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Profile for M. MCGOWAN > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
M. MCGOWAN "x-curmudgeon" (U.K.)

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I'm A Cyborg [2006] [DVD]
I'm A Cyborg [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ji-hun Jeong
Offered by Home Entertainment Online
Price: £5.93

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars support not needed, but thanks anyway Quentin, 18 Nov. 2009
This review is from: I'm A Cyborg [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
There's something about this movie. And more than anything, it's the sweet manga face and doe eyes of the waif Su-jeong Lim that keeps you glued to it. But poor old half-demented Quentin Tarantino doesn't understand the disservice he does to the director, Park wook-Chan, by singing his high praises. Unlike Tarantino, Park wook-Chan has an eye for beauty. And once he grows out of his childish infatuation with gratuitous violence, he should one day make a great movie.

The Tudors: Complete Season 2 [DVD] [2008]
The Tudors: Complete Season 2 [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £3.17

5.0 out of 5 stars POWERFUL - BEAUTIFUL - TOUCHES THE SOUL, 11 Nov. 2009
Download season 2 off itunes and it'll cost you £14, so this is excellent value and you'll be glad to have the dvds to watch on tv or computer.
Ten episodes all told of sterling drama. Some of the historical accuracy's no doubt been lost to artistic license and gloss, but the characterisation is strong and scripts excellent. So this develops like a spicy historical novel with interesting, fully motivated characters and powerful dramatic moments in each episode. I think you'll be riveted to this as I was and taken aback by in particular the culmination of the series, which I found so very, very impressive. Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn absolutely excels. Through season 1 and most of season 2, our sympathies lie not in the least with Anne Boleyn, and in fact we're glad to see the scheming bitch removed to the Tower prior to her execution. But through the last hours of her life, when we are forced to concede her innocence and acknowledge her as the victim of a stitch-up, then our sympathies switch completely and so much so that I for one was deeply touched by her plight. There is such a tender moment in her final hours when she's kneeling praying in the darkness for her mortal soul while at the same time reminiscing of a carefree childhood, playing hide and seek with her father and brother in a beautiful sun-lit garden. The contrast between her dark prison cell and horrible predicament and the garden of her childhood is so pronounced and heightened by an unforgettably beautiful piece of music, that tears are very likely to well in the eyes. Herein is a masterpiece of direction and such wonderful acting by Natalie Dormer. What was understood by the writer, the actors, and the director was that this was not merely a simple fact of history, i.e that Henry VIII's second wife Anne Boleyn lost her head, but that this event was an enormous atrocity which echoes through the ages and concerned a living breathing woman being used, abused and destroyed by one of the most selfish men in history.

Titanic [1998] [DVD]
Titanic [1998] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £4.07

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THAT SCRIPT - II - adagio for eyes, 11 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Titanic [1998] [DVD] (DVD)
... Just as Zane's Cal Hockley paints a perfect portrait of a classic Victorian (if not George V- ian) villain, Kate Winslet's Rose makes all the right moves for a classic heroine. A more perfect actor for this part could not have been cast. This was physical and spiritual command of the part by Kate Winslet and if awards were to be given for accomplishments with eyes, none would be more deserving than Kate. That first diffident look into Jack's eyes as she nervously grips his outstretched hand over the ship's railing in their first scene, makes for as touching a moment in the movie as they come. There were no prizes for guessing that from this encounter, dramatically intensified and arm-wrenchingly painful as it seemed, these characters were destined to be lovers. And how obvious it seemed were the scriptwriter's intentions with Jack saving Rose and that big closeup of their hands coming together. But needs must - obvious though his intentions were, the scriptwriter had a mission to start us on a road whereby within but a few brief encounters, the love affair flourishes and matures to the point where Rose will offer up her own life to stay with Jack. So their first encounter, intense as it was, needed to be just that to warrant all of Rose's subsequent actions but especially that which proved her undying love, her jumping from the lifeboat, better to forfeit her own life (assuredly, in light of her knowing about the shortage of lifeboats) than to lose Jack. We had to believe Rose would do that and our belief was instilled by that first encounter.

Again, the way in which Rose looks into the eyes of her newfound love when he beckons her to the bow of the ship to share their first truly tender moment, is so sweetly touching as to bring a lump to the throat. How beautifully this was enacted against the solitary piano notes and deep red sunset! There again, the script required the sunset to stand out, to heighten the sweetness of the moment and to drive home the fact this was the last sunset so many would see. Rose's apprehension at her life-altering decision offset by her calm resignation as she moves toward Jack on the bow, her adulation for this young guy, and all her emotions are captured so genuinely by those trusting eyes, tentative mouth, and that almost hobbled gait. Winslet delivers and convinces at every turn in this movie and with no discernible effort acquits herself with the heart and soul of her character. In the old car in the hold of the ship, when Rose gives herself to Jack, who but the sour-faced curmudgeon that I once was would not be moved or could deny these kids their rapture? She, just seventeen years old, trapped like a bird in a gilded cage, her world in disarray and craving for solace and he, the charming and talented young rover, were meant for each other. The poignancy of their clinch infused our hearts, not by the sight of the steamy cabin nor their naked embrace afterwards, but before that, by Rose's entreating Jack to touch her and unforgettably, by those eyes so trusting and soothed by the sight of him. This young kid had shown her joy, opened the cage and let her fly. He was worthy not only of her love but of her eternal love and yet something in her doleful, glimmering eyes foretold this would be their one and only congress.

