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Golden Years (I) (2016)
9/10
Superb entertainment with social commentary
30 September 2019
Just loved this movie. So entertaining with .great humour and superb experienced cast. The social commentary is perhaps less percepible with US audience but it is great. Very well written, directed, filmed and edited. Shame Tom Jones did not appear in person..
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10/10
Awesome presentation, but not for everyone..
18 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I am 63 and, from starting school at age 6, a survivor of The Somme frequently visiting our playground from next door and the ever lessening "Old Contemptables" parading every year on Rememberance Sunday", the impact of World War one was ever present, but largely silent and always in black and white. No more. This is a truly remarkable technical achievement. Real footage in full, sound added, some colorized and many other layers of precise enhancement and augmentation. Fully impressionable on those of us interested in real history, but not entertaining, or intended to be stimulating, in the same way as "Dunkirk". Real faces and real horror lingers on. Stay after the titles to see how it was all done. Having edited myself, I found the details of how it was done as absorbing as the product itself. A New Zealand production, it may not get an Oscar but in my humble opinion this production should receive at least one!
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9/10
Truly Excellent and Thought Provoking Journalistic Approach!
13 October 2018
Firstly, in my humble opinion, the screen play was nothing short of superb. This movie was totally absorbing from the very beginning right through to the final Epilogue information in the very end titles. Especially worrying as this is virtually entirely fact based with very little dramatic license! The sensitive strictly legal approach to the real court case is followed in the same matter of fact approach by the director. The Prosecuting Attorney was really good, and that is quite something because in my opinion she wss actually the weakest portrayal of what I consider to be the main three characters; (the other two being the defendant and his attorney). The police officers and The Blogger were very well portrayed and directed too. The Grand Jury was an interesting aspect to include. So many other scenes too, but I really wanted to see something of the jury choosing process and the impact the case had on the Jury and Judge. Really superb movie. No laboring of the subject. Have the courage to go and see this. Make up your own mind...
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8/10
Really good and unique drama documentary..
21 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Firstly I should declare that I worked in this area of government (Not "Social Services" by the way) for 23 years to what may be a unique level of knowledge, including production of an official Tribunal documentary/training video back in 1989, of which I may have the only remaining copy.

How I wish I could have contributed to the script here too, even though I have been out of this work for over 20 years now.

This film is really good, highly realistic and long, long overdue. Great Job.

Nevertheless the one parent family circumstances were not realistic, unless she very naively moved to the north east for a job that fell through. In any case, with children involved, a Social worker should have put in an appearance.

When he tried to sign unemployed and said his Dr. Would not certify him fit for work he would likely have been declined there too! By the time he got his Appeal he might well have been fit for work, and would then have struggled to get arrears without intervention. Yes this would be realistic!

The loss of the local offices means that all he can do is attend counter receptions. 20 years ago his claim would have been determined behind reception and often by the person who interviewed him. (29 years ago as a Decision Maker myself I would sometimes see people myself. An appeal could of course be accepted back then in writing at any time after the decision).

Nevertheless the courage to tackle this subject is unprecedented. The techniques used are extraordinary and the acting is excellent.

