Film Reviews by PV

Welcome to PV's film reviews page. PV has written 707 reviews and rated 1541 films.

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Mother!

The sort of movie that stupid people think is intelligent...

(Edit) 15/11/2019

Well my review title sums it up. I have seen loads of trite arty tosh like this before, on stage too, and so this is nothing new to me. It ticks all the drama/arts studio pretentious boxes. It thinks it's shocking and profound. It isn't. It's boring, shallow and stupid. AND been done before many MANY times (read Swift's A Modest Propoal).

It's all a bit like the Emperor's Clothes - all the arty crowd think they have to gush about this director and his tedious overfunded arty movies because if they don't they may be left out of the loop. It reminds me of the trash called conceptual art.

If you want to watch a movie of real quality with similar themes then watch ROSEMARY'S BABY or any version of the sublime French masterpiece LES DIABOLIQUES. Not this tripe. Mad women films are ten a penny anyway.

I heard myself yelling OH JUST GET ON WITH IT whenever Jennifer Lawrence gave that mumsy confused look.

Really, this is like what happens when a bad A level Art student gets a budget of a few million dollars to inflict their talentless turgid tosh on a world already full of it.

This may well work in a poncey New York drama studio. It does not work on film. The acting here is stagey and theatrical too, with all the emoting etc.

The sort of movie that stupid people think is intelligent - and deep and profound and the rest. BUT IT ISN'T. It's up itself and then some.

1 star and a half, for the production values. And great old feem toon at the end. DON'T YOU KNOW IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD. No, but I felt relieved when I got to the end of this pretentious borefest of a movie.

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The Sisters Brothers

Over-long but Interesting Western based on a novel

(Edit) 12/11/2019

This movie is too long, and the first half drags. However, it then started to get really interesting - for me, anyway.

If you're expecting endless fast action, you'll be disappointed. This is a movie based on a long slow book, and it is a bit long and slow.

John C Reilly is a superb actor (his turn as Oliver Hardy should perhaps have won him best actor Oscar) and the events fascinate.

Not everyone's cup of tea, and that first half hour needs patience. But I enjoyed it.

Maybe watch with old classic McKenna's Gold.

3 stars

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Brightburn

Superhero movie which owes a lot to Superman and The Omen II

(Edit) 11/11/2019

I am not a fan of superhero movies but this looks interesting and has got great reviews, so I gave it a go.

Initially I enjoyed it, but things get sillier as the movie proceeds until it's all more cartoon than drama with real-life characters.

The best film I have ever seen on the same theme is The Omen II - best views after watching the brilliant original. I found that far more interesting dramatically and thematically.

But then I am sure the superhero fan kids will love this.

For me it was OK - but no more than 3 stars.

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Pet Sematary

Predictable Horror with Annoying People and a Lovely Fluffy Cat

(Edit) 11/11/2019

This film is so full of horror movie tropes and cliches it sometimes feels like a cut-and-paste job. But then Stephen King was never original - he always just takes horror tropes and updates them. We all know what to expect and what's a-coming.

SO we get the usual jumps and scary, a native Indian sacred place (think Poltergeist), scary kids, weird old local with secrets, a graveyard, dead coming back to life like zombies or Frankenstein's monster, whispering voices, a dark scary forest and, of course, that cat - my favourite character in the movie by far, though I couldn't help noticing its resemblance to the cat in the Specsavers vet/cat/hat ad.

Why are cats in Hollywood movies always evil and dogs always good? Someone should write a PhD on that.

A well-made horror though and I enjoyed it for the hokum it all was, so 3 stars.

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Glue

Very Self-indulgent Teen Movie Set in Patagonia with VIOLENT FEMMES soundtrack

(Edit) 11/11/2019

I was intrigued by so much music by the band Violent Femmes in this movie as I actually saw them live many years ago. A very odd juxtaposition to have those songs set against the desolate landscape of Patagonia, at the far south of Argentina. That was intriguing. The rest of the movie was, well, dull,

The usual teenage angst and self-obsession, in a rather coy way.

But oh that main character just SO annoying - I don't think he's meant to be. But I just kept hoping he'd disappear somehow - maybe on a ranch somewhere in Patagonia. And boy his poems and the music of his band are really so bad.

I see this was funded by a European charity fund, and I suppose such an unusual movie (for the setting and soundtrack only) make it a worthy addition to the archive. But I'd rather pay folding money not to have to suffer the insufferable lead character again.

2 stars

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A Syrian Love Story

Very biased one-sided view of the Syrian conflict, more about marriage breakdown though.

