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Very political, very ethnic, very obvious
10 August 2019
This is a curdled film. It's heavy politicalised and very ethnic but celebrates the music of Bruce Springsteen. I'm not sure the crossover audience for these subjects is all that large. And while it mostly tries to be an earthy social drama there are brief sequences of musical fantasia a la Rocketman; they jar madly, and are really quite toe-curling.

It's virulently anti-Thatcher, sometimes hilariously so: there's a shot of the lead actor after a bruising NF rally, then he exits the shot and we're left with the sight of a poster for the Tory party with a picture of Mrs Thatcher and the words 'Conservatives: Uniting Britain'. This is pitiful political posturing; I actually burst out laughing. Firstly, the Conservatives never produced that poster. Secondly, why would they? Thirdly, it's just so brain-hammeringly obvious what the filmmakers are trying to do here. Their bias is literally laughable. There's another scene where the lead visits his new white English girlfriend whose parents are of course evil Tories and they actually have a poster in their window which has the words 'Margaret Thatcher' on it. Why would anyone have this in their window, especially when it's not election time?! This is visual storytelling at its most painfully amateurish, in thrall to student, Corbynista politics. (There's another, later scene with a multitude of newspaper headlines in the background that is so cretinous it takes the breath away.)

Of course, because it ticks the right boxes - ethnic, leftish, a low-budget Brit film - the critics have largely given it an easy ride, but this isn't a good film. It's too long. The acting is weak, the scripting more so. It isn't funny - AT ALL.

There are all sorts of anachronisms, musically and otherwise. The right-on girl tells her parents: 'Nobody says coloured any more' but, um, yes they did, in 1987. It wasn't till many years later that that our liberal masters told us that that was a COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE term (whereas the totally and utterly and completely different term 'people of colour' was completely acceptable).

It's the politics that really betray where the film's heart lies. Most of the whites in the film are villains, most of the non-whites are goodies. The film tells us that the Muslim's family is suffering oh such hard times because of nasty Thatch. I can assure the writer that the family would have had a vastly, VASTLY worse standard of living, vastly less freedom and witnessed a good deal more violence had his father not been allowed to come to England and stayed in Pakistan; the opportunities to better oneself in that country are not comparable to in Britain. And as for Luton. Well, just go there today and stay if you can in some of the Islamist neighbourhoods and see how welcome you feel. Although the opposition to Pakistani immigration into Luton was often crude and crass, the native people knew deep down that this was not something benign, it wasn't something that went along with their ideas of how life should be. That Luton is now a hotbed of Islamic extremism isn't addressed in the movie, naturally.

You can see why this film got funding - it ticks all the right diversity boxes. But blimey, it's a stinker: its template is incredibly well worn and yet the dramatics it presses upon this template are deeply unexciting. And one final, teasing question: is Bruce Springsteen actually all that good, apart from his obvious classics?
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Pavarotti (2019)
Good apart from Bono
22 July 2019
So me and the opera crowd were sitting there enjoying this positive - perhaps too positive - biopic when up pops Bono.

Sigh. Here's the sweary luvvie Irishman, swearing away, paying tribute YET AGAIN to someone from the world of showbusiness. It really jars. This is just like in Ron Howard's Beatles movie when Whoopi Goldberg comes on. Why does he do it? It's like he thinks, 'Let's bring someone discordant on to swear a bit, that'll do it'.

What have we done to deserve Bono? Can't he just go away forever?

Anyway, film is a decent watch. You can't help but grin along with Luciano.

Pity Gazza isn't in it, though.
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Rising Damp: That's My Boy (1977)
Season 3, Episode 1
In answer to Prismark10
3 March 2019
The episode isn't silly: the reason Rigsby thought Miss Jones might be the mother was because SHE had been away for many months, ostensibly to get married. Frances de la Tour had taken a break from the show midway through the second series. So it actually makes complete sense and is very funny too.
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Westworld (2016– )
Well made but deeply dislikeable
5 February 2019
I've watched the first season of Westworld: I have no desire to watch the second.

It's what I'd call a 'feelbad' show. It takes a very bleak view of humanity. I love the original film though I'm biased in favour of 1970s pop culture and somewhat anti what we have nowadays, but it's such a dark show there's very little chance of feeling any affection towards it.

This Westworld features nary a single likeable character and is overwhelmingly nihilistic, unpleasantly violent (I don't have a problem with violence on screen but it goes out of its way to make every violent incident really nasty), relentlessly foul-mouthed (much of the dialogue is deeply crude) and about as far from 'fun' as could be. It is implausible, to put it mildly, and deeply pretentious.

