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Citizen Ruth (1996)
Election is one of my favourite films, this was dull.
I watched this after watching Election several times and listening to Alexander Payne's commentary for that film. He keeps promoting his own work (this film) throughout so I thought "Why not?" I like to see good directors' early works. This is well made and well acted but I just didn't connect with the story. I think maybe it's because I'm from Britain where abortion is a non-issue and the main theme of this film is abortion v.s. essentially religion and pro-life. Since this is not a conflict where I'm from, I found it difficult to care. It's a bit like the original Alfie; a British film that came out 30 years earlier and tells the same story but with more weight. Just watch Election again and save yourself the hassle.
This Is It (2009)
Far better than expected.
This is not just scraps of rehearsal footage as it has been promoted, there is enough material to get a genuine idea how the show would have gone, including brand new music video sections for Thriller and Smooth Criminal. The latter especially was ingenious and has some unexpected cameos. If you have ever liked MJ at all, go and see this, it will not disappoint. It is a little bit indulgent as you might expect but when you see the talent on display that is completely forgivable. Michael is incredible for a 50 year old man on death's door. There is something other worldly about him. We get to see him being very professional and very much a director or his own show. You get the idea that all or at least most of the crazy surprises have come out of his head. The interviews with emotional dancers overwhelmed by getting to work with MJ are welcome to and do not crowd the film or let it deteriorate into sentimental rubbish. This is pure entertainment, I bet nobody can sit still or resist the urge to mouth the lyrics all the way through.
Eros una vez María (2007)
Strange but good fun.
I recently got to see this film as part of a film festival in Guadalajara, Mexico. I was going to write a review straight after but the film wasn't even listed on IMDb then. The film is about a man and his relationships with many different women called Maria. One of them affected him more than most in his past and in the film we see how this affects his life and other relationships. The narrative is actually a little bit messed up in a Sex and Lucia kind of way but the film is very enjoyable and laugh out loud funny throughout. The director and principle actors also came to the screening, though sadly with the exception of the gorgeous Ana Serradilla who is another good reason for men in particular to see this film. The acting is solid, and the film is another fine example of why we should all be paying attention to Mexican cinema. I would recommend this film to everyone looking to have a couple of hours fun in the cinema, not the best comedy I've ever seen, but it's above average.
The Full Monty (1997)
Best British Film Ever
I must start by pointing out that I'm from Doncaster, as such my accent is almost identical to that found in Sheffield (20 mins away by road). I first saw this film when at 13, I illegally snook in to watch the 15-rated movie. Despite the average bloke decides to strip plot line, this remains one of the most realistic films I have ever seen and also one of the funniest. The characters are all very realistic and the problems they have were and are genuine problems that Yorkshire people have, the personalities are spot on too. The accents of the characters are good too, many of them are from Yorkshire but scot Robert Carlyle has a convincing Yorkshire accent, well done to him. I'm not going to go on about the film's plot, just know that this film is hilarious and very human. As soon as the video came out we bought it and watched the film 5 nights in a row.
I recommend that Americans search for a DVD copy with the original audio, It's annoying that the studios decided to change the English used in the film for the USA though, we are quite accustomed to watching American films with unfamiliar slang, so it hardly seems fair that this and Trainspotting had to suffer in this way.
Rocky Balboa (2006)
If you have seen any of the Rocky series (as I'm sure anybody reading this has) you will have a fair idea what to expect. I went to see this film with a friend who pointed out that she grew up with Rocky, this is true for many of us. I was never a HUGE fan of the series but I had seen them all on television and yes I always did enjoy tuning into a Rocky film. The familiarity of the character lends the film an emotional weight, we know Rocky going into the film and we have seen him (and Sly) mature over the years, and now it's time for us to find out where life has lead him. The writing is excellent with some very human and touching moments and some great inspiring speeches; I was at the point of crying at several moments throughout the film. Yes, the plot may be a little far fetched but it is all handled in a very realistic manner. Sly may be 60, but when you see him get into that ring you will have no question about his physical condition (I'm 22 and have never been in a shape anywhere near that good). I defy anyone to see this film without feeling seriously inspired when they leave the cinema. This is by far the best of the sequels and for my money THE BEST Rocky film ever. This is what we, and Sylvester Stallone - who writes, directs and acts all with superior skill, needed most.
