7 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
The Return (2003)
A beautiful, breathtaking film.
18 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Andrei Zvyagintsev's debut feature film is nothing short of brilliant. Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, as well as numerous other awards, the film was a critical and commercial success.

The story involves two typical teenage brothers, Andrey (Vladimir Garin) and Ivan (Ivan Dobronravov), whose father (Konstantin Lavronenko) returns home abruptly after a twelve year absence. The father then takes the boys on an impromptu trip.

The films cinematography is astonishing, Mikhail Krichman pulling out all the stops to make this film look truly sublime. Furthermore, the musical accompaniment by Andrei Derachyov is subtle yet absolutely necessary. However, it is the performances of the two leads and their father that makes this film more than an eye and ear pleasing piece of art. Zvyagintsev brings out astonishing performances from the young duo which are likely to leave anyone transfixed to the screen until the end. An end both exciting and mournful.

The film will live on as one of the most brilliant cinematic achievements of the early 21st century. Watch, weep, then watch again.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dirty Harry (1971)
"Eastwood can do no wrong. Let's see the picture." Richard Nixon on 'Dirty Harry'
23 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Recently deceased Hunter S. Thompson claimed that Nixon lifted a policy against showing R-rated films in the White House theatre so that he could see Dirty Harry. (According to Dennis Bingham's book 'Acting Male') 'Dirty Harry' was one of many collaborations between director Don Siegel and star Clint Eastwood. Indeed, Harry Callahan bears numerous similarities with the character of Coogan from the Siegel/Eastwood offering 'Coogan's Bluff' (1968). The pair both get the 'dirty' jobs, and both go above and beyond the call of duty to get their man.

The first in five 'Dirty' Harry films opens with a roof top sniping. Eastwood is soon on the case, tracking down the mysterious and dangerous Scorpio, who wants money or else he'll kill again. The ransom isn't paid, and Scorpio continues killing and even kidnapping - crossing Harry more than once, and injuring him in the process. Harry catches up with Scorpio, beats him, and then Scorpio is let go because of police brutality; leading to the school bus kidnap and the now iconic shoot-out.

Harry can be seen as a reactionary figure, who disobeys all law to bring his own brand of justice to the streets. Indeed, it is strangely ironic that the counter-culture was a part of society Harry disliked and 'punished' (homosexuals, hippies etc) and yet they were part of the main fan base for the film. Harry presented the dichotomy of law enforcement figure, who was willing to bend the law to get justice. Something that appealed both to the likes of Nixon (although hardly the most law abiding citizen) and 'hippies'. And this aspect could be one reason for the films success.

Furthermore, police in the US invited both Eastwood and Siegel to speak at functions because of the film, reading the movie as one which contained a wholly pro-police force message.

Eastwood is brilliantly stoic and 'hard' as the iconic Harry, whilst Andy Robinson is delightfully manic as the rooftop killer and kidnapper Scorpio. There is also a brief but memorable cameo from Siegel and Dirty 'Harry' regular Albert Popwell (who appears in every 'Harry' film except 'The Dead Pool').

Pauline Kael famously dislikes the film, calling it fascist, which led to numerous other critics agreeing with this verdict. However, both 'Rolling Stone' and 'Time' film critic raved about the movie. 'Time' man Jay Cocks even named it on his top ten list for the year! I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and whilst I see the 'fascism' in the film, can easily rise above this and enjoy it for what it is. Ten out of ten.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Hugely enjoyable!
21 February 2005
First off, I'm not a big BIG 'Star Trek' fan. I've seen the first six films, and catch an episode of the TV series every now and then (I saw the whole first season recently, which made me re-visit the Shatner/Nimoy films). I did however, find this film extremely entertaining! In fact, it was about as much fun as I think you can have at home with a (tasteful) video! I found 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' a tad dull, although I still enjoyed it. And II and III work well together, and are both enjoyable sci-fi action flicks ('Wrath of Khan' is another classic, but I feel IV pips it to the post). However, when 'The Voyage Home' was over, I had no idea that a film with a plot which involved two humpback whales and mid-1980s San Fransico could be so damn fun.

Shatner is on great form as the rogue Capt. Kirk, and Nimoy is brilliant in conveying Spocks absolute confusion at being stuck on a planet he partly understands, in a time he cannot comprehend. When Kirk explains Spocks oddness to the brilliant and frankly underused actress Catherine Hicks, Kirk says that Spock did a lot of "LDS" back in college.

Kelley, Takei and company are all on fine form, and the score, direction and script all work brilliantly. The fact that the 1980s now seems so long ago (it after all, did not age as well as some decades) only adds to the films premise.

I would thoroughly recommend this film to anyone - 'Star Trek' fan or not - as it is a wonderfully entertaining film for all ages. I'm sure wherever Gene Roddenberry is, he looks back on this film venture with a wry smile and a bag of popcorn.
70 out of 103 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dark Star (1974)
One of my favourite films!
6 December 2004
John Carpenter's feature debut 'Dark Star' is an absolutely brilliant little curio, that'll make you laugh and laugh. I first saw the film on England's Channel 4 a few years back, and remember wondering what the hell I was watching. I quickly tracked down a copy and rewatched it to see if it was really THAT good...