Slow and massively verbose, it tells a multi-character story that elicits little sympathy. And it's all as PC as you'd expect nowadays: at least three of the female characters are basically male. The Thandie Newton character, presumably because she's a woman AND a bit black, is like some sort of superhero: she's far wiser, more charismatic, stronger and more able than any of the puny males here. Many of the males are quislings, cowards, vain, motivated by base motives etc.

Two of the actors have expressions that never change - Leonardo Nam (anxious) and Evan Rachel Wood (a little downcast; confused about her life). Angela Sarafyan treads a fine line between looking beautiful and possessing a sort of down syndrome chic. Anthony Hopkins at least doesn't phone his performance in like he has many times in the past, but his crinkled face quarter-smile irks a little. At least he isn't as flat-out foul and depressingly nasty as Ptolemy Slocum's character, who brings down every scene he's in. And I can see why Ed Harris wears that hat.

Westworld is nasty, gloomy, grim stuff, whose underlying message is that people are horrible (especially white males), that life is brutish and unsatisfying, that people manipulate other people all the time, that rich people are especially awful, that there is no such thing as 'real' pleasure. I can't think of a show with a worse message to send out concerning the human race.
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Interesting but somewhat biased
20 January 2019
Anyone coming to this intriguing documentary should be aware that it has a big agenda: it's very much from a socialist viewpoint, and most of its contributors are from an artistic background.

There's nothing necessarily wrong with this of course, but it does mean that we don't get a complete portrait of Basildon or of its origins. Its origins were in the post-war era, and all we get of the thinking behind it is Jim Broadbent voicing MP Lewis Silkin's speeches of the time - he was partly responsible for town planning in the 1945 Labour government. There are no architects interviewed, virtually no one of a pro-free market disposition and barely any 'ordinary' families, who constitute the majority of Basildon's population.

Mrs Thatcher comes under attack, predictably. Council house sales are blamed for destroying community cohesion and disadvantaging the poor. There are various problems with this outlook: firstly, the people in those now ex-council houses continued to live there, by and large, so why would that change the neighbourhood? If not enough council houses were built after that, that was a separate problem, not the fault of council house sales (something that empowered people and made them feel a greater sense of personal responsibility). The film does not look at other reasons why communities might have fragmented and have 'kids not playing in the streets any more', which could include: warmer, more comfortable houses; greater technology that in many cases - the internet, the iPhone, videogames - encourage people to stay inside more; high immigration (although Basildon has largely escaped this phenomenon - indeed, the town has been a recipient of some of the 'white flight' from London); more travelling, which comes with greater wealth.

Some of the people interviewed have good points, some are moaning minnies (as Mrs T might have said). A few are real gloom buckets, but your words can sound especially gloomy when played alongside mournful music and shots of run down shopping centres and factories (again, there are no other suggestions for why this has happened, how the internet has made us do more of our shopping online, or how globalisation has seen some factory work go abroad, because markets there are greatly developing).

Many artists have an unrealistic idea of their importance in the real world; that is illustrated here. Art is vitally important, of course - it helps us realise we are not alone in our human suffering - but aspects of commerce are far more important in most people's daily lives.

It is capitalism that makes it vastly more likely that there will be a more vibrant arts scene, because as wealth grows (which it tends to do under capitalism) people have more money, and usually more time, to spend on leisure activities, things that are not 'essential' for everyday survival. It is socialist societies that have far less in the way of culture and colourful art. I imagine those living in Soviet tower blocks for most of their existence would look with envy to places like Basildon. Artists are far more likely to thrive in a capitalist land rather than a socialist one, but many seem not to realise that.

New Town Utopia does feature some good photography - parts of it are reminiscent of Patrick Keiller's 'Robinson' trilogy - and I have no doubt that, like Keiller's films, it will gain a period charm in the future. But like Keiller's work it is also somewhat narrow-minded, overly leftist in its diagnosis of Britain's problems, and too pessimistic.

Still, it's a thought-provoking watch.
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Doctor Who (2005– )
The manual on how to write Doctor Who in the Chris Chibnall era
2 January 2019
1 Make sure virtually all relationships between humans are multi racial. In the real world this is statistically more unlikely than likely but in the Who universe it is the golden rule.

2 Even if it has absolutely nothing to do with the plot, have a character indicate they are gay. This is to show how 'woke' you are, and of course annoy all those millions of people who are knuckle-dragging bigots. Because your mission is to annoy rather than provide escapist entertainment. (Never mind that you will annoy people who aren't bigots but are just fed up of the show's virtue-signalling - in fact that's actually a plus, because those people are clearly Nazis too because they don't 100% share the 'progressive' politics of the enlightened metropolitan liberals who write the show.)

