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Macbeth (1971)
7/10
A bold and bloody version
25 March 2019
A bold and bloody version but I wasn't too impressed with the two leads being so young. For me this totally undermined the domineering position of Lady Macbeth we are so used to and made the central plank of a not very interesting play even less so. Yes, the mystical prophesies are still attractive elements, even if Polanski's Birnham Wood to Dunsinane looks more like a bunch of people carrying Christmas trees. And, it has to be said that the witches are really great. It would have been good if more of the play could have been been opened up and made more interesting in this way - apart that is from having a nude scene without nudity that totally distracted from the sleepwalking scene. It is difficult to recall just how innovative the interpretation was at the time but certainly since then there have been many and various version of most of the plays and the impact of this has no doubt lessened over the years.
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7/10
I thought I was accessing another Black Mirror episode
23 March 2019
I thought I was accessing another Black Mirror episode but instead Netflix took me into the feature film. Instructed to keep a hold of the remote and told how to use it for navigation through the film, I initially used the wrong area. The film, however, went on without my making choices and by the time I discovered the correct part of my remote, although pleased, I was a little sceptical. Not without reason it seems as subsequent choices did not always seem to drastically change anything and then when the game maker within the film finds difficulty with choices and decides someone is controlling his controlling, I start to get the same feeling! Like the TV series, never uninteresting and although the repetition can be irritating there does turn out to be a point to it all.
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9/10
Massive achievement by Welles
23 March 2019
Massive achievement by Welles and all on a very tight budget and restricted shooting schedule. Apparently written even before his involvement in cinema and based upon the various Shakespearian appearances by the loveable rogue, Falstaff. I notice reading past reviews that in recent years there was a problem with the disintegrating print. Well, I first saw this more than 50 years ago at the wonderful Academy Cinema (as was) in London's Oxford Street and have now watched it in Blu-ray, so no quality problem as far as I'm concerned. The film is a delight from start to finish with an interesting mix of actors, including Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford and Fernando Rey as well as the man himself in probably his greatest role. It begins with big skies and landscapes, includes the most incredible battle scenes and ends in most humbling manner. Great!
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Turist (2014)
7/10
Struggling to find their 'inner Viking' maybe but who cares!
20 March 2019
I was left somewhat open mouthed by the end of this and not in a good way. There must be something lost in translation of lost something lacking in my understanding of Scandinavians. Rather frustrating film that seems to want us to assess and then re-assess our perception of gender but because everyone is seemingly silly or even stupid most of the time (except when interminably brushing their teeth en famille) this is a fruitless and tedious exercise. Add to this the fact that the makers seem to reckon all this disfunction is 'funny' makes a full appreciation of this film very difficult. I will say it is well shot and when the slopes don't look disgustingly grey and awful they look pretty spectacular. I shall, however, be very wary of ski-slopes and Scandinavians in future. Struggling to find their 'inner Viking' maybe but who cares!
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Mr. Majestyk (1974)
6/10
one is left wondering what might have been here with tighter control and better script.
19 March 2019
Writer Elmore Leonard has done some decent writing here but it is not consistent, whether his writing was messed about or not I don't know but it is a shame. Director Richard Fleisher also seems to lack consistency and does not seem to fully have a grip on things. The break out at the start is stunning, the scenes of melon picking in Colorado interesting and the final chase through the dusty mountain tracks stunning. But there is a fair bit in-between and although Lee Purcell is an unusual gangster's moll and pretty enough, the big bad man himself, Al Lettieri often gives me the impression he wants to play things for laughs and is certainly not kept in check here by Fleischer. Bronson is great at times and barely average at others so one is left wondering what might have been here with tighter control and better script.
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7/10
Nothing too sensational but an enjoyable and colourful watch.
18 March 2019
There is much about this Hemingway adaptation that is less than satisfactory. Yes, everybody is too old, the bullfighting is sanitised, Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner look pretty rough for most of the movie, Mexico hardly substitutes for Spain and the impotence/prostitution issues are played down. However, despite everything this still works. Accepting the limitations of cast and location, the theme is still enough to hold our attention and Errol Flynn, in a late film for him, does very well indeed. Also despite Pamploma not being Pamploma, the running of the bulls is well done, even if Papa thought both the bulls and Mexicans too small. The bullfighting is also exciting enough despite the lack of blood and the pantomime acting of Robert Evans plus the appearance, in the Parisian scenes, of Juliette Greco is most effective. Nothing too sensational but an enjoyable and colourful watch.
