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A Lonely Place to Die

Where Are The Sheep?
What was the director thinking of when he didn't include a single sheep? There are always sheep in Scottish films. If the budget did not extend to buying a few sheep he should have hired some stuffed sheep. I'm sure the local farmers would have been happy to oblige.

The film. Ah yes. Sean Harris. Now why did casting select him? He is one of the few actors who should be given sub-titles. His enunciation - what there is of it - is truly appalling and rather than being sinister he becomes comical. A stereotype left over from the 1950's villain films. He's the same character as in the Borgias. Oh dear! The film failed because it pushed the action envelope to nonsensical extremes. There was hardly any character development for the viewer to identify or empathise with. It should be re-named - Five Go Climbing.

No doubt, in time it will become a cult film like the banal Wicker Man.

Leave action films to those who really know how to make them.

De vrais mensonges

Hobbles Along Like A Blind Dog That Has Lost Its Scent
Is it a coincidence that Ms. Tautou is named Émilie (sounds like Amélie)? Is it a coincidence that she has the same gamin-tomboy look with her cropped hair as Amelie? Somehow I think it is intentional.

Alas, where the similarities to Amélie are evident they are the only thing they have in common. Unfortunately one similarity that is glaringly missing is the sheer energy of Ms. Tautou's' former director and mentor, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Whereas Jeunet is like a brightly illuminated comet hurtling through the sky, Pierre Salvadori's style is more akin to a slow moving iceberg. And that is what the film is - an iceberg.

Nearly all good romantic comedies have some essential ingredients: energy, dynamism, warmth, identifiable characters, quick-fire humour and empathy - think Bridget Jones, Notting Hill et al,. Sadly none of these ingredients are present. Not even the exceptional Nathalie Baye is able to drag this film from the doldrums. It is nothing more than a montage of scenes where very little happens or engages the viewer. Clearly Sami Bouajila did his best but his forte is serious drama and that's where he should stay.

The one shining light in the film is Judith Chemla. With her very expressive face and mannerisms she has a promising future.

It is quite sad that Ms. Tautou has concentrated on 'glamour' films since leaving Jeunet - "Coco Before Channel", "Priceless". At heart she is an exceptional comedy actor. Regretfully Salvadori is not the director who can direct and showcase her talents. Unless she wants to stay on the periphery of French cinema Ms. Tautou needs to ask herself how best can she deploy her many talents.

Le quattro volte

Contemplative? Meditative? Oh do be serious please! You can use those terms about that wonderful film: Spring, Summer Autumn and Winter but not this pretentious little film.

If you are watching it on DVD you should first watch the Director interview so as to avoid thinking it is a series of still life shots. I mean to say Mr. Director, I have never seen a shot of a tree from the ground that seems to last forever. Nor have I seen the sky before in all my life so thank you for giving us a shot that lasted about half an hour. Pretty clouds, now that's what I call imaginative cinema. I am also grateful that you didn't tell us what the old man was putting in the large pan. Nor did you tell us what happened to the kid goat or what the old man was putting into the glass of water. Hmmm...maybe a clever mystery film and I've missed something? As for the ant walking across the old man's face. Well I never! I didn't know that I was supposed to see the face as being representative of the ant's landscape. You had me wondering whether you thought that up after you filmed the shot or did you have a specially trained ant that followed your directions? I am also indebted to you for all the charcoal shots. I think I counted about twenty all being the same. I wished you had done more in order for me to appreciate the abstract quality of burnt wood.

And those snow scenes. They didn't make sense. Nothing happened, they seemed like an after thought. Had you cut them out you could have re-titled the film Tre Volte and saved us a little bit of viewing time. In fact you could have cut everything out apart from the wonderful goats and the manic dog and then you could have called it Una Volte.

Thank you for making a film that has made me think. I am glad that the dog won the Palm Dog award. I hope you gave him some biscuits.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

The Spanish Word For Terrible Is?
I'm currently studying the Spanish Civil War as told through the medium of cinema. I came across this film and with high expectations of a good story with fine acting I bought it from Amazon. How wrong can one be! If melodrama had a rating of one to ten and ten being the worst this would be nudging the ten. Apart from the fine acting of Gary Cooper, the rest of the cast were shameful. It seemed as if they were reading their lines from a board but had problems because they were semi-literate. Example: To-morr-ow we sha-ll go to the bri-dge. Oh dear! The only decent lines spoken in normal fashion were those by Katina Paxinou.

