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The Story Of Film: An Odyssey (5 Discs)
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The Story Of Film. 15 parts at over an hour a time to explain Mark Cousin's view on what makes film through the ages. Well in the end he can KEEP IT! This was nothing more than an self-indulgent exercise in glorifying his view of film without any real or significant detached view point.
He failed to look at the Epics, Science Fiction, Horror or Romantic Comedies, or any of the interesting or major technical innovations beyond those involving camera work and direction, even though he insisted throughout that his programme was about little else.
He did spend an inordinate amount of screen time discussing, for example a film about a near naked make, climbing a tower and entering a portal into some sort of Zen chamber with a naked chick, a tiger and a religious guru, who explains that if he defecates into a bowl it will turn to gold, with many a deep implication! Where was The Empire Strikes Back? The brilliant adaptation of from book to screen of Lord Of The Rings or Harry Potter? Writing seemed to be overlooked as well as almost everything else.
The series ended up just focussing on his favourite films from around the world with a few nods to the mainstream to keep us happy, well it didn't! In 15 hours I would have expected a detailed and broad history of film from the early innovations, which were covered well in the early episodes, to the major developments and failures such as the many widescreen formats including the epic Cinerama and the successful Imax, 3D fads and the innovations in sound.
I ended up treating this as a film class but as it went on I found my interest was almost destroyed by his teadious tone and ever increasingly boring and indulgent subjects. And all this was summed up with the epilogue, the future of film and the seemingly random year of 2046.
He begins top postulate the future of film which seems to only have two options according the great Mark Cousins. One is that we will dream films...? Well that was I got from his shoe horning of Inception into it, whilst ignoring Christopher Nolan's greater works, such as Memento and The Dark Knight. The other was that film will be banned and we will have to remember them until such time as they are viewed again...
Okay thanks for that up beat hypothesis though I feel that there is little reason to postulate that the future of film is doomed any more that it isn't. I have honestly NEVER seen a worse and more disturbingly pointless film documentary and the final rating of 2/10 is only so high due to the few early episodes that offered some interesting insight and hope for a decent series but in the end it became such a disappointment, that I would, given the freedom to ignore these early pluses, have given this 1/10 without a doubt.
RUBBISH and AVOID!
Bambi: Diamond Edition - Double Play (With Exclusive Pairs Game) (2 Discs)
I'm sure that in the mid 1980's, I saw Bambi at a Stockport cinema with my mum, but this may well have been a dream. Either way, I can't remember for it sure, and that may well be the point. Is this a memorable film?
It's a classic, it's rated number third in the AFI's 'classic' category, but is it any good? Average is about right and this was by the far the weakest Disney film that I have seen so far. This was a short subject stretch to the point of tedium with a 70 minute running time, which was 60 minutes too long.
The story, if there was one, was simply to follow Bambi, a white-tailed deer, from birth, through the seasons of the forest, and eventual mating and procreation. But 'Man' was the villain here, whether it be starting fires or shooting key characters, this was a very effective attempt to anthropomorphise the forest's population as they fight to survive the hunter, or 'The Great American Sportsman' as they like to call themselves.
This movie was effective enough to prompt criticism from hunters who felt that they got a raw deal. I'm sure that many would agree that the scene where young Bambi is chomping the first spring grass in meadow with him mother is unjustifiably cruel to the hunters, but I'll leave that up to you!
Man is portrayed badly in this film and rightly so, but to achieve this, the anthropomorphism is turned up to eleven, with the cutesy animals all living in harmony together as the seasons change. I do feel that we've seen this before in many a short and that this does go on somewhat.
The opening three and half minutes consists of the credits and a long, long, long panning shot of the forest, multi-plane Technicolor in all it's glory, but it is boring, I'm sorry, but it is. It's beautifully shot, designed and animated with a story which is a great anti-hunting propaganda piece, but that's about it.
This is no Dumbo, Pinocchio or Snow White and it's not even Beauty And The Beast, which isn't one of my favourites, though many would disagree. This is a disappointment and just soft by today's standards.
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This was Cameron Crowe's, of Vanilla Sky fame, 2005 Indie feature, starring a dull and ponderous Orlando Bloom, and the ever zany and supposedly meaningful Kirsten Dunst. There was some interest here but nothing to write home about with a plot which was pushing the boundaries of the whole suspension of disbelief thing to its limits.
The film follows Bloom as he must return home to deal with his father's sudden death. The towns folk loved him and he goes through the usual life affirming metamorphosis that you might expect in a movie where the lead character is about to kill himself within the first act.
He meets Dunst on the way and she helps him in all the obvious ways to come to terms with his life and eventually, his loves.
Ludicrous at times, and never as engaging as it could, should have been, I was left with sense of disappointment. Though saying that, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't particularly good either.
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I can remember first hearing about this early in 2010, and was unsure as what to expect. On one hand this could have been a nasty hate film, mocking the wave of Muslim extremism which is taking a firm hold in this country, merely for the entertainment value, or this could be one of the important satires on the subject to date.
It was by far, without a shadow of doubt, the latter. Four Lions follows five amateur, lackluster Muslims from Sheffield who all believe that they are a primed terror cell on the frontline of the war against the infidels. Unfortunately for them, they are bunglers, whilst achieving the ability to create explosives, they have failed to control how and when it explodes!
