mob61uk

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Reviews

Stalker
(1979)

A journey into the heart of nihilistic darkness
A meticulously crafted film that takes us on a journey into the heart of nihilistic darkness. In an unknown country and unspecified time, two men are led by the Stalker into the forbidden Zone, where a room exists that grants your deepest desires (known or unknown). In plot terms, very little happens. Yet Tarkovsky skillfully builds tension throughout, using some quite startling imagery. The pace is definitely slow, but I found it quite gripping.

Recommended.

Do lok tin si
(1995)

Well worth seeing.
Kar-Wai is a master of cinematic style, and this film illustrates the point: the bravura use of the camera, the elliptical narrative structure, the quirky characters, and the driving soundtrack. What marks him out from other directors who are just flashy, is his ability to bring to this style something that has real depth, and a power to move.

This film is populated with the usual city dwellers who are essentially lonely and looking for connection with someone or something real and meaningful. And yet, amongst all the quirky behaviour, and choreographed violence, Kar-Wai takes the time to illicit out sympathy for these people in some surprisingly tender moments.

Well worth seeing.

Marius et Jeannette
(1997)

A rather tender and poignant love story
A rather tender and poignant love story, about Jeannette who is an outspoken woman, and looses her job as a cashier because she is apt to speak her mind once too often. She meets up with the taciturn Marius. They both have painful pasts to deal with. Guediguian creates a finely judged low-key film from this story, weaving in some nice touches about the small community of friends from the industrial area where Jeannette lives. Guediguian's strong left-of-centre politics intrude into the narrative rather crudely at times, but not enough to spoil the film.

Recommended.

Beau travail
(1999)

An interesting but rather disappointing film
As with Denis' latest UK release - "Trouble Every Day (2001)" - there is much to admire in this film. This study of an ex-Legionnaire looking back on his army life, and the jealousy that leads to his dismissal, powerfully depicts the claustrophobic macho lifestyle amidst the bleak African landscapes. However, as with "Trouble" I was left feeling let down by the end. The drama of the film is so contained and understated, that I thought it seems to peter out into nothing. I found this an interesting but rather disappointing film.

Mon homme
(1996)

Inventive, clever, funny... but also misogynistic?
As usual with a Blier film, the narrative is elliptical and challenging. In this study of the relationships between the sexes, Blier employs his considerable directorial skills in a bleakly funny "story" that follows the happy prostitute Marie, who befriends a tramp who later becomes her pimp. The film constantly challenges the male and female stereotypes, though some of the depictions of women in the film do raise the suspicion of misogyny on the director's part. However, a male character's apology to "all women" - made straight to camera at the very last moment of the film - seems to suggest that he is being deliberately provocative. I will need to see the film again to make up my mind.

I will say, though, that this movie is well worth watching. It's inventive, clever, funny, and just great cinema.

Pola X
(1999)

A sad disappointment.
I enjoyed Carax's "Les Amants du Pont Neuf" and was therefore expecting this film to be of a similar standard. Well, the first 10 minutes were OK, but then it disintegrates into a rather pretentious journey of a young man looking for the essence of life. A sad disappointment.

Ling
(1999)

I was rather disappointed by this film
After all the ecstatic reviews for this film, I was rather disappointed by this film. Supernatural horror films are not usually my sort of thing, but I'm always willing to give something a try. The film was, though, certainly better made than many others of this genre that I've seen, but I still didn't find it very frightening, or, in the end, very convincing.

Perhaps I'm missing something.

Les ripoux
(1984)

This film's well worth checking out
I really enjoyed this. It's the old story about the old, experienced cop (Philippe Noiret) being lumbered with an over zealous young inexperienced cop (Thierry Lhermitte). In this case, though, the old cop is also corrupt. Noiret is brilliant as the world-weary father figure, teaching the new recruit that the world is not quite like it's painted in books. This film's well worth checking out.

Wong Gok ka moon
(1988)

An average film with some nice touches
For me, Kar-Wai is one of the great contemporary directors. This is his first feature, and is rather a conventional Hong Kong gangster movie. However, it already has elements of the visual style and technical flourish that are utilised so well in his later more complex films. An average film with some nice touches, but certainly worth watching for Kar-Wai fans.

Spider
(2002)

A beautifully directed low-key study of "Spider", a strange mentally ill man
This is very unlike the usual Cronenberg movie. It's a beautifully directed low-key study of "Spider", a strange mentally ill man trying to understand the world, and in particular his past. Ralph Fiennes plays Spider to absolute perfection. He does not act the part of Spider, he IS Spider. It is a truly magnificent performance. It makes Russell Crowe's performance in Beautiful Mind look like that of a first year acting student.

The film is ambitious in showing us the world from Spider's point of view, fantasies and all. In the end, I felt that the story of Spider's childhood - where the extent of Spider's construction of reality is explored - was a little too simplistic to fully portray Spider's universe.

Nevertheless, an impressive film.

Trouble Every Day
(2001)

Little real substance to the film
The direction of this film was impressive, with perfect pacing of the storyline. The problem I had with it was that there was little real substance to the film. The theme of desire taken to extremes began as promising, but just went nowhere. The graphic scenes of vampire love-making were therefore simply gratuitous.

Donnie Darko
(2001)

An impressive debut
This is certainly an impressive debut for writer/director Donnie Darko. It is an inventive piece of film-making which is funny and surreal - heavily influenced by Lynch in places. However, the storyline is full of pseudo science and clever complexities that in the end don't add up to anything. It's still an enjoyable film, though, if you don't take it seriously, and Kelly is definitely a director to look out for.

