Occassionally the mood of a place spontaneously evokes memories of the film.
Midnight, walking into this deserted downtown Reading car park was one of those moments
Enjoy the original Diva promotional trailer:
Occassionally the mood of a place spontaneously evokes memories of the film.
Midnight, walking into this deserted downtown Reading car park was one of those moments
Enjoy the original Diva promotional trailer:
The imaginarium of Dr Parnassus is a wonderful modern faerie tale. It mixes classic structures and characters (Old Nick) with modern settings, language, and characters.
review ratings explained
Plot: Very good. A classic style of storytelling, a new story. A bet with the devil. Souls to be won or lost. The classic framework provides the structure that makes the plot easy to follow. Easy to follow but not overly predictable. Cunning plans and twists. There is uncertainty about the virtue and honesty of some characters. Who is working with, for, Nick? The film holds a cheeky mirror to modern values as it portrays our dreams.
Gilliam does not write his female characterisations in as much depth as his male characters. There is only one noteable female character in the film. Her contribution is central to the plot while the role is hardly touched and seems superficial. Lets call her a token women. A pretty girl that needs rescuing. Sigh. A blot on an otherwise wonderful film.
A related disappointment was the pedestrian ending to the main storyline. The final scenes felt a bit anemic. The scenes tied-up the damsel’s storyline quickly and neatly. This felt forced and out-of-keeping with the plucky playing in the other, mainly male, storylines. There are many wonderful ways that Terry could have ended the film. I suspect Gilliam’s creative freedom was somehow compromised.
Cast: Excellent. Performances that had the kind of depth that comes from allowing talented actors to develop, improvise and extend their characters. Apparently Heath Ledger’s last line before he died was ‘Don’t shoot the Messenger’ and Jonny Depp improvised the same line when playing Ledger’s character in the imaginarium.
Sets. Excellent. Physical locations included some of my favourite places, such as Ledenhall market in London and the Public Library in Vancouver BC. The contrast between the architecture in these two locations was used well as a visual clue to different tones, temperaments, stages of the plot.
The animated sets were breath taking. Apparantly breathtaking animated sets are the norm for widely distributed films by famous directors with excellent casts. Jolly good. Thoroughly enjoyable. Lots of ooOOOooooze and aaAAARRRRSSSssse.
Within the imaginarium these fantasy sets had the beauty, unpredictability and the ominousness of real dreams.
Audience: one thing that interferred with my total immersion in this fabulous film was the audience. Specifically, the lady sat next to me. She insisted on sniffing loudly at 1spm (1 sniff per minute). Every few minutes there was a cough, sneeze, or other substantial air movement in her facial regions. She did have some props for this activity, tissues, but the noise and potential infection kept drawing me out of the film into an unpleasant reality. Ick.
I will be watching this film again.
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s first feature film is named after a place in Reading called ‘Cemetery Junction’. “A 1970s-set comedy centered on three upstart professional men working at an insurance company” staring Ralph Fiennes.
I haven’t noticed the film cameras locally.
During a conversation about films that are substantially at variance with the books that provided their original title and approximate plot and characters:
Wendy: W’thering Heights
Bros: WUH, Wuh-thering Heights
Wendy: yes, that’s what I said W’thering Heights
Bros: Wendy, Wuh-thering has a U in it
niece & her friend: (snigger, sniggger, snigger, hiding mouths behind hands and flashing smiles at each other and checking to see if we ‘adults’ notice)
Bros: (shakes his head and tuts)
Wendy: (decides not to mention that Bros appears to have failed to count the double-u)
Sweeny Todd offers a gigantic range of different pies at the pictured local Reading Pie Shop and a very dark film, most distubing gory visual details, I had to look away on multiple occassions and I’m not that squeamish.
An excellent evening with Barry Norman.
Barry recently spoke at Reading Concert Hall supplying interesting trivia about four classic films, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, The Adventures of Robin Hood and Dirty Harry. Trivia included casting preferances for key roles, why directors and screen writers were changed and cast members reflections. The ending of Casablanca was written while it was being filmed, writer and cast did not know how the film would end. The Atlanta burning scene in Gone with the wind was made by burning all the old sets on the studio lot. The Adventures of Robin Hood was filmed in California, the lush greeness of the grass in the film was a special effect, painting the film.
