Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Jago: A Life Underwater (2015)
Simple, poetic and beautiful.
Jago is a (too) short documentary on an eighty year old Indonesian fish hunter. That's what you're expecting to see anyway. The reality is an absolutely mesmerising visual autobiography and a masterpiece in cinematographic storytelling. The set is an old man in his hut, relating his youth and how he came to be who he is. Subtitles unfold to the rhythm of his voice, and a re-enactment, as artistic as any award winning film, replay the story as if it was a very vivid prehistoric mythology. Sometimes the story carries on entirely visually, along with a superb musical score. Nothing is spelled out, dissected or explained. A shimmer in the water, a sparkling bubble, a teenage smile or a tear in the eyes of the old man say it all without any need for words. The story itself is a real life story and is quite simple, but it is all weaved like a poem and indeed the hero is a poet. Again, most is left unsaid and it is up to you to retrieve it, it's all there in a non verbal form. Simple it may be but no less elating nor harrowing.
Can I just add how beautiful that part of the world is, and how young and beautiful that old man truly is.
45 minutes you will never forget.
Anne of Green Gables (2016)
To anybody who ever saw the ultimate TV series adaptation with Megan Follows.... And no offence meant to this cast who is undoubtedly doing their best, But this is wrong, wrong wrong on every level.
This is dull as dishwater and has zero sparkle, even feels completely anachronistic in the actors' delivery and dialogs.
It feels like bad fanfiction. The children are doing a good job but they're not Anne, Diana nor Gilbert, not by any stretch of the imagination. As to the adults, the least said the better. Pointless remake of an absolute all-time classic (I mean it) , which I recommend to anyone who has never watched it.
Avoid this at all costs when you can see the other one.
And please don't click on "not helpful", unless you HAVE seen the eighties version I'm on about because you couldn't even envisage how superior it is ;)
I'm already addicted to this thriller after watching two episodes only. Even though there is nothing particularly original about the plot and the back story (don't get me wrong, it's edgy in a Crimson Rivers sort of way, and is very very interesting on all levels but everything's been done before), it's extremely well directed and all the characters are very strong and uncannily lifelike. Part of the appeal resides in the "novelty" of the Icelandic location of course - I read some Icelandic crime fiction before and I found it in exactly the same appealing but rather grim vein in fact - but what really, really makes this, is the incredibly charismatic lead actor playing Andri, the unusual chief of the local police. What an actor. Negatives would be some overuse of atmospheric music but that's about it (eta: only the first 2 episodes really. It's being much better used afterwards. And it's great music) .
Am excellent watch although definitely not recommended for children, whether they can read subtitles or not. It has dead body parts and things.
After episode 3 I'm pushing this to a 9. Wild horses wouldn't drag me out before episode 4 on this Saturday night! This is top class TV by any standards.
Episode 5....still top class stuff .
The series has ended in both a pleasingly conventional and unconventional manner and I feel bereft and orphaned, such as I normally only feel after reading a particularly enthralling book. Well done, I shall miss you all like (dysfunctional altogether) family.
I would also like to add that user ratings are virtually the same across the board, from under 18 (who love it best) to over 45, males and females, US and non US users. It's quite astonishing and not at all usual.
Hidden Kingdoms (2014)
Excellent premises and subject, ruined by trying too hard to make it exciting with obviously fake shots, a never-ending and highly irritating invasive (and LOUD) background music, such as is employed in American children movies or housewife shows.
It would have been much more exciting treated as a serious cutting-edge documentary rather than a weak Walt Disney spin-off. It does contain extraordinary camera work to be fair, which makes the treatment of it very frustrating.
It's probably worth a 7 but I refuse to encourage the Beeb to carry on this Discovery Channel primary school vein :
An Inspector Calls (2015)
An absolutely gripping atmospheric huis-clos, this psychological period drama could remind of an English Zola novelette and it will make you take a good hard look at yourself.
