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5/10
Something For The Boys
7 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
As it turns out there are TWO male impersonators in this film, Pat Kirkwood and Laurence Harvet and neither is wholly convincing. The main selling point for me was a screenplay by Hubert Gregg who was, of course, married for a time to Pat Kirkwood, but for a writer of Gregg's calibre the screenplay is lacklustre at best. As was his wont Harvey managed yet again to snatch a suet pudding from the jaws of a soufflé and Kirkwood isn't far behind performing Tilley's signature songs as if immersed Houdini-like in a large tank of water. It's difficult to envisage this whole project conceived as anything other than a tax loss.
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7/10
Airport-lite
7 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Some fifteen years before Airport Michael Balcon offered this prototype the total cost of which wouldn't have paid Burt Lancaster's salary in the latter. At one level it's social history depicting a 'London Airport' still to become Heathrow where every plane if propeller driven and friends can practically kiss the travellers goodbye just before take-off. The semi-documentary style weaves several stories together - All Human Life Is There = from the crews and airport personnel to passengers but stops well short of any real drama. As a 'day in the life ... it makes easy-to-take entertainment.
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9/10
Found In The Multiplex - One Gem
5 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Let me begin by staing that Neil Simon's New York-Jewish humor is right down the rue of this English goy and I've seen a good ninety-five per cent of everything he's written on both stage and screen including Original Screenplays like The Out Of Towners. I also saw Lost In Yonkers in England though alas, Maureen Lipman was a pathetic substitute for Mercedes Ruehl who deserved ten Best Actress Oscars let alone being disgracefully overlooked. The early Simon - Come Blow Your Horn, Barefoot In The Park - was almost pure comedy, one one-liner after another but around the time of Chapter Two, with a major tragedy in his own life, he began injecting much more drama into his work and Lost In Yonkers a supreme example of comedy drama. Mercedes Ruehl is beyond brilliance while Irene Worth is merely brilliant and with class acts like this Louie could have been played by Jonathan Winters and still not spoiled it. A great, great movie.
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Second Act (2018)
7/10
No Second Acts In American Lives
1 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Reading the first page of reviews here on imdb it would appear that this title really split the voters. To me it was just what it said on the tin, entertaining, undemanding, well acted, well shot. What more do you want realistically? Theoretically going to this type of movies implies a bargain between you and the Multiplex; just as you check your weapons at the door in a Western so you suspend your disbelief at the cashier's window in a romcom. Once you've done that and made a mental commitment to relax you're free to let the movie wash over you. If you're going to watch Othello you go with a different mind-set. It's not rocket science.
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8/10
Pitch Perfect
13 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I've been aware of this movie since it was released but I have an aversion to acting jokes like Keira Knightly and, to the best of my knowledge there was nothing and/or no one in the film that would offset her so more or less ignored it until, surfing the channels I came upon it as it was just starting. I began to watch it and found it unpretentious and charming in a low-key way and Knightly was unable to ruin it. Okay, it was Scripting By Numbers and it wheeled out just about every cliché in the book but it was undemanding and easy to like.
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Boy Erased (2018)
5/10
Now You See Him
11 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard to know who would be the best person to discuss this film - is it someone like me who had never heard of it and, by definition knew nothing about it, or would it be preferable to approach someone who inhabits the memi-monde, someone who may have even been in a program like the one depicted here. Swings and roundabouts probably. In my case I was at a loose end on Saturday night so I drove to a Multiplex with no idea what was playing and asked if there was anything about to be screened. The cashier consulted the time table and said that Boy Erased would be showing in ten minutes. I'd never heard of it, certainly not seen any reviews. All the cashier knew was that it starred Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe so I figured it would probably be half-decent. It didn't take long to discover it was set in the Jurassic Age or, to put it another way it was set in an America where people believe seriously that homosexuality in teenagers can be cured by Aversion Therapy. I don't know if Nicole Kidman and/or Russell Crowe subscribe to this belief but they did lend their names to the film and received star billing although their roles as the parents of a teenage son who has been 'outed' and shipped to a sort of cross between boot camp and military college are peripheral and the film - based on a true account, written by a man who attended a Q and A with his real mother - is little more than a record of the time he spent there. There were about three other people in the cinema, a major multiplex on a Saturday night. All the technical credits - writing, directing, acting, were up to snuff but its only audience may well be the LBGT supporters.
