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All reviews - Movies (93) - TV Shows (3)

The Wild Geese review

Posted : 4 years, 3 months ago on 5 May 2013 03:14 (A review of The Wild Geese)

"Euan [Lloyd] had a reputation of being a bit of a right-winger" - Sydney Samuelson

"Don't f*** around with Moore!" - Roger Moore (on practical jokes)

"That Jimmy Granger. He hasn't made a film for fifteen years and he's still a bugger!" - Richard Burton

"F*** 'em!" - Stewart Granger (on shooting another take)

"Ronnie [Fraser] would take five or six papers and roll a joint the size of a toilet role tube. He was stoned for most of the picture." - Roger Moore

"If I were dead and you were a f***ing hearse I wouldn't ride in you!" - Richard Burton (to a crew member)

Suffice it to say, the production of The Wild Geese had its problems. These quotes, coupled with Burton and Richard Harris' drinking problems should give you a good idea of exactly what went on. What's left is a bloody enjoyable, if politically nonsensical, slice of brutal action, camaraderie, tragedy and loss that doesn't let up. It's typical McLaglen fare that would become something of a tradition after The Sea Wolves and Return From The River Kwai - a gang of old servicemen (played by whole range of international stars) meet up again for one last mission, the toughest and deadliest of their lives. In Geese we have the aforementioned Burton, Harris and Moore as veteran commandos alongside Hardy Krüger's white supremacist (whose views on the apartheid are suddenly changed in the blink of an eye upon a discussion with John Kani) and Jack Watson, Kenneth Griffith and Barry Foster. Their mission is to spring Kani's Ugandan leader from a military camp in the heart of Africa and return home, until they are double crossed that is. Moore and Krüger are merely serviceable but this is good, violent stuff with a particularly believable onscreen friendship between Burton and Harris, who turns in the finest performance. As a message movie, the film's a mess.


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Performance review

Posted : 4 years, 11 months ago on 30 August 2012 09:20 (A review of Performance)

"I am a bullet" as uttered by James Fox's pistol-wielding Chas, shortly after being on the receiving end of a brutal beating and an alleged gang-rape, is one of those rare, truly extraordinary moments that remind you of how powerful cinema can be. This is a film of many such moments, a violent, sex-filled, psychedelic trip through the mind (or minds) of a gangster on the run that poses questions about identity, gender, sexuality, dualism, vice and versa.On the surface, it's simply a swinging-sixties London-set tale of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, the embodiment of all that of course being Mick Jagger as a reclusive rock star. But there's so much more to it than that. Beautifully shot and scored, featuring music ranging from The Last Poets to Merry Clayton, an incredible performance from James Fox and a truly mind-bending ending, this is simply one of the greatest films I've ever seen and my brief review will not do it justice.


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Bloated Rubbish

Posted : 5 years ago on 19 August 2012 01:13 (A review of The Dark Knight Rises)

First of all - I'm not damning this film to be 'cool'. I'm damning it because I thought it was awful. I'd love to hear what others think, I'm up for a good debate! :)

SPOILERS

Quite honestly, I thought The Dark Knight Rises was dreadful. And I'm going to say it - Christopher Nolan was given far too much money to make this film and did not know what to do with it all. Where are the engaging and visually compelling action set pieces that contributed greatly to The Dark Knight's success(the lorry flip to name just one)? Well, they've gone, replaced with dull, poorly-edited sequences that lack real power and punch. After all the billing, where was the "epic conclusion" (epic being a word I've grown to hate) that was promised on the posters, the trailers and from all the hype that that had surrounded the film from the initial announcement of the project? I was waiting for the film to crank up a notch into the next gear. But it never did. What's left is an overblown and needlessly over-complicated mess - some people consider this to be intellectual. Shoving bucketloads of new minor characters into the film is not intellectual. Working out who is who, who is who in relation to who and who is who in relation to what is not intellectual endeavor. It is the result of trying to make sense of a poor script, a needlessly over-complicated mess as I've said before. What would have been intellectual was a way of explaining how Bruce Wayne got from the mysterious ancient civilization back to Gotham. The 'twist' involving Marion Cotillard's character towards the end of the picture is not unexpected because of clever writing but unexpected because it was almost unthinkable that such an underdeveloped character, with so little screentime, is suddenly revealed to be the real villain. In hindsight, this is almost laughable if it wasn't so painfully bad. On the plus side, Tom Hardy is magnificent as Bane. Playing a character whose face is covered for the entire duration of the film is no mean feat as his performance to an audience has to rely almost solely on the expression in his eyes. The trouble is, we can't hear what he's saying on several significant occasions.
Anne Hathaway is ok as Catwoman but, quite frankly, not as sexy as previous incarnations.
Finally, I really thought Nolan had the balls to kill off Batman. Sadly I was wrong and Batman somehow manages to avoid the radius of a nuclear explosion in just seconds and we get a sickly-sweet happy ending when perhaps it would have been more rousing for him to really have given everything he had to the people of Gotham.

And 'John Robin Blake'? Dear me.