Even the delightful Bergman was so far over the top she could have met herself coming back. And those gleaming teeth! The studio missed a golden opportunity. They could have inserted a sponsors speech bubble every so often.

"Even in war you can have shiny teeth with new 'Gleemy-Teeth'.

As for the war itself. A joke surely? Scant attention was given to anything political. I correct myself: no attention was given.

Finally it can't be put down to: 'the films of the time' because lots of other films made in the same period were nowhere near as appalling - especially the war films.

Bottom line. Hollywood has and always will be useless at making films about other countries wars.

zero out of ten.


Truly Atrocious - Minus zero votes
I watched this film on the basis of having enjoyed The Return. How wrong can one be. It would be generous to say that it makes the films of Bruno Dumont seem like action films! You can tell when a film is a deceit by the opening shots. Long takes of roads and trees are nothing but a waste of film and the viewers time. A walnut tree does not a film make. Creating atmosphere is one thing but suffocating the viewer is another. And so the rest of the film goes on in the same way: ennui seems more debilitating than euthanasia and that is what this film engenders.

Tell me: how many children have you seen who, going to a new home, albeit dilapidated, show no excitement? Are we saying that Russian children don't run around exploring every nook and cranny with yelps of delight? And so having flicked through chapter after chapter to see if their was any movement - a rabbit skipping across the grass would have been fine - I decided to call it a day and put on a DVD of Tom & Jerry.

Good films I enjoy. Pretension I detest.

  • Zero

Black Swan

Avoid any film where the director or production team or cast have an ofsky or escu or iski at the end of their name. Mind numbing, pretentious trash.

It is to be hoped that Vincent Cassel sees the error of his ways and returns to France tout suite. If it's supposed to be a melodrama about somebody going mad to achieve perfection they could have made a film about Jimmy my mechanic. He has the same smashed up fingers and toes and scraped shoulders from crawling under my Mercedes. He also goes off the rails when he can't find the faults. 20 cigarettes later he gets over it and his ready for his next flounce. Pas de Deux my foot, more like Pas De Dah.

The film could have been cut in half to tell the same story. As for the mother figure - she should have been axed to death to some Beethoven music.

If Natalie Portman needs any spot removing cream I'm sure my Jimmy will oblige.

Mr.Aronofsky use your talents elsewhere and leave the intelligent horror style films to Dario Argento or Guillermo del Toro. At least they know what they're doing.


Come Back Stalin - All Is Forgiven
Oh dear! What a load of rubbish. What could have been an enjoyable historical film charting the fall of the Russian monarchy and the rise of communism ended up as a Latin American styled, melodramatic soap opera. It's a pity they didn't add a bit of comedy then it could have qualified as a romantic comedy drama. The cuts between the protagonist and his mistress were far too many - they halted the development of the story. One moment men are have their limbs blown off and the next shot is of her writing lyrical love letters. Had they cut the romance scenes down by 95% it would have been an excellent historical drama - they certainly had the budget for it.

And finally. The film was also ruined by the constant location pop ups. One moment they tell you they are in Omsk, three minutes later you are in Petrograd and then a minute after you are back in Omsk! I wouldn't mind but all the places looked the same so why bother? I'd like to have thought it was for the non Russian audience but it wasn't! Save your precious life and watch something more interesting.

From Paris with Love

Pure Escapism
I have nothing but abject pity for the fools who try to analyse this film. Lots of the critics have declaimed it and no doubt the underlying reason is the anti Luc Besson sentiment and an anti French sentiment.

From the moment Travolta appears on screen its is a roller coaster ride of excitement and enjoyment. You can almost touch the Luc Besson feel to the film. Lots of good looking women, car chases, action shots, shoot outs and good dialogue - what more do you want? If you want to analyse it to death and boast about your analytical writing skills then don't bother with this film - you will make yourself look an idiot. It is pure escapism and those who like to escape from the mundaneness of life will enjoy it.