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7/10
Forging A Bond
4 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
A quirky, offbeat entry that ticks all the boxes and adds up to an entertainin movie. Not for the first time and clearly not for the last aa anctor hitherto known for comedy has demonstrated a deft dramatic touch. Jack Lemon is arguably the doyen of this group and if MvcCarthy lacks both Lemons' comedic and dramatic chops she is still no slouch in either department and certainly deserves ang gong coming her way of for which she is merely nominated. It's difficult (in my case) to understand all the acclaim that has been lavished on Richard E. Grant's supporting performance. This is not to say it's chopped liver but merely competent.
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7/10
Shadow Play
26 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Although I haven't seen the play (Murder Mistaken) on which this film was based it is firmly in the tradition of English stage works of the period and I'm ready to bet the farm that on the stage the actress playing the murdered wife also got to play her sister - conveniently living abroad. Lewis Gilbert employs two different actresses here, Mona Washbourne and Kay Walsh but there is also a third actress in the shape of Margaret Lockwood who, as the murdering husband, Dirk Bogarde, discovers to his chagrin, is nobody's fool least of all his. It's well made, well acted and as hokum goes fairly enjoyable and a cut above the usual Danny Angel fare.
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Green Book (2018)
8/10
Driving Mister Daisy
25 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Like the man said you got seven basic plots; you get to plot eight you're back to one with maybe a little backspin. Back in 1987 Alfred Uhry wrote a Pulitzer prize-winning play called Driving Miss Daisy, it was a fine play and, when subsequently adapted for the screen, an equally fine film. Set in Atlanta, Ga, it featured a Black man working as a chauffeur to a White Jewish lady. Green Book features a White Italian-American chauffeuring a Black man through the Deep South. Similar stories, right? Well, maybe. Miss Daisy actually lived in Atlanta while Dr Shirley was merely touring whilst playing a series of one-night concerts. Actually the film is about two disparate individuals, chalk and cheese, initially antagonistic who learn to respect, admire, and bond with each other - now that IS a new plot. This is an exceptionally fine film boasting two exceptional performances and a fine supporting cast. Bring on the dvd.
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Colette (I) (2018)
5/10
Have I The Write
19 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Every so often I'm faced, as a regular filmgoer, with a dilemma when a writer, director, or performer for whom I have no respect as an artist, becomes involved in a project that captures my interest. In this instance the stumbling-block is acting joke Keira Knightly who is appearing as Colette, a French writer of the early twentieth century about whom I know too little. Accordingly I opted to endure rather than enjoy Knightly but alas I got the worst of it as all I - or indeed anyone learned about Colette is that she was a country girl who married an older control freak who enjoyed a reputation as a writer based on his knack of running a stable of writers prepared to let him take the credit for their talent. Such plot as there is centers on Colette's resentment of her literary gifts being credited to her husband and rebelling successfully against this. Normally solid mahogany Knighty approaches walnut here but ultimately wood is wood.
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La villa (2017)
8/10
Show-House
19 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Although I wasn't around it is, I suppose, reasonable to speculate that back in the nineteen thirties keen filmgoers looked forward to a new film from Marcel Pagnol one, more than likely featuring one of his regular players, Raimu, Fernandel, Charpin and set in the Midi. True or not I have learned to look forward to a new film from Robert Guidguian, who also has something of a repertory company in the shape of his wife, Ariane Ariscaride and leading men Jean-Pierre Darrousin and Gerard Meylan and likely as not set in and/or around Marseilles,, the hometown of both director and actress. He was back in 2017 with The House By The Sea which has just opened here and it is well up to snuff with a definite Chekovian feel in the melancholic tale of three siblings caring for a widowed father who can no longer take care of himself. As with Chekov there are supplementary characters, the elderly neighbors, their attentive son, the much younger girlfriend of one of the two brothers. All excel. As he often does Guideguian injects a Left-wing philosophy which makes him a sort of Ken Loach but with talent instead of attitude. In sum another fine film from a gifted film maker.
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The Favourite (2018)
6/10
Turf War
15 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Given that the producers have seen fit to evoke what we might - in view of the content - paraphrase as the Sport of Kinks in their title they have laid themselves open to other sporting terms such as the supporting cast is 6-4 against getting a look-in at gong time in what is clearly a three-horse race. The three principals are, in fact, excellent and contrive to pass the post locked together in a photo finish following a lavish steeplechase lushly framed against a backdrop of Hatfield House and one tasty visual after another. The story - allegedly true - fits the truth where it touches but the likelihood of anyone outside an Academic noticing and/or caring is roughlt 100-6.