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8/10
Made the same year she made Taxi Driver and Bugsy Malone
17 March 2019
Made the same year she made Taxi Driver and Bugsy Malone, Jodie Foster had just turned thirteen when she made this. An astonishing performance especially considering she is on screen for most of the duration. Ably enough directed the movie often has the look of a TV movie and had originally been so intended. Only the wondrous green Bentley seemingly justifies my Blu-ray print but the film is so good, it is as well to see it as best you can. Martin Sheen is fine if worrying in his evident desire for the youngster and the near constant references as to him being a paedophile seem a little unnecessary.
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Deadfall (1968)
8/10
Great late 60s Majorcan settings add to the delight of this fine film
16 March 2019
Not a perfect film but very enjoyable, particularly the first half, where the dialogue sparkles and Caine is on top form. It is probably a little over long and does seem to loose its way after an extended party sequence around the middle but it remains enjoyable and that first half so very good. Michael Caine, Eric Portman and the lovely Giovanna Ralli are all excellent and it is such a shame that things go a little awry. There are some controversial personal reveals, homosexuality, incest and an even more sinister implication that Ralli is being used to engage with other men. These themes clearly come from the original book but I feel Bryan Forbes is keen to minimise the impact and thereby looses his grip on this fascinating little thriller. John Barry must be mentioned not only as composer of the soundtrack but the opening song sung by Shirley Bassey and his central performance as musical conductor of his music in a key scene in the theatre which acts as a counterpoint to the tense jewel theft. Great late 60s Majorcan settings add to the delight of this fine film.
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Seconds (1966)
6/10
a new job, a new wife, a new place to live are the usual considerations
14 March 2019
This is not a terrible film, indeed, in many respects it is well made. Frankenheimer has clearly taken the thing seriously and with his cinematographer been innovative in ensuring that there is a sufficiently disorienting feel and look for us to be beguiled. And yet, the whole premise is rather dubious. Yes, at some stage towards mid-life many people take stock and wonder, 'Is this all there is?'. But a new job, a new wife, a new place to live are the usual considerations, surely not something as drastic as what is suggested here. The real problem with this, though, is that even if you accept the sci-fi notion, the twilight zone type option at the start and finish, there is still that middle section. Probably Rock Hudson was not the right man for the job but the dialogue also seems to let him down and his various scenes on the beach, at the party, not to mention an extended scene crushing grapes whilst naked are rather embarrassing. The film is certainly different and if you are a fan of Hudson or the prospect of an overlong twilight zone episode excites, then this is for you.
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Parents (1989)
8/10
One of a kind
13 March 2019
This really quite some film. Difficult to describe or even convey just how deep and disturbing the horror here is. Not a conventional horror film, by any means, but as horrific as they come. All three main roles are very ably performed with equally able assist from Sandy Dennis who is just perfect as the bumbling, well meaning social worker trying to understand the young boy at the centre of everything. To some extent this is about the anxiety involved with bedtime darkness as a child and the concern as to what ones parents are doing without you. Worries that turn to dreams, nightmares and maybe more. Randy Quaid is suitably strange as, a possibly kindly but more likely utterly weird, father and Mary Beth Hurt very convincing as the evidently kindly but demented mother. A word on the design and decor - perfect. Fabulous recreation of a fifties setting with appropriate 50s pop soundtrack. Particularly in Blu-ray the rooms appear to have leapt from magazines we remember and add another layer of peculiarity and unreality to the already very worrying goings on. One of a kind.
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Interesting idea that deserved a better cast and a more seasoned director.
12 March 2019
There is something not quite right here. I didn't see the stage play and it is many, many years since I read the book but it seems that perhaps director Dick Clement didn't really have a tight enough grip on this. I appreciate that because of the title some mistakenly expect a horror film and I have seen some describe this as an hilarious farce. Well, it is not very funny despite the odd amusing, if rather predictable, dig at the English middle class. Certainly this is not played as a farce, although Lee Remick seems to have this notion and plays it to the hilt wit much repetition of line and (over) action. Everybody seems to go their own way as if they are giving a solo performance, unrelated to anybody else and it is left to Jennie Linden to play it as it seems it should be played. Apparently her part was originally conceived as being for Julie Christie and I would have thought that then she would have stuck out even more. Claire Bloom's performance is a brave one but she seems just as much in her own bubble as Attenborough, Holm and Remick. Interesting idea that deserved a better cast and a more seasoned director.