3 Cast a woman in the lead and then script that lead part as if it could be anyone, without a single reference to femininity. In fact, the only way the lead will now be distinguished from a man is that she will make fiery speeches that indicate that 'hey, just because she's a woman doesn't mean she can't make fiery speeches that will frighten the life out of any invading aliens'. Also have her complain about the treatment of women throughout the ages, ignoring the fact that until very recent times EVERYONE'S lives were grim, brutish and short, including men's.

4 Have virtually every monster more of a victim rather than actually evil because in the 21st century we shouldn't look down on any culture as to being inferior to our own (even if they demonstrably are, with regards to women's and minority rights, for instance, or religious freedoms). The monster or villain might even have been created by nasty capitalism (when it wasn't enriching the lives of billions throughout the world) or nasty white men. This will mean that your script is dramatically flaccid, boring and devoid of suspense but this does not matter: it's only ideology that matters, boyo (sorry, girlo).

5 Fill your cast with as many non-white people as possible. This is in spite of the fact that the vast majority of huge parts of the UK (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the South-West, the North-East etc) are overwhelmingly white. It's diversity, innit?

6 Put women in as many 'strong' roles as possible. In fact, make them much wiser, more courageous, more resourceful and more emotionally stable than any males in the cast. It is in no way true that it can be the other way round in reality - EVER.

7 Tackle historical incidents of obvious injustice, like in 'Rosa'. But don't tackle incidents that are equally as unjust if they don't fit with your liberal left slant. So on no account write about the grinding poverty of communist Cuba, or the evils of the old East Germany, or the grotesqueness of 'honour killing' or punishment for 'blasphemers' in certain religions.

7 Generally write awful scripts with regular characters who have zero character arcs (like Yaz), have other characters who have such bland personalities as to be laughable (the other two 'friends'), have no through-running mystery to intrigue or entice, hastily wrap up your climaxes with stupid jargon, create the grand total of zero good new monsters, have several scenes that are like something out of EastEnders, and generally make your viewer wish they were doing something more fun, like ironing their face.

8 You are now ready to write your first Doctor Who script! Congratulations, don't spend all of the licence fee payers' money at once.
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Doctor Who: Resolution (2019)
Season 11, Episode 11
More painful than being exterminated
1 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Chris Chibnall really does hate straight white males doesn't he? He certainly hates whites (when set against non-whites) and men (when set against women) and straights (when set against gays). I hope to god he never has a child to fill full of his bigotry and anti-prejudice prejudice.

Resolution was about as bad as the rest of this appalling series. A grandiose rewrite of the classic 'Dalek' from the Eccleston season, besides being as achingly PC as usual (and therefore unrepresentative of the vast majority of people who watch it) it was incredibly badly paced, frequently stopping for anguished dialogue scenes that might have come from EastEnders, non-scary and non-dramatic. Is anyone getting as irritated as me by Whitaker's one-note performance? Especially grating is when she does her 'I am woman, hear my roar' stuff to the monster of the episode. Enemies used to have to be out-thought to death, now they just have to be feminazied to death.

Also: what is the point of Yaz? Why does Tosin Cole's voice sound so stilted? Why have such a limited actor as Bradley Walsh? How did someone so immersed in mediocrity as Chibnall get the job as showrunner? Tell you what I'd like to see: some of the fans unhappy with his miserable reign tearing strips out of him in a TV studio like his young nerdy self did with the show's creators back in the 1980s. But I think we may have a long wait. For starters he'll probably be off on an anti-Brexit, pro-transgender, anti-borders march so be too busy.
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Smith as a Smiths fan
29 July 2018
A teenage girl with a mentally ill mother finds some solace in the music of The Smiths.

This low budget British film is an uncomfortable watch, a less than successful marriage of human tragedy and awkward comedy - that the swearing sticks out is in part proof its failure. But it's more the fact that not a single element of it is convincing, from the Seventies/Eighties setting to the behaviour of most of its characters (including two unlikely romances) to the girl and her mother's 'obsession' with The Smiths - it really doesn't help that they only got the rights to just two of their songs (This Charming Man and What Difference Does It Make?).

(At this point in my original review I made an inaccurate claim about a scene in the film and the director has rightly taken me to task for it (see elsewhere on this page). I apologise for that and he is completely correct in what he says - as a huge Mozza fan I should have known - although I maintain that the film should have signalled that at this point Morrissey had gone solo.

