Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Good Liar (2019)
One dimension lacking tension
Who cares who the actors are if the story treatment means you can accurately predict the end just minutes into the story. Mirren gives away nothing in her portrayal of the good liar and that is this film's big mistake. If we were engaged as knowing viewers there'd be more to the plot development. As it is, we're left with cardboard cutouts of WWII survivors...and unbelievable versions of those. A shame. This could have been a much better film with only minor changes.
Tribute to a true star
Prepare to be moved to tears. Renee Zellweger pulls off a believable, sympathetic and engaging portrayal of Judy Garland. Even without knowing the true extent of the personal difficulties Garland had to face in her short life, this film manages to convey the singer's compulsion to perform. The people surrounding her, whilst often acknowledging her incredible skill, nevertheless seemed to have been hell-bent on undermining her. This film hints at the toxic environment Garland inhabited in order to ply her trade. The story is sad but Garland shines through. What a star! And what a marvelous film, actors, script, cinematography all working beautifully together. Deserves to win all the awards and plaudits.
Mrs Lowry & Son (2019)
A bit of saccharin helps
Certain of Lowry's paintings have become iconic since the painter's death so, we cannot really feel the rejection he is subjected to by his screen mother, Vanessa Redgrave. Redgrave gives somewhat of a likeable performance of a woman who by all accounts was a harridan with ideas well above her station in life. The real Mrs Lowry did suffer some unfortunate life experiences and yes, blaming her son - whose birth was extremely difficult - is understandable to an extent. However, to persist with this attitude towards her son for 52 years is damnable. We don't really get to see this real nastiness in this saccharined and tidied up portrayal. For all its faults though, Spall and Redgrave give a creditable sense of depth to this brief view of one of Britain's most beloved modern artist's life. Older viewers will spot a number of glaring prop errors but that still doesn't deflect from a nicely told fictional tale based on a real person.
Dolor y gloria (2019)
Flawed story arc
Sadly, Almodovar fails to convince in this colourful depiction of a version of his own life. He knows his own story. We know some of his story. We know who he has worked with. We know, and can guess what things interest him. However, in this venture he has forgotten that there is an audience who wants to be drawn into a story, to be entertained, to be mesmerized into embodying a character that appeals etc. We learn too late in this film that the scenes depicting the film director's ( the character Salvador Mallo), early life as a child with Cruz playing his idealized mother are, in fact, the filmed within film sequences showing the output of the aforementioned Mallo. The clunky dialogue and slightly off scripting may have been intended to demonstrate Mallo's declining skills but, they instead convey poor story development by Almodovar. Whilst portraying elements of his own childhood and the icons and memories important to himself (Almodovar), he puts the filmic point of view inside the non-feeling camera. This is an error. The camera has an operator, after all, and the film a director and an editor. We see none of these performing their functions relative to the scenes of filming incorporated into the whole. Other than for Almodovar fans and film buffs determined to winkle out fine details, a casual viewer will come from watching this completely nonplussed as to what they have just seen.
The warping mirror that is Hollywood
I deliberately didn't read, listen to, or watch any reviews of this film before watching it. Let Tarantino tell me himself, let the movie speak. And so it does. Superficially, there is a tale of thwarted acting ambition, precarious employment, precarious life, gallows humour, trouble and strife (beautiful wives often coming with some hard to live with personal habits/traits they can do nothing about), the contrast between the 'haves' and have not's', outward appearances and the very different internal dialogue of certain characters...much more in fact. This, as we all knew before we stepped into the movie theatre, is a film we will revisit many, many times. It has plenty to keep us entertained for decades. Tarantino manages to conflate fact and fiction in a very entertaining, if gruesome, tale. His story references the Californian Tate and LaBianca murders, the Manson Family cult, the film careers of Burt Reynolds (who had, ironically been cast by Tarantino as the blind recluse at the Manson Family ranch, George Spahn, in this film but died) and Hal Needham, Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood, a precocious child actor - possibly Jodie Foster etc, and all the while referencing his own (Tarantino's) filmography - e.g. the reading of pulp fiction, 'Dogs' , music references etc. I haven't awarded a 10 only because this film cannot convey it's full message in one sitting - this isn't necessarily a fault but, by the very fact that this film has to be seen more than once sets it apart. It's a grim tale with some horrid truths wrapped in it. This is not everyone's cup of tea. I enjoyed it though.
Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
There is no doubt that time and expense were not spared in the production of this film. This does not prevent it being an absolute dud. Whilst there are big orchestral pieces there is no memorable tune or anything else to engage with. The script lacks vivacity and drags on and on until we eventually reach the predictable end. Was the whole shot against a green background? If not why are the actors so oddly placed, their eyes pointing in peculiar directions. Blunt gives a creditable performance undermined only by the lack of decent story line and script. Stand out performance is Streep as Cousin Topsy. Shame the rest of the film wasn't as magical as Streep's little set piece. Watch once and forget.
The White Crow (2018)
Like no other
Ralph Fiennes manages to steer a somewhat tortuous journey through Nureyev's early life and then his dance career up to the time of his defection to the West. At times, the story arc is rather confused by the constant flips between past and 'present'. Nevertheless, we soon see that precedents for Nureyev's life choices prove interesting in themselves. Dancing by Oleg Ivenko is evocative of the great man himself. A downside of the almost documentary style treatment is that Nureyev's adult professional dance career is compressed and reduced in importance such that when we reach the key point of the film we are nonplussed as to why this particular dancer is the subject of so much controversy, closely watched by KGB agents and feted by professional dancers we've never heard of. Beautiful script by David Hare, lovely cinematography, well chosen actors but in total, a mite too uneven to be perfection. Viewers should also note that there was an earlier docudrama entitled 'Rudolph Nureyev- Dance to Freedom', 2015, from which White Crow appears to filch its story arc. In truth, Nureyev is far more of an enigma than either film suggests.
Todos lo saben (2018)
And only one speaks out...
In order to get to a point where the story really begins to play out, there is a very long and unfocused backstory introduction. We don't really know what we are supposed to be taking note of. We feel like a fly on the wall, or indeed the drone filming the family wedding...too distant to be engaged in the real actions. We are given a few mis-directions and red herrings, not that we could ever work this out to begin with. We start to believe that a teenage girl has set up a huge scam. This is preposterous but we do so anyway. One character does suspect the truth and is alone in speaking out. Everyone else tip toes about keeping the secrets everyone else also knows. The victims are ultimately the ones who try to make amends. It's a sad tale where no one wins. A subtle and well made film of toxic family closeness.
The Favourite (2018)
IMDB refused to allow my earlier review - all I did was refer to some information recorded in the IMDB listing information for this title. Go have a look. I warned against thinking this as an entertainment. I retain that view. Ms Coleman deserved her Oscar, but not because this is a good film. Do not waste your money or time going to see this. It will NEVER be screened on TV because of its content. Take that as a big hint.
Becoming a person
What is a human life worth? For some, too many in fact, the answer is nothing. The teenage boy in this tale knows he is 'nothing', nothing to his parents, to his society and in Lebanese law. Nevertheless, he takes charge of what he can and tries valliantly to save his closest sister from the kind of future their own mother has lived. He fails and falls into another hell-hole of grinding poverty and alienation only to be given caring responsibilities for the undocumented child of an undocumented immigrant from Ethiopia. The boy has one outstanding trait, compassion for the lost child. He suffers hideous deprivations to keep this child alive and relatively safe. He doesn't know about the cataclysmic events that are playing out around him. All is pain. It is a marvel that anyone in this story can bear to go on. They do and the chaos just keeps going. This is a very powerful and eloquent film. It depicts the Lebanon but this same story is playing out in countries all over the world. Like the boy, all we have the hang on to is hope.
All Is True (2018)
Sentimental revision of history
Here we are again. Let's take some real historical characters and rewrite their lives to fit with our modern day sensibilities. I'd rather 'fictionalised' characters were put into these stories but then, the audiences would have to think. Thinking is too hard, apparently. We instead have to be given a right thorough wash over with emote. There's only crying to be done with this rather morose film. We're missing all those other feelings that give us a nip. Marginal intellect engaged, hankies used, mood altered. I guess that will have to do.