Bravo Besson. Bravo Travolta.

Familia rodante

Limited By Techniocal Failings
It had the potential to be a good film but was let down on a few technical aspects.

1. He shouldn't have used too many hand held shots.

2. Should have used film stock rather than electronic. Poor colour separation.

3. Far, far too many close up shots. If you are going to make a 'road film' then its a good idea to see the characters within a location. There were just not enough. Okay, one could argue that he tried to convey a feeling of claustrophobia but we don't need the entire film to tell us it's claustrophobic inside a camper. Surely if it was mad hot they would all want to be outside on every opportunity?

4. The kissing young couple. Sorry but very basic and primitive. It would have been better for them to be seen sneaking off into the woods then we could use our own imagination.

5. The dialogue with non members of the family with other people were few are far between. The only worthwhile example I can recall was the police roadblock and the man with a spare gasket.

There are too many 'road movies' and to stand out from the rest you really do need to be original - this wasn't.

And lastly, I thought it could have been improved with a large injection of humour or real pathos.


Oh Dear!
Where do I start? I have watched nearly all Depardieu's films over the years along with his compatriot Daniel Auteil. I was so looking forward to watching this but now rather than it joining my collection it has gone in the trash can.

What was this giant of an actor (Jean De Florette and 36 Quai Des Orfèvres) doing in such a dull and meandering film? What was it's purpose? Was it a romance - drama? Was it supposed to be a peculiar crime thriller? Was it a last fling from the ancient Claude Chabrol? No, it was none of these, it was downright embarrassing and cringe worthy.

Given the fact that Depardieu is not short of a few million Euros - he owns three restaurants in Paris and a few vineyards - one can't say he was doing it for the money. Maybe he's turning into a sado-masochist in his old age and enjoys regurgitating turgid scripts. Whatever, it was one of the the most miserable and clumsiest films ever. Poor lighting, wooden acting - except for the talents of Marie Bunel and the gypsy eyed Vahina Giocante who attempted to bring it to life - give up girls. And then there was the plot. Plot is also a term used for a small piece of land. That's what the film represented, an uncultivated plot with an abundance of weeds.

And finally. What was the downright nonsense with the lawyer singing in court? Was that Chabrol trying to ridicule the viewer? Was it some 'in-joke'? Regardless it didn't fit in with the film - unless Chabrol wanted it to be a musical but senility won the day and he forgot what the film was about.

I can't close without making an observation on Depardieu's excessive weight. What is he doing to himself? The man is gi-normous! If he doesn't slim soon he won't be making any more films. Get it together Gerard!

Politist, adjectiv

I endorse all the comments made by gcschaefer. It reminds me of the worst of the Dardenne Brothers films. Let the art-house freaks waffle as much as they like but you can't excuse trash when it is laid before your eyes. As remarked, who wants to see somebody walk down the road, up the stairs and wherever in real time? What a waste of celluloid. What crass directing.

Al la Dardenne, the sound track consists of ambient sounds. The characters are boring - I assume Romania is not boring. The only excitement I found was the dog barking. At least it gave life to this corpse of a film.

And now I shall go and meditate by staring at a tulip for two hours. I'm sure I will be able to write a script for an exciting film. I think I'll call it Petals Of Revolution - that sounds arty.

My copy has now gone in the trash can.


Where's The Cat?
Had I been in some kind of stupor when I watched this film I could easily have been forgiven for thinking I had been invited to Mr. Winterbottom's home to watch his family holiday film while on holiday in Genova. Had this been the case I would have been looking for a cat to stroke withing the first fifteen minutes. Well..that's what I normally do when I am subjected to total boredom. I would have then sipped the remains of my drink and made a polite exit.

This film is mind numbingly boring. Straight away you see a flight from Chicago to Genova via RyanAir. Since when did RyanAir fly from Chicago? Oops sponsorship! As for the film proper. Not much to say really. Shot on a cheap camera with cheap sound it centres around beach shots, shopping shots, lots and lots of alleyway shots. numerous shots of people on scooters, a car collision which looked like it had been done by retired stunt men, a few shots about candles being lit and nice cuddly family scenes. Add a little Italian into the stew and that's it.

