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tigerthedog "tigerthedog2005" (Rochdale, UK)

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Shutter Island [DVD] (2010)
Shutter Island [DVD] (2010)
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.90

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good film, 9 Dec. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shutter Island [DVD] (2010) (DVD)
For me, the main selling point of Shutter Island was that it was directed by Martin Scoresese, who is responsible for some of the best pieces of cinema ever made. His impressive directorial portfolio includes Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino and the Oscar winning The Departed to name but a few, so I had high expectations for this psychological thriller.

I may as well say, straight off the bat, that Shutter Island is nowhere near as good as any of the films listed above.

But was it ever going to be? For what it's worth, Shutter Island was an enjoyable film. It was certainly entertaining, certainly something a bit different and Leonardo DiCaprio turns in an excellent performance. There is scary forbidding music to let you know when to jump, a sustained spooksome eerie atmosphere throughout and plenty of nail-biting set pieces to enjoy. In short, it is odd, it is bizarre and it is frustrating.

The plot is tried-and-tested good Hollywood fodder; an island that `You'll never leave', replete with scary windy forest, a chilling mental institution, an escaped murderous patient roaming free, the obligatory lighthouse and plenty of twists and turns that are effective, though arguably not half as clever as they think they are. For unfortunately the ending to the film starts screaming out at you from about half an hour in, and when the final sting in the tail is explained, it left me half-disappointed and half-satisfied. The unravelling was nicely done; I just wish the clues had been buried a bit deeper within the narrative. It tried to emulate the endings to classics such as The Usual Suspects or Fight Club, and it never quite gets there.

The film would perhaps have benefitted from a slightly truncated running time - at nearly two-and-a-half hours, it demands much from its audience in terms of commitment. I think the film would've been much slicker and tighter if several scenes from the middle of the film had been edited slightly. But, for all its faults, I'd still recommend this film - there isn't exactly a great amount of meat on the bone but what meat there is tastes perfectly decent.

Weekend [DVD] [2011]
Weekend [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Tom Cullen
Price: £5.99

36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Film of the Year, 8 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Weekend [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
(Dir. Andrew Haigh / 97 minutes)

I know, I know, gay man picks gay film as his best of the year; how predictable can you get? But this low-budget British independent film was so much more than an excuse to look at naked men (that was just an added bonus).

Weekend was something special and real and beautiful and managed to portray the genesis of a relationship with far more believability and far more heart than Hollywood has ever done. Sure, it's about homosexuals, but the themes covered here are very universal; falling in love, the notion of meeting somebody for the first time allowing you a blank canvas on which to project a version of yourself, the idea of getting stuck in your ways with a bunch of friends who drag you down and hold you back because they expect you to behave in a certain way. The film casts aside the all-too-familiar stereotypes, the clichés and the need to rant on about issues, and instead offered a simple story about a burgeoning relationship between two men, quiet, unassuming Russell (best name ever) and 'out' and proud Glen, who meet late on a Friday night in a gay club.

The development of their relationship, which takes place over the eponymous weekend, was played out with such refreshing ordinariness (the best parts of the film are the wonderful set-piece 'real time' scenes where the blokes are just chatting casually in the kitchen, drinking tea, talking about life). I look forward to the DVD release so I can enjoy it all over again. Funny, tender, real... superb.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 26, 2011 7:24 PM GMT

True Grit [DVD] (2010)
True Grit [DVD] (2010)
Dvd ~ Jeff Bridges
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.35

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Excellence, 8 Dec. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: True Grit [DVD] (2010) (DVD)
(dir Joel and Ethan Coen/111 minutes)

I loved this film and I am no Western fan. I couldn't tell you whether or not it compares favourably to the novel on which it is adapted or if it's as good as the original John Wayne version (I hear not?), but the Coen Brother's take on the Western is not to be missed. Hailee Steinfeld steals the show in her debut screen performance as determined fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross, a tough cookie possessing `true grit' as she seeks the aid of an appropriately grizzled (and utterly compelling) Jeff Bridges to avenge the murder of her father at the hands of his hired hand Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Matt Damon (you've gotta love a bit of Matt Damon) makes an impression as Texas Ranger LaBeouf (cool name), also hunting Chaney; Damon has made some real stinkers recently (The Adjustment Bureau, Hereafter, Contagion), but he is charismatic and engaging here. The film is surprisingly emotional in places (which was a pleasant surprise) and features some of the best dialogue I've seen (well, heard) in a film all year; just a shame some of Bridges' delivery requires subtitles at times. All the more reason to buy the DVD though! I'd recommend the Blu-ray, as the film is beautiful to look at. One of the best films of the year, easily.

