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A Field In England [DVD]
A Field In England [DVD]
Dvd ~ Julian Barratt
Price: 7.80

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious, but great, 19 July 2013
This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
Set against a backdrop of the English Civil War, this black and white offering is not your typical 17th Century period drama. In fact only the costumes and the atmospheric soundtrack places it in that era. The dialogue does indicate Old-English, but this is interspersed with modern phrases to make it purposefully less historically accurate so to appeal and be relevant to today's viewers.

After deserting the war our merry band of men are being led by the promise of ale, food and women. They settle down to feast on a broth of fresh mushrooms picked from the field they are trudging through, as expected this is where things get a little bizarre. The men observe a well crafted wooden stake and all pull on a rope to eventually reveal our fifth companion. He uses the others to find treasure in the field in a very odd tent screaming shot followed by an equally as odd, but very cinematic slow motion sequence, leading to finding the treasure which is just as peculiar. The final third of the film goes off the deep end and gives the end of 2001 a run-for-its-money.

This could be classed as a pretentious arthouse flick with the strange visuals and nonsensical script. However, it doesn't take itself too seriously, it's full of throwaway gags and toilet humour, but can then launch into graphic violence.

On another level we see that the group only succeeds when they work together, they need each other to survive. We have a mean leader who forces the others to do his bidding by punishment or the promise of something better, quite literally the downtrodden working for 'the man' . There is class-struggle to overthrow this leader and his downfall, but also the fear of running away from responsibilities and growing as an individual. Or maybe this is reading too much into it!

Either way, characters are quickly developed as each man plays a particular role in the group. The story almost seems secondary to these characters, the relationships between them and the films 'feel'. The mood is controlled by not only the score but the subtleties in each character, there is an emotional response to each on-screen presence, all credit to the actors and director for this.

This won't appeal to everyone, but if you like arty nonsense films that are, rambling, seedy, trippy and on the whole pointless, this may be for you.

Upstream Color [DVD] [2013] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Upstream Color [DVD] [2013] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Shane Carruth
Price: 10.85

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty, but a beast, 27 Jun 2013
This is the second film from director/writer/actor/producer/editor/composer Shane Carruth, his first film being Primer which has become a cult classic amongst hardcore sci-fi fans. Both films treat the audience as adults, they give enough detail about the characters and story to allow the viewer to piece everything together without spelling it out. At no point do our characters explain everything to the viewers, they show, not tell.

The film starts with the hunt for worms in the soil of blue orchids, after finding the right worm this is used to 'drug' our main character Kris in a nightclub. The worm places Kris under a 'spell' where 'The Thief' makes her empty her bank accounts and hand over the cash. To keep her busy The Thief makes Kris carry out pointless tasks like writing out pages of Thoreau's "Walden" and making them into paper-chains. Once The Thief has his money Kris is abandoned by the side of a road. Kris finds 'The Sampler' who removes the worm from her body into that of a pigs. From here Kris starts to rebuild her life as she has no money and lost her job, this is where she meets Jeff. We learn these two being drawn together is no accident as they both try and make sense of their actions and break the orchid/worm/pig cycle.

The whole experience is like a lucid dream, created by the shallow depth of field and close-ups in most character shots. The atmosphere is created by layers of sound, the pulsing score is noticeable throughout the film, other sounds we generally class as background noise are brought to the foreground and used to create natural rhythms. Some of the key points in the film are actually highlighted by the lack of sound where you stop drifting and take note. The use of layers also exist in the story, the interaction with nature plays a large part, so does the text from Walden which pulls on the ideas of spirit and transcendentalism. This is also seen in the characters who become stripped of personality and emotion, and need each other to rebuild themselves above where they were before. Along with this are the concepts of privacy, intimacy, memory and individuality, what is it that makes us human and different to others. One of the most touching scenes is when our couple are sharing memories and not knowing whose memory is whose.

Each performance matches the subtle, delicate and rolling style of the film, the dialogue is sparse in places where we can concentrate solely on the imagery and score. This is very much a piece of art. I look forward to Carruth's future work.

Utopia [DVD]
Utopia [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alexandra Roach
Price: 8.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Best thing since Lost, 28 Mar 2013
This review is from: Utopia [DVD] (DVD)
Utopia's bleak tone is sharp, unrepenting and well crafted, a real nugget for a Channel 4 mini-series. It has a unique visual style with slightly over saturated colours and Kubrick-esq dead-on middle of the frame one-point perspective shots, all which add to its unsettling nature.

