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Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

It may not be objective, but at least it'll make you think.
This is one of the most interesting shows I've ever seen. OK, so the portrayal of some of the issues is a bit biased, and it does descend into ad-hominem with worrying frequency, but it gets two very important things right: it's thought-provoking, and it's funny. So, although many of the arguments given seem watertight enough to me, if it's a fair and rigorous exploration of the issues that you're after, you're going to be disappointed; however, if you want to be introduced to new, intellectually-stimulating topics in an entertaining way then it's just what you're looking for. Oh, and they do have a talent for picking the funniest nutters imaginable when they're choosing their interview-fodder.

Fucking Åmål

Saw it two days ago, still can't forget it.
Wow... I usually hate romance movies but this one was fantastic! For a start it's totally devoid of Hollywood-style mush and "swelling strings" music. It's very down-to-earth, with a (for once!) realistic portrayal of teenage life, and believable, interesting characters. The acting ranges from good to stunning, Liljeberg giving the best performance I've seen...well, ever (it doesn't hurt that she's very pretty too). And it's very refreshing to see a film about lesbians that doesn't sensationalise the topic.

A great feelgood movie, with just enough grittiness to stop me feeling sick like I do in so many US (and British) films. As soon as it finished I legged it downstairs to order the DVD (not available in the UK! WHY??!!).


Just thought I'd add yet another good review
OK, first of all this film does have flaws. It's sometimes overly sentimental and has very little philosophical depth. However, that's not a problem if you rate it as what it is - an epic hollywood-style adventure which is more about thrill than thought. It looks fantastic, with beautiful backdrops, some good (and sparing) use of CGI and that great stylized almost-but-not-quite-fluid animation that marks good anime apart from western animation. The storyline is engaging, and the characters likeable. Plus, it features battle sequences on a par with (or...dare I say it... more exciting than) Fellowship Of The Ring for sheer style and pace.

The english dub is pretty good, which makes a change, with all the actors seeming quite believable. The musical score is effective, though sometimes it veers into what my A-level film teacher called 'emotional fascism', i.e. it can be a little TOO overwhelming which won't appeal to those who don't like having their feelings dictated to them. On the whole, I'd give it...ohhhh...alright then, 9 out of 10.

Minority Report

Flawed almost-masterpiece
I really liked this film. Though it can't match Blade Runner for mixing stunning sci-fi locations and gadgetry with intellectual muscle, it at least has a good shot at being clever and thought-provoking whilst remaining accessible and exciting.

As you'd expect from Dick, the plot is heavily focused on the idea of personal privacy and how far the government should be allowed to intrude on people's lives. The first half has a few scenes which contain some interesting metaphysics and good dialogue.

The second half loses this, which is unfortunate, and instead turns into a fairly standard and predictable but very well-made action thriller. The chase sequences are smart and exciting, the special effects range from very good to stunning, and the pacing is about right. The plot twists and turns pretty nicely, with a few moments of real unpredictability, though as I said most of it is pretty predictable. It's mostly free of the kind of vomit-inducing sentimentality that ruined AI, though Spielberg's new-found grit and dark sense of humour do waver a bit towards the end.

The acting's solid and the script tight and mostly believable, so all in all I'd say this is certainly worth watching and I'll probably buy the DVD.


Pretty unintelligible but still worth it
This is, frankly, a bit of a narrative mess. It's nice to see a film that tries to take on several different plotlines that run almost independent of each other, however there is a reason why most other filmmakers haven't tried this approach: it doesn't work very well. Even with Figgis' inspired use of split-screen action it is simply too hard to follow, and seems to meander aimlessly around with no apparent message or goal in mind.

