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James M. (Ireland)

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Tell No-One (Ne Le Dis A Personne) [DVD]
Tell No-One (Ne Le Dis A Personne) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Marie-Josee Croze

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and invigorating take on the thriller genre., 15 Oct 2007
Tell No One really is quite an anomaly: a best-selling American thriller is converted into a film by a French director. While this may send some screaming away from the TV at just the thought of such a thing, it really shouldn't because this is a first-rate adaptation of the source material, a pulsating thriller that used the be a calling-card of Hollywood but that no longer seem to emerge from the US.

In terms of story, Tell No One boasts an intriguing premise: a man and his wife are brutally attacked while on picnic at a lake side. He emerges from a coma to find that his wife has been murdered and the killer apprehended. Eight years later, however, he receives anonymous emails that contain video footage of a woman who bears an extraordinary resemblance to his dead wife. From there, Canet, the director best know from his role in The Beach, crafts an energetic and tense thriller that flies along until its mildly disappointing finale that detracts somewhat from the quality that's gone before it.

Cluzet is excellent as Alex Beck, the husband of the dead wife. He perfectly encapsulates the overwhelmed and desperate mental condition of Alex, kept going by the hope that his wife might still be alive. Unlike most characters in thrillers, Beck is very much an everyman, and his attempts to find his wife, as the tightly wound plot closes in on him, is wonderfully judged by Cluzet.

Harlon Coben's original book is one in a long line ofhis books that has been begging to be converted into film form, but Tell No One is a fine attempt, despite the wait. If it ends on too a sentimental note then the rest of the film doesn't disappoint in its unrelentless excitement and complex plot. Highly recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 9, 2007 1:25 AM GMT

The Untouchables [DVD] [1987]
The Untouchables [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ Kevin Costner
Offered by Factory Shop Deals
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pulpy masterpiece., 15 Oct 2007
In the grand vanguard of the epic gangster movie, The Untouchables, Brian De Palma's 1987 reinvention of the `50s TV show, is never really mentioned in the same breath as such sprawling epics as The Godfather Part One and Two, Goodfellas or Once Upon A Time In America. Why is it so? There are many people, myself included, who think that this film is underrated, never receiving the platitudes that it deserves.

In comparison with other gangster films, The Untouchables is more concerned with the chronicling of the `good guys', led by Kevin Costner's Elliot Ness and backed up by Sean Connery and Andy Garcia, as they attempt to bring justice raining down upon the infamous Al Capone. It's set in 1930s, in the city of Chicago where prohibition is in full swing. Seeing an unmissable opportunity, Capone floods the city with alcohol, dispensing violent justice along the way. His would-be adversaries are clean-cut policemen, epitomised by Elliot Ness. There's no grey line in this film, and there's a very clear divide between Ness and Capone. Ness is shown as a dutiful, honest cop and a loving father and husband. His unrelenting devotion to binging Capone down is highlighted in the scene where a Capone croonie attempts to bribe Ness and his group of righteous cops, before being unceremoniously being kicked out. They are, as the smarmy grunt puts it, `untouchable'.

It's this unambiguousness in the detailing of the tale, focusing very closely on the simple, old-fashioned template of good versus evil, that may disconcert viewers. There's no room for moral uncertainties; just the quest to bring evil to its knees. And in this straightforward telling of an un-complex tale, The Untouchables is excellent. Disregarding any pretensions of grandeur, De Palma crafted a pulsating, hugely enjoyable crime movie, a combination of Indiana Jones and The Godfather. Almost everything is beautifully honed in this film. The performances are uniformly excellent and if Costner is somewhat bland then Connery more than makes up for it with a wonderfully engaging performace as the sagacious Malone. The script by David Mamet is razor-sharp, packed full of brilliant lines (most bagged by Connery) that will have you quoting long after everyone's stopped listening to you. "He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He puts one of yours in the hospital, you put on if his in the morgue. That's the Chicago way."; "Here endeth the lesson."; "Isn't that just like a wop? Brings a knife to a gunfight."

Technically the film is less showy that some De Palma's other work, but it's a beautiful-looking film, with brilliantly orchestrated set-pieces (including the famous Odessa Steps homage) and a eerily thrilling Morricone score. It's not all perfect, however, De Niro's character being its biggest failing and perhaps the reason that this film is never quite regarded as a cult classic. It's not quite De Niro's fault, more the lack of screentime the character is given. Bare a couple of compelling scenes that hint at Capone's derangement, we never quite see just how evil is and therefore the quest to bring him down is not quite as intense as it otherwise could have been. You have to give De Niro credit for once again going way beyond the call of duty to capture Capone but it's a shame he's so underdeveloped.

