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Images (1972)
Dir. Robert Altman

 

Continuing my mission to watch all the hidden little gems that have slipped past me, I finally caught this little corker of a psychodrama.

Suzannah York plays an artists wife, whose paranoia and guilt over a previous affair (on both sides) is kicked off when she receives a mysterious phone call telling her that her husband is with another woman. He immediately recognises her symptoms and whisks her away to his home in the country, where the isolation only elevates her psychosis. Spiralling her into dangerous mania. 

Shot by Vilmos Zsigmond and with a discordant score by John Williams, this is absolutely sumptuously shot and confidently directed. It has a biting sense of humour that gives a unique edge to the haunting and affecting paranoia. There is some wonderful editing and some genuinely creepy moments (the figure on the hill that is constantly watching the house) and while I saw where it was going, it's a very entertaining ride. Elements of Polanskis Repulsion, mixed with a big dollop of Hammers House of Horror to create an intimate but impressive little thriller. Feels more an episode of a TV series than a standalone movie. But solid.

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E.T. The Extra Terrrestrial (1982, 4K Blu-Ray)

 

When an alien gets stranded on Earth he makes an unlikely connection with a young boy called Elliott (Henry Thomas). The newly christened E.T. must find a way to get home with government agents in hot pursuit.

 

Steven Spielberg's film remains as enchanting today as it was in 1982. Filled with many of the themes and tropes that would define Spielberg as one of the greats, it became the most successful movie of all time (an accolade it kept for 11 years until the release of Spielberg's Jurassic Park).

 

The story behind E.T. is a slight one, but it's elevated thanks to the convincing performances from its young cast, particularly Thomas and Drew Barrymore as his younger sister Gertie. It's filled with lovely touches from the kids discussing their absent dad to Elliott showing E.T. around his room and it's sweet without ever being cloying. But then, family drama is Spielberg's bread and butter and is never more apparent than it is in E.T..

 

Equally apparent is just how many memorable sequences his film has, from the tense build as E.T. runs from his pursuers to that astonishing moon sequence (which proves just as effective in the film's final act) and that frantic BMX chase. Raised by John Williams' magnificent score, it's a movie filled with brilliant flourishes and masterful touches. And let's not forget E.T. himself, an astonishing creation by Carlo Rambaldi which proves you don't need cutting-edge CGI to create realistic characters, you just need a great script.

 

A fantastic movie that I'll never be bored of watching. Incidentally the new 4K transfer is absolutely stunning, meaning you'll be able to appreciate Spielberg's film like never before.

5/5
 

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T-Force (1994)

It's 2007. When a group of cybernetic law enforcement droids go rogue it's down to a robot-hating cop and an android to stop them. No-nonsense straight-to-video action from PM Entertainment with everything you'd expect: explosions, gun fights, one-liners. This one takes several cues from The Terminator films, from props to a scene where the cyborgs shoot up a police station that was a pretty good take-off of the scene in the first Terminator. It's obvious from the get-go Jack Scalia's cyber-cynic cop will end up being best buddies with force-for-good robot Evan Lurie. In fact it's this joyful predictability, combined with plenty of explosive action, that makes this an enjoyable watch.

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The Favourite

 

First cinema visit of 2019. Queen Anne commands the throne of England, at war with France and her own courtiers. Unfortunately she’s quite mad. Guided by the faithful Sarah (Rachel Weisz) who wields enormous influence and indeed the film wants to have us believe is acting as queen in all but name, the relationship is tested when fallen cousin Annabel (Emma Stone) arrives with an eye on a better life, by any means.

 

Frankly, if you’ve seen the trailers, there’s not a lot to surprise. Weisz for me steals the movie, a really exceptional performance, but as far as depictions of mad monarchs go I think Olivia Coleman is some way behind even her co star here Mark Gatiss’s turn in BBC’s Taboo.

 

And that’s kind of the problem - it doesn’t really shock, or delight, in ways that haven’t been done better elsewhere. It’s all very formulaic, and the film craft at times maddeningly pretentious (or just plain annoying in the case of fish eye lens).

 

Not a terrific start to the year but not terrible - typical awards season fodder.

