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A Common Thread [DVD] [2004]
A Common Thread [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Lola Naymark
Offered by videosanddvds
Price: £14.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful French drama, 9 Mar. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Common Thread [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
A Common Thread is a fantastic French drama about the life of Claire, played with great maturity by Lola Naymark, a teenager who finds herself pregnant and unable to tell anyone. Pursuing her dream of embroidery despite her dilemma she starts to work for Mme Melikian, a middle aged woman deep in grief at the death of her son in a road accident. They work in silence but soon find that the presence of the other in their lives has a great effect. This isn't a film where a lot goes on.

The scenes are often quiet with little movement mirroring the isolation of these two women as they struggle with their inner thoughts. It is beautifully shot and the slow pace pulls the viewer in without making the movie seem overly log, which it isn't at a running time of just under 90 minutes.

Teenage pregnancy has been dealt with before but never with so much tenderness and focus on the girl alone and her journey through the nine months. Claire and Mme Melikian's friendship across generations is believable and moving as is Claire's interaction with her friend's brother Guillame (Thomas Laroppe) who coincidentally was friends with the Melikian boy. There are lots of threads to this drama that come together with as much care as the beautiful needlework that is almost a character in its own right.

Vampire Hunters [DVD] [2003]
Vampire Hunters [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Chan Kwok Kwan
Offered by A1-Media
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kung fu vampire adventure, 9 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Vampire Hunters [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters is an old school martial arts movie with lots of great action scenes, a plot seeped in superstition and special effects that are almost kitsch compared to what CGI can achieve. Set in 19th century China four heroes who can master the elements of their names- Rain, Lightning, Thunder and Wind- must work together to stop the Vampire King and its coven awoken by an evil monk from devouring all human life.

There's lots of tense atmosphere and creepiness to remind you this is a horror movie which is just as well as this isn't a movie that takes itself too seriously. Vampire Hunters is all about the fight scenes which are many and stylish but the relationship between the four main characters is just as enjoyable as they each have their own distinct personality which makes for some decent banter and camaraderie.

I wasn't expecting to like this film but from the start I found myself gripped and it is now firmly one of my guilty pleasures.

Kontroll [2003] [DVD]
Kontroll [2003] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sándor Csányi
Offered by vivaverve
Price: £4.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkly funny thriller, 9 Mar. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Kontroll [2003] [DVD] (DVD)
Kontroll is a fabulous Hungarian thriller that is both stylish and quick paced with a soundtrack to match. The plot centres around ticket inspector Bulscú (Sándor Csányi) and his fellow odd ball colleagues who unenthusiastically patrol the underground train line beneath Budapest.

Bulscú is an apathetic man hiding from the world above who begins to question his life as he's confronted by the threat of a serial killer stalking the platforms and discovers a beautiful female passenger who travels the line in a pink bear suit.

The underground is a dark atmospheric setting for a thriller with its pools of light and sense of urgency as people rush in and out of the station and it's like glimpsing another world. Likewise the plot rolls along as though its running out of time and as Bulscú represents the `everyman' his story is engaging enough to keep you gripped and on his side. Kontroll is a gem of European cinema with quirky characters and plenty of dark comedy to keep you invested. This is a film I will watch again and again.

Romanzo Criminale [DVD]
Romanzo Criminale [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kim Rossi Stuart
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.95

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant gangster epic!, 6 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Romanzo Criminale [DVD] (DVD)
Proving that the English speaking world doesn't hold a monopoly on gangster movies this Italian tale following three friends from a childhood dreaming of power and notoriety through to their rise up Rome's criminal ladder is a gem of the genre.Seamlessly splitting into three parts to show the different points of view as leadership changes over the years adds an originality and depth that really brings the story to life.

Lebanese (Pier Francesco Favino) is the first to take the fore depicting a troubled man who seems unable to cope with any world but the grimy underbelly. After him the playboy Dandy (Claudio Santamaria) takes over but is more interested in enjoying himself than running the business. Perhaps the more engaging story or at least the one you sympathise the most with is that of Ice (Kim Rossi Stuart). He manages to lead a life separate from the drugs and guns with a woman he loves but soon finds he cannot escape his past.