This is still fiver-star entertainment, in the truest sense. The movie never flags, delivering set-piece upon set-piece until the pounding conclusion. It's a pulpy, fun, uninhibited masterpiece, one that seeks to excite and please and does so unfalteringly.

Hot Fuzz (2 Disc Special Edition) With Limited Edition Artcards (Exclusive to [DVD] [2007]
Hot Fuzz (2 Disc Special Edition) With Limited Edition Artcards (Exclusive to [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Simon Pegg
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better suited to DVD and funnier second time round, 9 Jun 2007
When Shaun of the Dead sauntered into cinemas, it was approached by many people with a sense of mild optimism, hoping that the film would be good, but not expecting the world. Therefore, when the film turned out to be one of the funniest British comedies ever made, the expectation levels for Edgar Wright's and Shaun Pegg's follow-up were through the roof. Hot Fuzz, it's fair to say, left many people disappointed as it failed to live up to the lofty heights that the team had previously scaled, but the comparisons to Shaun... are unreasonably - what could live up to that film?

But as a standalone film, and after watching it again on DVD, the appeal of Hot Fuzz is much more apparent. For one thing, Shaun Pegg and Nick Frost clearly have excellent chemistry and Frost's small town bumbling cop becomes the perfect foil for Pegg's ultra-efficient London officer. By making Nicholas Angel the strict and efficient type with hardly any laughs emanating from him, it allows Frost to run away with the film, producing practically all the funniest gags, which there are plenty of.

The first hour is vintage stuff from the team: packed full of laugh-out-loud moments, neat and abundant film nods, and brilliant and preposterous characters. The scene with the swan is just hilarious. It's from this point on, however, that Hot Fuzz loses it aim somewhat. Caught between becoming a parody of action movies and an attempt to make a decent action-packed climax, it just never quite feels right. While Wright clearly revels in the action set-pieces, it seems uncomfortably ambiguous as to what they are trying to do. It's unfortunate, as at the start it seems as if the film is powering towards five-star reviews aplenty. Instead it's a very good four.

A special mention has to go for the brilliant cast - a who's who of British cinema. In particular, Timothy Dalton hams it up brilliantly as the villain-in-chief.

But, for me, the real reason to get this DVD is not just that the film seems much more suited to the small-screen but the tremendous extra features, which is one of the best DVDs that I have bought yet.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley  (Two Disc Special Edition) [DVD]
The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Two Disc Special Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Cillian Murphy

12 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful., 4 April 2007
There's an old saying that if you want to see where you're country is heading you need to look to the past. 200 years on from the British abolition of slavery, Ken Loach's film seems relevant in many ways. The film isn't perfect - Loach takes some liberties with some events (the area in Cork where the film is set, for example, is an amalgamation of other areas around the south of Ireland, and so too is Murphy's character), some of the depictions of British soldiers are less than subtle, and the film isn't without its clichés. But the fact remains that this is powerful and pertinent film-making. Even if Loach won't admit it, it is hard not to see this movie as a political allegory and critique on the war in Iraq. Oppressive British forces, rebellious freedom fighters, civil wars: all these are very much similar to the current state in Iraq.

Aside from that though, the film is impressive as it showcases two great Irish talents - Cilian Murphy and Padraic Delaney. Ireland may not exactly be a prosperous film-making country but we still manage to produce quality actors, from Peter O'Toole to Stephen Rea. Murphy, in particular, is excellent, once again highlighting why he is one of the best young actors around.

Hidden (cache) [DVD]
Hidden (cache) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Auteuil
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.18

9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haneke's disconcerting masterpiece., 3 April 2007
This review is from: Hidden (cache) [DVD] (DVD)
Michael Haneke's chillingly ambiguous thriller is one of the finest films of the last two years, so it sent a shudder down my spine when I heard the news that Ron Howard - last seen directing that car crash of a film, the Da Vinci Code - would be remaking Hidden for Hollywood. Why is this so bad? For one thing, Hidden is the antithesis of the archetypal Hollywood thriller: there are no easy answers in Haneke's film and it slowly permeates in to your mind days after you've seen it. American audiences, in the majority, don't like to feel uncomfortable in a cinema, and Hidden certainly asks some disconcerting questions about modern-day society and the insidious racism therein.