The right woman at the right time
In the great scheme of things, 200 years isn't a long time. In terms of recognising women as fully fledged human beings equal to males, it is far too long. Hurrah for farsighted people like President Carter who enabled the race and gender equality process to begin in earnest. Hurrah hurrah for the The Notorious RBG. Without her, the plight of all disadvantaged people would be as though stuck in the dark ages. This biopic skims rapidly through the great landmark actions that RBG promoted. It's a great testament to her and all those who have worked for the same aims. All men and women are the 'same' and deserve to be treated equally. Recommended viewing for all.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Danger in the family
For those of us without too much classical music knowledge, the music and dancing at the beginning is a bit of a challenge. It turns out this is 'The Merry Widow Waltz' and thus, those knowing viewers are already one step ahead in this game of cat and mouse. Watching this as a complete ignoramus, one is put in exactly the same position as young Charlie and the rest of the Newton family. They don't know they are harboring a dangerous man, and wouldn't (don't) believe anyone who would say anything bad about their jolly, outgoing and personable relative. Hitchcock has managed to depict the true horror of finding out truths no-one else will believe and knowing that someone really has it in for you at the same time. Irrespective of how old this film is, it really does pack a punch and deserves to be in one's top ten of classic films.
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Inventive expose of corporate exploitation
In addressing directly the racism experienced by black people in a white dominated society, this film manages to expose the mendacity and inhumane motives of those corporate mammoths we cannot avoid in all our daily lives. This is achieved in the most inventive of ways using overdubbing, dream sequencing, 'realised' split-screening, fabulous music and excellent dialogue. All the characters are believable...down to the satyr like creatures the big corp is developing. There's so much to pay attention to one must at first just accept the whole and go with it. Far from being preachy and dull, this really is an uplifting film. Beautifully executed from script, cinematography to acting. I want to see it again.
Manbiki kazoku (2018)
Imagine yourself on the margins of economic well being. You're jammed into very small living quarters with barely an inch to yourself. Your work is unskilled and insecure. Your life lacks most of the things everyone else seems to take for granted. Nevertheless, you do have some, if small, control in the way you live your life. In the absence of blood family you choose an odd collection of other people similarly dispossessed. You have a kind of happiness and non-judgmental regard from those companions. Fortified, you begin to supplement your thin earnings with shop lifting. This becomes an exciting little game that you then begin to teach to a couple of child waifs and strays you take into your care. They delight you and they love you. Perfect, hey? We know it isn't. We watch unsurprised when the whole venture starts to unravel. Love lives on though. Even the thief is honest. This film is a compassionate treatment of a difficult subject. It is a little rough around the edges but a satisfying entertainment nevertheless.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
It's the wild West. Watch your back!
You will as likely as not really like some of the characters in this set of stories. Trouble is, that won't save them. There's also a good chance you'll miss some of the film because you're hiding behind your hands. It's scary, it's gruesome, it's funny, it's sad. Are you coming or are you going? You'll be on the edge of your seat, stuffed at the back of your seat. You'll definitely be awake - though you may feel like this is a nightmare!. Oh, brilliant stuff by the Coens and wonderful acting and wonderful cinematography. Back to Blood Simple quality story telling. Well done....Obviously, this isn't for everyone. Those others... this IS for you.
Lost plot hash-up
Eee by eck as like. What a bleedin shambles. For hours you sit through interminable mock-northern twangyness trying to fathom where this rambling dross is going. You know it has to have some scenes from 'Peterloo' - the massacre that occurred on 16th August 1819 when several tens of thousands of people went to St Peter's Field Manchester to hear Orator Hunt speak on the urgent need for parliamentary reform. In this film, you won't learn why this outdoor meeting was turned into a bloodbath even if you do pick up some names to bandy about. Look folks, following the French Wars, ending with Waterloo in 1815, England's working class found themselves between a rock and a hard place. They were experiencing unprecedented deprivations caused by failed harvests, taxation, the loss of work (the introduction of factories and mechanization amongst other insults. They had no representation in parliament where decisions affecting their lives were made. What could they do? In other places there had been riots (East Anglia and Spa Fields 1816) machine breaking (Nottingham and Leicester), marches on London and the Pentrich rising, there had been blasphemy and sedition in the gutter press stirring muck and murk. Peterloo was extraordinary in that the populace had gone specifically without anything resembling a weapon...no walking sticks, no missiles etc. They had nothing with which to defend themselves. It was organised as a family friendly event to which even a band of 150 women paraded their supportive banners. So, what Mike Leigh presents us is a mish-mash of individual incidents that fail to convey the true depth and seriousness of the situation. Trite dialogue includes stupidities such as when, looking at her sleeping child, Maxine Peake's character says "In 1900 she'll be 85". FFS, it is supposed to be 1819, the people think their futures are lost. They're only just in the first fifth of their own new century. What a stupid thing to have a character say. After sitting through more stupidities of this nature, we finally get to see a re-enactment of the massacre. By this time we've learnt how to identify the people who are going to get cut down. The whole shambles is a travesty of what really happened. In reality, the yeomen knew by name the people they harangued. What you don't see is the merchants and factory owners who took it upon themselves to cause the devastation and provoke the yeomen into committing atrocities over and above the hundreds of wounds and injuries suffered by those trapped in the calamitous rout . Suddenly the film ends...what? It is what happened after the massacre that really is of significance but, we don't find anything out about that, the Six Acts or the galvanizing of class warfare. This film is tripe. Give it a miss.
