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His Dark Materials (2019– )
A reasonable start
8 November 2019
After the first two minutes, I thought "Oh Dear". To my mind, there were two glaring faults :- 1. Asriel brings Lyra to Jordan college by helicopter - a helicopter is far too modern a device for the period that the book depicts. 2. Asriel addresses the Master of Jordan College as "Asriel", rather than "Master" when he requests scholastic sanctuary. Maybe he meant to say "I am Lord Asriel", but that isn't what it sounds like.

Happily, those are my only real complaints. After that, the story reasonably well - I particularly liked the scene where the Gyptians' narrowboats are travelling through the Fens. There were places where the pacing seemed to drag a bit, but it could have been a lot worse. Similarly, the acting seemed somewhat wooden at times, but was passable. I expect future episodes to be more exciting. 7 out of 10.
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Shouldn't have been called "A Town Like Alice"
23 September 2019
This is a decent war movie, which is why I've given it 5 stars, but only tells the story of first half of the book, so should have been called something else. The major theme of the second half of the book is that, after Jean Paget goes to Australia and finds how the outback town of Willstown near Joe Harman's cattle station is not much more than a ghost town, she goes about using her inheritance to transform it into a go-ahead place like Alice Springs. This movie doesn't deal with that story at all.

Instead, you should get the 2-DVD set of the excellent TV series which tells the whole story, though even that rushes the conclusion.
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Metropolis (1927)
More a ballet than a movie
24 March 2016
As this was a "silent" movie, the makers couldn't borrow from the theatre to get the story across, but had to rely on the visuals and extremely exaggerated acting. The visuals in this movie are excellent for the time, but many people will find the overacting jarring. If you enjoy ballet and can treat Metropolis as more like a ballet than a modern movie, you will enjoy its relatively simple plot and message - if not, you may well hate it, especially since it is well over two hours.

I watched the DVD from the "Masters of Cinema" series of the restored version and found the music soundtrack somewhat over-the-top too - it may be advisable to sample the movie in two or three sessions, as I did, rather than ploughing through it all in one go.

An interesting experience.
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Good & Bad, but music was awful!
9 August 2015
In general I like movies from the 1950s and early 1960s, especially in B & W. Maybe I'm lazy, but they usually have a simple moral which is easy to understand and not hard to empathise with. This was no exception, even though it had periods when it was overly melodramatic and others when it was uninteresting - possibly, the book's written words held attention but didn't translate well to the screen.

The big thing that let the movie down was the background music by Elmer Bernstein. Did I say BACKGROUND? At times, you could hardly hear the dialogue and the music's mood didn't match the action, added to which, it was tuneless to the point of being awful. It's difficult to believe that it was by the same composer as The Magnificent Seven, just a couple of years earlier, which is a classic.
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Interstellar (2014)
Incomprehensible without subtitles
14 December 2014
I'm writing this review a month after seeing the movie, so I could be excused for forgetting some of the details. In fact, I've forgotten almost everything about the movie as I've got no idea what it was about!

I have a minor hearing problem. It rarely causes me any trouble, but 30 minutes into the movie, I realised that I had not been able to understand a single sentence - either because the "background" music was so loud, the dialogue was so soft, or I couldn't understand the actors' accents. I didn't walk out because I thought that the visuals may have helped, but two hours later I still had little idea of what was going on, and I didn't believe any of it anyway.

I've given it 2 out of ten for the photography and special effects, which were amazing. If I thought it might have a reasonable plot, I would have considered buying the DVD when it comes out so that I could read the subtitles, but, having read IMDb's description of the story, I don't think I'll bother.
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A waste of talents
3 May 2011
Totally agree with pocomarc's review. I bought this DVD because of the cast list, but what a waste of the talents of some fine actors!

The plot was risible and the script was boring, though the few action sequences were OK.

Some reviewers comment on the moral of the outcome, but to me it was totally immoral - loads of men are killed for no reason at all (as we find out at the end, which was obvious about one third of the way through the movie) - but, hey, they're only Mexicans, so who cares? Of the Americans, only Burt Lancaster is wounded, and that's only a flesh wound - obviously American bullets (and arrows, for heaven's sake) are better than Mexican ones.
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Lapland is more than just tundra, Sami and reindeer
16 November 2010
I think Tuukka's review is unduly harsh. As a foreigner who is curious about Finland, but who is not an expert on the country, its history or culture, the movie provides several features of interest. After all, Lapland is more than just tundra, Sami and reindeer. Many features were beautiful - in particular, the colouring of the vegetation in the opening scene is amazing, together with the river scenes. On the other hand, there was no attempt to hide the millions of flying insects (how did the actors managed to ignore them?!!!) I did know (though many foreigners wouldn't know) that Finland was not an autonomous nation at the time of the movie's setting, but this was emphasised by the fact that the senior administrators shown were all Swedish - also that the Swedish governor had a British wife.

The plot itself was fairly predictable, but the dialogue was OK for the most part, the acting was more than adequate, and the photography was superb.
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Play Tombraider instead
8 November 2009
Have you ever been disappointed by a book by a favourite author. I really admire John Wyndham's works and would include "Day Of The Triffids", "The Chrysalids" and "The Midwich Cuckoos" among SciFi classics, so I once read "Stowaway To Mars" (one of his earliest stories). After a few pages, I thought "This is rubbish, but it's by John Wyndham, so it's bound to improve" and kept on reading - it didn't get any better (if anything it got worse) and I eventually finished the book with an acute sense of disappointment.

