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Yet another rewrite of history
1 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I was well aware of BoB but had not watched it when first came on TV. Knowing that I something of a war history buff, my daughter bought me the mini series on DVD so I have just given it a viewing. I got as far as Episode 4 before consigning to my 'don't watch again' collection.

It starts off promisingly enough, even if Sobel is something of a caricature, but then it descends into yet another piece of false jingoism. To list all of the errors and omissions and rip-offs would take several A4 pages.

We see the US airborne being briefed on their support for Omah and Utah Beaches. No one says 'whats happening at Gold, Sword or Juno?. There was some flak during the 101st airborne drop on D-Day, but it was not that intensive yet we see flak going up as if it was a raid on Berlin. The main German resistance was at St Marie Eglise which was in fact captured by the US 82nd airborne. The 101st were scattered everywhere because the inexperienced US pilots panicked and dropped their cargo all over the place rendering them largely ineffective until they eventually managed to regroup in the vicinity of SME.

But for me the complete tosh surrounding Operation Market Garden as what killed this for me, especially as my father was part of British XXX Corp.He had previously been through North Africa and the Sword landings, and the Battle of Caen. The 101st landings at Eindhoven were very simple and they took the bridge with almost no opposition.Here is a quotation from Steven Badsey's excellent "Operation Market Garden".

In the south, the 101st met little resistance and captured four of five bridges assigned to them. After a brief delay caused by an 88 mm gun and a machine gun post, the bridge at Son was blown up as they approached it. Later that day several small attacks by the German 59th Infantry Division were beaten off. Small units of the 101st moved south of Son, towards Eindhoven. Later that day it contacted, and was given as attachment the 44th Royal Tank Regiment elements of which were advancing in the VIII Corps sector.

The 101st did not liberate Eindhoven and did not have any contact with British XXX Corp until General Taylor handed over control. British XXX Corp liberated Eindhoven. The 101st did not go anywhere near the town.

The real drama happened at Arnhem where by mischance the British paras jumped right into a major elite SS Panzer regiment who had been just sent there for R&R and were basically wiped out. Part of this elite group was sent to Nijmegan, target for the 82nd airborne who ran into very fierce resistance but held the German offensive until XXX Corp arrived and overran them. This was the real US involvmemt in OMG. Eindhoven was a small side-show.

There were small things that irritated me. We see a Dutchman and his son provide information in Eindhoven to the 101st. This is a direct rip off of part of the story in the 1977 movie 'A Bridge to Far'and is set in Arnhem. It may or not be true but either way it seems totally unnecessary to rip off something like this which patently did not happen.

Anyway, I have said my piece. I just don't see why the Americans can't just stick to the facts. The story would be just as noble and thought provoking without telling blatant mistruths.

5/10 for the grittiness, good action sequences. Pity about everything else.
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Snow White (2012)
Imaginative, creative and thought provoking
5 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I had not heard of this film until my daughter who teaches drama, gave me a DVD for my birthday. I think other posts have adequately covered most of the key issues involved with the piece, but for me it was more about the overall concept and the degree of cinematic art, and I don't use that expression lightly, that blew me away. For example, the evil stepmother can send more chills through your bones with a look or false smile than any amount of dialog. Everything about this movie is crafted like a hand made suit.It just works at so many levels. The story is mostly dark but that is how the original Grimm brothers stories were if you drill down through them,it was Disney who made them more soft. But it has everything; greed, evil, love, revenge, redemption and hope. On first viewing the ending left me somewhat baffled. But on second viewing I think I got it. The scene where the young bullfighter Carmen puts her x on the contract is pivotal to the final scenes IMHO. She is still not free from others greed, but there may be a future of love and hope. Perhaps love from unexpected places. This is also one movie, at least on DVD, where it might be useful to watch the special features first. It was designed to be shown without sound with a live orchestra and musicians fronting the auditorium. Whatever, if you are a free thinking person on what cinematic art might be about put this in your collection.
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Trainspotting (1996)
Think Ewan McGregor is triffic.
24 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I never watched this when it was first released because I didn't feel into a movie about drugs in Edinburgh. At the time I was traveling to Scotland quite a bit and saw first hand how seedy the Royal Mile was after dark when the tourists had gone home. Very nearly got 'glassed' in a pub because the moron who threw the glass took a fancy to the female business colleague I was with.

