Alba_Of_Smeg

IMDb member since March 2007
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Reviews

Suspiria
(2018)

Just awful..
I hated almost all of this. There was absolutely zero suspense or subtlety in this mess, it's all just shock-value that felt forced. Tilda Swinton plays multiple characters here.. but why, what exactly did it add to the story or quality of the film? The dance sequences bored the life out of me and there were too many of them for my liking. I feel like the special effects budget must've ran out after all those cool looking bone breaks and snaps because the CGI and the prosthetics towards the end looked like utter crap. Also, the film was too long for what it was.

The downplayed score and the cinematography were quite good but there's no way I would sit through this again. Awful!

Rosemary's Baby
(1968)

Great watch!
Loved this. Can't believe I went so long without seeing it before. My only criticism would be that I think it would've been better if it was more ambiguous and left up to the viewer to decide what they just witnessed. Brilliant though. Will definitely be rewatching this at some point.

Dracula
(1992)

Keanu is dreadful in this, lol..
Well it turns out I'm kind of into the whole Dracula/Transilvania thing. So that's cool, I'll definitely check out some of the earlier stuff. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) though, I don't know.. it was alright. I feel like Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman were the only ones actually trying to act here.

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens
(1922)

What a watch!
This was really entertaining. Simple storytelling but a great example that sometimes less = more. Excellent performance from Max Schrek as Count Orlok with some freakishly menacing makeup and prosthesis work! There are plenty of genuinely creepy moments in this, some of which are downright iconic. Around 50 minutes in I was starting to question the direction the film was going but I was still gripped and excited to find out.

I'm not a huge vampire fan and this is far from a perfect film, but I really enjoyed it, flaws and everything.

Ju-on
(2002)

I thought it would be scarier..
I remember when the American version came out everyone was saying how trash it was and that the original was soo scary! They lied.

I found it an enjoyable enough film but the story is unnecessarily convoluted. I did kind of wish it was scarier though!

À l'intérieur
(2007)

This was a riot!
Poor Sarah. Her friends, family and cat called her cheap for opting for the 2 slice toaster, but she was glad she didn't get the 4 slice one when the she got smashed in the head with it😂

Under the Shadow
(2016)

This was recommended to me.
I found this to have a really promising start and an intriguing setting. Started getting a bit silly for me as the film progressed though. Enjoyable enough flick with a couple jumps to keep your attention. Not particularly memorable though.

The Lodger
(1944)

Good, but not great.
The 2nd remake of the 1927 Alfred Hitchcock film. This one fares better than the rather pitiful Phantom Fiend from the 30's. It's also a different take on the story as a whole and stars Laird Cregar as the lodger this time around. I like that we get to see more of the foggy, dank and dimly lit eerie "Whitechapel" streets and shadowy back alleyways fleshed out with all sorts of dodgy characters. The cinematography really captures the doom and gloom atmosphere that's necessary for such a haunting mystery thriller.

Cregar brings something new to the table as the peculiar stranger who may or may not be Jack The Ripper. His large stature and ominous portrayal brings a real sense of intensity and danger at times. Unfortunately there were times where I thought he was overacting and hamming it up which just kept pulling me out of the story. How he plays the part is probably more realistic than Ivor Norvello in the earlier adaptations. I read criticism from someone that thought Norvello played the part too much like Dracula in the first film. He's not wrong, I can see that, but I still love it regardless. Hitchcock's version is still my favourite.

"Are you tired of life? Are you bored with your wife?😉"

Safe to say this risqué bit of dialogue didn't quite make it into the original.

Gokseong
(2016)

Good, but could've been great!
I enjoyed this. Especially the whole mystery aspect. I did hope it was going to be a lot scarier though. It's impossible to get even remotely frightened with so many silly and comical moments and there were times where I really wished it would just pick a genre and stick with it. This film does look incredible though and the acting kept me engaged throughout. While I didn't find it "scary" there are some genuinely creepy scenes and exciting moments. I was kept guessing until the very end.

Respect for not resorting to jump scares. I do think this could've been so much better though. I guess the search for that trauma inducing petrifying nightmarish horror movie continues..

Maboroshi no hikari
(1995)

The power of silence.
A calm and contemplative film that deals with love, loss and time. Like many of the shots, memories linger like questions left unanswered. Simply beautiful.

Steamboat Bill, Jr.
(1928)

This was entertaining!
My first introduction to Buster Keaton. Wasn't sure if this would be my thing or not. I found it to be a bit of a slow starter but things pick up, I mean they really picked up. Not everything worked for me but there are some genuinely funny moments that had me laughing out loud and some of the stunt work is gnarly. I winced a number of times. What a mad lad.

Shallow Grave
(1994)

"Normally I don't usually meet people, unless I already know them."
Shallow Grave is a black comedy thriller staring the young and practically unknown (at the time) Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox. Three quite naive and deplorable flat mates that stumble across a briefcase full of money and the impact it starts to have on their friendship. I really enjoyed this. What an entertaining film from Danny Boyle in his directorial debut. Definitely better than I expected.