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River's Edge (1986)
8/10
nothing like this will ever be made again.
11 March 2019
An extremely good film that is hard to recommend. This is rough, tough and uncompromising with many unpleasant elements. A teen movie depicting bored, boring and dangerous youngsters who cling together in desperation and seem headed nowhere. Nevertheless the script, direction are acting is such that it is compelling too. Not unlike later Larry Clarke movies, you may not like what you are watching but there is something important going on, something chillingly realistic, despite everything. Amazingly this is also an early film appearance for so many, including Crispin Glover, Keanu Reeves, Ione Skye Leitch, Daniel Roebuck and Joshua Miller. Plus an appearance by Dennis Hopper that is so awfully worrying and excellent that you imagine he wrote his own lines. I imagine his presence is the only reason the film got financed but it is such an oddball film and such a treat that one is left reflecting that nothing like this will ever be made again.
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Opera (1987)
8/10
Listening to Argento today, he still seems bitter and ready to blame Christina Marsillach
10 March 2019
This has such a wonderful opening. The majestic and utterly beautiful, Teatro Regio di Parma and thanks to Dario Argento by way of Edgar Allan Poe a flock of ravens. Much of the film is based in and around the opera house and with those almost ever present birds, and a nod to Hitchcock along the way. The set pieces are great, as always, linking them together and maintaining momentum is difficult and here the seeming rather lost and limp leading lady seems not to help. Without giving anything away, it is accepted that in part this has to do with a partly revealed back story but also a rather major tiff between director and actress. Listening to Argento today, he still seems bitter and ready to blame Christina Marsillach. His main reason seems to stem from her opposition to any nudity and it has to be said that this has to be the reason for the so potentially dramatic early love scene falling so flat. The dialogue is still there regarding the possible positive affect upon the voice of sex before a performance but little else. However, even if Argento hasn't got over it, the film itself does and there are unforgettable moments, a string finale and a surreal ending.
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The Touch (1971)
6/10
we will put it down to having been 'lost in translation' and leave it to the completists.
8 March 2019
Not as bad as the recently watched The Serpent's Egg (1977) made in West Germany but still enough of a Curate's egg to ensure that the bad parts infect the whole. The English dialogue, written by Bergman is wretched and it is an indication of the man's dictatorial attitude that it should have got through to the screen. Elliott Gould seems terrible but that may be in part because of the words he has to spout, well maybe he should have said something, or improvised like he has before. Not with God in the room, perhaps. Bibi Andersson does better and truly apart from the stunning cinematography is the only reason to watch this abomination. Starting appallingly, the film does pick up, probably as with any bad film, we almost get used to the unconvincing dialogue but then the last third is almost laughable. The director has, of course made great films, before and after this, so we will put it down to having been 'lost in translation' and leave it to the completists.
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9/10
the twists and turns get me every time
7 March 2019
I first saw this upon its original UK release in the mid nineties, in a modest cinema off Piccadilly Circus, in London. It is an excellent, pulsating, good looking and always moving neo-noir with a fantastic central performance from Linda Fiorentino. I've seen it at least once, maybe more between then and now the Blu-ray viewing and the twists and turns get me every time. I had vaguely wondered why Fiorentino's career never really took off after this and have only just learned that the film was not initially released in the States and only got a limited release after it did well in Europe. So much for the fate of a film that tries to break the mould and give a woman such a challenging role. Stunning.
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8/10
Breathtaking film making that deserves to be seen, at least once.
4 March 2019
There is a knowing relentlessness with both visuals and soundtrack equally compelling that forces attention despite the obvious horrors. Not always quite clear what is going on or to how many or how pleasurable or painful the numerous metallic body insertions are but that there is something that demands our attention is undeniable. The streets rush by, there are repeated showings of the motoring hit and run incident that precipitated everything and still the sound pounds and the metal scrapes. The only comparison possible seems to be Eraserhead with this similar unworldliness yet primal connections and almost unbelievably an element of humour. Breathtaking film making that deserves to be seen, at least once.