"City Of Lost Children" is like that. Having watched and appreciated "A Very Long Engagement" and "Amelie", this was a huge let-down. The visuals are vaguely interesting, but they're not much better than in the later Tombraider games and the Tombraider plots are superior.

There aren't many movies that I wouldn't watch more than once, but this is one of them.
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Watch it if you want a serious story and are bored by violence
31 December 2008
As a fan of Finnish movies, when I saw that Suden Vuosi was available on DVD, I read the comment by waffel-1 and decided to give it a try. I agree with everything that waffel-1 wrote and would add that it's refreshing to see a movie whose most violent scene has just one punch that barely connects. There are a couple of short sex scenes that would not have been included thirty years ago and could easily have been omitted without detracting from the story, but that's my only quibble.

I particularly liked the scene at Mikaela's Christmas gathering where Mikko replies to criticism of him by revealing the faults of the various other people at the gathering - notice how he doesn't criticise Mikaela and Leif though - I don't think that I would have been so forgiving!

If you get the DVD, don't forget to view the bonus of "The Orders", which shows various scenes from the movie with musical accompaniment.
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Steppenwolf (1974)
Helped me to appreciate the book.
18 August 2008
I read Hesse's "Journey To The East" and "Siddhartha" in my early twenties and thought they were excellent, but, when I then tried to read "Steppenwolf", it defeated me after a dozen or so pages. I put it to one side for a few weeks, then tried again, with the same result. The same thing happened for a third time.

Then I saw that the movie was showing at a local art-cinema, so thought I'd go and watch it. I allowed myself to suspend judgement until the end, and found it to be an unforgettable movie. OK - it has several flaws, as other reviewers have highlighted, but it certainly made a strong impression on me. I then went home and read the book from cover to cover. It's still not my favourite Hesse book (that honour goes to Siddhartha), but it is definitely a worthwhile read, and I probably would never have finished it if I hadn't seen the movie.
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Contact (1997)
There are hidden questions that the movie didn't try to answer
27 June 2008
I've read the book and I've seen the movie and don't want to compare them too much as they both stand alone very well. The movie is 2 hours 23 minutes long and, having watched it for about 10 times, my opinion is that the first hour and 50 minutes are great, but it then goes downhill significantly. What I liked most about the movie were hidden questions that the movie posed - most couldn't have been in the book anyway because of the differences in the plot. I'll ask the questions here and leave you to come up with your own answers.

1. Would Ellie have been so interested in scientific things if she hadn't been brought up by her father without a mother's influence?

2. If Ellie's father had not died while she was still young, would she have been less anti-God?

3. Who looked after Ellie after her father died? Did she become an astronomer with the help of her guardians or in spite of them?

4. Ellie had a forceful personality and a high reputation as a scientist, but she was frequently overruled by men - was this just a sexist thing? How prevalent is such an attitude today?

5. Kent was blind, yet still had a career as an astronomer - a brilliant touch! Would this really be possible in this day and age? - Edited later - After my original posting, noticed in the Trivia section that the character is based on a real-life blind SETI scientist, Kent Cullers. Amazing!
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Flowers for Algernon (2000 TV Movie)
Recommended, except for the music
13 June 2008
Saw this on TV and was absorbed all the time, even though I'd read the short story. Sure, there are a few differences from the book, but I think that made it better as a movie - a movie that followed the book absolutely could have been more intellectually satisfying but would not have been as emotionally involving.

Definitely worth seeing, but why oh why did they have to make the 'background' music so loud that it was intrusive! It spoilt some scenes that would have been perfectly all right without any music at all. Because of this, I have given it an 8 instead of a 9, and I don't think that it would seem so good on a big screen.
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A good film, but the subtitles could have been better
18 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film way back in about 1972 (when it was already nearly 20 years old) and thought it was very good (I had recently had a not-too-dissimilar experience with a Swedish girl - happily without the consequences of a resulting child!), so bought a copy of the DVD when I noticed it in my local store.

I still like it a lot and would recommend it to anyone, but wanted to comment about the subtitles on my DVD copy. I am British, but, because I have lived in Sweden, I can understand most of the film without needing the English subtitles and it struck me that the subtitles miss out a lot that is relevant to the story. Even the translation of the title isn't strictly accurate - "Sommaren med Monika" should really be translated as "THE Summer with Monika", emphasising the fact that the affair only lasted for one Summer - a subtle but important nuance. Most Swedes are better in English than I am in Swedish, so I would appreciate knowing whether they agree with me. I suppose that it is inevitable that there are always subtleties that are lost in translation.
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A moving story and wonderful photography
13 March 2005
This film was showing at a local film festival. I knew nothing about it beforehand apart from that it was in Finnish, but went to see it because I have really enjoyed my three trips to the country. Without giving away too much of the plot, the basic theme was how bravery and serious injury can so easily be ignored once a war is over and how an ex-soldier who cannot manage any remotely-complicated task manages to get by and still live a fulfilling life, despite having been deserted by almost all his previous friends and girlfriend/fiancée (and, presumably, any family still living). I found it thought-provoking and very moving, with excellent photography of the Finnish forests in winter. The sound quality was very good too - even though I can only understand a few words of Finnish, I was impressed by the clarity of the actors' speech. I will certainly buy the DVD when it becomes available.
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