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For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Classic Bond with more than a touch of European class
For Your Eyes Only is absurd and corny, though not as corny as other Moore Bond movies. I only counted two one line wisecracks for example, and, in this movie at least, Bond does try to be an actual gentleman and not an outright philanderer. That's different! Alas, absurd and corny is the name of the game, as well as incompetence, even on Bond's part and not just the baddies for a change. Wait a minute ... that's different too! The sound is dated, though for 1981 it does try to be novel from time to time. When the Bond theme plays at one crucial underwater sequence later in the movie it was, for me at least, a great relief, and I wondered why they hadn't done that more often. The stunts were awesome. There's a skiing sequence that uses every trick in the book. It has to be seen to be believed. And the underwater scenes are brilliant, complete with plenty of sharks. Roger Moore is way too old of course, but he is fit as a fiddle and showing not an once of extra weight. The list of characters is very interesting and well cast, with a supreme leading lady, and several classic baddies. There's even an appearance from a dastardly Charles Dance. A lot of the movie is set in a very scenic Greece, and it's worth seeing just for that.
Charming Irish heart spinner
Recently I saw another Irish movie called Roan Inish. If the Irish do one thing well, aside from comedy and singing, it's movies with their own unique mythological sympathy. There is just so much genuine romance about Ondine. Colin Farrell is truly magnificent, as a character you can't help but admire him, as an actor you can't help but respect him. Ondine herself is also superb. Add into the mix the cutest little girl, with all her feisty Irish pluck, and Ondine is easily a 10. Beautifully filmed, with energy and movement in every scene, and one of the most original stories I've ever seen.
The Kings of Mykonos (2010)
It's hard not to enjoy The Kings of Mykonos. It has such an International, or at least European holiday flair. There are great characters and some genuinely funny lines. The story is oddball but unravelled at a good pace, and in the end is actually very clever. I took a point off for the two leads acting as if they are 18 years old. The two female leads were stunning too. Great cultural comedy, and a high standard of filmmaking.
Great pressure throughout
Pressure is the sort of movie that has you on the edge of your seat early on. There are quite famous actors here and they all perform well. It's an unusual story, in that you probably haven't seen a movie about this type of deep sea operation before, so it's interesting as well. Great action throughout, and tense drama, never over-played. I'd give it a 10 but there is a problem with the plot. If a storm is approaching and it's so big it could wipe out a tanker, then why is there a mission authorised just hours before its arrival? That's lazy writing. Why one of the crew is authorised to descend is also inexplicable. Judge for yourself. I put it down to a chance in a million and from there thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
The Golem (2018)
Creepy historical horror story done well
Well cast and acted, Golem is also well thought out. I'm taking a point off for the opening sequence, which is a little cheap looking compared with the bulk of the movie, and the main story, that follows. So, if you are the sort of person that judges how a movie will be by it's first 5 minutes or so, then please give this one at least 15. It improves by leaps and bounds. There's a great story here, and a good script. There are many classic horror images. I've never really seen anything quite like it. I don't know if there are any other golem movies out there, but surely this is a good one. The golem itself is very creepy, and the scenes of violence are shocking. This is a an engaging horror movie rather than a shocker, though it does get creepier and more intriguing as the drama unfolds. Golem sets a standard for historical horror.
Basically a bloody vampire movie, but with some sparks
It's worth watching Animals for Nicki Aycox as the femme fatale. There is excellent colour, but the soundtrack is a bit dated and ordinary, including the animal sounds. There are moments of good cinematography, some of the interior car scenes or shots of industry at twilight for example, but the movie falls down somewhat when it comes to visual effects. Not entirely though, as I thought some of the lightening movements of the 'animals' were done well. I'll have to just out and say it however ... the 3D animations were simplistic and cheap, and could only have worked if the movie was 1999 rather than 2009. Animals is basically a vampire movie, and if you like vampire movies then this one is interesting and sincere, and certainly bloody, and at least deserves a much higher score than the 3.8 it currently enjoys here at IMDb.
