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Reviews

My Big Fat Greek Wedding
(2002)

What Is So Difficult To Understand Here?
I see what some reviewers have said about this film. The jokes are repetitive and Toula's family is populated by walking caricatures and stereotypes, but I think these things are wholly deliberate.

Families do have jokes that are repeated and repeated, so the 'everything is cured by Windex' and the 'every word has a Greek origin' jokes are made time after time for a good reason.

The caricatures, similarly, are there for a reason, and that reason is that this is a comedy. The characters are stereotypical, clichéd and charicaturish for comic effect.

Other than that, this is a very light and fluffy film, but, since when has that necessarily been a negative? I think that, sometimes we need light and fluffy, and with this particular dollop of light and fluffy Nia Vardalos has given us a real gem, one that it is nigh impossible not to smile at.

Kramer vs. Kramer
(1979)

A Thoughtful, Touching Drama
When it was first released, the subject matter of Kramer Vs. Kramer was not as commonplace as it is today, and so there was some shock value in it. As a viewer today, since something like fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, that shock, small as it was, has now completely disappeared. Maybe that's lost the film a sliver of its power, but, there is still enough here to make it compelling.

The performances of Hoffman and Streep are utterly brilliant, conveying comprehensively the raw emotion involved in such a set of circumstances, and Justin Henry is outstanding as Billy.

This is a tearjerker, but the tears come organically as a result of the story being told, and it never feels mawkish or manipulative in any way.

So many films like this have resorted to sentimentality and to taking sides, but Kramer Vs. Kramer doesn't do that. It just uses a careful script, enhanced by deft direction, performed by truly great actors, to tell an honest and affecting story. If you haven't seen it, firstly, where have you been? And secondly, search it out and was it. It's pretty wonderful.

La La Land
(2016)

La La Land Loveliness
La La Land is the type of movie I hate starting to watch. It's not because I hate movie musicals; quite the opposite in fact. What I dislike intensely is those films that use the old Hollywood movie genres, like those old screwball comedies or the old musicals as a basis and then proceed to get them wrong (Down With Love, anyone?). That's exactly what I thought would happen with this movie. I couldn't have been more wrong.

The film, as well as being visually stunning, is full of characters that you want to spend time with, especially that of Emma Stone. Her character, Mia, is played fantastically. To my mind, this performance from Stone ranks with her best. That's not to say that Ryan Gosling isn't also good, because he is.

The songs, if not completely in the style of the old Hollywood musicals, given the film's contemporary setting, stay true to their essence, and the story is engaging too. Much like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Artist breathed life into long-dead genres, I think La La Land will give those people who don't really give movie musicals a second glance a new appreciation.

La La Land is a delightful modern movie musical, and I'm sorry I ever doubted it.

Mary Poppins
(1964)

So much fun!
Apparently Pamela Travers, the author of the books on which the film is based, hated it That fact is made abundantly clear in the movie Saving Mr. Banks, about the many times Travers and Walt Disney butted heads (figuratively speaking of course over the process of bringing the movie to the screen I can't, for the life of me, work out what Travers found so terrible about it Call me sentimental if you like, but, to my mind, Mary Poppins is just about as perfect a movie musical as you could hope for. The story is great, the acting is pretty much brilliant (even Dick Van Dyke's atrocious Cockney accent, in my opinion, just adds to the charm of the film) and the songs are nothing short of lyrically and musically genius. The only reason I haven't given this the full 10 (and I'm thinking now that I may have been a little stingy) is that, tonally the film could have been closer to the books. There is darkness - moments that are positively unsettling and even a little scary in the books, which are nowhere to be seen in the movie. Kids can handle darkness and even things that are downright creepy. Some kids really enjoy that type of stuff and for me, if Mary Poppins lacks anything, it's that. For the most part though Mary Poppins is an absolute treat, and it's no wonder that it has stood the test of time the way it has. It's a legendary movie for one very good reason: that it's really, really good.

Verónica
(2017)

I Think Some Reviews Are A Little Harsh
I really don't know why some people have said that this movie is boring. It's not. Sure, it's not the most original horror I've ever seen - it owes a lot to many, many others horrors and thrillers - but, thanks to strong performances and good, if not altogether original, little directorial and editing techniques, and an effective score, I didn't feel bored with it at all. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but, I have to say, I don't see a lot for the film's detractors to focus on. I think 'Verònica' is a fairly good movie.