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The Lady Vanishes (1936)

 

Two women board a train, but when one disappears, the other has a hard time convincing her fellow passengers that she actually existed. 

 

I've slowed down watching films since i managed to see so many last year. I'll still watch and post about them, just not quite so often. I watched this because Linkster mentioned it above. The Lady Vanishes is an early Hitchcock film that stars Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave and May Witty. The premise is fairly simple - a girl on a train back to England to get married, befriends a children's governess, who is also heading home. After falling a sleep, the girl awakes to find the woman gone, and everyone she asks denies she exists. Fearing for her sanity but knowing she is correct, she teams up with another passenger (who had annoyed her no end back at her hotel) to get to the bottom of things. 

 

This was little short of brilliant, and hugely enjoyable on a number of levels. The film begins almost as a comedy of manners, focusing on two English gentlemen trying to get back to England in time for an undisclosed event. Other characters move in and out of the picture for the first thirty minutes, and what appear to be incidental parts soon manifest into the leads. This is a really strong opening, setting much up for what comes later without you even realising it. It's here we're introduced to Lockwood and Redgrave, who have such fantastic chemistry that I'd happily have watched them in further adventures. Their sparring and dialogue burns up the screen, and Redgrave in particular is so fast with his ready wit and knowledge. Lockwood is feisty, tough and not easily swayed in her convictions. I loved both the characters. 

 

The supporting cast are lots of fun too. The two English guys and their manners (and task at hand) lent themselves to some good situations (I read just that they actually show up in three, largely unrelated movies). There's the lawyer who's with someone he shouldn't be with and is desperate to protect his rep. Then there's all manner of minor and major characters, some suspicious, and some happy to help. The plot was balanced just right, and the central mystery is held in place for long enough to be intriguing but not frustrating. There was also an exciting wrap up, some genuine laugh out loud moments and a wonderful final scene. 

 

Superb entertainment, really worth seeing. A great choice for the first film of the year.

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@Goose when you say ‘undisclosed event’ are you being coy or did you genuinely not know what they were returning home for ...?

 

totally agree about Lockwood and Redgrave, they are on a par with Indy and Marion for me and praise don’t get no higher 

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32 minutes ago, Goose said:

I didn’t clock what it was until they mentioned the actual thing. 

 

Type of thing I tend to miss!

Well thinking back I honestly couldn’t remember if they mentioned the sport itself, just a lot of terms that I’d take for granted, just it occurred to me you are not in UK and it’d be funny if it was simply never actually stated

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23 minutes ago, cassidy said:

Lady vanishes just started on BBC2 btw 

The BBC did a recent adaptation which I found on iPlayer and after 20 minutes I just thought “surely the original has got to be better than this?” So I stopped watching and found it on Prime

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Lego Batman (2017, 4K Blu-Ray)

When Batman (Will Arnett) refuses to accept The Joker (Zach Galifianakis)   as his ultimate enemy, the snubbed villain finds a way to unleash the most evil minions in history on Gotham City. Batman must team up with Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) and Richard Grayson (Michael Cera) but will his inner rage allow him to do so?

 

For me, Will Arnett's portrayal of the Dark Knight was the best thing about The Lego Movie, so it's great to see he works just as well in his own movie. Arnett is superb as the hardened loner who craves for his own family and he delivers his many lines with great effect and superb timing. Fortunately he's surrounded by a great cast which includes a spunky Dawson, a goofy Cera and Zach Galifianakis who delivers his own manic take on Batman's most famous foe. Ralph Fiennes is also good value as Alfred and there are plenty of 'spot and you'll miss them' cameos once the evil villains arrive on the scene.

 

Full of smart one-liners and visual gags there's always something to discover in Lego Batman and it's passionate approach to its subject matter only gets stronger on repeat viewings. Yes it has an extremely on the nose message for any kids watching, but let's face it, when was the last time you could take them to see an honest to goodness Batman movie that wasn't choking on its own dark angst. Lego Batman isn't afraid to make fun of its subject matter and it's all the better for it.

 

It also looks fantastic too, thanks to the same distinctive animation style that made The Lego Movie stand out and exceptional use of HDR (high dynamic range). If you're looking for a movie that will keep both the adults and kids happy whilst also showing of your new TV, this is the perfect film to pick up.

