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The Departed (2006)
Under-written and under-whelming
This is one of those films out of the angst-school. Everyone runs around screaming obscenities at one another and there's lots of shooting and blood and it goes on much longer than it needs to.
There's the core of a very good story here, with the double agent, double agent scenario. There could be a good, tight exploration here with the character structure and the woman linking them. But for me, there was nothing to explain why the woman was so attracted to either man which the plot kind of hinged on. And none of the characters were particularly well defined.
The acting's okay, but Jack Nicholson can do roles like this in his sleep, it just calls for him to look charismatic and dangerous.
It reminded me of the sort of plot you see on the BBC's 'Life on Mars'. Except that would have packed it with genuine intrigue and emotion into one hour. And with class. Class is ultimately what 'The Departed' lacked. (Classy film-making, not denied, but in terms of how the characters and story was portrayed).
And if American cops really go around screaming obscenities and being so racist, sexist and homophobic all the time... well, that's not a very good advertisement for the Police Force is it?
Superman Returns (2006)
Lacking in many things...
...the most important of them being plot! Okay, he's been away for five years, okay things will have changed... and.... what? Lex Luthor (played brimming with madness by Kevin Spacey, but only really scary in one moment) has some crazy idea, but please, its not for a minute believable, doesn't look good and doesn't need two and a half hours to flesh it out.
This film would have been so much better if it was 100 minutes, shorn of all the twiddle and concentrating on the action. Then maybe it would have constructed a few more set-pieces like the one where he first meets Lois again (I won't give it away, but that's the stuff.. more please!) Speaking of Lois... who on earth is this woman? She's supposed to have a five year old child but she doesn't look older than a teenager herself. How can she have held a meaningful relationship with Superman five years ago? Casting's all wrong. Nicolas Cage would have given us a much darker, more soul-searching portrayal and Lois needs to be a feisty, intelligent woman (she's supposed to have won a Pulitzer prize), which Teri Hatcher and Margot Kidder both pulled off.
Biggest problem with this film though... its dull! A big disappointment from Bryan Singer, now leave the franchise (and franchise films in general) alone and do a good proper adult picture again.
Great British Film, criminally not on big-scale release
This is a very sharp british film, one of the best since trainspotting. The lighting, editing and music are very snappy and bring to mind (along with much of the dialogue and hints of the plot) Fight Club.
I went mostly cos it had Neil Stuke in it (right from Game On, I've loved everything he's been in) but its genuinely entertaining, funny and compassionate.
We can only hope that the future makes it big elsewhere - as Croupier did.
The Lakes (1997)
The Lakes was a typically powerful piece of Jimmy McGovern-written television, with many memorable images and characters who will live in the mind for a long time.
This second series was, frankly, quite unnecessary. There was a sense at the beginning that some storylines and characters were going to have to be contrived in order to wring more out of the situation and it teeters dangerously on the edge of becoming soapy.
However, Jimmy McGovern is still an extraordinary writer (though someone else wrote some of the episodes) and the second series is very well directed and acted, so still compulsive stuff - I just prefer to think this story finished after the first series.
I hope that credibility is not stretched any further and this portrait will end with this one.
Corny, Cliched and Boring.
This is one of the worst films I have ever seen and one of only three ever that I have almost walked out of!
Shekar Kapur's Bollywood style may be ideal for an Indian story like Bandit Queen, but here it comes across as pulling out all the lighting and camera cliches in the business.
Elizabeth has one of the most fantastic casts ever assembled - and they're all awful (with the possible exception of Cate Blanchett and John Gielgud - who in any case only has a 30 second non-speaking part)! If only they had underplayed it, or shown a degree of subtlety, then this might have been so much better. Such a shame to see great old actors like Richard Attenborough embarrassing himself, and great younger ones like Christopher Ecclestone so over the top. Joseph Fiennes is just bad!
The most serious problem is that this movie is just tediously boring. No plot, and nothing to hold my interest for so long.
I can't see what the fuss is about this one, and think that the makers must consider themselves very lucky they got away with some acclaim out of this one - let alone their careers!