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Terrible in every way
11 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
You could have stuck the name of any number of numpty directors on the front of this and genuinely believed they'd produce such throwaway trash. But for a respected filmmaker to proudly proclaim in the opening credits "John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars", what an embarrassment for him, and it just goes to show how far he's fallen.

It's probably been criticised enough on here already, and rightly so, but a few more digs can't hurt. The concept and plot of the film is so inept, it physically hurts you to sit through; the idea of revisiting scenes and following different characters' adventures separately may have been smart, were it not for the complete lack of a timeline. For example when the Commander goes missing, Jericho has a 2 minute strand compared to Melanie's 10 minutes, yet when he calls her she's there and ready to speak to him, when in reality she would still be fighting with Williams.

The script is lazy and the direction half hearted, resulting in action scenes that are both repetitive and boring, including a scene lasting WAY too long where they shoot the hosts in two's as they march through a door. And the main 'villain' in this rotten plot is a Marilyn Manson lookalike who yells and screams his way through the film without ever making an impression or doing anything at all.

A really poor effort. 3/10
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When voice-over narration went wrong
28 December 2005
In my opinion Kevin Costner's acting ability is not in question at all - he was great in the far superior Western, 'Wyatt Earp' - it's just the rank awful writing that spoils the day here.

It starts off immature, "these people were my friends", "I am a celebrity", then gradually descends into cheesy sentiment, "I came to understand that every last one of these people were great and the white men are so, so bad", before finishing off at downright sickly "he only smiled and talked of simple pleasures, a good fire was better than anything" - but however bad the voice-over journal was, I managed to cringe my way through it somehow.

It was a case of Costner over-egging the point to the stage of ramming it down our throats - I think every one of us understands now that all Indians weren't murdering vigilantes with daft names. Okay so they do have daft names, but by no means is this a criticism of them and I don't mean to offend any Indians or Costner by saying it. And Fist In The Mouth or whatever he was called was obviously a very dignified character, as was made abundantly clear on more than one occasion - about eight I think.

One thing that got me though was how Dunbar and co. were crying over some dead buffalo in one scene, but then ten seconds later were themselves having a 15-minute heroic buffalo chase, which was so over the top you felt sure a rabid Dunbar was going to start eating one raw.

It was too much for me this film, I like to make my own mind up while watching films rather than be spoon-fed a load of sentimental claptrap like this. 4/10
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26 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
If you didn't necessarily associate Katharine Hepburn's name with comedy before this film, then you certainly will afterwards. To be fair though she's been been in some belters with Spencer Tracy, 'Woman of the Year' and 'Adam's Rib', plus the excellent Philadelphia Story also with Cary Grant. But she genuinely excels in Bringing Up Baby, alongside a flawless Grant.

I was actually very surprised to see some poor opinions of the film in this comments list, some people obviously have no taste at all - although common sense has clearly prevailed given the very impressive average score and a secured place in the top 250. And there is some real genius to be had along the way here - the use of the leopard is comedy gold dust, putting glasses on Cary Grant is an inspired move, and to have David casually miss his wedding day to spend it digging holes in a 26-acre garden, the whole thing will leave you wondering just WHY you haven't seen this film sooner.

The cast is universally excellent but the pick of the support was undoubtedly Charles Ruggles as Major Applegate - or "Appletree" if you were listening hard enough - he turned in a fantastic and hilarious performance during the dinner scene.

I can't praise this film enough and it's one of my favourite comedies of all time, no doubt. 9/10
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Nil by Mouth (1997)
24 December 2005
Having watched Ray Winstone star in Tim Roth's directorial debut, 'The War Zone', a couple of weeks back - where he played an incestuous father abusing his daughter - I thought there was a good chance of something similarly shocking on the way in this, Gary Oldman's debut behind the camera. I wasn't wrong. As one destructive scene follows the other, it is really worth making a mental note of trying to avoid everything to do with Ray Winstone when he's in a bad mood. He's one scary fella.

For all the epic scenes in this film though, there is some real indulgence on Oldman's part and "cut" should really have been yelled a lot sooner on a few occasions. The amount of times we see some loser addict shooting up gets ridiculous, Ray's breakdown scene with the phone and the mirror is well acted, sure, but goes on forever, plus Billy is allowed to talk AT LENGTH about some dog he had when he was a child. There are quite a few scenes which are dragged out similar to these - the editing just wasn't up to scratch, and the momentum drops sharply particularly when Billy is in the film.

