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Get Out (2017)
I will not spoil the story for new viewers here but i enjoyed the way that it subverted genres and expectations. It is amusing seeing that some reviewers are calling it 'racist', such comments show that it worked. This is a must see movie that entertains and covers serious issues. Bradley Whitford is excellent and its great seeing a black actor as lead rather than prop to a white hero.
The Lost City of Z (2016)
Biopic of the end of empire
I enjoyed the movie - it was a bit paint by numbers but it covered a huge area of his life and his motivations, it was also a story of decline, the derring-do of the British empire and particular type of hero. I think that he has been overlooked because he 'failed' but the film shows how he respected the cultures he found, in contrast to the other members of RGS. The class-based snobbery of the period is also well represented. Highly watchable and recommended.
The movie was well made and entertaining up to a point. I won't give away any plot spoilers but the ending is exactly what you would predict for this type of movie - think most Dracula movies. I would love to say it was well plotted and thoughtful but seemed like a well-made b-movie. Technically superb and with some good acting but did not really do suspense very well in between scenes, some plot holes.
Sunshine on Leith (2013)
Sunshine on Leith
I hate musicals and went to see this out of a sense of duty. I was born in Leith. The film is probably a good rendition of the musical, the story a little formulaic and it has all the jarring scenes you get where a suspiciously large crowd milling around at an odd time of the day suddenly breaks into dance. Overall I enjoyed it and found it moving (indeed tears welled up) all the same.
I think that the film is a love-letter to Edinburgh and I guess that former Edinburgh folk world wide will flock to see the movie. My only criticism is that there did not seem to be as much use of Leith locations as the title would suggest (yes Edinburgh is beautiful and parts of Leith are disappointing). At the very least would have expected the actors to go to one Hibs game, I like the ones where they get beaten by Hearts, rather than just see a game on a pub TV.
The actors seemed to try to get the local lingo - oddly no "aye, right..." or "i know yer faither" (classic put downs in that part of the world). Jane Horrocks tried (noted use of 'the morn' for tomorrow) but I thought her accent never really seemed to settle. More could have been made of the story of the disabled serviceman and the cheeky nephew, I think.
The use of the Proclaimers music is excellent and set well within the story - the best scene was the opening scene in the Armoured Personnel Carrier before you knew who was who and the arrival of the lads in Edinburgh.
Le scaphandre et le papillon (2007)
why would you choose this...
I missed this when it came around in London but after reading the reviews added it to my "lovefilm" list. When it came, many many weeks later,I had forgotten why I had ordered it. I thought, oh no, why did I choose this! A film about a guy with locked in syndrome?
Well, it is brilliant. I have seen films about prisons and prisoners and there is always hope of remission, here there is none, this is the ultimate horror. The film is an exploration of the ultimate horror being alive and dead at the same time. Only able to communicate with his eye and blinking, Bauby tells you about his life. The story of how he learnt to communicate is inspiring, the amazing patient dedication of the people around him, the way we can hear his thoughts but no one else can are fantastic ways of building empathy with Bauby and his living horror. The phone calls with his absent lover and his father are moving. Life is precious and this film makes that point very clearly.
Often when you go to the movies, you know where a film is going to go, the baddies will be vanquished, the guy will get the world, all the problems will be solved; if that is what you like then this is not the film for you.This is not Glee and there are no explosions mock heroics or CGI special effects, its is very very real.
Its starting point is a character who is detached and lives a peripatetic life in an almost clutter free apartment. The film explores the character and his motivations and those of the other school teachers at a failing school.I found the film engrossing as the realistic messy lifestyles it documented developed depth through the 97 minutes. Statements were made, bubbles burst and hidden secrets revealed. It is gripping too, how will it end, will the lives and problems all be sorted? No signposts just a gripping story.
You will enjoy this movie, it stays with you as you leave the theatre and it makes you ask questions - how did things get this bad.
better than you would expect
I have seen teen films, superhero films and the rest: this absorbed the best from that genre and some of the worst features and turned them into an absorbing film that blended fantasy and reality. The part of the film where the boys discover their super powers is sort of believable and the kind of stunts they pull - teenage.
The story arc of the main character is a little more predictable - think the "little corporal" or Col Gadaffi; but you wonder why films like this cannot show people rising above their circumstances rather than being consumed by them - know your place! I think a person who expects power and respect from others is more likely to get megalomania when he gets more of it and not understand limits, than one for whom it is a new experience - think bankers bonuses!