The plot unpeels throughout the six episodes, in true 'Lost' style more and more is revealed each time building on what has gone before. The story revolves around a graphic novel, some dodgy Russians, a secret organisation, some flu outbreak and a mad scientist to boot.

The casting is superb, each character has depth, backstory and usually some hidden agenda to keep you guessing. Arby (Neil Maskell) is brilliant, despite the role he plays there is something darkly comical and somewhat sad about him, he treads that fine line and just makes it work.

This is quite simply one of the best things I've watched in a long time, probably since the end of Lost season 5, oh and maybe Sherlock.

God Bless America (2011) [DVD]
God Bless America (2011) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joel Murray
Price: 6.24

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch it!, 4 Jan 2013
It's another Bonnie & Clyde on from Natural Born Killers, something for the X Factor generation. It splashes in the sea of black comedy but is self aware enough to not drown in its own irony.

The Dark Knight Rises (DVD + UV Copy) [2012]
The Dark Knight Rises (DVD + UV Copy) [2012]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Price: 4.20

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected more, 4 Jan 2013
*** Contains spoilers *** Contains spoilers *** Contains spoilers ***

I liked the themes involved in the film: rich vs poor, terrorism, hope, loss, symbols, heroes, getting old, usefulness and fwends (yep even Batman needs them because he won't shoot anyone - oh apart from that bit at the end, but I guess rockets don't count as shooting, but by that stage the film is ending and anything goes). Some of these themes were well executed, others, um, not.

There was a great deal of scene setting at the start. We established the mood of the city, what had happened in the previous years and what Bats has been doing in that time (not a lot). Although this was drawn out, it was necessary to set the tempo for a slow steady climax.

There were large sections at the beginning and in the middle where there was no Batman. I understand in order to rise (hence the title) he has to fall, but when watching a Batman film I actually want to see Batman. The film seemed to be about both Batman and Bruce Wayne, in essence these are two different entities which are handled well. However, the Bruce bits did drag and slow the film down, and in all honesty I wanted to crack on with some Batman screen time (that's what I paid for).

Bane was a good character but became predictable and annoying. Oh look Bane is on screen with some red shirt, wonder what's going to happen, again. Christian Bale is rapidly becoming the next Keanu Reeves - stand him in the corner and cover him with leaves. I appreciate that Batman is a singularly focuses character, most superheros are (and expected to be - just kick some ass and spare the children). But Christian trying to get all emotional about things didn't `do it' for me (move on). Luckily we had Catwoman who introduced some life and vibrancy. You never know whose side she's on and which way she'll turn (although you do really).

I appreciate the plot in these superhero movies can be convoluted, but purlease! All the people in Gotham are free, but still controlled by Bane's thugs? Um, am I missing something? How easy is it to turn a reactor into a nuke? Two minutes? Who designed this thing? Where is this pit meant to be? How long did it take Bruce to get back to Gotham? He's Batman, not Superman. Bat armour that is bullet proof but not knife proof? How did Fox analyse the flying bat thing after it had been blown up by a Nuke? Oh, there was more than one, so why didn't Bane's crew fly one around? It was hidden in another secret place - oh, how convenient. Let's all stare at the mushroom cloud and not shelter from the radiation

All this aside one of the biggest things was no gadgets, where are the gadgets? Batman is all about the cool gadgets - unforgivable.

Total Recall (DVD + UV Copy) [2012]
Total Recall (DVD + UV Copy) [2012]
Dvd ~ Colin Farrell
Price: 4.00

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually not bad, 4 Jan 2013
As with most remakes I expected to be disappointed (except for the truly amazing Dawn Of The Dead remake which is very close to being even better than the also amazing original DOTD), then again I expect to be disappointed by most Hollywood output whether this is a remake or the rare "original". I'm a fan of the original Arnie action caper which is why I didn't hold out much hope for this, but the more I watched the more I grew into it and accepted it for its own merits. The first thing that captured me is that it's visually stunning, you get a real sense of this futuristic world without spotting where hand-built sets meet CGI, long gone are the days of annoying cartoon rabbits jumping around in cartoon worlds with equally annoying cartoon robots (roger, roger). The amount of detail is immense where everything is dense and has substance like it belongs there.

