realbobwarn

IMDb member since June 2003
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Reviews

Bright Star
(2009)

Move over 'Waiting for Godo'
Gosh! Everybody else seems to love this one. Yes, it is exquisite and very very arty. But that's its problem. I guess this film will be marketed to women and literary types, the latter of whom would go see anything about a person like John Keats. It is slllllloooooowwwwww. It takes aaaagggggeeeessss to go anywhere, at all. it is really a piece of art about nothing, the material is really quite 'thin' .... so there are many beautifully framed scenes which mean nothing - often with no dialogue. Yes, it is better than 'Waiting for Godo' .... by a whisker. I rate it a generous 3/10 for its beauty. (Nil for entertainment value - and I am sad to say, as a story.)

Fauteuils d'orchestre
(2006)

A cool French film
Lay back and let it flow over you. A cool French film: light, 'frothy', beautifully filmed in Paris' theatre district. A pleasure from start to finish. Clichéd? Yes - but who cares. Enjoy it.

Well, the system would not accept my short comment - I have to do minimum of 10 lines(!). I do not want to put in any spoilers but here goes - looks like I have no choice. Jessica is a sweet young thing from the provinces, in Paris and looking for a job - and a room to rent. Jobs are scarce but she talks her way into a waitressing job (oops, politically incorrect) - lets say she is a table attendant - at the Cafe des Theatres. While there she comes into contact with a range of interesting people, including Hollywood director (played by the late great, Sydney Pollack - a pleasure to see now that he has left us, a great concert pianist (who wants to give it all up), a soap star who earns heaps but would prefer 'serious' acting, a millionaire dying of cancer who is selling off his his fabulous art collection, a theatres concierge about to retire, and the millionaire's son (and romantic lead, played by director's son and film co-writer, Christopher Thomson). Leaving out the details (thank goodness!) it comes to a predictable and happy ending. Well written, great photography, well acted, a relaxed pleasure to watch.

The Last Legion
(2007)

A good watch - with a 'cute' story twist. Good fun.
It is a good film for what it is: an adventure story built on one legend and trying to add their own. There have been several theories about 'King Arthur' (if indeed such a character exists). Much was invented by medieval monks who updated the legend to their ere (hence 'knights in shining armour in the traditional view)- it was further dressed up by Tennyson and Malory and others in the 19th century. (See also Wikipedia). A recent Nat Geo Channel documentary looked at a few options - one of which was the Roman link: possibly a Roman soldier who with some others with British families, remained behind when the Legions left.

The matter of who's sword was Excalibur (or spoiler warning - 'E S Calibur' ... )? Well: we do not even know if a King Arthur ever existed at all. So, for story tellers .. who cares? One legend is as good as the next. In this context, the film is 'good fun' - and the cast do a good job. Highly recommended. With a higher budget and more script work and maybe some recasting, etc, it could have been a story alongside 'Gladiator'.

A Prairie Home Companion
(2006)

A ball of fun
This movie is a hoot. To a long time listener to the PHC it was great to see at least some of the gang and (I assume) the Fitzgerald Theatre from which so many broadcasts emanate. An absolute must-see for fans of old-style music / gags - and for ALL real PHC fans. Kline is excellent as the bumbling PI, 'Guy Noir'; Lohan is most becoming as Lola; and Harrelson and Reilly superb as the mischievous cowboy pair, Dusty and Lefty. Tommy Lee Jones is perfect as the humourless 'axe man'. GK of course does an excellent 'GK' impersonation(!) The 'perfect' Meryl Streep, who metamorphoses into whatever character she plays, is clearly having fun with the part and runs away with the film, stealing scene after scene (as Yolanda Johnson) from equally brilliant Tomlin (as Rhonda, the other half of the 'Johnson Sisters'). Through it all, the trusty sound effects man (Tom Keith), struggles to keep up with the action.

What else can I say? Its a ball of fun - go see it or get the DVD!