The film opens with the interview process for a fourth tenant. We see a succession of people trying their best to answer the trio's awkward questions and receive countless snarky and sarcastic comments. Right off the bat we see just how cruel and shallow each of the friends are as they belittle and intimidate the applicants. They are so tight knitted and clearly share a bond and enjoy being narcissistic and feeling intellectually superior to most. Before long though, that knit begins to unravel..

This movie probably shouldn't work as well as it does when you think about it. 3 almost completely unlikable lead characters, each flawed in their own way, and we're supposed to care what happens to them? The fact that I did is a testament to the performances and the storytelling. Eccleston for me really stands out in this and just steals the show in every scene he's in. A large portion of the film takes place inside the flat which sounds quite claustrophobic but due to its large size it never feels uncomfortable. If I lived there I would probably never leave either.

There's not a single boring or uninteresting moment during the first act and and third act, it's all energetically paced and engaging. The second act however was ever so slightly less thrilling and slower. It finishes with a bang though and leaves you thinking.. damn that was bloody good watch!

As a fellow Scot it's my duty to love this and rate it to high heavens!

Manichitrathazhu
(1993)

This one was not my kind of thing..
This was a recommendation. I haven't watched much Indian cinema so I had been meaning to check more out at some point anyway. I knew nothing about this going in, didn't check the genre, actors, ratings..nothing. About 35 minutes in I'm starting to think I've made a terrible mistake when I look at the remaining time left. Yeah, this is going to be a tough one to finish..

Needless to say I found the first half pretty damn gruelling. I didn't know what was going on, The "horror" parts were cheesy, and I didn't find the silly bits funny. Annoyingly after every gag or supposedly comical moment they kept playing stupid sound effects. Lots of "boings" and other cartoonish noises which I detested. The acting was often like it was straight out of a soap opera which I found regrettable but I found Mohanlal somewhat entertaining. I decided to stick with it and finish what I'd started and I hoped things got better, much better.

After that slog of a first half I was pleasantly surprised to find the second half of this did get better. There were some genuinely suspenseful moments, the acting definitely improved and everything felt more engaging. Shobana shows some real talent here and is easily the standout performer. However, for me personally it was a case of too little too late and I was looking forward to the film ending. Also, I should've explained to the person that recommended this that I really dislike musicals. Safe to say those parts got skipped! This one was not for me.

Carla's Song
(1996)

Robert Carlyle can drive my bus any day!
A revolution in a war torn 80's Nicaragua, controversial American intervention and a Scottish bus driver caught in the middle. I liked how this is a story of two very different halves and transitions to show the contrast of the two protagonists inside of their home countries and usual surroundings and how things invert when the tables are turned in the second half. Robert Carlyle shines in this and first time actress Oyanka Cabezas won me over before long, but the romantic angle wasn't that believable to me. I wasn't feeling it. Also, the subject matter is very interesting, but the film can't.. quite.. deliver. All in all it's a decent movie, it feels almost documentary-like which I'm fine with. Definitely not one of Loach's best but it's still entertaining nonetheless.

Shocked to see so few views for it.

The Lodger
(1932)

"Get back to your country!"
The Phantom Fiend (1932) is a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's silent film The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog (1927), which was adapted from the novel The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes. It seems like this this was remade purely just to make a sound rendition of the silent one that was released 5 years earlier. To be honest I hated a lot of the dialogue and interactions between the characters in this. The cinematography can't match the previous versions standards and unfortunately the audio is poor. Ivor Norvello reprises his role as the lodger.

I haven't read the the book but from what I've heard about it, it's the subtlety and sense of ambiguity in which it was written that makes it such a suspenseful read. Alfred Hitchcock's 1927 silent film adaptation which I have seen, conveys that sense of suspense and mystery over really well I thought, up until the ending anyway. This talkie remake however has feels very ham-fisted and does not seem to understand subtlety. They practically point an arrow at Norvello's character that reads WATCH HIM, HE'S A BLOODY FOREIGNER!! Short of giving him a twirly moustache and an evil laugh they did everything they could to take the suspense and excitement out of this.

Then there's the tacked on "twist" Scooby-Doo-like ending. The equivalent of yelling HA! You were wrong all along, IDIOT. It was his evil long lost twin brother! DUN DUN DUUUUN.

That's great, you got me. Next film please..

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
(1927)

Supposedly Alfred Hitchcock's first suspense film!
Loosely inspired by the Jack The Ripper murders and the public suspicion and terror felt by the locals in the midst of the atrocities. I loved this. I especially liked the artistic design and choice of visuals, use of text and title cards throughout. The limitations of the time clearly just inspired Hitchcock's imagination and innovation. What a legend.

The fact that the details of the elusive perpetrator are so vague that anyone acting even remotely queer or suspicious can be suspected and accused of the heinous crimes makes this such a suspenseful and exciting watch. Perhaps a little predictable by today's standards, but I still enjoyed and was thrilled by the adept storytelling. You simply cannot beat a simple story done well in my opinion. Some of the scenes in this are so damn memorable too. The invisible floor shot showing the lodger pacing the length of his room and the downstairs ceiling light swaying was absolutely brilliant.