After an interlude Barry answered questions from the crowded concert hall audience. Two charming silver haired ladies mustered all their deft to pass microphones amongst the audience.
Barry’s answers to questions of the form ‘name your favourite [e.g. actress, director, film… ]’ and ‘I know a lot about obscure film trivia[e.g. what the most expensive never-finished film]’ produced a recognisable, normally unarticulated, analysis of recent cinematic trends including:
Words of wisdom from my outrageously expensive and handsome young product-dispensing hairdresser:
Legend, even with Will Smith in it, it’s just another zombie film
The film â€˜Becoming Jane’ pulls together themes from Jane Austens novels and rewrites them as-if they were experiences happening directly to Jane and her family.
A generous perspective might describe this as a creative pastiche highlighting Janes classic storylines littered with powerful quotes that interweaves elements of her own life story.
A less generous interpretation might be that the film cobbles together crowd-pleasing dialog into a script that lacks the powerful character insight, detail, and well paced plot developments of Janes own writing.
The film follows the last few years in the life of Alan Conway who managed to maintain his lifestyle by pretending to be Stanley Kubrick in Britain while knowing relatively little about Stanley. The reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are very varied.
some areas for improvement
If you appreciate good dialog, good acting in the storytelling of social-political change based on real events that can produce heated post-viewing discussion then you will thoroughly enjoy this film; “Amazing Grace”.
The film is part of the UK celebration of 200 years, 25th March, since the Abolition of the slave trade (slavery was still legal) in the British Empire. America was no longer a part of the British Empire at this stage and continued to trade in Slaves as did European powers such as France, Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. The film follows the lead abolitionist’s, William Wilberforce’s, efforts. The title comes from a song whose original lyrics are attributed to John Newton a repentant master of slave trading ships and influential adult in William Wilberforce’s life. For me the film compares favourably to, can be classed with, the classic play “A man for all seasons“.
Areas for improvement:
Every other abolitionist figure is subordinate to him, which is of course detrimental to the film since they are far more interesting than this bible-thumping prig.
Highly recommended to people who enjoy independent films with all the components that make it a classic cult film. In an outstanding directorial debut for Lee Daniels he demonstrates a level of maturity that can take many good directors decades to reach.
The conversational style is akin to french films. The plot is intricate and innovative akin to English gangster films. The New York settings and characters are colourful. I experienced the film as a blend between Nikita, Terminator and Lock Stock and two smoking Barrels with a touch of Pulp fiction thrown in. If you like those 4 films, you will probably enjoy this one. Cuba Gooding Jr as the inscrutable lead and Helen Mirren as the, red, Rose provide weighty lead performances. Music fan’s will enjoy the parts well executed by Macy Gray and Mo’nique. The film has a sombre mood throughout with diverse music from a french sounding piano accordian through a classical Cello solo backing a poignient moment to soul music, all literally setting different tones.
The unusual plot unravels at an even pace that is easy to follow and gripping in its twists and turns. Helen Mirren takes a role that is not a role commonly given to a female. There are seamingly surreal, or real life, touches like a Zebra roaming the night-time shots of a mansions garden, Jessie at ladies night, that add amusement if they capture your eye. Careful product placement Wild Turkey bourbon and social-cultural indicators, red nail varnish, chain smoking, drinking build the atmosphere. Stylistic lighting with shifts between realistic outdoor colours and colour-themed indoors shots or fuzzy-edged back-lit romatic outdoor shots.
“the only mystery I never solved was why my heart couldn’t let go of you“
This film is highly recommended for people who enjoy a stylistically conveyed, strong period-set script of a clever mystery drama including a love story. This film successfully fits into all these genres with an additional unique angle that fits none and takes it beyond any specific genre. Not a good film for people who like giggles, fast action with explosions, blood and gore, or plots handed to you on a silver platter. The rotten tomatoes reviews generally align well with my experience.
Description without plot-spoiler
Not my cup of tea.
Only recommended if you like film’s that have
I choose this for the latter 3 of the above reasons. The writing at a conversational level had all the ingenuity, subtlety, and economy I’d expect from Mr. Cave. Awesome. But this was a film, not a collection of conversations. Multiple good dialogs and character scenes are not enough to constitute a film, however well acted and located. I didn’t understand this film.
