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Tinker Bell

If Thomas Kinkade made an animated film, this would be it
My toddlers who are two and three love this movie, but it's so packed with kitsch that I can't bear to watch it.

It's cloyingly sweet all the way through, reminds me of Thomas Kinkade paintings.

I can't imagine it's good for little minds to form their visual taste on this kind of cheesy junk.

I'm just surprised a respectable actress like Anjelica Houston would associate herself with such a project, but it makes sense that it went straight to DVD. Let that be a lesson to me never to buy straight-to-DVD anything in future.

Napoleon Dynamite

Unconvincing and inaccurate portrayal of nerds
The premise of this movie has fine potential: illustrate the boring lives of boring, nerdy people. Unfortunately, the whole thing is done rather amateurishly and exaggeratedly, and subtleties are ignored. The costumes were particularly amateurish and reminded me of the way people dress at Halloween when they want to look like nerds: late Seventies-style polyester everything. Well, the movie is set in the current time, and certainly nerds today look nothing like these people. For one, nobody wears a mustache any more. If anything, you wear facial hair if you're cool, not vice versa. Today you'd really have to search hard to be able to buy the glasses frames the main characters wear. They would have had to inherit them from their parents or something.

In order to achieve comic effect when you're working with this type of non-story line, the acting has to be so good that you don't notice it at all. So good that you'd imagine these were real people filmed by hidden camera. Here it's nothing of the sort.

If you've seen the original English TV series 'The Office' and then compared it to the American version, you'd know what I mean. The comedy relies entirely on very subtle stuff, which is pulled off beautifully by the superb actors in the English series. The inferior American cast unfortunately ruins the job.

House of Sand and Fog

Serious suspension of disbelief needed for this one!
I had problems with this movie right from the start: I wasn't convinced in just about anything it was telling me. As all the other negative reviews here have said, the story is incredibly contrived, so no matter how good Ben Kingsley was it didn't help.

I found most characters quite one-dimensional and unengaging.

In addition to the hard-to-swallow plot and motivation, the production was odd, even careless:

1. I couldn't tell whether the events were occurring over a number of months - so it looked - or a number of days - so it transpired.

2. I couldn't tell what season it was - it all looked rather glum and autumnal yet we were to believe it was about spring time or summer (at the start of the story the policeman character says to the Connelly character to dress lightly as it was going to be a hot day; we then see her crossing the street a little later on an obviously windy and overcast day).

3. I couldn't tell what period it was set in - the policeman drives an oddly small and European-like car, and the Ben Kingsley character drives an oldfashioned Mercedes sedan (maybe because he can't afford better?), the house prices are oddly low, and smoking is still permitted in California restaurants, yet the Jennifer Connelly character wears contemporary hair, makeup and clothes and her eyebrows aren't Seventies style, and the policeman boyfriend also wears contemporary hair and sideburns.

4. It was unclear how long the Iranian family had been in the States: the son spoke fluent English with an American accent, the father spoke fluent English with an Iranian accent and an occasional grammar slip (awfully contrived, I thought), and the mother spoke English at times reasonably fluently and at times strangely poorly: "Excuse for me" instead of "Excuse me" yet understood the term 'deported'. In fact she sort of created a caricature of an immigrant's poor English.

5. I didn't understand how the income from two minimum wage jobs could support a lavish wedding for hundreds of guests, and years of a luxury lifestyle in a high-end condo building. Anyone who thinks this is possible need only read "Nickel and Dimed" and they'll be set straight. Besides, those guests at the wedding: aren't they demonstration that this family is quite connected to the well-heeled Iranian community? Wouldn't that imply that better-than-minimum-wage jobs would be available to the father to choose from? All those issues aside, though, I most of all had problems with the characters' motivation. It didn't make sense to me that the father who was the picture of responsibility would sooner blow his income on a luxury rental apartment than save for his son's college education. Supposedly it was to keep the wife happy. But when he broke it to her that they were moving, she threw a mini-tantrum and then accepted her lot quite readily, just like any obedient Middle-Eastern wife is expected to.

The son, who is nothing if not meek throughout the movie, suddenly turns into an action hero in the end. Completely out of the blue, we are supposed to believe this to be possible? Then there's the gun: when Connelly's character tries to commit suicide, repeatedly firing, the gun seems empty, yet when we see the charger in the next scene it's full and the policeman boyfriend in fact puts it back in the gun which he then uses to threaten the family.

Of course my biggest issues are with the Connelly character's motivations. We're told she's too depressed to open her mail yet upon being evicted she does take the trouble to go to court to submit a sworn statement, only to then fail to open her mail once again. (Doesn't that kind of mail require a signature upon receipt anyway?) This from someone who is willing to take her own life if she wasn't going to get that house??? And then when she's finally offered money for the house, she says it's wrong and refuses to come to an agreement that would totally resolve the conflict to everyone's satisfaction.

