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7/10
What a beautiful green those Southern Region trains are
22 October 2019
I have always liked this film and presented now on Blu-ray it shines as new with its wonderful late 50s, early 60s colour film. What a beautiful green those Southern Region trains are for the great opening gag while the advertising posters look almost unreal. Hancock is on top form, certainly in these early scenes with minimal dialogue and a hint of slapstick. Indeed for a good half the film is a joy to behold with marvellous photography and splendid exchanges between Hancock and, as good as she has ever been, Irene Handl. The film looses much in the scenes with the Greek millionaire, even if Margit Saad does as well as possible, as his wife and Hancock's prospective model. Everything returns to top form as we return to London and Handl does a complete reversal of her earlier part.
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9/10
packed with incident and foreboding
17 October 2019
This is a wonderful noir. Fritz lang's first of the genre and despite a rather awkward beginning and a truly awful ending this is fabulous all the way. So fabulous, indeed, that I can overlook the rather obvious start and the all too cosy finish for this is packed with incident and foreboding throughout. Edward G Robinson is great, no bumbling silliness here, simply a humble, intelligent and caring man contemplating killing. Joan Bennett is also great, a really stunning and nuanced performance whilst looking marvellous all the time. Raymond asset is most likeable in an odd role as he happily seduces his chums with murderous talk of imminent arrest while we and Edward G almost choke on our nightly tipple.
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7/10
a whiff of the existential
17 October 2019
I'm a little less enthusiastic about this second time around. A few years back it seems I said: A fine film with solid performances and strong driving force. Not particularly violent but assured with great look and super soundtrack. Nothing very outstanding but never a dull moment, its as if this is going nowhere but is unstoppable all the same. This seems a bit generous because to be honest for a film with such a slight story this is fairly confusing. That can only be due to lack of directorial/editorial skills and presumably must be down to the inexperienced Robert Hossein. The Frenchman brought his Angelique co-star Michele Mercier with him here and she is particularly effective. The film is usually mentioned in the context of it being French, despite being filmed in Algeria, Spain with Italian crew, and the involvement to a larger or lesser extent of Dario Argento (little bits of dialogue) and Sergio Leone ( a rather protracted dinner scene) but is probably best described as a tale of revenge that doesn't go where it should with a whiff of the existential hanging over proceedings.
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6/10
dressed up TV soap opera
12 October 2019
It's a while since I last saw this and it doesn't seem to have worn too well or maybe its me that hasn't worn so well. A real effort to stay with this, even if it does look good, because all the time we were twisting and turning or noting uninteresting 'clues', I knew that ultimately this goes nowhere. Is it just a pretentious cinematic exercise for the maker or is there really something here for the viewer? Hard to say but I don't think I'll be taking this trip again. I'm perfectly happy to have a puzzle to solve or a mystery to ponder but I'm beginning to think that some of this director's work is mere self indulgence. Obviously while there are happy travellers he can continue but I think this may just be dressed up TV soap opera.
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The Addiction (1995)
8/10
Truly horrible but essential viewing
11 October 2019
From the shadowy, rain soaked and nourish New York streets at the opening until the even darker and horrifying denouement, this uncompromising, thoughtful but ghastly tale is told with typical Ferrara vigour. There are moments of beauty in the blackness but overall this is a darkly pessimistic and even gruelling hour and a half. Lili Taylor does very well as she switches from victim to aggressor and back again whilst Christopher Walked, the cameo specialist extraordinaire, excels himself here with a most remarkable and scary performance. Truly horrible but essential viewing as a great example of the completely original cinema of Abel Ferrara.
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The Stuff (1985)
6/10
From the off, I found myself at odds with this
9 October 2019
From the off, I found myself at odds with this, so maybe it was just my mood but line after line passed me by. The dialogue seemed at once unrealistic and juvenile. As the movie progressed I found myself being partially engaged and then alienated with over obvious, almost facile digs at consumerism, addiction and communism. By the end there were some good lines but largely hidden beneath the gooey mass of crass ones. Incidentally mention has ben made of the 'stuff' itself, which is fairly well represented but not green on my Blu-ray as some have suggested, on there it is very white.