That said, the way the film was pulled together was excellent and the grey rainy feel added to the dark brooding nature of the story. Some plot holes (editing?) but this is film I would recommend to anyone - its brilliant.
The Artist (2011)
I was lost for words
How often to you go to a cinema on a cold January evening to watch a film and come out feeling that all is well with the world, how often does a cinema audience break out in spontaneous applause at the end of film. IMHO not often enough but it happened tonight in London. This film is brilliant, the acting, the story and the innovative way that it was filmed. It is mostly silent but I loved the way that when sound was used, it was effective and surprising. The old cinema and the 20's are depicted as they would have been in films made in the period. Its not gritty reality like "fishtank", nothing gets shot up, like in almost every other film and TV show: this was a a clever, witty film aimed at a audience with more than one brain cell - encore, more please.
Four Lions (2010)
I enjoyed this film and they way that it told a very moving story about faith, the Taliban and modern Britain. The stories central character was the one sane person with most to lose - yet the film never tried to explain his actions but showed him wrestling with his conscious as he struggled to do what he did. It was like watching men daring each other to go one step further a kind of 'waving not drowning' scenario, before they realised they had gone too far - the scene in the café was brilliant as was the comical death of the most lovable of the gang.
The mad mullah character was brilliant - by casting a white man in this role I think the director was trying to get a white audience to understand these characters are in 'our' terms. He neatly brought across the pointlessness of suicide bombing and the heavy handed attitude of the state - brilliant piece of film making.
The Way Back (2010)
I enjoyed the film, though agreed with other reviewers that it could have been better edited. The main thing I loved about this movie was the way that it showed the brutality of the Stalin regime and how big events have an impact on real people. Those who died nameless and unremembered and unmourned deaths were 'rescued' by this film. I liked way its showed there was respect but clearly not friendship between the men - but who could not communicate with each other about themselves. The saddest part of the story was the young girl who joined them on the trek and died before reaching safety and the critical role she played holding the group together. Colin Farrel was good and his role neatly illustrated the hold that Stalin has on the Russian people, who no matter how abused - still saw him as a hero. It reminds us behind the numbers of deaths that occurred in WW2 there were real people with real stories, just like us, who had to endure much worse than those in the west and did not enjoy a peace dividend.
I loved the scenes in Siberia with the flies (midges in Scotland and Mossies in Spain always find me and I know how they felt).
The great trick that the director pulled off was the subtly contrast the claustrophobia of the camp and the work parties with the epic distances and landscape that they had to cross to reach safety.
The Green Hornet (2011)
what a waste
The movie is spoilt by too much Seth Rogan - he dominates the scenes making long (I guess they were meant to be hunerous) rants at the camera. There is a good story there and the acting was good from the others involved in the movie and I kept feeling they held back story for a sequel - if this hits. The story is a bit thin with both Chou and Diaz being under used.I got the feeling that Jay Chou had been told to play his part a bit like Jackie Chan would have and at times (the fight sequence between Chou and Rogan), I thought Bert Kwouk and Peter Sellers
I would have preferred a film more like "sin city" which acknowledged it was a cartoon world and kept the world that the characters inhabited less real and more styllized. I loved the title sequence at the end - it was here that the film it could have been was most on view. Basically a TV movie with good special effects.
The King's Speech (2010)
I was surprised
I normally avoid certain types of British film (costume dramas and films with people with posh accents pretending to be ordinary) and given the build up with all the usual sorts arty film people liking it (who also bumped up the awful "history boys") I had my concerns.
I went to see this as a filler, Boy - was I wrong. This is a truly great movie. I felt a lump in my throat by the end and was totally absorbed by its pace and story. George V speech to Bertie about monarchy was brilliant - Prince Charles take note. It had no saggy bits. It really captured inter-war London, the odd accents of the time and the class distinctions. The tone of the filming was excellent - the colours were reminiscent of paintings by the Camden group of artists. The now thankfully historic heavy fogs and smogs and the grime of the streets.
I thought the acting was superb and HBC actually made the Queen mum seem real - a little more restrained about the present Queen. The King comes across as fine chap standing up to his advisers and overcoming his fears to lead the country in its most dangerous time.
Burke and Hare (2010)
its OK - i was entertained
The film only had one person from Edinburgh in it - Ronnie Corbett, the remainder has accents that may have been Scottish or not. I note that John Woodvine is described in above as the Mayor in the cast list - he is the Lord Provost that is equivalent to LORD Mayor.
