Film Reviews by JR

Welcome to JR's film reviews page. JR has written 53 reviews and rated 101 films.

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The Happy Prince

Portrayal of Wilde's last years

(Edit) 01/11/2018

The multiple flashbacks make the structure of the film confusing. The film jumps all over the place: from Wilde's theatrical triumphs to the humiliation of incarceration, to his relationship with his children. But Everett's main interest seems to be the depiction of depravity, decline and excess. He gurns through strange facial prosthetics, as we follow Wilde in the grip of addictions to alcohol, food, drugs and sex with under age rent boys, and gay orgies. Throughout the film he intones the story of The Happy Prince, which only underlines the maudlin sentimentality of the film. 'Wilde' with Stephen Fry is a much better film.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Phantom Thread

Original and Finely crafted

(Edit) 16/10/2018

The film is as finely crafted as one of Reynolds' dresses. Care and attention has been paid to every frame; the locations, the sound, the cinematography, and the music are all perfect. The acting is superb - Day Lewis' performance is detailed, nuanced and and completely absorbing to watch.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Twee

(Edit) 08/10/2018

As twee as its title, this is romantic fiction but lacking in any chemistry between the leads. The dark history of the Nazi occupation of Guernsey is relegated to the background in favour of un-funny 'quirky' characters, pretty scenery and pretty dresses.

2 out of 6 members found this review helpful.

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Western

Definitely not a Western

(Edit) 29/09/2018

The mysterious and taciturn Meihard is the only one of the German construction workers who does not look down on the Bulgarian villagers, and causes tensions with his colleagues as a result. the depiction of life in a small Bulgarian village has some interest but overall the film is dull and what little happens takes a very long time to do so. It ends abruptly leaving the viewer to wonder why they bothered to watch the 119 tedious minutes

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Lean on Pete

Almost unbearably sad

(Edit) 25/09/2018

The protagonist, Charley, is a 16 year old boy who was abandoned as a baby by his mother, and has grown up in poverty and neglect with his feckless but occasionally affectionate father. Somehow he has avoided the brutalising effects of his upbringing and is a sensitive and withdrawn boy. The audience are rooting for Charley, but there is nothing but hardship and tragedy for him, and the film is very depressing. As shown in 'All the Money in the World', Charlie Plummer is a first-rate actor, but the film is 2 hours long and takes a long time to get going. The scenes of dodgy horse racing and training go on for too long and it is only about half way through that the film comes alive when the 'road movie' with the boy and horse begins.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Tanna

Deserving of its nomination for an Oscar in 2017

(Edit) 23/09/2018

All the parts in this film are played by the tribes people of an island of Vanuatu, who had never seen a film. The story is based on an incident in the tribe's recent history that resulted in a change in their marriage customs and way they resolve conflict with neighbouring tribes. The film tells the story simply and movingly, without patronising or sentimentality, and allows the viewer an intimate look at the lives of the people on this island. The performances of the characters are completely natural and compelling.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Even When I Fall

Important and Well-made Documentary

(Edit) 02/09/2018

An important and well-made documentary that really made me think. The film concentrates on the stories and rehabilitation of two girls from Nepal who were trafficked as children to work as slave labour in ramshackle circuses in India. I was shocked by the scale of the problem, and there were many moving scenes that show how much trust the filmakers must have built up with their subjects. Although the film concerns the worst of human nature; with the help of NGOs, the rescued children are able to look forward to an education and a life with dignity, and above all, working to prevent this kind of exploitation in the future.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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A Fantastic Woman

Good in parts, but ultimately unsatisfying

(Edit) 18/08/2018

Marina is a bit of a cypher - she seldom shows much emotion and has a rather expressionless face. Her deceased lover's family are almost pantomime villains; vicious and deranged with hatred simply because she is trans gender. She is also subjected to terrible indignities by the police but never thinks of getting legal help. From the title sequence I felt the film was going to be a cracker, especially with the use of the beautiful 'Time like a river' by the Alan Parsons Project which was moving and evocative. But the film started to drag a little with some unnecessary fantasy sequences, and by the end I hadn't learned much more about Marina despite watching her for an hour and a half.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Other Side of Hope

An Acquired Taste

(Edit) 30/07/2018

The most recent visit to the weird world of Kaurismaki. It is a kind of dream world that never left the sixties behind, although the story concerns a refugee from Aleppo, Syria who claims asylum in Finland. The super saturated colour of old movies, unusual or grotesque human faces, old Country and Western derived songs performed in Finnish, deadpan humour: these are the hallmarks of Kaurismaki. It all adds up to an acquired taste .