Luckily, I just finished a Film Studies course which included surrealism, so I'm just about able to look past narrative into other areas of the film, and they fare much better. The digital visual effects, such as split-screen and that strobe-like effect where everything is jerky, could have resulted in sub-MTV pretentiousness but thankfully they're used in such a way as to enhance the effect of certain scenes (witness Salma Hayek creeping around in night-vision). The soundtrack is also excellent, with a good assortment of appropriate music which always seems to serve a purpose rather than simply filling up 'dead air' as in so many other movies. The strong cast all put in good performances and considering a lot of the film was part-improvised, the action flows very naturally.

So, worth a look. I won't be buying the DVD but I did record it onto tape tonight and I'll probably watch it again, if only to see if I can make some sense of the plot.

Day of the Dead

Really boring
This is an incredibly boring movie. The first hour is relentlessly talky. This would be OK if the characters were interesting, but they're not - they're a bunch of stereotypes. The acting is never very good, and the script is strangely bad considering the high-quality screenplay of Dawn. The story is boring, and the setting even more so. The Special FX deserve an award but I'm afraid that they're the only good thing about the film. Even the "comedy" character, Bub the Zombie, isn't funny. Utter rubbish.


It pays to see it twice
I bought the DVD (an older one, not the one that's been referred to here) of this ages ago, watched it once, got bored and didn't watch it for months. Then I shoved it in my player the other night because I had nothing better to do and I have to say it has improved immeasurably the second time around. This is mainly because I was aware that it had a confusing plot which I'd previously decided made no sense, so I wasn't focussing on that aspect of the film this time around. Instead I noticed the really effective musical score, one of the best I've heard, and the excellent cinematography/lighting which give the film a very tense and quite frightening atmosphere. The acting isn't so good and the dialogue in one mercifully short early scene (where two characters meet before the funeral that sparks the plot off) borders on C-movie-style contrivedness, but overall it's an enjoyable flick with plenty of memorable sequences and a sense of pace and enthusiasm last seen in The Evil Dead.

La bête

Worth seeing if you like being shocked
To be honest, I didn't think this film had much (if any) artistic merit. It all seemed like an excuse to show lots of really perverse porno scenes. That said, it does have a high degree of shock value (especially if you're used to British censorship, and have a reasonable imagination), so for odd people like me who will happily watch a film simply in order to be amazed and revolted, it's worth seeing. It does also have some camp value, with ropy costumes and some truly silly moments (oral sex with a bear, anyone?).

The Matrix

Very overrated
A few weeks ago I took my Matrix DVD out of my collection and, because I was bored, decided to ring up my mate and tell him that either he takes it off me or I burn it. I had the matches ready and everything, and would have conducted a fascinating experiment into the effect of touching a DVD with a naked flame had he not agreed to let me give it to him. I kid you not.

This film is the worst waste of twenty quid I have ever bought. The psuedo-intelectual claptrap ("Hey, what if the world isn't real after all"???? Yawn, like I didn't already think of that when I was about five years old) is used to cover the fact that the main characters and large chunks of the plot were obviously, ahem, "influenced by" William Gibson's classic pulp-sci-fi tale 'Neuromancer', ie. they are largely identical (including the role of each character within the narrative) but have had their names or skin colour changed.

The visuals are quite pretty but again are totally lacking in innovation except for the 'Bullet Time' gimmick, which is fun to watch but not as impressive as had been made out. At least it wasn't over-used. Then we move onto the acting: Fishburne is fine, as is Moss, but Keanu drags the film into new depths of rubbishness with his trademark lack of emotion or even the slightest indication of sentience, ruining some lines that should sound great. Finally, the action sequences are well-choreographed but somehow seem flat, as if the pacing is a little off.

I won't be going to see the sequels.