4/5
 

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Proud Mary

 

Hitwoman Mary kills a mark but then spots a young boy, clearly his son, and realises she’s made an orphan of him. Wracked with guilt she eventually informally adopts him but in the process sets in motion a violent feud.

 

Had quite a long cinema ad campaign then I don’t think my local even showed it when the reviews were weak. It’s really not that bad, kind of like John Wick but without the bits that really made the series memorable.

 

Whats weird is the movie image is of Tina Turner, Motown and frankly a different era than the one it ultimately proves to be set in, making it hard (other than the female lead but that’s not exactly unusual with cracking moves like Salt, Hanna and Atomic Blonde around) to give it anything really memorable to hook on to.

 

still, it’s engaging enough, the leads are nice together, and the action while preposterous is ... no, actually it’s jjst preposterous 

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On 04/01/2019 at 17:17, kerraig UK said:

Images (1972)
Dir. Robert Altman

 

Continuing my mission to watch all the hidden little gems that have slipped past me, I finally caught this little corker of a psychodrama.

Suzannah York plays an artists wife, whose paranoia and guilt over a previous affair (on both sides) is kicked off when she receives a mysterious phone call telling her that her husband is with another woman. He immediately recognises her symptoms and whisks her away to his home in the country, where the isolation only elevates her psychosis. Spiralling her into dangerous mania. 

Shot by Vilmos Zsigmond and with a discordant score by John Williams, this is absolutely sumptuously shot and confidently directed. It has a biting sense of humour that gives a unique edge to the haunting and affecting paranoia. There is some wonderful editing and some genuinely creepy moments (the figure on the hill that is constantly watching the house) and while I saw where it was going, it's a very entertaining ride. Elements of Polanskis Repulsion, mixed with a big dollop of Hammers House of Horror to create an intimate but impressive little thriller. Feels more an episode of a TV series than a standalone movie. But solid.

 

This is one of my favourite Altman films. I always preferred his smaller experimental pictures (3 Women, Secret Honor etc.) to the big ensemble dramas.

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2 hours ago, lordcookie said:

 

This is one of my favourite Altman films. I always preferred his smaller experimental pictures (3 Women, Secret Honor etc.) to the big ensemble dramas.


Where would Short Cuts sit on that scale?

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From good cyborgs gone bad to bad cyborgs gone ... bad

 

Cyborg Cop 2 (1994)

A cop who lost his partner in a raid is on the hunt for the perpetrator who was taken from prison and, unknown to him, turned into a killer cyborg. David Bradley is back as Jack Ryan (not that one) in the sequel to 1993's Cyborg Cop. He's still got the leather jacket on, and he's still out for justice, although to be honest the motivation gives way to excuses for action and fighting pretty quickly. Plenty of explosions, including cars and a an acceptable gas station blast, gun fights, and slo-mo diving about, only marred slightly by some poor plotting (they fail to establish where characters appear, for instance). Much like many films of this era it sticks to a formula, the plot is writ-large silly but taken seriously enough, there's plenty of action and it all comes together to make something very entertaining for those who are prepared to overlook the shortcomings of a lower budget.

 

On a side note, I'm surprised we don't get films like this these days. It's sad to see how limp and boring a lot of straight-to-streaming action is. It seems to have forgotten how to have fun and enjoy the nonsense. It's a real shame this kind of vision appears to be lost as I'm finding these 90s STV action films to scratch that sweet spot of plenty of action, hackneyed-in-a-good-way plots and decent production values.

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These don't really count as reviews as such as I didn't see all of them (or was watching again). 

 

Death Kiss (2018)

 

The gimmick with this one is that the lead looks almost exactly like Charles Bronson. It could be Bronson, there's very little difference apart from this guy's awful acting. I watched the opening and it was terrible. It reminded me very much of Hobo With a Shotgun. Having skimmed through it, it doesn't appear to get any better. The plot looks to follow Not-Bronson helping out a young woman and her daughter, while a gang terrorise people. There's some graphic shooting and a violent rape, and the whole thing looks like it was shot on a camcorder. I gave up. 

