scribbles tagged ‘film’


Monday, March 7th, 2011 | tags: ,  |

Car ParkThe characters, photography, chase scenes and humour of the 1981 film Diva left a lasting impression on me. It’s still one of my favourite films

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:

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the cost of dreams

Sunday, October 18th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

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.   Ledenhall Market

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.

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Cemetery Junction

Thursday, July 9th, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

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.

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5 bits of fabulous banter »

pronunciation police

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

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)

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Sweeny Todd

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

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.

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Cagney playing Rick… …and why not?

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

An excellent evening with Barry Norman.


Ratings explained

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:

  • praising the decade of the 1970’s as the last decade that produced a substantial proportion of  films aimed more at a thinking audience,   Easy Rider as an example,  rahter than at the mass audience of cinema attendess,   18-25yrs, that seek light entertainment.    
  • mentioning  that the 6 main  film distributers that supply the UK are US distributers that naturally prefer to promote their own, US, products.     The distributer for Cyrano De Bergerac called him to thank him for repeatedly mentioning the quality of this French language film because it helped get distribution in the UK.
  • TV programs  that review films are prone presenting available celebrity interviews,  current film promotions,  at the expense of balanced critical analysis.
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alan’s tips

Thursday, January 10th, 2008 | tags: , , ,  |

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

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a pastiche of Jane Austins life and works

Monday, August 27th, 2007 | tags: ,  |

The film ‘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.      

:-)  :-)  

Ratings explained


  • Jane as vibrant  and very physically pretty girl by current beauty standards.   Janes modern  style of self expression does not convincingly fit with the proprieties of the time captured so beautifully in her own writing.    
  • The film’s premis that Jane wrote only about that which she experienced first-hand.   The  implication is  that she did not have the imaginitation or capability to construct storylines beyond her immediate experience.
  • Jane as  wooed by virtually every batchelor with whom she converses.   Virtually no situational  relationship development demonstrated over time all relationships are portrayed in brief encounters with implied chemistry (or lack of it) with the slight exception of the main love interest.   Slight.   We are required to believe that deep  love evolves across a couple of encounters and conversations.  

fun bits:

  • spotting quotes from Jane’s books.
  • working-out which characters and actions  were inspired by  which book characters.
  • aesthetics of the sets,   costumes and characters.
  • some novel unexpected character developments.
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colour me Kubrick

Monday, April 2nd, 2007 | tags: ,  |

The film ‘Colour me Kublic’ is a light entertainment comedy treasure.   Recommended for John Malkovitch fans,    Stanley Kubric fans,   Carry-on film  fans and British TV/film fans.

:-)  :-)  :-)  

Ratings explained

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 strengths:

  • Ludwig Van,   plus:   the sound-track is a cleverly constructed pastiche of sound tracks from Kubrick films.   People familiar with the soundtracks use in the original film will  spot visual references to the films,   often comically played.   The quality of this visual and musical treatment is probably attributable to the Director,   Brian Cook, was Kubricks first assistant director for 25yrs and writer Anthony Frewin’s long time working relationship with Kubrick.  
  • Cult quality cast:   John Malkovich as lead and  some fabulous bit and cameo parts by actors who,   arguably, are already cult figures int heir own right.   These are some of the obvious people,   I suspect there were a few more uncredited special appearances:    Honor Blackman,   Leslie Phillips,   Robert Powell,   Richard E. Grant, Peter Sallis, Jim Davidson,   Lynda Barron
  •  Humour:   3 main styles,   Carry-on,   Farce and self-referential.    The Carry-on humour is immediate,   the farce is immediate,   the self-referential often requires knowledge of  Kubrick’s films or British culture.   At one point Malkovitch as  Conway, as Kubrick,  talks about casting Malkovich in his film.   This kind of toying with self-referentialism really tickles my fancy.   The humour also pays homage to Carry-on films by littering the dialog with naughty inuendos.   The Carry-on film reference  is explicitly mentioned by Lynda Barron  who then fabulously goes on to call “Kubrick” “Cuteprick”.  
  • Voice of Wallis:   Peter Sallis is most well known outside Britian for plaing the voice of  Wallace (Wallace and Grommit).   Peter  has one line in the film: “I am Stanley Kubrick“.   The line is  in a chair-collapsingly hilarious scene that references a scene in Spartacus.    
  • Jim Davidson:   plays an aging  North England working-class, gay,  comedian.    There are times when type casting with some built in  irony (gay)  is shere genious.

