Film Reviews by GI

Welcome to GI's film reviews page. GI has written 276 reviews and rated 863 films.

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Relic

Clever Psychological Horror

(Edit) 12/06/2021

A surprisingly interesting psychological horror film that is full of suspense and creepiness and has an underlying theme that is really clever. When her 80 year old and dementia suffering mother Edna (Robyn Nevin) goes missing Kay (Emily Mortimer) and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) head to her isolated house to try and find her with Kay feeling especially guilty for not having been more attentive. The house reveals many signs of her increasing dementia and her disappearance is a real mystery until one morning she just as mysteriously turns up. As the three women explore the complexities of their relationship with each other the house begins to reveal strange phenomena which soon become very worrying indeed. The horror aspects of this narrative explores the labyrinth of Edna's mind trapped within dementia and occasionally finding some light of normality. With a very creepy house and some extremely effective sound effects the build up of tension and fear is impactive. The essence of the story being that Edna's failing mind is manifested in changes to the environment around her. This makes for quite an unsettling horror film that I recommend.

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The American

A Gem of a Thriller

(Edit) 11/06/2021

This is a fantastic crime thriller, full of suspense and very much in the style of those great films from the 1970s such as Get Carter (1971) and The Day Of The Jackal (1973), with a hint of espionage about the story and with a slow burning plot that occasionally explodes into sudden violence. George Clooney plays Jack, a cold professional assassin, who is recuperating between jobs in Sweden when there's an attempt on his life. He flees to Rome and makes contact with his underworld fixer who sends him to a small picturesque village in the heart of Italy. Jack is given a job to build a sniper rifle for use by another killer and agrees to do so on the condition it's his last job. But no-one can be trusted. This is a tale about betrayal, redemption and there's a bit of 007 about Jack although he's no spy. Indeed the character is laconic to the extent that you can see Clooney channelling Clint Eastwood's 70s persona into his performance. This is not an action film but a though provoking thriller that works on every level, from the beautiful cinematography to the taut excitement when Jack is forced into violence. A gem of a film and one I highly recommend if you've not seen it.

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Dark Waters

Good, solid Legal Thriller

(Edit) 11/06/2021

This is a legal thriller based on real events where a corporate lawyer takes on a big company to fight for the ordinary man. Mark Ruffalo plays Rob Bilott, a successful lawyer in a huge firm that specialises in representing huge corporations. One day a very grumpy farmer arrives at his plush office wanting to sue the huge chemical company DuPont for poisoning his water resulting in the death of his cattle. Reluctantly Rob takes the case and soon sniffs a cover up is taking place and during the course of the film discovers the dumping of the chemical used to make Teflon has caused much more serious problems for the local communities affected. Like most of these exposé narratives this is a story of corruption and immorality with the making of huge profit of more importance than protecting people. Ruffalo is full of righteous indignation as the committed lawyer and he's supported by Tim Robbins as his boss, Anne Hathaway as his long suffering wife and American character actor Bill Camp as the farmer who kicks the whole thing off. A watchable and interesting film that is well worth an evening's viewing.

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Amelie

An Absolute Delight

(Edit) 10/06/2021

Amélie is a film of sheer delight. It's a tale of love, happiness and with an aura of fantasy it's a film that will leave you with a heart warming sense of life. Shot in a balmy, pastel palette and set in Paris it tells the tale of Amélie (Audrey Tautou), a young woman who has grown up isolated and lonely after her father wrongly assumes she has a heart defect and overly protects her. To counter this Amélie creates a world around herself that sees goodness and happiness as she finds fun in the smallest of things. As an adult and a humble waitress she decides to dedicate her time to helping others and she also begins to fall for Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz) when she finds his strange photo album. This is a tale about life and the art of enjoying it whatever your circumstances. It's full of lovely, well drawn characters who each have some issue or other and to which Amélie decides to try and change for the better. If you're aware of mindfulness then you'll spot how this film fits into that concept. At it's centre this is a beautiful romance with elements of a mystery story and a film that has originality, humour and joy. A film to turn to when you might feel low because this will bring life back into focus. Ah the magic of cinema. If you've never seen this then it's a must.

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Little Monsters

Amiable Horror Comedy

(Edit) 09/06/2021

An amiable adult horror comedy that mines the well worn road of the zombie sub-genre and manages to be enjoyable despite the clichés. Dave (Alexander England) is a layabout who agrees to help with his 5 year old nephew's class trip to a petting zoo because he fancies the teacher, Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong'o). Dave comes into his own when a zombie outbreak starts after an escape from a military laboratory next door. The film is crude, bloody and quite funny but it's the little kids that make it. All charming and who handle the whole horror thing really well. Like Zombieland (2009) this is entertaining and fun so worth a watch. Josh Gadd supports as a cowardly and unpleasant children's TV host.

