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Honey Boy

A beautiful and thoughtful film,
I found this film blew me away on so many levels. Firstly how astonishingly brave! To write your true story like this, to explore its depths and reveal its bleak realities without flinching, how astonishing! This is the story of Shia's father, more than of Shia himself. Shias Dad was a flawed man, failing in his relationships and in his life, but mostly failing as a father. But throughout, though we witness this we also feel an intense sense of his tragedy. I was doubly moved because Shia himself played his father, and it is a wondrous performance. Its ironies are not lost, because Shia was the victim of his father's irrationalities, but one feels throughout the film a desire to reconcile the child to the man. Its beautiful. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for Shia to put himself in his father's shoes. But he does it, and does so with heart. He doesn't make his father a monster, he renders him as a man who longs for something more in his life and this performance must be a gift that shia gives to his father because he shows him that he understands. I would love for Shia to write more. he is a sensitive man, we need such courageous artists now and I wonder what else he can bring to enthrall us.

Behind the Candelabra

a disappointment
a missed opportunity for a film. the true story is that a 57 year old man takes a 17 year old boy to bed, takes him into his home, well his mansion, no less, introduces him to drugs, bullies him into plastic surgery to make him look like himself, and soderbergh decides to give us this piece of fluffy nonsense! its extraordinary. the material is the stuff of horror and this light hearted puff of hum dee hah is the result. is no one else more outraged by the abuse of a 17 year old boy? has the world truly lost its moral compass to such an extent? the idea that a 42 year matt damon should play scott as a 17 year old and fail to tell the real story is wrong. am i really the only person amazed by this? i give this 4 because the film carries a story and it is well acted, it just isn't the film that it should be.


surprising and thought provoking
wow, this did surprise me, not the story or really its enactment - but the ending. it was so thoroughly unexpected to find that the best most profound words should be given to the least developed character. it is difficult to say anything about this movie without giving everything away suffice to say it was so wonderful to receive such insight at the end from such an unexpected source. and that i think is what pushes this film above its peers. here is a story that we have all heard before, all experienced. the internet is a treacherous beast and frankly we believe our virtual friends at our peril. but the story doesn't end there. firstly we see who these people are who decide to invade our world with their make believe. and we find that perhaps they are also special as we learn just what might make them behave in this way, and then we find that really the people who are the losers are not the people who make the stuff up, but us for never believing in them face to face in the first place. oh this is a wonderful film, and i hope that everyone can watch it.

Black Swan

a real disappointment after the brilliant 'wrestler' i expected more
this movie was a huge disappointment. the red shoes is one of my favourite films and a good film about the ballet is well over due. i loved 'the wrestler' again an extraordinary and tense movie, and so i had high hopes of 'black swan'.

i could not have been more let down. the first and i suppose forgivable failure in the film was the poor dancing of natalie portman. the red shoes was fortunate in that it could rely upon the prima ballerina skills of moira shearer. natalie portman is no prima ballerina, no ballerina at all in fact and this spoilt much that could have been wondrous.

but natalie portman can act, and she acts her socks off in this, however, with what material. the character is meant to lose her sanity gradually and sink into a hallucinatory and dark world of her own imagining. and that's just it, i found the world described in her thoughts totally uninteresting as dreams actually are for the most part. i found it difficult to care about the narrative which followed so much of what happened inside someone's head. so what that nina stabs to death, lilly, her fellow dancer, when a few minutes later the colleague knocks on her door fit as a fiddle. yeah this proves that nina is nuts but it also dilutes the story. anything can happen, king kong can appear, he can destroy the whole damn lot of them, but so what. its all just a dream and when we wake up, its gone - puff.

there is much else to criticise. it was a film of ideas, but these ideas were not particularly intelligently explored. consider the rather lame and clichéd analysis of a young woman's sexuality, the very deliberate contrast between the virgin and the whore and the absurd finale of the young dancer's perfect performance and her insistence on her own death to complete it. i ask you.

anyway in sum this film doesn't deserve to air the same breath as the red shoes or the wrestler.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

a profound and surprising movie
this is an enjoyable and thought provoking movie about a world that is alien to most of us, wall street. it was well played throughout, by shia, carey and michael douglas. i particularly liked the way that the story wove its layers so well, we had the outer crust a story of greed and its downfall and the love story running current. this was very clever. the kernel of the story, ie, its heart was geco and his analysis of engine of our world the economy, the irony of having a criminal and a reputed bad man moralising accurately on the faults of modern culture was very compelling.