Colin Farrell makes a better Arnie (no one-liners!) and Kate Beckinsale is a tougher and more relentless Sharon Stone (given a choice it would have to be Kate - sorry Shaz).

I get the impression the script was written by someone who liked the original film. For fans of the 1990 version there are a few nods to some of the more memorable parts. In addition to the source material there is enough to keep sci-fi fanboys happy as some scenes and references are lifted directly from Blade Runner, Star Wars and Minority Report. This is in no way a bad thing. I've always felt the Total Recall and Blade Runner stories could be part of the same universe, especially with themes of over-population and off-world colonies.

The action is gritty and believable enough (ala Bourne) without being too OTT (ala Transformers). The basic story is pretty much the same as the original so some of the twists don't have the same impact as before, but makes good use of similar plot devices. This is a Hollywood film so plot holes are mandatory, but these don't detract *too much* from the films enjoyment. The one thing that let me down was the last ten minutes. It ended the same way all action films have been ending since I've been watching action films and even before that. It was box ticking at best, since the film impressed me I expected a little more considering how the original ended. So apart from the end a worthy watch without anything too taxing.

*** spoilers *** rant *** spoilers *** rant ***

What happened to Mars? Surely this was a major part of the original. I was waiting the entire film for Mars and it never happened. Instead of Mars we had a big drill (The Fall) which represented oppression. To me this is like SW:TPM and their tax disputes.

How long does this thing take to go through the centre of the Earth? It must be pretty quick (I guess someone somewhere has done the maths). OK, this is the future so I can accept that this is possible. However, can our heroes really crawl outside without being sucked into oblivion. This was certainly a 'what the?!' moment.

We had the 'let's tell everyone the plot' trope which gets old, there must be a better way to do this - writers, please! Unless they made a point of doing it because of what it was.

We didn't get a sense that the populous was in danger as we never met anyone other than the main characters. The original made you care about the mutants on Mars, "they turned off the air". We actually felt sorry for the freaky mutant girl with the forlorn look and melting face. It's what Arnie was fighting for.

The ending! No Mars, no mutants, no aliens, no ice core. The original ending was very grand, if you're not making the original ending, then make it better! Blowing up a drill is a bit lackluster in comparison to, melting an ice core, almost turning Arnie and Shaz into mutants and terraforming an entire planet.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2013 11:43 AM GMT

Seven Psychopaths [Blu-ray] [2012] [US Import]
Seven Psychopaths [Blu-ray] [2012] [US Import]
Dvd ~ Colin Farrell
Offered by Moref Designs
Price: 17.07

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, but not as expected, 28 Dec 2012
Marty is trying to write a screenplay called 'Seven Psychopaths'. He is helped by his 'friends' who turn out to be actual psychopaths which Marty slowly discovers as the film progresses. Each character has their own ideas on how the screenplay should read, to the point of acting out the scenes to make their point. Some of his psychopath friends kidnap dogs and return them a few days later for the reward, unfortunately one of the kidnapped dogs happens to belong to Charlie (yet another psychopath) who is prepared to do anything to get back his beloved Shih Tzu.

The film is essentially a comedy crime caper, but it avoids the stereotypes and doesn't play out quite as expected. I imagined some over-the-top-ness similar to Zombieland, but this was more toned down (apart from a few scenes) to the point of almost being reserved. This is no bad thing as it allowed room for the characters to develop and interact. This also gave more emphasis to the script which was sharp, dark and truly funny.

The cast featured some big names such as Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson, amongst others. No one character was elevated into the spotlight and all seemed happy to bounce off each other. All the cast put in a great performance, but Sam Rockwell probably had the most fun character and it showed, a very close second was Woody Harrelson who plays a no-nonsense tough guy very well (Natural Born Killers, Zomblieland).

My only criticism would be the flow, some bits were quite jumpy without a natural order or progression. However, this is only Martin McDonagh's second film so I'll let him off! That said his first film was 'In Bruges', which is also superb. Certainly a writer and director to watch for in the future. Seven Psychopaths will certainly be in my top ten for 2012.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 15, 2013 12:59 PM GMT

Sightseers [DVD] [2012]
Sightseers [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Alice Lowe
Price: 5.50

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Homegrown Goodness, 10 Dec 2012
This review is from: Sightseers [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
Tina lives with her overbearing, vindictive and co-dependant mother who disapproves of Chris and anything outside the comfort of her home. The story follows Tina and her new boyfriend Chris who go on a caravanning holiday around Yorkshire, between visiting all the sights and ignoring her mother's pleas to return home they both indulge in cold blooded murder. We discover that their reasons for murder differ, Chris is cold, calculating and reason based whereas Tina is purely random or emotionally lead. This leads to a conflict of interests making the phrase 'relationship problems' take on a whole new and deadly meaning.

