mraos

    Lifetime Total
    5+

Reviews

Dunkirk
(2017)

Hipsterish affectation of an "artistic" war movie.
This movie is so paper thin I really can't write much about it. So many missed opportunities in a film about one of the most spectacular and complex battles of WWII. I can see what Nolan tried to do here, a kind of British "Thin Red Line" (there's even wind in the grass, lol, i kid you not), but he failed spectacularly. There are no memorable characters to be found here, and one wonders even if there are any actual characters at all. Not one, not one of them has any semblance of a character arc. Not one. Again, I see how Nolan tried to convey the impersonality of war and insignificance of the individual but he did it with such a heavy, clumsy hand, providing us with no counterpoint with which to drive the point home. It's basic screen writing stuff really. I'd expect such ineptitude from a first year film student but not from a supposed "master of the craft".

But anyways, this could have been forgivable if the film was more about the event itself, but it fails at that too. After watching the film, you'd be given to believe that the Battle of Dunkirk was fought by three Spitfires (100 were lost over the beeches alone), 1 German heinkel, a couple of stukas, 2 destroyers or a dozen or so boats... Oh yes and maybe a few hundred men standing quietly on a beach, doing nothing except desperately trying to look morose and dejected in a faintly passive-aggressive way. It's ridiculous. We are talking about total and absolute chaos happening there, hundreds of thousands of rifles alone discarded on the beach, not to mention guns, artillery, trucks... Burning and sinking ships of all sizes all across the horizon, parts of beaches inaccessible from rotting corpses washing up with tides. This was actually way bigger than D-Day landings in terms of men and equipment stuffed in a very small patch of land. Half a million desperate men stuffed in a small town, bombarded incessantly and under constant attack from bombers. Where did all those people defecate, what did they eat ffs? I wanted to know that, really. That at least would have given some much needed humanity to the so-called-characters Nolan keeps yanking around like so much puppets. So many missed opportunities there...

If Nolan wanted to do a tight little film about isolation and desperation of being on the loosing side of the war, he had plenty of other places and battles to choose from. Just ask around. Or if he simply had to insist on Dunkirk, then we should have seen this total chaos all around our protagonists, in the background at least - that would have served as a really powerful, so desperately needed counterpoint to the individual suffering and heroism.

And this brings me to the final point. The movie is one tone only. A monotone repetition of sights and emotions we've seen and experienced before. No one cracks a joke. No one really breaks down. No one has an embarrassing moment. There are no ups and downs, it's just some morose faceless robots performing obvious actions leading towards a bleedingly obvious goal. One single emotional and narrative tone from the beginning to the end. The entire emotional and narrative content of the movie would have fit snugly into a 20 minute short, and that is pretty much how long it takes before you start yawning. The best thing that can be said about the movie is that individual scenes are well directed and worth experiencing. But that is the real problem here - the film is constructed as a series of impressive "experiences" rather than cohesive piece of drama (And this particular historical event is almost uniquely stuffed with dramatic opportunities. It's almost as if golden-age Hollywood writers wrote the script for the actual event.) In other words, it's a Dunkirk theme park rather than a movie. You take rides. And that's it. And even those become repetitive after a while.

The Thick of It
(2005)

Nigh perfect yet almost completely destroyed by moronic shakycam.
Almost perfect series almost completely destroyed by the moronic usage of shakycam that was, for some unfathomable reason, the bees knees at the time.

Whoever had the bright idea that shaking the camera like you've got seizures is in any way going to contribute to the "immediacy" of what is being shown? Jeez, when I take home videos with my phone it certainly doesn't look like that - this just looks like someone is deliberately flailing the camera about because it is "cool". It just distracting to the level that makes the show almost unwatchable. What a terrible terrible pity because otherwise this is a tremendous series on all levels... just made almost unwatchable because of some stupid fad.

Excalibur
(1981)

The most "epic" movie ever made.
This is the definition of "epic" in its pure unadulterated, unabashed form. Completely free of any hipsterish irony, autoreferential postmodernist bs or anything else besides the epic script, epic visuals, epic music and, most of all, epic performances.