The Wicker Man

Excellent... a hundred films all in one
The thing that really strikes me about The Wicker Man is the way that it can be viewed in so many ways. Depending on how you look at it, it can be a horror film, a culture-shock drama, an anti-religious film, a pro-christian film, a musical, even a pro-pagan film, and I'm sure it can be many more things to many different people. Personally, I see it as an anti-religious culture-shock drama musical ;-)

The music is sublime, giving a really thick and authentic-seeming (though I can't vouch for it, not having been to many remote scottish islands) atmosphere, the performances are fantastic, Britt Ekland is as nice as ever and her nudey bits manage to seem artistic and erotic rather than pornographic. The ending is the single most memorable one I've ever seen. All in all, an astonishing masterpiece - excuse me while I go order the DVD (which is not the long Channel 4 print, which I personally favour, but still its well worth the money).


Great animation and not as confusing as many say
The most striking thing about Akira is the superb animation, which is full of detail and is surprisingly smooth considering that this is an Anime. The sound is also very impressive, being extremely powerful and emotive at times.

I can't understand why people find this film so confusing (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!).

It's simple: There's this supernatural force called Akira (named after the boy who first possessed it), and it's been discovered by the japanese government. They are running secret tests on individuals to see if they can create a kind of human superweapon. Tetsuo, who is already pretty annoyed at the world, is tested on but the test is too successful, resulting in an extremely bitter young man with the power to destroy whole bridges with his mind. Then he slowly self-destructs until the finale, where his power overtakes him and he goes into oblivion(?). Sure it's fairly complex but it ain't THAT bad!

So, overall, I give Akira 9/10


One of my favourites
I was lucky enough to catch this on TV the other night and it's left a huge impression on me. Until then, I had only been truly scared by two films - The Haunting (1963) and The Woman In Black. This one makes it three. There's very little violence, no gore that I can remember, and no sex - because this is a film that doesn't need to rely on cheap shocks and titillation to be frightening. The build-up of suspense is masterfully handled, helped enormously by the likeable main characters who you really do feel sympathy for. The use of sound is the most effective since Suspiria, and to top it all there's the joint-scariest ending that I have ever witnessed.

The Ice Storm

Thought-provoking and engrossing
First off, a warning: The Ice Storm is not a happy film. It has some nice comedic moments, but overall it's dour and depressing. In short, it's normally the kind of film I'd hate, yet I don't.

The most striking aspect of the movie is the fantastic acting. All the cast give great performances, especially the rather lovely Christina Ricci as a sexually curious 14-year-old.

On top of this, the script is solid and occasionally, as I said, thought-provoking, and the look and feel of the film is (as far as I can tell) very accurate to the period in which it is set. The plot moves along quickly enough and the climactic ice storm is visually stunning. However, the film does occasionally lapse into melodrama, but luckily those moments are few and far between.

So... 9 out of 10.

The Virgin Suicides

Not as clever as it thinks it is
Having seen this film I am left with the impression that the people involved really thought they were doing something new and clever. Well I hate to disappoint them, but they failed miserably. The film says nothing about teenage life that hasn't been said, in just the same stereotyped way, dozens if not hundreds of times before in other movies. Add to that the fact that the characters are barely even one-dimensional, and you have a pretty poor film. The photography is occasionally inspired, and the acting solid, but overall this film should be avoided if possible.


Probably the best kids' show ever
I loved this show when I was younger. It was one of the few kids' gameshows that has every been even vaguely taxing on the brain, featuring some reasonably complex puzzles and a lot of tricky (and very tense) timing exercises. It had fantastic visuals for the time, making use of a lot of bluescreen effects. And on top of all that it had a genuinely creepy atmosphere - something that I've never seen in any childrens' show. I'm nearly seventeen now, and if it was repeated on TV (or, even better, they made a new series of it) I would definitely throw style and social acceptance to the wind and make sure to tune in.