There are some good gags - Greyfriars Bobby episode in the grave yard was brilliant (though' in Ashford Kent - the less sophisticated audience missed it) several laugh out loud moments elsewhere and a good cast that hammed up their roles brilliantly. I thought Simon Pegg did well to find some humanity in his character. Andy Serkis was wonderfully amoral.
Not sure if real Edinburgh locations were used but the 'all girl macbeth' was a nod to the festival and some locations (George IV bridge) looked real. The lanes I was less sure about but l loved the fact it was the early 19th Century in its earthy glory.
Tamara Drewe (2010)
I remember the cartoon strip from the Guardian and the compelling story that made the Saturday paper a must buy each week that it ran. I had two worries going into the film: what happens if they change it and make it awful; and, I had imagined Tamara a little older than Gemma Arterton - maybe she was not right for the part. Film makers often disappoint (the "Time Travellers wife" is a case in point where an excellent story was ruined by someone not understanding the multiple viewpoints in the book).
Not sure if this was aimed at fat middle aged blokes - but it worked for me, my worries were groundless: the comedy and drama survived from the story (maybe Posy Simmonds should create more novels that can be filmed). The casting was excellent and Roger Allam gave a fantastic performance, Tamsin Greg was brilliant as usual and Gemma Arterton was a revelation in the lead role. The Drumming sequence with 'Ben' in the cottage was particularly brilliant. It was good with its 'loser' characters (and I thought, maybe they should have weekends to help civil servants write inspiring briefing for uninspiring Ministers)
I am amazed at the negative reviews on the site, I do not think that that the film tried to be more than it was and yes it was set in an idyllic English village - that was the point. Maybe these reviewers should be more careful at the multiplex and are more at home with rubbish like the "Expendibles". Not clear about the link to 'Cold Confort Farm' made by another reviewer this is clearly a different style of story about modern people in the modern countryside.
There was superb characterisation by a first rate cast in a subversive story that played with the stock characters that stories in English villages always have and made some real points about what is happening in these communities and about peoples lives and how selfish actions and jokey 'messing' can have big consequences in other people's lives.
Go and see this movie.
Das Leben der Anderen (2006)
This is the movie of the year. it touches on themes and issues that should concern us all and was full of humanity. i do bot know how likely the scenario is or even if there is an element of truth to it, but you want it to be so. this is a real world film that picks away at the political fictions that we or others impose on us and reminds us that there are certain values that we should cherish as human beings.
The way that the protagonists prospered or did not after the fall of communism also had a ring of truth. the apparatchiks of freedom would be the apparatchiks of totalitarianism. I hope that this is/was picked up by the Oscars and not in the best foreign language category, judging by its run in London, its more mainstream and more important that the recent crop of Gulf movies to emerge from Hollywood.
Whats happened in Germany, they are now producing the best films in Europe! what i also liked was that I felt I was there. The dull civil service aspect and fear of saying the wrong thing were brought out really well.
If i had ever been tempted to be a secret agent,It would be this one.
Youth Without Youth (2007)
not too sure
I found the movie hypnotic and was really annoyed when I had to interrupt watching it to go the toilet (it is a long way from the screen in Cineworld Haymarket no 3).
Did I enjoy it, that is more difficult to say, I was not entirely satisfied with the ending and realized that I needed to see it again to piece together the meaning of the third rose. I think I will end up buying it on DVD though just to see if I got everything. It reminds me a little of a movie I saw about Marcel Proust (time regained?)- this was reminded me of sprawling 1970's Italian films. One way you can tell if a film is good, does it remain with you outside the cinema, this one does. I found myself running over its themes on the way home.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
awful awful awful awful
This movie is terrible. The only saving grace was the 5 minute film at the beginning. I kept thinking what movie are they trying to make, what the point? there was none. It was awful, Owen Wilson put in an interesting performance as err... Owen Wilson. It was full of actor-ing,if I wanted ham, I would have gone to the West End and watched some pretentious play. I come to the movies because they have the ability to reflect life or to take you to another world, this film did neither.
Maybe the producer/directer watched too many of those stiff dull British films about the time we ran the place, then accidentally replaced all the Indian Indians with Americans in wigs and beards? There are good movies to be made about Indian experience (none of them from Bollywood - judging by the few I have seen). This movie was not a good movie about India - it was not a good movie, it had no point, no middle and the end was sentimental pfaff. I was pleased that I had a cineworld pass, had I paid £10.00 to see this, I would be demanding my money back.