This film hasn't aged a day since it was made and is truly timeless. You might not find it to your taste, but this film goes beyond such temporal things as "taste". Anyone who is serious about studying film or is attempting to inject the sense of archetypal timelessness into his creation should watch this film many, many times.

A 10/10, straight into "top 10 of all times" category. If there were only 10 films in the history of the cinema I was allowed watch during my lifetime, or if I had to choose which ten films I could save from the holocaust, Boorman's Excalibur would definitely be one of them.

I'm Alan Partridge
(1997)

Brilliant but...
It is absolutely brilliant but one thing totally kills it.

Canned laughter.

The series affects reality/documentary style and the horrible canned laughter is so cringe worthy I actually found myself gritting my teeth.

If there is a re-release of the series, PLEASE remove this utter horror. Without it, it would be nigh perfect. Really I can't concentrate on the dialogue because of it. It is truly terrible.

It works perfectly for Monty Python's obviously staged tableau spoofs. It even works for say, Fawlty Towers which is really a filmed theatrical production in its essence.

It simply DOES NOT WORK for I'm Alan Partridge!

Utopia
(2013)

Malthus would be proud...
Trite Malthusian BS propaganda.

It is incredible how what is, in reality, an empirically discredited and morally odious pseudo-scientific philosophy is presented as some kind of "profound question" facing humanity. While, to be fair, it is the bad guys who are carrying on the malthusian agenda, the very thought that their arguments are considered valid enough to be "controversial" and considered seriously by the protagonists makes my skin crawl with revulsion. Also, the originator of this "brilliant concept" is presented as a genius, someone who can see what we others are incapable of.. which leads more credence to the idea which, when you look at it more closely, is utterly and totally discredited both by historical precedent and pure basic logic. In other words, it is something stupid, given credence by being presented by someone labeled "genius." It is not profound, it is simply stupid.

Malthus was wrong in 18th century and modern malthusians are wrong now. It is nothing more than appalling misantrophy with genocidal overtones masking itself as some kind of altruistic cause. Hitler was also doing it for the "good" of the race, you know. And there is absolutely nothing to justify either philosophy - they are both equally morally repugnant and, even maybe even more important, logically suspect and scientifically dubious to say the least. I won't go into lengthy refutations of malthusianism because there's plenty of them around, from both philosophical and empirical standpoinds (according to good ole malthus, we're all supposed to be dead by now and for a long time at that).

Otherwise the series is well done, but the seeming fetish on torture (seemingly the only answer to pretty much any conflict) and the trite premise trying to pass for profundity mar it irrevocably.

Battlestar Galactica
(2004)

"Superstitious drivel. Metaphysical nonsense."
You know there is something wrong when you keep rooting for the bad guys. Not because they're so cool but because the protagonists are so annoying it makes your teeth ache.

  • "Superstitious drivel. Metaphysical nonsense." - Plot holes you could drive a cylon battlestar trough - culturally so US-centric it makes your head hurt - on that note, it seems a lot of it has to do with playing out traumas, neuroses and fears stemming from 9/11 - did I mention plot holes? - looks dated after just 10 years - the ridiculous and completely unmotivated shakycam might have something to do with it - silly "let's syfy this a bit" details like octogonal sheets of paper (what?!? who changed the laws of mathematics in that particular galaxy far far away?) - that god this god that thing is really annoying - most professional characters behave extremely unprofessionally, particularly regarding politics and military matters, as well as exhibiting appalling lapses of reason just to push the plot along - soap opera effect - let's milk it for all its worth, stretching plot to infinity and filling up episodes with all the standard situations (a prison riot, gimme a break) just to make it last as long as possible - utter lack of any humor, except in the nutty professor bit and i'm not certain that is intentional. Really guys, humor is an integral part of human experience and people under stress do tend to resort to it a relief. The dead serious tension all the way makes the whole thing less realistic and therefore less tense in the whole. - what's with the awful women vailing main theme? - did i mention the shakycam? - "Superstitious drivel. Metaphysical nonsense." (dr Gaius Whatshisname S01E07)


On a positive note, Olmos is great and older actors in general are at least decent. The young guns... not so much. But they do look good! Set design, effects and photography is OK when it is not ruined by that godawful shakycam (I mean what gives?).