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Withnail & I (1987)
8/10
still funny, if a little sad, with very well written dialogue.
7 October 2019
Nothing of note I can add to what has already been said of this film over the years. Suffice to say it is still funny, if a little sad, with very well written dialogue. Performances are all spot on, some uncannily so and it is difficult to remember while watching that this was made some twenty years after the period depicted. I am aware that there is a drinking game sprung up to accompany this but have to say this is not a joyous film and can only imagine any prolonged drinking alongside might prove to be a rather depressing affair.
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Heathers (1988)
8/10
free yourself of political correctness just for 100 minutes
4 October 2019
This has something of the look and feel of a John Waters picture but is more concerned with satire than outrage, outrageous though it nevertheless is. Yet another modern film that we know could not be made today because of the overly concerned consideration for all and sundry. Great though this is, it is not something to sit back and roar with laughter at because it is just too uncomfortable. These may be justifiable targets but we don't feel able any more to be so be so upfront. For good or bad we have lost the ability or inclination to laugh at the foolish. Here though full reign is given to tackling the bullies and hypocrites, the self righteous and the pretentious and only 20 years ago that was considered a jolly good thing. Adjust your contemporary mindset, free yourself of political correctness just for 100 minutes and enjoy this Winona Ryder and Christian Slater classic from Michael Lehmann - and don't miss the innovative synthesiser soundtrack.
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Separation (1968)
7/10
it would be possible to date this film from almost any frame
4 October 2019
Very much of its time, this Jane Arden project, directed by Jack Bond may perplex today's viewers but was one of several similar experimental films in the late 60s that tried to find new ways, visually, to tell a story. Crisp and arty black and white photography is supplemented here and there by stunning full colour liquid light creations by Mark Boyle. Though the film barely has a linear structure it holds the attention through the beautiful images and somewhat disturbing repeated lines of dialogue. There may not be as many elements of 'swinging London' as some would like but the film as a whole is a striking example and I would have thought that it would be possible to date this film from almost any frame. On a point of order, it has been mentioned that the park seen a few times might be Maryon Park, in Charlton, South London, the park used by Antonioni in Blow Up. This is clearly not so and my guess would be Holland Park.
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7/10
The White Bus remains the most competent and fine looking film
2 October 2019
This is a rather confusing situation in that generally it is held that Red White and Zero was a three part film with the involvement of Peter Brook, Lindsay Anderson and Tony Richardson as directors with only Anderson's White Bus segment being completed. Yet here we have a BFI release claiming discovery of the completed portmanteau film yet there are clearly three senate films complete with individual credits. Be all that as may be the Brook segment featuring Zero Mostel is a very 60s slapstick/surreal effort that barely succeeds and the luscious looking short film featuring Vanessa Redgrave (sort of) singing and cavorting about is not terrible but cries out for the participation of Jeanne Moreau, for whom it was originally intended, before Richardson switched ladies. The White Bus remains the most competent and fine looking film displaying the wonders of industrial Manchester in a jokey visitor tour that ironically probably does take place today. As might be expected, as well as the splendid photography we get social comment and politics mixed in with a fondness for the English rural landscape and a humane picture of life of the common man (or woman as rather surprisingly here presented).
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Hussy (1980)
9/10
Solid script, competent direction, great performances and wonderful settings make this an essential view.
1 October 2019
Much underrated and sadly, little seen seedy gem. Low budget so lots of location shooting, always good, especially in London and if a little rough around the edges, all the better. Helen Mirren gives a gutsy and convincing performance in what is a surprisingly convincing glimpse of the sleazier side of late 70s London. She would play a rather more glossy version of the fancied girl on the edge of the underworld in the following year's Long Good Friday but even in that fine film we do not see a finer performance than here. Matthew Chapman does well with his limited funds and gets decent performances from everyone including the child and surely one of the most menacing bad guys in cinema. Paul Angelis, who worked mainly in TV but famously voiced parts for Yellow Submarine, switches deftly between friendly and fearsome as a psychotic criminal strong man and coming between the two main protagonists. Solid script, competent direction, great performances and wonderful settings make this an essential view.