Jo Brand wrote it, based on her novel, and has a small part as a shopkeeper. And finally, I wonder how many of the reviews on this page are written by those with some connection to the movie?
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Got It Made (1974)
The most Norwich-centric film ever made!
6 July 2017
Anyone after vivid location footage of Norwich and Norfolk in 1974 is advised to seek this film out, as there are plenty. It all looks rather lovely and quintessentially English. There are also some nice shots of west London, in particular the Westway, which is at one point shot at night, the vehicles speeding through bluey-blackness to... who knows where?

Get It Made is a curious effort, moving at a leisurely pace and rarely very dramatic, which probably had little wide general appeal at the time. That may explain its descent into obscurity. There are long, dawdling shots of streets, waterways and buildings punctuating the story of an upper-class girl who is soon to be married but doesn't love her husband-to-be. She hangs out with an American guitarist as well as her sexually liberated Scandinavian friend Anna and begins to realise there is more to life.

Interestingly, the next film the director made after this was the erotic horror film Expose, with Fiona Richmond, and there are hints of eroticism here too. Lalla Ward briefly gets topless in the dark but it's the gorgeous Katya Wyeth who provides brief full frontal nudity in a memorable sequence where she simply answers the phone. '74 I do adore.

Some will find this film boring, and it is slight and a little pretentious perhaps, but there's intelligence behind it, and it provides rewards for 1970s nostalgists, Norwich-heads and Katya fans. Very very hard to see now, I somehow have it on DVD and wouldn't readily part with it.
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Suntan (2016)
A humanistic triumph
20 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
An unhappy middle-aged doctor is posted to a Greek island where he meets a hedonistic group of young people, one of which, a beautiful, liberated girl, he falls for.

This is the kind of film that puritanical, emotionally stunted Hollywood - and probably even the rest of increasingly Islamified Western Europe - is not capable of making nowadays. It's a searingly human drama about unrequited love, the consequences of ageing, and the depths to which a human can sink when failure and rejection become commonplace. It's brave, bold and beautiful.

Casually erotic (the actress who plays the frequently nude Anna could be described as cinematic Viagra), superbly acted by the lead (his character has to plummet to depths that are excruciating to watch) and unnervingly accurate in whatever scene it turns its eye to, it dares to tell a story that is as dark as we all are beneath our exteriors. And it triumphs.

The outraged person who gives this film 1/10 on this site hilariously appears not to have even seen it as they get a major plot point completely wrong.
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Impressive evisceration of Labour PM
4 August 2016
Thought it'd be good to give another view on this as I suspect the only other reviewer of this title on this page at the moment hasn't actually seen it, and just has an axe to grind.

I'm no fan of Galloway but he's made a decent film here. It certainly isn't guilty of having 'no structure', and I'd say Galloway is better at this sort of thing than the disingenuous and dishonest Michael Moore.

Galloway eviscerates Blair, pretty much every aspect of his premiership (he believes his only two successes were the minimum wage and the Northern Ireland peace process); such complete takedowns of one politician are quite rare. While there is a great deal of focus on Blair's engagement in the Middle East (his wars, followed by his risible role as a 'peace envoy'), there's also much on the astonishing amounts of money Blair has made. He apparently has around 30 UK properties alone and could be worth £100 million. His other misdemeanours, like the Formula One sponsorship scandal, don't go un-noted.

Seeing Blair in full flow takes people like me right back; the mannerisms, the verb-less sentences, the doe eyes, the halting delivery, the cheesy grin... what a chap!

While I personally disagree with some of Galloway's conclusions - that, for instance, the terrorist attacks we now see in Europe are entirely due to Bush and Blair, or that he 'destroyed' the Labour Party (he won them three elections!) - he's made an entertaining documentary that is not without historical value. Made with professionalism, wittily edited and with plenty of historical footage and an impressive array of talking heads, this a good watch for anyone interested in British politics.
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Dusty artefact
4 August 2016
After years of searching I finally got to see this title! (Ask me how.) And since there are no reviews of it up here, well, I just HAD to write one.

It's not a good film. Of course. It's similar to 1972's Clinic Xclusive (aka Sex Clinic) and has much in common with other British sex comedies of the period. Two frustrated wives (which was used as an alternate title, possibly to persuade people that this wasn't a notorious film involving farmyard animals) head off to a health farm to get away from their dreadful husbands. Neither of them are especially pretty but their bods make up for it - one suspects they were cast for their chests.

The film was for a while refused a certificate by the BBFC (outside London) for excessive sexual content, but it doesn't seem excessive nowadays (although I should add that the copy I watched had two or three obvious cuts - I suspect a couple of minutes of sexy time was edited out, annoyingly). What will instead stagger any millennials/snowflake generation types watching now (unlikely, I know) is the sexual politics. Their jaws will hit the floor as they see molesting and sexual harassment treated like a joke. Tut tut, they will say, it's no wonder the likes of Jimmy Savile got away with what he did when the cultural climate was like this (the issue is vastly more complex than this but I'm not going into that now). Some women are not treated well in this film.