I even wonder if some scenes were filmed with natural reactions from people who did not have a script, or prior knowledge of the scenes. This is apparently the case with The Food Pantry scene, and I wonder if true when he asks for help with his PC and the reactions in the street at the end. Terrific spontaneity.
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Dunkirk (2017)
9/10
Awesome
5 August 2017
In my humble opinion, near perfect. Brilliant script, cinematography, soundtracks and acting. Mark Rylance in particular was in my humble opinion absolutely brilliant in his portrayal (based on a number of real incidents from a variety of vessels but using Titanic 2nd Officer Lightoller's role in Dunkirk as a foundation. Superb. Kenneth Branagh was notable too and not too dominant. Even Michael Caine's voice use on the radio was carefully done. My only content gripe was the unnecessary use of a 1950s railway carriage. The overall result a brilliantly directed, balanced and unromanticized war record including an incredible amount of subtlety (e.g. through the background to each and every single notable quote listed here) from a brilliant script right through to the order of titles at the end. Probably the most unique and best war film I have ever seen.
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Wonder Woman (2017)
7/10
Entertaining Movie - Good Fun
13 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Certainly a fun and entertaining movie. I particularly enjoyed the performances of the two leading actors. Some of the script is a bit of an ouch. The way that Princess Diana says "Excuse Me" to her mother The Queen being one example early on. There was an over extended sexual undertone that I disliked in two parts of the movie. No bad language that I noticed, but one (unnecessary?) extremely sudden violent assassination of a German Officer shot in the head that had our audience gasping. Yes focus on "Love" being good is there, but could probably write an essay on the anti-Christian aspects of this movie. Generally liked the CGI effects but the opening shots from a cliff of an island covered sea looked very unconvincing. A lot of trouble has been taken with WW1 period artifacts, costume and atmosphere. Some incredulity included as one would expect, such as the tiny WW1 bomb dropped by hand is not likely to result in an entire factory exploding instantaneously. Pretty sure there are a few continuity errors to. Is the pilot shown in flashback stealing aircraft without cap/goggles, pushing pilot with items on to the ground, only to crash in the sea with them on? "Southern Railway (1923) carriage was clearly shown in 1918, yet some nice period props were made, including a Foden Steam Lorry which was destroyed later on in the film. Personally found the very sudden changes in period a bit tough to take. Movie seemed to want to cover enormous scope, but it really was entertaining.
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7/10
Good but not great entertainment.
17 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Clearly the Director Guy Ritchie wanted to create something very different in this rendition. It is hard to escape the influences of Lord of The Rings though. The influence of the Merlin TV series is acknowledged briefly at the start with a short cameo from Katie McGrath (Morgana), just before launching into a very high speed story line taking Arthur from a child to adulthood, and bringing him to the realization that he was the true King. David Beckham's cameo was fun I suspect the money might have been better spent elsewhere? As a result of this vari-speed cinematic approach it is certainly "very modern" and very different. Although the movie kept our full attention, our small USA audience did not seem too impressed with the manipulation. I have to question whether, especially given that there are supposed to be five more of these movies, that this approach was necessary? There were a lot of heavy regional British accents, and at least one great (over?) extended scene of British rapid fire humor which as a Brit I loved, but the American audience seemed, to me, to be totally thrown by the language and the pantomime-style sequence. Thankfully I heard only one F-Bomb and saw and heard very little objectionable material in the movie which was a good thing. The special effects were absolutely outstanding. I particularly loved the treatment of the sword thrown into the lake. I loved Arthur's Muse "Nimue" played by Astrid Bergès-Frisbey and all of the other supporting characters, but I am afraid I kept wanting to see a stronger performance from Charlie Hunnam in the lead. I even kept wanting to cast Kenneth Brannagh in that role! Planned to be the first of six movies, in my humble opinion it lacks something and I think it needs to get a good deal better with a more consistent approach to be successful.
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9/10
Very clever & engaging
29 December 2016
This movie is a short at 15 minutes long but is nevertheless fully engaging. The titles however do not finish until four whole minutes into this work and this is unnecessarily distracting in my view for such a short movie. The intervening landscape cinematography was really nice and fully engaging on its own in my view. The titles should finish at 1:14 with the film title. A small point perhaps but the actress Joanna opens her eyes quite quickly and then flutters her eyes a little. Not sure if that was a deliberate intention/direction but I would personally have preferred to see the title followed by her eyes opening very slowly and staying open for more dramatic effect. Once the titles are done with though the movie really takes off with even more outstanding photography and editing. Totally absorbing. Superb acting in all roles. Lighting and atmosphere, even timing is all perfect from that point on. For USA/UK? audiences there is a shade of Scandinavia/Wallander about the director's treatment using suspense which is not unexpected. Loved it. Congratulations on Cannes! Highly recommended and can't wait for your feature length Jarno!
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Passengers (I) (2016)
8/10
Very entertaining.
28 December 2016
Surprisingly entertaining, despite what seemed to be, (even to the lead actors being interviewed on Graham Norton's show), a restricted idea, environment, basic story line and plot. It was though all kept simple and effective. What was written was used to the full and not overwhelmed by the excellent special effects. Leading actors were surprisingly good in my view, while Arthur the Android barman was in danger of stealing the show and some nice twists and turns. Ending could in my view have been developed a little more. The concept of infallible technology seemed to have some unlikely holes in it and as a result one or two parts were just a bit too fantastic. A really good family movie with a tiny amount of nudity. Highly recommended.
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Spectre (I) (2015)
7/10
Loved it..
26 February 2016
Hard to write about this movie. On the face of it there was nothing special about it at all. Yet I still found the constant level of action truly absorbing and entertaining, even though nothing much stood out. The acting was good and convincing in the traditional James Bond tongue in cheek way. Perhaps I am biased in loving to see so much of London too but I loved the locations and the lighting treatments too. Yet I have to return to the point that I really cannot point to any one thing that stood out as being extraordinary in this movie! Not one incident, stunt or chase. Hard not to compare with the latest Mission Impossible movie with its extraordinary stunts pushing the boundaries in very visual ways. In explicably I was more consistently absorbed by Spectre than MI. Somehow though I was totally absorbed in the escapism of it all, and recommend this movie without hesitation.
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9/10
Memorizing...
26 February 2016
I can't stand Alan Bennett's work I am sorry to say. Add to that the idea of a pair of "Bennetts" ever present in this movie talking to each other and the combination was very intimidating for me indeed to be honest.