The plot culminates with an attempt to attack the London Marathon but it is a long road, taking our protagonists to the terror camps of Pakistan, and the town halls of Sheffield. This film is written and directed so expertly, it is literally frightening.
Morris and his pitch perfect cast deliver a film which so perfectly walks the razor wire tightrope between comedy and tragedy that every laugh is tinged with sadness or pity and every dark moment, seemingly comedic.
Is this a comedy? Decidedly not, but is this funny, and intentionally so? Yes. It's almost as if the laughs are out of sheer relief, as moments which should shock are delivered or followed up by some of the most profoundly realistic and yet ridiculous conversions.
The Lion King explanation for the war against the west; The almost horrifically callous 'Honey Monster' exchange as a police sniper may well have just shot an innocent civilian will stick in your mind. Let alone more simple humour, such as the eating of the sim cards to prevent tracking, which resembled the Catholic method of taking of the bread at mass.
But this was also about grooming: Grooming the audience to sympathise with a terror cell plotting in our midst was genius, whist having to watch the various methods employed within the group itself, leading to some of the films most poignant and tragic moments.
The disenfranchised Muslim population of this country have been captured so well, though portrayed on one hand as been dimwitted 'wanna-be terrorists', but on the other as real people, miss led with some of the most ridiculous concepts designed to reduce their lives to that of mediocrity in order to convince them to take so many others. This is a sympathetic peace movie in a time of great confusion and conflict.
Until now, United 93 was the film which had most summed up the dark times in which we live, following 9/11, but this is at least on par with it and is a great addition to a long and significant catalogue of topical anti-establishment films, such as M.A.S.H. and Dr. Strangelove.
Not just highly recommended, but a MUST SEE!
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No-one was more surprised than I, as to how much I liked this film. I was expecting a bastardised version of French pre-revolutionary history, but instead was treated to a truly fascinating, though contemporised view of the period and subject.
Historically accurate? Well, more than you might think. As with all subjects such as this, there are always debates but this to my understanding is somewhat accurate and can be taken as seriously as those films who claim to add gritty realism to fictitious stories such a Robin Hood!
More enjoyable than it looks and I found, more mature than it acts, this is a mildly subversive prose. I would recommend this, even for those like myself, who do not always go for these sort of chick flicks...
A chilling portrayal of life after a nuclear attack, and a somewhat realistic view of the build up too. Obviously a product of its time in tone a production values but well put together and presented never the less.
The imagery showed here will certainly stick with me, even though this was set and produced in 1984. One of the best Nuclear Holocaust films that I have seen...
Piranha (3D & 2D)
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This film knew what it was from get go. It was never trying to be a best picture contender and trust me, it never would be! It was good fun, gruesome but not ion a nasty way, with it's tongue firmly in it's cheek.
The 3D was okay, though the Anaglyth 3D transfer which we saw was first rate, the effect just wasn't anything special. I suppose the novelty is wearing thin...
Entertaining, both visually and narratively. Recommended.
Metropolis (1927) - Special Edition (2 Discs)
This is groundbreaking cinema at its best. Pioneering visual effects, grand scope and a fantastic orchestral score, this is truly the birth of epic sci fi on the pearl screen.
Decades ahead of Forbidden Planet, 2001 and Star Wars, the only failing which this film has, is that the story is almost too simple compared to its production design and epic scale, but since this is a silent movie, there will always be a trade off.
But as a visual treat, this stands tall, along with the a fore mentioned Sci Fi flicks and every major epic to have been shot before or since. Truly cinema at its best...
Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time - Double Play
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From the "team" that brought us "Pirates Of The Caribbean", comes this rather lacking and somewhat boring effort. The trailer said it all, but I dared to hope for more, but in fact got even less.
The acting is up there with some of the worst and most wooden that I have ever seen, with the plot and even the scenery chewing the scenery! I wanted very much to say that Alfred Molina's performance as the Ostrich racing bandit was a saving grace but even this could do very little to help.
Overall, the "good" elements of this film, such as the music, effects and production design, all fail to truly impress, as they are all standard fare, with little to offer in the way inspiration.
But with the screenplay, direction and what can laughably be referred to as acting, with the less said about Gyllenhaal's English accent, strange for a Persian might I add, and even less said about Ben Kingsley's hammiest of hammy performances, this is a film dragged to deepest depths of failure.
"Pirates Of The Caribbean" had something, even at its worst that this doesn't, and that was chemistry. This was AWOL in this film, and the final point that I MUST make is in the form of a question, rhetorical or not I'll leave open to interpretation: Why, oh why, is Gemma Arterton continually being cast in films, let alone major blockbusters?
There's alot wrong with is film and visuals aren't the half of it, though the constant and often erratic camera movement doesn't help, but casting and character direction was at the forefront.
A comment regarding the computer to movie adaptation: There were certainly signs of its gaming roots, but these flourishes worked well enough, paying homage to the huge jumps and action cues which are common place in the genre. They was in many ways were the film's artistic integrity lies.
If a sequel is forthcoming and I PRAY not, then casting, if not recasting needs some serious consideration, as does removing Mike Newell from behind the camera.