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Dead Poets Society (1989)
The overwhelming feeling I had from this movie was it was contrived, rather than a moral that grew out of a story I found it a story that grew out of a moral, rather like a fable.
I Thought the screenplay poor although as a story it was OK, apart from many cinematographic highs it has many bad movie making points, it lacks narrative and at times seems disjointed. It could have been done better if rather than just concentrate purley on the lessons with the English teacher they had other lessons with other teachers who had differing more traditional methods it could have added conflict between teachers, meaning to many pointless scenes in the movie.
Williams is superb and so are most of the boys, and a real feel of the 50's is created. Many of the situations "created" or contrived to prove the moral to me are ridiculous and quite pointless.
The big failure for me is the ending I find that the lads suicide is ridiculous and simply would not have happened to the boys character did the writer never hear of the character arc We needed to see more persecution of the lad by the father and other teachers, maybe even a little of the Mothers life and love for her son living under a dictatorial Father ( this was hinted at but not exploited to dramatic effect) . Its a good movie to see if you need uplifting and many will get a kick from it and I can understand why. I also found the desk scene at the end quite strange and I could not help bring Spartacus to mind.
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
This movie really is beautiful, it is a classy well constructed, well made piece of work. The direction is slick and the cinematography is sublime. The use of colour is wonderful and if you can see it in HD to fully appreciate its beauty. It could be contrived by some as being slow and a little self indulgent. I can see this point of view. However you will get no such complaint from me. I could have watched this movie with the sound off and still loved it. Long panning camera shots, beautifully framed scenes are the norm. Even a journey from one building to another in a rain storm is spectacular. With lingering shots of water cascading down a tiled roof gently leading the eye to the young girl who appears from the top right. Or shots of her on the same journey running through a corridor of colour. True movie making art.... and I loved it.
Joyeux Noël (2005)
Watered Down attempt that rambles on a bit
It seems I had waited 44 years for a movie about this fascinating historic event. I love modern history and movies. I purchased this DVD and kept it for Xmas day. This was a tad disappointing. A weak sub plot attempted to pad out the movie involving two singers and at one point I thought it was turning into a musical.The movie was not gritty enough and missed a golden opportunity to show the true horror of the trenches and the incredible beauty of this amazing event. Don't get me wrong its not bad I just expected more. I somehow think this attempt will be bettered when a true filmmaker gets a shot at it. Until then it's a passable attempt and well worth seeing.There is a sermon at the end of the movie that I find questionable. Good subject matter does not guarantee a great movie, however its the rare magic that happens when you mix the two I crave for. Schindler's list and All quiet on the Western front are fine examples. The cinematography was good the DVD has a good quality soundtrack and I found the white balance in a predominately white environment well done. A lack of special features and an historical documentary was also a missed chance.
An American Haunting (2005)
Oh Dear !!!!!!!!!!!
If you are a student of film you need to see this movie. Study it and then use it as an example of how not to make a movie. I care not about the legend. I care not about if its a good ghost tale, I mean this is a bad movie. The set rattles and shakes, the camera work is not good, the plot is so confusing its like the ramblings of an incoherent fool. The ending is hysterical its like someone took another film chopped of the end spliced it onto this one and then re shot a few scenes added them to the main movie to make it fit said "that will do" in Ed Wood style and released it thinking people will never notice. Its really that poor. It may however make you jump and it may scare you it kinda works in parts as a scary movie. But thats about it IMHO
The Constant Gardener (2005)
I was really disappointed in this movie, I was however enthralled by the acting ability of the two main characters and Ralf shows he is real talent capable of many emotions and shows an ability to portray emotion that is somewhat stuffy and stifled. Where this movie really fails is in the screenplay and direction. It is lifeless and so drawn out and at times tedious. The use hand held cameras, is overdone to the point of nausea ( it makes me feel sick) He presumable did it to create a "Fly on the wall docu" style to many scenes however for me it detracts and makes it hard to follow. I prefer it used to portray disorientation, and panic like in the beach scenes in Saving Private Ryan. I also think that the story is rather thin and the plot is rather pretentiously spread out to create a depth that is not there. My wife and I worked the plot out within an hour of the movie starting. However the climax at the church near the end is very good and I thought carried weight. Just a word on Bill Nighly, he lifts this movie every time he is on screen, and is a joy to watch. Pity we did not see more of him. I also found the views expressed one sided and felt it could have been more thought provoking if even a hint of the good that may have come from the drug testing could have been shown I don't know if this aspect is covered in the novel. Having seen Crash which won the Oscar last year I agree with the academy on this one this was a poor second.