Jindabyne
(2006)

A dark, sinister view
This is a 'typical' Ray Lawrence film. Similar in its dark view of the world, to his earlier 'Lantana'. The same slow, deliberate, menacing pace, drawing out evil in every corner ("shades of David Lynch's Twin Peaks" here). Our good ol' boy Aussies (one a transplanted Irish), on a weekend trout fishing trip away from their wives, 'park' the corpse of a murdered woman they discover floating in their stream. They continue with their fishing, not reporting the find until leaving the site - for which they are intensively and unremittingly attacked by all and sundry on their return. The fact that the dead woman is an Australian Aboriginal person adds to the 'political' impact of their offense. Through all this, the real serial killer (who we see from the first scene) hovers menacingly nearby.

An interesting, if somewhat cynical, view of the highly charged inter-racial atmosphere in the Australian community: white guilt and 'political correctness'. Who are the real villains here? Our 'politically incorrect' (and morally vacuous) protagonists? Or the murderer? Accoring to Lawrence, the former, apparently.

Taught and tense throughout, the film lacks a real resolution, opting instead for a rather 'weak' ending through the redemption of the fishers.

Caché
(2005)

I definitely felt cheated
Two hours.

Yes, I agree, the film is gripping and the 'shock' scene, so unexpected IS very shocking.

Thge director maintains the tension throughout but takes us on what is ultimately a highly frustrating, unsatisfying journey.

The peasant that I am demands resolution and this director, very clever - too clever? - does not give it to us.

I left the cinema frustrated and 'unrequited' . WHO made the b**** tapes!!?? What a waste of time.

To invest $15 (AU) and 2 hours for no resolution ..... blah.

Film makers such as this do not give the 'punter' value for the money and time invested. One goes to the cinema primarily for entertainment. Time in the cinema is not an academic exercise and directors such as this arrogantly 'play' with their audience.

Bride of the Wind
(2001)

An 'OK' biopic & feminist film
I believe that this film has had very few cinema releases due to the rotten critiques it received.

I saw it at a special screening in Canberra hosted by the director (with witty description of the trials and tribulations involved in its production and non-release). I saw it as an 'OK' biopic and certainly better than so much of the characterless violent drivel served up these days (this of course dates me). I think it deserved more exposure than it got - a worthy entry in the great director's portfolio ..... Remember, the critics usually get it wrong .... and they do not pay to see the films.

Vienna is beautiful, Mahler's wife, Alma is a forgotten feminist hero whose story deserves telling.

Undead
(2003)

Worst film I have ever seen - just plain awful and stupid
I think there are contenders for the 'worlds worst director' title - move over Ed Wood!

Two Australian brothers (Peter & Michael Spierig) writers and directors of this utterly awful movie, 'Undead', 2003 (Australia).

I have a fairly high tolerance level and it takes a really AWFUL film to make me either walk out or WANT to walk out.

I viewed the above monstrosity' last night at the Australian National University Film Group screening. Definitely a 'bomb' (many times over). I cannot think of any redeeming feature .... confused script, infantile dialogue (the 'f' word uttered literally as every second word in almost ALL dialogue!), extremely poor acting, zombies, aliens, zombies as bad guys, zombies as good guys, aliens as bad guys, aliens as good guys ....... then back to being bad guys. I thought I was watching a student film but it indeed was intended as a feature (I have no idea WHO would finance such garbage). (I would have walked out but HAD to stay to help clean up the rubbish the mainly student membership leave in the auditorium!)

Peeping Tom
(1960)

A story out of anguish
I missed this the first time round .... probably too young at the time for its rating. I sought it out with interest after reading its screenwriter, Leo Marks' autobiography ('Between Silk and Cyanide', written in 1998) on his (brilliant) WW2 years as head cryptographer (at the tender ages of 20 to 25!) of the coding department at Britain's SOE (special operations executive), the group which sent the agents into German-occupied Europe (to, as Churchill put it, 'set Europe ablaze'). Marks' father ran the famous 2nd hand bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road, the subject of Helen Hanff's book.

Marks' book is a real gut wrencher, as he gives the final briefing to people, knowing they are going to certain death. Its an eye-opener in its rendition of the inside story of SOE. He talks of his friendships with some of the great heroes of our time (Violet Szabo, of 'Carve Her Name with Pride' - Marks wrote the famous code-key poem featured in the movie; Yeo-Thomas, 'the White Rabbit'; 'Odette'; 'Madeleine'; Nancy Wake), a large number of whom died in Europe, either killed in action, tortured to death or murdered in concentration camps, some the subject of Nazi 'medical experiments'. It has an underlying wry humour (no doubt what kept Leo sane) together with moments in which he pours out the agony or his soul. And his exhaustion as the war closes is palpable.

