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Attack the Block (2011)
British MTV movie with no substance or merit
I thought this was going to be good. I like alien invasion films and I like British comedies. Should be good, I thought. I was wrong. Halfway through, my wife and I turned to each other and said in unison 'This is s**t!'. It was. In every conceivable way.
I've since read the reviews here on IMDb and am quite astonished at the amount of eulogizing. There are plaudits heaped on the acting, the script, the direction and the narrative. These people are so wrong and plainly do not understand what makes good cinema.
Firstly, the acting. There were some shocking performances. Nick Frost is just bad and lacks any real talent. The kids were so clearly middle class and straight out of drama school that it was embarrassing - one particularly bad performance was the white guy who came up with the notion that the aliens smell spores or something - he was just awful. The other performances weren't much better, except maybe the main guy, 'Moses', who was solid. But actors can only shine if they have a good script...
So, secondly, the script stunk. It was deeply contrived and devoid of any humor. The one-liners that were crow-barred in there were so glaringly obvious that it made me cringe. And then there was the element of social commentary, and the idea that these youngsters were having a journey towards an epiphany, which was so manufactured and tedious.
The direction, then. What direction? The actors clearly hadn't been directed to develop their characters (it would have been difficult any way because the script didn't allow it) but Joe Cornish clearly has no idea how to get the actors being true to their characters, so they remained fairly 2 dimensional throughout.
The most annoying aspect of this film was the editing. It was shocking. Far too many quick cuts, hence the reference to MTV in the title of this review. A story board was clearly lacking and the camera shots were so ad hoc, with these quick edits blurring events. It made the film quite confusing at times, and certainly irritating.
At a time when funding is being cut, it is a real shame that money is wasted on this mindless fluff. British cinema has a rich cultural history, but this is it at its very worst.
In a nutshell - lame, un-engaging and humorless.
Get Low (2009)
Hoodwinked by IMDb ratings... again.
With over 5,000 ratings and an overall rating of 7.2 here on IMDb, at the moment of writing, one would think this is going to be a good film. Normally, to get over 7.0 on this website is quite an achievement and demands attention. The only genre which doesn't do well on IMDb and is never a fair reflection of the quality of the film is 'Horror'. Anyway, this movie is labeled as being 'drama' and 'mystery'. For the latter, I would expect some tension and a bit of suspense. I am mistaken in regards to this film.
Firstly, a great performance by Duvall,and Murphy is competent as usual. The problem is that this film is such a slow pace and after the first 20 minutes you suspect where it is going. And it goes there, at an inexorable and tedious pace.
So, this review doesn't really contain spoilers because anyone with a brain will know immediately what is going to happen. And in a nutshell... Duvall is portrayed as a bad man but the audience don't know what he has done, although the way it is played you'd think he'd killed and eaten several children. As the movie drags on you realize that the denouement is going to be him opening his heart and telling an audience of doubters that actually - he did nothing wrong at all and his only motivation was 'love'. Yes - it slowly turns from a story of intrigue to one of sickly sentimentality, with the final shot of the film enough to make one vomit all over one's t-shirt.
It's a shame, as Duvall is great, but the lack of pace and the heaping on of the sugar does not suggest 'drama' or 'mystery' to me.
An extra note: Spacek is terrible. She has one expression throughout. Maybe all that chicken blood she endured in Carrie hampered her ability to act for the rest of her career.
Observe and Report (2009)
It's all about your sense of humor
Firstly, this does not deserve a 10 out of 10 rating because it is not perfect, but it certainly doesn't deserve the many 1 out of 10 votes it has received. I am ranking it 10 out of 10 to redress the unfair balance.
You will see by the reviews for this movie already that you are either going to love it or hate it, it will be very difficult to feel indifferent about it. And why? Because some people are not going to find this funny. If you haven't laughed once after the first 10 minutes then you might as well turn it off. It's not for you, was never intended for you, so keep your opinions to yourself and move on to something designed for your more mainstream sense of humor. DO NOT tell everybody else in the World not to watch it because you are denying a potential audience a comedy classic.