Ignore any pretencion about sub-plots. There aren't any. There is no drama. It's a film that goes nowhere because it doesn't have a starting point. It could have been made by a group of students on their first year film course.

Next time I watch a film about Italy or based around Italy I shall make sure it has the stamp of an Italian director. Mr. Winterbottom has now entered my 'Must Avoid' list.

Truly awful. Minus 10

Now where's my cat?

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Woody Allen Films Are Now Made In China
That's right, you read it correctly. Woody Allen's films are made in China. Somewhere on the outskirts of Beijing a small factory is churning out Woody Allen films by the million. They are not too hard to make. Just get a few actors, tell them it's a gab fest add a few neuroses, some middle class food and music with a splash of wine and you have the perfect Woody Allen film.

Had it not been for my liking of Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz - see Almodovar - I wouldn't have watched this film. No doubt Bardem will put this on his list of bad memories. Ditto Cruz.

It is truly atrocious and so dated. It says nothing. The most annoying part of the film was the commentary running over some of the action. Did I say action? I apologise. Maybe Allen as aimed this film at people who are stupid or suffer from dementia. I have never felt so patronised by such an inane commentary and it wasn't even funny.

Next time I want to watch a film centered around Spain it won't be directed by Mr. Cliché.

Taking Chance

Lean Bacon
Is Kevin Bacon facing lean times to make such a trash film as this? It didn't contain one single piece of information that anybody hasn't seen before. It was just one long, sentimental film about a long funeral.

There is nothing glorious about death. There is no glory in dying for an illegal war while the morons who started it are enjoying their time at home or in the garden. In a weird kind of way all the rituals he and the others performed were indicative of the very institution for which those who died fought on their behalf - the military machine, for that is what it is. The military machine has no conscience nor guilt only, as shown in the film, meaningless rituals which give no worth to the dead.

Kevin Bacon has lost all my respect. His role could have been performed by any ham actor. And..why were there so many grossly obese people in the film? Is that the way of society? Maybe Mr. Bacon can redeem himself with something that carries a political message. If not then I guess he'd best stay in the comfort zone of HBO.

Pity Tommy Lee Jones didn't play the role and or direct. That would have been much better.

Very Sad.

La question humaine

Pass The Eye Drops!
I start by saying how sorry I feel for the Director, Nicolas Klotz. His name is the German cognate of "block" or "lump" and like his name that's what he delivers - a lump of celluloid intent on blocking any aspirations to aesthetic of philosophical appeal. It is distasteful to the highest magnitude. The comments by fellow reviewer greenforest56 from San Francisco are a good summary on this horrid film, in particular Greenforest's first lines.

By now I should have learnt my lesson with French films and the pretencions of music e.g. "Un Coeur en Hiver (A Heart in Winter)" For reasons only known to Napoleon they just can't pull it off. It seems as if the pretend auteurs need to inject some music to give their films a stamp of Gallic approval.

Watching the film and the making of was sheer torture - for reasons given by others. I'm not sure it could be improved but if it could the first thing to vanish would be the boring and annoying long takes. What was the idea of the over long take at the rave party? The director said he wanted it shown in a documentary style. But why? And what was the long shot of the railway line? Was it supposed to be a very sick subliminal metaphor for the track leading to Auschwitz? Maybe it was quite simply pathetic editing?

Klot's analogy or metaphor of modern day techno-fascism in comparison with the Gestapo beggars belief. What on earth was Elisabeth Perceval thinking of when she wrote this drivel? The comparison between illegal immigrants trying to access Europe and the Gestapo gassing trucks is truly bizarre. No matter that she talks about the technology used today to detect the sound of a heartbeat by immigrants hiding in trucks(hence the title) but to compare it with the technology devised by the Nazis to kill millions requires either a few bottles of wine or a perverse course on left bank Marxist tripe.

It's only when one analyses each of the themes that it falls apart like a cheap dress.

It was such a shame to see that fine actor Mathieu Amalric put his name to this truly awful film.

Lastly. This will be a film that the arty critics and teachers at film schools will simply adore. They will be able to talk and write forever on all the nuances, depth, texture and Mis En Scene. Avoid them and the film at all costs!

Points Minus 9.5. It would have been 10 but I always make an allowance for those who write the end credits.