Their idea of a 'moral code' introduces an interesting dynamic in the film and between our couple. Painting them as semi-rational human beings who are still capable of love and friendship makes this more than just a slasher flick. Chris thinks he's a struggling writer, but you're never sure if this is just an excuse to release his artistic expression in other ways and Tina has her knitting.

Although classed as a comedy some of the scenes are fairly brutal and unrelenting. This is not so much a dark comedy, more of a pitch black comedy, stopping just short of horror. The dialogue is sharp and witty and executed perfectly by our two main characters. Everything is done in such a deadpan way you're not sure whether to laugh, as some bits seem just plain wrong.

This is an interesting twist on the old 'couple on the rampage' story, whether this be Bonnie and Clyde, Natural Born Killers or God Bless America. The story is simple and uncluttered leaving plenty of room to explore the characters, their motivations and relationships. This is a prime example of what can be achieved with a good idea, a well written script some decent actors and very little budget. More please.

Skyfall [DVD]
Skyfall [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Craig
Offered by FILMNIGHT
Price: 11.45

0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bourne than Bond, 22 Nov 2012
This review is from: Skyfall [DVD] (DVD)
Skyfall blurs the distinction between Bond and Bourne (and in fact any other gritty action film within recent years). Craig is not the cool, calm and sophisticated Bond we're used to he's more of a thug in a tux. This Bond isn't always in control and doesn't make everything look effortless, he is prone to mistakes and doesn't always make the best decision. Bond has been humanised, I'm still trying to decide if this is good, or not. This doesn't make Skyfall a bad film it just means it becomes more of the same, especially if future Bond films follow this same format.

Depending on your expectations Skyfall is fairly enjoyable. There are some good set pieces and a few nice nods for all seasoned Bond fans. The story had some good ideas, making the British Secret Service the target, meaning things are more personal.

Creating characters within an action film is a fine balance as it can slow the pace, most characters were dull, although Q came across very well for his few minutes of screen time. So did our bad guy, in fact he played a different enough bad guy from No Country For Old Men (great film) not to get typecast. Would have liked to see more of Bardem, but we did feel his pain, suffering, betrayal and reasons for his motivation.

The different Bond character does take some getting used to. That aside the film never gave us anything truly groundbreaking. The rooftop motorcycle chase is the next step on from the rooftop foot-chase we've seen before (Taken, Bourne, The International). The 'stand-off' we've also seen before. This is not the most memorable Bond film, although putting the lack of originality aside it had a nice even pace and was on the whole enjoyable.

*** Spoilers *** Rants *** Spoilers *** Rants *** Spoilers *** Rants ***

No gadgets, Bond is all about gadgets. In fact the film made the point of saying there were no gadgets. The same thing happened in Dark Knight Rises, it was inexcusable in Batman and even more so in Bond. Yes we do want an exploding pen! Again this is another step away from Bond towards the standard action flick.

So at the start pre-Moneypenny shoots Bond. Once she had the clear shot why didn't she then shoot the bad guy? At least complete her mission. Sure she was in shock, but aren't they trained for this? I'm sat there thinking 'shoot him', then trying to find a reason why she didn't. Did I miss something?

When investigating the bad guys computer don't plug it into the main MI6 network which has complete access to EVERYTHING. Yes this is one for the geeks, but surely common sense would prevail? Why is it that the characters in these high-powered highly-sensitive jobs are written to be so stupid? Or even when they are meant to be really clever, even taking a pill to make them awesomely intelligent (like Limitless - so, so bad) they turn out to make dumb decisions. Please give me a script where the intelligent guys are actually intelligent (Sherlock - BBC series). Anyway I digress...

So what happened to the drive? The whole point at the start was the retrieve the drive, so where is it? I was waiting for it to turn up at any second, again did I miss this?

If travelling up to a derelict house in the middle of the Highlands to do battle, take some guns, explosives and general weaponry with you - even if you don't need it. The car does have a boot. Why wouldn't you?