Anyway, I saw the DVD on special and bought it the other day, and was I impressed. As others have said this is about humanity and endeavour rising above inequality and hardship. The setting and circumstance provides the background but this is about human well being and aspiration. It is both depressing in parts but overall quite uplifting. A morality story overall.

Everything about the film shines be it the acting, the character dynamics, the story line etc. I apologise to my American friends, but only the British can do this stuff really well, the Godfather trilogy excepted. Trainspotting, along with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and In Bruges should be in every collectors DVD collection. And as I said, Ewan McGregor is trffic.
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Stalingrad (1993)
Somewhat confused
24 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is a worthwhile movie and I have it on DVD in original German/Russian with subtitles. That certainly creates a certain atmosphere. I have also got Anthony Beaver's excellent historical book on the Battle Of Stalingrad. I understand what the Director was trying to do with the movie; the whole men are just men, the inhumanity of man, there are no winners in war etc. but to me the film didn't seem to quite know whether it wanted to be a depiction of the battle or an anti-war morality tale. It's called "Stalingrad" but Stalingrad is really just a stage set where the "Band of Brothers" theme can be played out. Some have said Enemy at the Gates is a better movie; I would say it is a complementary movie and between both movies we get a strong feel for what it must have been like to have been there and died. On a more general level I have the view that Cross of Iron is the best movie I have seen on the war on the Eastern Front while Downfall remains for me the best war movie of all. But put those 4 together and you have IMHO an comprehensive package regarding Hitler's folly in Russia.
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Cross of Iron (1977)
James Coburn in his best role?
24 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I had been aware of this film but it wasn't until recently I purchased it on DVD. Others have noted its similarities in some respects to Stalingrad, but I feel CoI is a superior film. The acting is sharper and we are presented with a range of characters all with different views and attitudes to why they are on the Eastern front, and what they hope to achieve be it glory, sanity or to just survive and get the hell out of there. All of the lead and support actors are very good in their roles, and it is possible this is Coburns best. The villain of the piece here of course is the vain glorious Prussian aristocrat who seeks the Iron Cross for purely personal yet family reasons. He needs to return home as the hero and patriarch and is quite happy to betray the ordinary soldier to obtain his lofty aims. Yet he hates the Nazi's and the 'little corporal and failed painter'. He clearly sees that regardless of how the war ends it will be his class that will eventually rule Germany. The Iron Cross will just be a trophy of his superiority. A good bookend to Stalingrad but IMHO a somewhat more satisfying film.
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Taken 2 (2012)
An appalling lie
15 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I saw Taken(One) by accident and sat through it only because I am generally supportive of Liam's films. I thought it was just okay (I have a review posted elsewhere) but hated the Kim character who came across as a totally brain dead teenager, and her mother as a calculated social climber.

I concluded my review by saying that another Taken should either not have the mother/daughter combo in it or else kill them both off in the first 20 minutes.

Sigh. They are both back and Kim is as whiney, petulant and stupid as ever. Can't even pass a drivers test in suburbia driving an automatic. The mother is having marriage issues so the solution to their disappointment is a holiday in Istanbul. Why not Hawaii, or the Gold Coast of Australia. The latter at least has 4 theme parks to keep poor Kimmy at her mental level of engagement, and a casino for Mummy. What did Istanbul do to deserve this duo?

Now I am not going to go over all the flaws in this movie; others have already done that in detail, and yes, it is an absolute clunker, but I cannot let the slanderous portrayal of Istanbul go without comment. I had the privilege of spending a week there two years ago as part of a cruise, and was bedazzled by the place. Only Prague and Budapest offer such variety IMHO. Turkey is at once both a modern and historical city and while largely Muslim it is home to many other religions including Christianity. It has managed this infusion of culture through secularism and progressive planning and development.

