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The Road (I) (2009)
8/10
Stunning. Simply, stunning.
31 January 2010
To those who like their films handed to them on a plate. Those who don't want to think or appreciate beautiful films and stories, look away now. And to those who want a happy ending, certainly look away now. The Road is the most depressing film I'll ever see, but also one of the best.

Having read the book over Christmas I was touched by the beauty of the writing and how the relationship between the father and son was portrayed. So I was really hoping the movie would do the book justice, and I wasn't disappointed. Everything about this film worked perfectly.

Mortensen's voice over is haunting. It fits so well with whats going on, lines like 'I think its October' really strike you to the situation the desperate pair are in. The cinematography is some of the best I've ever seen, and the settings were really similar to how I pictured them in my head when reading the book. Along with a terrific score, the movie is filled with some of the most painful and frightening scenes I've ever seen.

The performances are great all round, but Mortensen is the stand out by quite a way. Surely a best actor Oscar nomination is on the way. If this film was to sweep all awards in fact, it would be deservedly so.

Final thought, as I was leaving the theatre, the only thought I had was a scary one. Who can say this could never happen to us????? Silly maybe, but thats the effect the film had on me.

See The Road everyone.
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8/10
such a great movie
3 June 2009
I watched this movie for the first time last week and I was astounded. This really is a great movie that will have you thinking about it in the days after you watch it. The cast are great, the writings great, and the story is great.

I love these kind of films. There are far too man films made these days that tell you nothing. This is a special movie that you will walk away from with a smile on your face and a determination to do something more with yourself.

Matt Damon is quickly becoming one of my favourite actors now, and his performance here is superb, the same goes for Robin Williams. Minnie Driver is another actress who is supremely talented. Every individual involved gets top marks.

Good Will Hunting is a fantastic movie, one I will no doubt watch again and again.
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Martyrs (2008)
5/10
im just not sure about this movie
2 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this movie last night, and Im still trying to get my head around what I seen. It really is an experience sitting through it and for that I respect what the director has done, but I just cant see myself sitting through it again or purchasing the DVD. As a horror, it definitely works. It has some truly horrific scenes throughout, and it definitely is NOT one for the faint hearted. So much takes place its hard to believe that its only just over 90 minutes.

Im a big fan of foreign films, and I was sold immediately by the great reviews Martyrs received. But this film goes in so many directions, and at times is really hard to watch. The torture scenes towards the end are really tough viewing, and the twist at the end will have you floored. A very weird movie that some will love, and some will hate. Im just not sure what I think of it.
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The Strangers (2008)
7/10
somehow it works
12 May 2009
If you were to ask me the one thing I hate about movies, my answer would be this: the amount of stupid horror films that are made nowadays. I think I've only ever seen one great horror movie, The Blair Witch Project, and I've been greatly disappointed over the amount of times I've sat down to a horror only to be left disappointed. So when I sat down to watch The Strangers, I wasn't very optimistic. But I was in for a surprise. Two lovers terrorised in an empty house. Doesn't sound great at all, but in some level, this film worked for me. Im not saying its a great movie, but I do think its a very good one. Some of the scenes are quite creepy and well done, and the suspense levels are very high for the majority of the film. All I can say is don't be put off by many of the negative reviews here, I would encourage you to watch it, because it is satisfying viewing. One of the best horrors I've seen in a while, just when I thought the genre was dead.
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The Wrestler (2008)
8/10
the toughest battles wait outside the ring
27 January 2009
The year may have just begun, but I am going to put my neck out and say that I may have already seen the best 09' has to offer. The best films are the one's where you sit watching and you genuinely care what is going to happen to the people in the film. You feel like you are looking at events in at the life of someone you know or are rooting for. The Wrestler is one of those movies. Quite simply, it is a touching, phenomenal look at a very troubled life. Non-wrestling fans DO NOT be put off, this is a movie everyone should see. Randy ''The Ram'' Robinson had it all as a wrestler in the 80's. He was at the very pinnacle of sports entertainment and was adored by wrestling fans world wide. The start of the movie outlines this with some of the highlights of Randy's career shown in magazine cut outs and photos. One of the aspects I enjoyed most about the movie was the way it portrayed the sport of wrestling. What annoys me is that a lot of people consider wrestling just to be costumes and 'fake' punches, but it's a lot more than that, and I hope after seeing this movie you'll agree. The present day, is a different story for The Ram. Twenty years later, and Randy is working in the Independent Wrestling World, with no money, relationship problems, a drug habit, and he has just been evicted from his trailer. Mickey Rourke, who is known to have his own troubled life, was probably made for this role, and his performance is dare say Oscar worthy. The film at times is like watching a real life documentary; such is the scale of the performance from Rourke. The toughest battle in the life of Robinson is one more severe than anything he has ever faced in the ring, his attempt at reconciling with his daughter. So after a near fatal heart attack, with the help of single mother/stripper Cassidy (Marissa Tomei), Randy bids to win back the trust of Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), who has shut her father out of her life. The Wrestler was made with a small budget, but with a very big heart. Touching story, terrific performances, it's a movie you'll be happy to have a rematch with again and again.
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Funny Games (2007)
5/10
very hard to like this movie
4 January 2009
After the first five minutes of this movie I got the feeling that I would not be happy by the end of it. That doesn't happen with me all that often, I usually always give the film Im watching a chance. And maybe it was what I knew before seeing the film was what brought this judgement on.