Whatever you're opinion on the political allegory in the film, they're can be no arguing that its tale of French guilt over their colonial history is unequivocally pertinent in French society today. Premiering at the beginning of October 2005, the film eerily preceded the Paris riots by a matter of a couple of weeks, therefore adding the film an added relevance. Much like LA Haine before it and, to some extent, District 13, Hidden jarringly portrayed a society on a tipping point, where the deprived and forgotten inhabitants of the `banlieus' were constantly ignored by the bourgeois French middle-class society.

As highlighted by recent riots in underground train stations in France, the underlying frustration and hate of a destitute youth is still very much prevalent, and Hidden captures that despondency well. But the film also works excellently as a thriller, with its unsettling camera work and slow-burning, intriguing plot. The static camerawork and dull monochrome colours, as well as the unsettling lack of a score, all combine to create a cold, detached style of film. It is also aided by subtle yet excellent performances at its core by Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche.

Many have criticised the ending for being too ambiguous and unclear, but, for me, it feel like a natural conclusion to a film that aims to prove that there are no easy answers, particularly regarding French's role in colonization and the subsequent horrors that followed.

Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan [2006] [DVD]
Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sacha Baron Cohen
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.70

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Edgy and daring comedy at its best., 28 Feb 2007
While Borat may not appeal to everyone, those who enjoyed it were witnessed to one of the funniest, daring, edgy and revealing comedies of the last few years.

For many people Sacha Baron Cohen's character Ali G quickly became tedious, and it was clearly evident that the best thing about his show was the character of Borat. Taking this very character and ironing out any kinks in the comic armour, partly achieved by staying in character throughout the shoot, Cohen transported Borat to the US and achieved hilarious results.

As a character Borat is wonderfully managed. Everything about his demeanor and posture, his stilted accent and the inviting, toothy grin that he regularly beams out, portray him as an innocent tourist and inviting the targeted people in to a false sense of security.

And it his interaction with the people he meets that is, in turn, hilarious yet deeply disturbing. Whatever you may think of racist remarks made by Borat - and they are certainly close to the knuckle - nothing compares to the frightening behaviour and racism of the ordinary people that Borat encounters. The meeting with the frankly scary man at the rodeo is the best example. Cohen, giving the person enough rope for him to hang himself with, wisely says nothing as the man dishes out racial abuse that is quite shocking, only talking when, asked if he is a Muslim, replies that `in Kazakhstan we worship the Hawk'. Cohen maybe brave as hell but even he wasn't brave enough to interfere.

And that's what contributed to the success of the film. Cohen was remarkably ballsy in shooting this film. At the aforementioned rodeo, he caused a near-riot, while the police were called on him 91 times during shooting, and he was also physically attacked while in character after the film released. In the end, Borat is a worrying portrayal of modern-day prejudices of parts of American, but it is, at its nub, a hugely funny and entertaining film from a great comic.

The Departed (2006) [DVD]
The Departed (2006) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jack Nicholson
Price: £3.65

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterclass in genre film-making from a master director., 28 Feb 2007
This review is from: The Departed (2006) [DVD] (DVD)
While Infernal Affairs, the original film on which this is based, is arguably just about the better film, there is much here to be recommended.

First of all, Scorsese hasn't made a film with this much confidence or bravado since Goodfellas. With a near pitch-perfect cast, an intriguing story - Scorsese has joked that this is his first film with a plot - and the usual Scorsese trademarks of sudden and brutal violence, copious amounts of swearing, anthropological examinations and a great soundtrack, and you've got a great film that deservedly won it's director an Oscar in what was a poor year all round for film.

Perhaps the main caveat of this film is that the characters personal struggles with identity and redemption don't quite get the same analysis that the original provided. But this is a direct consequence of the intensity and speed of this film, helped to keep its quick and intricate pace by brilliant editing by another Scorsese stalwart, Thelma Schoonmaker, another deserving Oscar winner. But the film remains remarkably slick and intense, less glossy than the original but, at times, even more striking - the elevator sequence towards the end is one of the tensest scenes in film last year. Michael Ballhaus' camerwork is also to be commended.