Why the producers chose Istanbul to make this lie of a movie beats me. Is it any wonder that the USA is seen by many other countries, including European countries, to be self-centred and dismissive of rich cultures and history far, far older than theirs? I think Hillary Clinton needs to apologise to the people of Turkey for the making and release of this drivel.
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Another unwanted re-write of history
29 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I have given this movie a fairly good mark because it is generally well directed, acted, and beautifully shot. It is also very good entertainment. But it is full of gross historical revisionism which does not do George Hogg full and proper credit and entirely omits the key role of the New Zealander, Rewi Alley, who was behind the orphanage and the leader of the march. So far as I can tell,the 'Australian nurse' with the American accent is a love interest invention and while mostly based upon real events, needlessly distorts history for some minor titillation (no pun intended).I continue to fail to understand while moving and gripping real life stories need to be needlessly tweaked when they more than adequately stand alone.Enjoyable but irritating at the same time if you know the true story.

Hogg by the way way, caught tetanus by stubbing his toe playing basketball in a dung ridden surface, not under a broken truck axle. This is just an example of the needless revisionism so common today. The stubbed toe could have been made just as dramatic.
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Predator (1987)
Great, but the musical is better
1 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
When I first saw this around 1990 it scared the hell out of me, about the same as Alien did.

I have it on DVD and watch it every year or two and still feel it is a very well put together film, unlike the dross that is Avatar and Prometheous.

I am not going to review the movie as such, others have done that, but I stumbled upon a You tube piece entitled: Predator: The musical (the final Schwartznegger Musical).

Won't be everyones cup of tea, but I thought it was hilarious.

Anyway, so far as Predator is concerned, I suggest everyone forgets what followed and accepts this for being a very good piece of Sci/Fi and make up that makes you wonder where the hopeless Weyland mask came from in Prometheous.
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Must See
23 August 2012
I have Senna on DVD and watched this documentary the other night and was quite blown away. Even if you have no interest in motor sport it is an incredible social statement about power, glory, greed and perhaps absolute egotism. Colin Chapman, especially, does not come out of this looking good.

For those of us old enough, we know what is coming, but the personal insights into those who will die is quite heartbreaking.

I have driven parts of Spa, the Nurburgring and Goodwood (where Moss crashed and Bruce McClaren died) and they are strange places. No birds sing, there is a feeling of dread in the air. If you watch this doco, and Senna, you get the feeling that Senna and Clark knew they were about to die.

At the moment it can be downloaded at Grand Prix-The Killer Years-Video Dailymotion.
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Firewall (2006)
Just a nod to ghost ship
9 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
As many others have noted this is a rather formulaic movie but in general it is well acted and is quite entertaining although the outcome is always obvious.

I just felt a need to comment because the kids are watching Ghost Ship at the start in a scene where baked beens turn into maggots. Also Senza Fine is subtely used in this movie as very background music.

This is not really a review of any kind on this movie but it is a head nod in my opinion to one of the more intelligent horror/thriller movies I have seen.

Enjoy Firewall for what it is but reflect on what Ghost Ship has to offer.
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Britannic (2000 TV Movie)
Made for TV
8 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
While this is an obvious made-for-TV follow up to Titanic (Cameron) it does draw attention to a signficant shipwreck that has been largely forgotten.

Bollards relatively recent expedition has shown that the ship was sunk by torpedo's as shown, but sunk because the portholes were open and the bulkhead doors were not closed.

It is indeed fortunate that it happened on an inwards transit because on an outwards one the loss of life would have been enormous.

Yet again we have intrigue and romance fictionally built into a disaster movie but the truth of the matter is that the sinking of Britannic was an act of war with minimal loss of life. With what had happened in Galipoli and the Western Front it was hardly newsworthy.

The movie for all its slights of hand might have just made its sinking more noteworthy than has otherwise been the case.
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Ghost Ship (2002)
Surprisingly Good
4 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this film on TV last night more out of curiosity than interest and found it to be, remarkably, far better than its rating, but that might be because despite its shock/horror it is a very deep and quite intellectual film that demands reflection and analysis.

Treat at a superficial level and it might be just a run of the mill gore-fest but it is much more than that, and the acting is uniformly very good.