The Wife (2017)
Wooden characterisation needs a "King maker"
The entire story arc for this movie is so obvious you needn't bother wondering whether your predictions are going to be right from the first five minutes. Yes, she is the writer. Yes, he does die. Yes, the boy child seeks only his father's approval and fails to get it (and that approval is not worth tuppence anyway). So, there you have it, now what do you do with your time whilst you watch this predictable story play out? You find fault with the script. You find fault with the characterisations. You marvel at Glenn Close's ability to make something positively credible from unpromising dialogue and stage direction. You feel physically sick by Jonathan Pryce's character or the gross oik he is supposed to be playing. You feel like you could have written a better screenplay yourself but you're no co-dependent like The Wife. You leave the cinema. Oh well, another fine opportunity wasted.
Steve Jobs (2015)
Style over substance
Despite the actor, writer and director big hitters, this presentation manages to lose audience interest just part way in. We all know of Jobs' difficult reputation but his portrayal here provides neither realistic nor believable story telling. Here we are presented a man who goes into a funk the moment someone acts, thinks, or speaks their own truth. Thus, we are led to believe Jobs thinks he is god and cannot be crossed. Instead of creating light he has it extinguished, makes computers look like sharks and refuses to acknowledge the numerous slights and hurts he unnecessarily causes to all around him...oh, apart from his big funders. Similarly, this film casts no light on the man and his motives, trashes the reputations of bystanders and leaves you gnashing your teeth for having wasted your time and money.
Missing role model
Agnes, the dutiful, competent wife of complacent, auto-shop owner Louie, ministers to the gathering supposedly there to celebrate her birthday. There seems to be very little celebrated...she's made her own cake, lights the candles herself and carries the damn thing into the room so that everyone can sing happy birthday and watch her blow out the candles before returning to their own separate conversations etc. Great (not). She doesn't even receive gifts that she wants or are 'age appropriate'. The fact that one is an iPhone is the first indication we have that this is set in the present day...up to then, it could have been anytime 1930's to 1950's. This is the first puzzle. We do learn later that Agnes lost her mother young and thus has no proper marital role model as the wife and mother. She hardly knows who she is but is compliant, uncomplaining and long suffering. Puzzle sets out to show her blossoming self-awareness. She takes her cues about a potential different future for herself by paying close attention to the smallest details in the interactions she has with new people. A beautiful film marred only by the unrealistic portrayal of puzzle gaming...there is a distinct lack of speed! Nevertheless, a worthwhile treatment of middle age female psychological growth.
Zimna wojna (2018)
Inexplicable sexual hunger
There is a lot to commend in this depiction of the post world war rebuilding of lives and traditions. Not least are the singing and dancing performances that form the backdrop to the fated romance between the pianist and his beau of do-we-believe-it dubious background. This is, perhaps, a symbol of general everyday misogyny -the woman's talent is minimized? Hard to tell because the story arc is not easy to follow with too-long-held black blank screen breaks performing that necessary trope of story-telling aka 'Meanwhile, back at the ranch'. We don't really get to see why the two lovers are so dedicated to each other, or why they have little or no compunction in having serious relationships with other people. A mystery the viewer has to fill with their own day-dreaming, as with adding colour. It is a shame that, throughout, we are restricted to black and white visuals. A fault that is repeated in the rather two dimensional story telling. Entertaining enough but far from perfect.
