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Product Reviews

166 (57% helpful)

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  1.  South African powerplay


    With South Africa a powderkeg of potential violence, a hotbed of toxic apartheid politics and enmeshed in a brutal war in Angola, the whole of the southern African continent was about to go up in flames. Fortunately for all concerned, a French-Algerian businessman was beavering away in the background, brokering all sorts of deals and helping to defuse the situation, ultimately leading to the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. While the film might overplay the role of Jean-Yves Ollivier, this is still a fascinating peek behind the scenes at a volatile slice of history.

  2.  More Italian navelgazing


    Third in a putative trilogy of alienation following LAvventura and La Notte finds Antonioni in angst-laden form as he contemplates the bleakness of life in the modern age. Vitti breaks up with one man and slides almost immediately into an affair with brash stockbroker Delon. Plotwise, that is it, and while there is a certain amount of satisfaction in watching two of the most beauteous faces of the 60s in action, it is not the most interesting of tales. But wait for the last 10 minutes, a near abstract series of images that piercingly gazes at what goes on around us, the most fascinating part of the film.

  3.  Beyond redemption


    As if The Swarm was not insulting enough to audiences, director Allen debased that relationship even further with this ghastly and completely unnecessary sequel to the 1972 disaster movie. Picking up hours after the ocean liner turned turtle, here we find various groups scuttling to the wreck for the salvage rights and then spending two hours going through a cheapskate rehash of the original film. The cast are definitely a step down and boy, do they know it. Opens with one of the worst back-projection shots ever committed to film and goes downhill from there.

  4.  You're out of luck


    Off the Nicholas Sparks production line of bland, contrived romances comes this inert entry where a soldier in Iraq is saved from death by a picture of a pretty girl so decides to track her down when he gets back to the USA. Needless to say, the two fall in love despite this Big Secret. While the pictures are pretty, the plot is painful, the dialogue mundane and Efron looks thoroughly bored by the whole proceedings. As well he might.

  5.  Extremely underrated


    Largely met with disdain by the critical bodies upon its release, this is nevertheless an enormously powerful and affecting analysis of post-911 grief, deftly managed by Daldry. Up front is young Horn in the demanding part of a (maybe) Aspergers kid who is having real trouble coming to terms with the loss of his father in the World Trade Center. The character is intense and annoying but also fascinating. The attempts of his stricken mother to help him fall on deaf ears especially when a more unlikely ally emerges in the form of an elderly deaf-mute, an acting masterclass from the legendary von Sydow. This could have been a mawkish disaster but it is restrained and elegant which makes its closing passages all the more powerful.

  6.  Some intense navel gazing


    Cute almost to the point of irritation, this semi-autobiographical film is filled with nice characters unnecessarily agonising over things that should not bother them. Serenely presiding over them all is Plummer as the 75-year-old widower who comes out to his son after the death of his wife. He is the only well-adjusted one among them. McGregor is the bewildered son who is about to muck up his movie-perfect romance with the adorable Laurent because of his own neuroses. Playing fast and loose with flashbacks, it is well acted and heartfelt (based on director Mills and his own father), it says a lot when the one we feel the most more is a worldly wise Jack Russell.

  7.  Robinson in Space


    This follow-up pictorial essay to London takes the viewer out of the capital and explores the vagaries and oddities of the rest of Britain. Sardonically narrated by Scofield, the style of director Keiller is strictly observational and rather quirky. This is probably more engaging than its predecessor but it is still 50% interesting, 50% boring.

  8.  Quite the gag


    Phoenix has always delivered truly dedicated performances but some would argue this is his most committed: pretending for two years that he was an objectionable bum who eschewed the acting profession to become a not very good rapper. And of course the media bought it all hook, line and sinker, which is the whole point of this exercise. Yes, we do spend too much time fawning over celebrities and this film demonstrates this with a caustic sense of humour. Trouble is, Phoenix is so good at playing awful that it is not that much fun spending so much time with this shuffling (and presumably rather smelly) version of him.

  9.  Up among the greats or up its a**e?


    Either a work of sublime beauty about alienated lovers or a quintessentially pretentious European arthouse stereotype. There will be two different camps for viewers of this film, a stylized account of two people gradually realising that their love has died. There are lots of staring off into the middle distance, anguished looks and unaccountable, uncharacteristic actions as the husband and wife drift apart over the space of one day. But it is also a film of almost regal beauty, with Antonioni pitching his protagonists against indifferent architecture. Vitti also brings a spark of vitality as the temptation and a night rain downpour effortlessly showcases the poetic lensing.

  10. F



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     C Minus


    Working from an ultra low budget and really only one location, director Roberts spins his tale well enough to hint at some promise for the future. He is undone by a lot of illogicality to his plot about hoodies attacking a school after hours that does not bear up to scrutiny, some less than stellar performances and a blown ending. But generally this Assault on the Local Comprehensive has enough menace and jolts to make John Carpenter proud.