The film draws heavily (IMHO) from Alien, The Shining, and possibly even Meet Joe Black. In Alien we have a bunch of blue collar workers with one smart girl (Ripley); here we have Epps. In The Shining we have the Grady girls, here we have Katie. In Joe Black we have the notion of a supernatural presence (Death) taking convincing human form;here we have Ferriman. Even his persona is a clever device. In Greek mythology Charon was the ferryman who transported souls from this world to the next over the River Styx. This is a good example that this movie does work at quite an intellectual level.

While there are technical plot holes in this movie, hey its a horror/thriller and you need to suspend elements of reality and belief.

I won't dwell on the plot which others have covered, but clearly Ferriman is a demonic agent of the Devil; sort of a commodity trader in human souls. He has found greed (one of the seven deadly sins) as stock in trade, along with lust, and killing. He has used the Ghost Ship multiple times to recruit vulnerable souls. He can cloak it from radar and visibility but not control its drifting. It is sinking and he needs it fixed, and if he can achieve that and get some souls of sinners in the process even better.

But to gain a soul he needs them to sin. 'Souls without sin can't be marked'. But the ship is sunk and he needs to start again, so why not stick to a winning formula. A new ship. Whether the gold is real or not is conjecture and it is not the original crew that takes it on board the new ship. They have gone to hell and he needs live bodies to execute his plan and in turn to give him some new souls.

While it is not entirely original I think it ranks well against The Shining as a thought provoking movie, and miles ahead of the rubbish that is Prometheous.

Rcommended if you are into the genre and have a bit of grey matter.
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Prometheus (I) (2012)
Pure manure (Poopmetheous)
1 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I had the unfortunate experience of seeing this film a second time last night because my daughter, home briefly, wanted to, so I took her along. I reviewed the movie a month or so ago and gave it a 4/10 rating mostly because it was good eye candy. But on second viewing I was so disgusted I have deleted my original posting because it was far to generous. This movie stinks.

I have degrees in molecular biology and physics, but do enjoy SCI/FI movies that are not particularly sound scientifically if the story is solid and entertaining e.g. Ironman. Initially I was prepared to overlook the scientific plot holes in Prometheus, and focused upon the absolutely stupid characters, poor acting, and rubbish script. But on second viewing, the scientific plot holes are indeed just to big to ignore.

I am not going to reiterate what many others have said, but taken overall, no amount of special effects can paper over the cracks in what is a piece of manure, and an insult to anyone with any decent education, let alone an appreciation of fine film making.

I am (was?) a big fan of Ridley Scott and rank Alien, Bladerunner and Gladiator amongst my most admired movies, so I am at a loss as to how this ridiculously pompous mess came to be made. Its only saving grace is that is marginally better than Avatar.

But nothing I can write matches the Downfall parody, Hitler Hates Prometheous on Youtube. If you are the only person on the planet who has not seen this take a look. His views on Twilight are even better.

I watched Chariots of Fire the other night (as part of the lead up to the Olympics) and see IMDb gives it a similar rating to this. When I see one of the great and most inspirational films of all time lumped in with this dross I do wonder about the future of western civilization.
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Tommy (1975)
Deep and Challenging
24 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
It is not easy to adequately review this film properly. I am doing a series of presentations to the Society on Ken Russell and while I have the original sound track of Tommy on vinyl I had not seen the movie since its release. With some difficulty I sourced a DVD and watched it the other night and subsequently. This is my fifth attempt at writing a review that I am satisfied with.

This could be an offensive movie to many despite the stellar cast and music. It really is quite deranged in parts and simply would not be made today in this form. Cousin Kevin, Uncle Ernie, the Acid Queen, and the Eric Clapton scene (Eyesight to the Blind, in which he reprises the Clapton is God theme from the 60s) are surely calculated to upset everyone, or challenge traditional viewpoints such as Catholicism, false rituals, cults etc. and that clearly is what KR intended doing, and he does it brilliantly. We even get a good measure of paedophilia, sadistic abuse and drug use thrown in as well.

In the end I suppose it is also about redemption and the triumph of good over evil which is a marked counterpoint to KRs 'The Devils'. Is it just my opinion or is the close out shot a depiction of Christ on the Cross offering redemption and salvation to all, not just Tommy himself? This is an incredible juxtaposition to Clapton's 'God' scene earlier in the movie. Are also the lyrics to 'Listening to You' not a strong association between Tommy and Christ? I think they are. Listen closely or source the lyrics.