Ready or Not (2019)
Totally entertaining woman-strikes-back slasher
Ready or Not is thoroughly entertaining, with many, many shock deaths, all gory, a wicked script and wizard performances, particularly the dazzling lead. There's good colour and direction, some supremely dastardly characters, and a pretty big cast. I wouldn't say it's the most original horror I've ever seen, but there are some real touches of originality, particularly with the survival/fight sequences. Truly it gets a 10 though for the performance, character and casting of the lead.
A good effort, much like Twilight
Fallen has good effects, so much so that you could almost describe it as a blockbuster. The characters are well chosen and developed, as well as well cast and played. There's not a lot of tension, and you tend to see what's coming, though the same could be said of Twilight. I did enjoy Fallen, especially for the characters and the effects, the lighting, the sets, the locations, etc. I didn't find it especially spooky, again, neither was Twilight, but it was exciting at times. Worth a look, especially if you like a fantasy tinged horror and teen drama.
November Criminals (2017)
Serious teen drama
The actors here are heavyweights, and due to certain factors November Criminals needs them to make this work. They succeed, and I did enjoy the movie, but I have a few gripes. For starters, why is it called November Criminals? I didn't read the blurb on the back of the dvd, and thus assumed that this was some sort of teen rebellion movie, with two teens breaking the law somehow. It's not that at all, though in a way these two teens are rebelling, it's just that the path they take is righteous and conservative. Secondly this movie is extremely ambitious, tripling up on themes, making the actors work really hard. OK, that's a trend these days with movies and TV. You can't just have an ordinary person in an adventure, the trend today is that there has to be a massive gravity well of a problem behind the lead, and likely those around him or her as well, which effects the approach to the story, but isn't the reason for the story. Here, the three themes are loss of a loved one, first love, and then the murder mystery. I'll be honest. There's not that much to the murder mystery that a good episode of Law and Order couldn't cover in an hour, and in any case this is not a long movie and it's a good half hour before things begin to properly kick off in the mystery department. In other words, you need to be into damaged teens and teen romance, or at least not mind that, in order to really love this movie. Thirdly, there are certain behaviours, particularly the male lead character, that stretch believability, specifically, the risks taken, but also the inability to relate to those around him. The classic example is when he bursts into a house gathering held by his girlfriend's mother, but there are others. OK, this is neatly explained by the loss of his mother. He's lost empathy for others perhaps. Still, I found it disturbing. This is still an 8 however, as there is good chemistry and terrific performances by all, and in the end you do find yourself admiring a certain bravery.
I can't give Amnesiac a 10 for the simple reason I guessed what was coming early on. Having said that, I thought the set up and performances strong and intriguing enough to keep me watching just to see if I was right. I came away perfectly satisfied, even though I thought a couple of scenes where people react underestimating obvious danger were stretching believability a tad. That is only a very minor criticism, and I'd be prepared to be easily argued away from my opinions, especially as, as far as a production goes, Amnesiac was of a very high standard, and, importantly, the femme fatale was, for me at least, an outstanding character and performance.
The Ides of March (2011)
Cute and distinct political thriller
It's worth watching this movie for the powerhouse performances of the star studded cast. I only saw this the other night. TV dramas such as Billions and House of Cards may have rendered this piece a little tame by today's expectations. Even so, I found the politics at least to be still contemporary. The Ides of March has a way to run yet. Worth seeing if you like political drama.
Lost River (2014)
The edge of tension, the edge of violence
Lost river is a perfect example of how to grind an audience with immediate and sustained tension. Honestly, watching this movie was such an anxious experience that at many points I could hardly bare to continue. The other miracle is how it espouses violence and gore, yet deftly sets itself back from it. In other words, one keeps expecting to see terrible acts of extreme sadism at several moments, as you sit there shivering with nervous anticipation, yet somehow things resolve again and again, moving back from the brink, yet at the same time the tension never ceases for a moment, in fact, it just keeps building. This is one of the most original set ups I've seen in a movie. I say setups rather than story, because most of the elements here most of us would have encountered before. Yet, somehow, brilliantly, not in the way Lost River presents itself. Fantastic framing, colour and sound as well. Lost River was definitely an experience I won't be forgetting for some time.