some areas for improvement  

  • today I am too pathetic to envision any way of improving this.     Check out the Rotten Tomatoes reviews they suggest things like exploring the role of celebrity in society and focussing on character development.   For me,   the film worked fine without these things.
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Amazing Grace

Sunday, March 25th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

 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”.  

:-)  :-)  :-)  

Ratings explained

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“.    


  • Story.   This is a story worthy of being made into a film.   It stands without explosions,   sex-scandals,   profanity,   nudity.   So few films nowadays are sufficiently brave to leave these components out of the screenplay.   What does it include?   Horror,   suspense, tension, pathos,  wit,  conversation as an art-form and fabulous scenery (parliament buildings, big wooden sailing ships etc).
  • Cast.   For shere breadth of talent including Michael Gambon, Albert Finney, Ioan Gruffudd, Ciarán Hinds, Rufus Sewell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bill Paterson, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Jeremy Swift,  Youssou N’Dour.   The talent is doubley worth mentioning for their lack of conformity to the current  Hollywood standard of ‘beautiful’.   If you need a dosage of  current-standard pretty boys and this is not the film for you.   Hoorah!
  • Scene details.   For example the unusual card-tables for the parliamentary card-clubs,   the kitchen crockery and utensils in the background of the kitchen scenes.   Ioan looked wonderfully sickly and ill in many of the shots where he is supposed to be so,  no holidng back on under-eye darkness,   sweat,   and unsightly body contortions.  
  • rhetoric.   The parliamentary rhetoric was wondertful,  pressumably this was taken from original transcripts of parliamentary sessions.   The jibes are typically cheeky,   sarcastic,   cutting and yet the serve to reveal the weaknesses of the recipients position beautifully.   The rhetoric is not constrained to witty come-backs it includes some,   by no means all, of the arguments for Britian continuing to engage in  the slave trade.    The less positive reviews of the film on Rotten Tomatoes describe this tendancy as ‘Speechifying’ and ‘Talky’.   I like Speechifying when it isn’t lengthy  dull monolouges and I didn’t notice any lengthy dull monologues in this film.  

Areas for improvement:

  • slavery arguments: given the film focus I was slightly suprised by the low-profile given to some of the topical arguments for slavery.   For example,   if evolutionary theory was mentioned in the debate I missed-it.   The notion common in Britain that people were born to a natural status,   aristocracy,   working-class,   black (US = People of color) divined by God was not mentioned.   This seemed odd,   I would have liked at least some passing reference to these beliefe systems more clearly evident within the film.   The nearest reference to the notion that every person is born to a position in life was the reaction of the opposition to a petition of the people,   why should they take notice of a petition of the people?   The portrayal simply makes them look arrogant,   evil,   as viewers we are not lead to understand that it was a common belief that people were born with different capabilities,   different values to society.   I would have valued a little more clarification of the depth of impact of the American Independance and French revolution on the priorities of parliament.   Though I suspect this would have made the film even longer and more ‘speechifying’ which would have irritated more viewers that aren’t me.
  • slave trade is not slavery:   The film does not make it clear to the viewer that Slavery was still legal in the British Empire for a further 30 years.   This blog article by Louis Proyect points this out and provides an informative persepctive on a worthy storyline not tackled within this film.   The blog article includes details of   people portrayed in the film and cites a poem written by William Wordsworth dedicated to one of them.     Louis makes a convincing point  that William Wilberforce being portrayed as the lead role was perhaps not a good choice:

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.