Captain Stanley’s (Ray Winston) early words set the tone of the whole film for me:
“Australia, what fresh hell is this“
While the film is undoubtedly a high quality execution of whatever it is meant to be the film said nothing to me, was unnecessarily violent, had no humour. I’m left wondering why so much talent was directed into making this film. Rotten Tomatoes gives the proposition a good review. I’ve found many good reviews that focus on details of music, scene, or character. All of them failed to provide me with any strong insights into why I should watch this film.
(edited to try to make the into images)
Recommended for reflection on what it means to be in love, to be part of a modern family, to come of age in America. It is a tragic love story: love of country; love of familiy; romantic love. The film gets a bad deal from Rotten tomatoes. The mood of the film reminded me of a cross between Wim Wenders film Paris Texas and The Badlands. Laughter is light on the ground. The film’s humour is mainly situational and very subtle. Not recommended for people who want to have their films explicitly detail the key points or fast action, this film ferments well with thought and gently touches on modern life indirectly. For me this was a journey worth taking.
The scenes capture how I see much of North America. The suburbs, Freeways, colours, donuts, diners, telegraph poles, guns, power lines, paranoia, friendliness, loneliness, cynicism and optimism against an ever present sense of neglect, decay and madness. The sound track is provided by a single acoustic guitar and gentle male, or, female voice. It’s slow, like the pace of the film. The tune and singer fade in and out setting some peaceful, happy and sad moments.
Edward Norton’s character, Harlan, has short, clear, answers to every question. His uncomplicated answers have a romantic dream-like quality, you want to believe them, you want to believe he believes them. He’s straight-forward polite, respectful of others yet somehow niaive. He’s easy to love. He say’s he’s skilled in ranching. Was Harlan ever a cowboy? Is he pretending? Does it matter? He appears to be unemployable in any other skilled job. Harlen’s way of thinking and dialog is a treat throughout. One moment shot me. During his first swim in the Pacific Ocean he looks out towards the horizon:
that’s about as close to forever as I can imagine.
Sometimes its not clear if he lives in the real world or an idealistic fantasy, if he’s lost a grasp on reality, if he ever really had one.
Outstanding moments included:
An extremely well constructed film in every technical level, acting, camera-work, lighting, script, direction etc. A classic, not popularist, film.
Highly recommended for raunchiness, innovative characters, plot, attention to visual detail that conveys the period as dark, lavishly dressed, wigged and ill-washed. The biograhpy of this poetic raunchy athiest provides the plot with twists, turns and endings more fabulous than stories concocted to please a mass audience. The scope and detail of the script is worthy of its topic. The language is used to good effect. Every sentence is worthy of inclusion in the film, no redundancy. I laughed, I cried, I winced, I disliked characters, I wanted to befriend characters, I admired characters, I was reviled by characters. This film was a fulfilling experience for me. The production credits the audience with intelligence
The film opens with a young adult John Wilmott (Jonny Depp), Second Earl of Rochester, making a self descriptive prologue directly to us, the viewers, in a classical stage play style. He sneers as he knowing describes himself, his knowledge of how we will experience him. Willmot is wonderfully objectionable, spiteful even, with the engaging cleverness worthy of a witty poet and playwrite. He is spikely cynical throughout:
“the moral of the incident is that any experiment of interest in life will be carried out at your own expense, mark it well“
“all men would be cowards if the only had the courage“
The film is birightly bawdy. It sprays a wealthy variety of recognisable, yet obscure words, that mechanistically describe sexual acts. The context and delivery of obscure phrase’s makes meaning clear, for example a phrase delivered by a prostitute/actress describing copulation with a wife:
“shooting good chisum up the lawful“
Sad cynicism pervades the film, life is conveyed as tough and yet the lyrical words thrown in pain are beautiful, bring poignancy to the struggles of the players. Sepia tones, mud, smoke, puss, music played on period instruments, dark lighting rich language and costumes sink us deeply in the period. The tone and pace of the dialogue moves like a symphony.