It's hard to understand how this ended up getting nominated for an Oscar. And obviously, why an actor of Kingsley's stature would take a job like this remains a mystery that may never be resolved.


How this junk got onto the festival circuit is a mystery to me!
You know how bad porn movie acting is? Well, this is porn movie acting, minus the lighting, and I should say minus the plot too.

At least in a porn movie you know what motivates the characters. Here even that is missing. I am baffled how they managed to get into film festivals with this piece of junk. If you think porn is groundbreaking then this movie is groundbreaking.

And I should add that I am not faint of heart, and in fact will take a thought-provoking, even harrowing film any day over mainstream Hollywood pap (that's why I picked this at the video store in the first place), but trust me, you don't want to see this. There is simply nothing worth watching in this movie.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1

A video game come-to-life
I enjoyed the first hour and a half of this film and then suddenly, as the violence escalated, I just found myself getting sleepy.

The film's fighting sequences are a near exact copy of those in the X-box games my husband likes to play - with the characters dressed in fighter outfits the player can select: the geisha in white, the Japanese schoolgirl, the head-to-toe yellow leather jumpsuit, the black suit with the eye mask... The blood spurting like a fountain out of the cut limbs, the large room in which the fight happens - all taken out of the games... This makes the fighting the most original you've seen in movies so far, but it works for the first hour and a half, as I said, and then the joke grows stale...

Oh, and the film is very self-referential: you'll recognize the funny Tarantino signatures from the other movies he's made, particularly Pulp Fiction - the square drawn in the air, Uma Thurman waking up out of a coma with a start, absurdly silly dialogue (cold-blooded killers calling each other 'bunny rabbit')...

Before this movie started, several trailers were shown, among them one for the latest Leslie Nielsen spoof, with some really funny references to other movies, as usual.

Well, the Tarantino film that followed had that feeling of a spoof, probably because the plot was pretty irrelevant, and I realised Tarantino is no longer an original genius, he's lost his touch for the original, he can now only do derivative stuff.

Which is a shame, because we've reached the point where nobody can make an action movie any more that is compelling enough for an adult audience.

Swimming Pool

Lots of layers, lovely photography, excellent acting
This film is not going to do too well in the States, that much is clear. For two reasons: (a) because its beautiful photography of France (was it sponsored by the French Tourism Board??) is badly timed in the current political climate; and (b) because it does not borrow ideas from Hollywood on how to tell a murder story.

It moves languidly, gently sucking the viewer into the narrative. I wouldn't like to give anything away, so instead I will give you some questions to ask yourselves when you see the film (I know it'll sound like high school but it'll really help you see the many layers in this story):

  • What is the relationship between the writer and her publisher?

  • What does the plot do for that relationship?

  • What is the attitude of the writer towards young people? What is the relationship between the girl and the writer? How does it change in the story? How is that demonstrated visually?

  • Why does the girl have the relationship with men that she does?

  • Why does the girl cooperate with the writer when she discovers what the writer is up to?

  • What kind of changes does the writer herself experience in the course of the film? Watch what she's eating and drinking...

Definitely a film that will make you think... And possibly make you wish you had a house in the French countryside yourself!

Buffalo '66

Truly superb, if you get it you will adore it
I didn't really know who Vincent Gallo was before seeing this film, I didn't know about the film at all.

It was pure delight from start to finish. My husband and I became huge Gallo fans after seeing this! He did just about everything in it, from composing the music, to writing the screenplay and directing it, and even doing the vocals on some of the tracks!

It was hilarious and moving at the same time. I particularly loved the fashion aspect (Gallo has such a confident, hip and unique dress sense). The dialogue was so cleverly written it might have been a transcription of actual conversations - with all the repetition and redundancy that happens in real life and never in movies.

The human behaviour too could have been directly transposed from real life, with all the mind-changing and seemingly illogical acts that we do and that frustrate the people around us till they are able to understand what motivates us.

Gallo has so much charisma you can't but sympathise, even though his character is obnoxious and deliberately tries to make everyone dislike him. Christina Ricci is excellent, she really won my respect in this film.

Buffalo 66 is probably my favourite film of all time, along with Van Trier's Breaking the Waves. A tiny little minus goes to Anjelica Houston who was perhaps a little unconvincing. I can understand that though, she's been in Hollywood too long to be natural any more.

One Hour Photo

Predictable Hollywood, again
Others have said it, I just want to add my vote: this is predictable Hollywood rubbish. Please please stop making movies for the teen demographic, there are others out here! Admittedly this one is directed at the teen who considers him/her self intelligent (but isn't especially).

Bowling for Columbine

Required viewing for all persons with right to vote in America
Very important documentary. If you have the right to vote in the USA, then you should consider it your civic duty to see this film.

It discusses in direct, funny, painful ways an issue that no responsible citizen should allow themselves not to be informed about. Please go and see it.