For a start, its the same director making the same film over again. I thought why? Whats the point? Easy way to make more money I suppose. Second, and this has always bugged me, it's just a movie about torture. Whats the reason behind it? There's no thought behind it, 'lets just beat people up for 90 minutes'. Anybody with a camera could do that. I mean I appreciate some movies that try to make a point of violent issues in the world, but 'Funny Games' just doesn't make that point in a thought provoking way.

It tells the story of a family who are held hostage at home by two twisted guys. Simple as that. They begin by killing the dog with a golf club. The whole scene leading up to Naomi Watts finding the dog in the boot of her car just looked silly to me and not very believable. I wasn't a fan of Watts in King Kong, and she isn't that great here, but in 21 Grams for example she was excellent, so I can only describe her as inconsistent.

As the movie progresses, the two men continue their torture of the family, with the husband unable to do much about it after having his leg taken out by a golf club. In the role of the husband is Tim Roth, who is poor in this movie, barely any lines and a terrible contrast to the likes of performances seen in Pulp fiction and Reservoir Dogs.

'Funny Games' is a little creepy in points, and hey, some of you may enjoy it, but it just bugged me. I didn't feel anything after I watched it, and thats what you need from a film. A poor mans 'A Clockwork Orange' if you ask me.
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7/10
did the director read the whole book?
12 November 2008
There have been some films that have done the books justice. Top of my head, The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption were turned into great films. And while Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire isn't a complete waste of a movie, as an avid fan of the books, I have to say I was disappointed.

The film begins with Harry having a nightmare which I wont go into detail about here, as it is a key scene in the movie. Harry and Hermione are staying with the Weasleys, as they are going to watch the final of the Quidditch World Cup between Ireland and Bulgaria. It is at the final where the first significant part of the movie takes place, with those attending the match attacked by death eaters and Voldermorts symbol, 'The Dark Mark', appearing in the sky.

So, with the wizard world in a state of panic over the appearance of the symbol, Harry, Hermione and Ron return to Hogwarts for their third year. Upon their arrival they are met with the announcement that Hogwarts has been chosen to host the Triwizards Tournament, and that pupils form two other schools, Drumstang and Beuxbaton, will also be taking part.

The tournament involves three dangerous tasks, and despite not entering the competition, Harry is chosen as one of the competitors. All three tasks test Harry to the limit, not least the final task, which leads to a shocking conclusion.

A good film overall, but a lot was left out from the book which I felt would have made the film even better.
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7/10
Innocence meets evil
25 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It has been thus far a fantastic year for film. We've had the return of the Caped Crusader, and seen a gigantic monster attack New York City.

It's very likely that everyone will remember 2008 as the year of The Dark Knight and Cloverfield, but with The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, we have a film I feel deserves to stand aside these two Hollywood blockbusters.