The version I watched was the BFI's 2012 90 minute tinted restoration with Nitin Sawhney's score. I liked the score with the exception of one really odd choice and quite frankly jarring bit of soundtrack inserted quite early in which I found a bit distasteful. Apparently the 1999's restoration score by Ashley Irwin is far superior to the version I just saw, so I'll look into watching that version next and see for myself. I never really know how to rate a silent film since feel and style of acting is so different but this was such an easy watch and I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

The King of Staten Island
(2020)

Couldn't remember a single character's name by the end.
After 2+ of this I wanted to bully the protagonist myself. Not sure who Pete Davidson is but I have zero interest watching him act again. Marisa Tomei and Bill Burr were decent support. Steve Buscemi was severely under-utilised. Should've ditched the "comedy" and dialled in the drama with a different lead and this might've been.. alright.

Ghost World
(2001)

It was alright..
I was so sure I would love this. Sadly I didn't. There are some genuinely entertaining and funny moments, and most of the humour is right up my street but there's a fair amount of drag and mundanity. Steve Buscemi's performance kept me entertained. If I watched this as a teenager it might've resonated more with me.

Glengarry Glen Ross
(1992)

Entertaining for what it was..
Great cast and outstanding performances all round. Not much of a story to be found though. Much like lawyers and traffic wardens, salesmen/conmen don't particularly rank high on my empathy or amnesty radar, but still I enjoyed the dialogue and high calibre acting from some terrific talent here. Entertaining for what it was but not as gripping as I'd hoped.

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
(1932)

I am a person that enjoyed this film.
Despite the silly title this is a great picture with some solid acting and an anguishing story to tell. Admittedly it's quite heavy handed and unsubtle with its message, but it gets the point across loud and clear. I certainly wouldn't complain if this was a little longer. Definitely a fan of the ending. Great dialogue too. Gets you thinking.

The 39 Steps
(1935)

"We are not so daft in Scotland.."
I've seen plenty "wrong man" films, and I've seen plenty better ones than this. The 39 Steps (1935) gets the job done, It's entertaining enough, but it's nothing special. Definitely not one of Hitchcock's better films in my opinion but apparently it was one of his personal favourites.

Robert Donat certainly has the charm in this but I didn't find his character interesting here. In fact, none of the characters were particularly engaging because there was very minimal character development. I wasn't buying the romantic angle between the two leads either. Another little gripe - the ending felt rushed. Being a Scot, I do like that parts of this was filmed in Scotland and some of the bit parts and smaller roles used Scottish actors. Not as many as you would think though.

I read an interesting interview with writer John Billheimer about his book Hitchcock And The Censors. A book that details the struggles and subversions Hitchcock had with film censors throughout his career. The British censors of the time were mainly interested in social issues and class distinctions. Whereas the American censorships were concerned with sex and violence. The part where our leads are handcuffed together and forced to spend the night on a hotel bed caused issue with American censors and they insisted this scene be cut entirely in order to be suitable for US viewership and should never have been filmed in the first place due to the couple being unmarried. The producers argued that eliminating the scene would cause discontinuity but American censorship insisted on deletion anyway. Seems almost silly now. How times change!

"We are not so daft in Scotland as some smart Londoners may think."

Idi i smotri
(1985)

I'm speechless..
One of the most powerful and harrowing things I've ever seen. Deeply unsettling to watch, difficult to process and utterly impossible to forget.

Out of the Past
(1947)

What a treat.
No one could accuse Out Of The Past (1947) of being boring, that's for sure. With so many twists and turns the story kept me guessing right until the very end. Mitchum comes across as tough as nails here and plays the anti-hero lead perfectly. Greer is excellent here too as Kathie who is as beautiful as she is cunning and relentless. You can't review a movie without comparing it to another on Letterboxd it seems, and I couldn't help but notice the similarities between this and The Maltese Falcon (1941), both tremendous noirs with undeniably striking cinematography. Two of the very best I've seen in the genre.

My only criticism would be that the plot is a little unnecessarily complicated but I still thoroughly enjoyed this from start to finish.

The French Connection
(1971)

Never trust anyone!
What can I say, Gene Hackman kept me entertained, but I won't be in a rush to rewatch this. There are some great performances in this, Hackman especially. The action scenes are really exciting and so well done, and there's an abundance of memorable scenes and iconic locations used throughout the film too. Unfortunately though I found the dialogue really uninteresting, and there are a lot of dialogue heavy scenes and dull stakeouts so my interest was waning between each action sequence. By the end, as impressed as I was with chase scene after chase scene, I couldn't tell you any characters name or remember any line from the entire movie. The whole thing is very 70's cat and mouse with a fair amount of drag.

Galaxy Quest
(1999)

Her translator is broken..
By Grabthar's hammer.. this is the best Star Trek movie that's not actually a Star Trek movie but still manages to be the best damn Star Trek movie ever.

I LOVE IT!

"Self control? That's funny coming from the guy that slept with every Terrakian slave girl and Moon Princess on the show!"

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