Austin Powers in Goldmember

Better than first two, heavy on teen humour (toilet and sex)
I don't usually go to see disposable movies but went to this with friends because they had free tickets. It was very funny, and almost instantly forgotten.

I did see both of the previous Austin Powers movies on video and found them lukewarm, so this one was a definite improvement in just how funny it was.

As I said in the subject, lots of teen humour in this one, really gross on purpose, will make you laugh but not in a terribly satisfying way.

Pay to see it if you're under 23, otherwise go if you have two hours to kill and free tickets.


Brilliant execution of a story seen before
How many truly new stories does Hollywood produce these days? Not that many, really, if you think about it. I've walked out of the cinema bored stiff time and again, yet here for once I really enjoyed a film, even though I could have guessed what was coming next in the story.

The fact is that this one is really well made. It grips you from the first instant and you're watching all the time feeling sorry it'll have to be over eventually.

From the extremely convincing art direction - the late Sixties and Seventies (and some Eighties) outfits and hairdos, and more importantly, everything looking like those old photos, the colours somewhat too bright, to the pervasive hedonism of the period, it's all recreated there, and you just really enjoy seeing it done so well, the acting brilliant all the way.

The characters start out as likeable and believable, you want them to succeed because they look so innocent and genuinely happy.

I am not a huge fan of Johnny Depp but he was perfect here. He has this childlike joy about him as he counts the big bucks, you can't help but emphathise!

Franka Potente of Run Lola Run fame has a great part in the first half of the movie, another reason I loved watching the film.

Penelope Cruz isn't all pretty either, you watch her transition from glamour wife to nag, just like George's mother had been, and she executes with great talent.

The story is genuinely moving, and believe me, the standard Hollywood tear-jerkers only put me off, this one isn't like that.

Here's a film I'm actually going to go out and buy on DVD.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

I must have fallen asleep about five times during this film, and would have had a nice nap if my husband hadn't kept waking me up. I have never before fallen asleep in the cinema, so this tells you just how dull this film is.

I should add that I am a thirty year old female who doesn't know Tolkien's work, and who likes independent film.

This movie appears to be targeting a teen audience whose main interest is in fast action and lots of special effects. None of which I care for, simply because the story needs to be believable to start with, and the special effects not an end in themselves.

I only went to see this because I wanted to hang out with friends, and this was a sacrifice I felt I could make. I was so pleased when it was over that I applauded, and the applause spread very weakly through the theatre. Clearly, few people were enchanted.

Nothing about this movie will stay with me, least of all the boring Enya music.

Diamond Men

Enjoyable, but forgettable
I went to see this film for two reasons: one, because I stupidly thought it was a Coen brother who directed it (wonder how many people made the same mistake!), and two, because the reviews I read said it was a small film. I generally end up being disappointed by big films, so I thought let's try this.

It was enjoyable, indeed, as everyone has already said, but I look for more than just entertainment in a film.

This one had a predictable story, and what kept me watching were the likeable characters, who unfortunately got a tad bit too likeable towards the second half of the film.

I enjoyed watching it, but wouldn't see it again. Go and see something more challenging instead, like Buffalo 66.

Breaking the Waves

My favourite film of all time
This film is absolutely stunning. I loved every minute of it, the superb acting, the beautiful, touching story, the humour, the brilliant directing, the convincing way this extraordinary story was made believable.

If I had any doubts about this film being utterly wonderful - and I did not - the ending dispelled them altogether. What a brilliant, brilliant ending!

After this film, all others pale in comparison. I have been one unhappy cinema-goer ever since, and I don't mind! (Except for the odd surprises, like Happiness, Festen, and Dancer in the Dark.)

You've Got Mail

I've been there and IT'S not like this
I met my husband online four years ago, in a chatroom, in a fabuolous whirlwind romance, and when we heard of "You've Got Mail" we were both curious to see 'our story' on the big screen. But the fact that this was a Hanks/Ryan movie meant we didn't actually watch it till it was out on video and we got desperately short of other choices.

And unsurprisingly, it was interminable, boring, unexciting, slow, unromantic and unreal. Everything our own experience was not. The urgency of our need to communicate totally passes by the authors of this movie. My husband and I would spend entire nights chatting, exchange 60 emails a day, run home to the computer to look for more messages after we'd been out, spend sleepless nights when we were apart, dream only of the moment when it would be possible to meet in person at last (we were on opposite sides of the pond), and when the internet connection was slow call each other on the phone for hours. Plus send each other faxes and snail mail every single day till we finally were united.

We've met other people with similar experiences to ours, and the lightning speed with which romantic online relationships develop seems to be common to us all.

It's clear to me what this movie is about: exploiting the apparent success of the oh-so-uninteresting Ryan/Hanks love stories of the past. The internet romance was just a vehicle to bring these two together on the screen one more time. Whoever wrote the script has no idea what they were talking about.

I wouldn't have bothered writing a review for a movie this inferior, but felt compelled because I've been there and I know it's nothing like this.

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