There have been many films based on the Holocaust over the years, most notably Schindler's List, and many people will feel that maybe they've seen enough of one of the darkest chapters in human history. But The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very different to its predecessors.

Based on the best-selling novel by John Boyne, the film is told through the eyes of Bruno, a young German boy. Bruno's happy care free life is turned upside down when he's told he has to move from his home in Berlin to a desolate area on the outside of the city. What Bruno doesn't know is that his father, a German Commander, is being sent there to take charge of a Concentration Camp, which is holding many innocent Jews as prisoners. Bruno quickly becomes subdued and bored with his new surroundings, where there isn't too much exploring to be done and no one to play with- until he meets Shmuel.

Shmuel is one of the prisoners being held at the camp and he and Bruno quickly strike a friendship. The connection between the two boys is a touching contrast from what is taking place all around them, but the friendship becomes more and more dangerous for the two youngsters with inevitable tragic consequences.

Despite not having the scale of film making that Spielberg produced in Schindler's List, this is a film that is very well made. It features some fantastic cinematography, and has great acting all around, especially from Bruno's mother (played by Vera Farminga, from the Oscar winning The Departed). The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is touching, shocking, horrific and tragic rolled into one. It is the story of innocence up against one of the world's greatest tragedies. One that will have you talking long after the credits have rolled.
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The Departed (2006)
8/10
''give me that Oscar''
5 August 2008
As Martin Scorsese collected the Best Director Oscar for The Departed he jokingly began his speech by asking 'Could you check the envelope again??' This came after an extended show of respect from the crowd for a man who should have walked those steps many years ago. It is a fact of life that you aren't going to win every time. But to not win at all with movies like Taxi Driver, Casino, and especially Goodfellas, well, thats just an injustice. As his name was called out it seemed a collective sigh of relief swept over the film industry as finally the man who has battled long and hard collected his award.

Scorsese stepped outside his gangster film making home last time out to tackle the biopic with 'The Aviator', with mixed reviews. Although not a bad film, it wasn't the Scorsese we've come to know, and it was time to get back to basics in the search for that elusive Oscar.

'The Departed' tells the story of two men from opposite sides of the law ,undercover within the Massachusetts State Police and the Irish mafia. The State Police's aim, led by Detectives Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) and Queenan (Martin Sheen), is to take down Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), who has been terrorising the City for years. Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), is assigned the unattractive role of going undercover in attempt to do so. Costello's hand is made up of Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), who is his mole in the Police Department. To add to the tension, both Sullivan and Costigan fall for the same girl, shrink Madolyn (Vera Farmiga). The story is as intriguing as it gets, and the acting is superb on all corners, including the terrific Alec Baldwin.

Jack Nicholson is immense, DiCaprios improvement away from the bay faced actor continues, and Damon is one of the best actors around full stop. My only annoyance is that Robert De Niro, a man who has forged a great partnership with Scorsese over the years, didn't feature in the film that finally got the great man an Oscar.
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7/10
Enjoyable but there are better
1 August 2008
If you are a collector of all things U2, then you will want to buy this DVD. If, on the other hand, you were wanting to spend your money on the best, then Slane, Zoo TV and Popmart are better choices. But hey, this is still a pretty good watch.

It is a fair comment, most would agree, that U2 put on the best live shows. Bono has been quoted on many occasions saying that 'live is where the band lives.' Now a lot of factors go into making these great shows but one that sticks out down the years are the concert openers. 'I Will Follow', 'Where The Streets Have No Name', 'Mofo' etc, are all great ways to kick off the show. And this trend continues here with the majestic 'City of Blinding Lights' in which it is declared that everyone looks 'So Beautiful Tonight'. In what also could have been an opener that night (it was on the European leg of the tour) is what comes next- the highly energetic 'Vertigo', which leaves the crowd jumping for joy and sets up 'Elevation' nicely.