This is a movie that deserves and needs serious reflection because it challenges convention, and if you don't like the music, don't go there. It is for me utterly audacious and original but I also appreciate it will be disturbing to many. Appreciate it or hate it for its originality but if it is viewed with an open mind the incredibly positive ending is a tonic for the soul.

And of course, the music cannot be faulted. Did Elton John ever exceed his Pinball Wizard role? I think not. I also think Roger Daltrey (Tommy) singing 'I am Free' and "Listening to You' are incredibly uplifting and spiritual. And are Ann-Margaret and Roger Daltrey not the most beautiful creatures on the planet? The 'Healed' scene in the ocean is just gorgeous, as is the strong message about materialism. If Tommy is Christ reborn, is Nora his mother Mary? You can go on and on analysing this movie but the easiest thing is to just go along for the ride.
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21 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of my favourite movies but it is not perfect but that has more to do with the book on which it is based. Tom Wolfe doesn't seem to be sure about whether he wants to write about breaking the sound barrier or the early days of the space program which makes it somewhat bi-polar. I tend to view it as two movies in one and can separate and appreciate both aspects.

On the whole it is very well executed and certainly the desert scenes bring a realism to the early test pilot days.

I am not sure about some of the acting in the astronaut sequences. I find Dennis Quaid to be especially irritating but don't know whether he is playing character to type, or over-hamming it. I thought his role could have been throttled back somewhat. I also thought the character of Lyndon Johnson was also a bit over-cooked although quite entertaining. My favourite line is when he asks Werner von Braun whether or not 'we can beat the Ruskies?' to which WVB replies 'of course, our Germans are better than their Germans'. Classic.

Highly recommended and makes a good companion piece to Apollo 13 and From the Earth to the Moon.
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Apollo 13 (I) (1995)
An underrated movie about a real event
14 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I am at a loss as to why some people criticise this movie unless they are far to young to understand the period and the importance of the space program at the time.

Anyone who has been to the Smithsonian in Washington DC will appreciate that these were pretty crude instruments to travel to the moon and back. I would'nt cross town in one of these but men of determination, dedication, vision and belief set off for what has been until now the greatest adventure of all time.

Inevitably something was always going to go wrong and this was Apollo 13. That through ingenuity, analysis, and bravery under fire (so to speak) the crew returned to Earth is every bit as remarkable as what the story suggests.

The settings are realistic, down to clothes, hairstyles and the like. The fusion of the event with the more mundane aspects of family life add to the realism. The acting is strong and believable, and I particularly liked the interpretation of Lovell's wife, who manages to blend support of her husband, with fear and concern, while trying to run a relatively normal household.

The parts of the three astronauts are well portrayed. Hanks, who I wax and wane on does a good job and Kevin Bacon is plausible as Swigert, even if his bachelor status is a bit overcooked. Gary Sinese, as always, is terrific and his role in the rescue of the mission is a little overstated, but he is just as good here as he was as Capt. Dan in Forest Gump. Ed Harris, also as is usual, is very good (and I particularly liked his waistcoat).

This makes a great companion piece to The Right Stuff, another of my favourite movies, and anyone interested in the space program, and where it came from, should have both in their DVD collection, along with the documentary piece, In the Shadow of the Moon and the TV series From the Earth to the Moon.
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Excellent film about the truth behind Pearl Harbour
13 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is a somewhat unusual film as it plays out like a documentary populated by actors but for anyone wanting to understand why PH happened this is superior to any documentary you will find, and probably as accurate as available information in 1970.

There has been relatively recent debate about the degree of complicity of the Emperor and the true meaning behind his Winds/Waves message which suggests he supported the attack but it was in US interests to support Hirohito as a means of gaining a peaceful surrender by not prosecuting him as a war criminal.

The acting and production on the Japanese side is first rate but somewhat wooden on the American side, but overall technical production and execution are quite amazing given there was no CGI in those days.

The failure of the Japanese to knock out the US carriers ultimately means that the attack was a failure made more so by the decision to not send in the third attack wave intended to destroy the port infrastructure but Japanese command was concerned they might be counterattacked by the US carriers and would be caught in a vulnerable position. Despite the extensive damage inflicted on the US battleship fleet this was ultimately largely irrelevant.