i enjoyed this movie and thought it dealt with its difficult subject matter very well.

and in response to some of the threads on this site i will say i disagree that carey was not an attractive character in this movie, she was superb, as was shia.


i just don't get it
maybe its because i just don't find teenagers that interesting. well actually someone like Ree in winter's bone is interesting, but Juno? no. Yep she is faced with a dilemma, pregnant at sixteen, and yep she deals with it, with a certain amount of chutzpah, that might impress her neighbours and the like. but the big screen? for one and a half hours? is this really such a subtle, original piece, worthy of an Oscar nod? I find Juno's precocity irritating, as indeed most teenagers are. she likes music, has eclectic tastes, yeah and....!! she is oh so world weary, and cynical .... yeah,at sixteen! and for some reason we are meant to see this as unusual fora sixteen year old girl. well i don't know about you, but this pretty much described half my rather conventional school friends of my own teenage years -

struggling with a teenage pregnancy and exploring a wholesome ending might be worthwhile viewing, but i found everything about the exploration dishonest. the film was intent in provoking the audiences respect for this putatively spiky sixteen year old, and did not delve into any deeper issues. It was so superficial, and to my mind frustrating for a more challenging and honest story is there to be had with pretty much the same story line, just not in this film.

the most moving moments, well to me the only moving moments, were Jennifer garner, playing a prickly middle aged woman desperate for a child, stripped of her shell as she holds her adopted baby for the first time. and Michale Cara as always is an extraordinary presence but as the for the rest no, i would rather watch the Brady bunch which at least has an awareness of its own superficiality.

La vergüenza

an extraordinary and affecting story of the difficulties of adoption
i saw this film by chance. it was shown at the Spanish institute for free and i had no expectations. i was totally blown away by it. it was such a subtle and beautiful story told without judgement or bitterness of a wealthy couples struggle to foster a child. the boy has come from many homes and cannot settle. he wills this new family away and they comply. the boy is too difficult, he cannot adjust to a new life and the couple decide that the cost to their relationship and their own well being is too high. and the film follows their day as they struggle to defend this decision to each other and then the social worker that comes to vet them for adoption. i shan't describe all the plot twists for fear of spoiling some of the extraordinary effect of this film but everything is so beautifully realised.

it is a beautiful and painful film, deserving a wider audience and i hope at least that the director, a new one to film i believe, will continue to produce such fine work.

The Edge of Love

i loved this film
i did not expect to enjoy this. in truth i watched it because a friend knew a friend knew a friend who wrote the script but wasn't credited. knowing Dylan thomas, and really being appreciative of his poetry but aware and rather disconcerted by the man, i didn't feel i needed to see a twee adaption of his lame bohemian life laid bare. and this was not it. critical and yet appreciative it was. it made me cry. kiera knightley was superb, even with that slightly strained welsh accent,and it is a sad tale that they tell. Dylan thomas is not the hero as sadly he was not throughout his life and neither really are the so called 'feisty woman' of the pr spiel. it is cillian the william of the movie. a man that leaves the woman he loves to fight a war that they ignore. his challenge to reoonnect with that indifference is what is of real interest to this film and what a beautiful performance from that actor. i thiink this film is underrated because it was marketed so badly. Dylan thomas fans will expect something more from their so very flawed hero and get less, and well that is how it was marketed. it is not a film about Dylan thomas and it is much more interesting for it.

Shaun of the Dead

total rubbish
everything about this movie annoys me, and i mean everything, especially people's irritating affection for it. it has 'cult' status! well what has happened to the moonies, i ask.

its main crime for me is that it isn't funny - the joke is that silly bumbly but really quite lovable Sean finds his very 'normal' life turned upside down when zombies come to town. well there we are, to me that story is worth perhaps five minutes as a sketch or maybe an advert selling spare parts but a full length feature film?!! no.

in fact the fact that the story lagged and was predictable and dull wasn't what did it for me. i just cant stand sean penn. he reminds me of jerry lewis in the king of comedy. his portrayal of a charming buffoon is rather like being forced fed chocolate muffins, he is the adult equivalent of a child star, pushing the all the buttons so efficiently but with absolutely no conviction or sincerity.