127 Hours [DVD]
127 Hours [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Franco
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £2.25

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid., 8 Dec. 2011
This review is from: 127 Hours [DVD] (DVD)
127 Hours
(dir. Danny Boyle/94 minutes)

This film wasn't really my cup of tea - though I did slightly prefer it to Danny Boyle's Oscar winning turkey Slumdog Millionaire. I like the idea, and it had the potential to be something claustrophobic and terrifying and real (maybe I should read the book instead), but I was bored for the duration of the film. Just look at Touching the Void or Man on Wire to see how to turn an explorer's biography into a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat emotional experience. James Franco (who I don't like all that much as an actor) does an admirable job carrying the film (even if his character begins the film acting like a Wolf Creek-esque serial killer luring women into canyons and filming them jumping into rock pools). The hour-and-a-half-plus running time is predominantly just him trapped by a boulder (nothing else happens, be warned), though I do wonder if the film would have been more effective with a more charismatic leading man at the helm. At no stage did I feel or believe his pain - not when he's knocking back his own urine, not when he's sobbing into his video camera, even when he's sawing his own arm off (interesting story; somebody in the cinema fainted during this sequence and there were paramedics gathered in the foyer when I came out at the end). Well, I'm assuming they passed out because of that; I suppose it could have quite easily been down to boredom.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 15, 2011 1:04 AM GMT

Dvd ~ Conor McCarron
Price: £2.74

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Bad World, 8 Dec. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: NEDS [DVD] (DVD)
(dir Peter Mullan/124 minutes)

Neds is This is England if This is England had been called This is Scotland, with a generous dollop of Trainspotting added to the mix. The always impressive Peter Mullan writes angrily, directs angrily and stars angrily in a bleak, violent, gritty dissection of Glasgow's 1970s gang culture. John McGill (Conor McCarron) is our protagonist and we follow him from happy-go-lucky schooldays filled with potential, promise, prizes and the `right sort' of friends (the scenes detailing McGill's arrival at secondary school are, at times, very funny), but things quickly get unpleasant. Our hero is rejected by his best friend, tormented by his drunkard of a father and, perhaps justifiably, goes off the rails, following in the footsteps of his Non-Educated-Delinquent of a brother Benny who teaches him to fend for himself in a kill-or-be-killed world of bullies. I'm not sure if enjoyable is the word I'd use to describe Neds (I left the cinema craving cigarettes, beer and a lay down), but there's no denying it's power. I'm struggling to recall a recent film that I've seen that is so full of rage - and that's not a bad thing.

Catfish [DVD]
Catfish [DVD]
Dvd ~ Henry Joost
Price: £3.86

4.0 out of 5 stars Send Friend Request, 8 Dec. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Catfish [DVD] (DVD)
(dir Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman/86 minutes)

There's been quite a bit of controversy surrounding this alleged `documentary', with many claiming that it was elaborately staged by its stars. It feels authentic and never puts a foot wrong, though personally, I find the events that unfold in the film slightly difficult to accept as an accurate constitution of reality; everything seems just that little bit too coincidental to be true, and I agree with others (including Super Size Me nutcase Morgan Spurlock) who have noted that the film-makers started rolling the tape very early on, before anything suspicious or untoward had occurred. However, who cares? Fact or fiction, truth or false, this is a compelling, engaging, fascinating experience - like all the best documentaries there is a story here that twists, turns and shocks in equal measure. The story begins when professional photographer Nev is sent a painting of one of his photographs by an eight-year-old child prodigy. They subsequently establish a friendship on Facebook, which leads to Nev befriending her entire family and striking up a long distance romance with the singer/songwriter teenage daughter. However, without giving too much away, things aren't what they seem. What follows is certainly memorable...

The Fighter [DVD]
The Fighter [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mark Wahlberg
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.78

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films of 2011, 7 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: The Fighter [DVD] (DVD)
(dir. David O'Russell/115 minutes)

This is a very good film (and a true story) about brotherly love, dysfunctional families and boxing. Mark Wahlberg comes into some criticism (often justified), but he's on (for him) fine form here; playing professional boxer Micky "Irish" Ward, the sensible straight-man in the background that allows for a gloriously unrestrained Christian Bale to let rip and chew on some scenery as Ward's unpredictable drug-addicted half-brother and trainer. Bale, rightly, won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his (pun alert) knockout performance as Dicky Eklund (footage of the real Dicky shown over the end credits attests to how finely nuanced Bale's performance is). Melissa Leo also gives an Oscar-deserving performance as the matriarch from hell. Like all the best sports film, The Fighter isn't actually about sports (though maybe it's about time I watched Rocky). It's about people. Compelling stuff, but I'm not convinced the announced sequel is necessary.