To say that this is the worst movie ever made, as some reviewers have done, is preposterous and is just a reflection on the reviewers' taste, not a true representation of the movie.
I'm a bit fair-weather with these recent comedies. I loved Superbad and Pineapple Express, was fairly indifferent about 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, and thought Zack & Mire was lame and puerile. As such, I was a bit skeptical about this film but I was wrong. This is better than all of the aforementioned because it appeals to my sick sense of humor and does not pull a single punch.
This film smashes so many taboos including police brutality, date rape, mental illness, alcoholism and racism. But it doesn't care. None of the above would be seen as any great topics for comedy but this film embraces all as if it is purposely trying to offend. It has clearly succeeded judging by the feedback here. But I loved it. Taboos are there to be exposed and smashed, and if you like your comedy to be near the knuckle and ground breaking then you will definitely love this film.
Seth is fantastic in the lead role. Very plausible and a definite deviation from his past roles. The supporting cast are also equally brilliant, especially his mother and Seth's co-workers. There is also no rationality behind this film so please ignore all the reviewers who claim certain aspects are implausible. Who cares? It is a comedy and the suspension of disbelief is paramount to the viewer's enjoyment.
In a nutshell, if you are not easily offended, like your humor to be in your face and boundary pushing (and most importantly, fairly sick) then you will love this film and laugh out loud throughout.
One other thing, the soundtrack is absolutely awesome with a great cover version of The Pixies' 'Where is my mind?' during one of the funniest scenes in the film, as well as a rocking song by Pyramid (a band I'd never heard of) during the end credits.
One of the best comedies I've seen in recent years, up with Bruno and Black Dynamite. And although it may not deserve the 10 out of 10 rating it is so close to comedy perfection.
The Level (2008)
This is not below average
I'm writing this because as it stands it has been given a rating of 4.9 after less than 200 votes. This is absolutely unfair, as this is definitely above average, especially as there are no big names in it and the whole film has a very low budget feel to it. Film makers who clearly have a low budget should be applauded for making films of this quality when there is so much dross around which have millions of dollars spent on it.
Of course, this won't be for everybody. For a start, it is very, very, very violent. The opening five minutes packs a rather nasty punch but should be enough for the viewer to know whether this film is for them or not. If you are put off by the violence, you will hate this movie. If you say 'wow' then you will not be disappointed by the rest of this movie.
The two heavies this story revolves around play their roles superbly and at times, too convincingly. The viewer never knows what actually occurred with different versions of the truth being played out. It culminates in a fairly grizzly finale, but one which is plausible and pleasing (especially for the sick among us).
It's funny, but all the reviews on IMDb are positive. So who are these people downgrading it? And for the record - I'm in no way affiliated with this film, as a lot of reviewers are on IMDb. Check out my other reviews to prove it. This is a tour de force of realistic violence with a good story and excellent acting. A must for gangster film buffs who like their violence grittily displayed.
Half Broken Things (2007)
The madness of three
There is something so utterly implausible about this story but it is done so well that you can't help being sucked in and believing it. For the film makers to depict three varying dysfunctional and desperate characters whose behaviour is so morally inexcusable yet still manage to generate empathy in the viewer shows a great deal of skill and professionalism. Penelope Wilton is excellent in her understated portrayal of Jean, a pathetic and lonely old woman who slowly descends into madness. The actors who play Steph and Michael are brilliant, too. This is down to a credible script and great directing, as well as heaps of skill by both of the performers.
Make no mistake, this film is tragic and so will not appeal to a lot. There is a desperation and darkness throughout which is tangible and reminiscent of the atmosphere created in 'The Visitor', although this story's protagonists are unhinged and not just desperate and lonely.
British film making at its most intense and best.
The Broken (2008)
Take a break
I've been reading a lot of the comments on this film and thought I should throw in my ten penneth as I think a lot of them are being too overly critical. Yes, some of the comments are justified - at times the plot does seem to have been neglected, it is slow, and yes, the conclusion doesn't really explain much. But I don't know if all these thing (except maybe the plot) are all bad.
