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Mama (I) (2013)
8/10
No preconceptions
11 February 2019
Don't read the reviews, just watch this film on your own terms.

It's a unique story, well told. It's unusual to find a horror film so well acted and so atmospheric: it's scary without the usual fake blood and gore.

If you have an active imagination and don't need to be spoon-fed every nuance, you'll probably enjoy it as much as me.
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Split (IX) (2016)
10/10
Great story telling
13 August 2018
What a remarkable film! The premise of the film seems quite superficial at first but as the layers are peeled back there's so much more beneath.

It's a horror film without special effects gore, an action flick without any car chases. A high-tension psychological thriller for viewers with active imaginations, who don't need to be spoon-fed every explanation.

The acting is top-notch, the script sympathetic, the cinematography and set fantastic, and the music/sound subtle enough not to be noticed, consciously, while building the tension inexorably. It's gripping, un-turn-away-able.

Seriously impressive. I don't give 10's lightly.
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Black Rose (2014)
1/10
Amateurish in all bar one respect
8 May 2018
Everything about this film is rotten - the story, the script, the direction, editing, music, effects, acting, lighting, pace, action scenes, background scenes, link scenes, scenery in general ... Oh hang on, there is one plus point: the actors are very well dressed, well groomed.

Nothing like any LA police I've ever seen though.
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The Take (2016)
7/10
A xenophobic romp
21 August 2017
The action runs at full throttle throughout from Paris rooftop pursuit, a bomb, car chases, several full-on fights, to a bank robbery in the midst of a riot.

The acting is solid, the dialogue not bad and the characters just a bit more than two dimensional. The story is quite convoluted but not too hard to follow, if a little predictable in places.

Talking of predictable, the bullet-proof all-American hero single- handedly solving the world's problems is a tiresome theme. Why must Hollywood consistently portray the rest of the world as stupid, inept, racist and corrupt? Self-projection maybe?
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Billionaire Ransom (II) (2016)
6/10
A scene too far
27 July 2017
Despite the contrived situation and "Survivors" production style, the story, the acting and the scenery keep things moving along ... until the last section when it all falls in a big heap, as if they ran out of time, money or inspiration.

Little and not-so-little inconsistencies in the plot accumulate steadily, gradually becoming more noticeable. I'm happy to suspend reality for a creative tale, well told, so long as whatever takes place is reasonably credible within the context of the story. Take things too far, though, and those inconsistencies become distracting. Reality reasserts itself and the moment is lost.

FWIW I suggest you stop watching when the FBI becomes involved and imagine your own conclusion.
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7/10
Insightful
12 July 2017
I remember Eddie the Eagle as a joke, a laughing stock, incessantly pilloried by the gutter press and sneered-at by the mainstream media alike.

This film made me realise just how wrong I was.

Those shots peering down from the top of the ramp at the tiny people in the distance barely hint at the terror, standing up there and knowing that when you set off, there is only one way down.

They don't so much fall, as plummet.

I enjoyed the humour and the music, but most of all the story ... just ... worked. I know it's dramatised, it's not a documentary. Doesn't matter. It was something unique, truly special. And the film captures the essence of Eddie's '15 minutes of fame' in a remarkably positive and upbeat way. A true Olympian.
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6/10
Banal and contrived, yet intriguing
10 June 2016
The plot throws a young couple together in a contrived situation with an arbitrarily short deadline, and we watch dutifully as the story (such as it is) trundles along to the inevitable conclusion ...

... And yet, at the same time, there's something truly captivating in this tale. The passing scenery, the predictable story, the unlikely meeting and dissonance between the characters, the tedious, naive, pretentious drivel that passes for dialog, the cow act (yes, really) ... these are mere distractions, perhaps specifically and intentionally arranged to prevent us being totally swallowed up by the huge vortex consuming our two brave protagonists before our very eyes. Despite everything, despite everyone's best efforts, fleeting glimpses of reality, little gestures and entirely credible, honest, convincing reactions escape, giving the game away: turn out this is not a film after all, but a fly-on-the-wall documentary. We're mesmerised, and the vortex has us.

This film is not for everyone but if you make it past the first 15 minutes, it's all downhill from there. Before you know it, you'll find yourself picked up and swept along on the same emotional roller- coaster that is taking the actors to places they hadn't anticipated going either.

Just before the final credits roll, we're treated to a recap of the now empty scenery from key points in the film, reflecting on what we've just been through in the same way as the departing characters. Nice touch.

Bottom line: well made, well acted, a captivating, romantic love story.
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1/10
How to watch this film
1 June 2016
1. Imagine you are 8 and have never been to the movies to see an action flick (unless you think Bambi qualifies)

2. Imagine that the director is the one being swept away by an avalanche or dangling over a cliff edge

3. Imagine that the film's climbing advisors are so incompetent that it is they who are sliding down the mountain after their packs.

4. Ignore the characters and the "action". Put some good music on your iPod and just enjoy the New Zealand South Island travelogue.

5. Get drunk. Very, v e r y drunk.

6. Pretend it is a Star Trek film, with Kirk and Bones and monsters consisting of 3 blokes under a carpet. Watch out for the tribbles.

7. Get high. Very, v e r y high. 28,000 feet is not nearly high enough.

8. Take a small sip of vodka every time you spot a technical gaffe.

9. Make out in the back row.

10. Write a review while watching the film, to fill-in the gaps.
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