Film Reviews by MB

Welcome to MB's film reviews page. MB has written 6 reviews and rated 357 films.

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Remember

Slow but riveting

(Edit) 13/10/2019

Yes, it's about old people. Yes, it's slow. And yes, it deals with dementia. BUT the story is terrific, Plummer is at the top of his game, and the movie hardly puts a foot wrong. As long as you go into it not expecting action or pyrotechnics, you may well like it.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Possession of Hannah Grace

Much better than expected

(Edit) 16/05/2019

Judging this film by its cover, you'd expect this to be a typical exorcism-based horror. And if you view the first scene (instead of fast-forwarding through it, as I'd recommend) you'd probably think, 'how boring, all the usual cliches'. But after that point the film starts getting better and better, leading me to suspect that the tease opening was added later by literal-minded producers as acrudely-obvious exorcism genre come-on.

What follows is not totally original, admittedly (The Autopsy of Jane Doe and Last Shift tread similar ground) but I found this as good as either of them. There's also a nod to the Danish horror NightWatch from several years ago. But this is a well-paced creepy horror set in a city morgue, with a sympathetic central character and a scary 'thing' stalking her. It's not a classic but it's good stuff.

P.S. Once you turn the lights back on and let your heartbeat return to normal, the 'Making of' featurette with the actress who plays the scary thing is rather fun.

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Ghost Stories

Lazily derivative but worth it for the creepy atmosphere

(Edit) 15/12/2018

Okay, I get it. It's difficult being original. And it's even harder in a genre like horror. But still...

I won't include the obvious spoilers, the main one lifted from a famous 1990s crime/heist movie. And if you know Silence of the Lambs well, you'll even hear snippets of dialogue from that movie in Ghost Stories - not as quotes but as, well, dialogue.

So why is this even worth watching? Two reasons: one is its creepy, oppressive atmosphere, beautifully realised by its Director of Photography. When a working men's club appears as a setting it's like you can *smell* the place and I can't recall a movie doing this so well for quite a while. [Actually, I can: the glacially slow but utterly terrifying Italian horror, 'Across the River']

Second reason is a remarkable performance from Alex Lawther, who pretty well steals the movie.

Overall: if you know your movies, prepare to be a bit annoyed. But if you can make a bet on Lawther winning a Oscar one day, you'll eventually win your Cinema Paradiso subscription money back.

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Across the River

For those who despair at poor MR James adaptations

(Edit) 07/01/2018

Not much to add to the excellent reviews above. Except to emphasise that, as in the best of the Japanese horrors, genuine creepiness and evocation of evil does takes time (e.g. 45-50 minutes in the case of Audition - but it's time well spent, as you'll know if you saw it). So if you go for this one, be in the right mood for a long, slow buildup. Maybe switch the lights off too, and you really will experience the kind of hair-rising, skin-crawling terror rare in cinema today.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Mr James Collection

M R James still waiting for a decent adaptation

(Edit) 06/01/2018

Having the seen the 1970's TV adaptations of M R James (good then; less so now) I was interested to see a couple of the more recent ones. Alas, they managed not only to be as staid as the worst moments of the 1970s ones but so relentlessly unimaginative they do James's ghost stories a real disservice.

Take 'A View from A Hill', one of James's most chilling stories. As the central character in the TV film explores the haunted hill - site of ancient hangings - the director attempts to evoke the place's morbid atmosphere with serial killer-style subjective camera shots (cf. Black Christmas and a hundred other slashers) mixed with half-seen movement - the latter ok for one shot but quickly irritating. It's too crude, too literal, and simply doesn't work.

For those wanting to experience a cinema version of M R James's often creepy atmospherics, which no-one has really managed so far, I'd recommend the Italian 'Across the River'. True, it can't supply James's distinctive Englishness, but its central character - a naturalist in search of night-time creatures, using fixed cameras - is a pretty good equivalent to James's peripatetic antiquaries in search of ancient texts. And like in James, the mysterious unseen creatures turn out to be immensely vengeful and vicious, despite their innocent appearance.

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The Chase

As bad a print as I've seen on DVD

(Edit) 20/10/2017

This is less of a review than a warning to potential renters. Unless you're of a certain age and used to watching big movies on well-used 8mm prints, this DVD is pretty well unwatchable. The print looks as if it's taken from 8mm or 16mm, with all celluloid's worst drawbacks (picture fuzziness and lack of focus, scratches, splices, horrible sound). Honestly, avoid for this reason alone.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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