What also takes the breath away is some OAP sex - some lady, who must be nearly 70, has a topless snog with a guy probably in his 40s. It's not that nice to watch. There's also some inter-racial lesbian fun, which may have raised eyebrows at the time.

The most titillating sequence is one near the end where a husband's bit on the side gets fully naked. The camera homes in on her naked crotch as she goes to put her knickers on. It's a rare bit of pubic hair in the flick.

But Sex Farm isn't a good movie, it's pretty dull and vacant with little in the way of wit or incident. It's easy to see why it resides in obscurity (and that title probably didn't help). Seek it out if you must but don't expect much.
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Doctor Who (2005– )
Season eight half-time report
30 September 2014
I'm writing this after watching The Caretaker, episode six in the twelve-part series eight. And what an atrocious series it's been so far.

I speak as a (40-something) lifelong Doctor Who fan. So why the ire? Many reasons. It's not necessarily because of Peter Capaldi, who may be a decent actor. But one problem IS the character of the Doctor, which is all over the place. One example: in Into The Dalek he takes coldly logical decisions, including ensuring a colleague dies; the actions of a level-headed military commander. And yet he now appears to hate soldiers. Huh? How do they square that one? (I'll reveal how they do later.)

Worst of all, character-wise, he's now an idiot, a fool, someone who gets it wrong, as in Robot Of Sherwood. A darker side was hinted early on but more often they just make him look silly and out of step. His companion, or whatever the PC term now is, Clara, is now the wise one, the dynamic one, the one who does brave stuff. Clara was actually quite likable in the last series but is now deeply irritating: Jenna Coleman's mannered, twitchy, doe-eyed performance is enough to make you wish your toenails were being pulled out. Acting-wise, though, she's nowhere near as bad as Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink, an actor with roughly the same versatility and range as a park bench, unable to show more than one emotion, no matter what he is faced with.

And the two together: forgive me for yawning when I'm not vomiting. Their sub-Coupling romance is not only totally unconvincing but utterly boring. Yes Mr Moffat, you're oh so clever with your snarky dialogue ticks and the use of the word 'stuff', but do you really think the kids are into all this talky, tedious stuff that belongs 1,000 miles away from Doctor Who? And having characters continually tell one another to 'shut up' is not only lazy writing but grating and unpleasant to hear.

I also hate the way the Doctor and Clara aren't properly travelling together, and the way he comes to the school or her flat and picks her up occasionally - if there's anything that'll remove any sense of wonder from the show this is it.

Other problems? Well how about the basic stories? Deep Breath was indigestible stodge; Into The Dalek feeble fan fiction; Robot Of Sherwood had people getting locked up, shouting at each other and then saving the day in an absurd way; Listen was portentous and made no sense; Time Heist was a joyless heist caper; The Caretaker was like a cross between The Sarah Jane Adventures and a bad episode of Coupling, a boring, verbose, parochial smudge of an episode.

A major issue is that the show is so full of itself. Bolstered by a wildly successful 50th anniversary episode, it now believes its own publicity. It sniggers to itself, it binge-eats its own mythology, it believes it's so much more than a kids' show, it thinks it has to convey 'socially important' messages. It's forgotten its primary objective, which is to be an entertaining adventure programme with characters we can take to our hearts.

And finally, just to fully ensure that I get plenty of NOs on the 'was this helpful to you' bit, a comment on how left-wing the show now is. It's pro-gay, pro-multicultural, pro-feminist, anti-military (which explains the absurd contradiction in the Doctor's character). Stridently so in fact, so it interferes with, and warps, the storytelling. In short, it's everything the left-wing socialist Steven Moffat believes in. That's why you don't get, for example, messages about standing up for cherished institutions, fighting for what is right as dictated by common sense and human nature, or getting from life what you put in to it. These sorts of messages are alien to the left. (How appropriate that Clara was clutching a copy of cherished left-wing bible The Guardian in one episode.)

But to end on a non-political note: Doctor Who simply isn't as much fun as it used to be, it's not exciting or suspenseful or thrilling. Declining viewing figures may confirm that am I not alone in this opinion.
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About Time (I) (2013)
About the worst film ever made
7 September 2013
I'll admit straight off that I hate Richard Curtis with a passion generally reserved for mass-murdering dictators, but I was willing to give About Time a fair chance and see whether he could in fact charm me. I was wrong, and how.