For anyone interested in the origins, execution and aftermath of the PH attack this is a great starting point. There is a wealth of information on the internet, both truthful and fanciful for anyone wanting to learn more but this movie provides a better grounding than any documentary I have seen. As for that appalling so-called PH of a few years ago, what a disgrace in respect of the nearly 3,000 Americans who lost their lives that day.
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Source Code (2011)
Excellent execution
13 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I stumbled across this film more by accident than design but decided to give it a try. I have always liked Jake Gs work. The plot has been outlined in other reviews so I won't go there but I have to say I was very quickly intrigued by the strange concept which I hoped would not become another Inception inspired mess.

But the story holds it course even if it is a little uneven and obviously far fetched. The principal actors do a very good job and you are kept guessing until the very end, which I think leaves the way open for a sequel.

After some of the dross that has been pumped out as science fiction in recent times (such as Avatar and Prometheus) this is miles ahead of Inception and close to the original Matrix.

Recommended if for no other reason than for the gorgeous Michelle Monaghan.
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Brilliant even if uneven
12 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of my favourite Clint movies and he does get to act in this. He puts the Man With No Name behind him and moves on towards Unforgiven.

His dialogue with Ten Bears, the feared Comanche chief is very good cinema and both actors do a very good job. It is quite stirring stuff.

While Clint is very good in this, it is Chief Dan George who steals the entire show. Apparently Clint simply gave CDG an overview of a particular scene and let him ad lib almost every line. It is one of the more remarkable performances I have ever seen.

I was never able to get onside with Sondra Locke, although she is passable in this. I can't work out what Clint saw in her. She is to wimpy while her mother comes across as a much tougher cookie.

The movie has all the hallmarks of a good Eastwood western. Plenty of action, blood and gore, great one liners and a good (if not perfect) linkage with history.

Great entertainment. Highly recommended.
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A strange and interesting western
12 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I have over 20 Clint Eastwood movies in my library and this is definitely his most mysterious.

The plot and subplots have all been well explained by other reviewers so I won't go there. It is somewhat dated now and the Strangers attitude towards women are a little archaic but are integral to the story and his desire for revenge.

Plot and subplots aside, the main focus for me is on deciding who or what the Stranger is. In my opinion, he is not the dead Marshall's brother because he knows to much about his death but wasn't present. So that leaves us with the concept of a supernatural figure, either an avenging angel or the ghost of the Marshall but reincarnate in a form that is not recognisable.

It is my opinion he is the ghost of the dead Marshall, forced to live in purgatory until he extracts revenge on the people who murdered him and allowed him to be murdered, and did not have the decency to provide him with a gravestone. There is a line in the movie spoken by Sarah Belding to the effect that 'they say the dead don't rest without a marker of some kind'. And of course the Marshall's grave is indeed unmarked. We also suspect that Sarah might know who the Stranger is and why he is there and this could be a reason as to why she leaves the town.

So the Stranger consigns the townsfolk and his killers to a very real version of hell while rectifying the issue of his own headstone which will allow him to finally rest in peace. At the end, as the Stranger leaves, he sees Mordecai the dwarf chiselling the name of the dead Marshall on the gravestone. Mordecai repeats an earlier line 'what did you say your name was ?'. The Stranger nods to the marker and replies 'you already know'.

Well that is my interpretation which works for me but the neat thing about this movie is that the identity of the Stranger is an open question which different audiences might interpret as they choose.

It is also a darn good shoot-em-up western as well filmed in a surreal setting.
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10 July 2012
I came across this movie on DVD recently at a boot sale and bought it for $1.00.

I first saw it on theatrical release but watched it again the other night.

The story is well known and I won't comment on the movie other than to say it was clearly an attempt at legitimate, low key porn.

But it did take me back to the original cinema viewing, which I saw with my new wife, who I think was particularly embarrassed. Sitting in front of us were an English couple and he was voluble right through the movie, as if it was a comedy.

As we were leaving the theatre he turned to me and said 'I don't know about you but I am going to plant my back lawn out in bluebells'. Broke me up, and I can't think of D.H. Lawrence, without thinking of bluebells.