Then the band rewind 20 plus years and play an unbelievable version of 'Electric Co'. Watching The Edge during this song is great as he plays terrificly well. What is a little disappointing for me, and this happens in different parts of the show, is that the crowd goes a little bit stale, during the earlier hits. I mean I don't mind new U2 fans, but there are many there in the audience who I bet only owned the Greatest Hits CD's. This staleness continues through a classic like 'Miracle Drug' where I even saw people leaving their seats!! I mean come on people, enjoy it!!

The crowd do eventually get back off their seats during the fantastic 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', although it is a bit soured halfway through with Bono doing his thing. Each to their own as they say. The second part of the show is the strongest with an emotional 'Running To Stand Still' being followed by 'Pride', 'Streets' and 'One'.

What is so great about the show as a whole are the different depths. So after a speech about making poverty history we are then treated to that fantastic opening of 'Zoo Station', followed by one of the bands best ever songs 'The Fly'.

The show finishes with all areas covered. A few more from 'Bomb' and then the classic '40' to finish the show, with each member of the band leaving the stage individually, which is very touching.

Overall, this isn't the bands greatest ever live show, but it is a very good one. The set list is amazing with hits young and old, but the crowd are a bit of a let down. (Youtube footage of the gigs from Croke Park and Brazil and you'll catch my drift.) But, it is not a waste of money and you will watch it again and again.
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The Orphanage (2007)
4/10
big let down
1 August 2008
I've always been a fan of foreign language films. And, I've also been a fan of horror films. So I was really looking forward to The Orphanage as I felt that the film had the potential to be a great thrill fest.

But despite this, I was left thinking what might have been and slightly baffled as to why this film was such a let down. Directed by Spanish first timer Juan Antonio Bayona, the film see's Laura, who grew up an orphan herself, raising her adopted son Simón with her husband Carlos in an old house and former orphanage where she was raised. Simón is HIV positive, and both parents hope that the boy can settle in well to his new surroundings. All seems to be going well until Simon tells Laura that he has five invisible friends. Taking on her husbands advice that their son is only trying to escape boredom by inventing these 'friends', Laura laughs off her sons comment and seems happy to play along with it. But in true horror movie style, things start to go 'bump in the night', and Laura begins to wonder if in fact, they are alone. And on the day that she officially re-opens the orphanage for disabled children, Simon is kidnapped, which leads his parents and the police on to a wild goose chase in the hope of his safe return. It all sounds like a great premise to a good movie, and while the Orphanage isn't all that bad, there are quite simply not enough big moments in the film to warrant it a five star rating. Many of the supposed edge of your seat scenes are a let down, the creepy old woman, who for some reason feels that she would be useful with a shovel, is just annoying, and the film goes for long sequences that produce absolutely nothing.

I do have to give credit where it's due though. Belena Rueda, who plays Laura, is terrific throughout, and some of the cinematography is excellent, but folks, if you want a good spooky story about a haunted house, go rent The Others again.
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9/10
Close the betting on the Oscars
24 July 2008
Best Film 2008: The Dark Knight, Best Director: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight, Best Actor: Heath Ledger, The Joker, The Dark Knight.

Well, those will be the Oscar results if there's any justice. The Superhero has always been a huge genre in the film world, and The Dark Knight sets the bar way way high. I would like to begin this review by talking about Christopher Nolan. Batman and Batman returns were good movies. Then what followed were Jim Carey, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Tommy Lee Jones etc etc doing their almighty best to ruin Batman. Movies that were just about making huge amounts of money and not giving a damn about the history of Batman. But thanks to Nolan, Batman has reached the top of the mountain as the best superhero out there.

Following on from the outstanding Batman Begins, this film was always going to have a tough job to make Batman even better. We rejoin the Bat (Christian Bale) as he continues his fight against the mob who have gained a new friend. And his name's The Joker (Heath Ledger), the greatest villain of this generation. Which brings me to Heath Ledger. Now after his death in January of this year, many pessimists will use that as the sole reason as to why everyone was so impressed with his performance. But, quite simply, Ledger is fantastic. Evil, arrogant and downright hilarious, he makes The Joker role his own.