And for all the world it seemed as though the ending would come following Val's speech to Ray outside the flat where she puts him firmly in place. Such a fitting ending I thought. But no. There follows a scene in the kitchen where everybody's having a laugh and playing happy families. Didn't fit at all.

I've given 'Nil By Mouth' 7 out of 10 - it is a heavyweight British effort that everybody should take a look at - but that doesn't mean I'd go near it again. Once is definitely enough.
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The Statement (2003)
A bit of a flop
17 December 2005
I dare say this film would have been much better received had it cast the film logically rather than have 'everybody's favourite Cockney' Michael Caine playing somebody called Pierre Boussard - I mean, Caine has never struck me as a "Pierre" somehow. And we can say for sure, that it couldn't have done any worse, a $22m financial loss is testament to that.

Of course I realise the book is in English, but there is a big difference between the two mediums and very rarely does a film pull off a stunt like this, see 'The Hunt For Red October' or Jude Law's Russian misfortune in 'Enemy At The Gates'. At least The Statement didn't slip into having Caine and co. adopt Gallic accents - that would have been too much to bare.

As for the film itself, it seemed a complete waste of police time to have half of the French PD chasing round after an OAP with a heart condition who'd been *ordered* to kill seven people 50 years earlier during German occupation. And for the film to set itself up as some sort of chase thriller, it very rarely gets past a stroll and the tension never really reaches the levels it should do.

All that said though, there are far worse films out there and this isn't an altogether bad way to spend 2 hours. 6/10
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Needlessly confusing
14 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
So hands up, who knows which babies were swapped, when, where and why, who got run down by the lorry, why the mother went to live in a convent, and just what happened to the 'bad' twin once her death had been faked? Oh, and can anybody explain why none of this was explained.

Thankfully, all of the above has become clear to me now, but only after sifting through the IMDb message boards for this film. Turns out, the film's star Vincent Cassel doesn't have a clue either. It also turns out that "everything is revealed" on the DVD making-of. Great.

But it's a real shame though, because they genuinely had a tense thriller on their hands before it descended into Nazi nonsense. The atmosphere was simmering for the opening hour or so, and using the two detective's investigations as two separate narrative strands was some really intelligent film-making. But then the plot gets ridiculous and unclear, and when you do eventually realise the extent of the convoluted plot, you can understand why they didn't put any explanations of it in. It's a load of nonsense.

P.S. I've decided not to mention the 3 minutes of Jet Li theatrics somewhere in the middle of this film. I thought it would save embarrassment for all concerned were I to merely brush over it.
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'What sort of man builds kitchens on compassionate leave?'
13 December 2005
This film was given the slot following Film 2005 on the BBC last night, a slot which is usually reserved for the more decent efforts. And with my mind still on the excellent King Kong preview in that programme - it looks amazing and opens this Thursday - 'The One and Only' managed to divert my attention away from that.

It is a very effective film in it's own way, the jokes, wisecracks and one-liners come thick and fast once everything gets going and I must admit some of the stuff is pretty good. Apart from Richard Roxburgh's Geordie accent slipping into Welsh on occasion and Justine Waddell trying too hard at times for her character to be a bit wacky, everything plays out in a gentle, irreverent manner until an overly soppy ending which I wasn't a huge fan of.

There was also reference to Newcastle United's poor transfer policy and tendency to pay over the odds for anything that moves, with "7 million pounds worth of groin strain", 'King of the treatment room' Italian Andrea Buffeloni who's played only 34 minutes since his transfer. Which is currently very relevant considering Albert Luque's pricey transfer in the summer and his subsequent lack of games.

All in all, a surprisingly good film which is very funny in parts. 6/10
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Car Wash (1976)
Richard Pryor
12 December 2005
In a somewhat morbid coincidence, Channel 5 in the UK managed to have this scheduled for the day after Richard's Pryor's death. And to be sure - even though he only has a 2-minute cameo - it is a harmless, lightweight affair, and the sort of material that would attempt to be a tribute to a very entertaining career.