This Property Is Condemned

natalie wood and tennessee williams a wonderful combination
this movie is so difficult to comment on. in many ways it is deeply flawed. the music is simply awful, absolutely wrong, the performances at times feel staged, and the direction too loose. and yet despite this - this is a wonderful film.

i think it is simply the quality of natalie wood, not her performance which again is actually quite week. sometimes she seems to lose concentration and flits in and out of character - but this is a challenging role and one that i cannot believe another actress could play better. wow she takes your breath away - filling you with such strange sensations of warmth, pity and anger. i cant think of a performance that has moved me so much.

she of course lived pretty much a tennessee Williams' story in her own right - except williams would have eschewed the melodrama and the intrigue of her death. and i think that is why she is so compelling in this, because she is simply revealing herself - and what we see is beautiful.


one of the worst films i have ever seen
with a cast of four Hollywood heavy weights, the director of 'the graduate' and the writer of 'alan partridge, i expected a lot from this film. the synopsis was interesting, relationships going awry, sounds great - what could put me off? well - just about everything.

my main quibble was the dialogue. it was so heavy and rang so untrue. nothing that any of the characters said was believable. and that meant that the acting, strangely enough with a cast that included jude law clive owen natalie portman and julia roberts, was stilted and dull. i have never seen jude law flounder so much with his lines before. I cringe even just thinking about how awful he was in this role.

many comments criticise the unpleasantness of the characters. there was no one to warm to. and i agree that i didn't warm to any of them, but i don't think that is particularly a fault. what is a fault is that this film was meant to give an insight into relationships in the raw but i was not convinced by any of the relationships. there was a lot of sex, and discussion about sex, which is fine, great, but there was no passion or love or connection between two people and relationships are not just about sex. i needed to believe that jude law felt incandescent love for julia, so much so that he would be prepared to throw his actual relationship away. instead i saw them both eye each other meaningfully and say clever things to each other without making any connection.

In fairness, i did think that clive owen was incredible. his anger and his aggression was powerful and intriguing, however, his part simply didn't go anywhere. again natalie portman's character appeared more interesting and certainly the theme of her naming herself pondered many interesting thoughts, but again this idea wasn't developed and became a curiosity rather than the profound insight that was intended.

The Painted Veil

a story of redemption and forgiveness
china at its most gloriously beautiful and strange, a raging epidemic and a warring husband and wife make this film one of the most compelling that i have seen. Walter and Kitty's marriage appears doomed from the start. they have married for the wrong reasons. she to get away from her mother and the anxiety of ending up a spinster, and he, because he has fallen in love with her and needs a wife and sees no need to win the love of his bride beforehand. Kitty's faithlessness seems a foregone conclusion. Walter's response to her faithlessness is not. It is a shocking suicide pact which he forces Kitty into. they make their hazardous journey into the centre of a cholera epidemic to find their fate. What they find is so much more unexpected than Walter's bleak vision of an agonising death by plague. They are both fractured and flawed people but when they play their domestic drama on this epic field they are made whole. Forgiveness and redemption is at the stories heart and it is a tribute to the acting skills of both Naomi watts and Edward Norton that the conflict between the two of them can be resolved so convincingly. they both from appearing unattractive people at the start become worthy of the love that they share for each other. I do not know of another film that has been able to follow this trajectory between two people - and i am so grateful to have found one that does.

Hallam Foe

watch this to see jamie bells superb performance but for nothing else
it is great to see jamie bell develop into such a fine actor. his performance in this lacklustre film really saved it from being completely unwatchable. it is a pity that his touching performance which was so subtle was not better used.

the film doesn't know what it is, is it a peeping tom movie, are we going to discover the murky habitat of a teenage prowler. or is it a coming of age story as a young adolescent learns to deal with his mothers death. the film could neither play up to the sinister suggestions of the beginning or play it down. i kept waiting for something dangerous to happen, feeling that the story was stuck in a boring interlude, until i realised that was the story. a boy falls in love with a girl who looks like his mother - and the imagined murder of her mother was the interlude.

well i still rate this film as watchable purely because of jamie bell's beautiful nuanced performance but for nothing else