  • shift girl focus from love interest:    Barbara Wilberforce (Romola Garai) wearing pink lipstick and lip gloss just didn’t ‘feel’ right though I realise the ladies of the day did have access to powders and creams that they used to change their lip colour.   Her wig was also suspicously  perfect and an unusual colour (redhead).   She sported the modern fashion for a voluptious top lip,   though not Scarlett Johansen proportions.    It was challenging to discern her talent from the odd accessories.   Hannah More is present in some scenes and even has some lines,   I was disappointed that her role was not more significant.   The cynic in me thinks the small contribution  her role in the film  might be because she was not young,   beautiful and married.     I visited Hannah’s birthplace while in Bristol last week:

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Monday, February 26th, 2007 | tags: ,  |

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.

:-)  :-)  :-)  :-)  

Ratings explained

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.

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The Illusionist

Monday, February 19th, 2007 | tags: ,  |

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.  

8) 8) 8)  ratings explained

Description without plot-spoiler

  • The illusionist official website.
  • Cast:   Rufus Sewell, Edward Norton; Jessica Beil; Paul Giamatti;  Eddie Marsan.   Well acted. Edward Norton uses his talent for inscrutability very effectively in the role of the illusionist,   you can read into his behaviour that which you expect.
  • Genre:   period costume drama,  mystery, social commentary, love story.   The plot is not a standard Hollywood format unravelling in a pleasingly unpredictable path.
  • Sets:   outstanding European venues including steam trains, theatres, palaces, country parks, mountain ranges.
  • Music:   Philip Glass.   the modern music, referencing period genres  works extremely well with the nature of the film, period with novel storyline detail.
  • Female roles: only one notable role for a female.   The love lead,   now there’s a surprise.   Jessica Beil’s character is written with the standard ‘modern’ perspective on a period female-character expressing her control in a modern manner yet still managing to be a victim of the patriarchy.   The character is  poorly written.
  • chic flick?:   possibly,   not being a chic it’s difficult for me to tell.   It’s not a puke-inducing pinky film of dominantly girl-cast with  bland males seeking them out.
  • Photography: captivating, stylistic yet not intrusive camera work with a strong tendancy to using high contract sepia tones and fuzzy-edged backlighting.   Expertly interwoven visual effects including animations.
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the proposition

Monday, February 5th, 2007 | tags: ,  |

Not my cup of tea.  


ratings explained

Only recommended if you like film’s that have

  • focus on ‘Justice outside the law’  with some plot-unnecessary blood and gore.
  • Beautiful desolate desert scenery (Australia).
  • An impressive UK cast
  • Nick Cave‘s charismatic writing  

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)

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Down in the Valley

Monday, January 29th, 2007 | tags: ,  |

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.

🙂 🙂 🙂

ratings explained


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:

  • the conversation in the bath  because of  the innovative approach to filming, the dialog and set.    
  • Harlan’s visit to his parent’s home.   No music.   No speaking.  The silence heightened the impact on me.    
  • Reflexism.   Using a film set of western ‘My Darling Clementine’  to playfully create a western story within this western  story.   This provided temporary, subtle, light relief as the tension builds.      

An extremely well constructed film  in every technical  level,  acting,  camera-work, lighting, script, direction  etc.   A classic, not popularist, film.

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Monday, January 15th, 2007 | tags: ,  |

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

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂    

ratings explained

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’

Excellent production.

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Monday, January 8th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

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


ratings explained

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.  


  • Visual treat: the detailed graphics in the varied spectacular scenes with creative ‘camera’ angles are a real visual treat,  very high quality.
  • Super-powered ‘bling-bling:   the idea is outstanding,   I want some!
  • Lord of the Rings references:   in visuals,   scene structure and explicitly in dialog.
  • flatulent moose.  A new character with fairly obvious  accessible appeal to all ages.
  • child-friendly goody-bady story:   The classic goody-baddy storyline is fairly easy to follow….  