Black Swan (DVD + Digital Copy) (2010)
Black Swan (DVD + Digital Copy) (2010)
Dvd ~ Natalie Portman
Price: £1.32

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, 7 Dec. 2011
(dir. Darren Aronofsky/108 minutes)

It's an odd film this one. I've seen it twice and the jury's still out. My stepdad described it as the worst film he'd seen since Thomas and the Magic Railroad, whereas my 72-year-old grandmother absolutely loved it. When I saw it at the cinema at the start of the year, I came away disappointed. There's a line about ten minutes in that completely exposes the ending - I leant across to the person I was with and whispered `That's how it ends', and sure enough, come the final scene, I was proved right. That doesn't happen very often, but it was screamingly obvious. Plus, the coda is almost identical to Aronofsky's 2008 film The Wrestler (a film I like but can't seem to love as much as everybody else); appropriate in the sense that the director designed Black Swan as a companion piece (wrestling to ballet; low art to high art), but less fitting in the sense that it left me feeling a bit cheated. However, I watched it for a second time in the wee small hours of the morning, slightly drunk and with a friend who was terrified by the whole experience. The film was significantly improved. It felt nastier, darker, more frightening, more visceral. The filming style adopted here is very effective; we're stalking Natalie Portman throughout, so close, breathing down her neck, which creates a palpable sense of unnerving claustrophobia. Plus, some of the imagery on display is downright disturbing and makes you jump on many occasions. The psychological thriller elements are juxtaposed imperiously with the beautiful grandiose ballet (not sure what it says about me but the dancing was the highlight of the film for me). I love the Swan Lake soundtrack too; composer Clint Mansell does wonderful, terrible things with Tchaikovsky's work. In short, a good, fluffy thriller, made great if watched at 3am when drunk.

The King's Speech [DVD]
The King's Speech [DVD]
Dvd ~ Colin Firth
Price: £2.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In the minority, 7 Dec. 2011
This review is from: The King's Speech [DVD] (DVD)
I think I'm in the minority with this one, aren't I? Still, I like being in the minority. Far more interesting. I'll hold my hands up and admit that I would have probably found this film much more appealing if a) it hadn't have been so ridiculously over-hyped and b) if it hadn't have starred granny-pin-up Colin Firth, one of the smuggest, smarmiest, most punchable actors in the business (though I hate to admit it, his performance as King George VI is impressive). This film cleaned up at the 2011 Academy Awards, winning four of the big five gongs (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Lead Actor and Best Screenplay). I was backing David Fincher's superior The Social Network. It ticked all the boxes, I suppose - true feel-good story (bah, I always was a curmudgeon), royalty, dramatic scandal, the War, a stuttering monarch. You can't go wrong, can you? And that's my biggest problem; it is entertaining, but nothing more. It does nothing new. It brings nothing different to the table. How Tom Hooper nabbed the Oscar from Fincher is beyond me... the direction is nothing noteworthy, nothing that wouldn't seem out of place in a Sunday night ITV period drama. Firth is good (well, as good as Firth can be), Helena Bonham Carter is, well, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush (typically, not awarded) steals the show as the eccentric speech therapist. Anyway, breathe, rant over... good film, but that's all.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 29, 2012 12:14 AM GMT

Another Year [DVD]
Another Year [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jim Broadbent
Price: £3.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More of the same from Mike Leigh, 7 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Another Year [DVD] (DVD)
(dir. Mike Leigh/129 minutes)

You can always rely on Mike Leigh for a laugh, can't you? The latest film from the King of the Kitchen Sink melodrama is a quiet, at times moving, slice of suburban family life. Even though you generally know what you're going to get, I have to be in the right frame of mind to watch a film from the mind of The Bringer of the Bleak (I vowed never to watch another of his films again after All or Nothing left me thoroughly miserable). But Another Year won me over, despite an ending that left me feeling as though all the joy in the world had been sucked out (in the best possible sense). It doesn't represent any new territory for its director, and it's certainly not exciting or fast-paced, but that only adds to the realism. The now famous improvisation technique that Leigh uses has never been more apparent, with the dialogue feeling naturalistic and conversational throughout. That's not really surprising considering it's in the hands of the always excellent Jim Broadbent. The star of the film, for me, was Lesley Manville as lost soul Mary, a truly devastating performance that should have won her an award or two. Ruth Sheen as the holier-than-thou sanctimonious wife really grated on me though; what a heartless cow!

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