(Edit) 30/10/2019

Hmmm well, this is a documentary best-suited to TV rather than state-funded film by an insider. It's more about a marriage breaking down than a war, and this is not an impartial documentary about the Syrian conflict.

The problem is, the film maker is totally biased. The fact is that many who rose up against Assad were extremists and Islamists, not liberal freedom fighters at all, and we can now see it was wrong to back them. The West should have done a deal with Assad. Better the devil you know. Look at the chaos in Libya to see that.

Too partisan then, and one-sided, typically short-sighted in its support of Arab Spring revolutionaries. If the West had dealt with Assad then Syria would not have been destroyed and its people killed or made refugees. And there is an assumption here that all Syrians should be let as refugees into Europe - something many people very much disagree with. WHY don;t they move east to other Muslim countries eh?

No doubt this sort of thing goes down well at leftwing film festivals though, and this sort of stuff always gets the public funding - the director is an insider used to getting state funding though.

Should have been a TV programme, on Channel 4 probably. Maybe next time make a TV doc about Islamist extremists (who also torture and murder) who now rule in countries were dictators have been overthrown. Maybe make one about the Israel-hating and anti-Semitism is many Palestinian activists.

2 stars. Just.

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Kursk: The Last Mission

So-so true take of submarine disaster

(Edit) 28/10/2019

This movie is unusual as it shows Brits as heroes and not villains, the usual trope. Maybe because it's not really a Hollywood movie and is full of German actors and the aged Max von Sydow as a Soviet era Navy boss.

As per usual, when what happened on the sub is unknown and as we all know what happened in the end, there has to be a lot of stuff invented and events to create narrative structure. These are sometimes successful but at other times seem forced.

I suppose an inevitable comparison is to be made with superior drama such as Chernobyl, and this film looks a bit B-movie by comparison.

But it's worth a look. 2.5 stars rounded up.

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A Dog's Journey

Tooth-rottingly saccharine, sentimental, schmaltzy reincarnated dog movie - not for me.

(Edit) 26/10/2019

To call this a bit sentimental would be like calling Hitler a bit extreme. This is PURE schmaltz - slushy, baked to tooth-rotting sweetness with social issues and a wickle child to make it even more cutesy.

I was willing to give it a go and knew it'd be a bit like this, having watched the first film, a Dog's Purpose, but this is really full-on schmaltz, so much so it becomes unbearable.

Probably this appeals more to American audiences, women, and anyone who's so spiritual they seriously believe in reincarnation.

It is based on a best-selling book BUT I dislike the first person narrative, and simply do not believe it is the dog speaking or the dog's thoughts - some cutesy observations in it but would a dog really know the names of people or words like cup, house etc. I like books like A CAT CALLED DOG where cleverly animals make up their own words for things - like wheel-box for car, or smoke-stick for cigarette.

It all depends what you like, I suppose - but movies and books like this really do not deserve their massive success, imho.

I also disliked the predictable political correctness here - the #MeToo movement seems to have created a situation where every single movie has main female characters now, which is a real new stereotype and cliche, and one which is not progress at all.

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Toy Story 4

Watchable and fun movie, with scary bits + some good gags. But VERY sentimental + romantic

(Edit) 26/10/2019

This is a watchable movie, for sure. The thing is, after watching it, I found I had almost forgotten it - unlike the classic first Toy Story which is memorable.

Having said that, there are some great new characters especially a Canadian motorbike man and some scary dolls.

Forky the spork (what used to be called a runcible spoon in Britain in the 19th century, mentioned in the poem The Owl and the Pussycat), is an odd new character but starts off well and is interesting. I liked the first plot point, as usual around the 24th or 25th minute. The entire movie starts strongly, but the second half gets a bit gloopy and romantic really, for me anyway.

I suppose it was predictable in this post-MeToo age that so many female characters would be to the fore, and the child not Andy as in the first, but a cutesy young girl. There is the required ethnic diversity too ticking boxes. BUT the movie is WOODY'S to steal and he does - though I couldn't get Jessie the cow girl's resemblance to Greta Thurnberg out of my head, which was a little disturbing... The ever-dim BUZZ had a funny routine with his buttons too.

The characters have their arcs and develop, if a little predictably., and it's all schmaltzy romantic in the end - which I disliked, but many audiences will go AHHHH! at.

Two questions: 1) why are cats in Hollywood movies, even decent CGI ones as in this, always portrayed as evil baddies (dogs are usually goodies); 2) How can such a big budget movie made by thousands over years have a MASSIVE continuity error in it (look around the 1 hour mark in the case of the antiques shop to see a character just vanish after moving towards Woody).

But a good watch and I enjoyed it. 3.5 stars rounded up BUT not as totally profound as some gushing critics claimed.