I think all this explains how he dredged up a character like Mark Lewis in 'Peeping Tom' ...... Lewis is all that is evil, and some of what is good, in us all ....... including Marks himself (note Leo Marks .... Mark Lewis).

The film is pretty tame by 2004 standards but would have been very shocking in 1960 - as critics' reviews at the time clearly showed ...... eg, one said of it, ' ... the sickest and filthiest film I ever remember seeing'. Another..... 'From its slumbering, mildly salacious beginning to its appallingly masochistic and depraved climax, it is wholly evil'. Heavy stuff! Yes and it all but destroyed Michael Powell's career as a director.

Black and White
(2002)

An interesting piece of history
As a former resident of Adelaide, I can recall the actual events portrayed in the film (and knew the film's director at university - Adelaide is like that .... a very small place).

It is a restrained and accurate rendition of the sorry episode. Notable in that it captures the atmosphere of the old 'colonial' Adelaide I knew ..... the 'precious' social 'pecking order', smotheringly conservative (repressed?), 'stiff upper lip' ... and the smugness of being the only 'free colony' in Australia (with the imported English social structure this brought with it).

The crafty and cynical state Premier, managing the political fallout, the ambitious newspaper publisher, just starting out on his quest which will lead him eventually to world media 'mega-stardom', who uses the case to build his paper. The honest (and suffering, 'doomed') defence attorney..... and worldly-wise assistant, the innocent(?) accused, the bungling and prejudiced police, the aristocratic crown prosecutor ..... the naive (and sadly too honest) newspaper editor (a survivor of 5 years in the infamous WW2 Changi concentration camp) whose career is ruined when he is 'cut free' by his publisher under the political heat generated by the case and the paper's crusade (initially supported by the publisher who subsequently caves in to the politicians). A great recipe for a political-legal drama.

The tale is well handled by director Lahiff, well paced, understated, cautious ..... but leaving the viewer convinced that 'something stinks in the state of SA'. A lesson on the realities of politics and the exercise of power .....

Well done Craig! Your film deserves more attention than it has received.... (I am waiting its release on DVD so I can add it to my collection, along with the also under-rated and potential 'cult' film, 'Heavens Burning' filmed with Russell Crowe, on the cusp of his meteoric rise to super-stardom.)

They Died with Their Boots On
(1941)

Hollywood history a real 'hoot' of a film
This film covers George Armstrong's life ('Auty' to his family and friends) from his induction to West Point to ..... well ...... when he gets the chop.

It is a well researched film where the film makers chose to ignore almost all of the facts .... while referring to them at a 'safe distance' (but nonetheless it manages to include a lot that is 'reasonably' factual), and is played with much humour by the late great Australian actor, Errol Flynn.... until the last scenes, of course.

Its many faults accepted, the scope of the film far exceeds any other depiction of Custer yet made, including some of his Civil War exploits and in part explains why his defeat had the impact on US society at the time, as it did, and has been and still is, the subject of fascination by so many for so long. (But the film sells him short here, glossing over his many remarkable civil war exploits, including the fact that it was Custer's Michigan Cavalry Division which defeated the legendary Confederate General J. E. B. ('Jeb') Stewart, in an engagement in which Stewart was killed. It also does not acknowledge that Custer was a '2**', or Major Gen (at age 23!), depicting him as Brig Gen - or '1*'. And he was not accidentally promoted to General as portrayed - but the hillarious scene in the mess tent when news of his promotion arrives, is by all accounts, true - as apparently is the equally funny first encounter in a saloon with his father-in-law to be.)

As to the film ...... its a 'hoot' .... and correctly captures Custer's 'dashing' personality. While the final battle scene is incorrect (better portrayed in TV's 'Son of the Morning Star') the action is excellent. The poignant scenes with Olivia de Havilland at the end as he departs for his final, fateful journey illustrate the magnificent chemistry between these two actors in the last film in which they played together. (The scene with the pocket watch is correct also .... I have seen the watch at the battlefield museum..) The Garry Owen is a star of the film and is still the marching song of the present day 7th.

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