Examples of bawdy cycnicism expressed by the female characters:
“I believe that men are hurdles that must be negotiated… …you could buy my slit for a pound a night sir…” (Elizabeth Barry played by Samantha Morton)
“when a gent sees the spirit and not the eyes and the tits, then the gent is in trouble… …don’t make me care for you, I’d rather you came your fetch over my face than leave me with that lump of caring” (Prostitute/Actress)
The temporary relief from cynicism and life is through plays, acting, Drama. Dreams. The relationship between John Wilmott and his prodigy actress, Elizabeth Barry, hints at a deeper more profound, mutually beneficial relationship. The relationship between John and King Charles II (John Malkovich) is similarly more profound. No single quote captures the subtlety and power of these threads of hope and optimism, each peaking at a different point in the film, beautifully balanced. John Malkovich’s is exceedingly well cast, delivering few and powerful lines with quiet gravitas.
The film ends with an epilogue that invites the audience to take a slightly new slant on all that they’ve seen. It asks a question, I wonder what your answer will be. My answer was ‘no more or no less’
Not recommended for people who grew-up with the English TV series. Most of the core themes that gave the TV series cross-generational appeal have been squished. For example, Dougal’s sarcasm and addiction to a white ‘sugar-like’ substance, Dylan’s narcolepsy, Brian’s ‘Speed’, Ermintrude’s ‘flights’ etc. Standard good children’s story for people not familiar with the TV series, only the graphics and vocal cast are above par
Renamed from the original name “The Magic Roundabout”. Perhaps the US distributers think that the US English speaking audience have difficulty appreicating film titles with more than one word? Why not call it ‘The Magic Carousel”? Are the people responsible for translating UK to US English underestimating the intelligence and imagination of the US audience. Using the title Doogal, rather than the orginal character name Dougal is another example of a translation with dubious value. The IMDB provides a lively discussion on the renaming and recasting of this film.
Note: This review was written without having seen the original UK version.
P.S. Thankyou to all the wonderful people who turned up at the Panama Hotel tea room yesterday, such a pleasant suprise, your company was thoroughly enjoyed and I didn’t have a single Cinderella moment!
Do not read this film review if you are likely to find a one-sided, negative, critique of this popular cultural icon offensive. For those interested in reading less offended, more detailed, analyses of the film this UK website provides some interesting analyses.
Sleepless in Seattle? Puking in Puget (Sound)
Icky, Icky, ICKY. It prompted a Wendy tantrum, small inanimate objects flew, cats hid. Evidently this film was extremely popular. This review is intended to redress the balance of the Wendy-perplexing popularist view.
I could write pages of analysis on this film. For your readerly sake and sanity I’ll constrain myself to 3 points and assume that you are familiar with the film. There are, unfortunately, too many more that I could make.
Three points of Analysis:
After having forced myself to watch all of this film I had to consume 4 pots of Tea before I could let myself loose on an unsuspecting public…. …and even then there was some risk involved…
Spivs is highly recommended for people who enjoy action films that tackle topical and socially unacceptable issues in direct ways. It has some subtle humour and emotional swings built in, This is not a film that drives smiles. It does capture, and move, your emotions with subtle and powerful effect. The online reviews I found were more harsh than my experience, they may more adequately reflect your experience. Here’s the BBC review.
A London based film, Spiv has the mood of a classic London based Gangster, or wide-boy, films such as ‘The long good friday‘, Layer Cake, Lock Stock and two smoking barrels. It tackles fundamental, international, human rights issues. There is a reasonable review posted on “Eye for film’. The review doesn’t adequately acknowledge the disturbing topic matter of the film: humans, children as a commodity for trade in Western capitalistic culture. Life and sex as something that has monetary, tradeable value.
Beautiful lighting and attention to photographic details. For example, during the opening credits we see the Spiv dressing. Smart 3-piece suit, classic style with the last button of the waistcoat undone. Inbetween the calm attention of his dressing we see and hear loud scenes from racecourse. We swiftly move to the spinning a yarn. We watch the Spiv talk in one screen frame while simultaneously viewing the story he is recounting in an inset. This technique of multiple frames is used sparingly, to good effect. The ending is clever and leaves enough to feed your imagination. It’s more of a turning point in a story than a ‘wrap up all major themes’ ending.