Wuthering Heights (1992)
A difficult one to call
The original version as a film I prefer to this adaptation, however this attempt does at least attempt to follow the book a littler closer and at least finishes off the tale. The acting I enjoyed however the film is terribly rushed, and lacks any real passion. It skips along like an English lit paper and only summarises the book rather than tells the story with any life or gusto. The original was black and white and very atmospheric. This movie tries to create the dark atmosphere by shooting long dark or dimly lit passages that are hard to view. I enjoyed the movie but just felt disappointed and find it hard to see how two superb actors( who do a fine job) can turn this passionate story into lifeless affair with only brief flashes of what could have been when the two lead actors do get their teeth into a scene. Perhaps they should have made two movies the second dealing with the tale from Cathys death as this was missed out all together from the original movie.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
In My Humble Opinion.
I have called my review " In My Humble Opinion" for no other reason than I honestly do not intend to cause offence to anyone in the following review. I am an atheist, and also a movie lover. I came to this film with no pre conceived ideas at all. I was not looking for anything in particular as I believe you will in most cases find what you look for in life as in art.
I respect entirely all people with religious convictions and sometimes even envy them. I think this film is a personal statement by Mel Gibson on his belief that Jesus died for him and other Christians. He felt compelled to try to give some insight into what Jesus went through as graphically as possible to drive home the sacrifice he willingly made. The violence in this film is almost relentless. And the lack of story is irrelevant if I am correct. As like an impressionist painter he has tried to capture a moment. It's light and its feeling. Emotion cannot be painted or portrayed any other way. Detail however can be and was not needed (We all know the Story).
I think that there are two groups of Christians who will comment on this film people who look for Christ's life as inspiration will be disappointed. People who find purpose in his Death will not and will truly begin to understand the suffering he went through for you. I do not see this work as a entertainment, or even a documentary it's a statement, it's a canvas that has been filled with emotion, blood, and hope. Entertainment it is not. Art I honestly believe it is.
Bleak House (2005)
Uncomfortable to watch
I was so looking forward to seeing this so, so as I dislike serialised drama I waited 'till the DVD came out so I could view it all in 1 weekend. Unfotunatly I could not get past the first episode without being made to feel like I had been trapped in a pin ball machine for an hour with me as the ball. it gives the impression of being shot in a 12x12 room with the camera attached to a 6 ft rope. Its so claustrophobic to view. The editing is appalling and gives the feeling that the cuts have been made to deliberately save money on transitional sets like out door scenes. I have never felt the need to be quite this close to Gillian Anderson as the cameraman obviously is intent on sitting on her lap along with other naive camera work gives a whole new meaning to the "close up" This is a real pity because the acting performances deserve better. Some fine work by the Artists is badly let down by what can only be described as the worst edited, poorly shot TV drama I have ever been cramped into in my life. If anyone has seen the old B&W Anne Frank which gives a wonderful intentional feeling of claustrophobia you will know what I mean this is like filming a nature documentary on sea-life in a sea-life centre using a camcorder shot by a 12 year old. Beautiful subjects all performing well but would have been so much better in the open sea.
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Did not work for me at all
I Understood this movie let me explain that. However I found this film to be incredible pretentious. I found it tiresome, tedious and boring it gradually disappeared up its own ass and I lost the will to live about half way through the movie. I did not care one bit for any of the characters in this movie and consequently lost interest. There are however a few well directed and acted scenes scattered throughout if you can stay awake long enough. Well made and I can see its appeal I have now seen it twice and have no desire to do so again I like films that make you work but not this hard. I found myself screaming throw me a rope !!! for Gods sake give me some reason to want to carry on with it. It starts off confusing but I wanted to find out more so I hung on after about 40 mins I started to struggle in a nutshell its just too hard work for little reward it did not hold my interest and lacked any character attachment for me. You may not need it but I do I have to connect with the characters
Interesting and worth a go, 20 years ago at about 1.30 AM I might have loved it but not now.
Mrs. Merton and Malcolm (1999)
I love this show to death humour is a strange thing isn't it some people laugh at the strangest things don't they. So there is no point in taking a word of what I say into consideration. I love this show I laughed so hard I cried at times.The first episode with the party and Malcolm singing along to the boom box is right up my street. Its quite dark at times but somehow always manages to stay funny. . Its a a plus point in my opinion that we only had 6 episodes. So many sit coms drag on...and on. and never recapture the freshness of the first episodes . I don't know hey, dead....in front of a two bar fire !! Check it out and make your own mind up
The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)
Well made sugar coated attempt but well worth a watch.