Stay watching over the end credits for some funny character scenes.

3 out of 5 members found this review helpful.

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Miss Marie Lloyd: Queen of the Music Hall

Flawed Biopic of late 19th C/early 20th C Great Music Hall Singer

(Edit) 21/10/2019

One thing which makes this TV drama enjoyable is the wonderful classic songs from Music Hall - some real classic which have lasted. The songs steal the show, basically.

However, this also feels padded out and you can almost hear it ticking the pc boxes - it makes Marie Lloyd almost a cartoon character victim of a series of selfish man, so removes from her agency which, paradoxically, makes it all rather sexist. People make choices, as did she - always presenting women as victims of men infantlises them. The actress playing her is great, though.

Some plotholes here - characters come and go, and we never find out what happened to them - some more biographical detail at the end would have been a help (eg how old was she at the end?)

A totally unnecessary token black music hall narrator adds nothing at all, merely pads it all out. It just doesn't work. Ticking pc boxes often doesn't. Reminded me of the great video for ATOMIC by BLONDIE - watch from the start to see how a ringmaster can introduce a song or drama well. Here,. the character is just a 2-D token to tick boxes and adds nothing. But this is a BBC drama...

So not too bad - could have been done in an hour not 90 minutes though. 3 stars.

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Vikings: Series 1

Enjoyable but Definitely Not Historically Accurate 8th Century Violent Viking Drama

(Edit) 18/10/2019

This generally enjoyable series has strength and weaknesses.

It's well-filmed and acted, esp the Floki and monk characters, and has lots of battle action etc. Easy-to-follow plot, though NOT historically accurate at all, for sure. It;s all imagined. I do worry some younger viewers will watch such dramas and think it all fact.

However, we yet again see 'Wonder Woman' scenes - to placate the #MeToo demands. The fact is that Viking warriors were men, not women, and a woman defeating several armed male attackers is absurd. BUT this series does not indulge in such pc casting and scenes as much as some virtue-signalling TV dramas, which absurdly cast black actors as 16th century English dukes!

The strength for me in this drama is seen through the eyes of the Lindisfarne monk taken as a slave - the moral questioning of barbaric 8th century Viking traditions which he struggles with but which the Nordic communities accept as absolutely normal. That moral ambiguity is interesting, as if the Vikings are aliens to be understood for traditions which would disgust and horrify more 'civilised' people in England (France is mentioned as wealthy here so I expect the Vikings will rock up there in future series).

Just a note: this is set in late 8th century when Britain and England was indeed prosperous with resources and Christian BUT England was not united until Alfred the Great (who died in 900 AD) and his son.

However, I suspect the portrayal of English warriors as rubbish fighters compared to Vikings is silly as ALL warriors back then would have assumed heaven awaited them if they died in battle.

I expect future series to show the Vikings as peaceful farmers which most were - many years ago I went to a British Museum exhibition about the Vikings which made that clear.

People should remember that the Vikings influenced the development of Britain - it's in the place names, for a start, all over Britain, Wales, Scotland and England.

I watched this after the absurd series Britannia, and this is not quite as OTT or fantastic as that, though some of it is clearly designed to appeal to a Game of Thrones audience who like blood and violence and sex scenes. Sometimes the tropes are pure horror movie.

Overall 3 stars.

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Friday Download: The Movie

So-so Cartoonish Teen Haunted House Caper based on a Tweenager TV show. With The Vamps + bands.

(Edit) 13/10/2019

This is all what it says on the tin. A spin-off of a teen TV show I have never seen, or maybe a tweenager show, as fans seem mostly 10/11 year ols girls. Anyway, it's standard Haunted House teen caper stuff - so many movies like that. And then there was the Double Deckers of the early 70s.

The Vamps are a good band/ Bars and Melody were a flash in the X-factor pan and this is now 5 years old, so no doubt the little rapper doesn't look like an angel any more (prob the blond singer should go solo as he can sing!)

All predictable and watchable. Not awful. A wafer-thin plot which probably makes little sense if you analyse it, so don't, or you may well fall down a hole, a rabbit one or not...

Some obvious comedy and visual gags. A Pythoneque polieman sketch with David Mitchell (not the literary author...)

Filmed at Bay Studios Swansea and Margam Park (like Da Vinci's Demons).

Almost gave it 2 stars but it has some charm so 3 stars.