La gabbianella e il gatto (1998)
I watched this movie dubbed in Spanish on a DVD that came free with a Spanish magazine, so I obviously wasn't expecting much. What I found though is one of the most heartwarming children's films I've ever seen. There are some great songs (in Spanish anyway) and the DVD I have even has a karaoke feature should you decide you like them so much (yes, I've done it). The story does pretty much what the title says. A seagull dies and leaves a cat to look after her egg. The film follows the adventures of the baby seagull and her cat friends. There are moments of sorrow and others of happiness. I'm sorry for not being more articulate but my point is that I was emotionally touched and I think you will be too. Watch it if ever you get the chance.
Sunset Beach (1997)
I loved this soap!!!
Back when I was about 14 (21 now) i used to tape this thing everyday so I could watch it when i went home for lunch and every day a couple of my mates would come watch it too. We loved the Ben / Derek plot sooo much (I may have even made a tape where edited those bits together n cut all the rest- i'm usually quite normal, honest). A funny thing I noticed recently is that on one of my other favourite shows, British sit com Game On they used to mention watching sunset beach like they were taking the mess out of how rubbish it was- but this was 2 years before SB existed so I have my suspicions that someone saw game on and decided to make said crappy soap. Anyway I did prefer the original theme tune (the one used at the end of later episodes written by one Tim Truman, which I notice happens to be the name of one of the characters, in case you forget it was the guy who had a flashback where he shouted noooooo for about 3 months when he was in a coma. For addictive crappy TV SB is far and away the best. Its so bad that its brilliant!!! its also a load of fun when you see the stars in other stuff. Paula was in mulholland drive and the punisher! and Meg was in.. Wild Things 3 or was it 2?- use the search if you are interested. Alas Ben, once tipped as 007 is in general hospital!
Corpse Bride (2005)
Visually stunning, entertaining but not perfect.
I am a big Tim Burton fan. I have watched all of his films and have even written academic essays about him so I had a fair idea of what to expect from this latest offering. The Animation is an absolute joy to behold. Visually stunning in all respects and there are some good visual jokes, my favourite being a characters jaw literally dropping off when he is surprised by some news. The lighting is fantastic and thoroughly realistic too. Storywise this film has Burton's "unique" edge. A young man, Victor (unrecognisably voiced by Depp) is set to marry Victoria although the pair have never met. At first both are a bit wary of the idea but warm to it after they meet. Problems soon arise as Victor accidentally marries Emily, a corpse (it will become clear when you see it). I did enjoy this strange set up and there are some good jokes that play on common figures of speech, my favourite one being "I'll keep an eye on him". Throughout the film you do wonder how they are going to manage to comfortably tie up the story and in fairness it doesn't do too bad a job. Its good to see (or hear at least) Burton regular Michael Gough back in the cinema playing an elder among the dead.
There are songs that aren't immediate classics like some from "A Nightmare Before Christmas" but I'm sure they may grow on me with repeat viewing. There is also some beautiful piano music. Danny Elfman fully deserves the credit he gets for writing good scores.
I have given a lot of praise to the film so far and I did enjoy the movie a lot but it seems a little bit empty somehow. I'm not entirely sure why perhaps other reviews may help to explain that. Overall then, the movie is definitely worth a watch though perhaps there's no need to rush to the cinema to see it now.
The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
Criminally Underrated Musketeer Film
This film is one of my all time favourites yet for some reason it has received some very harsh reviews. I first saw the film when it was released in the cinema and loved it so much I went to see it again and have watched it on VHS and DVD countless times since. Firstly many thanks to Writer/Director Randall Wallace (the bloke who wrote Braveheart)for crafting such a compelling tale. In the film Leonardo DiCaprio (a fine actor who frequently suffers criticism for being pretty) plays King Louis XIV of France and his imprisoned twin brother Philipe. King Louis is a cruel tyrant who cares only for himself and not for his people. Retired Musketeers Athos, Aramis and Porthos hatch a plan to replace the King and try to enlist the help of their friend (and Captain of the King's Musketeers) D'Artagnan for their scheme. Unfortunately for them D'Artagnan feels it his duty to remain loyal to the King even though he recognises his failures and so he tries to prevent the Musketeers plan from coming to fruition. There are many interesting twists and turns as well as a clever revelation that I will not spoil here. The acting in the film is great. This being the best bunch of Musketeers ever assembled for a film in my opinion (Yes I've seen the Michael York/ Oliver Reed etc ones). Jeremy Irons has great presence as Aramis here leading the Musketeers. John Malkovich is good in the most sympathetic role I've seen him do as Athos. Gerard Depardieu seems born to play Porthos and lastly Gabriel Byrne fits the bill perfectly as a more mature D'Artagnan. I don't really have anything bad to say about this film, my only minor niggle is that there are some scenes I feel may have benefited from a larger budget. I always enjoy watching a good sword fight on screen and to be honest here you may not find anything in that way as thrilling as say, Gladiator but in my opinion this is the superior film of the two. If you haven't already seen The Man in the Iron Mask I suggest you rent it soon.