Batman appears to have gained his own friend in charismatic Distric Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhat). Dent is an elected official who is determined to stamp out crime in Gotham City. Both have Commissioner Gordon on their side, played by the terrific Gary Oldman, and are both battling for the heart of Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

The Dark Knight is an amazing spectacle. Every performance is fantastic (a big shout out also to Michael Caine who is terrific again as Alfred), the action scenes are immense, and the direction of Nolan immense. The film, at a length of over 2 hours, flies by, and once the credits roll you'll be disappointed its all over- after you've finished applauding that is.

Quite simply: fantastic.
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Cloverfield (2008)
8/10
a film for those with an imagination.......
27 June 2008
Do you like films with realistic story lines where everything is sorted at the end? If you do, then DON'T see Cloverfield. If you like films that take your breath away and have you talking about it for weeks after, then DO see Cloverfield. I, for one, thought that this was one of the best movies I had seen in a long time. It's so easy to get bored with a film and lose interest in it these days. This doesn't happen in Cloverfield (well, after the first twenty minutes anyway).

The film is all filmed hand-held. The last time that happened with good results with 'The Blair Witch Project'. It opens with the two main characters Rob and Beth enjoying a fun day. It then skips to a going away party for Rob a few months after. Rob is going to Japan as part of a job promotion. But whats dominating his thoughts that night is the fact that the love of his life Beth is now with somebody else. So while Robs best friend Hud is having people record going away messages for Rob, Rob and Beth are arguing which leads to Beth leaving the party.

I know it sounds all very Dawsons Creek, but bear with it. Out of nowhere, the party is interrupted by a bang and the lights go out. Everyone is a little bit shaken up but appear to calm down after the media reports it as a 'small earth quake'. Then the Statue of Liberty's head is knocked down the street and the whole City is faced with something they never thought possible.

This is when the adrenaline begins to rise. You will watch Rob's, Beth's, Marlena's and Hud's search for safety as if you were there with them. It's an edge of your seat thrill ride that you wont be able to take your eyes off.

In the months leading up to the release of Cloverfield, director JJ Abrahams of 'Lost' fame released many a teaser without giving too much away. What a stroke of genius. It all added to the mystery of the movie and was the perfect way to advertise it.

The tag line reads- 'Some Thing has Found Us'- yes it certainly has. A fresh new type of movie that I loved.
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U2's Beautiful Day (2002 Video)
9/10
a sort of homecoming. a sort of wonder.
18 April 2008
I own many U2 DVD's. I own all of U2's albums. I have plenty of t-shirts, posters etc. If my house was burning down and I had to grab one of these U2 items, it would be this DVD (just edging out Achtung Baby).

The Elevation Tour was again a hugely successful tour for U2. Demand for the homecoming from fans resulted in Slane being played over two nights fpr the first time in its history.

Despite playing around the world, this gig stands out- for two reasons. One- the boys had come home, to play in front of 80,000 people. Two, this concert came closely after the death of Bono's father. So the emotion was high as the boys stepped onto the stage like Kings taking their place on their throne. Then its time to sit back in amazement as Bono, Larry, Adam and Edge do what they do better than anyone- play live.

Playing hits young and old, this is quite a show. Kicking off with the perfect start, 'Elevation', everyone in the audience screaming 'ooooooohhhhh',- not their best lyrically, but up there without a doubt with other great concert openers like Zoo Station.

U2 then move on to an unbelievable performance of 'Beautiful Day'. A personal live favorite of mine, 'Until the End of the World' comes next, and is followed by the fantastic 'New Years Day'. The first real touching moment comes during the bands first single 'Out of Control', where Bono pronounces the Slane crowd as 'our tribe' and thanks them all for their support over the years.

Other highlights of the show are 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' and the song 'Kite', which Bono dedicates to his late father Bob Hewson. But for me, the stand out performance is 'All I Want is You', leading into 'Where The Streets Have No Name.' Quite simply its magical.

They're magical.

This is a DVD that any U2 fan will probably have already. But if you don't- go get it right now!!
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8/10
watch it..... then watch it again
13 April 2008
We have all seen the Rocky films, and we have all seen Raging Bull. Million Dollar Baby, directed by Clint Eastwood, deserves to sit alongside these terrific boxing films. Great cast, great story, and great direction from Eastwood.

