has ruled it suicide but private investigator Louis Simo, who wants to make a name for himself, investigates for Reeves's mother, who doesn't believe it was suicide. There are certainly some reasons to suspect foul play; no finger prints on the gun, bullet holes in the floor and lack of powder burns. There are plenty of suspects; the fiancée left nothing in his will; the woman he had been having a long term affair with or perhaps her husband, a powerful film mogul... whatever the truth the film studios want the story over with no scandal. Intertwined with Simo's investigation we see George Reeve's story, starting when his career was at a low point, through his finding fame playing Superman, then dealing with being unable to find major roles afterwards, and finally the night of his death.

This story nicely combines known facts about the real George Reeves and the controversy following his death and a fictional investigation by the fictional Louis Simo. Often in films inspired by real cases where the truth is unknown a solution is found but here, while various theories are posited no concrete answer is given. Ultimately it is left for the viewer to decide if he was murdered, and by whom, or if it was indeed suicide as the LAPD determined. The film nicely captures the feel of 50's Hollywood familiar to anybody who watched film noir set at the time; there is that feeling that while everything looks squeaky clean there is corruption and violence just under the surface. The way Simo's investigation was intertwined with scenes of Reeve's life worked to show similarities between the characters. The cast did a solid job; most notably Adrien Brody and Ben Affleck as Simo and Reeves but also Diane Lane, who played Reeves's mistress and Robin Tunney, who played his fiancée. Overall I'd certainly recommend this to fans of neo-noir even if it isn't the best example of the genre.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Dollhouse: A Love Supreme (2009)
Season 2, Episode 8
9/10
Alpha is targeting Echo's previous romantic engagements
2 February 2019
As this episode opens we see one of Echo's former romantic engagements talking about his time with her; it then becomes apparent that he is talking to Alpha... who then kills him. Back in the Dollhouse Adelle won't let Echo undergo a treatment; instead she insists on observing her despite her head aches. This goes on until a regular books her. She finds him dead... and it was clear he was dead when the engagement was booked. Alpha is quickly suspected and the Dollhouse tries to contact other men who hired Echo. One of them, Joel Mynor who appeared in season one, is taken back to the Dollhouse for his own safety... but will that be enough?

This was a really solid episode, largely thanks to the return of Alpha. He is a believably dangerous character; Alan Tudyk does a really impressive job in the role. His appearance isn't the only good thing though; the internal politics in the Dollhouse is intriguing as loyalties aren't that obvious when it comes to who will help Ballard in his mission to bring down the house. There are some genuinely surprising moments and plenty of exciting, action packed moments. There is also a greater emotional punch than in most episodes for reasons I won't spoil here. Overall another impressive episode.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

Recently Viewed