What this film did for me was to relay an uneasy and compelling atmosphere, something which I think is lacking in most modern horror films. This was created by the slow unending shots which seemed to have annoyed a lot of people. I admit at times I was thinking 'come on, get on with it' but perhaps that was due to the discomfort I felt.
If I was to explain to somebody the premise of this movie, and what I thought it was about, I must admit that it would sound ludicrous. But sometimes good films don't need plausibility, nor do they need everything tied up in the end so the viewer can leave it behind knowing exactly what was what.
I had an emotional reaction to this film, and this is becoming more and more rare for me in modern films. Also, it is worth noting that the acting was exceptional and very understated. Richard Jenkins is becoming godlike in his abilities and he once again doesn't disappoint here.
I would recommend this to people. It is far from perfect. But for a slow-paced psychological and mysterious celluloid experience, it pushes a lot of the right buttons.
Yep, it's a stinker.
Make no mistake, this one is an absolute horror of a movie. And not even in a good way. I'm quite a fan of low budget horror flicks because if they are really bad I can get some kind of perverse enjoyment at picking them apart. But there wasn't even anything to find funny in this.
Firstly, the acting wasn't very good, but not laughably awful. Of course, even good actors would have struggled with such a witless and contrived script. The pace of this film was also all wrong. It took so long for anything slightly interesting to happen. And when it did happen (yes it was only slightly interesting) the film descended into a farce.
Perhaps the makers of this thought they were going for a crazy 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' family thing. But the lead protagonist's attempt at acting crazy was woefully under par. Lovers of gore will be disappointed, too, as the bits that were quite nasty were done with very poor effects.
I already think I've written enough about this although there are many more words which could be used to demonstrate its awfulness. The one thing I don't understand is why it was made in the first place. Surely the filmmakers new they were flogging a dead horse. I would have preferred watching a horse being flogged for 2 hours than watching this.
The Visitor (2007)
This was definitely one of the best films of 2008 and it is a crying shame that Richard Jenkins did not win best Oscar for it. It would have been thoroughly deserved - his acting subtleties and ability to convey emotion with the minimum of effort propels him into the top echelons of actors. He is an actor who proves that 'less' is definitely 'more'.
There is an atmosphere of sadness and desperation throughout this film which is palpable. Aside from Jenkins, the warmth and affability, not to mention the credibility, of the other actors is beautifully realized and pulled off with effortless skill.
But what I think is the best element of this movie is the ending. As it starts to wind up you start thinking 'yes, I can see exactly where this is going' but it doesn't go there. This is probably a great example of not showing a film to a test audience otherwise the ending would have been predictable and annoyingly obvious. There was something so powerful about the final scene in this film which leaves the viewer gob-smacked by its darkness and desperation. What an excellent film.
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Rachel getting tedious
I was considering checking the spoiler box for this review as I am going to mention a couple of scenes, but then I thought how can anyone write a spoiler for this movie as it is devoid of any plot twists. I cannot understand the praise for this film at all. It is so pretentious, long and arduous, and essentially very, very dull.
A good film, for me, needs to have a compelling narrative, characters which one can relate to, and a good script delivered by actors who engage. This didn't have any one of those elements. By the time it finished and I managed to rouse myself from the comatose state this flick had stupefied me in to, I could not figure out why it had been made, nor what it was trying to say.
I suppose this is meant to be an exploration of the destructive relationships within families. If so, it could have been done so much better. I didn't care a jot for any single character in this film, so was utterly unengaged throughout. This is probably because the family were fairly wealthy and as such I couldn't relate to them.
There is a scene early on where all the guests are delivering pointless and trite wedding speeches. And it goes on and on and on. After each speech I was thinking 'surely that's the last one' but no it went on ad infinitum for no purpose than to make eternity seem a little longer.
Another scene which almost had me reaching for the razor blades was when the family were playing a game of 'Let's see who can pack the dish washer the fastest'. Does anyone really believe that watching a family time themselves doing a domestic chore is entertainment? Another annoying factor were the rich wedding guests who didn't seem to have any life but rather spent the duration of the film wandering around the grounds of the family's luxurious house practicing musical instruments. I really wanted to step into the screen and smash their fiddles and violins over their upper middle class heads.