Although in truth, this is NOT a great film. A huge cast of characters all seemingly singing from the same hymn sheet, you'll struggle to distinguish between most of them given that they're all playing the same role. Each even mildly humorous wisecrack is greeted with a chorus of "YEAH, WOOHOO, YEAH"'s from the entire workforce. Very annoying. And the 'Car Wash' tune will be imprinted on your brain for a couple of days after you watch it, seeing as they play it close to 400 times throughout.

Nothing to write home about, but not altogether without its moment's. 5/10
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Small Faces (1996)
Pretty good
8 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The hopelessness of the characters, the sparseness of the locations and the bleakness of the plot all go towards making this a very well-made no-thrills drama. The film plays a real blinder by making the young teenage brother the main character in the story, and rather than have a soapy, watered down, immature vision of everything around him, we get an honest and streetwise teenage depiction of a pretty depressing Glasgow.

The film really benefits from this realism, and although characters like Malky Johnson threaten to overflow into creeezy Scottish caricature, it manages to stay on the right side of believable by getting rid of him before the end.

As you would expect, the accents are heavy, but any Brit should follow it easily as long as their recording off the TV is a good one. Mine wasn't unfortunately, but I got by.
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3 December 2005
One quick glance at the quotes in Peter Greenaway's biography on this site will tell you all you need to know about this film - a smug, up itself mess with ideas way above it's station.

I must admit I was intrigued during the first 15 minutes or so, just what was I watching here, seemed original and somewhat interesting to begin with. But talk about over-doing it, we get basic repetition of scenes merely for the sake of it and it becomes very tiresome VERY quickly.

Plus we get the director's absurd fascination with Ewan McGregor's manhood, Greenaway seemingly living his own fantasies through an elderly Japanese publisher, who gets his way with Jerome on an all too regular basis for it just to be a plot device.

Don't expect narrative progression by the way, this is a rebellion against the filmic medium, this is art, this is the structured pictures of a painter. This is crap. 3/10.
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Kundun (1997)
Not great
2 December 2005
You wait your whole life for a film on Tibet, and then bang, two come along in the same year. Just what have we done to deserve it?

Unfortunately this is at the same mediocre level of Brad Pitt's offering. It's slow and laboured pace does it no favours at all and we are asked, like children, to stare in spiritual wonderment at things that are not worth the time or the effort. Martin Scorsese finds himself well and truly outside of his usual territory here and instead of the stunning personal storytelling we're used to from him, we are bogged down with all sorts of ridiculous mumbo-jumbo and a somewhat confined take on the history of China and Tibet. I can't imagine he enjoyed this experience much.

Not to say the direction and cinematography isn't great, Scorsese is a born filmmaker and knows what to do with a camera, just that the choice of project does him no justice whatsoever.

The first of the 17 Scorsese films I've seen that I'll be avoiding like the plague from now on.
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Downtime (1997)
27 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
From the moment a detective races down a couple of floors and catches a suicidal woman in mid-air to save her from falling 100 feet to her death, you know you are watching something VERY special. Unfortunately, special in every worst possible way. Curiously, a bit further on, a 4 year old child - getting a piggy-back down a lift rope from some guy - loses his grip, falls, and amazingly is caught cleanly in one hand by his mother, who isn't even looking.

There are some riveting scenes about a group of lads inexplicably setting fire to everything. They all look like they've just crossed straight from the set of Mad Max 3, and cannot at any point in the film, be taken seriously.

Whether this is trying to be 'Towering Inferno', 'Die Hard' or 'Escape from New York', we just don't know. What we do know, is that it shouldn't be trying. We just end up lurching from one ridiculously absurd disaster to another. Social realism you say? When was the last time you heard about somebody fannying about in a lift shaft in an abandoned block of flats in the middle of nowhere?
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A decent independent film
5 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A film that also appears to have raked it in on its theatrical release as well – you can definitely see the appeal it must have had at the time. Although it's debatable whether somebody like me is actually in the desired target audience, all the same, I'm still able to appreciate a good film when I see one.

It's always interesting to compare an independent film with their more polished counterparts – although on a budget of $1m, they were hardly skimping on this one – and it's always a good laugh to see people in the background of shots staring at the location shoot as if they've never seen a camera before. In truth, they are probably trying to see if they can spot anybody famous, but it just gives the film that raw edge that takes you back to your own film-making days when similar problems were encountered.