The Favourite (2018)
Sumptuous and engaging
The Favourite is a wonderful movie. I became a fan of Rachel Weiss for the Mummy movies. In this she delivers a similar punch, bizarre as that comparison sounds. There are so many things good about this masterpiece that it's hard to know where to start. Despite the amazing costumes, sets and palace location, this movie probably wouldn't have worked without perfect casting. Queen Anne is a fascinating study, perfectly performed. I was also impressed by Nicholas Hoult. The Favourite also needs to be viewed by any lover of cinema for the sheer majesty of the Direction. There are many amazing camera angles and framing, with distinct colour use, as well as many examples of perfect Art Direction. This is a beautiful movie to see, even if the subject matter doesn't interest. There are deft touches throughout, as well as a distinct appreciation of survival in the 18th century, whether or not that was intended (see the extras on the dvd). The script is perfect, and, for me, endlessly entertaining. I loved the power ascribed to these three women, one fighting to keep it, one fighting to wield it, and one fighting to gain it. There are no real good guys or bad guys. I suppose you could compare it to The Madness of King George, but really, The Favourite stands alone as a thing of great beauty.
Holes is a hugely enjoyable desert romp with snappy dialogue and great acting. Big names lend a huge help, but it's mostly about the boys. The story is original, and there are clever ideas here, as well as some unique desert critters. The cover of the dvd is misleading, implying there is something 'down in the hole', as with the other great teen movie The Hole. Don't be confused. There's no other world or monster down the hole in Holes. This is a rise up against adversity movie, and it's great fun for the whole family save perhaps the smallest of children.
Dragged Across Concrete (2018)
Slow and long, but excellent performances
Did anyone else out there feel that Dragged Across Concrete was very much like Tarantino movies? The first half is a whole lot of setting things up, highlighted by a couple of acts of extreme violence. More happens in the second half, leading to a very big finale. Sound familiar? It's worth seeing. All the actors are superb, and the story is such that there are surprises. I clocked it at 2 hours and 20 minutes. That may be too much for some, given it is, essentially, an action movie.
Good ideas and effects in this low budget indie
I found After an easy watch, but then again, I love interesting sci fi and horror, particularly if there's a good monster. The monster in this was ace, fast and roaring, but admittedly you don't get to see too much of it, in fact, there's only one really decent close up scene, but it is at least a good look. That's better than many other monster movies. The two leads were easy on the eye and acted well, and the story was different at least, if not ground breaking. Overall the movie was put together well, with a few decent effects, good editing and pace, and tension.
War of the Worlds (2019)
Forget the H.G.Wellian title, this is top shelf alien apocalypse
I am so tempted to take a point off for calling this War of the Worlds. Honestly, if they had just called it Alien Invasion half the negative reviews would have nothing to throw at it. I was also tempted to take a point off for the excess of emotional baggage that just happens to be thrown together, seemingly at random but really, of course, from the writers, as usual, trying to generate maximum drama. Unnecessary. The horror of the invasion, done so exquisitely well, is equal to any heightened drama we the public might require. The good news is, at least in the first series, that said high baggage drama is moved along quickly and doesn't distract from the true sci fi tension. Honestly, I wonder sometimes at TV writers, it seems they aim too high, going for two genres. In the case of War of the Worlds, given it's fast pace and high tension, the writers may just have pulled it off. There are some very scary scenes here, amid some very apocalyptic, lonely and scenic locations. Yes there are good special effects... the alien proxies are magnificent, terrifying and seen often. This is a great binge watch. Excellent cast and a brilliant idea to meld French and English, which gives the piece the air of a better and evolved European drama. I wouldn't compare it to episodic TV such as Falling Skies or The Walking Dead, but it did remind me a little of the brilliant German production 8 Days (2019), and some of the better sci fi movies. Personally I can't wait to see the second season.