The story involves a bunch of astronauts who have been in space for many years: they spend their time blowing up unstable planets and rocking out to surf music. During this time, an alien (that looks suspiciously like a beach ball) runs riot, and an unruly bomb threatens to blow everyone to smithereens.

'Alien' screenwriter Dan O'Bannon wrote 'Dark Star', and clearly borrowed from it for the 1979 Ridley Scott film - taking the hilarious beach-ball sequence and playing it out for tension rather than laughs. Also a big influence on the TV series 'Red Dwarf'.

Check it out if you're a fan of science fiction or a fan of John Carpenter. 10/10. An underrated classic.
89 out of 109 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Blow Out (1981)
One of Quentin Tarantino's Favourite Films
30 November 2004
This stands - alongside 'Carrie', 'Casualties of War' and 'Greetings' - as Brian De Palma's finest hour (about one hour forty actually). John Travolta stars as a film sound man working on a bunch of exploitative Roger Corman-esque pictues. His director and him are having difficulty finding a scream for one of the scenes, as well as sounds in general, and so Travolta is sent out to record some new ones...

When he is out he witnesses - and records - a car crashing in to a river. He rescues a girl from the wreckage, but leaves the male inside. It turns out he is a high profile politician, and the girl (Nancy Allen) is his little secret.

The plot takes twists and turns all the way from here, and features a stand-out performance from a quite frankly barking John Lithgow! Not to be missed for any fans of either Travolta, Allen or De Palma. I can see why it's one of Tarantino's favourite.

Top marks.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Sneakers (1992)
Brilliant from start to finish!
18 September 2004
When I first saw this film advertised on TV a few years back now, I remember thinking: "Why is this the first time I've heard of this movie?" I mean for one, the cast is absolutely amazing: Robert Redford, River Phoenix, Dan Ackroyd, Ben Kingsley, Sidney Poitier... even the voice of Darth Vader James Earl Jones crops up at the end. And coupled with that the film seemed to have a good plot. When I finished watching the film I couldn't believe it hadn't gotten any better press or coverage.

The film is about the lost friendship between Martin Bishop (Redford) and Cosmos (Kingsley). We learn in the first five minutes that they are computer hackers, and Kinsley's character was arrested years back. Bishop has got on with his life, running a business where he robs places "to see how unsafe their places are". Then the NSA pay him a visit, producing an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He has to recover a code breaking device so his record is wiped clean. But the box is more valuable then any of the 'sneakers' possibly imagine. And soon, everyone is trying to get their hands on it

Redford is consistently witty, Poitier plays an uptight ex-CIA agent with a sustained menace, and Phoenix, David Strathairn and Ackroyd all play social misfits with such glee that the film can't help but put a smile on your face. As well as this, Mary McDonnell plays the love interest for Redford brilliantly - indeed she becomes much more than a love interest when she gets involved with the teams operations: the scene where she dates a man as part of the sneaking is an absolute classic. The word 'passport' will never be the same again...

In all, I would strongly advise you to go rent or buy this film now! Phil Alden Robinson has crafted a superbly entertaining thriller, with a cracking cast!

Favourite line (as well as I remember): "I was gonna join the NSA, but they found out my parents weren't related." Favourite moment: THAT scene were McDonnell has to get Stephen Tobolowsky to say "passport".
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
THE film of the 1990's!
14 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Q: How many heist films start with the looters sat discussing the meaning of a pop song? Or the virtues of tipping at diners? A: One

'Reservoir Dogs' is not a standard heist movie. Whereas in most cases we would be confronted with elaborate planning, all manner of hi-tech gizmos, and a slight visit to the rendezvous (maybe five minutes screen time); we get a whole movie dedicated to the rendezvous... and not a gizmo to speak of.

A group of colour-coded crims get together to pull off a heist, and everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. One of them is a cop. Two die on the job. And another turns out to be a "stone cold psycho". In the inimitable words of Mr White (Harvey Keitel): "You can't work with a pyschopath, you never know what those sick assholes are gonna do next". Indeed, White's prognosis would be well followed, as we realize after the psycho - Mr Blonde - shows us what you can do with a straight razor and a policeman's ear.

The film boasts a steller cast. The favourites: Keitel, Buscemi and Tim Roth. The curios: Madsen, Penn and QT himself. And the old timers: Tierney and real life crook Ed Bunker. All give great performances, helped along by brilliant writing and assured direction. Indeed, the real star of the film is Quentin Tarantino: writer, director and movie geek superstar. He has gone on to make 'Pulp Fiction', 'Jackie Brown' and the 'Kill Bill' volumes. But for me, 'Reservoir Dogs' remains my favourite of his films.

Favourite line: "You gonna bark all day little doggie, or are you gonna bite?" Favourite moment: Mr Orange (Roth) telling the criminals/us his fictional commode story. That then becomes fact.

Watch and enjoy. And then watch all over again.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this