Film Reviews by JR

Welcome to JR's film reviews page. JR has written 69 reviews and rated 146 films.

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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.

3 out of 4 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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Victoria and Abdul

Judi Dench is superb as Victoria

(Edit) 28/04/2018

This is a silly and superficial film rescued by the magnetic screen presence and extraordinary range of Judi Dench as Victoria.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

The Story Behind the Creation of Wonder Woman

(Edit) 25/04/2018

The story of a menage a trois. Marston came across in the film as not particularly intelligent, dogmatic and inflexible in his beliefs, and the actor who played him was too young and too good looking. Elizabeth, his wife, seemed more intelligent, but completely uncompromising, bad tempered and humourless, and it's hard to see why the saintly, mousey Olive, the third part of the manage, is so attracted to her. But what unites them is an obsession with kinky sex. They encounter hostility and prejudice from their work colleagues and neighbours because of their lifestyle, but it's hard to feel much sympathy for them, especially when they leave the door unlocked and a neighbour finds them in flagranto . The effect of their domestic arrangements is on their children is not explored, and the children seem absent a lot of the time so the parents can get on with their sex sessions unemcumbered. Wonder Woman is seen these days as a feminist icon, but she was a male erotic bondage fantasy . For a film that has sado-masochistic sex at its core, the sex scenes are very tame (no nudity) and unerotic.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Battle of the Sexes

Entertaining and far-sighted

(Edit) 21/04/2018

I was expecting a comedy, which it is not, although many of the outrageously sexist things the male characters say seem now to be post feminist irony. It is entertaining, and skips along although over 2 hours long. Steve Carrell as Bobby Riggs is a man who likes to make people laugh by clowning around, and plays up to the male chauvanist pig thing shamelessly in order to make more money on betting on the game. But he is also a pathetically needy and seems to have never been able to leave his childhood behind. The film is concerned with civil rights and as it progresses, becomes more weighty and far-sighted. The parallels with Trump and Clinton are obvious. Stone is convincing as BJ, although the film seems hagiographic; and despite being under huge personal (she discovers her real sexual orientation) and professional pressure as well as being the saviour of women tennis players and women in general, she remains even tempered and civil to the monstrous Riggs.

Great soundtrack from the seventies, and colourful, cringe-worthily accurate fashions.

5 out of 5 members found this review helpful.

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Harmonium

Melodramatic long psychological thriller

(Edit) 18/04/2018

The film genre is psychological thriller. But with big problems. The bad guy is flagged up from the beginning and I predicted the outcome within the first 15 minutes. The plot is full of holes and contrived coincidences, and as the film went on (it goes on for about 2 hours), it descended more and more into mawkish melodrama.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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I Am Not a Witch

Terrible

(Edit) 09/04/2018

Part video installation, part conceptual art school project, a flimsy 'story', bonkers soundtrack of Vivaldi and drumbeats - it's an inauthentic mess.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Goodbye Christopher Robin

Uneven

(Edit) 04/04/2018

The film tells the sad story of the real Christoper Robin. AA Milne was a distant and unpredictable father due to what we now know as post traumatic stress disorder having survived the first world war. Christopher Robin's mother is able to turn on the charm for short periods but has no real interest in her child other than to use him to gain fame and fortune.

This dark portrayal of this highly dysfunctional, if not abusive family, sits uncomfortably against the idealised, upper class idyll of heritage drama; the seemingly endless summer of sunshine dappled woods and peaceful Sussex countyside, lovely houses and interiors and pretty dresses.

The young boy who plays Christopher Robin is outstanding and is completely convincing unlike Gleeson and the miscast Robbie, who play his parents.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

A strange love story

(Edit) 24/03/2018

If I didn't know the film hadn't been based on Peter Turner's memoir, I would not have believed in the love story depicted in the film. Although it's 1987, Gloria behaves like the characters in her black and white films - all boopidoo, pouting and winking and using a little girl voice to create her allure; which may have been acceptable back in the forties, but by 1987 was nauseating . Confusingly, the soundtrack, the clothing and interiors in the film are from the past, ranging from the London boarding house (1900s), the Liverpool house (1930s) Gloria's places in New York and LA (1950s and 60s). Almost nothing in the film gives the flavour and energy of the 80s. There are tantalising mentions of Gloria having seduced her step son when he was a minor before making him husband No.4, and confessions that both had had same sex relationships in the past, but neither is explored in the film. Jamie Bell is excellent, but a cameo with Vanessa Redgrave and Frances Barber steals the show!

7 out of 10 members found this review helpful.

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Call Me by Your Name

Long and pretentious

(Edit) 16/03/2018

The film is very long and very slow. It is peopled by pretentious , smug, beautiful, multilingual intellectuals , who breeze through life waited on by servants. Chalamet's performance is the most affecting, but the film fails to engage the emotions.

0 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Loving Vincent

A Tour De Force

(Edit) 14/03/2018

The film is an artistic and technical tour de force. Magically, it immerses the viewer into the swirly world of Van Gogh's paintings. The narrative is episodic and impressionistic, but humane and compassionate.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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After the Storm

Long, dull family drama

(Edit) 04/03/2018

The protagonist of the film is a deeply unsympathetic character . He seldom pays his child support, he blackmails the people he has been spying on as a private detective; he even steals from his elderly mother, and then fritters the money away at the race track. He is obsessed with trying to impress his young son by buying him expensive gifts, but clearly when he was with the mother of his child, he was a terrible father. Most of the film actually takes place before the typhoon, not after, and with a running time of 117 minutes, it was rather dull as nothing much happens and nothing changes after the storm.

3 out of 6 members found this review helpful.

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Enough Said

A little gem

(Edit) 01/03/2018

The dialogue is witty and intelligent. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini are totally natural and convincing. The film is well constructed and there is nothing superfluous or dull.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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God's Own Country

Brokeback Mountain in Yorkshire

(Edit) 19/02/2018

This is basically a Brokeback Mountain set in Yorkshire. But unlike Brokeback, which looked like and advertisement for Ralph Lauren clothes, this film shows the hardship and isolation of fell farmers. But it's preoccupation with mud, muck and all types of human body fluids was hard to stomach.

2 out of 8 members found this review helpful.

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Borg vs. McEnroe

Great first half, disappointing second

(Edit) 13/02/2018

There is a scene near the beginning of the film where we see Borg shirtless on his high rise balcony overllooking the Mediterranean in Monaco and he's leaning on the railing and he leans further and further over and we see his muscles tense - is he testing his strength or is he contemplating jumping? The primary interest of the film's Swedish makers is the enigmatic Borg, and through multiple flashbacks we learn about his dysfunctional family, the bad behaviour and uncontrollable rages all through his teens. Labbe Bergelin (the excellent Stellan Skarsgard) , the Swedish Davis Cup coach becomes Borg's coach and substitute father, and channels Borg's anger and psychological problems into his game. Sverrir Gudnasson's performance as Borg is completely convincing , especially as he bears an uncanny resemblance to Borg. However, Shia LaBeouf's McEnroe is sketchy and resorts to the Superbrat stereotype. It doesn't help that LeBeouf bears absolutely no resemblance to McEnroe, relying on a dodgy wig (there are rather a lot of them in the film!) to try to convince the audience. The final Wimbledon show down does not convince and goes on for too long. It would have benefited from the addition of original footage .

1 out of 4 members found this review helpful.
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