All the leads are fantastic and spread over two decades the scope of the plot gives the movie great depth. This isn't a film about the action but rather the men behind the guns- what leads them into that world and why it is they stay. But if you like action there's plenty of that too. This is a fantastic movie with great characters and a believable plot that rolls along to its dramatic end.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird [DVD]
The Good, The Bad, The Weird [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kang-ho Song
Price: £2.84

4.0 out of 5 stars Asia's revamp of the western, 6 Mar. 2011
Koreas take on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is an ambitious action packed movie that so long as you don't expect a replica of Sergio Leone's classic is highly enjoyable in its own right.

In the first scene the film starts the way it means to go on with gun fights, baddies and bandits. A train robber Tae-goo (Song Kang-ho) is in the midst of looting a locomotive's passengers when an even bigger bandit, Chang-yi (Lee Byung-hun), boards the train inciting a gun fight at which point the bounty hunter Do-Won (Jung Woo-sung) shows up. From that moment on the three men can't escape each other as they fight over a map claimed to lead the holder to treasure. The action is more pivotal to the film's charm than the plot which is at times a little tedious, so it's a good thing that the fight scenes are on a large scale and wonderfully intricate.

In the strain of all good modern action films this is a light hearted affair with a bad guy you can really hate, a good guy you root for, and a fool that keeps everything fun no matter how many bodies are falling around him. All the leads are great at their characters and each one looks the part but of all, the bandit played by Song Kang-ho is the most endearing. Technically this is a western but as usual Asian cinema has given the genre a makeover in its own unique style, and it works. A thoroughly enjoyable movie.

Shinobi [DVD]
Shinobi [DVD]
Dvd ~ Yukie Nakama
Price: £8.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful martial arts movie, 6 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Shinobi [DVD] (DVD)
Shinobi is a martial arts film that centres around two elite ninja clans that must wage battle with one another so that one may survive. In the midst two star crossed lovers must choose a side.

Each character has their own unique fighting style and comes up against their own particular opponent so throughout the film there are a variety of fight scenes with none of the action imitating what has gone before. Their world is shot beautifully with the screen full of colours and breathtaking landscapes, and the love story is tender enough to make you care but not so demanding that it ruins the pace and action of a film that is packed with battles.

Shinobi is a film for action fans and romantics.

Returner [DVD] [2004]
Returner [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Takeshi Kaneshiro
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £5.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great action movie, 6 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Returner [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Part Leon, part ET, and part Terminator; the plot is very much secondary. This is an action movie so if you like explosions, gunfights, car chases, caricature bad guys and Takeshi Kaneshiro then you'll enjoy this film.

A young girl Miri (Anne Suzuki) travels back from the future to prevent a disastrous war with an alien species that threatens to destroy the world. Fortunately she runs into Miyamoto (Kaneshiro) a gun for hire and reluctant hero who she enlists to help her.

The martial arts action is quick paced and stylish and the relationship between the two leads is watchable and refreshing since unlike most action films there's no romantic sub plot slowing the film down. Miyamoto helps Miri with his muscle and she in turn reminds him of his humanity. In short it's about friendship....and aliens. Returner doesn't take itself too seriously and I advise anyone watching it to do likewise. Just sit back and enjoy the action.

Watchmen (1-Disc) [DVD]
Watchmen (1-Disc) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jackie Earle Haley
Offered by simply-well-priced
Price: £3.60

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Best graphic novel adaptation yet., 25 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Watchmen (1-Disc) [DVD] (DVD)
Watchmen is another film adaptation of a graphic novel but unlike those that have gone before it is in a league all of its own. Saying that it is not a film you should see on the basis of any review, good or bad, but for curiosity alone. You will either love it or hate it. I didn't love it but that I suspect is because I wouldn't have liked the novel either. Watchmen is a movie that felt the most like reading a comic book such was the attention to detail in the editing of the story and the monologues that drive the plot forward. Even the hue lighting the scenes seemed to match the grimy colour tones favoured by artists of dark metropolises where heroes and villains roam the streets.