I am surprised that no one has had a serious go at remaking LCL. It might be that DHL is to difficult for todays literally changed audiences.
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Gloomy Sunday (1999)
Up there with Schindlers List.
10 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I wrote this brief review because it was the first movie I went to with my former partner in 2003, in that small cinema mentioned in trivia, in Christchurch, New Zealand, now destroyed by the earthquake of February 2011. She subsequently gave me a DVD of the movie which I went to watch the other night only to discover it is gone.

So I guess this movie is especially poignant to me. But emotions aside, the reason it ran so long in Christchurch is that it very, very good, albeit not perfect. I will not go over the story line, which others have well commented upon. But what, IMHO, sets this movie aside is the haunting atmosphere, the complexity of the characters, and their relationships. Others will struggle with the German soundtrack and English subtitles but that, in my opinion, adds to its mystery.

It is really two stories; one the love triangle, the other the outcome of the Nazi invasion of Hungary, but it does manage to pull these together at the end. It is a bit contrived but ultimately does work.

The acting is a bit uneven (Hans, the SS officer is a bit off), but otherwise everything about this is great. You will probably never see this in a theatre or on television but for serious film collectors, this is highly recommended.
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Mamma Mia! (2008)
A tonic for the soul
8 July 2012
I have read all of the negative reviews and saw this in cinema when it was first released a few years ago. Enjoyed it but did not really think beyond that.

I watched it on TV tonight and came to the conclusion it is a great piece of entertainment. The story is much deeper than it seems at first viewing, the acting first rate and as for ABBA, what can you say, unless you are are into the mindless nonsense that passes for popular music today.

It probably is an over 40's flick but as good as it gets for that demographic. It is very good fun, doesn't challenge the brain to much and is an ideal tonic for the soul on a Saturday night. I cannot see how anyone could dislike this piece of pure escapist fun, with no killing and dying, profanities, and with super party music and happy outcomes all round.

There is a time and place for Schindlers List (possibly my most admired film) but there is a time and place for Mamma Mia.
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Major surprise
7 July 2012
I am normally the first to slam revisionist history and did not go to see this on cinema release.

It came onto television recently and having nothing better to do, and there being not much else on, gave it a whirl. Well blow me down,I really enjoyed it, and had to go away and think why I did so, when the plot is overall quite preposterous. And I think that is the key to the movie, it is sheer over the top nonsense so that it actually transcends revisionist history and becomes a piece of entertainment.

There is some stuff in there though that isn't much known that is real history. Both Goebbels and Hitler were huge movie fans and indeed Goebbels produced a version of Titanic that is quite extraordinary in its propaganda but is regarded as the first effort to seriously make a movie about the tragedy (Google Nazi Titanic). It can be bought and I have a copy but it can now be downloaded from You Tube. Goebbels production makes his one just as ridiculous as I.B. which adds to the irony.

I found it hard not to watch this movie without a grin on my face because it is very well acted (actually overacted) and so clichéd (deliberately) that it does not really take itself seriously, and you can see that. Brad Pitt is having a ball. But it was the performance of Cristoph Waltz that really blew me away. How good was he? The perfect blend of Nazi evil with a touch of vaudeville thrown in.


This movie is completely over the top which is why it works. It does not want to try and rewrite history like the goddam awful Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Killer which takes itself all to seriously.
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Gladiator (2000)
How come Prometheus?
7 July 2012
I can't add anything to other reviews other than to say it is one of my top 10 movies (along with Alien I might add). I use bits of it in my consultancy work because it is chock full of wonderful and inspirational lines.

At my signal, unleash hell. Some people don't know when they are conquered. Hold the line, stay with me. Whatever comes out that door we have more chance of surviving if we stay together.

Even though he is a New Zealander (not Australian as some believe) I do wax and wane on Russell Crowe a bit but there is no doubt this is his tour de force to date. But then all of the acting is superb and I really enjoyed Oliver Reed (Women in Love, The Devils, two other of my favourite movies).

What I don't understand is how Ridley Scott directed the pile of manure that is Prometheus. I just don't get it. Maybe someone can enlighten me.
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