It is a shame that the creative genius of this consummate artist and craftsman is so shabbily depicted. We are given tantalizing glimpses of the man himself as well as his chief advocator, promoter and friend, Isabella Blow. We are presented odd interviews with people who had been present at certain points in McQueen's life. In fact, there is little other than the actual filmed footage that we could not have read about in the catalogues and articles published for the posthumous shows that have been staged of his work since. We are not taken, visually or in discussion, to the very down at heel East London where he grew up. The connection with Isabella's wearing of McQueen's creations as day-wear and the fact she wore the heels down on her designer shoes seems never to be noticed. She 'inhabited' McQueen's designs to such an extent that McQueen's devastation on her suicide (referenced in this film as death from illness) is almost as inevitable as his own death. If you have LAM initials (Lee Alexander McQueen) and you go into a trade noted for its ephemeral, disposable products, you won't find the idea of nihilism and self-destruction much of a surprise. McQueen tattooed mannequin hand-arm lines on his wrists - come on, he's telling you everything and you still miss it! McQueen said he wanted to empower women - by giving them armor. We know he did this in several ways, sometimes literally with breast-plates. What the clips in this film do show, however, is slightly at odds with the narrative. It is claimed his focus, once working with a garment was 100%. Well, look out for the clip where he is working on alterations to a piece worn by a model whose bottom half is naked. McQueen is conscious of where the camera is being directed and looks quickly to camera to tell the cameraman to move the focus up....that is, to protect the female model's modesty. That, more than anything else, tells you the nature of the man and, why the people connected to him interviewed in this presentation are still hurting with grief.
Too much ham
If you are determined to find silly films romantic and engaging nothing I am about to tell you will matter. If, however, you need your entertainment to convince and engage you this half-baked presentation will cause you nothing but irritation and exasperation. Lilly James as Juliet manages to pout and flounce like a four-year old dress-up princess. Her skills in acting are in repeating learned lines and nothing else. Other, better actors, in this presentation also put in poor performances. This perhaps suggests the actors' disengagement with the script and direction. They would certainly be aware of the glaring mistakes being made in depicting war-time occupied Guernsey. Not surprising when female authored work is converted into a vapid and stupid screenplay by ignorant men. This ignorance extends to some gross visual mistakes. Have you ever seen a rack of pork? No, you haven't and, more to the point, no farm boy or country bumpkin would make the mistake of cooking the whole part of a pig carcass that is usually made into bacon as a joint of meat. This is what we are presented with here though! There were other, in fact a whole host of stupid mistakes caused by those involved not seeking accurate historical references or seeking the honest guidance of those who know. Give this dire rubbish a miss.
Funny Cow (2017)
Double sided sword of abuse
Funny Cow is the insulting name given to the young woman who dreams of becoming a stand-up comedienne. She is funny and funny-peculiar. Not surprising as she has an alcoholic, neglectful and depressed mother and a foul mouthed and physically abusive father. The odd thing is that, even at a young age, Funny Cow knows her family situation is not normal. She learns effective methods to disarm the violence meted out against her - and it is the first thing she asks of the old comedian she tries to emulate. How do you rise up over the abuse? This is indeed a very interesting question and one we see Funny Cow address. However, she is still too funny-peculiar for the average person to learn much...but perhaps they should try. All the actresses playing Funny Cow at her various ages manage to merge seamlessly. Well cast, well directed and some fine acting. Only one person threatens to upstage these ladies and that is Diane Morgan whose exposure in the lead role of Cunk on Britain makes us want to see more of her here. No, it's not a funny film but, it does have some lovely one-liners. Just enough humour to compensate for the very sad tales this film depicts.
Cunk on Britain (2018)
Spears her targets every time
Cunk, smart arse that she is, nevertheless learns along with us the real meanings of some of those mysterious places and events littering our history books. Asking facile questions of real historians is very revealing. We discover some who not only know their stuff but are also amused by Cunk's novel approach. More often than not though, we see some stuffed shirts getting quietly shirty over the lines of inquiry taken. We're sniggering in the back row over this skewering. Love it and Diane Morgan's portrayal of the ubiqitous walking talking history head we know from tv history progs.