Why didn't Bond save the guy that got assassinated? Also, if the guy was sat in a room full of people wanting him dead why didn't they just kill him? Why send a guy into the building opposite to cut a hole in the glass to sniper him? It seemed to be a very elaborate plot point for Bond to find a casino chip which lead to Bond finding the bad guys hideout where the bad guy wanted to be captured. I guess the overly convoluted plot actually makes this a real Bond film after all!

Taken 2 (Extended Harder Cut) [DVD]
Taken 2 (Extended Harder Cut) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Liam Neeson
Price: 4.40

8 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull, dull, dull, 16 Oct 2012
Since I wasn't a fan of Taken (the first one) I didn't hold out much hope for this installment, although I'm willing to entertain it as it *may* surprise me (haha).

To recap, Liam's daughter was kidnapped in the first one meaning Liam had to do some bad things to get her back. In this one some folk were annoyed with what Liam did and therefore wanted to return the favour. Yes, it's a straight-up revenge flick. We've seen revenge films many times before, but hey, they might find a different way to tell this story, some different angle or story device, alas no.

One of the main problems with the first one is that the Maggie Grace character is very annoying, meaning I had no interest in her being rescued which negates the whole point of the film. In this one, she is just as annoying, oh well. She was equally annoying in Lost, thankfully she had a fairly early exit from that.

Liam and his wife get taken (I see what they did there) and Maggie actually *helps* to rescue them. The second half is then Liam rescuing the wife who spends all that time being unconscious and groaning.

As action films go it was very by-the-numbers, there was no tension, at no point did we think Liam was in trouble. For me Liam doesn't work as an action hero, he looks like your kind old uncle rather than someone like Mr Willis. I understand that could be the point, but I wasn't convinced. He suits the calm and controlled Jedi character, but he never had a platform in which to shine (thanks George!).

The acting was generally wooden. There was no chemistry between any of the characters especially Liam and Maggie; I was more convinced by the bad guys. The story and way it was told has been done many, many times before. I can't think of a single original idea in here, it felt like a cut-and-paste job, a mish-mash of all the action films from the last ten years, but not even using the good bits. Oh and the ending was boringly predictable - yawn.

There was a line that made me properly laugh out loud: "Is there a safe place you can throw a grenade?".

I did read something positive about this film on IMDB: "According to the film's writer Luc Besson, this will be the only sequel."
What? Please no... [...]

*** Rants *** Spoilers *** Rants *** Spoilers *** Rants *** Spoilers ***

Oh dear, oh dear, this film is so full of plot holes and things that make no sense it almost seems they were written in on purpose. I'll rant about them anyway as this is more therapeutic (and cheaper) than counselling:

- If you have some prisoners you've spent a great deal of time and money on capturing - watch them! Either someone sit in the room or setup a web cam so you can see what they're up to. Don't leave it to the sleepy guard taking a nap outside the door. This is such an old trope now it's become very irritating.

- Why were they taken (!) to a holding room? They have their guy, they want him dead - just shoot him.

- If wanting to handcuff someone please use metal handcuff, not threads of cotton.

- We know from the last film Liam killed lots of people, meaning he's probably pretty handy. If you capture your guy - search him for weapons or any communication devices he may have stashed about his person.

- So Liam manages to phone Maggie and have a good old chit-chat for several minutes. Can no one hear him? I guess our sleepy guard is really asleep - bless, must be hard work being a thug and general cannon fodder.

- We hear from the bad guy boss that Liam is to be captured alive. So why in the next scene are the bad guys shooting straight at him? If he's in a car shoot out his tyres or aim for the engine. Unless it's one of those magical exploding cars - then don't.

- When captured and taken (!) to the baddies place he builds a mental map, some of which are sounds. When Liam retraces this mental map some time later we still have the same guy playing the same musical instrument on the same step. The same dogs are barking at the same place. The same guys are welding in the same area. The same guy is singing at the same mosque. What? Really? Come on!

- Why did they crash into the US Embassy? What was the point? They could have stopped outside.

- After they crashed would they have let this guy loose again? Would he not have been arrested or at least held for the damage caused, not to mention all the people he'd shot.

- Let's say they were happy with him crashing into the embassy and shooting people so released him to rescue the wife. Would none of the troops have gone with him to maybe help this guy out. Either do one thing or the other, purlease...
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2013 2:21 PM GMT

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