 

Ralph Break the Internet (2018)

 

I saw a lot more of this but to be honest didn't enjoy it a whole lot. I find it difficult to like the character of Venelope and the massive overabundance of product placement (which I get, this being representative of the internet) was distracting. It seemed to go on for far too long and I somehow missed the bit with the Princesses. It had some moments, and some laughs, but I'd need to sit and watch it properly to get a better opinion - and at the moment I don't really want to. 

 

Searching (2018)

 

I watched this for the second time with my wife who hadn't seen it. Despite knowing the outcome, the film still worked very well and is one of the best uses of technology to further a story, rather than it be a gimmick. John Cho was excellent and the way the plot moves from one focus to another, leading you down a number of paths, was very well handled. 

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I loved Searching

 

Ralf doesn’t interest me at all: the first picture was bad enough but as soon as they started promoting this with “ooh we got 14 Disney princesses together, you can’t BELIEVE how hard that was to license” I just thought “who exactly are you making this for?”

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The Last Picture Show
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067328/

 

In 1951, a group of high schoolers come of age in a bleak, isolated, atrophied West Texas town that is slowly dying, both culturally and economically.

 

This was Peter Bogdanovics break out movie with a script by Larry McMurthy. Made in the early 70's but set in 1951 it's about a small town in Texas were nothing much is happening. The film follows a group of teenagers over the course of a few months as they finish highschool and try to make lives for themselves.

 

This was really great. It perfectly captured the death of a small town, the frustrations of teenagers and the sense of resentment the older generation feel towards them. 

 

The cast are all superb. Cybil Shepherd and Jeff Bridges in particular. Bridges plays the captain of the football team but he comes from a pretty working class family so there's no real future for him in the town. He's going with Cybil Shepherd, the daughter of one of the towns wealthier families, but despite his best efforts they'll never be together. The rest of the cast is full of great American faces with character and personality to spare.

 

It's filmed in black and white which gives it a nostalgic feel but that clashes nicely with the sex-scenes and the violence. It's full of beautiful, wide shots of deserted streets with tumble weed rolling along and interiors like pool-halls and diners that look like Edward Hopper paintings. And despite being almost 2 hours long it never feels slow or like it's dragging. 

 

A classic for sure.

4.5/5

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5 hours ago, kerraig UK said:


Where would Short Cuts sit on that scale?

 

Short Cuts is great (although I think my main enjoyment comes from being a Carver fan) but it's his smaller films I always return to.

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5 hours ago, Vimster said:

From good cyborgs gone bad to bad cyborgs gone ... bad

 

Cyborg Cop 2 (1994)

A cop who lost his partner in a raid is on the hunt for the perpetrator who was taken from prison and, unknown to him, turned into a killer cyborg. David Bradley is back as Jack Ryan (not that one) in the sequel to 1993's Cyborg Cop. He's still got the leather jacket on, and he's still out for justice, although to be honest the motivation gives way to excuses for action and fighting pretty quickly. Plenty of explosions, including cars and a an acceptable gas station blast, gun fights, and slo-mo diving about, only marred slightly by some poor plotting (they fail to establish where characters appear, for instance). Much like many films of this era it sticks to a formula, the plot is writ-large silly but taken seriously enough, there's plenty of action and it all comes together to make something very entertaining for those who are prepared to overlook the shortcomings of a lower budget.

 

On a side note, I'm surprised we don't get films like this these days. It's sad to see how limp and boring a lot of straight-to-streaming action is. It seems to have forgotten how to have fun and enjoy the nonsense. It's a real shame this kind of vision appears to be lost as I'm finding these 90s STV action films to scratch that sweet spot of plenty of action, hackneyed-in-a-good-way plots and decent production values.


Thats what the death of the DVD market has done. We don't notice what we miss. There's no way for a film like this to carve a niche anymore.

Here's another one. The gun based action film has almost completely died. We've had John Wick, Deadpool 2, Sicario and a shoot out in Hell or High Water in the last couple of years, but considering how prevalent guns were in cinema for decades, they are now surprisingly absent. With Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and Disney live action remakes monopolising the charts, the good cop goes after bad villain genre is on life support. 