However, on the whole these 'problems' are kept to a minimum and apart from the odd seen-it-all-before neurotic Jewish family moment, the action plays out very well and also ends quite well, although why and if she'd end up with Josh, I'm just not sure. The guy was obviously a bit of a muppet - the way he spoke down to her at the beginning in front of everybody - so maybe they could have improved upon the ending a little but who knows, maybe she'll be back into women next week...
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Riders (2002)
28 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Well to begin with, the plot summary describes something about "five consecutive burglaries, in five days, involving 20 million dollars", but had I not read something similar in the TV guide beforehand, I would not have had one damn clue what was happening. Either I missed it, or the writers completely failed to inform the audience of exactly how many, for how much and why they were doing all of these robberies. And just why they felt the need to do them on ski's and skateboards and other seriously cool stuff like that.

It began with them roller-blading from the first bank job, they count the cash and then "Day 2" flashes up, they are holding their breath underwater, another bank job, "Day 3" flashes up, rock climbing.... er, hang on, can you introduce the main characters first please!

It is hopelessly written, it actually has some of the worst dialogue you're ever likely to hear, some ridiculously poor acting, mainly from police chief Bruce Payne. You really do have to see his performance to believe how inept it is. And I'm still not sure how Slim and Karen ended up writhing around in a sauna, had they even met each other before that?

But you have to feel for Gerard Pires, "Taxi" was great and he was seemingly trying to create something similar hear for an American/worldwide audience, but he falls so short it is untrue. Interestingly enough according to the IMDb business page for this film, it had a budget of $15m and made absolutely nothing back, which is a genuine indicator of just how bad this all is. Never has a Peugeot 406 been missed so much.
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An unlikely romance
11 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
However hard you try, somehow you just cannot imagine Peter Parker in a relationship with somebody like Charlize Theron. He only looks about 16 on the best of days Maguire, and even though he is supposed to be all sweet and innocent on his 'journey of discovery', Candy was just TOO mature for him. Let's just say any romance between the two was both unlikely and unrealistic.

In spite of this, everybody involved manages to do a great job. Michael Caine is very impressive doing his clingy father routine, although whether it deserved an Oscar is debatable, while it's obvious that Theron didn't just 'hit form' with Monster - she's been a more than capable actress for quite some time.

Plus, the film's main theme of abortion ended up to be not quite as clear cut as it first seemed. Performing terminations with a clear conscience on a daily basis, Larch would preach that it would all be for the greater good in the end, and he had seemingly gotten this through to Homer following his handywork on Rose. Yet, just when the pro-abortion message was in full swing, bang, Wally returns from Burma paralysed from the waist down and, due to her earlier visit to St. Clouds, Candy's chance of ever having a child with him up in smoke. Ambiguously well handled.
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NetForce (1999 TV Movie)
Takes itself WAY too seriously
6 October 2005
For a film based upon such a refined subject as computers and the intricacies of the internet, I felt sure that there'd have to be some sort of off-the-cuff humour injected somewhere during proceedings to offset the technical detail. Surely they couldn't expect everybody to get excited about firewalls, web browsers and computer crime without something else to keep it company. Well, as it turns out, that's exactly what they expected and the film turns out to be drier than dust.

Some of the technical detail was stretched to the very limit of credibility - it seems they severely overshot what the internet would be like in 2005 - yet they still imagined we'd be using floppy disks? More research, and effort, was called for in places that's for sure.

Plus, it was an hour too long. Nearly 160 minutes is far too excessive for a film of its kind and an hour could easily have been taken off without too many problems. The acting was hokey - but not as bad as some TV movies - the technology very dodgy in parts and the romance subplot extremely wobbly, but anybody with even half an interest in computers and the internet may as well give it a go.
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Dying Young (1991)
It's no 'Terms of Endearment'
24 September 2004
But it shouldn't be written off completely because of that.

It's a very one-dimensional story really which isn't shy in it's aim of trying to get every last member of the audience crying their eyes out before it's over. So one thing it isn't, is subtle. If the first remission won't get you, the third one will.

However, the first post-chemotherapy scene is quite harrowing and the hand held camera-work as Julia Roberts dashes from room to room after him as he shouts and vomits all over the place, is very well done. But then the film gets far too silky from there - instead of a realistic portrayal of a leukemia sufferer, we get a worthless romance with the illness somewhat slotted in the background. Can't somebody tell these people that there are enough romance films out there, and I for one would have much preferred a progression of the cancer storyline and it's impact on him - however uncomfortable that may have been, I just think it would've been a lot more worthwhile.