Il y a longtemps que je t'aime

an extraordinary and uplifting film
i couldn't decide what to score for this movie, for there are definitely faults, however, because it has such an extraordinary effect and is so original - i felt that i should give it a ten.

the performance that really captured my imagination was Elsa ziebelsteins. it was her reaction to her sisters return that was so moving. she tenderly wills her sister back into her life, respectful of all that makes that journey so difficult for her.

the story focuses on the reclamation of the relationship between two sisters who have had vastly different lives. the one has spent fifteen years in prison and the other has a family and an academic career.

very gradually the awkwardness and diffidence that appears between the sisters, despite Lea's good will dissolves. juliette's natural reserve and frustration diminishes as she learns to trust this sister who has loved her so long.

nothing about this movie is clichéd. all of it is surprising, especially the ending, and i would agree with others that in some respect it is not completely convincing. however, i think that the two actresses in their final scene render it one of the most powerful denouements i have ever watched and the emotions completely believable.

so in short what a wonderful film, i will watched with baited breath for claudels next -

In the Cut

a film about disillusion and desire
This film blows me away whenever i watch it. so i am always struck when i read the site how many people do not like this film. It is a challenge for me to understand what it is that so works for me yet fails to engage most people.

this is not a thriller that looks into the heart of evil, and the murderer has a limited role. it is also not a movie about catching the murderer. and as such it is not comfortable viewing. what the film does is explores the effect of the proximity of evil upon its main character, frannie, and as she is hemmed in, we see her powerless in this unfamiliar world. she can no longer read the men in her life, her student, her past lover, and the investigating cop. They all appear ambivalent and violent. her world is no longer safe and the film beautifully captures frannie's loss of certainty. we feel the same adrenaline rush and heat of fear that she does. and we sense her own mistrust of the investigating detective. this mistrust evolves into desire not despite the fact that she suspects him of the murders but because she does. the sense that she wants the very man who could destroy her is unnerving but also compelling. Malloy is darkly seductive, and as frannie allows herself to fall we sense her own anxiety that the real danger comes when you allow someone in.

And this is the power of the movie, frannie is a disillusioned woman who cannot believe in the romantic script. she seems to believe that women are in peril when they believe in the men they love and this keeps her on edge of experience. it is when she is thrust into murderous events that she relives these fears and realigns herself to a different script. the hardened and cold woman appears vulnerable and unsure. watching frannie do so we do not know whether she has made a huge mistake or is finding her salvation.

there much to say about this movie, to talk about the wonderful performances so perfectly nuanced from both meg ryan and mark raffaelo. the extraordinary visual imagery, the films wonderful sounds and the sense of this mirky unfathomable place. it works on so many differently levels and i know that i can return to it again and again and find yet something more.

The Heart of Me

a thought-provoking and challenging story
this is the second time that i have seen this movie and it definitely lives up to repeated viewings. at heart the story maybe about an illicit affair of forbidden love, but in reality it seems much more. It lays bare the consequences of the worst betrayals of trust without apportioning blame. all three characters, Madeleine, Dinah and Ricky, are left unsatisfied and the pain that they feel makes the film challenging viewing - it is simply so sad. what i liked most about the story is its time frame, as we weave through fifteen odd years and see the story, or rather the affair through the different perspective of time - it is such a clever technique because our sympathies never rest- we switch allegiance constantly and recognise that for these three people there could be no happy resolution.

there is so much else to love about this film, i loved the way the large elegant house, appeared to take on the appearance of Madeleine's state of mind - all bright and happy in the beginning and then grey and sterile at the end.

the film does have a fault i would say, though. which is why i have given it 8. i do not like Helena Bonham carters performance. it was partly because both Olivia Williams and Paul Bettany gave such wonderful performances that hers appears forced and insincere. i think that we are meant to like Dinah and see her as colourful and vital - but i didn't believe in her portrayal. she is remarkable at expressing anguish and truly has a beautiful voice when reciting Blake, but i found her garish costumes and brazen comments, unconvincing and unnatural. she grated on me because i really needed to believe that this woman was worthy of Ricky's obsessional love and i didn't. having said that i still recommend this movie, if only really because of its deep and intelligent exploration of the different types of love.