  • Characters ‘dumbed-down’:   For those familiar with the TV series these characteristis were dumbed-down or simply REMOVED!   Brian doesn’t zoom,  not once!!!!   The ‘Speed’ connection is lost.   Dylan isn’t narcoleptic,   he’s merely ‘sleepy’.   His Narcolepsy could have been used to great comic effect.   Dougal isn’t sarcastic,   worse still he’s  gained a sickeningly soppy overt affection  for Florence.   Dougal does like ‘Candy’,   not specific to the Cocaine-like ‘sugar’. Ermintrude doesn’t fly or have a flower in her mouth.    Ermintrude does like singing, badly. Mr. MacHenry is not there dealing the drugs.  Zebedee is referred to as a ‘Wizard’.   Generally they’ve filtered out many of the extreme characterisations that made the characters outrageously fun for adults.  
  • No blue cat.  Dougal’s historical and natural (cat) nemisis did not feature in the storyline.   Why create a totally new baddy rather than leverage and develop the pre-existing characterisation?
  • Negative modifications of the female roles:   Florence is not portrayed as the voice of sensible authority.   Florence has a minor role in a frighteningly typical ‘woman as damsel in distress’ format. She’s a victim with not real sense of character beyond loving her dog.   Erminturde is similarly recast as a ‘love object’ that aspires to success in the celebrity world.   If I am to believe the magazines,   aspirations towards celebrity are acceptible for a female. The program producers could easily have built a witty different, legitimate aspirational model for Ermintrude.   They didn’t.   All the action confrontation scenes involve the male characters.   Ermintrude’s contribution to the groups success is through using her voice and dexterity.   Acceptable girly qualities.   Both qualities are the source of humour, ridiculed.
  • Voice recasting:       Unfortunately for me the US version has many voices re-cast.   No Tom Baker (Dr. Who),  Robbie Williams (pop star), Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), Ray Winston (Sexy Beast), Lee Evans, or  Jim Broadbent.   While these voices are not American most are known to the American audience they are all highly professional recognisable performers.   It’s a sad choice to replace them.    

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!

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Sleepless in Seattle

Monday, December 25th, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

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.  

 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁          

 Ratings Explained

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.

Key characters:

  • Male = Tom Hanks = recently widowed father of one son, Architect
  • Female = Meg Ryan = Magazine writer (? I can’t remember and none of the plot reviews I’ve read reference her job,   after all it can’t be important,   she’s only a woman),   engaged to a rich man

Three points of Analysis:

  1. Role reversal would undermine the social acceptability of the plot.   If a man (rather than Meg Ryan) was investigating a widowed woman (rather than Tom Hanks),   while engaged to another woman, following them,   writing them letters, considering a stronger emotional attachment to the ‘stalked’ woman than thier fiance, lying to their fiance,  how would we value that man?   Is this movie saying that it is okay for women to stalk, lie and be unfaithful?   Is it acceptable for a woman to behaive like this?   Is it acceptable for a man to behaive like this?   I’d argue that irrespective of gender this behavior is unacceptable.   That the film places a woman in this role suggests that the film makers,  and potentially viewers, can accept that a woman if deceptive,   unfaithful,   conniving etc.   I consider this a slander.   That it appears acceptable, through the popularity of the film, is more than disappointing.
  2. Widowhood legitimises male singleness.   Why not divorce?   Divorce is more common than widowhood.   Widowhood gives the Tom Hanks character a ‘he’s a good guy’ status.    Divorce could potentially undermine this status because a substantial proportion of the audience would have first-hand expereince of divorce,   would know that mistakes were made, imperfection is implied,  blame is hidden and not fully understood by outsiders.   Using widowhood was a strong strategic ploy to provide the Tom Hanks character with a  good, clean history that we could trust,   it gains audience sympathy without raisng any questions of potentially realistic imperfections.   He  is portrayed as  unblemished.   Why wasn’t the female put in this ‘above and beyond question’ good person role?   I was disappointed that the Tom Hanks role was placed in a socially unquestionable position while the female role was not.
  3. Humour at the expense of portrayed stereotypes of women.   One of the most offensive scenes involved Tom Hanks,   a male friend and his wife disucssing a so called  “chick movie” (An affair to remember).   The woman describes the plot with emotion and empathy and difficult to understand dialog.   Her husband then explains that the non-understandable description is because the film was a ‘chick movie“.   They then parody her expressiveness  while descibing what can only, pressumably,   be a ‘not-chick movie’,   ‘The Dirty Dozen’.   It is pressumably ok to classify films as ‘chick’ and ‘not-chick’ movies,   it is okay to demean this woman’s inarticulate expression as a ‘chick’ thing,   obviously you can’t expect articulate expression from women,   to top it all she laughs at their woman demeaning humour.   Pressumably because she’s a good sort who understands that to be a woman is to be inartiuclate, over emotional and the butt of Jokes.   What a terrific gal.   I nearly puked.   Some internet searches confirmed my suspicion that this film is considered a ‘chick-flick’ itself.   I guess I’m just not a ‘chick’,   I am very definitely a human being and a female,   just not part of this bizarre patriarchal consipiracy that appears to define women as ditsy, unreliable,    seekers of ‘true’ love, with bundles of humility when they are the targets of derrogatory humour.