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The Club (2015)
8/10
Grim but essential viewing for anyone not fully aware of just how terrible and just how widespread and all consuming these practices were (are!!).
10 September 2019
My, this is one forthright and uncompromising. One reviewer suggested this was one club he did not wish to be a member of - what an understatement! Set in a godforsaken western coastal town in Chile, the muted colours and dulled visuals match the dour subject matter, if not the depths of degradation and abuse of power depicted here. Verbal depiction only, thank goodness, as this awful tale of bad catholic priests, really bad catholic priests and barely believably bad catholic priests, unfolds in a house for the repentant sinners. Except they are not repentant at all and seem to view their living quarters as some vaguely inconvenient holiday home. A devastating film of crimes against children made all the worse for the winging and wining manner that the various 'inmates' justify or even boast of their appalling past activities. Grim but essential viewing for anyone not fully aware of just how terrible and just how widespread and all consuming these practices were (are!!).
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8/10
A unique film but an uncomfortable watch.
9 September 2019
I recall watching this in the cinema and enjoying it but a re-watch seemed to catch me unawares. Maybe it was the mood I was in but this time instead of being an interesting backroom take on my beloved gallo films it seemed a much more sinister affair. How could I not have noticed the first time how unpleasant it is, how nasty everyone seems to be and how alienating it all is? A powerful film, set almost exclusively in a sound studio, purportedly in Italy, though actually the nearby Three Mills Island set up. Almost everything I remember finding intriguing, this time took on a much more malevolent tone. The screaming ladies who can't get the right scream, the smashing of the vegetables, the switching between languages, the unfriendly 'friendly' intimacies, and the undertones of there being something rotten (apart from the decaying vegetables) within Italian society, at the time. A unique film but an uncomfortable watch.
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6/10
fantasist and fanatical fans
5 September 2019
To achieve fame despite lacking much in the way of talent is remarkably easy today with so many TV shows happy to exploit the young hopefuls. It was less so when this film was made almost 40 years ago but the number of people who spend an inordinate amount of their time and energy in putting others up on pedestals and adoring them is probably much the same. Here Scorsese mixes the two together and, while I'm not convinced this is very common, it is an interesting idea. And yet, how much drama or even comedy is there in watching De Niro play a pathological moron for over 100 minutes? I'm guessing if you have a thing for the guy then it works regardless but I was very surprised after having missed out on seeing this film until now, just how tedious it can be. There is a scene towards the end when Sandra Bernhard's character is really beginning to lose it, half naked with Jerry Lewis, and the picture bursts briefly into life before fading back out with such a dire finale. Nothing wrong with De Niro's performance, Bernhard's fluctuates rather but Jerry Lewis keeps his eye on the ball and gives a perfect rendition of the ageing star fed up with having to deal with his fantasist and fanatical fans.
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7/10
A most uncomfortable watch
5 September 2019
This was always going to be a problem for me. Not because it was a movie directed by Catherine Breillat and likely to be provocative and thought provoking and most certainly not because the star was Isabelle Huppert. My problem stems from the nature of the con man. And not even a problem with his actions but with those of the conned. Very few poor people get conned, what is the point? No, it is the rich, those with substantial monies. And a sense of greed. So, this film being based upon the real and terrible tale of Breillat falling for this crook and proceeding to passover hundreds of thousands is not for me a happy watch. it is well done and worth seeing if only for the most fantastic and convincing performance of Huppert. She is always good but here playing the besotted and paralysed 'unfortunate' who gets completely rolled over as she ignores friends and family, she is sensational. A most uncomfortable watch.