Whatever it might be, you're not going to expect *this*. Make absolutely sure to avoid spoilers! All you must know is that it isn't a "detective" story. It's a whodunit of sorts but who did it isn't the point (while being the only point - it'll make sense after)
An inspector calls onto a wealthy family at dinner time in 1910 to impart some seemingly unrelated piece of bad news. Ensues a flawless story, stunning cinematography, perfect period atmosphere, and absolutely top drawer acting. English television at its very best. 10/10 and I'm ever so glad I happened onto this tonight.
Another top notch offering from the BBC. (2 episodes in) Wonderful, atmospheric settings and unusually artistic cinematography, a gripping back story and marvellous, marvellous acting. A very good insight into life in Ireland in the 50's also.
Quirke, the outstanding Gabriel Byrne in one of his better efforts ever, is an alcoholic pathologist in Dublin in the 1950's. Quirke, an orphan of unknown parents, was adopted into the wealthy Griffin family. A family where not is all what it seems, and where people love and hate each other at the same time, and harbour secrets, some of them quite terrible. (like a lot of real families). While Quirke tries to help find out what happened to bodies who used to be people with the help of a jaded garda inspector, we unravel his past life episode by episode, and watch his life unravel as well.
It is compelling stuff, I can only highly recommend it. Preferably from the start. While produced by the BBC, it's an all irish cast and location. It looks a million dollar, it's original, the characters are interestingly complex, and it's just very, very good.
It feels very much like the Maigret series with Bruno Cremer, only better (!). Note that the solving of the mystery is only a part of the drama, most of it revolves on the interplay of the family, their problems and their secrets, and the telling of life in a Ireland 60 years ago, with its obedience to the catholic church, treatment of women etc...therefore you can enjoy it even if you aren't fond of murder mysteries. It is nearly an anticlimax to come to the end and have the murder solved (sometimes rather too conveniently - hence the 9 instead of 10 - very small complaint) , so engrossed are you in the actual story in its entirety - you want it to go on!
Do not expect CSI or NCIS, it is as far removed from those shows as possible.
I did not read the books, so that I have no idea how accurate is the adaptation, but I can guarantee the story is perfectly clear and simple to follow, unlike some adaptations that require former knowledge of the written medium to understand anything at all.
I also highly recommend it in HD with a good sound system. The terrific atmosphere deserves that.
Contains smoking and drinking. [;-)]
Edit: Episode 3 is a straight 10/10. Very emotional, and even improved from the other two on all fronts, if that was possible. Classic television in the making. - I just read the first two episodes were adapted by Welsh screenwriter Andrew Davies and the third by Irish playwright/director Conor McPherson. Now it makes sense and it actually shows.
This film was made with Love
I've only ever seen one horsey film that was any good, in my opinion as a professional horse person. This was Seabiscuit. (OK, maybe International Velvet was not too bad, in the guilty pleasure type category)
Now I've seen two. Jappeloup is quality. Every care was taken, every attention was given, every bit of love was lavished, on what could have been a run of the mill sporty rags-to-riches script (heavily romanced from the true story of Jappeloup and Pierre Durand), but turned out to be a beautifully filmed, heartwarming, exciting story.
I'm not sure how much more I love it due to the fact that I was watching Jappeloup as a child in France, that I knew all the riders and it reminded me of very good and very nostalgic memories, but you could argue that it would have made me more critical of it - yet I couldn't find any obvious flaws and I found myself on the edge of the seat once or twice (even knowing the outcome as it's history!)
The acting is excellent as you would expect from such a high class bunch of actors; the story itself comes very close to excessive sentimentalism a few times, but never crosses the line. It's handled with delicacy and tact, and they have made the very most of a very predictable tale. The photography is astonishing, beautifully showcasing the french countryside, the pace is leisurely, giving you time to know the characters, the times (accurately depicted, from everybody smoking, drink driving, getting back on the horse no matter how hurt you were etc...all true, young people! - things have changed a lot). Special mention to the soundtrack which is wonderful, and the action scenes, with a car following Guillaume and filming superb and never done before jumping shots
In brief, I highly recommend it to anyone who loves horses. So much of it is very close to home; it really translates the passion, the fears, the doubts, the love, what makes us.