If they had done that, maybe the film would be remembered and respected more than 10 years after it's release - rather than a film hardly anybody's even heard of.

Quite a disappointment, I'd give it 4/5 out of 10.
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The Patriot (2000)
It makes you proud to be English
21 September 2004
Maybe the American makers of this film thought that nobody outside of the US would give a monkey's toss about the American Independence - and they'd be right - but it somehow managed to make it to other countries anyway, including that little EVIL place called Britain.

Mel Gibson continues his crusade to devour anything and everything to do with the British Empire and takes it upon himself - literally by himself by the way - to gain America's independence. If you're expecting great action sequences here, be warned that they are all in slow-mo with Gibson charging around the battlefield like an idiot, looking all brave and stuff. At one point he even stabs the BAD English colonel's horse with the American flag - I kid you not!

More evidence, as if it were needed, as to how pathetic this film actually is, comes with the casting of pretty boy Keith Sledger in the "heroic" role of Gibson's son - easily the single most annoying character ever to grace a war film.

One saving grace is Jason Isaacs - brilliant in his role.

Terrible film, of which there is no justification. 0/10
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Nell (1994)
It tests the patience
16 September 2004
I would've loved to have seen the script for this film, and Jodie Foster's face when she first had a quick glance at it, "eessghh knahdhhd naderr loada crap knnaaa knaaaa". In all probability, her eyes would have lit up and the thought of another gleaming Oscar would have had her dribbling all over the "worthy dialogue" - after all, the Academy love stuff like this, don't they?

But I wasn't impressed - the very nice doctor vs. the bad doctors, the media frenzy when in reality no-one would care, Nell's awful introduction into the wide world, the characters in the poolhouse, Nell's inability to repeat the simplest of words, and while SHE couldn't even attempt English, Neeson had gotten a total grip of her gibberish. Come on. And the ending is truly dreadful - "5 years later" - the oldest, and the worst, trick in the book.

And Liam Neeson is not good enough either - it's a tough role for him, but he just ain't up to it. He's TOO sympathetic and ends up looking like some over-the-top stalker while Foster hogs the limelight in every scene. And she loves the limelight.

On the whole, it could have been a lot better, were it not for a few OTT acting performances and the annoying need to "please the audience".
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Surely Dogme inspired
14 September 2004
The way it is haphazardly edited, the poor quality of the sound and the general disturbed nature of the plot and it's character's, all suggest that Dom Rotheroe has been watching too much of Lars von Trier at al.

We begin with 15 minutes of absolutely nothing - walking to and from school, little dialogue, little plot development apart from a hedgehog and the odd jump from a tree. But this laboured pacing sets us up for the almost 'mentioned-in-passing' rape of a young schoolgirl by her teacher. In her own bedroom. With her mother downstairs in the living room. We know from here that what we are watching is pretty serious stuff.

With an air of 'Heavenly Creatures', the two kids become almost inseparable, stripping off but doing little more than feeling each other and banging foreheads - we are shown an extremely intense relationship between two seriously messed up children.

I thought I recognised the girl who played Jessica from somewhere else, but looking at her bio there is nothing on there that rings a bell. She puts in an impressive performance which she'll probably never match, and one which I'm sure she'd be disappointed has only been witnessed by a small number.

On the whole, the film was very engaging and very hard-hitting - but the biggest compliment I can give, is that I'm pretty sure Mr von Trier would have loved it.
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Jacob's Ladder (I) (1990)
Interesting, but a bit wayward
14 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers

The success of this film is down to the brilliant way it is very eerily shot, and some of the hallucinogenic images are wonderful - the trip through the hospital with limbs everywhere and the ice cold bath scene being particular faves. If nothing else does, these will keep you glued to the screen.

However, I think it's always difficult to construct a narrative by relying solely on a constant stream of crazy images and shock tactics to carry everything along. And while the events are certainly different, there is a sense about half way through that the film is lacking any sort of direction. Just where is it going?

But from here, as the story threatens to go a bit stale, Adrian Lyne craftily connects all of the previous demon guff together with the discovery that other members of Tim Robbins' battalion may be suffering the same symptoms, due to a government chemical of some sort. This plot twist managed to peak my interest in the film again and leads nicely into the final few scenes where everything is cleared up and the true nature of all the events and hallucinations are explained.