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7/10
desperate animal survival contrasted with the dastardly acts of ivory poachers and slave trade apologists
3 March 2019
It is claimed that actor Cornel Wilde was so technically unprepared, financially underfunded and physically unwell that reinforcements had to be brought back from the UK following their return from filming Zulu the previous year. Apparently their local knowledge and expertise was much needed and presumably appreciated when the actor's health was restored and he took up the directorial role, as well as that of the near naked runner. It is an extraordinary film featuring Wilde being chased by natives across African plains amidst much local wildlife activity. Much of the animal footage is stock material but fits in well enough and overall we get an impressive vision of ruthless and desperate animal survival contrasted with the dastardly acts of ivory poachers and slave trade apologists. The film is not overlong and just about keeps going despite the actor/director not being particularly charismatic or earning of too much of our sympathy. There is just enough interchange with the Africans and their ways, helped enormously by the spectacular landscapes to make this a worthwhile watch.
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6/10
The influence of the film with regard to the development of exploitation cinema including blaxploitation is undeniable.
1 March 2019
Not a great film, not even great by exploitation standards but is a colourful and entertaining enough watch. The two leading ladies fleeing jail chained together in flimsy little costumes and traversing the Philippines landscape while two major gangs of men search them down, is bound to have some interest. The influence of the film with regard to the development of exploitation cinema including blaxploitation is undeniable. Director Eddie Romero was born in the Philippines and had worked there for many years making popular cinema, particularly war films, with the emphasis on the Japanese invasion, and later some horror with as much skin as was allowed. When Roger Corman and Co came calling he was ready to assist and not only were WIP films about to get a boost but Jonathan Demme and Pam Grier would be introduced to the world. Demme, credited with script assistance here, actually ripped off the earlier Kramer film, The Defiant Ones but crucially switched the two chained guys, Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier for Pam Grier and Margaret Markov. Pam Grier, of course, proved unstoppable and whilst her co-star here did a few more films before leaving cinema behind, she became the Queen of Blaxploitation and more. mention should also be made of that big, bad, bearded man Sid Haig, who romps through the film in a cowboy hat, taking anyone or anything as it comes and is still working today.
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The Ghoul (2016)
8/10
full of provocative thoughts and human insights but a lot is expected of the viewer and it is easy to get left behind
28 February 2019
Seems to me the most frequent complaint about this film is that it is 'slow and boring' and the most positive that it is like Mulholland Drive. The latter comparison, is falsely made, I guess, because the film is complicated and the former remark simply because this tends to be the fallback option if there are not enough explosions. If anything the film moves too fast for its own good. The dialogue is excellent, full of provocative thoughts and human insights but a lot is expected of the viewer and it is easy to get left behind. The therapy sessions should be an opportunity for things to slow down and for us to get our bearings and sort out what is real or not to us and perhaps more pertinently what is real or not to the characters. But nothing is as simple as it appears here and even the sessions seem to take us into even darker areas. Excellent, but not the easiest film to follow because it does not set out a simple path. For those for whom that sounds 'boring', I guess will find it boring. Not sure what that proves though.
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6/10
Bette Davis never seems to be able to control herself, or Robert Aldrich her
26 February 2019
After some rather strange jump shots of the exterior of the Southern mansion a rather splendid pre-credit sequence develops featuring Bruce Dern and Victor Buono. Sad to say the movie goes downhill from there. Its not all bad and there are some great gothic visuals, particularly around the central staircase, but this is over ripe, overblown melodrama. Bette Davis never seems to be able to control herself, or Robert Aldrich her and not only does she seem to have ben given free reign to ruin almost every scene but she has Joseph Cotten in surely his worst ever performance (and certainly the worst ever Southern accent) to help drag this down. Slowly, too for this is way too long for such a simple and telegraphed story. If you love everything Davis did, and she obviously did, you will but you will still have to try and ignore that Cotten accent, Olivia de Havilland's one not performance and the lunacy of Agnes Moorehead trying to compete with Davis in the over acting stakes. Cecil kellaway is welcome relief halfway through as the elderly English gentlemen, gently investigating, but it is not enough.
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The Wailing (2016)
8/10
is a wonder the 15 certificate held
25 February 2019
A truly astonishing film that constantly surprises and confounds throughout its considerable length. Yes, it has to be admitted it is too long. This is not a problem whilst watching because one becomes transfixed by the all and sundry goings on but towards the end and the false endings start to kick in the time that has passed becomes evident. reducing the length would not seem difficult because there is a certain wastage and duplication in the first act. Indeed, in common with other Korean and Hong Kong films the attempts at humour seem not to work in the West. Too much tomfoolery and slapstick in all the seeming wrong places. Anyway, the main thrust of the film, taking place as it does in parts of Korea I have never seen depicted in film before, with little semi derelict shacks and undergrowth impinging, is really creepy and not a little worrying. The business with the shaman, the chickens, goat, swords and fire would have been bad enough but with the sad child being exorcised, in such evident pain, it is a wonder the 15 certificate held. A difficult but eyeopening and worthwhile look at the underside of the more primitive side of Korea with great landscape shots along the way.