For others, rest assured the film is more than a horse film, it's a solid story a la Rocky filmed in a more subtle way. And you might get to understand what your daughter/friend/cousin sees in those beasts. Certainly I never thought showjumping could be this exciting to watch, and I'm partial to it already! True story films are usually bland, seen one, seen them all, but this is better and worth watching. Set yourselves on Seabiscuit, if you saw it. It's the same type of offering: a well made straightforward people story with a blessedly realistic horse background.
(I just watched it in Bluray since I couldn't get to see it on the big screen, and it's worth it. The quality of the picture and the colours are amazing)
8 out of 10
Noein: Mô hitori no kimi he (2005)
More than meets the eye
This is an amazing story. Yes the artwork isn't all that much to my taste, though I got used to it after a few episodes, yes there are plot holes, yes it starts slow. I don't care about the above to be honest. The story is gripping, the characters really well developed, I cared for them, though I'm old and cynical. And there are more twists in the plot than in the local roads in county Kerry! Nearly all an entertaining surprise.
It's not a tale for cretins though, it can get nerdy and convoluted, and something which nobody mentioned, it's fairly deep philosophically as well. You can just watch the story and run away with it but there are questions all along the way, important questions. Who or what are we, what is reality, what is illusion, what is perception and what link has it on reality ....also there are great lessons in life: we CAN change, for the better or the worse, regretting the past or fearing the future will ruin your life, be brave, don't give up, so on. I have the feeling there are some references to Buddhism in there but I'm not familiar enough with it to say more. This series I thought was very intelligent, and is not necessarily aimed at teens, on the contrary there is something in it for every generation.
As usual I thought the American dubbing was a disgrace, (what I heard of it, I always watch in Japanese - excellent voice acting there, if clearly shaky subtitle translations) and only Crispin Freeman who dubs Karasu appears to make some sort of effort and have a clue on how it should be played. I'm not sure I could have stuck with more than one episode in English.
Oh yes, and the soundtrack is brilliant.
8 out of 10, and I will watch it again, knowing what I know now, I need to watch it again. Besides I miss the characters already. Minus some bad art IMO in places, this is one of the better series out there, right up with the better known usual ones. I can't recommend it enough if you like to use your brain while watching entertaining TV.
The Fall (2013)
Tremendous first series
Detailed ratings: Non US users rating: 9.6. US users ratings: 3.6, so far.
The above is a very important piece of information, to make up your mind as to the actual quality of this series.
I've only watched the first episode so I'll make it short. I thought this dark BBC thriller was not only original, but extremely well filmed, suspenseful, realistic (real northern Irish actors and Gillian Anderson a word perfect English lady, in what clearly is Belfast itself), very well acted all round. It is not a whodunit, we're made to follow from the start both a MET detective and a serial killer's lives, as one tries to figure out, find and catch the other, and the other one fights his addiction to rape and kill on a daily basis. The tone is dark, the story is very chilling, but that's only because the protagonists are so very...ordinary. They could be us, any one of us.
It's nice to see a story set in Belfast that is NOT about the troubles, (even though there are - few - references and slang words only local to the north)
I really hope this carries on in the same vein throughout the next 4 episodes. While both series have nothing in common, it reminded me of that enthralling underrated gem Ultraviolet, another left-field BBC masterpiece that still has a dedicated following to this day.
10/10 for episode 1, can't think of anything yet to even give it a 9 to be honest.
Update episode 2, 10/10. Unexpected twists! Update episode 3: 10/10; Infinite shades of grey. Update episode 4: 10/10; I'm bolting my front door and double-checking all the windows. Update episode 5: 8/10. A slightly weaker link to the next season, which I can't wait for, now.
I must add a warning for sensitive people: There are a few graphic, realistic, upsetting scenes.
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Quite a pleasant night out.