No need to worry though as this movie is nothing short of superb! The combination of cast, Director Nicholas Hytner and of course the outstanding performance of Dame Maggie Smith made for a sensationally entertaining movie told about several genuinely absorbing, albeit unglamorous, characters.

Dame Maggie's performance speaks for itself. You will hear a lot about Dame Maggie for sure.

For me though it is Nicholas Hytner's role that I found equally if not even more fascinating. He somehow managed to temper, what I find to be, the acidic sarcastic self-analytical Bennett style, to the extent that even the dramatic device of having two "Bennetts" did not overwhelm the production.

This production was for me astonishingly well balanced; between the unwilling carer, his other self, the social worker, the neighbors and Miss Shepherd. So much so that I could not take my eyes off the screen from beginning to end.

To some extent I can personally speak to the fact, that the whole presentation was entirely authentic. It would even still have been so had they not used the original settings and location because of the cast. (Presumably was very good on stage too?) Some people have commented on the ending but for me it was as near perfection as it could be.

Well done everyone and err... yes even you Mr. Bennett, both of you.. sigh.
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8/10
Very good - Recommended
19 March 2015
Really liked most of this film but left with the feeling that it was perhaps too long for the written material. Character portrayal and acting was very good indeed. Special effects very good. Plenty of action all round. Certainly a different feelform the previous two movies too. One especially notable scene was the most amazing bombing sequence I have ever seen in any movie. You really felt you were in the shelter with them! Certainly left wanting to see again and to see more. Probably my favorite of the three so far, although I found the plot to be a little unconvincing. I think they could have got to Peter sooner...
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Cinderella (I) (2015)
9/10
Wonderful Production.
19 March 2015
Had I known beforehand that Kenneth Brannagh was the Director I might have needed a lot more convincing about suitability of this movie for young people. As it is I need not have worried as the rendition could not really have been much better. The classic way of updating a family standard I loved the way it was put together and the sheer polished professionalism of the end result. My only very minor gripe was the use of CGI which, while although overall superb, was in my opinion weak when used for the crowd scenes and the ships in the harbor, where object copying seemed a little too obvious for me at least. Really good cinematography and incredibly smooth direction coupled with excellent sound effects too made this a delight to see.
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Bataan (1943)
8/10
A mixture but characters way ahead of their time...
30 November 2013
The "War Double Feature" DVD copy I saw was of good quality. As indicated elsewhere the choice, scope and portrayal of different ethnic background to characters was way, way ahead of it's time and a remarkable achievement, but not without cost to the studio at the time. Nevertheless the portrayals still seem a little stereotypical i.e. the Filipino shown as rather superficial, unreliable, undisciplined and perhaps not courageous as they likely really were? The African American was played well but the script called for him to regularly burst into song as if he was on the banks of the Mississippi. There was zero insight into the Japanese who were simply portrayed as blindly charging cannon fodder/bodies with no personalities and little or no battle skills at all. Far from the truth. This may have been deliberate though to avoid panic at home? The hand to hand choreography and fight scenes were very poor, unconvincing and the worst part of the movie for me I'm afraid. The trailer advertises that this was based on true authentic story/stories but I haven't found any corroboration. Of course there is no mention of the USA having to leave all of the islands or of the Bataan March and yet there is a, what for the time must have been an exceedingly optimistic, promise that the US would return to Bataan. Which of course they did God Bless them! All in all still well worth watching even 70 years later!
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Inspector Lewis: The Ramblin' Boy: Part 1 (2013)
Season 7, Episode 3
8/10
Well I am still loving the Lewis series
30 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
*Warning Spoiler included - Inspector Lewis is still my number 1. Also saw Parts 1 and 2 combined and found Babou Ceesay's performance as D.C. Grey particularly refreshing. Can we please have an explanation of how they met up when he was a kid? Was it supposed to be a flashback to a particular Morse episode? Certainly feel there is room for more exploration of a relationship there and will be very sad to see the series go if that is indeed the intention. This series must be about the more complex plots, and I for one find this series a lot more difficult to guess out than even Morse was! Nevertheless there is an enormous amount of competition out there. Bound to say that, although I do also like Midsomer Murders a little, the Midsomer Murder plots, body count, restricted locale and John Nettles (Bring back Bergerac) are nothing short of incredible in comparison to Inspector Lewis.
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The Iron Lady (2011)
7/10
A Movie about aging and dementia or about a stateswoman?
6 March 2012
I am not a fan of Margaret Thatcher but I do believe she should have had more respectful treatment than shown by this movie, especially as it has been released during her lifetime. Somewhat familiar with the Thatcher Story, I was left with the overwhelming impression that this movie was almost entirely about age and the sad decline of one's (anyone's) faculties into dementia and with Margaret Thatcher's life almost as a backdrop. The movie did leave a lasting impression on leaving the theater but not of Margaret Thatcher, only of how sad aging, grieving and dementia really is. This was caused by a (for me at least) awfully destructive screenplay sequence, seemingly obsessed with her natural decline in later life. For me this was a serious opportunity lost. Whatever we may think of Margaret Thatcher's policies she is a great stateswoman and should be respected as such. I did like that events were presented dramatically but allowing the audience to make their own judgments. I liked too the choice and approach to national events (apart from the totally unnecessary artistic/dramatic license with certain events i.e Airy Neave) but can't help but wonder what a great movie this could have been if the attention to her aging had been cut back to a more realistic amount of screen time and perhaps left towards the last 25% of the movie and only then slowly introduced with at first shorter then longer flashbacks? Personally liked Meryl Streep's very considered and convincing performance, but not for an Oscar, which she nonetheless has deserved for other roles. Don't know the shooting sequence but there seemed to me to be at least one important scene at the height of Margaret's power and capability where Meryl Streep/Director seems to suggest Margaret was already showing signs of illness but this was not in fact the case. I can't recall wanting to re-edit a movie so much before. The performances are there and much more probably in the rushes too I'm sure but this final result is really too obscure and believe me Margaret Thatcher is a lot of things to a lot of people but certainly never ever "obscure"!
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Christabel (1988– )
10/10
Astonishing..
26 January 2012
This is a 1988 BBC TV Movie, and a rendition of 1930's Germany, the like of which I have never seen before.