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…

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Monday, December 18th, 2006 | tags: ,  |

Movie Monday!

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.

🙂 🙂 🙂

ratings explained


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.

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The Queen

Monday, December 11th, 2006 | tags: , ,  |

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.

🙂 🙂

ratings explained


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).  


  • Excellent package.   Well directed,   excellent screenplay with Hollywood style ‘soundbites’ taken from original speaches and cooked-up for the film. An outstanding performance by Helen Mirren.   A fabulous cast including Sylvia Simms as the Queen Mother.
  • Alistair Campbell is just as offensive as I’d always imagined him to be.
  • British car industry remnants are still evident with the Prime Minister in a Rover and Royalty dashing aound Balmoral in half a dozen Land Rovers.   Unlike film’s like ‘The Layer Cake’ where modern British gangsters product-placed drive German,  rather than classic British, cars.
  • Witty.   Despite the drama and distress the film is laced with poignent humour and light relief.   Phew.
  • Diana’s life not disected.   Limited material or investigation into Diana’s life.   The film is definitely not a ‘who done it’ or questioning the Royal families relationship dynamic with Diana during her life.   Naturally it touches on this but not excessively or tediously.   This is a non-trivial achievement given the popular interest in Princess Diana.
  • Period film-footage: this was used very effectively to build atmosphere and convey the shere scale of the crowd scenes. The live shots of the big-screens erected in hide-park to cover the funeral,   the shots of the flowers laid outside the various palaces.



  • Breadth of appeal.   Not interested in the current British Royal family and political dynamics?   Then this isn’t the film for you.   I can’t imagine this film having a broad appeal,   but I could be wrong.
  • personally powerful details omited.   On the day of Diana’s death all the Radio stations played sombre music with all day.   The only ‘talk’ was an announcement every 30 minutes that Diana had died.   This was particularly impactful for me travelling on a 6hr journey on a foggy, rainy August day  after an emotionally and physically tiring weekend in a car with only the Radio for company.
  • Too respectful.   The satirical portrayals of The Queen mother in classic period TV shows like Spitting Image highlighted her enjoying a tipple of Gordan gin and gambling.   I noticed no subtle references to this satiral image.
  • 14 point stag: one theme in the storyline was a bit too soppy, with unclear significance to me.   The Queen has a ‘moment’ with a 14 point stag.   The stag is killed in an hunt with an unclean shot by an amatuer hunter,   The Queen visits the corpse of the stag and passes her comliments to the hunter.   Maybe this storyline was a comment on how she expressed her respect of death more openly to an animal than to her ex-daughter-in-law.   Maybe its an   indication of capability for respect and consideration.   I wasn’t sure.   The stag scenes were somewhat surreal.   For me they didn’t work.

Maybe you can point out more of the low-lights,   I’m having a bit of trouble seeing them 😉

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rules of attraction

Monday, July 24th, 2006 | tags: , ,  |

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:

  • unrequited attraction.   The film’s title is appropriate because it would be difficult to describe the story lines as being either love,   lust or obsessions,   but they were ‘attractions’.
  • emotional and physical abuse directed at self (suicide, degrading behaviors) and others (rape, physical violence).   It seemed so ‘accepted’ by characters within the film as the way things are.    I suspect this may be realistic.
  • fantasy. several characters in the film appear to build attractions to others based on a constructed, fantasy, understanding of what those people are like  not based on what we as the audience see and hear they are like.
  • loneliness.   This was intertwined with  the fantasy thread.   Lonely people using their imaginations to develop relationships into something ‘more’ than they are.    Some  of the characters in the film were being drawn into, or seeking, a fulfilling intimate relationship.    Two characters towards the end of the film expressed this with the simple phrase “you don’t know me“.

