Film Reviews by Alphaville

Welcome to Alphaville's film reviews page. Alphaville has written 794 reviews and rated 751 films.

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The Man on the Train

Time-filler

(Edit) 23/11/2023

Two men meet – one a bank robber, the other a retired schoolteacher – and discover that each envies the other’s life. That’s about it, really. This 2002 film was well received at the time, but it would have made a better play than a movie. It has nowhere to go and basically just marks time.

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Nathalie

Engrossing erotic mystery

(Edit) 19/11/2023

In this 2003 French drama the spark has gone out of the marriage of Fanny Ardant and Gérard Depardieu and Gérard is having affairs. So Fanny pays prostitute Emanuelle Béart to seduce him and report back in explicit – very explicit – detail. It’s an enthralling erotic drama as only the French can make: thought-provoking, gloriously free of moralising, full of romantic melancholy and with mysterious Hitchcockian overtones. You’ll want to know what happens.

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Trap for Cinderella

Underwhelming drag

(Edit) 17/11/2023

NB Misleading title. We follow Tuppence Middleton as she recovers her memory after a fire. There’s a twist plot point after half an hour, but not enough to save the film. It’s just not a very interesting tale and this underwhelming treatment adds nothing to it. Even at 86 minutes it drags. Some scenes seem contrived simply to show Tuppence topless.

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The Wandering Earth II

Confused sci-fi epic

(Edit) 12/11/2023

The first half-hour is a spectacular futuristic special effects battle between some people and some other people. It’s a visual spectacle, but what the heck is it all about? After that we have another 2½ hours mostly of politicking and Chinese propaganda, with poor acting and a pseudo-science plot that makes no sense. Hard to care, hard to sit through.

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Barocco

A mess of a movie

(Edit) 09/11/2023

Fascinating to see Gerard and Isabelle before they became big stars, but the film itself is a mess that does them no service. You may need to check the DVD sleeve notes to find out what’s going on. Scenes lack focus, acting and dialogue are poor and the director just doesn’t seem to have a handle on it. A waste of all the talents involved.

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Barbie

Yay! Girl power for the hard-of-thinking!

(Edit) 08/11/2023

After the wokist travesty of Pride and Prejudice, at least this over-hyped Greta Gerwig kids’ movie is an improvement. I know, it had to be. Still, let’s give it a charitable two stars instead of one. Unless you’re an uncritical young girl, it’s still surely a pain to sit through, with its embarrassingly simplistic brain-dead message shoved down our throats to a cheery muzak score (except for the obligatory plinky-plonk piano during the cringe-worthy maudlin bits). There’s so little going on here besides the bubblegum message that it has to run out of steam and does so with impressive tawdriness by filling screen-time with barrel-scraping musical numbers.

“Just tell me what you want, what you really really want.” You might as well listen to the Spice Girls as watch this movie. That would save time, have more intellectual heft and, hard to believe, be less annoying.

4 out of 8 members found this review helpful.

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Les Visiteurs 2: The Corridors of Time

Misfiring sequel

(Edit) 04/11/2023

Manic sequel to the joyous original misfires completely. It aims to be madcap, but it lacks the surprise value of the original and the shouty, pantomime humour just grates.

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La Civil

Boring travesty of film-making

(Edit) 04/11/2023

Gritty, score-free, kitchen-sink rendering of a Mexican kidnap story. It even begins in a kitchen. It’s the kind of film that features over-long static takes of head-shots, whether talking or not talking. Any action usually takes place off camera while we watch someone react to it. Naturally it’s been championed by arthouses and shown at Cannes, but it’s achingly slow and dull.

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I Love You, I Don't

Amateurish, boundary-pushing curiosity

(Edit) 28/10/2023

Together or apart, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin were fascinating people and cultural icons. Named after their notorious hit single, this unbelievable and typically outrageous 1976 film he made of her – a waitress falling for a homosexual garbage man – is little more than an excuse to show her naked. Ironically, the fact that it pushes boundaries while being at the same time amateurishly bad makes it fascinating to watch, so two stars for sheer effrontery.

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Midsommar

Boring over-rated tosh

(Edit) 26/10/2023

After a static opening with Florence Pugh emoting in close-up on the phone for ages, it remains a stagey talkfest until the main characters move to Sweden after a long half-hour. At least we have some sunny outdoor scenes now, but it remains soooo slow. The plot, minimal though it is, gets sillier and sillier until it turns into The Wicker Man. If you liked that similarly over-rated film, you might find something to keep you awake here, otherwise don’t waste your time.

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The Battle at Water Gate Bridge

Ridiculous Chinese propaganda film

(Edit) 25/10/2023

Hard to believe this sort of propaganda film is still being made in the 2020s. Even if you’re on the Chinese side, surely it must seem ridiculous. The snowy battle scenes are lavishly filmed by acclaimed director Tsui Hark, but the heroic Chinese soldiers are hammy cardboard cut-outs and the wooden American soldiers, obviously poorly directed, are a joke. There’s plenty of repetitive explosive action, but have pyrotechnics ever been so boring?

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Asteroid City

Another Wes Anderson dronathon

(Edit) 19/10/2023

So over-stylised and irritating it’s impossible to watch. Visuals, dialogue, acting… unreal characters droning boring speeches to camera… nothing of interest happening… Couldn’t last more than fifteen minutes before hitting FF. How can anyone give this boring Emperor’s Clothes of a film five stars? One star for the Spanish set’s nice colours.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Arahan

Cracking fight scenes

(Edit) 14/10/2023

Terrific balletic wirework fight scenes with a supercool heroine, an intense floppy-haired baddie and a nerdy hero. Shame about the hero, who is hammy and off-putting. This makes the overlong between-action scenes boring, even childishly knockabout to begin with, but the character does evolve. In any case it’s the fight scenes that make the film worth the price of admission. Beautifully choreographed and directed, the climactic rumble lasts a whole 20 minutes.

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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Slow start, unforgettable finish

(Edit) 14/10/2023

They’re excavating in arctic Finland and strange things are happening. Who or what has slaughtered a whole reindeer herd? Who or what has stolen all the radiators from the village? Could it be a monstrous evil Santa Claus? Such is the novel premise for this early oddball film from writer/director Jalmari Helander (of Sisu fame). Filmed mostly from a child’s POV, it doesn’t really take off until halfway through its meagre 80min run time, but it’s worth sticking with. It gets even wackier as it progresses and the climax features some magical scenes in the snow.

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Winter War

Sheer hagiography

(Edit) 15/10/2023

Heroic warm-hearted Slovenians v evil Nazis bawling orders. This is like one of those old Russian films lionising Stalin. For its 75-minute length our hero partisans suffer in snowy woods and swap intermittent gunfire with the enemy while the commanding officer tells us in voiceover what’s going on and how he feels. It’s a travesty of a film that does disservice to the real events and people on which it’s based. At the end some of the real-life surviving protagonists appear to tell us how they really feel and that’s the only true, moving, poignant section of the whole film.

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