I believe that it is possible to dramatise an historical event and get away with it if the events are altered (Braveheart) if the film is entertaining enough. This however in my opinion does not work. Its very long and did not hold my interest. It should have been a documentary or a movie it tries to be a bit of a hybrid. The black and white cinematography is superb and a genuine feeling of claustrophobia is created with some clever shooting. At times the directing is very good the build up of tension during the air raid is superb and genuinely creates the fear they must have felt.Very little attempt is made to make the appearance of the characters look like they have been living in a loft for 3 years and they look as healthy the day the are arrested as the day they entered it. I found the growing emotional attachment between Anne and the young man a little too sugary and tended to detract rather than add to the movie. However the scene when she is "Fishing" for her good night kiss is well made and ends with a quite moving and well lit atmoshperic conclusion. Overall I enjoyed it but found it dragged somewhat and felt the opportunity to dig deeper into the conflicts between the inhabitants of the loft that must have occurred a mistake. The ending made me smile a little I had visions of Anne writing the "last entry" as the nazi storm troopers waited impatiently for her to finish before the dragged her off. A long film that although is well worth the 3 hrs of your life left me feeling a little let down by the substance and lack of character development.
Open Water (2003)
Ineresting and refreshing piece
Now I know that this movie is fashionable to dislike but I think most of the people who dislike it have had their vision clouded by the spoon fed formula that tends be 80% of movies produced. Now I am not comparing this movie to Chaplins work or indeed Ed Wood but run with me a while. Chaplin and Ed Wood made films initially because they wanted to Chaplin had talent in abundance Ed did not. However I love Ed Wood. Why.. passion, seat of the pants film making. Chaplin wrote the book on film making in many of his films stated with an idea and it developed as it went along. You can feel them you feel part of them not just a viewer.I felt this with open Water, I can appreciate a good and clever script and its sometimes needed to carry a poor story or to create a connection with characters I like good scripts. But people do not talk in real life like they do in movies. So I also love scripts that are natural like Open Range. Opens Waters script is not contrived its natural its real and puts you in the movie almost in real time. Some people will find this slow and hard work I liked it. The cinematography is clever it feels like a home movie but looks in parts very good with some nice touches. Again some may be annoyed its a bit jerky and disjointed but by no means like Blair Witch. If you bring to this movie a spoon fed mind expecting to be assaulted by effects and gore then you will go away empty and you will hate it. However if you go with an open mind and expect to see a very slow quite tense piece of work that focuses on peoples emotions and preys on your fear rather than tries to scare you with someone else's daemons you may just enjoy it.
The Greatest Dog Of All Time ( And a good movie)
I love movies, I also love Dogs so I had a head start with this one. However I have always been a fan of this little dog. Although not exactly a documentary ( Jock was in real life a policeman not a shepeard). But the basic tale is true as far as I know, and is a true adaptation of the book. The acting is superb, the sets are wonderful and have captured Victorian Scotland superbly. If like me you cry at animal tales then get the tissues out, sit back and have your faith restored as to why the Dog is the greatest creature on Earth. And truly Man's best pal. If you feel moved enough you could even visit Scotland and see the gravestone that bobby sheltered from the rain under and his collar is still in one of the museums.
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
You must see this film, its a pleasure to behold. Roberts acting is superb and brings a chill to my bones when he is on screen. But the real triumph of this movie is in the making. The cinematography and directing are to die for. The lighting is superb and at times quite surreal in parts. There are parts of this film that are so well done that words are not needed and would have got in the way of the imagery. The boat scene is quite amazing and almost "fairy tale" in nature. look out for the contrast in the scene when the boat arives at the barn. Clear sky, mirror like water on the river as still as a duck pond, the clearnes of the night as the moon makes it's way over the sky. They are forced to leave...the preacher arives. Clouds cover the moon, turbulence on the river. A little way down the river when they have put some distance between them and the preacher all turns back to tranquility again. Not one word spoken, and may I add not needed if ever you needed to see why black and white films can create a mood far better than colour this is the film to see. Some may find it over produced but not me I love it.
Reign of Fire (2002)
5/10 could do better
Strange film !!! badly directed and plays like a TV movie. Probably because the director is so use to TV work. The film would have been better if the main story had been the fight for the world that is mentioned in the movie , its almost like a follow up movie to a movie that was never made. Liked the way they linked the extinction of the dinosaurs and the creation of the ice age into the the theory of dragon history. Very slow at the start and lacks any real momentum. The dragons look quite good and are convincing enough in fact they are more real and less wooden than some of the acting in this movie.
Schindler's List (1993)
No not the subject, we all know the story. This film to me and I stress "To Me" is perfect. I cannot watch it without crying. Crying with envy of the ability of the man. The sheer filmaking skill of this movie leavs me breathless. I could ramble on for hours and often do about this film. One day I hope I live long enough and I am lucky enough to meet SS in person. Just to thank him for the pleasure this movie has given me.
A Feast Of Genius
From start to end this film is a joy to behold, the photography, the sound effects and above all the sheer genius of the man. At times I wept it's so funny. If imitation is the greatest compliment then this man has had so many compliments paid him over the years it beggars belief. Mr Bean, Peter Sellers, and many more. Often copied never bettered.