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Romance (1999)
8/10
a situation more usually encountered by a male
3 September 2019
This is a difficult film to watch and an even more difficult one to write about because there is an implied assumption that the work has been efficiently consumed as to make possible the conveyance of an indication to a third party just what the experience was like. The major difficulty in viewing the film is that the director is keen to question our fundamental beliefs as to the role of men and women in society and principally with regard to sexuality. One way she does this is put a woman, here, Caroline Ducey in a situation more usually encountered by a male. She wants sex, but her partner seems to be happy enough to be just a friend. Outside the house she is keen to try seeming extreme encounters to get herself off and can't reconcile her needs with her conception of what is 'normal'. Things become more simple (to understand, if not to watch) as she moves towards motherhood, and worse.
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7/10
David Carradine is the one who probably stopped me from going to sleep.
2 September 2019
I haven't seen the first Kill Bill since its theatrical release and this part, never. In the mood to look back at Tarantino's earlier films I came across a piece that suggested part 2 was far superior to part 1. I deduced that the first part would concentrate on the awful treatment metered out and a prolonged training process in readiness for revenge which would be part 2. This, it seems is only partly true with the first actually being much more a traditional QT product full of style and panache with the second much more interested in giving the characters background. Unfortunately, for me, this includes much martial arts mumbo jumbo and a rather drawn out film with little style. Michael Madsen is great, Thurman fine and David Carradine is the one who probably stopped me from going to sleep.
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Jackie Brown (1997)
10/10
what a pleasure it is to watch something as wonderful as this
2 September 2019
Having recently watched the glorious and faultless Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood (twice) it seemed apposite to re-watch my previous favourite Tarantino movie and see how it compares. And what a pleasure it is to watch something as wonderful as this after so many average films. Splendidly plotted, thanks to a large extent to the original Elmore Leonard book, Rum Punch, this traverses its considerable length with ease and panache. Once more I am struck just what fantastic performances QT seems to obtain. Pam Grier gives the performance of a lifetime (better even than her tremendous 1974 Foxy Brown turn) and she seems to grow in stature and presence as the film progresses. Robert Forster is perfect and a great balancing element between some towering and competing personalities. Robert DeNiro, of whom I am no great fan, here, surely gives his greatest ever performance and even Bridget Fonda is really good, bare feet and wiggly toes and all. Overall this may turn out to outlive the wonder of the latest film but for me, though this is still a stupendous film with great acting and good jokes it didn't have that 'makes me smile' factor the new film seems to have, for me anyway.
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In Fabric (2018)
9/10
the spookiness in the artifice of certain aspects of life
31 August 2019
Described as a funny ghost story, my first reaction after seeing it was to disagree yet on reflection this may be more accurate than one might suppose. A strange and beguiling film that draws one in despite rather than because of what we see. These are not our memories or obsessions, but those of Peter Strickland, yet so convincing can he be with the charm of his attractive red fabric and the associated shop mannikins and department store paraphernalia, as with the earlier The Duke of Burgandy, we are encouraged to participate. We are drawn into this dream/nightmare confection, so beautifully decorated and with perfect sound accompaniment courtesy of the Cavern of Anti-Matter. It is almost as if the infamous teller of ghost stories, M R James, were alive and setting his tale within the present day (well 1993 to be precise, actually) and once the 'strangeness' is accepted and we accept the spookiness in the artifice of certain aspects of life, almost anything is possible, as Mr Strickland most capably illustrates. From the machine that transports the money to the shop window mannikins and their peeping admirer and the 'unreal' but so real bank interrogators and the incessant retail business gobbledygook, this is a world, so familiar and yet so alien. Another sublime piece of film making from the director and it is sad that what makes it so stunning is what also makes it so hard to convey in words and encourage the big audience it deserves.
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5/10
certainly a brave attempt at something
29 August 2019
Somehow I feel I should have been able to enjoy this but there just seemed to be too many obstacles. The fact it is entirely in black & white is not a problem and the measured way it is shot need not have been problematic but I needed a little more to engage me early on. I felt alienated almost immediately. The folksy language is an immediate barrier and the seeming silliness a major difficulty. The film is pretentious and yet if I had become engaged with the characters instead of the opposite it might have been difficult. This is no doubt sexist but had there been at least one woman in the cast it might have been easier, the all boys together style can be confrontational. Whatever, not really for me but certainly a brave attempt at something, with great sky.