Tim Robbins is his usual dopey, "just what is going on?" self - which works well in this situation, while the film also features Macauley Culkin at the height of his career. Look out for that.

Although the Good/Evil, Heaven/Hell, God/Devil stuff does get a bit annoying at times, the film is a very intelligent one which deserves the praise it gets.
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Jilting Joe (1998)
Very tame
9 September 2004
Geraldine Somerville is like a fish out of water in this one - I remember she was great in the TV series 'Cracker' for a couple of years, but this film really doesn't suit her at all.

It starts with a ridiculous set-piece played to "The Look of Love" - which almost had me turning off straight away. Then it rumbled on for a bit longer, she jilts Joe......"10 years later"......a car park designer. The interesting thing for me though was that her "running into" her former fiancée after all that time isn't as coincidental as some plot summaries may make out - seeing as her mother is going out with his father.

We get a bit of conflict between the two, some repressed and uptight guff, a Spanish woman, a tombola, a burned down gazebo, a talking sheep with a scouse accent, another wedding and some more "A Look of Love". And hey presto, that's it.

It's really not worth the time or the effort. The good thing is that it doesn't out-stay it's welcome, only being 80 minutes long.
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High Art (1998)
Ugly film
8 September 2004
I don't know what this dimly lit, dour-looking, drug-obsessed film says about the lesbian scene, but it sure can't be a positive statement.

The two leads are photographers - you know, seeing life through a lens and all that - which is not a terrifically original metaphor to use in a film or anywhere else for that matter. It's pretty elementary stuff really that, let's just say, has been somewhat over-used over the years. All told, it's a pretty lifeless film, in which everybody is either high or dead.

If you're interested in drugs, feminism, drugs, photography, overdoses, and then even more drugs, then this will be right up your street.
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Timecode (2000)
Ridiculously good
7 September 2004
I am pretty sure that I will not see a more jaw-dropping piece of film-making for quite some time. To put the complexity of filming 4 continuous takes simultaneously and in full co-ordination into any perspective, is extremely difficult. And then to have such a dramatic climax at the end of 93 improvised minutes is pretty mind-blowing.

I'm sure plenty of people will scream "pretentious crap" - as the girl suggests in her meeting speech - but the innovative brilliance of this film should be applauded above everything else. For example, little things like how the camera is focused on Skarsgard in the meeting while his wife is having it away with another woman. And then bigger things such as each screen simultaneously focusing in close-up on their characters eyes. Unbelievable.

I'm sure this isn't everybody's cup of tea - some people just don't appreciate the concept of doing something unique and risky. Some people even go as far as criticising Mike Figgis for attempting this - when in truth, this experiment was never likely to reach the masses, so any accusation of arrogance/pretension are pathetic.

As for the story and acting, I have a sneaky suspicion that maybe the sound was turned down on certain screens in post-production when actor's were fumbling or struggling for dialogue, I also thought the sound should have been muted from the other 3 screens while we were focused on one - because at times we get mumbling from all 4 at once, which doesn't work. But none of this detracts from a truly great achievement from all involved - for actors to go 93 minutes undisturbed is very impressive.

A perfectly constructed and co-ordinated film, I am in absolute awe. 10/10
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Purely Belter (2000)
The things you'd do for a season ticket
5 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
If only they'd had a computer, they could have sold the stolen St. James Park penalty spot on e-Bay. Oh well.

Alan Shearer pops up in a cameo - he should definitely stick to the day job - and subsequently has his car/"fanny magnet" stolen and his CD collection made public - including Celine Dion and "that slapper with the patch". All in good fun of course. Although I doubt Shearer drives a convertible Jag, but I could be wrong.


Other than that we get a sprinkling of various Geordie losers - a shaven-headed, multi-pierced, tattooed nose-biter with a crazed love of dogs, Gerry's mother who gets admitted to hospital after smoking 40-a-day (shared with the night-clubbing baby of course), his wife-beating father who dies while Gerry is in a prison cell for attempted bank robbery, and his drug-addict sister who lives in a fairground ride. So it ain't the cheeriest of tales, but I'm sure the director would claim it to be 'realistic' all the same.

Incidentally, Mark Herman brought us both 'Brassed Off' and 'The Little Voice' (both very impressive UK films), and I enjoyed those in very much the same way I enjoyed this. 7/10
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