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Amadeus

Wonderful Period Drama

(Edit) 08/06/2021

A sumptuous period drama and a tale of jealousy, rivalry and of a genius and above all a story rich in music . Although centred around the story of Mozart this is only a part biopic and is mostly a work of fiction. Set in the late Eighteenth Century with a beautiful visual recreation of Vienna this tells the story of the relationship between Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), the music composer to the court of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph (Jeffrey Jones) and the young Wolfgang Mozart (Tom Hulce), a promiscuous vulgar clown who also happens to be a genius composer. Salieri grows to hate the young upstart for his talent which he believes is undeserved and vows to destroy Mozart, yet still finds his music utterly divine and magical. This story of envy is wondrously told and with two brilliant central performances bound together by the fantastic music and scenes from the operas of both composers. It's told in one big flashback as Salieri as an old man confesses his jealousy to a young priest having attempted suicide. Even if classical music is not to your taste this is still a film that will enthral as it is such a joy, with humour and sadness. It's depiction of the times is on a par with Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975), and the use of natural light is especially reminiscent of that classic film, and the style made me recall Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers (1973) with the detailed crowd scenes. Ultimately this is a story of self destruction, a sad film but one that is a rich viewing experience I really recommend it if you've never seen it (ensure you watch the Director's Cut).

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A Quiet Place: Part II

Brash, Exciting Sequel

(Edit) 03/06/2021

A big, brash and thoroughly entertaining sequel to the 2018 smash hit. After a brilliant prequel prologue the film begins exactly where the earlier one left off and whilst the originality of the life threatening need to remain absolutely silent and the very nasty creatures is now very familiar this story is moves the story into a quest narrative. With their home gone Evelyn (Emily Blunt) with her children, the deaf Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and the new baby head towards the coast where they think there maybe a sanctuary from the creatures that roam the countryside. They meet up with former neighbour Emmett (Cillian Murphy) who may or may not be an asset! There are plenty of jump scares, some of which made me yelp and the set pieces are exciting, tense and at times full on horror. Emily Blunt is underused which is a bit lacking and there's some interesting aspects that are left a little too unexplained - a sequence involving some feral people for instance - but overall a worthy sequel and a semi-cliffhanger ending suggesting another film in the pipeline. Well worth a trip to the cinema for the sheer experience and spectacle and as a post apocalyptic story one can't help but think of this as a Covid 19 allegory.

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The Kid

Tedious Billy The Kid Retelling

(Edit) 03/06/2021

Another attempt at retelling the Billy The Kid story only this time wrapping it around the story of a young boy and his older sister on the run from their vengeful uncle after having killed their abusive father. Director and script writer Vincent D'Onofrio is clearly in awe of Sam Peckinpah's revisionist western classic Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid (1973) because he effectively recreates scenes from that film and attempts the same style and atmosphere. But this film is far too talky, with long, contemplative speeches that render the whole thing tedious at times. Getting bogged down in the Billy The Kid story pushes the potentially more exciting story of the fleeing siblings to the background and it's only at the end that this becomes the film's focus. With Ethan Hawke as Pat Garrett, Dane DeHaan as Billy and Chris Pratt as the bad guy Uncle (sadly underused but worth the wait at the end) this has a reasonable cast but the film offers nothing new to the western genre.

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The Baker

Silly British Comedy

(Edit) 03/06/2021

The Baker is a sort of poor man's Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) mixed with one of those cultural comedies much beloved in the UK. It's totally preposterous, very silly and totally clichéd with a slapstick sex scene that isn't funny and stupid characters. It's not a total loss as occasionally it makes you laugh out loud but by the end it's forgettable. Damien Lewis is professional hitman Milo Shakespeare who, disillusioned by his trade, decides to leave and uses the escape plan hatched by his old mentor (Michael Gambon) and heads into the Welsh valleys where he holes up in a rundown baker's shop. The inherently stupid villagers think he's the new baker except one who discovers Milo's hidden weapons stash and correctly guesses his real skills. This opens up the story into a series of incredible misunderstandings and coincidences that may make you groan out loud. There's a love interest of course and a nemesis in the form of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. The narrative is an attempt at a Carry-On/Ealing comedy style but ultimately it's a daft film.

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Jumanji: The Next Level

Entertaining Sequel

(Edit) 02/06/2021

The surprising success and good fun of 2017s Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle was inevitably going to lead to a quick sequel. The Next Level brings a lot more of the same and adds two old curmudgeonly codgers into the mix (Danny DeVito & Danny Glover) as the gang of four friends venture back into the fantastical game. There's plenty of comedy, action and rips from everything from Tomb Raider to Game of Thrones. The characters here get to do a lot of body swapping which ups the laughs although some of the jokes fall a bit flat. Overall this is a piece of family entertainment that will delight those of a young age and a short scene in the middle of the end credits hints at perhaps another sequel on the way.