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Rear Window (1954)
7/10
I didn't think anything like as much of this as I always have before
24 August 2019
Well, well, I don't know if its because I've recently watched the sparkling and action packed and intriguing latest Tarantino movie or that the Blu-ray shows up the backyards as mere artifice BUT I didn't think anything like as much of this as I always have before. Clearly still a good film but rather drawn out and theatrical without, if truth be told, very much going on. James Stewart is fine but I've never been a fan of Grace Kelly. I assume Hitch felt that the claustrophobic affect of Stewart being stuck in his chair and us stuck watching him would increase the entire effect and I'm sure there was a time when this was so, bud sadly no longer.
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Blow Out (1981)
8/10
Most enjoyable and fairly tight thriller with echoes of The Conversation and Blow Up and shades of gialli
23 August 2019
Most enjoyable and fairly tight thriller with echoes of The Conversation and Blow Up and shades of gialli, complete with the flaunting of J&B whisky. Travolta is very good and it is a shame but his pretty sidekick, played by Nancy Allen (DePalma's wife at the time) is not quite as good. Nevertheless this is well done if a little over the top at times and the ending a little preposterous. Fantastic opening with girls auditioning for screaming role and dissatisfaction with wind affect leading to Travolta going out into the night to record new sounds, which turns out to be the crux of the movie.
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Pulp Fiction (1994)
9/10
more humour (just) and more cute dialogue than in the latest film
21 August 2019
I was prompted to watch this again after seeing the director's latest, Once Upon A Time ... in Hollywood. Clearly this earlier film was more innovative and likely more influential than the later film will prove to be. I find Once Upon A Time a more enjoyable watch but the significance and importance of this is undeniable. Twenty-five years on and the groundbreaking affect it has had on Hollywood makes it easy to forget just how revolutionary this street talking, time lapsing, audacious film was. Everyone is great, even Tim Roth and Jackson, Keitel, Willis, Travolta and Thurman all excel. All the scenes, effectively split and mixed are good and the diner bookends a genius idea. There is more humour (just) and more cute dialogue than in the latest film but for me this is, inevitably, a slightly less mature work with the fantastic editing covering the odd rough spot.
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7/10
my favourite Wes Craven
19 August 2019
This has always been my favourite Wes Craven but it is not without its problems. The wonderful Haiti/Dominican Republic settings are even more exotic and colourful on the Blu-ray and a real sense of menace is skilfully engineered but there is something rather lacklustre about Cathy Tyson's performance. This was her second film after she had made such an impact in Mona Lisa, but she is asked to do so much more here, probably in less than ideal circumstances. An early screen performance for Bill Pullman too, a very strange choice as lead for at this stage he seems to have very little stage presence. I think the script too a little lacking but having said all that after the first half hour or so as things pick up there are plenty of surreal and terrifying visions and threats to keep things rolling.
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Lost Highway (1997)
8/10
femme fatale like mermaids with long legs and criminal minds
18 August 2019
Just watched this again, this time on Blu-ray, so everything is much clearer, brighter and easier to understand.... Truth is everyone likes a good mystery, something to get ones teeth into and solve in our own way. Trouble is with most such tales the writer tends to start with the answer and work back to provide the maze for us to negotiate and this can be predictable. Some have suggested Lynch himself may not be fully able to explain every element of this wondrous experience and what a marvellous notion that it. Certainly this is so beautifully directed with everything looking so angular and surreal with, of course, perfect audio accompaniment. Like a dream this seems to make perfect sense and then veers off and like some nightmare lurches away from our happy path. The portrayal here of seeming innocent and sexy women as femme fatale like mermaids with long legs and criminal minds is slightly concerning, even if both are played by the delectable Patricia Arquette. And just who is that imp like devil creature but yet another bad man awaiting his fate? No simple tale, yet hardly very complicated either and whilst some dreams seem to last a lifetime but are only 20 minutes, so this at some two hours plus rushes by at the most leisurely of paces.
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