From the start he makes the bile rise in your stomach. There's a character called KitKat ("who is always bare-foot"); her family have Sunday lunch on the beach all year round ("no matter what the weather"); they even watch a film projected onto a rock on the beach, in the rain.

But things get much, much worse. Curtis basically recycles scenes and ideas from all his previous crimes (sorry, films). We get the eccentric older family member, the kooky friends, the cute and nondescript American girl wooed in a fantasy London, the births, a death and of course a ****ing wedding. Mawkish music on the soundtrack tells us when to be happy, when to be miserable. The cynicism of the project and the vapidity of its intentions would be unbelievable were it not for Curtis's previous form.

Do not see this film. Watch a Hitchcock, a Kubrick, a Wilder, something that is proper cinema. This is an abomination, a dreadful, lazy, meandering, actually quite nasty (how on earth did a film with numerous F-words get a 12 in Britain?), vomit-causing, stupid slice of celluloid which, if there was such a place as hell, would be shown there on a loop.
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The Girl (2012 TV Movie)
Unpleasant motives
17 January 2013
As Total Film magazine said of this one-off drama, "it amounts to nothing less than a wholesale character assassination". They were right – it makes Albert Goldman's biography of John Lennon appear hagiographic.

While it looks great and Sienna Miller is fine as Hedren and Jones captures Hitch's voice well, The Girl is a narrow and nasty portrayal of the world's greatest film director. In its attempt to construct a drama it forgets some important points: people often have to suffer for their art; Alfred Hitchcock was a film director who knew his audience better than anyone, his understanding of the human condition was deep, and he realised that the thing that mattered most was the experience that the audience would derive from his work. If it meant discomfort and long hours on the set, that was a price worth paying – there's no room for fluffy dressing gowns and tea and biscuit breaks when you're trying to create a masterpiece, something that might last for centuries.

To suggest that Hitch unexpectedly sent a model bird crashing through a telephone box window just to terrify and "punish" Hedren, as opposed to being a desire to frighten the wits out of the audience, is absurd. The shoot of The Birds had been meticulously planned for – literally – years, and in any case, why would Hitch risk harming his leading lady's features? The greatest of people are endowed with light and shade, and possess the ability to view human existence from deep and differing positions. Hitchcock was one of these people. This greatness is something to be lauded – not bemoaned and belittled, as was the case with The Girl.
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Beatlemania (1981)
Quite a playlist
20 September 2010
Four lookalikes perform the songs of the Beatles. And here are the 30 songs they perform, in order:

I want to hold your hand, She loves you, Please please me, Help!, Day tripper, If I fell, Can't buy me love, Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, We can work it out, Nowhere Man, A day in the life, Strawberry Fields forever, Penny Lane, Magical mystery tour, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Michelle, Get back, The fool on the hill, Lady Madonna, Got to get you into my life, Come together, With a little help from my friends, All you need is love, Revolution, Helter skelter, Hey Jude, The long and winding road, Let it be, The End.

A good selection then, although I would have preferred a few more lesser well known ones. I understand the film was a cut down version of the play so maybe some got left on the cutting room floor. I guess it's a reasonable split between John and Paul songs. Sadly there are no George ones.

As a nitpicking Beatlemaniac I found it slightly annoying not so much that the songs are performed in the 'wrong' order but that many of them are performed in clearly the wrong 'look' for the time. A bit of crossover is acceptable, but having the guys sing If I Fell in their Magical Mystery Tour outfits feels a bit weird.

This isn't a great movie, in fact it's barely a movie at all, but it's nice to hear these songs again. It always is. But as always the ear wants it to be the originals. Oh well, I guess there are other films for that.
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Low key drama of a little interest
24 January 2010
Here's an obscure British drama now available on DVD.

It is about two 'nightclub hostesses' aka prostitutes working in London. One has to deal with her dad (Hartnell, just before Dr Who) and the other a married businessman who's been having an affair with her.

The front cover of the DVD has Ritchie in bra, panties and stockings and suspenders but there's not a great deal of titillation here. It was an X back then and a 12 now. Her character is a little irritating; Sims gives the better performance here - there's meaning beneath those eyes.

This rather downbeat drama, with flashes of style, is lifted by extensive location shooting. For those who want to see 1963 London it's a treat. Particularly good is the scene where Hartnell walks through Soho amid the flashing neon lights advertising the sexy delights on show. He also walks past a film poster for West End Jungle.