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.

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Sweet Sixteen

Monday, June 26th, 2006 | tags: ,  |

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

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match point

Saturday, June 10th, 2006 | tags: ,  |

 Match point, well executed though lacking originality

🙂 🙂

ratings explained

Recommended for people who fit in at least one of the following categories:

  • are fascinated by watching talented actors with unusually large top lips (Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson) deliver weak dialogue  with buckets of sultryness.
  • adore listening to plummy English accents.
  • thrive on wathcing classy delivery of bit part’s by outstanding actors like Brian Cox and Penelope Wilton
  • are committed Woody Allen fans, enjoying his style and pet obsessions irrespective of how familiar they are from his previous films.
  • have not seen Crimes and Misdemeanors. Angelica Huston and Martin Landau did a good job originally. Is this a remake? l don’t think so. It’s difficult to tell.
  • can’t help enjoying themselves when they see the gherkin or any part of it.

Excellent acting and camera work but way too familiar plot with some rather weak dialogue.   l wouldn’t watch it again.

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The Lucky Slevin

Sunday, April 30th, 2006 | tags: ,  |

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:

  • Revenge.   several different revenge plots.   I guessed many plot ‘twists’ before they were explicitly revealed.   This was due to a very streamlined  script but it dampened the film’s impact as a thriller because  it felt predictable despite some very novel scenes.   The story structure is good quality but not innovative.

Other notable points

  • The opening credits were impressive because of the graphic effects and  their  relevance to the plot.   You are taken straight into the movie while the credits are delivered.  
  • Morgan Freeman’s velvet voice.   Isn’t it always?  
  • Ben Kingsly as an American Rabbi. Riveting performance.   My main motivation for seeing the film was  experiencing Ben Kingsly act with Morgan Freeman.   There is one scene that contains both actors.
  • Lucy Liu is not playing a vamp.  A pleasant suprise.   Very adorable character,   intellegent and cute without being a clutz.   The sugar collection scenes that establish her character provided a film highlight.   A credit to the scene scripting,   acting and direction.
  • Bruce Willis is  not stretched by his role.   He had much more room to demonstrate his talent in 12 Monkeys, Sixth sense, Die Hard  or even Pulp Fiction.
  • Lack of character development.   None that I noticed.   The boy and the girl fell in love.   Some people  discovered stuff they didn’t already know.  Some people died.   That’s not really character development.


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V for Vendetta

Friday, April 28th, 2006 | tags: , ,  |

Highly recommended 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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:

  • Revenge: Alexandra Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Christo” is both explicitly and implicitly referenced.
  • Masked caped hero of justice: a similar theme to “The Mask of Zorro“,   a story familiar to US audiences.   The hero uses a pre-christian runic style ‘Z’ symbol.   V for Vendetta uses a runic style symbol.   Why do I call them runic style?  ((not an actual rune))   Runes were originally created by cutting-wood, straight lines are more easily carved than curves.   Runes are made of short straight lines.   This runic site comments that:

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.”

  • Totalitarianism:   Numerous implicit references to the strategies, practices  and timing of Hitler’s rise to and maintainance of power.   Another reference is to George Orwell’s ‘1984’.   For me this was particularly striking because John Hurt played a roll in the film of 1984 and a contrasting roll in this film.   The filming of the scenes starring John Hurt are powerfully reminiscent of scenes from the film 1984.   The analogy to America is very subtle,   I believe it does exist through references to ‘Terrorism’ and how fear is used to manipulate the populous.
  • Scapegoat & Spin:   the gunpowder plot theme is beautifully  used in the film.    The film exlicitly portrays the story as ‘man against government’.   Implicitly its relevance is far more substantial.   The government of 1605 spun the story that  Guy Fawkes had lead a large Catholic conspiracy to undermine government.  It is likely that the authorities knew of the plot in advance, let it happen,  picked Guy up at the scene, published the treasonous event  then used it to engender sufficient fear to support the subsequent removal of key Catholics.   Many were  hung drawn and quartered for complicity in the ‘plot’.    Fear invoked.   A national celebration instituted.   We survived, etc.   Politically influenced media spin 401 years ago!  