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Completely overrated

(Edit) 22/07/2018

This seems to be a box-ticking exercise. Strong female protagonist , tick. Racist white policeman, tick. Disabled character (albeit peripheral and mocked) , tick. Virtuous black characters (completely peripheral), tick. Plenty of gratuitous violence and swearing, tick.

But the narrative is full of holes and is not credible. And why is the wife of the police chief in a small town in Missouri an Australian??

1 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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I, Tonya

Jokey treatment of the story behind the infamous incident

(Edit) 18/07/2018

This is bull in a china shop film making. It is in your face, unsubtle, in a rush and loud. The jokey tone throughout is jarring, inviting the audience to laugh at the low intellect, barely educated, poor 'white trash' characters. Tonya's early life is one of misery; her father abandons her to her physically and mentally abusive mother, her only escape skating. In order to get away from her mother, she marries her first boyfriend, who soon becomes a wife beater - all this depicted in the same jokey tone. Margot Robbie's performance is adequate, but I felt she is too tall and too pretty to be a really convincing Tonya. In the middle of the action, the characters suddenly talk to the camera. the music is loud and sounds like a jukebox that doesn't have an off switch - relentlessly playing one period song after the other.

1 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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Brad's Status

'Some guys have empires, what do I have'

(Edit) 23/06/2018

This is familiar middle class mid-life crisis territory. One character sums it up when she tells Brad his endless navel-gazing, jealousy and whinging are "white male privilege first class problems". Stiller's frozen, expressionless face is matched by the dull, pedestrian language in Michael White's screenplay: "My mind drifted back to college. Back then I was in love with the world and the world was in love with me. When did we fall out of love with each other? Where did it all go wrong?" There is a lot of that. On the plus side there is a short cameo featuring Jemaine Clement which is funny (unlike the rest of the film), and the musical score by Mark Mothersbaug is outstanding.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Hostiles

A Revisionist Western

(Edit) 11/05/2018

The film is bleak and harrowing and very violent - the only light relief is the extraordinarily beautiful cinematography. At the beginning we are told that Blocker 'has taken more scalps than Sitting Bull himself'. The journey is also Blocker's inner journey to a kind of remorse for his life of killing and perhaps redemption. Unfortunately, the Native American characters are reduced to either murderous savages (the bad ones) or wise sages (the good ones). There are problems with the Rosamund Pike character who is mentally unhinged by the killing of her entire family, but recovers unfeasibly quickly. When she has a chance to return to safety and civilization, she unaccountably rejects it and continues on the trek. The film maker seems to love the violence he decries, and thus undermines the message of the the film.

5 out of 5 members found this review helpful.

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Ingrid Goes West

Satire and thriller which doesn't quite work

(Edit) 06/05/2018

There are two parts to this film, one satirizes the 'perfect' lives people show on Instagram, and the other is a dark stalker thriller along the lines of 'Single White female', which is actually mentioned in the film. But the two sit very uncomfortably together. The satire is not particularly funny because it satirizes the same thing over and over again. Taylor is a superficial butterfly who uses people and curates her life for public view on Instagram. Ingrid is an obsessed stalker who will stop at nothing to insinuate herself into Taylor's life, even murder. She is devious, manipulative and devoid of any compassion; but the film seems to somewhat excuse Ingrid by saying it's all because of these people flaunting the lie of a perfect life on the web. The cast is strong, but the screenplay is problematic and fudges the ending.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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The Florida Project

A test of endurance

(Edit) 02/05/2018

If you find what seems like hours of anti social and criminal behaviour of feral kids interesting; then this one's for you. The Willem Defoe character is unconvincing as the saintly manager of the hotel, who is astonishingly tolerant of the aggressive and offensive behaviour of the single mother of one of the kids, who at one point takes a dirty sanitary towel out of her underwear and sticks it on the plate glass of the reception. The film is sordid, uninteresting, episodic, lacking narrative, and has a predictable pop at the Disney fantasy.

3 out of 4 members found this review helpful.
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