Of course, I can see how top Hollywood execs would consider this a great film as probably all of them come from a rich dysfunctional family and have at least one precocious child in rehab.
Really, this was one piece of tedious and pointless self-congratulatory guff. Avoid it.
Nothing Is Private (2007)
Uncomfortable yet darkly funny
The uncomfortable, sick and disturbing elements of this film will either make you cringe or laugh guiltily. I found the dark humor to be very funny, and it reminded me a bit of 'Happiness'. Aaron Eckhart was fantastic in this in what must surely be seen as quite a dangerous career choice. But all the actors were equally as brilliant, notably the lead girl who played Jazeera. This film is a great exploration of how parents and adults mess with their children's heads, as well as brutal and graphic portrayal of an adolescents coming to terms with her sexuality. Excellent performances, great script and an overall brilliant film.
Charlie Wilson's War (2007)
Affable, self-important, womanizing congressman cares about Afghan children after being enlightened, in exchange for sex, by a self-important, rich lady (Is it me, or has Julia Roberts' acting always been as bad as an outbreak of cholera?). Hanks befriends an odious maverick CIA agent and singlehandedly secures the money for the Mujahedin to defeat the Ruskies in Afghanistan, only to feel a bit down in the dumps when the US fail to fund the reconstruction of the country. Based on a true story? Yeah, right! This film is full of holes. Hanks and Roberts in the same film is my worst nightmare but I persevered to my misfortune. To show the Commies indiscriminately murdering civilians and not suggesting the US does likewise is irritatingly lopsided. I'm not defending the Russians - read about what they are doing in Chechnya - if you can find an investigative reporter who hasn't already been assassinated by the state. But warfare breeds brutality and inhumanity, and the Yanks are as guilty as, if not more so, than most. So, perhaps, if we'd funded the reconstruction of Afghanistan first time round, Islamic extremism wouldn't have flourished? Shut your mouth, Hollywood, you're full of it.
My Blueberry Nights (2007)
My blueberry nightmare
First off, some of the cinematography and the music in the film is fantastic. But those are the only positive things I can say about it because aside from those elements this was a load of pretentious rubbish. It's a shame for Norah Jones, as she seems to be able to act, but this did her no justice. Jude Law is just short of saying 'Ecky Thump' so bad is his Mancunian accent. The rest of the characters cannot be empathized with either. This is dross masquerading as art-house. It is slow, it is pointless and it is bad. It's one of those films where every ordinary conversation is supposed to contain something profound. But it doesn't. It's awful and a complete bore from start to finish.
Tell it how it is
Do-It-Yourself documentaries are the way forward. Split into three parts, this is very well researched and informative. It encapsulates most of my reading material in the last five years into two hours. There are some spurious claims, but on the whole, there is enough factual content to dismiss any 'conspiracy theory' criticism. Everyone should watch this to understand what the hell is going on in the world. This is not just for those who get off on reading David Icke. The first part of this film was my favorite - it's about time atheists started fighting back at the joke that is Christianity.
What is all this 'take it with a pinch of salt' rubbish by fellow commenters. It's time to face the truth, people.