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Picnic (1956)
8/10
In the UK the 50s ethos carried on well into the 60s
23 February 2019
Colourful and bold evocation of 1950s small town American life and mores. True William Holden is a little old for the role here but he brings such charisma to the role that it is only becomes any sort of problem in some of his cavorting with the elfin Susan Strasberg and his more boyish pranks. For the most part he is ideal as the stranger who comes to town and turns it upside down. In the UK the 50s ethos carried on well into the 60s but it is clear from this and other films, like Rebel Without a Cause, that the 50s was well and done with before the end of the decade. Holden is fine then and the supporting cast just about holds up helped by some wonderful staging, particularly during the titular, event. Kim Novak seems in a different class altogether and I don't recall, even in Vertigo, her looking quite so beautiful. The whole scene down by the water with just Holden and Strasberg and the elderly school teacher and her supposed beau and a bottle of booze is very moving but when Novak glides in, there is magic in the air. Perfectly captured the fated couple come together and we see them glide across the screen, colourful lanterns flickering beyond and Moonglow on the soundtrack. Very fine film, which despite slight casting difficulties, and an element of sentimentality, still manages to punch well above its weight in terms of significance.
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8/10
Bright, colourful, thoughtful, almost romantic, with a hint of sentiment and funny.
22 February 2019
It is clear from this film that director Miike was ready for the 'big time' and indeed moved from this accomplished work to the celebrated Audition, shown all over the world. Ley Lines is a fast moving madhouse of small time crooks, the homeless and the wannabe youngsters. Presumably filming on the go we are in and out of not only alleys and back streets but main streets too with (if you look) slightly bewildered passers by caught in the camera cross fire. Hectic pace, well drawn characters, a simple enough story and lots of wrong doings having to be avenged. Nothing sounds new about this and yet such is the command Miike has of the action that we are swept along as if part of the goings on ourselves. Bright, colourful, thoughtful, almost romantic, with a hint of sentiment and funny.
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Maigret Sets a Trap (2016 TV Movie)
7/10
a very pleasant hour and a half
21 February 2019
Maigret for me is the early sixties TV portrayal by Rupert Davies and the Simenon books themselves, Here, in my first cinematic venture onto Netflix, is a very decent stab at the Parisian detective by Rowan Atkinson. He is well served with an amazingly convincing location with Hungarian streets, alleys and steps substituting for Montmartre and a suitable supporting cast. I felt the role of his wife here is a travesty. In the books she is very much a servile, if rather sweet lady playing second fiddle to the robust, woman of the people, proprietor of the local cafe, where Aigret gets most of his sustenance and much of his local information. That aside all is well and the tale is well told with enough back story to entertain and make for a very pleasant hour and a half.
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10/10
It remains one of the rare films that really, really, makes me laugh.
20 February 2019
Absolutely love this film and have done since first seeing it in the early eighties. There is just nothing that I don't like. The opening up of the original play with 'tourist' shots and tour guide moments on location in Washington could have been a let down but they are so well shot and the great dialogue still sustained so that all is well. The stage like setting of the interior might have been a let-down but censorship worries meant that a whole hotel wing is created to avoid the impression that the two unmarrieds are sleeping in the same room and there is sufficient space for the action to not feel constrained. With what might have gone wrong out the way we are left with the delirious dialogue and the monumental performances. Everyone is great and everyone is funny. The script is there, the actors more than capable and Cukor enables, or at least doesn't prevent the magic from happening throughout the entire movie. I notice on the Arrow Blu-ray extras that all three separate contributors mention President Trump in connection with the film with nudges at the Crawford character but it is pretty much accepted that he is partly crafted on the oafish producer, without his even being aware. No, if we are talking politics, the thing that struck me was that with all the optimism about helping the common man (the film was even accused of communist tendencies in some quarters) was how little things have changed with regard to the undue influence that big business can exert and still be able to run roughshod over that 'common man.' Even so and allowing for the fact this is also a romantic tale with many a moving moment, it remains one of the rare films that really, really, makes me laugh.
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