Intacto
(2001)

A fascinating and enigmatic study of luck and chance
A high percentage of films which I've seen at this year's festival have been good quality. This one is no exception. A fascinating and enigmatic study of luck and chance, which is directed with some style and skill by Fresnadillo. I'll need to give the film another viewing before making up my mind about the plot, but the film is good enough to justify seeing it more than once. Recommended.

Rush Hour
(1998)

Quite good fun
This was quite good fun, if you can get past Chris Tucker's grating voice, and not understanding half of what he says because he speaks so fast. Good stunts from Jackie Chan, a few laughs, but not much else. Oh, apart from the always watchable Tom Wilkinson. The sort of film to watch if there's nothing much else on.

Elling
(2001)

A beautiful, moving, funny, and heartwarming film
For me, this is one of the real highlight's of the Cambridge Film Festival 2002. A beautiful, moving, funny, and heartwarming film that manages to avoid any cheap sentimentality. Elling is a middle-aged man who once lived an isolated existence with his mother, but is taken into an institution when his mother dies. The film follows his progress in coming to terms with the world. Per Christian Ellefsen gives a stunning performance as Elling. A must see movie.

Ôdishon
(1999)

A film of 2 halves!
The first half of this film is a slow and romantic story of a widower

looking for a new wife. It then turns into something far more

sinister and ends with one the the most shocking and disturbing

scenes in modern cinema. Miike directs this film to perfection,

though the ending is certainly way over the top. And yet it all fits

coherently together in the end. If you have the stomach for it, I

would certainly recommend it.

Bowling for Columbine
(2002)

Informative and well structured documentary
This documentary on American gun culture was the talk of this year's Cannes and apparently received a ten minute standing ovation. It's by turns very funny, very moving, and shocking. There were some parts that seemed a little cynically staged for the camera, but on the whole it was a surprisingly informative and well structured documentary.

Highly recommended.

Små ulykker
(2002)

Low key observational
A really enjoyable film. It reminded me a little of the recent "Italian For Beginners", in being a low key observational comedy. The director apparently employed the Mike Leigh method of film-making, where the actors are encouraged to develop the storyline through improvisation. Now, I'm not a big fan of what Leigh seems so often to achieve through this method: monstrously distorted characters who I find rather aggravating (though, I must admit that the method did work brilliantly in "Naked" and "Secrets and Lies"). Thankfully, this film doesn't go down that route. Some of the characters are certainly odd, but fit in well with the tone of the film. Worth seeing.

Revengers Tragedy
(2002)

A real cinematic treat
A real cinematic treat, this film takes a play published in 1607 and transposes it to a strange modern(ish) world. Cox's direction is brilliantly inventive, giving the film a fast-paced anarchic feel that never becomes just a showy veneer. The stylised langauge and the modern visuals work very well. Christopher Eccleston as the "revenger" is superb, as is Derek Jacobi (as you've never seen him before!). Highly recommended.

Sunshine State
(2002)

How the past shapes the present
An American coastal town faces the attentions of predatory

developers, while it's inhabitants face up to their pasts. This is a

wonderful slow-burning film, with multiple story lines (in the

Altmanesque mode) depicting how the past shapes the present, and how

the past is packaged and branded. Some fine acting from a top class

ensemble cast, with particularly fine performances from Angela

Bassett and Edie Falco. The bitter-sweet story does not have a

strong narrative drive to move it along, but the editing of the

interlocking stories does keep up the momentum going - though the

film is a little too long. Overall, though, a very good film.

Scooby-Doo
(2002)

Don't see it.
All the reviews said this film was crap. "Reviewers have been wrong before", I thought. So, with the hope of a wallow in childhood nostalgia, I went to see the film. Wrong move. The critics were right. Don't see it. Not unless your under 10 years of age.

Heaven
(2002)

This is cinema of the highest calibre
This rates amongst the top films I've seen so far this year. Tykwer had a lot to live up to with this movie, since it is based on a script by the late great Kieslowski. However, he has given us a beautifully realised film - his most mature to date. Cate Blanchett's performance is absolutely stunning, and if there is any justice in this world it deserves an Oscar (which means, of course, she won't get it!). Giovanni Ribisi is also superb. This is cinema of the highest calibre. Please go and see this film.

La séparation
(1994)

Well worth seeing.
This is a carefully crafted study of the break-up of a marriage. The subtle and powerful performances of Daniel Auteuil and Isabelle Huppert as the couple in question, and Vincent's well-paced direction of a good quality script, deliver a film that does not fall into the usual cliches of this genre.

Well worth seeing.

Gerry
(2002)

Minimalist
When they describe this film as being minimalist, they certainly mean

it. There are basically two characters, companions, who set out for

a hike and get lost. Very lost. There are very few shots in the

film, most being interminably long, many in fixed position, with very

little action.

The film starts quite lightly, then becomes more serious as the

companions - Casey Affleck and Matt Damon - find their predicament is

worse than they thought. Here the film loses itself in existential

anst, as it hammers home its "indie" credentials.

For me, the film was most definately a failure, and a tedious one at

that. And yet...some of the stunning visuals and the heavy handed

metaphors do resonate in the memory afterwards.

Die Siebtelbauern
(1998)

A film that's well worth watching
This German film about some pre-World War II peasants taking over their master's farm after his mysterious death has a surreal edge to it, not unlike Julio Medem's films (though not quite of Medem's calibre). Ruzowitzky gives this parable of German society enough grim humour and imaginative direction, to alleviate any danger of ponderousness. The result is a film that is well worth watching.

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