The director did better than this (Village of the Damned) and worse. Now it's difficult to judge how ersatz it is.
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No 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand'
19 September 2009
In 1964, a group of youths form a group to try and win a competition which has as the prize the chance to support the Beatles in concert. Because the director knows nothing about cinema, this insipid, lifeless and cheerless musical drama has these faults: amateurish performances, charmless characters and a non-script that fills it redundant scenes with long pauses, pointless profanity and dodgy covers, mainly of Beatles songs (including Misery, I Saw Her Standing There, She Loves You, A Hard Day's Night, PS I Love You, Love Me Do and From Me To You). Dismally painful, it even shows footage, on television, of the Fabs in 1965 rather than '64.
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Doctor Who: Turn Left (2008)
Season 4, Episode 11
RTD proves his genius
21 June 2008
I have to calm myself down to write this because that was such a brilliant ending to a fantastic episode.

I feel like when you've been supporting a fair-to-middling football team for years and then they go and win the cup - and you feel marvellous, and you say to everybody 'See! I told you we were great!' Because Doctor Who is now terrific, spine-tingling television, with ace acting, ace writing and ace technical values. It is galaxies ahead of the old series, and series four may even be better than the first three seasons of the new one.

For this ep RTD took the Sliding Doors/Run Lola Run template and entwined it with the show's mythology and history (and what mythology!). Tying in everything from the Racnoss to the Adipose to the Sontarans was sensational; to link it forward with what looks to be a classic finale is beyond sensational.

There were so many good things about Turn Left: the unsettling feeling of doom that was conveyed thanks to world order collapsing (and it also made us feel extra adoration for the Doctor); Catherine Tate's strong, versatile performance - she carried the episode and not once were we wishing the Doctor would show up (quite an achievement, which Love And Monsters didn't quite do); the ingenuity of the plot structure; the 'something on your back' terror; and of course THAT next episode preview. Boy oh boy.

I'm not ashamed to say I shed a few tears during these 50 minutes.
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For the politically naive and or lefties
10 April 2008
A kind of compilation of bits from the director's previous features, this honest, vivid drama gains from its naturalistic performances and observant asides, but has brutal and hysterical extremes that may alienate many audiences.

The director no doubt fells strongly that yes, this is England. As a left winger he will be keen to play up the bad aspects of his country and down play anything positive. Such is his policy on this movie. Don't get me wrong, the film is well made and well acted but to say it offers an unbiased view of England is laughable.

The left in the media love to paint anyone who questions mass immigration as a Nazi or a fascist. It is just not credible to them that the National Front had people in it who were perfectly normal, decent people who felt frustrated about the changing face of their country and the mainstream politicians' inability to do anything about it. Sir Keith Joseph voiced such an opinion. According to people like Meadows, skinhead thugs were the prototype NF members. This was not the case.

Where this film really falls to pieces is at the end when the Falklands conflict is equated with what has gone before. The determination to embed the narrative in a political context is misguided at best and insensitive at worst.

It is really no surprise to me that lesser film critics, who are all liberal left, have praised this film so much, where the odd wiser one, like the chap in the Telegraph, have exposed it for what it is: a blustering, fake, sham of a picture with pretensions to say so much more than it has the genuine intellect to.
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Razor Eaters (2003)
Dire studenty film project
4 March 2008
Felt I had to counter the comments on this film, many of which may well have been written by PR types or those close to the makers.

Just my opinion, but I thought this was appalling and amateurish and tedious. From the word go I hated it. It's shot on video, which is never a good thing: it exposes the dreadfulness of the acting, it makes the violence look fake, it makes the gore look unconvincing. It looks cheap and nasty, which is what this film, if you can call it that, is.

The gang simply aren't scary either, they're just idiots. The plot is banal. The statements it tries to make about the media's treatment of violence are portentous and unconvincing. The makers would like it if people bandied round the names of other, better films in relation to theirs, but I'm not even going to do that.

Avoid at all costs.
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Action (1980)
Tinto goes crazy
15 February 2008
Wow, I'm the first to comment on this title, what an honour. I suspect others haven't bothered because the film is so incredibly, unbelievably, jaw-droppingly awful.

Now, I love Tinto Brass (kind of - I love the way he shoots women in movies like Cheeky, Miranda, The Voyeur etc) but this is his worst film by far, even worse than Snack Bar Budapest and Caligula. It is desperate. It's incoherent, pretentious, stupid, impenetrable and intolerable. Even the music is dire and often hilariously inappropriate.

Set and seemingly part-shot in London, it offers not one iota of English culture. It's very much Italian - lots of noisy jabbering and angry gesticulating. The 'story' follows an idealistic actor who goes on a strange odyssey in which he meets various bizarre types. That's pretty much it.

Some of the weird and ludicrous scenes: an actress is forced to defecate on set or be thrown off, so men cajole her into doing so; half naked mental patients sing a song with the staff; men with penises for noses and women with cooches for mouths dance in a field. And it's all so utterly meaningless!