For Anglophiles there are some excellent scenes of London, Docklands, Victorian red-brick terraced streets, slummy high-rise flats, gray skies, the London underground. Jack Dee plays a significant bit part as a builder called ‘Nige’ with impressively powerful perception and subtlety. Summary? This is half way between a well constructed art film and a socially conscious film. It doesn’t hit the heights of either, it does meld the experiences well. It is worth watching if either genre moves you.
Introducing ‘Movie Monday’. Future film reviews will be published on Mondays.
A poignent, amusing, well scripted, directed, cast and acted insight into the Queen’s life. Recommended to people interested in the process of manipulating ‘media spin’ and people curious about the British Royalty.
The Queen, a recently released film covering the Spring to Autumn of 1997, a brief 4 months in the reign of the current British Monarch. The significance of the months include the election of the first Labour government in decades, the death of Princess Diana and its immediate aftermath. The film has two official websites, a UK based ‘The Queen’ site (2k) and another official ‘The Queen’ website (3k).
Maybe you can point out more of the low-lights, I’m having a bit of trouble seeing them 😉
A disturbing and bleak look at sexual, emotional, relationships within modern American college life
3 smiles: ratings explained
I don’t know any Americans that would enjoy this movie. I could be wrong.
It gets three smiles on the uncalibrated, unstable, Wendy scale because I found it starkley, morbidly, fascinating with some realistic themes. A brave piece of work by the director because arguably it didn’t include a character sthat you, as the audience, were meant to build an affection or affinity with. A risky strategy that was one of many reasons the Movie gets a panning on Rotten Tomatoes. The themes that I noticed were:
The film completely lacked humour, it did include character development. Unusually, the direction of the development was not aligned with an ideal or telling a moral story. This was powerful. We see the impact of ‘bad’ experiences tainting people, we see unrequited ‘attraction’. We never get really close to any of the characters. Some characters I didn’t like at the beginning of the film and I still didn’t like them at the end of the film. That’s realistic.
The rape scene was profoundly disturbing, not least because the victim appeared to accept it as if this was to be expected. For that one message the film is worth watching. I know too many girl’s (and boys) who have that attitude. They blame themselves for not being ‘sensible’ (e.g. I should not have got drunk) and remove any blame from the perpertrator because ‘he thought it was alright’. Somehow they justify thier role as victims of sexual abuse, rape. That makes me extremely angry. This film has value for portraying what I see as a moral and legal crime without having any cumeuppance for the offender or any real recognition of the crime by the victim.
Unfortunately that’s real.
Sweet Sixteen a Ken Loach film. Recommendation for you:
For quirky me this rated:
Because the film doesn’t ‘travel’ well; despite the two lead characters never removing their baseball caps 😉 I have an affection for Ken Loach’s story telling style and content having grown up on Z Cars and been moved in my early teams by his outstanding film ‘Kes‘.
Why not rate it higher for you? The strong Scottish accents and colloquial language make much of the dialog inpenetrable for none-Scottish audiences without the aid of (provided) subtitles. My year living in Scotland trained my ear to the language but I still had to focus to follow the dialogue. The work is social realism, a ‘kitchen sink’ drama. Not broadly accessible. A ‘niche’ movie.
It’s the story of a working class boy’s daily life. Poverty in Scotland. Realistic violence, crimes and liberal swearing. I cried. I knew people like this. I left them behind. After leaving, cutting the chord, I heard the stories of their lives. It draws a painful, clearly marked, downward spiralling journey that starts near the bottom. Occassionaly punctuated with touching situational humour. The pleasures of kinship and playfulness in daily life. No sound track. At one point the lead character, Liam, listens as Chrissy Hynde, the Pretenders, sings ‘I’ll stand by you’ and later in a club “I go to sleep”. Chrissy Hind was married to Jim Kerr the Glaswegian lead singer of Simple Minds. Example of the simple powerful dialog:
Chantelle to Liam: “how can you care about them if you don’t care about yourself?”
Policeman: “Do you know what iniative is?”
Liam: “Laughing at bosses jokes?”
Liam to Chantelle: “Open the door, give me a cuddle“
Match point, well executed though lacking originality
Recommended for people who fit in at least one of the following categories:
Excellent acting and camera work but way too familiar plot with some rather weak dialogue. l wouldn’t watch it again.
The film is ok 😐
A well produced and acted, fast paced, thriller with one professionally executed theme. The cast quality held the film together. It’s a good film for people who want to walk in and out without having felt challenged or provoked to think. Just take a ride.