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Westworld

Brilliant, influential, Classic 1970s fantasy fiction, in which Yul Brynner's star shines

(Edit) 11/10/2019

This is a classic movie from 1973 - pure 1970s. With the flares and polo-necked sweaters, the slo-mo filming, the Sam Pekinpah fake red blood and gore, the zooms to close up and the huge computers with reels of tape! Nothing ages so fast as a vision of the future. It is as 70s as movies like The Towering Inferno or The Poseidon Adventure - an utter classic of the time.

Yul Bynner is perfectly cast as a killer robot black-hatted gunslinger in is best role other than The King and I (stage and screen). Utterly fixed stare and a killer-mission walk and completely believable.

This Theme-Park-Gone-Wrong story was used by the writer and director here Michael Crichton for his novel Jurassic Park - and, interesting, the movie (not the book) also steals a 'stay still and he won't see you' scene.

The special effects may make some laugh BUT they are damn good actually and much preferable to the omnipresent CGI-fests of now which resembles computer games. This movie won the first ever Oscar for special effects, I believe, too.

I watched this as a kid in late 70s or early 80s, and remember clearly the snake scene and Yul Brynner's brilliant killer robot cowboy. That is the mark of a great iconic movie - it stays in the memory. I enjoyed it more than most movies released now, and this film is thankfully short - these days it'd be 2 and a half hours not 88 minutes - and they'd ruin it with token female and black characters, you just know it. Thankfully we have this to treasure and love.

The TV series Westworld is worth a watch and develops this idea with a more metaphysical and philosophical edge. However, for a succinct and entertaining ride, watch this.

5 stars. Classic, iconic, brilliant.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Britannia: Series 1

Silly, Bonkers, pc, metoo, diverse Early Britain TV drama featuring wonder woman warriors.

(Edit) 06/10/2019

OK so here's the thing, do NOT in any way think this portrays reality, or real early British history, or the reality of what women and men did in Early British tribes - this is a massive pc fantasy, a sort of Iron Age Wonder Woman, with so many 'strong and confident' women behaving like men in roles men would have filled, not usually women, who would have been back the huts having babies, caring for kids and doing domestic tasks. BUT the pc BBC's Bodyguard and most TV drama is equally absurd on this sexist virtue-signalling level these days too, and as for Hollywood metoo movies...

The technique of using a girl character (who is aggressive, confident, rude and swears) is a big misfire. In fact all women characters here are straight out of a 21st century metoo meeting - no woman then or even 50 years ago would have been so mouthy, aggressive, pushy, forceful BUT NOW that is a new stereotype and every movie and TV drama simply must have its sassy 'strong' women. Yawn.

The Druids trained up BOYS only, actually, AND were not the weirdos portrayed here, but priests and also they controlled trade - why the Romans massacred 30,000 of em in Wales (Anglesey/Mon) because they controlled the gold trade. The Romans came to Britain itself as it was rich, prosperous and PEACEFUL - with gold, tin, lead, iron, freshwater pearls AND fertile land to grow grain to feed the Roman army. That is historical fact. This is less historically accurate than Star Trek. AND REMEMBER TOO the English language did not exist until 600AD approx. and England is named after it; these people would have spoken BRYTHONIC (early Welsh really).

There are also of course black characters in main roles, despite no evidence for that in any Roman history of Britain, though Roman soliders did come from everywhere (but not Jamaica...). This therefore looks like the new diverse series of Midsomer Murders and about as realistic a portrayal of the British countryside. If this had been made 20+ years ago without all the pc metoo diversity worship and ethnic quotas, and shoehorning of issues, it would have been better. Think Lawrence of Arabia (NO women in that movie AT ALL).

It's also filled with lots of mystic nonsense. But that is done way better in DA VINCI'S DEMONS and Roman life portrayed far better in old BBC2 TV series ROME (also HBO I think?). That was much more entertaining with better fight scenes too.

The directing is rather plodding. Some dialogue and scenes are laugh-out-loud unintentionally funny!

Moderately entertaining and amusing in parts, but in the 2nd division. 2 stars.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Fighting with My Family

Predictable Wrestling Britflick all about Wrestling

(Edit) 05/10/2019

This is one of the few films I failed to finish - got halfway through then ejected. Maybe because I HATE all the WWE wrestling nonsense - it bores me senseless. Maybe if I were a fan I'd think it was all CHAVTASTIC? Who knows.

Predictable film, with a few top lines - and Nick Frost always worth a watch, but Stephen Merchant always irritatingly smug.

The whole thing was also a bit depressing in a chavvy way - that people get so obsessed about this awful faked 'sport'. Lots of Norwich jokes - I wouldn't be happy if I were from there!

Lost interest. So 2 stars- 1 for a couple of funny lines (the one about Nazis in films made me laugh) and set-ups/scenes; 1 for Nick Frost.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
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