Armstrong and Miller

Absolutely hilarious
This is certainly one of the funniest comedy shows I've ever seen, right up there with The Fast Show and The League Of Gentlemen. The sketches are consistently hilarious and often give me shooting-pains in my sides - both Armstrong and Miller are comedy geniuses in terms of both writing and acting, and are well supported by various actors including the gorgeous Sarah Alexander. I hope there are plenty more series still to come. The kids' TV parodies are particularly sharp and witty.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I saw this show round a mate's house and I was almost offended by it's sacreligious treatment of the excellent radio play and books. The writing was fine, as was the acting but the whole image of the thing was totally wrong IMHO. Since when was Trillian a dizzy blonde bimbo? And the special effects were awful (I'm sure they were very good when it was made, but they really should have hung on a while until they could do it properly). I advise everyone to stick with the radio play (it has most of the same actors, except that the guy who plays Ford is different and much much better than the one in the TV series), and the books. After all, the radio version is basically the same thing except that you can imagine your own images to go with it, which is altogether much more satisfying.


This really is a dreadful adventure game. The graphics may be nice, in a sort of computer-generated-postcard way, but the actual gameplay is extremely tedious. Most are just logic puzzles. Seeing as the game has so much graphical imagination, how come the puzzles are so boring? I guess if you like The 7th Guest and all those other awful "Interactive Movies" then you'll love this. But if you're a Monkey Island fan like me, then steer well clear, unless you have a thing for counting marker switches.


Very good
This is a very well-made film. While the script maybe a little lacking, the strength of the performances and the superbly stylish visuals more than make up. I agree that the plot is a bit thin but if you go into the theatre expecting simply to be thoroughly entertained for just over two hours then you won't be dissapointed. Oh, and for the record it isn't really all that gory so don't worry if you're a bit squeamish, there are only a couple of short sequences (plus a rather longer one at the end) that might turn your stomach but for the most part it's blood-free.

The Lord of the Rings

Watch it and judge for yourself...
There are lots of people who hate this movie, and then there are quite a lot of others like me who really like it. I suggest that anyone who's read the books should get hold of it (not an easy task these days) and make up their own mind. I personally think that it is a great film, with some fantastic animation, great performances and buckets of atmosphere. OK so it stops halfway, but it wasn't the filmmakers' fault - they ran out of cash I seem to remember. Overall I liked it, but it isn't for everyone especially people who want to see a film that stays 100% (or even 90%) true to the books as a lot of events are missed out.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Pretty good
This movie is pretty good as long as you don't try to think about it too much. Yes, it's flawed and yes the plot/characters are awful but still it's entertaining and worth renting. Much better on a big screen than on telly though.

Time Gentlemen Please

Refreshingly non-P.C
The sheer amount of racism, sexism and general bigotry in this series is unbelievable - and it's all the better for it. Other shows water down their comedy to make it "acceptable", but this one doesn't bother and is absolutely hilarious. Great performances and some great lines.

The Haunting

A fear of the unknown is so much scarier...
This is the joint scariest movie I've ever seen, along with The Woman In Black. It's absolutely terrifying. The idea of an unknown spiritual force is a lot scarier than some maniac killer from a slasher film. Anyone who complains that you never see the ghosts is missing the point - this movie isn't about cheap shocks, it's about inch-thick suspense and brilliantly creepy moments. On top of the fear factor, the acting is great, as is the direction and photography. See it.

Day of the Dead

Really boring
This is an incredibly boring movie. The first hour is relentlessly talky. This would be OK if the characters were interesting, but they're not - they're a bunch of stereotypes. The acting is never very good, and the script is strangely bad considering the high-quality screenplay of Dawn. The story is boring, and the setting even more so. The Special FX deserve an award but I'm afraid that they're the only good thing about the film. Even the "comedy" character, Bub the Zombie, isn't funny. Utter rubbish.

The Omen

You don't need to be religious
Despite what others say, you really don't need to be religious to enjoy this movie. I've never been religious but I'd still count this as one of the creepiest films I've seen. For me, it wasn't the idea of the Antichrist that was scary, it was the film's freaky atmosphere. It made me look over my shoulder every time I got up to go to the toilet - it's one of those films that freaks you out. I suppose it does help that I'm scared of dogs, and that I think graveyards are the worst places to be. However I recommend anyone see this film.

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