The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)
If the Irish do one thing well, aside from comedy and singing, it's movies that involve their own unique culture and folklore. Roan Inish is pure charm. Perfect casting and the lead is adorable. Modern moviemakers might take note here of how they handled flash-backs, that is, succinctly and quickly. It worked a treat, and helped enrich the story. There's a cast of animals here that was also done really well. This is one of those movies that gets better as it goes along. Easily worth a 10, and I'll be recommending it to everyone. Magical!
McFarland, USA (2015)
Inspiring bio and unusual story
McFarland is a truly great feel good movie. I found it impossible not to love the characters in this. Costner is excellent in this type of role, and he doesn't disappoint here. Great script, and a wide cast, cast well. The cinematography, locations, etc, raised this piece to a solid 10. A highly interesting and unusual story represents more than just it's own glory. Fantastic movie.
Interesting story performed well
I loved Noomi Rapace in this. She was a good check on the desperation of Ethan Hawke's character. There are many great actors in this unusual drama. You could draw comparisons with Dog Day Afternoon. If you liked that movie then this one should please you, though Stockholm is far gentler, but has that same sense of humour. And it's probably true too!
The Old Guard (2020)
Solid action adventure but needed more.
I enjoyed The Old Guard, but throughout the movie I kept seeing wasted potential. This is a crew that has lived for hundreds of years, yet the script didn't really reflect that, and we relate to The Old Guard much as you would in any of a number of good-fighters-but-underdogs movies. Despite being an international adventure I found this movie just didn't capture that international panorama, and such panoramas are part of why I like such movies, as do even very old Bond movies. Maybe I'm being too harsh. I probably need to see it again.
Surprisingly engaging action thriller
If I knew nothing of Collide before I saw it, which I almost didn't, I'd have to say I'd have come away thinking I must have missed the trailer to a new action blockbuster somehow. I don't know about other reviews, but for me it was as deviously hard-pressed as any Die Hard movie, with a terrific cast giving their all. There were at least four terrific bad guys, including a superbly supercilious Anthony Hopkins and an over-the-top Ben Kingsley being almost as enjoyable as his character in Sexy Beast. The leads were awesome, their acting flawless and their characters a real spark. The story, for me, was clever and original. The dialogue was classic. But the main driver here is the action sequences. If you like cars being flipped like tiddlywinks amid screeches and bangs then Collide is a work of genius. After a wizard romantic start, I found, for me, the last two thirds of this movie to be a terrific edge-of-seat ride, and it was easily an enjoyment and well worth a 10.
Colourful engaging musical
The special effects in this were extremely well thought out, or at least talented. Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlien images are evoked. From that point I knew I'd watch all of it. Well done.
Black Water: Abyss (2020)
Highly credible croc movie
Two of the reviews I read for this movie, one before, one after, were grossly unfair, so much so I struggle to wonder if people really care what they leave online. The movie opens with a startling 'forerunner' scene, and it's chilling. There are a few minutes of getting to know the cast, then the tension begins. Black water: Abyss is well cast, and the characters aren't irritatingly teenage or immature, in fact, they are very believable. I loved the lighting. I assume in modern terms there are a number of modern lights you take into a cave system, in any case, it worked well. Creepy reflections off cavern walls perfectly highlighted the horror lurking in the pools below. The croc itself is realistic, not massive as in Rogue, but big enough, and seen pretty often. Hats off to the actual attacks. I thought that very realistic. Black Water: Abyss was, for me, a very satisfying wild creature horror experience.
You need a much more open mind, true, but a significant movie
There was a time in the 1970s when no one had heard of Kate Bush. Her music came from way outside the box, or at least it seemed so to me. In the same way Proximity is coming from outside the box, and in a good, and enjoyable, way. The story arc is very blockbuster, something I found reassuring, and although not really a blockbuster, there are easily enough decent effects to suspend belief for the duration of the movie. In fact, the ideas here were evolved. Yes, overall, with a small but well cast group of actors, relying a lot on good cinematography, there is an indie feel to this. I felt good at the end, and even laughed a little. There is a very feminine soundtrack at times, and there's no real gore. Often the sound was really well used. The pursuits were cool. Proximity certainly stayed away from a lot of abduction tropes, particularly the horror ones. I loved this sci fi original.