Other notable points:

  • Use of the 1812 overture.   As a pre-teen I  didn’t like  listening to my parent’s Sibelius albums on a Sunday.   If they HAD to play classical music could they please  put on  the 1812 overture or Holst’s Planet Suite (I liked Mars).   Occassionally they indulged me and I’d jump up and down to the 1812 overture while improvising explosion noises.   It’s a fun game.   I resisted the temptation to jump up and down in the cinema…
  • English rose: The English rose plays several significant symbolic roles in the film.   It’s a  very evocative symbol to me:   The national flower of England;  Represented in  the English Rugby Union team and Football team insignia; The red rose  is the symbol of the House of Lancaster;   The white rose is the symbol of the House of York;    Famously battling for control of England in the War of the  Roses;   Paul Weller’s poignant accoustic ballard  “English Rose”;   The Damned’s first single ‘New Rose“;    The concept of an ‘English Rose’ as an outstandingly beautiful  of girl of snow white skin, rose red lips and dark hair;   The idealistic image of roses growing around the door of an English, thatched,  cottage.   I buy myself red roses when I need good heart, courage.
  • Natalie Portman cast as a Londoner.   Why cast an American when there are plenty of talented and capable British actresses?   The rest of the cast were predominantly British.  Presumably Natalie was included to draw the none-British  audiences with a ‘big name’.   Despite my initial reservations I found Natalie’s performance worked extremely well.  
  • The dialogue coach was the first credit following the cast.   Very approrpriate.   Natalie Portman’s accent was increadibly good.   It was subtly regional rather than the often inappropriate  ‘plummy’ upper class accent that I found ruined my experience of Renee Zellweger’s  interpretation of the essentially middle-class Bridget Jones.  
  • Church & Monarchy: The light reference to established churches and complete lack of reference to  a monarchy   are  not detrimental to the film.   They are interesting.   The gunpowder plot was conducted on a day when the Monarch,   James  I,  would be in Parliament.   He was part of the target.   The protestant catholic tension was a core point of discontent in 1605.   V does reference religeous corruption and a core spokesperson talks of ‘God’ being with England.     I noticed no references to Monarchy and the existance of a hereditary class system.
  • Speech excerpts played over the closing credits.   I heard the voices and felt more compelled to stay and listen than when a song typically plays with the credits.   This comment that I later discovered was a recording on  Gloria Steinem was very powerful: “This is no simple reform… It really is a revolution. Sex and race, because they are easy and visible differences, have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labor in which this system still depends.

Frendy Fizzz recently published another, shorter,  praising review.

V for Vendetta
1 vote rating 5

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List Enthusiasts

Monday, January 2nd, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |
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.”  
Peter Greenaway

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Lion, Witch and Wardrobe…

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005 | tags: , ,  |

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….

W Wardrobe-Worshiper

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Pride & Prejudice (Working Title)

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005 | tags:  |

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:

  • Convincing and entertaining portrayals of Mr (Donald Sutherland) and Mrs (Blenda Blethyn) Bennet.   The best I’ve seen.
  • Fabulous sets and scene locations (e.g. the tree rest-spot on the way to Derbyshire).      
  • Directional details used to clearly conveyed messages without ‘words’ or heavy reliance on acting skills. Particularly when  conveying Mr. Darcy’s affection for Elizabeth.

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:

  • Tightly laced bodice in one scene that is incosisitent  with the regency style.  
  • General make-up inaccuracy:   Glossy peach coloured  lip gloss.   Lizzie,   NO!   While lip gloss was available in white and red choice and use of colours was limited.  HEAVY use of eye-liner by Bingley’s sister.
  • Kiera Knightley’s posture and deportment was just POOR.
  • Most characters appeared to be under instruction to make their hair look like it had never seen a comb.   Many of the hairstyles were ‘rigidly’ held in scruffy-in-place (hairspray?).  