When I first sat down to watch this movie I thought that it was just going to be very similar to Rocky, with a girl making her way to the top. But its so much more than that. The film is a powerful and moving experience to sit through.

Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood), is an experienced and successful Boxing trainer who runs a training gym with long time friend 'Scrap' (Morgan Freeman). Although Frankie appears to be a tough strict, man, he is secretly hiding a heartbreak involving his daughter, who he has made a lot of failed attempts to get in contact with her over the years. Oh yeah, and he 'doesn't train girls'. His work and lack of faith are the two main elements of his life, until Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) walks into his gym.

Admiring Maggies work rate and attitude, Frankie eventually takes Maggie under his wing, beginning a relationship that see's Frankie develop her into a terrific boxer. The pairs relationship grows and it becomes clear that Frankie may have found the long lost daughter he's been looking for. The two are all each other have, and one horrific incident results in them facing a battle tougher than what they could ever face in a boxing ring.

I couldn't take my eyes off this movie and I was very moved by the performances. Easily a film you will watch again and again.
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Mean Creek (2004)
7/10
The actors make this a very good film about how fragile childhood can be.
12 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is a relatively short film at just over 80 minutes long. But when it is done, you feel like you have followed the people in the movie for a far longer period of time. It is an absorbing, tension filled, emotional roller-coaster ride, and the whole cast are great.

George is the school bully. This seems like a cliché for a film that focuses on youngsters. But we soon learn that he is a kid with a lot of problems. After he beats up Sam, the time for George to be put in his place arrives. So Sam, along with brother Rocky, Clyde, and Marty, hatch a plan that will see George forced to jump in the river during a boat trip and have to run home naked. Another member of the group, Millie, played by the excellent Carly Schroeder, is reluctant to go along with the plan.

As the boating trip progresses, the group eventually see that George isn't the bully he appears to be. So the whole joke is called off, and we see them continue with the trip by doing what youngsters should do everyday of their lives, having fun and enjoying themselves.

But in an instant everything changes. A moment of madness effectively ends a childhood and the groups lives are changed forever.

I think everyone should watch this film, they will go away with something to think about. And the film will stay with you for a long time.
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6/10
surprisingly enjoyable
17 January 2008
I watched this movie last night and had low expectations. Basically I don't think much of the horror genre these days as I haven't really seen a good one since The Blair Witch Project. But I have always been a fan of courtroom dramas and thats probably why I enjoyed this movie.

The film circles around a female lawyer (Laura Linney),defending a priest (Tom Wilkinson), who is seen as responsible for the death of Emily Rose (Jennifer Rose) during an unsuccessful exorcism.

Throughout the film we are shown flashbacks of what Emily went through when she became 'possessed'. There are some very good scenes that show the torment she goes through and may scare you a bit.

Some scenes of the movie are beautifully shot, for example the end scene with the fog.

I think all the main cast played their roles very well but Tom Wilkinson stood out for me, the man is a very good actor.

So while I don't consider this film to be an all time great, it still makes very good viewing and is definitely worth watching.
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7/10
scariest film ever
10 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Forget Halloween. Forget Scream. Forget even the Exorcist. This is the best Horror film ever made, quite simply because, whether you like to admit it or not, it creeps you out.

I remember the night my brother and cousin went to see it in the cinema, and afterwards, my cousin who is in his twenties, didn't want to walk home by himself.

This is a film that takes one of the most obvious horror stereotypes- the big bad witch- removes all the cheesiness of 90% of the horrors we see nowadays- and replaces it with a brilliantly made movie that scared the bejesus outta me.

Its simple really- three film makers- Heather, Josh, and Mike- make their way into the woods to make a documentary about the legend of the Blair Witch.

What begins as an enjoyable film making experience quickly turns into something different as they face a terrifying experience, lost in the woods with SOMETHING after them.

What I liked most about the film is that its shot in a documentary style, every moment of their terrifying experience is seen first hand. The two directors promoted the film by saying it was real footage- and you forget at times that its just a film.