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Prometheus review

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 10 June 2012 06:13 (A review of Prometheus)

It's not Alien and it sure as hell ain't Blade Runner but I found it to be one of the most enjoyable cinematic experiences I've had in a long time, although strictly a great visual experience as opposed to an intellectual one - the first act in particular and the introduction of David is amazing in 3D. But great visuals is something to be expected from a Ridley Scott film and they do not make up for a messy final act.

I don't agree that Prometheus is pretentious, I feel it does a noble job at trying to please both the thinking man and those who love blockbusters without trying to be predominantly one thing or the other. I like the faith and belief angle, even if it is only briefly touched upon. However, in trying to appease the blockbuster-hungry audience, Scott has yet again copped out, much like how Robin Hood became typical, mundane and by-the-book instead of the unique interpretation of folklore that was originally intended.

I liked Fassbender, I liked Rapace and I liked Elba. Beyond those three, the characters and performances are forgettable and AVP springs to mind. Even Resurrection has a stronger and more memorable supporting cast than this. Shaw and Holloway (and I mean the characters, not so much the actors) must be one of the most unbelievable screen couples I have ever seen. Holloway is an arsehole and Shaw is several classes above him. Also, the Scottish actress who plays the medic is utterly horrendous. Theron isn't much better, particularly in the scene between her and Pearce which comes across as a bizarre nod to the "I wan't more life, father" scene from Blade Runner. Her line delivery here is particularly awful and the supposed 'mystery' as to whether she is a robot or not is extremely poor, predictable and unnecessary, especially considering that you already have one robot who may or may not have sinister intent.
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I won't say that this was disappointing as, after Robin Hood, I wasn't expecting much. I enjoyed the ride immensely and it's a satisfying prequel to the original film. But this could have been so much more and, outside of the cinema, this probably won't amount to much. Hopefully a director's cut may be one the way but, as it stands, it's not quite the return to form from Scott that I was hoping for. As I've said, visually this is fantastic in 3D.


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Blue Moon Rising review

Posted : 5 years, 8 months ago on 17 December 2011 11:43 (A review of Blue Moon Rising)

Documenting the highs and lows of Manchester City Football Club's 2009-10 season, Blue Moon Rising offers no more insight than the video content that can be found on the club's official website. Choosing to focus on the 'heroes' of City's inaugural season of the Khaldoon Al Mubarak era, players such as Emmanuel Adeybayor, Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez, are portrayed as the bright future awaiting City, making the film already horrifically dated. Since Mancini's appointment as manager, Adeybayor has already fallen out of favour (with loan spells at Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur following this revelation) as has Craig Bellamy, who spent the 2010-11 season on loan at Cardiff City before making a move to Liverpool. Carlos Tevez, or the 'hitman' as described in the film, is unlikely to ever play for City again after a significant period of controversy in which it was claimed that he refused to come on as a substitute against Bayern Munich. Other than the hero-worshiping, there is some semblance of commentary on the addictiveness of supporting your team (as Liam Gallagher says in the film "whether they win or lose is irrelevant") but it's drowned by heavily fictionalised accounts of previous seasons as recalled by some of the fans interviewed for the film. Rising is at it's best when splicing together genuinely exciting match-action with some staggering footage of the supporters giving their all (highlights include the Manchester United 'ultras' doing their best to change the Etihad from blue to red) but as a whole it's a rather forgettable, shallow and, in light of recent events, pointless look at a future for Man City that isn't going to happen in the way that was expected. But I guess hindsight is a wonderful tool.



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Marnie review

Posted : 6 years ago on 18 August 2011 09:51 (A review of Marnie)

I love this film, in fact it's not far from being by favourite Hitchcock, certainly his most powerful work in my opinion - I know others would say Vertigo. Some question Tippi Hedren's acting credentials but I think she does a fine job and, to be honest, as much of a wonderful actress Grace Kelly was, I can't see her taking on a role of this kind, for Marnie isn't the typical Hitchcock blonde that Kelly defined. Sure, Marnie is icy cool and mysterious, but she is of course practically asexual, hence she lacks eroticism which is an essential trait amongst the Hitchcock blondes à la Eva Marie Saint or Kim Novak. I'd say this is Connery's finest performance too, although I haven't seen The Hill. Rutland's fetish could have been explored a bit more. I mean, it doesn't have to be completely conspicuous, but it would have added more depth and weight to his character and in turn his relationship with Marnie had it been more obvious. I dunno. It all comes together so well during the final scene, and it features one of Herrmann's best scores in my view. The lighting is terrific at times too, most notably the kiss in the stable and Louise Latham's shadowy figure at the top of the stairs early on in the film. The theft at Rutland's is one of my favourite Hitchcock sequences, very well conceived. And the artificiality? I like artificiality. Besides, I've seen worse back-projection and backdrops.
Yeah, it's just a brilliant film.