Fresh Horses

a wonderful thought provoking movie
reading the reviews of this movie is odd, the movie divides opinion so completely, with either very high marks or low one. maybe this is because the two leads are cast almost against type, or rather as parodies of their type in other brat pack movies.Yes they are troubled, as in their brat pack roles, but here neither is presented entirely sympathetically and their troubles are not successfully resolved.

the film is an unnerving take on the familiar themes of 'pretty in pink' etc. but where as those movies establish a feel good atmosphere, this one establishes a downbeat and well rather miserable one. I am not selling the movie am I? but actually i love it, even the rain and the industrial landscapes. It seems to me that the movie focuses upon a short time in two young peoples lives and that moment is significant to each for different reasons. to me that final scene when they meet each other and have both moved on describes perfectly that sense of lost possibilities that cant be defined because they haven't happened but are felt. Essentially, mccarthy and ringwald throughout the movie have every reason not to be together, they differ in every respect, and eventually these reasons do separate them, but this sensation of what if? ie what if they had stayed together and learned to be what the other wants, that sensation remains hovering over the movies conclusion. I think the movie perfectly describes the conflict between will and desire, and leaves the characters, well at least mccarthy, unsatisfied at the end - knowing that he has failed in some way. In this respects it is an unusual movie and one that is well worth watching.

The Shawshank Redemption

what is all the fuss about
i had to comment, i really did, all those eulogies on what is in reality a hackneyed complacent pretentious film. Nothing that this film says challenges any principle or thought- its purpose is to confirm every conservative, sentimental, instinct in us all. And yet it has a sense of its own putative profundities, and bulldozes these throughout the film. Really what the film is saying is neither profound nor original, and is not to my mind worth saying in the first place at least not at such length- ie life is hard, people suffer, but through struggle the human spirit will win through, learn to make friends and get their deserved reward - mmm. Nothing makes any of the characters real, and the actors are not helped by this terrible overloaded narration which applies a great weight on the story which cannot breath as every moment is made to seem sooo significant. It is not just that there is no lightness of touch in the direction, or that there is no humour, it is that there is a sense that what is being described is more important than humour, or than the real nature of friendship. Suffice to say i loathe this film and recommend people watch it only as a lesson in what is bad about big budget Hollywood movies.

Cinderella Liberty

a surprising and thoughtprovoking film
nothing surprised me more than flicking over the channel and catching this film late last night. it promised to be just the kind of dull fare I needed to watch and cure my insomnia: a sailor up to no good in a sleezy bar with a giggling hooker. but this film did the opposite it woke me up and i will admit made me cry - a lot. It is a small story, a sailor falls for a 'barroom whore' and assumes responsibility for her, her son and her unborn child and that's it really. He is stuck in Seattle waiting for his papers, broke and lost and these two unlikely characters, the whore and her son, hook up with him and somehow they muddle together to make what looks like almost a family. each of them is tentative, protective of the tiny space that makes up their world, yet all three show that despite harsh realities they can express tenderness to each other. what was remarkable was that there was nothing patronising or dismissive in the portrayal of any of the characters, all three of which are the stereotypical stock of cinema, a philandering sailor, a whore, and a illegitimate kid. i was totally convinced by the story and moved by the way that despite the needs expressed for each other, they were pushed apart. i cannot recommend this film highly enough, and hope that anyone reading this will try and watch it.

The Bridge

A subtle examination of an artist's conflict between his life and his art
This is a wonderful film, made the more interesting by the fact that Steer, the main character, is based upon a real artist. what seems to have initiated the impulse to write the story is the interest the author had in the difference between Steer's early and late work. Steer was a practitioner of French painting techniques in the late nineteenth century, his earlier works vibrate with colour and light. WIth his later pieces he concentrated on conventional portraits and landscapes. Art historian think of this as a disappointment and the author wonders what was it that caused this marked change in direction. The author's theory is a fascinating one. Steer had fallen in love. The woman that he loves though is forbidden him. She is married to a man who is a shining example of mercantile respectability. The two men are seen in distinct contrast with each other, they are both attractive but there is no competition, Isobel, is in love with Steer. Steer's dilemma is whether he is able to live his life as his art would tell him. The art is revolutionary, a reaction to the vulgar materialism of the age, but his own life is staid. Will he be able to run off with Isobel and accept society's disapprobation? Or will he just leave her to fester in a loveless marriage, whilst he himself remains alone and dissatisfied. In the end this film is about failure, and what makes us fail, in life and art.

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