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:

  • Netherfield Park:   Basildon Park
  • The scene where Darcy proposes  was filmed at the Temple of ‘Apollo’, Stourhead,  Wiltshire
  • Pemberly Exterior and some interiors:   Chatsworth house, including the sculpture gallery.   Chatsworth is actually mentioned in the book & is actually  in the Derbyshire peak district where the fictional Pemberly is based.  
  • Pemberly interiors:   Wilton house.
  • Inn at Lambton:   Haddon Hall, Lizzie’s bedroom.
  • Longbourne:   Groombridge place.
  • The Rosings:   Burghly House, Stamford, Lincolnshire. Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s house.
  • Meryton:   Stamford, Lincolnshire.

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….


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Saturday, November 26th, 2005 | tags: ,  |

Production of the book  “In Cold Blood” from inception to execution.

Intensely harrowing







1 vote rating 5

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Edward R Murrow

Saturday, November 12th, 2005 | tags: ,  |

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:

  • Storyline,  script, direction.   The writer (director and co-star), Clooney, makes the film ‘feel’ topical without wasting time detailing analogies for the audience.   Carefully placed humour that moderates without breaking  the  tense moments,    for example,  early TV advertisements,   an interview with Liberace.
  • Acting: while I recognised the faces of key actors their previous ‘roles’ weren’t spontaneously interrupting the experience and setting my expectations for their character ‘type’.   They were so convincing.  
  • Sound.   Poweful use of ‘silence’ and ‘soft’ sounds like clearly being able to hear the burning pattern of a cigarette in a tense moment as the smoker inhaled.     ….ssssSSSZZZZZZZSSSsssss……
  • Camera work.    Visual construction of scenes.   Very stylistic and contributing rather than distracting from the storyline.  



Wendy allegedly-immoral-alien

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The hours

Thursday, September 15th, 2005 | tags: , ,  |

Film summary details:

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

  • Distinctive female central roles executed brilliantly by Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Miranda Richardson.   Miranda Richardson is a personal favourtie because
    • I’ve been likened to her portrayal of ‘Queenie’ in Black Adder III.
    • Her outstanding portrayal of ‘Ruth Ellis’,   the last woman to be ‘executed’ in the UK  in ‘dance with a stranger’
    • Her amazingly versataille portfolio.
  • An excellent screen script by David Hare.   David is a personal favourite of mine.   I’ve had the honour of being cast in plays he’s written.
  • The value of life is questioned.   A worthy topic of consideration.   It’s profoundly distressing.   This may seem like an odd reason to rate a film as excellent.   I value films that take the audience on journeys they may not have the freedom or courage to take outside of the film.   Films that provoke thought,   manipulate emotions, heighten self and other awareness.   This film is fairly unique in its subject matter for such a famous cast,   yet the subject matter is accessible and potentially very recognisable.   I have very non-mainstream views on the value of an individual’s life that easily align with the decisons made by some people within this film.
  • Philip Glass’s musical score.   Michael Nyman has been my favourite modern composer since I saw ‘The Draughtman’s Contract’   1982 and in subsequent Peter Greenaway films.   Michael is more internationally famous for producing the sound track for ‘The Piano’ starring Holly Hunter,   Harvey Keitel and  Sam Neil.   I normally find Philip Glass’s work pales by comparison.   My introduction to Philip glass was a live performance of the Opera ‘The fall of the house of usher’.   It was tedious.   By contrast,   in this film Philip manages to convey time and mood fabulously.   It turned my opinion of his abilities around.  
  • Clever yet  easy to follow postmodern structure.    Few films have beautifully mastered interrupting and interweaving  multiple interrelated storylines.   Notable other successes are ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Memento’.      
  • Its personal and relevant today.    These women were all profoundly beautiful.   I found myself wanting to stand up and defend them,   to  celebrate their value, to break the pathway of their distress,   to rescue them.   But I couldn’t,   as the people around them couldn’t.   Fundamentally distressing.    This film caused pain.    I cried.    The outcomes felt inevitable and right for the characters.    Things haven’t changed that much.   The  main themes of the film are evident today.   That pain exists.     It’s everybody’s responsibility to remove the pain.

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.


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