2 Days in Paris

Mon Dieu!
Those who can write, direct, act, produce and co edit a film are very rare - indeed non existent. Of course there are a few geniuses like Tommy Lee Jones (Three Burials)who can direct and act but they are few and far between. Julie Delpy alas has none of the qualities as mentioned as is demonstrated in this film.

"2 Days In Paris" is nothing more than a two day old, dogs dinner. To be more generous it is a gab-fest with Delpy doing the gabbing at 5000 words per frame. Put aside the cheap cinematography (what photography I hear you say?) and it is nothing more than third rate Woody Allen film from the 1970's except it's on steroids. Once you have gotten over the swing-cam moving left to right - as if the cameraman had been trained to film tennis tournaments - then you can settle down to watch two boring characters self implode amid some of the weakest location settings ever. To be fair, they do take a one second breather about forty-five minutes into the film. If you are watching it on DVD then is the time to have a break for an hour and get yourself primed with a drink for the rest of the film - you'll need it.

This is one of those films that makes one feel like a voyeur at a bus stop. You can hear and see the couple in front of you arguing and you want them to go away because after a while they are plain old annoying. In essence, that is the theme that struggles its way through the film.

Has as been said by others, it is riddled with clichés and stereotypes. The film and the plot has no vision nor lends itself to giving any insights. One suspects that the crude moments in the film are there only to lift the pointless plot out of the doldrums.

It is sad that what had the potential to be a good film has been ruined by Delpy's ego in collaboration with the truly awful acting of the others - except the cat who adapted the minimalist method of acting.

I shall be writing to the DVD distributors and asking them if they will include a pack of spaghetti with each DVD. I think it would help to relieve the boredom if people could knit spaghetti while watching. At least they would have something at the end of the film.

Note to self: Avoid all Delpy films in the future. Send Delpy a catalogue of vari-focal lenses including wide angle. Who knows?

Broken Flowers

A Raging Subtle Tribute To Ecology
Broken Flowers Retrospective.

I have now watched this film ten times and remained awake on all occasions. I have arrived at the conclusion that every other reviewer has missed the entire subliminal message of the film. Mr. Jarmush has made a film that is a savage indictment on how we have and are abusing the environment. The pink envelope and the letter are mere trifles to keep the arty people occupied while they think up some convoluted expressions that only they and their peers understand.

Jim Jarmush tells us right from the start how wasteful human beings are. You have Bill Murray sat doing nothing while the t.v. consumes electric. Then you see him negotiating lots of children's toys in his neighbours house - a savage comment on wasted plastics. His friend brings in a symbol of eco waste when he offer him a bootleg cd made from precious raw materials.

As the plot(use the word loosely) develops we see Jarmush taking Murray on a pointless journey using all manner of transportation from air planes to automobiles through to some motorcycles. No expense is spared as Jarmush throws up these icons of consumerism and waste. Even the houses Murray visits are shrines of waste. None have double glazing and all have ceiling that are so high they could have their own micro-atmosphere to hold the Co2.

Jarmush is relentless in his pursuit to show ecological hypocrisy. At one one he shows Murray picking wild flowers to illustrate how greedy mankind is. Once picked they are dead rather than being allowed to grow and help balance nature and Co2 emissions.

Unlike his other films, Jarmush goes over the top with the amount of actors he uses - thus showing that all these actors are using up valuable oxygen and questioning what are they doing on the planet. This applies particularly to Mr. Murray.

If there is but one question about this film that remains unanswered it is this: If Mr. Jarmush wanted to make an eco warrior film why did he waste so much celluloid film stock and use so much lighting to make the film? Surely a 30 second short with a statement would have been better and of course much more direct than his film. Maybe he'll tell us one day?

In Bruges

A Stroke Of Genius
I rarely heap unqualified praise on a film as I can generally find something to get my claws in but not with "In Bruges". It is a masterpiece of black comedy. I loved it so much I watched it twice in seven days and could watch it again and again and still laugh.

It is one of those films where, as they say, the chemistry is perfect. Gleeson's performance is stupendous. A large brooding man with a soft interior acts as the perfect foil for Farrel's almost manic character. The script is superbly crafted and the timing of these two actors would put many a stand up comedian to shame.