Another year and The Departed probably wouldn't have won Best Picture at the Kodak Theatre. As it is, it is a deserving winner, helped by the fact that the contenders were mainly overrated - Babel in particular - but also because it is a great example of genre filmmaking - a genre that is now synonymous with Martin Scorsese.

Raging Bull : Ultimate Edition (1980) [DVD]
Raging Bull : Ultimate Edition (1980) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert De Niro
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: £9.92

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scorsese's Creative Peak -- A brutal, visceral classic, 18 Dec 2006
While Raging Bull is the best boxing film ever put to celluloid, it is not really a film about boxing. Instead, we get a biopic of the man, a chance for Scorese to examine his own issues of Catholic guilt -- a recurring issue in his films. Having been seriously addicted to cocaine prior to making this movie, it is also a chance for Scorsese to look at the self destruction he caused to himself by examining the rise and fall story of Jake La Motta.

Consdiering Scorsese thought this could be his last film, he put his all into making it, and it shows. Creatively this is his zenith, with his mesmerising black-and-white style and the brutal yet almost grandiose fight scenes.

If Scorsese is at his best in this movie, it can be argued that so too is De Niro. Famously pilling on pounds to play the overweight La Motta, he took his Method acting genuis to spectacular heights. Joe Pesci is superb also, another actor on top of his game in probably his best role, with Moriaty also superb as La Motta's long-suffering wife.

While De Niro got an Oscar, Scorsese was criminally ignored for the film he most deserved one. This is him at his best, though, producing a raw, brutal, visceral tale of a pugilist at war with himself that is difficult to watch yet hugely rewarding. But, alas, as with alot of film classics, they are not recognised upon release for what they are. Raging Bull is no different, widely regarded now as a modern classic, yet upon its release it lost out on the Best Picture Oscar to Ordinary People. Criminal.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Extended Edition Box Set) [DVD]
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Extended Edition Box Set) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Elijah Wood
Price: £19.25

52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful., 18 Dec 2006
To think that after only five years since its release, the quality of the Lord of the Rings is already beyond debate. The word masterpiece is a word that is bandied about too loosely in almost every form of entertainment, and film is no exclusion. If there are only a handful of modern masterpieces in the last few years, then surely the Lord of the Rings is among them.

Taking a cast that is a mixture of experienced thespians - Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Vigo Mortensen, Cate Blanchett - and talented youngsters - Elijah Wood, Sean Astin and Orlando Bloom to name but a few - the director, Peter Jackson, has crafted a brilliant movie that matches the novel for its sheer epic size and its sprawling storyline.

Taking his idyllic homeland of New Zealand, Jackson managed to bring the world of the books onto our screens, without resorting wholly to CGI. The vast, beautiful countryside that populates New Zealand is so spectacular that you may well question whether it even exists, but it does and Jackson knew this and brought the world of Tolkien to life where others have failed.

This is an excellent DVD that is abundant with extras, but the real pleasure is in allowing the movie to stretch out and breathe in one continuous sitting, which stretches to over 13 hours.

If you are knew to the world of Tolkien, or just coming back for more, you'll be delighted with this box-set. Not only has Jackson created an epic film, he has also put loving care into this box-set to the extent that you wish all directors could be like him.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 27, 2008 9:59 AM GMT

L.A. Confidential [1997] [DVD]
L.A. Confidential [1997] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kevin Spacey
Price: £5.59

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic., 13 Dec 2006
When you consider how notoriously touchy writers are about their work, it says a lot about this film that the author, James Ellroy, was suitably impressed with the film conversion. Taking one of the finest crime novels ever and condensing it successfully into a film script was an unenviable task when you consider the complex, dense plot and myriad of details that lies inside the book, but somehow the writers managed just that.

L.A. Confidential really is a modern classic. So many films claim to be film noirs but this film really is. Nearly everything is perfected to a tee. The acting is near perfect from all around, with Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger and Russell Crowe superb in particular. The story is beautifully complex, yet never too heavy. 1950's L.A. is superbly realised, too. My only real gripe is with the character Ed Exely. While he remains a cop who will put his chances of promotion ahead of nearly everything, he is eventually portrayed as the good guy. In the novel, though, he is much more morally ambivalent, which is never quite achieved in the film. That is no criticism of Guy Pearce who is excellent throughout.

This film is a near masterpiece, where everything neatly falls into place to create a truly mesmerising film.

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