The love story, regarded by many as the weakness in the script, for me is the backbone of the script. It is played out perfectly and weaved into the story so expertly that, despite its corny perfection and its fiction, is as respectful a tribute to those who perished as any re-enactment of the sinking of the ship could be. Had the real victims not lived, loved and been loved before that fateful night? Who knows what their thoughts were and who they longed to see again as they awaited almost certain death? Jack and Rose as victims, lovers, and as innocents, facing these events, represent the souls lost, and in their love and tragedy, all those dreams, hopes and lives broken by this disaster. As they lowered her in the lifeboat, did the character Rose not suffer the feelings of loss and hopelessness of so many women separated from their loved ones on that night? The desperation of that moment, the chaos and hubbub, and the gut-wrenching feeling of losing someone forever were as clearly written in Rose's eyes as in the faces of the family crying for their father. The actors showed due respect to the real victims' plight. The scriptwriter and score-writer showed due respect likewise and if ever a musical accompaniment was timed so well or captured the longing of the human heart so beautifully, it was this one.

This film, despite the historical inaccuracies and misrepresentations, despite the schmalzy homage to love's young dream, and despite its debatable corniness and cliché, is a gargantuan achievement. Attention to detail and quality of story, without even considering the spectacle, are truly remarkable. This is a wonderful film with the skill and devotion of its contributors stamped into every frame. It's also as warm a tribute and fine a memorial to the victims of the tragedy as any eulogy that could possibly be composed so long after the fact.

James Cameron, I applaud you. Your dedication to your art is astounding. If ever a moviemaker took so seriously an obligation to bedazzle and delight, or tried harder to return the cost of a theatre ticket with interest, you are that moviemaker. The script is magnificent and with a real affection for the least and largest of your characters that runs right through and is so plain to see.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2012 12:08 PM GMT

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (2 Disc Special Edition) [1975] [DVD]
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (2 Disc Special Edition) [1975] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jack Nicholson
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £6.96

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilariously funny, grim as hell, total masterpiece, 18 Dec. 2007
Directed by Milos Forman and starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, this is a 5-oscar-winning masterpiece and deservedly so. I first saw this picture in '76 and have watched it more times than is decent since, so much so I almost know the script by heart. Based on the novel by Ken Kesey and set in an Oregon mental institute, this tragicomedy is the single most profound drama I have ever seen and with a denouement so powerful and unforgettable I feel my life has been changed and enriched by the privilege of witnessing it. Whatever you think of Jack Nicholson, his performance here as R P McMurphy - a prison-dodging, sane-as-can-be sex offender confined for psychiatric assessment - is mesmerizing. As too are the performances of Louise Fletcher (Head Nurse Ratched) and a supporting ensemble of actors including Danny deVito, Christopher Lloyd, Will Sampson, William Redfield and Brad Dourif, all playing utterly convincing roles, indistinguishable - as I'm sure any psychiatric worker would vouch - from real-life mental patients.

It is the ebullient McMurphy's disruption of the tranquility of the hospital ward that brings him into conflict with Ratched's stone-hearted, authoritarian matron. She runs a tight ship convinced it's for the benefit of the patients. Her idea of therapy is to have everyone sitting in a circle, ostensibly to benefit from discussion and to air their mundane issues, but with the main agenda of maintaining and reinforcing a despiriting regime of rigid conformity. These sessions often start morosely and silently but invariably end with raucous and hilarious shouting matches which are so perfectly and authentically played by the ensemble cast that you feel as though you're watching a documentary, but a riveting one at that. Here also we are introduced to some of the more vocal patients who though quirky and laden with issues, are generally more articulate and intelligent than those beyond the asylum. Outside of these lively discourses, the patients are kept subdued by daily dosages of drugs. Any hint of insurrection is quelled by fear of Ratched's excoriating disapproval and her arsenal of truncheon-wielding orderlies, disposed on her say-so to remove a patient by force to another ward where electroconvulsive therapy is meted out to the specially deserving.

R P McMurphy lands onto this lugubrious, ordered world like a fun-loving Martian. He is a boisterous, big-hearted, roguish extrovert and, once settled in, wins the confidence and in turn the admiration and hero worship of his fellow inmates. Excepting the "chronics", McMurphy can scarcely distinguish (and neither can we) between the patients and "the average a**hole walking about out there on the street". But the trouble begins when he bets with his fellow patients that he can, within a week, "stick a bug so far up Nurse Ratched's a** she won't know whether to s**t or wind her wrist-watch." This sets the scene for psychological warfare with, on the one side, McMurphy leading a bunch of fired up, newly assertive patients, and on the other, the system, or the "Combine", fronted by Nurse Ratched. The conflict comes to a head when McMurphy arranges a wild party for the patients to liven up their otherwise monotonous and colourless existences. However, it will be seen in the devastating and brutal consequences that the system deems itself having more to lose than those who would dare to confront it. Catering for individual aspirations and for patient happiness it seems were very far beyond the remit of the mental healthcare system as it was. With undertones of Spartacus - possibly explaining Kirk Douglas' interest, whose son Michael brought the novel to the screen - this story brings into searing focus the cruelty and inhumanity of sectors of mental healthcare in sixties US.

Now to say further would be to give too much away. But believe me, this is a genuinely funny, bitterly tragic, remarkable, compelling, totally absorbing, emotionally draining and brilliant picture, so rightly deserving of its stature as one of the best films of all time - in this reviewer's opinion, the very best.

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