5/5


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Shadow Run review

Posted : 6 years ago on 18 August 2011 11:08 (A review of Shadow Run)

Loose remake of The Italian Job, minus the fun, charm and originality that made the 1969 film a classic. This is one of Michael Caine's direct-to-video efforts and by those standards it's a good 'un, but of course that's not saying much. Okay, so, mixed up in a plot (well you could call it that) that sees an armoured van containing paper used to print money being targeted by Caine and co, is James Fox playing every country toff ever to appear onscreen. He wears a suit and unofficially organises the operation - think Noël Coward's Mr Bridger but as a nasty piece of work. Rounding out the cast, quite literally, are Rae Baker's prostitute replacing Maggie Blye, and a fat school kid replacing Benny Hill (although he likes them slim and preferably posh). Make of that what you will. Caine's on autopilot (hard gangster/himself), but you can't blame him considering the total rot on show and an unintentionally hilarious attempt at friendship/sentiment between said school kid. It's not completely unwatchable but it's about as exciting as, well, no, it's not comparable to anything. Gotta hand it to the director and writer for the reworking of the cliff-hanger ending in which the vehicle actually goes over the cliff (I say cliff, it's about five feet high), running over an estranged James Fox in the process and randomly exploding without explanation (I thought that was a sixties thing).

1/5


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The Criminal review

Posted : 6 years ago on 14 August 2011 06:39 (A review of The Criminal)

A tough prison drama that is rather frank in it's portrayal of brutal violence, an abusive prison system, sex and nudity, alcohol consumption, mental disorders and corruption. It gave the film something of a reputation and was subsequently banned in several countries. The sound quality of the print I watched was very poor, which made the film difficult to follow at times, but it certainly grabbed my attention with several standout scenes, most notably the wild party, the violent prison rebellion and the finale onboard a barge. But the film is at it's best whenever Cleo Laine's rendition of "Thieving Boy" is played. Haunting stuff. But the real reason to watch is Stanley Baker, who is quickly becoming one of my favourite actors after providing consistently excellent performances in the films of his I've seen - it's such a shame that so many of his films are hard to find. He plays an Irish inmate, who practically owns the place (he has Noel Willman's governor wrapped around his little finger), but comes into constant conflict with Patrick Magee's dissolute prison warden. He's released and duly takes part in the pre-planned robbing of cash, at a racetrack, that goes horribly wrong after he is betrayed and ends up lumped back in prison with fellow criminals after his blood, waiting to be paid off as the plot thickens and the inmates become even more unsettled. Sam Wanamaker and Grégoire Aslan are the other key performers of note and there's even a couple of Bond connections in the forms of Jill Bennett and Paul Stassino. And, as a sign of the times, there's plenty of British Imperialistic snobbery, as the inmates are made up almost entirely of Irishmen, Scots, Australians, West Indians and Italians, but few Englishmen. The location work is excellent too. A gripping and thematic, if talky and slightly dated film that has quite possibly the best and most resonant ending I've ever seen.

4/5


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Double Take review

Posted : 6 years ago on 11 August 2011 03:09 (A review of Double Take)

A Belgian-made mockumentary cum essay piece, presenting the fictional meeting between Alfred Hitchcock and his double from 1980 (on the set of The Birds in 1963), interspersed between stock footage of major events during the cold war, whilst also studying the influence of television on the masses. How about that for arty-farty? And that's the film's biggest flaw. There's too much going on here for any subject to be dissected individually in depth. It's all a bit shallow and disjointed. The mesh of clips from Alfred Hitchcock Presents..., Psycho and newly-filmed footage featuring real-life Hitchcock lookalike Ron Burrage to create "the meeting" is far from seamless either. Although that's quite possibly intentional, it takes away the aura surrounding Hitchcock and the meeting itself, especially considering after one of the opening lines, "If you meet your double you should kill him", builds up the mystery and suspense so well. Both Kennedy and Krushchev and Nixon and Khrushchev are also paired up and explored as 'doubles' of each other as the film descends into an average cold war documentary. In a post 9/11 world, the images of a falling woman cut between clips of the aftermath of the Empire State Building plane crash in 1945 resonate the most. A fascinating but underbaked film.



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Agent 8 3/4 review

Posted : 6 years ago on 11 August 2011 03:07 (A review of Agent 8 3/4)

Cracking little Bond spoof that's actually much more of a conventional spy thriller than the opening, in which John Le Mesurier returns the belongings of a newly deceased 007, would lead you to believe. Dirk Bogarde is the everyman by the name of Nicholas Whistler, drafted into British Intelligence as a replacement and sent on a mission to receive information regarding a new type of formula used for the production of lightweight bullet-proof glass. Although, it's only upon his arrival in Prague, across the Iron Curtain, that he discovers he is working for British Intelligence. Sylva Koscina is his comrade driver turned lover who must help him escape Czechoslovakia from the clutches of Leo McKern's Soviet Spy boss (and her father!). For those who aren't fans of the rather gung-ho spoofs like the David Niven Casino Royale or the Austin Powers series, this is refreshingly more lightweight in terms of wit and provides a few genuine chuckles, namely thanks to a brilliant Bograde sending up his own image at RANK. Robert Morley once again crops up as the head of MI6. Very enjoyable.



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