I admire the director for selecting Bruges for the backdrop. How many more 'cockney gangsta' films must we see that are shot in London? He has broken the mould.

I have to admit I have no liking for Ralph Fiennes. How could anybody like a pratt that insists on being called Rafe and not Ralph? Conceit or what? Having said that his character performance is brilliant. It goes from parody to menacing and his face and accent for the role fit the bill perfectly.

I think it's going to be a long long time before I see another film of this calibre.

I would shower this film with awards and it is to be hoped the Director/Writer gets busy with some more high class entertainment.


Son of Rambow

I'm not totally sure I should be writing this because I believe the film was aimed at young people. If not then I did not understand what was going on. The narrative was terrible. It seemed as if somebody had shot a sequence and then cut it all up and asked somebody who didn't know what they were doing to join it together.

What was with the camera work and lighting? Constant long shots and zooms that got in the way. The scene in the hospital was too dark. No way would a hospital ward for a child be so dark. And then the bleeping heart monitor for somebody with just a broken leg? Oh dear? As mentioned by previous contributors. What was the French exchange student all about? I guess it was to make up for the lack of any original ideas.

I guess if it was edited down to say 40 minutes with a little more vibrancy it would work.

One mark for the actor ad I'm glad I rented it on DVD instead of spending money on a cinema ticket.

If this was a film about childhood it failed.

La faute à Fidel!

Blame It On Julie Gavras
Yes, blame it on Julie Gavras for making one of the most boring and clichéd films ever to concern childhood.

I can't believe how excited I was in looking forward to seeing this film. As it turns out, I was bitterly disappointed. I'll save you the nonsense essays about the 1960's and revolutions. In this contrived film they have little relevance except to act as a crutch for a film that is teetering on disaster.

As for the so called little girl - Nina Kervel-Bey. Do you know of any soulless, miserable children of nine years going on ninety years of age? I don't. Is Gavras really trying to tell us that children become traumatised because of their parent's political changes? What nonsense. Maybe she should visit a few homes where children have really been traumatised by horrid experiences.

Key features missing from this film are warmth, love and compassion. A po faced Kervel-Bey and her entourage just don't deliver. Any humour there is comes from a few glib lines from her father. Moreover most of the 'action' takes place within a claustrophobic interior.

Should Ms Gavras ever venture into making other films with children she would do well to watch "Jeux Interdit" or "Anche Libero Va Bene". And had she watched the exceptional "Together" by Lukas Moodysson she wouldn't have bothered making "Blame It On Fidel".

If nothing else Ms Gavras has performed a minor miracle. She has managed to combine two key French elements into one film. Namely the bourgeoisie and the lumpen proletariat. Maybe that's why it's such a dog's dinner of a film. At least with one or the other genres one knows who is the real enemy.

Zero points because it wasted some of my life when I could have been plucking chickens.

Den brysomme mannen

More Frying Pan Than Dead Pan
I consider myself a fairly good critic of dead pan humour and have watched quite a few European films in this genre. This film is somewhere on the planet Mercury in comparison with the dead pan humour and work of the Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki. Even "Kitchen Stories" by Bent Hamer had much more going for it than this film. And that was as nearly exciting as peeling an apricot.

Put me in the editing suite and I'd hack it down to a 20 minute short. Sparse dialogue and incredibly long cuts do not make for a good film nor does the opening homage shot to Paris Texas - a cheap shot at a brilliant film that did illustrate alienation and angst.

Had the director wanted to tell us what we already know, that Norway is boring, then all he need do would be to film a roll of wallpaper being rolled and unrolled. It would have been a lot more exciting, especially had it carried a flower print.

Finally my cat knows nothing of existentialism but he knows a good film when he sees one. He was sick all over my bed within the first fifteen minutes.

Tip: The Director and crew should consider getting a job in a smelting foundry given that they like steel so much.