The theme I noticed:
Other notable points
An excellent heroic story that creatively re-weaves threads from classic themes in an original, engaging, way. Very topical. High quality acting across the whole cast, well constructed sound track and visuals. Understandable at both superficial and multi-layered levels.
Long review warning 😉
Some themes that I recognized:
“Adolf Hitler added a corrupted form of Runic occultism to his ideal of creating a master race. Several runic symbols were adopted as insignias by the Nazis, probably the most instantly recognisable is the use of Sowelu (the S-rune) by the infamous SS.”
Other notable points:
“An American critic wrote that she would rather be forced to read the New York telephone directory three times than watch the film A Zed and Two Noughts, a third of which was a homage to Vermeer. Conceivably, if you are a list-enthusiast like me, the New York telephone directory might be fascinating, demographically, geographically, historically, typographically, cartographically; but I am sure no compliment was intended.”
Are all stunning, scenery and animation are also top-notch.
But these excellent parts do not gestalt to a good film.
The Disney Narnia film storyline didn’t really work for me. It covered the second book of seven in the Chronicals. Why not start at the beginning?
Tilda Swinton was outstanding as Queen Jadis. Jim Broadbent’s cameo role is also exquisite though not used effectively for plot development. Tilda’s performance held my interest in the film. The other female characters were stereotypical ‘healing’, ‘supportive’ and did all the blubbing in the film. Yuck. Somewhat uninspiring. Even the two lead ‘boy’ characters appeared shallow and poorly developed thoughout the film. James McAvoy who is often cast as a loveable rogue played a convincingly trustable Mr. Tumnus. The sets and graphics (snow, animals) were extremely impressive but didn’t sufficiently make up for the lack of good quality character development. Thankfully, these children do not feature in the other books. I haven’t seen the BBC version of 4 of the books.
I wouldn’t recommend this film.
Here’s a picture of my vintage (between 1 and 2 hundred years old) French Wardrobe instead. It’s cheaper and almost as entertaining. It slots together, no ‘screws’ and I can climb in it with both my kitties. It’s the only piece of furniture that I care about. Care about furniture? Not normally, but a wardrobe that once contained other people’s clothes, a doorway, Norman arches, Barley-twist, beautiful oak and quality craftsmanship. Golly gosh, it even SMELLS good! Must have a cup of tea before I get toooooooo excited about my wardrobe….
The film was enjoyable. True to the main themes of the book containing some excellent directorial moments that are especially impressive given this is Joe Wright’s directorial debut.
Working title ‘Pride & Prejudice’ Strengths:
Unlike the outstanding Capote, or Goodnight and Good luck, I was distracted from full immersion in the whole fantasy film-experience by irrtating trivialities. This left me prefering the longer, more captivating, 1995 BBC TV version.
Irritating trivialities included:
The heavy advertising spin had overplayed the quality of this production which left me slightly disappointed.
As with all high budget period productions the ‘house’ film locations are stunning. Here are the main locations used for the Working Title production:
I spent many summer days in Stamford, visited Burghly house once and Chatsworth half a dozen times. Happy memories. No real equivalent in Washington State….
Production of the book “In Cold Blood” from inception to execution.
“Good night and Good luck” is an outstanding film. It draws on events in March and April 1954, the CBS TV News business, the power of the media to influence, Senator McCarthy, the rights of the individual within the US political system, the use of fear as a manipulative tool, and the central heroic character of Edward R Murrow.
The film is excellent on multiple levels. For example:
Film summary details: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0274558/
This is an outstanding Oscar winning film, the best film I’ve seen this year…. ..definitely rated in my top 10 films. It was an accidental discovery on live TV! It captured and drew me in, for a plethora of reasons including
Do watch this.
Don’t watch it alone, make sure you are with someone who cares about you or can effectively share, empathise or manage distress. The film rating is too low, this film is deeply emotionally disturbing, it contains suicide and serious questioning of societal values.
I made 2 mistakes. Watching it alone and answering a phonecall 15mins before the film ended while crying silently and still deeply immersed.
I will be watching this film again. I suspect I’ve missed many subtle nuances, I want to use it to help be more aware and supportive in the lives I touch, including my own.