Although brilliantly written by Dennis Potter our own late mother, (although not involved in The German resistance or with the Holocaust), could have written this and better based on her own incredible day to day wartime experiences.

The setting is simply outstanding. The attention to detail such as the trains, trams and even household items such as the coffee grinder are amazing.

There are several actual very similar parallels with events experienced by Mum, and even some identical dialogue in this movie.

Given our family connection to this era, I found myself spellbound and deeply moved by it tonight.

Never thought I could ever equate my Mum with Liz Hurley though LOL!
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8/10
Truly remarkable movie,,,
20 January 2011
If you are looking for sheer excitement, battle sequences or car chases, than this movie may not be for you.

Of on the other hand you are looking for thoughtful drama, fantastic acting and historical insight this movie is IMHO without equal.

Certainly helps if you know something of the history here, but I loved the audience knowledge assumptions made which meant that the audience does not feel patronized by the content.

A little slow to start with, and perhaps very slightly long? IMHO It is one of those movies you need to allow yourself to be immersed in. Not simple entertainment but a highly skilled and very courageous and capable portrayal of an unprecedented, and largely secret, real life astonishing drama (British Succession), behind another astonishing drama on a worldwide scale(British leadership in WW2).

The casting, screenplay, camera-work, prop/set detail and acting are simply extraordinary.

My wife asked if this movie cried out for a sequel? My feeling is I would not have though it was intended, but if it did happen, and with this cast, than several ought to have an even better chance of an Oscar.

Too many brilliant performances to mention.

Sadly I do wonder however how much of a future in this industry lies with such wonderful full feature film works of art, as this movie was only viewed here by four people tonight!
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The Train (1964)
9/10
How did I miss this movie...
11 February 2010
Truly extraordinary in it's use of authentic railway rolling stock, (although sad at it's destruction in retrospect), and also the aircraft this story, and acting, are very compelling indeed. The feeling of war-time France is only spoiled by the accents. Camera work and locations great too. The dilemma of still being occupied by the Germans.. but not for long.. was conveyed too in one or two of the more mercenary characters who it seemed to me suddenly found the courage to help the resistance realizing that it was all going to be over soon.. I have no idea how I missed this old movie but it kept me up until 1am this morning. Astonishingly entertaining. Thank God with all the bloodshed it was not a true story though!
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8/10
Well worth watching but is something missing..
21 January 2010
Enjoyed the movie very much. Certainly will leave the audience wanting to know more, and there is truly a lot more historically to find out!