Shut Up & Sing (2006)
Don't shut up and don't sing
I knew that the chicks were vilified for speaking out against the Iraq war, but I presumed it was calculated and that they were politically savvy. Not so, as it turned out, it was merely a throwaway comment from the lead singer which she wouldn't have said if she'd realized the consequences. Saying that, this was a good indication of how nuts mainstream America is. They even got death threats! Beyond the PR damage limitation exercises and the corporate proclamations of their oily manager, this was quite an interesting journey. Unfortunately, I don't like their middle-of-the-road music at all, although some of the lyrics are quite good. It was a good finale when they returned to London. I would have called this Don't shut up and don't sing.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
There will be tedium
First off - Best Acting Oscar? What a load of rubbish! DDL plays a caricature throughout. He's either doing an impression of Sean Connery playing a pantomime villain, or a camped-up sheriff in a bad western. This should have been called 'There will be boredom'. Two hours of endless yawns, where I failed to feel a thing for any of the characters. It was so unclear what this was about. Was it about a father and son relationship? Greed against good? God against oil? None of the above were realized in this arduous and thoroughly pointless epic. Basically, if you enjoy watching an actor pull off all the tricks, you'll like this. But if you like a well-paced story, with humor and drama, you must admit this is trash. Okay, so it was quite atmospheric at times, with the droning soundtrack and the bleak and expansive landscapes. But this hardly qualifies it for award consideration. It's just a vehicle for DDL, and if you think he's good you'll like it, but he's not. The milk shake monologue at the end is cringe-worthy. What a waste of time. Pretentious and slow film-making at its worst. Oh yeah, and yet another movie without a meaningful part for a woman.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Dark Truth
What is going on with all of these maximum ratings for a barely average film? According to IMDb, this is the best film of the decade so far. Not one sane person could argue that this is justified. Have the studios finally managed to get the masses to 'believe the hype'? I was a bit skeptical about this film, due to the hype, and especially because I wasn't impressed with Batman Begins, but I must admit, the heist in the first five minutes was excellent, and I thought my skepticism was unwarranted. But then Batman turned up and began speaking like a wrestler with throat cancer, and it continued to go down hill from there. What I didn't expect this film to be was tedious. But it was. It was far too long and bored my pants off me. There was no character development, the story was convoluted and over-complex and it was far too long. But my my main problem, and this goes against nearly every reviewer here, even those who weren't impressed, I thought Heath Ledger was absolutely awful! Who are these people calling for a posthumous Oscar? There is nothing I despise more than a 'look at me' performance. Ledger did all the tricks required to portray a 'crazy guy', including shifting his eyes up, down, left and right at every opportunity, and ingeniously, due to having his mouth cut as a child, he keeps licking around the inside of his mouth, which rather than being an impressive feat of method acting is actually as irritating as watching a fat man eat chips with his mouth open. His performance was utterly self-indulgent and it seems like all you sycophants fell for it. The only decent acting performance in this film is Eckhart. Caine and Morgan bore, and Bale, with his 'employ me for movie trailers' voice barely has one dimension. I would have rated this film higher if it hadn't taken itself so seriously, but as it stands it is a pretentious hyped-up and tedious movie. At last, the dark truth.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Oscars at the ready.
One of the best films of 2008 and should definitely win best picture Oscar as it presses all those buttons that the industry loves. A great concept - that all the questions on 'Who wants to be a millionaire?' have some significance in the life of a Mumbai street urchin. I think this will have added resonance for those who have visited Mumbai and Agra, but even if you've never been to India you will warm to this movie. The acting is excellent, from the children up to the adult protagonists, the story is believable and well paced, and the end credits are very uplifting. The soundtrack is also fantastic. It has the distinct feel of a European Independent film, like Cinema Paradiso, with the whole life story of the leading characters being played out. It may be a bit schmaltzy towards the end for some, but this can be overlooked due to some great cinematography and emotional performances. A classic.
Horror? No! Dark comedy? Definitely!
Lovers of the horror genre who like their movies to be full of blood and action, like the two people who commented on this and gave it a low rating, should perhaps stay clear of this one. Yes, there are some bloody moments but I think this movie being primarily in the horror genre here on IMDb is a big mistake. To me, this was funny as hell and those who criticise it for being too full of 'that wouldn't happen' moments have completely missed the point.
The film is ludicrous but intentionally so, and it is the preposterous nature of the situations where the comedy lies. There are many cringe-worthy moments throughout but again these add to the laughs. Sure, one can look deeper at this tale and argue it is an exploration of morality, but that is down to an excellent and believable script which allows the watcher to interpret the movie on different levels.
If your humour is quite sick then you will get a lot of enjoyment out of this film. It is slick, well acted and directed and highly original. One of the best films I've seen in a long time.