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IRed Sparrow (2018, 4K Blu-Ray)

When a prominent ballerina (Jennifer Lawrence) suffers a career ending injury she's recruited into the Red Sparrows by her uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts) where she learns seduction techniques in order to extract information from an American spy (Joel Edgerton).

 

Red Sparrow reminds me of the spy thrillers I used to enjoy in the Seventies but with more rape and torture sequences. There's some powerful messaging in Francis Lawrence's movie, but it doesn't always hit the right tone. Lawrence does well as the ground down agent with everything to loose and it's a credit to her that you never quite know where her loyalties lie for the majority of Red Sparrow's running time. She's surrounded by an able cast, including Jeremy Irons as a Russian superior and Charlotte Rampling as her Sparrow instructor, but a lot of the drama is undermined by the weak accents on display.

 

Lacking in action, but able to pack emotional wallop thanks to a truly excruciating torture scene, Red Sparrow is an interesting movie that's a little too dour for its own good. It builds nicely towards its climax but then it's all over. Interesting, but largely forgettable.

2.5/5
 

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I liked it a lot. I don’t disagree with much of what you’ve said but the overall impact, especially with #metoo about a character who is essentially the property of so many and has to do whatever it takes to survive was gruelling but worth it

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19 minutes ago, linkster said:

I liked it a lot. I don’t disagree with much of what you’ve said but the overall impact, especially with #metoo about a character who is essentially the property of so many and has to do whatever it takes to survive was gruelling but worth it

Yeah i felt it was a timely film and with a stronger thrust it might have been better. It just didnt work for me.

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Green Book (2018/19)

 

A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

 

Really wasn’t sure I was going to like this as it seems a very odd film to be directed by Peter Farrelly, but I gave it a go as I really like both Vigo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. So glad I did as it’s a really enjoyable film. It’s pretty standard odd couple road trip movie fare, but just done really well. 

 

Whats odd is that it’s not getting released in the UK until January 30th. One of the main elements of the film is that they are trying to finish the tour in time to be home for Christmas. And quite a large chunk of the film is set around Christmas. You wouldn’t call it an outright Christmas film, but it’s one I definitely see myself re watching at that time of year. Baffling decision.

 

4/5

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11 minutes ago, Bazjam said:

Green Book (2018/19)

 

A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

 

Really wasn’t sure I was going to like this as it seems a very odd film to be directed by Peter Farrelly, but I gave it a go as I really like both Vigo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. So glad I did as it’s a really enjoyable film. It’s pretty standard odd couple road trip movie fare, but just done really well. 

 

Whats odd is that it’s not getting released in the UK until January 30th. One of the main elements of the film is that they are trying to finish the tour in time to be home for Christmas. And quite a large chunk of the film is set around Christmas. You wouldn’t call it an outright Christmas film, but it’s one I definitely see myself re watching at that time of year. Baffling decision.

 

4/5

4

 

 I thought it was superb, did have the standard odd couple basic story thread, but the chemistry and each of the main characters had proper depth and were relatable.

Went I came out from seeing it (saw it as a screening at LFF), the first thing I said was, Mahershala Ali is definitely getting an Oscar nomination for that performance.

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21 hours ago, linkster said:

Ralf doesn’t interest me at all: the first picture was bad enough but as soon as they started promoting this with “ooh we got 14 Disney princesses together, you can’t BELIEVE how hard that was to license” I just thought “who exactly are you making this for?”

 

But did they never allude to that cause it all Disney isn't it, so wouldn't have been hard at all.

 

I do agree that it doesn't know who it's catering for though. The first had enough to keep younger audiences interested without having to know the reference, but the sequel falls way short on that front. It's either "know the interent or don't get the jokes and tough luck". It was very dissapointing.

 

Incidentally the princesses are the best thing about it.

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5 minutes ago, Stigweard said:

 

But did they never allude to that cause it all Disney isn't it, so wouldn't have been hard at all.

 

It was the first thing I read about the movie - made a huge deal of it. I can’t honestly remember why it was such a ball ache as I know in theory it’s the same company owning all the IP, I’ll see if I can find the article 

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