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Le grand bain (2018)
7/10
Pooling Resources
11 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
For reasons best known to himself Gilles Lellouche opted not to act in this film and contented himself with directing - his friend Guillaume Canet, for example can and often does perform both functions - but it is unlikely that this excellent film would have been enhanced had he actually taken part. The cast is exceptionally strong in both male and female actors and what appeals is that no one - not Virginie Efira, Melanie Doutey, Marinas Fois, Matthieu Amlaric, Benoit Poolevarde - is particularly well known outside France but all have secure places in the domestic industry. The story is slight, a tad offbeat but ultimately both entertaining and satisfying.
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Stan & Ollie (2018)
8/10
Life Of Reilly
11 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
A timely reminder of what REAL comedy duos are all about for those like me who could only gag in bafflement that acts beyond atrocious like Little And Large, Canon And Ball etc ever got past a Working Men's Club in Nelson And Colne. Even in the twilight of their careers Laurel and Hardy could still wipe the floor with the opposition - two of whom, the abject Abbott & Costello and equally dire Norman Wisdom are featured/mentioned during their fleeting moment in the sun. The strict accuracy of the storyline has been called into question but overall it failed to impair what remains a fine film. As a person I find Steve Coogan an arrogant narcissist so full of himself to be on the verge of giving birth but twice now - in Philomena, by the same writer, and now here - I have seen him give a half decent performance. Everyone involved aquits themselves well and it should certainly hold up to a second viewing
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7/10
The Chipping Version
30 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
As a Rattigan completist I had to see and eventually own this title. Michael Redgrave as the headmaster is, of course, a priceless bonus - for me he was the definitive Crocker-Harris in Puffin Asquith's adaptation of The Browning Version and Rattigan must have had fun with several nods to the former, not least the final speech to the boys when Chips announces his imminent departure. Leslie Bricusse turns in arguable his worst ever score yet these are truly 'show tunes' inasmuch as they are meaningless if you have not seen the film. I have to agree with everyone that Peter O'Toole is excellent in the lead whilst Petula Clark is not as bad as she might have been. Although I now own it it will be some time before I return to it.
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8/10
Two-Faced Woman? You've Got To Be Kidding
25 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Viewed today you could argue that this film is fairly simplistic but in 1957 it was probably impressive not least the acting by Joanne Woodward who unashamedly snatches what is a gift role for an actress with both hands and extracts the last ounce of juice out of it. On the other hand Lee J. Cobb is equally impressive unobtrusively in the far less showier role of the psychiatrist initially bemused an then fascinated by multiple personality. In fact Nunnally Johnson - a Georgian himself, as was the real-life Eve and indeed Joanne Woodward - coaxes excellent performances out of virtually all the performers and the film stands up well overall.
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Creed II (2018)
5/10
Black Russian
21 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is precisely what it says on the tin. In other words if you've plowed through all of the 'Rocky' franchise plus the first Creed and have been entertained then you won't be disappointed by this sequel. All the 'Rockys' are made to high professional standards and offer glossy violence and this is no exception and if the ending is predictable from Outer Mongolia so what.
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Disobedience (2017)
5/10
Tora! Torah! Torah!
3 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Rachel Weiss - the only 'name' in the film - is anathema to me. Having agreed to appear in the travesty that was the remake of The Deep Blue Sea she weighed in with the worst reading of the lead character ever (and this is a female role comparable to Blanche in 'Streetcar' i.e. every actress has had a crack at it) so is more or less off my personal radar. However; I actually live - one of a handful of goys - in the area where the story is set and adjacent to where it was shot, with a shul on every corner and a mezuzah on every door. What I learned is that this is a matriarchal society who can only see a joke by appointment and are quite happy to live under self-imposed Draconian rules. It reminded me of nothing so much as a group of boys at a Public school who form a 'secret' society and take themselves unbelievably seriously (see: Les Disparus de St Agile). The film is very intense with four-fifths played in total silence and though it's difficult to fault the acting the overall feeling is why bother.
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2/10
The Spirit Is Unwilling
19 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The only remotely possible reason to watch this car crash is Ava Gardner marking her sixteenth appearance before the cameras and her very first screen credit - and even then she would make more Uncredited appearances. In 1943 'haunted house' movies were thick on the ground and the producers at Poverty Row clearly decided they could afford to lavish a stick of gum on the budget - it's just as well they didn't sign Gale Sondergaard as her ubiquitous 'sinister' housekeeper or they'd have been in the rad before the cameras started turning. If you ARE thinking of checking it out for a glimpse of Gardner don't bother because a glimpse is all you'll get and as for Bela Lugosi ...

Alll this is good for is tossing in a landfill.