Fight Club
(1999)

Classic? Are You Sure?
David Fincher is a great director, Alex McDowell is a truly innovative production designer and Chuck Palahniuk is a good writer, so, when the two came together, we knew that there was no way that the product of their collaboration would be bad. In fact, it seems most people are of the opinion that it is very nearly a work of genius, and, while it's true that, in places, Fight Club does occupy that territory, it's not genius in its entirety. Let me explain.

Fight Club starts off well as a well- observed satire on masculinity and machismo, but, then, in its last third, for some strange reason, any sense of humour is abandoned and the film starts to advocate what it was taking a swipe at. This change of tone and unevenness is unfortunately too distracting for me and, consequently, I'm afraid I can't see Fight Club as an absolute classic.

Beetlejuice
(1988)

Beetlejuice made me a Burton fan
Tim Burton is my favourite director, no question. His movies have a distinctive look and sensibility, which is peculiarly his; you only have to look at a film to see if he had a hand in it.

His work is original, quirky, imaginative and very highly stylised. His eye for detail is extremely finely tuned and he is still one of the most visionary cinematic geniuses working today.

I find it hard to believe now that there was once a time when I hadn't heard the name Tim Burton, but there was. It was before the release of a little movie called Beetlejuice.

I was about eight when I first saw the film, and it was a revelation. I'd never seen anything like it. It was gaudy, Gothic, grotesque and great!

The score and feel of the film - that of weird askew Gothic-horror carnival - are set, in accordance with Burton's vision, by fellow genii, composer, Danny Elfman and production designer, Bo Welch, who are both so on the money here, it's impossible to imagine a more perfect team. Yes, it looks a bit dated now, thanks to it's stop-motion animation, but that adds to the film's charm and is better for it, in my opinion

The script, written, first by Michael McDowell (from his original idea) then re-written by script doctor, Warren Skaaren, is magnificent and hilarious. All the characters are well-observed, fun caricatures; that's not a negative criticism - you get the impression that this is wholly deliberate.

The acting from all cast members is very fine, and strike just the right note. The movie belongs, however, to Michael Keaton, whose ill-mannered, foul-mouthed, lecherous, disgusting, but somehow charming and charismatic 'Ghost with the Most' is nothing short of brilliant.

Beetlejuice is one of the most fun movies you will ever see, and is a delight with its great premise, hilarious dialogue, inspired visuals and wonderful score. It's a must-see movie.

The Tragedy of Macbeth
(1971)

An absolute triumph!!!
I absolutely adore this movie. I can say with total honesty that it is the best Shakespearian cinematic offering I have ever seen.

The movie genuinely have a sense of real evil due to the fantastically horrifying opening sequence. From the moment you see this squirm inducing opener, the movie just gets more and more bleak until the audience is breathless with utter desperation. This bleakness is helped along considerable by the desolate landscape, it really is a breath-taking under statement.

The witches in this movie are honestly sick making, the fact that they appear naked greatly increases this affect.

Jon Finch actually achieves the impossible in this piece of genius by out-performing the fantastic Francesca Annis. His performance truly remarkable, making Macbeth's moral and mental decay not only audible but visual as well. Not only does he grow a beard, which does wonders for baddies, but his facial features seem to snarl and twist until he's unrecognisible as the man at the beginning. Wow!

And the blood in this movie!! It's enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool! This is the only movie version of the Bard's darkest, most brooding work to ever do it justice, nothing before or since even comes close. Polanski's da man!!

An American Werewolf in Paris
(1997)

Fangs a lot wolfie!!
The first thing to say about the movie is that, except for what happens to some characters, i.e. they turn into werewolves, American Werewolf in Paris isn't really comparable to the utter masterpiece that is the London version.

With my movie critic head on, I feel compelled to mention the gaps in the script, which left me, at least, with a feeling of unfinished business when the credits rolled. Secondly, the acting, which was slightly second rate, seemed to be over-looked in favour of gore. So in my Capacity as movie buff, I didn't enjoy it as much as I might have, but to people who watch for enjoyment and not for analysis, I think this could be quite a good offering.

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