Having read a less than enthusiastic review of the film, I wasn't expecting all that much. Though the reviewer did say that if you were a fan of Tim Burton, you'd be in first line waiting, and I suppose he was right in that.
When I went to buy my ticket, I was given glasses and realised it was in 3D! Didn't know this. Let me get this straight right now, if I had seen this before Avatar, I'd have wowed, but seeing it after, it made me realise the 3D effects were quite simplistic and I have now realised what a standard Cameron actually set. The film has obviously a budget much less than Avatar had, and a lot of corners have had to be cut. The 3D is indeed much less tooled, and, while it was nice (I think 3D particularly suits fantasy), it is not essential to see it this way, and 2D would serve the film quite well too. Let's get the bad bits over first: The CGI characters were cheap looking and some of them downright bad (Bayard, the horses); the CGI budget was blown on the Jabberwocky, who does deliver, in passing.
Burton obviously did not want to make another remake of Alice, so he got the idea to make her go back to Wonderland as an 18 year old; the side-effects of this is that it really feels like a sequel - Alice, the Return - and we know how much worse sequels are from the word go, probably because a story ought to finish with "and they lived happily ever after" and disturbing the dust afterwards feels contrived. So that when Alice arrives in Wonderland, we are subjected to a too long and tedious rehash and representation of all the characters. Burton might have been better off just doing something more different, rather than having to resume the first story in the first half of the film, which takes a while then to take off properly.
Alice is then 18, her father has died, and she is a wilfully delightful original girl, who daydreams all the time. She is invited to a grand ball, where her suitor, a young noble with digestive troubles, proposes to her. But Alice has seen the rabbit in the garden and flees to follow him, and go back to Wonderland, of which she has all forgotten about. In Wonderland, the red queen has overthrown the white queen and rules over beasts and men in a desolate kingdom. Alice is the promised one who can defeat the jabberwocky, dragony type monster who helped the red queen take over. She meets all her old friends and reluctantly embarks on this quest.
Once we've been reintroduced to all the characters, the story finally takes off. Helena Bonham Carter is a villain in the class of Basil Rathbone, Johnny Depp slowly takes over the whole show and Alice herself is an absolute joy. Stephen Fry as the Cheshire cat is simply brilliant. The other characters are somewhat blander, and some of them totally forgettable. (Alan Rickman as the caterpillar is of course fantastic, but he only appears to deliver bits of wisdom here and there and is not made the most of) My feeling throughout the whole thing was that Tim Burton couldn't make up his mind if he wanted a child's film or an adult film, and it veers from one to the other constantly, without much consistence. This is a shame. Disney produced the film, and it does feel as if Terry Gilliam had been taken over by Walt in a weird satanic internal struggle. Indeed there is a smattering of Python humour as well, and the crowd laughed a few times out loud. Once I laughed out loud myself, and I can't remember when that happened last in a cinema. 2/3rd of the way, I finally was totally engrossed in the story, Johnny Depp was growing exponentially in his role (even though his Scottish accent is shaky in places and even though it isn't all that different from Jack Sparrow to start with), and it ended in a total success (The epilogue might not have been entirely necessary - but Disneys and children and Hollywood must).
The general atmosphere of Wonderland was quite to very good, even with the budget obvious CGI limitations and it definitely had a Gilliam feel to it (well, it's Burton, isn't it), that fantasy tang, that I always failed to see in LOTR the movie* (which does look like random leather-clad dudes and trees walking across New-Zealand, let's face it. Actually, except that scene with Arwen at Aragorn's grave). It's probably the same bluey filter they use in the Guinness ads, and I love the feel of it. I thought the final confrontation was great. I wonder is Weta involved, or is John Howe involved, because it did remind me of Finarfin vs Morgoth (or St George vs. the dragon) *the white queen's castle is very reminiscent of Rivendell I must say.
So, for all its faults, I did enjoy the film very much and would go again, if only for Johnny Depp, who is disturbingly and magnetically attractive, even as a deformed fool.