So... 6/10. Not something I can watch anytime and it felt more like work than entertainment. The effort of figuratively holding my nose in order to concentrate on the main plot line (which is intriguing) made this a bit exhausting to watch. So.. meh. See it if you're intrigued by various sci-fi scenarios and want to explore this one which is of some cultural significance. I'd prefer a book though, at least no one would be shaking it in front of my eyes while I read it.

The Brink
(2015)

21st century Dr. Strangelove
Brilliant. A thinking man's geopolitical thriller, Dr. Strangelove updated for 21st century audiences and media.

A word of warning: although this is labeled as a "comedy", more accurate description would be "a farce". Its attitude towards factual reality it conveys is more akin to that of Blackadder for example than, say, Tropical Thunder. Weirdness and over-the-top exaggerations abound but the underlying "feel of the times" is absolutely rock hard solid. Dr. Strangelove for 21st century indeed.

All 10 out of 10 stars from me. The series is taking a mickey out of everybody with wonderfully reckless abandon, the one liners as well as plot structure are a wonder to behold, acting top-notch, action and effects, music and photography up to HBO's recent very high standards.. The only valid complaint anyone could care to make is about a few technical simplifications which would otherwise rile the hell out of a military tech buff like me but they're all very well justified by the need to keep the plot flowing smoothly and therefore can be tolerated in the light of benefits gained. Also, go easy with the first pilot episode, things take some time to get rolling into full speed (tempo, tempo!) and don't take every stereotypical character for granted, it is there for a reason.

Again, 10/10 for the complete first season. We'll see how it goes from here, although I'd say everything's that had to be said is already there so I'm not sure a 2nd season would work as well. Although I'd love to revisit the characters and I really can't get enough of their "stuff" maybe it would be best to leave this brilliant little diamond as perfect as it is.

p.s. ("You no have weed?" ahhahhahah! "You no have weed?" ahhahhahha!)

Starship Troopers
(1997)

Verhoeven's masterpiece
A fantastically subversive film. Definitely the pinnacle of Verhoeven's career. You are never sure whether he exalts or damns the jingoistic fascism so very accurately represented in this movie... Oh heck, he does present it in a seductive way.. but that is precisely the answer to the question why young folk do have this need to "join up" in order to butcher and get butchered - the siren song of blood and soil. War as a concept is fun - it is exciting, glorious and it gives us meaning: the good and the bad guys! However its other face is the lowest level of physical and moral Hell - "It is afraid.".. brilliant.

Hats off to Verhoeven. He manages to be painfully critical and yet respectful to foibles of human nature at the very same time. If you want to know what made Hitlerjugend or any other army (bulk of which is invariably composed of men too young to know any better) tick then see this movie. The beauty of the inhumane beast that is war is almost too painful to watch - the innocence and beauty of youth made scintillating by the utter inhuman annihilation of it... and that is just on one level of this masterful satire.

Many critics point out that the message is not clear enough for a satire but if Verhoeven stooped to portraying this fascist society in an overtly negative light without any redeeming qualities then it would have become exactly a bland and unconvincing tool of propaganda that he so relentlessly attacks in this film. Many satires fall flat on their face because they present their subject in an overly negative light. What is most disturbing in ST is that we actually do root for the "good guys" and understand why this society became what it is... it makes us understand the lure of militarism on a visceral level and a lot of people used to black/white thinking may find this unbearable. The movie is not trying to sell you its viewpoint or a "message".. beneath its intentionally carnivalesque shoot-em-up exterior it is coldly analytical to the level of being painful - which explains the high incidence hysterical laughter i noticed in the audience reacting to its many over the top moments, both in terms of gore and story.

Verhoeven at his very, very best.

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