There are some real terrifying moments. The discovery of that now famous Blair Witch symbol hanging from the trees, to the tent shaking, and then the final scene in the house.

I believe that this is how a horror film should be made. No big breasted dumbass running up the stairs instead of the safety of the front door to escape the clutches of a crazed serial killer. What the directors have done here is they have taken a genuine fear for some people- lost in the woods- and played on it in the scariest way possible.

I don't think that this film has the rating it deserves on IMDb. I doubt I'll ever see a horror like it again also.
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Once (2007)
9/10
see it more than once
8 January 2008
There are very few films that will make you want to watch it again straight after the credits roll. Thats the difference between a good film and a great film. And Once is certainly a great film. Great music, great, simple story and wonderful performances.

What makes this film even more extraordinary is that it stars musicians, not actors. But looking at the film, you would think Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard had been acting for years. Such was the chemistry between the two in the film, they are now actually a couple.

Once is set in Dublin and tells the story of a busker who meets a young immigrant. They quickly become drawn together through music and personal problems which sets the stage for a moving, funny, and endlessly watchable film which I cant recommend highly enough.
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7/10
a film that every parent and teen should see
8 January 2008
There are films that tell you nothing. There are films that will make you laugh but have no real meaning, and there are films that have meaning but will leave you somewhat depressed afterwards. The Breakfast Club is different. This is a film that will make you laugh, think, cry, and laugh some more. I only saw this film for the first time last year and kicked myself for not seeing it sooner. It is a fantastic film about the pressures that every teenager will have to face in their lifetime, a film that will bring up a problem that anyone watching can relate to one way or the other.

I for one like a film with a simple storyline, and this one has a pretty simple one. Five teenagers are forced to spend a Saturday in detention. Simple as that. But these five youngsters are very different from one another.

Andrew Clark- The tough guy who thrives to be the best; Brian Johnson- The Grade A student. John Bender- The loud mouth nuisance. Molly Ringwald- The Prom Queen, and Ally Sheedy- the weirdo.

5 very different people. One classroom, and a hard nosed teacher to deal with. They begin the day clearly frustrated at the thought of spending a Saturday with one another, but by the end their lives will have changed forever and they will realise that they are not so different.

Overall, this is a funny and touching movie that you will be happy to watch over and over again.
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A Way of Life (2004)
a remarkable achievement
25 November 2004
A Way of Life

I was not prepared for what I seen in this film. I went into this with the impression that it was going to be some movie about struggling teenagers who turn out alright in the end. I thought that I would leave the cinema saying, 'well…that was nothing special.' I was completely wrong. It was one of the best films I've seen all year. Directed by first timer Amma Asante, it is the harsh truth of the state of lower class citizens, one of the most important messages ever sent out of a film. You will leave more determined to be a better parent in the future.

The film draws you in straight away as it begins with a gang of teenagers physically assaulting a middle aged man in the middle of the street. The ferociousness of the beating their giving out made me sit up straight away and take notice. The film then travels back to the events leading up to this attack.

At the beginning we are introduced to Leigh-Anne (Stephanie James). Leigh-Anne is a frustrated, angry teenage mother living in a council flat with no electricity. Her mother killed herself when Leigh was just a child and she also, along with her brother, suffered constant abuse form her father. So with only her brother and his two friends to support her, and with very little income coming in, times are hard for Leigh. Her only reason for living is her daughter Rebecca, and she will do anything, literally, to protect her. Her Grandmother Annette (Brenda Blethyn) feels that she would be more suited to look after Rebecca, which leads to several run ins between the two. Annette isn't the only person she has trouble with, due to her jealousy and racist standpoint, Leigh is involved in constant confrontations with Turk Hassan Osman (Oliver Haden). Another reason for this hatred towards Osman is Leigh is jealous of the relationship he has with his daughter Julie (Sara Gregory).

In one scene we see an example of the lengths Rebecca will go to help her daughter- no matter how brutal. She acts as a pimp to gain £30 off a man who comes looking for sexual service. Rather than have sex with the man herself, she convinces a girl younger than herself, to seal the deal. "Just open your legs and let him do the rest'. It is one of the most startling and shocking scenes of the film.