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8/10
Romy Wasn't Spilt In A Day
19 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This, alas, is the kind of film that receives only a token showing in England when the quality on display deserves blanket release. On the other hand we must learn to be thankful for small mercies and at least it has actually played in the UK. I am a regular filmgoer and if it were possible I would watch many many more 'art house' films than multiplex fodder, alas, the ratio is stacked the other way. Prior to watching Three Days In Quiburon I was unable to name anyone in front of or behind the camera with the obvious exception of Romy Schneider herself who does not, of course, appear onther than in the brilliant incarnation of Marie Baumer who gives a performance that is BEYOND Oscar worthy which probably means she will be overlooked even for a nomination but it is both fair and true to say that everyone involved, especially the four leads are exceptional. Miss it at your loss.
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Widows (2018)
6/10
Black Widow
12 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Frankly I'll pay to see Viola Davis in anything and so far she hasn't let me down. I can't say the same for Steve McQueen, I find directors who get a rep as critics darlings are often overrated and in danger of getting taken up by the Academic-Pseud axis. In spite of these misgivings I did, against my better instincts check out 12 Years A Slave and wasted time I can never get back. Widows, however, is light on pretention and heavy on entertainment - my wife, notoriously hard to please - pronounced it brilliant and while I wouldn't go that far it was easy to take and Davis, as one would expect, carried it expertly.
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3/10
Nutcreaker
3 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Despite knowing that Keira Knightly is to acting what Jeremy Corbyn is to Grand Opera I ponied up at the Box Office having failed to make even a cursory check and so under the impression that if nothing else my ears would be in for a treat via the ballet music. Boy, did I get a wrong number. What I did get - during the time I wasn't actually asleep was a fakokta from which Disney may well never recover. Appalling, atrocious - and that's only the A's. Luckily I wasted less than two hours which I'll still never get back.
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Orpheus (1950)
7/10
Lyre's Poker
28 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
In 1950 'Opticals' aka as 'trick photography' were I their infancy and chi wasn't even a gleam in Pixar's eye so if nothing else Cocteau is to be applauded for a visually stunning movie if nothing else. But there is, of course, something else, and lots of it. In Cocteau's world a myth is as good as a mile and here he takes the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus and puts enough spin on it to bring even top-of-the-line washing machines to their knees. Okay, so his lifetime lover makes Alan Lake look competent but Francis Perrier can act well enough for both of them. Let's face it, it really IS a must-see.
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The Keys To The soundstageNelson Keys
21 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Nelson Keys enjoyed a fairly successful career in the theatre between the wars while his four sons wound up in the movie business three of them on this very title, Basil as Assistant Director, Anthony Nelson as producer,whilst the director was John Paddy Carstairs who actually changed his name to avoid charges of nepotism (the fourth son, Rod Nelson Keys, was a film editor). Carstairs was a solid journeyman and helmed dozens of B pictures in a fairly pedestrian career. This title finds a young, lacklustre Dickie Attenborough walking through a potboiler alongside his wife, Sheila Sim, whose insipid performance shows why she chose early retirement. The proceedings are littered with second-eleven thesps working, presumably, for a stick of gum, led by a badly miscast Barry Jones and including Garry Marsh, Danny Greene and Diana Dors. Oxford Street an alley in Accrington, a thriving Palais-de-Danse is located in a back street and Attenborough wears gauntlets to drive a taxi. Like the man said, they don't make them like that any more.
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42 (2013)
9/10
Field Of Bad Dreams
20 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I write as someone born and bred in the UK who has never seen a live game of baseball even on tv but who loves the baseball played in the thirties, forties, and fifties, who has read many books on baseball in that period including arguably the greatest title of all Roger Kahn's The Boys Of Summer which features what became known as The Jackie Robinson Dodgers both in the 1951 season, when Kahn travelled with the team as a journalist and filed reports on every game, and, in the second half of the book, interviewed the iconic players - Preacher Roe, Duke Sneider, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, George Shuba, Gil Hodges etc - some twenty years later. By then, of course, Robinson was both loved and respected and his life was light years away from that depicted here - although Kahn has covered those early years elsewhere. It's not easy for me to find shortcomings as some - presumably US citizens - have done here, because I am so grateful to have access to a great movie like this - even then I had to buy it in Paris and with French subtitles. To me it was brilliant and I enjoyed the fact that I knew so many of the real people who weren't fully introduced - Red Barber, Happy Chandler - etc. I'm glad to own it and place it alongside Eight Men Out in my dvd collection, two fine films of great events in baseball.
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