The murder of The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who appears frequently in the film through flashbacks, sets the recent generation of heroes to seek out his attacker and uncover a plot that threatens them all. Led by the fascinatingly dark character of Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre II (Malin Ackerman) take up the investigation and uncover the secrets of their predecessors' pasts. These heroes are not built up into characters above human strength and morals but rather torn from their pedestals where more often than not their natures are revealed to be dark and corrupt, in Rorschach and The Comedian especially. Rorschach is by far the most engaging character as he struts through the underbelly of the city wearing a mask upon which black shapes move and shift like wet ink. His philosophy of the world as a cesspit is a rare treat considering the moral maxims spouted by the spandexed superheroes we're used to hearing. Like wise the excellent Billy Crudup as Dr Manhattan, an entity that lives out with the laws of matter and time, gives some of the most thought provoking speeches in the film. Watchmen is not just about the action, it focuses on moral issues, conscience, that grey area in our souls, and if the end justifies the means. It's the thinking man's graphic novel.

Yet as I said, I didn't enjoy this film. It would have been improved greatly if it were more concise and if Rorschach had been the pivotal character around which the plot moved, as it is the story suffers from the distraction that is the romantic sub-plot as well as an inability to mask the villain's identity till it's reveal at the end. These are all faults that arise from the film's strict adherence to the graphic novel, and as such are weak criticisms since I'm a great believer that despite the very different genres as much of the original ought to be preserved. Watchmen is the best adaptation of a graphic novel I've seen but it's not the one I most enjoyed. Make up your own mind and for Rorschach alone watch Watchmen.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 6, 2010 7:45 PM BST

Franklyn [DVD] [2008]
Franklyn [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Eva Green
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £5.26

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 19 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Franklyn [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
The opening scene introduces you to the dystopian Meanwhile City, reminiscent of the metropolis in Terry Gilliam's `Brazil', where the intriguing character of Franklyn (Ryan Phillippe) dons a sinister mask and spouts the monologues of 1950's private eyes. It is an introduction that promises so much only for the subsequent plot lines to take the fore.

Focusing on the stories of four lost souls in London's congested streets it is really the film that is lost. Playing a father in search of his estranged son Bernard Hill is as ever watchable and gives the most emotive performance of the cast. The character of Emilia (Eva Green), a troubled art student, is at times engaging though more often than not an annoying narcissist while Milo (Sam Riley) is a non-entity who fails to incur any empathy.

What the film does achieve with great success is capturing the isolation and turmoil that lies beneath the city, behind every door, but the drive of the plot to a twist that is made clear before it's revealed doesn't live up to the atmosphere laboriously created. The origin of Franklyn rather than shocking, disappoints as you want it to be so much more, especially as Philippe is perfectly cast to play the enigmatic vigilante and it is a waste he isn't given more screen time. Franklyn is a film that leaves you feeling robbed. Meanwhile City- would be a film worth seeing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2012 7:16 AM BST

Chungking Express [1995] [DVD]
Chungking Express [1995] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Brigitte Lin
Offered by RECTRO_GEMS
Price: £23.73

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see, 19 Aug. 2010
Wong Kar-Wai brings together his usual suspects to create a film about love that rather than allowing the viewer to be a passive observer takes them straight into the minds of the character. He arranges the angles and pace of shots cleverly in sync with the plot's pauses of reverie allowing a voyeuristic sense of watching people who don't know they're being watched.

The film is split in two parts with the small tale of cop223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro), recently broken up and pining for his lost love, finding his path cross with spurned gangstress (Brigitte Lin) whose very disparate lives come together for a night by a shared urge to be with another, to know again that feeling of companionship. The initial scenes act as a prologue highlighting the isolation and loneliness that is innate in human nature regardless of what walk of life they come from. Kaneshiro's decision to date again is like the spark of hope that leads to the more engaging story spread out through the rest of the film.

At a street side deli, first introduced by cop223, cop663 (Tony Leung) comes every night as if to continue the habit of buying his girlfriend breakfast despite the fact that they're no longer together, there he meets waitress Faye (Faye Wong) who dreams of moving to California. Infatuated by cop663 and his depth of pining for the air hostess he loved she takes it upon herself to help him out of his lethargy and build him back to the man he was. Chungking Express has the kookiness of Amelie but a realism with far more resonance creating a romance that's sentimental yet lacking that sweetness that grows tiresome in so many tales of love. What makes Wong Kar-Wai stand out from other directors is his ability to allow each character to grow before your eyes no matter how short their screen time. Tony Leung and Faye Wong have a chemistry that is believable and a delight to watch, one they resumed with equal success in `2046', another of Kar-Wai's delves into the changing faces of love.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2012 2:39 PM GMT

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