Leigh's brother Gavin (Nathan Jones), and his two friends Robbie (Gary Sheppeard) and Stephen (Dean Wong), are always there for Leigh. But that usually involves crime and anti-social behaviour. The four of them as a group run riot and it's when they are together we see that despite being a committed mother, Leigh is far from an innocent little girl.

Leigh is regularly visited by a social worker (Marged Esli), and after seeing her chatting to hated neighbour Hassan, she is convinced that Osman is plotting to get her baby taken away from her. One of the most significant parts of the film is when baby Julie is burned by a candle at home. This leads to a string of events that leads to the tragedy that we caught a glimpse of at the start. The aftermath of this is even more tragic.

This is a film that will leave you thinking of the youth out there today and have you deciding whether or not you sympathies with Leigh Anne. I didn't.

All the cast in this film played their roles very well but for me Stephanie James, in the role of Leigh-Anne, stood out for me. Not because she was the lead character but due to the fact that for someone making her on-screen debut and performing so well, I feel that that takes a lot and I'm pretty sure this will not be the last we see of her.

Overall I feel that this is a must see film for all ages of 15 and up, I felt that it should have had an 18 certificate, if not for its stance as a very good movie, but for it's importance.
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a beautiful piece of film making
24 November 2004
Girl With a Pear Earring

After deciding that I would go see this movie I thought it would be a good idea to see what other people thought of it. No reason why, I just did. I asked several people and got a mixed reaction. Some said it was good, some said it was boring. One other said that it was beautiful. So I went in to see it without a clear, concrete view of what to expect. It was only a pound anyway. After watching it I felt satisfied, I thought that it was a pretty good film. The film is brilliantly shot by director Peter Webber, who in his debut has mixed love, history, and art to produce a great portrayal of love that can never be.

The main reason I liked this film was the cinematography. The film looks like a painting, thanks to the brilliant work of Eduardo Serra. Credit must also go to Ben Van Os for his production design. They have helped the film gain the credit it has received.

The film is set in 17th Century Holland, were 17 year old Griet is sent to work as a servant after her father suffers an accident that leaves him unable to work. She is taken into the Veermeer's household, where she gradually becomes unpopular with the artists (Colin Firth) wife and daughter, due to the relationship that grows between herself and the artist. In fact, Griet soon becomes the object of several men's desires, most notably Veermeer's patron (Tom Wilkinson), and the butcher's son

(Cillian Murphy).

The trouble begins for Griet when Veermeer places her as the forefront for his next painting, to be given to Van Rjuiven (Wilkinson), much to the protests of his wife among others. Veermeer becomes fascinated with Griet, and is desperate to secretly paint her wearing his wife's Pearl Earrings. Griet is reluctant to begin with, but as the pairs relationship grows, she agrees. A masterstroke by the director is how he shows their relationship growing, mostly through art. The scene with Veermeer piercing Griet's ears is one of the more important parts of the film. It is the closet reference to romance between the two. Griet quickly becomes the target of abuse from the others, most notably Van Rjuiven (Wilkinson), who becomes transfixed by her beauty, and wants to force himself on her so he can have something to remember every time he looks at the painting.

The story progresses slowly, which was annoying at times, but the cinematography, the acting, and the whole style of the film helps you through it.

Scarlett Johanssen gives a fantastic performance as Griet. She doesn't put a foot wrong with her shyness and expressing her feelings, which take a roller coaster ride throughout the film. She fits the painting well as her beauty shines through. Colin Firth, as Veermeer, also gives a good performance as the moody, frustrated painter who has finally found something with a spark in Griet. Tom Wilkinson is great as the old, ambitious and crude Van Rjuiven. Credit must also go to Judy Parffit and Cillian Murphy for their very good performances.

Overall I feel that this film will appeal to some. If you have patience with a film and are willing to look at the whole picture, you should like it. But if your one for straight forward films and don't have any patience, this isn't the one for you. I thought that it was a very good piece of film making.
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