I award it the points of the Norwegian winter temperature - 30 C and 1 point for the runner.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down a Dream

Could Have Been Better
I bought this on both the name of Petty and Bogdanovich. Alas I didn't think Bogdanovich did as best as he could. Why for example include extracts from the "Gainesville Concert" in the two narrative DVD's when they are already on the Gainesville concert DVD? Padding out or what? I struggle to believe that he and his team went through thousands or hundreds of hours of clips. As I write this I am beginning to wonder if they only used Bogdanovich as a 'selling name'. In reality no director was needed. Rather it would have been better with a ruthless editor.

It was an interesting bio-rock venture that could have been done much better by the BBC's "Arena" team. I feel Scorcese's "The Band's Last Waltz" set the high bar in rock music bio-pics. Sadly Petty and Bogdanovich didn't reach the bar.

The Peacemaker

I Hope Hollywood Isn't The Voice Of America
Retrospective. Oh dear, oh dear oh dear. What trite nonsense. Be it Nicole Kidman desperately trying to look sexy with wet hair or delivering the immortal line: 'I'd be more worried by a terrorist with one bomb than ten', this films is utter balderdash. Once more American film studios search out a bette noir, this time it's the Bosnians. And hey, surprise, surprise, those darned Ruskies are friends.

One an only assume that the people who watch this kind of film have the mental capacity of Mickey Mouse - hence the need for exciting location titles every few moments - not that they are needed because there is a gross stereotype for every nationality or ethnic minority. If I hear another Russian called Dimitri I am going to scream.

I loved the peasantification of the the Serbs and Croats. Have the film crew ever been to Eastern Europe? Clearly not.

The positive aspect of the film is that it enables one to discriminate between bad films and good films. nice to have such bad films at hand.

I dread the day when some other director and 'B' grade actors make a film on the Iraq conflict. I'll conclude as I started. Oh dear,oh dear.

Á köldum klaka

Teny Years On - The Film Still Works
Ten years later this very compact film still works its magic. Much has been said by many of the other contributors with one exception. It is not a film to be rushed. Rather you need to view at the speed the film dictates - not unlike "Paris, Texas. Like the swirling mists and snow it slowly envelops you. No frame is wasted. Even a casual remark in the aeroplane en-route to Iceland gives a link for the future.

Many different cultures have their cultural layers peeled back; American, Japanese, Icelandic and Norse mythology. It's up to the viewer to see what he or she sees.

I think the most telling scene in the film is the Icelander who befriends Hirata. Although he does not want to accompany Hirata to the ritual grave scene because of a 'spirit dream', he nonetheless is there to show him the way home. In so doing, he witnesses a universal value with Hirate - the passing of life.

There's much to be said for good small budget films. The story and direction have to be tightly constrained.

Merci pour le chocolat

Decadence In The French Cinema
The French either make pro-Marxist films or anti-Marxist films - with a few in between. "Merci pour le chocolat" is the latter of this genre. From the opening credits telling the viewer what music is going to be played and by whom it was who composed you know that you are going to be swathed in middle class pretension. It is an old man's film with an excess of 40's plus people. It is also directed by an old man along with an old crew who have nothing to say about life to the viewer. The plot is not only banal but preposterous. How many films reveal the plot through dialogue only to repeat the same message via flashback some five minutes later? Maybe the director and actors had a low retentive capacity? In truth their is no tenable plot at all. It is riddle with holes like a good piece of French cheese.

Whether intentional or not, it is a film about the bourgeoisie. At least a third of the film focuses on the piano and the pretentious twaddle espoused in each scene. I concede it has some well framed shots though they couldn't have used a steady-cam in this film - it would have woke them all up! Other than it being a nonsense story, the film allows the upper middle class to parade their values and vanity in a very comfortable Swiss location. A telling line of the film is when Rodolphe Pauly tells Anna Mouglalis that she need not lock her car while in the resort! Oh dear me.

On the DVD, Miss Huppert makes a comment about shedding a false tear for a scene. Smirking she says: "Like they do in the American Actor's Studio!" I think Miss Huppert and the rest of the cast could learn well from the Actor's Studio.

If there is one statement that stand out in my mind it is when Huppert remarks 'we are having friends for the weekend and all the servants are away'. No doubt they had all escaped from the mind numbing set lest they be associated with such an appalling film.

Safety Medical Note. In the film they show a hot water scald being covered with ointment and a bandage. This should never be done. Only cold water should be used.

Minus 10 marks.

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