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The Invisible Man

Excellent Suspense Thriller

(Edit) 30/05/2021

Director Leigh Whannell has very cleverly and wisely taken this story and turned it into a contemporary suspense thriller that really works and this is aided by the compelling performance of Elisabeth Moss, an actor who has the ability to communicate with an audience even when there is no dialogue. She plays Cecilia (nicknamed 'C'....get it?) who in the film's opening manages a dangerous and daring escape from her controlling and abusive husband Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). He's a wealthy 'genius in the world of optics and they live in an ultra modern house where he also conducts his experimental work. In dreadful fear he will hunt her down she stays with a policeman friend and his teenage daughter but her fears are soon over when news arrives that Adrian has committed suicide and left her his fortune. Unfortunately strange happenings begin to happen around Cecilia and she begins to suspect that Adrian is still alive and somehow the cause. The story builds well with some clever effects and it's shot, for the most part, in brightly lit scenes making some of the events quite a shock. There's a couple of plot holes that do glare out somewhat but these can be forgiven because this is a well executed, well told thriller with a science fiction edge and with a brilliant lead performance. It's really entertaining and I recommend it.

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Almost Famous

Topnotch

(Edit) 28/05/2021

Funny and poignant coming-of-age story that has developed a bit of a cult following over the years mainly due to it being set in the world of 70s rock 'n' roll. So there is an added nostalgic feel to this if you remember those days enhanced by the wonderful soundtrack. Fifteen year old William (Patrick Fugit), despite his domineering and controlling mother (Frances McDormand), is an aspiring rock journalist having been turned onto the music by his older sister (Zooey Deschanel). He manages to bag himself an assignment from Rolling Stone magazine to go on tour with up and coming band Stillwater and produce an article for publication. Adopted by the band especially their charismatic guitarist Richard (Billy Crudup) he also finds himself falling for band groupie Penny (Kate Hudson). But he soon finds disillusionment in the world of the music industry, drugs and false loyalties. By the end though the film exudes a gentle romantic warmth which makes it a great story and a really entertaining film. Overall it's humorous and rather a lovely film so if you haven't seen this then I highly recommend it.

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Nomadland

Beautiful Drama

(Edit) 28/05/2021

A gentle and compassionate film that has a magical quality to it and seems to question the very nature of the American Dream. Frances McDormand plays Fern, a middle aged widow who has lost everything in the 2008 recession when the company her late husband worked for collapsed effectively closing down the town too. Without complaint she becomes a 'nomad', buying a van and travelling around the country following seasonal work. She finds a sort of peace and tranquil life amongst her fellow nomads who teach her how to live a satisfied and fulfilled life on the road. In a sense there's a post apocalyptic feel to the film and at times I was expecting the gentle nomads to be harangued by Hells Angels or something but this never happens as this is a film about finding a state of peace in life. There are many hardships and heartaches though for these people who bond in a most beautiful way and who have a catchphrase of 'see you down the road' even if this maybe in months or years and in some cases into eternity. America is painted here almost like a wasteland and often a harsh place and although Fern is offered a return to a 'normal' life on two occasions she rejects them in order to maintain the magic she's discovered. McDormand in a quite understated yet powerful performance is in every scene and deserves the accolades she has received, it's arguably her best role. This is a film that looks at America yet doesn't need to thrust the economic disaster of why people have to resort to this lifestyle into the story, it's presented here for all to see. A mesmerising film at times with a beautiful score and images. It's a film worth seeing at the cinema if you can.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Pointless Sequel

(Edit) 27/05/2021

A clunky, very noisy and unsubtle sequel to the 2014 reboot. You can see that a lot of money went into this and to be sure it's occasionally visually very impressive. But it's all rather pointless and confusing and by about half way through you just want it to end, but boy does it drag. Following on from the earlier film we have estranged scientist couple Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga getting mixed up in a secret organisation called Monarch that is studying and searching for the newly discovered 'Titans'. They've found seventeen of them around the globe and guess what? Yes they all more or less get woken up and fight one another. This cues loads of massive destruction, lots of roaring and even some vague attempt at religious allegory to try and make it all seem serious and worthwhile. An empty film that makes 2014s Godzilla look much better.

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Rocks

OK Social Drama

(Edit) 26/05/2021

A social drama that in true Loachian fashion depicts a rundown Britain and a sense of no hope for the future of today's youth. In that sense it's a dour film, riddled with sadness but tinged with humour. Filmed with mostly amateur and non actors it has that realism that attracts critics but I'm not convinced it's a film that really gets to the heart of its themes. Bafta winning Bukky Bakery plays a British born Nigerian girl nicknamed Rocks and the film follows her daily life at school with her group of friends, her talent with cosmetics but trying to cope with her mentally ill mother whilst taking care of her little brother, Emmanuel (D'angelou Osei Kissiedu). When their mother disappears leaving them to fend for themselves Rocks is forced to take to the streets with her brother to avoid Social Services. This threatens her stability with friends and her future. I always had a sense that I've seen this narrative repeated many times before not least in Loach's seminal classic Kes (1969), and to that end it didn't offer anything new to say on the implications of the multi-racial complexities of modern Britain.

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