All for one..
Mission: Impossible II (2000)
Guilty Pleasure- Ethan Hunt "American Bond"
When I first saw this film 5 years ago at the cinema I was a little disappointed. I enjoyed the film a lot but I was a big fan of Mission Impossible 1 and had seen the TV series on occasion. The first movie was a great spy film, with all its clever twists and turns and Ethan Hunt a sympathetic human character, here he is recast as action man or to put it another way the American version of James Bond, which would have been fine if not for Tom Cruise essentially being a completely different character than he was in MI1. But thats where the negative points end. This movie is, on the surface a big cheesy action film, the kind of thing Dolph Lundgren or Steven Segal would be in, only its good. There is a good plot despite many comments although you do get the sense that the plot was put in afterwards to facilitate the action. Essentially its about villains peddling a super virus and its cure so they can make money from making people ill and then selling the cure. Its really not that important, this movie shines in the action scenes and has some excellent cheesy dialogue "This isn't mission difficult Mr.Hunt, this is mission impossible"
Overall this is the movie equivalent of eating an entire box of quality street to yourself in one sitting- you love it but feel a bit guilty afterwards.
If you have the DVD be sure to watch "Mission Improbable" an excellent behind the scenes parody from MTV with Ben Stiller.
I have a very bad feeling about this
Like many people I was expecting Sith to be another letdown, I mean Clones was quite good and Menace wasn't that bad but they just weren't in the same league as the original trilogy, the didn't feel like Star Wars.
This film has everything star wars fans have been waiting for since the prequels were announced. It even justifies the filming of episodes I and II as they serve as a nice back story to Sith, like the prologue of a book. In fact those films will be more satisfying to watch knowing EXACTLY what happens to Anakin. I even get the feeling that Lucas wanted to make this, thought "well I can't just make one" and then made some back-story up for parts I and II
The Story is excellent and you find yourself sympathising with Anakin and understanding his point of view as he turns to the dark side. The film has a very fast pace as it tries to explain every little nuance to make it fit in with episode IV. It succeeds in explaining almost everything but there are a couple of tiny unsatisfactory explanations and minor errors. In all though its pretty convincing. As briefly mentioned the film moves along with lightening pace despite its 2 hour 20 minute running time. Barely five minutes goes by without a large scale battle or a lightsaber duel. The only negative effect is that it seems a little bit computer game-ish at times like the Bond film Die Another Day did. This ties in much better in the Star Wars universe though and is perfectly necessary to the plot. I am usually against computer graphics and can generally recognise them as being fake. In this film CGI looks completely real. It's amazing to think most of the acting is against blue screen. Well done to ILM here.
The acting is a bit unbalanced at times, probably because the actors have nothing to play off a lot of the time. There are some great performances though. Ian McDiarmid is so good it didn't even occur to me that he was acting. Ewan McGregor is far more convincing and infinitely more comfortable here than in the previous two films (he wasn't bad there, but he has come along). His English accent is pretty good now too developing more toward Alec Guinness. Frank Oz is brilliant but let down by some really clumsy dialogue. Natalie Portman looks more beautiful here than she ever has and carries some real emotional weight to her performance. You really believe her heartache but can't help thinking she could have done better with more believable dialogue. On to Hayden Christiansen who in my opinion was pretty stilted in Episode II although he has said this was intentional in interviews. Five minutes into the film he is droning on like he's reading the script but once the film starts proper he comes into his stride to deliver a fantastic emotional performance. You can almost feel his pain. He and Natalie Portman genuinely seem to love one another. I was in tears near the end of the movie! Hayden is a much better actor in the scenes with other people. It seems he works well with someone to play off but not so well with CGI.
Revenge of the Sith will restore hope to Star Wars fans and; dare i say it? is an excellent film, In the same league and possibly even better than the originals.