Did the production team fall to the temptation of over dramatization, particularly of the shooting event? There is a ton of interesting accurate material hinted at? Prince Albert's contribution to UK and the monarchy warrants a movie on it's own but granted that was apparently not part of the intention here.

The costumes and sets are especially good but am I alone in thinking that this production (which judging by the length of titles at the end was certainly not a cheap one) wanted badly for a British Court historical etiquette expert beyond the Duchess of York? i.e. Did Princess Victoria really stuff an entire truffle/rissole(?) into her mouth while speaking to the Prime Minister in the company of His Majesty with her mouth full?

'Could never really felt that sympathetic to Victoriain this movie, or indeed in her shoes at all. Yet loved the casting of the principals, whose acting was convincing, so did the script really allow us to really get to know them well? I always felt like a totally detached, uninformed outside observer, much more so than with "Mrs. Brown" or even "The Queen". Yet to be honest I still could not take my eyes off the screen, except that is for some of the more avant-garde camera techniques which were distracting from time to time.
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Working the Thames (2004– )
7/10
Entertaining and great content for the history buff.
13 November 2009
I loved the whole concept of a documentary following the River Thanmes from it's source to the sea. Particularly liked the series opening at the source and the way that was shown. My biggest problems were the irritating (overuse outdoors?) of an ultra wide lens showing distortion at the edges and most of all the visual style of constant flicking between images which was just too much and too fast. This is a documentary with both social and historical content and so the viewer needs time to absorb the conversation and the scenes on screen. Flicking between shots so frequently was a major distraction in this production. It's a shame because there is so much else to like about it! I think the various scenarios of punting beer, traveling the rubbish barge and the container ship etc are great fun but I loved the Thames Barge journey in particular the best. All in all, as a former resident on the banks of the river Thames, I learned something from this series and this is quite an entertaining series which did not fall into too many of the usual clichés such as celebrity residents, Henley or swan upping etc. but of course there is always next time...
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Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (2006 TV Movie)
9/10
Hgfather got it right!
13 November 2009
Following Vadim's projects as a fan after being introduced to him some some years ago. Then he revealed that he, like me is a Terry Pratchett fan. Many have tried to emulate Terry's books on screen and this production is by far the best to date and in my opinion is truly outstanding. Love just about everything about it. The sets, sound effects and visuals are really wonderful. Camera work great. Even though originally conceived as a TV Series we are able to view this in one extended session with a short break, and, despite it's length, it still carries our interest all the way through and is spell binding for our kids too. Vewed several times and I expect we will view this again at this time of year on request. Can't wait to see more of Vadim's Colour of Magic!
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Hocus Pocus (1993)
8/10
Adore it but why oh why...
13 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I absolutely adored this movie. Viewed it four times over Halloween this year with my family.

Bette Midler and her companions were in my view truly outstanding. The story and the flashback elements handled fantastically well. Many cameos stand out, not least the use of substitute brooms complete with cord. Wonderful@

Biggest annoyance for me, and from our family perspective, was the totally unnecessary obsession with virginity throughout the entire movie. If only the script writer had used "innocence" instead of "virginity" it would have been entirely suitable for all ages in my view. Personally I did not have a problem with the "Madonna bra scene" but I did literally edit out the superfluous objectionable exchange with the motorcycle "cop" on virginity at each showing. The joke exchange concerning breasts on arrival in the house, and the reference to virginity in the closing scene, were both totally unnecessary in my view, and spoiled an otherwise excellent movie.
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8/10
Hogfather really get's it right!
13 November 2009
Following Vadim's projects as a fan after being introduced to him some some years ago. Then he revealed that he, like me is a Terry Pratchett fan. Many have tried to emulate Terry's books on screen and this production is by far the best to date and in my opinion is truly outstanding. Love just about everything about it. The sets, sound effects and visuals are really wonderful. Camera work great. Even though originally conceived as a TV Series we are able to view this in one extended session with a short break, and, despite it's length, it still carries our interest all the way through and is spell binding for our kids too. Vewed several times and I expect we will view this again at this time of year on request. Can't wait to see more of Vadim's Colour of Magic!
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