This being Tinto Brass there is nudity but the ladies are not shot in his usual loving fashion and there are no lingering vulva shots or upskirt shots. For those interested, here are the sexy scenes available: a woman climbs out of a bath slowly (breasts and bush), a woman pulls her skirt up and panties down (bush) to sit on the loo; a woman dances around wearing only hold ups (boobs, fur); a woman climbs out of a taxi in just hold ups (again boobs and fur); a woman dances completely naked in a field; a couple dance naked in a field.

You may have to see this to realise how bad it is. The dialogue is bathetic, cod philosophical nonsense, and the director displays zero skill in keeping a narrative together. The actors are bad and unattractive.

Quite a mess indeed, and not yet available on R2 DVD. It might struggle to get approval from the BBFC (partly because of the unpleasant and misogynistic toilet scene) but might sneak an 18.
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Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale (2007)
Season 2, Episode 7
Flat, dismal finale
15 January 2008
This was the worst ever episode of Extras and a particularly feel-bad Christmas special.

Gervais appears to be able to set up a series which is brilliant and then let it disintegrate well before the end (the second series of The Office was many times worse than the first). Although constantly watchable, this was dismal stuff. Extras is meant to be a comedy – this wasn't funny and barely tried to be. What was the point of having the characters' lives collapse? What was achieved by it other than to be depressing?

How bad it looked to have Ricky Gervais, a rich and famous person who hangs out with the Heat crew and loves wealth and fame, to tell us how awful it all is. His criticisms carried no weight at all. He came across as a whining, joyless, navel-gazing, self-indulgent misanthrope.

One other thing that should be noted about Gervais shows is this: his characters do not act like normal people would in terms of considering others' feelings. People, particularly the English middle class, are incredibly sensitive to how the other person feels and go out of their way to not offend. In Gervais shows they do the opposite. To cite just one example, the Clive Owen character saying what he said in front of that female extra is simply not credible. No one is that nasty to another's face.

When so many of your characters behave in non-realistic ways, the show is robbed of its verisimilitude and ability to make us laugh through tapping into our everyday experiences. That and the fact that there were no virtually no jokes in it made Extras a show which ended with a miserable whimper.
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I Am Legend (2007)
Interesting semi-horror
14 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Caught a screening in London on Friday night and have to say that this must be the most downbeat major Hollywood product in some time. To say it is sombre is an understatement. I suspect it will split audiences, and that many Will Smith fans, expecting another of his action laden, feel-good shoot em ups, will be disappointed.

Smith himself is pretty good in the role, and, again, there are no concessions to the multiplex audience. His is a character who is seriously disturbed, abnormal even. No wonder when you see what he's been through and how he is forced to live his life. It's this refusal to pander to formulaic, predictable notions that sets the film apart from other blockbusters.

It also looks good - the special effects are as excellent as you'd expect nowadays but it's the deserted streets of New York, strewn with abandoned cars and other debris, that most catch the eye. Dialogue is sparse. I can't think of another big Hollywood movie with so little dialogue. The dialogue that is there is often witty and pointed. Again, it's a sign of the film's bravery, including a discourse on God.

But after all this - does the movie entertain? Well... kind of. As I say it's not a barrel of laughs. Meaningful incident appears sparse at the time of watching (thinking back later, you realise there was more going on than appeared) and the plot is, not surprisingly, very simple. The main fault with is that it doesn't inspire much affection. There's not really much to get the teeth into. Coming out at Christmas it may disappoint even more.

Well, that's my go at starting the ball rolling. I'll leave it for others to kick about a bit now.

PS Big thanks to the person who originally got this comment deleted. Well done! You must be the saddest person in the whole world.
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Very pale
15 November 2007
What's the fuss about? I am going to be the one who points out that the Emperor has no clothes here. Three Colours Red is nothing special at all. It starts slowly and doesn't get much more pacey as it goes along; it's moderately intriguing but that's it. It never hits any sort of heights.

The whole effect is so muted, so underplayed that nothing grabs the attention. Visually it may look good on occasions but dramatically speaking it is inert; there is nothing there. I thought that after the dog incident things would begin to happen and I would be drawn into a web of intrigue. Nope.

It's not that I dislike slow, arty films or French films (though I'm not keen), but this one just said very little to me. There are no answers to the meaning of life here. I am amazed that this vaguely pretentious movie has got such good reviews on IMDb and is awarded four stars in Halliwell's Film Guide. (The editor clearly had a bit of a dizzy spell when it came to the Three Colours films as he gives ALL of them maximum marks.)
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